A Journal of Contemporary Arts 





            “The Documentary Aleksei Navalny
              Knew We’d Watch After His Death”
                                -- NY Times, 2/16/2024

Wasted. A waste. That last shot of his cell.
The staring prisoner moving back and back
out of the frame. At first it’s hard to tell
it’s him, all that was bright and hopeful black
as death, and then he’s gone, we know to die—
though that took years of hardship, not despair,
since he kept faith, did not give up, yet Why?
, we still ask,
did he have to be there
instead of someplace safe where he could be
a beacon and a symbol, hope for all….

And yet we clearly saw the answer. He
was what he was. A tower that would not fall.
A man, brave and funny, confident, who
could never falter, knowing what he knew.


1:28 AM. You’re in your truck
just having “lunch.” In seconds you’ll be gone.
That gives new meaning to, “You’re out of luck.”
Who could think twice of danger when he’s on
an empty bridge past midnight? No one plans
for anything remotely like the chance
the world collapses under you! No man’s
that psychic or that careful. If you glance
around for just those seconds, you’re amazed!
Nothing is solid. No one’s in control.
You have only those seconds. You are dazed,
but then, that’s it. You have begun to roll
into the river. What’s your final thought?
No one can know. Such moments can’t be caught.


You asked me, so I’ll tell you. You won’t like it.

I think we’re born again as someone else,
and all we’ll know is, we are simply there
to start all over, the way it happened this time.
There’s nothing we can do. Nothing we’ll know.
It could be anytime, in any place.

There will be light and noise, and we’ll wake up
into a life, the way we did to this one.
And then we’ll live that life. We’ll have to live
as who and what we are, and when we die,
it all will happen just that way again.

Of course it’s scary. Think of what that means.
To come to consciousness again and live
a life, some other life, with no control
of where or when that is, or who you are,
or who you’re with. A total clean blank slate.

No wonder people want to cling to Karma.

One thing’s for sure. It makes you think right now.
That person you despise. The one you pity.
The one who’s being tortured. The one who tortures.
That child alone now somewhere in the world.
The famine and the plague. The endless wars.
Those who are bombing. Those who are being bombed.
In history. Or now. Or in the future.

You could be anyone, through all of time.

So think of that. You will have no control.
And there is nothing anywhere to count on.
There’s only one good thing that I can think of.

It means you’ll try to live the best you can
in this one life when you are who you are,
and vow to do the same, as best you can,
when you are someone else, which you may be,
again, again, again, again, again….

We’ll never know, but yes, I do believe it.

I think of it as coming back to light.


What if we live our same life, over and over,
exact in every detail, not one thing changed?
We die. We don’t remember. Then we’re back,
and it repeats itself. I’m serious.
If there’s no Time, just infinite repetition –
Eternal Recurrence, call it what you will –
then who’s to say? Wait. Wait a second. Listen.

You come to consciousness the way you did,
yourself, with every circumstance the same,
a baby, with your parents, back in time,
embarked again on all you then will live through
without the possibility of change,
not knowing you have lived it all before
infinite times, and that you will again
infinite times.
                       Okay. I know. It’s crazy.
But listen to me. Think. What would you do?

I know what I would do. I’d try to change.
I’d make sure that I lived the best I could
in every way, so that it turned out right.
So it would be the best life I could make it,
and I could then say Yes to it, and mean it.
I’d have to do that, with the stakes so high.
I’d strive to be as happy as I could.
As good. As strong. As useful. And as loving.

I know the fallacy. I couldn’t change,
since what I’m living I’ve already lived,
and everything would have to be the same.
But hold on. Think of this. Suppose I sensed that?

Suppose it hit me – what I’m saying now?
This realizing I’d relive this life?
Then that would be a part of what has happened,
and that would be what I would live again.

Don’t you think I would think, I’ve got to change?
And wouldn’t I, if I could? See, that’s the thing.

