The rules of life

‘When a rich man chases after dames he’s a man about town, he’s a man about town.
When a poor man chases after dames he’s a bounder he’s a rounder he’s a rotter and a lot of dirty names.’ – ‘When the idle poor become the idle rich’ [song from Finnegan’s Rainbow]

They depend upon your birth,
these arbitrary signs
tweeting elements that are
designed to give advantage
to the pointed cap –
resign yourself to it.

Money fat does this to the bees,
bring on the DDT-like lie
of how and where nourishment
enters each atom of our being –
every organ, whether rat or flea.

A punishment driven society
uses money as might –
it wields like the hammer hitting,
driving nails through flesh on a cross
message sent and received –
oh me oh me oh me.

Taunt the people as they die
with what you have that will
never be theirs-
not morsel of fruit, nor
option to extended life
brought by science-
yet deny it.

The trillion-aire at last!
Our future king of the hill,
perches over wasteland
brought on by

the way we live.
This is how the people perish
into never ending
silence – alas
we release generations future
from greed.


I know a lady

I know a lady
who speaks with her eyes
and moves with her arms,
a mother bearing her child.

She’s the devil some say
who will haunt your dreams
and steal away with your youth,
leaving naught but a skeleton

She’s a muse in winter,
the red of her cheeks
soaked against pale skin,
like the blood spilled from a doe’s heart
so a human can feast.

She is only a child
who follows her whims,
like a vulture circling a carcass
up in the sky, the screeches
bid her eat.

I know a lady
who resembles stone,
cool and closed and hard
some say,
but like stone she’s been hacked
and molded and shaped
by a sculptor’s heartless hand.



i dreamt last night
in a cloud
of mildew bed sheets
wrapped warm
as baked apples
with cinnamon seeping
and sticking like glue
to my skin

i dreamt last night
in a seine
of inspirations
stretching towards
heavenly ascent
i dreamt words

not answers

just sheets of papers
streaming from my ears

i woke
this morning
to nightmares



How does one live in
a world of loathsome words?

“Punch him in the face.”
We can’t disagree with grace?

“She has blood coming out of her whatever.”
Grandmothers eyes roll what? Never!

“I moved on her like a bitch.”
Behavior of the rich?

“Grab them by the pussy.”
So kitty cats aren’t fussy?

“Islam is a cancer.”
Medical disaster?

“Gay rights have made us dumber,
time to get back in the closet.”
Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing –
Intelligence – do you doubt it?

“HBCUs as pioneers for school choice.”
And is cotton picking a stroke of luck?

“The slave as immigrant“
well glory be!
Oh, that middle passage –
surrounded by salt and sea!

“Civilization can’t be restored
with someone else’s babies.”
Seems some folks are itching
for Jim Crow to return from Hades.

There is no poetry here.
The poet has been bleached dry
eczema flakes drift into the wind-
breeze into gutters and drains.

Spiders don’t fly –
I find they traipse,
they crawl.
They act sanctimonious,
they bite they bleed they kill.
The relentless ego sees
only himself.
Oh wastrel, oh wastrel,
what hell on earth you weave!

So I ask again
how to live with loathsome words –

Have a dream.
Be a Berliner.
Dedicate yourself to equality.
And after great pain
perhaps that formal feeling will come.

Money may swear
and cruelty is a human lot.
But words that matter live
and all the rest is naught.

3/2017 [with a nod to Whitman, Shakespeare, King, Kennedy, Lincoln, Dickinson, Dylan and Blake]

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.




My life these days is lived
in the fog of a visit to mom.
We sit at lunch, lost in 90 years of forgetting.
I caress her with sweet nothings to bring a smile
that I can lose myself in.
I want to lose myself in this forgetting.
To remember is to think of death
which seeks us in so many ways.

These weather blues beset me, on this day,
the twenty-second of February
anno twenty seventeen.
Sandhill cranes and grackles were seen.
Redwing blackbirds squawked at me.
And the tundra swans swept in for the night.
Tarmac does not shine, gravel flies,
and nothing human-made breathes.
The birds are speaking to us I believe.
And the frogs croak with snakes that are waking up.
Go back, and sleep, I want to scream,
but think instead – perhaps the cold snap will not come.
And buds will bloom instead.
But will the water then be dry? The lake levels lower yet?
Nothing weathers well these days. All confused
and still-

The oil that lubricates the capitol’s dome
has a voice that isn’t dim. Its’ shiny lucre rubs the pulse-
which moneygrubber will be the king of the hill?
That biological imperative equals biological death-
Of crane, of blackbird, of frog,
perhaps peace on earth will finally exist at last.
All it takes is the death of life.

These oil blues equal water blues,
whiteout that broken treaty yet again.
Water protectors – the incomparable
losing yet again.
Listen to them, listen without ears and
with the justice of your heart.
No-we hear them not.

So we roll on down to Rome
in an American auto machine.
Braking not in time of course,
a collision written in stone of what has passed-
but not been remembered,
repeating our ancestors’ sins.
I sit with my mother in forgetfulness-
her mind lives in a fog.
I know that fugue surrounds me,
letting what’s right shadow what’s wrong.


Etude for a hero

The radio blares in the car I drive,
blowing by green leaves and dead birds.
I drive on in a surge of speed
as you shine above me, Polaris,
you lead and I follow.

I notice you shyly,
as you appear-a diamond in the sky.
I am afraid to follow at first
for fear you are a falling star
or just the lights of an airplane
on its way down.

But you keep rising higher,
shining brighter,
letting the world revolve around you
while the universe follows.

I applaud your courage,
I’m proud of your humility,
I cheer for every ball you catch
and every bat you break.
I build your ego
your house
your morale-
and you, like any blind fool, let me.

You, Polaris, will fall someday
and Vega will take your place.
I will shift the gears of my car,
make a right turn
and head towards Vega-
my new northward star.

I read in the news someday-
they buried Polaris
in a gleaming white cemetery.
Polaris, Polaris, I think…
Polaris who?



Bellicose United

This is how democracy dies.
Take a Saturday night massacre
and make it common
like daylily yellow in June –
other colors subdued.

This is how the outraged cry –
‘I will not be that one.’
The tank at Tiananmen Square
is an image that remains
though the spirit is crushed
human beings undone.

This is where kindness goes-
an underground class teaching
language to the wordless-
a girl empowered though her face
is unseen. Some live
some die
The usual mess it seems.

This is where the refugee lingers-
on a boat that is nationless
adrift on waters that see
no land.
They returned to Germany
And certain death.

This is how humanity dies:
remove the word humane,
add egotism and disdain,
mix in righteousness and lust
and you have the picture of us.