Care of the Machine – Poem for April 10 – National Poetry Month

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The wives slept
While the men worked
Through the night

Each man at his desk
His face reflecting
The glow of a screen

The men worked
For the Corporation
–The sole employer

A living entity
Growing, consuming
And adapting

Operating, once with
Typewriters and forms
Folders and cabinets

‘Til the chief
Ordered the men
“Build a machine!”

One man created its mind
The paths into it
And the ways out

A second man wrote instructions
Shaped like poems
For the machine-mind to read

A third man built a translator
So the machine could talk
To other machines

Thus the Corporation’s organs
Became keyboards and screens
File and servers

And the men’s work
Became care
Of the machine

Which could only be done
At night
When they induced its sleep

And as the machine slept
The men worked
Through the night

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What Makes the Wind – Poem 9 for National Poetry Month

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I don’t know
What makes the wind

Or last night
What made it rush
With the sound of everything
Being moved

That sound was more
Than the creaking of every tree-trunk
And the rustling of every branch
More than all last-Autumn’s leaves
Pushed, scraping along the pavement
More than every particle of dirt
Blasting against the windows

That sound included
All things usually too quiet to hear
Like the straining of each blade of grass
And the ruffling of every bird’s feathers

It was the rush
Not of a freight train
But of fifty freight-engines
Off the tracks and side by side
Headlamps black and heading straight
Toward you and me

It was the wind taking over
Pushing everything
All the way down
And you and I could do nothing
But go under
And wait

Me here and you there
Wishing to be together
Praying the wind
Would not take the other

And when we came together
We prayed the wind
Would not take us both

It pounding at the backdoor
Trying to get in
Radio siren wailing
Synthetic voice reporting
A town blown through
To the west

The wind is gone now
And I hear the sound of everything…
Everything being quiet

I don’t know
What makes the wind
Or what makes it rush
But I think it’s the same thing
That last night made it stop

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Thunderstorm Dreaming

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On Wednesday,
One o’clock at-night
Is for sleeping

‘Til there’s a distant rumble
Then a white-sky FLASH!
Which silhouettes for an instant
Branches of Spring’ s bare trees

BOOM! OOM! oom!
Hurls from a faraway cannon
Between wheels of wood
Its black iron barrel, narrow at the front
Points upward

FLASH, then BOOM! again
And an invisible cannonball
Arcs high over the backyard
Reaching its highest point
Above my house

Where the projectile pierces a mammoth piñata
That’s not a piñata at all

But a giant, stuffed animal
A great, toy buffalo
Standing overhead in the black cloud
It’s woolly head facing west
Into the storm

From its underside
Between its black corner legs
Ice-pellet stuffing
Rains down at me
But is stopped by the thin roof

Pellets pop, pop, popping
Like kernels exploding
In a metal pot
‘Til there are no more

Just a trickle
Through the downspout
To the silence
Of the next dream

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Roll into the Night – Poem 7 of 30 for National Poetry Month

Sponge

They’re sayin’
Soon it’ll be seventy degrees

When it is
I’m gunna put on faded Levi’s
And a T-shirt

A white one like Fonzie’s
No, like Springsteen’s
Yeah

I’m gunna back out a car
An old one
With squared corners
Chrome bumpers
And round headlights

I’ll back it out
And then back it in
Park it right there on the driveway

I’ll walk over to the brick house
To the metal spindle with the garden hose
I’ll pull it and feel it unroll

I’ll fill a plastic bucket with water
And soap
And go at the car with a sponge
Irregular shaped and brown
Holes of different sizes
A real sponge
The kind that used to be alive

And once I’ve sudsed off all the dirt
And wrung it into the bucket
I’ll turn the hose on the car

Spray off the suds
And expose the shining, metallic, tiny flakes
Fixed underneath the glossy green

And last,
I’ll take the chamois to it
It was once alive like the sponge
Or on something alive

And when night comes
I’m gunna swing open the heavy, metal door
And slide in
Onto the leather bench seat

I’ll put in the key, and turn it
And give her some gas

Twist on the radio
And roll down the window
Then reach behind the steering wheel
And click down the shifter

I’ll ease off the brake
And roll onto the side street
Turn right, and

Drive

Out into the night

Like in some Springsteen song

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That Future – Day 6 of National Poetry Month

Project Plan

He tells them
We’ll deliver it
By then
For so much

And then he tells me
Go plan it

Yes, me
Because I see the future
That’s my job

Then he asks me
What future do I see?
Are they happy?
Is it on time?
Is there money left?

