Thursday, August 31, 2017

Poor Excuse

We're not responsible for anything:
Not horses dancing, not for eating meat
Or eating only pastries, sticky sweet
And substanceless, not how the angels sing,
What lovers whisper while imagining
A world of grand responses, not the feet
That march through winter to the hapless beat
Of twelve-bar blues, not for the wicked king.

A poor excuse for running, it may be,
But that's the boldest one we have. We run,
Avoiding consequences. What we've done
And what we hoped to do were unfairly
Conflated in your mind, so what you see
Looks bad, though we did not harm anyone.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Unexpected Lift

Experience the unexpected lift
Of kisses in the sunlight by the sea,
The moment when the right hand, coming free,
Clasps something wanted, needed. It's a gift
That destiny provides with special thrift.
Note how the eyebrow quivers, tenderly,
And how the heart is warmed, a canopy
Of stars is formed, dismay is set adrift.

My luck has been extraordinary, true:
Keeping my dreams in check, my heart on ice,
Has been a lifetime's labour. No device,
No cold machine has served; I am a stew
Of bright desires, of gold, of morning dew,
Of love's touch. I have been surprised here twice.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Wobble

I wobble and I wiggle and I spin,
Not making sense of things, not making friends,
Unable to think clearly. Not the bends,
Just ordinary dizziness: too thin,
My blood won't reach my brain. The state I'm in
Resembles deep imbalances, extends
To somewhere near the spot where all time ends.
I hear no sound, a harsh, inchoate din.

Who are these people, and what is this place?
How does this taste? When did I feel that touch?
Could I hear music? Did I have a crutch
To help me wobble past that empty space
Where I smelled garlic, thyme, sage, cloves, and mace?
I've made my piece with knowing not so much.

Monday, July 10, 2017


You're looking for somebody to despise,
A mean bastard, a fallen misanthrope
Too filthy to be introduced to soap,
Impassive enemy of lullabies,
Loving the sound of desperate children's cries,
Resisting kindness and detesting hope.
Your sister's husband was strung out on dope,
But he loves animals, and has nice eyes.

Don't look at me. As sweet as candy floss,
I'm known for friendliness and tranquil smiles.
My mother came here from the Faerie Isles,
Meeting my father as she came across
The Ocean of Interminable Loss,
And still the sound of falling stars beguiles.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

At Sea

We won't eat waffles, pancakes, or French toast,
We won't drink coffee, tea, or orange juice,
We won't read bedtime verse by Dr. Seuss,
We won't acknowledge Uncle Reggie's ghost,
We won't bring harlots to the weenie roast,
We won't make gravy for the Christmas goose,
We won't complain our shoelaces are loose,
And we'll be satisfied by that. Almost.

We will expect our friends to understand
That things will break down unexpectedly,
And while I'm copying Gray's Elegy
(But duller, grimmer, and extremely bland)
We'll claim our wariness has us unmanned,
And everything we want is here, at sea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


He heard me growling, and he told me, "Stop!"
He said, "We do this slyly, silently,
We make our souls true, and our bodies free."
I made a guttural, loud "Hmm! Pork chop,"
And thought I very nearly saw the top
Come off his head. It was lovely to see
What I had dreamed: a monkey in a tree,
An envelope of mist, a sudden pop.

I've done each goddam vocal exercise
Until I'm sick and tired of every sound
A human mouth can make. I'll turn around
And look that snake director in the eyes
Hoping the omen in the entrails lies.
It said we're rabbit meat — I am the hound.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Dream

Remember when you chewed the rabbi's shoes?
Did you believe they'd be a lovely treat,
Or did you only think the rabbi's feet
Were too nice to be smelly? Were the clues
You raved about the clear result of booze,
As they appeared to be, or was the street
As badly paved as that? Were you discreet,
Or did you come with highway-paving crews?

Or were you merely thinking, "I'm a dog!
So what if my food choices are extreme,
Where everything is food, not just ice cream
And beef scraps, bits of Allegheny hog
And chicken hearts? I'm living in a fog;
I'll do what beagles do, I'll live the dream!"

Friday, May 05, 2017

CT Kidney Scan

They take the metal from you, pants and clips,
And anything they think might interfere,
Then water — drink a litre, free and clear —
While IV needles threaten; come to grips
With the indignities, the bandage strips
Across the failed attempts, the gown, the gear,
The forced jokes and the overdone sad cheer,
The hour spent in the corridor. Time slips.

You're laid down on a table, hard and cold,
Now on your stomach, and now on your butt,
A pre-recorded voice (the doors are shut,
You are alone) commands. Do as you're told:
Turn over, roll back. (Never become old.)
Wait through this, and soon they'll inform you — what?

Sunday, April 23, 2017


An independent survey done in May
Suggests no fear of snow in Cleveland Heights,
Discussions held about animal rights
Revealed no worries under Hudson's Bay,
And when you spoke to me, just yesterday,
About the feelings of the Northern Lights
And why some anteaters get into fights,
I was more unconcerned than words can say.

I love Bach's fugues, fresh hot blueberry tarts,
The witty, dark delights of Robert Frost,
How everything looks when my eyes are crossed,
My darling's passion for the plastic arts,
And moonlight shining when the dancing starts.
I guess I ought to have some cards embossed.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Dirk of the Mind

I've lately been given to understand
That Shakespeare wrote less of his well known plays
Than we had thought; that slashing, jocund band
Of Marlowe-ites saw through that Avon haze
To truths, so obvious to them alone:
Poor William, that uneducated wheeze!
They worked their brains and fingers to the bone
To prove it, and some scholar now agrees.
Did they check Fletcher's, Greene's, and Marlowe's work
For how much our Sweet William might have done?
Who uses "dagger" oftener than "dirk"?
Who thinks pastiche and mimicry are fun?
I don't believe I know the answers here,
But 1616 was a lousy year.