a few steps toward the pond
I see a protusion –  water breeched by an Oligocene vision
wide eyed – face carved by rugged millenniums
his view locked & focused onto mine
those pupils narrowed with daggers of possibility
I am quietly humbled knowing
he has the advantages
he could outswim
outrun me
could that be a smirk across those gator lips
submerged & shrouded by calm murky water
water that has surely felt the churning turbulence of death
with a mouth that could surgically unzip me
a mouth that could make me scream insanely
   fanatically louder for GOD than religion or sex ever taught
I snapped photo after photo
with my eyes trying to read his intension
he respected our boundary even as I had crossed into his
this becomes a circular non sequitur self argument
this reptile built of prehistoric instincts & fast short distance speed
& jaw muscles of a jackhammer
did I buy the extended warranty for the camera…

Shadows and Art – the enslavement


I slip into 2 random shoes under my desk
neither matches but still a right & left
it’s 3:29am who needs haute couture

Amtrak whistles at the full bodied moon
I step outside- a cloudless night
there is a weightlessness, a feeling of suspension
& everything in the mind empties as white as the reflected orb –
I zoom in with the camera & stand on tiptoes
it seems I could almost touch
that beautifully pockmarked face of regolith

the shadows are ancillary ghosts of self and things
keeping me at a harpooners length, roping me in with
their phantom whale line
my shadows are a dark form absorbing time and space
once I move next to a tree, time sweeps clears it’s vestige off the path
as if my existence has been purged into nothing

I know shadows well,
once inside again they follow with a starved-dog cadence
holding me captive
they know my secrets
I’m a night roamer
a live apparition on a shared path to nowhere

sometimes I read hoping to bore the shadows
sometimes I turn on television to distract them
they know my faults,
‘should have done this
should have done that
have to do this – didn’t do anything’ –
at night my brain rattles on with Shakespearian soliloquy bringing
back the rattling bones of old ghosts

when shadows chatter too much
Photoshop is an edgy abraxas
manipulating things into filter & form
I’m in control
till I look down as the screen inserts its own shadow
beneath my fingers on the keyboard
it’s impossible to shake shadows loose
even by the computer’s faint glow

I work at making my own world
happy &
peaceful &
and full of the camera’s engaging view
reality minus real sometimes
& like the shadows –
I become interned to the time & space my art occupies,
enslavement by a bully taskmaster demanding
one more tweak
one more filter
one more change of hue & saturation
hours under the gripping talons of time
there is no Charon to bribe to ferry me to the river Lethe,
to let me sleep without penalties

finally my head bends forward & jerks
art gives consent to rest but only
for a few hours
one never knows the internal time constraint placed upon them,
how many days do I have left transversing this planet
making a vision for many who lack the sight
how many numbered days till my body reverts back to being
the elements of a star

the shadows follow me down the hall,
follow the folds of the familiar bed that welcomes me,
‘close your eyes’ it says,
‘shut out the shadows & noise’
I obey & yawn tucking in my shadows –
turn on my side
turn on my stomach
then to my back
& open the eyes & there they are –
more shadows like gray cobwebs
staring off the ceiling
clinging to the dresser
dawdling at the door

I listen to the cat breathe
jealous of her circled mastery of feline slumber
jealous that she has no shadow to encumber her
I listen as the house breathes in little sighs,
close my eyes & slip behind masked dreams
a participant in subconscious meanderings until compelled to unlock the lids
& stare at the clock’s blatant face complaining –
rushing me to get something accomplished
time always pushing, prodding, demanding-
my brain accepts living in this
abbes whirled of the arcane seeded long ago
people tell me they sleep 8 hours a night,
well I sleep 8 hours only it takes about 2 nights to accomplish at maybe 4hours each

GET UP GET UP the clock festers
it flashes neon shadowed numbers upon the nightstand
but I just got to bed!
the gulag of shadows & art are howling on the back of another amortized morning
the camera begins to whine
I’m compliant
the brain on auto-pilot
outside I go to shoot a sunrise
the day will belong to art where I will look at which pictures to pitch
which to save
& filter & filter & filter again
I look down at the brown & now blue shoe & laugh
the early bragging sun casts my shadow long,
toward the west –
I move this way, that way in hopes of wearing the shadow out-
no such luck
with heavy, mismatched feet I drag that shadow slowly behind
up to porch & next to the sliding glass door,
once transversed
I reach for the door and quickly slide it shut severing
the spectral anatomy
drawing the drapes
thinking ‘aha’ – ‘got cha’
in a minute
I turn around
face the room
that’s when I look down
there it is
the camera in my palm laughing as
baby shadows give off their silent, lusty cry…

