Tinkering into Infinity

In an explanation of a short poem,
the young poet said he tinkered
with the poem for nearly a decade.
Sorry, Charlie, I haven’t got a
decade to tinker. At this point,
a day or two for editing moves
faster than a speeding bullet
and with that I have given away
my age.


My Sociopathic Life Coach

He offered to give me vocational
Preference tests following the Big
Grief because I didn’t know if I

Could stay in my job. After three
Such tests, he asked, sarcastically,
If I were lacking in self-confidence.

I responded, No. I didn’t mention
Shame and guilt. That would be for
The therapist’s couch. He said he

Would do anything he could to help
Me. He was funny. He made me
Laugh. And then at the Board of

Directors’ meeting he just flat-out
Betrayed me for the approval of the
Board. I stared at him. He never

Looked at me. Eventually, he went
To jail on an unrelated matter.
Vengeance is mine, saith the

Lord. I couldn’t help liking him,
Though. He had a great sense of
Humor. I still chuckle at the thought

Of him a quarter of a century later.
He was a charmer. Things worked
Out for me. I hope he’s okay.

The Buddha Look Alike

We had the brand new neighbors
over for lunch of homemade
soup and cookies of cinnamon and nutmeg flavors.
My wife pointed to two deer in our woods.
City folk, they were surprised, but of country life,
they finally understood.
They saw Confucius and the
Buddha around the waterfall and pond.
The wife said that of Eastern
religions, she was very fond.
She looked at my droopy, Scandinavian lids and bald pate
and said a great Buddha I make.
Our backyard Buddha was great of waist
with a big smile upon his face.
I said that I hoped she referenced not my girth.
She laughed and said I offered great mirth.
I wondered why she focused on something so dearth
instead of enlightenment, human awareness and self-worth.
She said I was the Buddha’s spitting image.
The smile was disappearing from my visage.
Along with my eyelids, my spirits began to droop.
That was the last time the new neighbor
would be getting any of my delicious, homemade soup.

Five Haiku

We get in the way,
And we go where ‘er we will.
Nature is not scared.

We throw things away.
We toss them where ‘er we wish.
Nature really cares.

We live by the shore.
We live in the dry desert.
We, now, are the scared.

Nature cried to us.
We offered cacophony.
She sought harmony.

Nature is not scared.
She has tolerated us.
Now she seeks revenge.

From the Wonderful to…

From the wonderful, safe, salty 
water of the womb, 
we simultaneously 
search for the opening and 
are thrust brutally into the 

cold, stark reality called life 
	and upon emerging, 
		scream bloody murder. 
         We have to breathe. 

And in that act it is as if we have 
fallen (or been pushed or both) 
out of the 
	saline serenity of Eden's eternity.  

Some, by grace, recover enough 
to stop crying for themselves 
and begin caring. 

Others grow like octopi with 
tentacles reaching, grasping, 
sucking, thrusting, consuming, 
grinding, swallowing, digesting, 

     Octopi have to survive, too.

Some say that is too bleak a 
picture of the human condition,
too black and white.

We all have a bit of the angel fish 
and the octopus. 
Some say if it can be imagined, 
	it can be realized or already is. 
		Some read suspense novels of 
		international espionage. 
			Some read history. 
				Some read scriptures. 
Some don't read.
        Some cringe at what has been 
             and pray for what may be. 

If it can be imagined, it can be 
realized or already is – 
		or hell 
			or both.

from wild strawberries*

an old man sits on a dock on a
north woods lake just looking at

a woman and a young boy at the
end of the dock. the boy leans

over to look at a school of minnows
and falls in intentionally. the woman

is startled and then the woman
and the boy laugh as the boy

splashes water at the woman. the
minnows are long gone. the old man

looks out onto the lake and sees
a man and a young boy sitting in

a rowboat. the man is casting for
game fish and catching nothing.

the boy with his bamboo pole
and worms is catching bluegills

galore. the boy struggles to lift
his string of bluegills out of the

water. the man smiles and the boy
laughs and the old man watching

laughs at the boy’s obvious and
naïve bragging. the old man keeps

looking and feels an ache of love
deeper than the deep blue north

woods lake and then wakes with a
lingering ache.

