The line in my garden
is September
box elder ant
make the final push
tomatoes turn red
in paper bags

The line in my garden
is October
chard kale spinach
tomatoes turn red
in paper bags

The line in my garden
is November
Cassandra beckons
no one hears




is a simple question
to answer

gutter balls and backstabbers
watergates and timetables
men dying in foreign lands
widows eating dog food
children growing
and not growing old
the front pages of newspapers
the back pages of autobiographies

is a simple question
to answer



your mouth could be
the death of you.

Lies are easily
and live
if only for awhile – at least
it is your while..

the golden
shrugs her shoulders.
Turn your back – at least
it won’t get shot at.

your mouth will
bleed words.

So what is
this “individual?”
served by the state-
of course.

your mouth
will be the death
of you.


after tiananmen

this mouth never hesitates
these hands plant seeds
bearing radishes
parsley tomatoes
i am a wonderful salad maker

eat of it and live

die without it
your soul will vanish

china china
you are the earth
and i am your blood


cutting the line

i’m doing it tonight
your voice won’t hear
my hello

i won’t
don’t want
your reply

no news good news

and wednesday
is just
another tuesday

i’ll live yesterday
and forget
today’s newspaper

yeah i’ve cut it

there’s a knock at my door

in memoriam Frederick Francis Birkam (9/16/1922-2/18/1981)

hired hand

the sweat of
this peon’s

cleaner than
the high collar
of your pomp

though you stomp
with your foot
the ants beneath you
squish them dying

though you crush
with your fist
the merest

ideas will germinate
from the smallest
of worms

haunt you with
ultimate truth


coming up for air

i’m going on down
to the beauty shop
for a face – lift
my body
going down

i’m going on down
to the station
passing away
these dreams are
getting me down

don’t call me tuesday
i’ll be down already
on monday

i’m going on down
to fashion square
for a costume
to hide
these tears
are getting me down

each time
i hang it up
my coat falls off
this nook
down to the floor

i’m going on down
yes i am
no use telling me
anchors hold you up
’cause i know they
pull you down
when you bury them

i’m going down these stairs
don’t push me up
i’m too heavy
faltering down these stairs
don’t block my way
i’ll bruise you

fainting on your shoulder
you wade me through
the icicles

you carry me
like a cross

and slowly
i breathe again


Costume party

You’re invited,
so you make-up your body
in masquerade tints
looking around you for a model.

There’s a goblin
always hungry,
never has enough.
He’d take your dinner
and your lung
leaving an empty bowl
to sup.
But you hate indigestion.
So you stop and wonder
How shall my soul be dressed?

There’s Napoleon
in a three cornered hat,
each corner stretching in the designs
of popular opinion
and centering on the man.
But you cannot bear the strength of those lies.
So you stop and wonder
How shall my soul be dressed?

There’s a martyr in the kitchen
he has sharpened his cutting ware
to carry at his side.
He strikes
for a holy cause
and dies early for right.
But you do not cherish bloody hands as a means
of reaching heaven
So you stop and wonder
How shall my soul be dressed?

There’s a toad
who can’t stop croaking
about the treacherous earth
doomed to collide with Mars.
Such nightmares do not haunt you though.
Yours is hope.

Don’t worry,
you can come as my friend.


Doctor doctor

My illness
is a part of me –
yet you, doctor,
try to cure it.

You heave your scalpel
into my brain –
the inquiring scientist

You attach your fingers
to the sound of my breast,
sorting through a maze of veins.
The stethoscope

Your investigations reveal
puzzle after
How can the human body
defy your capable hands?

You – surgeon –
put your hands
on the skeleton
of my heart.


Incurable disease
in the blood drenched words
of this writing paper.