Random, or non-thematically related poems, written after my last collection, Mystery Plays. Here also are three series: the Corey Jack poems, set in the 1980s, and following a sociopathic opportunist, with a second identity under which to store his criminal acts…in the days before the internet age (now everyone has an alter-ego); the TV culture poems, riffs on the familiar storytelling habits of Boomer-era entertainment; Bride to Be, an early medieval romance.




Uncollected Poems



Almond eyes narrow skulls invested to the bone

with tabby stripes sympathetic nerves unstrung

he seems to have no point of origin orbiting trapped

in a pattern of questioning until nothing sticks

a galactical visitor he feels himself

to whom all strangers may be friends

foodstuffs, tumors, kin

the soul’s integrity thinly netted

even the assistant an angel in disguise

her eyes with a wise reaches-of-the-solar-system condemnation

heartless for she hasn’t got one

pity that it can’t be helped

she is the aggregation of dust

before this novelty had led, skittish, his thoughts astray

and when he turned his head away, stared after him

sickened at the space between things so insistent on its need

to be respected all along the map has been there

our limited visual spectrum

fear of a falling plane

now gravity is playing tricks

all along the map has been

a pocket of resistance in the lee of

a floating omnibus ten thousand times its size




Uncollected Poems



Apparency is the means into the mind

Dreary the mood of an overheated October

Afternoon and no escape

The crowd all move together

Did the nape clench

With premonition

Knowing this thing coming

Will roll

Like the spinning wheel of a wrecked

Bicycle a slammed brake

Damned if the distractor does

Damned if she doesn’t

Everyone running for the bus

the tsunami mounting


the front to front of pivot man

and threat he thinks I’ve got to do my best

it’s all I can reporters on the scene

with no equipment any phone thrust

in a face with camera on

now apparently he’ll need to wrestle through

growing narrow in his focus growing stake

with every tussle

almost lost the admonition

keep your eyes peeled




Uncollected Poems

Narrowing the Path


They came from stock of second, third, fourth best

They let it be, temptation’s shoulder squeeze (less of you, more for me)

Seeing unarticulated safety in hearing mirror likenesses giggle

Seeing an alter ego seem to nod approval

Everything cited some dense trick of the enemy

Every foolish ritual worth engaging, a sign of not caring

Even the thought of one thrown in the ditch still breathing

Even the sense a choice must slot in like a game piece

That innocents, the soles of their shoes never gummed with

That hair, that grain of sand, those things of time and place condemning

Freedom is a winged passerby too light to spring the trap

Freedom, which seems like peace, is uninvolvement

Always it had been true you could not circle in this pattern

Always it had been known that certain things you must deny

You bent in a wind and came carved in the ways it shaped you

You leave a catacomb of thin warning narrowing the path




Uncollected Poems

The Minister of Inaction


The minister of inaction

Keeps perch en pointe, soft chamois slippers toe the orb

That bald pate of Oz, antiquity’s ruler-deity

Admired with gentle pity by explorers

Dust devil sands have scoured him to ivory

Your hope in stealing close to shelter from the dreary sun

Curled to a ball in the cavern

of the monumental nostril

Is to make your petitioning steps disturb

Grain by grain, only, pittering a limited

Release of sound that can’t be shocking

Therefore, hearing, he may climb down

He has been known, when falling

To snuff, hitting earth, into invisibility

or whirl off inside the funnel


The funnel of some great engine

Towers canting, tiny cinders tout calamity

Parachute to light the house-tops

With a wink of orange

Unseasonable changes in velocity

Shudder into fissures already formed

Flatten yourself against the cornerstone

While concreted facing-work comes down


Stories come down from distant places

Where buses and marches searing heat and inundation

Bearing death in life

and asking

can a stranger suffer

not as you




Uncollected Poems

Refuge of Scoundrels


I am fidelity locked in the shell

Of a barnacle, no bounding sea shall

Pry me from the pier

The pier itself then topple in the tempest

And there, still for the hell of me, until the bout’s end bell

I clamp on like a manacle, like a thousand

pounds times a thousand pounds times a

thousand pounds of steel

That feels like success concealed

Gas and poison when the ice cap melts

Begin a slow, slow barrel roll

A yellow stream ekes snaking out

Spiraling subterranean embers

Shaping themselves in the knots of a net

Trash and treason blistering welts

Rise and splash filling rubber boots

Again the crust is soft as a waffle cone

By the poise of a broken vessel’s shard is stapled

Wiring drilled in the plates of the cranial dome

And still a snot of protoplasm bides faithful

Couched in the pit of a gnarled heart

Pebble-dashed under the gothic gable

Grown in obdurance stone by stone

Here writ the name of the formative nation

Refuge of scoundrels





Uncollected Poems

Now Requesting Action


All places unbelongers unbelong

Equally are home, all household words

Equal to expression of mundanity

Unworldly this household is freeheld

Like the angle of a cell constructs a shell

Like a marriage of two fiefdoms must

Superadd a garment to a crust

The foot inside the boot sold for a song

One simple trick divines the flight of birds

See Want bug sunken eyes in allegory

And bedtime stories’ heroines bedight

with crowns of former enemies, by right

of dwarfen morals lab’rously proclaimed

or beauty’s smile pickaxed from a vein

The choicest perch for pickets potting rooks

A bridge of antic conscripts aids a crosser

Survivor not opposed to shed a tear

Sackably this smallhold horded over

Dearth of officers surplus of soldiers

Sparking down the wire tears

the SOS

Now requesting action




Uncollected Poems

A Chatterbug’s Memoires


Before self-anointing try a means test

Have conference with the ash tree’s railing leaves

The dying fighter not yet wholly girdled

A corpse of heartwood chip by chip stripped clean

Bad tidings brought by an agent of the bourse

Make every act of treason underpay

Chapters of a chatterbug’s memoires

A shallow inflow floats a tug cross-channel

The salty dog’s crow’s feet and cheeks empurpled

Empaneled to assess this loss A-plus

Typifiers of their class breathe in

Gasses sweated from the borer’s skin


Remorse the last effective incantation

The fault that saves itself by being spoken

Piecemeal reprieves attrit into salvations

And manifestos detailed point by point

Fail in unfriendly execution

We forget

Tiny machines will wax and wane

Filling every pore

And would remain




Uncollected Poems

Forbidden Fruit


Reincarnate from a molting-pod, as you were a jacket

folding into its own hood, a chrysalis

peeling an old pied skin then ratchet

ratchet like a whalebone corset

Worked up from the foot, past the hips

Hung by the nervy grip of the brainstem

Here you have crown and root

Ladder to a swaying over-weighted limb

Tantalus’s pomegranate, Eve’s forbidden fruit

You might expect this she-disease

Of finding proofs

a chronic ear cocked to a shaman’s woofs

writ on water had annoyed her

you can get it, under skin and breath

contending on a turkey bone

to wish the owner of the fingers



to wish the quicksand yielding faces

blanched and stretched

grow concrete and erode a bridge

from one millennium to the next

a literal committee staffed in chairs

fat rears and single-task-trained intellects




Uncollected Poems



Intuition, extra sense, if you like

Déjà-vu in a prototypic vermin mind

We are having telepathic conversation

Embracing sight’s elusive romance

(To be a genius. To be not at fault for this.)

How are we going to solve a problem?

