Friday, June 11, 2021

Moving my poems to substack



Bit by bit, and weekly by weekly, I'll be transferring single poems and groups of poems from this and other blogs over to Substack, which you can access by clicking here:

Thank you for checking it out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

On watching videos of the Raven

From the archives

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 – The Raven

This morning I watched videoed readings of The Raven.

Great actors like James Earl Jones read the poem’s lines
to music, almost as if it were a film script with a musical score.
I fear they missed the point, rushing through the inside words
to make them fit an outside melody and rhythm.
With Poe, the music already lives, inside the words and lines.

Poe’s words are to be read slowly, deliberately, intentionally.
One word should stumble into the another, like a drunk man
walking, like Poe, bobbing and weaving his way through Baltimore.
My father would read The Raven as it should be read, slowly,

with drunken slurs, and sharps and flats. “Don’t fuck with Poe!

Forgive me son, I didn’t mean to say that word.

But Poe is not a joke.” I learned that lesson well.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 #17 – a moon poem

They say there’s a moon
Overhead at night.
I couldn’t tell you truly
As I haven’t been outside at night
Since the lockdown came.

This poem’s about the moon
In theory. The prince is dead.
How did he die? He died like this.
A waxing crescent moon guides
A lost navy man back home.

The queen is now alone,
With her lady in waiting, smiling,
and bank accounts galore.
But the Beatles already told us
Money can’t buy me love.

I could never be a royal.
Their lives are open books.
Except when there’s an eclipse,
and darkness and cold surround
For a passing moment in time.

Friday, April 9, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 - April 9, 2021

Our (optional) prompt for the day is to write a poem in the form of a “to-do list.” The fun of this prompt is to make it the “to-do list” of an unusual person or character.


It may not be true for everybody –
My story has beginnings that don’t end.
So a proper to-do list must include
Going back in time and picking up balls
I dropped. Not many and not all the time,
Mind you, but often little things, not small
Enough to be inconsequential, add
Up to many over time, so they say.

My temporal to-do list would include:
continuing to play the viola;
staying with Scouting to reach Eagle rank;
writing more poetry and song lyrics;
joining the Navy sooner, not later.
I’d spend less time pining over lost love.

—————————————-April 9, 2021

Sunday, April 4, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 - April 4, 2021


The prompt invites us to examine liminal spaces. I didn’t like the photographs so I did an independent search and discovered the Sony game Echochrome. This sonnet resulted.

Echochrome dreams

I never played Sony video games –
But I recognize a good string quartet
When I hear one – all those years of playing
Viola were not for naught. Music moves,
One learns so much from its forward motion –
Pathways that touch form continuities,
And if you jump from one path you will land
On another. The gap that’s blocked from view
Between connected paths should not be feared;
A hole that’s blocked from views may not exist –
Until you step in it, of course, and then
You fall to lower levels. Closer things
Overlap things more distant – you see more
Detail in near objects than those afar.
                                      – April 4, 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 - April 2, 2021

Prompt was the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken."

The cherry blossoms are
in full display today. A gift
To perpetuity from the Japanese.

We didn’t have to end
that war the way we chose.
I can’t make up for what
the people lost but still
I feel their pain.

We fought another war
that both sides lost:
A sacred cause that should have
been resolved by Jefferson,
Madison and Hamilton
over dinner in New York,
not on battlefields.

(How much might it have cost
To cut a deal? 620,000 lives lost
Is a price we cannot fathom,
a mortgage that forever haunts us,
a note with no maturity date.)

Dogwoods remind me
of cherry blossoms,
white petals, not pink.
The tree that formed 

the cross where Jesus died –
A passing Easter thought
not inappropriate.

Too much is lost in war,
too many lives foreclosed
the fruit of labor spoiled
on the vine. I think about
their roads and choices lost.
                          – April 2, 2021

Thursday, April 1, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 - April 1, 2021


Today’s prompt is the animated version of SunRa, Seductive Fantasy

Sun Ra, man,
Our prophet and guide
Saint of inner space

In painting and music –
And growing flowers –
There is no finiteness,
Only infinity, he tells us.