This life that I would then be living over –
over and over, now, the same, forever –
would be the life I chose. I could say Yes
to everything, because, however bad
some things would always be, however painful
it would be at its worst, taken as a whole
it would be something that I could affirm.
No, even better, I could celebrate,
a gift I could say Yes! to. And I would say it.
I’d gladly say it, and I’d gladly live it,
being responsible for what I lived.

It wouldn’t be like Karma. I wouldn’t come back
and have to live other lives, life after life,
all endlessly atoning for what I did.

Instead, I’d always be already here:

This self. My self, who lives this only life.


“There’s nothing new under the sun,”
and nothing new when day is done.
You go to bed and lie awake
and think,
All’s done for Nothing’s sake.

Cheer up! The battle’s not yet done.
It’s not yet lost, though nothing’s won.
Don’t think, All’s done for Nothing’s sake.
Nothing’s yet lost. You still can make

Adjustments. Much may yet be won.
March on! March on and join the fray!
Nothing’s yet lost. You still can make
life worth it, starting with today,

Starting with now. Go join the fray.
Fight on, fight on, till day is done.
Life’s worth it, starting with today!
“There’s nothing new under the sun”?

But then you’ll see when day is done,
nothing was new. You’ll lie awake,
and think, What’s new under the sun?
Nothing. All’s done for Nothing’s sake.

And so it will go. You’ll lie awake
and think, It’s all for Nothing’s sake,
then rise and march and join the fray
and make it through another day

And make it through another day

And make it through another day….


This field is mine to sow and reap.
It was not given me to keep.
The time will come when I must cede
this ample crop I will not need.

This was not given me to keep.
It’s mine to labor on and tend.
An ample crop I will not need,
yet I will work it till the end

Since it is mine to work and tend.
It’s mine to cherish and explore,
and I will work until the end
when time is up and nothing more

Remains to cherish and explore.
Then I will leave what I can’t keep.
Yet, till I can do nothing more,
This field is mine to sow and reap.


          “Goats were stuck in traffic. Dozens of strangers
            helped milk them”
                                -- Washington Post, 3/13/2024

As I was hauling to my farm
My load of goats was facing harm.

A massive snowstorm – just our luck! –
Blocked freeway traffic. We were stuck.

My goats cried out – Grace, Sadie, Emma –
We all were caught in that dilemma,

And there we were, obliged to linger.
And what if no one lent a finger?

(Well, hand.) Then, kindness saved the day.
A bunch of folks showed us the way

Good neighbors act. Each mom and kid
Was so relieved by what they did.

Let all rejoice, and cynics note:
Samaritans can milk a goat!


A poem is not a trick,
although it can be quick,

Duplicitous and sly.
You’re left to wonder why,

Unable to see through it,
Just how
did someone do it?

The poet cannot tell,
stuck in the dark as well.

There can be no appeal.

Some magic’s simply real.



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“I just can’t bear it! It’s a desecration.”

From where I sat, I looked across the driveway
directly at the neighbors’ house. The trees,
gigantic trunks cut neatly at the base,
covered a good part of the lawn.

                                                    “Black walnuts.
A hundred feet tall. More than a hundred years
old. I counted circles.”

                                      We sat in silence.

My wife. Our friends. A rare lunch on their porch,
a celebration during the pandemic.

“Some guys came in a truck. It took one man
less than an hour to cut down all those trees.
They’re coming to remove the wood next week.
He came to tell me. They’re going to put in maples.”

“Maples?” I said.

                              The four of us sat in silence.

After a little while, she spoke again.

“Maples. Of course. What else but goddam maples?
Isn’t that what we need? More goddam maples?
Black walnuts are poison. Everybody knows that.
That’s what he said.”

                                    I tried to make a joke.

“I think we ought to call Tom Bombadil.”
It fell flat. We sat, staring at the trees.

“What did you say to him when he came over?”

She shrugged.

                       “What could I say? They were his trees.
They’re on his property. They belonged to him.”

We saw that she was on the verge of tears.

“What’s wrong with people? How can they be that way?
We loved those trees. They were magnificent.
They’ve always been there. They were part of our life.
Everything’s shitty. The whole world’s gotten shitty!”

