Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Voices in the Dark

I was on my way out the door
but there was no door
only darkness
profound darkness
and before you think “Black Hole”
there was no swirling energy
the only word that fits
is “nothing”
nothing  to even
speak the word “nothing”
no fear, no joy, nothing
and I only know this
when the voices
those voices, what were they saying?
was that my name?
the world began to turn
the voices again
were they talking about me?
who are these people?
all I see are blue panted legs
another voice, “let’s stand him up”
“now, sit him down”
and someone pushed a chair behind me
“Oh, I have to throw up”
a white bucket, black bile
I look around, my small room
filled with EMT’s
packing up their tools
an ambulance  gurney
as I’m wheeled out the door
a fireman places
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
on my chest
how did he know I would be hungry?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Tourist Train

my thoughts are like a tourist train
slowly moving out of dark forest
towards the limitless ocean
the cars filled with beings
who don’t live here, just visiting
happy children waving
parents cautiously smiling
grandparents tense,
they know where this ends
I sit and watch
suppressing the desire to climb on

Friday, March 27, 2015


The man in the apartment next to me
over ninety, WWII veteran
hard of hearing
talk radio, the background of his day
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity
relentless rage pounds through the wall
fear it, fear it, fear it
ebola carrying ISIS terrorists
streaming across our porous border
while our socialist Kenyan president
spends his days playing golf
“can you believe it”
screams a voice on the edge of hoarseness
“No” I whisper and
I put on my noise cancelling headphones
and Mozart’s Serenade in B flat

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Corner Drug Store

Candy wrappers blown up against
   the chain-link fence
outside the small store on the corner
It was many things to many people,
to my mother it was a pharmacy
   dispensing little gray pills
To children it was a candy store
a display case, its glass window
sloping away as if recoiling
from small sticky fingers pointing
at a roll of paper covered in colored
   candy spots or
wax figurines of dogs and horses
who dared you to bite their heads off
just to get to the sweet colored juices inside,
soon discarded out on the sidewalk
black spots of wax melting in the sun
a cemetery of headless juiceless animals
Then there was the marble-topped
   soda fountain with its spinning stools and
spigots of foaming water and green river sodas
I would slap down my quarter
the price of a hot fudge sundae
two scoops of vanilla ice cream
covered with thick steaming chocolate
   with a cherry on top
my mother’s never ending supply of quarters
transformed a skinny kid into a fat one
of course hormones had nothing to do with that
those hormones did turn my head away from
   sodas and sundaes
to the rack of paperbacks with lurid covers
they were called pocket-books
indeed some did find their way into
   my pocket or under my shirt
my first venture into theft
my expedition into the mysteries
of adults who seemed to be interested
in things other than candy.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Frozen in Time

we are frozen in time
and can only imagine the future
the past only a memory
like the face stone on Mars
we are just here
the walls of our mind display
images that are so, so vivid
then the projector clicks and
a new scene unfolds
like some bad science fiction novel
we are trapped
and can only imagine a way out
while we wait until it’s time to leave

Monday, December 2, 2013


         “Speak Memory”  -- Vladimir Nabokov

the smallest sound, scent or motion
triggers a flood of memories
a river that pushes me along
helpless to control it

I sit here peeling a tangerine
sliding a finger between
the skin and the fruit
that sweet fruit

then it pours out
the memory
sitting in your bedroom
watching you undress
you slide your fingers
between your stockings and your skin
unconscious of the effect it has on me

and so, many years later
tangerine in hand
I bite into a section
the sweet juice mixed with the bitter

Monday, September 2, 2013


The man on the television,
bow tie, active adam’s apple,
“It’s really quite simple,” he said,
gravitation in the space-time continuum,
he dramatically swept out his right arm and
his image retreated to the lower right corner of the screen
the screen filled with intersecting lines,
all at right angles, like graph  paper,
like the map of some prairie town.
In the center, the lines sagged, bent downward
“space is curved” he said
“and this is a gravity well” pointing at the dip in the graph.
“imagine a ball,” and a ball magically appears.
The ball slowly circled, drawn into the vortex
spiraling down