Shapes and seeds
Abound – a never ending
Increase in variation –
Alternating generations.

LIke a trombone’s slide
Or a trumpet’s valve
Or vibration of strings
Across a bridge.

Every moment is
An improvisation –
A riff on a theme,
Removing the top layers
And building again.
– April 1, 2021

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

NaPoWriMo 2021 - March 31, 2021


The NaPoWriMo early bird first prompt invites us to find a painting or artifact in a museum and write a poem about it. I am studying a play in my August Wilson group, The Piano Lesson, that is based on a painting/collage of the same name by Romare Bearden. Perfect timing!

I will post a screen shot of the painting, followed by a poem, the first of NaPoWriMo2021!

Romare Bearden – The Piano Lesson, 1984

The black mirror attracts my inspection –
A scaled representation of the whole.
The wooden metronome in its foreground
Reminds one of rhythm and time’s passage,
The pendulum’s swing until the winding
Dies. The young girl, black like the mirror, plays
As her mother directs. The mother’s face,
More blue than black, leans in attentively.
A non-flowering plant rests in a vase.
A paintbrush seems out of place. It could be
A missing conductor’s baton. The sun
Bursts through the window as a slight breeze blows
The curtains askew. A ceiling lamp and
A table lamp compete to light the room.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sonnet #34

We sought asylum after we were freed.
Resettlement and refuge was our hope
And dream. We recognized that we had been
Excluded from the human race, and yet,
We chose to cast our buckets where we were.
Our nobleness convinced us that some day
We’d reap in joy what we had sown before
In blood and tears: and all the while our fears
Suggested otherwise; to wit, we had no right
To earn by birth what we had been endowed.
In retrospect, we should have sought asylum
Off these shores. One hundred thirty years
Have passed, too many years to resurrect those
Pristine hopes and dreams. And now, today,
The time has come to seize what we are due.

Washington, DC February 1993

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Monday, April 18, 2016


If it’s April, it’s NaPoWriMo, that is, National Poetry Writing Month, a month when poetry devotees (like me and many of you) commit to writing at least one poem per day.  There are several blogs, sites, etc., that offer daily prompts, and folks are free to go off on their own and write “as the spirit leads them,” as my mother would say.
This year I have been pretty much in the latter category, drawing inspiration from things, events, happenings in the immediate environment.  As it happens, early in the month I attended three events that have had a huge impact on my April writing.  The first one was a writing salon at a local art gallery, a short, three hour “class,” that looked at one piece of art from various perspectives and encouraged attendees to write about the experience. The second was a poetry reading at a local library by three sonnet writers, who read and spoke about the “sonnet” craft.  The third was a lunch time exhibition talk about a single piece of art, which became the basis for my daily poetry submissions.
So, to ease your suspense, I’ll cut right to the chase. I decided to try my hand at a “crown of sonnets,” also called a “corona.” All the sonnet writers I saw at the reading talked about it!  Then, I decided to base each unique sonnet on a piece of art, implementing the tools we used in the writing salon.  Finally, I decided to use as the art work a series of paintings used as illustrations for poetry, and the exhibition talk I attended provided such an example, a series of paintings by the famed Harlem Renaissance painter, Aaron Douglas, used to illustrate James Weldon Johnson’s “God’s Trombones, Seven Negro Sermons in Verse,” one of which was on exhibit.  You can find the original, in electronic edition with illustrations, here.
OK.  Here is the thing about a corona.  The final line of each poem becomes the first line of each succeeding poem, and the first line of the first, the final line of the last.  Additionally, I tried as closely as possible to make each final line align with a line from the actual original poetry that the art work illustrated.  Finally, because the example I saw in exhibition was the illustration for the final poem in the series, I worked my way through the original poems from back to front, giving the whole thing a slightly different twist.
Enough chat.  I have posted the whole crown of sonnets on my poetry blog here. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fernando Pessoa - The Tobacco Shop

