December 10, 2006

My Ignorance

My ignorance is amazing.
I could fill this page, a book,
a shelf, this room, this house
with all I do not know.
My ignorance is enormous.
Isn't it astounding how it fits
so neatly in such a tiny brain
wedged inside this swollen head.

November 18, 2006

Disposable Thoughts

With a flick of my Bic, your butt
and the grasslands are disposable,
like diapers, batteries,
paper plates and Dixie cups,
like paper napkins, tampons,
newspapers and butter tubs.
We are cameras
and cell phones.
I thought to call you.
I have your number, but I lost your name
in a Christmas card.
Disposable: trees, wrapping paper
and dead rappers. Tupac.
I never listened to his music, anyway.
Like vinyl records, we are albums. LP.
We are gas.
With a flick of a Bic, we are disposable.
Old maps, postcards,
we are a dozen dried up roses.
We are daylilies
and plastic razors.
We are sandwich bags.

October 17, 2006

Loopity Loops

When Jesus Christ came upon the Earth,
you killed Him. The son of your own God.
And only after He was dead did you worship Him
and start killing those who would not.
-- Tecumseh

Fire, cancer, home invasions, politicians
on mad horses--yellow gods. Humdingers.
Have you ever seen the rain? Blue on blue.
Daffodils. Daisies. Dodder. Gadzooks!
Win the lottery. Never clean house.
Perfect figure. Perfect health.
One day you must have learned cursive.
Q like two. S like a backwards treble clef.
Now, insert kazoo and blow. Just as I am.

October 01, 2006


I can't pretend to understand
what strange passion compels
your lonely midnight vigils
near the ripe corpse
of a slaughtered hog.

Does hunger
(or curiosity)
lure coyote
to his death?

I can't pretend to understand
the trickster's glory;
but, on my ears I wear your gift--
ivory canines set in silver.
Perhaps their whispers will explain.

September 18, 2006

I've Never

I've never been to Nebraska.
I've never built a bomb.
I've never swam the Atlantic
or drank a rabbit's blood.
There's a lot I haven't done.
I've never jumped off a roof.
I've never kissed a pig
or slept with Winnie the Pooh
or learned the Watusi.
I've never worn a fez or taj
or wrapped myself in silk.
I've never bathed a camel
or eaten a poison mushroom.
I've never met Willie Nelson
or felt the urge to tango.
I've never liked pea soup.
I've never been to Iraq
or walked along the equator.
I've never run off with the circus
or camped in the Petrified Forest.
I've never joined the ACLU,
nor have I ever needed a shiv.
I've never been to a powwow
or seen 'possums having sex.
I've never visited New Jersey
or written a poem that ends with Z.

Really, I haven't.

September 12, 2006


I wish I could end this
Nagging dread, send this
Soul-sucking apathy packing,
Pick up a pen, and piss
Inspired words across the page.
Retched poetry is a sloppy kiss,
Aversion therapy, dying bliss.
There must be something
Inspirational, something good
Out there waiting for me, but
Nothing comes to mind.

September 08, 2006

Deep-dyed Blue

Momma was born with frown lines,
and Gramma cried for eighty years;
so, even if you drench me
with a thousand brilliant smiles,
I'll never be anything
but deep-dyed blue.

September 03, 2006

Labor Day

Saltwater taffy days end in September.
Part-time carnies pack up their wits,
wheels, and stuffed tabby cats,
and the clowns stow their smiles,
while nervous teens trade rollercoaster screams
and fireworks for study hall, chalk dust,
and twelve days of Christmas.

August 29, 2006

Best of Show at the County Fair

Diesel fuel, dust-tinged phlegm,
barbecue at 10 a.m.,
seed corn, cows, green John Deere,
pig crap and rabbit fur
delight the red-naped cropper.
Another showstopper,
each brand-new blue ribbon
is good enough reason
to cock-crow victory
and dance rockabilly.

August 24, 2006

The Lady of Orange

I have always loved The Lady of Orange,
the aunt whose only continuity
(other than the ever-present
tangerine tint on her lips and nails)
is her inconsistency.

