Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For The Holidays

No tree fills the house
with the scent of fir, or
carpets the floor with
fallen needles.

No lights hang from
the eaves or the holly bushes.

The Messiah has been played, once
but no others; they may or may not
in the next couple days.

My love and I are both off work
the day before and the day itself;
mom asked what we have planned,
and she said “Oh, read, eat,
be quiet at home,” and then
she smiled and winked at me.

The forecast calls
for sunny and cold,
a perfect Texas Christmas.

We will not go out, nor
stay up late on
New Year’s Eve, and
the next day I will go
hunting up in Quanah.

Now, it is quiet and
the sky is grey, waiting.
Critters strewn about
the bed and couch,
paws cover faces.
Wind tossed Oleander
scratches at the window.

Uncle Fran died two days ago,
as so many do this time of year.

Perhaps, in my fiftieth year
I have caught a whiff
of that melancholy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Waffle House, 10:45 a.m.

Where are we getting’ that toilet,
Lowes or Home Depot?
Home Depot, I done tol’ you
and it IS gonna be a present.
It’s gotta be a present, I know that;
you’re gonna put it in the floor too.

It’s been seven years they been married.
It has not been seven years.
It’s been seven years they been married.
It has not been seven years.
I am a’ tellin’ you it has been seven years,
I know it.
You know nothin’ of the kind;
it’s been five years, and I got
proof on account of the dates
on them pictures I took.

Muriel says she wants to get a gun.
Now that ain’t no surprise…
She says she wants to go up to th’ range
and get her one, ‘cause he’s got one.
She just wants a gun so’s she can shoot him first.
Be that as it may, she wants a gun,
jus’ like his.
She does NOT want a gun just like his;
He has him the forty five automatic of
nineteen and eleven –
that gun is too big in every way.
Well then she wants one like that in .38
She does NOT want one like that;
she wants a small revolver and
she aught'n to be smart enough to know.

Well, she wants a gun, that’s all I know;
are you gonna finish your bacon?


Murkan Airlines,
with a wink and a nod,
hauls congress to and fro
for the Holiday Break,
the first order of business being
what to call it?
Christmas is too Christian
and if we serve one,
they’ll all want free drinks.

Guzzling sweet crude and
blood diamonds, the Grand Poobah
flashes a greasy smile,
wipes his lips on his lackey’s paycheck
and rumbles “Ain’t nobody serves ‘em up
better ‘n’ Halliburton!”

Back at Gawd-R-Us,
everybody’s lost their shirts
in Texas Hold ‘Em.
It’s game over man;
Diversity catches the
midnight train to Georgia,
laying low in the mail car.

Town hall meeting is cancelled
due to protest by The Organization of
Those Who Don’t Give a Shit,
seeing as it violates their
constitutional right to ambivalence.

Burglars United beds the Brady Bunch
hoping to get bullets labeled as antisocial.

Bernie Madoff, out for good behavior,
skunks Bernanke in a game of one-on-one;
dusting off his jacket, he quips,
“Enough of this politeness shit,
let’s get down to brass tacks.”

The Me Generation wakes from their slumbers,
yearning for the dry look;
Studio 54 reopens in celebration.

Below the hullabaloo,
Mother Theresa rolls over in her grave
slaps her forehead and mutters
“Christ on a crutch,
what if I was wrong?”

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Canus Lapus

Hangin’ with Pop,
slimmer and
half the weight
of either cat.

Sprawled full length
there’s still plenty of room
for the laptop.
Head hanging ten
off one ankle,
back feet bathed in
warm computer air.

Black and white fur
against crocheted
white blanket.
One eye closed,
one on the bird feeder,
an ear cocked
tracking the kitties.

Now and again a rise,
a big yawn and
a good shake,
then a muzzle stuck over
the top of the computer,
just to make sure Pop
is paying attention.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Kurt Vonnegut said,
“I tell you we are here
on earth to fart around
and don’t let anyone
tell you different;”
true enough, but
there is more to it.

Let there be peace.
Let there be peace on earth.

More than a day
or a season wherein
we sing words that
perhaps we do not heed:
They are not just songs
of auld lang syne
they are words to live by.

Let there be peace.
Let there be peace on earth.

Politicians speak of war,
economy, and law;
pundits of a better way:
Zealots know the only way,
if one is to be saved.

Let there be peace.
Let there be peace on earth.

I tell you that we
are all here to care
for one another
and for this earth
and don’t let anyone tell
you different.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What Cat Is This?

A paean to a fat kitty, to the tune, (Of course), of What Child Is This?

What cat is this who lays at rest
On the dog’s bed is sleeping?
Whom from his birth has gained great girth,
And now is fat and furry.

This, this is Orca boy,
Who eats and sleeps and plays with toys;
Haste, haste, to bring him treats,
The Becky, the Walrus Kitty.

Why lies He so all day long,
Rising only for feeding?
Good Christians fear to draw too near
When Becky Boy is feeding.

This, this is Fanger Boy,
The fattest of all kitties.
Hail, hail his furry gut,
The Becky, the Walrus Kitty.

So bring Him kibble, water and treats,
Come feed him in the kitchen;
The bleat, the meow, the switching tail,
Let food and leavin’s surround him.

This, this is Walrus Cat,
Who’s belly is soft and oh so fat.
Scrub, scrub his furry gut,
The Becky, the Walrus Kitty.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Monique rolls her eyes,
shakes her lovely head, says,
“You are such a boy;”
and notes that
her heart is within.
True enough, but still;
is exquisite wrapping not
essential to the gift?

The Old English root,
brēost, implies
the center of emotion;
and most certainly,
this has never been lost
upon artists across the ages…

Granted, there are other meanings;
the working face of a mine or
an open-hearthed furnace;
sailors breast off a pier,
and mountaineers a peak,

That gentle swell,
this graceful curve
is not only a delight to the eye
but an ember for the heart.

Ventanas del Alma

She painted live,
on a river bank
high meadow
or a farm wall
in an Italian village;
the memories
hang on the walls
of my home.

Blue water checked
by current and sun
flows by nodding grass;
deeper green downstream
speaks of slow water
and basking turtles.

Sun slants and falls
on yellow enamel pitcher
and tubes of Grumbacher;
this is the paint she always used.
Brushes dry in a ceramic cup
we bought in Naples;
I built this studio for her.

On our bedroom wall hangs
the one she painted from
a mind’s eye snapshot;
highway turned to dusty trail
wreathed in sage.
Windblown wheat laps
like water in a pond.
Hazy view northward whispers
of the Okanogan.

Above it all blue sky wheels,
turns to gray and black
as the storm comes on.

Change Notice

May The Old One
grant me
never loosing track…

Of a dropping barometer
the mood of a room
the stillness of sunrise.

Bird song
wind sigh
star light
my lover’s eyes.

Sunlight on water
wind through trees
fragile blooms
clear, sweet air.


Monday, November 23, 2009


Cats have target acquisition
and lock;
“I got tone, I’m takin’ the shot.”
and the best living room
sun puddles are toast.

Bandit hangs ten off the couch
staring at his chewy on the floor,
too lazy to retrieve it.

Birds cluster on the feeders,
wearing leather bomber jackets
and smoking buttless Camels,
talking shit
as you pass.

Cold-stoned honey bee
on the window sill
waiting for sunlight.

Dog day don’t need
an afternoon;
the recliner calls now.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Someone broke into the Smithsonian,
stole the Hope Diamond,
but it turned out to be
costume jewelry.

The marble walls
of Fort Knox
are painted plywood;
inside, ragged stagehands
sprawl on a trash-strewn
concrete floor
smoking discount cigarettes.

Humvees don’t fit
through the tunneled out
giant redwood,
and besides,
we’ve already seen one…

Texas oil wells
pump Dr. Pepper,
but they don’t make it
with real sugar any more.

The land o’ lakes
has gone dry,
the butter
churned into

There’s no more penny candy
and the free lunch
is a half eaten cheeseburger
left on a park bench.

Law of Parties

Two men enter
one man inside
two men leave
one man dies.

Democracy wakes on
a crisp fall morning,
heads outside with
a steamin’ cuppa joe
stops at the wood pile,
selects a nice four by four;
it’s time to whack the people
upside the head.

The Parole Board,
recently fitted with shock collars
turns thumbs up,
but Der HairenFuhrer
ain’t havin’ any o’ that;
his finger hovers
above the remote.

He stabs the button and
in a swirl of spasmodic jerking,
their thumbs swing down.

Halleluiah choruses
echo from the capital dome;
the dry look has saved the day
once again.

Thank heck
for mindless automatons;
were it not for the
icy ones and zeroes
sluicing through their veins,
who among us would
make a sound decision?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


To equate
with occupation
is often
at best.

That said,
loss prevention
at Wal-Mart
may be
an exception
to the rule.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winter Sky

Gray that speaks
in whispers of
blue and white.

No bird chatters
no dog barks;
fitful semaphore
of branch on window
the only sound.

They may bear
fog, snow,
freezing rain
or cruel wind.

Everything waits.

Manichaean Slide

Which side
are you on,
tell me
which side
are you on?

Faith has
always told me
I am
you are
we are all
children of God.

I will not
be categorized
or defined
by stripe
or view.

It is
I am
you are
we are all
black and white
good and evil
right and wrong.

Duality exists
in the hearts
of those
who do not yet
see color:

I am
you are
we are all
of each other.

And that is
as it should be.

Isn't It Byronic

In my days,
I’ve been called
many things,
among them;

loose cannon,

there's a single word
to express
all that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Nutbaskets create
the largest ammo shortage
in twenty years;
they think Obama
is comin’ for their guns.

Legions of the brain dead
shy from flu shots
fearing a syringe
full of mind control.

Right wing extremists
systematically eliminate
moderate politics and faith.

Our towns are
endless strip malls, where
Megachurches preach
the gospel of selfishness.

Communities and schools
don’t teach; it infringes upon
our right to be dumbfucks.

