Selected Poems

Selected Poems

After the Ice-Storm
A Human Chain
A New Day
Angels of Death
Another Old Photo
Alberta Clipper
Back Home
Bargain Buddha
Beneath the Blue Blood Moon
Black Flies
Black Milk
Blood Curtains
Break Out
Brute Force
Cape May Storm
Carnival Rail
Cave of the Spirits
Cold Oceans
Dark Star
Deep Moorings
Dream Home
Driving North
Early Thaw
Electric Sunshine
Family Funeral
Final Question
Flood Tide
Fly Fishing in the Rain
For The Living Dead
Free Beach
Fresh Red
From Mirror To You
Hard Edges
Hearts of Light
Haunted Windows
Heat Wave
High School Reunion
Hunger Everywhere
Ice Feathers
In Another Time
In House
In Our Eyes
In Space
Intensities In Ten Cities
In The Wake
In Tree Light
Japanese Bones
Leelanau Fire
Light Chop
Little Doll
Lonely Planets
Love Gloves
Love Match
Lunar Fog
Monkey Time
Morning News
My Father’s Job
Nature Preserve
No Cover
No Fear
November Nights
November Song
On The Road
Open Season
Origins of Alchemy
Our House
Paradox Of Intersections
Sea Change
Search & Rescue
Shooting Lessons
Sky World
Sound Off
Spring Dawn
Staircase of Smoke
Standing Room Only
Still Here
Storm Flowers
Summer Storm
Summertime Blues
That’s Entertainment
The Broken Lock
The Circle Expands
The Climb
The Clown Choir
The Cold
The Dark Roofs
The Dead
The Drunken Boat
The Forest
The History of the Birth of Memory
The Light
The Mist
The Moment
The Mutants
The Price
The Run
The Search
The Secret
The Song
The Storm
The Sun-Dance People
The Terms
The Trap
The Vampires
The Weight
The White Trees
The Wind
The Word
Traveling Music
What To Do Next
Wilderness Survival
Wild Strawberries


After the Ice-Storm
We walked among the pines in back,
Accompanied by clack & click of branches.
Some boughs broke & took others down
To a frozen floor, to skid across
A crust of hard snow,
Like sleds that are out of control,
Stuck on GO, no hope, & ‘No more slack.”
We mounted wooden ladders, then,
With worn-out hatchets & a broken broom,
To break off backed-up roof-ice,
It gave us bad leaks & went inside our walls,
While all night long I heard it drip,
While waiting for day-break & still more work
On the weary roof that sheltered our sleep.
So now, we wait, protected & safe,
Until another bough may break.
a mad anarchist
threw a bomb into a crowd
he then ran away
to a safehouse     in the town
where his evil dreams     were born
three wild crocodiles
tore     at a piece of chicken
in furious rage
the water churned skyward
moments later     a still lake
a cop was in shock
after being beaten up
by a kung-fu boy
he never knew     what hit him
after the boy     flashed that grin
A Human Chain
A farmer from Georgia & his wife
were on the beach at Panama City,
celebrating their anniversary,
when they saw a group gathering
on the sand beside the pier,
pointing wildly out to sea.
They thought maybe it was a shark
so they ran to join the crowd.
Ten people were caught in a bad rip-tide
& barely staying above the water.
It was a whole family
there for a family reunion.
He recalled how ants form a chain
to rescue one of their own from trouble.
“Let’s form a human chain!” he yelled.
Four people joined them
to wade out hand-in-hand
into the scary waves.
But they couldn’t get to them.
Two small children slipped underwater.
They shouted for others to join them.
Many people were afraid that day
that the relentless rip-tide
would incarcerate them too.
At first, there was silence on the beach,
but then two brothers from Bolivia
rose together to their feet
& seventeen other people
grasped each other’s hands
& waded far out into the ocean.
One-by-one they passed ten people back
to the relative safety of the sand.
Like ants, they had touched
that place deep inside
where each of us begins & ends.
A New Day
Wake up, light up
Turn on the tube
To check the news
But we really care
About the weather
& wonder how long
Indian Summer will last
Or whether it might rain
Because we all love
A sunny day
When everything seems possible
In those marginal moments
Before the airing of the initial grievances
Angels Of Death
Back when I was a social worker
for developmentally disabled children,
it was not uncommon to lose a child,
often one whom I’d worked with for years.
They were children who breathed
through tubes, who ate through tubes.
Some could neither hear nor see.
Some were bright but confined by their bodies.
Some had normal bodies with mental prison cells.
Their life spans were usually short.
As workers, we used gallows humor
to deal with harsh realities.
It gave us some temporary relief.
A worker whom everybody loved,
sweet and cheerful, a beautiful woman
who never joined in the sick joking
had a long streak of infant deaths
on her overloaded caseload.
So, we called her the Angel Of Death.
The teasing went on for several weeks.
She put up a good show at first,
but then another child on her load died.
After that, she didn’t come in for a week.
Then, she quit and moved to Minnesota
to become the manager of a Hallmark shop.
Children continued to die off all our caseloads.
After the fourth year, I couldn’t handle it.
I would burst into tears at funerals,
sometimes using a whole box of tissues.
I finally fell away, imaginary wings broken.
Another Old Photo
In the old photo my parents are still young.
I am cradled in my father’s arms.
We are all smiling because I’ve been born.
Our first little cottage is behind us.
Its tar shingles & open rafters are gone now,
replaced by a Marathon Mini-Mart.
My mother is small & happy in a plaid skirt.
My father is tall in cuffed dungarees.
I wear a diaper, a knit hat & booties.
Mother has long black hair down to her waist.
Father has black hair, slicked & parted.
I am bald, both yesterday & today.
Now I am old, & they are both deceased
except in this snapshot, stolen from the past.
No sign here of the tragedies yet to come,
the births & deaths, the divorce
of my parents, our little family gone
like a glimpse of an elusive Red Fox.
No indication of future diseases,
promises, send-offs or receptions.
Nothing is predicted or foreshadowed here
in this yellowed print of three strangers,
a photographic monument to potential,
no blood on our hands yet, just mercy & hope.
Alberta Clipper
I wake to a white blizzard
blowing down from Canada.
My canine companion
wants me to stay in bed,
but the porch geraniums
want their curtains open
so they can bask in the light.
The weather-woman predicts
that lake-effect wind & snow
will accumulate all day.
The dog already knows.
She will be lazy & sweet
on my lap or at my feet,
so I won’t get a walk
unless I go by myself.
I know & accept the drill:
Michigan, mid-December.
We do it every year.
We dress in thick layers,
cling together for warmth,
long to see the nearest star.
Back Home

Winter is here.
The air is chilly & crisp.
Field mice have moved inside.
Many thoughts crowd my mind
& grief clouds my heart.
Many songs press for words,
But who will sing them?
The morning wind invades my shirt.
The light of the moon dissipates,
& the sirens moan
As I fly myself back home.
Bargain Buddha
My mother bought it on sale
at a dirty discount store
when I was eleven years old.
It was shaped like a big one in Kyoto,
but ours was painted a gaudy red
with random specks of gold.
Our Buddha was two feet tall.
It was made of plaster instead of stone.
It began as a Buddha in bad taste,
but Mother spray-painted it flat black,
& it looked better with makeup.
Many years later, it sits in meditation
on the mantle of my fake fireplace,
its cheap red flesh thinly concealed.
Now it reminds me to let small shit slide,
to be humble & kind, & to look beneath
the superficial surface of the world.
Beneath the Blue Blood Moon
The blue blood moon shoots a lewd mood.
Meals on wheels repeal ideal deals.
Nine months later, we have a baby boom.
Hormones ebb & flow in tide zones.
An orangutan delivers a State of the Union speech
to an audience of baboons, monkeys & apes.
Politics notwithstanding, it’s almost tulip time.
I like it when they uproot & dance in the moonlight.
The hills are alive with the sound of Muzak
because the elevators are contagious.
Epidemics of despair infect the zeitgeist.
Vaccinations of courage are only 30% effective.
An arrow has an arc, just like a life.
A dull knife doesn’t slice so nice.
Black Flies
In the north woods, the black flies are as constant &
insidious as time.  They circle persistently at high
speed around your head until your attention is
distracted, then they dive in for a mouthful of your
temporal flesh.  Only wind & rain bring transitory
relief from their eternal onslaught.
Satin razors bake in open shells.
Maniacs seek degrees in Law.
Butchers cut up teenage girls
Shot during season by professionals.
The eyes of Michelangelo’s “PIETA” crack,
& blue snakes flood the Vatican chambers.
Women give birth to mortar-shells.
Men marry their dogs & cats.
Diamonds gleam from the President’s mouth.
Chains of dead birds surround Washington  D.C.
Rabid apples circle the Lincoln Memorial.
Shiny purple purses float above the churches.
Yellow fishes ooze from a crack in the moon.
Black leather flowers grow from a hospital bed.
Burning oysters writhe deliciously
In moist brown flames.
Priests turn xray eyes
On congregations of wooden legs.

Fathers penetrate their daughters with frozen darts.
Mothers smother their sons with hand-sewn lilies.
A virgin turns on her radio
& raspberries pop from the speakers.
A man begins his long descent into the earth
Carrying only a gun, an old anchor, & an umbrella.
A flag courts a fire-engine,
& wins her hand in a heavy wave.
Cookies leap from their jars.
Tuna-fish sandwiches bare their teeth.
If a man drinks milk that is black,
He will turn into a stringless kite.
Long shadows haunt the silent hillside.
Sleeping buildings & statues suddenly awaken.
Two people approach each other,
& their shadows melt into one.
The hillside shivers in its sleep,
& the sky snores deep basso harmonies.
Behind the tall blue curtains
The dead are rehearsing your dreams.
A slow train starts up the hillside,
& suddenly the shadows reverse themselves.
The captive heart beneath the dirt
Strains in its anguish.
Deep in the middle of the mountain
A bird is waiting.
The trees lift their hands to the dying sun,
Roots reaching inward, toward the bird.
Snow hides the black surface,
& blinds the frozen leaves.

