EP&M Online Webmaster Page for December, 2006



Arthur Mortensen

The Caregiver's Perspective

When cells shut down, dependable couriers died,
And messages received were left unread,
Leaving the saint remorseless.  Without sin,
The body having sacrificed itself,
The angel-elect's pure thoughts lay undisturbed,
As if she could not feel her earthbound feet
Or notice that her wings were held aloft
By worshippers, not by sacred airs.
Bloodshed among the holy out of heaven
Is unremarked except by those who bear
The weight of rites that can't be left unserved.
Their sweet magic will be unpraised except
In wept confessions only God can hear.

Argument One Sunday Morning

The plate, at rest on gray, unwashed formica,
Rattled, a shocking sound at six a.m.,
When echoes should have been from kissing, not
From unrepentant shouts and curses.  Nurses
Ought to have been called to palliate the wound,
But those with senses trained to smell out blood
Would not have found a bruise, and might suspect
A ruse, no news in their profession.  Later,
A fork, singing off-key against the china
While chasing chips of bacon left behind
By fingers more attuned to grasping pork
Than trained to speak affectionate forgiveness,
Stabbed porcelain, which could or should have bled,
Its broad white cheek split open.  Spilling sherds
As tears and sparing useless words, the plate,
All Humpty-Dumpy white, went egg-shell silent,
A shattered husk beneath a spousal wall.

Still Life With Swastika

Upsetting our afternoon of gin and tonics,
And during his usual rhetorical display
Condemning every rat on Earth to Hell,
A long-time friend unveiled a set of fangs
Whose bloody tips he'd kept concealed behind
Glossy, pale lips.  Suspicion should have spoken,
used its own nose; suspicion should have listened
Rather than purred—a kittenish whore to friendship's
Poor facsimile, charm.  But no alarm
Had sounded, not when flies were buzzing round
New blood, still sticky wet in pools – what fools
His friends and colleagues played—the rules?  No looking—
And what would they have seen beyond their shoes?
When colorless Jews were found with telltale marks;
When dobermans began to lose their courage
And tucked their tails and folded their ears and howled;
When Gothic light and shadow signaled threats
Emerging, flapping, from an open window,
What was the Name they should have spoken?  Unmirrored,
It could possess a room with feral wit,
Alarm a cat, chase dogs, unhinge a bird
With songs that could undo the deafest Greek,
While they who smilingly gathered in his words,
The dark opinions that would murder millions,
Sat with their throats exposed, their eyes averted.
They gazed at the polished gleam of his forehead, appalled
By thoughts skulls bore.  And how deeply they felt
Contempt for his dark malice!  But out of sight,
Giggling co-conspirators, they warranted
A tyrant's rule by shouting inside closets;
Resisting commands with a hesitating step
Before they clicked their heels in grim assent.
A boy's murderous dreams are far, far bolder;
The ghostly father that he stabs is dead.

                                                                                                                                        Arthur Mortensen

"The future is not far behind."

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