Wednesday, November 30, 2016

silent night

stones in darkness
the cold wind sighs.

O hear my prayer
on this silent night!

the faint breath
of waning life.

November 1978

November lies in wait, violent month
stripping life from the garden
wind ripping leaves from living trees.

So much can happen after the harvest,
life can be broken,
the grave made rich.


Kennedy rode exposed in the cold Dallas sun
when a bullet ripped the November air, and
dark winds ran riot through fields of heaven,

dirty cyclones scattering dust
into our stinging eyes

and we cried under the black crepe
draped over blank, empty windows.


November, 1978, loomed large

in the twilight haze as we waited
and uneasily watched the news.

In thirsty Jonestown
the November heat swelled
the bodies of black children,
huddled in the arms of still mothers,
empty paper cups strewn on the ground
dripping purple Kool-Aid, happy drink for a hot day,
poisoned with bitter megalomania.

The stench of fear
permeated Geary Boulevard,
filling the looming, empty halls
of the People's Temple.

Protected by the glass wall of my television
I observed this distant slaughter
my eyes spared from the sting
of personal tears.


But November soon became personal,
and quickly took my father
and left me stunned,
empty and cold as frozen Ohio.

Bad comes in threes,
and in my rented car,
on the way home from the cemetery,
I heard of bloody mayhem in San Francisco,
madness splattering City Hall,
in the thick blood of Moscone and Milk,
struck down on a cloudy
November day.

(22 Nov. 2013)

Monday, November 21, 2016


Bird song rises 
in pure, liquid waves

as golden leaves
arc, twisting
to the ground.

Heavy gold
must fall.

October heat
will give way 
to winter rain.

Yet inevitably life flows 
like the breeze
rising from the broad sea
to the high Sierra;

grey clouds rise
and heavy snow falls.

All living waters

give praise.

(5 Oct 2010)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rain blurs my windows

Rain blurs my windows
melting color into color,
green grass merging
to luxuriant red blooms.

Golden leaves
fly wildly to the grass
and make of the lawn
a mottled carpet,
waiting for a brighter day
when my rake will scrape
them all into tall, brittle piles.

But today is a good day
to stay inside,
warm and dry.

(24 Oct. 2010)

She Sits in the Old, Red Chair

She  sits in the old, red chair
feet up, the red crush of the ottoman
giving rest to tired ankles.

At ninety-nine, her face is lined
and thin, cheekbones jut beneath
piercing young eyes, as hands, 
thin, pale skin barely concealing
vein and bone, lie in repose in her lap

as we talk, remembering all the days
and find her mind a crystal stream
vibrant, alive with a life of love

filled with places past 
and people gone.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Chocolate Hills

the green world drinks
the blue sky dry;
life’s tender leaf declines
while ancient cambrian
fire survives.

(17 March 2013)

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Homecoming

When you were in Vietnam
we got your letters, two or three at once
and then the whole house buzzed like a nest
of honey drunk bees as we poured over
your every word.

We kids imagined you, strong, tough,
blazing with righteous American fury
cutting down those dirty commies,

but Mom and Dad
read each letter more slowly
glancing at each other
with darker looks.

Then one day we got the recording you made,
tiny plastic reels, shiny brown tape wound
in fragile loops; your voice!
just like you were in the room, speaking
re-assuring, everyday chat about R&R
and shopping in Bangkok. Finally,
the tape nearly spent, you said that
you were coming home soon.

And one bright July morning
you came home! Your hat was rakishly tilted,
a Lucky cigarette carelessly drooping
from the corner of your grinning mouth,
all paratrooper swagger, gold braid running
through your buttoned shoulder loops,
colored ribbons and medals all over your chest.

As you walked through the door
I stood aside, awestruck, shy.
You sat like a visitor in your own home
and we opened the packages you brought for us,
Christmas in July, as one by one we held
our Asian wonders, and watched
as Mom held your hand and
Dad searched your eyes.

But you were tired, so upstairs in my room
you took a midday nap, and when Mom told me
to wake you up for supper, I nudged your shoulder
and you bolted,
down the steps,
into the quiet street
and stood at tense attention,
(the neighbors all gawking),
as you waved your M-16
made of air
and memory,

and waited
for the morters
to fall
and kill us all.

Then the light returned to your eyes.
Slowly you walked back to the house
and gently took me by my shoulders
and told me to never,
touch you when you were asleep,

and I never asked you why.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Birther's America

Sit in dark rooms
as Fox news
that the President
is really from Mars,
hell-bent on preventing
our Saturday-nights
from being

We have the Constitutional right
to carry death
like a flask
in our hip pockets.

But this foreigner
wags his black finger
and calmly spews
like spit
on our red necks.

So the plan is to wait
until the day
all these bleeding hearts
are dropped, one by one,
by lone

and in the end,
alone in our darkness,

(9 April 2011)