Floating like a Butterfly, Stinging like a Bee

Posted on June 5, 2016 in Silicon Valley

Back in 1992, I visited Serbia and had an audience with the local leader of the Serbian Nationalist Party. I brought up the subject of conscientious objectors. The chief smirked and said in a knife twist of ad hominem tu quoque “I am a great admirer of Muhammad Ali.” I think he expected me to go all Sonny Liston on him, but I looked him in the eye with the steel gaze of The Greatest and said “So do i. And wherever my brothers in conscience shall be, I am there in spirit with them. I am with them here in Serbia and everywhere. ” it was a knockout punch. The party apparachnik changed the subject in a hurry. He was Sonny Liston, not me. I know Ali would have smiled.

The Stingray’s Song

Posted on in Poems

Pain has no voice

anymore than a stingray
swimming silently inside my chest,
strangling my esophagus,
dragging its barb
along the outer muscles of my ribs
can sing.

Pain is my companion,
fading lesions the marks
of the language of its cause.

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Shingles

Posted on May 12, 2016 in Poems

Red sores
a belt stretching
from nipple to spine.
A road of pain, ooze, scabs, and scars.
Shingles.

I have little else on my mind than the pain.

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Who mourns for the Dodo?

Posted on April 29, 2016 in Poems

I am alone
beneath a low, gilded sky
festooned with angels,
pretenders to flight.
More humans in colorful, flat plumage
surround me, separated from me
by a curious hedge.

Who mourns for the Dodo?

I have escaped the fate of my kin
whose blood soaks the coffee-colored
soil of my birthplace. They say
my name means “stupid”
because my kind came when
famished brutes called,
monsters who shattered us for their larder.

Who mourns for the Dodo?

I am a seer.
Defined by an absence,
my animation vanishes.
The pastel nobles return to their follies,
the cherubs bless new curiosities.
My flesh, feathers and bones
are attached to an armature until weevils
devour the puffy remnants.

Who mourns for the Dodo?

No more is the gross ground dove
who looked to the gulls
soaring above his forest.
A head, some bones, and rude lithographs
define my earthly cenotaph.

Who mourns for the Dodo?

After centuries more,
they talk of resurrection.

Holy is the Dodo!

What will they do with my test tube scions?
Chefs debate what sauces
should drench the corpses.
What spices are suitable to rub
on the pimpled, defeathered skin?
What side dishes enhance the meal?
What wine goes best?

Tasty is the Dodo!

Eyes, glazing eyes, wend
past the glass tomb of my brown-boned brother,
so many clattering neck vertebrae
curving around the exhibits.
One with gray chin plumage stops, asks
“What gods secured your soul
when the bough broke your neck?”

I am beyond annihilation.

Nobody mourns the Dodo.

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Neurology

Posted on April 27, 2016 in Poems

In this strange, grim cave
buttressed by bone,
I am boatman
upon a phosphorescent lake.

An invisibility of touch
overlays the imaginative vision
where a thousand songs
cannot describe
the ridges and convolutions of
that wet, pink flesh.

All that is me
is centered on this parasite
suckling from the teats of a hollow bone.

I am not sure about this one. Another rewrite might be in order, but it does have some powerful images. Thoughts?

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Anthracite Hour

Posted on April 20, 2016 in Poems

In that anthracite hour
when Tuesday’s early blood
freshens the smear left by Monday,
I stand in my kitchen
eating a waxen chocolate.
The cat paces behind me;
her questioning tail twitches my calf.
Upstairs, the dog mounds
upon my snoring wife.

I spin about the tiles and wooden floor
wondering what nightgaunts perch in ambush
in the nocturnal surge of silence.

I ride Night, the serpent
who has eaten the Sun.

I dread Dream
as I munch my Hershey’s bar,
because it speaks from solitude
filled with Escherean rooms
inhabited by
the bullies of wakings past.

What architect of bone and brain
fashions this realm for me?

My bed is an awaiting ocean;
Its sheets surf that drowns me
in uncertain dreads and certain purposes.

