Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On the Porch

On the porch the sunshine pours into me
like a bowl of mom’s butternut squash soup
so hot the baby blue table turns white
where scented steam clumps or streaks across but
freezes long enough like a memory.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Emotional Overhaul

How do you overhaul
A mangled self severed
From the fury of libido
Strangling agency
Of ego?

The conscious commander’s left
Those silent bones
Splayed out on the divan
You can see inside
Where the troops have run amok:

Rage in clashes with grief
Paranoia shooting in the chest
Shame digging itself in the rocks
Despair hurling bolts up the clouds
The soul’s powerless but to watch....

How do you into this butchered land
Anesthetize the guarded bounds
Sharpen the sterilized words
Suture these psychic cracks?
How will you doctor


Monday, July 17, 2017

I Hear Frogs Croak

A South African lion thundered, roared
at me: Stop! I shall be devouring you!
Shuddering, "When?" I asked the mighty king.
The fiend bellowed: It will be a surprise,
like one's birthday bash…or a fatal stroke.

Oh please have mercy on me, I implored,
sobbing: Is there anything I can do?
The big cat growled back, Not a single thing
can save you, so get up and wipe your eyes,
you look pathetic…man is such a joke.

I stood up slowly—though my tears still poured,
my bones convulsing with despair, anew.
Meanwhile a breeze, perfumed with blooming spring,
passed by, birds sang as sun began to rise,
and spill the warmth of that, that runny yolk.

But what if I kill you, you godless lord,
or end myself, before you could get to?
I’m immortal, the beast began to sing,
and second, as for wooing your demise,
go on, I even lend you my own cloak.

And then the jungle's king retired toward
a red bush, after bidding me adieu.
That mamba hangs as though a tail or string
from some dead-rat tree; here slime lily lies:
split white petals…but those are frogs that croak.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

To Kiarostami

Were you the one driving us sir,
alone, and one by one asking bury you
right there—there!—by that barren sign?
Did you desire to heal, seeking
to find in our refusals lines
that lead to roots, curing you too?
Of what, tell me, your own despair?
Perhaps you were the passenger
who rode with us, the audience—
to whom cinema's for hiding
from self, who hope to find a friend
who'd stop a bit to throw a rope.
But what's the need for this pretense?
I too had seen me in your lens.
Abbas, confess though, was that you?
If not then what are you here for,
close-up or sound take only?  Hope
celestial winds would carry you
to roots at home—or at a friend's....

*Abbas Kiarostami, the world-renowned Iranian filmmaker, passed away exactly a year ago, on July 4, 2016.  He directed, among others, the Palme d'Or-winning "A Taste of Cherry" (referenced throughout my poem), a movie about a suicidal person driving around and asking others that should he go through with it, if they'd be willing to bury him.  I also make passing references to three of his other films, "Where Is the Friend's Home?", "Close-Up", and "The Wind Will Carry Us."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Life's Monorail

Is there a chance the track could bend?
A chance our fates have long been penned?
A chance that hearts would fail to mend?
A chance our meanings won't transcend?
A chance our lives will not extend?
A chance our souls will not ascend?
A chance we've failed to comprehend?
A chance this really is the end?
Is there a chance, my Hindu friend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Land of the Dying and the Dead

Land of the dying and the dead:
Dead men in holes; undead inside
concrete sepulchres, speeding tombs,
gold mausoleums, paper vaults....

Monday, June 12, 2017

Anxiety's Tightrope

No matter what there is always a door
and a window or two and walls and floor
and all around you things that you can name
even those times they're out waging a war.

No matter what you would still sense your shirt
or your jacket or socks or pants or skirt
to see or touch or hear its rustling sound
or smell the sweat there or cologne or dirt

No matter what the selfless breath moves through
your body back and forth each time anew
and somewhere far the wind gives life to waves
which come crashing against the shore of you

No matter what there's always boundless hope
for new resources and more ways to cope
and not just cope but be happy and grow
and fly on love beyond your life's tightrope


When I walk by the trampled hyacinths
I try to right the flowers that been wronged
When life walks by trampling you underfoot
You find yourself affirmed in little things.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Simpsons Song

As Professor John Frink says, Let
the commencing beginulate,
so starting with Homer's foe, let's begin:
We know where Frank Grimes was livin',
in a room above a bowling alley...
and below another bowling alley.
But did you know, that mouse, Bitey,
spent time in Monorail's closet nightly?

