Sunday, July 25, 2021



I wrestled with myself,

The good and the bad,

Interrogated the good,

Called it out for its pieties,

Its hesitant inconsistencies.

And then grappled with the bad,

Greco-Roman style,

Muscled it to the ground

Taking us both down

Which is the only way

To avoid a crushing defeat.


I ran out of breath

Chasing my own tail.

I was the only one there

All along.

There’s a mirror here


Me and the old reflection.

I see them both.  

One living and one an illusion,

The false that shows the real.

I didn’t know.

About all these things.

No one told me

That this is 

The way it was

All along.

It’s quiet now.

There’s music


Absent notes, curious

Patterns of sound.

This is the great song

That was there all along.

Everyone is dancing

Except for me,

Off on my own again,

Peering into voids,

An ear cupped

Against a brick wall.

I had to learn the lyrics

By writing my own.  


Wednesday, July 21, 2021


 Red Moon

There is a reddish moon in the morning sky

Raw pink like sunburnt skin

Left too long to bake in the sun

Someone has sliced an orange in half

Exposing a fleshy citric succulence  

With a squirt that burns the eye.

The last flicker of flame before the lapse.

A crimson surge before the fade to white ash.

They say it’s due to wildfires

Raging thousands of miles away

Scattering all the western light.

Homes and and fields and forests seared 

Even the vineyards in the valleys are at risk

All those grapes swelling and hissing

Before they pop like millions 

Of tiny moons on the verge of bursting 


Sunday, July 18, 2021



One day, when you were gone,

I found a cupboard 

That was actually 

A portal into your soul.

But not the good part,

Nah, all the dark, 

Unmentionable grays:

A vista gazing upon

Valleys of head spinning sin,

Meadows swaying with betrayals,

Too many bad haircuts to count.

All your naughty thoughts in 

Various rictal expressions

Of exquisite orgasmic delight.

It was actually kind of fun.

A couple hours very

Well may have elapsed.

Before I sealed the door and

Promised to never come back.


Saturday, July 17, 2021



When the sunflower droops

Its head in the rain

I think it looks so forlorn.

But the flower has its 

Own ideas, noticing me

Over its sodden shoulder

With a heavy sigh,

Thinking, don’t foist

All your troubles on me

Young man; if you’re sad

You ought to have your own cry.



 Poem #25

How reliable is memory, really?

What do we truly know

About the events of our lives?

Is there really a difference 

Between whatever you recall

About the day you turned six

And your aptitude in reciting 

A few lines from TS Eliot?

Tales told by an idiots

Heads hollow and stuffed with straw

A shuffling series of images

Like cards flash dealt

By a party magician

Playing his last trick.

That one time you felt loved and safe:

Was it the ace of diamonds 

Or the lowly deuce of hearts? 

Childish fears, the certainty of fault.

Do you even remember 

The color of your mother’s hair?

Could you draw her smile

With this sliver of slate

In a firelit cave?

What species of trees formed

That dense gnarled grove

Behind the house 

Where you liked to hide

Because it was always dark,

Even in the middle of the day?

Could you reproduce your father’s laughter?

Or the sound of your grandfather’s electric razor

That he always used in the living room?

What about the stench of the backyard creek

That reeked of rotten egg effluvia

And foamed white against stones.

Memory is an abstraction

Life is a chimera

That can’t be captured 

Even with a Polaroid camera.

So we turn to poetry

When the strobes of youth

Get too gauzy.

What you lose in accuracy

You make up for in truth.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 Zero Sum

We’re always borrowing things

And giving them right back.

Every deep breath

Gets paid off

With a sifting

Handful of sighs.

Everything I drink

Drips to the floor

In either a puddle

Of brackish sweat

Or a thimbleful

Of fugitive tears.

Always inviting the entire world in

Just as your old self checks out.

All this bundled hope

Dissolving in puddles of doubt.

We take from our parents

And give to our kids

Who take from their kids

To fill the gaps 

That opened up

Deep inside me.

(It was all those times I gave

But could never quite accept.)

Now I’m out of juice.

I’ve already tapped the last

Of my rapidly dwindling reserves.

We’re always on the verge

Of perpetual arrears.

The dirt under my nails

That swirls down some drain.

An hour of mindless fun

Preceding a sleepless night

Of anxious despair.

Love is the thing that doesn’t change.

You can take it and you can take

It and it’s just a million

Little explosions in the sun

And it’s just the night 

Or it’s just the day, to us;

A warm summer day

Or a frigid winter’s night

Depending on our

Distance from the light,

A perfect circle on fire.

When it's extinguished

It won't matter anyway.

