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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Aiming to Please

He knew it best to
follow his gut when it
came to his scribblings,
to let his stomach tell him
the truth, when his need
for approval tried to
lead him astray.
Pretty eclectic in his
reading, he still liked them
sweet and short, to the point,
but slanted a bit, too.
I mean, who needs to actually
employ that word
in a poem about love?
That’s not to say that
that Browning woman didn’t
have a lot to say, having
led an interesting life.
And those beat poets
followed a well-walked path,
letting their need for read,
and sometimes weed, get them
to a place where they used
more words than they
themselves needed.
The more recent laureates
and near-laureates
seemed to get it, Ryan and Collins
leading the young century with
brevity and wit.
He knew it best to
follow his gut, but
those damn buttons,
send and post and share,
so easy to push, so easy to
let them lead him into temptation,
when he knew to follow his heart.


As inevitably as spring
leads to summer,
fall follows.
As assuredly as heart
leads to joy,
love follows.
As completely as
love leads to sharing,
peace follows.
As securely as
peace leads to calm,
life follows.
As predictably as
life leads to death,
new life follows.
As inevitably as fall
leads to winter,
spring follows.

Falling Up

Falling up requires towering imagination,
like a book read backwards,
with reverse pagination.
What if rain fell upwards?
I see it clearly, can’t you?
Then how would a rainbow assemble,
perhaps as the brightest horseshoe?
I know some folks must think it quite stupid,
then some folks think love comes from Cupid.
Niagara Falls would have to flow up, not down
but your own falls wouldn’t lead to a frown,
falling up, it’s the new falling down.
What about physical laws, you say?
Ignore them, they’ll just float away.
Gravity? Schmavity .
And those dreams, hopes and wishes
which today float away?
They’ll naturally fall back to your heart,
where they’ll stay.


It’s old men who send our young to war.
I don’t listen to them anymore.
It’s time to stand up, say nevermore,
it’s old men who send our young to war.
I’ve seen the play and ask once more,
what the hell are we fighting for?
It’s old men who send our young to war.
I don’t listen to them anymore.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Prayer is not Enough

If we would savor the drink of peace,
if we would drink from the cup of
change in the world,
we must put something on the bar
besides our elbows.

If we would make a difference,
if we would overcome conflict and toast
reconciliation and enlightenment,
we must be doing
as much as being and having.

Pray for peace, always,
a blessing which must be earned.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

and sometimes edits are even more than enough...

Just Right

Away from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
yet my life is still a work in progress.
Maybe too much green, perhaps a dab of cerise, and yet,
away from the easel, I see that it’s complete.
Some lush strokes, others thinner, the whole of the canvas
what matters, not every mistake should be fixed.
Away from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
yet my life is still a work in progress.

Too Much is Still Not Enough

Standing back from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
my life still a work in progress.
Maybe too much green, perhaps a dab of cerise, and yet,
standing back from the easel, I see that it’s complete.
Some lush strokes, others thinner, the whole of the canvas
is what matters, and not every mistake should be fixed.
Standing back from the easel, I see that it’s complete,
my life still a work in progress.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nothing is Separate

There is a Santa Rosa plum tree,
which I planted,
on the 118th day of 1975,
over the septic field
in the more-or-less-an-acre
at 6045 Hyland Way,
Penngrove, California.

There is the world
as it is and
there is the world
which we see.
I am certain, however,
that I am in that tree
and that tree is in me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Despite the Tears

Non, je ne regrette rien,
so sang the little sparrow,
second thoughts one thing,
non, je ne regrette rien
still another, even when she lost
her child, her love, her sight,
non, je ne regrette rien,
so sang the little sparrow.

Love Me for My Faults

Oconomowoc High School,
Class of ’62,
fifty-year reunion coming,
so very much to do.
New clothing must be purchased,
something dark and slimming,
my barber’s consultation
on the matter of beard trimming.
Check my Google pages,
make sure they’re up to date,
must impress my old friends
with poetry first rate.
Have to join a gym,
lose forty pounds of fat,
can’t show up obese,
there’s no doubt of that.
Reservations to be made,
hotel, car and fly…oh crap,
on second thought, perhaps
I’ll just have another piece of pie.

ten by ten, 10 x 10

we are challenged to write a poem with ten lines, ten syllables in each line. My efforts:

Greek Wedding

There’s magic in a wedding, Big Fat Greek,
or otherwise. There’s mystery as well,
to the old folks, no surprise. There’s uncles
and aunts, cousins distant and close, nieces,
nephews and yia yia’s, parents and brothers
the most important of all. Midst the din
and the joy, just a small touch of madness,
make no mistake, there’s also great gladness,
laughter and smiles, the start of life anew,
abracadabra, now one made from two



