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The trail leads gently up
and through the stand of trees
The day is chilled by autumnal winds
just in from the coast

I contemplate the desperation of the falling leaves
as they wander about in the bracing air
Carried by the breeze to where they will lie
And I wonder: “Are they bitter?”

Or do they accept their fate
as the annual benediction
of having served their purpose

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Reading our books in bed in the early evening
You, a favorite murder mystery
I think you’ve read three or four times
Me, another damn poetry book

Together, we hear a forlorn cry
from one of our sleeping dogs. It was high pitched
So, it must have been from our little guy

We check them both to be sure they are okay
And they are. He probably had a bad dream
You wonder why our little brow...

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Paper Heart

I write on it every day
It has been crinkled and torn
It’s the only thing I know
I can remake from ashes

Some notes in pencil are faded
Many, seemingly in ink and paint,
are more permanent
I imagine the words etched therein,
as vivid hues of echoes and memories

I continue to keep my journals there
every waking moment
filling up the remaining blank pages
in worn and patchwork volume...

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Ralph and Alice

I really loved that show

It probably wouldn’t fly today

But he really loved her, you could tell,

between all the laughs

She knew who she married,

and never once set foot on the moon,

despite the opportunities offered

His constant, his foil

they still live happily ever after

in old black and white New York

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Love isn't a burden

until it is gone

A failure of stone

I thought was forever

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I’m tired of my regrets

rattling their chains around mockingly

People who never said goodbye

and things I could have done better


Like gaudy pieces of costume jewelry

the laments hang around my neck

baubles with no value I can see


The fake diamonds sparkle too

Drawing my attention away

as they seek to cause a distraction

from an elusive calmness



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Owl Said

Owl asked "Where are you headed to young traveler?"

"To tomorrow and all that awaits me there."

Owl's eyes blinked in the slow-motion way that they will

and said "Don't hurry past the beauty among the ordinary here today,

where all you have to do is see it."

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She had so many broken pieces

after all these years

leaving a disquiet of scars

Some of the shards piercing her still


When I gave her flowers

she had no chance of seeing

the field of regard and tenderness

from which they came

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Letter To St. Nick

Dear Santa,

I don't know if you make stops in the afterlife,
but if you do, please
give our love to our mother

We all know you're magical
Chimneys, flying reindeer
and all of that
so anything is possible

You don't have to wrap it
or put a bow on it
or anything like that
She already knows what it is

Steven, Michael, Jeffery, & David Too

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I haven’t thought much about her ashes
since she’s been gone. Grief, as I’ve known it,
never needed a physical place to take up residence

But I’m worried about the ashes now
as we try and make our peace
with dispersing the dust of what is left behind

How will I know which ashes were there on my first day of school?
Which ones listened to me when I needed to share my troubles?
Maybe I’l...

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She could not see the flowers

as an act of kindness,

as a thank you for sharing

some of her time with me


The expensive bouquet

was still there on the counter

Monday morning when she left


The roses, azaleas, and carnations,

even the inanimate vase,

seemed saddened and troubled

at having been seen as an apology

for a crime where no charges

had yet...

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Lovely Afternoon

She sits at the table

working on a puzzle

I rise from my chair

to pour us some wine


She suddenly asks me

if I might ever come up to her

and tell her I no longer want her


(this happened to a character

in a book she's been reading)


My brief pause causes her

more angst than she can

comfortably carry without

the help of my answer


I tell ...

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The Terns and the Herons,
near the cold blue water,
know who I am.

The man by the shore
looking for something

If I don't find it today
tomorrow will find me here again

The winged hunters
take flight once more
Our purpose the same,
to find what we need
down by the water

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Unit of Measure

I’ve heard the human soul

weighs 21 grams or so

Not so in my experience!


All those I miss the most

weigh much heavier on me


My mind sees their souls

as impossible to lift some days,

because of the burden of their absence


Heavy lifting - as if 21 grams

were as I imagine it might weigh

in the dark heart of a crushing black hole

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Amending the Edges

I don't know when the change came for me

It's not like a date you can mark on the calendar

With little still to prove to anyone,

the edges are worn now, smoother


The change, I think, came from living

and learning from all the mistakes and battles,

as well as a few skirmishes of the soul

I cherish all the ribbons awarded me,

secretly displayed on my heart


Now I ...

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As I open my eyes the morning scurries about

gaining purchase in all of my senses

from the blatant light spilling through the window,

and the chill clinging to the edges of the night before


And I’ve already been thinking a lot

about holes, the empirical shape of loss

and how they relate to grief


In the realm of my sorrow these shapes

aren’t ruled by the laws of...

