Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Poem #22

Some poems have something to say.

This one makes no such claim.

Some are written with a certain person in mind;

This one is a rasped yawp, lost on the wind.

Some poems try to tell you where you’ve been

Like the trail of crumbs Hansel left behind 

To help him find his way home.

But the birds and squirrels must eat.

Some poems are actually snow

That float down to salve the rutted land.

Some are acid rain on the tongue

At the end of a long distilling run.

Some are the summer clouds,

That mingle in the afternoon haze.

But turn your head for a second

And poof  they’re gone.

Some are that perfect wave you’ve followed

Since it first reared its head far out at sea

And regally rolled in to shore only to

Collapse in declasse chaos of froth and confusion.

Some are just baubles,

Dusty half-broken curios from the past

That you carry with you wherever you go.

Put them on window sills

As you move from house to house.

You grow up, have things of your own,

Have kids, have wives, annuities and bills. 

You never think of your aging artifacts

But the minute you notice one missing

Is the opening of an old festering wound.

Mine was a candy house with glazed roof

I stole from my mom 

When I left for Chicago.

As a kid I imagined

That it contained monsters

And it scared me.

The pebbled texture felt hard and dangerous.

I distrusted the things that promised sweetness,

That could break my teeth if I tried to eat it.

But now I know it’s the trinket 

That belongs with me wherever I go,

Reminding me that dad 

Is in the woods with an axe,

Wandering night after night

And he won’t ever stop

Until he finds us,

Until he slays the witch

And carries us all back home.


Sunday, March 28, 2021


Without God

How long can a man go without god?  What about food or drink or sex?  Use it or lose it.  You know it when you see it.  How long can the piano sit in the dining room untuned?  Cut the strings so the pieces unplayed never had a chance.  What about the apple rotting on the ground, untasted.  How long can its mealy flesh hold flavor while bees bore holes into its core.  How long can a contented baby go without crying?   Won’t you wake up in terrors to the silence? Would you ever forgive yourself if you slept through the night? What about the tattered books you lug from home to home in cardboard boxes? You can't carry yourself from place to place. Yellowed paperback surrogates must suffice. The words at least stay the same. Jake Barnes, my old friend.   How long can you go without hearing your own name?  Without seeing a thing and needing to give it a name? I’ll give you a minute.  I’ll give you a lifetime. It’s a simple formula.  Take the flat tire in your garage.  Add the field equations of Einstein.  Sprinkle in a swath of spongy March lawn.  A pinch of your ass when no one notices.  Mix it all together.  Stir until your arm falls off.  It’s apple pie.  It’s stars and stripes. It's space and time.  It’s the great American Novel. It’s weeping in  the shower. It’s whispering half a prayer and letting the rest unfurl without words. It’s love and spite.  It’s all that you allow yourself to eat.  


Wednesday, March 24, 2021


 Pale Sky

The sky pale gray, drained of all color like the universe had seen a ghost, clamped down and was on the verge of fainting.  We find a mood in the colored sky. Amorous violaceous velvet nights. Slashed red sky of partial birth dawns.  Mornings like this we’re on our own.  It’s all just as it is.  No hints or clues.  A tall glass of iced water with droplets beaded to its cylindrical walls.  The face on the other side looks the same, just blurred.  It really changes nothing at all.  Not fundamentally. You study the body by draining it of blood, of vibrant color. Anatomy lab with everyone rictal-grinning and cool detached and compensated calm. Bathed in formalin. Rubbery pellucid gray. Detachment of feeling. Saphenous vein. Sphenoid fossa.  I’ll have a gin martini neat. After a while, hold the vermouth.  Then, hold the gin.  A clean bare glass, empty and gray, a porthole gazing upon the day to come. The ghosts that are real haunt the world of color.


Sunday, March 21, 2021


Stop and Start

I want to write a thousand poems and then stop.

Put them all in a plastic baggy with a match

And go for a walk,

Not just around the block

But as far as I can until the road 

Ends in a fork and stop.

Hitch a ride in a rusted pickup truck,

Hop in back, rattle the bones

All night long under the stars

Until the silver light of the moon

Makes the stains on the metal bed

Look like blood and stop.

Jump out when the truck slows

And roll down a hill 

Around and around

To the bank of a river and stop.

Dive in and swim for a while

And then float like flotsam

Until I’m fighting to breathe

And flailing for the opposite shore

And drag myself to land again and stop.

Shed frigid drenched shirt,

Curl up and shiver until I remember 

The bundle of poems I never lost.

Light them on fire

One by one until there’s only one left

And then stop.

Warm my hands over the flames,

Add some sticks and brush

Until there’s a blazing light

So I can start again,

So I can write again,

Smudging charcoaled words

On this palimpsest last sliver

In front of a fire 

That never goes out

And I wont ever stop.


Sunday, March 14, 2021


 Half Moon

Early morning half moon,

I see the whole

Even with one side 

Sheltering in the indigo darkness.

I can’t help this need

To conjure a completeness.

The moon just gazes back

And sees half a man,

Half way home

Lost in the shadows of his own life.

