Wednesday, July 20, 2022


 Poem #43

A poem solves nothing

It leaves all the pieces on the floor

It ignores your questions

It always forgets to shut the door 

If you have a problem

You have come to the wrong place

The poem has zero tolerance 

For your existential crises

Even writing a poem is a trap

You think scribbling a few verses

Will unmask the hidden wonders

Of your fucked up universe?

But the poem laughs at your impertinence

It’s too busy running the numbers

Double checking the angles and testing 

Your tensile strength

The poem will drive you berserk

The poem will break you in half 

The poem is erasing solutions 

And the poem never shows its work




One day we realized we’d made something extraordinary

We made it together, without even trying

It shined so bright

It was our moon and our sun.

We thought we were doing something else

But that's ok

Sometimes it works out that way

But before too long we broke this

Beautiful thing into a million shimmering pieces 

No one person was solely to blame 

We didn't tend to it

We’d never been taught

All that’s left is an abstract residuum

Occupying this humming space between us

Which isn’t really a space

Any more than there is a difference

Between the river and the delta

This is why I like to watch the ocean

Beyond just the waves crashing—

Here on the beach I extend

All the way to the horizon

And then, over the edge, who knows?

Thinking of you on some opposite shore

Watching the same thing 

Waiting for our full moon

While our beautiful sun

Sinks into the line where it ends


Sunday, July 17, 2022



Writing is a thing 

To keep you alive

On a level with eating

And drinking and breathing.

Journaling as contributing

To proper bowel habits

Poems as supplemental vitamins

Long letters to lovers

As morning exercise 

Routines. I’m not necessarily

Talking only of staving off suicide

Although that certainly applies

It’s a different kind of death

The quiet one of every 

Day dying inside  



 Poem #42

Sometimes the poems just keep coming

Falling from the sky

Like April showers

You can either stand

In the garage and watch

(Which has its merits)

Or go outside and get wet

With all the trees and flowers 

Catch as many as you can

Like fireflies in the summer

Put them all in an aerated jar

So for a brief time

You can say these are all mine 

Just don't forget to free them

Before they all die



 Op Note XXVII

Excisional surgery is fairly simple. Quick case. Twilight anesthesia.  Clean, dry, well approximated.  For lumps and bumps. Unsightly bulges, infected cysts.  The things that don’t belong.  That I can’t live with anymore.  Always reaching around and rubbing it.  The dull ache in the middle of my back.  The seeping wound in the center of my chest.  Extirpate it.  Get rid of it.  The lump in your throat that no one else can see.  But I’m worried if I cut it out I won’t feel anymore.  That I’ll start to forget how it felt. That I won’t be able to speak. That I won't feel anything ever again.  Even the things that ache.




I have a hole in my heart that has a hole in itself

Buck shot straight through the chest

A broken heart heals; this is worse 

I keep pouring stuff in and pouring stuff in

But can’t find any relief

Everything leaks out

All that’s left is a piercing grief

I was once torn between two paths

Now I’m clean torn in half

Part of me staggers down a road 

I’ll have to learn to accept

While the other half wanders like a ghost

In the indigo shadows of a dark wood

Getting tangled in a life I won’t know

I hope to be whole again

But grief blurs the vision

Here I am, walking just fine on 

My own two feet, my own two legs

Pain doesn’t come from a phantom limb

It’s always been real

The ache is all mine

A certain kind of dreadful space

Opens up across time

That only grief can fill

As a proxy for what was lost

I had hoped that the ghost 

Would carry away the thing that hurts

But the ghost must carry its own

The road is long and hot

And the sultry sun beats down 

A blinding glare that stings the eyes 

Asphalt turning to dust

One day I’ll look up from the ground

And find my parched, sunburnt self

Stalled by a stream in a brambled wood 

This is my dream  

This is my life 

It just needs time 


Thursday, July 14, 2022


 The Dead Don't Dance

The old dead trees don’t move an inch

In the summer gusts

At most a doddering stiffness

The punch drunk stagger

Of an old prize fighter

While all that whirling curving sway

Of green limbered branches

Whooshing in the winds around them

The dead don't hear the music

Only the living can dance

Brushing the dust from the air 

In billows of undulating rhythm 

Only the black crows pay me a visit

Perched high up on skinny brittle limbs

Cawing back and forth like estranged sisters 

The song birds never alight here

Only scavengers allowed

Scanning the fields for carrion

Before launching their diving attacks

I pray for a storm

The violence of wind 

To snap my hollow trunk in half 


Monday, July 11, 2022



I think I’m pretty interesting

Someone worth getting to know

I’ll sit and hold your hand

I'll try not to let you down

I notice when you’re sad

I pay attention when you speak

I'm not exactly criminally underrated;

Maybe a blip just off the radar

More a flash in your peripheral vision

A rough draft version

Of an eventual revision

You might tape to the corner of your mirror

I have a few assets. 

I think I’m ok

I think I’m doing ok.  

I'm afraid to say it out loud

Someday I’ll ask you if it’s true

But I’d never insist

I’ll leave it here in a poem

Lest you think me a narcissist.  


