Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tip Jar!

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Thank you so much!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My Daughter Said Hi To A Bird Today

I was sitting on the purple bench
a few hours ago
feeling sleepy 
doing nothing
except thinking about money
and my failures,
yeah, I was thinking about money
and my failures.

I was sitting there
and I kept thinking and thinking about money, 
and I kept thinking and thinking about my failures,
when a bird landed in the driveway
and my four-year-old daughter said “Hi!”

I said, “did you just say hi to that bird?”
and she said “Yeah,” and she giggled
and ran off 
and kept playing.

Friday, December 29, 2017

It's Alright To Be White

George Washington was white,
Johnny Appleseed was white,
Abraham Lincoln was white,
so, it's alright to be white.

My father is white,
my mother is white,
my brothers and sisters are white,
so, it's alright to be white.

I don't want to disparage any other race
or push anyone out of his rightful place.
I only want to state the case
that, hey, it's alright to be white.

And when I got home from work tonight,
and kissed my wife, who is white,
and hugged my kids, who are white,
it occurred to me:
maybe our whiteness is more than merely alright.
Maybe our whiteness is an outright delight.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Last Time I Went to Tire Planet

they said what do you want
and I said a rotation and inflation
and they said well let me look at those tires
and I said okay.

So we went out there
and he said you ought to buy new tires
and I said no I don't want to
so he said alright we'll do the rotation
you just gotta wait.

So I went to the bathroom
and I went to the waiting room
and I sat down for a long time
and looked at pictures
in a magazine about people
who like to sit on patios
and pet their dogs and laugh
and hold glasses of wine
and wear sunglasses
and decorate their houses
with curtains and paintings and lighting fixtures
and sculptures and rugs and chairs
and appliances and coffee tables
and granite countertops and houseplants
and couches and pillows and lamps
and those pictures in that magazine
were pretty nice I guess
and then I went to the bathroom again

and then I almost picked up a magazine
about monster trucks but then I remembered
that I don't really like monster trucks.

There were a lot of other people there,
and one guy picked up that monster truck magazine
and looked at it for a long, long time.
I think he really liked monster trucks.

I kept waiting for the people to call my name
and once I thought they did call my name
so I went up there
but the guy said "No, I said Chester, not Lester."

My name is Lester.
So I sat back down.

Finally I got home.
A few days went by before I looked at my tires
and noticed they still looked under-inflated.
Maybe they never even got rotated.
How am I supposed to know what happened?

So now I should probably be thinking
about putting air in my tires
but I don't have an air compressor
and I don't know where my tire gauge is
and I don't want to go back to Tire Planet.

When I Get Away From the Suburban Street

When I get away from the suburban street,
miles away from the structure called home,
away from electrical wires, concrete,
places made of plastic, metal, styrofoam,
away from electronic devices
that buzz like a swarm of ferocious bees,
away from merchandise that entices
my fellowman to get down on his knees
and offer the pantheon of neon gods
the sacrifice of tradition and brains,
when I flee far from businessmen's frauds
and fall at last in the arms of the plains,
the wind reminds me that I have a soul.
Jesus Christ loves me.  Heaven is my goal.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Quatrain In Support of Props 416 and 417

There really should be some more roads,  
there really should be some more streets,  
for all of the trucks hauling loads, 
driven by men in uncomfortable seats.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Poem for Valentine's Day, 2016

My beautiful dear sweet Erin, my wife,
companion for the rest of my life,
we have a really good thing going.
Our marriage, you know, is great!
Because, whenever troubles start showing,
we talk about our feelings, and then,
we kiss, and then, we're friends again.
And sometimes we watch American Idol,
or we go to Trudy's ballet recital,
or we go to the mailbox, and we hold hands,
or we sit side by side on our purple bench
and we discuss dinner. We make plans!
So we drive to Superstition Ranch Market,
in our trusty rusty car, and find a place to park it.
We go inside and buy bell peppers, asparagus,
rhubarb, other food that's healthy for us,
like onions, carrots, apples, potatoes, a pear.
You really know how to poke the peaches, babe!
And we buy honey in a plastic bear,
go home, and put it all in our refrigerator,
so it stays fresh, so we can eat it later.
Actually, the garlic goes in the wicker basket,
but sometimes I forget, so I ask it:
"Erin, where do this garlic go?"
and I stand there, just kind of spacing out,
even though by now I really should know
that the garlic goes in the basket on the table.
Alas, my memory never has been stable.
Yet with everlasting long-suffering you say,
"into the basket the garlic goes, yesterday,
today, tomorrow, and always, my spouse.
But fear not, for you are so dear to me that
even if garlic were misplaced all around the house
by your forgetful hands, I would endure it.
And our pot of marital bliss? I would not stir it."
And putting garlic in the place that's proper,
I deliver my line, a real show-stopper:
"You, my wife, are my heart's only desire,
you're totally completely babe-a-licious, 
and there's nothing more I'd like to acquire
than your red-hot love and admiration.
Hey, how about we go on a vacation?"