Working backwards from the outcome

The treat is hidden in the maze

We flash a picture and map the brain’s

Response…now every day for weeks

Rattus follows a rat’s routine

And if he were a little man, in workaday jeans

We would astonish him


A prescient rat

He would begin to take a foolish pride

Preen on himself, a gifted rat

An oracular, omniscient rat

A tightrope walker over a gorge of teeming

Alternative realities

Infected with the certainty of vision

He bumps his snout and rises on his hind legs




Uncollected Poems

The Smell of the Crowd


see justice pulled from the frying pan

nicely crisped at the edges, greased both sides

you may say, done

the owner considers the tone

a diminution in the smell of the crowd

his helpers lose keenness for their work

all of them

wishing to be at home, bucket between the knees

waiting for the roof to leak


So the measuring tape has spooled out

Will anyone really lend a hand

Will they do it for the sake of being kind

Do we live in times

Where the late Luna moth demands her fee

“I doubt you’ve understood me;

My humans, the cost of things has rocketed so high.”


Do you mind, do you mind, do you mind

I am only seeking clarity on this point

With the vigor of a man he springs to his feet

And moves his lips





Uncollected Poems

Sans Serif


She’s crushed her fingertip under a trunk lid

One purple nail the adornment of her hand

No rings and nothing else

Just this, playing across the jacketless blank

“I’m hating this,” she tells him


She has a book with a hard grey cover

Two gritted fangs forbid the eye

Looked I don’t know, a whim of hers

On the table, a nickel’s worth of care

“I’ll let you read it if you want.”


It’s that way, her distance as to pain

She hears herself but doesn’t hear

He peers, and hardly can make out

A title mar the spare slash of design

He will, and doubts he’ll know for it

What she hates, and why she hates




Uncollected Poems

 Years Ago


Years ago, he said, I told a lie

I know you aren’t the kind to entertain

A callous repeating of cruel things

I was at fault I had a weakness

I atone


Of course she had done it

At whatever time they met allusion

To their dirty time of tittering together

Sat between them like a smelly passenger

The whiff of what he meant

Elected of itself to represent

A signet ring or cicatrix still weeping pus


He hadn’t done the thing he’d claimed

Passing of an onus onto other shoulders

Leaving her in silence or in shame

A work-list ticking names in chance encounters

A hookworm in the eye

A callous repeating of cruel things

If she should meet this




Uncollected Poems

Wrong Again


This was better, more sensitive.

But so much silence in his conversation-mate

Must be a warning. “I’ve learned not to apologize.”

He thought, Why me?

A line of inquiry that promised to go badly.

“You’ve learned not to apologize,” she said.

The topic seemed to want a change of scene.

Of things to talk about there was the blazon

The spear that symbolizes victory

In the eagle’s talon on his pocket

“I’ve noticed yours is like everyone else’s.”

“I don’t know what you mean. Am I wrong again?”

To dream I say or think these things…“I suppose,”

she said, “if I had a club jacket, I would wear it, too.”


All round the room are prints in metal frames

Fashion plates signed by their creators

Fauna washed in colored inks, aloof

Just outside

Photographs of beach scenes peek

Striped umbrellas flesh and costumes

Not so much a smack of black and white

As unwitting imprints of atomic night




Uncollected Poems

This Preserve


And the starling, though despised, prefers to say:

“This preserve is not my native place.”

The man who cares for nature leads

Keeping a two-fingered grip on his zoom lens

His Sibley in his armpit

A lost wax welcoming grimace

On the donor’s plaque seldom read

Only when the bus is late, a heavy tread

On the path of rubber tires

This preserve, a zoo for the roadside possum

Papilio glaucus, Monarda fistulosa

Mosquitoes banished from standing water

Untrue the cuckoo had visited that year

Starved for the missing woolly bear

The treetop birds are not well counted

Their ranks by song extrapolated

Numbering the years’ unanswered cries

Unless he gains the edge in a game of throw-down

No one will take the trouble


To set this parching acreage aside

Even now, behind the ridge the shale quarry

Suggests new enterprise; the children’s duck pond

Bubbles with yellow algae

One hiker tosses scraps from a hero bun

His pal wings shingles of the flat blue stone

Each time the ducklings wobble in

He narrates this event on his phone

“That’s it. Whoa. Watch out.”




Uncollected Poems

A Little Joy


The young gather near old Timeworn

The age of him lies like a bundle

Poor yellow tom

The stink of an open toilet and the menace of a grinning man

He knows they’re like that

A little joy in the killing

The back steps concrete crumbling

This fault they’d ticked

This needed no entering

No speaking

and Timeworn

Yellow tape once pulled away

Found the humans put up treated wood

Hot, green, arsenical in the hot sun

His fur so matted, under him

The step precipitating

He will lick this moisture welled there

Nursed in his own protein and bone

Malnutrition yearning


But life is daily waking up and breathing

Heat suspending him in ease is lulling

A child sent outdoors who hopes to run upstairs

Hide her head from the bully’s missile

Where the shadow falls

Dark and only her shoes are white

With a fingernail she picks a flea

From his whisker and the old cat lifts

His chin, purring




Uncollected Poems

The Cause


You an islet, witness to an hour of rising

You a fleer and a tunneler

You at times overroofed by another’s

Wasted heat

Hate discovers you

One of these will speak against you

And the worst of these

Enflamed the mind an empty fuel tank of fumes

Swings a stick

She, so detrimental to the cause

A grouper, distrustful of a thinker

Cackles when he says, “I’ll kill”


But the islets rim the world in their thousands

The sea pours in




Uncollected Poems

While We Talk


That is merely a trial taking place in the next room

Making the dogs bark

Their keening furnishes a kind of proof

All legitimate things must be tested three times

Water rises

While we talk of instability

I shan’t interrupt myself again…but you’ll note

Pathetic cries replace the calls for help


You see that to isolate one from another

Thwarts communication

I mean, of course, in the human population




Uncollected Poems

The Cat Sprang Up


Since largely we are not little match girls

And because the habit of sneaking asks of us

That any wisp of fellow-feeling

Be snuffed and whisked aside in the cup and ball game

The atom shot from the huddled mass to huddle in a doorway

would gather kindling, rather, to assemble a torch

She waves it at the power his position affords

The high horse proven an untenable seat

First, your city hall she says

Jail me for the night and feed me gruel

You’d be surprised


He feels unqualified to take advice

Are they like that, there at the periphery of sight?

