Tuesday, August 31, 2021


The Trouble With Stars

The trouble with the stars

Is that they are so

Damn far out and sublime.

They give a sense of out there

That over-humbles the here,

Unmooring it from the present time.

These arbitrary constellations,

Like seeing camels in clouds

Or Minotaurs in Rorschach blots

Are just parlor room tricks,

The thick mascara of a wink

From across the ochred brass bar...

Nothing but frivolous temptations.  

Better to stare into a dark void

Than blast off into space

And spend a lifetime

Racing toward an icy rock

That burned out 

Long before its light 

Had a chance

To make you feel alive

That one lonesome night.

We fall in love with bonfires raging 

Across the summer valleys at dusk,

That burn down to embers

By the time we finally arrive.


Tuesday, August 24, 2021



My 10 year old son lies supine in a bath without bubbles. His lithe white body like a mullet fish in the lagoon floats fragile in dull gray waters. His shins are like champagne flutes.  His wiener sways and strains for the surface like a blade of ocean kelp.  Here’s your towel, man, I say.  He’s dipped his ears beneath the surface so he can’t hear what I’m saying.  Or at least plausibly deny. Underwater we only hear with our skull.  Everything echoes.  Each sound takes its turn.  What did I even say.  I’d forgotten the towel.  I’m not even there.  He’s already asleep.  He’s driving away.  He’s loving a girl.  He’s sending me ties for Father’s Day. He pats his hand on my head when I die.  What he hears is just a faint echo. But he never forgets. He plunges his head underwater. He emerges clean but I must wait until the morning to shower.


Monday, August 23, 2021



I’m no hero, certainly not anyone’s idea of a saint.  That twisted bowel was dead and needed to come out.  Didn’t take a genius.  I know the steps. I’m merely well-trained. Capable of following instructions. Dozens are clamoring to replace me.  Anyone would do the same.  No one is irreplaceable. This is the sudden recognition of the inescapable anonymity of moderate accomplishment.  

The real heroes are more like my seventh grade science teacher, Ms. France.  (Her name was either Ms. France or Mrs. Krantz.) She told me I had a “terrific personality” just in the nick of time.  I’d almost taken a vow of silence and fallen into retreat.  She wore garish blue eyeshadow and mascara like wet tar and had big electrified hair. Her voice boomed and trilled.  I figured she knew what she was talking about. Within a year I’d notice that sometimes people looked at me when I talked.  

There was also Christine Cleary, my 4th grade friend. Maybe she wasn’t really a friend.  More like, assigned to the seat next to me at lunch. She was small and mousy and liked sports. She always packed a brown bag like me, hers neatly folded at the top, mine crushed up like an embarrassing scrap of verse.  Sometimes she let me trade my smushed oatmeal cream pie for a real cookie or two.  People didn’t offer me things.  Christine, whose dad lived in NYC in the same way mine lived in Tucson.  Who used to gently tease about why I was always blinking my eyes so rapidly and hard. It looks painful and awkward, she said. Like someone squirted acid in your eyes.  Embarrassing, to say the least.  She didn’t say it mean. She was just curious. But at least someone noticed.  I didn’t know it was OCD.  I was just a kid. But I figured it out.  I quit cold turkey. I stopped counting them up. Stopped synching them with the beat of some nursery rhyme ditty. It didn’t change anything. Nothing ever changed.  She was the one who first saved me.  I didn’t realize kindness is a power.  That you can be nice even when you’re all twisted up and raging on the inside and need it all cut out.



 Poem #26

I keep writing these poems to draw attention.  So desperate to be seen.  Maybe if I paid more attention to myself I wouldn’t have to write so loud.  I’m making a scene, so many verses about cachectic trees with cracked bones, the wind searching for marrow.  Oh well, there’s nothing there.  I’ve looked. I’ve shattered all the mirrors.  I keep setting cacophonous alarms but I don’t wake up.  In a certain dream I never get home.  I keep pulling over and scribbling down lines on half sheets of paper. The hospital is always in my rear view mirror. Feeling needed is a way to stay alive.  I don’t want to miss my exit.  Last rest area for a million miles.  I have plenty of gas.  I’m laying on the horn and lighting flares.  But I don’t want any help.  I leave the engine idling. I’ll figure this out.  One more stanza without a single damn rhyme.  The wind is picking up. That might be the growl of distant thunder. Or a gathering pack of wolves.  I’ll have to shout.  Maybe just drive. I'm running out of time. When I arrive I slam the door so someone will hear. I recognize the place by the sound of my own voice.


Thursday, August 19, 2021



So this is where all the broken hearts go.

Charred land of the withering

We’re surrounded by summer pines.

There’s a bonfire raging in the middle

But we never stop shivering.

They’re in the plaza

By the turquoise tiled fountain

With a child not their own

Tossing nickels and pennies

Into shallow pools of blue.

