empty windows…

empty windows.  a peek


the nail

embedded rust, flaking, scaling
half the nail painted carrot-orange by the passing of time

driven into faultless lumber at an unintentional slant
the head bent like fresh-tossed, flattened pizza dough

close to a large sliding door, unnoticed
like the aged barn ready to collapse around it

decades had come and gone
the rusted nail weathered vicious storms

in his eyes—tears—as he remembered the day
the nail was pounded into fresh wood

now he was old, his eyes dim
yet the antiquated nail captured his attention each morning

the nail—and old barn surrounding it—
were all that remained of the old man’s life

in his youth his father taught him how to use a hammer
with authority—to strike a nail

this was his first and it—like him—
was now old, weather beaten and fragile

too weak to remove the nail and the nail too frail to be extracted
the two would die together—of this he was sure

no one knew the history of the rust-orange nail
or of a little boy swinging a hammer for the first time

his tiny hands guided by his father’s—
powerful, massive and calloused from working in the sawmill

he removed his hat as he did each morning
and hung it on the brittle nail—still crooked after all these years

it was better that way
it was only an old, rusted nail

it reminded him of his imperfections
after many years unchanged—only older



i met you too late francesca
there with your polka dot dress
sitting alone in a black and white world
tears streaming from brokenness

knowing your desires
you wanted
you needed
to add color to your world
and you did

i stood alone
remembered your smile
and wondered why you could not stay
for just a while

i saw you turn
i knew you’d go
walk away into the mist
ever so slowly

never looking back
there were no tears in your eyes
and yet your heart wept
and then i knew

you could not stay

sometimes angels just can’t



april 3, 1958 – january 19, 1981




a child’s loss

i wanted to know you better—
a black and white photograph told the story
of how you went away without smiling
or saying goodbye.

i looked for flowers
sprayed around the plain metal box—
black and white roses all look the same
and photographs expose no fragrance.

somehow i remember your face,
eyes closed so i’ll never know the color,
hands folded one over the other
as if covering a hidden secret in your belly.

i looked into your padded bed
and when i saw an angel sleeping
i knew you had to go away
and i would never know your touch.

i wonder what you would say
if given just one minute
to reveal the passion in your heart
and if you would hold me as i have dreamed.



airport exchange

it moved ever so slightly
the carry-on case at gate 16a

on its way to scandinavia
of all places

the over-dressed but nice lady
with a ticket to fly
spoke to the animal in the carry-on case
with a silly, childish voice

using words
never meant for me or you

…to me or you
she would not speak at all

the animal didn’t care that she spoke
even with a silly voice

it yawned, then slept
the way cats usually do



backyard pool

the rising heat of an arizona afternoon.
the layering of haze. thick and dirt

how does the body react to drowning?

the lengthening strides of the heart rate.
blood retreating to the chest cavity.

the collection of carbon dioxide in the blood.

the sinking of the body. arms parted,
legs spread. the last wet sighs of breath.

the escape of some lighter, aerial being to the surface.
daybreak – the choking sounds of grief in the local paper.

over breakfast, i am reading the lines of another body,
face-down in some backyard pool.

whispers of suicide shake the tree branches.
the water has its doubts.

my hands are drawn to the newsprint photo
of local strangers huddled near the water.

they note the woman’s sunken position in the earth,
the silt embracing her body.

what is drowning anyway
but the filling of something (water, mud, death)
into empty spaces?

outside, a little girl’s mother is filling the birdbath.
the goldfinches, above, are warbling a familiar song,
some final argument for life.



broken cowboy

i kept the sunrise to my back
while looking at my face in the window
hoping no one would see the pain i had for breakfast
and the empty i poured to wash it down

dust tornadoes swirled behind me
brown and gray on the highway pavement
where yellow lines flaked like a fading sunset
and feathers of an unlucky bird lifted in the breeze

it was the tear that reminded me of your smile
a sort of cleansing for my soul
a reflection of the golden sunrise at my back
as the swirling dust slapped me in my face

i knew i had to move on
i had to turn and face tomorrow
a horseless cowboy with a broken heart
and tennis shoes where boots and spurs should be




new stems pushed through the soil today
an april morning,
sunshine and clouds like cotton
a day of promise

but you left us today matthew

perhaps most do not understand
but when you said goodbye that last time
you knew your pain was too intense
and nothing worked


now those who loved you can love you more
on those april days when memories of your life
break through the surface
like lilies aching for the sun

