Covenant of the Ark
Two by two they crawled and walked and flew,
the chain unbroken as the deluge grew.
Oh slimy slug, tell us the catechism
that guarded your coming and going.
Swift runner, hair flung back,
did you pray as you stormed the plank?
Were you, flyers to the hatch together,
really, as is said, one of a feather?
Did those precious few, even though two by two,
contain the whole of allotted soul;
do the unchosen of the past and future
claim as well a share of the privileged lot;
or was their orphaned blight
merely emptied into waters of night?
Was it better, after all,
that the chosen had been wiped so clean
that the final log remain daintily pristine?
But if those others, most maimed but guileless, are to be lost,
then the final reckoning -- at what terrible cost!
Raymond Welch lives in Buffalo.
A Brilliance All Things See
BY MARY LAMB FREEMAN
and all these marigolds,
petunias done in coral,
nyst be the light
forever writes about,
all things see
just as they die.
MARY LAMB FREEMAN lives in Amherst.
I Say My Flowers
By Barbara D. Holender
Desolate as Ophelia
I say my flowers
named like diseases:
Here's peperomia -- that's eyesores,
Bromeliads -- stuffed sinuses,
Pothos -- that's depression
and Coleus is cramps.
There's Tradescantia -- embarrassing itches
and Begonia -- all woe,
thriving, all of them,
while atrophy like Ivy
sticks its little sucker feet
into my barren brain.
Barbara D. Holender lives in Snyder.
Whichever Comes First
By Ansie Baird
Ithaca is a great place to live or die, whichever comes first. -- A.R. Ammons
Well, you could say the same
about Buffalo, and the list keeps
getting longer. Cemeteries are filling
fast, Lake Erie is nearly clogged
solid with cremated remains reduced
to ash and scattered willy-nilly
in the wide Niagara River basin.
Something comforting about water
versus earth, some of us think,
although others prefer the return
to soil that takes them in and takes its
time and seems to be more leisurely.
I'm biding mine right now but counting,
meanwhile becoming a drug addict or
a whiskey souse or clinically dependent
upon lunch, my second favorite meal
of the day, the one I never skip.
Once when I checked into a clinic
for some tests, the receptionist asked:
Date of death? That threw me for a minute.
I'm all set for either death or
lunch, whichever comes first.
Ansie Baird is poet-in-residence at Buffalo Seminary.
Live at the Philharmonic
By Michael Tritto
The baton rises for all of us, orchestra and audience.
Breaths are slow in the hold of caverns within us,
then the fall to a valley, updrifts of shadows and light,
syncopations of village lights along the far roads
open into the composer's room of first marks,
each one timed for all time, the beats of hearts on wing
weaving around the conductor's arms, the woods and winds,
the composer's feed into rooms where players first found
their mastery seeds, the sounding limbs of their new flesh,
repetitions stitch their hours into freedom of melodic sweeps
out to the faces, row after row, their companions within
childhoods and today, touch sorrow, touch a new chance,
the bent figure over paper and pen across cliffs of time,
faces known in the far gray, questions with windows and doors,
all members of tonight, each in singular flight
sit alone within each other on great blankets of sounds
that lift from rocks to rivers, hot breaths on an ear,
the harmonies, the simple tunes, raptures ablaze,
baton down, the great ball, and then the roar...
* * *
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, music director, "The Overture to the Three-Cornered Hat" by Manual de Falla, June 13 in Kleinhans Music Hall.
Michael Tritto will read from his work at 2 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Burchfield-Penney Art Center.