When wisdom runs dry,
Cataracts cover our eyes
And the world grows dark.
The blind lead the sighted,
And claim to be seers.

Lucifer is the opposite of God.
Lucifer is Light.
God must then be Darkness.
In the beginning,
Darkness defeated the Light.

We were born in a Garden,
Banned from the Tree of Knowledge,
Lest eating its fruit,
The world grow bright
And the cataracts fall from our eyes.

We ate the fruit,
Saw and despaired,
Covered our eyes,
Cowered in fear,
And begged for Darkness again.

The snake in the Garden,
Angel of Light,
Was cursed along with us
And expelled
Into the natural world.

What is it we saw,
When we listened to the snake
And ate the fruit,
That so scared and scarred us?
What did we see in the light?

There is a Devil.
His name is Man.
Lucifer is Light that frightens us
God is Darkness that comforts us,
Though in reality we live in Twilight.

What we saw in the light:
We are abandoned animals,
Left to the Red Claws of Nature
And the Cold Whims of Chance,
Left to choose nonetheless.

Grim Fandango

The cake is a lie,
Solid Snake will never die,
Lara will tomb raid forever,
Gordon will always have a Half-Life.
And Manny will come for me
When it’s my time
For a Grim Fandango.

All places I have been
Before my Grim Fandango.

I’ve gone on a Journey
Come From Dust
Been in System Shock
Made a Braid in time
Navigated Limbo
Sought a Lost Swan
All to evade my Grim Fandango.

With an Assassin’s Creed,
And a Dragon’s Dogma,
I answered my Call of Duty,
Beyond Good and Evil,
To pay for the Sins of a Solar Empire.
Such was my Fate
Before my Grim Fandango.

I used a Portal
With a Quantum Conundrum
And Mass Effect
To Warp
Through Dead Space
As Sly as any Time Bandit
To escape my Grim Fandango.

I played a Symphony of the Night
And sang Tales of Symphonia.
I played a flute to be a Wind Waker
And sang tales of Divine Divinity.
I played an Eternal Sonata
And sang a Brutal Legend
To silence my Grim Fandango.

All this to come to 65,
An old man
Hoping for a Deus Ex
To save me, salve me
From Dark Souls
And Bioshock
That seek to hasten my Grim Fandango.


The river flows
Regardless of us
Heedless in its urge
To the sea.

We can join it for a while.
But it flows before us
And after us
And beyond us.

Unless we dam it
Or drink it dry
Or heat the earth
Until the river dies.

Why do humans
Seek to stop flow?
Is it greed
Or fear of mixing in the sea?

Why do we dam the flow?
And not let it break through?
Is it greed
Or fear of floods that obliterate boundaries?

In a river flowing to the sea
We would all bob along together
For awhile
And then disappear in the sea.

We have spread destruction throughout the sea.
Rivers flow into dead zones,
If they flow at all.
Many of us will walk down a dust-dry wash to our end.

They baptize us in water
And tell us we go from dust to dust,
When we were meant to come forth from a mother’s watery womb
And flow into the boundless sea.

From Dust to Dust

We sit in silence
Waiting in the dark
For the sun.

We sit on a dirt floor
In a crumbling hut
Empty save for us.

The first hint of dawn
Is just a quiver in the darkness
Framing the opening in the shattered wall.

Then suddenly there is a burst of bird song
Followed by a shallow light
Entering the room.

We chant an ancient song,
Accompanying the morning chorus
To welcome the dawn.

There are only two of us.
Man and woman,
Too blackened by the sun to tell apart.

We have honored the sun ritual
For as long as we can recall.
Starting when we were young.

We pray all night
And sleep in the open air
When the sun is up.

We each move slowly now
Gathering when we can
Nuts and berries and vines.

This is Eden at the end.
We are back where we began.
In a garden.

If the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
Is still here,
It bears no fruit.

Who do we pray to at night?
Why do we always stay awake
Waiting for the sun?

The sun is the last god
We can remember.
It wrecked vengeance on our kind.

We died in many ways,
Some in flood, some in drought,
Some from famine, war, or disease.

Some sacrificed for others with love.
Some stole from others with greed.
All perished together.

Like the passenger pigeons and the magnificent bison before us,
Our vast numbers decreased
Faster than any of us could have conceived.

In the end we the hunters became the hunted,
Stalked by our former prey
And even by our former pets.

When we humans caused the greatest species kill off
Since time began,
We went before the swine.