Finally, the frozen planet cracks from the sound
Of the plaintive voice escaping from within.
You walk along the shore & see
A grape lying next to a dead bird.
An old stuffed chair is moving towards us.
The melody of the waves beckons.
The empty street is suddenly full of people.
A building changes shape.  Another.
A hand, then an arm, breaks the surface
Of the ground.  Reaches toward you.
You grasp the arm, & pull:
As you clear the ground you gasp for air.
Break Out
Passing everything at snail’s pace,
no roadblocks can slow us down.
Even though we have no destination
we’re running on pure adrenaline.
Inside every heart is a tiny suitcase.
Inside the suitcase, musical scales.
Telescopic microorganisms contort
in disproportionate macrospasms,
their ecstatic mutations subsonic.
Masochists pass out mass market snacks.
Some of us send them back,
preferring a different attack.
Anchor chain reactions hold us
to the bottom, drowning in debt.
A giant piñata hangs over our heads.
Once burst, its contents surprise us.
Ironic ironing-boards dictate
that flat compliments all fabric.
Brute Force
Archcriminals take great selfies
in the midst of routine violent offenses.
A hologram confronts an ex-Ray
who changed his name to Prometheus.
Another round of home fries.
No place to call a snow cone.
You have to go out but
you don’t have to come back.
We burn up the frequent flyer miles.
Supernovae set our stages on fire.
We need plenty of nutritious snacks
to keep burning, metabolizing calories.
The brutes still charge brutally, all fired up.
Here’s to a high tech Valentine’s Day!
He wore a black leather jacket, boots
with cuban heels, a greasy
duck’s-ass haircut swept way up, & a nasty
sneer on his cruel pimpled face.  He was
the youngest of four brothers.  They were
all bullies. Their father was a surly
man with thick brows who looked
like a mobster.  My bully had two years
& sixty pounds on me.  We had
the same first name. Once I saw him
beat a small child with a 2″ x 4.”  He would
slug you without any warning.  He hated me &
I feared him.  If he saw me on the
street he’d hit, push or threaten me until
he tired of it.  I kept a wary eye out
for him & developed many creative
alternative routes.  The terror went on for
three long years.  One Spring day I rode
my bike down the sidewalk.  He was walking
toward me.  I speeded up & I hit him
hard, & he fell over a hedge.  Then I
picked the bike up over my head & I
threw it on him before he could get up.
I saw his face in tears & years of
fear disappeared. He never bullied me
again. We had too much in common.
Cape May Storm
Winds burn up the sea,
Lifting curtains from the surface
& slamming them
Across the wood shingled houses,
Growths on the arm of the cape.
Storm doors whip loose,
& patches of shingles
Are ripped off & thrown aloft.
They find slivers & pieces
Of their neighbor’s roofs
When they hoe their gardens
In the inevitable spring.
Driving easterlies
Throw glassy spears,
Soaking gray, weathered shingles,
Until one side of each house
Is drenched to black.
The roof-ridges swell,
Then later
Shrink & settle, deformed.
When the soaked house
Dries in the sun,
Clouds of steam rise up,
& naive strangers alert the firehouse.
Admit defeat, ant, bear, tiger,
Liar!  You occupy your winter
Chair, boots on, coat fastened like a
Frozen oarlock!
Many song to orange touch,
We stand among the pyramids of
December, vanishing, morbid, alone &
Like punctured loaves in
Flesh dusk, your mouth is
Grey & white, like money,
Like tropical fish.
My cranberries sink in a sludge of
Discarded buttons!  Oregon!  I want
To wrap Oregon!  Pajamas rushing,
Helplessly manicured.
Your teeth, so horrible,
Unique, bring pain to the
Bathing, joy to the
Table top.
I settle like an awful light
In the furniture of your silver
Cave.  My bone is river train!
Vivid, intrepid.
Cave Of The Spirits
I dreamt that the sight of the underground
passages filled our hearts with an unknown
light.  Spirits lived in the caverns & in the
giant, domed treasure room at its very center. 
We laughed as we entered the chamber to see
the profuse silver leaves & gold apples, & the
many metallic plaques, covered with stars,
moons suns & snakes.  The luminous snakes
were crawling up pyramids, striving for the
summits, flying through the heavens with a
trail of fire or lying on the reflective golden
heads of the gods.  The cave was deep, wide &
warm.  No one wanted to wake, but some of us
couldn’t help it.
I do not know me but
A train of thought
Drags me through
Illusory galaxies
Where silly circus music
Mocks my mortal wounds
While I run in circles
Wearing shoes that don’t fit
An unfortunate immigrant
Buffeted by forces of history
I somehow manage
A foolish laugh
Released from myself    detached
My face a funny mask
Cold Oceans  
I sit by my open window.
A lake breeze brings the outside in.
The white pine tree makes its green stand
Between me & the foggy lake.
It grows taller with each season,
But I do not.
My height has eroded as my age increased.
Even the Rockies are half the size
Which they were a million years ago.
The wind brings the scent of the lake to me.
It blows my countless blessings
Beyond cold oceans.
Dark Star
Dark star, deadly binary nemesis
Of the transitory star we call sun,
Here we are, on beleaguered planet earth,
Worrying about our own extinction.
Dark star, parent of the next meteor,
A tsunami of lethal energy,
Serial killer of the dinosaurs,
Great reaper of scheduled massacres,
Here, we are the captives of gravity.
Dark star, our lost identical twin,
Shooting mountains in our direction,
Playing Cain to our reflective Abel,
Birthing invisible anti-matter,
Catalyst for horrific disaster.
Dark star, planetary doppelganger,
Mirror occupying negative space,
Black reflection at the vortex of time,
Here, in sunlight, we wait,
& maturate.
Deep Moorings
A hard wind blows through the pines
Whispers from the past
Connect us to now
A kingfisher cries out
Shattering the stillness
Of the morning pond
A large limb falls down
Beside an old barn
Car accident down the road
A frog plops in a pond
Drowned-out by the sound
Of a big-rig air-horn
A frantic squirrel runs
Through a mad café
A door opens next door
Pigeons eat popcorn
In a crowded square
Falcons soar on wind currents
Early morning smoke
Black tar releases its heat
Road crew takes a break

On the evening news
Earthquakes share space
With hurricanes & tidal waves
The clear white moonface
Smiles above the lake
Sailboats tug at deep moorings
Loud television
Proffers Christmas cheer
Outside, the snow gets deeper
Snakes fly toward the sun
Elements form a grammar
Spherical bodies rotate in space
Hollow noise of surf is heard
A game of hide & seek began
Round stones rose from sand
A stranger ran, hammer in hand
Against the mountains of the sun
A connection between snakes & men
A legend in the tiny islands
Searchers return, bereft
Armed in suits of platinum
Even if the coffins were illusions
War broke out among the ruins

A crocodile lost its way
East or west to a fixed position
The stranger came again to play
Available in this space age
Refugees, constricted, extricate
In inexplicable picturesque epics
Solid stone broke the diamond saw
An iridescent surface had been formed
Departure gyrated a gentle beat
Teenagers brought the fresh roots
Without warning, there’s the ruins
You find no steps, nor stairs
Consorted shapes were formed
Four balls dangled like musical notes
Gas sends out a beam of light
Sure to appear as simple ornamentation
A broad-tailed hawk is using our winter
bird-feeder for bait.  Yesterday, we watched
while it plucked grey feathers from a song
sparrow & ate her.  We grieved for the
sparrow, feared for the chickadees & the two
sets of cardinal mates.
You urged me to shoot it, but wouldn’t we hate
to see the hawk starve just as much?  Frozen
in ambivalence, I wait, not sure what I’ll do if I
see red down floating on a cold wind.
Once he was a farmer.  Now
he has no lower arms.
His farm in Pulka, Nigeria
once held one hundred cows,
four wives & seventeen children.
All the cattle were stolen
by the Boko Haram army.
All seven of his sons
were shanghaied into the gang.
They tied him tightly for a month.
After he escaped, the doctors
had to cut off both arms,
& he could no longer work.
The family fled to Cameroon.
There was no room for them there.
When they returned to Pulka,
they saw that the armed men
had stolen all 75 bags of sorghum
they had hidden before they fled.
In the first month after their return,
three of the children starved to death.
Once he produced hundreds of bags
of cotton, beans & sorghum.  Now
all he produces is knots of tears.
Dream Home
In the home of the clown there are many
rooms.  In the den, a statue of the Buddha
palms some coins of the realm.  In the
bedroom, oversized clown-slippers,
clown-boots & clown-flip-flops are scattered on
the floor, like beached whales.  There also
stands the dressing table, with its oval mirror
ringed with solar bulbs.
The clown looks into the mirror & sees a wise
man with a big red nose.
Books line the library walls, but they are all
blank except one.  The music room is full of
drums.  The clown beats the drums to
celebrate sunrise & sunset each day.  The
living room floor is covered with pillows &
balloons of every color.  Calliope music plays
continuously.  The clown lives tenderly alone,
in his dream home.
On a sand dune     a rune
Written by a stray offshore wind
Behind a low cloud
A blue heron     waits
Seeing past its reflection
A big green snowplow
After     a heavy snowstorm
A blade     that cuts through
White flowers in windowsills
White dreams throughout the winter
Outside my window
Low branches     bow     in sorrow
A spider in the corner
Works out his karma
While owls sleep     in the deep woods
Driving North
Leaving home at 6 AM,
We drive by the misty wraiths
That drift up the dreamy creek.
They settle in low places
Transforming the rising sun
Into a yellow fuzz-ball.
She multiplies & then blinds
Those who stare at her too long.
The loud crows are debating
& the seagulls are laughing
As we make our way up north,
Up the light peninsula.
The sky is a deep ocean
High above the narrow land
Where clouds float like lonely ghosts
Below the sun, our burning hope.
Early Thaw
The lake-ice is out already
six weeks early, & waves splash
against our beach, true blue & fluid.
Feel for the small souls of minnows
spawned in the warmer water
of the deeper, Southern end of the lake
far from the weedy sanctuary of
the Northern shallows, to awaken
beneath rapidly thinning ice.
Feel too, for the seagulls & ducks
that feast on the fleeing dreamers
inconveniently born in the wrong place
while the sheltering roof of ice
disappeared in a warm wind,
followed by a cold snap that locked them in.
Electric Sunshine
Seven friends met up
At a bar on Bourbon Street
They had a few beers
Each man told     a sad story
So they each had     a good laugh
The audience     fled
When the giant ape got loose
But they left behind
Their purses & their programs
To be crushed by     big feet
Three chickadees     splash
In the bright garden birdbath
They chirp to the light
Alive on a sunny day
Their wings drip     electric sunshine
(with Alison Stone)
A siren blares down the highway,
hysterically red as raw meat.
I imagine the worst disasters,
twisted bodies in crumpled cars,
stray bullets near a playground,
families trapped and screaming
or their houses on fire.
Next I think of real people,
then I hope it isn’t them.
Sure, every victim is somebody’s
something, but horror happening
to strangers is bearable, not
even as real as small annoyances
like running out of potato chips
during your annual Superbowl Party.
Maybe that’s what it means to be
human, stuck in personal hungers,
ignoring or pretending to care
about everyone else,
one nation under fear
with justice for none.
Though we go through
the motions skillfully, and
even the siren’s volume
is less than the scream of greed,
we wish for the silent strength
to somehow be more than our
natures, to match the siren’s wail
with our authentic grief, to stand
alive and open in the red‑tinged light.
Memory paints a portrait of
A man all his life.  Each
Moment adds a detail & it
All fits tight.  It’s a Deja vu
That lasts, until the random night
He wakes, quite at home, in another
Place & time, to discover the use
Of human fire, or witness another sun
Build another trembling empire.
Family Funeral
Our emaciated patriarch
is on display in an alcove,
dead from COPD & heart failure.
He’d smoked his beloved briar
between hits on an oxygen tube.
He’d slept sitting up
due to his congested heart.
He’d refused all visitors
for the past eight months.
His oldest son was sent away
on the day that he died.
No one really knew why.
Now old forever friends & family
gather in a gilded parlor.
It is standing room only
on the thick red carpet.
Tasteful gold decorates
the wall-niches & corners.
Padded folding chairs surround
the edges of the milling crowd.
People pilgrimage to the coffin
to verify or nullify what is real
or take a final mental photo,
to be filed in brain or heart.
Cousins separated by years
catch up on triumphs & disasters.
Two mismatched brothers-in-law
argue the outcome of a coming election.
Near the alcove where Dad’s body lies,
old friends share memories of him.
Tears & smiles break from old masks.
They brought flowers against his wishes.
Screaming erupts in an anteroom!
The dark crazy sister is still mad
that everything didn’t go as Dad
told her it should.  “Fuck you,
mother fucker!” she shouts
at her older sister, who wanted a buffet.
But the corpse doesn’t care,
ensconced in his last bed,
his rosary in one hand, & the pipe
that killed him in the other.
Final Question
If the universe
ceased to expand,
& contracted into
one last dense wish
against the dark & cold,
& the burnt-out stars
fell into
a hungry black hole,
would a memory of fire
still travel past
the catatonic stones
where light began as love
in the all conceiving night?
Flood Tide
Another day surges over
the horizon, flotsam
sloshing through its dark
sluice.  Loose pages
drift in pools, like
travelers, asleep beneath
the hills.  There is no
bowl to contain our
tears, just flooded floors in
a hastily abandoned factory.
Though pleasure pours
like rain, we swim
on until dark, emerging
from the water’s edge smelling
like wet sand.  Submerged
beneath our common
respiration, we wonder if
the ocean breeze will
keep us on course or
blow us back into ourselves.
We have thrown down our
breathless waves, arriving
home late but still
somehow hopelessly
adrift.  There is no
pail for love.  Even though
we’ve wrapped ourselves within
each other’s arms, each
of us still drowns alone.
six black vultures turn
& spin     in the methane wind
above a dead doe
her gasses     rise to the sky
another floater
cars speed down the road
their garish colors bleeding
through the dark shadows
accompanied by a big stomp
bass     jacked up     thumping up
seeds scatter     freely
in the soggy spring breezes
but I am asleep
beneath a tall pine tree     free
to float on my bay of dreams
Fly Fishing In The Rain
for Gary Metras
The pool pops and rolls, alive
All the way up to the clouds.
Branches on the side of the brook
Shake in the downpour, like a laughing man.
Down below, in the boiling depth,
Rainbows swirl, breathe deeply
While you, in boots & rain gear
Smile the foolish, happy grin
Of one whose lines sustain him.
From the depth, your wet heart beats
Vibrations through the rivers
Of your body, through your hands
That cast out & wait, feet that wade
The fast flow of blood & water.
For The Living Dead
I rise with an effort
I feel the dead
They vibrate
In my foggy heart
Like icebergs colliding
In oceans of blood
I am alone
I sit by my window
I become a stone
Like stagnant water
Or steady drumming
I was once a prisoner too
I hear again
The familiar beat
Inside my heart
The divine rhythm
Of the countless dead
The rainstorms of light
The zombies are revolting
They are crude in their culinary habits
Eating the flesh of the living
Raw with no seasoning
Duly elected representatives
With secret term limits
Sound the alarm
The flesh-eaters are in the house
They are slow but they keep on coming
They are mesmerized by fireworks
They like to run amok
When they aren’t milling aimlessly
Zombies have no sex lives
They share the despair of the wolfman
Drunk on power under the full moon
Soaked in gasoline waiting for a light
Enflamed by love & hate
Counting down to the final insult
A cipher falls dead in the snow
From a bus of discontinued androids
Last year’s models obsolete versions
Of absolute ideals polished
To insane shines that reflect
The light that cannot be silenced
Jolly gunshots wound our pride
Armies of pleasure reap
Rewards of perfect cartoon murders
Buddhas smithereened by friendly fire
Floating in rivers of polite bodies
Joyfully waving their black flags
They are the human furniture
They are the living dishrags
They are the constant reminders
They are the ruined fortresses
Engorged on cloned flesh
Fitted with artificial hearts
In the post-apocalyptic world
The zombies are loosely organized
With no zombie leader
They wander in random abandon
Trying to play various musical instruments
But their rhythm is shot
A small group of human survivors
Still comb their hair & wear make-up
Drooling & shuffling their feet
The zombies are mystified
By the smallest most subtle stimuli
But their haunted bony faces never smile
In the land of the dead
If a zombie bites you
You become a zombie too
You become a soldier in the zombie army
Sharing a goal with no sense of purpose
With an inner drive to obey.
The red bird still sings
In the green earth tree
In the airtight shopping mall
In the fenced-off arena
In shadows of tall buildings
In shacks of toothpicks
Robots built by zombies
Then put in charge
The doors are all locked
Impervious to your meat cleavers
Oblivious to your howls of pain
Ungrateful for your sacrifices
We navigate by dead reckoning
Our options are greatly reduced
We search in vain for a way out
Disguised by decadent cosmetics
The sentries at the gate are drunk
When the invasion comes they will die
What can we do
What do we know
We who are barely human
We who have broken the 7th seal
We who have left the gate open
We who have stolen the Golden Fleece
Now the ghosts swallow us
We sullenly celebrate their loss
Our eyes opened wide as greed
Our diamonds soaked in blood
The coldest heads prevail
To organize the slaughter
Where have we been
What have we done
We mounted the final burial mound
We heard again the ancient last rites
We cloned sheep by the herd
We unleashed the living dead
The robots are in formation
Speaking in unison
They all have the same face
Humorously humorless
They bow & scrape
Without relish or anguish
Robot malfunctions
Are inconvenient
Animated by artificial energy
Their movements are spooky
Unaware of planned obsolescence
Or constant surveillance
They make good household servants
They make good food service workers
They don’t mind piece-work
Efficient & cost effective
Prison guards, they
Know no fear
They don’t need names
They don’t have dreams
They don’t throw temper tantrums
They’re not ticklish
They don’t itch much
They never need vacations
They don’t get pregnant
They don’t get drunk
They don’t smoke
They don’t eat or shit
They know not art
They hardly ever fart
A robot may be decommissioned
When a better model is developed
Many of the latest prototypes
Are biodegradable
They utilize virtual fibers
To simulate the naturally organic

