poetry By Roger Aplon In Their Wake The Omnipotent Sorcerer In parts of the Orient bats serve as symbols of good luck, long life, and happiness. The bridge crossed in a rush is not the same that spanned the years of his intrusion. Never assumed. Never expected. His act of wicked pleasure should not be rewarded. With each drum beat, with every ringing of the gong. A hand is raised & smoke, a wand is raised & fire. They’re packing pistols in Texas. Next week the funerals. He waves his hand again & blood like rain — cruel weather. Tortured dreams. Dementia & whistling on the wind. He’s at it again. See. Humping his way. Fist by claw by dandelion wine. There’s much to see from far & beyond. Don’t trust his vision. That was many years ago. Instead, walk the master’s dog — your way back to the beginning & the building of the way ahead, from couch to saddle to souped- up Chevy to baby clothes to rocking chair. In June they promised documents & an arrested mission. By August hope sprang naked & wet as a new-born. We watched & waited & nothing resembled what had been promised. No matter his vanity, his virulent rutting, his composure under fire, his wrath & ruin. There’s not much to believe. Take it from one who knows. Remember how you got into this mess. It wasn’t for not trying. Just another dumb turn of the wheel, luck run amuck. By sundown, all will be forgiven. Maybe, by sundown even he will admit malevolence & beg forgiveness. Don’t take it for granted. Marshall your minions & prepare for the thunder that is assured. The warning is etched in the stone that bars the door. Read & remember. There are more of you than meets the eye. Trust your instincts. Kiss the one you love & do not look back. There’s nothing worth the risk. In their wake a fine rain & a common hunger at sundown. All else remains the same: twin retrievers tethered to a boy’s memory of subterfuge & sabotage, a war he could never win, his father, all business & armed against metaphor, his mother a shadow in the pantry dishing castor oil, wilted spinach & Thursday’s liver. Their wake is calm. He pauses for one last look & a nap at the water’s edge. It’s impossible to separate the rising tide from their passing. I walk with it daily as we all must if we’ve survived. & the bats? Who will manage their nourishment or corner their fury? They enter their weather at full speed as if they have no time for council or remorse, as if they’ve been warned of loss & cautioned don’t look back.