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.

 

 

The Mentor

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 Ades

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.

 

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