My advice to poets:
Write poetry for yourself. The only person in the end that you need to impress is you. Write to sparkle but not blind, describe what we can't see in a way only you can.
Dermochelys coriacea: plight of the leatherback turtle
Only a tidal invitation from the moon
can induce the beach walk of a fugitive dinosaur.
Like a rare excursion for an aging actress
a post- Cretaceous grandmother magically appears.
But she is a death-row inmate, her nests hatch condos,
her teens are bycatch for a $3.99 fried shrimp platter,
and we Homo sapiens are settling a Darwinian score.
Shedding tears she thrusts her carcass to the Pacific
a final curtain to a million-year-old act.
As the moon careens skyward off her unarmored shell
it is a distress signal
to us kings of a lonely kingdom.
People of the Forest
Among the reforested mango trees,
beneath the equatorial sun rays,
a paradise exists in waiting.
It waits for sanity to emerge
from palm oil plantations,
from corruption and exportation.
In the storehouse of life
there exists our future.
In the prospect of hope
there exists our will.
On the islands of Samboja
deep within Borneo
survives a reticent Robinson Crusoe.
Paprika dusted limbs
glide along a man-made canopy
high atop the trapeze wires
Trading species for teak,
bargaining lives for oil,
carving up a rainforest
is like shortening life’s racetrack.
I am too genetically matched
to the subjects I photograph
to not notice
in the mirror at Samboja Lodge,
my orangutan shadow.
We bestowed upon them the Dawes Act,
and we dare to use the phrase “Indian giver."
Sequestering Natives -a form of treatment
known to gray wolves and grizzly bears.
Plains warriors resigned to plows, hoes and spades,
counting seed not coup,
watching the exodus of the buffalo
by the lights of the Union Pacific.
We sheared the bangs of their children in Carlisle
so they could look like their conquerors.
We banned their Sun Dance to save them from hell.
Alcoholism, greed, disease, poverty and suicide,
we’ve taught them enough, I think.
But I want to ride breechcloth on bareback, shirtless and sun-drenched
ranging boundless across the unmilked bosom of the Prairie.
I want to dance beneath virgin skies unsolicited by city lights,
dwell in nomadic villages that leave no footprint
on land that has no price.
Be quenched by rivers yet to run red.
Who will teach me?
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) – Illinois Gov. George Ryan Friday pardoned four inmates awaiting execution and is expected to commute the sentences of others on death row Saturday. CNN, January 14, 2003.
Black convicts in the Land of Lincoln no longer accept free injections,
their genetic chain letters have been decoded and delivered.
Prime rib and Pavulon are no longer on the prison menu.
Incarceration is more like slavery than slavery to these descendants,
detached from society by street drugs, hand guns, and stereotype.
But modern science has resuscitated their hopes, isolated racism from DNA.
Freed at last, freed at last, freed at last.
Buds of baby blue
paint pictures along
my fractured stone fence.
One of Ronnie,
Mom’s orphaned cousin,
huddling aside a red barn wall,
clinging to family like
fresh New York snowflakes,
with a Black Velvet Float in hand,
strong like the cancer
melting him away at Christmas.
In crooked paths,
the ones he followed
his short life,
he rises in my garden.
Recalling Cat Stevens
Wednesday September 22, 2004
A passenger plane carrying singer Cat Stevens to Washington was diverted to another city 600 miles away yesterday so the musician could be escorted off the flight by FBI agents and sent back to Britain. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the singer, who converted to Islam was denied access to the US "on national security grounds".
Heavy metal struck the first deadly beat on September 11.
The home crowd squawked like proud hens on broken eggs.
Introducing new music to a shaken audience,
panic begot sense with duct tape, plastic sheeting, and color-coding.
With the wisdom of Chicken Little,
quintets became patrols; melodies became sirens;
fear became the hip-hop of a dove's bad rap.
Morning was broken, as was the night.
Bullets can’t be notes, can never lead to a chorus.
Security wands only beep; shoe-less travelers don’t dance.
Yusuf Islam, The Man for Peace 2004,
returned to sender, aboard the fading Peace Train.
Lessons from the Soccer Match
The quest for sportsmanship is an interminable track to grace-
an opening to see in others what we lack in ourselves.
We have come to be- in fear of exposure, emotion, and weakness
but truth is rescued in an instant from boys, whose tears fall free,
arranged in a circle after losing the championship on a penalty kick.
Our inspiration has become artificial, digital, cast from alien souls,
sidewinders of faith and friendship, we are unable to rise from a glancing glance.
We lack courage when we don’t extend ourselves, seek others.
They are still whole, not yet compressed by life,
fresh, unable to accept defeat, prostrate on the turf.
We worship heroes lacking credentials and color, biding time
for a Walmart reply to a complex question of conscience,
a retardation of responsibility, commitment, concern.
Nine-year-olds cannot know this, feel only the moment,
and the steady arms of a guardian, parent or big brother.
Our age is sequentially marked by failings and wisdom,
and our reflection is angrier than it is supposed to be,
catalyzed by shaky knees, decaying bank accounts, and blood tests.
Yet today young men ripe with letdown, loyalty and grass stains,
rouse us armchair parents to get off the bench and participate again.
VAN GOGH AT ARLES
Plotting for spring
the tall sun
as heavy lashes,
and a beginning-
his arrival in bloom.
For eternity suggests
in yellow chairs.
prophecy to defeat
like lost love
unwilling to know.
that the tall sun peaks
you slip from us
and they make it
with the first winter
what you gave us
proud brothers in gold
in fiery stalks.
We’re spiking the brick walls
upon which he once perched,
boarding up windows,
patrolling our parks.
Boys wielding toy rifles,
waging war on computers
are signs of a great fall.
His innocence is splintered
like joint custody and teens.
While we await the king’s horses,
and all the king’s men,
I’ll reintroduce myself,
and my sons to him
And begin the process
of putting things back