The ballroom, the parquet floor,
square laid beside square
music swirling, dancers turning
I stand fixed in the corner
across the room, through the bodies, your face
I became unpinned,
untethered, everything  undone
and my heart began to slowly circle
pulled into the gravity well of your eyes

Sunday, January 6, 2013


First one boot dropped, then the other. A slow even exhalation of air slipped through rounded lips; followed by a sigh of satisfaction as he pulled at his socks. Cool air, hot feet. He bent over his rather large belly and started to massage his feet. He was thus arrayed when I entered the room. The worn out boots adorned with damp blue socks. I contemplated at what point the ratio of holes to fabric would change my understanding of when a sock passed into no-sock. While I pondered this, I noticed a faint cheesy odor slowly filling the room.

“I hope you don’t mind me making myself comfortable,” he luxuriated over the last word and added, “My feet needed a little air.”

This was my introduction to “Henk’”, a friend, a very dear friend of my father. I had been expecting him. Pop called, saying that Henk needed a stopover point on his way down south. The two of them would be going fishing out on the Gulf.

As I had walked up to my apartment building                                               I saw the dented old pickup with muddy Alaska plates out front, I walked over to see if Henk was sleeping in the back. I pulled back the loose flap on the end of a wood frame which had green duck canvas stretched tightly over it. I supposed that this was an “Alaskan Camper”, homemade, designed to fit over the slightly askew bed of the pickup. The same cheesy odor wafted from it. No Henk. I figured that he had wondered down to 45th St. for a cup of coffee. I was very surprised to find him inside my locked apartment.

Did see my Ol’ Whip outside?” he asked.
I imagined some kind of dog sled implement of encouragement. “Huh?” I responded as I edged backwards a step towards the door.

“You know, Ol’ Whippoorwill, my dog … kind of black … stands about this high,” pointing at his hip. “She’s harmless enough … the only sudden move she makes is to nip at fleas.”

“No, I didn’t see any dog …” My voice trailed off as I noticed out the window this large black animal crossing the street with a pure white cockatiel hanging limply in its mouth.

Henk followed my eyes, “Oh, there she is …” paused, “Well … I s’pose I should fed her before I came up here. I guess I got distracted by that lock on your door. Never seen one of them before. What is it, some kind of combination lock? Took me nearly ten minutes to crack it.”

My apartment was one of those new ones with all sorts of electronic gadgets. If he thought the door lock was unusual, wait until he used the light switch.

“By the way, you might want to talk to that nosy lady down the hall. She probably didn’t realize I’m sort of “family.” She seemed a little put out when she saw me fussing over that lock.”

The flashing blue lights on the cop cars down on the street explained the heavy pounding on the door.

Henk looked a little sheepish, “Well how about that.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How many times?

What was said to the rose
that made it open
was said to me
 – Rumi

How many times
How many times had I turned
the corner of the barn
along side the gray
splintered redwood siding
a flash of color
yellow tipped red petals of a rose
just a single stem
pulled by the afternoon sun
a flower springing from rocks and gravel
How many times had I been here and not seen it
my mind, my thoughts remote, my jaw hard

it was planted when the barn was built
      by a worn-out farmer’s wife
looking for some sweetness in her life
     she presented this gift to the world
maybe he would see it
and it would soften his heart
     but he never did
passing back and forth all his life
and when he died, she buried him
covering his grave with rocks as hard as his heart

How many times had I passed by here?
   maybe it was the angle of the sun
   or perhaps the dying afternoon breeze

How many times?

Friday, April 20, 2012


My eye caught a slight movement off to the left
she was about ten, curly blond hair
large blue and yellow flowers on a crisp white dress
I followed her eyes. She was looking over my shoulder
there it was, charging out of the grassy meadow
a huge brown bear at full gallop its back bristled
its roar resounded inside my chest
I stood transfixed as it passed, so close
I could feel its hot breath
on it went, swallowed by the morning mist
back in the middle of the meadow,
from where the beast had come
stood a single tree its branches
covered with the pale green buds of Spring
I slumped back into my chair
a blank sheet of paper
the pen, the ink already flowing.