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Candlestick, October 17th 1981

We arrived at five a.m.

thinking this was early enough

for great seats close to the stage - wrong!

The tents and campsites had been there for days


A tower of empty bottles over our heads, whisky, vodka, tequila,

and all the other varieties you could possibly imagine – no bottles allowed

Having delivered their liquid feelings of euphoria

they were piled high at the entr...

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Evening Walk


There were diamonds on the water

and she wanted them


But these were not here

to rest in her hands


They travel with the sun

and the insistent tide


Riches she could not hold

would have to be visited again

near the shore, on the morrow



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Morning Bones

In my sixth decade now, with a front row seat

to the beautiful and fearsome march of days

on their way to fewer of them


What else, other than time,

do we have so many grievances with

but are still so grateful for?


I see life’s passing markers damaging my body,

leaving consolation gifts of memories, good ones,

and lessons-learned ones where wisdom should come fro...

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Along the Levee

There is often a vague sadness
that emanates from the boats
in the ramshackle marina

The boats, aground at low tide,
bereft of their purpose,
wait for their meaning to return

Later, afloat once again,
they’ve made their peace
with the return of the water

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Good Morning

Wiping the sleep from your eyes
in your beautiful way,
breathtaking, really

It helps me see the extraordinary
hidden between the sameness
of ordinary days

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Curves and Paint and Rain

I can’t touch the curve of a rainbow,
or use its’ colors to paint
Who counts the drops in a downpour?

Don’t be silly!

But my heart is a stubborn thing sometimes,
and it thinks: “All you have to do is try.
The first thing you must do is reach.”

So, we painted stories without end
I felt the tender hues of your curves,
and I tossed aside my umbrella
as we began to count the rain

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Another Short Poem About You

I found comfort in fleeting things

because they were more predictable

than your peregine heart

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You, the fire, intent on burning it all
with the heat of a blue-white flame
aimed at my kindling heart

There is no comfort for me here
Where love was sought
I found wolves at the door

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Guests, of a Sort

I wake up to find

a few aches and pains

have followed me into the new day

a stiff joint, an odd discomfort,

from origins unknown


I try to connect the unwanted guests

with, perhaps, foolish exertions

from the day before

that may have caused them


Still, I am grateful

for the parts of my body,

entities really, as I have come to know them,

that give me no ...

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The Little Things

People ask me what love is

and I smile because I know

I see the answer in you every day


Your sadness for old shoes

left on a windowsill

waiting to be rescued from the rain


The scar above your eye you hate

when it speaks to you in the mirror

Always and relentlessly there,

sharing a home with the old ones in your heart

colored crimson and blue


It’s not...

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Cat Tale

I’ll put in a good word for you
when I visit Bastet,
who resides in her kingdom
along the winding Nile
I’ll tell her all about you

I’m happy to do this for you
because I am fond of your fondness for me
And the belly rubs too, of course!

When I return, I can lift your spirits
if they are in the black corners;
pull them back from the darkness

The Goddess sends her regards,
and than...

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Down at O'Leary's

They were playing that slow song

I remembered from years ago

She was dancing by herself

while the band kept playing


I wasn’t listening to my heart

trying to save me

from my talent for the wrong move

and wounds that haven’t healed


The way she looked at me though

seemed to suggest,

between the music and hardened hearts,

that we might find a way



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Dog Stars

I hate the sun

without you here

I wish the moon

could still see you too


I can forgive the stars,

if they’d let me see you there

Maybe tomorrow though

they may need some time


Canis Major perhaps;

you always loved animals

That’s where I’ll look for you

in the midnight sky


Better to do it then

so you won’t see my tears

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Feeding Time

Dante, our dog, is a challenge to feed

He is always certain

every meal will be his last


It’s a race against drool,

best avoided by the squeamish

The trick is to get the food down

before he realizes it's feeding time


One day it will be his last meal

and it will break my heart


I know I’ll miss those times

I've stepped in the puddles of anticipation


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The Wisdom of Cats

The phone rings late in the afternoon

She says she wants to see me tonight

I take another drink and contemplate the dance


Dark hair and a smile that cuts to the truth of the matter

Taking what she wants and leaving the rest

She turns over and draws the covers to her


And the damn cats look at me disapprovingly

I let them out to search for better company in the alley


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Failures of the heart

add a layer of toughness

making it difficult to find answers

in still hot ashes


Mercifully fading from my mind

love was once somewhere in there

in between the absent days

But I had to guess most of the time

And I was terrible at it


Yes, I’ll do it again

Always trusting I’ll eventually get it right

while tending my garden of hope

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Gimme Shelter

The Stones and the Ramones

Social Distortion, out of the LA Punk scene

even Miles and Coltrane

She doesn’t need them


Still, in that void, there is a rhythm

found in her eyes, and in her heart

I let the sound sweep over me

It makes its own music


I listen to it over and over

A melody so beautiful

it can make you feel sorry

for blueberry pie


Her musi...

