Thursday, March 31, 2022


 Winter Breaks

I’m that scraggly tree over there

Looming over all the rest,

A wicker brush dusting

Off a film of ash

An arthritic claw 

Grasping at empty gray,

Ruing all the lovely things

No longer there to clutch  

I think I’m the one

Scratching at the sky 

Shaking my fist

In a shivering rage

But it’s just the March

Wind rushing in

To fill the void left

By a fleeing winter chill

That sways my trunk and limbs

And the saplings and hibiscuses 

And the reeds and grasses,

And all the world I’m standing in

So I'll give up the scratching

And imagine the winds as the work

Of shamans blowing into being 

One more fecund spring 


Wednesday, March 16, 2022


 Op Note XVII

She’s finally agreed to the operation.  The original plan was to remove a tumor, maybe her gallbladder, her spleen.  It was never quite clear.  She wasn't nervous at all.  She smiled and said thank you doctor. Do what you must. Someone would help her at last. She trusted us implicitly.  But instead of a tumor we took out an apple, a pear.  A glazed ham.  A slice of peach cobbler. We were ravenous and incurious. This is what we had come to do.  All those years of training.  It was delicious.  We fed like famished wolves.  We ought to have been more grateful for such unexpected bounty. She would feel so much better.  Afterward, in recovery, the patient smiled sleepily and said thank you doctor.  Someone had helped her at last. But no one heard her soft wan voice.  We had turned to see what was next.  Our stomachs were already beginning to growl.


Tuesday, March 15, 2022


 Verge of Spring

This feels like the verge of spring

Even though winter clings

With the last of its waning powers

Naked trees clutch 

At a dullard gray sky

With bony arthritic hands 

A random pile of dirty ice,

Last remnant of week ago snow,

Glaciers against a curb

If you look close

You can see white buds of cherry trees

And daffodil stems just piercing the soil

If you look closer

You can see an empty patch

Of grass that won’t ever grow back 



 Poem #39

Poems never asked to be here

They’re just like us

Products of some dumb young

American male writhing 
With the girl he thinks he loves

Or vice versa

But it never lasts, that feeling.

Something gets smashed

A final thrust, a shudder, a heaving silence 

There has to be something better

Parents move on to something else 

It’s the poems get left behind

Empty husks of words

Abandoned to dangerous vulnerability

Cute, but a lot of work

No one to tend to them 

To trim unwieldy nouns

From their chins

To swaddle stanzas

With loving precision.

They forget their own names 

But the good ones remain hopeful 

Of feeling full again

Once read again

And so they wait encased 

Between dusty covers

Of long forgotten books

For the right someone, 

In the proper frame of mind,

I'm hoping it could be you,

To grasp them by the spine

And read them straight through



 Poem #38

Time to write a lousy poem.

One that doesn’t work on any level

No flow, no rhyme

Spirals into a core of infinite complexity

A din of terrified cacophony

Guttural groans

From depths of hell

Primitive utterances

Nonsensical, sensical

Repetitive patterning 

Sing song, sing song

Tra la la la la, la la la la la la

A melody, a symphony

A smiling

Now laughing

Ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha 
Laughing with all the others.

Eyes gleaming

Faces loosening

Lips and tongue shaping 

Speaking, words, speaking

Words and then lines

Lilting along as rhymes

In ever accelerating cadences

Completely and wholly connecting

This will be the one I don’t show

To anyone else.

One just for me

Whenever I start to think

It's too all too much

Thank you very much

I've had just about enough

If it ever comes

to that, the hope is,

I wont have to read it alone


Tuesday, March 8, 2022



Where do the photons come from

When a match is lit?

I’d always assumed 

The light is just trapped,

Patiently waiting to be released.

But physicists assert that

Photons actually arise de novo,

Scratched into existence

Every time an electron falls

From a higher energy level

The steeper the fall

The brighter the flash of light

Which means they’re just an accounting trick

A rote tallying up of numbers  

To make two sides of an equation match 

A sunrise reduced to the ineluctability of math

Shooting stars as trailing digits after the decimal

The light of our bright shining world 

Nothing but a squaring of yearly ledgers

I still choose to believe

The light was always there

Surreptitiously hiding itself

In tips of red phosphorus

Just waiting to be struck


Sunday, March 6, 2022


 Letter To My Son, To Be Read When I'm Dead

I got mad watching you play soccer this morning.  You weren’t aggressive.  You didn’t hustle.  Seem to avoid contact.  Your heart wasn’t on fire.  When you were open and the boys didn’t feed you the ball you accepted it passively.  You didn’t fight.  Where was your rage? Why wasn’t your heart glowing like spilt lava all over the field? I know I’m exaggerating.  It wasn’t all bad.  I’m being unfair.  The second half was better. But by then I’d already soured.  When I played I was a tempest of rage.  I fought like a cornered animal. Everything dark and angry and suppressed came out then. The short jokes.  The missing dad. The broken home. The little scrapper. The pitch was the place where it could all burst forth. I didn’t have to accede to the puniness of existence. Every ball was mine, if I wanted it bad enough. All those yellow cards. The goals were an afterthought. 

