Korea and Beyond, Katherine James Books, 2007

Doug Stuber is the former Chair of the North Carolina Green Party. He loves Kwang Suk Park and his son, James Hyuntay Stuber. He writes, plays bass guitar, paints abstract expressions, plays with his children, teaches English at Chonnam National University, Gwangju, South Korea, stands on the corner hawking free poems, rambles with intellects on Sunday mornings, plants vegetables in his back yard, publishes anthologies, and attempts to explain to people how greed on the part of some causes misery for others. This, in a world gone mad for profit, and away, far, far away from nature, the force that sustains us, even as we abuse it.

The Creator sheds a teardrop for Peace.

Dedicated
to
Kwang Suk Park
&
James Hyuntay Stuber

Much appreciation to Hazmat Review, Friday Noon Poets,
Katherine James Books, Old Mountain Press and Tim
Crowley’s Writers for Peace for inspiration and publication
of poems contained herein.

Katherine James Books
Chapel Hill

Copyright 2008 Doug Stuber

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

ISBN: 0-9673855-4-7

Table of Contents

Ode to Horace Mann 1)
One Love 2)
Dharma 3)
Wonderment 4)
What Counts as a Life Fulfilled? 5)
Student Lounge, Wake Technical Community College I 6)
Student Lounge, Wake Technical Community College II 7)
Wake Up Call 8)
We’ve Said Our Peace 9)
Bombs Away! 11)
Genocide, Slavery, Greed 13)
Corporate Suckered Us 15)
Fayetteville Mall, September 5, 2002 16)
Hargraves Blues 17)
Jog 18)
Fly-i Flight 1597 (Barf Bag Poem #1) 19)
Melissa, Nicole Miller, Birmingham, Michigan (Barf Bag Poem #3) 20)
Takae (Barf Bag Poem #4) 21)
Cedar Pass 22)
Atlas Shrugged (Barf Bag Poem #6) 23)
The Syndicate 24)
Latin Declension, Late 2004: A Rock, E-Rock, Iraq 25)
Carolina Wren 26)
Weaver Street at 15 (March ’04) 27)
Barf Bag Poem #9 28)
Hoist Point Inlet Only (Barf Bag Poem #12) 29)
Barf Bag Poem #13, ATL-RSW 30)
Barf Bag Poem #14 31)
Apathy = Frito Bandito (Barf Bag Poem #15) 32)
Oil Droplets (Barf Bag Poem # 17) 33)
New Dawn (Barf Bag Poem #18) 34)
Kim (Barf Bag Poem #19) 35)
For James Hyuntay Stuber 36)
The End 37)
Keep It Moving Lard-Ass 38)
Flicker 39)
Gushing Pineapple 40)
James Hyuntay Stuber at Three Months 41)
James at Five Months 42)
Christmas 2006 (7?, 8?, 9?…) 43)
Father’s Day, 2006 45)
Puff Ball Society Gone Bad 46)

Caterpillar 47)
On the Knoll 48)
Pulmonary Embolism #1 49)
Tang Quest 50)
Quote Unquote, George W. Bush 53)
Quotidienne 54)
Self Sufficiency is Worth the Work 55)
April is the Cruelest Month 56)
At the Meet, 7 February 07 57)
Korean Villanelle 58)
Wedding Poem 59)
No Coins From 1980* 60)
Korean Sonnet #1 61)
Can We Be Friends Again? 62)
Speakeasy 63)
Contradictory Korea 64)
Jung, Sae Hee 65)
Bermuda Hockey Arrives In Asia 66)
Scooter Boy 67)
Park, Jin Hee 68)
The French Defense In Gwangju 69)
Big Doug’s All-American Drive-In And Tea House 70)
See Young Park 71)
Starbucks In Gwangju 72)
Blues in A-Park Minor 73)
Death is Snow 74)
Five Haiku 75)
Words // Friday, 13 February, 2004 76)
Dock of the Bay 77)
Down By The River 78)
Easter 2007 79)
Future Shock? 80)
“I’m Walking” 81)
KFC, Falls of Neuse Rd., 22 January 2007 82)
KV, Jr. 83)
One Day Closer 84)
Single Currency Theory 85)
Upper Deck, 17 February 2007 86)
You Know… 87)
Paris Baguette Finale 88)
At the Mill 89)
Beauty Realized 90)
Zoomanity 91)
No Bees, No Honey, No Apples 92)
Armistice is only Words Away 93)

Ode to Horace Mann

Be ashamed to die until you have won
some victory for humanity. Horace Mann

Be aware that energy is life, save some for your kids.
Be afraid that our minds are bent by news not books.
Be awed by the healing power of the simple purple cone flower.
Be amazed that after four short years she knows so much.
Be awake before the bombs drop, before the money rules.
Be agile: live in a town that walks and bikes to work and play.
Be amused by ants and birds, goats and potato fields, lilacs and sycamores.
Be angry only long enough to solve the problem, then move on.
Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

~1~

One Love

Last night I left the Cutlass convertible running
In the cold outside a motel in Roanoke, Virginia.
It was a dream, so somehow the next morning
The proud red touring car was still running.
There was confusion: one car too many, one to
Give away, yet we ended up walking to the top
Of Buck Mountain. Tad, who visits my brain
Via songs, was clutching his chest, asking to walk
Slower, so we stopped. A master woodworker
Had carved stairs and banister out of Curly Maple,
Black Walnut and Oak. Tad and I, exhausted,
But happy, sat kicking pebbles, reminiscing about
Lacrosse games, various concerts and the incredible
Women we had known. Then U-2 came blaring
With their classic “One Love” and I woke up,
Quickly realizing that he managed to hug me
From heaven with a song. I scurry to the phone
To see if everyone who knew him is still OK.

~2~

Dharma

Moth eggs attached to rice in a bag.
Illusions of movement where reflections hit black.
Quartz clicks like water torture.
Veins pump half way:
Clogged by clots that are one inch away
From stopping tomorrow from becoming today.

Baby black toads hide in mulch.
Beetles eat magnolia blossoms.
Wind dries droplets formed on plush leaves.
Rain clouds hover:
Change from dark gray to black.
Erosion, the first sign of entropic attack.

Alive, tan moth flutters, a simple life,
Seeking refuge in fabric or candles by night.
All is one and one from the all:
Since, from this earth all life uncoils,
If unconnected, all life is spoiled.

~3~

Wonderment #1

Water rushes, tickling feet with sand.
Gilgamesh relaxes by the sea.
Purple Echinacea sends a cone into rain.
Chopin laughs and strokes his polonaise.
A beetle digs the desert, over oil.
Chang Sung-Up daubs a mystery in ink.

Water trickles down a granite wall.
Lao-Tsu hikes through summer’s offerings.
Yellow lilies waver in the wind.
Tasman lacquers the last board of his keel.
Crystals mingle with Icelandic ash.
Lodi licks his chops, nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Water batters barns from red to gray.
Burck paints Freda as Leipzig hums along.
Canandaigua feels the White Snake’s breath.
Handsome Lake enjoys a drive-in movie.
Sesame rice lands in a wooden bowl.
Africa snaps a twig and starts to think.

~4~

What Counts as a Life Fulfilled?

What counts as a life fulfilled?
When it takes four hours to pull your
head off the pillow, living up to ancestral
expectations is a wild dream that ends in
misery when your vision soars way beyond minor
accomplishments. Like Donald Duck, your thrusts
can be thwarted by a monk with a stick, your desire
vanquished by shutting down your entire life off
a chance meeting at a sandwich shop.

So you pull a self-proclaimed rebirth to start
the process again in an attempt to have a
career that the home-folks can cheer about.
It’s a war. Normalcy versus creativity, manic
against depressed, one woman pitted against
another, and there you stand, crying, as the
police ask with whom you intend to go. You
know your insanity led to all this, so you have
to trust others to know you are on the right path.

“I accuse you of a wasted life,” the judge
proclaims, and all you can do is cower and shrug
while humming Smokey’s “everybody plays the fool.”
It’s a greedy, needy life. The path to freedom must
be in helping others. There has to be a way, no
matter how hard, to function beyond the boundaries
imposed in a bipolar way. Get out and beat back the
temptation to quit, grab the best possible offering,
count your blessings, discard the past, and proceed.

~5~

Student Lounge, Wake Technical Community College I

Our youth-inspired, combat-ready, camouflage-attired
Australian-looking bloke wanders into the student
Lounge and promptly blows his cover be removing
His hat: bald with a touch of gray. This guy is no
Professor. He’s highlighting 80% of his science text
While cap wearing facial hairs ponder the possibilities
Of interracial romance. Three nerds admit openly
To dorkdom, as counselors stroll by, undoubtedly
Thinking about computer programming careers. A large-
Breasted girl with four inch hoop earrings and her hair
Pulled tight in a lower-east side bun, props sneakers against
A window sill to comfortably read Bateson’s pop psychology.
You’re at a round table, smiling back at a concentrating brow
Under smart braids which hang over yellow, just above note
Cards that condense the lecture that flowed from the nurse
Who got tired of double shifts over at Duke. Her pink
Sculptured nails shine against chocolate. Only six minutes
Until the next test. She checks her blue cell phone, writes
Beautiful letters on organized piles that may jog the right
Memory to pass the class here at generally slovenly Wake Tech.

~6~

Student Lounge, Wake Technical Community College II

Three cheap plastic stands offer rewarding careers in Army,
Navy or Air Force. Our volunteers are the ones
Who don’t pass enough college classes, or can’t stand it
At home, or think the pay is decent, even if lives are lost.
The chess-playing kibitzers advise each decision, as coded
Language collides in mid air. “I know that’s right,”
Drives through “he blew his own game,” as giggles of sex
Creep horizontally. She moves her foot, legs crossed, acting
As helper, and you get a glance from a bro. who is
Wondering why you sit so close to such a fine sister.
Suddenly you feel as white as the snow, when she stretches
Backward, adjusting strong shoulders. Now she is up, and
Her popularity becomes self-evident: she’s smart, carries
A pink Eastpack, smiles when she’s talked to, and sports
A tattoo. The ink is her name, just in case, in full-action,
Her lover is dumb enough to almost call out the wrong name.
But this is the 21st Century, the gap keeps widening, and he may
Be off to the next oil-grab war. So she has to ponder if this is
The time to start in on the next generation or not. Well, here
Comes the whistle, your time has come, the recruiting brochure
Takes you from class to boot camp. You can write all the letters
You want, but Shameka will find herself a new love, sucker.

~7~

Wake Up Call

Slide into this life with me for a line or two:
Songs work magic, keep me awake remembering
Carefree times when we were all stars,
When nothing could stop us, when ample
Friendships supported decisions, right or wrong.

We strode through new cities, confident
That our cause was the right cause,
That hard work could yield peace, or
Brotherhood, or higher wages, or more
Organic food, or at least higher gas mileage.

But our lives are just as hypocritical as my
Preacher’s. No way to inspire when
I can’t even find a job. No smiles
Once the alarm clock goes off and I
Realize my country is the capital of terrorism.

One only gets a free ride for so long,
Then you have to choose a path.
We trade laughs from across world
Views shaped by such wildly disparate
Experience that it’s amazing we can sit together.

You take your stand, I take mine. Only
Those early bonds keep us humored.
Just for one day, take a look at the
Struggle for life and peace and justice
That is waged against greed. Can you stand it?

~8~

We’ve Said Our Peace

We’re mollified and marginalized,
Held without Habeas Corpus,
Traveling the highways that remain
After being told we cannot fly.