The Right Amount of Pity

I drove over a hundred miles today,
on the way from San Tan Valley to Payson.
I make this trip a lot. I know the way
without getting directions from my phone.
I drove on Ocotillo, Ironwood, the 60,
the 202 North, a.k.a. the Red Mountain Freeway,
got in the right lane, exited on University,
left on Ellsworth, kept going all the way 
until Ellsworth became Usery Pass Road,
and then it was Bush Highway and the Beeline,
a left on Longhorn, down a dirt road.
I parked at last by ponderosa pines.
This is where I’ll sleep tonight, here, in a tent.
I drove and drove and drove because
the wilderness called me, so, I went.
I knew where refreshment was.
Here, I’m like a housebroken dog returning to the wild.
Here, I’m like a big-feathered bird who left the city.
Nature is rightly called “Mother”. I am its child.
Here, I consider the dying with the right amount of pity.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The widow sits in the restaurant alone,
pressing a few buttons on her new cell phone.
Her children got it for her, for her birthday.
They had it mailed, since they live so far away.

She doesn’t really know how to use the thing,
so she sets it down, and waits for it to ring.
It doesn’t ring.  Nobody’s calling.
But women her age are prone to falling

and her kids told her to keep it close by.
That phone may postpone the day that she’ll die.
The widow picks up a spoon, presses into mashed potatoes,
eats, slowly scoots around some cherry tomatoes,

around and around on the white dinner plate
and the clock on the wall says it’s getting late.
She stays in the booth, chewing a small bite,
and this is how she’ll spend most of her night

because the widow knows as soon as her meal is through,
she’ll have nowhere to go and nothing to do.
In a booth nearby tonight, there happens to be a widower.
He’s lonely too, but he looks away.  He doesn't talk to her.

Friday, September 1, 2017


No, it’s not a typo.
In San Tan Valley there’s a street named Germann
and it’s spelled G-E-R-M-A-N-N
with that superfluous “N” at the end
and as if the spelling wasn’t crazy enough
the way people pronounce it is the same
as the word “germane”
so it rhymes with “lion’s mane,”
and “ankle sprain,” and “insane”
as well as a lot of others words
like cane and rain and stain and brain
and grain and pain and crane and train
and oh boy when I list words that rhyme
I always have a good time.
And it’s kinda funny that Germann rhymes with “insane”
because both the spelling
and the pronunciation of “Germann” are insane
if you want my opinion.
And since I’m a poet
and not an etymologist
or a linguistic anthropologist
or even a guy with the motivation
to google “why did they name it Germann?”
I’ll give you my opinion
and every once in a while I’ll rhyme,
but not now.
So though I can’t explain
why it’s called “Germann,”
I can offer a few observations
some might consider insightful,
such as:
The name of the street at first is weird,
but the street itself isn’t weird.
The street is consistent, comfortable, reliable,
and I dare to say it’s motherly.
It’ll take you where you want to go.
I live around Germann, so I should know. 
And if you live around Germann long enough
or drive on the street with enough regularity
or associate with enough people
who are also familiar with Germann,
or if you look up and see the green sign
with “Germann” printed on it enough times
then you’ll think the name is perfect.
But most likely you won’t think about the name at all,
just like you don’t think about the word “bike”
when you ride a bike in the morning
of a bright and beautiful day.
“Germann” only sounds weird
if you stop to think about it,
which is okay to do occasionally,
but don’t do it too much while you drive
because you need to pay attention to the road.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Crush I Had in High School

I liked her.
She didn’t like me.
Oh, she liked me a little,
at least in some limited way,
at least on some brief occasions.
Well, maybe she didn’t like me at all.
She probably didn’t.
But, she must have liked me a little.
I mean, she did keep me around.
I waited and waited like a dog
for her to throw meat to the ground.
And sometimes there was meat:
She looked at me.
She talked to me.
She walked alongside me.
This was all so long ago.
I don’t think we ever had lunch together,
and we certainly never had dinner together.
I think it was a friendship.
There was also the meat she didn’t offer.
The things I stole from her.
Long looks at the skin beneath her skirt.
My hand on her thigh.
Heartbreaks never disappear.
They only move into deeper parts of ourselves.
Old passions bubble up at the strangest times,
like tonight,
when for some reason,
I’m thinking of her again.
I remember it all seemed very serious at the time,
but now, well, now...
it still seems pretty serious.
When it was over, when it was clear
there would never be a beginning,
I cried.
I cried on the bus,
I cried in my bedroom,
I thought the tears would never stop,
but eventually, they did,
and eventually, I grew up.
I’m a man now,
and so tonight, there will be no tears,
and not another word concerning her.

