Paco – Biarritz


Across the Charente | the gray Opel follows the coastline to the Spanish frontier, San Sebastián | Paco remembers those days gray, his memories in black and white—photos | it is not unusual.

The family on holiday, driving through France, across Spain and Monte Carlo along the way | stop to visit Rosin | on the outskirts of Biarritz  ::Rosin was beautiful, a pale flower, stricken with infantile paralysis, immobile | the doctors said she was blind | but the mother swore she saw the child’s eyes follow her around the room, sitting comatose in a wheelchair | Rosin reminded Paco of a sad rag doll.

At the spa, the huge swimming pool for rehabilitation | bottom painted blue, but reflects the sky a monochrome Ansel Adams | in a young mind (again the black and white | photos kept in family albums) | a great sky full of clouds | all the way to horizon.

High on the slope of sparse grass, a plain | white cinder block pool house, chain link fence keeps out unwanted guests | a soda pop machine, dull red, oxidized by the sun, marked with familiar white letters, Coca-Cola | same green bottles, same dark liquid | quickly forgotten sadness and drink in the sun with Joaquin and Arabella | wait for the parents, their interview with hospital staff.

Return home trip stop at festival | drive through Bordeaux, catch the closing act | fireworks in the sky | a face illuminated in sparklers, flashed high in the air | “the Father of their country”—(Joaquin explains to the baffled boy) | sees George Washington on an electric dollar bill floating, in the French carnival sky.

::Rosin died at the age of seven | in the care of aunt Celeste | the Bronx, cold winter of 1957 | the family on transfer to the base at Newport News | Paco remembers, the mother spoke to her sister in New York | hung up, held his hand as they walked from the phone booth | across unpaved red-dirt Virginia, a country store parking lot | “Rosin murio” she moaned | inside the car she started to cry | they all cried.


A Rooster Trilogy – Morning’s Chanticleer

Morning’s Chanticleer

in a narcoleptic moment of reflection ~ a dirge


As the sun pushes the grey mists of morning across the sands. currents rush into the houses. down | windows accept an invasion. brisk | thickets and blankets of pillows and light. dream catchers | apparitions bleed into twilight. a shadow lingers past the night. 

To touch the grey. I reach | to clasp the mist. I feel | to hear the whisper. I strain | energized by sadness. tears of waking disappear the night | a figure blocked by sunlight. a voice from the stairs, a face in the clouds | wisps of morning obscure the marsh. there! in the sunlight—you vanish. 

Please don’t shake me from these slumbers. delve in shallow breath | let me rest in my wanting. sleep | for you have beat me long enough. let go | I never asked for this. the tortured memories | my life waits for endless roads. 

::The ocean is a wall that blocks the current. the sun explodes the night. long but the days are shorter | a life deferred is a life lost. 

Was I your servant or your muse? deadlocked | a flight to the Seahorse Nebula on Orion’s back. a walk on deserts with Don Juan—peyote visions | mescal. delirium tremens | pink elephants. ahor | a flashback to those good ol’ times! taste the cotton mouth. spittle washed down with Orange Crush. 

::Into the sun. Icarus mourned but not forgotten. burnt—all future flights canceled until further notice, damn! I missed that plane. the Jefferson | but gained a button for my panic. 

Aged men on limestone walls. frescoes | they look with wonder. admonish the lame | war was never meant memorial. eyes ravaged by sight | shadows hide the pain. veneers | tears hide the anguish. cheers! | we drank to the living and smote the dead! of this pain there is no end | repeat: of this pain there is no end | only the vapor of fading lamplight. 

Prisoners grapple with bars. clutching | “Any day now…” they cling to the words of a vagabond. a child’s cry | a thief robs the house but leaves the night-light. on | a couch stolen. a sleep disturbed | empty pockets haunt the evening. derelict drifters and wanton wolves | wharf rats scuttle the harbor. hungry. 

::Mt. Shasta is a cold and lonely bitch in winter. trains spot run | it soars above the tree line. frozen—sun mottled | wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow. ka-doodle-doo! | or was it you that I heard? Hallucinations sneak past the gates. 

::A wise man once shared his dreams. said 

I can’t even think
to remember,
tho’ I know it
was something
quite clear. 

did I hear your voice
on the mountain that day,
or morning’s chanticleer? 

I know how easy
dreams are broken
when out of thin air
they appear. 



Originally published on: Dec 9, 2017 

A Rooster Trilogy – Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes


Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes


eyes—stare down corridors; blank at walls | linoleum tile and sterile góndolas; black wheels, rubber and steel | attendants in white—concise therapists; probe density | evolve solutions, misconceptions; life is a cherry, hard pits and sour

you roll the dice, draw lonely highways; search night’s crooked roads | creep with silent tires on gravel; lakeside—moon bright overhead | stars fall; winter follows | life is a carnival; bright lights and sorrow | magazine covers and bubble gum wrappers; idol talk and a 50 cent rapper | children play dress up; line up at school | lightning and thunder; clap  ::an omen; just before you collapse | leaves you shaken—eating disordered; flaking skin like a moth in the flame | the sacred cows and the sacred vows spoken | dreams goals and values; broken | swear words promises, spit in rage—bridges burned; freedoms chosen

::tho’ life doesn’t run like the wind; it takes a miracle to win | delusion and grand devices don’t matter; you give up on one and wait for the latter | stand at the threshold; desperate and worn | stare at disaster in a garden of thorns | linen bed sheets; newspapers torn | from bums in the alley you swore to protect | social workers and bachelorettes—community college, nursing degrees; tuition paid by the blood of your sweat | “Doc” Martens, Sambas and cigarettes

is it real or is it fake? the dealer on the corner won’t negotiate | cars drive by and curbs draw lines | street cars trolley to the end of the line | your room with a view, your isolate—fortress of solitude; heaven’s gate

::that crown of thorns becomes you; emptiness surrounds you | the sound and the fury of midnight’s crash; it’s only the garbage men picking up trash | the rooster crows and daylight reckons; the morning sun dries the clothes you slept in | dreams like plastic melt in the sun; you’ve climbed the ladder to the top of the rung | your rat race; run

the seasons come and go with the years; time drifts by like boats from the pier | paper trails fall from the sky; conspiracy theories drop like dimes | and all that noise about freedom’s chimes; rings hollow, like a bootlegged rhyme | the seasons come; the seasons go | the whistle and hum of the tightening rope  ::don’t it all just go to show?