Poetry Contest ending in two days at — Toes Tagged and Ready

This photograph by photographer James Bernal spoke to me, I had to pen something. Not for contest but for my own silly brain –
the contest for your poetry ends in 2 days, Jan. 1, 2015 – (where’d the year go?)
Here’s the details should you want to add your own vision into what you see
this is how abbe saw it –


ToesTagged and Ready


I was coming home from work
and passed the front window  -Oh Jesus it’s Thursday
I hurried my pace
it was hard working 2 jobs and caring for my  96 year old ‘ma-in-law’
“Be-bop” we nicknamed her decades ago when
she loved to dance
long before her only child Ted evicted our marriage to live out his
mid- life crisis fantasies
leaving me the house, bills, a permanent scar and Bebop
(he died from a Cocaine overdose a few years ago
I never told her)

that window facing the front is her bedroom
Bebop likes only white walls
and her curtains remain open day and night
she says light is salvation and cleanliness
even car lights

I was prepared as I looked in –
that’s her masseuse Matt checking on her
she always so relaxed when he’s through she asks to be toe-tagged and covered with
a sheet and left for “dead” in case ‘this is the night’,
(I pay extra for this ‘ossification’ time – we reuse the tags)

Matt has to wait for me to help move her off his table and I’m running a little late
we chat a few moments while he explains where she’s ‘knotted’
then we wake her at which she will be screaming
“MALFEASANCE MALFEASANCE” at the top of her lungs
the sheet will slide off and her well fed , but stiffened body
takes a few minutes to adjust and then we guide her
into bed –
we’re used to hearing her hybrid words “motherfuckerhellsbellsshitass”
upon being startled -she says that when she bumps into something
or sits in the Doctors office too long
(they take her in as soon as we sign in)

the neighbors are used to her routine
Bebop always sits outside for hours in clement weather
watching the sunshine wanting to go “toward the light”
some of the neighbors walking by are kind enough to have a few words with a lady
who will randomly say “didyaknow squirrels will suck the nuts off a male dogsack”
or “eat your prunes or face the enema”
I have no idea where she gets her facts
her nuances are quite well known and repeated
a few ask why I don’t put her in a home
I tell them she’s happy in her own home for now
flirting with her beloved masseuse and madness
she hasn’t run away
or fallen, (yet)
even dresses herself — all her clothes are shades of whites
we don’t even mention if she wants them on inside out
and she never argues
except when it’s time for Matt to leave on Thursdays
she yells from her bed thinking it’s her son – she tells the masseuse
“not to leave his wife and mother for that young cunt”
Matt bends over and says,
“Bebop, there’s no other woman but you” and kisses her cheek
out like a light she goes smiling
Matt leaves, I always tip him well
the snoring varies and animates the shadows in the room
transitioning softly from Alpha to Delta as the moon passes
I check Bebop before I get ready for bed knowing
by 7am sharp she will rise – ( I pull off her toe tags first thing)
then she shrouds herself in the white bedsheet sail
planting herself in front of the bedroom window
transfixed waiting for the sun to rise
while pretending to know every cat or dog’s name that passes
enjoying the sight of children even though most call her crazy
delighting and pointing to  “Gods light”
she waves to let God know where she is
convinced that she won’t die on cloudy days

I leave her in the care of a woman who comes daily
who helps bathe and feed Bebop watching her closely
When I leave in the morning I kiss Bee’s cheek
and she reminds me it might be the day she’s claimed by the Lord
and wants her toe tags close by so she can see them “just in case” God
might not recognize her cause she’s so old now

No one here cares when she cusses out loud at the TV when
Oscar the Grouch opens his garbage can
or if she asks for pancakes at dinner
with canned sardines
I let her relish in her second childhood
how can I put her in a rigid institution
how can I abandon her too
how can I be the one to snuff out  her “light is salvation”
or watch them keep her inside and shove her full of doping
medications  to control her curses and impulses
how do I explain she needs a masseuse once a week
and her toes tagged every night…




Peshawar: “If our children die as martyrs, your children will not escape”




The title above is a quote from Uman Mansoor, head of TTP, Tehreek Taliban Pakistan, the mind behind the Peshawar school killings. He is a father of two daughters and a son, the gatekeeper for his TTP group who have been repeatedly targeted by Pakistani military.  On December 16, 2014, he sent 6 henchmen to do his bloody bidding…


Back and Forth, death and counter death, fear into anger, anger into rage; a harsh cycle never to be resolved.

included  are quotes, words of the victims and others in the region are far more telling then what I can say,
please be sure to read all italicized quotes, it’s the heart of what matters..

