On a Day He Smelled a Stink

On a day he smelled a stink

below his sink,

all he could think

of was the sound of roof rats

behind the wall behind his


At that time, a week


he was glad there were no

quarter-sized holes or cracks

through which the critters

could sneak.

By the way,

as he sniffed the


his computer mail

had gone cafluey.

He went to church

to receive what would



and heard the preacher

read a quote from someone

somewhere to a congregation

in a rush,

“Life is a mess, don’t lose your


He called a friend back home

who said his pastor

spoke of the master

weaver who incorporated

every students’ mistake and into

a beautiful weaving did make.

Nothing went to waste.

Jesus made medicine

out of mud and spit

and gave the man


Jesus gives us dirt

and says, “Spit on

this site

and you will see

the painting and the

weaving of life.”

And the man, who

did not expect a

resuscitation of

the rat not named

Lazarus, sniffed under

the sink and

said, “Tomorrow, I’ll

take another sniff and

spray bleach on that


and hope the

stinky carcass will

neutralize in some

other space.”

And the computer’s mail?

The Apple did not fail.

The old, dead carcass of

a computer was resuscitated,

the man reinvigorated,

and he kept his poetic

paintbrush in a nearby







Even Though

Even though he will have

his ashes scattered in

the dunes along the

shores of Lake Michigan,

he loves to wander

cemeteries and, in the

stillness of the day, away

from the sound of traffic,

find older and older grave-

sites, smaller and smaller

headstones – whiter and

whiter with etched words

fading with age, reminding

all visitors of the ever

advancing age of those

in the ground below.

When he moved from

Illinois, Iowa, Michigan,

New York City (for three

months in 1967) to Ken-

tucky for seventeen years,

he found himself in seven

generations of graveyard

heaven – old, old, old to

seven headstones old with

barely legible names and

dates but with the Kentucky

Bluegrass trimmed ever

so neatly around each

stone respecting the one

day anonymous person-

age residing below the

stone. There is such dignity

in the quiet respect of

Kentucky Bluegrass

neatly trimmed around

a headstone of someone

who once occupied space

where the mower now


He Went On-Line

He went on-line

to see if his blog was

still fine,

because he had a note

about a few words

he wrote.

The positive comment

was about his poetic


and how refreshing just

a few words could be.

It turns out the poem in


wasn’t a poem at all

but rather information

about a problem so small

which when corrected

the brief message could

be disconnected.

Just then he looked from

the page to the T.V. and

heard that when a heart

stops beating,

the blood pools and then

starts receding

from extremities

back to the heart

from where it got

its start.

He thought about that

for a while

and imagined his

bloody words

receding from the

page back to his heart

where they got their start.

His heart had stopped


and the poetic brevity

wasn’t worth repeating

for then it would

no longer be brief

but simply a broken heart

filled with such deep grief

that the words wouldn’t

have another start.





“I’m just here to see if my publish button is working,” was the comment                      I posted and then deleted after but a moment.
Because in that instant, the publish button decided to work                                             and if I left the brief message I might be thought the jerk.                                                      But one of my friends with tongue in cheek                                                               commented that it was one of the better poems he could ever hope to meet —                               so brief, so descriptive, something he hoped I would certainly repeat.                             Well, I found it in the trash and not completely deleted,                                                       so I retrieved it and published it above                                                                                        but now there are too many words for any poetry lover to love.

A Friend Is Someone Who

A friend is someone who —-

will listen to your side of the story with-

out choosing sides or being triangulated:

“Hey, I just want to explain where I’m

coming from. I don’t expect you to be

triangulated or take sides, but I do ex-

pect, after almost thirty years of friend-

ship, you, at least, would let me give

you my take. Just let me vent, but no.

You, my friend, sat there in what looked

like apoplexy warmed over saying, ‘It is

between you and them. I have nothing

to do with it.’” And that after almost thirty

years of friendship. Needless to say,

there is some disappointment here.


A friend is someone who —-

will listen when you say you have gone from

doing one thing for most of your adult life to

doing something else, being one thing for

most of your adult life to being something

else, like doing poetry instead of sermons,

like going from being a preacher to being a

poet and will affirm that transition instead of

saying, “Poetry?  Poetry is hard. You do

poetry? How can you do poetry? How can

you be a poet? Are you trained in poetry?

Poetry is hard.  I don’t do poetry. I won’t

read your poetry. I just don’t get that.”  If a

friend embarked on a venture with which I

was unfamiliar, I would hope I would affirm

my friend and tell her that while I don’t know

much about it, I would give it a try and try to

understand it, and whether or not I under-

stood it, I would do it, simply because she

was my friend. And it wouldn’t matter if it

were almost thirty years or not.


