Monthly Archives: December 2022


People think these are poems
But they are more like adjustments
My bones crying out like
A door’s being shut

People worry my frame
sounds just like a breakdown
When comes the adjustment
You will hear me crack

If they call me to answer
they can call me in Hell
I shall have my phone silenced
for I break when it rings

People ask for more
and then more of the same
From a man who can’t answer
without crumbling within

They think these are poems
I’m stretched to create that
Stretched to create this
and I still can’t stand straight

If pain is a virtue
I’m topmost among angels
If poems are adjustments
why am I still so bent

The Nicknames

Five-thirty AM, a couple of days after Christmas. 
The street is grinding awake again as always,
as it did every day before the holiday pause.

Across from us the neighbor we call
“Jeep Lady” (to distinguish her
from “Escalady”) is trying to figure out

how best to pull her Grand Cherokee 
out of its tight spot into the road.
Her wheels grumble in the gravel

left by the sanders and salters
as she twists them back and forth
until she can pull out and drive away.

The black Escalade won’t be moving 
until later on when “Escalady” comes out
to take her baby to daycare before work.

Next door the cabbie on the first floor
gets his motor running long before he leaves
for the long day ahead. We don’t have

a nickname for him yet. They just moved in
in early December and there’s been no storm
thick enough for the bonding ritual

of pissing and moaning to each other
while shoveling out
our driveways. 

The junkie who lives upstairs from us
(who we unaffectionately call “Shithead”)
has already gone and come back from the clinic

as he does every day before dawn. His rotten 
Hyundai makes a sound when it turns over
like the slide whistle from a circus act. 

Here I am, at work before any of them,
my old but solid Subaru cold in the driveway,
my love’s Beetle parked until its repair appointment

next Monday. And nothing is moving here
but my fingers. What do the neighbors
call me? A bum? A writer? How would they know?

That fat guy with the fallow container garden along the fence
and the frozen solid compost tumbler?
I doubt that they think much of me at all,

as I don’t think much of me — one of those
who sits and observes and then talks about
sitting and observing and doing it again tomorrow.

New Year’s Day soon. 2023 looming ahead.
Gotta feeling ’23 is gonna be the same year
as ’22. It’s almost like the Who said years ago

in that obscure song from “Tommy”
except in the song they expected a good year,
and I’m not expecting anything anymore.

Not a nickname from a stranger.
Not a change in the view from this couch.
Not a chance in hell of avoiding a storm.

The Invisible Man

I once knew a man
who existed so completely 
within his own invisibility
he lived a lifetime
not as much in the shadows
as in the light which gave them birth.

He could go anywhere
and be anything. Often enough
that meant he’d be standing
in the halls of power, so to speak,
and being invisible he was able
to whisper into power-filled ears 
and make the ministers think
they had brilliant ideas
all on their own. 

Just as often he’d stroll about
among common folk
and listen to them, now and then
easing their minds with advice
and offering insight into their problems
which he’d gleaned from listening
to their loved ones complaining
about their foibles and faults. 

Now and then, 
he would push an evil one
into suicide. Called that
their due but never 
cheapened it with
pretending it came with 
glory for himself.

Acting as such a God
gave him a certain gravitas
he always tempered with wit
and a touch of sorrow.
“With great stealth 
comes great possibility,”
he’d intone.  And then
he’d vanish again
and I’d be left
to make sense of and act
on what I’d heard,
which was only a chore
if I forgot how easy it was
for him to be completely present
without being unduly seen,
and if I forgot
all he had ever taught me
about how to do the same. 

