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Monday, December 29, 2014

Art & Raina, 201-2015


O – M-  G!
Can it Be?
New Year’s already,
another anniversary.
It’s not as easy as
they make it seem,
Mad-town’s Art & Raina,
a Badger dream team.
We like how they laugh,
adore how they smile,
there’s no one quite like them,
not for many a mile.
From the left coast,
a “holla”,
from Aunt Kay,
“Xronia polla”,
From Zach’s friends in England,
“cheers” and “huzzah”.
Another year over,
is this as good as they get?
Nah, they’ll keep getting better,
on that you can bet.
Sweet thoughts to the H.’s,
like coos from a dove,
have a year filled with happy,
with healthy, with love.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 Anniversary Rag

Fixin’ to write,
one from the heart,
44th anniversary time,
so I needed to start.
Getting’ old muse-y
attached to the cart,
then my eye blew up,
and your tooth broke apart.
Still have some time,
a couple days yet.
Think I can do it?
Darn tootin’, you bet.
Staring at paper,
like through a screen door,
but love will surmount it,
this I tell ya and more.
After all, you’re still training
your titanium knee,
so no use complaining
about how I see.
I can’t look up words,
I’ll use the ones that I know,
like cherish, adore, admire,
and mo’.
Our parts will get fixed
in time, maybe soon.
For now, we’ll share joy,
from here to the moon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blue Mirror

She asked about the blue mirror we
had moved a few times but never
used, so I told her the story of how,
from the time I was four or five,
my mother would put it on the four
by five cedar chest we used as a
table, and at Christmas time, we'd
put snow and little people on it to
make a festive scene.

I'm 70 now, and through the years,
a lot of stuff has disappeared, like
lamps and photos and baseball cards, and
people, too. I've lost dogs and cats, some
car keys, the home I grew up in, even
my mother, who died suddenly one
September, and we didn't have Christmas
after that for a long time, what with
sadness, and later, war, for me.
I never lost that blue mirror, though.
Then I met her, and I had very little
stuff, but I had her, and that was enough
for me. Her family was big on Christmas,
and, after we returned from our December
honeymoon, her baby sister put the
ornaments on their tree, the ones made with
a glitter and a glue stick, the ones with
everybody's names on them, and we were
the last ones to go up, smack dab in the
center front, to much oohing, ahing and smiling.
My dad was there, our first Christmas in
forever. It was cold, really cold, but
our hearts melted.

So, the blue mirror, remember? After
we moved to a town with lots of folks,
one where we could have visitors, we
started to decorate excessively. Too much
was still not enough, with wreaths and
themed trees and garland and such. she
said we should bring out the blue mirror and
make a scene, so we went looking for
fake snow and little trees and people
Then Department 56 happened,
and a train set happened,
and more Department 56 happened,
and I built display tables and drilled holes
and did dangerous, overloaded wiring
and it was big and grand and good,
and all of our friends loved it,
and more Department 56 happened,
and a storage locker to hold it all happened.

I think I mentioned that I'm 70 now,
those boxes and tables got heavier,
that wiring got more painful to connect,.
we've lost a few more people,
there's this talk about voluntary simplicity.
Still have that blue mirror, though.
I think soon we'll start a new tradition,
borrow from the past, bring out the older,
garage sale the newer.

But, then, there's the crazy
Krinkles accessories,
and all the Santa ornaments,
and the clowns
and the reindeer
and the angels
and...oh, what the heck, one more year,
and I think we can find room for
a blue mirror

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Family of Man

The April Poem-A-Day challenge generates 30,000 posts, from all over the world. Less than 1% of them make it to the daily top 10 lists. This is one of the top 10 poems:

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.


The April Poem-A-Day challenge generates 30,000 posts, from all over the world. Less than 1% of them make it to the daily top 10 lists. This is one of the top 10 poems:

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

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Closing Lines

Memorial Day is devoted
to the dead, to those who fell,
long before their natural closing hour.

Too many have fallen
for the sake of the living,
and for concepts oft forgotten.

It’s the duty of the living
to remember the dead,
to feel blessed by their parting gift.

We can honor the dead
by caring for their families,
and for their comrades, left behind.

Our most useful, caring duty
is to never forget,
even as the nation seeks to heal.