You are not surprised, since Orwell
Warned us, that the opiating effect
Of Television has left us numb,
That economic struggles take precedence.

A very good friend asked me to censor
Myself for the good of a project.
That project is over, but I wonder
If I should ramble on. Are any of us free?

Bright blossoms stretch under
Loblolly pines as we
Dash from ice to 80 degrees
In war-torn North Carolina.

Larry lost his son. A career
Mailroom worker over at the I.O.G.*
What can Larry tell his friends and family?
How can we make him feel better?

Should we tell him how important
This war is? When we hug him will
He feel our rage and confusion, or can
We mask it long enough to comfort him?

Are there enough folks out there who
No longer take it for granted that
Life as we Americans know it will
Go on like this forever?

~9~

Youngsters strut in warm sunshine,
Smiling between classes; hungry
For a life that their mothers’ created,
That their fathers’ fought for:

An American life, full of pace,
Full of struggle, catching just enough
From friendships to keep reality at bay.
We’ve said our peace, but can not

Shut up now. The grand illusion
Is once again upon us: 2004 version.
Nothing changes willingly. Here’s a tear
For those who died in one more American war.

*Institute of Government, UNC- Chapel Hill

~10~

Bombs Away!

A plane that veered off over Cleveland
Still had a one-hour flight,
Before smashing into the building
That has caused the world so much fright.

The air force stood still at Andrews
It is clear they had plenty of time.
The plane hit a segment near-vacant.
Can you solve this riddle in rhyme?

Unocal wanted a pipeline
To run from the Caspian Sea.
Their man is our new Afghan envoy,
We call this diplomacy.

We’ve scrambled jets to bomb the line
Who cares about collateral death?
Our heinous command favors profits
No matter on whom we tread.

Our bombs have cleared the bedrock,
Soon oil will flow through the land.
Our soldiers will stay to protect it,
New sticker: “Free Afghanistan.”

But this place is not like Tibet,
It’s not China that we have to sway.
This time the task is much harder
We must teach ourselves to obey.

Already we’ve gone from a surplus
To $200 Billion in debt.
But somehow this stooge asks for tax cuts,
Increased defense is a sure bet.

~11~

What’s wrong with mass transportation?
Or small cars: NO MORE SUVs!?
Oh yeah, that might hurt the profits
Of Exxon, Mobil, BP!

Before the planes hit the buildings
The pilots caroused the Las Vegas Strip.
Does this seem like holy Muslims,
Or agents out to get their last kicks?

You may say I’m some type of cynic,
But our track record is clear.
If you stand in the way of our oil-men
There will be plenty to fear.

Uganda, Iraq, and Afghanistan
Know how deadly this game can be.
Economies crumble below us,
Soon, we will fight to be free.

History holds many lessons,
Those in power fall from their greed.
We are not very good Christians:
We always take more than we need.

The rich get their education,
The rest of us learn for ourselves,
That for-profit domination
Soon leads to a permanent hell.

~12~

Genocide, Slavery, Greed

We cry for the slavery that led to such wealth,
This is not just the land of the free.
We witness genocide all over this earth.
What can we do to end greed?

We cry for the land, full of modified crops
We must work to save human life.
What will our grandchildren have to live through
Since our appetite causes such strife?

The oil wars that started a decade ago
Have moved toward the Caspian Sea.
We are the dissidents, loud, without fear,
Even if we are cut at the knees.

We cry for the news they keep off TV,
The grapevine could snap any day.
Disinformation is the age we live in,
So who’s going to show us the way?

The answer is simple, we grow as a team,
A new brotherhood in the light.
We must build the village, invite all your friends,
This is no time to give up the fight!

They have all the bombs, the juntas abound,
Monsanto is spraying the poor.
We must dig our hands into arable land
Or genetics will foul every spore.

Profit mongers have sucked the earth dry,
We must reclaim all that we can.
Industrial China, the last frontier,
Soon money will own every man.

~13~

The kids on the streets are locked-down together,
Push a bike, and you could get ten years!
All this is forced because we stopped caring,
Yet some offer blood, sweat and tears.

We couldn’t stop bosses from shipping our jobs,
The replacement is for-profit jails.
Our schools are rotting, so teach if you can,
Where it counts, not Harvard or Yale.

The time is upon us, united as friends
We can make anything grow.
Come join the party, sing and dance all the day,
Tomorrow we get out the vote.

We cry for the genocide, slavery, greed
That persists after thousands of years.
It’s late, but there’s time, if we really work hard
We can stop the torrent of tears.

~14~

Corporate Suckered Us

Back when there was time, when one parent
Was always there to guide a child, schools were
Not blamed for bad behavior, partly because there
Was so much less of it. One job per house meant
Security, health insurance, a nest egg, and plenty for
Suzie to go to college on. Forget the bridge club now
Dearie, everybody works. Corporate has found a way
To thrive in the post-liberation era: reduce middle class
Pay to the point of nudging, nay forcing the Moms to work.
It’s not about reduced free time, it’s about no time left to
Even get to know our own children. Since profit is king,
The new world order is thus: No assistance if the Dad lives
With his child, No benefits to any temporary workers, No
Labor jobs that pay a living wage north of the Maquiladoras,
No wins for unions since 1980, No affordable day care
For working Moms, No federal money for states with less
Than seventy five percent of the welfare recipients working,
No job training money left after building bombs, No incentives
For employers to pay better, No company loyalty, No profit
Sharing plans, No safe pensions, No guaranteed retirement,
No Social Security, No public transportation in many
Towns, No decent schools for low-income neighborhoods,
No safeguards for the food we eat, No plan in place to
Save the environment, No cash to save the mental hospitals,
No handouts to the homeless veterans, and No jobs at all
For those who work with their hands. None, zero, zilch, zip!

~15~

Fayetteville Mall, September 5, 2002

In the shade across from the Wake County Courthouse
An entire row of folks wait. They wait anticipating
The crown-stripped Miss North Carolina, and others.
“Mary,” who carries a baseball bat, handcuffs, and
Thirty bracelets, watches as the Capital’s finest walk
The worn out bricks of Fayetteville Street Mall.
The thick stench of racism pollutes beautiful fall air.
Sympathetic eyes search for compassion as workers
Dismantle metal scaffolding, a job well done. Lily pads
Float, bald-headed briefcase toter huffs and puffs up nine
Stairs. Sturdy capitalists go by: easy targets. Unaware.
A local high princess displays her hair seriously. Orange
Outfits mix with cell phones, coffee and power lunches.
No rich people come out of the court losers, but many
Weeping wives head back to Person Street frustrated
By a system gone awry. They too are easy targets.

~16~

Hargraves Blues

No obstacles in the physical realm can stop the
Flow of fix or ruin. One bicyclist, content to move
In limited space, dodges traffic, kicks her stand
And heads in to read. She gets paid to read, not many do.

No life is long enough to support all the relationships
We build: kids to cats, Moms to cleaning, teacher-student,
Boss to worker. One walker strides down Rosemary Street,
Pulls his hat over his ears, holds palms open, seeking change.

No gesture, however insignificant, goes unseen
In a town full of women. Drivers bounce from one plan
To another, running reds. Phone calls, calendar notes and
Breakfast fill seconds between lane changes, defying death.

No effort, regardless of intention, can sew a revolution
Without mass appeal. Two men shrug, walking into shade.
Nothing for them to do but drink and smoke and go to sleep.
The truth is here to see but no one’s looking anymore.

No wind, even from Saskatchewan, can clean us now.
Some loudmouth stumbles in offering to teach, but
None will have it. A rider, bussing there and back for free,
Takes comfort when a man stands to offer her a seat.

No sandwich, ever so scrumptious, lingers past initial taste.
Sun shines on a bouncing orb. Four for four, he’s another
Wizard with his hands. He does not get paid to shoot a ball.
His hand-to-eye skills have no value in this part of the world.

~17~

Jog

The city of bouncing hair comes alive in winter
As the usual joggers, on display, pick the most
Crowded roads to work out on. Hair of every
Imaginable color flips side to side above bodies that,
To the naked eye, appear to be perfect already.
Jog on young damsels, and perhaps one day
Just the right Benz-driving law student will
Holler out his window as he flashes by. Then,
Two days later, same street, same time, he’ll return,
Dressed in gym shorts for the first time in years,
To jog in hopes of “accidentally” running into you.
Strategic jogging calls for catching you right at the
Corner of Franklin and Boundary as the light turns
Against your ability to flee. Then, in a moment
Of rapture, fully out of breath, he runs-in-place
And pops a question. “Jog here often?” To which
You smugly answer, “Not really,” which sets in motion
A blossoming crocus of late February, followed by many
Dogwood afternoons in March, the quick iris rush of April,
And magnificent magnolia May. By June, other moons.

~18~
Fly-i Flight 1597 (Barf Bag Poem #1)

Stephanie flies to Maine.
A yellow rubber bracelet says
“Live Strong.” Some concur
without knowing it; most settle
for “live comfortably,” but
New England means hard work.

Stephanie accepts a book from
A traveling poet, licks her thumb
to clean cookie crumbs attached
by spit that moves to plastic as
she shakes apple juice and ice.

Inquisitive eyes invite attention.
She speaks, smiles, wears baby
blue checked cabana pants
and beach flip-flops, anticipating
immediate holiday mode, late August.

Everyone wants to talk to schoolgirls,
college or high school. Most are
shy about it once their age doubles the
targeted prospect. But if friendship
is the agenda, it still works. Awesome.

So a one hour chat ensues
between poet and woman. She’s
well tanned, he’s bespeckled and
dazzled at the same time, always
amazed when communities spring up.

Granted, this is a one-hour
community of two, but still,
closeness and potential connection
even if just IMs once a month
is inspiring in the age of dismay.

~19~
Cultural or creative or communal
instincts allow Stephanie to smile
at a big bold blabbermouth. A book
of poems is a bold advance these
days, not the corporate point of view.

Stephanie says (thanks Lou) “you’re
nice,” then a poet hands her his email
address, she writes hers on an air
sick bag, and, presto, the community
grows. Bless you Stephanie.

Melissa, Nicole Miller, Birmingham, Michigan
(Barf Bag Poem #3)

She’s a bit sexy, with her magenta, spaghetti-strap
satin bustier for a shirt, and black, ass-fitting satin pants.
Sculpted biceps announce what must be many trips
to the gym. I wonder, does she…”? She pulls out a
lint brush to work on the matching coat, because, after
all, we’re heading to New York in the post “Sex and
the City” era. It’s a boon for us oglers, an uptick
for voyeurs. She has a Dalmatian and a baby Boxer
waiting for her at home, which must be one helluva sight
walking down west 25th Street dodging art-goers on a
crisp Thursday night. The view between seats a and b
is superb: shoulders wave briskly, hair pops precisely,
and eyelids, well glittered, look adolescent, but only
in profile, as she’s not about to make eye contact until the
right Mr. Big asks the right question in the right tone. You
can’t blame wealthy gymnasium stars for hitting the city on a
quest for orgasms. Wow, she just bit the nail of her left ring
finger while reading Nicole Miller’s hotel information. Some
poet here, more like soothsayer, she’s staying at 160 W. 25th St.
She plays with her hair, her nipple rises, she’s leaned back her chair.

~20~

Takae
(Barf Bag Poem #4)

Frowsy ne’er-do-wells, agitated tennis fans, nervous
businessmen and large-rimmed ladies angle for seats
on an overbooked flight to La Guardia. Takae enjoys art,
travels from her post in Tokyo to tour the U.S., perhaps willing
to yield to a man with strong character, but not in a hurry
to give up her homeland, her dreams, her loves, or her smile.

