Notes from a burned-out time traveler

I have seen
A world where floors
Are not the flipside of ceilings
Because there is only one story

Giant sieves hang from
Not sure where
Not sure what they do
Remnants of spiraling highways

Ending in sink-holes
Pre-apocalypse architecture
Makes even less sense
No one is qualified to think

You apparently need a license to talk
Some people do nothing
But search for proofs of god
No dogs no public air

No public no private
There is just this space this person
This monolith this giant hand
This brain-museum

Pigeons have forgotten how to fly
Children throw them up in the air
But they drop like stones
(It all seemed pointless

It reminded me of a Merwin poem
That ends badly for the pigeon
Because it thought that the poet could help
But it turned out to be just a metaphor)

No mountains no valleys
No theories no ideas
No water left
That recognized “love”

photo credit: kryshen at


I once worked for a bigoted narcissist.
His name was Kenny.
He worked out of a cavernous warehouse
On the east side of Baltimore.
I was a subcontractor.
Life was hard.
I couldn’t pick and choose
Who I worked for,
But with Kenny
Many is the time I almost drew the line
Out of sense of self-respect.
It wouldn’t have surprised me
If he started sprouting little horns
Out of his forehead.
He would send us out on jobs,
Installing vinyl coated
Steel-shelving and mirrors,
Towel-rods, vanities etc.
He was a horrible person.
I wouldn’t want to repeat
His stories and racist jokes
Even in a poem.
I will just say that I only wish
I had called him out to his face
Before we parted ways.
I doubt he is still alive.
One day he let us go
Without notice
Because, I suppose,
He finally got wind
Of what we thought of him.
The way it happened was,
I had showed up at his office
Running a little late
And had advised the crew
That I would meet them at the job.
Kenny wasn’t around.
For some reason
He wasn’t in the warehouse.
Then I received a call from my partner
Letting me know
That we had all been fired.
The whole crew had gone home.
I loaded the truck
With six 36 X 42-inch mirrors
And ten uncut 12 foot lengths
Of steel shelving
And drove slowly home
With my heavy load
To the west side of Baltimore.
Shortly after that I moved to Vermont.
I still think about Kenny.
How painful it was
To be in his presence.
The worst part of my day
Was listening to him.
Stomaching his jokes,
Glimpsing how he thinks.
I have to live the rest of my life
Knowing that I tolerated him.
Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad
But there seems to be a correlation
Between that failing on my part
And the fact that someone
Who reminds me of Kenny
Is running my country.

Woodland camo in space

leave this alone
the Space Force is America’s
final last ditch

after the kickoff and the playoff
after the last truck commercial
after the hard-sell
and the hardball
the holographic
scintillating uberstrange powers
of beauty and charisma
to manufacture
waves of awe
zing back
into the projectors
and the stage folds back
into zero space

after the Space Force
receives the holy signal
thousands of space-warriors
in woodland camo plunge head first
from out of the junkyard-sky
as if shaken
from giant orbiting

leave this alone
they must wear woodland camo
because our space warriors must show up
as envisioned
by the designers
of the post-post-American-dream
and they must not be denied their day

against the blue heights
of their precipitous
fall from on high
at attention
for we will have reached
our karmic
saturation of no return
the exclusive
of the starry end-run
final hypnotic
medicine show
will end this way

and then something
completely different will happen
like a bird will let a feather fall
but give us this
for our tired broken God’s sake
our million
footprints of
boots in the sky
we must and will
have our vacuous way
in woodland camo

Fantasy of growing old

Ten years from now
I step barefoot
out of the back door
into my slippers,
right foot and then left,
three careful steps down
to a gravel path
turn left and down the road.
It is raining lightly.
The rain has covered the asphalt
with a clear skim of water
that captures the reflection
of the trees that hold the peace
of a whole rainy day
that lies ahead
and I look neither left nor right,
down this alley
of that short cut
behind my neighbor’s flat,
but straight ahead
and slightly down.
And I think only simple thoughts
such as where I am going or
why didn’t I grab my umbrella
or looking forward to seeing my friend
who will be expecting
my knock
and how she will have
brewed a pot of tea
and how she knows
my favorite mug,
the one with the Sanskrit prayer
that she offered to give me once
but I said, I would rather have it
be here waiting for me
when I show up
in my slippers
at your door.

My little orphaned bat-cry

I’ll keep this interruption brief
as if it were just a test
of the Emergency Broadcast System

That we might turn down low
interrupting our regular program
because my cry of anguish

That woke me last night
was nothing in the scheme of things
because my shoes were laid out

By my bed
waiting for my feet
with comfortable socks

To walk back into the burning world
as if nothing happened
my cry of anguish

Did not sound like much
my little orphaned bat-cry
my whimper of anguish

After it penetrated the seven locks
of delta-sleep, the seven firewalls
of battle-weary oblivion

image credit: neajjean at

Australia — a poetic allegory

All the lights in the great tent go out.
The audience murmurs.
There are one or two shouts.
The shouts are silenced by a collective shhhhh!

A spotlight switches on.
It illuminates the empty ring.
Then it moves up a ladder.
The ladder is ridiculously tall.

There is a hut perched at the top.
A clown pokes his head out.
He steps out.
He is wearing a funny hat and polka dots.

He begins climbing down the ladder.
On his back is a long pencil.
The pencil is taller than he is.
He keeps slipping and catching himself.

The audience gasps each time he slips.
At the bottom a little table is waiting for him.
He sits at the table.
He begins to write with his ten-foot pencil.

From a loudspeaker we hear his voice.
The voice dictates what he is writing.
“Dear Mum, I can no longer be a clown.
The sky is red and everything is burning.”

As he writes the spotlight on him turns blue.
A giant koala is illuminated.
It is dancing into the ring.
A kangaroo dances into view opposite.

The clown stands, still bathed in blue light.
He lays his pencil down.
He removes his clown costume.
He is wearing jeans and a flannel shirt.

He joins the koala and the kangaroo.
They all dance to a lilting waltz.
The audience is mesmerized.
The whole spectacle recedes and fades.


photo credit: PeterTea at



On day seven
Creator grew restless
And sadly contemplated
All He had made that must be undone
And then He began to pack up thing within thing
Time He reversed
So for a millisecond the whale
Walked again
And the primal mud
Was once again Creator’s pride and joy

On day six the rivers He stopped from flowing
The tides He stilled
The sea surge He quieted with a look
The wind He stopped it from blowing
The storm He calmed
The funnel He summoned it back
Into the purple cloud

On day five He paused to watch the horses
Running across the plain
He lay His palm across their wildness
And they collapsed and slept
The herd a heap
And He saw that it wasn’t good

On day four
The colors of the world He muted
The stars He blew out of the sky
The sun He extinguished
The mountains flattened
The sea He drank
And all the waters of creation
He sucked them dry fountain and spring
The fires of the middle earth
He snuffed just like a candle

Day three
All the creatures He had named
He orphaned them
He took their names back
So all of life was nameless
The sea and sky He joined back together
So the fish and birds of the sky
Looked at each other in a long moment
Of awkward recognition
And two by two all living things
Feathered, scaled, naked and creeping
Paraded from His memory
Like fleeting images from a magic lantern

Day two
Energy He withdrew from matter
So that wood and bone and metal and flesh
Were all the same in His eye
And spirit He removed from energy
And He saw that it was not good

On day one
He stopped
Because all His work was undone
He allowed His sadness to spread into a great silence
And into this silence
Into this sadness He stole Himself away
And was no more

image credit: Isengardt at
License: Attribution