Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Self Anointed

Lately, you’ve been scouring the dark
using your eyes like the nimble paws
of some Egyptian-cat-goddess-in-residence

clawing a clutch of stars from the sky
hiding them under a Persian carpet
someplace south of Lansing or Blue Island
someplace where the liquor’s cheaper
and the bars still let you smoke.

You’ve temporarily replaced the constellations
with plasma sparks and rail dust but
the ghosts of those ancient Greek goat-fuckers
are going to be pissed
when they can’t spy Aries or Orion’s Belt tonight.

You say you’re just cleaning up around here.

Well, that’s ambitious, but I can still find grit
out among the gaseous nebula.

You say you’re going to re-name the heavenly bodies
before putting them back, one by one.

Well, maybe you could call the North Star Plath
or Whitman, but before re-inventing the villanelle

why not listen to the voices of readers and writers
not to be born for a hundred more years, asking


(Publsihed in Arsenic Lobster)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


your name is Energy:
the result of sun
breeding with earth
in-between the cosmic bedclothes
of time without beginning.

You thought your people hailed
from the old sod
and you were assuredly right.
Solar heat broods in the dirt
below the crust. Plants send their tendrils
to test these depths, scouring nourishment
from such an improbable combination of parents.
Sun, the bastard child of heat and light,
your virgin mother, of water and soil.

You are immortal.
Energy cannot be destroyed,
and time is illusory.
Reduced to but an atom, you will still join
some new incarnation of powerful life,
the remainder of you perhaps buried
as dust motes drift into a dune
across the top of some deserted windowsill.

The feathery precipitation builds up
layer after layer
accounting for time through accumulation.
Neither time for beginning,
nor time for the end. But time to continue,
time to replay,
time to remember your noble lineage.

Your name is Energy.

(appears in A Gift of Wings, published by
Perspectives in memory of Kristen Biss)

God Blinked

God blinked
a sherbet sunrise peeked
sleepy songbirds stirred
the morning hours slipped

God smiled
the sun clung to a cloud
a crowd lazed on the lawn
the afternoon sped

God yawned
a salmon sunset sunk
workmen hurried home
the daylight dwindled down

God dozed
a crescent moon crept
souls securely slept
the stars fell from the sky

And God blinked.

(appears in A Gift of Wings, published by
Perspectives in memory of Kristen Biss)

Oh, Pioneer

Your car has been parked
off Highland
for weeks,
one tire flat,
and now
a parking boot
crippling this rusted hulk.

All summer you kept
pumping hope
into that one soft wheel
but it’s autumn now.

Take what belongs to you,
leave that ferrous lump
and jump a bus

to anywhere that’s better-
better than this chickenshit
day-to-day we wade through.

Aldous Huxley was only half right
because this isn’t that brave a world
and it’s certainly not new.

Who knew which of us would have to be the pioneer,
but I’ll keep part of you here
if you take a part of me along

And before too long
I’ll be right beside you.

(appears in A Gift of Wings, published by
Perspectives in memory of Kristen Biss.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

We, The People

Political tailors keep us naked and starving.
Vested interests are like suits
with two pairs of pants,
one gray,
one herringbone.
There can be no black or white.
There can be no straightforward pattern.

Pentagonian pimps turn democracy into a whore,
a kept woman
who answers only to her keepers.
Every day she looks more like lady justice-
blinders in place.

Our shining star of freedom
has developed a curious green patina
and a fishy odor.
We grow old
and our sense of smell fails.
Is that stink from the right or the left?
Alas, it isn’t behind us yet.

So stand in line to register.
Stand in line to choose.
Vote your rightful conscience.
Then deposit the ballot
and flush twice.
It’s a long, long way
to Florida.

(published by Third Eye)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Day We Put My Mother in the Ground

The sun forgot to rise
on the day we put my mother in the ground.
There was a gray ocean above us,
and in the distance thunder pounded
like the surf was crashing
against some far away celestial beach head.
Rain had cleansed the air; it smelled so sweet.
It held the scent of fresh dirt.
Nothing is cleaner than dirt.
My wool suit had a scent of its own too
that cool, clammy morning.
Damp wool, all clingy and scratchy,
the sheep’s revenge I suppose.

By the time we got to church the storm had come close,
and the peals of thunder made it seem as if God himself
was mourning for my mother.
The electric lights dimmed a few times,
but the wax candles continued to flicker, held their vigil.
No slackers those votive lights.
And people took turns speaking about my mother,
but I can’t remember what they said.
What I remember is numbness,
and the worst kind of headache.
The kind that makes even your hair hurt.

When they carried the casket out of the church
raindrops started to fall onto it, angels tears for sure.
But tears of joy, not sorrow. For our loss on this side
was their gain on the other.
And at the graveyard we laid my mother in the ground.
A good resting place for a pure woman.
Nothing is cleaner than dirt.