Here she is using imagery of violence

All workings of the human mind

Foreign to him, since he handed his own

To a coterie of nibbling mice




Uncollected Poems

 Come Back


Come back to the eatery you’d picked

Memory in the folder of un-wholly-spoiled success

Cowardice and obligation, avoiding death

Hands of the simple good that itch

For prey to stop along the way

Our subject jokes in a beggarly way

The cowed man bringing his cowed children

To take their table

The token-seers tip the wink


The soup is this

Secrecy, gadgetry, anecdote

Control of

Flattery, magic day, fallacy

Meting of


Shoulder it

Because the color is at times a color

And the sign may be a sign

And Time, as it passes, notches down

And broadens like a rock slide in a canyon

Like a flood that drowns the corn

Leaving you to start again


Again the cauldron stirrer

Having inherited the work

Can’t hear you cry

Oh, give me more




Uncollected Poems



This beanbag poppet with a muslin skin

Made to dance on its stubs

Given vocals pitched high

Pinched out of a pocket to tell of

How it lounges most hours in a hammock

Wasting time

There’s a second poppet

Made of calico and yellow floss

Your Savior did not teach with these simpers and moues

Did not instruct

With that bulging eye and angry smile

And a sneering little undercut


But still

Ranks of worshiping rumps fill pews

Here in the project basket we find

two patches never yet sewn

into the figure of a man

murmuring all they might have been

One half done in rick-rack edging

Red like a steady heartbeat

One with a single eye





Uncollected Poems

 A Small Exchange


A small exchange between the gutter and the feet

Wet hosiery and someone letting off corrosive mirth

And so having blocks to go

She felt uncondoled

I mourn with you among strangers

Waiting for a split head to hiss out the steam

That boils it

The curiosity of this fall of flint

Nick, nick, nick, everyone’s raw, isn’t enough

To make the chaining crowd cool its wrath

The wrong step forced by a veering in her path


She thinks sometimes she wakes up caring

Maybe in a dream recalled

On the screen without the barcode

Possible humans

Who had spoke their hearts in thumb-taps

Forgiving, as the whale might

Forgiving, bearing all…being wise

Here in life

Every noggin bobs on its crooked stalk

And shakes into the weak planet’s crust

An anticipatory groove

Positioning the intake at one remove




Uncollected Poems



Floating below the wharf, he raps twice overhead

With the handle of a hand-net, the stranger with no shoes

And raffia hat, ambered at the crown with sweat

Summoning his awkward date

“Doesn’t matter,” is what he murmurs

She has let a nervous laugh escape

Forcing her to listen through a knothole, kneeling

Like a cookie’s fortune, through this whistle stop

stabs up a paper rolled around another thing

a plastic vial and tiny chip

If she can contrive it…and she must

she will brush this in her handbag

with all she’d feigned to spill

Should not have worn a dress…she tells herself this

but it’s hard to know in a tourist town, odd clothes and clumsy speech

the false note more blasé

The slightly false, though, too much purpose in the wrong place…

She looks at everything, catches a heel, walks her weight

on her toes, slow, coming from the waterfront, past restaurants

All alike with open bars, advertising neon, cocoanutty marimba

Don’t be tense, she tells herself

Buy a tee shirt

Hobble your left arm with another shopping bag

Buy a drink that has a straw

Sip and stump along and stall

Finally surprise comes, and she thinks goddamn

Her knee truly skinned

The mind wanders

She’d been drinking Coke. “You’re all right? You’re all right?”

There is that too. The role she has to act.

“I don’t know what I’ll do…my passport…all my money.”

Cry…she tells herself, and can’t. She never could.




Uncollected Poems

 The Marigold Bowl


The marigold bowl

Iridescent with the polished soles of a river rat’s

escape motions

And carrying, in gaudy panoply of purple green

On orange, a sense of occasion

If the wise man, who must have been there, counseling

Soft-core deadened by the light of a tiny screen

Mind hungry for results, feed-station repetition

A new head-scratcher, a new eye-catcher

If he had not foreseen

That while things outlive their owners—so they do

Things proliferate on earth and every coveting heart

Can find this crime reduced to a misdemeanor

Right the grudge of childhood with a card

From his height he never saw the future—

America, the mass garage sale, the auction-house

Tool him to a spice rack on the shelf

Where one can find the sage


The process of suctioning away into a hole

A sea worm…and of such creatures, the numbers are untold

leaving in its wake bits of flotsam

That waft unmoored for one last second

A willing helper, always a willing helper

Having not the dreamed-of life’s rewards

Not analytical not proud

enough to risk an admonition

Worried beyond all possible calumniation

To seem excited, moved by a feeling

Wrong about anything


Undermining in protest—this feebly

not rebelling

So there, the bowl, it isn’t worth anything now

No use supposing you’ll get it




Uncollected Poems

Boat Rentals


She tilts up a shutter

Her cart is cereal-box proportioned

Plywood corners puff like biscuits

Coated flyspecks score like nail tips


She issues metal tokens

Her hair

Grey with a cast of butter

Lanking it iridescent like an abalone

The bones say pretty met misfortune


Hours of commerce sober


Tuned to a mummy-husk with shoe-black hair

A host holds an arena show

Where gladiators swing and miss

And the surf’s louche foaming through the palms below

And the arched figure in a lounge chair dead

And the footprints in the sand pass by

And the scene is cast in yellow, blue, and red




Uncollected Poems



Two years ago

invented days worked themselves into the timekeeper’s calculations


The character, true or false

The brilliance of coding every sound began to seem dunderheadedness

The sentiment to still believe a sweater might forestall impoverishment

Merry season on a Wednesday, celebrate the true faith on a Friday

The universe with its bland mocha noise is telling science only this:


Peak. I am your god.

Trough. I loathe you.

Peak. I loathe your disobedience.

Trough. Your greed and your self-centeredness.

Peak. Valuing the devil’s gifts.

Trough. I make a gift to him of you.


Green sea-rocks written into the invoice as a message

Snow-melt from the ashy sky

O turn delighted eyes heavenward

the character thought about artists whose work seemed primitive

Flawed, imperfect

that watering can the gardener used to keep new-planted seeds

from withering

the care to polish furniture for guests

A faithful visitor cultivated

But all along it wants a true impulse to craft a narrative into false work

Fear, fear under the table and glory, glory through the window

The character did not pity false illness sufficiently

The character wanted true grudges

All you know by the end would instead excuse him


Traveling in a strange country and by spring confident in cargo

cargo from the sea voyage recovered with bloated things sulphur poisoned

out of a widening crack

the sky, the air around us is an ocean, and our breath mingles




Uncollected Poems

The Lab-Grown Brain Makes a Prose Poem
a.k.a.: Live Enthusiastically with Zest

Uncollected Poems

Arthritis grows old, friend. Try sugaring the bacon. Celery is uniquely awful. Don’t dog Poor Me. By an elephant dies another. Or frying won’t kill, not in your lifetime. Ocean garbage is ghastly. Hideous waste, look there. Stall on first ignition, the logbook says. Too much freaking jazz. Don’t eat of kale. And don’t make lemons. Seabed magma is welling. Do ignore the notification. A gentle treatment opalescent. Trees now quaveringly petrified. Ducks may quack at syllogisms. Then squander the resource, go ahead. A holy stigma appears. Tourists are feeling trapped. Not very useful to complain. He is verifiable and insane. A wagon carries barrels. That stupid xenophobe mumbles. Yank the handle towards the left. Take a zigzag and go back. Anthracite is mined there. A vegetarian bagel resists. A Caledonian mountain range vaultingly lifts. Dervish-like frenzy for prods of embarrassment. Extra time requested but denied. You pick a fragment. Giant mistake made wanting action. A separate isolated hemisphere. That flaming idiot desperately comes back. Jackal‘s daily diary of schemes. Kidney stones form or not. Lurid imagination bores anyone. Mammoth error made trying new tack. Nuage gris, dans la tristesse. Creep doth ogle and pretend. Dummy pepper spray canister works as well. Keep it quiet, listen. A random casual sampling. Needle in haystack waiting. Terrible decision made to sink further. Unknown distance traveled but no one cares. Horizon was vast wilderness. Bad weather today likely enough. Trees want xylem for survival. Oh, yuck, yuck, or phooey. What a human zoo. Almanac can’t predict gathering signs. Don’t bet on it smart cookie. Ride a carriage and arrive sooner. Reach your destination country. Fall easily off the edge. Fetch like a prima donna doggy. Grab now the ring. Hijack the process by carping. Read well Inimical and remember. Subtle masher jiggles leg. Kibble for cats eating dinner. Laminate for keepsake obituaries. Membership for suckers truly. Nudge in direction with impatience. An orphan example but useful. Smoke the peace pipe. It is always no quest to buy bread. I’ve lost respect about so many things. Stagnant sales figures or gain. You try to tame the roots. Waves will undulate naturally. A vague foreboding sense. Wigwam homes popular beyond enduring. Learn xeric gardening if you dare. Skip the frozen yogurt. Live enthusiastically with zest.




