Tell It to the Robot Operator Guy


Yes, hello, I’m….
“Welcome to…”

I’ve been down this road before, buddy.
You’re the Robo-Operator Guy who bears
a more than passing aural resemblance
to that Voice of Old Testament God
proclaiming His thou-shalt-nots at the airport.
No you can’t have the last four digits
of my Social Security number!

I used to just press “Zero” and jump
to a human to share my insurance,
health, or credit card problem with.
But nowadays, I’m a button-pushing,
Yes/No enunciating spelunker scrambling
deeper into your echoing cavern to
a Lost Civilation call center in Atlanta,
Omaha, Jersey City or Bangalore.

Click?? What was that click? Hello? Hello!!

I wish I spoke Spanish. That lady
who asks me to press “Numero dos”
sounds so much more accommodating.
I’ll bet she wouldn’t…
“Welcome to …” Yes…Yes…No…

Day 24 of Poem-A-Day April 2014. Writer’s Digest wanted a poem titled Tell It to the….(Whatever). I’ve had more than a few of these “conversations” lately, so this came in a rush. Might read that way, too.

PS: And, I swear to God, just as I was finishing this posting, I received a robo-call from an outfit I do business with about ordering new equipment!I guess this piece was…destiny. LOL

You Are Here

you are here

You are here. And so am I. I’m glad
you could find me amid all the chaos.
How’d I find this place? Not easy.
Started in my dark bedroom this morning
and bumped into the dresser. I thought
I was on the trail in the shower,
but got shampoo in my eyes
and lost the way. Once I hit the road,
I thought I’d remember the route,
as I usually do, but I was distracted
by two cars trying to occupy
the same space and time.

Thought I’d found this spot
in the parking lot,
but it was just another slot
way far from where I knew
you’d like to sit. In the office?
Nothing. So I sat down and
drew this map from foggy memory.
Slow work when your tired old mind
has lost its way again.
But here we are, right where
I’d hope we’d be. You are here.
So am I. End of the line.

Day 23 of Poem-A-Day April 2014 called for a Location poem. I may be running out of gas. Today was a difficult trip from there to here. But I’m glad you made it with me to the end of the line.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

501I didn’t really feel it, that first time headed south on I-95 out of Fredericksburg. Pretty quickly you get distracted by the big rigs and Jersey plates flying by. And how the sun starts out blasting your left eye, but eventually becomes a blast furnace on your left thigh, by the time you reach Fayetteville.

Once you get past the relentless chain of Pedro and the hookers’ come-ons to spend your pesos South of the Border, and you take the exit east onto 501 toward Marion and Conway, the pace slows and your heartbeats get pinned to the thup-thup of tires crossing the tar strips on the road toward The Strand.

The first time we crested that rise by the ash pond and saw the hazy blue Atlantic and the not-so-distant-now sparkling spires looking like some seaside Oz, traffic got gummed to a crawl. But the pulse in the car pumped back up to sixty-five again when the little ones started bouncing in the back seat, singing Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.

I felt that.

Over at dVerse Poets Pub, my friend Shanyn Silinski is looking for work that somehow captures the rhythms of getting from here to there. Didn’t expect to be so wordy, my poems have been more commuters than world travelers these days, but this prose poem is what I felt all those years ago on our first trip to Myrtle Beach.

When We Met, This Morning

View from Here

When we met, this morning,
you smelled of rain. I thought,
“Here we go again.” Lately,
we’ve been so intimate,
your rain on my face, wind
down my shirt, the squish
of you in my clothes, your
cold touch my everyday.
You’re always passing through,
going somewhere else, north
south or east. Almost never west.
Wonder why…

I always wanted to go west
when I was young. But I always
stayed here, doing nothing,
yet crawling eastward,
all the while going nowhere
but old beneath sun’s glare or
coquettish stare behind some
veils of clouds. So red-sky morning,
with your rain-scented warning,
since you’re going through anyway,
take me with you when you go.
Take me with you…

Poem for Day 22 of Poem-A-Day April/NaPoWriMo 2014. Wanted to trim it to 100 words, but sometimes I get too tired and that dog don’t hunt. Besides, it smells like rain.

When the Lilacs Bloom

When the lilacs bloom, pungent and purple,
spring freshets run from my nose,
eyes and memory. I clench my face
like a fist and shake it with each sneeze
in explosive protest to the flower’s
reputed beauty and all months beginning in M.

Locked within bleared and puffy eyes,
it’s my mind sees the plaster Virgin,
a finger missing from her right hand,
enshrined in lilacs and pale blue crepe paper
in the corner of our classroom.

