Have You Been to the Paper Jungle?

Have you been to the paper jungle?
Most people build their paper houses in the paper plains,
And import the paper bricks.
Or, If they can afford it,
in the valleys surrounded by the paper mountains.
The poor live among the paper swamps.
Perhaps they were paper woods once.
Grew tall and free.
But nature, of which we are all guilty,
Takes its course,
And decay sets in.
And the inks that separates us from animals
Become deadly gasses to madden them.
The pulp becomes quicksand to drown them.
But that’s not the question I asked.
Have you been to the paper jungle?
It’s a curious type you meet there.
Stay too long and soon you’ll feel an itch.
Lift your shirt and you’ll find fragmentary words.
Written sensibly enough,
But no map, nor a compass out.
And you have to wonder where you are.
Spend a day there and the sweet perfumes
Of delectable reason will start to choke.
And the vines?
They grow around open eyes.
The thorns carry the kind of venom
That make you think you started out blind
And just now learned to see.
Unawares, and with the pride of any such explorer,
You cut your way further in.
A machete?
These ancient trees call for scalpels.
And the sweet inky sap seeps out.
You prune for the good of the tree,
And of course to clear a path.
That one day someone may be able to live here.
Surrounded by mercenaries,
(They see nothing but lumber)
You’d like to sit but there’s no room.
Have you been to the paper jungle?
We planted it but are all strangers.
As we cut and burn the world,
it grows.
May it reach the sky. We have no need for clouds.
You may think you see that sky.
You may think it’s beautiful.
But the thin film of the jungle’s sigh is always already there.

Don’t Wait for the Train

The platform rang
with insoluble regret.

There were many places
crawling up the side
of each inching train
slowly retreating
back to that lonely midnight
from where 
we all
seemed to have set out. 

Like angry mould,
the tiny memories
of strangers
passing briefly.

We wished we’d smiled,
but we were all
so busy. 

That train
has a thorny schedule to keep
growing downwards
drilling into your heart. 

Didn’t you know? 

Love’s the new oil.
And the lovers
don’t get a say. 

See in the corner
the man waiting
no different from the wall. 

Oh here it comes…
the beastly process
of living forward. 

It comes to a halt. 

You step on. 

You are on now. 

You are gone now. 

There’s another man. 

He blinks at you. 

He’s secretly hoping
his eyes will disappear
in between the tears. 

He’s not crying.

He’s not dying. 

He does this
for fun.  

And You want to run. 

 They knew you would,
so they left room–
the space in between
each and every story
sitting on each and every car
is filled
with infinite halves
you can’t cross 
quite enough
to get anywhere. 

Leave it to the experts. 

Exasperated, 
your breaths are filled with song. 

You collapse. 

The train is pleased. 

You understand
there is no motion
without the–  

But there is a problem.
A bump,
a tiny rock,
a question well placed,
a point well made,
and the system is mortal. 

You feel a true sympathy
for this world
and you recall your profession.

You’re an engineer.
The train is yours.

Beyond Nature and Nation: A Chanuke Poem

It’s mostly filled with empty space
Void of air or love.
Freedom kills time but offers no place
For a hand without a glove.

So the hand reaches for another
foolish flag to wave.
Follow me, my sister, my brother
To our life beyond your grave.

But lines on a map breathe no more
Than gold idols see.
Charioteer upon the shore,
tell, where is your mastery?

But a soul’s seal is tightly bound
In wax memory.
In its salted earth can be found
The Beating Heart of eternity.

Their light pierces that empty space
Full with hidden law.
Truth beyond time lives in a place
Where the modest hand knows awe.