Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mr. Orbison - My Prayer

For Mr. D.J.

Mr. D.J. II

The D.J.'s wife
left this earth for
parts unknown to me
the night before last.

He was at the station
and on the air
at exactly 9 o'clock
this morning,
but his
show has a slightly different
feel today.

It's a tribute show,
a eulogy,
slow and romantic,
sweet and adoring.

Thank you, Sir
for answering my question.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The National - Anyone's Ghost

Kind of gets in your head.

Middle Aged And Off The Chain

You realized in an unblinding instant,
which you would not be able to retain,
that while you appear to be busy
doing other things
you work steadily
forging and hammering heavy
black iron links
welding them together
and then you
carry them from place to place
while out on your missions, errands
and diversions.

On weekends,
you sometimes take
time off to enjoy your
hobby -
your pockets
with rocks.

No wonder your back
always hurts.

Glad for the space
they allowed me
on the dance floor,
I took full advantage
for an entire

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Bit More OFF!


I got to see these boys play last night. Somebody slap me next time I whine about being too old for anything. Keith (the singer) is 55 and has been at the molten center of American punk rock since the '70s. They played a great high energy show last night.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nick Drake - If You Have Time, Just Let It Keep Playing.

Mr. D.J.

He plays 50's music on a small city's
community radio station
in the tradition of the old time
radio personalitites -
larger than life,
the life of the party,
master of ceremonies
always up
and never down.

This morning
in between up beat songs
he announced that the tubes
had been taken out of his wife
and that she was now breathing on her own.

He thanked his audience for their prayers.
He said that they were working.
He exhorted us to "keep it up".

What was it in his tone of voice
that provided the small jolt of inspiration?

Was it courage?

I know it's wrong to ask,
but does he believe it?

Is it real?

Or is it putting on a brave face
to mask the hard stuff - doubt,
fear, despair?

I don't know why
I need to know.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Steal To The Sea

When You Laugh, What Does It Mean?

Arriving still bleary at 5 o'clock in the morning
I find her in a room with two residential staff
laughing, so much so that the emergency department nurse
went over and closed the door.

They tell me she barricaded herself in a room earlier
punched and kicked holes in the walls, the police were called,
and she was brought here for an evaluation, which is what
I'm doing here, and in the room I see a 16 year old girl
with defiant black eyes.

She's seen these stupid staff before,
she's heard all their dime store diagnostics,
chicken soup platitudes, empty encouragement
but she understands better than anyone, after growing up in these places,
that all she has to do is push a little bit and all these
caretakers stop caring and
quit on you.

I ask the kid, so what's really going on
and she puts it out there flatly,
I'm testing
which is what you do when you've only lived in a place
with total strangers, who claim to have your best interest at heart,
for three weeks and you've spent the last few years in similar places,
none of which could handle your shit.

I ask her if she wants to be in a hospital. No.
I ask if she has been in the hospital before. Yeah, about 5 times in the last three years.
I ask if it helped. She laughs. No, it doesn't do anything.
I call the Program Director. The program cannot manage her at this time.
We want her hospitalized.

I ask, as professionally as possible,
what the director hopes a hospitalization will achieve.
She's not on medication.

I don't send the full message that is
locked and loaded on the tip of my tongue, but
I suggest that the child might be better off going back to the
program with assurances that staff there will keep her

The program cannot manage her at this time.

Returning to the room, I find her laughing
again with the staff, and I deliver the message
cloaked in jargon
that we will be looking for placement outside her program
to allow her time to stabilize and to let the situation cool down.

We talk a little, and she says
the hospital won't help unless they can change the way my brain thinks
and that sounds to me like an apt prescription for this
completely broken child welfare system
and it's endless shuffling of risk, of liability,
which unfortunately happens to present in the form of children.

Her face is smiling.
I tell her to stop doing what she's doing,
and she knows just what she's doing.

She nods and smiles at the three of us,
but her black eyes don't blink
even though we are all smiling warmly,
and the sun is rising as we mimic
the movements of professionals

You know, some drug company is probably hard at work right now
on a pill that, taken twice daily, can reduce the unpleasant
side effects of serial abandonment in just a short course of treatment.

You hang in there, okay?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (New International Version, ©2011)

Friday, March 25, 2011

On Every Train


from the routine of sleep, transport child(ren), off to work
today and went to Cambridge
for an appointment
and saw people running for

Slim and sleek, in black and grey
and all the boys looked like all the other boys
and the girls, well,  likewise,
but they looked different from
their counterparts here.

 I browsed a market, bought some treats for the kids,
had a sandwich
and drank a salted yogurt drink from another country.

I stifled the impulse to laugh
when the therapist talked about ways of being
and realized how uncivilized I've become and,
well, fatalistic too, if you really must know.