The show's animals that rhyme with Bitey:
Pinchy, Stampy, Blinky, Mr. Teeny,
Yeti, Itchy and Scratchy...Poochie!
There are exceptions like Lisa's pony
Princess, Snowball, Loch Ness Monster,
Plopper, Anastasia (the white tiger
owned by lion tamers, Ernst and Gunter),
Jub-Jub, Mojo...Santa's Little Helper.

But it's not just animals: Think Maggie,
Fat Tony, not Bill but Marty, Barney,
not Selma but Patty, Lenny,
and not Chief Wiggum or Lou but Eddie,
Mayor Quimby, Luigi, Sherri
and Terri, Bleeding Gums Murphy,
Charlie, Krusty, and Hyman Krustofski,
Mary Bailey, that Crazy Cat Lady,
Jasper Beardly, and Groundskeeper Willie
who got the "shinning"—but he did...really!

Some names though end in "man" like Hans Moleman,
Bumblebee Man, Duffman, Radioactive Man,
Kent Brockman, and Crazy Old Jewish Man.
But not quite, the one-armed Herman Hermann.

Names, characters...but there's a third factor:
It's about how good is the voice actor:
Now Roger Meyers was voiced by Rocco;
While Shearer did the bus driver Otto,
the school music teacher Dewey Largo,
and that shocking Dr. Marvin Monroe!
Pam Hayden did that bully named Jimbo;
Castellaneta, Guy Incognito;
and one of my favorites on the show
by the guest voice Al Brooks, Hank Scorpio!

But speaking of guest voices, John Waters,
he did not do Waylon Smithers,
but did his date, a guy named John
(scorned by Homer who worried for his son,
and despite that still adored by his wife,
he changed Homer's mind by saving his life).

The characters voiced by Azaria:
Moe, Cletus, Dr. Nick Riviera,
Chase or Pyro, Disco Stu, Akira,
Kirk Van Houten...and, well, Boobarella!

Fine, I was joking about that, as she
was voiced by Tress MacNeille, and Lunchlady
Doris too, though Doris Grau was the one
who did it, though sadly now she is gone.
The late Phil Hartman and Marcia Wallace
did their roles very well...almost flawless.
No longer here, their achievements endure:
Edna Krabappel, Hutz and Troy McClure...

The show features every faith and color:
The black Dr. Hibbert and Judge Snyder,
The Christian Ned Flanders and Tim Lovejoy,
The Jewish Krusty the Clown, Dolph, and oy
that wealthy and conceited Artie Ziff
who tried to force himself on Marge—as if!
The "miscellaneous" Apu
and Manjula...or rather called "Hindu",
Cookie Kwan of the west side who's Asian;
Richard Gere, of Buddhist persuasion,
as are Lenny, Carl, and Lisa, while Moe
is a snake-handler which means...I don't know.

At the end of the day you must relate
to the characters, be it love or hate.
So, be it Ling or Wolfcastle, one's joy
comes from how you feel for, say, Fallout Boy

I don't feel much for Nelson Muntz or Snake,
but for Milhouse whom Bart can never shake
and for Patches, Poor Violet, I do,
for pale Wendell, even Martin too.
Ralph who called Miss Hoover mommy, ate paste,
and said "burning" when describing the taste
of poison berries, is "learnding", said so,
to Super Nintendo Chalmers.  Although
it is sure quite hard to believe,  when he
still does call a rat a pointy kitty!

Of Homer's immediate family,
I like Herbert, Abe, Mona, not Abbie.
I don't know why but I like Arnie Pye
flying high in the sky. Comic Book Guy
too, the definition of a winner,
so sexy in bed with Agnes Skinner.
The abused Sideshow Bob and Sideshow Mel
despite the former's penchant for eevell,
get some sympathy from me; and Old Gil,
and Cecil, even Kodos and Kang will.
The Rich Texan, C. Montogmery Burns,
which of these two ruthless men earns
our love and liking more than hate instead?
A noble spirit, Jebediah said
embiggens the smallest man.  Right or wrong,
fine words with which to end my Simpsons song.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

