Tuesday, April 26, 2022


 Dead Spring

In my spring nothing grows

Leafless trees splay 

Across the sky 

As frazzle headed wicks 

Of burned down candles 

Too smoked to know they’re dead 

No grass needs mowed

No buds or blooms

It’s a season bereft of color—

At least of any that I can see.

I only know it’s spring

By the shift in the wind 

But no matter

Soon it will be sweltering summer

Everything moist and sticky

The drone of bees

And crabgrass and weeds

Everyone just gives up and sweats

Fanning themselves on screened porches 

Too languorous to utter a single word

I look forward to the fall,

A ferrous feuille morte explosion

Of amber saffron auburn—

I see every gash of gamboge 

I am awash again in vibrant color.


Sunday, April 24, 2022



Now is only for now

Not to be the fulcrum

Upon which your

Past pivots into future

Nor the portal through

Which the was

Becomes your will 

Just now

The vantage point

That conjures both 

Everything lost

And all that might be gained

Into a fleeting existence 



 Unexpected Moon

It’s March and I didn't expect

An early morning full moon

Hanging there fat and low

Just above the road 

A swirl of salmon coral

In the near expired night

An unripe peach or one

Of Jupiter’s smaller satellites

It’s easy to forget our moon

Never turns its back,

Steadfast though darkened by day 

The selfless sentry watching over us

Like a forgotten Prometheus 

Eternally pecked by scavengers

The overwhelmed parent

Who musters a smile

When her child

Does something banal

Its sad pocked face weeping mascara,

Reflecting whatever light it sees

Streaming over our shoulders

Showing us all the light we missed,

Sponging up whatever's left

Even catching a hint

Of what tomorrow brings



 Op Note XIX

That’s not the liver, I told the resident, and that’s not the spleen.  The resident squinted his eyes over his mask at me.  What do you mean, he queried.  It must be so.  Both anatomically and in the morphologic sense it appears we have happened upon structures highly suggestive of.  He was a high performer.  He knew his books cold.  I just laughed.  You’ve never been here before, have you?  Not like this. This is your first time. In here we are gods.  Here, things have no names.  There was a tight flurry of action and change on the screen.  Something amorphous and gray was free.  Then it was in a clear plastic bag leaving this place of order and form.  The bag dangled from a string that hung from my pinched thumb and forefinger.  It swayed back and forth like a hypnotist's charm.  The resident opened his eyes.  


Tuesday, April 19, 2022


 Burn Out

It's a gut punch, ER calling again

Can’t remember the last time

I wasn't in the hospital,

Twenty one days in a row 

Now, not sure, the suns and moons

Running together you stop caring

So much about yourself

About the day, the time 

And then everything else

Except for the task at hand;

An abscess to lance

A port to place

Left colon to mobilize 

The perfectly arrayed mesh

No before or after

Everything distilled down  

To the timeless immediacy 

Slicing my days

Into bracketed slivers

Incisions that only happen now.

There are unintended side effects 

Of course, emotional detachment

Disengagement, psychic injury 

But you can’t really feel it

When it's actually happening.

Like the wound that hurts worse 

When the lidocaine wears off  

Absence of pleasure

In the usual sense 

But it felt real, I felt alive,

Somehow, amid the numbed


And the world of things 

Remains as it is;

Faintly interesting, articulable 

But unreal, like a diorama

Of life behind bullet proof glass

Drained of color

Like a black and white

Sketch of people vaguely known.

I like it this way, sometimes,

Everything less complex.

I watch the world and think—

I could draw that, yes


Sunday, April 17, 2022


 Easter Poem

In his own particular heart

Gutei knew the fundamental

Meaning of Zen as a raised finger.

When his attendant attempted

To convey this idea to a pilgrim

Gutei sliced off the poor boy’s finger

And asked him the old question once again:

What is the meaning of Zen?

And when the boy spontaneously

Tried to raise his missing digit

He became truly enlightened.

