Organic or Inorganic

Organic or Inorganic

I wrote a poem about a

Poem I read about a guy

Who became a horse,

And wouldn’t you know it

Two days later, I read a

Poem that made that poet

Look like a piker and the

Poem a grade school primer

On metaphors and similes.

This poet, in the span of

Twenty-one short and

Some really short lines,

Became about fifteen

Different things such as

(As, like like constitutes

A simile and therefore I,

As, or like a poet, am

Using a simile in my poem.)

The leaves of an oak,

A feather of a heron

By a pond, and then a

A root artery and a face

Like a star. The poet’s

Happiness was dizzying

And I was just getting

Dizzy.  In the second

Half of the poem, she

Was many things includ-

Ing the tip of a wave

And she ends by writ-

Ing that she is the cloud

With legs that looks like

A lamb. And here I am,

Still after all these years

Trying to correctly answer

The Twenty Questions as

To Whether I’m animal,

Vegetable or mineral, when

Given what I eat, I’m

All three, so instead

Of becoming all that

Stuff about which I’ve

Been reading, I’m becom-

Ing the food I eat and

Vice versa and it doesn’t

Take a metaphor to explain

That, so now the question is

Whether I’m organic or

Inorganic most of the

Time. (Please don’t ask

My friends.) But perhaps

I should reconsider whether

We become what we

Read. Because, if so, I’m

Not sure I want to be a

Cloud that looks like a

Lamb. If so, I would

Much rather be a horse,

A sleek and beautiful

Race horse. But to

Answer that one, it

Just might take a


Three Days in a Row

Three Days in a Row

Three days in a row of

visits to physicians like

Jesus in the grave from

Friday till resurrection, he

got shots of cortisone in

each elbow on day one

for bursitis with twelve

hours in hell that same

day with Jesus when

Jesus preached to and

baptized the dead and he

was in colonoscopy prep-

aration and couldn’t even

concentrate on what Jesus

was saying because he had

to run to the John every

twenty minutes for hours.


The actual exam on day two

was a piece of Angel’s food

cake in the Devil’s lair as he

said to the doc just before

slipping into sweet sleep,

“Go gently into that good



On day three, the allergist

made the sign of the cross

metaphorically on his chest

with the stethoscope and pro-

nounced him healed. He got

up off the table, folded the

linens neatly as his Dutch

mother had taught him and

walked out into the ninety-

five degree daylight and won-

dered if he was still in hell

only a bright one. Jesus

was standing just outside the

door waiting for him. Jesus

had just finished speaking

with Mary Magdalene, who

had, initially, mistaken Jesus for

the gardener, but the real gardener

was enjoying a siesta with some

other Hispanic laborers. Mary

then had run to tell the other

disciples (many of whom looked

very Hispanic themselves being

Middle Eastern and would probably

need papers if they ever made it to

Arizona, which also is hot as hell

this time of year) that Jesus was alive.


He asked, “What about me? After all,

I folded my linens just like your Jewish

mother Mary had taught you to do.”

Jesus just looked at him querulously

and said, “Don’t fear.  I’ll put a good

word in for you.”

Homage to Becoming a Horse

Homage to Becoming a Horse

I read this really great poem in a magazine.

The imagery was palpable, tactile, touchable.

It was about this person who connected so closely

with a horse that he became, not just any

horse, but that horse — body parts

on body parts.

He leaned into the horse; eyes and face

and heart and thumbs and everything else

including his words became the horse; the

horse’s eyes, face, heart and hooves and

finally the horse’s slow moving tongue

became his words.

I tried that with my 110 year old Chocolate

Lab with eyes and face and heart and

thumbs and everything else including my

words. I hugged him closely while he labored

to breathe and then I began to sob

with anticipatory grief.

I couldn’t become Boomer as I had wanted.

I could only love him from distances of

universes so far away from who I am and

who he is, and yet, in the utter intimacy of a

man and the dog who had shown him the gift

of unconditional love.

Body parts became his words with

anticipatory grief

of unconditional love.

Life and Death in an Epidemic

Life and Death in an Epidemic

I miss a lot of them a lot,

he said choking back tears.

Someone else said that there

are so many walking dead,

those who have lost some-

one so close that they can’t

imagine life going on as it

were.  They are the hungry

dead, the thirsty dead, but

the dead never-the-less.

There are those who

know those in the night of

the living dead and then

there are those who, through

no merit of their own, per-

haps just dumb luck or grace,

make it through the worst that

broken relationships and disease

and death could throw at them

and, believe it or not, survive

and emerge from the land of

the living dead and enter as

never before the land of the

living and perhaps even find

someone with whom to share

that good life, or perhaps be-

cause they have found someone

with whom to share that good

life for as long as that good

life might last as fragile as

they now know it to be, some-

thing so many others have yet

to learn.

He Asked His Wife

He Asked His Wife

He asked his wife, “Will you miss me when I’m

gone?” She responded, “Of course I will.”

It wasn’t exactly the response he had in mind.


He envisioned, “What! Gone! Never! But if you were

destined for death we would go through it together,

darling. Like the president of Union Theological


Seminary, New York and his wife many years ago

who realizing the decline of one or both decided to

end life together, ah romantically, ah, so romantic-


ally.” But she opted for that which is so much more

realistic, and he scooped from the burlwood bowl

another handful of buttered and salted popcorn she


had popped in soy oil in the new Emeril five quart

sauce pan on the electric glass top Frigidaire stove.

They continued watching “Masterpiece Mystery”


while he sipped the bargain pinot grigio.

