Category Archives: Poems

Assignments

Here is my life
As I have to live it
Here is my gift
As I have to give it
Here is my work
As I have to do it
Here is my time
As I have to go through it

Here is the world
As I have to see it
Here is my self
As I have to be it
Here is my house
And I have to clean it
Here is my promise
And I have to mean it

Here is my heart
As I have to show it
Here is my truth
As I have to know it
Here are my feelings
As I have to feel them
Here are my wounds
As I have to heal them

Here is my darkness
That I must bring to light
Here is my struggle
That I have to fight
Here are the things
I don’t yet understand
You are my friends
With whom I can stand

Here is my soul
That I have to show
Here is my God
That I must get to know
These are the tasks
That I have been given
This is my life
I had better start living
This is my life
I had better start living

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Lullaby for Jasmine, 2

So now we’ve come to face the facts
That this sweet love could never last
Not for lack of soul or heart
No one’s fault that we’ve come apart

You’re not hurting me, I’m not hurting you
It’s a pain we’ll share, between us two
And after time the wounds will start to heal
With gratitude that this once was real

So close the book, put it on the shelves
Keep its secrets locked within ourselves
What might have been must stay a dream
Let it float away on down time’s stream….

Why must we wait

Why must we wait
Until our bloodstreams merge
On sidewalks and pavements
In hallways and classrooms
In the streets of pulverized cities
To see that all thse streams are the same

Why can we only flow together
Into puddles and gutters
Spattered across walls
Soaked into clothing
Filling up bathtubs
Circling the drains of tiled rooms

Why must we be shattered
Before we can be swept up together
Why must we decay
In the unmarked mass grave
Before we can greet the sun
As fields of flowers

THE TORCH

(This poem, and its accompanying mime piece, were commissioned sometime in the 1980s, I believe for a discussion about what was happening in Central America at the time… I remember exactly where I was when the metaphor came to me, at the corner of Glenwood and Blue Ridge near Crabtree Mall.)

It came to us suddenly from above
Bright and powerful
And it only burned us
Until we learned how not to touch it directly

And the wise ones considered this thing
And decided that its use should be no secret
But that it should be given to all
That its uses should be taught
That it should be kept alive
For if it should ever be lost
Who knew when it would come again

Through winds of malice
And rains of doom
There have been those who kept it alive
And moving through the world
Whatever the costs

For there were always those who could not understand
This thing that was not darkness
And they would lay in waiting…
They would try to extinguish it
To erase it from the world
But somehow it would always be discovered again
Still smouldering…

Sometime it could be abused
What was intended to illuminate
Could be used to make others blind
What was intended to warm and empower
Could be used to destroy instead

But still the torch lives on
Its light is wisdom
Its warmth is love
Its fuel is your very heart and soul
Today the winds gather,and the rains grow strong
But the torch still burns in each of you
And with such keepers…
It will never fade away

Pieces of Charlemagne 

The poor man was hardly cold
Before the intrigues began
Brother Antonius
Took an ankle to Sicily
And was never seen again
Hans the young coroner’s assistant
Carefully trimmed the glorious beard
And swept the results into his pocket
Though some imperial cat hairs
May have been mixed in with the cuttings
The sisters who prepared the body
Kept tightly curled souvenirs
Hidden in lockets and scapulars
Slowly, pieces of Charlemagne
Meandered across his old empire
Some wrapped in burlap
Some swaddled in gold and lapis lazuli
Here, this is his ulna
Here is a paten made from his patella
Here is the finger he gave to a peasant in Armenia
But what I want to see is not his skull
But the furrows from his brow

A Few Political Limericks

There once was a creature named Trump
Who thought everyone else was a chump
A vile little toad
Who on history’s road
Will be seen as no more than a bump.


The people who voted for Donald
Thought he was the rebirth of Ronald –
Imagine their surprise
When they open their eyes
And discover how they’ve been hornswoggled.


Let’s talk about Senator Mitch
An insufferable son of a bitch
Who will ruthlessly kill
Any motion or bill
That angers his buddies, the rich.


The Republican Speaker, Paul Ryan
Doesn’t care how many are dyin’
He will gut Medicare
Leave you dangling in air
And he has had quite enough of your cryin’.


Limericks about people in power
May keep you amused for an hour
But make no mistakes
That’s not all that it takes
To make the tyrannical cower.

THE MCADOOIAD: Book 4

 

It makes no wake, no waves lap the shore ahead of its arrival –
For so swift is its advance, and so massive its bulk appears,
That were it to set a wave in motion, they would all be washed away.
It looms before them, still some distance off, but to McAdoo
It seems he might be flying into obsidian cliffs.

Consider a great thunderhead, first seen low upon the horizon
While you are picking strawberries.
And you think, no, it’s fine, I have plenty of time
Before the storm’s arrival… Time to search and pluck,
To fill my basket to overflowing

So you resume your task, admiring each luscious berry,
And then you look again, and the cloud is nigh upon you,
And the wind stirs, and the birds fall silent,
And you run to seek shelter – so was the ferry’s
Swift and silent advance towards the river’s shore.

The great ship stops its forward progress. Looking up,
They can barely see the prow, so high and far away it is.
Then with a great creaking the bow opens,
Fanning out into a thousand gangplanks reaching towards the shore.
It opens like a peacock’s tail, spreads out like a black cloak across the water.

“One coin is for when you embark, another for when you leave,”
Said the Guide. “Hold the biscuits – you’ll need them on the other side.”
“And the third coin?” asked Smith (A.) – the Guide in answer cleared his throat.
“Ah,” said McAdoo, reaching into his pocket. “Thank you for your help.”
He handed the Guide a coin, which he accepted with a bow.

“It has been my pleasure,” said the Guide. “Now – Watch your step.”
McAdoo turned, and walked toward the nearest gangplank.
Several shades moved in front of him, several fell in behind.
He turned, concerned for his companions, but the Guide waved him on
He saw them all behind him, lining up amongst the spirits.

Slowly the queue moved forward. Ahead of him he saw a brief flurry
Of motion, and it seemed that something fell from the gangplank
Into the dark but shallow waters below.  A shade emerged,
Walked back to the shore, and resumed its place among the crowd,
There to wait, thought McAdoo, for another millennium or so.

Then he was at the gangplank’s end, before an inscrutable face.
“Welcome, mortal,” said a voice. “Your presence has been anticipated.
Payment, please.” He handed the wraith his second coin, and stepped aboard –
And found himself astride a small rowboat. He stumbled, pitching forward,
As the tiny craft yawed dangerously under his weight.

“Sit down,” said the old man at the bow. “You’re rocking the boat.”
McAdoo sat, bewildered, struggling to comprehend. “The ferry -”
“Come now, McAdoo,” the old man chided. “Do you not know
That though all must take this journey, and many at the selfsame time,
Nonetheless each and every one must go through it on their own?”

“Charon,” breathed McAdoo. The old man bowed. “The same,” he said.
“There are none who cross but it is I who take them there.”
McAdoo looked about him, but only water, endless, returned his gaze.
“But this – this is your trip. Sit back, relax, let your mind be calm.
I cannot answer all your questions, but I can answer some.”

But even McAdoo, whose mind leapt like a leopard towards gazelles,
Could find no words to speak, or sort through the many thoughts
That clamored for attention in his mind. For there beyond the rugged bow
A shoreline’s shape he saw emerging, and knew it to be his goal,
And that he soon would step upon the well-worn shore of Hell.