Even the children are dying on the frontline in the war against terror, the smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry”… Defense Minister Khawaja Asif


Back and Forth

The children were given goodbyes and sent off to classrooms that morning
another day of school at Army Public School and Degree College
an institution inside the walled city of Peshawar, the “oldest living city in South Asia since 539 BC
a city known to be culturally diverse – a thriving place
“City of the frontier” it was referred to –
during the 80’s it was  a CIA base
a place of violence inhabited by the Soviets and American paid insurgents, the Mujahideen
during that time it also became a place of refugee artists and musicians
Peshawar continues to grow thanks to business and education and people seeking promise
Peshawar also continues to harbor terrorists
back and forth they go
on the move between Afghanistan’s Khyber Pass into Pakistan

Many children at the Army Public School And Degree College
have fathers with positions in the Pakistani military
men battling evil each day
men trying to keep the peace where the peace could not be kept
back and forth
between  The Pakistani Army and the terror groups
there’s no real treaty to be found –
back and forth the military air strikes bomb factions of  the Taliban and others deemed ‘terrorists’
bombing places with children and families
the numbers add up – terrorists seethe when their own are targeted

A car exploded behind the school on Wednesday, December 16th, 2014
a ruse to divert attention
six TTP gunmen armed with several days worth of  ammunition
had decided beforehand not to take hostages
it would be a simple slaughter,
penned animals ripe for the picking
back and forth bang bang
TTP in black boots and bullet-proof vests shouted and ran
as adrenaline surged, venom swilled in their brains while they opened
fire on everyone
back and forth guns swaying
while delivering lethal loads with accelerated cadence
Speaking from his bed in the trauma ward of the Lady Reading Hospital, Shahrukh described how the gunmen shouted ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ before opening fire.

It did not discriminate – no one was spared because of age nor gender
bullets in a metastasized barrage killed or injured upon impact
a few like student , ‘Kahn’ were shot but chose to be still and unflinching in order to survive,
‘Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks. Then one of them shouted: “There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them. ‘I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.    Khan said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee. He decided to play dead, adding: ‘I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies.’I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again. My body was shivering – I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me—I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.’  

145 dead – 132 of them school children
The Principal died – her young assistant, shot and burned alive
back and forth murderers paced themselves
on a mission with nothing as distraction

it became an eight-hour siege till the Pakistan military
had finally taken down the last martyred gunmen and secured the school –
blood the source of life, the source of DNA mingled freely down its victims and survivors
books, desks, walls, floors, everything saturated in red and smeared by the sepsis of aggravated death
back and forth the ambulances went
as parents lined up waiting to be told if the last kiss they had given their child that morning
if their last words
or last touch or  last “I love you”  was the echo their dead child took with them

A man named Baiwa told reporters later that day,
” Pakistani security forces reached the school 15 minutes after the attack began. The children … drenched in blood, with their bodies on top of each other.”
Mohammad Hilal, a student in the 10th grade, shot three times in his arm and legs when the gunmen stormed the school auditorium,
“I think I passed out for a while. I thought I was dreaming. I wanted to move but felt paralysed. Then I came to and realised that actually two other boys had fallen on me. Both of them were dead,” he told the BBC.

 Laborer, Akhtar Hussain summed up what would be his life now, “They finished in minutes what I had lived my life for, my son. The innocent one is now gone in the grave and I can’t wait to join him – I can’t live anymore”       

The aftermath was shock and chaos and now the anger
and  of course, calls  for retribution for Pakistan’s ‘911’ – a national tragedy:
Do you actually believe terrorists fear the death penalty – or death for that matter? They are ready to blow themselves up for their cause. They have every intention to die for their cause,” said Waleed Bin Ghayas, who lives in Lahore, roughly 500km from the school.

The next two days after the attack sparked an air offensive
back and forth the Pakistan military selected their victims
killing nearly 70  suspected Taliban members between Afghanistan border and Pakistan hold outs
many called it “too timid“.
Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif said this fighting with Taliban for decades has been a sacrifice –
There had been a previous ban on the death penalty for terrorists –
that has been lifted

More blood is called for
more blood was also how Pakistani TTP Spokesman, Mohammed Khurasani justified the slaughter in the first place writing in an email on murderous Wednesday,
‘the Pakistani army has allegedly long been killing innocent children and families  of their fighters.” They vowed more militant attacks 

Back and forth and on and on
Yousafzai,a surviving student was “heartbroken by this (latest) senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar,” saying Tuesday that “innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this. I call upon the international community, leaders in Pakistan, all political parties — everyone — (to) stand up together and fight against terrorism,” the 16-year-old added in another statement. “And we should make sure that every child gets a safe and quality education.”

