Michael L. Newell
I was, for over two decades, an expatriate teacher who lived in thirteen countries (on five different continents) outside the United States. I have been published in Lilliput Review, Bellowing Ark, Current, and Rattle. My most recent book, Traveling without Compass or Map, is from Bellowing Ark Press. I have recently retired to the coast of Oregon where I spend considerable time slowly walking past creek, river, and forest. My poems mostly try to find connections across time and space, and similarities in the midst of differences.
Two Take Root
A cottonwood seed armada
sails an evening Tashkent wind.
It glides and bobs past sycamore,
white oak, an assembly
of ballet-goers, two shabby
drunks, and a crippled beggar
who uses her one gnarled
hand to touch passersby.
People flick her hand away
the way they brush the seeds
out of their eyes and hair.
In Tashkent's impoverished economic soil,
beggars sprout everywhere--
human weeds in abandoned
Every annoyed hand
which flicks the poor aside
clones a dozen more beggars
with the stunned eyes
of clubbed fish
gasping for air.
Grasping for cash, leftover scraps
of bread, discarded slices of pizza,
half-eaten chicken bones, cheap vodka,
staggering in the wake of the well-
dressed, the financially fit, the survivors
of an economic wasteland, these are
the whisperers, the ghost
voices on night's wind, dead cells
society sheds which refuse
to disappear or absolve us.
The cottonwood seeds sink taproots
into Tashkent's oasis water.
The poor multiply even faster
in Tashkent's economic desert,
a twentieth century version
of the miracle of loaves and fishes,
a feast featuring the starving elderly,
child beggars, and teenage prostitutes:
Mary Magdalenes whose Christs
are fat European and American businessmen,
and the apostles and disciples are minor
corporate or government functionaries
who busily crunch between their teeth
the seeds carelessly strewn by their leaders.
Nothing can grow where scavengers
pillage every crumb, seed, and dropping.
-first published in First Class
©2015 Michael L. Newell