Friday, July 30, 2010


Snails the size of quarters,
black and yellow caterpillars,
skinny squirrels of a different color.
Keep a lookout for aggressive bears.

A strange man runs by in flip flops,
cheap Dollar Store flip flops,
going full speed over jagged rocks
and rugged tree roots, like an Inca
or Aztec is what comes to mind.
You thought of Ancient Greece.
Either one, all I know is that I’m glad
to be wearing my Merrill hiking boots.

Ladies in dresses with fancy shoes
just come from Church, it is Sunday.
Husbands in khaki long pants, polo shirts
and infants strapped to their chests.

Little hillbilly children walking barefoot
for two and a half miles to swim in
the falls, the ones that have the sign-
Four deaths have occurred here
from drowning, please don’t be next.


When he first headed south
to see all that he was missing,
to make up for lost time and
to find out where he came from,
the song played on the radio
in a commercial for the University.

A single flute, simple, but sad.
It got his attention so much
he had to ask his father-
What song is that?
After a pause,
a sparkle appeared in the man’s eyes,
a grin grew on his face
as he shook his head.

Boy, you don’t know?
That’s Rocky Top.
If you’re coming to Tennessee,
you have to know that.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Silhouette of a bowed head,
barbed wire, a prison’s guard tower,
simply black and white.
How long will this flag fly
on the poles beneath
The Star Spangled Banner?
Will it fly here for
another thirty five or forty years?
Do young people stop to ask
what it’s all about?
Do the old people remember
or are these soldiers
forgotten once again,
by too many Americans?


When I bought a card for you to say,
“I’m sorry about your father’s passing”,
I meant to send it to you on Monday.
People who know me well, can tell you
I have trouble with sending things on time,
using a calendar, or keeping appointments.
I never sent you the card bought from an
aisle in Acme when I was grocery shopping.

A few weeks later, another coworker’s Dad
died and I thought to send your card to him.
But I didn’t have the address and felt awkward
reminding him of his father’s battle with cancer.

Two months went by and when I found the card
in my bill box, I felt terrible about not sending
it to either one of you. A while later, another
woman at work was headed overseas to bury
her father, suddenly dead, a massive heart attack.
I couldn’t get it together and never sent the card.

Then a paper appeared in the main office, stating
the boss would be out all week making arrangements
for her father in Delaware, who’d been ill for a long time.
I kept the card and wondered what was wrong with me.

In the summer, my sister called crying in the message
she’d left on the voice mail of my cell phone-
Our father had passed away. He had been ill, but no one
could believe that he’d get taken from us so soon.

When I returned from the funeral and went to my desk,
I came upon the unsent sympathy card and it was then
that I finally understood what it was like and how it felt.
And it was then that I cried just a little bit longer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


They drove to Sunday School with his
parents who they never called Grandma
or Grandpa, just Ethel and Joe.
Good people who always drove Lincolns.

Whenever the song came on the radio,
Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinking,
if you don’t stop driving that Hot Rod Lincoln,

they’d turn it up, start rough housing,
laughing and making a commotion.

And the kinder Joe was to the kids,
the more bitter their stepfather became.
He’d tell them stories of abuse, cruelty
and how his Dad would always tell him-
You’re eating aren’t you?
Shape up or ship out.
If you don’t like it,leave.
If you’re not doing nothing,don’t do it here.

But the kids didn’t need to hear those stories.
They’d seen it all before,almost every single day.


He knew that they must be Japanese.
They bowed politely to one another when
they walked in before the morning meeting.
He can’t help but wonder what it would be
like if Americans bowed to one another this way
upon seeing each other or before starting work.

Later that day, he tells his cab driver what
he saw and what he’s been thinking about-
If we had to bow, would we better off?
Would we be more polite, would we be kinder,
would we be better workers and better at math?

I think it’s too late for us to start that now, is what
the cabbie said turning onto Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


He’s not wearing a button down
light blue shirt or a long sleeve
white shirt with a striped yellow tie.
He’s not carrying a brief case and he doesn’t
have an open lap top on the sofa next to him.
They did not leave a Wall Street Journal
on the floor in front of his hotel room door.
He didn’t ask for a receipt as he purchased coffee.
He doesn’t have a blue tooth in his ear and
he did not talk loud enough for all to hear
his latest idea, business deal, or proposal.


television across the room is
placed above the hotel lobby’s bar.
Some guy in a white Blackhawks jersey

hoisting the Stanley Cup above his head
and he’s smiling so hard, it looks like
all the stubble from his playoff beard
will burst from his face. At this moment,
as I wait to check in for the night that

I have a sick feeling in my heart.
Like a man who’s been betrayed

by his good friend or what I imagine it feels
like to see your wife with another man seated
at the corner table in some dimly lit restaurant.
Again I feel the pain of losing you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My cruise control is set to 65,
you know how Virginia is, especially
when it’s Fourth of July weekend.
Above Highway 81 North, stands
an old guy in a black leather vest
and a POW-MIA biker bandana.
He jumps up and down, waving the
American flag on a 6 foot long pole.
His red, white, and blue sign says-
Remember, Freedom is Not Free.
He jumps extra high and hollers as
the driver of a Kenilworth hauling
Little Debbie Snack cakes yanks on
the air horn, to second that emotion.