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Notes on Forgiveness: May, 2019

Scott is dying in hospice

I think of him at this late time in his life

How he has found a way

to finally give something back, at least to me


His low place anchored

with misdeeds and transgressions

Still, he was loved by our mother


She was gone before him

In her absence, I looked after him

Food and other needed things


Anger made this an unwelcome burden ...

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We ride our bikes along the levy trail
tires spinning around at a leisurely pace
marking the distance with every revolution

The willow tree’s branches
hang low over the path
in the early afternoon haze

I reach up like a thief
to grab a handful of leaves
tossing them up in the air, mischievously

Behind me, riding through them
as they scatter and float in the wind
she reaches out gr...

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A short Poem About Vinyl

Sound, in motion on the platter
Around and around at thirty-three
and a third revolutions per minute
Through the needle to my ears
Warm and deep, with crackles and pops

The static and the clicks
coming from the dust is my favorite part
It makes the sound seem so delicate
like it could fall and shatter

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Letter to St. Nick

Dear Santa,

I don't know if you make stops in the afterlife,
but if you do, please
give our love to our mother

We all know you're magical
Chimneys, flying reindeer
and all of that
so anything is possible

You don't have to wrap it
or put a bow on it
or anything like that
She already knows what it is

Steven, Michael, Jeffery, & David Too

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Big Red Plastic Light-Up Santa

He stands across the room
A backlit twinkle in his eyes,
with a glow in his cheeks of polyethylene

Memories rushing forward
of dearest family and friends
Most are still here with me
but too many have departed

The specter of Christmas Past visits,
trying to haunt my thoughts
Despite the spirit’s best efforts
and winter so grey and unrelenting
I am not saddened by their absence


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I couldn’t think of much else;
why she left, what I did wrong


It was only obvious some years later,
after more experience with wars of the heart,
it had everything to do with being eighteen

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Old '64

You still didn’t have your license

- at eighteen! - I thought it was kind of funny

since I was driving at fifteen or so


We practiced in my five-hundred-dollar car

with your slightly bruised ego for company

The radio playing music we liked

keeping demons barely at bay


But I could really only think about

your peculiar smile competing with the sun

wrapped in a flo...

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Two-Stroke Counsel

After checking the oil for the chain
and a quick pull on the starter rope
my father’s chainsaw cuts through the branches
Stainless steel teeth offer no quarter

The quickly turning blade suggests danger in unsure hands
regardless, his grip is firm and confident
Swift and experienced strokes 
make short work of the green and sap-filled wood

Fine powder sawdust drifts across my arms
We s...

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The guy on the radio said

he’d like to go out the way his cat did
nineteen years old, and never had bad hips, 
or the other usual problems 

The guy on the radio just came home one day 
and found his cat had left him,

right there on the porch 
in his favorite place to lie, as peaceful as could be

That’s the way I’d like to go
a good life lived, for the most part
let it go with som...

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Squirrel and Crow

I see you are hoarding nuts,

and silly fruits from the trees”, said Crow


“I see you are eating what looks like carrion, or maybe worse.

I saw something lying in the next street over, it looked distasteful

but maybe it’s to your liking too”, said Squirrel


“Come to think of it, I saw a few persimmons still on the tree next door.

Looks like the lady missed them while picki...

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In The Night

Sleeping next to me
her body rarely moves
echoing the stillness

and the dark quiet of the night


I pull her gently closer to me
trying desperately to feel her calm


The beasts of the night are held back
by steel reins of contentment

now welcome, sleep finds me again

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Bad Poetry Blues


I've read so much bad poetry

Plenty of it my own,  

and I’m guilty of most of this


Stop using ten-dollar words

to impress me with your vocabulary


Rhyming is fine

in limited doses

Using it too many times

makes me prefer trichinosis


I want to find you, to see who you are

and feel your tales, your thoughts,

and see your images in words


Our ...

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The Mayor of Occidental

“It’s just a damn chicken,” we said

A rooster to be more specific

But she was fascinated by its’ coloring

as it scratched and strutted

in the autumn ground cover

as chickens will invariably do


She took the photo anyway

and told us the story of this honorable bird

“He’s the mayor of Occidental.

They vote for him every year.”

Overqualified, as the locals like to sa...

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cassie and josh

Sometimes love is

being okay with her waking you up


At 2:00 am


to talk about your pets

The ones that have passed

and where they used to sleep at night

because she couldn't remember

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