August 16th, 2015

Untitled 2014F

Don’t hold me up where they can see me
They will take me away
And hide me from my own

Hold me up above the chop and froth
I can swim but not against this
If only I choose to walk on
Hold me up above the tramplers
~~ who mean me no harm
But who fear or excite
~~ fight or flight
~~ Orwellian plight

Hold me up against your heart
So I am safe
Against your innermost part

Hold me up above the tramplers
~~ even if you have to nail me there

Don’t hold me up where they can see me
They will take me away
And hide me from my own
Instead you hide me despite the miracles I do
For I am not done with my work here

My work will never be done
And while all the eyes are upon me
Hold me up above the tramplers
~~ even if you have to nail me there.

December 25, 2014

Untitled 2014E or Status Check on the Thin Blue Line

If the sunlight is the bad thing
Then a poor thing to hold up between us
           ~~ and that deadly shine
            ~~ would be heroes with holes in them.

Just putting a uniform on that man
            ~~ doesn’t remove the fact that it was just a man.
We’re forgetting that
           ~~ with all the flaw-filled facts that it implies.

Is that uniform dark enough
           ~~ or thick enough to cover all those holes?

Remember to treat it as if all those shafts and beams of light
           ~~ will burn and cut and kill.
And realize the desperation there is
           ~~ to contain that sunlight.
Desperation to enforce, desperation to crack down,
            ~~ desperation to stand to your ground.
Desperation is the enemy of reasoning.
So this kind of enforcement happens without reasoning.

Let’s never again speak about the generator of fear
Exactly why do we need this shield
           ~~ porous as it may be?
Who does crime serve?
What crimes are really crimes
           ~~ and who really determines that?
What kind of hero steps forward to shield me
           ~~ on the generator’s behalf?
Now show me the hero that shields me from the generator,
           ~~ but first let me inspect them for holes.

Now, do you see what we’ve forgotten to talk about?
What have you forgotten to question here?
What kind of heroes do we need in a world where…
What sort of world are we in where…
How did you not question me on…
Why did you let me get away with saying …
            ~~ that sunlight is a bad thing?

December 14, 2014

Untitled 2014C or Line After Line About That Energy

It’s all been about moving on
Moving these armloads of feelings and emotions
Feelings that are hard to deal with
Hard because of how big they loom in the mirror, in the dark
Looming Like a sheeted phantom in the hall
It is a phantom of the time spent in love
But time after leaving the abuse hasn’t healed the wounds
So I have turned to poetry to turn on the healing
Then one day I can turn back to the feeling
So I turn to look at my fellow poets, fellow feelers
And I try to decode these poets as self-healers
I see how Jack has decked the halls with healers’ arts
He and Judith deck the chairs with other healing souls
There I met Pat who shares the chair with his guitar
From them I learned to share on the page
And a little encouragement got my page to the stage
Leaders of the stages kept encouragement coming
And at the Venue they honed my stage presence
And I met other leaders whose presence did help
Helped me develop vision and clarity and this outlet
This outlet to let out because I can see some of them let out
Like Mike who lets out the distance
Like Talya who lets out the rage
Like Ann who long ago let out the frustration
Like Ann’s frustration at Barbie dolls
And instead of nailing the dolls’ heads to the walls
She comes and lets out the energy in our heads, in these halls
And while it settles on us, on our shoulders too
It reminds me that to settle my heart has something to do
I have to commit to that something on paper and let it out again on all of you.

November 6, 2014

Untitled 2014D or All Gambles

Sleep little silkworms
Sleep this night away
You light in some momma moth’s eye.

How do you love someone
that doesn’t want to love you?

Lay your money down
to chase what you like.
Can anything you adorn with mannon like so
retain its good?  Its pure?

Tomorrow you will weave delicate drapes
for yourselves, for your kind
Let dreams of becoming momma moths
Fill your slumbering minds

How do you love someone
whom you don’t want to love?

Lay your body down
to chase what you think you need.
Can anything you soak with so much silky flesh
Retain its love?  Its fidelity?

Sleep little silkworms
sleep this night away.
You do your thing
and I’ll do mine
plunging your kind into the boiling water
tray after tray.

Lay your honey down
to draw that one you feed.
Can anyone you bleed
remain as good to you?

Sleep ever on little silkworms.
I toss your vessels away.
I unravel your drapes to fashion my
to shield me from the eye of the day.

