Tag Archives: poems

Lifelong Learning

Mom asks,
who is Beyonce?

She’s a singer,
I tell her.

Would I
know anything she sings?

No, I don’t 
think so. 

Oh, okay then.
Goes back to dozing

in front of the game show
where she heard the name.

Beyonce was the answer to 
a question. That was

all she needed to know.
All is well. Enough.

Do you think you will ever
know when to say Enough?

To look out the window
and say Enough. To see the news

and say Enough.
To close your eyes

and say Oh, okay then,
plunging deeper into Enough.

Bring Us The Flood

In some part of The Land
there’s been more rain
than they can handle

but not here, where we long
for rain and pray for The Land
to come back into Balance. 

What if this is Balance?
Some say it is and the Land
is behaving as it should.

We are the Fulcrum 
upon which the Balance
has come to rest.

Some say, it is what it is. Some say
those words are themselves
the blunt tip upon which

the Fulcrum has come to rest
and the reason the Balance
wobbles like a weak priest

in a confessional, shaking
as he listens to sins in a voice
he knows so well.Too well.

All I know is that the rain
is elsewhere, not here. We
do what we can to maintain

Balance. We shiver or we burn
and tell each other to take hold
and hang on. It is what it is:

the Balance is not in our favor
and unlikely to come to us now. 
That’s the nature of Balance: 

it settles, eventually, come rain
or come shine. There’s a reason
some say it that way: it is 

what it is,
come rain or come shine,
easy come, easy go.

It’s been years now since
we’ve seen rain. Listen to 
The Land. Bring us now the Flood. 

Fumbling Before A Mirror, I Forget My Name

That must be my body
in that mirror, that nest
of misdirections;

here, what looks like 
a too-short
bindle of twigs;

there, something more like 
a poorly daubed
mud cluster.

Hard to apprehend the whole
when such fragments 
compel so strongly.

There in the mirror
what I think is a reflection of me
stares back piecemeal.

Then again? This is not my mirror.
My own’s covered up
behind my bedroom door. 

I don’t look at it much.
I only see mirrors in
the homes of others. 

If a mirror’s accuracy
is changed
by its provenance,

how am I changed
in relation to wherever
I happen to find myself?

Preacher Song

At the crossroads now, moonlight
drenched,  soaked in all its storied
charm and hazard.

I’ve stopped here 
on my way West
after long years in the East.

I never much thought about getting
proper directions before I left;
simply got up and headed toward

what I thought 
would feel like home.
Kept sunset ahead to guide me.

Ending up here seems now
preordained if you can say that
while observing that preacher-ish figure

approaching from the south.
Long way off. Moving faster
than seems possible. Can’t tell

if I know them, if it’s someone
I’ve met in passing, on more
intimate turf, or never before. 

The air smells like I’ve been here
before this. As if
someone like myself

had been here decades
or more ago.  Old music slips 
toward me up the wind:

a song of my fathers, a song
of lost brothers, a song of ruptured love
and sold out family. 

How long until midnight?
It’s a mystery. How long have we both
been walking? It’s a mystery too. 

I just know I’ve been trying
to put words
to those songs for too long

and to find them here means
I’ve somehow
come home again, 

and as I’ve always known home
is not, has never been safe.
But I’m here.

It’s nearly time 
to shake hands
with that preacher 

and find out what will be 
beyond tomorrow’s sunset
when I get there. 

Diamonds And Rust At Three AM

At three AM
“Diamonds and Rust”
won’t leave my head
or hands. Sitting in 
the far room
on a desk chair
that makes more noise
than an unplugged
Telecaster can.
my way through,
not singing as it’s
three AM and
the dog won’t bother
to come in if I
can keep it down.
My love in the next room
won’t be disturbed if I
can keep it down.
I try not to move
so the chair won’t squeak.
I try not to sing
so my eyes don’t leak.
I concentrate
so I do not fail
the near silent notes;
so my hands don’t feel
the pain they do
when I am simply
walking around
through daylight chores:
stiffened; full of rust and 
broken nerves while
the sharp diamonds
of my past
are carving me within. 

To Be Treated As A Mockery

The seagull
on the parking lot fence:
laughing, angry, or neither;
commenting on your face,
stature, speech; or worse
on none of that; on 
something unseen in the air
around you. As if 
air around you is the problem;
as if you are the air’s problem. 
You feel you’re suddenly
an exposed shipwreck:
treated as a mockery
not a tragedy;
opened to scrutiny
by the scouring
of a storm; the seagull,
laughing over
your once waterlogged bones,
knows more than you want to 
acknowledge, is
threatening to tell,
is perching on you,
refusing to leave.

At The Top Of The Stairs

At the top of the stairs
lived all my lasting errors.

I used to live there too.
Then I fled down here

and left (or thought I left)
those villains behind.

I looked up for what I thought
would be the final time

and the stairs flattened
and all my lasting errors

slid down and heaped up
around my ankles. I could not move.

Once again, there was
nowhere left to go. 

Things You Can Do Once You Are Dead, Apparently

to our
better natures.

Soften public
opinion toward
your parents. 

