Let’s be serious. (A very stern look.) Ha, fooled ya. Probably scared you a tick or a tock if you’ll admit it. You won’t? Are you sure? Are you absolutely certain? Fine, be that way. I can be that way too. (Arms folded.) These are serious times, calling for serious columns and serious verse. But at this moment we will not be serious. We will ignore the times, the clock, the hands of Fate, and declare that it is time for a mad tea break (like a coffee break but with tea). A tepid water with lemon break in my case. It might even be time for a new clock, as the joke goes. I don’t get that joke. My clock regularly strikes Thirteen. What is the big deal? It comes after Twelve. Don’t give me that look . . . like I have a frog in my ear instead of my throat, or my hat is on backwards! (Why must people always give me that look?) You there, wipe that expression off your face. Here’s a hanky. I’ll wait. Thanks. Now we can get on with our discombobulagreement. Thirteen follows Twelve. Says so right there on my clock. Just above Acme Humdinger Doohickeys. They make the best timepieces, don’t they? Anyway, this particular piece of time is pointing straight at a one and a three. Don’t tell me you can’t see it. Perhaps you need an eye exam. Or a head exam. I tend to flunk those. Nevermind. We’ll forget about that. And the part about being serious. You know I can’t for long. It’s really a strain. Quite exhausting. I have to cover my mouth — with both hands — stifling the silly impulses, those outbursts of humor that burble and make my head bobble, then bubble forth out of a primal bottomless well in my pit of pitiless pitter-pats! Or is it my armpits? Aunt Laurel used to call me a pit when I was growing up. I wonder what she meant by that. A cherry pit? A peach pit? I’ll have to ask her.
Okay. Moving along at the gong of Thirteen because I can, because it’s my clock and my party and I can laugh if I want to, so I am putting my foot down to insist . . . phew, that was tiring. I need a breather. An air break, I guess. You go on without me. I’ll be right behind, huffing and puffing and attempting not to blow houses down . . . counting little piggies on one hand, my blessings on the other . . . Go ahead, read some poems. I dare you!
Oh, I see that I’m still busy scribbling them. I forgot. As slow as I write, it could be a problem. We might be here all day. And night. And month. What month is it now? I accidentally ate my calendar while making a sandwich. I mistook it for lettuce. That’s understandable. They shouldn’t color the pages green. Like dollars. What were they thinking? I’ve eaten all my money. I should stop making sandwiches. And sense. Not that I’m making much cents. I’m being nickeled and dimed by penny-pinchers. Swell, now I’m just babbling. Next I’ll be psycho-babbling and they’ll have to lock me up. I don’t know how or why, but I seem to have gotten off to the wrong start on my left foot down a gopher-hole (not nearly as fun as a rabbit-hole), with the best of intentions gone awry like my crummiest-laid plans or something to that effect. Which is a mouthful of hooey, if you ask me. (Take my advice, don’t ask.)
Speaking of advice . . . pardon me for a minute, I need to scratch my head. No, I do not have cooties. I am rather perplexed at myself. Has that ever happened to you? I am beginning to question if there is any purpose to all of this. Some internal, intrinsic, inherent (take your pick) rhyme or reason for going on and on about so little or nothing. Is it necessary? Maybe I ought to stick to the poems. Or fictional prose. Maybe I should do something else entirely! It’s a good thing I don’t listen to the voices in my head or the suggestions in my Suggestion Box. Where would I be then? I’m a writer. It’s tough to tear myself from words to be an artist too, let alone give it up. Sorry, it cannot be done. I haven’t tried since I know there isn’t any point in trying. It’s part of my soul, my blood, my very essence . . . what makes me tick like clockwork. A wind-up clock with thirteen hours, of course, and Jazz Hands. A nice little beret or propeller beanie on top. That’s me, and nobody can take it away from me, unless a villain should build a contrivance to suck the talent and imagination out of a person’s mind and bottle it or lock it in a box or condense it inside of a nutshell. That would be fairly heinous and diabolical. It wouldn’t be nice either. Villains are such meanies!
Don’t misunderstand, I am a fan of villains when they are cool like Frankenstein’s Monster or Dracula. Those are classic villains of book and reel, eternally awesome. They don’t make em like that anymore. These days monster creators use modern devices and instant glue that can cement your fingers together if you’re not careful. (Trust me on that.) It isn’t the same. It’s different. And different can be its own kettle of corn or coolishness. I should know. I like to differ. In fact, I beg to differ whenever possible.
I miss the ages when you could be weird without being told you have to be like everyone else — have to conform, fit in, blend. I like being offbeat. I enjoy those incredulous stares. The ogles of disbelief. I like being peculiar, as you probably know by this point, which isn’t a point at all. I am aiming for your fondest bemused jigsaw-puzzlement; your noggin-shakingest jaw-slackery; your mockingbird hootin-toots of utter bafflence. Which aren’t words at all if you’re a snit-picker, but I take much poetic license in my writing, even when I am not writing poetry. You would know this by now if you were paying attention. I hope you have been, however challenging it may be to follow my absurd drivel and dislocated chains of thought in these rambled preambles to the latest bursts of my worst verse. (I never write my best verse. That would be futile, for I could never top it and would plummet into a state of despair. I try to avoid that.)
The world seems filled with baddities and saddities these days. We need to focus upon the oddities of life, I feel. The harmless inanities and insanities of existence. Such things can put a smile on my face, for I am a bit of a clown at heart. I was a class clown as a child in my day and occasionally wear make-up as an adult in a circus-clown greasepaint manner. A “Baby Jane” Bette Davis fashion. (That’s a reference to a classic movie from my childhood, in case you were unaware, and I developed most of my fashion sense from it. That and the Addams Family, I suppose. Lurch was quite a dresser! Then there was The Bride from the second Frankenstein film. What a trendsetter! Before my time, but styles have a way of coming back, do they not? Like bouncing balls and yo-yos. Boomerangs too. Duck!)
Oh dear. I was actually trying to be serious there a second and flopped miserably. You are really better off reading the little tags inside of garments, terms and conditions, warning labels, pop-ups on your computer than these horrible introductions to my awfullest poems. The poems themselves are bad enough. If only I could stop myself from blurting out this nonsense. Go on, get it over with. Wade through the verse if you must. I shall bury my head in a bucket of embarrassment.
Voilá! Je presente . . .
(Pardon my French. Though I don’t know why they say that, it’s really very lovely. And pardon me as I disentangle myself from the removed veil of a botched flourish.)
Oh dratted tempest of capricious time,
Why must you addle me with your chime?
Is there no fiddlestick lever to yank
That will stifle the echoing croon of your crank?
Are the cuckoos and loons of the night
Conversing at lung-top, in whimsical flight
With cacophonous blather, the lather of hens
Clucking or fussing about nows and thens?
Is it possible you have inner springs to unwind,
A clashing gear-gnashing of teeth to grind?
Could you suffer mechanical indigestion,
With clockworks upset or spontaneous congestion?
My ears are inclined to dread your automation,
The methodic precision of hypnotic vexation
Ordinarily tuned out, causing attention to lapse;
A curse, but not worse than the mysterious taps
That have lulled me to relax in their precision,
While unregulated by any natural division.
Paranormally-charged, like a persistent drip,
The ticking grows louder beyond the connip
Of treading over staid prosaic bounds . . .
Past the threshold of conventional wisdom’s grounds
To a wilderness zone of twilight unknown,
With an alarm clock’s tension-jangling tone!
’Twixt the steady metronomic marks of time —
Your synchronized motorized clicks that rhyme —
Sound the off-beats of gadgets, clandestine tocks;
A furtive assemblage of chains and sprocks
To unwind at the blindest unkindest hour,
Ignored by most, yet imbued with grave power.
Occultish, arcane, the feyest of enchantings
Appear at the stroke of Thirteen-O-Clock rantings!
I can lie awake tossing or burn midnight oil
In a tomblike reverie of brood and toil,
Certain to be disturbed by your latest clamor
As I struggle to focus upon fanciful grammar.
Years had I abided by the rules of the Twelve
And its limits of minutes that archaically shelve
An overtime abundance of thoughts that won’t fit,
The creative endeavorings not ready to quit,
Crammed into brief instants expired too soon,
Desperate for chances that weren’t opportune,
Scrambling to meet deadlines and winding up short,
My nerves in a bind, down to the last resort.
Running out of time was a daily affliction;
There weren’t enough hours in my life of constriction,
Of collecting hourglasses that didn’t add up
And begging for more with a half-full buttercup.
I have languished exhaustive, immersed in self-pity
For the measure of stitches that aren’t very pretty,
Yet bind me together if I’m falling apart
Every time a clock rings or announces the start
Of the macabre thirteenth hour I know to exist —
At the height of Nocturne, in the center of a twist
Where shadows all meet in the eye of the storm.
