August 1, 2013

High culture and low
polished and profaned
sanctified and ghettoized –
all the decisions we make
stem from false dichotomies
presented to us – opposing options

in a narrative, neither of which
makes us better or worse for the wear —

just older and grayer,
more wrinkled and cataract’d
until our vision is blocked,
and our tastebuds deadened
by the novocaine they give us –
for good behavior.

August 2, 2013

I wake up with the hiccups,
my coffee jones is down on me –

I stumble to the kitchen,
still some powder left in the grinder

from yesterday’s yesterdays –
I fire up the kettle – twice-boiled

water will do just fine, thank you.
My hiccups are getting worse…

The french press is full of sludge.
I pour the sludge out – most of it –

what remains will season the new batch,
sort of like making yogurt. The whistle

is blowing, the water is boiling again.
Won’t be long now. Won’t be long.
August 3, 2013 – Morning river walk

The tide is low
the current is calm –
and flat, and still
like a mirror, reflecting
in near perfect symmetry
images of flora and statuary
from the far side –

and on the near side
the polk salad weeds are
growing tall
and bowing over –
their leaves too long,
too brown
for human consumption.

August 4, 2013 – Introducing Maria

another crazy dance with Maria dos Santos Pittsylvania:
she loves the Tango, Lambada, Kizomba –

always well-dressed, her steps are technically
choreographed, mechanically proficient.

The rhythm, the beat of the music determines
each step, each twirl, each bump, each groove:

but the melody stirs the heart, and you want
to peek into her eyes, cast a flirtatious glance, at least –

then the beat shifts, requiring a technical adjustment,
precision; and attention to the glance you seek

gets diverted to the mechanics of the dance, again –
and you know it’s OK, because Maria is an android

in a pretty pink body suit. And you think yourself
a knight in shining armor – this is Second Life, silly.

August 5, 2013 – Found Poetry (notes from LSC 557)

love, the layout of the homepage –
hyperlinks to all contents

feedback –

print function takes you to a list
of pdf’s that are transcripts for each section
first game: concept blocking, also called nesting

August 6, 2013 – Transfer orders

Got my transfer orders the other day,
be heading out to my next post

real soon. Brushing off the
old dust, washing all those memories

of the process right out of my head.
Delivery was a tortuous path,

and labor was unusually lengthy –
not like the last time when the path

was smooth and we just slid right
out. Oh no, this time was painful,

and slow and unpredictable – but in
some ways better, thorough, meaningful,

more comprehensive. Thank God it’s the
last transfer point on the Orange Line.

August 7, 2013 – Man and the expanding universe: truth

truth expands outward
yields right-of-way to falsehood
continues on its path

Maria do Santos Pittsylvania
is my avatar in Second Life

she is a pink body-suited android
and she knows how to dance Kizomba

her steps are pure poetry –
her smile – deliverance – truth

August 8, 2013 – Flashbacks to Pike Place

Yesterday I received a poem
on a postcard about a city I knew
and a street market I often visited
to buy seafood and books and frankincense.
The poem even featured a recent emigrant
from North Carolina: me, time-traveling.
Again. I quickly flashed back to the early ‘80’s,
& long, lonely submarine deployments,
& the Cold War & rainy rides to Seattle
via the Bainbridge Island Ferry, to shop
for books and old albums in the U district &
at Pike Place Market, always anticipating
the next voyage to the bottom of the sea.

