Monthly Archives: June 2014

This Week in America…

… condensed into the form of a few American Sentences.


It is time to face the consequences that come from good intentions.

Immigrant children wait in shelters, the call goes out for underwear.

Surprisingly, nine judges agree there is a right to privacy.

The ones who seek to control it all cannot secure one computer.

The real news may be that a lying politician still makes the news.

Biggest game in US soccer history; I am sure I should care.

Findings of climate research seem to depend on who supplied funding.

The high court declares there is no royalty in America, yet.

The populace warm themselves in the heat from the fires of Rome burning.

Amidst the noise of news, no one noticed the politicians smiling.

The last remnants of freedom will be found in a shallow, unmarked grave.



Filed under Poetry

On My Bookshelf

On my bookshelf…

…there is a shelf which holds
nothing but books on religion.
I consider myself neither a preacher
or a disciple, merely one who
seeks the elusive path.

…there is a shelf which holds
nothing but business books.
I consider myself neither successful
or a leader, merely one who
struggles amidst greater dreams.

…there is a shelf which holds
noting but old atlases.
I consider myself neither traveled
nor experienced, merely one who
seeks more than familiar roads.

…there is a shelf which holds
nothing more than history tomes.
I consider myself neither knowledgable
nor learned, merely one who
strives to not repeat mistakes.

…there is a shelf which holds
nothing but poetry and literature.
I consider myself neither a poet
or an author, merely a man who
who searches for words.

…there is a shelf which holds
nothing but pictures of family.
I consider myself the luckiest of men.


Filed under Poetry

For the Children

they will say what they do
is for the children.
The perennial mantra of politicians
who wish to hide their motives
in a pretense of nobility.
What is yours must be taken
so the children can eat.
The government must control the schools
so the children may learn.
Dietary standards must be set, parents are not
trusted with their children’s needs.
Nationalized healthcare is required,
or children will stay ill.
Pro Choice(!) is for…wait…never mind.
We must ban guns from our schools
so no one will come to hurt the children.
It is necessary to increase the budget
so we can leave a legacy for our children.
It is imperative we reduce the deficit
or there will be no future for our children.
Each ideology claims the welfare
of the children to be their goal,
but the pawns are still hungry, sick, dirty,
dying and poor,
stacked like cordwood in desert heat,
kindling waiting for a match.
they will say what they do
is for the children.


Filed under Poetry


This is a repost/revision of an older post for the dVerse family history prompt.

James & Birdie Fortner











It is difficult to tell the difference
between a grandfather and a ‘real
son-of-a-bitch’ in an blurry old
black and white, perhaps impossible
to reconcile man to myth, with years
of stories cluttering memories.

He is vibrant in the photograph,
confident, a man’s man in his
pressed suit and cocked fedora.
It would be easy to romanticize the image;
runnin’ moonshine down back roads
in the trunk of the Hudson — ninety to
nothin’ escapin’ crooked cops.

But that is not how it happened.

Cruel does not show on a polaroid,
controlling and angry are hidden in
still life. There are no pictures of when
his family hid in the apple orchard
waiting for the shooting to stop and the
whiskey to wear off.

I only remember seeing him twice.
Once at a truck stop — Mom would
not tell him where we lived — he gave
me circus peanuts, showed me where

he slept in his rig. The other was a surprise,
he showed up when we were visiting his mother,
Mom was pissed, but he did allow us go to his house,
go through some things, collect a couple of keepsakes.

A relative called, said his dates were on the headstone.
Was there remorse after his wife died
and his children refused to speak to him? Is there regret
for not knowing your grandchildren?

I wonder if he ever cared.
Maybe a bottle by his deathbed
was company enough.


Filed under Poetry


Somewhere along the way one of us
had the idea to record his stories,
there were many we had him tell again
so we would have them on the tape.

There is much to be told from a life spanning
most of the last century, so much that has
happened, so much changed. It was not
the world events that held our attention.