Sunday, July 10, 2022



My plan if I ever got my hands on a lamp

Would be to ask last for three more wishes,

The classic cunning ploy of the rascal,

The dumb kid who doesn’t know anything

About love or loyalty or friendship,

Who'd say it with a conspiratorial smirk.

Of course the genie wouldn't dig it

A thousand years locked inside bronze

And some wiseass is gaming the system.

The disappointed disgust on his face would 

Dissuade anyone from taking advantage.

Probably just let him go, never see him again.

It’s another one of those gutting lessons of life:

Some people will offer you the world

Or at least everything they have to give 

And you’re the blind jackass to the core

Cynically calculating all the angles,

Always holding out for more.




My son asked me what heaven was like.

For his sake I hope there is one.

Not that I’m expecting to spend much time there

Nor do I think I would even want to.

I just need to know it exists

Somewhere up there beyond all this.

I’d be content to lie on my back

On uncut grass on a warm June day 

Bees buzzing in and out of the milkweed

Leaves politely applauding in the light breeze

Just gazing upon the blue expanse

Slashed with wisps of white clouds like terrible mustaches

Until I was able to suddenly see through 

The best that reality has to offer

And recognize there’s something even better—

A sanctuary for all I’ve loved and lost

With room for all the good and kind and soft

Hearted people of now, the past and all to come 

Doing whatever it is one does in heaven.

I don't think I belong there,

Not that a hell would have legitimate claim 

Either, but give me an afternoon like this

That’s all I would ask

A few hours spying on Paradise

Just to know it was there

So I could tell my boy.

That’d be enough, that would suffice  


Saturday, July 9, 2022


 Ghost Cave

My mouth is a cave where sounds won’t echo

Even the yelps and wails get muffled 

I’m just a hole in a stone wall

That only bores halfway through

Wandering down my dead end path where

Silence and darkness have shuffled

Won’t get you to the other side

There is no side. There isn’t a wall 

I am the ghost of absence

I’m what the universe points to

When it asks itself what it isn’t 

So it knows the extent of all that it is


Thursday, July 7, 2022



In college Teague told me

I had to get an identity

I was pissed

He’d seen right through me

That I was a fraud

An emulator

Devoid of substance

A clever fake 

So I went out and got one

More my style

A witch's concoction

Of weirdo loner intellect

But then that one

Got a little stale

So it had to go

I found another

Churned through 

A whole succession

Of ill-fitting personas

Recycled a few of the old

Meanwhile time passed

I did this and that

Made a family

Bought a house 

Figure I’ll run into 

Teague again someday

How could I forget that shit-eating face?

Sit down for a beer, get soused

Tell him I’m back to square one

No clue who I am

I hear you man, he’d say,

Sort of in the same place.

We’d part ways

A good firm shake 

And head home to the ones

Who could tell us what we’d become 


Tuesday, July 5, 2022


 Op Note XXVI

I like to think I’ve gotten better at this as time goes on.  Fifteen years a surgeon, you learn a few tricks.  Whip out a gallbladder lickety split. Slide smooth along the planes of action. Spot the hidden vessel before avulsion.  Some cases it’s almost elegant.  But never anything close to art.  The best we can get in this gig is mechanical, the cold uncanny beauty of something approximating a machine. Actual machines of course are never beautiful.  Awe inspiring, maybe. Useful. Precise. Remorseless.  A hint of indescribable dread. Dogged relentlessness. The perfect soldier, in other words.  Art is something else. Only we can do it. But once you strike those heights how do you match it?  Do it again, someone says.  Only “again” isn’t enough.  It has to be something else; higher, better, more extraordinary.  Imagine that, toiling away the rest of your life in the drudgery of mediocrity when only the sublime counts.  End up like Hemingway, never evolving beyond that perfect first chapter of A Farewell to Arms, the dust powdering the leaves of his trees, repeating himself in ever more derivative patterns, down-spiraling into self parody with a shotgun poised against his head.  Me, I could operate all day without a single glance toward posterity.  Line ‘em up. One after another. Fill up the foreseeable days. No one pays to watch. It’s the work of the preservationist.  Nothing destroyed, but not a single act of creation. No manuscripts to self loathingly burn. No canvases to smash. Just this: a morning clinic followed by an afternoon of bread and butter cases. Then, inevitably, ER add-ons that take me far into the night.  I’m not a machine but it's pretty damn close.


Sunday, July 3, 2022



Love is a porthole

In the giant iron box

We’ve all been born into 

First you find an embrasure

To see what everyone else sees:

This is a tree

That's a dish washer

There’s a squirrel

This, we call a street

All that above is blue

While below we deem green 

Millions of tiny gaps

In the firmament 

Of isolated lookingness

Gazing out on the world

Agreeing on a language

That is cold and precise 

While love is a less lonesome view

From a rip in the screen

Shared with someone like you

Where I can say

You know, the grass 

Today has a purplish hue

Dusted with splashes

Of blooming clover 

And you touch my hand

In a gesture of assent   

Which means:

Yes my love,

I see that too