They Threw People to the Pavement

They threw people to the pavement

like a big tight end slamming a foot-

ball to the ground after making a

great touchdown catch, apparently

with just about as much glee. He

watched a few of the knock-downs

on the ten o’clock news. An old

man, down in a nanosecond, cracked

his face on a curb and blood flowed

like an egg splattering in a hot pan.

An old woman slapped in the lower

back lurched forward, buckled back-

ward with splayed legs flying sky-

ward as she cracked her tailbone.

Mindless rage disguised as a fun

night out, young people on old

folks, cowards scaring the neigh-

borhood. He flipped the channel

to the sound of assault rifles

screaming and bodies flying

before the team regrouped at

the office for clever repartee,

great laughs and a few guffaws.

He had had enough fun for one

night so he hit the remote, turned

out the lights and prayed for

sweet dreams. On the way to

the bedroom, he heard himself

utter, “Good luck with that.”

A Reader Read a Poem

A reader read a poem and decided

he would disagree with me.

I didn’t offer the poem for someone

necessarily to read and simply agree.

Neither did I write it to provoke

a significant degree of disharmony.

I wrote it as an observation on the

worship of I and Thou or me and Thee,

but  the fellow apparently felt the

need to tell it as only he could see,

and I saluted his choice to offer what

he thought the matter should be.

In response I e-mailed him my reply,

“A poem is a poem; not all is autobio-


Not all ‘he’ in the poem is me; some

might be ‘she,’ and if one looks carefully,

it often applies not just to me or she

but also to none other than thee.”

But only if one is open to see, you see.


This is post #550. That’s a post every 1.7 days since beginning this blog in September 2011.  Today, I give thanks for the opportunity I have had to pen and share my poetry and other musings with you, the ones who pass this blog’s way and pause to share in my day. Thank you.

She Couldn’t See the Forest

She couldn’t see the forest for the

trees – behind, in front, along

side – cedar, maple, oak, beech,

poplar, pine, yes, pine, mostly

pine, the pauper’s pine. Jesus

hangs most clearly on the pine –

white, red, Austrian, Jack, scrub. 

She can’t see her way out of the

forest. Jesus hangs here, there,

everywhere. He just hangs every-

where. She sits on the pine needle

bed and soon sleeps. Jesus climbs

down from the pine tree and sits

by her side stroking her forehead

as she wrestles with the demons in

her dream. She can’t get out of the

forest and Jesus just hangs there.

When she wakes, she sees her pine

cross necklace hanging from the

corner of the mirror above her

dresser. She puts it on, looks at

herself, touches the cross and goes

for a walk in the woods.

Her Mother Used to Say

A brilliant scientific


reduced, in the face

of cancer, to platitudes

her mother used to say

back on the farm and

back in the day,

“Either way,

it’s going to be okay,”


as the researcher puffed

on one of a long,

long chain

of cigarettes and drained

one of a long, long chain

of Bud lites in her

university office

with molecules still

on her brain.


Then she stared into the documenting

camera held by the love that couldn’t

love in the researcher’s way,


raged at fate


and lashed out at her loves –back on

the farm from back in the day

— and pushed them away

with an obscenity

and a dismissive wave


of a spindly, frail, limply lifted

wrist of a really bitchy

broad with a Ph.D – young,

brilliant, bald-headed life

slipping away,

then one day


she just up and quit drinking

(for a while), got sober and

went back to work on the

drug that would save the day

and bring a prize her way


which she could dump into

her bucket and cross it off the list

but on and on and on –

the relentless pain

and eating away

in every way

just wouldn’t go away;


no home, no place to play,

no place to stay

no family from back in

the day


alone except for the one

behind the camera to whom

she couldn’t say

the words she needed

to say, “I want to love you

in every way.”


Then she simply held hands

with the brilliant, lovely,

young film-maker and

whispered, “I love you.

Please forgive me. Thank

you,” and slipped away.


Back on the farm, back in the day

her mother used to say,

“Either way,

it’s going to be okay.”






He Was a Very Sympathetic Guy

He was a very sympathetic guy.

He gained ten pounds during his

wife’s first pregnancy and a very

sore stomach from grunting

along with her in labor.


He gained about the same amount

with kid number two but no sore

stomach because he wasn’t allowed

in.  It wasn’t a progressive state to

which they had moved between kids.


He lost the sympathy weight gain and

the sore stomach went away within

days. Then years and years and years

later he learned of the death of his

old girlfriend.

