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.

Don’t talk when not spoken to

A rocket is lifted off the ground,
gazing faces astounded
at the booming sound
which roars and roars and roars.

Pounding, pounding from the start
the beat comes through as part
of that deadbeat cart
rolling on and on and on.

You should do this – you should do that
do not wander near a lone black cat
leave the mouse and rat
alone because they aren’t real.

Whatever you do best follow me
straight up the money tree
away from bad things and you’ll see
I am always and forever right.

Buying this and buying that,
the top ten off the album list,
hot commodities never miss
not comfort but conformity.

To do and be the latest thing,
head off on a super binge,
it’s time I start questioning
the idea that I belong here.




The words that my parents
never used
from the house of white
they come –
I hear them on the news.

A behavior so childish
they would never approve,
yet the highest in the land
they sink –
decency forsooth.

Alas I miss those days
when civility was rule,
that kingdom of my parent’s
house –
politeness such a jewel!


they tell me

they tell me
my mother has
a lovely smile
when words turn
to mush and
the past departs
when schoolyard bullies
tweet nuclear taunts
my broken soul
remembers just how
lovely it is –
my mother’s smile


Stealing metaphors

Beware the use of adjectives,
the holiest of gowns.
They turn your nouns chameleon,
when Barnum comes to town.

The noun is self-sufficient
when it tells you lie from truth.
The conjurer will mix them
with gold and silver, ruth-

less in redefining the
language to fit his needs.
Entitlement becomes the
unearned benefit and leads

us to the welfare queen-
we’ve cursed her long enough.
We know, we know our taxes go
to pay for the warrior’s stuff.

Take the language back I say
and let the tokens sour.
One truth is all it takes
and the metaphor is ours.


Chronicling the abyss

Dante anteceded Don Quixote
when he probed the depths of hell.
Each circle brought him deeper
through the deadly sins of yore.

Sweet wife of George, not Beatrice,
centers the life I lead,
and while she slept profligacy
managed to reemerge.

America’s sad tale
of take and take
from the labor of the
hoi polloi whose
every bead of
Prometheus’ brow betrays
the never-ending toil.

The slave of history echoes now
And the woman weep over
children’s graves, beseeching and begging
when the new deal is not saved.

You break the broken people,
And shatter them with
your trophy elephant tusk.
You wear a libertarian crown in
this land of the hypocrite
and home of the troll.
Your greatness is gilded
with poverty’s stain.

America, America,
you preen upon the hill
with undue pride and vanity.
The troubled heart –
when deafness roars,
sweet charity
we know no more.