VELLUM’S PARADISE, PART II

The shop door was locked. He rang the bell once more and waited. No one came. Despite the reflections of the street in the window, he could see, beyond the scrambling pedestrians late for work and the ramshackle townhouses on the opposite side of the street where he lived, the dusky interior. He couldn’t see it and he alone was to blame. The man probably sold it. Vellum had quibbled over details, had vacillated over the cost. Still, there was a possibility the man had only moved it to another corner of the shop. He followed the advancing light, became fascinated with its progress through the interior of the shop. A glimmer of hope charged his despair. He watched the light probing the interstices between the large pieces of dark wood furniture. Glass glittered in the passing light. In chiffoniers and commodes the light revealed small enameled pillboxes. Shelves appeared lined with odd sorts of bric-a-brac. Beneath the shining intruder, etageres and cabinets were forced to display their holdings. Vials, flasks and flagons, decanters and demijohns, capsules and canisters, all seemed uplifted and overturned. Then, near a point where the light dissolved in the reflections in a mirror, he distinguished the veiled crags, pinnacles, the entire landscape in the print he wanted.

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VELLUM’S PARADISE, PART I

One late November day, Thomas Vellum sat by the window watching the families gathering in the portal of the church across the street. Tears formed and all hope dissolved in the flow down his cheeks. He was unemployed. His landlord was raising the rent in January. With the government’s permission the utilities were increasing their rates next month. Once, he was in the habit of turning off his lights when they weren’t needed; despite his frugality, he was paying more. He rarely used the telephone, his bills astounded him.

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At The Water’s Edge

Here we are again, wading deep in the words,
our smiles perched like houses on stilts,
our serene expressions a temporal shoreline. 
For I saw it too, a lucid meaning beneath layers
of reflection, sinking quickly to the bottom
when we kissed. I tried to retrieve it,
our fragile link, so easily cut. These words,
if left misunderstood, twist in the lambent light
of our movements, leading to misgivings. 
But we continue anyway, sustained by decorum:
an understanding that comes with many years. 
Once upon this shore there is no returning
to before. Love, despite its idyllic description,
is the tension at the surface holding us afloat.

 

SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENCE, A POEM

For Lisa Saunders;
For the kids in Columbine and Utoya;
For the kids at Sandy Hook and in Peshawar
And for the kids crossing borders, fleeing the brutality of our kind.
For you and all the other kids abused by our species:

What a pity, our children must grow up!
to struggle through the early movements,
limbs unfolding, limbering; to laugh aloud or cry;
to experience the touch of a stranger’s hand;
to smell the richness of wet earth,
and taste the sun’s light in earth’s greenery
and hear their own voices answering the wind. . .
To articulate these blessings is the miracle of the mind.

A pity, they’ll throw it away as we did in the prime
of our lives, at the height of our abilities when the promise
of success filled our lungs with the sweet air of spring.
A pity, they’ll sow the whispering seed we call truth blown
from our parched lips that will germinate in their innocence
to clamor again in cloudy blooms of grey invective.

And you say, it’s better they be slaughtered by the sword
when young, than become the bearer of the sword searching
for the peacemaker. You say, better they die in their own blood,
than carry in their blood the tragedy of our species.

And I say, a pity, when the world and its endless gifts
are always within our reach, here, in the birth cry of a child.