People Do Not Know

People do not know the reasons
Why they give their lives away
To fair strangers in foul seasons
With disdain or recherché

Love’s exotic forms before us
Shape our dreams in dreams of shapes
One performs as in a circus
While another sits and gapes

Written in a codicil is
Everything we never say
Where our heart is, there our will is
Secrets in a faraway

Sitting down to Sunday meeting
Settling for less than needs
Pastures new where sheep are bleating
Feet uncovered bruising bleeds

I’ve not mentioned what is rarer
Love with hope or hope with love
Alcohol makes lust seem fairer
Or makes hawks out of a dove

People do not know the answers
Why they give their lives in vain
Bankers dream of being dancers
Desert dwellers dream of rain

Where the many go, we follow
Into caverns of the heart
Darkened caves with echoes hollow
Placing neither horse nor cart

Send the message to the mountains
Happiness is here for all
Cool your feet in pools and fountains
Hug the big and lift the small

Our abandoned wishes bring us
To a place beside the sea
Teachers check and often ding us
For our plain hypocrisy

I was once a café hidden
For the few who found me there
Anxious, daft and anger-ridden
Breathing in my sulky air

But my love came in and asked me
If I chose to leave or stay
Called me to the front and tasked me
With the order of the day

People do not know what’s habit
Why the same paths they will tread
And the same tombs they’ll inhabit
Loving long when love is dead


(“People Do Not Know” – 9-30-2015)


We stretch through that which stretches in ourselves;
We reach for all we see we may desire,
And breathe along the edges of a truth:
That sellers only sell when there’s a buyer

Each nerve and tendon rallied to the cause,
We find our focus, strong and indiffuse:
For humans cannot have if they won’t reach,
And tendons atrophy
From lack
Of use


[Note: the Greek root of “nerve” (neuron) originally meant “tendon”. – Owen]

So Elegant

She looked so elegant the night
That we went to the prom;
Her angry beauty was serene,
Her bitter face was calm

She was in lovely black, the very
Height of teenage fashion;
We spent a night of happiness
In dancing and in passion

So elegant behind the gym,
The ancient bricks that framed her;
One night to lead the blessèd life
Before her demons
Claimed her


She Left Me For The Rainbow

Some years ago, she left me for the rainbow.
This I do not regret, but I did then:
I walked in blue as our dreams were abandoned
The things that could not be, but might have been –

An orange sunset, indigo and violet
The sky beside the beach where we would be:
But I’d grow red in anger and resentment
To know that she and I were she and she

But green grows time and love blooms in an instant
And every reason flows to where it should:
The yellow sun breaks through the clouds of mourning
As rainbows hail the coming of the good

The ground where love once grew can still be watered
Or it will grow indifference, or much worse:
She left me for the rainbow and in heartache
I lived to find new love
And write this verse

The First Time…

The first time that I kissed her,
On a scale of one to ten,
Was roughly, oh, a three.
So she said: “Let’s do that again.”

The second time was better,
Some nice form, some good technique –
The third time, we had slipped a bit
But that was not our peak —

For by the forty-seventh time
We’d got it mostly right.
But still, we practiced half the day
And well into the night

For anything worth doing
Is worth doing really well:
And it was great. But I’ll stop there.
Hey, I don’t kiss
And tell

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Night and Day

Have you ever had an experience that was amazing the first time, but terrible the second time around? Or vice versa? What made it different the second time?

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I never met either of my grandfathers;
I’ve heard a lot about them, nonetheless.
That one was kind, a gentle man, a draftsman;
The other was an alcoholic mess

I’d see their photos on the walls, in albums;
A pair of piercing eyes, so grave and sad –
But realized that I would never know them
Not in-the-flesh, the way my parents had

A carpenter who liked to drink – my mom’s dad;
I know his favorite joke, some things he said –
My mom was only nineteen when he passed, though,
From the poor home my mom had lately fled

An engineer for Kodak was my dad’s dad;
Who taught my dad’s young wife first how to drive.
A man she loved, and still calls “Pop” to these days,
Who showed her gentlemen were still alive

Why do I talk about these long gone men now?
Because I realize that all I know
About my grandfathers is in the stories
I’ve heard about them, passed from long ago

And so when my days end, let my grandchildren
Know funny things I did, or things of worth;
Let me leave them a legacy of stories
To show that I once walked
Upon the earth

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Prompt : “Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone. “

Fateful Night

A pizza place. A group of guys
And girls from local theater;
We went out after our first show,
And I had drunk a few –

The song playing was “Red Red Wine”.
We stood beside the jukebox there;
I told her I wrote songs myself,
And she could hear them now

If she came over to my place.
And she said, “yes,” so off we went.
I know that I’d had too much beer
For me to be so brash –

We’d known each other many weeks –
She’d flirted with me oftentimes –
But all of my attention had
Been elsewhere at the time;

But now, alone and feeling right,
We went back to my place and did
As many men and women since
Have done in such a case –

I didn’t know (I couldn’t know)
The heartaches there in store for me,
How difficult a job we’d have
Raising children together –

If I gone home straightaway,
Or drank a Diet Coke, instead –
I’d have no sons, and I would be
A different – very different – me

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(… a prompted post …)

Stylistic Irrelevance

Now I’ve been told that no one writes in rhyme.
I seen it writ, and hear it all the time.
‘That isn’t,’ I’ve been told, ‘real poetry.
That’s now the world of abstract imagery.’

Linguistics, I confess, does fascinate:
Potentially, to make both inchoate
And well-developed words take sudden twists,
And turn syntactic rocks to amethysts —

But, usually, I go a different way;
I look for rhythm in what I might say,
And rhyme: a way of flourishing at end
Whatever path my thoughts and words might wend.

I feared, though, often, none would think worth while
Adoption of such antiquated style;
My words would go and come back unremarked,
With no more useless journey e’er embarked —

I’ve done it anyway, and now I find
My fears were groundless, long-since left behind:
For rhyme and rhythm are, I guess, okay –
As long as one has some small thing
To say

(.. . ..)

Almost Six


This is me at almost-six.
Happy in my roguish tricks;
Handsome devil I was then,
Full of dreams that might-have-been –

If I was back there again,
I’d, no doubt, do what I did;
For, we’re always “us” at heart,
That’s a fate that none can rid –

So I’d laugh and cry and run,
Trip and fall and skin my knees;
Drive my older brother nuts,
Get my pizza with plain cheese –

Read and read and read and read –
That’s what I did at that age;
If I did go back again,
I’d devour every page

Just as I did way back then.
I can’t say those days I miss:
All they were is what they were —
Food for kindly prompts
Like this

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Daily Prompt: “Life’s a Candy Store” — You get to be a 6-year-old kid again for one day and one day only — plan your perfect 24 hours. Where do you go, what do you do, and with whom?

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