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Ways of Aging

Early next year I will celebrate my 68th birthday.

Life is certainly beginning to look different as I approach the fine wine age.

One way this manifests is more people around me are dying. The 91 year old mothers of two of my dearest friends just died. In the same week.

Another way is that some things that I used to pay no mind now aggravate me.

Here are a couple of recent poems about this.

Happy holidaze…

12 strings for nona

i first met her
at a reunion
of a large 
family
i was not a 
member of yet

a chaotic gathering
that had a freshness
combined with 
an awkward 
familiarity

at kim’s invitation
i brought my guitar

got to jam with
her brother buffy

sometimes we played
together
sometimes alone
sometimes nona joined in
for a verse or two

she was a 
musical 
person
with a small
beautiful 
singing voice

knew a bunch of tunes
from the songbook
and some country classics

i once heard
kim’s sister jo
accompany her
on the piano

her children
called her mother

she had a 
few husbands
one that she
married twice

she raised 
horses
rode them
well into

her seventies

she once had a job
writing about them
in a magazine

she had a few
religions too

ended up a loyal
christian scientist

even worked for
the church
a few times

she wanted to
end her days
at the church’s
rolling estate
outside boston

she made it 

to her room 
when she was 
ninety one

the clan
gathered

daughter jo came
from pennsylvania

son buffy
from maine
with his daughter
jody

daughter duffy
all the way from
california

granddaughter
erika 
from florida
with husband wayne

world traveler
grandson josh
dropped by for lunch

i came with kim
from new york
got to play
buffy’s brand new
12-string guitar

weeks later
she called all
her children
and left them 
the same voicemail

with labored breath 
she said i’m fine
just going to sleep
for a couple of days

those that could get there
came the next weekend

kim and jo spent
friday evening
and saturday 
with her

buffy 
played for her
on sunday
afternoon

she died that night
her last words were
i love the sound
of a 12-string
guitar

apocalypse now, 2019

we want to communicate 
our fears of being lost 
scared scarred poor 
unloved forgotten 
alone different 
and a human being 
in this big concrete ATM 
we call New York
message written on the side of a wooden Manhattan newsstand


Ii ride the uptown bus
for the first time
in months

same dilapidated 
vehicle
now equipped 
with an incessant
sound system
blaring information 
about the next stops
on the route
at a volume
set to inundate 
consciousness 

i peer thru this
sonic barrage
and count 
the empty storefronts
that line
amsterdam avenue

it’s like i’m trapped
in a low rent version 
of one of those 
futuristic movies
where the machines 
have taken over

II

the moon is
just another
street lamp
as i look out
my window
on a night
in early winter

sometimes it seems
we live in a world
where only the 
seasons change

and even that 
may go away
soon

III

i never thought
we’d see the day
when they paid farmers
not to grow weed
to improve
the industry’s
stock price

or that hooch
would go from
boutique to
homogenization
in the vape
of an eye

or that you
couldn’t avoid
a contact high
while walking 
on the street

or that
hemp products
would be available
in every
drugstore

IV

colonies of
former felons
populate 
street corners
posing for
iPhone photos

while tourists
wander the
avenues
consulting
their apps
and reading texts

V

sting once sang
one world is enough
for all of us

well here
it is

a murky mix
of third world
and first world
rolling in 
on steroids 
antidepressants and 
methamphetamine
with a dash
of fentanyl

i wish us
luck

The Revolutionary Ensemble

random thoughts on hearing
a recording of their last concert
14 years after it was performed

I

they were still great
still working their magic
visiting strange and wonderful places 

it brought back the 
sonic somatic and spiritual 
experience that was 
the Revolutionary Ensemble
in the 1970s

you’re riding along 
as they get deeper and deeper 
into a section
then you realize
they’ve taken the music 
somewhere else
and it’s like
how long have we been here?

Continue reading “The Revolutionary Ensemble”