The severed head of Orpheus screams
Among the ashes of ancestors
Among the names carved into stone
In secret caves & hidden places
In tedious epics of doomed voyages
To the edge of the world
Organic life is prone to rot
Wooden puppets become brittle
Formaldehyde replaces blood
When the machine rules
Over the maker of machines
Which ones are the tools
Ghost lost before the body
Toy soldier left out in the rain
Hollow & impervious to pain
The pounding of robot feet
Grows louder by the parameter
Drowning out the earths heart
I feel the spirits of the dead
They explode like seedpods
A thousand downy spheres
Doors that won’t stay closed
Locks meant to be broken
Dandelions born in the wind
Beats of light drummed by spirits
Into the pulsating heart of sound
Into the unsanctified dirt
Out to the edges of space
Through the wounded waters
Beyond the toxic pain of time
I hear the call of light
Through the mechanical darkness
Through the marching shadows
Through the neutral rocks
The stale bread that feeds
The dreams of the anemic world
Free Beach
Swimmers play
beneath a blue sky,
where big puffy clouds
make their ways
to parts unknown.
A small boy
hooks a splashing fish
& looks amazed
as it tries to swim
away from him.
In a splash of light
both of them are free.
The swimmers on the beach
scream in wet delight.
Cloud shadows pass
over the blue water.
The boy throws stones
at minnows that cruise
along the long shore.
Seagulls flutter above us,
flashing like silver coins
thrown across the sun.
Time to move on.
Fresh Red
A cold autumn wind
Coming across the water
Dries away my tears
Steals the breath     from my lips
More     for the breath of the earth
At the blues concert
A girl     with colorful arms
Waves     them over us
While a toothless man
Dances his high yellow steps
In the woods behind
The trees     drop their green disguise
Truckloads of apples
Run along     the long highway
Bring fresh red to the south

From Mirror To You
Your sad hands ramble over
The badlands of your face
Like old prospectors that drag
Metal-detectors across the beach.
They call their grim barracks castles.
They search for adorable fortunes
Beneath abandoned arcade boardwalks.
They invest their time on shaky docks.
But although the harbor is empty
A brave life-raft will sail out
Toward the open, opulent ocean
Over the waves of your hair
Below the cliffs of your brow
Finding a fresh current to freedom.
Light emanates from my coat
My coat that contains
A shining stream
My coat of fool’s gold
Wiser than the stars
Singing in its pockets
Imprisoned by the fragrance
Of the rosy clouds
Like the dark heart
Hidden in a bright cave
Hidden in infinity
So far out in the open
That little fish
Swim through its fabric
In the grasping hands of snow
Beneath the ancient astrodome
Beside a cat with an empty belly
An old woman sat alone
On a soapbox of divinity.
Her eyeglasses flashed
Like metallic windows after dark
Before the fires sputtered & died
In all the great world libraries
From which we crawled, evolved
After centuries of soft neglect,
Beyond bones & muscles & blood.
Her breaths rose like chimney smoke
To shatter like cold glass on the stone floor.
Hard Edges
Bloody soldiers lie like sticks
On a hurricane beach
Bionic limbs replace shot off
Branches, grotesque woodpiles
A posse of insane clowns tunes up
Guided by the grinding wheels of half-tracks
Shells scream through the morning mist
Black smoke swirls over abandoned boots
We’re still marching in perfect order
Into the red-stained, funeral smog
Petty criminals take a hard line
Defending the borders of their minds
A militia of monkeys reigns
Over the temporarily insane drains
Laughter breaks the structure
Of mirages we run over
The sun implores us to behave
But the moon plays ever after
Even on the best of days
The story gets shorter

Dungeons in the skull
Of an abstract elephant
A storm at sea
Through time & space
Such as Stonehenge
Labyrinths of bone, so old
Working from ropes, walkways,
Airships, cranes & towers
More than 15 million species
Rolling & forming, texturing & firing
Hearts Of Light
Deer eat magnetic trilliums
Their entrails glow above
Stars in their own heaven
Frosty spikes
Murderers of maternal
What breeze can silence light?
What sound emanates
From gasping oceans?
Wreathes of sunshine
The sandy corpses
Distant coyotes
Chatter hysterically
Their eyes flash like stars
Stars in my eyes
Centuries in transit
Fires extinguished years ago
The pulsating morning sun
Sings an ancient song
& we all sing along
Hearts of light
Years away
Exploding supernovae
Spread particles
Through droplets of water
Embittered light
Sees itself
In black holes
Haunted Windows
Standing on sand
We peek beyond
Shafts of light
Past deeper shafts
Of darkness
We call out
Hoping to be heard
Above the rattling autos
You can see the stars
Even in the daylight
From a deep hole
This shafted wound
In mother earth
Where we were found
We cry for wings
Even as wings approach
Heat Wave
A prolonged heat wave
brings order to our days.
Here in the northern woods
we’re not used to hot weather.
We write letters
through the cool mornings,
swim through
the hot afternoons,
toss through warm nights.
A big red fire engine
blares down
our two-lane road.
It’s tires burn rubber,
leaving black brush strokes
as it rounds the corner
in a rush to engage
the flames in combat.
We hope it’s not too late.
High School Reunion
“If you wait by the river long enough,
the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
                                                – Sun Tzu
Outside the little building
where my 50th reunion was held,
I saw the ghost of the girl I loved
throughout my H.S. years.
A man about my age
stood in front of the door
smoking a guilty cigarette.
“Are you a former classmate?” I asked.
He wasn’t, but he went to school
with my old girlfriend.
He knew her real name.
As I entered the crowded room,
she was with me again.
Although we were all the same age,
it no longer looked that way.
A man I’ve known since childhood
had the colorless bend of old age.
I hoped the class bully would be in bad shape,
but he looked younger than the rest of us.
I remembered the time he sucker-punched me
when I beat him at ping-pong.
His hair was long and full, his posture straight.
He tried to connect but no one spoke to him.
He hovered on the outskirts
where he talked to the smoker
who didn’t go to our school.
The girl who developed too early
was there with her husband.
She looked like a woman in the 9th grade,
but at 68 she still looked a young 50.
Genes seem to have their own agenda.
The mean girls hadn’t changed.
They gossiped in loud whispers
about the former valedictorian
who had started a mission school
in Bangladesh.  She had a tall smile
& a jolly husband.  She was attractive.
The mean girls weren’t.  “She was
such an ugly duckling in school.”
declared one makeup-muddied malcontent.
A former perky cheerleader
buzzed around the noisy room,
flying between groups, pollinating,
just as she’d done in high school.
A man who had been a snobby jock
looked grumpy, tired & overweight.
The “good guys” that survived
were as good as they were before.
An old friend from childhood adored
his grandsons, was married forty years,
& owned his own company.
My first best friend still made me smile.
We had laughed & joked
through 12 years, together.
He was still married
to his high school sweetheart.
They had two sons.
Other faces evoked gusts of wind
that carried dusty feelings.
We spoke of the missing & the dead,
of cancer, heart attacks & AIDS,
& remembered little incidents
that we thought we’d somehow lost.
Fifty years used to seem
like a very long time, but now
I think the only distance exists in the mind.
Hunger Everywhere
Gene is 75 and blind.
He uses a wheelchair
since losing half his leg to diabetes.
He is on dialysis.
He is a Vietnam Veteran.
We sent him there at 17.
He returned from that struggle
with two hearts: one Purple
& the other one broken,
his vision blasted away
before his 18th birthday.
Now he struggles with hunger.
He’s been able to get by,
up to this point,
even though his rent
is 75% of his disability check,
because of Meals on Wheels.
It all got worse when he burned himself
while boiling water for oatmeal.
He ended up in the hospital
for so long that he fell off the rolls
for home-delivered meals.
Sometimes a local church
brings him some food,
but he often feels starved.
“There’s hunger everywhere,” he says,
still smiling with blind eyes,
happy just to have someone to talk to.
for Ben Tibbs
Ice feathers fall from the wings
Of the giant black swan.
The swimmer in the wind
Is drunk as a sleeping rock.
Poor men make music
By using their eating utensils.
A shot rings out in the shadow factory,
& foxes run out, speaking in tongues.
An odd animal rises up from my garden,
& ceremonial rain falls on the silken zoo.
A stray nose appears at the door.
“You’re just in time.” I said.
Jeweled hornets buzz around
The home of the Clown.
April is a vegetable month.
February tastes like lilacs.
Meanwhile, down by the smiling pond,
An Angel cleans her sooted wings.
March is a time of abandoned zebras.
January causes frogs to howl in desperation.
A donkey laughs at nothing
While a monkey cleans his fish.
Seven hundred sunflowers
Break from their stalks & run away.
In the evening by the moonlight
I can hear those elephants dancing.
All the graves in Cuba
Erupt in a fountain of sugar.
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.
Nobody knows my monthly electric bill.
In Another Time
I tell myself a dream to go
Into the yellow stone
That sings inside my throat.
The sky is grey & sweet.
My heart is an abandoned planet.
Even as I launch this tiny ship,
Someone looks for me
In the populated soil.
My ancestors roll in the waves.
Their vain blood floods my bed.
I tell myself today’s old lines.
Today’s old lines are mine.
Alone with you, myself.
Another birth, & other words.
In another time.
In House
Here in my house of skin,
safe inside my warm dream,
while wild white storms rage on
outside these weary walls,
in transit through dark rooms
of long gone memories,
all the clocks run backward.
Here the rooms have muscles
& the passageways lead
to doors with broken locks.
Beneath a roof of sense
down to my crazy cellar,
shadows rise & descend
on stairs that never end.
In Our Eyes
My father died looking in my eyes.
He was fifty-four.  I was thirty.
He’d collapsed on Division Avenue,
walking home from a party store,
his bottle clutched in a brown paper bag.
The hospital called me at work,
I was the last to arrive.
When I got to his room, my sister & brother
made a place for me by the head of his bed.
“He’s unconscious.” my mother said
as she leaned against the wall.
I looked at his closed eyelids for a moment.
He opened them, & gazed deeply into mine.
He squeezed my hand once, then his eyes
rolled up to show the whites.
Everyone there cried, except for me.
I didn’t cry for ten more days,
until the night my first son was born.
My father never saw my children.
I went home, alone, the night the first was born.
I sat in my attic & cried through the night.
I wept for both birth & death.
At the funeral home his mother & I sat
on a red love seat & she saw into me.
“You look more like your father  
than ever before.” she said.
“It’s in your eyes.”
In Space
You need your space.
You need to screen
Your calls.
You must be careful
With opinion polls.
The faster you go
The more energy
It takes.  You have
A pattern of memories
That confirm your beliefs.
You have seen
The little creatures.
You have sent
Symbolic broadcasts,
Sitcoms, talk-shows, commercials.
“But what about the spaceships?”
You ask, remembering a time.
Intensities In Ten Cities
Ordered a Manhattan in Manhattan,
in an act of adolescent irony.
Tall buildings with trash at their feet
evoked giant oaks in October.
After, Pennsylvania Station rocked
like a small boat on a big sea.
A striking trash collector
blamed “the City” for the strike.
Noncommital, I waited for the train.
By the time it came, I was in a shell.
Visited the Liberty Bell in Philly,
surprised it was so small.
Its size is the perfect metaphor
for our dwindling civil rights.
Independence Hall was badly in need
of regular maintenance.
Philly is old & I felt & saw it
from a city bus that ran the length
of the city where liberty was born
& where brotherly love is an ideal.