We knew she wasn’t talking about trees,
but we were there for lunch, a celebration,
such as it was. We didn’t want to lose that.

We were all friends, and we would all survive this,
we hoped.

                    We toasted with a glass of wine.

“Here’s to being together. Here’s to good lunches.”

“Hear! Hear!”

                        The four of us toasted.

                                                             “To more good lunches.”

We raised our glasses, clinked them, toasted again:

“Here’s to black walnuts. May they survive us all!”


I knew that I would have to write this down
before I said a word to anyone.
I’d tell the rest, but this would have to wait.

It wasn’t late. The dinner broke up early –
our Big Reunion – but we are “of an age.”
I had all the directions written down.
It should have been a drive of forty minutes,
all of it easy. First, this, Then, that. Then straight.
What could go wrong? It turned out, everything!

Well, almost. I got lost right from the start,
taking one early turn I shouldn’t have taken,
and it got worse from there. I drove and drove,
I stopped, then doubled back, then drove some more,
but nothing saved me. No sign was familiar.
None of the routes was right. I have these dreams
where I am lost, and then I get more lost,
and this was like them, with some added details:
gas stations, for instance, were all on the other side.
The traffic was racing. There was no place to stop.

Finally, I was able to pull over
and look at a map. My instinct was all wrong!
I should have been driving east instead of west.
(I have no GPS. My phone’s a flip phone.)
I’d have to turn around. The coast was clear.
No cars were coming. I’d make a quick U turn.

I eased out, sped up, started to make the turn—
and hit the curb that separated the highways,
a barricade I hadn’t known was there.

I hit it pretty hard. O no! I thought.
I’ve gotten a flat tire. But it was worse.

My car was perpendicular in the road
across the passing lane, and I couldn’t move it,
cars coming at me at sixty miles an hour.

A pickup truck came first. He hit his horn,
then veered off to the left at the last second,
jumped the barrier two feet off the ground –
I saw him, in slow motion, hang in the air –
he landed in the line of oncoming traffic –
fortunately, no cars were there right then –
then somehow managed, without once slowing down,
to get back to our side and keep on going.
It happened in seconds. It was just like in the movies!

Other cars somehow missed me, I don’t know how,
as I backed up, then pulled to the side of the road.
A van pulled up beside me, the window rolled down.
The guy was yelling. I thought he was a cop.

“Are you okay? Do you need medication?
You almost got hit at sixty miles an hour!”

“I know, I know, I was trying to turn around.
I didn’t realize there was a barrier.”

He kept on yelling. I could hardly blame him.

“That barrier’s been there for twenty miles!”

How could I not have known? I never noticed.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I know. That was really stupid.
Thank you for stopping.”

                                           I meant it. I was grateful.

I guess he decided that was it: I was stupid.

“You’re sure you’re okay? You want me to call for help?”

“Really, I’m fine,” I said. I thanked him again.

I waited till he left, then I drove off,
and made it safely back to where I was staying.
I was completely calm. I can’t explain it.
It was as if I was totally detached.

That was as close as I have ever come
to getting killed, at least, that I’m aware of.
And I kept thinking: What if I had died?

I knew I would have to process it, and I have,
enough at least to write it, if not to tell it.

The odd thing is, everything now is different,
in some strange low-key way. I’m still amazed
as I keep going over it in my mind.

What if I had died? I thought of those next few hours,
those next few days. Everyone hearing. The funeral.
My family. My friends. Those circumstances.
And all my work, my life’s work, left unfinished.

I’d come that close. I’d somehow been that lucky!

Others had too. I had almost caused their deaths.
What if that happened, even if I had lived?
Even if I had escaped being maimed or mangled?

What would my life be like now, going forward?
Nothing would be the same. All would be changed
drastically, in ways I cannot imagine.

I think of that in awe. I just can’t grasp it.

There were so many ways it could have gone wrong.

And there is one more thing I keep coming back to,
for me, the most amazing thing of all:

that truck that barely missed me, swerving, then sailing:

I wish I could thank that stunt driver in the pickup!


