A lot of poems here, many mercifully short.

Prokofiev violin concerto

The rain that washes down my face

and trickles down without a trace

Past quiet aquifers loose and dark

then rolls back in above my heart

Are like the drops that now and then

Are sure to fall from me again

Something from nothing...

St. Atheist created the world out of nothing

While God was busy polishing and buffing

the brains of those who took down his words

for the sheepish flock and trusting herd.

And nothing gets hurt until belief trumps fact,

then migrants die while the earth burns black

Snow Ash (no I don't smoke)

a long slow pull on a last cigarette

I watch the ash tip disintegrate and fall to the floor

and finish my drink

I save the planet by smoking inside

then head outside to the rising dark heat


Oh beautiful della nova

so positive and resplendent at birth

that parents fell back and stooped low

and shepherds drew close with their flocks

tendering lambs wool and sweet breath of grasses

that warmed the cold manger...


...for Ann in a parking lot

skys darkening and wet

puddles spread then are still

the hospital's nearby where her anesthetic wears off

until she’s ready to come home

how happy I’ll be when she and the raindrops return

Patricia at 80

Hail queen of heaven!

Ave regina caelorum!

We bend towards her and smile,

not to acknowledge how much we know of her,

but to watch and learn in the pauses between her words…

Subscription (server farm)

No ads but plenty of “sell.”

the relentless shove of the crowd

circling the drain of rising seas.

an abyss of fame and infamy

(barely one percent of its viewers are makers)

Utter anonymity for the billions of eyes red and rheumy

from endless trillions of synapses binding to pixels

likewise dissolved into grids of server farms

never to emerge or be searched for again.

8pm Invitation

Family Zoom meetings divide everyone in squares

in boxes two to a dozen

that turn into friendly conflagrations and a firehose of chatter

vying and then halting.

Panic set’s in as dead silence, unforced,stops .

Terrible webcam angles and awful lighting

Then silence relieved as a brave soul ventures forth

with a novel topic or the snow forecast in Buffalo.

until squares and filmstrips return and everyone says

“goodbye” and in single file press “End Meeting”

and the only thing missing is the warmth of hugs almost forgotten (uuuugggghhh)

now guaranteed within the pandemic.


the furnace in the basement cycles on cycles off

thousands of times during the months of cold,

warming then leaking to the outside air

until spring comes and the furnace takes a breather

it's practically alive in the basement, a noisy monster

battling the cold, saving us from nature, I worry for it's health...

The Christmas Tree

When I was eight years old, I watched my little brother Tommy, who was five at the time, unscrew a light from our Christmas tree and nearly electrocute himself. He suffered severe burns to his hands and I still remember his screams. Our family Doctor came to our house, and with my Mother at his side, cleaned and dressed poor Tommy’s hand. Then he gave all of the children lollipops and left.

I was given a yellow lollipop. I can still see it, with its white stick trapped alongside air bubbles in the candy. The candy was a way to distract us from our shock, to calm us down, and to make us feel better. Mom even got one. I remember her sitting on the piano bench, eyes lowered, and eating her candy.


Slow, quiet, sweet, different.

Rarely said a word in the un-peaceable kingdom of the classroom

A provocation to the vicious,

A gift to the hyenas

Did I stand up for her?

Fugue state…

Recently I visited Fabio's Hair Salon in Caledonia where I spent $500.00, plus tip, for the "new look" displayed in the picture above. It involved much snipping and combing executed by Fabio while a very loud mix tape of Bette Midler played in the background. Fabio decided on a "cinematic treatment," one in which I had no say per our signed agreement.

He proceeded to create a magnificent silvery wave of hair, cresting at the brow line, and breaking on the beach of my forehead far below. At this point, Fabio brought in "Ugo" of Ugo's Tattoo and Vape Shop next door, who designed and executed a "tat" of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, supine, in their famed lover's clinch in "From Here To Eternity." This was placed just below the above-mentioned wave.

My hair looked great at first, though my forehead hurt like hell. Unfortunately, a week later, my hair returned to looking as if I had cut it myself. And I had the feeling that people, strangers even, were looking at me oddly. So I went back to the Salon and.................it had vanished! In its place, there was, what looked to be, a long abandoned dog grooming business. In the window there were old Milk Bone ads from the fifties and a dusty urn with the name "Puddles" on it. A local policeman appeared out of the corner of my eye. I asked him where Fabio’s had gone. After removing his hand from his service revolver, he said there was no such business and that there had never been one!

