Thursday, September 30, 2021



There are those who hope that

The other side of suicide

Is a white room with perfect acoustics

Perfectly calibrated to amplify 

The whispered reminiscences

Of familiar voices who have

Borne witness to the otherwise fullness

Of a prematurely curtailed life.

The sonorous resonance of sadness

Reverberates off these walls

And the lone curtained window quavers

Always on the edge of a radial shatter.

This dream is the last 

Solace of all defeated souls,

Where there is a first realization,

Finally, once gone, of what

It means to be deeply missed.

But this was never a real place

Nor even a conceptual solace

Where fearful stowaways could

Surreptitiously hide, gravitating 

Toward the negative spaces

Behind curtains or lurking

Around corners just off stage.

Everyone sounds as sad 

As you used to feel.

And maybe that can be enough,

A small salvation, a final

Feeble attempt at self forgiveness

Which is the best heaven,

Given the circumstances, that

One can hope to get.

The other side of this choice 

Is a blank page on which

Everyone else gets to write

The story of your dumb, abbreviated days.

But you don’t get a pencil

And you’re not allowed to erase

Anything you don't like, because

Every heaven must have its own hell.

But the reality is here,

In a quiet room, the window 

Cracked to allow a breeze

Which carries the song

Of a fat speckled wood thrush

And that’s you at the desk, hunched 

Over piles of blank, loose leaf sheets 

And your corded veins are surging with life

And there’s so many words straining to be released 

And you write and you write

In such a mad rush the desk shakes 

And your hand starts to cramp

Until all the pages are filled

With an invisible ink

That only you can read  


Sunday, September 26, 2021



Everyone grows up in a cage.

Some are rather nice

And we think of it as a home.

Later on, you’re given a key

And are free to come and go,

Unaware of the invisible bars

That enclose you wherever you go.

Enclosed, you’ll raise a batch of your own.

Some, on the other hand, are broken, 

Become shabby and run down

Because there isn’t enough money

And it’s just you, the girls, and mom.

There aren’t any keys to this cage

For the latch has rusted closed.

You know you’re stuck here.

Everyone else knows too.

You’re like the tigers in the zoo,

Existing to be watched,

Inured to the gaze.

Some people try to leave 

But you can’t break free

From these kinds of cages.

No matter how much 

Your mind expands

You run out of space.

Your flesh just presses deeper

Against surprisingly resilient bars.

And your tongue can only taste

The icy metallic bitterness of rust.

This is the miraculous place

You grudgingly learn to trust 



 Poem #28

A poem is only truly itself

The moment you write it

Or the first time you read it 

And then it’s gone.

It’s just what you needed

But only for that one time.

Like the gasping breath that fills your lungs

The second you crest the surface

After being submerged too long.

But it’s also the one after that

And then the ones that follow

In sequentially declining amplitudes.

No one expects you to catch them all.

But the poems are always there,

Hiding nondescriptly in each moment,

Doggedly keeping you alive

Whether you notice them or not.


Thursday, September 23, 2021



Consider a world where love is a currency.  A means of exchange, to be traded for items or experiences of equivalent value. Or you could simply invest it in arcane financial instruments that earn interest and become a source of passive income.  Ten percent growth year after year without holding a door, remembering a date, tending to anyone ill. Without doing anything at all. A perpetually appreciating asset.  Plenty of people just hoard it.  Store it behind iron clad vaults of impenetrability.  Save it up for down turns, for hard times.  These are the people who never had much of it growing up.  They don’t ever want to feel that way again.  You can understand. So they write poems and watch Terrence Malick films alone. But time elapses and elapses and they start to realize they have so much buried inside and, at some point, have to spend some before they die.  All these Thanksgiving feasts that no one attends.  Such delicious food all gone to waste.  The lucky ones plow through it as fast as it comes in.  They believe it grows on trees. Every fall they dash through yards, joyously laughing, sweeping up piles and piles of yellow and green and purple and red, like so many drachmas and francs and yen.  


Tuesday, September 21, 2021



Is this glass bowl of cashews

A snack or just ambient scenery?

I never know what can be touched.

I have fine candles that have never been lit.

My favorite shoes are always racked and

My time here has become the joke

I’ve practiced telling so much

I no longer find it funny, myself.

But I’ve learned to tell it well

And that’s the difference

Between the seed and its shell

Between the silence and the sound,

The pause before everyone laughs.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021



After school I’d race home from the bus

Chuck my bag in the foyer and change.

Harass the ol' sisters a bit, grab a snack

And then I’d grab my old leather basketball,

One of the panels worn down 

To black rubber, and start to shoot.  

I’d shoot as long as I could,

Self retrieving shot after shot

Until mom came home and had to nap,

Until it became an effortless knowingness

The moment it left my chapped fingertips

Back-spinning through gray October sky

Cresting the front rim and cradling

For an instantaneous moment 

In a swaddle of stiff nylon before 

That sudden reverse churning deceleration

That snapped and echoed out as a whip-like swish

Of reproducible absolute attainment. 

That’s the best damn sound in the world, I tell my boy.

No it isn’t, he says.

Well, what is then?

It isn’t that Dad, he says.

