Thursday, December 31, 2009


The big wheel’s gone
around again -
another new year’s eve
to spend
with tuxes, ties and white balloons,
the ticking clock where
midnight looms;

I wish that I could be
with all the sequined party dress
es, champagne flowing,
deli trays,
hangovers built
to last for days;
Festive? Well, yes, I suppose,
I’ve seen the tournament
of rose and
bowl games and
counting down,
Dick Clark, Times Square,
the ball

and then another
newer year.
Hope and Promise?
and all the sunshine you can stand.
Forgive me, please,
but as the band
burps a boozy Auld Lang Syne
I’d just as soon
be just as fine
were it to pass as quietly
as starlight bouncing
off the sea.

Not much changes year to year
except a number
there and here.

On it spins,
to how our days and months are spent.
The governments, both just and cruel,
lumber and proclaim
their rule while in the deepest
darkest dim of all the armored hearts
of men
any change
that may
keeps no date
or time
or place.

It simply looks into
its face and deems
itself in silent
steel resolve;
to now,
to here,
to turn -

All we need to drink and dance
is something close to
half a chance
and why not seize some grand
events to shore up shaky confidence
and new years? As good a time as any is
to believe one can keep promises
that otherwise one cannot keep.

When midnight comes
I will not sleep.

I will kiss and wish all well
to party horns and fire bells.

But in my own
reticent heart
where hope is born and
pieced from parts
of broken plans,
expired dreams,
and tiny glints from
flashlight beams,

a welcome
eyelash wish may light;
not of the new,
but of the right.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

S' Nickel Us

Sander Klaus comes in me door
as I ain’t got no chimney -
we set up and juke and jaw,
throw down some bones and whiskey.

Sander Klaus, he gettin’ old,
he too fat fer his good;
he ask me if I want his job,
says I, don’t think I could.

I’s jangled by them jingle bells
and can’t find no appeal
in givin’ all them presents out
to folks says I’s inreal.

Sander Klaus, he tiny smile,
his face get sorta sad;
he turn out toward the window an’
I starts to gettin’ mad,

but he just shake his snowy head
and gen’ly wave his hand;
says he, the magic ain’t to fly –
s’to find somewheres to land.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We are living Christmas
this year
huddled freezing against
the cold and
following yonder star
along deserted roads
to be staticized
in some small town
or other

there’s no room
left for us here
so we send out
greeting cards and résumés
deep and crisp and even
hoping to spark
some small beginning
or other

and farther
into the hills
there isn’t much
to watch over anymore
to certain poor shepherds
straining to hear
above the snarl
of empty stomachs
the voice of some small angel
or other

We are living Christmas
this year
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
boxing it up and

in tempest, storm and wind
knocking on doors
and finding no room
even though
the baby is coming
Christmas is coming
past-dues are coming
and we are
still proceeding
we are
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
but even so
holding onto
this holy tide of Christmas
with bone-white fingers,
holding out for
comfort and joy
truth and grace
goodness and light
or until this long
lonely exile
is over
and we wake up
to some heavenly host,
new and glorious morn,
or any stray
hanging around
that might herald
unto us
some small hope,
some small
or other

[for the 32 people i work with who lost their jobs this week. i am so, so sorry.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quarterbacks & Homecoming Queens

He’s holed up in the weight room
he lifts like a machine
she’s holed up in the bathroom
she polishes her preen

It’s Anywhere, America
forever seventeen
and everybody’s heroes
are quarterbacks, homecoming queens

They know how laugh politely
golden chain around their throat
always know some little secrets
that the rest of us just don’t

Playing catch with freckled kids
braiding heads of little girls
bored with everything we want
dreams of water tower worlds

Any given Friday night
any field of dim Holsteins
pickups flying through the black
with quarterbacks, homecoming queens

Trying hard to be so good
intentions pave the way
holding doors and thinking
daddy’s barn is full of hay

Some kids play in marching bands
some just can’t find their place
some wear someone else’s clothes
a tense uneven face

Might get smiles from their folks
and letters from the deans
But they never go to parties
with quarterbacks, homecoming queens

The smart kids all go off to school
the simple tend the store
and the ones that fall between them
either go for less or more

While some are frozen where they stand
in jerseys, skirts and jeans
with the quick and easy smiles
of quarterbacks, homecoming queens

Always and never are two words
a person ought not say
but time’s got this way of winking
makes you look the other way

He still holds a record somewhere
petals pressed into a book
they might tell you all about them
but can’t get themselves to look

Each play from twenty years ago,
each pump fake and cutback,
every time she called out
from a stool on the track,

Every dance he asked her to,
the movies that they missed,
each touchdown and tiara,
and each stolen summer tryst

Live behind the eyes somehow
they’re never far away
and probably were nice back then
but mean much more today

And when I pray I thank the Lord
my blessings did not ring
with speed or strength or with a face
that ever launched a thing

And then I say a quiet word
across the flood-lit greens
for heavy heads in paper crowns -
for quarterbacks, homecoming queens.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sitting Room

Shot the dog in September.
Now it’s
Not very much
I can do
but remember.

Found an old note
in my corduroy
Just something silly
she sat down
and wrote.

I watch from my window
the kids in the snow.
How quickly they climb
and their squeals as they go.

I watch from my window
the grey fade to dark.

Wait for a phone call,
a footstep,
a bark.