The news today is not so bad.
Our chipmunks have left the harvest alone
(some other gardeners must be catering).
The early sunsets remain glorious,
and leaves descend like tired soldiers
to remind us most wars end.
Will they bother with our street, she wonders,
imagining pickups emblazoned with flags
and white men wielding weaponry
as savage as their opinions.
No, the danger is over, I say.
Our dogs snore in peace as if it were true.
If we could read the future would we open the book?
I think I wouldn’t, there’s much too many
possible outcomes and corrosive truths.
You’d think it wouldn’t be too much to ask
for a dog’s dream for everyone —
each though alone snoring safe in the pack.
Big white guy in Waffle House
with prison tats frying my eggs
sings with the radio as it plays
Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”
while a wizened waitress and waif of a cashier
join him singing lala lala la with the chorus —
like God and His angels I’d say.
You’re not in your other life here working,
not scratching up rent from sock drawers and the couch
after a weekend bender or bar fight
but doing the ethereal Thing You’re Good At
with your laboring comrades in song.
Pity the fool who thinks he’ll do better
than feeding passing travelers’ souls
on sugar and fat and random banter,
the record and the promise all in the past.
But you can’t do better you find at last
than that Thing you got with your Brown Eyed Girl.
But I had other ideas today, warding off fascists
with trips to libraries and immigrant delis
and smiles at all the neighbors walking dogs,
surprisingly few of whom would look away.
Victory will come to those who still can say
this is not, after all, a terrible day.
M.A. Schaffner had a novel and a collection of poetry published sometime in the last century and quite a lot of poems too, many if not most in journals that have since disappeared. They are currently seven chapters into a projected twenty on the history of the Second United States Colored Infantry, raised in Arlington in 1863, after which they have solemnly sworn they ain’t gonna study war no more. Life is short and the pugs need to get out more.