 I did not run for the train,
I walked
and felt the outside sun and the rush of wind
through the subway on my skin
listened to the Middle Eastern girl sing a pop song
to herself quietly
in a coffee shop while working her shift,
not caring that anyone was listening,
and I looked out the window upon a view
I'd never quite seen before.

A slight and welcome shift.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another from Shine

The Sign Says KEEP OUT!

Another work related argument. I'm quick now, or again, to anger, to yell, thinking nothing of swearing when I know I'm right and the other party has become an obstacle, antagonist - my momentary enemy. My patience is used up, and that's not good, like drinking down your last swallow of clean water when on foot and alone in the desert is not good. A vacation in some patience-optional locality might be a starting point. If not that, some dry cave, a cozy hermitage with cool shade and birdsong. I'm seated in that place on a boulder where chipmunks (excellent character judges) approach with only the slightest hesitation , more out of politeness than of fear, to eat the treats I carry while sitting upright in the palm of my hand demonstrating to the most casual observer that I could not possibly be that bad man about whom you now mutter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home Is Far From Here

I love this record - or whatever the kids are calling them these days.


My alarm woke me this morning in the midst of a dream. In the dream, I was reading something on a computer screen - a description of my blog. The writer described what I put on here as "trail humor". Is it time for a walking pilgrimage? A brighter world view? A better sense of humor?

I also find myself dwelling on something I read about the Kit Fox Society long ago, an elite group of warriors among the Lakota people. Something about service, commitment, true dedication...

I am the Kit Fox.
I live in uncertainty.
If there is anything difficult,
if there is anything dangerous,
to do -
that is mine.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alligator Wine - Screamin Jay Hawkins

Don't know about the video, but it's the best quality audio I could find. Since you're here, you might as well have yourself a pull from the bottle.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Looking down into the bowl, I could not help but cry.

I just woke  from a dream in the early afternoon. I was someone else, an Indian with braids. Someone had passed on, a woman, and some people had gathered. I was planning to offer tobacco, a buffalo altar. When someone spoke to me about her, a tribute song they heard on the radio, I could no longer hold my tears.

Waking with a mild headache, a picture in my mind of cigarettes laid across the back of a small wooden buffalo, a vague sense of loss. I push it all back with plans of a buttermilk waffle in the kitchen, nothing fancy, just an Eggo in the toaster.

Last night the moon in it's ultra brightness seemed to be listening intently. I'm glad I can still dream.

Friday, March 18, 2011

From Out of Nowhere, Liston Davis Walks Through The Door

I caught a glimpse of an old friend in my mind's eye, and goose bumps shot up my arms. We were on shore leave together in a foreign land more than twenty five years ago. That number, the time gone, the memories blurred and mixed with neglected friendships trigger that feeling of the bottom dropping out again, regret for everything lost, longing for all that has gone by, a sudden and acute loneliness. It's too great to face - almost better not to remember - just put your head down and continue the march. But I'm glad for the flash of memory today - a Polaroid someone snapped of you and I passed out in folding chairs on a bustling sidewalk in Hong Kong the morning after something I can't remember. I was just a few days past nineteen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For Catherine (Golden) Green

A woman who struggled fiercely, worried mightily, suffered too much and lost more than anyone should ever have to, all while loving unconditionally. Than you, Nana. Happy St. Patrick's, wherever you may be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Moment To Reflect

Seemingly surrounded by death,
can you really blame me
for my reticence?

Half-hoping you're a no show
in my armour, shield in hand,
wondering about the wisdom
of extending my hand.

On the radio
I heard them quote Japanese numbers
of dead, of homeless,
of those without water, without power in the cold
and the atomic clock ticking in the background.

And then they speculated about how
the stock market might be impacted
in the exact same tone of voice,
using the same rhythm and meter,
and then they were on to the next thing.

Later there was something else
about a mountain, about ascending,
and how that experience clenses
and makes one feel closer
to God, and I wondered
how much climbing we
would have to do
to get clean.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Lieu Of A Lullaby (For Japan)

If I believed the words, I would sing Japan a lullaby to help it find repose after these days of fear and horror. I would stroke it's hair and sing the words and it would slowly trust, relax and let go. But I don't know the words for that.

I am not qualified to say anything about Japan and what's happened there, about the terror and disorientation that must occur when the friendly earth and sea attack. I don't know how to console you or how to prepare us. There is not much space between these incidents of disaster and pain on an incomprehensible scale these days. You will need strength to continue, to face tomorrow. You will need faith to close your eyes near the water's edge. Faith in what, I don't know for sure, but something tells me you know a great deal more about that question than I.

The night before the quake and tsunami occurred, I read something about the coming of a Super Moon later this month. On that day the moon will pass more closely to the earth than usual, a rare astrological occurrence. An astrologer of some kind said it was a time of instability that will influence tides and seismic activity. Sceptics in the scientific community were quoted and dismissed the claim.

