Friday night in middle July

Just finished reading “We.”
My subway read. How does it end?
You know how it ends.

Like every other dystopian story.
Depressingly. Spoil alert!!
Evil wins. OneState prevails.

Big Brother and the Benefactor
come out on top. It’s pretty
fucked up. Totally predictable.

But you keep hoping.
As you turn each page you hope.
And then the end slaps you.
Such suckers we all are.
Cause there ain’t no Superman.


#AugustPostcardPoetryFest warm-up haiku

I loved my Brompton

but the tires were too thin

for curved mountain roads –


And so I sold it –

helmet and all, pump and lights,

to a city girl.





from the archives. June, 2009. Damascus, Syria. Sonnet without punctuation (for Michael)

Sonnet #39 (without punctuation)

We mourn the setting of a brilliant star
Who blazed a path for many, then burned out
At first he sang sweet songs of puppy love
He later sought through song to heal a world
His passions lifted us before his fall
As children we adored his boyish ways
We grew, became adults with his success
As men and women we thought we knew his pain
His stardom overswept us like the dust
That sweet melodic voice became a rasp
On our subconsciousness, his call to heal
Was crowded out by bills and laws and hate
And so we mourn a man who paid the price
And hope that lesser lights will now suffice

Damascus, Syria

Natural Forces, or, Notes to a Former Lover (from the archives)

Guine-Bissau is a land of sudden change:
High tide rolls in and out within minutes;

There is no dusk, no reflective moments
between daylight and darkness;

The dry dusty season follows quickly
on the heels of the rains and floods,
as if one can’t wait for the other to get out of town;

The calm coolness of winter begins
while the heat and humidity of summer
are still there with us……

When you leave, roll out like high tide,
dramatically, instantaneously,
leaving my beach bare, exposed and muddy;

May your departure be as brief an interlude
as the fleeting dusky twilight between
afternoon and nightfall;

Let the rains of tears you brought me evaporate,
instantly, in the rapidly approaching,
dry sun-scorching drought and
coolness of dawn,

The temperature of my passion dissipating
while the heat of your madness yet remains.

All My Muses – from the archives (never made it to the blog)

All the Muses

The first muse was my father.
Polyhymnia. He’d wake me up
in the middle of the night
to slur his way through a poem
he had memorized as a child.
It was torture, pure, but the
seed was planted.

Our muse mother, also Polyhymnia,
taught us early to read and write,
made us write.

My fifth and sixth grade teacher
kept us two years, she loved us so.
Her name was Terpsichore.
I still recall the dances she taught us
and the poems she had us memorize,
some her own.

My scoutmaster. Urania.
Taught us the value
of building a camp fire strong enough
to resist a cold wind, cooking over embers,
map-making, compass reading, hiking,
poetry of the forest and woods.

My ninth grade English teacher,
Calliope, showed me the value of grinding
through the classics, the epic works.

My eleventh English teacher, Euterpe,
was a performance artist who shared
with us her first hand experiences
as a young college student in New York
during the Harlem Renaissance.

That first kiss.
A muse-full experience.
Rushed back my room
each night to write poems
about the new high I had found.

The bakery where I worked
was one big collective muse.
All my big brothers and sisters:
Nelson, Alvin, Floyd, Ralph,
Carl, Charlotte, Robin, Lawrence,
James, George, Melvin, James,
Linzell, Jeffrey, Darnell, Richard,
Charles, Michael, Dayne.
One big collective muse.

The sea became my muse,
the vast and boundless sea.

A kind friend taught me
the sonnet form.
She was my Erato,
my Thalia,
my Melponeme.

And the Beloved Community
was my muse.
My peaceful port,
shelter in a raging storm,
my restore point.
My Polymatheia,
my Cephisso,
and Borysthenis.

a sonnet from the archives (and an accompanying blog post to boot!)

It may all be lost in a masquerade –
that’s what Benson used to say
in the song that criss-crossed
between jazz and rhythm & blues –

maybe the universe is a giant hologram –
two dimensions projected over a 3d space,
and we all live in a simulated lab
of our own making – or our enemy’s –

which would explain the gaps
and limitations that often present themselves
in our silent hopes and daydreams –

and all the chit-chat we engage in
about race and sex and intersectionality.
Stop! The love you save – may be your own.

#DiGiWriMo – November 21

Buried deep in my Google drive – Baghdad month to month. Farewell party poem, January 2009

Baghdad in January was cold and rainy.
Raindrops sounded like bullets
hitting the tin roof of my hootch,
keeping me awake all night long,
all January. Maybe it was bullets.

Baghdad in February was busy, busy.
New job, new boss, new staff,
new stuff to write home about.
Steep learning curve in February.

Baghdad in March was scary.
Very scary.
I learned to pray again
because I knew I couldn’t make it
to the duck and cover bunker quick enough,
even if I tried. Siren. 4 seconds. Kaboom.
March was very scary.

Baghdad in April was miserable.
Plenty of room in the Hotel Republican Palace,
When safety needs drove us out of the hooches
to avoid incoming mortar rounds,
but not enough bathrooms or showers to go around.
Lucky for me, R&R came.
Home to Cairo in April.

Baghdad in May was a relief.
I packed up my hootch
and moved to the NEC apartment
and hardened shelter.
We might survive this after all.
Relief in May.

Baghdad in June was busy, busy.
The bidding cycle started.
Mil Air cancellations forced us
to consider emergency commercial alternatives,
opening a big old pandora’s box.

Baghdad in July was busy, busy.
The bidding cycle continued.
Lucky for me, R&R came.
Home to Washington.

Baghdad in August was very hot
and busy, busy. New staff to train.
The bidding cycle ended.

Baghdad in September was hot and busy.

Baghdad in October was hot and busy.

Baghdad in November was 2nd R&R.
Elections at home. Optimism.

Baghdad in December was moving to the new office.

Baghdad in January was over.
Unscheduled overnight on the tarmac
In Kuwait City. Hot and stinky.
Made new friends.
Home at last . . .