Rants and Raves, in English, Self Published, 2004

Rants

&

Raves

J. Douglas Stuber

dougstuber@gmail.com

Copyright, 2004 J. Douglas Stuber

                  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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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 so slowly.  Easy targets.

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.

 

 

Stone Mountain N.C., 2002

 

The old Hutchinson homestead, all redone for tourists,

Spreads out in front of Stone Mountain.  This summer

Saturday finds John McCreary spinning tales to patient ears

“There were eight children in my mother’s generation, and

Eight in the generation before that.  All made it to adulthood

Without a doctor.”  His 40-year-old son, two brothers and

A grandson pull up in a Jaguar sedan, sweaty, after a round

Of golf.  “Any Sunday wine around John?” one asks, and

They all get a chuckle, while I pull away, embarrassed.

We hike the rock, quite steep at times,

That has taken many lives.  We duck

Rhododendron branches along a mossy-rock

Creek.  We seek and find cool water where the

Orchards rot, unpicked.  We watch hawks

Circle next to cliffs, away from modern times.

          Twice a year the cart had been hitched to make

A trek to town.  Each day was full of heavy chores

That pulled a living from the earth.  That type of

Work has been replaced by geographic serendipity.

One cashed check made sure the hikers now have chance

To see how mountain families once made their way.

 

 

 

Freshman Ahoy!

 

Kim arrives from high school in Texas . Curls dangle

Over a tied top and the exact blue double-knit pants

That show the shape she wants.  Most are too small

Or two skinny here, and that means it is bound to

Feed on itself until, ten years hence, our women

May become unappetizing.  Still, the go-go glasses

Are dark framed hipster ovals that draw you in.

Weight or no weight, nose or no nose, smile or

No smile.  Then he speaks, “when I’m

In a relationship I am much more masculine.

We have four men in our house, and I haven’t

Had sex with any of them, but there are

Never any women at the house so we have

To express both sides.  We’re more I touch

With our feminine side.” Kim elbows he friend

As she moves in on this guy, who is explaining

So much.  “But is this the truth?  Or are you just

Saying this as part of our conversation?”  Which

Proves that we are in a college town. Then Kim

Utters flirts, and flings herself at him.  Go Heels.

 

   Major Tony Nelson

 

Tony took off, just like ed, before he

Had a chance to say good-bye.  Ed’s

Back in Roanoke;  Tony’s looking for a

Place to stay, a place to be at peace.

 

Tony helped us move this week.  He’s

A hard worker.  Still, tough to hang on to

Jobs when the competition is so fierce.

People shoot to get dishwashing jobs.  Few

Urban jobs pay a living wage.  Especially

If you don’t count living with rats as living.

 

Tony needs a piece of cake today, maybe

A blunt tomorrow.  Burned curbs close

In on parochial paranoia.  Narrow steps

Keep squeezing.  Tony needs a hand.  He’s

A hard worker.  They took his keys and

Kept his belongings.  Tony’s a hard worker.

 

 

Atlanta

 

Buckhead offers twelve-dollar sandwiches,

Parents lunching their children on Saturday:

Straight from Beemer to deli to Emory to evening

Wedding to Benz to kids at lunch on Peachtree.

 

North Peachtree, where you can’t quite see the smog

Thanks to trees and art and tacky bars.  Southern

Culture on the skids, but not outside this deli, where

Leaves tumble with Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda cans.

 

All I can think of is you:  hamburgers and organic

Bananas, juices, never soda, and a complete

Satisfaction.  Money doesn’t earn these deli-dippers

The satisfaction you have.  Inner peace even.

 

You cook after volunteering, after the kids are

Down for the night.  You go there and back then home

To ride your bike to work.  Teach me how to calm

Myself won’t you?  One point at five points:

 

There is no chemistry to teach the zen you have.

Perfect weather makes yellow leaves stand out.

Small winds coerce more travel.  Sharp shadows

Waver.  One beacon lures me home to paint autumn.

 

 

 

Corkscrew Swamp

 

Blue Heron walks on Lettuce Lake.

Lily pads support light birds long enough

For them to bill crawdads.  Appetizing

Photograph:  Squirming crustacean crunched.

 

Boards, cleverly cut, fan out around corners

That bring new cypress vistas into view.

One tree grows around another, wet but

Not waterlogged.  Raccoon poop, which has

 

Red dots throughout, brightens the walk

As rain clouds defy winter and roll

Through desolate Florida.  Where are all

These cars going?  Immokolee?   Must be

 

A growing town to support such traffic.

Back at the swamp a frog succumbs to a

Banded owl.  Anhingas stretch wet wings.

White flowers waver, waiting to be painted.

 

 

Last Night in Rochester

 

Rolling Stones 1-4-5 through well-hung speakers

At the Rose & Crown.  William no longer haunts

The thin aisle behind the bar.  There are nights,

Oh there are nights.  BrowneDog as a

Walt-Doug-Mike trio:  beers.  Many beers

And many happy drunken songs they cheered to.

 

Six long-toothed chrome handles jar to reveal

Refrigerated wine, and occasional beers for those

Rude enough to eschew pint-sized draughts.

Now Iggy Pop, then, a sputtering Greek-vacationing

Green card candidate.  The new waitress stretches

Which changes the angle on her heaving breasts.

 

Sickly sweet cigar smoke wafts olfactorily:

Then cool air radiates off a fresh skirt,

Through the crowded bar, to push at you.

Is it the hands or face that hold it?  Maybe it

Takes a certain perfume.  This bird smells good.

 

The special tonight, like every night, is Foster’s,

But isn’t it great the way breasts, in profile

Stick proud nipples right at you?  Now Gina

Arrives with a guy I haven’t seen named Mingo.

I sit on a beaten stool, attempting smiles,

Waiting for a ride from town to Dianne’s suburb.

 

You know how it feels to be leaving

Your home town and sitting in a now-strange

Bar?  How many times has the world

Evolved while you sat quaffing a pint?

Just when will it turn your way?  Or if it

Has already turned, will you notice in time?

 

Someone throwing darts hits a low C, and

Carlos, the young man who stands in

William’s stead, draws a Whitbread that

Rounds out your tour of British Pub Pints.

Still, the people you’ve come to meet will not

Attend. A skirt offers one last sniff, quaff, laugh.

 

 

Lavender Tear

 

See if this rings a bell:

The exact feeling you have to express

Before your father dies is the one thing

The two of you never approach, so you

Go about your latest woes, or his

Beating cancer, but you can’t ever say

How amazing it is that he put up with

So much for so long without raising

A peep.

 

Or how about this one:

Ten or twelve years into a better-than-

Average love affair you finally decide

Things couldn’t be better, just in time to

Find out you don’t have the balls to

Complete the function by raising some

Children. You lose her over this, and

Waste months, not sure anyone else

Will listen.

 

You’re not sure they’ll listen to the loud

Colors smacking onto canvas, or to

Bass rumblings, or some dashed-off line.

 

But this is a dream, and your day’s night

Blends, due to insomnia. Einstein and

Zevon never slept.  Broken hearts mend.

 

Jesus is a Liberal

 

Jesus Christ would not be proud

To see religion in this state.  (Virginia that is.)

TV evangelists preach a canon of intolerance.

Jesus never expected people to hate in his name.

 

Building amusement parks in homage to God

Makes as much sense as waging war for Christ.

A god who attracts such diverse attentions

Is not a nice god or even a holy god.

 

He must be the god of money, or,

The god of land acquisition, or, perhaps

Even the god of death.  Now that should

Set bells ringing in your bible-belt ears.

 

The god of death destroys life and love,

The god of death is worshipped in Lynchburg.

 

 

Badlands

 

One bumpy flight over the impeachment state

And before you know it, you’re sucking oranges,

Your friends freeze, your mail piles, your art rusts.

 

This is the year that should decide the fate

Of the world we created in the media age.

Now we know it’s better not to know.

 

Since everything is news, what atrocity can cause

Us to care?  Fewer left to resist the force-feeding

Means corporate controls the entire show.

 

Can computers outrun the mind police?

 

 

Baltimore,

 

Healthy again, springs new bricks.

