on the other realm
calming my fears
he comes near.
While windows reflect
that which is within—
what is without
spirits secretly collect.
Sound of distant laughter
invisible presence near,
floor squeaks with step
yet nothing is there.
Calling my name
I sense his tears
he wants to play
no-thing to fear.
These halls are his
calling his name
spirits play the game.
I speak in mind,
he happily hears—
I speak in voice,
he comes near.
I show him the stars
he sees what is right,
new spirit in flight
Atticus Abbey found the light.
As I drove past my childhood dwelling all I could see was scaffolding and crushed bricks,
When I turned on the tv I saw reporters interviewing the last hold out which was tenant Annie Ricks!
But I recall when residents weren't forced to pack their bags,
Times when as a unit our building went on trips to Six Flags!
I remember when the women of the building committee prepared dinners,
I recall attending Christmas and Halloween dances and being the winner!
I remember going to White Sox games and Ringling Brothers circus
with with Lower North Center,
I remember going to Seward Park and watching the Jesse White Tumbling Team enter.
I remember once when the Globetrotters visited Cabrini and my sister got a photo op,
I remember when teachers told us we could be anything we wanted to be because we were the cream of the crop!
Times when our graduation promenade were to songs like "Children Hold On To Your Dreams" and "Ain't No Stopping Us Now,"
Songs that told us that actions speak louder than words and that good always triumphs over evil somehow.
So with those words in mind I will end this edition of my journey down memory lane on a positive point,
Because Cabrini Green wasn't just an eyesore in the middle of a metropolis it was a vibrant joint.
In class someone said as a joke,
"The universe must be expanding."
Immediately, my brain began to poke
in academia so demanding.
If God really does exist,
Did he create Darwin as well?
Is Darwin who is missed?
Could he be burning in Hell?
One minute you feel Heaven is real,
and you feel salvation secure.
But not everyone sees the appeal,
everyone thinks that they're pure.
Is Christian Science just a cult?
Is scientology a threat?
Will God be sending a lightning bolt
on every person you've met?
Could we have come from apes or the sea?
Is a big bang possible?
Is each and every philosophy
reserved for mental hospitals?
Obviously, the earth is complicated,
I believe that it had to be created.
This philosophy may be outdated,
and I will probably get berated.
They said the universe is expanding,
but the god of my understanding
loves every person he has made
love him and do not be afraid.
I'm not a total saint or sinner,
in spirituality I'm a beginner.
I'd rather not rely on superstition,
but I have had a premonition.
If history is drawing to its conclusion,
Then let us no longer have confusion!
Things get better on the other side,
I cannot prove it, I haven't yet died.
I've just heard that there is a Heaven,
Where things can't happen like 9/11.
Or hurricanes tossing us to and fro,
it is the place you would want to go.
I may not know chemistry or science,
but I've spent my life in defiance.
Now is the time to get some reliance,
God is always looking for clients!
When I was young, I had a sense,
as I'd go in some strange new door.
I've seen this place, I know it well,
I know I've been here once before.
I was surprised there was a word
for such a sense, could it be true?
Some Frenchman said, long years ago,
I think I'll call it déjà vu.
And if I eat so much I'm stuffed,
a two pound roast, four plates of stew.
When all I want is my soft couch,
I've found out now, they've named that too.
I'm so amazed I'm not the first
whose excess food caused so much pain.
Sur-feit became a word before
the glory days of Charlemagne.
Well I'll show them, I'll coin a word,
an ideal word that's just for me.
I like to write, I like to rhyme,
a rhyme-ster then is what I'll be.
At last a word that's mine all mine.
A perfect word, for me today.
This word I know describes me well.
I'll add it to my resume.
But then one day I looked it up,
dictionaries are so perverse,
a rhyme-ster is, I now find out,
a writer of inferior verse.
a small farm-town Saturday night
I visited with older cousins
dancing at the community hall
cars parked diagonal on the street
a fat-tired Indian motorcycle
leaning on its kickstand
red and white paint glowing
in the beam of a street light
laughter and music pouring from the hall
as simple as my young mind could imagine
each experience still fresh and clear
as on that long-ago summer night
in this mystical unknown town
that existed only in that time and place
where it is locked unchanged forever
pigeons by a park bench
into dusty soil
where my smooth sole was
diseased elm and hemlock
labor upward into clouds
wearing dirty underwear
bloody the shade
halfway between the street
and the river
staging you smile
in my private theatre
of floodlights and saxophones
tasting your sweat-salt
on the broken lips
of my memory
cars rush by every one is speeding
cheating being a way of living
furry little animals chase each other in the bush
not so far removed from yesterday
and unforgivable romantics
seldom pass unnoticed
still they pass more ordinary than not
ending up back home alone
Wicked construction is causing our destruction,
Bursting at the seams;
Ingest the pun of our warring fun:
Fallout descends like streams.
