Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dog poem

The Limits of Operant Conditioning
In Patrol Dog Training

It’s what I am bred
to do, the ancients
urge me on, the “perp”
fast, but I’m much
faster, rocketing
ahead, closing in
leaps, low, legs churning,
my handler’s voice God,
yet, can He offer
a reward greater
than the one seared deep
in my DNA?
Prey, the chase, the kill.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Belated Rejoinder To Neil Young

A Belated Rejoinder To Neil Young

It stands in the southwest corner of the
backyard awash in periwinkle, tucked

between the forsythia and the Rose
of Sharon, a spindly lookout for fat

robins in spring or the jittery hordes
of squirrels that throng in all four seasons, a

burgeoning conclave locked in a constant
state of turf war racing along the length

of entangled inelegant rods or
pausing to survey the terrain from the

vantage of the slanted ovals arranged
at oblique angles, a shaky marriage

of bent, ribbed rebar and diamond plate put
to the torch, shaped and cut, welded, de-burred

to no useful purpose, implacable  
witness to the passage of time measured

in imperceptible oxidation
of alloy, beautiful, consuming rust.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The World's Best Cheeseburgers

The World’s Best Cheeseburgers

You’d be surprised to learn that they operate
out of a nondescript warehouse on
a cul-de-sac in a trackless
industrial park on the periphery of
some cookie cutter suburb in some
middling hub city somewhere in the Midwest,

a windowless building with a net-less
backboard bolted to the wall near a rear
side door a few steps away from a pipe
and plank picnic table chained to a

coniferous tree offering little
in the way of shade, not at all what you’d
expect given the critical nature
of their job, an irony on a scale you

could appreciate, on par with the
scads of drone operators in
un-tucked polo shirts sipping Diet Cokes
in cubicles somewhere near Las Vegas,

stepping outside to smoke, propping a back
door open with a dun colored rock,
but just as secretive, perhaps even
more so, at work day in and day out doing

whatever it is they do, all with an
unseen hand, applying arcane algorithms,
employing units of weights and measures,
analyzing materials at the

molecular level, consulting,
if need be, oracles and tumbled
vertebrate, all with an eye toward making
a definitive determination

suitable for signage let’s say, in the
window of some godforsaken diner on
a secondary road running through a
transitional neighborhood of a core

city somewhere within the sprawl of
a Mid-Atlantic metropolitan
region, a hand lettered sign that
proudly states, in this case anyway,
“The World’s Best Cheeseburgers”, a small
testament to these unsung, nameless hero’s.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Santorum's First Day

President Rick Santorum’s First Day Diary

3:30 a.m. Marine callisthenics.  100 reps each of sit-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, push-ups, squat thrusts and head stands.  Once again I defeat my animal urges.  The battle between good and evil is never ending!
4:30 a.m. I am risen!  Get out of bed.  Kneel on bottle caps, pray.
5:00 a.m.  Enter bathroom.  Perform the necessary yet filthy morning ablutions.  Wash hands repeatedly.  Yea, the body is but a vile vessel!
5:02 a.m.  Fleeting desire to go back to bed.  Flayed self on White House roof.  Remembered my piece of True Cross on which to bite down in exquisite pain. 
7:00 a.m. Breakfast, the usual.  Manna and locusts on plain uncooked oatmeal. Donned vest over coarse hair shirt. 
7:03 a.m.  Issued first orders.  Purge White House of women.  Suggested relocating them to shipping containers on the Mall. Changed name of White House to The Monastery.  Instituted mandatory daily confession and public acts of contrition for all staffers.   Exorcised Oval Office to rid of Democratic demons.  Note:  Clinton demons refused to leave.  May require blood sacrifice.  Where's Maureen Dowd when you need her?  Declared OWS an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, legitimate drone targets.
8:00 a.m.  Strangely attracted to Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Flayed self on Monastery roof, allowed screams of ecstasy to ring out over Foggy Bottom.  The heavens rejoiced! 
8:30 a.m.  Sent one page budget proposal to Congress eliminating Federal funding for any program or department not specifically mentioned in the Bible or Constitution.  The Church will donate money to send all displaced Federal workers to spartan reeducation camps.  They'll be trained as Wall Mart greeters. 
9:00 a.m.  Suspended Constitution until lunch.  In interim, reduced Supreme Court to one member, Justice Thomas.  Replaced Bill of Rights with Ten Commandments.  Ordered Nancy Pelosi burned as witch.  Smores, anyone?   Instituted new alms program for special corporate intentions.  Note:  ask Mitt for advice on off-shore banking options.  Instituted new Dominion Over the Earth program.  Accepting bids on sale of all Federal lands.  Ordered all Federal regulations symbolically burned on Monastery lawn.  Nancy's coals still hot.
12:00 p.m.  Fasting lunch.  Keep finding reasons to walk by the office of my cute new White House Chief Council.  Tightened spiked metal thigh cilice, swooned in ecstasy. 
12:30 p.m.  Postponed reinstituting Constitution.  Declared war on the Caliphate.  Asked Congress to fund new Crusade.  Left loopholes to allow Crusaders wiggle room when they run into Jews, Buddhist's, French people, liberals, homosexual's, Mormon's and atheists on the way to Jerusalem.  Appointed former Bush staffers to manage The Blue State Inquisition.  Accepted bids for sale of broadcast rights and promotional products. 
2:00 p.m.  Stole a longing glance at the Vice President in Men's room.  Flayed self on floor of Congress, live on C-Span. 
3:00 p.m.  Issued list of banned books. 
3:15 p.m.  My bad!  Much easier to issue list of approved books. The Bible, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Readers Digest and the Left Behind series.  Consider TV Guide. 
5:00 p.m.  Sent Congress The Adam’s Rib Bill for their immediate approval.  Prepared for expected backlash from radical women’s lib types.  Schedule televised address, told them in no uncertain terms to get back in the kitchen.  I expect dinner on the table by 5:30 from now on. 
5:30 p.m.  Dinner.  Salisbury steak.  Not bad, a bit dry. 
6:00 p.m.  Evening devotions, silent prayer, ruminated on annihilating all nations beginning with the letter “I”.  Yes, especially Ireland!  They’ve really been giving the Church a what-for on this alleged child abuse thing. Iceland, too.  I hate Bjork's latest.
7:00 p.m.  Wild, impure thoughts about John Boehner.  He's so divine, like a juicy Sunkist orange!  Flayed self in Lincoln Bedroom.  Removed vest.  Donned coarse hair pajamas.  Turned in for the night.  Slept the sleep of the Righteous.  Tomorrow’s going to be a wickedly busy day!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Die Brücke