Sewer gas diffuses from the “innocent” stitcher who claimed
the last seat on this bird full of humans, so close, but so far
apart in the way they respond to this life. Unattainable goals
rule the minds of most yankees; gold is religion, nature is
hostage. Instincts suppressed for ten generations, supplanted
by profits then cleansed every Sunday by parochial Baptists.

It’s the time of starvation and gross atrocity, when
genocides play out due to no food, when clubs formed
at Yale control the whole world, when one country’s
debt causes collusion resulting in deaths to thousands who
have no idea why the bombs explode. Internal resistance is
labeled “insurgent,” while TVs spread lies to zombies back home.

The scuffle ends at Detroit’s Metro Airport when NWA 427 finally leaves.
Precious life fades behind us no matter our fate. Takae slumbers, maybe
dreaming of Kawabata’s “Snow Country” cherries, soft spring blossoms,
nature’s offerings plentiful, but how many see? Our stitcher, whose
art is Santa, hollowed be thy name, thy shopping comes, thy
economy hums, the slaughtered allow all these gains.

~21~

Cedar Pass

Here, where absurd harp arpeggios plucked on
baby poplars scare younger dear, and winter
exposes nests, catching squirrels mid nut-crunch,
the last brave blue chrysalis wings on frozen wind.

Contrasting grays, poo-pooed by teenage purists,
offset sturdy dark brown leaves that hang on as
December chills bones, ground, clouds, equally.
Turkey buzzards pick at road kill, while mallards

float flute melodies on ponds overfull from fall’s
monsoon. Reynard twitches as his son-in-law
scrapes pebbles back onto Cedar Pass, a dirt road
older than its name, path to beavers, opossum, raccoons:

all cold today, until, somehow, the Schwa Stradivarius,
seventeen fourteen, ambles up, played by Itzhak Perlman,
carried Asian-style by four willing Rabbis, to this place
of peace, in time for one last concert surrounded by nature.

~22~

Atlas Shrugged
(Barf Bag Poem #6)

Lotus leaves in fountain pools behind the
Metropolitan Art Museum reflect sun rays,
but not in ways Monet would understand.
Cellos ascend to bless the ears of diners
from the donor class, while those lily pads
and lotus landings resonate on levels only
guessed at by geniuses and amateurs alike.
Room after room after room after room after
room stun mere humans with the peak
moments of nearly all the masters: ancient
relics full of universal hum. Feeling visitors
tear up, once cynical multi-cultural couples
soften in amazement. The hoity-toity mingle
with Asian tourists in a surreal scene Yves
Tanguey would get a kick out of. But it’s the
quiet ripples in the pool out back, the tumbling
leaf in the now-safe park, the sad chatter
of the magnet peddler whose addiction isn’t
clear, but whose profit must be small, that fill
sensory memory to capacity.

~23~

The Syndicate

Brattleboro rattles fortissimo,
without monitors or mains.
Where did Louisa go?
It’s ’04, no score, dirty
fucking oil war, here’s the door.
It’s scream time, broken
dream time, can’t rest on the
old line — world’s gonna cry —
So the road calls to those
who care, to those who dare
to explain to the unaware,
the perils that lurk beneath
the broken skin, the needle in:
lives so twisted, bleeding
with that continual grin.
One more wise-ass remark,
one more police report,
one more pulled for “speeding”
but detained after her
Patriot Act search reveals
two seeds from the former
owner’s stash. “Good – bye
Vermont,” sorry for the short
set, still we’re alive, road
bound, grinding night into day.

~24~

Latin Declension, Late 2004: A Rock, E-Rock, Iraq

That pit in your stomach grows as tsunamis
swell, car bombs blow, candidates choke and
stick haulers slump, trying to make it home from the hills.

That hole in your heart leads to teardrops, as
yesterday’s garbage becomes today’s meal for
veterans foraging, left out in the cold.

That hunger pang gnaws, turning innards to vile
which comes gushing forth, out nose, mouth and
ass when flu bugs attack. No vaccine this year.

That debt bought by countries who lend us their
profits made by slave wages continues to grow.
Generous masters finance our greed, for now.

That bill piles on bills while food choices dwindle
in unheated kitchens made warm by true friends.
What if the money all goes away? Can you survive on

food grown by yourself? That boulder, depression,
hits square on your windshield, combustion’s
last gasp thrown off by a rock, e rock, Iraq.

~25~

Carolina Wren

This time a solitary wren perches on
power lines that divide purple-blue sky,
slicing rhombi, diamonds, thin rectangles,
pushing geometry into a regular autumn
morning. This makes you wonder how birds
keep their feet warm in countries with no
power, or how people survive on a hundred
bucks a year, or where refugees go when war
hits. Our wren flies, a speck, ever smaller
as she finds her way. Given our superior
brain capacity, how is it we cause misery
across the planet while creatures so small
live, content to take their share peacefully?

~26~

Weaver Street at 15 (March ’04)

Dark-rimmed Carrboronians use muscular
hands to lift and twirl hair in a rain-soaked
morning that leaves moms and kids bewildered.
Over organic oatmeal, Mexican scrambled eggs,
home fries and humus, conversations fly from
clear-cut developments, to eight shades of green,
to upcoming Reiki sessions. Which parts of today
will be remembered tomorrow to tell red-heads
surrounded by admirers, or lost friends waving to
your inner landscape? What about his latest bout
of ego-fusion: cacophonous mumblings accented
by the hysterical giggle of eureka-struck feminists.
Arch-backed stretching maneuvers surface to
draw your eye away from a stunning new arrival.
She gets up, snickering, as soon as the pony-tailed
Latin Studies T. A. approaches the last chair.
Outside the eating end of Weaver Street Market
our red-head now walks a young Siberian Husky.
The post-graduate table fills up, and one last
“wow” of approval wafts back amid “ciao” and
“buh-byes.” A budding socialist smiles, confident.

T.A. = Teaching Assistant.

~27~

Barf Bag Poem #9

Barbie (I swear she could be the doll)
squeezes her toes together, ankles apart, hair
pushed into a blonde pony-tail that
bounces above a denim coat with
curled up cuffs that reveal a hot
pink halter that flows over white
cabana pants cut close to her calves
that descend to her ankles that attach
pink painted toes to a body so beautiful
you ask for her name. Then the silver
toe ring snaking around her left index toe
sparks the thought that she’s engaged
to a foot fetish man. Well, wrong.
She’s a Goldsboro native, moving to
Fort Myers where her fiancé has a new
job at Nextel. Oh, she’s Leslie, a third-year
psychology major who will continue her
studies while lucky-boy pushes cell phones.
Thanks to this fate-placed goddess, in this
broadening moment, life stretched our
mid-spring encounter, but not into friendship.

~28~

Hoist Point Inlet Only
(Barf Bag Poem #12, RDU-ATL, 8/19/05)

Hoist point inlet only,
short-jointed red-heads abound,
international harmonies converge.
Julie Miller’s soft small wrist
sports a pink-green striped
watchband and tiny fingers, adept
at turning pages. Moist point
inlet oozes odiferously, becomes outlet.

Choice joint intake renders Julie’s
flow moot. Is there a man persistent
enough to get past her fascination with
father, church, uppity southerness?
Will Julie witness a naked man
reach hoist point? Can her red hairs
become hoist point, inlet only?

~29~

Barf Bag Poem #13, ATL-RSW

You can’t take your eyes off of the tapping
toes jiggling the rainbow-strapped flip-flops on the
well-tanned reader sporting the Beatles T-shirt.
Semi-silver toenails shimmy left-to-right,
in and out of her broken-in flops. This must
send pulses up her legs, past torn jeans
into deep secrets her young eyes can’t hide.

She flips pages backward, looks up to
counter-stare with poise. You don’t
waiver, hoping she will imagine potentialities
rather than the slobbering middle-aged stubble-
cut observer across from her. She moves a
raincoat away form her lap, presenting a
camel-toed crotch, Carmex lips, curly-haired head.

She’s some type of jock, reading “Chicken Soup
for the Nurses Soul,” index finger extended up the
side of her face, a regular Rodin, but he never had
a model this hot. Her biceps are tight, her pug nose
implies Latin roots, her deep eyes come from so
far back you shiver imagining what even two hours
together might bring. “Is that a good book?”

~30~

Barf Bag Poem #14

Smith’s diamonds and water,
Now proofed in reverse, splatter
onto boulders, jutting bedrock,
strewn remains of the era soon
to be known as the age of
consumption. Persistent rabbit
sniffs, paws and rejects the booty.
Even water, now spoiled by man,
no longer attracts migrations. Algae
flourishes, geese do not. One Korean
trudges up to boulder knoll, pregnant,
she stops painting, but worries what
type of earth will provide her children.
Dwindling energy means a life with
less. Once abundant wildlife has
already relearned most basic realities.
Can we adapt quickly enough? She
smiles, confident we will figure it out.

~31~

Apathy = Frito Bandito
(Barf Bag Poem #15)

It’s not just what we’ve done that’s appalling,
it’s why we did it that sickens me. Is there
a new Armageddon club? Should “wage slave
barons” be added to our legal tender? We’ve
ruined Argentina’s economy to protect J.P
Morgan and friends, sink borrowed billions into
oil wars, and snicker when it’s China’s money
paying for a war that ends up controlling their
energy! The twisted fucks at the top figure that
if the war comes here, they’ll scoot over to Europe
or New Zealand to keep up with how their home
properties are doing on the news. Which fails first,
environment or oil? If population swells will Monsanto
de-crop the third world? Is everyone trapped by the
spell of money? Where is the outrage? Where have
all the protests gone, long time passing? You never
could vote bankers out, but the green counterpunch
has not materialized and our failure may well mean
the end of the world. Drat. Blast. Damn!

~32~

Oil Droplets
(Barf Bag Poem # 17)

Since when do countries shoot to kill
for no apparent reason?
And how do liars get away
with what amounts to treason?
Since when does cheating in full view
give cheaters greater power?
And how many souls among us know
how to turn grain to flour?
Sing it Yossou, scream it Bruce,
Paint it pink, help lead the truce.
Since when is greed the proper mode,
Compassion put on hold?
Was it 1980 when all decency
was traded permanently for gold?
Medical advances: only for the few,
workers work for less out in Katmandu.
Quick, let’s move more jobs,
and float the products overseas!
Imagine what’s in store for us
as the oil droplets cease.

~33~

New Dawn
(Barf Bag Poem #18)

Have you ever seen a lifetime in her eyes?
I mean her whole story in the way she moves
even if you don’t know her name or number?
When blinding blue fades to yellow, orange, red
Are you ready to go on the town or climbing into bed?
Are you ready for the dawning of a day
when love prevails and nature rules,
or are you mired in the mud of ruts
another cog, another slave, another tool?
If the days of wonder passed you by
get off the line, get on the land, get back
to where your ancestors bled, and cry.
Cry, just this day, for those who never get
a chance to see dreams come all the way true.
Cry for those, who on your worst day, are just like you.
Then wipe your cheek and get on with it.
Make space for kids to thrive. Map a place
made of arable land, then reacquaint yourself
with those who need a hand. Together you
can eke out a life away from all the greed.

~34~

Kim
(Barf Bag Poem #19)

Kim serves six hundred drinks a day,
sometimes smiles at angles that cause
rainbows to appear, like Surat’s tiny
dots up close, but also a sharp blade
of color, brightening cross country flight.
You ink bottle the moment, but it
may never get back to her, unless, unless,
well no, this rainbow is private.

