By Bruce Parker

By placid mountain streams
changed to torrents of water, mud, and rock,
by gutted highways and houses thrown down
is revealed what we would keep concealed,
the future, which is not for us
(though nature will adapt), the truth
told by tornadoes and seven-story snows.

Nothing could be said now
that would make a difference.
The time for saying is passed,
the time for doing almost done,
the world beyond repair—
this much must be said,
the world beyond repair. 

Encourage me to go on
as if I had a choice,
to continue in this way
though there is no other.
The stars continue
(I said to myself),
but not I,

I am held in abeyance 
while the universe catches up to me,
having caught onto
nothing like a universe.
Everything is hidden from me
save what I can see for myself,
everything goes on its way

(I am no exception),
determined by what we have done
or, as the prayer says, 
left undone,
what we might have done
when the world was open-ended,
not like it is now.

Despite the coming end of a decent world,
this flash of consciousness is fabulous,
extravagant.  There needn’t have been so many stars,
so many carrier pigeons to darken the sky—
so much joy, grief, appetite, longing.
There needn’t have been, in theory at least, 
such a rush to live.

Bruce Parker is the author of the chapbook Ramadan in Summer (Finishing Line Press, 2022). He holds a BA in History from the University of Maryland, Far East Division, Okinawa, Japan; and an MA in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico. He has taught English as a Second Language, worked as a technical editor, and for 23 years was a translator (Thai, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu, Punjabi, and Turkish to English).  His work appears in Triggerfish Critical Review, The Field Guide, Blue Unicorn,  Cerasus (UK), and elsewhere. He lives with his spouse, poet and artist Diane Corson, in Portland, Oregon, where they host a critique poetry workshop, and is an Associate Editor at Boulevard.

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