Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Campfire

the campfire is everything 
the ring of flames
bring tranquility
to the unease 
of modern life 
worries melt
fears burn away
flickers of humanity return
the children poke sticks
the adults stir the embers
we all live and die 
by fire in some form
but the campfire 
the campfire is everything 

[poem #30 for April! National poetry month.]

Friday, April 29, 2016

Helena Spector, Doctor of Philosophy of Cookies

she taught them to love writing
one kind cookie at a time 
carried thousands of bags of Chips Ahoy
to class each day
sentences by sugar
commas by chocolate 
she made paragraphs palatable

she taught them to transform
one idea morsel at a time
into something lasting
something important
something yummy

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Teacher of the Fishermen

you can give a man a fish
or teach a man to fish
but you cannot teach
a man to teach

the fisherman who first 
shared the magic 
of the line 
lured the fish
another watched 
then tried  
taught herself 
tied the knot
set the hook

then she taught
her son to fish
a daughter watched
then tried

the brother learned to fish
the daughter became 
the teacher of the fishermen
who would learn 
for a lifetime

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Forecast for Tears

mostly scattered
partly clear
turning to light
heavy at times
developing later
beginning earlier
morning, mid-morning
in the day
the afternoon
throughout the night
mist, drizzle
torrential downpour
more of the same tomorrow 
with a few breaks
here and there
then sun

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

This Is For You

Dear ____________,

This is for you 
I wish it were ________
that I could drop everything
to be there _____ for you now and

knowing that you are ______
makes me ________ inside

I would ____ for you
and ______ to take
away your ________.

But there are no words
to fill in the ________

So instead I do 
the only thing I know
and write these three words
________ _________ _______

_______ yours,


Monday, April 25, 2016

Vacation Destination: Chernobyl

about the night before
the meltdown 

a ride on the Ferris wheel 
the bumper cars colliding
sundown and 
Reactor 4 is fine

is the thirty year memory
of the night before
seared like a tree shadow
against a barn 
in the flash, then gone?

do the tourists
who enter the Exclusion Zone
to see the mutated catfish
patrolling the cooling ponds
only hope to spot a radioactive wolf?

or do they even wonder
what tomorrow will bring? 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

green grass, bad seeds, and rotten apples

bad seeds
sprout into bad plants
watered by liquor and lead
instead of sunshine and love

rotten apples 
roll down hill 
falling from the tree 
lumped and bruised

the grass 
always greener
when divided by light 
and darkness exists mid-day

Friday, April 22, 2016

Weighting Room

white noise behind Mozart
silver wine-rack holding only
rolled magazines 
check-in window
check-out window
chairs and couches
potted plants
random unmatched frames:
a painted fish, stain glass 
best of awards and evacuation plans

in the corner a kids area, empty
strange colorful bead and wire
contraption, toys, books

all of this is waiting
we check in
we check out
we wait
for good news
and bad

and wait, wait, wait
sometimes the weight
is unbearable 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April Leaves

April and our trees have leaves
winter never leaves, she never came
leaving us a dry brown world 
in history's leaves, we know
the ice recedes, scars left
leaving all of us to wonder
what is left or right
or leave well enough alone
leave us to our own devices
to turn over a new leaf

When Stars Die

I cannot with doves cry
why, you ask and I
lie, as I 
try to avert my 
eye, avoid a sigh
dry the mouth goes, shy
spy purple laden clouds in the sky
high drinking rye
buy another good bye
by and by
my loved ones with yours die

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apps for Everything

apps for dating, rating, mating
for baby naming, gaming
pet taming
spelling, selling, body part swelling 

apps for love and sexting 
and secretly texting
apps to track, hack, and Trivia Crack

apps it seems for everything 
but empathy, 
and what a pity
no app yet to save humanity

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Game

teach them to play 
with passion and joy
teamwork and toughness 
when to lead or follow
win even when losing
miss and try again
learn from loss
don't play for the whistle 

remind them this 
the goal is meant to be
something to leap towards
the clock counts down 
from the first time they play
until the final buzzer

Monday, April 18, 2016

Like Riding a Bike

like riding a bike, they say
but what about the first time
when age is one part balance 
and two parts fear and freedom
what is that like riding?
a bull? a rocket? 

like riding a bike, they say
but what about the last time
when age provides no freedom
from fear of balance
what is that like riding?
a bear? a dragon? 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

the weight of the immeasurable

the human heart 

blood by the liter
liters of wine by the gallon
gallons of oil by the barrel
barrels of gold by the ounce
ounces of diamonds by the carat
carrots by the pound
pounding heart by beats per minute
in love and
love by no measurable means

