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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…