Sunday, April 23, 2017


When I awoke, you weren’t so great,

Not hell on toast, not fixed as fate,
Less than high sentence, more than fair,
Too cute to cry, too young to care.
You weren’t all that. I saw that some,
Of little fame, were twice as dumb,
Stuck out as far, and rode as fast,
And had no skills, and had no past,
And were both free and kind. They came
Before I called; they knew my name
And were available right now.
I didn’t want them anyhow.
The heart is hard, concealed and stark,
And whores in alleys after dark.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Future of Extinct Birds

Extinct, the birds are full of woe,
Serried like bowling pins. How could
The nevermore be sad, dodo
A shadow in a shadowed wood?

Why do you say that I am real,
But we are not? You have my word,
I am as dumbstruck as you feel,
Singing the song an absent bird,

Succeeded, sang. If what we say
Endures beyond the tumbled trees,
We still would ride, like birds, away
Upon an undocumented breeze.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Millard Fillmore

Fame is fleeting. A bubble. A male duck.
What is that green head, shining in the sun,
doing here on this inland parking lot,
carrying on like some deaf alto, crying
as mournfully as Thomas Wolfe in flight
and waddling to boot? Oh, ghost, come back,
be lost again. What is obscurity?

Babe Ruth

The summer you remembered me you ate
candy bars like—like candy, sure. Oh, Henry.
We lay on that bed in that apartment maybe
714 times. When you
came up long on your period, you left
to take a walk. I am not waiting now.
I think that you aren't coming back. Who walked
and struck out more than any other player?

The Venus de Milo

It was a dark and stormy night. We fell
back along the line. We walked. Some wept.
Jesus wept. The tracers lit up the dark.
I thought of you. I thought. I didn’t know
the name of the man on either side or if
they thought of beauty when they wet themselves.
Oak Park, Illinois is extremely distant.
And clean, too. What is A Farewell to Arms?

The Daily Double/The Dead Sea

You can’t sink if you try. You have your own
specific gravity. Padlock and chain
will float like plastic tub toys, but, the smell
will certainly remind you, you are here,
awake and fettered, not because you are
rectitude personified and beloved.
What will occur on Resurrection Day?


An alary formation, sounds of which
barely achieve us groundlings. Straight due north,
the last person who saw you said you were
headed. He told me, leaning on his rake,
trying to tidy up the harm he’d done
the grass, which only wanted to grow longer.
Point of view is everything. The absent
decline to state theirs. Have them, though. What is
a good idea before you cook your goose?

Final Jeopardy/Julius Caesar

Eppie can be affectionate. Or not.
Tone of voice makes its contribution. Mal
grand, petit; but mal afflicts us all,
the seizure of the mind. The child is old
enough to have its own child now, if child
was there when you reached there and built Dun Roamin’.
The noblest roaming of them all, but we
who drew our cloaks over our heads and died
forever in one morning needed no
umpire to announce if we’d been fair
or brutish. Who, to poets’ betterment,
died at the hands of friends and made a name
synonymous with dynasty? Et tu?

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Not Dissimilar to a Speeding Bullet

At high speed, celerity like forked swifts,
Fast tracked, and scarcely time for banks and breath,
The world does business, busier than you,
Though you can’t find your hat, your heart, your socks
Gone walkabout; and all the bees are bright,
Even as summer hollers like a kid.
Be not afraid.  There’s nothing you can do.
The shadows swarm with life lived off the books,
And you all in the red.  These are attacks,
Happily falling like a falling star.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Weekend Gardener

You mock the flowers I can raise:
A grown man should find better ways
To sow his seed and harvest praise.

Mutual funds look good, and hiking,
Plumbing repairs, and mountain biking--
Hobbies manly and much more striking.

Adam gardened. Cain, who killed.
Onan bore seed, although it spilled.
John Ball revolted. First he tilled.

