A Lullaby For The Dark

Sour neighborhoods cluttered with soft hard kids

the gates of egress adorned with prickly spikes

no directional signage for life’s stations of the cross

very few chutes, mostly mirages of ladders, minus rungs

perchance to dream, sure, more likely just lay low


Slickly oiled up and anointed as tabula rasas

ensconced in the insidest of sick jokes

breathing in and out in a sundown world 24/7/365

the keys to any kingdom always beyond grasp

it’s a fabled concept spewed by word torturers


In even the most forlorn, yes, resides a dim glimmer of hope

can it ever intermittently eschew dormancy, or even artfully rule?

Try attempting facing the mirror and diving through the distortion

seeking the sprouting, shunning the stunted and gnarled

while praying all searing pain and hurt could be exit wounds


Ecstasy is a child’s hunger ceasing

Agony is four more years

Ecstasy is elevating work from toil to joy

Agony is expending hate

Ecstasy is witnessing smiles and absorbing laughter

Agony is bitter silence

Ecstasy is serving delight to others

Agony is separateness

Ecstasy is being ensconced in a coven of angels

Agony is evaporating a thirst for justice

Ecstasy is the side excursions on the curlicue path towards fulfillment

Agony is the malice of mislove

Ecstasy is the messy splatter of creative expression

Agony is the stifling of the vocabulary that describes your world

Ecstasy is…

Agony is…


Being useful sounds positive.

But is that useful to others?

Useful to oneself?

A mixture of both?

Is being of use healthy? Depleting? Sustainable? Necessary to live the so-called good life?

Does writing personal truths that register with others, however large or small the number, count as useful?

Or considered a mere wordplay morsel in life’s banquet of importance?

Measure this versus eliminating polio?

Teaching? Is that measured by the gravitas of the curriculum? The changing of lives?

Where does dying in a war to end all wars fit?

Or being a guard at a concentration camp?

Executing the condemned? Ask Jesus.

Only the balm of transcendent loving is forever useful.

The 51st time

— inspired by this prompt: it must have happened to me 50 times

Why me?

Fate? Ordinary human cruelty? A fickle cosmos?

That question will never be answered because I’m not enriching a therapist’s bank account only to be told I must be holding something back or I’m avoiding digging incessantly through my layers of myth and reality in order to excavate my core truths.

I generously accept it will continue. Five minutes ago it happened for the 51st time. Yes, I’m counting although I’m not a glutton.

I have no control over the thoughts and actions of others and that’s okay.

Life could be better but when does enough beauty suffice?

I lack the answer but don’t want this question to be my focus.

There is marzipan to be ravished. Rosé to vanquish. The fragrance of vanilla bean with which to drift away. Melons of many pungent persuasions to be devoured. Delicate jasmine to inhale. The arts to be devoured.  Gelato to be licked.

Pleasure is not my enemy despite the multiple warnings of others.

I surround myself with both symmetry and its contrast and dive into it. I’m living large and my life is good.

But yes, it’s inevitable.

Out of scorn, pity or envy, go ahead yet once more, charge me as fat.


Is compromise a major catastrophe?

a minor loss?

a dreaded draw?

a cloak of shame?

a bruised and tattered valentine?

shattering or soothing?

a clumsy tango?

evidence of better angels?

an orchestra with revolving conductors?

the art of finding ‘less’ attractive?

the launch of something greater than ourselves?

a calorie-less dessert?

a greater vision?

who’s keeping score?

all, some or none?

— inspired by a poetry writing class prompt about compromise

When Evil Happens?

Evil is a course served hot, cold, room temperature and often throughout so-called civilization.

how are we to react to these sometimes indivisible, usually worse, wounds even if not necessarily bloodied ourselves?

beyond our memories fading and attempted mindful adjustments


Is overt callousness or a disengaged ‘meh’ acceptable, or only as an emotional shield for the tender who feel too much?

does indifference or maybe the kinder narrative, apathy, only induce or reinforce hardening?

Call it a life less felt?


Is deepening despair or reactionary fury one of the more amenable roads to be traveled?

these separated-at-birth twins living large in cadence with our lives since the Big Bang

as the collective community of beings fails yet again

with selflessness, caring, righteousness and revenge battling for desirability

Call it a life excessively felt?


Should practiced equanimity be our goal?

yet a call to action, not benign acceptance

understanding the static state plateau is unworthy of satisfaction and rest

Call it a life evenly felt?


Each path serves immediate primal needs.

Consider that we are all works: some in-progress, some in-regress, some immutable, most a melange of all three.


I guess I’m a homo sapien
but not by choice or formal invitation
However, I am bereft of any other membership, save one
I am married, a union man of mutual co-signing
in a dues-paying division of labor, even as a twosome
implied and actual contracts and pay rates continually readjusted as are benefit packages
with union busters, pecking and nibbling, just doing their job

But if we are even semi-blessed and human wise plus
matrimony contains periods of elevation
when your fellow unionist sees a higher iteration of yourself
selflessly aims towards its progress
lauds advancement
understanding crashing back to earth as necessary as well as grist and then fertility for the flesh-and-blood mill
and with awe, you mirror your partner

We are unfinished works of art attempting to pitter-patter up-and-down a two-way street
at times slogging, laden with resistance
but chosenly joined
not just to one who would have us
but with someone possessing the willingness to absorb our DNA
and mutually re-paint, re-hammer and re-sculpt over for a finer future.

— inspired by a poetry writing class prompt about membership

Birth to death

Yes, he successfully conquered water
turned vintner with a spicy zinfandel
the masses at the miracle collective
believed the finish kept their deaths at bay

He a Mecca born and bred commando
the purveyor of the peaceful sword
his preaching saved huddled masses
while infidels brutalized his words

Yes, from stony Jerusalem to sandy Mecca
the spectrum of deeds belied their beliefs
safe harbor for true followers dimming
perverse sanctuary for killers and thieves

The seeking of the everlasting life policy
call it upscaling the forever vacation
just say the magic words in the correct ear
for just-in-time personal gentrification

But all remains ashes to ashes, dust to dust
passports unstamped for angels-on-high camp
life is truth and lies, pleasure with pain
amidst lonely flickers of humanity’s righteous lamp

Let’s call our end what it is — an endless rest
from a life lived both holy and hell
identity and actions fully legible and owned
at the very last tolling of the bell