top of page

New Poems: 2022-2023







Walking home from the ledge near the waterfall


From the place where memory flirts with the space between the stars,

The darkness that separates souls, I remembered everything about that

Night. If you took all the souls, conscious and aware, and dropped them

into the vastness of space, they would fill a pixel of expansive borderless

out-there-ness.


The mist touches my face, leaving a gauze liquid façade that I don’t

Try to wipe away but rather wait for the wind to dry and I think of

The time you licked my face and then blew your breath toward me

To dry what remained of the spittle lacquer left behind, like marked

Territory.


The steps in the dark, through the forests and meadows, leaves

Crunching underneath our feet, we can hear the waterfall crashing

On the rocks below, the roar lessens as we move up the road, with

The disquiet of soundless dark creating images and arousing hurried

Fate.


Universal fate splashes us with its mist when we least expect it. It

Is up to each of us to wipe it away or wait for the winds of time to

Dry our fate depending on whether we face it or turn and run and

Deny our destiny, years later wondering what turn was missed or

Embraced.


Moments of Evolution: An Equation: B+D+G+L=Em2


Birth, the breaking free from holding cells

Of biological matter or psychological pain.

Both the same.


Death, the final evolution from which we

Can never return in the same form we now

Know too well.


Growth, the daily balance between birth and

Death, the small dismissals of yesterdays with

Determined force.


Burial, the refusal to fight any longer, a gift of

Surrender to a soul weary from the daily push

And pull reality.


Life, the blender created elixir with one part

Birth, one part death, one part growth, and

One part burial.


Evolution, the product of the life energy, be-

Witching in its ability to take what was to

What can be.


Moments, epiphanous gentle lightning that

Opens up your eyes to what you have become:

Wonder or Terror.


Listening to Horowitz


On an overcast afternoon near a shore that

Wears fog as an overcoat


Room quiet but for the phonograph needle

Gliding across a score


Artists, the ones with the divine touch, are

Subtle, a lion on the hunt


The well-thought-out approach to paint,

Words or notes the same


Subtle details are where the art is found,

Brush work on drums


Senses repel noise in all its forms, subtle

To crescendo a better run,


Stories told in steps, skips, and jumps

Hold true to the journey,


The artist venturing out every new day

The same tools, different aim


Target missed, target found, according

To the beholder’s rhyme


Sunflowers, Chopin, Galileo, Monk,

Plath, Kahlo, Morrison, Ma


Listening to Horowitz, solitary in

My afternoon thought,


Wondering, dreamily speculating,

As to Apollonian joy,


When the instruments of art join

With the humanly divine.


Riffing next in order


Here I stand or sit or sway to the comings and goings of another day, finding the tobacco not allowed sign distracting as I puff on the last Cuban cigar I bought years ago when there was a wink of time away from the embargo and Havana was a people-to-people exchange proving that people long for the same things everywhere and the fit women in their seventies showing off their still sweet bodies at the community center salon the bodies that some time before had been entertaining guests at the Tropicana where they said there was more imagination and eroticism that they could make a dead libido come alive again and how they were offered proposals of all kinds but they were artists and only the ones who needed money badly followed the rich tourists back to their hotel rooms where they wanted a show and would eventually get to that point where they degrade with kneeling positions and dirty names and you wondered how you could kiss your naïve boyfriend again and the silence that would overtake you for weeks on end because though the money helped the family it killed something sweet inside her soul and next time the offers came you rushed home poor but safe and happy so that one day you could still dance up a storm because Fidel delivered on his promise that to each would be given an opportunity to live out their days in dignity and here she is dancing well into her seventh decade on earth and people-to-people like you are happy she can.


Coming back again: Pessoa’s Mistress


I.


The twenty-four-hour place on the

Lower East Side, near the deli and

Close to where Dylan used to play.


Promises to reunite, like overdue

Bills you have good intentions to

pay, seldom finished on time.


Pretty at first glance but the

Sadness muted what would

Pass for girl-next-doorness.


Poets make commitments

They never intend to keep,

Though they think they will.


Something romantic about

Setting a date at three a.m.,

A trinity of possibilities.


II.


Tell me your story. I don’t

Have much to tell. Try me.

No, you go first. I will.


I study lonely people. It’s a

Hobby of my mine. I don’t

Comfort. Just ask why.


Lonely is just like the word says,

Lone. Lone wolf. Lone ranger.

A lone. That’s me a lonely one.


Born the only son of a lonely son

So, I saw it up close all my life.

Like nausea close by at all times.


III.


Not lonely by nature but in the

Last few years I lost my way and

Feared being near anyone again.


Her words assured me. Realizing

That lost souls found each other

At three a.m. looking for dreams.


Waiting for a mirage or a certain

Belief that she was not imaging

An affection not truly returned.


Words always capture me. His

Are no different. I believed each

Syllable and accented remark.


English spoken by a Dutch is

Exotic enough, straight forward

With an emphasis on true wit.


Seeing a warmth underneath

Like a schoolboy who trash

Talks back to keep sanity.


Past three a.m. our appointed

Time. Sitting for a few hours

Conjuring up a reunion scene.


You know the theater of the

Mind. We are the heroes in

Plots and twists contrived.


One past adventure came when

He said he would but days later

He disappeared into thin air.


V.


Sensing a break, the enchantress’

Story now bared, wishing that

She could see in me her wish.


VI.


A waitress comes over. Asking,

Sir, you have been sitting here

For hours, do you need coffee?


Begging forgiveness for taking

Up the space, I reply, I thought

She would be coming back again.


