One Winter Night
after Mark Strand
My breath rose like a ghostly cloud into the air,
dispersing particles of me, invisible envoys
that would remain after I was gone,
marking my passage though no one would see.
The moon was a white slip, mute witness,
hanging high in a sullen wintry sky.
The street was silent, snow frosting
pavements, the front yards of the houses —
houses clinging to their warmth against the cold,
hosting domestic lives within their walls.
Not a soul stood by a window looking out.
I was tempted to stay outside, to embrace
night’s immensity, its indifferent
domain, I was tempted to walk away into it,
into an unscripted future with unknown
demands, but only for a moment, shivering,
the notion a whimsy, a flight of fantasy,
before I climbed the front steps,
icy hands turning the key to unlock the door,
returning me to my chosen life,
my chores, my children, my wife.
The Cognitive Dissonance Factories
Oh, how we have refined our techniques,
are refining them still, all for our production line,
churning out item after item, each one
individually tailored with our special mix
of empowerment and brutality, a little terror
here, a little deprivation there,
some brainwashing, some kicking of
severed heads, and promises, oh promises
of redemption, of a better world for believers,
of death to the infidels, of virgins
for martyrs, but let’s start with the children
and the messages they carry
in their brutalized hearts,
the future we are making embedded
within them, all our invisible suicide vests,
let’s start there where our immortality can blossom,
can bloom in their childish chests
and fear can grip the world.
for Jan Beatty
The mentor is so much more than herself —
she is her own reward:
she is wizard, prospector, pirate, conjurer,
maze of mirrors.
She practices rites of levitation and alchemy,
casts spells, holds students in her thrall.
What treasures come from this cannot be foreseen:
gold leaf on the Buddha,
sparkling raiment, cloudbursts,
citadels of delight. What she begins
takes on a life of its own,
fizzing trajectories of fire crackers
lighting up the dark. She knows
there is no greater reward than this,
her face illuminated in such light.
David Adès is a Pushcart Prize nominated Australian poet living in Pittsburgh since 2011. He has been a member of Friendly Street Poets since 1979. He is the author of “Mapping the World” (Friendly Street Poets / Wakefield Press, 2008) commended for the Anne Elder Award 2008, and the chapbook “Only the Questions Are Eternal” (Garron Publishing, 2015). David was a volunteer editor of the Australian Poetry Members Anthology “Metabolism”. His poems have appeared widely in Australia and the U.S. In 2014 David was awarded the inaugural University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was also shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize.