Jan 23, 2022

the profit in sorrow


The monstrous factories thrive upon the markets of the war.

-Robert Duncan

Go to the time-clock and punch in; it is time to go 

to work, my friend. There is blood yet to spill and profit 

yet to glean from the torn limbs and broken bodies. 

We placed the children's souls on the assembly line, 

soon they will be packaged up for marketing. Don't cry. 

After all, there's plenty more where they came from. 

Days and nights of blood. Shattered families. Horror. 

There is profit in peace, too. (There is always profit, 

no matter what.) But there is far more of it in war 

and death. Sorrow will feed new cars to the wealthy. 

Agony will put fat into the bank accounts. Load 

the weapons again; death is writing a really big check. 


Jan 22, 2022

the long smile of the undertaker


The quiet way that the cancer slips into the lungs of the smoker. 

As silent as dust. As steady as the tide. 

The wheeze of the smoker's breath, the awful stink of it. 

The blackened lungs. The blackened heart. 

The little  whisper of death, "Trust me. All is well." 

The long smile of the undertaker, his black suit is immaculate 

And his haircut is perfect. 

What's that? Do I have a match? Of course. 


the end of summer


One can tell from the way the heat lays across the land 

Like a blanket you can't kick off 

That time is winding down. 

You wear time like clothing. 

All is quiet. You don't reach for a book 

And you don't walk to the door. 

You don't call for a friend. 

There are dust particles floating in the light from the window, 

And you watch those. You'll die one day, 

And until that happens, other people will die. 

Some you love, some you don't. 

Part of the room is sunlight, and part is in shadow. 

You become aware of your breath, and you stand, 

But you don't have any place to go, 

Or anything to do. 


Jan 21, 2022

The Grand, Wide Evening of You and Your Death.


Your death sits in a corner chair, 

Unnoticed by anyone in the room. 

Except you. You notice your death. 

Everyone else moves across the width 

Of the evening and through their lives 

Oblivious to that which commands your attention. 

You can see your death waiting there for you. 

"Poets dwell on death," some fool will say. 

Because they are blind. 

And so the evening passes, 

And one by one or two by two the people leave, 

And so return to their own eternities, 

To the depths of their own being. 

Finally it is just you and your death. 

And neither of you speak. 

The silence is magnificent. 

And then, with a tired sigh, 

Your death stands up and walks toward you. 


The Bones Are Held Together By Cheap Glue And One Can Hope For The Best.


Summer has ended, but it is still hot, and now the bones 

Are calling each other names and making vague threats. 

The bones seek someone to blame for the state of things. 

The soul has had enough and looks toward Heaven 

Like someone who has been waiting a very long time for a bus. 

Rapture. Judgment. 

Maybe some kind of peace. 

The soul keeps hope that some good will come from this life. 

The bones have fallen apart in the street. 

Waves of heat rise from the asphalt of the street like angels 

Returning to God. 

Glue those bones into place and wipe the sweat away, my friend. 

The bus will indeed arrive, sooner or later. 

Everyone else is waiting, too.


Jan 20, 2022

what the carrot tells us


A man with a long, bent carrot for an arm 

walks across the world of the bone weary. 

His clothes are made of chocolate and shadow, 

he eats beans and souls, and his shoes are well shined. 

He often mutters dire warnings to those who pass by. 

"Beware the woes that shall betide man." 

"Trust only today, not tomorrow."

How did he come to be here? Is he weary, too? 

What on earth has happened to his arm? 

These are things which  we may never know, but friend, 

a little mystery once in a while is good for the soul. 

- - - The carrot tells us that. - - - 


Stranger, come in and sit at the table.


Are you hungry? 

Break bread with me, 

then rest for a while. 

Blessed are the hungry 

and the weary. 

We are the same in the void, 

you and I - beings of light, 

beings of empathy and love, 

souls inside of bodies. 

Touch your forehead to mine 

and take my hands in yours. 

Brother, sister, we are one. 

We are all part of The One. 


-for William Mahoney Sr, grandfather-

Jan 19, 2022

not the best news


Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah. 

- Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

You can build a wall, but it won't keep the hate out, 

or hold the love in. It's not the best news, I know. 

In fact, a wall can also do just the opposite, and hold in 

the hate, blocking out the love. And what then? 

No, it's better to just be wide open to life, to face 

what you must, to love what you can, and to try 

to fend off hatred when it approaches you. Why not 

begin some fantastic and ridiculous project? 

"I'll write a hundred thousand poems of praise 

and then write the word "love" across a cloud 

in bright purple." Or this, "Here I am, spending 

lifetime after lifetime becoming more fully myself."

And why not? The time will pass anyway, you know. 

You can build a wall, but it won't keep the hate out, 

or hold the love in. It's not the best news, I know. 


