Friday, July 13, 2018


Every ville and burg or burb
has a crossroads.
Where souls get traded
to Mr Scratch.

Over breakfast
in Brussels.
Or a Manhattan
in Manhattan.

The sidewalk preachers
at Market and Powell
say the End Times
are near, selling fear

and the promise
of redemption
while one of the lost ones
nurses a forty ounce beer

in a brown paper bag
and a crooner performs
for the tourists lined up
for the cable car ride.

Like a web or a magnet
a gravitational hole
where energy flows
and souls can be bought

for a dollar or two
at 14th and Broadway
in Oakland, or a million
or two in DC on K Street.

De Lauer's Newstand
on Broadway
established in 1907,
pipes classical music

to the sidewalk
out in front.
Perhaps a tradition
begun long before

the immigrant owners
who now sell the sundries
and more magazines
than I've ever seen in one place.

Across the street
a man throws his coat
on the ground and screams
obscenities at the window

of the Walgreen's
for an hour.
And the arsonist
makes his grand tour

from Belgium to England
to Scotland and Finland
brandishing his hair,
his red tie, and his power.

Monday, June 25, 2018


Veiled moon, wind chimes,
bridge lights half seen
through the fog.

Unglamorous, unsung,
her gibbous face erased
as she gazes on

El Paso, Paris
or Pakistan
and we try

to remember
if she wanes
or waxes.

I took my mother
for a stroll
down the street

behind the senior
housing where she
now dwells.

I say stroll,
actually I rolled
her wheel chair.

And she pointed
to some blue wildflowers
growing in a vacant lot.

So I picked a small bouquet,
and put them in a jelly glass
of water in her room.

On the window sill
where she could
look at them.

We watched Jeopardy
and a show about
a butterfly that only

lives in five small places
on the coast of Oregon.
They might soon be gone.

And the blue flowers
in the jelly glass
on the window sill

began to droop
within the hour.
Mom was ready

to sleep before
the sun went down
and the veiled moon

peeked through
the gathering
evening clouds.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Fish Story

The summer of '78
I did a lot of fishing.
For trout in the Sierra.

We lived on 34th
off H in Sacramento
and I had a morning
car route delivering
the Chronicle.

I'd be done before six
and be casting a hook
into a crystal stream
before eight.

The fishing license
comes with a small
booklet of all
the regulations
- the legal seasons,
types of gear,
catch limits, etc.

Certain streams and rivers
were designated as
"catch and release".
I don't recall that there
was any reference
to human beings.

The purpose of the
restriction was to preserve
a healthy population.
It works quite well for trout,
I guess they are more important
than people seeking asylum.

Monday, June 18, 2018


The heresies and faith
I mumble under my breath,
the debris that's left
after nightmare's theft,

the horrors and fantasies
siphoned off the screens
of many sizes,
the screams so easily

muted with a thumb
on the touch screen
or remote. What are they
looking at or for?

What need what fear what whimsy
lives at the intersection
of who am I and what for?
Ask the eyes and ears

of satellites looking down at us
from heights somewhat
closer to the ground
than God was ever found.

I heard a beautiful soprano
singing out a window over
the 7-11 on Main. The one
next to the Taco Bell

where the doorway sleepers
look to score the remains
of half eaten burritos
or the last sips of a Coke.

My lighter was expired
and I must always have
my own personal, portable,
source of fire,

so I went inside
to get a new Bic to flick,
the color doesn't matter,
red or green or blue

as the pixels on my phone.
Lit up a classic Camel
as I passed the park
where the alien parrots

whirled from tree to tree
screaming their joys
-or jealousies
on this gray June morning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Turn of the season

It's ant colony nesting
in the sidewalk cracks
season again.

The toad choruses
have stopped croaking
now that they're done
with procreation
for the year.

The scabby lawn
is turning brown
but the dandelions
are holding on.

I know there's snow
somewhere, lingering
in shadowed passes.

I could toss a handful
like a white grenade,
if I but got up off my ass
and went.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

dawn's early light

Before the business day
history requires,
hosing yesterday's misery
off the sidewalk.

So the smart ones
sleep up the alley
where the cleaners
seldom sweep.

On the flattened
cardboard boxes
the burgers shipped in.
Under blankets
from Goodwill.

Ignored by the pigeons
picking out the scraps
the rats missed,
between the bottles
and last night's syringes,
they stir.

McDonald's doors
will open soon
serving pancakes, eggs
and sausages til noon.

And the well dressed might have
a dollar nineteen's
worth of mercy in the morning
when they share a touch of hunger
for a Sausage Biscuit or McMuffin.

when dreams are not enough

All his dreams
have wings
affixed with wax.

By sunrise,
fear and fever
melt them off.

Nestled in
his bed of nettles,
the itch of wishes

takes him to the edge
of madness,

a cliff
ten thousand feet
above the blackness

of the canyon floor
where writhing vermin
wait to eat his soul.