i’ll remember your life
and the torment you silently endured
while rosebuds unfurled
and the red at your feet moved slowly

like silk petals in the wind
winding as a slow moving river
over rounded stones and under fallen branches
whispering, ‘welcome home’

matthew 04-05-13



ms. deborah digges

ms. deborah digges died today
plunged to the earth and they found her that way
she took her complex thoughts of simplicity
and buried them in the soil of the university

i suppose like most who take their own lives
we will never know the real cause of her death
but when one leaps from a building so high
it will certainly take your very last breath

ms. digges was a teacher, a poet and an artist
she worked at her craft and gave it her all
at least up until that very moment
when she leapt to her death and died in the fall

of course her students were quite perplexed
and not one of them had a single clue
just that their professor did what she did
now they had to do what surviving students do

so ms.deborah digges was buried as she died
with her body embedded in the ground
and all of her students stood and silently cried
knowing that’s just how ms. deborah digges was found

february 6, 1950 – april 10, 2009
ms. deborah digges was an american poet and artist



stephanies song

perhaps they linger still
the words written for you
then swept away by yesterday’s breeze

with eager eyes i followed them
for awhile
and hoped they would stay as sentences

i kept none of them
the words written for you
then swept away by yesterday’s breeze

they were to be hand delivered
caressed from my life to yours
before the wind could steal them away

some breezes blow warm
and i often wonder
if perhaps rhyming words of poetry
are somehow delivered
after all

could it be that the tracks a train follows
will lead me to that place reserved for you
in the deepest places of my heart?

words were written
but i kept none of them
when the train roared by
the wind scattered them
leaving only tears and dreams
of what might have been

if i had walked the tracks
searching for scattered papers
and littered dreams



memories of haight-ashbury

i wanted to know you better
every word between your thoughts
to feel the pain you felt on a busted clock
when the yesterday of your dreams died
like cracks in a city sidewalk

i listened to your heart
and felt tears streaming down my cheeks
when i realized i no longer knew you
and the bruises of my heart
only made it soft and dark

my guitar still sings as chords
welcome you to my world
where i want to know you better
and taste your smile while it is still on your lips
and memories of haight-ashbury linger

somewhere between my broken heart
and the mending made possible by your tears
i see you walking away
waving hello with one hand
and goodbye with the other



spanish eyes

my eyes, like magnets, were drawn
towards your hair,
black as a raven’s wing
as it caressed the dark
skin of your shoulders

i memorized the marvelous beauty of your face
your full moist lipped smile
the delicate curve of your nose
the depth of your dark brown eyes,

my eyes wandered your soft brown nakedness
teasing your neck and shoulders until reaching
your beautiful breasts

your smile broadened and your
cheeks flushed as if you could feel the stirring of
my loins,
when you turned away
i continued my journey,
the cloth of your trousers hugged you
like a second skin hugging
your contours as i wanted to.

as you sat down
i watched as your young breasts
rearranged themselves
within their lacy confines.

although your fine young body gave rise to sighs
i was held captive by your spanish eyes
as my eyes visited places i had only dreamed of



how could they know?

how could they know?

those who look in from outside
through the dimly lit window
watching every move made on the inside

how could they know?

it is so simple
to watch and speak
until those on the street hear

judgment is easy
when they all know the truth
and walk so proudly

how could they know?

they watch and speak
all the while not knowing
it is but a reflection

there is no one inside

what they see
are their own eyes
weeping for the sins of another…

how were they to know?



silent scream

i heard the silent scream again
and felt the piercing
of my heart…where i used to live

now someone else plays in my head
games i wish not to play
with no board and no rules

i will die alone when the time is right
lie on the floor and breathe
the silent invisible fumes
that will wrap wicked fingers
around my neck
squeezing the final breath from my body

the voices in my head hurt
in ways i never knew possible
as my tired body longs for sleep
while my racing mind craves peace
at the hand of this intruder
who shreds my heart

the silent scream is louder now
and the voice i hear
frightens me
now that i recognize the crying
i feel the tears
the silent scream is my own



did anyone listen to the silence

did anyone listen to the
of the unraveling rope?
twisting, turning
life in the balance
by a thread

white on black
nylon on emptiness

single strands pulling
as he counts
the filament of his demise
as if counting
floating feathers
blown by shifting winds

his life disentangled
hanging in the balance
upon aching strand

he’s come undone
too late to gather
too late to wish upon a star

it is black



fork in the road

there was a fork in the road
the sign just before me read
san juan capistrano
thirty miles

