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by Ken Peters


    She was beautiful
    a real dresser
    with more drawers than a Chinese puzzle box
    but none could capture in line on paper
    the grace of movement
    I was the only fool on board
    there was plenty of room
    for the knowing sailors
    nowhere for my ignorance
    every passage way blocked
    by my lack of an operating manual
    until some patient salt threw time my way
    confusion blinded me
    in the crow's nest I saw only the teeming decks
    in the forecastle only the patch of blue at the porthole
    the knotted ropes were my clenched muscles
    useless except to ache
    waiting for some liberating Occam's blade
    instead the fid of endless sailing
    there was no relief
    in sleep or rum
    from the incessant journey
    and I was mute to ask


    the van with the retirees from Indiana
    on the way to Walmart for shampoo and gossip
    the muscle car with the 19 year old child
    looking for other 19 year old children to impress
    the SUV that has never been off the road
    on the way to a heated garage
    the bus full of kids all sitting facing forward
    on their way to a school where they'll sit facing forward
    the semi full of hamburgers
    for a fast food joint full of customers
    I'm standing on the corner
    when Jamal comes by and says:
    "Hey man I'm gettin a dime. You in?"
    I say "Yeah" and give him cash
    Jamal says "I gnna be back in five. You gonna be here?"
    and I say "Yeah. I'm not goin nowhere."
    Fourty years of ceaseless travel
    from Hartford, up the Conneticut Valley,
    then west on the Mohawk trail
    to Rome and back he fixed pots and pans
    in every town, slept in caves
    and windbreaks, slowly accruing
    leather patches til he was a small
    mountain of crazy stitches and multihued skin.
    The children sometimes threw stones
    and the mothers warned of his wrath
    if their admonitions were not heeded.
    Fourty years in the wilderness of New England
    farms and villages,
    scorned, feared but useful
    the butt of jokes and small town news
    he followed his circut like a shuffling leather mammoth
    the first year he failed to make his rounds,
    dead in some lost cave,
    did the children miss their target?
    stars strewn on a velvet blanket
    of steep, sparse bible black hills
    and when the new day arrives
    the stars are frosted trailer windows
    and the first shift is on its way to the mine
    can this be home?
    could I belong here?
    my back and legs ache
    but I'm not sure
    how to lay down this burden
    or if I can
    maybe long blue miles
    must be run
    before I can sleep
    the sleep of the righteous
    in the lambent village

    the trickster, the scavenger
    omen of death
    I'm headed his way
    and he waits with
    raised ears and ragged breath

    A tyrant, a rant, arrest
    and i want to shout redemption
    with the people at the barricudas
    but the lawyers are circling -
    smell blood in the murky fiscal waters
    the masters laugh
    and 180 million Brazilians must cry
    the masters sneer
    and family farms
    (generations of sweat and blood and tears and semen)
    liberty! laudenum! Reruns of Lucy!
    Anything but to watch this particular farce
    again and again and again

    The rains came
    the jasmine trembled


    ten veils
    nine books
    eight chairs
    seventh heaven
    sixth sense
    five senses
    four seasons
    three questions
    two friends
    one way

My Best Friend
    Rita's rubric is friendship and relativity
    No theory when facts are needed
    Knowledge trumping mystery
    In each hand she holds the world
    Laying her cards on the unified field
    Laughing geometry and light years
    Metaphors spawned, images sprawled
    Approximation spurned when no longer useful
    She unfolds tetrahedrons
    Under the trees at the edge of perception
    Shaking stardust from her blanket
    For an afternoon, an infinity, a picnic
    I'm subsumed and blessed
    Languid hills and time enfold me
    While she spins a dervish equation
    Of sky and smiles
- Ken Peters 


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