Poetry

Who AM I? || KOREAN WAR SPRING || A PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE WITH MY GRANDDAUGHTER || BARBARIANS || NOT A CHRISTMAS STORY


WHO AM I?

Watching myself I see a "we,"
a person, as evil as any man can be.
Yet with pride
I see another "we" with a saintly side.

But who am I today?
And to put it another way
which "we" am I
at this moment
and why?

Inside I see a group
of judgment criteria,
personality soup,
from the belief cafeteria,
and not one truth is mine,
just borrowed hysteria.

Some demon truths from all—parents, teachers,
grandparents, politicians, policemen, preachers—
all meaning me well,
but these intentions
have put me in hell.

Why? Because their truths become my "we's."
And my truths might be none of these.
Hell replaces divine
when the choice
has not been mine.

It is said: Jesus cast out demons into a herd of swine,
But I am the only Jesus who can cast out mine.

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KOREAN WAR SPRING

High mountains
denuded of trees,
covered with bodies
from the last battle
before winter snows.

In spring I found
a yellow crocus growing
from an eye socket.

There is hope for
the flower.

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A PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE WITH MY GRANDDAUGHTER

She was almost five
when we planted peanuts in the garden—
two rows for her, two for me.

After the planting,
I said: "Now it is
up to the god of harvest.

"We should pray
for them to grow,"
she said.

"You pray for your two rows," I said.
"But don't pray for mine. They don't need it.
And I'll bet mine grow as well as yours."

(We've had philosophical differences
since she began
church pre-school.)

"Don't you dare pray for my peanuts!"
I said leaving to put
the garden tools away.

When I returned,
she said: "I prayed
for your peanuts, too!

Ha!"

Ha!

Ha!

Ha!

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BARBARIANS

Dear old uncle died—
a natural device.
A quick burial
or cremation would suffice.
Yet death to dear old uncle, officially,
could not come
until a highly paid
physician got his sum.

Then the mortician
did his dirty deed—
by draining and pumping
ghastly fluids for greed.

A new suit, makeup
on dear old uncle's face, for Christ's sake,
and the expensive casket pleased
a funeral director on the make.

A psychologist who spoke
earnestly, for bucks no less,
to the survivors about "closure
and the healing process."

Finally came the funeral service
where the Very Reverend Funkle
who, for a fee, spoke friendly lies
about dear old deceased uncle.

Women and children wept there—
while the men watched, all unaware,
as dear old uncle still dead
was being further bled.

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NOT A CHRISTMAS STORY

Tiny Tim Kim
(I called him)
an eight-year-old
Korean ragamuffin boy
mutilated by war skated
joyously bold
like a grotesque toy
across the frozen rice paddy
with other orphans of our war.

With one leg missing and aided
by a crutch made from a tree limb
Tiny Tim Kim
laughed happily as he skated
across the ice on our battlefield,
and I don't know why,
but it seemed he had forgotten the war.

I wish I could. But I still remember.
You see, I saw him,
Tiny Tim Kim
die in a black explosion of smoke.

Christmas meant nothing to him,
and, since then, less to me.

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