My brother Steve's dependencies may lead
him to his grave They've been with him since he
was just a boy they satisfy his need
There's nothing wrong with seeking fantasy
each of us finds our own way to do it
but along the way Steve forgot what we
really need is an unsullied spirit
to carry on our divine childhood dreams
whereas drug use entombs us in a pit
When we were young and very poor it seems
he'd kept a doorway open He would prance
(that's what we called it) ignoring the screams
of the drunks who lived above us and dance
back and forth on a path in our basement
flat whispering low and taking the chance
that my sister or I with cruel comment
would shatter his private theatric play
When so he'd grin ignoring the moment
That was the bright-faced youth I knew! The way
his eyes smiled contented! I would
chew off my hand to see that boy today!
There are things I'd want to change if I could
like when he was twelve and I gave him whisky
half a glass or more Fifteen then I should
have known better but we wanted to see
him choke and gasp and admire in us my
friend and me how grown-up we'd come to be
He shot that stuff down defiance in eye
and we both stared at him in amazement!
There's no use for me to try to deny
an older brother's shame The argument
that we are each in charge of our own way
doesn't lessen the blame The commencement
of his drug addiction began that day
Within a few years he'd tried everything
and his "beast for the buzz" had come to stay
Then Steve found a girl who made his heart sing
I watched him chase her all over the place
They fell in love she accepted his ring
Over time they had children needed more space
bought a home and replaced soft drugs with wine
straight upright citizens running the race
On the surface everything seemed in line
but beer and wine don't give that "buzz" to Steve
He needs harder stuff to keep him flying
Steve is stubborn If he doesn't believe
there's a problem though you show him it's there
he'll hunker down and wait for you to leave
He did that with drinking didn't quite care
thought he could stop anytime anyhow
but cheap vodka caught his mind in a snare
His body will writhe from withdrawal now
He's been through the programs joked played the game
yet worry has plowed deep cracks in his brow
Those who've long known him ask how he became
so angry and mean His wife's had her fill
and has threatened to give him back his name
Yesterday the "beast" abducted Steve's will
and locked him in a dark pit I can taste
his fear He's somewhere near the surface still
He groans through the delirium The waste
land in which he's buried has now begun
to torment him chase him It has encased
his mind in a coffin Brother what's done
is done don't wander off I'm here don't run
Bush took the middle-east by force
He's through fighting that battle
He probably has no remorse
He'll return to all his cattle.
The Middle East is the source
Of the citizens who skedaddle
Bush rides off on his horse
His dad will never tattle.
Will his wife want divorce
Or spank him with a paddle?
Bush is through, of course
And he's back in the saddle!
Here comes Obama, to replace the error
Fighting a peaceful war on terror!
II: Terza Rima
Obama is here to cut through the crap,
But will he do as good as they say?
America has been taking a nap...
Obama is good for the U.S.A.,
He seems like the man with the plan.
I think he'll do okay...
He's going to have to deal with Iran
We're not as popular as we once were.
This country's going down the can.
One mistake, Armageddon will occur
And the Bible says it's true.
The saints will all endure
So Obama, we're counting on you.
Save the red white and blue.
How I long for a pre 9-11 universe,
To crawl back in the womb.
To see certain doom
Is certainly for the worse.
Would I come up with verse
To explore the gloom
It would take time to rehearse
As i hide in my room
Would I need to find a nurse
When the bombs go boom
A cloud like a mushroom
You're carried away in a hearse
The ending is rather terse
Is it too late to love the human race
Regardless of geographical place?
If we don't make peace,
And the wars don't cease,
We'll end up exploiting outer space!
(Submitted on Inauguration Day's Eve)
I woke one morn a bit confused
'Bout letters in a poem I used.
I pondered this and argued that
Got somewhat miffed by my chitchat.
The alphabet's a special place
Whose letters make my heartbeat race.
But one's a rogue 'tween you and me
'W' with syllables three!
So I murmured to my diphthongs
And they all murmured back You're Wrong!
What's with you Jack? Can't you keep track?
It's abcde! You hack!
We diphthongs take a special pride
That alphabets in us confide
And just between us all and you
Their leaders name is 'W'!
The diphthongs surely startled me!
Like monsters rising from the sea.
I scratched this note to ne'r forget
'W' and his alphabets.
Cold crawling, seeping thru seems
Creeping under cuffs, navigating neck lines
With icy hands reaching to touch skin
Creating post card scenery
From picture windows, Icy wind blows
Posing on every branch
Making the pine with cone look ever greener
Red berries against white better than art
Playgrounds and slides appear floated down from the sky
Noise fills park hills
Flying balls explode into powder war for boys
Producing a smile on old men
A solitude, a silence, a peace
Hard to find in days of other seasons
Quiet crunches under a path of steps
Knowing always where you come from
Fighting all alone,
Without weapons in their hands,
They persist and resist
An occupation that seems to have no end.
