Category Archives: Poetry

Circe on the Beach


Falling
out of sleep into the
sea.
Flailing.
Dragged down by clothes and
current.
Choking.

Swimming.
Buffeted by waves and
logs.
Tumbling
Swept along by tide and
surf.

Scrambling
Across debris and
rocks.
Crawling
over sand.

Waking
on a vast beach.

Standing.

A procession approaches:
A stately woman
guarded by lions and
wolves.

Waiting.

This is my island.”
Cats sniff me
Beasts lick my legs.

Bowing.

Welcome to Aiaia.”

The Ballad of MaryLu


[Sung to the tune “Big John.”]

In the Occidental morning
She’d be out walking
You could hear for miles
The sound of her talking.
Mary Lu

Perhaps she came from Frisco
Some said Mill Valley
You could hear her coming
Down each lane and alley.
Mary Lu

Not too tall
Built like a welder
She sure did hate
Becoming an elder.
Mary Lu
Big bad, Mary lu.

Painted a lot
Sometimes she’d dance
Used to write poems
About love and romance.
Mary Lu.

Then came the troubles
No one seen ’em coming
Kept her up at night
Interfered with her plumbing.
Mary Lu.

“We gotta get out”
She said to her mate
“Stick around too long
We’re tempting bad fate.”
Marylu
Big bad, Marylu.

They sold everything
And hit the trail
Ignoring their friends
Who let out a wail.
Mary Lu.

It’s quiet without her
Sort of sad
When I think of her leaving
Makes me mad.
Mary Lu

Every Occidental Morning
There’s a trace of her ghost
A fragment of color
the laugh we miss most.
Mary Lu
Big bad, Marylu.

Erosion


In my youth
I regarded death as a
Time clock
Punch in on February 8, 1941, at 3:52PM
Punch out on February 8, 2041, at 3:52PM.

Tidy.

Now
I view death as
erosion.

Amorphic.

I built my house
on a bluff
overlooking the ocean.
Buffeted by nature:
sun
wind
rain
waves.

Lost to erosion:
First the ice plant
then the manzanita
Next the ceanothus
And the geraniums
My favorite Monterey cypress
A corner of the redwood deck
The guest bedroom…

How much longer can I stay in my house?
How much longer will I be myself?

Why don’t you move?”
I love the view.

Tough Love


It was hard
Visiting her in jail.
Prison clothes
No makeup
Sleepless eyes.

“You have to believe me,”
She pleaded.
“I’m innocent.
Wrong place, wrong time.
Mistaken identity.”

I wanted to believe her.
We’d been friends for years.
But this had happened before
And she refused
To take her medicine.

“The DA offered me a deal,”
She begged.
“6 months Jail,
5 years probation,
If you vouch for me.”

I’d loved her
Before I understood
She meant well
But wouldn’t
Change.

I handed her
The Gideon Bible.
Muttered,
“You have a friend
In Jesus.”

Hieroglyph

6am
Rain streaks our bedroom window
The outside world is cloaked in mist.

7am
The rain stops
Dark shapes emerge.

One distinct desiccated pine
A Chinese logogram
“Harmony.”

Special Handling


In the ministry of lost souls
My assignment is
Special Handling.

If you are
Oversize
Fragile
Complicated
Difficult
Dangerous
Come see me.

Find life a chore?
Knock on my door.

Lost your way?
Step in, out of the fray.

Mired in despair?
Sit down in my chair.

Feeling depressed?
Come cry on my chest.

We’ll fix you up
Get you back on your feet
Back in the game
Stridin’ down the street.

Want to know how we do it?
Read our leaflet
Don’t ask any questions
It’s all top secret.

No Depression in Heaven

1.
Hard times
Sometimes you see ’em coming
Sometimes they catch you unaware
Sneak around in darkness
Lie in wait beneath the stair.

Hard times
Can take your measure
Tax your strength and wit
Make sure you pay attention
Prove you got some grit.

2.
Da Blues
Will pile it on
Leave ya broken hearted
Open up old wounds
Memories of dear departed.

Da Blues
Just won’t let you be
They hang round yer door
So, stay away Mistah Blues
Don’t come ’round here no more.

3.
Blue skies
and green lights
Nothin’ but blue skies do I see
Everything going be alright
Since my baby come back to me.

Blue skies
From now on
Ain’t gonna look back
Just keep trucking’ on
Down that heavenly track.

Kathy in the Hot Tub

As the morning fog glides over Coleman Valley
Kathy initiates the ablutions ritual
Strides across the redwood deck
Slips into the hot tub.

Our dogs rush to their posts
Milou stands guard
Belle sashays around the tub
Periodically kissing Kathy’s neck.

