There is a white two-story on Albany in Schenectady,

A white bungalow on 131st in Chicago,

And a white double flat on Hampstead in Cleveland.

All of these houses give shelter to  America.


“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

I am the house where the Statue of Liberty comes to play poker.

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”

I am the house where the Liberty Bell gets its crack.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I am the house that declares independence.

“In God we trust.”

I am the house where God can take off his shoes.

“Oh say!  Does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”

I am the house where the flag stays a triangle forever.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up.”

I am the house where Dr. King no longer has to dream..

“Give me liberty or give me death.”

I am the house where this choice is unnecessary.

“Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

I am the house full of answers.


I am the house of broken promises,

the house that is vacant,

the house that wonders

why homeless people

and peopleless homes

can’t find a life together.


Copyright 2016

(Written for the “Breathing Lights” project)

Gordian Knot

As a member of Poets And Writers Against Trump, I offer this piece as my contribution:

Who is this man who drapes himself in rhetoric,
Self-anoints his name in stars,
Binds the nation with a Gordian knot?

How did he get here, to this place on the Hillj?
A parachute sickened with money let loose from media drones?

And where are the saviors,
The promised ones with lips wet with mercy?

The honeyed words of the wild-haired prophet
Were choked to distant whisper,
Promised salvation lost on swirling desert winds.

False knights astride Hadrian’s tanks
Entered secret procession with heretic priests leading thin burros.

They tore at the wounds, with fingers of hypocrites,
All while tightening the noose,
Pretending it jewelry.

Remember who you are, oh Nation of Lincoln –
Children of the soil,
Descendants of slaves,
Offspring of immigrants.

It is your collective breath, exhaling righteous indignation,
That manifests truth.
Your collective numbers that rip masks off of charlatans.

Tell me you recall the Gordian knot.

Show me your resolve,
Tempered like steel,
That can slice through the ligatures and return
We The People.



Moon Maker

She hunches over the table,

Squinting under the glow of twelve lunar lights,

Twelve holy moons

That anticipate creation.

Scraps of life litter the linoleum,

Disconnected images

Pilfered from the deep pockets of God.

All adapted,

All altered,

Her hands dowsing for answers

To quench a deep thirst.

Tails sliced off comets,

Their fire no a color,

Beads sewn on scales

Of century-old koi,

Snippets of conversation,

Laced inside smoke,

Bits of asparagus

Woven into spirals.

Everything that exists,

All that does not,

Lie strewn at her feet

Awaiting this moment.

She reaches for a moon,

Number Four among Twelve,

Smaller than the others,

Its sheen less intense.

But it is the chosen one

She will name the Turtle Moon.

(For Lisa, Happy Birthday)

(Copyright 2016)


I ring the doorbell of the world’s perfect poet, her modest brick bungalow a mere four blocks away.

I wait, the pause startles me, and then, there it is.

Three celestial notes summoned from a flute hallowed out of an angel’s left wingbone.

Who else but the world’s perfect poet needs divine intervention on a cement city porch?

A faded voice, coated in nicotine and pickled in gin, rises out of the ether, the world’s perfect poet a mere three rooms away.

“I’m coming, God damn it.  Just keep your pants on.  I’m mired in syntax and have to clean up.”

It comes as no surprise, her tongue a machete, slicing off conversation into mere words.

So I wait, wasting my time, trying to decode the formula for prose, carved with a butter knife in the fiberglass front door.

Only the world’s perfect poet would be so reckless and bold.

Suddenly, the door yanks open.  She stands there before me, the world’s perfect poet an arm’s length away.

“Don’t bother with that equation.  You’ll never solve it.  The algorithm goes back all the way to the kitchen.  But you’ll never see it because you can’t enter.  Just who are you anyway and what do you want?”

The world’s suspicious poet closes the door within inches, using her math as a formidable blockade.

“Are you one of those Jehovahs, sent here to save me?”

I knew all along this was probably a mistake.

I shake my head no, not a Jehovah, my tongue a dead fish in a shallow pond of sin.

So I just stand there, face to face with the world’s perfect poet, my chance for enlightenment slipping slowly away.

She is grizzled and wiry, head like a basilica, with skinny white legs shaped from expired feta cheese.

Most distracting of all is the three p.m. bathrobe, duct-taped and stapled with scraps of lined paper, a sash of spent typewriter ribbon cinching her secrets.

There are words on the paper.

I am bold.  I peer closer and…


meet the eyes of a hurricane, the force yet to come.

And then, unexpected, draped in complete “out of nowhere”, the world’s perfect poet gifts me advice.

“No word is wasted, not even the rotters.  Just toss them in the compost and let steep for a while.”

There was a slight pause, her eyes narrowed to slits, as she sized me p briefly, or at least so I thought.

“There’s paper and pencils, over there on the porch corner.  Go write something uncomfortable.  I’ve got better things to do.”

Miracles arrive on the stockinged feet of ghosts and depart just as quickly in galoshes filled with tears.

The world’s perfect poet slams shut her front door.

I sit for an hour, biting verbs off of sentences, pushing my pencil into words as they squirm.

In the end, there is nothing, only:

three pencils, broken,

six useless words written,

a wad of lined paper tossed at the front door.

I am a charlatan, a hypocrite, an abuser of language.