December 10, 2014

Untitled 2014B or It Just Keeps Coming

I want to write prettier poems
I strive for whimsical
I seek a happy miracle

But when the inky ball rolls
And leaves a black line behind
I think of how I’ve killed a million pens
And failed to save any friends
No one listened when I submitted
And heartfelt pleas

So I kept writing

And as you can imagine

I turned the paper black

This is where the dark comes
This is where the dark comes
This is where the dark comes

And engulfs my pages

But onward I try
Sometimes bleat
But never accept real defeat
And so that is why
I think you should try
With a wide open eye
To see the hope and heart that is within

I am sorry I write the poems that bring you down
Make you sad in your little frown
Low, low, low
No, I am not
Because I see how you treat people all around
This gritty fuck-up town

Bring it around
Bring it around

Want to see me let you up?
Let you breathe?
Then here are some things I’m gonna need
To see
From you

That’s right how you treat people
Treat them and their rights
Their thoughts and hearts and rights

And I’ll keep whispering and shouting
And bringing it around
Even if it brings the whole room down
Because I’m there… in your chair
Fixing that poet with a long , long stare
And in a crowd I’ll give you a bump
A soul-felt shove until you feel a lump
In your throat

What goes around comes around
Comes around like science … it makes sense
Con-science … that’s conscience
So bring it around
Now that’s me with my foot on your chest
Dammit James, give it a rest
Until I see you giving it your best
Then I’ll give it a rest

Or use me, know I’m on your side
That’s you, the abused – no longer hide
And point me at the foot on your neck
The knife in your back
Let my idea of treatment be the strength that you lack

July 17, 2014

Uh, the First Amendment

Let’s start with these Occupy Wherever protesters
What gives them the right!?
Why do they get to stand around
Begging for someone to –fill-their-open-hands?
No, they beg for someone upstairs to listen
Just listen while they discuss how,
like an acquaintance seen through the subway window,
their freedoms pass them by, leaving them
with a sense of “hey, dude look at me, recognize.”
They have as much right as you have
to quietly sit there and cower in your homes
and ignore same rights being jerked out
from under your comfy chair.
They aren’t happy to just be the wine glasses or candelabras
or even be like your damn Lazy-boy
when some slick magician yanks that table cloth
with the Bill-of-Rights on it.
And if that table cloth is their safety net?
And if your rug-clad floors are your safety-net?
Where will you land when it’s gone?
Maybe these Occupy Wherever protesters are your safety net?

Salute the soldiers that travel across the world
to defend freedoms from non-threats and semi-threats?
Well then salute the soldiers that stand in the squares
in five hundred-odd cities
to block the bullets of wall street
from piercing the tender hide of your freedoms
in the streets of your home town.
Don’t think your ranch-style safety net can get pulled?
Heard of the foreclosure crisis?
It’s not over, just on hold until noone’s looking.
Just ask the ninety-four houses on Newport News’ East End
If eminent domain just asked them to move
a little to the left so we can complete I-664.
So that’s right, the police are watering down, with pepper-spray,
their right to stand in the square and protest
in defense of your right to sit on the right
to own that home – the one you sit in
to symbolically demonstrate your right
to shut your mouth and take it.
Well when that does get dragged out from under you
there’s someone who’ll gladly stand beside you
on the street-side – and help you get heard.
Well, if you haven’t let them get tear-gassed out.

My grandmother’s fuming at the protesters on TV,
And fuming further that their voices match with me.

I still hear my brother crying, “I can’t breathe.”
Now I’m in this struggle saying “I can’t leave.”
Calling out the violence of these racist police
We can’t stop until the people are free

Today we filled another street with simulated dead bodies.
It’s like the Mississippi after a really good Mardi Gras,
bank to bank.
The only gaps are for the coffin mock-ups
each with a real name
that never got up from the street on it’s own

Keep it up so that your voice is not diminished
to a mere phantom
that barely haunts the houses of politics and finance
Keep it up all day until it’s expected.
Keep it up all year until it’s the norm.
Keep it up until you get in trouble for missing your shift.
In Australia you can get fined for not voting
– but we’re beyond that.
Some of y’all need to get into trouble for not being at the protest.
Like maybe there will be a day
a good cop stops you on the street
and gives you the business for missing your time
to lay dead in the street.
“Hey, Tony, where were you at 4:30 pm?”
Well at least he knew your name in that imaginary world.


