My Beard

This beard tells me
I will effect change,
I will outlast
For I now recall how
I was told myriad times
As a frightened child
By the bullies and the doubters
And weird interlopers
That I would never make it so far
As to be something of the man.

Yet here I am still;
Wide-eyed, narrow exposure,
I grew up believing the wolf alarms
Long after my peers had departed
For work and wives while I remained
Faint-hearted. Some said
My heart was not for restarting,
That I would not last until the morning,
And although my hand is sometimes
Shaking uncontrollably,
And although I cannot do so much
That all the others do so well,
My beard in the morning-room mirror
Through blind grit and bare graft
Tells me I am alive in daylight-bells,
My beard tells me, irrevocably,
That without the silent breaking
There is little point in a spell.

On Being Brave

Sometimes bravery feels far away,
Like plantations in New Mexico,
Or statues in a concrete-grey
Of Edith Cavell, or the Arapaho

In Wyoming. Sometimes, nondisclosure
Of memory’s easier than being brave
In the face of his granite exposure;
With less closure, there’s more we crave.

He takes Youth and has our age depraved,
He takes Hope’s wings, our flight’s delayed;
Know this, in Time your role is saved;
Let go of the years, alone and afraid.

On golden platters he gave you some money,
Enough to buy sheers for a hedge;
He held your waist and called you ‘Honey’
In a pool-side photo he would allege

Later like all the others were taken
By someone else, paid long ago;
Bravery will slowly awaken
When money in their mouths we sow.

His words were the same as the rifle
Demeaning and strafing the souls,
Don’t leave free speech a disciple
To the spades for filling the hole.

Keep bravery close to your chest,
Like medals pinned to your coat;
On eternal journeys he is bereft,
Descending in a mulberry boat.