You can offer yourself up

And you can give and

You can give like

Lazy tropical rain

Spattering against 

The vastness of ocean,

The cloud that empties itself

Of form and substance

To no particular avail.

I am the cloud that thinks

It is a cloud that can be emptied,

That doesn’t know it was always the ocean.

There is no volume

And there was never 

A measure of weight.

This stone path is enough.

One full stride 

And then you add them all up.

(Here I go again)
I never knew how many stones,

How many steps it would take.

Far too many to count.

(Here I am again)

I keep showing up early,

Willing to learn,

But the deepest understandings

Always arrive so late.


Thursday, July 8, 2021


Obedience of Shadows

I’ve finished dinner and no one is home. I’ve got a book in front of me, opened like palms in supplication.  The sun is at the level of the trees. That arching cathedral living room window. I see a silhouette of a Medieval town, ramparts and spires and castles, cast upon the pages.  Light fractionates through the grove of trees. Fragments into gothic shadows. The light gets gashed as it fights and claws through a tangled matting of branches.

Shadows are just thwarted light. This is how absence shines through. The residue of some indefinable loss. It breeds obedience.  The silent black respectfulness of a funeral. Doffing a coal-smudged cap. The shuffling of scuffed Sunday shoes.   

The shadows remain still and silent.  They stay where they are cast.  This is the obedience of shadows.  Of course, they aren't entirely still.  Just perceivably so.  The sun continues to set, inch by inch.  I know I haven’t much time. The spires are imperceptibly shifting, shrinking. My town, my kitchen starts to darken.  How much time has elapsed?

Sharp forms begin to smear. Edges blurring into a confluent gray.  A man at a kitchen table, an open book, head bowed, forgetting to whisper amen, not reading.  Nothing lasts. Not even longings for things already lost.  I’m losing my light.  Losing my place in my book. The train of thought.  Everyone will be  home soon. Garage door shudderings. Flickerings of halogen lights and chattering voices. Footsteps. I can’t understand a thing of what they say. All of it words I should know. They mean nothing at all.  The letters are curved shapes. The sounds are ominous rumblings of mountain thunder.  The shadows have retreated under the table. Around corners. To the other side of the wall.   Pages and pages of words. That's all that's left.    

I say:

Alexa, Play Billie Holiday.


Thursday, July 1, 2021



Burn me down to

Ash when I die.

Put what’s left in an urn

And give it to

The wide-eyed,

Sweaty-palmed kid

With a tremor.

Out of the funereal silence

Will arise the piercing smash,

(Just my luck)

Of ice-white ceramic,

A collective gasp,

A plume of dust

Just as it starts

To rain and turn

What remains into mud.



 We Come To Love

We always come to love alone.

Nothing left but a self that

We’re tired of lugging around.

We come to love unloaded,

Having dumped some ballast while 

The rest had a way of just falling off.

We lost interest in things

Particularly the ones that stopped mattering

Along with a few that still do

(Like fireworks, like backflips).

But we kept persisting, twisting keys

To start cars stripped of engines.

Just gaze into a mirror some pre-dawn morning

And you’ll find something else has fallen away,

Maybe that silvered eyelash or your last sliver of shame,

Some crucially defining detail you remember from yesterday.

Time distills, de-differentiates stepping

Stones into soft hexagons of spongy moss.

The wisdom of age conjugates

Algal slurries for excretion.

We come to love empty handed.

Nothing to offer, nothing left to give.

We’re dead broke.

Nothing in our pockets but matches and couplets.

And we've burned through enough good will

To cloak the sun behind a slate gray smoke.

We come to love untidy, unkempt,

Disheveled and unshowered.

We’re the ones asked to leave

Wedding feasts, told to pack our things,

Shown the way to the nearest exits.

We’ve walked away from jobs,

Ripped up gold-embossed certificates,

Turned our backs on money,

On rewards, on applause.

We’ve left all the bosses slack-jawed

And friends holding empty burlap bags.

We forgot the stamps on all our thank you notes

And omitted the return addresses

From the backs of the envelopes.

We’ve driven cars over cliffs,

Plummeting into this silent abyss

That we'll learn to call "grief",

Someday, when we surface

And words become possible again.

We’ve stripped down to

Nothing but blanched bones,

Ice picked our eyes,

And plugged our ears

With the burgundy clots of old blood

Seeping from crowns of thorns.

You know, I’ve forgotten the difference

Between what soothes and what hurts.

It all just blurs into the notion of touch

Which, sometimes, is just the frontier

Between loneliness and anyone else here.

And that’s not saying much.

We arrive at love bereft:

Of possessions, of friends

Of pleasures, of slights,

Of sounds, of silences,

Of rituals or rites.  

We arrive at last at love.

Just as it was.

Just the way we had left.