Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Moral Dilemma with a Spider

Part I

I don't know
if I should
this spider
struggling up the blue
cinder block high school
bathroom wall.

Is it struggling because it's half poisoned,
or just because it's on a slick surface?

Is it famished from a lack
of flies during this
famine of a winter?

How did it get into such an
interior lavatory anyway?

Will quickly stepping on it
save it from the fate it could face
if some feckless freshman
tried to squash half of it
or snip off its legs
in some
zoologically sadistic
Dr. Heideggerish
designed (subconsciously) to
reveal some deep truth
about pain and death
to this sophomoric mind,
yet unschooled in the full
nature of life's bitter cafeteria-style cup?

Or, am I the real junior here
to this imagined student,
so young in feature
senior in terms of
exposure to some unthinkable
home life,
one that I
as a teacher
often catch a glimpse of
but shut my eyes to
and quickly turn from
to avoid the culpability
that would come with full
even though I have the
innocence-bestowing ignorance
of what to actually do
to help
(though we try our darndest
by telling ourselves they can be saved
with the help of
the quadratic formula,
a poster project about the Crusades,
mitosis and meiosis,
and the ability to identify symbolism).

Anyway, I still don't know know
what the ethical thing to do is
with this spider
(or with this imagined student
for that matter,
who seems to be struggling up their own
cinder block
without the aid of Spiderman's mutation).

I partly feel morally obligated
to put the 8-legged creature
out of its misery
due to what might be in store:
a mangled existence
or starvation.

That seems like a logical thing to do.

I'll do what's always easiest -
inaction -
and walk

Part II
Writing this poem
one week after the fact
I realize
I could've set the spider
free outside.

(I don't know what spiders do
during winter, but I guess the species survives
from year to year, which makes me think
it would find something instinctively self-preserving
to do, maybe.)

I still don't know about that freshman, though.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fe: A Jeremiad

Where is

the iron pillar
defending those who make
needed societal denunciations (Jeremiah 1:18)?

the iron rod
for guiding the lost, as the word of God, through the mists of darkness (1 Nephi 8:24; 11:25),
for ruling the nations (Revelation 19:15)?

Where is that missing element
so key to strengthening and stabilizing
the periodically turning tables
of our atomizing culture?

Has it been too much alloyed
or clouded by some ignoble gas?

Has it not Fe-
elings enough

to give this fainting nation's
blood its smell and color back?

to give its spinning compass
a point?

to imbue its morally diaspora-ed people
with magnetoreception enough
to find its way home?

They don't even see
the destruction ahead.

And isn't that dramatically iron-

Thursday, November 6, 2014


It was a spur of the moment word
she uttered
when describing what she did
to rectify the dreaded

"There was no rice,"
she explained,
"so I put 2 pieces of bread on top
and 2 pieces on bottom
and sealed it in a ziploc."

I googled this seemingly freshly minted
coin of the English language
to see if it had already been uttered,
(as I so often find with words
I thought should be proprietarily mine,
like "infinition" or "thith").

All I found were people foruming about phones,
writing "wich" instead of "which" afterwards,
like "im looking for a phone wich has a keyboard"

as well as this picture:

Picture source here.

Given that Google couldn't prove
anyone else had concocted
this delicious compound word
which so perfectly evokes a common
21st century American intersection
of technology, tragedy, and DIY folk wisdom,
I told her to copyright it.

She said she had gone to snapchat it,
but her phone was in a bag.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


My dad is the only one home tonight,
yet on the Google Hangout
between some of my 6 siblings 
- spread from Wyoming to the Carolinas -
and him,
he reports a pang of homesickness.

Isn't that what all of us should feel for where he is?
And he should be feeling "homewell"?

Instantly, I feel it, too: not so much a longing for home,
(indeed, I'd travel far to feel it)
but rather a yearning for
inside jokes,
comfort built of an inability to maintain pretense,
argument-mates who'll still be around tomorrow,
conversationalists conversant with certain topics of interest and geekiness,
and other ineffable qualities
that all mean just a fraction of what family is 
to me.

