Friday, November 23, 2012



-For Cassy, my wife

Did you miss me?
Are you on your way?
What do you want?
How about Thai food?
It’s Tuesday, they’re closed.
You don’t want pizza.
Wish you’d answer me.
Then I’d know what to bring.
One day I may be texting…
as I take my last breath.
Even then, you wouldn't answer.
Then you’d feel guilty forever.
Hope you’re on your way.
I’ll figure out the meal.
I’ll decide. Imagine that!
See you when I see you.
Answer when you get this.
But not if you’re driving down the road.


                           -For those who served- family,friends, and neighbors.

I think it said, WW I, machine gunner
on the grave of an Uncle I never met.
A cousin of my grandfather was burned
and gassed in the trenches of France.
He never was quite right after that.
I got a picture somewhere of him.

Mr. Brooks still suffered from malaria
and Mr. Spalding spoke of his days as
a Fighting Sea Bee in the South Pacific.
Gail, a man at the beach, always smiled.
People said he must still feel lucky to
have survived the Bataan Death March.

As kids, we’d play patriotic songs from
old 78 records and our grandfather sang-
“Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps”.
He’d laugh after adding “But the women!”
He made Lieutenant Colonel and they gave
him a twenty one gun salute at his funeral.

My Dad’s brother, Walt was a marine,
a tunnel caved in and injured his back.
Jim Stewart was a medic in Vietnam,
he always seemed to have a scowl on
his face. Must’ve seen way too much,
is what people would say about him.

Eddie, a guy from work, used to tell us
about sneaking under the barbed wire
into the village to find a Mamasan who
had plenty of hot chicks for boom boom.
He’d be in the bed and have his rifle right
alongside him in case Charlie showed up.

Uncle Chuck was a Navy radio man but
he never really talked about it too much.
Art Martelli told me of his river boat,
Chieu Hoi and about trying to win the
loyalty of the locals by going up river
and handing out gifts of cooking oil.

Mr. Brown came back to Newark from
‘Nam and was still hooked on heroine
after twenty years. He’d always nod off.
John, another man at work, had a fifth
of White Label every day for breakfast,
he cursed in Polish, and cried sometimes.

Clayton sailed the world for decades
before coming back to his home with
faded green tattoos and stories to tell.
Cousin Joe was a recruiter who handed
out plastic combs and cheap Bic pens
labeled with  “Aim High- US Air Force”.

Kathy was on a ship in the Persian Gulf,
I think it was a sub tender. I remember
our father wearing  US Navy sweatpants.
Phillip, another cousin, went on three or
four tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think he's home now from our latest wars.

Thursday, November 8, 2012



-for Tracey,my sister

You used to call to talk about
what we went through as kids
way back in the 70’s and 80’s.
In our 40’s, closing in on 50 and
we’re still talking about what
some say, we should just forget.
While others say never forget,
but try to forgive, free your mind.

You text me now instead of calling
to tell me how you were standing
in line at the grocery store when
you remembered how she was
always standing in the background,  
and never once telling him to stop.

Finally she texts-
I was scared, scared for you. I was
always scared he would kill you.
I text her back-
I always knew I would get away.


     -for Larry,my father

There’s a farm carved from wilderness
by a man who called himself a pioneer.
It only exists now the way I remember-
Angus cattle dotted the grassy hillsides
and walked to the salt lick at sundown.

Purple martins swooped to catch supper
doing us a favor, eating those mosquitoes.
Laughing children darted through rows of
bushy tomato plants in a forty acre field
on noisy four wheelers and mini bikes.

Horses smiled like people and hung their
well groomed manes and heads over the
rails painted in distinct John Deere green.
And when I drove up, he’d be seated on
the front porch admiring the mountains.

Sometimes he’d be watering his flowers
on the driveway beyond the metal gates.
Once, I found him with arms folded and  
leaning back in a beat up chair waiting by
the tack room with a grin of contentment.


-for Jack, my Papaw

A million seeds arrived from Florida today.
Last week, peat moss was trucked in from
Canada and was stacked at both ends of
the prepped greenhouses.Weeds chopped,
poison set out for mice, little seed thieves.
No more smoking, tobacco causes disease
for the young seedlings that’ll pop up once
the heaters make it nice and toasty inside.
He shows me the stipple board and vacuum
that will drop the tiny seeds into plastic trays.

Orange Kubota tractors with water and hoses
are ready to go, but we won’t be planting yet.
In his kitchen he drinks coffee at the counter
and points to a tall, fancy clock in the corner.
The stoic face of Moon Man rises on the dial.
If you want them plants to grow right, then
you have to wait for the sign to be in the head.
After so many generations, he still followed the
Cherokee way of waiting for a full moon to plant.