Saturday, January 29, 2022


 Poem #37

When I try to write a poem

It’s my way of telling

The world I love it here 

And I don't want to leave,

Not just yet.

It’s an apology of sorts

A confession to a faceless voice

Behind a red drape.

I know I’ve gone astray.

I never should have smashed

That monogrammed wine glass

Or ignored so many half moons 

Or cursed my life.

But the truth is

I really don't want to go.

I want to stay right here

With everyone I love

And all the things I pretend to know.


Monday, January 24, 2022


 Op Note XV

Before starting we reviewed the risks.  She had many questions.  What about this.  What about that.  We had discussed all this before.  That there could be bleeding that couldn’t be stopped.  That the wounds could get infected.  That she would have wounds.  That there would be marks on her flesh that you could never wash off.  That there could be pain.  The kind that lasted long enough to make you miss it when it finally went away.  None of that bothered her. She asked about feeling better.  But just better, not fully restored.  She didn't want to go back to the beginning.  She took pride in the things that were calloused and semi-broken.  She didn’t want a perfect stride. She had earned her aches and imperfections. She didn’t want a fresh start.  To begin again.  It was all too much pressure.  I couldn’t promise her that.  Once fixed, it’s easy to forget what was even damaged. It’s a form of self erasure. In the end we canceled the case.  We didn’t do anything at all.  There was too much risk.  


Saturday, January 22, 2022



Most of us are lucky to find

something precious. Everyone is

always searching even if they

don't admit it.  Everyone wants this.

That’s how love is.  

Some glow red and some come 

hidden in the core

of the darkest heart.

Some we thread with

chains and wear around

our necks. Protective talismans. 

Givers of powers unbeknownst.  

Some we only take out 

when we’re sad, when we can't 

exactly remember, or are afraid to forget.

Some we celebrate, some we pray 

to. Some are kissed. Some caressed.  

Some are perfect. Some seem far from here.

And some are home.  

All we know is we cannot live

without them. Mine— how it shined!

I held within my hand

for a brief time 

and then I gave it back.

Isn’t that what love is?  


Thursday, January 20, 2022


Gray Dawn

The hour before dawn 

Endures as the hour most

Dour for thoughts of self harm:

The wind weaving through leafless trees

The hollow roar of distant traffic.

Everything is spectral, shadowed

The dog a faint ghost

Raising a leg against a tree 

At the edge of the frozen yard.

All is best seen indirectly,

Sideways from the corner of your eye,

The ancient vision of the periphery.

A false hope remains that once

The trigger is pulled

Or the pills are swallowed

Or the cords of a rope are cinched

This blurry edged world

Will remain as it is; unlined, indistinct,

Known only by flashes of action

And you will be the sole witness

Of all that dares to move.

In this place there is none of the clarity 

Revealed by light of day

Nor the absolute faith 

Demanded of pitch darkness.

Just this desolate quiet disarming gray,

A thin tattered shawl 

You wrap around your shoulders

In the cold misty fog of morning.

It isn’t nearly warm enough

But it’s better than nothing   

Neither dark nor light

No sun nor moon

Nothing to be asserted

Nothing denied.  

No forever, no soon 

No sounds, no silences

A world that is both half true

And a series of justifiable lies  

The wind picks up again,

Trees tapping bony fingers

Against black glass

In distracted impatience. 

The sky is bruised an ecchymotic blue,

Injury welling to just below the surface

But no further.

The skin remains unbroken, 

A thwarted bleeding that smears 

Like a form trapped beneath the ice.

Distantly, the horizon begins to define 

Itself as a faint yellowing rind.

Such is the way the world heals,

Always from the edges  

In slow sighing deliberations.

Day comes.

Shadows retreat back into bodies.

Colors burst forth from the hollows.

Day comes as dawn:

The first song of the woodpeckers 

High up in dead trees.

The dog is licking at my fingers.

A motion is my own hand

Scratching at his scruff.

I’ve damaged the frosted grass 

In a trail of pressed craters,

Glazed blades straining to rise again.

Time is passing again,

Permitting sorrow to stretch

Itself into a thrumming joy

Before snapping right back again  

And the world is a space again

For the moon and the grass and the sun.

And work remains to be done

And so much work remains to be done  


Tuesday, January 18, 2022


 Poem #36

In the end, the poems were all bad

And the rain was no ablution

Even the holy waters were dirty.

Ultimately, thunder no longer frightened

And the lightning failed to awe

For I had lost everything I had.