A friend is someone who —-

might not be particularly internet friendly

but will make an effort to communicate via

e-mail when you know that your friend does

most of his communicating with friends via

e-mail and you won’t say, “Well, the best

way to get in touch with me is by phone. If

you want to get in touch with me, you can

call me,” and then makes no effort to initiate

the process by getting in touch with her

friend by phone, regardless of the number

of years – ten, twenty or almost thirty.


A friend is someone who —-

realizes that a friendship is a two-way street

and makes the effort to make accommod-

ations for that friendship even if it takes her

out of her “comfort” zone, and that a friend-

ship based only on what that person wants

isn’t a friendship at all — even after almost

thirty years.


A friend is someone who —-

will forgive friends’ shortcomings, limitations,

idiosyncrasies realizing his or her own short-

comings, limitations, idiosyncrasies while

trying to own his or her own feelings and

sharing honestly trusting that the almost

thirty years of friendship have got to be good

for something.


And then “Letting go, and letting God…,” or

perhaps just realizing that the friendship has

had its day and is slipping away as so often

is the way. It happens even after almost

thirty years.

Hiking in the Desert Mountains

Hiking in the desert mountains

he put one foot in front

of the other, stopping

every fifteen minutes

to suck on the once

ice cold filtered

water in the Camelback.

An hour and a half later

he hobbled up the stairs

to the condo, downed four

ibuprofen, put on

his swim suit and headed

for the hot tub to melt away

the aches, pains, as he rejoiced

in the day as a septuagenarian to

be out and about at all let alone

in the desert as people back home

looked out their windows

and wondered when the snow

would melt and the icy water

would run into the storm

drain to head for the river on

the way to the lake on the

way to the big lake where he

would kayak next summer.

He watched a little bit of T.V.,

headed for bed, looked forward

to the next day’s jog on the trail

next to the condo.  Friends, for

the last forty-five years, have

warned him about overdoing

it – sometimes, like when he

hikes for an hour and a half

in the mountains and

then ascends the stairs to

the condo on creaky, weak,

achy knees – those times

when for a few brief moments

that aren’t anywhere near

Camelot, he thinks, perhaps,

they are right.



The General Fought For His Life

The General fought for his life

like he never had before –

not in Vietnam

nor the Gulf War

I and II, Iraq or



Bravely, he fought at home

sexually assaulting and beating

up a lover.

Oh my, his mettle shone.

But someone blew his cover

and the M.P.s did hover.


To the clink, this heroic man

did go,

no more hanky-panky or blow

after blow.


He then faced the sober judge

a military man,

too, one not to budge.

No, this honorable, courageous

brother-in-arms, stuck by the man clan,

showed his own mettle and

just about totally

released the man.


No jail time, a pittance from his pension

and the message is an interesting lesson.

The General had nothing about which to worry

and it’s becoming a sad, old story.


So, military women or for that matter,

any female, please

learn this lesson well—

boys will be boys and you don’t matter

and apparently according

to the U.S. military all the skirts

can go to hell.

Their Fourth Lab’s Tummy

Their fourth lab’s big, sensitive tummy

has been hard for his folks to digest.

They placed kibbles and bits ever so yummy

in his bowl and he ate what seemed best,

but flatulence isn’t so funny.

Finally, they found what meets the test,

and even though it costs more money

their olfactories now get a rest.

The Neighbor Walked By

The neighbor walked by me

on the sidewalk leading to

our condos and when I said

hello, he never returned the

greeting. The next day I men-

tioned it to him and he had no

recollection of the incident. I

told another neighbor and she

just said, “Oh, he drinks.” I

thought, Oh, so do I. Was that

the explanation or was it part

of it or something else entirely

or a dozen something elses,

such as perhaps he was pre-

occupied, late for third shift

work, his wife was sick, he was

groping in his front pockets for

the car key, felt the breeze and

realized his fly was open? There

are a myriad of explanations

between he drinks and lots of

something else. We are comp-

lex creatures and all are bruis-

ed reeds the priest said as he

lifted his glass and offered

cheers in his room in the rec-

tory to the cat who sat on the

window sill.


On His Way Back

On his way back to the condo

with the morning paper and a

fresh cup of Hawaiian Hazel-


nut coffee,  he knew it was

Debussy. The piano played

impressions of the Prelude


to the Suite Bergamasque as

the man, again, became a

fatherless child in the audio-


visual room during his fresh-

man year of college. Simple

melodies soothed away the


scars and scares. He hoped

no teacher would request a

film so he could just sit and


listen all hour. A car at the

intersection making a right

turn slid through the stop


sign as the man turned left

on his way back to the condo

with the morning paper.