November 29 Poems

Nebraska never seemed like much to me,

but when we pulled into North Platte

on a summer evening in ’95 I smiled;

I could smell the mountains.

It seemed like a boundary of sorts,

the humid Midwest trailing behind us,

and the dry mountain air of the West

stretched out before us us, waiting.

Dusk. It was quiet as we pulled into

the motel parking lot. The sun

was setting orange out across

the plains stretching into Colorado.

Seven years in the Midwest and now we

were going back to the mountains,

to that wonderful, dry, mountain air.

I could feel the pull of those mountains

to the West as I walked barefoot

through the grass with a toddler

in my arms. The evening breeze

bent the grass and I closed my eyes

and breathed deeply, content.

We were going home, at least

to a place we would call home.


The decoys were packed
The pond left behind
The sled pulled behind
The man and his children
On foot when the flock
Of swan appeared. With
The twelve gauge cradled
In his arms he looked up
Anticipated their trajectory
Heard them hoot as they flew
Into range. The children cheered
Shoot! A swan dropped
From the air. As he fell,
His heart pumped for the last
Time, giving him one extra surge
Of lingering life. He locked
His wings and began to glide
Away from his shooter.
The man and his children ran
To catch the falling swan.
The littlest child was almost left
Behind, her little legs pumping.
The swan swooped down
Onto another man’s land.
The man and his children
Forced to surrender the swan
To a private property, another man’s
Table, their mouths salted
With the taste of bitter success.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 28 Poems

The music took me

when he said,

you’ve got to listen to this,

then proceeded to tell me

how and when it was recorded

and why it was so good.

So I put the disc into a boom box

on the shelf in my bedroom

and listened, and I was carried away

by that tenor saxophone,

warm and breathy, and

the deft rhythm section,

and since that time,

decades ago,

I can’t get enough.


A cloud in the morning hovered
Against the silhouette of black
Mountain. Sunrise light
Captured, illuminated the cloud
Lit it like a flash of lightning, stained
The sky, called me outside.
The back yard was drowning
In a 365 degree view of cloud waves
Caught by the sunrise. It came

To remind me to say hello
To the Earth, to remind me of a man
Who told me he says hello as he leaves
His house every morning to the tree
He planted when he was a boy.
He acknowledges the shrubs, he has
A conversation with Mount Olympus.
He told me the Mountain is part
Of the Earth and the Earth has a spirit

Like ours. He told me the mountain
Makes you feel something in return
A pin prick beginning deep inside
Your chest growing as it pushes outward
You feel something in return. I stood
Outside in my slippers thinking
About the lure outside, ripples of clouds
In the still blue morning ocean. I didn’t
Say a word, couldn’t see the mountain

Black shadowed giant. This morning
The sky greeted me. My eyes heard
As loud as a foghorn, the sun rolling
Across a sea of condensed water vapor.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 27 Poems

When I feel myself sinking

I reach for a pen,

open this notebook

and explore the niches

of my mind,

where all kinds of things

lay scattered about.

Sometimes I surprise myself

at what I find,

but usually I’m familiar

with the dark halls inside

that I wander frequently.

When I do encounter something

it’s usually just the same old stuff,

maybe camouflaged a bit,

so I’ll wiggle it out of some

chink or crack in the wall,

and examine it,

only to find that it’s just

another fragment of my

broken life.

Sometimes it’s jagged and sharp—

the hard, new things I deal with,

and other times it’s smooth

and worn—the things I deal

with over and over again.

I want to throw those worn

bits far from me, and the

jagged, sharp bits I stuff

back into the crack and

hope they stay there.