-- after hearing Martin Luther King’s “I’ve been
   to the Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night
   before he was assassinated.

Sometimes we know, although we don’t know how.
We simply know, and we are simply right.
There seems to be that Knowledge, and we bow.

How could there be? What power could endow
us with such foresight, flooding us with light?
Sometimes we know, although we don’t know how.

We know our limits. Know our lack of prow-
ess. Know that we are bumblers, void of sight.
And yet, there is that Knowledge, and we bow

In awe and wonder. We live in that Now
where all makes vital sense, where all is bright!
We’re sure we know, although we don’t know how,

And we’re determined, so we make a vow:
We’ll make it through. We’ll overcome this Night.
That Knowledge is. We feel it, and we bow.

And that's as much as knowing will allow.
Yet that's enough for us.  We live in spite
of darkness all around.  We know know how.,
but we have felt that Knowledge, and we bow.


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     -- after a line by Richard Berengarten

“Come, have a drink. There’s nowhere else to go.”
Now, there’s a line to start a villanelle.
You almost see and feel the wind and snow.

Look out that window. You can see it blow.
I’m glad you’re here, and we’ve this time to kill.
Come. Have a drink. There’s nowhere else to go,

And nothing else to do. Didn’t you just know
that once you came, winter would work its will?
I knew at once there would be wind and snow,

And we’d be trapped here. Well, I now can show
you I did not, and do not, wish you ill.
We’ll have that drink. There’s nowhere else to go,

So let’s just get it settled. You do owe
me that apology, and if you still
won’t say those words, and mean them, well, the snow

Will just keep falling, falling. Yes, that’s so.
That isn’t going to change. And feel that chill?
Best have that drink. There’s nowhere else to go.
Imagine. Trapped here, in this wind and snow.


When auld acquaintance goes awry
we ought to let it. Really why
should we hold on to what’s not there?
Why be the only one to care?

Why be the only one to mourn
a bond once precious that was torn
away by someone without reason?
Friendship, like love, should have its season

And then be laid aside as done.
Why should one be the only one
who tries to save what’s run its course
and can’t be reeled back in by force?

No, let it go, though with regret.
Forgive, but do not quite forget
that you once had, in times gone by,
a friend who let it go awry.


Why write? Nobody reads.
Why make what no one needs?
Why struggle? Why create?
Resign yourself to fate.

Why make what no one needs?
Why plant unfruitful seeds?
Resign yourself to fate.
It always was too late.

Why plant unfruitful seeds?
Why till unyielding ground?
It always was too late.
Why work, then wait around?

Why till unyielding ground?
Why make what no one needs?
Why work, then wait around?
Why write? Nobody reads.

Fate whispers in your ear:

Why write? Nobody’s here.
There is no hope. No light.

You hear. You know. You write.


Oblivion, I face again, again,
the stark reminder of your blank blank slate.
I know you do not deal in If, but When.
I know one has no other choice but wait.
Your triumph is assured, and our defeat
is certain. All the rest is merely dream.
Yours is the Iron Reign we cannot cheat,
however comforting scant hope might seem.

So why do I persist? Why not give in?
Stop laboring? Stop trying to succeed?
I know the loss of everything that’s been.
That nothing I possess will meet this need
I feel to somehow thwart you. Still I try
with foolish acts like this, I don’t know why.




Shakespeare shows how living through
is the most that one can do.
Lear and Gloucester find their way
though they dearly have to pay.

Often, though, it turns out worse.
Think of sad Othello’s curse,
trusting one who wished him ill,
loving one he had to kill.

Hamlet also didn’t survive,
though he managed while alive
to restore his Kingdom and
his good name throughout the land.

What’s the lesson? Go ahead,
though you’ll likely end up dead.
Act, and hope you’ll find your way
worth what you will have to pay.


Some brilliant lines I scrawled last night
don’t seem so brilliant in the light

Of this new day. What did I mean?
They seemed so apposite and keen,

Yet make no sense I can discern.
Not only will I never learn

What I knew then, or thought I knew.
Who knows what they were leading to?

