Macbeth’s End

Once upon a time, there was a dark prince who
waged a protracted war against the people.
He delighted in ambushes of the mind.

While swords clashed in the heavens, chaos and
confusion oppressed the people in the light of
day. The enemy sabotaged our highest hopes
with deep despair.

Our lives became deserted battlements where hearts
smoldered in ruins of rage. And so the story goes.

If this was fantasy, wouldn’t you want to know
how it all began? If this was a mystery, wouldn’t
you want to know who did it? If this was a
comedy, wouldn’t you want the laughter to linger?
Certainly, you would!

Lean close. Let me whisper. Macbeth’s end would
be too good for this dark prince! I know how this
story ends. The dark prince will come for a time,
then go, but a people will rise out of the ashes.

How? By the power of Him who breathed life into
Man. By the power of Him who raised the Lamb of
God. Hear the name of truth and life being spoken
softly to the ear of your soul. It is the name of He
who was, when history had not yet happened,
and the future was fully known.

Like the “emperor with no clothes,” we think we can
cast shadows in a dark room. In the light, the scars
of our hearts mirror the scars on His hands and feet.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

The Reading Fountain

In the park, there’s a fountain with a bronze bird.
The bench where he sits doesn’t have his name on it,
but it should. This is where he comes on the clear
days. He always sits there by the reading fountain.

I never walked through the park before he’d arrive
or after he’d left. Definitely his bench! He always
wore a plaid cap with a snap in front, cocked way
back on his head. And the same sweater.

If I get to be that old, will I wear sweaters in June?
The heat doesn’t faze him a bit. He reads as though
New York City wasn’t there. He reads now as he
wished he could have done years ago.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

To Shreds

At first I blamed the Army mail, because
I hadn’t heard from you since I left for
Vietnam. I wrote to you every day.

I kept your picture long after I received
your “Dear John” telling me you were
getting married.

Years later, in my own way, I had to let
Vietnam go. When I finally cried and
agonized over Vietnam, I let you go, too.

It was time to forgive all the way around.
I lost you, and lost the war.
I loved Vietnam and her beautiful people.

I loved speaking the language, the smells
of the busy marketplace, and especially,
the laughter of the children.

And, I loved you.

I loved teaching English in Hue at that stately
old high school by the Song Huong river.
And, yes, I even loved why I was there.

And, I thought I loved you.

But, in a moment of exasperation, I finally
did it. I tore your picture to shreds. And
then I wished I hadn’t.

It hurt when I lost you, but I cried harder
at the loss of Vietnam.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Over Coffee

How about some coffee?
I slept well last night,
didn’t you?

What else will not be
said, how many more
questions will never get
asked or answered?
How many more
discussions will we not
have over morning
coffee?

How could she have
slept so soundly! For I
didn’t sleep well at all,
again.

I walked into the kitchen,
opened the cupboard, and
saw that we were out of
coffee.

My tears were mixed with
laughter, the mad laughter
of one who was tired of
years of empty talk. We
were on empty.

So, I left over coffee.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

For Some

I watched a sailboat
trying to make its way
across the lake.
My book was open,
but I hadn’t turned a page.
Too tired; too hot.

I checked on the sailboat.
It seemed to be
where it was before.
No breeze.
Here or out there.
Stifling in this heat.

The quiet was shattered
by the high whine
of speed boats that came
and went with or without
skiers in tow.
They buzzed by often
enough to be annoying.

That is peace for some.

I belong to the Lord;
that is my peace.

Unfortunately for some,
their summer is joyous
only because
it follows winter.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”