A wave of nausea, (not unlike the wave in my now bad haircut), flooded over me. Inwardly I quaked. Outwardly I shook. After spending some time in the officer's squad car, with me in the back seat, he offered to drive me home. After trying three houses, a very nice person named Ann let me in. I sat at her kitchen table nodding my head, basically agreeing with everything she said. She seemed like a very nice person and I think she liked me. I tried to figure out how I could break the news that, coincidentally, I was married to another very nice woman named Ann too. She turned and said to me, "Do you mean the one who ran off with that Fabio?

Birth of Venus, (though robed)...

How thunderstruck you looked in your graduation dress

A child of Catholic justice posed at the head of the driveway

Eyes lowered, what an insult to your godliness

the downspout framing your youth.

What I would give to have taken that picture

Then taken the film to be taken to waiting...


Face bloodied by my Dad’s fist

My brother Joe sat laughing, very calm

The bigger hit came later

Forgiving everyone but himself.

Sopping up pain like water on sand

As my parents disappeared in the mist


First time

Then space. To think about what happened

The absolute surprise of perfect skin and cigarette breath

Unrepeatable in the Universe!

just me…

I like poems...as long as they are short.

Like commercials - 15 or 30 seconds, head to tail

Selling things that can’t be bought

And seeking things that can’t be sought.

Word Play

Jump, throw, catch, run

Leap, prance, twirl, fun!

Until you grow and put away

All that comes of words and play

Half Life

About a year had passed since I last saw her

Which was after she let me go,

A year of misery and the hole in my heart had not closed.

Then one afternoon

She called and invited me over

to the mess of her apartment.

Where we sat and talked until very late became very early.

I was cold sitting there. It was early fall and her windows were open

I remember shivering and shaking as the hours passed.

Trying to keep the cold, fear, and thrill hidden.

There was no heat in her apartment

Just her heat, like radiation decaying

Warming just one side and not the other

Finally, she asked me to stay with her…

And that was my life, that night.

And for two or three more nights she lingered

...Then goodbye again, another pink slip

NO! My farewell speech followed,

Nixonian in cast and timbre, (this was 1974!),

I think she cried a little

Though no doubt relieved when the door closed behind me.

Then two years of foundering in the lowlands

Lurching to and fro from ditch to ditch

Emerging changed but wrong and wronged

Cloud poem

If it so happens, this poem will flow from me

like ink from my yellow fountain pen

onto paper fresh and waiting for words.

a drip and a bobble here and there

that left unsmudged adds something real

to the proceedings…

Typed into the computer tomorrow morning

edited and made for better or worse

then off and up to a corporate cloud

mingling with commerce and apps of all sorts

A heaven for us of bits and bytes

That float around me everywhere.

Quis absolvum tuum

Late fall in my early twenties

walking with a shotgun in a farm field nearby

Freshly plowed under, each furrow a climb

the smell of the earth, the cool turning cold

fingers on the blue barrel unfired that day

Then seeing a cardinal, male and so red

catching my eye amidst yellows and browns

and the yellow blue sky behind it

dulling the red slightly, but still amazing

Taking off the safety, not aiming just pointing

I’ll make it a coin toss for the young red male

Now on a branch, red against blue

now like the sun in a spotlight

I pointed in the general direction

Vaguely, no intent to kill,

wondering what what would happen

if I pulled the trigger.

Goodnight Prayer

Sleep, pray to God tonight!

Please take me down under,

beneath the volcanoes

to the opposite equator,

then beat outward towards the poles,

...then to Las Vegas but with no sound

just a ball in a roulette wheel

circling slowly, opposite wakefulness

clicking past the numbers back to zero

the clicking fading in my ears

No stops along the way

and leaving all passengers behind,

giving way to water swirling faster and faster,


Until sweet nothing, non-anything, dreamless, weightless

I make my way to the time before existence

And if I make it that far, let me stay the night complete

and I promise I’ll fall back, and up to sunrise.

Poem for Ann & Tress…

Two high school girls one older, one younger

two soulmate friends, both beautiful stunners

two dollars to spend for a bus for uptown

to spend days together on Ontario beach sound

For they were best friends to the other’s true mind

four times at the most would they would argue, but find

fore and aft reasons to come to the commons

forswearing their struggles like two hindu girl brahmans

Ate lunch most days, chicken barbecue kept cold

ate sliced tomatoes their papas had growed

ate their ice cream they bought from a stand

eight times eight times wiped their face with their hands

Six o’clock comes and they take their last walk

six o’clock now is their time not to talk

six bits plus two of picked up beach treasures

six o’clock treasures to mark the day’s measure

six soulful thoughts from each self to the other

six thoughts into feelings of two friends for the other.

