Friday, May 27, 2016

CSI: Golgotha

Fully human
and fully divine:

the hallmark of humanity
is sinful
and yet
you had none.

I wonder
how you managed
to steer clear
of everything
but the bull’s eye.

I reconstruct
your ignoble demise
like a forensic scientist
searching for something
to connect me
over the centuries
to you,

something that would
your humanity.

As you hung there
and they mocked you,
you petitioned the father
for a pardon
on their behalf.

I keep rooting around
for even the slightest whiff
of rotten humanity
and I still
come up empty.

I know you were sinless.
I know you were perfect.
I’m a believer.

I just want to know
how you did it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Gray Orgasm

chest still heaving for air,
our blood-rushed skin
warm and damp,
the natural, eternal
narcotic coursing through
our bodies,
her gentle snore
what I usually only sense,

a thought niggles
just as I drift into
blissful unconsciousness,
too late to shoo away:

what if that was
the last time?

[Composed for Fireblossom's Fridays at the Real Toads' Lilypad .]

A Fireman in Hell

“Didn’t you
used to write poetry?

I mean,
it wasn’t very good
but still you cranked them out
like pretentious sausages.

What happened?

Now, you look like
a confused fog,
trying to keep smoldering
embers from sparking
into wildfires.

Your sleep isn’t restful.
Your worship isn’t comforting.
Your sunshine is gray.

You’re too old
to flail about
with your
angry feathers blazing
trying to rouse the world
from its sleep.

Now you’re just
a sputtering
in his own
flop sweat.”

Yeah, I used to write poetry.

I’m a fireman
assigned to
the hottest borough
of Hell

and when
I’m off the clock
I pace in
counterclockwise circles
around my kitchen table
in a vain attempt
to turn back time.

I pace
inside my house,
with lights out
and shades down,
because it would
scare the community
to see their fireman
in the street.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

...Or Was He Pushed?

came the command,
calm and firm
to an unseen pilot.

Then the voice asked
“so, what else?”

Crouching by the hatch,
I looked out
the window
and saw the world I knew
get smaller and smaller
as the plane
kept at its creaky ascent.

I pondered his question
as he quickly slid
the hatch open
and I lost my balance,
instinctively grabbing
the door frame.

The strength of the vacuum
threatened to take me
but I regained footing
and looked out to see
from a fresh perspective.

I barely spoke
but he heard it:
“I just don’t want
to look stupid.”

“You won’t look stupid.”

I almost jumped
but caught myself
for one last assurance:

“You wouldn’t trick me,
would you?”

This surprised him
and he smiled:

“No, I wouldn’t trick you.”

Turning to the hatch
I decided to loosen my grip
on the door frame

then the plane lurched.

I quietly decided
to stop fighting it

and I was free

falling and
heart pounding alive.

I resisted the temptation
to pull the rip cord
to release the parachute.

I just surrendered everything
and enjoyed
the view.

My thankfulness
overcame me

and I was overjoyed
to realize
I stopped falling

and started flying

and by the grace of Christ
I haven’t landed yet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Skid Marks on the Highway

My compulsion
as I drive on the highway
is watching
the black skid marks
on the road ahead of me.

I fight the absent-minded
to follow their aberrant

my eyes follow
their smooth arcs
and abrupt sooty ends,
and I wonder
what was the driver thinking
just before

Some trail
off the road
in tight,
unpredictable curves,
while others
fade gracefully
a narrow escape,

and others still
into the cement
guard rails.

Scared back
into the moment
I intentionally
loosen my grip,

as I keep my eyes
fixed straight ahead

all the wrong moves
I have been
fortunate thus far
not to make.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pray Strategically

I ask that you take away
my daughter’s pain,
but I realize
if you do that
then the doctors, nurses,
insurance adjusters and
pharmacists might be
negatively affected
so I won’t ask for that.

please help my mother
in her elderly loneliness,
even though
if she were healed
then she wouldn’t buy
so many unnecessary things
from the Home Shopping channel
and perhaps that would make
all the vendors, shippers,
and Federal express workers
unnecessary too,
so I won’t ask for that.

I ask that you find homes
for all these homeless,
help them find their
place in this world,
but if I do,
it might displace
the social services industry
and throw their lives into
so I won’t ask for that.

would you help
the little children born
with AIDS and cancer
and give them a future
even though
it could completely
upend the charities
designed to help them
and create more
unintended consequences?

Can I ask for that?
Can I ask for anything?

can you teach me
how to pray strategically,
so that my requests
are big enough
to make a difference,
yet are small enough
to keep the unintended
collateral damage
to a minimum?

Until then
I will pray
as I always have,

with thankful

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reaching For the Pull

I approach the door
my footsteps
heavy and slow.

