unveiling

Rumors of War
On a Wednesday night
in our New South,
a black man

astride a horse
sees the cold, almost-
ripe moon for the first time.

heavy drapes hang
on the bronze bolts of his hair
for forty full minutes 

in the sinking light,
tugged free at last by an unnamed fireman
as a marching band plays. 

so like the old Capital: all pomp and letting go
by degrees. it’s how the papers will spin it, anyway,
ghosts murmuring softly into the rain

while the crowd cheers
and the politicos pat themselves
under their wide umbrella-grins.

the generals down the block
are not moved. maple leaves
blush red in the late fall air.

next night, just across the river,
music spills for the first time
in a white-bricked café, 

full-ish house, applause.
a pink-haired kid with a violin has struck
up Ashokan Farewell, another song 

on a playlist of our beautiful dead.
like most people, we can’t see the monuments
from here, nor—most days—the ghosts.

it’s as if nothing has changed,
nothing significant at all, except
the moon, now full, 

looking down
on a slightly different city.

as April ends, aftershocks

In Nepal, they are dead by the thousands,
yet at night, in the epic tragedy of our bed,
they are hardly spared a thought as we fight
for the happiness so long missed. I wanted
this to be an easy poem to write: all sweeping
sentiment and unfolded perspective, laundry
tossed on the couch and handily sorted.
I, after all, have no burials to plan, no body to bear.
Survival is too far a concept to be bought dear,
though, and I am left with this landslide
of vague loneliness, wishing only for you
to hold me, for a kindness, for a plane ticket
to Katmandu. There are all kinds of earthquakes,
love; some nearer home than others.

The Slip, deep winter

in
shockoe,
foul waters run
downhill, trickle-drip
through cobbles like
tears on stony
cheeks.

canal-shadows
lie like fog ink
in the footprints
of the devil’s half acre,
glutted with the browns
of swollen January.

the river dreams of escape.
seabirds cry grey laments,
the beating of their winterwings
stirring blighted hope
as they careen homeward, away,

and,
for the first time,
i am
afraid
to walk the water-paths
alone.