Monday, August 31, 2015

Love and Loyalty

It seems there's nothing I know how to say
To you so you can fully understand
How true my love and loyalty shall stay.

I try to speak, and yet you look so gray --
A cloud has darkened all your fertile land --
It seems there's nothing I know how to say.

And yet I cannot seem to bring the day
With syllables -- should I sign with my hand
How true my love and loyalty shall stay?

The rain is streaming down -- we can't delay --
Although the flood is making its demand,
It seems there's nothing I know how to say.

I feel I'm without keel and washed away --
I yell and hope you hear across the sand
How true my love and loyalty shall stay.

It seems what I can say will not betray
My feelings for you, even words I've planned --
It seems there's nothing I know how to say
How true my love and loyalty shall stay.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Shall we commemorate the Trail of Tears
With Andrew Jackson statues marking miles?
Perhaps we should commemorate the years
Of General William Howe -- will that bring smiles
To all Americans, remembering
His role in history? We surely must
Embrace who made our history and sing
Of all they did. Our love is only just.
The Stars and Bars were raised for slavery
And raised again against blacks' civil rights.
Commemorate the foes of liberty
And those who brought us to our darkest nights?
Some things we should not raise; some we should raze --
Some things do not deserve a nation's praise.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Constructal Trees

I love the branching form of dicot trees --
Order, chaos, criticality please
The eye with expectation and a tease
Of difference. The bald cypresses have knees
That clear the water. Mangroves border seas
And branch above and below their trunks. Breeze
Brings movements to branches as their leaves seize
The air. A few have flowers, attract bees
And bats and birds and butterflies. Decrees
Are sung from their branches. We feel disease
If we're too far away from their firm lees
And their shadow darkening a few degrees
From the heat. And what other guarantees
Our air, ensuring that we do not wheeze
Through life? (Unless their pollen makes us sneeze.)
Complex beauty belongs to all of these --
We thus must always be our trees' trustees.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Spiders on the Playground

With every day the children play
The spider webs are torn,
And every evening, they don't grieve --
A new orb web is born.

The corner space will make a place
The spotted, colored sphere 
Makes triangle with spiral, pulls
A network insects fear.

They'll make each moth into a broth
Drunk from a silken cup,
Then toss each husk throughout the dusk --
Morn, all the kids wake up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

As I Listen

I, loving, listen to your talk --
I'm quiet, cautious, worrying
While gazing across through meadow saffron,
Vase pushed aside so I can be
Lost in white eyes' brilliance,
Wishing now to languish long
In lacteal cherry springs --
Among the frangrant clouds
Whose misty rains will fall forever
In forests on the mountain side,
Our freedom, caritas, dreams, and things
Made real among the shrouds
Of crinaline whose shiver,
Brought about by breezes quiver,
Cannot hide your heart from mine,
The truth transmitted through your eyes,
Your tone, your voice, your very sighs.
So then I'll ask for you to be
The only one there is for me,
To fill you full of love and trust
By bringing back blue butterflies
To new beloved life --
By bringing back the hope we need
Within each others' eyes.

Monday, August 24, 2015


The social world norms
To which I fail to acclimate
And failing them unleashes storms
That I don't know how to abate

And so I have to set up rules
To travel through the simple things
As though I am the king of fools
And every move makes jinglings

And so I greet you at the door
And ask you if your day went right
I ask you write down every chore
And say "I love you" every night

Please do not think because I must
Make rules so I can do my share
That I am cold -- I hope you trust
It means I truly deeply care

Friday, August 21, 2015

Church Music

A bird whistles in the church,
A high-wooden whistle, a whistle
Full of life, sending joy to restless feet.
Strings sing under boughs
Of summer leaves in summer greens,
Providing perch and cover
For the little birds. Such lively colors
Flitting in the air,
In and out the open doors,
their colors mix with colors
Which dance along the church's floor,
Sun through branches, then through glass
Of kaleidoscopic colors.
The wind creates the dance
Decorating the floor,
Dancing to the whistle and the strings.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Indecisive's Proposal

With many freckles and blonde hair,
He must be careful lest he err in
Finding out what and which and wherein
They may be made a pair.

He did not wish for a mistake
Lest he should find himself forsaken
Or even found she soon was taken,
For then his heart would ache.

