Tag Archives: Fate

Jacob’s Ladder

Sometimes a ladder falls
and you move one way or another,
not realizing until afterwards

that your instincts or your luck
saved you (unless, of course,
you were on the ladder).

The relief your split-second decision causes
is strong, but will be replaced at some point
by questions about the next ladder,

for all the laws that govern these things,
probability, fate, circumstance,
cannot be tempted or relied upon.

What will happen to us
and how much worse would it
if we knew?


Magellan at rest

In the smoke of my bath, half-sleeping
there seem to be waters full of timber
and fish without eyes.

These waters run fastest in mid-stream
where the swirl almost turns on itself
pulling in all directions
while still moving strongly towards the sea.
The boats around me are broken
there are no boats steaming or sailing today.

On the banks scavengers wait.
From the corner of my eye I see a movement
but by the time I turn the flash of speed and color has gone.

It’s hot here, the sort of heat that makes evaporation
form clouds a few feet from the ground.
Everything’s damp to the touch
growing, shrinking or living precariously between those two states.

Somewhere above the tree-line birds circle
huge and grotesque.
Like badly-formed animals with the benefit of flight
they stumble through the air on short muscled wings.
Few have feathers, most look plucked for the pot;
where are the men with stomachs
grown strong enough to eat these dishes?

Fate is the hunter

A small man is sitting in a bar on 48th Street and Broadway.

He is small in head and body as well as in feet which barely reach the wooden floor.

However he is seen to be a man by the age on his face and the sort of clothing that separates men from boys.

Therefore he is a small man sitting in the corner of the bar at a table and alone.

A woman who may be older than him but also may be younger leaves her serving station and approaches him to take his order.

She did not see him enter the bar nor sit at the table alone.

These facts that she attributes to the idea that perhaps he is stealthy as well as small,

Or just one of those faceless people who all along have faces but are thought to be mostly invisible.

She asks him what he would like:

“What would you like?”, she asks him.

He answers in a voice pushed down in register as though his larynx is carefully weighted by a block of stolen lead.

“A glass of beer and the last moment of your time,”


Late on a Monday night
and beneath a bed
(large enough to cause
the muscles in the back
of a middle-aged man
to become badly twisted
when he tries to lift it)
a stray cat hides in the exact
center as though the spot there
was measured by machinery
far more expensive than this ordinary
household will ever afford.

As a consequence
of the effort required
to remove this shabby animal
from the place it hoped
would afford a warm reprieve
from a Texan night in January
the bed frame is separated
from the little coasters its feet stand on
and many pillows
are scattered on the floor
as if crumpled clouds
unhooked from their regular sky.

Foolishly (and having consigned
the stray cat to the darkness)
a father with his back stiffening
mentions over a mother’s shoulder
to a ten year old boy
lying in another bed altogether
the details of his previous struggle
and thus does the boy
in a desperate effort to delay
a similar erasure of the light
beg for a moment
to see the wreckage for himself.

The mother suggests otherwise
but in doing so (suggesting,
rather than denying the request
with proper and sufficient authority)
she signals to the child
that his way up the stairs
to his parents’ bedroom
is in fact wide open
and within the single minute
it takes for the father to leave
and then come back again
the boy seizes his chance to run.

Later, not much later,
(but in a little while longer
than both parents’ naively anticipate)
the child hears the father’s footsteps finally
coming up the uncarpeted stairs
to find his son and this sound
causes the boy to suddenly appear
and in passing and casually
does he hold up his right hand
and mention he is cut
and indeed it appears most certainly
that blood is thereby leaking.

It transpires (beyond the wall
the father is listening through)
that the boy had become distracted
by a pair of scissors
and attempted
to cut open an item
encased in plastic packaging
and it was this unnecessary task
that led him to the little snip
(that consumer’s circumcision)
deeply and across his fingertip
that his mother pale and aflutter
now tries to staunch.

All the while and as the clock ticks
the boy explains the event
and commentates in great detail
as to the mother’s remedial actions.
He asks to lick the Neosporin
that is applied to the wound
and apologizes politely
when his request is angrily rejected.
All in all it is a good test
for his worried mother
who is completely torn between
his injury and evident procrastination.

In the dark of the garden
the stray cat observes the bathroom light
and the racoons that are gathering
and the possum that may have leprosy
according to an article in the local paper
the cat has certainly not read.
A train goes by its whistle blowing
while the temperature continues to fall
and Fate glides on thinking to itself alone
how people only consider its presence
in times of great or dreadful import
when in fact it is always and everywhere at work.

Lunch in India


In April was the jackal born,
in June the rain-fed rivers swelled:
“Never in all my life,” said he,
“have I so great a flood beheld.”

Goodyear is in India.
Historic Bucks County,
Lahaska, Pennsylvania.
Eating a good lunch of Balti Kebab.

Listening to the tabla
and the sitar woven deeply
as they always seem to be
in their musical marriage.

Not working
in a conventional setting
somehow leads him out
to lunch often.

And beyond the food and people
he also likes to visit
places other than America
for an hour.

Yesterday was Japanese
Ota-Ya, today Cross Culture
a Sikh establishment with many turbans
and very red chairs.

He is cheering up, eating
his young slaughtered sheep,
and his mouth burns with cayenne
not guilt, although that will come later.

It is precisely one o’clock
in the year two thousand
and mistakenly he believes
all that is hard has been left behind.

Many years afterwards in the now of it
he will read his notes from that day
and be grateful how little foresight
any of us is allowed to possess.

He has a coffee and leaves
a generous tip. All is well,
as it will often seem to be
just before the point tips.

In front of him lies a suburban plague
some of his own making
some simply because of life
dressed up instead as fate.

A decade will pass before
he opens this notebook again,
but no longer will he lunch out
with eyes so barely open.




Darwin in San Diego

I can see
two birds
or two seals say
two of just about

anything (like maybe
Noah knew
after all)

dancing their
little dance
or swimming their
silly song

and almost entirely dumb
as it turns out
purely matter
collected there

rotating through
the automatic cycles
of so many cells
and strands of DNA.

Fated some would say
doomed but mightily
concerned within
their capability

to be so
because they must be
and there’s nothing else
but doing what they can.