As nightshade lengthens, I tremble to stay warm;
A hollow head vibrates with the patter of mouseplay
That incessantly trails the chronologic display
Of watches and clocks, every manner of keeper;
Temporarily jarred from the realm of the sleeper.
Eyes bleary, I smother a yawn with my hand
In the hope of not swallowing a mouthful of sand.
When the portal of eeriness creaks slow and wide,
Still-life on my desk will trek side by side,
Jerking and stiffly parading around
Like old-fashioned toys, grotesque and key-wound.
Conflicted, I shiver at the eerie cavort
Of figures and creatures in teeming rip-snort.
An army of mayhem, they’ve started to bite!
The seconds drag on; I’m contorted with fright.
Thirteen is unlucky! My silence is broken
In mirror shards, yet the words are unspoken.
A battle of wills; a grim balance of need as I plead:
“Do these eldritch minutes help or impede?
Has my sanity fled? Have my mental parts rusted?
Could a clock on a tower be any more trusted?
We are guided by the tolls of huge clanging bells,
By whistles and sirens, machinery knells.
What are they telling us? Where do they lead?
Are we pawns in a game of steeplechase greed?
Who set all these clocks? Who fired the first pistol?
Is there really a forever behind the crystal?”
Time will not always tell, despite what they say.
I’m afraid the thirteenth hour is here to stay.
I have a few things wrong with me.
For example, I can be disorganized
as a carnival of fools
with my Alice watch unwound
or running too little too late
in a harebrained scheme
of impatient haste.
I might be mercurial as a polluted fish;
an alley cat on a tin roof in the middle
a bear on a trampoline
jumping for joy like a magic jellybean
containing a worm.
I will forget to remember things
that I wanted to forget
but can’t remember to
because I forgot to write it down.
The note might slip through
my fingers anyway and waft
in the breeze — forcing me to
scamper and chase it only to miss
by a wisp every time it lands.
I’m not all there and can neglect to pay
the piper, the fiddler, or attention.
Though I do try to listen to
the important stuff,
it can be tough to be in
the moment every minute;
a lot of the time I skip off into some
twaddlesome lanterloo of my own invention,
when not huddled in a corner
of the past
or fretting about tomorrow
in yesterday’s time zone.
My wits are whetted by absurd strings
of hyperbolic guddle and fuddlement.
I tend to grate the edge of reason
so sharp with my teeth while asleep
it can cut my hair, trim my fingernails
as I’m barely hanging on by them,
collect in strips and stripes
like wood shavings or cheese.
I’ve knocked on wood so hard
that it gave me splinters.
Words can fail when my tongue
is tied in a pretty bow
I cannot unfurl because
my finger got tangled up and trapped
when the ribbon was trussed
like a high-class hoity-toity pretzel
at the Prince’s ball.
And my stomach is frequently
knotted into a balloon menagerie,
pinched and creased like an origami zoo.
I am sure you know the feeling.
There’s a hole in my pocket
that leaves a trail of shortcomings
behind me wherever I go.
I could mend it with
a needle and thread but I might
jab myself in the leg
and leave a path of blooddrops
spilled over flaws and foibles,
the defects and deficiencies
that accumulate like bric-a-brac
or knickknacks, gimcracks,
spare parts, loose ends . . .
Oh look, there’s another!
If you should pick up a stray weakness,
it’s probably my fault.
Just drop it in the Lost And Found
where I can claim it
once my absence of mind
If I pick at it like a thread
I fear it may all unravel
I can’t keep track of every second
For they get away from me much too
Easily. I once looked at it as
An expanse, optimistic in my youth
Now as the candle burns lower
I find myself guarding it
More precious and valuable somehow
And try harder not to waste it
Without losing who I am
The senses of humor and perspective
That cling like static electricity
It takes a lot of time to become
Somebody — at least it used to
A rounded individual, someone great
Or at least good
Soon they will have a pill for that
Or surgery; a download for what used to
Take a lifetime. At any rate
I think I missed a turn
Along the way. It’s too late
To backtrack, and I am not one
To retrace my footsteps
I keep going on, right or wrong
It might not be the destination
I set out for. Perhaps I settled
On a fate instead of waiting for
A destiny. This life thing can be tricky
My view of it has grown shorter
Like my vision; patience too
And I have realized how uncertain
Plans are anyway as I ponder my
Tomorrows, scheduling minutes
In advance that are merely
Borrowed time and wishes, nothing
Certain. Except that what I am now
Is the best that I can be at the moment
Not my very best; that will always be
Over the rainbow
Through the looking-glass
On the horizon
Just a little bit farther
A few strides away
Almost at the tips of my fingers
Slightly out of reach
But there, right there
So close I can nearly
See it if I squint
Hear its cadence, faint as a breeze
Wavering, an illusion
That flickers and drums
A more or less steady
Marching song. Like the rain
A keyboard pounded by inspiration
A throbbing tempo on a dance floor
A rescue chopper’s rhythmic thumps
The flutter you hear in a sonogram
The pulse of everything
That ever was.
