When I was little,
In the latter part of summer,
My dad’s best friend
And his wife
Would bring me to the fair.
All the way to Syracuse –
More than an hour’s drive west –
And we’d stop for breakfast at IHOP on the way.

We’d see the pigs
And the fish
And the colorful chickens.
We’d check out the vendors,
And I’d go home with a balsa wood airplane,
After a day of chicken wings
And butter sculptures,
The ring toss and the Tilt-a-Whirl.

But the very best part –
The hub of that glittering Ferris wheel –
Was the Colosseum.
On the way in,
We’d pass through the barns
And see the teenagers lounging,
Or grooming their beautiful beasts:
Preparing them for battle.
We’d get some popcorn
And find our seats high up in the stands
And we’d watch the horses and riders compete.
And I have to tell you, brother…
I hope you’ll hear me, sister…
It was glorious.

And also?

I had no clue what on God’s tramped-dirt earth I was watching.

Still don’t.
I don’t know from horses,
Even though I went and married a horse girl.
I know they were gorgeous.
And I know that rider and mount were both
So, so good.
And I know that year after year in my childhood,
Ron and Deb and I entered into that vast, echoing space,
And we watched them run,
And jump over stuff,
And step precisely

And it was the best part of the best days of those superlative years.
But I had no idea what I was watching.
Still don’t.

Today I was thinking:
Even the people I love,
And know most deeply,
Have a Colosseum inside them –
A cavernous space
Erected around
A lovely, complicated dance
Which I will never understand.

Sometimes I feel an urge
To bring to these spaces
My small and alien ideas
Of order
And right
And sense…

And what the hell is my problem?

I need to sit down in the high-up stands,
Munch some popcorn,
Take in (if i can) the heart-piercing beauty in front of me,
And shut up.


In the middle of the eighth day
Of her quest
The princess
For the first time
Encountered something that gave her pause

She’d breezed right past the three-eyed ogres
(Realizing that their heightened depth perception
Was a weakness in fact
If you just knew how to exploit it)

And the baby leviathan was easily diverted
By the offering of an eight-foot length
Of strawberry licorice
And a handful of Girl Scout cookies

Needless to say the piranha pixies
Were no challenge at all

But on the eighth day
The princess was faced
By her nemesis
(Or a vision of her nemesis, at least)

It was herself
Of course it was
Who else could it be?

In the vision, she was just a young girl
Sitting in her living room
The life of a regular child
Who was just
Who was only

The princess paused
And thought about it
For almost an hour
Before concluding
(Of course)
That that was ridiculous
And she’d better get moving
This quest wasn’t gonna complete itself


Ever westward toward the cliffs
The grieving Bhean Fíona raced
Nearly blinded by her tears
Yet with her Elven grace

She cursed the eyes of English Men
Who came in greed, dispensing woe
Who burned the Faerie village down
And laid her Faerghal low

Fíona reached the precipice
She leapt – and beauty caught her eye
She could not bear to live, but now
She could not bear to die

The Elven Lady’s wail rang out
And it was heard throughout the land
It pierced the heart of Irish lad
And soul of English Man

The loveliness of her last view
Was mingled with her anguished throes
The moment Bhean Fíona died
The fearful Bhean Sídhe rose


my jaw pretty near hit my chest
as i gawked helplessly
at the gorgeous, terrible scene
outside my window

i always knew
it was only a matter of time
but yet…
but now…
they’d done it
they’d really done it

those bastards

apollo, amun-ra
amaterasu and lugh
all them old damned sun gods

quietly I wept
as the first orange flames of sunset
began greedily to lick
at the bright, cool blue of day

and I knew
in just a few minutes
nothing would be left
except the cold dark ashes
of the night


in the middle
of the city
there’s a park
that no one goes to
even though
the chrome and concrete
press around
on every side

and the city
might oppress the soul
no one ever
places feet
within that park
to cut across
or rest or hide

and the park
contains a boulder
that is huge
and black and broken
and a tree grows
by the boulder
though it’s clear
that it’s long dead

and the roots
of that gray fossil
hide a hole
that’s small
but oh so deep
and you can listen
at that hole
or so my grandma said

and you can
hear the whispers
if you pass
along the edges
but my grandma
said that
only once
did someone go inside

it was 1957
when the young man
and listened
and returned alive
said grandma
it was just his soul
that died

The Boy Who Mentioned Flow: A Fable

Once there was a small village by a river. Most of the villagers were shepherds, making their living in the hills surrounding the town, but one young lad lived as a fisherman, spending his days by the river and supplying fish to the townsfolk. This boy was well-liked in the village. He was trustworthy and competent and thus earned their trust. He was friendly and thus earned their friendship. He valued harmony, and had harmonious relations with everyone. This was a boy who liked to get along and to see others get along, to “go with the flow,” so to speak, and everyone felt that anything left in his hands was bound to go smoothly, with little muss or fuss.

One day, at a town meeting, the townsfolk spent quite some time complaining about another young man, a shepherd, who had recently amused himself by leading the whole village on a wild goose chase to fend off nonexistent wolves who were supposedly threatening the young man’s flock. The fisher boy didn’t think much of either the prankster or the town’s reaction to him–just let it pass and move on, he thought. When they were finished venting, he mentioned casually, “By the way, the flow of the river is up this month. What with all the rain this spring, and the runoff from last winter, the water level’s pretty high.” The townsfolk greeted this news amiably, because they liked the fisher boy, and, as usual, he spoke as if everything was well and under control. “That’s nice!” they said. “Hope it’s good for the fish!” The fisher boy actually was a bit concerned about the increased flow, but he felt good that he had alerted the town, and since they didn’t seem too worried, he supposed he shouldn’t be, either.

