Ducks

dux

I came across this beautiful creature, a Mandarin duck, in Central Park yesterday.

The accompanying poem, by F.W. Harvey, was written while the poet was a prisoner during the first World War. The inspiration for it came from a drawing of ducks on water that another prisoner had scratched out in chalk on the wall over his bed.
I

From troubles of the world I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath white wings
By water cool,
Or finding curious things
To eat in various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
– Left! Right! – with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they (white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
Wide waterway …
When night is fallen you creep
Upstairs, but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars.
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
And water-lilies:
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they’ve no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien
The hold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.

II

Yes, ducks are valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
Quack!
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water’s edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying ‘Quack! quack!’

III

When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves – quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good – even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came out of its bill!

For Remembering Mary

Another day is cocked and ready to fly
Yesterday another somebody died
but this somebody knew me when I was young
She saw you come into this world
and held your father’s hand to help him cross the street
when he was a child
Those were the days before

The sky, appropriately somber, greets another desperate dawn
where soldiers fight the same old fight
and those who know better lie to our face

Soon I will put my head down again
and watch the sidewalk slip past
but I will take this slice of time
for remembering Mary
before beginning the days after

 

mary2

2018…

sp

Today
is the last day
of the worst year
of my life

The only comfort is so small
that it is no comfort at all:
that next year will be even worse
as will each one that follows

There is no road ahead, just a path
with cliffs on either side
and the disorienting knowledge of
the ugliness of self-pity

Giving Thanks

Thank you for trusting me with your secrets
I will do what it takes to make sure they’re kept safe

Thank you for listening to my stories
And for knowing which ones were for you alone

Thank you for helping me guide my strength
And overcome my weakness

Thank you for letting me into those spaces
You built as a delicate child

And thank you for entering those spaces of mine
And exploring them with sympathy

IMG_3297

The Specter of Certain Death

I

The specter of certain death raises its head again but this time it’s as a punch line. We can share a laugh with nothing more than eye contact now. How could something as heartless as time perform such a sweet service?

II

The best of us have flaws while the worst carry the seeds of redemption, waiting for sunshine and moisture to set them free.

III

Even if the day comes when there is no place in your life for me
and that could happen
(let’s not fool ourselves)
I can’t imagine a day when there’s not enough emptiness in me to fit you.

IMG_1852

One of these days

I’m going to ride on the back of those clouds
one of these days
even if it rips the skip from my bones
and grinds me down to hamburger

I’m going to feel quicksilver in my veins
and wildfire in my intestines
even if all of my hair falls out
and my bones turn into mush

I’m going to swallow an ocean of you
one of these days

clouds