Friday The Thirteenth
It is said
the planets may veer on such bleak dates, as fates
shy from the portents of stellar magistrates,
misled by a moldering graveyard, an alley’s invite —
for mayhem and mischief out of the light . . .
Where we might
fall prey to the murderous vibes of cursing crows,
harbingers of doom hunched in deathly rows
upon rooftops, gable peaks, high wires and boughs;
ebon soldiers of Fortune with piercing trumpet vows.
No simple cornmongers,
these are agents for the master of dark destiny —
dressed in black tie and tails, pallbearers of misery,
abiding the call to usher each star-crossed loser
drawn from a hat by the lottery’s drab chooser.
Look and learn
as flickering candlewicks turn to seething tongues,
the stark cries of birds emit from a billion lungs
neath the glitteral peers of livid eye-whites
forming shadow-puppeteer connect-the-dot frights.
is an umbrella of winks, where a gaudy umbral dome
frowns down at bottom-dwellers skulking the gloam.
We are bound by its firmament, by cosmic constraints
to shuffle on schedule, bear our daily complaints.
we anticipate Friday’s advent, ecstatic for release
from the drudgery and toil, the machinery’s grease.
But not every fifth day of the week is so blithe;
if it falls on Thirteen, beware the grim scythe!
Dread will spread —
with frigid dismay, thick as butter on bread
over what could betide us, what perils lurk ahead —
conveyed like toys on a circuitous assembly vine
through the factory of Life, to the end of the line.
funeral-procession hearses with low-rider shocks
steered by drivers in moth-balled tuxedo frocks
congest the lanes, a broad belt of rush-hour panic.
Breaking the night, bats and crows hurtle manic.
will forebode disastrous consequences untold;
a period of tribulations when good luck is on hold,
suspended for an interval of twenty-four hours
that you may survive if you have special powers!
Should you feel
unlucky, expectations will be abysmal —
hope in short supply, the odds acutely dismal.
Air might crackle with arcane mysteries nigh
and your hair stand out as you wave bye-bye . . .
A mere number,
thirteen possesses no strength, I believe.
Such a day cannot harm, fight or aggrieve.
It is fluid, we know; composed of chance, thin air.
An evanescent flow to embrace and share.
I regard it
an occasion for celebration, the opposite of
a terribly off-day. I think it’s okay to fall in love,
start a journey, pet a black cat, take a ride.
Do not dig a hole and cower inside.
We mustn’t fear
the grimalkin or grimoire for spells cast;
must not blame the culture of an iconoclast,
any more than a page’s ink for a worst-selling book.
And yet, The Thirteenth we had best not overlook!
Months unfold — a deck carelessly shuffled,
spilling across table or floor — a flat road
paved by slippery laminated cobblestones
like Tarot cards that purport to tell
the future. But the numbered boxes
are empty, void of meaning, waiting to
be filled . . . blanks in the run-on sentence
Now the pen is out of ink, the roll of paper
sodden as it glides down a river of lost hopes
toward a rushing cataract of dreams.
The waterfall’s roar thunders in our ears
with a mighty flood of thoughts,
yet we cannot slow or dam its tenuous
stream of days and years, we can only strive
to float . . .
And not sink; to keep our heads above
the tides of Change that sometimes
pour like white frothing rapids
and other times subside to trickle —
a shallow layer clear as glass,
diluted and glossy, short of substance.
I am swept on my back, never a very
The current is all we can touch, not
yesterdays and tomorrows. They are
just ghosts or figments, ethereal vapors
elusive to our reach, beyond our
present grasp. Maybe one day
their images will be more defined than
memories; captured, concrete as fantasies
the truth about nothing
I have questions for the cosmos,
like why if I put lipstick on
my lips are not sealed
and how a couch potato can use
the remote control when everybody knows
potatoes have no limbs.