As unpredictable and effective
as Death's whim, her moods--
raucous, raunchy, tender,
somber, playful, and vile--
shift and strike unannounced.

Husbands and lovers,
grudges and favors,
wives' tales and truths--
she collects and discards
with equal abandon.

Like a nomad (claiming gypsy blood),
fleeing landlords and boredom,
she uproots her small clan
to move from house to house--
and sometimes back again.

She fabricates creepy tales
of witches, vampires,
demons and ghosts--
not to terrify family or friends,
but to bluff reality's intimidations.

Years ago, as a teenager
in her domain, I was liberated--
free to smoke or drink
and even rendevous with lovers,
often men of her acquaintance.

More recently, during a dark moment's reverie,
she asked me if I blamed her for my problems.
Surprised, I answered quite honestly--no.
I still wonder why she claimed the guilt.
I have always loved The Lady of Orange.

August 20, 2006


I guzzle cool, clean drinking water.
In my glass I see shrinking water.

Sweet bubbles--the happy spring's dancing.
Downstream, dead cows rot--stinking water.

Maybe we'll have a long, wet winter.
Please, don't come inside tracking water.

I spend every day sipping coffee.
I spend all my nights making water.

The bathroom sink sat unused for years.
Today it started leaking water.

Some study chicken guts for answers.
They might as well be asking water.

Remember, Agnes, nothing matters.
Don't waste your lifetime blinking water.

August 14, 2006

Red Lies War

The morning dust
releases what lies ahead. The tide turns
in a flow of black on white. Lies, all lies.
The morning news rests upon her breast
exposing what they won. Half-truths
lie in the east. No Red or Blue
envisioned an America where everyone
awakes intent on what lies behind,
what lies before, what lies within.
The warning sky lies in her eyes.
Morning is too long. Not that it matters.
Sorted and bagged, I am the root.
Temptation wears a crimson cape.
The morning news is black and white,
but there's red all over.

August 08, 2006

In the Poetry Corner

Long before the end of summer, she was told to read
before posting requests and announcements.
That was before a gypsy's love song cast its spell.
Now, a letter a day is her addiction,
and she finds herself alone, as morbid as they come,
assembling the pineapple with black ink.
She composes her chapbook: signings, symbols, codes--
much like those dead Christian gnostics. Chop. Chop.
Deep thinking is a depression, a hole, an emotional well,
but there must be 20 times 20 ways to keep from falling
in love with fantasy. Medieval, the way she chants
for your love. The forty-plus crowd ignore her nonsense;
they miss her graduations, her wedding, her haiku:
I hate you/idiots. In the beginning, there are insanities
and kindred spirits: Life, Love, Death and Suicide.
Life, Death and Lost Love woo her with midnight whispers.
Teen nature--now, this is not odd. Lured by contests
and awards, the woman-child doesn't know she should
avoid the spider's web and social commentary
from the over-30 crowd whose hormones have withered.
Really rotten rhyme and silver dreams adorn her.
She seeks sisters and sonnets, only sonnets, straight
from the heart. No one needs tell her: submissions wanted.
She's a swan. Lake be damned. She braves the ocean,
and symbolic rhyming poets like Hannah and Dan show
her the light. Brigades of little fish join her in the quilting
circle. When at last it's time for change, she says goodbye
to best friends, to true love, to war against the well-versed
ladies. She discovers it does not matter what inspires you.
She won't write: Why do I love you? You, only you, Zeitgeist.

August 03, 2006

Man Song

Man with two hearts, look what you've done.
You made me love you. Rainy day man,
walking man, you're not mine anymore.
Isn't it a pity. You won't see me cry.

Sharp dressed man, good lookin' man,
hoochie coochie man, honky tonk night time man--
somebody to love--tall, dark handsome stranger,
you sexy thing, what's your name?

Mean old man, street fighting man,
branded man, renegades, rebels, and rogues,
all the madmen--bad boys--
Push me. Pull me. Take what you need.