I Got Things To Do

I got things to do
and I can’t get up and do them
It’s too late to begin in this time zone
Too early to begin in others 
and the places where it’s the right time
are too far away to get to in time 

I have many things to say
and the time I have left to say them
is running short
Some of them I need to find the words for
and some of them I need to invent words for 
but most of them are likely to remain unsaid
and people will wonder
for at least ten minutes after the end
what was so important that I died
from choking on those stiff syllables

I missed looking into eyes
as much as I should have
I missed listening to undertones in other voices
and distinguishing them from my own head-voice
I should have picked fewer pockets for love
and laid my own meager holdings out to more people
We would all have been the richer for it

But now I got things to do
It’s snowing nearby and getting closer
Warmer is better than freezing
I’m freezing though the house
is warm and there’s little threat
that anything about that will change
The shiver within is from knowing
what won’t get done and said
before I slowly come to a full stop
staring at a finish line no one else can see

Wake And Bake

Wake and bake kinda morning
as I’ve tried everything else
I can’t stand the thought
of walking into dawn
unguarded within

Sweethearts of the Internet
see love messages in their oatmeal
and tarot callouts in the way the storm
has tossed my bird feeders to the ground
strewn around for the picking

like a Tarot card
like the Five Of Swords

Wake and bake this morning
as I’ve tried religion and atheism
in equal measures overnight
and I still can’t understand
the dark gifts I carry to my day

Sages on the Internet
claim everything’s so obvious
it barely needs explanation
If the windows don’t hold up in this gale
the shards will surely open me

make me readable
make of me a pigeon’s innards to scry

Wake and bake this morning
as I have nowhere to be
that requires patience and balance
neither of which I have in any amount
worthy of calling upon today

Tricksters on the Internet
will tell you what you want to hear
I want to hear shovelfuls of earth
trenches and moats being dug against
whatever may swarm up from within

the horde liberated and seeking to feed
the horde with opened mouths and here they come

Wake and bake so
I will feel less of it
when I fall


Toward The Summit Of Your Favorite Song

have you danced 
too much already, beloveds?
did it all when you were young
and had the legs for all night music,
the lungs to scream and raise your arms
toward the summit of your favorite song?
haven’t you aged into rest and being satisfied 
to have the dark bright memory
of how you moved along the walls 
of the basement club with the dirt floor corner,
the college bar with the lights out
on the long unused top floor,
the unlocked stairway up,
the corner full of the mushroom scent
of lovemaking and trepidation? 
haven’t you danced yourself to a point
where you don’t need to dance any more
than maybe one more spin 
through one more memory
of fresh human touch 
filled with the expectant danger
of rejection, or maybe just your body
not being able, not being close
to able to shake your leg or your ass
as you once did, the ecstasy of fast,
the ecstasy of slow, the ecstasy of 
memory, the replacement of current
sorrow with a memory of sweat?
beloveds, don’t you wanna dance
all the way to the end of your time?

Coal Tar Blues

Revised, from June 2022.

As if to spite my being human, 
I’m rusting. 

Age, diabetes,
long lack of self-care —

I soak myself in coal tar
for flaking on the surface,

the scent filling every space
in all my rooms; then

take pills and talk for
my internal disrepair,

each breakdown with unlikely odds
for repair.

Nothing about any of this
is temporary or acute.

Chronic is my name,
now — we speak of conditions,

not illnesses; talk of status quo or
increase and not of progress.

Coal tar and skin creams —
odors of one failure

to treat myself
correctly, or so I tell myself.

Others say buck up, it’s not
a fault or a punishment, you

needn’t club yourself with that one,
no matter how good it feels

to feel that bad at times — 
and indeed, there is a sort of blessing

in the hours after
I step out of the shower

onto an apparent path
to normalcy;

but then I lose my way as I start
the day. I tell the others, 

you think so? Then come live in here
and tell me I’m not right

to feel such guilt for becoming hollowed.
I need something to come alive 

in my old center, to build
there as I fall apart.

Comes a point when everything done right
is still not enough, and hope

becomes not a right but
a privilege, just a way

of passing time before time laughs
and then kills; as the scent

of sulfur becomes so strong
you can’t tell

whether it is coming from inside, 
outside, or both. 