With war still fresh upon us,
we can still strive for peace,
yet never forget the dead, those who fell.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


My mother died when I was quite young,
not totally unexpectedly, but suddenly,
and my childhood came to an abrupt end,
the rest of my days filled with righteous anger,
always just below the surface, uncontrollable at times.
I saw her once more, nine years later,
the two of us together,
floating between this world and the next,
watching from above as young men
rushed to save me.
I trust that memory,
but I lose a micro-amount of it
each time I speak of it,
each time I write of it.
If she had lived, she’d be in her 90’s now,
my idealized notions of how it could have been
long tainted by reality.
Not big on living with regrets, I do miss some things,
the biggest being how happy she would have been
with the quality of my life, the beauty of my wife.
Oh, she would have been crushed by
that Viet Nam thing,
but what is a life with no bruises, no bad decisions.
She would scold me, I am sure,
for being a man of plenty who has always felt poor,
but she would applaud the way I have always
found a way to eventually give birth to happiness.
I would not have wanted to see her
grow old and infirm, arthritis-riddled, bed-bound,
but if I could see her for just one more day,
it would be to hold her and squeeze her
and give her the decades of I love you’s she missed.
And that I missed as well.


The only monster that I really fear
is sometimes the one I see in the mirror,
when I’m trying to control life,
arranging the future,
always on top of things,
having to be right.
It would be laughable
if it was not so serious,
when I can’t wait,
become too curious,
feel the need to anticipate.
The only result I can control
is really nothing, nothing at all,
as hard as I try to see what will be,
the gods just look down and laugh at me.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Almost a year into our latest house
the one we call our forever home,
the toes-up place,
last stop before the old folks dome.
Yesterday, I heard a guy at Home Depot,
talking about the bargain he got,
a house for sale for too much, too long,
and he said he picked it up for a song.
They wanted three hundred, you see,
he stole it for two fifty-three.
We have something like that,
(well, not really,)
since they asked for the moon and the stars,
and we said okay, then tossed in the sun (so far).
It’s fine, we say, because here we’re staying,
forever and a day, (at least so I’m praying).
Remodeling is always pricier than planned,
but, not to worry, you see it’s all good,
we’d only waste that money on frivolous stuff,
you know, like clothing and food.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tell It To The Marines

The trick is to live a good life,
without worrying about rewards,
be it from others or your gods.
If they judge you and are fair,
they’ll admire your effort,
even when you fail,
and fail you will.
If they are not fair and just,
their opinions should not matter,
and you should not have them as friends,
you should not worship them.
If there are no gods,
the trick is still to live a good life.
If you are steadfast in your goals,
devout in your goodness,
someone’s memory will hold you dear,
long after you are gone.

The Last Straw

The Last Straw

is not the one at the soda fountain.
It’s the one from those scientists,
making mole hills into mountains.
Some of those lab rats with nothing to do,
with no real idea, nor even a clue,
have decided that 70 is the age for men,
that time of their lives, the moment when
they enter their grumpy phase,
the one after farts,
but it isn’t the case,
not on my part,
I reached cootage at 60,
A 10-year head start.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Location, Location, Location

There is an orchard
that I planted
at 6045 Hyland Way
in Penngrove, California,
in the back yard of our first home,
over the septic field.
I bought those young trees,
one at a time,
for $4.95 apiece,
during 1975,
a time when we had little,
and when their fruits would sustain us.
Part of me remains in those trees,
parts of them remain in me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pluses and Minuses

We planted our vegetable garden early this year,
hoping for a warm march and a slightly warmer April,
not like in the deserts of Palm Springs and Las Vegas,
where a warm April is welcomed and feared at once,
with the knowledge of the price paid for a beautiful spring,
being a little something called summer.
We tore out the grapes, not because we didn’t have faith in them,
but because we knew the raccoons would eat them before we did,
and they’d wake the cats in the middle of the night,
and the cats would wake us,
and then nobody would get back to sleep.
We tore out the roses since they only bloom a little
And they make me bleed,
and require expensive feed.
We tore out the big greenery since the drought is likely to continue,
and we’d be faced with a hurtful water bill,
and everything would die because we don’t want to be hurt.
We planted cacti and succulents,
and we like them a lot, because they’ll live forever,
and yet they cost so much, the nicer ones, oh dear.
We planted stones and granite.
We have no hopes and dreams for them.
We just hope a big wind doesn’t come through
and throw sand at our new windows,
did I mention how much THOSE cost?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Back to Basics

