Category Archives: Poetry

The Faces of Awe — Music (Secret Society)

I belong to a
Secret Society.

requires no fee or
preexisting condition.
To join
You must

Everyone can belong.
Many lose their ability to
boogie woogie.

As a consequence
Unfortunates forfeit
membership in
the sacred society of
Rock and roll.

Gonna tell Aunt Mary
About Uncle John
He claims he has the misery
But he having lots of fun
Oh baby

We take shelter in
Le petit Richard.

Well, it’s one for the money
two for the show
Three to get ready
now go, cat, go.

Rockabilly rapture.

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in.
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah

the democracy of dance.

“Well we made a promise
We swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby,
No surrender.
Like soldiers in the winter’s night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby,
No surrender

Many things are
worth fighting for:
the planet, and
Rock and roll.

The Faces of Awe — Collective Effervescence 2


Rock Concert:
Squeezed in,
Until we dance.
Exhilarated by
Social contact,
We let go.
Euphoric community.

Football Game:
My 50th reunion spills over to
The annual big game.
Boring until
Jefferson’s TD.
The party stops to
Focus on the action.
30 seconds left
Tie game.
Henderson drops back to pass
Decides to run
We jump up and down
Scream and hug,
Bonded in

Church Service:
Sunday morning
Relatives’ megachurch
2500 worshipers
Singing “new wave” hymns.
TV pastor
“God’s love”
John 3:16.
“God loves you wherever your are.”
Ends with
Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so:
Little ones to him belong,
They are weak, but he is strong
Moved by the

The Faces of Awe — Collective Effervescence


Surrounded by like-minded
I feel safe.
In my sangha
I can be vulnerable.

My daily practice
Integrates with my life.
My sangha shares my goals,
We adopt the same path forward.

I know everyone and
they know me.
Together we struggle and
Hold each other accountable.

The Faces of Awe – Moral Authority

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Life is available only in the present moment.”
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.”

In Thay’s presence
I am peaceful
And focussed.

Spiritual energy.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”

Each life is sacred.

“I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

My moral cornerstone is
Respect for all beings.

“My actions are my only true belongings.”

Morality is active.

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.”

Life is filled with blessings.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

To live is to be connected.

The Faces of Awe – Nature

Playing in the Santa Monica surf
Tumbled over

Encountering the great sequoias
Holding up the sky.

Surfing in an
Early-morning fog tunnel.

Staggering as the
The planet palpitates.

Relaxing at Tassajara
Baking in the stone-walled sauna
Plunging in the creek
Soaking in the communal tub
Exfoliating on the redwood deck
Absorbing the milky way.

Swimming from Alcatraz

A Child’s Christmas in Westwood

Sunny days
Riding my bike around San Fernando Valley
Passing palm trees and orange groves
Traversing vacant lots and ranchettes.

Christmas began when Santa floated down Hollywood Boulevard
Escorted by Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy
USC pom-pom girls
Bob Hope in a red convertible.

Christmas songs
Christmas tree lots
Bell-ringing Santas
No snow.

Christmas culminated with Grandma’s feast:
Days of shopping
Hours of baking
Tedious preparations.

Mother drove our Chrysler sedan
Over Laurel Canyon Boulevard
To the great house on Kelton Avenue
While Bill got car sick.

Lilly Izenour didn’t drive
We chauffeured her around Westwood Village
the A&P, Ralph’s, Desmond’s,
and the Fox theatre for a Disney film.

Grandpa reclined in a red leather chair
Wearing his holiday vest and slippers
Sipping bourbon
Listening to the radio.

On Christmas morning
Well scrubbed and dressed
We attended the Westwood Methodist Church
Where Grandpa was an elder.

Harry and Lorene, Betty Jane and Tommy arrived
With Terri, Jan, Jill, Nancy, and Claudia
We opened presents
Under the giant tree.

The women cooked
The men drank
The grandchildren played
The house filled with aroma.

In the eye of the Christmas storm
Sat the reliable O’Keefe and Merritt
Two ovens and two broilers
Space for one turkey, a casserole, and three pies.

At four o’clock
Fifteen sat down at the long table
Grandpa said a desultory grace
Carved the mammoth turkey.

Stacks of garden vegetables
Mountains of potatoes
Overdressed head lettuce
Quivering molds of jello.

Pumpkin pastry with real whipped cream
Apple and mince pie
Punch & Judy ice cream
Peanut brittle.

The women cleaned up
The men smoked cigarettes
I read “The Hardy Boys”
The radio blared the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Father drove our Chrysler sedan
Over Laurel Canyon Boulevard
Into the San Fernando Valley
While Bill got car sick.

Notes from the Battlefield

60th Stanford Reunion

Sue: John would have been here but he had a heart attack.  Last year, Barbara died from cancer. You remember Ken? He was in a terrible auto accident. Cynthia went hiking and fell off a cliff…

Lou: I live in Beverly Hills and have a pied-à-terre in New York; and a condo in Aspen and another in Wailea. I spend a lot of time in Vegas. I just bought an Aston Martin. I can’t stay very long, I’m working on a new deal…

Chris: We live in Chagrin Falls. My husband, Paul, is an anesthesiologist. We have three children: Paul Junior works on Wall Street. Janice and her family live on a ranch outside Whitefish, Montana; I often go there to help Janice with her daughters. Mason is in Los Angles, struggling to find himself.

Nick: Are you going to the Arizona State game? I go to all the all the games; my tickets are on the fifty-yard line. The “boosters” are unhappy with coach Shaw. Do you remember my key block in “the big game”?

Nell: Do you mind if I smoke? I’ve given up all my vices except for cigarettes. Coughs. I’m doing better now since I gave my heart to Jesus.

Larry: I’m an Uber driver.  It works with my schedule because I go to one or two meetings a day. My wife and I were meth addicts. I got into recovery; Lucy didn’t and now she’s dead.

Sally: Ed wants to say hello but he can’t talk much since his stroke.

Lost Our Way

Had a nice vacation
Terrific place to stay
Until we took a hike
And quickly lost our way.

At first the the trail seemed easy
Then we hit a strange detour
That sent us down a tangent
Where the footing was unsure.

It should have a been a warning
When Google failed to work
But I was sure I knew the way
And acted like a jerk.

We wandered into a ravine
Avoiding poison oak
Myra started grumbling
“I wish this was a joke.”

“Lets’s head downhill,” I said
“We’ll just follow the sun.
“I’m pretty sure this path
“Comes out on Highway One.”

The temperature got warm
“It feels just like a sauna.”
We encountered civilization
Green fields of marijuana.

Turned out the plants were owned
by the “Demons” motorcycle gang
They came roaring up
Delivered a profane harangue.

Myra started cryin’
“We’ve gone from bad to worse
“I’ll never leave alive
“Your hike has been a curse.”

Fortunately, Spike and Bruno
Were more than hairy hunks
They drove us to their friends
A group of Buddhist Monks.

We sat beneath ancient oaks
And drank their icy tea
Then hopped into their pickup
For the trip to our B and B.

I’ve learned my big lesson
That I must confess
Never leave your home
Without a working GPS.

Velma Can’t Dance

Music at the Farmers’ Market
Gave me my big chance
To show off some fancy moves
Only, Velma didn’t dance.

This particular Friday
Everyone jivin’ on the green
I joined them and called out,
“C’mon Velma, it’s a scene.”

Velma downed her Margarita,
Shook her head no,
Then her friend, Maxine,
Dragged her on the floor.

Velma shuffled her feet
“I don’t know what I’m doin’.”
I took her hand in mine
Seized my chance for wooin’.

At first I took it slow
Tryin’ not to rankle
Velma began to smile
And then she turned her ankle.

I helped her off the floor
Sat her in a chair
Reverend Jim rushed over
“I’ll take care of it from here.”

He removed her shoe
Started massagin’ her foot
Velma smiled and sighed,
“That sure feels good.”

Jim picked up Velma
“I’ll take her to the doc.
“You stay here, boy
“We’ll be back by 8 o’clock.”

I watched them drive away
Feeling’ I’d been had
Then Bobbi Sue took my hand
“Ain’t no time for feelin’ sad.”

Got a chance to show my moves
Out there with Bobbi Sue
She laughed and moved close
Showed me smooth moves, too.

At 8 o’clock, the music stopped
Bobbi Sue was in my arms
“Velma’s not coming back
“Pay attention to my charms.”

I took her home
Soon it was after Two
Turned out she had a lot of moves
And a colorful tattoo.

I learned my big lesson:
When you’re starting a romance
Keep your wits about you
Pick someone who can dance.


“I couldn’t sleep last night,”
Cheryl said, when I arrived.
Grabbing her heavy bag, I said,
“You can nap on the plane.”

“What if this doesn’t work out?
What if we don’t like each other?”
I sang a few bars of
“Que sera, sera…”

“I don’t like to fly,”
she said, squirming in her window seat.
I clasped her hand
“If you get anxious, I’m right here.”

“This airport is crowded and muggy,”
Cheryl grumbled, as we waited for our luggage.
I picked up her bag,
“The limo is air-conditioned.”

“This resort is fancier than I expected,
I may not have brought the right clothes.”
I slipped my arm through hers.
“We can go shopping together.”

“I’m afraid I look fat,”
Cheryl muttered, eyeing bikini-clad girls.
I put my arm around her
“I love the way you look.”

“Our suite is wonderful,”
she beamed, giving me a hug.
I smiled,
“Special vacation for a special lady.”

“I’ll slip into something comfortable,”
Cheryl chortled, taking off her clothes.
My heart pounded,
“I’m glad you’re relaxing.”

Waiting Room

Central train station was
crowded, hot, and smelly.
I worried
“She’s a lady, maybe she won’t come in.”

I bought tickets
sat between
a snoring fat man
and a frail woman carrying a Chihuahua.

The Gruen clock ticked
my ardor faltered
enumerating reasons
She wouldn’t show up.

The station door opened
all the air
left the room
as Daisy entered.

Dragging a bulging brown suitcase
crimson lipstick
navy-blue dress
cream pearls.

She pressed her hand
to my thumping heart
“Our life begins.”

Caverns of Silence

Embracing the silence
I enter
The grotto of my ancestors.

Treading carefully
Mindful of ancient

Familial stalactites
Traps designed to
Poison and pierce.

Bungled aspirations
Petty antagonisms
Nonchalant prejudices.

Frozen portals
Of trauma.

Standing before
The speckled mirror
Of my forebears:

White, Anglo-Saxon, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, educated

Headstrong child
Crawling naked
Through razor-blade ancestral tombs .