I can feel rosary beads in my hands,
an abacus of calculated Catholic indoctrination
for a boy longing to sin just once,
preferably with one of the alabaster virgins
pressed close to my compass points.

Funny what flowers like frothy amethysts
will do to an old man when a young man’s
fancies would turn those pubescent blossoms
of my youth to thoughts of budding lust.

Think I’m caught up now for NaPoWriMo and Poem-A-Day April. Don’t ask where this came from. I have no idea. I was free writing and I thought how close May is today.

Chōchins and Kigos

Chochin, photo by Tomomarusan.
Used with permission.

See this line up here?
Now this one right smack after it?
That’s how I started.
I wrote a poem about
writing poetry.
I lit Japanese lanterns
the dark places I couldn’t find
until I strung rows
of five counts and then seven.

A simple structure,
meant to mine feelings buried
close to the surface.
In the Springs since I began,
when I lost my way,
chōchins and kigos led me
back where I came from—
my land of a rising sun
and lowered expectations.
Works every time.

My Poem-A-Day piece for Day 21 of Poem-A-Day April 2014. Writer’s Digest asked for a Back to Basics poem. I went back to the basics of how I became what some of you call a poet, chaining haiku-like lines of five and seven sylabbles like this.


Who are you,
I hear you calling from
the redbud trees, but I can’t
find you in this morning light.
Are you looking for a friend,
I hear lots of other’s singing
their songs, too. I don’t speak
their trilling tongue, so
I don’t know if they recognize
your poem, either.

I sing each day, too,
It’s uncertain if I’m singing to
an anyone or a flock.
Ever think we’re singing
only to ourselves?
I’m glad we talked today,
Maybe you could listen to my song
someday, too. In its own way
it goes something like yours.

A catch-up day drabble about a conversation I had this morning, Day 21 of Poem-A-Day April/NaPoWriMo 2014. They all can’t be as good as my avian brother’s poems.

Liberty Has Fallen

I knew her when I was younger,
she’d smile at me every morning
when we’d stand and talk to the flag
and the cross. She was so pretty,
adventurous and friendly,
the American Supermodel-in-training
who helped all the kids, even new ones
who transferred in.

Big boys mistook her friendliness,
twisting it into an unspoken promise
of a good ol’ time. They took her
in indulgent shows of power and possession.
When we were older, they perverted her,
trotted her around, showed her off,
gave her a new face, boobs and name.
My friend Freedom became Liberty,
and Liberty became so addled in the end,
she’d do whatever the big guys wished.

I barely recognized her in her obit.
You may have missed it, being so busy
doing whatever it is they let you do.
I’m told they laid her next to her mom,
who men used and scarred until she
was unrecognizable, too.

I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to Kellie Elmore’s prod based on a picture called “Fall of Liberty.” But, a free-write is always there for discovering what you didn’t know before you wrote it. It’s a weak metaphor, but this is what I came up with.

Empty Nests

Raking up winter’s debris next to the house
I found the tiny basket, a fallen relic of lives
born, nurtured and winged off to make their own ways.
I almost overlooked it among the twists of twigs
and dry grass, but for the intricacy of its weave,
the palm of a hand knit to hold expectations.

Miniscule aqua mosaics peppered its walls, like
photos of a neighbor’s children, forgotten.
I plucked bits of fluff from within and
slipped them into my wallet between my
cracked but held-tight memories of little ones
who once cried and grew and flew here, too.

A new 100-word drabble for Poem-A-Day April 2014. I really did find an empty nest while raking this past weekend, no doubt once ensconced in my gutters. Only today did its inspirational (virtual) eggs hatch in my creative tree an send a poem flying to me and you.

Stirring Up


Tiny silver spiders stretched
white filaments crisscross
across the blue cup of my morning –
each representing a volume
of travelers’ tales. Others already
had spun their histories,
turned to stringy clouds,
the winds of today yet
to erase them.

I wondered if, among all those
views of down here by people up there,
was there one that pondered
something other than the pale
quilt of forest, farm and suburb.
Did he wonder if there’s a guy
in that house by the trees, staring up,
stirring his morning coffee,
boiling all heaven and earth
into a dreamy spoonful, too?

Going, off-script, rogue, relying on my own imagination and ideas for Day 17 of my Poem-A-Day April 2014. Maybe I’ll use one of those online nudges later. But when I saw all those airliner contrails out my front door this morning, each representing hundreds of passengers, each of them with their own stories and impressions, I had to explore my own thoughts…in one hundred words.


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