Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Novena for this cycle is to write about what you would do if a doctor gave you only nine days to live.

Nine Days Left
An absurdly precise medical prediction
has left me, O’ Muse, only a novena of
days left to live. Sing through me Muse,
help me to perfect my days. Guide me
through the last of life, and grant me
a moment of simple joy in each day.
Day 9
"Boiling the Perfect Egg"
The white sphere cold in my palm,
the water raging in madness below,
is momentarily brought to its senses
by the plunge of a cold egg.
Three minutes and the magic
happens. Liquid turned solid,
a white corona surrounding
a solid, yellow sun. The shell
peels in great white chunks,
like tearing drywall from an old
house till the naked egg
lies quivering, yielding,
in my hand.
Day 8
"The Perfect Haircut"
“A number 2 all over,”
I tell the lady at Just-A-Cut.
She doesn’t know this will be
my Last-Just-A--Cut.
My baldness makes cutting
away what is already dead
an act possible to perfect,
its simplicity as beautiful
as the white, porcelain cup,
by the mirror before me,
in which rests
a black, plastic comb.

Day 7

"The Perfect Walk"

The moon behind me
my dog in front of me
no spider webs brush my face
no toads squish under my shoe
the pond thrums with secret life
a slight chill in the air
keeps the mosquitos
away and my dog and I
can walk for miles
and miles
and miles.

Day 6

“The Perfect Nap”

Today I shall make my bedroom
An inner sanctum, a refuge
from the sun’s afternoon
heat. I shall draw my curtains
across my windows and stifle
the voices in my mind. A good
nap is a luxury, a blessing
not to be wasted. Let the world
spin without for a couple of hours.
When I leave this world, will I count
the anxieties needlessly worried over,
or the peaceful hours under my covers?

Day 5

“The Perfect Memory”

Emotions cling to photographs
in the same way a single hair
on the floor gathers dust unto
itself. Photos in boxes, envelopes,
and half-finished albums litter my table top,
a shipwreck of memories washed ashore
by my tidal wave of efforts to find that
one photo, my most perfect memory,
you at the carnival,  bathed in neon light,
head thrown back, mouth open,
eyes full of delight as the cotton candy
jumps its cardboard cone and takes flight,
aided by a sudden breeze, and lands in your hair.
I know if I can find this picture, I will sleep tonight.
Your photo will be th charm that keeps the night
beasts, those twin hounds Anxiety and Regret,
chained to their trees for another night.

Day 4

“The Perfect Honey”

It is said the bee takes inventory of
her stock after that advance scout
of winter, the first frost, strikes.
She caps her combs, she counts her larvae,
she measures the royal jelly, she weighs
her honey, she clears the detritus of
summer from her hive. She seals
her home against the creeping cold,
and with her sisters huddles in a dense
ball of life, constantly churning, moving
from center to periphery, vibrating,
creating warmth to fight the pressing cold.

So shall I on this fourth day,
take stock of my life.  From what
people and books have I gathered
nectar, and how have a shared
the honey I have made. Have I
pollinated minds with new ideas?
Have I filled the honeycomb of
my life with supply enough
to nourish those who come after?

When my soul leaves to join
that eternal swarm, the pulsing,
vibrating, ball of life, forever
churning, forever cycling
from center to exterior and
back again, what warmth will
I bring, and what warmth will
I take? The hive of souls

Day 3

“The Perfect Resting Place”

In lieu of speech and opposable thumbs,
God has granted- should they reach a
natural end to their lives- animals the
right to choose their final resting places.
Elephants shamble slowly down
dusty savannah trails to their graveyards.
Good dogs die with their master’s hand
resting on their heads, and cats slip into
shadows to  places unknown.
Squirrels cease their chattering
in leafy treetops,  and opossums
practice their death like method actors.
Rarely, is man given a choice. Our intelligence,
which is different from wisdom, keeps
us dying in sterile, white rooms, surrounded
by tubes, and the sounds of dementia
and mourning.

Grateful I am that the day of
my deliverance has been revealed
to me. My elephant’s graveyard,
which I approach, head down, shuffling,
will be an old recliner. A book shall
be on my lap, my dog shall be at
my feet, and I shall look out
my window, waiting for that
terrible beating of wings,
the approach of the unknown.
When it comes, may it find me
leaning forward in anticipation,
eager to know what comes next.

