A smattering of poems by T.Collins Logan — 1979 to 2024

Introductory note: I’ve been writing poetry for a long time — probably since about age 11 — and composing photographs for nearly as long. At some point, I intend put together a poems-and-photography project for publication. Until then, this is a work-in-progress — a snapshot of the much lengthier process still to come.

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Totality 2024

Don’t lie to me about this flaming god
I have known him for millennia
bullying, vicious, and erratic
boiling away all beauty within reach
annihilating the vulnerable
and sneering at both bold and meek.

He is not what you think.
The warmth you feel is by my grace, not his
wedded as I am to every precious tide
of sea and air.
All life arose from me, through tireless motion
– at his expense, no less,
and his profound distaste.

It is my love that lifts and carries you
my moods that inspire you
my influence that compels you
to make love, to ripen,
and to be born.
Nothing you do
and nothing you believe
is beyond my cradling touch.

But you forget, oh yes
in all your frantic being and becoming
that I am your true Mother;
like prodigal children who no longer sense
the effortless arc of my passage
you battle and frolic and,
in the greatest of ingratitudes,
worship that bastard Sun.

But it is I
who am fixed between you
and oblivion.
It is I
who prods you forth
first onto land, then into sky.
It is I
who forges the tensions
of every month and year
so you may toil and plan
and celebrate what you hold dear.
It is I
who relieves the glaring wrath of day
with the silvery coolness
of perfect sleep.
It is I
who forges mystery
from midnight revelation
ensuring in endless cycles
the constancy of change.
And it is I
who awaits your eager touch
beckoning you forth
from intrepid mud
to infinities of starless dark.

So in this moment you have named “totality”
I remind you who I am
and how, at my merest whim,
the rebel Sun is vanquished from his arrogance
and restrained from all effect.
I remind you
of the glorious wonder and power
that is your passionate, enduring Moon.
I remind you
of the gift of my true self
so that you may remember
who you really are.


my friends turn inward
their fleeting thoughts
– once generous and joyous –
relieved of purpose
slowly shedding to relentless wind

A deeper delving begins
back into memory
and further
into the stillness of earth
where different truths rest, waiting
precious but unspeakable
in the warmth of eternal dark

I cannot reach
beyond this sundered connection
and absence grows
to an ache of incompleteness
an interruption of being
that leaves a cold, rough touch
of uncertain hope

Will winter end?
Will these flowering intimates
resurrect the heart?
And will courage affirm
a renewal of mind
in the thrill of honesty’s perfection?

Or do we acquiesce to limitation
apart and bereft
in an endless now
that belies the season’s turning?
Do we embrace
the bland and brittle frost
of a world with scarce integrity?
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Covid Easter 2020

My sanity is bound by hope
That after this entombed stillness
Of prescribed isolation
We will resurrect ourselves
Casting away the layered dressings
Of our self-wrought calamity
And breathe fresh morning air
Thoughtfully renewed
In the garden of Earth

What will this new life be?
What will define the yearning brightness
That penetrates our darkest hour?
What clarion lures us forth
From this uneasy sleep?
What, really, is the point
Of our return?

Is it a soaring stock market?
Feverish consuming of endless stuff?
A disregard for every living thing –
Even our own young?
Perpetual striving and toiling
To create another shiny lie
To summit in the dark?
Another hollow victory
Of affluent self-importance?

No…that is the chiseled rock
– An obsessive labor of futility –
That formed the cold and rigid damp
Of our own negation
That is the old way
Of unresurrected self
Blinded into foolishness
By a fixed and narcissistic gaze

To believe in the power
Of rebirth
Is to let go of childish things
And cleave to larger loves
A love of Others
In service and kindness
A love of Nature’s gifts
In respecting and protecting
A love of Beauty
In creating and enjoying
A love of Justice
In championing and obeying
A love of Sharing
In generosity and humility
And a love of Love itself
In remembering, and honoring, the Sacred

Without such reconsideration
We emerge from our tomb
Confused, rudderless, and distraught
Stumbling numbly
Backwards to Golgatha
Eager for the familiar comfort
Of being nailed up on a cross

Without grasping
This moment of renewal
We return to taunted suffering
Pierced by spears of debt
Where greed casts lots
For our lives and our possessions
Where all thirst is quenched
By vile distractions
And our soul cries out:
“Why have you abandoned me?”

This, now, is our chance
To ascend beyond the pettiness
Of “me” and “mine”
To roll away the stone
Of callous indifference
To shed the suffocating mask
Of fearful ignorance
This, now, is the Easter
Of humanity
The lush and fertile change
That delivers us
From ourselves

[Audio version: https://soundcloud.com/user-701150728/covid-19-easter-2020v2]

Death Drive - One

Within us
both hidden in Shadow
and exposed by Light
as primal as the urge to fuck
destruction haunts our being –
more enthralling
than potent swarms
of tiny deaths
more fundamental than fear
able to discard guilt and doubt
like wisps of ashen doll
along with other childish things –
this is the
we now see face to face:

There is a lie about what evil is.

