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Frog Hunting at the Ditch -- inspired by above photo called "Drain" by Jeff Wall
There were frogs there
lots of frogs and polliwogs --
frogs' eggs too.

Age eleven
I went there every week
to capture them -- mothers, eggs and polliwogs.
I brought one home to my own mother
(who screamed as I released it --
this wildly leaping creature --
into her bedroom)
so happy I had caught a frog
like me
a captive long-legged changeling.

But what
really grabbed me
was the drain
long as a mile
that five-foot-wide conduit
with two more ducts coupled into it --
those two too small
for even a toddler to crawl --
the omnivorous culvert
tall as I was tall
that went under the railroad tracks.
And if you were lucky
or unlucky enough
the train could blaze
right over your head --
comet sparks flying only feet above you
earth shaking like an orgasm --
in the drain
in the tunnel as tall as a girl.
Like it was just the coolest thing
that would ever happen to you
if that train went overhead
and you lived to tell
about it in school.
But of course almost no one
(except my friend Eileen
who sometimes went there with me)
knew about the drain and the
two skinny pipes
like fallopian tubes
that emptied into it
so narrow that
babies could die there . . .

Like that kid Cathy
in nineteen-forty-something
trapped in a tunnel underground
(or was it a well?)
in god-knows-what-god-forsaken place
where she fell
and fell
like Alice
and Jill
with no jack-of-white-rabbits
to catch her
back when prayers were still answered
and we all prayed
for her three year old body and soul
gathering around the radio
and she died anyway
in the well.
I think it was in Texas --
it must have been Texas --
a place large enough to hold
all the world's falling girls
and the vast emptiness of death
in one constricted passage . . .

in dense copsewood
stood the ruin of a house --
its chimney exposed -- and
jack-in-pulpit treasure
sprouting beyond the hearth.
Never had I seen such things
and always I approached
as to an altar
bearing jars of polliwogs.


Step-Mother's Tale

In this step-mother stage of life I am
bitten by old fairy tales, gray-green
as wolves and grim as the reaping
of those brothers whose eponymous
adjective gallops like a verb through their works,
warning us of life's inevitable,
our childhood's horsemen of the apocalypse.
Old fairy tales open their oven mouths
and I enter with candles of memory.
Dim light simmers with my dangerous thoughts.
I am an unfired vessel over flame.
I watch the family romance on the wrong
side of the glass, half-conscious of a scene
that features puppets and changelings.
Always angry and always disturbed in
some vague way, I am as though roused from dreaming
of my father or lost in a Trojan play.
Who is it who writes the step-mother's tale?
Where is the alison, the teller of truth,
alyssum to cure the rabies and mad dogs in this heart? And what to do
about the oven door that slowly closes?




Fairy Tales Can Come True
I have seen the dark side
of your snow white child
her face as perfect as the moon
so pale, serene
I could not glean
a creature
as well composed
could cast me
on my shadow
wild step-queen by all reviled.
But I am not the first
to fall in love with a flawless face
holy as the snow
discount lip's lingering halo
lace of lies and heroin
and still keep dreaming
until I'd see the fight
was for our own life
then gladly shout
Drink your hemlock, damn you,
but not before you leave my house!


Upon Reading "Birthday Letters" by Ted Hughes
There was a hole in you so wide
Any hope of building a life
Had slipped right through it.
Guarding my own cautiously nested
Courage in my breast I saw that its nurture had
Swallowed my pity alive
Like a cuckoo's egg
Misguidedly placed in my care.
It's not my fault (never your fault)
Brandished in anthem tones
Stentorian as stamping feet
The collective wail and banner
Of Torrie Amos girl-groups:
You made me do it.
A suicide story
Whining to play and
A note, you say, that was
Signed by somebody else.
Precocious poetry, self-absorbed
Your suckling depression the
step-child of fickle conceit
Requiring a bolder hero.
What was she thinking when
She turned on the gas
Her babies asleep nearby?
Did she mean to take them with her?
Was it all a bad mistake?
And everyone afterwards blamed him
For nearly forty years they blamed him.
In the air prevails
The scent of evil flowers --
Traces of Narcissus --
Their narcotic on your finger tips.


A step-child of divorce
dies of a broken heart.
They said it was congenital
but hearts still beating know
the aorta burst from
too much love swelling up
inside and a hidden
split upon its fork that,
undetected, would never mend.
Like Christ he bled to death
before his mother's eyes.
On the edge of their grief
I sit with my child, another
step-son of these divorces. My
arm is around him but I know
he is alone. And I watch him
grow up before my eyes
as the minister omits him while
blessing those bereft.
Such are the scenes we cannot
imagine as destiny,
like an axe, cleaves our will.

                          Fall, 1988 -- at the death of my son's step-brother

A Family Thanksgiving
Alone in the airport
No surprise
Sitting so long
Three days
With my mind's distortions
Inbred like a cancer
Of too many generations'
Weight upon me
Rockaby babies blown
From broken treetops
The end of a family line
On slender snapping branches
Until I thought
I would start shrieking
At the dinner table
throwing glasses
And said instead
I have to go home
It was a tender moment
As you wondered
Did you mean to go to your place or . . .
And I responded
No, New York,
Back Home, New York
Then you began
To weep and plead
How much you loved me
But each remonstration
Just yanked the anger tighter
I tried to tell you
It didn't matter
That I was not worth the cry
And felt my cruelty
Rise like a hatchet
Its haughty tooth
About to fall
On uncleft flesh
Embittered spinster aunts
Guiding my hand
Smiling those one-cornered smiles
While I dug my fingers
Deliciously into your armpit
As in childhood
My crime undetected then
And you smiling sweetly
I dragging you behind me
Little sister.
The others stared
This time bearing witness
One nearly dribbling in his soup
But following every word
The other impassively
An explanation I would never give
Since I didn't know myself
And could only keep repeating that
I was no more in the family


A Fall: 2001
It was an autumn of excessive sweetness:
like amber trees burned slowly
under Umbrian sun
or a long late fall in Rome.
But the fall was our home
and the empty hole eyes
the cells in each skull
in the skeleton of steel
were as countless as Roman ruins:
open pockets holding only our imagery.
First, an umbrella of warmth cloaked the city:
a veil of citron and pale orange
that hung its scrim upon our shoulders
keeping out the cold.
Souls of thousands searched for home
confused as the mayhem of the day
flailing feverishly
they warmed the city with their wings.
Then, the sound of the gravel haulers:
roaring out the mouth
of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel
or other forbidden venues
on their way to Ground Zero
like hardy peasant laborers
again and again.
And the squeal of the N train
carefully creeping through Cortlandt Street
where crudely hewn timbers buttress-up the station
the route from City Hall
to Cortlandt
a perfect S
so that each subway car shrieks loudly
feels doomed
wheels fighting rails, body fighting air
despair of those who jumped.
And, at last, the sight of the ruin from West Street:
movie-set lights, seven stories of steel
still elegant
lovely as a gothic cathedral
with even an entrance
a portal.
And, tonight, I see a blow torch at its height:
at labor a cutter of steel.
How will we remember them
when his last light is done
and winter has finally come?


Lady L.
She is there
Draped in vertigo
Keeping the columns
With her torchlight.
The wind shifts and
A cat turns in its sleep.


De Gustibus
My poems are my fatherless children
vague, unattended, not intended.
They are out there staring
waiting in rooms of houses
now belonging to someone else.
Quickly, furtively I view them
and I blush as I's appear
in the ink of their own eyes
voices and open-O mouths.
One near to me and brave
denies a poem is born from pain
declares it borne by art
a child on strong shoulders.
But I have no art, no child
just this pen
bitten at the end and
a need to devour whatever
will have me.
I am the deadbeat father.





A Yawnless Awakening: 9/11/1
Dreaming of a natatorium
A green marble birth place
Fingering my mind
With vines of memory.
Mossy walls.
A deep pool of wine and
No shallow line
For shore. Dreaming
Over and over this dream.
That day
I always wish I had seen
The dawn that day.
Instead I heard the garbage trucks
Perfectly paced
Backing up their honks
With metal crashes.
Beep. . . Beep. . . Crash
Beep. . . Beep. . . Crash
Why so loud the last?
The dream was swallowed
By a yawnless awakening
And never came again.



The Vest
The moon is traveling

the fog tonight

Wearing him like a pocket
As the silver watch

wears the vest.


Circle of Life
Rolling along on the bandy-bowed
Wheel of his legs
his cane the lever that keeps him moving
like the old-fashioned child's toy
a hoop and a stick
pausing in his urgent, labored orbit
and late orbit of life
he hurries his rest
at haste to find sleep.



There are fewer bright options
Doors close daily
The looks, the wit
The heart-stopping smiles
Spinach on the Teeth
Some are born with
Spinach - O' - Tooth
They are the early wise
Drawing us
Where we will go
Startled others
Turn to them in surprise.


Missing Mystic
Do you miss Mystic?
No not anymore.
Why not? asked my insistent sister-in-law
Who was a pit boss in Atlantic City
Who'd been a pit boss at Mohegan Sun.
It was my parents that made me love Mystic.
They were there.
Evie was not your mother.
She was your step-mother.
Evie became my mother
By doing all the things my mother hadn't done.
She cared for my child
She cooked a goose
I so longed for order.
She was all the things
My mother was not
And I am still not
But may perhaps be becoming
Or leaving behind forever in sadness
So long.
But Evelyn had a bread crisper
And it gave me great hope.


Well Contained Violence
I was sixteen
I broke up all the furniture in my room
I took it to the garage
Receptacle of our highest tragedies:
Old license plates
My father's honorary degrees and
Framed membership
In the millenium clubs
He could not endure
Cars were unwelcome in our garage.
My father did not hit me in the face
As usual
When he did not like my lip
It was though it had been expected
As though he understood
This shucking of our shared past
The second-hand Christmas presents
The furniture left behind by the Rileys
To ill to move it out
Their dust
Their dirt
Their ownership
A lovely Victorian wardrobve
In broken gaslight's light
Not mine.
No it was not the usual hand
Coming at me
As fast as I could snarl.
He had tried after all
He had painted all my furniture pink
In secret places
The pink hung in long enamel tears.
I could not have known the value
Of what we had gladly
Demolished together.


The Facts of Death
Not knowing the facts of life
I learned the facts of death.
My mother told me to bury the cats.
They were four of five
in number, kittens,
the size of dead hampsters.
I buried them as at Trafalgar
in a cardboard box
in a ditch
Where I dug out a hole
in the soft, muddy earth
too soon to be
bared by reality.
Many have been buried this way.
At Trafalgar the Spanish did
not bury the dead at sea.
As they washed ashore at Cadiz
they buried them in the sand
wherever their bodies landed
As when a teenage cat
ran round our house
then, when I was ten.
My mother explained to me
that all her babies were dead.
She was far too young
to have babies
and too young to bury well
I buried them
as at Trafalgar
to be washed away by next tide
or rainfall in a ditch.



For Olga



The Greeks taught us everything.
They gave us their gods.
All of human psychology
lives in those gods.
They gave us democracy.
They recorded philosophy.
They gave us their art.
Then they said,
Go do with this
what you will.
Never mind
the incredible things
we have done.
We are done.
We have no move to give you.


When we went to Sparta
we saw the women
waiting, staring
in the lobby.
They were judgmental women.
Their faces were hard.
They were severe.
But they had your bones.
These were the bones of
strong women.
Your face has been softened
but it's still the same face.

And what I most admire
is your strength
tempered by forgiveness.
Such is the forgiveness of Greece
reflected in a face.


Invoking the Bard
How did it sound?
The roar from your mouth?
Can there ever be another?
Would that one be bountiful
Or merely more than clever.
I have been lucky
Poor, at times
But lucky.
Vain, in vain
With antonomasia
Big-worded Bard
Of bawdy moments
I call your name.
I have been lucky
To have heard your words
And understood my paltry little.


Trailer Park Girl: Camp Shanks,* 1954
I took her to all the dead
and beautiful places.
After all, she was there
in the vast parking lot
of Simpson's grocery store
once a place where all
the embarking G.I.'s
had come to buy . . .
In my ten year old eyes
I thought it held thousands.
But she was there
with only a trailer
on an acre of empty cement
her parents had appropriated
Waiting for me.
She said she had no friends
because her family kept moving
in the trailer
from one bleak parking lot
like this
to another.
I tried to tell her how this place
had once been so alive
a parking lot full of G.I.'s
going off to World War II
buying, eatinng drinking
touching everything in sight.
(Simpson's had really been the motor pool --
a gas station, garage and repair shop
its denizens.
But I preferred to imagine my canteen
teeming, seething with dozens of jeeps
G.I.'s and army scenes, army life.)
I told her I would be her friend and that's
when I took her to all the dead and sacred places.

