Scarlet Beaches

I choose pleasure not duty.

Earth’s Age of Gold must come without my help.

It’s much nicer to sit in the sun

with a cat asleep on my lap

than to preach and persuade,

warn and cajole.

That was all so sad and hopeless,

unbearably sad, day by day

failing to make a difference.

So I flew to the planet Caro

for a luxury vacation

on its famous scarlet beaches.

I fell in love with the carefree immortals of Caro

and stayed, and stayed.

I sent for my cats and my books and some friends,

found a mansion for us all to share,

went through the citizenship rigmarole

and qualified for eternal leisure

and a full measure of pleasure.

San Jacinto El Alto

Old villages in high places

with vistas we now ignore –

even paradise gets boring

when you’ve seen it every day

for eighty years, or twenty,

and life in a scenic marvel

is as ordinary as anywhere else,

as difficult, as sad.

You wonder why the tourists come.

You think they’re mad,

but you’re glad

of all the money they bring,

and the novelty of strangers

cheers you for a moment.

On Duty

The language is hard to understand,

whispered, like dangerous opinions.

Even the sentry fears what he hears.

Guarding the glass road

which never carries traffic,

he has nothing to do but listen.

If the birds come back one day

he’ll be sure to hear them.

Repent and Repurpose

John the Baptist,

without his head,

is still preaching

in the wilderness of downtown Totopolis,

all the way to the river’s edge

where candidates for baptism

wait in white robes,

singing a psalm,

ready to be dipped,

stripped of the old nature

and pumped full of holy spirit.

My old pal Larry dawdles on the bank,

eating pizza, and watching.

‘These folk put on a good show,’ he says

and jumps into the water.

New Orleans

He and I scamper through the Old Quarter

like puppies on vacation,

hearing its jazz,

loving its louche beauty,

eating gumbo as a pleasant duty

and drinking those strong brews

that blow your head away,

and we become the merry sort,

the sort of legless,

preserved,

but getting robbed

as we sleep in the gutter.

Yes, my love, you said it once before

as we drifted on the Mississippi

looking for a place to land –

‘Let The Good Times Roll!’