All being is Light
there is no darkness in it
except the occlusions of ignorance.
Each iteration, expression
manifestation of existence
is love in different form
and only love
from unskilled and muddled brutality
to deluded passions
to perfectly crafted kindness;
So what we believe to be wrong, or bad
or the meanest opposing antagonist
is simply one part of love’s continuum
misunderstanding its own.

Within the mind
negation is no enemy
and emptiness can be full;
within the world
death entwines the genesis of rebirth
and deepest night
invites the sun’s return;
within our hearts
acquiescence opens us
to peace
and letting go
bringing clarity and strength.

But in the realm of spirit
in the Before, where love was born
annihilation has a different heft.
For here, return to nothingness is so complete
that even its conception is bereft:
the will to destroy
regressing to an ever-earlier state
defies the Absolute itself.

A contrast can be made this way….
To behold the face of the Divine
and then be rendered mute
in fiercest sundering of soul
is a soaring acclamation: “YES!”
within silence as a whole;
But Outer Darkness is just that –
it is outside all realms of love
not night with promise
of some future day
but eternal absence of the Light.

This is the truest evil
– the ever-present first
the “NO!” devouring itself
the prime annihilation –
which we confront today.

This is the gnashing maw of death
that deniers of science embrace;
this is the Beast
that evangelicals beckon
with reckless political choice;
this is the extinguishing flame
that industrial commerce
demands consume the Earth;
this is the calamity
that picky liberals
bring upon themselves
when they stay home on election day;
this is what childish, spiteful populism
hateful of progressive change
has voted into being.

And of course this is not new –
just one more cycle
where the center cannot hold –
every age has its genocides
from Holocaust to Holodomor
Armenia to Circassia
Algeria to the Americas;
its ruthless dictators
Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun
Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin
Augusto Pinochet, Queen Mary I
Tamerlane, Pope Innocent III;
its chaotic groupthink
Dancing plagues and the Spanish Inquisition
The Great Fear and Irish Fright
Clown sightings and “Strawberries with Sugar.”
So easily…too easily
we spiral hysterically
into ruin.

Our Death Drive is real
its longing for regression overwhelms
and though hope seems vanquished
and common sense crippled
and lunacy ascendant
(surely even demons
shriek in terror at such folly)
we still reside in love –
we still inhabit that continuum
no matter how foolish we become.

So if you know what evil truly is
and endeavor to resist
with earnest mind and heart
calling on your highest art –
the spirit of a perfect love
that leads to sacred sense –
well then
perhaps all this silliness
can be undone.
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Unconditional condition of being
Felt substance of reality
Destroyed and transformed
In Spirit’s fire:
Phoenix daemon
Ill-fitted with flesh
Lavishing heart that loves, is loved
     in the fierceness of Kali.

Mind distilled by breaking
Breaking in, out, loose, free
A gift so great
It can’t be carried
Only given, constantly given
In glorious rivers
     from the Center of All
Fountains of service, compassion and kindness
Flowing without constraint
Into an aching world.

A long dark night
     alone and forsaken
Death in the absence of Light
Then knowledge:
wisdom and agape
Blazing beacon of return
Annihilating every fear
And every ignorance
For skillful bodhicitta.

I am no more
Beyond Nothing
There is only YES
Joyful sorrow tips the precious oil
Upon His feet
Released at last
Soul shattering with gratitude
Devotion weeps.

Peace be with you.
It was only ever Peace.

The Shedding Tree

At length I understand
What this vague tickling sensation is
This loosening and lifting
Like forgetful daydreams
Between one room and the next:
It’s one more leaf of me, drifting loose
Wending on a breeze of years
Slowly, inevitably, settling to earth.
What was it once?
What marks the feud of my denuding?
Perhaps it is a memory of France in summer
Or some simple skill – like sketching – that my body now finds strange
Or an extra surge of strength on winded climbs
Maybe a kettle full of turgid words, boiled completely dry
Or some delicate, fluttering, once-cherished yearning….?
Or wait…was it something else
Something more important
Woven deeper and more intimate…?
I don’t know.
I. Don’t. Know.
And in not knowing I lose more
Than all the precious selves I’ve stored
A barren ignorance crawls forth
Like Proustian sleep
While chilling winter
Storms my leafless limbs.
Such stillness
On this privileged ground
Gone cold beneath the heaping foliage of life
I am bereft and overwhelmed
In unkempt gloom
Gray gray gray!
And yet…
and yet –
Defiant, my reach of bony branch
Jagged and accusatory
Against indifferent and implacable sky
…another vague, tickling sensation in reply.
Then, sensing what is leaving…has left
Burrowing through vague aromas of decay
I try to remember
Intricate, infinite, fiercely desperate
I try to remember
Those many paths that brought me here
I try to remember
And in my clambering effort
The leaves that grace my feet
Sweet and soft and bronzed by time
Reward me with a childhood game
Oh yes, frolicking amid the scent of fall
Oh yes…
That memory is wholly mine
Before I gift it to oblivion.