Here was the "colonel's house."
It was a school for awhile
but in 4th grade the oil burner
burst and it burnt to the ground.
Here is where the rose bushes grow
Yes, they still bloom in season
and here is where the grown-ups
made a playground for us.
Look at the rope swings
and all the good things
we had -- tire swings --
their memory is well alive here.
I remember fireworks
on the 4th of July -- in this same field --
so close I thought I could catch them
as they fell out of the sky.
There's a place in Shanks Village
where you can swing on a vine
over a slope and then let go.
Did you ever do that?
The vine slips over the branch
and then you must decide
to jump
to fall
or be bashed
by what you thought you'd left
Here's the big hill.
We still sleigh-ride on this hill.
We can crash into the FHA**
if we don't take care.
The FHA is where we pay the rent
but my mother makes me
bring the rent because
they have a picture of her there --
on the wall of the FHA.
Is she "wanted" asked the girl?
Why a picture there?
I guess she was a show-girl
she's very nearly bare but
I can't tell for sure
from where I pay the rent.
I dont think my mother is "wanted"
not sure I really care.
I've a story that's better --
about the sleigh-ride hill.
When I was five
my best friend's mother
took us to this same big hill
for dandelion picking and
we whined about the dandelion wine
we didn't want to work for.
But we picked dandelions:
Brett deBary, Mrs. deBary and I.
We picked forever and ever
happily ever after
under a perfect dandelion sun
and Fanny Brett deBary
went home with Brett
to make dandelion wine.
Two days later the wine exploded
kind of like the "colonel's house."
It blew a hole right into
the barrack's cardboard ceiling.
Mrs. deBary had Brett
bring me over to see
and we all stared in thrall
imagining the dandelions' roar.

We said good-by in front of the trailer
and promised to stay friends forever
and always
but I cannot remember her name.
I turned to wave and she stayed
in front of the trailer
until I disappeared.
Next day the trailer was gone.


*The barracks of Camp Shanks were converted to public housing after the war and the camp was renamed Shanks Village.
**FHA=Federal Housing Administration

This is dedicated to Fanny Brett deBary and her husband, Dr. William Theodore deBary, on their wedding anniversary, celebrated June 17, 2007.



Of Course
Of course
What can we possibly do about this?
Two old people heaving in the bed
Like a final swell of wanting.
Ocean imagining all the other things.
Yes, each rogue wave ends like this
Even a tidal wave.
Somehow, someone remembers.



The Heat
I need to sleep in the heat.
Beyond childhood
Fully grown
When the heat was too much
I would crawl out
My bedroom window
Onto the gabled porch.
I would sit there
Like a griffen
On my haunches
Under the eaves
Waiting for the cool
But loving the heat
Waiting forever --
A griffen gone hunting for a bat.
The bat, of course
Was never to be seen
But that did lessen my love of the heat.


Sunday Morning Solipsism
It was Sunday morning at the New Jersey Shore
in a diner.
As I recall, my step-daughters were among us.
It was a happy moment.
No one had been disagreeable.
Something, perhaps one of the "girls"
had teased my mother-in-law
into girlish behavior.
She took out her teeth.
I remembered my own grandmother
once laughing so hard
her teeth fell out.
(I happened to be sitting on the toilet
being expected to perform --
I had evidently amused Nana
even if I had not performed.)
Nana's teeth clattered to the floor
like a chattering set of cartoon teeth
while Nana laughted on without them.
My mother-in-law
was likewise amused by her grandchildren
which is one of the gorgeous
wonders of the world.
Inspired by my mother-in-law
I told a story
apropos of nothing beyond itself
about a friend having said to me:
(the context is gone)
"You live in your head."
I will never forgget
my father-in-law as
the smile slid from his jaw to the floor
with all of his teeth intact:
My story was inappropriate.
I lived in my head and
the intimacy he saw
between me and his son
must have been a lie.
But it was not
After all don't we all
live in our heads?
Myriad are the coincidents
not mutually exclusive
and in those moments
the sleight of hand
holds the magic of memory,
chattering mnemonic
cartoon teeth
clattering to the floor.


Piero della Francesca
In the altarpiece of Montefeltro
Piero della Francesca
Was after perfect proportion.
(That's what it says in
Umberto Eco's History of Beauty.)
The Madonna, indeed, is perfect.
She is perfect and so is the proportion
And perfection of everything else
As far as I can tell:
Perfect Perfection, Perfect Proportion.
The Madonna is petulant:
Her hands are almost
In motion as she prays.
I would never do that
She imagines in her
Otherwise beatific pose.
But the Babe is about to roll
Over those widespread folds
Covering splayed legs
Given way more than room to move.
All holds barred, the Babe
Is corpulent
Not in the least attractive.
The Madonna would like
In fact
To roll the baby off her lap.
Evidently the others
With their unhappy mouths
Might do the same.
Piero della Francesca
Was ahead of the time
Seeking a new proportion:
Or perhaps, only
Miming the titams.


Never Mess with a Borderline
Never mess with a Borderline.
Their testing and abandonment issues
Will always come home to bite you on your booty.
They will always seduce you.
They cannot help themselves.
It's part of the package --
Their imaginary self-deal --
I am going to be left by you.
And, yet, they will always leave you.
How do you know?
When you've been left
At the moment you least expected.

NNDiF, Feb, 2008

Nine Eleven and One: or The Eyes of the E-Train*
The Eyes of the E-Train
Still stare at me
Before a September morn
And present beyond many more
Afterwards and now
The eyes are still there
The Big Eye of Our Apple
Just at the passageway
From Chambers Street Station
To the Trade Center Stop 
A passage of eyes in tile
Mosaic of many nations
And largest of all
Iris Corona of colors

Embedded in the puzzle
Pupil Wide, Open Mouth
Fixed in a Scream:
Our City
Epicenter of the Universe

      1/11/09, a synchronicity

*Several years before 09/11/01, artists brought to life -- with dozens of mosaic eyes of many colors and ethnicities -- the walls of the subway passage between Chambers Street and the World Trade Center.  The crown jewel of this work was a grand floor mosaic that represented a map of the earth with an eye at its center,  yet seemed to me to be NYC as the epicenter of the world.  It ushered the parade of mosaic eyes to become, in my mind and in retrospect, symbolic of all the eyes that would close at 09/11/01.  This larger mosaic was called "Occulus", and was finished in 1998 by artists Kristen Jones, Andrew Ginzel and Rinaldo Piras.  


(Now, in 2016, just beyond the new WTC, we have the Oculus, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, a connection hub that continues the imagery by resembling a 'vigilant bird of prey' from the outside and a 'milky view of the interior of an eye' from within.  It looks like heaven to me and if well maintained, could become the most perfect of all the Memorials to 911.) 
After Reading Taking the Quantum Leap
When I was in my early twenties
And dumber than my dirty blonde
We talked about the "Secret of the Universe"
with solemn appropriate respect.
I said, "It will surely be a paradox,"
Having read about Black Holes being such
And feeling very clever.
Then we talked about the "Afterlife"
And feeling evermore clever I said,
"Maybe I believe in inter-galactical reincarnation!"

* * * * *

In the world of quantum mechanics
I,d like to pop the quiff
Gleefully, with zest
Jumping from Newtonian particles
To quantum interference patterns
(Or is it just the opposite?)
In my solipsistic observations
Of self and other, other and self
Free will and consciousness.
But when I am about to die I shall prefer
Parallel Universes and select the one
Where my possibility goes an and on . . . . .
No more paradoxical than particles
In the face of wave patterns.




When I imagined you were stalking me
Trolling the internet
Did you think that your persistence
Would wear me down
As my indifference
Whet your appetite for me
Revealing your lack of aptness
And quickening my revulsion for you?
I forgot . . . . . I was imagining.



But You Are a Wicked Old Soul
She feels as though she were losing him already
Yet she always dreaded this would happen.
He was now still younger than most of her poems
Yet older than she when she'd written them.
She had made certain he was perfect
And he rarely disappointed
A shining solitaire
Testament to their once-shared argosy.
How surprised she was at how he'd done it
The way that he would leave her
Always expecting a horrible accident
Or an illness
Felling his body
Cleaving his heart from soul.
She had imagined her own hospitalization
To keep her from hurting herself
At that thrall of outliving one's child
As she rended her clothes
And howled at fresh kill of the moon.
This was so simple, so elegant and so silent.
He need say nothing
It was just a choice
And she saw that a path had come to an end
Family tree with blunted trunk
Damaged branch
Ebbing life upon the bud
Never to be with blossom
Dismembered and maudled embryo.
She was startled at how much that hurt
As though the very roots felt pain
As though she were feeling all the old
Miscarriages of her life that tried to justify
A death wish on a child.
Like Demeter
She would wander
In the kingdom of the barren
While he kindly smiled
Pure as a Prince
Serene as new-born Venice
Sailing to his Ithaca
Still shaking his head, no.
It stops right here.
Always remember
You said I had to go against you --
A betrayal of the highest order --
And that when I did
I would know I had become a man.
You have gotten everything you ever wanted
And now that manhood too --
Most greedy of mothering threshers --
Which is why it stops right here.
I shall not craft
Your Venice for you
Or even your voyage to Ithaca
This you shall not have
Now I am my own self
But you are a wicked old soul.


How Could You Write That
How could you have said that
For everyone to read?
Did you not see how that would affect me?
You always taught me to be free in my speech
But be thoughtful of others.
Where is your thoughtfulness right now?



Mama Mammalia
My poetry speaks from a dark side
--Sinister window
--Shadow on my soul
So when in my poems
I'm a murthering mother
I must really mean it.
Maybe forgive me
Baby forgive me
A well-mannered mammal
A mama mammalia
--Mammaries flapping
--Occasionally slapping
A socially civilized
Smiling pink whale
Odd moments voicing anathema.
So do as I do and not as I say.


The Horses of Hector
Who writes of the Horses of Hector?
Hector, Tamer, Breaker of Horses
Dragged around Trojan walls
Again and again
By the Brutal Achilles
Who slew him by knowing
Knowing the flaw
Hole in the armor
Once worn by Patroklus*
Achilles was angry, jugular angry
While Hector beseeched for respect.
Zeus pitied the horses
Those of Achilles
Lamenting their tears
Regretting his gift
Thus garnered
Those horses our honor.**
While the Horses of Hector
Must stare at their master
Mute, shamed and mortal
The slain hero flayed
By the ground about Troy.          


*Hector was, alas, wearing the armor of Patroklus which Acchilles knew was flawed at the neck.
**See "The Horses of Achilles" by C.P. Cavafy.
What I Saw Out My Window
The buildings have torn the sky in two
--Not what you're thinking--
Just Jersey City buildings
Doing their circus side show
Maybe the late night light
has slashed the mauve
with a perfect black wound
that bleeds across the horizon


Reconstruction Site
In the shadow of 9/11
The lights creeep up on you
Surprising lights
Leaping from the shadows
Consecutive lights
High as my shoulder
Under the scaffold
From the blackness at right
And the stranger at my back
Overtaking my back
Swallowing the distance between us
Is my own shadow-self
Doing it again and again
Until the lights are gone.


We used to talk of things like this
You and I, we two, at Cafe Loup
Where we met for years
Under the brief umbrella
Of dinners with too much white wine--
Champagne and caviar to our words
We spoke portly thoughts
Or so I thought
In those brave days when we were
Hardly old yet almost wise
Still struggling for guises to live
Not die by
Live one's life as a work of art
I brayed while stuffing pate
And you gravely nodded
Always respectful
Even though you must have seen
Beneath your great thick glasses
A dour truth about these years
When I knew I knew you
But merely spoke for myself
As we all do in our flailing efforts
To connect
No more fat ducks
As I scramble onto lines--
Mourners asserting themselves--
For a place in your life
Your history
But now we can only agree
You are not here to show it
Make sure they all will know
While we press each other for position--
Mired by our wallow of questions--
To cry I loved her
Or I was her lover
Or I loved her most of all
Almost forgetting the grief
Of those who really did
Too late
We are all here too late
Oddly uninvited
Yet graciously received
Tell me, Callie,
When you called to seek advice
About a suicidal friend
Were you calling for yourself?
Was the bell for thee?
If that, we heeded not
So I tell myself you are at peace,
Make do without your art


Commentary on "Callie"
The six "not knowings" in the poem for my step-sister, Callie Angell:
1) The not knowing why.
2) The not knowing more of your vision.
3) The not knowing of miscommunication.
4) The not knowing of one another's rlationships, and relationships with you, that only you could know.
5) The not knowing what you did and did not know about yourself and what you might have done.
6) The not knowing when one should have known better, as when one should have known for whom the bell tolls.







*early notepad computer
**e-books circa 2010

The Sun Today
The sun did not get up today--

he has such a hangover.

And his beard of clouds droops

lower than his belly.

What fun if a finger of moon should appear
And tickle him awake anyhow.

                                                        Summer, 2010


Dead Pigeon on a Ledge: 90 West St
The pigeon is dead on the ledge
and it seems unbearable
I want to scream
and weep for its dumb mate
waiting for it to awaken
keeping futile vigil
on the slender shelf of window
along our West Side Highway
wind from the Hudson
baring winter teeth--
This building is a classic
designed by Cass Gilbert
he of Woolworth fame
whose name is like stained glass
steepled in spires
at last a hand in need
to still the eye
or shelter December chill--
Only the traffic flying by
can give that bird its wings
and for days I am afraid
to raise my eyes
on that walk I take to task
striding towards its beauty
writhing under truth--
By solstice not a feather's trace
while just behind me
we race to finish the Freedom Tower.

