All hallowed eve

On all hallowed eve
the ghouls descend
from the picture perfect
walls – this graveyard
where the past is hanging
is a gallery of echoes –
pyramids of the Nile
and Alabama’s cotton fields
where souls are hijacked
by the fluidity of words –
no substance to
the language of a ghoul.

Men of straw will
vanish when the lion
roars – history
revisited when the
hunted has his word.
At last the language
gives creation its due,
blessing every living thing
from snake to toad to you.




I might find it amusing

I might find it amusing
to watch Rome fall
Ii I was a Toltec
or a visitor from Mars.
I’d smile at every
shout of greatness
as they tarry off
to hell, but then
the iter carries me
and I can only weep
for once was great society
rambunctious in their words
turned sycophant and unctuous
to dictatorial – worst
instincts on display.
The coming of the dawn
will not show us at our best
but only what could have been
mankind you bomb again.



Throw that stick

Throw that stick!
Toss that stone!
Your tweet belongs
to you alone.
The First Amendment
your right to say
whatever you please.
So publish Wolff,
and have your say-
to the death I defend it
to my dying day.


Birds of a feather

The sparrow houses young
in crevices come spring-
the constant chatter is
how he sparkles, and to
the feeder he swarms –
no fault of his own
this internment
on American shores.

The bane of farmer
and woodpecker
the starling has from Europe
brought a foreign sound
to every native thing.
The sweeping murmuration
small consolation
for the havoc he brings.

The silent swan,
sweet bird of Will
defends his property
with wings that rise,
over water he surges,
his beauty comes
along with breadth
first fall his color done.

Oh Mr. Rock you’re the
pigeon of my eye,
the white that flashes
when you flitter
can make the spirit weep,
whether you sun on
turret or wire, you are
prodigious in your breadth.

Phragmites to the left of him
phragmites to the right,
what’s a rail to do
when his home rings untrue?
Whether acclimatization
or carelessness,
the essence of the world
is altered evermore.



A poem is like a bird
as it takes off into flight,
when you think you have it down,
it reveals Aladdin’s touch.

A merlin’s turning head
transforms to peregrine,
and sometimes all you see
is a buteo sitting there.

A sparrow singing songs
is likely just to be
sitting on a tree limb
without familiar streaks.

Let us warble on
whether crown or
humble birth. We are
worthy creatures all
this ode belongs to us.


To boast or to keen

I do not know the language
of threading terror –
words that leap like
fleas upon the trusty dog.
This usage is beyond all
playground shouting,
Backroom brawling is now
in the spectator’s vision.
No scope is needed to
identify the telltale white –
underside, wing-bar, rump,
all plainly seen.

The grass in winter is
parched and bleached and
covered with snow.
The descent down this
hill of misconception is
like driving the subzero
on a salt-free road,
headlights at your rear,
the spinning and gliding,
out of control.
This is how they neutralize
you, words of venom
pretending to endear.

The greatest generation
has yet to come,
it will not be addicted
to parading or guns.
To know that formal feeling-
the settling of dirt,
the breathing of the soil
the scattering of earth,
to recognize the harrier
swooping near the field,
each dot of life is crucial,
each ember lighting joy
when all is seen as vital,
the lagniappe is our own.


The book of forgetting

It nests within carpet fibers,
that enter the room thought,
lint blows after you
when you leave, nudging at your
back –
backtrack yet again
and you wonder how soon
will you be your mother,
sitting in her chair
without the days of

This herb is for remembrance
yet it slips beyond my tongue.
Memories like chads
hang by threads.
Each of the plants that
inhabit my garden, my life,
the results of what I do –
they end in soup or a salad.
Rosemary, how can I
let you go?
Easily, it seems.

