Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dearly Departed in D Minor

I'm putting this here, though I think it's a ways from baked.  This was one of those 'first thought, best thought' approaches to writing.  Not necessarily as polished or precise as I would like - and not sure what I was trying to say until I said it.  Curious as to where it will end up after some time spent sharpening it. 

Dearly Departed (in D Minor)

Yo Yo Ma said no
when I asked him to play my funeral.
How could he commit?
No date, no idea if 
I’d get run down tomorrow
or live 36 more years, 
dying in Birmingham or Bali.
That’s a mighty imposition to a world-class artist, 
not being able to give him a call time.

After all,
he’s got concerts and recitals
recording sessions and public appearances.
Probably a family of his own
and groceries to buy.

I could ask another cellist.
Someone anonymous.
Someone here in town.
But really, what’s the point
if I can’t have the best.

It’s my funeral, after all.
It’s my day, my 45 minutes.
The abysmal hymns
the eulogy from a stranger
who has been told I was a good man, 
because what else would you say?
The uncommitted tears of cousins and acquaintances,
a stray neighbor or two
because I fed their fish when they went to Daytona.
Geographic obligations disguised as tribal ritual.

The man in the foyer,
greeting downcast eyes with the perfect cocktail
of grief and comfort,
a pocket lined with Altoids and Kleenex.
The guest book, the little beige bulletin
that tells everyone what to expect
like a church service
or a Broadway show.

Jesus, what a treat it would be - 
instead of some senescent wig-pated organist 
pumping “How Great Thou Art” 
through rusted pipes and fragile ankles,
to hear a true master coax 
Bach or Brahms to visit
Baiting them with the gentle dignity 
of spruce top and maple back
horsehair and sheep gut. 
A bow borne of bone.

Something in D minor,
that saddest of keys, 
to lament my fruitless efforts 
to get it right in this life.
A dirge to remind everyone
that even if 
the world’s greatest cellist 
plays your funeral.
You won’t hear

note of it.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Neruda Island

Neruda Island 

Poets, priests, and politicians.
Was it Sting who lumped them all together?
Some song about the nonsense they speak,
how words seduce and betray.

What did the poets do 
to get such a rancid reputation?
Name-dropped next to those
desperate to claim souls
and those posturing 
to appear they have one.

If we abandoned
Pablo Neruda 
Pat Robertson
and Paul Ryan 
on a cold and lonely island,
only one could fill his belly,
sleep at night,
and trust the tides.

The Fountainhead and 
The Book of Deuteronomy 
sink beneath their weight
doomed by dread and density.
But El libro de las preguntas 
floats soft as cedar
the belly of a gull
gentle, resting 
undistracted by fear. 
Only a poet can find
equanimity between
welcoming death’s caress 
or drifting safely homeward, 
because only the poet knows
they are the same thing.

Monday, January 8, 2018

not every moon is about you

I'm pretty happy with this far.

Not every moon is about you

Maybe Jesus died just for you
chanting your name in rhythm
with the cracking of His holy bones.
And your great great patriarch signed the Constitution
your personal freedom knelling 
with the tintinnabulation of his quill. 
Perhaps Edison thought only of your form 
when inspired to capture light and shadow
Your contours, silhouetted in his eye.
And Einstein longed for your adoration
making equations into Quixotic euphonies. 

But not every moon is about you
The sunset is unimpressed with your awe
Stars skim the sky 
detached from desire
your wishes dying 
on the deafened raven rooftops.

Oceanic acedia
The disenchanted tidal sway 
desirous of nothing from you
but to be left alone

Unlike you,
this world is most content 

with the notion of alone.

Saturday, January 6, 2018



Heaven doesn’t have a jukebox.
You just put quarters
in Charlie Parker’s chinos

And tell the angels 
to shut the hell up
with their abysmal hymns.

Fold up your wings
Sit down
Have some gin
and drop the cherubic facade
for one goddamn minute
while Bird exhales.

Just listen.

Hear that?
That’s how you win souls.

There’s your irrefutable evidence.
There’s your divine & wordless salvation.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


So, I found out there's a term for these free verse poets with their (VERY) short musings on social media.  They are "Instapoets", and I am apparently attempting to join their ranks.

There's a real part of me that feels like this approach to poetry is slapdash and sloppy.  The thought I would put into a piece of short fiction was often laborious and the honing of words took weeks, sometimes months.

These pieces fly off my fingertips.  I go back and craft, and some feel inadequate and unpublishable, but some are born in ten minutes and feel every bit as good as what is now being published online and in these tiny anthologies of twelve and fifteen word poems.

Bukowski sweated more profusely.  Kerouac bled at least a bit.

And what of the poets of true and honest verse?  There are people who are doing this legitimately and professionally whom I know and admire.  I feel like I'm a poser stepping into an arena where true artists share their hard-earned, highly crafted words.

I don't want this to become pedestrian.  I want it to matter and to be worthy.

I'll keep at it.  And I'll try to maintain the spark of joy while honoring the muse and her rules for legitimacy.

American Diner

American Diner

There’s a white man in a MAGA cap
sitting alone at a booth.
Lapping chili
Gulping tea.
To his back a black man
reading the Times
Blowing on 
a steaming cup of coffee.
Moments before,
each said a silent prayer.