I had lost everything I thought 

I had and what was left were

Just the poems that were all bad.

You try writing a good one, down

To your last few adjectives and nouns

Clonking around in a bag of bones

Without the fear of thunder 



 Modern Economy

People have figured out you

Can just take things

And no one will stop you

So they seize the spoils

With savage guile,

Work the angles,

Leverage inside knowledge

For hostile takeovers.

Add a dollop of venture capital

And pounce on a ground floor IPO.

Flip a distressed property

For a handsome profit,

For ever larger slices of pie

And then the whole pie, unsliced,

Leaving for the rest of us

Crusts fallen half eaten to the floor.

No one goes to jail  

Only winners left standing 

I miss a world where people

Left their doors unlocked at night

Hoping someone would 

Sneak in and steal their heart.

They’d surrender it willingly

And when it was gone

Mourn they couldn't give more.


Saturday, January 15, 2022



Here they come again, dump trucks

Full of steaming hot asphalt

Trundling around corners to patch

All the fatigue cracks stellating

Across the thawing ash-gray roads 

Of my half moon Midwestern town.

I hate the need to pave over such minor faults

It’s still safe. Drivable. Un-potholed. 

I like it shattered, patterned like crocodile 

Skins or the baked dry bed of the Nile.

Or a floor map of an undiscovered country

Deep in the heart of a dark continent 

Parceled by reasonable men into

Provinces, parishes, arrondissements.

I could spend hours gazing at maps

Marveling at how well it all fits 

Each shape specifically named, every

Odd polygon its own unique place 

I wanted to explore. But there they go,

Dumping piles of bitumen, rough men

Standing by with shovels, ready to spread,

Rollers lugubriously smoothing it all into

A black flatness like the corners of space

Devoid of stars or constellations.

No one can know where they are anymore.

Not that it matters, just gliding along

Mile after mile of gothic black

Ribbon, unspooling in funereal monotony.

But no one else seems to notice this

Deadening uniformity, cars rolling by as before

On roads now astonishingly flat

Like oceans viewed from the soar

Of an arctic tern untroubled 

By the absence of landmarks

It knows exactly where to go and why.  

And everyone else proceeds as before, 

And everyone else proceeds as before

Except for me, tethered

Once again to the side of the berm

Failing to take a single step forward,

Stuck staring at black voids, waiting

For shooting stars, comet tails,

Anything to suggest a connective 

Seam weaving it all together   


Wednesday, January 12, 2022


 Poem #35

It’s ok to write a poem 

That no one reads

That seems half finished

That doesn’t rhyme 

Or seem to go anywhere

Or reference anything sublime

It’s ok to crumple up the paper

And fish it out two days later

When you run out of fresh ideas

It’s ok to feel like you’re stuck

And put all your faith

In late night full moon luck

It’s forgivable to starve

After spending your last dime

On a leather bound notebook

It’s ok to write a poem

When you’re all out of words

And are forced to use “sparrow”

When you mean “love”

And “trial size dove bar”

When you mean “infinite sorrow”

It’s ok to throw it all away

And hope you’ll find

At least half again someday

It’s just words after all

It’s just your life

And when it ends

You’ll simply accept

Its finished incompleteness

And press send 



 Poem #34

This is the poem of my life

In it everything will be perfect

Nothing will flow

Not a word will rhyme

It will lack articulable meaning 

People will be so angry

Such words were inscribed

Others will laugh 

What the hell, they’ll ask

This sheet of white

Used to be so clean,

Who’s smudged it all up?

Shake their heads and walk away

For them, it’s a strange language

Or just a lousy translation

It’s not my fault though
They don't really see it 

Not the way I do

I find it beautiful 

My first goal

My truest laugh

My favorite song 

It’s not my fault at all

I didn’t even write it 

It was just the words

That were here all along 


Tuesday, January 4, 2022



Romance works at a distance

Opens a vortex with little resistance

The closer you get the more it thins

And narrows to a point like icicles

Straining to be launched,

Sharp enough to pierce a heart

But sensitive to the glare of the sun.

We see it dripping, dripping

And worry the tip will dull

Or worse, this frozen passion will melt.

Careless people reach for it here

And snap it off

But so cold and slippery

So easily dropped

A shattering of crystalline fragility.

I can be patient

For the sun works in mysteries.

I’ve chosen to stand beneath your eave

Eyes closed, mouth open, and waiting.

