These are the voices…

reflection
These are the voices we hear in solitude:
Confusions of reality
Desires that go against our nature
Manufactured importance
Lies told with unblinking eyes

These are the voices we cannot hear:
A call to lay down all arms
The silence of integrity
Ghosts of passions that will not die
Truth in the teeth of a powerful lie

These are the voices we cannot speak:
Kaleidoscopes of misunderstanding
Songs in newly-invented keys
Garblings of infancy
An honorable end

These are the voices we cannot avoid:
A helping hand in a bitter storm
Admitting we were wrong
Admitting we were right
Admitting we are in love

flowers

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!

Spraying Hope

Walking up Park Avenue the other day I made a right turn on 55th Street and headed east. There was a young couple walking in the other direction, holding hands, engaged in a serious conversation. 
As we got close to each other I saw him let go of her hand with an attitude of disgust and turn away. It was hard to gauge the degree of anger from such brief exposure but I gave them a wide berth.

It feels like anger is everywhere these days and growing more dangerous all the time. A garbage truck leaking brown water from its trough came between me and the sun.
When I got to the corner I turned and looked back to see the couple smiling and hugging and spraying hope like a busted fire hydrant.

Stuyvesant Square

I
We walked around Stuyvesant Square in the shadows of the Seventeenth Century to a room with a wound that we watched become worse, consuming its host, bloody, raw, and hopeless. We asked a man we met there about instruments for burning things that grow and die and live again inside of us. We looked to the rooms where we were young lovers. We ate and drank from wells deep in Asia. We walked and we talked over misunderstandings and under the scaffolding under the sun. We drank to the memories of dreams dead and living and futures impossible to avoid.
II
We listened to a man and a woman describing a child’s game being played by grown men. We held onto each other, or pretended we did, and carried the home in our hearts through the streets, reciting the atheist’s prayer. We listened to pictures and danced with strange creatures that might have been parts of ourselves. We passed by the steel and the flesh and the trees where the sun was so shattered that we couldn’t speak.
III
And all of the time she knew that I loved her.
And all the time I knew the same.
And we knew even more that nothing we saw could ever change all we had been.

CitySketch: Trees

The trees of the city – not the ones in the parks but the ones in the sidewalks and courtyards, surrounded by concrete – watch over us the way our elders always have, with understanding and indulgence.
They say, “It is possible to survive even the strangulation of your roots.”
They say, “Make a home in me, little birds, and let your hatchlings grow here.”
They say, “Take some oxygen; it’s free.”
They say, “We are all going to die. It’s OK. We may all live again. Who’s to say?”

CitySketch: Pomona

Pomona by Nicolas Fouche, circa 1700

Across a street that is more like a driveway to the Plaza Hotel stands this statue of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit trees, orchards, and gardens. 
Pomona is one of the few Roman deities who doesn’t have a Greek counterpart. She stands on top of the Pulitzer Fountain in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza, the source of the hotel’s name.
Pomona has kept her eye on the southeast corner of Central Park for more than a century.