January 17, 2014 #smallstones

don’t stop
let it pop

words and notes
lines and quotes
ships and boats
dreams and hopes

deeds that inspire
thoughts that catch fire
minds that inquire
hearts that desire

don’t stop
reach the top

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January 16, 2014 #smallstones

The same Spirit that haunts me, guides me –
same dude, although sometimes he shows up
in drag, wearing a wig, and lipstick –
talking ‘bout, “Will you light my cigarette?”

This same Spirit appears infrequently,
but just often enough to remind me
that he is both my rudder and my anchor.

He often warns me about the Muse
and her sisters. “Those women are no good,”
he says, “all that flattery and inspiration.”

The same Spirit used to frighten me when
I was a young pup. We are old friends now,
able to dismiss one another’s excesses.
It is, how shall we say, a mutual appreciation?

January 15, 2014 #smallstones

It’s a cold night in the bottom:
a deep fog has crept up on us
from the swamp below –
so thick the street lamps
look like little moons in the distance –

And my legs are tired, man,
my knees are aching so bad:
from walking too long –
too far – too late – too often –
to meet too many obligations –

But soon I’ll be home –
hot soup simmering on the stove –
a pair of loving arms awaits me:
to hold me and to listen to my story

January 14, 2014 #smallstones

class notes (found poetry)

the transformed, empowered mind….
(mystical processes)
…is capable of more possibilities….
(can transform our perception)
…than the ordinary mind…
(and thus grant us subtle abilities
that we previously did not possess)

January 13, 2014 #smallstones

meeting last night
at Starbucks
to plan our strategy

Gotta bust outta this old groove
and break out a new thing

here are the assignments:
M: logistics/space planning
A: evidence/artifacts
R: database aggregation
S: overall in charge

Maybe Sun Ra was right:

January 12, 2014 #smallstones

What if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and tomorrow – the tomorrow of our dreams –
is really yesterday, or the day before?

And what if time dislocates itself
from time to time, like water,
always seeking its own level?

And what if we live and love inside
a closed box, where freedom and justice
are just optical illusions,
dream-like holograms of hope?

And what if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and homeless shelters and prisons
our true condition, an accurate depiction
of our feeble, temporal existence?

And what if poetry is speaking in tongues,
and pure information our medium of exchange,
transmitted exclusively by a holy kiss?

January 11, 2014 #smallstones

black ice –
slipping and sliding
and stumbling and trembling
and smiling and grinning
and aiming and missing –

and slipping and sliding
and tripping and gliding
and aimlessly riding
and falling and falling
in love with Just ModPo

January 10, 2014 #smallstones

when a great poet/
griot/spirit passes on –
you can’t just go to bed
at the normal time,
as if nothing special happened,
as if the routine is the same,
the same old routine…

you gotta stay up late,
read his work out loud –
invoke his spirit,
let it come inside your house –
sip some scotch with it,
smoke some weed if you got some,
and take a pause,
and take a pause,
and take a pause…

January 9, 2014 #smallstones

“The Poet is a faker who’s so good at his act
He even fakes the pain of pain he feels in fact.”

no need for an apology –
it was I who over-reacted:
obsessed with non-existent privacy –
trained with a double fiction:
never who I am,
never where I am,
always hiding the truth –
even from myself –
and mixing justifications –
until I lose the ability
to distinguish contrived reason
from complex reality –
but that phase of life is over:
and I need to break away.

January 8, 2014 #smallstones

when I write about Emily
behind the scenes I am thinking
about my sister Phillis,
kidnapped and brought
to Colonial America from Africa,
enslaved, she mastered English
and blossomed as a writer of verse.
She died a free woman, a poet,
but her husband destroyed all her work.
Chained to a bad husband
might be worse than slavery.

January 7, 2014 #smallstones

a pleasant Sunday afternoon
on a cold January day
eight people with a common love
for poems and poets and poetry

we finished the chat on Pessoa
and stood around, talking Netflix binges –
not caring about rushing off
to the next big thing –
absorbed by and absorbing
the atmosphere around us,
that we created, together.

