Has been published, or
will soon be published in many print and web journals. Some of them
are: Southern Humanities Review, Southern Review, Evansville Reader,Birmingham
Poetry Review,, Zuzu's Petals, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Snakeskin,
Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Tryst and many others.
He also has an interest in digital photography. Samples of work:
Playing Trivial Pursuit
The diagnosis decrees that one day she will no longer know my name.
The glaring brain scan reveals that not today or tomorrow but some
she'll stand bewildered before a mirror.
But today she knows who played Trixie in the Honeymooners,
the serial number of the starship Enterprise,
and that Mary Tyler Moore starred in the Dick Van Dyke show.
And she gloats, for I lost big.
It was as if I never watched TV.
It was as if decades of my life flicked off
like that fading little white dot at the center of the TV screen.
Some day I'll remember that she could remember everything I've forgotten.
But today she's forgetting that some day she'll forget everything,
as she laughs and lords her win over me,
and I pretend to be heartbroken over my loss
while pretending not to be heartbroken.
Defendants dread the righteous judge honestly applying the law,
for that detached umpire reduces the accused to a fact pattern,
to a textbook hypothetical rather than trembling flesh.
And so this magistrate can't mend the meshwork
of that tired metaphor, the wheels of justice.
For the well-worn wheels still have teeth
and the fact patterns lots of loose edges,
so in the turning something is always out of line.
The gears wobble and small cogs wind up crushed,
for the faultless judge has faulty vision,
and is too nearsighted to see beyond the blueprint
of facts firmly pressed onto the grid of the law.
Defendants pray for a roguish and venial judge.
An arbitrator who has thought of every felony,
committed some and wondered longingly about the rest.
A referee who has heard and whispered every criminal solicitation
and so winces when the indictment is read,
and sees his own face
on the defendant fearfully looking up at him.
Defendants bribe the administrative court clerk
to assign a tinkerer-justice who never pounds his gavel,
but gently taps it
against the misaligned wheels of law and fact
to get the machinery moving for yet another quarter of a turn,
without crushing even the smallest, most awry cog.
At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary
In the city there can be no pristine nature.
Too many of us, too much is needed.
The thickest bush, the densest clump of trees, the tallest grass,
are adorned by ubiquitous scraps of discarded paper and plastic.
And the roots of all plants grow amid beer cans.
Moldy newspapers proclaim human events in this pseudowilderness.
Neither is the sky a seamless blue,
the metallic gleam of an airplane wing, the wispiest vapor trail
betray a civilized presence.
Nor can the ear listen only to birdsong
or the breeze blowing among leaves.
Always a distant car horn breaks the contemplative spell,
and the low, soothing, pervasive, humming
is actually the distant roar of highway traffic.
There is no primeval oasis here.
Indeed all this acreage is artifact.
The bird pond was scooped out by a tractor
The basking logs for turtles were placed here for that very purpose.
The marsh seabird nesting site is fenced off,
and patrolled for hungry cats and meddlesome humans.
A gravel path has been cleared for me.
Surely Mother Nature wouldn't be such a gracious host,
a mat of undergrowth to trip my feet,
and barbed rose and blackberry bushes to tear my skin
would be her furnishings.
Nothing of pristine nature is really here.
I stand on a hatching ground for a fledgling idea.
But which idea--
that we are the vassals of the goddess Gaea
or the suzerain curators of her last
Copyright © 2004 Richard Fein