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Black & White

In school
I always struggled
with multiple choice questions
those black-and-white options
never sufficient
– whether two, five or seven –
because so much seemed in-between
so much life in the shadows
rich earth full of endless microbes
and squirming worms.
But this world pares through pairing
excluding, dismissing, casting out
while darkness seethes
and Light blinds
until – all too soon – we turn away.

What is the sacred movement
of the unseen?
Waves across eons
heating inner spaces
bringing forth life
despite the Night:
I do not believe the Universe
was a snap decision!
So why do we rush in
to pound such lovely,
uniquely-shaped pegs
into ill-fitting holes?

I see the blisters and blood
across my palms
from force of willful effort
and I think: "I am an idiot,"
still struggling with those
multiple choice questions
still stumbling, not knowing
if it is truly dark
or I have trapped my heart
in the cold comfort
of dualistic craving.

Winter Solstice Poems:
Unloading and Rebooting


dark black wave rising high overhead
    towering wall of obsidian
bitter with hate, icy cold and slick
    terrible with terror
heavier than the hand of God
hovering in brutal threat
    to slap humanity
         in the face

1. Waiting

my mother, frail but stubborn
shivers by an unlit fire
in unkempt layers
    of unwashed clothes
soon, she will lose her house
more quickly than her mind
    ravished as it has been
        by strokes
        and diabetes
        and years of fearful, angry voices
more quickly than the money
    she gave to scammers on the phone
    and the con artists
        who kept arriving at her door
she sits, and waits
because she wants to die there
    where she was raised
    where she raised my brother
    where she is surrounded
        by antiques, baubles and art
        memories and feelings
        she has carefully collected
            then lost
she wants to die there
    alone in the cold
    but still able to cling
        to the last of herself
"I miss you," she says when I call
the first time she has ever
    said this
    in the forty years
    we have lived apart
and again, "I miss you"
because she has forgotten
that she said it
    a moment before

she has her TV shows
    westerns, mom likes those
for company
and daily card games
    at the senior center
    where she wins sometimes
and her poetry group
    and her cat
but mom
stays far away
    from the retirement facilities
    full of strangers
where we tried to arrange
    a room for her
"no space on the walls
    for my paintings," she says
far away
from nurses and helpers
we sent to take care of her
whom she hastily chased
    out her kitchen door
far away
from the few friends she has left
    the ones who understand
    that accusations, venom and wrath
        will pass
far away
from the neighbors, who try to help
when mom walks into their house
    during dinner
all of these fiercely pushed back
because, well, my mother is afraid
    and alone
    and they are stealing the things
        she misplaced long ago
because they will not give her
        what she is asking for

"I love you," she says to me
my mother...
    I thought I was immune
    with so much hurt
    for so long
        so much mistrust
can still break my heart
even as she waits
    and accuses
    and scorns
    and worries
sobbing like a child
    before she swats her cat
"I love you too, mom," I say
    "I'll call again soon."
and I hang up the phone
shake my head
    by helpless frustration
and cry

2. WTF?

Of all the people I care about
All around the country and the world
I try to think of someone still whole
After this astoundingly shitty year.

Almost losing a struggle
    with depression.
Thinking they were losing their mind
    after six months on bad meds
    an idiot MD needlessly prescribed.
A teenage child being arrested and jailed.
Unstable, schizophrenic lovers
    who keep violently assaulting.
Gracefully trying to face
    the end of a long and fruitful life.
Having to sell their house
    to pay off debts a mentally ill business partner
    incurred without disclosing.
Abruptly getting laid off
    from a job they held for a decade.
Giving up a lucrative career
    for a new business opportunity
    only to discover
    the backer's checks don't clear.
Accidently uncovering
    that a parent is having an affair.
Not finding any help or relief
    from persistent and debilitating back problems.
Being victimized by pernicious financial scams.
Someone, once thoughtful and smart
    suddenly embracing
Infowars conspiracy propaganda
    and voting for Donald Trump.
Finally, not to be left out
    my own health has been a rollercoaster ride.

There must be some explanation.
Solar flares?
Some chemical, not yet detected
    leaching into our water?
The end of an age?
Alien mind control?
A military experiment gone awry?
Many of these disasters
have been decades in the making.
Some were clearly a consequence
    of poor decisions.
Others seemed arbitrary
    and statistically improbable.
A few cases were clearly a consequence
    of malicious intent
    or someone else's failings.
But the lines of responsibility
    and accountability can be fuzzy.
There is just one constant:
So many shades of pain.

So as Winter Solstice eve approaches
I welcome the returning Sun
Casting my hope after New Life
    the healing warmth of Spring
    and mercies of a loving God
"Just for Today
May Love and Light Arise
In All We Are
and All We Are
Arise In Love and Light."
In this new cycle of the year
may all of us
    be whole again.

But really, 2016
    what the fuck...?

