Unfinished & Untitled

Some works live day in
day out works in progress
others abandoned
put out to the curb
or basement deferred

The sun sets indecisively
returning over and over
a reliable locomotive

The moon shifts shape
curls and hides
augments or diminishes
the work of the night

The best we finish is suggestion
an impression its precision
unreal if felt permanent

Light a river of silence
fished for colors
after the snowmelt
down in the valley

On Beauty

What is Beauty, that Beast in all caps?
The beauty of beauty is beauty
(“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”)
wants no thought, bears no meaning.

We may begin by stating what beauty
is not: beauty can not be purchased,
beauty is not style nor fashion,
beauty is not transitory nor fixed,
serves no function, is non-cultural.

Beauty is cosmopolitan, universal.
Beauty is humble, avoids museums.
Beauty is not needy, invites no convo.
Beauty is meaningless, for sense,
that human construct, usurps beauty
of its principal pleasure.

Meaning (definition, interpretation,
reveal, tell-tale) translates forms,
the essence of beauty, into human
terms, where it loses its native essence.

We can not paint the soul, nor post
a pic of it.

Beauty is not the opposite
of ugly, tho ugly walks hand in hand
with beauty, speaks with beauty,
but beauty has no answer,
no comment.

And yet, Eco says:
“…an orgy of tolerance, the total syncretism and the absolute and unstoppable polytheism of Beauty.”
Which is to say, “Beauty! Get out of Dodge!”

Beauty is not a value, but a virtue.

We can of course get more involved:

But we grow weary of wearing
that same old tattered dress,
and find little tenderness
in your tries and stays.

We close our talk on beauty
with a beautiful poem
by e. e. cummings:

[O sweet spontaneous]


O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

             fingers of
prurient philosophers pinched

,has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

        beauty      how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

             thou answerest

them only with


E. E. Cummings, “O sweet spontaneous” from Tulips & Chimneys. Copyright © 1923 by E. E. Cummings. Reprinted by permission of Public Domain. Copied from Poetry Foundation.

PS: We have been waiting
for your answer
this year.


Worst may happen words will be wasted
but when the Old Kingdom cattle count
comes around you’ll be taxed every one
so omit unnecessary parts of speech
and craft each comment in mindfulness

As for punctuation use sparsely as if
on a desert plain flat and dry and open
for readers are offended by periods1
while snowflakes fall like plumules
to cover the withered words of summer

Do not read for meaning but for beauty
for you cannot stop the flow of words
the catastrophe of thought fills space
with light and shadow dappled colors
The purpose of poetry is clerestory

a window you can’t see out allows
light to fill the air enclosed inside
worthy even if you have to hear organs
groan like donkeys through the lovely
indoor sky and nothing you suspicion

1“Woebot tends to avoid periods at the end of texts, because user research has suggested that people experience them as aggressive”

The New Yorker, “Can A.I. Treat Mental Illness? New computer systems aim to peer inside our heads—and to help us fix what they find there.” By Dhruv Khullar. February 27, 2023.


The queen carries no purse
not the king packs a wallet
morning comes their words
don’t freeze to mouth’s roof

No one ever asks to see their
IDs they do not live alone yet
do not sleep together either
they don’t own an automobile

No tweet feed no clock tells
tick-tock up and down halls
around the castle walls one
hears swishes but little talk

No dust accumulates no litter
allowed in the vast library no
television no stereo system
for fun they sit at the grand

piano and play God Save the
Queen and King from dust
and misery from questions
answers and such shilly-shally

Under Snow

Something there is wants the snow to stay
keeping spring sprouts warm thru the night
and day until we can begin again to grow
in the sun’s majestic magnificent glow.

Unlike the undertow of the riptide, under
snow things stay in place and time stops
the wind’s whips snap over our heads
barely disturbing our sleep down below.

My neighbor outside dressed in muffs
shovels the snow off his cement ways
while I awake but still under snow
dare not disturb a single snow flake.

There are gaps in my thoughts like
missing teeth so I can’t take my ease
like the retired rich man in Luke
who does “eat, drink, and be merry.”

I say to my soul stay under the snow
it is a gift from a keen rich boss who
knows in his other hand must throw
suns of summer to heat green souls.

At Bay

How to begin this sober day of play
not to go down none subtle catastrophe
words wander away, branch out from here
blue curly birds may have places to rest.

Ads at bay, nestled in floral concertina
why can’t you be that guy
who saves the day
from grief and grinding gears

from fears like ghosts with no roots
little bugs that crawl and sneak into ears
why can’t you understand
we don’t need a plan

we need a place to live in peaches
round and soft and downy fur –
who is talking now and to whom
and to what end these words wind

their way through the day as the snow melts
and shows the same stuff still from yesterday
the cover of the snow held such promise
but its magic doesn’t stick here long

and when the sun returns so it will
we’ll have work to keep busy and full
roads to finish out of these forests
into clearings of Monet’s bright flowers.

The light changes quickly always anew
in the dark songs of what we see
in the light tricks of what we worry
about the dark in the light.

Why can’t you be that guy
who comes to save the day
without words without song
keeps his promise all night long.

Stopping by Windows on a Snowy Evening

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,”
Frost’s buggy driver said to his horse.
“Not if you have early to rise and drive
come morning,” his mare replied.

But at sunup all promises were freed,
schools closed and happy kids slid
down ripe soft hills on toboggans
made of birch poles and risks.

And from slick freeways of iciness
commuters stuck eyed the homes
warmly hidden in the village hills
and the road winds were not easy.