Good neighbors are neither
seen nor heard.

Chris Rea said it best:
“This ain’t no upwardly mobile freeway,
oh no, this is the road to hell.”


I was in the solo stall
of the men’s room at work
contemplating natural process
when they walked in.

Two brothers,
perhaps four and nine;
They surrounded the pissoire.

In voices of satisfaction and joy,
I heard this exchange:

“We’re peein’ like men!
Are you peein’ like a man?”

“Yeah, like men!”
(Now singing sweetly)
“We’re manly, manly men
we’re peein’ like men,
manly, manly men!”

“Now it’s time to belch!”
(Several heroic efforts follow)

“Alright, buddy,
that’s enough belching.”

“OK, then it’s time to fart!”
(And the little one does.)

They carefully
washed their hands
and returned together
to the world outside.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Would we know a saint
if we saw one?

Mother Theresa
in the bowels of Calcutta
tired, gray, dressed in rags
doubting her faith;
would we know?

on Mount Verna
in the midst of a
forty day fast;
would we know?

John in the desert,
stinking hair shirt
with locust breath
and crazy eye;
would we clutch
our wallets
and hurry away?

They will be found
in jungle huts
desert wastes
and decimated villages
and have very little to do
with graceful spires
bejeweled halls
or comfortable privilege.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

North Rim Grand Canyon

We worked the lightning strike
overnight and finished it
late the next afternoon;
just before dusk
the next storms began building.

I’ve seen nothing
more violent than
monsoon season
storms over the canyon.

Clouds mount to
dizzying heights and merge;
puffy white goes grey
then black, green,
and purple
bruise tones…

Our pilot is likely
out of flight time and
cannot get us the fuck out.

Wind gusts pick up
brush and small trees
spin them crazily away.
The air is suddenly
forty degrees colder.

Then it goes quiet,
the smell of ozone
charged menace in the air.

Surrounded by walls
of storm cloud
closing in fast
the only light
a shaft of setting sun
from the west.

And from there comes
the faint thrum
of a chopper.
It grows louder;
our ex Vietnam evac pilot
has said to hell with regs
and come for us,
but it will be close.

As the big Bell 214
skitters toward us
the wind comes
from everywhere;
Jeff has removed the doors,
to reduce the wind’s effect.

He hovers a foot off the ground
looking straight ahead,
focused on not crashing.
“Get in, now,”
is all he says
and fourteen of us do.

I wind up in the copilot’s seat
slip on headphones
and look left.
Jeff’s hand relaxes
slightly on the cyclic
and instantly
we are flung airborne.

Looking down and right I see,
lit by that narrow shaft
of sunlight and
surrounded by the storm,
the faces of my cohorts
we left behind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hopi Country 1981

I had a two hundred dollar
seventy three Toyota Corona
faded pastel yellow
sanded rust spot
and primer grey.

I headed south in April
from Washington State
to Grand Canyon.
Cold giving way grudgingly
to desert warmth around
Kanab, Utah.

I cut east through Glen Canyon
rolled into Page, Arizona
ready for a cold beer.

Time on my hands
I chose southeast over south,
heading toward Canyon De Chelly.

North of Ganado,
a noise from the engine
grew slowly louder;
a little more oil,
a few more beers
took care of that.

West on State Hiway 264
across Kearns Canyon
First and Second Mesas
headed for Tuba City.

Somewhere in the middle
the engine sound swelled
to crescendo; steel shards
in a clothes dryer;
screams of overheated,
under lubricated metal
thrown in for good measure.

Between Hotevilla –Bacavi
and Monekopi, I coasted
to a stop
dead in the water
miles from anywhere
on a road that knew
about one car an hour.

A trucker stopped first
and allowed that he was
a pretty good mechanic.
I turned it over and
he smiled grimly, saying,
“Brother, you’re well and truly fucked.”

Next came a traveling salesman
who didn’t like my ragged look;
he left promising
to call my boss at the south rim,
but never did.

I sat on a sleeping pad
admired the rocks
listened to the wind
smelled sage,
mountain mahogany
and dry soil.
Next to me sat
a bottle of wine
and a .22 pistol.

Pulling the cork
with a knotted shoelace
I took a long pull,
stood, racked the .22 and
channeling Bill Mauldin
covered my eyes
and shot the Toyota twice
in the nose and put her
out of her misery.


Buying or selling
what you are
in the name of
honorable service
is about as low
as one can go.

in fact.
Gotta be deluded
or dumb

The question ain’t
why are some people
so smart;

why are
so many
so dumb?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vis Major

It’s evening, we’re alone,
the kid’s at work
critters outside

I sneak to her place
on the couch
snatch a kiss

She smiles.
I stroke a hip and
another kiss
then a gentle caress
of her cheek.

That’s when
she pulls back,
nose wrinkled
and says,
you’ve got onion hand!”

Three hours in the shop
a shower and
a hot tub and
they still reek.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Dreamed

I went back in time
and saw
the Grateful Dead play
in Boston
thirty years ago.

I was surprised that
they didn’t see
my modern ticket and money
and wonder aloud.

I sat on the floor
and watched.

Garcia played a guitar
with sympathetic strings.

His fingers moved with
subtle shifts and pressures
and made the music happen.

He asked me
to hang with them
smoke some hash
and party.

I am not sure
what it all meant
other than that
I was raised
in the 60s.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Eben;
it’s me,
you in thirty years.

I am sure you’re wondering
why the note:
Fact is,
I’m just feeling old and grumpy.

Now, I ain’t gonna make you rich
or save you from heartache.

That said,
I am gonna tell you
some important things,
so pay attention:

You do not know everything.

It is not all about you.

You’re wrong about faith.

Love is a two way street.

And last but not least,
being a good person
is the most important thing
you can ever do.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hale's Passage

Boat and paddle
tucked under an arm,
I walk down the beach.
Many years before
theirs were skin and bone
mine is fiberglass.

Dusk settles, storm rises;
strong south wind meets
strong north tide;
the half mile of ocean
between beach and island
is whitewater;
windblown froth off
stacked wave tops.

Sealed in
I slip into the fray.
Ferrying out,
mistimed moves spill me;
I roll upright and
shake like a dog.

I hurl downstream
in an aqueous world,
impossible to tell where
ocean ends and air begins.

Only when I turn back
toward the beach
do I see
I have not moved at all.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Dog Fight

On August 7th, 1942,
Pug Sutherland and
Saburo Sakai met
in the sky over Guadalcanal.

Sakai and his cadre
escorted bombers tasked with
attacking the U.S. naval invasion;
Sutherland and his fighter squad
were defending.

Having downed the
lead bomber, Sutherland was
attacked by three Zeroes.

Sakai came upon this scene and
was astounded by the grace of
a single Wildcat fighter
fending off three zeroes.

But, since two of those were
his young wingmen,
he waded in.

They fought long and hard
Sutherland’s Wildcat absorbing
incredible damage;
back and forth they dueled
broad axe against rapier

Sakai closed in for the kill, but
Pug hit the breaks and
Sakai slid by into
Sutherland’s sights.

He did not fire;
His guns were jammed by
a cannon round from
the bomber he
had shot down.

Sakai regained the six
saw that his foe was
badly wounded, but
Samurai duty prevailed.

As Pug pulled into a climb
Sakai shot him down.

Sutherland bailed out and
endured a day of greater terror on
the enemy held island but
was finally rescued.

Sakai went after more enemies and
found too many; a tail gunner on
a dive bomber shot him
through the head.

Half blind and delirious he
heard his mother’s voice
telling him which way to fly;
Five hundred miles later he
landed safely on Rabaul.

Both recovered and
returned to combat, but
they never met again.

Pug was killed in a
training accident in 1949 off
the Florida coast.

Sakai never flew again.
He renounced violence and
opened a print shop.

He went to America and
met his former foes including
the tail gunner who shot him.

Of the conflict, he asked
"Who gave the orders for
that stupid war?"

After a U.S. Navy formal dinner
given in his honor,
he died at 84.

Just before his death he
said "I pray every day for the souls of
my enemies as well as my comrades,"

Copyrighted © 2009 Eben M. Atwater - All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 25, 2009


Glenn Beck says
Obama has put us
on the road
to fascism.

Kerouac hears
and rolls over
in his grave.

Glenn wants
his country back;
his zombie throng
howls for blood.

Ginsberg hears
and his nervous
leg syndrome

Glenn asks Auntie
“how do I get in there?”
“Easy,” she sneers,
“Just pick a fight.”

he screams;
“Two men enter,
one man leaves!”

Obama smiles
even though
death threats
against him
are 400% higher
than when The Shrub
warmed that seat.

The ashes of
murdered abortion docs
moan in disbelief.

Beck lunges
with a chainsaw
but the Prez has
a brass whistle
that only Glenn
and a few other
local dogs can hear.

© ~ 2009 ~ Eben M. Atwater ~ All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dunraven Pass

A snarl of cars says
that the tourons have found grizzlies.

We stop to restore order
stepping out in crisp USPS greens.

The bears are foraging
in the meadows about
three hundred yards below the road.

The tourons crowd the road edge
cameras and binoculars bristle,
a danger only to themselves.

Then I see
maybe fifty yards above the bears,
a man with a camera and next to him
a young boy.

Deciding how to get them back alive,
the man picks up a stick
and snaps it in two.

The closest bear is easily a 600 pound male
he turns instantly toward the sound;
his eyesight is poor but his sense of smell excellent
He is scanning.

The crowd hushes;
even tourons smell danger.
Grizzlies usually don’t attack humans
but they sure will eliminate a threat.

I hiss at the man,
“Listen to me;
do exactly as I tell you.
Don’t turn your back on him.
Don’t run. Walk backwards,
slowly, towards me; do it now.”

As they start to move, the bear
gets target acquisition and lock
he is facing them, ears back;
This is not good. Even uphill
He can sprint at thirty miles an hour.