First Visit

I know the unyielding nature of the beast,
its sticky and yet far too slippery texture,
made more challenging by the disguises it wears.
Some find themselves awakened to nihilistic truths, others
find sleep every hour a siren song impossible to resist,
and some like the young woman here today
so detached from her own body by these layers of fat,
has no suspicions at all that that she—she—is alive,
but I suspect, no I’m sure, that she is, somewhere
in there screaming in the clutches of the beast.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


The crystal bowl full of cherries
sat proudly right in the center
of the walnut coffee table.
Handsome men in expensive suits
and their beautiful ladies
sat in grand chairs with legs of gold,
while I felt lost among adults,
standing there eyeing the cherries.
I leaned forward and suddenly
a dozen smug eyes fixed on me
dissecting all my graceless moves
as I reached into the tangled
stems of that rich cherry jungle.
So with no time to think I picked
the ripest and juiciest one,
when all at once a loud chorus
shouted at me and I sat down,
ashamed of having mistaken
artificial fruit for real ones.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Empire of Fire

Falling asleep by the dying flames
of a faux-stone fireplace,
I found myself inside an empire
of fire, of faceless soldiers in flight,
the clashing embers above the ashes,
raging meteor showers, shooting lights,
sonorous lamentations in the air
above where ashen parents lie,
and I heard peaking hollers
of children burning with desire
to join the ranks of fighters in the night.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock….
Old Adams and Eves on the ageless rock
awash in oceans that spit shells and muck.
The shrinking Earth can never run nor walk
as wilful living do around the clock,
so it must spin and spin as timeless talk.
It’s late at night, I’m counting sheep, a knock,
it's wind? I thought of Keats’s sweet hemlock.
And sleep has fled.  A tick…though not a tock.
My kitten's, on the windowsill yawning
enframed by stars where no human race is,
no Eliot's cat, one who could disconnect
nothing from nothing. Sleepy…nothing...tock.

The Lab

We're waiting to hear our numbers.
Later we brace ourselves for stings.
I saw mine smacking its thin lips,
Looking like a fat greedy fly.
All around I see perspiring bodies
That fear how they'll be graded
Under judging microscopes shortly.
There never is an essay portion,
Defending your brokenness.
This feels like a beauty contest,
No chance for old hearts and livers.
The red ink is most unforgiving:
Fix these and come back again,
Say the numbers looking very grim.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Pieces of Me

Some were left behind like the ones smeared on
backs of teachers' heavy hands in autumn.
Some where lost like the ones in red petals
of those tulips risen among the rocks,
my childhood springs in the construction sites.
And between cars beneath mulberry trees
lining the back alleys, in the presence
of us all playing ball in late July.
In Panchatantra, and Jules Verne's fancies,
in goodnight kisses every single night….
But now I stand a  porous skin only
wrapped around absence that festers and spreads
a nameless disease that tears through the past.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Earthly Carnival

I revel in repetition, I do,
like revolving around the lovely sun.
What Earthly carnival of life, these pine
valleys, these rural grasslands, rolling plains,
velvety rivers, groves of olive, beds
of wildflowers, these woods where lions roar.
This Ferris wheel of soil contains souls too—
in wrinkling skin, pumping their failing hearts,
who hold on tight as Earth circles and spins,
and sun takes in the sights and smiles once more....

Thursday, April 27, 2017

To the Thief

I'll be brief.
This, to the thief
who stole—to my grief—
my Kobe beef
and ate it here
guzzling my beer
with no fear
that we will hear:
Your worse crime
was adding the lime
and all my thyme!
Hope you do time!


Think Belgian chocolate, caramel, fudge,
pomegranate pistachio, mango-peach....
Think ice cream melting and a stranger's touch,
think taste of salted skin, a moonlit beach
that licks the foamy whites of ocean's reach,
a breeze perfumed with rotting kelp and fish.
Think waking cold and, don't think!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At Last to Feel Regret for Having Killed

At last to feel regret for having killed
myself, flesh and soul, systematically
over the years, though slowly and with care;
to peel that onion, drill through the numbness,
discovering jagged fossils of rage;
with surgical precision discharging
the ancient grief blocked by congested pain;
to find the core of self-flagellation
concealed within a fog, now lifting, rain
soaking my face, and bless me, thus washing
away the guilt and loss, dissolve their chain.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Childhood's Monsters

Beneath my childhood bed myriad monsters
lurked nightly in darkness, hidden horrors....
Oh how simple was life for the young me,
life's monsters confined in space and in time.
Mushrooming they've colonized every inch
of my insides now, of the world out there,
blending in when need be, profess honor,
ones that look like me, ones in modest robes,
in Kiton suits, fatigues, dirty tatters...
some even capes!  Who to trust when I've known
monstrous hearts in some, some their monstrous brains?
But monsters live too inside chance and fate,
deep in the deafening hush of the world
where air, with or without you, keeps its form,
the sun's forever sun and the moon moon,
childhood's monsters gulped as if breaths in storm.