The Smoke Alarm Screamed

The Smoke Alarm Screamed

The smoke alarm screamed


into their ears and those of the semi-

deaf dog at three a.m. “Holy ____!” the

dog screamed not to mention what his

parents cried. It was that loud.

False alarm,

the last of many the dog’s dad thought.  He

crawled out of bed, a sweaty dream left behind.

It was a moment of mixed emotions.  He was glad

to be out of the dream but one, he had to fix the alarm,

and two, the dream might resume as often they did

when he crawled back into bed after taking a three a.m.

pee break.

For months, the smoke alarm had been losing

its mind, but they didn’t want to accept the sad

reality of SAAD, Smoke Alarm Alzheimer’s

Disease, but reality is reality and must be

faced especially at three a.m. when they

had just been scared out of their undies,

once again.

Enough is enough, they thought.  It was

sad but they had to put the ancient, twenty-

year-old electric, without battery backup,

smoke alarm, three-hundred-years-

old in human years, out of their (not

its) misery by committing SAE, Smoke Alarm


He climbed the short ladder and performed

what would go from surgery to an autopsy in

short order.  It was so sad. In trepidation, he

headed back to bed and, true to form, resumed the

dream about White Tailed Rattlesnakes but mostly

sharp toothed Gila Monsters challenging at

every turn.

He wished his son-in-law hadn’t sent photos

of the rattler and Gila from a backpacking trip

in Arizona, but he consulted Freud and Jung

and acknowledged that it probably meant some-

thing more, something that at 3:30 a.m. he wasn’t

real keen on analyzing. So, he slept as best he could,

given circumstances,

And he awoke, took a shower, dressed and headed

to Lowe’s to purchase a newborn, baby-aged battery

operated smoke detector that was old enough to sleep

through the night so all he would have to worry about

were snarly Gila Monsters, his long deceased parents,

maybe an appearance or two of his late wife and

Freud and Jung.

False alarm, pee break, once again, euthanasia, every

turn, given circumstances, Freud and Jung, dreams,

reality, life.

The Best Father’s Day Ever All Around the Country

The Best Father’s Day Ever All Around the Country

On Friday, his stepson showed up with the family.

Stepson gave stepdad the kind of hug he hadn’t previously

received in eighteen years.

On Saturday, when they left to go back to Chicago

stepson hugged him just like he had on Friday and

stepdad wondered why but was grateful.

On Sunday, his daughter called from an Arizona back-

packing trip with a rattlesnake and a Gila monster. She

blithely blew that off to focus on her dad.

On Sunday, a little later, his son called from Colorado

to ask how his dad’s Father’s Day was going.  They

exchanged  pleasantries  and then the

Forty-three year old kid said, for the first time ever,

“Dad, I love you with all my heart and you are the

best dad I could ever have.”

Dad cried a shrill, sharp whine into the phone and

embarrassed handed it to his wonderful wife to

finish the conversation.

After reflecting on his hideous, involuntary utterance

of joy, he gave thanks he wasn’t running for president

like Howard Dean had.

At least his loving son won’t cancel their relationship

like the Governor got his campaign for highest

office cancelled virtually on the spot.

He Thought It Would Be Superficial

He watched the totally British existentially,

humorous chronology of coming of age and

they are moving along from one event in time

to another totally absorbed in their mostly

adolescent male narcissism, “I can’t think of

anything to ask you about yourself, your life,

over dinner,” to totally tele-trivia.


The pass from July 1993 to whenever completely

skips the earth shattering, sun and moon eclipsing

event that transcends the start of WWI, WWII,

Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan —


August 21, 1993 a day that will live in infamy in

his life and the lives of the children, the day Honey

and mom died, but come on, it has been almost

nineteen years and it’s more than time to realize

how many others have lived and died recognized

by those for whom it counted, while life passed

by, and then he watched the T.V. as she died,


unexpectedly, slap yourself upside the head, in

a cycling accident.  She was breezing along, enter-

ed the street via a blind alley and that was that. He

sat stunned.  He thought it would be superficial.


Goats Do Roam Even Into Weddings at the Grand Canyon

The article below appeared on the National Geographic’s website which was coordinated with the 2009 documentary about our national parks, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” by Ken Burns .  National Geographic asked for accounts of first time visits to a national park:  

The first time I visited the Grand Canyon was the occasion of the wedding of my daughter Rachel Anna on May 24, 2008. In 1993, Rachel’s mother, who was an artist, died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 49. Rachel was 20. The family — I, Rachel and her 25-year-old brother Matthew were devastated. We each began a pilgrimage of grief. Several years later, Rachel decided to spread her wings and venture to Phoenix, Arizona to live with a friend from high school days. Once there, Rachel, a communication and art major in college, landed a job as director of marketing for a retail office furniture company. She became a marathon runner and met and fell in love with Brian a geologist for the state of Arizona who was also an expedition backpacking guide at the Grand Canyon. After many, many backpacking trips together at the canyon, the question was popped and, of course, the place for the wedding was a given — the Grand Canyon. A small group of immediate family and friends gathered at a remote site at the edge of a point with a steep and deep drop off. Just before the ceremony was to begin, a Big Horn Sheep kid ascended the shear side of the cliff and joined the wedding party. He remained for the ceremony roaming between the wedding party and the guests. Just before the ceremony, Rachel presented me and her step-mom Chris with an original watercolor of the site of the wedding which she had painted in memory of her mother. The expansive vista, the wedding site, the watercolor, the happy couple, the uninvited but welcome guest — it was all awe-inspiring. I viewed it all through tears of joy. By the way and ironically, the couple had chosen “Goats Do Roam” as the brand of wine for the reception.

Bob Dahl