Total Pageviews

Monday, April 27, 2009


Another "longing" poem

That dream again,
the one where
you’re away,
just not there.
First an airport
I’ve never seen,
then a house
we’ve never been.
The phone won’t
work. Oh, now yes,
but your number?
I guess.
Wrong again
and now my legs
molasses bound,
my heart begs
for mercy from
this endless chase,
you’re never found,
not one small trace.
You’d likely think,
after forty years,
the dream would end,
but still it appears


I'm doing a poem-a-day challenge for all of April, on Writers Digest dot com. I'm also having knee surgery this week. Today's prompt is "longing". How appropriate.


I get cut on this week,
On Day 29.
The Badge of Completion
will it still be mine?
Yes, I yearn for the day
I can hike trails again,
but the poems, oh the poems,
will I sing the refrain?
The surgeon is scheduled,
the room is all set
I really can’t change it,
I know this, and yet…

Eli and Ely and Me

My neighbor's grandson and I are writing a story together, at his direction. It is further down the blog. He just told me I was spelling his name wrong.

Eli and Ely and Me

Eli can read now,
says his name is wrong,
he’s an Elijah.
He’s become seven,
becoming who he’ll be.
Should I argue he is Eli,
Ely the Eel just a fiction?
Should he rule, or
ought I let him lose?
Can we find perfection?
Not that this is really
about communication.
This is Eli becoming Eli.
This is me loving Eli.
This is me loving Ely.
This is me becoming me,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Clean Sheets Day

with acknowlegement to Dharma & Greg

Hurray, hurray, it’s Clean Sheets Day.
No time to read, no time to play.
Tasks abound, they always do,
grocery shopping, ironing too.
I promised, after all those miles,
to be of service, wearing smiles.
I cook the meals, sometimes well.
I love it when they cast a spell
of happiness, unfettered glee,
it really means so much to me
to see the pleasure it gives you,
it’s truly selfish, what I do.
The cleaning is, at best, not bad,
we need those visits from the maid.
I hope it agrees with my honey,
I need help, the maid needs money.
The dishes are an easy chore,
it cleans my fingernails, what’s more.
But nothing seems so much like play
as Thursday, known as Clean Sheets Day.
Towels, undies, pants, a shirt
are ridden of their nasty dirt.
I always save the sheets for last,
so they’re the final item cast
upon the bed before we sleep,
their clean fresh fragrance ours to keep
in memory as we drift off,
our daily aches so soon to doff,
remembering at last to pray
we’ll make it to next Clean Sheets Day.

What A Wonderful Day It Has Been III

What a wonderful day it has been.
I sat with Peter, Jayne’s husband,
lunching with Kate, Jayne’s friend,
and Aaron and his Richard, Jayne’s son
and son-in-law.
Jayne was somewhere, painting.
My Barbara, too.
An accidental meeting between us,
way, way, way high up
in a small Tuscan village.
The food looked fabulous.
I wasn’t hungry, so I passed.
I wasn’t thirsty, either,
but I drank their wine.
We talked,
then we walked,
and talked some more,
about nothing, mostly.
Not even about Jayne.
Or Barbara.
We rode down
to our hotel town
in a bright red funicular
and never once thought to
sing Volare.
What a wonderful day it has been.

Sadaam’s Statue Falls, 4.9.03

Sadaam’s Statue Falls, 4.9.03

Three weeks ago,
I felt an odd guilt
about invading Iraq.

Today, I am grateful,
that scores of humans,
for at least a few hours,
would not be torn apart by
screaming metal,
searing fire.

Today, I am sad,
sad for the loved ones
in San Diego,
in Karbala,
in Twenty-Nine Palms,
in Des Moines,
in Al Kut.
I am sad
for the children of Basrah,
released from five years’ captivity,
only to rejoin a world of
looting and vengeance.
I am sad for
the well-meaning anti-war souls
whose legitimacy can be somehow
toppled like a statue.
I am sad
for the young warrior
who will be the last to die in Iraq.
What will be his name?
What will be her legacy?

Today, I am worried.
I am worried this pyrrhic victory
will inspire more preemptive strikes,
when what are needed are
preemptive education and
preemptive medicine and
preemptive food.

Three weeks ago
I feared that,
for one modern-day,
Arabic-speaking FDR,
the first dropped bomb
marked our own day of infamy.

Today, I am reminded
again, yet again,
how no one
hates war more
than the warrior

Today, I am aware,
once more, yet once more,
that wars are fought
by our children,
and by theirs.

Today, I know
that thousands will die,
more will be crippled,
and then, yes then,
there will be
another war.

