My Salute to the Decoder Ring
If I had an amazing tool
it would be a decoder ring
straight from my cereal box
that would morph into a briefcase,
when I pressed a button
into the hand tooled leather satchel.
It would convert into a space ship,
a small one like a commuter airplane,
I could use to get to work by flying
over the traffic jams and chaos.—
Then, I would press the button twice
and the airplane would shrink back
into my briefcase and then—transform
into my wristwatch communicator
with genuine stainless steel band.
I would call up the moving sidewalk
that whisks me into my office,
and then—converts into a robot
who helps me get all my work done
in half the time.—I, then, rotate
a hidden dial on the communicator
which springs to life a hologram
of a robotic-zoologist who helps me
understand why my robot dog, Ralph,
brings every neighbor’s newspaper
to my house early in the morning
along with all the laundry that hung
on their clotheslines overnight
still moist with dew and robot dog saliva.
I must wash the clothes and return them
to correct owners, by using my wristwatch
communicator to convert into a laundry
specialist robot who cleans and dispatches
the dainties and dungarees to the right location.
—Thankful for my decoder ring that helps me
understand my relatives’ messages written
in illegible scrawls and top secret spy data
that comes from alien planets, I know
without it, my work would never get done.
The Night Visitors
We notice seven lights in the sky
greenish orbs that spread out, over
the mountain—move silently
like fog descends—but the haze
comes only in our heads—
the mountains, trees and village,
we clearly see. The waves break
in the sky like—a great ship plows
the ocean—but then, there is sea spray—
water sound—engine sound—
which we understand—but this—
unearthly silence—mute tree frogs
—deer, like statues of great heroes
stand erect, motionless. Paralyzed we are—
by fear—or some mysterious nerve
potion that holds us in a grip tighter
than a parsimonious uncle
caresses a gold-double-eagle.
We open our mouths to call out
to each other—but nothing comes
out—no scream—no sound
like the engine above that propels
the craft with its green lights
that move first in formation,
then scatter as marbles—then, reconfigure.
So much happens in only minutes—
seconds really—we search what
this strange manner of lights
could be, a coat rack for the mystery
that envelopes the quiet valley.
Just as quickly as it began,
the orbs that had invaded our sky
leave the witnesses’ view—and this peaceful
valley, pretty much, as they found it—
but—Oscar, the old hound dog,
never bays again, Granny Perkins
develops a twitch and we avoid
the night sky—shun the color green,
that gently glows our skin
on quiet, moonless nights.
He bides his time
his cleaning rag
up and down the barrel.
He caresses the wooden stock
and gently slides his cloth
into the gaping chamber,
empty mouthed, runs his
finger round the metal curve
of the trigger guard—no clear sense
The kitchen table stark,
metallic white with red inserts
that complete the tableau.
Yesterday’s news spread across
the table, headlines that don’t have
a proper sense of urgency, today
in the empty kitchen. He stews—
reads aloud from the Book of Revelation.
A finger of bourbon in a jelly jar
awaits near his right hand.
All that’s inside him floats smoothly—
up and down the barrel, his voice calls
out the words from Revelation like
a mother calls home a child, late for supper.
He reads in soft crescendo,
I heard behind me a voice
like a trumpet.
Nothing outside shows the seething
that simmers close to a boil,
just a man, alone
maintaining his weapon,
no one sees the flames
that lap the backside of his eyeballs
and warm the underside of his brain
nothing but the sounds of a rag sliding the shaft
and thundering hooves propelling the four horsemen.