Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Square Is Still a Rhombus

A Square Is Still a Rhombus
In Bensonhurst, I met a man,
Who said his name was Moses.
His hair was white and he had one
Of those Semitic noses.

He claimed he’d seen the Burning Bush
And talked up close with God.
I noticed then – this Moses had
A manner that was odd.

He twitched his eye and jerked his leg
And grunted when he spoke.
I wondered whether what he said
Was true – or just a joke.

If everything is possible,
Could two plus two be five?
It could be, he was talking straight –
Or simply full of jive.

I’ve always tried to give, to all,
The benefit of the doubt.
And so, I’ve fallen prey to cheats
And every kind of lout.

I said to him, “I’ve heard it said
That Moses once had brought
The ten commandments to the Jews,
Who were, at this, distraught.

“For they were told, ‘You should do this.
And this, you shouldn’t do.’
And being sore at being hemmed,
They took to blaming you.

“But is this true – or not?” I asked.
And in his manner odd,
He then replied. “It is. But I,
I put the blame on God.”

And saying this, he blew his nose
Upon the pavement clear.
I jumped aside, as mucus from
That nose of his fell near.

He grunted then and shook his leg
And twitched and twitched his eye.
I thought it best to say to him,
“I have to go. Goodbye.”

But when I turned the corner, he
Was there again to greet me.
“What’s this?” I thought, “How did this gent
Get ‘round the block to beat me?”

But he was breathing normally.
I looked at him, suspicious.
He smiled and said, “Good evening, sir.
My name, it is Confucius.”

I saw no trace of twitch or jerk.
He grunted now no more.
That nose of his had shrunken much,
It seemed, from size before.

His hair, it still was white, but sparse.
His beard was sparse and long.
His cheekbones, they were higher and
His eyes were somehow wrong.

His skin was pale and stretching thin
Upon a gaunter frame.
And yet, it seemed this man and him
I’d met were still the same.

Was this the one I’d met before –
Or his Mongolian twin?
My mind was split in half. It seemed
That neither side could win.

I stood there speechless, mouth agape.
I saw him bowing low.
And speechless still, I bowed to him,
Whilst bending even more.

“Are you the one, who brought the law
To China, in the past?”
“I am.” he said. “And I am glad
To meet with you, at last.”

My mouth again fell open, wide.
It closed and opened. “Why?”
He smiled once more and laughed – and then
He pointed at the sky.

I looked – but only saw the blue
And white – and blinked at brightness.
I thought it best to ask no more
And feigned, instead, politeness.

I bowed again, and so did he.
I tried then to escape.
A hand reached out. It grabbed my neck
And held me by the nape.

I squirmed and heard a voice proclaim,
“You thought that you could run.
But you forget, that I am he,
Atilla – yes, the Hun!”

He let me go. I turned around.
His skin, it now was browner.
He smiled and said. “I’m Jesus, and
I’m still an out-of-towner.”

“A bit of wine is what I need,
Along with fish and bread.
I need your help.  Which way is which
Is muddled in my head.”

I scratched my head. “Well, over there’s
A market, where you'll find
The things you need. I’ve got to go.
I hope you will not mind.”

I tried to leave. But on my back
I felt a heavy thud.
“What’s up, my man? You didn’t see
Your friend? It’s me, Muhammad!”

I turned around, but who was this?
A smiler, with a hammer.
“I’m here,” he said, “to fix your roof.
My name – it is Gotama.”

And so, that evening, I would meet
With sundry figures past.
And one by one, they speeded by –
A card-deck, shuffled fast.

Atilla was the only one
Who seemed of violent bent.
But there was one, who told me I
Did owe him still the rent.

Sankara came and so, towards
The end, did Sri Chaitanya.
Mahavira told me he
Would like to visit China.

Then Socrates and Plato sat
And shared some steaming suet.
Nanak came, as did Kabir.
They stayed to sing a duet.

I stood and watched. The last to come
Was none but Lao Tse.
But all he did was wave his hand
And wink and fade away.

In Bensonhurst, this happened and
It happened rather fast.
And all I learned was this – there’s no
Escaping from the past.

For as I neared my home I saw
A haggard apparition.
“I’m Geronimo.” he declared
And disappeared from vision.

And in his stead, there stood a man
Of Africa, and shackled.
And all around him, bidders stood
And with the seller, haggled.

And not a woman did I see,
Not even one, to break
That long parade of long-dead men,
From sleeping, roused awake.

And what was it that woke these men,
I really do not know.
Perhaps I should have asked their wives
Or mothers, who would know.

So wearily, I claimed the stairs,
Towards my rooms, to rest.
For meeting oddballs from the past,
I’d lost all trace of zest.

But snoring on my bed, there lay
Cortez – with gay Columbus.
And so I sat and typed instead,
“A square is still a rhombus.”

2014 May 7th, Wed., 3:50 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

No comments: