A Question of Keys


Does it exist, the place
they say you go when you go?
Or is it another con to keep
the masses in line, because
the laws of Man aren’t enough
to keep the dirty, hungry, needy
you and I from becoming
just another mammal,
feeding our children the milk
that likely is the only kindness
they’re likely to feel
from other humans unless
they believe fabulous
(if not fabled) prizes,
await for doing the right thing?

Is it that important that
we need some Over-Us Being
and a minion of winged, haloed,
glowing, enrobed, stern, gentle,
even immaculately impregnated,
come-from-above with the
Keys to the Kingdom
of a happily forever-after life?
We hold the real key from
the time we are born,
kept within that other
readily accepted fable,
the loving heart — the soul.

It is simple and sanguine,
not ornate and gold.
It is a Rule Golden that makes
desert, forest, jungle, prairie,
all Heaven on Earth.
Do for me as you would
do for yourself…
if you loved yourself.
Someone else does,I hear.

An eyes-half-open sprint of a free write for my friend Kellie Elmore, based on that photo up there. I’m trying to make a comeback from the dark place I’ve been. It’s a struggle, but I see that golden light ahead. Bear with me until then, Okay?


As the man in the midnight blue silk suit nibbled his date’s neck again, instead of the now-cold Chateaubriand for Two on the plates sitting before them, Eddie Pietro pulled at his collar and twisted his narrow black tie once more.

“Jesus F’ing Christ, why don’t these two just climb on the table and get it over with? At least someone would be done with their business before midnight,” Eddie said in the kitchen doorway to the busboy, Martin Leo.

“Chill, man, not like you got no woman waiting for you out there tonight,” Martin said to the back Eddie’s sweat-stained white shirt as the waiter steamed to the men’s room again.

Eddie parked himself on the toilet, locked the stall door and shook out the barest remains in the cocaine vial onto the back of his hand while, at a club across town, Loosh glared at his knock-off Piaget, decided he couldn’t wait any longer and whispered into the ear of the college boy on his lap, “Hey, Cariño, would you like a bump?”

Based on the Five Sentence Fiction prompt WAITING.

The Sons of Shem


The Arapaho boys came across the dead body of the Rev. Linus Quimby wrapped in a wool blanket at the bottom of a buffalo wallow, a thick book clutched in his frozen hands and an expression of joy upon his face.

“It is already the Moon When the Buffalo Calves’ Noses Turn Brown and the first snow came last night, so to find a man, even a foolish white man, traveling without a horse or even a dog to carry his provisions shows he was as crazy as he looks,” said the younger boy, taking the blanket from the would-be missionary.

“Look at the useless fire he made of these white skins with markings, not the leavings of the buffalo or even a stick from the trees on the banks of the Niinéniiniicíihéhe’, only two days ride from here,” said the older boy, as he relieved his brother of the blanket and Rev. Quimby of a knife and a piece of flint.

After riding east until the sun had almost reached its highest point, the boys found the remains of Rev. Quimby’s horse being picked clean by coyotes and birds, stripped of its saddle by a roaming band of Cheyenne hunters and with more of those marked skins scattered on the yellow grass in the melting snow.

If the boys could read, they might notice one that was dated two days before, November 20, 1830, and it said: Last night I burned all my maps, Psalm 23 and First Thessalonians from my Bible, my Lord God, because where I am going in Your name, I have faith You shall guide me, help me lead the sons of Shem back to you, and we shall never be lost again.

A story of unrelenting faith, based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word, Maps

Peace and Hugs

A bit of news and explanation: My relative absence for the past several weeks, and particularly days, from the virtual social whirl has been because of, among a handful of things, my involvement with my Mom’s health. After a relatively short hospitalization, Mom died last Thursday.

It might sound incongruous, considering the drops and splashes of me I share on these pages, but I’m not one to share a lot of my life with too many. But just this once, I thought I would.

If you have read the most recent poems I’ve written, each at her bedside, you might have had a clue that something was up.

Thanks to those who knew and comforted me, and for the support all of you have given me even though you may not have known. Now go give someone or something you love a hug. It would make me feel better.

In the Room

Here in the room the breaths come
maybe every ten seconds apart,
snoring sounds from a mouth agape,
now voiceless, beneath eyes mostly closed,
but probably unseeing.
She doesn’t hear the talk in the room.
We think. We hope.

Above the bed, a little plastic bag
of morphine perches like blessed fruit
from a swirly silver branch atop
the six-wheeled tree they’ll roll
out of the room whenever her spirit does.

Here in the room we watch, we wait,
hearing only the sounds of the family,
of the bubbling O2 humidifier,
the beeps of monitors and machines,
the murmurs and shoe-squeaks from staff
in the hallway on the fifth floor
as the hospital awakens this morning.

And punctuating it all come
the snorting gasps of a life dwindling away
every ten–no, fifteen–seconds.
We think. God help her, we hope.

Rules of the Game


The rules of the game
are set in stone.
You can read them
written on each slab
out there on the field.
The great game is summed up
in four numbers on one side,
and four on the other,
of a grooved hyphen.
Funny how those hyphens,
from end to end,
are the width of an N or M,
but a life may be wider
than a thousand thousand alphabets
or as narrow as an I.

You think of these things,
the unwritten,
the randomly ordered
string of letters,
of words, of stories,
of a life lived in
what seems like a hyphen,
a momentary there to here,
then to now,
once to once,
when you sit by a deathbed,
in front of a casket, or
at a graveside.
That’s where they post
the rules for all to see
and no one’s ever broken.