January 6, 2014 #smallstones

enter the dark horse,
DC Poetica:
exotic, enticing,
yet reminiscent
of a bygone classicism –
DC Poetica:
I could be persuaded

January 5, 2014 #smallstones

Fortune cookie:

You will travel
to an African country
that you love
and meet with an old friend
about a business prospect.

January 4, 2014 #smallstones

reflections on Yoga: The Art of Transformation at the Sackler

walking before dawn is my Meditation –
writing poetry is my Austerity –
prayer on bended knee is my Asana –
and the Beloved Community
is the landscape of my Practice

January 3, 2014 – #smallstones

It’s 7pm Thursday and it’s snowing
in Washington but not sticking, yet.
If this continues through the night
we’ll have a good accumulation by daybreak –
the temperature is low enough
the night is long enough
the snowflakes are small enough
the snowfall is steady enough –
good enough to guarantee a white Friday.

January 2, 2014 #smallstones

January 2, 2014  small stone

after all the parades and football games
and shopping sprees and pundit prophecies
what does it mean, this changing of the year?
Janus has two faces, east and west, alike,
or north and south – choices and decisions
we must make, obligations, promises
to keep. And if the film is one we’ve seen
before, we have to change the narrative

or at least switch out the soundtrack
change the rhythm and the beat
throw some popcorn to the ceiling
clap our hands and stomp our feet.
January has two full moons this year
moon rises at sunrise, and sets at set.

#smallstones, January 1, 2014

a few notes from my morning walk
a man playing a harp on one side of Pegasus,
on the other, a man carrying sheathes of wheat
over one shoulder with a scythe in his hand,
a turtle at the harpist’s foot (percussion, maybe,
or just slowly but surely wins the race?)
“Music and Harvest” is says at the base –
a man carrying a large book on the outside
of the other Pegasus (it is a gate, after all!)
and an archer with a taunt bow on the inside,
the all-knowing serpent at Pegasus’ rear quarter,
“Aspiration and Literature” at the base –
the copper of both is green with tarnished disregard
but truth shouts out despite the dirt and dust


Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson!

ed birthday 12092013

The words we read,
the lines we write,
are gaps in time,
that soon take flight –

poetry has that property
transporting us through space –
we write a word and make a rhyme
and aim it to its place –

if accurate, we hit the mark,
we reach the goal we seek –
but if precise, we claim the prize,
and scale the highest peak –

the words and rhymes unwind, divide
with measured purpose, need –
then seek to replicate the thought
and shape the world of deeds –

The message in
the poems we write
is free, yet hidden
in plain sight.

This poem started its life as a sonnet,
but grew into its own raison d’etre –
just like poems used to be my secret place,
but then long walks became my safe harbor –
a refuge from too many random thoughts.

I’d briskly walk down 23rd and cast
a furtive glance at the factory where
I once worked, abandoned when its widgets
ceased to shine; and the place is overcome
by snakes and mice – feeding on each other –
a fortuitous disassociation.

Now I walk a different path: the river
curves with the earth, and bends, and pulsates,
like blood coursing through America’s veins.
I cross the river and see images
of monuments, framed by highways and trees.

It closes with a line from fifty-five:
“Which then of God’s favors will you deny?”

a short poem for a sad moment (previously titled, “Metro Center”)

He always knew
his enemies
would not be able
to destroy him –

nor would
violence or disease
conspire to
take him out –

nor would he be
behind the wheel
when he crossed
the River Jordan –

one night he would
fall asleep, as usual,
and wake up
in Beulahland.

a luta continua…

End of November, Start of December

End of November, Start of December

My wife said I should write a poem

my wife said I should write a poem
with the new pen she gave me
for my birthday and retirement
which fall, officially, on the same date

a sudden, premature birth
induced by prayer and fasting
because the very next day was
the beginning of a new cycle of history

a lady with tired legs
sat down on a bus
and that was all it took
to jumpstart a revolution in thinking

and a deliverance from a dark place
that confined the spirit –
to an unfamiliar but
welcoming new reality, at last.

