So many unpleasant faces
ruin a beautiful view.
Angry reds instead of cool blues,
calm ease.
Too many bruises
scream to be free
of burden
of skin and blood.
Tribute to the Muses,
pleasing balm of misery,
that I be allowed
their resplendent disgrace.
child in crumpled corner silently sings
to hold tears, tongue, repent, appease.
Songs of laughing eyes a’float in kindness —
happy fantasy to pretend to reminisce.
Where does it start?
A life, a mind, a set of states of being?
Innocence, vulnerability, not having
practice of precepts that frame awareness.
Why she yells, unmasks her ugly face;
why he shakes and strikes and blubbers.
Contorted eyes, cheeks, mouth
loud to invoke terror.
Violation, violent broken boundaries;
monstrous, fearsome,
because grotesque beyond comfort.
So unthinkable
we call it myth, delusion.
Iconic target for hatred.
A twisted face to pin on evil tales, to
spit out sobbing poisons, paint in shades
lies that harden into revelations,
legends, the stuff of nightmares
and deflected shame.
Memory’s child, forced to hopeless obliviation long before
a chance for clarity, sense of agency,
for a self to determine.
A child wants the safety of hearth and tribe,
of happy fairytales, everyone well fed and
tucked to bed, caressed in love that hugs away
the slavering beast.
A child wants, a busy mother wants,
a charming serpent, cowering servant, honest merchant
wants. Voice of sympathy, soothing harmony,
innocent pleasure.
No room to complain.
You enjoy when offered reasonably clean and unspoiled
food to fill that screaming hole of hunger.
Irregular shelter where maybe you can sleep, escape
all the pain and wailing indignity.
Sing for your supper; patrons toss coins to amuse,
rapacious, their cultured appetites.
A darkened Church (candles saved for opulent ritual
— none may steal this God’s fire), blood bond, sacrifice.
Taste of copper and iron.
We are of the Earth, Her mighty Sun, of
tides and moonbeams and molten seas.
Not love —
chemistry, explosions, immortal fire.
I have wandered, blundered forth as a leaf in the wind,
as a pebble scoured by erratic waves, as
a child of Man loosened from mortality.
If there are stories I could tell my mind
to feel safety in dreaming, to feel
a possibility of home,
I have yet to find them.
Still, I listen for a voice to believe, for a song
that might feel like hope,
or finality.
Shell-shocked from this war of all against all.
Live where you belong:  right here; right now.
Here’s to the weary.
Here’s to the fun.
Here’s to the berry that makes us all young.
Here’s to the rulers.
Here’s to the fools.
Here’s to the toilers and tellers of truths.
Here’s to the end of another decline.
Here’s to the best of our time.

Agrarian Age

In Spring we speak of seeds.
Bundled possibilities
foresee market days hale and fair.
Succulent fruit, trilling herbs,
vitalizing veggies
and all the spicy chatter of conviviality.
First there was the seed
plowed under to taste Earth,
swell with water,
burst into fecund brew designing
cells of chlorophyll to catch the fire,
symbiotically breathe, exchange,
enrich atmosphere, feed broader life.
Sacred seed
honored in mystic ceremonies,
deeply deified in chthonic memory.
We carry the seed of our fathers,
the toil of our mothers,
the hopes and fears of our teachers and tribe,
over rocky terrain, in hidden caves through
ice and flood and slavering predation,
never doubting nobility of destiny.
On appointed days, carefully watching solar/lunar
our assigned labor commences. Busy as any
bird or bee, we commit seed to chosen ground
with all the magic we can command.
Then, off to bacchanalia, reveling in a grand scheme
promising sustenance, renewed strength, ebullient plans,
romances, unnumbered chances for pride
and glory.
Thus goes the story we retell in lullaby,
in schoolyard intimacies and scholarly lies,
puffing up our little share of knowledge as armor,
protection from overwhelming vastness
of mystery, shades of colors without name.
Unclear on the protocol of shame, unwilling to admit
to ignorance that might unsettle carefully laid
hierarchies, unloose gates inviting chaos or worse,
we designate fruit for sacrifice to gods of greed and vice,
gleefully watch the rending of they who are not me.
“I, too wise for such ill use, repeatedly proven
by my abuse of these unworthy foes I refuse to admit
as kin — sinners, Lord.  Surely I’ll not be taken in,
not take them in.  Not share the bounty of your seed,
gifted to the chosen.”
Even in these days of polluted dirt, of work
demoted to laughable commodity,
idly watching waste stream into muddy rivers,
we can feel bolstered by occasional feasts
of vicarious blood, throwing hostile unsanctified
into the raging flood,
desperate attempt to stem an unquenchable tide,
while hiding any glimpse of doubt lest shadow
presage disaster.
Devolving, devouring both fruit and seed,
rather than part with
convenience of familiar fantasy.

