Tuesday, December 27, 2016

stunned morning

storm-driven birds
gray smoke blown against leafless trees
Scarlatti's liquid harpsichord gems trickling down
pristine waterfall

stunned morning
jet contrails brushed white on cold blue sky
cosmic overtures
the silver birds

bare-limbed trees, upper branches
black on white chimney
distracted, you glance away
when you return the shadow remains

mornings you help bring up the sun
seeking perfection -- sunrise across the street
it plays on squat dormers, lattice work,
stolid brick, yellow, aged

aged by this morning somehow enhanced
you strive to conquer the music
or to merely comprehend it

trash day -- recycling trucks grind by
in stiff breeze red green white pizza box
skates across the street

smoke wisps in shadow etched
whitewashed brick wall of nursing home
bright morning sunshine
like old outdoor movie screen

--Ross Bender

there are maps

down in the subway
there are maps
if you can read them
you'll get where you are going

of course, even if you can't read them
you'll get where you are going
anyway -- 
that's just how it goes

I've been studying this phenomenon
for some time now
it's profound, yet simple:
you always get where you are going

to put it in other terms,
as Darwin once said:
'everything is the way it is
because it got that way'

--Ross Bender

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

strange women approach me

strange women approach me on the bus
wanting to know my business
they're subtle
asking for directions
asking for a cigarette

don't they know you can't smoke on the bus?

might be social workers
might be ladies of the night
might all be a honey trap
you never know
when you're riding on the bus

that's why I just say no
keep staring ahead into the distance
watching the streets go by
and the people dancing

murals, coffee shops, hair-braiding salons
and days go by

you see women on the bus 
you think you recognize
you might want to talk to

or exotic women in rain ponchos
displaying Chinese character for "the way"
(in Japanese 'michi')

when you get a bit closer
you see it's just some football loge
you feel foolish for having asked
"why are you wearing 'michi' on your poncho?"

these women must all think you're nuts

that's why I just say no to myself
when I get the impulse
to talk to strangers

keep staring ahead in the distance

watching the streets go by

--Ross Bender

Friday, December 16, 2016


the beatniks are back in town
you read the message in their eyes
old souls, and wise
sorrowful, deep soulful eyes

don't look like beatniks though
more like the angels
or Daoist immortals, balding
skinny, with grey straggly beards

don't wear those berets anymore
nor dress all in black
these ain't young hipsters
no, they the ancient survivors

beatniks gentle, been through the wars,
flips, epiphanies, and highs
now they down
down to the ground

but they swing
oh yeah, they swing
like the stoned old crows
on the wing

--Ross Bender