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Sunday, August 27th 2017

10:09 AM

What Poets Hear When They Listen to the Children

  • Mood: Grateful
  • Music: Family of the Year

         “Everyone deserves a chance to

           walk with everyone else.”                                        

                                   from Hero


                              Family of the Year

Yes, they do. Brown with white, black with yellow, red with rainbow, male with female and all the possible variations on that gender equation in this world of sexual fluidity we're finally waking up to.

We deserve this.

As we move forward into these unsettlingly déjà vu times, times in which we've already identified the efforts being made to divide us and drive us to perpetually warring with one another, listen to the voices of the children for guidance. Hear the clarity of their vision. They sing from a place of heartbroken innocence. They can see what we lost sight of as we ourselves struggled to make our way while trying to make sense out of the senseless; found ways to adapt, to survive those Black Mondays and Incidents in New York and dark black nights in November.

Let's not lose sight of the importance of love. Of taking that chance to walk with everyone else. Or of how hard it has become to simply have that comforting pillow on which to lay our heads and whisper those lost dreams to one another.

Let's not put blinders up to the impact three thousand years of patriarchal misogyny have had on the very foundation of our relationships with each other. It is there from whence racism and all other forms of “Othering” come. “They,” no matter how you want to identify them, have nothing to lose and everything to gain by keeping us separate, lost in this dark place in the illusion of being stuck.

I always thought the way out was to go through it, but poet Lew Welch said the way out is out. For me, it's been the voices of the children that have led me out of that darkness and into the light. Listen....




“Let me go
I don't wanna be your hero
I don't wanna be your big man
I just wanna fight with everyone else
Your masquerade
I don't wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else
While holding down
A job to keep my girl around
Maybe buy me some new strings
And her a night out on the weekend
We can whisper things
Secrets from our American dreams
Baby needs some protection
But I'm a kid like everyone else
So let me go
I don't wanna be your hero
I don't wanna be a big man
I just wanna fight with everyone else
So let me go
I don't wanna be your hero
I don't wanna be a big man
I just wanna fight with everyone else
Your masquerade
I don't wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else”


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Monday, July 3rd 2017

4:49 PM

Requiem for Fine China & Southern Comfort

Requiem for Fine China &

    Southern Comfort


Of all the poets I've loved

none loved the sound of their own words

more than you, and between you and me

it was with good reason.

They were fine words.


You'd lay out fine china

on the linen with words most would

reserve for good company and get away with it

because anyone could see how fine the bones were

that carried this poem's weight and that one's brainchild

without wincing beneath the strain of it

– and isn't it always the bone structure

we look at to determine good breeding?


Of all the poets I've loved

none killed themselves more slowly

than you whether by powder and mirrors

or just smoke and mirrors or perhaps

those Scarlett O'Haras you brought back

a taste for from your brief marriage

to that stripper in the French Quarter.


I never told you, did I?

I always suspected it was the Southern Comfort

you loved the most down there.


Because when you were leaving this northern light

awkwardly shaping words of my own out of moss,

it came to me I would remain your afterthought

for as long as it still mattered enough to bother counting the headstones

filling my photo album as first Anne and then Jack from the bottom of a bottle

and finally Bradley from atop the Sequoia – where he knew he would find the perfect poem –

disappeared into that carved granite, leaving only words.


And you would return to editing your

last will and testament carefully,

tediously, with no reason to rush things.

Except that last kiss

the one only one of us knew would be our last.

I never sent word I'd gone south

to see if I could find any words finer than yours

or perhaps at the very least some Southern Comfort of my own.




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Tuesday, February 21st 2017

4:54 PM



These are the rooms we live in
believing when we close the doors
that separate them
we are anything but connected
to whoever it is on the other side
but it takes more than a door to divide us.

(It takes the doors of perception.)

This is the house that holds those rooms
where we believe when it burns down
it affects only us
though there are families
in other rooms
with altars to the gods
of their choosing
and tabletop fountains
that can never hold enough water
to put the fire out even if they didn't start it.

(It's still up to us to put it out together.)

This is the roof that shelters our rooms
whether thatched or shingled or corrugated tin
it's what we all agree we must have
to keep us safe when the sky is falling
to have a place to practice our drums
and sing our hymns and commit those sins
for which we ask forgiveness on our better days
and other days point the finger of blame
at those living in other rooms.

(We still live in these rooms together.
 Regardless what divides us.
 Under the same roof.
 Managing the same



Photo: Vlad Dumitrescu


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Friday, April 22nd 2016

7:20 PM

When Raised by Princes

  • Music: Prince: Purple Rain





This is what happens when royalty

which exists independent of the empire,

which springs from the loins of the tribe itself,

makes it past the checkpoints

& other measures meant to filter them out.


This is what happens when that royalty

follows the trail of impossible chords

& turns of phrase unearthed

by the simple human condition

shared through this common experience:

doves cry all along the watchtower

and we are destined to be left standing one day

beneath a collective purple raincloud.


& I wouldn't have it any other way.

That's how it is with families.

We do what we can to raise each other up

the best way we know how.




