The Poetic Debt Collector

There were sunrises in which he felt the divine
And without knowing it crashed into the sublime.
On those days and in his own way
He would have forgiven all of them their debt,
Handed back the lease to their land
And driven back to the office emptyhanded,
Giving notice by the smile on his face
That beyond money he had touched grace.

Baptism by Motor Oil

I was anointed with motor oil in 1959
The baptism was in a Detroit factory
With a foreman and a priest
And some people from the same factory
They poured motor oil on my forehead
Saying something about man god and war
To this day I grin when I hear an engine
To this day my gears are oiled and aligned
But who knows after so many miles
If those drops of motor oil
Which sanctified my ride through life
Cleansed me of original sin
Or stained me all the more for being human

Sudden Death

Sudden death walks through a wall
And like a flash, it illuminates eternity.
It’s on the other end
Of every phone call we receive.
When we first hear its voice
The shock leaves us speechless.
I’ve also known it
To knock wildly on any door,
Crying out for help
In solving a riddle already solved.
Don’t hate sudden death,
It divulges the mercy of a temporal god
Who spares us from prolonged suffering.
Without sudden death
Who’d know humility from hubris?
Because it exists
It is our only hope for a sane future.

Adirondack Chairs

They remind me of cottage country
Of Andrew Wyeth the group of seven
Of the Allman Brothers and barbecues
Of being sun high and sleeping late
They are sovereigns of the garden
They are old lovers and friends
When Adirondacks face water
They’re engulfed by the scene
But can catch a sail and even dream
Relaxed by nature they invite
Contemplation to be at ease
On a beach they sink into sand
And seem to settle all demands
They can grow old together
And keep company in any weather
Sometimes you’ll see a solitary chair
Where the moon comes to rest
On the dock of its own tears

Photo by Brigitte Ala


Thankful for autumnal insights,
They open nature’s windows and doors
And like leaves, invite themselves in,
And even blow across our floors.

Thankful even for the fruit that falls
And for the absence in the distance.
I know springtime by its perfect recall
And fear no evil now or in nonexistence.

Photo by Brigitte Ala

The Cyrillic Wars

False friends fight to the alphabet’s end
Brothers muffled on roadsides
Soon to be cognate in ice
Parsed by the grammar of days
Fate covers them in common ash
They’re familial only as information
They listen for the drones and moan
They’re muted by a shared gun
And then washed away by time
They’ve broken the bread of flesh
Into language and starve
Laying waste to the present tense
A battlefield of Cyrillic characters
Mangled like twisted smoldering alloys
Wars begun in shared languages
End in babel and begin again

In Memory of a Friend

RIP to my old friend,
Too many stories to attend,
Late night discussions,
Love life repercussions,
Readings and road trips
And memorable quips,
Surviving a fire bombing,
Living for poeticizing,
Other wild and surreal times,
A few misdemeanor crimes,
Hilarity and sadness,
A touch of divine madness
That defies death,
Friendship its frozen breath.

Two More Athletes

Jan Železný

The world needs Jan Železný,
His javelin to travel far,
Launching us beyond belief,
Exhausting the possible limits.
We need his Olympic records
To remind us that, if not greater
Than our ancestors, we can be
Superior to our own average.

Toni Turek

A football God, Toni Turek.
He caught the winds of fate,
Pushed ball lightening over his bar
And smothered fires on his line.
The miracle of the miracle at Bern
Was that a human being
Intercepted information,
Replacing an instant for an instant,
Editing headlines and history,
And like a time traveler
Waking far from where he slept.