Our Lives As Fiction

I can no longer go

to the places art hangs out


without taking…

      … surreptitious snapshots

of all the oil-based-still-lives

water-colored sailboats 

and occasional knock-off Mondrians

by the hands of amateur strangers

Because you won’t let them see

These masterpieces:

The one of the Russian sub disaster with the crazy dark blue you invented 

floating downward

Only a house for a boat

Lit from the inside

Slow diagonal slide

Or that same impossible blue

Night this time, rising with an arc of lights

Rivaling the stars

“There’s no base!”

“there’s no base!” 

Exclaimed the girl–green shirt, tiny dog resembling a toy…

only real in the crook of her arm

And suddenly I get atheism–

Darwin shouts in the  schoolyard– 

no base!

And unhinging the game from…

well, base-

Another name for

The trunk of the branching oak

we rest beneath

breathing hard

before someone says

One, two, three, get off my father’s apple tree

Not to be confused with 

That one inimitable player who says

One, two, three, base all over me

And somehow, miraculously

Means it.

Cry Fire

her voice is metallic-insistent-succinct 

Fire! Fire! Fire!

Thank God she is there

10 dollar angel

suspended above us while we sleep 

…when we sleep

You know it took me years to know You did that 

And then years again to know few others did.

Vigilant love, calling us out of darkness

where angels who watch over us if we 

had eyes to see

Always resemble the Firstborn

Fill the sky with light

Ring the children with wings and eyes

And teach them how to vanquish

Implacable darkness 

with words of supplication 

to the fierce Unstoppable 

God of Light.

The Distance Between Us

Bet everybody loves a good

love story 

Boy meets girl or something…

Only that is not enough

You once asked me if there were monkey bars that went all around the world

Could you do it?

I could do the math

24,901 miles around

Oddly specific last mile the hardest

Arms tired by the miles of 

Arm-swing-leg-swing-hang repeat

131,477,280 bars


Hands and arms so tired

After an eternal day in the sun

The girl is such an ordinary thing

But the boy is one-of-a-kind

Worth looking for

The man who could, would, did and shall

Make this love story


To the March

In deep winter

she chooses to suspend 

All the ordinary chores 

Drags a heavy fishing net to the belly

of this man-made stream

Feet first into

cold deep

Swims upstream

where they wait for her

bobbing on the water

snagged by the naked

limbs of winter branches

An old oil can, adorned with red duct tape,

several empty beer bottles,

torn flotational device,

And a veritable tableau of shirts and trousers

Snagged on naked limbs

then animated by the wind

Once carefully extricated

she lines the children up by year, gender, alleged disability

Names them back to life

So they can indeed

Fly, flock of winter birds 

to inauguration.


Sit with me

On the bench in the park

In the imaginary world where

Children are always

safe and well

In the heart of the tribe of small

voices call out 

hide-and-seek–freeze tag–the ground is lava

As If I could still draw you close

Say I am sorry

say I know you tried

Perhaps in every way they tell you to-

Words written and spoken

Smoke signals and semaphore 

Emptied root beer bottles corked with words of loss

Come to a premature


Fragile Splendor

I passed you in the parking lot

of the big-box store

as you walked closer

Depth-gauge transforming 

as you came close enough to touch

pale skin, piercing, faded tattoo

blue outline of a bird

etched between shoulder blades

And the adjectives I use in my head change with each step

Young, thin, pretty become

Fragile, luminous

The mortal turned into the eternal,

vessel or spirit 

Poured out light

over us all.

How safe is abortion?

Years ago I did an informal study of the language associated with the debate over abortion.

At that time, forty years ago, both sides of the debate referred to “the contents of the uterus” as babies.

This is indicting.

In the 1970s we knew and articulated a simple fact:  the contents of the uterus during a pregnancy include at least one human being.

I say all of this because…

Socrates is immortal.

I know, seeming non-sequitur as well as a bit of a hijacked syllogism. But if you think about it, that is exactly what abortion apologetics is about–hijacked syllogisms.

Track with me here.

The original and better known Socratic syllogisms run like this:

1. All men are x

2. Socrates is a man

3. Therefore Socrates is x

X could be mortal, animal, sentient, mammalian…

You get the idea…

But what if men were immortal?  Then Socrates would be immortal.  His life would be defined by more than the hemlock, the sham trial, the bad marriage, the stopped heart.  He would be out there somewhere, forever, thinking, feeling, real forever.

So what does that have to do with the safety of abortion?

What if we substitute human fetus for Socrates or men?

1. All human fetuses are…

Half of all abortion patients die.  Those patients are the children of the other half of the patients.

Anyone who says abortion is safer than giving birth simply has the math terribly wrong.

Imagine if this math applied to all medical appointments: half of the people who went to the doctor on any day would not only not leave the clinic alive, they also could have their remains given to research concerns for money.

Still, what does that have to do with Socrates being immortal?

If Socrates is immortal

Then Someone or Thing has made him so.

A Word perhaps, an eternal Word.

Born into poverty, at risk of being the victim of infanticide, not because of who he was right then but because of who he would be…

Who they would be…the millions of would-be people.

Who like, Socrates, deserve true logic, not faulty syllogism.

You and me on the old back porch

 In an already messy old house

I try to find a place to stash my anger

The beat-up old chest?

Grandma’s dresser?

Each place I go I feel your loss

The way a tall boy once held a short girl at arm’s length

As she beat at the air with rage and sorrow

Maybe it is the air that is the problem…

Not enough oxygen?

The matrix of maternal affection somehow dislodged by 


Something missing.

It is as though the lost girls had become those things-

A trunk, a cup, a worn blanket

Trapped in closets 

…in the minds of monsters

The old childhood nightmare turned on its head-

The child in the closet 

The mother, the monster

Shaking its imaginary head

“Even I could not 

Would not

Do something so unspeakable 

To a human child.”