*idea from a Frederick Buechner writing
with apologies to Ingmar Bergman

Fish Tales and Preparing for the Falling Leaves of Fall

The couple pulled the net
across the pond
so the falling
leaves of fall
wouldn’t fall
into the pond,
become saturated,
sink to the bottom
and become sludge,
fouling the pond
and making the
visually brilliant
fish invisible to
the human eye. The
couple is successful
to one degree or
another at keeping out
the leaves, but even
if unsuccessful, and
the pond is not clear,
the fish have food to eat
and remain quite discrete
even when not hiding
or when telling fish tales
behind the cattails.


“Murder in Paradise” Isn’t Just a PBS Drama Series

Federal Aid?  Are You Kidding?

(no, not just people but US citizens) 

are being killed by the Federal 
government of the US {through 
sins of omission and commission}).

US Navy medical vessel “Comfort”
(Comfort, comfort, my people) 
with 800 medical personnel and 
hundreds of beds is treating seven 
or eight US citizens.

Why so many?

(Are you kidding? What about the 
guy in need of dialysis? Can't 
get no satisfaction. He's gonna 

What's with the gal who needs
inhalers for her asthma? She, too, 
is gonna die.)  

It's only sixteen deaths, 
the feds say --
so many less 
than on the mainland.

They are dying slowly of neglect --
(sins of omission and commission.)

What are they doing on board with 
all that spare time? (Vacationing
on deck while watching sexy women 
rumba all over the island?) 

There is no electric power for 
the vast majority. (Candles are 
so romantic, they say.) 

There is no potable water for about 
100% of those US citizens. (Wine is
good for the stomach and promoting 
erotic thoughts for erogenous zones
they say.) 

Hardly any medical care;
    hardly any electricity; 
          hardly any clean water. 

(Vacations, romance, wine! Arriba!
Arriba! Arriba! they shout.)

Has anyone seen compassion coming out 
of Washington?

Whhaatt? With vacations, romance and wine 
on an exotic Caribbean island, who 
needs compassion?

Why? Is it just Washington incompetence? 


Are they being punished? 

(Hard to believe and, if so, for what?)

Because they have a large debt 
they owe the federal government? 

(Hard to believe.) 

(It’s so hard to believe.) 

(Everything is so hard to believe 
about any of why this is happening 
to US citizens who need the help 
of the US federal government.) 

Maybe, it’s actually quite simple. 

Maybe, it’s because the vast majority 
of the US citizens living in Puerto 
Rico are brown or black, 

and even though they hold citizenship 
maybe we should only consider, for 
counting purposes, blacks and browns
who would then count as three-fifths
of the white population (like in 
the original US Constitution) for 
purposes of voting on the island
for purposes of not letting the 
islanders have influence they don't
deserve in Washington,

Or half
or one-quarter
or one-eighth
or one-tenth
or one-hundredth
or zero 

which is actually what all US
citizens in Puerto have -- 
whites, browns, blacks have --
no federal votes, so why should 
the federal government care?
Besides, the Puerto Ricans seem to be on 
some kind of a perpetual “Sandals” -- like
vacation in paradise.

(Oh, those childlike browns and blacks --
so happy without US white interference
except to wait rightfully on whites 
who vacation in paradise, they say.)

Those in Washington are probably
just jealous at the thought of those 
sweaty natives who drink great 
Caribbean drinks like pina colada 
and rum and coke and smoke dope -- 
sexy blacks and browns who 
on the hot, humid, nights 
dance the night away in hip-
hugging pants and cleavage 
down to their belly buttons 
to the erotic beat of steel drums.

(Federal aid?  Are you kidding? they ask.)  

It's called murder in paradise.