Each year
in Pamplona
the bulls begin
their slow descent
down the narrow streets
gaining speed
nostrils flaring
muscle and sinews taut
they forge ahead
a white wave
preceding them
in their mad dash
and each year
there is one,
some years two
who, by slip of foot
or lapse of judgment
meet the horns
of the lead bull
who in disgust
“this one
is no

First published in Defenestration ,Vol XVI Issue 2 August 2019


As it turns out, life
is an ongoing process of accretion
and deconstruction, of growth
and eventual shrinkage.

I started with 20 teeth
I am told, and got to 32,
only to fall back to 23
thanks to orthodontia and wear.

We start with 270 or more
bones, but we knit that number
down to 206, or in my case under
200, the orthopaedist’s handiwork.

And with time we progress
from diapers and being pushed
around to walking, running,
driving ourselves in many ways,

but in the end, for many of us,
we revert to childhood, but one
where the future is behind us,
and the past is that to which we cling.


As a child I often
flew kites, which is to say
that I ran haphazardly
pulling a string and
dragging a wood frames
paper rhombus across the park.
My father laughed until
seeing me on the edge
of tears he took up the string
and dragged the kite
across the park.
One day a strong wind
blew across the park
and the kite lifted into the sky
trailing its string
to taunt me.


It was Henry Miller who said
that the principal difference
between a sage and a preacher
is one thing: gaiety,
and I suppose the same
could be said of the difference
between the monk
and the wealthy man.
It was in a small temple
nestled in a courtyard
of three office towers
in the heart of Shinjuku
at the end of a hard run,
four laps around city hall
and the park, pushing it
up the slight hills, trying
to max out on the flats,
dripping sweat, struggling
to catch my breath,
I run my fingers across
the giant brass bell
trying hard to grab
the still morning air
to feel the deep resonance
that ripples the quiescent
breeze that whispers
across the paving stones.
The priest, in beige robes
steps from the barred doors
and bows before me.
“You should smile,” he says:
“it will not ease the pain,
but you must always
fall down seven times
and rise to your feet eight.”