(Except Mister and Missus Potato Head,
but they’re not exactly real, are they?)
Where do June Bugs go in July?
How did the man get in the Moon
before there were astronauts and
ships to carry them there?
Why are we floating in Space
so indecisive and awkward —
and following an orbit —
instead of going somewhere else
or spinning out of control?
Why doesn’t Gravity hiccup every
now and then, or get tired
and take a vacation?
And why isn’t String Theory
full of knots like my hair?
These are thought-provoking wonders,
wouldn’t you agree?
I am certain you must, else your head
has to be missing most of its screws
and could fall off at any second.
There, you see?
Better grab it or it might gather moss;
you could get mud in your eye
or pebbles in your ears that would
rattle around the inside of your skull
and then where would you be?
With a headful of rocks instead of
A lot like a fish that doesn’t swim.
I can’t quite figure those fish out.
They come in a box and are orange
not gold, like the bowls of fish
people keep on tables for decoration,
only these are dry and crunchy
and have no scales unless you count
their dehydrated flecks of cheesy powder.
Thinking of them drives me crackers
so I am asking . . .
how does a loser stand a chance
when the wheat and the chaff
are separated, the corn and husk sorted
into organized chaos —
Frankensteined by mad scientists
recreating seeds that were already perfect?
Why does Man tinker with things that are
better left alone?
It is much the same as to arrange
orderly rows of mismatched socks.
It doesn’t make sense, like chickens with
stripes instead of pox; roosters with brushes
instead of combs. And why are they
running around crossing streets, or squawking
about the sky falling? I want answers!
Do you think it’s fair that failures can’t win
because to err is human?
I seem to have more questions
than when I began this soliloquy of ponderings.
If an eyeball itches on a lonesome eve,
can you hear the sound of one eye blinking?
Will you heed the flail of a thousand lashes
against the blade of Chance
cutting down the middle?
What does that even mean?
You see, I have lost my own marbles
among the blur of queries spilling
from my brainspout.
I am driven to hysterics by the flutter
of a cuckoo in my noggin
that must have flown in one ear
then out the other, unless it remains trapped
like a pigeon in a warehouse or store.
I can’t tell. Sometimes my days
are literally upside down,
sleeping at Dawn’s break, rising at Dusk.
Oh no, do I belong in a coffin?
Should I travel by hearse?
Time has no measure over me, nor dominion.
I am a lost soul who lives by a clock
of thirteen hours not twelve, and navigates
by polkadots rather than the stars.
I move in slow-motion
while days have sped up,
which is a frustrating condition.
I am intrigued by a cattail twitch stirred
by the brittle wind as I ask the heavens,
will there ever be the wag of a dog’s tail
on a wetland’s mourning?
Do not feed the night though its belly growls,
for in the wiles of weeds and marshes
hide the songs of thrushes midst
the rustles of rushes
and the termagant reeds!
As you can see, the lines of this poem
have snapped under the strain of too much
senseless pollen getting up people’s noses
and making them go kachoo
as I have clearly gone haywire
in the aftermath of a total brainsneeze.
There is no truth about nothing
in the end;
there is but the dribble and drip
the harmless broods of stranger breeds,
and the drool of aimless thoughtlessness
gone mad from the silly mud
that molds character,
the gumption and pink bubblegum
pasting the universe together.
Yin Or Yang?
This world is an unsympathetic place
Where the weak can be crushed
Whether by physical or emotional baggage
Then weeded out by Evolution. There is no
Room for being too sensitive or trusting
There is no sympathy for the broken
They are sacrificed to the volcano of
Progress that flows with molten avarice
To consume the present and pave it over
Erecting cold modern structures as empty
Of life as a city of ghosts, outdated and
Abandoned, or never lived in.
The world is a marvel of tender beauty
Of majesty and immeasurable riches
That have nothing to do with gold or silver
Coins or cash. There are true wonders
Of Nature, and guileless amazing creatures
Who live without burdens and boundaries
Or they once did. There are depths unlimited
In their souls, as in the heights of
Human spirit; the glow of warmth and grace
Kindness, determination, love and peace
That is possible if we stand united and believe
In good, however bad the times may be.