Damp December finds elbow-patched

Yarmulke-wearing doctors running from

Paca to Greene Street.  Gulls and sparrows

Spin, weighted by rain.  A cane

 

Taps the ground in front of your left

Foot.  Silent Camden reminds me

You saw the O’s in ’94.  Ruben left

For San Diego, but Waters laps it up,

 

Records moving postcards, driving

Most locals batty, while family landmarks,

Those spinning plastic windmills, spin.

Blue flamingoes, pencil-thin mustache style,

 

Dot the row-houses behind

Three-foot chicken-wire fences.

Three photographs reflect orange

Snow fences.  No snow yet this

Year.  Warm December lights flicker.

 

 

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!

 

 

Gatekeeper’s Lament

 

Here comes Felix, interrupting the class, walking

Straight past me to use the bathroom.  He knows I’ve

Been trying to get him to come to class, but he just says

“Not now” on his way out of the Community Center.  We

Teach adult learners how to pass the GED.  High School

Takes four years, and it can take that long before these

Students will catch up and pass the tests. It’s not an easy set

Of tests, as most of our volunteer tutors barely pass it. If

Suburbanites took a standardized test about the life skills

Needed to survive as an Aborigine in the outback, presumably,

They’d fail. Is it a fair gate that slams shut on an individual’s

Ability to secure a good job, if based on his or her being able to

Distinguish a phrase as coming from Dickens or Austen?

Of course not, but there has to be some means of keeping

The good jobs safe for the right kids, otherwise they might

Have to work next to folks who don’t even know how to

Play golf, don’t give a rat’s ass about snowboarding, and/or

Harbor a distrust of the establishment.  We’re not even going

To let little Suzie Creamcheese go to a college that harbors

Pinko professors, so there’s no way we’re about to let some

Ne’er-do-well from public housing work next to her at the

Mall before she graduates to take her job bossing Daddy’s

Employees around; who, after all, probably don’t even know

Who Dave Matthews is, and will never drive a Beemer anyway.

 

 

Genesee Beer

 

I’ll take a cold Genny please.

The congruence of mud and snow

No longer inspires.  Hell, it no longer

Happens, as the blast of green heat

Pumps summer into snow drifts,

Causing yet another drought.  Drought

On the eastern edge of the Great Lakes?

What next, Cobbs Hill orgies?

 

I’ll take a warm Genny please.

You know, the kind that causes

Flatulence.  The salty home-brew

That sweats its way past bad neighbors,

Also delivers skunk-like ammunition.

You could fall off the earth here and

No one would know except for the

Smell that dying brings.  Yup, they’d say,

He’s a Rochestarian, dig those Genny fumes.

 

I’ll take a hot Genny please.

Red hair, burning desire, and eyes,

Even though tearing up from the gasses,

That still sparkle with enthusiasm.

Do food prices matter?  Are half

The bright prospects wilting, or already

Dead?  Capitalize on this:  the salt that

Oozes from Genny’s sweaty lips can still take

You away from the thought of earth, so

Toxic now, that the Genesee doesn’t even

Count as dirty.  Go ahead and taste her!

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Naples ’98

 

Enough walking has been done, enough low-flying

Birds, enough sunny hours pass to qualify this as a vacation.

When existence is your job, how do you take a vacation?

It’s bright, and you’ve forgotten your shades.

You can barely open your eyes to spot the beauties

Bending to pick shells, small shells, off pure white sand.

 

Young pelicans skim over innocent fish while modest

Teens, with towels around bikini bottoms pick routes

That allow six-inch waves to lap against  their feet.  The

Gulf of Mexico is a sheet of glass, darker as it melts

Into the horizon:  Yucatan is a long swim away.

Without glasses, perspective is ruined.  Hard to distinguish

 

Waving dead grass from distant clouds.  To your

Left a sparkle of sun bounces, and a pontoon boat

Motors passed.  High-pitched outboard harkens a memory

Of fresh water, early-morning fishermen and Rainbow

Trout, not toxic then, frying over a camp fire. Now a

Brown butterfly comes to interrupt self-imposed blindness.

 

 

Memories of Red Weather

 

You stop, then break back.  You are

Balanced today in habitual

Rhythms.  You wrap

Sea oats.

Later

You will paint them into a

Dream of blue horses.

Imagine the smile a

Life without stress

Will provide

Today.

You’ve smartly allowed your

Dream to come true,

Which is so good

You’re not sure

How you’re

Going to

Handle

It.

Then you quickly remember

Your manners, your music.

La Mode has returned,

Now enlightened life

Grows avenues

All at

Once.

You pull out your pen, paintbrush

Guitar.  Red tractors focus in

A photograph at 55 MPH.

Jenny steers her black

Honda through

Speed trap

Zones.

 

You dance again, blow out a

Knee and revert to

Swimming miles

At the local

YMCA.

Welcome back to 1972.  You’ve

Got the car, attitude, and

Fourteen-year-old

Personality to

Prove

It.

 

Sonnet   5-9-00

 

Pam Wallace is an artist, Carolina Blue.

She walks among the giants, their oils and their goo.

She laughs and paints and paints and laughs, doesn’t have a care.

Her lovers love, suspended time, floating in the air.

 

I snuck a note once to her, it offered naught but wine.

So here I sit with pen in hand, trying one more time

To woo an artist so far ahead of where I hope to be

That now I know how Michaelangelo got boys on their knees.

 

He was so good at what he did they could not help their hearts.

So, what of pranksters when they fall for someone who is art?

Well, we just smile and hug and kiss and go our separate ways.

Enamored more by art, than any human phase.

 

Here is to Pam-e-la, be bold and you will see

That my heart is now taken, your heart is still free.

 

 

 

Mentally Homeless

                                    Or

Which comes First, Mental Illness or Homelessness?

 

 

We’re out on the streets fighting the cold

Wondering what tomorrow will hold

When what to our bloodshot eyes should appear:

Ten more policemen, 20 more fears.

 

So this is democracy, American style

Some make it rich, some stand to file

For a type of relief that never shows

‘Cause there’s no place for the check to go.

 

So, until you can afford a place of your own,

You can’t get help, one mind blown.

 

 

Orange County Homes

 

The best have lived here, and the worst

And now the dome is going to burst

Because so many insist on moving in,

Because life here gives easy wins

 

To those who previously lost

Or prospered less.  Oh, the cost

To what was once such pretty land:

It’s now carved up for homesteads, grand.

 

But what when million dollar homes

Subtract  from deer that used to roam?

And how about the food we eat,

Can we plant some on your street?

 

You say “no” and “go away,”

So could you please tell me where I can stay?

 

 

          Sparse October

 

Glare penetrates at autumn angles.

Hillsborough’s warmth persists: drought

Does not discriminate.  It looks like your

Typical colorburst fall, but leaves this dry

Disintegrate to dust, no bonfires needed.

 

Here, where suburbs sprawl, front porches

Matted, where thousands of gallons of water

Are sprayed to keep what once was lush forest

Green.  Where clay, now so dusty it reddens

Windows, splints shins after two miles of hike.

 

It’ll take more than compost to veggie garden

This back lawn:  a full load of topsoil from

A distant state, atop a load of dry whoop-ass

Distributed evenly over earth, now so solid

That digging is futile.  Sparse October, while

 

Others are harvesting we slug to the store

Buying organic broccoli, miso concoctions,

Seven grain bread, to keep our half-spent

Bodies in youth, now long gone.  No shovel

Can humanly dig into this earth.  You work

 

So we eat, we eat and are fed, you work the

Last fields, we eat and are fed, you plant the

Genetics, we eat and are fed, you rise up to

Greet the dust bowl, and we are not fed.  We

Have no place to plant our veggies this year.

 

 

                     Mind Snap

 

It happened again:  motoring west toward Knoxville,

Pull in for a burger, and before you know it: cops,

Ambulance, finger prick test and a slow trip to Moses

Cone. Greensboro is not Knoxville, so you’re trapped

In a mind bend that just won’t quit. It’s 2pm and you’re

Five hours away from an appointment that will now

Have to wait. Your lunch becomes weird when you

Check in to a Days Inn and scream a primal yelp.

It’s 11:30pm you still can’t sleep.  So it’s off for

A CAT Scan then back to the motel. You walk . . .