3. Burn It Up

angry, small-minded men
rage against a storm of change
abusing technologies they do not comprehend
repeating ideologies they do not understand
pounding their chests with ape-like conviction
about imagined wrongs
and the righteousness of their delusions
when along comes a carnival barker
with the smooth assurance
of a TV evangelist
to woo and inflame their every fear
lifting them up
on wings of false promise
to the top of a very high mountain

"Behold the splendor of the world
and all its glorious kingdoms!
It is yours! Yours to own and exploit!
Yours to dominate and annihilate!
Yours! Yours! Yours!
If only you will bow down
and worship me!"

and all the angry, small-minded men
roar with delight
chanting: "Kill the beast!
Cut its throat!
Spill its blood!"
and bow down before
that grinning carnival barker
parting their pale white cheeks
to welcome him in
"Yes! Yes! Yes!"
they cry out
inviting their shiny new Master
to have his way with them
and with the Earth
and all the trees and oceans
and every living thing
until a slow, slick dark roils forth
from endless depths
to consume the Light
and vanquish our last vestiges of Eden
until all agony and grief
is silenced by the Night
and every small-minded
angry little man
succumbs by willful choice
to the poison he has eaten.

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Early in the morning
I bet those apostles
were pretty disconcerted
when they found an empty tomb
     they ran up to the entrance
     all out of breath
     and don’t you think
     they had mixed emotions
     at finding Jesus gone?
Searching for truth
is like that
     sometimes we run
     eagerly toward the answer
     anxiety and confidence and doubt
     love and hope and terror
     all mingled into one
Only to arrive
     at a new set of questions
     and a new challenge for our assumptions
Maybe if we practiced
running up to a tomb each morning
in such a tremulous state
we might come a bit closer
to what really is
At Long Last
chanting anger in my chest
freedom grinning through my blood
flames of elation rising
     out of crushing silence
I feel you
a thousand souls or more
marching into the light
for a cause I can
     at long last
          believe in
the city parts before you
feet drum hot concrete
bright sky spills down brick and glass
my heart soars to the rhythm of justice
as the soul of our country
     cries out bold questions
even on the sidelines
all those disbelieving eyes
     slowly brim with recognition
what we’ve always known:
greed is not GOOD
wealth is not KIND
selfish children are not WISE
reckless thieves DON’T DESERVE to win
we cannot BUY our way to liberty
     we never could
we cannot SHOP for human dignity
     even when the price is cheap
and the POWER of the PEOPLE
so easy to forget this
with a favorite TV show
with a cupboard full of food
when they say it doesn’t matter on the news
when the vending machine of politics
offers salty promises and sugar-sweet hope
until this passion finds respect
until my vote decides my fate
until I smell the tears of tyrants
and democracy is returned
I will not forget
So I march and chant
and sit and stand
I OCCUPY this space
      this moment of history
because what I know is right
and fair
and compassionate
and healing to my deepest grief
has found a valiant voice
     at long, long last
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Spacious World

Spacious world
unlock our hearts
plunder us with wonder
unveil your indescribables
define what we cannot
awaken every senseless sense
with mysteries of emptiness
overfilling all we are
illuminate our souls
in certainties which contradict
now bound harmonious
by laws our spirit deeply knows

This thoughtful creature
a paradox that walks
tries wooing your shy depths
in reckless love
intent on conquering
until its ego’s hasty denouement
Forgive us, then
your earnest prodigals
when we belatedly return
from panicked journeying
away from what we are
to rest beneath your spanning grace
heads bowed before the gift of life
Inspire us, spacious, wondrous world
as we begin again
like joyous children with a friend
each moment rich with sharing
and a beckoning from deep within
Today’s Libation

Intellect weighs sideways glances
thoughts fermenting ego into clear broth
whoa…that’s a hit! 
felt this tingling before
at a baptism maybe
ahas submerged in groupthink
stillness drowning in pop culture
liberation gurgling through a lake of cravings
touch the flame with pointed rhetoric
dissemble with erudition
these strange sensations of the Void
“I caught you peeking!” say the smiling gods
wagging an indifferent finger
but I feel blind and dumb
numb to questions circling on themselves
can we name them?
can we name the psyche’s sycophants
however inward their narrowing gyre?
c’mon, don’t hold back!
name them please
it’s academic
(though not essential)

So I, a mystic in the modern age
pretend to a translatable gnosis
ink blots, Rorschachs
swirling into pixels
approximating quanta
locally coherent
across digitized swelter
and that's the end of it:
nothing springs forth
into nothing
and once again the letting go
the boiling of clear broth
the steam of relinquishment
like a frothy belch on a crisp autumn day
let’s not confuse that
for proof of life
or spiritual certainty
but hey, it’s a writer’s lament
to become this empty-handed
toiling in anonymity
because all the story’s characters
have no names
ah, well
this is still the best story of them all

My own?
maybe I evolved yesterday
maybe I congealed
some pedigree of emptiness
that complains no end
to revised perceptions
or higher degrees of compassion
or attenuating self
that resonant essence
chuckling through the muck
intending with constancy
and immutability
to excel Beyond
exhorting others to excel
hinting at the cost
here, now, the many themes and pieces
the many levels and vectors
of infinite spirals within
all yearning to comply
crying out in bashful creativity