Still, don’t you wish you could be
in love with everyone? People are
the greatest fun, but, fear not, I will
be alone again tonight my dear.
The ever-expanding set of universes
accommodates all who continually jump.
Two more drinks worth of life, a dash
of grenadine, twist of lime, big smile
and another gesture of warmth. Friends
made, moments cherished. Closeness.

~35~

For James Hyuntay Stuber

Park carries Hyuntay out to the morning sun.
Deer scurry, skidding on new-flown leaves.
Our young son smiles, grasps her finger, takes
in cool November air. Cedar Pass provides
natural educational opportunities; it is hard to wait.
We want to teach the miracle of vegetables. the
fun of rabbits rolling in the yard, the mystery
of majestic herons. A natural life is a happy life.
Oh, it’s hard work: Your grandfather built the cages
over the food gardens, your grandmother held you,
kept you happy so your mom could get some sleep,
and your father changed diapers and wrote these lines,
but mostly loves you and your mom. So, if there’s ever
a time when we get off-track: if we’re watching tv,
or forgetting to paint, or making too many rules, just
remind me that nature’s way is the happy way, that hard
work is good work, that our love is forever. Thanks, Dad.

~36~

The End

Self segregation naturally evolves when less than 10 percent of the population has dark skin. A private school in the south, say Ravenscroft, founded 1854, incorporates African Americans for the purposes of athletics. Naturally, only the daring among them date uppity white girls, or pimply white boys. Any suggestion of sexual activity, even white on white, is taken way too seriously at this place, which stinks, nay rots from the drunken ghosts of plantations just now knocked down to make room for another mall. This year’s drought, 30 hurricanes, ridiculed folks songs at the coffee shop, earthquakes, tsunami, wars, unbreathable air, go straight past most Ravens, since they’re in the state playoffs, have a dandy set of cheerleaders, and celebrate victories at the taproom, parents in tow. There is only so much oil, then water, then food left for us overpopulated greed mongers, which means, if you’re not ready to huddle with family, or ready to accept the quirks of new friends, or to lay plow to earth, axe to tree, blood to protect it all, your kin won’t be the ones who see past the Mayan calendar or past Nostradamus, or 2050, if you will. If 80-in-October, flooding in New England, and scarcity in general haven’t clued you in, certainly the news won’t tip you off either. “What is it about golf and blow jobs,” the alien asks, on his way back to the Maquiladoras. “What is it about anoncephaly and gender-based dormitories with 60 beds per room?” you reply, pushing back a tear from under the mirror sunglasses and border patrol uniform. “What of a democracy, Bolivian style, if they elect Morales, the Cocoa king? How do you like Hugo Chavez style Venezuela, Mr. Bush? When, when, when-when will it all end , or how, or how soon, or, worst of all, how often?

~37~

Keep It Moving Lard-Ass

Emotions scatter like cow-chip manna
across vast rolling hills, causing an afflicted
man, too old to cause misery, too brash to
apologize, to seek comfort. A Hermit Crab
scurrying to receptions, readings, auditions, gigs
then back to the shell of family without too
much interaction. Quickly now, back to
the knoll before another set of friends reacts
in horror to the infantile state that manifests
sporadically, persistently ruining the love once known.

Domestic probation means submitting to close
scrutiny, walking under glass and nail
ultimatums that threaten to crash down
with the slightest slip into laziness, away
from responsibility or into sub-par fatherhood.
Solutions lie in gentle strokes between
happiness and stress, arching the worries over
pits of uneasy anxiety to the soft moss of security.
Still, this brain, this feeble semi-adult heart fears
any prolonged exposure can cause even angels to flee.

~38~

Flicker

Choppers, loud, descend toward lantern-lit roof,
find a technical college student studying chemistry by
flickering light, gun by his side, now pulled up, now
riddled mercilessly, body collapses. He had just spoken
about the uncertainty of life in Baghdad, had chuckled
nervously about no food, no electricity, no peace, no way
to sneak to school without risking death. His machine gun
got him killed. Not a militiaman, nor fundamentalist, nor
Baathist, nor anyone who killed, still, he was on a roof
in Baghdad. Imagine – twenty flickering years, 1986-2006:
born during the Iran War, five for Desert Storm, but strong
enough to survive radiation-coated bombs, sanctions,
befouled Tigress, Euphrates, a sewer. Dead now, just as true
love emerged, up from ashes, against customs, past pressures
of overbearing religion, only to be squelched from above: The
Creator as “Deus-Ex-Machine-Gun-Us.” Surely heaven awaits.

~39

Gushing Pineapple

Pineapples permeate party shirts, yogurt,
the sexy knobs topping four-poster beds,
and welcome mats of country inns, in Colonial
Virginia. If it were a Hawaiian word, pronounced
pin-E-apple-E, would that motivate field hands
to greater productivity? It goes back centuries:
are we better off working for others, or
for ourselves? Sure landowners lay down the
welcome mats to anyone willing to work
in trade for a place (albeit without running water)
to stay and a few greenbacks to send home.
This place, full of folks we call cubical farmers,
stressed by lack of time, have earned their
High Life, rented movie, lawn darts and twice
annual roll in the hay with the wife. Indeed,
some would claim they’ve earned more than that,
maybe a trip to Orlando with the kids (whew, there’s
a vacation from the rat-race) or a grand tour of the
in-laws, and their cousins in West Virginia, by God
if that’s not away from the rat-race, what could be?
You betcha the pineapple sign of hospitality flies
freely at my joint. See, here we got four to ten Korean
visitors at all times. Heck, they’re now proposing an English
camp with 10-15 youngsters running around learning
grammar from a poet. To this I say “YEAH!”, as the house
will actually have English spoken in it again. Pineapple
or no pineapple this is just the break I was looking for!

~40~

James Hyuntay Stuber at Three Months

Face changes weekly,
more movement,
auto-didactic Tae Kwon Do
develops into one-finger conducting
as three-month old Hyuntay
gathers personality parts.

He plays, cooing and screaming,
surrounded by nourishment,
mother, grandmother, father,
then sister, cousin, aunt
welcome him to a world
in need of his charm.

Old school already,
he scowls at bad smells,
smiles when satisfied,
answers lullabies dove-style.
Frustrated by lack of vocabulary,
Hyuntay listens to colliding languages.

He aches to crawl,
points to Oma when carried away,
sleeps in car seat, stroller, bed and crib,
but mostly cuddled, he hates to sit.
Walk him, drive him, keep him moving
or risk sour faces, cries of wanderlust.

~41~

James at Five Months

Our cabin’s cabined again. Oak whips
isolate us, the familial demands re-wall
existence, forcing forays, wild yet efficient,
toward galleries, projects, bringing dreams to life.

Uninhibited giggles, the type that emit at the
start of relationships, now clip by in college town,
from someone else’s lips. Frustration slips into
anger. Time evaporates; creativity back-burner burns.

Blessed, we scramble to keep James on his path.
He’s fun, curious, a screeching pterodactyl
or actor, practicing Tae Kwon Do on his back.
What next, cellist or farmer? Businessman or Shaman?

Pecan dreams, Persimmon mornings, Fig Fridays
replace ebbing art desires, manic music moments,
pompous poetry. Travel trumps all at times. We
move now, but prepare to settle with fruit and nuts.

Life, torn by unfulfilled potential, remains
free and glorious as daily rearranged priorities
sneak up to scare energy back into aging bones,
smoldering romance, bicycle pedals, mown grass.

~42~
Christmas 2006 (7?, 8?, 9?…)

(All Together now, in Chipmunk-esque squeals, just like
Alvin and the Chipmunks have sung it since the 60s)

Christmas comes but once a year,
soldiers bloodied, Mother’s tears,
bombs exploding in the air,
it’s Christmas everywhere!

Barons sipping booze or tea,
greed leads to frivolity,
one man’s toil is another-kids toy,
it’s Christmas in Hanoi.

Farm girls walk to city lights,
paddies shimmer by moonlight,
no one left to grow rice high,
it’s Christmas in Shanghai.

Now she sits at sewing machines,
making clothes for Wal-Mart Queens
she takes home a buck a day,
it’s Christmas in Bombay.

One hundred forty hour weeks,
raped and left no food to eat,
import maids, Sri Lanka’s poor,
it’s Christmas Singapore.

Catholic Mass in Spanish here,
Argentina has great fear
The IMF has had their say
Now who is going to pay?

~43~

Now the Dems have won their seats
still no nerve to scream “impeach,”
It seems they’re also on the take,
Which SUCKS for goodness sake!

Bush is set on World War three
claims tax cuts will set us free
Look, a tear in Laura’s eye
The Whitehouse is a sty.

Habeas Corpus is now gone
Now King George can have his fun
The law was passed here just in time
To root-out left-wing slime.

Osama thumbs his princely nose
Knowing Dad is Bush’s Bro,
The oil secured keeps China at bay
It’s Christmas all the way.

So go out and shop some more
Buy something from every store
The fascist status quo gains power
with every shopping hour.

Christmas comes but once a year,
Bloodied soldiers, Mother’s tears,
bombs exploding in the air
it’s Christmas everywhere!

Bombs exploding in the air
It’s Christmas everywhere!

~44~

Father’s Day, 2006

Fatherhood, misunderstood until my own son’s birth:
no way to calculate what a father’s love is worth.
So here’s to open air fire trucks on West Lake Road,
moving into neighborhoods where other children grow,
adding opportunities most kids never had,
battling hard and long for Douglas, Mike and Tad.
Another James now walks the land, young but full of life,
cutting teeth, learning games (sleeping with my wife!).
Once again young Bill’s a Dad, that takes lots of nerve,
Nancy’s friends stop in each day to straighten her life’s curves.
For me I wish a life for you without stress or hurry.
A life full of the same panache you had when winter flurried.
Here’s to the times you fixed the mess without rage or guilt.
We have the fortitude to improve the foundation that you built.

~45~

Puff Ball Society Gone Bad

Ear-piercing scream explodes puff-balls
still dangling from last year’s trees.
Cracked open, maybe by the ten-month old
yelps that ambulate, lasers through the air,
to chop puff-balls, send smoke and ash
to the ground, fertilize wet clay, seeds
within, sprouting next year’s saplings, all
from the bumped-head scream, indiscriminate
cry, ubiquitous babyhood realized.

Bedouins, tribesman from Islamic lands, also
howl, yelp and cry war. Mission Accomplished:
Shias fight Sunnis, Sunnis bomb Shias, both
turn their guns at our boys and girls: one hundred
attacks per day. These screams pierce amourless
Hum-Vees, dropping unspent seeds, bloodying women
all month, to the cries of foodless babies, museums pillaged,
Nazi-style. Puff-balls explode, white-light pollutes,
citizens targeted. Disgrace pervades, blackens our culture.

~46~

Caterpillar

Over fifty scraps lie scattered across from the mission
and Salvation Army in Raleigh’s Moore Square. A cop
on horseback does not pick up. A skinny man heads
west on Person, his shoulder bag is a red square around
a black square. The nautical flag for hurricanes comes to
mind, as Mrs. Miller’s fourth grade runs a Frisbee relay, ten
yards removed from the daily horrors of homelessness. Norm,
purple-shirted attendant, starts to sweep trash, dump trash,
and greet the park’s residents with a cheery “good morning.”
It’s 40 ounces, a Newport pack, toothpaste boxes, Styrofoam
cups. “It’s messier than usual today,” he gimps on his way to
another litter zone. Miller’s museum magnet kids are already
back inside when three empty school busses and an empty
trolley motor past. This reminds you of the sixty busses you saw
parked under water in New Orleans, and the white cops who
wouldn’t let black residents flee Katrina’s flood, and the traumatic
gait Norm still succumbs to while picking up trash, and the
four-year-old boy holding the bottle that feeds his baby sister, and
the sign at Denny’s offering a chance to contribute to the hurricane
fund, and the caterpillar currently crawling up your leg, needing
a friend. You remove another caterpillar, the wind gusts, and
another man in purple walks through Oak’s mud, full backpack
striding quickly, nowhere to go. Brown caterpillar returns for a
third visit. “What makes you so special?” you think, rising to leave.