I just don’t want to see you fail.  I found a way to not fail.  Try harder. Leave everything you have behind. Make your muscles and bones wail. Let the mind numb. The world won’t care one way or another.  The world shrugs with indifference to your fate.  And when you’ve given all you have, you will too. Failures will taste as sweet as champagne from trophies.  Or it won't matter how it tastes.  You just need something to drink. You’d lap from a puddle like a dog.  Because you’ve spent all you had.

But I’m just a dumb old man.  Empty words from a frustrated dad.. Take it for what it’s worth.  My way is not for you.  You do it different.  Better than me.  You played well that second half, I was too distracted to see.  Subtle touches.  My smooth, cool boy. The diagonal passes. The clever turn.  Two steps ahead of the flow.  You see the field in ways I never did.  I missed the beauty of the game being angry all the time.  All I saw was red.   With nothing but green opening up in front of me. 




What is the real

And what’s merely metaphor?

Everything is just a received signal

From something else, after all;

Olfactory, audible or visible.

Is the signal just a symbol

For something hard and unchangeable,

Imperceptible as itself, at best bridgeable

With words and conceits

Like a ghost that shows itself as a sheet?

Even the word metaphor is a metaphor.  

I’m proud of you, my son is a metaphor

On call again, working a double shift again 

Making good use of my talents and gifts  

Not wasting a watt of energy 

Grinning and bearing

Showing up on time

Having a nervous breakdown

Having a good cry

A bowl of vanilla ice cream,

June, summer evening, 1984, alone,

Watching the Celtics and Lakers.

These are all metaphors too

They don't have to be beautiful or clever.

Not even cute. 

They only have to be true.

Maybe metaphor is just the real

Blossoming into beautiful

Which would be nice but, see above, 

I just said it didn’t have to be.

Which is something I sometimes regret.

Try this:

Metaphor shares a soul with the real.

This metaphor, that metaphor

Two sides of the same coin

Flipping interminably through the air

Without ever actually landing.

Yeah, no. Good try,

But that’s not for me.

What about this one:

A metaphor is when the real

Reveals itself as something

We already know to be true,

When it bursts into being

When it becomes me and you.

Now we’re getting in too deep 

Trying to breathe in rarified air 

A metaphor of non duality 

Here’s one I kind of like:

Metaphors weave the new

Into a blanket of the already known

Like when two broken hearts

Inexplicably fall in love again

And huddle in its warmth

It’s nice, I'll admit, but not quite it.

One more attempt:

Metaphor is just the sound we make

When we want to hint

At all that cannot be said

If only we could 

Keep our mouths shut 

But we can’t keep 

Our mouths shut.

This is the metaphor of silence

Which means, I think, we're

Finally starting to get close 

Because metaphors never last,

Being of smoke and mirrors

Which are metaphors themselves.

A quiet empty church is a metaphor

A man hanging on a cross

Recitations with angels in the clouds 

A covenant branded in the tips of penises 

Metaphors of religion.

A religion, by the way, is a metaphor

For a good place to stop

Even though the road goes on and on

Mine is very simple

And requires no theology

No scripture no ritual

It isn’t really a religion

Barely even a metaphor at all

Let's call it an idiom

It goes like this:

We fall in love with the metaphors

And live with all that’s real


Thursday, March 3, 2022



The yard has been pointlessly mowed

The flower beds edged 

And the clippings all bagged

The empty sink gleams

Like polished aristocratic silver

And, once again, I have needlessly

Wiped the lint trap clean.

I can’t help it.

There is always something

To tidy up, to attend to.

You have to.

It’s the only way it makes sense.

Putting things back where they belong.

Everything changes

So fast. 

Something breaks. Another expires.

How can I expect to 

Organize the broken

Shards of my life

Into a tessellation

Of interlocking shapes 

If I can't even sweep

Up the smashed pieces

Of a dropped black glass?

The best I can do with these

Fragmented artifacts 

Is an unsightly mosaic

Of overlapping shapes and styles

Everything hinges on the layout

And the way the sunlight 

Catches the obsidian tiles 

Sometimes it catches them just right