As a poet, I am fascinated by the metaphysical, mystical, and metaphorical nature of rivers in general and the Ohio River at Madison in particular.
Moving past Broadway, past Elm
Past the geese at the floating marina
The stacks of the monolithic power plant
Past all the bare and sunken trees
To list round the bend at Hanover
When I recently visited the Great Law of Peace Center in Syracuse, I was shocked to learn that the sacred Onondaga Lake, which is the setting for the beginning and ending of my historical novel “Turtle Island: A Dream of Peace,” is the most polluted lake in America.
“Thank God the economy is back in swing
And we’re ripping out enough coal
To make some sludge,”
Said the head of the local Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), himself
A former mine owner.
Look at the light beams
pouring down from the sun:–
slicing through morning fog
and mist like a million surgeons’
carefully sharpened knives
in a medieval cathedral of medicine,
On Grafton Street a legless busker
Begged a tune from his plastic flute
Gazing the while at his missing feet
By Saint Stephen’s Green
With the swans and the palms and mist
Particles at vast distances from one another can affect each other’s actions. This phenomenon, called “spooky attraction at a distance,” has implications for a strange mash-up of time and space and alternate universes.
Barely contained laughter
slicing open the heart of the matter
exposing the irony or hypocrisy
of all our tendentious moments
here on this long wave
we’ve been riding for half a century.
Today light conquers darkness
good triumphs over evil
knowledge beats ignorance
as millions of Hindus light lamps
and decorate floors with colored
rice and sand and flour designs
designed to banish the dark side
Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews:
You are all the sons of blood.
Worshippers of Mithras
Of Horus, of Isis, or Mars:
You are all covered in blood: . . .
Marc and Anne-Marie
live in the shadow of the Marquis
de Sade’s chateau between
Le Coste and Coustellet
in the hot magic of Provence.
The caper always goes wrong.
Some dope makes a stupid move
Like shooting the cashier or a copper
Or someone moves too soon and there’s no
Getaway car parked by the curb
Or maybe the dumb mutt follows
The car and the pooch screws you.
Pigs bloated with conceit / Like pink hot air balloons / Sprout white wings and / Fly high all over Washington D.C. . . .
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
all white men who own property
are created equal –
this of course excludes
black people and Indian people
and women and poor white
whiskey tangos . . .
Beware. The day of reckoning is coming / when the storm brewing in Washington / blows down your house of cards.
Donald J. Trump, / the country’s first postmodern president / has shown us that there is no Truth. / Truth is a relative . . .
The corpocracy that controls us all,
tells us that when the great cosmic
foot comes crashing down
upon your own private anthill
or city or hotel or public space . . .
It’s hard being a Christian these days / when you are supposed to love / your neighbor, your sisters, your brothers-in-law / who all voted a narcissistic
The pigtailed killer of the wicked witch
led daddy’s kids thru Emerald City
before she made it there herself
The ancient Forum Romanum: a miracle of marble! / Columns Ionian and Corinthian and statues of gods / And consuls, temples lined inside and out with marble / And mosaic and tiles. Now ruins. Used for centuries / As a quarry to be mined by Bishops and Popes
In the non-Catholic cemetery in Rome
Close by the pyramid of Cestius
The bones of John Keats lay down in cool
Earth. His words were not writ on water
As it says on his stone, his last request.
After winter’s ragged grin, spring comes greening in / with leaf-curling smiles of hope for new beginnings:
March, that classical month, / sits upon her pillars / supported by the plinth of dying winter / and yearning towards the moony start of spring.
Vincenzo Viviani and Giovanni Battista
de Nelli strove to save Galileo’s legacy . . . :
rewriting many letters
excising references to Copernicus
and blasphemous heliocentricity.
By the Villa Borghese park and the statues of Lord Byron and Goethe, I wait for a bus and watch two old homeless Roman women, sitting on a bench on the street opposite me . . .
John Keats, who was born on October 31, 1795, was not well regarded during his brief lifetime, but now, more than two hundred years after his birth, his small output of poems are considered some of the most beautiful and beloved in the English language.
Some say Keats was inspired after seeing the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. Others maintain that it was the Townley Vase that fired his imagination. Neither of these objects, however, contain the wealth of detail that exist in the poem. In it, the poet contemplates the eternal nature of art and the fleeting nature of life.
Poet and spoken-word artist Jack Ramey reads Shelley’s famous poem written after a walk through the woods along the Arno River during a fierce storm. The physical storm and its metaphorical possibilities excited his great poetic imagination, and this poem literally poured out of him.
Poet and spoken-word artist Jack Ramey reads Shelley’s sonnet, which is one of his most famous poems. This fine poem reflects Shelley’s view that tyranny cannot last and that tyrants will always vanish in the end and return to the dust that they came from, as all things do.
they called me when I was alive,
my slave name – Louis for Louisiana,
Congo for where I was taken from.
Imagine a planet
and bears outnumber people.
A mere ten thousand years ago
the human population of Earth
was five million bodies and souls. . . .
The Romans could not
subdue the Jews
so they destroyed them –
down to the ground
killed every man
woman and child
Rose taffeta unwinds
from her spinning dancer’s dress
You’ve hurt me
for the last time, she says.
A rogue’s gallery of blackguards
lines the walls of her memory
Against dark windows
on the bare-skinned hour
Bedtime: the baby
skims surfaces, dipping
into the perverse ocean
“Burnt Almonds” is a parodic, satiric, and science-fictional retelling of the flight of the Enola Gay and the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which was one of the most horrendous examples of mass murder ever inflicted on a civilian population during a time of war. It trumps the atrocities of Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Adolf Hitler.
No savage fit of barking
Will bring back the kiss of Eurydice.
Orpheus lies daggered in Mecca’s
Hashish clouded streets
And the calm dusty breasts of Helen
No longer sweat for the heat of cold Paris.
Camp Mingo Nirvana peek-show
northeast ohio end-all-dreamy-
thursday afternoons :
it is sunny as the Lord’s Day
& no kids play in the park
The skin that hangs from this skeleton
is cloud stuff: tree limbs on a hilltop
seen from a moving vehicle – ineluctable
like foxfire in nightwind, vanishing within
seconds after sight.
Psychotic dogs bark at cold winter stars,
chips of dead ice on the black painted
canvas of night. They sense the distance.
These passengers are always with me
On my journey down to the sea
Where sailboats list and bob endlessly by the quay.
On cracked ancient krater
painted red, men black-
The insubstantial beauty of smoke
lilting upwards from an unseen stack
on a clear winter morning,
No rivers in China
Return to the sea
As once they did
Bringing tiny bits of mountains
To form sand on the ocean floor.
The last few bars of Mysticali Rose
drifting down the street
mixt with dust and rolling mesquite
you never got over your youth –
All those slap-happy penny dreadful
tales of Billy the Kid & Wild Bill H.
went to your head and stayed there
like lead poisoning. You talkin’ to me?
Living in the Land of Gog
we see but dimly
as through scrim of fog.
Simonides of Keos
inventor of the art of memory
said that painting is silent poetry
and poetry is painting that speaks.
I want to be like Wang Wei
or any other Chinese poet
silent on a cold mountain top
looking down on corrupt
Such properties as these
do make me funk.
I shall go outside and
become one with ducks,
who must for now remain invisible,
even though they seem indivisible
from my poor twisted psyche today . . .