Swept Along

Imagine me writing a poem about my personal demons.

OK, you have?
Then make it a song

And imagine it’s addressed to my personal demons
Still too close? Still seen that coming?
Then let’s picture me singing,

Actually singing that song
Can you see it?
Can you really really bear it?

Let it wash over you

Wait, what’s that?
What have I done?
We knew there was a chance
That a song to demons would summon demons
What have I done to you?

Stop the music!
Cannot stop!
The transformation is too far along.
You’ve heard too much of the song;

Now you’re my personal demons
Living the worst dream to come,

A dream with a song flowing throughout.

July 14, 2014

Rejoining the Conversation

A new poem – fresh for today,
But after this day’s discussion
I’d have the same old thing to say.

That’s funny, at a workshop on repetition
I’d have the same old thing to say

So should I open up the door
            to let some steam out?
In a room full of friends
            who aren’t used to hearing me rant and shout
One would tap me on the shoulder,
             and calm me with “Hey.”
Because I just have the same old thing to say.

Since by any other name it’s a rose,
Or if it’s plain on your face, like a nose.
It’s the same old ace whether it is kept close to your vest,
            but be careful getting it close to your sleeves in the wild West.
And when caught opinionating for too long
So long that others want to rock out with the F-bomb
I will still want to try to put it in my own way
Yet I still just have the same old thing to say.

My grandmother’s fuming at the protesters on TV,
And fuming further that their voices match with me

I’ve written stories about that man who’s always so right,
And one about how his woman’s opinion shows up that night.
I’ve gone on and on about conspiracies,
And even a little bit about birds and bees.
Then I realized how much I was trying to export my mind
            upon other poets, some of whom are just marking time
And then I got that it was a back and forth game we all play.
When really I just have the same old thing to say.

December 14, 2014

Like a Love Poem, But Angry

Stop Using “hungering” in your poems
It reminds my fingertips of their hunger to play with your hair.

I’ve been in love
and I’ve walked around with armloads of lust
and I’ve been caught between wanting my
            my glances to be caught
and wanting someone to remain oblivious,
            so she can be spared the discomfort of my attention.

Three would promise to marry me, whom never did.
Three would promise to never leave,
            who should have mercifully left right then.
There was the one who promised we’d go nude sunbathing
            in the middle of Richmond,
            and she’d fix my TV.
She did keep the promise to break my heart.

Two have promised to take me away to Australia.
Two have promised me they’d save me
            from some evil predecessor.
One of those promised that I would cheat with her.
The other became the next evil predecessor,
            open ended, to this day…

I’d rather you tell me you love me
            and only kind of mean it,
            or not mean it at that moment,
            or not really mean it at all,
than to make me a promise that you even possibly won’t keep.

Instead of wrapping me around your finger
            wrap something of yours around mine

I stopped crooning about such things as promises.
Marrying me will not make you immortal.
            and promises have side tracked this love poem.

We usually hang our hopes
            upon the hook of the crescent moon.
I’m going to hang my hopes
            on the eyes across the room.

I have yet to write the poem
            about the returned box of marital toys.

If I had a sex toy for every time
I gave of my body to a woman
who didn’t understand me
who wouldn’t even begin to try to understand me
who couldn’t even learn the language that I am written in
            then we could take them and ride up the highway
            and take over the Richmond poetry scene.

“Give me your heart.” she said in four phases;
            first playful and sexy
            second wanting to hold it lovingly
            third wanting to shelter, to heal
            fourth demanding and angry.
Everything that kills me makes me wish that I was stronger.

Like the pretty little one at poetry
            on vacation from her husband
she, in deep conversation and investing
            then stops abruptly
because the next thing she was going to say
            was that talking to me makes something inside swell.
I don’t get to know either point,
            I just live in lonely hell.

I’m afraid to write the poem to that woman
            that all the women I fall in love with turn into
So I’m going to write a sappy silly little love poem
            then I’ll write the opposite of every
to the point of micromanaged irony

How do you love someone who doesn’t want to love you?
How do you love someone whom you don’t want to love?

How can a poet switch to such an angry tone
            during his love poem?
How can such a dichotomy be
            in the same head at the same time?
Won’t such a split ‘twain such strong feelings
            Eventually turn to something
            We all feel across the room?
Could it be something so palpable that the feeler’s head splits
-- literally, like the figurative gut spillings
that we’ve seen so far.