Day 2
“The Perfect Goodbye”
I shall double bag all my pornography
and take it to the trash-no one needs to find
that. I will write letters to loved ones and friends
asking for and granting forgiveness (they know
what they did and they know what I did). I will
max out my credit cards on Amazon ordering
extravagant gifts for those I love.
I will teach my dog how to order pizza
from Domino’s and leave him plenty of cash.
I will make a playlist of my favorite songs on
iTunes and listen to them all day. I will smoke a
last cigarette while watching the sunset from my porch.
I will read Walt Whitman and know that he is
for me.

Day 1

“The Exit”

Wait. I have one more………


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shadows love to sing.
On still, moonless nights they
coalesce into choirs on
the steps of government buildings,
in the arched doorways of churches,
and the empty floors of parking garages.
They sing their hymns, their nearly
soundless vespers, sighing like the
wind through dead leaves, like distant waterfalls
only dogs and the mad can hear.

The sing for us, these shades of ours,
they see our days and know we need prayers.
Their chant is an invocation, as shadows know
a blessing for us is all they can ask
of the still, silent, space into which their
voices rise.

The new Novena prompt is "Where does your shadow go at night?"

I shall send my shadow
to watch over you at night.
From his ceiling perch he will
measure the metronome of
your breath, count the turns
your body makes under your
blankets, and monitor your
midnight mutterings for
murmurs of my name.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Hundreds of bees ignored
my presence today
as they roughed up
the tiny white flowers
on a bush.
Imagine what would happen
if a creature thousands of times
our size was suddenly looming
over a construction site or
office building.
Bees are single-minded creatures,
mind-on-their-jobs beings,
not panicked by a curious
colossus whose shadow
shades their work.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

"I hope I'm not imposing,"
I say to Nature, as birds
explode from the bush
In front of me,
as the heron pauses
in mid stride,
as the coots glide
to the other edge of the pond,
and the rabbits freeze in rhe
grass like garden statues.
I am an interloper here.
As I pass,
the heron lowers his foot,
the birds reclaim their perch,
the coots dive once again,
and the rabbits return
to their endless nibbling.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A White Guy Hearing Selena’s “Siempre Hace Frio” for the First Time

Two souls, one car, roll on a dark South Texas night.
We ride in silence, my eyes on the road,
her face bathed in her iPhone’s soft, blue light.
“Why don’t you speak Spanish?” while still looking at her phone.
How could I explain that my clumsy tongue,
shattered the Spanish against the walls of my mouth,
and turned a babbling brook of a language,
into a dark muddy puddle?
How could I explain the words batted like butterflies
 against my ears, refusing to land?

“Hey, listen to this!” A tap on the screen
and a voice filled the car.
If voices had color, this voice would be a
dark amber. If voices had shapes, this voice would
look like a dark, wild honeycomb.
It was full of the emptiness of anguish and loss.
I understood every word, even though I didn’t
know any word. The voice told me all. Someone
was gone, someone was lonely, someone was sad.
The voice transcended the language of men. I needed
no translator, no guidebook to navigate this land.
It was all clear.
The singer was teaching me a new language-

the language of love and loss.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The fog, made luminous by
a one-headlight moon, thickens
around the pond. I can taste it
as I walk. The fogs wet kisses moisten
my cheeks, and her wet fingers
leave traces of drops on my jacket.
My moonshadow walks in front
of me, more tentative, less definite,
than his daytime brother. He is shy
like a coyote caught in the sudden
flash of a porchlight, cautious like a mouse
exploring a darkened kitchen.

Moonshadow, sunshadow,
we all have shadows in our lives.
They walk with us in the sunlight,
They walk with us in the moonlight.
The only choice we have is to let
our shadow walk before us,
or to walk so that it is behind us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Glass and wire are always close to me now,
like the amulets and fetishes worn
by a tribal shaman my
discount store glasses
are always within my grasp.

On my bed stand, in my desk, around my neck
I reach for the seer stones, the Urim and Thummin,
I find in Dollar Generals and Family Dollars
that miraculously bring clarity to the
hieroglyphics written on the backs of medicine bottles,
the cuneiform directions on soup cans,
the runes of recipes on cracker boxes,
 and the faded imprints of credit card receipts.

It is the irony of aging,
the paradoxical evolution of life,
that finds my eyes fading
as the vision of my mind resolves,
clarifies and focuses. My younger self
could see the tracks of birds on the
the uppermost limbs of trees, but my
elder self is just starting to glimpse
what is really important.