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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Source Material

Some writers
find their words,
buried in the compost of bitterness,
in a field of anger and resentment,
sown by sorrow, raked with regret,
fertilized by vengeance for abandoned love,
ironically giving birth
to beautiful blooms

Other writers
find beauty in everything,
in their children, of course,
and family, friends, and lovers,
but also in the catalog of daily living,
in the exotic rose,
the mundane marigold,
the common fern,
predictably giving birth
to beautiful blooms.
Most writers
have a sadness muse,
prompting great works
of love and loss,
replete in their integrity,
they open their veins,
water their seedlings with blood,
painfully giving birth
to beautiful blooms.

All writers
know, regardless the source,
no matter the topic,
the truth will come out,
honesty triumphs,
love trumps cuteness,
every time,
each wonder-filled heart
generously giving birth
to beautiful blooms.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Can Dream

The older I get, the more I think,
about reincarnation,
for one thing.
So much of the world believes,
perhaps there’s something to it.
I don’t know, and, actually,
no one really knows, but
I’ll tell you this:
there is no way I’m coming back
as a cockroach, or some such.
If I have to have another
spin of the wheel,
and it’s not as homo sapien,
I’m trusting that I’ve done enough work
to deserve a rest for awhile.
And that means only one thing:
I’m coming back as a cat,
preferably one of my wife’s cats.
They eat good, play well, sleep a lot.
Easily occupied with objects
both dull and shiny,
and pretty much indifferent to
the ills of the world.
Of course, I’d have to be careful
to not get wrapped up
in the window blind cords,
or to lock myself in a cabinet,
and then there’s that whole hairball mess.
But, hey, all of that pales when compared
To multi-flavor treats and tuna….ahhh, tuna.
And brushing, can anything be better,
and don’t try to compare it
to your paltry back rubs.
Did I mention the tuna?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If ESPN Aired Poetry

If this was a prize fight, they’d stop it, right now.
We came out punching
in rounds 1-7,
400, 500, 600 shots,
haymakers all.
Then, around rounds 8 or 9,
the ring card girls
started getting more attention
than the writers,
more comments than poems,
still weighing in
with 300-400 left hooks and right crosses.
Maybe, like those heavyweights of old,
we’re simply taking a round or two off,
saving up for the final five,
hoping to impress the judges
with a flurry at the end.
Still, it was pretty defensive here
in round 25, with less than 170 jabs,
the occasional uppercut.
Hopefully, the ref won’t think
we’re out on our feet, and
even though it’s been a long battle,
will let us go the distance.

Take Me Out

I ‘m not too crazy
about most sports these days,
except college football,
fans, parties, thrilling plays.
Even there, so much corruption
and cheating to see,
college - or pro - no matter,
too many cases of me, me, me.

Baseball’s an exception,
still warm to the touch.
not the results,
or the players so much.
An easy game to watch,
Mr. Doubleday’s invention,
long lazy afternoons,
not requiring much attention.

The season itself,
is too long to matter,
but a singular game,
ah, the smells, sights and chatter.
There’s a lot going on,
regardless the score,
the peanuts alone
bring me back for one more.

Night games don’t thrill me,
they just seem out of touch
with the soul of the game,
the drive home is too much
Take me out to a day game,
I’m always up for that.
We’ll swap lies of our prowess,
when we held a bat

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Friend Dan

It was natural and easy
to tell him how I felt
while he lay dying.
It’ll be harder now,
but not impossible.
it’s only been a day
and already I am losing
the truth of his gaze,
the wonder of his face.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It is Shakespeare's 448th Birthday

Morning 23, Upon Reading Sonnet 116

Let me then to this morning of darkness
Admit there are others, those who I love.
Attend to their words, though reading harks less,
They hie to their tasks with thoughts which will move.
O, no! I must write, find the breath, the mark
Of instant perfection ere I reprove;
Is it a dream, or a goal, elusive lark?
My worth is in measure, so I must move.
Time is no fool, regardless its pallor,
Its unbending urgency o’er me looms,
The hour ticks by, proceeding with valor
I yield to no one, so near to doom.
          If this be joy, then upon me shower
          No doubts of my words reaching full flower.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


