In Plato’s Cave

I’m sitting looking out of Plato’s cave.

Instead of watching shadows on a wall,

I watch the people passing by the glass

in T-shirts, shorts, and sandals while they eat

gelatos. They’re distorted by the glass,

and I can’t tell if I am watching pain

or laughter, arrogance or loneliness.

I know that what I’m seeing isn’t real.

It’s what I hope or wish was real. It is

imagination working over time.

Perhaps I’ll see more clearly in the night

when there are no distortions caused by light

reflecting off of this distorted glass

that keeps me separated from the world.

Keeping a Journal

There is a benefit to writing down

your thoughts. They keep you humble. You may think

your mind is interesting, full of thoughts,

wide ranging, and inclusive, that it’s great.

But with a journal, even if you fool

the world you’ll see the writer is a fool.

Instead of fireworks exploding, look,

there is a rather simple, plodding man

inhabiting a carousel who thinks

his world is multifaceted because

the carousel revolves. A journal shows

the fallacy, the limits of your mind.

The carousel you’re riding’s stuck in place

and everything you’ve thought you’ve thought before.

Scroll the pages and your coruscating

brilliance dims, with repetition dies.

You’ll find your mind’s a treadmill, stuck in place.

No Way Jose

There really isn’t any other way

to say no way Jose. You have to say

no way Jose. And circumlocutions

like: “Respectfully I find I disagree.’

or “You can shove it where the sun don’t shine.”

will get the denotative meaning right

while screwing up the meaning all to hell.

“This comes as a complete surprise to me.”

is still another way you might convey

the meanng of the phrase, “No way Jose.”

But something still is missing, isn’t it.

Or how about the following: “I think

my usually accurate, correct,

and trusted paragon of truth that you

have erred. Your supposition’s wrong.”

You think? Not even close. No way Jose!

In Response to a Rather Snarky Comment

“A pint’s a pound the world around” of course.

It’s something everybody knows is true.

Except it’s false. It isn’t true at all.

You’ve heard about the cookie and the mouse

and unintended consequences? Well,

I am a waffle maker. (Just hold on.

There is a point to this. I promise you

there’s one.) and have a mill to grind my wheat

so I am really using whole wheat flour

unlike the partial whole wheat flour you buy

that only has the endosperm and bran.

The point is when I grind a pint of wheat

the pint of the flour that results weights less

because you get three cups of flour when you

grind up a pint of wheat. And if you weigh

them notice, neither one will weigh a pound.

You’ll only get a pound when measuring

a pint of water. Measure olive oil

or automotive oil, new and used.

Or measure out a pint of rocks and brains,

and tell me once again a pint’s a pound.

Good Friends

So, I was talking just the other day

about the use of meter. Yes, I know

the subject’s dull. It’s sleep inducing, but

my friend pretended interest anyway.

I said it’s easier, at least it is

for me, to write a poem in blank verse.

The structure helps to organize my thoughts.

And here is where the mud got really thick.

I asked, “Do you know the Wordsworth sonnet

‘Nun’s fret not in their convent’s narrow room’”?

It isn’t like the beat’s a metronome.

Just listen to the line. The meter’s screwed.

It doesn’t go da Dum, da Dum da Dum.

Instead it starts out Dum! Dum! Dum! and then

it stutters da da. Only at the end

is there a beat, a heart beat to the line.

This poem is about rigidity and not

itself as rigid as you might expect.

And like the content’s narrow room there is

a flexibility to metered lines.

They can be stretched, expanded, shrunk

to fit imagination’s needs and wants.

Just scan Bishop’s villanelle “One Art”

and watch the pattern fall apart each time

the speaker in the poem falls apart.

You see what happens when I’m counting beans?

I’m slogging in the mud through the head-high weeds.

And people, when they see me, turn away

pretending I’m not there so that they wont

be once again subjected to a diatribe

on all the metrical advantages

of formal poetry. The wonder is

there still are friends who will put up with me

when I begin to blather on about

the meter, form, and structure of a poem.

A Grove of Trees

I ate the kumquats and the clementines

and saved the seeds instead of throwing them

away. I’d hoped I’d get a couple trees.

Instead, from forty-seven seeds, I now

have forty-seven trees. I know. I know

the arguments. The fruit the trees produce

will not be any good, and even if

it is I’m still an idiot because

I will be in my eighties or be dead

before my seedlings give me any fruit.

And I agree. They’re right of course, and wrong.

My little three-inch trees are blossoming

already and there isn’t any need

to wait for years before the fruit is ripe.

It’s ripe right now. I eat a kumquat,

It’s orange and warm and glowing in the sun.

The juice and pulp are bitter, tart; and eat

a clementine and throw away the seeds

instead of saving them and planting them.

I have my trees already. I don’t need

to grow another grove of citrus. Now

I’m ten again and once again I’ve lost

the sense of time and space while I explore.

The world is green with mud, and elephants

are hiding in the weeds, and dinosaurs

are waiting for me right behind a tree.


And now for something almost completely different that is almost entirely the same:




The fragmentary line has yet to end.

I can’t imagine anyone would care.

Heroic nemeses in aspic canned.

Conglomerating goulash in a can.

Some ghoulish goldfish on a platter. Gold.

Cheap cheesy crackers sanding in a row.

Collapsing, coruscating creatures clap.

Clap trap. Clickety clack. The elephant

(There always has to be an elephant.)

is elemental. Quarks and anti-quarks

are fashionistas in a cheese fondue.

Urdu? Dueling sycophants in grosgrain.

Explain. A grain train rattles. Cattle call.

The snippets, the rejected thoughts and lines

are regulated, relegated, mined.