This day, this amazing stupid shit
and his terrified son live.
When he gets to the road
I ask him “Why did you do that?”
He smiles and says,
“I wanted to see how fast they could move.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gone Baby Gone

I watched the movie
I shouldn’t have.
I was a cop.

I understand
that things happen.
I know it’s real.

I’ve seen
too much
about what
humans do.

So have the kids.

Anything can recall it.


I couldn't do it now.

Be Afraid

Movers n’ Shakers from the right side
got together last week,
to talk about things to come.
They picked straws too see who
their next fearless leader would be.

Huckaby swung the biggest straw,
followed by Palin, Romney and Pawlenty.
Afterwards, they all signed a fat contract
to become the New Four Horsemen;
(Sarah didn’t mind the gender slip).

They called it The Values Voter Summit.
Their quivers were stuffed with magic arrows
to shoot down abortion,
safeguard religious liberties,
and slay same sex marriage.

‘Oh boy!’ I thought when I heard the news;
‘Somebody finally narrowed things down
to the stuff that’s really important for our
next government to stick their noses into.’

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Evenin'

One day, long ago and far away,
I decided that I could play in front of people,
but the fact is,
I was terrified.

The guy I was gonna play with
had been at it for a while;
He looked at my fear and said

“Do you know how many people
think they can do this and never do?
Never forget that you’ve got the balls to do it
and it’s their privilege to hear you play.

That was some thirty years ago
and I have been playing live ever since.

Now, every time I do it,
I paraphrase Ray Wylie Hubbard:

“Sometimes we're sloppy,
We're always loud;
tonight we're just ornery
and locked in the pocket.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009


An interviewer once asked Kris Kristofferson
which of his songs were his favorites;
he answered, “The ones where all I did
was hold the pen.”

In my life, I have written
maybe two good songs,
and a few poems.

Of course, I have written
far more than that...

What the good ones share is this;
none of them were really mine.

David Allen asks,
“When you have a great idea,
did it exist before you thought of it?”
The answer is, of course it did.

All we do is
pull them out of the ether.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Death Becomes Them

Some kill varmints for the sake of killing;
squirrels, chukkas, and the like.
I won’t blast tiny, furry beasts,
but I can appreciate the concept;
there are some creatures that need to die…

I’d start with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
As for how he’ll meet his final end,
how about a quick trip to the microwave;
pop goes the weasel!

Next comes the Snuggle Bear;
he gets a .223 right behind the ear as
he hovers oblivious over a load in the dryer...

Then it’s time for the Charmin Bears
(Why are there SO MANY bears
in shitty advertising anyway?!)
And yes, as a matter of fact,
I AM gonna whack ‘em right between the eyes
as they shit in the woods.

And last but not least,
Charlie The Tuna:
Sucker that he is, he bites
on a Skok's Bonito Deceiver
tied on a #1 hook;
sorry, Charlie…

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Prep Shift 6 am

naughty as a heart shaped
bed with magic fingers.

sherbet cool, rusty orange;
they cut funky
even if the knife is sharp.

vintage ‘50’s mint green;
Persians dry them to
spike the aroma and taste.

Each grape
a tiny sunset at sea;
dark purple almost black
fades to red, orange and
pale yellow.

Lemons in your face brash;
anything that color
must have grande cojones,
and they do…

cucumis sativis,
slice ‘em thin and
dry ‘em for bong hits.

Red onions lie in wait…
go ahead, cut us up;
you’ll taste them in the throat
without ever taking a bite.

Basil rolls over,
compliant to chiffonade
scent rich as new paper money.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Ladies

Miiyuki Hatoyama, the wife of Japan’s new Prime Minister,
says her soul flew on a UFO to Venus as she slept.
She noted that it was “Very green,”
but didn’t clarify whether that meant physically so,
or in the environmentally awareness sense.

Rumor has it that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford
was on the same flight; now he’s in deep kimchee again,
having lied about Argentina. His First Lady was incensed;
“You mean to tell me the sonofabitch lied about an affair
just to hide a trip to Venus!?
Aren’t you bastards all from Mars, anyway?!”

First Lady Michelle Obama gently shook her head
while weeding the White House victory garden,
and smiling a Mona Lisa smile.

France’s first lady declined to pose nude again,
noting that “That’s not in keeping with my new schtick…”

Meanwhile German First Dude Joachim Sauer
looks annoyed, as if someone holds a small turd under his nose;
“Vas? I am a Quantum Chemist! I got theoretical shtuff
whizzing here und there; I have no time for this crap!”
Angela smiles and nods and pats his arm affectionately.

All the while, in the background, Delbert McClinton sings
“Ain’t no doubt about it, she’s the same kinda crazy as me.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What Up, Greek Titans?

Socrates’ banished poets from his republic
‘cause they ‘portray falsehoods and
appeal to our emotions and baser instincts
in a corrupting manner.’

Plato agreed, adding that those pesky poets
were ‘only good for promoting petty emotions,
like anger and lust and love.’

So what the fuck, Fathers of Philosophy?
You egocentric pogues
puffing and preening
about your rhetorical prowess,
you got the nads to pan poetry?
Say WHAT?!

Last time I checked,
the primary definition of rhetoric
is ‘the undue use of exaggeration
and bombast’: Further down that
list comes ‘the art of prose’ and the
‘art of influencing the thought
and conduct of an audience…’

And you fuckers wouldn’t let
us into your playhouse,
laying claims of baser instincts,
you dust farting windbags?

Where I come from we call a spade
a fucking shovel:
You rubes didn’t dis us ‘cause
of baseness and crudity;
you did it because you knew full well
that we'd smoke you gilded lillies
at your own game.

Suck down some hemlock
and ponder that, you posers.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

La Familia Vigiano

Like his father
and his father’s father,
John Vigiano Jr.
joined the NYFD;
his brother Joe
the NYPD.

John Jr. was given
his Grandfather’s badge,
number 3436;
only those two
wore that shield.

Their dad,
retired with throat cancer,
spoke with his boys
every day they worked.

On the afternoon of
September 10th, 2001
he talked with John,
and the next morning,
with Joe, who told him
what was happening
and that he was headed there.
Both calls ended
with father and sons
saying “I love you.”

Both sons died that day.
They were 34 and 36 years old.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chia Obama and the Neuticles

Great band name?
Killer independent film?
No, it’s advertising!

Wondering what’s wrong
with the world today?
Look no farther...

For only nine ninety five,
you get a terra cotta bust
vaguely resembling El Presidente
that grows bright green hair.

You better pick your afro daddy
‘cause it’s flat on one side;

If that don’t float your boat,
how about Neuticles?
Faux testicular implant for
for your neutered pet.

Does your pup suffer from nad envy?
Put an end to that sad shit today
with Neuticles!

My fucked up country
according to the ad folks;
I think I’ll keep her!

Bandito Lyle

My pup looks like Lyle Lovett,
an unruly doggy fauxhawk
topping his mop

Tejas born and raised,
him up on his pony on his boat
probably makes good sense

In my mind’s eye,
seven pounds of Shih Tzu
leads an adoring Large Band,
strummin’ a vintage Gibson SJ.

Tapping the toes of custom Luccheses,
he is resplendent in
black piped, white western suit
and matching Mike’s Tom Mix hat.

Crooning into a Shure 97
he winks at the girls,
eye fur carefully trimmed.

I’d buy good tickets
for that show.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lester W. Polsfus

A chunk of four by four
became the guitar
that made rock roar.
The Les Paulverizer,
overdubs, delay, phase,
multitrack recording.

Duets with Mary Ford,
Les Paul Now,
Chester and Lester,
Monday nights at Iridium
with Lou, Nicky and John.

Always a player,
a spirit like his,
so rare.
Ninety four years
we were blessed.

Vaya con Dios
old friend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dans Les Herbes

In the weeds,
dans le merde…

In restaurants from
Mickey D’s to Le Bernardin,
they know what it means.

It can happen because of too many customers, or
you may know exactly who caused it
sometimes even before they do.

One can fall in, or start in.
The best day
can go to shit
over one bad plate,
one burned sauté.

Once you’re in, all you can do
is put your head down
and work like hell.
You might get out, you might not.

Some get scared, some get mad
some go to the bathroom
and never come back.
But everyone will
get caught by the beast.

Critter Haiku

Rat dog snores on couch
cats slumber on floor and shelf
I can't resist them

Friday, July 31, 2009

In a Mirror, Darkly

Have you checked your reflection lately?
really checked it
staring intently
when no one else is at home?

No disruption
so you can stare
for as long as it takes?

If so,
how do you look?
Who do you see?

I did today
it gave me pause
but I am not entirely unhappy
with what I saw.

All the life that I thought
had been excised,
was still there.

What I thought I had become
was not quite there yet
though there were signs...

In the end
I can be hopeful
of what may be,
wary of what has been
and perhaps smarter
for having seen both.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why Newspapers Fail

I have been a fool,
believing that journalism
is the reporting of news.

Eyes wide open,
I find that it is actually used
in its pejorative sense;
unmistakably slanted,
sloppy, superficial writing
done solely to further
the sociopolitical, monetary, or religious
plans of the overlords.

When times get tight
the first thing to go is substance,
leaving us with lists of who killed who,
who screwed who, who’s pretty and who’s not.

And they seriously wonder
why we’re not interested anymore?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dumbing Down

A fledgling poet,
I learn slowly but surely
to pare down,
to say only what must be said.

In that vein, I search for a word
to summarize the ills of our world.

I find it in menticide,
the systematic undermining
of a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and values.
It comes from the Latin for ‘mind killing’

As Walmart and X Box replace
market and entertainment,
Starbucks and You Tube replace
neighborhood and community,
computer and television replace
conversation and reading,
We become one close-knit world of idiots.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let The Day Begin

She was a nice girl from a close, loving family,
a cheerleader and National Merit Scholar in high school.
At nineteen, she managed a local grocery store and by 23,
all the stores in the area.

Happy, successful, popular and positive
she had a wonderful life right up to the day
that some asshole introduced her to cocaine.

