Thursday, March 31, 2016

Made You Look

Kittens and puppies,
babies and butterflies,
and all the precious

Are designed by
biology to make you
want to protect them
from harm.

It’s why cute kitten
videos, and laughing babies,
do so well on the internet.
We’re biologically drawn to it.

You probably thought this
would be a flowery poem,
about all the cute things we

It’s not.
It’s about you and your
selective love.
It’s about me and mine.

There’s no shame in looking,
or wanting, or even protecting
the lovely things in our lives,
we’re biologically designed to do it.

So I can’t hold it against you too
much when you prefer a picture of
a baby holding a kitten, getting licked
by a puppy over a story about politics.

Or a poem about things we feel from
day to day, or an essay about the
importance of tolerance in the face of

But I want to hold it against you,
I really do. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

All Hail those that Hail

“Preparation is fundamental to accomplishment,” said the candidate. The crowd cheered and whistled, clapped and shouted their approval, “Our nation must be prepared for the challenges ahead and in that preparation we will be accomplished!”

The crowd cheered with more enthusiasm, more hooting and hollering, whistles and noisemakers. They were whipped up into a frenzy of nationalistic pride.

“We must have a bold vision of the future, not an idolized view of the past. We must remember that we came from the hardest of backgrounds which only serves us in the coming future. A future of grand accomplishments and bold vision,” shouted the silver haired candidate.

                A few “Amen’s,” and “You said it brother’s,” came from the crowd, igniting a flurry of applause from the frothing crowds.

                “The failures of the past cannot be the failures of the future and we must strive to stop those failures before they fail us again,” said the candidate as he pounded his fist on the podium.

                “This country will not fall into the traps of the narrow-minded views of the elite few, but into the views of the minds of the many that our founders had intended it to run in. A country moving in the direction of progress and wealth through a strong vision of the future,” shouted the candidate.

                A pregnant woman gave birth in the aisle as she shouted and screamed her approval and devotion to her candidate. A supporter dropped his rally sign and snatched up the baby from the convention center floor. The baby was still screaming and covered in afterbirth. The supporter raised the baby up toward the candidate. The candidate flashed his usually thumbs up pose and toothy grin.

                “A new child for the neo-future,” said the candidate as he then pointed at the child. The crowd was wild with passion and shouting in voices to shake the foundations of the convention hall.  The candidate nodded to his secret military forces that swiftly moved into position to snatch the baby and the mother and remove them from the convention hall. Another crew arrived to clean the floors.

                “Isn’t this the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen? This is how we can move this country forward into an era of futurism like that’s never been seen before. All it takes is the same sort of devotion to your country and the future won’t know what hit it,” said the candidate, “now let’s get out there and win this for those future generations of children!”

Confetti rained down from the convention hall ceiling and balloons bounced gently off the head of the delegates.  A band started playing the candidate’s official military march music as he raised his hands over his head in a victory salute.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mr. Universe is Sooooooo Funny

                Because the universe is not without a sense of irony, my little “Unlucky Socks” poem from yesterday was hilariously brought to life this morning.  I just got out of the shower and dried off, put on a fresh pair of boxer shorts and a nice white tee-shirt and turned to walk out of my bathroom. I then stubbed my right grand toe on the door jamb of the bathroom doorway. I saw the white flash and the stars were dancing on circus balls before my eyes.  I lunged for the walls of the hallway for support.

                “God damn unlucky boxers,” I shouted as I bit my lip and did the holy shit I’m in so much pain right now I wish God would just smite me stance.

                A stubbing of the toe would normally not be so bad except my grand right toe is broken, and has been since 1995. I kicked a metal folding chair across a room once in moment of temper and broke my grand toe right down the middle. I was told by the doctor, a few days later because I figured I could just walk it off, but then I couldn’t walk, that I had successfully destroyed my grand toe and frankly, it’ll stop hurting but it’ll never really heal. It’ll always be broken.

                “Awesome. Awesome,” I remember thinking, “Broken Toe Forever would be a great band name.”

                So since those heady days of youth I’ve had a broken toe (I have gout in the other toe/foot, but that’s a different story.) and I’ve limped around like a WWI veteran. I actually thought it was sort of cool to have something so characteristically me; something so identifiable that friends could see me a block or two away because of my curious limping gait. It was just how I was going to have to walk for the rest of my life and I just had to accept it.

