Haiku Night School

counting syllables
familiar has three or four
here I argue three


the third line departs
from the imagery evoked
but not completely


is there Zen in this
master strikes me with his cane
my scribbles burning


a pointed dunce cap
the fool will wear it in shame
the wise just wear it


the class is dismissed
what all did you learn today
some eraser smears


Veterans of the Big Bang

“the knuckle-atoms will not
commingle with the drywall-atoms”

scribbles the physicist in his

notes, pen gripped in a trembling
bleeding hand, chalky white dust
settling all over the lab

at the sub-atomic level everything
seems soft and fuzzy, uncommitted
to being, a penciled-in existence

but there’s a hardness to atoms
that makes you think they’ve
been through bad times, and

came out of it prepared
for the worst, unwilling anymore
to take shit off of anyone

mending their hearts, rectifying
the trauma, suffering PTSD from
their role in the Big Bang, and now

futilely adjusting, after all this time
to the hum-drum work-a-day life
of simply appearing solid


The hardwoods sent their roots
down into the museum below
into the vaults beneath the leaf mat
where the first sounds, stellar echoes
muffled under perfect black loam
formed the aboriginal musicale

Before a cutter can say “fall”
your chambered body, your neck
before the luthier said “shape”
still hidden in the mists

On mountainside, in the valley
the poison dart frogs meeping
in a driving rain, giant Stag Horns
under impossible vine-laced canopy

The rain forest written in your
rufous stained, long grained face
clutched by hooters and hollers
improvising drunken solos, the babel
of every-skin merry players, roof beam
rackets, the shoe-scuffed dance floors
of us, the throngs, and giddy songs

Slap-strumming pedal to the metal
or finger pecked, string bending
trance shattering crescendos, all from
such a stoic, quiet-seeming wood
born of the life-oozing hum
and decibel of ancient anterooms
long before the chainsaws

Then sometime after, the cover bands
of coping saws and chisels played
familiar jig with clamp and glue
then catgut, me, and you


(an affectionate nod to my favorite ukulele
and well-made stringed instruments in general)

Address to an Infant in a Stranger’s Baby Carriage

(My latest piece to be submitted to, and rejected by, McSweeney’s. Live long, and keep writing.)

Our connection seems faint, an imperceptible nod from a passerby at some un-appointed hour. Does it not? What is this, do I know you?

Yet, here we are breathing the same air. You’re a lot like me, I bet. Stubborn and given to brash episodes of furious ingratitude, consumed by a facile self-obsession, a rancorous preoccupation with feeding and napping and all of it punctuated with a factory-like production of pant soiling emergencies. Don’t I know it. Continue reading “Address to an Infant in a Stranger’s Baby Carriage”

Fortune on the Ropes

(best heard in the voice of Tom Waits)

The mother of all hopes, say why
It is the hope that you won’t die

All your other little hopes
And fears of fortune on the ropes

Are you and mama’s little babies
Raised on could be, might be, maybes

Small, defenseless, toddler hope
Together you, in patches, cope

Do not these puny hopes obscure
The big one? Never speak it, sir

Me, oh my.

If there’s an I that I can see
it’s me that sees it, got it? See?
If there’s a you that sees us too
then count us: one, two three.

But if your you has also two
like me and I, one tally more.
That I and me and you and yours
would make it… two, three, four.

My alter-ego checked my math
and says it rather stinks.
We have six personalities,
he says. They’re out for drinks.

Your alter-ego, may I know
the head count please? I’ll wait.
Eleven more and counting? God!
Well, this is bonkers, mate.

I wish the I and me, and you
and yours, and all the others well.
I’m quite perplexed (or is it me?)
and how about you? Do tell.