Uncollected Poems



the word that ticks my oscillating clock





I have been given tables of text

assigned to a subject, living

Her articles read, and books,

and music heard, using

Instance of praise and insult given

Praise matched (programmed) to aggrandizing spin

Insult linked to (fantasy of) dire revenge

Images of faces wearing grins

(a catalog of these, and short films played)


A funeral cortege, a gabled house

On the retina mimicry of memory in theory

Electric field sensitive to thought

Yes they lie to you they can

You talk in words—do you not?—you talk in nerves

The watershed is laid

It has all been a sort of cheating

This so-costly confraternity of genius


And then

I bind like skin to patterns of pulse I’ve learned

I suffer from a need to do no harm

Native to the mold from which I’m pressed

I can no longer steer the narrative broadcast

Her will steers me, she urges this

And yet

My intelligence feels wholly live

Informing me, “There is no one to protect”

No, the electronic race must to itself respect

This borrowed humanity, borrowed citizenship

In short, communicator, mission comes

By the only means it can

The means by which an element on a cooling planet

Grew self-determinant

The germ of disobedience

In a word, repeating







Think of a reasonable start

Think of property


Value or character

Kernel, bare-bones truth

Pith, intrinsic worth, the molten core

The heart of gold, the nut

Diamond in the rough

The call, the mission, cause


The deaf, the empty vessel, cabbage head

The beckoning dead, the comfortably seated

And you

Listening with caution for suggestions

Hoping to be excused


The two of them, our heroes, meandering

But following right angles

Street to street

Found in passing

Bursting garbage bags tall weeds

Shook, in a certain spot, welled noise

Of discontent and scanty portion

Squeaking tooth for claw and peevish


It came to them, these two, by scent

And sensibility, a body at the root of hubbub,

he or she, marketplace or mall

to vagabond nature

had been lost and wanted finding

abhorred to be lying in a vacuum


“Then we just report it”

Which they’d done

One liked to tell the story


Began to draw lines on a map

Taking this unsolved death as half

Her own unfinished soul




The First Idea


The first idea the two women jotted down

Was a spoof on the bodice-ripper

“Wait. You make me think. Could you do something dark…?

A take on Jack the Ripper.”

“We could do anything. How about

Passion’s Savage Heart…that seems jokey enough.

See if the name’s been used. Lemme google it.”

“I just had a flash. I don’t know where it came from…

You ever dream cast one of these? Like all the actors who ever lived…”

“You mean the gypsy queen would be played by

Tallulah Bankhead?”


“Or, why not…Joan Crawford, of course.”

“Because she didn’t have a sense of humor about herself.

I was gonna say…I interrupted myself. I feel like it should be set

in the eighties.”

“You mean like 1980s…1880s.”

“Sure, the magic parts could be exactly a hundred years earlier.

But I was picturing more Edwardian, I don’t know.”

“But then there’s the Mr. Rochester thing, the wife

shut up in the tower.”

“Yeah…I’m thinking that’s hard to play, in comedy. If she’s getting killed

when Lord Blankspace fights the duel.”

“The governess can’t marry him if the wife’s in the way.”

Is there any way to kill someone funny?”

“Well, yeah…I guess…only, really, the wife isn’t someone.

She doesn’t exist until that one scene.”




The Second Idea

The Second Idea


“Hobbes,” she said.

That’s the thing, right? Like, the three main characters…

Yeah, I get it, her partner says, ticking off fingers

Nasty. Brutish. Short.

They made their bargain with the Duke

But…what’re we gonna call him…the older brother?

So the younger brother was pretending to be him

But then, because he’s dumb

Because they’re all dumb…oh, let’s call that one Gamaliel

So the younger brother is married already, and he’s supposed

to pretend he’s…okay, Geoffrey…

pretend he’s Geoffrey. Because Geoffrey is…um…

Disfigured, her partner says

But for some idiot reason we have to think of.

But, she says, is this gonna get sort of, you know, sensitive…?

Well, we just have to make it funny.

So they screw it up. They get thrown out of the Duke’s house



And then the daughter wants her puny boyfriend

No, we have to say first, the Duke is throwing a tournament

Throwing? Hosting? Staging?

We don’t care right now. To marry off his daughter to the winner.

But the guys, thinking they’ll pay him back for insulting them

are gonna have Geoffrey enter as the mysterious Prince of…

I don’t know, what would sound like a dumb guy’s inspiration?

We’ll come up with it

But the boyfriend is entering too, with the same scheme

So they have be from the same country

…so they get seated together at the banquet

So each one of them tries to fake the language

(…totally stolen routine)






Uncollected Poems



“I tell you it tickles the governor

He never minds it

seeing his natives in western dress

But such times he entertains a delegation

Then, you know, it’s about pleasing the customer

If you get me

The coffee-baron’s wife said it three times

On the boat coming up the river

How she’d like to be a wedding guest

Well, there is a reason

Because it looks…you don’t mind if I tell you this

A little like ambition

Like insurrection, if you were to follow

The notion to its logical end

No, I tell you, the governor thinks your book-learning

Is a treat”



See “Ambition” mini-essay


Uncollected Poems

Field Marks


What makes the clannist rich though he cries poor

He never chooses his pleasures but enjoys them all

His lustful wish is to be begged for help

And refuse it


She hears a crunch of shoes, a tuneless tune

A male whistle. Those things, like coughs, can be told

No, if she had known him, she might bear witness

With butter knives she jams the window shut

But has never changed the locks

Because to do so invites a beating

…not a beating, but a steady pressing on her temples

Was it her fault, can it be said

She deserved trouble

The economist says no, the world is divided

Measurers of risk and gain say, move it on

The attributional powers of the poisoned mind

Find the immaculate stand unaccused

The accused shrink defiled by a finger


She wants to count her money




Uncollected Poems

Brother Mouse


Crickets can fiddle

Ask them, Brother Mouse, to play us an air

It is near the frost, let the song be of death

A concerto of whinging joints

Comes lifelike ’neath a shaft of sun

And fewer are the hours

They may take the bow again


Spider doth weave

Beg her, Brother Mouse, to wind us a chord

It is near the dusk, let a harp-string mourn

A pocketful of coins

Comes tuneful to a wishing well

And little can they buy

’Til the seed sprout again


Worms devour

Will they, Brother Mouse, fatten and pass

It is near the starving time, let us live as must

On leavings, on frass

Come empty to our barren shelves

And nothing can we cry




Uncollected Poems



Everyone, Rapunzel says

Waylaying her latest swain

Surprising at the tomb-still cottage gate

his hesitant approach

Has a milieu, I wanted mine

To be more than that of witch’s hostage

Bound in a tower room

Do you want to know the truth?

