The Day After: An Open Letter to Canadians

If we promise to behave, if we sign a contract to act like civilized human beings, would you have us?

If we promise not to pollute your skies with various emissions, your televisions with reality shows, and your grocery shelves with Twinkies, would you have us?

If we brought our money, and our industriousness, would you have us?

If we brought our notions of equality and tolerance that no longer play so well in our own country, would you have us?

We are not all gun-toting madmen – not all.

We are not all selfish, self-absorbed jackasses who can’t spare a dime for those in need – not all.

We are not all narrow-minded zealots who would repress the rights of others in the name of a religion of which we don’t grasp the basic tenets – not all.

We are not all fear-driven racists and sexists resistant to change – not all.

Those of us who are still Americans, would you have us?

The Divine Divan

I can see Central Park from here.

Glory after glory

lies beneath the tapestry of green.

The Lake, the Boathouse, the Reservoir,

the Carousel, the Conservatory Garden,

the Terrace Arcade, the young sails

on Conservatory Water,

the arches, the bridges, the people.

I have seen them.



Scenes from the Train

I’ve never before passed slowly enough

to register the little red fireplug

set a few inches too high on its base,

beyond which the grey bulk of the

power station keeps

its dispassionate watch.

Despite  their proximity,

they are not friends.


The origami abandoned

in the brush beside the tracks,

what does it mean?

The abandoned humans

under the overpass,

what do they mean?

They have folding chairs,

as though

the train’s passage

was as watch-worthy as

a concert or

holiday fireworks.


Restaurant employees

range for a smoke break

in the back parking lot

in the summer heat,

almost as if they were posed,

or perhaps posing,

for our passage.

In the urban wilderness next

the tracks,

free range grasses and

scrubby bushes

wave their scrappy leaves

in hello or farewell as

the train pulls by.


It is peaceful here

in the train depot,

surveying silent, abandoned cars

waiting patiently for their owners’


the denizens of the neighborhood

coexisting complacently with the chunk and

whistle of the train,

all the passersby,

the patrons of the bar, the

utilitarian apartment dwellers

redeemed by its age.


The train rolls through

the snowy serenity of

winter trees; no one

walks these tracks

in winter.

The land is untouched,

secret, despite the

brief voyeurism of

passing strangers.

Each tree branch is

artfully, carefully coated

in soft white,

outlining the tree’s


defining every detail.



The Valiant

The Swiss Chard

faithfully hold the southern line,

with little hope of relief, supplies,

or even water from the shiftless

Gardener General back at HQ who

assigned them to this godforsaken

location in the first place.

They hold despite the dandelions,

bold in their numbers, voracious for

territory, spreading their insidious

leaves across the border.


Nor do they succumb to the

exotic beauties of undetermined affiliation

infiltrating the ranks,

opening wide their

delicate white petals, offering

seductive red centers to the sky.

Could be poisonous.


As the days wear on,

the dandelions redouble their efforts,

though the ground is littered

with their uprooted bodies,

drying to dust in the hot sun.


Occasionally a chard is taken prisoner,

surrounded on all sides by yellow-headed

swarms, cut off from comrades.

Patiently, he waits for rescue,

and does not surrender to despair, but

wreaks what damage can be done from

the inside,

wresting light, water, and food

from hostile hosts.


Tall grasses shoot up as swords

in the midst of the chard compound,

and yet they hold,

until picked for salad detail.



Gealach lán

The Queen of Night

shines so bright

to light our stumbling way.

With little care

we follow where

her darling pale hips sway.


Her legs are bare

to all who stare

up her silver array.

So fair on the eyes

we imagine her thighs

the finest place to stay.



Haunted House

The ghost that lives in the bathroom

likes to rearrange the


Can’t really blame her.

So much of her existence

must be colorless,

Everything in greyscale.

Those primary plastics

shine through the veil

and call to her like

carkeys to a toddler.


She used to play with the

recharging flashlight

before it died forever,

turning it on in the

middle of the night,

leaving it to languish,

with no one to guide

into the light.



Our Own Personal Dionysus

We use your name like an amulet

to conjure the good times

and ward off the forces of despair.

“When Jeff comes to visit,” we say,

“we will have so much fun.”

Everything will be better, brighter, bigger.

“When Jeff comes to visit,

we will go Here, we will go There.”

We can’t truly go


without You.

“When Jeff comes to visit,

We will do This, we will do That.”

We don’t truly do


without You.


Beer in one hand, shot in the other,

your staff and scepter,

You are myth, an urban legend

we tell to strangers, to amaze and

impress them.

We tell of

your unrivalled

drinking prowess,

your madness,

your charm.

We may lose faith in

ourselves, in America, in God

But we will never lose faith

in You.



Praise Poem for Tyler M.

Most fair.

Fair of face, strong of mind,

Steady of heart.

His heart is his darling’s, and

no other’s.


His kindness is a balm to the old women,

His slender body, a delight to the young girls.


Gold his hair as sun shaft through storm clouds,

as sunlight dancing on water,

as light dappling the waves.


Blue his eyes as the sea beyond the ninth wave,

Clear as the cold mountain lakes,

Blue as the summer sky in their clear waters.


Quick his wit as a rabbit through heather,

Sharp as the frost on steel

Easy and ready his laughter,

A pleasure to others is his wit.


Not all that glitters is my hero,

But my hero is all that shines.




I dreamed of you last night, but not in the good way.

I stood alone in a closet next my living room,

a Sharpie (standard, black) slipping repeatedly

from my weakening fingers.

Frustrated, I called you,

railed again about the


of my existence.

“Sing like a monk,” you said in a voice

slurred with three sleepless nights

of hard liquor.

“You mean Gregorian chant?”  I needed


but I couldn’t understand

a word you said.