Bought it in the 60’s for fifty cents at a flea market stall from

a beaded pseudo-hippie love goddess and dug it up by chance

under old shoes on the floor at the back of a storage closet ––

its cinnabar lacquer finish smooth to the touch, black reptilian monsters

spitting ornate flames, toxic scent still rising out of interior dank


Rummaging through the odds and ends of a miscellaneous life

I wonder at so much gone missing:  souvenirs of travels I thought

I tossed inside, scribbled notes from lovers, photos of my children,

adventures I planned in my youth, the magic I expected

from the karma of the artist who gave spirits to the creatures

writhing across the surface of the wood in make-believe mist


What’s left is my draft card, a tangle of funky chains once thought

cool for a man to hang around his neck, a silver cigarette lighter

inscribed with, “Those who forget history are bound to relive it,”

given to me on Christmas Day in a jungle hooch in Cambodia

by a soldier sent home early for going crazy, a gold tie pin

from years in the troughs of Wall Street dodging the feral 500’s,

Eugene McCarthy campaign button, carved ivory Buddha

and a peace dove ring that no longer fits


Life has been called a journey but journey is too grand a word

for such a small collection of people, objects, moments, a life

with too little time to gather those things I wanted for myself,

and only a few afternoons left to lift the lid and inhale the souls

of distant dragons