Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disgrace / Grace

You see what
I’m going through.

The constant fighting,
the yelling,
the threats.

Such a miserable,
this kid is.

I know because of
the Chiari malformation
and the cerebral palsy
that her brain
ain’t quite right,
but damn it,
what did I ever do
to deserve this?”


“Of course I see.

I see that you have
many treasured
happy memories
where she is the star.

I see
you have been given
the opportunity
to receive the greatest
of all blessings:

remember when I said,
whatever you do
to the least of these,
you do to Me?

And I see
she loves you
as a true daughter does,
even though there’s not
a drop of your blood
in her.

I ask you:
what did you ever do
to deserve that?”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Watching "Quadrophenia"

How I am transformed
into a Brighton Beach mod
trying to find his place?

It was before I was born
and somewhere I’d not been,

yet I know this alienation
like I know my secret dreams
to fly away.

I am not the only one;
we all feel
our collective soul spark
as the guitars collide
with drums,
soothing our ache
and confusion.

We sing it together,
a mass healing
for pernicious teenage wounds
that never completely heal:

Can you see the real me,
can you?
Can you?

I marvel as
I am taken somewhere
I’ve  never been
to know a person
I’ve never met
who is singing
pain which my soul
cannot articulate.

The scenes keep shifting
and I don’t even know
what all of it means
but that’s okay
as I don’t know what
all of me means,
and I keep
rocking back and forth,
closing my eyes,
feeling a Zen connection
to Pete onstage,

standing as a beacon
“I climbed out with just
a guitar and pen,
how ‘bout you?”

and a wave of forgiveness
and hope
and love reigning over him
over me,
and renews me

and all great art does this,

and I know better
than attempt to unravel it,

I’ll just be thankful
for my place
way in the back
in the upper balcony
watching “Quadrophenia”.

[For #OpenLinkNight at, still high after seeing The Who in Anaheim, California last night.]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Head Down, Keep Punching

Never, never, never
title the work before
it’s done,
it’ll doom you.

I just start
wherever I am
and go
but I don’t
look at the screen.

I look at the keys
and I keep typing.

If I look up
I’ll immediately get stuck
on the errors,
and the whether
it looks like
a poem.

Sometimes it’s a rant,
or a deathbed confession,
or an impossible seduction
but I don’t think about it.

Just keep that head down
and keep punching those keys.

To the outside world
it probably looks
like I’m having
brutal and angry
computer sex,
but I don’t care.

I just keep following,
giving the ideas free rein
because I know
they’ll take me

If I keep my mind
and my hands busy,
then my thoughts
can get out of the way

and I can keep dancing
and singing,
looking for the spotlight,

or maybe that cliff
to fling myself from
and then marvel
as I glide down
like a beautiful flying squirrel.

when I lose my steam,
I stop,
and look up
and wonder
what the hell
I was saying.

comes the rewrite.

[Written for #MeetingTheBar for a warm place in the cold, cold internet.]

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sweet Sixteen (for Sarah)

You’re 16 today,
and I've been here for 12 of them,
(that’s 75% -I know how
you hate anything with numbers,
thinking its math).

We share a love of language
and arcane vocabulary,
and I’m sorry I gave you
my flashpoint anger
with its unfortunate
attendant profanities.

We share a sense
of the dramatic
and an affection
for the absurd.

By question and answer
I've tried to teach you
how to think critically,
and I love it most
when you cut through
pious hypocrisy
like a buzzsaw
through a lemon meringue pie.

We both like fast food
and memorizing lines from
“The Office.”

We both soothe ourselves
with music.

The only thing we don’t share
is DNA.

Very few know you
the way I know you,
and even fewer still
have added
my last name to theirs,

which is proof to me
that at the core
of your soul,

you are sweet.

you can roll your eyes

    Sarah (at 15)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The “ I've never had anything
near as horrible
as her rape” guilt
kept me in a
doomed relationship.

The “wanting to leave”guilt
kept me there
twice as long
as I should have.

The “I want someone else” guilt
made me secretive
and conspiratorial.

The “I’m having an affair”
guilt led me to crying jags
in my car at the far end
of the Target parking lot.