Sayings for a Saturday


Time passes without a dam

To contain its immense power.

You can be overcome by its

Strength or you can find a way

To jump in, double-Dutch-style,

And frolic the day away.


Listening is the body’s way to

Slow down time. Noise is the

Way time leaves you to fend

For yourself. Contemplation

Is time undressing in front

You and inviting you to stay.


Most action is wasted reaction.

Thinking and assessing before

Acting is wisdom spicing up your

Decision. Experience is action

Unplanned allowing come-what-

May to teach tough lessons.


Every moment of every day is

An adventure. Every adventure

Is a moment discovered with true

Intention. Days without adventure

Are days where the joy of being is

Imprisoned in a cage of indecision.


Humility and kindness are the two

Children of love and faith. Charity

And Forgiveness, the arduous work

Of being humble and kind. Time

Becomes life when acts of kindness

Reveal purpose and worthy ends.


Nature is to the senses as ideas are

To the mind. The Universe calls us

To its bosom to recall the dust of

Where we were and are destined to

Return by letting nature and time

Play in the circle of enduring life.


Sounds, letters, words—all explain

The wonders of the earth. Beings,

Such as you and me, communicate in

A manner that allows for things

Getting done, but to converse with

The Universe one must sacrifice.


Pain and Pleasure, like tension and

Release, are pull/push principles

That make all of nature work. All

Things work because the life force

Gravity maintains all in balance.


Community is the life force seeking

To balance humanity. Family is the

Community in a smaller scale. When

One feels alone, one should seek out

Nature. The universe cares for those

alone by invitation to nature’s table.


Coming and going, staying and moving

Are the life cycle at work. One must

Decide to come or go or stay. Only

Sleep, through dreaming, allows for

All the stages to exist simultaneously

In harmony with the natural scheme.


Resilience is the life force calluses

One earns through the hard work of

Taking on life adventures even when

Your heart says you can’t. Endurance

Is resilience over many life years.


Birth and Death are two sides of one

Coin. Becoming an adult is deciding

To flip the coin and living through

Whatever lands. Not everyone gets

To be an adult. True consciousness

is the realization of being an adult.


Living is the ultimate form of being.

Living every moment in conscious

Awareness, as a resilient adult, in

Harmony with the universal balance

Of nature and humanity while taking

On whatever adventure beckons.

Clouds and Waves


Clouds and waves float and crash

Each in their own way.


Cape Cod good-bye days where

Answers subtly walk by.


Martinis and Martha’s Vineyard

Little houses on the square.


Damp and moldy book sellers

On the muddy roadside.


Long silent highway hours

Portending the inevitable.

Small cabins shelter from the

Blowing summer wind.


Clouds and waves telling me

What I had not heard.


Hanging on for dear life: HOFDL


Irrelevant pantomime by stick figured

Bots on handheld devices that every

Few seconds go Tik Tok.


Fame for a few seconds, followers to

Follow, influence for hire, million

Dollar perfumed fake smiles.


Eyes positioned and primed to take

In every new mention, every surprise,

Every present juicy indiscretion.


Privacy is gradations of publicity, less

Is not more, and being ignored is worse

Than being wrongly maligned.


Likes and emojis, letters for words OMG,

LOL, LMAO, ADIH, IFYP, TIME, QQ, OMDB,

WTF, AYMM, CWOT, FAWC.


Lies and truths are of equal in value.

One easier to create the other easier to

Ignore like true and real emotions.


Nothing matters when nothing matters.

Everything matters when nothing

Matters. Matter is a relative term.


No turning back now. No off ramp

From this clover leaf merry-go-round.

Just hang on for dear life, oh my.


Here we


Here we, you and I, cry as the masks

Fall by the wayside,


As the shadow strip tease reveals

Itself telling us


What we already know.


Here we, yesterday and tomorrow, sigh

At what is to come,


At what the things we did in quiet hours

Have become,


What surprises now?


Here we, regret and sorrow, push the

Rock upon our shoulders,


Upon the cliffs where the wind rings

Wet and hollow,


What penance is this?


Here we, mask and shadow, sit in

Wonderous marvel,


Sit on a shore reminiscent of a home

Left and lost long ago,


Where are we now?


Here we, mother and child, see the

True moments,


See the seeds of memories yet to be

Lived, made or forgotten,


Where are they now?


Here we, lover and beloved, share our

True identities,


Share the bare truth of who we were

And why we were,


Who are we now?


Fingertip sonatas


Angel lip kisses on the brow

Of a sleeping child only a few

Hours old.


Dew drops, individual and stout,

On branches, on pine needles of

Dying trees.


Furrowed rows of lush soil disked

To lie fallow smelling of minerals

And harvest.


Crashing waves of seaweed odorous

Roller coaster splashes reaching for

Waiting toes.


Somersaulting ideas tumbling forth

Onto a tabula rasa of evolving acts

And experiences.


Fingertip sonatas played in silence

As street sounds orchestrate a

Hidden harmony.


Days and times


Days and times

bombs falling on Ukraine


Days and times

Hate mongers at a gala


Days and times

Another fallen officer


Days and times

One more execution


Days and times

Ponzi crypto games


Days and times

First day of school


Days and times

Straight A’s


Days and times

Love at first sight


Days and times

Communities unite


Days and times

Dividers voted out


Days and times

Democracy voted in

Days and times

More of the same


Evolving Trust


Into battle we pledged our untested trust.

Your defense of my soul and body was

On view for all to admire.