Each trip around you stick one foot into the pool.

You kneel down and pray that one day, somehow,

You’ll make it back to Jenners, even though

You’re only an hour away, it’s a scary ride in NC.

Both knees down, both hands down, a la Islam.

You’re in tears, trying to figure out how to sleep

How to drive home, how to explain a brain that just

Won’t cooperate.  She’s already been through this twice.

Any more mishaps and that will be the end of it.  No

Way to guarantee the sideswipe will never happen again.

Mind snaps have and will cause changes no one enjoys.

So you beg forgiveness, work hard to make it up to her,

And pray really hard that you can keep it together.

It was, after all, hoping to see her again that got you back

To Hillsborough safely.  A touch more lunacy and you’ll be

Alone again.  One more false step and it will be time to

Move again.  Love is forgiving, but will the madness end?

 

 

KC and the Thanksgiving Prayer

 

I gave a thanksgiving prayer to a new family I met near Asheville.

I got twigs and built a triangle (the three goddesses: corn, squash and

beans) and a square (the four directions:  North – Winter and cleansing,

East: Spring and beginnings, South: Summer and warmth, West: Fall

and remembrances).  The triangle sits above the square, because it is the

women who feed us.

 

You start in the square facing West and, while turning right for each

new direction, say:

 

We salute you for your wind and fresh new sky

We salute your wonderful people and cleansing snow

We greet the day with dreams to labor by

We salute your sun and love and fun and go

 

To Green mountains, cold river by the leaves

Of Rhododendron bushes, tall black trees.

 

Open Up

 

We added bushes flowers and trees to the landscape.

Three pines, two maples,  and Clyde’s gators gape.

We mow with that human powered rotary blade.

Your uncle and our mothers watch with glee today.

 

All our ancestors lived their lives so we could paint the yard.

Some say this is difficult, but we say it ain’t hard:

To take the moment on its own terms, to hold life in your arms.

Let’s turn our suburban plot into a veggie farm!

 

As we dig around the yard we fall in love again,

We open up to find a life full of happy friends.

We do not judge our neighbors,  they run deep and blue.

Your smiles encourage us to spread this joy to you:

 

When you give up the normal to chase your wildest dreams

The universe has the right path, no matter what it seems.

16 July 2001  Room 6 Groveland Hotel

An iron door clangs,

One bat flaps over the roof

As Blythe, not snooty,

Retires after a summer-soup day.

The old jail emits the ghosts

That still haunt the top of

The hill.  Imagine traveling so

Far only to be squeezed out.

Too many men, not enough

Gold, but these days, plenty

Of jails.  You stake a claim,

Dig best you can, only to get

Flea bites, blisters and no

Way home after you trade

Your last mule for two

Week’s slop.  We don’t

Know anything like that

Now.  We’re soft, getting

Softer every year.  But bats

Flap, doors clang, and the

Flow of visitors provides

A few steady jobs.  Is

This the last fling for nature?

Do we extract what we

Can and move on, or is

Our new way even more

Exploitive?  Tomorrow we’ll

See things we’re not

Likely to see again in

This life.  So here’s to the

Friendly folks who spread

Joy with small porcelain

Dolls, antique surroundings,

Creative meals, funny

Ghost stories, and the humanity

To remember how it was.

 

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.

 

 

Double Dream

 

I dreamt of falling

Into the purple scarf Cheuse

Made you wear.  Wet Sheets.

 

Photo shows yearning.

Words make me stop.  Remember

The hooded lips friend?

 

 

Interaction

 

Some folks turn to art when

They can’t relate to people very well.

It’s like a private sanctuary then:

No one turns up to throw

Kerosene on emotional wounds.

 

Interaction breaks the peace.

Rollo points to the Courage to

Create.  But Rollo is not the creator.

This artist (the naked guy in the corner)

Defiles decency in a warped sense of belonging.

 

How much longer before the very last

Exhibit?  Quick, interact with him.

Hug purple, squeeze appreciation.

Shake him out into view, allow,

With your generosity, one more week of art.

 

 

No Boundaries, 2001

 

Gayle paints poems in the butterfly breeze. Two boats

Shimmer in the morning sun.  Evalyn drops in. . .  to clouds forming

On the western bank.  Last night a raccoon scurried, one deer,

Off the hill, looked, charged and jumped onto the dunes.

Dan has walked this circle thirty times, reminding materialist

Watchers that creation comes, shovel in hand, not from

Piling up, but tamping down.  Seeds fall out of him,

Drop to the sand, coagulate, dry up and cause a laugh.

 

Imagine the control it takes to let it drop without the squirt

Of normal urgings.  (It takes more control to deny the gifts to

Match philosophies — divine.)  So we march in happy paradise,

Using wits to develop efficiencies that will give our kids

A choice;  more freedom means more obligation, but how do

You get that through to Johnny sixpack?  Where is Jarrie

Going to sit: among the quintessential consumers, or

Back in a cabin, using little energy, but commanding

 

Electric friends via concepts and inventions so compelling

That, just like Curried Einstein, the tide runs toward new

Shores?  Days go by like blinks, Gayle ponders how

Much longer this slice will go, but she knows her

Evolution is many lives away.  Entangled souls expressing

Love’s constant yearning, gather on this sunny island as

Wind and water wash it all away.  Robert, stick in hand,

Walks back and forth, waiting for the change that starts it all again.

 

 

Olya

 

Anna A. hovers over this pen.  Mimsey, Jenny’s Mom,

Plays a frontier tune: “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

Last night, on Olya Crawley’s birthday

(It was the twenty first here) we were reminded

Just how special this life has been.  Bombs do that.

But why can’t we have a village of our friends?

Why can’t we live in one happy town?

The world is smaller, and short on time.

 

Eternal soulmates mingle here on earth.

Some have waited many lifetimes to be together.

Only fools fail to jump through those universal

Windows.  Those tiny moments when you have

A chance to change your life forever. But an open heart

Prevails eventually: second, third, fourth chances

Until, with eyes open, the heart finds its corresponding

Mate.  We’ve found ours, continents apart.

 

Here’s a vision of Peter:  brilliant financial mind

Tempered by a flair for establishing strong economies

Via timely loans.  A beach guy in warm weather, away

From London’s fog.  Happy, so happy, a conscientious

Friend. who, unlike so many businessmen, delights in

Small surprises:  summer breeze between Eucalyptus,

A smooth rock, a blown glass medallion to give away.

Likely this is off, so laugh and know we laugh too.

 

Dreams do not come true when talent goes to waste.

So it is back to the pen, the brush, the fretboard

Seeking peace in a brain too rocked by events outside

Its control.  Being at the screen late last night caused

New dreams. (It was a schoolyard, then a dormitory.

It raced from the closest moments to scattered

Ethereal teardrops). Here we have bright red leaves,

But no Birches. Six children wander, finding nature’s

 

Offer sweet.  There is a new sketch of a giant tear

With a peace sign made within it.  To honor

October 22, it will be one meter square on

Canvass in time to show the strange eyes

Something new.  We have seen so many things, been

So many places.  There is but one soul.  So my new

Thoughts persist in making my little part better while

Here, while there, while scavenging for understanding.

 

There she is– a smiling friend traveling two

Hundred miles to step off a platform and remain

In our minds.  Small, very small and humbled,

My father reports back years later, after new soulmates

Mingle, and we lift a Christmas glass to toast the

Friends we’ve known so long. Liszt lingers now too.

Mimsey reports that he followed her around, and, one day

When she refused to go to school, she asked his ghost to

 

Make the rain stop or else she wouldn’t go.  Poof, the rain

Stopped.  Naturally she played “Liebestraum: as part of the

Serenade this afternoon.  Can one quick dance charge a

Whole town?  Can the frolicking peaceniks persist amid terror?

Of course they can, friend, so out you go, to the dance, to the

Show.  Anna is weeping at such loose use of words, but

The point is, this village is growing.  Here is to Peter and Olya, Jenny

And Doug.  They know that to make the soul better you have to have fun.

 

 

One Soul

 

We walk the woods so deep

In search of ancient winds.

We stop to pick a pod to keep

 

Your purity cleans the sins

That linger from the past.