swallows visit san juan capistrano

each year they are celebrated
for their wondrous flight
when they return with the precision
of a sunday morning mass
in rome

swallows know no obstacles
such as a fork in the road

they follow their instincts
and fly with the wind
to san juan capistrano

for me
there was a fork in the road
the sign just before me read
san juan capistrano
thirty miles

i picked up the fork
and drove north
in search of san juan baptista



eternal shadow

his stride did not define him
the length of his shadow
told only of the light
from which he walked
and of the darkness
into which he would disappear

faceless, formless,
the darkness would engulf him
he would be defined by the black of the moment
non-existent, dissolved
into the quiet of the instant time before him
melting like thick mounds of lead
onto a faceless mold
held spellbound now
there is no light
perhaps there never was



the soldier

windows opened wide
sound rides on the breeze
resting on a black and white
—now brown—photograph

1942 was the year
the soldier smiled
not knowing whether to stand at attention
he looked taller that way
but it wasn’t necessary
the photograph faded
and nobody knew his name

a closed and deserted diary slept beside the photograph
a shroud of dust protecting it’s secrecy
hoping that no one would discover it’s emptiness
where a highway of words
should have stretched
like varicose veins
crawling across a roadmap
folded too many times
by too many fingers

the hands on a pocket-watch remain permanent
motionless for decades of uncounted minutes
it’s oyster-shaped shell
like a casket prepared for viewing
one last time

eerily quiet with no obligatory sound
where minutes have died
an unknown soldier stands at attention

in a discolored photograph
1942 was the year



quiet desperation

she dried her eyes
but somehow the tears kept flowing.
a broken heart, a lonely soul…
music in her head was unheard.
words written on her heart
died a violent death.

i think i fell in love when i saw her…
or at least i hoped to.
i cried, when i saw her tears;
and her brokenness became my own.

i wondered for whom she waited,
and at last i heard the call of the wind
blowing like blue waves, breaking
onto the white sands of a virgin beach.

a multicolored sun dipped into the sea
with no splash, no sound, it drowned…
like the quiet desperation she held
clutched in her handbag…



the corner

there was only shattered silence
where broken glass should have been
words already hurt like a splinter
left unattended too long

and now insults were served in a glass bowl
surrounded by daisies, carnations, and roses
red because he loved her, white because she died

he rocked in the corner
holding her picture and dying one breath at a time
life didn’t matter now that she was gone
and he counted the metric flow
of his suffocation

he sat quietly in his aloneness
and wore his loneliness like a soft jean jacket
life hurt and his white room felt safe
as he studied the bowl of insults,
nourishment for his soul

the newly shattered glass
was surrounded by daisies, carnations, and roses
red because he loved her, white because she died
he rocked in the corner and there, afraid
he wept


family tree

there were no birds in the family tree
leaves had fallen and branches died
while roots longed for water
twisting through coagulated soil
like a mass of veins
when the blood of life has ceased

ravens watched from a distance
but soon left in search of fertile ground
where ancient oak trees stood like a sentry
unshakable, a haven against harsh winter winds

i dreamed of sitting beneath the oak trees
when the gentle breeze of summer
dried my tears and offered shelter and comfort

i dreamed of living in the comfort of shade
close to the strength of the resplendent trees
close enough to die under the branches
when winter snow has chased summer birds

there were no birds in my family tree
leaves had fallen, branches long since died
while roots no longer thirsted for water
or twisted through coagulated soil
like a mass of veins




did you ever feel pomaceous
when standing naked and alone
in front of a tinted mirror?

it is…
as though you could have anything in the world
if only you would tend to the garden…

sometimes when i awaken in the din of night
and wonder who screamed
i feel that i have left the garden unattended
and allowed pomegranates to fall bruised to the ground

did you ever wonder who would hang the fruit
if summer rain washed it
and left it to dry in the sunshine
and the stem was pulled away?

no wonder god left velcro
to be found by man

the noise of departure itself
rapes the quiet of morning
and fruit still falls to the dirt

is a reverberation used by god to beckon birds
and insects
that breakfast is served

for me
i shall someday stand naked and alone
in the garden
looking for a fig leaf
and wondering why we have bonsai trees
in the midst of the forest



the color is too vibrant

sometimes when colors were too vibrant…
there were faded old doors to appreciate

the heat of summer waved across the room
a blowing curtain, pale and bone dry
while her obituary still played across my mind
like a brass door hinge, unoiled and belligerent

seems she wrote it from the depths of her heart
then tossed the words away, silently…like her song

she had rummaged through kitchen drawers
in search of paperclips and rubber bands;

anything to keep the frailty of her life in line
before snacking on trail mix and apple chips,
dehydrated like the life she would destroy
while looking for pieces of a puzzle, missing.

