Love and Tree (1985)

Cleaning up a room for love
Is not at all dissimilar
To cleaning it for death,
Each fastidious censor
To our dearest audience.

Perception is the clearest
For follies of the past
A simple word in shallows
Sounded at its depth
Perfection, criticism
Every desperate try.

I’ve tossed a thousand volumes
Preparing for them both
Re-shelved my mind
To just the line
Of a letter
That was left.

But love at last
Cleared out the most
And wrote a million more
Babe, when you stood me up again
I went and hugged a tree.

Baptist Church Homecoming

So nice to see a fellow child survive
The range of impish grins that I recall
Now ruck necked, fleshy, bellied
Bristly gray, their handsome sons and daughters
Grand-babes seize my eye.  The sermon
Has a quality of place, a place that System
Unrelenting mocks—from quaint, to cult,
To butt of jests elite:  “Subvert those
Rubes to 50 Shades of Gray!”
In the decades since
I preached there as a teen (many  say
The best youth sermon they recall)
The calling never lessened to repair
And release my inner Savonarola
To the task, to chivvy more than platitudes
For war, and wreak the lesson System
So deserved.   But for that, alas, the preacher
Disagreed, “Vengeance is the opposite of grace.”
Said he:  “Pray for Harvey Weinstein.”
Or so forth and so on and so
I sloughed my cowl for secular attire,
And made a Trojan voice to infiltrate
To give as good, or better, than I got
And inflict a verse effective with surprise:
“Beauty,” I proclaimed, “is all–
Now burn you motherfucker to the ground!”

Neil Armstrong, Poet

“You’re go for landing, Eagle.”
“Houston, roger that
Imagination realized
With German at my back
The laws of physics working great
A short 3 days from earth
Oberth, von Braun, Rilke
Thank you very much.”
“Repeat that, Eagle.  ‘Ricky’?”
“Houston, R-I-L-K-E.
Or how I know
I’ll live again
In the multiverse.”
“Reading you loud and clear, Eagle, uh
But be advised to permutate
One moon at a time.”



a naked slug
half ‘cross
the blacktop
changes its mind
too hot!
tentacles tremble
there must be
a better way
to destiny
to get-it-right
to time never had
but hoped for:
a new shade
a new shade
for an older
in the moss


(Special thanks to PoemShape for haiku prompt)

Death in Venice (North Carolina)

Boys can be cute but also like
A pit bull’s puppies’ grow and turn.
Will they guard me or attack?
Boys can be cute like a raccoon
I saw in a cage at a sawmill
The trappers used.  I wanted to
Pet it, but mom and dad said “no
Not only do they have razor sharp
Teeth that can tear a dog to shreds
RABIES is a ghastly way to die.”
They explained, adequately I guess.
At least I convulsed.  Still
Boys can be cute.  Could Socrates
Help himself?  Plato said
Ideally.   Socrates?
So easy with that hemlock
It makes me wonder sometimes.
Yes, boys can be cute.  Google
“Stalin as boy,” “Himmler as boy”
Or just your average murderer
Who killed his parents or shot up his school.
Usually rather cute.  Or am I just
Seeing angels where none exists
And never has?  Am I
Being cute—or queer?

3 Poets (1985)

I watched a lion in his cage
Pace Serengeties cubed
And saw the gene in every step
That knew about the plain.

I saw a prophet in his cell
Paladin of his Cause
Due to die tomorrow
For killing hell, he thought.

Saw a poet in us all
And shuddered that I felt
Common bond between us
A vision even now.