Raw power! (for Tom)

In the pool carefully watching my prey

Carefully plotting, then swiftly away!

Push off from the pool side I stealthily launch

I aim for the body, but settle for haunch.

Hundreds of times my brother I stalked.

He suffered raw power yet never once balked.

The water would foam like a chum line in churn,

my brother would thrash but never would learn

that Raw Power is higher than any high power

by the time you see it, it's your last, final hour.

Ship’s hold...

We moved a year and a half ago

Packed up and boxed the things of our house

Long days travelling from old place to new

moving our things how many times now?

five or six, and each time

less to pick up and more to leave behind --

though always the surge of adventure ahead

when starting fresh on a new chapter

Letting go of some things but always carrying our past with us

The old photos, yearbooks, and awards are tucked away

and cared for as on previous moves

Pristine like relics in amber boxes

But not opened and looked at since...forever

Now in the crawlspace this afternoon

shifting from box to box looking for odds and ends

and then lying on the cold slab going through boxes

and finding photos, some never seen,

or only forgotten, but still there!

A record, a tally, of our life in shoeboxes

and spiral albums…

Now in the crawlspace, or like in times past

below deck on a ship

moving to the new world.

A more perfect union...

A kiss is really something when you think about it:

(not the perfunctory or familial ones)

(and not the pecks or the ones that are blown),

But the ones that start like waves at the beach

coming in slowly sometimes,

sometimes crashing and flung together

a taste of salt and the smell so close,

of the ocean and sun seen through closed eyes

and by taste, senselessly surpassing itself

seeking the only real nourishment from here to eternity,

spark to flame then quenched by the wave pulled away in the tide.

False Somnambulance

I hope they never make the mistake

of closing the lid on my coldish pate

and mistaking a deathlike lethargy

for a month-long binge of network TV.

For I would prefer above ground or aerial

to the short, jolting ride down to premature burial!

It’s all good!!

I’m going to the morgue today

to be put, I believe, on layaway.

The ride, I must say, is very posh

by body-bag-man and driver Josh.

I wish I could thank him for his respectful bearing

and for understanding my rather impolite staring.

But I’m happy as I can possibly be,

and look forward to making new friends

at the cemetery!

Standing in a cornfield...

Pale yellow light warming the fading snow at half past four.

Turning greenish as it moves further west

until the day’s blue sky is replaced and re-dressed.

The trees, long stripped clean, lean back

resting upon the sky,

preparing for night as the deer begin to move,

their branches and twigs form a mesh of shadow,

more confounding than endless snowflakes

Rosie walks before me, nosing the corn stubble poking from the drifts

the sonar of a mouse below pings, then grows silent

She looks up at me head cocked, ear half flopped:

“you’re no help,” like I’m responsible!

I look back up, and like that, the afternoon has dimmed and drooped lower.

Then, the splinters of the dry brown tree line struck by the last sun of the day,

ignite into flickering candles.

Just enough time for a wish, then…sundown.

We start our walk home,

just as the snow begins again.

huge flakes this time, twirling and moving side to side. Barely falling - like undecided balloons.

I watch them descend, holding my breath

and hoping they won’t be swallowed up

in the already fallen snow.

Still there...still there... aaah...gone, like dutiful soldiers.

They seem to slow the earth’s turning

Their short lives meld, now underfoot,

into my own existence.

I let my wrist stop a few flakes,

Something that toll booth workers experience

with each transaction,

snow landing on an outstretched hand,

dutiful to the end.

A game now finished...

Rosie and I still take our walks,

near the cemetery's tree line

and withered corn stalks.

I still look to check that she hasn’t strayed far.

I still look to check there’s no dangerous cars

I still love to check if she’s located me

now hiding behind my favorite old tree.

And when she deduces that she’s been left

she’s not the only one who feels bereft

though fun for me I feel that pang

of the worry she feels when she’s lost her gang.

Suddenly it’s serious! I must be found!

She looks, not her strong point,

then nose to the ground.

She starts a grid search, about nine by nine;

at the same pay grade as a SWAT team canine!

