I wrote these  poems last winter. Amazingly, no one used them  to prevent the crisis of credit and confidence among banks and others.

I,  for better or worse, still remain fully invested in poetry/music. I wouldn’t be surprised if David Petraeus, who has a pretty wide-ranging mind, has already read Brian Turner’s  2005 collection,  Here, Bullet.  It’s probably the best report from wartime Irag that we have — but only in the sense that the human race (as opposed to, say,  poets or English teachers) still doesn’t heed the ghost of Wilfrid Owen.

The talented Petraeus  — for better and worse — has a job to do. To do it well, he must even use the long view in service of the short- or medium-term view. Despite the PR, I don’t think he’s a surge type.

My job?  Well make what you may of this. Perhaps thinking of the shorter one as a quasi-synopsis of the longer (first) poem will help….

Death: The Return


Was he ever gone? you ask.

No blame. Who can complain
if worldly characters consume
The Post rather than Prokofiev  or Poe?
Sergei Who? Tu Fu? Anna Akhmatova? We know
of Rwanda, Cambodia, Buchenwaldia,
Stalin and all the rest of the dirty laundry
beneath the suits of tasteless leaders.
Compare us not, they bark, to puny commuters
lost in that Post or worse American idylls.

Worldly. Death
is not as Darfur away as we thought.
Kennst du das land?
It is hiding in your genes, off
the Arctic shelf, and in all the other
usual suspect places. No news there.

You are discerning,
yet you are disappearing
as one by one farmers die,
journalists die, schoolgirls die,
soldiers not one by one, babies,
spiritualists, realists and corporate crooks.
Nor will the irascible Bob Dylan
be with you when the deal goes down.
All the satellite sports channels
will go down simultaneously,
and later all the rest, one at a time.
The remote will lose control.

Things are that bad.
The positioned among us
will hop a plane to Vegas, the crafty
become entrepeneurs of crisis.
Anasazi ghosts will not comment on this.
What will I do?
I cannot say, nor even what I:
My tongue is crusty and when
the aliens come, it will be lunch meat.
I wanted to ask John Coltrane, John Constantine,
and Cavafy, but they too were lunchmeat.

I waited; the bell tolled; John Donne rose up
and yelled songs unfit for a family newspaper.
Death strolled through the renovated town homes
and ghost towns smiling like a realtor, whistling
a tune that Mozart ripped out of his Requiem.



The Burning of the Moon


It was near the end
of the year 2007
of the common era.
(Ay, madam….)

The Tower of Babel had been prologue.
The Industrial Revolution, precondition.

The new common era had begun
with World War One,

reaching a climax
with Polish smokestacks
and mushrooms clouding Japan.
The world did not stop turning.

We are moving on
in common direction,

and still
you be asking
Why is the night red?
Why is the moon burning?