Friday, September 30, 2011

Rive Droite

Slow To Move

The consequences of your
actions cannot be foretold,
only guessed at,
isn't that what it boils down to?

Would that stop you
from taking a risk
if what you think is at stake
is attainable happiness?

What about when taking
that risk involves the lives of others?

The signal changes from red
to green, but my foot
won't leave the brake.

Jesus The Mexican Boy

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Was It Like This?

I'd like to ask you
what it felt like
when you learned you couldn't stay.

Too late
 to get well
too young and 
 then gone

A younger wife
 a small boy and
a toddler

Left adrift...

There is no us
 out here

You Are My Destiny

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Jack brought an assignment home from Kindergarten having to do with how he got his name.

I suggested the name because it's strong and solid, with a little bit of mischief sprinkled in, and there just aren't enough strong, solid types in this country today.

He had to respond to the following prompt: I think my name is...

And here is his response: Golden like a crown, or a school bus, cheese, or the sun. It feels so yellow!

I know talking about your kids is bad form, and usually deathly boring to those without close blood ties, but I can't help it with this kid.

He's poetry.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In You, Me

A reader in Bangkok and one in Brazil,
I can tell you both that my head is very tired now,
very tired, and I am honored by your visits,
and I am working today with people's needs -
needy people (there are so many of them)
 - ringing and ringing -
everyone's suicidal tonight or addicted to heroin
or living with an abusive boyfriend or coping with
the loss of a child given up for adoption
because life is too crazy living with you
and you understand that.

She is nearly falling apart, shaking in her room.
The story that sustains her is one of a biblical nature
she says, though I am not familiar with it.
God sees two women fighting over a baby and asks,
Who is the child's mother?
Both answer, I am.
God offers to cut the baby in half to settle the dispute
One woman agrees selfishly and the other says no in horror.
Thus the true mother is revealed.

May we all try to help a little where we can.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Super Center

The young woman tells you it will be
at least an hour and fifteen minutes
before they can even get your car into a bay
like she's trying to talk you out of the
$26 oil and filter change you're 5,000 miles
overdue for.

Nobody really wants to do their job.

You don't have much choice, the car is making a sound
that seems to indicate that instead of having five
healthy quarts of oil churning through its circulatory system
there's nothing there but a smear of slick, black mud.
It's arteries are hardening,
a stroke is inevitable, so, you have to wait.

You walk the aisles of the place and think about
who you will become after the status change
and there's an emptiness in the distance,
blurry, don't bring it into focus
leave it out there.

You go to the bathroom, it's empty,
and you remember security camera footage of a small child lured
into an identical restroom in another state by a teenager
and strangled.

This is no place to die,
and on the wall of the stall
there is a distasteful joke
and a message
Escape This Hell

Back in the aisles,
staring at one thousand varieties of cereal
for too long.

Middle-aged man by himself
walking slowly in the aisle
creep, some one's thinking, watch the kids.

I think about the instant grits, the butter flavored kind,
and am suddenly hopeless for everything,
so I escape to this thought of just hiking -
walking a trail on and on,
working hard, muscles tight, sweat running
getting somewhere,
and never stopping to think
or to look.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Could Use This

We should all have regular opportunities to lose our minds and to return cleansed.

I Really Need To Clean Out My Car

Never been to Iceland
or Peru, but looking around
I find myself friendless
in a vastness
and it's a little...

Thursday, September 22, 2011


You receive the message loud and clear,
and is it through the anger or because of it
that you draft your letter of resignation,
your terms of surrender?

Take the symbol between your fingers
and consider launching it out into
the world on this meaningless spot,
in this inauspicious moment,
but you think of the boy and his observation,
it never comes off
no matter what.

There are three reasons:
the best of all possible reasons.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Invitation To The Blues

On Call

The boy says the Dad's job is
to protect the family.

The boy also says that
he will choose to live alone,
that is if he doesn't marry Catherine,
who's brother Luke
is the strongest baby.

The father has a chance to sleep
but misses most of it
half-listening for the phone

If it rings, it's income -
not much, but some...
and if it doesn't,

Or at least that was the plan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Way Ticket To The Blues

Middle Class Slide

Arrive tired to find the money spent
with ten days to survive until next pay day
an empty gas tank, 5 gallons of heating oil at a time,
and a kid with an abscessed tooth.

