Threepenny Opera



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.