Our world is a duality, a Yin and Yang circle
Of dark versus light where moderation is
Key; balance is everything, like a juggler
Riding a unibike tossing crystal balls
That could shatter when dropped
And the future be sacrificed forever each time
The ball doesn’t bounce — analogous of
War and Fate. We are the flingers
The catchers charged with maintenance
Equilibrium, stability, a steady hand
If a generation fails, the next must
Scurry to recover that which is lost.
For Soledad Medrano
“It isn’t pretty.”
Three words she cast to the sea of night,
A message in a bottle
For whomever should find it
Washed on a shore, perhaps bobbing
In the waves of the celestial tide,
Swept by a current of sorrow and tears
Both shed and unshed.
Some tears are invisible, you know.
They burn the skin like acid
From the inside where none can see
The scars. I saw these words,
Brief and vague, excruciating and poignant,
Far flung to the eclectic electric crests
Of social media; the faceless odyssey
Of cyberspace . . . a bumpy ocean of endless
Distraction I grapple, unsuccessfully,
To avoid while writing or drawing.
It isn’t pretty.
Such a cryptic thought, shared
With the gravity of a quiet life-or-death struggle,
The kind we can pass on a street
And not glimpse the severity,
Filtered through kaleidoscopic senses,
Or the lenses of expired rose-colored spectacles
Needing a new prescription.
Yet it caused me to wonder, to pause
And study it for illumination.
Busy, giving the statement a quick glance,
I would stay tuned for an explanation, a clue
To its riddle. Like so many casual comments
Tossed out to random observers
At any given moment across a vast divide,
I couldn’t dwell on the meaning.
Only later, in another day or two
Would I learn how significant the remark
And recall that it struck me as rather odd
And terse; I had wanted more, something
To clarify. But I did not know her well enough;
A joke, a witticism would have felt
Out of place, the wrong tone.
I so rarely glimpsed what she shared
And couldn’t think of the proper response,
Uncertain what it referred to, that brooding
Note . . . A concerned reply from a virtual
Stranger would not have changed her mind,
I suspect. She needed to talk to someone.
Belated realization. Tragic retrospection.
I with my own introverted demons,
Time-challenged and pressured by
Continuous deadlines, agreed in silence:
It isn’t pretty; a lot of things aren’t.
But some are, and perhaps she needed to
Hear this. I waited for what else she might
Add. It was the last I would glimpse that night,
And the next.
Three simple words, how they touched me
With a twinge of mystery, a spark of curiosity.
And after that an indelible grief
In hindsight, for a moment of rue
I will always carry.
You can’t get a moment back
Once it is gone.
Had I reached out to ask, to inquire
What she meant . . . would the outcome
Be different? We are left to feel such things,
To wonder in the aftermath
What we could have done.
Now I mourn
And treasure those terms:
It isn’t pretty.
Written of darkness and agony
One dim October eve.
I was there and said nothing,
Preoccupied with my own issues.
I must live with that too.
I will remember it, an eternal regret.
A solitary vigil.
A chance wasted to connect
And be a true friend.
Farewell, Soledad. I did not say
Hello or goodbye at the time.
I just watched as I will
From the shadows of my own
Private share of past anguishes.
Now I know precisely what
You were telling us.
You seemed very nice, a lovely soul —
Who unfortunately harbored disastrous
Torments, inconsolable wounds.
A courageous author, brave enough to
Speak out about the unspeakable.
I among others will greatly miss your
Presence; your beautiful eyes and smile.
You were a light in the dark,
And your candle burns on.
My beret is removed in sympathy
for terror in the City Of Light;
for Parisians, our fallen sisters and brothers
across the seas. As French hats were lowered
when New York wept on Nine Eleven.
The world sobs together
for any town or neighborhood
targeted by hate,
ravaged with a violent yet curable disease —
the cold disregard for human life.
I hang my head in sadness,
grieving at the torches of disputes
on foreign lands or at home . . .
the bloodshed, turbulence, separation
dulling the shine of hearts joined
in mutual respect.
Atrocities occur too often,
wherever there are weapons aimed;
when groups with power cannot agree.
Cherished places are desecrated,
the calm of streets shattered by
bombs or bullets; by cowards and the brave,
who may resemble two sides of a coin
tossed in the air to decide who is right
and who is wrong. History turns to myth
when the facts are slanted or obscured.
It is cities like Paris and New York
that unite us all, that belong
to the globe, a greater sphere,
though we may not have visited;
we feel we know them so well
and dream of seeing their sights,
of strolling their lanes like lovers.