No ordinary man--iron man,
starman, a better man--
the supermen! Oh, you pretty things,
too much heaven, who do you love?

Handy man, jigsaw man,
hard workin' man, don't walk away.
Simple man, family man,
salt of the earth, never let me down.

I'm countin' on you. Mother Nature's son,
piece of my heart, you know what to do.
Stand by me. Do me right.
Love me like a man. I am woman.

July 31, 2006


Their hands are like marshmallows, white and pudgy.
Sticky-sweet, they catch in her throat, then melt
into snakes and wrap themselves around her heart.
Jesus Christ never visited the Vatican.
His hands are hard and dark.
A wine-stained kiss brings cold comfort.
"Open your ears, and I shall speak to you."
The screaming light of eternity rages behind his eyes.
"You are dead, but don't know it."
Mother Agnes trampled the sheep asleep in their pens.
Tomorrow, her bloody footprints will still lead back
to a yesterday that never was. The lambs' song is bleak.

July 26, 2006

Whiskey Whines and Whispers


Twangs and hoots give way to whistles
that dissolve into grunts and whispers.
Backstage at the Whiskey a Go-Go,
the young man mutters, growls
and then whines through the music.
"It sounds too slick, somehow.
She's too sure of her next whiskey bar!"

Bonnie's babe is plump with ashy hair.
It whines as the wrong mother feeds,
smoothes back his son's light curls
and whispers, "I'm sorry."

Used to be when someone whined too much,
she called him on it (and the one beer,
or two wines, or half a dozen whiskey sours),
but she can't think anymore.


At Twilight Manor, she feeds her grandfather
one last bite of ham puree, then wipes
a bit of green gelatin from his whiskered chin.
"So, do you think the problem lies
with the man or the whiskey?"

The old man blinks his rhuemy eyes,
shrugs his slight shoulders and coughs.
His voice, once clear and strong,
now wheezes and whines.
"In England men of letters drink wine...."

The man whispers to himself.

July 18, 2006

Bedtime Story

Night tastes like chocolate pudding.
Spoon after spoon, I swallow.
The aroma burns my eyes
like Tito burned my heart
one cold winter back in Michigan.
Flavorless, long nights pile up, uneaten,
while morning waits, untouched,
and PopTarts dream of warmth.
A caballo dado no se le mira el colmillo.
The keen flashlight of understanding
doesn't run without batteries--
Santa took those along with the milk.
Hush now. Don't tell Agnes.
Her future holds enough sad stories.
Green, the stars scream of madness,
while fairy godmothers lie under our beds
awaiting orders to give needed infusions.
Giggling, sharp needles dance in old hands.
Too bad the dish ran away with the spoon.

July 12, 2006

Dry and Dry (after Emerson's Blight)

Give me booze,
for I am sick of soft drinks
and die of thirst. If I had
only the brews and spirits of the tavern,
rum, cognac, gin, vodka and applejack,
bock beer and tequila, schnapps, whiskey,
mescal and malt liquor, kvass and sake,
and fine and not-so-fine wines, which to these bars
draw untold lushes with a common need,
not told, not known, and I could smell
their odor, and their chemistry absorbed
by strange osmosis through my flesh,
driving the demons and feeding the angels,
oh, if it were so, I could be a part
of the rounds, caught up in the wild
and crazy world, and be mixer
of their varied combinations.
But these punks, who invade our clubs,
bold as the dealer who runs the hood,
and often using the drug he makes,
don't love the brew they suck; they don't know it.
All they love is gangsta games.
The old men studied magic in suds,
and fortunes in an empty mug,
and omnipotence in a broken bottle,
preferring things to tags, for these were men;
these were drinkers of the drinking world,
and, wherever their bleary eyes fell,
they met the bootprints of the same. Our eyes
are not strangers to the fermented fruit,
are not strangers to the goblet and to the keg.
The hair of the dog says, "No!" and growls.
For we use it selfishly;
we gargle unreligiously,
and pickled, seek its power, not its pardon.
So they push us away,
yield only what our whining tongue is due;
but the sweet wealth of sex and song,
the best of the gods' grapes are withheld;
and in the midst of shots and barmaids, we tipplers
and tosspots of the beer garden, shut out
to drink ginger ale and lemonade,
turn pale and die.

