Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nocturne for Joyce

Nocturne for Joyce

There’s something soporific on
My shoulder—there’s no doubt—
For when my wife reposes there,
She quickly passes out.

It happened last on Sunday night.
We’d not been long in bed 
When my narcotic shoulder felt
The weight of Joyce’s head.

We talked a bit, while on TV
We watched a favorite show,
And soon I felt her breathing shift
To regular—then slow.  

And forty minutes later she
Had shifted not at all.
Our show had ended—now I knew
What next would sure befall.

When I turned off the TV set,
The silence woke her—fast,
And what came next? The usual.
(I’ve known it from the past.)

She sat upright—now wide awake,
A crocus in the spring.
“I nodded off—so tell me, Dan,
Did I miss anything?”

Oh, this would be amusing—yes,
A story bright and light—
But is it really funny if
It happens every night!?!?!

The heavy rain began to pelt
Communities across the veld.

[veld = a grassland especially of southern Africa usually with scattered shrubs or trees]

Shakespeare Couplet:  Romeo and Juliet (4)

“O, teach me how I should forget to think,”
Wails Romeo, who’s veering near the brink. (1.1)

Monday, September 29, 2014

High School Students in the Coffee Shop

High School Students in the Coffee Shop, Sunday Afternoon

The students gather in the shop—
They fill the tables—all.
So I slump in an easy chair
Along the eastern wall.

Computers glow—the smart phones too.
And drinks of every kind
Distributed on tabletops
While kids do what’s assigned.

Their fingers dance on keyboard keys—
I hear Hi-Liters squeak
As they mark passages that they’ll
Remember—or critique.

The conversations drift a bit—
From school to friends and such.
But when they speak of youth’s New World,
I just don't get too much.

It’s hopeful, seeing earnestness
Among the very young.
They’re singing to the world the songs
That youth has always sung.

When Robert uses words like juxtapose,
I feel like socking Robert in the nose.

Shakespeare Couplet:  Romeo and Juliet (4)

And Romeo, in love, has come to learn
That Rosalind chose not to love but spurn. (1.1)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saturday Farmers’ Market; Hudson, Ohio

Saturday Farmers’ Market; Hudson, Ohio

The shoppers swarm across the Green
On this, a market day.
They've come to buy the produce that
Is now there on display.

The bargains are not always great—
But still there’s lots to buy,
And all enjoy the weather—there’s
A mild September’s sky.

Yes, babies in their strollers, and
Some dogs upon a leash,
While people sample goodies—from
Some jam to bread to quiche.**

No whiff of mere mortality
Can ruin market day,
For things seem simply ever green
When weather will obey. 

**not sure about this--but it rhymes

Newspeak was the tongue he hated—
Heard it spoken, was deflated.

[newspeak = propagandistic language marked by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings; double-talk]

Shakespeare Couplet:  Romeo and Juliet (3)

“Once more, on pain of death, all men depart,”
The Prince declares—this strife just tears his heart. (1.1)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Changing Leaves—Old Mill Road, September 25

Changing Leaves—Old Mill Road, September 25

On Old Mill Road the branches reach
Across this rural way.
The autumn colors now suffuse
The foliage on display.

I humanize those social trees—
Imagine reaching hands,
An older tree, paternally,
Explaining autumn’s plans.

The younger tree thinks death is near—
His leaves, he feels, will fall,
And is a tree without its leaves
A living thing at all?

The father then reminds his son
Of cycles in the year,
Attempts to pacify the child—
“There’s not a thing to fear.

It’s just the shedding of the old—
It’s what we have to do,
And then in spring—remember, Son?—
We’re lush and green and new.”

But nothing is forever—as
All sons must one day learn:
A dark and cruel spring arrives,
And Father’s not returned. 

1.Dumb …

I know that he was looking for a friend,
But I was not—decided to rescind

2.… and Dumber

I didn't get your text today—
The only way to mend?
Just build a time machine and then
You simply click pre-send.

