Monday, November 20, 2023



Christ can you come back every once in a while? Just to check in. No strings attached. You don’t have to bring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Not looking for a thousand years of drama and strife here. Just pop your head in and let us know everything is ok. The ol’ sacred texts could use some new material anyway. Updated for modern readers. Maybe graphic novel style:The Book of Midnight Pacers. I could be the hooded protagonist who conveys your prophecies via complicated anagrams. And no more miracles, please. People aren’t impressed by them anymore. We’ve seen insects walk on water. Coded patients raised from the dead. Even the Cubs won a World Series. Just come back and visit, old buddy. No expectations. Nothing fancy. Skip Rome. Keep a low profile. And if you do come, maybe give me a little heads up? I want to plan a celebration. Invite the aunts and uncles. Meet at Olive Garden Sunday at six. A single order of breadsticks is all you can eat. We’d feed multitudes.



Soft Rhyme

Violins are not woodwinds

No matter how much I would like 

Them to be for the soft rhyme.

And boys are not little men

No matter how much easier it would be

To give them the grown-up medicine




The one thing I miss about the pandemic

Was always wearing the mask.

Free range to talk to myself 

Without anyone seeing my lips moving. 

Don’t judge 

It’s none of your business. 

Just listen 

Sometimes an excited whisper

Often a boring low drone 

Mostly a dinner party overcompensation. 

The best way to become less self-

Conscious is to incessantly talk to yourself 

Out loud as much as you can.

Become the mad man muttering 

On the sidewalk that everyone

Crosses the street to avoid. 

We aren’t really crazy

Just a little less self aware.

Now that I have to keep those

Conversations to myself again

I experience a certain loss

Like abandonment as a child 

Before he understands

What it means to be lonely.

I’m an adult now 

Which means all that running 

Dialogue has to stay inside my head 

Which breaks the spell. 

It’s just me staring through ghosts.

I get excited for the drive home

He rides shotgun like it’s Saturday night 

Again and we talk the whole way like

Old pals from the neighborhood catching up.

Here we don’t need a mask. 

At red lights drivers in adjacent cars

Shake their heads and smile

Younger folks assume I’m on speaker phone.

The elderly guess I’m communing

With a dead dad, projecting on to me

Hopes for their own middle aged kids.

I may as well be

By then there’s no difference

I’ve forgotten it’s just me.


Tuesday, November 14, 2023


 George and Helen

Let’s wake up every morning and be someone else

I’ll name you and once you're comfortable

You can call me whatever you want 

Before sunset we burn our ID cards

Our portraits and family photos

Melt down our trophies and jewelries 

Eat every morsel of all our kids 

Spend the night 

Dancing drinking fucking

Like animals under the stars 

Fall asleep demented

It isn’t so bad

The next day we get to do it all over again 

“Good morning Jessica”

“Good morning Brad”




No, we’re not stardust

Don’t be so sentimental

Best to consider it debris

Scattered by a violent 

Primordial explosion,

Gunpowder residue, shrapnel

Cutting through space. 

Once, we didn’t need time.

There was nowhere to go

Nowhere else to be 

Only a singular awareness

Of wordless perfection.

But it wasn’t enough.

Look what we’ve done

Since— got all riled up

Spread out and then collided.

Now we hide in the undercarriages

Of strategically parked cars

Like ticking time bombs



 Kleck Blot

-after Justinus Kerner 

The cloudy indigo sky of the morning

Was a Rorschach blot demanding

Interpretation before I could

Start my hospital rounds

If you see a camel 

Wandering the shores of Lake Erie

It means you’re a psychopath

Just turn around and go back home 

If you perceive a zebra mounting your mother

From behind take a bow, doff your cap

It means your mind is half striped

Half strapped

As for those other clouds

Avert your eyes from the billowing

Dress that shows too much when 

You stare too long at the liquid sun

Call yourself from a burner phone

Ask to meet for lunch

And then ghost him 

Like the pathetic fool deserves

I’m just a surgeon, not a priest

The only religion I know is alone in the ICU

Watching a post op slowly swirl 

Around the edges of the drain

When the family comes in the morning

The intensivist and hospice nurse

Advise that they pull the plug

Which is the worst metaphor;

Uncle Hank isn’t just a toaster 

You can disconnect

When he catches on fire. 

These particular clouds are dark and inky

But nothing like storm clouds.

Dr. Kerner would draw faces on them

And turn them into clowns

Laughing down at me as I slotted my modest little car

In its tidy little space in the pared down doctor’s lot 

Of the perfectly redundant suburban hospital  

Where I show up every day to work.

One day Kerner conjured a sawmill 

From a particular lobular inkblot

Which is odd given the relative sharpness

Of the toothed circular blade 

And those perfect cornered planks.

But when you see death

Nothing ever appears

Straight again.

My clouds are much softer

Like velvet pillows for a coffin.

But first, a snack.

Bring me those pickled hearts

Floating in the mason jar

With the bulging lid.




No, you don’t get another shot

This is all there is

No mulligans, no second chances 

Wisdom is a curse wasted 

On an army 

Of gun-shy exhausteds



 Lawns of Autumn

We sweep the leaves

From our lawns

Like common trash

Heap them in brown piles

Next to garbage cans 

Down by the curb

After all they’ve done 

And still could do

By noon they’re gone 

All that’s left 

Is a pale yellow slash

Of asphyxic grass

When it snows 

We stay inside

Make love, drink wine

Swaddle our boys

As babies then send 

Them off to war


Tuesday, November 7, 2023



At this stage

We're breadcrumbs

Tracing a path

Through the forest

From wherever we are

Now back to a place 

Once called home

The birds are either

Not very hungry

Or all dead  

The witch is eating

Chicken cacciatore

And the dad 

Has sold his ax

To pay his child support.

We’re left wondering:

Is there any bread left

Or did he use the entire loaf?


Sunday, November 5, 2023



The trouble with growing up—

“becoming a man”

is realizing 

There was always a little boy

living inside you

But the second you see him

He dies

and you have to bury him. 

Which is why every new man  

has the same drawn     look

of someone just come coming 

from a funeral 




Loneliness is the anchor

Tethering me here

To these ravaged lands 

In the epoch

Of violent storms. 

One end of the braided rope

Follows the weight of the iron

To the bottom of a deep trench

While the other is attached to no boat.

Everything in between

Accelerates         like love 

And saws through my hands




Now I’m a lighthouse

With a burned out lamp

Watching ship after ship

Crash against my crags.

I have become kitsch

Intractably useless 

A prop for family vacation pics.

We’re only a few weeks from 

The first winter freeze 

When northern seas 

Can’t be sailed  

But that’s no solace.

I was meant to shine

So someone could find

The way to safe harbors.

No one has ever seen

My vast and wild interior

An undiscovered country

Of dark forests and fertile plains

Unfurling to distant mountains

Now no one will.

I face the water

With all that at my back.

Even I have failed

To fully explore my own lands