We are not called

Cannonballs at the Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC. May 2009.

or, “To all who run toward the open field”

Not all are called to priesthood;
...to teach,
...to heal,
...to defend,
...to right wrongs,
...to lead,
...to agitate,
...to write
The Great American Novel.

Some of us pursue
not purpose but
meaning in being,
in "job well done",
in talents exercised,
in immediate
gratification for
problems solved,
purposes fulfilled, in
greasing wheels for
others, serving those
we do not know to
accomplish what we also
do not know. To add one 
rock to the pyramid
being built by us all.

i sing the keyboard Selectric

(a first draft with apologies to Whitman lovers everywhere)

I sing the keyboard Selectric,
The keyboards which I loved and those few which loved me,
They will not keep up with my fingers nor respond to them,
But IBM corrupted me, charged me full of longing for the charge of the ball.

Who could doubt that once corrupted, we would conceal ourselves?
If once defiled, we would not attempt to defile others?
If the up-and-back could not salve our soul?
If the jittering ball were not our soul itself?

The love of its inky black nothingness of a ribbon, we scarcely balk to account,
That of the ball is perfect, and that of the ribbon is perfect.

The expression of its typeface balks account,
But the expression of a well-made page appears not only on the paper,
It is in the slight indentations felt on the paper's reverse, it is curiously in the non-smearing type left by supple wrists,
It is in the ball's walk, the absence of carriage, respondent to flex of wrists and fingers; cover does not hide it.
The strong black strokes jump from the rag cotton carrier,
To see it conveys the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see what life it might bring back to dead prose.

Bridge from Underwood to cathode ray tube, to green dots pointillistically imbuing meaning in blackness,
The thin dark lines of letters stringing meaning, the meaning within you and me,
The exquisite realization of print;
O I say these are not the parts of prose only, but of the writer's soul,
O I say now these black lines are that soul, meaning.

sucked dry

Intracoastal Waterway, Bogue Sound, NC. November 2016.
Did I say,
"nailed by meaning?"

your lines suck
my lungs dry,
replacing my
oxygen with
fluidic meaning,
sustaining me
more than I
knew I needed.

blue sunsets

What if sunsets were blue? What if
they resembled my recollections:
how I broke upon your hardness, how you
ran from my insensitive cutting
remarks, lasers which severed whatever
tied us together those few years? Would I
ever have experienced solar reds, oranges,
pink-tinged magic? Known this reality?

Turned from unreal shadows dancing on 
Plato's cave wall, pushed into dwelling
among well-lit shadow-makers,
my memories hold
only blue shadows
watching blue sunsets.
when a memory plays you tricks


Bogue Sound, North Carolina. November 2019.
Some comb beaches
pocketing striking shells,
attempting time's arrest.
I, rather, snatch sun's
rays from morning and 
evening skies, saving
moments too fleeting for
memory--tweaking my 
specimens to resemble
what my minds-eye says
actually occurred.
Bogue Sound, North Carolina. November 2019.

the rhymed poem

My poems seldom rhyme. To me
it seems contrived frivolity.
Pushing literary toes
into narrow shoes just shows
clever, well-turned rhyming tricks
meant not for skill, but merely hicks
who hold a cowpoke's doggerel
more meaningful than good ol' Bill!

Dashboard Cooper (aka D.B. Cooper) disrespected contrivance in all its forms. Sometime in 1989.

Binary friends

I am not a friend.
I am an appliance
turned off and on
at whim; replaced
when my performance
Valued for comfort,
valued for feeding
(choose one or more)
until satiated.
Stress-walking, tense-talking,
wondering when this misstep
will negate our shared history.
This just in:
I too will turn you off
at a moment's notice.

Gardening emotionally,
I prune unfruitful relationships,
attempt to shape the unruly,
fight invasive species, but,
lately, I think I've pruned too
aggressively, fought too
vociferously, spent too little
time nurturing those pretties
who choose to live in my garden.

"Window up, window down",
Grandma's mantra. Why bother
with gradations, nuance, shades
of meaning, human failings?
Today's binary, electronic culture
can't see it's founded in
yesterday's hard realities:
"If'n it doan kill ya, it'sa prolly good,
but if'n it make ya sick, t'ro it! Ain't
no use hangin' onta sump'n gonna
maybe kill ya, sooner or latuh."

I live not in my past but
in someone else's. It served
our ancestors for lifetimes, it
put backbone into indecipherable
existence, into amorphous life:
Symbolic living, roles for everyone--
must I think about myself,
about you, about everyone? Surely
I will die inside. I will face
insurmountable walls of

Today's non-roles just demand
different roles, other rules,
other games to play.
Just tweak roles from 
millennia past. No need to
reinvent new modes of
emotional transportation.

But still...
It's on/off, "thanks for being
there, why can't you behave,
why can't you act the way
we act, push the buttons
we push, hate what we
hate, love what we love?"

I've got some on/off for ya:
Be who you are; I'll be the same.
Maybe similar will attract 
Or bug off.

Who’s using whom? Purple coneflower and bee. June 2017.


Duck pond, Tallahassee, FL. May 2022.
Sometimes, poetry is not good,
rejuvenating long-dead memories
when one graded The Poetry Assignment
as written by thirteen-year-olds.

Sometimes, the poet shoots
invisible needles of meaning,
millions of them, ripping, zipping
through me, nailing me
to where I sit.

[once again grabbed by the poetry of James G. Piatt as featured on Ephemeral Elegies]


I read a book once.
I checked it out 
of my high school library;
I was a sophomore. 
It was arranged like this,
one concept per line, and
it explained infinity.
A difficult concept, so
only one idea per line.
It taught me that
one infinity can exist inside another,
therefore the second infinity's bigger.
And if you add "1" to the second infinity,
it's bigger than it was before.
I read this book while waiting
for our wrestling team to compete.
I co-managed the team, and
I relished being the one 
to watch the locker room during matches
meaning I could read uninterrupted for a long time.
This book both increased,
and decreased,
my awe for The Infinite,
and it did nothing to explain
how more than fifty years later
I see/feel/understand what went through my head
as I read this book
while young men in stretchy uniforms
grabbed each other's crotch.