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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Lines Composed on President Obama’s Second Inauguration

 

 

 

Treading the fair Potomac’s Virginia

bank alone this burnished day, I flushed

an eagle from a tree, a sycamore

bone white on a sky of royal felt,

its wing feathers buzzing like a thumbed

deck of cards, recalling the files of geese

that used to lumber past our balcony

after fouling up the grounds around

Lake Carnegie, and my surprise – never

knowing such a sound – and gratitude.

 

     The pair of eagles I passed an hour glassing                                            

in the uppermost limbs across the lake,

reposing in migration, were the first

I’d seen since the first I ever saw –

that gliding through the gap between the pines

above my father as we paddled up

the Mullica, back when they were rarer.

The nation has since healed, in that the country

is more habitable, relatively

speaking of course, and I no longer bother

numbering those that I have spotted after

those across the lake. Disciples of Muir,

I thank you for the view.

                                                 I doubt the trout,

catching a surprise ride with the osprey,

enjoyed it much, but then, being nearsighted,

he had no idea what he was missing.

Eye-to-eye with the raptor’s midday meal,

I considered that if he considered

anything at all, it must have been pain –

the moment, not the possibility

of a return to water, a return

in time, no, the moment only.

                                                           The lake

froze over that winter. While skating

bank to bank I secretly pretended

to be sharing in a timeless pastime.

It’s a fake lake, Lake Carnegie,

dug for sculling crews.

      The Mullica,

now she’s a river truly, self-determined.

Her cedar water, though soft, infused

with iron ore, froze over one Christmas. 

Celebrants saw us on it knocking a hockey

puck and each other about. The old piney

living longer there than any other

claimed that he had never seen it so.

But so it was, and with the turning tide,

as sonorous cracking rippled beneath our backs,

regaining breath I welcomed nascent stars,

no more vaunting a pretense of timelessness.

 

     Having gambled unwittingly, and lost,

why must we now willfully make the world

less habitable? Nature, so we’re told,

never did betray the heart that loved her.

A friend of mine claims that he sees famine

not far off, a generation hence.

Think the American Century was bloody?

Find the droning of innocents egregious?

You have no idea how red can run.

But I will rest in hope, open myself

to it, cherishing what intervals

of peace bless us, be they real or merely

gaps in time, unformed till shaped by pain.

Playing ball as a boy I hoped for rain.

 

                 -Matthew Dulany





Down the Upgrade

 

 


If my friend should snicker to see me tucking in my sweater,

why not let her?

 

I pad across the floor, I paddle to the shore,

I do all that and more, avoiding the iPad store…

 

After all, I rake the yard and more leaves fall.

I rake the yard and more leaves fall, after all.                          

 

I patty-cake with bores I swore that I’d ignore,

declare a pad thai score ‘tween wry, plaid-clad drum corps…

 

Why should I feel all but done for, my disinclinations starker?

Why not retouch the walnut stain with burnt sienna marker?

 

I pry open padlocked doors, let fly ol’ battened drawers,

stir fry phalloides spores before the iPad store…

 

No, I’ll not let innovation beguile me,

but go on humming mildly,

 

I pad across the floor, I paddle to the shore…

 

                                                  -Matthew Dulany

 




Portrait of a Lady in Blue

 

 

 

It’s a mess, I tell you, one big mess,                                

all this crap all over the place.                                                           

The thing to do is ring true. Sorry                                     

to say, on her fanciful canvas                                                              

your fancy brushstrokes leave no trace.                                         

At times she’s in an awful hurry,                                                       

 

at times she knows not what to say.                                

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way,”                                               

 

so bumpers tell her. Indecision-                                       

ridden, in the usual rude mood,                                                        

“Sure, I’ll have another of the same,”                              

she consents with sensible derision,                                               

for happy hour is for fools who                                                           

deem it not unworthy of its name.                                   

 

“But I don’t want to die. Not now.                                    

Not ever, but really not now.”                                                            

 

And so the thing to do is ring true.                                                   

I am sorry to say, belying                                                     

our gerrymandered milieu,                                                                 

she tires of irony, snickering too.

She always loves you at this time                                                     

of year, so listen to her, will you?                                      

 

-Matthew Dulany