I suffer you gone
and yet you still live,
a premonition of
what will come,
not unexpected since
I am your daughter.
But it will surprise me
I am certain, like the
depth people go to
accept the unacceptable
in a world that thrives on it.
Be grateful for forgetfulness,
the litter washes away
and all that is left is a burp,
a fart, and a mother’s beautiful


When the students marched

When the students marched
to merely stay alive,
sad death awoke the slumber
of troll lying in the murk
and like the proverbial long-lived cat
he came back with thunderbolt.
His eyes gape wide and round
and land upon a child – she
wise beyond his braggadocio.
The lurker tries to silence Emma
and David’s heartfelt words.
Voices rising to the song,
no, the children won’t back down.
The troll, he is not happy,
and lower must he go –
how low, you ask, how low?
How much further can he bend?
Knock, knock, knocking on Hades door
my, the devil is mighty pleased.


From Russia with love

“I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so,” Trump said in one of his first comments about the Russian leader since launching his presidential bid last June. 7/31/2015

The poet’s corner rests
in the line where mothers wait,
any word will do –
does he live or
is he gone?
Whisper from the gulag –
no one knows,
only the living son is
knocked on his butt
for being human.
When poets zip their lips
and praise their leaders then
sons are released
into bitterness.

The noisy poets clamor
at Red Square once again
invasions apparently
stroke the pen of
liberty and yes, the pen
does rattle the mighty sword.
The sword is swift and neat
into psychiatric ward
it runs the poet through.
But her words her word her words
float likes birds upon the air
and they sing to me and you.

In May of ’75
Cetin Mert drowned in the Spree,
a 5-year-old child
celebrating his birthday.
I heard it on the news,
how they could not rescue him
with the guns of East Berlin
pointing westward.
In this same year I walked
from east to west
and never would I have thought
one day that there would be
a public so bereft of history
to forget. For

from history we learn nothing
and nothing shall we gain,
the onlooker is confused
at the havoc that ensues
when a two-bit KGB dictator
and his puppet son
fashion anew all that
we once called treason
not so long ago.
Congratulations Russia
you finally have won,
you broke a leaky kettle
and the water has run off.
Push us into rabbit holes
dear leaders one and all.


Historical note: Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) was a major Russian poet of the 20th century. Her son spent many years in a Siberian prison camp. Natalya Gorbanevskaya (1936-2013) was one of the writers who protested the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 at Red Square. She was incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital for this action. Eventually she emigrated to France. I first heard about the drowning of Cetin Mert on the radio when I was living in Freiburg in 1975. For more information visit Berlin Wall Memorial

Red red cardinal

When the shark of Wall Street
scratches for sparrow blood
you know that you are living 
in a freaky Stepford world,
with requisite manikin wives
and all those lily-white pearls.
The treatment of mother earth
like a childhood piggy bank
leaves nothing but hermit crab shells
in humanity’s wake.
The word magic that he uses
exalts himself alone,
all the while he steals
the worth of other souls and
leaves his sisters in the dust
of the shattered soil.

The cardinal must be wary
of the feral cat – enemy of
all things feather,
the flying must hold back.
When the cat grows bored
and lazes in the sun,
the male cardinal comes.
It is his chance to search
for centipedes –
nutrients for his young.
And then he bends to feed
his progeny with care.
Where to find hope
In the house of Stepford bleak,
oh, red red cardinal
your tenderness is sweet.

The talons of the eagle
stretch out in search of prey
and then he brings a meal up
to distant aerie. He
swoops in to where she sits
with a hungry chick to feed
and partners they take
turns – they share the work.
It seems the raising of the eaglet
is a father’s prerogative.

My father made a game
of everything he could,
the kidding started with diaper pins,
and the attic Hooey Ha*.
He thought my mother
walked on water,
and believe you me,
if we distressed her,
we learned we learned
to only bless her with
best behavior since she was
the queen, the saint,
his earthly love.
My father now is gone,
but his humanity lives on.

The tale of the red red cardinal
and the eagle soaring high
is a tale for all of us –
not every spore of earth
needs to be loused up.
Feed your young,
help your spouse,
I pray that you will be
like the red red cardinal,
and then perhaps the auspices
will let the species live on,
live on and on and on.


*The Hooey Ha was a not scary “monster” who lived in the attic of the Birkam house on Grandville in Detroit in the 1960s.