When it came my turn to reciprocate, your

Safe passage was the focus of my undying

Brotherly devotional fire.


At the end of it all, your eyes, distant yet

Apparent revealed a hidden truth not

Revealed as we tired.


Though the battle won, a piece broke

Off and its slicing thrust reached deep

Like a lancing spire.


Ancient warriors never left all the fight

On the field. Always a pocket full of anger

Made trust a waiting liar.


A survivor’s view


The hospital corridors still smell of the early morning

Disinfection. The nurse at her station is just settling in

With coffee and scattered purses.


Walking by the doors of the infirm is humbling as they

Face fates worse than the quick surgery that cleared the

Cancer out of your inner works.


Not free by any means. Humbling to know the organ

that helped you create life, now gone, will ensure no

others like you will roam the earth.


The years and months stack up. You count the days

Promised but not guaranteed. “Still undetected.”

A six-month reprieve. Living must go on.


The Gospel According to Juan Diego


After the roses appeased the doubters and the Virgen de Guadalupe was enshrined as the Mother of the Americas, Juan Diego was left to history’s side pews. Though made a Saint in 1990 by the Pope, Juan Diego is more a concept than a fully understood man. That is until a recent discovery was made near where he lived near Tepeyac. A well-preserved diary was found. Handwritten by an unknown hand, the diary proports to be the teachings of Juan Diego which the church sought to keep hidden for fear it would undermine the church’s hold on the burgeoning affection Mexicans had for the Virgen de Guadalupe. The diary’s authenticity has not been formalized. But the words speak for themselves, and it is left to the reader to give them their due worth.


The Gospel According to Juan Diego


God said this to me, said Juan Diego


The mysteries of God and are not mysterious.


Look to the sky. Look to the ground. Look to the rivers. Look to the trees. Look to the fields where

maize grows. Look to the love you hold in your soul.


Open your eyes with your head to the sky. Be humble in the face of what you find. Listen to the wind and the sounds it creates as it reverberates through of all of existence. It is your God that

You hear.


Wake to the morning sun. Feel the power of the day. See how earth, wind, fire, and water combine to create. All directions lead to the same end. All approaches lead to the same start. I am every

Where you are.


Hold me no differently than you hold others. Do unto each other as you do unto me. I will do unto you as you do unto me. We serve each other. I am the God you worship. If you worship me with hate, I will be a hateful God. If you honor me and each other with love, a loving God I will be.


You are all my sons and daughters throughout your days. You wake and I am with you. You sleep and I am with you. I do not judge you as you do not judge me. Your life is your own. You make of it what you may depending on your circumstance. If you are grounded in love, you can overcome all that comes your way.


Those that need a hateful God feed hate in the world. Those that rejoice in a loving God are like the lilies in the fields that grow and die and grow again making death unimportant in the scheme of life. I serve you best when you love and turn away from hate. You serve me best by doing the same.


One of my many loving sons taught you a prayer to start your day in harmony with me. I give my son Juan Diego a prayer to share with you in the same way. I will pray for you in the same way.


Blessed be the world as it is today.

I wake to be a servant to friend

and enemy alike. Let our God’s

love be our guiding light. May

I see the good in people,

as I pray they see the good

in me. May those trapped

in hate be freed from this

imprisoning fate. May

we live in harmony

with our mother

Earth.

Every day you will face obstacles placed in your path. Overcome them with patience and love. When anger seeks to take you astray, breathe in the beauty of what love has created and know

you can create a solution in the same way.


If your intentions seek to help all your brothers and sisters, know you are on the right path. If your intentions are to help only a few your foolishness will lead your life astray. Do good for the least of

your brothers and sisters as a tithing for the wealth you may acquire. Seek only enough and let the

bounty of your gains be shared with those not living in your privilege. Those who lend a hand, feed the starving, care for those who cannot care for themselves, and listen with a loving heart—these are my chosen people, these are the blessed.


Your reward and punishment are your own. The child of love lives in a world of heavenly delights. The child of greed and hate is clothed in the poverty of ugliness. Children are your love made real. Children created through love will heal the world. Children conceived through lust and avarice are the breeding ground of life’s worst afflictions. Choose your children well. They are yours. Your responsibilities. Teach them and yourselves well.


My true intentions for you are best understood when all are heard. Leaders among you will lead you to great heights. Seeing the true glories due to each of you will take sacrifice and courage. Be not misled that wealth is power. Wealth is created most often through sheer birth luck. To see the

gates of heaven you must be humble when given unworked for wealth. Humble people serve others and the humble and gracious among you are my saints.


You will hold each other to account. You know these truths. Be honest. Be fair. Be responsible. Be of good heart and health. Be good to the body of your community. Be good to the body you have been given through birth. If your head hurts from life or from a poor birth, seek the help of others and help yourself. Let no pleasure become pain. Let no pain take away life’s pleasure. Be free but do not let your freedom keep a brother or sister from expressing their liberty.


When pain tries to overcome you seek the help of healers. Listen to true healers. True healers listen to you. True healers help your own faculties find the cures. Overcoming pain is painful. Overcoming pain will make you stronger than you were before the pain. A cured brother and sister will help others cure themselves. Healing the living is proof the life cycle will prevail. When your body, through accident, misfortune, or come-what-may, must welcome death know it is the door to your stardust rebirth. The universe welcomes with open arms those transitioning to stardust.


Juan Diego spoke to God every day of his life and his diaries contain many other scriptures given to him from a voice he heard from above. One word was written at least once on each day’s entry. The word was love.