Today, I am alone,
trying to not think of it,
any of it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

News of the Wierd

Pregnant woman hit by car while running from bear:

Ashley Swendsen had a really bad day. The pregnant woman, 26, was chased by a bear and then struck by a car as she fled across a road. The driver checked on Swendsen and then left the scene before Colorado Springs Police officers arrived.Swendsen, who is five months pregnant, did not suffer serious injuries, but was taken to Memorial Hospital as a precaution, police said. She was treated and released. Thebear was not so lucky Colorado Division of Wildlife officials tranquilized and captured a female, 230-pound black bear in the area.After Swendsen identified her as the attacker - noting its cinnamon colour - the bear was destroyed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Natalie Calls II

I have a longish essay about regrets and about not taking the time to be friends with those we should, titled Natalie Calls. This is the shortened, poetic version.

Natalie Calls II

Natalie awoke,
like every day,
then her breath caught
she passed away.

Her heart was fine
the doctors said,
but they were wrong
and she was dead.

We were pals,
neighbors then,
we hadn’t earned
the title friend.

Too busy we,
all of us,
and just like that
we’d missed the bus.

I was sad,
truly irate.
We didn’t take time,
now its too late.

I’ll never let
this be again.
I’ll never wait
to call a friend,

or visit family,
e-mail a mate,
there isn’t time,
no one should wait.

We don’t have later
for what we’d say.
We just have now,
only today.

My Favorite Films of 2008

In general, I did not find it to be a great year for film. Maybe I'm getting a little jaded, seeing so many feature length and short films each year as a screener for the Palm Springs International Film Festival and ShortFest, many of them mediocre or worse. Perhaps the DVD world of Netflix has made us all too limited in patience. My friend, Ed, says that he would never walk out of a movie he had paid to see, back in the day. But now, it's all too easy to hit "eject" and slide in another. We'll have to see how 2009 goes, but, for now, here are the films I most appreciated in 2008:

In Bruges
Gran Torino
Everlasting Moments
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married
The Reader
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Band's Visit
Man On Wire
Frozen River

Netflix remains a great source of little gems. I especially enjoy small films, and one I recommend often is Elsa and Fred...check it out.

Harmony II


You’re so lucky,
I said.
she asked.

You have had me
to love.
She laughed.

No, really,
I am so in need of love
You have loved so well.

I tried,
She said.
Oh, way more than try.
You did so well.

And now?
Who will you love?
she said, at last.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Some of My Faves

a great site...check it out





and, of course...

My Favorite Films

The African Queen
America, America
American Graffiti
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Being There
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Bicycle Thief
Bonnie and Clyde
The Boys in Company C
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Central Station
Citizen Kane
City Lights
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dark Passage
Dances With Wolves
Day For Night
Dersu Uzala
Dr. Strangelove
Doctor Zhivago
Duck Soup
Easy Rider
E.T. The Extraterrestial
Farewell My Concubine
The General
The Godfather, Parts I & II
Gone With the Wind
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gosford Park
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
How the West Was Won
It’s A Wonderful Life
It Happened One Night
La Dolce Vita
Lawrence of Arabia
Letters From Iwo Jima
The Lion In Winter
The Lives of Others
The Maltese Falcon
A Man for All Seasons
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Midnight Cowboy
Miracle On 34th Street
Modern Times
Murder, My Sweet
The Music Man
Mutiny On the Bounty
A Night At the Opera
No Country For Old Men
North By Northwest
Once Upon A Time in the West
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
On the Waterfront
The Ox-Bow Incident
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Raise the Red Lantern
Rear Window
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rosemary’s Baby
Schindler’s List
The Seven Samurai
Singin’ In the Rain
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Some Like It Hot
The Sound of Music
Star Wars
Strangers On a train
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Boulevard
Taxi Driver
The Thin Man
The Third Man
A Thousand Clowns
2001: A Space Odyssey
Tom Jones
West Side Story
The Wild Bunch
Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Winchester 73
The Wizard of Oz
Zorba the Greek


A Missing Touch

What ever happened
to touching?
A grandmother's caress,
patting a fuzzy cheek,
a wayword curl;
young (and old) lovers,
hand in hand;
airport hugs;
all so very public,
all so very sincere.

Well, 9/11 happened,
and AIDS happened, and
sexual harassment
happened, and any number
of repressive
ideas happened.

So, let's fight back,
resist the fear,
reject the nonsense,
get off that computer,
be back in love,
hug our neighbors,
kiss our spouse,
wrestle with children,
shake with both hands.

This touching thing,
too good to miss.

Shared Quarters

Shared Quarters

I awoke
to see
an NVA
or was it
really a VC?

