Saturday, January 29, 2011


He was nine then, but he's ten now. He has no more need of a fake beard.

Friday, January 28, 2011


In a place our media calls The Arab World, change is being born. The people move in millions. There are stories of police, known for their brutality and oppression, stripping off their badges and uniforms and joining the protest against tyranny. I don't understand the details, but I do understand the dynamics - the few persecute the many until the many rise up. You can feel that from here, that rising. Freedom has a taste and those people are salivating for it.

In America, many of us have forgotten how good it tastes. We worry for our own interests. We fear fundamentalists who hate who we are, and we make the mistake again and again of supporting some dictator in the name of stability.  So we look on.

When we were young, we stood for freedom, or so we are taught. How good it would be to stand with those brave enough to stand up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Post Holiday Funk Haiku

I will lose a tooth
Another heavy snowfall
Come to grips with life

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Snap

We woke this morning to the silent menace of
minus seven degrees Fahrenheit.

The car started reluctantly,
it took two tries, like maybe it was headed for the light
and it was almost too painful to wake up to this
frigid life.

But it did, and it whisked us determinedly
toward our destination, my daughter in a fake fur hat
with animal ears and me in a fleece-lined lumberjack shirt
under my jacket - tame wild things,
helpless really, in the heated car
whose mechanics today ran true
delivering us to school and work respectively
while three crows huddled on the unbelievably
white snow's frozen crust saying something like,
can you believe this shit?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Uninspired or Unaware?

Before shoveling.
I stayed home from work today due to a second winter storm that made driving inadvisable. I guess I frittered the day away inside accomplishing nothing. Now it's getting dark.  Time to shovel out again. There's more snow predicted for Thursday.

After shoveling.
The snow is turning to rain which turns to ice when it hits the ground. The snow is heavy and you have to throw it high onto the existing piles from the last storm. The sweat comes quickly. Behind me, as evasive as shadows, two deer slip by almost unnoticed in the dusk. They evaporate through the trees and deep snow. My small life is not all there is.

Monday, January 17, 2011

From His Final Speech Delivered 24 Hours Before His Murder

 And so the first question that the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Night Phone Call

A kid calls - 14, not doing well, doesn't want to
inconvenience us, doesn't want us to tell her mother she called.

She's a thinker and depressed
wants to talk, but  doesn't say much.

I think what she really wants is to listen
and she's listening for an answer,
something to hold on to, wisdom...

I want to tell her that you can't think yourself out of this -
you just continue, just take the next breath, just take the next step
- one after one.

It's not plodding, it's endurance.
I want to tell her that,
but I don't.

She might find a better way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A guy once told me that we create the world with our thoughts; in other words, the world I see is me.  I couldn't accept that idea then from a man who almost never left his room and spent most of his days drunk with his head in computer games while we lived in a crack ravaged, economically forsaken mill town. It stuck with me though, as all those black thoughts poured out of me like soot down through the years. I'm doing it now, though I'm trying not to.

That notion comes back to mind now in America with the political discourse being what it is and a politically motivated, psychotically driven shooting spree in the news. Words have power. Thoughts expressed have consequences. Writing can move people. It makes you think.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Big Snow

At last, a big snow has arrived in our little corner of New England. It looks like we're at close to two feet and blowing right now, and it's still coming down. Forty eight of the fifty states have snow on the ground, and I was beginning to experience something like survivor's guilt. We like to gripe about the winter weather here, it's a birthright. We don't want to hear that someone else in the country got hit harder than we did. Now we've got this to shovel when we get home tonight. Sore backs and heart attacks. Maybe we're at our best when we're digging out.

Monday, January 10, 2011


At twenty-two years old, a man is often described by older men as young and dumb. But this one, as near as I can tell, is a little different with a head full of static he's picked up from too many hours killing on the X-Box, and too much Beck and Limbaugh over the airwaves. He bought himself a Glock nine millimeter and an extended thirty round magazine, legally, in his home state of Arizona. Hell, I remember a store in Phoenix where you could buy a gun, a box of shells and all the liquor you need through the same drive-up window at the same time. Now he's gone and shot nineteen people on their weekend off in the parking lot of a strip mall. Six are dead. He managed to get himself a couple of what he probably thinks of as high value targets - a liberal congresswoman and a judge.