They’re playing well with others.

They’re actualizing their potentials,

Cheering each other up, quietly playing board

Games and putting away all the pieces

 When the games are done.

I know this is the place for me.

The second you wonder whether you belong

Is the instant you will be asked to leave.

There is no solace here,

Only the absence of loneliness.




August is the heaviest month.

Everything is just too much.

You can haul away the languid air

By the wheelbarrow load.

Everything moves slow 

Like we’re all caught in a

Rapidly coagulating clot.

The Massillon train moans its departure before

Rumbling on like stratospheric machinery.

You’re always bent over,

Hands on your knees

Panting like front porch dogs.

Everything is so stifling and heavy.

The universe is sitting on my shoulders

But the Doppler effect would suggest

Otherwise, that it’s actually expanding,

Not falling in on itself like I tend to do.

Unburdening is red-shifting

Away, weightless and free,

Crystalline chill of morning dew,

But someplace far from me.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021



There isn’t much beneath my surface.

I’m Chagrin River creek deep

Baked almost dry

By sultry suns of July.

I’m not who you think

Fooling you hasn’t been fun

All I can do 

Is make you wet,

Stomping and kick-splashing,

Stirring up clouds of silt

So you can’t fathom the true depth.

Plausible deniability.

You can’t tear down what never gets built.

When the sediment settles 

The water clears liked a dusted mirror

That only shows a dissolving face,

First the reflection and then your own,

Just before the glass cracks

And hints at slivers of life

Shining through from the other side.

The sandy bed of the creek trembles,

Shifts and gives way to gravity,

To absence, to you falling,

The only thing you can do

When the ground gives way.

You are the one who can't stop falling

And you're falling all alone,

And you're falling all alone

But I’ve already left the river

And my feet are firm and dry.

That’s me, over there,

Silhouetted on the opposite shore,

Skipping stones across skins of water.


Saturday, August 14, 2021


Going Through Something

We’re all going through something.

Half dead trees with hollowed out limbs

Bracing for the gale force winds.

Flowers are sweltering in the sun

While, later on, their roots

Get washed away in the deluge.

Some of us are perpetually waking up

While others fail to fall asleep.

We’re all going through something unique.

We’re all on permanent spin cycle,

Wracked and wet and wrinkled,

Trying to pass our laundered selves off as 

Lightly starched, ironed shirts.

I counter your grievous losses

With a litany of frivolous obsessions.

Your anger and her mystification

Are just enough to balance

My deflective prevarications.

Your here and now present must level up

With my understanding of the past

Minus the mourning of an unchosen future. 

Everything I eat ends up

Dander in my own pillow.

My lonesome childhood laments

Get remitted in the rush I still get 

When the gallbladder is finally out.  

Every time I feel good about myself

I’m soon reminded by the face

Of the impostor I chose to become 

That I never stood a chance 

Of being anybody, any good.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021



I’m divining sources of moisture

Deep within the ground,

Patiently waiting for mystical sticks

To waver and then cross.

Fossilized rocks beckoning

With secret magnetic solaces

Telling me where to stop,

When to grab hoes and picks

And start to hack at the earth.

These ancient porous aquifers 

Can sense the earth shifting

The way I start to tremor

When I sense you’ve divined

Some rich vein deep inside me;

I'm left trembling in anticipation,

Wondering what it is you’ll find.


Monday, August 2, 2021


 A Gift

It isn’t your birthday 

Or the anniversary of anything special

But I felt this urge to get you a gift.

I read every overwrought

Card in the aisle

And bought the least worst,

The one without flowers,

Of course.

I spent hours on-line

Scrolling through all the things

I know you like until

I found the one you will.  

This is all nice and sweet.

You’ll smile and affect a blush

But I know the thing you really need.

I'm not that daft.

You need to read something I write,

even if just a rough draft,

that expresses precisely

how lovely and beautiful

how impossibly perfect you are

to me, how lovely

how good you are to

to me

how bursting with

mystical energy

You are  

                      to me

just the way

you are to me

et cetera

et cetera


My love is the opposite

of the deepest hate,

the ravenous hunger

you cannot sate,

the empty canvas

looming over a puddle

of spilled paint.

It is the raucous opposite

of my ear against a grave.

Take all the nothingness

of the voids of space,

the insentient un-belonging

of a stray beam of light

emitted from a long dead star

wending its way toward you

from galaxies away

and know the opposite shore 

of that eventual midnight shimmer

is the magnitude of my love for you 

But this is a gift 

for which there are no words,

like struggling to package

the lissome grace of moonlight 

into the shadows of a box

when the moon itself

is a cold dead rock

I can only sign the card

Love, me

And hope for the best.

Maybe if you read it out loud

I’ll know that it's true

So go on then,

whisper if you can.

Read it to me


and I will listen