This weekend, when we ask the meaning 

Of Easter we look to the cross

And see a man suffering for our sins 

But the meaning of the Christian

Koan is the emptiness of a tomb,

An abandoned shroud tossed

Haphazardly on a dusty slab,

A quaternion of soldiers sent 

To find the ravaged body

And a ragged group of blissful women 

Trying without success

To point in the direction

They believe He went.


Saturday, April 16, 2022


 Poem #40

As soon as I finish this poem

I’ll end it for good.

Bullet to the head

Swan dive off the overpass

Swallow a bottle of pills

Or inhale the sweet gas.

But first I have to put this to bed.

I’d even accept something 

A few slivers short of sublime.

But anytime I get close

It always seems 

To need one more line.



 Deep Dive

It’s possible to read too much

To dive too deep

Into impenetrable texts 

To attempt to wrap your mind

Too widely around 

A set of fundamental truths 

A certain breadth 

Of knowledge ruins things

You start to realize that 

The intricate architecture of snowflakes 

Can always be melted down 

Into shapeless blobs of rain

That a full moon

Is just a glimmer 

Of all the light

We nightly turn from

That the sky

Is not really blue

Just an illusion

Of photonic scattering

It’s easy to

Overthink it all.

One morning

I wake up

Convinced I’m no

Longer in love with you.

So I go back to basics—

A mute proto-human savage 

Alone on the savannah

Gazing at the stars,

Imagining omniscient gods 

Who aren't interested

In your dogma or faith,

Only an honest wonder 


Tuesday, April 12, 2022



Lately, I’ve been 

Noticing birds of prey

Slow-circling confidently 

High above but not high

Enough to relieve the uneasy

Sense of impending attack

Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks 

Soaring over us all

Like silent watchful drones 

Against a deep blue void.

Squirrels aren’t the only

Ones to be alarmed 

A gentle reminder, every time

You espy a hunter,

There’s something else below— 

Small, fearful, desperately alive—

Scuttling through long grasses

Frisked by winged shadows.




I like to think I was good once

Long before I began to fall.

I like to imagine that raindrops

Begin as beautiful crystalline 

Snowflakes only to melt 

Into unlovely wet blobs

Just like all the others, caught

In a long unstoppable fall

It’s a shame that such beauty

Begins in cold stillness

Beyond the reach of eyes,

That our intricate design

Must lose its original form.

But such is the price of a life,

Of hurtling down to earth.

I’m older now and 

Nearing terminal velocity.

I was beautiful once.

I used to shimmer in the sun.

But now the earth is parched

And all the children thirsty.


Monday, April 4, 2022


 Op Note XVIII

Our expectations were guarded.  Two months of pain and nausea and malaise. Weight loss. A failure to thrive. Suspicious findings on CT scan.  Her daughter said that ever since her husband died, she’d been writing him letters.  No one knew where she kept them.  One night, while her mom was writing, she brought her a cup of tea.  As she placed it on the table she saw over her shoulder a snatch of what she had written:  I think I am dying.  My love, I will see you soon.  We offered to explore her, hoping for the best.  She had been suffering so and was in such great pain.  Yes you may, she said.  Her wan smile was both sad and unspeakably tranquil.  We found everything inside.  Because of the tumor there wasn’t much space.  Reams of paper rolled tightly into scrolls, tucked into every last crevice.  She had been efficient.  It was all here in a slanting low script. References to things only they knew. Secret places. Pet names. Amethysts.  Frozen piers. Chicago in the driving rain.. Lost kittens. Concert tickets. Broken down cars. Missed flights. Silly glasses. Long denied admissions. Wild hair slowly drying after a shower. Apologies. Affirmations. Whispering, this is making love. Wednesday night slow dances. Page after page of a single shared life. Such harrowing, heart-stabbing joy. Hidden in the gaps between the living and this deathly infiltration. There is a temptation to take.  To save for those who remain.  But we left it all where it belonged. She had already lost so much weight. I took one last look before closing.  A daughter was in the waiting room.  And then I went to bear witness to all that I had seen.