I See Hope

Fingers deep in waking earth
  clearing ferns from wintry somnolence

Their feathered, spiked, serrate fronds
  release spores in ochre clouds

Raindrops drum my hat brim
  enthusiastic paradiddles of spring

Hands set blade to swordleaf
  trimming old stems and rusted detritus

From the center I lift accreted duff
  revealing curls, verdant and sleepy

Nestled in that fiddlehead crown
  is the confidence of rebirth

Hope is spring’s eternal gift
  a promise of life
    and all it contains


“Cancel culture” is scary. It can destroy reputations, bankrupt businesses, stifle dissent, and ruin lives. 

At least, that’s what conservatives tell me.

And they’re not wrong.

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I am built of tiny things
bits of stone and glass and wood and bone
each one a moment

I am drunk
and high
and sober as clear water
I broil my skin red in the Judean desert
as my toes freeze blue in the Sierra snow
I kiss Ellen under Corinthian sequoias
and Luann in the spray of Pacific surf
I walk barefoot across summer hills
through grass as tawny as a lion
I feel the thrum of my tires
as I cycle along fog-shrouded curves
In Paris I am lost in place and language
In London I give directions to tourists
I play Berlioz in a stone cathedral
I paint a sunset at a winery
I cook a meal that isn’t very good
I grieve a brother lost
I smile and hold my wife’s hand

These are tesserae of my life
not frozen in time but freed of it
not layers of the past but cut from a shattered present

I lay each one down
be it clumsily or with care
to form my greater whole

You see the mosaic
I am the mosaic
in progress

Moment by moment
bit by bit
I am built of tiny things

My Left Hand

I am right-handed, and I live in a right-handed world.

It’s the hand with which most of us write. It’s the hand we use to salute, take an oath, and offer in greeting. It’s the side on which we seat our most trusted allies. It’s the hand we deem dexterous, while the left hand we label sinister.

It’s not surprising that our left hands get short shrift. We right-handers often think of them as the clumsy, oafish sibling to our dominant hand. We use these “lesser” appendages to write joking notes in a purposefully childlike script, and to deliver less-than-flattering compliments.

I do not look at my left hand this way.

My left hand is pretty damned amazing. It’s stronger than my right. It can hold something rock-steady while my right hand tinkers away for hours. Having been a musician, I can tell you that my left hand has just as much dexterity as does my right, perhaps more. Oh, sure, my right hand is quite adept at making squiggly lines on a sheet of paper, but can it play Beethoven or manage the tricky fingerings of a Hindemith sonata? On a keyboard (piano or computer), they each match the other for adroitness.

When I’m working a project, which hand always gets injured? Not the left hand, despite being the one (literally) doing the heavy lifting. (Exception to this rule: when cooking, the left is always the injured party, but that’s only because the right hand is the one holding the knife.)

While my left hand cannot throw worth a damn, it can catch like a boss; throw me a baseball, a Frisbee, an apple, or a set of car keys, and my right hand will fumble it, bobble it, mistime the grip, while my left hand will bring it home every time.

My left hand is my support, my brace, my counter-balance. It is the lifter of sacks and the grabber of railings. It is dependable, fearless, powerful, perseverant, uncomplaining. Above all, it is modest, content to let its partner take the glory; it seeks neither praise nor the limelight.

So, let us raise a glass with and to our non-dominant hands. Let us recognize that it is the disparity between right and left that creates their synergistic whole, a partnership that has conquered the world. Let us admit that our non-dominant hands are as important, in their way, as their mirror images.

It is their differences that make them strong.

As with many things.


I Do Not Believe

I do not believe

. . . that all cops are bastards

. . . that all pharmacists want us sick

. . . that all lawyers are heartless

. . . that all Republicans are stupid

. . . that all Democrats are socialists

. . . that all conservatives are evil

. . . that all progressives are anarchists

. . . that all Blacks are criminals

. . . that all Whites are racists

. . . that all Arabs are terrorists

. . . that all Hispanics are gangsters

. . . that all men are pigs

. . . that all women are bitches

The world is greyer than this

Much, much greyer than this

On these points

And a million other ways

Thinking so



Cicada Song

You are tired 

Your heart 
wrung out 
lies limp 

Your mind 
fuzzed by events 
shackled by twin weights 
   of isolation 
   of jailed desires 
is rendered senseless 

The parade of days 
a monotony 
   of toil 
   of grief 
   of sameness 

The calendar 
arbitrary divisor of time 
paints illusions 
   of separation 
   of change 
where none truly exist 

New year! 
Flip the page! 
It’s supposed to be different! 

Yet, it isn’t 

It’s the same 

But step back 

Look beyond 
   your home 
   your street 
   your life 

The world spins quickly 
and is slow to move 
but like a tide in flood 
it does change 

Is changing

And soon 
like cicadas 
after years-long entombment 
we will emerge 
to breathe the windborne breeze 
to see the rising sun 
to sing in our multitudes 
   of love 
   of life 
   of our many futures 

Our hearts will be renewed 
our minds refreshed 
our lives rejoined 

Be patient 
Be calm 
Be hopeful 

Practice your song


Natalia and Jess

Natalia has been with me for over forty-five years; Jess, over fifty.

Natalia and Jess have been my constant companions. They have accompanied me on journeys around the country and to foreign lands, accruing enough miles to circumnavigate the globe, twice. They’ve been there for every important event of my adult life. When I have needed them, in every instance, they have performed to the best of their ability.

I love them both dearly, and I want nothing for them but the best and fullest that life can offer.

Which is why it’s time for them to go.

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