I don’t live in the past,
yet I have fond memories of
things long gone.
We lived in a village,
a resort town with a lake.
Maybe 1500 souls,
in summer many more,
when the Milwaukee people came to play.
None of us had much,
and we sort of knew it,
when the Millers and Pabsts
and Johnson Cookies folks
were at their lake homes.
Some of us worked for them,
others served them, in some way or another.
Our service was mostly to the locals,
an IGA store, part grocery, part meeting place.
There were no ATM machines then,
so we were sometimes a bank
when someone needed to run a tab
or borrow five bucks until payday.
I did everything in that store,
marking cans and stocking shelves
and trimming produce and delivering eggs,
everything except the butchering.
That was just too basic for me.
My folks said I should learn to cut,
it would pay my way through college,
but I just couldn’t take the blood.
Come to think of it,
I never ate deer or rabbit or duck or goose, either.
But I grew some great potatoes and tomatoes,
made some fabulous puddings and potato salads.
Lo and behold, my best recipes now
are the ones without meat.
I’m not your basic vegan,
but sometimes it sure looks that way.
I make no claim to being clean and virtuous,
and my eating has nothing to do with religion.
I guess
I was just born this way.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tornado Alley

I look into the cat’s eyes
and he tells me there’s a storm coming.
Not the purple-black skies of
Sedona monsoons,
more the unleashed whirlwinds
of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Always the most charming of
our lifetime’s 25 feline friends,
Max has more gravity now,
made wary by the iciness
of his new sister.

Reesie is her name,
possession is her game.
She was an only child for so long,
lived in a microclimate of her own,
never had to live with
the updrafts and downdrafts of another pet.

But she’s here now,
cuddly with the humans,
not so with the Max,
where she’s usually just a cold front,
but sometimes a cyclone.
He’s been waiting her out,
but his eyes tell me
there’s a storm coming.
Will it be a gale,
or is an haboob on the horizon?
Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pop Culture

Rock and Roll
Afro Cuban
New Wave
Honky Tonk
It don’t matter
Life without music would be a mistake

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


My past readers know of my near death experience, the one when I met my long-dead mother, but this one is not about that, not really, it’s brand new, another.
Most prompted poets, the bards of this April, won’t write of themselves, they’ll speak of another, an old friend, a parent, a sister or brother.
But, for me, those odes were written before, I don’t feel the need to say anymore.
Instead, I’m inspired to think about me, about after I’m gone, how it will be.
Some friends will cry, others will pray, but what will they write, what will they say?
If anything’s uttered, as my life they recall, and if I’m able to hear from above,
what I hope that I hear, now above all, will be talk of who loved me, and who I did love.

Monday, April 14, 2014

If I Were Given a Mulligan

If I were given a mulligan,
the chance to fix life’s mistakes,
I’d likely turn it down,
not an option I would take.
It might be tempting to go back,
correct some ill-done act or ten,
improve upon my history,
be a better man, but then,
I’d still probably regret it,
any change to my decisions,
no, it’s better to just let it
be the way it really was,
with the occasional fumble,
all leading to who I am today,
and for that I am most humble.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Write It Down, Write It Down, Write It Down

They write or fade, those
big-hearted bards, one hundred
April images per hour.
Poetic Asides
becomes their stage,
longing for what’s due
their flowing thoughts, yet
loving each other’s works,
competitors no more.


It was sixty-five years ago
in our small Wisconsin
town, a drinking village
with a fishing problem.
For every need,
just one store, plus
five churches, one diner,
thirty-two taverns, no less,
no more.

Idyllically between wars,
our fathers back from
overseas, our mothers in
the home once more.
Rationing over, yet
victory gardens still in
vogue, but Swanson’s
frozen dinners had
their place for sure.

We had comics, radio too,
Der Bingle songs
from Sammy Cahn and
pin-up girls galore.
Slinky’s, Silly Putty, and
cowboy stories filled our
days, a fat-tire Schwinn
our greatest treasure,
save sun and shore.

Then came the day the
carnival came to town.
We’d know it for weeks,
the posters and such, with
clowns, a Ferris Wheel
and games all around.
We’d practiced with ring-pegs,
darts thrown at balloons,
and bean bags tossed at
boards on the ground.

There were wrestlers, most
famously old Gypsy Joe,
and those were no ladies
tugging tops down.
There were goldfish
in small bowls, a ball toss
to win, midst the noise
of the barkers, the joy
of the clowns.