Her feet moving quickly, short steps to the beat

I am barely suppressing a chuckle-burst bleat!

Back and forth in that square

sniffing for and about

she’s done this before

so she’s never in doubt.

I keep carefully peeking

but nose-down she can’t see

as her choo-choo train sniffer

keeps closing on me

Then suddenly I start as a gust of wind blows,

I waken again sadly to my walk without Rose

Yes, hide and seek was fun - as fun can ever be...

But she’s gone, so I keep walking

past my hide-and-seek tree.

Starving children in China...

I think I finally committed myself to painting

Not out of inspiration or any personal vanity,

but because I just impulsively ordered

Master Brush Cleaner on sale on Amazon.

A 24 oz container, enough for 10 lifetimes

of guilt if I don’t paint.

Guilt by association

Rosie ruffs and wuffs hardly ever

Very quiet, taciturn and self-possessed

A credit to her species

and to her owner.

Wake up and smell everything...

I wonder how it could ever be

that my dog Rosie knows more than me.

Like eating without a fork

(nothing to wash)

and sleeping like a log

(she doesn't stress out)

And happy each morning

(without a cup of coffee)

upon seeing me.

Beware the tickle monster

When Rosie wanted a rub

she would ask by rolling over on her back;

belly exposed, legs sagging like loose scissor blades.

How else would you ask for anything important

than to expose your entrails to a savage?

The risks you take to have your belly scratched.

The perfect and omniscient blind spot…

(note: I've changed my views on faith since I found Christ's teachings)

Proof of a loving God:

He lets us suffer, (even though his son suffered for us)

He gave us life; (even though we never asked)

He lets us blame ourselves; (since there’s plenty of sin to go around)

He lets us blame others; (your neighbor will do)

He blames everyone but the guilty party!

He lets us grow old and promises us heaven - someday

or hell sooner if he prefers, and for all eternity.

Eternal pain administered for our humanness and imperfections.

In your image, man from God.

Oh Lord, let me forget my troubles, my losses

my pain, my name,

but most of all, let me forget you.

Winter Idyll

The Dairy Queen Blizzard

like the current Arctic vortex,

swirls together snow, ice, salt, upon the Heath.

A twice-size straw sticks straight out of its cup

when it’s handed over the counter,

like a stop sign knocked over by a plow.

Sometimes a confident attendant will turn the cup upside down

a show piece challenging gravity - and a tease for what’s to come!

Then, the experience begins,

delivering with each slow pull

the sweetest of all opioids;

a crunchy hypothermic shutting down

of all dispensible mental and bodily functions.

Thinking, hearing, and to some extent vision

all fall away

Leaving only a gooey, judgement-free

fugue state of bliss.

Yellow against blue

Sunlight on snow turns the white into yellow,

easing thoughts late this day

of both Ann and her fellow.

They watch as the sun shovels shade to the side,

what was warming below,

what the snow tried to hide.

Then shadows dash blue as the sun drops down low

and he thinks of a canvas

where the shade sunlight mows

and trims the light short,

into to fingers that comb

his into hers as they make their way home

Restless thumb syndrome

My wife and I hold hands

while watching TV.

Sometimes my hands are cold and that bothers her.

Once that’s settled we continue our silent retreat

through hands linked and the movie we’re into.

And then it starts:

I don’t notice at first, but her thumb that I’m under

begins to exact a toll from the skin between my thumb and forefinger.

A rhythmic relentless rubbing,

arising from who knows where.

When I do notice, it’s too late

I officially upbraid her for the abradement she’s causing.

I try and tell her, “honey, this is how the Grand Canyon was formed.”

Sunday class

Sunday afternoon in painting class

dabs of paint on half a dozen palettes

face each other waiting to be dipped into,

ready for conversation with each other.

While members of the class get situated,

coffee, artistic exclamations and exhalations

of events since we last gathered are exchanged.

Then Professor White guides us into the day’s exercise: mixing paint and matching color swatches

he gathered from his trips to Lowes.

We fumble, I fumble, in this humble task of observation, throwing switches and watching colors light up when moved about,

then turned off or dimmed when moved another way.

Most astonishing are the subtle changes, shifts in tone, hue, and intensity.

The colors listen to each other

and are seen and heard.

no yelling or loud voices needed to make a point,

and cause and effect never more in play.

The head spins as we play this game of Go.

Color, the wonderland and the abyss, friend and foe.