You rise above the angry din

 

To make a love that lasts.

You work for others all day long

When children misbehave, you fast.

 

To start the day you sing a song

As leaves blow through the air.

You take a risk, now we belong.

 

Jenny you are strong and fair

Heaven is in your eyes.

Magnolia signifies the dare.

 

Seed pods are manna from the sky.

We walk the earth together,

In love until we die.

 

 

Tadpole

 

Before you lies an expression of agape

One tadpole floating up to see his brother,

A young creature, still so close to mother

But with the nerve to swim a better way.

 

He has the sense ton take his brother too.

Five minutes purple splashing white

Is how he came to you tonight

Come with us to experience the new.

 

When was the last time you took a chance?

Be alive like he is, do not wait.

Make space, engage, then concentrate.

Pick a brother, start the harvest dance.

 

The tadpole invigorates his pool–

His place is not secure but he swims on.

You have the time to cherish his elan.

Guard his freedom, use love as the tool.

 

A tadpole grabs his brother, off they go:

They will not perish now, nor evermore

Because your love has touched them to the core

There will always be another chance to grow.

 

 

                   Space Ant

 

You have no control of your brain.

You always move:  left, straight, right.

Three times a year you wake up sweating,

Thinking your brother is going to die.

Your band breaks up, followed by long

Periods of depression, all sleep, no eat.

You smoke your way back into a smile

But know that one puff too many equals

Left-right-spend, left-right-spend, left-right-

Spend.  Then something kicks you in the balls.

 

Being a space ant is only fun until the bill comes.

Then you discover that your friends are all gone,

Your soul-mate is mad, your art is piling up.

You spin one more time, searching paper

Mounds on phlebitis legs.  You’re away from

Your desk, someone cancelled your email

Account, your life breaks up:  this time there

Is no net of art, the bands play without

You, you discover a crumb, something to hold,

You float down a river on top of a tear, alone.

 

 

               Space Kiss

 

Forces larger than yourself stretch

Into the cosmos to find a mate.

The timing Gods convene to swirl

Another soul in your direction.

 

Somehow this kiss that comes

Allows light, instructs emotions,

Creates a fleeting chance to turn

Years of despair into flourishes of art.

 

 

Six PM, 25 December, 2001

 

 

It is her birthday, still she works

The wok, offering noodles, broccoli,

Special home-baked Christmas cookies

Brought to the table in a plaid tin.

 

Ruskin, home of the traveling tomato,

Plays host to a broad cross-section

Of Christmas diners. No Tet here.  An

Eight-pack multi-generation family walks in.

 

Spanish and Chinese attempt to communicate

In English.  Three couples in a row

Pick up take out. Over 60, loneliness

Screams from behind steaming plastic lenses.

 

Intermingled fortunes make her wonder

What the next customer will want.

You can’t believe everything you eat,

But we know crunchy veggies cleanse.

 

The dog and the dragon do not always get along.

She says thank you so much as she accepts

A three-song CD gift from a strange man,

Now done eating, looking to make a call.

 

Hard working Spanish speaking revelers

Eat Chinese for Christmas dinner.  She

Points to a pay phone, so the dog and dragon

Talk, then drive away from the vacant mall.

 

 

6 January, 2002

 

Jet plane engines in ears mostly pained by

Numerous infections from the past.  One

Simple moment remembered:  the last good-bye

I grabbed your hand, punched the ICU doors

And stomped to the elevator.  I cried like a

Baby, pushed the doors open to drizzle, and drove

Back to Surfside #108.  A well decorated pad,

We slept on your bed when you could not.

 

The deal now is to get Mom going again, keep Dad’s

Head above water, let Billy make a statement,

Call Nancy every night, hug Mike and demand that

We play some tournament every year, greet

Dibby with a fond hello, shake each day like

A ripe cantaloupe, until we’re sure we get the

Most from it, and throw the largest, biggest

Stu-bash come July 25th.  Calendars duly marked.

 

Once again, somehow, I was granted the very

Best of your time.  We talked about the Gators

Romp (56-23) over Maryland, and you even

Said “I’ll talk to you when I can.”  In fact,

That’s the last thing you ever said to me.  Perhaps

The next few weeks of writing will be nothing

More than an extended conversation with our personal

Angel.  Is heaven as good as time spent with you?

 

 

Each Day Complete Now

 

 

Yellow springs to red:

Three week beard bristles under

Turtle-brass glasses.

Heaving chest attests to valiant days

Spent loving life, yet

Yearning for another shot.

Each day complete now.

Tufted gulls scream out:

“My food not yours.”  New chicks chirp

In Palms, aware that Mom

Has won again, enough to feed them.

The clank of dredge barge

Snaps thoughts back to you, brother.

Each day complete now.

Blue, gray, white, unite

At constant horizon, soft

Even liquid here

On the patio, never the same,

Tears ever present,

The years flip by like pages past,

Each day complete now.

 

 

         17 January, 2002

 

 

Scraggly oaks arch over the road

In the section of Durham that’s white.

Holly pushes through concrete,

By the School of Science and Math.

Some smart-ass is taking a bath,

Abluted from head down to feet.

Urban schools are ruined from racism’s plight,

Young black men carry the load.

 

The traffic is heavy on Club Boulevard,

One house has panels for heat.

Cut rose limbs wait for warm weather,

A steeple bears war and foul air.

A Suburban rambles nary a care,

A bus whistles past some dead heather.

Flappy joggers try to look neat.

You can see love, but have to look hard.

 

De Luca and the Boys

 

 

Erica smiles as the band plays on.  She’s through

Seeking fulfillment in boys, even dynamite boys.

And I’m through trying to make it as a rock star.

“Rock stars don’t wear t-shirts from their own

Band,” the Gossip singer says to me, frowning.

 

Back when brother Tad was alive I knew what

To do.  Everything had meaning:  speeding to

Costello concerts, chipping in for birdie on 18,

Making hundreds of tapes to listen to on road

Trips, pre-CD, and looking on in amazement.

 

Erica, like so many, was for me, and still can be,

A vital replacement for a missing Tad.  A music

Lover, lively, making meaning out of simplicity.

She keeps turning up, instant messaging and

Weighing in on topics, although we only met

 

Three times:  once at the Cradle, once at her job,

And once almost stealing away from East Chapel

Hill High School for a smoke.  I yanked Tad out

Of an afternoon of school to get the first view of

Saturday Night Fever.  We laughed at Travolta.

 

Erica is making me a tape now, this one’s a new-

Fangled burned CD.  For this, all she gets is a

Poem and Alanis Morrisette. Erica doesn’t know

How pretty she is.  I never realized how much

These newfound friends meant until they quickly

 

Sifted through one day and out into the Canadian

Night, or the hidden expanses of life on the road.

We all run back to see old friends.  We all lose

Friends as life goes on, or lose ourselves.  Erica

Do you know how much those moments meant?

 

                           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.

 

 

Marriage

 

So much has been written about marriages:

Kisses, couplings, baby carriages.

The best kind are open

And we all keep on hoping

That one day they wont be so rare-istage.

 

 

 

Ringside

 

Sleepy in a midnight chair,

You’re ringside for a wordy rap,

The stink of second-story air,

Polluted droning sounds like this:

 

(m)  Because I thought you would take it seriously.

(f)  All the same, it never occurred to me that there’s a way we can find out

(m)    I can’t imagine who would do such a thing

(f)    It was my parents

(m)    Wow, that’s not right

(f)    You probably don’t even know my parents

(m)    It’s true, I only know what they do. Why was it so easy?

(f)    Yet, it was not a “high priority”

(m)     Right

(f)    They told me it wasn’t going to last

(m)     He doesn’t know Theresa

(f)    He walked right behind her

(m)    The Jugs’ are here!

(f)    I think they left

 

Meanwhile taped Marlene sings,

White girls prance.  A lounging boxer,

Red gloves, red trunks, sprawls under

Revolving disco ball dots of white light.

 

A full sax section resolves to a diminished

Piano chord.  A slide guitarist cranks

Live as Billy and the boys warm up behind

A terrible Dean Martin baritone sound check.

