June 3, 2016

Three Poems by James Keane: "Are There No Words," "On My Way," and "You Live."

James Keane resides in northern New Jersey with his wife and son and a shrinking menagerie of merry pets. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English Literature 100 years ago at Georgetown University. His poems have appeared recently in Contemporary American Voices, Wilderness House Literary Review, Blue Monday Review, Firewords Quarterly, Verse-Virtual, Atavic Poetry, and the Tipton Poetry Journal. In 2013, his first poetry chapbook, "What Comes Next," was published by Finishing Line Press. In addition, he still can’t cook to save his life.

Are There No Words

Her tiny coffin still

rests on wheels, easy
to gently push, too easy
to lift and carry
the rest of the way
to eternity. Words
from the altar still flutter
away in perpetuity,
unsettled by your
crying, and
crying, and
           I, a witness
you would not notice
and never knew, alive
in the lifetime leukemia
denied your daughter
and you, survive
to wonder:
                 Did you ever
know laughter, the respite
it can bring; smile with patience
at children, or anyone
imploring you to
sing; find the words
that would not flutter
in futility when you
gave them up – or did your
crying, and
crying, and
never stop.

On My Way
I was on my way
to a class reunion,
where the beer and
beef steak would flow
all night. Bundled up
in a handsome coat
and hat appropriate for
shielding a businesswoman
from the wintry bite, you were dragging
a suitcase (or was the suitcase
dragging you), slowly,
gradually, to nowhere near
where I was heading. In the spiky
shadows of wrought-iron
church gates, somber but
silent in their disapproval,
you stopped me. Even
in the face of your twisted
grimace, I was proudly
prepared to provide whatever
direction would propel you
securely on your way. But
unprepared – only briefly,
thankfully – for the prayer
you offered in angry
agony, so politely:
                             “Will you help me,
please? I’m so hungry.”

To each and every fatal victim of a terrorist attack

You Live

Outside your final venue,
eternal day
embraces you in sunlight
by helplessness
or rain. No pain rakes
through you to kill
your smile; no hatred
will destroy you
ever again. Now the wistful
dreams of happiness you
longed for in the end
implore you
to sweep them over
heavenly terrain. Wherever
you turn, may angels
adore you as we survive
to mourn you,
remember you,
commemorate you
in the end to celebrate
the soul of your survival
unending, the eternity
of your name.

Originally published in Verse-Virtual.

~James Keane

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