Let me manure. I fork. I spread.
Like harlotry, in white and red,
I raise commotion from a bed

For private pleasure, amply paid.
In shadow, color: sun and shade
Where Cain worked hard and Abel played.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Ottoman Empire

I occupy this couch and think about
Decline this fall. For nearly 30 years
It ruled the room, and now its springs have passed
From mountains into gorges, great depressions.
Where are the wales of yesterday? I bought
A book, and all the change clattered away.
I changed a child, and look what that has done.
The subject people wanted to engage
Was war. Well, sometimes love. And never death.
Not on a couch, which framed all matters thus:
When we subside, how can we rise again?

Friday, March 24, 2017

And Then They Died

Ordered to make a narrative,
First you must say “First” and then
“And then.” It is by “then” and “when”
And “at the last” that stories live.

No princess unless “once there was,”
No prince unless “There came a day,”
No end until “They rode away,”
Whatever the red dragon does

Or sorcerer yellowed by spite.
Time takes them in and calls their dance.
Chronology bestirs romance,
Prompts it, promotes it, calls it a night.

Lovers insist the stream stands still,
Leaves never fall, the lion smiles.
Their collars droop, their Golden Isles
Occlude. They lie unchanged until

They can’t. And then. There is no next.
Overleaf, nothing, no pretend.
First there was then. And then, The End,
And then the tale is trapped in text.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Forcing the Spring

The hyacinths break ground, the daffs,
All green, intrude, the tulips force
Themselves upon us, and the snow
Continues intermittently.
Nobody knows the bulbs I've seen--
Nobody knows, but Flora says
Ceres keeps her eye on me,
Calling to get a daughter back,
Hers to bestow. I am the dark,
Damp alternative. They text
Green, she and Flora, sharing the sound
The topsoil makes. Somewhere beneath
Contracts a kill--we mobile few,
We pink extensions of the air,
Rootless and conscienceless and blithe,
The swift disturbers. Give me back
My seedlings, painful Ceres says.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Men Who Would Be Kings

We were a caravan, the score of us,
Camels and dogs and rugs. We infidels,
We passed for what we were, a flea-brained bunch
Determined to be wise, and if we failed,
Experienced at least. We heard that the sands
Turned ruby when they were wet, but they were dry.
Advised that the womenfolk were glorious
Beyond appraisal, we saw only men,
And they saw us and were not over pleased.
Far, far too many stars for urbanites:
We missed our meals and thought that we were brave.

Perhaps we were. A little foolishness
Is necessary for the gentle born.
Four of us returned, we four who returned,
We held our tongues and spent a year or two
Deciding what was dream and what was not.
It all was dream, the four of us conclude
And watch TV and nod our grizzled heads,
And some of them were probably attached.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Exclusionary Rule

"Newton's apocryphal apple"

I swear it wasn't. When the core decayed
on Eden's floor, the seeds took hold. The bole
blossomed and stained the air with pink, a whole
spectrum effect inferred from sin. It made
an atmosphere of perfume. And more trees.
They propagated emigres, and these

pinked England, and the apples fell and fell.
They rolled. They bounced. They made it into verse.
The bobby bowed and handed one to Nurse.
At all times they claimed sweetness led to Hell,
but emblematically. It was a nap
in symbol as he sat there. And his lap

bore stains which he could show you, because all,
at fruited feet per second squared, must fall.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Farmer Brown's Village Play Set

This appeared in No. 1.

The world is not constructed as it might be.
A clever set of brightly colored blocks
could fix a lot; given a Providence--
a child's bad temper, adult salary,
carpet enough and time--the houses would
show smoking chimneys in July, a fence
a cow could lean against, and portable
tulips, which would display themselves where put.

And when the circus tumbled into town,
the teachers would be clowns, down at the Bank,
old Mr. Wheeze be wearing saffron robes,
have shaved his head and changed his name to Harry.
The cutglass parking meters could dispense
one shining nickel per velocipede.
The ringmaster and his lion would walk by,
talking of spangled tights and tenderloins.
A bigtop makes a 3-ring barn. The ewes
can pile pyramidally for the careful.