What was I thinking to come here at all?  To ring the bell of the world’s perfect poet, who seeps art through her skin, without even trying, creating tattoos of language before pencil meets paper.

I head down the steps, broken, dejected, my mission a failure, my passion is crushed.

The door eases open, I might be mistaken, the world’s perfect poet grabs up my six words.

I watch as she tapes that sad scrap of paper, smooths it along her uneven hem.

She doesn’t even see me, maybe doesn’t care to, the front door left open just enough for stray thought.


She calls this place “The Devil’s Workshop,” asylum of idle hands and unkept promises.

A sarcastic travel agent issued her a one-way ticket in a vintage handbasket, not the best mode of travel on an empty stomach.

Who knew the junket would entail steamy back roads paved with good intentions gone incredibly bad?

But wasn’t that always her luck?

She seemed to forever place her last five dollars on a snowball’s sucker chance.

And now here she is, employing female fury to open up damnation in this awkward place she calls “The Devil’s Workshop,”

Arriving uninvited,

Searching her pockets,

Empty as always,

Surprisingly annoyed

That hell must be paid.

M Is For Vendetta

Tonight the moon seeks pure pleasure.

It is an untamed satellite unleashed on the night.

Ever since The Big Bang shoved it into the waiting arms of Earth, this perverted rock of gas and dust has envied the blue-green planet’s “joie de vivre.”

By its very nature the moon is an introvert and brooder.

It cannot help itself, overcome as it is with elliptical envy, held captive as it is by overwhelming gravity.

It has become Earth’s nocturnal voyeur, sighing over tides, going through phases, parting the dreary curtains of night like some shameless peeping tom, leering at a life it can never have.

But tonight?

Tonight the moon is self-indulgent and full of itself.

It will defy science and explode into myth, no longer an orbiting object but a formidable force.

The fetid hair of werewolves will stand on end in salute to the

victory of fur over skin.

Bats will launch out of belfries at the stroke of midnight

in blitzkriegs with weapons of rabies.

Wolves will sing feral karaoke in primitive harmony

in backwoods bars.

And lunatics, human lunatics, will dance their

fandangos of fits born of frenzy.

For on this evening born of change and madness the moon declares its vendetta, taking back the night with no hostage or demand.

Copyright  2014


Pimping Out Emily’s Ride

“I am nobody!  Who are you?”

She floats out of her mid-size Ford like some anorexic Aphrodite.

“By just such a hazard,”

Emily Dickinson has suffered yet another dent

At the Amherst Public Library.


And it is my job,

For “I asked no other thing,”

To rehabilitate the beloved poet’s hapless vehicle,

Return it to its measure as a reliable, solid sedan,

Body free of scars, engine finely tuned.


I am up to the task.

Next Wednesday after two, Miss Dickinson.

“Unmoved, she (leaves) the chariot’s pausing,”

Expecting complete conservative splendor

After the next moon’s evening ride.


The Belle departs upon the whisper of my

silent, sweet adieu,

A (certified mechanic) kneeling upon her mat,”

Who desires nothing more than to transport her words

on the breath of power,

the muscle of sheer speed.


“So I must baffle at the hint, and cipher at the sign,”

If I, the poet’s poor mechanic,

Could muster nerve and talent

To pimp out Emily’s ride.


“Some things that fly there be”

On the turbo-charged V8.

“Some things that stay there be”

On soft-tread tires, sporting dubs.

“So breathless till I passed her,”

On performance lowering springs.


“Angels when the sun is hottest

May be seen the sands among.”

But my seraph garbed in white

Would find such delicate vision

Guarded by the darkest tint.


And to leave no detail unmatched, forsaken,

For “inebriate of air am I, and debauchee of dew,”

I would string vanilla-scented heliotrope,

A rearview garland of bee dyspepsia,

To pimp out Emily’s ride.


But I only had till two on Wednesday,

Not time enough to love.

So I merely pounded out Emily’s dent

And let the pimp out go.

For this “little tail(pipe) of love, I thought,

(Is) large enough for me.”


(My apologies to Emily Dickinson, her fans, Ford, and auto mechanics everywhere)

Copyright 2014


The letters are lacy, vintage, bound well along the ends with sturdy strong sounds.


She drapes the word like a shawl around her shoulders, finding comfort in its earthy warm color and unexpected worn softness.

Curling her body into a tight little ball, she slips easily within the concentric “o’s” of “mother” and “grandmother,” a place of unnoticed power and unlimited pride.

She whispers the baby’s new name as if it were magic, unraveling each pronounced sound, stringing them together to form a first memory.

And later tonight, under the watchful guidance of a perfect full moon, she will weave this name next to her own, using the delicate tender threads to create a new circle.

(For Lisa, world’s happiest grandmother)

Copyright 2013

Some Assembly Required

What do you give a poet on her birthday?

A box of rare heirloom adjectives?

Balloons filled with helium and saucy alliteration?

Maybe a matched brace of rhyming nouns for the coffee table?

The elusive consummate title refuses to stay on the cake.

And the silver bracelet of meter and metaphor would bend my budget.


None of these are fitting gifts to offer a poet.

So here is a piñata, shaped like a stanza, chock full of random words and left- over grammar.

And because you’re a poet and today is your birthday,

You’ll know what to do.

(For Ginny in my Wednesday Writer’s Group, a very fine poet indeed)

Copyright 2013