She had had cancer the symptoms

of which are moonface, humpback,

a fat trunk, skinny arms and legs and

bruising, lots of bruising.  He felt so

bad for her; she had been so pretty.


Then he went to his reunion and

everyone wondered what the

heck had happened to him –

moonface, humpback, a fat trunk,

skinny arms and legs and bruising.


On my God, he thought – the

Big C. Then he thought about

ten pounds and a sore stomach

and just knew he was suffering

sympathy symptoms.  Would

the symptoms ever go away?

He was just such a sympathetic



Then his physician said, “Knock

off the booze, buddy,” and three

weeks later he was his old self

no weight gain, no sore stomach

and none of the other stuff either.


He was never ever so glad as

right then for his now former

best buddy Jim Beam, for whom

he no longer had any sympathy

when he left Old Jim in the

Great Commonwealth…

But being the sympathetic guy

that he was he was sure there

were those in Poland or Russia

or Sweden who could use his

sympathy. He had so much

to give.



He Watched a You-Tube Video

He watched a You-tube video of

the funeral service for a respected

scholar and prolific author take

place in the chapel of one of the

top universities in the country. He

was surprised when he saw the

scholar’s date of birth. He was six

months older than the scholar. As

he continued listening to the video

on Yahoo, he Googled the scholar

on Firefox. My how the man had

aged, he thought flicking though

the photo gallery. He glanced at

himself in the mirror and then

returned to watching the video.

Everything was good and proper

and Reformed for the Reformed

scholar. He listened to the majestic

organ, sang along with the words

of the great hymns, watched

the procession of robed clergy,

heard the message and kept his

eyes open while the Associate

Dean of the chapel prayed the

right liturgical prayer on behalf

of the deceased. When the

congregants opened their eyes,

he shut his for a moment, then

fast forwarded the video hoping

to catch a glimpse of the family

as they recessed. Then he shut

off the video. It was nice he

thought and he was sure their

Reformed God was pleased and

satisfied with all the glorification.

It was a sophisticated, tribal ritual

and proper for all the right, well-

reasoned reasons and he trusted

it brought comfort to the mourners.

It brought back memories of his forty-

three years of learning and practicing

and executing the proper Reformed

liturgy. He got his doctorate in it and

he even did it for his late wife’s memorial

service. But in the viewing and listening

and singing and repeating the words,

he realized something as he sat in his

shorts and tee-shirt contemplating his

next poem – a handful of friends and

loved ones, if he was lucky, the scatter-

ing of ashes in the dunes along the

shore of Lake Michigan, a moment of

silence and a few drinks in a Saugatuck

bar afterward. The thought pleased him

and he thought Jesus might be pleased,



The Scent of Creosote

The scent of creosote rises from

the wet desert floor wafting up


to the balcony. Standing in the dark

except for the lights leading to the


pool on the hill, he inhales deeply

knowing the air has had its winter


wash, the dust is gone for now and

tomorrow the view of the McDowell


Mountains will be as good as it will

be for a while.  He takes another full


breath and laughs without the other-

wise ever-present sidekick cough.



He Heard It Said

He heard it said

an alcoholic really

doesn’t like the

taste of booze,

all that much or

maybe not at all,

doesn’t even want

to drink the stuff

anymore after

all the years of

sucking down the

drowned worm,

playing hop

scotch, gin

rummy with John


Russian roulette

with a potato

fashioned as a

gun with the barrel

held between

his teeth and now just

solitaire. He would


Rather, wants

the buzz more

than anything

else until

it feels like a

buzz saw cutting

him in half right

in the gut around

the place where

the liver used to

be. In his denial

he figured he wasn’t

quite there yet, but

was honest enough

to know he was

getting close to the

point of no return,

the point where

there is no turning

back just saying

adios as he belts

back one more

baby blue agave.

Shake, shake, shake

till a few went down,

queasy stomach

from morning till night

and then he thought

of himself going

down, down, down and

decided to quit – Wild

Turkey. No liquid

would be in charge, but

having nothing, nada, nunca

delivered a punch harder

than Joe Lewis’

right cross and

bucked harder than

the bulls he used to

ride in the rodeo

until he broke thirty-two

bones in one fell swoop.

Day after day and night-

sweat after night-sweat

until the day he sat in

the circle, breathed

deeply and sighed,

“Thank you, Jesus.”

Unfortunately, being the

risk taker that he was,

he then bought the

Electra Glide in Blue

went out on the

streets of Phoenix and

bought the ranch

somewhere around

Forty-third Avenue and

Bethany Home Road.

Back East, they just

call it the farm.