Monthly Archives: April 2020

A Special Madness

Everybody was lost, half-crazy, afraid…                                                     Women
Charles Bukowski 1978

As sure WalMart is going to rape your tiny town
Someone is going to try to break you against your will

The smart ones walk through life
Cripple or crazy or a little of both
Skin burnt from exposure
These are the ones who talk to the voices
The voices that keep them company

The others continue to bang their heads
Against the wall that was built
By years of intolerance and anger
And it all ends up in a different kind of madness

And you look at the guy on the street
Smoking a Newport and talking to a shadow
And you know he has found his place
And you know you have to find your place
In this – your own special madness

Like the Grapevine

(for Julie)

It’s days like these that my soul and my heart and my mind weave themselves
Into something hard and beautiful like the grapevine on the fence
My heart longs to spend these days with you – in solitude – together
My soul aches to spend these days with you – under the sun – at last
My mind accepts that you are a reason for days like these – together – at last


One Mississippi

Someone’s cousin‘s friend taught us meteorology early that summer
When you hear the thunder you count the seconds until you see the lightning
That’s how far away the tornado is from where you are in your back yard
We never saw a tornado except during our annual viewing of The Wizard of Oz

My father used to like to tease me and my brother about causing an earthquake
We never saw one of them either – not where we were – not one

When it rained, we all ran out to that wide-open space just beyond the back porch
We would dance around like spastic B-girls – undulating with no sense of rhythm

The rain was our salvation
The rain was our forgiveness
The rain was our acceptance

Our smooth young faces got dashed by the sweet heavy rain drops
We laughed and the rain forced the sweat down our faces and into our mouths
Then the thunder would crash and we froze in place and counted

One Mississippi
Two Mississippi
Three Mississippi

The lighting would cleave the sky and light up our faces for a moment
We knew there was a tornado three miles away from our back yard
We had no actual conception of what three miles meant in terms of distance
None of us had ever been allowed to venture past the library on Oak Park Avenue

For that moment we were just joyful to be dancing in the rain
Me and my sister and my neighbor and my buddy and his cousin
Dancing in the rain in a time when life moved slower in that back yard

Milwaukee Love

(For Julie)

Even in the best of times the shore line field is empty
The rotting picnic tables hold my muse and my coffee
The true sun worshippers prefer the sand and ceaseless noise
The true sun worshippers prefer the crowds and the attention

This great city built on beer and bratwurst and bravado
The ancient architecture is held together by history and passion
The well worn stairs up to places untouched by time carry me away
The well worn stairs hold stories of their own – not of their own making

There are many ways to explain the name and the origins of Milwaukee
Those who were here before the European invasion had peaceful names
They called it a gathering place by the water – they called it a man walking
They called it a man waking – they called it a pleasant land

At a time when everything around us is fast and temporary and disposable
When what we value is often measured in gigabytes and bandwidth
I will live with my memories and my secrets and my stories of Milwaukee
I will live with my prayers and my joys and my love for Milwaukee