A Pan of Fudge

I live where I can see the Milky Way,

And lived when that was all there was to see.

The universe was one big galaxy

And not a hundred billion trillion points

Connected each to each haphazardly

Like bubbles in an insubstantial froth.

When making fudge it’s critical to watch

The bubbles stitch themselves together in

Their boiling, ever changing, roiling mess

Until a pattern forms that says the fudge

Has reached the proper temperature to set

And must be taken from the heat to cool.

The universe is in a cooling stage.

And will the product turn out perfectly

Or will the watcher find it cooked too long;

Is ruined, burnt, and must be thrown away?

April’s Fool

A curious dichotomy exists.

I wake again, but do I wake for spring

Or is it winter still? And am I full

Of dreams, or am I starving, ravenous?

Have the flowers of spring arrived, tra la,

Or is the salt enervated slush still here

To poison hopes? I wonder if the world

Is wakening or is it sleeping still?

And is it time to make a pilgrimage

Or time to huddle in my den again?

And will I find the man who sells balloons

To children in the park, or will I find

The lilacs breeding death—the perfumed air

Funereal instead of bringing joy?

And is the answer neither either or

But yes?

ArtFest 2014

Well, wish me luck. Tomorrow I will be

At ArtFest. It is at the downtown park

In Paso Robles. If you come you’ll see

Me giving interactive demonstrations

On carving and designing wood block prints

To tens of thousands. (I exaggerate

Of course.) There might be some who come to see

The sixty artists and their art. I’ve got

The patter down. I think.

“Come one and all!

Discover for yourself the pleasure you

Can find in carving wood. Just step right up

And soon, you’ll be amazed what you can do.

The greatest printers in the world will come

To you for inspiration and to learn

What they’ve been doing wrong. And all you need

To spend is thirty minutes. Half an hour.

And surely you can take this little time

To master everything you need to know

About the art of carving, and design,

And inking up the block and pulling prints.”


It might be fortunate that where I’m at

Is off the beaten path, and while the show

Is going on I will be lucky if

Occasionally someone happens by.

And even luckier if all they want

To know is where the porta-potties are.

Be Still My Heart

I used to ruin Shakespeare for my kids.

You know the one I had to have them read—

The one about a girl my student’s age

Who falls for Romeo, an older man

Of sixteen years. I’d ask my freshman girls,

“How many of you think you’re old enough

to fall in love and marry? You’re the age

that Juliet was when she fell in love,

and married, and was dead within a week.

And gentlemen, in two more years will you

Be old, mature enough to take a wife?

Be willing to support a kid, leave school,

And work a forty-hour week and then

A second job while all your friends are here,

Are going out for sports, or at the beach

While you are at your nothing, dead-end jobs?

So here’s the plot: mature sophisticate

(that’s Romeo) is certain he’s in love

with Rosalind. With who? You heard it right.

He’ll die without the love of Rosalind.

He’s never met a girl like Rosalind

(Be still my heart!) until he notices,

across a crowded room, fair Juliet;

and then he says that Rosalind’s a dog,

and Juliet’s the only one for him.

You know the rest. Within a week they’re dead.

So, now you know the plot, let’s read the play.

Organic Gardening

Well, yesterday was spent in pulling weeds,

And digging weeds, and getting rid or rocks.

And why? So I can grow organically

Some stupid plants who’d die without my help;

Without the extra fertilizer, care,

And water that they need to live and grow.

The fertilizer is organic, so

Don’t tell me that I am a hypocrite

For saying I’m organic. Well, I am.

It isn’t cheating. You would have to be

A nut, a leftist nutcase if you thought

It was. I mean, come on. Just read the bag.

It says it is organic on the bag.

“Our freshly aged manure balanced by

the perfect ratio of N.P.K.

to make your plants the envy of your friends.”

And next, I guess, you will be telling me

The little Roundup that I use to kill

The stubborn weeds . . . I know. I know.

It’s not organic either. Well it is.

It says right here it will degrade. So there.

Don’t say I’m not organic, ‘cause I am.

Just look at all the weeds I pulled by hand.

You’re Not? I Am?

I heard again the other night the phrase,

“I’m not a racist . . . but.”

I wonder why

they think I will agree with them when they

decide to point their big fat buts at me

as if their breaking wind’s a pleasant smell

I should appreciate; that they’ll convince

Me just how fair and balanced they can be

If only they will say the magic words:

“I’m not a racist.



Just saying that I’m not has made it so.”


It is a most compelling argument

But still, I wonder if the smell would be

The same if I would label garlic rose,

Or said that vinegar was peppermint.

If saying it will make it so, then I

Am rich and handsome, young and very wise.

Lazy Bums

Today I visited with Robert Frost,

But not the Robert Frost of Kennedy’s

Inaugural, and not the piss and fire

Poet who worried, when he heard that Carl

Sandburg had died, if he was number one

At last. The Bob I met with still was young

And only known in Derry. He’s the one

The neighbors knew as lazy—sitting on

His porch when there was hay to cut and bale;

A lazy bum who’d rather sit and dream

And waste his time with words than get to work.

I listened to the wind and whippoorwills.

He hadn’t anything to say to me,

So just like him I sat, a lazy bum

Enjoying doing nothing in the sun.