A Demitasse

In my sleep my father is neither buried nor in cardiac arrest.
He stands in an old wool jacket, waiting to talk to me.

I don’t ask him how long he’s been waiting or what he’s
Been doing all this time—or why now he wants to see me.

I just shake hands with him, ever formal, and ask if he wants
A cup of coffee.  He says “a demitasse” and stares at me

As though there is something he wants to say and can’t.
Next, we are sitting on stools in a diner; he leans toward me

And whispers, “I don’t blame you anymore for what you told
The doctors”—he means the time his doctors turned to me

For help because he wouldn’t listen, kept repeating he was fine.
I had to choose the chemo, and I chose to keep him comfortable, me.

When the cancer came back later, he said it was my fault
That he was dying.  The choice I made wasn’t up to me.

Then, we are looking at the street.  It’s somewhere in France, I think.
He got his demitasse and a plate of cookies.  He offers me

One, and together we sit on a cast-iron bench and watch people
Pass on bicycles, without talking, my father and me.


A Bee

On a streetcar in Zurich flying faster
Than all that surrounds it, a bee.

Einstein would have understood relativity
Differently if he had been a bee.

In his discourse on ontology, the professor
Never considered a bee.

She gazed through the interstices of the screen
As though they were the wings of a bee.


Poem of the Street

Waned two nights from full, the moon steers west
Above my head, over the ranch-style houses of the street.

There was a time we held each other.  Everything
Was already over, but we held each other on this street.

Sound carries at night.  From far away an engine whines—
Over the speed limit, but never leaving the street.

What can I salvage from our life?  Biology made me a creature
With lungs and feet.  The white moon throbs over the street.


GEORGE FRANKLIN tries to squeeze in as much as he can: he is a poet, teacher, critic, yogi, father, and attorney.  His poems have been published in Salamander, The Threepenny Review, The Quarterly, and Verse, and his criticism in ELH.  Ghazals have been a great favorite since he first heard Agha Shahid Ali read years ago in Cambridge, MA.  He now lives in Miami, Florida, where the streets stretching west to the Everglades remind him of the lines of ghazals.