Could Have Been

Could have been a photographer.
I read the books and took the classes.
I carried around my old SLR
and camera bag full of gadgets.

The wideangles and the telephotos,
the f-stops and the depth of field,
the waiting for the sunlight to change,
the desire to get it all just right.

But my way didn’t go that way
the turns I took took me astray
but I still look at everything
with a photographer’s eye.

Could have been a great musician
if I’d have practiced and kept it up.
I’d hear melodies in city streets
and harmonies in passing storms.

I read and wrote notes in all genres.
I ate compositions and breathed timbres.
I followed geniuses and bands.
Odd instruments ended up my hands.

But my way didn’t go that way
the turns I took took me astray
but I still hear everything
with a musician’s ear.

I could’ve been a college professor.
I had a gift for explaining complexity.
I wanted to open up the minds of the young
to the layered delicacy of language.

I studied at the top schools from the best
thinkers in the field developing the most
current theories and I criticized
all their arguments and analyses.

But my way didn’t go that way
the turns I took took me astray
but I still break down everything
like a damn professor.

Like most people, I ended up wrangling
this or that job for a while tangling
family and work and mishandling
my opportunities with a few obscenities.

Although my way did not go my way
what is astray and what is not is never
a decision we are able to make
without looking back.


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The Rise and Fall of Moments

From and to views
powered by turn of the head
entering and exiting
are indistinguishable.

The right and left hands
finish each other’s thoughts
when not called upon
they rest together.

Firm ground swells
or cracks to catch
any unsuspecting
passing foot.

Then self-repaired
the way smoothed
journeys continue
the earth flat.

Temporarily interested
glance caught looking
slice of visual pie
grin passing by.

In transient concentration
like a cloud holding
the best possible
thought for a minute.

A spurious alert
in a strike of nerve
behind the knee where
bends a broken wish.

In that hallway
from kitchen to bedroom
sparkling darkening
to return soon.

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Same Is Not the Same


The philosopher tried
to write like a poet
but couldn’t do it.

The poet played
with grand ideas
fast and loose.

The pilot promised
the driver it was sweet
at thirty thousand feet.

The driver replied
trust me while I drive
at a hundred and five.

The contented
as well as the contentious
will all agree
agreement is a convenient
social invention.

The exotic dancer
felt like a woman when
performing for men.

Her neurotic husband
failed to feel
the same way.

The contented
as well as the contentious
will all agree
agreement is a convenient
social invention.




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Art and the Other Arts


The marketing director at a software firm
had a sense that it wasn’t enough
to follow the rules about breaking rules.
It wasn’t enough to climb some damn ladder
leading to more of same.

Painting after she got home
showed her the road out of town
brush in hand and eye on the horizon
painting was the mercurial kindergarten
she was robbed of.

An accountant married the kind of woman
his mother would’ve chosen for him.
For as many hours as he could squirrel away
he antidoted his perfect torment
in the kitchen in the oven
in desserts.

Baking was like numbers that didn’t add.
Cuisine was like predicting life from death.
The sugar, the yeast, the odd guessing
was a poetry so far away from
mom and dad.

Taxi driver from Sarajevo
never sure about all the subtleties
of communication in the big city.
He like working the airport because
of all the foreigners.

Art blew his hat off.
Art clouded and cleared his sky.
The fear of art whistled in his ear.
The love of art told him
he could fly.

Dental hygenist marriage on the rocks
two kids ten years apart.
All the idealism she got going to church
has left her in the lurch of a heart
still seeking.

Poetry cut her hair off.
Poetry fertilized her fallow garden.
Poetry all the way back to Eve.
The practice of poetry baptized her appetite
for angelic art.

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Again Never Again

The beginning so revolutionary
the middle so … how do you say?
Filled up with silt
like Lake Pontchatrain.

For ten years the book
was open to the same page.
For nine it seemed
it would turn.

It was a sure thing that
one of them would realize
as soon as the decade
was over it would be over.

The bluesman played only
in keys of C and G
until he transposed it all
into D and E.

His wife had heard it all
the cliche’s and the riffs.
She gave him an ultimatum
and sealed it with a kiss.

When it comes around again
say what ask why
the lake is full of barbeque
the music full of sky.

When it comes around again
hang your head and cry
didn’t the soul need a change?
won’t the brain even try?

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Disgusting Donald


Donald the terrier
yap yap bark bark
wants to dig his
holes in the park.

If others fall in
that’s not his problem
after all he’s not
the one on the bottom.

Donald the amphibian
chirp chirp ribbit ribbit
he lives for your
attention so give it.

He expects americans
to be just like him
when it’s obvious they’re not
he throws a tantrum.

Donald the potato bug
rolls into a small ball
all those who voted for him
crawl into a dark hole.

Pain and ugliness reign
nobody will admit now
they thought he would
do some kind of good.

Donald the little boy
his world a country club
brain like a nine iron
hits everything hard.

He tweets what he thinks
embarassing the rest of us
He eats too much expressing
the essence of smugness.

Donald living in himself
family living in Versailles
the crowns upon their heads
darken all our skies.



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Hideous is a Word

Hideous is a word reserved for the kind
of beauty seen only by experience
when it comes you endure the scraping
of what you are on what you were.

Rubbing my scalp and hamstrings
playing through my kitchen’s air
appropriate to a cool morning
and old jazz band long dead.

In the college years of the Seventies
we had some semi-controversial history.
It was music that did not disturb
unless you actually listened to it.

My wife at the time was like that
between unobtrusive and unattractive
on the outside but what she thought
would soon sour the apple cider.

The cart before the face of the horse
had big wooden wheels often stuck
on rocks or bumps and wouldn’t turn
corners and carried pigs in duck feathers.

To the music of free-minded birds
echoing and breaking the rules of decades
before when pieces were songs and songs
came in a box and cured headaches.

At the ends of long days after working
through possible and impossible
challenges at work and school
I’d disappear into my headphones.

Calm and raucus took turns dancing
to harmonies too simply iconoclastic.
The men playing such unsuitably
gypsy noise must have been brothers.

Brothers to each other and to me
brothers in having put their shoulders
to stubborn, enchanted, cursed wheels
brothers in translating young to old.

Although I can still see her face
mostly her visage is breast and mouth
a small and heavy figure fleeced
in screechy synthesized sax.

At any given moment out of the blue
might come a chorus of ancient howls
followed by some oddly unsurprising
whirlwind of grief and insult.

Some sad part of me admits
it was a jazzy time of hits and misses
now forty years later I hear my own
angry voice in the sturm and drone.


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