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Tuesday, September 9th 2014

11:24 AM





This was the scent that marked the end of summer

and the inevitable waltz into autumn's

colorful dance of crisp air and sweaters:

Cousin Tommy's delivery of

his annual bushel of gravensteins

from the tree at the end of his drive.


This was an afternoon of peeling and slicing -

always with the sharpest of paring knives -

never, ever with one of those newfangled things

made for the woman too helpless to handle a knife.


This was the trip downstairs to the big freezer

with trays of sliced apples to quick-freeze

while applesauce simmered upstairs

on the stove top and canning jars sterilized

in the hot water bath drawn for the occasion.


This was the cooking lesson given

at the kitchen counter

because every good woman must know

how to make a pie crust from scratch

and how to fill it with the perfect thin slices

tossed in sugar, a pinch of salt

and some lemon juice.


This is the scent that each year fills my kitchen

and for an evening transports me back

to that table where I watched the good woman

take that first satisfying bite and felt the season

wrap its arms around me and deliver on its warm

sweet promises once again.


For Betty

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Tuesday, July 29th 2014

10:38 AM

Diogenes Shrugged

Diogenes Shrugged


“Fuck Atlas,” she sighed,

pouring another glass of wine

and adjusting her tiara.

“He doesn't interest me nearly as much

as that dude who wandered through the dark

looking for an honest corporation.”


I didn't have the heart to tell her

she had it wrong

or perhaps she didn't have the heart to tell me

she had it right.


The Barefoot Corporation is slouching toward Bethlehem

and we are freezing to death in the heat of global warming

that cannot be agreed upon. Pundits quote experts

that I have no lines for, as the Expert Poem

has already been written and discarded

as inadmissible evidence

of this endless effort

to divide us along lines

that keep us in




unable to draw a circle at least

a hundred feet round

and use what we find within

to think our way







For G


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Thursday, May 29th 2014

9:32 AM




painted lady
i cannot take my eyes off
& by noon i am drunk
on her perfume
this wild bouquet
between my teeth
stumbling up
the aisle of spring
as if this all wasn't new
not at all concerned


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Tuesday, December 24th 2013

10:11 AM

Of Cabbages and Kings

  • Music: John Lennon, Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Of Cabbages and Kings

December licks the winter garden with an icy tongue
and I am left to wonder if there will be too little green
to gift neighbors with on the eve of newborn Kings.

Despite tales of old and promises of eternity
I begin to suspect this is no longer the season of wonder
of miracle births and hope for resurrection.
The focus was long ago shifted to the gifts
that were brought to the manger
and now we must recreate that legend in order to stay asleep
in the dream that it was really all about the shiny things.

I do little more than celebrate the birth of a modern King
with cabbages I dig from this impossible soil
and see my worth defined by how much green I produce.
The King nods his head in approval
and defines the fallow gardens unwilling and therefore unworthy.
More cabbages are laid at his altar in support
of his exhortations as I eye the compost bin
and wonder how much of what he says will fit inside.

I contemplate the prospect of living on nothing but cabbages
for the rest of the winter and realize I would need
to wear loose fitting clothes and keep all the windows open
to accommodate the bloat and vent all the gas
that invariably builds up.

Christmas 2013

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Tuesday, August 6th 2013

12:29 PM

Mom's Angel Cake


Mom's Angel Cake

Sift one and a half
cups sugar. Measure
one cup cake flour
before sifting. Sift
three times with one
half cup sugar and a
half teaspoon salt. Whip
twelve egg whites until
foamy. Add one teaspoon
cream of tartar and beat
until soft peaks form.
Add one cup of sifted sugar
one tablespoon at a time and
continue to beat after each
addition until thoroughly
incorporated. Fold in
one half teaspoon each
vanilla and almond extract.
Sift in fourths the flour
mixture into the beaten egg
whites and gently fold in.
Pour into an ungreased tube
pan and bake at three hundred
fifty degrees about 45 minutes.
Invert on a bottle and allow
to cool completely before
attempting to remove from pan.

Every year on August 6
we have my mother's favorite cake
with strawberries and whipped cream
and we remember. Although some
may disagree with me,
I think the only complaint she
really had about this country was
that they bombed Japan on her
birthday. It became her preference
thereafter to spend that day
contemplating those who were
already in the arms
of the angels.

(with special thanks to Robbie XII)



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Friday, November 11th 2011

11:25 AM

The Autumn Poem

  • Mood: cool
  • Music: Season of the Witch

The Autumn Poem


autumn regains composure,
smooths her rumpled skirts
and casts a sharp, cold glance

morning brings no offerings
to the lovers.
what lingers in their hair
what remains a fixture
when they part, is the silence

autumn crosses her legs
as i walk past her blue eyes
into noon. (my hands, white,
shake with a seasonal indifference)

the lovers, trembling with
an equal cold they have
prepared as excuse, lift
their hearts for one last
measure of rehearsed joy

muttering about the cost
of oil, i leave the furnace off
& autumn snickers.
she quotes the price for any
source of warmth this season

nothing is spared
in the silence.
all things, within reason,
go unspoken
as the lovers escape
their nightly promises

although it is refuge
from this cold i seek,
autumn offers me her hand
& i take it, a gamble
i hadn't anticipated making
until considering that
no matter how many times she leaves
she will always be back  

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