The Tobacco Shop
I’m nothing.
I’ll always be nothing.
I can’t want to be something.
But I have in me all the dreams of the world.
Windows of my room,
The room of one of the world’s millions nobody knows
(And if they knew me, what would they know?),
You open onto the mystery of a street continually crossed by people,
A street inaccessible to any and every thought,
Real, impossibly real, certain, unknowingly certain,
With the mystery of things beneath the stones and beings,
With death making the walls damp and the hair of men white,
With Destiny driving the wagon of everything down the road of nothing.
Today I’m defeated, as if I’d learned the truth.
Today I’m lucid, as if I were about to die
And had no greater kinship with things
Than to say farewell, this building and this side of the street becoming
A row of train cars, with the whistle for departure
Blowing in my head
And my nerves jolting and bones creaking as we pull out.
Today I’m bewildered, like a man who wondered and discovered and forgot.
Today I’m torn between the loyalty I owe
To the outward reality of the Tobacco Shop across the street
And to the inward reality of my feeling that everything’s a dream.
I failed in everything.
Since I had no ambition, perhaps I failed in nothing.
I left the education I was given,
Climbing down from the window at the back of the house.
I went to the country with big plans.
But all I found was grass and trees,
And when there were people they were just like the others.
I step back from the window and sit in a chair. What should I think about?
How should I know what I’ll be, I who don’t know what I am?
Be what I think? But I think of being so many things!
And there are so many who think of being the same thing that we can’t all be it!
Genius? At this moment
A hundred thousand brains are dreaming they’re geniuses like me,
And it may be that history won’t remember even one,
All of their imagined conquests amounting to so much dung.
No, I don’t believe in me.
Insane asylums are full of lunatics with certainties!
Am I, who have no certainties, more right or less right?
No, not even me . . .
In how many garrets and non-garrets of the world
Are self-convinced geniuses at this moment dreaming?
How many lofty and noble and lucid aspirations
–Yes, truly lofty and noble and lucid
And perhaps even attainable–
Will never see the light of day or find a sympathetic ear?
The world is for those born to conquer it,
Not for those who dream they can conquer it, even if they’re right.
I’ve done more in dreams than Napoleon.
I’ve held more humanities against my hypothetical breast than Christ.
I’ve secretly invented philosophies such as Kant never wrote.
But I am, and perhaps will always be, the man in the garret,
Even though I don’t live in one.
I’ll always be the one who wasn’t born for that;
I’ll always be merely the one who had qualities;
I’ll always be the one who waited for a door to open in a wall without doors
And sang the song of the Infinite in a chicken coop
And heard the voice of God in a covered well.
Believe in me? No, not in anything.
Let Nature pour over my seething head
Its sun, its rain, and the wind that finds my hair,
And let the rest come if it will or must, or let it not come.
Cardiac slaves of the stars,
We conquered the whole world before getting out of bed,
But we woke up and it’s hazy,
We got up and it’s alien,
We went outside and it’s the entire earth
Plus the solar system and the Milky Way and the Indefinite.
(Eat your chocolates, little girl,
Eat your chocolates!
Believe me, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolates,
And all religions put together teach no more than the candy shop.
Eat, dirty little girl, eat!
If only I could eat chocolates with the same truth as you!
But I think and, removing the silver paper that’s tinfoil,
I throw it on the ground, as I’ve thrown out life.)
But at least, from my bitterness over what I’ll never be,
There remains the hasty writing of these verses,
A broken gateway to the Impossible.
But at least I confer on myself a contempt without tears,
Noble at least in the sweeping gesture by which I fling
The dirty laundry that’s me–with no list–into the stream of things,
And I stay at home, shirtless.
