A shadowy silhouette bares her soul to a still blue sky.
The last leaves fall. Winter enters with a seductive chill.
She reveals her naked beauty to pleasure the eye.
Trees, bones of the garden, take stage.
A cardinal flies to a Hawthorn tree and gazes down.
Glistening red berries tantalize him from a holly.
Crack! A limb warns; "Find shelter in brambles of brown."
A birch casts off copper curls revealing its ivory inner bark.
Snow falls; winter feels alive, alluring, without age.
She flirts with the wind deeply exhaling her pine perfume,
She twists and contorts bark, keeping buds in their cage.
Quietness settles and beauty enters. A winter romance begins.
flutters in rose-petal
light, glistens like gardens
in rain. Dove's gentle
wingtips rustle in wind,
adorn fragrant branch.
wingbeat in our hearts.
(First published in
The Rockford Review, 2013)
Leafless and dove-gray,
Dark and brown expectant donees,
Stand upright on a windy day—
Forearms with open palms in snow squalls,
Under crowned stacks with smoke streams swaying
Below the ashen sky where threads hang from an old gown
And fingers, twisted, alive,
Reach in smog-filled breezes,
Wide and high, to break the sooted walls,
Zigzagging fingers with whirlwind wheezes—
Aspire for breath and sun.
My parents moved in with me.
They arrived soon after the memorial
service and the family house sold.
Forwarded magazines, store flyers
and catalogs permanently acquired
my address with their names.
This daily dross pursues those
who have transcended worldly things –
hearing aids and playing golf with the
spry well-coifed in an opulent retirement
paradise and otherworldly – a tasteful
tri-fold promoting cremains buried at sea
or a stylish mausoleum rising above
rolling lawns under a perpetual sun
shining over my loved ones and me.
I've gotten used to the three of us here
in my small apartment. I added another
can for wastepaper and allow extra time
to read or rip what isn't mine. There's something
comforting when I'm reminded that Mom
and Dad, only a stamp away, haven't really left.
They show up most days about two-o'clock
when I decide what's worth keeping
and what's junk.
Who am I? What makes me, me?
Id, ego, superego all three.
I was born, formed like a tree
with deep roots to eternity.
Was I always? Will I always be?
As it was in the beginning (nee),
is now and ever shall be...
pre-life, life, afterlife journey.
What is my soul but immortality?
Its path patterned as waves on the sea
with pivotal points windward and lee.
Other souls join, stay, then go free.
Why do I wonder? Why strive to see?
God's gift of reason grants curiosity.
Ideas and logic foster fecundity
of feelings and sage profundity.
What was, is. What is, is. What will be, is, then
world without end, amen, amen.
make me the earth
that turns in your plough
make me lettuce and lavender
bake me into a pomegranate pie
make me the white dwarf star
that burns itself out
a cube of sugar dissolving in tea
cobalt wings in a cobalt sky
candy more lonely than sweet
shield me from a leprous moon
a dying sun show me
flower and thorn
teach me how to be lost
some day this page
will be thicker than my bone
so set me to sail
in a glass-bottomed boat
through which you appear
gliding like a timeless
(first published in Third
I wanted to go to the Italian Village
Sit in a booth with the Italian lights hanging down and visit with my friend.
He came wearing a top coat and suit- looking beautiful and fine
He sat down on the bar stool next to me -my body electrified just hearing his slow whisper cadence and seeing that smile.
It was over and nobody was in jail or wearing a SCRAM or judged and punished or fined or humiliated or charged or convicted or any of that bad stuff we ached about and worried over
It was over so we smiled and laughed and downed a bunch of drinks and ate
We shared stories and asked questions and gave presents and sat and had some more drinks
Then we said goodbye and he told me I was a good friend and hugged me and walked home to sober up.
I stored that memory in a place in my head and heart and no one will ever take it out of there- no matter what
I'll file it next to my friends and next to Joe and the Christmas parties as a thing to think about when I am down and feeling lousy I will file it under ITALIAN VILLAGE in my memory file drawer.
into tuna noodle casseroles
in the froth in hot cocoa mugs
beneath steam in chicken soup bowls
inside muffins warm from the oven
with a cup of chi tea
in footed flannel pajamas
of polar bears loping across the snow.
Down here, in the world, we have a following
—friends, family, grandchildren, dogs.
Each person trails someone, in their footprints,
even if the trail leads over rough ground, through
mud, among a sea of medium-sized rocks that twist
ankles and skin knees when you fall.