In the weave of eternity,
with the work before us,
short-term judgements don’t
seem to matter much,
not the praise, nor the blame,
not the credits, nor the sins,
self-imposed or outer-given.
Most of my awards have long been tossed,
every plaque, every trophy,
all the ribbons, certificates and letters.
In the end, just stuff, and
the stories and smiling lies about them are better.
But then, there’s that plastic Club Med medal
with the red, white and blue lanyard
that was given for finding buried wine bottles
off the sandy shore of Martinique -
that one lives on.
And the disability rating letter,
the V.A.’s judgement call – that one
will stay awhile, at least for my forever.
Recently, I got a Beautiful Bloom,
truly treasured,
kept in cyberspace.
Then there are the Purple Hearts,
once headed for a protest toss
over the White House fence, but no.
Those are about things and people,
some still kicking, others, well,
others valued fondly in my heart.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Let's Not

Let’s not and say we did.
Write that e-mail but not hit send,
forgo the mail, go to a friend.
Let’s not and say we did.
Stop resisting, choose to bend,
say you’re sorry, make amends.
Let’s not and say we did,
 forgiveness the mark of thoughtful men.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I’m nearly sixty-eight,
and he wants an event?
One event?
I know, I know,
what would our friend Walt do?
He’d write and write and write,
and they’d all be great,
and they’d all be interesting,
and we’d all read them
and we’d all have ink envy…again.

I mean, I have lots of stories, so
that’s no problem, and
it’s too late now to worry about
too much exposure.
I could write about going through
A windshield…twice.
Not the same windshield, but still.
I could go on about the day my
mother died, or about when I met
her on the night I died, nine years later,
the day she sent me back.
I could ruminate on the choice to
move to a foreign country,
when we settled in California.
Then there’s the first real job that became
the only job, a career you’d say.
If homage was the goal,
it would have to be the creative writing class
in the desert.

Ultimately, there is no choice, not really.
Well, maybe a choice - between weddings -
the big, emotional first one at halftime of
the Packer game, in front of family,
in the family home, with Alice the Springer mix
as flower girl, or
the second one, fifteen years later, making her
a June Bride at last.
I think it has to be number two.
After all, we knew what we were getting,
after fourteen wonderful years of marriage.
(no, my math’s ok, and that’s a pretty good percentage)

Our wedding redux was due to
A very orthodox Orthodox priest,
who refused to acknowledge
our matrimony as legitimate, leaving us
in not good standing in the church.
Our monthly membership dues, however,
were always in good stead, all checks cashed.
So be it.
I won’t bore you with the details,
nor about the counseling sessions,
(after fifteen years!),
or about how he said we’d have a child
even though I was fixed, and then we did,
in an odd manner.
I’ll save that for another prompt.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wisconsin Weekend

They still do fish fry in every corner tap on Friday
nights, and all the restaurants have an overpriced
family style offering, but it’s not all fried, and it’s
mostly frozen cod, and there’s too many potato choices
and, my god, they even serve salads instead of cole slaw
if you ask. Really. Growing up in a country village,
there were only a few choices, Magowan’s and Roundy’s
and my family’s favorite, Stitch & Mary’s on the lake.
Friday was fish, always perch, always fried, and fries and
cole slaw and little rye rounds. Saturday was chicken,
always fried, and mashed potatoes and overcooked
squash. The men all smoked, the woman danced, we kids
played pinball and drank some deliciously sweet lemon
drink that I am sure led to type two diabetes. No wine that
I remember, but lots of beer for the old folks, and usually
an Old Fashioned. Sunday was church and a picnic, but
not in the winter, and sometimes not the church part either.
I’m pretty sure none of this was healthy, but living where
we do now, with lots of specialties but no traditions,
the memories are savory, the recollections sweet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Can Hope

