Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nimrod's Complaint

I will never seek your face.
For I have tasted, I have seen
the flaming brand that blocks the way.
My choices lay East of Eden.
You will never understand.
Good is evil, evil good.
The rainbow arch, the sight of land
the fools who crouch in fear of God.
The spirit of cousin Cayin
the spirit of mother Chava
live forever in my mind
arbiters of good and evil.
Here is the dwelling place for me:
a steep and strong and mighty tower.
I raise it up for all to see
with stones of clay; my mortar: tar.

Monday, December 14, 2009


On this winter morning,
when I could sleep forever,
icy tendrils slip
between my sheets
and grab
this old man's toes.
If I don't get up soon,
I will sleep forever.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The beds are dry the clouds have blown
away from my sight. I thirst.
But there is nothing without to slake
this dry sponge that lies slack
on my teeth. Care and desire
have long since left. No living
streams well up within my soul
only my blood. Like slag that cools
it moves lethargic: slowly congealing.
Soon it too will dry up.
Like a prophet I search, groping
for an answer among fire,
wind, and power only to feel
a gentle breeze caressing my face
and to hear the qol elohim
(a whispered rebuke): "Why are you here?"

Previously published in Odessa Poetry Review, Fall 1988

Made for Flight

You feel the earth beneath your feet.
It gives you comfort, not like the silver
cigars in the air. Oh, you know
the odds. But just the same, you like
the feel of solid ground. And that
is who you are.

sun baked face, dirt under nail,
lungs that fill with the sweet, musty smell
of pine and manure

Those cracked, calloused hands
have seen enough abuse for ninety
years, but not so much they cannot
gently cradle a grandchild's hand
as you wander the fields together, or mend
the broken wings of those made for flight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Diminishing Returns

I lay in bed and cry tonight
I fear I'll not see you again.
The shades are drawn; a little light
creeps in beneath the door. I've been
wondering how long this pain will last.

Love is such an abused word;
too often confused with lust or desire
or romance or something else absurd.
But nothing compares with possession-fire
of father-love: a diminished ferocity.

I have to learn this terse new tongue
of letting go and giving way;
to let the young remain the young
while I grow old too soon. The day
has come to kiss my child goodbye.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Song sung in a minor key

I remember the time when
by the pond I sang for you.
You were happy to see me then.
But now we sit worlds apart,
singing our different songs
(or perhaps it is the same
in dissonant melancholy keys).


Thomas Edwin Willis


I never heard him recite a single poem,
except that old King James Version of
Romans-chapter-seven. Tangled words
pouring out; Chrysostom at eighty-nine.

He was educated: a country scholar—
college at sixteen teaching in ‘seventeen,
writing poems to Ada and Sara Jane.
When he moved back to Tennessee he kept

teaching. But he was lured by the love of trading:
auctioneering (again, the sound of words
slipping across those golden lips of his)!
He knew very well his love of language

would get him in trouble some day.
Depression settled in and he found himself
working a team for the W. P. A.
His derisive lyric abuse of his boss

cost him his job (it was only a song).
But if he could recite those lyrics again
I’d swear to him, I’d give them new voice.
It was too bad. I never found that poem.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Woodsman

Day was cold; frightfully frigid. Yet,
the salty sweat beads covered his head like a crown.
Making an even fluid movement, he swung
the bit in position; pausing a split second.
The sunlight blazed on the blade as he brought it straight down
splitting the trunk of the mammoth oak. Repeating
the action again and again, he spent most of the day
at his task. Taking one step back he reviewed 
the results of his work, grinned like a fool and with
the faded remains of a red flannel shirt removed
the woodsman's crown and then headed for home.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A moonbeam hurled Earthward
and exploded in forest below
with quiet gravity. Silent
translucent reflection bent,
disturbed by waterflow
of winding brook: a dream to share
with those held fast in luminous glare.


O Faithful Hound

(with apologies to Francis Thompson)

O faithful Hound of heaven

how you pursue and follow me.
Relentlessly you run though I
in my arrogant unbelief flee
from the presence of your grace.
Yet you run to overtake;
and from your absolute embrace
I run, praying all the while,
that you prove swifter in the chase.


Questions to the Eldest Son

Did she tell you of the awe-filled faces
belonging to the old sheep-herds?
Of the golden gifts given by kings—
or of the bewilderment in her own heart?
Or did she keep them to herself, waiting
for some appropriate mystical revelation?
Did you notice the quizzical look on her face
when she found you standing among the rabbis;
a prize pupil who wandered in from the streets?
And how did you feel when she questioned your sanity
upon learning of the opposition
from the teachers and priests in Jerusalem?
------------ How deep was the wound when you heard her cry
------------ in suffering silence watching you die?


Final Regrets

a theos

In the stillness, silence surrounds me.
The cold invades my bones.
Descending darkness veils my heart,
while I wander among the ruins

of this, my own mortality.

It was a fine piece of art
I created for myself
from the rocks and dirt.

Yet tears are cried bitterly

for dreams broken in half,
which lie strewn among the tombs;
monuments to my life.

At last I am left to be

given to eternity;
the silence still surrounding me,
the silence still surrounding me.


Grave Yard Run

I run in this place of rest for the dead,
lifting my feet, like so much lead.
The silence broken by ragged breath—
(it does not disturb their sleep). And I,
in the same, quiet way shall lie
on a damp, sunken bed of earth;
while above, a quarried canopy
will mark my space for eternity.