Tuesday, March 29, 2016



of the American Dream

A young man drives
his convertible

Oh, sure,
’58 Impala
candy-apple red

down a coastal road
with an angel

Let’s call her Angel
riding shotgun

She's long & languorous

got her left hand on the young man’s knee

right hand surfing California air.

In this dream
of the American Dream

the tank is full
the tunes are rockin’
the road is open.

The young man
pulls into a beach front lot

and hand in hand with Angel

walks across the sand
to water’s edge and stops.

Angel steps into the surf

Sun sets like a fiesta.

Take it
one way
or another
it's a gorgeous dream
this American Dream.

The young man
if waking up
would be worth the effort.



Saturday, March 26, 2016


After months
flat on my back
I began
my return

in a nursing home

in a wheel chair

under a shower

with a 
tender aide
playing a fine spray
of hot water
onto my head.

so intense
I saw stars

and shivered
and laughed
and called

Thank God!

And that tender aide 

lit up

joined my glee
a soapy cloth
across my chest

and whispered

Al-Hamdu Lillah

Al-Hamdu Lillah.



Friday, March 25, 2016


I.                    IN THE GARDEN
(after Mahmoud Darwish)

He saw what was ahead
and he cried.

He cried
from his eyes
and from his whole face

He cried
from his chest
and his arms
and from the tips of his fingers

He cried
from his whole body

and he bled

He bled from his whole body

And then

He was betrayed.

II.                WHEN IT WAS FINISHED

When it was finished

His mother's heart
was fully pierced.

When it was finished

Crows fought
for the unfurling ribbon
of his last words.

And when it was finished

Darkness rose
from broken tombs

stars and comets
crossed the sky

Judas lit
a single candle
in the upper room.

When it was finished:

Three soldiers
in camos and balaclavas
snapped their steel wands
and pushed the crowd back
from the high mound

his friends
lowered the cross
closed his eyes
and pulled the nails

a wild dog
slunk up to him
sniffed his matted hair
and stood gazing
at his face.

When it was finished

The rain began

and the rain
washed him

and the mud
anointed him

and the women
wrapped his body.

And when it was finished

They left him
to the tomb
and made
their way
past endless rubble
through checkpoints
and concertina wire

made their way
past trash fires
and crack whores

made their way
into narrow lanes
past grilled and boarded storefronts
into darkened parlors of frightened men
and hungry children.
And when it was finished

Hell welcomed Him

and knelt before Him


if He had died

for them

as well.

III.             JUDAS

Betrayal isn't the greatest sin

It's despair.

God would have forgiven Judas

but he lost all hope

and so became
the only saint
in Hell.


Crucifixion - Jackson Pollock

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Sundays in Lent

Not a believer, but not one to discount the stories

The Temptation in the Wilderness
(Mark 4:  1-11)

After forty days
Of solitude and fasting
A man might gnaw at a stone
Thinking it was bread

Or grow wings
And fly
Around the cities of his mind

Or walk naked
He were clothed,
And perfumed.

A man might do these things
And people might say
He was possessed.

I would say
He was

II.                The Transfiguration
(Mat 17: 1-13)

A Matter of Fact

Erie, Pennsylvania
Like every Starbucks
   corporate living room
   filled with strangers

Nat King Cole
   on the sorta hip
   always inoffensive
   competing with
       the grinding
       and steaming
       of coffee.

I’m pondering
   a biblical summit meeting,
   Christ transfigured,
   locked in conversation
   with Moses and Elijah,
But what they’re talking about –
   I don’t know.

At the table
   next to mine
A gray-haired
   black man
Has made himself at home
   with crossword puzzle, newspapers,
   and prominent -
a brown, leather bound bible

I have a feeling
   he’d know
   and wouldn’t mind
   my asking:

“Excuse me,
   are you a student
     of scripture?”


“Mathew 17
   Jesus on the mountain
   Peter, James, and Andrew.
Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah,
   what were they talking about?”

“Mathew 17,
   “Peter, James, and John,”
     he corrects,
“Jesus was thanking them
   for paving the way,
   and he was promising them
     he would continue the work.”

“The work.  What work?”

“Redemption.  It’s all about redemption.

And that
   was that,
Matter of fact,
   even as Nat King Cole
     lost his baby
     and almost lost his mind…

Even at Starbucks,

   It’s all about the work.

The Woman at the Well
(John 4:  4-42)

In the long shadowed evening
   In the first quiet of the day
He sat at the well’s edge
   And brushed a pebble
   That fell as lively as a star
   Down to Jacob’s water.

She walked
   Across the shadows
Balancing a jar on her shoulder
   With her shadow
     Clinging to her.

Who is this,
   She wondered,
And as the pebble touched water
   All her secrets
    Rippled between them.

He asked for a drink
   And she gave her eyes
He asked for food
   She opened her heart
He told her everything
   And she forgave him

And was never thirsty again.

But he,
    He would cry,


IV.             Sight to the Man Born Blind
(John 9:  1-41)

Left to his own devices
He would have perfected his blindness
And faded completely from this world.

The prophet packed his eyes with mud
And as he washed himself at the river
The world assaulted him.

He found himself answering questions
That had nothing to do with sky, or sun,
Or the astonishing and transparent water
He held in his hands.

His frightened parents,
whose faces he didn’t know,
denied him.

who considered the flash of wonder
in his gaze
questioned and berated him.

The Prophet,
whom he loved,
used him as a lesson.

And then
the man born blind,
fled into the colors of the world
and disappeared from the story.

V.                The Raising of Lazarus
(John 11:  1-43)

Even Jesus
   Must have been
   as he reached
   into darkness
    the spirit
     from beyond
     and forced it
     his friend’s

Even He
   must have been
 at how nature roared
at this intrusion
 and Lazarus walked
     out of his stinking tomb.

   Even He
     must have
wondered and wept
as they embraced
and the wind
howled a sand storm
around them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


In this world
you could
cry for a vision

That short strip
of East Tenth Street
was a long walk
for a little kid

Sidewalk littered
with horse chestnuts

Horse and cart
rag man
clopping up the street
calling out for

Emma next door
Julia down the block
Leukemia wraith angel
on a stoop
around the corner

You could cry
for a vision
you could holler

and get drunken
dads and uncles

Polish Falcons in their hearts

stumbling into houses
made of brooms and mops
holy water in the taps

bird daughter straining up
   from her crib
greedy for whatever
she can get

You could cry
you could holler

You could crawl on all fours
in your grandfather's living room
tattered wolf pelt on your back
and get a cane
across the ass
with a get-outta-here
worse than any wolf.

You could cry for a vision
   you could holler

You could sit on a rock
in an empty lot
grinning like the bag-of-bones
   you are
‘til the sun dries you up
and you’re just a skull
on your own bone pile
that some dog you thought
   was yours
is pissing on

And maybe
at that moment

a long haired
loose limbed
sun tanned

will come along
and laugh and


as you
are illuminated
and become

that kid’s vision.