Horse sense got lost when Ford
put Frost and mare out of business,
who now stop by wood windows
within to view the snow without.

Still Bird

Still from the sill the cat peers
windowed in at the flightless
bird atop the grape pergola.

The cat flies through the night
but this bird won’t spread wings
not that we’ve ever seen.

Patient the bird still sits until
asked to fill out a form with pen
questions on feathers and hymns

and such: are you a sole
bird? how high do you fly?
are you a kind bird? what kind?

In what direction points
your beak when at odds
with others you yearn

for the sea and sing
a single note of myst
a story that obscures

your spurt in a torment
a torrent of thickel
breathfull agog gast?


A dust of snow this Valentine’s Day
not much just a sprinkle of sugar
on roofs and grass of sweetmeats
the street’s clear to come and go
social love miserly virtual treats
turns sour at the corner ignored
relics of one’s love in framed pics.

Lost love seems now the sweetest
tooth in the mouth of memory when
to bite yearningly brings back pain
without which tho there is nothing
for the heart in its card to hark back
to not words nor images nor nights
at sea dressed in red sky vapor trails.

Words last not last night’s telling
as we amble toward a late spring
watching the squirrels and crows
from icy windows and Scamble and
Cramble the cats come to smell
and scratch in the familiar places
looking for a facial comfort zone.

But in safe and ease we may feel
nothing better to go in the cold
grab a nip and feel the wet bit
scrunch of the lips in the dark
alley tongue out the back door
of your ground floor apartment
upstairs we would not gambol.

Love’s crisis longs for a headline
an ocean in which to clown one’s
cartoon visions under a laughing
audience of unidentified balloons
aloft the shape and size of hearts
made of flour and sugar and red
paint and salt water taffy.

Oh to have & hold a heart a late
night very red strawberry fruit
hugs with no words drawings
seen from our wintry limbs
high up in our trees we climb
to enjoy one another’s going
easy and around and around.

A Poetry of Oddity

Collected in poems whats
decorative which is odd
a sad iron pressed against
her forehead happy hands
waving goodbye to white
wrinkled blouses the lacy
lazy lives long now lost.

Sad too the turtle backs
stacked in a bowl as if
for a crab feed bottles
of quality wine carried
home in a grocery cart.

Ages and ages hence
consigned to collections
of periodicals we used
to play bingo at church
prayed to Jesus a good
card to win the catch.

Portrait of a lady
sitting beneath
a covey of chandeliers
her antique back
stiff and brittle with age.

The skeleton
of a barber chair
a retired fisherman
walking along a quay
a homemade boat
in the distance.

And in the rooms
above the shops
full of Chantilly lace
champaign and chagrin
we pause and pose
hoping to be collected
and not thrown out
as odd as we be old.

Doubt and Drift

Faith is belief in what cannot be proven. If something can be proven, faith in it is no longer necessary. But most of us can’t prove anything. We spend most of our lives swimming around in a sea of faith – faith in people, places, things; faith in history, institutions, religions; faith in ideas, nature, love. We live by faith in these things, not just that they exist, but faith in that they work as designed, faith in how they should work, and faith in how they do work.

We no longer have faith in the news. “Popular distrust of the news media has been traced to the coverage of the stormy 1968 Democratic National Convention,” Louis Menand discusses in “Making the News: The press, the state, and the state of the press” (The New Yorker, February 6, 2023, 59-65). Underlying any loss of faith comes the realization that too much may have been invested in the building blocks of truth, facts, and how we think we do things the way we do because we’ve always done them that way. These blocks turn out to be soft and fuzzy and protean. What is true changes with the times, predicaments, what we want.

“As Michael Schudson pointed out in ‘Discovering the News’ (1978), the notion that good journalism is ‘objective’ – that is, nonpartisan and unopinionated – emerged only around the start of the twentieth century. Schudson thought that it arose as a response to growing skepticism about the whole idea of stable and reliable truths. The standard of objectivity, as he put it, ‘was not the final expression of a belief in facts but in the assertion of a method designed for a world in which even facts could not be trusted. … Journalists came to believe in objectivity, to the extent that they did, because they wanted to, needed to, were forced by ordinary human aspiration to seek escape from their own deep convictions of doubt and drift.’ In other words, objectivity was a problematic concept from the start” (p. 60).

We might find complementary or corollary application to other areas. Menand uses the 1968 convention to illustrate how the news is not reported but made, and that once the recipe for how it’s made is made manifest, and there follows general doubt and drift from the sources – from the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the story – the remaining mess makes for great leftover meals for anyone wanting to take advantage of that doubt and drift to further their own agenda, investment returns, popularity, hold of the reins. We might find corollary application of the argument in the doubt and drift in our times from religion, health care, higher education, police protection – all areas once strong with the faithful but we now look out and find empty pews. Damage control, by which is meant control of the news over the story, becomes paramount in restoring the faith.

But we reach a point where faith can’t be restored. The Jesus Movement becomes the Free Press of religion. Indie becomes the barbaric invasion of not traditional music, film, publication, art, but of the open-gate making, distribution, and profit (or not) of free expression. We can no longer die for our country, only for one another. We take medical advice with a grain of salt. The man wearing the badge, the clerical collar, the stethoscope, the suit and tie – might as well be wearing a newspaper. The homeless person is one of us. The Emperor wears no clothes. The Wizard is a humbug – and like he said, he might be a good guy, but he’s a bad wizard. We are out here on our own.