Jack Duty

A millennium hence the Lord tours his dominions,
Querying, probing, pondering opinions
Harvested from hearts He esteems

Well, regarding vital matters: the sprouting of seeds,
The colors of comets, the assessment of mortal deeds…
Turning then, it seems,

To consult a merry soul, He listens closely
to counsel well rooted in a lifetime of service, while mostly
All of heaven patiently lingers.

Weighing advice reverently tendered,
The Lord tarries, laughs at pithy accounts rendered
Parcel to sage fare, then fingers

Lovingly the soul, and carries on his way.
May He grant that I am there on that day.

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denouement

(for Michael Koop)

Grandma died suddenly and crushed us kids,
Who were unprepared for
The staggering loss
That old people and families manage so well.

The Family stumbled.
Things were said
That echo faintly,
Even now.

But Family is family,
Which is why
Grandma is a sweet memory,
Not a bitter one.

It seems to me that your Family did it right,
Gathering,
And your tears seem
Much of denouement,

Less of loss.
Family is family, and your loss is
Near to mine.
So I didn’t go.

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On the Death of Your Father

(for John Swenning)

Enchanted – listening there to subterranean conflicts of love,
Lad and Dad, dark echoes of me and my old man.

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i gave my brother’s wife an orange

for maryann…

i gave my brother’s wife an orange
and bound our souls,
hers and mine.

not a whole orange,
less than half –
all she could bear.

summoned there,
throttled,
loving her so long,

i stood dumb, mute
at her whispered,
“i love you.”

i gave her an orange,
she slept, and
my heart broke.

i gave my
brother’s wife
an orange.

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ask that you dream

constant sin
cauterizes nerves
essential for
rousing God:
your swaying,
unsanctified, blemished,

unwise, unesteemed,
clinkered dream
can metamorphosize
into morning
golden Paradise.

ask that you dream.

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