~47~

On the Knoll

Goodbye helping hand, goodbye nine iron,
goodbye to the man sitting on a five gallon
bucket, begging for food. There used to be
time to give: time also left town, leaving me
with an attempt at familial monk-hood. You
know, fatherhood as countryside writer.
Goodbye to my tired modes which have been
so much more than a friend. Now time to
push for my own life, my son’s life, my wife’s
life. To have the balls to break the trap that
provided such comfort. Jumping, full blast,
into a life of less. Can this be salvation?

~48~

Pulmonary Embolism #1

Back in 95 I held my brother Tad’s hand for three weeks
as he coughed up blood from his lungs. Infarcted kidneys
threw hundred’s of clots his way, but all we could do was
touch, wait, and pray. The clots were flying out as bright red
Pollack splotches on immediately-soiled towels. Still, sitting
there with him, watching him not cry, I had no idea about the
pain until last week when a pesky microscopic clot kept right
on coming until it lodged in a capillary small enough to pinch
it off. It had been a week since my daily swim, so, while wife
and child pranced in the kiddie pool I swam a hard one. Well
a hard half. On lap sixteen I felt a twinge in my leg. No big
deal, so I pushed the last two laps, but then felt a stab in my
right lung. This was a bad cramp. Now I’m not breathing
well, slightly doubled over. OK, if it’s a cramp I can walk it
off, so it’s over to the kiddie pool to play with Hyuntay while
Mom hits the shower. Still, this pain won’t go away, but I
smile and goof around until Park emerges. Then, when
handing him up out of the pool the pain is like a dagger from
inside, poking out. Still, I figure I can walk it off, so I go for
a hot shower, dress, put on knee-high stockings, and stroll
out and tell my family “maybe it’s time to go to the hospital.”
Indeed, but it’s just like with Tad: watch, wait, pray. Pondering
mortality helps you seize the day. It doesn’t do much for those
around you. It doesn’t make you a better dishwasher, singer,
lover or poet. If determined, it makes you more involved.

~49~

Tang Quest

Red morning wind kicks
leaves over vegetable cage.
Felled white oak patiently
absorbs blade after blade.

Chunked wood magically
stacks upon self, against mud.
Sawdust darkens. Winter rain
slows work, allows love time.

Pond refills, frightened turtle
relaxes. Cool December water
welcomes geese and herons
to rolling clay-built hills.

Man and woman join; new
child cries, coos, sleeps.
Six point buck stops, observes,
moves slowly out of view.

Fog lifts, sun creeps past
logs, warms three thousand
trees, sixty moons past white
buffalo’s birth. Bonus time.

~50~
II

Colorful turkeys gather
under lit moon; feathers
diffract beams to cedars
lined, two rows; historical
trees whose dead branches
dangle predictions at pond’s
edge. Three run to flight,
circle, drop back, contrive,
spread; anticipate coming of
spring. Winter rain cuts fog.
Hilltop oaks sparkle when
wind pushes limbs through
ethereal mist sent down to
visit this New year’s Eve.

III

Hair-bellied bull
stands. Dainty tied-foot
girl spreads parasol.
Protrusion emerges from
hair; pillow placed,
dress-becomes-blanket;
fantasy or farm boy
hovers, slogs. Heavy
mud slows progress.
Results equal effort:
parasol quivers, wind
stiffens, girl rolls, wakes
inner spirit, follows
heart-made trail
to pastoral life.

~51~

IV

Respected grandfather ties
green maple branches,
nails joints, rakes
leaves onto compost,
works tools vigorously,
reads after dinner,
speaks less than one
paragraph per day.
He is bent over:
seventy-eight years
translating, teaching, gardening.
Happiness, not out of reach,
but produced by
simple living.

V

Watching ladybugs,
tuning to zen movement,
could transform one
overindulged son-in-law.
First he must learn to
separate men’s and women’s
tasks, no easy lesson
for western man.

~52~

Quote Unquote, George W. Bush

“We will succeed unless we quit.”
– George W. Bush 16 November 2006

“The only way we can lose is if we quit,”
Our leader went to Vietnam to say.
He skipped that war to golf and lounge a bit.

No jobs mean Iraqis queue to take a hit,
I wonder if historians will yeah or nay:
“The only way we can lose is if we quit.”

The lanterns up from hell are dimly lit,
Who will be the next in line to pay?
He skipped this war to golf and lounge a bit.

At us the whole world loads and throws its shit,
Jail the bums, impeach, without delay!
The only way we can win is if he quits.

Don’t stop screaming, throw conniption fits!
The black hole we’re in must somehow turn to gray,
He skipped this war to golf and lounge a bit.

As poverty encroaches, no time to sit,
Our debt already causes disarray.
“The only way we can lose is if we quit.”
He skipped this war to golf and lounge a bit.

~53~

Quotidienne

Fourteen thousand eight hundred seventy two
leaves pile in this one section of the wooded
yard. Why rake? Such good compost, but we
rake anyway, and bundle the leaves up to pile
onto kitchen scraps, in layers with clay, in order
to turn the clay into better soil to grow vegetables.

The vegetable garden is surrounded by wooden
cages built by my 78-year-old father-in-law. He
is bent over, barely walks, but spends eight-hour days
sawing, nailing, constructing, then planting, watering,
eating from the garden. His meals are at eight, noon
and six. By seven he reads. By eight asleep. Up at five.

~54~

Self Sufficiency is Worth the Work

We skip through air conditioned lives, for now.
Lindens next to ancient Oaks populate a secret
vast forest, well managed, behind our tract. The
simple goal these days is to persuade Hyuntay that
wandering around the woods is more enjoyable than
TV or video games or instant messages ever could be.
We doubt he’ll have enough willing companions, but
hope his brain avoids the 90-second warp that comes
with the idiot box, boob tube or eight thousand
repetitions of Grand Theft Auto, joystick in hand.

Hyuntay’s a four-month-old athlete. He strains
to lift his head, crawl, push Dad away when suckling.
Calisthenics include 20-minute prostrate Tae Kwon Do,
singing to classical music and deciphering fires. If
Dad can clear enough land, figure out solar power,
divert all savings to Euros or Won in time, young
Hyuntay may have a life that resembles that of his forbears.
If not, there may be no parties, no time to philosophize,
no ballgames. The confounding reality is that so many
Americans have bought into doomsday lifestyles.

~55~

April is the Cruelest Month

This is the story of gunman Cho,
his illness was a decade old.
Nikki kicked him out of class,
most who knew him called him crass.
Medicated but not committed, gun store owner
had no reason to deny requested Glock.
Cho took schizophrenic to a new low,
stigmatizing those below and above
the firing line, another American day of shock.

Insurance assures little for the mentally ill,
less for those who refuse their pills.
Already a group that’s looked at askance:
homeless veterans past their last chance,
excitable piano teachers shaking rage,
latter-day composer in her apartment-cage,
artist trapped by Vincent’s story,
paints orange and blue, then suicide.
Count Cho’s dead, so sad, so gory.

~56~

At the Meet, 7 February 07

Christian academies produce the most raucous
swimmers. Supportive of only their own, robotic
to a fault, but not as humble as you’d expect,
even in second place. Beach towels wrap shyness,
Bermudas over Speedos, extreme heated humidity
shelters this new one: cap tucked under shoulder strap.

Physical prowess trumps awkwardness only as the
laps fly by. Then, once upright, ancient instincts insert
estrogen twitters, testosterone voluntarily denied.
Taboos piled atop taboos, some from home, many
from church, few from our culture. One wonders, once
coaxed, how the conquested one-nighters of Paris
or Britney ever commit to anything but more of the
same. Inequality indulged becomes Porsche-driving
sophomores, Coach-toting freshman, designer drugs
for the ambitious Ambers, precious pedicured princesses.

You get this in North Raleigh, where untold barrels
of fuel expand, expend to enable youngsters a fulfilled
life unmarred by real economics, deprivation or war.

~57~

Korean Villanelle

Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.
So much is made of petty things each day.
Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

It does not matter if you’re frail or stout.
You do not dance alone, so learn to play.
Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

Your success may be what you’re about,
Until matters of the mind get in the way.
Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

Money should not be, but is what gives us clout.
Each day do something to help those who labor for low pay.
Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.

Cheer for your foe even when you suffer a great rout.
Karma outweighs fate, so act without delay.
Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

Unless a saint, many will see you as a lout.
Do what it takes to make your best friends stay.
Be kind in moments when the birds sing out.
Wake up to fill your senses, clear all doubt.

~58~

Wedding Poem

The feathers of the Ga Chi spread out black and white.
Beauty in contrasting colors that unite.
You are from the noble class, both divine and pure.
This means that you are obliged to help the poor.

No bond is as strong as husband is to wife.
Take your lady with you when you venture into night.
The earth is out of balance, Yang has smothered Yin.
Make your town a better place for children to live in.

We come to this world naked, ready to start play.
And naked you will be again on your wedding day.
Never lay down angry, make peace before you bed.
Surround your mate with what he needs to have a happy head.

Do not cause stress by working to make so many Won.
Why shorten life, when love was meant to last so long?
When you walk the streets, hold hands like you are teens.
Step carefully around corners, avoid moving machines.

Climb until you find the place where the water falls.
Watch wind move the leaves, hear birds’ mating calls.
Sit and laugh together when you are young, when you are old.
Ignite the fires that keep your mate both beautiful and bold.

~59~

No Coins From 1980*

Here in Gwangju, where streetwalkers and merchants
dump small heaps of trash, knowing the man
with the can will come in the morning to sweep
it up, sun breaks through stench-laden buildings
as pedestrians dodge mini-vans so small you could
fit three of them in a Hummer. Colonel Saunders and
Gustave Eiffel tower over impoverished 20-somethings
who dream of far-off lands, unable to buy even one Paris
baguette. You’ve been told by Sa Sun, the Dalai Llama
of Korean Gae Jong Buddhism, that you are not what
you do. Not a Poet, Artist, Musician, Journalist or even
English teacher. How could a population so beautiful
squelch sexuality to this extent? You ponder applying
three hundred of the prescribed 348 rules, and adding
meditation to your “crammed” routine. “Look inside to
find out who you really are,” he said. Fifty years and
still watching skirts walk, ladder-climbers work, heels
clack, and proud bike riders pedal, eking ten or twenty
bucks a day from passersby. All ages walk all day:
nothing to do, but content, squelched, not revolutionary.

*May 18, 1980: 320+ Gwangju citizens killed in
pro-democracy demonstrations, turned violent, that
actually toppled a military dictatorship and established
democracy in South Korea.

