Looking For Wisdom

Sep 01

At the Gallery

"Researches Uncover 39,000-Year-Old Abstract Art By Neanderthals"
                                                U.S. News and World Report

"What you suppose is."
"I not have clue. You?"
"No. You think it art?"
"Not sure. What artist name?"
"Og with one g or two?"
"What is two mean?"
"Never mind. It just an abstraction.

Navigating Grief -


When I was young, we sailed,
from Hingham to Boston Harbor.
We spent hours on the water and you taught
me everything you knew about sailing.

We chuckled that turning the tiller left
made the boat bank right.
In sailing, and in life,
you taught me everything I know.

You taught me how to tie

I don’t often reblog but this…

Aug 31

Human Frog


The curtain rises on Vaudeville.
It’s early morning at a tranquil pond.
Ever so slowly at center stage
A giant water lily unfolds.
Inside, rolled into a tiny ball,
Is Harley Mankin, The Human Frog.

First a webbed hand, then an arm,
A flippered foot, a leg;
Gradually Harley unfolds himself,
A green-costumed living origami.

He goes into a series of croaks and ribbits,
Springs from his powerful legs
Into the rigging above the stage,
Leaping from one dangerous lily pad platform
To the next, all while grunting and croaking,
A one man circus act.

The audience is spellbound at first,
Not fully understanding the art they are watching,
"A man who can do what no other man kin do."
From the balcony someone yells,
"Bring on the dancing girls!"

Aug 30

Black Telephone


                        Black Telephone

In my parents’ bedroom there was a black telephone.
Back then telephones had no buttons, no dials
just a round disk with your phone number on it.
Ours was 263. It was who we were
in our little town. Anyone who knew your number
could call you by picking up a phone
and telling a live operator your number
or if they didn’t know it, they could ask for you by name.

"263 please." Adding the please was essential
 telephone etiquette because the operator
would then say, “thank you.”
Or, if someone didn’t know the number
they could ask to talk to the drug store,
the meat market, the bank
or the Andersons on Mechanic Street.

Sometimes, when I was supposed to be taking a nap,
I would pick up the receiver of the black telephone.
"Operator," a woman’s voice would say
and I would recognize that voice.
":Hello Katie," I would say to the voice.
"Hello David," the voice would say.
"Where is your mother?"
"I don’t know." But Katie knew my mother
was in the next room.
"I’m too busy to talk now, David,
but you call back some other time,
okay sweetie?”

Years later, my mother was working
at a lunch counter over a four lane bowling alley.
One day she handed me a paper bag.
"Take this sandwich to the phone company,"
she said.  ”You have to ring the bell
and when the door buzzes you say, delivery,
open the door and go to the top of the stairs.
Collect sixty cents. You can keep the tip
if they give you more.

"Hello David," said the woman at the top of the stairs.
My name is Katie and I’ve been waiting
for such a long time to meet you.”
"Yes," I said. I remember your voice."

Aug 29

Billy Collins: ‘When I start a poem, I assume the indifference of readers’

Heart Attack

Please come in. Would you care to have a seat?
You can lean your scythe in the corner by the door.
For just a few minutes if you don’t mind. I am tired.

Can I get you something to drink?
I have diet Dr. Pepper.
Some ice water would be nice.

Do you play chess?
I only did that for the Bergman film.
It’s really too serious a game for me.

How about some backgammon?
No. Perhaps some Scrabble, if you have it.

What if I win? Will you go away?
I’ll go anyway. You’re not who I’m looking for.

Then why did you come to my door?
It was raining and I saw your light on.

Here. You can draw your letters first.
On second thought, maybe we could do this
another time. The rain is letting up.

You sure? I have nothing else to do.
I really should go. I have an appointment
and I’m already late. I’ll come back - soon.

Aug 28

The Woods

Something was out there
just beyond the first line of trees.
I knew it was there but no matter
how much I strained against the dark
I could not quite make out what it was.
only what it was not, a man
a bear, a deer.  Most things
are revealed by their shape.

Not this thing at the edge of awareness,
a thing which refused to show itself,
a thing exactly the color of night
which constantly changed its shape,
its size, as large as a tree and
at the same time as small as an owl.
I thought I could hear it breathing
but that was me.

Aug 27


That’s me at seven.
My pants were too big,
cinched up with a narrow belt.
See, I missed a loop.

My hair wasn’t that light.
It must have been bleached
by a summer in the sun.

Those shoes. Are they P.F. Flyers
or Red Ball Jets? I had both.
Of course back then they only came in black.
The only kids with white shoes were the ones
who played tennis at the country club.

I don’t remember who took this picture.
Someone said not to shield my eyes
so I had to squint. I remember now
how much it hurt to look into the sun.


Nothing can hold it.

Aug 26

Storm and Poem Without Verbs

black-yellow sky
             sudden wind
violent gust             broken limb
        scattered leaves    driving rain
wet hair        cool air
          damp feet              flooded street
ozone smell         cool air

comfortable chair
            note book     pen
poem           no verbs

Aug 25


                                        (for Ted)

I could see him at a distance
wandering a patchwork of open fields,
past an abandoned farm house
where he stopped to examine
some broken bit of history he’d picked up
from the yellow, barren earth.

He walked on across a small stream
that wound through a pasture
of giant-eyed cows dressed
in loose fitting uniforms of black and white.

He turned up a crooked road
to the old Presbyterian Church
and it’s quiet grave yard
where he stopped to rest
on an iron bench and think about
whatever it is that old poets think about
just before they start going through their pockets
looking for a pencil.

Aug 24

Great poetry prompt. Tag it OCDNightmare.

Great poetry prompt. Tag it OCDNightmare.


The beggars of our town held a meeting.
They divided up territories,
assigned an order of rotation
for the busiest street corners.

A committee was appointed
to standardize the wording
for cardboard begging signs
and the size of the lettering.

Another was assigned the task
of tearing the end flaps from boxes
pulled from a dumpster behind a restaurant
so that all of the begging signs
would be of similar size.

"This is how democracy works," said Ruben,
"and equality. Now every beggar
will have an equal opportunity.”

"But some of us look more pathetic,"
someone protested. “Doesn’t that
give them an unfair advantage?”

"It’s up to each of us to develop our god given talents.
We can only provide a level playing field.
The rest is up to you.”

"But what if we put all the money together,"
said another, “then divided it evenly
among all of the beggars?”

shouted the most pathetic
of all the beggars.

Aug 21

River That Flows in Both Directions

It has started to rain and suddenly
the world has become a better place,
one of headlights and taillights
reflected in the mirror of black pavement,
of umbrellas, red, black, blue, yellow
moving along the sidewalk,
sometimes bumping their edges together
like fallen leaves floating along
a river that flows in both directions.

Aug 20


Every day I count the ways in which I am blessed.
I am blessed that I have these fins
and this broad tail that I can swim
in circles around and around
this bowl, with which I am especially blessed.

I am blessed with a magnificent view
of the world of the air and the great walking fish
who inhabit it who drop manna into the water
that I might eat until my belly says,
"no more, no more."

I am blessed by the colorful pebbles
in the bottom of this bowl
and by the company of the tiny figure
in the diver’s suit who blows a constant stream
of bubbles into the water to keep it fresh.

Finally, I am blessed by the attention
of the large furry air creature
who watches me hour after hour
with its huge yellow eyes.