prose poem from the archive for the end of ModPo

I often imagine taking a walk with Walt down a long country road, a dirt road, with puddles of mud and thick grass on either side.

And his poetry, as I read it out loud, are the “lyrics” of the conversation we would have.

Right now I am reading “Faith Poem” as we walk down the road (Tobacco Road, let’s call it, since life is real in North Carolina):

“I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities, insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds, rejected refuse, than I have supposed;

“I do not doubt there is more in myself than I have supposed – and more in all men and women – and more in my poems than I have supposed”

So we are talking, maybe smoking, and though I am black, we don’t focus on his reference to slaves, because for a moment,

for the duration of this walk, we have both released/escaped/overcome our individual identity claims.

I adore Emily Dickinson, and frankly I worship the ground she walks on (“The only way to approach ED is on your knees”).

Her poems are a fountain that constantly flows, constantly refreshes.

But I’d never take a walk down a long country road with Emily. No reflection on Emily, but just the relationship I have with Walt.


how a tweet became a poem – the demise of SNL

Nobody “needs” to watch
a TV show on a Saturday night.
Particularly an offensive one.
Next week change the channel,
or better yet, turn the TV off,
study a poem, read a book,
or have the conversation
you’ve been avoiding with a loved one.
Don’t talk about it. Do it.
Will the offensive TV show
into non-existence.
Be the change.

Dear Lord. Another coffee poem.

I had to change the gasket
on my favorite coffee pot.

Found it on Amazon. A packet
of five will last until the end.

It’s a Portuguese Moka pot
we bought early in our marriage –

when the gasket gets old
it becomes brittle and stiff and

the pot won’t hold pressure,
and we all know that pressure

is the secret to a great cup
of Portuguese expresso.

It’s only the 2nd gasket change
in over 20 years for this pot.

The stainless steel French press
uses a different, smoother type

extraction – no gasket required
but you must use a coarser ground.

A sneak peak into my newest collection: Poems and Tweets in the Age of Trump

shut-down, cool-down, de-pressurize

Who gets to write the poetry,
that is, the first-hand account,
for what it’s worth, describing
the next nuclear holocaust?

I studied the ethical and strategic
dimensions of the last one at Army
War College. I confess it was neither
poetic nor convincing and perhaps

the world would be much better off
if soldiers and diplomats studied
peace more and war a whole lot less.
But back to the questions at hand.

How long does it take, post-delivery,
for the ashes, debris, and remains
to cool enough for the victor
to march in and measure it all,

to assess the damage accurately?
for the searing heat to dissipate,
for the bright flash of light
to soften to a gentle glow?

from the archives – another 14 liner

Each universe with which we interact
demands of us a level of respect
and complicity, yes, complicity,
while we wonder if we are hypocrites,
or merely disbelievers. As if it
even matters. And what doesn’t kill us
endows us, becomes our strength and power,
our shelter in a storm. The paths we trod,
we tread, the record of our deeds becomes
our judgment day, our immortality.
Be patient with me – I’m not finished yet.
Pay no attention to my southern charm,
that folksiness you underestimate
is just a steady cadence for my march.


Beat Reader – a fourteen liner

My copy of “the portable beat reader”
still has its original dustcover intact –
it’s one of those laminated kinds that
libraries use to make books last forever.

I break it out for week 6 of ModPo
each year. Found it on an online sale
from Fresno County Free Library,
though it plainly says in the inside cover,
“You may return library material to any branch.”

The cardholder inside is stamped “WITHDRAWN –
keeps telling me to stop buying used books.
She watches too much of that “Hoarders”
show on television, and Real Lives, and HGTV.

from the archives: “pocket compass”

And old friend brought me back
a gift from a street market in Kabul –
it was a brass pocket compass with
a poem inscribed in the screw-on cover
(She knew of my love for poetry).
Its final verse (engraved in words
too small to make out for my 57-yr-old eyes,
but clearer with a magnifying glass) reads:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.”

Go figure. An American poem inscribed
inside a British compass, being sold
in a market in Afghanistan. Where
is the Russian? Or was that occupation
too rapid a blink? Maybe the whole thing
is a fake – maybe something counterfeit.

Stanley London
Pocket Compass