I am deliberately
making this choice,
and I accept
whatever consequences
await me.

Things will never
be the same
when I cross
that threshold,
but I must do this.

Nothing’s going
to bring back
my father,
and I’ve been in pain
so long,
I’ve gone numb.

Whatever I find
in the coming steps
will determine
my path
from here
into eternity.

for the pull,
a fleeting thought

Am I arriving
or am I leaving?

[Written for Dverse Poets - write about a door; photo used by permission by Lillian Hallberg.]

Thursday, May 05, 2016

How I Became a Human Being

I cry easily now
and I wonder
“when did this start?”

When did I become
a human being?

As a boy
I was taught to feel
I had to learn
to make I on my own.

I didn’t expect anyone
to help me.

I had to believe
I was the master
of my own fate,

a god unto myself.

This was a necessary delusion
because without it
I would’ve froze
and been someone’s
punching bag forever,

but now I’ve grown up
and I see how small
my domain really is
in my kingdom,
people still die
hearts are still broken,
women and children still go hungry,
and trying to stop
all the death and sadness
was like trying to hold back
a flood with a broom.

So I figure
I’ve just had
some lucky breaks

and undeserved grace

when I stopped trying
to be a god
I became a human being

and I haven’t stopped crying since.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Utility of Secrets

The secret
sits like
a land mine,
waiting for
accidental discovery.

It may never be
but that gives me
no comfort.

the secret will go
all the way
to my grave,
as, happily,
all the witnesses
will have met
with tragic accidents.

The secret
reminds me
that when I look
in the mirror,
I do not see
a free man,
but rather
an indentured servant
forever paying
interest only
on a debt
only blood can satisfy.

Most days
I forget the secret
is there,
but when things
are running smoothly (too smoothly),
and my heart is light (too light),
and the sun is shining (too bright),

I tempt fate, pondering
what could
go wrong?

The secret ensures
that I am never
too happy
and never too secure.

It keeps me

and if you knew
my secrets,
you’d know why
I need the lessons
of humility.

[Written for Poets United - come out and play.]

Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow (for Grandma Irene)

I heard that song today
and I pictured you
in your floral print muu-muu
in your overstuffed chair
in that stuffy duplex
in San Fernando Valley.

Has your limp healed yet?
Are you finally at peace
and not worried
about your wayward children?

I can still hear your voice,
comforting and cautious
"Chicken today, feathers tomorrow."

Your gently acrid humor
would sure come in handy now.

There was so much
I could've learned from you,
but you died too early
and I became a parent too late

I hope they're playing
Englebert Humperdinck
in Heaven for you.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Immerse Yourself

Don’t catch the butterfly
but listen to it sing.

Don’t take her photograph
but kiss her into delirium.

Play the piano
until you’ve coaxed out
your tenderness
but don’t try to record it.

Take your notebook
and be a servant
to your pen
and never show it
to anyone.

Sigh deeply as you
savor the taste
of coconut milk and curry.

Immerse yourself
in the pulsing, demanding
force of life
but don’t try to capture
any of it.

Life keeps flowing
like a waterfall
smoothing the stones
as waves crash below
with a pure abandon
no artist can exploit.

Marvel at
its incomprehensible pattern
its mystery

because someday
it will all stop.

Everything ends sometime
and when it does
surrender those joys
and embrace
the next mystery.

[Posted for The Tuesday Platform at Real Toads ]

Monday, May 02, 2016

This Perfect Moment (for Anita)

Skip the laundry,
dump the chores.

Come to me!
These open arms
long for you,
ache for you!

This perfect moment
doesn’t come everyday.

So let’s dance,
in this kitchen.
Close your eyes
it’s a ballroom.

It’s not everyday
the radio plays
the Del-Fonics.

[Written for D'Verse poem quadrille challenge ]

Saturday, April 30, 2016

We Never Said Goodbye

It’s not goodbye.

Growing up,
we never said

My parents
always said
“be careful.”

They also
never said
"I love you."

It used to
bother me,
until I realized
“be careful”

“I love you and
I don’t want anything
bad to happen
to you,
so be safe and
come back and
see me again,
sit with me,
talk with me,
laugh with me.
Just come back
because I love you.”

I’m not good
at goodbyes.

Be careful.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Perpetually Friday

Downtown Riverside, California, April 29, 2016, 12:45 PST

This is
just like
I dreamed
how being
an adult
would be:

there would be
bright sunlight,
a cool breeze,
I’d have
a nice job in
a clean city,
and it would be
perpetually Friday,
a weekend getaway
with my beloved bride.

Just like
this photograph.

why am I stuck

the unintended

found in the
middle third
of this scene?

[For Real Toads Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads ]

Thursday, April 28, 2016


but Hollywood-fed,
loves to create.