In Atlanta the strip clubs
are popular destinations
for home-boys & tourists alike.
Girls will sit, nude, at your tiny table.
A generous tip & an expensive drink
will get you some Southern hospitality.
They come from all over the South
to dance around naked for money.
I asked them, why Atlanta?
“Most modern city in the South,” they replied.    
Minneapolis in the wintertime
reminded me that climate
defines each human environment.
Equipped with temperature-controlled walkways
you can shop for Viking souvenirs all day
& never go out in the cold.
Across the frozen river
St. Paul is the shy twin.
The parking ramps have battery chargers
to save time & defeat deep freezes.
Detroit streets felt tense
like an engine wound to the max.
People avoid your glance
or challenge you with a steely stare.
The Renaissance Center needs a renaissance.
Empty spaces outnumber full ones.
Whole neighborhoods of abandoned homes
look like apocalyptic kindling.
At the Greyhound Bus terminal
many of the riders look terminal.
The tall spires of Churchill Downs
stand guard over the main gate
where thousands pour in
to watch a two minute race.
Later in downtown St. Louis,
a bar leaked strains of the St. Louie Blues.
I thought of W. C. Handy, Louie Armstrong &
the great Chuck Berry, father of rock & roll.
At the museum I couldn’t get
Johnny B. Goode out of my head.
Chicago, the 1968 Democratic Convention:
riot police rioted, blooding the ones
they were paid to protect.
Many sweetheart deals were made & kept.
One honest man stood out from the rest,
but they beat him too.
We escaped the cops but
we were almost murdered
by some drunken local teens with tire-irons
who hated us & everything we stood for.
In Toronto the college students
truly loved American movies.
We saw a forgettable one, but
the crowd cheered its loud approval.
The streets were clean & the people
greeted us with innocent smiles.
Later, we were paranoid
to smoke pot in our hotel,
but we wanted to use it up
before crossing the border back to reality.
Dallas sprawled, brown & dusty.
The smell of barbeque permeated
the dry air.  We drove for hours,
but got nowhere under the big sky.
Strong winds blew us around
like tumbleweeds on the run.
Walking around The Galleria,
people smiled & conversed happily.
The big mall has more dimension
than the landscape they live in.
Gettysburg is still fighting the Civil War.
All the restaurants are blue & grey.
Every neighborhood in town
has its own proud battlefield.
There are Civil War souvenir stores
that sell maps to historic scenes of carnage.
They take you through neighborhoods
to big, green lawns where men died young.
Monuments to conflict occupy the streets
like an army of solidified ghosts.
In The Wake
Halfway through
hurricane season,
the lost rain
returned to the body:
sad monsoon
after the big wave
that flooded
our defenseless cups,
that left us
waterlogged but thirsty,
even as the angry tide
even as the ancient tears
ran undamed
from new eyes
that opened underwater
to see the useless furniture
swirling inexorably
toward the sucking drain,
with dollar bills
into a foreign currency,
faces adrift
in low vapor,
shoreline lined
with dying dreams.
In Tree Light
The white pine outside my window
grows old in the summer heat.
A robin sings its old song,
then flies away, music gone.
A woman in an apple dress
makes everything briefly red,
then passes by like an old wound.
The land is fragile as a match
burning fitfully in the wind,
but we sleep inside its sap
feeling the drumming of our blood.
We all love the sudden instant
when daylight steals our dreams.
You can feel your own dark heart heal,
that boat that leaks and breaks
just as you reach the distant shore.
Japanese Bones
Dawn glows on the edge
Signaling the departure
Of the windy dead
Under the drum
Birch trees play timpani
In the music of the breeze
I crossed a windy street
To a metronome
Japanese bones ticked air
Spider in my doorway
Still here when I exit
Between spring rainstorms
A bee investigated
A rotten berry
Then hummed away
The cat doesn’t know
That poop in a Zen garden
Ruins its feng shui
Rain drops on the tin roof
Footsteps hurry over
The antique covered bridge
A moth found shelter
From a pounding rain
Under a plastic kayak
Rain falls in a river
A message from the night
Kisses on wet skin
Light disperses from a fresh grave
Seeking out
The thirsty summer moon
Leelanau Fire
The night is white.
The moon, a cosmic smile.
Big wind frightens a fawn.
A branch falls, an alarm.
For awhile, I remember
Pictures across the river,
A life boat in the snow,
Radio squawking at the stars.
Now images are gone.
Mind empty, I’m alone.
Right here, by the smoke
Of the glowing embers,
Camping on the edge
Of the open sky.
As a young sailor I learned
to handle the lines.  I’d stand
on the slippery bow to toss
the bowline to the dockhand, balanced
against the backwash
of the engine & the wave action,
hoping that the catcher on the dock
could grab the line from mid-air.
Later, in the Coast Guard, I trained
in the use of the line-throwing
gun, a 12 gauge shotgun
that shot a steel rod
over the bow of a drifting boat
with a small line threaded
through the heavy rod-head, a difficult
task in rough water.
If your aim was off, the rod
could hit, maybe even kill
the very stranded boater whom
you were trying to save.  You had to
arc it just right, so that it fell
across the bow, so the boater
could retrieve the line & connect
it to his bow, so you could rescue him.
But sometimes lifelines break.
Nylon tow-lines stretch way out.
We stand behind a cyclone fence, in case
the rope might snap.  The sudden recoil
could kill a man or knock
him overboard, to tread water
until someone bobbing nearby
can throw him a line.
On turbid days, afloat on
dark, forbidding waves, we need
strong lines, to lash us
to something solid on shore,
a post or a pier that might stand
against the wildly surging swells.
In dreams of flight above rough seas,
I search for you, to throw you these lines.
Light Chop
seven vapor trails
white rivers     one hundred miles
across the ocean
the sky soft blue & endless
two massive clouds     float
the dark peaty dirt
surrounds a white grub
moles hunt through dark tunnels
shovels chop     through crusty soil
worms exposed to sunlight     dig
little fish circle
in a sunlit cathedral
weeds stretch     to the light
over darker depths     below
a light chop swirls the surface
Little Doll
Phalla had a great life
growing up in Cambodia.
She was her father’s favorite,
the most attractive of his girls.
He dressed her in fine clothes
& called her his little doll.
When her father died,
with no one to support her,
she was forced to move in
with her maternal grandmother
who considered her spoiled.
They argued every day all summer.
Finally, to teach her a lesson,
her grandmother sold her
to a brothel in Kampong Som,
where they stripped her
& locked her in a room
& raped her many times a day.
Some of the men reminded her
of the way her father looked at her
when he called her his little doll,
but more of them made her think
of the look in her grandma’s eyes
when she won the argument.
Lonely Planets
Exploding supernovae
Spread particles
Across the galaxy.
We still live
In that ocean, we
Carry it around
In our cells.
Ice fishing on Europa,
We wonder
What might lurk
Beneath the surface.
Our eyes are the water
In the ocean of stars.
We can taste it in our tears.
Love Gloves
for Ben Tibbs
Birds flutter through his hands.  He’s
Histrionic, sympathetic, empathetic,
Never cluttered, nor apathetic.
He’s been clever.  He’s some lover!  He’s
My father & my brother.  Zen
Icecream koans advertize
His tender metal lives.
Surreal science is his triumphant plan.
Mystical alliances canonize his monumental plight:
His fingers walk the pages of delight.
His feet tiptoe the earth with bombastic pleasure.
Apple blossoms rain on him forever.
He plans his moves.  He butters his words.
His hands massage the sky of love like birds.
Love Match
after Andre Breton
My wife with campfire hair
Her thoughts hot lights
Her clockwork waist
My wife’s tail in a tiger’s mouth
My wife’s lips of star flowers
Her teeth of white mouse tracks
Her tongue a glass sunset
My wife’s tongue a holy pierced heart
Her tongue a doll’s eyes that close
Her tongue a dream stone
My wife’s elf-etched lashes
Her brows the nest of a small finch
My wife’s shoulders a greenhouse roof
& their panes wet with mist
My wife’s shoulders of champagne
& heads of dolphins in fountains of ice
My wife with matchstick wrists
My wife with random fingers
My wife with wooden weasel arms
In the middle of the sacred night
In the hedges of angel fish
Her arms of foam in a spillway
& the melting of mill & flour
My wife with firework legs
Her movements like pensive clockworks
My wife in the rings of oaks
My wife with eternal feet
Her feet in birdbath shoes
My wife with her neck of pearl
My wife with her throat a golden town
We meet in the current of a stream
Her breasts of night
My wife’s breasts undersea mounds
My wife’s breasts that grow rubies
Her breasts ghosts of wet roses
My wife whose belly announces the dawn
That raises its giant hands
Whose back is birdflight
Whose back is light
The nape of her neck is sand
& a broken cup we drink from
My wife with hips of tall ships
With hips of feathers and light
& plumes of white peacocks
That balance without movement
My wife whose butt is stone
My wife with swan’s back, white flowers
My wife who blooms in the spring
the union of lilies
My wife whose sex is birds
My wife whose sex is ancient candy
My wife whose sex is a mirror
My wife with tear-filled eyes
& of compass needle and purple sea
My wife with her wildflower eyes
My wife with wet eyes for prisoners
My wife with wooden eyes ready to chop
& eyes of calm water, raked earth, fire and wind
Clouds of joy rain painfully
On toy villages, temporarily ephemeral
Feeble trees emit intermittent screams
Samples of noise impregnate imperviously
A mouthful of antique coins
An earful of 3rd degree love
Shoreline tents, leopard skinned
Starlight on pink steel bridges
Inspirational bloodbuckets
Strain the concerts, emphatic
Cockroaches, successful in longevity
Raise the standard of experience
Neurotic beasts cry bitterly
On beaches of plastic popcorn
Boxes of big dreams are filed
In hope chests & sour trunks
A surrender is signed
In 4/4 time, appalling
Alternative habits, none feasible
Mask a blatant truth, shameful
Blue heron stalks, motionless
Spear marks appear anonymously
Another ridiculous brainstorm
More mirth, defective but elastic
A strategic withdrawal, brave friend
Neglected correspondence, indignant
But wisely alone, inventive
Powerful, mercilessly noble
Dealers imagine victories
Over those who starve, gold-toothed
I wake, in Civil War,
Play endless games
Of solitaire.  I die,
& am reborn.  I breathe,
Until my breath is torn
By unexpected stare or look
In mirror, sudden laugh
Or uninvited tear.  No one knows
How slowly I have grown.  No one
Knows the feelings I alone
Have given skin & bone, to float like ghosts
Past shadows of the piers & reefs, then
Rise on bells to walk asleep
Through burning cities of white peace,
Where green dreams bloom
On the pastures & plains
Of my newly wounded hands.
Upscale properties upstage nature.
Underground sprinkling
Competes with acid rain.
A car salesman
With a $40,000 Rolex
Searches for child pornography
On the global internet.
Above, seven turkey vultures
Spin on the thermal wind
Above the carcass of a doe.
They hone in on methane,
The familiar scent of decay.
Monkey Time
Communication devices destroy communication.
Text messages erode the language,
stripping her in public, violating
her adverbial flesh & adjective soul.
We wait for the next exit, hope
the infrastructure doesn’t implode.
When the bridges are collapsed
the traffic will be blocked.
You can’t go around every river.
Some of them must be crossed.
Yesterday two icons, four superstars
& a diva met up for an exclusive confab.
Subjects included skin care & hair care.
Gift bags were filled with decadent cosmetics.
Their collaborative conclusions were confidential,
producing several viral YouTube videos.
Online commentary trended ominously
& friendships ebbed like a flood tide.
Birds’ hearts flutter
through roots
that drink the sky.
The autistic moon
turns away
from moths that scrape
fragile wings
against its shoulders.
Worms tunnel deeper
toward the heart
of the sleeper.
Morning News
Grey morning clouds over the straits
Blue noise lights the sky
A hawk sails symbolically,  hunting
Friendly chickadees, happy in morning sunlight
Old men follow without desire
Wildfires race each day to play
Sweet pine fragrance, crisp A.M. air
A loud chunk of chocolate breaks off
Loud, obvious spaces blurt out
Streams of angry money, accusing
Shrill politicians whittle down the branches
Deer bed down for the day, afraid
All masks removed at last
Big pike glide between lilies, predatory
My Father’s Job
My father worked at a car factory, but
When I was a little boy I thought that it
Was a prison, because of the impression
I got one morning when I went along to
Drop him off for the day-shift outside a big fence
That surrounded a huge brick building that had
No windows except a row of tiny ones
Way up by the roofline, many stories up.
My father went in through a small red door.
When he opened the door, loud noise busted out.
A quick glance revealed it as a prison:
All the walls & floors were a dull gray color.
All the men wore uniform gray coveralls.
An odor of oil escaped into the air
Along with the steady banging of big dies.
All the workers seemed to shuffle their feet.
We took him to that gray place every day.
As I grew older, I understood that it
Was just where he worked, making car bodies,
But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that he
Wanted to get out, but couldn’t.
Once, he quit to play piano in a bar.
He was happy for a while, but
Then my mother wanted more money so
He went back inside, this time for life.
Nature Preserve
In the woods behind my home
Is a Nature Preserve
Its central feature is a lake
It takes me about an hour
To walk around it
There are no dogs allowed
No fires, no swimming, no
Boating, no metal detectors, no
Camping, no horses, no
Picnics, no   no
I am to fish only
In designated areas
I am to walk clockwise
Around the lake, or be
Stopped by the tall, steel turnstile
Last winter, the newspaper
Printed a letter from a group
of malcontents who crusaded
To get rid of the beavers
For chewing down the birch trees
Another group began a campaign
To get rid of the dread
Purple loosestrife, a tall flower
That grows by the waters edge
In a manner offensive to nature
Right now, the focus is on
The distasteful blue spruce
Which the officials of the preserve
Deem to be opportunistic
& unwelcome among the natives
They’re building a trail
That will penetrate to the heart
Of the wildest part of the park
Leading from the Township Center
Easy access for all
Who prefer their wildlife preserved
No Cover
Children hide under their desks
during routine lockdown drills
at elementary schools.  Columbine.
Sandy Hook.  Parkland.  “March for
Our Lives” tee shirts.  Signs read:
“Protect Kids, Not Guns.” 
At the age of three, a boy
wore a toy gun to a wedding.
At ten, his father bought him
a .22 rifle for Christmas.
He hunted with his Dad
& learned to love the woods.
A decade later, when his wife
was pregnant with their son,
two men broke in while they slept,
but the dog made a loud stand
& that gave him time
to grab the .22
from the bedroom closet
& chase them away.
When their son was ten
they gave him the gun.
Concert & movie audiences, softball
players, hikers, campers, drivers
& parishioners take fire.  Nightclubs,
stadiums, churches, clinics, all
under surprise attack.  A gun
forces us to see ourselves
on one end of it or the other.
Either way, there is no cover.
No Fear
Don was a skinny
wiseguy from Detroit
who knew no fear.
He’d swagger up
to a gang of toughs
& mouth off
like he was invincible.
I saw him do it once
at a basketball game.
I had to save him,
explaining that he was
emotionally disturbed.
Being his therapist
was frustrating.
When I told him
what could happen
if he kept pushing,
he wouldn’t believe me.
He was belligerent
& ran away
back to Detroit,
where he was stabbed
in the heart
on a street corner
by another skinny boy
who knew no fear.
November Nights
I find your face
on a pillow of leaves,
lately adrift.
Blankets absorb
our body heat
while we breathe
cold cedar air
on long fall nights.
The downstairs Buddha
gathers our dust
in its ceramic folds.
Water shapes itself
into each glass vase.
Outside our window
windchimes play
stray climbing scales,
while underground sleepers
dream on, in no time.
November Song
early winter light
glows     against the high white clouds
blue bowl overhead
redwing blackbirds     heading south
to fields recently mowed
houselights extinguished
the shoreline swallows     each house
leaving the white ones
to glow alone     through cold dawn
luminous & stark
a melodic tune
rises up     from memory
in imitation
of stubborn sparrows
that stay all winter     searching
It’s 6 AM in the Universe, &
Cold.  The yellow sun
Makes another dawn in the lake
Above my head.  Warm blue air
Lifts the blanket from my bed.
Yesterday I wiped my father’s blood
From the white cloud walls
Of my home, in another dream.
Now, awake beneath the lake, I am
Alone.  The cold grey water of the lake
Invites me in, but then
I am rescued by my lover, the sun.
On The Road
It was rush hour
on a busy Chicago freeway,
on a sunny Sunday morning
in early September,
when a woman cut in front
of a gray Hyundai
swinging a baseball bat
out of her car window.
She jumped out & smashed the bat
onto the hood of the Hyundai.
The Hyundai driver leapt out,
grabbed the woman’s hair,
& wrestled away the bat.
He hit the angry woman with it
& blood splattered on the children
who were crying in the back seat.
Throughout the vicious attacks
bystanders videotaped the event,
hoping it would go viral
when they put it on YouTube.
On a rainy Monday in November,
in a suburb of Philadelphia,
an angry driver shot another driver.
He also shot the driver’s fiancé.
They’d been distracted by plans,
coming from the jewelry store,
& hadn’t noticed a stop sign.
The shooter was already mad
about some campaign signs
that had gone up on his street.
When they caught up to him,
he couldn’t explain just why
he’d brought the gun that day.
“The Devil made me do it.” he said.
A woman in Alabama
was arrested after she tried
to shoot another motorist
after he gave her The Finger
& ended up shooting
her husband in the head instead.
When she was charged
with attempted murder,
she claimed it was an accident,
though she admitted
they’d been arguing about finances.
She insisted that she’d only meant
to frighten the other driver,
to teach him a lesson
for being so incredibly rude
to a total stranger.
In a Houston suburb,
two children & their parents
were severely burned
when an 18-year old in a Jeep
opened fire on their pickup truck,
igniting a load of fireworks
that they had just purchased
for a 4th of July celebration.
The shooter had gotten the gun
from a Gun Show, because
he wasn’t old enough
to buy it from a gun dealer,
where he couldn’t get it anyway
with his lengthy juvenile record.
He was legally drunk
when the police picked him up,
his cowboy hat askew on his head.
A bystander who tried to intervene
in a road-rage incident
was killed by one of the drivers.
He was an elementary schoolteacher
who was loved by his students
for his generosity & humor.
The school had to bring in
a grief counselor, to help
the children process their loss.
His pregnant wife was in shock.
A year later, the school board
wanted to rename the library
after the lost bystander,
but some of the parents
were dead-set against it,
because the teacher
wasn’t even from Mississippi.
They couldn’t agree, so they tabled the idea.
A little girl named Brooklyn
was riding in the back seat
when her mother nearly hit
a black Ford SUV,
whose driver opened fire
on the car carrying the mother
& her four young children.
Brooklyn had celebrated her birthday
only a week prior.
It was a beautiful day
in early July,
with a cloudless sky.
Brooklyn was killed
by the first bullet fired.
At a vigil held for the child
on the evening after her death
her grandmother kept repeating
“She never had a chance to live.
She was only three years old.”
Outrage & agony engulfed Milwaukee.
Two carloads of people,
each returning from a party,
battle over a parking space.
Police are called by a witness
& they arrest nine brawlers,
all teenagers, all boys.
Back at the station house
parents are called
while the boys chill
in a crowded cell.
Some of the parents are irate.
A few blame their sons,
but most blame the cops,
the boys in the other car
or their own spouses.
None of the boys
will accept responsibility
for the battle on the highway,
which could have happened anywhere.
Open Season
November has come & gone
& the lake across the street
from my old stone house
is happy to be left alone,
except for twenty seagulls
that float far from shore.
My canoe sleeps hull up,
sleek in the cold morning rain.
It’s been raining all week,
but the nights are good sleeping,
beneath warm blankets,
with the window opened
just a little, like my heart
in this season of slumber.
Origins of Alchemy
Scattered snow whispers through
my brain, keeping time to gravity.
I imagine a vast atom, endlessly splitting
its sides in divine laughter thereafter.
We patch black holes in our dreams,
embroider religious symbols on Achille’s heels.
We wear starry halos stolen from dogs,
lost in our empty mirrors, those oceans.
We’re in a burning rowboat,
surrounded by evil loan sharks.
Swimming in the polar wind
earns forgiveness of all imagined sins.
Faulty choreography, triumphant
in error, has ’em dancing in the aisles.
One day the beginning will be forgotten
along with the formula for gold.
Into the beige interior planet
spools are wound with symbolic strings.
Spontaneous human combustion
becomes a cosmic barbeque.
Our plumbing needs are provided by the sky.
In time, we travel nowhere infinitely
until we don’t, & then I’m not,
& neither are you, imaginary thief.
Really big bubbles jiggle funkily.
I predict that patterns will emerge
in classic colors & styles the way
you might want them.  As for me,
my teachers scaled South American peaks
& tripped fantastic on New York streets.
Summer’s gone, the garden’s in,
the grass in back is tall
& green.  Robins are flying
south again.  We’ll see them
when they return next spring.
The trees are red & brown.  Autumn
makes me feel too old.  Especially when
I look ahead, to the coming snow, & the child
we waited for so long.
   & looking back, I think I see
the fading tracks that led us here.
                       This winter,
our new house will keep us warm.  But we
were warm before we had it.  For now,
it’s just us three: you, & me,
& the cricket in the attic.
A clear winter night
here in my warm den.
The cedars are bent with snow
by the shores of the frozen lake.
I wake alone to a dying fire.
Drivers on the road
go by but do not see
how moonlight floods the sky.
They just don’t look up.
Tonight the bridges are closed
& travel is dangerous.
I wandered lost for years.
Now here I am,
huddled by a fading ember.
            for Murry Harralson
I resisted him like a knot
resists a crosscut saw.
I didn’t want a step-father.
I missed my real father
like a tree bereft of branches.
I never called him father.  He didn’t
like me any more than I liked him.
He was an ex-Marine,
a strong, silent man of few words.
We co-existed through my adolescence,
but as adults, we warmed to each other.
I hung out with him in his garage
where he carved & burned wood.
We’d have a beer & a late night hot dog,
& he’d tell me about the world war.
Tears came to his blue eyes
when he spoke of Guadalcanal.
In his late sixties, he got into cats.
He built ramps so they could climb
up into the rafters of the garage.
His favorite cat was a feral stray
who had to be tamed.  She scratched
& bit him many times before
he became her trusted feline love.
In his mid-seventies he was struck by
congestive heart failure.  He
could only sleep while sitting up.
They gave him six months to live.
During that time, he opened to music.
I would sit on his bed & sing to him.
On the day he died, I played him asleep.
It was the last thing he heard.
As his son, I inherited his carving tools.
I also got his uncompleted carvings.
Over the years, I finished some of them.
Others were thrown away, but I kept
the tools, just in case I might find
some wood badly in need of a shape.
Paradox Of Intersections
Every other busy intersection
Reveals a single dusty shoe
Or a flattened single glove
Their mates are gone
Though little movies come along
Flashing images of a conjured past
Later the shoes run away
& the gloves wave goodbye
Until the inevitable intersection passes
Littered with lost kisses & near misses
Coming into another spring
sixty summers down,
white light burns me
through dark days.
I peel the layers
from the onion of memory,
given the gravity of the grave.
So now my persona
is consuming my doppelganger.
I feel the triumph of stone
traveling from gravel to dust,
the fading smile
of a waning moon,
another seizure
on the seismic meter:
still one more tattoo
on the face
of my battered public bust.
The sky is grey here.
My room is quiet & near.
Thinking of you
    in my little cocoon. 
As we turn our attention
toward the eternal magnet
at the center of the galaxy,
let us attempt to pause
where a pause is impossible,
to dance before the shaggy beast
that guards our illusions
in the prison of our dreams.
In the hard rain that beats away
at our poor, deteriorating roofs,
we search for cover
but instead find only diaries
of lost childhood
scattered across lighted pools
of fantasy, floating amid some
special toys, forgotten but not lost.
Yet the long days drift by, in currents
both dark & light, still all like
storm-lost branches out of reach,
while on the temporal shore
we see our unnatural enemies
as well as our intentional friends
passing on their journeys
to where even oceans must drain.
Sea Change
Clouds are laughing.  Rain is ending.  The old
clown sits in revery.  Later, a tornado
rearranged his priorities.  Now, he has a line
of sight to the ocean, but his gaze is inward,
toward humility.
Search & Rescue
Supersonic horseshoes whiz
Past barbecued executives
Molten doughboys push their buns
Through networks of static tranquilizers
Whole blood on special sale
Blue bunnies have found the eggs
A hawk sails symbolically,  hunting
Friendly chickadees, happy in morning sunlight
Loud, obvious spaces blurt out
Streams of angry money, accusing
Grey morning clouds over the straits
Blue noise lights the sky
Old men follow without desire
Wildfires race each day to play
Sweet pine fragrance, crisp A.M. air
A loud chunk of chocolate breaks off
Shrill politicians whittle down the branches
Deer bed down for the day, afraid
Many of the hardest games
Were never played, until that day
In the candy penitentiary
In the bloody popcorn theater
After the backward horse race
Often, but not always, predictable
On a distant planet, light years away
On top of Old Smoky, coughing
When all the trees are dormant
Barricades no one can pass
All masks removed at last
Big pike glide between lilies, predatory
Shooting Lessons
Russ & Dave were brothers
& they were funny guys,
good buddies to play war with.
Dozens of boys would gather
to shoot BB guns at each other
in the woods behind their house.
One summer day I went to play
war with Russ & Dave.  I had
the single-shot Daisy with me that
my father gave me before he left.
From down the block I could see
the police cars & ambulance
on their front lawn, right up
against the big maple we had
all climbed together the day before.
Dave was led, in tears, to
the police car.  Russ was carried
to the ambulance, but it didn’t leave.
They’d been playing with their father’s
12 gauge shotgun.  Russ came
around a corner & his brother
shot him in the chest, from the hip.
We didn’t see Dave for a year.
They sent him off to a group home
in Colorado for the 7th grade.
When he returned, he wasn’t the same. 
He cried easily & never smiled.
For awhile after Dave killed Russ,
we all stopped playing war.
None of my friends shot anyone
for the rest of that hot summer
when the war took David’s brother.
6AM morning campfire, orange
firing up the dawn. Fresh 
green spearmint by a clear
stream. Water flows from
cold springs to feed the blue
lake. Minnows gather in
curtains of light. A ski boat
circles, sending waves to smash
the shore, throwing light
skyward, projecting brief
rainbows. Weeds grow from
cracks in an old pier. Rusted
steel upangles from white
sand. Two old dogs play at
waters edge, puppies
at heart. A whoosh of wings
pumps over the lake: white
swans in explosive flight. Down
flutters down to float
on a fluid surface. Boats
sit at tilt on a pebble
beach. A seagull worries
a dead fish, its eyes
long gone, sockets staring at
a sky that stretches out
over clueless cities, by seas
that birth tidal waves aimed
at distant shores, where
campfires blink innocent eyes.
Pretty ballerinas spin
In white gowns, slippers
Never touching ground, below,
Dotted by empty jails, abandoned
Farms & snow-filled, ancestral
Homes.  Clouds play-act beneath
The sun, mocking extinct shapes
Of fish & birds & men.
Shadows whisper
through the halls.
Moonlight licks
against the glass.
Below the window
on the snow
a bird’s ghost
leaves its body
& rises toward the moon.
Someone crying now
in another room.
Something’s going to happen
Sound Off
A loud pavement saw
Rattles through a cement slab
Dust     flies everywhere
Sand    bleaches in the sunlight
Until the hole is refilled
A quick spark ignites
A can of gasoline     flares
The sound pops eardrums
Fire sprays in random patterns
Catching some     missing others
A quiet stream flows
Through a pine & cedar woods
Deer crash    through low brush
Birds & bugs     sound off
Far away, an alarm blares
Ornamental bones
Climb ladders of disaster
A hot breeze laughs
Always wild & welcome
Perpetual pinpricks
Maintain their eternal courses
Shadows vanish in the night
Nothing in the mirror but light
I walk toward ruin
Guided only by the moon
Many men remain mad
At Descartes, who split
Kierkegaard took a flying leap
Camus sank a camouflaged canoe
Nietzsche growled into the mirror
Jean Paul Sartre played it smart
Tzara took off his tiara
Blake jumped in the lake
Army surplus tanks
Shoot blanks into the banks
A loud act of love
Shakes the foundation
Falling trees scream freely
Abandoned avenues echo no more
An egg, emotionally crushed
No one gets the joke
A van vanishes down a long road
A sound drowns in silence
We reserve our opinions
Our private parking spaces
Spring Dawn
Dawn sneaks up on me while I sleep.
Old romances arrive by dream train:
Wind swirls black silk to dance & sway
Seductively beside my old bed.
All night long, loud wind & pelting rain
Lulled me into the other place
& countless blossoms were blown free.
Suddenly awake, I hear explosions:
Crows have come to chatter & argue.
They like to occupy my garden gate,
Only the birds use it these days.
Why worry about the warring world
When I am unmoored & drifting free
Miles away from familiar shores?
Florescent chickens flit on rivers of perfume.
Barbecued worms cry in the tangerine air.
Psychotic armchairs plot revolt against abrasion.
Snow-shovels make obscene phone calls.
Plastic donuts elope with fiberglass carrots.
Canvas meatballs caress concrete overcoats.
Cotton revolvers shoot buttermilk bullets.
Rubber ladders take baths in tomato juice.
Enamel alligators hide in braided sneakers.
Candy-coated rabbits wallow in the nylon gravy.
Corduroy hawks expose themselves
In undersea subways.
Granite salamanders write best-sellers.
Fluid incinerators laugh at gum-drop moths.
A dancer fondles her Danish Modern tits.
A banker rapes a baby in a deserted Art gallery.
A foghorn sings “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Over the petrified harbor.
Wounded pedestrians complain of being hit
By invisible motorcycles.

