Poetry

June 28, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

AP photo

 

By

Tom Evans

 

 

 

Agni Agora

 

 

A memory from my twelfth year on this planet:

A Buddhist monk immolating himself in the village square

In protest over religious persecution being carried out

By a U.S. backed regime in a distant land

Soon to become a household name.

 

I didn’t know that then, but even so it proved unequivocally to me that life was

Playing for keeps, and that the half-hearted ‘Hell no I won’t go!’

We uttered during an argument at the dinner table about the war a few years later,

A regurgitation of the slogan then being invoked on college campuses

By student protestors against the war, which our father mimicked

With a lot more gusto than we had managed as he banged our heads together

For emphasis, wouldn’t do.

 

Ashamed that we had blubbered afterward, I realized it was a trifle

Compared to what the monk had endured, yet he never moved a muscle,

Never uttered a sound, as he was consumed in flame.

His heart, which remained intact

Even when he was re-cremated during the funeral ceremony, became a holy relic,

And he revered as a bodhisattva.

 

Myself, I was still enthralled with JFK’s Camelot

(He would die later that same year),

Considered Mickey Mantle a hero,

And though his name has never been commemorated on a baseball card

Or in our history books, and been long forgotten if ever remembered,

I believe I will salute him for gradually waking me up,

And say Thank You for Your Service, Thich Quang Duc.

 

 

 

 

 

At the Croton-Harmon Station Thanksgiving 2017

 

 

The old man, face weathered as a sea captain’s,

All his belongings in the pack on his back,

Sits across from a nattily dressed young man

Adamant on his cell phone.

 

When the train, headed for Grand Central, departs,

The young man, sitting in front on the quiet car,

Cell phone an extension of his hand,

Barks out orders

In a subtly trenchant voice,

Wheeling and dealing no doubt.

 

Meanwhile the old man is fast sleep

In the rear of the same car,

Snoring loudly, still

Tethered to his belongings.

 

The car, like the station

Deserted for the holiday,

Is filled with a duet

Of the young man’s carping,

The old man’s snorting.

 

The conductor, a middle-aged man,

Resentful at having to work

On a holiday, even though it was

His turn, is itching to assert

His authority and jolt

Them both to their senses.

 

He decides against it,

Certain that entering the

Black silent gaping evacuated maw

Of Grand Central Station

Will be enough

To awaken them.

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Evans

I’m a librarian living near NYC, having had 3 poems published recently in The Basil O’Flaherty and with 3 book length manuscripts at publishers awaiting decisions. 

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