March Hare 

Another kind of rabbit hole.
Ghastly dark and bruising.
No recompense of wonder.
No luxury of child’s imagining.
No spritely tea time story.
Only caustic mud awaits below
at tumbling’s end.
Young rabbit hops
beside Edenic flowers,
sniffs puissant nectar in the air.
I am complete in this instant.
Now, I leap to a farther garden
to taste the bitter charms,
the salty repartee, tropic spice
and cold beer. Sense, sensation,
cessation of sensation —
not happiness, not bliss.
The essential can not
be sought.
No destinations wave aloft
as banners.
We act.
We affect.
We move on.
I am the rabbit.
That chic Alice had the hots
for me and we had planned
to hole up for awhile.
But then thing’s got too
surreal.  Lewis Carroll,
wacky jabber?
I began to feel used
as a plot device.
Can you blame me?
I ate some of Caterpillar’s
mushroom, grew into
a pooka and moved
in with Jimmy Stewart.
Redubbed myself Harvey.
Loved the cocktails.
Later, I haunted Donnie Darko,
puzzle poser of his final fall.
What I mean to say is
that fiction
is born, bred, propagated
out of pain, vanity, desperation
and the humor we conjure
to spite it all.
I have no legitimacy.
It is enough if
I deign to cavort at your call.

Child of War

My daddy died saving our country
My mommy cries, so sad and lonely
But I can see, she’s also scared.
Our neighbors spit our names like swears.
I try to be respectful and kind.
They curse out threats, scream “We’re not blind,
you people are evil, your faith makes you kill.”
Sometimes if I stand, eyes closed, so still
I can hear my daddy say “Be strong,
my precious child.  Those people are wrong.
Wars aren’t decreed by Gods from above.
War is the sad fruit of the failure of love.”


Let’s talk about this.
Exactly what are we afraid of?
Different skins, different cultures?
“These people are not like us.
We best expunge their presence.”
Legends ratify; we fear
and fight encroaching barbarians.
Bloody receding panorama
of battle upon battle.
Millennia built in genocide
proudly proclaimed.
We stand, erect shield, stalwart warriors.
Rough, sharp, incendiary,
valiant barrage barricade.
Protect Our valued and values
from Their predation.
Lines must be demarcated clearly.
Womanly, childish fuzzy vulnerability
walled far behind, confined to
defended shelters,
kept at bay with bitter sneers,
raucous recreation.
These patterns inculcated over
generations serve us well,
minimize weakening contamination.

Firelight Story

Oh my children,
not so very long ago,
probably in many places still,
we lived in communities
in which we had pride and dignity.
Small enough for everyone to
know your name.
Large enough to provide diverse
resource of skills
and personalities.
Caring, squabbling, challenging
as family.
Able to leap beyond petty animosities
and find a way when a way
must be found.
Entrenched in lessons of former days,
preparation for breaking future ground.
Not just a pretty myth
like heroic champions who protect,
subtract our sins.
Community, adaptive growth within
a solid sphere,
a social network of mutual support,
often said to be what we are here for.
(I hear you sneer; you who tear down magic,
hope, shared trust.)
It could be, community,
our prayed for cure (balancing salvation)
to the follies of humanity’s
deadly love
of war.

Child’s Prayer


Forcibly pulled from eternity’s
perfect view.
Wrenched out of limitless beauty.
Damned to dependent servitude.
Yet incipient brilliance, potent skills
offered no access route.
Disallowed, stamped down, suppressed.
Kept captive, starved,
brutalized, not for crime
nor failing,
nor even blackguard’s reward of cruelty.
Conjuring puissant spirit
ought not be lightly perpetrated.
Never taught essential honor
attests poor training
for mentor responsibility.
May my nascent plea
whisper shrilly, disturb your
inner ear?
Release my wings.
You have no use for 
the person I would grow to be.
Set my future free.  Let me fly home.

Our Gang

Depression’s defiant face.
Embrace of power as tribute.
Craven entrained impulse.
Brutal howl.  Jangling
puppets at puppy play
bite, brawl, entangle,
grab and tussle,
growl, muscle in for the kill.
Bloodlust aroused.
Natural as puke, as death,
as dung.
Violation, ecstatic orgy of defiling violence,
initiation to the brotherhood.
Communal survival elevated to ideals; benign goals,
careful weighing of coin and hours,
dependable promises, actions that honor can favor,
love, duty, allegiance to the rules of sanity
and kind regard
have no sanction here.
Men of blood and battle fluid
need no noble speeches, no valor —
merely feed and receptacles
for their waste.

Battle Fatigue

Honoring righteous anger.
Not mean little sprites,
ire-clad knights protecting me.
Cradling so fiercely.
“Oh, no, dear, never forgive, never forget.”
Torture is no way to say you’re sorry.
Love whispered my etheric name
in receding memory.
Told me tales.
Told me lies.
I told myself those stories,
whispers in the night
bereft of sleep.
I sang myself of soft surrender.
Of gentle fragrant days,
dappled radiant degrees,
lusty heat-soaked revelry.
Noise of speechless secrets.
Poignant, so intense.
Spiking anger
burns me through.
Each synapse.
Each myelin sheathe.
Blood, guts, lungs, heart.
Viral penetration consumes.
I am languid and torn.
Strength, potency, ardor laid low.
Intermittently I rally
to fight desiccating tears,
private lore,
my own field of battle.
No one steps forth for me,
to offer my surrender.
Battle weary,
I can not bear to  breathe.
The anger breathes for me.
Gently it wraps me in
caustic steam,
sings a battle song
urging me to take action
as it soothingly scrapes off
red, itchy scabs,
refreshes my wounds.

Battle Plan

Letting go of draconian dross
to blithely delight in ironic play.
Letting go of the old distress,
the plaintive plights of that other day.
Letting go, going forward, lilting, laughing,
wry dry wit.
Letting go without a paddle.
You know, I’ve learned a bit in battle.
My task is not grasping a winning trick,
but just getting on with it.