For her, like so many,
coke was a siren song that could not be ignored.
Overnight, life changed from dream to nightmare.
She lost her job in a little over a year
but being resourceful business woman
she knew she could sell coke
and maintain a lifestyle and a habit.

She was not the kind of girl to be
satisfied just stocking the produce aisle, so to speak
she was more interested in wholesale volumes.
This is when, as a narcotics Detective in
the local drug task force, she came onto my radar.
The smallest thing she slung was an ounce;
she could be counted on right up to kilo weight,
with consistent and impressive quality.

We caught her in a roll up from street level.
Once we knew what we had, we took our time
made several buys from her, had things well sewn up
before we smashed through her front door
and put things to an end for the time being.

She was polite, friendly, honest and still had a sense of humor
although she had segued to shooting the shit
into her veins to get her required dose.
Of course, it didn’t get her high any more
it just kept her from feeling as shitty as she would
if she tried to stop.

She understood that we’d be taking her house
and her car and that she would be going to jail.
She was a perfect adversary; smart, accepting of the risk
willing to take responsibility for her actions.

She was out in something less than two years,
on good behavior, of course.
I became aware of her again when all of a sudden,
familiar patterns of sales and weight and players
reestablished themselves.
I knocked on her apartment door one day
she was genuinely glad to see me, still friendly and cordial.
We spoke honestly, and I told her I’d be after her again.
She smiled and nodded and gently patted my arm,
saying “I know what you have to do.”

I asked her why two years hadn’t cleaned her up
and she blushed and shook her head, saying
“Because I know it’s still there…”
I left my card, and feeling really badly, left.
The shit was killing her quicker than either of us knew.

After that, she paged me now and again, and we talked.
I told her how dangerous the business was.
She agreed and explained that this was why she always
kept a “Coke Boy” around; a non-aggressive young man
almost equally addicted, whom she got stoned in exchange
for company and tacit protection.

She now had a bald spot on the top of her head
from her tearing her own hair out
in frustration and pain when she could not
raise a vein to poke. The last time we spoke,
I told her I was afraid someone was going to kill her.

About a week later, we overheard a call for patrol,
a Trouble With a Guest report at a local hotel,
that prompted the well experienced Officer
to call for the Sergeant shortly after his arrival,
with a tone of voice that chilled us to the bone.
With cop sixth sense, I looked at my partner
and said “Oh shit, it’s her.”

It was: Someone had bashed her brains out
with a champagne bottle and left her in the room
taking her money and her coke. Of course,
it ended up being her little coke boy
that we eventually arrested for murder.

The night we found her, I searched her apartment
feeling angry and sick and responsible.
Sixth sense sent me to the stereo.
I opened the CD player and found a disc by The Call.

The first song was called Let the Day Begin.
I punched it up and listened to the chorus;
Here’s to you my little loves, with blessings from above
now let the day begin.
Here’s to you my little loves, with blessings from above
now let the day begin, let the day begin. let the day start.

I took the damn disc, put it right in my pocket.
I own it still, that exact same disc.
I still feel chills down my spine when I play the song.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tag, yer it.

My friend Dave tagged me with the following challenge: Come up with a set, (or sets), of four things that have something in common. There is no restriction on the number of sets, but you gotta come up with original topics and then tag someone else. I am tagging Del Cain and Steve Mann via Facebook, (They're fellow poets, they aughta bite on this...

Here is my four:

Sid Abel
Ted Lindsay
Igor Larionov
Brendan Shanahan

What are they and what's their connection? They are Detriot Red Wings Wings who won Stanley Cups! And yes, wings twice in a row is purposeful - They were wingers, as opposed to centers, defensemen, or goalies.

Sid Abel was the third member of the legendary Production Line with Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe. Igor Larionov was one of the first of the famous and hugely talented Russian players to come to the NHL and succeed, at 31 years of age. Brendan Shanahan is the epitome of a grinder; not flashy, maybe not famous, but always there, scoring consistently, and a tough two-way player.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twisted Esoterica

Do birds whack off?
Are cows romantic?
If mosquitoes have the largest wangers,
do the blood sucking ladies
equate foot size to shlong?

Do bees even have knees?
How does one quantify a cat’s meow?
Is wherever birds of paradise live
exactly that?

When dogs bark together,
are they talking, or is it more akin
to the seagulls from Finding Nemo
calling “Mine?”

What exactly should I do
with your drift, were I to catch it?
And if you really hope to say,
then why the hell don’t you?

Are crazed bitches really rabid?
Do bastards truly not have moms?

Where did ‘Bless her heart’ come from,
when what is really meant is
‘She can’t tell her ass from a hole in the ground?’
And what shall we make of someone
who really can’t tell that difference?

When the cows come home,
do they know they’re there?
Just how much of a chance
does a snowball in hell have?
Has anyone ever really amputated
a body part just to spite their face?

Why in the hell would a bird in the hand
by worth two in the bush when all they’ll likely do
is poop on you?

And finally,
if it really don’t beat all,
are we in trouble?

Above the Dark Side of the Moon

Above The Dark Side of the Moon

Forty years ago I slept soundly
in the screened porch of a ramshackle cabin
fitful south by southwest breeze blowing
glare of the lighthouse beacon
turning like clockwork across the wall.

Sixty miles above the far side of the moon
Aldrin and Armstrong sailed a fragile boat of gold foil
and stared at fields of boulders below.

On the appointed day, we joined lobstermen
and the sons of lobstermen dressed
in their Sunday finest,
and paraded to an old two story house
gingerbread trim worn by weather and time.

Invited by twin spinster sisters,
who owned one of the two TVs on Swan’s Island,
we filed in to behold it,
doily topped and dusted in the spotless parlor.

With drama tense as Hitchcock
we watched anxious faces at Mission Control
chain smoke violently as their boys’ fuel ran low
I clutched my model of the shuttle from 2001 A Space Odyssey
solemnly noting the difference between
slick craft and baling wire and duct tape Eagle.

Above the Sea of Tranquility,
the boys were jolted by an alarm so esoteric
no one knew what it meant until a young engineer
determined it was a computer
shrieking of command overload.
“We’ve got you,” Houston assured finally,
“We’re go on that alarm.”

I watched Adam’s apples bob under
stoic New England faces of men
who routinely faced death in lobster boats
so Boston fat cats could enjoy their three pounders.

Meanwhile the computer lead the lads ever closer
to moon rock shoals; so Armstrong,
heart skipping along at 156 beats per minute
did as any pilot of old; he took the con
calmly announced, “I found a good spot,”
and brought the Eagle safely in to her berth.

As I watched a tiny bouncing figure descend
to the moon’s surface, I thought of how much
it looked like the marionettes from Stingray,
almost expecting Armstrong to turn and say
“Stand by for action!”

But of course instead he spoke poetry
though it was Buzz Aldrin’s comment
upon his first view from the surface
that I recall most; he called it
“Magnificent desolation.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Ours is a neighborhood of little boxes
a Bradford Pear in each front yard.
Five or six different house designs,
alike enough that more than once
I have turned into the wrong driveway.

Yet our ticky tacky box has been transformed
by the soul and hands of a woman:
Her vision created an oasis in the suburban desert,
The mundane swept away by verdure.

In front, ground covers overrun the crushing symmetry
of concrete sidewalk; layers of green and flowers
taxing the checker board norm.
To enter the house one must brush aside Oleander;
staid front porch has become a home to Mourning Doves.

Inside, gentle yellow scrubbed away the industrial grey/white.
Rugs of brick red and blue and green cover the tan.
Plants tumble over the ledge above kitchen cabinets,
bookshelves and counters; each corner and nook an invitation
to sit and read, listen and feel. Catnip sits by the back door.

In back is her true heart; veggies and herbs layer and flow
with flowers and trees. Greens, tans, reds and flecks
of bright rock rose bask. Birds, cats, dog and I revel
in the rustle of pampas grass, the tap of oleander on glass,
the smell of tomatoes, peppers and basil warmed by morning sun.

In the Texas summer, you can smell and feel
water in the birdbath, moisture from the maples;
watch greens ripple across wind tossed foliage.

She is my partner, but even if my view is biased,
the critters aren’t wrong.
These beasts are drawn here as I am
by sensations of peace, created from love.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

That Guy

The guy who takes
brand new shopping carts at the factory
and fucks up one wheel
so that they thump with dependable annoyance.

The guy who jams the works of the meter at
the only open parking space
for blocks and blocks.

The guy who removes,
before final packaging and shipping,
that one tiny screw from the item
bearing those three terrible words,
some assembly required.

The guy who designs tops for salt dispensers
that pour enough at a single shake
to make your food inedible.

The guy who adjusts
the power window switch
on your car so that it fails
the day your warranty expires.

The guy who writes
the unimaginably difficult directions
for doing something simple that you need
to be able to use your new computer.

I don’t ever want to be that guy.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Were there no Babe, Henry Louis Gehrig
would be the player all fans remembered.
Regarding his baseball career, perhaps
New York Times writer John Kieren said it best;
“He was there day after day and year after year.
He never sulked or whined or went into a pot or a huff.”

In a seventeen year career, he batted .340, with a .632
slugging percentage. He averaged over RBIs a year.
He hit 496 home runs. He played in 2,130 consecutive games,
a record broken only recently by Cal Ripken.

Seventy years ago, on the forth of July at Yankee Stadium
Lou Gehrig said a few words, among them, these;
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading
about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself
the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
This from a man who was informed that the disease he had,
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, had no cure and was fatal.
The disease remains so to this day.

Lou was many things; professional, capable, amiable,
exciting, dependable, explosive: No athlete in any sport
ever comprised the complete package this man did.
Yet to this day, what Lou did for ALS shines brighter
than his amazing career.

Every day, fourteen people are diagnosed with ALS;
all of them will die within three to five years of that day.