It's where we lead that's important. It's how we turn
corners with joy because we're alive and adventure
looms just there. It's how we whistle or sing if there's
a turbulent stream in the journey.
They watch, they listen, the followers. If we stop
and look up past tall firs that bend sideways with even
a light wind. It's what we repeat over and over on the journey.
God cares. He's faithful. He goes ahead. Keep in step now.
If you stumble, I'll help you. I've got band aids in my pocket.
We're not lost. Our feet keep to the roadway, even
in the dark. We're ok. I see brightness.
(Only printed in my 2010 limited edition chapbook,
DANCIN' THRU' PUDDLES, out of print.)
We all know that there are tears in Heaven,
But how many of you know that now there is laughter in the hereafter!
On Saturday, August 9, comedian Bernie Mac took his final bow and closed his earthly page,
Then the Mac man immediately took his act to the heavenly stage.
He's on the marquee with Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Robin Harris, On this tour there will be no more pain, no more worries or cares.
The angels are their audience and Jesus is their concert promoter,
Can you imagine them up there attending fund raisers and delivering one liners to voters?
Then the Mac Man with his buoyant spirit stares into the celestial camera and says with a great big smile, "Heaven, I wanna to tell you something, the line to get in here was longer than a ------- ------- mile.
the very core of her being
vibrates in ecstasy
as she remembers the music
fingers that caressed
sweet bell like notes
she could never
she has lost track of time
how long it has been
it seems forever
or maybe yesterday
if she has been forgotten
if it never returns
she has her memories
her body cradled in velvet
in the darkness she waits
with the patience of trees
Begin with a perfect circle
A porthole into a scene
An aperture admitting light and air
A passage into memory
The sum of everything retained…
A group of lost souls, divided
Creating power structures
A jungle of iron and metal
Designed to deliberately confuse
Collapses all linear reason
A merry-go-round of up and down thoughts
Bones folding over bones
A mirror shattered, pieces strewn
Reflect the shards of what used to be
Lovers tangled in sheets
Afraid to let go
Time dissipates like pebbles falling through laced fingers
Like pixels disappearing from an evening gown
A back turned so a cage could be escaped
A ritualistic remembrance of brotherly love
An orange glowing moon in a dark blue sky
Bits of dinner eaten on the front porch
The unicorn climbs the stars
To rescue a child hanging from the moon
The sheep come together in the pasture
Herding through life in numbers
A portion for shearing, a portion to polish
The blemish of belief makes incomplete
The fragility of trust
The fist clenching rage of hope
The city and the desert share a certain zero
An ocean of ashes, smoldering
Out of the murk a glowing flame emerges
The hours waiting, splintering like seconds
Protrude as structures stuck in the mind
Like textures in thoughts obscured, detached
The tail end of a dream, unfinished
Particles trailing the shadow of an argument
Moving fiercely along the brick wall
A bat with piercing eyes
Bores a hole into comfort
A ball of glowing moon
Leaves behind a scrap in the atmosphere
An odd piece of turmoil
Wandering in the twilight wrapped in newspaper
An ornamental façade of what is yet to come
A rotting skull bereft of thought
Awaits behind bars
And stars shine like bullets
Shot through the night sky's protective tarp
A frantic woman behind foggy glass, panting
Presses both hands hard to be released
The outer edges of the mind, fraying
The boundary of safe is breached
A needling fear arises
Shrouded in mystery
A buried past surfaces
A conversation that began long ago
Stones, branches, blood and bones
Remnants of a battle won
Spoils of war
Images severed from time
Isolated mental pictures of experience
A collage of desperation and intrigue
Stands in a collector's gallery, in the rooms of memory
Paint makes permanent
The fragments of the long night
Broken off, captured in eternity
Diamonds, the world's finest stone
Platinum, the world's finest metal
Unite, embraced in a fine ring.
From the hands of unskilled laborers
Embedded in faraway foreign mines
To a pristine black velvet display case.
A linear journey from rough to refined.
The alibi laden tales sworn into secrecy.
Mortal, pensive shades casting doubt.
If I could gather risks I didn't take
I'd spin them into silken filament
enhanced with silver threads and gold, then make
a scarf that wraps around the continent.
If I could find the words I didn't write,
I'd set each crystalline bejeweled gem
in platinum or jade-like malachite
affixed upon a priceless diadem.
