Monthly Archives: April 2023

Spirit Humans

We imagine ourselves
as wolves and owls, hawks
and lions, sharks and
deep-eyed jaguars;
they do not imagine
ever becoming one of us.

No animal
has ever had
a spirit human.
They are comfortable
as themselves.

Never see themselves
in pale hikers, secret lovers
naked and earthbound,
villagers in their encampments;
do not envy the accounting manager
fly fishing in a mountain stream,
dressed to the outdoor nines, failing
at every other cast.

We are selective as well
in hard to fathom ways:
we never say
I am the worm that endures in darkness,
I am the hard shelled crab that opens
to vulnerability often, yet survives,
I am the trout that escapes death
but hovers nearby after fleeing.

So hard to admit
we are not comfortable
beings, that we 
can rarely recognize
what we need
even when
it’s before us. 

It Keeps Happening

Old song, “ Chimes Of Freedom,”
playing. I’m sleepy. I don’t want
such bells to wake me. I sit here
and pretend this is not happening. 

Someone laughs at what’s happening.
Someone else wrings their hands about it.
I’m annoyed by both, but I’ve been
too comfortable to move away. None of this

should be happening, not where I’m
trying to sleep. The music and the 
sneering and the earnest exhortations.
How dare they keep me awake? 

Old song, “Which Side Are You On?”
playing now.  I’m still sleepy,
annoyed, uncomfortable. 
Someone’s getting hurt if this continues.

The songs are old news, but still news.
This keeps happening, 
and even when people get hurt
people like me stay sleepy. 

Old song, “Rock-A-Bye Baby,”
playing now. I’m sleepy again,
even in my discomfort. I’d rather
not be awake but it keeps happening.

Backstage Pass

I live my life amused
by those in love with
being in possession of
the backstage pass:

those smug with having
all access, familiarity,
easiness; those imagining 
it matters beyond the moment

the door opens
and everyone else
gets a glimpse and maybe
envies them for that time.

I live my life sorry
I cannot hand such passes
to everyone who longs for one:
my own world doesn’t 

qualify as worthy 
of such exclusive access.
If I could let you all in
to the places you want to be

I would. Some
privileges are worth using
and that I don’t have them
doesn’t make me think them

utterly unimportant. 
If I could break down those doors
I would and I would not take your 
place within, friend; I’d turn away

not in scorn but in humility,
happy to have served
and off to seek
another place to do the same. 

Workshop — last call

Here is a link with information about the workshop I’m running on Sunday.

If you are interested, you may use one of the payment options outlined there to get to a link for the workshop itself. I’ll take payments through Saturday. 

If you join my Patreon site at the $10/month tier or above, you get access to this and other workshops for free, along with other rewards.  

I hope to see some of you there.



Last posted on 6/25/2012, Original posting 4/7/2010.

Dog them early
while the scent of sulfur builds.
Maze their rules
until loopholes become jaws.

Stack them till your God
approves of the height of the pile.
Open their prison doors
and pour in hot oil and lingering fame.

Approve their paroles in a voice of long chains.
Denounce them at the whiff
of impure thought.
Relegate their romances to the dustbin of hysteria.

Imagine them as moldy bread.
Bite mincing mouthfuls from them
till they spit back.
Reject their responses to infractions.

Blow them rat kisses.
Darken their doorsteps.
Assume their pleasures for your own.
Assume their pleasures are your own.

Burn their books.
Starve them.
Own them.
Remove them from their lands.

Speak of universal love
only when they aren’t there to hear.
Steal their women
for a cabaret of night monkey wars.

Splay their men’s genitals
upon a flea market blanket.
Drown their children in salt.
Rend their garments as you bruise their heels.

Revise their gods.
Bivouac where they pray.
Infiltrate them when they attempt
to remake their own worlds.

Give them names
to conceal the names
with which
they were born.

Carry a sponge to sop
their servant blood from your white loins.
Blacken their teeth until yours
are moonlike in comparison.

Honor them with caricatures
while you shred their portraits.
Play their music in your nurseries.
Wear their feathered robes.

Drop their bastardized secrets
on the tiles of your temple.
Cut off their water.
Tell them the righteous can live on dew alone.

Suck their grass
Watch their tongues
get crisp.

and only then,
let your mercy rain down upon them
as a mighty river.

Spear Song

Tip of the spear:
redder than they are.

A spear doesn’t care
what it pokes or pierces

as long as its wielder
is happy to see red.

The spear in the hand 
of a true-blue hero

is just as happy
to poke its old handler

as it was when that villain
was grinning and sticking

whoever is
holding it now.

Someone is going to die
by spear and sword.

Stop hating the spear
and instead grab ahold

and take it
and use it and 

see how it shines. See how
you shine. You can beat it

into some other form
when you win

and if you lose,
you won’t need to. 


Call up the old saints.
You’ll find them retired and disinclined to help.

Call instead for The Blessed Version,
The Sherman On The Mount, The Irascible Conception;

read from a new Bible written by scribes
drunk on the manic milk of modern circumstance: speak of

St. Teflon, patron saint of bullet dodgers.
St. Tango, source of comfort against divergent storms;

St. Bullwhip, defender of the wealthy.
St. Lifter, overseer of the doomed.

St. Angelcake, who strokes the heads of the raped.
St. Watchfob, who picks fruit and cleans poisons from the flesh.