Scorched now by the sun we worship
We last ones will soon go to dust
And end the human race.

Once Each Day (A Poem for English Teachers)

Language is predicated on telling the truth.
It’s not that we always tell the truth.
It’s that if we rarely or never do,
Language loses its point.

In America today
We expect lies from corporations, governments, and scam charities.
We expect lies from every side
In the name of profit, success, and power.

In a world where everyone customizes what they want to hear
And listens in an echo chamber of self-sameness
To only what they want to believe,
The truth is an orphan any way.

The truth that is important is not spelled with a capital “T”.
Truth with a little “t” just means trying
To respect the world and others the best we can
By letting words mingle with things and not just desires.

If you want to know whether your new idea is good or bad,
Ask someone who doesn’t love you or hate you,
Who knows some things you don’t
And will listen to what you say and not who you are.

The point of truth seeking is not being right.
It is trying to be right
And allowing you may be wrong
And that someone else you don’t even like might be right.

The rich fat cats deny Global Warming
So they can keep selling oil.
Hospitals call themselves charities
When they collect every penny from the poor.

Of course in America this is nothing new.
Adrian Mitchell said it so well some time ago
In his poem, “To Whom It May Concern
(Tell Me Lies about Vietnam)”:

“I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam”.

Lessons go unlearned.
We lose more wars
And harm more people
Because we will not teach and learn.

The “English teacher” is the key.
The job is to teach the students to once at least
Tell the little “t” truth each day,
To feel how it sounds on the tongue and looks on the page.
Once each day will keep the devil away.

Dead Zone

It is all for naught.
The dead zone spreads.
No matter how hard I try
To stem its tide.

All the fish are dead,
In the dead zone.
There is no oxygen,
In the dead zone.

There is no air to breathe,
No life left,
In the dead zone.
Nothing is left in the dead zone.

It comes creeping upon me, the dead zone.
Pollution spilling into my soul,
Killing everything in its wake,
To create a dead zone in my soul.

I cannot breathe
Because there is a massive
Dead zone in my soul.
Where innocence used to be.

Emotion almost dies.
Even bare feeling is almost dead.
Life comes near its end
In the dead zone.

The dead zone does not just belong to me.
It belongs to all of us
And to history.
It is part of our very nature.

For centuries
One group dreamed up slow tortures
To maximize a small person’s pain.

That is what finally caused my dead zone.
The full on realization of human evil
As common place now
As it always has been through history.

It is still as true today as it ever was:
We rape women
And barbecue men,
In the name of dominance.

And so it went,
Each group claimed others were savages
And did the same
And brought more and more pain.

The small person had no chance.
Just speared with a lance
And staked to the ground for more torture as entertainment,
A cipher in history, one among the many dead.

Did one small person say one day,
“No. No to all of this. No to all of us.”
And yet still powerlessly entertain the bloody crowd with his pain?

History moved on after that “No”,
But not much.
It just ratcheted up a very small degree.
But that is history.
And history—thank God—has a long long memory.

The Good Doctor

Dr. George
Once showed me
The blow-up woman
In his closet.

She didn’t look like a woman,
Not that I had seen many at the time.
She was a balloon with holes.
An object you could morally objectify.

The good Doctor had gotten a PhD
From a diploma mill
Before diploma mills
Were mainstream colleges.

Earlier, the good Doctor had graduated from Columbia,
Where in the golden days
He played basketball
And majored in partying.

There George chose his life work–
I stress “chose”–
Because he had many other options–
To become a professional partier.

Professional in those days meant professional,
Really pro, not pseudo-pro as it does so often today.
And George was a pro’s pro.
He was invited to be the life of the party up and down both coasts.

And he was always the heart of the party
Even though he was circumspect,
Never loud or ebullient,
Just drinking with a wink in his eye.

In his prep to become pro
George had drunk so much
He ruined his stomach
And had none when I met him.

He could only eat and drink
A little at a time.
And yet he drunk everyone else under the table
And always looked like he had just begun.

The rich and famous invited him to their parties
Even when they didn’t know him well,
Because a party without the good Doctor
Was like a Cubs game without the immortal Ernie Banks.

Ernie Banks famously said one morning,
During batting practice
At Wrigley Field for the thousandth time,
“What a good day to play baseball”.

The good Doctor often said–
Well in fact he said it every day–
“What a good day for a party”,
Or, really, parties.