With their hearts they hold fragments
Of sanity slipping away as time goes by,
As the world nonchalantly goes on,
With or without them.
They will soon be extinct:
Their will to survive.
Never giving in,
Never asking for help,
Alone the Palestinians fight
Against Nazi-like oppressors,
Against an army from Hell:
Divide and conquer the suffering masses.
Their dignity drives them onward
To face the oncoming rush
Of a blood-lusting foe
Commencing with ethnic cleansing
And never dispensing
Peace or humanity.
Possessing chemical weapons
(Weapons of Mass Destruction),
Banned weapons by the U.N.
They blanket Gaza with gifts
Like a twisted Santa Clause.
Are these not crimes against humanity?
David versus Goliath
Seems pretty petty
Compared to these odds:
Rachel Corrie versus the bulldozer,
Muhammad al-Durrah versus the sniper.
How about a U.N. compound
Filled with women and children
An incoming shower of missiles?
This is not a war,
But a massacre.
Soldiers armed with every weapon imaginable
Civilians armed with stones.
Stones of righteousness
Cast against abomination.
Stones that have been flying and fighting
Since then, the resistance has been constant
Like comets blasting through space,
Seconds cruising through time,
Water drops flowing through a river
A force bent on destroying their universe,
A force bent on erasing their history,
A force bent on damming the stream of their destiny,
This struggle will never end.
Jesus praying for Satan.
Why do I gaze at you
with your powerful dark eyes,
longing to bury myself
in the fields of your face?
I am afraid of your love,
though my burning senses are sprawled out
like drunken pirates
in that part of my human hunger.
Still the sparks fly from us...
I long to run through your lightness
plunging into you being,
gathering the pebbles of your depth
and build of them a house
to diffuse the wailing in my veins,
to perhaps resurrect my life.
O rain of my spring,
my last bit of color.
Come with promises of fruit and bread
come with each breath
bearing a whole years hope.
I know I shall fade before the afflictions of winter,
and like the ringdove lamenting her passion,
I shall remember you with guilt and sorrow.
I, who belong to another,
shall still remember you
in each fold of the sheets on my bed.
Spring after spring will come
and with my morning coffee
the question of lust will arise again
I will have to make choices
believing dishonor will not overtake me,
yet, understanding so well...
other times will come,
other choices will arise.
I saw a little field mouse peeking at me. He hid behind his maple tree -
'round the potted plants he danced, hiding from my curious glance;
down the little knoll he scurried and over the mushroomed path and
into a little hole he jumped
without even looking back.
When I was nine
Aunt Betty piled us into the Buick
and drove us unbelted
to the lakefront, where ferris wheels
and roller coasters overlooked
the levee and stared out to sea.
Steam-heated in pigtails
and pedal-pushers and red Keds,
we rode the high-rise whiplash
and Cindy laughed so hard
she wet her pants and Aline's eyes
grew big as the Creole moon,
and I went back three times
until, exhausted by adrenalin,
screams, and neon,
we all bumped home
on sweaty leather seats,
stopping only for root-beer
and sarsparilla in frosted mugs,
and fell asleep on cool sheets,
dreaming of cotton candy
in the dragonfly night.
(Previously published in
Mid-America Poetry Review)
Spitting fire and ice,
winter wails in on dragon wings.
Shall I welcome winter, its uncertain light?
Must there be a reason for winter
and hard white ice?
Will winter tell me what to surrender,
or not demanding tribute,
suffer this night to pass me by?
Warm in my iceless study,
Am I safe from dragons happening by?
Maybe I'll pretend that winter's a phase,
a shadow at my window:
What squats at my door,
its austere exhalations telling me
all I must know of the
fine severity of ice?
In the shadows – in the twilight,
in the morning – through the night,
one soul searches, seeking, trying,
looking, longing, soaring, crying,
Feeling wildly in the night,
as the darkness takes her flight.
Hoping now to find her shelter,
knowing not what things have felt her.
Wishing, hoping, longing, caring,
thinking, praying, wanting, daring,
calling out, though no one hears her.
Spirits echo, and it fears her,
haunting her with icy fingers,
and the loneliness still lingers.
Turning now, she sees beyond her,
as the darkness tries to shun her,
glistening in the distance, further,
rays of light, as hope engulfs her.
Running now, she tries to reach where
"light of dawn", secure to be there.