People are like trees
Their bark, firm rugged
Immovable stubborn.
Their trunk, like a breathing stone
Holds so still while it reaches
Beneath the ground. Their leaves
Weeping willows sweep
The neck of the earth
The blow dryer force wind moves
Through their vines, a wild
Hanging coif. Some have pine
Needles, pointy and prickly
Each branch laden with a family
Of green Porcupines, their outer
Protection against the wind.
Some have pinecones,
Extensions of their solid base, hard
As their bark. Every tree
Is a different person. Their face
A different creation of God.
So many characters, infinite
Faces emerging from the same mold,
So many trees blown in opposite ways,
All reaching below the surface, digging
For life water, sucking fresh or rotten
It doesn’t matter they devour
Any stored provision wherever they stand.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 26 Poems

There are too many women

in my life that have disappeared.


It wasn’t enough to take my sister,

who trusted me, believed in me.


It wasn’t enough to take my wife’s sister,

who was nursed back by my wife.


It wasn’t enough to then take my wife,

and leave her broken on the ground,

only a fraction of who she once was.


I am left wondering if all this taking is over,

or should I prepare for the next storm.


We lost you not long after your wedding.
There were pictures of your honeymoon.
You were standing under a waterfall
In a bikini and cut off shirt. They say
You started to make strange comments

After that, as if your mind had been plucked
From the present and re-situated
In your past. The ability to swallow
Went first. You choked on water then words.
You forgot who your husband was, but I like

To think you remembered me when you smiled.
Once I walked you to your bed, our hands clutched
Into one fist. You got a feeding tube not long
After that. When we undressed you, a smile
of achievement crossed your skeletal lips

In the mirror. You never grew old
When it was just you and me, it was
Always bran cereal and bananas
For breakfast. You used to let me dress up
In your costume jewelry and sequined evening

Gowns. Even the disease could not steal
Your vanity. We all flew to Washington
To say our final goodbyes. You’d been trapped
Inside that withering body half my childhood.
It was the first time I’d been in a room

Alone with you since I was seven. I knelt
By your hospital bed and prayed. I wanted
To believe your semi-vegetative state
Gave half of you to me and half your consciousness
To God- that you saw the afterlife and me

At the same time. I promised
When I died we’d be together. You died
A week later and visited me. We had
Breakfast together, the healthy bran cereal
Kind. I feel you from time to time

I dream you when I sleep. I like to think
I’m your favorite, your soul grandchild.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 25 Poems

I walked long into the morning

until the sun shown down

between the tall buildings

providing just a little comfort

from the biting wind.

And then I sat. Just sat

on a bench in the feeble sunlight

doing nothing much,

just watching

people passing by,

catching scraps of conversation.

Just siting, until the morning passed,

until I was hungry and cold.


He’s the first one awake
Before sunrise. He’s the first
Whose eyelids grow heavy
At night. In the morning
He turns the thermostat up
I can always find him
Lying in front of the largest vent
In the dark talking to himself,
Quietly whispering the things
Little boys say when no one else
Is awake. Only I see him
In this state beginning his day
In secret conversation when
He sees me he’ll tell me
About his dreams: he was flying,
He was walking with dinosaurs,
He invented bionic wings.
I’ll ask him to make me a pair
Next time he dreams
He’ll say there is no design
You could grasp.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 24 Poems

Thursday evening. Chicago.

Walking the streets in the rain,

alone. Left on Hubbard Street.

Hungry. There, Vermillion,

that’s the place I’m looking for.

Candles everywhere, shimmering

on the deep red walls. The beat

of Eastern hip-hop throbs.


Triple lentil stew. A

aeep, burnished orange,

complex, rich, smoky, smooth,

offset with crunchy fenugreek

seeds and sprigs of cilantro.

It’s a warm fire in the hearth

on a cold, wet night.


Artichoke pakoras. Forget

everything you know about

artichokes. Deep fried hearts

topped with sweet Chilean chili pepper;

take, sink into the ambrosial chutney—

pureed eggplant, chili pepper, coconut;

I’m reeling, this is beyond my

culinary experience, beyond my

culinary imagination.


Wild boar jibaritos,

Cuban street fare.

