Monthly Archives: August 2011

Candle in the window

My love!  There’s no other like you
who are the heavens’ body, the soul of earth,
the words of my art, the words behind words.
You are the candle in my window,
the joy in the midst of sorrow.

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011


Erotic Dream

To be like a bee hovering
or a kingly butterfly fluttering
or the world-wise hummingbird, busy
with his rhythmic to and fro
at that blossom so fragrant.
Oh, dream of lilac thighs!

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011


This star is but a stone
before the fire has fled;
this flower – but a dream escaped
from earth’s heavy heart.
But your eyes are not stone
nor dream nor even eyes.
They are storm over the sea.
They are crickets before dawn.

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

Holy Smoke!

The third of the three events was the clincher, the prophetic end of an action that should have taken place long before.

One would have thought the first of the three happenings would have been the crucial one, what with the pain, and the difficulty breathing. But things sometimes don’t turn out the way they do in fiction.

It was March 18, 1988. I had my neighbor rush me in his car to the ER – luckily only a few blocks from my house – for I thought I was having a heart attack.

As I sat on the gurney awaiting the results of the x-ray and the electrocardiogram and the blood tests, I said to myself, I need a cigarette. And just like in the Sunday comics, a little light bulb appeared above my head as I thought, “You fool – that may be why you’re here to begin with!”

I resolved to stop smoking then and there. About twenty minutes later, the doctor came and told me I hadn’t had a heart attack; I had walking pneumonia. They gave me some antibiotics, and a prescription for more, and released me.

The second incident took place a mere week after the hospital adventure. The antibiotic had been faithfully and completely taken. I sat at dinner with my co-workers on our business trip. The meal was finished. The busboy had cleared away the dishes and silverware. The waiter had brought the coffee and the dessert we’d ordered. A few of my companions lit their cigarettes and the smoke drifted eerily across the table in a serpentine motion, as if to wriggle up my nose and bite every one of my olfactory nerves.

I started coughing and coughing without stopping. My face started turning red, then took on a bluish tinge. The fellow seated next to me began pounding on my back with the flat of his hand. But not even the coughing or the pummeling on my back could subdue the wild longing to grab from the smokers’ hands all of the lighted, glowing, fuming cigarettes and stick them all into my mouth, and with one mighty intake of smoke-curdled air choke myself into Tobacco Heaven. Only the thought that they’d think me a madman kept me from doing what I so earnestly desired and pictured doing. My coughing eventually subsided, as did the pummeling.

The third event, the clincher as I said, took place, again on a business trip, this time to Cincinnati. It was May of the same year. I had suffered weeks of urges for cigarettes after dinner, with a beer or vodka, after cups of coffee, when I got out of bed in the morning, after lunch. I was going away with no one else from the office; the rest of the participants at the meeting would be from all over the country. Few knew me personally. It would be the opportune time to cast resolve to the winds and just start sucking on the Nicotine Nipple again.

But my better nature prevailed. So, I told my traveling companions and the other people in the meeting in the office I was visiting that I’d stopped smoking in March. I did this to forestall my asking any of them who smoked for a cigarette; it would be embarrassing now to do that since I’d already told them I’d stopped smoking. I would lose face and be thought a weakling, someone with no will power.

My foresight worked well, even after dinner when they brought the coffee and dessert, and the few others who smoked lit up their cancer sticks. I sat there with my holier-than-thou face on, as I secretly savored the wonderful aroma of the just-lit cigarettes. But the demon of frustrated habit was building a plan: to let the others continue on to the hotel ahead of me, while I hung back talking with the head of the Cincinnati office about the next day’s agenda.

Then I would stop at one of the two stores I’d seen earlier in the morning on our walk to the office from the hotel. I’d buy a pack of cigarettes, and then spend the next few hours alone indulging my overpowering yearning for the filthy weed. I’d light one cigarette after another, and overdose on Nicot’s Nemesis.

When I saw in the darkening evening that my companions were almost to the hotel, I said good evening to the chief of the Cincinnati office and set the demonic plan into motion. I started walking leisurely. It was a wonderful Spring evening. I ducked into the store and asked for a pack of Salem Lights. The fellow handed me the pack.

“Matches?” I quizzed the clerk.

“We don’t have matches. Never have had them.”

“Well, then, how about a disposable lighter.”

“Don’t carry them either…”

I walked out of the store with the unopened pack of cigarettes in my hand. I walked even more slowly than before. I thought of the mysterious conjunction of these different circumstances that resulted in my having cigarettes but no means to light them up so as to suck into my lungs the filthy, gagging, wonderful, willful poison.

Before I knew it I was at the hotel’s revolving door, then going through it, still with the unopened pack in hand. The very alert bell captain saw me holding the pack and took up the little basket filled with complimentary matchbooks advertising the hotel. He held out the basket with the matchbooks. “Here, sir – for your cigarettes.”

The bell captain’s speaking shook me out of my musings on the absurdity of selling cigarettes without the means to light them up, and the absurdity of smoking itself.

“Oh, these? No, no. I don’t want them. Here, give them to someone who needs a smoke. Or better still – just throw them away!” I tossed the pack at the bell captain who deftly caught it.

I walked to the bank of elevators. Strangely, my yearning for cigarettes was gone. I never again had any desire to smoke. In fact, to this very day, the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke makes me feel sick, and also starts me thinking of the supernatural.

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

The charm of her ire (for Lan)

Even when you frown, you outshine the sun,
that daystar fuming in the sky.
When you pout, you best the moon,
wayward vagrant of the night.
You fret, and surpass the stars,
those wry sojourners through time.
So, fret and pout and frown!
Your beauteous rancor’s still a paradise,
an Eden of silence and dark eyes.

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

In the chapel

at dawn the black snake of cloud
slinking across the horizon over Brooklyn
as the boat pushes off into the day…

later the evening sky with a dark polymorphous cloud
hunching over the orange expanse in the West…

the water, thousands of blue-green bumps

the ketch, all white, passing us as we pass it
going in contrary directions –
speed and languor and the Doppler effect

the sense of change within the changeless

how beautiful is this world we view
but so often never really see,
through which we move almost unaware

I look up and see the vault of heaven between East and West

clouds loosely painted
as if by some huge, clear Michelangelo hand
in this common chapel…

some clouds are mere smudges
the gray shading on their sides
away from the setting sun,
the light somehow streaking through them
to burnish my senses, to startle my soul

*     *     *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

Justice and The Soaps

in the courthouse   in the sullen basement
that sound we hear   do tell me   brother
is it the wheels of justice turning   turning
the motor of justice whirring   humming
like an elevator’s rumble and whoosh
bearing some upward and others down
so relentlessly turning   turning
in a vapor of words   in a vapor of words
the cables are taut   doors open  then close
the clanking of metal   the silence of waiting
the rumble   the whoosh   that sound that we hear
the wheels of blind justice turning   turning
so relentlessly turning
in a vapor of words   in a vapor of words
we sat and sat   waiting for the jury call
reading the papers   watching the soaps
while the wheels of blind justice
kept turning and turning in a vapor of words
in a vapor of words   a vapor of words
do tell me   sister   is it justice?
is it true justice or but the vapor of words
that sound that we hear   the vapor of words
the vapor of words   is it justice
this vapor of words or the soaps?

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011