Obligatory Christmas Poem, 2022

The signs
they hold up


Many include a sketch
of a Christmas tree or say
Merry Christmas as well

They stand upon
the entrance ramps to
malls and big box stores

where shoppers have to wait
to get into the lot and when 
a signer passes their car

they look away or discard 
a quick buck out the window
then roll it up 

to keep private heat
and the hallelujah chorus 
in the car

and no better than that look at me
dropping a heavy metaphor obviously
onto this from on high

as if it ever matters what parallel 
anyone draws about jesus
blah blah blah

joseph and mary
blah blah blah
no room at the blah blah blah

merry christmas
or whatever you got
to offer

in light of the sight 
of her wet blue eyes
above her sign

his beard
combed out for the season
above his sign

the people
queued up
below commerce’s sign

tomorrow never comes
without posting a sign
of its arrival

of hopeful prophecy
blah blah blah

Play It As It Lays

The bones
were rolled for you at birth.
They chose your great adversary:
maggots, melancholy, militia…?

You decide
what’s next:
double down 
or bow and fold. 

How you come
to your war
once you’ve chosen
your battlefield

is the battle.
Is history’s gamble, not yours.
Listen: the house
is snickering.

A Razor And A Ring

cleaning out
an old apartment
(new to you)

unremarkable contents
of the cheap and shallow
medicine cabinet
include a straight razor
with one massive nick
in its rust-flecked blade

bottle of iodine
wood-shafted cotton swab
on the glass shelves lined
with folded paper towels

as stated
for a kid’s ring 
plastic shank
set with plastic gem
centered by itself
on one shelf

imagine that kid
now an adult wondering
where her ring had gone
although it’s more likely that 
she doesn’t remember
at all
her onetime treasure
left behind
for you to find
in an old apartment
(new to you)

you will
soon enough
toss those abandoned artifacts
into the trash
as you prepare  
the place where you
are going to live
to be your own

a new place
to leave your stuff
when you go

Happily A Worm

I think I could be
happily a worm

if I was not so terrified
of ending up drowned
on a concrete walk
after a storm

Forced to leave
dark soil
surrounded by roots
where I’d been
most grounded
or worse
desiccated upon
a blacktopped driveway

where even
the slightest sunlight
could take from me
my pink life
and leave behind
my dark leather corpse

Even the robins
will not take that

Will leave me instead
to disappear bit by bit
into a trail of ants
bearing me
down the hatch
into their small volcano
of a home
in the sand
along the fence

I could be happily a worm
if I knew I’d be 
forever or for at least a few seasons
away from all
grounded and blind

The Poetry of Place: Formal announcement of the workshop

This will serve as the formal announcement of…my first virtual poetry workshop!

“The Poetry Of Place” will be held via Zoom on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023 at from 2 PM to 4PM EST.

In this workshop, we will look at how incorporating vivid, arresting sensory imagery can stimulate and energize your writing. We’ll look at examples of such poems and at some ideas about why this kind of effort is vital to The Work regardless of genre. (While we’ll be focused on poetry, you can use this information in long fiction, short fiction, etc., just as easily.)

Although the workshop will include some writing exercises and opportunities to share, it’s not primarily designed to be a generative session; I hope that instead you’ll leave with some ideas and a sense of what is possible when you “ground” your own Work in a strong sense of place.

For the record? I’ve got 30+ years of experience as a trainer and workshop facilitator for various corporations, non-profits, and government agencies, but this will be the first time I’ll use those skills for a personally developed topic. It likely won’t be the last…

The cost to the general public* is $35.00 for the session, payable through:

(if asked for a # after that, it’s 4124)



Last day to join up is Friday, January 20. **

I’d love to see you there. Drop me a line through here or at the above email address with any questions.  


*Patrons of my Patreon site in the $10/month or higher tiers may attend for free. 

** For security reasons and to help prevent Zoom bombing, I will send participants the Zoom link once payment is made or (for Patrons) once a confirmation message is sent to me on the site. 

