For Bob Marley
I grind the beans for my morning coffee,
organic fair trade beans from Trader Joe’s
in the electric coffee grinder
my father gave me so long ago,
the smell of happiness fills my kitchen,
the pigeons on the fire escape
sing the Redemption Song.
The Brain of the World
I wake at four a.m., can’t go back to sleep,
in Nigeria yesterday Boko Haram massacre
leaves two thousand dead,
every morning brings another nightmare.
No matter what I do I can’t overcome
my learned responses,
when you tell me you love me
I run away, I say I’m an open wound,
give up on me, find someone new,
but then, when you do,
I want to run after you,
and tell you I love you.
Long ago I learned love brings trouble.
In my cerebral cortex,
pleasure and pain are the same,
maybe this explains the brain of the world,
the stonings, the beheadings,
the executions at Charlie Hebdos,
love messed up, love repressed, love wrecked,
the earth rocks between the dragon’s teeth,
are there enough “I love you’s” left
to save us from the belly of the beast,
or is this already a futile question,
an anachronism like Esperanto,
the hope for a global language?
The sun rising behind my building
makes a path of shining light across the river,
from my window I watch it climb,
the face of the new Freedom Tower
then open up over the city,
spreading light into the new day,
the windows of lower Manhattan shine gold,
the river has a thousand sparkling eyes.
the Statue of Liberty holds a book that has
July 4, 1776 written on the cover,
a broken chain lies at her feet.
I hear the buzzing of the helicopters outside,
every morning at 6 a.m. they come to circle
the towers of the bridge looking for enemies,
I dress and put my sneakers on, getting ready
to walk the bridge, to navigate beneath the blades,
to cross the bridge to look for you.
for Curtis W. Smith d. August 25, 2O15
“A Chester County deputy sheriff shot and killed a knife wielding Coatsville man inside the county courtyard Tuesday after the man barreled into the building and slashed another officer.” from the Philadelphia Inquirer
I place myself as a mourner beside the friends
and neighbors of Curtis W. Smith
who describe him as a “devoted father and a man
who walked their dogs, mowed their lawns and
played with their children.”
I pretend I stand beside his wife and children, who
like the officer who shot him, were not named
in the newspaper article describing his death.
I imagine myself murmuring condolences to them,
I say I share their sorrow while I bow my head in shame
because I can not answer the question as to whether
he was shot because he was black or the questions as to why
the officer shot him in the gut and not in an arm or a leg.
or why some can squander money while others have to beg,
or why some live in happiness and others in despair
or why am I an insomniac, uncomfortable everywhere?
I believe he didn’t have to die, you may not agree
if you believe everything in life is fated or pre-ordained,
Smith didn’t have a gun, he had a knife with which he
slashed the hand and arm of a 22-year-old deputy,
then the other deputy shot Smith who died later that day,
the deputy Smith slashed survived.
“No motive is known for Smith’s attack,
He was known to have had domestic problems and had
been arrested after scaling a wall at the White House
to “deliver a message”, he said, to President Obama.
He was released, told the misdemeanor case against him
would be dropped this fall if he avoided further incidents.
He had no criminal record or history of mental distress.”
Maybe tensions seething deep inside him exploded,
questions of his motive linger as does the knowledge that
there is no way to stop his family and friends from missing him,
as there is no way to stop the falling rain or restrain the trees
from loosing their leaves or wake the dead from sleeping.