Thursday, July 17, 2014

Variations on Oblivion.

Pick your poison.
Choose your cliches carefully,
For they are the keys to Oblivion.
Take your nemonics on a different spin
Restate an old theme.  
Has anyone struck a discordant note or
Uttered the newest thing since Shakespeare?
I have heard the mockingbirds
 In the chill of the new day
Singing variations on Oblivion.
If we were to string all our empty words together
and repeat them in random order
Would Oblivion disappear 
In a moment of unexpected Creation?

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Keys.  Fascinating in their simplicity, mystifying in their cut.  Of all keys, the Master Key is most desirable.  If the Great Keymaker were to bestow Master Key status on One Human Being, what would that person do with the power to open the innermost parts of his fellow beings?  How would he use that power?  For opening is only that, while entering presents many more questions.  Will he scorn, honor, deride, embrace, or perhaps worst, ignore what he would find inside? 

Mythology or folklore communicates, I suspect, the wisdom that only the "worthy one" acquires the Master Key.  Only the “pure of heart” would be entrusted with so much responsibility.  For opening is only the first step on a journey of loving whatever is found within, and what is found within is horrifying and corrupt many times. 

Christianity is the story of the Great Keymaker bestowing the Key to the God-Man Jesus, who could be entrusted to enter into the human soul, see there the disease and disorientation, and embrace it, heal it, restore it to health and eternal life.  So he said to his disciples, having loved them, even as He was loved, "I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven."  Matt. 16:19.

Monday, May 26, 2014


She was ice – the pure logic that spread over the surface of Truth.
He was a heartbeat – a rhythm seeking syncopation.
He breathed the scent of jasmine
And opened his arms to receive the hummingbird
Hovering over them.
She tolerated his irrational moment of interruption
When he stopped to marvel at how
The evening’s light deepened the purple of the jacarandas
Against the darkened sky.
She would never entwine her limbs with his.
A corpus callosum separated them.
“In his younger days”
He would have used wine to soften her edges,
But now he sipped whiskey to console his untouched parts
And went to bed early. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


She was a drunk with a tremor.  He was suffering from early Parkinson’s.  If their tremors could just off set one another, they could share a cup of coffee.  As it was, they spilt over one another in the café they both favored in the middle of the day.  It was the beginning of a romance. 

It seems drunks and Parkinson victims have a sort of fascination with the end times.  She enjoyed reading the book of Revelation, and he favored sci-fi movies with apocalyptic themes.  When your first shared interest is the tremors, it helps to have a second interest. 

She had been married, or more accurately, continued to be married to a man whom she swears jumped off the George Washington bridge on a frigid November night, and cracked his head on a chunk of ice waiting for him in the Hudson.  The ice carried the blood out to sea, and the body was not recovered, and the only witness was, well, a drunk.  The river was dredged, and an investigation conducted.  No body.  No evidence of foul play.  A missing person’s report was filed, and the clock now had ticked for 4 of the 7 years needed to presume death.  In the meantime, her old friend Mr. Alcohol remained close by.

Bernadette and Carlos had their first date at an ice skating rink.  Bernadette had developed a fondness for ice ever since that fateful day, and Carlos enjoyed a place where other people looked equally out of control.  They shared hot chocolate, his on her pants, hers on his.  They told themselves they would never forget these warm, sometimes scalding moments. 

It seemed the relationship was going well.  Bernadette began 12 step meetings, and Carlos began to relax more, confirming the theory that stress worsened the symptoms.  On Thursdays they attended meetings of the Jersey City End Times Society.  They read all the oldest and newest signals, but the evidence was neither as convincing nor as attractive as it once was.  A world of wild curve balls occasionally brought a Springtime of reprieve. They found various reasons not to attend the meetings, preferring an occasional symphony or art exhibit, or a lecture on the treatment of various neurological diseases.  At home, with the curtains drawn, they danced to salsa or Frank Sinatra. A chart on the wall tracked how often they stepped on each other’s toes.  They soon learned not to wear shoes, and Bernadette made Carlos get his toenails clipped. 

As Bernadette got better, Carlos deteriorated.  A man Bernadette met at a 12-step meeting called the house repeatedly. 

“He’s my sponsor,” she said, “nothing more.”

“You share everything with him.”

“Not everything.”  She smiled that smile, and moved her hand up his chest and along his cheek, kissing him lightly on the lips.” 

“Don’t,” he said, refusing to be distracted.

“You’re jealous.”

“Of course I’m jealous.  You share your soul with him.”

“I share my stink’n think’n.  You should be glad to be spared, and you should be glad I’m sharing it with someone.”

“I should ‘this,’ and I should ‘that.’  I should not feel what I feel.  Is that what you pick up in your 12 step meetings?” 

“So you want me to get a new sponsor.”

“That would be a start.”

“So I design my recovery around your jealousy?  I don’t think so.”

Bernadette started attending extra meetings, and staying later for coffee and discussion after the meeting.  She knew it would make Carlos more jealous.  That was fine with her.  He wasn’t going to dictate her life for her. 

