Four Poems: Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman

Animals Are Our Friends

A deer stood by the side of the road
and gazed at me with querying eyes.

Deer no longer bolt at the sight of humans
Although we are alien species
We are kin.

Deer are taking over the suburbs,
our peace-loving neighbors
who only want to eat our yards
our tomatoes and squash
an occasional flower.

A squirrel scampers visible for an instant.
Some force animated it, gave it life.
The same force that animates me
and my loved ones
and my enemies.

The fat brown rabbit
that inhabited our yard
has disappeared.
So has the earlier occupant
a fierce hunter
who kept the birds as sparse
as the hairs on my aging head.

Layers and currents of history reside in our yard
an ocean of life
today swelling with music.

It is not whales singing
but their distant cousins
sparrows, robins, crows
—the usual suspects,
a red cardinal
a blue jay that pops by
as an occasional surprise
like a friend one hasn’t seen in ages.

This is our home
all our homes
it resides in our bones
and we in its soil.
and primordial rocks.

yet we are also visitors
migrants

who will one day
be swept aside

and this small house overgrown with weeds.

This House We Built

This house we built:
a man a woman and two cats
the perfect family, just as God intended.

This house that built us:
foundation miles thick
picture window streaming with life
yellow shingles and orange fence
blazing with light.

This house the contractors built
for cash
although with
a certain pride
perhaps even
love
that they were building something lasting
to bind the universe in its small way.

Is it love that builds things?
Or is it cement, nails, wood, and plaster?
Or is it money?

This house we had built
or that always existed
surrounded by birdsong in the trees we planted
by scampering squirrels
rabbits feasting
on the tall fescue.

This house made of commerce
made of love.

This house we built,
a man a woman and two cats
the perfect family, just as God intended.

So unlike
two men and a baby
a man a woman two dogs and a gerbil
a woman, a child, a goldfish
abominations all

unless they are built
with love and kindness.

Life Is Short and Death Is Long

We are all heading together into the same future
And that is death.
We are sisters and brothers in death.

All of life is a preparation for death
as some wise guy said ages ago.
Some wise guy now long dead.

Is death
A figure shrouded in a cloak
Swinging an enormous scythe that screams like a thousand winds
Reaping souls, grains of wheat in an endless field?

Perhaps death is a kindly fellow
nuzzling your cheek
As you pass through
a tunnel of radiant light
The opening of the doors of perception
Love itself.

Or death is
Nothing.

One can't imagine nothingness, since even the thought of nothing is something
One can't imagine death although we know it's coming.

so perhaps it’s best to live right
treat others kindly
and die with an easy mind.

The End

Life goes by so fast
before you know it you're long dead.

But how do you know it if you're dead?

I'd like to stick around to see how it all ends
for the poor perplexed human race
but don't want to take the trouble
to slog my way through
history’s interminable march.

It would be nice to be an omni-consciousness
watching life like a movie
The grand sweep of it
The drama, the passion
the cast of billions!

I’d like to see if we destroy ourselves,
how we destroy ourselves.
Fire or ice.
Nuclear rain or slow climate boil.
Or a little of both, sweet and sour.

Perhaps we’ll survive into unimaginable futures
spawn vast galactic empires
evolve beyond our imagination
become the omni-consciousness.

It would be nice to see it all,
but who the wants to live it day by excruciating day?

Like a kid who can’t stand to read through the whole god-damn book
I’d just like to peek at the ending, please.

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