Reflection upon viewing “Painter’s Diary”, an oil painting by G.P. Krag

Seated figure in a somewhere flat

(or maybe a ranch house’s square third bedroom)

Yellow lit room with its own atmosphere

and neither TV nor telephone one would presume.

Just a few books, prints, pens, and paper

and an open box waiting to be filled - or unpacked,

The figure sitting upon the bed

notes the day’s turnings, a summed up abstract.

On a mattress monastic and firmly for one

Head down, moving thoughts

to the paper’s white canvas

and his paint-covered knees, as if he had knelt

in a path of felt-color, and applied with a frankness

that caused his left to foot turn in on an angle,

to point like a hunter in the direction ahead,

following the path the writing is taking

invoking fresh dreams when he’s turned into bed.

Moon over Lawrenceville redux...

(with apologies to "Moon over Lawrenceville" written by Mark for our Yearbook in High School)

My best old friend, I’d have to say

lives two hundred and fifty-seven miles away

In the town of Ringoes, no relation to Johnny,

with his wife Maureen, and oh my is she bonny.

'Twas someone I never thought he’d get

It’s been fifty years on since I lost that bet!!

So Ringoes, New Jersey, the Garden State,

is where my own thoughts have returned of late.

I was raised near Mark, on Franklin Corner Road

Only two miles separated our ancestral abodes.

We were five years old when first we met

at St. Paul's Elementary, I’ll never forget.

In the school’s basement where we sang in a choir,

I clearly remember that my voice was much higher

than Mark’s; felt not heard, and almost subsonic

Like a frog's mating calls much in need of a tonic.

Try as he might he could not hit the high notes,

Sounding more like a foghorn

on a mayday struck boat.

Who was this boy so manly and deep?

was he atheistic or agnostic or just another sheep?

My own mind, so highly developed and scholarly,

“Genius,” I would say would conjure me properly.

But comparisons to Mark as my Mother oft-repeated

Stressed his neatness and hygiene

and his pants pressed and pleated.

Who could complete with this perfect Prince Royal?

For I was not a dandy, but a man of the soil.

Mom called me a caveman, Mark chortled with mirth,

I'm sure mother wished we’d been switched at birth!

But let me return from whence I digressed

of discussing his voice or how nicely he dressed.

Or my mother commending his neatly coiffed hair,

while I gnashed my teeth quietly

and appeared not to care.

Was he my wingman, or merely a rascal?

Was he Beaver, or Wally, or sly Eddie Haskell?

(Personally, I always felt Mrs. Cleaver was hot

though Mark favored Ginger, on Gilligan's yacht).

Yes Ginger, Raquel and Bardot were all known

To have inflammatory effects

on our raging hormones!

We struggled, we tried but it was no use,

Thank God we never gave way to chronic self-abuse!

With its concomitant risks of blindness,

we managed, through chastity,

to avoid carpal tunnel nerve damage.

(I now look at my clock)

...Oh look, the time has flown on-on and on by,

It’s February 16, and Mark’s birthday is nigh!

So I'll take up my pen in the future again,

to dissect the further issues of my very best friend.

For now, Mark, console yourself with thoughts of the past, my love to Maureen,

we are friends to the last!

Birthday poem for Mark (saith Mark, "nevermore")

Let it never be said you exaggerated your place

as representative nae + ultra of the rest of our race

But retain that gaze stoic, letting be what is set,

let bygones be bygones, and forgive and forget.

And say to yourself when your heart revs too high

"twas my youth leaping up when my love was the sky".

Seated, three quarter view…(on having my portrait painted by William White)

A life full of glancing to and fro

the painting above, the palette below.

Back arched and steady and ready to strike,

with picador brush and palette knife bright.

It’s late afternoon.

I’m look at a painting while looked at and painted,

in a room lit with its own atmosphere

and natural history--

snakes, cats and dogs

once watched fish tanks and each other

now gone, just wavy floors and the shade of an old indoor pergola like a landscape brought indoors giving way to new ones.

Headline News

Lightening with scumbels, and darkening with glazes

woods, moon, and figures, swim in tidal painting phases

Early on it looked good, now I back up and shudder;

can this mess be un-messed with more painting butter?

Too oily! I ready some newsprint for tonking,

to un-saturate this effort in danger of bonking.

And pulling off the paper oil-soaked from within,

I swap out out my poor painting for this Shroud of Turin!