Kathy flips on the jacuzzi jets
Floats on her back
Covered in foam
Except for her angelic face and perfect nipples.

Love Limericks


A poet named Bob
Wrote love poems on the job
He sent one to Twitter
The cultural transmitter
And soon became a heartthrob.

A poet named Marylu
Was forced to write in a shoe
At first was sublime
But after a time
Alas, her antipathy grew.

A poet named Pat
Pulled a folksong right out of his hat
It was surprising gentle
sweet, shy, sentimental
If it hadn’t ended with “scat.”

A poet named “Liz”
At note taking turned into a whiz
She conceived of a poem
Just so she could show ’em
But ended up writing a quiz.

A poet named Dianne
Built a fountain quite grand
It was covered with love
When the heavens above
Decided to give her a hand.

A poet named Sara
Meandered across the Sahara
At first she was homeless
Then found herself poemless (!)
Feared ’twas the end of an era.

A Greek poet named Sappho
Plumbed the depths of love’s sargasso
Was she gay or straight?
At this point it’s too late
She’s snared our hearts with her lasso.

An English poet named Will
Wrote sonnets that gave us a thrill
He dazzled us with verse
We continue to rehearse
Whose meaning we strive to distill.

An American poet named Billy
Had a sense of humor quite silly
His mind was quite agile
though his images fragile
And infected us like some bacilli.

An American poet named Emily
Wrote cryptic poems about family
She stayed in her room
foreshadowed by doom
Her mind unhinged chemically.

An American poet named Frost
Wrote thoughtful poems about loss
The road not taken
The life forsaken
Morality tainted by cost.

Subversive Verse

“Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed up too long,
In your closed worlds…
The trees are still falling
and we’ll to the woods no more.
No time now for sitting in them
As man burns down his own house
to roast his pig.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti 1975

I am waiting for
Poetry
to be the song of revolution.
Poets of the world, unite,
You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Freedom of speech
Freedom to preach
Freedom to beach
Freedom to reach
Freedom to leach
Freedom to breach
Freedom to teach
Freedom to bleach
Freedom to screech
Freedom to impeach.

Yesterday upon the stair
I saw a man who sat and stare(d)
He reappeared today
Until the cops dragged him away.

This is the moment for all good poets to come to the aid of their pantry
This is the moment to give one hundred and twelve percent
This is the moment when eternity cracks open
This is the moment for celestial reasoning
This is the moment to play your final band
This is the moment for a rebirth of wander
This is the moment to cash in your chintz
This is the moment to sing for your super
This is the moment of wreckening
This is the moment of magi ick

It was a dark and stormy night
The door flew open
Entered the grim reaper
“Do you have any last words?”
Picked up my ukulele
“I got my mojo working
but it just won’t work
on you.”

“I have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.”
Ferlinghetti 1975

Writing Craft

The craft of writing
We learn from pain
Prepare as for fighting
Practice over and again
Acquire form as you train.

“One true sentence”
Is our goal
provides the entrance
Fills the whole
Pays the toll.

“Let prose be unadorned”
Easier said than done
Begin forewarned
Don’t expect fun
Until the battle’s won.

“Concentration”
To a fault
Abjure temptation
Enter the vault
Cause normality to halt.

“Write what you know”
Is the start
Let your words flow
From the heart
Simple is smart.

“Write with attitude”
Keep the edge
Perhaps schadenfreude
Provides a wedge
Step steady on the ledge.

“Maintain a perspective”
A basic rule
For writing effective
Not taught in school
Avoid being a fool.

“Every tale has an arc”
Exposition the sine qua non
Provides the spark
Climactic rapprochement
Revelatory denouement.

“Show don’t tell”
A vital rule
Move the narrative well
Don’t micromanage,  fool
Writing is the painter’s tool

Perseverance the key
You must have spunk
Let your narrative be
Disciplined as a monk
Or end in a funk.

PTSD

Geoffrey
World War I vet
Prances through the dark halls of the VA hospital
A forty-five-year resident
“Shell shock”
Stopped speaking after Belleau Wood.

Harry
World War II vet
Hands shake beneath the dining-room table
Brilliant mechanical engineer with a penchant for self-destruction
Booze and pills
Crashed his plane at Kwajalein.

Brad
Vietnam War vet
When the helicopter flies over
Crawls under the table, crying
Anti-depressants and therapy
Led a covert mission into Cambodia.

Susan
Victim of the “dating wars”
Won’t leave her apartment
without female escorts
Anti-depressants and alchohol
Raped by a fellow acting student.

Joe
Veteran of the “Trump wars”
Lost his service job and lives at home
“The deep state is coming for us”
Constantly online
Participated in the January 6th insurrection.