I helped clean the church building today

because we needed cleansing.

We also moved rocks from one place to another

like Sisyphus

or Cool Hand Luke,

because we committed cosmic treason (yet we are pardoned).


At a local cemetery, I read the gravestones of renowned men

but I had never heard of any of them.

Made me ponder the silliness of everyone’s opinions.


I walked, like an apparition, among the grounds of the art museum

in the city: a man played 600-hundred-year-old songs for me on a lute;

Italian or Spanish pieces.

We were under a shade tree, which was under the sun,

which was under heaven.

The lute player and I were under heaven

as the songs’ aroma ascended.


I played guitar, sang, worked on my own songs (I am finding them).


Later that evening, I went to listen to a woman sing like Billie Holliday.

The doorman told me the place was full

and he invited me to sit at a table with him outside along the sidewalk.


We talked for hours about





and the people who feel entitled to be let inside the venue,

the interesting characters he encounters as a doorman,

how today’s weather is great –

and how tomorrow’s weather will be even better.  


At one of the other tables outside

is a group of young people.

One of them is dressed like Zorro:

black flat-brimmed hat, black coat,

black pants. Theatrical,




He is the loudest one at their table.

But I think he is not actually saying anything.

There is a quiet one – I want to hear that one talk.

I want to know what that person is thinking.


Isn’t that the way of it?


So many words,

so little said.

So much volume,

so little substance.

Taking so much space,

yet so empty.


There are people like this.


Do they puff themselves up because they know

there is actually nothing in them?


Must they sound bigger than they are because they feel small?


Minor infirmities are portrayed as life-threatening events,

skirmishes are spoken of as wars,

missteps are framed as utter failures.


Everything they say must be theatrical and inflated,

much like their thoughts.


Eventually, however,

the play ends –

whether it is I, II, or III Acts.

The audience goes home,

the curtain falls,

and the theatre of the small-minded wind-maker

is acknowledged as the mere distraction it always was.


The conversation with the doorman comes back to mind:

today’s weather is great

and tomorrow’s will be even better.  



“24 and One-Half Addresses” – An impressionistic poem about places I have lived…




Antebellum ghost walking down the hallway,

our bodies were replaced.



“H” Street,

I strummed a guitar for the first time,

fell in love with a dark-haired, elusive stranger.



Across the street from city hall,

broken glass fell from the sky,

cut the bridge of my nose.



Monterey green,


fountain poured over me.



Moved across the country,

tobacco barn smoke prayers,

half-blood wolf picks up my scent.



El Dorado,

but there was no gold,

only sensual emptiness.



Train tracks,

red mud,

tried to break away from her.




lost a child,





house on a lake,

hope and prospects.




medicine, broken bones, pinched nerves,

6 months in purgatory.



I met you in purgatory,

does that mean you were the darkness that surrounded me,

or the penny in my coffer?



We became reluctant neighbors,

I saw you making a blanket,

was it to warm or smother me?



Three neighbors,

you and I wrestled with each other,

first born son entered stage left.



We planted flowers,

our son tried to consume the earth,

then we all moved far away.



First island home,

ocean and typhoons,

we tried so hard to prevent the gale from tearing us apart.



Second island home,

waterfall down the stairs,

geckos, coconut crabs, our children danced in the rain.



Back in the mainland,

we finished our indentured servitude,

but go where and do what?



Landing spot just for starters,

accepted labor at white collar sweatshop,

we were so pressed and desperate.



Flew like birds to the West,

emerald city atop a hill,

seeds of resentment planted.



Little white house on acreage,

the summer burned us,

I left you behind while I found our wages.



First home that we called our own,

you never liked it, then cancer,

more resentment.



We decided to keep it weird,

little swimming pool across the street,

we could hear our neighbors making love.



We got lucky and found a nice place,

the woodwork was lovely and meth heads abounded,

the town felt like a beautiful, sweet cupcake hovering over Hades.



Back at the start of the trail together,

looking for breathing room and freedom from oppressors,

we found that we are our own oppressors.



We are two halves again and no longer one,

you departed to grasp at that fire-licked cupcake,

I am out of purgatory.


“Trajectory, Distance, and the Mathematics of Living”

To S.G. Glover:
Trajectory, Distance, and the Mathematics of Living

You always knew you would do something
and be

Seems like you knew what and who

Outrageous humor + deadly serious mindset + physical peril =
falling star.

Life broke your teeth
but you bit back,
chewed marrow from the threat of failure
and spit it back in the face of mediocrity.

Most men fear to glance at what you stare into.
Then again, most men never know 
the taste of marrow,
or exhilaration of mocking one’s fears.
Most men – if you can call them men – suckle like infants
their whole lives,
holding onto the skirt 
of a safe mommy universe.

Did you count the cost first?
Was it ever on your mind:
Pain + spectacle + stubbornness =
launch into space and millions of hearts and minds?

Leaf, liquor, powder, papercuts, staples, fire:
all beckon and deter, lower and lift.
They all give and take.

Many critiqued and mocked your mettle
until, of course, it launched you like a rocket into outer space.
Then, everyone wanted to ride your exhaust into the stratosphere
and join your constellation as you ascended.

Isn’t that the way of things?
Judgement and vitriol 
until the sweetness of success,
then idol worship.

The attitude and bullheadedness that led to vision
and success
also brought you destruction.
You wielded destruction for a time,
then it wielded you.

The mocker became the mockee.
I am not judging you.
We have all been there.
Hard lessons. 

True friends spoke what needed speaking,
painful truth,
searing reality.
The wounds of a friend 
are healing. 

Sometimes it is hard to discern which voices love us and which ones
call for our demise.
The math of life is often difficult to get right.
Equations get jumbled.
We lose track of the steps to solve for X.
Eventually, you listened to the Instructor.

Meditation for the mathematics of life: 

Love + painful truth + ears to hear =
second chances,
Phoenix rising.  




“Wandering Maiden”

Wandering Maiden” published in The Gravity of the Thing, October 2020


You were no snow angel
when we met.
But, you were a wandering maiden.

I was incognito revolutionary
with a bloody manifesto in my grip.
Loose grip.

Who really believes it anyway?
Revolution: how can we free ourselves from ourselves?
What insanity.

My wandering maiden knows better.
That is why she is always on pilgrimage
from no one, to nothing.

Being is the destination.

We never shared that hot drink in the frozen tundra.
Still, we drank of one another’s warmth.
amber resin scent on your breasts,
feral silken hair,
playful mockery,
knowing that we knew
but others knew not.

We ran from—and, to—one another.
How can that be?

What does this mean,
to be forever with one?
Wise naiveté is an iridescent existence—always nuanced and spectral.
Confident, yet unsure.

What a laugh.
The universe is laughing at us.

The world let us think—no, encouraged—and cajoled us
into believing
that if we penciled its most worshipful to-do list into our psyches,
we would be celebrated into the fold like lost (but found) sheep.

The world wants our marrow
then to spew us into Gehenna.
That is all.

The world’s to-do list?
A nose ring in the snout of a pig being led to slaughter.

Where is my wandering maiden?
I love her.
Where did I leave her?

The flash-bang of the to-do blinded me.
I stumble,
groping in the dark
amidst broad daylight.

I cannot see her, but I can hear.
She calls out to me with a battle cry:
You come to me! You!

Seek that which was lost.
Be found.
Walk the pilgrimage,
Claw your way through, if need be.

But, make the pilgrimage as you.

It is better to finish the journey
as a found, bloodied you
than a lost, impeccable stranger.