Guilt

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Guilt

A storm’s wrath had wrenched
the robin’s nest from the tree above.

Jerry and i, boys of ten or so,
stumbled upon it the next morning.

The mother robin stood her ground,
fluffing her feathers in defiance.

We two, imitators of brave hunters,
executed her with a BB gun and laughed.

Jerry grew up, played college football,
and became a famous California detective.

i went on to teach children our language,
and lay bare my shame in poetry.

 j

God’s Blueprint

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God's Blueprint

To be certain our species
would flourish, 

God

constructed a magnetic 
force within us

so powerful

that when young Men,

stopped by a deep
and rushing flow 

of icy water,

or a gaping, precipitous

chasm

rent in the earth,
 
peered forth

and saw 
comely young Women

on the far side
(picking wildflowers)

God
could be certain,

bridges would be built.

j 

Tree Talk

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Tree Talk

But soft, whispered a forest tree.
Someone comes this way.

If woodsmen, asked his brother,
will this be our final day?

They carry no weapons, saw or axe— 
perhaps just pilgrims, come to pray.

Like boats to safe harbor let them steer,
and find peace among us this joyful day.

j

A Wedding Dirge

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A Wedding Dirge

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,

“Mr. Khashoggi? What a nice surprise.
What brings you to Istanbul?”

“What else? My love, Hatice, waits here.”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Head bone connected to the heart bone.
Heart bone connected to the soul bone.

“I seek the required Marriage Document.”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Soul bone connected to the courage bone,
Courage bone connected to the backbone.

“Please come with us, Mr. Khashoggi.”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

“Hatice is waiting outside. She’ll be worried.”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Backbone connected to the shoulder bone,
Shoulder bone connected to the arm bone.

“We insist, Mr. Khashoggi! You dare to write!
You overstep the bounds! You cannot criticize!”

“I write only of the truth. Is truth a crime?
Please. My bride waits just outside. Hatice. Hatice.”

Arm bone connected to the hand bone,
Hand bone connected to the truth bone.

“Lies! There is a dear price to pay, Mr. Kashoggi!”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

“I cannot breathe! I beg of you! Have mercy!” 
Now hear the word of the Lord.

“All we need of you, Mr. Kashoggi, is silence.”
Now hear the word of the Lord.

j

Hesitant

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Hesitant

Eighty-one years now,
memorized in Kindy,

stand tall,
hand over heart,

"I pledge allegiance
to the flag and the

United States 
of America."

Never wavering,
standing tall,

removing my cap,
to sing our song,

". . .the land 
of the free

and the home
of the brave."

Saluting when in 
navy uniform,

standing tall,
hand over heart

leading the students
in my classroom,

at our games,
standing tall,

uncovered,
hand over heart.

This year, 
of course 

I'll display
it again, 

but, with never
before weakness,

lest my 
neighbors

think I've lost
my mind,

mindless,
mind you,

forgotten our
Constitution

and joined up,
disgracefully,

with the Trumpers
and the Court

who seem 
to value 

money, guns,
power and control

over 

"land of the free
and the home
of the brave"

cowardly turning
their backs on

all the young men
who fought

and died at
Normandy,

at Iwo Jima,
in Korea,

and 
Vietnam

and our children
in their classrooms,

standing tall,
hands over hearts,

and our women
in childbirth

losing their 
"freedom for all."

God help me 
in my shameful

hour of hesitancy.

j



 


Abortion Denied

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Abortion Denied

She had dreams
as big as yours— 

of college—
fine clothes—
a useful career—

but,

someone
grabbed her heart,
that junior year.

He said, 
 
“I Love You,” 

and she was 

trusting 

enough 
to believe his
thinly sliced 

Promises,
Kisses
and Caresses.

The upshot, 


a baby girl
came along.

The boy soon drifted away,
a small boat, unmoored.

There was no 
high school graduation
 
with diploma in hand, 
proud parents beaming.

Home alone, 
her daughter fussy, 

bottle bubbling, 
angry on the stove,

and later, after the baby 
finally fell asleep, 

she, our dropout,

stood before the mirror,
imagining a glorious 
satin cap and gown,

tassel flipped to one side. 

It was then she saw herself, 

standing beside a dusty road,
dressed in sloppy jeans,
hard hat,
and fluorescent vest
holding a 

Road Closed 


sign
 
at fifteen bucks an hour

that she wished she had 

noticed 

way back when.

j

A Reckoning

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A Reckoning

The poinsettia has died—
I tried.

As best I could—
Anyone would.

Bathed in natural light—
Warm and bright.

More Christmas joy brought—
I thought.

Auld Lang Syne and table set—
“A cup of kindness yet.”

Cupid launched his arrow—
Some thought the aim too narrow.

Easter’s promise. He cleansed our sins—
Life everlasting and everybody wins!

Saint Patrick listens to March say—
“Corned beef and cabbage okay?”

Mother’s Day we all know—
Do miss her so!

Memorial Day, too high a cost—
So many brave young lives lost.

Juneteenth, America's shame— 
Slaves yes, too many to name.

July 4th’s quiet celebration—
Little enthusiasm in a wounded nation.

As for me—
What will be, will be.

The poinsettia has died—
I tried.

j

More Hyenas

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More Hyenas

Sometime during the night
while everyone slept,
an intruder dared invade
the village perimeter.
Nose to the wind,
sifting, learning, knowing,
he found a child, untended,
and carried him off.
When the tired sun rose
again, lighting the darkness,
a mother screamed,
a sister sobbed,
a father, outraged,
consulted the elders.
They sat, solemn, listened
to a mother's grief,
a father's anger,
a sister's innocence.
They discussed the matter.
The sun climbed higher,
the heat oppressive,
the light blinding.
Finally, at dusk, the elder
said, "To make our village
safe from the hyena we
need more hyenas."
The village women wept.

j

Crystal Clear

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Crystal Clear

The meaning
of a poem
should be

untroubled
water—

clear as an icy
mountain stream,

not just a string
of pretty words

tiptoeing through  
the debris of 
ruined romance,

a Rosetta Stone
needing to be
deciphered,

or a phone app
to be pondered.

I have
no time left

for translation.

j