[prescind = to withdraw one’s attention]

Shakespeare Couplet:  Romeo and Juliet (2)

The families brawl in a Verona street.
The Prince is angry—says it is not meet. (1.1)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week

We ban a book and hope to keep
A child in innocence.
But such a strategy, of course,
Is simply lacking sense.

For innocence cannot remain,
No matter what we try,
And growing children recognize
A literary lie.

So when we ban or burn or try
Maneuvers of this kind,
We just adopt another way
To stunt a growing mind. 

1. Dumb …

The sexy robot stared so sexily
That soon I thought, “Could this be right for me?”

2. … and Dumber

Ralph went shopping with dear Roe, and
Did what he'd been well taught:
Kept his mouth completely shut, and
Smiled at all that Roe bought.

[robot = 1a: a machine that looks and acts like a human being  b: an efficient but insensitive person  2: a device that automatically performs repetitive tasks]

Shakespeare Couplet:  Romeo and Juliet (1)

"A pair of star-cross’d lovers”—we begin
This contest which young lovers fail to win. (Prologue)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

And Some Change ...

And Some Change

The red is seeping into trees—
Like sunset into cloud—
Like silver hairs among the gold—
Or blood into a shroud—

Like novel thoughts arriving to
Reside inside the head—
Or blushes in a guilty face—
Or wine into the bread

Or fog into a seaside town
Or value into art
Or pride pervading parents or
Pure darkness in a heart.

The squirrels do a frantic dance
Across the autumn lawns—
While daily suns descend into
Horizons made of bronze.

All things prepare for change, it seems,
Suffusing what is now
With something very different that
We’ll soon accept somehow.

The guy was so meticulous
It got to be ridiculous.

[meticulous = marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details]

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (51)

Puck says, “Give me your hands if we be friends,”
And with his words, this play of dreams now ends.  (5.1)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Double Rainbow—Aurora, Ohio

Double Rainbow—Aurora, Ohio

Above Aurora, Sunday eve,
A double rainbow’s arc
Brought both surprise and wonder just
Before September’s dark.

Oh, would we find, if we should look,
A double pot of gold?
Perhaps two surly leprechauns,
So grizzled, grim, and old?

Perhaps they'd yield their treasure up
To lovers such as we?
And smile and wish us happy lives—
And teach us alchemy?

We saw no surly leprechauns—
But spun high piles of gold,
Employing love’s true alchemy,
Of having hands to hold.


The agita he felt at every dawn
Increased and deepened as the day went on.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (50)

The happy marriage day at last arrives,
And three romantic couples knit their lives. (5.1)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bag End

Bag End

A plastic bag had soared above
The grocery parking lot.
It hovered fifty feet at least,
Providing food for thought.

It billowed out—a small balloon
To carry tiny things
Around the world in eighty days—
A substitute for wings.

It made me somehow hopeful, then,
To see it float in air,
Defying its appointed tasks,
As if it weren’t aware

That bag designers wanted it
To carry things to cars;
Instead, it floats and contemplates
A voyage to the stars.

And later on, another bag—
Much larger, in the road—
Seemed fixed on getting in our way—
We hesitated, slowed.

And as I looked more pensively,
A thought began to nag:
It seemed to be in search of me
Impatient body bag?

A gust then blew it out of sight—
Somewhere back there, behind.
But winds could not at all dispel
That image in my mind.

And as I drove away with haste
Below September’s moon,
I heard a sepulchral voice:
"Fare well! I’ll see you soon!”

1. Dumb …

“Yes, you should feel beholden,” said
The statue with the golden head.

2. … and Dumber …

“Oh, what was that bee holdin’,” cried
The waspish cop that promptly died.