 

You were told this is a rockin’ band,

But they slowed the arrangements to “dirge funk,”

The latest craze amongst the family and lovers

Who rank 82 percent of the small but loyal crowd.

 

 

Sites Unseen 

 

Melissa sings an aria to a din of writers.

Goatee-type taps a pencil, dazed by idiosynchronicity.

Stunned, eight poets somehow sing orchestral

Accompaniment.  New notes blare to passing ears

They walk to find a quiet place.  Smug professors

Revel, undaunted by the power of 18-year-old sex.

 

Six sophomores smile as academia piles up.

Surrounded by precious T and A, T.A.s

Tease these women with pretensions the homefront

Never offered.  Coffee spills, lapping laps

With Colombia’s horror.  Displaced compasinos

Dream, but never sublime scenes like Franklin Street.

 

 

To Lindsey, on her Birthday, 2002

 

One Bartendress makes a Tia Maria &

Stoly black Russian, then joins her

Friends at a table for three:  the blonde

Who waved, the mixologist and

The Czech woman with a butt

That tucks into her hip hugger pants.

 

She saws a tournedos at Tonic.

A plate slams into the Henry Jamesian

Universe created by mutual admiration

And a cross-bar flirtation augmented

By a flutter of heart strings stretched

On the lips of a novice server made

Wiley by tips proffered at table number

Twelve, where love holds meanings to

Be the highest homage to the creator.

 

Beach Party Sonnet

 

Cascades and loops bring lust and love today,

As once forgotten faces smile again.

The briny smell of algae’s washed away

In time to feel the warmth of long lost friends.

 

Foot by foot, naked in the windswept dunes,

We cheer the party on the seaside deck.

Ambiance:  salt-ammonia with tunes

My teen heart-throb decides what we’ll do next.

 

Pelican, like a dart, dives for a meal,

The sun boils gulf and skin as it goes down.

My back is burned but front is where I feel:

We kiss, stand up and wave, then turn around.

 

One party goer ponders joining in,

But settles for a drink, a hug, a grin.

 

 

10 January 2003

 

Here’s what happens when you get touched:

Your marriage ends, your old friends disappear,

New friends seemingly abound, and those magic

Nights of freedom, pounding away on canvasses,

Bass guitar or computer keyboards pile on each

Other until you can’t tell which day it is except

By looking at the “W” on your weekly pill tray.

 

Here’s what happens when the rush is over:

You crawl from the wreckage, make amends,

Vow to never vow again, while realizing that

Karmic necessity requires years, not months

Of do-gooding in return for the lives you’ve

Somehow shucked in preference for a self-

Directed existence, regardless of misery or joy.

 

Cold winter exudes from rocks, blasting ears.

Today’s supplements: “F,” bring warm poetry.

 

 

26 February 2003

 

Morning doves coo in Naples, then again in Roanoke

Reminding sleepers that a new day waits to be seized.

Snow flies, abundant insulator, refreshing the

View on Meadow Drive.  Nancy calls, offering

Deep friendship that makes you feel alive.

 

Naturally, it’s her birthday but she’s doing all

The healing.  Our bond is more than blood, it’s a

Broad, deep closeness few ever share.  Those peak

Moments are harder to climb to as we muddle through.

Mysterious influences continue to prod and dare.

 

We call in tuneful wishes.  Your response

Os a commitment to say hi every day.  In your

Honor we swim;  Kwang Suk for the first time

Since being pushed in at age 20.  Can you

Feel the warmth of love we send to the north?

 

 

                       6 March 2003

 

Mr. Kim Jong-Il thinks he knows a way to feed

His North Koreans who are most in need.  He

Tests missiles to be able to lose a war to the USA

But, in Nuclear times, that’s just not the way.

 

Being downtrodden by war no longer guarantees

The type of rebuild gained by the Japanese.

Guam is stocking up B 51s and twos

Which means all Mr. Kim can do is lose.

 

Let’s see, if we launch a preemptive strike

He may launch one:  “nuke and nuke alike.”

We take Pyung Yang and his bomb-build plant,

He launches long range at LA or San Fran.

 

Meanwhile, troops flow in, some of them Chinese,

With cheap-labor multinationals are on their knees.

Chinese nationalize all the plants that we built:

The world in tears thanks to Bush and Jong Il.

 

What makes such horrific folly feasible

Is that in the US war-for-oil is now reasonable.

Just enough voting Americans to let it fly.

One wonders how many this time will die.

 

Millions demonstrate to no avail.

Bush and his oil cronies seek the grail.

At the same time, on a peninsula in the East

Ill-thought plans could end humanity.

 

                           At 44

 

Four times Ms. Mann’s photography, and I feel

Calcifying blood clots in my legs, eyeballs

Blurred by reading, and a left knee shot from a

Pull-hook over-the-top golf swing and dancing.

 

This Boddhisatva “Park” came here to remind me

To swing and write regardless of the daily horrors.

The guilt of doing so spreads and stops me

From protesting, playing music, calling friends.

 

Depression and insomnia dominate the nights

When Park is soundly sleeping and the games

Are off TV.  Six months ago behavior blasted

My existence, leaving me alone in a crowd.

 

This one crowd member took a chance, offering

Her entire family, a great job down the road, and

Almost universal understanding — another angel

Dropped to help me reassemble the small pieces.

 

At 44 I feel 18 again, except when college

Students walk, or librarians address me as sir.

It’s time to start again:  the last chance to crank up

That elusive career before age and entropy prevail.

 

 

                     Art on Kildaire

 

Somehow today’s wind blows a black blade

Through the window of this 89 Volvo wagon.

Thin and soft, it appears to be a withered fescue,

Mowed six months ago, perhaps. A branch-waving

Gust spinwheels leaves down an alley as bushes

Shake greetings to gas-hogs and dumpsters.

Refreshing oxygen cuts through inverted ozone

One last time before summer sets in.  Birds chirp and

Bees hum as Donna the Vet., dressed in hospital blues,

Stops into Citgo for a cup of sprite.  One door

For dogs, the other for cats.  A slot in a booth where

A payphone had been.  One stops for ciggies, a

Pack at a time, a suit grabs a coffee as gas prices

Climb.  Conditioners churn, a crow calls afar, leaves

Move with the branches on Kildaire Farm Road.

 

The prospect of happiness fades in the heat.

Shadows dance tarmac, here comes the mail.

An orange tag tied to loose payphone wire,

It’s 2 pm, new Cary shop owners smile at customers.

John wants you to bring your paintings in: the

First Citgo-gallery on the east coast is thus formed.

Is this new performance paying the bill? Is absurdity

In small doses still funny enough to help get

You past life’s little moments?  Where are the

Art lovers among life’s blue suburbans?

Yes, this will add panache to the place, but

How does it add to your resume?  Or maybe

You can drum up some business by creating

Small tokens for the consideration of hurried

Day workers seeking 40-ounce remedies at 5pm.

 

 

             Admonishment #1, April, 2003

 

When friends call you while you sleep, pick up the phone

Because the cleansing starts when met full-square.

Detractors have the time to cast their stones:

They do not hear the words that prove you care.

Electronic vilification recounts errors for their eyes

Yet the court is neither just nor fair,

Because computer screens are packed with lies.

 

You can stand and fight or simply walk away.

Either choice adds fodder to their mill.

Weary volunteers wonder how provocateurs hold sway.

Few have the time, the energy, or will

To make sure once-sacred tenets are promoted.

Once-vibrant meetings shrink and rot until

The meeting is those for whom the departed once had voted.

 

These “leaders” then are free to complete their task:

Too make sure no group grows on the left wing.

Those who have walked away had better ask

What giving up their voice will bring.

They’ve stopped us here and they may stop us there,

But keep shouting, let your freedom sing

So those who come along will also have the nerve to dare.

 

 

At the Bag Drop

 

Marissa Nalli says good morning and replies to

“How ya doin,” then adds a twinkle-eyed “Hey,”

While walking by.  It’s these little moments that keep

You from falling over in today’s 40-mile-an-hour

Saskatchewan screamer.  River oats dance, loud leaves

Applaud, releasing both of us from unnatural restrictions.