If I could hear the songs I didn't sing,
I'd whirl their notes around the church's spire.
Their blissful melodies of joy would ring
and be the makings of a heavenly choir.
These celebrated things I didn't do.
Instead, I've measured out my life with you.
Daughter in Israeli
looking quite rested
for Bubbie's visit
one child had lost a tooth
mentioned the good fairy
the oldest boy
talked of his classes
the next about his friends
look closely Bubbie I made
these ice cream cones for you
and sister dressed in
frilly girlie attire showed
me a tangle of tresses
the call was clear
picture wintery crisp
as I reached to catch
the stumbling toddler
skype got in my way
Motivational speakers make you wonder,
what is it that gives them thunder?
Are they always full of bliss?
Is every day another Christmas?
Do happy people annoy you, too?
Sometimes they just make me blue.
If you're joyful, you can mimic
a multi-million dollar gimmick.
Joy is found in inward reflection,
not in any self-help section.
If you want a happy ending,
You just have to quit pretending.
Reminiscing is a delusion,
predicting the future makes confusion.
Chinese New Year is the force,
feel the power of the horse!
They say the horse is positive,
giving us the strength to live.
the four horsemen flying high!
Are the four horsemen in the sky?
Is this the year we will die?
No motivational speaker can
stop nuclear bombs in Iran.
The Bible is the book to read
the only book we'll ever need.
The only joy that ever lasts,
is in the future, not the past.
This life is just a fleeting glimpse,
growing old is not for wimps.
If you pass the finish line,
paradise will last for all time.
I used it to deceive with,
because everyone believed it.
It was so convincing,
I barely had to try.
That's when I knew,
it was the perfect lie.
No one ever questioned,
or bothered to ask why.
No one ever doubted,
so nothing to deny.
No matter how often,
whenever it was heard,
poeple would simply,
take me at my word.
I marveled at how easy,
my life had now become.
The perfect lie provided me,
the ultimate freedom.
But, then something happened,
something quite absurd.
The line 'tween fact and fiction
suddenly got blurred.
Now I can't distinguish,
falsehood from the truth.
Impossible to tell,
fantasy from sooth.
It doesn't seem to matter
what I try to say,
the perfect lie has wired
my brain some strange new way.
Dearest Victory Lynn you must how much it hurts me not
To be able to express my feelings for you face to face is what,
I must do to say I love you face to face and not for lust
Though you are desirable let's brush away all the rust,
I respect your need to mourn cause I know what it's like
Especially when I lost my mom my third cousin in my psych,
It takes time for us to get reacquainted after so many years
Even though I kept you in my heart and mind so very clears,
Fate, time and distance always takes us apart in our now's
All I have are pictures and memories far from brows,
How could this happen to us with so many familiarities
Can't you see we were made for each other similarities,
I'm so intoxicated with the sound of your charming voice
If ever you decide to remarry again may I be your choice,
I'm attracted to your glorious smile as the way you laugh
Calms my depression in my soul your my better half,
Every time I see a woman wearing glasses I always think
About you and tears like a waterfalls go swirling down the sink,
So don't be angry with me if I pester you with my love
I want to be by your side just like a lovely fitted glove,
I'm so connected with you that I some times have premonitions
That some times tell me about your life's every conditions,
So here in my solitude with my pen and blank paper as
Writing about my chances to be with you my passions has
"How long can we stay?"
is the question which
does not frame itself
or find our lips.
We are smoke and steam
and half-quenched coals.
A scratchy record rasps
its bluesy-new strains,
"You can't take that away
But we whirr and fade -
in the vacant night.
(Originally appeared in Skylark)
Hope flowered like white candles
who studied everything but flame
Fervently we agreed
to walk a thousand miles
if only to find Keats
We stayed up past midnight
on borrowed electricity
In our youth every word was new
Our lenses—fire opals
We would have rowed barehanded to Rome
to find Shelley or Byron
Outside, milky flowers slept
reminding us of stardust
Heedless of danger we ran into the grass
not knowing our fragility
Now they swirl in memory
those white candles of our dresses
(Prairie Light Review, Spring 2011)
After the fall,
she grasps the tow rope,
pulling herself to the precipice.
Another thrill spreads out
before her next tumble.
He watches her sanity
edging toward air,
no bottom beneath it,
and at the last flailing moment
again snatches her back.
