Monthly Archives: October 2010

Dancing Queen

She dresses
In unmatched pieces
Teasing me
With her style
Dancing before the mirror
Then blowing a kiss.

Who am I
In this audience:
A suitor?
A lover?
A surrogate, for practice?
She never tells me,

Just raises
One practiced eyebrow
That says with
“I’m becoming a woman
And you can’t stop me!”



Last day of holiday
My final twenty dollars in hand
I go in search of a memento
Something to show my friends
I tell myself
To represent this magical place
When once the salt has washed away
And my tan dissolved in graying skies.
My eye is drawn
To the superstore
Right next to our hotel
Here in Vacationland
Promising “Old Time Candies”
In sickly sweet lettering on its
Unassuming sheet metal siding
And next to that
A flashing neon beacon
Scrolling siren specials of the day
Fireworks and stun guns
Throwing stars
Ninja swords
High-powered rifles
And of course
A lively line
Of tasers.
My own piece of America.
I ponder briefly which of these
Would be permitted in my
Carry-on baggage
And opt reluctantly
For lemon drops.


I love coffee
The first bracing taste
Reflected on my lover’s lips
A dusky harbinger of day.

I love coffee
The memory of graduation
To the sharing of fresh grounds
With my smiling mother.

I love coffee
Anticipating sleepily
My favorite rest-stop on the toll road
With the strongest joe around.

I love coffee
Caffeinated communion
At the end of countless walks
Across a nectar-filled wilderness.

I love coffee
The emblem of belonging
In small communities across
The frozen northern plains.

I love coffee
For I have learned
That coffee is

First night


Backstage, the cast swarms –
The queens, the workers and drones –
Their stings drawn for now.
Stirred up, they will take the lights
And tonight, this show will kill.

Sestina for Richard

Late September they brought a tree
To symbolize the birth of hope
And gathered under darkened clouds
To plant it gently in the ground
Beside a junkie’s tired needle
Saying his work would never be in vain.

Perhaps in a more symbolic vein
They should have fertilized that tree
With something from the user’s needle
So that it would have some hope
Of thriving in that barren ground
No sunlight coming through the clouds.

Sometimes enthusiasm clouds
Our judgment, makes us rashly vain
Where there is really little ground
To fix our aspirations on a simple tree.
For such a youthful hope
Is like trying to thread a needle

In the dark, where we need all
Our faith to see even our hands. What clouds
Yet more the dimmest outlines of our hope
Is when every muscle, every sinew, every vein,
Combine, striving with hard-won chemistry,
Yet are not strong enough to hold us up on shifting ground.

This was his lot as each year ground
On and unfulfilled desires would first needle
Then betray in toxic symmetry.
The winds of discontent whipped close clouds
And bent him like a once-proud weather vane
Now facing south in blasts of unmet hope.

It is perhaps best not to be the hope
Of every person breaking ground
Where better folk than we have pierced their vein
Despairing and then thrown down the needle.
For raw enthusiasm rarely beats what clouds
The harsher truths of life with lasting artistry.

He saw at last that it was vain to wear the robe of hope
For people who would plant a tree then let it languish in such troubled ground.
He left, his needle stuck on empty, dust rising from his feet in clouds.

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