A jealous spirit
Stole your wife,
Left a black hole in your heart.
More punishment was needed
So he sent the Crab.
He wanted your vision.
He took an eye.
He took a breast.
Greedy for more
Now he’s taken your right leg.
You told me
The surgeon replaced it
With my mother’s leg,
Amputated 50 years ago.
And you ordered me to write this poem
In the plane.
At 36,000 feet
The clouds are wearing saffron robes
To celebrate sunset.
I am flying to Panama.
Beauty before and behind me
Above and below me
Almost everything can be taken away.
A man can be torn to pieces,
Disassembled and scattered like a puzzle.
He can be deconstructed and left with only his breath
And his pain
And his goodness going out
Like ripples into the world.
So much taken and still you are giving.
So much taken and still you are whole.
Here is a pain-killer
Made out of pain.
Here is the poem you ordered.
I’ve included penguins with sunglasses
And nuns with mysterious suitcases
So you’ll feel at home in it.
I’ve thrown in Brooklyn Heights and Playa Mimosa
And the 40 years of our crazy friendship,
With apologies for taking more than I ever gave back.
Here’s Naomi opening like a flower.
Here’s my manuscript waiting for your blue pencil.
Here we are on the Angry Arts flatbed truck,
Declaiming against the Vietnam war.
And here is Dubjinski Barefoot singing and eating baby food
And here is Joyo sending the dictatorship packing.
It’s all here, my brother
Jokes to remind us that we are miniatures
That nothing makes sense
Other than loving as best we can
An offering of light on the altar of darkness.
-- New York – Panama City, May 4, 2005