(Published in Muse,
my best friend shook
my trusting hand
and laughed with me
while behind my back he took
my sweet wife
though I suspected
I believed it was a joke
like a fool
looking into a mirror
searching for another face
my sweet woman lived hell
all that time
all those times
and he spat on her
murdering her innocence
telling her to be a good little girl
or I'd find out all about
their nasty little evil
and he'd take her again
my brother would come
into my home
when I wasn't there
and lift my son my sweet baby
and call my sweet young one
and my poor sweet mama
would feel that sick stale
moan in her gut
and say Lord what have I done
and the words thick and sour
would spill from the edges
of her lips upon him
and he would take her
when I came home
I would embrace them
through all their bickering
and tell them to love one another
for God is here and everywhere
so why is this
the old joke
the heart beat beneath
the empty gut
and my brother
he always laughed
and she always cried
in the heat of her damned
nights while I lie
in the kitchen
spiders hid in secret drawers
the light white
like the walls
the floor the windows
the whole world
faking it like she did
having two men in our bed
when I gave to her
all I was
and feeling her
seep into the ugly night
like a malignant shadow
*Sleep is the gift of many spiders,
memories stick to their web.
I see you friend.
Silently, I awake to your absence.
Life is a thin line between two eternities;
what you were before you were born,
what you'll be after you are gone.
Dreams cling to my morning,
making me weep.
*First line of a Carl Sandburg poem
50 years later she still loves you
yea yea yea
but i'm down and need help
rehab on a yellow submarine, back in the town where i was born
i'm still a loser, getting no reply
and i'm in
Misery because my mind aches
i think she doesn't need me, though i want her, i need her
and yet i don't believe her
when she says there are places she remembers
in our life, though some have changed
not for better just forever
because i have come together after all these years
still in a good day sunshine state of mind
like the fool on the hill
it's still a hard day's night when i write
and yesterday though i was only sleeping
i didn't want to spoil the party
so i followed the sun
even when she said "i'd be back again"
so today i will pick up the pen
become a paperback writer
and search once again for those strawberry fields
forever as i
thank you girl for loving me the way that you have
even though i was something of a mother nature's son
you became my sexy sadie, my blackbird
my honey pie
and after all these years
you are still driving me crazy.
p.s. i love you.
fingertips of God and man,
a tiny emptiness,
the Ancient's index poised
near the hopeful nail bed
of full-blown incompleteness.
what is there?
The hand of the Creator
stretching across the Sistine ceiling
to almost give Adam life,
the not-quite-suckled child,
could-have-been comforted friend,
longing lovers in separate rooms—
all of us, reaching across our tiny
emptiness for caress and clasp,
holding and being held,
that meets us in touch.
Old Jimmy took a lock of hair
out from a wooden box where
he kept some odds and ends,
a brass button, his grandfather's horn knife,
gold frames with lenses gone.
She was his wife
those many years passed
when he had hair and she
could still read without glasses,
when the sound of her breath on his pillow
was like his own heartbeat.
The old house is still warm
though the winter wind whistles
through the cracks in the windows.
With a tear he moistens the lock.
Just before dawn,
he puts it back in the wooden box,
lays down on the bed
with his clothes still on.
"I have found if you love life, life will love you back." —Arthur Rubenstein
I had a dream my father stood up, walked
out of his wheelchair into transience,
into life, into that vast Design like
the patient spider who spins gossamer
and listens to Chopin's sonatas. And how
did you play them, Arthur? Did you not
merge with the music and disappear
into the divine? And isn't it time, Father,
for all of us to slip into our own surreal
world, which remains lost until we stand
up, push aside our chair, and reclaim it?
(Published in Exact Change Only,
Wardrobe of who I was
now that I nearly know who I am.
Forgotten in drawers
dark corners of closets
folded layers of life.
Wrinkles in work shirts
around my eyes
across my forehead.
Creases carved by tears.
Seersucker of an old man's skin.
A being in bags and boxes
collected for a rummage sale.
in Verse Wisconsin)
I was climbing up the rungs to a high-bay in my yellow hard hat,
I was a young, Asian woman, in the company of sassy men.
They sat on the edge of scaffolding, saying something to me
I never understood the meanings, but liked the company of men.
I would walk past aisles of twinkling computing machines
I was duly impressed by the company of handy men.
I would sit through scientific presentations and blackboards
filled with long equations in the company of genius men.
Then in my neighborhood, I saw fathers holding milk bottles
to their daughters. Bakul Debi cherished the company of men.