(O my consoler, who doesn’t exist and therefore consoles,
Be you a Greek goddess, conceived as a living statue,
Or a patrician woman of Rome, impossibly noble and dire,
Or a princess of the troubadours, all charm and grace,
Or an eighteenth-century marchioness, decollete and aloof,
Or a famous courtesan from our parent’s generation,
Or something modern, I can’t quite imagine what–
Whatever all of this is, whatever you are, if you can inspire, then inspire me!
My heart is a poured-out bucket.
In the same way invokers of spirits invoke spirits, I invoke
My own self and find nothing.
I go to the window and see the street with absolute clarity.
I see the shops, I see the sidewalks, I see the passing cars,
I see the clothed living beings who pass each other.
I see the dogs that also exist,
And all of this weighs on me like a sentence of exile,
And all of this is foreign, like everything else.)
I’ve lived, studied, loved, and even believed,
And today there’s not a beggar I don’t envy just because he isn’t me.
I look at the tatters and sores and falsehood of each one,
And I think: perhaps you never lived or studied or loved or believed
(For it’s possible to do all of this without having done any of it);
Perhaps you’ve merely existed, as when a lizard has its tail cut off
And the tail keeps on twitching, without the lizard.
I made of myself what I was no good at making,
And what I could have made of myself I didn’t.
I put on the wrong costume
And was immediately taken for someone I wasn’t, and I said nothing and was lost.
When I went to take off the mask,
It was stuck to my face.
When I got it off and saw myself in the mirror,
I had already grown old.
I was drunk and no longer knew how to wear the costume hat I hadn’t taken off.
I threw out the mask and slept in the closet
Like a dog tolerated by the management
Because it’s harmless,
And I’ll write down this story to prove I’m sublime.
Musical essence of my useless verses,
If only I could look at you as something I had made
Instead of always looking at the Tobacco Shop across the street,
Trampling on my consciousness of existing,
Like a rug a drunkard stumbles on
Or a doormat stolen by gypsies and it’s not worth a thing.
But the Tobacco Shop Owner has come to the door and is standing there.
I look at him with the discomfort of a half-twisted neck
Compounded by the discomfort of a half-grasping soul.
He will die and I will die.
He’ll leave his signboard, I’ll leave my poems.
His sign will also eventually die, and so will my poems.
Eventually the street where the sign was will die,
And so will the language in which my poems were written.
Then the whirling planet where all of this happened will die.
On other planets of other solar systems something like people
Will continue to make things like poems and to live under things like signs,
Always one thing facing the other,
Always one thing as useless as the other,
Always the impossible as stupid as reality,
Always the inner mystery as true as the mystery sleeping on the surface.
Always this thing or always that, or neither one thing nor the other.
But a man has entered the Tobacco Shop (to buy tobacco?),
And plausible reality suddenly hits me.
I half rise from my chair–energetic, convinced, human–
And will try to write these verses in which I say the opposite.
I light up a cigarette as I think about writing them,
And in that cigarette I savor a freedom from all thought.
My eyes follow the smoke as if it were my own trail
And I enjoy, for a sensitive and fitting moment,
A liberation from all speculation
And an awareness that metaphysics is a consequence of not feeling very well.
Then I lean back in the chair
And keep smoking.
As long as Destiny permits, I’ll keep smoking.
(If I married my washwoman’s daughter
Perhaps I would be happy.)
I get up from the chair. I go to the window.
The man has come out of the Tobacco Shop (putting change into his pocket?).
Ah, I know him: it’s unmetaphysical Esteves.
(The Tobacco Shop Owner has come to the door.)
As if by divine instinct, Esteves turns around and sees me.
He waves hello, I shout back “Hello, Esteves!” and the universe
Falls back into place without ideals or hopes, and the Owner of the Tobacco Shop
Portuguese; trans. Richard Zenith

