MJ blathers

dark poet who loves to laugh


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grandpap Page’s print shop

1920’s and decades beyond
on Pittsburgh’s south side
in the back room
huge presses
tilted surfaces
slathered in thick ink
too dangerous for
a little girl
so in the front room
where sunlight streamed
in the glass door
i crouched, eyes wide
peering as Tom White
(he wasn’t any longer
even in the cracks and
folds of his skin
after years of type-setting)
fingered letter by
individual letter
tiny bits onto wooden racks
into words, phrases
sentences, paragraphs
that people could
actually read!

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forgive me

forgive myself as
so much less
than i once was
or than i believed i’d be
a form of arrogance
to think
i should be more
why me?
must learn to laugh
at myself
and snuggle
into the universe
giving where i can
forgiving when i fall short
accepting the enormity
of the gift of life


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paradise burns

home video
but home is lost
to embers from the distant fire
whipped by wind
raining, without life-sustaining water
on the shed and roof
starting a blaze
among a dozen blazes
a hundred
a thousand
FLEE!
gather the children
push them into the car
and hope
as you press into
three lanes on the two lane road
heading east north east
praying
as the children pose
fearful questions
you can only answer in measures
of relative safety
almost past the inferno on our right
roll up your windows
high and tight
and now we’ve nearly gone by
the towering bright yellow-orange
flames on our left
see, we’re nearly safe
can’t we go faster?
all the cars in front of us
want to hurry, too
we’re moving so the flames can’t get us
that tree is outlined in brilliant fire
but we’ll be passed before it falls
all the scrub by the road is already gone
just one more raging fire up there
half way by
there! see, clear sky! clear sky!
we’re safe
who wants to say a prayer of thanksgiving for us?


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miniature leopard

stalking, eyes east, left front paw
raised, poised to set down in haste
or deliberate, stealthy approach
graceful juvenile bobcat
dotted from beneath perky ears
to four, splayed, furry feet
and onto dark, stubbed tail
with vivid rosettes
of dark fur spots arranged
in artistic threesomes
intent on tiny prey
quick move, unexpected
then gently depressed waves
of tall grass as proof
of continuing on down our hill
on into the wild