What invisible monsters do we heed
knowing what we know
Is it any wonder
our footpaths and streets are fouled
and our seas and waterways choked
Had only we chosen as our guide
the likes of
Commandant Jacques Cousteau,
"The glory of nature provides evidence that God exists,"
our world might be more tidied up.
He stood alone in the center island formed
by the intersection of Kolb and 22nd Street.
Sleepy-eyed commuters glanced at his cardboard declarations:
Not Hungry At The Moment.
A Vet. Just Like You.
Sheets of white paper held in one hand flapped like
seagull wings on the stirred currents of whizzing cars.
The light turned, autumn leaf red he supposed.
Cars slowed and rested.
Windows slid down.
Voices sang out.
“Any of those old-fashioned rhymes today, Poet?”
“Hey, man. Make me giggle. Need one terrible like.”
“Loved yesterday’s. Read it to my kids at the dinner table.”
“Touch my heart. It’s hurtin' bad sore.”
“I got a feelin' you're gonna make me cry.”
He walked the line. Leaned down. Handed ‘em out.
Touched skin. Stretched his grin.
“Morning,” he said. “Feelin’ good today?”
“Thinkin’ ‘bout yuh,” he said. "Blue skies day."
“Hope this helps,” he said. "Things are gonna get better."
The light changed color, golf course green he supposed.
Traffic edged away like a reluctant tide going out.
Some waved the words out the window in a
see yuh later kinda way—
and his ribs ached from the banging goin’ on inside.
Tis not so much the mac and cheese,
the imperturbable patience
for the troubling of the water—
the softening of the noodles,
the precise measurements,
of milk and butter,
sipping from the
slender stemmed glass of soothing chardonnay.
Deny It Not
We are of the sea
and of the caves,
has rinsed us clean
of these dim
And yet we still long
to splash about,
ride the tumultuous waves,
explore dark spaces.
Yes, we have
our desperate thirst for water—
our voracious appetite for meat—
our hideous capacity for violence—
Latin As A Second Language
“Do you understand Latin?” Mr. Horace, the vice-principal, asked.
Standing my ground, I admitted to terra firma.
After all, I was in the midst of a second trimester of seventh grade Latin.
At twelve years of age I was quite small then.
The spilled marbles cascading about the classroom had tripped me up.
Needle and thread.
I must remember me to patch the hole in my jacket pocket.
“Do you know what innuendo means?” Horace asked.
He’d closed the door to his office.
“Vaguely,” I replied. "Insinuating something wicked about a valued classmate?"
"Close enough,” he said, torching up a cigar.
When Ms. Strangle heard the marbles roll, every girl in the class had turned and stared at me.
How about ipso facto?” he asked.
“Never heard of it,” I admitted, silently cursing my ignorance.
“I may have been down with malaria that day.”
I gave him a moment, then added, “Or something much worse.”
“The enemy of one’s enemy, ipso facto, is a friend,” Mr. Horace recited proudly.
“Ms. Strangle accuses you. Ray Cole vouches for you.”
“Ipso facto,” I said.
“Bully for them.”
When the marbles rolled, Ray had stood and pointed at Lucky Lucy Rabbitz, a known felon.
Lucky Lucy sat two desks behind me, and had done hard time somewhere in Tukwila.
She sharpened her pencils as if she were honing carving knives.
The hair on my neck stood on end every time she came near.
“Are you at all familiar with locus delicti?” Horace asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
“The scene of a crime. But in this instance, no crime was committed.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” he said, blowing cigar smoke in my face.
Mom smoked cigars of course, but I got carsick when she did, so I never took it up.
I felt the familiar gagging deep in my throat.
The air was so thick with cigar smoke I could barely make out Mr. Horace’s face.
I fumbled through my Latin note cards. “Getting nauseous in here,” I said.
“Not my problem,” he replied.
“Do you play marbles during recess?’ he asked, his voice piercing the thick cloud.
“Interdum,” I said.
“When the mood strikes.”
“Did the mood strike you this morning?” he asked.
He moved the cigar’s glowing tip close to my face.
“No. I played tether ball with my colleagues to relieve the stress brought
on by studying Latin under the clumsy guidance of Ms. Strangle.”
“Odd,” he said. “She thinks otherwise.”
“She has been misinformed,” I said.
“An obvious instance of ad absurdum by a consortium of tattlers.”
I added a footnote. “Let’s face it, some people are not cut out to teach seventh grade.”
I paused for effect. “But she might make a dandy cafeteria supervisor.”
Mr. Horace giggled.
“I was thinking the exact same thing,” he said, stubbing out the cigar on his desktop.
“Off with you now, kid. Stay out of trouble. Do no harm. You’ve a knack for cover-up.
Go to law school. Et cetera.”
In the Beginning
Before a piece of writing
it is raw rhubarb,
sour to the senses.
is much easier now
than during the
quill and inkwell days
when supplies were dear
and research time consuming.
But editing is still
more the chore than treat.
There will always be a better
word to be found,
a more precise
image to be described,
and a sweeter
sound of rhyme.
was so easily remedied.
But then, that work
a mere seven days.
You've Been A Fun Crowd
Should i but read
might be assured
a polite and
with soft murmurings
and spare grumbles