Tuesday, June 27, 2023


 Lady Macbeth

Just the day before 

He thanked me for saving 

His life

But that was before

He began to bleed again

And the finely crafted repairs

Began to leak again

And before I could begin

To try again

I thought to myself

    he spoke too soon

Afterwards, you take

Your sadness and regret

And you sit with it

As long as it takes 

And you’ll know enough 

Time has passed 

When you've cycled

Through the roles

Of judge, jury and executioner

Of the part of you

That has to die

So the rest can live.

This is when you must

Grab a shovel

And try to bury it,

All by yourself,

Under the yellow moon.

When it’s done

You have to stand

There and wait for the sun 

All that remains is an

Aching back and your 

Dirty blistered hands


Thursday, June 22, 2023


 Birds of Twilight

Evening birds convene in old trees, plotting crimes.

In the twilight I can never actually see them,

Squawking ominously behind bruised leaves,

Only their coming and going.

All we ever know are voices and tones

Mom and dad fighting late at night 

I never understood a word

Language beyond my grasp

Huddled on the last step of the staircase

Listening, beyond the clutch of their living room light 

The scariest time is just after dusk

When the birds go silent.

You can’t tell what they’re up to

If they’re even still there. 

Torn between an urge to keep quiet

So as not to disturb this tentative peace 

And a gnawing longing

To scream: please come back

The morning remains a source of great relief

To this day I wake daily at dawn.

Just to hear the trees singing


Sunday, June 18, 2023


 Satellite Radio

I listen to the satellite radio in the car

Can’t stand commercials 

The only problem is that the signal sometimes

just goes out. Those binary bits of songs riding along on quantum waves 

apparently need, at all times, a clean and unobstructed path

Occasionally it happens driving through a tunnel

or waiting to pay to exit a parking garage.

The station flatlines and everything goes silent

It always comes back but still…

I never get back the best parts

of the song I’ve missed 

Which hardly seems fair, given the costs.

Sometimes the signal goes out

several minutes after I’ve unroofed myself,

some sort of time delay built into the system

But it’s weird nonetheless

sitting in a parking lot wondering 

why the world has gone silent

Tinkering with knobs, then, oh yeah

the drive-thru when I was picking up lunch

the I-270 overpass a couple miles back

Usually it happens at the most inopportune time
Crescendoing into some rousing coda

like right when the Boss is about to yowl on

about the poets who've stopped writing

and are just standing back and letting it all be

or New Order misted by addled memory

going on about your blue eyes

your green eyes, your gray eyes

which, if you miss that, ruins the whole song,

as far as I’m concerned.

I feel the same way about my own

finicky signal beaming down

from a distant galaxy far far away where everything makes sense

and gravity is the wrong term for what actually keeps us grounded.

I’ll find myself standing in line at a gas station

wearing a sauce blotched t-shirt and designer jorts 

bearing a bag of pizza flavored Combos

and suddenly I just lose it

What am I holding?

Why am I here?

For whom am I waiting?

I don't know where I am on the spectrum

somewhere slower than infrared

but a twitch beyond the ultraviolet.

All I know is it doesn't take much to block it—

all those diaphanous marquees and canvas canopies 

I’ve walked beneath over the years 

Sometimes it’s an immediate shut-down

People walking with me when this happens

think, what happened to his music?

And there’s nothing I can say

but stand there in the silence 

waiting for them to catch the first 

riffs of another song somewhere down the lane.

But it often manifests itself years after

I’ve wandered under some looming blockade

Just today I was scratching my head

trying to recall whose wings

I once huddled under

that sad and rainy day long ago

when the tune cut out 

You wouldn’t know it even

if you thought you knew me but 

I’ve always been a closeted optimist

doggedly clinging to the hope

that all the songs I’ve ever loved

will someday come back



 The Secret

The secret to a good life is very difficult 

To convey in a conventional manner

One way of practicing

Is to try to learn to recognize

That you are in a dream

Without waking up 

To be able to say: This is a dream

While remaining steadfastly engaged

As a participant in this

Projection of your own mind

Thus, in some ways you are sleeping

Quite soundly while in others

You are fully engrossed and alive

If you can master this very difficult

And esoteric skill, many things

Will start to fall into place

You will begin to understand that

Someone is always sleeping and 

Someone is always awake

Every dream remembered becomes

A chapter in the story of a life. 

Every dream forgotten

Returns to the void

And waits 

In this way we are both the dreamer

And the dreamed.  

Neither of which is absolutely real

In the conventional sense 

And the secret is the thing that everyone already knows  



 Taylor Swift

At the Taylor Swift show in Pittsburgh

Most of the restrooms were reserved female

When I finally found a men’s room

It was near empty and very clean

As I pissed a pleasant tropical fragrance 

Wafted around me in heady swirls.

It struck me the pains we take to mitigate

The foul, the ugly, the reeking, the distasteful

My own piss, via complex chemical reactions

With the lime green slab at the base

Was creating a Costa Rican fauna

Of sweet citrusy florality 

It’s just piss, I thought

It’s just me and my own piss

I didn’t need this 

Funeral home perfumes, deodorants and antiperspirants

The way we dab our upper lips with tincture of benzoin

In the OR for cases of Fournier’s gangrene. 

