Perhaps the sun will continue
to light up the green leaves of whichever tree
you happen to lie down beneath,
turning the undersides brighter;
white sparkles of light
where the sun pierces through
small, wind-shifted gaps;
where the blue sky holds itself
still and distant and aloof as a parent.
you will be spared.
But already the distant machinery
starts up, the heavy gears grind.
A bolt goes home; the smell of oil and hot steel
admixes with the scent of sweat and tears and
the darker redolence of
blood, piss, and shit.
It is a massacre.
It is a conflagration.
I remember once lying in a ditch,
bloody and dazed; shattered glass
dusted over me, ears ringing,
a man seemingly far off shouting was I okay;
and once flying over lake Michigan in a Cessna
and the door swinging open
as we banked over the blue water and how
my grandfather held me in the wild space
with the plain strength of his clenched fist
till he could yank the yoke over
the other way and I fell into his lap, stunned
and breathless; and another time
holding a man who was dying and
rocking with him as he went and it
was like a swimmer in the ocean who with every wave
gets a little bit farther
out to sea until at the end
you can’t say
when you lost sight of him exactly.
And the many bodies of the dead.
And the stories of them;
or those who lacked
It is folly to think you will be spared,
yet somehow you persist in it.
As if you knew no better.
Give grief your last morsel of bread and make for it
a space by the fire; you will at least not be