August 9, 2013 – Man and the expanding universe: love

Love expands in space
Fills every crack and crevice
overcomes all hate –

Physicists say it’s not the universe
but space that expands – and material

things spread out to fill the new space
if their internal energies allow it –

love in the world wants to spread and
fill the expanding space – we gotta let it…

August 10, 2013 – El Gusto!

in postcard absence I’m writing about
a concert I attended night before last –

El Gusto, playing Chaabi,
music of the Casbah in Algiers–

music of the streets,
of the village, clubs and bars –

like jazz, and blues, and gospel –
and fado I have known –

they played, they sang,
they stood up and danced –

they made a joyful noise –
old men of the Casbah –

muslim and jewish and other –
getting down together with song.
August 11, 2013 – Man and the expanding universe: peace

the big bang of war
makes us fear that peace is far –
removed from our dreams.

yet peace is gaining critical mass each
moment that passes: its energy is spreading

diametrically, at an accelerating rate, and reasons
for war and conflict are shrinking, like fear

and greed, and the senseless need to dominate
others. Let peace expand and grow.

August 12, 2013

“The Beat Generation poets claim
many influences in literature, art,
and religion. To what extent were
the Beat Poets influenced by proto-
and pre-modern poets like Whitman
and Dickinson?”

Your poem about carrots
made me think about tobacco –
stalks so tall, rows so long,
long as the eye could see…

I only lasted a couple of weeks –
the fat worms on the broad green leaves –
and the hot sun beating on me,
on my head, the days so long.

August 13, 2013

There is a rumor the Lone Ranger
was a Negro and that’s why
the white guys who always play him
wear a full-face black mask.

Hi-Yo Silver! Away!

When I was in the seventh grade
(must have been 1968/1969),
I wrote a theme paper entitled,
“The Story of the Negro Cowboys.”

Who was that masked man, anyway?

Nat Love, also known as Deadwood Dick,
Bill Pickett, One Horse Charley (also
known as Nigger One Horse Charley)
and Bass Reeves, slave-turned-lawman.

Was Bass Reeves really the Lone Ranger?

Maybe. Maybe not. But the last thing
we need right now is a mythological Negro,
on a white horse, here to save us from
a mythologized Negro on a white horse.

Hi-Yo Silver! Away!

“A fiery horse with the speed of light,
a cloud of dust, and a hearty Hi Yo Silver!”


August 14, 2013 – Man and the expanding universe: art

moral courage dies
and corruption’s stench prevails –
lies erase the truth

my LinkedIn friends keep endorsing me
for Government. But me and Uncle Sam

are a shrinking universe. I’m leaving
the troop that errs, the team that lies,

leaders who destroy lives for sport, as art –
themselves a crime, a sin, a plague. Farewell.


What do you do with a bitter poem?
Do you send it with an explanation?
Do you just send it?
Or do you sit on it and
wait for the clouds to pass?


All done with academics –
notes organized and filed away.
Filomena can see the dining room table top again!

Today we write poetry on postcards
to friends and strangers.

August 15, 2013 – Making the bed

Since I retired my wife insists
on making the bed together every day.
I guess I was at work when all this excitement
happened before. We fluff and straighten
the pillows, aligned but not touching.
Sheets tight and tucked, folded over at the top.
All equally distributed side to side.
(She cannot think until the bed is made!)
Then she calls me an amateur when I
walk away before she has taken the final
measurements. “This is not boot camp,”
I whisper to myself. But by then
the kettle is whistling, the freshly
ground coffee requesting submergence.

August 16, 2013 – While we weep

Today I visited the national secular temple
to worship the Goddess Minerva, Virgin
of Wisdom and War –

we make ablution with the warm waters
of Jeffersonian idealism before we enter
the holy of holies –

we shut our eyes and ears to the hypocrisies,
and our collective birth defect gets banished
to the wine cellar –

while we weep, while we weep –

August 17, 2013 – Rains of Bissau

I miss the rains of Bissau –
the soft pitter-patter at dawn –
the heavy downpour, like clockwork,
in mid-afternoon – as chuvas veem –
the lightning and the thunder
at sunset, raging against the end of days –

I wish we had some postcards
from that magical place –
we have a painting of Joao Landing
before the Chinese built the bridge –
and statuettes from the Bijagos.
Manjaco cloth draps the sofa,
and music CD’s from the Tabanka
are on the shelf – but postcards não ha.