~60~

Korean Sonnet #1

Multicolored geodisic super-soft soccer ball rolls, flies
past stage-one Legos, so far never tipping Celadon
pottery so perfectly shaped in Gang Jin, where the
cranes fly, boats arrived, cliffs buffer rough waters,
long thin bay became cultural port eight dynasties ago,
now sports September festival of the past, present of
precious porcelain. Not porcelain, Celadon bakes to a
soft green, adorned traditionally with lotus petal patterns,
passed on as heirlooms, admired in off moments between
dinner parties, temple visits, Lego buildings scattered on the
floor. Adult tears, rare here, flow after enough raspberry
alcohol, seen by the round pots, heard by shapely decorative
pots, absorbed by the room, its people, this world, so easily
broken, so hard to mend, so near the end of human time,
but art continues, friendships persist, a lone crane flies.

~61~

Can We Be Friends Again?

What to do to heal this heart drowned in tears?
Occasional smiles creep in when an old Korean
man walks by in a beret, or three stop to ponder
the opening, coming soon, of a Krispy Kreme. Is
there enough work to be done to hide the utter
loneliness at home? Or, as I’ve been told, is the
whole mess my fault? Meaning I still haven’t
cured the need for constant emotional chaos.
Just now an SUV honks and drives toward a
blind man with a cane, and a wasp, shaped like a
fling fish distracts this self-important rambling.
Now it’s back to smiling construction workers
and the skirts that cause such mirth. They
troll, but deny advances, spend thousands to
beautify their bodies, only to be able to say “No”
more often. The first question a Korean man
asks a new married friend is: “are you hen-pecked?”
To this I answered: “yes,” and professor Kim laughed,
and said I would do fine in Korea then. I can
bear being the yin, but I still miss the intimacy.

~62~

Speakeasy

Some Army dude with no touch thought up
a track here at Swangdongae that’s nine holes,
twice around, two sets of greens, and occasional
tee switches. Bassoonists and cowboys line up to
“enjoy” the exercise, sandy greens, interior out-of-
bounds. Four, make it five, hours’ distraction from the
undeniable fact that Seng Min and Hyun Joo will be de
facto parentless by winter’s end. At first we both wanted
to help, then we were accused of volunteering for money,
which is the LAST reason I needed to help these two waifs.
But Park ran away from the plan of permanent caretaking
and now balks at even a six-week visit. What gives?
My love is tired. Five hours, even six, or eight of me being
away is not enough time for her to recoup lost energy.
Chuumnay watches Hyuntay, Doug is shipped out for golf,
but the complete tiredness pervades. Colds caught, ear
infections, freezing house, mosquitoes in November, beep-
beep-and-go drivers, and the growing persistence of language
barriers. Some yankee taught for years, then named his bar
“Speakeasy,” the best non-sexual double entendre in Gwangju.

~63~

Contradictory Korea

A retro-skinny, power-faced 40-something
scowls as she barely glances, moving her head
dramatically, high above the pedestrian show that
never ends. Ouzi-rap can’t beat the word-count
even when piped in many decibels above booth
chatter. Arm-in-arm the ladies walk, about two
percent pair-up heterosexually. “There are no gay
people in Korea,” she says, as we walk by the
Golden River Motel, six stories, with its pink,
Tip-down neon triangle with the word “in” within.

There’s something about ultra fat lips that take up the
width of a high-cheeked face that makes you want her
number, whether you call doesn’t matter, as the number
should be enough to jog much needed solo romance time.
Now tight camouflaged pants mix in with those famous
schoolgirl skirts. Banilla hits me in the nose, as the
goat-footed fruit salesman whistles far and wee: conjuring
Taesan temple with its noisy stream, concrete island
and Chilsun cider soda machine. Buddhism, now often a
business, yet many hermit monks remain on the mountains.

~64~

Jung, Sae Hee

Sae Hee arrives, directly from Honam. A Christian
university, where she studies piano, but her
face is fortissimo, not afraid to look at a foreigner,
not shy like a Catholic schoolgirl, not caught up
in the compulsive quest for fashion superiority that
grips most her age on these provincial, nondescript
streets of Gwangju. Offers fly sky high, but she
says all coincidence must start and stop here, at
the baguette shop: the view is always camera-worthy.
Drat, your card is not inserted, so click-a-chick is
unavailable, even though she’s willing. A minor
frustration on such a pretty day, but it jabs you,
makes you wonder, yet again, what it is you’re
supposed to be doing here. Not just Gwangju here,
but on-this-planet here. Human being means Yin
to me: caring, respectful, steward of the earth when
possible, most of all, to try make peace at home.
Cross-hairs aimed, back and forth, scream, as
language, again, forms a barrier. Sae Hee strolls
with friends, just now aware of her inner beauty.

~65~

Bermuda Hockey Arrives In Asia

Street retail, two floors of coffee, DVD shop and then
a fifth-story apartment, decked out with roof-party
essentials: satellite dish, full-metal framing, should
rain-tarp be needed, and one full floor below that
closes by 9pm. Roses and frills write a coffee story
complete with a “good restaurant” seal: puckered white
flower with pink stamen. The image-flash is to 1974, when
two girls played on the boys hockey team and showered
in the “private” coaches room. Then, one day, after she
had already peaked at the boys showering (a simple
move made possible by walking in from practice late)
Rebecca returned a type of favor. Someone, probably
Gentsch, had mooned her on one of her wobbly
walk-bys, so she disrobed discreetly, then, not
knowing who would catch it, slid her panties half
way down, and, not only mooned us (I was within a
meter) but spread cheeks, exclaiming “red eye.” Today’s
symbol of Korean culinary excellence copies precisely
the mood, astonishment and smell of her moon-back.
Old drunks in the park, hug and fall, benched for the season.

~66~

Scooter Boy

So you thought Neil’s Sedan Delivery was a good job? Not
in L.A., no, not compared to delivery here in Gwangju, where
one neighborhood pops up around every corner, and kids
play hoop ‘til midnight, safely. Delivery here pays enough
to send your kids to Europe for the summer, dream about an
American life, and get private tutoring in English and Chinese,
thus covering the past, present and future of economies based
on paper money. At 16 they already know that nicking Roman
coins caused hyperinflation that led to the Dark Ages. They
know about the German Mark circa 1923, the Yuan meltdown
thereafter, and the upcoming disaster, but, being girls, they won’t,
in Confucian Korea, take Dad’s scooter-boy job that could earn
so much. No, they’ll hold out for veterinarian and violinist,
respectively. One to tend to the food supply, the other to entertain
those who still have Won to rub together. This time he’s
actually wearing a helmet, red pizza box bouncing in back,
darting between cars, fronting mass movement, risking all to
deliver a hot pie, tip-free to a frazzled Mom at wit’s end,
looking at him with armloads of sadness. He has no time to
ponder the intricacies of her psychosomalia, he’s off, scooting
back for another round. Scooter-boy is 42 years old; he’s got
wife and two daughters at home, his family lost their farm when
they built the dam back in 1985. Ten villages dunked to make
way for electricity, electric bills, factory jobs, or lesser fates in
cities thick with air pollution, cancer, and the happiness of family.

~67~

Park, Jin Hee

She walks in brown, but stylish brown, heading downtown to
meet friends. Not Moon this morning, but the girls. The
Chosun girls, the fine line that get school paid for, that lead
the way, that take boyfriends, that liberate Gwangju the way
the bra burners lit up New York in 1967. This revolution is
less dramatic, just as heartfelt, and cleverly designed to take
advantage of men at their sexual peak. Cosmopolitan Seoul
is way ahead, due to money, foreigners, and easy access to
contraception, but the equation is the same: love + money =
fun, love + no money = family, so girl gangs and boy gangs,
professional gangs and Mafia gangs meet separately, except at
Guy-Ray-Bang, the equivalent of Karaoke, except each “singing
room” comes with a naked girl. In the motels, the “love motels,”
college boyfriends lose their virginity with their girls, but the big
cultural collision is with the rented girls. Mob + poor girl + big
money man = the one story you can never write for the Gwangju
News. Park, Jin Hee is happy. Her grades will lead to a life
fighting the effects of pollution on the human body. She didn’t
run away or giggle, she swaps digits, holds me responsible for
introducing the next phase of her life. Best: she thinks I’m 35
years old based on Hyuntay being two. Young boy, you’ve done
it again: made my life better from afar, still asleep, legs wrapped
over the head of Kwang Suk, Oma, the kind, gentle, tiger-Mom
who nourishes us.

~68~

The French Defense In Gwangju

Protest season kicks in just after the last fall festival
in November. Police walk alongside teachers protesting
that their cohorts were not fired for molesting disabled
children. Workers stare from stores or construction jobs,
and students, in four year holding tanks at Chodae, scurry,
bemused, but not worried that another blood-bath will take
place. Two chat at a café, while a 38-year-old scours the
classifieds. Not enough good jobs for Mom and Dad to both
work, so single ladies have a hard time climbing out of their
parents’ house, and those lucky students don’t realize that
Costello’s working week is more boring than a microeconomics
lecture on how to find the cheapest kimchee. Defense systems
here are complex. The standard arm-in-arm striding makes it
impossible to talk to either one without giggles, hands-on-mouths,
and the final “anyon asayo.” Secondarily it’s cell phones, but
our lady is on the offense today, calling one job, reading, calling,
reading, with a small nasal inhale and wetness in the corner of
her left eye. She adjusts glasses, holds her jean jacket collar
with pride. A creamy pastry may not be the warmth she’s
looking for, but will do. . .until the buzz of a call from her friend
“onye” brings a smile. Some Korean ska band has purely
ripped the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, but she wouldn’t know
that. Happy trombones, and now a laugh, as writer-boy pretends
to know what she’s saying, and returns his classic smile-back.

~69~

Big Doug’s All-American Drive-In And Tea House

Dried out peppers shake a type of rattle noise in wind that
drives down leaf-barren slopes, so gray after such vibrance.
A trip to the country, Mongolia on the brain, a spa that looks
like a pair of bee hives, speed bumps here, where teenagers
have already fled. They’re miles removed, tucked into Kumho
cubicles, fielding calls for Asiana Airlines now. Tonight it’s
opa, the oldest brother, perk-a-liscious wife Chumnay, daughter
Yun Jin and number one son Il. Two business associates who
looked at the Hwasoon site, eat with the star of the game, Hyuntay.
The acre is cabbage, peppers, and today some lettuce. Tea house
and studio are planned, the Deed will be in my name, allowing
in-laws to build whatever they will on it. Up against one of those
Southern-tier-of-New York hills to the east, distant Muedung
Mountain to the west, surrounded by farmers: old ladies with
rice baskets, a man beating dead plants for seeds, a hovel no
longer livable, even for a Korean farmer. If left to their own
devices (read money supply) a structure would take a decade,
thus put me at a very old age, so I sign up to finance a sizable
of the house, and Kwang Sook’s studio and tea room. These
three high school friends make the best meal ever, and if I play
along and let Park make the details, while demanded aesthetic
excellence our compound will rock. Country gentlemen times
two. We could rent out the other half to farmers, better yet,
let them crop the yard for 25% of the yield. Ggachi bird spotted,
for some an omen, for me a sure sign this is the right field to sink
Mom’s Naples condo money into. Now, number one friend has
his glasses delivered, the poem glides a lazy Susan for his perusal.