                                                                    Fall, 2010

Random Thoughts
Our lives seem a war game against our bodies
She killed herself while sitting in a foxhole
Who wouldn't wonder why she's yet here
Or not
Still, I can leave my trenches
Instead,sail my boat
Pretending to be at the helm

                                 Fall, 2010


Dead People
Have the dead people
really settled into our lungs?
Unspoken heart of lamenting
doling and settling with money
they all say nothing is settled
a friend said no one can settle
be at peace without some remains
I remind her of all lost at sea
or those who perished in war
their bodies unclaimed or forgotten
we have lost forever for ages
To me it"s merely the dead people
dead people in my lungs
clawing enraging their way to be heard
unique in their own dust to dust
yet like all others before them
The wailing will never get better
the way they're going about it:

"You need to be angry
as long as you need
but try to remember
you'll never be healed
til you let go the anger"

I sigh
They answer that nothing is settled
until their dead ones come home
never forget the banner of Israel
China lost five times galore
too booted subdued to complain
what numbers do more?
you'd rather percentiles?
where Israel wins for its loss?
I started to cough in
October, October of 2001
I couldn't go home
unless with I.D.
to answer my email
or water the plants
not nearly dead yet
(Whither thou goest?
To water withered plants
To talk to them with
Mighty words
Weighty words
To nurture them onward
Within the dirty air and
So from hither I goeth)
After picking up mail
from Bowling Green post stop
not gone missing
I'd stare at computer
monitor laboring
stunned by the blow
inhaling thin needles
thimbles of people
into my lungs
Every so often
come brief fits of coughing
it comforts me as the
dead in my lungs
I've stopped my response to the
9/11 survey, survey of health
come hopeful to my door
as a lost abandoned cur
But the grace of remains
of Eleven, September
is with me forever and ever.


The Days Before 9/11: Falling Objects
I said to my grown child
Visiting for a friend's wedding:
Don't walk under the bridge
Between Deutche Bank
And the World Trade Center.
It's been closed for years
And I see that metal plates have fallen off.
Why has it not been torn down.
It's not safe.
Don't walk down Liberty Street.*
All that summer
I'd had a fear
Of air conditioners
Falling from building's windows
Since I'd never understood
Why so few had died by their fall
I often stuck to the gutter.**
At brunch we spoke
About Rome
The Palatine
The civilization buried.
When I mused
That ours might come to an end
My husband soothsaid
He did not know when
"But you can be sure
if it happens we
did not watch our backs."***
The day after tomorrow
It happened****
Pulverized concrete
Crumbled like the Palatine.



Poem About Immortality or Be Careful What You Wish For
Gregory Sampson awoke one day
From his cryogenically frozen slumber
To discover that he really was a cockroach.
To be clear, there had been virtually
No transformation
No metamorphosis
He was exactly the same
Except that he now knew he was
Indeed, a cockroach.
Wanting to live forever he had paid
A Shah-worthy sum to have his person sustained
In a medically induced facsimile of coma
That preserved his thought-to-be-handsone
Thought-to-be-himself self
In a special cryocrypt
At an undisclosed and classified research lab
He would be awakened at the Ascension
The Ascension of Immortality.
Unlike his nearly eponymous Kafkaesque forebear
He did not soon apprehend his cockroach status
Rather, his enlightenment crawled slowly as a dull dawn
Until it became blinding: he was a coakroach by comparison.
Gregor Samsa had easily stumbled
Upon awareness of his new cockroach self
Through the awkward misuse of his body parts
While Gregory learned through the sluggish and nauseating
Realization that every creature he encountered
Was far more physically dazzling
And mentally brilliant than he.
He had awakened to a world of superior beings
In which he was an evolutionary nadir
Not the forward-thinking avatar he had imagined.
At this epiphany, his moment of resurrection
Gregory wanted to be dead.
Next came the torture of Gregory
Followed by his condemnation
To irrevocable immortality, an automatic hell.

                                                        Winter, 2010-2011

First Sentence in Italian, Summer of '66
It was chocolate and liquor
and keys in the river
not quite in that order
but that was the recipe
Somehow, "Io ho dimenticato
la chiave" had become a theme
and she realized it had been lifelong:
Having a key
forgetting it
throwing it
down the garbage shute
hoisted with it
by her hundred petards
dropping the key in the slot
between elevator cab and
the eternity of its shaft
wanting it back and
the solutions we see
yet let slip away
Even Mimi loses her key and dies
never mind the falling in love
and tuberculosis in-between
was that it?
what have we begun
again and again?
In the end
her father had strung
all his diplomas, awards
in the garage
like doomed hanged men
someone whose history papered
the walls and was written
with long-expired license plates
nailed to an outhouse stall
defiling his own success
Last days he walked a circle
over and over
altogether without a key


Take My Word
Take my word and
Do not take my words
Don't you dare
I am my words
But I just keep standing there
Like a huge failing tower
I can think them but
I cannot hear them screaming
As they fall       

                          03/ 11




Within the House of Atreus


Make me moan again

All of me

Make me shudder and fall

from the wall

Like Helen of Troy

Helen of Sparta

Fall from topless towers

Lost in Heaven's sky

Towers to be burned


Toppled to the ground

Helen in the arms of Paris

All of Ilium dying.

                                   Circa Winter 2011-2012

                                   Upon reading Helen of Troy

                                   by Bettany Hughes

Let Me Alone
Let me alone
Let me alone with my words
They will rub against my breast
Like a cheese grater
They could make me behave
Or make a soufflee




The Word Scoliosis
Almost onomotopoeic*
The word scoliosis
Coils round and around
Like a snake
And the backs of
Me and Richard III

*metaonomotopoeic said one source



The Most Cutting Thing
The most cutting thing is
the disdain of youth
arrogance of youth
stupidity of youth
wrongness of it
that cannot be told
until you are far too old
to tell anything.

          Winter, 2011

The Body is Remembering
The body is remembering
the old young self
now collapsed into
pursy prunery.
crepery papery
And the mind?
Is it minding
that simple self?
And which the simpler
or the worse?

                              Spring, 2011

The Watershed of Self-Assessment
At the age of thirty-five
I became very focused on my brain
My looks had not led me
To the too-wicked stage
Or God
Nor bought me lotteries of money
And the visage got odder by the day:
Can no longer trade on this
Well rehearsed package
So no more truck with that
I came to think a thought or two
Stir the slumbering brain
Something I had not done
Else and heretofore

                  Winter, 2011

Once Upon a Stephen Hawking Book
(Or: M-Theory and "The Grand Design")
It has been embarrassing
to have read
in the book I read
thus perseverating
as an obsessive self-replicator
wanting to understand the multiple universes
and that gravity (or was it anti-gravity?)
is somehow imparticled unwaved
that is the opposite
of the nothing
that quantum evented
the big bang
the poop scoop of infinite possible universes
and infinite possible histories of ourselves
Is possible probable?
Is probable possible
God started as a quantum event
grave as gravity
mega as m-theory
gradual as g-force
energy darker than darth vader
energy of empty space itself
hologram of a black hole
where we are stored on the surface
living our lives in god's cosmic computer


I am two years old . . . plus a bit
He placed me on a wall
Like Helen of Troy
On Riverside Drive
And we did the alphabet
And counted to ten
My thrilling father
Home from the War


He Said
Let me throw you on a roller coaster
Let me show you how to ride the waves
Let me almost kill you
And then know when to kiss you
To keep me alive
To keep us alive


Temple of Diana

In a temple

A Temple of Diana

A Temple of the Vestal Virgins

Sacred Forest of Nemi

He waits


He stays because it's what he does

He can only ever stay

And they, the others

Wait still the vigil

The vigil to take his place

Slay him one shall surely do

As it is long expected

The ritual without a choice*

The virgins sleep

Without a sound

He is waiting

The fire is keeping

All is forgotten

But soon remembered

In deepest of sleep


Tomorrow he shall rise

Disturbed by his visions

Still crouch and pace

Holding his knife

Staying his life

He stays because it's what he does

He waits for his own demise

Waiting to become the kill

As he has killed before

Awaiting his When I Die

Will fighting for his life

He does this, what he must

Thus too, to all of us


*The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer. Diana's priest, King of the Wood, was required to slay his predecessor in the eternal circle of life and death. Diana of Nemi is associated with the Vestal Virgins and she bore the title of Vesta. The Golden Bough was an oak from which no branch might be broken, a sacred tree within Diana's Sacred Grove near the Italian village of Nemi. The King of the wood is guardian of the Vestals' Perpetual Fire, Diana's Sacred Grove and his own doomed existence.

Death Anxiety
Every day I watch myself dying
In front of the mirror,
I feel as though I am in Nabokov's Laura
Devouring myself alive
But I have eaten this way
Since eighth grade: grammar school
I watched myself dying
Line by Line and
Watching Eating Marching
In the nettle of it
I missed the day
I turned into a swan
I only know I became a swan
Because others once told me so:
You were swanning through the halls
Not knnowing I was absent that day ---
And still---
So busy with my vigil.


Sailing Knots
I cannot work my sailing knots
I am slipping away
On a noose I cannot even tie
I am getting to see myself die
In enormous gulps
That I have always taken of myself
In some carefully secreted narcissism
But also
Of the pale graveyard ghost
Digging at my brain.


Nefertiti did not have Tamoxifen
And other breast elixirs or interventions
Which does not mean such tender heel
As breast for her
How did she suffer
This understanding
Of her own mortality?
Did she watch herself
Her own body every day?
Body yet not betray me again
As you always do
And as it is meant to be.
Please remember
That I shall eat myself alive
Before you win


Fungible Friable* Breasts



*In medical terminology, "friable tumor" is a term used to describe malignant tissue that is easily torn apart.  It is often a sign that the tumor has matastasized.  Usually the word friable means crumbling, an odd yet not malappropriate adjective for a failing breast.  (A "fungible breast" reminds me of Tom Sawyer's "morbid toe.") 

Homage to William Blake
You are dying
Now cut and put
In water
We shall watch one another
Vibrate and Shimmer
You and I together
As you unfold, we unfold
Forgetting the deceit
The betrayal
The worm-riddled death
Of that rose.


The Panther
Some say that breast cancer
Loves to go to the bones.
They also say I have arthritis
But the pain keeps coming back:
The Panther with his teeth in my groin
claws tearing my loins
I recite:
"Tyger, Tyger
Burning bright
In the forest of the night"
Like a mantra of
Incantatory powers
But it does no good
He frames my fearful symmetry
Tyger and Panther together
Like a story for a child
But not.



I Feel Like
I feel like someone's experiment
A puppet getting rashes
Cancer and other ugly things
Unseemly diseases
Once hushed
Once told in dead filmmaker cinema
Those whispers, sighs and white
Victorian dresses like death
One who must persevere for science
The C.V. of my doctor
Or even the evolution of
My family's proud pool of genes
Swimming like frantic sperm in the ouvre
Of yet another filmmaker of fame --
Even if genes don't swim
But lurk and hover over lives
As ominous birds of prey --
Must persevere for past and future plagues
Assure them I still smile.


Hey, Whit
Hey Whit, Hey Whitman
I hear you whistling
My Whistler Boy, my dandelion boy
I want to roll down a hill of dandelions
With you in my arms.


For Each Grandchild
Oh, sweet baby
Let the world
Not break your heart
Too Much.
Too Fast.
Too Strong.


Hungry, I would break
Teeth on a gourd
I am an animal
Animal anathema
Misanthropic social student
An introverted paradox
Self-devouring and
Destined to dance
Seldom speaking to my partner
As though dancing with a stranger
Few shall say such things
But I know I am not alone


Could we dissolve, devolve
into minutia in two more
generations? I surely am!
Minutia of my mind,
my excuse is age, so
ask yourselves if you are
devolving, dissolving
delicious young ones.
But you cannot
you are in it
I am not.
Our texts are so different
and that is just the start





*mnemonic device for the meaning of three vocabulary words





                                                           Making It Up as I Go Along

My Life

Everything in Life, my life
Lately seems about Meaning
If not about Meaning
It's Beauty or Truth
Ethics as Aesthetics
Values as Quantities
Morality as Qualities
Capital Abstracts
Emboldened in Gold

Meaning is Beauty
No Beauty is Truth
But Truth is a lie
Beauty nearly dies
Is fleetingly revived
Holds hands with Truth
As they struggle to rise
Ascend to fluffy skies
Philosophy cries

Ethics, Morality and
Noble Values wail
My Meaning prevails
My liar has won me
He rubs his hands in glee
No Golden Bold needs he

A Beautiful Picture

This is a beautiful picture
The surgeon stated
Referring to the scan, its quality
He quickly qualified
There my skeleton stood
With earring studs and hoops
And I had to allow a gasp
Vanity most thrallful
Acknowledging the
Excessive plasticity of those
Exquisitely contorted bones
Serpentine curve still
Pressing to coil
Like Daphne turning to tree
Imprisoned by my scoliosis
And its Harrington Rod bailor.