Seen on Craigslist...

Dumbwaiter operator. (Charlotte area)

Job Description:

  • Must be able to fit in a 3x3’ Otis “Elite” along with materials to be transported.

  • Must be a self-starter and team player

  • Must have a functioning index finger, spatulate in shape preferred

  • College Degree preferred

  • NY State Drivers License

  • Live-in dumbwaiter residence is possible.

  • Meals provided (if leftovers are available)

  • Some light dishwashing (if leftovers are eaten)

  • Tips only

Love Poem

Will you let me paint you?

Is it OK that I look at you?

And notice everything about you?

The color of your skin and its smoothness?

The lines that draw down from the outside of your lips to your chin?

Like drawstrings on a purse from which all I ask is,

“A penny for your thoughts?”

Snow Day

When the snow comes,

it quiets down the neighborhood

and turns the lawns, driveways and street

from solid ground to a white lake

until the plows come and wrinkle the curbs

and barge through the roads now difficult to find.

Backup beeps waken me.

If not for them there are other clues:

the quiet muffles the white noise device,

the edge of the room-darkening shades glow.

Without looking out the bedroom window,

there’s no doubt it has snowed

I gather myself to shovel the driveway

and make myself useful.




Adj. To have, possess, or otherwise be inhabited by fear

A trait related to our fight or flight instinct.




Not a word, but suggestive of:

  1. Being in proximity to a state of fear (e.g. “The fearnearness closed in upon him like a sulfurous yellow-beige smog”)

  2. The fearnearnes through his clammy skin was palpable as he pressed against his partner.



  1. Noun. An unfortunate word whose dual meanings cancel each other out.

  2. A word more felt than understood

Here and now…(a poem that happens when I overstep my abilities)

Never-ending moment

the same moment everywhere

in all times and all places

for everyone and everything.

I am happy with things.

Whatever I could have changed but didn't

is behind me.

Whatever happens going forward

is also behind me, if I turn around.

The timeline of history is smooth...

History doesn't have peaks and valleys,

it barely exists…

existing in words which are not real,

and die on our lips

Forget meaning, just try to be happy, I tell myself.

Because there is no meaning, just a fresh kiss,

a well mixed color, or a walk at day’s end.


My mind is a sped up movie,

focusing, panning, tracking.

Dropping frames and lurching at times

like an old super 8 camera.

What has my life amounted to?

As much as the Mueller report?

The same as the moon landing?

And the loss of everyone who has ever lived.

The old films that crumble and fade

into digital memories

that are swallowed up in an exponential explosion

of souls seeking to be heard.

What has my life amounted to?

No more or less than anything else…

But to myself, yes.

Just what...

Just what do you mean with that sudden remark,

that hits the face like a raspberry tart?

Such disrespect and umbrage I poorly have taken

I should value your thoughts over stroking and faking

and thank the speaker honestly who so honestly bestowed

a path from the off ramp back onto the road.

Now is the time…

Finally, I am ready to be myself

forsaking all others,

to find a safe harbor, the only safe harbor.

Stooped down for a moment watching a tide pool,

each inbound wave ebbing fifty years ago...

I am ready to be myself when I am alone, inconsolable,

watching the sand wetting and covering my feet.

Where life began...

I like to write when there's nothing better to do.

Nothing on TV, nobody to call, no housework or projects.

I like to write best when all my work is done

and I still have energy left for play.

Sometimes a phrase enters my mind,

or a fragment of a sentence -

a baited hook worth a nibble.

I like to write when a wave rolls in that I try and catch, blinking the sea foam from my eyes

as I'm flung back to shore.

A wave carrying seaweed and fizzing bubbles

quickening into a run of word sounds

that come from me like nothing I could summon.

The wave and wind on my face,

I'm lifted from the water for a moment oh God!

Then over and down under the crashing water,

wave and wind on my face,

my swim trunks filled with sand.

That winning attitude...

So what if you missed the boat?

The boat you once sailed yourself as a child.

You pushed off from shore to see it float on ripples hypnotic to young eyes? Which vanishes into the mist of preparation for life that is to follow.

Fifty or sixty years later…

They wrap up cake in the shape of a swan,

Sharp and blinding in tin foil,

And present it to you as you walk out the door.

As a boy, you saw that swan rise from the reeds at the other end of the pond, Sunlight leaving a trail of sparkles from feathers shaking off and rising away.