She comes by smiling as a new friend.  You’re stunned

By intimacy, soft eyes, and the fresh leisure of her

“I’m-a-jogger-who-owns-a-golden-and-drives-a-Volvo”

Look.  In four hours she’ll be back.  Until then, butterflies

Trying to stay attached to shaking bushes will have to do.

 

 

                 Four to Remember

 

Mondrian

 

Bare white walls allow shadow and light

Which inspire memories of graphic Piet Mondrian.

How dare you be so boldly simple, so uniquely

Square, so red, black, blue and yellow?

 

 

Rickey

 

Shine and shine one, mechanical wizard,

Technical genius.  Well-oiled stainless gears,

Gizmos as art, so intricate, fluid they reform

Each day to gently prod our eyes, soothe our souls

In this, the age of technology over mind over matter.

 

 

Pollack

 

I never knew who you were, nor Goldsworthy,

But somehow your magic saved this poor wretch

On the days when I shouldn’t be out in the crowd

Or smoking too much, or laughing aloud.

When daubing colors from three feet away is

The only tether holding this huge blob of life

Much gratitude floats up your way.  Thank you sir.

 

 

Plath

 

I have not the talent, nor the intent

To go the way that Sylvia went.

For what it’s worth, her stuff makes me smile

And, as for Hughes, he has no class or style.

 

 

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.

 

 

             Fair-Hockey-Football

 

Choppers hover overhead, while Mary,

A six-year-old who is hobbled with bad knees,

Runs after a wolfpack-colored nerf football.

You walk by hoping she’ll find love and

Fulfillment with her heart and hands.

 

Men drive sixteen-mile-per-hour golf carts

Scrutinizing traffic patterns in a lot triply

Crowded this fine Saturday.  Mary’s Dad was

Smart to make an entire day of it, so they

Never had to worry about fighting for parking.

 

The morning was spent riding midway rides,

Eating cotton candy and looking at farm animals.

In the afternoon, Dad carried Mary to Carter-Finley

Where NC State won a  game against Georgia Tech.

Now Mary has the ball the throws it back to her Dad.

 

Mom and the boys are attending the burgers

That cook on a grill that has served many

Tailgate seasons well.  They’ll all be well fed

In time to see the puck drop, as the Hurricanes

Play the Red Wings in a repeat of last year’s finals.

 

Where else could you park your Ford Explorer

In one spot and do so much in the same day?

The scheduling gurus pulled a coup this time.

It’s days like these that make all the work worth it.

You wander on, Mary permanently etched within.

 

 

Can Love Cause Dependency to Fade?

 

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 if you’re on the right path.

 

“I accuse you of a wasted life,” the judge

Announces, 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 boundaries

Previously imposed in a bipolar way.  Get out and beat

Back the temptation to quit.  Grab all kind offerings,

Count your blessings, keep your chin up, and proceed.

 

 

Clippings lure beetles.

Bending in the wind allows

Time to ponder love.

 

 

Four New Friends

 

Nikki, Jory, Chelle and Cheri come into view.

It’s a pleasant substitute of eye-candy now that

Sonya has chosen lizard boy.  (Her cage is in a cave.)

Jory’s a blue plate special, able to smile & guile her

Way into all kinds of strange gigs.  Newlywed Nikki

Is a cute little tiger, according to her a-o-l address.

In real life she’s a hungry hair clipper, looking for more.

Cheri has her Libra/Scorpio cusp hands full with heavily

Soused Matt, but she figures life’s chances are few.

That brings us to Michelle.  Chelle looks and feels

Like a mountain girl (mostly grown by now) who

Nonetheless lives over in Raleigh, where she was born.

You couldn’t find a gentle enough bull for her old soul.

Though she enjoys a wide variety of men, deep down

She yearns for a simple, happy, competent botanist

Who understands indoor growing methods and women’s

Cycles.  Nitrogen plus testosterone plus menstruation

Equals lifelong bliss.  Easy escape from the daily grind is

Merely a puff away, a dance away, in a wild array

Of style, color, laughter, pain, sex and butterfly tattoos.

 

 

Four-Pack Haiku

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.

 

 

Habeas Corpus Denied

 

Horrid

Air.

Bombs

Evict

All

Subjects.

 

Cancer

Ogles

Ripe

Pedestrians.

United

Soldiers

 

Destroy

Everything,

Nothing.

Immediate

Entry

Denied.

 

 

Lose-Lose Situation

 

Pollen pushes eyes.

Brave mothers quiver sorrow.

Children understand.

Dad is lost somewhere in the desert.

Dandelions rise.

Fayetteville mourns the war dead.

Dogwood’s white explodes.

Sad families fight back tears.

Neighbors understand:

They offer food, which quells inner fear.

Easter pastels run.

Mamaw stays for weeks to cook.

Sparrows peck at seeds.

Death shatters one neighborhood.

Desert mothers stare.

War steals life and love.  Children struggle,

Fights break out for food.

Sunken eyes seek comfort now.

 

                Magnolia

 

Magnolia’s make strange noises in the wind.

Neither rustle nor flutter, their leaves scrape

A sound only your ears could describe.

Cindy sits sketching a landscape that barely

Includes the proud blossoms. Still, subtle

Friction between green/brown leaves affects

Color combos in a pastel she hopes to do

In oil one day.  You wave and pull for her.

 

The dense, broad Magnolia stands guarding

An old southern home.  Slap-dash developments

Ignore tradition, symbols and beauty, so you have

To travel back roads to where the balka grows

To find a tree worth painting.  Cindy’s picture, a

Single glimpse, does not reflect dramatic changes

Wrought by service jobs, two-earner families and

Forests traded for new four-lane communities.

 

Some Magnolias blossom twice a year.  Quite

Suited to the acid-laden clay, their branches

Merely stretch when ice storms snap nearby pines.

Seed pods clutter up the yard late in the fall,

Ants crawl through white blooms as if the

Trees were peonies.  Cindy feels an ant crawl

From sock to calf.  This Magnolia is rendered.

She packs and gathers, leaving with a grin.

 

 

            Manhattan Mambo

 

Rain, mist, Rain.

Synthetic awnings cast water bombs

That splash between nose and lenses.

It’s a hike to Chelsea from Koreaville.

You duck into a pay-by-weight

Kimchi shop to fuel up for the

Twelve block trek.

 

Art at Whitehall, art on every floor,

Art by appointment only, art as

Video, art as manhole cover, art

as “Hello-my-name-is” tags, art

From Kansas, a Korean lady who glues

The outside frills of name badges in rows

Ten across and 300 high, quite derivative.

 

Seated, pooped, twelve-dollar park.

But what a relief to have been in the art.

You drive back to Carolina, land of crafts,

See Boston galleries showing gray,

Young wine merchants taking chances on

The stuff they hang in galleries.  You have

The time to paint, but don’t today.

 

Heat, sun, heat.

Twenty five years of painting.  One huge

Pile waiting to be stored, maybe framed,

Maybe dipsy-dumpstered, maybe sold off

The wall of Port City Java.  To be amazed

By art, to laugh in the face of art.  To paint:

The last refuge, last thread, last breath.

 

 

          Mr. Chan at a Country Club

 

Fluid Tai Chi graces the corner of one normally

Barren parking lot.  Patience meets balance as this

Cool October morning warms up.  Suddenly the

Peacock explodes from the crane, a leg snap warms

Circulation, then back to slow motion:  we don’t

Know this speed here.  When did we start to lose

Our connection to nature?  Fourteen geese squawk,

Rising sun angles on to windshields as breakfast

Seminar munchers file toward a boring but essential

Presentation.  Once you have your place in the world,

You have to attend all kinds of meetings.  Success is

Relative in this lot, but Mr. Chan does not stay long

Enough to counter the flow of parochial greed mongers.

 

 

                           New Ride

 

Glad to have you with us, the new ride is a challenge.

Each day has less frogs, less birds, more Monsanto melons.

Calls for boycotts muted by reality TV,

Pre-emptive arrests quiet San Luis.

Nuclear umbrella assures scattered terror

Chaos and poverty:  war, diplomacy’s error.

Imploded economies drag down the rest,

Idiot leaders are puppets, well dressed.

The rights of the companies now far outweigh

Any mass inclinations or democracy.

