The Search Continues

I’ve been searching for something
my whole life, but if you stopped
and asked what my goal, my hoped-for was,
I’d likely give you the same kind
of twitchy, unfocused look as
any other liar. I’d give you some answer,
firm as granite or flimsy as fog.
But, in truth, that answer’s proven
as elusive, as out-of-reach as
that for which I’ve searched.

It’s worn me down over all this time,
and the only truth I’ve ever found
is this: Life’s one long crawl
toward a shiny something that
turns out to be nothing more
than a mirror reflecting the fact
I’ve spent my life digging
for nothing more than a clear look
at who I am and what I’ve become.
And I haven’t captured that yet.

What Can I Get You?

Would you let me
buy you a drink?
Or are you one
who partakes alone,
by the TV’s light
with the sound
turned down?

I wouldn’t even
have to sit 
this closetoyou.
That’d make me
uncomfortable, too.
Though I don’t
hear too well
in a bar.

I can’t remember
if you’re one of those
pugnacious drunks
or if the wolf
you turn loose on
some booze’s buzz
is a puppy like mine.
My spirit puppy.

I ginned up the courage
to ask, since I’m
just talking to
a piece of paper
and a poem’s always
been my go-to
cheap date.

Here’s my daily shot of spirits. The kind of spirits that possess me and communicate things through me I’d never have the sand to say. Or even think to. Mopey old spirits thirsty for something you can’t pour from a flagon. Unless said vessel is a heart.

So Strong It Hurts

It is a painful thing can we do
to one another, this coexistence,
this dissonant linking of one
with a different kind of other,
this trust-but-verify alliance
of two souls who would love to be
in the state of this painful thing
we can do to one another,
this love.

Maybe opposites do attract,
clanging together with a magnetic
melding of positive to negative,
hard to pull apart, though
easily turned to repulsion
with just one turned back.

It is a healing thing we do
to one another when we lie
side by side, my positive
by yours, negatives turned
upside-down, out of sight
under the covers.

All that’s required to maintain
this alignment of sacred coexistence
is a harmonious linking, a common
face-to-face faith of soul-to-soul,
where heart-to-heart beat soft
against one another, holding, healing,
loving so strong it hurts.

Portrait of an Artist Named Stella

From inside the little house
within the suburban snow globe,
someone’s given us a good shaking.
Our paper weight neighborhood’s
been plopped onto a potter’s wheel
and is riding a most vigorous spin.
Outside, the landscape’s molding
into plaster life masks of houses,
the road. Cars and trucks
idly shiver beneath the skeletal
fine-limned trees that stand and sway
as if stroked in India ink upon
this immaculate gesso. Or at least
that’s what my bleary eyes see
of our homes enclosed within
this seasonal table top tchotchke.
I’m told there’s an escape-hatch
equinox whose surname connotes Green
over the horizon. But the horizon
lies way past anything I can see
through the snow-smoky white winds
spinning around me while I sit
staring out the window in
the little house within the snow globe
on the desk, where the dizzy poet
pens a blizzard named Stella’s biography.