                           Spring, 20014

I Need to Call You

I need to call you from the window of my brain
I shall throw up the sash and holler aloud
Before I am discovered in the act and my
Gatekeeper slams the window shut
                                                             Spring, 20014



The Tollund Man Nightmare


I am lying in a bog with an Incubus

An Incubus of Seamus Heaney

Demonic infant Seamus Heaney 

Feeding on my breast


It is the White Mare of the Night

Come at Midnight

Rider on an Ashen Horse

Galloping through the Fright

Squatting on my frail ribs


I cannot pull out of the bog

Or out of the wolf-toothed dream

The wolves are always howling 

And I must run with them like Artemis

Diana who runs with the wolves


I cry to my spouse in that half-state

Of paralyzed limbs when the dread

Has settled on one's breast

And the breath is as absent as the voice

And the legs can run no more


Help me, Help me; Pull me out

I cannot move

I saw the Tollund Man

He has the Face of my Father

That River of Blood runs through me

Cliffs and icy fjords slice me until 

I am swallowed in the Danish fen

So afraid of that Pale Horseman


Seamus Heaney was not

So here I shall lie with an Incubus on my chest

In a peat bog where I may not have been seen

Barely glimpsed, not noticed in the quaking muck

Sucked downward and hidden by the sphagnum moss

A voice without an echo


Seamus Heaney smiles at me

From the cover of his book 

And I see it is the Tollund Man*

Perfectly preserved, prehistoric

The Man sacrificed and placed

In the peat bog, eyes closed

Beatific smile in rapture

Embraced by the primevol ooze

Reunited with the darkness




*There is controversey as to whether the Tollund Man, found in a peat bog in Denmark, is a hanged criminal, a victim of torture, or a ritual sacrifice of nobleman to the gods.  This same controversey occurs over the Irish peat bog people and the bog children.  (The Yde Girl is a 16 year old girl, discovered in the Netherlands and thought to have been sacrificed because of the scoliosis that rendered her defective.)  The poet Seamus Heaney is well known for his "Tollund Man," from the 1972 collection Wintering Out,"  as well as "The Grauballe Man," "Punishment," and "Bog Queen," which first appeared in his 1975 collection of North.  



I Am in a Bog


Still in a bog with Seamus Heaney

Even if he did not choose me

Even if they did not choose me

For the ritual sacrifice

Still makes him smile


And even as I did not choose him

Blind hands are stirring the bog.



Subway Encounter

I saw a woman on the subway
This week
She was like me
But older
Still good featured in her years
She knew I knew
In my younger old age
What I was seeing
She removed her sunglasses
To let me view
To let me see her work
Her perfect liquid eyes

She was magnificent
Leonine and proud
But that face vibrated
Shook with a palsy of excess
She could not control
Her facial orgasms
Or her desire; or of simply
Having been alive too long
Thus raged at this indignity


This Before the Cradle Falls

My weak genes still survive
I am alive because no one is attacking me
That'll be soon enough
All too soon
The cradle of civilization
Is rocking hard
Is very angry
It has lost its words
And found other means

The Cradle of Civilization

From the Cradle of Civilization
There grew a giant child
Knocking down sandcastles
Loud lungs wailing

How did this come to be?
You gve us something and went on
But you became petulant
Always cheated
Always angry
At our indifference

Allow me please
To apologise for your
Resentment of me
For what civiliztion has done
And you can oly abhor

Jihad-me-not and remember that
ISIS was once Isis
Wed to Osiris
Goddess of Fertility
Now in the death aspect
Of the circle of life?

Because you think to not do it
Often shamed by your own
Blind behavior
But do it anyway
A compulsion
Spewed fro the voracious
Mouth of obsession
Whole continents weep blood for you.
My Cradle of civilization.

Lily of the Valley

I am now a lily of the valley
Delicate, modest
Shy bell eyes averted
Color of alabaster
Turned towards the ground
But utterly poisonous
To myself too soon alas
To others grown weary
Of my bitter taste and
My own contempt for
This lingering this
Underground prolixity
And livid red berries
Once a wedding bouquet

It's Time

It's time for the
Dye of my life to weep
To bleed like madras
Color stopped somewhere
On the cloth
Fading so soon in the sun

Articulate Future

We used to toil
Over these words
Yes we did
When we were
Still speaking

Now we spit
Bullets of text
Cursive gone the way
Of calligraphy
Brave new brain tendrils
Dendrites marching on
Thrilling at their own splendour

The telegram --
Tapped out then
And now another way --
Must have seemed the same

Yet here we are
In spite of ourselves
Seeking novel versions
Of deep connection
Pockets of fossil fuel
In a stormy northern ocean

From a Gabled Dormer

I think I felt the
Sooner than I should have
Age seven, staring
At my Aesop's Fables book
There, a rendition of death
As cloaked skeleton with scythe
Holding the hourglass of time
And that oversized sickle
The Grim Reaper too soon
Came calling in my life

And in the Temple of Diana
Temple of the Westal Virgins
He rests the scythe awhile
But one eye on the hourglass
He always waits for me.*



Being in the Temple of Diana


Give or take

The genetic

Crushing blows

To my body


Balanced by

Several pleasing


Even virtues


I have gotten


I have ever wanted

And it's terrifying:


He who kills the pacer

In the Temple of Diana

Treads softly as he appproaches

Breaches the Sacred Grove


I do not think he sees me

Wants only to kill the pacer

Lives to kill the pacer

The pacer he's been promised

The pacer most of all


Not got the pacer yet -- he waits

Nor gotten all he's wanted -- waits

Told he might be chosen -- leaps

Too late I see I am the pacer

The prey that he shall keep

The prey that he shall kill.



See Also: "Temple of Diana"


Animals of the Pack


To have climbed the crabapple apple tree

And gone onto the roof that windowed on my bedroom

Like another dimensioned portal that I might crawl into

In that long hard black hold kind of way

I was clawing to master


Was one thing


But to have been safe in my bedroom

At dusk with a pack of ten cats

Or so it seemed that day

Cats who had climbed my tree


Was another


The cats were howling in August heat

Seeking insistent

Something unfathomed

Or simply infatuated by our own queens

Our House Cats in heat

All to join in a Ferragosto harvest

Harvest of mid-August heat

An orgy on my bedroom floor if I unlocked the screens


But this whole pack? But why?

Cats I thought don't run in packs

Seeking insistent

Something unfathomed

Were they calling me?


I cowered yet cried aloud

To join them for one moment

Before being mayhemmed

Because I had never

Slithered out my window --

Only into it --

Onto the roof

Like the feral feline I became


They are still howling

After me like wolves

Crying alone in alleys

Of my dimming brain

But lions always heed the pride

Never running the hunt alone


Needing the pride

Wanting the pride

I decided to be a lioness

Masked face of golden fur.





The Critic


My father judged my poems 

As "laundry" hung in narrow places

A thin line of mismatched flags

Waving between tenement buildings


While I still pray they might

Stand in sight of those "Bone Dreams"

Those lines of "skinny quatrains" *

By Seamus Heaney



*P. 94 of Seamus Heaney:Poet, Critic, Translator by Crowder ad Hall ("Heaney has become well known for such skinny quatrains.")




Gertrude Stein

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose
And the Emperor Has No Clothes
A Rose for Emily
By Sacred Emily*
Emily Dickinson Dead.

*"Sacred Emily" is a poem by Gertrude Stein about a person stuck in her character.





Sometimes you just need

To leave the poem alone

It's going to be and let it be . . .

'Til entropy

For then is when

Neither you nor I nor the poem

Shall be

In any form


And this, no worse a verse

Than a rose is a rose is a rose

A verse that arose

That thinks it's a rose

So leave the words alone


She Needs a Boyfriend and More Work

I was furious
Explain your Tibetan Medicine
She is not depressed
By an excess of air
Digestive Air --
Your diagnosis for me, my patient
(we all say shrinks are full of hot air)
And all the rest of the suffering world --
But by love and labor deficits

Next you'll be telling me
About Hippocrates
And the Four Humours --
Though Melancholy could apply --
Say it in a way we can comprehend
You make it more arcane
Than quantum physics
Which I try to understand
And then forget
The strain too hard to bear

The recondite
The conundrum
Palpably ephemeral
Ambiguously ambivalent
Transparently opaque
And other paradoxical
Floating like ether
To oblivian in my favored
Hot air balloon of art
Those are great
For poems I write
Leave and let reader be
Bring a meaning unique

But not Ever Ever Ever
For my hard-edged everday
Onomatopoeic effect
As in pragmatic like a rock
And my thus far functioning gut


Life in the Lurid Lane


Screw you, God Delusion book*

I want a human delusion

That must invent meaning

Perceives the god

Is not as expected

And then does science

To realize by reprise

That science holds seeds

Of extremely creepy deities --

Because we are a hologram

A projection --


Maybe even a computer simulation

And if the physicists are correct

Who or what is simulating?

Who or what , if not a "god?"

A loudly laughind computer game

A lurid funhouse architect

Enjoying that we cannot know the simulation

Because we are trapped within it.



*The God Delusion by Stephen Dawkins






The only right and wrong

In the universe is

Mathematics and

Despite such perfection

It seems a metaphor bereft

Time and again a

Closed hard capsule

Like a bi-valve that

Cannot be pried open

Seemingly untouched

By empirical validity

But flawless in its theory


How shall we be without

Metaphor, non-math signs

symbols anathema



And Yet


If I better understood the maths

Then maybe I would stand in wonder

Wonder stand that it could hold

The metaphor for everything

Algorythms for all our worlds.




Before My Post-Prehensile Days


Before my post-prehensile days

Philosophy was recondite conundrumate

A rock with a fossil inside --

That almost looked made up

A neologistic artifact

Brachiopod shells captured within

Cracked and fractured shale

Before fracking wracking obdurate skull

Could question the would be in the woods

The forest would I ever find it

And what would I do when I found it

Would never understand it

Could not get through the woods

Of words, worlds and woulds

And those mocking my wolves

And my escaped criminals

That we all secretly root for

Because they are very bad but they

Still have that primitive

Life Death lust that is not

Pure and Noble in itself

But that we long for

Because we do not have it

Anymore, No more Forever




Times Are


Times are

I must use words

Like "Must Should & Ought"

'Lest I leave this earth

By equivocastion

Lacking the gravity

to remain earthbound

Drone driven

Without direction


But that may be later

And all anticipation gone.




Many Millennials


Many Millennials are

Sickened with Velleity

Sounds as though they're airborne

Like Felicity or Gaiety

But how so be it not:


Velleity lacking velocity

Lowest level of Volition




A Question of Values


The bird was there

The bird from the t.v. show*

Somehow ravaged by its attraction

To like things: colorful pieces of vinyl

Vivid as its plumage

I could not see how it had died

But it died with its guts full of plastic


I dreamed of the bird

And my dog, long gone

And the bird once again

Both sucked down by the water

Below the balcony

The whirlpool of water

Like a toilet flushed


I wanted back the white wicker chair

The chair I'd tossed off the balcony

To "save them" in its wicker nest

Both bird and dog, but in truth

I only cared for the white wicker chair

Alas, for me, no more anymore


The chair whirled in the whirlpool

And I knew it, too, would be gone

Still, it was warm there in paradise

With bright birds that circled

Like Vultures



*Documentary my husband was watching, which I interrupted by returning home from work.




Only the Moon


Who is watching me?

Only the moon

The sun is too busy

Getting to be

Super Nova Queen

Giant Diva Star

That takes this place


Only my moon

For now for me




Yde Girl*


I am the Yde Girl

Back from the Bog

Again and again

You can see her

See me in her

Trapped in the Bog

Her blood seeping into my genes


They pull me out

Peat-shovelling peasants

And scream

She is the Devil

The blonde hair is now

More florid than fire

Bog time has done this


They say she was

A sacrifice

Her delicate scoliosis

A return to the serpent

Gave a limp

Thus twice the Devil


Some say she was

Merely murdered

Or ritually executed

Perhaps an adultress

But others say that

Thus flawed, she was

The perfect sacrificial vessel


The peasants chopped her

When they found her

Chopped her with their shovels

Thus twice made dead

To be resurrected by a poet.**

                                                  Spring, 2016


*The Yde Girl was found centuries after her death in Netherlands bog land.  She was discovered by peasants digging for peat moss in the year 1897.  She was almost perfectly preserved by the sphagnum moss that is found in many bogs.  The peasants thought they had met the devil (on account of her blond hair that had been turned red by the bog) and nearly destroyed her body with their shovels. 