3. ... and Dumbest

He said, “Well, I be holdin’ aces high”—
Then showed his hand and watched the others cry.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (49)

So “Pyramus” concludes. The lovers go
To bed. And Puck returns with magic glow. (5.1)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Two crows are touching beaks today
While we are rolling by.
A minute on, we see two geese—
The Love of either’s eye.

Now we, of course, have been in love
For nearly fifty years.
When it arrives—the truest kind—
It never disappears.

And so when we see animals
In sweet proximity,
We just assume they’re lovers, too,
Who’ve solved the mystery.

 1. Dumb …

Due to your most foul demeanor,
I will look for pastures greener.

2. … and Dumber

Demeanor he got,
The longer I fought.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (48)

In “Pyramus,” we watch the wealthy folks
Break in with varied, uninvited jokes. (5.1)

Sunday, September 21, 2014



The equinox arrives again—
The differences are slight.
But soon enough it’s patent that
We're tumbling into night.

There, Darkness reigns while Bitter Cold
Retains the other throne.
And humans feel abandoned in
The darkness—all alone.

It takes another equinox—
In March, the vernal one—
To reacquaint us with the light—
With Hope, the child of Sun.


 I’m older now and really can't
Do anything like gallivant.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (47)

And so this play—this “Pyramus”—begins,
And soon dramatic nonsense whirls and spins. (5.1)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall

Oh, yes!
(Alive, I guess?)
It's such a splendid morn,
This day—at last!—that I am born.
I've met my mother—and my father, too—
Though neither of them seems too certain what to do.
But soon they learned—it really did not take so very long,
And then our life at home resembled something very like a song.
I grew. I went to school. I made some friends. I found a job I sort of like.
I tried to keep as active as I could. I jogged for many years—I rode a bike.
I met a woman whom I've loved for years. Some children came. They grew. Then moved away.
They’d learned their basics, loved and lost. And each would learn the steps in Life’s ballet.
And soon—so soon—I slowed. And knew that it was time I should retire.
I did. And realized I'd had all that I could desire.
I slowed some more. And saw that all was fading out.
Of what was coming next I had no doubt.
And then the battle for each breath—
I breathed in synch with Death.
“It's time to go?
Oh, no!”


So our relationship, mutatis mutandis,
Seemed no more well—but full of foul disease.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (46)

The  Duke decides that they will see today
Our “Pyramus”—oh, yes, it's Bottom’s play! (5.1)

Friday, September 19, 2014

After the Fall

After the Fall

I tiptoe ’round the coffee shop—
I fell there recently.
At home I grab the shower bar
As if it sought to flee.

A rumpled rug’s a Claymore mine
Concealed on battlefields.
A sidewalk thick with fallen leaves?
More slick banana peels.

The books I’ve piled around my desk—
The notebooks, magazines—
Are lying there to catch a toe,
They're accident machines.

On stairs, my friend’s the bannister—
I clasp it like a love
As I descend so cautiously
From rooms that lie above.

I must be very circumspect—
A fall, a break, a cast!
But also there's the dismal thought:
Next fall could be my last.


I saw her at the Rathskeller
Her looks made me a happy feller.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (45)

And Theseus asks, “What revels are at hand?”
They'll soon see “Pyramus”in style so … grand? (5.1)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chief Pain-in-the-Face

Chief Pain-in-the-Face

I saw the dermatologist—
It happens twice a year.
He shot me with his aerosol—
And froze my freakin’ ear.

Now, I don’t want you thinking that
I’m anything like Job,
But I felt suffering, my friends,
When that mist hit my lobe.

I’d like to borrow—just awhile—
His can of freezing mist
And shoot him in his little lobe—
And then see who gets pissed!


