WHEN THEY LOVE US NOT
When the ones we want to love us
leave no doubt they’ve left us behind,
should we loll around, scavengers
of leftovers lying around?
Or should we collate our losses
like alarmed lieutenants behind
the lines, wannabe avengers
of honor lost on those martial routs?
THEY FADE AWAY
Memories — my dear comrades of old
(The fire we braved!
And the rations and the women
we shared!) — They’ve renounced
their rank and lost distinction.
Though still attached to my boots
they cower behind.
They have become shadows
and behind my back they conspire
to disappear in the shade
to camouflage their remnant connection
to all the wars and occupations,
the courts martial and commendations
that shaped my life’s deployment.
Courage is not just the medal, and love not the ring.
Our identities transcend our organs, nerves, and bones.
No ideas, no concepts, are ever concrete things,
and neither are the handsome words by which they are known.
The world we see is made of steel, stone, plastic, glass, wood,
material structures made of molecules, atoms,
nucleons, hadrons, quarks, firmions, and other coulds
and shoulds (names await definition of a datum).
We preside over realms of rebars and 2X4s
but we’re subjects of shadow monarchs called metaphors.
and beginnings end and ends begin.
eternities move ahead and back.
our present is our time to butcher
before the now determines our fast.
in the spot between gone and again
all whitenesses contain shades of black.
some poets remember the future and other poets create the past