Saturday, April 16, 2016


it's history, but
how can history be
the judge 
if history is written by 
the victors
and doomed to repeat history
the ones who don't learn

we're history
they're history
I'm history

the annals, the halls
the footsteps, the echoes
the ghosts, the mysteries 

history is herstory
mystory, yourstory

history forgotten
history rewritten
revised, glamorized
romanticized, eulogized


is boring is exciting
is bloody
is dead white guys
is written in blood
dates names dates names
dusty, rusty, musty

can't rewrite 
can't rewind

history is
will be



Friday, April 15, 2016

Political Popcorn

heat on high
simmer and sizzle
tension turns to turbulence
single eruptions at first, then
kernels of chaos 
explosions in unison 
tumult to timid rumble
threes and twos 
isolated bursts
heat reduced
soon silence 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Say to the Monsters

he wakes in terror
the scare has him shaking
the dark his eyes scan
can I sleep in his bed
said another hug please
these stuffed animals live
give them away 
stay, for a minute and do
you have scary dreams?
screams out again
they won't stop scaring me
see the black on the wall?

call out again and I'll be mad
sad that I said that, but 
cut out the crying
trying, I tell him, you
do what I do, again
when you dream, you may
say to the monsters
go away

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Fill in the Blank Legislation"

Don Rearden, UAA Faculty sporting the newest in SeaWolf Body Armor!

 "Fill in the Blank Legislation" (A poem dedicated to Pete Kelly and his fill in the blank ALEC Legislation to allow concealed guns on Alaska campuses.)

_____ began wearing the body armor after our _______ legislators
introduced a piece of _____ bill to allow ______ on campus

students, faculty, and staff began to carry _______
_____ were told the _____ were for our own _______

____ worried a ________ or ______ upset about _______
would walk into class with a _______ and _________

then everyone carrying a ______ would _______
when the police arrived they wouldn't know who was _______

with the body armor ______ felt ________
no one was _______

______ protected the ______ amendment
but not the __________

the university had become a place of _______
________ future _______

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Equal Work, Equal Pay

her precious little head
tilts five degrees to the left
torticollis by diagnosis
a rare condition
according to the physical therapist
my daughter's neck muscles contract
forcing her head to twist

this and more
we will work to address
so that when the day comes
for her first successful interview 
my beautiful girl
won't have her head askew
when they make the offer

Monday, April 11, 2016

Discovery on the Beach

a relic in paradise
and he insists
on picking up 
pushing digits
pretends to talk 

I want to call
for real, he says

it's a pay phone
I say
you need money to call 
and, not a toy

who uses this?
and why, he asks
does everything always
take money?
I just want to say hi  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Best Big Brother Ever

I'm quite sure I thought
my two sisters would tell you
they had the best big brother
in the history of big brothers

I was a hard act to follow
so cute and smart
attentive and perfect
my parents didn't 
have to even say how great
because it was clear
no bed time for me
the kid who put himself
to bed and never talked back
not once raised his voice, or needed
to be told twice

and the list goes on
best as a baby, best grades
and first to this and that

all that being amazing took a toll
one day --- perhaps because
I was so smart ---

I realized this:

I wasn't so great 
after all, and in all my time spent
being the best, I missed my
chance to be the brother
they needed and wanted
not the one they were stuck with

Of course today
I've repaired the damage
and if you asked 
they would tell you 
they have the best big brother 
and maybe even mean it 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Guns in the English Classroom

Monday we discussed fragments
 a Glock in my pocket 

Tuesday was all commas
.44 on hip, .38 ankle, and .357
in a shoulder holster

Wednesday dangling participles
carrying a revolver on my hip

Thursday misplaced modifiers
packed a semi-auto with a smile

Friday was two, to, too
took two assault rifles to class, too

Friday, April 8, 2016

Death by Social Media 3.0

he needed an update
he'd watched his Prime expire
all the GoodReads were no longer Tinder for his Kindle Fire
Pandora was open
he didn't have the emoticon
to Kickstart his iLife
he shared no Words with Friends
not even a PayPal
all sense of eHarmony was gone
not even Shazam or Alibaba 
could save what was left
of his Google Earth

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The End

I've thought too much 
about the world ending
how it would be scary
but exciting in a way
no need to worry
about insurance or retirement
stylish clothing, appearance, or weight 

no longer living to work
instead working to live 
each moment counting 
relationships all that matter

then comes the crushing reality
the end means unbearable loss
in ways I know I cannot fathom 

and there is this, too
there would be no need or time
for writing or story telling 
not at first anyway,
and that is an end 
I want no part of

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

School Safety Solutions

Bulletproof School Safety Protective Gear
From "Bullet Blocker"

"School Safety Solutions"

school shopping in the fall wasn't the same
of course, the prices were higher
that was a given

but everyone was pleased, surprised even
with the selection
colors and styles
logos from favorite teams
brand names, almost cool

the jackets came in denim, leather, and fleece!
a few girls complained the skirts were too long
mothers appreciated the extra protection
fathers, the extra coverage

there were other options, too
"school safety solutions"
book bags, backpacks, three ringed
bullet-proof binders

no one brought up helmets
perhaps those would be on
the required list
next year

(A poem in response to SB 174, a half-baked piece of Alaskan legislation to allow guns to be carried on campuses. Get your bullet proof gear here: )

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

About The Trump, Or Crash the Fish Fry --- A poem by Sarah Palin (Sort Of)

[The following is "found" poetry from Sarah Palin's Speech in Wisconsin April 4th, 2016]

 About The Trump, Or Crash the Fish Fry --- A poem by Sarah Palin (Sort Of)

I’m walking dead, and cold
green and gold, green and gold
paraphernalia everywhere, my dad’s cave
three core issues, all the guys running
the political class betray us
so much an expression of will, an ATM for their wallets
competition is so good

And they’re really shaken right now

don’t know what to do about the Trump

train, about the momentum, the movement
They don’t know what to do 
they’re shaken, and this awesome awakening and shifting and sifting
exposing this rabid bite, hang on to their gravy
it’s a very healthy cleansing of the body

heal the body, save our nation. 