She took one look at Bob, her unknown date,
And thought, An evening to abbreviate.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (45)

“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,"
Says Theseus, are similar. (I know it!)  (5.1)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Father & Child

Father and Child

Today—through windows of the coffee shop
I see a father and his child. They stop
There at the light and wait for green. Then walk
Across the street in smiles. And as they talk,
I see—though cannot hear—affection’s tone.
I sit here with my drink and books. Alone.
And feel a sweeping sadness—perfect pain—
As I now realize that not again
Will I walk hand in hand across the street,
While laughing with my little son, whose feet
Must hurry to keep pace with mine. I slow,
Of course. Accommodate. Because I know
He's absolutely fixed on keeping pace
With Dad. Determination lights his face.
We reach the safety of the other side.
He gently pulls his hand from mine ...
                                                           I cried
Today. That father and his child. These days
They share are evanescent. Nothing stays—
Not gold, as Frost reports. Nor dross. All goes.
I wonder if that laughing father knows
His child will drop his hand—his grip go slack.
She’ll walk ahead—perhaps not glancing back.


1. Dumb

So I went sailing with my pa,
Who got so sick from pitch and yaw.

2. … and Dumber

Yaw goin’ to the game?” he cried.
I said, “No way!”—I kinda lied.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (44)

The others, wondering where Bottom’s been,
Are thrilled to see him—ass-less—once again. (4.2)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Evening Road

Evening Road


An evening drive. The road to Kent.
We wondered where the summer went.


Beside a rural house we saw
A weathered stump. Beside,
A youthful tree—of several years—
That surely was allied—

Or kin—to what had lived before.
The parent tree was proud,
I’m sure, how straight the youngster rose.
With sturdy strength endowed.

But—nearer to the road—a stump
Much fresher. Not as yet
Rose any sapling, any kin,
To make the world forget

The glory of the parent tree.
And so it goes on earth:
The elders die, perhaps replaced—
Or maybe not—by birth.


The two alpacas danced across
The twilight pasture there,
A mother and her weanling that
Seemed sans a single care.

What do they know? Just food and sex
And sleep and shear. And men,
Who seem in charge of everything—
What is and what has been.


The dog—a young one—by the road
Seemed paused to make a dash
Across the road in front of us.
I braced—a certain crash.

But then he paused.  And changed his mind,
And we flowed quickly by,
Relieved in heart that this was not
The evening he would die.


By dark we were back home again
And understood where we had been:
In fading evening light sublime
We’d driven near the cliff of time.

Our friendly game of mumblety-peg
Soon ended with a knife-in-my-leg.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (43)

Then Bottom says that “man is but an ass.”
He leaves, his fragile dream like thinnest glass. (4.1)

Monday, September 15, 2014

There It Was ...

And then—this morning—there it was,
A blossom on the stalk—
The lily’s way to contradict—
Of course, it cannot talk.

It somehow knew I'd doubted it—
And, not to be outdone,
It spread its petals to the air,
And glowed in morning sun.

“Her yea is yea,” wrote Emerson
Of Nature’s final power.
Her “nay” is “nay,” he added—was
He thinking of our flower?

That lily near our cedar fence
Had seemed so near its doom.
But Nature spoke, instead, a “Yea!”
A lily burst in bloom. 

He euchered me; I was inflamed.
I took him out—was never blamed.

Shakespeare Couplet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (42):

“Why then we are awake,” Demetrius
Concludes. They leave—with so much to discuss. (4.1)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lingering Lilies

Lingering Lilies

The last few lilies on the stalk
Seem hesitant to me.
They’ve colored—slightly—and imply
They’ll soon be bursting free.

So dilatory, these last buds
In this September dawn.
Perhaps they know their siblings—all—
Have blossomed and have gone?

Or maybe it is Death himself
Who’s keeping them inside?
Why spread your glories to the sun
When Death will coincide?

I feel some kinship with this plant—
Though my veins run with blood.
Perhaps I too would never die
If I’d stayed in the bud?

His ex- was wearing sexy jeans
And broke his heart to smithereens.

Shakespeare Couplet:A Midsummer Night's Dream (41):

Our Theseus with his soon-bride-to-be

Debates the breeds of dogs—most amiably. (4.1)