He told of seeing dirigibles over their fields,
a biplane with a torn wing landing on the dirt
road, siblings who never made it to adulthood,
the joy of one toy and fresh fruit at Christmas.

Tales included foreign things such as cabbage
soup and a father working out of town for months
on end, a school with no books and no attendance
requirement when the harvest came in.

We heard of radio programs listened
to by candlelight and homemade clothes
you would wash by hand, the fascination of a first car
and the miracle of electricity and plumbing inside a home.

He paused for a while when we asked about the war,
studied his hands, sat a little taller, before pinning
us with a look we had not seen before. I will tell you,
he said, because I think you should know,

about what it is like to go to war. But, first, turn that
thing off. There are memories I do not wish recorded.
We obeyed, of course, and listened with rapt attention
to every word, felt every fear and shared every shed tear.

Each of us wrote down all we could remember
and later compared our notes,
because there are some things unrecorded
which should never be forgotten.


for the image prompt at Magpie Tales


Filed under Poetry

Courage – on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

There are many quotes on the difference
between courage and bravery: being brave
is an absence of fear, courage is doing
what needs to be done despite your fear.

There were boys bobbing in little metal cans, listening
to the explosions of shells somewhere in front
of them — their destination — and the ping of bullets
against the sides, knowing the door would drop soon.

Fear was rampant in those troop boats, but there
was courage enough, enough to brave the hail of fire
that met them as they hit the water and fought to take
the beach. Most of the first two waves died in the sea.

Those making it onto the sand — uniforms heavy with the weight
of waves of blood — faced a nightmare none then could
imagine and none today can comprehend, advancing into
fierce resistance, advancing inch by inch and life by life.

Heroes were made that day, along with widows and mourning
parents. Victory is what we remember, courage we celebrate,
names and faces remembered only by those who walk among
the white stones to decorate a resting place far from their home.

There was courage aplenty on those French beaches so long ago,
a focus on a common enemy and a justifiable cause. Boys became
men as they fought and watched friends die, witnesses to horrors
they would never reveal and memories they would never betray.

We still revere the courage of the warrior, and praise the value
of their sacrifices, but can find no agreement on their mission.
The speeches of politicians do little to honor the dead, their
very presence an affront to those who gave all for a cause.

We are a shattered people, with divergent views of right, just,
and evil. I shudder at the thought of what terror must be wrought
before a common enemy will again be identified. I fear for a world
where our leaders have neither the bravery nor courage to lead men to war.


Filed under Poetry

Boundless Vanity

The boundless vanity of the poet,
believing their words are sufficient
to tell our experiences;
the glance exchanged in a crowd,
tingle of breath on skin,
last tear of leaving,
baby’s first smile,
life, death.


a reverse etheree for dVerse


Filed under Poetry

Stuck on the American Sentence

We strip the wood from the unused old dock, the ghost will miss the creaking.

Each painter searches for a brush to reveal the palette seen within.

Keep piling bricks in your boat, hoping it will float through another day.

We kill every edifice of freedom, sing as liberty dies.

Focus on the art in the foreground, miss the vision hidden within.

The ropes coil like cobras, hypnotic spirals hanging from the rafters.

One curve of the river can change the water from murky to sparkling.

Wallow in the wanton, forgetting life will always come full circle.

Only dissect the truth if you are prepared for the roil in your soul.


These are for the wordle prompt at Red Wolf.
Each sentence contains the three words selected by each of the hosts.
I got nine of the eleven, could not cope with ‘soda’ and ‘otter’.


Filed under Poetry

Seeds – in the Form of American Sentences

We ignore what is wrong in the hope the person doing it is right.

Ideology replaces reason, the closed mind of partisans.

Life and death become the purview of personal choice and blind justice.

Society always to blame, the person never responsible.

The garden is sowed, seed plentiful, but the soil dry and neglected.

Pilate, drying his hands, was no less responsible than I, or you.


Filed under Poetry