                Time does heal all wounds and eventually I was back to walking pretty normally, depending on the weather and what was going on in ye olde gout foot and life just went on. Yet in the back of my mind I was always cautious about my poor broken toe. I tried not to do too much that would stress it out, or cause the break to get worse.  I’m a cautious survivor. I’m no hero though.

                So this morning, when the universe needed a chuckle, circumstances aligned to cause the stubbing of my poor toe. A poor toe which really has been through so much, from going to the market to an ironic universal joke.  The rest of the story involves the agony of putting on a sock. A pseudo-lucky sock I hope, followed by my boot. (Yes I still wear Doc Marten’s. Clearly the 90’s never ended for me.) I’m sure I made my typical, “well, I’m a man and I’ll just have to grin and bear this curious injury of fate as best I can,” face.  It’s important for men to hide their pain behind a teeth gritting smile.

                The pain has lessened some, driving didn’t help much but now that I’m sitting and not putting too much pressure on it I seem to be doing a bit better. My cautious limp has returned though and I’m walking like I did when I was in my twenties, for a little while anyway. It will eventually pass and I’ll be back to normal, but those boxers are now in the “unlucky” pile.   In any regard, I did want to thank the universe for at least reading my poem yesterday and devising a hysterical prank on me.  Thumbs up universe, you got me. Just you wait though…just, you, wait…

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Unlucky Socks

I have these clothes,
certain clothes, that I
worry about. I worry they
may be unlucky.

I stand in front of my closet and
look in on the shirts hanging and
try to decide if one shirt is
less lucky than another.

Was I wearing this shirt the last 
time I got laid? Or was this the
shirt that bore witness to the
breaking of my heart?

There are certain socks,
boxers, tee-shirts, sweaters,
that can’t be worn together
because the combination is unlucky.

It isn’t about matching or
coordinating, it’s about apparel fate.
Is this an unlucky pair of socks? Will
things go my way in these pants?

Was I wearing this when so and so
died? Were these boxer shorts
responsible for that

Did she love me in these pants?
Will this shirt repel the object of my
Will I be wearing these socks when I
kick the bucket?

It’s hard to get dressed some days,
when a few outfits have some
unlucky memories attached to them.
Maybe I should dress in the dark.

Although I’d probably trip over something
on the floor and stumble into
a wall and crack my head open
and bleed to death.

“Damn unlucky socks,” would say the
paramedics who arrive seven
days later to find my corpse
crumpled on the floor.

“If only he had been barefoot,”
another paramedic would say.
Then they’d let the fire men in
to burn all the cursed clothing.

I look at my clothes like talismans,
they either help me or they hinder me
and it’s completely irrational and
makes me wonder how I got that way.

But then, I’m not wearing a
lucky shirt today, so of course
I’d think that. A lucky shirt wouldn’t
worry about it at all.

Maybe tomorrow
I’ll wear a lucky shirt
and things will be different,
unless the socks are unlucky.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Violent Past

                There has always been violence in our world. The Earth itself was crafted from the violent churning of the Cosmos. It is almost in the nature of the denizens of Earth to be violent. It seems to be something in our genetic code, passed down through the stardust in our DNA. We’re violent and never seem to learn or evolve from that taste for violence.  Yet we can.

                Violence still solves nothing. (I’m not concerning myself with evolutionary violence, or natural violence between prey and hunters.) The murder of innocents for a religious belief, or any belief really, is no way to solve an ideological conflict. The only time it has ever terrifyingly worked is through genocide. One group of human beings has to hate another group of humans beings so completely that they wipe out any trace of their existence from history. And to what end? Just to an end really.  History only has a memory as long as those who remember.

                Alexander the Great conquered a huge portion of the globe in his drive for Global control, he died at 25 and his Empire was split up into various factions and sections and even warred with each other. The Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and so on and so forth, history has shown that no people will be dominated for very long by a foreign power.  All that violence, bloodshed and terror upon the regular peoples stuck in the middle was eventually for nothing. The blood of heroes and martyrs has soaked the ground under our feet and for what? What was it for? Land? Gold? Profit? Treasure? My God can beat up your God? What purpose did it serve? A kings glory? A theological victory? Or just to build mountains of the dead.  Empires fail.