The “I can’t leave
my primary relationship,
but I also can’t commit
to my paramour and
that’s preventing her
from finding true love” guilt
helped me let her go.

The “I’m trying to be a good
repentant partner but failing
miserably at it” guilt dragged on.

The “I can’t believe I’m starting
another affair” guilt crept
into my life.

The “this new woman
deserves better than being
the other woman” guilt
jolted me into decisiveness.

The “pretending to go into
couples’ therapy as a ruse
to break up with her” guilt
played out.

The “she went through
my things and found all
the evidence of
my scarlet adultery” guilt
baptized me in shame.

The “Yes, I admit
I did you wrong
and I’m a scumbag
confession” guilt monologue
tumbled out of me.

She sent me the
“this is not personal,
but I need $1,000
for house repairs
because I didn’t have
any warning
that you were planning
on leaving me...”
guilt invoice,

which I remitted
in two payments
of $500 each,
thinking I’d be free.

12 years later,
the guilt still remains.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - come on along and bleed a little poetry along with us!]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

God Isn't

God isn't
the steady hang of the clouds
inching across the sky

or the moment changing
from fearful to forgiven

or pink smiling lips
stealing a bit of chocolate

or the concentric rings
of a pebble splash in a pond

or the instinct that
feeds and comforts the weak

or the sacrifice of
a convicted criminal on a cross

or the mysterious melody
of the birds a capella at dawn

or a warm and soft pillow
to rest your head upon

or the sweet fragrance
of a perfectly cultivated rose.

God isn't
any one of these things,
but all these things,

et cetera,
ad infinitum,

[Written for  and God.]

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

After (for Sarah)

When doctor after doctor
shrugs their white-coated

and all they
can produce is
misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis,

and after they've prescribed
drug after drug
which don’t do anything
except make you groggy
and fat,

and all the distractions
that used to help
(like writing and music)
no longer work,
and it’s become
a mocking
frustration after frustration,

and it seems like every
hope after hope
only brings

there are rainbows
after every storm,
and sunrises
after every night,

and there will be
something else
after this dark period.

So, hold on, Sarah,
there will be better days
after these bitter days
have vanished.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at, a poetic oasis in the arid internet wasteland.]

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Christmas Show

Roll up the tents,
shut off the lights,
The Christmas Show
has left the planet again.

Don’t worry folks,
it’ll be back next year,
unless the Birthday Boy
and takes us all with Him,
or the Iranians
or the North Koreans
or the Christian dispensationalists
blow us all to smithereens
with one impulsive
fanatical, self-righteous
push of The Button.

No, Virginia,
Santa Claus ain't been seen
since his marathon night
of slipping down chimneys,
taking perfunctory bites
of homemade cookies
of varying quality,
and navigating uncooperative
union reindeer.
No wonder he goes on
a three-day drunk
and hibernates until August.

It’s just one great big
international extravaganza
with garish green and red costumes
didactic sitcom narratives,
and musical adaptations
in every genre
wafting through every open space,
and you haven’t lived
until you've heard Tiny Tim’s
version of “Silent Night.”

Even the topless bars
are strung out
with Tinsel and Holly,
appearing nightly
at 8 and 11.

From His perch in Heaven
I imagine God squinting
searching His profaned,
cigarette-butted landscape

looking for
homeless teenage mothers
and the souls
who invite them in,

and the robbed,
bloody ones
(presumably unseen)
left for dead,
and the Samaritans
who carry them to safety,

because He knows
they are there,
and we know
they are there,

they’re just hard to find
amid the hustle and bustle
of The Christmas Show.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Endless Detective

I admire
the puzzle solvers,
for they've more stamina
for the finite
than I.

Puzzles are solvable,
but mysteries
are not.

fuels the search,
and many soon tire
of the journey,
the plodding dedication,
the following
of false leads
into sometimes mocking
but it is our duty
to persist,

I am
the endless detective,
and everything
is a mystery,
and each revelation
leads to an even more
compelling mystery,

and thankfully,
I've nothing but time
as I dive in
deeper and deeper
the infinite
blue abyss,

chasing truth and beauty,
hour after hour,
day after day,
lifetime after lifetime.