He was
seven feet away
or was it
only three?

He was
badly hurt,
wrapped and tied,
or was he
actually free?

He was
a prisoner,
or was it
truly me?

He was
dying now,
or trying to get free?

I awoke
to see
my enemy,
and he
was simply me.

Supposedly Anti-Love

Time and Tide

So we start with love
and add some strife
the real kind, you know,
the facts of life.

True Love exists,
it really thrives,
but speed bumps enter
all our lives.

Add a baby,
sleepless nights,
spats at first,
then the fights.

Trouble at work,
some unpaid bills,
a broken car,
the usual ills.

Daily chores
win the bout,
lovely meals
become take-out.

Hair gets thin
and no one’s slimmer,
sex becomes
a distant glimmer.

But we survive
we really do,
there’s something better,
something new.

True Love seems
like simple lust
when we develop
faith and trust.

Experience and
time can teach
that happiness
is in our reach.

Forget True Love,
let it rest
seek Anti-Love,
it’s for the best.

Anti-Love survives
the rages,
and sees us through
our golden ages.

True Love gives
a mighty start,
but Anti-Love
has all the heart.



The trick
in writing is
to not write
the parts
folks don’t read.

The trick
of painting is
knowing where
not to
put the brush.

The trick
of life is
in our
gots and nots.

What A Wonderful Day It Has been II

It’s been a long
winter season, yet
what a wonderful day it has been.
the Palm Desert snowbirds
came for dinner.
and some desert rats, too.
Ellie, the perfect hostess
makes an even better guest.
Barbara brought her John.
He’s nice - charming, really.
She says she’s an old broad,
but a young widow.
We ate a lot of Greek
and drank a lot of everything.
Doug asked Bonnie
if she could still feel her nose.
She said yes.
Well, then, have another drink.
Jim said good-night.
Three times.
The ladies weren’t ready,
so he sat and didn’t watch TV.
Spring is here.
What a wonderful day it has been.

What A Wonderful Day It Has Been

What a wonderful day it has been.
After a long, long, long flight,
filled, filled, filled with Tahiti-bound Parisians,
we awoke in our own bed,
clean sheets and familiar pillows,
Roxie and Brutus purring
between our legs.
We heard the little golf course mowers,
softer than Italian Vespa’s.
We drank Starbucks coffee
and ate Cheerios with soy milk,
hard bread and Nescafe a fading memory.
No tour bus,
no tourists,
no special scenic side trips.
Traveling is nice.
Being home is nicer.
What a wonderful day it has been.

Small Annoyances

Small Annoyances

must think that
are hazardous

In themselves,
Are never annoying.
Cats don’t care.

The question,
Are the answer.

How To...

How to Lose Weight

How to lose weight:

How to feel better:

How to choose peace:

How to find happiness:

I'd Rather...

I’d Rather

I’d rather
be kind
than be right

I’d rather
seek peace
than hate war

I’d rather
than begrudge

I’d rather
than require

I’d rather
find good
than fight evil

I’d rather
than need loving

I’d rather
be me
than another

4,000+ Deaths Ago

April 9, 2003

Three weeks ago, I felt guilt about invading Iraq.

Today, I felt grateful that, at least for a few hours, scores of humans would not be torn apart by screaming metal and searing fire.

Today, also, I am sad. I am sad for the loved ones in San Diego and Karbala, in Twenty-Nine Palms and Tikrit, in Des Moines and Al Kut. I am sad for the children of Basrah, released from five years’ captivity, only to rejoin a world of looting and vengeance. I am sad for the well-meaning anti-war souls whose legitimacy can be somehow toppled like a statue. I am sad for the young warrior who will be the last to die in Iraq.

Today, to, I am worried. I am worried that apparent “victory” will reinforce the doctrine of preemptive strike, when what are needed are preemptive education and preemptive medicine and preemptive food.

Three weeks ago I feared that, for one modern-day, Arabic-speaking FDR, the first dropped bomb perhaps marked our own day of infamy.

Today, I am trying not to think of it – any of it.

User manual for Being Human

User Manual for Being Human

The best things in life aren’t things

Never pass on an opportunity to keep your mouth closed

If you can’t spot the sucker at a poker table, you’re probably it

If everyone agrees with you, it’s likely that you’re wrong

It’s better to build your own library than to be given one

You don’t ask, you don’t get

If you see a gun in a movie, it’s going to get used

Be prepared to lose once in awhile

If you have to borrow something more than twice, you need one of your own

Always give a serious answer when a child asks “why?”

