September Rising

no modifiers
no metaphors
keep the sun and moon
save the scent of peaches
ripened on the tree
the hum of happy bees
keep the quiet
and the expanse of sky
no   need to venture
no need to weep
at season’s end
just breathe

Pressing the Powers that Be

Who can win a battle of spit
and revenge?  And what
have they won? The pendulum

swings. Endlessly
cycling: Someone loses, someone

No thought is given to natural law
or past history. Powerful in the upswing,
there is no thought of mercy

or grace, just revenge born of spite,
a wielding of power
in an unyielding win …

what goes up must come down.
Victors become victims on the ladder

of reality.
Humility is learned on the downhill side.
I’ve heard that the fingers bleed

from holding on in the fast paced decline
of that inevitable slide.  Press on
but remember the law of gravity.

For Gerald Stern


You will better understand this poem if you read Gerald Stern’s
“The Dancing”   You can find it at

* denotes phrases borrowed  from Gerry
**Hillman Library  at Pitt .

The Substance of Numbers

State sponsored brief case,
shoulder strap or handles…
The burden is yours, who cares
how you carry the weight?
Faceless manifests
with no hint of heart,
it’s what’s inside
that counts.

The day is a long walk,
feet and back are aching.
The weight of the numbers
mounts a new assault.
A thrown stone
that falls short of its mark
still has the capacity to harm.

The brief case
shows signs of aging;
its handles are frayed,
its insignia fading.
Still, in the words
of the laptop,
it’s what’s inside
that counts.

Paying Ahead

Each poem
comes with a price already paid,
There are few bargains,
Sometimes a battle
between thrill and fear

and sometimes hunger,
so many nights alone
under the moon.

Even the rose
has a sting, a bleeding
from a hidden thorn, but that’s
a seasonal thing; the levy
for endings is always dear.

The poems that cost the most
and are the best, The ones that stare
you down and dare you not to care,

Those with something extra
in their aura, with no interest
in a pound of flesh; they
are bankrolled
with bits and pieces of the soul.