Robert C. Knox
I am a husband, father, rabid backyard gardener, and blogger on nature, books, films and other subjects based on the premise that there's a garden metaphor for everything. Still utopian and idealistic after all these years, I cover the arts for the Boston Globe's 'South' regional section. "My poems have been published recently by The Poetry Superhighway, Semaphore Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, These and other journals. "Suosso's Lane," my recently published novel about the Sacco-Vanzetti case, is available at www.Web-e-Books.com.
American Martyr: Heather Heyer, 1985-2017
of whom we know little more than a name,
daughter of the permanent revolution
engulfing our illusions
like a continent of ice breaking from
the buried heart of the world.
In private fires of our own darker places
we would bind them to the stake,
of the precious mystery
we carry but once around the carousel
and bid their fellows
embrace the conflagration.
We cry for the loss of an American woman
First death by murder
in the resistance to the Big Lie
and all the little liars,
wherein we pull down both statue and state
of the Abomination installed
by the Abominables.
We call for justice,
for the condemnation
of the murderers,
of the haters
who caucus with death
who toast the suffering of the poor
with chalices of blood.
We call as well
For the waters of truth
to cleanse us
For the rivers of division
for those who emerge cleansed
and those who sink below
For the vines to bind us
For the trees to grow over the burial of ancient wounds.
We call for the skies to rain forgiveness on those
too weary to act,
unable, or unwilling, to remove the age's blot on the
name of humanity
For the sword of vengeance
that cleaves the sickness and leaves the body whole
For the blood that restores
And for the return of those who were taken
from a courthouse
or a school yard
or a meeting
with the Liar-in-Chief's Agents of Injustice
We mourn the death of an open land,
a land without fences
without borders militarized
by killing words and ancient, nourished hates
We pray for words
to scald the guilty
and soothe the urge to take the body
of those who caucus with oppression
who toast the humiliations of the poor
with cupped hands of martyr's blood
... as they have taken the
flesh and the blood of the martyr.
A life's full measure
drained upon a murdered street.
A mother, a woman of an aging generation
who lived, perhaps, as many of us did
the youthful dream of the beloved republic,
and seamlessly un-stated lives,
now brutally shorn of love's full future
We turn to the martyrs,
then and now,
we offer our thoughts,
we smaller souls,
our still living dreams,
and wordless hope:
Guide us to the sacred place
where the heart knows
what to do
and does it simply
in obedience to the voice within.
We supplicate to the four directions
to the places beyond the dim morass
of blasted times
for deliverance from the wastelands
of the bloated, lie-fed country
and for renewal of the gleaming sands and green islands
of the great good world,
new to the mind
and growing endlessly
I've Got Algorithm
The phone it rings on Monday
at nine, ten and eleven
If it stings me any more today
I'll send it soon to heaven
Of course it's better other days
I feed and squeeze and pet it
Some days it rings and rings and rings,
today I just don't get it
The work it piles around me
The ants crawl on my desk
Free bots line up to sound me
Their pitch is Kafkaesque
Please tell me why I need to hear,
When otherwise I'm feeling fine,
Reminders of the woe and weird
That to my number 'they' assign?
And if they do not stop it soon
I may just cut my land-line
In My Element
What would that be?
Hydrogen, that airy nothing?
longing for a chemical swim in an oxygen tank,
like the one my father, a lifelong smoker,
never managed to turn on.
Nitrogen? For all those strongly growing green-hearted plants,
taking us by the hand, careless children that we are,
and walking us up the food chain.
Carbon? Basis for all this life we live,
yet forming a dangerous alliance with two happily bonded O's,
coughed up by all that humanity humming merrily, thoughtlessly along
-- such as, for wearying instance, that ice cream paddy-wagon
regaling the senses with countless repetitions
of the opening sally of "Do Your Ears Hang Long?"
Or that constant reminder when the neighbor's A/C
comes on yet again, mindlessly regular and inorganic,
that we are powering ourselves rapidly
to a permanent dissolution of all we are, chemically speaking.
Yet best of all, perhaps, that complicated blending
of all life's favorites,
lapping up rivers of CO2 -- plus healthy helpings of those other friends --
we call 'photosynthesis' because, perhaps, it is
pretty as a picture?
in the turn of the year,
gazing at the Cesium* dream above.
(*the blue element)
To the Preferred Ticket-Holders
(Who May Now Board)
Isn't it enough to be born American?
All that public education
(OK, tony private schools)
followed by sleep-away campuses
with their ideal worlds of loose-lipped Olympians,
flowers of illusion
thought balloons escaping
the gravity of the great world's
those clouds obscured by
by privilege impressed upon us
by the happy face of Chance:
here you may eat
each happy face bequeathed its own cradle,
and the fawning sheep,
the dumb-struck mule
Wasn't that enough?
Get on first.
And here also are those who love you,
for no reason to be understood
(for at least two decades)
And still you must love and be adored
And still you protest,
seeking more -- for someone
like (or perhaps unlike) you,
born with a place at the table,
a ticket for belonging
to someone, attached to something,
with a face on a dollar bill,
that license to breathe
which you acquired
by coming to earth
in the place where they were handing out
to any bag of flesh
that came along
Standing room is free.
Pay what you can.
© 2017 Robert C. Knox
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