That trail’s now lost. I’ll never find
what once was almost in my mind

spelled out in legible specifics
which now are merely hieroglyphics.


I’m not a hoarder. No, indeed.
All this? All this is stuff I need.
All that? That’s stuff that I need too.
And that. And that. And that is new.


Stuck at 3:38
our ship’s clock tells a lie.
It’s early. Then it’s late.
Stuck at 3:38,
assenting to its fate,
it does not even try.
Stuck at 3:38,
our ship’s clock tells its lie.

We bought it as a lark
and hung it on our wall.
It hangs there, still and stark.
We bought it as a lark.
It’s there through light and dark.
It’s present, and that’s all.
We bought it as a lark
and hung it on our wall.

It’s there through calm and storm,
a constant useless thing.
Like some outmoded form,
it’s there through calm and storm,
and serves us as a norm,
the kind to which we cling,
unchanged through calm and storm.
Our constant, useless thing.

Stuck at 3:38,
assenting to its fate,

our ship’s clock tells its lie.

It need not even try.



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        “If I had known dying would be like this,
          I would have done it sooner.”
                               -- Daniel Ellsberg

It isn’t always, as we know too well.
Still, it is nice to know that can be true.
What happens afterwards, no one can tell,

Though many hold opinions. Some say Hell
Or Heaven. That, of course, is nothing new.
It’s always like that, as we know too well.

Some say the body simply is a shell
For Consciousness, which then goes leaping to –
But who knows what, or where? No one can tell.

In any case, death’s first. There is the knell.
But first, that gathering. If lucky, you
Can have around you those who know you well

And love you best. They cast a kind of spell
And make your leaving bearable. All rue
Can be completely gone, since you can tell

You’ve done the best you could, which can dispel
The sadness of departure. Granted few
May be that lucky. Plus, all may be well.

What happens afterwards, no one can tell.



Write on. Write on. Let nothing stem the flow.
It’s that that makes you happy, though you know
It leads to nothing, nowhere. It is now
That matters. Seize the moment! Then let go.

But wait. Let go? Of what? There’s nothing there
But words, mere words, that no one else will share.
Yet words, mere words, are something. They will stand
A moment. They will show you are, you care.

But show to whom? To what? They’ll disappear.
Gone like the dew, that was, then is not here.
Gone like that bird, that sang, then left thin air,
Poof! like those fabled snows of yesteryear.

Yet look! You’ve done it. Done it, once again.
You’ve written words and let them stand. So then,
Stop your complaining for yet one more day.
Be thankful. Go be happy now. Amen.


He writes for no one, no one, but himself,
his books on some imaginary shelf
where they will have no readers or acclaim,
but prove that he once lived and had a name.

He dreams of that imaginary shelf:
How rich it is. How full of what life was.
He needs no other reader than himself.
He wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote because

Because that’s what he did and who he was.
What other point to living? Quite content,
he wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote because
he loved to write, and that was what life meant

To him. And so, alone and quite content,
he kept on writing books that filled that shelf
because he loved to write. That’s what life meant:
To write for no one, no one but oneself.




        -- after Housman’s "Epitaph On An Army Of Mercenaries"

These, in the days when Russia was failing,
And all around sought Putin’s head,
Instead of gnashing, whining, flailing,
Changed their attack plan, and were led

On, on toward Moscow, and toward Glory,
As righteous anger fueled their way,
Until – and it’s a familiar story –
They called rebellion off for pay.

   (The Washington Post)

You’re all caught up the paper tells me.
Not by a long shot, but enough.
Any more news would drive me crazy!
Time to move on to other stuff.

The War news is the same. Enough.
Mass shootings also. There were two.
Time to move on to other stuff.
Really, can’t there be something new

That’s not depressing? There are two
items about AI’s new features,
so, I suppose, they’re something new.
Also, more disappearing creatures

That are the subject of long Features.
Time to move on. I’ve had enough.
Ice caps? Gone! Disappearing creatures!