Can any of us ever understand how this act of cowardice by killing children could ever be justified
even the Afghani Taliban thought it was uncalled for
and by Thursday the media considered it news beneath the fold
by Thursday we were through grieving as the press moved on

I have grandchildren and cannot imagine this scenario
of having them one day and the next they are memories,
victims of brutality
I can’t imagine what it is like for families who live in regions where any minute could be their last
as in Sudan,  or Kobani in Syria where the children showed CNN reporters how they hid behind
sandbags  when ISIL attacks despite their large smiles for the camera, each day is perilous- P1000030a
nor this Palestinian child hiding her doll’s eyes   P1000025a  in Major Wechselmann’s stirring photo –
nor the Israelis when the air raid alarms go off-
nor any child or family living a day to day, back and forth existence between the light
and cruelty of shattered darkness –
my heart goes out to all children in need of peace and normalcy
and having the right to an education not intercepted by gunfire and
that includes the many school shootings right here which
have become America’s brand of terrorism with its’ craze for ridding angst
by ‘armed to the hilt’ bullies clinging to a metal clad ‘piece’ with a lust for recognition by the press

What happened to “the children are our future”-
So many children in peril
how do we reach them
how do we inspired them
with a better life and future –
how do we spread the word so one day ‘above the fold’ so headlines will read:
the world is at peace, everyone’s needs are being met, no one is angry
everyone is fed, nurtured, schooled, taken care of body and mind – Have a nice day!”
I suppose being an old hippie from the 60’s
(also a turbulent time)
we the youth back then had dreams of a world one day without strife,
love, peace and happiness would somehow automatically encrypt itself into a bright, happy near future for all mankind –
but that was over 50 years ago —
sometimes this world seems to drag in reverse
forgetting the lessons we thought had been learned long ago –
‘where’s the sunshine’ – Where’s the love?



Who Grieves For Dilawar

Who Grieves For Dilawar
(written in 2008)


     “The President has the constitutional authority to temporarily suspend our treaty obligations to Afghanistan under the Geneva Convention…”

     “While it is conceivable that some might argue these facilities are not fully in keeping with the terms of Geneva III, \ we understand that they meet minimal humanitarian requirements consistant with the need to prevent for force protection…”
Alberto Gonzales   January, 2002 – (Rationalizing the Geneva 111 Conventions torture rule)



Who grieves for Dilawar,
living a hard life in Afghanistan
22 years young
farmer and part-time taxi driver
trying to earn a good living out of working bad land
he was middle-aged in a country where most don’t make it to 50

Dilawar picked up three passengers December 5, 2002
unknowing that their final destination
was a fate not worth the fare

U.S. soldiers stopped the cab
took the 4 passengers to Bagram
the ‘pilot program’ before Abu Ghraib

Called “enemy combatants” and labeled
“al qaeda”
it was hard for the new USA soldiers and reservists
to tell one bad guy from another –
were these the men who might have planned to attack to a US military base?
The natives all looked menacing especially when detained

They separated Dilawar from the others –
Dilawar was a little guy his brother said
and he was scared
he screamed when they kicked and beat him –
your “non-compilant” our military screamed back
and for 5 more days
28 soldiers abused him
at night he slept chained from the ceiling
his chained salvation from brutality

Pfc. Willie Brand struck him at least 37 times
four interrogators gave “kicks to the groin and legs”
his captors forcing Dilawar “into contorted body positions”
they opened his mouth and “forced water till he could not breathe”

By the morning of the 5th day, his body gave out
he died still chained to the ceiling
“natural causes” the military noted
except for a description by one coroner,
Lt. Colonel Elizabeth Rouse stated,
“I have seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus,”
“Pulpified’ — she described of Dilawars legs.

The other three cab passengers were sent on to Gitmo
freed in 2004 – “no threat” they were labeled
they were lucky   –  Not Dilawar,
he was not guilty, but “used to hone military technique”,
one US soldier testified,
“ Most of us were convinced the detainee was innocent”

But they still kept beating the shit out of him anyway
and pulpifying
until his heart failed.
“due to blunt force injuries to the lower extremeities”

The Army kept it classified
until Human Rights Watch examined it
many months later,
one of the militia commanders who stopped the cab
was himself blamed for the military base attack
eager to divert the blame
Dilawar was a scape goat, innocent until proven guilty
and the military would see to it he was proven guilty
Dilawar’s words of protest meant shit