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sonnets in English by Fernando Pessoa


When I do think my meanest line shall be
More in Time's use than my creating whole,
That future eyes more clearly shall feel me
In this inked page than in my direct soul;
When I conjecture put to make me seeing
Good readers of me in some aftertime,
Thankful to some idea of my being
That doth not even my with gone true soul rime;
An anger at the essence of the world,
That makes this thus, or thinkable this wise,
Takes my soul by the throat and makes it hurled
In nightly horrors of despaired surmise,
       And I become the mere sense of a rage
       That lacks the very words whose waste might 'suage.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sonnets in English by Fernando Pessoa


If that apparent part of life's delight
Our tingled flesh-sense circumscribes were seen
By aught save reflex and co-carnal sight,
Joy, flesh and life might prove but a gross screen.
Haply Truth's body is no eyable being,
Appearance even as appearance lies,
Haply our close, dark, vague, warm sense of seeing
Is the choked vision of blindfolded eyes.
Wherefrom what comes to thought's sense of life? Nought.
All is either the irrational world we see
Or some aught-else whose being-unknown doth rot
Its use for our thought's use. Whence taketh me
A qualm-like ache of life, a body-deep
Soul-hate of what we seek and what we weep

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sonnets in English by Fernando Pessoa

I - Whether we write or speak or do but look

Whether we write or speak or do but look
We are ever unapparent. What we are
Cannot be transfused into word or book.
Our soul from us is infinitely far.
However much we give our thoughts the will
To be our soul and gesture it abroad,
Our hearts are incommunicable still.
In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill ol thought or trick of seeming.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves, souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others' dreams.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


January 17, 2013

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.
As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.
For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where hidden and growing our true spirit rises, "Beautiful and tough as chestnut/stanchions against our nightmare of weakness" and of impotence.
These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman's place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.
When we view living, in the european mode, only as a problem to be solved, we then rely solely upon our ideas to make us free, for these were what the white fathers told us were precious.
But as we become more in touch with our own ancient, black, non-european view of living as a situation to be experienced and interacted with, we learn more and more to cherish our feelings, and to respect those hidden sources of our power from where true knowledge and therefore lasting action comes.
At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches as keystone for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as the revelation or distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean — in order to cover their desperate wish for imagination without insight.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.
Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.
As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have once found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but the true meaning of "it feels right to me." We can train ourselves to respect our feelings, and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that matches those feelings so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream or vision, it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.
Possibility is neither forever nor instant. It is also not easy to sustain belief in its efficacy. We can sometimes work long and hard to establish one beachhead of real resistance to the deaths we are expected to live, only to have that beachhead assaulted or threatened by canards we have been socialized to fear, or by the withdrawal of those approvals that we have been warned to seek for safety. We see ourselves diminished or softened by the falsely benign accusations of childishness, of non-universality, of self-centeredness, of sensuality. And who asks the question: am I altering your aura, your ideas, your dreams, or am I merely moving you to temporary and reactive action? (Even the latter is no mean task, but one that must be rather seen within the context of a true alteration of the texture of our lives.)
The white fathers told us, I think therefore I am; and the black mothers in each of us-the poet-whispers in our dreams, I feel therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary awareness and demand, the implementation of that freedom. However, experience has taught us that the action in the now is also always necessary. Our children cannot dream unless they live, they cannot live unless they are nourished, and who else will feed them the real food without which their dreams will be no different from ours?
Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas still waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves, along with the renewed courage to try them out. And we must constantly encourage ourselves and each other to attempt the heretical actions our dreams imply and some of our old ideas disparage. In the forefront of our move toward change, there is only our poetry to hint at possibility made real. Our poems formulate the implications of ourselves, what we feel within and dare make real (or bring action into accordance with), our fears, our hopes, our most cherished terrors.
For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. And there are no new pains. We have felt them all already. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.
If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly toward and through promise, is a luxury, then we have given up the core-the fountain-of our power, our womanness; we have give up the future of our worlds.
For there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt, of examining what our ideas really mean (feel like) on Sunday morning at 7 AM, after brunch, during wild love, making war, giving birth; while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while tasting our new possibilities and strengths.
from "Sister Outsider: essays and speeches" page 36. Published by Crossing Press, 1985.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

“He Bought the Sunday New York Times” - Lowell Murphree

He bought the Sunday New York Times
on the day before his 65th birthday.
as an act of self-conscious generosity,

On the day after his birthday
he was still making his way through 
the lead article in the Book Review on Bellow.

“Why was it taking so long?” He wondered.
He could read less than one four-column page 
before the suffocating avalanche of
words rolled him.

It wasn’t that the names being dropped: Hemingway – Heidegger
were scratchings on a stranger’s tombstone. He 
knew these writers, knew being and he knew time, knew 
the “thumb against her nipple” man and the 
the stupefying languor of gulf island heat.

He saw quite clearly the chair, the room, the university town 
where he had met the Nazi at a place arranged by Englishman
John Macquarrie. The not unkind face of

his college roommate appeared to him, throwing a new blue gray, 
soft cover copy of Herzog
on their shared desk in 1969. 
Familiarity was not the problem.