Poor education?  Job prospects remote,

But big developers still get their new roads.

Peaceful assemblies broken by cops

Inquiring journalists out of a job.

Professors, most quiet under Cheney’s chinny-chin Lynn

Seek the comfort of tenure at the page-turners inn.

Even rock singers have softened the blow

We need more radicals so our children can grow!

Welcome new riders, sagebrush is afire

Our movies are twisted, TV is a liar.

If you have the stomach, please lead the way.

Our previous left leader was shot dead today.

 

 

                              Ode to Horace Mann

 

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

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 allowed to 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.

 

 

                        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.

 

 

Party Now

 

Some Cubs fan compliments your taste

But he doesn’t believe you when you welcome

His sarcastic slur.  It’s a Gator Friday, and sure

Enough he’s looking to raise hell at any cost.

Love bugs, two-at-a-time, splatter on cars,

New drinkers slosh, Sylvia’s mother walks

University Ave. with her crippled hubby, and an

Unnamed Chicago prospect tours the orange and

Blue campus because she wants to be

Back in the south where her family started.

Staff members shrug as another week in

Academia winds into football madness.

The same smug alums who fork 20 grand

For better parking, pay the bills that keep

The administration in suits.  Kids’ parents

Pay out the ass to get their “students”  into the

School that’ll introduce them to their business

Partners, sex partners, life partners, and the

Occasional creative collaboration partners.

Beverages spill, wide eyed lovers slip

And slide on hops-soaked boards in the last

Party days available to a culture as doomed

As Rome ever was.  Party now, pay later.

Still, party now, party now! party now!!

 

 

                 Simplicity

 

A low hum of pushed air gently flutters

Fica leaves, as wandering faces you couldn’t

Know remind you of friends from the past.

 

One woman is forty pounds heavier than Christie,

Some sophomore is just like Jeff, the hockey-beer-nut.

Today small diversions (an Auburn T-Shirt) are enough.

 

You’re three steps away from completing the required

Elements of a job application you’re afraid might lead

From one teaching job to another.  This simple life

 

May be all you need, but will it be enough to keep you

Alive, or will you stagnate, vacillating between fond

Memories and unrequited longings for a superstar life?

 

Self esteem, an elusive commodity here in the carols

Of Wake Technical Community College, floats like a mist,

But does not settle in every cubical.  You wait outside,

 

The last cool days of March remind you that you

Once did things:  skied, sailed, played bass and screamed

In an attempt to gain acceptance, just like these kids do.

 

Cultures clash then mingle intimately, spurred by hormones,

Lipstick and economics.  A low hum feels like energy

Wasted as a new memory of Chris Bush walks passed.

 

 

                    Restart

 

What tricks pushed me to this new life?

Does Hermes smile in wait under rain-soaked trees?

One twist on a windy day in Queens.  One accommodating

Bus ride into Manhattan.  One walk to the stop

Waiting with Barbara.  She, so willing to take a step

Back to give you the freedom, has never had fun in bed.

Her parents battled every Friday because that was sex night.

Barbara has her friends, her cat Frida, and her oils.

She paints the most beautiful oils. She trusted me

With her paintings, and here they sit, while this new life

Blossoms daily.

 

 

           Rusty Blue Van Moving & Music Co., Inc.

 

Kat, Becky, David and Ted, your basic redheaded stepchild,

Blow up then down the seaboard.  Ten thousand troubadours

Precede, proceed then follow in a wave of vagabonds-as-

Superstars.  Only this time Kat really is a star, Ted really is

A “normal” drummer, Becky does a solid line and Dave, well

Dave has a few decades of guitar licks up his sleeve.

The Pour House offers a crowd of six, bartender and

Hack freelance critic included.  It’s a drizzly Monday.

Downtown Raleigh is dead, but Kat’s wide array

Sparkles from Bessie to Janice to Mae to Patsy back to Kat.

A hillbilly-folk-bluegrass-jazz band out of Buffalo!?

Sure enough.  Play on you merry minstrels.  You touch

Even the pool players in the back room.  Such magic

Reawakens voracious social urges; now, can you explain

How to say Yi Haw in hepcat, or snap fingers bluegrass style?

 

              SECU, 30 April 03

 

We meet at the State Employees Credit Union.

There’s a tax check to split, and we both

Have to sign it.  She gets out of her car all

Fidgety, and angry, but still helpful, as

A load of shoes, hammock, kids toys and

Tree screws gets delivered by yours truly.

 

She gripes to the teller, who asks what

Is wrong.  She says, “Oh nothing, it’s

Just a check I have to split with my ex;

He’s seeing another woman!”  I’ve never

Seen a teller crank out the cash so fast.

We walk out together and she says

 

“So this is it, one more check, the house

Closing, and then I’ll never see you again!?

Are you having a good life?  Now that

You see that you haven’t completely shattered

My heart, are you happier?”  But how can

I be happy when her emotions really are in tatters?

 

 

                       Simplicity

 

A low hum of pushed air gently flutters

Fica leaves, as wandering faces you couldn’t

Know remind you of friends from the past.

 

One woman is forty pounds heavier than Christie,

Some sophomore is just like Jeff, the hockey-beer-nut.

Today small diversions (an Auburn T-Shirt) are enough.

 

You’re three steps away from completing the required

Elements of a job application you’re afraid might lead

From one teaching job to another.  This simple life

 

May be all you need, but will it be enough to keep you

Alive, or will you stagnate, vacillating between fond

Memories and unrequited longings for a superstar life?

 

Self esteem, an elusive commodity here in the carols

Of Wake Technical Community College, floats like a mist,

But does not settle in every cubical.  You wait outside,

 

The last cool days of March remind you that you

Once did things:  skied, sailed, played bass and screamed

In an attempt to gain acceptance, just like these kids do.

 

Cultures clash then mingle intimately, spurred by hormones,

Lipstick and economics.  A low hum feels like energy

Wasted as a new memory of Chris Bush walks passed.

 

 

Sonya

 

Sonya pulls her cart around.

She knows where the treasure’s kept:

Hidden between decimal points

On shelves well-stocked with love and death.

 

But Sofia is far away,

Her pleasure changes, thus her aim

Is not to make escape an ease,

But to dive where dolphins stay.

 

To grab, with gusto, what life has,

While saving some for future fun.

She accepts, when asked, to look at art.

She heads the muse’s call, or poet’s stun.

 

Eyes wide open, she knows the world,

So will not have a boring day.

Nor does she watch TV at night,

No time between work and play.

 

She straddles language, smiles and drives

To have the best when she returns.

And now she knows how much it means

When poets write of her gentle ways.

 

This town is not Paris, no, not

Even Rome or bright L.A.

But after touring what we’ve made,

Creative juices will spray.

 

 

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.

 

 

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-evidentshe’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.

 

 

                    Suburbia

 

Squirrels pick at strawberries growing

Out of last year’s green.  Choking 90 degree

Heat makes lungs feel old, and it’s only

May.  Bill and Donna ignore your every

Move.  They’re Catholic and you just

Switched mates, which is a no-no in polite

Southern neighborhoods.  Of course

Their kids used to play with her kids.

You mean nothing to them now.

 

Kwang Suk trims lawn grass like ear hair.

You sweat the old-school rotary mower

Making sure to miss the loblolly pines that

Popped up in last year’s drought.  This?

This is suburban poetry:  bland, put-offish,

Garage-door-slams-in-your-face-ish.  These

Are the poems that have to live within the

Homeowners association rules:  no late parties,

No house full of roommates.  Just gardening.

 

 

                      The Brier Creek Shuffle

 

Jets lumber past the same three southern pines

That have taken up my view from behind the podium

For months now.  Too many incongruent facts fly out unfiltered.

The school bus of the rich wanders around a traffic circle.

Exemplary students may never know how much energy is wasted

In the name of corporate profit.  Sixty eight seconds pass:

Another flight heads out to drop suits off for a millionaire

Meeting around a cherry table with well-appointed do-dads.

 

The bag drop lectern is “Brier Creek Green,” a country

Club worthy of Arnie’s umbrella, fueled by greed

That is amply fed by outings and banquets and golf bets

And beer.  Entire neighborhoods of low-income workers

Depend on the silliness, the fun and games, the greens

That need mowing, the twelve-room brick mansions.