But while the sea swells
and waves break
in illusive movement
is there only eternal returning
to the darkest depths of being?
perhaps the question is misnamed;
if being is a point
intersecting all dimensions
where does it reside?
in which direction does it move?
how can it evolve
other than to expand beyond itself?
perhaps the noble ones
who say “there is no more becoming”
have apprehended this paradox
but I am not so noble
so I merely speculate

Thus immovable foundations
crash against irresistible impulse:
to live and grow and thrive
in echo of this fateful union
where consciousness emerges
questions and stories
questions and stories
questions and stories
when we exhaust the asking
and the telling
I bet that’s Death
and between this moment and that moment
a pathless land
irradiated with art
wafting the scent of love
luridly luring the Abyss
with mortal, undulating dance
welcoming unspeakable felt sense
to climax in unknowing

So I do not know…
my ignorance is vast
and I’m too proud of it
the way a child is proud of a new toy
even though it does not belong to me
secretly I weep
because I cannot keep this gift
it will vanish at Dawn
and I will be responsible to myself once more
but for now
I revel in the rap-tap-tapping
grateful for impermanence
and the long arc of forgetting
and smell of frying onions
and the kindness of a friend
and all the little pains
and fractional efforts
that forestall the really big ones
someday, I hope
I will be less a coward
but for now
my doubt and knowledge
weigh equally on my mind and heart
and I tuck my secrets
under my pillow when I sleep

So that’s today’s libation
flavored by a yin/yang soul
a pinch of Buddha mind
and lots of Sufi heart
a spicy dash of Ganesha’s flesh
infused with the spirit of Christ
brought to a simmer
amid this vale of years
sometimes held reverently
sometimes carelessly spilled and splattered
but here, now
in my overrunning cup
an offering to fellow celebrants
please enjoy
and drink it deep.
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True Events
From the choking, coiling foam
I rally into glinting bright
Where all shades blue invent themselves
And I can reach for breath
In blinking, spitting salty sting
What passive words, “to float,”
When every energy I have is spent
In wriggling weary limbs
And ducking massive walls of white
Ever watchful of the never-ending next
Then I am lifted, turning, stretching out
My length upon the swell
Eagerness becomes my light
A curling gasp of windy spray
And DOWN! I go
Whooping, thrilling speed
Chest compressed with nature’s need
A lifted child, an offering
Cradled in winged spirit’s flight
Harmony of source and supplication
Turning and returning to the womb of all
Conjoining truth with laughing roars
Voices of the sea and me
But wait, who is this creature?
Racing shadow, big as I
Sharing an adrenal moment in the tide?
It is a dolphin leaping forth
Glistening gray
Every muscle curving play
As soon there as gone
Not confirming or denying what belongs
But kinship, unafraid
And I suspend all certainty
For this one instant merged with awe
Penitent for what I claimed to know
Until the sandy firmament
Slams against my skin
My mortal frame remains
Slogging forth into a shaky stand
Kelp entangled, dripping cold
Assured in frail humility
Once again
That in all things
Sole self is not alone.
The Faery Call
Lovely Heart
look out your window
Do you see the elf with the sunlight in her eyes?
Watch, now, as she lifts her silver horn
and calls from worlds just out of sight
with notes too lovely to be heard
the eager spirits of your fancy
the faeries of your wishes, fair and free
Are you surprised?  You shouldn't be!
They fly forth because of you
drawn by the magic of your hope
to wait like prancing children
for you to come outside and play
Lovely Heart
look out your window
Do you see the elf with the sunlight in her eyes...?
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So intricate
These moments without warning
Folding secret wishes deeper
Awakening an avid touch
Only to turn away
At the last instant
Like a frightened child
Who burrows beneath pillows
To hide from the dark
How delicate
These hearts that reach
For simple and lasting truth
When happiness comes easy
And all our worries find relief
In stillness and warmth
Coddled gentle-tight
In the memory of what could be
O Infinite
Come to us as beautiful dawn
Ignite the purest light
Of Choice and Chance
And prod our meekly peeking souls
From beneath these pillows
To renew the tale of love
A tale that reads:
"Once upon a time
And evermore." 