dust on the window sill outlined a perfect circle
where her plant flourished in the warm afternoon sun
yet sometimes when colors were too vibrant…
there were faded old doors to appreciate

full circles, rubber bands and paperclips
will never replace the sound of her laughter
or the taste of thirst quenching fresh-squeezed lemonade
that proved she had chosen to live…before she selected to die.

she told me was leaving, in words i now understand
but cross-country calls allowed me
to munch on trail mix and apple chips
sipping on fresh-squeezed lemonade

while she died alone,
her thirsty soul finally quenched by tears
paperclips shaped like question marks
and rubber bands left in a perfect circle



empty windows

empty windows, open and silent
yawn in stone walls,
while clothing and souls are washed
with the tears of the afflicted…

open shutters wave lazily
as hinges whine with each small move
groaning with the weight of painted wood
in hollow doorways of shattered lives

with clothes hung on a single line
she washes and wrings more
not yet wondering what tomorrow means
for a little girl with wet sandals and tired hands

containers of metal and earthen clay
will someday cause her to wonder
about the soul she is cleansing
with the dirty water used to clean her clothes

for today her tears are concealed
unseen by any who look on
yet she knows they are there, she feels them
on her cheeks, but first in her hurting heart



slow down

i’m leaving the days of my past for the future i do not hold
i’m leaving my friends in favor of uncertain dreams and hope;

all my pride i kept for a while: though, before i was the master of my slaves,
now, i am a slave of many masters – unknown and sometimes haunted.

as i carry the woods towards the unseen forest and high mountains
i lift my soul with prayers and footprints of valor;

like many dreamers, i travel with one bag of strong will
and a pack of hope to a land i do not know,

like all travelers, i wish to spend my days gathering pebbles from various spots
and keeping them inside my pockets of memories,

like all searchers, i will kiss the moon and clouds
and sing a song only angels can understand,

as i wander from one point to another
i see a bit of light and a bit of shadow –

like all journeys there is no stopover on the road
but only a signpost which says: ‘slow down’

perhaps there is a bump just ahead.



high rock lake

the moon smiles a crooked smile when night falls on the water
soothing splashes and wrinkled ripples
with the quiet of falling darkness

there are no high rocks on high rock lake
no jutting mineral formations from thousands of lost years
only expectations, high and lofty, now jagged like stones

watching heaven give birth to new stars
one to the north, another soon beside it
a constellation is formed, dotting the darkness like scattered punctuation

the taste of bitter darkness settles on my lips
thick and filling like swirled chocolate
whipped to softness until enticing, seductive and delicious

no moment is like the last just before it
no measure of time is held captive in an hourglass
while fleeing grains of sand move gracefully from here to there

soft light dances only for a brief moment on the water
then moves on as slight ripples form
pushing the artwork of the moon closer to morning



cotton candy and teddy bear weekend

i listened when she sang my song
the night was heavier than my heart
hanging like cotton drapes on a flimsy rod

my words left her lips like smooth silk
and tears filled my eyes
until they spilled over
as my sad country song flowed
like a pure mountain stream
with nowhere to go but down

she sang…

“well the little girl kissed her dad goodbye
and through her smile i heard a cry
that said ‘i love ya , daddy!’

and her little arms gave a hug once more
then she turned and ran toward the waiting door
where she was happy

was a cotton candy teddy bear weekend
with a lonesome dad and his cheerful little friend
come back soon child, we’ll do it once again
on our cotton candy and teddy bear weekend

well the little girl ran straight to her room
she knew her dad would be back home soon
as she pulled her curtains off to one side
and through tearful eyes she quietly cried

we’ll have a cotton candy and teddy bear weekend
and the circus clown will always be my friend
the summer sun will shine warm once again
on our cotton candy and teddy bear weekend…”

she laid down her guitar and wiped her eyes
and i knew my song always made her cry
and as she turned to leave the room
i heard her sobbing and said “i’ll be back soon”

she left the room alone that night
and i never saw her smile again
her guitar still on the metal stand
where the silenced song had died

i never wanted her to leave
i hoped the little girl within her would always sing

and we could have a cotton candy and teddy bear weekend
and the circus clown would always be our friend
as the summer sun was shining warm again
on our cotton candy and teddy bear weekend…



build the wall

kind words are less spoken in these times
and more people are hurt by dust.

