There is a quiet,

still and consoling,

at midnight bright

when all’s glowing

with silent season

of Christmas eve,

eyes upturned

to starless heavens

a gratitude learned

with no stumble

underfoot, just

pause to humble

hurried wonder

in chilled cloud,

depleted time

of all allowed to

breath deep this

hushed sleep of

city tired in fear

mired, hope crushed;

testing the faith

of good will toward

all or none who

in winter’s sun

wish tonight with

hearts contrite

as children dream

of trust redeemed

and wonderless

days to bless this

unchanging guide

of season to abide.

Oh, Hell I Guess…

Dante has his seven circles
Homer his Hades, Isaiah his Sheol,
Jesus a Gehenna of unquenchable fires,
Muhammad a threatening Jahannam,
and John a Lake of sulfuric Fire
for a Disney Land of torturous pain
too much for old-school ameliorists
just wishing for annihilation or the
Great Nothing which means so much
more nothing when capitalized, and
it’s Joseph who gives us two hells – one
temporary for pain and anguish in-between
and romantically tolerable like another
purgatory, but the other a serious forever
of outer darkness for Saints gone astray
or souls beyond their reach or anyone’s;

we have nothing of the kind today,
no gnashing of teeth, unquenchable fire
to torment the wicked and straighten
our ways today by some pragmatic and
self-audited karma of paying it forward
to match the bitch of being paid back,
or peril of judgment tomorrow or
the childhood threat of Santa keeping lists,
instead we have dreams of nothing
like falling asleep – a long rest
or life simply not being so complicated,
a benign-ness beyond feeling, even a light
that everyone wants to walk toward
all met by the certainty of some
that the world is ever-worse
because hell is no more and you’ll see;

but what if – and this is what sticks – what if
even a hint is true of the unknowable,
that’s Pascal’s wager I guess because that’s
all it can be – a guess of what I should
or ought or must do today
while Joseph’s haunting outer darkness
makes me wonder of an even more
lost and irredeemable wilderness,
something beyond the imagination
and that’s what keeps me wanting,
guessing, believing there is more to
believing than believing in hell.

The Fork

Tucked in the drawer crammed with a potato peeler,
can opener with that spot of insistent rust I rub away,
three different thermometers that I can’t remember
ever using, and so many oddly shaped and hardly used
utensils that only but don’t really fit here is the fork;
it’s heavy and strong enough to lift a bowling ball
or a roast or whole turkey if I were strong enough to
lift such things, and it’s used just once or twice a year
when all my kids somehow wander back home for
Thanksgiving or Christmas (but not both these days);
but this isn’t November or December, the can opener
has a replacement but sits here as a backup just in case
and, no, I won’t throw it away even though it rusts
because we’ll all be thankful when it’s needed and
the kids come home and I get to use the fork again.

Another Christmas story ruined…

Misremembering Christmas

It probably started with a story of
orphans on Christmas in a perpetually
cold European city somewhere in
Albania; they each received just one gift
on Christmas Eve and it was always something needed but not wanted until one year the heroine received an array of
colored pencils which she treasured
because she dreamed of becoming
an artist, but the nuns woke the orphans
early on Christmas morning and
told them it was their turn to give to
those even poorer, so along with
their own breakfasts to offer they
trekked to a wooded hovel to bless
gypsy children with food and presents
undeserved; the gypsy children
were subdued, I think I recall,
unaccustomed to grace and the
orphan sacrificing her one treasure
was nonplussed and altruistically
virtuous and that bothered me
immensely so I chose to misremember
and in my version the desperately
poor gypsy child hastily and tastelessly
ate the orphan’s breakfast and had those
colored pencils tossed on a dying
fire to keep it lit on a cold Christmas
morning, and the gypsy child couldn’t
care less about the colored pencils
and our orphan girl wept because
she couldn’t understand how the need
for a fire outweighed her selfish dream
while the nuns scolded her tears as they
marched the orphans away under the
shroud of another graceless Christmas morn.

Christmastime should be one word…


Look closely – christmastime is there

Or, it could be two words–one or two, but that’s it.

Successful Writing

Writing like this was once a joy
which came easily and early, excitedly, freely
as Christmas morning’s new toy
dreamed and hoped for, wished, ideally;

with Pollyannaish tones on parade,
words dancing and gliding, mating and meeting
like the way of a man with a maid
a romance and affair, tender, fleeting;

now lonely lines trouble the mind
pages toneless and joyless, lifeless, pointless
wondering wordless and unkind
no address to access, just success to transgress.



Free, is one of the good words,
of all the burdensome nouns and verbs
demanding so much of their import,
insisting as they treat us as sport;
but this one is careless and pure,
surprising to most, to some unsure,
unaccustomed to such freedom,
at liberty to be or even become;
for gifts are seldom gotten or given
without force, carelessly forgiven,
sailing at ease, running and forsaking,
all not’s and un’s there for the taking.

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