                I will admit there have been some interesting technological advances through warfare. Penicillin for one thing is a war-time discovery. There were even some clever men that used war to come up with fairly fantastic ways to preserve food and improve some existing ideas. Yet none of those Empires, tyrants, Kings, what have you, lasted.  In some cases, when the cause was indeed a moral one, a just one, the only response to violence was violence. I can only use the Greek defense of Athens to preserve Democracy and World War II because seriously, something had to be done about Hitler, to justify the violence of war. But look how we had to end WWII. We had to be the only nation to ever actually use a nuclear device on another nation to end it. The death toll was astounding. And now, we’re allies. In fact, the Japanese and the Americans were almost always Allies, except during WWII. The Japanese were our Allies in WWI.  But I’m off my point…

                I don’t see the point in attacking innocent people who are just going to work, the dentist, or the store because you don’t like how some other country believes in a different God than you.  Blowing up a train station, a mall, a building doesn’t make you a hero to a cause; it just makes you an asshole.  An asshole so incapable of understanding mercy, forgiveness, decency and what honor really is that we have no pity for your grievances. We don’t care that you feel oppressed. We don’t care that the education of women is somehow evil to you. We don’t care that you don’t like pork. We don’t care about your causes, because you’re just an asshole. Or even a whole nation of assholes. Assholia.

                Earth is small and as far as I can tell no one is making any new ones near-by. We have to share this blue marble in space whether we want to or not. I implore these assholes to stop spilling the blood of innocent people.  I implore them to resist the use of terror and bullying to try and get their way and to look to men of peace, of reason, of surety for guidance and abandon the violence that has kept you in darkness.

                “An eye for an eye only makes all men blind.” 

Friday, March 18, 2016


The hum-drum blahs
and the so-so mehs
with the sighing,
shrugging, “ehs”.

The razzberry exhales,
mixed with the open
mouthed Y-A-A-W-N-S.

A throat gurgler followed
with a scratchy clearing
“Ahem, Ah-Hem!”
A sniffle.

“Snap, ker-snap”, of the
The muted, “ker-pop”, of
a shoulder or back.

A hacking cough,
a rattled nose breath,
a smacking of lips,
another cough.

The “ishy, ishy” sound
of someone scratching an
itch on their arm
through their sleeve.

A bouncing knee,
a tapping toe,
a clicking pen,
a rapping of fingers.

“Okay, let’s start this
meeting. Oh, we’re still
waiting on a few more?
Okay, we’ll wait…”

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Green Looks Good on You

                From Nellie Bly to Neil Armstrong to me, Irish Americans have helped to shape America.  At the very beginning of our nation Irish immigrants helped flesh out the Theory of Democracy and bring about the formation of a new style of Government of the people.  The Irish are deeply woven into the fabric of American life. It’s no wonder we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with all the fervor and passion as our families across the pond.

                The Irish immigrant came to America as far back as the Revolutionary War and their descendants have continued to blend into the American culture so fully that it’s hard to know where one Irishman begins and American-man ends. (Ameriman?) It was the Irish Immigrants goal to become part of the American society and leave behind the tyranny of British rule and oppression. They wanted a better life for themselves and for their kin and sacrificed nearly everything to achieve it. It’s no wonder they dove so hard into becoming American that they changed the very nature of America.

                A nation of White Anglo Saxon Protestants suddenly had to confront the idea of White Anglo Catholics, which was a terrible shock to the establishment.  It meant that things were going to change and very few felt that America needed to change. So the Irish were bullied, beaten, impoverished and frankly told their kind wasn’t welcome. It didn’t stop them though. The Irish kept coming through sheer determination, stubbornness or a misunderstanding of local laws and always met with a wink and a smile.

                It wasn’t long before the Irish were running whole police departments, fire departments, and local governments and so on and so forth as we all know. They understood the need to provide a support structure within their own communities to rise up and get a solid foothold in the American Dream. It wasn’t easy and unfortunately, it wasn’t always moral. There were certainly times when the Irish were less than tolerant of other races, creeds or religious beliefs. A fact that I’m not proud of, even when it rears its ugly head in today’s society.  The Irish are certainly not above sin. If anything, we have the capacity to excel in sin.

