like a slow-moving spider
in the heat of a summer’s night
it silently crawled across itself
branching out
until there remained nowhere left
to go

shattered glass knows no pain
when it dies in corners
it stops…merely ends
like a washed-out dead-end street
on yesterday’s road map
before the heavy equipment rolled in
and altered the signs… 

turns out there was no true north
after all


weather report



weather report

he sat in in his rickety gray chair
the scent of bougainvillea lingering
just behind his head
as he rested

‘a slight breeze’
the weather report said
“partly sunny and no chance of rain
an excellent day to be outside.”
the man on tv had said, waving at nothing

everybody knows
he only points at an unadorned green wall
no fat clouds or smiling suns
only an empty, bare, bleak,
totally unembellished and downright boring wall

his critique of the weather report had begun
a daily routine
he talked to no one
no one answered
yet somehow he heard no one

content, he lifted his tired body
from the rickety gray chair
replaced the flower pot to save his seat
and walked inside
“sure looks like rain.” he said with a whisper.



poetry & photo:  tolbert



her blue eye


her eyes stole me away
the look
but always blue
i wondered what they had seen
how such beauty could
see pain
shed tears
i looked
she looked
we saw the future
two glances dancing
a collision course across a table for two
while our eyes
made us one

tin cup music


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as mornings grow colder i am reminded of a woman
curled next to a steam vent in an effort to warm
herself.  a small tin cup like you might find in
an army surplus store was positioned near her
exposed face as the cold nipped away at her dignity.
some faces are unforgettable. hers was one.


tin cup music

life’s story was etched on her face
carved with pocket-knife memories
rubbed in with grammar school erasers
and colored like heavy wet fog
on a stinson beach winter’s morning

smiles were kept tucked in her pocket
until a coin rang out like handel’s messiah
hitting the bottom of her tin cup
a reminder of how far she had fallen
in a life written like a fourteen-line sonnet

noise from darkened streets and shadowed corners
became comforting street sounds
as she curled in her coarse wool army blanket
now clutched to her chin and pushed by her toes
until she found sleep in her cocoon of warmth

then a little girl jumped on chalk-drawn squares
skipped rope and laughed while running into the wind
and peeked around corners in games of hide and seek
oh, she chased her puppy and hugged her kitten
in dreams constructed with yesterday’s pieces

awakened, she wondered when she last cried
tears no longer fell easily
and the gurgling complaints in her belly
reminded her that morning erased dreams
as easily as dreams erased the pain of living

everybody’s dying

i wrote this during a particularly dark time circa 1980. 
it was and is far from uplifting but somehow i came
across it and as i read it i realized we are there as we
were then…and perhaps we have never left that dark 
place and i dare say if i wrote it today it may be a little 
darker yet. 


everybody’s dying

everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
in this world we call insane
and nobody knows it, 
‘cause it’s part of the game
and there is no resurrection
once we fall down from that cross
and there is no institution
to redeem our final loss
and there is no cotton bandage
that can stop the bleeding wound
and no time for looking backwards
‘cause we are already doomed
everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
and we’re smiling all the while
we just never realize it
we just line up single file
and the explosion of that bullet
bursts across the night time sky
and the mushroom cloud filters down
and the laughing people cry
and there is no restoration
once our cities tumble down
and there is no consolation
for no prizes can be found
and there is no rhyme or reason
that can color over dead
and no time for looking backwards
to the words that jesus said
everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
and some have sold their souls
and everybody knows it
after sifting through the coals
and there is no hope for another time
the stainless sword just fell
there is no care for your fellow man
as he stumbles into hell
and there is no constitution
that politicians sign
for the sign’s already written
and sealed since the start of time

and everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
though none can answer why
and there are no super patriots
who storm across the sky
and there is no firm foundation
to hold your footing down
and there is no more destitution
past the hunger sound
and there is no vegetation
to keep a man alive
he should have eaten the bread of life
if he wanted to survive
and no time for looking backwards
to the way it could have been
that time has passed and satan’s tongue
has pierced the hearts of men
everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
god, take this pain from me
this sight of annihilation
this staining of the sea
everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
the anguish is too real
even a blind man who has darkened eyes
no longer can conceal
that window of his inner soul
which holds the picture clear
everybody’s dying, everybody’s dying
my friend…the time is here

the silent snowman


winter windchimes wp

the silent snowman

like an inverted V they leaned against one another
warmth from two bodies flowing
though only their shoulders touched
their body heat met at the created apex

they dreamed of warmer childhood days
when circulation was drawn to that place of touch
where synchronous curves of their dance flowed
to the near-silent music of still air

softly falling snow echoed their hush
like slow drifting white goose-down feathers
layered in soundless silence
slowly surrounding their warmth with winter’s cold

the drumbeat of two hearts
paced their unhurried march to nowhere
sleep found them in their peaceful pose
and one falling snowflake after another stayed

until the beat of their hearts met
children building frozen white sand castles
their inverted V was frozen in time
until the white of snow melted away

their scribbled note told the story
two old children who never left childhood
and chose instead to play in the snow
and become that snowman they never built

picnic table

Did you ever sit at an old picnic table and talk with
a friend or loved one about your most cherished
memories and hopes for tomorrow?
Suddenly the day was spent, and you were so much
richer for the experience. This is that table and if you
have never been here please sit and rest with me…
you may not treasure the memories just yet but trust
me, someday you will look back at this old table and
trace every line with your fingertips….

a picnic table 1

picnic table
sitting across from one another
words spoke what their eyes already knew
and the water behind her sipped on them
in search of its own shades of blue
they talked and laughed about yesterday
as if it had a name of its own
and made plans that would last forever
but forever was already gone
painted with entanglements and shadows
the old table was now tilted and gray
bearing initials carved in the wooden top
as if it had always been that way

creases in life

creases in life

an old photograph of kids who are now older than when it was taken…this is about the wrinkles and creases in the photo…but it is also about me.
creases in life
creases streaked like lightening
from north to south breaking the hills
in a sepia moment from yesterday
where five small children sat eternally still
like barbed wired fingers of evil,
wrinkles crawled to dead-weed spaces
while one behind the camera looked on
to capture waiting innocent children’s faces
I discovered just a glimpse into days gone by
when photographs were so easily broken
and as in long-lost memories laid aside
tears followed where words were left unspoken