That is why I am family-sick, 
which seems weird to say,
having a family of my own that is upstairs as we speak,
but sometimes don't you adults just wonder what it would be like
if all your early-years family were under the same roof again?
Perhaps it would get ugly at times - I'm sure it would - 
but you still wonder, 
at least,
I do. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Cannot Let this Week Pass

I cannot let this week pass
without taking the time to...

do whatever it is one does
to write a poem:

concoct or conjure,

mine and refine,

reflect but also refract.

Whichever it is
- or the sum of them all -

I need to do it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Clamps and Poems

For my birthday,
my wood-working,
gave me
and a book of poetry.

I can't say which has been
more proficient
at holding things together.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Poetry is a Rock

I find myself,
on this Monday morning,
thinking about rocks and sand

because there's way too much going on.

And as I consider what to plan to do first
at each time
on each day

I realize that writing this poem
is a rock.

That's why I'm placing it firmly
on my calendar
every Monday morning -
to give a bit of sanity and peace
at the outset of what will inevitably be
a crazy week.

Will routinizing poetry writing make it


But, I suppose it'll still be better
than not writing any at all.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Mowing with Mankind

As I mow this sprawling lawn
I feel a resonance with generations
of mankind before,
sent to tend and tame this garden.

As if I, too, am one with
the pioneers,
the pilgrims,
yea, all the progenitors
who took a blade in hand
to provide a shave and a haircut,
as it were,
to a sometimes 2-bit spot of earth
in an attempt to obtain a yield of useful fruit
through the wielding of assorted tools,

an attempt, sometimes, as vain as mine
usually is to stay a step ahead
of nature's processes
and my own nature's tendancy
to be persuaded more by the
length of my yawn
than the growth of my lawn.

Monday, September 8, 2014


For some reason
whenever I mow the lawn,
I want to write poetry,

specifically about the act of mowing,
festooned with layers of infinite symbolism
as the act is.

I know,
I know -
mowing is such a manly act
and poetry
generally isn't,
though there is no paucity of male poets.

But still,
I want to write a book of poetry
called Mow-etry
in which I expatiate the subject.

So stay tuned.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I had a Dream Last Night

I had a dream last night
In a half-moved-in house I didn't recognize
Wherein I saw my mother and mother-in-law,
Who live a state apart,
Laughing heartily,
Arms around each other's shoulders,
And wearing matching blue
Cable-knit sweaters,
Walking in through the front door.

Beside a Christmas tree,
In two over-sized armchairs,
I sat with one of my best friends from
2 decades go,
Having just flown in from out West.
We were making small talk about the flight,
But knew deep within we'd soon be discussing
Significant topics from yesteryear,
Like Legos and Weird Al.

My dad had just walked by,
Dropping off a box filled with
Sets of matching Star Wars towels,
Bedecked with TIE Fighters and light sabers,
Presumably for myself and my nerdy siblings
(Including even the less nerdy ones).

I have no coat of many colors
And no lion's den is in my cards
To  help me interpret this dream,
But if I had to augur
What all this is about,

I'd have to say that
Either Disney will over-merchandise
Star Wars Episode 7
And soon start marketing
Cinderella-blue women's wear,
The intervening distances of space and time
That separate us from our significant others
Will E=mc square themselves 
Into relative nothingness
Through the intercession 
Of a certain bearded man 
We think of in December.

No, not that one.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Waving Back

Driving down to my parents' house,
just my son and I,
I thought I'd take a detour
along the way -
he always naps better in the car,
and I always liked getting lost
as a teen at the wanderlust age of 16
just to see if I could find my way back again.

Bobsledding up and down the winding, hilly
narrow track of road
for about 7 miles,
I passed only 3 people
and they all waved back to me,
a statistic unaccomplished anywhere else in my experience -
percentage- or number-wise.

Not that I knew them;
they were all strangers to me.
And not that it was some giant wave -
just the crest of a hand being raised
or the ripple of two fingers
lifted from the steering wheel,
but the tide of them moved me.

As much as I appreciated it,
I found myself wondering,
"What does it really matter mean?
Why do I make this such a big deal?
Is the gentleman getting his mail a better
husband or grandfather than most?
Is the pickup driver a more helpful neighbor?
Is the Taurused lady more cheerful and kind?
Does a wave really signify anything significant at all?"

