Winter calls from the next room,
Sitting quietly with cigar and brandy in clenched fists
(After the children are sweetly, warmly in bed),
Singing dirges by the roaring fire pit.

She is a cold bitch, the winter.
She is qualified, from practice, to rip the freckles
From our sun-kissed backs,
And to steal our blooms of April away,
And to rend the plump harvest from our fertile grounds.

I stand naked in the kitchen—
The heat blisters on my skin,
And I remember the hot, hot days in mama’s kitchen
When the air would break and stop,
And we would open the windows and doors
To hear the summer sounds
And to taste the summer sweat
In sweet, hot days.

I sink in my teeth down to the seeds in my apple.
I dip my hands down, down into the deep water.
I sink my teeth deep into the fleshy center of life.
I capture in my cupped hands the fragrant waters of life.

While that bitch, that winter,
Sings her simple song by the roaring fire pit
That threatens to tear the whole house down,
And you and me and the children warmly sleeping with it.

She sings to me to gather my rosebuds, gather them good;
To hang them upside down ‘til the petals crumble in the fruit.
The fire and the song merge in symphonic destiny
And threaten to burn the whole place down—
Me, naked in the kitchen,
The children, warm in their beds.

April 27, 2008


No Chapstick for the Guilty

There is no chapstick in prison.

I am reminded of this
As I stare down at your still mouth,
Cold and pale
Under the harsh yellow light of the funeral home.
They are ragged, your lips;
They have lacked the necessary moisture;
They have been licked to a noiseless death.

It seems cruel, I think,
To deprive the common criminal
Of such a small delicacy
As soft, supple lips.
What does the state gain
By depriving the common criminal
Of chapstick? Is chapstick
A menace, a culprit, a helper
In the crimes of the common criminal?

Your hands are rough, too.
No lotion, either, I suppose.
Nothing to make you seem human
In that absolutely American way—
No lotion, and no chapstick for you
Where we so prize our smooth hands
(the best for touching and preaching)
And our smooth lips
(the best for kissing or breathing).

I bite my bottom lip and wring my hands
As I stare down at you, cold in your casket,
A prison where there is
No chapstick and
No lotion.
It seems cruel, I think, to deprive you
Of something so absolutely American.
What does death gain
By depriving the common man
Of chapstick?

19 April 2008


If there were words as pure as you, Love,
Your simple goodnesses would never be enough,
For we could name them all:
We could call them names like “dog” or “John;”
We would not stop to try to write of you,
To talk to you, to seek you out
For the ineffable qualities that you are, Love.
Or if, perhaps, some word was
That scorned me with its truth of my depravity,
Would I seek for more morality?
Would I try to overcome those syllables?
Or, would I with those Indian untouchables,
Accept my arbitrary untouchableness?
For what f my ugliness was called a scavenger
And your purity and goodness called a sparrow?—
Would I not, with ugly eyes and a good heart,
Look at the sky and see them both, twins flying,
Both specks not to be distinguished?
Would I not stand amazed as they,
So far from my eyes and heart,
Flew far above me, and might I say in gasps and murmurs—
“My, how far they fly, how far!”
And then, returning home to shade from the sky,
Eat my food, feed my dog,
And greet John each morning with my “Hulloos”
And fall asleep each night
In bed, near stars, by darkness lying?

10 April 2008
This city has a charm or two
Still alive to offer us; though not as bright
Or exhaustingly good or stirring
As in our precious previous years.
Still this city offers, still to bring us joys,
However tepid they appear
In the light of histories
That burned so much brighter in the surrounding night.
Still, still, the large city burns,
Embers only, but embers still.
The dark shadows on the streets
Cast o’er the grimacing faces
Tempt us to despair—but still we see
There still exists an ember here and there;
Not all good light extinguished—
If it only be enough
To see the shadows by, it is still
Enough to see the face of the kind child,
Granddaughter of granddaughters,
Turn up in a spontaneous smile!
No, we do not despair, though cities
Sometimes fall into disrepair,
We are not utterly ruined, yet.
Still this city offers, still, still it calls to us
To draw our faces upward in
The childlike enthusiasm of spontaneous smiles.
See, there in that corner no one knows,
The city offers us new laughter and joys.
The embers still embark—the embers glow!
10 April 2008



The lady lay with whispers hanging in
The silent night. Her broken body sprawled
Upon the ground, the crowd stood un-appalled.
And each supplied the whispers, deep and thin,
That was the mirthful dirge. No violin
Played somber melody; nobody scrawled
An epitaph; the gravestone, grey and bald,
Lay by her body, painted by their sin.

They all were guilty; no one was accused,
For all participated, all felt glee
At raping her frail body. All, amused,
Watched as they tied her to the blossomed tree.

Her blood flowed free upon the springtime ground.
They all departed, free, without a sound.

5 April 2008