The Poetry Of Place

I will be running a poetry workshop, open to the public/free to members of my Patreon site at the $10/month level and up, on January 22, 2023.  Time and Zoom link TBD at this point.

The link below will get you to a video that explains the workshop and what we’ll be striving to accomplish. 

If you are not a Patreon member, the cost for the workshop is $35.00, payable by Venmo.  Send me a message for the link.

I’d LOVE to have people there who are regular readers of the blog, so…let me know!


The Poetry Of Place

The New Tattoo

A new tattoo on my mind.
Simple banner: “I Am A Bad Person.”

Placement yet to be decided. 
Naked body in the mirror:

across my chest, above my heart?
Others could easily see, and I would too.

Would the message sink in from there?
I look myself over again.

Down my dominant forearm
where it would remind all 

of my strength and weakness at once?
Ah, but then I could pull my sleeve down

and no one would know. So,
forehead instead? Maybe doubled

in reverse so that my mirror 
would tell me the tale, too? 

Do I want that level of 
awareness? Instead of that

perhaps two banners,
one on the bottom of each foot. 

I’d walk that message everywhere.
It would not be obvious to others

but I’d always know
what was haunting my steps.

Maybe I’ll just keep it quiet and run the banner
right across my lower gut, right above my privates.

Only those close enough to already know
would ever see. By that point

it might mean nothing to them
and might only bring a quick pang for me. 

Talking About The Night

Originally published in 2002 in my chapbook, “In Here Is Out There.”
Original title, “Talking To My Son About The Night.”

I have been thinking:
what do I tell my children about the night?

Something wicked these days
stirs in the night,

and I cannot lie to them
and say shh, be still,

all is well, 
we are safe.

Instead I will tell them the night
contains both darkness and light.

I know the light may also hide darkness,
but I shall hold back on that, at least for now —

so what shall I say to them
of darkness in the night?

I will say darkness is a young man
holding a knife to a lamp.

He adores how it may separate 
skin from flesh, sinew from bone.

He knows
that when it is sharp enough

he shall see the body’s coherence
fleeing before its edge.

Darkness is a woman
leaning out of her window on her elbows.

She sees something she does not favor.
She slips out the back door

to carry her gossip
to the slaughterhouse.

Someone there will take the news
to the mechanics who will adjust

the wheels of the juggernaut
for maximum kill.

On her way home
she will wipe her face with a stolen liver.

Behind her she will leave a trail
of rumors and cartilage.

Darkness is a gaggle of children
trapped in a dream

where they are made to suckle straws
filled with their own blood.

They purse their pale lips,
draw the red up, columns red rising,

red cresting in their mouths,
falling red into their stomachs,

such sharp nourishment,
such a simple lesson:

living through the night
requires such a meal,

a simple meal for a simple terror.
They have learned to devour themselves.

We stink of rich meats, phobias, fires,
restless pride, secrecy.

We inhabit our stereotypes,
slowed to the speed of custom,

houses crawling with indignation,
ferocity unbridled by logic,

atomic proverbs to live by —
a man decides to force himself
on the next random passer-by,

a boy slits an ancestor’s throat;
we shake our heads, we cry out

for the light and get the darkness,
violent, clean cut, simple, fast:

darkness is thinking that we can live forever
by living this way.

And after that? After that,
what can I possibly say of the light?

I will say to them that it is slander
to speak of the night and only note the darkness.

I will say to them: children, my children,
look at the stars.

I will say to them: children, my children,
whenever you despair of this world,

lie back
and look at the stars.

I will say yes,
there is horror afoot in the night,

but always, always,
we have the stars.

I will say that one star
may singly pierce the darkness

but that one star cannot cut through
the darkness alone.

I will say that there is
light beyond the darkness.

I will say, children, my children,
if ever you despair, remember these words:

I am a star, and I do not
shine alone.