I pop a Xanax,
restraining the ghouls
who worry me with vexed thought.

During my forced sleep,
the Sun catches Night with a forked stick,
flinging it to the far horizon.

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Cthulhu: A Found Poem

Posted on April 19, 2016 in Poems

foundthing

A found poem is created when you take a piece of literature — in this case Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulhu” — and find your poem by linking nearly words.

To get the line spacing right, I had to do a screen capture.

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Ray Bradbury and the Future

Posted on April 14, 2016 in Poems

You are not the future, Ray Bradbury told me, because you are not a scientist.
I was 19 years old, a liberal arts freshman at a small California college hidden on lists of the best colleges in the nation.

Which by definition made him not part either.
He wrote about the future with few clues about math or chemistry or physics
Just dreams about dinosaurs, spaceships, and Martian canals.

But the joke’s on you, Ray.
I am the future that was.
I’ve outlasted you.
And I don’t see time machines or rockets harvesting fusion material from the Sun.
The Martian canals proved to be capillaries in Percival Lowell’s eyes.
I am what became of the world that I helped make.
Too bad you aren’t here to see it.

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Fragments and Short Poems

Posted on April 12, 2016 in Poems

I

The iceberg
rams a Titanic of flame.
This is not the expected story.

II

The snowball
bends until it meets itself.
The center holds.
Frozen thought is loosed upon the mind.
Behold the blankness and the blindspot.

III

I am where two walls come together,
the light and the dark;
the line that fears
a crack that confuses the two.

IV

Skunk

The black and white
regimentation of its tail
following its vacuuming snout.

V

The mackerel swims
suspended in a wave
above the low troughs of the bay.

VI

A hard year began
when the orange rain fell

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Less than 140 characters

Posted on April 10, 2016 in Poems Social Media

The trouble with being a poet
is that no one reads your stuff
except other poets.
You sing at the silence
and there is no answer.

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Butterfly

Posted on April 8, 2016 in Poems

   Geisha,
   chalk love-death mask,
   silk wings pinned to a hope.
   Only Sharpless can see Lust’s doom
Wedding.
   Now the man in white and gold screws
   the delicate bug and leaves.
   Sorrow, blossoms,
   a knife.

The title of this cinquain refers to two things: the opera Madama Butterfly and to the style of cinquain that I employed, a butterfly.

Sharpless is the compassionate American consul who tries to talk the oversexed Pinkerton out of his plan of marrying — seducing — Butterfly

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Goodwill Slavery

Posted on April 7, 2016 in Campaign 2016 Class Stigma

square932We’ve heard a lot about the dismal minimum wage of $7.25 in this country. Sanders has called for a $15 federal minimum wage and Clinton for a $12 wage with the call for local communities and states to set it at $15 or higher on their own. Only Ms. Clinton, however, has noticed a segment of our population who makes less than the minimum wage thanks to an act purported to “help” them: the disabled.

If you have a mental illness or a physical disability, you are screwed under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. That is when the minimum wage for the disabled was set at $0.00. That is right, there is no minimum wage for people like me and you. Fortune Magazine describes the reasoning:

Congress passed the original legislation 76 years ago because it “rightfully felt that these individuals had the desire to be part of the fabric of America,” says Anil Lewis, director of advocacy and policy for the National Federation of the Blind. But that was a different time; when “discrimination was inevitable because service systems were based on a charity model, rather than empowerment and self-determination and when societal low expectations for people with disabilities colored policy making,” the National Council on Disability says.

This is what allows organizations such as Goodwill to give its workers subminimum pay. Hillary Clinton has noticed the problem (Senator Sanders seems to be ignorant of it) and promises to do something about it. We deserve the right to be able to support ourselves whether we are blind or deaf or mentally ill. Currently, we don’t get the same $7.25 that everyone else gets. The message becomes we are not able. This is nonsense.

If we can do the work, then we deserve the fair wage. No more should we be an underpaid slave class for nonprofits. It is time to join Hillary Clinton in her call for fairness for all. We have the right to be self-sufficient.

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