His Name Was Ken

His Name Was Ken 

My mother-in-law looks at the world through a small window

she would like to have cleaned but she can’t get it done.

So I come over to take her out for coffee,

and as her wheelchair bumps over the careful violence

of the street, she says be careful not to spill me out.

I am very careful especially when we go downhill

and I have to lean back so she doesn’t roll away

and pour out in front of the coffee shop.


She doesn’t want to wear the yellow sunglasses

we got her from the institute, but when we get outside

I can tell the glare is too much for her, so I lean over

and put mine on her and it's better.

She wonders if we’re lost, and I say no

we just haven’t been here before

so it’s a new experience like landing on the moon, and she


remembers watching that on TV with me

while her daughter was at a rehearsal

where the director wouldn’t let them stop

and I say no that wasn’t me.

I don’t know where I was at the time,

but it wasn't there.


She likes her sweets but worries about gaining weight

and I say hey! go for it — at ninety-one what have you got

to lose? And she tells me about her sister who died

and left some money to her grandson

who called to say it wasn’t enough

and she gets livid and sad.


I get her the smallest latte they have so it won’t keep her up.

She looks at her watch, and I tell her not to worry

I'll be sure to get her back in time for supper. After all, I say,

it’s not like returning from the moon.

It’s not like that movie

where they almost didn’t make it back.


She’s been to the moon too many times

and it's just too boring, she says.

She doesn't want to go again.

And then she asks if I remember the time

and I say no, that was another time.

His name was Ken.

5 P. M.

  1. Filled the feeder
  2. before dark
  3. put the small birds
  4. to sleep,
  5. cut a handfull
  6. of chard
  7. for supper,
  8. came inside
  9. against fading blue
  10. when the earth hung
  11. flat and featureless
  12. as a cutout
  13. on a laundry line,
  14. until dark
  15. covered that to
  16. and then
  17. a pair of amber windows
  18. like eyes,
  19. and then her
  20. green eyes wondering
  21. why do I
  22. love so much
  23. the way things end


Now to unlearn

habits of unhappiness


since way back when.

To lose them

one by one

until what remains

is the other 

side of then.


Copyyright Henry Rappaport from  Loose to the World, Ronsdale Press 2014.




Salvador Dali is nothing like Robert Hass.
Hass for example has no moustache.
The handlebars I held onto as a kid
riding up and down Starr Avenue
like a pendulum one lovesick summer
had nothing to my chagrin like the whimsey
above Salvador's chin. Nor were his
dripping and drooping clocks the clocks
we watched nor his the watches we wore.

The museum that winds you through a labyrinth
of gift shop aisles and past the smart cafe
to where you queue to view the master's art
is nothing like the semi-dark archive
that will likely house the poet's visions and revisions.
It will not sport a geodesic dome of glass
to withstand tropical storms and wow crowds.
No infinite stash of souvenirs for credit cards
or cash. Nor is it likely you will be allowed to touch
what touched the poet's hand white gloves or not.
For lunch a brown paper sack you packed with carrot sticks
and a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a Dasani from the basement
vending machine where you sip in the dark semi-fluorescent light.

Impossible to say whose art will last or for how long
or how either would figure into his work say a small red bird
on a garden chair across the patio that flies into the dense foliage
of a lychee tree and is alternately impossible and easy to see.

The Collected Works of Robert Hass are waiting for him to pass.
Dali is mostly in St. Petersburg and Spain. Both are easy to find
on the net. But as for the handlebars of the bike i never rode
as a kid or the small red bird, my pony ate them.


the way the oatmeal crunches

is it the blueberries I am remembering

                            stone cut

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