I stand in midwinter
And lift my weary head
To survey a weary world,
Frozen and dead.
I face gray days,
Even sunny frozen days,
When the sun on my cheeks
Leaves no warm.
The sun shines
And January still
And I'm cold and tired,
And perhaps, uninspired.
But, I believe
Beyond the stratosphere
Old Sol is preparing
Two crocuses grew up
in the crowded pot,
as twins, side by side,
purple satin on silver green,
leaning both toward the Spring
though when you look real close
the one, it doesn't seem to matter which,
stands a bit taller than the other,
and the brother, though it matters even less,
has a cleft petal
tipped darker than the rest
and both are beautiful.
And the tall one and the cleft one touch,
though neither pushes on the other.
Siamese they're not,
they feed on common root
but not each other.
Already cousins are waiting,
and neighbors and friends,
the two now here will have to move a bit
to let another grow
and show its splendor
in its time,
they all will stand at various height,
each tall and everyone straight
because the others bent without a bow.
I shall not bare their roots
to trace their ancestry,
and I don't dare disturb the purple family,
but I think I might, in that small space,
plant in the ready soil
a flower of a different race,
a tulip or a daffodil,
and, listening close,
perhaps I'd hear
a hymn of praise from them
and for grace.
Near Trafalgar Square
I found your hay wain
parked in a shallow stream,
wooden wheels resting
quiet in the water.
Your ducks were not skittish
like pigeons thronging
under Lord Nelson's column,
didn't ask for bread,
land on arm or head,
nor flee the dog
so quiet on the bank.
The cottage, green trees,
field of hay, laughed
at Charing Cross commerce.
Bright sky, nimbus clouds
called to me.
John Constable, can't we
ride that wain together,
hear the concert
at St. Martin's in the Fields -
whose name, at least,
will match our mood.
let's stop by the cottage
for shortbread, hot tea, conversation
before you hitch the horses up again
to take me home.
(First published in
Ancient Hearts Magazine)
In the drafty shelter,
the homeless idea
idles on a lumpy mattress,
dreaming of life
in a novel or poem.
Oh, the clothes she would wear
of velvet and silk,
the jewels that would glitter
nickles on her pale wrist,
the friends who'd invite her
to sumptuous suppers
was served from silver
The hour grows late.
Lights out is announced.
She plumps her pillow
and pulls a blanket
over her boniness.
she'll finally tackle
for work at the graveyard.
I live for two months each winter
along an old Hawaiian path, through
a nineteenth century prince's ranch,
cutting down a steep hill to Anini Beach.
That trail, weaving between a mile-long
double row of gnarled old eucalyptus,
conveys a diverse scattering: locals
wearing baseball caps walking their
dogs, designer-dressed tourists sporting
new sneakers, and homeless people
in knit skullcaps bearing fat backpacks.
Beyond our cottage, the trail suddenly
dives over the precipice into a tangle
of mangrove hiding a gurgling stream
that weaves a tumble of lava boulders
lost in perpetual twilight.
The leafy overhead canopy rises from
massive grit-brown limbs of aged mango
guarding this steep path. The plunging
escarpment feels like a jeep trail on steroids.
At the bottom, under spreading naupaka trees,
a rainbow of pup tents lines the narrow beach.
The lagoon stretches mirror-smooth to distant
breakers faintly rumbling on the edge of a reef.
Once the sun sets snorkelers and locals depart,
leaving personas non gratis the million dollar
view of a moonlit bay and its overhead dome
of the brilliant Milky Way. Tourists and day
visitors don't realize those campers are illegal
squatters. They light forbidden campfires
on the beach, smoke weed, and sample
the offerings of their unattached neighbors
overnighting on the darkened sands.
Oh whilliker thistledown, angel-may-care
if the pins of all dumbledom fly through the air
and tinkle quite prinkly with scatter and scorn--
who am I, I ask you, and how was I born?
Universe, schmuniverse, big bang or no,
let comets be vomits lit up as they go;
let galaxies stretch till they reach golly gee,
but where was I, why am I, who will I be?
Theological thinkers and scholarly fakes
pretend with Godthority, footnotes, and spakes,
assuring, demurring to cover their gap,
but all they produce is implausible crap.
Oh wiffle-ball shuffle-through, devil-be-joke,
instead of the experts, I'll hang with the folk
who don't know from nothin' how we became we
but never were not and will never not be.
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