The power of words

I have been working through the power of two ordinary words–insubstantial and last.

Sometimes the forms we use to write can seem arbitrary or essential–poetry might be either feint or love song, prose the empassioned plea or the ordinary transmission of thought.

So to have two words with such strong ties to poetry and be stuck in prose seems remedial.

Remedial.  Another place to dwell in the in-between.

Last is powerful.

Last supper

Lasting love

It is either the end or the enduring.

While insubstantial could be a sum of cash, a minor wound, a flimsy shelter in the wind.

Or it could be the kite by which we see the strength of wind.

The papery thin construction of human meaning.

The space of a commercial on tv.

I will still abide with these two words, still puzzle over their highest use.

Prose until I can adequately distill ordinary nourishers into

…strong drink.

War Paint/Girlchild

I have a friend who punctuates correspondence with the lovely benediction–know you are loved.

Elegant, but a bit abstract for some of us.

I love you–more direct, but can you believe me?

Sometimes celebrity can be a strong drug.  Knocking out some of our healthy need for solitude, privacy, anonymity, and humility.

When you lost the fight with Holms I grieved with you.  Her win was methodical and clearly well-thought out.  But some of us love you for your slugger’s heart.

You did not need to hide your scars on the way home.  We all have them.

Glory in the well-earned blows.

But watch out for the body paint. SI has been treating legit female athletes like sex doll pin-ups for years.  Playing to the testosterone of their average-joe readers is not good enough anymore.

Women like you deserve to have the paint of your fame be in each well-fought achievement.

Not your sex appeal.

Keep your clothes on and fight girl. Know you are loved.

A writing assignment 

My darlings,

I owe you a writing assignment.  Clear diction, even sentences.


I give you loose


Words spilled together on the floor of my anger 

Over forms I filled out long ago

A victim’s impact statement

Should never just get


Flutter to the ground through exploded sky 

Drift down in a mute opera of


Is when the antagonist

Betrays love

That is such a simple thing

You throw a rock through 

A stranger’s window

Draw lines of 

Demarcation between 

What we forgive and what cannot be

Forgiven is such strong 


In the prayer of a child

There is anger and confusion 

What God? What Prophet?

You look among these spent and bloody stones

I know he is gone, full flight

And we will all

Rise, birds in flight

In this winter-dark sky

A Tree is not a child

I plant the tree

In sight of the house

Hoping it will ease

The pain of losing you

I look to it

As the winter wind sweeps in


To wrap a deep 


Around her

Nymphan shoulders

Through the storm

This is when I know for certain 

A tree is not a child

No marker, nor even

thing with living roots

Can supplant you

My lost daughter

Only fragments of an old, old story

about tears, feet, hair and costly perfume

Broken, poured out

Can signify

This loss between us

And what he is willing

To pay to bring you,


Back again


Crap you get for Christmas 

so much processed sugar

And  make up, bath soaps

Festive pjs

You name it–

Well meaning people trying

To fill a void with empty giving 

Insulin shots and loneliness

To gap a story so unsparing 

God born in a barn

(Is bad enough)

But what is up with putting a

Newborn in a trough?

Trough?  Your voice rising to the question

Why a trough?

No downy blankets here 

Most unlikely place for an infant 


Amidst the crap



That is where so many ordinary children are born

And die amidst the squalor of a loveless world

A Light shines for all of us

Not an easy path 

From dung to gold

But more like alchemy

Tiny child born

To make treasure

Out of all our crap.

A Quiet Storm

we ate at this amazing burger joint tonight

After slogging through a day of wandering and 

Words less crafted than sold

We waited 

The last two burgers 

Did not appear

Did not appear

Our server came over to say

I took the last two burgers off your bill

They are coming

But something happened to slow them up in the kitchen

A quiet storm…

Huh, I thought

All those empty words all day

And here she is 

A poet.

Big Box Stories

I bet when 

You thought

of the Day of Judgment

You did not realize

It would come upon you 

In the Walmart checkout line

Or some place like that–

Long lines

Tired employees

Lurid magazines 

Shouting things like

“The terrible death of cheesecake”


“Vegan chili cheats on Cher”

But I am here to tell you

I have seen it


The Day of Ultimate Truth

Right there in the checkout line

At any big box 


How bad do you want

That case of diet soda?

Bad enough to lose your cool?

Or are you the 

Mother and father

So focused

On this beautiful child

Between you 

This is family

He never said it wouldn’t be

A pop quiz.

The Keepsake Heartbeat 

I research two sides

Of the exact same

Human story–

Old men’s eyes

injected with 

The stem cells

Of children 

(To ward off a besetting blindness)

So small they call them


Because it is easier to

To tear

Someone apart if

We call them


Not the same

As the Doppler 

Searches across the mother’s


For a tiny

Keepsake heartbeat 


Always loves

These little ones

No matter what we might

See or not choose 

To see 

about their

Fragile legal status

Or translucent eternal


Discard these words

That bad dream you have when you try to scream–

hollow howl

No words 

For the kitchen, the children, the overturned life

Child abandonment does not do this justice 

For the kind of hell we can ignore

In the smokestacks of Auschwitz

Or the death of a child

Turn away

Because the kind

Of empathy

This would require 

Is unbearable