Gone Missing

  Gone Missing

She had pressed
the 
autumn leaf 

between pages
578 and 579
of her
college dictionary, 

a reminder that she 
had visited there 
to better understand

the word

nuance.

Years later, 
a Seattle detective
hunting for subtle

clues
as to her 
whereabouts,

shook out the book
and watched the
leaf flutter to the floor.


“Let’s go,” he muttered.
“Nothin' here. Musta run off
somewheres."
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Peeved

  Peeved

I once had an
Airedale named
Peeve.

(or she had a human named John).

she was a 
splendid pet 
I sometimes

called Steve.

forgiving me 
that tremor
of the

mind,

Peeve came 
whenever a friend 
i needed to

find.

she offered me, 
as all dogs must, 
unyielding loyalty,

bottomless love , 
and
unbreakable trust.
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Unmerited Finery

Unmerited Finery

She said, “Open wide.”
i did.
she said, “Close down.”
i did.

even though i’m barely
a commoner, 
more the 
peasant or serf,

she treated me as 
Royalty,

placing a crown on
an exhausted molar.

“thank you,” i said, 

and hurried home
toward

Buckinghorse Palace
lest
i be found out.
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Rosemary

Rosemary

Toward the end of 6th grade,
on a school field trip, 

Rosemary, 
much larger than I, 

grabbed me hard by the throat 
and kissed me full on the lips. 

I recoiled in horror, and wiped my mouth of it. 

She’s gone now, and she never gave me another.

Some nights, late and alone in the dark,
I long for one more,

but, it was a once in a lifetime event.
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The Handshake

Can you see a narrow path, just wide enough for one
 where two men chanced upon each other a long time ago?
 In the morning glory, witnessed by a wary sun—
 did they stop and stare, and wonder, friend or foe?
 
Can you hear the roaring silence of unbridled fear,
 louder than the wails of most destructive storm?
 When men came face-to-face, blood pounding in the ear—
 eyes wild for escape, sensing death’s true form? 
 
Can you feel the breath of danger cold upon your face,
 and hair upon your neck bristling to attention?
 Were two molded statues, crafted from God’s race—
 rooted as the oak or maple, actions still undone?   
 
Can you see the younger of the two, stalwart as could be, 
 his empty palms extended, no killing blade secret there?
 Was hatred harbored in his heart, more difficult to see—
 or reflected in his eyes as youthful courage rare? 
 
Can you hear the other man, older yes, tall and lean,
 notch mute arrow and string his curved bow?
 Was language infant then, the world still raw and mean—
 that no words passed between them, oh so long ago?
 
Can you feel a seething warmth lick across your skin, 
 a glistening swath where death simmers hot and near?
 Were words so few that mere actions cradled sin—
 and in your throat you feel the choking grip of fear?
 
Can you see a selfish path where brave men often kill,
 and must in desperate haste decide another’s fate?
 Do you see a fiery blacksmith’s forge, hearts upon the anvil—
 shaping threatened lives, facing heaven’s yawning gate?
 
Can you feel survival's  strain, amid death’s insistent call,
 when the one with most to lose, smiled and stepped aside?
 Can you feel the forest’s breath release a sigh for all—  
 where two men chose civility over instinct to abide? 
 
Can you see a narrow path where many need to walk,
 and a pleasant widening grew, and many pause to talk?
 Where empty hands were grasped to show no harm was meant—
 and where a wordless truce between two men was heaven sent? 

Guilt

 
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 red chest in defiance.

We two, pretenders of brave big game hunters,
executed her with a BB gun, and laughed about it.

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

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