Today’s cake swan won’t fit in a coat pocket,

and it might be seen if you throw it in the trash.

Now, looking back as you say your goodbyes.

You walk out of the brutal building

That should collapse from the accumulated misery

of its residents resigned to their lives;

not the path less taken but the rutted path endlessly trudged for whole lifetimes.

Tomorrow you wake up a free man.

But what's been won? Free leftovers?

Will the scraps that are left

be any better than missing a meeting?

Or waiting in a long lunch line?

And eating alone with a table of Androids

Or watching a clock run backwards for eight hours?

Or seeing the misery in the solitary cubicle

3 walls and a back facing out?

Hand to mouse, nose to grindstone

Sentenced to 30 or forty years

And thirty pounds at least of weight gain

The day of retirement the only goal,

and not dropping dead from stress or depression first. And then what?

At least a year to adjust, to begin healing, of casting about. Of staying up too, too late, of having trouble sleeping. Of outbursts for no reason and all of this just to wake up, to have to admit that all the striving and hustling were only ways to distract ourselves

from the Just Certainty that the great wave is coming to sweep away all of this nonsense.

And so it hits us all at once, just as we walk home with our swan cake.

The head that hurts…

The mind-body continuum exists.

I don’t know if I agree with that.

Or even understand what it means.

They seem like separate things to me.

I tap my arm and I feel it

but it doesn't look back at me

or say anything.

I feel the pressure of the tap

but only at arm’s length.

But a migraine - now we’re talking!

It hits me where I live.

My mind hurts, my thoughts hurt. I am hurt.

When I broke my elbow IT hurt!

But not like a headache, or possibly a heartache,

heartless though it be.

I’m really not sure anymore if the body is really connected to me, the me in my head I mean.

Maybe it’s just a life support system.

I feel a headache coming on...

I don’t know what it is…

I’m no different than anyone else.

I turned out exactly the way I am just because

there’s no other way it could have been.

Because I’m here exactly as you see me.

So that’s it and I'm proof of that.

Is the universe the same?

Dictated by cause effect?

Seems to me, looking back over 14 billion years,

it’s just the same as me looking back at me.

I spent my life making virtues of necessity,

or limitations as it were.

Making failings special, and so proving my virtue,

like a circle, a wheel, turning, lurching,

in the same direction, always back to the beginning.

Then another lap and another…

In my own eyes I’m a good person,

especially when I look in a mirror: eternal and immortal - still seeing what might be.

But what I see reflected back at me from the computer screen is different:

feeble pixels once bright and strong

then on, then off.

The Oxbow Incident (redux)

My throat is bothering me

as they place the noose properly.

So the thought arises

as my last sun rises:

is my throat a pre-existing condition,

exempting me from this disastrous perdition?

Thank you, really!

Don’t just say “thank you”

Or “I appreciate it”

Or, “I was thinking about you”

Or, “I love the film you made about me”

Or, “I wanted to call you, but…”

Why not keep quiet, and just show up?

or make the call first,

or make yourself useful,

or visit someone who's sick,

(but call ahead first).

And don’t just visit, bring some groceries!

or shovel the sidewalk,

or see what needs doing.

Like fixing the loose toilet seat

in every house you’ve ever been in.

They’re always loose, so down on your knees and make the fix, 3 quick turns of oversize wingnuts

and a sure touch-down to the bottoms

this seat will seat henceforth.

And then wash your hands of it.

And keeping your mouth shut, forsaking all attention,

from this day forth, for as long as you shall live:

High-ho Silver, Away!

Gold watch...

It’s complicated when you leave a place

where you worked for forty years,

that gave you a living but took away your life.

All the faking and posing and hiding and fawning,

so much effort needed not to be aware of it,

“it” being the skills needed to get through the workday.


And the thing most precious, to be alone,

but not depressed-lonely, empty perhaps, but OK so there’s time and space for reuniting

with the 1st person: wife, yes; but the “I” to.

“I like this.” “This smells good to me.”

“This feels good to touch.” Again:

“I like this” “The 400 Blows,” a movie.

“This smells good to me,”

the smell of ditto paper as a boy.

“This feels good to touch,” the smoothness of a chair seat I carved and burnished to glass.

Nobody else’s experience by my own.

How Great Thou Art

A poem to get the party going,

drink in one hand, I hand my phone to another,

a friend I don’t need a drink to hang with,

who sits and reads poems I keep on my phone.