He did not want to be too brash --
He knew for sure his soul'd be ashen
And lose its love of life, compassion
Lost, gone within the crash.

He hoped he'd not mistook her cue --
He hoped her love would soon be true in
Giving a "yes" -- a one from two in
What was his truest coup.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An Ode to My Grandfather (Virgil Inman)

Although he couldn't tell a joke,
He took too long, and timing's everything,
I took more pleasure in his life
Than any other man's
For attention given to a curious mind
Whose interests shadowed his own.
A writer who encouraged writing,
A thinker who encouraged thought,
A naturalist who encouraged science,
Greatness encouraging greatness that he saw,
A hidden strength he could hide no more
When the first strike against his mind
Became the stroke that changed his life
From one who loved birds, raccoons, and moths
To one who found one with desire,
Strength no one thought he'd had.
With every stroke that struck him down
He fought back with an inner power,
Slowly forced to give up his loves
So he could fight for life,
A battle of will against fierce time,
Blood vessels determined to pop,
He fought for years,
No matter his fears,
No matter the bad news he got,
New stroke, new seizures, fainting spells,
Whose awful onslaught soon would end,
Despite the strength of the fight.
Death's relentless fortitude
Would finally bring on time's last stroke.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Visiting Grandpa

South Bend uncle, friends, and grandparents,
Vacation haven throughout my youth
Two-week sleepovers or Christmas week,
Thanksgiving four-day weekends,
A quickday cleaning of grandma's house,
Visitation with all our firends,
Nature with my grandfather.
Curtains hung in moth cocoons,
Hatching giant polyphemus and dark red-brown cecropias,
Laying eggs for us to raise.
Monarchs raised and chrysalis hatched,
Covering the house in moth and butterfly beauty.
Racoon raised, a rambunctious ruffian,
Playing, destroying, adorable fun,
Tiny screech owls kept in the basement,
Raise and care for the little one.
On every visit, search for birds,
Upland sandpipers my grandpa's find,
Nesting, wings protecting little ones
Beneath man's wings landing overhead.
A winter showing newfound hybrid duck
On Saint Jo river, swimming calm,
Part merganser, part goldeneye,
Lovely in its mixed-up features.
Christmas birdcounts taken out
To do our job for Audubon
I find I have a knack
For finding things no one's seen before,
Perhaps a birding young child's luck
Or inherent from a birding grandpa
Who found hybrid ducks and nesting sandpipers
That none had seen before.
We'd go for daily walks,
Walks wandering through the backstreet fields
Where I first and lastly saw
Hummingbird moths feeding at flowers,
Quickbeat wings' invisible hummings
Fascinating, remarkable joy to life
In bright sunlight flower fields
now vanished under houses' floors.
Into Michigan to introduce
"The Orchid Lady" to a youthful orchid lover,
Then off to show a norther boggy marsh
Filled with hungry pitcher plants scattered with their blooms
And there, close by the edge,
Wild orchids, hot pink glory,
Frilly sun-touched lips of tiny rose pagonias
Among the dark green moss.

Monday, August 17, 2015


We sit upon the couch -- the television
Is on. You stare at your cell phone, a vision
Indifferent, it seems, to me. You stare
And will not talk. And I? I will not dare.

My words are cotton in my mouth, they dry
My tongue. Why weight you down with each concern
And make you worry more? Should I deny
You sounds and syllables you'll only spurn?

We sit upon the couch -- the advertisements
Are on. I look at you. Are your resentements
Too much to overcome? Your every tone
Has turned sarcastic. Put down that damn phone!

I want to say I'm sorry for the fact
That I'm the man I am. I cannot help
That I'm obsessed and don't have normal tact.
I'm simmering. One day you'll hear my yelp!

We sit upon the couch -- the television
Is off. You stare down at your phone. Division
Is our relationship. You simply stare
And I conclude that you no longer care.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Nightmare

He mustn't fear for fear is loss
Of his dreams
His dreams to see her
To be with her
Not in the lonely crowds where they talk
Though they arrive separately
But in a place they chose together

Fear is a loss of happiness
He could potentially find
Though it causes him distress
She could misconstrue his mind
In wanting to see more of her
More than just a rendevous
Or friendship
But a relation redefined

Could he kill his fear
Of women
Of wanting women
Wanting her
Of longing for her love he could not seem to have
No matter what he could have of her
As he'd had her
And would again

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Gift

He stood before the gloomy council, stood
As none would stand or ever stood before,
So proud of his achievement, of his gift --
The gift to them, to man, to all he bore.