Racing, laughing, stumbling, going,
flying, crying, feeling, knowing.
Then--one small step to make to be there.
Oh, what joy, what things to see there.
Stopping now, she feels the coldness,
as the arms of darkness holds her,
so restraining, so unfolding,
frightening, tightening, now so cold and...
Once again, a soul exploring
in the night, one spirit soaring,
looking, seeking, searching, flying,
finding, laughing, losing, crying.
I walk into tomorrow
ignorant and blind
fingering the silver lining,
my life an octopus of
Details are for the least of the talented
and planning ahead is for the unseeing.
I am the single cloud above the sunset
fleeing attachment yet
seeking the front of the storm.
I open my inner self
to others at the same
rate that glaciers carved
the Great Lakes
and ground boulders into
the Indiana Sand Dunes.
Don't you see how humorous,
and witty I am?
Don't you see the unlimited talent
hidden carefully so as
to avoid bravado?
All those disappointments,
once hidden in my psyche
like balloon ghosts
are now in secret Swiss bank accounts
whose account numbers
were mulched into compost,
they stay with me
as the frozen footsteps of yesterday.
Fritz told me tales
that would wag a dog -
crazy ideas he swears are true.
Like the time he came home
drunk and was hungry for eggs and hash -
such is the can of Red Heart dog food
when seen through drunken eyes.
Good, he said, the stuff tasted good
and when his mother asked if their
dachshund ate the whole can,
Fritz told her he did.
She didn't believe him.
Then there were the times
Fritz sank canoes and before that rowboats.
He's not vicious, just unsteady, he says.
He steps in and boats go under.
He comes close and they slide past.
Picture this, he says, orange
life vest strapped on snugly -
adult large and too small,
hand firmly gripping canoe
and before God and five mortals
over we go, aluminum launch and me,
two feet of watery embarrassment
pulling unsteady feet, taunting him
with lapping laughter.
Stuff like that happens to some people,
their stories more real than the events,
the results less than each telling.
Who's to say that perfection brings
more bliss, that perfect shaped moments
linger any better on time's passing page.
I see more than you know
about all you are,
and through my observations
and from my analysis
I've concluded that
I love you.
Not a theory
quite simply a fact --
I love you,
and that's that.
(From his books Kairos
and 10 Love Poems)
It was planned, you see,
Conceived in sweat and passion,
then nurtured and fed
by words like stars and springtime,
their lissome sounds rippling forth
in joyful affirmation
of the Ultimate.
It was to grow and take form,
the lines angular and striking
or curved in enjambment,
the phrases a dancing trochaic
or an iambic parade
to embrace the muse.
But the phonemes resisted
and buzzed, whirred and ring-rang
without rhyme or reason
while letters morphed into meters
of hexa- and penta- or steadfast spondee
where no feet belonged.
So the ode became an elegy,
as after prolonged labor
it was delivered
limp and voiceless,
the presumptive image of nothing
but a moment of glory
and deceptive delight.
The bus's waiting,
the seat's still empty.
Get on board, children, before it's too late;
take your God-given place.
wipe your tears, soothe the pain from your face
for remembrance of Rosa's spirit's still aplenty.
Look, her seat's still empty,
take your rightful-given spot.
Get on board before it's too late;
let your wild steed do your run.
Hurry, hurry, children,
take a stand, let your courage out the gate.
Freedom's snatched sometimes without blood shed or a gun.
Take my hand, sit down
for Rosa sat to take a stand.
Place your mark, open the gate
let freedom's wild steed out.
It's not too late.
Sit to help others stand with no hate.
The mind's vision is stronger than the hand.
Sit yourselves, children.
The bus's still waiting,
and remembrance of her spirit goads us still
when prejudice tangled our justice, our soul's will,
Our color tied false equality to the front bus seats.
Her courage bears hope for everyone.
A rose for Rosa
for the hatred she's undone.
And for her undaunted courage,
we all give
honor to her spirit still showing us how to live.
Our Rosa for our rights
got on board,
took her seat.
Children, why are you still on your feet?
(First published by The Rockford Review,
Vol XXV, No 2, 2006. Prize winner)
Pharaoh walks along the Nile
escorted by a panoply
of guards, hearing only
the gentle lap of water
against the shore
and sparrows serenading dusk.
Who will listen for the cry
welling from the muck
beneath the surface,
the siren song of souls
afloat, looking for mothers?
Who will notice the red
tint of water polluted
by innocent blood?
Who will sing a song
of remembrance for each
small boy ripped
from the sheltering arms
of a compassionate father?
What mother will find courage
to stroll the path by the river?
