by Stephen Henriques
Does god play the ribs of a starving infant
In the Sudan like the kalimbe you
Can buy in the gift shop in the airport
Where tourists, doctors, murderers come and go
And we know nothing of their destinations or their
Motivations? Does god play on the bald head
Of a dying toddler in Burundi like the fake
Drums in the gift shops that line the
Duty free plaza in the airport where visiting relations,
Radical theater troupes, murderers and smugglers
Come and go and cross each others paths without
Knowing who is who and what
Music the final destinations will make?
Does god harmonize the screams of the AIDS infants
In Malawi, conducting his choir like the
Mormon singers, bands from Mali, infected
Rock musicians in economy class on tour to
Rat infested pubs or Alice Tully Hall?
He who created the mold for my guitar
Gutted the child soldier in a Congolese war.
He who orchestrated rests – the silences between
The sounds has orchestrated life and death
All around this earth his cruel orchestra.
I have a very calm puppy called a labradoodle
She is one of the new designer dogs part lab part poodle
She is a fuzzy cake of brown and white spots
She is calm and independent, plays with her toys on
Her own, runs football scrimmages in the dog run
With her clique, a great Dane, a golden retriever,
A part pit bull and a hound. She pounces, rolls
Onto her back and they leap on her. She scrimmages
Stands to the side and decides on her next play. She
Is never noisy. She is a race horse. She is as
Wise and goofy as Yoda. She is a beautiful specimen.
At home she sneaks away with our socks and underpants
Address books and Harold and the Purple Crayon – demolished.
When I play the piano, she pads quietly up to my hands
And tries to figure out this new sound -music.
She seems to be more impressed by my writing music
Than when I set here writing these observations.
Although I’m sure she would like to eat the pen.
How happy I am to have her as one of my partners
In life. She is the most serene dog I have
Ever had. A gift from the gods during this
Turbulent heartbreaking year. My new dog.
My Clementine. Oh my darlin ..
About Elizabeth Swados
Elizabeth Swados is an award winning author and composer; she is a Tony nominated, Obie award winning theater artist, Guggenheim and Ford Foundation recipient, as well as a Pen/Faulkner citation. Her latest book, At Play – Teaching Teenagers Theater was published by Faber and Faber. Her other recent publications include: My Depression (Hyperion), and The Animal Rescue Store (Scholastic). Her theatrical credits span from Broadway, to off-Broadway, to around the world including Runaways, Missionaries, and Jabu. Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as Meridian Anthology, New American Writing, New York Quarterly, Emory’s Journal, Confrontation, Paterson Literary Review, Speakeasy, Barrow Street, Runes and Home Planet. Her first book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, was released in April 2009.