Our insufficient, firmly rooted world
needs pigs and saxifrage in every closet--
hang the expense. The roofbeam would be fine.
Poppies are just as good as coffee tables,
and better dyed, if tea-time is pretend.
The elephants, like schools, have principles:
give them an office, let them read announcements.
Take them apart to be put away at night.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Elder Than Springtime

He was the elder. So he had been told.
He felt it, too. So much to take on faith,
But this, not this. He grizzled as he stared
Into the mirror recollecting zilch
Of what made him the elder. And of age,
A twist of this, a week of that, whole years
He called to mind in no detail, except
The colors of the calendars and shapes
There for memorializing the months, like May
Bedecked with buds and always breasts, but none
With heft or veins. A birthday cake of shrubs
And columbines like candles, and the wind
Which did not quite extinguish them, but made
Counting unlikely. In the dark he saw
The eyes of March, a fall of fallen leaves,
But no one younger, elder though he was.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Besame Mucho

I slept, but that did not improve
My circumstance.  Mostly the stars
And ceiling fan had stayed in place;
And Ursa Mejor barely moved.
I dreamed of you.  Sometimes you made
A different moue or sprayed your hair.
Sometimes you ran away.  Or cooked,
Patisserie or oxtail soup.
But I knew what I knew and woke
To bracelets tossed on your pillowcase,
An amulet on the ceiling fan,
And Draco Mejor roaring by.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jenny Kissed Me

What of that? I'm not alone,
Tasting rose and bubble gum.
Years and boys, there must be some.
Some I hate, some unknown,
Time has made them dry and dumb.

Under clocks and amber trees,
What they think of in their years,
Ever Jenny, never nears.
All who did their best to please,
Kissed and captured, cold and tears,

Distant smiling, fresh and close,
These are flushed as any flower.
Real and given to the hour,
Jenny kissed me. No one knows
Jenny distant. All that power.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


My mother died before I was born,
My father before I was conceived,
All recorded on pages torn
From books not meant to be believed.

Raised in a house by an ancient aunt,
Who planted something new each day
And fed and watered me like a plant,
Until the night she went away.

Learned to read from a lexicon.
Learned to write in ink I brewed.
Saw dogs, saw snakes, saw jays at dawn
Who called my name, as though too shrewd

To let me pass. I burned it down
And let it lie. I took a stream
That floated me on past a town.
I found it flame and left it steam.

And then a path. And then a road,
And then another, till today.
This is the route the fire showed.
This is what works, the right of way.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Le Bistro Petit Mal

You know the one about the whore,
The wooden teeth, and Sully's goat?
I heard it just last night, a corps
Of lawyers, rich of scotch and throat,
Enjoying themselves. The nachos went
Well with their ties. We got and spent.

Like Wordsworth, but they didn't laugh,
And I was showing off, besides.
They sliced the hired help in half
And left them for the cleansing tides,

But with a good tip. I split so they
Could do me, too, if they'd a mind.
Heroes at rest. The gods at play.
Some nymphs abandoned. Daphne pined.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Kit & Wally

This appeared in The Listening Eye with the title "Kit Talks Back to Wally."

First Kit

If still, in spite of age and pain,
parental dust and winter rain,
love conquers all, or conquers some,
if by the grave, where love is dumb

and all young roses limp and wan,
the lovers pass, and, if they can,
disport themselves in sun on grass,
the time they cannot stop, they pass.

Else we were not. And here we are.
This is the backseat of the car
Young Andy hears behind. So prove
that what we are, we are for love;

and if you will not live with me
and be my love, then let us see
what temporary kisses do
to put death by, a breath or two.

Wally Replies

The Land of Nod is very nice,
but deportees can't live there twice,
not free like waves to come and go.
The sun departs, to let us know

it has its ups and downs. No kiss
can make it stand. We live with this
and die without. She whose embrace
extended youth and glozed with grace

day, night, and all, looks old. Poor you.
Comes noon, grass will forgo its dew.
And yet it grows. And covers all.
Your summer swears it will not fall.

If love came back, if love stood still,
if men loved long, though looks could kill,
I'd live with you, no caveat,
and be your love. Or maybe not.