And apparently neither did the words of those who truly thought him innocent,
“natural causes” by the US military is status quo for some detainees
they have been told by the DOD
the President okays torture – wants to use it as long as he can
these native people are “non-state actors” according to the Attorney General Gonzalez,
unworthy of human status

Regardless of being an Afghani farmer or cab driver
a son or father
these mid-eastern men are lumped as “unlawful combatants”
Our U.S. distortion of law gives the right to ‘render’
to the point of ‘pulverization’
any confession adds fuel to the fire
and all will be kept classified – redacted when necessary

John McCain, POW for many years has told us
after being tortured you will confess to anything
especially like Dilawar, you sleep suspended
in a place that must look and smell like something penned by Upton Sinclair,
Dilawar, limp, pulverized, hooked from the ceiling,
bloody, disoriented, looking up at night praying to Allah  to please take him to heaven

In 2003 the Military moved The Bagram Operations officer
and several interrogators to Abu Ghraib
the US Commander in charge in Afghanistan, McNeil
claimed “no indication” Dilawar had been harmed,
he said the cabbie was given proper medical care
McNeil would not admit to anything even after a coroners report stated
“homicide” as the cause two months prior to McNeils words

Who killed Dilawar
who took his innocent life
28 soldiers
4 interrogators
al Qaeda
and an exuberant cast of neo-cons and legalese with the President’s blessing

This perverted excitement for war and revenge,
the Bush, Gonzalez, Karzai doctrine for amnesty from torture
defies what is humanity and the maturity to define the difference

The lawyer for the only soldier brought on charges said,
“he, (the soldier) was acting consistently by operating procedures.”
(whose ?)

The New York Times asked of the Military,
why did they lie?
Why were the reports of many deaths at Bagram kept secret?
2000 pages of criminal investigation later
finds many like Dilawar were tortured
out of fear
and a lot of sadism with  soldiers eagerly placating
their superiors

The Military wanted the case closed,
Army Criminal Investigation unit did not –
almost 4 years later
Pfc. Brand was the only one brought to justice-
The military has a veiled policy for their own criminals
“it’s war” –

One can see that “evil doers” work on both sides of war –
USA torturers versus suicide bombers
the President, Vice-President, their appointed lawyers and cronies
want information anyway they can ’squeeze’ it out of the ‘terrorists’
fear is what congeals the GOP voting base
fear is what gives any President the power to breakdown our rights
defined by the Constitution
(and then there is Oil and Halliburton and personal profits to be made)

Media and groups like The Red Cross and Human Right Watch
are arbiters
as we occupy a stone age country using technical words to describe human beings
and demand revenge for what 19 men mostly from Saudi Arabia did on American soil

Our Justice system has wrapped itself in distorted legalese —
Have we not learned, ‘ you get what you give’?

Who grieves for Dilawar
and others used as token methods of perfecting torture?
What has it gotten us –
an un-ending war – continuing death
and many recruits for the terrorists who have new reasons
to hate us for invading their territory on false pretense of
handpicked from faked intel by our Vice President to sway the course.

It’s a look into  black hearts of a self-righteous, egotistical men who parade
inside a head full of “red white and blue”,
a neo-cons wet dream of profit and patriotism
(and in Bush’s mind a Crusade of sorts after speaking to God.)
without any real thought of consequence nor conscience-

Torture creates its’ own vortex
one day we will see what was done by this administration
one day the violations will be shown in black and white
and yet, those who made these orders to torture
will never be held accountable,
never spend a day feeling guilty
never regret the thousands of lives they tore apart
never regret rationalizing war
never regret torture
never grieve for all the Dilawars needed to master their craft…








Abbe Sleeps Through Kevin’s Advice


The last thing I remember was
having a project brewing in my mind
no, burning up my head
I had bizarre bird photos that needed exhibiting inside
bird houses
how would I build and light them properly inside

my friend Kevin would know
and I contacted him asking
if he would be at the gallery today he said
yes, later in the day
so I said yes, later in the day’s good because I’m sleepy
I’ve been up since 3am pacing
under a full and draining moon after counting and recounting
the nuts on my chunky peanut butter sandwich (87) and
I needed sleep
then cranked up my electric blanket all the
way to HIGH
and curled up fetal as my body absorbed
electrons spitting out positive current

but I was sure I was not able to sleep and the next thing I knew
I had paddled to the Gallery in a red boat and
Kevin sat on his green chair with his hat and yellow shirt on
legs up as waves curdled about the floor

