By: Frank H. Coons
Failed Promises at the Reading
I am supposed to tell them why they were born Anna Swir
They have come to hear
what my companion and I have written.
Twenty-five pairs of eyes who know
we can’t tell them why they were born.
And yet, there is a glimmer of expectation,
that even if we don’t have the key,
we can describe the lock. How maybe,
we have heard new rumors about the answer,
or heard the question rephrased.
We speak our words. We move
our lips and gesticulate, as if
the next line might contain an inkling.
It doesn’t. Still, they listen, stanza to stanza,
willing petitioners in the company
of the uncertain & unknowing.
Our words are nimble enough and carefully chosen.
We leave a little open space for reflection.
A rare bird flies off, a small storm
rustles the pages. Somewhere, a man’s hands
are bleeding, a pomegranate is knifed
in two on a white cutting board.
But there is no answer to the riddle tonight,
not from us, here in this room of inquisitors.
Maybe next month…
and a month so bleak
we rely on a rotund rodent
to portend our future.
The notoriously myopic Phil,
of Punxsutawney, doesn’t give a crap
about the twelve men in suits,
blurred like jurors at his door.
All guilty, he assumes
see how they frame themselves,
square-jawed at the cameras?
The shadow that passes is indeed
an omen, but not about the weather.
It’s the climate, fools, that’s foretold.
And who would know better
than a blind groundhog,
when someone’s headed down a hole
of their own making.
What is a Man
A man is a handful
a bit of spit & sea salt
he has a worn rose for a heart
a scar on his ass
a thorn in his throat
there’s wind in his feet
& the devil behind
he’s equal parts cruel and kind
scans the horizon with eyes
like split geodes
he is rapacious, ungrateful
and forever a child
his spine is a road wandering
abandoned acres & barren coasts
he walks with the ghosts
of Plato and Plutarch
his net worth is a waning moon
& he must learn to like himself
before he can love another
he is a handful of earth
Progressive Urban Dinner
3am at Pequot and Elm
a coyote noses past
the euonymus hedge
and hunkers lower
he knows the street
lamp’s angle and where
the catalpa sheds
and how lately
Mrs. Emerson’s cat
a fat-faced silver Persian
has perhaps this night
stayed too long
beetles, night moths
and the occasional frog
that the coyote knows the cloth
of each neighborhood,
the smell of garbage full
of rib bones and grease
should surprise no one
who has seen one stalk
the molting geese grazing
near the city pond
hunters hunt where
the territory provides
and survival is the one
and only prize
even if it means a squirrel
on the mean city streets
a plug of old chick-fillet
cold fries or the not
so aware overweight pug
on the porch.
The Bonsai Tree
The tree must know early on
that it is destined for an alternative life.
On its tiny acre of soil, it bends
to the copper coil and tends to slant
away from prevailing winds it’s never felt.
Roots, like arthritic knuckles extend
from the wrist of trunk, and leaves
are continuously trimmed by
the patient hands of a god who deals
in miniscule beauty.
And the tree innately knows
that something is beyond unusual,
if not entirely wrong. But what
can it do but go along, enjoying
the soft moss underneath,
the unrelenting attention and dream
night after night of birdsong.