Tag Archives: life


We make rules

to keep ourselves in line,

orderly before

whatever captain

steers our ship between

calm and storm.


Out here

unpredictable weather

calls the tune

we must dance to—

navigate this landscape

come hell or highwater.


The rules change

before our eyes—

nothing stays the same

no matter what—

but we were never taught

to quit the game.




Hard to be a good guy, find
a melody for wannabe lullabies
overwhelmed by hard-rock thoughts

to make things right
or left, red or blue dominions
as if ordained by God

laughing up his sleeve
at the idiocy of humans
fashioned in his image.

We are merely ants in the anthill,
sub-atomic specks of insignificance
trying to get along—or not.





Casualty of drought and time,
no shaded bed in the tangle of dead limbs,
no burnished fruit to harvest—
but its temporary grace in death
teeters beneath the heavens.

What histories yet reside,
what sights saved within its centuries of rings,
of native talk recorded lest
forgotten of wilder beasts and men
teetering beneath the heavens?

I see myself reflected
kindly, a lifetime rooted in the same place
that I’m thankfully becoming
in a harvest of verses penned
that teeters beneath the heavens.






Everyone is old or fat
like feed bunk cattle
sorted to a pen to wait
for the magic of machines
to screen the heart—
the pump and pipelines
to mind and flesh.

In the 60s I was sure
I’d never see thirty,
made no plans past the Draft
on the other side of tomorrow.

The army trained her
for Desert Storm
right out of high school.
She shaves my chest,
connects the wires.

                    Knees squeak,
                    feet clop,
                    fast at first,
                    slow to find
                    a longer stride
                    on the treadmill.

From the sidelines,
a new team on the field
to keep the machinery
running a little longer,
another election to survive
like all the rest.

I drive home lightheaded,
endorphins mixed
with a muggy sky,
chance of thunderstorms
and fire, now that we have grass—
wild oats over my head.

No straight line,
the road to here
ricocheted with heart,
a flush of passion
left at every curve
I cannot measure,
barely remember
as reducing stress.





On the weather map
watching the storm slide
slowly down the Sierras,

a green right arm wraps
around San Jose,

headed toward this warm
midsection, and I wonder:
with an upper cut of cold?

—wet inch down already,
as if the gods are on a mission
to treat us squarely—

as if there is a plan
to anything,
or just random rolls

we learn to adjust to
moment after moment
never seen before!






No sense.

Sometimes most clearly
through the eyes
of the bewildered

we see ourselves
spawned upon this earth
not as peacemakers

nor avenging angels,
but fallible and human
driven to plod on.

How do we find our grace
like salmon,
like rattlesnakes

born elsewhere?
How do we know the way
it makes us,

shapes us
into words,
into song?

                              for Merilee




The clichés rained
when I was young
like hollow outlines

I was destined to fill
with real details—
sayings tested with

practice dodging
bullets with agility
and dumb luck

to get old enough
to speak at funerals
of a few good friends

who rode with me,
or saw it all
from a distance:

no straight track
ricocheting minefields
heavily invested

in the senses. But
no longer hackneyed
hints for youth,

they become fresh,
reborn with answers
at our fingertips.





I had forgotten small minds
of old men whining,
the Sisyphus among us

whittling clever epithets,
quivers-full of poisoned-tipped
displeasures flung

at the centers of open hearts
in full bloom
I had not yet seen.

                                     for Curtis