He inquired as to why I had
brought all the water from the marina

I said it came with the boat
and asked about building birdhouses
and he said the project was a birdbrained idea
and if I used any electric right now we would both fry,
the boat would catch fire and all the artwork would go
up in flames

but my blanket must stay plugged in I argued
or I can’t go home again and tried to push the prongs into an outlet
as an eel on the other side spit the plug back out
and laughed  at my idea of a ‘Peep Show”
calling it ‘fishy’

I looked back at Kevin who was then tacking out the gallery door
the sails on both sides of the chair were lovely in full regalia
his beloved Debe was trying to hold the chair back as
Kevin laughed like a pirate and leaned over yelling for
Debe to release The Kracken”

I shuddered then woke next to a book opened to the page of
Dore’s Andromeda
and remembered Kevin’s message about going to the gallery
it was 2 hours past nap-land and frivolous minutes were tearing down the
retaining wall of sleep
I escaped and drove to the gallery in a hurry
Kevin was sitting in his chair
I told him about the project and he had good ideas

I spoke of my dream and
he said whatever advice he gave inside sleep
were words of vagrant vapors
Debe quietly peeled her orange after taking in the whole somnolent account
she put a slice to her mouth and hesitated,
“How much for that blanket” she inquired
while the orange slice slid through her wet fingers
sprouted legs and ran off
leaving a very fragrant trail…

dreaming of an avocado on friday night 8/30/14


001 dream-1Kbrest

i’d just hitched a ride onto the tail of a REM comet finding myself alone bent over a kids 1950’s trike
one foot on the backboard between small worn tires the other foot pushed my adult weight along a cracked road for traction
the road reeked of Whitman & boondocks lonely grass plains littered with rusty cans
trash & broken bottles why were there cuts on my legs?

i was clutching a fishing rod while assessing the busy highway 17/92 in Sanford clogged
with noisy honking metal heaps -(or did they honk?) did i hear?
cars swerved & clashed like bumper cars on the daytona racetrack it made me stop
& wonder why i was there assessing if life wuz worth trying to cross that friggin’ street

i thought about what i’d passed to get to the road
3 dogs in a front yard who looked venomous & hungry & ready to kill me as the
paper cuts bled reminding them of fresh meat they wanted a taste of me bad but
were staked to short chains though they threatened & rattled their lean canine bones
until someone with no sexual identity leaned out a window with no screen & screamed for me move on & find a mentor
(wait, who wuz really barking? maybe my neighbors dog charlie had cut through the sleep barrier as he often does)

& before there were maddogs there wuz an old lady on the wet concrete in front of Sav-a-lot
stretched out moaning in a flowered dress one hand on a plastic shopping bag where an avocado had fallen
 & was broken perfectly in half it looked so edible sitting there while she had a heart attack people walked by
as if she was invisible & since it wuz a dream maybe i’m the only one who noticed her plight except for
the vulture gnawing on her forearm i wuz thinking surely someone would call an ambulance
or make guacamole

& before i saw her there wuz a street of shredded paper someofit wuz sharp
 that’s how i got the cuts on my legs as i biked along so i stopped to try & read some
of the shreds only to find it wuz ripped up photographs – it wuz my work 
my own art sliced me up
my cataracts couldn’t focus on anything no matter how much i squinted
my head was getting light

the dream wuz in black & white except for the red tricycle
bleeding papercuts & the red flowered dress 
oh- wait –  the avocado was ripe & the dogs were blue why blue?
why wuz the color so potent?

& before the torn photos i had been walking & walking did i steal the trike?
where wuz i going? the fishing pole had no hook or bobber
no line either maybe it was Whitman’s walking stick
but how could i steer a bike with the walking stick

all I know wuz when i stopped at highway 17/92 and cars whizzed by
i broke outta that dream inna hot sweat blood pressure pounding

tired & weary I questioned my abusive yet eclectic sandman
(and charlie’s 5:30am barks) i heard them clearly now
it made me wonder about all the miles in dreams i have traveled
& all that i have not accomplished
& maybe i wuz the broken down woman alone & deflated but
i never wore red
unless i bled
nor shopped at Sav-a-lot

symbolism & sleep dreams & signs
my friend Leslie would demand i write it down flush out the details
i didn’t have time & went into the kitchen for my everyday breakfast of
brewed green jasmine tea & triscuits with a hint of salt
except there was no avocado
none to be found!
the lady in the dream had let it fall from her bony hand as
i sat in despair for all i had passed in that dream was the one item missed on
my list yesterday
that meant a trip over 17/92 to baggs produce so
i crawled back into bed and closed my eyes
i had to wake up with that avocado
i had to get back on that trike and cross that street….

