Monday, April 30, 2007


Be here now, they said,
yet my mind wonders,
looking and listening

at the car screeching
and the woman
refreshing her lipstick

as if no one
is watching.
I catch

something important
but only
the tail end

of (what might be)
an interesting thought.
The car stops screeching

darkening the street
with burnt rubber
and the woman

powers her nose,
anticipating meeting

more to her liking.
My other ears and eyes
draw back into my head

and I command myself
(this time) to pay attention
more carefully

until my mind
once again.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


She said he said,
they took a walk,
almost forty years ago

and later, today,
they sometimes
become one

and sometimes two
or three or four
wondering where

the time flew to,
or, if Einstein was
right, where the train

was, and which train
they were on, and
where they were,

when the
lightning struck
like cupid's arrow.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


He's now in the dog
house, having run
away a few days ago.

How can we trust him,
after he chose a rabbit
rather than his warm home?

He promises to be good
but we see that twinkle
in his eyes and how

his ears stand up,
waiting so patiently
for the rabbit

to rustle a
few leaves in
our neighbor's bush.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lost Dog

We called our big dog in,
at bedtime, and called
and called and called.

To no avail, we went
on a search
and rescue operation,

combing the neighborhood.
Finally my wife looked behind
the neighbor's garage

where the rabbits
hang out. There he was,
anxious to return home

his evening's

Thursday, April 26, 2007

One Seventy

They don't know why
he fired 170 rounds,
or why he was so angry.

His family said he
rarely spoke, yet
he mailed reams of discourse

his first and second

And in Iraq, today,
72 died, and my neighbor,
Mrs. Hudson,

phoned me
to tell me that
these are terrible times,

because, she said,
the bible said so
in a prophecy.

She asked if I could
imagine life before the
original sin

and I told her
that I liked apples.
She said that the Bible

never mentioned
what fruit it was,
but that she knew

it was bananas,
which I like even better.
So I let the sun shine

in the picture,
because it does shine,
even when our behavior


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dual Egotism

Not connected at birth,
they found each other
like two desperate magnets,

hungrily becoming one,
but not knowing who they are,
and becoming none.

They shared their hair,
had a common hand,
and went together to

work and play. They
loved each other, or
was it themselves?

But they were saved,
(somewhat) by a free
hand that

reached out
independently, and

the freshness
of a
lonesome breeze.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


3:21 am is a lonely time.
My wife is asleep.
The dogs can barely

open their eyes,
and do so
just long enough

to briefly explore
the cold

and then
come back
to their beds.

I remember
my college friend
telling me

"no matter what,
will always love you,"

and how I used to
walk the streets
at night,

going to Hopper's
where I sit by myself

and noone
knows me
because I am

that man
a face

and it is

where I find
and meet

(in myself)
whom I did not know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Afghan Woman

Barely a teen,
she was married
to a man in his forties

who abused her
to the point
that she doused herself

with petro,
and, despite her best intentions,
survived, scarred,

wanting to only feel better.
Now divorced,
she is alone,

with her scars,
both physical
and emotional.

Good or Bad

". . . ask what you can do for your country."
And so he said, as he defined
a good person, and made

the rest of us guilty of treason.
My friend wondered what
social causes I would take

on in my next life after
my 38 years as a public
servant, and I wondered

at what point can I
declare a truce with
the final judge and

simply commit my
self to further understand
me, whatever that may mean.

And what is "my country"
other that a conglomeration
of people, faces, and things.

If everyone was doing
something for others,
to improve their quality of life,

who would be looking
for themselves?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Anne Frank

In Anne Frank
we read the diary
of all girls

vaulting from
child to adult
surrounded by

a microcosm of
the world, and

to love,
and fear.

It is an
opportunity to

live a tragedy
through the eyes
and mind of one

sensitive individual,
and to remind ourselves
that our humanity

as a species
is tentative,
at best.