One of us will die first, one left behind.
One of us will remain, it’s just the kind
of trap we’ve woven for ourselves, this spin
of the wheel, however we feel, it’s in
understanding this we can have the best
of our lives, this friendship thing, the real test
not in who dies first, in who longer lives,
but in the now moment, this is what gives
joy to the two of us, the daily win,
not in waiting for our lives to begin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Message Found In a Desk Drawer

Thank you for completing me,
this not being the last thing I
ever did, yet it was
left hanging,
waiting for your role.
Did I die well?
I had given the matter great thought,
well, frequent thought at least,
perhaps not so profound.
My preference would have been
for the least untidy end, free of trauma,
for me, to be sure,
but even more for the discoverer.
I had thought it would be best to be
asleep at the time, but maybe not so,
possibly at my desk,
one last comma to insert,
or to remove.
I did not want it to be in public,
strangers made awkward by the intrusion,
but my fondness for my loves
led me to wish for not at home.
Ah, the dilemma.
Well, no more.
What it was, it was.
Do not be sad, please, as I am not,
having seen some of what is to be,
the great mystery, the hopeful maybe.
Be well, and do great work with small things.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nothing Easy About Love

There’s an underneath to most things, perhaps
all, though a bother at times to see, there
is a will, I think, to be observed, to
be witnessed, maybe even deciphered.
Not too deep, the work not a drudge, the path
most often direct, at times a little
to the left or right, if we would see the
wonder of it all, the truth, the beauty, the
cracker jack prize. Sometimes the surface has
a crust to it, needs a little probe, but
be gentle, if you would make your way inside,
coatings of love and fear equally fragile.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Like Magic

There’s magic in the desert,
winter becoming spring,
presto, change-o,
feeling like summer,
wildflowers amid the cacti,
snowbirds on the wing.

The town’s becoming ours again,
like days long past,
when only Angelenos came,
and then just for the weekend.
Not like now, so many Canadians
and their loonies, but they depart,
rushing home for their medi-care.

No need to shop at seven-a-m,
we can take our time about it,
like during the real summer.
No need, either for those shirts,
you know the ones,
with “local” for a logo,
timeshare hawkers off to Mexico.

Closer to the heat now,
pretty soon we’ll button down,
but not yet. This is prime time,
not quite Easter, still room to
pretty ourselves up for the last big holiday,
but summer lurks, like a beast,
just around the corner.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One Small Thing

Not for me, the grand concepts.
I mean, I know that poverty
is cyclical or situational,
but that guy on the corner?
He just wants a sandwich,
maybe a beer.

Not for me, the great concerns.
I mean, I know that orphans exist,
and child care’s too costly,
but that girl on the swing?
She just needs a push,
maybe a hug.

Not for me, the larger issues.
I mean, I know the snowcap is melting,
but insomnia won’t help.
All I can do is turn off some lamps,
light one little candle, and hope others do too,
that the sum of the candles will light up the globe,
maybe my life.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I don’t know the people in this photo,
creased and wrinkled,
black and white.
Oh sure, there’s my mom,
but the others?
Maybe air force, or high school friends,
perhaps merely the people from the block.
There’s no one left to tell me,
All gone now,
like the negative for this photo,
creased and wrinkled,
black and white.
I‘ll never know the people in this photo,
yet I can’t let go.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Few Good Friends (a triolet)

He has always been my friend,
even when I did not see him.
He is special amid ordinary men.
He has always been my friend.
Though we are parted now and then,
by work or play or wanderlust whim,
he has always been my friend,
even when I did not see him

I'm Nothing Without My Friends

Lovely neighbors as friends at the away place,
who toss newspapers that I forget,
it confuses the burglars who linger around,
and they’d water the plants in the ground
if I asked, plus they’ll stash a delivery,
yet they don’t come uninvited, not yet.

Make-believe friends at the home place.
It’s a country club, you know.
Not really my slice
but the architecture’s nice,
and strolling to dinner
beats a DUI every time, for sure.

Fabulous friends in my causes,
In my hobbies, really close buds.
We screen movies, talk books,
read poems, compare cooks,
paint and take hikes, and
march with pride in parades.

Too many friends are gone now,
some dead, others simply away.
There’s one monk in an abbey,
whose courage I envy,
and I mention her often,
usually once every day.

If it were not for friends,
there would be no me.
Everything about me is
a reflection of them, I am sure,
life would go on, no way as pure,
but my profile would be nothing to see.


Father of two fine lads,
each a father now.
Packed a lot into
a too-short life.
Radioman, Marine,
buddy through and through,
A small-town boy,
a universal man.
Covered a grenade,
allowed me to have a life.
Remembered every day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life's Work

Ain’t none of my business,
this aerobic poetry thing we do,
in life, I’m a geisha,
a servant through and through.

Ain’t none of my business,
this wordplay of ours,
all day, I’m what my wife needs,
except this in early hours.

Ain’t none of my business,
reading poesy and prose,
I’ve menus to plan, and
meals to dispose.

Ain’t none of my business,
IPhoning Poetic Asides,
I have a house to clean,
shopping for my bride.

Aint none of my business,
catching tweets from that Brewer,
the laundry awaits, the day’s
not getting newer.

Ain’t none of my business,
being glib or dramatic,
but let me own up to it,
I’m a poetry phanatic.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Shadormas

Early Palm Springs Stroll

Pink mountain
tops give way to rose,
by noon, gold,
or lemon.
Later, before purple night,
pale citrine hues.

de-licious Addiction

hugely addicting.
I would rant,
but I can’t
they are luscious little dreams,
like chocolate creams.

I’ts a Greek to You

My name is
My dad’s dad
was one too.
Not Dionysus, the wine god.
My drink is ouzo.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

I will not sit idly by,
Allowing all those hurtful words,
the weak should not be made to cry,
if they are harmed, then we cross swords.

I will not sit idly by,
by my quiet allowing bullies to berate,
to abuse the weak, as they often try,
and when they do, I won’t hesitate.

I will not sit idly by,
hearing hebe, spic, nigger, dyke,
faggot, cripple, crybaby cry,
rag head, slope, slut and kyke.

I will not sit idly by,
or I would be the same as them,
I will not allow these words to fly
without response, never again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


It is o-dark-thirty and I am flying,
death surely on its way,
how quickly nothing else matters.
It‘s 0230, and I’ve been blown up,
thinking, this is what it is to die,
that’s all that’s left to matter.
There’s no fear, only sadness,
but not even one thought for me,
just for the tears of the ones who matter.
I meet my mother,
dead for nine-plus years,
and I am no longer matter.
She says, go back, you can not stay,
there’s still work for you,
you must attend to matters.
It’s easy now, to understand,
the work is peace, the goal is peace,
that’s all that really matters.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Name Dropping

It’s the Buddha’s birthday today.
I don’t know how we know that,
But it is. It just is.

What if his most recent incarnation
is in a poet, and not just any poet,
but in Billy Collins, a rhyming superstar.

Or maybe he’s in Garrison Keillor,
a lover of all things poetic,
and a mighty fine hot damn poet himself.

I’m pretty sure he
wasn’t in Wordsworth,
though it’s his birthday too.

It’s more likely
to be Ravi Shankar,
ninety-one today.

He could, I suppose,
be in that poet Moskowitz,
wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't Tell, Show

I’ve cooked a lot of meals
in my time,
Served more than a few of them
to friends.
Never once did I place the recipe
on the serving platter,
though I sometimes say it could have been better
if I only had more time.

Don't Worry, It Gets Better

Bullies grow up to be laborers,
nerds grow up to be rich.
Jocks grow up to be fat,
wimps grow up to be phat.
Cheerleaders’ days are numbered,
goths have a whole life ahead.
Straights can look forward to marriage,
gays can look forward to some things
taking longer than others.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


It is said that,
sitting under the boddhi tree,
Siddahartha Gautama saw,
not hundreds of figs on the ground,
but thirty-thousand past lives.
The boddhi itself requires
three thousand years to form its shape,
and humans have but a moment
to find meaning, even when they look.

Had I missed this turn of the wheel,
what matter?
Someone else would have gone to war,
another might have written peace haikus,
many more could have done my work,
it is all simply chopping wood,
it is all no more than carrying water,
it is not mysterious,
the thing we call our life.

My scars are not real,
memories an illusion,
money in the bank as firm as dreams.
Divorces, poems, blood and tears
are no more our life
than silent films are Ken and Barbie.
If you can’t stand the heat,
says the one with the heater,
but even he is an hallucination.

I think on nonexistence a moment.
Does the earth fall from my feet?
Must I reach for my balance?
No, I go on.
I go on.
I go.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hey, From Palm Springs

I know you’ll laugh
when I tell you it’s
a cool morning, only 68.
I’m feeling pretty cool, too.
Haven’t drunk the country club kool-aid.

The History of Love

There is nothing I would change
about my life, even if I could,
because it all brought me to you.

There is nothing I would build,
not from paper, stone or wood,
except that which created me and you.

There is nothing I could say,
even if I should,
that speaks louder than the me in you.