Endearing Ruins – Liebenswerte Ruinen

Bilingual Edition German/English
LILIOM Verlag, 2012
$20.00 (Cover illustration by Mike Sleadd)

Selections:

Poet as Grand Marshal of the Fall Parade

Doubting the gravitas, the decorum, it’s poetry after all,

and being led by a Boy Scout honor guard that’s following a police car’s

flashing lights, their brown shirts sashed with merit badges,

and behind them the poet bucket-seated in a low-riding wine-dark sports car.

From a small bag, he tosses candy to children  who are wondering

why they’re not watching Saturday morning cartoons, knowing Halloween

is a month off.  Standing with their plastic Wal-Mart and Moser bags,

costumed in sleep they wake to the brash high school marching band

as it gracelessly plays what is half-remembered after so few weeks of practice

this early in the school year.  The cough and clatter of two diesel tractors,

a wagon pulled by mules, another by horses, the women’s garden club

armed with rakes and shovels, the women’s Red Hat Society, a rabble

from the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor biking in circles

around the too slow procession, and whatever else joins in..

The poet agreed thinking this is what football players are adored into doing,

but he’s never led a team to victory much less played, and he considered wearing

shoulder pads outside his suit with poems scrawled in inch-high letters on

the plastic, but he was afraid to confuse the mile-long, one-person-deep crowd

more than they already were as he passed out poems once the candy ran out.


 

Bogged Down

At first the body was thought to be the missing boy from last year,

lost on a class trip

along the Baltic Sea; then it was the man who left the Danish bar one hour

before New Year’s fireworks

and hasn’t been seen in a decade; or the wife, forty years

since she walked out

of the grocery store, there’s that little left.  Perhaps it’s all of them returning

to tell

their secrets in this one body, but there’s something odd about the throat,

slashed ear

to ear, rope burns, cracked skull, head half shaved, blindfolded, feet broken,

legs lacerated,

left arm severed, chest wound, and staked down, yet resting peacefully,

face beatific, each wound sacred.

Preserved peat-perfect:  forehead smooth, skin relaxed, one side of the face

flattened from

an interminable sleep, stubble on the chin, knees folded fetally, missing

for two millennia

and no one missing. Waterlogged, acidic tannins turning skin to leather,

fine enough

for police finger printing, though the crime will never be known.  Tacitus records

that in Germania,

98 A.D., The coward, the unwarlike, the man stained with abominable vices, is plunged

into the mire or the morass. 

Or for other reasons . . . purified in a secret lake, slaves perform the rite,

who are instantly swallowed up by its waters. 

The sacrificed, the executed, resurfacing with us, who day by day wonder the way

and wander the difference.