The Visitation, Part 1

drum, drum, drum
the thought
binding me to bed in ropes
binding me in tighter knots
like when and why the “visitation” ?
whence my turn to be insensible?
or sensing what? and should I
add the Pharaoh’s touch, a few
childhood toys or those adult–
a prescription of Sildenafil,
say 100 milligrams,
pressed into my
mummified, folded hands?

so on and on and on it goes
such that I get used to it
while death collects the vital first.
why, I’ve outlived Elvis
20 years and with only
fans who think me daft though
 sadly dozens more who’d say,
if pushed to honest eulogy:
“Good! Burn that bitch like Joseph Goebbels!”
and being severely cold natured
a route myself considered not
necessarily to accommodate these adversaries
so much as to
relish the warm room.

Boys in a Pasture (for Winslow Homer)

ten moved on to wives
passels of grand kids

two died in Iraq
two went fairly mad

one became a CEO
two are millionaires

one in jail for murder
one who wed a man

five, divorced, in campers
behind their mothers’ homes

three tanked by every sunset
and sometimes all day long

yet once upon a pasture
a last equality, relinquished

to the July sun and grass
beneath our feet, sunburnt

hunter-gatherers of frogs
and snakes and perch

but only one a prophet
the one who never left 

The Great Replacement

“a more diverse, a more inclusive society.  this is fabulous news.  now we need to prevent minority white rule.”
…………………………….Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, tweeting to
……………………………… that the number of white people fell for the first time
.……………………………….in history

Winter beat and bleached
a severed deer skull (with antlers)
perplexes the banks
of a Spring pond.

The last old man
I strive to see its living form again
but see only new weeds between
voids of eye and nose. Green flies
troll where once a scent drove ruts.

The skull lies on its side caved in,
wreathed with rue and nettle,
with ichor, thorn and petal
by the years. I strive to see
its erstwhile form again

But see only a half a century back:
Rednecks with whom I skinny dipped
this pond, this day, our daring
and only simple hazards like:
“Watch out for that Moccasin!”

Or simple maybe not:
All dead.
The more we flout decay the more
new serpents preach
or poise to strike.

May 5

An earthen way, in some mud between the
Recovered lives and branches
Prophets everywhere
Point of view
Against the spillway’s
Filleted and fried
For supper


The sun at 80, April,
And I’m getting groove again
With outside repairs:
A gable end where old squirrels
Gnawed a way for birds to sing
Inside my bedroom wall.
Invariably the fledglings trill
Their mom’s return
To feed and preen and multiply
My space with such chatter
That preempts any blog
On Poetry, Politics, Love–
Preempts my blessed Word, by god!
These mocking chirps of fertility
They’d seem to lord them over me
Versus my arid room.  Well, fine,
Maybe in a tree somewhere
But a lesson way too close today, a lesson
Way too late…and so, Birds,
You’ve forced the hand
With which I snip wire
By wire by wire the screen
(I’ve already measured)
And from atop my ladder check
The long mesh triangle for perfect fit.
It is, I nail.  And nail to rule.
And do.  By dawn a starving
Quiet chastens all.  I search
To hear them, somewhere,
Somewhere, in the woods. 


                    Girly—you go by ‘Girly’?
That seems to be the name that stuck.
                    Girly, in keeping with our progressive mission
……….      .. At this school—
But are you really?
                   Why, of course. See that wall.
                    Terminal degrees from Yale and Wellesley—
Oh, most of mine would seem emotion–
                   And that’s the problem we’re here to help.
But which, ma’am? There are thousands,
Some are shrill and some are quiet
In all arrays of feeling’s will.
                   Just pick one.
                  We’ll go from there.
                  As I say, we’re here to help.

Well, like just now,
You said my name
And I remember boys at sport
Choosing teams
To play baseball
And always being
Chosen last though hard
I worked to snap my wrist
Not to throw it like a sis.
The boy
Who laughed my case the most
Dubbed me “Girly” when I played
And got the others chiming in though
Yet they envied when I peed
That ‘Donkey’ hanging to my knee:

“Girly, could you only throw the ball
Like you’re fuckin’ hung, asshole.
Huh!  Huh!  Huh! “ they barged me
Roughly to the hall.  “Huh!!!

“Because,” I said, “you’ve said too much
And driven me to patient friend.”
“Like who?  What’s his name?”
“Solitude! And how she likes
The poems I write–“
“–in the middle of the woods.”

“Psycho!” they scoffed, went their way
With indignant, clinic face
Of ‘Girly’ as a hopeless case,
Yet as my rep got out and up
Now this summons, me to you.

                   Yes, it’s called a ‘referral’
                    She averred. “One moment
                    While I consult your file.”