Hard to imagine, really,
those twin sisters in Oslo,
working in separate labs
and coming up with cures
for the common cold,
both on the same day,
the same sisters who earlier
found the AIDS vaccine
and the silver bullet cure
for all those types of cancer.
Incredibly, their cousins
in Somalia and Syria
were the ones who discovered
the peace pill,
the same cousins who
snuck it into the world’s
water supplies in 2012.
Awesomely, their mother,
the Nobel laureate for
All Good Things
is the one who drew up the plans
for food distribution, worldwide.
Hard to imagine, really,
a world before that time,
where people were starving,
even though there was
an abundance of food.
Their father is only a carpenter,
but, oh what a carpenter.
He’s the guy who designed
those inexpensive, off-the-grid houses,
taking the homeless off the streets .
What a family, the Mann’s.
Hard to imagine, really.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


On Sunday’s, I strap on
my go-to-meetin’ best,
(which is not much, really),
and head off to the Unity Center,
my spiritual sanctuary,
where struggle and strife
get left at the door, and
all social masks are deposited
in the bin next to the umbrella stand.
I seek a non-anxious presence
in an anxious world , which
can be work of a sort, but
not if the trying is removed,
silently slashed away by
that still, small voice.
Unity is not a bumper sticker type
of place, and we don’t wear buttons
with witty sayings of positive thinking.
We do wear name tags, however,
and “effortless effort” is present in
invisible ink on each.
On Sunday, when we gather,
it is clear that it is love and light and good
that are real in the world,
not evil, that nonsubstantive thought balloon
that goes “poof”, as we sit like
the lilies of the field.
We sing and pray and meditate,
rejoicing in the effect that community brings.
I don’t know what name to give that effect,
but it is tangible, and even though,
like the wind, it is invisible,
we experience it.
Unlike the wind, it reaches inside,
warming and shaping, often healing.
By the time Reverend Wendy speaks,
it is almost unnecessary.
Wanted, always interesting,
definitely challenging,
but unneeded.
Really, she could just stand there and
smile at us.
It would do.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

After the Apocalypse

After the Apocalypse,
the skinny people will die first,
the Nutrasystem people,
the Weight Watchers and joggers.
After Armageddon,
it won’t be all bad.
There’ll be no more ads
for breast augmentation,
e-mails for penis enlargement,
no calls for dental implants, or
teeth whitening.
Cataclysm will chase away
the need to get your belly
toned, tucked and tightened,
the desire for skin resurfacing,
the non-surgical solutions! to
thinning hair and poor eyesight.
The Day of Reckoning means
an end to rhinoplasty – creating
beauty one face at a time!
No sales taxes, no drowning in debt,
no DUI’s, no parking meters and no
meter maids. No more Craigslist,
and, after the Last Day, no need
for Suzy’s Coupons.
Depression? Normal.
Migraines? Everyone gets a few.
Smokers? Go ahead.
High blood pressure? You kidding?
Of course there’s the little matter of
But, hey, it’s the End of Times,
Not Eden.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Can Hear Clearly Now

Fresh from a fitting
of expensive ear plugs,
a trainee of twenty
put a pause to my huh?’s,
My wonderful wife
beamed broadly to see
the microphoned mini's
of total technology.
The nice news is every
wise word I now hear,
the lousy luck is it includes
trite talk, oh dear.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Something Stupid

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


There is something about a smile
that is truly hard to resist,
have a little, it seems to say,
or a lot, really, I insist.

There is something about a smile,
that demands of you a reply,
spontaneous, unplanned, your own
bright grin for every passerby.

There is something about a smile,
truly infectious, so it seems,
a gift of joy and happiness,
unselfish sharing of your dreams.

There is something about a smile,
as though it’s always meant to be,
it costs you nothing, means so much,
give one to everyone, you’ll see

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back-n-Forth Rag

Just one hundred miles between our two homes,
yet a change of the seasons readily comes,
two hours after the dry desert air
savoring moisture, our Bernardo lair.
We love our two homes, both seasoned with love,
Spirit surrounds us, within us, above.
The cats like it too, their joy adds a spice,
three parts of playful, one jigger of vice.
Our lives are perfect as any fine thing,
no matter the season, always our spring.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Sappy Tale

Elm Avenue, Okauchee, WI
has no elm trees,
only the brittle twigs of our memories,
much like, I suppose,
Orange Tree Estates, Orange County, CA
has no orange trees,
only the faintly remembered aromas from youth,
the sweet citrus dreams of SoCal hipsters.
Many pines remain in Pine Top, AZ,
and you can still find birches in Birch Tree, AR,
but, for most of us,
it’s scrapbooks and photo albums,
taking us back to our roots.

