Category Archives: Poetry

Weddings


Some weddings are brief
Some last all day
My favorite is
When I don’t have to pay.

Weddings are:
Complicated
Serpentine
Existential.

One of the few social occasions
Where you are obliged
To confront
Your family.
(Funerals are another.)

Of course,
The couple can always elope
Or not get married.
(“Shack up” or “Live in sin.”)

There’s no such thing as a
small wedding.

If you decide to
“tie the knot”
You invite your entire family
Even Uncle Bud who drinks way too much
or Leaping Lena who “sleeps around.”

Then you have to decide who sits where
What food to serve.
What kind of ceremony.
Should there be music
Who is going to pay for it all.

My favorite ceremony:
Everyone I know attends
Outdoors in good weather
Sit on ground
Wonderful food and drink served by robots
Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads
Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen play
Desmond Tutu officiates
My children pay.

La Bulle

While I sat at my desk searching for artistic vision
A gust of whimsy lifted me up out of my senior routine
As if I were a wayward party balloon.

I hovered above my house
Slightly to the left of the solar panels.

To the west, a glimmering sliver of the Pacific
A tonsure of fog.
Cattle ranches separated by
Oak-dense canyons.
Around me redwood groves
the green hills of Occidental.
To the east, vineyards
Organic farms.
The dreaded strip malls of Petaluma.

Sanctuary
Unified by music and poetry.

Tabula Rasa


My poetry brain is empty.
Can I have a little help please?
Just answer these questions.

“Who is the first person you would invite to your (ideal) dinner party?”
“A bad place to take a first date.”
“Name the eleventh commandment.”
“How do we know God is a woman?”
“What’s the first thing you will do when you become President?”

“I dreamt I walked into a party wearing a ___.”
“I got a new filling and now I hear ___ all the time.”
“My dog ate my ______.”
“Don’t move, that’s a _______.”
“For every ___ there are seven ____.”

“Someone has to tell you this: ____.”
“I know I was speeding officer but _____.”
“I’ve been praying for ____ to show up.”
“I may look ___ but here’s what you should know about me: ______.”
“I know Susie and I are naked, but there’s a simple explanation ___”

Instruction Manual

Something broke.
Now
I can’t find
My instruction manual.

I remember
Leaving it
In my bottom desk drawer
Amongst the other manuals.

It’s not there.
However, I did find
Instructions for my
Dust buster.

I’m sure my mother
Referred to my manual;
She was always attempting to
Fix me.

The manual recommended:
Clean underwear
Short hair
Brushed teeth
Erect posture
Fixed smile
Closed mouth
Unblinking subservience.

Perhaps I lost my manual
During the sixties.
When my hair grew long, and
I turned to the dark side.

Nonetheless
I’m positive I had it
When I moved to Occidental
Eager to fit in.

Now something is broken
I’m bekloppt, and
Sure could use
My instruction manual.

My kids say:
“Locate your manual in the cloud.”
That requires a serial number
Which I can’t find.

There’s always prayer
But, after all these years,
My faith is fallow
Perhaps that’s what’s broken.

Ireland

1. The Island

As the sun kissed the rain-slick Irish hills
And the mist rose off Bantry Bay
I cried
From the joy of being present
At the birth of life.

2. The Music

What is the measure of a man?
Perhaps, his ability to sing
At the local pub.

An Irish bard named Joyce
Possessed a magnificent voice
When full of the bubblin’
His songs lifted Dublin
Until he made an unfortunate choice.

“At a key juncture in 1904, James Joyce almost won the most prestigious music competition in Ireland.. The judge Luigi Denza… was so impressed with his singing that he was prepared to give Joyce the gold medal—until the young author refused to participate in the sight-singing part of the event.” Joyce then left Ireland.

3. The People

“It doesn’t matter what the topic is, any self-respective Irish person will be able to talk about it and at a rapid pace. So whether it is the taxi driver or just someone you’ve stopped to ask directions, don’t expect it to be a quick conversation.” Guidebook

There was a lass from Cork
Whose tongue was shaped like a fork
Her spoken word
Was sure to be heard
Delivered with unusual torque.

“It is a much cleverer thing to talk nonsense than to listen to it.”
Oscar Wilde

Summer Rain

Living in a tacky tract house
On the mean streets of Costa Mesa
Celebrated Fridays with a party
Our backyard a sea of faces.

I provided beer and music
Ray Charles and Big Joe Turner
Nate purloined t-bones
And fired up the burner.

Attracted a raucous crowd
Everyone brought stuff
Never charged a penny
Always had enough.

On a warm summer day
Friends brought their band
Everyone was dancing
On our grass, dirt, and sand.

I was sashaying all alone
Feeling’ rather grand
When Kate showed up
Took me by the hand.

I’d seen her around
Thought she was with Eddie
Now she floated in my arms
Making me her steady.

We cavorted into the night
Got sprinkled in summer rain
Not a thing to lose
A whole world to gain.

My life might have ended then
An ecstatic blaze of glory
The stuff of So Cal legend
A romantic heartthrob story.

But as we all know
Life grinds on and on
We don’t get to choose
The exit where we’re gone.