They must have turned a few stolid German
heads in the years before the war, out to
overturn the dinner table,  

bellow in the library and race around
the alter, kids playing savage, their
idea of it anyway, the id

unbridled, hands turned to thrash and
burn with primal tools, gouged wood
releasing unseen spirits, tossing them

off like two minute garage hits pressed onto
paper, burning the inked blocks to heat
their cold Dresden studio leaving

only to take in the tingle-tangle
and meet girls, that timeless pastime 
of tortured artists everywhere, 

a blitzkrieg bookended by the
Manifesto and Chronik der Brücke,
a short jagged run worn smooth,

scoured by war, gouged away by a new
breed of savage in crisp brown shirts, ranks
in lockstep, preaching purity, wielding fire. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



We live in a house that rests on block walls

laid on shallow footings in the sandy

soil of an old lake bed shot through with the

roots of big oaks and sycamores, nineteenth

century farm rubble and chunks of slag

from the carriage house that once stood in the

southeast corner of the yard, earth that sheds

water, basement a tooth set in a dry


We live in a house, current occupants

sharing rooms packed with ghosts, two or three to

a chair at dinner, cheek by jowl in the

tub where we manage to hold on to our

dignity amid all those feet fighting

for purchase, sharing the soap, backs pressed up

against the cold tile wall, eyeing the one

dry towel. 

We live in a house spanned by two solid

yellow pine beams, the pair end to end perched

on stacked block walls, forever balanced, chaste

kiss atop one spindly metal pole that

bears the weight of our lives, a circus act

I prefer not to think about when I’m

drifting off to sleep in our bed on the

top floor. 

We live in a house that reveals secrets

to the unlucky, the unwary, flawed

gems I collect in my pocket, closing

my hand around them, imbued talismans

of ownership I know by shape and heft,

imperfection, after all, the sandy

soil that roots us together in this place. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Santorum Verum Fidelis

Santorum Verum Fidelis

God’s horse in the home
stretch, itching to impose His
will, snide, vested loon.

Monday, February 20, 2012


A Debt of Gratitude To Virginia Lee Burton

It’s all in there, a blueprint for a

life well lived, my sacred text,

perfect replacement for a world

of tired hotel Gideons, this tale

of a plucky fellow with an Irish

surname, unencumbered, set free

to roam at will, picking up work here

and there, more hedgehog than fox, a man

who did one thing and did it well but

wrestled with his private doubts in the dark,

stretched out, perhaps, atop Mary Anne, the

night warm and clear, black sky smeared with

stars, a man who knew how to back up a

claim, take a risk, court failure and

humiliation at the bottom

of a deep, perfectly excised hole,

all four corners neat and square, my idea

of a perfect ending, a second chance,

my Mulligan, quietly tending

the boiler with a good book, waiting

for you and your homemade pie, Popperville,

a world enough for me. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Yoko

Happy Birthday, Yoko

What to make of it,
your mom, mine too, Yoko’s age?
The world tilts, plates shift.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Persistence of Vision

Persistence of Vision

They say our eyes perceive an image less

than half the time at the standard rate of

twenty-four frames per second triggering

the electrical and chemical sleight

of hand known as persistence of vision,

giving my profane creations rendered

flip book style in the outer margins of

my eighth grade algebra text a sacred

patina, a phenomenon that sheds

light in one corner but leaves another

in shadow, a quiet place to sit and

wonder about the dark gaps between the

frames that, if my math is correct, occur

more than half the time at the standard rate   

of twenty-four frames per second, a dim

corner with a desk, chair and window where

I will write the screenplay for the film of

our lives to be screened once and only once

at one frame per second, spaces between

a mad tangle of joy and tears, where we

will sit side by side in the balcony

until the lights come up, the credits roll.