Poets of the Monterey Bay
Four Poems by Ken Weisner
I am told its good to forgive.
So I will do myself later and start with Dick Cheney.
After all, I honestly wept for Frankenstein.
Perhaps I can love Dick Cheney.
Doris Lessing says forgive what you cannot understand.
I will try not to understand Dick Cheney.
The lamby-soul of a child is sweet, androgynous.
So must be the soul of Dick Cheney.
Sometimes I am overcome that he is cynical.
I must not project my shadow onto you, Dick Cheney.
Did you ever truly clear a decent shelter for sorrow?
Me neither, Dick Cheney.
But I try. And in trying now, my hate
is turned to this flower, Dick Cheney.
If I knew you betterif you were a friend,
how much harder it would be, Dick Cheney,
to be tender and awake in the face of you.
Its easier to forgive people like Judas, Pharaoh, Dick Cheney,
than the people I know who voted for you,
some twice; some even with yard signs, Dick Cheney.
Why should it be your fault that you are so beloved?
We lifted the sedan chair, crowned you twice, Dick Cheney.
Then why does my body convulse
every time I think of your smile, Dick Cheney?
That would be judgment, I know.
Im trying to forgive you, Dick Cheney,
to take you back to the many-armed sea of mothers
where you are unborn once more, Dick Cheney,
no pacemaker, no surgeons starting your heart
over and over, Dick Cheney;
no pesky Congress, no courts or lesbian daughter to ponder.
Just that bliss of androgynous innocence we all lost once, Dick Cheney.
Ken says ah, source of all beauty, still unborn sleep that lasts forever
thing all music longs for, even yours, even mine, Dick Cheney.
for David Aquino
When you cant breathe at all
theres a long crowning
minute or so before the lungs start to really burn
when, as in comedy, you may stumble
out the kitchen door, a fish out of water
to where David is measuring for a deck rail;
he takes in your ballet, its demi-wheezes and wide eyes,
luckily a language he can read,
and then youre being flipped around
heimlichedhes remarking on each decision
hes done this sort of thing before, more than once,
on jobsites, boats: a tuna fisherman
choking on a tuna sandwich,
an electrocuted worker (who died, you later hear).
So next when David tells you to lie down flat
and try to relax, pounds you on the back
by the heel of his open palm, its sort of comforting,
although you still cant breathe,
and any time now that minute of grace will end.
So he asks if he should call 911,
which is certainly the right question;
hes tried what he knows
and is not finding you much of a conversationalist.
Its time to pick up the phone.
You are at a remove, appreciative,
but your gaze seems to you
to originate from somewhere high above
your right eyebrow. I mean, its comic, right?
the wheezing, and stranger still,
the not being able to wheeze.
How long can this go on,
from what, a corn chip?
the karmic fate of a multi-tasker
who seems to have wanted to save a few minutes
by breathing, eating, and pacing around
balancing his checkbook all at the same time.
You could alert your wife
at the front of the house
lope and stagger in there suffocating
where she is teaching piano to small children.
No, have David tell her
after he grabs the phone.
He pounds your back one more time;
you stay face down,
like the call to prayer
you think: youre even facing east.
And thats as far as it goes this time
just a glimpse; not the full dark fury.
Is it the jarring, or just
the lying down and totally relaxing
releases the cramped valve?
Like waking from a little dream,
the wheezing dissipates,
the channel opens, and the body respires,
inspires, prostrate to new redwood 2 x 6,
inhaling the sawdust of this new day,
which indeed, upon reflection,
has a remarkable patina
as you think, Where was I?
Where am I! Who am I?
pulled dying of thirst off the lifeboat,
then flopped up living on Davids brand new ship.
Im sitting down to eat these pretty good quesadillas
with sweet onion, cilantro and this really
tangy new Mexican sauce
when the phone rings and on the message
Im hearing how you died last night,
so of course I pick up, talk to our friend a while,
then return to table a little in shock now
where the food has turned to stone.
Though right away I hear you saying,
Eat! eatI wish I could join!
They dont let me eat a thing anymore!
and laughing about it.
It seems youre right here in the living room,
your warmth welling up, your belief
in the dignity and good intentions
of all our labors, and all who struggle to survive.
And then Im also thinking: who picked the cilantro
cooled the Vidalia onions, kept them dryprocessed
the endless tortillaswho is home with their children,
wholl cook for them, take them to the doctor?
You wont stop your smiling as I slouch and brood
with the guilt of the living. Youre just there,
a mother who has very reasonable expectations,
who says Eat, says: Now youre pissing me off,
says: Ill be watching, says: Do something with your life.
Maude Meehan 1920 2007
A Proclamation Concerning a Bowl of Apples
Whereas they command the space in my room
like offerings in the arched casement light
Whereas they show pomegranate highlights and saffron shadings
stem-end, blossom-end, equally haphazard, and fortunate
Whereas they rained down on my head in the picking
quickly filled the basket
and sometimes fit into my hands two or three at a time like baseballs
Whereas they are beautiful in their patience
Whereas they are the gift of the gift of an immigrant farmer
that farmer is no longer with us
and his trees dont care which side of the fence they hang down on
Whereas my knife is sharp
Whereas they are red in more ways than one
mottled and golden and penumbral
it is harvest, and each longs to be touched
Whereas its what they live for
what we live for
Whereas there is thunder and sweet gaping
and it is our teeth and wild jaw splits open the tree
Whereas we too shall be eaten
by love, by eyes, by fire, by worms
Let it hereby be resolved
to savor the presence
of apples, the absence of apples
the very idea of apples
in a bowl, on a windowsill, in autumn.