                   Girly, to sum up,
                    All of us can dwell too long,
                    Live excessive in our thoughts—
                   We call it ‘schizotype’ for short–
                   But now we have some tests for this
                   Which might could help you with your–skills.

In baseball?

                   Baseball, communication…
                   Here, it’s called a Rorschach test.
                   Just some inkblots on some cards.
                  Would you like to look at some?


                   So what do you see in this one?
Well, in that blotch—I see—total isolation.
In the middle of a forest.
                  Very good.  Is the forest threatening?
Not at all.  In fact I’m feeling quite relaxed
Under that big Oak.”


A sparkle dazzles
Through the leaves
The ferns aground

                  I see.  And are you the only person there?
Yes, just me and Solitude alone.

                Tell me about Solitude.
Must I?  She’s my refuge
Of highest zest, a place where I
Can be myself.  Besides,
We made a pact.

……………….You have my assurances of
……………….Complete confidentiality.

Well, I can say, we talk a lot, Solitude and I—
                 , And?
And when I write a poem she likes
She kisses me—I’ll leave it there.
                 .What poem?
Well, in this blotch I hear something like

When the mind is gone the earth takes up;
So many times it comforts and consoles,
In fields of rye or just alone as it would
Without deeds, as the Indian saw, a virgin
Growth of many splendid hues—in old
Growth Pine along the coast or roaming west
To temperate trees—Maple, Oak, Elm, Birch
What enthralling death a frost can paint
Enthralling their decidual leaves with gold–
That we should grow as gracefully from Spring!

Yes, she really liked that one.

                   So what else do you see in this particular inkblot?

Well, I see one time, one time–
She said, she said…
                   Solitude said–?

She said ‘You’re really kinda big for me…
I’ll hold it in my hand instead.

                   And Solitude held your hand in her hand?
Actually, it took her both hands.

                   So, to clarify, in this inkblot
                   You see Solitude
                   Holding your hand
                   In her hands
                   In this inkblot.
                   Is that correct?
If you say so.
                  No, YOU say so!
                  I’ve given you my assurances.
                 No one on this team is here to judge
                 Your relationship
                 With Solitude
                 In any way.
                 History discarded
                 The Puritans
                 Centuries ago.

Well, to be honest, when she used both hands
Up and down as she was, I actually said
I told her, ‘Just as well—I’m
Scared of pussy anyway.’

                   Beg your pardon!
Since last week.
                  Ahem, ahem.  Excuse me.
                  And what happened last week?
I watched this documentary.
                  By any chance on–STDs?
Actually, Hillary Clinton.

Forthwith she struck a matron mien
                  Test over!  That will be enough for now!
And with commanding matron glare
Commenced to throw the book at me:
Referrals here, referrals there,
Referrals to the River Styx

Schizo this and schizo that
And should I hint the slightest grin
‘Sociopath’ to crown my chart.

But not before—thank God—I found you here
(Once upon a thousand times exiled)
What I owe to your spirit, Solitude,
That oak we grew of countless acorn tips
Before the Empiricals came to pin us down
Again, a gnarled and lichen shambles,
Yet love enough for prophecy to sprout!

Existential Craps

This day the perfect poem
This hour the perfect poem
This minute the perfect poem
This second the perfect poem
But a second later not, now
Another poem, or none at all.
How often
Have I missed perfect love that way
What perfect wife and kids
Yet also by a roll of time
A car wreck just escaped. 

A Boomer Responds to Some Angry Young ‘Woke’ Folk

Poetry did nothing to
Keep my gentle face
From mouldering to
The sharper view
Of Pound’s at St. Elizabeths—
To see the young remark
My role:  “Geezer, nothing else.
Out of our way!  You paltry crank
With one foot in the grave!
What can you do to make the world
A place we can progress—and
Growing old ourselves be first
To finally get it right?
Speak! before your grave
To us, your day is growing short!
Speak! before your grave at dusk
Your fusty crumb of truth!
Speak! as history buries you–
This your final chance!”

Well, my young, this may surprise:
You’ve quoted me exact
What to the old I said myself
Declaiming count by count.
But eternals what they are
A half a century later
I stand before my grave
As they
In humble resignation.

Wheel of Life

(I came across this fragment of three stanzas I had written 45 years ago as a college sophomore.  It seemed incomplete so I tried channeling the 19-year-old brain through my geriatric one and got an extra two stanzas to round out the poem.)

Wheel of life in motion
Barreling, in my trance

I shouted “Stop!”

Wheel of life
Guilty:  Hit and run.

Cursed evanescence!
Death alone its wake

And would a coed toss her bra,
Eternity so young.