caring has been put aside and
anger and deceit has risen instead.

why does this occur in such a violent way-
opening doors that should have been kept shut.

it closes doors that hurt more by its actions.
it dries a heart that was once filled with love for others.

one brick at a time they say;
in the end the wall around you will be finished.



need the for cities

cities only have names to fill up roadmaps
and benefit lost strangers

freight trains still chug across the landscape
whether or not there is a city to stop them

people laugh, cry and die
as easily on asphalt streets that support monuments of progress
as in jungle warfare
under a cloud of chemical bombs

some cities eat away at cowboy hearts and boy-scout minds

but then…
if we had only ranches and mountains
where would the prostitutes stand?

nameless cities would hinder mail delivery
except for those who rarely receive words
scribbled by long lost lovers or misplaced friends

surely we need to name our cities
perhaps we could number them in precise order
based on the nagging urge to return there…

san francisco and boston would be low numbers

for toledo
many may need a calculator



streams of mud

we played in shallow streams of muck
where there was no black, no white
we were all mud-packed kids
crusty-skinned little boys who knew the sludge would wash away
when we dipped into the stream
and splashed one another
to reveal brown skin or pink

touch football followed the mud spackling
on a grass field with stone markers
and oak trees with vertical goalposts
and horizontal branches that taught us about math
then converted back to branches
after each game, when the birds flew away

no one could tape the bladder of our football
better than charlie d
and duct tape was invented to hold it inside the ripped up
plastic that we wished was pigskin

franklin always knew when the grown-ups were coming
and although it was frowned upon
we still played together every week
his brown skin busting against mine
and charlie’s bumping into and crushing joey’s

the grown-ups tried to squeeze the ‘colored boys’ out of our minds
and put in memories of blue skies
and clear streams, plush fields with colorful flowers
and oak trees older than jesus

turns out i had room for both
and charlie d and franklin taught me what the adults couldn’t
streams and flowers, blue skies and brown boys
oak trees and birds
a touchdown is still six points
and we never went for the extra point


gold in the sky

the black sky was a shade darker than necessary
if there was to appear a golden orb over the city lights
gray would have worked just as well
but black was better suited for watching stars tumble
to places we could only imagine

a plowed field just off the winding road
convertible top down on the little bmw
and only stars and headlights to busy us
as we waited for a magic color in the sky
made real by our hope it would happen

i knew i could fit in her hand, i had been there before
yet somehow stars and clouds made her touch warmer
airplanes lined up in single file fashion
just like kids practicing a fire alarm
giggling, excited to be out of class
while the school burned in their imaginations

we agreed to go home and make love
and wait for another night to see gold in the sky
with the top down she counted stars with her hand
her hair scattered in the wind and i admired her beauty
a little girl panning for celestial gold, innocence in her eyes
a woman grasping for a secret treasure, passion on her mind

she watched for the flash of a miners pan in the night time sky
gold hanging, suspended like christmas ornaments
amber reflections of heaven when the door was left open
perhaps the golden glow we had seen on a remembered night
was a likeness of her smile when she knew angels were observing
now she watches every night so the dream stays alive



divine intervention

his signature crawled from thick fingertips
one line, a single stanza unbroken and black
that waved from left to right
like a flag battling an eastern gale

a fresh white evening snow of silence settled
and the deed was done

“stay” they said

“stay” said he

a life had been given new hope

“wait” he said
as he looked at his watch
“who reset the clocks when the power failed?”

“’twas i” he said

“and who are you?” they asked

“i am the husband of the woman whose life he took”

“too late, it’s 12:04” the governor smiled
shredding his signature before it dried

“oh well” they said “wasn’t meant to be”



nobody’s home

the path from here to yesterday
has too often been traveled
in search of answers and street signs

darkened corners harbor memories
that reach out like a stranger
in want of a cigarette
and in need of a bath

dusty smelly corridors
permeated with cheap wine
are more narrow than the minds
of those whiskered men who walk them

and nobody is home
when i knock on the door

the streets of last night
are covered with newspapers
sports pages and obituaries
honoring heroes dead and alive

homeless men homeless women
pluck them from their gutters
to wear as jackets and fashion as hats

somewhere in the distance
a little boy cries
at the hands of a man angered by his failures

and nobody is home
when i knock on the door

nobody is home

i can’t knock anymore



pale green suicide

a pale green hallway
leads to the darkened glass
where windows offer no reflection;
through a door that offers no life.