Other titles surfaced (“markings” Hammerskjold 
would have called them) 
Somerset’s Summing Up, thin, gold and brown 
SK’s Point of View for My Work as an Author in block letters on a white cover.

“Failure to assess a life in progress,” he thought,
and sipped his tea.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


No herringbone brick walkways in this dirt garden,
Just hard-packed earth, cool under my feet in the shade
Of the scarlet runner beans climbing their pole.
Vichyssoise served from a silver tureen aboard the Queen Mary
Reaching through the foliage to harvest the glossy aubergines,
Bell peppers still ripening in the hot sun as I pick them,
Mud-splashed tomatoes, broken stems releasing an aroma of high summer,
I fill my apron like Nellie in the paw-paw patch.
American boy slurping soupe de poisson and vin ordinaire
I carry the loot into the ancient kitchen where you're making your bones.
You go to work cutting and chopping,
Your Sabatier performing a scherzo of slicing.
Tromping over wet-black sand along the Bassin d'Arcachon
The table is laid with white linen.
The sun goes down and we dine.
A Gitane glows against the night sky.
Your first oyster, a gift from Monsieur Saint-Jour

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some poems from the 2013 Archives

#1. Invitation

            “I knew too that through them I knew too that he was though, I knew too that he threw them.  I knew too that they were through, I knew too I knew too, I knew I knew them.” 
            “If you can see why she feel that she kneels if you can see why he knows that he shows what he bestows, if you can see why they share what they share, need we question that there is no doubt that by this time if they had intended to come they would have sent some note of such intention.”
            Many others did go and there was a sacrifice, of what shall we, a sheep, a hen, a cock, a village, a ruin, and all that and then that having been blessed let us bless it.”   - Gertrude Stein, Idem the Same – Let Us Describe
The Queen’s Henchmen
request the pleasure of your company
at a Lynching – to be held 
at 23rd and C Streets NW
on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 –
just past sunset.

Dress: Formal, Masks and Hoods -
the four being lynched
must never know the identities
of their executioners, or what/
whose sin required their sacrifice.

A blood sacrifice –
to divert the hounds,
to appease the gods,
to cleanse our filth and
satisfy our guilty consciences.

Arrive promptly at sunset –
injustice will be swift.
There will be no trial,
no review of evidence,
no due process, and
no accountability.

Dress warmly -
a chilling effect will instantly
envelop Foggy Bottom.

Extrajudicial. Total impunity at the top.
A kangaroo court in a banana republic.

Refreshments will not be served
because of the continuing resolution.

And the ones being lynched?
Who cares? They are pawns in a game.
Our game. All suckers, all fools,
all knaves who volunteered to serve - us.  
And the truth?  The truth?
What difference at this point does it make?

In case of inclement weather,
or the Queen’s incapacitation,
the Queen's Henchmen will carry out 
this lynching - as ordered, as planned.

March 8, 2013

#2. Monday, April 15, 2013

The wicked witch of the East?
The old, decrepit, ancient East?
She dead.
House fell on her ass during the storm. 
Feet all shriveled up.
That witch ain’t going nowhere!
Ain’t gon bother nobody!

But the wicked witch of the West?
The new, modern, amoral West?
She’s alive and kicking.
Causing all kinds of trouble.
Done signed a deal with the Wizard –
the lying Wizard. 
Dorothy has her hands full with those two.
And the lion ain’t got no courage.

#3. Trapped in a purgatory…

“The top of the pyramid – the organization is composed of Technologists who only pretend to have power, although they are only actors in the theater of mirrors.  When the mirror is broken they die, because the internal drive of their actions vanishes.” – Svetislav Basara, The Cyclist Conspiracy

Trapped in a purgatory
of their own conceit…

The web of lies they weave
gets tighter and tighter
in its deceit
until it bottoms out -
at a very low frequency -
and implodes.

It may be just
a matter of perception –
they can’t undo their wrongs
for fear it’d undermine their
perceived authority –
an authority they think
they require to stay in charge.

Yet all the while,
the more they talk,
the more they lie,
and the deeper down
the hole they go.

