Lullabies for Tonight
For the Homeless at the Mission
Now, as evening descends and the smoke
of your last cigarette lingers
in the cough-filled air,
rest easy on the crude bunk.
In clothes not washed for weeks,
sleep sweetly tonight.
As you curl yourself into the you
before you were born,
may any dreamt-of angel clasp you
as warmly as the blanket around you,
and the burdens weighing you down
be lightened as the hours darken.
For Soldiers Arriving at the War
Tonight you disembark, lugging
your duffel and rifle down the ramp to step
onto that blistered land. The stars are with you,
perhaps brighter than you have ever seen them.
At home the forested mountains rising
above the sea, the valleys of singing streams,
await your return.
Tomorrow remember that the sun—
however harsh—never fails you,
that the gentle moon endears you.
For A Child Afraid of the Dark
For you the day ends too soon,
has vanished like cake from your plate...
So after you bathe and put on
the bear pajamas, burrow into bed.
Remember that even the little
light can't hold back the dark
as it slides through the window
like a friendly old cat and nuzzles
against you. Listen, you can hear it breathe.
If you close your eyes, soon it will be dawn.
Tonight, you have no need for eyes.
Caress tells all that you know
of heat, of flesh beneath your hands,
of salt on lips and tongue. Volatile
blood-surge, the last gasp for air
in your lover's mouth dazzle you—
an ecstasy saints desire.
These are hours too sweet
but for the fragrance of skin, warm
as a tropical sea. You and time
disappear, another horizon.
Your auras blaze until morning.
Sleep. Darkness enfolds your embrace.
For A Writer with Midnight Sickness
Like the child you are, you've stayed up
beyond your time. Your mouth tastes
like the coffee filter, your eyes prickle
with thistle, and you can hear
your heart's dark rumble in your chest.
For this you give away your ticket
to the ballet, lay aside a good book, miss
the walk-off home run, postpone love.
Ease up, old friend. Morning draws near.
Be easy now, and without regret.