**The poet Seamus Heaney devoted multiple poems to the bog people and was, as he admitted, "almost in love" with the "little adultress," another of his bog goddesses.  ("Punishment," by Seamus Heaney)



 Wish to the Universe


He found the Yde Girl

As they dug her up

Up from the Iron Age bog

Or even before then


He found her and saw

That she should live

And should have lived

Back then and when

And yes she does


How he loved the leathery bog

Trodding its sphagnum mosses

And its ruminant gourd-like

Goddesses that he caressed

With gentle necrophilia


As I plant by program

My words on the internet

Poems as lost as un-named

Suns in the universe

Like Emily Dickinson

Sewing her words

In the silk sacks of

Her butterfly cocoon


I think of heaven

As being found

By some-one-thing

So far from now

I  almost float with delight

Yet trapped in the

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Vibrations shimmering out of sight

Till one day lifted

By my balloon of oblivion.

                                                 Spring, 2016



 Please Bury Me


Please bury me

In a Danish Bog

Though the Bogs

Of Northern Ireland

Or the Netherlands'

Bogs would do


Just place me there

A rope around my body

And neck

My hands bound

To a hard copy of

My poems

Encased in the

Time Capsule of an

Airplane's 'Black Box'

Emptied of all voice data

But mine and

Orange as the

Aphrodite waves

of the Yde Girl's hair.



My poems grasped

Or not

Stay in my hands

And shall keep forever

In my vision of forever

Become the Yde Girl

Returned to her

Home in the Bog.

                                    Winter, 2017



 Wrong Body, Wrong Brain


There is something


Wrong with me


I am a serpent

Who escaped the reptile

But got its devil

Its fork-ed tongue

Into us, our DNA


Beware the Scoliotic

They have the serpent:

We knew this in the Iron Age

When we killed the fiery Yde Girl . . .

Because, just because


And I among the doomed

A left-hander too.




Viking Eyes


Things came and went 

In my life

I lower my face

And raise these eyes

Something inhuman

The tyger, burning bright

But in the worng place

Deep-set eyes of the North

Rolling under their hood of bone

Faces that brought fear stay--

While I shiver and feel 

I shall die of the cold

A stranger among my people

                                               Winter Solstice, 2018, NNDif



Only a Trace


My people were not nice


They rooutinely sacrificed girls

like me

Back when I was a girl

But before I existed: 




Sarifice has been before:

Some even got famous

Self-sacrifice famous

Called to be martyred

Obliterate self of self

Fabulous press


While girls in Danish bogs had 

Only their peat bound bodies

To affirm their sacrifice

And were forgot*

With nary a rune**


They are their own only record:

Goddesses of sphagnum moss


Overwrought concupiscence

Seeded by a corn god or two


Tacitus branded the Norsemen:

Natural born killers they were

To whom did he refer:

These early gifters, givers to gods?

Or Vikings in longboats, men who set forth?

What gave them the worth of said name?


Not all Danes were Vikings

Not all Vikings Danes

Sacrifices became

Then came back again

Driven by hunger

Seldom for glory or

Fame for oneself


These givers were clever

Understood to conceal

The remnants

Of a god's last meal

And so they did

Until the bog


Regurgitated back


We were everywhere 

Back then 

But soon to be no more

Like Neanderthals

Also forgot, nary a rune

Big heads, redheads

Our eyes too narrowed, deep

Theirs too set apart, open

                                            February, 2019, NNDiF

Archaic use of word "forgot," as in Cobbett's History of England, William Cobbett, 1810, pp. 565-6, "And in King Charles II's they were forgot and left starving . . . " 

**Ancient writing system on small stones or bones used as divinatory symbols.





Girls streaming down

The escalator

Some with backs turned

Taking Selfies*

Arms outstretched and beckoning


I think them foolish

A school of following fish

And labor hard in my head

To scorn them

Envy whispering loud

Remembering those lost

Salad Days of Youth


Then to my mind a rescue:

A poem by William Carlos Williams:**


     Come with us and play!

See, we are tall as women!

     Our eyes are keen:

Our voices speak outright

we revel in the seas's green!

     Come play:

     It is forbidden!


Some days later

A brief shiver

And a lively party

Champagne like seafoam

Remind me that what seemed

Evermore forbidden

Is Forbidden Nevermore

As a beautiful woman

Extends her admiration

Arms embracing


Surely it was the champagne

Casting that momentary spell

                                                       11/13/2016, NNDiF***


*A popular way to photograph oneself by cellular phone, circa 2016


**From the "Birth of Venus Song" by William Carlos Williams (Young girls playing on the shore of West Haven, CT.)


Apropos of nothing but my dislike of "old ways" being replaced by the new, I was surprised to learn that William Carlos Williams was very upset by plans to build the George Washington Bridge.  This irony from a man otherwise so forward thinking!  He could not imagine the beauty and necessity of this structure that, in fact, did not destroy the grandeur of the New Jersey Palisades.  To one degree or another each generation stumbles into the future, nostalgic about its surely mis-remembered past. 



 I Ran Faster


I used to go out with the grandson

of William Carlos Williams:

Paul was his name, Paul Williams

sophomore at Bates College.

He was a runner, with

a tight hard body

whose muscles were as

peeled as loins exposed

through sweat clung shorts.


My father liked Paul

because he was the

grandson of a famous

poet and my Freshman

Lit professor liked me

because I knew the poetry.


Paul and I would neck

in his grandfather's garage.

He would have deflowered me there

but I was still a virgin

and much too scared of that.

Many hours were spent in

William C.'s garage, awakening

each other's puberty

with awkward hands

in the raw winter night.


Paul's parents were formal

They scrutinized with oblique glances.  

But I was blameless

In my careful ash-blonde curls

and fully buttoned shirtwaist.

Eighteen, I looked but fourteen.*


Yet Paul was diffident and

I resonated too much

to his wary just-cuffed look. 

I couldn't bear to see myself in him

cringing at imaginary blows

both too shy, too much alike


Mute before a sibyl's words

her beckoning incantation

we only heard our bodies touch

rarely disturbed the silence and

I knew I needed a more

conventional man,

a well blonded football

player with melon biceps

and a belly already

beginning to soften


I still often thrill to 

think of Paul and wonder

if I could have banished my fear-fraught

chill had we just gone somewhere warmer?

Shared a seasonal eggnog? 


And William Carlos?

Sound asleep upstairs and nearly deaf?

How glad he would have been

to have known the poetic strength

of his Rutherford garage!

                                                Circa 1980-1985; minor revisions, 04/2017 & 11/11/19


*To be honest, I cannot remember if I really met his parents.  I have a dim memory of this, which might have been an amalgam of having met other boyfriends' parents.  In my mind I had met them on a New Year's Eve, briefly, before we all headed to wherever we might have been going.  One can be certain he met my parents.  I'd not have gotten out the door without that.  Nevertheless, having met his parents still feels very real.



 The Grandson, Paul


Too sensitive

Too fine-boned

Too vulnerable

Too fragile a beauty


Whereas, I was

All that and not

Too available

Closed and passive

As a bivalve

No venus on the halfshell


I shuddered

As I saw myself

In his eyes

His rear view mirror

And turned my head away

For hours we would

Ride in silence

Enjoying the comfort of

The things we did not do or say

Say or do


Back in that year

The Year of our Lord

Nineteen Hundred and Sixty-Two

Our Winter of Sixty-Two

                                              Winter, 2017




That my people stayed

Too long in cold northern climes

Has led to ice, a dry ice

Deep inside me

Genes now rising

Like cliffs from

The frozen fjords

In my veins and my

Father's name was Clifford.



Remembering Now


When life was low

And I had forgotten all


I would look out

At the River

From my window

Be in the River

The Hudson

Washing over me

Even when it was firthy

Eels at the sewer pipe exit

Just before the Bridge


The River teaching me

To swim

Up in Nyack

Before the hurricane

Sucked the sand away

Like a soda


I used to dream

Of you, River


Beneath a waterfall

Even before that happened

My dream of hope

And promise


Now you are that and more

And I shall miss you

Everyday when I am gone

Most fulfilling of all*


*But I'll be with you when I am gone, unless they put me in the Danish Bog, which is highly unlikely.  (See above, "Please Bury Me," Winter, 2017.)





Five Fiats


Five pronouncements he gave

Never found a place in my brain




You look like that woman on the cover--

That magazine on the hamper--

(A French movie star?! the only one there)

I struggled to dis-decree the decree

I knew I had very well heard




You were nothing special as a child

But you are rather something now

Yes, I knew I had very well heard




You'll turn out taller than the the lot of them

And you'll call yourself Neysa

And I came to exist indeed

Even without his decrees

And incantations

His making me with his words




But forty years later

I in early elder, he in very elder

I'd seen my face was

Like his grandmother's

And wondered at it--

Yes, well, maybe so he said--

The ugliest woman alive

She sat in the back yard

Swilling gin and chewing tobacco

She'd save her dirty bathwater for me.


Now he is gone and

I am age seventy-three

Done almost full-circle and

Dis-decreed of all decrees.





Manually and Late at Night


Manually and late at night

     I write poetry on paper towels*

In secret

     And always with a Waterman

Fountain pen

     Marbled blue but nib

Gone bent


My mother preferred

     Her Underwood

That dark towering creature

     With brassy keys like teeth


Pounding those keys

     Was hard and one developed

A strange animal prowess


One could become a goddess in

     The hands of an Underwood


           *whose evidence of my indulgence

                may be swiftly disposed of next day

            shredded and water soaked

                dark blue Waterman ink

            circling down the sink

                paper towel squeezed to wet ball

            yet some have made it this far

            even as footnotes

                poems within poems.

                                                     Circa Winter -Spring, 2017



Jello Wind


The wind feels like jello

Said my son

In the back seat of the car

Window down wide

Back when four-year-olds

Did not require

Car seats or safety helmets

Our yet next great restraint

To keep one's safety in place


I recalled another younger

But maybe later day

When we too walked to

Some fno-forgotten-place

Mission important

Now mission Unknown


And a square block of wind

A block from the tongs

Of a toiling iceman

Slipping from top floor

Tenement stairs

Pushed steps back

Yet somehow we still stood

Wind, Iceman and All


MOMMY, make it go away!

I can't; it's the wind--

We can only head home

Or seek shelter--

Now for the child

Comes the loss of

The jello wind

And the first embrace

Of the Iceman

                              Winter, 2017



 Another Caught Fish


My brain is caught

Amidst evolution . . .

Last time brains

Got caught

They had time

Now there is no time

It's halppening and we

Live it before our eyes . . .

Drop downs

Within drop downs

Slam doors

Every Day

And I am hoping

My diligence

My intelligence

Shall prevail

And can't:

Am a lizard hissing

With hate at the too new

Just want to be done with it


But the girls taking Selfies

In dangerous places

Keep calling

And falling.

                          Early Spring, 2017





You can tell you

Are getting old

When you start fondling


Especially objects

In your home

Objects that in your youth

Had no meaning

A stone is a stone

After all . . .

Or is it? Why do you have it?

Suddenly the debris--

The detritis of your life

(Wasn't that phrase in a book you read?

Or did you steal it from your own verse?)

Pervasive as disaster

Everywhere always

Dirty as the Rings of Venus--

Seems neon-fused

With meaning

Suddenly it is.





I let my bones bend


to let time go on

It must

And I wait


For the next event


Enter silent Entropy

Swift from the shadows.




Stopping Evolution


A problem with cloning--

Stem-cells that regrow us

Body part by body part

Towards flawed immortality--

Is that we evade evolution.

Who says we get to do that?

Who says we do not?

Moreover: who chooses

The chosen forevers?


By doing it we are.

I am not too goddish

But I really think we are . . .


Yet maybe just maybe

Can cloning be a part of it?

Another face of evolution

Precient and ineluctable

Doing what what we did before

Doing what we maybe must

Before it comes . . .

Our Red Giant Sun?




Dancing on the Tree


I was eleven

An ending elvin one

I was sunburned

By a day at the beach

The shore, the Jersey Shore


My father wanted me

To get something

Something from Sid's

Sid's General Store

My grandmother

Who lived with us

Saw Ocean Grove

Had hurt me and


Just wear your shorts


I was eleven

Elvin still and

More breastless

Than many boys

But there I was

Alone in my shorts


I got my father

Whatever he wanted

Probably his bleeding

Hemorrhoid medication

(Who would send

a shirtless girl

On such an errand?)


Yet we did

And then I went

To dance on the tree

A fallen tree

A tree that I knew had

Been there forever

Well before Sid's

And the saloon next door.


I often ran, even danced

On the boney old tree

Awkward on its smooth

Bleached surface

Imagining my dance on

A solitary moon

Taking energy from its bones


The tree was naked

Maybe more naked

Than my eleven

Year old body and

Its skeleton was clean


The tree was

As a relic

A fallen fossil

Nude and Denuded

And I loved that dying persistence

Even beyond death

Tenacious as a mummy


Then a car

A black car

A somewhere-


In this gravel back alley


And he was dark

This man who thundered up

Just by showing up

Dark as Orson Welles or

Edgar G. Robinson*

And he said:


I had a nice evening

At your parents' hours

Last night


May I give you a ride home?


Well, you know we live

Just up there, I said

Fearful of offending

A friend of my parents


I live just up there

You must know it's only

Two houses away

(And the field

A dangerous space . . .