The elms might be gone,
but those firs we planted are thriving,
the ones my drunken Swedish carpenter
of a grandfather helped me plant.
The one that was struck by lightning
on its very first day,
bam, like a spank on a newborn’s bottom,
that one is the tallest, no sign of early scars.
There’s a lesson there, I’m sure,
and maybe I’ll get it one day.

The elms might be gone,
but there’s still a plank swing,
dangling from a rope,
tied way up high,
around a thick oak branch,
down by the lake.
It’s been 50 years since I last saw it,
so surely it’s been changed a few times.
I wonder who does that,
and I wonder how they get up there,
and I wonder if their mom knows about it.

The elms might be gone,
but the lilac bushes remain hearty.
Thank goodness there was no
Dutch Lilac malady,
although I’m pretty sure that
it wasn’t Dutch Orange Tree disease
that caused all those uprootings in SoCal.
If this global warming thing,
or some other planetary sickness
gets to the palm trees,
we’re in real trouble.
but that will be for
a different poet’s despair.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


There is this book which has been
following me around for weeks now.
Actually, not following so much as
accompanying, fitting nicely in
my hand, or atop my journal
in my man purse.
The book is important.
That’s why I bought it.
It is about hope, and also about
the mind, about laughing at, but
not making an enemy of
the latter.
I say that’s what it is about,
but I don’t know for sure,
only what the dust jacket blurb says.
I can’t seem to get by the introduction,
not in the den, nor poolside,
heck, not even at he library.
My core seems obdurate in
its resistance to change, or growth.
I will say that, pages unread,
that book seems still to be
having an impact.
I think about hope all the time.
A good thing, too, since
I have friends who will not see year’s end,
and a 50-year reunion requiring
a 50-pound weight loss,
and a home for sale.
Small things, really,
except for that part about my friends,
but in the greater scheme of things,
I’m a pretty small fish in
a very big pond, or, at most,
like one of those salmon,
returning to their place of creation,
encountering resistance at every turn.
I hope this hope thing is
not overrated. The book is heavy,
the thoughts too, sometimes.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The man isn’t old by some measures,
quite ancient by others.
Mostly, it depends upon where he is,
who’s nearby.
Sometimes, it’s the weather, the rain,
His 68-year old body made 86,
war-torn nerve endings enflamed
by moist air.
Today it was the boy, Elijah,
grandson of a neighbor,
looking out her window.

The boy is young by some measures.
wiser and older by others.
Mostly it depends upon the day,
how he slept,
if grandma’s nearby,
if he got a role in that new commercial,
if the pool is empty of adults.
Sometimes it’s his need for speed,
his 10-year old mind wishing for 18,
so he can drive something more than a dream.

They are long-distance buds,
the man and the boy,
the type of friends who most often
communicate by written word,
e-mails the penpalship of the day
Together, they are writing an epic poem,
starring, of course, Elijah,
his family and friends in supporting roles.
They seldom speak in person,
the man writing a page of Seussian rhyme,
the boy reading the electronic copy,
never editing, directing the next page.
Today is one of the rare days,
the boy visiting for Easter,
the man reading poolside.
There are other vacation kids around, so
the pool will soon be loaded, joy filled.
It is tempting to call on grandma,
“accidentally” bump into Elijah,

