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

Widow


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

Germann


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


I
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.
II
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.
III
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.
IV
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.
V
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.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Like My Front Yard

I like my front yard more than my backyard
because there’s a big mess in the backyard.
Dead grass, dead trees, dead bushes,
a sea of weeds I wish was dead.

If only my backyard was a miniature Dead Sea,
with all the physical properties of the real Dead Sea,
which I hear is very low-maintenance, 
then I would no longer suffer from an abundance 
of high-maintenance things, at least in my backyard.
Then life would be a little less hard.

But really, I already no longer suffer from 
an abundance of high-maintenance things 
because the high-maintenance things are dead
because I never maintained them
because I was too busy crying
for reasons unrelated to landscaping
so my grass and trees and bushes started dying
and now I only suffer from guilt.  
And shame.
And lactose intolerance.
And bankruptcy. 
And cholera. 

OK maybe not cholera,
but something’s definitely wrong with my small intestine,
and my large intestine isn’t feeling well either.
In fact, I think I have more intestines than everybody else,
more intestines that are all diseased.

Something should be done about those weeds.
They snarl like hungry cats.

I wonder how much thirty tons of salt would cost.
That should be enough to transform 
my Living Sea of Weeds
into the New Dead Sea.

They could dump it all in there with a big truck.
My backyard could become an attraction.

My front yard is already an attraction.
Not that it gets a widespread enthusiastic reaction,
but, at least it attracts me.
I go out there and sit on the purple bench
and look at my little piece of ground.
Gravel, cactus, rugged vegetation.

And I like my front yard because
sometimes my neighbor Cliff walks over,
sometimes dragging a garden hose,
sometimes rolling a trash barrel to the street,
and we have a conversation
about traffic or weather variations

or the Home Owner’s Association
and I like Cliff.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I Wanna Kill Your Queen


I want to start a chess club. 

I’m going to start a chess club
and if you want to be in the chess club
then you can be in the chess club.

Just come to my house
and play chess with me
and then that’s how 
you get to be in my chess club.

We can have snacks.
We can listen to music.

But I’m the only one 
who gets to pick the music 
because I’m the President 
and because it’s my chess club 
because I’m the one who started it
and actually I’m not the President anymore
because I’m the King,
the King of the chess club.

Do you like the Violent Femmes?
If you’ve never heard of them, that’s OK.
I can just play their music 
and if you don’t like the Violent Femmes
then maybe you should quit my chess club 
because that’s the only music 
I want to listen to.

And you shouldn’t get mad
if I kill your queen
because if I can kill your queen
then I’m going to do it.

I’m going to slit her throat.
I'll watch the blood run down, down, down, 
making a delightful sight of Her Majesty's royal gown.

I’m like a hungry lion.

We meet Friday nights at nine.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I Wanna Name My Son Falcor

Well now my wife's pregnant 
and the doctor says a boy is in store
and you wanna know what I wanna name him? 

Falcor.

Remember Falcor from The Neverending Story?
The luck dragon?
His head was kinda like a dog head.
He was so awesome, man.
Have you seen that movie?

People wear superhero T-shirts a lot now.
People put superhero stickers on their cars
and trucks and binders and furniture and whatever,
and they sew superhero stuff onto their backpacks.
I see it all the time, all over the place.
Superhero logos and stuff
and Star Wars stuff and Star Trek stuff
and Lord of the Rings stuff and Harry Potter stuff.

And then there's all the rock and roll stuff:
hats, mugs, posters, mousepads, cups,
bumperstickers, car window decals,
whatever stuff they can print a band logo on
well that's what they print a band logo on.
The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles,
Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Grateful Dead,
I see their names all over the place.

And remember when John Lennon said
the Beatles were more popular than Jesus?

And remember Shaq? 
Shaquille O’Neal? 
The basketball player? 
He had the Superman shield tattooed on his arm!
And he was a grown man!  A very grown man!

This stuff is everywhere.
Everyday there’s more.
Joshua.  Thomas.  Paul.
Those names are a bore.

So I don’t see what’s so bad about naming my next kid Falcor.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Thursday in April, 2017

Woke up, made pancakes, ate the pancakes,
ate an orange and drank water.
That was my breakfast.

Drove Trudy to school, drove back home,
walked to the park with Greta and Violet.
Grass, birds, trees, slides, swings, the breeze.
Nice weather this time of year.
My daughters stuck twigs into the sand.
Went home.  Cleaned.

I did a lot of other things today
that weren't particularly interesting.

And I probably shouldn't leave
my wife out of this poem... so...
Her name is Erin
and I love her.
Hi honey!  Smooches!

And as I sit here in the driveway,
approaching the close of another day,
watching Trudy, Greta, and Violet play,
I am content.
I know the perfect thing to say:

Thank you God.
Today was full of meaning.
Today was a day of peace.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Lady on The Bag of Raisins


She’s got a bonnet!
Remember bonnets?  Where did they go?
And why does her appearance excite me so?

She's happy.  She makes me happy!
Really my day was kinda crappy
but then I found this bag of raisins
and I saw her:

a woman surrounded by sunbeams, 
her head tossed back, pink lips slightly parted,
brown hair curling playfully down her shoulder,
her clean white blouse billowing a bit in the wind,
and in her hands she holds a basket of grapes.
Listen!  The lady speaks!

“Do you want some of my grapes?
You can have some of my grapes.
Or should we wait until they’re raisins?”

What should I say to her?
What do I say to this woman
who so suddenly entered my life,
offering me grapes and sunshine?

Should I tell her of my strife,
how I run into the fields alone,
how the doves fly away,
but the black vultures stay?
Would it give her a fright
if I portrayed myself right,
how in the dark of night 
I claw at the dirt
until my fingers hurt
and how I curse at the sky
but can't explain why,
and how I just want her
to hold me while I cry?

No. I don’t want to scare her away.
So instead, I say:

"Sorry, I don't mean to stare.
I just really really like your hair."