raining in the streets again;
grey dreariness rolling in,
tapping my window pane.
fingers trace down
thoughts afloat on
ship’s rising bow.
head out with hurried strides
through the puddles and frigid air,
over the bridge to the end of town
the old brick cinema.
missing a step with each stride,
look up to see the posters,
then glance back in hope
older friend has caught up.
then push through the doors,
on the darkening screen
watch the opening credits.
Kassim waits to occupy
station of grand Caliph
when evil Zenobia casts her spell
grow hair and sharp teeth.
Sinbad with his brave sailing crew
searches vast northern seas
reach the curative shrine
restore the prince anew.
after the adventure is over and won
stroll into the fading light:
head filled with giant bees,
sabre-toothed tigers, and Troglodyte titan.
all ended so well I cheer,
remembering prince Kassim as Caliph,
Sinbad marrying the princess,
through cold rain that brings home near.
Gulf Coast, 2007)
visited Kemah last winter with our friends;
unfamiliar grey sheet veiled the shining sky.
held a certain promise of rain and silence
except for the swirling wind rushing in from the Bay.
kids rode the yellow submarine back and forth
screamed their fun while I watched pelicans
drift smartly overhead, like kites:
remembered my first college break in summer.
toured England’s West Country, my brother and I, on our bikes:
steep hills then floating down the other side with the rush of
oxygen filling us. In the evenings, we drank our tea,
listening to others’ stories before tired early nights.
Kemah, after the others left, and as the light brightened into
lingered by the shoreline and watched more pelicans,
flapping by in twos and threes, searching out places to settle,
before we too made our way back, reluctantly.
A Quiet Corner
of St. Thomas campus, Houston)
say goodbye to my son
the studio door closes, then
drive to the college campus
beside potholed streets.
wander the tree-lined sidewalk,
reach the corner and cross,
drawn to the dome of St. Basil,
the other side of the road.
in a quiet corner,
hedge and high wall overlook
early rose blooms of bright scarlet,
fluttering over formal pathways
like butterfly wings unravelling.
white walls raised to the sky,
golden roof reflects light
like a beacon or torch atop a hill
deep in a cavern and three bells
ready to sound out old memories.
black wall juts out,
holds up the bells like a flag of
holiness waving from afar.
outside the gallery, students
lounge under live oaks when
clear sunny days are cool enough
sweaters or long-sleeved shirts.
this day the sky is grey;
inside the gallery
the measured, soporific intonations
reverberate through hallways and vaulted rooms
fill the afternoon
like the calm before a thunderstorm.
plastic flowers, canned soup, and
Mona Lisa hang in the diffused light whitened
above parallel lines of black wood and
captions bearing the name “Andy Warhol”.
rectangular cushion set
black in the middle of the floor
provides a comforting
vantage from which to listen.
turning outside to the shady boulevard and past
towering brick of another chapel;
Rothko’s dark vistas line inner walls,
looking like unfurled banners.
inside there is peace
I see only empty silence
until I remember my son
clutching his new painting
the fold of an old broadsheet,
I hasten to meet him.
A Hanging Coat
hung between darkness
long arms moulded
the warmth of frequent use.
slate-dark cloth draped
with a formal austerity
that belied a grey silky lining
the lingering loneliness
pockets sagged on either side,
burdened with receipts, pens, and crumpled notes
left over from well intentioned plans
the irritation of hasty meals.
cloth like brushed sued
from earlier fashions,
juggled large round black buttons and
formed the outline of a bulging belly.
Before Our Journey
preparing for our journey to the far off archipelago,
where patchwork rice paddies frame water buffalo.
silver domes of village mosques hang like balloons,
beacons above the clamour of searing afternoons.
buy new clothes and luggage for comfort;
make mental lists of diseases that can be caught.
resolve to keep journals to record what we see,
we find our way around the fabled country.
recall the dark throbbing mass of honey bees,
high in the canopy next to auntie’s eaves;
mango tree with the pungent aroma,
that ripened fruits on the rising ocean breeze.