Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Last Thing on Your Mind

This is the act of recollection as a means of finding the things that you have lost
The idea that there is a remarkable history to hang your hat on
No one cares that you have slept with beautiful women
No one noticed that you did so much – with so little – for so long
Now a bigger question continues to beg at the table like a bloated mongrel dog
You will have to dig deeper than you ever have to find the answer
The answer that can set you free from the leaden shackles that you have assumed
The uncompromising answer that will make all of this make sense

Strength and Beauty

(for J.H. at Water Tower Park
Wednesday, March 13, 2002)

On the stairs of the Water Tower
A symbol of strength and beauty
We sat and talked for just a minute or two
Nervous – I sipped my dying cup of coffee
Around us the beautiful people mingled and moved
She is of that world – the beautiful people world
Even in my own city – I have been a stranger to that world
Until today – until the cool early spring moment
When we she sat down next to me on those cold stairs
And she remembered my words and what they meant
I’m grateful that she shared her strength and beauty with me
There on the stairs of the Water Tower
A symbol of strength and beauty

The Warning of the Rose

She ignored the warning about the thorns
As big as your knuckle she was told – and sharp
Like nothing she’d ever seen before
Be careful they all warned her time and time again
You gotta be real careful around those roses
You see the stem is the lifeline of the rose
And you have to protect your lifeline at any cost
That’s why God put thorns on roses like that
They protect the lifeline from foolish lovers
Who would sever that line and kill the rose
Now God must have really felt special about this rose
To have given it those big spiny thorns
He must not have wanted anyone to have it
But some simple minded sharecropper’s daughter
Cut it quick and sent it to where you got it from
So now that you have it you have to handle it carefully
Because the tighter you squeeze – the more you bleed
The pain will still not be worth the blood
She ignored each warning
As if she never heard a one of them
She grabbed that rose and held on for life
She squeezed that life line for all she was worth
She was not afraid of the pain
She clasped her soft pink hand around it
And felt the thorns her tender flesh
Still she would not let go
The blood began to fill the whorls on her fingertips
Before slowly dropped to the floor
Where it made a small red puddle
She just stood there smiling weakly
Holding tightly on to her rose
Everyone left her alone there
Maybe the blood was too much for them

The Elusive Winter Cardinal

Death comes filtering into the fully carpeted room
Like the black-toothed hunting partner trying to stay invisible
But letting its presence be known all the while
It sneaks peeks around upholstered chairs from under couches
The old ones always seem to find it around the holidays
They are not afraid of it
Though they’d rather it waited there
Pressed against the carpet until they are ready to go
Then they can reach down and take it by the ear
They can lift it up into their wrinkled arms
The young ones rarely see it until it is too late
It sneaks up while they are busy with something else
It sneaks up into their laps and forces them to notice
Even the ones who understand it – fear it
That is because they are young
Youth has a way of confusing itself with immortality
Much the same way as it confuses itself
With its own ego
Too young for death is a naive misconception
Because there is a bullet somewhere with your name on it
You will probably never see the black-toothed hunter
Until the bullet has laid you down
Until you, too, die held in death’s embrace
For now, my friends, death will remain like that
Elusive Winter Cardinal
Even when you think you have seen it
It will be gone before you can be made sure
Leaving the stark leafless branch laughing at you
Leaving you standing there scratching your head
Before you go on your way
Looking for life but thinking about death
Looking for something but thinking about that
Elusive Winter Cardinal

Another Story of Another Life

We are dragged into this circus called life
Forcefully ejected from the safety of the womb
We are given the gift of life
That is what they call it – a gift
At the first beat of our tiny hearts
We are given our first loss
To some it is a devastating loss that
buries them into their future
For others it is a challenge that
carries them into their future
And this is where the story of a life begins
The search for direction and focus
Direction is a road map
Focus is the ability to read it
The world is a big blue brittle ball
Without your map you can’t see the cracks
Without some kind of vision you will fall in
Direction and focus are not your birthright
No one will hand them to you tied up in a bow
They are both very elusive
But well worth the price–any price
Once you have found them–even a glimmer
You must cling to them with your entire soul
You must never lose sight of them
Or allow them to lose sight of you
If you know what you are looking for

He was sad.

He was sad. His head weighed so much that it fell between his shoulders. He looked like a vulture when he followed his head around. His neck was stronger than sailors’ knots on a new boat. It had to hold up that massive miserable head. The angle his head hung prohibited him from wearing most hats that might have made him happy. He thought he might be happy one day, but then what would he do with his crooked neck and his heavy head. He went on being sad. No one noticed.

At the Canvas

There is a picture I have always wanted to paint
I practiced it in my head over and over again
I move the brush skillfully across the canvas
each stroke adding texture dimension color

There is a picture I have always wanted to paint
I would labor at the canvas sweating
the sweat burning my eyes
but not slowing me down
not blurring my vision
each detail getting all of my attention all of my blood
each detail capturing my very soul

There is a picture I have always wanted to paint
We are laughing holding hands
Your eyes sparkling – mine dancing
Your hair is up the way you know I like it
And the Gods are in their Heavens
and everything is fine


I remember who you are now
That summer day out behind the house
I was probably in my early twenties
You were probably in your early teens
A little girl in a woman’s body
But your mind was not in synch – not yet
You mind was busy trying to grow up
Your body seems to have grown up already
I stayed on the porch with my friends
None of them seemed to notice you

If they saw you today they surely would
Everything is finally in synch
The balance has clearly been achieved
I guess I’ll stay on the porch though
This time I’ll stay there alone
It is much safer up here – safer for the both of us

Harlem Avenue

When he needed it most
His eloquence betrayed him
It left him standing there
By the side of the busy street
Scratching his aching head
His entire life was laid out before him
Like a sick joke told to him by a friend
Who could never get the punch line just right

To Betray Her

The clouds of steam kicked out of her mouth
as she firmly rubbed her forehead
Her downward glance blinded her to all that was around her
she stood – not stooped but hunched – as I passed
I hoped for one look or one motion to betray her to me