A Journal of Contemporary Arts 


Two poems




Not every territory has been mapped
With fixed political geography,
But where our penciled boundaries overlapped
We founded neutral zones of comity.

The fragrant bait with which we set our traps
Turned out to be less needful than we thought
Because no matter how at odds our maps,
We both were more than happy to be caught.

It's not our foremost aim to live in peace
Or hunker down in pleasant comfort zones;
In fact, should strife and conflict ever cease,
We'd miss the chance to gnaw each other's bones.

Our time together left no trace of doubt
That we were destined for a clash of arms,
For neither one of us can do without
The night raids or the sounding of alarms.

Vitality and beauty may not last,
And open doors may someday soon be closed,
But close encounters from the recent past
Have shown no signs of giving up the ghost.



What answers are expected from
A man encountered on the street
Whose daily games are zero-sum
And whose exalted gods have feet

Of clay? And who would want to question
A ne'er-do-well in need of food
Who suffers chronic indigestion
With such a fractious attitude?

"It takes all kinds," the adage goes,
But policies the likes of this,
Like voters forced to hold their nose,
Deserve acute analysis.

A more decisive course might be
To overcome our fathers' failures
And institute a legacy
Where sons and daughters cheat their jailers.

Our mothers, too, must share the blame
For crippling children whom they coddled
In Doctor Spock's infernal name,
A plan by which young souls were throttled.



A businessman deserves a glass of whiskey
At end of day to counteract the stress
Entailed by all the elements of risk he
Incurs pursuing large rewards. A less

Exacting schedule would be very foolish
For anyone anticipating gains,
Since only an incompetent with mulish
Predispositions tries to slip the reins.

An enterprising person has a purpose
That brooks no multilateral distraction
And bars participation in a circus
Where levity's the only satisfaction.

The old religion of the bottom line
Holds sway on profit's tilted playing field,
And lucrative transactions are the valentine
To which a merchant's troth is pledged and sealed.

Prayer Vigils

When prayers are offered, people tend to close
Their eyes, as though the darkness would enhance
The power of their ears. The Good Lord knows
That rituals are like a stately dance

Intended to establish formal bonds
Among communicants who seek an anchor
In cold uncharted seas or stagnant ponds,
Without ironic sneers or latent rancor.

I like to honor prayers with open eyes,
If only to be sure of where I'm going,
For seeing's most important, I surmise,
To separate what's been assumed from knowing.

The opening of all the human senses
To Heaven's multifaceted Creation
Is that from which the naked truth commences,
Engendering the spirit's satiation.




I hate it when I have to deal with fractions,
For I'm more comfortable with rounded numbers.
I loathe infinitesimal transactions
Where, unbeknownst to me, a giant slumbers

Within the labyrinth of shrinking fractals.
When I look down the corridors of time
And glimpse tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls
Disporting in a late Cretaceous clime,

I wonder what intelligent new creature
Will lump me with the monkeys and the apes
As he or she or it, a self-taught teacher,
Adapts to puzzlement by shifting shapes

Instead of formulating crystal-clear
Elucidations. Every twinkling star,
It's said, might be another sun held dear
By those within its glow; but from afar,

The math of astrophysics sets the tone.
It all comes down to who shall make the rules
And how they are applied. Good seeds are sown
Along with bad ones. Philosophic schools

Have glorified obscurity: In sum,
The categorical imperative
Is just some old curmudgeon's rule of thumb
That almost never hits us where we live,

Since there is no utility in dictums
Observed by martinets whose swollen heads
Are firmly lodged inside their costive rectums
And who, for all we know, are off their meds.

Although I can't imagine life without it,
Hard science does not have the final say.
It's evident, however much I doubt it,
That worlds arise de novo every day.





I merely want a place to lay my head
When sunset sheds its last entrancing glow,
That I might then have commerce with the dead
Who left this world behind so long ago.

The father of my father is a ghost,
My mother's mother is a fading shade
But those whom I will miss the most
Are phantom friends with whom I've never made

Acquaintance. Time, as always, turns the key
And locks us down inside a Turkish jail
Where bastinado is the destiny
Of Westerners accused of quaffing ale

Or tinctures of hashish, the crimes for which
No punishment is ever deemed too harsh,
Nor meek appeals a cause to stay the switch.
Just cast my body in the nearest marsh

To feed the hungry creatures there, and let
Ubiquitous bacteria enjoy
My final fall from grace, but not forget
The filth I lent them when I was a boy.