The Clerk

theclerk  The Clerk


i drove to the gas station to fill-r-up
took  $20 & hoofed it
where The monosyllabic Clerk looked down
at the register
calling everyone
“hereyagoHun” after each transaction handin’ out
or receipts for items purchased –
his terms of endearment rang

some  grandma in schlocky white shades
two people aheada me coughed like a wombat
then ordered
2 packs of smokes – “camel lights” she barked in a crusty chum
as if ‘lights’ mattered to her blackened lungs
then she painfully scrounged
inside a bottomless pit of a purse
for change as the rest of the line squirmed
in the fossilized time it took for
The Clerk to sort & count
the coins on the grimy counter while
grandma bitched about
the rising costs
of inhalin’ a carton of nicotine
butane and arsenic

the pollard after granny was slobberin’ into his cell
pretendin’ to us inside captives
to be coagulatin’ some big business deal
but put the “big deal” on hold for The Clerk while he paid
his stipend
shovin’ his credit card into low hangin’ shorts
exposin’ inside-out boxers
probably getting’ one more day’s wear

the greasy punk in backwards cap
was pissed-off and spoutin’ big-shot loud about his loss
at the vending machine
as if all the money in the world was
The Clerk pacified him quickly with
a crumpled one dollar bill
The Clerk’s words greeted everyone equally
with no malice

i paid cash and went to pump the gas
when the pump hit $19.34 it started that slow crawl to 20.00
I loathed The Clerk and his power and hated
every one of the 66 changes
of numbers laughin’ in my face –
how did the clerk assign you a number like that –
do i look like a person you stop at $19.34
why not $19.86 or $19.99

the pump stopped and the receipt went ding
ding ding – did i want it
i would not dignify an answer
the line inside now took on centipede proportions
connected bodies from behind
in various shapes sizes and smells
all waitin’ out the door for The Clerk’s approval –
heads movin’ about like dashboard dogs
like subjects waitin’ for a glance at the king
on a hot and humid summer afternoon –
glad i no longer had on cement shoes
scrunched between phone yakkers
bellyachers and dirty underwear advertisers

i was about to get into my truck when
The Clerk was finished with his day’s work
and held the door open for the lady
on the next shift
“hereyagoHun” he said as he closed the door
securely behind her
then walked head down readin’ pavement
to his beat up yellow dodge with
the gray bondo on the right fender

i pulled away
imaginin’ him goin’ back home
to a bossy cryogenic marriage
to a screamin’ colicky baby
to barkin’ excited mongrels
where he would stand in the kitchen makin’ dinner
with dogs at his feet – baby in his arms
before settin’ the oven timer to 19:34 for fish sticks –
afterwards The Clerk is lost to a parade of needs
and deeds
catchin’ up after the day’s messes

and finally when the others are masked within slumber
and the house tethers itself
in between the quiet glow of the half moon and
soft ambient midnight shadows
The Clerk props open the kitchen door letting
the dogs out one last time and
sits down with a profound deflatin’ thickness
on the stoop
inhalin’ a fresh cigarette
lettin’ the smoke allay all thoughts
and when the hounds comes running back
he stubs out his butt – opens the door
and says “hereyagoHun”
as feet and nails patter across the tile
to the saggin’ couch
The Clerk drenched in canis
relaxes and watches infomercials
until he and his pack nod off into
the unquenchable power of dreams…

Ruling Dichotomy


She strolls among the old and dusty,
the fox-eared, the stained,
her hand guiding  long, blonde strands back
while bending down,
eyes squinting to inspect Lladro for
fine cracks and chips.
Irish linen dances lightly over palms,
lovely find at a garage sale among  worn towels

She gently places a peeling, headboard in the back
of her well scrubbed truck –
returning home, her hands task with washing,
folding and refinishing,
tagging  items with a calligraphers’ stealth,
tying tags with grosgrain ribbon and
a small,  perfect bow.

Weekends devoted to selling antiques,
shop full of charm and conversation.
Customers in nostalgic refrain say,
“my grandmother had one of those!” or
“ I remember that well -my sister now has it.”
Thoughts ripen and flood through a childhood keyhole
recalling  Wallace Sterling, Lalique and ‘Blue Onion’,
‘things’ that one wishes they would have kept.
She listens as a ‘ repressed memory’ therapist,
the heartache for the grandfather with dementia
who brought the lovely Italian cameo home in ‘45’,
the Aunt with the Milk Glass who had a heart attack and her kids
threw her collection away –
she’s heard it all, the finds, the pawning, the giveaways
and  placed a kind and well manicured hand upon those
suddenly distraught by misty memories
as well as those with  laughter and thrill
upon finding the perfect gift.