~70~

See Young Park

The Blue Coats are coming, the schoolgirls are humming,
masked hikers walking rapidly and bike delivery man has
twenty three boxes and one briefcase piled twice as high
as his cold head. Out in Mokpo Nara freezes, waiting to
cheer seniors taking university exams. She rose at 2:30 am,
sat from 3:30am to 7am just for the honor of being a cheerleader
at an exam. Under-classmen cheering exam victims? There’s
a culture shock for you, but not as funny as the two brown
miniature poodles mating. The female is leashed, the male is
circling, avoiding nips, and then, bravo, the deed is done.
Park, See Young, the barista here, buys you a sweet potato
pastry because she’s uncomfortable being tipped in any way.
Not tipped fifty cents, not tipped over, not tipsy after twenty
soju shots. Not reservoir tipped, not tip of the Korean-lady
iceberg, nor tipped about the horse to back in race number
seven. Couples giggle, looking at panties. See Young
relaxes, sipping coffee with one of the bakers. Another
waters her own entryway (is she hoping no one will bother
stepping over it, or is it another cultural signal that no more
fresh baked-goods will rise today, it being 12:47 pm)? You
don’t want to lay down with all of this, but you do want to
sit over dinner, or soju, to find out more about how beautiful
See Young’s mother must be, how Nara is doing in boy-crazed
Mokpo, how different-gendered people can be friends for life here.

~71~

Starbucks In Gwangju

Ggachi perches astride treetop persimmon, separate
branches for each claw, both so small she hardly stays
attached on another cloudless windy day. Two meter diameter
cauldron full of hot radishes: farm women stir a year’s
work, adding value via spiced barley. Pigs suck up radish
greens while men smile, knowing they’ve made it to
their annual payday. Imagine your only security being
the crops you raise. If drought, deluge, locusts, then you
wait another year before a single Won is won. Five dollar
coffee sippers look down on ordinary shoppers who look
more than buy, but remain confident their income is secure.
Bundled, old-lady bean beaters are none of their concern.
Purple scarf pops above yellow wool coat. Matching plaid
skirt and, of course, yellow converse sneakers make the post-
school day stroll ever so fashionable. Ethics exist, maybe
not economic justice, but at least polite daytime greetings and
fair play among underlings and the young. That tops downtown
U.S.A. with ease, even if giggling policemen seem unreal, here
they are, unable to explain that the Provincial Hall that saw so
much horror twenty seven years ago is now the police station.
Then comes Monica, foreign liaison, who shows you the
archeological dig that seeks bullets and other scraps from the
massacre. She doesn’t believe in ghosts, but cries with you
as the interview turns to details, blood stains still evident.

~72~

Blues in A-Park Minor

Fake, lenseless glasses add to Alexis’ allure. She wants
to make documentaries, but bartends at a speakeasy, thus
sucking second-hand smoke, listening to homesick English
teachers, fending off what must be hundreds of date proposals.
How does a girl stand out when all have black hair, small bodies
innate innocence? Sultry. That, and a desire to connect, albeit a
selective desire.

The hounds the schlep bad grammar books
Then turn to nights of booze:
They come for jobs that offer pay
With nothing left to lose.

Us crazy Yankee English profs
Do not fit in Gwangju.
So many flee before they find
A lover, false, or true.
This makes dull months unbearable
Except for this one dive.
Where Park Alexis serves the drinks
That keep our hope alive.

Aussies and Springboks hunker down
With arrogant Sabu…
But find it hard to make close friends,
And there’s naught to do!
So when you’re piped and slippered,
Remember Dougie Blue
Who sits at the bar and stares at Park
In the slums of old Gwangju.

~73~

Death is Snow

Death is upon her. Death is persistent. Death be not
proud. Death is a series of twitches, days worth.
Death is snow. Death moans and screams. Death
is not easy, death is not random, death is not timid,
death runs on time; death hangs in the air, then
dives from on high, but not always that quick in the
suffering phase. Death is Catholic. Death is not
pretty. Death is white. Death is ginger ale, death
is dehydration, death is omniscient. Death leaves
bills to pay; death does not smile or frown. Death
is a whisper. Death comes fast for those in a hurry.
Death waits at the doorstep, greeting old friends.
Death reunites, tears asunder, acts as the final good-bye.
Death motivates. Death inspires. Death has its own terms.

~74~

autumn winds descend
storm wreckage sweeps down mountains
gentle Takae walks

Wet white waivers, falls.
Soaked oak looms over dogwood
Contrast changes all.

Eternal flowers:
Lilypads where creek meets lake.
Swim past sacred site.

Last breath coming soon.
Ears pop, legs explode in pain,
No one near to care.

Skipping stones sink soon.
Water lures another home.
Bravery denied.

~75~

Words

Words succumb, now a vital tool of the right.
The appropriation was immediate and complete.
The guardians of left wing philosophy took a day
off, and Zinn and Chomsky excepted, watched,
as words jumped ship. Now piped into the head
of the masses in ways too numerous to squeeze
into even the breadth of a poem.

Friday, 13 February, 2004

We anoint harsh stories:
Vincent’s ear
Abel’s torment
Indira’s rage
Bash Bish’s leap
Shakespeare’s dagger
Michael Jackson.

Entropy creeps, waves good-bye:
Colors to gray
Soup to blood
Luxury poverty
Love alone
Words to silence
Comfort to horror.

~76~

Dock of the Bay

Canyons, no crevices, dig into sand mountains, making
long labia out of the land. Lopsided cactus waves
windblown goodbye, as desert gives way to the old
‘Frisco Bay. Cousins connect, but only by phone,
walking different directions from the Embarcadero.
Presidio golfers roll out of bounds in a city whose
boundaries are poorly defined. Let’s face it, the Sea
Lions at Pier 31 are penned in like zoo animals, thus
helping Fisherman’s Wharf in its final transformation
from working docks to Disneyesque mall. Still, strained
necks, a yard wide yelp a horny call from floating docks
packed tight. Lounging, sunbathing, slick mammals
lead the good life, gulping scraps, swimming cool
water, photographed continuously in the day hours.
They’ve become repressed in recent years, perhaps tired
of having sex in public. The streetcar named “F” jerks
up Market to Castro. More locals ride than tourists in
November, but we caught a warm sunny day full of
carousel rides, Boudin’s sour bread, and a bargain from
a Korean shop owner. Street beggars are more compact
here than in L.A.: also more direct. There’s always a
scam about the environment or abused children down in
L.A., but here his sign reads, “I’ll be honest, I need a beer.”

~77~

Down By The River

Black juice squirts and spills, dirties your day-old shirt
in time to impress the bag-boy at the “Korea Town Galleria,”
which is kind of like a flea market plus basement grocery
store located in the heart of neighborhood number four.
Number one being Watts, number two is Compton, three
is East LA, and then Koreaville, just south or north of
Wilshire, but miles apart, with bullet proof cages in liquor
stores, security guards in lots already valet attended, and
a weird mix of fleeing Koreans, homeless Caucasians, slow
moving Mexicans, and scary impoverished wide-eyed
urbanites. So many trade blooming persimmons, the comfort
of sameness, and bad air for this: wilting Oleanders, racial
inequality, and the same traffic jam, same air, same struggle
to pay high rent, but now in neighborhoods you wouldn’t
walk around in day or night. Open lots as garbage dumps,
freeway madness, and the unobliged rich cordoned off
in Bel Air. Let’s say, for giggles, some do give a hoot,
they then gather their friends and pass turkeys to appreciative
but suspicious arms on Thanksgiving. Great, but that leaves
a lot of days left, and since government is not in the business
of helping anyone but business, who will clean up the lots,
make jobs that pay well, create block parties where the four
main sub-groups actually enjoy commingling? Sandy Sierras
poke pyramids up from desert dunes strolled by the ghosts of
Bukowski, Zappa and Steinbeck. Neil Young hangs on, but
once he is gone, the entire hope that flickered when Vietnam
ended will have been dashed. If you’re not sad yet, wait ’til
the market crashes and the chaos begins down by the river.

~78~

Easter 2007

Fortunate to live in abundance, blessed, but obsessed,
the hard-working American gobbles energy, changes hair
color, piles on debt, to live the life prescribed by television.
Jesus rose for this? Carl Rove sends eight-page sermons
to Baptist, Fundamentalist and other rural denominations
whose preachers rarely resist, and charge on, Christian
soldiers, pushing the moral majority, which is neither, but
knows how to win elections: limit impoverished voting
while accusing Dems of voting twice, pollute the airwaves
with scare tactics, some racial, some terrorist, all meant to
be “tough on crime,” which is to say working for the haves,
not the have nots. 1980, the turning point, at which all
American promise was raided by greed-soaked pirates,
who moved our middle class overseas, selling out for
personal gain, while creating pollution zones, anencephaly,
and a permanent foreign and domestic under-class never
able to afford what they’re building. Jesus rose for this?
It’s just as bad that Muslims have been hoodwinked, but if
we don’t start preaching a gospel of brotherhood, acceptance,
and helping those who need help, our fate will be miserable.

~79~

Future Shock?

He bows, nods, and points to hawks gliding.
Wide-eyed, 14-month-old gusto, untainted by experience
and foreboding forecasts about ice-cap or economic
melt down, happily engages in self-feeding, floor hockey
and fire watching. This latitude should provide food,
extra rain, and room for friends in the post-American
world, barring local war. As a parent, I’m torn: do I
teach activism or farming? Accounting or self reliance?
The glory of the moment is the way a back-spun Frisbee
wavers before settling on oak. Sometimes flipped quarters
vibrate to a rest, but not the way a Frisbee does. So each
morning, after he pulls me out of reading, little James
hands me an inflated bat we use for hockey, or the
fluorescent green Frisbee he wants me to spin. He speaks
volumes in a language trapped between Korean and English,
And no matter how I respond, we’re off to the next adventure.
It’s a crying shame that so many parents get so little time
with their children. Heck, the economics of suburban life
keep getting harder, meaning less goofing-around time.
Caucasians have been in ascension for thousands of years,
with few interruptions. What will James face as deserts grow,
ice slips into the sea, and Asians, through good old hard work,
take charge? If he’s lucky, his Korean heritage will help keep
him motivated, while the ability to grow his own food serves
as a back-up, just in case all the prognosticators have it right.

~80~

“I’m Walking”

She heads down gravel lane, walking ancient Cedar Pass.
Nature’s flow soothes demands that threaten simple plans.
Tugged by generations, daily walk like skipping class.

Geographic interventions: surrender into foreign hands,
but culture is not the biggest challenge that she has:
It’s my moody mornings and countless creative clans.

So once our 18-month-old slows down too fast,
or once he falls asleep by music stands,
she sneaks out to the studio to paint or teach a class.

In the morning we bow and press our hands.
Buddhist gong sounds through a machine, not mass,
but a reverent moment broken by clanging pans.

He likes to play in cupboards, pull tea or frozen bass
onto the floor, onto his feet, surprise! He learns to carry cans
without incident. We can’t wait until he wipes his ass!

~81~

KFC, Falls of Neuse Rd., 22 January 2007

When a sub-culture dies, the world gets dragged,
Toes pointed up, and appropriately tagged.
You battle to work your way up the scale
But now it’s three bucks for a pint of ale.
Blue collar means work at the new KFC,
Good jobs, and vacation days moved overseas.
You can play gangster but you know it’s no game,
Or you can throw down to attain fleeting fame.
You can educate your way out of this mess,
But cubicle jobs only go to the blessed.
Blessed to be white in a world full of color,
Blessed not to know what it’s like to live under
The rules meted out and enforced by the law:
So do you tell them what you just saw?
Or are you inclined to let it slide,
While children cower, their Dad’s full of pride,
But most likely part of those already jailed,
The cross is salvation, but who’s next to be nailed?

~82~

KV, Jr.