                However, for all our faults, the Irish have always yearned for that most precious American value, Freedom; Freedom from any form of tyranny and its vile wages. It is the Irish nature to buck authority, to question the values of government, to seek out meaning in the toils of everyday living. The Irish bear the weight of the worries of the country on their shoulders with a wry sense of humor and a tear in their eye. The Irish passions are furious for justice among people and a drink in every hand. (Barring any pre-disposition to alcoholism of course.)

                I know Irish from every political party and background you can think of and they all live and die by their beliefs and it takes a mighty shaking for them to change their minds at times. Sometimes their Irish stubbornness gets the better of them and they have to learn their lesson the hard way, but that’s how it’s always been for the Irish in America; the hard way.  It’s that hard way through brought us the likes of The Roosevelt’s, The Kennedy’s, The Henry Ford’s, the Bill Gates, the other  33.3 million Americans—10.5% of the total population— that reported Irish ancestry in the 2013 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. There’s only 6.4 Million Irishmen in Ireland!

There’s no one right way to be Irish. You don’t have to speak Gaelic or have lived in Ireland for an extended period.  You just have to know some of your history, be proud of your heritage, know who your Great Aunts and Uncles and Great Great Grand-Parents were, and why they came to America in the first place. On St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t even have to have a chromosome of Irish genetics in you to be considered Irish. You just have to respect your immigrant past, be passionate, loving, and strive for the freedoms America has promised for the betterment of your progeny.  

So Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2016! Cheers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

You're Beautiful in Your Wrath, America

Your anger is
something I don’t
You’re not angry
at what I think you would be.

I don’t know why you’re
filled with rage at hope,
intelligence, and understanding.
Instead of being mad at
ignorance, hate and racism.

Why do you embrace
Or Blind devotions
to dogmatic ideas from the
savage past?

I want and hope for the best for
you seem to want what’s
best for only you.
I don’t get it.

The rage underneath
your misunderstanding,
beneath your supposed
disenfranchisement has
me at a loss.

Why are you so angry?
I’ve been down.
Hurt and isolated.

And I’ve come out a
little wiser and a little
stronger and I don’t
blame anyone
but myself.

I’m flabbergasted.
I’m flummoxed.
I’m flustered,
at how angry you

I wish I could remove
the veil of rage and cynicism
and replace it with the optimism
we are all so very capable of.  

We are not enemies,
we just do not agree
on openness and inclusion
in a modern and evolving

What’s makes you mad
about progress? Civil and
societal progress seems to
be something you’re afraid of,
is that why you’re mad?

The 1950’s are over and
even the ‘50’s weren’t
the ‘50’s.  I’d rather idealize
the future than the past.
It’s where we’re headed regardless.

Why go filled with uninformed
rage and hate?
Why not try to light our way
forward with wisdom and

But sometimes, you do look
pretty when you’re angry.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Advice from the Mountain Top

                “There’s truth in everything,” said the Guru on the mountain top.
                “Except lies,” said the traveler.
                “Even in lies, there is truth,” said the Guru.

                The traveler re-crossed his legs in front of the aged Guru. It was sort of rude to make a guy climb a mountain and then have to sit cross legged on a wicker mat on a hard stone floor in a slightly chilly cavern. The traveler wiped his nose on the sleeve of his heavy winter climbing jacket.

                “I hate to disagree after the journey I’ve had. I mean, three guys died trying to get up here to seek your wisdom, but, yeah. Lies are not truths. Lies are lies,” said the traveler.

                The Guru opened his icy blue eyes and looked at the dirty traveler on the ground in front of him.

                “In the liar there are truths, so in the lie there is truth,” said the Guru.

                The traveler took his thick mittens off and tossed them on the ground in front of him.

                “Yeah, no. That’s not true. A liar is a liar. The truth is the truth. Listen I’m not sure what kind of nonsense you’ve been shoveling up here in you mountain lair, but I’m not all that impressed,” said the traveler as he pulled the wet woolen cap from his head.
                “All men have a heart, and a heart can only beat, that is the truth of man,” said the Guru.