It was a cold November night.  Carlos could no longer drive.  Somehow, Bernadette had avoided a DUI, and still had her license.   They had just come from the symphony, Mahler’s Ninth.  The death symphony some called it.  Mahler knew he had little time left.  Like Beethoven, his last hurrah was to be number nine.  Unlike Beethoven, he was a mediocre talent in the pantheon of geniuses.   

“I’d like to stop here,” she said. 

“It’s not safe,”  
“I need to make amends.  He’s gone.  I never had a chance.  I need to let him know.”

“What, in the middle of the night in the freezing cold, here?  Are you crazy?”

“Well, yes, as a matter of fact I am.  That’s why I need to do this.  Please, come with me.  I need your support to get through this.” 

“Why don’t you call your sponsor.  He’s always your first choice, isn’t he?”

The cars whizzed by them.  Bernadette left the emergency lights blinking on the Oldsmobile.  When she got out and walked to the edge of the bridge rail alone, he sat in the car watching fast moving traffic bear down on the car, switching lanes so quickly it made him gasp.

Stepping up beside her, he said, “Can’t you move it along a little?  We’re going be rear ended.” 

“You know, he didn’t jump,” she said.


“He was standing about where you are now, accusing and blaming me.  Beating me physically wasn’t enough for him.  He filled in the time with verbal abuse.” 

“So your amends include apologizing for murder?”

“Seems to me he had it coming, but that’s what they all say, right?” she said.

“Wouldn’t know.  Other than you, don’t hang with confessed murderers.”

She turned to look at him.  “How can you be jealous?  How can you think I don’t love you?  I’ve just given you enough information to send me to death row.” 

He was silent.  “It’s enough to turn a woman into a serial killer,” she said. 

“Let’s get back to the car, he said.  This is creepy, and freezing cold.” 


Man, what art thou
But a package
Of transitory eruptions?
Man of movie-made-masculinity,
You are the strut 
Upon the stage
Prying open
The mysteries of women . . . So you think . . .
You discover
The same poison 
Mixed of dominance and semen.
So too, the
Cradle of Life
Harbors death.
The joke is on us . . .
Angels mangled within this flesh.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Eternal Illusion

The essential denial is that we will not die, and the essential lie is that we will live forever.  The truth is simply too terrifying to accept, but the consequence of our elaborate cowering is that we waste our days in mindless repetitions.  The great revolution would be of those and by those who lived each moment knowing how precious and irretrievable it is.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pray, Francis, Xavier. A Poem to Southern Illinois America.

Where the hell did this thing called me originate?
I’m American born, seeded in the soils of Illinois.
I grew like corn, and turned brown in the last heat of summer--
A man harvested from plains soil, and yes, that plain dirt
Of a mother cutting shoe leather in a small town factory
And a father born of sweat, and dying of sweat, 
A man of winter sorrows,
A heart-beat stopped on a cold concrete walk on a plains winter day.
I am the stuff of the coke mill,
And the bean field,
And the born again Pentecostal Ozark wilds
And the ‘ain’t got no time for Jesus’ street-smart bootlegger
I am the Catholic boy
Born of “Where to Hell is Jesus” parents
Glad to drop the boy off at Church,
‘Sunday is my day off’ parents.
I am the Robert Louis Stevenson childhood imagination.
I am the adolescent intoxicated with Voltaire.
I am the altar boy who said he would no longer kneel.
I am the back seat lover so driven by the passions of youth
I had only one goal, and that, in a Shakespearean twist, was to know the heart of the woman,
As I wanted whatever mystery was between her legs.
I am Southern.
I am the South.
Oh, ‘Land OF Lincoln’ they say,
But as Mr. Obama will tell you, that stopped south of Spingfield.
For I am South,
I am Southern,
And misjudged as Southerners are,
For Loving God, is not a sin,
And Civil Rights is not a geography,
But a matter of the heart, without boundaries.
I am lawyer.
I am writer.
I am American.
I am
A man of the best of America’s Years
A step into her future
I span the 50s as a boy
I have survived the avalanche of disco balls
And the Cambodian Invasion
And Jane Fonda,
And I have lived though Clinton,
And tasted the bitter wine of Bush
And suffered the disillusion of mere men named gods known as Kennedy and Obama,
And God forgive that I should forget the poison of Nixon,
And names my daughter will never know except on Wikipedia.
Who Am I?
Xavier, Pray, Francis
A man with a pontifical name spanning centuries
Who has loved woman more, and less, than they deserved.
Who pierced the masked veil?
And incurred the wrath
That poets must endure.
Oh, and this country boy turned Lincoln lawyer
Born to a hill-billie mother and a beer guzzling St. Louis urchin turned bootlegger
Yes, this unexpected arrival named me to a mother of 40
Conceived of damaged semen at an eclipse of the chromosomes.
I should not be here,
But for a destiny I kept eluding
Until today
When a poem
Like a wide cast Jesus net on Galilee,
Brings a fish out upon Peter’s deck
And causes him to ask: Who are you?