Lou’s example brought appreciation for life to even those
who suffer from ALS. In front of sixty thousand fans,
he chose to accent the positive instead of the negative.

May we who are so much more fortunate,
never forget this gracious lesson.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Super Group

I know that there is one hell of a fine band
in Heaven, Nirvana, Valhalla, Olympus, wherever…

Were one given celestial production powers
to bring back anyone for a one night spectacular,
(Held at the Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island, of course),
who would the players be?

Hard decision, because they’d have to surpass
genre and age. Nonetheless, I’ll take a stab at it.

On drums, Bill Kreutzmann;
granted, he’s still alive, but he played with the Dead
so long that departed band mates wouldn’t bother him a bit.

Percussion is easy, Eddie ‘Bongo’ Brown from
The Funk Brothers; is there anyone else?

Now vibes, ‘cause they sound so cool, and of course
those would be handled by Mr. Lionel Hampton…

For keyboards we dip back into the living;
thank God Booker T is still among us.

A harp player is a must have, if for nothing else
so that we have an excuse to provide a green bullet
for someone to blast into: Paul Butterfield gets the nod.

And bass well, I’d have to snag a second
Funk Brother, the superlative James Jamerson.

Now for guitarists two is just right, and we need a pair
who will breath fire when they play together;
Charlie Christian and Stevie Ray Vaughan – Can you imagine?

And for sangers, well, you just gotta have two here as well,
one from each gender, to be fair if nothing else. I’d tap
one living and one dead; Lowell George and Joan Osborne…

Sit back, relax with a foo-foo drink at a round table
and let this vision wash over your soul, OK?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Is it true that some poets
prefer free verse because it negates
the constraints of punctuation,
or is it simply preferred
by the punctuation challenged?

Three periods in a row, AKA the ellipsis,
is my personal favorite.
I cheerfully admit to not only overuse,
but to improper use as well;
whereas I use it to denote a hanging thought,
properly, it indicates
the omission of material in a quote…

And let us address exclamation points!
F. Scott Fitzgerald said
that the use thereof was like
laughing at your own joke:
What then are we to make of those
who employ several in the same sentence!!!
Death by spear point is the only fit end.

Semi-colons are meant, of course,
to separate independent clauses
in compound sentences, however I question
whether most users know
what either the former or latter are...

Colons shall only be employed
between an independent clause and a list;
blah, blah, blah
etc, etc…

And dashes, what is to made of them?
In days of old, when knights were bold,
no spaces around them existed - But now,
they do, and either way, cutting a strong interruption
from the rest of a sentence is their only civil use.

Ah, last but not least, commas were born
to separate the elements of a series;
as such, would blah, blah, blah be allowable?
Probably not, says the Panda, who eats, shoots, and leaves…

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Good Walk Spoiled

To some it is lunacy,
whacking a tiny ball with a club,
ruining a perfectly good lawn.

To others it is religion
the high cathedrals in Scotland
the auld course at St. Andrews,
Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Prestwick.

I am Eben Monroe Atwater
of the Clan Munro
and this game is in my blood.
At five years of age I began,
with cut down clubs fashioned by my pop.

On a New England course built
over glacial moraines I learned the game.
To this day, I can hear my pop saying
“Keep your head down kid, you’re jumping all over it.”

I learned that “Aim for the brook” does not
necessarily involve actually
hitting the ball into the stream:
Drive for show, putt for dough.
Sandies, polies, and short putts
left in the leather.

Later in life, it was our chance to catch up,
with a flask of scotch, cigars
and trash talking thrown in for good measure.

Mom told me that dad always came back happy
from playing, telling her about the flowers
he had seen along the holes.

Pop is gone, so now it is chess on grass,
just me against the course
a bright Texas morning with a good friend.
Of course when I hit a truly good or bad shot
I glance skyward and smile.

Monday, June 08, 2009


In my cop days, on a Sunday evening, my bride
came down with a case of gotta haves for ice cream
so off we go to the tiny local market
at the north end of the lake.
We enter and no one else is there until
a scruffy young man arrives out front on a bicycle.

My sixth sense goes off, catching me off guard
as he enters; my wife sidles up and whispers
“Do you know that guy, ‘cause he sure is staring at you.”
Indeed, in the reflection of the ice cream freezer I feel
his eyes boring into my back.
I fish a couple pints out of cold slumber.

Walking to the till, he approaches,
cop sense tells me ‘interested, but not dangerous,’
so now I am curious. He says,
“Your name’s Atwater, you’re a cop.”
I say, “Yup, to both, who the fuck are you?”

Crooked smile, eyes crinkling he says,
“You don’t remember me do you?”
“No,” I agree, “But I should, shouldn’t I?”
“Probably” he nods, “Key Bank, on Lakeway, back in ’90?”
On goes the light and I step back, grinning,
“Okay, you’re the guy I caught, did the holdup with a hand grenade.”
“That’s me” he agrees, looking sheepish, “Just got out last week.”

“I’ll be damned,” I say, looking into his skull
past his eyes, “How are you doing?”
“Oh, I’m getting by” he offers, “Day to day you know…”
“I do,” I say, “I sure do. And I live around here, so…”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he smiles “That shit is long behind me.”
“Good,” I agree “And listen, take care of yourself, OK?”
“I will,” he nods, “Like I said,
that crazy shit is long behind me.”

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Back When I Had Hair

Back When I Had Hair

In the valley east of Spokane, on what was once
the main drag, a gangly strand of aging strip malls
and burned out hotels, one place stands out.

A life size sasquatch at roadside,
the red, white and blue concrete block building
the hand scrawled signs stating opinions on
politics and the state of the nation.
Look closely and you’ll see that this is a barber shop.

My style at the time was a number one guard
with an electric razor which, kinda like eggs,
is fairly hard to screw up, so I stopped.

Inside were bloated vinyl chairs,
ragged Playboy magazines,
combs in glass jars of mysterious blue liquid,
one proprietor and a one eyed orange tabby
with a place of his own in the corner.

I sat in the circa fifties astro chair
and ordered up my number one.
Like all good barbers he was a producer of stories
by virtue of the questions he asked.
From head to eye brows, moustache
to sideburns, he moved with an efficiency
from many years of practice.

I went back again and found him
funny, smart, and congenial.
At the time, I wrote op/ed pieces for the
local paper, so I wrote one on him.

A couple days later, I received an anonymous
letter from a woman who berated me for making
“That man look like a good guy.” After all, she noted,
he was a bank robber and a convicted felon.
He was in fact, “One of the Gentleman Bandits”
from California in the nineteen sixties; so shame on me.

During my next cut I remembered this and
mentioned it, my tone light and joking
as I though it should be.
My barber was silent for a long moment.
“Actually,” he finally said, “They called us The
Polite Bandits. Our guns were never loaded.”

He and a partner had conducted a half dozen
bank robberies in central California,
always well dressed, unfailingly polite,
never threatening or angry. The seventh attempt
went bad and the local police were waiting outside.

He served five of a twelve year sentence
with time off for good behavior.
Then, he moved north, and had been cutting hair ever since.

He spoke his piece about the government and his country,
without a care in the world.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Felix The Cat

Feed and Seed basks in the heat of summer
hay bales and barbeques outside
inside the smell of fertilizer cool in
the dim light of a sixties era strip mall.

Genuinely there for seed and feed, we divert,
because no trip is complete without cruising the critter section.
Past the ferrets and bunnies and the wall o’ pooches
stands a plexiglass tube four feet around
and six feet high, chock full o’ kittens.

Most of the citizens of this feline condo are perfect
So Cal examples of kittiness; tiny, ridiculously fluffy,
huge green eyes, like pictures of waifs
on the back cover of Readers Digest.
Tan and brown and white, they mew demurely and
bat their long kitty lashes at passersby.
Their magic is strong, they slay the adoring crowd
and fly out the door at forty five bucks a pop.

In the penthouse level of the condo lies a black and white form
easily four times the size of his comrades. Ungainly,
the antithesis of cute, when he sees Monica approach
he rises like an over the hill circus clown,
takes a surreptitious hit from his kitty hip flask
and prepares for one more go.

He locks eyes with her and she is done; he had her at hello.
He stretches gangly front paws towards her, ducks his head
and does the secret kitty dance of the many veils; she is smitten.
He poses, twists and fawns, his eyes never leaving hers,
look into my eyes pretty lady, for you are taking me hooooome.

“That one?” says the clerk with a tone bordering on
a sneer, “Really? You can have him for ten bucks”
and we do and before the trip home is half over
he is named Felix for obvious reasons.

Any owner of cats knows the jokes;
you are a can opener with legs,
dogs have owners, cats have staff…
Feline arrogance has earned this label
and no cat worth its fur will deny it.

But this was no ordinary cat.
With a new lease on life he grew fat and sassy
but never took it for granted.
If you were human and entered the living room,
no matter your standing in the pack,
his head rose from his favorite spot
under the coffee table and he locked eyes with you,
and in his best telepathic voice, said “Thank You.”

This he did for all of his days.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


In the morning I take our tiny dog out
to the backyard, with a cup of coffee.
I sit in river rock as he plays;
legs splayed out, I am his touchstone.
His explorations radiate out from me
in ever widening loops of investigation.

Meanwhile I admire the rocks
thinking back to college geology classes.
Mostly sedimentary and metamorphic
I hold in my hand a tiny vignette;
silts deposited in some ancient river, lake or sea.
The next one has tiny fossils, confirming the thought.

Meanwhile Bandit growls and tugs at
a Pampas grass many times his height
then an instant later, focuses on tiny sugar ants
weaving a cryptic path across the patio.
Anything and everything that he can bite or
chew is fair game; sticks tremble before him.

I sit in a multitude of colors like a paint display
at the hardware store, shades of browns, reds,
whites and pale yellows, occasional jet black and,
surprisingly, soft edged sea glass in bottle green,
morning sky blue, and rarer yet, orange and red.