I don’t know where Kate is now
lost touch in ninety-two
Too bad it didn’t work out
As we each found someone new.

But I’ll treasure that moment
Joy wrapped around some pain
Romance at the backyard barbecue
Dancing in summer rain.

Bird (7 variations)

1.

2. Down in the valley,
A red bird sings to me,
Recallin’ my true love,
Far away in Tennessee.

3.

https://secondhandsongs.com/work/153212

4.Crisp winter morning
Foraging goldfinch
Warms my heart.

5.

6.WAITING FOR BIRD

The stage is bare. An actor enters, dressed as a blackberry bush, and stands at stage left.
Another actor, dressed as a blue jay, enters from stage right.

Jay: [Walks to bush and begins to sample berries]

Bush: Go away. I’m saving my fruit for someone special.

[Curtain falls]

7. “The program is reportedly codenamed ‘Dove’ and run by Song Bifeng, a professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an…The bird-like drones mimic the flapping wings of a real bird using a pair of crank-rockers driven by an electric motor. Each drone has a high-definition camera, flight control system and a data link with satellite communication capability.”

Goin’ Down Slow

“I have had my fun
If I don’t get well no mo
You know my health is failin’
And I am goin’ down slow.”
Going Down Slow (1941) by St. Louis Jimmy Oden

I am tired
Of this enduring pandemic
Tired of being cautious
Tired of dissonant polemic.

They say life is a grindstone
Wears you down by degrees
Drains your resolve and vigor
Chops you off at the knees.

Each day one thousand new cases
The sickest refused the jab
They flood our hospitals
Leaving us to pay the tab.

How long will this go on
Is what I want to know
Our society is failin’
We’re goin’ down slow.

Good Riddance

2021, a dreadful year
Not to be lamented
365 days of Covid fear
Politics demented
Reality tormented.

Lucky to escape alive
Fortunate to stay sane
In some regards, to thrive
Blessed to keep my brain
Charmed to miss the pain.

Our hopes for 2022
Something old
Something new
Become more bold
Go for the gold.

Treasure family and friends
Open to more love
The chance to make amends
The comfort thereof
Instead of hawk, the dove.

So, what did we learn?
Always the key question
Bridges not to burn
Lighten our possession(s)
Eschew micro aggressions(s).

And now for resolutions:
Number one is travel
Trust there will be solutions
Arrangements won’t unravel
Omicron just a cavil.

Number two is art
More music and more plays
Lyrics conveying heart
Bringing an upward gaze
On occasion, a clever phrase.

Number three is politics
Return to the barricades
Fight their dirty tricks
Support progressive crusades
Be a jack-of-all-trades.

Goodbye and good riddance
Ghastly 2021
Email the remittance
Happy you are done
Now let’s have fun.

Two Coyotes

Two coyotes near the house
One taking a nap in the lower meadow
The other hunting for food.

Healthy coyotes
Larger than a fox
Smaller than a wolf.

Coyote symbolizes mental growth
Strength for dealing with stress.

For the indigenous
Coyote is the holy trickster.

For our Aussie, Belle,
Coyote is intruder
A stimulant for hyper vigilance
an excuse to go apeshit.

Time (Marches On)

The older I get
The more refined
My sense of time.

When I was young
I drifted down a broad road
Composed of sunshine and flowers.

Now I trudge
Along a rainswept path
Littered with detritus.

Have my senses eroded
or been sharpened?
Am I more realistic
or muted by pessimism?

I drove to Sebastopol listening to the radio
Tom Petty, Muddy Waters, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia..
“They’re all dead”
I realized

“What if I live long enough
that no one remembers
John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday…”
Sigh.

“Fie on them”
I said — like my grandfather
“If that happens
They don’t deserve my company.”

18 Worries

I’m worried about fires.
Fortunately, it just rained.

I’m worried about getting old.
You still look young to me.

I’m worried that I keep forgetting things.
Nonetheless, you can remember what you wore to the Saperstein’s party, five years ago.

I’m worried that I’m not as spiritual as I was.
You still hunger for peace and justice.

I’m worried that we will run out of water.
The well is okay and it just rained.

I’m worried that you will die before me.
Our marriage contract says we go together.

I’m worried that my children don’t get along.
That’s because they are half French.

I’m worried that we will lose our Democracy.
They still need us on the barricades.

I’m worried about climate change.
Turns out Al Gore was right.

I’m worried that I’ll get dementia, like my sister.
You’re not a bit like your sister.

I’m worried that I’m getting “old lady” skin.
You still look young to me.

I’m worried that all my friends are going away.
Some are; but _____ and _______ are still here.

I’m worried that I’m not reading serious books.
What about “Lust on the Pecos?”

I’m worried that we’re not going to be able to go to Paris.
There’s always Petaluma.

I’m worried that Republicans are taking away the right to vote.
They still need us on the barricades.

I’m worried that  the news is all bad.
Turn up the Bruce Springsteen channel.

I’m worried that we’re not eating enough fresh vegetables.
There’s always chard.

I’m worried that we don’t talk enough.
Hmm. I’m worried that you’re worried.