July 05, 2006

Darling Teddy

Sleepless within the stronghold of night glow,
I spot its head poke up behind my weary bedmate.
Darling is dutiful, well-worn, but smug,
with a soft throttle made to squeeze,
too wanton for marriage and too wary for whoredom,
but perceptive without gold ring or red carpet.
And its button eye shines briefly, as if to say Watch.
And each flicker honors her movement.
And each new position is an eye opener.
The long-lived companion, the queer, patched thing
held head-scissored, wedged in the southland,
this fellow traveler--strange, fuzzy thingamabob--
is eyewitness to this night's desolation.

June 27, 2006

In a Pawn Shop Window

Made in China,
the upset vase,
in disgrace, hides
its fragile face
and its sorrow
from cut glass eggs
that will not hatch
in nests of wire
and pewter fish
with ruby eyes
that cannot swim
in tattered lace.

June 21, 2006

We're Caught in an Ancient Pattern

Yesterday, a hundred billion years ago,
patterns started there, Amiga.
Contemplation seems self-indulgent.
We're caught up in a rush. Parasites,
a series of false selves, color our behavior.
We're caught in patterns. In open spaces,
we find ourselves calling resistance
achievement. Fear is the impulse to deny
patterns. Caught in confusion, in this
circular spinning, the ancients are family.

June 11, 2006

A Little Giddy (for T.S. Eliot)

Critics won't die from explication,
though the burden of their explicating
is to arrest what others stargazed
and recognize the pizzeria is the Promised Land.
Past the unkennelled gastropod
whose earthly remains encourage
turf wars between beggars,
through the soup kitchen of the lollygagging ritualist,
around the vocational school of the hidden water cooler--
unacknowledged and unwanted
by all but headstrong stigmatists
who thrive between waterworks and scuttlebutt,
here, now and forever--
in this condensation of complete single-mindedness
(costing not less than everlastingness)
illusion and allusion suffice;
all mankind's thimblerigs suffice
when bits of bone and flakes of stone decoupage
can be crafted into regal knockoffs
to be studied by freaks and fools;
fine art and the Rorschach test are one.

June 06, 2006

At the Supermarket

Because Mother raised a gentleman,
I try not to laugh at you sitting there
in a puddle of chocolate milk--
dairy-section centerpiece.

Only minutes ago, I saw your same
wide-eyed, gaped-mouth expression
(pain or bewilderment?)
gracing a trout in the seafood case.

Like any gallant knight,
I swallow my smile
(I will not laugh)
and hold out my hand to rescue you.

But you, demure damsel, will have none of that.
My only warning is a blink, as you grasp my hand,
then give a fierce jerk, and reel me in
to land with a wet thump at your side.

I bite my tongue,
taste blood.
But I will not cry--
because Father raised a real man.

May 27, 2006

Forget the Rules

Forget the rules. We're out of soap.
The electric razor is on the fritz.
Disaster blooms upon your chin
and blisters my tender throat.
Still, my blood runs hot.
Hide yourself between my breasts.
Punch the puritan quilt to the floor.
Our bodies form a demented cross
against the cold Capricorn sun,
and passion hijacks the morn.

May 12, 2006

Rants (For a Likely Story)

Reaching back to heaven, I caught a liar's moon.
(Who said there are never enough words?)
I dug deep, hung tight, and I played
until midlife, midwife, middle
of nowhere,
something died.
I changed my mind,
changed myself,
changed myself again.
I didn't stay.
I didn't listen.
I didn't know
dreams end in radio station madness
where libidinal bodies beat the drums.
With every vibration, she's calling me.
Failures and footsteps at my back,
I cannot stop.
I cannot stop,
nor can she.
So, we run.
We run.
Whorehouse-smart, I'm not
just very,
very tired.

