Monthly Archives: February 2014


oh, oh,
oh, oh…

a ripple.

A ripple
at the nipple.

Supple and 
apple-sweet, it
peaks, peeks out
the nip fantastic,
rhythm of apple-ripple
under and around 
the nipple…
oh, oh, 
oh, oh, oh…

I feel that. (Feel that?)
That feel? Can you, 
can you, can you
feel that
as you should,

oh, how then
to honor 
skin so shy, shy,
shrinking back
tipping the ripple
and back, around
round, apple bump red
sweet skin taut
and night shine soft,
crisp to the tooth…

a tipple-full night
sweet bumps and
suspended chords
in our throats, 
slip-whip-snap of head
and night long arc of swing
and fumble

rumble-ripple — 


the jumble swift
rolling sea of this,
this beach head
the orchard of night, this

all started

with ripple
at nipple,



The War

Brothers in white
on the sidewalk,
arms linked, deep
eyed, silent.

Sisters in white
behind, before, surrounding,
singing minor, singing anger,
singing rejection hymns.

Children sink to the lawn,
draw in their heads, 
huddle like rocks.
Hiding is the new playtime.

Sky, once shelter,
once cathedral ceiling,
cracks all across, one 
horizon to the next.

We are either ahead of 
the War
by mere 
seconds now 

or we are in it
and still
can’t understand
that it is here.

Clarity: Fragment

The feeling stirred 
by dawn 
sliding through a 
dirty window
is our

The longing to bathe
in fluid light,
to swim 
in gold poured
from a fortunately
broken sun:

that’s the hope
carrying us all
through dark.

Quick plug for The Duende Project…

…which is my project that weds music and poetry into a genre some call “wordrock.”  There are a number of bands in the genre and we pride ourselves as being frequently mentioned as one of the best.

The band features Chris O’Donnell on drums; Chris Lawton on electric and acoustic guitars, resonator guitar, mandolin, and banjo; Steven Lanning-Cafaro on electric bass, stand up acoustic bass, and nylon-string guitar; and yours truly on vocals and occasional electric and acoustic guitars.  

If you’d like to hear some of our jazz/funk/rock and poetry, and maybe even purchase a track or two or a whole album, the link is:



We Shall One Day Gladly Pass From This World

Caught napping
and nebulous, infirm,
soft edged,

snapped back to semi-solid
at once.  Did someone
knock?  Jump
at that door and pull it wide

open and no one’s there but
a wisp bowing invisibly.
You see it because you’re still
mostly wisp right now

so it’s kin and it’s bowing
then straightening up, slides
past you to the couch, takes
your spot.  You step out

into the hall, the door locks
behind you — what now?
Everyone for miles
is sleeping.  Start knocking

on doors and bow
when one opens for you
even if the occupant
can’t see you — in fact,

especially then.  This is how
you learn to be nebulous,
cloud-caught, more thought
than flesh.  It’s a process,

not an end result; you realize this
when you jump from the next couch
you’ve usurped and are in the cold
again, when you go out to the street

and recognize all the spirits
and see that they have the same
indistinct, tender face
that you now bear.

Goal Setting

If you want
to succeed
every book
on success
will tell you
the secret,
will speak of

how important
is the setting of 
personal, inspiring
goals, how 
one must

set a specific,
measurable, attainable,
relevant, trackable
goal, set it in an
“achieves what outcome
by when” format, and

set that sucker
so that it
motivates you,

so that the languge
of the goal
drives you on toward

so that
the wording itself
compels you forward,
becomes a whip urging
an exchange of pain 
for gain, 

in other words,
cast a spell with
a set of words chosen
to make something happen.
Make magic of your
holy desires

and then, of course,
plan your work
and work your plan,
set step goals, 
focus on milestones,
adjust as needed,

remembering that
a person without clear goals
is used by someone who does —

that’s the Right Path
for us all,
a road full of users
and those being used
marching ahead
chanting our goals
and hoping
someone among us
inspired by maintenance
cast a goal
about fixing potholes
and getting the bridge
back in place
before we get there
and work our planbound feet
right into the Abyss.

At The Guitar Shop

Clean look,
dirty sound.
Simple as water
over stones,

built to be
capable of 
peeling paint
and then brushing on

a transparency
that reveals
the grain
and nothing else.

Keep the 
the volume up high enough
and the tone will 
take care of itself.

One chord
tells you
everything you need
to know.

It’s strong
up against you
and the vibrating
might not stop,

not ever.  All
your chakras are shaking
from root
to crown 

and with that chord
a song was just born
so there’s no choice now
but to take this home 

and play along.


there may be
virgin forest
and fast moving
clean streams.

there may be
no evil done 
and perfect love
for all comers.

there may be 
an “elsewhere”
still free of the consequences
of what happens here.

You find that place,
you keep it to yourself.
Don’t come running back
to tell us about it, please.
We’ll miss you, of course,

but if you don’t come back
and brag about it,
we won’t follow you 
to trample it and become
the death of the possibility.

Your disappearance will break us,
true, but if it represents someone
finding the last happiest
place on Earth
and dwelling there forever,

we will heal 
more quickly.
We’ll be happier — not
the way you’ll be happy,
but it will have to do.

