The history of modern literature,
at least to those who purport to create
it, is inextricably tied up with technology.
The quill and inkwell ceded only
reluctantly to the fountain pen and ballpoint.
Foolscap was affixed to corkboard
by countless pushpins, but one wasn’t
a teal writer until one stuck in the sole
of your foot as you wandered in the dark
in search of a pen in the night while
trying vainly to cling to a thought that only
moments before had dragged you from sleep.
We have progressed far, the pen falling away
beneath the great weight of the keyboard,
paper now a wrapping for electronics
which now serve as both paper and book.
many are no longer writers at all, dictating
words which appear on the screen, the machine
at once editor and publisher and bookstore.
And we know the day is approaching when
voice and hand will cease to be tools, when
mere thought will be the poet’s task, and reading
will be a lost skill, something the ancients did
when they still had poetry and literature.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41
Each morning I should take a moment
and seriously question whether I have
any history or should want any.
Each day I know in that moment that
I have the option of being reborn, of being
someone who never existed before,
and the price of this is shedding all
of my former selves, an erasure I fear
without reason, for reason says
that this moment demands my naked
presence bereft of the masks and
trapping I so easily choose to hide within.
This morning I did pause in front
of the mirror, and asked if it knew me,
and it laughed, said, “never seen you before.”
Tomorrow I will deny today and most
yesterdays, this I know is the right
course for what will be a ghost ship.
An elk stands at the edge
of a placid mountain lake
and sees only the clouds
of an approaching winter.
A black bear leans over
the mirrored surface of the lake
and sees only the fish
that will soon be his repast.
The young man draped
in saffron robes looks
calmly into the water and sees
a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors.
I look carefully into the water
looking for an answer to a question
always lurking out of reach
and see only my ever thinning hair.
First appeared in Greens Magazine (Can) 29:1 2000
The conversation flows freely,
piles up on the table, amid
dishes from a meal
now fully consumed, as the
last of the wine reluctantly
cedes its grip on the bottle
and settles into the glasses.
In Abruzzi, the vintner
imagined this, staring
at the grapes pulled lovingly
from the now ancient vines.
As night draws its curtain
ever tighter, as hugs
replace the conversation,
the rest of the grapes
settle in for a final sleep.
We are obligated to carry
memories, and as we
get older the burden grows
ever heavier, we bend
under its weight, knowing
we dare not lose even one
for once castoff, the weight
is carried off like the smallest
feather on a storming wind.
Soon enough it is we
who will become the burden
that others must carry
and we hope they will
willingly shoulder the load
lest we become the excised
dust of forgotten stone
grown over with weeds.
The cannery, long before it was a mall,
sat on the verge of the bay
bellowing steam into the night sky
shrouding the stars in a gauze blanket,
listening to the braying of the harbor seals
pleading for the morning’s dross
to be returned to the bay waters.
The otters lie on their backs peering
over the rocks and the monolith
its lights blazing as the trucks and carts
are laden with neatly stacked boxes,
grasping their stones, crushing
the shells nestled on the bellies.
Outside the fishermen, boats
scrubbed clean, stagger
down the narrow streets, stumbling
from bar to tavern, sleeping fitfully
on benches in the nearby park,
dragging up narrow alleys
to small, fading framed houses
kerosene lamps growing dim,
knowing the sun merely dozes
below the horizon, soon
to edge up and watch the boats
ease back out of the harbor into the sea.
Steinbeck walks slowly, savoring
the smells of morning, tasting
the stale beer of the night before.
First Appeared Online at Beachfire Gathering, 1996.
The young man says, “I cannot comprehend
how karma can be balanced.”
The woman laughs, says, “you remember
but I was once a stripper, that I
took off my clothes, and being naked
in the presence of men was nothing,
since to them I wasn’t a person, just
an object of momentary desire, but
that life is behind me, as you know.
But as a healer, my therapies take
me to the strangest places,
like the swingers’ club which
hired me to do massages, and there I
was the only one dressed, they were naked
and I am certain at that moment
karma found almost perfect balance.”
“Now,” he laughed, “I have two
images I will carry in my head forever.”