I still don't know - haven't done any
research and analysis with graphs or charts to show.
All I do know
is it sure feels good to have someone wave back.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cardigan and Corduroy

My left hand's fingers
have discovered
there's a button on this cardigan -
smoother than softserve ice cream
on this granola sweater

and I can't help but feel embarrassed
that I'm not wearing corduroy for pants
instead of this
ragamuffin jean
to top off
rather than bottom out
what I think this outfit should be.

There's a certain message
I don't want to send
as a result of my
misbegotten ensemble


neither does my

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cruise Control

I can change.
I really can.
And I have proof:

After one of those days
at work,
I drove home distractedly,
going a bit over the speed limit.

Got pulled over and received
a tongue-lashing
but at least not a ticket,
perhaps because I looked
disheveled and exhausted.

Scared out of my mind
on that stretch of road
from then on,
I needed a strategy,
so I started setting
cruise control
to the speed limit
every time I drove it.

So far so good.

If only
I had
cruise control
in other parts of life
to help me change,
really change -
just punch the button,
ride through the risky part,
and trust myself to
take control again
when the rough patch
is over.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Worms on Rainy Days

"We've all heard
of the child
throwing a starfish
back into the ocean
because it mattered
to that one.

"What of worms, 
strung out on sidewalks
during rains,
like so many
spaghetti noodles?

"Who is saving
even one of them?"

I asked my mother
via telephone
from half a state away
on a rainy day.

she said,
"Your dad just rescued
the ones who found their way
onto our sidewalk and porch."

I had no idea.

There seems to be some sort of
lurking within the contrast of
the child with the starfish
my dad with the worms,

some deeper meaning
lying dying before me,
but how to rescure it
is a difficult question.

If I toss it too abruptly,
I'm afraid I'll kill it.

Rather, let me scoop it to you

See if you can
breathe some life into it. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Geggy Tah Afternoon

(album cover from here and lyrics here)
Tired from a day
that's been a bit overcast
in more ways than one
(though the weather way was
one of those that brings out the earth's greens

and teetering on the edge of contentment
and ambivalence,
I'm driving home
rather vacantly.

something small happens,
a particular song on the radio perhaps
or a bit of traffic luck,
and I slip into
a grin of satisfaction
and think of Geggy Tah
in one of those strange
jumps of random associations
that seems to shed a bit of
vibrant beauty and connective truth
beneath some otherwise ominous clouds.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Omphaloskepsis means
contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation;
thus says Wikipedia.

Mine's mostly filled with lint.

What doth such bespeak of me?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Calling the Poison Control Center

isn't nearly as scary as I guess I had assumed it would be.

After an accidental gulp of some gargled 
Hydrogen peroxide,
My wife said 
I would be fine,
But I called anyway,
Just to be sure,
Because that's what it said to do
On the bottle.

It rang a few times longer
Than what seemed right
For an emergency number,

And then it sounded like the
... what would you call her...
Emergency receptionist
Just woke up
Either from a nap at her cubicle
Or from her bed as her telecommuted day began
A bit earlier than she expected.

Her tone wasn't exactly what I would call
But I suppose that could be because
She gets more calls
From people like me
Than from people with actual emergencies,
(The ratio of which
Would definitely be
An interesting avenue of investigation).

I certainly felt comforted after she told me
I'd probably have no problems
(At which my wife exulted)
And would, at worst, vomit,
Which I didn't.

If only there were such a number to call
And such a kind voice to come to my aid,
And if only it were socially acceptable,
Perhaps even a societal expectation,
(much like calling any emergency number is)
To dial up a complete stranger
And chat about any of life's mishaps or tragedies
In order to know what to do.

Family and friends are nice
For listening and advice, of course,
But wouldn't an unknown & unattached
Be much more legitimate, knowledgable, and trustworthy
to our minds, for whatever reason? 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beating the Line

How often
does it happen
that you're not the last one
in line,
but rather
the one 
who actually beats 
the crowd?

Well today,
I am that man.
Not once,
But thrice over,
I have beat the crowd
And been first in line,
Only to see it grow behind me.