August 18, 2013 – Started my day

I started my day
with a walk –

and a submarine
sank and burned –

and a thousand
peaceful protesters died –

and a vice-president
resigned –

and a press conference
was inconsequential –

and we had dinner
with friends.August 19, 2013 – Summer fall

There is a slight chill
in the August morning air – Summer
withdraws so quickly, quietly –

The trees – now fully dressed –
will slowly shed – disrobe – prepare
for Autumn’s triumph march.

August 20, 2013 – We Take These Things for Granted

What is the greatest scientific
problem of our time?

How do you send a postcard
to a homeless person?

Can people serving prison terms
order books from Amazon.com?

We take these things for granted
but we shouldn’t.

August 21, 2013 – Lady Day

I could listen to Lady Day
sing – all night long –
those blue minor chords that
don’t quite seem to fit
except for their perfection;
those flat notes that fall so
softly from her lips, like
manna, to our awaiting souls –
like dew, early, early
before sunrise…
I could listen to those
old songs all night long –
“Bend your branches down –
along the ground – and cover me.”

August 22, 2013 – Pocket Compass

And old friend brought me back
a gift
from a market in Afghanistan

a brass pocket compass with
a poem
inscribed in the screw-on cover

it’s final verse (engraved
in words
too small for 57-yr-old eyes) 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 on less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.”

August 23, 2013 – Postcard Poems

I treasure receiving these
postcard poems –
and so I send in hopes
that I’ll receive –
today I expected to harvest
a bumper crop –
but none came.

Still, twelve have arrived,
so I go back
and re-read them all,
one by one,
line by line.

A lovely stack of thoughts –
my treasure,
my winning lottery ticket,
my pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow.

August 24, 2013 – L.A. Times

I’m not much for contests
and competitions – all that
reminds me of work, of a life
I want only in the rear-view
mirror. Nonetheless, I submitted
two poems to the L.A. Times
Op-Poetry call. They may not
choose my poems. They may.

August 25, 2013 – Restoration haiku

Black knight to G 2 –
one move left. Black bishop zooms in!
game is up. Checkmate!

Silly games we play –
courage, we lack; truth, avert –
the same sad ends. We reach.

August 26, 2013 – Last Day in Purgatory

My last day in Purgatory
and I am writing haiku
about it. I should be out –
celebrating the end of this passage –
not at this table, trying to reduce
it all to words, to symbols, to
hieroglyphs on postcards.
I’ll take a walk to the Post Office.

August 27, 2013 – Re-Instatement August 20, 2013

They turn us off, they turn us on,
they hope it satisfices –
they banish us, invite us back,
and think that it suffices –

they are a stain, a plague, a curse
a lame excuse for leaders –
they cover-up, they obfuscate,
they lie and trick the readers.

August 28, 2013 – Channel 9 called.

Channel 9 just called –
said they wanted to interview me
about my poem – Invitation –
Naw, I tell them, they
can read the poem, no need
to see my face. “Then can
we interview you with your face
hidden?” “I don’t think so.
Where did you say you were calling from?”

August 29, 2013 – The Urge To Post

the urge to post poems to
a blog is tremendous,
and I cannot wait for the
end of the month to do it –

but I have discovered/experienced
a great thrill, just dropping
postcards in the mailbox,
knowing they will eventually
reach their destination:
a listening ear –
a reading eye –
an open heart.

August 30, 2013 – Two Questions

Two questions haunt me,
begin and end it all –
who am I?
Why am I here?

Identity, purpose/calling:
defines the man/woman/soul –
gives meaning to this otherwise
boring sojourn we call life,
color to a dull, gray,
wintered world.

August 31, 2013 – God has ordained

God has ordained this path –
and ordered my steps in it.
I don’t know where it leads,
nor its destination. I only know
that I must follow. And so I march
down my chosen path.

Each soul has its own –
a path, a calling –
a thing that it must do,
a task that it must accomplish,
or else it fails.
Embrace it – let it
embrace you back.