Nothing Covert About It

Happiness doesn’t hide
so much as it waits,
at the corner of bliss and peace,
just down the street from connectedness.
Anyone can find it,
with just a touch of boldness,
a dash of audacity.
No maps required,
but it is usually found
in the same neighborhood as kindness.
Never hidden,
but sometimes confused
with mirth and merriment,
or outright laughter,
yet true happiness can not be mistaken
for anything else,
not even when it is tucked inside
surprise and delight,
maybe even dismay.
It might seem elusive at times,
when we forget who we are,
when we look for it directly rather
than the byproduct it is,
like from the wagging tale on a puppy,
a smile from young Sophie,
a kind word from a friend or fan.
Happiness doesn’t hide.
It’s waiting for us all.
Hop on down and have some.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I have a storage unit that costs a bundle,
monthly bills higher than the value of the stuff inside.
Who’s to judge, really?
Certainly not me.
One man’s version of “Hoarders”,
another’s treasure trove.
There’s that dining room table,
left over from the life of my granny-in-law.
No idea how old it is, but we’ve had it for forty years.
We’ll never use it, but who could part with it?
There’s stories etched into the legs, tales
and conversations absorbed by the top,
truths and lies told around lunch and supper.
There’s that cabinet, a commode I think it’s called,
doesn’t go with anything, but it’s not going anywhere soon.
It sat in someone’s hallway,
listening to stories, some of them excuses, others alibis.
Then there’s that big bag of black and white photos.
My mother took them all, high school friends and army pals,
And I don’t know a one of them.
I could regale you with my love for my mother,
tell you how she died too young, only thirty-eight in ‘58,
before your time, I’ll bet, most of you.
Maybe she planned to write on the backs of those photos.
Maybe she thought she had plenty of time.
She didn’t.
Still, I just can’t toss that bag, just look at it every so often.
No one to give it to, either, but the dumpster doesn’t seem a fit end.
I can imagine the stories behind those faces, the war and all.
If they could sing, we’d hear the Andrews Sisters, backed by Glenn Miller.
Someone besides me will throw all this stuff away,
Some future semi-star of some sort of reality show.
They’ll bitch and groan, wonder why anyone would keep such junk.
Of course they will.
This will all have been too early for them, before their time.


Standing almost at the top of Sonoma Mountain,
the Santa Rosa plain in white-out from the August fog,
it is easy to imagine the time before the Europeans came,
before a different type of white-out.

The peaceful Pomo people, basket makers,
made not just for function, but for art as well,
their work now in the Smithsonian,
amazingly, also in the Kremlin.

The quiet Miwoks, or simply The People,
who knew the truth of time and things,
who buried their artifacts, their “stuff”
with the dead who had made or found them.

With the rooftops below obscured by the mist,
One can imagine these hunter-gatherers,
bows and clubs in hand, snares at their waist,
bags of mussels and grasshoppers for a later meal.

The resilient Wappo, in their homes of leaves, branches, mud,
living in small groups, extended families, one for all,
their baskets so perfectly made they’d hold water,
all their work for community good.

Winters were mild, game was bountiful, fish plentiful,
survival not an issue. No mortgage, no outside noises,
time for family and friends, singing and dancing,
time to embrace their spirituality, enjoy nature, create art

As the sun peeks over the mountain, lifting the fog,
the houses appear, the roads, the cars.
One can imagine Drake, maybe Magellan,
the Spanish priests and Russian trappers,
later, the frightfully greedy immigrants and gold seekers.
One can grasp the meaning of paradise lost.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

All of Me

It’s 100% responsibility I’m taking
for the friendship we’ve been making,
so that when there’s zero percent in you,
I’ll have enough for two.

My God Loves A Little Humor

Spiritual souls
know miracles will have legs
this coming weekend.
From the rabbit holes we’ll see
and believe in colored eggs

Sunday, April 1, 2012


He’s actually dying now,
in ICU, wires and hoses his mechanical friends,
so what’s left to say.
All the clich├ęs were used up long ago,
first when the diagnosis came,
then after the chemo,
and, finally, the burning.

He was dying back then as well.
We meant well, his long-time, human friends,
saying what was right to say
All the bromides were well-intended,
First when the fear struck,
then when hope was treasured,
and, finally, reality.

He’ll die soon,
In a white room, surrounded by friends.
No one will say anything
which is not the truth.
First we’ll thank him for his friendship,
then tell him how much he’s loved,
and, finally, speak of our hope to see him soon.


I am saving the world,
one starfish at a time,
and one flower, one tree, one human,
each precious to its kind.
I am saving the world,
transforming it with love,
with right action, too,
not white magic from above.
I am saving the world,
but it’ll take a miracle, they say.
Well, then, we’d best get started,
can’t think of a better day.