Monday, March 30, 2009

I Wonder

might people kill themselves
from lack of pain
as they do from
too much of it?
Time takes its toll,
nerves become callused,
so much rubbing......

Sunday, March 29, 2009

July 20, 1969

Awake this morning after,
I know I shouldn't care
but sweetness fills my head,
soft as summer air,
like an oriental flute,
a clean blue sweep of sea,
flows upon my senses
Awesome infinity.

How can I describe
what we do not know?
I am speakng of ourselves:
the stringy pain of our tension,
Our anxious search for worth,
the constant hunger for comfort
on a warring hostile Earth
proscribe self-analysis.

Philosophy cannot catch up
with our evil restless minds,
and those who are most faithful
to a dream they know is dead,
lost their passion to an ethic
drying up in the head.
But man has primal knowledge:
to probe is to survive.

Those who ignore the dying
are always most alive.
Laughable and laughing
Man forsakes his failing dream.
The desperate optimist
flees intellectual scorn,
with huge fiery thrust
seeks an ethic green, newborn.

Friday, March 27, 2009


On her brow -
a tiny frown -
an asterisk,
denoting pain
to be read below
on the mouth.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Wish

When lizards mate
(so I read once)
they remain
conjoined for hours.
So may we join
our private parts,
and lie love-locked
all day, looking out
at the horizon
until our eyes grow heavy,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Why are mobiles so desired
to make inspired
the incurious infant?
This school of fish in the air,
each hooked to its own line,
these fish out of water
speak to a purpose
I don't ken.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Book Review

I bought a book of Sam Shepard's plays at a thrift store, a book that looks like it has spent its life in the back of a pickup, or in a hippie girl's tote bag, or on a bar slick with foamy beer and pretzel crumbs.
I hold the book between my knees as I crouch forward to catch the light for reading. My dog ambles over and sniffs the book. She takes a lick of it and sniffs some more. Then a couple more licks and sniffs again, then moves away.
Whatever brought her to the book, she got it.

A Changing America

Some years ago I saw a photograph in American Heritage magazine which depicted a young woman standing beside a black sedan parked at the portico of the White House in Washington, D.C.. Accompanying the photograph was the following memoir:
"In 1937 Marguerite and I were married and we began our honeymoon in Washington, D.C. Of course we wanted to see the White House.
There was no gate, fence, concrete barriers, not even guards, so we drove in, right up to the portico, parked, and took a stroll around the grounds. No one interrupted our walk until a man in civilian clothes came out of the White House and politely requested us to move our car because the President was waiting to leave. When we asked if we could take a photograph first, the President's aide agreed, as long as we hurried. The result is enclosed."
Last year I related this story in a letter to my first cousin who is ten years older than I am. She wrote to me of a similar incident experienced by her future husband (whom she did not meet until after WWII). I will let her tell it in her own words:
"In November 1942, before he was shipped to East Africa, Merrill was stationed briefly in Washington. He worked days, so had evenings free. He and two buddies were out walking around Washington one evening when they passed the White House. One said "Let's go in", so they walked up the drive to the portico, sat down, and smoked a cigarette. No one stopped them or questioned them. They talked for a while, speculating on whether or not Franklin was at home. Then they got up and continued their walk. Ah, yes, how much we have lost!"

Monday, March 23, 2009


Sometimes my dreams contain people who appear at meetings or events I am attending. They speak to me, More often I listen to them talk. These people have distinctive faces, voices, and wardrobes. Yet they are strangers to me. I have never met them. So - who are they? Where do they come from?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ORPHAN (for Amy)

Oh the rain!
I clawed a ditch
around my soul's tent.

Oh the dark!
I pulled light
from the pole star.

Oh the cold!
I blew blue flame
into my palms.

Then I heard the river stop.
Far off I saw the mountain fall.
What next? I asked,
and waited.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lesson Learned

Some people go mad; they rant and rave; they meet the standard cliche of what insanity is.

Others go mad and live a life of coping and concealment.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Golden Years

The old man could not remember how the sore had begun. a pimple, an ingrown hair - he didn't remember, but now there was a red bulbous sore on his chest. He stood before the mirror and looked at the sore reflected there. Using the mirror as a guide he touched the inflammation and felt hot pain radiate through his chest. His toes curled.
The old man decided to go to the clinic and see a doctor. He left the bathroom and went into the kitchen-sitting-bedroom that made up the rest of his apartment. He wanted no  undershirt. Choosing a white dress shirt, he put it on carefully, holding the shirt away while he buttoned it. He opened his wrinkled black wallet and fingered through the bills. He slipped the wallet into his pocket and left the apartment.
The old man walked the five floors down to the street and stepped outside into the soft summer morning. At the corner he waited for the bus. When the bus came it was full and he had to stand holding a strap. At several stops before the clinic, people passing him in the narrow aisle brushed against his chest and the old man stood there with a queer smile on his face as the pain spread through him.
The clinic was a group of rooms in the basement of one of the city's large hospitals. Inside he took a place among the others waiting there, many old like himself, others poor or pregnant or alien. He felt proud of his affliction this time. It wasn't typical of the kind of problem old people have, and the pain, or feeling there, while it hurt, pleased him too. He held himself close and tried to feel calm so he could concentrate on the tiny pulse that throbbed within the sore.
After some time a nurse came for him and led him to a cubicle where a doctor with a white coat was scribbling on a pad.
"Well, old timer, what's your trouble today?"
The old man opened his shirt for the doctor to see.
"Ummm. Come here and sit down. Let me look at that."
The doctor touched flesh near the sore and watched the old man wince.
"How long have you had that?"
"I'm not sure," the old man said.
"Well, nothing to worry about. We'll have that taken care of. Nurse!"
The doctor wrote something on a card. "I'm referring you down the hall to another doctor. He'll fix it for you."
"How? What will..."
"Lance it. Clean it up. Won't be much fuss. Nurse, will you direct this patient to Med 12?"
In the hall the old man told the nurse that he felt weak.   He asked to rest for a few minutes in the waiting room.   She led him there and soon her attention went to the other patients.   The old man got up and left.   He wasn't sure  he was ready to have his sore lanced. He needed to think about that. He decided to go the park where he spent much of his time.
He wanted to avoid the other old men whom he knew. He took a different path and went to an unfamiliar part of the park and sat on a bench.

This day the park seemed unusually green and the paths curved attractively over the landscape.   A young woman was standing a short distance away. He saw the breeze press her skirt against the roundness of her thighs. He saw the profile of her breasts and her long hair reflecting sunlight. Suddenly the old man realized that he was thinking of his dead wife, remembering her, remembering their life together when they were young. It had been a long time since he had thought about her, but now he knew that he had been missing her all day. He brought his hand up and touched the sore beneath his shirt. He gasped with pleasure at the feeling.
He rose and left the bench to walk out onto the grass. He lay down on his back and looked up at the bright blue sky.  He closed his eyes and brought his hand to his chest and pressed against the sore. This time he did not take his hand away but pressed and pressed again, and again, exulting in the heat and pain until at last, sated, blinded by tears, his heart serene with knowing that he had not felt so much in a long, long time, he slept.