There’s nothing I need
to go back to -
nothing to re-litigate -
nothing to defend -
and certainly nothing to prove
to the unworthy.

Just wait…
just wait
and feed them rope.


#4. August 14, 2013 – Man and the expanding universe: art

moral courage dies
and corruption’s stench prevails –
lies erase the truth

my LinkedIn friends keep endorsing me
for Government.  But me and Uncle Sam

are a shrinking universe.  I’m leaving
the troop that errs, the team that lies,

leaders who destroy lives for sport, as art - 
themselves a crime, a sin, a plague.  Farewell.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mountain verse – December 13, 2014 (12/13/14)

I took the wrong turn –
or missed my turn –
but still reached the bakery,
the destination.

It’s easy to get all caught up
in structure and technique
when you are writing/reading prose –
but with poetry, anything can happen.

A friend – of a new friend,
and an old friend, and a distant relative,
and a classmate – introduced himself
to me. The world is so small.
You’d better not mess up!

And a homeless man sat at my table,
gathering change for a bus ticket
to Charlotte. I shook his extended hand,
but shushed him –
it was during the poetry reading –
as any good librarian would.
Though I had no change,
I thanked him for his company.

There are plenty of gypsies
and monks – like me – in these hills.
And I am learning to love
their bending, curving, never-ending ways –
they speak to the centripetal forces
already in my soul, and carve
a path of least resistance
through their mountain home.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Randomized sonnet lines for November 22nd

United endlessly in time and space;
I write it out in long hand,
before that smile. Our spirits span the miles
your presence left me longer. I forgot,
it matters not. I worship at your feet,
or at least switch out the soundtrack
in blood and tears: and all the while our fears
on an urban starry night
the heavy downpour, like clockwork,
except for their perfection.

Hungering for freedom from the wretched pain,
and smile and grin and laugh with joy untapped,
we wring our hands and weep, the punks we are.
The hereafter far surpasses the present.
A man carrying a large book on the outside –
we’d reap in joy what we had sown before –
and reasons for a friendship come and go.
The poems you’ve sent: they are my prayers, my hope,
though other things fall through the cracks of space.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Randomized sonnet lines for November 21st

We need something dramatic,
to soothe digestion and aid regularity.
Whole peppercorn and clove buds
are sounds, simple wavelengths colliding off.
Now your daddy and his sister were just –
but the sparrow compensated for the zig-zag
nor constricted by its strait jacket.
She dead. House fell on her ass.
Standing water still stinks,
Or is it only the individual?
Drank a little, too, more towards the end.
A few notes from my morning walk - Rock Creek Park,
as men and women we thought we knew his pain:
but I move it to Word
and fado I have known –
the rhapsody of love and hope. Revive
to the sweetness of stolen waters.
The rhythm, the beat of the music determines
that I betrayed my teachers and
yet as we speak, I pace the halls
by the single light they think that we emit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lisbon notes that almost got lost

August 23rd

caracois and caroleta
the cobblestone sidewalks
are quaint, but the cracks
between the stones are filled
with cigarette butts and dog-shit

August 27th

Filomena bought me
a dozen handkerchiefs in Lisbon
only in Portugal
can one find “quality” stuff, you know.
Two weeks worth –
for life’s little messes

August 28th

Major bank failures in Portugal –
Marina on the move in Brazil –
Al-Nusrah holding peace-keepers
hostage in Golan Heights –
The tin man needs a brain.

Final day in Lisbon (September 5th)

Early bus ride to Marfa
self-guided tour through the Palace
lunch – frango no forno
librarian walk through the library
chat with the single restoration contractor
bus ride back to Lisbon

subway to Rossio
½ kilo Cape Verdean coffee
½ kilo Angolan coffee
tea from the Azores
postcards for next year’s poetryfest
rendez-vous at Martinho de Arcada

coffee and pastries with old friends
photo at Pessoa’s table
too tall Super Bok

the pen ran out of ink
about the same time that
the page ran out of space
on which to write
I wrote on the back
of a boarding pass