D’Mockracy


They came with guns and hanging ropes

Egged on by ones thinking them dopes.


January sixth should live in infamy. Yet,

For some it is only delayed deadly destiny.


Standing adjourned, the select committee

Findings must lead to justice not to pity.

The King of Mockery looks to his minions

To continue believing his dangerous sins.


Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!

Let the taste for justice not be a bitter cup.


Will the seditious bastard be held to account?

Or will he slither away like a snake unbound?


Is Democracy strong enough to withstand his

D’Mockracy? Or is this the opening to the abyss?


Immigration


Humans go away from wars, violence, famine.

As far removed as they can get from home,

Families and all they know.


Name me one group in any of the United States

Who came here from another place and did

Not come running away.


Let my people go! Out of the land of Egypt.

Slaves no more. Freedom for all. Yahweh

Protects as we wander home.


Salvador, Guatemala, Oaxaca, Honduras,

Yucatan—they are all Egypt to fearing folk

Searching for a peaceful abode.


El Paso is a high desert oasis for pilgrims

Seeking to part a Rio that borders a dream,

A dream sought by many before.


We wander all. All wander we. Faith in a

God that promises freedom from a hell

On earth and within our hearts.


Immigration is a fact. From our birth in

Africa to our current state, we humans

Move to find a peaceful place.


There we were on Interstate 5


Seeing the fenced agricultural land,

With the occasional sign demanding

That more dams be built, as the rare

Showers fell like a shimmering curtain

In a fountain of despair.


Passing Bakersfield, the seventies

Pop filling the car’s interior was

Out of place, too promisingly upbeat

For the sad wet yellow landscape

Kissing the falling rain.


Waylon Jennings felt right as his

Voice wondered why his Amanda’s

Fate had not made her a gentleman’s

Wife and across from me was the

Enduring light of my life.


Adventures continue as the years

Pass us by. Ever the sailor when

I hoist the sails, ever the traveler

When I fill the tank, ever the lover,

Ever the understanding friend.


Nothing means something when

Done with intent. Something means

Nothing when just a game. Quiet

Road miles with a hum of content,

A familiar calling distant drum.


Wipers swaying in measured time.

A symphony of memories at seventy

Miles per, some sweet, some lamentably

Tragic. On the road is a Jack and Willie

Theme. For us, a certain magic.


Home is no destination when we are

Together. If you are near, I need no

Other comforts. Nothing to count on

But each other. There we were. Two

lives driving gloriously along.


I don’t speak


I don’t speak for other men and

I don’t speak for women or children

who speak for themselves.


I don’t speak for people whose time,

place, and space is not of my own birth

or whose journey is not my own.


I can only say what I see first-hand,

the pain I feel, the pleasure I derive,

the words wedded to my soul.


I know my brownness. I know the words

Of two languages the universe gave me to

Converse with its immensity.


I read the poets who created schools and

acolytes. I am never one to join but instead

see it best to stand as one, alone.


What is the perspective of a lone hawk worth?

A hawk whose flight is not shared by others

and always on the hungry hunt?


I do not look inside the avian mind. I marvel

at his wingspan, his prowess on the dive, his

singular focus on the helpless prey.


I do not walk in another’s moccasins as my

Native friends recommend. In her shoes it

is still my own egotistical game.


I watch. I listen. I pretend to know what I

know. I feel what I feel. I ask questions and

I answer if I am ever asked.


I write with a million images racing through

my crowded mind. I put together puzzles of

possibilities throughout the day.


I circle the number of times I write I and I

cross out the number of times I try to say

what other may think.


I assume nothing. I presume even less. I

am a sought-after companion because I

drink with gusto but I don’t speak.


Let them speak of the Great Pelé


Let them speak until the end of days

of the glistening child from the streets

of Tre͂s Coraço͂es


Let them speak, as Homer wrote of Hector

and Achilles, of the wonderous circles

of athleticism of the Great Pelé.


Let them speak of his wonderous deeds

on the World Cup pitch, of his magical

break aways and bicycle kicks.


Let them speak of the beautiful game

With its finesse and urgent attacks,

resulting in wondrous destiny.


Let them speak of his thousands of

goals as one declaims the beauty

of distant and dreamy stars.


Let them speak of the awe felt by

those who saw him at his best

like Ali in younger days.


Let those who must only hear of

his feats as past acts know once

played a giant named Pelé.


Rain on New Year’s Eve


The gray-dropping rain created a river near the

Intersection at 4th and Main


The warning she posted on the internet board was

The only one I had seen


Rain like this had not fallen in years and now the

New Year was flooding in


Umbrellas are useless right now as the wind turns

Them inside out so fast


We will walk home but thank you for the ride. Hard

To believe that this will last.


Off they went the sisters not dressed for the deluge,

But sweetly happy just the same


Huddled near the gas fireplace we stay quiet and

Listen to the old year washing away.




Old Road, Wooden Bridge


Old road I should never have walked

away from thee.


Only God knows what the bridge there

has seen me endure.


A road of memories, a road like a

friend who once saw me cry.


You aging witness, you wooden

bridge, you undying memory.


My name like many others is etched

upon your planks and trusses.


Oh, bridge how soured had I

become ‘neath your sad

umbrella skies.


Son, don’t allow yourself to sour,

my mother exclaimed.


Remember a poor child can grow

to be a rich man.


But my mother was wrong. I

never grew rich or renowned.


Old road I should never have

walked away from thee.


Oh, wooden bridge I shall

never forget thee.


