In the end we left things undone.
The piano player drove slowly home.

We did not sing the final refrain.
We did not read one last poem

to the ring of guitar strings.
So many threads

bound one heart to many.
In the end we were practical.

How can you bury a life
and be home before suppertime?

Photo Lissa Arroyo
Final line borrowed from the novel “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea




When I say wooden -
I mean cedar chests, hemlock crates,
hickory axe handles, oak masts -
when I say wooden
can you feel your hand
brush an unfinished pine shelf,
silky, a patch of amber resin
catching your fingertips?
Once living, still fulfilling
duties as assigned
until one day, repairs failing,
recommissioned first
a child’s bird house,
then kindling, finally,
festive home
for carpenter ants fungi.

I mean neither façade
nor empty expression;
I mean, like wood,
not living and not dead –
a life owing its persistence
to its essence.

By essence
I do not mean something left
in sawdust incense,
on the dull edges
of files and blades,
on worn sandpaper
and calloused hands:
Essence is not a life's residue.
When I say essence
I mean a life's means and mode:
I mean the grit that dulls the blade
to be remade
to live another way
to live another day.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

We’re not to blame if we forget
how nearly everything
looks like our dark night sky,
a vast blue-black pool,
color-drained darkness,
save the familiar silver disc afloat
in our light-blushed river,
pin-pricks and smudges,
luminous creatures of our night.
We creatures of day are easily fooled.
No wonder: even in darkest night
we dream color-stained dreams
until we are brushed awake
by the soft light of dawn.

A Still Life

A poem begun years ago, edited recently, I set it free today.



Eternity smothers this one day.

This day devours every hour.

I taste each minute along my way;

still, eternity smothers this one day.

Of the beauties that bloom today,

I savor the lowest flower.

Though eternity smothers this one day,

today I devour, every hour.



 I need time
more time

I am here
to write the story
of the world in my glass –
fruit, vine, roots
soil, sun, rain
soft starlight,
to write my story
to dance this fierce dance.

To tell
a story everlasting
I need time.



Take all of my winters
but leave my first
frost on the pane
sting in the air
no turning back
snowfall at dawn day.
More than stillness
of being
I want the beauty
of becoming.
Quirks and Quarks

The Batspit Chronicle: Jan 15, 2021

I blurted profanity that rhymes with duck poo at a person I see on my regular walks.

The guy who has been working overtime to save my soul ever since I told him my church congregation, who knows about my condition, who tells me he has stepped up his prayers for me, who asked if I am even a teeny bit better, to which I replied Nope. My condition is progressive and my future course is unpredictable.

The guy who then pointed at the SKY and told me only God knows my future and a miracle will happen.

The guy whose face betrayed confusion with my two precisely chosen words (I’m a poet!) or that his evidently crappy prayers haven’t been working.

I am certain he is not confused by the incoherent world he has conjured, in which he knows a miracle will happen, though only God knows my future.

A world in which God gave us brains that we are shamed into not using, a world in which an omniscient, omnipotent, and pretty good God permits our brains to be smashed to smithereens.

So, I think I blurted Fuck You. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”


I Could Say: A Poem Is More Than Meets The Eye

The editors at The Cortland Review saw something in my poem, “I Could Say” and they published it in November 2015.

[Poem text is in the photo]

Today, I think the poem is strange, I do not like it, and I don’t think it’s very good poetry. Reading this poem conjures memories and emotions associated with my writing of the poem. Unpleasant, disturbing emotions.

I was very ill, living with a massive, destructive brain tumor, only weeks before diagnosis and surgery.

My notes tell me I had become obsessed with Sappho, and I tried to adapt Sapphic stanza and meter here. I even obsessed using long vowels at the stresses and short vowels at unstressed syllables. I don’t know why I did that. I mean, I worked the poem instead of eating, talking, bathing, sleeping. I was possessed by frightening drive and detachment. Writing was not comforting; writing this poem made me feel desperate and ill.

This describes a fairly benign episode of my otherwise terrifying insanity in summer 2015, when my brain tumor had begun noticeably crushing my neurons and blood vessels.

The parlor of my cerebrum where Sappho would frolic is today an untidy mudroom. Cleared of the big-ass mass, there’s neuro-crap strewn about, surgical and radiation damage, and a wee tumor has regrown. Could it be that Sappho’s cousin Dementia has moved in? That’s kind of funny, no? I’m laughing at it and you can, too.


Desert Litany

Desert Litany

In spite of your thirst
you gave up prayer
and wept
bowed your head
lowered your hands
put down hope
took up despair

And in despair you envied prickly pear
growing gray by day, invisible each night
or sandstone’s insensible dementia

And erased every tear
stifled hope’s breath
forgot hurt’s bite

Until one warbling figure of wren-flight
with song-sweet-spit-of-flame
claimed his domain

And released tear’s sting
set hope’s hook
hammered hurt’s spike

Until raised hands surrendered
and folded round bird, song,
trembling heart.