Friday, February 27, 2015

The Rainbow People

He's drunk at nine that morning -- it's nothing new --
He's been drunk since 1970, twenty years
And homeless since, a life he chooses here
Among his friends, hippies
On a religious quest, shamamism
Intertwined into their drinking.
Brother -- the name they know him by --
Says they do it to show the world that this
Is how we're not to live.
He says this sitting in his kitchen,
Blue tarp held up by tree branches,
A fire pit in the center, boiling water.
Twice as many here are in their twenties
Escaping . . . what?
Cities, civilization. Children
Blond and dirt-streaked, run and play.
Women with long hair, goateed men --
Half have dusty dreadlocks. Spaghetti
Cooks over a fire. Guitars and Beatles songs,
Standing up to every stereotype
As they spend the winter just off New York Road
Among the pines of Mississippi.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Through Arizona

Mountains rising, drifting snow
Falling on the trees in Arizona.
We don't see tarantulas
Walk in giant herds across the barren
Ground. My uncle gave me one
For a friend. The friendly lizards, Gila
Monsters, beady skin in pink,
Mottled black, are sitting, poised for biting
With their poison teeth. They're gone.
Gone, too, in the sun-soaked snow, the flowers
Waited on the cacti. All
Arizona seemed so lost and empty.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


When I was a boy I walked in fields
And woods behind my house,
Enjoying the solitude of the trees.
I would lie and watch
The water bugs, larvae, tiny tadpoles
Swim in streams and pools.
Jewel weeds with orange- and yellow-spotted
Cornucopia flowers hanging down
From thin stems under leaves on plants
Spread in large patches, crowding out
The poison ivy. May apples, thick
Stems with umbrella leaves,
Some split to allow a simple white flower
That swells to a yellow fruit --
More like a lemon than an apple --
But who'd enjoy the sound
Of May lemon over May apple
Or even want to try a taste?
The rest of the woods was dead leaves
Or tiny trees trying
To catch up with their parents.

Then one year, the farmer
Who owned the woods behind my house
Cleared the tiny trees and brush,
Leaving only open space
Between the taller trees.
I was angry when I saw it.

Then, that summer, I took a walk.
The streams, the jewel weed, the May apples --
All were gone.
But in the open space,
With all the extra light,
Bright blue lobelias and hot pink bearded orchids
Spread throughout the woods.
One set of beauty could not help
But soon replace the other.

A rarer beauty had taken over.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mother's Records

My mother taught me how to live
By standing on a stepladder
In the hall closet
Hiding her vinyl records
As I handed them up to her.
"Don't tell your father," she said
As she covered her records with a blanket
"We'll bring them back out
When your father gets over this latest fad."
We knew
When our church stopped preaching hard
Against all rock-n-roll that he'd forget
And mom could then retrieve
Her records. Elvis would
Fill up the air again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Winter Centerpiece

The moon is a bowl full of baby’s breath,
The tiniest sprays of pale white.
It sits on a shelf of the winter-bare trees
While shedding the barest of light.

The clouds move in, misty and cold, a haze,
They lead in the King of the North –
They hearken the winter, the ice and the snow
And call for warm coats to come forth.

The chill in the air is a spur to sight –
My mind is now crystallized, sharp.
The flowers are blooming across the night sky,
The darkness brought forth its faint harp.

I melt these distinctions that we insist
Upon, and the sky and the cold
Engrave on the mind all the changes I see –
The flowers and bowls that unfold.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where's Momma Gonna Go Tonight?

The bar is closed and she's alone again
No one took her home tonight
I haven't seen her since I was ten
Where's momma gonna go tonight?

When momma left she never said a word
I never hear ma and papa fight.
It seems she took off just like a bird --
Where's momma gonna go tonight?

When I was a boy momma left me behind
When I was a boy my daddy he declined
To ever say why my momma took off on me --
I reckon my momma just thought to be free.

I'll slow down -- should I stop my truck?
Will momma know that it is me?
She looks real sad, down on her luck --
Just a decade's gone, but she looks three.


A Caddy pulls up, my momma leans down
Where's she gonna go tonight?
I wonder: does she live in this town?
Where's momma gonna go tonight?

