Rocky Balboas

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.

In October,
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.

The Boogieman Plays the Marimba

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.

  • Glenn Lyvers

Choosing Angels

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
rings pure,
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.

  • Glenn Lyvers

Slipping in the garden.

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.

  • Glenn Lyvers