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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Sensing a break, the enchantress’
Story now bared, wishing that
She could see in me her wish.
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, 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
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
Sit on a shore reminiscent of a home
Left and lost long ago,
Where are we now?
Here we, mother and child, see the
See the seeds of memories yet to be
Lived, made or forgotten,
Where are they now?
Here we, lover and beloved, share our
Share the bare truth of who we were
And why we were,
Who are we now?
Angel lip kisses on the brow
Of a sleeping child only a few
Dew drops, individual and stout,
On branches, on pine needles of
Furrowed rows of lush soil disked
To lie fallow smelling of minerals
Crashing waves of seaweed odorous
Roller coaster splashes reaching for
Somersaulting ideas tumbling forth
Onto a tabula rasa of evolving acts
Fingertip sonatas played in silence
As street sounds orchestrate a
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
Days and times
Love at first sight
Days and times
Days and times
Dividers voted out
Days and times
Democracy voted in
Days and times
More of the same
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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
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 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
The usual workplace chatter started as if
we had not each left on separate days for
A planned outing with an Egyptian king,
the greatest of them all according to his
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I can see the celestial opening upon
the blackness of space. Not a
black hole but a cave calling to be
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.
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
You mentioned that your father
died young from an enlarged
heart and he died before
teaching you how to
[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
Mistakenly, I thought love
a job application where
you interviewed the best
candidates and accepted
only the finest and most
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
buttress my prayers,
Let us do good in a
union with the meek.
Lost souls screaming,
crying for a hint, a
touch of heaven,
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.
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.
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 wo