Grace ephemeral:

see the cherry blossom tree

beautiful, then bare.




Consider the snow

on the mountainside.

It falls softly and silently,

hardly able to be felt as a single unit.


It lies in brilliant radiance;

pure and white, almost innocent,

able to be trodden down or melted away

as though by a whim.


But let it be disturbed

and it will slowly start to gather its united strength,

gaining momentum as it stirs.


Then its thunder can be heard,

and its power can be felt,

and its irresistible force

can be deadly.



Still Life


In the faded, pastel hues of existence,

as she dozed the days away,

sweet tasting memories lingering on the palette;


As the concert was ending,

soft sounds echoing in the autumn air,

head slightly inclined to catch each lush, solitary note

as it slowly faded:


Hands serenely folded above the portal of life,

eyes no longer straight forward to the future,

but peripherally to the present --

and inwardly to the past;


With that smile…

which forever puzzles those who ponder.


Lady, Lady,

was life that pleasant?

Or did he tell a joke

while applying the final strokes?



The Ladybug

I was standing next to the train door

            reading the newspaper

when I noticed a ladybug trying to land

            on the window.

Evidently, it was too slick,

for the insect moved on to the metal door.

That also proved an unsatisfactory spot,

for she took off again,

only to alight on me.


Slightly annoyed, I started to flick her off,

when I thought

she was not harming anyone or anything

            (least of all me),

only nestling comfortably on my shirt.

I smiled slightly and went back to my newspaper.


Two stops later I spied a seat, and,

while hurrying for it,

noticed that my passenger was gone.

Sitting down semi-comfortably,

            I once more

became lost in the inner world.


A short time later

I felt some irritation on the back of my neck.

Unconsciously, I reached to scratch it.

I instantly became aware of an object,

and pulled my hand away.

There, partially crushed on the finger

that might earlier have brushed it gently away,

hung the ladybug.


As I flicked the broken body

to the filthy floor of the train,

I grimaced at the painful irony.



Faces in the Night

Because it was late,

and I had worked a long day,

and had been drinking afterwards;

and perhaps part of the blur came from the spot

on the cold window

my warm exhalations had already fogged

as my nose became intimate with the glass

in the crush of the crowd.


But I could not tell

if the train on the other side of the platform

was rushing by,

or if the one beneath my leaden feet

had already started once again on its endless journey

to the place it had left so many times before.


And, somehow,

although the faces far ahead could be stopped

and held in focus,

and those far behind could be locked with my gaze

for the closest inspection,

the present tense

of those directly across from me

could not be analyzed,

could not be scrutinized,

could not even be vaguely seen or understood

as they rushed by so quickly.



Apollo’s great chariot rises in gold,

To sweep slowly across the azure bowl,

So sandy-shut eyes may again behold

All colors below are a single whole.


The Lakes so Great with their white-capped sheen,

Mingling with waters of places they’ve been:

Down the east coast with its dark, hidden bays,

And cities now peeking out of a haze.


The coral coast gleams like a natural frieze,

Though palms sway gently, as rocked by a breeze;

White beaches are touched by the blue-green sea,

‘Neath birds of all feathers that sing or scree.


The orb rises higher above the long strand,

Revealing the heart within the great land;

The gently rolling Appalachian greens,

The bluegrass that feeds all the pastoral scenes;


The marshes and lakes and the rivers that flow,

The flatlands and prairies where sagebrush may grow;

The cliffs and the valleys, the low rolling plains,

That bring forth the fauna, the fruits and the grains.


The wheat fields that sway with their golden tans

Give way to the red and the dun colored sands

Of desert and canyon that seem harsh and bare,

Yet still teem with life for those who live there.


Now towering crags of silver do pierce

The caeruleum curtain with their fierce

Shards of metal glinting like battle swords

Set to protect the sheltered olive swards.


At last we stand by the distant west shore,

Facing the emerald depths once more;

Now fading rays kiss the tropical isles

That beckon with friendly, nut-colored smiles.


And yet above all are the dots on this soil,

The ones that produce with their blood and their toil:

The reds who came first, the whites who were next,

Then yellows and browns, and blacks who were vexed;


All give to the land what the country most needs:

Their hearts and their minds, and bountiful seeds;

Variety, vision, and hands that can meet

To stand beneath colors that know no defeat.


Apollo’s great chariot sweeps slowly past

And darkens ‘til morning that great azure bowl,

But leaves our vision illumined at last

That all on this land are one single soul.



With weeping or anger, their eyes glow red

As they move about with lead-footed tread,

Shoulders hunched low to avoid being scraped

By objects with which the ceiling is draped;

Hulking heads lowered with that same intent

Will never to conquest or despair be bent.

Their prison is deep, and it’s easy to see

They may never escape, but their minds are still free.

Proud were they once, and as proud are they still

That no god nor mortal will e’er break their will

The darkness that hides them served more as a cloak

Than a mask for the form, or a shroud that could choke

Off their fierce independence or pride in their race,

Or make them seek now what in death they’ll embrace.

They shuffle about as though needing no rest;

Their patience will never be more manifest,

Their heartbeats more steady, their tempers more calm,

Their gazes more steely, nor dryer their palms.

They wait like the rocks that their muscles once were,

And will be again, for their hearts will endure.

The dark world they live in seeps not through the flesh;

Like roses, their insides are pristine and fresh.

So you on Olympus, who look down on them,

Remember that their time may yet come again.

Your lily-white world, now untouched by dark hues,

May soon find it’s time to pay its back dues.



Walking through a graveyard at night;

moon less than full,

wind more than cool,

mind worse than empty.

Stones telling terse stories in chiseled features;

mausoleums speak of wealth,

wood of hard times,

like a history book in verse.

There are no Furies amongst the dead;

no fear amid the crypts,

no vain struggling,

nor pain beneath the ground.


The men about me breathe as though alive;

they toil in boredom,

live in resignation,

attempt an occasional joke.

But they have no story to tell;

hands move aimlessly,

tired mouths say little,

eyes inured to feeling.

What good is life when men cannot be free;

how consoling is love?

So we save our strength,

and count the stolen days.


Sometimes I miss that peaceful graveyard;

it makes me pause…

What worth has life

if death brings comfort?

Can spirits break like hearts from too much yearning;

may arid eyes

show more despair

than Mary's tears?

If so, then having some amount of quiet compassion,

please say an Ave --

not for the dead soldier,

but for the live one.

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