When she has free moments,
she’s back on the antique prowl
a trained eye always on guard
wondering if this garage or estate sale will
bear fruit,
make a profit.

She can’t risk a mistake in judgment
She can’t risk not closing the deal.

On Mondays she’s ready for a new hunt,
she dons her work shirt,
gloves, boots, ropes and poles
wondering what she will find
at the end of the large hooks threaded with putrid bait
placed in lakes during the week-
always the result of a complaint,
a “nuisance” gator plaguing many a Florida community.

The hands so adept at handling Belleek
pull in a 7 foot, agitated reptile,
rolling, thrashing and straining against the rope.
Once restrained, the blond hair flails in the Atlantic breeze
while sitting atop a prehistoric ride
binding tape around an unwilling snout,
blocking the eyes from reading the light
keeping the feet tucked in tight –
She and co-worker lift the subdued animal into the truck
her fingers probe the leathery hide for life details,
pointing out patterns, variations: the beauty IN the beast,
inspecting it just as she would a potential purchase.

Speaking with great respect for her captive victims,
she pats a generous white, textured belly, “he’s been well fed,”
explaining that people make a mistake in feeding wildlife.

She removes her gloves,
rewinds her ropes,
eyes watchful on the now quiet catch.
from fine relics to the trapping of gators,
her brain focused on present and past,
the ruling dichotomy of her life.

Later, after unloading her bounty
she will hose down the truck
just in case she spots something
to be transformed into “shabby chic”.
I asked her once, “do you dream of gators?”
“Yes”, she replied, “in my dreams I’m always on the hunt,
always looking for a head about to submerge, glowing eyes and
jaws jacked for action.”
She talks about a recent close call
splaying her fingers in the warm, Spring sun
as if to make sure
all digits
are accounted for,

She can’t risk a mistake in judgment
She can’t risk not closing the deal…
??????????????????????????????? This is a true story!

My Father Happily Hums

My Father Happily Hums



My Father happily hums as we reach the water
I’m 6
standing on a dock
he says I am ready to go fishing
all I want to do is to please him

A contorted worm is spliced by a barb
My father says the worm feels nothing
and hands me the worn cane pole
The worm cannot scream – but I feel it’s agony
My father instructs me to throw my line in
and with his wide, firm hand upon mine
we guide the worm to a watery grave

He assures me that I will catch a fish today –
I will make him proud
I am secretly hoping that no fish are hungry

Father busies himself with his gear
I bring the worm up to the surface
for a quick breath
my father glances at me and
sternly warns – put the worm in the water
I oblige to keep the peace
I feel my own soul drowning with the worm
holding my breath until my lungs ache – I gasp for air

I cough, my father asks if I’m ok,
I smile and nod

My line tugs
my father’s excitement is immediate as he instructs me
bring the fish up
and when I hesitate
he smacks my arm and grabs the pole as the fish breaks through the surface mirror
he smiles and pats my back

 Father roughly removes the hook
clumsily tearing at the gaping mouth
I bleed inside

The sunfish is shiny like red and yellow vinyl-
scales gleaming under clear, blue, spring skies
it flexes back and forth
resisting the grip of the human vise
as it  vibrates on the weathered cutting board

Gills expanding and contracting
my breathing too is now erratic
wondering if I will see it draw in its’ last breath
must I watch it die

Father talks about frying it up for dinner
and how happy mother will be

I beg my father through tears to throw it back
he tells me, quit acting like a sissy
this is how God made humans to dominate over animals and fish
and how Father’s are the bosses of their family
his filet knife slashes off
the still breathing head with purpose
the tail-fin bows, the gills inflate
and then full submission and surrender –
Did that hurt?

Father says no – quit asking stupid questions
the scales stick to the blade and his hands like wet,
shiny confetti –
delicate rib bones crunch
belly opened, exposed and filleted
he cleans his murderous hands in the lake
and tosses the delicate white meat into a cooler on ice
as he baits my hook again he tells me – good job

My fresh worm goes down
I frown
get used to it he says – we aren’t leaving for hours
saying one day many years from now I will
tell my children what it is like catching my first fish

I watch as he walks down further
on the opposite side of the dock
yes, I will remember
and look at father’s back to mine
I bring up my dead worm and hurry to remove it
pricking my index finger on the sharp hook
I don’t dare cry out
but watch as
drops of blood mingle with water and run onto the limp worm
letting it fall into the water

And once again I lower my rod
I lick away the rusty tasting guilt of blood
no complaining
my father looks over and I smile back
my real thoughts and feelings will always remain as concrete silences
filling the gaps of the space breathing  between us

My Father happily hums
My Father Happily hums…