(appears in Passing, published by Poetworks Press)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Power Supply

Homo Sapien hard drive crash
needs biological bios flash.
Illuminati dim and dying.
Cell phone ring no longer crying.
Auto starter clicking-clacking
jumper cable sources lacking.
Dome light black light dashboard dark
shove the shifter back in park.
Scan through discs to look for drivers
install patches hope for rivers.
Order nicad cell replacement
bar graph reading in the basement.
Magnet storm transformer whack
power fades from brown to black.
Flat lined in the mind and heart
rubber soul transfusion start.
OEM should be consulted
operator error cited.
Warranty still validated
what he needs will soon be sated.
Information clearly needed
ignorance of all conceded.
This is all the problem took-
Opened cover, read the book.

(published by Contemporary Rhyme)

Slip Covers

Fresh laundry,
blue jeans
and sweat shirts,
un-pegged from the line.
Wind-whipped, sun-dried,
and so clean
they’re innocent.

Fold these clothes,
slip covers
for your child’s soul.

Mate these sock-angels
so they can bear your little Christ up,
lest he dash one of his feet
against a stone.

That’s what parents do,
stand in the gap between
the soiled and the immaculate,
between the dirty and the divine.

(published by Artistry of Life)

How My Man Came to Leave

On November 18th, 1958 the steamship Carl D Bradley
was lost in a gale on Lake Michigan. 33 of her 35 crew
were killed. Most had lived in Rogers City, Michigan. The
ship’s home port on Lake Huron. The Mayor of the city,
Kenneth P. Vugelheim said, “Ours is truly a community of
men who have gone down to the sea in ships.”

Some men work
the factory floor;
some men work
at a trade.
But here men go down
to the sea in ships,
our husbands, brothers,

and sons.
They tell you
it’s to put food on the table,
they tell themselves
that too.
But there is a pull
beyond earning a living.
The lake is a temptress,

beguiling. In summer
she’s a siren
in shimmering sapphires.
A sailor’s seduction ensues.
Through the Summer a sailor's
enthralled with this mistress.
His home and his family

in memory dim.
But Autumn brings
a new look to the lake.
Still attractive, dignified,
but portending a change,
foretelling a graceless aging

too soon coming.
By November the lake has become
a bitter old whore, angry,
short tempered.
She senses her suitors
are longing to leave her,
to abandon her
beneath the coming ice.
But unwilling to die
old and lonely,
that day, Tuesday,
November eighteenth,
in the season of ’58,
Old Dame Michigan
reached up her icy arms,
heaved her mighty breath,

and snapped the Carl D Bradley.
Thirty three lovers
she took to bed that evening,
never to wake.
Only two were left
to tell the fate
of their ship
and of their brothers.

On Huron shore,
home port,
I soon learn the news,
the news I do not wish to hear.
My sailor has abandoned me
to lie forever by the side
of that Jezebel,

(displayed at The Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum )

The Power of Men

Power flows from men,
but not from their arms or hands

men with tireless muscles
take elevators down
into the bowels of the earth
and sweat for their bread,
mining the ore
to create steel, and

men stand outside great jaws of hell
in waves of heat and
showers of sparks
beating steel into hammers
to build the world. But

don’t confuse strength
with power.

Power flows from men,
but not from their minds

celebrated cerebral picadors
burst outdated thought bubbles,
forging new paradigms,
reconstructing equations,
setting pre-conceived notions on ear
while pulling solutions for tomorrow’s problems
out of their posteriors. But

don’t mistake brilliance
for power.

The power of men lies in their words,

so for two hundred fifty years
black men were lynched
for reading books
and white men were murdered
for teaching them how.

The power of men lies in their words,

so for two thousand years
would be leaders
have incinerated the books
they didn’t want anyone else to read.

The power of men lies in their words,

so even today there are writers
with prices on their heads,
living in hiding
and changing their names.

The power of men lies in their words,

so whenever a man speaks of peace
through civil disobedience
that man is marked,
hunted down
and killed. But

the evil of men lies in their lies,

so wrapped in God and
the flag of their choice
wicked men try
the strong man, and
the wise man,
spinning cobwebs out of scriptures,
crying, “Truth!” but speaking lies,
claiming what’s yours is theirs,
they tell the world:

We’ve got ours,
and we’re going to keep it.

But they can’t keep it
unless we let them

the power of men lies in our words.

(published by Third Eye)

Under the Influence

The length
of this road,
your girlish face,
time we’ve spent apart

drew me back
to draw you close, but
I’ve drawn the wrong conclusion.

It’s the time of year
for heavy frost.
I’d scraped away enough
to find the yellowed leaves
of our past
yet knowing how way
leads on to way
I doubted if I
should ever come back.

It’s the time of year
for killing things,
a duck, a deer,
a bottle of merlot.
So pull the cork;
let’s make a toast
to a past that lies here ashen.

Here’s to the cold embers
of a fire burned long ago.

(published by Artistry of Life)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Two Sailors, faithful crew.
No mutineers here, no,
they'll do the bit they signed on for.
So each one takes his orders;
each one stands her watch,
living, working,
knowing, growing,
side by side.

And when the watch is over,
each one returns to quarters,
on a different ship.
And when the day is done
each one is loyal
to a different captain.
Two captains who anchored their
ships for a time,
side by side.

But in due season each ship will sail
a different course.
And these sailors won't
become mates,
but remain
two sailors, faithful crew.
No mutineers here, no,
they'll do the bit they signed on for.

(published by Blueroot
and by Stimulus Respond)