Annoy and afflict others
with memories of how you lived
and died.

Suggest a better world 
for those who remain,
eventually. At least

a lesson 
on the way there.

There’s rotting
to be done. There are
cheap shots to be taken

at your expense.
Absorb and deflect them
and in fact cease caring

for what strikes you,
as you were unable to do
in your last live minutes.

Lie there until
someone grows a conscience
and replants it elsewhere.

Feed it 
on your name
and last words.

Water it 
with unruly streams
of your blood and tears. 

Fade from it, or do not.
Not for everyone,
not for long years. 

A Little Distance Between

More than a little 
distance between 
me in a car
being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

and the ones
(you know the ones I mean)
who don’t drive away
from being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

I’ve got my head
in my hands
most days when
I sit on the couch
and think about
how the news plays
on and on the same

look at me there with
my head in my hands 
as I sit on my butt
I’m a circle a wheel
a stone in a catapult
I just can’t
launch myself

through my TV screen
into the fire around
the scenes on screen so instead
I’ll drive fast and carelessly
into the next city town village over
See what happens — aw go on
Nothing’s gonna happen most likely

Most likely the worst
that can happen is a wreck 
and I’ll just be a tragedy
of my own making
The lights will be blue and benign
The tones of the news anchors  
will be mournful resigned

In the next life
I wanna be a boulder
no one can find a use for
until I’m hurled a little distance
over the walls of a fortress
I can wait till the next life
for someone else to get justice

Enough For An Encore

When his life had finally failed
to the full extent possible,
he screamed and wept out loud and 

his failure became as unto 
a drum solo that broke
the air in the room

so that all who were present
sat there flushed with the heat
of his shame and the beat

of this last collapse.
You really were wailing there,
man, said one to him after.

That was hot. He sat back down,
praying agony would grant him enough
for an encore. 

Nothing To Shout Out

Decent heart,
improper body.
Old story. In fact
old man story:
spirit too sour,
flesh and blood too sweet.

Thanks tonight to decent bed,
to rest and random touch.
Thanks to light through
blinds laying bars across
bedspread and bodies. Almost
how it was when I was confident;

cozied up almost to arrogance;
almost tight with it,
almost no light between.
Now there’s nothing to keep 
us together. Nothing in which
to glory. Nothing to shout out. 

Agony Light

Some memories
fall on you 

then stick hard,
burn like napalm.

Others slide down,
make happy gas puddles

where you splash
until the napalm

you already wear
ignites them.

You in flames forever, 
no matter

the pool or river where
you fling yourself,

seems to be what’s been
allotted for you.

You in flames no matter which
Bible verse, contrived or authentic,

you turn to 
for comfort.

You tell yourself
others will see better

in your agony light,
sustain themselves over your fire,

stay warm in darkness.
You tell yourself it’s enough

to be this and dry out within
until all you are is fuel.

Yesterday’s workshop…

Yesterday’s Zoom workshop on “The Poetry Of Place” had twelve participants and was, I thought, pretty successful. I’ll likely do it again in the summer or fall, with some tweaks to timing of activities (and maybe some prework…) but overall I thought the conversion of a live session into a Webinar was OK.  

Next time I’ll include the use of a couple of interactive tools I use in my corporate work to gain some more immediacy in practice sessions. I wanted to keep things simple this time around.

Thanks to those who attended, and I’m certainly going to add more topics to the menu over time.  If you have any ideas you’d like to see, you can put them in the comments…



Of course you are cancelling
every appointment we’ve made
and now you are not speaking
in any way we like to call civil
or polite.

Meanwhile I’m
flat on my back
in a supermarket
where I’ve fallen in front of
the prepared foods and salads.

I don’t know how it happened.
No one’s trying to help me, except
for the worker who’s asking
if I need a cart for what scattered
from my arms when I hit the floor.

Of course there’s no point now
to thinking about missed jobs
and phone calls. The ceiling’s 
interesting. A bird’s flying from girder
to girder. He seems certain

of landing where he intends
to land. I’m afraid to rise as
I don’t know if on my feet will ever be
the right place for me to land

ever again. Of course no one’s
calling to offer me a place to land
that’s any safer than on my feet
so I can fall again. I might just stay here 
where having fallen is safer than waiting to fall.

Some Place To Call Ancestral

I had my share of it, they say,
and now they don’t want me here.

One share, two shares, five shares, more:
who do you think you are, they say?

What do you think you are owed? 
Nothing, I say. All I want

is my name and a scrap of corner light
from my old bedroom. Some place

to call ancestral. I’m not
to the manor born but once

I squalled and squealed here
and I believe that still echoes.

I don’t believe this is about
what I’m owed or even about

who owes, you see. 
This is about honoring the part of me

that should have staked my claim
when I still trusted you.

I didn’t think I’d even
need to ask and now we are here,

or rather I’m here and you
are there with your stake and claim,

your chains and surveyor’s transit.
Mine, you say, as you set up 

on my stone. I don’t even want
that, I say. It’s dark here

and a little light
from the family window

would be enough for me.
Nothing more tangible.

Nothing that you need 
to surrender.