The Lisbon Quintet

Bedtime prayer, or, burial instructions

If I should die before I wake —
Oh, never mind. My soul will know
Exactly what to do when darkness
Envelops me and she is freed and free.
Stuff my mortal remains, whatever’s left
Of me, in a weighted wooden coffin
Like the ones we kept in stock overseas
In abandoned embassy warehouses.
Put me on a Navy warship – bury me
At sea just beyond the 12-mile limit –
In international waters. Let me sink
Silently, peacefully to the bottom,
Where lost shipmates are still on patrol,
And my ancestors await my return.

Sleepless in Lisbon

Each night I dream of projects I complete,
Mainly ideas I’ve been thinking about
For weeks. And I awaken each morning
Feeling accomplishment & exhaustion.
No way to spend a August vacation,
I know. But today my outlaws have planned
A special lunch – Guinea-Bissau cuisine –
My favorite – and I can hardly wait!
We’ll save the nautical museum (I love
The ancient navigation instruments),
My favorite Belem bakery, &
the modern art museum for tomorrow
Or another day, any other day –
We can’t ignore a long-lost appetite.

Coffee with Pessoa at Martinho on the Praca

I write no more of love, the tales of woe,

Of romance that quickens a calm spirit –

Such stories that are songs of young and sweet

Naïveté- of passions’ fires aglow.
Today’s news crowds out former pleasant thoughts:

An earthquake, a mudslide kills the many;

A terror attack, abroad, at home, slays

The few and darkens the skies around us

With clouds of hate and unscaled walls of fear.
Let’s love today, each other, without shame

Or fear of censure, once more returning,

Once more forgiving acts of carelessness,

Mistakes we’ve made. Let’s journey while the sun

Is high and skies are clear and steps still firm.

Acknowledging the Muse – Pre-Eclipse

I think of you as my defacto Muse,

And I yours, at least until you tell me

we are not, or cannot be, or simply

just reject that source of inspiration
Our inner poets crave. The obstacles

Between us are many. The boundaries

That separate us are natural ones,

Neither fraudulent nor fake nor contrived –
It will be far easier to let things

Rest as they are, in peace and sanity,

And in denial. I would dare not blame

You or me, and life would just continue
As if our paths had never crossed, as if

This possibility had never been.

Watching images of the total eclipse on the internet

Somewhere in the comings and the goings

I lost a day, or gained one, by my count –

Then I missed the total eclipse (but that

Had less to do with the time warp I’m in

and more to do with decisions I’ve made)

Because I was on the wrong continent.
I figured out it’s Monday. Tomorrow

Will be museum day – it’s all a matter

Of degree of intermediation

In the end, of what must be done to cure

The writer’s block that gets generated

By one’s own inhibitions. It’s taken

A week of full immersion to discard

Mine and let language flood these winding streets.