No extremes of heartless murder,
can mar the vision we embrace
or steal the spirit of a people joined
in hope and peace.
From day to day
opinions can change,
ideas may shift
and firm or razor edges
can soften, reform.
Plans should be written
in pencil not ink,
certainly not carved in stone,
or there will be much crossing out
and chipping, smoothing,
then revising more
as we seek to refine our views
But even then, like artists
we must accept that nothing ever is.
What we scribble, etch, engrave
is a changing blueprint that may
end up being what we do when
all else fails . . .
either a complete surprise
or an alternate route —
after the other alternate (Plan B)
was scrubbed. Erasing is neater.
Less time-consuming too.
I seem to have less and less of that,
and my plans will change accordingly.
It’s all interconnected, a network
of weights and balances,
like the universe.
I had a lot of plans once upon a time . . .
History is what it was,
a progression of events
from conquests to heroics,
depending on who recorded or witnessed
the comedies or tragedies —
so often defined by violence,
by somebody taking away
someone else’s rights.
Now and then it might seem
The Good Guys won,
but there were usually more than
an untold story.
For every win there had to be losses,
not always deserved or intended.
There were twisted fates,
stray bullets, random bombings,
grudges, mistakes, bystanders,
and innocents fell.
Wars seldom go according to plan,
while acts of terror are faceless plots
directed at ideals, beliefs, appearances.
Or the schemes of individuals
with axes to grind
and access to weapons.
There has been too much
destruction and hatred.
We can’t go back and fix that
because a Time Machine could create
a bigger mess, upset the scales
and tip things more out of whack
than they were.
We can only heal the present
and do our best for future generations
that history will not repeat.
I wish they would stop hiding
we should be learning from
to correct errors in advance
instead of multiplying them.
We have computers now
to help with the math.
Forget about Plan C;
it probably stands for Crazy.
By then it’s generally kind of late
to be repaired.
Or maybe the situation isn’t hopeless.
Maybe it needs another look.
And then sometimes,
just when Fate convinces me
that my luck is rotten as a black peach,
the worst or best serendipity reverses
my point of view entirely,
turning things around
from bad to good or not as terrible —
showing me the brighter side,
a flower growing on a battlefield,
a tree that survived
a forest fire — withstood the blaze
green and resilient among the charred
stumps and trunks of a bitter scourge.
One shining moment,
an uplifting reminder that all isn’t lost
if we find a shred of dignity or hope,
something to believe — telling us
not to give up. Sometimes that is all
there is, all we can take away
and grasp. Cling to this, a reassurance,
the thought that luck can change.
It might not be the end, the impossible
dream or limit of endurance.
It may just be a point of departure,
low tide before the current rises,
an ebb before the flow.
Or maybe, part of a grander design:
a cosmic sense of justice and order.
Karma, kismet, destiny.
We all share the fate of the world;
we are all one people under the sun
and stars. There is no room for
ulterior motives, skewed priorities.
Life, innocence, peace . . .
Not killing, not war, not death.
Stick to Plan A
for All Aboard,
One Plan Fits All,
the All For One And One For All
Approach . . .
just be sure to think
Plan B is for Bullies, Barbarians.
It’s Bonkers, Belligerent, Buffoonish.
Plan C? That spells
Calamity! Catastrophe! Casualties!
Or Cuckoo and Cockamamie.
Do the alphabet.
It’s as basic as A-B-C.
The people in the clock are listening.
I know they’re in there. I can hear them
between the ticks and cuckoos,
as sure as I can reach up and touch
that round silver moon just sitting
in the sky watching
the clockfolk wonder about me
like everyone else — except in their case,
I wonder about them just as much.
They’re tinkering inside, messing with
the way things are . . . the gears and
levers. People can never leave stuff alone,
they have to change how things run,
raise the bar, alter the system,
upgrade rules, wreck or improve
the status quo.
Here today, gone tomorrow!
But clocks have worked pretty much
the same for ages,
other than the kind that aren’t actual
timepieces. There are no gears and cogs.
No springs. Who knows what they are —
alien technology or modern junk.
I blame the people in the clock.
Why couldn’t they be satisfied?
As soon as I like something,
it will disappear, replaced in a flash,
tossed on the scrapheap of the obsolete —
burying yesterday’s new thing.
I can be a loon though I haven’t a feather.
I may carry an umbrella in all types of weather.
I might climb a scaffold without a paintbrush
and take my time while in a slight rush.