Do What You Love

Looking back at me, the slight counselor,
her head framed by thick shelves of dusty tomes,
strands of her grey hair stuck to her collar,
her crinkled dirty-blue eyes twitching still,
too dim to guide my heart’s drifting vessel,
said to me, “Do what you love,” in a tone
as though coming from bottom of a well,
not a shout, but an echoless whisper
of love that lives only to speak these words,
for when it stops it’ll recall the thirst,
heart afloat in ocean of salty tears.
So she drank her coffee and asked, Who’s next?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Two Elevenies (Sentence and Chaos)

Demands order
Inside the bars
Of consciousness and universe
Destabilizes perceptions
Here and there
No there and here

Last War

Entangled roots
And barren tongues
A ground with bounds
Buried in soot
Corpses unsung
Gaspings of young
As grudge is crowned
Failings compound
The selves construed
Get gutted good

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Fable (The Proud Eagle)

An eagle, famous, glorious and proud,
majestically descended down toward
the water, caught a common carp, between
colossal claws, but then before it climbed
toward its kingly nest high on the peak,
a voice had spoke, “Sad you’ve settled for me.
You whose dignified name would chill the sharks.”
Offended now but not finding the carp
worthy of answer, thus choosing instead
to drop the carp, go on seeking to find
a carp worthy of filling such gizzard.
It circled ‘round a few times till it found
a bigger carp, and caught it in its claws,
just perfect for a proud respected king.
But soon the mumbles came, “Consume me fast,
you bird whose name had truly scared me once,
so others won’t witness such disgrace,
ruler of skies once now here eating this!”
And so the bald eagle circled again,
and struggling harder with the latest one,
each bigger and heavier than the last,
while growing hungrier, and much fatigued.
At last in picking up the biggest carp,
it lost control and sank into the sea,
unwilling to let go and so became
a mess of rotting fat without a name,
and food for worms that laughed at vanity.
There’s lesson in this if you want to hear:
Let go of pride that weighs you down to death.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Growing Tomatoes (a georgic)

To grow tomatoes one needs fertilize the soil
Five pounds per hundred square feet, five pounds of limestone,
then mix them into the top layer of the soil.
Choose robust dark-green seedlings only, and choose short.
Plant in rows four feet apart.  Don't plant when it's cold,
they're killed by frost, when it's 32ยบ or below.
They need an inch of water a week, and eight hours
of sun each day.  You can apply mulch to control
the weeds.  Farmers, don't forget to pray for showers
and praise the sun and the moon and the blameless soul
of the universe so that your plants grow in full.

The Wastebasket

A black colored wire mesh basket—
Inside which some words on crumpled
pages I’d forced into arranged
marriage of rhyme and rhythm, jump
now for joy though it’s hard to see
their friends crossed, some torn to pieces,
thus they taste bittersweet freedom,
saved from the ever scheming mind
of I the struggling poet—sits
in the corner next to my desk
across from the open closet,
where I keep stacks of lined paper
and many dozens of black pens,
and holds words prisoners, those words
who refused my orders and rules,
rejected my concepts and plans,
endured my threats and abuses,
were free at last to simply be.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


He seemed, well, almost good today.
Toivo, you can't get your hopes up.
Yes, but his face wasn't sallow—
Is that one yours?  I take mine black.
Yes.  No, this one; with two sugars.
The doctor though was such a prick.
They love being told what to do.
He's my only child!  Just because—
Don't say the word Kukka, please don't.
I think your coffee's getting cold.
Rest assured I will sue the guy.
Kick him, myself I'll knock him out!
No need, I will do everything—
A mom's knuckles can beat blind courts.
I hope his surgery goes well.
He's a boxer!  I need a smoke.
I need air too...stuffy in here.
Don't forget your coffee, let me—
Oh, do you see that leaf in front?
The scarlet one?  One on the car?
Yes, Del's lips used to be that red
Where's my smoke?  They will be, Toivo.