A presence I could not say

A place I prayed he did not see)


But thank you anyway

I can get home okay.


I jumped from the tree

And fled through

Two backyards

Adjacent to a field

Of weeds that would

Drag my speed


Then there was no one

No one there in Back of Sid's

He actually left

Fled fast, maybe faster than I

And no jumping at me

From those weeds


Who was he?


He could have seized me

But did not

Who is there to protect us?

He could have seized me

But did not


No one in the back of Sid's

Over my shoulder, gone

And I only know I'll never know

And I never went back there again


I wonder, is the tree still there?



*In truth, I had not idea who these men were, but when I saw their photos, years later, I chilled and thought of each: man in the black sedan, man in the post office WANTED papers.




                                                    (The following poem must be viewed using a desktop, laptop or tablet no smaller than an 8" diagonal tablet, held in the lateral position.  The poem's format, which is integral to its meaning will be scrambled if viewed on a smartphone or other smaller device)                                                                


                                                                     Dream of me and M.E.*


                                                              I am a house

                                                        I am like the Herzog & de Meuron

                                                                  Building, mostly blue

                                                                            Enormous slabs of

                                                                     Blue marble, except it's not

                                                                              Blue             Marble

                                                                   It's blue glass piled pie-in-sky high

                                                              Like an uneven stack of sandwiches

                                                                             And my house is full of holes

                                                                                               Water cascading down

                                                                                                Down the open geometry

                                                                                                In a Rube Goldberg design

                                                                  Where it takes forever to get to the glorious



                                                                                                                  You muse

                                                                                                                      are on the balcony

                                                                                                                        cantilevered afar

                                                                                                                           away from the cataract

                                                                                                                           your back to my deluge

                                                                                                                         dressed in ivory

                                                                                                                      a Victorian gown

                                                                                                                    and cameos


                                                                                    You are doing a strip tease or is it a dance

                                                                                    You dance with your body

                                                                                    A pole dance sans pole

                                                                                    Perfected control

                                                                                    Barely moving your feet

                                                                                    Your arms embrace you

                                                                                    Your hands remove cameos

                                                                                    Clothing falls like scarves

                                                                                                     All Gifts


                                                                                                       And the sun is as intense

                                                                                                       As my view of this building

                                                                                                       Caught from a sailboat

                                                                                                       Late summer eve's sun

                                                                                                       Steel and glass reflected

                                                                                                       A blinding by the building

                                                                                                       Mirrored on moving waves

                                                                                                       Everywhere this waving

                                                                                                       Reflections -- Light -- like a flame

                                                                                                       Madly rocked by a cradle of boat

                                                                                                       Mirrors of a funhouse


                                                                                                       Except it is MY house

                                                                                                       My SELF of many holes

                                                                                                       Crashing water drowns the flame

                                                                                                       But the strong pelvis base

                                                                                                       Is wide enough for a waterfall


                                                                                               We do not notice I have joined you

                                                                                               Now Our Deshabille in progress

                                                                                               The shared feast of

                                                                                               Participation mystique

                                                                                               I still stare at the sky

                                                                                               Now stripped bare

                                                                                               Become discarded scarecrow


                                                                                                         Find me in the kitchen midden

                                                                                                         After all the falls

                                                                                                                                   *NDiF true dream      





Before the Words Came


Well, Miss Nelson

Do you feel anything

About this poem

Have you got something to say?

I said, Yes, Yes but  . . .

I cannot find the words . . .

I see the muscles of your throat

Tight as violin strings

There the words might 

Strangle you; take heed


And still maybe yet . . .

I could die of it

The words are always there now

Begin there

Keen low in my throat

Good and bad together

And sometimes there is not

A single metaphor

Or brave lonely image

The words of this language 

Their sound and the gift of it




Beyond Words


My surfeit of speech

Has been for others

Even the self-referential

Has its flight by wind --


In bat-like night


It's what we do each day

We who've dared

to shape meaning like clay

As though it could be flesh --


To warm one forever


And now I have no words

But those whose sound

I put on paper --


Beyond me.

                      NNDiF, 3/18



(The following poem should be viewed on a device that has, at minimum, a screen size that is as large as an 8" tablet in order to maintain its appropriate format)


Selfies and All or Dabbling in the Dark Arts


A photo taken of us

You and I

Is what the others see

But the photo is reversed

In the eyes of the child

In 'photo right' the child

May deny your right arm

Is around Mommy


You look at the Stranger

Across from you

On the subway

She is 'opposite' you

In flesh and by metaphor:

What's visually your left field

Is factually her right side

Her wedding ring

At visual right is

A wedding ring misplaced

Ring on the 'wrong' finger

You wonder if she's a widow

Smile at your foolish mistake


Behind her you can see yourself             *you've never really seen yourself     

In the darkened subway window*              a photo comes the closest

Lit by the light of the train                           until you learn they lie

Reeling between the stations

The familiar image is 'flipped'

Like a mirror's clever facsimile
Yet not quite the same                          
As your reflected left shoulder
Feigns illusion -- mirage of being
Behind her --
Riding on a bus
And your left arm mirror image
touches her right arm
In your field of vision
You have seen your source of alarm
And lean forward
Toward the woman across to say
Lips barely moving:
Your left cheek is bleeding
But she touches her right
The opposite cheek from
Where she is seeing
Your hand touch your own
As though you were a living mirror
You smile and shake your head:
No the other side
Offering your handkerchief
She accepts
All errors corrected
The one you might be about to make
While the last car pulls into the stop
And the doors open wide.
                                              NNDiF  4/13/18
Notes on "Selfies and All":
"Flipped Image" Selfies are Selfies that are like mirror images and not like "Regular" Selfies.  My Samsung Note 4 cellphone took flipped images if I wanted them.  I just had to choose.  (Now I have a Samsung 8+ and I cannot find that feature.  I am actually glad, but I keep two selfies that are a flipped image and a non-flipped image, saved side-by-side in Google Photos that were taken by my Samsung Note 4. They give pause and consternation whenever I look at them and see the part in my hair had "changed sides" in fewer than 15 seconds.)   To continue, a "Regular" Selfie is like a photo that someone else takes of you.  The camera lens sees the same image that the photographer sees.  What's confusing is that the cellphone performs as both mirror and camera lens, switching from the mirror to camera lens, and back to mirror image for the "Flipped Image" Selfie . . . if, that is, the cellphone has the flipped image feature and that you have selected that mode. 
The question for me was: what do I see  (not 'what does the camera see' or 'what does the photographer see') before I "snap the photo" when I am taking a Regular Selfie?  I tested this, paying attention to where I had parted my hair, raising my left hand to my left eye, and found that what I was looking at before I hit the photo button was what I would see in the mirror.  When I finally "snapped the photo," the resulting picture was reversed, so that 'photo right' was actually my left side, whereas, "mirror right" has always given me the accurate  correspondence that allows me to touch my right forefinger to the right side of the mirror to have them meet.  So it seems that the Flipped Image Selfie gives us a mirror image and the Regular Selfie gives us the the image that appears on the photo, as well as what the photographer and others see of us.  Thus the words "flipped image selfie" and "selfie" seem paradoxical because the Regular Selfie actually is the camera's shift from reflection surface to lens that looks at you from your outstretched hand, just as the photographer looks at you through the lens of the camera.  The camera "reverses" the image because your left side is opposite the photographer, thereby becoming the photographer's "visual right," as well as the camera's "photo right." (If one attempts my most vexing aforementioned test, it may leave you as nonplussed as a swaying and bewildered chorus in a Rossini opera.)
Once, in childhood, I knew all this as with breathing: autonomic, understood, intuitive.  (Or was I really the child who thought the right arm was "not around" Mommy?  Still, I would have/should have seen that someone's other arm, if not the right arm, was around Mommy and the stage had not been set for a betrayal of Mommy by Daddy.  But perhaps the confusion of what arm had been placed around Mommy could usher in some ongoing confusion in my mind or the mind of any impressionable child, that there was something to be distrusted in this mirror and photography business.)  Now my brain does these convolutions that you are reading and I must write them down in order to understand them.  Somewhat understand them.  (Or look at what I have written and say, "Hmmnn, I seem to have once understood this, but cannot make head or tail of what I am talking about now.")
Yes, and I could still have this all wrong.  As I said, what was once understood has now become hopelessly confusing to me. Perhaps it is the over-attention to detail, to the point that I cannot discriminate what is important anymore.  Perhaps it is something happening to my brain from too much cellphone minutia and dependency on this device.  Evolution shaped the human brain to not focus upon that which was unimportant in the visual field and to forget the irrelevant detail.  I fear we are losing this skill.  (That is the "devil in the details"; the devil is not there because we have overlooked him; the devil is there because we do not see the important stuff; he makes us give everything equal salience.)  I reiterate that I fear we are losing this skill.  Now I overthink everything, but maybe it's just dementia, who is coming in for my close-up shot.
I particularly noticed my overthinking when, after ten years of steering a boat with a tiller, my husband bought a sailboat with a wheel.  Now I am hopelessly confused and even afraid to be at the helm.  (No, a sailboat with a wheel is not just like driving a car.)  In the past, I was never dyslexic or confused about port and starboard, but suddenly left and right are a challenge and I have to stop and think each time I turn a wheel or see my flipped and non-flipped image in Google Photos.
And forget about watching someone make a left or right turn in the rear view mirror of a car.  I tremble just imagining it.  I also feel certain I would risk a nervous breakdown if I read Vermeer's Camera (by Philip Steadman): Vermeer, whose genius may have fooled three centuries by his mental grasp of the camera.
Apart from my preoccupation with the World of Selfies, the poem is about the terror of one's vulnerability and the infidelities to self and other that may issue from such vulnerability.  A satisfying Selfie reassures us that we were here and in charge for the moment.
                                                                                                                                                          Spring, 2018
(The following poem is best viewed on a screen that is no smaller than 10-inch tablet size.)
I Remember My Grandmother Or: Infanticide
I remember my grandmother
She could not drive a car*
I never once saw her dial a phone
Being at home without a dial
Back when the Operator
Breezed out: Number Please!
In a tone that assured she
Was smiling just for you
But Grandma "Gram" surely dialed
Dialed a time or two to 'sit' for brats
Sat for twenty-five pennies per hour
Later for fifty -- maybe catch a silver dollar
But mainly my mother gave her the messages
A transfer of data that
Kept her in Babysitting Biz'
Those precious copper and nickle coins
                                                                        *There's a photo of the three of them
                                                                         parents and daughter
                                                                         must have been a showroom
                                                                         or photo studio
                                                                         maybe Coney Island
                                                                         as they never owned a car
                                                                         my dapper grandfather in
                                                                         smart-alec attire -- I imagine
                                                                         he wore spats -- pretending
                                                                         the top-down was his
                                                                         my mother and grandmother forlorn
                                                                         huddled in their Sunday best
                                                                         likely embarrassed at the flagrant
                                                                         charade . . . some might admire his
                                                                         swaggering pride
                                                                         certainly I
And what about me?
Turgid with technology
I can use a computer and
Brandish these badly clad skills, yet . . .
Squeezed between my expletives . . .
I break screens with my ill-placed will
Punch them like a coke machine
Keep insisting
Hoping for the change
Poking on the cell screen
As though it be in deep sleep
A child I might awaken
Whose response determines its life
I fantasize its death as I toss it from
My seventh floor window
Pleased but for a moment
That never works well
But does deter the hand
I wait for any morsel to my eyes
That might reach my brain
In the end I mostly figure it out
But shiver at the price
                                                    NNDiF, 4/27/2018
And Maybe I Didn't Speak These Things
So uncharacteristic 
Of my friend
What was she saying
Why should she reject
My offered request
Suggestion to dine
Repast shared
Intended as a gift
Do what you will with this 
'Twas only addressed to you
I need not know you never saw it
Need not wait for response
Yet still I wonder
What she saw
What she heard
Viewed not as gift
But spoiled child  
Taking leave
Now a coyote paces
Where lions and leopards 
have stood
Once a tiger too
And maybe I didn't speak these things --
Just placed them in 
An envelope of text
That somehow ended here.
                                                   NNDiF, Spring, 2018
Incantatory Power of Words Not Spoken
Your honesty drives chariots
Of pain with wheels grinding
Punches in my solar plexus
Wind knocked out of me is as
A hand violating the trachea
And pulling out the lungs
Wished for something subtler
Words unspoken, understood
Why now this raw confession
Outspoken feelings for another
I have my secrets too
No need to speak them
No need to sound
Or dispel their potent spell
By shaping them in my mouth
No need to wound
Instead I leave you 
What may be hidden in my fist
A blow withheld and my
Incantatory power
Of words not spoken
                                         NNDif, Spring, 2018  
Laced with the Smell of Her
Laced with the smell of her
What is that familiar perfume?
Trussed up by my
Jello shots of the mind
Imagination mine
You Swelling
With her narcotic
Overripe fruits clinging
To both your vines
Hers growing larger
More grotesque than
Mine, my own perverse
Arthritic knots
Daphne turned into a tree
To escape the arms of Apollo
But your trunk is entangled
By one who wishes to be
Caught and cultivated by you
In her hothouse of glass
Butterfly pinioned
Trapped by the act
Of her own will
And you?
                     NNDiF  6/30/18
Nothing Happened
Nothing happened
Even though it seemed
Meant to happen
Indelible Desire
That could punish 
The merely carnal
With its purpose
Its puissant belief 
In Destiny
To witness it
Gave me great
                      NNDiF, 6/11/19
I Am Lost
I want to visit my friend
I want to drive there in a car
I know how much you hate my
vanity even though it may be
sweetest and gentlest of the
seven deadly sins:
At heart a venial sin
Only its skin touched by hubris
A tip like the heel of Achilles
While hubris full-blown
Hates with a dagger
Danger unseen and 
Those who carry it
Secreted in their cloaks
Cannot view their own venal selves
So please let me visit her
How am I saying this
What do I want
I never saw your
Subtle help that consumed
Agency, the freedom I sought
I loved you as never before
Now I am as before
                                          Fall, 2018   NNDiF
Now My Eyes
Now my eyes are all empty
In the cellphone photo grabs
You make at me and my life -- our life
That seemed violated by my own imagination
Gone wild as you say
My lizard skin begs for soft kid gloves
That cover well above the elbow
Six months ago I was Bella
Donna-eyed in the same
Center Parterre Box
When you cared eough to be
Scared for both of us
In a box we made
Made long before
Thinking about it
Long before its cliche
                                          Fall, 2018, Met Opera
When You Look at Me
When you look at me
Your eyes are dead
This body and soul 
Once so loved is
Nothing now
I cannot
Carry it 
'til its
                Fall, 2018 - Winter, 2019
My Poetry
My Poetry is about
The sound, the sound
Of the English language
There is no translation
Just the words
I am glad for such words
Each too dear
As I lose my hearing
My ear grows better
And I remember my
Surprised by Spanish 
In Nursery School:
But Mommy
There's only English
No, Child;
How so be it:
Many more
Than anyone knows                                     
Remind  Me of Tosca's Lover
Wake me before you leave me 
Don't spare my sleep in fear --
In fear I'll wake without you
Find you gone
Never knowing
While only you be spared
Better to feel the loss
In the fullness of the
As in
Present and
Sentient at that
Last -- that final breath
At birth all eyes were on me
But memory was not with me 
And I am most alive at moments of
                      NNDiF, 11/4/2018
Eagle Among the Clouds for All Time*
Thermopylae and Salamis**
Narrow passages
Time of Oracles
Times of Cunning
Where did she go 
Just when we were winning?
Where do we find what was lost?
Whither the madness divine?
As Daphne eluded Apollo
Shall she forever slip away
As we waken from our dream?
Don't  leave us
Oh Voice of Apollo
Why rain such
Paradox upon us?
Return us your terror sublime***
                                                             NNDiF, April, 2019
*Broad, William J. The Oracle, New York, Penguin Books, 2006, pp.63-65. (The Oracle told the Greeks that no matter how often her cities were destroyed, Greece would be "an eagle among the clouds for all time.")
**Broad, William J. The Oracle, pp. 59-61. (The Oracle of Delphi predicted the unlikely Greek victory at Thermopylae and Salamis.)
***Broad, William J. The Oracle, pp. 81-169.
Prayer to the Oracle
She Who Knows:
Return me
To the sea
But let me 
Undulate on this earth
This solid land
As long as I can. . .
I'll curl my scoliosis
Diagnosis: severe
My primitive
Serpentine self
Across the land
Pythia slithers
Down the omphalos
Of the earth
'Til then
'Til the end
Then let me be at sea
Where All belong 
At the last 
                       NNDiF, 10/14/19
Primitive Genes
With wattled hurdles
I'll be pinned to the bog
Buried at the stake
When logic sees
The pull of the rope
The tug-of-war
Waged by my primitive genes
New ones take care
                                                NNDiF, 3/18/2019
From the Quiet
I Come From a Quiet
and Terrible People:
Not like yours
With their loving words
That linger on the tongue
And their candid loud betrayals
But a people with deep bogs
That suck like a vacuum
A black hole
My voice finally screams
As the bog sucks me down 
And you'll never 
Hear me stop
                               4/17/19, NNDiF 
The cards of days
I have been dealt
Look smooth as
The dealer's shuffle
Their faces to the table
No cheating, no tricks
But wait until I turn them over
As I have been doing each day
Until now the deck is almost
                                                   NNDif, 5/29/19
The Sense of Touch
Well past twilight
Even midnight
After the bath and
Other aftermaths
Mostly in my mind
I make love to myself
Tender and asexual as
A mother holding her child
Just the stroking of skin
Caressing the face
The neck, the arms
Something gone
The need still there
For the pressing of creams
Still feeling the escape --
The slipping of soap --
And the solitary pleasure 
Of this ritual still sustains me
                                               July, 2019, NNDiF
Looking over the 
Ruins of glasses
Too many to be sure
I see your eyes
And your face
That never lies
Too much of you
So often . . . .
Still not enough
                          10/19/2019, NNDiF
Papa Hemingway Quotation
Papa said:
Writers should write
Not speak
I nod and
I understand:
My poems live in my head
And should be read
only with caution
I enjoy each face
And Its place         
On the page 
                             October, 2019          
A HAIKU Called: For Me (I titled it; a no-no in the laws of haiku)
                                            October, 2019, NNDiF
                                                        September, 2019, NNDiF        
*Search as I would, I could find no modern usage of vessel as a verb.  It occurs only in archaic forms that mean embark or debark, as in getting on or off a boat.  There was some archaic use that hinted at a verb-form of vessel ("vesseled it") that is analagous to a modern word I almost chose for the poem, which would have been: "poets bottle loss."   "Vessel" works so much better than "bottle," because to vessel loss would be to hoard or stow one's loss and then journey upon it.   A vessel IN a bottle is a fetching image on its own, but is a captured image, a boat in captivity; a verb it is not.  I prefer to say "poets vessel loss", because to vessel loss would be transform one's loss by keeping it in memory and giving us the journey.
                                        October, 2019, NNDiF
(The following poem must be viewed on nothing smaller than a 10" tablet to maintain format.  Each
column should be read in consecutive order.  If viewed in hard copy, the poem will likely exceed the typical 8x10 page size and will require turning back the page to achieve the appropriate order.)