dried brown stains once red with life
stick like flaking glue,
holding spent memories like peeling wallpaper.

the tinge of urine and spit camouflage corners
where hope died
and peace surrendered.

thick juices of passion streak down the brown sheetrock
in unbroken innocence,
and unbridled silence.

why would he select this as his tomb, his chosen battlefield?
the same reason tarnished coins
have died in the belly of white porcelain pigs.

everyone needs a place to feel loved
and deserves an occasion to feel acceptance
if love was never known, then he died wishing,
adding the sting of teardrops
to his eulogy.


broken silence

blank stares settled like fog on faces left over from midnight.

the smell of cheap wine, cigarettes and sweat jabbed
like a broken fighter
and nickels were passed around like street corner condoms
rubbed hard and spent but once.

men-boys walked in short semi-circles, weaving slowly,
not unlike a tattered flag,
while clutching the skinny necks of colored bottles
and spitting brown tar-laced saliva as if it owned their misery.

a new morning sun crawled over waiting buildings and shadows
crept like thieves into empty hallways

but silence filled the air.

then a single gunshot resonated like the first note
of a well-planned symphony

and everyone moved a step closer to becoming a conductor.




midnight was dark again
and i felt your pain
as your heart cried out from the grave
words you had wanted me to hear
when life was too good for me to listen
and too painful for you to endure

where did you go
on that morning when you slipped away?

you chose to leave
without goodbye
and now i watch midnight
come and go
like a laden down freight train
too heavy to stop once it has started

i wondered recently…
why do i cry so easily
and does it make me less of a man?
no. just a man with less
now that you are gone
and only tears of the brokenhearted remain

once i saw your image in the doorway
and now i wait
for midnight
and the darker hours that follow
knowing that you will return
ready to say hello
so you may say goodbye

our hearts were knit
in ways we never knew
and now
the fabric of my soul is unraveled.

it was not in a wheat field
beside an outbound freight train

nor was it in a cemetery
where last i saw your face

but your image in a doorway at midnight
tears in your eyes
and a wave on your hand
wishing to say your goodbyes
though i could never understand



does death ride a black horse?
is yesterday all that matters?
can emptiness be filled with nothing?
do memories feel pain when they die?

questions are easy
answers are hard
when the mind and the heart
are destitute
and the seed of hope
died in the drought



for only a day

we ran through the field,
barely missing sharp glass fragments
and jagged rocks
and never missing opportunities
to laugh and stumble over one another
to hide from approaching cars
and imaginary pirates swinging galvanized swords

tears and blood were hidden in mud streaks
and wishes drowned in grass roots
where summer days covered the field
with white roses and blackberries
and memories of childhood
stolen away by nightmares of shallow streams
and blueberry bruises

at days end we retreated
to trivial encampments within our minds
where barricades and crumbling forts
were whisked away by afternoon’s winds
and fear, that dominant master, guided us home
pouring emptiness into places where hope lived

for only a day




it was to be the final

the darkness of night hurts
when loneliness and emptiness are filled
with haunting voices of no one there

words are tightly bound like a whisper in the night
shadows crawling slowly
passing through the heart of darkness
where nobody lives

dreams are stolen by midnight visitors
who whisper before they steal

i sometimes wonder how much is left

the darkened window
stares blankly into the night
unable to cast shadows
or darken those already cast

windowpanes protect
from the nightmares of yesterday
and tomorrow
seems half a world away

how is it that darkness strangles
with hands of air
their grip tighter each time
while through the darkened window

only emptiness



strong winds blow

it appears the poet died today
he was afflicted with a broken heart
seems he had no more words to say
he’d already done his part

so they got the oven ready
cause he wanted his body to burn
and they held the tray real steady
and poured him inside an urn

seems the poet flew over the calming seas
more freely than ever before
his ashes scattered, just as he pleased
they sank slowly to the ocean floor

sand and ashes blend well, it seems
so the poet was laid to rest
it was just a troubadour’s wandering dream
after he’d given his very best

as the lyricist returned to the tranquil sea
he caused words to come alive
hoping someday someone would see
the world through his watchful eyes

