Sunday, June 28, 2020


I heard the game was tough, and they lost,
despairing in muddy jerseys,
turf jutting from face guards and heavy cleats.

Sweat-stained and sore, they showered,
and the camaraderie of the locker room
broke through the stern silence with boyish laughter.
Weekend plans made, they climbed into the chartered bus
and drove slowly through the misty night
to the airport, to go home, back to West Virginia.

The plane gleamed reassuringly, like technology always does.
The power of the lift, the whine of competent engines
flinging them into the clouds, driving them high beyond the storm
into the clear, star-filled night. But the flight was rough, and
nearing their goal, it happened; a jolting shudder,
surprised looks, and amid the confusion of savage g-forces
suddenly nothing remained but flames
and twisted metal
and silence
on the charred mountain.

This is when I first became acquainted with death.

These were my friends, my old team-mates;
two years before we jogged in the hot August sun
and ranged through snowy October backfields;
like dangerous tigers we hunted quarterbacks,
thinking we were forever young and strong
and invincible.

Jack Rapasy, Bob Harris, and Mark Andrews:

Jack was the joker, but he could catch a bullet
six feet over his head, and leave two defenders
to slam into each other as they met, mid –air,
where he was,
while he ambled smiling to the end-zone.

And Bob could throw that bullet, his baby-face
And million dollar smile belying muscle-thick arms,
rocket launchers, splitting Friday nights with their fire.

But Mark, gentle giant of a linesman, was like my
big brother; he taught me how to shift and pull and trap,
and admired my fierce tackle, my willingness
to sacrifice clarity to stop a power-sweep.

We grew up together, but Mark died far from home.

Their three caskets in our high school gym lay,
while I, staring at glaring metal,
stood silent and amazed
that never would they run,
or throw, or tackle, or smile, or laugh,
or again be.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Beginning

The road calls
its whispering song
as early trucks whine,
red-shifting down the highway,
past the heavy curtains
of our room.

But we’re ready,
early risers,
eager to begin.

The motel lot is already alive,
as sleepy travelers
coffee steam rising
with the morning mist,
dream of going
to the coast,
to the mountains,
to the desert
To glittering Las Vegas,

to see all the places
In the thick triple A book,
following sure, red lines
on bright, creased maps,

but on my dark dashboard
the glowing GPS,
polite, sure girl
leads the way.

This road has called us
over and over,
and this time
we are going
east,  into the rising sun,

as bright white lines flash
like years in our headlights,
quickly forgotten
and always another
flying into another
never looking back
to see where we were

only seeing now
as this now blurs
into the next now
and the future
never really

But such philosophy
can be dangerous
at 75 miles per hour,

so turning on the radio
we glide down I-5.

It’s a fast road,
but straight as a
boring dream,
until, beyond Bakersfield,
crossing the
high eastern limit
of the great, green valley,

suddenly we break free
into the dry Mojave,
into a space so wide
that the pink, morning sky
arches its bright back
all the way
to space.

Time itself
could get lost here,

but not us!

Time never had a GPS girl
cheerful  guide
to lead us
on our summer’s journey
across wide America.


Rose at Nightfall

“God wants to know the divine goodness in us.” Thomas Merton

Red rose flames
in shade of day’s end.
Night sifts gently
through dark trees;

but the rose!
the rose yet blooms;

defies the fall
of night’s certain pall.