Then in a booming voice the man proclaimed,
"The man you see before you, I have tamed
The thing that to this point had only maimed
Or killed men on the fields the storms enflamed."

He showed it then to their unseeing eyes --
They could not know what visions lay in store.
They all leapt back in awful, abject fear
And each man trembled, cowards at their core.

It flickered there before them, shedding light --
The fire shown forth, ever, ever bright.
They were the first such men to see the light --
It made them cringe in awful, freezing fright.

"What have you done!" he heard the council scream.
"We will be tortured by it ever more!"
"If that man tamed the demon we call fire,
Then he's the Devil -- hear his awesome roar!"

He stood amazed and trusted not his ear.
He brought a gift -- it's nothing they should fear.
A gift for man to hold and cherish, dear.
He never had expected what he'd hear.

"How dare you think that you could bring to us
The demon fire, bring it through our door.
You dare to tell us that the demon's tamed,
That somehow you are man's new savior?"

They then moved forward as he backed away.
He could have, with his gift, kept them at bay --
Instead, he dropped the fire onto the clay
Floor of the cave the lived in on that day.

The council took him, bound his hands and feet
And left him lying there upon the floor.
They left to then decide upon his fate --
He feared whatever these men had in store.

That day he stood, tied proudly to the pyre.
His gift would lift his people from the mire.
And as they lit the stake, his chin grew higher
And died surrounded by his gift of fire.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Tale of Two Men

He shouted out for all who'd hear
How great the house was he had made
That crumbled slowly at his feet.

He shouted loud for all to hear
How great the railroad was he made
As metal splintered, people died.

He shouted shrill for all to hear
How great his plan would be to save them all
When all were dying as a herd.

In silence built the other man --
The house stood great and strong
And shouted with its strength for all who'd see.

In silence built the other man
A railroad which networked a nation
To create wealth for all who'd see.

In silence built the other man
A business that would profit from his mind
And house and clothe and feed all those who worked for him.

The shouter saw the silent man --
He saw the threat he was to him and set out to destroy
But died instead from his intended sin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


It must be better because it's old
they said forever of the old house,
Its usefulness has vanished from our sight --
Our eyes see rot and pale, chipped paint,
Cracked ceilings and dull floors.
It must be better because it's old
They said to keep the new house down.
Its beauty would be too much,
It makes our house look like a dump.
The dear old shack makes ours look fine.
The new house will destroy our homes,
And its design is such a fright.
It doesn't look much like a home,
It is a mansion to our eyes.
And so they fought to keep the new house down
So they could keep the old around.
And so their lives turned ever-poorer
As the depraved old house was praised --
And everyone ensured the new
Was murdered well before it could be born.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Is silence such a sin? Must melodies
And beats breathe fire in our ears each day
And moment? Must the television stay
On? Must the talking fill up every breeze?
Must noises flood us from the street and freeze
Our hearts to solitude? Must we delay
To death the day the silent solar ray
Enlightens us and lifts us from our knees?

The breeze batters light leaf on leaf, the stream
Crystals the air, a warble and a peep
Of tree frogs answering the sparrow's call --
These are the silences I seek. I dream
Of dew drops drumming as the lilies leap --
I want to hear the silence of it all.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Harming Others

Gulls gather, hanging in the air
as if from invisible strings, hanging
above the waves rolling in, tiny
whitecaps on tiny waves. The sand
swirls up under each incoming wave,
disturbing it, renewing it, building it
from sand it took from other shores.
A crab scampers in scattered sunlight
across the sand, then down, gone
in a puff of sand.
I must be careful where I step
For fear of crushing him, though I know
there are unseen others lurking
under the wave-loose sand
that I cannot worry about, lest
I fear to step anywhere and remain
standing, stationary in the waves,
unwilling to move,
unwilling to return
to the shore, the sun-hot sand
that burns my sole
with each quick step
as I dash toward my car.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kamper Park

Tadpoles scatter from the shallow
pool stagnant off the side
of the creeping stream.
It's almost dusk, the sky
pale blue-gray. I wonder
how they know that I was there.
No shadow fell. Maybe
vibrations from the shore
as my foot fell inches
from the water's edge.
Frogs splash ripples
as minnows dart in such a hurry
they create a flurry of waves
and water splashing inches
from where the rocks give way
to flat, smooth concrete.
A bottle sits in the center
of the stream, neck
only visible above the water.
The rock where I sit was placed here,
covered in concrete
to make it permanent.
Children and peacock cry
from nearby, the park
and zoo ready to close
and closed.
It's getting too dark to see.

