Poem 265 ± February 24, 2016

Rangi McNeil

Three Poems

Sections of the AIDS memorial quilt on display on Governors Island August 2014
Of the crowded ferry’s paying passengers, I was the only person
of discernable color; having the choice of Gustav Mahler or Dolly Parton,
as accompaniment to the thrum of the dun-colored waters

of Upper New York Bay, I chose the simple over the symphonic.
But what was I rightly to do with these (my) narrow hands
in that vast, green field, almost, fully aflower in grief?


My mother wakes & calls for me by my middle
name. She says, I had a piece of paper in my hand

& I twisted it; it smelled like ginger.
Ginger! O, Lamar, you would have loved it.

Her hands are limp & empty. Her heart
could well be wrapped in cotton, its beat is so faint.


If not failure at its most exquisite – a Polish cavalry
assailing German tanks – then what is it, this quickness
reduced to an eternal stillness?

The dead outnumber & litter the living. They mingle,
in daylight & darkness, with the dust atop framed photographs.
The flavor of root vegetables. And those of winter.

She was an agile, swift skiff.
My Excalibur.
My yoke everlasting.


Rangi McNielRangi McNeil is the author of The Missing (Sheep Meadow Press, 2003) and Occasional Poems (The Song Cave, 2015). He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

These poems are not previously published.