You also bagged a beautiful, entirely innocent, nine year old girl, you great big hero you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

There's No Music Here

I notice the difference in the thoughts I think and the feelings I feel in the presence and the absence of music. Lately, more often than not, there is none to be heard, and I am left with the sounds of this room, what is immediately outside it, and what is inside me. Like now, there are the mechanical sounds of the heater, voices in the hallway - coughing, laughing, talking about nothing- just to talk. The sameness of it hurts, like it might go on blandly this way forever - monotony, a prisoner's gray routine, paste. Outside the window, only the silence of cold. In my self there is a song I intend to write that will lend heart and strength to us all whenever it is sung, but all the words are scattered. I have had enough of the caustic, and the fatal, enough of pulverised hopes. I will write about the long shot taken in faith, of total commitment and wild abandon, and of the triumph of our collective spirit as we grow beyond our bullshit together. I will write about it all, all the good, as soon as I can hear the music.


congresswoman shot
a thirty round magazine
little girl now gone

Thursday, January 6, 2011

They Came Wearing Robes of Crimson And Black

I stripped to the waist and sang our death song there in the black bird rain, face and torso smeared with blood and coal ash, entirely convinced. When the rain abated, I was left to endure the smirks of neighbors and the questions of local law enforcement standing among still birds by the thousands. The entrepreneurial spirits filled trash bags with their bodies for possible E-Bay sale later. The scientific community began there inquiries with academic dispassion and great self importance.  And the old man on the corner sang, "A band of Angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home".  It was then that I saw and began to wail, to tear at my breast, to gnash my teeth

Red Wing

The people stroll separately
miserable or oblivious,
in the blackbird rain,
the birds' red armpits 
like sugar maple leaves
strewn across the black feather carpet

Fallen angels gunned down in ignorance,
their intentions completely misread.

What if that was our last chance?

Someone is chanting USA,USA,USA.
The children have already unknowingly adapted.
Look, one of them has a dead bird dressed for an outing
in a baby carriage.

A group of boys have propped up hundreds of black
feathered corpses with glue, pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks,
rotting taxidermy in an elaborate cityscape.

They are just over there excitedly gathering stones
while the oldest of them howls
and pours a river of gasoline down Main Street.

The somber ones
dressed in black, thin, scarred wrists, skinny jeans
huddle together in the shrubs
reciting quiet funeral rites
and burying each bird,
sealing them with scented oil,
a prayer, a kiss.

There are some tears but no questions.
They understand, rightly or wrongly, that this is something they had coming to them.

I am driving through the area trying to make sense of this
distracted by a sudden awareness
of chemicals seeping into me from everywhere at once
through my lungs and skin and hair
hidden in every morsel of food
and drop of water I try not to consume.

I sense danger here.
Look at my hands tremble.

Take a well-washed mayonnaise jar
and line it with cotton balls for comfort
lettuce for nutrition
wrap it in construction paper and tape
to block out both light and horror -
a container for my soul.

Because you know what's coming down here
is not just the every day kind of
messed up.

But when I call for it,
there's no response
just a note on the refrigerator
that I cannot bear to read.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Awakened from deep sleep
last night by
the quiet but insistent voice of
one of nature's more mundane urges

Mundane, that is, only
as long as everything is
working correctly

I stood and remembered a photograph
from the front page of the New York Times

A laughing Haitian woman seated in a chair
with her leg missing
her face was wide open and
she held her prosthetic leg
across her shoulder, posing,
before the earthquake she
had been a dancer.

She still is.

Haiti - where every tenth person died
in a single night,
when the firm certainty of Earth
could not be found,
and the remaining nine became the
planet's resident experts
in psychological and spiritual

I thought about a governor in Pakistan
shot to death by his trusted protector

Returning to bed, I heard the screaming
of something wild, something fierce
some animal
outside in the cold night.

What it was I could not imagine
though I tried until
finally, I fell back to sleep
trusting blindly and
without thought in
the wall that separated us.

Monday, January 3, 2011


So begins another year,
it appears,
of too much work and
not enough sleep.

Struggling to pay what you owe
before someone comes
and takes what's
yours away.

In the meantime, your kids grow
you age irreversibly,
and your life...well,

all that potential.

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