Under the Stars

I often sit for hours under the stars,
Wondering what other see in them that is not there.
What lives, what men have walked
Under these stars, across these fields,
Once plains, now tilled and broken up?
There is a certain melancholy in those who
Look to the government for everything,
Giving up their autonomy and self-worth
For a false security --
Not a security found in man, in each individual spirit,
But the security of guns, easily turned on you
When the power changes hands.
When fathers, bringing sons into fields, once plains,
To show them the stars and make them men,
Are replaced by guns, why should we be surprised
When our sons use them to prove their manhood?
I want my son with me,
Under the stars,
Learning to see in them a source of light. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Knowledge and Idealism

I wonder what things, what colors, what shapes
Fill the things that matter in my eyes --
My eyes see eyes of blue and brown and green
And what what they've seen
That I have failed to see, no matter the difficulty
They've found in seeing. I try so hard
To become clear, to sprout, to bloom
In prismatic colors shining in moonlight spread
Loose on the morning horizon
As soft, bustle, silent warnings.
I must be careful as I stare
At the subtle sheen shining off the water's surface,
Barely broken by waves, small, serene,
From a wind that I cannot even feel
Blowing through my hair or on my face
Or even see up in the trees, rustling leaves.
I wonder what the others have seen and wonder
Whether they have seen all I have seen
And f they even see at all or even if
I am the one who cannot see,
Staring into such strong flames they melt
My ability to see at all,
Leaving me to wonder where that leaves me
With my eyes
And all I've seen and seem to know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Protest Poem (for Rainer Maria Rilke and Wallace Stevens)

This poem could be about Bill Clinton
and his signing the Defense of Marriage Act,
or how he could have harmed this country
had he ever passed his health care plan.

This poem could be about  George W. Bush
and the wars he started and the civil rights destroyed
or how he harmed this country
with regulations leading to collapse.

This poem could be about Barack Obama
and the recession he made worse
or how he has harmed his country
since he passed his health care plan.

This poem could be about the far Right
and the bombing of the building in Oklahoma City,
or the terror acts of Eric Rudoplph
or the racist terrorism perpetrated on black churches in the South.

This poem could be about the far Left
and the good men killed by Ted Kaczynsky,
or the attempts on researchers' lives by the Animal Liberation Front
or the 70s terrorists silently assimilated into our society.

This poem could be about guns --
How our children shoot up schools,
How our police shoot minorities in their neighborhoods,
How the Second Amendment is not for deer but for politicians.

This poem could be about legislation
Creating most unfairness and inequality,
And I could tell you to throw rocks at cops
Whose rubber bullets will run out very soon.

This poem could be about wars and famines,
Taxes and subsidies and other violations
Of our basic human rights, even those
We never considered violations

This poem could be about any one
Of these external things, such things
As pass away one day, but sometimes only
Once things get worse, but it is not.
Instead, this poem is about important things --
The changes that we've made,
The changes that we ought to make
Inside ourselves, the way that we evolve.

This poem is about the way that you and I
Must learn to change, must learn to grow,
Mature, become who we most truly are, with pride.
Then, when we are better, the world will be repaired.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Didactic Verse on Writing Poetry When No One Cares and There's Never Time to Contemplate Anyway

This is no place to meditate --
An empty classroom on my break.
Hall-echoed voices are my fate --
I need a languid, lapping lake.

What thoughts are these? Are these the best
That thunder round and round my crest?
A dropping mental metronome
Because I have no place to roam?

I have no pleasure or delight,
And no one cares about my plight --
They fear what poets can incite,
So insight is kept in the night.

I fucking lost all of my words --
I'm left with nothing but brown birds.
I did not even want that rhyme -
Perhaps it's "curd" some other time.

These stupid, stupid, stupid words
That people want as bad as turds
Or as a bowl of month-warm curds
Should fly away like lice-plucked birds.

I told you curds would find a place
Here in this verse, poem's disgrace.