                The traveler smirked and looked around the torch lit cavern. It was cold and barren except for the very comfortable looking Golden pillow to sit on and heavy blankets covering the frail old Guru.

                “Right, the heart is an organ. Its only purpose is to move blood around the body, brain and lungs. It wouldn’t know a lie from the truth. Hearts can’t make decisions. It’s just an organ specifically designed through evolution to perform a specific task of moving blood,” said the traveler.
                The Guru shifted his weight on his golden pillow. He leaned forward and stared at the traveler.

                “What’s this? What are you doing,” asked the traveler.
                “I am trying to see your heart,” said the Guru.
                “Do you have x-ray vision? Do I need a lead vest for my sensitive parts,” asked the traveler.

                The Guru leaned back and sighed. He said something in his native language that the traveler didn’t comprehend.

                “Hey, c’mon now, I’m serious. Three guys, albeit I didn’t know all that well, died climbing up here to see you. They told me you would be able to answer my questions, to help me find out who I am and what my purpose is. So far, I mean, c’mon, this has been like, a joke,” said the traveler.

                “Let me ask you, have you come here seeking knowledge or wisdom?”

                The traveler rubbed his face in his hands, scratched at his scruffy beard and sighed. He reached into his jacket pocket and took out his wallet. He opened the wallet and took out a picture of an attractive woman. He stood from the wicker mat and approached the Guru.

                “This is why I’m here. She told me that I didn’t know who I was and that since I didn’t know who I was or know how to love myself, she couldn’t love me. So she left me. She went off and married some douche-bag plastic surgeon. Who apparently does know how to love himself,” said the traveler.

                The Guru took the small photo from the traveler and looked at in the torch light. The woman was blonde and blue eyed, a typical American looking woman to the Guru.

                “She’s pretty,” said the Guru
                “Damn right she’s pretty,” said the traveler as he took the photo back and returned it to his wallet.

                The traveler stepped back down toward his wicker mat and sat down. He looked down at the dingy floor of the cavern.

                “I just wanted her to love me,” said the traveler, “Isn’t that a good enough reason to travel thousands of miles from home, meet some crazy explorer guys, who then die climbing a mountain on the way to have their universal questions answered, and then have to put up with some crazy old geezer’s nonsense about truth and lies, and to survive all that? Isn’t that self love? I mean, doesn’t it clearly show that I can love and I want to love and be loved? That I’m worthy of love?  Maybe worthy of love from someone better than a vapid woman who runs off with a frigging plastic surgeon. I deserve better than that right? I’m not the best guy in the world but I’m not the worst. I can be loved and I know how to love in return. Isn’t that what it’s all about,” asked the traveler.

                The Guru nodded and closed his eyes again. He folded his hands in front of him and took a meditative pose.

                “So what’s the answer Pops? What am I doing here,” asked the traveler.

                The Guru opened his eyes, which were now yellow. They looked like a tiger’s eyes. The traveler sat up straight and then squinted slightly at the change in the old Guru.

                “You came for wisdom and I believe you found it. Go now. Be your own truth,” said the Guru.

                The torch lights dimmed out and somewhere in the cavern a gong clanged.

                “God damn it,” said the traveler. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pressure Adjustment

I just need a second,
I just need a minute,
to catch my breath,
to get my head on straight.

I just need to rest my hands
on my bent knees,
I just need to stretch and arch
my back.

I just need to knead my eyes
with my fingers,
I just need to scratch my head
furiously for a bit.

I just need a deep sigh,
I just need a quick knuckle-crack,
to get alright,
to be okay.

I just need to rest my eyes,
I just need to adjust my chair,
to focus,
to relax.

I just need to roll my head on my neck,
I just need to drop my shoulders,
to alleviate the stress,
to stop the pressure.

I just need to inhale through my nose,
I just need to exhale through my mouth,
to breathe,
to breathe.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Strange Bedfellows

Poetry and Politics would
not normally be something
you see together, unless it’s on
a button or bumper.  

Like Ike,
Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,
All the way with LBJ,
and my personal favorite,
“Let Well Enough Alone" – 1900 U.S. presidential slogan of William McKinley

I’m not kidding, that last one
is totally real.