Friday, April 20, 2007


To save a dollar
a day, we reduced
our cable service

to twenty seven stations.
Now we have a sane
number of little men

and women inside
our TV wondering what
to say or do next.

We live by calendars,
going from this event
to that, sometimes

leaving one early and
getting to the next late,
just so we can be eveywhere

at once. Yet when we get
sick, or our car breaks
down, and all these "urgent"

events get stuck on the
back burner, life
goes on without us.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Suicide Bomber or Mental Case

The country is focused
on an articulate
and angry mental case.

We've heard his thoughts
before, that we are the
cause of what has happened,

not him. Yet, thousands
of miles away, we daily
have similar tragedies,

also motivated by a
perspective, a point of
view, a set of beliefs.

We sometimes think
of education
as a luxury item.

In times like these
we realize that our only hope
is to help each other

to find better solutions
to common
and pervasive problems.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

He had so much ahead of him...

His mother,
between tears,
couldn't understand

a beautiful life

could so senselessly

She saw her

with mostly
unused territory

Tragedy is when
unwanted events

We review our lives,
and wondering

what is waiting
the curtain.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

33 Die, From the Beginning

Perhaps there was only water,
a very long time ago,
and then a

very simple life.
A few years later,
few in comparison

to the length of all time,
life evolved to cockroaches,
butterflies, and homosapiens.

We were the most advanced species,
with amazing intelligence and dexterity.
So intelligent, that we wanted

to control others,
and so we waged
awful wars, continual.

Then on 4/16, a student
decided that he had
had enough

and put on his boy scout
uniform and his guns
and sent his classmates

into disrepair. How
do we condemn one meaningless
act, and justify another

on the other side of the
world? Is the homosapien
itself the ultimate WMD?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dogs as Pigs

My dogs look like pigs
except they have longer legs
and smaller bellies.

In real life I could never
sell them for bacon, but
in my drawings, it is another

ball of wax. I'm not sure
whose chromosome is missing
that makes such transformation

occur, but I'm suspect it is
one of mine, and not one
of my "best friends'."

Sunday, April 15, 2007


When feeling better after not
you start to think
of all the things you forgot

to think about when you were not.
Like all the dumb things
you were supposed

to do, or find, or say.
When your head is dizzy
and you can't think, they hide

behind the black cloud,
like the 300 tons of dirt
in the 30s that made its

way through the great plains.
Now, better, the dust settles,
and you see the mundane,

but also the very special stuff
that glitters, warms our hearts
and lets us know we are alive.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

TV Man

Invades my home,
erasing car noises
and my bird's song.

Like a monkey on my back,
I turn him on whenever
I can, hoping for some

real semblance of truth
or humor only to discover
hours and days later

my time has so
deftly been expired into
that irredeemable past.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Getting Better Watching TV

I'm not sure
which is worse,
watching TV, or

getting over a cold?
When you haven't watched
TV for awhile,

you realize how it steals
your time like a crazed

and your eyes run and
your mind spins and
your time gets eaten

up like a band of
vultures are on you,
and you say no no

not any more, but it
is there, in the air
striking us all,

stealing our precious
minutes as if we
have nothing better to do.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Still Sick

Still have the classic cold
stuffed head, runny nose,
cough, fever.

With all the poems
already in the world
if I was a decent humanoid

i'd sit out this one and
give my muses a rest.
But what happens to

a poem if it isn't writ
and instead ls silenced
by one thing or another.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Being Sick

Being sick knocks
the wind out of me.
It doesn't have to be

anything terminal,
even a simple cold
is enough to make my

head spin and my body
sluggish. Jack London
wrote so many words a day,

even if we was very sick.
I wonder if his sick words
were as good as his healthy words.

I have a friend who is
a jazz singer. He cut a record
when he was losing his voice

which added
a certain originality
to his efforts.

My high school art teacher
had Parkinson's disease
and grooved over the shaky lines

he could make
when his medicine
was running out.