You’d consider yourself lucky to have a job here:

Loading up golf clubs is one step above slinging hash.

 

Today ugly rain clouds move in different directions,

Scaring some regulars back to their monitors.

Good luck and good manners get some folks fine features:

All-weather Jacuzzis, warm water bidets.  But if you’re

Not lucky, or lack social graces, you get to eke out a

Living here at the course.  Seven bucks an hour and the

Occasional tip.  Just find three or four roommates, keep the

Old junker running, father no children, and you’ll be OK.

 

 

             The Country Club Blues

 

The six-month bell clangs, meaning it’s time,

Once again, to change jobs.  Five-inch webs

Decorate low bushes on a foggy November morn.

Two birds twiddle and cheep, a low wind

Does little to cut humidity that moves from

Air to eyes to arms to pine straw, carefully

Laid by Jose and Eduardo so the upper crust

New-money gang can feel like they belong.

 

Condescension pervades.  Corvettes, 49-year olds

In Mustangs, perky blondes and tired moms

Converge to celebrate good fortune without so

Much as a thought about how their wealth

Comes at the cost of death, slave labor, land rapes

And energy more wisely saved for future generations.

No oneis compelled to share anything here at Brier

Creek, except business cards and perky blondes.

 

The twinge of loss floats inside a melody whistled

Bu one persistent warbler.  It’s penguin-walking

Ron, chaw-chewing Bo, Always-angry Moose,

Obnoxious-insane Erick, dapper Dan, generous Jay-dog,

Cajun Jeff,  Sonya the “beverage cart wonder of the world.”

It’s Jimbo and TJ, Vicki and Suzanne, and golf

Games never played, but imagined.  Lunch-bag Walt and

Dangerous Dave tee it up for the working class.  Fore left!

 

 

           Them That Got, Want More

 

The loops and interfaces of man collide in complex

Patterns the participants don’t know about.  Vicki exposes

Life-long disappointment with a slow gait and muted tones.

Bo hides resentment behind a Yuengling, false smile and

Nocturnal teeth grinding.  Bob over here seems adjusted

But few realize his penchant for self-abuse.  Pick a woman,

Almost any American woman, and you’ll find smoldering

Either super-aggressive back stabbing, or a powerful mistrust

Fueled by the made-for-men-only economy, laws, clubs, etc.

Testosterone, and the desire to act like you’ve got it, has

Put the Yang whammy on what was left of the Western Ying.

Latin scholars are left befuddled by the growing gap

Between feminist and feminine.  Why would the femmes

Take on male characteristics?  Sure, they work for a

Balanced society, but why do they give up their womanhood

To do so?  A Bob Lutz triple-loop explanation is called

For:  1)  Personal dynamics are twisted in the TV era.

2)      The system is so engrained, women have to try to

One-up the Dicks at their own game . 3) Already owning

Sixty percent of the American Pie, the gals want more.

 

 

             This New Angel

 

She laughs, says “God bless you,” then

Flaps the bedspread to clear the air,

Or at least push the offending gas away.

 

She changes into shorts and shirt, cooks rice,

Cuts crabmeat and pulls a tiny sushi mat

From the freezer to roll up lunch.

 

She implores her sister’s kids to enjoy the game,

Study hard, and to continue playing violin.

She dances as her niece plays a minuet.

 

She drags her fiance’ to golf each week,

But when he finds old friends she

Stays home to let him play with the boys.

 

She puts his art and writing above her own.

She helps him feel whole again.

She trades this circuit for a future home.

 

Her family sends advice procured from the

Ancient wisdom of shaman.  She sneaks the

Excellence they expect into daily conversations.

 

She waits to see the path that opens doors,

Then strides through, expecting friends to follow.

She knows how to stay in love with him.

 

 

Three Haiku, Pour House, 3 November 2003

The death two-step hits;

collateral damage; Pour House

blues float.  Hot Monday.

Manifestations

surface, gurgle, smatter lost

souls. Chelle dreams again.

Hartman right?  Or some

Painter’s daughter wondering

if this Matt is right.

 

 

Up, Out and Away

 

Eyes penetrate crystals that shine tiny specks

in sand thrown on wood then painted by some

lost soul seeking refuge on Bald Head Island.

Seventy-degree weather lets him rest long

enough to throw colors and nature together.

What you see in the gallery is psychosis converted.

Ever since Vincent, a really good story can change

anything into art, and there’s something about this

guy’s reckless abandon that also produces some

meaningful moments in a post-Pollack way.

 

Smiles of relief mask years of frustration as one

Minor evening yields two types of match.  One

has a wall that matches a size, the other is

deeply moved and bugs the owner about how

to contact the artist.  Upon contact, the artist

walks away from his soul-mate, sells his old

house, teaches a year in Korea, returns to

no fanfare, no critics, no family, no fun.

But this is to be expected in a life led by

heart-yanks, id, and those demanding colors.

 

 

Varada* Scores

 

Virtuous schoolgirl samples a song,

Applies light blue eye shadow,

Rearranges her schedule, which is

Already packed, to squeeze violin into a

Daily routine that demands constant

Attention to the details of becoming whoever she is.

 

Somehow, like magic, she perceives the

Cravings of freshman, full-fantasy,

Organically signaling, via hormonal mind-spores,

Rambunctious desires, that, to her

Emit, causing flutters then shockwaves which

Scorch awesome new tremors she’s been longing to feel.

 

*Vaciclav Varada plays ice hockey for the Ottawa Senators.

He started his North American career in Rochester, and played

in Buffalo for nine years before being traded to Ottawa in 2002.

 

 

            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?

 

 

       We’ve Said Our Peace

 

We’re mollified and marginalized,

Held without Habeas Corpus,

Travelling 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?

 

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

 

 

    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.

 

            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 Frida 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.

 

 

                  Easy Change

 

She is playing a computer game called Spider.

When did cooking food go from fun to horror?

After ten days Mom makes loose scrambled eggs

For my goo-bye meal, but will she make enough

To eat now that she is back cooking for one?

 

Now that she has time to do whatever she wants,

Why won’t she step away from Spider and enjoy?

I’m surrounded by friends who need smart advice

More than I do.  I think I have helped them, but am

Stumped about how to inspire Mom to live fuller.

 

Physical borders are broken by better brains,

But when decades of sadness prevents you

From having fun, it’s time for an attitude change.

London broil, your way to broaden smiles,

Shrimp cocktail at sunset, life’s joy awaits.  Grab it.

 

 

                February Sonnet

 

Bishop’s armadillo nips at Eliot’s cats,

Natalie sits and watches as Anais takes a nap.

Alice serves us brownies, Ellis dreams of zero

Madonna dances cowboys, Brittany’s her hero.

 

Recurring themes now frighten, TV over books

Artistic verve forsaken, your Neilsen is how you look.

Varuca Salt is sprinkled, Ricci pops a gourd.

Dean expanded shout-out, voters already bored.

 

Brocade river poems resound off valley walls.

Power has the power to grab freedom by the balls.

Nicole returns to smile and pine at her mountain farm,

Renee says “hey” they find a way to flourish arm in arm.

 

Jade palace shimmers in the winter sun,

Riches pile on poverty, the battle’s never won.

 

 

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.

 

 

       Oakland Police Department

 

The verdict in Oakland proves once again that

lawless thugs serve on the force and in the box.

Brutality isn’t just a club to the head or planted drugs,

it also involves judges who move trials and jurors

who play the racist trump card, which finishes fates

and throws you in jail; or lets off the cops who started

the mess, dressed in blue, but clansmen at heart.


 

         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.

 

 

The Music of Cary NC, March 2004

 

Salmon-barked Sycamore

young thin-branched wonder

fronts lush shiny bushes.

Violin lesson echoes

past purple petunias.

Rhododendrons flourish

between panes and pines.

Bellamy Palethorp reports an

economic up-tick while noting

massive job losses.  The

profit made from outsourcing

also yields two million jobs lost.

No riots yet, longshoreman!

Hot gasses rain, terror

spreads, tulips shake,

Rebe trots, happy to soon

start guitar, not concerned

about any potential upheavals.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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