Don’t expect to be gotten or understood.
I refuse to be analyzed (as if you could)
like a bug under glass; I will still be duller
when vividly magnified in Technicolor.
How can the unfamiliar be appreciated?
The different may be snubbed, by some even hated.
My ways are mysterious as an unread book,
a head that has never been nodded or shook.
I seldom do the things you’re supposed to do.
Must be missing those parts, or some of the glue
that keeps it together, holds everything in place
like gravity and harmony. I don’t have a poker face.
In fact, I’m surprised to be recognized at all.
My features can look bland, unspecific as a ball
that isn’t defined by a particular sport . . .
just plain and anonymous. That is my sort.
Yet my heart is as light as an unstrung balloon;
I am deliriously me in the shimmer of the Moon —
when a clock strikes Thirteen and Time goes still
as a Will-O-The-Wisp mocking a Whippoorwill.
Not everything has to make perfect sense . . .
I am as blissfully ignorant as I am dense
about the state of the art of an artichoke heart.
Oops, I tugged a loose thread and am coming apart!
The Monster’s Lament
What if I told you space and time isn’t real?
That it’s all an illusion, a fabric to hide
the ugly mechanical parts, the guts and bolts
of the truth . . . that the universe you know
is a dream of smoke and mirrors,
a dash of cosmic dust?
Not the dust of stars and planets,
but a darkness so complete it is brighter
than a sun; a force that encompasses
nothing and everything at once,
upon a metabolic mindfield where matter
is infinite and pure, defying distance
Would you regard me a misguided thinker,
somber, bleaker than a forest of ice-trees
if I lost my faith in the ability to bend?
You must have disdained the obvious,
an elaborate frostwork of ornately sculpted
one-of-a-kind patterns within the chilling
haunted structure, clear and blinding in
the day, white and gray at night. But none of it
is genuine, permanent, shaped from rock;
it melts exposed to glare, vulnerable to seasons.
I, a starveling for affection, crouch in the shade
of my convictions; an outcast freak born of graves
Can you see into my soul? Would you meet
my eyes if I gave you the chance? I have found
that one can blaze a path by stepping softly
without creating much sound or disturbance.
As I creep round the edges of civilization . . .
do you notice me, or are you blind to my
lurking out of shyness, my glimpses and gazes?
I have watched you and wonder if you could
look beyond the deformities, my eccentric
nature without growing alarmed, summoning
the club-and-torch brigade, the pitchfork
militia. It is so easy to be unaccepted if you
Would you view me as a threat because
my heart stopped beating, my flesh was cold?
Do you find it monstrous to live again through
a few borrowed parts? Maybe it is Science
you should fear, having made me what I am.
That is what defies logic and principles,
crosses barriers and prudence, shirking morals
for the sake of experiment. Perhaps you are
correct that I should not exist as I am,
for I am a work of artless forgery, a sham.
There is no place for such an aberration, whether
in society or the wilderness. I must seek a cure,
The victim of Mankind, can I forgive you for
my suffering and then for spurning me,
your invention? Where shall I fit in, this
creature of distasteful features and virtueless
traits but outside your cities and provinces?
I have no home, no purpose. I must find a place
at the end of the earth, neglecting to mark
a trail of footprints as evidence, not leaving
a single fingernail shred behind. And the time
will pass slower, every detail intricately rendered
by anxiety, but it will pass before you know as
you try to forget your mistake, groping within to
I may endure despite all efforts, a reminder of the
dreamworld once crafted to gawp at imperfections.
The walls of belief and race and culture erected
in order to have drama, to disrupt the glorious
mundane monotony of everything as it should be,
of a peace so tranquil that it drowns you
like an undisturbed lake. I rose from the base
of that pool, from its muddy depths,
and fascinated you with my garish visage,
then frightened you — more human, more
sentient than your kind would tolerate
in a beast. Therefore, I shall not vex you
I desired to walk beside you, engage in equal
pursuits, but I am aware now I could never be the
same. That was my folly, for we were not created
equal. What is disparate cannot be transformed
and labeled authentic. Science must have limits,
must be wielded with due conscience and ethics.
I am the antithesis of humanity and life!
How vain and warped to conceive that one
such as I could serve as an acceptable substitute
for a man. I am sufficiently intelligent by your
standards to recognize what I am and am not . . .
I am death. I am deceit. I am an ogre.
~ An elegy alluding to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN