Saturday, May 30, 2020


NOTE: "Baltimore Burning" is an encore presentation taken from my book of poems and short stories: Last Tango In Timbuktu. In light of recent events in America over the past few days, it seems an appropriate time to bring it back.

meaningful social change
has always been accompanied
by great upheaval
and unrest


polite entreaty
doesn't seem to effectively
 gain the attention of those
 entrenched in the
 arrogance of power


from Bunker Hill
to Selma
to Kent State
to Watts
to Ferguson
to Baltimore
the pattern has always been the same


when voices
(the voice of the people)
fall upon deaf ears
the decibel level must be increased
to a level that may cause sharp pain
in the eardrum
to a level that will make them turn
and glare at you
like an angry parent
and say at long last



Saturday, May 23, 2020


What do you do when
you're not a real person
or an actor--
a kind of Mister In-Between
like Burl Ives
whom we never could
determine if he was a
bad fat actor
or a fat bad actor
but we love him
just the same
when snowflakes fly

Everyone should have his time

to rut upon the stage
like two cats
outside your window
keeping you awake at night
or the energetic cast of Oh Calcutta.

There's the real person

(which I told you I'm not) 
and the image one projects
but to act you've got to 
be someone else 
inside your head.

I was born for this role

born into this role
for as I see it now
there was no one else
sickly demented enough
to do it justice.

And it smells medicinal

this bitter pill
you're asking me to swallow
when there's no evidence
it will heal the world 
or even this pesky toenail fungus.

And now I'm beginning to realize

just what you will exact from me  
O Great Spirit
before I ride off into that sunset.

I'll try to take it like a man.

Like puffs of smoke

we are here and gone.

But I've a vision 

that one day
Cherokee Nation 
will return
proud and strong
and so will I...

so will I

Saturday, May 9, 2020


A doe raises her head attentively
some of us stop what we're doing
she hears the sound
far better than we 

For most it just blends in

with the rest of the
noise pollution
but for those who do take note
it mimics a cry in the wind
beneath the brainless bemusement
of the Cornhole Championships 
one has been reduced to watching 
as one dutifully 
shelters in place

Some switch to Fox

or CNN to get the latest
from the All-Pandemic-
All-The-Time channels 

We are all in this together...

comes up over and over
on the screen 
but it's not the way 
they'd have you believe

more like nervous strangers 

trapped inside an elevator 

and the doe and her ilk

are coming out of hiding
to reclaim the 
deserted suburban streets
stolen from them

Hey children

what's that sound...

boot heels hit the ground

as we follow along
in lockstep
(at least as far as
 the end of the patio)

And that cry in the wind

some of us 
but far too few  
heard was nothing
less than the
we once held
sacred and dear

the Greeks called it eleutheria!

Sunday, May 3, 2020


When Frank Sinatra comes on 
singing "New York New York"
I shut off the radio. They'd been
playing some pretty 
decent stuff up till then
but that's like an obscene joke now.

 Still thirteen hours 
to go before dawn
and there's no guarantee
I will sleep any of it away.

Reading poems by Bukowski
and Raymond Carver. 
I buy books off the internet
to read on my Kindle.  
I buy plenty of books that way.
(I know you never buy a damn
book, but all your libraries are closed!)

I'm looking for something there, 
but so often I find disappointment.
Like the time--
it was a long time ago now--
I was at this singles dance
and this woman I didn't know
looked at me like she could
see right through me and she says:
You're looking for something...
but you're not going to find it here.

What did she think I was looking for?
Happily Ever After?

I still don't know.

But there's twelve hours to go before dawn...

and I know 
I'm going 
to have to
fill it 
with something 
that passes 
for living.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


I finally gave in
and put on the mask
and went strolling
through the aisles

the one who always
colored outside the lines
only to find
I felt a strange sense
of belonging 
to be
just another
Chinese wannabe
(all you see
are my beady little eyes)

and when I walk by
people turn their heads
and exclaim
Who was that masked man?
(Tonto is roaming around
here someplace
shopping for a new
rainbow colored headband)

and I understand 
it's not so much
for my own protection
as it is for theirs

and I find it ironic 
as hell
and a big grin
splashes across my face
to think that society
only just now
has thought of a way
to protect itself
from me

Saturday, April 18, 2020


I'll drive down the street
and see peeps walking along
from the back
I can't see their faces
just their shape and
male or female
though that's not always
easy to discern

and the game I play

is if I could
would I trade places
with this person? 

I have to decide before

I pass them by
no fair looking
at their faces 
split-second decision
(leap of faith based
upon incomplete information--
so familiar to me)

and I surprise myself at

how many times I say no
I'm not switching
even though I often see
it's someone younger
likely in better health
and better shape 
prolly with everything
going for them
and I surprise myself
at how often
I would still choose to be me

guess it's the old devil

that you know
is better than the one
you don't know

and I'm nothing

if not an old devil
with a lot
of really hot

Sunday, April 12, 2020


3 a.m. 
and the road out here
is quiet as the moon

normally some solitary soul 
would be puttering by even
at this hour but
it's Easter morn and
everyone's sleeping on
their modified plans

no mass (no mas)
and you've got no one
to model your bonnet for
but you've got that chocolate
bunny you will mash into
your face at the appropriate moment
fingers all black and sticky
with the mortal sin of it but
on the third day you will rise
and begin your diet

no rest for me
up working again
on the new book
still trying to learn how
after all this time
to fit into this skin
less awkwardly
to be a "person"
inhabiting a planet
and to tone down the 
frightful jitters of that

not my nature to feel at ease
inside this meat suit
(something I've seldom 
talked about)  

having decided
that burning the candle
at both ends  
is the only thing
that will distract me
from the terrible Mork-ness of it

I'm not from around here

and I've given up fighting
the insomnia
just incorporated
the extra hours into my 
routineless routine

still trying to skate by
beneath this scorched
and blackened sky 

Sunday, April 5, 2020


NOTE: Today's offering is an encore presentation first published in 2012. I've updated it to reflect the current year, but otherwise it is as originally published--perhaps more relevant to today's times than it was back then.

the day was December twenty-first,
and the year was two thousand and twenty.
and all of the folks down at the auction house
were going about their daily bid-ness
when there came a thundering boom
and a boomerous thunder
and the skies opened up
and a chorus of angels sang out
and all began to wonder
as the cry rang into the night:
why, them damn Mayans were right!

cuz it's closin' time
here at the world
last call for alcohol
at the weary old world

the preachers were atop their street corner 
soap boxes
railing fire and brimstone
'cept for that crazy one
who kept predicting the end
on one date and then another
was doing an Irish jig on a table top
cackling: I told ya--suckhas! 

Let the animals loose!
a man began to shout--
let 'em run for higher ground
and we'll be right on their tails.
(but people move like snails.)

and I saw Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes
wailin' the ol' Gut Bucket Blues
as she took another swig of booze
knowing she had nothing to lose
as she said, "C'mon boys--line up over here and take a number!"

and people were making love
in the street--
yeah, they were squirmin' like a toad 
to the boombox strains of
Why Don't We Do It In The Road.

cuz it's  closin' time
here at the world
almost closin' time 
at the weary ol' world.

so strained under the weight
of  inflated egos
and institutionalized hate.

and the churches opened their doors to all,
and didn't stop to check
if you were straight or gay--
to the sudden epiphany
that all of us can pray.

And mom and pop
said to the kids
go ahead and open
your presents--
it's now or never
forever and ever.

and  Santa at the mall
bolted upright
with a "git this BRAT offa me"
as he headed for the bar
and ran into another car.

and Dick Cheney,
scrambling for a place to hunker,
remembered he still had the key
to that underground bunker.

and people were jumping
from the top of Jeff Bridges
as confusion rained
on The Supremes.

and old Betty Conklin
recalled how she used
all that aerosol spray
and she never recycled
not even for a day...

and old Jeb Mcgurk
spat the juice from his chaw
as he cried: hallelujah--here I
come ma and paw!

and Paris Hilton
from her mansion of riches
took out her ipad and tweeted:
so long, bitches!

and as the animals headed for the hills
('cept the ones in Kansas--
they just ran in circles)
the roaches were throwing
a giant block party
with hijacked scones and coffee

cuz it's closin' time
here at the world
closin' time at the weary old world
no more time to be clever...

time to roll up the sidewalks
and stash them away


Thursday, March 26, 2020


Let's rob the liquor store
then walk all day
the scent of death
swirling in the air

do a lap or two

around that lap dancer
circumnavigate the moon
swing on a comet's tail

there should be more gaiety

in our hearts

the scent of earth

the scent of death
and yet 
spring is in the air

there should be more gaiety

there should be more courage
like the Italians singing
from their balconies
like the songbirds
calling from the trees

whistle past the graveyard
and rejoice
for in the midst of darkness
we have seen the light

Man's greatest concern 
revealed at last...

first and foremost

it's about wiping your ass 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020


My life's work
as assistant
to the assistant
to the assistant
spittoon cleaner
has been interrupted

I've been told not to come
to work
as we are practicing
social distancing
but I can't properly do my job
from home
anybody can see that

so I implore you
for the sake of the country
to bypass the spittoons until
we get a handle on this thing

nobody likes a spittoon
that is filled to the brim with
cigarette butts and all kind of
green slime

the preferred way to expectorate
is to stop your car at the red light
open the driver's side door
lean down
and hock that big loogie
right onto the pavement
the other drivers behind you
really appreciate this

you'll feel good that you've
done your part for America
as we're all in this together...