Vampire pumpkins stalk the greedy night.
Haywire geese plant cuddly bombs in fancy coffins.
Russian pole-vaulters leap walls of food.
Armored bridges dig holes in jelly-rolls.
Surf-fishermen are pulled into the water
With golden hooks sticking through their lips.
A poet put on his Clown Hat
& reads to an audience of panties & bras.
A jockey rides a submachine gun to a photo-finish.
The National Anthem of England is “Surfin’ USA”
Standing Room Only
A family of seven shivers
through a bucket-sized hole
under a rusty border fence,
& squeezes into the United States.
They are fleeing armed thugs
in their native El Salvador
who stole half their earnings
on a semi- weekly basis
under a constant threat of death.
All seven family members
including the twin babies
are severely dehydrated
by the time they are captured
by the U.S. Border Patrol.
They are given water & food
& shuttled off for processing
to a place with no showers.
The mother has to bathe her babies
with water from a garbage can,
but she’s grateful they are alive.
tripping down the stairs
an old man fell to his death
they found him     too late
in his fist     a dark token
the last dollar he’d earned
a bountiful blonde
slipped into the office
to steal     all the keys
while one guard took a slow leak
the other stared     enraptured
a big golden dog
ran into a burning house
with no thought of self
to warn people     she loved
her love     hotter than mere fire
Still Here
I slump
in my black chair.
Whole lives pass
beyond brown eyes.
My thoughts
are with hawks
but engines whoosh
in my spatial ears.
I turn up the music
& dance to the spheres.
My old knees squeak,
knocking against space.
My shelf life
is longer
than my journey.
Seeing a woodpecker
bang an old oak
I think of the time
a lovely redhead
listened to my chest
then struck it repeatedly
in the heart.
Even the continental drift
is nothing
compared to these lost days.
I’m glad I still have you. 
Storm Flowers
I bought chrysanthemums
on the last day of summer.
I made sure to get some in bloom
(white as nothing, yellow as
a soothing dream song) & some
big plants loaded with buds,
ripe with hope.  I like to get both,
to carry us through to the season
when snowdrifts obliterate.
We planted them in rows,
bloomers & budders arranged
to maximize our viewing pleasure.
A week later, bent on revenge,
a storm came with angry wind
& rain that flooded our yard .
In the aftermath, blossoms
floated in a muddy flood
that flowed inexorably into
the thirsty, sucking storm drain.
New blooms opened the next day.
Stumps of a proud generation
Tables of green moss
On a carpet of brown & yellow needles
Blue jay pounds a nut
Red squirrel chitters territory
A roof of tall white pines
Progeny of stumps
Whole counties of stumps
Villages of stumps
Houses of salamanders & centipedes
So much furniture
Left out in the rain
Wood aromatic in wet dew
Shrinking back from its own bark
Histrionic ships
Scream along the coast
Avoiding calmer waters
Great winds
Cross the sky
Just a play of shadows
On a hillside
Wonder where to go
The twister touched down
On the open-palmed field
To pick up some ghosts
Grow in cedar swamps
Favored by the bears
Wind in my face
I beat my way home
Oak leaves go the other way
A stone kisses a wheel
Only to spin away
The wheel rolls on