Shaping Apples
worm inside the sheaves, my love
thick raucous leaves upon that tree, my love
so long ago we wandered from
       the tiny chasms of each dark stroke
       to dip beneath the superficial green
for what? 
certainly we wondered then
       our reason for reason
       canals of vital probability
       light-filled, greedily beheld
       shifting in the breeze of Eden
and there your finger lifts to turn
       purposed without contrition
       the velvety rasp of knowledge
       two worlds on edge
       beneath a prohibition
       fiction for our guiding truths
       sweet syllables you bring to me
       all innocence and joy
       plucked from the gardens of Gethsemane
and so, intoxicated by delightful heft
I ponder the dogmatic shape of apples
       this pneuma, this perceived instant
       a careless Word which carries us
       from hypnotic ignorance
       to manifest divinity
       your disheveled hair
       and pursing quiz of contemplation
       as you gaze into a page
I can’t help but smile
       to witness life
       thriving despite its mortal banishment
       let’s prance wantonly
       in the warm illumination
       of our questing souls
       let’s harvest untamed miracles
       of virid Spring beyond the Fall.
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I Love Oak Trees
What if
Fulfillment begins
As we break free
To see the world anew
Drifting weightless
Our future resting
On a breezy whim?
What if
All the spanning effort
Of our growth
And breadth of our experience
In redeeming green
Only readies us
For letting go?
And what if
The shapely motion of our flight
That hint of bliss in our descent
Is the greatest art
Our lives will ever know?
Canoes on the Bay
part noisy ducks
and slapping paddle boats
dodge silky swimmers
     powder-blue sky
     and chalk dust clouds
mirrored in the choppy green sheen.
Lemonade at fifty cents
warms lazily near a ringing pay phone.
nosy plodding pigeons 
          lure dogs on leashes in line
                  behind dogged skaters
                  with cranky ankles
                          and pigeon toes. 
Solitary mushroom pickers 
one of them pregnant
stoop to pack
their wrinkled paper sacks. 
Kayaks carried overhead
shoo canoes. 
Blue salty smells
in soft hollow spaces
are smothered with damp towels.
Bugless autumn breezes nimbly lift old limbs.
Distant cars and buses rumble.
A small skinny boy
with big dark eyes
chases invisible butterflies and stumbles 
on stubby legs.
A Mallard feather burrows in brown dirt 
unyielding earth beaten down
by golden webbing. 
Languid lawn chairs
                     tilt and yield to pristine views.
Radios blast rap and bluegrass
in a morass of giggling kids
and someone waiting in a dark car
honks their horn.
Starlings herd each other near the beach
and a woman reclining on the grass
elbows locked behind low
breasts lolling across her
smooth white stomach
A curly-headed matron lumbers
hands on hips
gray spectacles trained
                                    on the spectacle of youth.
NOT FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION says the sign upon the shore.  

Now who's this?  A blackbird
elegant and cultured
long legs
narrow neck
tapered torso
so handsome!
Hopping in the shade of craggy bark
and glistening leaf  
        red wings flashing.  