                                                          Living There                                                       (Two Columns)*                                                                          
               Column I  
The thing about living there  
Was it never ended  
There was always something:  
                 Column II
Nine Eleven And that was Two Thousand
Two Thousand and One Two Thousand Seventeen
Cloud-cover of ash and Sixteen years later
Immolated flesh Yet still we sayed on
Thick and gritty Lived there
Pulverized concrete Like tiny animals
In our hair and lungs Interrupted
Running down the Esplanade A spider squashed
Past the discarded stilettos By my showery me
  My evil thumb
Then: How many thumbs
  Until the thumb tires?
Sulley waterplaning  How many to die
On the Hudson Under tires of thumb?
Out my window  
Such grace suspended

We were not as

Aircraft buoyed by balloons We were supposed to Be
Of avoided oblivion But kept on Being
Everyone saved Then and then again
I almost believed in magic Remaining there 
  Never straying 
And: From Concentric Circles
  That tangled their way

Hurricane breaching

To the Epicenter
Watching the sea wall  
As the water receded Small spiders squashed
Once again safe Are usually done-for 
And shrugging off fate While our trudging the hill
To continue my gambling game Towards the old IRT Line --
  Our City's first subway


Pride of the Century --
  Spoke of a bug I could not kill --
Navy Seal down

As recent as yesterday --

Cut his own cord Because she was missing a leg
Parachute failing But still moving on
Falling before my eyes Looking for the web
Into the Morris Canal She'd made her home
Small boats surging  
In waves of futile rescue When I left I said: Time to Go
No rebirth canal for him Not My City Anymore
  Finally made my choice
It was one thing My existential leap
And then another         
Gravity always grabbing us               Small spiders 

Time and time once more                        

Do not wonder

Who's packing

The Navy was silent but I Persevered:

 Their parachutes
Relentlessly     !!!!!      Obsessively  Never Shall ponder

Living terror by video

Their existential leaps
Over and over:  
The still alive body                         N.N.Dif
Pulled from Canal      Purple with bruises                         May 27, 2019

