April 4, 2016

Wasted Shame, a sonnet of time

Shakespeare's Hand

Wasted Shame
for Margot

How infectious is hurt when its ache strikes us down,
yet how mending it is when we let go the raw pain
to spend time in wonder of the air now freely owned.
If our silence is not golden, what is thunder to rain?

Our minds love to remember our times in the sun,
when loud music and skin was all that we’d win.
If time brings us wisdom but never much fun,
our questions are answered in life’s stiffest winds.

Yet memory has its time to bring such a curse
that we linger too long in its caves that may stink.
Is it better to live in today’s pain or past’s worse—
shades of blood now older and darker than pink?

Let’s breathe in the bad air but breathe out the good,
for our spirit inside always knows that we should.

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March 29, 2016

Old Man Mirror, a reflective poem

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Old Man Mirror

I live with an old man who
no longer remembers the boy in him
who prayed to negro baseball gods
and chased Indian horse dreams, only
to drown in the sea on a stolen bicycle.

The old man doesn’t remember
the chocolate in Jules Verne books,
the butter in fried-trout fin sizzles,
or how sour redwood sorrel tickles
a tongue during creek-side snacks.
He carries a knife of memory, but
it won’t cut into the boy’s history.

The boy knows the old man
doesn’t have to remember
the sizzle or the tickle,
the baseball or bicycle—
it’s reborn in every word
the old man writes.

March 21, 2016

Anne Sees Red, a poem as a photo

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Anne Sees Red

Every color gives her its story:
her reds leap into elk antler skies,
scraped from the blood of cave mud,
to burst over bald mountain fires.
Her greens drip from redwood fogs to
frame the human hands of fields and
sharpen any line of sight that falls.
Her blues don’t spill from night skies
or rise from mid-Pacific sea trenches,
they evolve from her love of people.
Her grays emerge from sand and fog
that settles the salt air over Bodega Bay.
Her blacks ghost from midnight dreams
and the fear in men’s eyes to shade all
colors close enough to the ground to
apply any darkness they deserve.

Each color whispers among its sisters:
they shelter like a red tents in a desert,
gather all wandering sheep, lost or not.
Wolves taste no meat of truest colors.

Each shape knows where to lie down
and each shape hugs its dearest friend.
Every picture becomes a family of light.

February 18, 2016

Unwritten Sylvia, a poem for Mexico

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Unwritten Sylvia

No Virgins at Tlatelolco,
says graffitibut bloody
bullet holes
laugh at me.
Death and love in Mexico
live beside Olympic pomp
as I wander lost, a survivor.
It’s easy to hate the dead,
for they
‘ve left me alone,
but they don’t soothe me
with lies to let me sleep,
don’t dance in fountains,
or party my blues away,
I know they kiss
no more forever.

But I can’t hate them
as they rise from graves
to inhabit
my dreams.
hey chant with amuletos
to enchant dark dancers.
dance remembrance.
They poke my eyes
with longing.

I found mile-high ecstasy
and los
t it in one second—
‘s to live for now?
One seed left of a child?
The only seed left from
the lover who died.

     (Art by Anne Abrams)

February 15, 2016

Valentine For Owls, a poem to forget

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Valentine For Owls

The fault you made I won’t soon forget—
its hurt haunts my head like owls in a cave.
I won’t soon forgive, it hangs me up yet,
why you gave false love to a real Dave.

I tap at my phone for calls that won’t speak,
I write songs of blue for a voice who is lost,
no skin remembers its touch on your cheek:
no passion of mine could pay such a cost.

Your most charming quirks became fatal flaws:
when you gave up on yourself, it ended for us.
The fingers that loved me, you turned into claws.
Your toes didn’t stumble as you ran for the bus.

Love tells me your hands are soft and they’re kind,
but they will heal no faults in the palms of my mind.

     (Art by Anne Abrams)

February 8, 2016

Tortured Vines, a California Poem


Tortured Vines

My Boston lungs, mothered by soot,
sleet, and monoxides, get smothered
by mustard-flower gases in Sonoma.
Its pollen chokes oxygen from verbs,
steals nitrogen from nouns, and cuts
carbon from the arcs in my stories, so
I’m afraid of my pen’s confidence and
I’m forced to contemplate retirement
onto a pillow pile made for two
—the best place to lie.

I nap, therefore I’m not quite here.
I send postcards to myself: Wish
you were here and I was there—
wish I’d fallen in love with the
there and then instead of the
interminable here and now.
I can’t get here from there—
Note: no psychotropic drugs
were used in this writing.

The secret to life lies in itself—
s to everything do not.
I’m my own tortured vine: tied
to a stake, soaked in gasoline,
ready for anything but fire.

  (Art by Anne Abrams)

January 11, 2016

Naming Stars, a poem for kindness


Naming Stars

We fear mysteries
so we name them
to tame our fright.
Do stars from Orion
move like terrorists
at night? Orion
waves his sword—
or is it a bomb?

We steal more
than money from
people who stand
at our gates,
papers in hand.
To survive, they
reach out to us, they
do not point guns.

A comet with
no name killed
the dinosaurs
humans evolved.
The planet
we call Venus
has no love.

need no name

   (Art by Anne Abrams)

January 4, 2016

Remembering Light, a questioning poem


Remembering Light

If firefly light magic
is deaf to Ray Charles,
Ray Charles magic
blind to Helen Keller?
If Helen Keller magic
is mute for Charles Dickens,
is Shakespeare magic
poetic to
Vincent van Gogh?
If Albert Einstein magic
is beyond Stephen Hawking,
is Thich Nhat Hanh magic
insightful to Steve Jobs?
Beethoven magic
is beyond Star Wars,

is the magic of life lost
on our billions of humans?
If the magic of life is lost
on our billions of humans,
will anyone miss our light,
when the sun explodes?
When the sun explodes, will
anyone miss
our light?

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December 26, 2015

Devotional Howl, a soft poem


Devotional Howl

It’s not important how I feel
in moments of caring touch:
hand in hand, tongue to tongue.
It’s not important
how I feel when
the warmth of your voice dies.
I write poems to remember you
deeper than touches or cries.
Feelings lie as often as true—
I snub them if they
mean to.

The pains of life advise me:
wash hands in boiling water,
for germs of ideas age into fowl
after sins spread skin to skin.
While parchment scrolls preach
warnings to the living,
I shovel dirt into my grave to pad
the landing
and keep me from
a final wordless song.
devotion rejects god by
dismissing past mythology,
so any lesson I chant syncs
with bass and howls.
     (Art by Anne Abrams)

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December 18, 2015

Silk and Gold, a black and white poem


Silk and Gold

A scab makes it’s own scab
when injury hopes only for injury
and silk chooses to hide them both.
Wounds cry out for reasons
when none seem to exist.
We all know pain, but while
compassion is a one-handed
option for the wounded,
it’s a no-handed option
for people who love
silk more than skin.

If gold is cold towards skin
it denies its own pain, so
it earns nothing and
it learns nothing.

Only painted skin imagines purity
when imperfections beg for mercy.
Hope and imagination are medicine
for pains in the back and of the head,
but they invite scorn from eyes that fear
to see imagination fall free from heaven.
It falls free from heaven. Falls free.

(Art by Anne Abrams)



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