But for you I am enough,

Just as I am, and have traveled

As far as I have needed to come.

You’d already ventured out

And have been patiently waiting

To meet me in the middle.

Yours is the light that

Shines on the dark side

That I’m too afraid to show

And too proud to hide.  



 Winter Requiem

Dying days of light snow,

Giant flakes fluttering down like ashes.

No one ever mourns the end of winter.

The sputterings of spring in early March elicit

Eager hope rather than sad remembrances

Of frozen days of the dark solstice.

Let us acknowledge this morning of silence

To honor the passing of the frigid balm.

We ought to thank it

For its blanketing solace,

For its unexpectant calm,

For the space that opens

Up when it freezes

And all the water expands 

To become the ice for our bruises

And the snow to soothe our open wounds.

The end of summer evokes the melancholy 

Last days by the sea shore,

The way the waves lap at your toes

Like dogs who don’t want you to go.

Even the end of autumn stings

When all the trees finally go bare,

When the Northern winds

Whistle and prick like steel pins.

It’s not a fait accompli 

That winter doesn’t get a proper burial;

First snow, the frozen pond

The festive holiday lights.

There’s plenty to miss.

But it lasts so, so long.

One begins to doubt if the living

Will ever really rise from the dead.

The dark truth of it  

Wears one down.

But sadness is always more true than happiness.

Some of us are more alive in sorrow,

In the empty handedness of total loss.

The string of the balloon slipping

From my 3 year old girl’s fingertips,

Me loving my dad most after

He got in the car and drove away.

The way the wind

Ridges the waters of the pond

Like a flock of starlings

Murmurating in rhythmic random whooshes.

But you look to the sky

And there’s nothing there;

No flock, no birds, just the vast grayness.

The reflection is nothing but the wind 

Which is the nothing that reveals the thing not there.  

Goodbye my old friend.

The world cannot bear to remain so silent and still.

It is time to bloom once again.


Thursday, March 11, 2021



Pre-teen girls all want to know:

Why am I always so mad?

Why does my heart pound?

What is this raging low hum 

Thrum, like the swarm of bees

Holed up in our garage wall

That no one else seems to hear?

Of all the things to wonder.

Ask me about sedatives, I say,

Or the best way to peel an orange

Or how to train for a 5K.

Let’s figure out the rest,

All the things that bewilder and vex.

One at a time.

Sit with me.

Take out your math

And we’ll find the greatest common factor.

If you have to cry, then cry

I’ll find a box of Kleenex.

Let’s kill some time

And match up the missing socks

Collected in all these baskets.

But don’t ask me if he really likes you.

I don’t know if he’s here to break your heart.

It’s not for me to say.  

It isn’t just bees;

I called my own exterminator, long ago.

But it comes in waves.

Sometimes it’s a buffalo stampede

Through our tidy rows of summer squash,

A flash flood trapping you in a desert canyon

When the banks of the wash are steepest,

An avalanche when you're just trying to learn how to ski.

Sweet girl, our reactors are unstable,

So many things to make us seethe,

Always a single miscalculation,

A moment of distraction from meltdown;

Our own heritable Chernobyl.

Get everyone else out,


But you, my love, must sit with it.

Watch and tend to it,

Bathe it in coolant.

Try to shorten the half life

Without putting it completely out.

You’ll need that fire

Down the road

When you’re older

And have learned how to love

And for all the things that matter.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021



The underground rivers 

Fissure the limestone rock

Into arborizing veins

That rive through 

The ceilings of caves

In a steady relentless drip.

I’ll bore through stone walls

To get back home

To get to you.

I’ll make a life out of struggle,

Leach out the minerals

And impurities along the way.

I’ll be the solute to dissolve

The things you can’t hold on to

Anymore and carry them all away.

When I break through

I won’t celebrate.

It isn’t enough to finally fall.

There’s work to be done.

All the sediment I haul

And all I leave behind

Eventually meet in the middle 

To form a weight bearing column.

We’ve worked too hard

To let our cave collapse .


Sunday, March 7, 2021


Poem #21

Sunday evening of a long weekend call;

No sleep, fuzzy brained unshaven.

Too many operations,

Too many treks down half-empty hospital halls,

Too many 3 a.m. ER telephone calls.

I barely keep anything straight.

Thoughts slip in and out

Like rabbits through an ornamental fence

Surrounding a ravaged garden.

I’ve lost at least a few poems

This way, glimpses of things possibly interesting

But lacking the energy to look twice.

Missed connections, sand sifted through hands,

Having all the ingredients

When you’re hungry

But not in the mood to cook.

An insight into a truth

But too beat down, burned out

To muster the effort to make it sprout.

The last patient was this wizened

Cancer-riddled old lady wasting away,

Fascia nearly effaced.

There wasn’t much there to close

So I made do with what was left.

It won’t hold forever.

It won’t last.

But sometimes we must 

Pick up the pieces

Of what we see,

Of what remains,

Gather up the fumbled

Verbs and nouns and weave

It back together the best we can

And that's the way it will be.