So, perhaps naked, the earth opens up and swallows you whole.


Wounds of rocks, wounds of dirt, 

But not of the flesh. 

Underground rivers 

Untouched by the other humans. 

It isn't so bad. 

Worms, untroubled by thought, 

Digging in the deep. Flesh memory 

Of a life below. Perhaps 

Naked, the earth takes you back. 

And even then the imagination 

Is free, rising up, unencumbered, 

Taking flight like a bird of prey. 


Jan 18, 2022

She was dead, and I didn't want to look at her.


The 'viewing,' they called it. The lid was open, 

but I didn't want to remember her that way. 

I wanted to remember her alive, and raising hell 

with righteous indignation about some slight, 

or laughing until the tears rolled down her cheeks, 

or cooking yet another bland but filling meal. 

My mother. 

As she was dying at age eighty-five, I was trying 

hard to get home. I was changing planes in Phoenix 

when my cellphone rang. It was my sister saying, 

"She's going, right now." and she put the phone up 

to my mother's ear. I told her that I loved her 

as they called for my section to board the plane, 

and standing up, I told her that she had been 

a wonderful mother, that I would never forget her. 

Her breath rattled, and she whispered one word, 

"Love." And she died. My sister had  given me 

that lovely last moment, the goodbye; think of that. 

There was a second or two of silence and then 

my sister's voice said, "She's gone." But I knew it 

already. I knew my mother was not in that body,

because I could feel her in air around me, her soul 

walking beside me down the boarding ramp 

to the plane, her soul in the light streaming in

through the little windows. My mother 

was everywhere, a part of the wonder of it all, 

the magic of being alive, a soul in existence. 

Who knows what this means, really, to be a soul 

inside of a body, or a soul loose in the universe? 

And what is the universe anyway? Is this life 

a carousel? A recycling plant for spirits, the essence 

of life? Are we going in circles, life after life, 

just continually trying to get it right? To grow 

into something greater? I have trouble believing

that it is one shot and then out, because 

that doesn't seem worth the effort and pains 

of trying to grow and learn. And I know this; 

that I want to be a better man than I am. 

So I didn't want to look down into that box, to see 

the shell of what my mother had been. I wanted 

to think of her as full of life one minute, and then 

rejoined to the light the next, a part of whatever God is, 

or what God might be, or at least this, to think of 

my mother bringing her wild powers to the oversoul, 

the beautiful golden power of everything. 


Jan 17, 2022

red bark and purple leaves


A tree with red bark and purple leaves under an orange sky. 

A green sun and blue grass. 

A man with one leg and no heart at all. 

A sound that both is and isn't death at the worst possible moment.

A hammer was taken to the clock but it didn't stop time from passing. 

A grief with stripes that eats the children like breakfast cereal and doesn't care. 

Who are you with your problems and your fears? 

Who are you when the moon cuts like a razor knife? 

Who are you with your blood and your pain, with your fears? 

Who are you as the curtain comes down on the final act of your sad play? 

Who are you as they hammer the nails in your cheap wooden coffin? 

Why are the trees eating the autumn leaves with forks? 

Why are the dogs walking on their hind legs like hairy men? 

Why have stars excluded the planets from their deeper confidences? 

Why are so many people, millions of them, living in poverty, hungry or homeless or both, while the wealthy eat veal and drink the finest wine?

What has caused mankind's loss of conscience? 

A tree with red bark and purple leaves under an orange sky. 

Black nuts covering the dry ground below. 

Birds that do not sing. 

The villagers put garlic in the vampire's mouth, but he rose at dusk anyway. 

There is a fire in the graveyard. 

In the distance, the sound of a train. 

Yes, the tree has red bark and purple leaves. 

Yes, your time here won't last forever. 

Yes, death is your most honest friend, at the end of all things. 

A tree with red bark and purple leaves under an orange sky. 


the explanation


I think it is for the dead to explain life. 

After all, their objectivity and experience are complete, 

and I doubt if they have any agenda, being dead. 

There is nothing more for them to need to prove, 

And no use for lying at this point. Also this; 

I have never especially trusted the living.  


cast away those worries


Open the window to the west,
and disappear into the air inside you.
- Kabir 

We are a dense, thick ocean; anyone could float 

on this surface. Human hearts pull in the tide 

and human indifference sends it away again. 

There are ships here with no sailors, and fish 

that have broken away from their schools, 

beings who will now face eternity on their own. 

Truly, we all face eternity on our own.

Open that westward window, the sunset 

is majestic, and too many of us are praying 

to the east anyway. Could God even hear us 

through the drone, the cacophony of everyone 

praying, "me, me, me?" Cast those worries 

into our ocean, the tide is going out again now. 

We are the ocean, the sunset, the air itself.