She gets in and rides off, 'til she's outta my sight
Oh where's momma gonna go tonight?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intense World

I cannot live an anesthetic life --
I feel my senses much too much, My skin
At every touch crawls with tarantula
Feet. In my ears is a deafening din
With every noise reverberating time.
I savor food and drink -- each taste not light,
But bright as the sun high above the cave
The philosopher rises from. Each bright
Color refreshes vision to a clear
Delight in nature as in art. My nose
Can open subtle, dark, and delicate
Scents. And with you each of my senses grows
Into a synesthesia too intense --
I need you today and today, perhaps
Today again. I feel a much, such deeper,
Intense feeling -- each puff of wind, it slaps
Me, ripples on my skin. Imagination,
My mind (it's body too), both only add
To all I feel and all I feel and sense --
A life that's unprotected, driven mad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cranes' Wisdom

Green plains that stretch and tough embracing hills
Set softly on a sunset sky display
The marsh below where I  observe a pair
A courtship pair of dancing cranes
Their feathers high I look away my eye
That entertains a tear of envy yes
A tear of envy at a pair of birds
Who know far more than I who feel far more
Than I will ever feel about this earth
And marsh they drop their heads I drop my head
But I can't lift again like them I hurt
I'm broken oh what could or should I do
Then suddenly I realize these birds
Will understand more than I ever will

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sea Birds

Seabirds singing, sailing over waves,
Wandering where wings and winds take them,
White wings all too often.
Gulls and terns, white against the sky,
White against the waves.
Do they hide in the sky in their white wings
From fierce fish,
Sharks' sharp teeth snatching them from the sky?
Is this really a fear for the albatross
Soaring over open oceans,
Delicately dipping down for fish and squids
Swimming near the surface?
And what of brown skuas or black,
Bright-beaked puffins?
Puffins perched on northern rocks, peering out,
Watching eider ducks swim between waves
Disappear, wondering
Where they went, sometimes vanishing
Completely beneath the waves,
Searching for fish.
Eiders, too, are white
With but a bit more color
On their beaks and heads.
They must have less to hide
Than the gulls soaring overhead,
Though the eiders sit in silence
While the gulls gab incessantly.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sonnets of Autumn and Spring

1. Autumn

I spent the Summer writing sonnets, rhyme
Replacing her who never loved, then left.
My heartbeat is now rhythms keeping time
To cover the fact that it's lost by theft.

So now I'm free when freedom was the last
Of my desires. And so I take on form,
A prison that, a traitor, set the mast
With sail and set me free in rhythm's storm.

The sting of losing her turned to a need
For art, for beauty to fill up the void,
The rhyme and rhythms trying now to feed
The rhythms she and I had once enjoyed.

But where will all my lovely poems go
When love's replaced this seed, my Summer's woe?

2. Spring

It's Spring and I'm in love and she loves me --
I love and know I never loved before.
And look -- my rhymes and rhythms still are free
To let me key imagination's door.

The bounds of love, of her true love, expose
The workings that unleash the best that I
Can do or be. With everything I chose,
 I came to her, her love, and learned to fly.

But can she understand that I must love
My pain, my past, the things that brought me here
And shaped me so that I could fit her glove,
That to know her I must know ancient fear?

I've been to where the poem flowers bloom --
Now let me grow them in your loving womb.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Tapdancing bumblebees
Flitting, flying, flourishing
Far from the fantastic
Mediocre sky.
Diving deep into the sea
To ski the mountains'
Flowing pillow lava
Erupting down into the rocky caves.
Stone temples rising
Triumphantly crumbling
Out of sight,
Down the cliffs,
Whistling over rocks
that break into twos and threes and fours.
No longer seen,
Dropping headlong before the fall.
Black and white reality
Lying in strength before, beyond, beside,
Tangibly intangible.
Shining smirking crossing faces
That cannot be discerned,
Wheezing helplessly
As they travel to the moon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Waves -- we all are spacetime waves,
Complex waves of information --
We speak our culture into existence
And speak each child into humanity.
We are negentropic skies.
Waves of sound, waves of light,
Waves of chemicals fill the world
And inform it, forming it.
Bees see ultraviolet landing strips
On the flowers they feed on
To make the honey we feast on
At our festivals of life. We
See only white daisies.
They decorate our hair and fields
In waves of white and yellow light.
Waves of chemicals fill our nostrils --
The sweet smell brings us pleasure-waves,
Attracts us as we are repulsed
With the threat of stinging bees.
The sweet complexity of choice waves
Us on or away, and home.
The sun shines in the sky,
The stars sparkle clear night skies,
And particle-waves observe each other
And us into material existence --
As we inform our children into
Human levels of complexity, and keep
The universe growing and emerging.
We stand in the doorway and wave --
We wave "hello," "goodbye."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Trinity River

Your father is in a Red River bluff,
You slowly flow across the southern plain
To father cities -- forests not enough.