Forgive your enemies. You’ll feel good and it annoys them

Try not to confuse vested interests with moral truisms

Choose being wrong over being ridiculous

If you want to be interesting, be interested

Share the credit

Do something every day that you don’t want to do

Bring something to a bar besides your elbows

If there’s no wind, paddle

Don’t mistake caffeine for enthusiasm

Never watch the eleven o’clock news

Kindness is everything. Say thank-you

What I Want

What Do I Want?

What do I want?
I want a total lack
of discretion.
I want you to be free
of all inhibitions.
I want you alive,
unattached to attachments.
When I cook, I want you to
make chewing noises
and full-mouth mumbles of appreciation.
When I launder, I want you to shout,
“Hooray, hooray, it’s clean sheets day!”
When we kiss and hug,
I want you to laugh.
I want you to know that
I love you, always.
Oh, and I want you to clean the kitty litter, too.

To-Do List 11.27.05

To-Do List, 11.27.05

Shop for dinner

Make soup

Visit Michael

Call about our will

Develop audacious personality

Moisturize feet

Time Apart

Time Apart

He said, I told your
kitties you don’t
love them anymore.

They know better,
I said.

I told them we
were only
leaving for half an hour.

Good thing they’re
not dogs.

I Like A House With Books

I Like A House With Books

I like a house
with books,
and magazines and newspapers
as well,
not too neatly piled,

I enjoy a home
with smells,
real ones
from cooking and cleaning
and such,
no vanilla need apply.

I crave a life
with peace,
yet welcome are
the bumps
and fever
of sincere living.

I cherish friends
who last,
the ones who
who we
really are.

Dear Mike


She has a
wonder filled heart
and it finds hope
in the oddest places.

You are like her.
So Am I.
No wonder
we like her.

I wish I’d said that,
he said.
You did,
I said.

I see,
he said.
I’m sure I haven’t,
but it’s nice of you
to say.

He said,
I wonder what
you'll say
I said,



I love it
when we kiss
our noses bump,
and we laugh.



You’re so lucky,
I said.
she asked.

You have me
to love.
She laughed.

No, really,
I am so in need of love
You love so well.

I try,
She said.
Oh, way more than try.
You do so well.

A Call To Action

Natalie Calls

Natalie woke just as she had every day. She sat up and smiled at Alex, her friend and
husband of 25 years. Then her breath caught in her throat and she died.

Natalie’s son was to graduate from Duke in a few months, and she had so wanted to
attend the ceremony. She knew she had a heart valve in need of repair, but feared post-surgical recuperation would prevent a trip from Marin County, California to North Carolina. Besides, her doctors felt it wasn’t an emergency. It was.

This is not a story about maladroit medical professionals, however, even though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that the doctors should have advised Natalie to schedule herself earlier. But, she was still in her 40’s. There was no reason for her – or us – to fear or suspect sudden death. She had plenty of time. That we were all wrong is the real lesson to be learned.

A few weeks shy of AARP qualification, Natalie always seemed to be smiling. Unusual for a real estate agent in a cutthroat market, she was loved by her colleagues. At her funeral services, many mourners stood outside in the late December rain, for lack of room in the pews.

Natalie and Alex had purchased an identical, adjoining house, 18 months before she died. My wife and I had lived in ours for 7 years, and the renovations were long completed. Barbara worked as a real estate appraiser, and the two of them hit it off immediately. Both of them viewed several houses each week, and their remodeling urges were constantly stimulated. While our makeover budget was mostly spent, Natalie was just tapping into hers. Frequently she’d call to report a new idea, or she came calling with her contractor in tow.

Although my interest in remodeling had disappeared when the two-week upgrade of our master bedroom turned into a two-month disaster, I loved it when Natalie called. She was so energetic and enthusiastic and optimistic. More importantly, it wasn’t our money at work, and both of us enjoyed her company.

We saw a lot of Natalie and Alex. Only once, however, did we actually sit down in a semi-formal situation. Early on, we simultaneously extended dinner invitations, and we settled on a movable feast, including some other neighbors as well. In the succeeding year, we attempted many times to get together again. It never worked out. We were both always too busy with other things. We never sat down again for an evening devoted to just being friends. Of course, we would see each other and chat. It was always a pleasure to see them, especially Natalie, with her smiles and effervescence. We always left those encounters with the promise to “get together soon.” Well, “soon” never happened. And then she died.

On the morning of Natalie’s death, I’d said to Barbara, “That’s it. We’re getting together with Alex and Natalie tonight. No excuses. If they’re busy, we’ll take the wine next door.” I even wrote myself a note - ALEX & NATALIE!!!! – and taped it to my computer monitor, so I’d remember to call them as soon as I got home from work. I didn’t see any reason to call at 6:00 AM, so I let it go for later.

