In Battle

If I sit small and still enough,
beneath the realm of unaided sight
I may drop among the atoms,
dance between energy and mass
searching for the days behind me.

Tip back, fall into the water

I’d even relive the worst of times
to see  familiar faces,
though we’d know the sorrow
once again of growing old,
lost in different hallways.

Tip back, fall into the water

sit small and still enough
beneath the shock and roar
of battle weary soldiers
til the terror bleeds away.

I will never reach their young hands

Rise, thrash and gasp for air
frantic enough not to care
if the bullet finds me

I will never find their frail hands
even if I sit small and still enough

a dream, a mocking laugh
filters down upon me

tip back, fall into the water


I return after decades
to find all changed.

The clear voices, heard with ease,
are no longer Duetsche Welle,
Radio Australia or the Beeb.
Rather, an endless panoply of hellfire hawkers
declaim heaven and despoil wallets.

Radio Havana repeats
and repeats down the dial,
a liberal sprinkling
of sedate monologuists
between Bible thumpers –
piquant contrast.

Well past midnight
I tune in again,
seek out the rare signal
fading back
then whistling in on its wave:
Fiji, Singapore, Cameroon,
a voice raised
in quavering Middle Eastern song.

The old wonder returns
at words and worlds so distant
carried to this shore
a tossing ocean of air.

Push Mower

A bright summer day,
I walk behind
the familiar roar
which turns

the dangerous blade,
which cuts its straight swirl
through row upon row
of inoffensive blades.

If I gaze at the green grass,
mesmerized by progress,
it could be any sunny day
of any year since my twelfth.

Grandfather James sits
under a shade tree,
observes traffic on the road,
monitors my progress.

Vincent tastes
cool well water, then returns
the porcelain cup
to its nail.

David hikes
into the east woods,
rifle at the ready
for rabbits in the underbrush.

Eternally unchanged,
they act out their lives
from the corner
of my eye

as I march forward
set on my task
of mowing down
what lies ahead.

Over Owl Creek

A walk toward
the unknown edge
where everything disappears
the light turns brown
then black
in the cool rush of wind
at my back
when I am falling
toward the center
of this earth
not surprised at the depth
but only at the wry smile
of God
like my older brother
letting go
the first time
I rode on two wheels

Baptism into Oblivion

The multitude gather,
aged and frail, bathe
in the beautiful river,
wash in forgetting
clean as any absence ever was.

Then all dissolves
to a home
which is not home.
Blank confusion
stares out at bland walls.
Worried hands work
against each other
to find … what was it? …
a mere moment before.

Behold this sleight of hand
of mind upon the self
where the wide river
shrinks to a dead cistern
and the coin never held
never drops
into an empty well
of wishes never asked.


Have you heard?
Hold a raindrop.
Peel apart the petals
clasped within.

Count the flowers
tumbling down
through this long interlude
of rain.

Infinite vibrant colors
lie hidden in the clear,
in the white haze between here
and the far tree line

bereft of leaves,
clothed only in droplets
trailing down
to the brown winter ground.

Hold breath
until the spring. Watch the sky,
alternating ashen gray and blue-faced,
fade away to night.

Night after night
until the gift arrives
of warm light dappled color
glowing through the green,

rising through our shoes
and raining blossoms down.
None of it seems possible now
but that’s the word.


I should be saving all these for some theoretical publication, but I never do.

For dVerse Open Link Night 129

Old Man Alone

He travels country roads
to sense
where they might have gone,
bodies passing
through the same space
if not time.

He sniffs out their thoughts,
has a conversation
with air. His eyes strain
to see as they did.
Ears perk at imagined words.

In the distance, over forest and glen,
an aircraft beacon pulses
with a simple, yet seductive
red wink, a steady, repeating voice,
“I’m here …
………………… …
……………………………… …”
over his shoulder.

Its automated semaphore glow
stands in for human contact,
for the back and forth of conversation,
the steady beat
beneath half-forgotten songs.

The light is family, it is friend,
it is him
as he drifts down the road,
becomes a twinkle of tail lights
in the dusk, a memory of a man
who passed this way
a few hours ago,
long years ago,


He walked up and said
“I’m not much to look at”
with his slouched shoulders
and furtive glance
into their rolling eyed shoulder shrug
which combined
“we’re not either” with
“we’d still rather be talking
to each other
than you.”

A couple parries
attempted to repair
the inelegant entrance
but he was interrupting
more than he’d first known
so he blew

or fell outside,
a Jenga tower
with the wrong piece removed
so near the base
he might as well be
sawn off at the ankles.

As he dropped he thought
he recognized a recess bell
and the faint outline
of hopscotch boxes
on the sidewalk.

For Open Link Night 123

I’d Chance a Fin Before a Fist

A fish in murky depths
tickles Ptolemy’s ear.
Being marble,
Ptolemy doesn’t twitch.

He keeps his dignity,
considering he lost his base
and wound up on his back
at the bottom of the sea.

One of a tide of fifteen Ptolemys,
which he is remains unclear,
his cartouche partly covered
by an acorn barnacle.

Today Ptolemy’s being raised
by ropes and block and tackle
onto a barge, then carted
to a museum

where he’ll remain
a respected has been
until our world is bathed
again in anarchy.

He’ll maintain impassive calm
even when shattered
along his every vein
by the roaring mob.


This is for dVerse Open Link Night. Still not sure about the title, or anything else.

A Slice of Rain

Rain slashes
paper thin
diagonal scars
across his face.

A torrent
stabs, tears
through clothing.

He walks
past the far field
and the skin is gone.

Half way to town
he’ll dissolve
along a fence row,
not sorry
to have missed
the IGA and MotoMart.

Yet the autumn trees
are beautiful.
He smiles and hangs on.

They too
know the kerf of the blade.

Stirred by wind,
they balance,
surprised at the moment
they stand
when everything is lost.


For @dVersePoets open link night.