Always sanitizing, erasing the olfactory evidences

Of waste and decay

Out of respect for the demands 

Of civilizational decor.

Just before we got into town

We stopped at a run down gas station

With piss spattered metal seats

And the agitating churn of my stream

Stirred up an ammoniac stench 

That watered my eyes.

A keen physician can sometimes 

Make a snap diagnosis bedside

Based solely on the smell of a patient’s urine.

Odors are difficult to catalog

The words only have meaning

After the experience, like love.

Juniper. Jasmine. Lavender.

Petrichor. The smell of raucous sex.

Such overlap with taste.

Put your nose in places it doesn’t belong

Now your tongue.

Next thing you know you’re a dad

Your kids are getting too old

Your daughter’s scent begins to hint at unfamiliar flowers

But you’ll get used to it.

Add it to the catalog

Call it: Blossoms of Pittsburgh

Once, I got written up by a nurse

Who saw me sniffing the effluent

In a patient’s drain bulb

She said it seemed “weird and pervy”

But she was young and hadn’t yet learned

The difference between sour and bitter

To my great relief

The fluid smelled like stone.  



 Father's Day

Looking through old pictures of my son

He looks sullen and snide, lip curled,

Eyes squinted like he’s aiming a dart

At everyone’s invisible bullseye

Look at that little asshole

People would say

Someone needs to wipe 

That smirk off his face

But I know the truth:

His little world riven in half,

Mom and dad nightly fighting

Always at one another’s throats

So we had to get our shit together,

Mom and dad, even the boy himself.

Now when he cracks a smile 

In pictures he means it

And so the cycle goes on

Boys grow into men

Sons become dads making

And breaking such fragile delicacies

Along the way.

Each little family doing their best

To expunge the anger and sorrow

They’ve inadvertently brought into the world 


Wednesday, June 7, 2023



The renowned poet sat on the veranda with his wife, entertaining another couple they’d known for years. He was in fine form this particular evening. Funny and humble.Careful not to dominate or overwhelm. A presence like the moon. The air was respectfully elegiac and, as long as the breeze kept its wits, not too chilly. His wife had just refilled his gin. Suddenly one came to him. He put down his glass. And then, with an abruptness that might strike the uninitiated as rude, he rose and quickly dashed into his study and proceeded to spend the next 25 minutes getting down what he could. Enough to make something of it later. When he returned he was met with reverent adoring eyes. As if they had witnessed a miracle. To have been present at ground zero of some great emergence. Oh stop all this nonsense, he said. You mustn’t think that way. You’ve got it all wrong. Think of it simply as watching a man take his medicine. Should I get all misty  eyed when Hank over there decides to throw back a couple viagras? It’s just medicine, he said, once the laughing died away.  AND YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE ME IF I DON'T TAKE MY MEDICINE, he roared. And everyone laughed and laughed. And the night continued on apace in good cheer and friendly bonhomie and the poet lingered on the veranda, always the last to leave, ever vigilant to guard the thing which, all too briefly, belonged solely to him. Later on, after another Bombay on the rocks, he took out the word “renowned”. 


Tuesday, June 6, 2023


 Write What You Know

Anytime you're stuck or sounding derivative that’s what they always say. Write what you know. For the longest time I ignored it. Deluded by the arrogance of the long overlooked. For fruitless years I wrote about rivers even though I’m clueless. Landlocked and sea sick. Hate to fish. All my rivers just wind and shimmer, wind and shimmer. Meanwhile I'm just using them to skip stones to the other side. Do you know how long it takes to really know if you know anything? I know a little bit, I suppose, but even knowledge is no guarantee. For instance: chess. I know some basic chess. But that doesn’t stop me from reckless gambits that end with a tale about a guy who keeps pleading king me king me king me with a big stupid grin on his face because he’s too smitten to realize he’s been playing the wrong game. How about surgery? I know more of that than most. I’ve done a few. But it never seems to translate into art. My Op Notes would make your eyes bleed. It comes out all wrong. He incised the fascia along its onion thin planes. He massaged the inside of her ribs with his gloved fingers. Just cringe. And bad. What do I really know? And how do I use that for the greater good?                                                                     Well, let’s break it down: Dogs are kind shepherds. Your very own kid can be the wolf. The longer your parents go on loving you with all their crazy hearts the harder it is to think you’ll ever understand them. If you hear a raccoon rustling around in your garbage can again don't put a cinder block on the lid in order to “teach it a lesson”. Because you’ll forget and one day the airborne toxic event odor will prompt dozens of phone calls from concerned neighbors to the police and you’ll be the one, head in a plume of flies, forking it out with a garden tool and flipping it into a pile of dead crispy leaves. I know that life is leaning toward a precipice without a guardrail. I know that trying to live without loving even a sliver of the world is a peculiar form of late Capitalist torture. Our very own thumbscrew. I know it all could have turned out much worse. I know that feeling lucky for all you have is one of the nicest forms of not being envious. I know that anger is someone’s loud and confident flipside to a silent unbeknownst shame. That home is what’s left after you’ve stripped away all the things you thought you needed. I know the difference between happy and happier. A fork and a pin. I can tell the liver from the spleen strictly by feel.