I learned that “later” wouldn’t be soon enough. Our neighborhood gossip ran across the street when I pulled into the driveway to yell that “Natalie died this morning”, before I could get out of the car. My first reaction was disbelief. He told me what little he knew. I walked away without excusing myself. Sadness and emptiness overcame my sense of manners.

By the time I was in the house, I recalled my morning plans. In case I’d forgotten, the note on the monitor shouted out a reminder. Sadness gave way to anger and regret. We’d waited too long. We’d wasted our opportunities. We’d thought we had all the time in the world, and we didn’t even have tonight.

I promised myself to never let this happen again.

I’ve memorialized Natalie in a very personal manner. I vowed to never let friendship slide, to never let love go unspoken, not for a day, not even for an hour. Life today is filled with means of instant communication – cell phones, the Internet, faxes – excuses need not apply.

Soon after Natalie’s death, I found the perfect way to act on my promise to myself. Talking to a friend about a cousin in Wisconsin who’d made a huge difference in my life, I realized I was telling the wrong person. I immediately called my cousin and told her how important she was to me, how much I loved her and how she’d contributed to my happiness. It was wonderful on both ends of the call. She had things to tell me as well. Had it not been for Natalie, the call might never have been made.

Since, I have made hundreds of such connections. Sometimes it’s to old friends. Often, it’s to people currently in my life, living at a distance. Occasionally, it’s a famous person I want to acknowledge.

I’ve written sports heroes and actors. I’ve connected with high school classmates. A few years ago, I contacted Ken, my algebra teacher and basketball coach at age 14. “I’m a better person for knowing you”, I said. He was thrilled to hear from me.

That’s the best part of what I’ve come to refer to as my “Natalie Calls.” The people that I’ve connected with are all happy I did so. Many times, they’ve been in distress. The contact with someone who appreciates them is the perfect medicine. Often, the person I’ve called tells me they were just thinking about me. Funny how that works. Nearly every celebrity I’ve written has responded with humility and gratitude.

Ken and I have maintained our initial re-connection, and we were recently able to spend time together, after nearly 40 years of separation. It was a simple day, just lunch and conversation. It was also an extraordinary day, one of the best in my experience. We are in regular communication now. We share our lives. What a gift.

My most important Natalie Calls are the ones I make every day, to friends and relatives. Maybe I saw them only yesterday, or spoke to them last week. But, if I miss someone, I tell them. If I love someone, I let them know. Now.

Natalie taught me we only have this moment. We don’t even have tonight.

Thank you, Natalie.

Some Recent Poems


You pout,
A kitten cries,
Fog curtains the sun.

You smile,
The Buddha sighs,
A rainbow pauses.

You point your tongue,
My heart laughs,
A summer shower.

It Works For me

It works for me this life of joy
that I have gained as a geisha boy,
serving my wife and others too,
daily happiness in what I do,
this world of excellent employ.

Could there be more to enjoy
were I in routine paid employ?
Writing, painting, film screening too,
it works for me, this life of joy.

No monthly check, no store-bought toy
could equal when someone calls, “boy”,
How can I be of aid to you?
It’s the most selfish thing I do.
It works for me this life of joy.

About the Haiku

Always three lines,
some say a focus on
nature must thrive.
Others insist
a season
we see,
unrhymed slice of life
with epiphany.
A pivotal point
‘tween lines two and three,
all said in one breath
with great brevity.
Present tense mandated,
minimalist view, but
if you use humor, it
becomes senryu.
Some think a hybrid
form should be free
of anyone’s mandates
for natural plea
I say, just write,
describe but don’t tell
unless it’s a haibun,
which works just as well.


You scrunch up your nose,
A forsaken infant laughs.
A summer shower.

My heart sings its song,
Spring rains on the horizon.
We must mend the roof

Cool light from afar
Summer crops need attending
bees remain divine

Summer heat arrives
Snowbirds flee, ants fear the rain
The monks pray for peace.

Trees tremble in fear
Earth's fever removes rivers
Spring's new lambs still sleep

Birds waver in flight
fall's invisible thermals
still meditation

and, for the modernists...

Awaiting the nurse
hoping she will be pleasant
what does it matter

and just for fun:

Haiku? I hardly know you


If you like art forms, or care about living things, this is the blog for you. Poetry, essays, watercolor, acrylics, films, novels, music...pick your pleasure. I'll post my own work, and anyone else's which catch my eye, as painful as that sounds. I'll recommend books and films, some so obscure they don'y even make it to So, as my Walt, my fellow Living Poet on the Poetic Asides section of, says, "come little goldfish in my pond, interact, don't be koi."