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bonus: 14 randomized sonnet lines

in the seeking and the striving
a something that just won’t fit in
for a man like me
distrustfulness and self-suspicious fear
Was crowded out by bills and laws and hate
about where it all came from, deep inside.
my favorite part.
Total impunity at the top.
And you accommodate, first haltingly,
In what is otherwise a boring, gray
Is it a mistake, a crime to feed it, to allow
resisting silently
misplaced the way back, through the years, of all
a poetry-writing man. I digress.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bonus from the archives - Experimentation in Standard Time

Experimentation in Standard Time

Autumn urban afternoons
get shorter and sweeter -

standing in the middle of Eye Street
I await a very specific angle on the bow,
as my ship called Earth comes about:
a unique perspective on how time passes –

in the distance you can see Virginia:
how many beats per measure
are there in Standard Time?

the future is reaching back to join us,
to warn us, to help us alter course
to starboard so we can pass port to port –
the present and the future,
like two ships,
passing in a storm.

We post to a blog or sing a song:
we write some non-rhyming words
we call poetry –

and time is a social construct
a contractual agreement we accept
from fear of things we don’t know –
dawn to dusk, high noon
to the darkest part of night –

a 24 second shot clock.
I sink a three pointer
that leaves a vacuum in its wake –
the chain nets echo its refrain.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bonus from the archives: End of ModPo - Final words

Final words

Goodbye but not farewell.
We will continue our conversations
and social media chats –
with new friends,
with old friends.

And we will continue writing poems:
together in small groups,
and at home, alone,
in the midnight hour that is not
midnight, but that
floats between isha and fajr -
the darkest part of night -
when passions die,
and distractions fall to the side.

The songwriting teacher said all I needed
was a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary –
but it hasn’t proven sufficient –

and there are no final words, anyway,
no bridge, no chorus, no refrain,
just a tight hug, a soft sigh, a tender kiss,
and a throw-away “see-you-tomorrow,”
maybe, if you’re lucky. And all my
countrymen are poets, and sailors.

Friday, November 14, 2014

14 randomized lines that begin with the definite article "the"

the forms, the rhythms of your loveliness,
The passion, pain, excitement of the day.
The hull, the shell wherein no true love thrives
The eager group, polite despite, is dressed
The legends say something happened in Chaneysville.”
The chilled sweet wine, fermented, aged and pure.
the peace and calm you brought me, the silence
the buildings that house all our livelihood
the answer to this question.
the recognition,
the future is reaching back to join us,
The love we almost had lives on, and waits
the direction for our deliverance
The ladder: an escape; a rescue;

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lines that begin with "this"

This cautionary tale includes one plea:
This earthly form of dirt and dust and clay,
This flesh that toiled and suffered on the earth,
This frame that housed a spirit and a mind
This is the Captain, this is a strategic launch!
this lynching - as ordered, as planned.
This morning I watched videoed reading The Raven.
this morning I’m bubbling over
this morning. Stay in open, well-lit places.
This pause affords me time to write to you
This plan, this life so fraught with strife, so full
This poem started its life as a sonnet,
this random moment, our lips may never meet,
This same Spirit appears infrequently,
This sonnet owns no ending, just a star,
This vessel that once breathed the breath of life.
This word is all that I possess to give,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

14 more randomized lines


When passing passions blue bid me adieu,
My heart and soul in pain are drenched.
To guide, to entertain, and to enthuse.
Our friendship, our love is a complex being,
but truth shouts out despite the dirt and dust.
Revealing my ill soul’s intent
that makes it a noun, a name that describes  
old songs all night long –

I’ll search the constellations for that star
has transferred
I cannot sleep.  For days on end I'm just    
to bend us at its will
Of everyday travail, I take a pause
Until today. We meet again.

Monday, November 10, 2014

14 more randomized lines


My wife said I should write a poem
along this trail –
But quality of intellect and
a knight in shining armor - this is Second Life, silly.
Sharing with us our laughter, and our fears.
sip some scotch with it,
My friend, my lover, object of my quest,
of war’s battles, of the fray;
Georgetown sidewalks packed with shoppers, tourists
conjured you up and breathed into you life?
a concert I attended night before last –
that there is no birth or death,
their leaves too long,