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The Loss of the Moon

It was the greatest loss of our species, the moon,
and few of us ever knew how dependent we were
on the great, pale sphere; but once missing, it left

us distraught and without direction. New Orleans
ceased to be a city, and despairing caravans of former
inhabitants crawled northward as if this point of

compass were more moon-like than any other. I met
you in Tennessee during the blackest night of this
exodus; you sat on the hood of your ancient Chevy,

starring up at the dark as if a pure yearning could
return the moon to us all, your black, straight hair
hanging from your head like a curtain guarding a

sacristy; some contrary sense told me we were going
to be lovers, and your dark eyes confirmed it when you
sensed me admiring you. "The only thing we can do is

go on," you told me as you looked down, and it seemed
clear that this has always been the best response to any great
tragedy, from our species, this equal backlash by procreation.

The Receiver Nun

You always claimed to be small or wayward,
at other times claiming you were a gnome or

a boy or, mostly, a child, yet all these terms
were really just parts of the poem you crafted

by your very life, a thirty-odd year endeavor
fashioned by your very hands, like your famous

gingerbread, and this too was meant to be
consumed, this reclusive endeavor, this white

dress existence, so methodical . . . a poem.
Who else could have been this audacious?

And all the while the poems themselves
pounded down, unstoppable, and God knows

you tried to stop, certain years, at last realizing
this life you crafted was now you, was now

your real being, with the author becoming
the character, no longer wayward at all, indeed

the bulletins from immortality transformed the
receiver nun into she who projects centuries ahead.

The West Coast of Africa

There in the dunes, there in the sand, your
face was so close to mine your lips caused

my own breath to speak your words and I
pronounced myself a man of clay, an Enkidu

who was nearly human and only alive under
your hand. You told me this was how all us

travelers fashioned our own beings, finding
the proper partner to cavort with across eternity,

what we know of it, the eternal being only what
we can comprehend, so in this sense it is quite

finite. Our memories are only a few centuries more
durable than our clay bodies, you point out, then

move your lips even nearer. You have me mouth
the words, how did we come to recall each other?

(c) Ward Kelley 2002

Max Ernst
Ward Kelley

"I'm a 51 year old business executive with 3,600 people in the division reporting to me.  I only mention this because in a sense the daimon that propels my occupation also propels my poetry.  For instance, Gertrude Stein once said, "If Mr. Robert Frost is at all good as a poet, it is because he is a farmer -- really in his mind a farmer, I mean."  So in my mind am I a businessman who writes poetry, or a very minor poet successful at business?  Who knows?  Yet I tread carefully with this balance for fear my daimon will leave me, or my greed will taunt me for decades."