Category Archives: poetry

Prophet

The prophet came from Asia

Because they always do
And he was a he because

That’s pretty standard, too
So off you went to look for him

Because he would not look for your

You sought and you found him

In gardens of the orient

Sitting staring at nothing

And looking quite despondent

You asked him what was wrong
And he told you how his life went

“All revelations are much the same,

But I feel despair and presage
About the days after I’m gone

And the corruption of my message.

It’s the legacy of every prophet

Hence my saddened visage”

“But you, you are the only one

To show concern for my feelings

My kind are oft too depressed

To go about our appointed dealings

They never preach nor even speak
And hang themselves from their ceilings”

“Do you remember when we were young and funny,” he said
You confessed that you don’t
“Neither do I, but I still miss those days,
I can’t imagine a time when I won’t.”

You never told him your name
But he knows it just the same
You ask him what his own one is

But he refuses to tell you his

He says, “It’s a parable we’re in,

So history is something you can’t pin

To time or place or space or even name,

Which distract you from the flame”

“Of the messages from God to man

Which anyone could understand.
We could be then, we could be now
We could be in the future somehow”

“Are we in Jerusalem, Persia or Bombay?
It doesn’t matter, so I won’t say.”
And you recall you don’t recall
How you came to be here at all

“Some believers can only follow one

If my name is wrong, then they’ll be done

They’ll reject the words, reject them all
So nebulosity keeps them in my thrall”

And then he looked so sad and grey

You wonder why he gets that way
My words are heard just for one day
And then they always go astray

He asked, “Do you remember when this happened before,”
You confessed that you don’t
“Neither do I, but I miss those days,
I can’t imagine a time when I won’t.”

“The message,” he says, “always the same,

And I’m the one to guard the flame.

Let thoughts and words and deeds be good,

And put off wrath for brotherhood.”

“Protect the stranger in thy midst,
And don’t lash out when you are pissed
Take care of widows and orphans too
And don’t let the world pollute you”

“The blessed poor, heaven is theirs
The rich will have to use the stairs

Restore the peace among yourselves

And see the One in whom mercy dwells”

“There is no woman, there is no man,
Let all with ears try to understand.
Worship not president, nor pope nor king

For their athority doesn’t mean a thing”

“And that is all I can teach today,

I need the throng to go away.

For I am tired, and depressed too
Any more and I’ll get mad at you”

You ask, “My lord, why do you sigh?
What is it here that makes you cry?”
He looks at you, eyes full of sorrow, and says
“Watch what happens here tomorrow”

“In the meantime, Do you recall when we were in love?”
You confessed that you don’t
“Neither do I, but I miss those days,
I can’t imagine a time when I won’t.”

When morning comes you find the throng

Is really not getting along

An army of poor and another of meek

Fight an army that turns the other cheek

Then meek and poor fight one another

drawing blood over the definition of ‘brother’

The winning side celebrate with bells

And then they turn against themselves

Others make idols of stone and would

And claim the prophet said they should
They worship him, they ignore God

Ignore his inconvenient words which they find flawed

The self-appointed claim authority

To interpret the message for the majority

Who just accept this without a thought

An unsold soul can still be bought

And then these priests inspire kings

To war over the most ludicrous things

What to wear, and what to drink
How to pray and how to think

Words of salvation become ones of blood

Spilled in cataracts streaming to a flood

From a hill you watch this, shocked and awed

The Prophets words caused an affront to God

He said, “Do you remember some better world?”
You confessed that you don’t
“Neither do I, but I still miss that place,
I can’t imagine a time when I won’t.”

“God made us simple, we made ourselves complex

And that is we’re all such wrecks.

Rail against the dying of the light
But it only seems to bring on the night”

“The message is so quickly spoiled

God’s plans for us so quickly foiled

There is no devil, there’s only man

Continually railing against divine plan”

“But God keeps trying to set it right

He picks people like me to spread the light.

They shield their eyes, they look away

And garble the words in less than a day”

“But some yet do hear, so there is some hope

which keeps me from becoming a misanthrope.

All are called, but few want to be saved

Many think they’re free but remain enslaved”

“I’ve kept this up, God knows how long
For benefit of the few who don’t get it wrong

But now, disciple, my end is nigh
I didn’t mean to make you cry”

“The torch lays there, you could pick it up

You could bear the trembling cup

Too much to ask, but if you choose to

I’d bequeath the mantle of prophecy to you

And you ask “Do you remember when we were young and funny?”
He confessed that he did not.
You said, “Neither do I, but I still miss those days,
I can’t imagine a time when I will not.”

