More poems

International

Off the plane, down blank corridors,

Absently herded here, then there,

Down these stairs, out this doorway,

Onto this shuttle, strap-hanging

Past interchangeable buildings.

 

In this terminal door, and now

We’re on our own a weary while

In early-Sunday corridors,

Inhabited by those, like us,

Finding coffee instead of rest.

 

Then an empty time of waiting:

Nothing to do, nowhere to go,

Pinned by lighting and loudspeaker,

Trapped between waking and sleeping

In the country of the airlines.

 

Ramdan

He was the little boat’s crew chief,

An old man, seemingly idle

But always observing, always

Arranging accommodations,

Seeing that matters ran smoothly.

 

I got sick on one occasion,

Spent a day lounging on the deck

Waiting for the wells to refill.

All that long day, and afterward,

He asked me if I was better.

 

Much later I was told that he,

Seeing me asleep in full sun,

Arranged a curtain to give shade.

To those observing him, he said

Only, “It gets very hot here.”

 

Cairo Museum

We have been like crows or magpies,

Choosing among shining baubles,

Stashing, or working at stashing,

This fact, this view, this stone, or that,

Wandering through millennia.

 

But here in this huge museum

Is the ravens’ full treasure trove,

Filled with survivals of the years

(Fragments of forty centuries),

Our own brief scavenging, writ large.

 

 

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