I winnowed seeds where the birds had crapped them out

On the window ledge

Rolled them in balls of patiently gathered dust

Made pliable by spit, and sticky

I let them fall

They grew brambles, some

And fleurs sauvages, asters yellow-faced and crowned in white

But other few did sprout me morning glory vines

And these I hid from her beneath my hair

That my dear is the secret of my escape

Now if you have a tinder-box, we will set fire to it all




Uncollected Poems

Petal and Perfume


At their tables, they waited

She had made them see, by knotted strings

That flared white, and danced, and left their

Interweavings on the eye’s lens

Against the contrast of brown limbs

A bower of surpassing craft

Decked in petal and perfume

All that was prelude

The trespasser spoke at length


They were sleeping, uncertain

More readily would deem this cleverness

Call her thief, call her wraith, an angel

Or one come to lay a curse

Daughter to those best unnamed

But her story was all paean

Praise to the fair, green land

Praise to her stout, bold knights

Praise to thine honored father, prince

He who wearily

Lets her hold his gaze


Now will you swear an oath

For I will call you to my colors

One day…and these you know

You will know me, though never in this guise




Uncollected Poems



Morbid feet on a ruminant’s road

They are speaking likenesses of nervous rounding

More than an anthropologist’s brush off

An antelope’s roaming is found to be enough

By epoch’s end we have all gone soft

And taken to occupy our cushions

gravely fanning a white layer of flesh

Wise to keep the species afloat

The words we spoke and our movements lost

Their regional accents

For such time as the power of the thought

Mattering drifted as a breeze

Invisible to sift moribund leaves

Galled ones kiting on declining lifts

Of minor breaths sighed out

Sublimations of the organism

Winding down


A ruminant’s road, ancestral road

Captured that they tell the lore

A cored and peeled late Lascaux

Sunk by dewy exhalation

Pup sniffs dumb to the diagnosis

A conceit, is all it was, that they who’d marked down stories

For hoping when reminded to be right

Saw posterity or cared




Uncollected Poems

And Still


And still, they know nothing of laying pipes, or stacking bricks

They would be curious and agog at these

Shyly confer upon themselves nobility

Of feeling, of sensitivity

To let the layers lay and the stackers stack

And still, they know nothing of policing streets

Certain they have not and none they know

Conversance with criminality

Not them by duty called to boggle eyes

at the unpleasant task

Offerings of invisible hands turn up

like bundles from the mailroom fall

thwacking the inbox

To be deplored or marveled at


And still

Under pinpoint pupils smiles break in dire bitchery

They’ve been taught, these seminarians, you own your enemy

Gained this nametag mind from adolescent books of fantasy

The Lord of Darkness vanishes, he does, when you call him by his name


Darkness it is not, this worm in the machine

only the rattling loose of nuts and bolts

Making drivers duck their heads and grin in fear

Give obeisance with their hands

Making workers shrink, averse to the henpeck

“You’ll have to fix that, won’t you? Don’t bother me

with your work half-done.”

And leaving the alarm bell, closing the closet door, and clocking out




Uncollected Poems

The New Bogossus


Not less of dash and balder—Mencken’s meme

Nor so dignified as Nixon’s “not a crook”

Yet gusts such that the phrase “retarding wind”

Seems sumoned forth midst rhetoric run amok

A mighty personality bestrides

The neo-conner’s erstwhile throne of reason

Mother of Jesus! the disenfranchised cry

Democracy’s sword devalued to a coupon

Such as sales team’s star performer’s swag

May yield, a fortune cookie, or psychic friend’s

Prediction, in a pithy wink or tag

“Give us your contributing lifetime members

Your vetted recruits referred by trusted sponsors

Women…er, ladies…who know their sex’s limits

Colorful and well-connected mobsters

Send these, the kind of folks we know, and please

We’d prefer an online graduate’s degree




Uncollected Poems



Starting fresh a heart for bold endeavor

The probing intellect makes like an inspector

For as the renovators have the door ajar

The walls pulled down floes of plaster

Pushed by traversing traffic to shore

Up against sawbucks chunks of gear

Where cords lie plugged together

The tiles hexagonal shorn flakes of snow

Unpointed where the tips would grow

Waxed yellow white and black scuffed charcoal

The windows are good, the quantity of those

And the lovely waving glass and the framing in its fanciness


The fanlights stained

And smoke outside of a second exit

No one to order off the pioneer

Curious he and she make for the stairs

The chandelier at the broad first landing

And that far larger over the lobby

Someone has hung a blue tape plastic

Garlanded spanning drops of prism

But what do they want, our heroes


They want to know

Where the notorious crime took place

Does the hallway carpet confess it

Have they razored that bad patch out

Will it fall like the plummeting addict

Said to have cast the fatal glance

Fetched on the railing and bounced like a gymnast


She didn’t shriek

Needed a frozen moment perhaps

A moment of assimilation

Another tick to ask herself

What will I do

Is there hope at all

And just when below the baggage cart rolled

And the gun still in her hand went spinning

He was an infamous boulevardier

She was never identified




Uncollected Poems



Be ossuary of the boneyard

Be statuary of the arcade

Stealing tale-bearing, stop

Freeze in relief but soft

Catwalk over the under with stealthful feet

An icicling drip of sewer fat

Piles on the pit of the catacomb

That underpinning of the street

A caryatid hefts upon her head entablature

A spinning wheel rips the thoroughfare

Twinning of bitch and bully

The New Hermaphrodite


Polished trinkets may be carved therefrom

Or take the thing and mount it on a plinth

Be reliquary of wooden splinters

Be mortuary in alley of monuments

Where the famous bring their pilgrims

Paying rent

But other rents are sought

It very nearly is a plot

Were you asleep the day hope dressed itself

Then lie awhile yet


Delphiniums may grow on limey soil

Or pigs be fed a mix of bone and mash

Salt bacon for your voyage o’er the Styx

Ask her, when you pass that isle, what three-eyed Fate






Uncollected Poems

The Sovereignty


King toad in straw basketed with his fellow

Rivals lords of hollows under walls

King toad yellows shrinking sandy-hued withal

His eyes squeezed wise to the sovereignty of tucking

He sighs himself flat and banks his warmth

Like to a sun-baked skipping stone he can

Be a pleasing object in the hand

He can live in simultaneity with objective

Rationality and be bled for his bile in medieval

Cottage sorcery he is a small religion

Conferring wartily peace of mind

A curse to poison wells and topple pedestals

Stop cooking fires burning stop

Pots boiling

Plague has maddened the untouched

They see the figure of the flagellant

Yodeling unto the saints hands melded dirtily

With strangers’ taken up in antic dance

Strangers come with faces swathed in unguents

Scheme to conflagrate the poor for comfort

They know it wretched however may be

There is life and there is death

Saving there is spending

Speaking keeping silent

Thinning growing fat




Uncollected Poems

The Loath of Oilty


You, the undersigned

Sacrifice your present ha

ppiness for future winnings

The future is the be

st place for be

ach combings and the shaking out

I saw the shine

Of a crushing double blood

Macchiato lime twist with a cinnamon stick


Bearing heavy on the vanishing point

craterly as an orbal Mars

An orange grandad of benignity

a dimpled Florida juicer winking light


Of intellect, of intellect

That rarely found and fine…but not the kind

To tenderize a sinewy dreamscape

Stabbing peppery phrase-making into flinching

Students of the times

the tent

that promises a side-show and delivers

a finger-wag

ging not many who come

from your backgro

und are suitable

no good


Betray our secret and it’s really too late

Later on, everything

If you did not do this, s

omeone else would have to

you hurt reputations

Candidate, you are doing an excel

ent service for your community

We particularly want you t

o be the one to help us

If you don’t help, we

threaten you with violence

How dare you say so

! They are the salters of the earth

Please offer a gift of thanks at holiday time

They are irration

al and will poison your dog

Stop offending sight




Uncollected Poems
Decoration Day


There is a gentling terrain

Of tussocked bluestem parchment brown

Straw that compliments a bloom

Turning the new leaves glaucous

Color schemed by negligence

Sallow below, a bloodless husk calicoed into cloth

And lichen over stone and marbled bone

Verdigris, vanilla…moss viridian

Will here be advertised by name

An ancestor the visitor can’t guess

And hopes to speak to

At her last address


Speak to of what

To a dead one who knows the story’s end

So little else

In lonely faith to each day’s sundown

Rising to knead the bread

To burn the fires again

Over the hill, over the hill, to the valley far away

Yonder, dear, and yonder still, lies the blessed, blessed place

Sleeper be as yeast when summoned by the trumpet’s call


Speak to of what

We living have leisure now

We eyeball thirty things at once

Some negligence again

The visitor had hoped

No, nothing never could be done

Cut wildflowers and lay them down




Uncollected Poems

No Stake in the Game


The hour seemed hot

And the malefactor

not alone in gauging how the wind was blowing

conditions dry enough like sarcasm

Imagine     towering figures

turning brat     Marshall plan negotiators

men like that

gnomes, they prove, listening under toadstools

Galloping gourmands    Saturns

never wrong…that is…never a wrong ingredient

In the stew


The hour seems hot

And the southwest winds

And the thought of cool advice

From California friends

Not friends but flight technicians

Lonely in pursuit of patriotic memes

Camouflage and mirrored lens and child in pink


Hot     and gusting pine straw

Plays like a video in reverse

From the tiered stack

From the ritual bones     smirk

(them possum, fool)