She goes off, away from the party

and it seems she’s really engrossed.

She reads some that are funny,

some not so much…

The better ones link up the ordinary

with something more.

A few head up in a straight line,

and bloom in fireworks at their apogee,

then smoke and rain back to earth.

The heart that died…

it operates so quietly, for decades.

while it pumps we are.

unnoticed and alone soul provider.

knowing that everything relies on it

and that it relies on the rest of us.

As it pumps, so are thoughts move

slower, then fast depending on the load.

Complexity that somehow found its way into being. What tells it that it is essential? How did it ever find its way through us, to each and every artery and vein, and organ, and thus our spirit?

“Another world”

She did the laundry twice a day - at least!

from her twenties to her sixties, day in and out

Served breakfast lunch and dinner,

and cleaned up everything.

Endless trips up and down the basement stairs

to the laundry and quiet,

away from screaming children.

Sorting our clothes into colors and whites.

Maybe a friend will stop by later for tea.

Or she’ll watch “Days of our Lives”

while the kids are out playing.

Lonely and tired most of the time.

And used to crying alone.

Reconciling her faith

with her faltering swings of mood.

like the washer downstairs below her

going kawummph, kawummph, kawummph,

prodding the lump of kids’ clothing round and round.

Unbalanced now, like poor mother and all her catholic-raised kids.


The abyss of bliss

Where wrongs are oh so right

Where impulse gangways to the bottom,

Then sweetly satisfies itself

In the moment, and for a moment only

Ice cream, lips, and Amazon.

Ebb tide...

Hacking my way through my last painting

Fawning and faking and otherwise feigning

to know more than I know despite the years going

now finding that nowhere rises up in the gloaming like the hatchery fish a wiggling and wobbling

and juggling the ebb tide without any bobbling,

then make their way slowly to some distant glimpsed shore

that I now wait near like all others before...

The Argument Fades

He: Ok

Her: Alright

He: OK, alright

Her: OK alright already

He: OK,Ok

Both: Goodnight

Something from nothing...

St. Atheist created the world out of nothing

While God was busy polishing and buffing

the brains of those who took down his words

for the sheepish flock and trusting herd.

And nothing gets hurt until belief trumps fact,

then migrants die while the earth burns black

Prokofiev violin concerto

The rain that washes down my face

and trickles down without a trace

Past quiet aquifers loose and dark

To find a place in earth's warm heart

Are like the drops that now and then

Are sure to fall from me again

What will come…

What will come next?

After the billowing white snows of darkness,

then... nothing no-thing, not a thing.

A blank line in a closed book.

Till... I wake up again.

Possible? Unlikely? Or unknowable?

A million years could pass

as I move through changes of custody.

From the ground, to an oak grove,

to an acorn gathered by squirrels.

A passenger, swallowed, digested,

and passed like a chalice from life to life

hurtling through sleep and then... awake!

As if it were yesterday,

and nothing learned...

a million years forgotten.


Wanting all, you are all I want.

And your face angled towards mine but only I looking, with time to spend lingering on the line of your nose and her beautiful Lamb's ears soft as soft as soft...

Dimming of the day...

Sleep settles down on me

On a zephyr breeze that whispers in my ear,

For my body to relax, and to breathe slow and solemnly,

For my bed and blanket to support and warm me,

For the angels who come on shift like they do every night resting on the headboard, chins in hand and studying my brow, more like putti really, who deepen the silence and glow gently like the last moonlight at ebbtide

And a final whisper, "go mind and spirit and wake up to dream".

A meeting

Nocturne meet morning and be surprised.

the light has dissolved away your fears.

I awake as the artists painted picture fades, as the piano keys soften and go still.

I rise to meet the day, i lay down to meet the night. Each has its own time and place, the one fantastical and lit from below, the other a monument to industry and movement. Sharp-edged and lit brightly or dissolving in cloudy pearlessence.They react to each other and not always do they agree to agree.


(on a visit to the Urologist)

Unholy and unwelcome Cystoscopy be damned!

Please end the plague of the rubber-gloved hand!

Damn all thy practitioners!

and all thy adherents!

thou strikers and jabbers!

thou grabbers and stabbers!

'Twas ne’er greater torture in all the land

than this one that targets my sexual gland!

Hear my supplication

“both cease and desist!”

and find another way to determine that cyst!

and I will kiss the first researcher and call her a Venus

if her toil and research can spare my poor penis!