His defiant, contrary
iconoclasm remains
his preemptive
defense against rejection.

His modesty prevents him
from self-identification
as an artist;
his ego deludes him
into foisting his therapy
onto an unsuspecting world
and calling it art.

He is a married,

[Written in response to Kelli Simpson's prompt at Words Count with Mama Zen at Real Toads. ]

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Opening

The opening,
the blooming of the rose,
still does not explain
its beauty,
its mystery.

The opening
of the window,
still does not ensure
birds singing
or even fresh air.

The opening
of one’s self in word
still may not help
this lonesome

The opening
of myself to you
still does not explain
who I am;
thus, my pseudonym.

[Written in response to the Poets United prompt .]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

There Is No Purple in This Poem

There is no purple in this poem,
nor mentions of paisley,
no crying doves.

It wasn't his
fashion sense,
his androgyny,
his apocalyptic
religious beliefs.

No, what soul'd me
on Prince
was the liner credit
on the "Controversy" album
(the first Prince I ever heard):

"Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed
by Prince."

A true auteur,
who could seemingly
do it all
like Charlie Chaplin,
like Stevie Wonder,
like God.

As time went on
the music got
and he became
branched out
into formless movies,
pastel clothing,
ponderous poetry
almost daring the fans
to stay attached
to his decidedly

(To prove my devotion
I wore a fuchsia silk suit 
when I graduated 
from college,
my version of 
Gangsta Glam.)

It was this belief
in himself,
in his prodigious
iconoclastic abilities,
that inspired me,
a fat
Mexican American
in the Orange County

to think
I can make myself
into whatever I want
to be,
just like Prince.

So now,
at 52
I still write my poems,
record my songs,
plan my movies,
and I still wish
I were Prince.

[For the good folks at ]

Monday, April 25, 2016

Origin Story

I am from
a suburb close enough
to see the fireworks
of the Magic Kingdom
from my backyard
but too poor to visit.

I am from
the middle child cell
and I come out
to soften arguments
and distract people
from their petty scrapes
and I am largely
except when I
say something funny,
which is still
my most powerful
form of validation
and my proof
of worth.

I am from
inside a fortress
of books
where I hide
away from
my pragmatic
and prosaic roots
and dream
of alternate endings
to what seems to be
the fate of my life.

I am from
a land of the blind
where my appearance
is secondary
to my song,
and when I sing
I not only fit in,
I transcend.

I am from
a bloodline
of small, scared people
who never ventured
and consequently,
never gained,
but we had carpeting
and never missed
a meal.

I am from
the comfort of
the television
always playing
in the background
as a reminder
there's another world
out there.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Bad Poem

You are
what you do,
not what you

If you don't
write everyday
how can you say
you're a

Not everything
you write
will be
a hit.

A bad poem
is better
than no poem,
even it's

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Power of Life and Death





Friday, April 22, 2016


Oh my love,
when will you succumb
to the good fortune
we've been granted?

I don't know
who you think that I become
when you allow doubts to
undermine us.

You must decide
that this world we've made
is more than a dream
and worth banking upon
even with an end
we can't see.

Yes, you've a man
whose adoration is real,
and though he may
be ugly,
his heart is pure gold
and he truly desires
to fulfill
your every desire.

Until you decide
to step out in faith,
entrust your world
In my care,
we will remain
in a bubble,
shallow but safe.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Soundtrack, 1982-1998

I can't understand
all the things people say.
Am I black or white,
am I straight or gay?

Let's pretend
we're married and
do it all night.

You're gonna have to fight
your own damned war,
'cause we don't wanna fight
no more!

why does everybody
have a bomb?

it appears to me
that you could use
a date tonight,
a body that'll
treat you right,
am I qualified?

I'm just like my father,
too bold.

Everybody's looking
for the ladder,
Everybody wants salvation
of the soul.

Life can be so nice.

Until the end of time,
I'll be there
for you.

Lovesexy is the one
until my day is done.

I've seen the future
and it works.

Live 4 love.

My name is Prince
and I am funky,
when it comes to funk,
I am a junkie.

Push your way
up to the front and
shake your motherfucking 'do

Could you be
the most beautiful girl
in the world?

All that glitters
ain't gold.

Everybody's here,
this is the jam of the year.

What if everything
you've been told
turned out to be a lie,
how would you know
the truth?

Welcome 2 the dawn.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Be Careful What You Ask God For

I asked God
to give me an experience
to write about,

one to illustrate
the human condition,
visceral and exciting,
to make my writing
sail through the blank pages.

Be careful what you ask God for.

So when
the hell broke out,
and Lauren left me
for another man,
I asked God for
to take away the pain,
and along came Kim,
and with
a giggling acquiescence
without a struggle,
she disrobed,
and climbed upon
the dessert cart,
naked and splay-legged,
and invited me
to partake.