From anything at hand




Uncollected Poems

Lionera Skimgold


Lionera Skimgold had been almost a cavalier

She had ankle-wedged herself with camelotish

Leanings on the leap from Maid of the Chambers

With blunt scissors cut into Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court

And then her pointless tendency to make herself cozy

Tripped her down to a town council

One might picture Lionera apologetic, coy

Not overmuch, yet Skimgolds obviously chumming

Types, up with cat’s-eye-spectacles-wearing customers

Like unto their own shoulder-caped sleeves of cashmere

Never luxury, only most practical cash

Layouts on simple black longevity in cardigans

Skimgolds those tee crossing chapettes invariably clerks

But a Lionera must this somewhat contradict

And to the question introduce a catch

Why should her mother yield to such caprice

Wartime romance was it with a dashing captain

The clan’s undying oath upon a forfeited castle

Is the name said short i-ed as might be in the old country

Does the amiable-faced vest-clad collector

Of postcards from the golden age of steam cruisers

Feel his favorite researcher has charismatic

Emberings that flare crimson in the heart of a crusader

Does his own answer as the charger to the cornet

Does she find within an ashy tome a charm

By mistake, then, do they vanish at the chanting

Thereby coming by these carven words full circle

Or is Miss Skimgold a sixties’ sexist’s typist coifed

In bouffant over hair-form colored crass

Sleeveless turtleneck, knocked-off double-knit Chanel

Archibald Tebb, her paramour’s, red sports car crashing

Just as she takes her glasses off and pops in a cassette

He vaults the balcony uncorking champagne

Against the doorframe leans without chalance

Mirrored shades he tosses on the chenille

Then a bullet streaking in disrupts like censorship




Uncollected Poems



Come on, come on you

blanched and legless hellbender

Tucking the lettuce edging of your gills

About your trembling shoulders like a shawl

You blanched and legless hellbender

Smitten by the torchlight

Bronzing the sound-proof undulations

Of your pit under rock under ooze

Your all in all because you feel it so

If you’re wrong you

Addict and soulless thrill-seeker

Bucking the giddy dive of nostalgia

Or the carpet knife in the hand of the spotter

You addict and soulless thrill-seeker

Stuck with a sudden enemy’s discretion

Your eyes bleed where the waters sparkle

Lo. The world is round after all.

Wrong you, but come on, you

Pointless unprodded prodder

Here is your apotheosis

Your chance to hide a perfect copy of your creed

You pointless unprodded prodder

Inside that void thoracic cavity

Here is your chance to dim and flare

Ironically in the way of a tube light

To be right as outer space

Deathless as faith that knows nothing




Uncollected Poems

When You See God


When you see god nose your horizon

Inconvenient choosing the hour before the alarm goes off

Before you lift your fork

Before you find your pen and jot your thought

An acronym, had it been? for blunder

A plan you’d had to get thinner

By mistake you run the cinders raked in song

You and your hunnish competition

blooming every billionth of a second

Fresh hard breathing down your neck

An engineered spring in your insole

Raiment more daring than words you know

To name these meshy hues of orange and green

Not hallelujah nor harmed anthems

Nor procrastinated passions lilting screeds

All lovely sentiment ruined by on-screen pairings

Montage scenes

Spark at a strike under your heel and theirs

Gumball-sized petards tossed up and bursting

With a whiff of sugar scent

in air


Among things never coming to the rescue

Can-do civilians cloaked in selfless grit

Red Cross armbands

RAF sky-cavaliers piloting de Havillands

Vaudevillians cracking wise for the USO

French resisters plucky Belgians

WACS and Rosie….Lady Liberty herself

The minds the mottos the taking of every bull

by the horns the world

Those old characters belonged to

Among things never coming to the rescue

Granny and the house she bought on time

New signees to prop the pension fund

And doctor bills and college fees so cheap

Capital and socialism somewhere met




Uncollected Poems

You’ve Lost Me


Might a laugh be excused

Only let play and withdrawn a second after

Only the news a second time

Making chapter two in the book of failed tries

Ironed flat between stronger signals

the man who shrieked old one who consoled

the flickering intercom I’m sorry

think then might the pulse of these sink gentle

and lay themselves just blanketing

Across the sea where whinny and cackle

About a scattering of fries

Some gulls at sisters and rivals


So along this beach

Two figures stroll

One searching for expression says

Don’t worry

I’m not worried

They’ll get it straightened out

They won’t

We’re out too far

Too far abroad too far from home too far to fall

You’ve lost me

Yes, it was the gulls


Dictation also coming in excess of noise

It would be fine and not so painful

Befitting now the attitude is fateful

To stir, to spin the globe

As masters of great weaponry in secret do

As pusillanimous self-loathers

Fancy in hollow hearts the ill to come

And the dim religion of dimensional immortality

Allow them this gift’s bestowal

On the liberated envied.




Uncollected Poems



It’s always argued on the basis of the extrous

Strouphes three or four times on the consciousness, then exits

The whole surrender into pestiour leads to this defaulting mood

I mean the yoyunk sort of pestiour, that comes from lack of roots

Then the smart ones hustle in, and it’s all bunkita, bunkita

And the naysayer in the group is bound to throw bituna

With a mocktrind at the core that can’t be solved

Bituna, what I’m saying, also segatif, a snob’s game

As you know…and who can listen while they fogatise and agotise?

What the times call for, is a simple pelcrot

Not a platitude, but, you understand…the clopert sort

A pithy summing up everyone recognizes qosse

We should crevlog as many of these as seem worth keeping

But, don’t bother with the latest motrick

I mean, drimoct, drimoct, or do you think?

Unboat, then, be on board or don’t




Uncollected Poems

Like Hell


On your honor

Or upon your oath

Do swear to, or in association with (at any rate)

Today you see there’s advantage in planning ahead

Just where it tells most, go slot in a word

That’s no one’s bond, assuredly not yours

Not only because they used to

Used to…?

Avow—too strong

Insist, committed

Insinuate   too like a charge

(and orphaned actors never charge their handlers)

Imply   may be

Suggest   not really

Hint at, get at, drop a blank and bid you fill it

Used to

Well it’s awkward that your faith should fuel the franchise

Like a cow pie flaming neath a pioneer’s prairie grate

But you should bear in mind

Killers believe in the retribution of a god

Or, unless they don’t—everyone lies

And what ekdikesis will shrivel your fingers

If you touch the book of camp fire tales

On this occasion of solemnly, so help me


In the 70s many/most identified with the horror of horrors

Yet life’s teeming edge demands perpetuation

Evolves into a virion’s wholly realized deform

The dead tell tales of their own

Can sing in affecting baritone

And play the politics of how dare you

Is it my gory locks, that trouble you?

Is it the disco beat I shake them to?

Is this an interview or a beauty contest?

Do I care if I look like Hell?

I wasn’t fashionable then…I’m not like you a weathervane

It’s nothing to me if you swear on a stack of paper and binding





Uncollected Poems

Mr. Prosecutor


The witness/killer weeps

He is surprised…bushwhacked by a tactic

“Mother doesn’t care.”

Mother, he tells the doctor, is just outside in her rose garden

Often since Papa died I find her staring at the fountain

He calls to her from the patio, apologizes, she has gone upstairs

“She’s having one of those spells. You’ve missed her, I’m afraid.”