Did any of these tactics
make them feel any better?
Does my thinking about them make my head

feel any better? Do they heroes divert
for a few moments
how cruddy I feel when I'm sick?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Phone Book

Mom was hard of hearing,
so she took up psychoanalysis
to figure out what was going on.

Because she couldn't listen
to your words,
she'd look through you

and look at your
and body language.

I heard someone say that
you could read
from a phone book

and people would get
what it was
you wanted to say.

Is that what JC
meant when he said
that he spoke in parables

so that those
would hear him?

It may not be the story,
but the subtext
that carries the message.

There are 6000+ languages
on our small planet,
yet we all have similar


and we may know
what others think about,
even without their words,

that are
often so

Monday, April 9, 2007


When I taught art to
first and second graders
they would often

ask me to compliment
their work.
I almost always told

them that it was great,
even if it was crud.
But they knew the truth,

and if it wasn't a masterpiece,
they'd simply tear it up
and start over.

Adults are not as quick
to know the truth,
and don't yearn to find it.

Our egos seem
unduly invested in
what we do

(or how much we earn),
believing that what we are
and do are one in the same.

Even "how are you doing"
isn't really meant to be
answered honestly.

One woman, at dinner,
did, and almost everyone
lost their supper.

Sometimes we ask,
"do you really want to
know (the truth)?"

but even that
doesn't cover
all the bases.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


The rabbi in jeans
spoke of matzah,
not the matzah

in the grocery store,
but the matzah
that was eaten by

the Jews many years ago,
that was cooked
a little less than hummus,

and symbolized
that Jews,
being on the run,

were not able
to wait
for their bread to rise,

even before rabbis,
he said, when the sages
were called something different.

And I worry about
whether I have
any rich traditions,

born to skeptic parents
who looked to the future
rather than the past.

Yesterday I asked
what were her traditions
and she said

if she was having
trouble falling asleep,
she'd say goodnight to

the people she'd seen that day.
And I, frightened to be
swept away by any tradition,

embrace no traditions
one day, and (a little)
of all, the next.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Frontal Lobomy

We make mistakes.
We say things
we shouldn't have.

We do
we shouldn't have.

We make things
that either
don't work or poison us

like polluted wheat gluten dog bones
for our beloved pets.
Even the Nobel Prize

is sometimes given
erroneously, as in 1949
for the frontal lobotomy.

I was three then,
and one of the most avid
proponents lived in St. Louis

and used an ice pick,
according to his son,
to go in above the eye

and dissemble
our emotions
from our reason,

as Socrates
so wished for
when he took the hemlock,

but unfortunately we don't know
how well it worked for him,
and fortunately,

most other philosophers
do not stand in line
for their turn

with the ice pick
or even
the hemlock.

Friday, April 6, 2007


When Arlo was seven
he wanted to dunk a basketball
so he put a stool next to the basket

(must have been quite a stool)
and fell backwards
and broke his wrist.

Now a few years older,
he broke his arm (in two places)
on a skateboard.

On Wed. the 14th of March,
a man in Roma
died on a bicycle.

I did not know the man,
though I was with someone
who had been with someone

who saw it happen
I wonder about that man,
where was he riding to,

and did he know that,
riding a bike in Rome,
was living on borrowed time?

And brave Mark in the U.S.,
gets a motorcycle
and on the 24th of March,

has a bad fall and
came home a few days later
for a lot of healing.

Or my sister, and her then boyfriend,
hit on a motorcycle on the SF Bay Bridge,
and lived to tell about it.

Or Craig, inventor of the Vetter Fairing,
now in a wheel chair
because his passion was racing.


Isn't life dangerous enough
without the added risk
of the thrill of

flying through the
air unprotected
from the cruel pull

of gravity, who
keeps us earthbound,
even to the point

of giving us
and (much) worse?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wanting to be Meek

I wanted
to be a poor kid.
I had everything I wanted.

My mom would
buy me any book,
and any tools I asked for,

and I could have lived
in the most plush
dormitory in college.

