i. November lies in wait, violent month
stripping life from the garden
wind ripping leaves from living trees.
So much can happen after the harvest,
life can be broken,
the grave made rich.
Kennedy rode exposed in the cold Dallas sun
when a bullet ripped the November air, and
dark winds ran riot through fields of heaven,
dirty cyclones scattering dust
into our stinging eyes
and we cried under the black crepe
draped over blank, empty windows.
November, 1978, loomed large in the twilight haze as we waited
and uneasily watched the news.
In thirsty Jonestown
the November heat swelled
the bodies of black children,
huddled in the arms of still mothers,
empty paper cups strewn on the ground
dripping purple Kool-Aid, happy drink for a hot day,
poisoned with bitter megalomania.
The stench of fear
permeated Geary Boulevard,
filling the looming, empty halls
of the People's Temple.
Protected by the glass wall of my television
I observed this distant slaughter
my eyes spared from the sting
of personal tears.
iii But November soon became personal,
and quickly took my father
and left me stunned,
empty and cold as frozen Ohio.
Bad comes in threes,
and in my rented car,
on the way home from the cemetery,
I heard of bloody mayhem in San Francisco,
madness splattering City Hall,
in the thick blood of Moscone and Milk,
struck down on a cloudy
November day. (22 Nov. 2013)