He double dribbles and heaves

From his hip the way I used to.

Well you better find what is, son,

You better find out what is.


Monday, September 13, 2021


 Poem #27

Someone asked why.

It may have even been me.

Usually I assume this warrants

The scribbling of a few lines.

But maybe not this time.

You could turn everything off,

Put your pencils down and 

Look at your middle aged hands.

Rediscover old fading scars that

Once flashed bright red.

Pause at the top of a stairwell,

Grip the railings, lean forward

But don’t begin to go down.

Look how far you’ve come.

Think how thirsty you’ll be 

Waiting for next week’s rain.

I get asked a lot of things 

And poems like this are just replies,

Not answers or expiations.

You could always leave the page blank

With the sharp rebuke of silence.

Or you could try to speak. 

Some say Om,

Some say Amen.



Clouds of unknowing.

I prefer to whisper why.

I go to waterfalls

In the daytime

And write a few words 

And wonder why.


Sunday, September 12, 2021



What is the meaning of all this,

Why are we here.

Why am I here.

Let's get down to it.

It’s simpler than anyone thought.

It’s not an inscrutable game,

A cosmic battle for every last soul.

All you have to do is look.

Pay attention to everything that is.

The cobwebs in your closet

This spinning electric ceiling fan

The cool smoothness of clean bowls in the morning

Flowers wilting in Indian summer heat.

How could they exist without you?

Find an empty room, a vast fall field

Of long grasses and Queen Anne's lace.

Seek out the the abandoned places

Where things can only be as you see.  

It’s up to you to bring them all alive.

This is no time for dwelling on your silly life

And all the illusory railings in your mind.

It’s time to stop looking inside

The emptiness of imaginary boxes.

Name and catalog all the rest;

Mammals, bones, moods,

The varieties of rain and snowflakes and socks.

Even tears will wink with gratitude.

Here’s a marching row of dutiful ants

Black squirrels scratching up trees

Whisperings of September breezes.

Who but you is there to translate?

Your life is its own esoteric fluency.

Eventually you’ll find it---

Bold strategy or fate

Or blind stumbling luck.

You'll find it in the

Quiet dark places,

In the unmarked forests without paths.

It doesn't try to hide.

So don't give up

Keep going

Keep conjuring that world

And you’ll narrow it down

To a few things that you 

Can’t stop gazing at;

That girl you must love

The young boy you will guide.

They’ve been watching out for you 

This whole goddam time.

There’s your answer.

That’s why you’re here;

You’ve already been seen.


Saturday, September 11, 2021



Here we are again

On the cusp of this 

Melancholic season 

Of transient fullness.

Hustling, racing around,

Gathering our harvests

In bundles and bales,

Tallying a tenuous abundance

Before the first frosts.

Shipping it out, selling it off

Before it all just rots.

The cusp of anything good

Is a bittersweet celebration

Even my heart is swelling

Beyond its assigned cage 

As the temperature dips.

You sense it intuitively,

Reaching for your sweater

Before you even start to shiver.

Threads must unfurl

Seams must burst

Trees blooded with color

Have reached the inflection point

Before they themselves 

Must empty themselves, drip by drip,

Until knock-kneed and naked 

As saplings first sprung from earth.

I like watching them sway in the fierce,

Freshly awakened North wind.

Their roots must clutch at the soil

As they stand swaying

Amidst widening pools of maroon.


Monday, September 6, 2021



Since Pluto is no longer a planet

I’m worried about the implications

For people like me who

May no longer cut it.

Too small, too cold, too distant,

An irregularity of orbit

That brings me back round again

Ever too unpredictably.

Upon further review I may lack

The qualifying criteria for human-ness.

Crossed off all the lists for the crime

Of being insufficiently luminous.

Just a frozen rock hurtling through space,

Always on the fringe of the consensus grace.

I may try to tack toward the Sun soon

But who knows if that will even be enough

Yes, you still have Mars you still have your Moon

But the Moon will never love you back.


Saturday, September 4, 2021



I never really had any cool toys because we were poor.  Free lunch token poor.  Some years we got hand me downs from the Burgess boys for Christmas. A Simon Says, a talking robot that went silent by New Year's Day.   I always wanted those big Lego sets so I could make a Millenium Falcon or an X Wing fighter and put it on my desk.  Maybe a full-ass set of action figures instead of my one-armed Han Solo. But I’ve been a bucket of assorted Lincoln logs and random Lego pieces ever since.   Nothing but a mass of mismatched pieces. The instruction manuals were long tossed out with the Thursday trash.  Sure, there’s potential there.  But it takes a bit of effort and ingenuity.  Some people just have to work harder. Some have to earn even their smallest joys. But someone was always stepping on the pieces.  Mom screaming, plucking sharp plastics from her heels. It stops being fun when all you’ve made is just a mess.  So I drifted away from toys.  You have to.  Everything breaks.  You lose interest after a while no matter how much it first shines.  There’s better ways to occupy a mind, so I tell myself.  Now, I’d rather be the giant bucket, gathering up all the discarded flotsam of lonely children everywhere.  Somehow I’ll find them all and go door to door, asking if anyone would like to play, for old time’s sake, once again.