Bandit returns to base camp, looks up at me
eyes as black as rock, then settles between my legs,
safe for a rest and perhaps a nap.
We both look out, content at our surroundings
and wonder where it all came from.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

My parents were the last generation
of my family to go to war.
As a cop I experienced combat and death
and this is where I learned
what it feels like to lose friends
in the line of duty.
This is nothing compared to war.

Perhaps you have a touchstone for this day or
as it has become for many
Memorial Day is just a three day weekend.

In this morning’s paper, there was a photo
of a young mom with her two small children,
planting flags and flowers in a cemetery.
The caption said she knew no one resting there.

When she was a little girl, her family took this day
as a time to honor those lost to war.
She wanted to teach this custom and hope
it would be remembered and passed on.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Apotemnophilia sounds terribly serious
and the word is in fact quite twisted.
One might think it means great love for a pharaoh
but the reality is far more pernicious.

It’s a word quite crude, twisted and strange
which is why I hesitate to state it;
it means that for sexual gratification
you wish your limbs amputated.

Now that is the case if it applies to you
there’s another if the subject’s your sweetie
if it’s them you want severed then what you got
is a case of acrotomophilia.

Memorial Day, Price, Utah

Down 191, between the Castle Gate and
Willow Creek Mines, passing
endless ore cars, air thick with
the sweet reek of coal, we are southbound
into the heart of castle country.

Crenellated high ground gives way
to broad valley, alluvial fans in tan and brown
like the delta of some great lost river
offering the gift of soil.

It is Monday and everything is closed.
Our car, alien Washington State plates,
the only one moving, our hopes for breakfast fade.
But Kokopeli’s Diner is open and friendly;
we ask, over omelets and pancakes
where everyone is. The waitress smiles
“It’s Memorial Day;” telling us all we need to know.

We tour the town through quiet streets
heading northeast where the map shows city parks,
and on E 400 Street we find the people.

The cemetery has a freshly painted fence.
Trees, a study in shape and swaying greens
against grays and blues of cloud and sky
frame stone, marker and monument.
Here are hundreds of flags, thousands of flowers
and most of the citizens, living and dead.

It is ghostly quiet; only wind and bird break it.
In the distance a dog barks once and stops
as if embarrassed. There are picnics and blankets
but conversation is too quiet for our distant ears.
We think about taking a walk but this
is an invitation-only party.


If you think about it, it’s pretty great
the ability to transubstantiate,
it’s not just about wafer and wine,
any ol’ transmution is fine!

Take Star Trek, for example, and Scottie’s transporter
scrambling the molecules of Vulcan and Doctor,
you needn’t be the son of God there to go,
as any loyal Trek fan would certainly know.

While Eucharist is by far the most famous
there are plenty of other ways to explain it;
Mix Bosco and milk and really quite suddenly,
you got you a transmutation most lovely.

Be it anger to mirth or batter to cake,
there’s dozens of avenues that one can take.
You don’t need fancy words or religion to discover
that it’s all about changing one thing to another.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

North Fork, Coeur D’Alene River

I visit the campground host in the morning
a nice old boy who sells flies and knows the river.
I bring coffee and donuts. I ask about a pool
upstream where it looks like big trout might live.
He allows that there just might be an 18” plus
cutthroat there and if a guy tied a hair wing Caddis in
cream he might just get a shot at him.

Sun slanting toward late afternoon I walk the road upstream,
rod in hand, vest on back. Air dry, hot, smelling of pine and fir,
gravel crunches under sandals, Steller’s Jays quarrel in the trees,
a flit of bright blue against deep evergreen. Small clouds
hug the mountain tops.

At the bridge, a solitary fisherman works the tailwater of
a small pool. A tattoo of a flicking line with a bright fly
graces his left shoulder. I ask quietly if he’s working downstream.
He smiles, shakes his head and says, “Nope, it’s all yours.”

I wade in, water cold and crystal clear over river rock,
set like tile mosaic. Weeds tug and wave, straining to go
downstream. The first pools are slender, undercut banks and
brush above make casting tricky. A roll cast flicks a Wooly Bugger
to the top of the lead, rod tip follows it down.

Approaching the pool the brush is heavy. The ground around it
is elevated and grassy; one cannot just walk in and cast, as trout
are not stupid and will see you. So I kneel and stalk in slowly
and quietly on my knees stopping half way to change flies to the Caddis. I rise slowly, head at grass top level and watch the pool for a time.

Several trout are feeding but when the big one joins in you can hear
the ‘glup!’ as he sucks in some unlucky bug. I watch him, ignoring
the rest, log his pattern and his timing. There will be only one shot
at him and if it is not just right he will be gone; he and I both know this.

The time comes and it is magic; a light wind ruffles the grass somewhere above a hawk screams. Time slows; I rise and flick the line, shadow casting twice to get where I need to be and then let it go and it shoots out, falling straight at the spot. Leader hits water and five feet further on, the Caddis lands perfectly, a juicy bug without a clue.

‘Glup!’ goes the water and I set the hook and he and I are now connected. The slow motion time has ended. Without hesitation he streaks for the tailwater which is held back by a rock ledge. Over he goes and is in to the next pool while I stand transfixed, line stripping out fast. I palm the reel and stumble to the rock ledge;
he is already at the tail of that pool and my line is into the backing.

I stumble down the ledge into the next pool but he is already below that and I am running out of line. I find purchase with my feet and begin to reel him in. He is coming back up slowly but surely, fighting the whole way. When I have moved to the tail of the next pool, he is half way down the one below that. He jumps and slow motion returns, a brilliant flash of silver, green and gold, droplets of water suspended like diamonds falling back to the creek and just like that, he is gone.

Just like that.

Freudian Slip

I dreamed of Monica and
I at a five star hotel
eating a sublime desert.

‘When You’re Smiling’
was playing and we sang
along with the other guests.

I was wearing
a red silk slip
with matching gloves.

Suddenly, George C. Scott
was beside me, saying quietly
“That’s quite a look.”

I explained to him that my wife said
I would make an ugly woman and
I was out to prove her wrong.

Now what do you suppose that means?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Skunk Works

Area 51, Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Groom Lake, The Box.
It is not on any official map. It is barely officially acknowledged:

It is there.

In ’82, a wildfire brought us to the Nevada Test Site.
Out of Las Vegas on 95, skirting the North edge of Death Valley.
At the end of a long dirt road, a small guard shack
stands in the middle of endless desert. All cameras and binoculars are confiscated. IDs must be shown, information is recorded. “Personnel Checks” are conducted. We wait impatiently for hours in the desert heat.

We are issued radiations badges and an escort is provided, two serious young men in black BDUs; no insignias or name plates, carrying H & Ks. The only answer to any question was, “I’m sorry, that’s classified.”

Long dusty roads across Frenchman and Yucca flats, miles and miles of barbed wire, warning signs guarding baked desert scrub, grass and dirt, landscape a palette of contoured mountain and ridge in brown and tan,
blasted by nature and man alike.

At the northeast corner of the Site, a base camp in the middle of nowhere.
Desert sun pounds everything. Camo netting over tables and tents,
a field kitchen, a silent and surly camp staff. It is all commanded by a man who looks like Lt. Hunter from Hill Street Blues. In the blinding heat, he wears a camo poncho over spotless nomex pants and shirt. He does not have a name. He smokes a pipe dramatically and incessantly. He is cordial in a hale-fellow-well-met Ivy League way, but says nothing of substance. His one cogent offering is an aside that, once we get to the fire, we “Might not want to breath too much of the dust.”

Our helicopter arrives, piloted by a cocky Viet Nam vet;
I luck out and sit beside the pilot with an excellent view.
On route to the fire, we come over a ridge, and suddenly
there are long runways and a large complex of buildings.
At the same moment, in my headphones I hear a voice calling us and identifying themselves as “Dreamland Base.” The pilot grins at me, his expression clearly dubious. He is given an alternative heading and told
to go there without delay. He is amused and hesitates in complying.
He is told a second time, with an added caveat to “Follow your escort”
As he asks, “What escort?” Two black, unmarked Cobra attack helicopters appear on either side of us, close enough for me to see
a front seat gunner gesturing angrily at where we are to go.

We land and offload with our omnipresent and armed escort and the chopper departs. Our escort paraphrases Lt. Hunter’s warning that we “Might not want to dig around too much,” so we sit and watch the desert burn for ten hours.
When our chopper returns, our pilot is cocky no more; he is quiet and angry and scared.

For three days, we watch the desert burn by day and return to camp by night. Our last night, we are given trailers at the Test Site. Huge doors in the side of a mountain, huge tunnels retreat into darkness. Each trailer has
instructions for response in the event of nuclear attack; on the pavement outside, glow-in-the-dark footprints lead to the tunnels. We are allowed into the rec center; no one speaks to us or looks our way and no one recreates.

The next morning, we turn in our radiation badges, retrieve our cameras, and leave confused.

Twenty five years later, I refinance a retired Lockheed Martin engineer. Conversation leads to the Skunk Works. I tell this story and answer some questions about what I saw. The engineer stares at me, fascinated, and says.
“My God, you were there.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rain Dove

Zenaida macroura,
Carolina Turtledove,
Mourning Dove.

Feathers shimmering
cream, fawn, gray and black
earth-toned stained glass.

The Oh woo–woo–woo–woo
a call to sleep,
or to wake.

Eye black as coal,
little black accent stripes
casually applied beneath.

Mammasita sits in a hanging planter
dark flecked tan pottery with a brown rim
a perfect compliment.

A patch of dusty rose on the neck
is the only way I can tell
male from female.

Seventy million killed annually for sport or food.
She sits on her second brood,
they will raise up to six a year.

Ten days ago, she hatched two squab,
perfectly camouflaged, ruffled feathers
the color of dirt and dry grass.
they flew off Friday
and have not returned.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

North Texas Rain

In Western Washington rain falls
like grass grows;
inevitably and often.

On the south rim of Grand Canyon
it rained so hard the road was a river
and a thousand waterfalls tumbled over the rim.

In the Mogollon range
a single storm snuffed
a thousand acre fire.

At three this morning the storm arrived
now rain beats a tattoo on a new roof,
a gift from last year’s hail storm.

The back yard is under water
lettuces and garlic submerged in their beds
river rock returned to its native state.

Our street has become a river
storm drains turned into waterfalls
just like that day at Grand Canyon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Nod To B. Kliban

The word of the day is brachiate
which isn’t what it sounds like.
It really means to swing a thing
and change the arm you swing by.

now certainly some of y’all
are gonna tend to reason
that a word that sounds like this one does
has somethin’ to do with breathin.’

When it's a verb, it means to swing
but there’s an adjective as well
yet contrary to common thought
it still won't make your lungs swell.

No, when used in its second form
it’s got serendipitous charm
‘cause when we say the word that way
it means you got two arms.

Edwin v. 2.0

Born in the Show Me state
the son of an insurance man.
As a youth, his interests
were entirely terrestrial;
jock, fly fisherman, boxer.

In college, the first hints of calling;
a frat boy studying math,
astronomy and philosophy.
One of the first Rhodes scholars,
British dress and manners
stuck with him all his life.

Mount Wilson was his laboratory;
the faint glow of his omnipresent pipe
reflecting the nebulae he studied.

In his day, scholars saw only one galaxy,
but he saw many.
From the Milky Way
to dozens of spirals and ellipticals,
he expanded the universe
galaxy by galaxy.

The Hubble Constant showed us
that all those silent stars
rushing away at terrible speed
expanding the universe ever farther.

He left us the Redshift Distance Law;
that caused Einstein
to declare his galactic fudge factor
the biggest blunder of his life.

His life star burned bright and fast
he was gone at sixty three.
There was no funeral.
His wife never revealed
what became of the body.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Born in the Show Me state
a jock,
a fly fisherman,
a boxer.

Frat boy,
Rhodes scholar
studying jurisprudence
then a Masters in Spanish.

A Major in the
war to end all wars.
And finally,
a doctoral dissertation
on faint nebulae.

Mount Wilson
was his lab and classroom,
his omnipresent pipe
a glowing beacon in the night.

The two hundred inch Hale reflector
allowed him to see farther
than anyone ever had before.

He died quite young,
but left us much,
not the least
the Redshift Distance Law;
it caused Einstein
to rescind his “galactic fudge factor”
and declare it
“the biggest blunder of his life.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

North Texas Wind

Flowing palette of green,
a flash of red Oleander,
swirl and tuck
like a flamenco dancer
fanning her skirt.

Early sky
worn denim
drying on river rock.

Scudding cloud,
hurried, distracted,
needing to be
somewhere else.

Everyone joins.
Grasses baroque, formal
Trees uninhibited,
a joyful paso doble.

Small birds make
lightning corrections,
countering each gust
to stay on course.

Rushing through
leaf and branch
sound like the speed
of a downhill run.

Chimes like
Russian bells
calling the faithful
to prayer.


I’ve always called it
or a ruse
if used in the legal sense;
is more accurate.

Perhaps disguising
our real agenda
is just
human camouflage.
Perhaps we’re childish,
standing beside
the broken vase
“I didn’t do it”

I am still dismayed
that this
sneaky little word
has become
the modus operandi
for church
and state.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Marjorie Jean

Elegance and earthiness.
Sense of humor
from William Buckley
to Monty Python.
Seeing life as opportunity
to appreciate and express.
Many gardens,
each a vignette of color and texture
an experience to see and smell and feel
and always a patch of catnip for your pals.
Simple food with a sense
of artistry to the ingredients and plating.
Heard Yes for the first time and
noted the classical influence.
Curiosity and fearless willingness
to try almost anything.
Appreciation for quiet, bird song
moving water, clouds and the
hush of wind through tall grass.
Her art fills my home
her lessons fill my life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I always assumed that flabbergast
was German or Dutch, like verklempt;
but it came from Sussex,
from the eighteen thirties,
a made up word,
the combination of flabby and aghast.

This truth does not overwhelm, shock, or surprise,
it does make one ponder how such a word
not only came about, but thrived.

That said, forgive me if I wish
that some of our modern variations,
like dude and cube farm
do not survive the next two hundred years.

Friday, May 08, 2009


I’ve been incorrigible
but the things I do,
like demonstrating that
I love my wife madly,
firing up the power chord
from Won’t Get Fooled Again
at daybreak, at volume 11,
playing the rhythm riff from La Grange
when warming up a church band,
I don’t feel at all bad about them.

I am verging on old dogdom
but I’m still trainable,
capable of being corrected.
I would hate to be so smug
that I believed I had it all down.

So don’t hesitate to try.
Offer a tasty treat
or rub my belly when I roll over;
I’m sure I can learn to shake.


I Pray for a day when
even in the Bible belt,
people won’t ask
“What faith are you?”

I pray for a day when
any and all derivations
from Anabaptist to Zoroastrian
no longer justify terrible wrongs
by claiming they are called by God.

I pray for a day when the term
corporate worship is replaced
by people together doing what is right.

I pray for a day when what it is really about
is no longer money and power.

I pray for a day when,
as we should with our government,
the people take back what is theirs
and remake it into what it should be.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


1969 and the Easy Rider poster
hung in a place of honor
in my bedroom,
right beside the dayglo peace sign.

But imagery was not enough
we needed the thrill of the open road.
So we chopped the front forks of our banana bikes
and then, we could pedal like Hopper and Fonda,
with faded paisley bandannas around our heads.

Naturally, we had to try Nashawtuc hill.
My turn and the thrill of wind and speed
was overtaken about half way down
by an ever increasing wobble in that chopped fork.
Catastrophic failure spilled me
ass over teacups onto the pavement.

I remember lying stunned
then being swept up by the
Nelson’s blonde, tanned au pair
who ran with me to the house
murmuring something in Norwegian
that I am sure was comforting.

I was nine years old
had broken my nose and two teeth
but the memory that stands out
is that this was the first really pretty girl
to hold me to her breast.

Friday, May 01, 2009


The age old question;
does evil exist?
Oh yes, indeed it does…

I am often torn
whether to tell a story
by illustration or word.
When it comes to this,
I cannot repeat the things
I have experienced.

Cops and soldiers see things you don’t.
We are paid to go where you will not go,
to deal with things you are not equipped to deal with.

The scars are neatly categorized as PTSD,
or some other catchy psych term.
The reality is nightmares that do not easily fade.

I cannot say why people do the things they do.
I do not understand hatred, or callousness,
or even madness that leads to true evil
I know only that it does and that I fear it deeply.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


He hired many of us.
A quiet man,
so quiet that when my time came
I had to ask him to repeat that I was in.

The stories are legends,
slow to move, speak or act
until angered or provoked,
at which point,
the results were stunning.
Terry cold cocked in a fight,
badly outnumbered, lying stunned,
seeing long legs wading in
huge fists cocked and pumping,
plowing the way to rescue.
The burglar who spit and ran
and evoked a roared, “He’s mine!”
and indeed he was...

Son of Ole and Gurina
from Flekkefjord, Norway.
They rest in the Saxon Cemetery
and in late 1994,
their only son rejoined them.

Silver Spoon

Like Orwell at Eton
I attended an institution
to which I did not belong.
Sure, my folks paid the same tuition other parents did,
but that is where the similarity ended.
I was not the son of a bank president,
or the scion of old money from origins
long forgotten by the current holders.
Yes, I lived on a street where people
drove to look at the houses
but I had torn the bread bag insulation from the walls
and pulled up witch grass by hand
to restore it to its former glory.
Across the street, one Christmas morning
twin Mercedes sat gleaming,
huge red ribbons tied around them.
I’ve never known that kind of gift.

Caisteal Foulis na theine

I am Eben Monroe Atwater
of the Clan Munro,
but like residents of the Humane Society
I am a mutt, a mix, a hybrid.
Mom was born a Langston,
of the Minschalls and Langstons,
Dad an Atwater, from Atwater
and Van Vaulkenburgh,
so really there you have it,
a mélange of English, Scots,
Dutch and Welsh, leading to me.
Pride caused my tribe’s sign to be
engraved upon my shoulder
but like clothes, customs, language
and everything else,
the blender of time and place has
spun me down the generations
to who I am today.

Fart Anon

Group Therapy

Hi, I’m Eben
and I’ve been fart free
for two weeks now.
I’ve always been a farter,
though I don’t really know
why I got so caught up in it.
Somewhere growing up,
the disconnect for such things
just never kicked in.
I mean, I know that a
mature adult shouldn’t giggle
about farting in the grocery store
or giving the wife a dutch oven
but I… I just couldn’t stop.
Eventually, I no longer cared
about being clever and just let ‘er rip.
The hollow ring of my laughter
followed by resounding silence
at a packed 9:15 service was the trigger
that made me realize I needed help.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009



As I sit typing, she is patting my arm
with her paw. Her throaty purr
fills the quiet room, eyes
yellow green, big as an owl’s.
When we first met, eleven years ago
her Siamese mom brayed,
her dorky orange tabby brother
gamboled, and she sat, big eyed
and too cool for the people.
Now in her eighties people-year-wise
she looks at me with love
and purrs all the louder.
She is still kittenish from time to time
flopping on her side and showing off
her fine gray belly fur;
I have tied Rim Chung’s RS2 trout fly
with that fur for fishing the Guadalupe.
She is stuffed between recliner and couch section,
hard against my leg with her chin resting on my laptop.
When I first met Monica, Moose challenged her
as alpha female. Eleven years later, she grudgingly
acknowledges Monique as materfamilias.
I will miss her terribly when her time comes.