Monday, August 14, 2017

In the Eyes of Your Children

Worship the Creator of the Alligator,
but do not worship the alligator.
You may admire the alligator,
the movement of its body,
the feeling of its skin,
the long mouth and white teeth,
but save your prayer for God.
And when you pray to the Creator of the Alligator,
say within your heart,
“Thank you, God, for the alligator,
for I know that it is your creation,
and that all the animals on the Earth
are made for your own wise purposes,
and it is right for me to live among living things.”
It is good for you to admire the alligator.
Admire also the bird, the lion,
the snake, the ox, the dog,
and all the creatures on the Earth
and above the earth
and beneath the earth
and even admire the wasp
which your children fear,
for the buzzing insect
is also the handiwork of God.
Worship the Maker of the Mountain
but do not worship the mountain.
You may admire the mountain,
the sheer size of it,
the permanence of its location,
the line it makes against the sky,
but save your prayer for God.
And when you pray to the Maker of the Mountain,
say within your heart,
“Thank you, God, for the mountain,
for I know that it is your creation,
and that all the land formations on the Earth
are made for your own wise purposes,
and it is right for me to live on the land.”
It is good for you to admire the mountain.
Admire also the island, the hill,
the plain, the valley, the cave,
and all the geological arrangements
throughout every part of the earth
and even admire the handful of dirt
which falls between your children’s fingers,
for the scoop of earth
is also the handiwork of God.
Worship the Giver of the River,
but do not worship the river.
You may admire the river,
its winding course,
the rise and fall of the water,
and the fish that swim within it,
but save your prayer for God.
And when you pray to the Giver of the River,
say within your heart,
“Thank you, God, for the river,
for I know that it is your creation,
and that all the water on the Earth
is made for your own wise purpose
and it is right for me to live with water.”
It is good for you to admire the river.
Admire also the lake, the pond,
the ocean, the waterfall, the geyser,
and all the vessels and conveyers of water
in every inch of the earth
and even admire the gathering of raindrops
which your children splash in,
for the momentary puddle
is also the handiwork of God.
Worship the Grower of the Oak Tree,
but do not worship the oak tree.
You may admire the oak tree,
its dark and scaly bark,
its trunk towering toward heaven,
and the delicate nests within its branches,
but save your prayer for God.
And when you pray to the Grower of the Oak Tree,
say within your heart,
“Thank you, God, for the oak tree,
for I know that it is your creation,
and that all the vegetation on the Earth
is made for your own wise purpose
and it is right for me to live among vegetation.”
It is good for you to admire the oak tree.
Admire also the pine tree, the apple tree,
the palm tree, the bush, the cactus,
and all the plants that cover the earth
and even admire the blade of grass
which your children pluck
and hold to their lips,
for the small green sprout
is also the handiwork of God.
Live simply on the Earth,
and when God calls you in the quiet of the evening,
approach God who is in the heart of the alligator,
approach God who is on the mountain’s peak,
approach God who is in the sound of the rushing river,
approach God who is in the spirit of the oak tree,
and finally,
approach God who is in the eyes of your children.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Prickly Pear

