Mostly low on my List of Parts
in Danger of Going Bad, except

for that moment when the specialist
takes them in his hands while we avoid

eye contact and he feels the ligatures
for lumps. For those seconds he is perhaps

an agent of the fates, set to rip these appendages
from my trunk, speaking in metaphor,

and deliver a death sentence couched
in much immediate pain.

Who is this intruder? my balls ask,
suddenly alarmed but trying to remain calm,

and what secret knowledge is he stealing?
Then the fright passes and my balls go back

to their easy perch, just along for the ride,
pretending they’re invincible and unexposed,

relieved to be left alone to meditate and nap
still near the bottom of the List of Parts

in Danger of Going Bad, far down
from brain and heart and pancreas,

irradiated skin, city-smudged lungs,
arthritic joints, and aging spine.

I Don’t Ask for Much

Prayers of compassion for all, I suppose.
Then my mind intercedes.
Yes, Lord, mercy for everyone.
Just this caveat: different forms
for some. The ones who come to mind:
Steer them gently off a cliff
and let them perish without undue suffering.
That other one, related:
Let him wake up one morning
to the unbearable sorrow
of his benighted life.
What then? You decide.
Just steer him halfway around the world,
to some orphanage or hospice,
and prompt him to write letters
filled with something simple
like love. Too much to ask, perhaps.
In that case, edge him
toward a complex legal matter
in which he is forced to wrestle
with someone more a jerk
even than his miserable self.
But back to my original thought:
yes, mercy. Mostly, of course,
lay it on me thick, Lord.
Also, if so inclined, honors
and prizes. You know,
the sky’s the limit. But please
no public forums in which
I’m required to stand in front
of hundreds of admirers.
Written accolades would suffice,
along with cash prizes.
Spontaneous healing
would also be welcome:
I need help with my knee,
now medically something
like a hundred years old.
Same with my thumb.
As for my pals, whoever
they might still be: Lift them up,
just not quite as high as me.
Let me enjoy their triumphs
sequentially, after I indulge
in selfish celebration
and exhausted thanksgiving
for untold, surprising benefits.
Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt
to get a few chagrined notes
from all imagined enemies
grudgingly acknowledging
my worthiness and excellence.
Thanks, Lord. I’m waiting.

In Time of Drought

Woke up feeling holy. Turned on the tap
and the guilt poured out like the Colorado,
a torrent I had to squeeze back to a trickle
just to keep from drowning.

So many citizens clamoring
for every drop, I had to withstand
an angry plebiscite just to wash
my hands. Water is for fightin’,
said Mark Twain, a funny man
who saw no humor in the subject.

I spent all day blessing the earth
and sky just to escape feeling
like a criminal. Just wait
till fire season starts.

Drifting Off

I lie awake at night
blessing the world.
Always the little things
to start. Then the people
who bring a smile.
Sometimes flowers,
a stately tree,
then back to
the aging instrument
of my body. Some nights,
the whole galaxy
of souls working
to spread this blessing.
What can it hurt,
to bless a bed, to bless
my wife, to smile
recalling a long-dead laugh,
to bless them all
and let go as if having time
only for the benediction
before drifting off
into that little death
of sleep?

Breaking Out

This morning, locked in garbage palisade
by broken latch, I escaped by climbing

pioneer-style up one corner, then over
while thinking of the headline:

Man speared in balls while climbing fence––
and carefully stepped over onto the large

but unstable recycling bin––nothing like
that cat W. C. Williams wrote about,

walking carefully through an empty
flower pot, one paw and then the next.

I wavered and swayed, hoping to recall
the instincts that would have served

me well when young, very young,
then stepped both feet on the unsteady

bin, sat my ass down slowly and slid off
to the ground, happy to have escaped

with dignity and skeletal integrity, now free
to solve the puzzle from the outside––

as if this might be a lesson to me,
sometimes you have to think inside

the box as we say, because there’s no
other way to get outside the box.

Or maybe just a shrug and something smug,
I’m too old for this shit, but am happy

to have such a fine excuse to misbehave
a little and still land on my feet.