At the barn sale the artist's widow
Was closing down this part of her life,
Selling out the residue of daily living
And a few remaindered artifacts of her husband's craft.
I'm sorry, I said.
It was a blessing, he had suffered.
Was there a brochure, I asked, about his work?
Only a business card:
Armand Bouteau Gallery, it said,
And below that:
Authorized agent, Farm Pride Tractors.
I bought a small canvas, a seascape,
Somewhere on the coast of Maine,
A place he’d been once.
Of its merit, or excellence of composition,
I did not know, I did not want to know.
Requiem in the Days
Shards of a waning century:
Upgrades, Internet blindness,
Biggie sizing, downsizing, managed care.
Gated communities, school safety:
Arm the teachers, maybe the seniors:
Who will remember the names of the towns?
E-mail, hate mail, outsourcing.
Motel soap, acceptable risk.
Budget surplus, attention deficit:
O.J., Oklahoma City, Monica, MTV.
Talk radio, murders at the post office,
On afternoon TV. Dickens was half right.
You have no new messages.
I went to our school library this morning.
I wanted to see our kids safe, working,
Finding out hopeful things.
Of course that’s what they had done
At Columbine that morning.
Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.