the sea water became his salty tears
the clouds, a soft blanket for rest
in the depth he drowned his remaining fears
knowing he had given his best

it happened that the poet died today
he had nowhere left to go
the final words they heard him say
were ‘take me where the strong winds blow’


lost minutes

so many nights i watch the clock
the minute hand agonizing its way from one
to two to three
until it stands straight up
splitting the one and two of twelve
at the top of an otherwise empty dial

questions born in the daylight hours
and aching bones
keep me awake
and only dreams are visited
while the minute hand silently mocks me
on its journey from twelve to twelve

each clockwise jump of the minute hand
erases a hope
of what might have been
if minutes could be saved
and spent like pennies in a chocolate store
in mid-april mendocino

if i could i would dream
of sleeping in a timeless bed
where no minute hand could scream my name
during the blackest hour of midnight
and no memories of yesteryear
could push ahead the moving hand of time

there must be a way
to stop the scream of the silent minute hand
without stopping the irritating thumping noise
in the recesses of my heart
there must be a way
to roll over and dream in black and white

it moved again
one more minute forever lost



the taste of love

remember the morning
when love tasted like chocolate
and we swallowed smiles like we owned them

your body was my playground
and i painted it with an olive on my tongue
and desire in my eyes

bed sheets removed themselves
in the battle we fought
with wrestling thighs and exploring fingers

that was a day when i told you i love you
like i had done so many days before
and so many since

the morning was younger than us
but we played as though we owned the sun
would engulf the moon and harness the stars

only clouds mattered on that day
and we wished they would stay forever
but clouds are clouds and they move on

have we moved on
until there can never be another morning
when love tasted like chocolate

as i watch the clouds i long for that morning
it was in the winter time
but i will always be warmed by the smile you wore



demarcation of love

music flowed through the air
like an unbroken dream
softer than tears of joy
harsher than a folded memory

as she turned to go
i had tasted her smile
and consumed her reveries
and now could only watch and reminiscence

the fallen tears we shared
were left inseparable
mingled with sadness
intimate in their joy

like water over rounded stones
soft and caressing
i felt her tenderness even in leaving
and her fingertips while she had stayed

she was the demarcation of love
separating passion from passion
as if opening a classic old novel
with pages brown and curling

i wept then…i weep still
guarding those places in my heart
while wondering if she thinks of me still
and ever answered the question:

where does the white go
when the show has melted away…?


walk into the water

thick brown muddied waters paused like pudding
swallowing the light of an insipid moon
digesting lifeless reflections, moving measured and dignified

the mississippi waited with hunger pangs
aching with its wide-mouthed belly open
spitting on mud island, salivating on the wolf river

he didn’t bother to remove his white t-shirt or jeans
and black combat boots were not made for swimming
yet in his bipolar mind he chose to swim

oh, the american queen river boat sashays like a dancer
gracing the thick brown muddied waters
awakening the surface and leaving the dead to rest

slowly wading into the storied mississippi
he could not walk on top like jesus did
so he crucified himself

now mississippi river waters breathe darker and thicker
jagged, pale streaks of moonlight weep sorrowful tears
while dead echoes move undignified, the victor in an undeclared war

walk into the muddy waters, stir them up a bit
until mud-filled boots won’t take another step
the shore is there, somewhere in the darkness,

now he can only laugh at himself.



midnight was dark again
i felt your pain
as your heart cried out from the grave
words you had wanted me to hear
when life was too good for me to listen
and too painful for you to endure

where did you go
on that morning when you slipped away?

you chose to leave
without goodbye
and now i watch midnight
come and go
like a laden down freight train
too heavy to stop once it has started

i wondered recently…
why do i cry so easily
and does it make me less of a man?
no. just a man with less
now that you are gone
and only tears of the brokenhearted remain

once i saw your image in the doorway
and now i wait
for midnight
and the darker hours that follow
knowing that you will return
ready to say hello
so you may say goodbye

our hearts were knit
in ways we never knew
and now
the fabric of my soul is unraveled.

it was not in a wheat field
beside an outbound freight train

nor was it in a cemetery
where last i saw your face

but your image in a doorway at midnight
tears in your eyes
and a wave on your hand
wishing to say your goodbyes
though i could never understand


diane’s memories

her hugs were warm like big red balloons
born where blackberries still grow wild
and newspapers are thin

warm, whether on an unassuming weather-beaten bench
or a beach where water laps warmly on the sand
warm where walls are usually more colorful than mornings

her hugs turned cold as a northeastern gale
then, as quickly as she came into my life she was gone
the air released, the big red balloon deflated

her last memory was born where i could not go
she always said ‘memories are made in your heart’
she buried her memories deeply, then she went away.