But the thing I
held on to most fondly,
recalling even now,
were the smells, the
exotic perfumes of the
popcorn, the corn dogs
and, wow, the cotton candy
they spun out of nothing
but air.

It was the best of
a life filled with smiles
more than frowns.
I have dreamed of it
since, but especially now.
In a life too complex
it’s a joy to recall the
day that the carnival came to town.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


There’s no sanctuary from aging,
no asylum from the ravages
of a well-used body.
There’s no anchorage for safety
from climate change on
a poorly-used planet.
There’s no hideaway, no bolt-hole,
big enough or strong enough
for shelter from our indifference.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


All of man’s seasons
bring natural inventions,
peace the best of them.

Spring is not summer.
Pickles can’t be cucumbers.
Peace is who one is.

One sings of summer,
winter’s grip soon forgotten.
Peace always trumps fear.

Summer’s final breath,
ravens scouting new year’s nests,
monks still pray for peace.

Autumn’s first breezes,
humans spy as birds build homes,
wrens find peace mid-air.

Days of thanksgiving
abound with friendship and joy.
There is bliss in peace.

As winter draws near,
perhaps we’ll tread consciously.
Peace is every step.

Winter’s fire is banked,
air dancing above hard coals
At peace in one’s bed.

Living mindfully
in the holiday bedlam.
Peace is a challenge.

No dark without light.
No seasons without changes.
No hope without peace.

There’s but one question,
spring, summer, fall and winter.
Will one work for peace?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Self Portrait

There is a gardener in the man,
scattering his seeds,
nurturing his spot of earth,
feeding more than a few needs.

There is a cook in him now,
comfort foods his best,
mostly vegan, sometimes not,
depending on the fest.

There is a husband in him too,
way past youthful fears,
he’s never won an argument,
not one in forty-five years.

There is a Marine somewhere inside,
one who fought beyond our borders,
though he approaches seventy,
he’s still home, awaiting orders.

There is a man of many words,
a writer, mostly a poet,
he sometimes likes his product,
that is, when he gets to it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Night Vision

In that time the ancients
called the death mist,
others the black sun,
he knows it as
the ‘tween times,
before new day has begun.
Ideas spring unbidden,
prompted by moonlight,
meditation not required.
Great rhymes are found,
written down, or lost,
no matter how inspired.
It’s the night shift,
poems bathed in shadow,
starlight used to burn
the words in stanzas,
each spinning on its axis,
a muse-ical nocturne.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Approaching sunset now, the dawn
too many years behind. The night
waits, lingering behind the evening star.
It was noon a mere while ago,
brightly shining with hope,
plans made with future surety,
more time than dreams to fill it.
Time spent seems but trumpery
when placed beside time remaining,
too much wastage, squandered
could haves, elusive promises.
Five or seven friends remain, a thousand
cronies gone the way of fumes, still
time for eight or nine, likely no more.
Poems have always seemed like
words in flight, now more earthly,
too often murky, poets in high dudgeon,
even as they confuse sunset for the dawn.
Still, there’s work to do,
and time to do it.
Living in the past yields little that is good,
mostly excuses, redrafted memories and
rust-pitted trophies.
Future has a sense of promise, of mission,
too many maybe’s as well.
What’s left is now, today, this moment,
sunset, dawn and dark of night the same
gift of opportunity, like a poem, somewhere
between a dream and a nightmare.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Since You Asked

He said,
don’t need no tropical moon,
nor no sleepy lagoon.
She said,
that might be so,
but it’s the best way to go.
It’s best to be home,
with the tv and phone.
It’s better by far,
to see Europe by car.
Home cooking delights,
and I love pizza nights.
Any restaurant will do,
but it must have a view.
That Kenmore is nice,
and you can’t beat the price.
Trying to be fair,
but you can’t beat Jenn-Air.
No way around it,
in arguments
he’s toast.
Still, he loves her even more
‘cause she’s got what
they call “the most”

