Thursday, September 18, 2014


The Finale Known as Grace



          Honest to God

found himself

in New Hampshire

under a bruised sky

up a tree

watching green hills

          rock thunder and storm

          like an ocean raging

          all a-havoc & destruction

                   of fences and cows

                   John Deeres



                   telephone poles

                   the dearly departed
                             with their assorted and sundries


                   farmyard children

churning every which way


          up and


in an in-ex-or-able roll

and in-cred-ible show

of brute force nature.

Frank shaking like a leaf


          how the hell

          he was gonna get himself

          out of this one

and as nothing came to mind



higher up

to thin branches

new growth

spindle greenery

all precarious

                        Steady now

into a window

          fortune-ate-ly, for-tu-i-tous-ly, and treach-er-ously

tumbling in the maelstrom 

          and found

                   Get this

the beautiful daughter

in a white night gown

on white sheets

under a white canopy

in a white room

                   Stick with me

and Frank said,  Dorothy?

          Dorothy said, Frank?

Frank said, How did you get in here?

          and Dorothy said, The prairie is an ocean, Frank

and then

Frank heard

the unmistakable


of a pump-action


followed by the voice

of the household's host

his best friend's friend

pronouncing as sharply

as New Hampshire granite:

          I think you've got the wrong room, son

As a lucky spasm of

          grass, dirt

          flint and rock

smacked the sun

turning all the white black

all the bedrooms into kitchens

and all the daughters to

          safely lighting lamps

                   and pouring wine

for Sunday supper

          and here's the best part

The household's host

his best friend's friend

asked Frank to

          Kindly say the grace, son

And Frank obliged with all the grace he could muster:

Thank you Lord

          thank you dear people

For shelter from the rising fields

Keep us, Lord,

from the temptations of trees

          and open windows


And they all said: 


Saturday, September 6, 2014


     (for Miller on his Thirteenth Birthday)

 Raven on my Shoulder
                      Raven on my Shoulder

Born of Frank, Sr.,
and Our Lady of Perpetual Longing
the fifth or seventh of eleven -

     who can remember?

Frank was brought up
     by a free floating family
          to float free.

An independent thinker.

Frank Sr.,
an odds maker
angle player
sporting life
as honest as anyone outside the law
taught him the higher maths of
     Eight ball
     The ponies
And lives captured in a dream

Taught him the benefits of
     Fi-delity and Loyalty

And the utility of a pocketful of hand-shakes.

His favorite uncle
a man of the cloth
taught him how to
     Play the piano
     Shoot nine holes and various handguns
     And communicate with the higher powers.

Uncle Sugar
might have shown him
how to snap a jab
and throw a flurry,
but ain't nobody saying.

Perpetual Longing walked him along the path of
     Reading books
     Recognizing love
     Keeping his own council
     And the equality of the great and small.

When he was a baby,
his auntie, Ma Raven, poked him in the ear
and left a message

Said to listen for her rough song
and when he was ready
she'd tell him some things

In time she did -

She told him the world was divided
between the agreed upon and the enchanted

mirrors, reflections
and surface things
could trap you twixt the two

and you had to get into something
     before you could get out of it.

Ma Raven told him to aovid rats
     she hated rats
the two and four-legged varieties
both recognized by their moving jaws and skittish behavior
distracting you with shiny things
while they eat you alive.

Most important, she said, don't be afraid.

Before he left home
Frank understood
you could pay a price for things
     that weren't for sale
And there was nothing
     you could steal
     that would do you any good.

He learned that life
     was a tightrope walk
with a bounce and sway
     that sent messages
          through his feet
               into his heart
                    and finally his head

He learned his body
always got the message first
     and the territory between
          what his heart felt
          and his head thought
          was a minefield littered
               with limbs, lives, and intentions -
                    good and otherwise.

Every animal Frank ever met
     taught him to nap anytime
          and eat when he could.

Wind taught him
     to expect the unexpected

And stars that there's no time
     like the present.

At times Frank thought life was just one goddamn lesson after another
     and with all these lessons he'd never get a day of nothing at all.

Frank got days of nothing at all - he didn't enjoy them all that much.

By the time Frank hit the road
he was prepared
for glorious contingencies
stray teachers
and all the visible-and-in
an enchanted vaudeville could offer.

Frank was happy to be
     Foot loose & Fancy free.