became, reconfigured:

my wife said I should write a poem
a sudden, premature birth
a lady with tired legs
and a deliverance from a dark place –

with this new pen she gave me
induced by prayer and fasting
sat down on a bus
that confined the spirit –

for my birthday and retirement
because the very next day was
and that was all it took
to an unfamiliar but –

which fall, officially, on the same date
the beginning of a new cycle of history
to jumpstart a revolution in thinking
welcoming new reality, at last.

November 24, 2013

Freedom Day
(channeling Rosa Parks on the 58th anniversary of her arrest)

the space where I used to live
no longer has existence for me –
no meaning, good or ill –
an emptiness that is shrinking

into nothingness in immeasurable
segments: weekly, daily, minute-by-minute.
The physical place it occupies
still stands, and people there still breathe

and live, and work, and plot,
and love – but all of that escapes
the gravity of my present reality;
stands outside the new world I configure

for the future, which beckons me,
and even for the past, which still aches
for vindication. Take two aspirin
for that silly pain. A deep breath. Slowly.

December 1, 2013

Final ModPo Webcast 11/18/2013

Final ModPo Webcast 11/18/2013

Goodbye but not farewell

Goodbye but not farewell.
We will continue our conversations
and social media chats –
with new friends,
with old friends.

And we will continue writing poems:
together in small groups,
and at home, alone,
in the midnight hour that is not
midnight, but that
floats between isha and fajr –
the darkest part of night –
when passions die,
and distractions fall to the side.

The songwriting teacher said all I needed
was a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary –
but it hasn’t proven sufficient –

and there are no final words, anyway,
no bridge, no chorus, no refrain,
just a tight hug, a soft sigh, a tender kiss,
and a throw-away “see-you-tomorrow,”
maybe, if you’re lucky. And all my
countrymen are poets, and sailors.

No, goodbye is not farewell.
There is SloPo on Facebook,
and sudden spoon is resurrecting,
and the Breakfast Club opera is on track,
and KWH is always open,
and there are Sunday get-togethers in DC
whenever you are passing through.

And all our blogs and our websites are up,
and NaPoWriMo comes in April,
and Postcard Poetry Fest comes in August,
and before you know it, ModPo14!

more last words poems here: http://poemsbyray.blogspot.com/

Experimentation in Standard Time

Experiment in Standard Time

Autumn urban afternoons
get shorter and sweeter –

standing in the middle of “I” street
I await a very specific angle on the bow,
as my ship called Earth comes about:
a unique perspective on how time passes –

in the distance you can see Virginia:
how many beats per measure
are there in Standard time?

the future is reaching back to join us,
to warn us, to help us alter course
to starboard so we can pass port to port –
the present and the future,
like two ships, passing in a storm.

We post to a blog or sing a song:
we write some non-rhyming words
we call poetry –

and time is a social construct,
a contractual agreement we accept
from fear of things we don’t know –
dawn to dusk, high noon
to the darkest part of night –

a 24 second shot clock.
We sink a three pointer
that leaves a vacuum in its wake –
the chain nets echo its refrain.


bonus card!

bonus card!

If deer could speak

yes, we are eating, well, grazing –
it’s Autumn, so we search underneath
fallen leaves for moss and mushrooms –

and you, are you an artist
or a hunter? Humans come in two
types, you know – observers and

destroyers of life in its natural state.
We have watched you come and go,
artists, photographers, painters, poets –

and hunters, for sport and for sustenance,
killers of deer, killers, murderers
of your own kind, your own selves –

yes, we’ve seen humans, in the woods,
kill their own selves. Deer would
never do such a heinous thing –

we are different. But on this Autumn
day, today, we graze for food.
Isn’t it time for your lunch?

September 2, 2013



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.