I wish I knew
How it was done -
How to pre-empt
Where everyone else was going
What everyone else was doing
And do it so effortlessly
As to avoid disrupting my schedule,
Though it would 
Delay theirs.

And I guess that's how it is -
The law of the line jungle:

Somebody will be there first,
And most people will have to wait,
And, hopefully, someone will be that
Kind-hearted person
(Like the one I met at Aldi last week)
Who sees your meager fist of groceries
Is nothing compared to her pack-muled cart
And let's you go ahead.

Or perhaps that kind-hearted someone 
Will be the one who sees your heavy load
of groceries, toiletries, house wares, doodads, and
Screaming child
And let's you go first
Though she only has bread and milk,
She also actually does have all day.

Or, perhaps, that kind-hearted someone
Will simply make the standing and waiting in line
Just a bit more tolerable. 

And though we ultimately can't control
If we're the one who's first
Or the one who has to wait,
At least the kind-hearted part
Is always an option.

So I guess 
that's what I wish 
I knew:
How to be 
that kind-hearted someone,
the appropriate one for the situation.

I hope
I will be that man
And do so
Thrice over.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Our Neighbor's TV

is always on,
it seems,
for we can see it through
our kitchen's windows.

Whether we're waking
at 7am
or 5:30
or 3,
it always seems to be on.

And in the afternoon or evening,
at sundry times and every season,
it's on.

Well, I guess there are
actually some times
when it's off,

But it strikes me as
probably sad

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Replacing Shoelaces

is such a mundane

that it somehow seems
anciently ritualistic,

something I never have to practice
but always know how to do,

as if I'm tapping into
a timeless practice
native to my species
and instinctive to my body;

a practice, though, that is
going the way
of the dodo
and the post office

as the mass of
ever-advancing humanity
shifts to
and other laceless footcoverings
as we grow
ever more prone
to simply tossing out the old
and buying up the new
before the natural effects of
time and wear
are allowed to settle in.

We're missing the aglet and the string of
the slick and skinny Sunday shoelace
(ever too short)
the puffy snake-patterned hiking boot lace
(ever too long),
though we do seem to be compensating with
the neon, plaid, and other designer fads
that are transforming the lace from a
boring staple of life
to a statement of individual -
or more likely sub-cultural -
which, too, seems necessary
to replace
from time to time.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

One of those Mariah Carey Mornings

You laughed
when you walked in and heard
not the usual Oscar Peterson Pandora station
but the dulcet tones
"Do do doo, dow;
Do do doo do doo d'dow."

Now I must grin
and explain
it's not my fault -
it was stuck in my head when I woke up this morning,
lingering on

throughout breakfast
and the 13 times I watched the music video on YouTube
and for the rest of the day,
til I knew there was
no way I was ever gonna shake her.

You tried to console my indulgence
by suggesting that
some days just had
Mariah Carey mornings
but recommended that
I not tell anyone about the 13 views,
which I gladly would've done,
had she not always been a part of me.

Since gradeschool I've imagined
(upon each hearing of the song)
resting my head on the lap of
my elementary-school crush
as she ran her fingers through my hair,
and sitting, for some reason,
in the basement of my best friend's house
in a mid-90s music video.

I still find in 2014,
time can't erase a feeling that strong

because it's somehow continually soothing
to know and feel
I'll always be someone's baby.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Recuerdos de la Alhambra

"Recuerdos de la Alhambra"
was on one of the few cds
I took to college,
and since it was the first track
and I couldn't figure out how
to program the alarm clock
to play anything but,
I woke to it almost every morning
of my first semester

as if it were my own version
of Bill Murray's
Groundhog day,
only I never tried to kill myself,
or seduce a woman
(at least not the same one repeatedly),
and the events following the awakening
were different.

It's really my favorite
and only
classical guitar piece
I know
and can hum competently,
bringing back memories
each time...
just not of Alhambra.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lawn Mowing

I fill the tank
And pull the chord
And push in semi-straight rows.

I slacken the pace
And swipe off more sweat
The farther on I go.

I see the neighbors 
On riding mowers
Gliding on with ease.

I'm glad, however,
For the chance
To purge some jealousy
And burn some energy

Somehow we're all here
At the same time

As if we've all heard and responded 
A call, not of nature,
To beat it back.