See, the connected crony capitalists, profit suffer profit suffer
reckless cost
 treasure America’s daughters in uniform. 

three issues. 

immigrants, more and more
the border, of course, every single day. 
with Washington so destabilized
 the middle class crowding at the scale. 
kicked away
the ladder stability, a disaster
for we the people
big things
they like to let their chosen one, or chosen ones get away with betrayals

inducing and seducing them with gift baskets
teddy bears and soccer balls
inviting more. 

trade the loss of our modern civilization for shame
politicians, the greatest manufacturing known to man. 
right under our noses
political incompetence, corruption nonsensical 
laugh all the way to the bank 

the art of the deal. 
how our middle class disappears.
Cheating, scare people. talking about threats

we lose the American

most exceptional Politicians create a warped and dangerous road
trade, fundamentally transform America
into something we don’t recognize
kids grandkids they’ll never know
God creates us in order to work

thank God not someone who understands Ronald Reagan
Reagan saved the hog
Reagan saved that. He saved Japanese motorcycles to combat
the semiconductor
Shoot the establishment
start a new movement – #NeverReagan.

number one priority 
only one candidate piece-meal together some reckless nation-building scheme
it’s our military that keeps us free
peace-loving, generous Americans, are the infidels and must die well,

only Trump talks rationally about listening
as president and hiring the best of the best to work
with those who share the Islamic threat with strong, strong engaged extremists
unleash terror here.
And laugh at, friends. 

common sense stuff
campaigns that only
You deserve
It’s funny but not really.

Mr. Trump’s personally responsible for policies that actually cost American lives
and trillions of dollars.
Gen. George Patton said it best “Politicians are the lowest form of life on Earth.”
He said save our nation.
Remember the end of the line here.
save the nation.
And it’s going to take love
we love our own families.
So, yes, Be civil. Donald J. Trump, and crash your fish fry platform
It will save our sovereignty.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Coup Counts --- for Chief Joe Medicine Crow

a single yellow feather 
beneath his Army helmet
a Crow behind Nazi lines 
counted coup on the enemy
sent hooves of fifty German horses
pounding off into the night

one hundred and three winters wise

a great uncle, White Man Runs Him, who witnessed the chaos 
people bathing in the Little Big Horn
then the cry of battle 
women and children fleeing north
the camp beset with terror
history books forever distorted 

they would stand for no more
the last of the great chiefs
made and killed, made and killed

now we are told again
the last of the great Chiefs are dead
as if the battle is finally over
and coup no longer counts

but let Chief Medicine Crow
take his long walk
let his words live
and know there is a young
Crow warrior somewhere
perhaps a great nephew 
who will sneak into our enemy's camp
and steal their horses

teach us all again
what it means to be a chief

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Again, Make America Great

My son hears a man yelling
And turns to me, only a
Kid, and he asks in
Earnest, is that Donald Trump?

And I laugh, but later
My heart hurts.
Every child in our country, being 
Raised hearing that tone
Is learning it's okay to yell,
Cajole, cuss, dismiss, bully
And call names.

Gentle discourse
Respect for others 
Erudite, articulate, and
Asking for forgiveness 
This I try to teach my son

And yet, we have
Given a voice to fear
Allowed yelling to replace
Intelligence and suddenly I see
No longer are we great. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Chains on the Tree Of Life

long ago we broke the links
connecting us to everything 
found freedom in chains
conscience in captivity
man, beast, food --- confined
control created confidence
future fitted for shackles

today we repair the links
connecting us to everything 
captivity in conscience
confidence created control
confined --- man, beast, food
fitted for future shackles
freedom found in chains

[Day#2 National Poetry Month]

Friday, April 1, 2016

Crocodile Killing Walrus

 (Photo of Yup'ik Carving of Palraiyuk)

I believed the photo 

a crocodile on an Alaskan beach
a hundred walrus hauled out
crowded in fear
the soft belly of one
flayed, contents spilled
foreign track to us in the sand
reptilian, new and ancient 
all at once

I believed because I heard 
the stories
saw the artifacts
painted creatures on kayaks
carved heads of monsters
crocodile, alligator, sinister
something not of this land
by a people of this land

they were not fools
10,000 years ago
this beast swam
while mammoth walked the shores

today, I was the fool 

I believed

but only because I wanted
what we all want 
the monsters 
to some times not
be only human

(Togiak Wildlife April Fools photo of Croc dining on a walrus!)