Armando Contreras Herrera

Translated and reimagined by Jose H. Varela-Contreras


Mama Don’t Let Them…


Mama don’t let your babies eat

Cheetos. Don’t let them eat Lay’s

Or Fritos or hot spiced Doritos.


Make them eat brussels sprouts

and okra and those funny vegetables

whose foreign names I can’t decipher.


Mama don’t let you babies eat Pop

Tarts or Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch

Or the ones with the leprechaun.


Make them eat oatmeal plain, with a little

fruit and just a tad bit of honey. Limit

sugar and save yourself a lot of money.


Mama don’t let your babies pass on

the fiber. Multi-grain or hard potato

skins. Don’t listen to the whining griper.


Make them drink lots of good clean filtered

water, the kind from the tap and not fancy

plastic bottle kind. Be kind to mother earth.


Mama buy lots of ear plugs and gentle tea

‘cause if you try to feed them right, they will

Scream bloody murder as you keep ‘em alive.


Closing days


Dire warnings heard from the

Cape to the Tierra to the glaciers at

Both ends are unsurprising to species

Living nature’s closing days.


First came the fruitful and the multiple.

Then came the dawning of the goodbye.

Noah’s cargo now drowning in the rising

Tide of homo sapiens’ wasted time.


2022 lost Bramble Cay Melomys,

Yangtze River Dolphins, Spix’s Macaws,

Western Black Rhinos and Ivory Billed

Woodpeckers.


These “no longers” were lost to us as

orphans were lost to horrific parents who

haunt the nightmares of those they

birthed and left behind.


The rhythm of second hands and raindrops


Wind rushed funnels formed, noisy and strong,

like semitrucks making a run on interstate ten

from Phoenix to Florida on the parameter of

our home


Huddling, we hope that like bullies we ignore

that the howling would just move on. But they

lingers on like memories of misadventures of

the Bukowski and Lenny Bruce kind.


Banging on the siding, knocking to come in as

I sought entry on those dark nights where the

moon begged me to howl, and I could not

disappoint my luminous orbital pal.


The noise and wind portend the clean-up that

lovers know so well, holding on until the power

of the alcohol has dispersed to whimpering coos

of never more, never more again.


Storm years have passed and now the passionate

howls have subsided to tide pool whirls clear and

full of life in a daylight where ocean cleansed air

counts time in seconds and raindrops.


These Eyes


These eyes appear, spotlight harsh, in a

Dream scape that passes for a lullaby.


Turning away cannot diminish the silver

white intensity, a dull knife slicing a cloud.


Rising river waters drive the timid to seek

cover from the storm and these fiery eyes.


I heard the term often, “the eye of the

storm.” I thought it more a metaphor.


More than a figure of speech, these

eyes are demonic and angelic at once.


Soon the wind-filled thunder will give

voice to these erupting, flowing eyes.


Oh, Zeus. Oh, unseen forces of mystic

gods. Oh, mischievous dancing sprites.


Is it you behind these eyes? Is it your

power undisguised? Or simply life?


Like a lover in repose, when your lids

lower your torrid passion gently wanes.


The calm settles its misty coverlet upon

the land. Our eyes having seen enough.


Lunch at a museum with uninvited memories


We met undisguised and unprepared to see

each other in the crowded rainy-day museum

cafeteria lounge.


The usual workplace chatter started as if

we had not each left on separate days for

separate reasons.


A planned outing with an Egyptian king,

the greatest of them all according to his

own acclaim.


As we learned of his exploits in the Battle

of Kadesh, Ramses the Great looked like

all the rest.


Ramses claiming victory and the other side

calling it at best a draw. Which is exactly

the politics of today.


My workmate and I discussed little of the

exhibit, spoke of the place we once worked

and the characters there.


History is as history does, bravado and bluff,

dreams of which stuff, cause the plebians to

realize it is never enough.


Leaving the burial plots of yesterday’s dust,

memories of wealth and plunder and uninvited

work talk, I begged for silence.


Neither you nor I


Winter’s white gown lay across the meadow,

floating as if a swan in flight.


Your voice soft and angelic gently whispered

out a story of darkness and light.


Crisp clarity, running streams of truth, comes

as the Sun shines directly on us.


Walking hand-in-hand like sister and brother

sharing wilted emotions with trust.


Neither you nor I wanted any more than

what we shared, a loving friendship.


Fallen trees


I remember as a boy watching my father fall

without concern for gravity, his body in the

throes of a heart attack, his graying face,

gasping to stay alive.


Phones had rotary dials then and I reflexively

went to zero and circled the dial until the

number took hold and an operator came

calmly on the line.

Operator she said. What is your emergency?

My father has had a heart attack I said. Are

you sure? Yes, I was with him when his

doctor told him this could happen.


Stay on the line with me. How old are you?

I am eight. What is your address? I told her

without skipping a beat. Stay with me until

the ambulance arrives, okay?


A few minutes later I heard the sirens as if

at distance that kept getting shorter as the

sound got louder. I opened the door and

let them in. I saw his eyes.


I have told people when I think the big trees

in their yards are likely to fall in a storm. How

do you know they ask? When you see someone

fall, you get a knack for it.


A Sin Worth the Trouble


Eden, like a Quixote dream, existed.

But the apple orchard where Eve picked

The apple has dried up.


Even the evil serpent cannot coax

Interest from the Garden’s only

Free and safe residents.


Bliss without the trouble of knowing

Makes the ignominy of ignorance

Not a huge worry.


Wisdom is work and experience.

Who wants the work and who

Needs troubling experience.


Paradise is not knowing. At

Least that is what the God of

Adam was selling.


