Sunday, June 30, 2013

Guiding lights.

What happened to grandmothers
sent away to grow old
in the privacy of other old people
with pain in their legs
and noise in their ears
while their children were too busy to notice
the dying light around them?

And fathers too, and big brothers and sisters
corralled with their toys, in their rooms
communal goals far from their keyboards?

And the old man in the neighborhood
who could bring history
alive just by pointing
to that building
that bench
at the corner
of your life
and that of all the others
who came before you?

How is a girl to know that she is pretty enough and smart enough to
be desired and to desire, if she doesn't hear her dreams in the voice of her elders?

How is a boy tested and told how to hold back, to be gentle
to those who need him; to be tough with himself, that what he senses as power
doesn't entitle him to own anyone, or to demand anything that isn't given freely to him?

How do we tell folks to walk a straight line among the rubble when the lights have been turned off and everyone is alone to find their guiding soul?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

No expectations.

Big reeds surrounding this dock protect the tiny
young trying to survive these waters
as the southern wind batters the pilings
and moves the sand to the surface
 agitating all kind of debris below surface.

Nowadays, nobody stands here casting expectations out to the deep-
boards old with creaking sounds
reeds eternally engaged with lures.

Nowadays, we're content to stand still for just a while longer
watching young fries in the shadows
wishing that one day
after they grow fat
and contented in the ocean, they would
desire nothing more
than a return to
the shadow of these reeds, for
a chance to meet expectations. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Afraid to speak.

There were three musicians who had played together before, were comfortable with the pieces they chose, and their lives today were no different than the other times when they take their chairs and perform in public.

The poets and storytellers too were pros, veterans of many such gatherings, where family and close friends meet to listen and appreciate a good piece of music close and up-front, where an afternoon is easily shared with the neighbor down the street or the mayor and his wife.  Yes, these kinds of events are familiar to lots of people.

I was on my maiden voyage here, reading three poems from this blog, all dark and ponderous and not at all in the same light mood as the Vivaldi piece we heard.
I apologized for the dark themes; and then turned the mike to another poet whose verses are light and whimsical. Everyone applauded.

At the end, as I walked off in the rain toward my car, one of the musicians told me how my words had touched her. "We are not supposed to talk about depression, but I knew just where you were, with each poem. I have been there!"

Thank you, I said, and smiled back at her. I wanted to hug her then and there, in the rain, on the street, in front of everyone. It's always good to know another soul goes through what you go through.

The next day, my neighbor told me I made her feel guilty. Why? Because I didn't realize you have been feeling this low all this time and I wasn't there for you.

It's all good, I said. We all feel lots of stuff all the time. I was just voicing what we avoid voicing.

Monday, June 17, 2013


at us
in the deep of night
the deep divide
between wishing
and fearing.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


A day is a long time to know a man
from the minute he wakes
to the minute he passes out
right after a big meal, a proper man-meal
meat and potatoes,corn on the cob
a couple of beers.

No use asking about the day, on such a day
though people say sex was in and out of his mind driving 
to the 9 to 5 job that was more like the 7 to 7 stand-by with 
that commute, the late meeting, the rush to get a bunch of
flowers for her birthday he just remembered.

The only time they were together this day and any other day
when each travels the city, drops off the
the kids, picks up the dry-cleaning
and groceries and back on the freeway,home for a meal and sleep
till the next alarm starts the day all over again.

One day, he says, we'll take a long vacation, where no driving is required and we get to stay in bed from seven to seven, all day, all night.

When do we eat, she asks?

(In homage to James Joyce's Ulysses. A day in the life.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A dead end day

Do I train myself to walk
longer and harder, or do I give
in to pain
the end of season
accumulation of waste
the run-down feeling
that cares not
what comes next?

I'm worried for
everything these days
the sun not hot enough
the wind way too heavy.

Now that no one needs me
I need more than this
this empty cupboard feeling
this stay-in-place pace
no metronome except a death toll
waiting to end my days.

Greens will fade into gray in a few weeks
and nothing will catch my eye
as I drive
down the same old street
to the same old pharmacy
for the same
medications that will cover up the fear
of another day
adding another minute
to the unknown sum
that will be inscribed on the
last shard holding down my days.

Friday, June 7, 2013

secret paths

How did we end up
here,I mumble loud
enough for someone to hear
and nod
as she passes by
with three yelpers
cajoling them
to take their business on secret paths.

Oh, no
I don't care to listen to anybody's woes
cause after they have dumped
their dump
they are too tired to
listen to your dump.

wave at her
and return to my front door
before she engages me
with her doggy tales.

I must find a way to walk on my own.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I don't remember beautiful.

don't say it
my insides are matched by my outsides
wrinkled and crowded
and vying for attention
waiting for the shot
that stills the pain
and masks
the smell of overcooked bacon
invading this room.

(my muse this morning is Brian Miller's latest poem.Thanks Brian!)