A month later, at the town meeting, the villagers were once again stewing about the shepherd boy, who had pulled the same prank again. This time, they were contemplating some kind of reprisal, but the fisher boy suggested that the other lad had probably learned his lesson, and that they should let bygones be bygones. He also mentioned that the river’s flow had increased even more, since the rains had continued, and that he’d never seen it so high. “Wow, how about that?” replied the townsfolk. Coming from the fisher boy, this didn’t sound like anything to be alarmed about. Remarkable, maybe, but not alarming. The fisher boy himself had been more concerned than ever about it, but, well, he’d done his duty and informed them. Apparently they saw no reason for agitation, and he sure wasn’t going to rock the boat.

The next month, the town met in the middle of a thunderstorm of Biblical proportions. Despite the weather, the townsfolk’s spirits were up, because that joking shepherd had finally gotten what was coming to him, in their view: real wolves had attacked and, when the cynical villagers refused to come to his aid, had decimated his flock. The fisher boy again mentioned that the river was really, really high now. As they came out of the meeting hall, they were greeted, to their horror, by water rushing through the streets of the village! As a sheep floated by, baaing in terror, and the townsfolk began to run around shouting “Flood, flood!” and desperately attempting to salvage their possessions, the mayor grabbed the fisher boy by the arm. “Fisher boy, you work by the river every day! Didn’t you see this coming? Why didn’t you cry ‘flood’ and warn us?”

“But I did warn you!” replied the tearful fisher boy. “I’ve been warning you for months! You just didn’t listen!”

The Tale of Big Bunny and Morty Mouse

Big Bunny sat on a tree stump and looked out over the forest floor. He was happy. All of the animals of the forest knew him. They knew he was big and tough. They knew that they should stay out of his way, or he’d chase them and kick them with his strong hind feet.

Sally Squirrel ran by, carrying a nut to her home.

“Hey, Sally!” called Big Bunny, “give me that nut.” Big Bunny wasn’t really that fond of nuts, but he very much liked being Big. Sally took one look at Big Bunny and ran off as fast as she could, carrying her nut. Her family was hungry!

“Hey!” shouted Big Bunny, “you come back here!” Big leapt off the tree stump and hopped after Sally as fast as he could. Sally ran fast, but Big Bunny was faster. He knocked Sally over, and he started to kick at her with his big hind feet. “Here, you big bully!” Sally said, and ran away.

Big took the nut and tossed it into a stream. He didn’t really want it. He just liked being Big. Big Bunny hopped off down the woodland trail, humming a tune.

A little later, Big came upon Morty Mouse, nestled up in a cozy little nest he’d made and taking a nap. Big cuffed Morty in the side of the head. “Wake up, you!” said Big Bunny. “That’s a nice little nest you’ve got there. I’d like to have it for myself.”

“My little nest isn’t big enough for you, Big Bunny!” squeaked Morty Mouse. “I don’t care,” said Big Bunny. “I want it anyway.” “No!” said Morty. Big Bunny kicked Morty with his big hind foot, knocking him out of the nest. Morty went running off.

Big Bunny decided that Morty Mouse needed to be tought a lesson. And there was no point in staying here. He couldn’t fit in Morty’s little nest, anyway. So Big went hopping off after Morty at top speed.

Morty was a fast little mouse. He led Big Bunny on a wild chase! He led Big Bunny over hill and over Dale and over Chip. (“Hey! Watch it!” shouted Chip.) Morty led Big Bunny to a different part of the forest, where the trees were bigger.

Morty Mouse led Big Bunny right to the home of Wilma Wolf. Wilma heard the noise of the animals running quickly toward her home, and came outside to see what was the matter. Morty saw Wilma, and ran straight between her feet. Big Bunny was so excited by the chase that he didn’t see Wilma at first. When he did, he was too big to run between her feet like Morty did. Big Bunny ran “smack!” into Wilma Wolf.

“My, my!” said Wilma. “What a plump, juicy, Big Bunny we have here!” With that, Wilma Wolf ate Big Bunny right up.

Morty Mouse laughed and laughed.


since the start of Lent
(or so)
i’ve been meditating
10 minutes in the morning
before i leave for work
not every day of course

(some people seem to think
i’m a disciplined sort
of person
it’s adorable that you think that)

i rarely enter real stillness
for more than a few moments

i think i have
and then i realize
that that’s about
the 18th thought
to occur to me
within the past
30 seconds

so it goes

this morning
while i was trying to be still
the thought of this poem came to me
and it did not want to go

i told it to begone
and i thought it went
but look
here it is



in the story of my life
there are two friendships
that ended
not just grew apart
or divided by circumstance
(i have plenty of those on my record
i suppose everyone does)
no, these are friendships
that came
to an
with each party feeling
that the other had acted
in such a way
that the cost of continued relationship
would be much
too high
one thing that christians will say
is that things that have ended
can begin again
though if that were to happen
they would then be different
in ways we cannot know
i don’t know
if i still count
as a christian
but that is a thing
that i also
such things may be
but i couldn’t say
if ever they should