She was always old…

Her name was Francis;

she was always old

and not just older,

like her name,

but spry (that’s the word

they used), spry for her age

they said,

which is a nice way of saying

what polite people don’t

but we just thought

she was old,

she said aged like cheese,

and funny

because she’d wait

for us to gather

and tell us stories

about the way life

used to be

and never will be again;

like candy of

sweet mint blue

like the lake,

and neighbors,

but not all good

but you did right

by them because,

and names

like hers, and we’d nod

in agreement

with the cool mint

of the candy

tracing through our heads

in funny ways,

and now, just like

everything else,

she is no more.

The world’s a wilderness…

Most just stay put, where they began,

through no choice of their own,

except to stay of course, an accident

of birth and even that seems consolation

enough to sleep each night and rise

each morning without wandering,

calling it home; sometimes it’s war that

makes you move, but not here – our war

is for money, for a living, for a life; those

are the only movers today, no more

nomads, vagabonds or hobo’s riding the

rails, driven by the voice of God

even, to live in tents or tenements,

looking for something. anything better,

which is to say, just a little more than

now; there are those brave souls who

leave just to leave, some out of adventure

but most from desperation, escaping what

hurts too much to stay near because

the world’s a wilderness, unless home is.

The light of dusk…

The new light of dusk

transforms all it touches

in a shadowless, hauntless

glow shimmering off dry leaves

still on the grass, shying petals

stemmed but weary after

the day’s reach for sun,

reflecting nowhere from windows,

roofs, and the painted trim

of the old brick houses,

this light is just for show

and it’s beautiful to see;

it’s quiet now, without breeze

to stir or cool, setting free

the independent flight of

pests who might or might not

pay one attention, and there’s

nothing for the dogs to bark at;

there’s a moon teasing over

the horizon to the east, but

the city’s reflection still washes

the sky of signs of stars that

will fight all night the wash

of street lights and make children

wonder why they don’t

see them, but they’re there;

the day used to be done

when this dance began,

when a day’s labor was run,

but now work goes on and on

elsewhere, tiring and harsh

and ignoring the healing

new light of dusk.

Life is a test…

This is a test,

if you think it is;

if not,

then it’s just called life.



with caution, if


is what helps,

but if brakes

slow you down

then let go;

stop fighting gravity

(it always wins anyway).


Find time

to do what you’ve

always wanted to do,

or make it

as if you are your own


willing your telos

out of dust,

out of your own dust.



or barrel ahead,

ignore speed bumps,

or avoid streets

with them;


or not,

it’s up to you.

Always hungry…

The refusal

to end, to

stop, to repeat

will be his end

he hopes;

forever hungry

for food which satisfies

yet only


appetite for more

to gorge,

swallow and chew and

search again,


from below,

from within with

a careful ear

for word,

a tearful eye

for song,

a laughing heart

for joy,

a pouting spirit

for grief,

an impatient wit

for pretense but a


for citizenship in an

ivory tower

where desire

is the menu and

his appetite will be

his end,

he hopes.

Sailing west seems best…


(On the beginning of Magellan’s journey to circumnavigate the world, August 10, 1519)


Sailing west seemed best

for Magellan from Portugal

on a fleet fit with barnacle

changing domain to Spain.


Ships five he set out alive

hundreds in this opportunity

cross sea, enduring mutiny

tossed and one ship lost.


Tierra straight couldn’t wait

from del Fuego to All Saints

one November of complaint

now mythic, peaceful Pacific.


Half way done following sun

Lázaro San would be his end

final fight for chief befriend

foolish aid of his crusade


Survived a crew who flew

a dozen plus half survived

riding one ship they arrived

Magellan’s will to Seville.

But I didn’t win…

I did not win four hundred and forty eight
million dollars in the lottery, just like I didn’t
win three hundred thirteen million a few
months back and just two hundred and seventy
six million last year; but neither did you.

It took me two dollars each time to try to
win one billion thirty seven million dollars
which I didn’t win but the risk-reward sure
seems worth it, even in hindsight, because as
they say, you can’t win if you don’t play.

So I played with six dollars, without guilt,
but I did once recall the missionary preaching
about how much a tie costs, and even a pair
of socks that could have been used to buy a
Bible for a native; guilt works it seems.

Six dollars is a cheap lunch, for just me
and no one to share it with, but I could have
won a billion dollars to share with the world,
and I would have, eventually, since I wouldn’t
want to be selfish; but I would quit my job.

Enjoy the details…

There will be time enough
to do what can be done
so hurry only eases

a guilty conscience;
there will be room enough
to welcome the stranger

so complaint only makes
one feel righteous;
there will be food enough

to feed hungry mouths
so modesty doesn’t
need to be embarrassed;

there will be reason enough
to pray for the dying
so remember to linger

with them as well;
there will be memories enough
to remember me by

so don’t fret the missed
moments you looked away;
there will be stories enough

to tell those who will listen
so learn to prefer some to
others and enjoy the details.

Does God know why…

She came to his funeral because

she said she should, she said she had to

because she knew that doing no harm

wasn’t the same as no harm done;

she was the first doctor I’ve seen in such a place

as if doctors don’t do death,

but every single patient they see dies,

someday and often only after they visit their doctor;


I’m more of a philosopher and only pretend to know

the why of everything,

which reminds me: Do you know

the difference between God and a doctor? It’s

very simple: God doesn’t pretend to be a doctor;


and it all makes me wonder as I sit in the second

pew, on the left, watching young children cry

not knowing why…

I wonder if God attends funerals.