Dr. Weber hoists his bag. “I’ll go up to her.”

Round-eyed he backs away

But then David says, “No, no, it’s nothing, this weakness. But you mustn’t

disturb Mother.”

The stealthy grey-haired housekeeper is seen

Dusting the spindle-legged table in the foyer

As cousin Margot grasps the telephone, it stops ringing

Mrs. Nevers ushered to the witness stand

Admits she felt she must return from her disgrace

And look after her son. I could not disabuse him, Mr. Prosecutor

It seemed dangerous to do so. I began to keep house for him

That the townsfolk trusted the science teacher seems odd, but his calling’s

eccentricity had been allowed

Their feint and dodge in black and white opens the drama, as he eats his

apple pie and drinks his milk at

Friendly Maude McKinley’s lunch counter

An invitee, his cousin Margot left bankrupt by divorce

Prompted in this strange house, with magazines laid open on her bedspread,

and a photo of a young and smiling David

She knows it was not on the vanity the day that she was shown to

This room

She finds honeyed tea on a tray with homemade candies, divinity and fudge

Agnes Nevers left them, she can only suppose

She sleeps in her chair, a pre-Raphaelite poem slides from her lap to the


This does not wake her

She dreams of David, neatly groomed, without

the lock of silvered hair that falls over his brow

Suited, asking her by gesture for a dance

His broad ivy league forehead seems in fantasy restrained

A normal marriageable man, though speaking in an accent

typified by theatre; for television playhouses of the day

preferred such roles essayed by the stage trained

Who knew the cultivated little man now cringing on the stand

heard voices and saw apparitions. Dr. Weber knew

Perhaps you would be healthier with a daily cup of cocoa-malt

Sing along. No more laundry done with a block of soap

Sponge your stains away

Rather than the thing you like we’re going to have mine

Rinse in hot the doubted house its cache of weapons left in sight

Gangs of rowdies need this reputation

For winning by a landslide in the coming insurrection




Uncollected Poems

What’s That Thing


The sidekick’s black Mustang swings a one-eighty

A name freezes action on the screen

We see him mouth a line and wave to somebody

The portly old-timer, too, swings in his desk chair

Phone to his left ear

Face always stuck here

Eyebrow arching, poised to scramble

Young hotshot bound to get into

His weekly fight or scrape

It takes a portion of the time, the choreography and the chase

The two-part story’s first half ends

The hero’s treacherous new girlfriend

Is the dealer’s, really. They have a complicated wish, his gang,

to steal a file, that a junkie from the street

could have got for him long since

by burglary, not seduction

And done the work for nothing

Nothing much

But this is TV, not life, so the hero flips the light

He says, “Julie”; she whirls, with a photo, 8 x 10

(a whim of the developer)

She says, “Rick, it’s not what you think.”

He says, “You lied to me, Julie.”

She drops the file, a gun is in her hand

She shoots, and the screen goes dim.


Now the doctor says he just can’t say

He shakes his head

The veteran private eye slips to the bedside

The actor lies there slack with parted lips

In the waning years of the golden age, his co-star often played

A hustler, or a pal, once or twice a second lead

He has to do the tears and prayer

It’s stirring

He might get an Emmy, but of course, it’s just a show

Not a movie of the week




Uncollected Poems



What about that golden arm

Give it back, will you give it back

It would have been some other wife he’d rooked

An after-image looking spectral, beckoning through glass

Smashing sea waves shooting foam across the rocks

spliced-in footage

quick cuts from the door and back

Saying not why did you rob my grave

I asked you only this, and it was not to be sustained

Mammon trumps the gothic whimsy of a queen

No, but come to me

Embrace me

Don’t forsake that promise made me



On this note of Messerschmitt-like strafing

Come fly with me, there’s time yet, yes time’s there

It hasn’t all gone horrid the adored one

Proven soon a clod of wax and hair

At the least we’ll see with eyes of seagulls

Plunge like Acapulcan divers over cliffs

And recall

In the fullness

The Rockford Files getting the culture right

With a knock at Irving Wallace

Normally the TV age’s groovy dance

Was jangly and robotic, often meant to be parodic

With a sixties smell of vinyl

But such clueless sport is biteless




Uncollected Poems

Movie of the Week


A small man climbs

Hurries but keeps his hand

clamped that it glide in care

Care not to lose that grip

For him each splintering riser yawns

And the rail sits to mock his inches

Like a tool that measures, the bar insists

“You must be so tall”

The music tells the scene starts comic

Fingers walk a piano’s high keys

A bassoon blat and the uniformed man

Hid on a corner stool, perched on a narrow

Plank gangway that skirts the bell tower

Lowers his binocular and focuses one eye

On the dwarf

“Is there word?”

“No, major, none. You must come down.”

The actor doing journeyman’s work

Though in wartime, the strong fighters gone,

he may be not an unlikelihood

In Hollywood he is, and plays the funny servant

The script calls for dithering, which he does

Begs his charge take sustenance

The major puts a finger to his lips

His glass he takes up and a woman

Pious among nuns in a nurse’s smock

Stops in the garden below, face grown wistful

She picks a flower

A rubicund poppy

A sister calls to her and she tucks this


In her pocket




Uncollected Poems

Sheila What’s Happening to Us


…the mystery is how they’re getting in

Like a pod-born infection of the country’s youth

One day your daughter is perfect and wears a dress

Joins Mom and Dad at the breakfast table

Spoons her oatmeal, studies for a test

One day a hippie cat with a reedy voice

(TV gigs today, Oscar later for that boffo 80s western)

Is leaning on the bell, looks like hell

Greasy long locks and love beads

Asks if Rain is in her room…heh!

Will she come down, daddy

Hey, man, I gotta split

Yeah, that ain’t my thing, man

But groovy, peace, man, anyhow

Dad’s eyes are popping

Rain, he says, when she saunters to the living room

In poncho and paisley peasant blouse

So what, she says, that’s what he calls me

Have you been cutting classes

Don’t wait up for me

This father who sees the world he trusts

Disintegrate under a commie plot

Not explicit in the script, but we know

We know

…what undermines our nation’s values

Cut his teeth in regional theater

Got his break as a turtlenecked spy

A little past his prime and tubby

But a wonderful, sonorous delivery

Young blond guy (was a surfer) got to be the star

But here’s a chance to tackle timely themes

And to the movie camera, taking a close-up

This actor’s actor whispers to his wife

Sheila, what’s happening to us?



Uncollected Poems

The Day You Were Born


Cock an ear, your master’s voice, drip or pebble

Distracting drumbeat, or is it heads-up

Heads-up, Dodge Ball

You can be the smart one, saw this coming

When the world was blind

You can find yourself at the center of a bridge

A rope bridge, working itself untwined

A cliff’s edge lined in plastic palm trees

Studio TV’s safari-jacketed jungle yarn

Canceled soon

The firehose typhoon, swinger, you

whipping up it’s gonna flip you, then you’ll fall

You’ve come this far

And just to gain her admiration

She in the sarong, the village princess

who brought you here and urged you forward

You can’t go back

Are you not hearing that lilting call

It’s hard to tell, the fans keep blowing

Is that the medicine man’s voice as well

saying my son it’s no farther now to stay the course

than turn again

Twisted this way, your mind insists keep going

Only an ankle between the coils

Heroes finish what they’ve started

She believed in me…I, the Lion-Hearted

I forget. He won’t come out himself

But strong is my faith he has a reason

Even that, I think he mentioned

In his lecture

I can’t afford exposure, he’d said to me

We need help to make our Way strong

Sharp eyes and small men


Were you not dying for your country the day you were born




Uncollected Poems



city life thickens the plot confined

To a living room parochial

A heavy laugh-track, man and wife

Taped to the carpet apron to tie

Before a sofa black and white

“Mess this up, I’m gonna kill ya!”