May 03, 2006

These Days

These days, I hate most everything
and curse the muse who hides
all but the glare of baleful eyes
behind dead poets and scholars.

I could break the rules, dance with fools,
castrate my I's, and hurl commas
like boomerangs into the air,
but who needs a new prison to hate?

April 26, 2006

I Would be a Tree

There's nothing I would rather be
than tall and strong and full of grace.
If I could, I would be a tree.

You say my limbs are too stubby;
my trunk, you could never embrace.
There's nothing I would rather be

than immune to such scrutiny,
transplanted to another place;
if I could, I would be a tree,

shed all my leaves with impunity,
and smear sap all over my face.
There's nothing I would rather be

than master of my sanity;
but, let me tell you (just in case)
if I could, I would be a tree.

What I know with certainty
can be said without disgrace:
There's nothing I would rather be;
if I could, I would be a tree.

April 23, 2006

Whiskey Kisses

He thought of his wife,
then looked at his watch.
In his glass, amber whiskey,
smooth as water,
to be whirled.

Up to him, the woman whirled--
nothing like his wife.
With moist red lips, she whispered,
"Would you like to watch
the moon rise on the water?
Bring the whiskey."

He thought perhaps her name was Whiskey.
Cascades of red-gold hair glittered as she whirled
away towards the water.
No, this wild one was not his wife.
He glanced at his watch.
"Still time," he whispered.

"See the moon," she whispered
near his ear. Her breath was whiskey-
sweet. He wanted to watch
her red lips, but she whirled
away again. No, not like his wife
who was afraid of water.

The swollen moon floated on the water.
Gentle waves whispered,
"She's not your wife."
He drained the last amber drops of whiskey
from the bottle, then cast it away. It whirled
end over end. The woman turned to watch.

The bottle splashed. He looked at his watch,
then at the water.
His mind whirled.
The woman whispered,
"We need more whiskey."
He wished she was his wife.

"Forget your wife," she whispered.
"We can share whiskey kisses by the water."
His senses whirled, and he did not look at his watch.

April 10, 2006


I am
a poem

I may not look
like much
to you

without breeding or formal training
in the center

I am a poem
I like it here

I am not asking
or approval

merely a nod in passing

April 06, 2006

For Richard and Brian

Please Don't Feed the Bear

In Retro-Sixties style,
tourists spread their picnic
beneath the Day-Glo sign:
Please do not feed the bear.
Chanting "Make love not war,"
they toss Twinkies, popcorn
and morsels of Moon Pie
into the cave's dark mouth
'til, with a roar and a flash
of fangs and 4-inch claws,
the grizzled beast appears.
The stunned visitors gasp,
raise clenched fists and cry, "Foul!"
while bear shreds their baskets,
kicks dirt on their blankets
and marks the spot with piss.

March 28, 2006

Ya gotta start somewhere

Ice Cream and Oakwood

One hectic, summer afternoon,
I make my way to Frosty Boy,
buy myself a chocolate malt,
then drive fast to the edge of town
where Oakwood Cemetery sprawls
on the hill near Raisin River.

I park the car on gravel lane
to roam closer to the natives:
chiseled stones--both smooth and battered,
bronze stars and flags staked in the ground
near urns of flowers, and eerie
mausoleums with padlocked gates.

Muffled cheering from Island Park
across the creek--a baseball game,
I suppose--and the "crack crack crack"
that echoes from the shooting range
located three miles down the road
vie with hidden squirrels' chatter.

At last my straw draws only air,
so I pause near granite angel
and ask her if perhaps she knows
why other occupants and I
chose our resting places to lie
upon this hill of sprawling oaks.

I watch the hardness of her jaw,
coarse curves polished by elements
and time, and it does not appear
to move at all. But then, a light
in her left eye, I think I see--
a tiny flicker in response.

February 01, 2006

Getting Our Bearings

Stay tuned. Nobody likes clunkers.