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Barbarians at the Gate

The Old Poet of the City wrote
“The barbarians are coming…”
imagining the decadent Roman
senators be-jewelled in scarlet togas.
Their artists pictured barbarians with
unkempt hair & beards, wearing
trousers & a long cloak.  To the Romans
the Irish were barbarians.

Tonight when the wind & rain
drive me into this pub I see
that the barbarians are already here —
drinking beer, whisky, uncombed hair
tucked into baseball caps worn backwards
TV-styled beards of an imagined frontier
jeans & rain coats like they had just
crossed the mountains, if not to rape
& pillage at least to drink
as if every day was St. Patrick’s Day.



Birthday Poem, 2017

Of course
there is fog
one lives here
for the fog
in spite of
the morning sun
burning off
the way dreams
as soon as
your eyes open.


The day would have been grey anyway
the old rain in the gutters expected.

After all, the seasons change, the light
changes, repeats itself like the dark

with dreadful regularity, each night
more, or less, hours of darkness

each day less, or more, light at dusk
until the Sun falls into the dark Sea.

Star Maps

The stars in their random shapes
are nothing but burning stones
some gone, some only uncharted
memory of fading light.

I could never figure out
the constellations, & now
this book tells me the Greeks
saw them differently, & if
you lived on another planet
you would have different
myths, or not.

The stars are not our business, &
remembering the pock marks
on the Moon is like naming
trout, or our own self-
inflected spasms & stains.

Climate Change

Along 101 these tourist spots are packed
with folks with time and money to spend
on drinks and dinner — silver-slicked
husbands in over-sized sport shirts, khaki
pants, portly wives with man-style cuts
white slacks — their next thought:
where to stop for breakfast, lunch
wallowing in the mundane, Cosmos
and Bud Lights, then back into the RV
eating dinosaurs for dessert.

Reading NASA Press Releases I Wonder Why the Mars Rover Matters

From Mennonia
make no

Nocturnal Emission

Dreaming in near adolescent sheets of a naked
classmate, her school uniform tossed on a chair
I awake with pleasure in the dark to think
I’ve wet the bed, my small, hard penis
pressed to sticky wetness, in panic
blood stains in the morning? then
fell back to sleep.  In the light, only
the palest of stains, neither blood nor pee.
Each night falling asleep to fantasies
of delight hoping to wake with a shudder
until I learn I didn’t need to wait for dreams.