Four Months Later

Four months later,
they sit surrounded by
legalistic redundancies
that line the walls
and wear starched shirts
stained with dinginess.

Mirrors to the guilty,
hot mics amplify
“yes’s,” “no’s” and “that’s correct;”
Each one another
scoop of soil
tossed onto love long dead.

Like big-city coroners,
two women toil desensitized;
Typing and filing away past lives
organized by case numbers
while one wonders how they smile
after tasks of such undertaking.

Presiding on high,
the commissioner:
“Your Honor” reduced
to non-judgmental echo
of time-wasting
paperwork mazes.

With a final query
and consequential affirmation,
“I do” digresses to “I did”
as the stenographer
drops a rose
with one last keystroke.

And outside,
two balloons
catch diverging updrafts
and float freely
having been released
from a debilitating tangle.

February, 2004

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From a Leafless Perch

From a leafless perch
set back
on the bank
of a concrete stream,

it watches
with a graceful gaze
as rainbow blurs of steel
swim past
at 80 miles a second.

Lifting one
and then the other,
its talons clasp tight
atop the birch
as a cold clip blows:
Nor’easter off the lake.

Generations long since past
spent their days
stalking
from tree to tree
in a gray sky
sprinkled with snowflakes.

But today, it waits
with a priest’s patience
and casts its graceful gaze
to the wrong side of the stream
where another victim of the sprawl
laps at the dust of the bone-dry bed, then
crosses.

And as two worlds collide,
it tightens its grip
before
letting go and lifting off

from a leafless perch
set back
on the bank
of a concrete stream.

January, 2004