Once the apple is picked the

Price of knowledge is the work

It takes to know.


Paradise is devoid of conflict.

All is provided in ignorance.

Knowledge is a fight.


Of the tree of knowledge and

Good and Evil you shall not eat

Or you will die.


With this wisdom, humanity

Must struggle between good

And evil to survive.


No paradise when you must

Struggle for knowledge but

Worth the sin.


Passage


Humid air like spittle that remains on

your face, distracting, even disturbing.

Just when you think you brushed it

away it is still there.


Dallas wetness in the August of yet

another adventure gone the way of

disappointment. What started with

enthusiasm now expired.


You tried to explain why you had gone

to Wake Forest and why I should stay

but I told you I had to go, nothing for

me here in Lone Star state.


There we were smoking liquor store

cigars and drinking what passed for

beer in those days watching the flames

coming from the barrel.


The Greyhound bus trip back to the

faces that would laugh I told you so

retorts did not give me the space to

take all the books and stories.


Into the pyre of memory, we tossed

books, reminiscent of characters in

Don Quixote ridding La Mancha of

chivalrous maddening tales.

Each tome received its eulogy. Each

piece of wisdom now stored in my

soul, belonging to a time of discovery

when all was gloriously new.


Short stories joined unfinished poems

in a cleansing ritual started as necessity

but now evolving into passage, a fare

thee to time and memory.


I was baptized in that bonfire, freed of

a dream no longer valid, allowed to feel

rock bottom, sanctified with the ash of

the possible, the inevitable.


Waving to my friend as the bus departed,

I noticed one who wished I was not going.

Beatrice, acknowledging a wayward lad

now stronger for the experience.


Coming off the field


When it is time to go, if one is lucky,

One is allowed to depart with little

Fanfare and even less delight.


Celebration is often hiding a boot

Kicking one further to the waiting

Door toward an unknown light.


At the field’s edge wait the ones

for whom all was done. Beyond

them are the thoughts.


Thoughts of regret, of mistakes

Often overtake and wrestle away

the moments of success.


Come off the field my friend. Take

the last bow. Leave the others to

scramble in the fight.


Thoughts will turn into a gentle

forgiveness and a who gives a

damn for everyone else.


Becoming an elder is not for

everyone, but its softened

joys are golden bliss.


Lunch with Dostoyevsky, Kerouac, and Parker


Creating a luncheon circle of people who

darken the mood, runaway from the mood,

or lighten the mood, I would pick these

three to share a lunch, a drink, and a kibitz

with.


The questions that need be asked of the

moral quandaries into which we are bred

demand a seriousness of purpose and a

focus on the universal and not just the

crippling mundane, so said Fyodor.


The repetitiveness of working life with no

break for creativity but just work, work,

Work, work kills the soul. The picket fenced

house be damned. Life needs open air to be

fully realized, so said Jack.


If little men have big thoughts, should not

the role of women be to remind them of

their natural role: to mix a good martini and

be a straight man for the women who can

see through it all, so concluded Dorothy.


Expecting change


I expect to change today.


I expect the flowers to bloom in spurts.

I expect the day to revolve around the sun.

I expect the birds and squirrels to make their rounds.

I expect that those in power will screw up today.

I expect that someone will make something right.

I expect that mothers will love without limit or regrets.

I expect that fathers will work to keep the devils out.

I expect that the winds will clear the air for everyone.

I expect that some will have enough food.

I expect that some will feel hunger and drought.

I expect that people will be trampled on.

I expect that some will liberate others.

I expect that some will imprison others.

I expect the worst from the human race.

I expect the best from the human race.

I expect that the ying will find the yang.

I expect that the yang will find the ying.

I expect surprise.

I expect disappointment.

I expect the weight of victory.

I expect the weight of loss.

I expect that day will lead to night.

I expect that night will birth the day.

I expect as the day evolves and blends,


I will have changed.


Opening


I can see the celestial opening upon

the blackness of space. Not a

black hole but a cave calling to be

courageously explored.


I plan to spelunk in the crevices of

mind, with its meadows of memories

and its verdant future dreams and its

telltale unknown schemes.


I will hum with the leaves of green as the

forceful loud wind tosses us around like

a storm in a desolate sea whose waves

will bring us to shore.


I will hear the gentle music of Debussy

as the images of unresolved things ask

for forgiveness and lead me to seek

absolution for my sins.


I will be at one with a body, aging and

real, whose cells, vessels, organs, sinew,

muscles, nerves, and brain all work in

perfect harmony for me.


I can see the opening where the masks

are discarded, brittle from the creases

carved by pain, freedom is calling

and I am walking in.


Neruda’s words


First you thrust the yellowing book

into my adolescent hands, exhorting

me to read every word and to then

take a cleansing breath, think on

each phrase, and then read it

again.


You mentioned that your father

died young from an enlarged

heart and he died before

teaching you how to

love.


[A] kiss which falls from our

invincible heights to show

The fire and the tenderness

of true love.


Do you see? Love is fire

and tenderness. It is

all consuming. It is all

the freedom you could

ever want.


Mistakenly, I thought love

a job application where

you interviewed the best

candidates and accepted

only the finest and most

complete resumes.


What a fool I was! Fire.

True love is a roaring

inferno or a kindling

created hearth of

sustained power, but

it is fire.


I feared the fire because

of my blind belief in

loyalty over desire. A

lover cannot always be

loyal. True love often

spoils.



True love lasts as long as

one stokes the embers of

affection with the adventure

of art, music, erotic moments

focused on two lovers who must

embrace to one.