You shake your head, you walk away

Leaving him nothing left to say

In gardens of the orient

You leave him feeling despondently

He prays for you, but holds little hope

He finds a chair, he finds a rope…

Astrology

Summer is ten thousand days long

Then one morning

Without warning

It’s cold

And the stars wink at you

But Venus always stares

And the word for ‘sky’ and ‘metal’ are the same

And she left, but you’ve long forgotten her name

But really there never was a ‘she’

Just young fantasy

Of what the future might be

But you’re old

And the stars smirk down at you

But bloodshot Mars only stares

And the vast open sky is made of metal

What else could hold up something so large up there?

Every night you dream of Persia

With fragrant grove

And airborn song

Every night you want to stay

But you wake up

And it’s gone

Every night you’re back In Persia

Where flooded zigurats

House elegant gongs

And the Chinvat bridge spans the cavern

It doesn’t seem

So very long

And the stars are laughing at you

But you can dare Saturn to blink

And the endless sky is made of metal

That realization makes you think:

“I want to stand on top of it.”

ORIGINAL POEM: “We had your Birthday Party Yesterday”

We had your birthday party
At the place you used to go
Everybody had a good time
Though of course you didn’t show

So sad you couldn’t make it
It was hard not to frown
But the stories we told about you
Made it harder to be down

And then I went home alone
And of course you were not there
And of course i woke up alone
Where are you? Then I remember where

The first night without you
Really wasn’t that bad
I was so exhausted
I was numb rather than sad

But that first morning
I woke and you weren’t here
And I wonder, then remembered
And I was nothing but tears

Sometimes i forget for a few minutes
That you’re gone
I’ll ask if you want to go to the store
And the silence reminds me i’m alone

I buy a lot less groceries now
And there’s less laundry to do
But I’m still not really used to that
And I still cry for you

But we had your birthday party
Because we thought you’d want us to
And we only talked about the good stuff
Because what else was there to do?

Your ashes and pictures are on the shelf
Sometimes I hide them from my view
Our house has become a mausoleum
And oh God, Gene, I’m lost without you

But we had your birthday party…

 

 

[this was written from the perspective of my mom]

A short poem about how you’re not Matt Helm

Late to bed and late to rise
Won’t make you wealthy, but it might make you wise
When you gave in to her sighs
Then you woke and she’s gone

You danced and heard her sing
You begged and promised anything
Wake to find she took everything
Yeah it’s gone, yeah it’s all gone

What was the harm in a little sin
Then she slipped you a mickey finn
You can still feel your head swim
And your pride is gone,

Yeah, man, it’s all gone

Monday comes, your wife is back from her biz
Cover it up, cuz you like like a wiz
Then she asks where the checkbook is
But it’s gone

And soon you’re alone

You ain’t Matt Helm
No, you aint’ Matt Helm
Brother, you ain’t Matt Helm
You’re not even Tony Rome

Melanoma

The day you get the call
You expected it, so you’re not alarmed
Then they tell you it’s not nothing.
You’re ore stunned than scared
But you pop a xanax just to be safe
Because you know the fear is coming
They assure you it’s not dangerous…*yet*
Then they schedule emergency surgery
For that very afternoon
“Yet” being a very short time, apparently.
You walk to the bedroom
You punch the door
You don’t need to,
You just feel you should do something like that

The day you get the call
You decide not to think of Mark
Who died of the same thing
Or possibly some similar but lesser thing
You’re bad with details.
You’ve blocked a lot of that out.
You think, “Well the hell with my diet,”
And go out for an unhealthy breakfast
You’re a stress eater
Your life is never anything but stress
You had a couple good days
Now this.
Screw it, I’m having the steak biscuit
With no eggs, but three cokes

The day you get the call
You get reassurance.
“Your doctor is good.
They caught it early.
They’re taking it seriously.
There are treatments for this
The odds are 90% in your favor
There are treatments
A friend’s had it for fourteen years
And is doing fine.
You’ve always been lucky
They caught it *Before* it got serious
And God is with you”
“I hope so,” I say,
“But I’ve really done a lot of stuff to anger Him,
If I’m honest.”

The day you get the call
You think how little you’ve got
To show for 49 years
And how little you’ve done
“I’ve been to Disney World a few times,”
“And you went to England,” the wife says
And I wrote seven books, I think
Which no one will ever read
And you care for your wife and Kid
Both of whom would be left
High and dry and devastated
By your death
Your kid is special needs
He can’t function without you
And you think unkind things
About your mother
And again reflect on whether or not
Those kinds of things anger God.”
They probably do.

The day you get the call
You think about the logistics
Of picking your kid up from school
And lying to him to keep him calm
Then dragging your way across town
To the doctor
Where they’ll whittle away on you
And flip the coin
Hopefully saving your life
But maybe not.
Either way you won’t know
Until pathology comes in
And until that hapens
You just sit and watch the count down
Which, if you’re honest
Is all you’ve ever really done
For forty-nine years.
So since it’s your only skill
You watch it count down some more

On the day you get the call