Thursday, April 3, 2014


What matters
if it’s spelled cipher or cypher?
You get the message,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I had hopes my Cancer Tour was over,
meandering from a friend’s prostate to another’s brain,
followed by one’s lungs and the other’s pancreas,
finally one with no name, no organ to blame.
Mostly friends of many years, spanning decades,
my age and younger, all gone now, as memory fades.
I always knew that one of us would die first,
but, pushing on, thought it would be me.
I always knew the journey would end,
for one of us, but not two and three,
not four, then five,
me the last one alive.  
I had hopes my Cancer Tour was over,
but I was wrong.
It simply went international.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Nearly a year now
into our latest
new beginning.
Forty-five years,
eight homes,
(ten, if you count the rentals)
all of them perfect, except
for our remodeling addiction.
We swore we’d
never do it again,
live under reconstruction,
but this is our Forever Home,
last step in our journey,
the toes-up place,
a little noise and dust
(okay, a lot of noise and dust)
justified for this one,
our alpha and omega stop.
There are mountains to the east,
where the mornings begin,
an ocean not too far west,
sucking up the sun,
declaring each day’s end.
New neighbors coming around,
cookies and potted plants in hand,
surely as nice
as the ones we left behind,
again and again.
I’m getting close to seventy,
my sweetie awaits her Medicare card.
This really might be it,
the last station,
except, perhaps,
the old folks home.
Who knows?
The work’s almost done.
We went to an open house last week…

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


She’s wrapped in the security
of her inner tube, made whole
by his hot breath,
the water around her a mystery,
shaping her form, set by the
limits of her pool.
A hole in the water,
that’s all she might be,
were it not for his breath,
keeping her afloat,
in the pool, in the town,
in the earth, on this marble in flight,
in one particular speck of an
immeasurable space.
Who of us could see her,
held firm in his love, still think
there is no God.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Just Beneath Our Busy Lives

Just Beneath Our Busy Lives

wondrous things await,
lesser ones as well,
visible to the open eye, the willing heart,
not hiding at all, if we choose.
Just beneath that stop for groceries,
a chance to make someone’s day,
to thank that clerk, mention their name,
grateful for their work, letting them know.
Just beneath that amber light,
a chance to slow, to pause,
making it a smile moment,
letting go the held breath, the tension,
every moment a choice.
Just beneath that daily chore,
a chance to notice large small things,
that shining plate, sparkling floor,
the dust-free shelf, your happy child.
Just beneath that illness,
a chance to heal, to rest,
to think about what’s coming,
in this life and the next,
a chance to choose to be here now,
present moment, wonderful moment.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

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.


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.


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

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.

Clean Sheets Day

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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nashville Rag

Bill and Shannon,
sittin’ in a tree,
huggin’ and kissin’
in Tennessee.
Lovie’s not a-Howellin’
and Baron soundly sleeps,
Sam Hall’s finding safe spots,
knows they’re there for keeps.

The Johnny Cash Museum,
four more hands in play.
What’s that, the kids don’t need ‘em?
That’ll be the day.
The new kid on Third Avenue,
nothing does it lack,
a brand new House of Cash,
praise the Man in Black.

Corona’s in the rearview,
the mountain’s closed for good,
Palm Springs still a favorite,
when sunshine fits their mood.
They’re on a grand adventure,
great wonders a sure bet,
new things to see, to go, to be,
and friends they’ve never met.

So here’s to Bill and Shannon,
Nashville’s newest toy,
wishing them 100 years
of happiness and joy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Forest Is An Acorn

Would you have hope, offer one penny.
Would you have dreams, proffer one cheer.
Would you have health, eat one small apple.
Would you have success, work for one hour.
Would you have fun, unschedule one day.
Would you have humor, smile at one joke.
Would you have beauty, open one eye.
Would you have music, make one simple sound.
Would you have faith, accept one unknown.
Would you have agreement, let one bias fall.
Would you have quiet, sit still for one minute.
Would you have love, hold on to one hand.
Would you have peace, just love one another.

Getting Off One's Ass

One poem for one in angst
One dollar at one store
One can to one food bank
One card to one sick child
One call to one official
One book to one small town
One well for one sick village
One brick for one new dike
One shot for one new life
One step is all one needs
One Kiva for one world
One peace at a time

Saturday, February 15, 2014



If I could paint a masterpiece,
you’d be in it,
and all of our dogs and cats, too,
and it would be a perfect day,
with green grass, bright flowers,
a sky of blue.
If I could paint the perfect picture,
there’d be no frustrations,
no conflict, certainly no pain,
no fast leap to being old folks,
no, we’d be fresh and young again..
Can you imagine a day so perfect?
I can, reflecting on the day
that you were sent my way.
I can imagine that day so perfect
with the peace of the mythic dove.
It’s easy for me, you know, since
I am always with the one I love.
Can you imagine a day so perfect,
a valentine in every way,
where all we need is each other.
Today is such a day.