Such distance is dangerous,

Knowing any second you could

Release your grip and 

End it for the both of us.

But love is to trust the discerning sun

And the slow drip down to my tongue.

Love is to trust I won’t ever leave

No matter how long it takes

To catch your delicious fall,

Drop after drop after drop.




You can wipe that smirk off your face

I am not amused

There’s nothing you can do

To damage me anymore

I can’t be re-broken

My bones have all been shattered,

Plated and fused.  It’s too late.

Even my flesh has been thoroughly

Threshed, beaten and bruised.

There’s nothing you can do

That I haven’t already had done.

I’m scarred so thick

Everything you strike is numb.

More hide than skin

And don’t you dare try to be soft

Either, after all this time,

With your soothing words of flattery

Your small hands’ caress.  

It’s too late for all that, and cruel  

To attack with loving tenderness now.

I can’t feel even if it could get in.  


Sunday, January 2, 2022



I was a latchkey kid.

I was self reliant.

I wasn’t afraid of the emptiness of home.

We’d barge through the foyer shouting, bickering, 

Flip on the TV, fill the clock ticking silence with sound.

Noise as a way of forgetting you're alone.

I could do what I wanted

I liked being alone 

I could run and shout,

Boss my little sisters 

Pound the basketball against the cement,

Chuck a tennis ball against a cinder block wall 

That had a strike zone chalked in the middle,

At least until mom got home

And had to take her nap.

I preferred being alone.

I didn’t wear the key around my neck

Dangling from a red yarn necklace 

Like some scarlet letter of abandonment.

I stuck it bare under the front porch mat.

We were poor and unaccomplished and white.
Mom did her best.

She worked and went to school

And on Sundays made giant platters

Of food meant to last all week.

Ragu spaghetti, pots of powder mix chili, tuna casseroles

Tin bowls of raspberry jello, halibut stenciled with soft white bones

Frozen peas, tater tots, chalky lima beans.

A Lutheran pastor brought groceries once a month,

The one chance we had to eat the good stuff 

Like Pringles and Cheetos,

Like Frosted Flakes and Count Chocula 

Instead of the usual off-brand Cheerios

You had to scoop from a plastic bag.

I had a special token for school lunches

All through middle school.

Green for reduced, red for free.

I kept mine in my pocket until the last minute

So no one would see.

But the lunch lady always made me show 

When it was my turn to pay.

Later on, I packed my own lunch.

Ate salami with cheese

Enfolded in a slice of  wheat. 

A browning banana, a baggie of mini pretzels, 

An oatmeal cream pie smashed flat.

Counselors called me out of class

To discuss my adjustments

To living in a “broken home”.

But it wasn’t broken, I told them.

The walls were solid,

Our roof never leaked.

Winter air may have gusted through our windows 

But none of them were cracked.

Maybe they saw the fissures in me. 

We went to JC Penny in downtown Massillon every fall

For wool sweaters and corduroy pants.

My winter coat was a second hand Oakland Raiders job

That didn’t quite fit and smelled 

Like I’d been zipped inside an old church closet.

Sometimes we got hand me down 

Toys from the Burgess boys

(Friends of my moms before the divorce)

Who played hockey and baseball 

And had a pool in their backyard 

And all the things I ever wanted,

Like a cool mom who laughed a lot and swore 

And had snacks on plates waiting after school.

One Christmas I got Scott's

Old talking robot 

That I used to covet.

But I found I liked it better

When it wasn't my own. 

Other kids I knew had Intellivision or Atari,

Foosball, bumper pool,

Ping pong tables in the garage,

Weight sets in the basement,

Bedrooms walls laced with baseball pennants

Signed posters of Mike Eruzione

Model airplanes and action figures on shelves.

And cable TV with millions of channels.

I never had anyone over.

I didn’t want anyone to see my own bare walls 

The paucity of toys and gadgets

Or the TV set with the rabbit ears and broken dials,

The way I had to use pliers to change the channels.

When a pack of neighborhood boys rode by on bikes

I ran inside in case they thought of stopping 

And interrupting my secret solo games.
I hid and peered from behind the curtains

Until they turned the corner and were gone.

I was responsible.

I was in charge.

I yelled at my sisters

To finish their chores.  

When darkness fell

I turned the porch lights on

And locked all the doors.

I was the latchkey kid

Who grew up to be a latchkey man

Carrying around a ring of keys

That unlocked all the doors

To lonesome secret places

Sheltering all I came to love.