The Dead are always astonished

The Dead are always astonished

by the dying itself, how it comes

subtle like the scent of rain before


the first drops that fall unnoticed,

except for the small circles on pavement,

and surprised by the weight of it all,


a thing never consider in the morning

hours just before, and how it is lighter

than air; not what was expected at all


with an overwhelming ache to laugh.

How strange now the living are

to the Dead, with all their longing and


weight.  So the Dead avoid the living,

and gather in large open spaces with

all the other Dead and dance elaborate


dances and laugh or lounge in trees

taking time to read the books the wanted

to or write letters they should’ve written


long ago.  And the Dead are astonished

by everything around them and the Dead
are constantly in awe.  Maybe that’s why


the Dead never attend their own funerals,  

but look on, sending their love from a distance

as if afraid of catching something.


Balthazar 21


The moon is like a silverblueballoon that slowly rises into the sky carrying Balthazar with it like one of those string tied letters sent to the wind. Balthazar sits on his bed looking out the window, the same window he has been looking out ever since his father came home from work. The moonlight sneaks through the window startling the cat and then into his room. Mom? (he thinks) is that you? He knows it’s not but…somewhere inside his body, maybe in his young heart already made more of memory than muscle, she’s still here washing dishes, the steam from the sink fogging the window where she draws hearts with the yellow plastic gloved hand and in every heart she ever drew, in the middle of it, she always wrote the letter B.

B pushes his bed closer to the window, spreads the curtains wide and opens it. The moon is bright and fuller than full. The moon is now at every window of every house, and the moon has become so big it fills the whole sky, silvering all the open fields of the world— Balthazar, throws all the bedding to the floor and takes off his shirt. He lies there with the moon so big that the man on the moon gives him a bright kiss— while Balthazar outlines the letter B on the bare skin above his small glowing breast; over and over and over again.

On Being Balthazar #13

Balthazar’s father is sitting in the chair with its back to the front door, weeping.  This makes Balthazar very uncomfortable. He walks slowly past him, opening the screen door slowly and once past the threshold, takes off in a flash.  The screen door slams back against the door frame with its tinny thud.  Balthazar’s father shaken by the sudden noise hurriedly wipes the tears from his eyes, “Balthazar is that you?”  But Balthazar is already across the lawn and entering the backwoods.  Walking through shadow and light Balthazar thinks of adults crying.  He never saw an adult cry before, not one and was trying to understand why he ran.  Maybe it’s because, he thought, that once you grew up and were an adult, all that crying stuff would be over. He thought about it a lot and had been pretty set on the idea that being sad was a kid thing.  Maybe he was wrong after all and that was too much to imagine.

The Exile Reinaldo Garcia Ramos

Habana – I must leave you!
because the night clanks through
your dark streets, mechanical

and the night is dragging itself sparking
against the stones of the streets and its sparks
are only an approximation of stars,

Because of your numerous eyes  I have
sold my typewriter; and scribble these
line inside my head. Everyone’s fields

have started to burn, even my field is aflame
with the books that I have written or should
have written, tonight the hills have an eerie glow

of war, while the inside and the outside
of apartment walls argue, jealous of the other
not knowing the difference hasn’t mattered

for years.  I am tired of all this! Habana,
I must leave you. Hurry we must pack
our shadows, and our shirts. O how our words

have become palsied, ours has become a sad
language of gestures and daily white flags.
Hurry we must leave before our words fail us

we must leave my love, everyone has gone before us,
by grave or by sea even the moon has left
as a stowaway on a borrowed boat.

In the beginning

for Linnea,

Suddenly a flash
across the sky

a bang! – a scent
the scent of

then rain

another bang –

setting off all the car alarms
in my heart.

In the beginning you came to me
like a flash
of lightning

that makes everything visible
for a brief moment
and stays in the eye longer.

in the beginning
you came to me

in a flash,
in a bang
in the sizzle

of summer
and I stood

mouth open
and sang.

In the beginning
we wrote our initials
in the sky

and would dream on the backs of kites
finding each other’s faces
in the shapes of clouds.

Then we exchanged our names
and carved them into wood.
Now you come to me

closer to earth,
more arboreal
than aerial,

in soil wet to the touch
and bittersweet to the tongue,
you come to me speaking of life.

Out from the earth –
a thousand green arrows
leaping from the loam-

exuberant flowers
exploding across a field

to applause.

We have become more of earth than sky,


unmovable –
Together we are like one tree

connecting both worlds,
a crackling current,
a live wire,

a green fire.
We are alternating currents
of green and gold.

the gold
of lost cities
of leaves.

Now we are each
a falling leaf
of one tree,

Our prayers of gratitude
are reborn blue-green
of earth and sky.

Each day we are born.
Each day we die.
Each day we are born.

Our hymn
leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf.

Of Love and War Rewrite

Of Love and War
“Sometimes love is stronger than a man’s convictions.”
                                      – Isaac Bashevis Singer

There are wars and rumors of wars.
machineries and machination of

singular dark days
and singular dark clouds that hang

like props above our city.

We shut the window, we avoid their play.

Hungrily we take refuge between
each other’s legs.

How comforting this is to us,
to love without armies or tanks

or generals of reasoned love. 


There are wars and rumors of wars.
machineries and machination of 
singular dark days

From the narrow street, they can see us
wrestling with an angel –

 the tugging of limbs and hair- 
You speak low so they can’t hear

your  seditious talk of love,
where my callused hands get tangled

in your  low moaning – while I hold you down

to the bed, 
                    my captive.

The occupation has begun —

your occupied body
          my country of ardent prayers.


There are wars, 
machineries and machination of

singular dark days.

The soldiers are all leaving for the front. 
Not us,  we will stay

       and wage our war
                             of tenderness.

They are all leaving this morning.
Give them your applause for their sad 
theater, and all their war ships 
                                       and planes.

they will write letters home
which will arrive without them.

  A few men will return,
          return gaunt; much less 
  than before
            with more sadness and less

And when they do
  our war 
            will have ended 
            with a flag of white
                             bed sheets,

only a little blood,

                   writing love letters on each other’s bodies.