A word might have changed your path


by Bill Coyle

All do not all things well,

and there are few things more

thankless than trying to tell

a friend he hasn’t got

an ounce of talent for

the work nearest his heart –

which is why I was not

straight with you from the start.


An asteroid on a course

for earth, caught early enough

could, with a hint of force

(and a good dose of math)

be steered fatefully off.

Once, a word to you

might have changed your path.

Now what can I do?

Now it is too late:

now the course you’ve chosen

has all the force of fate,

and if I pointed out

you’re bound for a collision

with the reality

of who you are, I doubt

you’d hear me, or agree.


You are both asteroid

and shadowed impact zone

and neither can avoid

the crash that’s on its way;

and I, who might have known –

who knew – how this would end

am not about to say

anything now, my friend.


As if God had stooped to whisper

A poem by Geoffrey Brock, “Sweet Recess”:

It’s odd: the sacred world can pass for years

Unseen, then fill your eyes, stopping you still,

As if God had stooped to whisper in your ears

Look there: the nuthatch on the kitchen sill,

Feathers ruffled to fatness against the cold;

The neighbor’s listing shed, its siding (white

Once, gray and peeling now) recast in gold

By early evening’s kind alchemic light;

Or one you love, framed in the entryway,

Wholly herself, and you for once abstracted

From fierce desire, its lenses and scaffoldings,

And left by language, which will not convey

The sense of stupid wonder that, though muted,

Fills the cage of your ribs with a riff of wings.

Thou…need’st not strive

The Latest Decalogue

by A. H. Clough:

Thou shalt have one God only; who

Would be at the expense of two?

No graven images may be

Worshipp’d except the currency:

Swear not at all; since, for they curse

Thine enemy is none the worse:

At church on Sunday to attend

Will serve to keep the world thy friend:

Honour thy parents; that is, all

From whom advancement may befall:

Thou shalt not kill; but need’st not strive

Officiously to keep alive:

Do not adultery commit;

Advantage rarely comes of it.

Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,

When it’s so lucrative to cheat:

Bear not false witness; let the lie

Have time on its own wings to fly:

Thou shalt not covet; but tradition

Approves all forms of competition.