You are the son of this dry land, you reign
To give us Dallas and Fort Worth, the son
Of your slow flow, your urbanizing vein.

Your spirit reigns -- see all that we have done
To bring you back to life -- you are the stuff
Of Calatrava's dreams -- you'll make us one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time Unfolding

The universe unfolds in petals, flower
Of life encircling in golden means
And fractal leaves -- a universe of power
Laws which self-organize to all life's genes.

The future speaks in metaphors to those
With minds fine-tuned to listen to its voice.
And with that voice a handful truly grows
To move the world toward a better choice.

Across and through all time and space within,
Without, and linking everything in rhyme
And rhythm, poets bring the present din
The quiet joy that's found in complex time.

The past and future sing to bring to me
An insight to the present, makes it free.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Prophet in the Kitchen

The man who dreamed the dream of martyrdom
Lived in a time when nothing mattered much
And life bombarded you 'til you went numb.
He lived in myth, a hero out of touch.

His friends would laugh as he read myths of men
Who gave their lives, their everything for Christ --
He's certain of his end, that he'd have been
A martyr who refused to be enticed

By promises of wealth and power, sure
That he'd be true to Christ up to the end --
Pull out his nails and salt them -- he'd be pure
And die -- he'd never lose his savior, bend.

He knew the communists would never break
Him when he faced them in his fairy tales
He told himself. He swore he'd not forsake
His friends or justice for true evil's veils.

His friends laughed as he washed the dishes at
The restaurant -- the story that he told
Was all the universities had spat
On his ideas because they were too bold.

They laughed because they thought him arrogant --
But little did they know the myth was true,
No more than he, the truth far less distant
Than either knew, as myth is truth askew.

The people nodded but would not believe
His tortured tales of tragic martyrdom
As he would slowly roll up his white sleeve
To wash, and scrape hard food off with his thumb.

No one believed that they could ever live
In times that mean so much that lives could be
So meaningful that anyone could give
Their lives -- such times were gone, and thankfully.

But he knew better. He would be prepared.
He'd take a stand, do what no one had dared --
The villain would show up one day, he knew,
And then he'd stand for what was Good and True.

No one believed him, so nobody cared
About his life he lived so lyrically.
They lived in more prosaic times and dared
To challenge nothing big historically.

Or so his laughing friends, co-workers hoped --
Such certainty of boredom's how they coped.
They thought it best that he should be dismissed
Than dare accept the truth, that he'd been kissed

By prophesy's true, blinding, too-bright sight --
Yes, best dismiss him as insane, a fright,
And pull the shades on despotism's creep --
But which one's dreaming, and which one's asleep?

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Crocodile Lover

"Melina's such a girly-girl,"
Her grandfather says. She's his dear pearl
Who loves to dress in dresses, wear
"Glass slippers," Jewelry, dress with flair.

Her mom and dad, though, know that she
Is also much more secretly
A crocodile-lover too --
Though alligators also do.

She has a tiny plastic one
She uses to attack for fun
the bellies of her parents' friends --
With it so many met their ends.

She had an alligator book,
And when her parents one day took
Her down to the aquarium
She hopes that she would soon see some.

It was far better than she thought
That it could be, for when they sought
The crocodiles, they were told
That there were babies to behold.

She saw the babies in a tank,
She looked up to her parents. "Thank
You, mom and dad," she said and ran
Up to the tank, a happy fan.

"I love the little chomp-chomps, dad!"
And as they left she said she had
To have a crocodile of
Her own that she could hug and love.

Her parents told her uncle this
And the next day Melina's bliss
Was overwhelming when he brought
A pillow crocodile he'd bought.

She loved to sleep with her new friend
And slept well knowing he'd defend
Her from bad monsters and bad dreams --
For her he gave up swamps and streams.

And when they took her to the zoo
She said the crocodile's blue
Because he had not seen her yet,
But he'd be happy once they'd met.

She posed and made her parents take
Her picture sitting with the lake
And slowly floating crocodile.
She said, "You see, I made him smile!"