                   How his feet struggled

                       Scissoring air  
                   To keep the fall straight  
                                                                                                                       Spring, 2019, NNDiF
   *This poem was influenced by the vision of William Carlos Williams, who saw "City as Self" and devoted almost all his poetry to the city of Paterson, N.J., especially his eponymously titled epic poem which gave him his greatest acclaim.  Although he never abandoned his allegiance to this city where he worked as a medical doctor all of his life, he was born and lived in Rutherford, N.J.  Unlike Williams, I felt heartbroken when "my city," no longer seemed to be mine.  Since then, I have learned that this may be the fate of anyone who chooses to live in a great, teeming and ever changing metropolis.  If we stay in "our city" all our lives, we are destined to see it change in ways that seem too fast, too lacking grace, too foreign, because big cities lean into the embrace of the new, the exotic and even the alien.  This is part of what makes them great and if I choose to feel abandoned it's not because my city has turned her back on me.
                                                                                                                        Fall, 2019, NNDiF, Annapolis, Maryland
The Trees and the Girls: Intimations of Daphne*
Thanksgiving gone and 
Only the oaks still hold leaves
Even the thin ones
That barely can carry 
Such solid name
As wild winds blow
The supple necks and heads
Become young girls
Girls in delicate dresses
Of fraying summer linen
Caught in surprise by a storm
Trying to hide their long legs
And bodies from such tempest
They are girls
Girls being told
Told to undress
For their annual physical:
An examination
This one held age eleven
But several seem older
Those more mature
Are calmer, clad
Demurely in bras
Panties Plus Bras
No frantic rustling 
Whipping about of their hair
Yes they are preening
Enjoying their bodies
While we willful ones
Still bearing leaves
Scant panties and dresses
No full disclosure
Fight like the Furies
Just to stay covered
This shaming defeats us
We too stubborn fighters
And we're scolded with words:
One should embrace this
This Seasonal Occurrence: 
Come, you are a deciduous tree
I am the School Nurse
Blown in by nor'easter
Dr. Winter is waiting
He is waiting and does not care
About your tiny nipples and little pubis
You are not special
No different than any other tree
Being asked to shed her glorious cover
The dress your mama made 
Only for you**
As the last girl surrenders
She flies in her mind
Outside to the schoolyard
Soon you shall turn to a Laurel***
                                                              NNDiF   12/1/2019
* The scene is set in a public school.  Fifteen girls, age 11, are crowded in the nurse's office, Fall, 1954
**Autumn need not be just for the aged and dying; it is as transforming as spring, even for the young.
***Daphne was turned into a laurel tree, a kind of evergreen, to avoid surrendering to Apollo.
Channeling Byron and Coleridge
The boy is beautiful
Byronic forehead
Falling curls
I picture him in profile
He'll be a fine poet
Such vigor blended
With careful strokes
All finely bred
This so easy to recall:
All my "Why only just yesterdays . . . "
To be remembered and replayed
Trail off in unfinished sentences
He asks how I grow
My life as a poet
A reasonable question
From one with such talent
Who tends his ambition
And nurtures what's given
I stare at him in wonder
My mouth agape
Brow stitched into Z-puzzzles
As startled as the Wedding Guest
Seized by Skinny Hand
But the skinny hand
Indeed be mine
And with those roles reversed
I tell him I have 
No tale to grow
And have already been pruned
Too much, too hard
But if you stay and hear me
You'll learn I have no choice
'Tis simply what I'm compelled to do
The way I may stay alive, not die
Tithing my slave who sets me free
What I wear around my neck 
Is but a noose that let's me be
Be fully who I already am
And strangely keeps me sane.
                                                       NNDif, 3/4/2020
Photo of Mother and Child of Ten Months
My mother's beauty was liquid
Uncaptured by camera
Uncaptured by man
Both sybillitic and sublime:
A determined goddess of destiny
Indelible as threads of DNA*
With blood and love
It poured from her vessels 
Wineskin to throat
Eyes and lips to my mouth
Sybillitic, sublime
In the photograph
She is fully present
Dominant and clasping me
Yet I also have a presence
And can be understood:
Petulant mouth, unsmiling
Pencil dangling, barely held
Curiously languid fingers
For one with such ill will
Had she staged it all?
Placed the pencil in my witch hand
Left hand leaning towards the devil
Where she'd foreseen it would stay?
All that before she spent then
Hour after hour
Reading William Blake
And Walter De La Mare
Aloud to my infant ears
Incantations in my hair
Potions in my brain
Any choice I thought I had
Was lost to free will's illusion 
As it always was and
Always shall be
At least for me.
                                             NNDiF, 1/13/2020
*At the time this poem was written, gene mutations were understood as entirely random. In addition, only germline mutations, which are at the egg or sperm level, were considered heritable.  This said to mitigate may assertion about indelible strands of DNA.
We Said
You live in your head
She said
You were always a willful child
He said
I think in my gut and feel in my head
I  said
And where has it got you willful child
They said
The somewhere of everywhere
That looks to you like nowhere
I said
                                                         NNDiF, 5/20/2020
Lily Pads
Too many, too much
None can survive 
where even the sun
Must fight to shine
Failure to thrive
In this stagnant choked pond
Of seed pods
Whose lilies all look the same
                                                      NNDiF    3/26/2020
No Sense of Time OR Not with a Bang but a Wimper*
I don't have a sense of time
Keep wishing to try to tell them
Green keepers honest and true
Tectonic plates are creeping
Turning quietly while we sleep
Their slumber stirring deeper
Deeper than our deepest sleep
And we cannot ever save
Truly save the Chesapeake
From the Ocean's widening maw
Which does not mean
We should not try
Nor should we give up
Give up on anything
Including new places to thrive
A cosmic surgery, maybe two
Could do until entropy ends
Yet, so often I wish it would:
Entropy's last grand entrance
The day that entropy dies
The day that everything ends
And we start all over again
Listen! Hold the shell to your ear
And you shall hear the ocean roar
And awaken to the last wave's call
                                                          NNDif, 02/02/2020
* When I wrote this poem, I had a sense of a refrain I'd heard before.  Then the words "not with a bang but a whimper" popped into my head.  I wondered who had said this, googled it, and discovered it wasT.S. Eliot, my kindred inveterate footnoter.  It is the last line of his poem "Hollow Men," which also seems influenced by "Sailing to Byzantium," by William Butler Yeats.  Yeats's poem, however, has a palpable joyful quality.  I can see that I wanted both.  Thus I appropriated Eliot's words as the alternative title for my poem.  (I know it's grandiose to put myself in such company, but let's be generous and call it hyperbole.)
Still Obsessing Over Entropy
Ever So More Than a Block
Man wants to be perfect
Then needs to destroy
As the child destroys
With the blocks he knocks out
By the delicate removal
Sadistic removal
So like betrayal, betrayal of self
Removal of one, done with great care
So crucial to the whole
So crucial to its fall
The child feels imperious, even imperial
Look, I have done something!
Spoken with glee
Someone did something, said she*
Something indeed
Mother forgiving, forgiving the child
One cannot imagine the deed
We'll do it again, again and again 
Can't keep ourselves back
Intended as we are
To imitate our universe
Of which we know so little
Spinning toward the Something
Someone named entropy
Entropy is
Said Professor Emeritus
The measure of disorder
Disorder of any system:
The most intriguing concept
Concept In philosophy
Concept in natural science
Entropy as a concept is
Of very many faces**
*Representative Omar, U.S. Congress, 2019, comment on 9/11/2001
**Paraphrase of on-line conversation, April 2019 between Vasili Dimitrov, Ph.D., Ch,D., Professor of Chemical Physics, Emeritus, TelAviv University and a Mr. H. (neither paraphrased or quoted). Exact Quotation of this on-line conversation is: "Entropy is the measure of disorder of any system.  It is the most itriguing concept of philosophy and the natural sciences.  Entropoy as a concept is of many faces."
                                                                                NNDiF  02/02/2002
The April Pandemic of Cassandra
Our primitive filter for the truth
Has been ripped -- torn off our faces
We'd thought we shed a mask
But our eyes rolled out for the taking
No longer can we recognize
What is real or one another
No longer can we see by Nature
Behold the nature of our Self
The nature of ourselves
Beyond to gone forever
For only our computers
Can process and predict
Make Delphic Oracle models
Of knowledge we once knew --
Maybe on the Nonce, the long gone Nonce* --
When we saw, smelt, touched and felt
We are gone as we were
And "Whan that Aprill
With his shoures soote,
The droght of March hath
Perced to the roote" **
And we've noticed that April
Really is the cruellest month*** 
Perhaps on the Nonce, revived,
We shall see and hear the Treasure Lost
                                                                         April, 2020
*Nonce, in Medieval times, meant "for a special occasion."  It can still mean "for the time being."  Nowadays it also uglily means "pedophile."
**Geofrey Chaucer's opening lines to Canterbury Tales.
***I once read somewhere, citation forgotten, that April is the most popular month in which to die, and then I said, "Aah, so now I better understand T.S. Eliot's opening lines of "The Wasteland."  Anyway, April turns out not be the most popular month; December thru February share first place.  (I know; the footnotes of Eliot are very 'been that and am done there' to bastardize the cliche, but I still like footnotes.)
Fourth of July in a Plague Year
I walk across Twin Towers
Reconstructed in my head
My own Philippe Petit
Tightrope tossed between the two
Lasso like a noose
Carefully balanced
Erected by me
Only by me
I have forgotten . . . 
Only can see 
Steep cliffs in my eyes
Cliff and Fjord of
My father's first name
Precarious edges
Osprey and Eagles
Hawks on the highwire
Tear at my feet
Always the same
I dare not look down
Wire and pole become
Now Cross and Albatross
And yet I do . . . 
I look down at You
Star Spangled River
Dancing down the eddies
Ebbing Tide now flooding
And at You
Star Spangled Bird
Flying in our skies
I know you and
Still see you climbing high
Wires and poles no matter
I thank you for your gifts
Memories once known
And understand these cliffs
The cliffs we walk between are
Those we have made in our minds.
                                                                   NNDiF, 7/4/2020
Freedom and Free Will
Perhaps illusions
          Perhaps delusions
Needed for my survival . . . 
When does your caution
Someone ele's caution
Start to kill our spirit?
                                        NNDiF, May, 2020
                                        (2 Pandemic Haiku)
Time marches on
Such a cliche
Striding through
Our lives . . . 
But there she is
Perfect as always
Perfect as ever
While we struggle 
To meet her thunder
Our shared desire
This mutual fire
--Such futile fires--
As she tears away 
Each metaphor 
Leaving us longing 
And long behind her
All the bad timing with the good.
                                                        NNDiF, June, 2020
 Ashes of Existence
Dear This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:
There is important information
That is missing from your profile 
Of Clifford Colmer Nelson
I am Clifford Nelson's daughter
Nikki Nelson (nee Crabbe}
My father married my step-mom
Evelyn Baker Angell
in April of 1973
Perhaps it was '74
But his marriage to my mother
Peggy Nelson in September of '42
Has been obscured or forgotten
I am the eldest of his four children
I and my two younger siblings
Eamon Nelson and Dana Nelson
Survive the youngest sibling
Noel Nelson who died on her birthday
Of injuries sustained in a car crash
I cannot remembe the date
Beyond it being mid-90's
There is one grandson who is my own son
Frederick Locke Crabbe IV as well as a 
Great grandson Whitman Hwa-Crabbe
I don't know how much information you require
But I think your current profile covers
A time-frame that was not
So significant in the larger 
Biographical picture of my father
Should it be of interest to you
I can provide more material for
Your website beyond the 
Photos you have chosen to post
Of my step-sister who committed suicide
And her rather famous father
Who declined to recognize our family
And possibly his own family
It is very bizarre that a photo of him
Appears on an entry for my father
Oh I see my mistake  I understand
It is just an ad -- an ad for your website
And your errors are greater than mine
Sincerely Yours,
Nikki Nelson DiFranks
July 29, 2020
Neverending Adventure
Sorry, I am off on a 
Nils Bohr Quantum
Entanglement and
I am annoying you
I'll meet you when 
I shall meet you
Further now:
The closer 
Far apart
Still here
My child
Nils Bohr
So frustrated
                        NDiF, 8/31/2020
DOUBLE HAIKU (view from side if on phone)
                                                          NNDiF, Summer, 2020
Talking to the Granddaughter
Call it a witch thing
She wakens at night
Two nights in a row
Two nights for two hours
Chanting in bells
I wonder the moon
The moon soon full
Night goddess of darkness
Searching for light
For now or forever
So too the granddaughter
I said so yet know 
Know that she knows
These gifts are too precious
Too precious to squander
Tend or they die
Tonight makes it thrice
Eleven through one
Nod to the witch hour
The chanting continues 
With bells on our tongues
                                                  NNDiF, August, 2020
 I Have a Secret
I have a secret
I am tall and pale
On this paddle board
That I have chosen
To navigate the waves
My body a frail mast
On dark water
I stand on driftwood
And paddle
Like a Viking I
Sail and row
Tell me why
Such words, my words
Make me paddle 
So long and hard
When my secret 
Holds all I don't know.
                                   NNDiF,  10/01/18
To Live Oneself
So many barns
So many bridges
Gone by my hand
Secrets given away
To sorrow the telling
No sin ever shriven
For deeds such as this
Unforgiven by others 
Nor forgiveness for self
On this small fragile craft 
I have pushed too far from shore
I shall continue seeking
Seeking Shalimar
Solitary  Willing  Staying
Finding solace in those losses
I have chosen to embrace.
                                                 NNDiF, 05/01/20
Do You Remember
Do you remember
The house in our town
Built as a bomb shelter
Bomb shelter crumbling
Crumbling all edges
Those 'Fifties on ledges
Denizens waiting
Waiting for something
Something to happen
Always there's something
Waiting in the wings
Wings on the waiting for us
Mommy is waiting
Is waiting you said
For something to happen
She cannot come out now
Rehearsals for fear
You knew not to drink it
Those early days' ledges
The fear never yours
You still rode your bike
Wearing a sllicker
Slicker in rain
Deluge towards danger
Your purposeful journey
Two towns away
And I said okay
Seal of consent
And you'd better
Come back here  alive!
Off you go then
Off to the Hobby Shop
Quest you must make
My Love, off you go
                                      NNDiF, 09/26/2020
Something Lost
Writing poetry
Pen put to paper
Thought into word
Word that is planted
Soon shall become
A vestigial tail
Perhaps an appendix . . .
The appendix is ready
Ready to burst
Eruption so corrupting
The rules won't be taught
No rules anymore
So What? say the children
While we say Then What?
                                                 Fall, 2020, upon the government decision to discontinue teaching grammar in public schools
                     THE BACKBONE OF 
                     THE BLOSSOMS IS
                      HOVERING LIKE A BLACK
                      AND TREMBLING APE
                                                                     November, 2020
The Finale
You'll leave because 
I am entering 
My dreamworld
And you'll be angry
And say mean things
The mean things you
Are alrady saying
Between the nice things
I shall say way meaner back
Have no way to calm us
And then it shall be
Like most other endings . . .
Except when the velvet moss
Dark matter of the universe
That begat me
Reminds me that . . .
I must never say 
It is a pleasure
To live oneself
To be one's own task. 
                                        NNDiF, Fall, 2018 
Shall Soon
I shall soon
Be full of the future
Whether I like it
Or not
Whether I meet it 
Or not
Whether it likes me
Or not
Future forever
Goes past and shall be
Rtual Murders
I am an embarrassment
Someone once beloved who
Now must be censored and hushed
All those watching can see that
And feel my shame with deep pity
While I feel my own pain for them
No more able to stumble
Just stumble towards the bog
Where always it was waiting
Drawn to Denmark by its fens
I felt only cruelty
On the faces of my kin
My horror at their evil
And the ever sucking bog
Dragging its victims to death
Victims of ritual murder
My visions of their evil--
Evil on the rise again
Recants of Biology
Shamers now become Sinners
The Virtue Signals endless
The evil now more subtle--
Recede when I remember
Another time, a different time
Engine 10, Ladder 10
Hour of Nine/Eleven
Young men of the Ten House
Firehouse nearest our home
Their bravery defying
The face of all such horror with
Courage that countered all evil.
I Never Wanted
I never wanted to write
Dissident poetry or
Compose political verse
Even Anna Akmatova
Sounded deviant to me--
Her boney doleful face
Poised at oblique angle
Opaque averted eyes--
A medieval monk mask
Thwarted by the Nobel Prize
She certainly had deserved
Stalin breathing down her pages
Dialogue Diabolique
Yet here I write of politics
And I shall call this poem:
Pure Wool, Perwil, Pure Evil
Songs of Innocence
Songs of Experience
I think of myself as Queen Lear
And shall say and do as I choose
We share our society
A mutual society 
A society of contempt--
Yes we do, you who read this
We share our bitter contempt
You'll only find ugliness here
I never thought about Living--
Living in a time of Pure Evil--
My father had fought that War
Antidote to end all wars
Third generation repeating
All that the first said would cease
I never imagined Being
Co-existing in time with Evil
Pure Evil: so close to "Pure Wool"
Tiny tag on a small stuffed bear
That my child had named: Perwil
Or that's what I heard in my head
I had liked this name Perwil
And wondered it all aloud:
So close to Percival
Its sound so like Parsifal
Wisest of grail-seeking fools
So he held forth the bear's tired tag:
Made in USA, Made of Pure Wool
What is the reach of Pure Evil:
Until innocence breaks its heart.
"Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself.  It will be no joy,
but a long suffering, since you must become your own creation."
                                                                       Carl G. Jung, The Red Book