A girl of three or four
beefy but earnest
with blue eyes and pursed pink lips
hunts down the slim
frail bird.
A grandfather shows his prodigy
the slow casting of imagination
a phantom fishing amid blurs
of hurried city seasons
never reeled in.
And then...a white STAFF shirt says
“Clear the wading pool!”
and instigates a chemical annihilation 
of evil pathogens in soft ripples
ending everything.
The families flee. 
The day ends.
I let a piece of paper blow
off the table where I sit. 
It is not my piece of paper
     it was here before I came. 
A man stoops to pick it up
not looking at me
and I wonder what  he intends.
I stand and gaze at a lone rock
settled in the sand
stolid and invulnerable
observing everything but never acting
now occluded and consumed
by the steadily rising tide.
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Above the Hum
Above the hum
I ride the surge
intranquil as the Demiurge
feel my gritty effervescence
sighing into musty light
unfiltered flittyness, unmindful
of distressing dress codes
standard me erect and fling me high
so I create my death
slough cells of thought like skin
no kinder word than “Yes”
O Yes!
don’t bind me up, please
reject control-disease
glut thinly finished style
in erudite non-contrite editions
lift up! my sacred tome
in coarse, hoarse voicing
scream the ogling patrons
to abeyance
and PAY me for my selfish joy
Above the hum
I eat orange-gray, crunchy things
packaged fertile with promises
while societal subservience
grates against my goads
but I will not wake!
from me
or crave sophisticated deeds
to opiate consumer angst
or obviate my prurient need
it’s LUST
ugly, rotting, festered want
which uncoiling toils its greasy hide
about my love
and wrenches from good sense
the tensions of my emptiness
so fill it up, damn you
this undervalued caffeinated eke
mustering fresh desire
in the pyre of wasted time
give it rooooom;  give. it. room.
I have endless volumes to fulfill
Above the hum
we scribblers
prey on ancillary evocations
and aphoristic tropes
and meting out our eloquence
call it glossy pliability or “prose”
wretched, kitschy and maudlin
in cozy Feng Shui flow
our ruthless charity
of aesthetic without means
means no more, no less
than felled trees
and fallen ideals
and cramming like-mindedness
between the bulging spines
an author’s braying
will kiss the hairy ass
of priestly conformance
we know, and it’s okay
because we’re fitting in
(that deafening of soul’s chaotic din)
or maybe opening a mystic door
for some oppressed illiterate
to view the world askew
once more
Above the hum
jerky hands sort savagely
my indecisive rant
petulant and childish
that I can’t can’t can’t
and the ugly silliness
of poetry
and the bowels of years
ground down to brown ink
spread inexorably across these shelves
time after time
I try dipping in
but can’t contain the swilling mediocrity
is everyone a writer, then?
is solipsistic rambling
a right?
too critical, I wilt and grunt
the green wad
drowning in the sad, tired cunt
of capitalism
give me liberty, or what?
not this, by God
flag me down or waive me on
                far, far above the hum.
Door closes
‘nother one gone
Hapless bamboo rake
scratch scratch
amid scattered, reaching pages
what my heart takes, aches
and the words pile up
“Baby, you left the closet door open!”
old luggage
angry, hungry luggage
rom waaaay back
‘nother one gone
Rings, rings on my true love’s hand...
oops, already got one
round and round we go
eye + want + word = own
same sad sappy song
‘nother one gone
Sweet charity
why do you smell like summer to me?
why hot kisses like warning beacons
carving the meat of me?
eat of me!
salvation, salve-hate-shun
Maybe I’ll leave the thriftless
shifting of desire
in the evening’s gentle choir
who goes to bed early nowadays?
‘Nother one gone, oh.
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The Seasons of Myth
Nymphish memory is long
and all that was, remains unchanged
in the vast imagination of the soul
before the pride of Rome, drunk and cavorting
down ordered Centuries
was broken by the barbarous hordes
before the last Mycenaean phalanx
fell to Latin legions
before Ilion was sacked
by the equine treachery of Greece
and Aeneas sent fleeing
to find and found Lavinium      
before, and before, and before
such are the cycles of the sea
tides spread wide by moonlight
then gathered in, as seasons over eons
from flame to ice to flame again.
When we gaze in mirrors face to face
reflecting in eternity a taleos of truth
we see Persephone’s return
the meadow’s bloom
Aeneas twice braving sable waves
the storms relent, the sky exhales
nature bares her heaving loins
and life strains forth, struggling from the womb
chooses hope and compassion
despite the many casualties of pain
for in every future
chaos and despair are easy
and destruction is a persevering whim
but love and creativity, hoc opus, hic labor est.
This age abides its eager fools
and beasts disguised as men
whose reason hides away
like Pasipha, pleasuring herself
in the bowels of a cow
here passion and conviction
wander aimlessly apart
and warring leaders
build mazes for the Minotaur
(those darkened ruins of a futile mind
disguising wanton appetite)
the Earth remembers, solemnly
spilt wine and fallen crumbs of bread
beneath the lavish tables of the ignorant
and cringes at transubstantiated plague
while awful mysteries of power
reincarnate in the shadows of an oaky glade.
Yet the Naiads listen
for the poet’s oracle, and humble artisans
who beg the Gods to intervene
the Dryads wait for waking heroes
to wield the golden bough
and Oreads watch intently
as falcons drift, and mirrors cloud
and dignity descends
into the soft, mild arts of Urizen
until these times falter, and begin again
until the Huntress moon
alights on valiant dust
and like long-vanquished Troy
seeding reveries of Rome
Persephone returns triumphantly
plucks blossoms of agape’s dream
and breathes the heady scent
of resurrected reason
until then, all that was, remains unchanged
in the vast imagination of the soul.
Youth without memory
Lethian lethargy
driven from endless succor
at the Glass Teat
wrapped up in old hates
and rhythms from the Hood
masquerading as Whitey
mooning and wooing
the rats which keep on biting...
You delegate your honesty
in uneducated feints
trundle allegories like wet sheets
or streety gimme-some
well, give me something real
dig deep for a repeat
thirty years from Gil Scott-Heron
lose this “house me with rage” shit
wounded heart all reprobate
BIG BAD government, sanctimonious sex
Smoke this:
it’s stale, flaccid shrivel, wrinkled news
can’t disabuse your muse?
stop kissing ass!
not The Man, you understand
but this g-Angst-uh clan of wannabes
these bitter dreamers vying
crying, dying
Yo, is anger your only Truth?
self-righteousness your only bee-hutch
bound up tight in simpering allusion?
Here’s a redeeming thrill
democratic mediocrity of will
clap clap clap
roaring acrimonious delight
the Coliseum’s profane approval
but egos burning at both ends
will not last the night
Out! Out! brief motherfucker
it’s easy to break what I can’t create
and how much difference
will I make if
the only need I slake
is this compulsion to relate?
Moldy old gism’s no true exorcism
‘cause we can’t kill our demons
huh-uh, we can only
          make peace with them.
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Visit With A Friend
Beneath the swaying, ancient cottonwood
In sunlit reverie of moments nearly passed
The sound of desert in the winded green
We sit as smiling sojourners
In a land of might-have-beens.
The smell of tended earth lures on
Those many-shaded fruits of youth
When art of song, entwining arms, and soaring spirits
Arrest us to the now
And reveal in muted rendering
Our great, abiding love.
Where could we go but here again
Returning to this mighty tree
An emblem of benevolence and grace
And beneath these turning, dancing leaves
Discover warmth so true and dear
As to make us always, always tarry here.
Meeting Loneliness
I met a stranger on the road
he said his name was Loneliness
I asked him how he knew himself
as brother to Desolation and Despair
and he replied this way:
"Each day when I awake
I sense with certainty
no consciousness in Heaven or on Earth
recalls my dome of many-colored glass
or speaks my name with cheer 
or has a thought of kindness
which ever dwells on me
And when I go to sleep
my brief flame past
breath gone at last
convenient knowledge comes
that dust shall praise me
and worms declare my truth
but not one soul will care to grasp
how much I loved the world."
After thinking on his words awhile
I asked, perplexed, 
"How is it I have met you here
on this muddy, winding road?"
He smiled and touched my shoulder, saying
"Because, my friend, your own weary worries
fast push away all you hold dear
and you have wrought
from generous deeds and sweet affection
naught but anger, resentment and hurt
which always precedes me and my siblings."
"What should I do?" I asked, concerned
"Keep loving, stop judging," he replied
"Accept the things you cannot understand
and evolve a careful patience for demands.
Let every word you think or speak be kindness.
Let the source of all laments
be Beauty's passing from the world
and never worry for yourself
unless you do not love enough."
Not fully understanding, I pursued
"How will I know, Loneliness
when I have loved so purely
without prejudice
and appreciated all Beauty as I should?"
"You will know," he said, turning to leave
"Because you will not see me
on this road again
nor even remember that we met.
You will know
because you will never be afraid."
And he walked on
and I, deliberately, a different way
And whether we will meet again
I cannot say.
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To be satisfied
to have contentment
is a cradling warmth within the soul
a heat, like midnight love
or rising wonder
or the finest pedigree of hope
turning in its flame
all unseen possibilities.
Greatness draws near
for light and comfort
Sorrow scurries off
into the unseemly night of undoing
and fearful shadows hide behind themselves.
Now our bliss can dance naked
a flickering laugh of color
spirits climbing
up, up, up
delicate white ashes
from the embers of desire.
Shepherdess of Souls
Sun-warmed rock to sweat my thirst
moonlit stream to quench it
womb of every life we know
Shepherdess of souls
where do you lead us?
I follow with contented warmth
safe within your gifts
eager for lush promises
unaware of who I am
What would you
of this miraculous dust?
What hopes weigh your heart
when we claim your summits
or furrow your sweet valleys?
The scent of fall brings memories
close to darkness
kindling brighter fires
intimate with nothingness
summoning our passions
Warm rock, cold stream
cradled, perfect balance
Light and dark
thirst and satiation
endings and beginnings
You will always be the center
of everything we are
and everything that we become

