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)