Dream angry dreams,
wake up and do it again.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'll Wear Sable Some Day

5:13 AM

Looking at you
through eyes of sand
sleeping off your opiates
dreaming quietly now
of something better
while my head
empties entirely
of sense.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Double Shift

Race to get here on time
to make the bread,
to bring home the crust
and the crumbs.

You are not appreciated,
nor do you appreciate,
you just resent

Use all the restraint you can muster
to keep from rattling
the bars of the cage
that never bend or break
because, like the metaphor,
it makes you tired.

It is tired.

You are in the world to labor
to suffer
and to die...
remember that.

Anything else is a bonus,
but you won't find any of

Monday, September 12, 2011

To remember without malice, to forget without indifference

Yesterday was bright and warm, and my daughter stood for seven hours amongst several choirs, as part of a remembrance ceremony on the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. All week, I'd been wrestling with a nagging question - do we really want to remember? I mean, is remembering horror a good thing?

It's a question no one wants to ask aloud because it evokes instant anger from the listener. I experienced that anger myself. It's as though not formally, not publically, remembering is somehow disloyal. Like breaking the vigil, forgetting those who were lost.

During the ceremony, a few hundred of us sat on the grass in a park and listened to multiple lecters read the names of the victims. In listening, I heard the names - first, middle, and last - of myself and all of my children in there, like in a word search puzzle. So many names...

And then there were religious leaders from the major faith communities here who spoke, prayed and sang - Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. The Imam, when it was his turn to speak, thanked the organizers for including them in the service.

What a strange mix of emotion in myself, and in the crowd, at that moment. Something primitive in me was almost angry, almost bristled against this...what, affront? Something else felt fear for them, for their safety in this place, fear that someone would say or do something ignorant to them.

The Imam asked us to stand, and I was quick to get my boys on their feet, and self-concious about it. The great majority of the people stood respectfully while the prayer was so beautifully sung. One man turned his back to the singer, keeping his seat, stone-faced. A boy of 8 or 9 sat in his lap, trying to play with him, seeming not to notice the man's anger.

I couldn't help but wonder how whatever was inside the man would come to shape whatever is inside the boy. Another man lay on his back in the grass, hands under his head, not moving an inch in what looked like silent defiance.

Two among hundreds are hardly worth mention. The people were moved and reverent. The choirs, my daughter, sang beautifully. Small children played happily in the grass. Dogs wagged their tails and sniffed one another excitedly. And the sun moved slowly across the clear early autumn sky. The ceremony was a real production - equal parts gravity and syrup - very American.

We are the affliction. We are the salve. We are war and we are mercy.

Salvation is...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September, in the morning.

September, in the morning
leaves still mainly green
after so much rain
grey squirrel picks his way
through the overgrown yard
next to the trunk
and tangled ball of root and earth
the hurricane downed tree
stood tall just two weeks ago
a crow caws
and now it is as though
it has always been so.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things No Child Should Know

The talk on the radio news is of the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Ten years, and though I was not there, I can still feel that day. It's one of those reference points, like the Kennedy assassination or the death of Elvis, in which almost everyone seems to remember where they were and what they were doing.

I was late for work, driving through traffic in a four way intersection. When the second plane hit, I remember punching some part of the car and screaming, "fucking terrorists!" before I, or anyone, even knew what was really happening.

I ran a shelter for abused and neglected kids then. Word of the occurrence got through to them in the basement classroom through the internet. As the director, I felt like it was my job to tell them. The staff and kids gathered in the group room. I remember thinking that I was a very strange person as I gravely made the announcement - sounding like Walter Cronkite, an old time TV news anchor.

It was quiet for a minute, and a hand went up.


What's a terrorist?

A second hand shot up, but she couldn't hold the words back.

Why do they want to kill us?

I couldn't answer right away.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Sound of Autumn's Colors

Put it Away

September, and today is rainy, grey, cool. Wanderlust strikes me hardest in the Fall, this year especially so. I want to run. Travel doesn't seem to be in the cards right now living paycheck to paycheck in the richest country in the world. I'm fortunate, I know.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Is at the very least
a state of mind,
present in the
absence of something,
a kind of half-life
from which there is no
visible exit or alternative
imagination can

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