Yellow maple leaves
Cover the garden beds
Fall nights wear white beards
Geese fly north
Against cold rain
Unaware of direction
Wild strawberries
Grow on low strings
Their fragrance refreshes the spirits of the dead
the crows are squawking
in the windy     pre-storm sky
drowning out the songs
of my happy morning mood
spinning     in another time
the red Chevrolet
spins along the long highway
radio blasting
tuned     to a driving beat
baby     in the hot backseat
a school of minnows
swims through curtains of sunlight
I see them     from on-high
while morning dew         evaporates
beneath a yellowing sky
Summer Storm
Flying leaves & branches
Smacked the window panes
With violent thuds & bangs
Within the desperate sound
Of still-rising wind
Thick with blasting sand
The curtains were drawn
Thick & warm
While the tantrum rain
Flooded the muddy garden
& the roses, in pain
Made their final stand
Against the giant hand
Summertime Blues
            “There ain’t no cure. . .”
                        – Eddie Cochran
It’s a hazy summer night
for an outdoor blues concert.
The small green stage is set
on a hot asphalt parking lot.
The drummer takes off his shirt.
The bass player adjusts his ball cap.
The rhythm guitar unzips his jumpsuit.
The crowd is alert & ready to party.
A local D.J. introduces the band.
They open with Johnny B. Goode.
The frontman is yellow
after his recent liver transplant.
He no longer drinks alcohol, but
he can still play pentatonic scales
all night long or even in his sleep.
Two drunken biker chicks
sway-dance up front by the stage,
over a hill neither saw coming.
Their bleached hair looks tired
despite pink & blue streaks.
Most of the men wear black, with
greasy leather chaps & vests, &
big trucker wallets chained to belts.
They’re in perpetual mourning,
afraid someone will steal their money.
The beer line is long, but
the lemonade man has no takers.
The older bikers sit on lawn chairs,
& arrive in cars or trucks,
but they dress like they still ride.
The younger bikers stand or sit
on or by their big Harleys,
keeping them always in sight.
They stay on the periphery,
where they almost feel comfortable.
But, the band sweats it out
& the crowd gets the beat.                             
The oldsters sway in their chairs
while tipsy dancers rub the stage.
Grace notes rise to the pink sky.
A slow blues hymn ends it
like a cool unexpected breeze.
Bike engines roar on the edge.
A wet encore soars aloft
in the sanctified sunset.
for Charles Selby
We haul our parts around in borrowed trucks,
Call each other up, & fill our cups.
A wooden animal climbs the trunk
Of a twisted pine.  A giant elm
Yearns toward the sun.  We cut it down,
& watch it burn.  It looks like rain.
Squirrels bother the corn.  We talk.  Our sons
Learn to walk.  My house is built
Of concrete block.  You work
In the dark.  Lawsuit.  Spearmint.  Sunflower.
Overdrive.  You wind your father’s watch.  Bogart
Plays the heavy in our dream.  We drink
Our tea with sugar & cream.
A car lost control
& raced up on our lawn
Toward where I sat     alone
It rammed into an elm
Improving     my perspective
One rainy morning
I took an elevator
To the thirteenth floor
Of the tall     Hall of Justice
Rain testified     for twenty miles
Two boys brought their guns
To the crowded high school dance
They shot four people
Many others     took on wounds
Finally     they shot themselves
That’s Entertainment
Bloody soldiers lie like sticks
On a hurricane beach
Bionic limbs replace shot off
Branches, grotesque woodpiles
A posse of killer clowns tunes up
Guided by the grinding wheels of half-tracks
Shells scream through the morning mist
Black smoke swirls over abandoned boots
Greedy leaders take a hard line
Defending the borders of their minds
A militia of monkeys reigns
Over the temporarily insane drains
We’re still marching in perfect order
Into the red-stained, funeral smog
The Broken Lock
The Chevrolet beneath the seaweed
Resembles, say, a pendulum.
In the glacial sewers
They all look like abandoned books.
They gather in fields of blood.
They wait another minute.
Falling faces scrape sharp edges
Against us as we watch the stars.
Our marching machine begins to fill with foam.
Our slowly cracking table says “Goodbye.”
In the prison of the glossy blanket
Strangled paper cars claw in
Sober luxury.  Handgun.  Caress.
Membrane.  Attempt.  A silver
Tunnel carves an orphan
Illustration on our fragile female
Hatchet.  A tiny cutlet
Whirls in nude simplicity.  Our magnet
Signs the blank, transparent
Mortgage of the jealous cartoon.