My heros
were my misconceptions
of Thoreau,

who lived (for a year) at
Walden Pond on almost nothing,
as an "experiment,"

and Siddhartha,
who shun his riches,
so that he could understand life.

And Gandhi, who
burned his British clothes,
and spun his own.

I used to tell my students
it is better to appreciate
a crack in a sidewalk

than to own a yacht.
Some believe that
anyone with wealth

and/or power is evil,
and the poor are blessed.
and will "inherit the Earth"

and though we sometimes buy
that hook, line, and sinker,
most don't put the

meek into their wills,
and most with money
may live with a better quality

of life than those without.
Privilege, as some call it.
Using one's resources to

fulfill one's goals is certainly
a laudable goal,
and squandering one's resources,

including health, money, and time
is certainly
not commendable.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


I imagined when
my parents died
I'd be an orphan.

Kind of like Kipling's
Kim or Huck Finn.
But no luck!

I was always asking
my parents for advice,
though I'm not sure

if I ever took it.
Now they are
gone from the planet

but not from my life.
I think of them often
and see them everywhere.

Unlike Castaneda's Don Juan
who gave up his last name,
and became his own person,

I realize what I am is
the combination of where
I was and where I am going.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Waiting for Death

When my parents
retired 27 years ago,
I imagined that they would

be waiting for death
to come for them and
I was surprised to discover

that their third stage was (much)
more like a honeymoon
than a funeral.

They weren't in a state of denial and
their life was full of new challenges,
discoveries, and contributions.

They got their affairs in order,
financial, spiritual,
and personal.

They made new friends
in a new city,
as if they had come from outer space.

They though and examined
every choice they made,
and made the best of every moment.

They analyzed every dream they
had, and whether they would
be more productive if they

took a nap in the afternoon.
They kept an accurate accounting
of what they spent,

and how the stock market
was treating them.
They spoke of their life

as being in heaven, and
considered joining the
Hemlock Society,

vowing to only continue residing
on Earth if they could
be healthy and independent.

Monday, April 2, 2007


All weekend I worked
on taxes, between blogging,
that is.

Actually I hired someone
to help because it
takes me forever to

do jobs I hate.
Did you know that we work
almost half of the year for Uncle Sam?

Then he/she takes our money
and spends it
as he/she sees fit.

Ideally the money is
well-spent, uprooting
social injustices and

creating a safe and efficient
country for all.
It is amazing to me,

with the amount of expenditures
Uncle Sam makes, that
we aren't all in a soup line.

Not that I don't like soup,
but could the billions that
are being spent to wipe out

a middle eastern culture be
better spent returned
to our citizens?

Having said that,
as the expression goes,
it is easy to take shots

from the peanut gallery.
Ideally we learn as much
as we can about a situation,

and still we can't know all.
Perhaps the way to world peace
is to methodically eradicate the

world's population. Perhaps
the government knows best
what I should eat for breakfast.

And perhaps, when we say grace tonight,
we should thank Uncle Sam
for the food we have

on our table,
and the roof we have,
over our heads.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April 1

I asked my wife
if the refrigerator was running
(hoping I could say,

"better catch it. April fools!")
but she knew that one,
and simple said, is it April 1?

I probably should have thought of
something better, like we
got a call from the zoo

and Mrs. Lion would like
to see her tomorrow,
or any of the other myriad classics.

On this one day we can
be kids again, and live in
that special world where

we try to fool
the other guy, just for fun.
As a kid, my friend and I

used to tell each other
stupendous stories about
something that recently

may have happened to us. The
goal was to get the other
to believe our stories.

Here's some timely ones
for this
April 1:

The war in Iraq ended today.
George Bush announced he'll
support Hillary for president,

God is proved dead,
Walmart decides to double wages,
and Social Security finds

a large stash of money so they
will never go broke.
Oh, the IRS closes down,

CEO salaries will be limited by law
to 1.5x that of the lowest employee in their company,
and only same sex marriages will

be sanctioned
by congress.
April Fools!