The sun is dim, the moon is grim,
The sky is a ghastly red;
The stars are gone, Apocalypse shall dawn—
The living envy the dead.
World War III arrived so rapidly—
Upon our heads it fell;
Will it last like the ones of the past?
That only time will tell.
Like fools we slept as decadence crept—
We never had a clue;
The moral decay of the modern day
Is all so sad but true.
The world was in bliss—so how'd it come to this?
Perversions exact a toll;
Drowning in a vortex of money, fame and sex—
We spiral out of control.
Satan struts and grins at Humankind's sins—
He's aroused by our death and doom;
With holiness retreated and humanity defeated,
He stumbles upon a tomb.
While reading the epitaph, Satan spits out a laugh,
It reads: The end of Earth nears.
And standing alone before His heavenly throne,
Our Lord God holds back His tears.
After every storm
I walk our property
surveying for tree
the riding mower
to a cart, I load up
craggy walnut limbs,
leafy branches of
pin oak, soft brushes
of pine, moving them
to a stack at the back
of our country lot. Add
the occasional woven
nest lined with birdsilk.
All spring and summer
the pile grows higher until,
one crisp day in October,
I gather our grandchildren.
Grandpa starts the bonfire
by throwing out a bottle
of gasoline, the fireball
lighting up the cold night
to a cacophony of screaming
fear and delight, imaginary
gremlins and dragons hissing
and writhing in the glaring firelight.
(Published by Bellowing Ark)
The men gather—
tall and short
and young, fresh-faced
friendly and withdrawn
dark skin and light
Each wounded by war's dark memories
When two begin speaking of explosives
bagging body parts to send back home
another begs them to change the subject
he can't pen a poem
because now his head
with body bags,
mangled feet and fingers
the things he most wants to forget
(Previously published in Rock River Times)
What I know is ...
But don't know
But don't think
Most are certain
But are insecure
Most see black and white
But not gray
What I know is ...
I don't know
I relearn this everyday
And I am grateful
she stepped, elegant and refined
out of a Flemish painting
brown hair tied back
fine silver earrings
belted blue-gray silk
over white cotton
a slim black skirt
tall boots, high heeled, square toed
out of the past
and will return
when evening comes on
A woman arrives in Virginia
from Africa in chains.
In this cruel new land
A woman arrives in New England
more dead than alive.
Was it blessing or curse
she didn't miscarry aboard ship?
She gives birth to her daughter
Emerging from wigwam, teepee, hogan, pueblo, igloo,
a woman faces the rising sun
In tobacco field, by lake shore,
under redwood canopy, on canyon rim,
a woman sings.
From Poland, Russia, Italy, China, Vietnam, Mexico
more women arrive.
Each sings in her own voice.
That is her magic.
When all learn to sing together,
that is her strength.
The finger of Santa Teresa
points brown and delicate,
cut from her right hand
for viewing by the faithful,
its small gold ring set with
a square blue jewel, its fingernail
growing small hairs like whiskers.
The plain glass vial
clouds with five hundred years
of piety. Models of her castanets
click silently in the next case.
Today, Easter Sunday, we recall
not her stigmata but her ecstasies,
a foretaste of resurrection.
Once, with Juan de la Cruz,
Teresa levitated while discussing
the Trinity. Both clutched their seats
and felt themselves lifted,
chairs and all, by the hand
of the Almighty. Pointless
to resist His will.
We leave the museum,
not sure if the tapping we hear
emanates from the soles of our shoes,
the mahogany castanets under glass,
or the ring clacking in the reliquary.
-after Charles Simic "Errata"
Where it says plums
I write bruises on the lips.
Where it says stroke write
you thrum the measure of my spine,
make rhythm on zither.
Where it says cocoon write skin.
Where it says skin, write my iced desire.
Chafe remains chafe.
Each time parchment tears,
think of words shredded
change bluster to lust.
Remove all spaces.
They are words in need of ink.
I couldn’t bring myself to say.
Put a finger over the arch of your brow—
it will curtain your lie.
The tongue still perjures.
Will there be time left to rewrite
all offenses to the mind,
all shoes pens teas fiction,
all orchids pools deserts and thumbs.
Believing the pretense,
my greatest mistake.
I gave credence to your words
when I might have shunned
When you go for a walk
in your nearby forest,
you see pairs of cardinals
and thrill to their singing.
One time you overheard
two owls conversing
between bare trees.
In summer you have
at a heron standing
beside your lake.
Birds of beauty
want to be near you.
Your heart flies up
with these fliers
and knows into
Today as I walked
across an open field,
hundreds of crows
snidely cawing from
After they were gone,
I walked on in silence
and knew nothing.
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