Sunday, December 28, 2008


One wonders how many journeys
Ostensibly of self-discovery and definition
Are intended as such by the searcher
Setting out to become more than he is

Odysseus went to Troy for glory and honor
Then merely wished to return home
To the comforts of Penelope and court
Never the tests of sirens and Scylla

What, ultimately, is discovered
Is no truth he can recognize
But the stranger living within
Unbidden and rarely welcome

The voyage of acceptance
Of what the razor can reveal
Of what the eyes can take in
Of what the heart can sustain.

Monday, December 22, 2008


The holiday comes early If it comes at all
Seen vaguely through a fog
Of Benedryl and ocean-borne snow
The rituals carried out
To keep the old normal in sight
As a new normal covers the world

Symptoms of the new present themselves
Falling snow, falling hair
White on black, stark and definite
The tide beaten back
By the engines of modernity
IV lines and snowblowers

The tree erected haphazardly
The gifts exchanged quickly
A holiday observed self-consciously
Moments of illusory clarity
As lights blink steadily
Vital signs of what we've become

Sunday, December 7, 2008


At 4:15 p.m. on a cloudy Sunday
I sign the lengthy release forms
Skimming through the paragraphs
Finding the parental line
That says I trust them
These well-meaning, well-pierced
Twentysomethings with their abs
And their way about a rock wall

As reluctant holiday shoppers
Move by with aimless purpose
We sidle up to the plastic tower
With its contrived footholds
As real as anything pulsing
Through my veins and glands
As certain to find the mark
As we are to grab the rope

I help my youngest son
Into the harness and climbing shoes
All to release me from worry
To reassure him that nothing
No harm will come to him
That all risked is reward
That fathers and precious sons
And would-be heroes never fall

With 11-year-old nonchalance
And a side glance for reassurance
He pulls on the rope with his all
Planting feet on the first holds
Hearing the spotter urge him on
Straighten the leg...reach
Take a breath and think
Hear your own voice

Two stories up and two thirds there
He can go no further
The next hand grip beyond him
The left knee bent and locked
He asks if he can come down
What do you think?
Another breath, another pause
The left leg straightens

He slaps the top of the pulley
And begins his triumphant slide
A moment to carry us home
Out of the REI store
Down the Pike and 128
Oblivious to snowflakes
And the tailights of the aimless
We see our exit and take it

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Outside the oncologist's window
Eighty feet below my new world
The Charles transforms itself
From a meandering country stream
To a turbid flurry of foam
Sheer rock walls and a tumescent island
Channel the water down the Lower Falls
A small relic of the Industrial era

Cars pass by on Rt. 16 like flies
Passengers oblivious to the turmoil
Staring ahead and rushing
To Starbucks and beyond
The old falls yesterday's news
The building above it
An anonymous box of nothing
But for the turgid cells inside