What sister could pull herself
from the bank where she loiters,
What brother will stalk
the delta looking for bones?
Who will stand against
Pharaoh? Who will purify
his ears, teach him to hear?
(First published in Rockford
Review, Summer 2008)
Acute angle squeezes the sun
Backpacks bump against blue-jeaned butts
Baseball cleats click the sidewalk
Inside a battered screen door
Cold Genuine Draft
Waits beside Kentucky Fried
Tires crunch a stone driveway
Engine hum cuts off
Barks, shouts, laughter
Someone is home
To mow the lawn
Fix a bike
I wait for the one
Who cannot come
Dance to the music in my head
Drape my arm over ghostly shoulders
Press lower body to remembered thighs
Till physical need is spent
And tomorrow is possible
The day no airplanes flew,
my mind raced back to a time
I lay on drying summer grass
under two tall pines that served
as sentinels to my childhood home.
Branches swayed showing off a clear blue sky.
I understood then the color of green leaves,
the blue of the sky,
were inexplicably but permanently linked.
The sky, where stars hang at night,
white clouds roam and storm clouds gather.
Later, I learned the clouds cast shadows
under which I played.
What day, then, did I come to think
of vapor trails as clouds?
Of planes as transportation to far away places?
I thought all this, but only for one moment,
the day no airplanes flew.
The older I get
the more I realize
what is true:
Chuckling over a comic strip with my wife
Attending a play with my son and daughter-in-law
Hearing my grandchildren tell what's happening in school
Praising my neighbor's tomato plants
Feeding the homeless with friends from church.
What I see in the paper or on TV
is a Potemkin Village
cardboard-thin and growing thinner.
And so it has been my whole life long
Terrorists in the Middle East, Ireland or Montana
Just a gang of thugs seeking power by recruiting dupes.
The Cold War: A game
(albeit a game of literally earth-shattering potential),
players on both sides
united in keeping their citizens from asking questions.
World War: Once the fighting starts,
there are no "good guys," "bad guys."
"Good" and "evil" leave the moral realm.
degenerate into political slogans
What am I to do but withdraw
into a smaller and smaller orbit
until, as if pulled into
an astronomer's black hole,
I disappear altogether.
DON’T BE FOOLED CHILDREN NEVER GRIEVE IN PUBLIC
THEY GRIEVE WHEN THEY WAKE UP AND AT BED TIME
PLEASE, ANOTHER STORY ABBA
DON’T SHUT THE LIGHT OFF YET ABBA
I WISH EEMA COULD COME BACK
WILL YOU SIT WITH ME ABBA, I FEEL SAD
I DO TOO HE SAYS
SQUISHING DOWN ON THE FLOOR BESIDE HER BED
There is as much truth in believing
that one can understand the form
as in thinking one does not.
Abstract artist believes that
formlessness is the true reality of form
but in actuality form in itself
is neither form nor formless.
It is in our thinking it takes
a shape of its own.
The abstract nature of truth
is real for one person without any doubt
whereas it is unbelievable to the other.
The glass is half full is as true as
the glass is half empty.
God has a definite physical form
in the mind of a Hindu
as he perceives his Gods
in hundreds of forms -
in surrealistic and abnormal shapes and sizes
with so many varied weapons held
in His innumerable hands to annihilate the evil.
Other religions utterly reject the Hindu forms of Gods
believing that God cannot be defined at all
as is beyond the power of the human mind.
Is it not true
worshipping God with open eyes
or praying Him with closed eyes
are one and same?
I take a last look at a raccoon
before he too becomes extinct.
Strange face, wonderful
little mask, deft feet--no human
could have conceived
of such a creature. No human
could create a being like this:
delicate whiskers, lively ears,
body fluid as moonlight
and shadow. And he runs
scampering into the depths
of dark trees, running
for his life
as we watch
one last time.
(Published in HazMat Review, Fall '06)
only waits just so long in the shadows
until he peeks out, anxious to hang about.
I, too, am finally ready to dance with him
and mend. Had enough of bleak dreams,
shadows and queasy feelings. Think I'll
give sunshine a chance.
All gosh upmost joy she much so
has, kindly exploding out of
her ice cream sundae heart
topped with quips and smiles
while spinning effervescent futures
or singing laughinations out of
I-dare-you presents or geysering
forth with heartacious good will.
From upper, inner wheremost
emerges bouncing and penetrating she,
who can jump a moon or be one
without or with a cow or three.
Breezy of soul, a dreamer of whims
that go wham and ideas that go am, she
and her wand zing out angel dust from within
to make stiffness and topsies turn dancingly turvy.
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