Visiting the Master

I met the master before he died.
his best work behind him, his eyes
colorless and squinting as if they’d
already seen too much. “Nothing changes,”
he shouted at whatever mystery
was listening. The looking back to me,

The Executioner

The eyes are full of illusions, this we know,
nearsighted to dragons in the distance,
farsighted to angels at our elbow.
No, the eyes cannot be trusted, yet
I watched this man die for that is how
I feed my children. As you drive your bus,

Tarek Compares Beauty and Thunder

I’ve never stood opposite the Mona Lisa.
I’ve never heard the euphoria of “Ode to Joy”
or the bloom of Vivaldi’s “Spring.”

I’ve stood opposite the rubble of my home.
I’ve heard the drumming of bullets on walls
and the crashing of cymbals overhead.

My Father at 80

It’s a good day for pancakes
although I have to watch
the syrup. I have to watch
the sugar and the salt,
the caffeine and the meat.
I have to watch the forest
in my ears and the fish
scales on my feet. I have

Man on Ocean Park Boulevard Talking to a Parking Meter

Destiny, perhaps, or just good luck
took the yellow light to red and brought me
to a stop at the corner of Ocean Park and 23rd.
At first, I thought what I heard was coming
from another car—the usual hip-hop rap.
But then I saw him at the curb, talking to


Il Signore del Giocondo has paid good money
for a portrait of his wife, so a portrait must be done.
The florins slip easily into the painter’s purse
but not so the paint on the canvas. The woman
is plain as the day is grey, her face weary from
the work of five children. Yet the painter is no fool.
He knows well what a husband seeks in a portrait is not