By Jack Rabbit
My secret love's blue eyes look like the sky
An hour before a January snow,
And yet they hold the warmth of sunlight. My
Shy love can wear his brightest smile although
Inside, he wants to cry. My clever love
Reads WAR AND PEACE -- but also comic books.
My handsome love outshines the beauty of
An angel, yet disparages his looks.
My funny love can always make me laugh --
Then, with his next word, bring me agony.
My complicated love: half man and half
A child. My secret love has given me
My greatest joy; my greatest sorrow is
That he's not mine, though I'm forever his.
SESTINA FOR MURPHY
We lie together on an empty beach.
The evening's sea-cooled air and sun-warmed sand
are ours alone tonight. We watch as each
encroaching wave crests closer to us... And
I try to find the courage just to reach
across the space between us, take his hand.
I close my eyes and see us hand in hand,
together on our empty stretch of beach.
One moment, I'm resolved -- next, bashful and
afraid... At once I curse and covet each
eternal second. See him on the sand:
So close, and yet forever out of reach.
The full moon swings the tide. The waves now reach
so close that I could touch them with my hand.
The magic spell that holds us on beach
will break. "Good night, farewell," he'll whisper, and
depart. With leaden heart, I watch as each
new wave obscures our footprints in the sand.
I lie in sullen silence on the sand
and think upon the goal I'll never reach --
just then, I feel his hesitating hand
caress my hand! Together on our beach,
alone within our thoughts, we'd hidden and
disguised our shared desire -- the same for each.
We face each other, laugh to think we'd each
been dreaming mirrored dreams. The sun-warmed sand
beneath our backs, the waves upon the beach,
the pressure of his strong but gentle hand:
the paradise I'd thought I'd never reach.
Still shy, I draw him close to kiss him, and...
My evil clock awakes me. Anger and
despair grow stronger as I see that each
quick second's tick, I'm further from the sand,
from waves, and from his hand. Resigned, I reach
from underneath the sheets, and smack my hand
upon the clock that took me from my beach.
The make-believe beach, unreal waves and
the fantasy sand, the phantom sea: each
still out of reach -- like my lover's hand.
CANDLE, MOTH AND I
I had been unwilling witness
to thirteen unlucky years --
now too old for real laughter;
not too young for real tears.
So I had to find an answer,
just a way to get away --
to seek the sum of my tomorrows,
escape the boredom of today.
Then I took the painless poison,
twenty tablets, blue and red;
cast the curtains from the window,
climbed one last time into bed.
Through the window, summer wind blew,
August warm and midnight black;
stirred the curtains and the cobwebs;
whisper-whistled, "Don't turn back."
And I lit a little candle,
a single piercing point of light
I thought would be my sole companion
for that final endless night.
But the candle's brilliant flicker
and the summer's gentle breath
drew a weary kindred spirit,
joining me in early death.
On his dusty wings a lone moth,
a suicidal butterfly,
deathwish-driven to the candle,
in frustration fluttered by.
I watched his ever-shrinking circuit
as he flew in frenzied flight --
first to vanish in the shadows,
then to dance in candlelight.
Would I live to see the moment
when his small life fed the flame?
Would his darkness after bright and pain
and my own be just the same?
Only calm and warmth and darkness,
quite a pleasant way to die...
All alone and all together
little candle, moth and I.
The tearing of paper; the sulfurous scratch;
a flash and a hiss from the tip of the match.
The bright-burning candle wick flickers to catch
the sad eye of Moth in the wildflower patch.
What's the light?
Look how bright...
Could it be
The bright beacon beckoning
mad Moth to run
to his moment of reckoning
shines like the sun
with promise of light everlasting, of stillness, of peace.
In exchange for an instant of pain, all further pain will cease.
Wings churning and straining, Moth joyously plays
his already-lost game of chance with the blaze.
With each dip and circle Moth's gray wingtips graze
the fiery death-doorway fixed in his gaze.
Yes, I see...
End it now --
this is how.
His insect irrelevance
so soon to end,
Moth slows in his spiral-dance,
starts to descend,
afloat on a tideswell of firelight and soft cricket-song.
Now relaxed, he drifts down with the candle-flame drawing him along.
Die now in the light of the white savior-spark;
don't suffer through life and then die in the dark...
Moth finally aims for his radiant mark,
cuts through in a freefalling, flame-trailing arc.
This is how:
sets the candle on its stand.
Hot fires lick
at the candle's twisted wick.
Dry fibers hiss
at the match's searing kiss.
Splinter of light
wakens in the sullen night,
sways to and fro
as the summer breezes blow.
Sad child sleeps
as the glowing candle keeps
dark held at bay,
and night's shadows shrink away.
Drawn through the air
by the white hypnotic flare,
lonely Moth flies,
and the fire blinds his eyes.
Quick seconds tick...
From the melting candlestick,
tears of wax spill
on the wooden windowsill.
Life's spark burns bright,
but it flickers out tonight;
dawn's light will find
only cold wax left behind.