Imagine tender succulent

pulled pork, rich, dark,

and smoky with flecks of

chili pepper topped with

crumbled queso, served with

fried plantains discs and

a bright red pear-guajillo chutney.

Magnificent! Fiery, bursting

with complex flavors and texture—

salty, chewy meat,

dense, sweet plantains,

bright citrusy chutney.


Mango flan. Not the syrupy

sticky sweet jello-like flan

you’re thinking of. Think of

a fine Camembert or the

best panno-cota you’ve ever had,

that is the texture here.

Extraordinary, heroic flan

topped with crunchy green

cardamom and garnished with

Malibu Rum coconut foam,

a disc of carmerlized sugar,

and a mint leaf.


This is slow, deliberate

contemplative eating,

no rushing, just savoring.

I have been transported

to a place I have never been,

a culinary ecstasy nearly

beyond belief.

With my last bite,

the sadness washes over me

like the setting sun over

the blue ocean.


Walking out into the rain,

I’m forlorn, lost, like

like leaving behind a lover

not knowing if and when

we’ll ever meet again.

I turn to look back,

the candles shimmering

on the deep red walls.


Come Cat and we will call you
Saint Laurent. You will need
no longer nap in the grass.

Come Cat nap in our barn
consecrated for you. You make
no sound Cat, but I know you

want to be ours. Join our priory
the order of chickens and rats
we need a guardian of the gates

to the Otherworld. Arch your back
and follow us in silence. We have no meat
to offer you a blood sacrifice. Potatoes

will not do either? We offer solace instead
we have a wood chapel, a vaulted ceiling
a place to nestle among the smooth boards.

We offer sunlit windows and a cool breeze
through the rafter tips. An intricate dust
sanctifies our barn as a place of hunting

and sleeping. Why do you meow outside
our kitchen door? Come to the barn.
We have dry and wet kitty food

in our cat sanctuary. We said a prayer
you would track down our rats. Come Cat
you can take a vow of silence, make yourself

a crypt of rats below the stone pillars
your private mausoleum and we will
throw you food and applause.


Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

November 23 Poems

I find him sitting alone

in an empty room;

I’m just enjoying the silence,

he says. What could a little

boy know about silence.

When my world tilts

I search for silence

amidst the tumult,

as things come crashing

down around me.

I hold on, while the earth

undulates beneath me,

until, finally, things are

still, and quiet again.

In the dead of night

I steal downstairs and

walk barefoot on the

wood floors listening

to the silence, shivering

a little; then the furnace

ticks and moans and

begins to exhale. Outside

the shaggy junipers stand

silently staring back at me,

and the moon casts

milky shadows on the patio.

I step outside, the concrete

hard and cold and the night

not so silent as I wish.

The low thrum of the city,

a speeding car, and a far off

siren wailing disrupt the night air.

I wait for the silence of the woods,

where the night is only

interrupted by the wind

in the trees and the low

murmur of a distant stream.


The kitchen smells
Of spice cloves
Nutmeg cinnamon ginger
We eat them
Throughout the year
In apple butter
Apple cider
Muffins and bread
But the true marriage is spice
To pumpkin joined
Once a year
As we prepare
The pumpkin’s marriage
Feast the butter
Has been cubed cut
Into flour rolled
Into a glorious cold disk
We planned this meal
In May we pushed
Seeds into the backyard
We waited and watered
Watered and waited
Until the vines turned
Hard and wheat colored
The pumpkin adorned
Our table September to
November we adored it
Always knowing when
We were most grateful
The pumpkin would be severed
The brain scooped
The seeds separated
Boiled and roasted
The skull roasted
On it’s face, stripped
Of it’s skin and beaten
Into a heavy pulp
We’ve been staring
At this pumpkin eating it
With our eyes
The pie once devoured
Won’t satisfy
We’ll be craving
Pumpkin pie till May
Till we bury the pumpkin
Offspring like a sleeping child
We hope to raise
From the dead
Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment