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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Love and Anti-Love

Love Songs

Not one from our generation
got it quite right,
not even the very good ones:
More Than This, She Sells Sanctuary,
not even Moon Dance.
Now truth be told,
Paul Brady came real close
with Not The Only One.
When I emailed you the lyric,
you came home and asked
if I was trying to seduce you;
I’d call that a pretty good song.

Love Removal Machine

So many ways and all of them bad;
ignorance, vanity, anger, embarrassment,
confusion, ego, insecurity, instability, inability,
stubbornness, pride, fatigue, booze, dope, religion, tradition;
Any of ‘em can suck the magic out of love
faster than you can imagine;
blink and you’ve missed it,
like a one horse town at highway speed.
Some say that the little things don’t matter all that much;
“It ain’t like a guy on a fast horse would notice,”
My Montana raised Mom likes to say,
but love is a long, slow ride,
and the devil’s in the details.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Describe a Hobby


Wayne Henderson says,
“jus’ get you some nice woods
an’ put ‘em all together,
get you a knife an’ cut away everything
that don’t look like a Gee-tar.”
Players pick back and side wood but the top is mine.
Sniffing Spruce and Cedar, tapping and feeling
which one wants to become this guitar.
Backs and tops joined and braced,
sides bent on a hot pipe, linings glued
and a body appears.
Neck carved from Mahogany or Maple,
frets cut through Rosewood or Ebony.
Piece by piece, as it has been done
for hundreds of years, living wood
becomes an instrument.
In a different way and place
the trees are called to sing again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

So we decided to ___________

So we decided to move to Texas

Just the three of us
as Bruce noted,
you, me and all that stuff
we’re so scared of;
from acreage with a view to forever
to an apartment on Eagle Mountain Lake.
From the north fork of the Coeur d’Alene
to Azle.
From a leisurely day across
to the state where El Paso is
closer to California than Dallas.
Remember the first storm?
You asked how we would know
if a tornado was about to take the roof off
‘cause we couldn’t see anything but
swirling cloud and lightning flash.
Now eight years later
try as we might to not get sucked in,
this place has found a home in our hearts.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An Object

Spray Nozzle

When I was a kid,
I bought my own.
A pistol gripped,
lemon yellow pot metal
weapon for a ten year old boy.
knurled brass wheel
dialed in pinpoint control.
Transmogrified in the sandbox
a laser cannon melting the dam
above the quiet town
scattering plastic army men
like chaff in the wind.
Now I am older, wiser
more serious about tools.
I prefer the solid brass, inline version
because I find that they generate
a finer, dam melting stream.

Friday, April 10, 2009


A little different than what I submitted - Jury's still out on both...


Thank God it’s
you-fill-in-the-blank day
but truth be told...
There are folks who really do work
Mon to Fri, nine to five
I’ve just yet to be one.
See, Thurs is my Sat
and for the life of me
I can’t see Weds as Fri.
Now today is Fri, but it’s my Mon…
Sat ain’t no Sabbath,
Mon and Tues are hardly
worth mentioning.
I don’t have a Sun ‘cause that day
I must rise earlier than any other
and homey ain’t a morning dude.
Now night time, ahhh night time;
that aughta be a day all its own.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ley Lines

Though summer,
there is fog,
cold salt air,
and granite boulders.

trees sculpted by wind and sea,
moss draped,
twisted like walking sticks.

Picking low bush blueberries
leads us to the edge of the woods
and then inside.

A cold feeling envelopes us.
We look up into a clearing
guarded by ravens;
huge, black, cold as the wind
they speak an ancient
menacing tongue.

We have intruded upon
things not meant for us.

Terrible purpose thrums
in the rocks.

We turn and run
and never return.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Carving Necks

Honduran Mahogany
is my favorite
because it carves wonderfully.
The fresh blank
clamped, waiting
the neck inside
yet to be revealed.
Draw knife, spokeshave,
chisel and gouge aligned
like a surgeon’s tools.
Long strokes at first
lovely curls cascade
fresh wood polished
by the blade’s stroke.
Each tool in its time
peeling ever smaller shavings.
In the end only a graceful curve remains
surrounded by its fallen skin
ready to mate with its body
and make lovely music.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Clean and Dirty

Were today's poetry prompts!

Opening Day

Technicolor Green grass
wet, fresh dirt
Crayola brown
zig zag, light dark
mower pattern.
white light flashes
off bases and plate
players along the baselines
pinstriped trousers
sharply defined,
hats in hands
hands over chests.
washed blue sky
cold in the shadows
cold Shiner in a cup
warm sun
with relish and mustard
on a wrinkly ballpark dog
retiree with a score book
his pencil poised for the season.


Roll out of a space blanket
it’s night, but
there’s firelight all around?
Like a phoenix
it has risen,
jumped the lines again.
Pants once green
shirt once yellow
stiff as sore muscles
worn too many days,
black and grey as ghosts
hands ashen, palms sweated clean
like a vaudeville act.
No smell but smoke,
no vision but flames
laughing, feeding.
Eyes dull with fatigue,
we grab Pulaskis and shovels
and firing up the saws
rise again to send this
bastard back to hell.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Todays was 'something missing', so here goes...


Joni was dead right;
don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what
you got ‘till it’s gone…
At the risk of waxing philosophic or
getting all Ciceronian on ya,
truth is,
I miss the hell outta him.
and the funny thing
or maybe not
depending on perspective
is that his reticence to believe
in the hereafter kind of
bleeds into my fears over time;
I pray he’s OK even though I know
he is.
Pop or not, a person in your life
who always believes in you no matter what
is a gift beyond measure.

This was my first swing, I didn't like it as much...

Something missing

The thing is;
Is it missing or is it not?
Ephemeron is hard to measure.
Try as I might I cannot help but play
what if, and believe myself capable;
there are many things that could have been.
Don’t cry over spilled milk, yes,
but what about milk
still in the glass
but never drunk?
At night it is so much easier to
agonize over things that,
by daylight,
seem nothing more than preludes to a dream.
Finally, I must confess that I am blessed,
and to not be happy with that
would be a terrible mistake.
Even so,
what if?

It's National Poetry Month, so...

Why not try it? Looks like fun, so I'm in! If you're interested, go here and you'll see the daily subject prompt from Rob't Lee Brewer, and you can attach your entry via the comments on the bottom of each days entry by Robert. Here's yesterdays for me:

Rude Bridge

The rude bridge that arched the flood,
in Emerson’s parlance,
was a last stand for embattled farmers;
but in my day it was where we sold turtles
and pop to the tourists.

Sliding between creasoted timbers
during spring flood
sun warm
ice cold brown water
pummeling the supports.

Waterlogged grass and branches
left as a gift to the forgotten.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ice Cream Music

In a cruel twist of fate
all ice cream trucks
seem to play the same ditty;
and for the life of me
I cannot recall
the real words.
Instead, a line from childhood,
“Do your balls hang low?”
Is the only thing
my twisted mind can summon.
Perhaps this is what hell is like.

On any Sunday

I think there were movies
titled this, about football and
car racing and maybe even surfing
but none of those speak to me.
Sundays are for couches and
fat newspapers. Sundays are for
a cocktail with my love in the early
afternoon, preferably champagne.
Sundays are for talk about books
and life and by these little gestures,
we recharge for the week ahead.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Problem with Cats

The problem with cats
let me count the ways.
Just don’t ask them this question,
for rhetorically or otherwise
in no other mind is a cat so perfect
as in its own.
Humans are suckers for their shtick;
yes, we’re door or can openers with legs,
yet when they come a rubbing on our legs
we purr with thanks,
roll on our bellies
and switch our tails,
daring them to pay more attention.