In the Wilmington railroad station
Kurt Weill waits for an Amtrak train
to haul him down to Washington
where a House committee will ask
if Communism sparked his tunes.
Bertolt Brecht refused to appear,
excusing himself with death and disdain,
his ugly cigar is still smoldering.
Weill died of a heart attack
when he’d barely hit fifty,
but a poster for a local performance
of The Threepenny Opera hogs
the best wall space in the waiting room.
The ghosts of playwright and composer
linger in or near every performance,
so Weill agreed to testify.
The figure on the poster with bowler
and mustache shaped like gull in flight
drapes a dead hand atop a cane.
Passengers boarding the train
don’t want to know him. The spirits
of Weill and Brecht drift away
in different directions, Weill’s music
opening old wounds in their wake.
Flag in the Breeze
Stiff in gray air, a flag accents
a slab of industrial landscape.
Dull windowless metal-sided
warehouse capped with ventilators.
Who works in such a bland setting?
I lasted two weeks in Hallmark
Card’s facility in Enfield,
sorting greetings for shipment,
unloading boxcars arriving
from Kansas where steam presses
spewed thousands of glitzy cards
for birthdays, graduations, griefs.
I couldn’t take all that sentiment
and quit to paint snow-plows orange
at the state highway garage.
Rushing past this warehouse with flag
proud on its stem, I remember
orange paint in my hair, everywhere.
Scrubbing myself for date nights
nearly deprived me of my skin.
Still, I liked working outdoors.
just as I like traveling by train
past these ordinary places
that adroitly rhyme with my life.