Give your heart my dear friend,

as I did not, to the whirlwind

roller coaster ride of kissing and

touch where tenderness meets

with the bodily explosions that

rival the stars.


Yes, read Neruda. And love.


Horror in Half Moon Bay: Mushroom Murders 2023


Giant waves buffet against a half moon bay,

Nestling in its breast a city of picturesque

American quiet and quaint beauty.


The lounging lizard moon with its cradling sliver

Of bright light outlining the darkened expanse

Shadowing its full allure.


Time stands still as if absorbing an California

Fault earthquake. Such stillness gives space

To the terrible news.


Another killing weapon let loose on the streets

Of American handled by a one with murder on

His unhinged mind.


Thirty-seven mass shooting in less than a span

Of a month. Death tires of its rapid return. The

Living inured to its inevitable fate.


Farmers and workers and trays of mushrooms

Shot and shattered and thrown about because

An anger run wild had access to a gun.


Blessed be the innocent. Blessed be their souls.

Blessed be the families who must mourn. Blessed

Be all who must endure.


Her Heart


Thrown tantrums, tornadoes of explosive nouns and verbs and choice adjectives, like those implosions of old building that crumble into themselves, were signs of the collapse, rendered in the weakened state where even contemplating getting water from the sink was too much to bear.


Rationalists of every stripe, distinction earned through the passage of algebra and other technical math, pontificate how a syllogism could determine, assess, and resolve the problem but she said what she had could not be solved like that because everything is fluid, running water.


Fluid is hard to pin down. The target keeps moving just as the scope’s lens has zeroed in. Fluid: a state of nature concept. The act of staying alive, living in a contextual world with its rationalized truth. Fluid: a façade of reason giving the conclusion its credibility of conjured bona fides.


No need to ask questions. They only beg the architecture of solution. What is needed is the feeling of the heart. Pascal’s edict: the heart has its reasons which reason cannot understand was the motto of her life. Understanding was beside the point. The point was connection, empathy.


Knowing her as I did, a knowing not of accuracy but of “in the general ballpark” estimation, was all I needed. The reasons behind it all mattered little. The connection sought was not love, debutante assessments irrelevant here, but the nearness of touch, the intimacy of heart.


No need to know me. Just care for me. Listen. No need to fix anything here. I am the blooming flower abundant in the gardens of Cuernavaca where Charles Mingus’ bass could be heard playing against the

afternoon breezes and the cleansing sun. Where I live and playfully roam free.


And then I saw his face


A tobacco ceremony, snuff made just for the

infusing experience, meant to clear the cob

webs before the spiders could start to

crawl anew without the past to hinder

the new spindle string

net.


A pipe specially made for the enchantress to

inhale a special permission to begin the road

toward heaven or perdition and then the puff

of blessing to set me on the way, and just

like that his face emerged

alive.


The father long dead these many years much

like Marley and resurrected casually as one does

somersaults on the front lawn, just for the fun

of it and because you can and because

you hope to find salvation

yet.


The face wavy like haze that shimmers at day’s

end just as the sunset is brewing to dip into the

dark emerging night’s black hole pool, a flag of

a face with breeze that kept a beat, brushes on

a snare drum playing a jazz

riff.


The words of apology, confessional in tone but

sincere, seeking absolution for all that had come

before like Johnny Cash’s mellowness as he got

old. Young men who die before they are old

never have a chance to

atone.


For the moments he stayed with me in my burning

nostril tobacco induced repose, gentle murmurs

of affection took ahold but he was still the man

I would never know, a stranger in the home,

one who came and went as he

pleased.


Train whistle: a poem for Robert Harper


In the little town where I grew up old

men and respectful young men, some

considered slow but sweet in their

answering the duty call, waited for

the train whistle to blow as it

crossed the curves and winds

along Snake Road.


Everyday they came with coffee cups

and dreams, helping people with their

bags and elderly folk without a skip in

their step to traverse the tracks from

the train’s open door to the

station that beckoned them

to a destination found.


They also said good morning and talked

of the town’s goings on, recommending

breakfast places for those hungry from

the ride. And they would look into the

eyes of those whose travels would take

them along the Central Valley or to the

route covered by the Starlight.


Some to Union Station in Los Angeles

to catch the Sunset Limited to the

Big Easy or Southern states or their

transfer to the Southwest Chief to

Chi town touching Albuquerque and

Maybe jumping on the Lake Shore

Limited to NYC.


Planes do not have romantic names

for their lines and that is why Robert

said he liked the train. People are not

just getting transportation. They are

seeing the world slowly. The way one

drinks good wine. Nothing like feeling

time and the over there.


Over there is a place that is not here.

A patch of ground, a blade of grass,

the placid waters of a lake, the rushing

waves along a shore, red rock cathedrals,

rows of Nebraska corn, desert saguaro

cactus, redwood trees, cascading

mountain streams.


Over there is adventure. Over there

is home. Over there is memory. Over

there is leaving things behind. Over

there is the smell of home cooking.

Over there is a tear of travail. Over

there is spicy gumbo. Over there is

what here is not.


Steve Cropper’s steady beat


A riff, three chords, along the dotted

fretboard, crash into the open air,

rhythmic waves onto sonic

shores.


A Telecaster twangy lead reminiscent

of blues cats stretching the string just

enough to start and stop the talk and

not say too much.


Excess makes grotesque art. Steady

beat in time is the Mona Lisa smile,

there to comfort, there to admire

the sublime.