Interpretation Of Dream

Yes Sir
it’s true

I won’t know
upon waking
who you formally
claim to 

but walking with you
tonight has been 
like walking with
Great Ghost of All-History
water bearer
of all expressions 
of the Human
understander of all things
knower of everyone

When we jointly put our hands
on the Stone
by the shore
I felt a little 
of how it must be
to be you
I get why
you say so little

If there’s as you say
nothing to the God
we believe in
or nothing to
how it’s 
if we’ve been wrong
I can accept that

the Stone
has hold of the Truth
and I have had hold 
of the Stone

yes Sir
I will wake up
unable to explain this
but confident
and assured that 
from now on
all I need is the shore
and the Stone
and your whispering certainty
— one Word only —
across my ear


feed in a
of small bites
which are
swiftly deadly;

they leave
clean bones;

put their
back in waiting.

for piranhas
a meal
is eaten
and soon forgotten

but we
get chewed up,
spit out,
healed a little, then
thrown back in

They’re bored
with us but
can’t help tearing in
with savage,
jaded mouths

and it’s no less
horrible for us
because it’s

Angel Dog

Damn those
modern commercial
tales of angels
worthy of no song
worthy of nothing
but to be spit out

Damn the soft way
we’ve made angels
so gentle
Made them human

Better and more true
to see them as
of a Heaven
of savage graces
beyond our puny visions

Sing therefore
the existence
of an angel
who has taken
the shape of a dog
and fallen from
the sky’s mouth
to this profane floor
where we live

Sing therefore
of this Angel Dog
landing upright
and snarling
with the holy blind rage
of Primary Being

Sing therefore
not of heavenly hosts
but of packs 
Not of divine choirs
but of mobs
Not of hymns
and plainchant

Millions upon millions
howling a dissonant storm
behind Angel Dog
Throats open teeth 
ablaze tongues
solitary flames
massed voices 
a great wind

You have taken
Primary Being
from being present
in all faces
to being present 
in only one and
some of you see
Primary Being
as non-existent
Some of you shrug

and say it’s not 
worthy of

What you can know
of Primary Being
would not fill
a baby’s thimble
would not open
a cracked egg
would not turn
an open lockbox key

Angel Dog
splay legged
war stance
standing before
the Pack of Heaven

All you can know
of Primary Being
is how to lie still
when it lands upon you
Breathes in your face
Growls in your ear
Shakes you in its mouth
Tosses you up
Is gone when you land
If you are lucky
If you are lucky
Get up and sing
of the Angel Dog

licking his jaws

Perhaps one face of God
is all you can handle 
so let it be mine
Let it be mine

Questions Of Faith

A priest in a documentary
is speaking of Jesus.
I close my eyes
and his voice reminds me
of Ringo Starr.
If Jesus had been 
the Beatles’ drummer,
to what would John
have compared them?

My cat’s up on
the TV stand, 
swiping at the screen
which currently shows
the crucified Christ.
She wipes her paw
over thorns and drops
of blood.  Is this
care, concern, 
hunger, curiosity,
or a lesson about
the humilty of Jesus?

I recall that
I once knew a woman
who had three pictures
on her living room wall:
one each of Jesus, JFK,
and Carl Yastremski.
Does size matter?

Where I live now
on Sunday mornings
I can hear the bells
of St. Gediminas, 
high on the hill.
All I feel at my age
is fatigue and irritation
at being awakened.
Does this count 
as a tribulation
sent by the Almighty?

When I am chided
for my irreverance, 
I think of my youth and of
the child-raping priests
in my parish.  I think
of my good fortune 
and the bad luck of 
some of my friends.

Am I being
irreverent enough?
How much disrespect
is not remotely enough?
What distance placed
between my former faith
and my present soul
could possibly be enough?

At Both Ends

Here’s to a celebration
of what is not applicable
or practical —

let’s have dancing,
revelry, let’s not take
anything seriously — let’s have

a feast of irrelevance
and thank our sweetest deities
that we can do this.  We are

so mad for utility,
lost in frumpy process,
certain of our opposition

to foolishness — well, let’s have
no more of that tonight.  Let’s
cut a fat rug down to size

with our feet,  get a smile on
with a touch of booze, a whiff
of weed, a dangled offer

to flirt our way to something
of no importance beyond
joy in this moment.  Damnation

and strict tempo be gone!  Frowning
and insistence on decorum,
begone!  If anyone dares to say

we’ve got too much time
on our hands, that we are
wasting our lives, let them be gone!

We know one true thing:
in fact there is
far too little time

to justify spending it
on tired trudging and slow
focus. Let’s instead

burst into full brilliance,
and see what we can see
by our own rough light.


I was not cut
from my family tree
to be a torch;

should have been
a table or sturdy chair
like the rest of them.

I shocked them
when first I

and when I then
blazed up and began
to be consumed

in fire, when I blackened
into checkerboard
scars of char,

it was too much and
they looked away.
I did not blame them

for that. I would have preferred
their comfort and utility
too, but now I

am fully alight. I touch tinder
into flame.  I scare monsters,
disappear once I am done.

They follow their destiny.
I follow mine.  Together, separately,
we make this world.


Snow again
last night.

My memory
of its usual trials
is tempered now by
early morning
and by how our yards

Tempered by
the world
shifting rapidly,
making us forget pain
when we are struck by
the right trick
of light…
we’re such fickle beings…

I do not say
it’s always right or proper
to stop to see such shining
in a place that so frequently
tortures so many,

but how else,
and for what other reason,
would we go on?