We take the tapered candles past
A nest of burnt-out lightbulbs.  We
Shake our messy napkins in the
Trans-Atlantic air.  Our teeth
Are scared.  Our hands are
Running in front of
Speeding snake bracelets.  We
Have lost our shoes!  We
Have lost our season tickets!  We
Have lost our fried potatoes!
A placenta of noise
Masturbates in the ambiguous
Bandshell.  Car-pool.  Vendetta.
Banshee.  Balloon.  Barrels of
Dead kittens crouch on stereo
Loading platforms.  Juicy
Manikins balance on
Shrouded pedestals.  Our grief is
Greater than all the porcelain in
Mexico.  Our grief is a polar bear.

Candy-striped plants lean toward
Windows of music.  Strawberries
Buzz obsessively in the creeping
Rain.  Bulldogs escape
Omnisexual worms.  Our
Harmonicas are leaking!  Our
Underwear is illegal!  Our
Grandparents are alive!  Our
Rescue gear is stolen!  We grease
Our feet & slip into the night.
Sandwich.  Beacon.  Crawfish.  Mistake.
Persian maids lounge in secret
Frameworks.  The bells of
Mystery ring a song of strange
Graduation.  Our bluebird
Reeks of soy sauce!  Our bean-bag
Unfurls in hymenal splendor!  We stand
On the threshold of a
Kitchen revolution!  We teeter
Near the edge of an insect rebellion!

Our eyes are bankrupt!  Our
Noses are overparked!  Our
Brains are under arrest!  Our
Bones are bushwhacked!  Our
Hair is ringing!  Our
Legs are braided!  Our
Toes are psychotic!  Our
Hearts slowly stretch in the
Direction of Hudson’s Bay.  Meanwhile,
We hide inside a giant football.
Our bed is stacked with
Grey-haired magazines, squirming
Amid discarded
Hats & umbrellas.  Rusted scalpels
Litter the quaint fairground.  Con
Edison.  Sample.  Woodcraft.
Needle.  The sweet blonde
Morning declares itself.  We
Inhale & hold excited breaths to
See the tortured, raving day approach.
The Circle Expands
We’re tied to the whipping post
By the Great Chain Of Being
An urn of ashes
On a yellowed portrait
Paperweight of snow
A man enters a house
He exits sneaking out
Through a different door
Precarious pines
Grasp a mountain cliff
Clouds scud off to play in Maine
A rusty halo hangs
On an unlit taper
Out of order 
Drunken boys drive
On crazy curves
The smell of gasoline in the air
The bone-handled knife
Was my favorite
I left it on a park bench

We will never escape
The shadows of destruction
Silence a sudden presence
Two tiny buttons
Saved in a box
No one knows who put them there
A bluegill breaks water
At the drop of a fly
The circle expands
The Climb
Tough leather boots
crunch in the loose scree
of a crumpled mountain.
Later they pant by the fire,
with their tongues out,
grinning like good dogs,
sore but ecstatic
in their memories
of running on soft needles
through fragrant pines.
The climber reclines
in his nylon cocoon
to watch the fire story fade.
He dreams he is spinning
in a whirlpool of galaxies
but he feels right at home.
The choir loft was filled with an awful quacking,
as if ducks.   But it was the Clowns.   Their new
When they were in a church, they quacked.   When
in a bar, they barked like dogs.  In courtrooms all
across the land there was mayhem – caused by the
Clowns, chirping like parakeets.
A reporter asked them why they did it.  They
could only meow.  Finally, doctors examined
When the exams were over, neither the doctors nor
the Clowns could do anything but moo.
The Cold
On an early morning in March
a gourmet chef walking his dog
discovered two frozen corpses
beneath an expressway underpass.
One wore four layers of clothing,
the other wore just three.
They were stiff & frost-bitten,
fingers & toes a pale, alien blue,
lips white as a high lone cloud.
A nearby shopping cart held
everything they used to own.
One man had the business card
of a rehabilitation center
with a meth dealer’s number
penciled on the back,
folded in half in his shirt pocket,
close to his frozen heart.
The other clutched
a knife in his stiff fist.
The gourmet chef took the day off.
The Dark Roofs
In the new darkness
The white light of a firefly
Skips     on the thick hedge
It makes us think of fairies
Even though we know better
Wet city streets     shine
Under crisscrossing headlights
Leftover snow     melts
Into the whirlpool storm drains
We breathe the heady spring breeze
The low moon is huge
Surrounded     by distant stars
Silhouettes of trees
Decorate black hills
Bats whirl over     the dark roofs
The Dead
Alfredo wailed to the cloudless sky
when he found his son Juan’s body
along the highway outside their hometown.
Alfredo had been searching for two days.
Witnesses told him that Juan
had been taken by the police,
on his way home from school.
Following a tip, Alfredo
borrowed a car & found Juan.
His throat had been slit.
Juan was nineteen years old
when he refused to join a gang.
Two gangs fought to control Chilapa,
a gateway to the poppy-growing zone,
surrounded by lush, green mountains,
populated by 30,000 souls.
On the Day of the Dead,
Mexicans usually stay in the cemetery
until well past midnight,
draping orange wreaths of marigolds
over the family headstones.
In Chilapa, people leave after noon.
They hide in their homes, doors locked.
Alfredo’s daughter Maria had nightmares.
Gunfire in the street made her cry.
One gang threatened to kill him
because they thought he’d joined the other.
The other gang threatened to kill him
because he still refused to join them.
A few months after Juan’s murder,
Alfredo’s brother Jesus was abducted
by six young men in a black Chevy van.
They beat him & left him for dead.
Days later, the Federales took his nephew Jose.
Alfredo found him dead a week later,
dumped in the same place as Juan.
After that, what was left of Alfredo’s family
fled to America for asylum,
but his parents refused to leave.
They didn’t want to abandon the dead.
As I flew down the raving river,
Free at last of the boatman’s hands
That nailed themselves to my mast,
That forced me into Indian waters,
I did not miss the stinking crew –
Those pawns of English grain & cotton –
They ran along behind me now,
& the river let me freely flow.
In the roar & whipping of the tide,
I, through that snow, like a child’s mind
Rode! & free floating driftwood
Has not known the triumph I have known.
Tempests blessed my mornings on the sea;
I danced on waves as light as foam;
Giant rollers flashed eternal souls,
& at night, I did not miss the lantern’s eyes.
As sour apples are sweet to boys,
The green sea penetrated all my seams,
& wine & vomit washed away,
Along with tiller & chains.
Since then I’ve been bathing in the poem
Of the star-encrusted milky sea,
Drinking in the azure greens, where, pale
& dreaming, a pensive corpse sometimes drifts by;

& where, abruptly blue, delirious & languid
In the burning day, the rhythms of the sun,
Stronger than alcohol, more vast than song,
Churn in the beaming reds of love!
I’ve known the skies of light, & waterspouts & waves;
I’ve known the dark before the rising wings of day;
& sometimes in the twilight I have seen
What other men have only dreamed they’ve seen!
I’ve seen the sun descend, strange  with mystic signs,
Flashing violet arms like an actor
In an antique tragedy,
Tonal waters escaping in simmering mists.
I’ve seen green nights & frozen scenes,
Kisses melted on the eyelids of the sea,
Ancient memories bleeding in a stream
Of golden mornings & blue, florescent songs!
I’ve endured for years the beating surfs,
Mad as crazy cattle leaping for the reefs;
I do not think that Mary’s luminous feet
Could still the muzzle of the growling sea!
I’ve fondled lovely peninsulas,
Mixing flowers with human skin & panther eyes!
Rainbows stretched like endless  bridal chains
Beneath the surface of the crowded waves.
I’ve seen enormous nets, & marshes
Where giants rot amid the reeds;
The sudden splash of white-caps in a calm,
& towering canyons of distant mist.