Time is Tight. Green Onions. No

words, just the ta da, ta da, da

da, te da, te da, te da, da da

da da of simple but indelible

jams and struts.


Muddy shoes of simplicity


I am a simple man.

I use simple words.

My words are not

for everyone. Heard

by those of my kind.


I have heard erudite words.

I clumsily use them in speech,

but now my ears seek the

calming sound of gentle,

simple, joyful, loving folk.


The call of friends

direct and filled with

pain, sorrow with an

eye to hope, seeking

the sun evermore.


The instruction of an

uncomplicated God

buttress my prayers,

Let us do good in a

union with the meek.

Lost souls screaming,

crying for a hint, a

touch of heaven,

unmistaken voices

clear as washed glass.


The words on the trail

stick to me, a soiled

kiss you once gave me,

tears create the muddy

shoes to forge ahead in

a life of sought simplicity.


Raised ears.


Snap, snap, snap, the whip cracking

flare of the shoeshine boy on the

steps of the barbershop.


Sheer, sheer, sheer, the scissors

clipping the loose ends of the

little boy’s regular trim.


Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle, the folded

newspaper the barber used to

wipe the straight razor foam.


Puff, puff, puff, the talcum powder

brush clearing out the little left

over ear and neck hair.


Scent, scent, scent, the cologne

splashed on the razored, tapered

hairline fading nape.


Snap, snap, snap, the matador

style twirl of the cape as the

customer leaves the chair.


Razz, razz, razz, the taunts by

the other boys asking if you

had your ears raised.


Are you happy?


The wonderment at another’s

Happiness is simply my fragile

Attempt at hoping I can see

Into a cracked mirror whose

Image contains a bit of me.

At once the mirror speaks and

Asks me what I see. A retort,

More like a chemical reaction

Response, bubbles up and I say

Without hesitation: not so much.


And there was the answer,

Plain as the sun in the sky,

What does it take to be

Happy? Fulfilled and excited

To be alive? Not so much.


Heraclitus to Camus to Hunter to Jack


What if everything is simply coincidence?

What if everything we think is ordered

in a certain way is the coincidental

application of situational determination

which could result in a different outcome

if a momentary variable changes?


If so, should we not teach our children

the art of navigating variables as a way

of avoiding negative outcomes?


Our teachings, that certain firm principles

apply, allow for a lazy religiosity that

places faith above human ingenuity

and the application of self-determined

will and intent, which are the basis of law

and the goal of individuation.


Basic education that indoctrinates to

submission fails to teach the independence

necessary for an individual to conform

to norms through self-determination.


Camus was right. The world is absurd and

constantly changing, navigating it with an

ethical compass and a responsible

acceptance of self-determination is the

only way to live a real and authentic life.


This is how he spoke when in the lustful

reverie of his thought. Closed eyed as

if listening to a distance train whistle

leading to a destination he had yet to

find but whose outline beckoned in

Hunter Thompson and Kerouac

prose, less fear and loathing and

more Big Sur.


Humming along


There was a time when I was five or six-

years old when I did not think people

could hear me hum.


Standing in a post office line with my

mom or running, pushing a found old

tire, I created a life of hum.


Once the hum started in my brain I

was transported to a world whose

borders were my mind.


In my body, with my mind, I could

hide life’s noises and yelling with

a buzzing vibration of hum.


I was breathing in my hum, a

scuba tank of modulated sound,

floating solitarily around.


Is this what the womb is like? Is

the hum a continued memory of

forming and being?


Simply bouncing and vibration

and the muted conversation of

a world beyond.


When the clerk said, “it is nice

to hear you humming while you

patiently stand in line,”


The noise, traffic, and people’s

voices shattered the aura of

of a child’s safe space.


Now I sit in silent reverie. Seeking

solace in a world filled with pain I

am comforted by a hum.


Coffee and dawn


Love is a garden, with its flowers and its thorns, and

as Francis Bacon noted of a garden, “it is the purest

of human pleasures.”


Having attempted affection in a planted patch of

highway tumbleweeds, made the worse because

each of us felt the same,


I made a promise that if I could walk among the

flowering plants and booming trees and canopies

of the shaded mystery


Of love, I would ask my beloved to tend to the

garden with me.


Let us wake before the sun

comes up with the dawn.


Let us take these lingering twilight moments

and groom each other with our voices and

speak of a life beyond.


Let the thoughts emerge in the dark and pick

themselves up as the first pink light lifts the

curtain on a beautiful dawn.


Let us grind the coffee beans, let’s heat the

water, let’s us smell the bloom of our wild

Let us love with coffee at dawn.


We with words


We with words carry our poems, hard

candy in sweater pockets, to share,

hoping to stop leaking time.


We with words know the free sprinkling of

thoughts, deep and dreamy, playful and

Bright, are only heard by like minds.


When we find our intention lands as

wished, we toil and forge because

the work promises more to come.


When the intention is met with resistance

we simply carry on undeterred and without

rancor, to the end dedicated.


We with words rationalize the best we can

so the lonely journey through the maze of

art does not find us eviscerated.


Burt and Hal


San Jose made sense

when compared to

a great big freeway.


It is okay to shout

Don’t make me over,

or to wonder what

is new to a pussy cat,


or to know only love

can break your heart, or

to say a little prayer

for you,


or when you

least expect it raindrops are

falling on your head,


or

sometimes people do just

walk on by, or that this

guy/girl’s in love with

you,


or that what the

world needs now is love,

sweet love,


or

what’s it all about,

Alfie?









12 views0 comments