I’m done with the paper. I’m all caught up.


“I can’t wait to get up and face the day.”

My mother used to say that. She was full
of “pep” (that’s what she called it). Nothing dull
or dark could pull her down. That was her way
of coping, living through. Oh, she was sad
at times, but she’d find energy to spare
to find, and live, the positive, until
age got to her at last, and then her will
flagged just a bit, since she learned that she had
grave doubts and reservations. These she’d bear
bravely enough, but anyone could see
her disillusionment. She would recite,
“Old age is not for sissies,” look to me—
or anyone—to tell her she was right.


Let’s hear it for Bobi, who’s turned thirty-one,
a dog for the ages, and he isn’t done.
They’re throwing a party. They’ll shout and they’ll cheer
“the oldest dog ever,”* and he is still here!

True, he’s a bit lame and his sight isn’t great,
but so far he’s made it just fine, and his fate
has not yet been sealed. He can smell and enjoy,
and, presumably, hear when he’s called “a good boy.”

His prime days of guarding are long in the past,
but he has a secret that’s helped him to last:
a “calm, peaceful” place where there’s love and no stress.
What else has preserved him we just have to guess.

But one thing is certain: he’s set a high bar
for dogs, and for people. How many folks are
just half of his age? You can bet they aren’t plenty.
And who do you know who’s two hundred and twenty?

*according to the Guinness Book Of World Records


AI wrote a Shakespeare play.
AI critics blithely say,
though it seemed to meet the test,
it was clearly not his best.



Suck it up.
Let it go.
Drain the cup.
Stem the flow.

Turn your head.
Fail to see.
Laugh instead.
Let it be.


Our gardens. Yes, our gardens. That’s the way
to live in this unruly world and stay
as sane as if we lived where all is well.
Not Paradise, perhaps, but far from Hell.



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The snails came out to crawl around,
but sudden death was all they found.
It’s safest to stay where you dwell
and not count too much on your shell.

Yes, sudden death was what they found.
A shoe came crunching from the air.
Do not count too much on your shell
to shield you from what isn’t there,

Then is, from nowhere in the air.
You venture out. You crawl. Then wham!
You can’t detect what isn’t there
before it is. No snail

Will save you from that instant wham!
Do not count too much on your shell
or on some miracle shazam!
Stay put. Don’t crawl, and you’ll do well.


                            -- National Public Radio, June 27, 2021

She grabbed her phone. She made it out alive.
She’s heartbroken. It’s difficult to hear.
We all do what we have to to survive.

Who knows what we’ll be driven to by fear?
Our very world collapses, crashing down!
She made it out. It’s difficult to hear.

Impelled by panic, desperate, alone,
She acted out of instinct. Who would not,
When all the world around is crashing down?

Yet she repeats now, “I just want my cat.”
She blames herself. She cannot bear the thought
Of having left her cat there. Who would not?

Her cat named “Mia.” No one ever ought
To face such horrors. One is not to blame
When such things happen. No one should be caught

By circumstance like that, then feel as shame
And selfishness that one got out alive,
And have to bear the guilt of that, the blame.

We all do what we have to to survive.


My faithful chair is in decline.
It’s tattered, and it loses height
(though, happily, it rolls all right).
If asked, I say it’s doing fine.

I fix it when it loses height.
I cannot type when it is low.
But otherwise, it’s doing fine.
It serves its purpose, and I go

On fixing it when it is low.
Who cares? It’s only in my room,
a sanctum where no others go.
I keep it hidden while on Zoom,

So it hurts no one in my room.
If there is shame, it’s only mine,
plus, it is never seen on Zoom,
poor faithful chair that’s in decline.


Last night I saw the movie Dirty Dancing;
I happened on it as I watched TV.
I found it sweet. The angst and the romancing.
A film I missed, and never thought I’d see.
But wait. The date was 1987.
We were abroad. We missed things all that year.
I would have seen it, had the chance been given,
but since that wasn’t, I just didn’t, and fear
I felt it wouldn’t be worth it, so dismissed it.
Along with much else, it was just a name.
What does it matter that I somehow missed it?
It does though. What it is is not the same
as what I thought it was. What else have I
misjudged or missed as, blithely, I passed by?