I think what people there now know is that we simply do not know. We cannot know. We can only stop or continue as we are able. I hope that you will keep going.

In lieu of a lullaby with all the right words, I hope you will accept a simple tune hummed low and this gentle rocking.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jack Says...

Where's Book Bear? I put him right over there.
I don't know, maybe he ran off.
He can't. He's just pretend.
How do you know?
Because when I tickle him, he doesn't laugh. And when I touch his eye, he doesn't say "ow!"

Friday, March 11, 2011


He remembers the sound of car tires on wet roads as one of the loneliest. The scent of rain, soaked to the skin, hungry and thin, walking the road's edge. There wasn't much color. There wasn't much warmth. There wasn't much that felt good. But there was this trace of a feeling, he thinks now it was something close to holiness - lean, walking far and fast, going without. It was something out of time with the world, but seemed very close to the heart of it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Do You Do?

12:30 A.M.
awake suddenly
with a sore throat

Caught myself thinking
that your primary job is
to manage
this black ocean
within the confines of your skull
and your aging body
through the space
of this world

At the kitchen sink
drinking water over a few dirty dishes
left despite my new plan to have a plan
for things, tasks, checks, order

I notice that I've left the dome light on
in my car for the last five hours
and am forced to admit that chaos
is the victor today

The rest of the job is to
provide for and protect four others,
who are navigating singular courses
through their own oceans,
to the extent that this is possible
and beyond

I run under starlight along
the frozen path barefoot and shirtless
to address the issue with
the light, still shining brightly,
and the car starts obediently with vigor
contrary to the plot line I just drafted
with it's cursing and why mes

Return to bed
dwelling on the job description
looking for sleep trying not to try
and not fifteen minutes passes
until my boy is moving about
in his delerium unable
to find the door.

mom? Mom? MOM?

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Contact With What Remains

This morning on the long drive to the charter school with my daughter, in her last few days of  twelve, we passed through the aftermath of a large owl hit by a school bus, still alive, held in the arms of a woman, wing askew. Half an hour later she spied three white tail deer in the trees, two on the move and one stock-still as a sentry.  On the same ride, I saw two returning orange-chested Robins, my first sighting this year,  engaged in an ariel skirmish, the cruel and dirty business of mating and staking territory. I heard the scree of a hawk twice in a week looking up and out my office window just in time to catch a glimpse of him gliding over head and I wondered if it's you, my friend, and remembered our unfinished business. The crows have kept close tabs on us all winter, awaiting our oblivious trips to the edge of the trees with food scraps they refuse to allow to become a compost pile. I see you and am better for it, though I lack the understanding to say why.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mr. Berryman and Mr. Smith Cross a Bridge

He threw himself off - that's quite a statement. Reading it evokes an image, makes me wonder, was it an action taken during violent struggle - it was either him or me - which could only end in his death? Or was it a sudden and caustic act of defiance, a complete and final rejection? Maybe it was simply grey - a deep and heavy sigh of exhaustion. A final line, long written, he had no choice now but to read aloud.

I don't know why, but they always mention how you went out -when you go out like that - when they write about you poets. There's nothing new about you saying something beautiful, profound, incisive, inflamatory or illuminating and then punching out. There's nothing new about you posing with cigarettes - looking intense, mystical, mad or wise -wearing some eccentric hat in a photograph. I wonder how much that has to do with how you end. I wonder if you are best as the voice crying unseen in the wilderness. I wonder if the capture of that voice on tape, video, the page, in the eyes or ears of another is what begins to do you in.

I sat down to write something while half-thinking about a man named Smith who called himself Berryman. He wrote poetry I've never read and either won or lost a hell of a fight with himself.

Pursued By Another Bass Line From Somewhere in My Memory

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Bass Line Followed Me Around All Day

And although it's completely unrelated, I think, this thought followed me around all day too. A quote from the American poet Robert Lowell I heard on the radio yesterday describing his mania (he wrestled with bipolar disorder): "A magic orange grove in a nightmare".


On both the individual and the societal level, the ability to laugh at oneself is a sign of maturity and mental health.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Some tacos for lunch, hungry and listening to the piped in accordion driven music - a Mexican polka. The motion of the traffic going by is steady, not frantic, and the rotting crusts of brown snow show winter's wear and start to yield. Like Gadafi and his ilk, once the barrier of fear is broken, winter's days are numbered.  Coca Cola through a straw, napkin dispenser, plastic white salt and black pepper shaker on a brown plastic table cloth, and now the trumpeting mariachis cry of the heart. A handsome Aztec warrior adorned in feathers carries a beautiful and unconscious maiden in the mural on the wall inviting various interpretations. The waiter has three green dots tattooed on the web near his thumb. La Familia - but he looks to be done with all that now with his round cheeks and polite speech. I really wanted one of those Mexican cokes in the big heavy glass bottles made with real cane sugar. Here come the tacos.

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