First Guilt

My 4-year-old thing was boards
Scrapped from anywhere
(Those palings by the road
Not all of them rot)
And so I’d sort
And sort enough to build
Up and up and up
With rusty, salvaged nails
(As well)
A tree scraper—to my
Height of pride!
Until one day a girl
I’d played “Doctor” with,
Collapsed it, in my absence,
And blamed me for her fall.
The good news:
She later became a trial lawyer
Whose husband, at her suggestion
Offered me $20,000
To build a boardwalk
Up a dune
……………….To their mansion
The labor for which
(I told him)
I’d be donating
In her memory.

Rebel Obituary

Cliff Wordsworth, neo-Confederate, died August 16, 2050.
He was preceded in death by the Anglo-Saxon genome.
He is survived by one patient, loving Jewess friend,
an erratic work history and a few poems he wrote.
His last words were, “The U.S. must go but I blame God for nothing.”

Life of Covid

Spontaneously written in one sitting on June 30.  I had been reciting Yeats a lot to myself, mainly “Sailing to Byzantium” and “The Second Coming.”  The reader may note a slight poetic license with line 14. 

As bad as it is
For me, it’s only
Too much for you
& so I keep my mouth
Shut really, about all that
& stay mostly to myself
Not to spread it.  One or
Two friends is enough,
With antibodies. It only
Depresses me in others
Who may lack my resources
Of people they love,
A mutation against suicide,
The genius IQ, truly
I am blessed to reconstruct
The contexts of its horrors
Over & over
And somewhat keep control:
An expedient murder here & there…
A concentration camp at the right time…
That leaves me normal
In solitudes of pain
Marching forth.


Or is that “cliff-ku”?  I have several of these oddities scattered around my archive and will post them here as I find them. Sometimes they lead to longer poems.  You can check out the Vermont-based Poemshape for some of the finest examples of haiku in English.

By a thorny path, lifetime to a pasture

The sun
The sun in me, winter shadows soul

Mow that lawn, scalp those weeds to grass

A plague
Runs riot, a world runs riot, an old man


From ten-year-old hunter to ten-year-old Savonarola.  Another sporadic Poem of the Id—revenge in this case–paradoxically in response to perceived agencies of systemic civil and instinctual disorder.  Pot/kettle?

When I was ten so many people were begging for survival
I nipped it in the bud and let imagination work instead
I fed the Warren Court through a wood chipper, as if,
By dream, the red cartilaginous spray would save us.
But really not, and for 30 years I studied where its minds
Came from and ours, in Yale’s best Constitution classes and so forth
And so forth. For 30 years I did, with these brainy termites’ brains
Take up, the slather on and clutter up, in theory’s wiles but
Still in vain to find a wisdom to excel
The simple perspicacity of ten.


The fire lane sedge
Divides the woods
A bending branch unites:
He’s tramped all day
In hunting gear
For something live to take
When a squirrel jumps to,
And crosses there and
Pauses in his sight
And ponders what this
Other is, with shotgun
Proudly aimed—
A boy of 10 is what he is
His Christmas gift embraced
A trigger click from proving
True a killer among men.
But alone so long he shoos it on
As if himself in fate or
The incarnation of a life
Somewhere else a friend.

Dirty Old Man

I’m 65 years old and got the first
Piece of pussy in my life tonight.
Visual but effective, for both of us.
She said her best ever.  I said
The feeling is mutual. There was a “slight”
Generational divide, to be polite,
But God said:
“I understand.  All the lost time
And she was when your mind was right,”
Adding, uber Educator that He is,
“The visual praxis can only help you
See My face more clearly— ‘Transfer of Learning’—
To think ‘God’ and see God green in glory.
Spring!  In the dead of winter.  Or in old age.
Good for you!”
And God was right—I do see Him, and Spring,
Even readers in the room this morning
And two are quite amused but—horrifically–
One is raising a very vivid knife! Why?
I see that too.  And soon impending death.
Your answer, God, to terror?
“Simple,” He replies. “Tomorrow night get
Yet another piece while in the shower
And see her scratch marks on your back.
See!  See!  See!
You’ll get used to it in time.
You’re that good.”