If you cut off a paddle
and stick it in the ground
it’ll grow into another prickly pear.
See that little one over there?
When I moved here
there was nothing there,
just dirt.
Well a few years ago this big prickly pear
sprouted out another branch, another section,
a baby paddle off by itself,
climbing skyward from a root
that crawled along the surface of the ground.
It grew about a half a foot away
from the main thrust of the plant,
so it looked out of place.
It wasn't out of place
but I thought it looked out of place.
I believe that when a cactus sends forth
an unsightly paddle into the air,
the cactus knows what it’s doing.
In silence it knows
when and where to grow.
It’s the same way with trees.
Why do we consider pruning a necessity?
There’s one thing I wish arborists would admit:
(and I know that they know it)
trees take care of themselves,
and if they don’t, they die,
and that’s completely fine,
because maybe they go to Tree Heaven,
where everything, in general, is really really nice.
And if they don’t go to Tree Heaven
because such a place doesn’t exist,
well, that’s completely fine, too.
The guts of their woody skeletons
shelter shivering rabbits
and feed a million insects.
Why put trees on life support?
It’s the same way with hunting.
Some hunters fancy themselves caretakers
of a delicate balance of animal populations.
But would the ecosystem of the continent
collapse if all the hunters stayed home?
Overpopulation eventually works itself out.
But it’s really no use arguing this sort of thing.
Agriculture and landscaping have won
just like footwear has won.
Now we think it’s normal and even noble
to subject our plants to surgeries
and to buy our vegetation from nurseries.
And I’m a product of my generation.
I live in a Homeowner’s Association.
And so a few years ago,
I thought the new growth
on my big prickly pear looked out of place,
and I think I still think that,
but let’s not think about all this too hard.
I’m the landowner. This is my yard.
I can do what I want with my own darn cactus.
So I sliced that baby paddle out of the ground
and carried it way over there
with a pair of kitchen tongs,
scooted some gravel up against it,
making it stay upright.
I splashed it with a cup of water
and said “I don’t care if you die.”
And now look at that prickly pear!
It’s alive, and it’s got a couple of paddles now.
I never watered it after that first time.
The only water it got was from the rain.
I think it looks good.
I think it looks really good.
What do you think?
Do you like it?
Whether you like the prickly pear or not,
you have to respect it for hanging on
through the heat of summer,
the shortage of water,
the chill of winter
and a lifetime of isolation.
Well, you don’t have to respect it.
Maybe you don’t respect cactus at all.
But I do believe
that the thing within you
that clings to life
is a friend of the thing
within the prickly pear
that likewise clings to life.
We’re a lot like this little prickly pear,
cut off from bigger and older versions
of ourselves, planted in far-off places,
and given the power and the will to survive.
And for this purpose, survival, we grow thorns,
and we soak up every drop of rain
that falls upon us
and we let the water do its work
and we soak up every ray of sun
that falls upon us
and we let the sunlight do its work. 
See the fruit on this prickly pear?
The deep red bulbs on top,
popping out from the green paddles?
You can eat the fruit of a prickly pear.
Not many people do, but I have twice.
Once when I was a kid, we had just moved
from northern California to southern Arizona.
I didn’t know what cactus was
but I went to school one day
and heard the teacher say
you can eat the fruit of a prickly pear
so I went home and told my Mom
you can eat the fruit of a prickly pear.
So I went out there and whacked the fruit
with a stick and they tumbled to the ground.
I put on gloves and picked up the fruit
but the stickers went through the gloves
and I got tiny stickers in the tips of my fingers.
Three hours later my Mom brought me toast
and spread on top was the prickly pear jelly.
I tasted it and she said, “Do you like it?”
I said, “Yeah.”
She said, “Good. Enjoy it,
because I’m never making it again.
My fingers are full of stickers.”
And the other time I ate prickly pear fruit
was about a year ago.
I got it from this prickly pear right here.
It was pretty good. 
I don’t know why I don’t eat it more.
I let so much of it go to waste.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Foreign Things

They tell me Shakespeare was a genius
and I'm sure they must be right,
but I don't want to read Shakespeare,
not now, or on any day or night.

Neither do my mother, father
children, neighbors, friends, wife,
co-workers, casual acquaintances,
or anyone else I've met in my life,

except for my English teachers,
like the starry-eyed Mr. Harrington.
He was unusual.  Literature 
was a battle he wanted to win.

If I could see Mr. Harrington now,
if I could conjure up his ghost,
I'd ask him a few questions, 
but here's what I want to ask most:

How pretty is a planet made of diamonds
we'll never get close to seeing?
How pristine was the Garden of Eden
when Adam and Eve went walking?

"Very pretty, and very pristine,"
I'm sure his answer would be.
Shakespeare.  A diamond planet.  Eden.  
These are foreign things to me.

I can't understand them.  Yes, it may be
that foreign things approach divinity,
but I'd rather hear somebody fiddle,
or watch American Idol on TV.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Also Like Clams

I like to sit in my house 
and sleep in my house
and water the potted plants in my house

but I don’t always like to water the plants
because sometimes the spray bottle malfunctions 
and sometimes I don’t wanna walk around
to get to the needy plants.
Maybe I should replace them with plastic plants.
One of these days I really might do that.

I just want to sit down in my house
and lay down in my house
and enter into other body positions,
all of which are comfortable,
on various pieces of furniture,
all of which are fluffy,
as I drift between wakefulness and sleep,
sleep and wakefulness.

My goal is to become inert.
Is that so much to ask?

And I don’t wanna go to work
because I don’t like working
but I have to go to work
so I can pay for this house 
that I like to sit in so much.

And maybe that’s how it is for you too.

You know what my favorite animal is?
The sloth.

I also like clams.
Most of the time they sit around doing nothing
and I hear they’re happy.