One attendee recalled how [Nancy Pelosi] regaled the Democrats about her trip to Charm City’s National Aquarium, where she learned that dolphins sleep with half their brain awake and one eye open.
       -- Washington Post, March 3, 2023

With half its brain awake and one eye open
the dolphin sleeps, a useful lesson you
could use, and yet, it isn’t going to happen,
since you’re awake, and that’s already true.


A triolet, or triolet?
I just don’t know. It’s hard to say.
Decide on one, and then you get
not triolet, but triolet.
You’ve got it now? You want to bet?
You’re sure it’s not the other way?
It’s triolet? Not triolet?
You’re still not sure. It’s hard to say!

So go ahead. Choose either way.

It’s triolet. And triolet.


I read something I wrote
which makes no sense at all.
Could I have changed so much?
The chance of that is small.

I can’t go back to then.
Yet how can I ignore
how one whose work I know
wrote something so obscure?




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It’s everywhere, and yet it’s not yet here.
It’s nothing, yet it is a thing we fear.
We turn our backs on what we have to face.
We do not love what one day we’ll embrace.

It’s nothing, yet it is a thing we fear.
We cannot see it, yet it’s always near.
We hate it, yet it’s something we’ll embrace
one day when we confront it face to face.

We cannot see it, yet we feel it near.
We know it’s something we cannot evade
that one day will confront us, face to face.
We feel it in our bones. We’re in its shade.

We know it stalks us. We cannot evade
its power. It’s nothing, yet a thing we fear.
We feel it in our bones. We’re in its shade.
It’s everywhere. One day it will be here.

It’s in our bones. It is the thing we fear.

It’s everywhere. One day it will be here.


It will not matter, once we’re not,
what honors or awards we got.
We will not know, we will not care.
Once we are nowhere, we’re not there.

We will not wish we could have done
what we didn’t do. There will be none
to know or tell us what we missed
once we have ceased. We won’t exist

In any form, in any sense.
We will be gone, departed hence
to nothing, anywhere, and in
a state where no one’s ever been

Because there’s no one. There’s no they.
They are not elsewhere, though away.
We won’t know what we haven’t got.
But that won’t matter when we’re not.


We say, “Don’t think about it.” Yet we do.
It’s always there. It whispers in our ear.
I’m here. I’m here. I’ve got my eye on you.
We say, “Don’t think about it,” but we do.
It is the terror that we always knew.
The nightmare ghost. The unrelenting fear.
We say, “Don’t think about it.” But we do.
It’s there. It’s there. It whispers in our ear:

You never will escape me. I am here.
I’m yours. You’re mine. There’s nothing you can do.
I am your deepest dread. I am your fear.
You never can escape me. I am here.
You may forget, but I am always near.
You are my own. I’ve got my eye on you.
You never will escape me. I am here.
I’m yours. You’re mine. There’s nothing you can do.

We say, “Don’t think about it,” but we hear
it whisper, whisper, whisper, in our ear:

I’m yours. You’re mine. I’ve got my eye on you.

There’s nothing, nothing, nothing, you can do.


The answer hangs there, barely out of reach,
yet out of reach. One thinks, I’m almost there,
but it eludes, and taunts. The grasp of speech

Can’t quite encompass it. One can’t beseech,
command, beg, borrow. Dangling, like a pear,
the answer hangs there, barely out of reach,

And tantalizing. Luscious, like a peach
one almost touches, mocking like despair,
it teases thought. It thwarts the grasp of speech,

Which, almost grabs it, failing each
renewed attempt by just a mite, a hair,
yet that’s sufficient. Safe there, out of reach,

It torments and confounds. One cannot breach
that last defense. One must at length declare
inglorious surrender. Thought and speech

Have reached an impasse. One is like a crea-
ture weighed down by the burden it must bear.
The answer hangs there, barely out of reach,
yet inaccessible, by thought or speech.