Shills Like White Elephants

Two more stouts down here, honey? Thanks, love. So this is how it works, youngster. The pols will argue over when life begins, at conception or at birth. What the hell, the subject of their alleged debate could just as easily be Creationism versus Evolution. It’s the same churned-up, wormy loam that’s sustained the political phonies for more than a century. It’s what they hoe when tangentially preaching to the party-affiliated converted. We scribes would sit back and take notes, mainly gauging relative volume, totals of Biblical citations versus Scientific references and numbers of finger points. Though many now use their thumbs as pointers since the birth of Darwinian political exemplar Bill Clinton’s index finger-stabbing, definition-of-IS-is, white-lie, bad-optics hair-splitting during his own multi-hyphened product-of-a-sexual-encounter Dance of the Seven Berets. Oh, and we collected, crunched and consumed salty quotes like pretzels in our after hours bars. We were paid to fill open column inches or air-minutes between advertisements, with the implicit promise our bosses made to the advertisers of bringing X-number eyeballs to their come-ons for pharmaceuticals, automobiles or insurance. Judging which side is right or wrong rose above our pay grade, best left to the former reporters who soared or crawled over the broken egos of their colleagues to editorial or columnist positions either by hard work or something just shy of befriending (maybe just the journalistic equivalent of caddying for) publishers. Though some made it by outliving them. We ink-stained wretches are a cyclical lot who learned to somewhat compartmentalize our feelings as best we could without losing our edge, becoming totally numb. See, it’s not so much who’s right and who’s wrong on a specific argument as it is who those aforementioned editors and publishers choose to make right. We’d rather leave it out there in some artful, judgement-free, make-your-own-sundae bit of prose, like Hemingway did in Hills Like White Elephants. Hell, not once did he ever mention the word “abortion.” No one’s ever going to actually “win” these debates, combining science, culture, politics and religion in a danse macabre where Defeat/Death inevitably collects the dramatis personae and Victory/Life is merely Intermission, one last chance to pick up some Sno-Caps, Raisinets and nuclear containment vessel-sized containers of Coke and popcorn before the house lights go down for the final act.

I was asked if I could contribute a piece for the next edition of THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN’s Be-ZINE related to Science in Culture, Religion and Politics. I can’t cop to any of those subjects truly being in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, I sat down and imagined a one-sided conversation by someone who looks a lot like me and has seen and chronicled the bloody confluence of those subjects–a retired news reporter. My career on that side of the news business was not so long as the friends I made during my reporter years, but I readily admit it quickly grew a husk around me and opened a vein of acid-tinged cynicism and indifference that I fight to this day. I took no stand about these subjects (well, maybe politics) in this piece, but thought it might be interesting to dive back into the deep end of my primordial news ooze to see if it still makes me smell of sulphur. It does.

Whatever the Heart Has Left To Take

The gentle man always was
a tick slow on the uptake,
blind to the foibles
and shortcomings of the angels,
fallen and otherwise, who
he believed encouraged him,
with a virtual handkerchief drop,
to voice his feelings
to (about) them.
But that exposed the soft anatomy
of his misplaced humanity
to their talon-sharp vanity.

So to unspoken words he turned.
Not the gesture, the expression
nor the tender touch the angels
always returned unopened.
He spoke instead to
the tissue-thin mirror
of a notebook’s page,
which sometimes reflected
his words to a keyboard
which echoed them
to you and you…and You.

You may read them
as love letters if you wish,
even though they’re unaddressed.
Read them today or whenever
you wish to feel what
he never got to…
except from the page.
The page always takes
to its heart whatever his heart
has left to take there.

Written on the 7th, but felt like sleeping with it. My poem-a-day run continues, as well as my weekly piece for Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines Challenge. This week’s prompt is that illustration up there.

Here Behind the Golden Door

What does it take
to leave your home,
your land, all the people
who shared your heritage,
maybe even your name,
to step into the unknown?
Your destination may shine
like the golden door
the green lady lights
with her uplifted lamp.

What’s it like to line up
for the unknown darkness
with the tired and poor,
hell, the wretched refuse?
See how she invites
all of these, the homeless
and tempest-tossed, to join
in breathing the clear,
the fetid, the piney,
the prairie, the briny,
all of this air
redolent of freedom?

You don’t have to know,
my friend. A handful of
men and women, members
of those unintelligible
huddled masses, each
with your name, or
maybe something like it,
stood in the box and
answered them for you
so you could be born
there on second base,
think you hit a triple
and call this place Home.

Don’t know where this came from. Maybe it came across my creative ocean because I’m tracing my roots back to Ireland, Bavaria and Hesse and have run into the antithesis of a golden door, more a leaden wall.  We’re so lucky, ya know?