In southern Indiana
where the flat land
ironed by glaciers
begins to wrinkle into
stony foothills, there are
groves of walnut trees.
They stand together
in solidarity for miles—
their age dwarfing all
who behold the endless
sea of woody trunks
defiantly clinging to
the stony hillsides.
they drop their globes
like a hail-storm of baseballs,
which bounce into piles, forming
a green carpet that extends
further than anyone can see.
When the tempest is over,
the trees fall silent.
They stand nakedly reaching
their arms into the sky,
like thousands of Rocky Balboas
celebrating the triumph
which lies beneath.
Nobody ever asks why they call him The Boogie-man.
It’s because he has music in his soul. You can find him
playing the marimba in the zocalo on the evenings
he is not menacing children. When he is though,
terrorizing the innocent, he does so with style.
He peeks his head out of open closets, riffing,
“Booga booga, dittly dooga, boom boom boom.”
When the children cover their heads, and cry out for
daddy, he falls in tempo with their screams,
“Fapity, dittidy, skittatee, deeeeeeee”
until there is a perfect mix of harmony on the long “eeeeee,”
and then when daddy appears, he slips back
into the darkness, still riffing in his head.
He pops out, and then into another room
with another bed.
At daybreak he changes into his sneakers again,
his “boogie-shoes,” and he taps his foot
while he plays the marimba, rolling his hips—
all day shuffling, riffing, foot-tapping,
until it’s time again, when he pops out to boogie-scare,
and boogie-harmonize with the screams of the
boogie-terrified. He is the “Boogie-man”
and he has music in his soul.
On my desk, I found a pin
standing on end.
I can’t say I know
where it came from,
but I know about the angels.
On the heads of pins, there are
hundreds of angels, maybe millions—
who knows how many, but they are there.
Why angels gather, in vast
multitudes, on the heads of pins,
I cannot say. I know this, though,
when you have enough beings,
especially those with wings,
then games ensue—
and tag is the favorite game of angels.
They fly through the air, swooping
toward each other, delighting
in the freedom and the sheer speed
their glowing wings produce.
Their feathers begin to emit tiny flames
with thin trails of white smoke
while they speed along,
at speeds that defy physics,
at speeds that blur humans eyes,
at the speed of angels—
a wonder to behold,
and their laughter
so beautifully innocently-pure—
so pure that hearing it brings unguarded tears.
— OOO —
Even angels begin their games
with the choosing—after all,
in tag, someone must be “it”—and so
they stretch out their pale angelic-legs,
stacking their sandals like cordwood,
singing “Eenie meenie miney moe.”
One by one they are dismissed. It can take years
for the choosing to finish, but angels
have no use for time, and they delight in all of it.
At last, when there is but one angel left,
the one who is “it,”
there is a massive eruption of wings.
They blast into the air
looking like white, glowing, flaming, smoking locusts
in some blurry cloud of madness
only they can understand,
and in the cloud a chorus rises,
a chorus of laughing angels,
a chorus that makes God smile,
a chorus that brings unguarded tears.
An old woman in a purple dress
is outside kneeling on a curved brick
patio. It is 1989, Dresden in the summer
and perhaps I am the only one
aware that the bricks were collected
from the nursery that once stood
where she is kneeling. Dresden was
bombed in 1945. People
collected pieces of the nursery,
to make patios. The hanging
flowerpot outside my window is a helmet
filled with dirt. It is a part of the past
and people have absorbed it all.
There are bees here, with pollen clinging
like yellow socks. They visit every flower
in the garden. It looks like a labor of love,
the way they dive in, immersing themselves
in the petals—like desperate children
jumping into swimming pools.
On the table the newspaper is open
to a picture of a man carrying two grocery bags.
He is in Tiananmen Square, a place I
was unaware of until today. He is standing
in front of a column of tanks. Inside
each tank are crying soldiers. Men
ordered to turn on their brothers.
The old woman outside my window
smiles up at me, unaware of the past.
She is a purple thing, a part of the garden.
Today she could be anywhere
and be unaware. Today is the best day
of her life—her mind slips when she gardens.