Forest Dirge

A plaintive
mournful sound
A feeble rising
tone slowly
repeating
well down the
wooded path
I had found
So compelling
I was drawn
to discover
what manner
of bird
could be
heard emoting
such a call
So stalking
ever so slowly
I made my way
closer and closer
to the unseen source
silent as a jungle cat
until distracted
by the crash of a
large bird launching
from a high perch
above me something
dropping heavily onto
the dead carpet
of leaves below
as I watched
him go
Regaining my
composure I
moved closer
to examine what
had fallen to find
that which remains
of a squirrel after
a red-tail hawk has dined –
only a tail with a flap
of skin attached and
while contemplating
this surprise from over
my left shoulder that
same sad cry came again
Turning
I saw a
small squirrel
hugging tightly
to a limb
his butt
tucked up
against
the trunk
of the tree
and he continued
to repeat
that piteous
heartbreaking
refrain as
I watched

breathless
to bear witness
to something
so sacred
So unexpected
as a young squirrel
mourning the death
of one of its own

Bad Bargains

Share no trust with
wingless Cardinals
too dark to fly
swearing to know
the light in the sky
Nor trust the
lion’s gratitude
from whose foot
you removed a thorn
He will consume you
with that selfsame
gratitude when
hunger looms
and never, ever
trust the moon
on a blue night
fat with stars
Enamored by her light
Captive to her charm
You’ll pledge your heart
to wake alone at dawn

Poets Parade

Among the lost I am
indistinguishable –
We all wander alike

In small circles

Occasionally
thrusting our arms
ecstatically skywards
’cause we almost had it
there for a second
but our lime green
gelatin dreams
have yet
to set so the
March for the Muse
continues
and we punctuate
the air with batons
of empty spoons

The Boy Who Was King

Playing backyard football
in the park, scuffed up
and dirty until just before dark
in the cool October breeze
of my teens, all the colorful
leaves tumbling along
rustling songs of promise,
of first loves, of dreams,
and all the learning I
have mastered since then
has not added to or
surpassed the wisdom
of that time, when all
the world was mine

Death is a Black Dog

I saw the
black dog once
exhausted on I-64
between Richmond
and Norfolk
Running right at me
So large
I jammed the brakes
my heart leaping
in my chest
then it
wasn’t
there

Disappeared
but it was
solid, real
until it wasn’t
Years later
I heard the
trucker’s “myth”
about the
black dog
Why a black dog?
The tale left me
at a loss
Speechless
knowing one second
off that night
and I would have
been lost

Death is a black dog
and I saw him some
thirty years past
and not once since
but he will come again –
of this I’m convinced
he will not be denied
when it is time

Of Fish and Cattle

We used to fish
there, under a
short bridge spanning
a silver sliver of the
cow pasture, an oddly
monikered river
to be sure but
chubs and
horny heads
galore could be
wrangled ashore
most any afternoon
between bites of
prepackaged 7-11
ham and cheese
sandwiches
I have to
hand it to the
cows, though,
such crafty beasts,
not one bovine ever
nibbled my line

Paradise Lost (apologies to Milton)

I am there
on an old map
of the world amid the
yellowed parchment’s
crumbling continents
but you can’t see me –
mystery that I am –
far away in the East
in the deep
beyond the legend
“Here There Be Dragons”
and if I stay there
I fancy
I’ll live
forever
bathing
undiscovered
in the fresh
sea air,
swimming with
giant turtles . . .

But someone must take
out the dogs to pee

Surely I’ll be seen
and once confirmed alive
larger forces will insist
I age and die

How easily grand plans
dissolve in the glaring
light of life!

Yet I am
resolved
to swim
again
with the
turtles
tomorrow

Wholesome Prison Blues

My spirit is home
to the
fathomless
blue
that
blue
more blue
than the
shrieking indigo
trapped in the petals
of a Poorman’s Weatherglass
A blue deeper than a
gravedigger’s dream
after the last Mass
and two shades below
the belly of
foreboding storms
The consuming
blue
of the
infinite void
where to sink

Suspended

Contained

Saturated

Sustained

is the sublimest
of joys