And take I did.

Be careful what you ask God for.

I thought I could
talk my way out of it.

If her husband
ever found out,
I'd just deny it.

I know, I know.)

But when he called,
three months later
screaming and blood
(she told him
I raped her)
telling me he was
going to shoot
my balls off
and he knew where
I lived,

the police told
me to go into hiding
until they could
calm him down
and I could get
a restraining order.

So, as I began
this sordid tale
I realized,
that I was writing about
the human condition,
visceral and exciting,
I just never guessed
it'd be for
a police report.

Be careful what you ask God for.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Don't think
just because
we've seen
5,000 sunrises together
that today is
any less exciting
than the first time.

The balmy breeze
on this April night
echoes the tremble
of that first embrace.

My memories are rosy
and I know
I'm only recalling
a few of them.

I don't hold on
to the dark times,
the unavoidable
bruises and scratches
that all great loves
gladly suffer.

No, I just want
today with you,
and the day after that,
and the day after that,
until my memory
is completely full,

and to make room
for new memories,
I will happily
the old memories,
the sad days
you came along.

Plumbing Mishap Haiku

Flooded living room,
turn the water off and breathe;
dance with squishy toes.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

On Sleeping Again in My Childhood Bed

These rooms are all
than I remember.

The life,
captured within these
plain but sturdy walls,
was smaller than
I remember too.

Tucking myself in,
feet hanging past the
foot board,
I realize I've outgrown
my modest beginnings,

and I am
proud and sad.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Objectification Lesson

To objectify women,
measure their bodies,
is abject exploitation.

To objectify men,
measure their power,
is male socialization.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Aftermath, August 1994

This loneliness
I wear like
a prayer shawl.

I’d talk to God
but I never
get a response.

What did I expect
for the good luck
to last forever?

our wedding waltz
barely lasted
to the end the song,
and when she left
it was without a tear.

She couldn’t even
fake a tear,
but she could fake
a wedding vow.

I sit in this
rented room
wishing she was
missing me,
but I know

she’s going down
on him,
letting him
spew his hot paycheck
all over her face,

and I l know
I’ll see this clearly,
but right now
I can’t,

so I’m going to
at some other man’s

and wonder
what fresh hell
it will bring.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Eye Contact, Guilt and Shame

When she does not
make eye contact,
I know something’s

I know it
in my bones,
like I know
when infection
is creeping inside
waiting for the moment
to strike.

Maybe something I’ve done
has caught up with me,
or an old primal fear
found its way back to her door
like a bad habit,
like an IOU owed
to an impatient loan shark.

There’s no way
to escape
her indictment,
as the shame
and guilt
sear me.

My guilt
and my shame
have been in here forever
and they’ve have no expiration,
so I don’t even try
to sweep them
from my pantry.

But now, she’s not talking
so I’m left in the dark
just guessing
the reason
(if a reason even exists)
why she’s not making
eye contact,

and why it
worries me so.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


“Be the change
you wish to see in
the world”
says the self-assured
bumper sticker.

When I went
to check the attribution
of this quotation,
the New York Times
declared it
was not even a quote
from Gandhi.

write the poem
only your days
have inhabited.

Sing the song
that threatens to
burst your heart
in ecstatic fantasia.

Make the movie
and give light to
the madness and serenity
of your dreams.

Create what
no one else can,
sign your name,
then go create
some more.

“Be the creation that only you can summon.” – Buddah Moskowitz

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Free Will Sales Pitch (Jesus Never Said This)

“Before you decide,
let me remind you
that after you die
you will either go
to Heaven or to Hell.

Heaven’s great,
because that’s where God is
and it’s always clean,
everyone gets their own mansion,
and you’re never hungry,
and you live forever.

Hell is a place
disconnected from God,
you also get to live forever,
but there fires burn eternally,
and you will suffer
and be tormented
by Satan and his minions.

those are your choices.

Choose freely.”

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three Songs for the Rain

When the clouds 
are dark like dirty cotton,
and the air
is heavy with moisture,
in my mind I hear 
that tikki-tikki-teek-teek
of the raindrops
and I hear
Tina Turner's voice
"I can't stand the rain
against my window,
bringing back sweet memories."

As the rain gets stronger
and the sheets are
purposeful and unrelenting,
I remember seeing
Prince and The Revolution
in 1985 
and I remember hearing them
from the cheap seats singing
"let the rain come down,
let the rain come down"

Being a 
southern California native,
after an hour
I've had enough,
and I am taken back 
to a Terence Trent D'Arby concert 
in 1988 
when he sang
"rain, rain,
go away, go way,
rain, rain,
come back again 
some other day."