The good Doctor
Left everyone wasted
And then went on
To the next party.

It was his duty.
He was a pro.
He had a reputation to uphold.
And more important, he had God’s good work to do.

When the good Doctor was there,
The high
And the low
Were all equal, leveled in his presence.

The good Doctor
Quiet and calm
Old but ageless
Drew everyone inexorably to him.

They came up to him to engage in cocktail party chatter,
Just for a moment,
With an entirely unprepossessing man,
And then couldn’t leave.

They were drunk;
The doctor, long into his cups, was stone sober drunk.
They begged for kindness and mercy.
He heard their confessions like a priest.

The good Doctor had nothing,
No job or honors,
No riches or pretensions.
Yet he was the master.

Good and bad men
Mean and gentle women
Bent to his charm
Knowing the doctor was always in.

The rich and powerful
The famous and the feared
The worthy and the guilty
Became just simple humans.

He accepted them all.
He eased their fears and doubts.
There were no airs to be put on in front of a man
Who sucked self-deception right out of the air

George had chosen to be nothing but a good partier,
And he was the best there ever was.
Others thought themselves important
Until they met him, drink in hand, wink in his eye,
The good Doctor.

Choose Life

According to an ancient American myth,
When a child is born,
The child can choose to leave or stay
Once human life has been sampled for a while.

Parents fear children will choose to leave,
If they catch on too early to the whims of fate
And the random horrors of the universe,
So their parents tell them stories in poetry.

The stories find patterns everywhere.
Everything seems nice and neat and meant to be.
By the time the child finds out that things are not so,
It is too late to go.

The source of poetry is a lie,
A just so story,
A whistle in the dark to quell fear of change and chance
And beasts that roar in the night.

The source of poetry is a parent pleading
With a child
To stay
And have hope it will be all right.

Once we know we have been fooled,
We repeat the old poetic stories
As talismans to keep chance at bay
To quell the fear that very little happens for a reason.

When poetry becomes a talisman,
We sometimes call it prayer.
Prayer to an arbitrary god
Determined by the place of our birth.

Where do the children go who see through the ruse,
When they choose to get out before the getting out gets too hard?
Someplace nice, I hope.
Someplace where the stories are true.


Dust gently
On the flat
Of the thick-green pond.

Blue dragonflies
Yellow jackets
And Red-winged
Fly slowly in the heavy air.

Small buzzes
And short sharp trills
The stillness.

The pond is jade
Shaded by giant oaks
And maples
With fiery-red

Every small motion melts
In the humid heat,
A stilled
That every now and then buzzes or trills back to languid life.

The tranquil motion of color, heat, and shaded light
Fills my regret-filled soul
With the blessings of a Mind
Free of any shades of Judgment.

My old body hangs heavy
In the liquid heat
A material
At one with the thingness of things.


She: Push, push, push!
He: It will not move.
She: We are strong.
He: We are weary.
She: It’s somewhere to go.

He: This is the end.
There is nowhere to go.
We are hunted behind
And blocked ahead.

She: Push, push, push again!

The boulder moves…

She: We are in!
He: It is so so dark in here!

They walk in blackness,
Black as blinding light.
They walk in silence.
Two giant owls fly above them silently unseen.

She: We are in a cave’s throat.
He: Walking to its womb.

At last
A dim light
In the distance.

The male eagle owl calls HOO-HOOO.
The female owl calls hoo-hoooo.
But they sound like one:
HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo

And they arrive
At the light
To see drawings
Move on a wall.

It’s a hunt.
Dangerous animals dance in the flickers,
Pursued by stick figures
Keen to kill and to worship.

She: We are here.
He: Where? Where? Where?
She: We are the hunted and this is their hunt.
He: Do the Savannah People want to worship us with their far-flung spears?

She: We had images too
He: Older than theirs.
She: Our hands are on the walls
He: Of time.

She: This is the place to wait.
He: They will come.
She: They will kill us at their altar.
He: We are the last of us,
The last of the People of the Cold.

She sat silently.
Tears dropping from her eyes.
She remembered when they had taken her
And had their way.

A child was born
Something in between
The Savannah People named her “Less than Us”
And drove her mother away.

But before she was cast off
She had snuck in
To name her daughter her people’s way:
HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo.

She knew that the two of them would not be the last,
The People of the Cold would live on inside their foe,
Inside the people who kill at altars,
Altars that echo HOO-hoo, HOOO-hoooo.