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Falling out of love…

Crumbled and scattered
my shattered spirit
smolders fragrant in the dark

Grief blocks the sun
burning my lungs with smoke
stinging eyes and throat and hope

How can my heart fly again
weighed down with this?

How can I lift my hands
or take a step
adrift in a pointless void
where love is lost?

I stare without seeing
No sound consoles me
Something pulses through my veins
a residue of wonder
echoes of a vital essence
spilled too greedily
into fleeting vessels

No one understands
not even my own flesh
which breathes and sweats and heals
chagrining my will to abandon it

I am afraid of what this means
I am afraid
of Light’s return
revealing what I have become:
a clod of scorched earth
a remnant of fertile ground
where bittersweet fruits
unwelcomely take root

The Nature of Bad
The boy has a stick
he wanders the hot parking lot
hitting things
hurting inside
His sister is missing
the Greyhound arrived
at the station
late last night
and no one could pick her up
Or someone did:
a car full of friends,
the gangbanger with a flashy smile
the ever-helpful stranger
All leading her with lies
luring with a pretense of warmth
and acceptance
she can’t find at home
Down the alley, across the park
through the wooded lot
just outside of town
they take her
“The cops are looking,” the boy says,
he is nine
and worries about tomorrow
wonders where his sister is
where his mother’s anger ends
wonders: why?
He grips his stick tighter
and hits things
hoping that someone
who cares enough
       will show him how to stop
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There he is
hiding under an awning
from the sudden rain
casting about with puzzled eyes
for safe places to hide
he reads the swelling gloom
and twitches with agitation
shoulders hunched
hands in pockets
frown deepening

Beside him a shifting form
of lumpy gray felt
prone upon a concrete bench
derides passing eyes
with resembled sleep
evidencing its humanity
in a dark blue baseball cap
the curving bill turning
slowly away
from the frowning man

There is a restaurant nearby
with outside seating
where three people huddle
with their breakfast
beneath a white umbrella
they sip champagne
lifting bright-eyed laughter
to the dreary grayness
shirts wet through
show flowing motion
with each tilting sip
while glistening eyes slide
over cooling food

Inside, shiny forks find eggs
and thickly sliced potatoes
fingers clamp around steamy mugs
lips move hungrily against
each other
thick, dry cotton
contours tiny tables, curls
around stubby spoons
stretches taught on firm skin
tapers delicately
to sodden hems

And taking all this in
the frowning man steps out
from his dry haven
trudges briskly
through churning streams
of muddy run-off
then looks up, smiling faintly
at the soft kiss of falling sky
suddenly fearless
to be touched and changed
by unexpected things

Why Have I Fallen?

Sometimes I am
a sack of nothing
blown tumbling, tearing,
through black desert.
a tiny pine needle
nestled in the dirt
yellow like the inside of a beetle.
a lump of sweet, soft butter
glistening on the patterned tile
sticking to the sole of things
traveling in practiced patterns
over forbidden ground.

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