Fooled by the Moon
And happy beyond all silliness
The birds and I
Sing glorias to a false dawn.
To find ourselves awake again
And singingly alive
On this Spring day.
Promises are not the point.
"It happens now," we sing,
The birds and I.
The clock does not compute,
Only the Moon that proves
An absent Sun
Can work this magic
Build Your House of Adobe
I remember how you spoke of your desire
to build your house of adobe. The train
speeds through the place, and I recall, wishing
we could stop. "There's one," I cry.
Perfectly plain, molded to fit the landscape.
Fashioned from the landscape. The stream beds here
are moist with remnants of spring rain
and red clay waiting for your hands.
Here, where I imagine you'd have built, the colors
are intense. Lush, if bare earth could be spoken of
as lush. Hot and harsh the winds that nourish
a loneliness that one might choose for its simplicity.
New Mexico is not a place for many men. I only
pass through on my way to greener spots. My grandpa
chose it as a place to die. Others choose to live.
You would have chosen that; you were not old.
If you had built your house, someday it would stand
abandoned like that one over there. The roof gone,
the walls shading no one except a few small reptiles--
ruins of a hundred years, or only ten?
The ugliness of men is taken care of by the weather,
how soon depends on how we make it. Build your house
of adobe, and it will stand for as long as you use it,
no more. But when it falls, it still belongs.
The ruins of adobe shelters slide back to earth,
like that 200 year old church whose lumpy outlines
decorate the slow horizon. Speeding on, the train
rushes to take us far from all this emptiness.
I know why you wished to build your adobe house.
You would have lived there for awhile as you lived here--
alone. But afterwards leaving no trace, the clay
would crumble and erode back to where it always was.
Doug Died, She Said
There are some I know whose death
might bring me slight regret,
but when I heard of yours I felt
a long sadness.
It was in the midst of a fall festival
of people, babies, dogs, trinkets
for sale, ethnic foods, and music--all day music
imported from Peru outside our book store.
& the woman came in and spilled
the news all over us, this death
of one who, at the very least, did
no-one any harm, and much that was good.
& when last you left us, I was afraid
for this, because you were looking
for the book Final Exit & wanted to know
the best way to do you in.
But we had no answers, & certainly
not the book. Usually, it was a new
language you wanted to learn
& we could sell you Swedish or
Norwegian, because learning them was fun
for you. & when some Swiss kids came
in our door, you'd talk to them
in German, showing our tourists not all
Americans are fools & also listening
in German because you wanted to learn
what others thought of politics
& economics. & you chose to live
(When you chose to live) in Tijuana
among people you loved & could help
as a rich American on S.S.I. &
because the rent was cheap. & when
The peso crashed & her restaurant failed,
you helped your former lover find a job
up here managing McDonalds & took care
of her kids whom you loved as your own.
But what I remember best is your smile
(when you smiled). Because your face
was guileless as a blind man who has never
seen his face & doesn't know it is
An ugly face, pock marked & awkward,
useless as a facade to protect him as
others use their faces who know what
they are for. No, your smile
Was an event that served no purpose,
brought on only by an inside pleasure
in an idea, a friendship,
a new possibility. There are no more
Possibilities now. Depression is an ugly
disease & you fought it as long
as you could. You finished the nursing
course, but when it came time
To take the State Boards, you lost
hope. It may have been your last
hope. The woman who told me (she said she was
your friend) believes it was your heart.
I also believe it was your heart. You had
too much of it. But it did not fail. I know
you put a stop to it yourself. Alone
in your Tijuana room where no-one
Would find you for days, you gave up.
You could see too much you could
do nothing about. There was no autopsy.
The only reason people die is the heart
Stops beating. But she is outraged
only that they stole from you. "They
cleaned out everything," she says. "All
his books. They even took his shoes."
"He has no need of shoes any more," I
said. But she went on hating the Mexicans.
Blaming them for taking your shoes, blaming
them for your death. She won't
Believe you were a suicide. She went out
screaming against the Mexican music outside
the door. "It's Peruvian music," I said.
You would have liked it.
Copyright © 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Duplication of this
poetry and/or art without permission of the author/artist is forbidden
under copyright law. Please ask permission if you wish to use for
Monday, December 13, 2004