Yet, there is poetry to politics.
It takes a deft hand and skillful
mind to craft sentences that are
both true and un-true at the same time.

Like any art form, politics,
is in the eye of the beholder. A poem
about a President written in fecal matter can be
startling, insightful and offensive all at once.

You may think it vile, but it’s
hard to ignore the impact it may have had
on you. You may love it and think it’s a
brilliant statement, also affecting your life.

The difference I think with poetry and politics
is I can describe a vagina with flowery language,
maybe quote Hemingway, throw a bird on it,
and no one’s life is radically changed.

Politics however are all about the words,
words with consequences. Words that have
weight. As a poet, I’m not trying to change to world,
I’m just writing about my place in it.

If I like, I can be somewhat irresponsible with what
I type. I’m not running for any public office.
I can be crass or noble without much consequence.
It doesn’t, really, matter.

Although I do feel a certain
onus to be entertaining, or at
least mildly thought provoking,
That’s my deal.

A politician however, a poet of
the public will, must restrain their
urges to sully, muddy or stupefy.
It’s a bigger deal.

I’ve always thought poetry,
should serve to elevate the senses
in some way, be eye opening and
thought provoking.

Politics should aspire to do the
same thing. Then the Poetry of
Politics might not seem like such
strange bedfellows.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Emergency Exit

                Darrell stared at the emergency exit. The bright red EXIT sign flickered as the fluorescent bulb twitched. The lecturer continued speaking about how important it was to complete the right forms while adding the directives to pass the competency dialogue markers in the system wide 220 radiance focuser. Darrell yawned and shook his head. He had dreams of escaping through the emergency exit. Actually he dreamed there was some Die Hard type emergency situation so his inner Bruce Willis could shine through and Mary in Accounting would throw herself at him with wild lust.

                The lecture finally ended from Darrell’s boss. He hoped he could just go back to his cubicle and get back to doing his job, but it was Thursday, which meant it was time for the monthly birthday announcements. Diane from the activity committee stood up and delivered a half hearted list of names for people that were “celebrating” their birthdays.  She was the least popular woman in the office yet somehow she had become the head of the employee activities committee. She was an angry woman, squat in stature, sort of shaped like a softball with arms and legs. She had glasses that somehow never fell off the edge of her nose and she always reeked of cigarettes but she didn’t smoke. It was as if she had bought all her close from a Salvation Army fire sale. He only redeeming quality was her willingness to volunteer for everything.

                Diane sat back down, very proud of herself. There was a smattering of applause for the birthday people. Don, the boss, asked the group if there were any questions. Darrell knew there was always one son of a bitch that asked some dumb ass question, making Don rehash everything he had just lectured about. Darrell slunk down in his plastic chair and stuck his long legs out in to the aisle. He folded his arms across his chest and sighed. Without fail, nerdy god damn Jeff asked a dumb ass question.

                “If we have to reestablish caution parameters in the 220 system do we have to then update the content values in 1640,” asked God Damn Jeff.

                Don started the basically started the lecture over because he had covered that very issue within the first sentence. Darrell felt like if he strangled Jeff right now he would get a better applause than the birthday list did. While Don mindlessly went on, Droning Don, as they called him in the break room and behind closed doors, Darrell looked over at Mary. She was sitting on a table away from Darrell. She was doodling on her note pad and Darrell wondered what she was doodling. He thought it was rare to see a woman doodling. He couldn’t remember the last time he actually saw a woman just scribbling on a note pad. It was a funny thought and he sort of snickered.

                “Darrell, you have a question,” asked Don.
                “Huh, no, I… no, just… no,” said Darrell.

                He was startled and sat up in his seat. He hadn’t realized how loudly he had snorted when he snickered. Mary and everyone else stared at him with the same hate filled eyes reserved for God Damn Jeff.  Darrell looked down at his shoes and tried to turn invisible. It didn’t work.  Mary continued to stare at him, or at least he felt her sexy eyes drilling into him. Darrell fake coughed and turned his attention back to droning Don.  “Damn Thursdays”, he thought to himself.  The light over the emergency exit flickered again.