Grounds for Divorce
I said I do
promising until death
do we part,
but did not expect
her to start
trying to bury me
during the honeymoon.
I pass illusions in the street speaking in dead archaic tongues:
Celtic, Iberian, Latin, Frankish, Basque.
I let them drift by, move on with their imagined lives
as I stare at buildings and monuments made of sand and mud,
waiting for the breeze to carry the scent of rotting carrion
to the circling vultures disguised as taxi drivers.
The making of a katana
requires the efforts
of two masters.
The master sword maker
melts temple nails
and hammers iron
But, the blade
is not complete
until the master
grinds and rubs
the edge to razor
the work of two masters:
One who wields the pen
and one who edits
and polishes prose
to make the final gem
gleam in full brilliance.
South of the Border
The mountains of Mexico call to me.
Hidden villages whisper my name.
Scrub pines and coyote watch for my coming.
I travel in black but am invisible in the sunlight.
At night I glow like a desert moon
but only when no one is looking.
Shaman and priest, I go seeking
the magicians of the wind
and their hidden nests
in the minds of trees and hearts of rock.
Two Thumbs Up
It is a good day regardless of the facts
and even the fainthearted should smile
and maybe whistle through broken teeth
at this strange sky and stranger sun
that brings us light and warmth
and the wind and the water
that makes it all just cool enough
to abide with.
The lilac tree is past its prime,
but survives in the garden
half-choked by vines.
Dead branches scratch our heads
when we pass through the yard gate,
but we dare not cut them down
lest we chase off our red-headed friend
who visits each morning at dawn
and drills holes that perforate the wood
making the branch look like a sieve.
Many times I have seen our friend.
Many more times I have heard
him hammering beak through bark
to feed on hidden grubs.
Sometime I have confused his sound
when I am still half asleep
with the jack hammers and back hoes
repaving Theodore Roosevelt Boulevard,
but when I realize the source of the noise
I can roll back to pleasant dreams.
I have caught sight of him
or one of his kin clinging to the trunk
of the storm-broken willow
on the other side of our back fence
at the top of the ravine that plunges
down to where the creek flows.
Where his nest is I do not know,
nor would I seek to disturb his home
by prying into his workman's peace
after his long day's labors.
It is enough to know he is punctual
and does his job the best he can.
Nature tolerates no shirkers
and does not require a foreman.
Augury at Hopewell Village
The iron monger's restless ghost
walks the oak boards of the old house
as the spirits of long dead workers
drift through the old company village
that once turned out iron pigs and cannon.
Overhead, turkey vultures circle,
their featherless red heads naked
in the late winter wind.
They are searching for lost tourists
and abandoned school children
missing from school trips
among the weed-covered slag heaps.
They find only an old pair of birders
with binoculars fixed to the sky
hiking the brown and white landscape
searching for returning migrants
and other sacred signs of a wheel
turning inexorably into a forever spring.
© Joseph Farley
Bio: Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, and Her Eyes.