proud to be an american

i saw the mailman steal my letter
i saw the tax man steal my dime
just when i thought things were better
i saw the preacher steal my time

i saw the mexican steal my border
and the terrorist steal my plane
gas so high i can’t afford’er
but still i pump ‘er just the same

my boss became a very rich man
and his boss was richer still
i didn’t understand their master plan
and i suppose i never will

the dog pound repossessed my stray
the ford dealer took my car
it was on empty anyway
so i know he won’t get far

the banker closed my bank account
the gardener took back his plants
wells fargo got just a small amount
but levi’s repossessed my pants

alfani took the shirt off my back
florsheim’s now has my shoes
my new socks are from a gunny sack
least i don’t owe union dues

the plumber took my kitchen sink
the carpenter took my wood
so about this time i’m startin’ to think
if this is bad i need some good

tonight i’ll sleep beneath the stars
and feel a gentle breeze
i’ll wonder why god went so far
just to get me on my knees

i’ll listen for that still small voice
and hear what he has to say
that he had given me a choice
but i kept pushing him away

so while he had my attention
and i was so naked and alone
the government took my pension
they picked me to the bone



and the days before
are now gone like the rain
while leaving the valleys
streaked across my tired face

once a smile was easy
and when the rains came
we made love in a borrowed bed
and umbrellas were left unopened
like the secrets of my life

i loved your body
more than i loved you
and the rolling terrain of your skin
made moments explode
juicy like ripe watermelons

and when you left
you took today and folded it
like an old already read newspaper
and walked out into the rain
your red umbrella still collapsed in the corner

i knew yesterday had come
and you had gone
taking moments and memories
out to the field where daisies grew wild
and rain quenched their thirst
like your body had quenched mine
before yesterday


we were children

we were children
already i was lost
it was so long ago
you came into my life
equipped with words
that echoed from you to me to you

now you have gone away
after so little time
how does god select one
to be granted immunity from life?

you taught me lessons
about how to live
as your life slipped away

god listened
then as you walked alone
he was pleased
with the work of his hands

those same hands
that touched my life


the window

i press against the cold pale window
watching children play on the overgrown lawn

filled with an innocence i never knew
in a childhood raped by faceless men

death swims before me
a hazy illusion of images
of days i wish to remember and nights i long to forget

though pain engulfs me
i choose to stand quietly still, hoping to remain unseen

as i slide my hand on the tear stained window
i see life distorted through it
as i watch children playing on the manicured lawn



her words rolled across my mind
guitar chords softly filling the empty spots
where loneliness once so easily fit

lines and lyrics kept me afloat
in the midst of a turbulent waterless sea
as tears filled her brown eyes

i fell in love watching her watching me
her words flowed heavy like wet cement and held me
encased in a moment like i had never known

she built me into who i am
and her song became my path
a place for me to walk when tomorrow had past
and yesterday was still in the distance

white flowing silk complimented her beauty
an angelic smile asked me to stay
until her brown eyes said she had to go

now her words silently roll across my mind
the soft sounds of her guitar fill my empty spots
where loneliness once so easily fit

and walking into yesterday is easier
because she showed me tomorrow
and shared her lips in teaching me to smile



she held me captive with her fingers
nails rhythmically tapping on sand-colored corian
like a general marching off to war
ready to go but wanting to stay

with my eyes i could taste her sumptuous lips
swallowing words was easy
snacking on syllables and punctuation
spilling juices onto her thirsty tongue before a kiss

i nearly drowned in her tears
weighted words pulled like an anchor
as she recounted her story
with talking hands and dejected eyes

i discovered the birth of tears
when the heart hurts and the mind knows
eyes can no longer endure the pain
and they cleanse the soul with wishes

i could have loved her
during days that allowed a gentle breeze
a quicker step, guilt-free innocence
and a season to nurture the blossoms of love

now we sit, fingers interlocked
the marching general no longer trudging to war
syllables and punctuation consumed
until tears mingle, wondering if love has escaped

why does life unleash prisoners of the heart,
forever trapped in yesterday
in places where seeds are planted
and in the parched heat of the noontime sun…

there, she died
wilted like the life she tried to become
brandi grew into herself
then died like the seed she hoped to be