Monthly Archives: October 2011

Farmers’ Market

I remember
walking past the stalls of the Farmer’s Market
in front of the World Trade Center…
the farmers brought their produce twice weekly.

the contrast between the modern,
seemingly self-contained enormity of the buildings
and the simple perennial relatedness
of the produce and farmers.

seeing the vegetables all stacked up,
in neat rows, next to one another –
beets, Chinese cabbage, kale;
carrots, broccoli, turnips, chard;
collard greens, tomatoes, lettuce –
on and on, table after table they lay unmoving,
quiet, beautiful in all their colorful variety –
it made me weep so, just to see them…

I know not why…

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

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Two Sisters – a memory

It was years ago.  I went to the rectory
of the Church of the Assumption
to pick up a copy of my mother’s first marriage record,
the record of my father’s marrying her.

Gertie, the part-time secretary, opens the door;
small talk.  She’s a widow, her house across the street.
Reminiscences about the old neighborhood:
Glen Ave, the Pagliarulos and the De Palmas:
friends and old times; her older sister, Fannie,
who as a teen-age girl had a high fever,
almost died, and was left paralyzed on one side,
with her brain frozen at age fourteen.

Gertie brings me into the other room to meet her sister.
Seventy years old but still a child, Fannie shows me
the needlework she does…  the altar cloths,
the priests’ vestments – stoles and chasubles,
amices, humeral veils, copes –
the beauty of the delicate pieces;
her pride, her joy in showing me her handiwork…

Gertie tells Fannie to return to work
while she takes me to the office to retrieve
the envelope with the copy I’ve come for.
Of Fannie she says: She’s usually not so open with strangers.

Silence as we walk to the front door. Then:
Sometimes I don’t know who needs who more,
Fannie me or I Fannie…

True religion is here with Gertie and her sister,
still fourteen over fifty-five years later…

Gertie’s love and care are apparent:
Fannie’s herself, not some appendage…
but in Gertie’s eyes I see the fear:
for what will happen to Fannie,
child in an aging body,
if she outlives Gertie?

Gertie smiles and says: Remember
me to your mother.
   I will.  The door
closes slowly behind me.

*     *    *

(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

Body as book

It’s said the body is a book.
Oh, your foreword!  Your acknowledgements!
Afterword, glossary, index – oh!
Each paragraph, each line, your every word!
The nouns, the verbs, the stunning adjectives of you –
more and more would I peruse, again, and yet again…

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

Encounter in Washington Square Park

The leaves, their colors rampant.
Trees on chilly tiptoe in the park.
A dark brown, long-limbed girl,
mistress of grace and beauty
that muzzle mind and tongue,
linked her arm in the white boy’s,
made her shapely jeans ballet down the wind.
Whirring, sashaying down the wind…

Little urchins, brown girls,
their limbs unripe, with eyes big as eggs,
taunted ancient pigeons.
Autumn chilly day, and their eyes
spied that maid of cocoa, saw her
laughing, cooing with the white boy arm in arm.
Some horror in those little girls awoke,
bounded, seething, from hearts and mouths.
Yes, twisted sentiments.  Monsters
bred by pain and sleights,
battened on hate and eddied counter-hate.
Voices surging from their wounded hearts
‘Kiss his lily-white willy and his ass!’
‘Black your hand in white his pants!’
‘Goin’ home to bed, sistuh?’
‘Hey, bitch! How much he givin’ ya
to suck that skinny white dick of his?’
Crusty hags of ten summers’ urban torments:

She heard them coldly.  He was flush with rage.
She smiled, said:  Oh, Marty, don’t you mind.
Her nervous giggle.  Another smile.
On wings of heart bold, of seeming mind at ease,
she sailed along the pavement.  He followed,
consuming her faith, her buoyancy.
But as she passed me, I saw.
Brown, her precious eyes found mine
across the open space.  Fear I sighted there,
and after fear, some illogic guilt…

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(c) Gregory V Driscoll  2011

A rumination on longing

A wish is a feathery being, most times invisible,
that flutters from the heart to heaven
across the storms and turmoil of this world.
Snared and too often butchered in passage,
or caught up in other motions of our being,
the wish doesn’t die even though thwarted.
It simply starts out again on its wistful journey,
or remakes itself into an airy dream,
sailing from this realm of aches, of pains,
of fleeting, short-lived joy
to an Eden of endless smiles and warm caresses.
Wishes, dreams: seen sometimes sparkling
in the tiny spaces filled up with tears.

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© Gregory V Driscoll  2011

The pith of the matter

Brevity is the soul of wit, great Will wrote.
But does one’s wit mark one’s soul for brevity,
especially in such grim days as these
of benighted, unkind, nasty,
and groundless opinions and beliefs?
The scriptures attest that rain falls
on both just and unjust. But Scripture Maniacs,
those faux patriots, see even weather
as divine comment, a judgment
where no judgment should reach at all.
If there were a God who truly cared for fairness,
he’d drown them all in their own gall.
The startled smile of the poor would be a rainbow,
a new promise, arching from sea to shining sea.

*    *    *

© Gregory V Driscoll  2011

A stretched-out meditation

At last, thanks to my injury-forced immobility,
I ‘ve come to meditate, cast-encased leg raised,
upon the supine fate of all us ‘little people’
who strain and suffer and struggle to live,
some groveling in fact, others in their minds,
while ‘the great ones’ make their bets
and send the bills to us, the great unwashed,
the donkeys, the unenlightened thralls –
our only comfort those lines in Gospel stories:
The first shall be last and the last first…
It is easier for camels to pass through
the needle’s eye than for the rich
to enter heaven.
  But wait, they also wrote
that Jesus said, The kingdom of heaven lies
within you.
  So we’re there already, I guess,
but must somehow realize it.  Perhaps this
is but part of some great deception, a message
composed to make us passive, quietist
in a false hope that, after passing through the veil,
the tables will magically be turned
and we will take up our rightful place
while the others, well-to-do, shall be barred
from the feast.  Yet wait again – I recall
that old adage, A bird in the hand
is worth two in the bush
: Better to act now
from our common sense and cause than kneel in trust
of beings unseen and realms unvouched for.
Let’s stop waiting for Godot…

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© Gregory V Driscoll  2011