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I used to bring them to her place to meet them.
She loved that, and they seemed to love it too.
I had to warn them. She would always greet them
effusively. I couldn’t tell what she knew
about them, and I couldn’t at times alert her
in time to not say things she’d sometimes say.
It wasn’t that I worried I might hurt her.
It’s just that there was never a good way
to guess what odd or different thing might strike her.
The writer with the bushy beard? “Does food
get caught in it?” That question was just like her.
It didn’t occur to her that could be rude.
Most often she’d exclaim about their looks:
“Why, you’re so handsome!” She didn’t read their books.


My mother called my colleagues my “assistants.”
It’s true I was their senior and the Chair,
but I would be embarrassed when she said it,
and always looked to see who might be there.
My colleagues rarely were, but there were students
who thought her cute and sweet. She was a “dear,”
they’d say, and they were right, but they were savvy
and asked her questions, so I had to hear
her funny anecdotes about my childhood,
the little things that mothers hoard and treasure.
Her audience was rapt, and she kept going,
pleased to be giving others so much pleasure.
“Mom, Mom,” I’d say, and blush, but she was proud
to hold the floor, and she played to the crowd.


Nazca Boobies nest on the ground. Two eggs are often laid, though if both hatch, only one nestling will be reared. One egg will hatch 5 days before the second, and the older sibling will drag the other one out of the nest. The parents do not feed it, and it starves.

                       from a birding blog

It isn’t fair! It isn’t right
the way my brother treats me!
My mother hates me at first sight.
The horrid world that greets me

Just wants me dead. Well, I won’t go
without at least a flurry
of frantic fluttering to show
that I’m not in a hurry!




I started early – took my dog –
She did not – want – to go –
I offered her – a treat – a bone –
She clearly signaled – No!

Well, what was I to do? I thought –
and thought about it – hard –
And then – I put my plans – on hold –
And we played – in the yard –




Dumb squirrel! You are not fooling me.
I know that trick. I cannot see
you, true. But I am quite aware
of what you’re doing hiding there,

A thing I do myself. That’s how
I hide, though I’m not hiding now.
Plus, when I do it, it is true
I’m much more out of sight than you.




Poets are picky. Yes, why not?
How often does one get a shot
at getting something right for good?
Whether or not it’s understood.




Aging in place shouldn’t trouble you too much.
You train a little. Try to stay in touch.
Forgetting’s tricky, but you needn’t care.
Things will come back, provided you’re still there.





I talked to him a while, a pleasant chat,
and felt I got to know him just a bit,
which struck me then as odd, since this was at
our 65th Reunion. Surely it
could easily have happened while at school
all those decades ago, but such things are.
We keep to our own in-crowd as a rule,
and aren’t inclined to venture out, or far.

Today I got the letter. He was gone.
His obit was a paragraph. Not much.
I would have simply read it and gone on.
I had not known him and was used to such.

But talking to him so close to the end,
it was as if I now had lost a friend.



Norway Kills Freya,
1,300-Pound Walrus
Who Delighted Onlookers

   -- https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/14/world/europe/freya-walrus-dead.html

O Freya, Poor Freya, that shouldn’t have been done.
Of possible options there must have been one
that didn’t involve murder. Their doing you in
is surely an outrage that borders on sin!

And what was your crime? That you clambered on boats
or any old platform or surface that floats?
You caused inconvenience to some, it is true,
but others thought, “Great!” and were mad about you.

A creature so huge, so ungainly, so strange,
was welcome. So what if you weren’t in the range
your kind should inhabit, those far distant seas
where walruses snort and cavort as they please?

And what is the lesson: Do not ask the State
to solve a hard problem? Or, don’t be too great?
Who knows? For the moment let’s pause and be sad
for Freya, while savoring times that we had.

Let’s savor the joy of a giant who swam
wherever she chose to, pronouncing “I Am!”
May she never abandon us. Lighter than air,
Free Spirit, Free Freya, may you always be there!


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   Bruce Bennett EPO Poems Prior to 2023