Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Times

a memo to joe pa, and me:
never trust the good times.

where should we keep this memo, Joe?
frame it and hang it on the wall?
no, this isn't something we earned, this is something we ought to have known

there are no exceptions to this rule, and it strikes the rich and the poor
the learned and unlearned
the righteous and sinner

one day you're promoted and that clicking noise in the car is just a loose wire
the next, your sister is killed by a drunk driver and the IRS wants to chat
the best day of your life is followed by a new pain in the morning
and chemo in three months
while in between, your eyes glaze over like a cat out of lives

this is not to say we shouldn't find joy where moments grant them
or skip the birthday party for uncle ned
this is to say we should all the more

but cast a wary glance over the shoulder, every now and again.
squint and peer down that dark alley
study your lovers eyes, take note of the pauses

relish that 25 cent ice cream cone, and get the sprinkles
read the box score on monday and pocket the bet
grab that snooze in the beat up recliner

but keep the black shoes polished and handy
stash some coin in a secret spot
get the long term disability insurance, just in case
and hug your kids every chance you get

cuz damn! ain't the good times good!
the beer cold, the steak tender
the cherries in a row
and that kiss like sugar on the melon

but don't trust it joe
no! no! no!
don't bank it as gold
cuz sure as that sun will come around again
know a storm brews somewhere
your storm joe
my storm joe
and destruction is indiscreet

a hearty cheer then from the ale bench
a raise of the glass and a hey ho!
as we drink to the rising sun
for this is right to do
but with an eye to the door
and a hand on the scabbard
just in case our chips run out
and the tax man cometh

(joe pa is joe paterno. the winningest coach in american college football. He has been regarded as nearly a God to many for decades. then, within a two week period, he was disgraced, fired, mocked and found out he has cancer. That's how fast and furious it can hit.)

Monday, November 21, 2011


I love the mountains
but it is the land of hills, and
crookedy ridges, that i now dwell in
all chop! Chop! Chop!

mountains are the gateway
to the stars becoming attainable,
a proper sledding hill
for the midnight moon
to play upon

you can ponder big in the mountains
becoming small while your vision expands.
it is here, the elk, majestic and lean
snort the frozen air, giving it new life

in the hills called mountains
a bear will steal your lunch
but in the grandfather mountains
the bear will make you its supper

men here will die, must and have died
will die-good men full of jerky
blood and muscle

in the eastern hills
men full of Brussels sprouts
and bottled water
will get ticks and catch cold

i speak not against these eastern hills
but i mock their claim to be mountains
Superior can never be an ocean
and makes no such boast
it is enough to be the grandest lake

if the Rockies could grow legs
they'd put on their scuffed
torn, unlaced work boots,
step over the Mississippi
and kick the appalachians ass
just to teach them
what a true mountain really is

(i make no apologies for this post)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Loving Karen

i never slept with Karen
and i guess it's because i've never met one
but i think I'd like to
-except Karen Carpenter
mostly cuz she's dead and wore bad clothes

Karen, I think, or perhaps
merely speculate
is cute, longish hair
strong in build, yet compact

she can play the piano, but never does
smiles, but not all the way
and she speaks
as if she cares that you're listening

she might be a librarian,
and a damn fine one!
but she's versatile
so she might also be a check out clerk
or a waitress at Denny's
you never know with Karen

she's the one at the bar, with friends
but always a beat behind the joke
-except Karen Carpenter
who was always a beat too fast

she's diplomatic in controversy
and always kind to her mother
and secrets! oh, God can she keep them!
but never tells any

when she strips herself bare at night
she always pulls the blinds first
but yet and still, when the room settles
in silent darkness
she touches herself just like Carol

and when she kisses, and oh yes, she does
she kisses first with her eyes
having known the magic of her blinds

cuz that's how Karen is,
a flame in a bottle
that never dances for the wind
for then the wind is master

you can see why i love her,
can't you, this Karen?
and i think i'd like to lie with her
but first, I suppose,
I'd have to meet her

Friday, November 11, 2011


I've heard tell that the great whales travel thousands of miles and that even their calls might be heard
a continent away by friends.
And the Great Whites swim the edge of continents like a deep water autobahn, the direction depending on the purpose, the purpose depending on the need.
I watch as the Canadian honkers get serious, and rank is respected. And today I read of the monarch butterfly.
Just now they are heading for trouble in Texas as the earth is scorched there and like Custer, they
should've sent adept scouts, or so the mind would say. But on a wing and tiny prayer they are a thousand feet up and clocking twenty-five miles a day.
They will go to Mexico, and I'm bettin they'll make it again. Those same few acres their Grandparents knew last year and their Grand kids will know next year, but this group has never known.
No matter, they'll ignore the science of man that digs deep in the universe but can't explain how a
butterfly gets to Mexico.
I think of migration, today. The need to pull up stakes and toggle your needs to fit the season and make
all the pieces fit for only that season.
Man was like this once, or so i like to believe. But we've become anchors tangled in our own roots and our ship flounders beneath our empty sails.
The seasons come and go while our beards turn white and complacent. We shingle the roof, chop the wood, decorate the tree, and sparkle our windows in spring-when the geese once more salute our roots from on high.
I guess this is evolution just before the finish.
If only our heart would burn again, stoking a fire to fill our sails, but we teach those that follow that forty acres and comfy lazy boy is the end of the game, and victory at that. And like fools, they believe us.
I think, perhaps, if the heart were permitted to take the reigns once more it might be different.
We might say this is not enough. I have a hunger that pains for the banquet and a need it's never known.
I shall leave this field of lush purple flower and forsake the easy milkweed where i might die fat and dare the scorched vastness that may lie in my way.
But I fear the heart has been silenced by the few who made us their slaves, though it's we who snap the locks.
And migration becomes folklore. A jig for the few we call insane and callous.
We, who once were the wind, and the leaf upon it, have become less than the tree and only the mushroom who camps upon its roots.
We've decided to tame the heart to make better sense of the mind.
We should've known better.
It is the heart that is life and knows best what life is.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lay Me Down

once i floated over this life
as the wispiest of clouds
on a morning drenched lake

fishermen glanced
but paid no mention
save the prayer of gratitude
to the god of summer leisure

i was that soft april rain
that barely shook the petal
the softest feather floating
through the trees only to become
the gosling's pillow

but hurt, that wretched volcano
came bellowing like a senator
and touched us all as a troubadour
singing for his pension

and this, his song, i've taken up
as cloak against the light
illuminating the bones of my soul

and i've become hard, harder
but not yet brittle as hardtack
more the day old needing
that extra dollop of butter

i'm now yet not now always
the thunderclap that chases men
to shelter, boats to port
women to preachers
and death edges forward

i've become that june downpour
that spoils the roses, flattens the lilies
like talons clutching the last feather

perhaps this the purpose of time
to wind the watch backward
remember the gentler day
and lay down in its soft valley

and yes, lay me down
lay me down where light yet flourished
and feed me too a friend
without the coy of butter