The world’s a lesser place today,
my friend Kurt has passed away.
He wrote of one-foot pubic hairs,
monkey house, foma, atomic glares.
Each time a deer comes through our yard
I see one fenced in Kurt’s canard.
One May at Hobart’s graduation
he told parents, in his estimation
they had wasted their hard-earned dough
by allowing their spoiled children to go
to a school more like a holding tank
where beavers opened and drunkards drank.
He did not expect to be invited back,
but the cap-robed kids had laugh attacks.
With Kurt and Molly Ivins gone,
who’s left to light up things gone wrong?
Who will publish, who will read
the next attack on corporate greed?
Who will stand, sing and holler
about the way they spend tax dollars?
Bokononism lights a fire in sand,
foot to foot, hand in hand,
after Ice-Nine depletes the earth
of all its water, little mirth,
except to sit and masturbate,
everyone dead from one mistake.
The marines were tired of getting wet,
Time to re-read Vonnegut.

~83~

One Day Closer

Spring swirls disaster. Seven years and out. School
shelters in direct line, flags stretched on arced halyards
as hard-working, low-income neighborhoods, sent asunder
years ago lie: rotting wood, flipped trailers, sunken bridges
rust. Years hence, drunken revelers will enjoy gated condos
looming Disney-style, where once having no money was the
norm, where community and concern towered over racism,
where a funeral march caused pause and celebration, the
grateful dead, in that number, while visitors, nursing
hangovers may or may not have felt the twinge of privilege
versus poverty. Why is it the rural districts, the urban poor
and the trailer parks always get hit, while the pyramid-topped
monuments to greed survive? (God’s grace, that’s why.) One
more chance to come together for the common good. One
more opportunity to live up to the simple Christian ideals set
forth. Here we have the easiest religion to comply with, and
still, money-power runs roughshod: latter day slavery,
closed-door, sentry guarded mansions: apocalypse now.

~84~

Single Currency Theory

The racial flow, still imperfect, puts most on edge here
in L.A. Jews and Gentiles huddle in “richville,” but
Bloomingdales and Macy’s crowd with a four-way mix
of Koreans, rap stars, Spanish speakers and stressed out
white folks who either don’t have the nerve to be kind
to strangers, or shop the big tickets, knowing collapse is
one trade-day away (but which day?). The economic divide
could collide if rich turn poor, grocery trucks hijacked
and guns replace compassion in the latter-day depression.
So sing while you can, scare viewers into the tip jar of
street performers who remind you that by break-dancing
they are not robbing your home. Come crash time the wine
sippers will hustle dollars too, but how? Food delivery is
my guess. Safe, clean food delivered to your gated palace
in a time when even growing food may require armed guards
should be a valuable service for those with money to spare.
If there were only a benevolent group that could be trusted to
switch us to a one-currency world with one minimum wage,
say twelve bucks and hour, and a Chavez style reprioritization
of both crops and housing. If implemented, this might prevent
the crash of 2015. Gulls dance on garbage heaps. Open lots
in East Los Angeles harbor rats and desperados, scream a
warning no one hears. Look, there’s a rotting book: “Canary
Row,” now sporting touristas unprepared for upcoming disaster.

~85~

Upper Deck, 17 February 2007

Something about a 30-year-old blonde waitress
sporting pig-tails, loop earrings, and hanging out
after her shift is over. Mick’s far away eyes zoom
in, penetrate any man strong enough to make a play.
Rochester ramblings yield to thumb rings, cigarette
packing, and lean-in kisses: the Upper Deck
twists and lurches toward winter’s eve. Two thirds
of the inhabitants are in on the action. It revolves
around solid butt smacks, who’s-with-who versus
who’s gonna get sucked in. Darts and suds, it’s a
sports bra, leave your rings at the door, musicians
mingle with choppers type of place. It’s a bastion,
a regular oasis in the midst of Disney-carved Cary:
“Containment Area for Relocated Yankees” and
sure enough, the barkeep is a former executive chef
who escaped Kodak, Scottsville and six month snows
to open a pool-infested, smoke dominated, rock blaring
leather cultured hang out. Old school in the middle of
a North Carolina new school town. Yup, it’s full of
your colorblind, hold’em-playing, hoops fans, and the
men who tag along with them. Amazing they’re not
playing cribbage at the bar, or euchre at the tables.
Nah, that’d be too yankee. Dang smart of this guy
Ted to open a place of automatic reunions built on
place, another place, a place where people can still
meet up, unwind and let loose other than church.

~86~

You Know…

You know your child is smartening up
when he starts to squirm at the smell of a
doctor’s office. You know science is
right when it’s sweltering with no rain,
a triple drought, but the developments continue.
You know the leaders are wrong when one
giant war creeps at us with hundreds of
thousands of families against us forever.
You know the cocoon of innocence no longer
cradles most children when food wars
break out in Africa. You know that the
widest love still lacks the power to spread
resources equally. You know how lucky
you are to be at the top of the economic heap.
You know there is much to do to change the
system, but wonder how to do more than change
your immediate surroundings. You know that
hard work by a small number of dedicated
people can make things better. You know you
are now part of this change, whether recorded
or not, painted or not, written or not. You know
life is too short to waste time. You know how
to squeeze everything out of this, produce a
winning recipe and feed your friends. You know
life pulls you to the corners of the earth, but each
new set brings opportunity to share and progress.

~87~

Paris Baguette Finale

A retro-skinny, power-faced 40-something
scowls as she barely glances, moving her head
dramatically, high above the pedestrian show that
never ends. Oozy-rap can’t beat the word count,
even when piped many decibels above the booth
chatter. Arm-in-arm the ladies walk, about two
percent stroll paired-up heterosexually. “There are
no gay people in Korea,” she says, as we walk past
the Golden River Motel, six stories, adorned by pink
tip-down neon triangle trapping the word “in.”
There’s something about ultra fat lips that take up the
full width of a high-cheeked face that make you
want her number, whether you call doesn’t matter,
as the number would be enough to jog solo romance
time. Now camouflaged pants, tight, mix in with
those famous schoolgirl skirts. Banilla hits me in the
nose, as the goat-footed salesman whistles far and wee,
conjuring Taesan temple with its noisy stream, concrete
island, and Chilsun Cider soda machine. You occupy
the same space in Korea: an energy using contraption
full of contemporary issues, wildly out of place.

~88~

At the Mill

Soft Shenandoah shelters misfits and malcontents,
nurtures sheep with large genitals, photographer’s family,
hay-hoisting horse owners, trick-turning truck stoppers,
inventive harvesters, Steeles Tavern sewers, bountiful beauty.

Naturally, writers abound surrounded by such: one wins
five grand at the pharmacy, takes leave of the women
long enough to type her new voice, a beacon who
fortifies fellow polygamists with purple-winked ink.

Fur-clad apparition returns, disrupts midday bushwhack
with its presence, historical, ominous, predictor of days
you can’t bear to ponder. Satiated, you grab her hand
for emotional balance, slipping down moss-laden rocks, afraid.

Grinder-switch melodies follow tight patterns until, fed
by grain, new grist emerges. Wind spirit magnifies terror;
your steps quicken, but you think of three others: photographer,
writer, compost collector: a post coital spook, still yearning.

~89~

Beauty Realized

Aspiring long-trunked Lindens
send leaf seeds spiraling
into Highland Park. The Peace Wave
dances, sings, paints, plays and eats.
A fully trimmed church social
for progressives, pot heads and artists.
Activists all.

Five women in pajamas dance
fertility, entrance patchouli-laden
jaw-dropped gawkers as their
seductive gyrations glaze
the eyes of men and women alike.
Loins slither, mingle, fling
jubilant torsos across the full stage.

Red scarves tie waists together
in a sweet maypole offering
officiated by throngs of soft naturalists.
Star city of the South nurtures
self-made lives, little cash flow
but long on love. One family fills
buckets with magnolia pods: art objects.

~90~

Zoomanity

Specks of cherry blossoms remain, six months after, crunched
to microscopic, yet able to detect the soft November feet of
knee-booted beauties. Washington’s engorged monument is
Korean, six inches, but proud, laying-in to boot-skirt on the mall.
Blushing blossoms accept the thumping as better than souls,
more aesthetic than the spiked dens that welcome the kinky
Dupont Circle crowd, you know, congressmen on the town with
their page boys. We’re now “all -in,” bushwhacked into this
winner-take-all culture with few winners, proud sinners, all-meat
dinners. Unshaved Hispanics growl when the dealer hits two
black jacks in a row. Cactus stand, not waving in the wind that
tumbles weeds over mountains, that then ignite to torch homes
of the “richies” who once had it made. Malibu, New Orleans,
Florida in general: is there a pattern here? Gaia, perhaps our
only god, has good aim, giving the haves ample opportunity to
atone: few do. Perpetual human error peaks again now, as
Christians preach morality, their U.S. leader tortures, slaughters,
greedily spilling blood for oil, trading tomorrow for carbon-filled
today, while children and nincompoops watch, jaws agape, because
they didn’t see it coming. By nineteen-eighty-three it was evident,
but still, twenty years into the fall, the one-two combo of religious
propaganda and twisted “news” helped smooth over electoral fraud
in time to put the slow crank on World War Three. Skip forward
to November, back-peddle to the leaf pile, where larger color
combinations lure Alexis and her playmate into unbridled bare-
backed adventures. Cool air slows his sweat, but not before a drop
jumps his nose. She thrusts to lick it out of the air, which is just
the angle adjustment he needs to finish the act. Show this to the
wonks, well-walled on cubicle row sixty-seven, and BASHA! your
job is over. It’s that easy to escape the grind, but near impossible
to be your own cowboy and feed the kids. This is when corporate
can be your friend: just throw out all convictions, trade values
for value-added do-dads that increase profits and productivity
simultaneously and do not stress the details. No one minds if you
are loading atomic weapons, making attack ads, fucking your
“niece,” as long as the leaves rustle gently, lips quiver repeatedly,
and voyeur neighbors get a hot glance, on an Indian Summers’ eve.

~91~

No Bees, No Honey, No Apples

A wagon wheel of discontent
hangs from the rafters above
a stark white room where people swoon,
but rarely fall in love.

A drenching rain flows past dead grass
on land scorched from global heat.
A Heron chick wades in a pond
no deeper than her feet.

A farmer trims the pond-edge growth,
but gets his tractor stuck in mud.
Neighbors store great gobs of art
that once hit Berlin with a thud.

A liar squawks from a studio box
at W-A-M-U.
Diane responds, in quivering voice,
“How can you say that Stu?!?”

A multitude swarms the streets
many without regret:
economics, home to roost,
in the land of war and debt.

A singer sings, arms hiding breasts,
but otherwise she’s bare.
Selling sex far easier than
selling songs that dare.

A worker trapped by bills and mate
has nothing but beer and tv.
Wagon wheel turns as Iraqis cry out,
heartbroken refugees.

~92~

Armistice is only Words Away

Red and yellow leaves smash above remaining green
On brittle trees stressed by drought.
The fall crop grows together from fear.
War ruins the party here, starving refugees move out.

Warm sun parches grass to dust in Chapel Hill.
Light kills. News disrupts gentle walks.
Two thousand one claims close lives, no way to hide
The reign death’s image starts with superficial talk.

Peaceful winds entice lovers bent on keeping war at bay.
Rice is blown to bits, extreme starvation, war means war.
The dissidents’ Gulag hut awaits activist Americans,
And “your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.” 1

Three deer caught in lights that look like monster’s eyes.
Nature, fraught with tarmac, endures another “bombs away.”
Scream , young angst poets. Wipe the cynical smirk off and scream!
One life to infect your neighborhood. One chance only: today.

1- John Prine, 1969.

~93~

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