Never Work a Job You Hate

I have dabbled in two
of the worst offenders in this regard;
selling manufactured housing,
AKA trailers,
and home mortgages.
It is hard to describe the miasma
one must float in to do these things.
Suffice it to say,
you must suspend your humanity
and operate purely from baser instincts.
Herein is a world where the kind of person
you truly despise excels
and is venerated by the powers that be.
Imagine the worst bully from your school days,
the one who purposefully and repeatedly
hit you in the nuts during dodge ball
as the hero of your workplace
and you get a notion of the horror.
Conjure in your mind’s eye
the most small minded,
mean spirited shell of a human
you have ever encountered;
this will be your boss.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

About Sestinas

Six Random Words

I have just begun
writing poetry
so a friend guides me.
One day he said,
“I have to work on
this one some more.”
I looked at my effort,
a few words spilled
across the page;
I thought, what’s to work on?
Now I understand.
Then came the Sestina,
six random words
rotated through
six stanzas
turned into couplets
for the seventh.
“Dumb,” I thought,
“I’ll just pick six words,
slap them up there
and be done with it.”
So I did just that.
Then I read it again
and thought, “Hmmmm
what if I just…”
and an hour or two later,
I was more or less hooked.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Today's prompt - Longing!

Beach Glass

For a long time
I dreamt of the past.
Now I dream of you:
I see you sitting
graceful, long legs
weeding a planting bed
your expression serene
your eyes far away.
But in the dream
I cannot open the door
and join you.
I wish my subconscious
were not so morose.
In time, old fears will wear away
like beach glass.
The jagged edges of my dreams
will become smooth.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today's prompt was miscommunication...

Help Line

“Thank you for calling employee services
how may I help you today?”
“My paycheck, it came through blank
I have no pay, it’s Friday,
I need to buy food…”
“Oh, I see, and let me say,
I am very sorry for the incovenience
and I wish to assure you
that I will do everything in my power
to correct this problem.”
“OK, well, that’s the problem,
and it’s 3 pm on Friday here, so…”
“I understand completely,
however, let me just access
your account to confirm a few things
would you mind holding
just for a few moments?”
“OK, I am back, and here is the problem;
there has been an issue within your
account and you have not been paid.”
“AH, YES, that’s right, that’s what I told you.”
“Yes, indeed you did and you are
most correct in this regard.”
“Well… Can you fix that?”
“Oh well, I am regretful to say that from where I am
I cannot make a new check for you, no.”
“Is there somebody there who can?”
“No, I am afraid not, you see, here
it is Saturday morning and no one
who could do such a thing is here.
In fact, Sir, even if it were Monday,
there would be no one here
who could do this thing for you,
I am so very sorry...”
“OK, well, is there somebody…
Is there somebody somewhere else who could?”
“Oh yes sir! Undoubtedly the accounting
department within the company’s main office
is capable of correcting this,
most certainly!”
“Whew, OK, well I was worried there
for a minute;
can you connect me to them?”
“Sir, most unfortunately,
I cannot, because you see
they are on your east coast, and
it is already six in the evening…”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Event; title is the event!


The sun is high, building clouds
speak of thunderstorms,
far away and harmless for now.
Thirty five hundred feet below,
the Columbia is half a mile wide,
cobalt blue, streaked white from boats
like contrails in a clear sky.
Dust devils skitter below,
hinting of rising air.
Wind in the face and it’s time.
Flick the wrists and the wing rises
like a Phoenix, poised, waiting.
Three steps toward the cliff
and you’re gone.
Settle back into the harness,
check things over
lines, risers, wing.
Now it is time to join the hawks.
Wing ruffles hard crossing into a thermal.
Rising fast for a moment until it dies.
Another is not far away.
Climbing until friends at the launch
are as small as the boats.
Landing softly back at the take off
grinning and looking down toward the river.
There is one more flight yet to make.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The prompt was travel in some form...


We drive south down Arizona
to Ramsey Canyon and
then we’re on foot
with our gear on our backs.
We head into the mountains
Almost to Mexico, but desert
gives way as we climb,
Prickly Pear and Agave
to hardwoods and firs.
When we find the fire,
there are millions of lady bugs.
We have stumbled into their annual orgy.
they coat tree limb and trunk
thousands upon thousands
the ground is carpeted with them,
All frantic to mate and irked by our intrusion.
their bite is like a tiny point of fire
they boil like fire ants from a kicked nest.
For two days, we fight fire and bugs
never sure of which is the greater enemy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

About Regret

Father’s Past

Blue haired church ladies
wine and dine him.
Bible study groups hang on his words.
In the twilight of his days,
the joy of litany and tradition
still shines in his eyes.
Yet his sermons speak only
of days long passed.
Marriage lost
a child that died too soon
Ivy League schools
tennis played in dazzling whites
on manicured grass courts
a suit and tie life in corporate America.
If what we do is who we are,
is it ever enough?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

About Work


She arrives when the priest is not in
there is only a secretary who knows
why she is here.
Her needs are valid but
she upsets the balance of charity
with too many requests.
She launches her rap
but the secretary is a high wall
over which she will not find her way.
She asks when the priest will return
gets a vague and evasive answer.
She tries one last time, asks
the secretary to buy her a cold soda.
Voice thick with disdain, the secretary
says she carries no cash.
Defeated, she leaves
her day is not yet half over
this stop has cost her two bus trips and
two miles of walking in ninety three degree heat.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Haiku and a piece about Haiku!

Twisted Hackberry tree
in shadow reaches for sunlight
it will fall before then

Haiku Has No Title

The form brings to mind ornate joinery.
Only precise angles and cuts
hold a structure together.
There is no waste allowed
no excess.
Everything has meaning
it must be flawless.
Like meditation it is
simple in concept
but difficult in execution.
It is far easier to
contemplate clearing the mind
than to achieve it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

About Rebirth

One Body

She is tougher than anyone I know
For at least ten years, the cancer has tried to kill her
but she fought it off
I knew that night in the studio that things were bad
because of what she left unsaid
Her tone was apologetic,
as if to say, I’m sorry
I’m not going to win this time
It was the last time we saw her in a chair
now, she will not rise from bed again
In church yesterday that thought overtook me
I stepped outside during the Prayers of the People
Leaning on an iron rail I looked up into an Oak
bright spring green spread across its branches
origami leaves unfolding.
Some branches died over winter
but the body is sound
and it will renew itself year after year
long after she and I are gone.

Check Out Kate Hearne

I added a link to Kate's blog today; she is a fantastic guitar player, singer, songwriter who's just starting on her upward curve to great things in the music world.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Angry Poem...

Thank God for the Darwin Awards.

Six fifteen Sunday morning
no traffic, so naturally the one in front of me
can’t keep his lane or speed.
I ease by and see his fingers dancing,
eyes riveted to his device
flicking up occasionally to correct the drift
of his twenty five hundred pound missile.
As I ponder what could be so fucking important
that he’d text at sixty five miles per hour,
he finishes, laughs, punches it,
and disappears at eighty five in the right lane.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today's prompt was a poem with an interaction of some sort.

Unchained Conversation

“Hey, where’s the,”
“Oh,” she smiles, “I think I left it on the table.”
“On the patio, you mean?”
“Yup,” she sips ice water, “Right there.”
She calls “Hey, can you,”
“Sure; which one, the compost?”
“Uh huh; just one bag.”
Neighbors dogs sing a welcome song.
She smiles.
“Me neither; because they’re sweet dogs.”
Done, we hug, then part.
She regards me with raised eyebrow
“Cool, so you’re cooking!”

Friday, April 17, 2009

All I Want Is _________

All I Want Is This

To be a true partner and friend.
To see us all live in peace.
To see the earth start to recover from us.
To leave behind many guitars.
To be a real musician.
To see more of this world.
To catch a fly ball at a Rangers game,
without missing a beat,
bare handed and casual,
whilst sipping an icy cold Rahrs.
To have Cuban Crime of Passion
STOP running through my head.
That’s not asking too much,
is it?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

About a color

I couldn't do just one...

God’s Bow

Being tasked with writing about
just one color really makes me see red,
or maybe it makes me blue, I dunno.
One thing’s for sure,
I am truly green with envy over
how easy this is for some…
I can’t recall that a pro hockey team
ever wore punkin hued sweaters,
probably for good reason.
When the California Golden Seals
appeared in the hallowed confines of
Da Boston Gardens wearing
white CooperAlls and white skates,
Terrible Teddy Green almost choked laughing.
In your mind’s eye, could you ever see
Gordy Howe wearing teal blue?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Title Switch

We're supposed to take the title of a poem we like, switch words, and write - I chose Gary Snider's Rolling In At Twilight for title and went from there.

Rolling in at Dawn

Long season,
Months of heat, smoke, fire
from Huachucas to Shasta Trinity
ends with snow on tent roof.

East to Susanville past Lassen,
a vulture fails to clear the way
his eye says “Oh shit!” as he hits the truck.
His pals climb aboard his carcass,
I duct tape shattered glass.

Breakfast in Malheur,
Cormorants with dinosaur eyes
Frost locked grass tussled by cold wind,
winter’s whisper.

Drama in the Strawberry Mountains
a new 4 x 4 spins slowly, upside down
bewildered hunters stupid but OK.

Into Washington south of Walla Walla at night
cross the Snake at Central Ferry
Catch 195 at Colfax at 4 am
asphalt sparkles like diamonds.

Into Spokane as deep reds and oranges
lead the sunrise parade.
Now clean sheets, good food, and rest.
Soon enough it will be time to wax skis
Winter beckons.

Yesterday's Also Ran

Monica Lynn

Eye heart yew
is my secret code for you.
You know the hand code
that goes with it, too;
it makes your eyes smile
when I flash it like a gang sign.
I always knew what I did not have it when it was not there;
Now as Joni so poignantly put it,
you complete me, I complete you.
You know that one picture of you I love so much?
I know that look. It says one of two things;
either I love you, or I’ll kill you if you take that picture.
I know that the look in your eyes is just for me.
I know exactly what that look means.
And voltage; don’t get me started,
it’s the middle of a Tuesday and hours before we reconnect.
You are my touchstone, my center.
I love you more than life itself,
for as long as you’ll have me.