We usually hang our hopes
            upon the hook of the crescent moon.
I’m going to hang my hopes
            on the eyes across the room.

Knock on the door in front of my hollowed-out tree.
See if there’s room for you
            to stash what you need to survive your next winter

Not another poem
with stupid birds and daisies
until someone walk up with enough heart to
fucking save me

Not another poem with stupid birds and daisies
until someone walk up with enough heart to
            show me a kiss.

If you see me in the back writing all these angry love poems,
so much that I can’t look up and
I can only snap for my fellow poets
because I’m afraid that in the clapping
I will stab a pen through my other hand
            -- or, worse that I’ll lose my place –
If you see that and you want to abort that angry love poem
            take my hand,
            touch my hair,
            kiss my lip,
            hold my face with both palms.

December 15, 2014

In the Journal

That’s right, this is news
This is the news that gets more play than the big game,
It outshines the church bulletins,
Worth more nitty-gritty than the charity rummage sale,
And to hell with the Middle East.

There is a town where the longest articles in the small-town paper are written by wide-eyed forest-lovers. They write on and on, a page or more about dew and moss and dapples of morning sun. And on the verge of meeting God in a wide-eyed, white dappled brown coat, laying nearly prone like the supplicant they –


Stomp it out.
Chase away the other forest friends
So they shan’t see her bleed out
Can’t catch sight of the gutting
Though they’ll all know, come back to sniff, the part of her left there.

Know what else would be news?
If I walked down Main Street
In blood to my elbows
But I wonder which article would be longer.

2011 - 2014

Great Sandy Expanse

Went to the oceanfront to find it felt dead,
On the day after the visitors all fled
In the bar tonight I surmise that here there’s no poetry
Well at least none that I can see

Snuck through to the surf past the Holiday Inn fortress
Passed a call girl; pretty in a short dress
She gets use double doors to the top floors,
I have to slink out through the back door.
I strolled along the beach looking for some feelings I can’t find
They weren’t even trying to come to my mind,
Well not today they don’t

Back on the strip I walk by groups, they have plans
I thought to reach over and take a lithe, feminine hand
But these are just the thoughts of the lonely
Well really I just watch them go

So I perch myself on some stool in some oceanfront bar
Not sure how I drifted this far.
An hour in the call girl sits two empty seats away
Wonder if it’s OK to have something to say,
Well I don’t think I can anyway

So another hour whiles and peters out
And I decide to leave the doubt
My meter will expire soon
So I will let the night expire in my room,
Well at least until tomorrow

Could I find peace at the end of the land?
Could I reach out and take a pretty hand?
Could I make a socially brave stand?
Am I just a shadow on the strand?

September 3, 2014

Bringing it Around is Bringing Us Down/The River

There is a river that flows
It flows through the life of each
For those at the end it’s a trickle
But flow widens, end ends up depositing a beach

And this river has flowed for some time
But not as long as you’d think
Twenty-nine hundred years ago in Phoenicia
Man first hungered for this metal drink

But in this group, in this land
Bringing it around is bringing us down
And ugly green bike moved from auction to auction
Until it sits in a shop here in downtown

So go our choices, so go our lives
So goes the tip of this mount of ice
At the bottom of this economy you move about in remnants
Forget the variety, forget about spice

We’re just a part of the crap redistribution plan
Put some cheap plastic in a trailer in San Diego
Tractor trailers play leap frog all day and all night
Move around until they occupy a parking lot in Ohio

Then somehow this ice jam at the mouth
Sends the headwater and overflow of wealth
But instead of sand bags that keep the river within its banks
Their levees keep waters close, keep up a sense of health

Our great crap redistribution plan
Is gladly brought to you by “Da Man”
Bringing it around is bringing us down
Take one down, pass it around
We can rest assured with the knowledge
That he learned this rule in college
That when the party has over One-Oh-One
That there will be no beer left over for some
Get used to hearing that, too…
“There’s just nothing here for you”
Unless you count emotions and situations
Which occupy all your motivations
And taken down and passed around
With interest on annual compound
Until the child is slammed
With the sins of the parent, be damned!

But the river flows no matter who owes who
Long ago it’s mechanics were put into motion
And those who more-than-drank from the middle
Are assured their fill despite any commotion

So the money flows in straight lines
And the water’s high behind each dam
But bringing the spares around is knocking us down
And really leaves the world without a plan.