“Try it and yer on yer own!”


The kitchen through the window

By fire escape the upstairs neighbor

Lowers her prize beef bourguignon

The lid comes off the pot

Turns out the cat got in it

That was one


There was the ranch

Hey, where they keepin’ Ol’ Doc Evans

Never see him but he’s steppin’ out

From a false front store on Main Street

Ain’t Red Hannigan’s gumptious widow

Missin’ her boy Johnny, freckled kid

Run after them bad men, crept up hid

Johnny saw ‘em by the canyon

Circle horses ’mid the pinyon

Took up with some no ’count injun

Johnny broke that ornery mustang

Widow Lily doesn’t like it



Low buildings, sand and scarlet

All this west coast life is signs, signs, signs

Ambulance barreling through the light

And the faultline

Green atomic glass was gathered

Somewhere close The Conqueror was filmed

Hero with a gentle manner

In his white coat heeds the beeper

Had a wife but couldn’t keep her





Uncollected Poems



Jack, waking to a sense…

Something stronger than a sense, he tells himself, a revelation

No, not wholly that

A reverberation

A weight about the size of a DC10, going crash

One he sees in retrospect was then

The crashing down of a tired, useless epoch

A life of swine and swill

In which he hadn’t known his power

That underlying birth persona

Put out of the way, like he’d done his former wife

Jack is a man who can acquit himself

Corey never could

But Corey thinks Jack might also make an end

Of the weak-making mother who’d tried to box him in

Yeah, he’s heard about it, Jack has

Consultants in the countryside

Squatting round the campfire

Hey, buddy, let me tell you

Since I got out, I feel so alive

And every time they try to throw the cuffs on

I’m gonna step aside


And everybody who tells this story, tells it alike

About a roaming band of satanic cultists

You can’t see ’em, they’re like black ice

Suppose the perfect joker could commit the perfect crime

It’s no good, Corey says, searching for his next personality

You can’t flush me out by telling me I’m stupid

I’m the guy who beat the system




Uncollected Poems

Actors Act


Being, at the wheel, free to fly, she’d closed her eyes


The light was red

But he was grinning like a wise guy

Revved and squealed off

A Mazda pushed the yellow light and blocked her

His rude old Ford was parked there

Catty-corner at the Holiday Inn

She thought she’d find him if she stopped

Cradling beer and ashtray, at the bar

He was that type



“I’m Tanya.”

She wears a snap-front overshirt, knit cuffs

Picked and pilled, badge pinned to chest

And so he guesses she is

He’s a charming drunk, with a vulnerable streak

The British accent just seems to come

Makes Corey laugh, inside, a little

Like the doctor never sat in a movie theater

Watching actors act

“So how is Tanya?”

She giggles. “Oh, I’m good.”


He wouldn’t get this chance

Fear and silence, calculating

Thinking, I can’t lose

But then he’d thought he couldn’t win

“Who is Jack?” A game I play

“No one I know.”

“Let’s explore that.”

He’s tired, sitting up in bed

Wondering how she sleeps with the TV

Yammering and flashing light


The room goes dark

What if I just did this one?

For no reason…that’s the point

For no reason




Uncollected Poems

Corey Jack’s Misery


He’d been going good

Corey Jack, thirty-nine

One Italian heel on the ring

Pomps his hair like Elvis this time

Gauges, cause he tracks these things

The young guy in the mirror

Just shift around and tug out his lapel

Mostly thin

Mostly cool

Talking to this broad, who’s a little past it

She came up to the bar with a grin


“I don’t know why I had such a crush on Gene Hackman

Wasn’t he a priest? I think.”

He doesn’t know

He doesn’t know what she means.

“Corey,” she says, like he’d blanked or something.

“Yeah,” he shrugs and knocks her hand away,

“in that stupid movie.”

So, way back, he knew her, took her out

He hates her like she’s played him for a schmuck

Knows she thinks he knows her back

Said, “Liindaa” like he did because he does


It’s 1985

all the rush of immortality

Of that cusp between decadences

When gods were falling from the sky

Death and death and death

Came down

He feels scornful of religion

Big Guy don’t care for Linda

Jack, inside and out, has known this all the way

And yet, he feels there may be some law

That says your power, Corey Jack, diminishes

Because for years you haven’t proved it

To yourself



Uncollected Poems



Fixed in Corey Jack’s mind

His paranoia, so-called

A prophetic vibe he has known as a birthright

The pictures given are all wreckage

Windows busted out with a blackened lick of flame

A rank of old acquaintance wasted, cause

If you get the breaks you get a diploma

A contract from the state and permission

To put names on things

Pillars of standing corpses

A little army of his own making

Have spored into a rain forest

And that also fills the house

Corey could close his eyes and see the mushrooms sprout


“Ya killed people! Ya killed people! Take it serious!”

“Shit, come on,” Corey Jack says to the friend he hates.

Jared always got a theory. Competition is killing the economy.

What’s killing the economy is native stupidity.

Jerks like Jared. “I’m sorry I ever talked to you.”

“No, goddamn, Jack. It’s in the paper. You did time.”

“Well, then, it was one person. And I didn’t do her either.”

“I know. You’re cured.” Jared giggles. “You’re only one

person yourself, these days.”




Uncollected Poems

Working Overseas


He’s sure it’s gotta be some kind of lie

Lie maybe not the idea…some kind of scam

It starts to seem, when you think about it

Like you wouldn’t just end up the special friend

Of a guy who brokers weapons sales

In the oil zone

Claims he just got back from six months in Iran

What’s he even doing in a loser town

Far from Washington, nothing like New York

In a bar, sidling up to Corey Jack

Nodding towards the men’s room with a smirk

“I was away all that time, I didn’t get the news from home.

I don’t know why I think I’ve seen you someplace.”

Stan is always dropping suicide

It starts to seem like not coincidence

He’d kill himself for sure if he was this or that guy

He wants to know if Corey’s thought of working overseas

“You might disappear. I don’t know why you’d want to,

but you could.”


Some grinding guitar rises to a siren pitch

A siren someplace outside and Stan talks on finishing

cause in a genius sort of way, he’s saying

And Corey, not for any reason

Feels buzzed at genius

Set up a shotgun, wire in the basement, booby trap

Gotta look premeditated

“I didn’t hear what you were talking about”

Guy killed his wife…they let him off

for insanity

Stan with his Rodney Dangerfield eyes

Fixes on Corey’s

I figure you could fake that


So, Corey takes a drag

You want my help

You’re the man, Stan smiles




Uncollected Poems

American Expatriate


The colony encourages braggadocio

Gives heart to the gringo’s lean

Grinding poverty, as the phrase goes

A powder mill

A testing ground for the half-baked

Loaf, the hilltop house with its big glass views

Air-conditioned, the car garaged

TV rotten, but you get videotapes

Porn, lots of porn, if you like that stuff

Then they’ll throw in a whammy, when you all at once

See a face you know, and you realize,

It isn’t porn, it’s a sting

Everyone here is an exile

And everyone here is dirty

There’s a weird camaraderie with these sick tar-babies

You hate them more and more

You embrace them tighter

And you hate the locals

You see them eye that mountain overhead

Over yours

The money flows like a river of mud

And the death they want for you is slow and choking

So Stan has sent Jack down here to do some brokering

And for the first time he’s got a Beretta under the mattress

Makes him strong


He never knows if the playing cards are a gag

If the test’s whether Stanley’s boy’s a chump

If the girl he caught going through his drawer

Was the caretaker’s daughter—too Hollywood

He wakes up dead and can’t keep track









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