No, I tell him

So he tells me
Make it like he saw

Yes, me
Because I change the future
That’s my job too

Now he asks
How ‘bout this time
Are they happy?
Is it on time?
Is there money left?

No, I tell him

He tells me
I’m not trying hard enough
He says
Give ’em what they want
That future

So I tell him
It’s like this…

And when I finish
He asks
It’s pre…what?
Predetermined?

I tell him again
How it’ll be late
And over budget
All-ways

He doesn’t buy it
He says there must be a way
To deliver it
By then
For so much

He’s asking the guys to work weekends

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Sympathy to Man – Poem 5 of 30 for National Poetry Month

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What Man built
Became too complex

I don’t mean fire or wheel
Those could be stopped

Not bullet or bomb
Both were simple and dumb

Not light, or radio, or phone
Once, a boy could build them

Not even early computers
Those, too, were built in basements
And when they talked to each other
Man would chaperone

No…
Man’s demise
Was not these

Damn the device!
And the information on which it thrived!
Damn all computers
That tried to be!

Sympathy to Man, extinct Man
For not using his mind
To know
Where to stop

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Grains of Golden Amber – Poem 4 of 30 for National Poetry Month

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She’s from the Baltic seaside
Where the green waves
Come from the west, from Sweden

The waves roll in, white-capped
Taller than everyone there
And crash onto the smooth, flat beach

On the wet sand, if you look,
She says you’ll find grains
Of golden amber

She lives here now
Flew here years ago
In search of something

She tells me
She found it
When she found me

Here near the Great Lakefront
Where the gray waves
Come from the east, from Michigan

The swells move in, gray
Taller than no one (usually)
And whoosh onto the pebbly, rough beach

Just under the wet sand, don’t look
You’ll find particles, I say,
Of black coal ash

But on sunny, calm days the Great Lake
Is turquoise-blue and jade-green
And beautiful enough

To remind her
Of Palanga and Sventoji
And her visits with her mom and sisters

Beautiful enough to get her through
The next couple years
Until she takes me with her

Back to the seaside
To be with everyone she loves
At the same time

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Sanctuary – Poem 3 of 30 for National Poetry Month

Light_-_Stage_Lights

The lighting’s kept down, here
Except over the stage
Where black cans beam down
Bright red, blue, and green

On a man with a hollow guitar
In a long, leather jacket
Under a leather, western hat
His face too, like leather

A face clean, but with lines
And the beginning of a gray beard
Dark eyes, understanding
And at ease

It’s sanctuary here
From everyone he knows

He presses the strings to the frets
And strums
Sings out his day
His month, his year

Sings about Man
The machine, the slave
Thrown into life
To work for food

Sings about Man
The being, the soul
Who needs to do something
And to tell someone about it

When he’s sung out
He steps off stage
And walks out the door
Onto an empty street

Where lamps beam down
Orange cones of light
That he walks through, alone
To his car at a curb

He drives away, alone
Into the dark
To tomorrow’s problems
To tomorrow’s songs

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A Sign That It’s Warm Enough – Poem 2 of 30 for National Poetry Month

The Robin

Evening drive home
Tollway, then divided highway
Then neighborhood street

The goal is to do it
Without stopping
Anything, not to stop

This evening I made good time
Less traffic
Since tomorrow is Good Friday

At my street
I pressed the opener
Then turned into the driveway

To roll
Straight up
Into the garage

But I stopped
About fifteen feet short
Not to crash into…

The robins
Three of them close together
In low-altitude battle

Flitting
Rising and falling
Then landing and scurrying

A sign that it’s warm
Enough to open the windows
For a while

To lie in bed and listen
To the frogs’ continuous croaking
More like creaking

Like the sound of a finger
Across the thin upturned teeth
Of a black, plastic comb

The frogs’ creaking
Carried my wife to dreaming
While I stayed awake

Listening past the frogs
To the far-off engine whine
Of a motorcycle

The sound on a highway
A rider leaning forward
Accelerating into the night

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Lenses – Poem 1 of 30 for National Poetry Month

eyeglasses

I see better
When I look through lenses made
For me

Way ahead, that street sign’s
White letters have edges
Straight and curved against the green aluminum

At home
The book’s black-ink letters
Rise from the cream-colored page

When it’s this clear
It goes straight into my mind
It goes right into place

Good for what I’m about to see
Now, to get something for
Everything else

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