Glaciers, silver suns, flaming skies, pearl depths!
Hideous wreaks beneath dusty gulfs,
Where a giant parasitic serpent falls
From a twisted tree, reeking black perfume!
I’ll reveal these visions to the children!
These blue surfaces, golden fishes, singing fishes!
The flowering foam has blessed my ride,
& dauntless winds have let me fly!
Sometimes, martyred & weary of zones,
The sea would roll me on her gentle breasts,
& lift me to her shadowed, yellow knee,
& I would sleep upon her lap, then, womanly.
I’ve sailed the isles, my decks awash
With blood & waste of pale-eyed  gulls,
& drifting past my fragile eyes
The sleeping moonbeams fell behind.
I’ve floated lost amid the cove’s hair,
Thrown aloft by storms to where
There are no birds; I could not save the battleships,
My body drunk & bloated there.
Freely fuming, mounted by a purple mist,
I’ve pierced the deep red wall of clouds
With imagery, my poet’s runes:
The lichens of the sun & azure tongues.
Spotted with electric crescent moons,
I’ve danced along a maddened plank,
As spiral hammers clanged against
The slowly burning, sea-blue heavens.
The Forest
Here there are many black trees:
gnarled non-conformists,
each body scarred differently,
each with its own concerns,
own silences.
In spring the seedlings pop,
pushing through the birth-wet dirt,
thirsting fo r the life of light,
straining thin arms toward rain.
Many never make it through the membranes of leaves.
Some grow straight,
assisted by the sun:
their lives will be tall and easy:
a race for the blue ceiling,
a quest for the life of light.
Others will be left below,
prisoned by the darkness
of a taller shadow:
this was meant to be:
the life of desperation for some.
Still others will grow crooked,
like a still-shot modern dancer:
contortions in the wind and rain:
the dance of death’s darkness
around the trunks of the tough.
Here there are many still logs:
corpses lying silently
amid the turmoil of the new generation.
Their influence is felt, acknowledged,
Where they lay a seedling cannot break.
When fall comes the trees
are bare and skeletal.  They
look grotesque with their
thin fingerbones scratching
the cold air.  When the sun
appears it illuminates the
naked bodies and exposes them
in their desperation:
they cling
to the dirt,
roots like
a hand in a
death grasp.
They strangle
Their mother
in their fear
of being raped.
I cannot walk here:
this place is a graveyard of faces:
each tree different:
each holding helplessly
to the breast of the ground.
I cannot walk here,
I fear the desperation
of their black and twisted trunks.
They climbed the hill & watched the forest burn.
She was frightened. He took her hand.  Then he
was frightened too, & lame.
They sold their time & bought a home.  They thought they were alone.
They went out shopping, buying hats, shoes,  gloves,sunglasses, dental floss, earplugs, makeup &  shoe polish. Then they played birthday games.
They sat.  They drank.  They watched their T.V.  sets.  They borrowed pretty thoughts from the past. Each breath they took was nearer to their last.
Then, they died.  Their children grew long hair & cried. They sold their names to buy more time.  They all went  blind.
They traded off their cars for rocket ships, &  flew to Mars. They traveled far & saw Plutonian snow.  Then they went as far as they could go.  They still didn’t know.
They quit.  They fell asleep.  Then we were born & blood began to pump inside one tiny living heart.  The  nerves inside the stars began to pitch & start.
The Light
In a strange, low voice
In the middle of the winter
It is mandatory to deceive
It makes us want to leave
Like an old hammer on the bench
Like people drunk in a dream
My shoes are covered with dust
My tactics are confusing
Someone is always leaving
Someone else covers up the crimes
The rain is the key
The dolls are asleep
There are books in the field
There are boxes of pain
This is where I see it
This light, this sleep, this touch
This is where you dropped it
This memory, this vision of wind
We must make plans
We see the victims, hear their songs
Someone arrived late for
Someone else, who died
Someone came in, afraid that
Someone horrible hid outside
Like a box of raisins, spilled
Like pebbles on the beach
My imaginary range astonishes
My imaginary audience
You dropped the book, picked up the key
You put the dolls to sleep, put out the light
The Mist
I wander
Through memory caverns
In search
Of the elusive present,
Like a big fish
That struggles upstream
To spawn in times river
One last time.
Like a mad wind
In an ancient storm,
Dead friends
Pierce the peaceful solitude
Where I have come
To take my soft rest
In the depth
Of a winter night’s dream.
In the arid badlands
Of desire,
Past the long watches
Of sleepless nights,
I hold communion
With those lost ghosts,
Even as I pass into
The ever-darkening mist.
The Moment
The ocean splashed
Over the rocks
While trees exploded
Along the dusty path
An instant of sunlight
Illuminated the cedars
As seagulls dipped
Above the wilderness of waves
At the edge of the beach
A fir tree tried to sleep
While greedy green weeds
Played a cool jazz beat
An old clown collapsed
Inside the silence of his mask
The Mutants
From the breathless moment
When they first see the light,
They are quite different.
They seem to know no guilt.
They feel no sympathy.
They just like to have fun.
They like hot, bright colors
& loud, red explosions.
They like to go too fast.
Sometimes they are damn good
At math, or even art.
Sometimes they can be smart.
But mostly they don’t care,
So they plot to escape
The prison of your heart.
The Price
Cristina grew up in Romania,
the eldest of five sisters,
all with beautiful blue eyes.
When she was the age of thirteen,
their father died, leaving them
without an income or a home.
Her mother decided to sell her off
to a twenty year old stranger.
Cristina couldn’t avoid it.
He paid enough to get them off the street.
Her new husband had a temper
& he hit her when she resisted him.
Then he took her to live in Spain
& made her steal from stores.
When she couldn’t steal enough,
he made her sell herself for sex,
so she started a secret saving box.
After saving six years, she ran back
to Romania, to see if her sisters
had survived the curse of their blue eyes.
The Run
for Harry Smith
We cannot hope
When the white flame is gone
That other fires don’t burn
Under the flags of ancient ice
Beneath the tears of regret
Beyond the edge of light
Far from their overheated dens
Cold men run to the end
Down the darkened passing lanes
To strange gardens of fire
In wombs where they began
Beyond the porcelain moon
We’ll feel no pain for what we’ve been
Even if it’s never spring again
The Search
Treasure hunters
with metal detectors
search the earth
in likely areas
where architecture flourished
for signs of civilization.
In mounds of peat
we seek for flowing milk.
It will be a happy moment
in the debris field
when the black box of love is found.
Out in deep space our old light
travels to new eyes.
Another sunrise warms earth.
A newborn protests the sudden light.
Belated starlight winks back.
Human tears make a deposit
in a pink cloud bank
on the Western horizon.
In the fading daylight,
seven hundred lamps
in this room we call our own,
& still the shadows beckon.
The Secret
She usually rode her bike
to school, but that day she got
a ride from her mother, so
she was walking home when a
van pulled up alongside.
She quickened her pace down
the tree-lined dirt road.  He
tried three times to coax
her inside, but she wouldn’t
take the bait, so he jumped
out, grabbed her & shoved
her into the back seat. He
showed her the knife & told
her to shut up or he’d
kill her on the spot.  He drove
down a grown-over two-track
to a little clearing, where
he made her pull her pants
down, then took photographs.
When at last he let her go
outside their small town, he said
he’d kill her if she told.
She didn’t tell their secret,
but her mother noticed
that she began to wake up
crying from scary dreams
most nights & got angry
over nothing.  Her father
said it must be hormones
& wondered where the hell
his sweet little girl had gone.
The Song
for Bill Oldenburg (1936-1974)
A child plays quietly
In an old man’s room.
A song of brave infatuation
Rises from the moon.
A windmill spins
Above an ancient heart,
& the crocuses are in bloom.
The broken-hearted bricks
Hum a strange, sad tune.
A newborn child
Emerges from its womb.
It’s morning once again.
I’ll see you soon.
The Storm
Birdwomen ride rainbow bicycles
through flannel forests.
Sirens haunt the coast.
Fish fly from the lake,
circle, & fall dead.
Anvils of the night ring.
Clouds reflect the sea.
Bones orgy incestuously.
Arms break from the ground
in hurricanes of song.
The Sun-Dance People
The Sun-Dance People seek dreams
When life is at a turning point
The Sun-Dance People don’t mind
If a warrior stays home or leaves a battle
A large red bird flies through the room
You can’t see it, but you feel it
You can hear the flapping of its huge wings
While little voices whisper in your ears
These are the Sun-Dance People
The Terms
Mute witness to these killings
Doors slam forever
In your famous nightmares
Blood stains forever
The Swiss Army reputation
When you take the gloves off
You find they still fit
For a moment
The Emperor wore clothes
All ears tuned for the verdict
All eyes glued to the screen
We’ve come to accept as real
Anticipating denial
Of our heart-felt appeal
The Trap
When Muqadas was sixteen
her parents married her off
to a Chinese man
who had come to Pakistan
looking for a bride.
Four weeks later,
she returned to her homeland
pregnant, wanting a divorce
from a husband
who had beaten & starved her.
Brokers in Pakistan seek out
young girls for Chinese men.
They cruise outside churches
to find potential brides.
They are helped by Christian clerks
who are paid to target
impoverished parents
in their congregations
with promises of wealth
in exchange for their daughters.
Parents receive thousands of dollars
& are told their new sons-in-law
are wealthy Christian converts.
The grooms turn out to be neither.
Once inside China, the girls
are isolated in rural villages,
vulnerable to abuse,
unable to escape,
dependent on a translator
for even a glass of water.
They used to get the girls
from Vietnam, Laos & North Korea.
It’s the law of supply & demand.
It used to be “Is she
light-skinned?” Now,
it’s “Is she female?”
Muqadas’ mother was promised
$5,000, including the cost
of the wedding & dress.
She never saw the money.
The demand for brides in China
continues to be high
due to the one-child policy
that slanted the gender balance
toward males, making girls
into a commodity.
Muqadas’ mother wouldn’t let her
move back into her home.
“She is married now.
It’s her life,” she said.
The Vampires
Vampires have a lot
To answer for
They wear formal-wear
While they siphon the blood
From virginal peasants
Many in their own employ
They slink around
Under cover of night
Suddenly appearing
At the sides
Of their sleeping victims
Without regard to privacy
They are sensitive
To the price of silver
As well as certain commodities
Not to mention real estate
Not to mention blood banks
Butcher shops      orthodontic offices
They skip every holiday but one
They are dead on the run
Their memories are long
As are their teeth & nails
But they have no patience
Especially for the weak living
Asleep in material fortresses
Where no mirrors dare reflect
They dream of dying
Until waking to hunt
The souls of the living
Ultimate dark muggers
Who the hell are these bastards?
Why are they in charge?
The streets run red
Streams carry the blood
To the sewer arteries
To mingle with the melting sea
You might be a vampire
If you’re still talking
A year after your funeral
You might be a blood sucker
If you fall asleep
To awaken in somebody’s nightmare
You might be a vampire
If all the murders
Increase your profits
You might be a vampire
If everyone you see
Looks like fresh meat
This would be a good place
To live, if it wasn’t
For the damned vampires
You see them lurking
Everywhere nowadays
Drinking in bars, flying on planes
Plastic surgery.  Cosmetics.  Vodka.
They insidiously develop land deals.
They compulsively gamble in casinos.
Their breath reeks of blood.
Their immortal souls are lost
Forever in congressional rolls.
The Weight
We believed we were alone, so we never saw it
coming. We should have known our parents
and ex-lovers were always there, waiting for the
first thrill to fade.  We never should have
trusted our dogs and cats to keep our secrets to
themselves. A clean slate’s an illusion.  Our
flesh is cinematic and wounded cosmetically.
Our hearts are kaleidoscopic and ravenous. 
Tabla rosa is a delusion.  The only thing to do is
lumber forward, clumsy with the weight. 
That’s what puts the ‘fat’ in fate.
Accidental caterpillars whisper
in the spastic clouds.
Nervous strawberries twist in radial stones.
Bombers drop orange-trees on New York City.
Silver gondolas glide
Between crumbling office-buildings.
Churchbells are made of bones.
Churches themselves are made of meat.
In every clock, there is an egg.
Inside the egg, a tiny suitcase.
Evil peaches lurk
In confessional booths.
Veiled portraits leer
From poison walls.
Worms break through expressways
& fly to Jupiter.
Houses rise from foundations
& stride into the streets.
Wolves chuckle in the libraries & museums.
There are parties in all the graveyard.
Pea-plants sing cantatas in morbid tones.
Hound-dogs whoop in gilded choir lofts.
Zombi women dance in the alcoholic rain.
Mountaineers drink birds’-blood, then disappear.
Yosemite falls, & buries the town of “Desert Madness”.
Volcanos erupt, spewing green apples in giant arcs.
Lakes are replaced by islands.
Islands change into planets.
A girl answers her burning telephone:
Nothing but white trees on the line.
The Wind
Blowing up from
the deep holes
inside the earth,
the nympho wind
is pure desire.
The wind laughs
through our bodies
like wayward lust.
The wind sings
old siren songs
of love & pain
into our rainy brains.
You can feel it
kissing your skin,
& then you hear
your own wild breath
join with the wind
that cries out
like a poem
just before birth.
The Word
Two boys, one black & one white,
were friends in the 4th grade.
Though they usually got along,
one day, during recess, they fought.
Both were angry, so for awhile
they tried to slug each other
until the black boy lost balance
& the white boy sat on his chest.
When he couldn’t break himself free,
the black boy called the white boy
the worst name he could think of.
The white boy didn’t understand.
His mother had taught him
never to use that ugly word.
White horses will rush
From the weird surf.
They will not be tame,
But wild, like rain.
Lustful wind & crazy water
Will beat upon the beach.
The ocean cannot keep them
Locked beneath its sleep.
A torch of morning birds flares
Joyful bubbles of music explode
Redundant black bear on the back deck
Disoriented curiosity of the wild
Dark wounds on drunken willows
Celebrate knots of green light
Hearts glow from old houses
Where candles burned like dreams
Linking flesh beyond limits
We scratch across intentional walls
In rooms down the hall
Priests wield ritual implements
Lay folk kneel in awe
Rain returns as we leave the lodge
Lingering by the plexiglass partition
Like a yellow blanket on a river bed
You slouch in the back row
Staring blindly out the window
Quick locks broke keys up
Imagined as overgrown
The dead whisper insistently
The October wind gives in
In the blood-filled eye
Of the next hurricane
In a year of death by drowning
& honor gained by refusing honor
Emptied of pressing desire
Eternally firing but lethal
The letters labored under parched parchment
Sure sign of a moral compass
Traveling Music
The wounded moon
Begins its long descent.
A stable of restless horses
Whinnies in the glad wind.
Uprooted trees roam South
In search of higher ground.
We are penetrated by the water
Of the perfect rainstorm,
Leaking into the blooded ground,
Leaking into the flesh of stone
Where the hot earth’s heart
Pumps mountains skyward,
To break, like waves
On salty desert plains.
The last time Tammy spoke to her mother
she was desperate in a Utah jail.
She’d phoned her mom every day that week,
pleading, begging for help, for her pills.
She was there for forgetting to report
a change of address to her probation officer.
She had gone down on a drug charge a year ago.
She was bi-polar, with a history
of several suicide attempts.
Xanax was the only thing that kept her calm.
The nurse at the jail wouldn’t let her
have her medication, she told her mom.
“If you don’t help me get my pills,
you’ll be the worst mother in the world.”
Then she hung up.  Her mom called the jail.
She spoke to the probation officer,
who assured her that Tammy
was “always closely monitored.”
The next day was Thanksgiving.
Tammy’s sister called their mother
to tell her that Tammy was dead.
She had hung herself in her cell.
She never did get her meds.
Her mother felt like the worst mother
in the world, just as her lost daughter
had predicted in her final desperate call.
What To Do Next
You arrive at the station
With your pockets full of time.
You’re so invisible
That girls walk right through you.
Throw away your ticket
& skate away.
The clouds burn out
& ashes rain upon your head.
Your bones ache
From being used as jail bars.
Get up & move on
To the next holdup.
A dog on the coffee table!
A roller derby in the ice cream!
A piano roaring down the road!
A monkey with a gun
Has got you covered.
Keep your eyes straight ahead.
She has too much
But she wants a little more.
The room is loud
& the walls are turning brown.
Your ears are burning with old sounds.
Don’t die.
Just take a deep breath,
      get up,
      & fly.
Wilderness Survival
Some loud colors shout at us
from the body of the land.
Out in the ozone, a hole
forms to make an open wound.
The earth’s arms are tied up
& injected with drain cleaners
to break the shale skin,
to frack the frail flesh.
There’s a great party going on
at The Happiest Place On Earth.
Caricatures of zoo animals
excite the children of Generation X,
who know how to survive
in the wilderness of the internet.
Wild Strawberries
Coming across them
Unexpectedly, as
A child, they
Taste as fresh
As red.  Hard
To collect enough
To bring home
For jam, so we
Eat them while we can.
The ocean cannot be contained,
but it can be heard inside a small shell.
Stars we named after ancient Gods
enter & depart in a dream.
They reverberate through
our collective neurons,
back beyond the big bang,
to an infinitesimal compact
of impacted selves,
their endings encoded in
expanding beams of energy.
We move toward the unknown,
blind in every dimension
but our poor human senses.
It’s time to pack our weary trunks
for a much colder climate,
to share each other’s warmth
like stranded survivors of an avalanche.
Molecules material but mortal,
beam to black space as errant waves,
each atom alone but connected,
quarking indeterminate but immanent.
Sweet orgasmic magic of our imaginations
plays on all the pages & stages of our days.
We take a break for the sake of sanity,
as they speak to us, through us & for us.
Then we cast them into the frozen fire,
transformed again into invisible wings.