Originally published on: Dec 23, 2017

A Rooster Trilogy – Flowers of Dawn

Flowers of Dawn


the sun rises; blurred and wrinkled | sky the color of pink; blood | the whirring spin of a circular saw; grinds its path on plank | Bang! Bang! nuclear splashdown; alcohol pools wave headaches on | music fills the air; the sound of harps | an angelic chorale sings heavenly music—Ave, Maria! | choking throat and dumb rattle of death; a harsh uptake; wake-up!

::a big yellow moon rises over the rooftops; striking | awe in silence; blue sky dark and twinkling stars | meld into street light; alleyways cluttered with wine bottles; clink | a cat howls in summer heat; rushing water washes away the smeared light | bleary-eyed and broken, I stumble among dust bins and the sediments of the living; crowned | with a golden halo of spirits; God, and Whisky—the One, and the Same | dusty showers of moonbeams glitter | a fedora of the night; a cap of dawn—a screw

Crow! Crow! a rooster crows | in this city he’s been strangled; by the roar of the automobile; the rush of the hour | traffic and a cop in uniform; drags cars through the crossroads; my mind | the Altiplano; the drifter’s horse and the gunslinger | Clint Eastwood on L-dopa brought to an awakened stutter; angst | plays cat’s-cradle; twisted fingers; angry gut | a dog’s hair to bite you; a pint of Schnapps; a fifth of Port | cold rinse and spin dry

a flower | rotted; ready to die
waiting on Euphoria; the downhill slide | the Eternal groan—
and that dark slow suicide   ::but it’s OK
I’m doing alright

Originally published on: Dec 26, 2017

Gather Wood

Gather Wood

(A Dirge)

go gather wood for your fires boys; gather wood to burn | don’t pick wood that’s wet or rotten, or it will not burn  ::the cherry trees stand withered the orchards bare and dry | the grass parched and dying from a scourge sent from the sky

the leaves eaten by the sun; the water line is clear | the lake is showing rooftops of a town once disappeared  ::it rains and rains for days on end; so the fires burn out | the sun shines from the sky; suddenly it’s a drought

there’s flooding in the valley, chaos in the hills | the roads washed out by the creek that once ran deep and still | the river swollen to the banks, the farmlands turned to swamp | the city center’s four feet deep of a rage that just won’t stop

the government is sending troops and sandbags by the score, but the angry skies won’t listen; tomorrow—another storm | the national guard stands ready with its soldiers and their guns | but the thunder’s roll is louder; the battle has begun

Written during The Southern California Wildfires and The Great Mississippi and Missouri Rivers Flood of 1993


Cavignac, France

Cavignac, France

the din of the rain; the shear of cars as they cut past on wet streets | like my early years in Cavignac, France

Renault’s and Citroen’s painted soft shades of gray | sky-blue windows; tinted | and wipers that
from the top of windshields | like hands wiping tears from their eyes

why did I feel so melancholy then? I was no more than four  ::I still feel that weariness as I drive down rain-swept streets today | I watch passersby in felt fedoras; huddled underneath umbrellas

but, wait! the nostalgic twinge of a jazz number whispers on the radio | the cymbals—cars whizzing by | the rat-tat-tat of the drums—the rain on the roof | it brings me back there, to Cavignac

Originally published Mar 17, 2010

New York Blues


New York Blues

thoughts like empty waves at trains in the bleary morning wake up | daily commute of metal wheeled coffins tightly grasped by pall bearers—conductors | engineers who seek the high road to Mecca, Freedom’s Tower; and points South in New York | the LIRR sinks to the depth of the burgeoning skyline; traces ghost lines of antiquity | to hug the rails of a fat dollar bill and a hungry New York Times

later; in the City | after hours barroom handshakes beneath dark doorways; up stairs of the delicate essence of a Broadway mesmerized; the rhythmic rumba of mermaids, jungle kings; a two-faced opera star | the Times Square great white wail revival of Pinocchio—in the place where Debbie once did Dallas

relentless wheels turn | street merchants spot travel-weary marks, their craving heightened by jet lag; Air Bus itineraries | hotel check-in no sooner than 2 then wait in Central Park | buy frankfurters under yellow and blue Sabrett umbrellas | say hello to America’s first “black” President; Clinton; Harlem | he played saxophone and pandered to the poor; broke the ice for the real thing yet to come

stand on tenement streets and watch homeless choke on squalor and urban blight | the rattle and mayhem of inner city life; an American era of loss | immigrant workers off the desecrated lands of Uncle Sam’s broken promises | soldiers, war-torn and weary; crushing opiates strained through cotton wads, bottle caps and dirty syringes | the last souls of a lost generation

who wait for economic collapse | that all men may one day be equal to the greed of Wall Street and the indigo shirted night  ::neon billboards radiate high above Yellow Cab tail lights | rain smeared streets reflect pastiche on sheet glass storefront windows | as mom and dad sit in coffee shops and cafeterias waiting—for the USA—ABCCBS—and NBC fall lineup.

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