St. Linger, warrior with no hard weapons.
St. Rollie Of The Bones, bringer of square deals and luck.

St. Rattler of the found quarter.
St. Lobster of the century reboot.

St. Jack of the feast
upon unicorn meat.

Open that long shot gospel,
hang on a little while

till they make a saint just for you,
maybe even in time to save you.


A lifetime of living among those
who claim ownership of stolen goods
as a matter of birthright
has left me confused.

What part of me ought to sympathize
with those so terrified of losing
that which is not theirs
that they would kill to protect such falsehood?

Should I feel sorry for them
in their delusions and offer sympathy,
or retch with disgust and run
in an attempt to keep their madness at bay?

Half of me tugs one way.
Half of me, the other. 
Torn to pieces and scattered;
all the pieces remain my own. 

Figure On A Cliff

A figure can be seen
standing on the point of a cliff
with its arms outstretched to either side.

If it is planning to jump
it would do well to do so soon
as already would-be rescuers 
are scrambling up the paths
to stop it.

The figure may instead be preparing
to fly, but no one can be sure
until they are close enough to see
what flex is in play,
how the knees
are set for movement,
whether or not
there are feathers or webs along the arms
to facilitate flight. 

The figure may of course
be planning to do
none of the above, is just
standing there.

But that’s not good enough for us.

Down here we exist
immersed in a churning need
to assign meaning 
to unfamiliar sights.

To treat them
as omens, to create a need
to interact 
with sights and sounds we misunderstand
in such ways
that we can tell ourselves,
with great conviction,

that we are critical
to maintaining reality. 

Rediscovering Glory

They unfolded
their copper wings.

Blue gems
threaded throughout.

Daylight against 
dark-polished amber.

Until now you did not remember 
that you’d seen them before
your birth, had stopped believing
they had ever existed.

Did you ever imagine
they would still be like this,
that they would again appear to you —
lowly you, humble you — 
in such sunset-wreathed glory?

Now they are here
for the moment and if no one
believes you tomorrow
you will again doubt yourself;
as many times 
as it has happened,
rediscovery will be
a new blessing each time. 


That flag is
an optical illusion,
more or less.

That it waves at you,
that it is friendly
toward you,

that it
covers you
with great sincerity;

that it is made
of colorfast
and quick dry fabric

to cover the coffins of
its chosen heroes 
with what looks like honor 

from here. Getting closer
is frowned upon and you will never
be one of their heroes if you do.

It’s just easier
to stand back
and admire it from afar.

Too Far Out

Too far out from the dock now
to think there’s safety
to be gained by turning back.

Forward, drop anchor, or founder:
those seem to be the only choices.
Go on toward the horizon or stop

and wait for rescue, or stop
and sink right here and see
who notices, if anyone does. 

Or — we could turn back. 
It’s no safer but it’s movement
and we’d know what’s waiting for us

where we’d be headed. Can still just see
the grey line of coastal hills
back there, where there’s everything

we’ve left behind. No real comfort there, 
if you are asking; you shouldn’t need
to ask. We could remake it, you plead.

Sure, we could. But there’s all this ocean
to ponder. And what’s that ahead of us
rising out of the water? We should wait and see

lest we choose too rashly. Everything
we’ve chosen to this point has been
reckless. Prudence now, even if it drowns us,

would suggest a pause. At any rate
I’m not sure we can turn back. The wind
is shifting. There may be a storm coming. 

We have come so far. We have nothing
back there that won’t keep or be passed on
to better folks if we do not return. 

Whatever is rising ahead of us
is breaking the surface. We should at least
see what it is before making a choice. 

It’s Just Overkill

The chorus of 
a song from the Eighties
in my kitchen,

Angel’s car in my driveway
responds with bass, bass, bass,
words, thump, words, thump…then

some other car screws by
on two wheels coming down Fifth
from Mt. Vernon and takes out

Benny’s blue Taurus.
Following that,
but not soon enough

to do anything about anything,
here come the cops.
Sorry — the nice policemen. 

I recognize one. I recognize three.
They come through often enough
but never seem to know anyone’s name.

“This is what you get
from living among these people,”
says the cop on my doorstep,

condescending to me about the neighbors
who called him about the wreck
and who across the street are talking about

what the nice policemen will do next.
They are newer here than I. Benny,
I’ve been here a while. Gotta say

I already know the likely answer,
fear the possibilities beyond that. 
I go inside and turn up the music.

The Boulder

Over there 
a gray haired man
is pushing on a boulder
to get it
off the bluff
and to see it crash
into the surf below
leaving behind
only some dramatic footage
in the minds of spectators. 

After it’s gone
he will look down after it, 
say something profound
no one will hear,
then walk away after wiping
the soil from his knees. 

We don’t see this everyday,
mostly because 
we aren’t looking for it.
There is instead a myth about 
a nobleman pushing a boulder 
up an incline over and over
that holds us in its grip — 

but ordinary people
finding meaning
in working to make happen
what should happen
and not caring for public notice
for doing it?

Do What Is In Your Power To Do

On this day in history
a perfect person was killed
who should have lived longer.

A perfect person died in childbirth;
the perfect baby she bore 
died even before she did.

Think of all the perfect people
who never grew old. Ones
you knew, ones you’ve only heard of,

and ones whose existence 
means nothing to you still
as you march on into your own twilight.

Do you matter as much as they did
for the short time they were here?
How could you know?