But when Melina's father tells
His dad how her heart always swells
When she sees alligators, he
Just cannot see how that could be.

"Melina's such a girly-girl,"
Her grandpa says. He sees her curl
And princess dress and happy smiles.
"There's no way she loves crocodiles."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

To the True Cultural Conservatives

Life interferes my thoughts. So what? Shall I
Now theorize in strange Cloudcuckoolands,
Dance in a wicker basket in the clouds,
Condemn this life because of its demands?

I have to eat, and so did every man --
There is no need to whine about my lot
Because the world won't bow before my feet
And Cornish hens don't fly to my mouth, hot.

This time of wealth allows us luxuries,
Like poor men writing books and making art
Like wealthy men once did in times of kings,
When girls could choose a nun, or wife, or tart.

Romantics look back on that time and sigh --
Naive, they think those better times for those
Who live the life of mind, though they would be
Then whores or thieves or planters of wheat rows.

Their backs would ache, their twenty children scream --
At least, the five who would survive to die
An early death of hunger, overwork,
White pus from blackened wounds, too weak to cry.

The worst you've seen of life was when you chose
A Master's in a field without a chance
Of work -- and then you blame the life-wise for
The fact that, running, you fell on your lance.

A coward whines that his mistakes are caused
By others who know nothing that he's done --
A person's brave when they live with each choice
They made -- if poor, this person still has won.

The only thing that I regret is that
I'm sensitive to idiots that flee
From life, responsibility, and so
Produce from me didactic poetry.

The spirit of the times thus speaks through me,
As filtered through my readings and my life --
I cannot help the lines that spill from both --
Though better would be love songs for my wife.

Yes, better men would spring from love by lines
They read of how my zoftig love, in bed,
Is beautiful by moonlight as she sleeps
Than reading about intellects of lead.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Where do my obligations lie?
My family must come first, and then my work --
I hope my actions don't deny
This order, or I show myself a jerk

Who selfishly pursues his art
At the expense of children and my wife --
A Wallace Stevens does his part;
Picasso thought of art as wife and life.

But can I spend life in a bank?
I cannot be Picasso any more
Than I can work in some dark, dank
And sterile office, shut behind a door.

I love my obligations, they're
My life and source of inspirations in
The things I do. My soul's laid bare
By all my loves, my wife, created kin.

How do I reconcile the things
I love, that makes me want to breathe and live?
A singer lives for what he sings --
A husband lives for everything he'll give

His wife -- a father, for his kids.
And what of me, a husband, father, man
Who must create, do what art bids,
Explain the world and always live God's plan?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thankless Jobs

It must sound arrogant for me to say
That labor or a service job is such
A waste of time for me. A solid day
Of sweaty labor, products dripping such

That people's lives are much improved by it;
A room to spend the night in, groceries bought
From service works work and serve to knit
Society together. All that's bought

Is necessary for the life that you
And I enjoy -- I love those who would do
Such work and bring my life such ease. Subdue
Such thoughts that I disparage those who do

Such everyday heroic works. But I,
When I don't write a poem or a play,
When I don't write my essays, what can die
Are possibilities from my mind's play.

It's not a job that all can do, just like
Not all can run a business or can build
A house or skyscraper or dare to strike
Out on their own to see what they can build.

But it's a job that no one pays because
It's not as valued as its value is
And no one seems to know just what it does
And so I waste my time. Such time that is

Not spent on creativity is lost
And no one seems to know just what it costs
When labor, service jobs lay down their frost
That kills my mental life, ignoring costs.

Monday, February 2, 2015


I have to work two part-time and one full
Time jobs to live. I haven't seen my wife,
I haven't seen my children now for days.
I sleep when they're awake and work when they're
Asleep. I do this all for them I do
Not see, much like a tithe to God I trust
Is there. And when I see my wife I see
What used to be a joke, excuse of each
And every daytime talk show cheater: "You
Are never home. You always work." She's true,
But sad and lost. My daughter won't let go
The hours that I see her. She is growing --
I missed it. Here I went to school so I
Could educate myself into a better
Life, more fulfilling job; instead I just
Have debt and colleagues who say what we do
Is valueless. They kill my life in their
Warm, tenured safety, arrogant to life.
It's death they love, and death they've given me,
For when their deaths all come the place they each
Once had will disappear with them. Why must
I struggle because beauty's hated, joy
Destroyed? What justice is there when I lose
My loves to keep them housed and clothed and fed?