They Really Get You Sometimes


They really get you sometimes
With their smiling eyes and juicy lies
Grooming you to accept crimes
While self-respect and dignity flies.

They really get you sometimes
Designing tricks to absorb your cash
Rubbing wounds with stinging limes
Transforming hope into cold wet ash.

What a diatribe of men
With their smiling eyes and juicy lies
Enticing you to open
While strangling the blossom so it dies.

Gestures of love: simple mimes
Sweet talk and promises only serve
Grooming you to accept crimes
Disguised as acts of passion and nerve.

They really get you sometimes
With their smiling eyes and juicy lies
Grooming you to accept crimes
While self-respect and dignity flies.

Fragments of Ocean Memories


Dabbling in the surf with an baby-sized insta-friend
A wave too small to boogie board
Tumbles us.
Sand in my eyes and nose.
Salt broth duking it out with oxygen
Battling for trachea space.
I can’t find up or down.
Insta-friend gurgles and gasps.
Death, as it applies to me, is a brand new thought.
I’m only three.
But here He looms, instantaneous, implacable, incredible.
Mom’s at home, Dad’s surfing, I’m still wave-tossed and
Who finds my body?
I see my spot in the van ride home
(perched on the engine cover between the front seats)
Empty. But even without me chirping all the way home, Dad still won’t have
Time to figure out how to tell Mom about my tiny, sodden, limp
I find up, manage a gasp, open my eyes.
I see Death reaching down for me, a silhouette of terror.
He lifts me out of the water, one-handed.
In the other paw, Insta-friend dangles by the scruff next to a
Surfboard Death clenches with his armpit.
Death isn’t death.
He plops us on the sand, shifting the board and grinning.
He walks away.
No new rules, no warnings, no questions about our folks.
He handed me back my life, and now
My life is in my hands.


Scrabbling the coastal boulders and tidepools
Racing across jumping tip to craggy dip
Across chasms large enough to
Snap a femur or
Lose a body
I fly where adults won’t walk
To child-sized worlds in
Pocked rocks
Each with waves and light
Denizens feeding and sleeping
Living and dying
Our differences are just a matter of


Body-surfing every week for years,
A nearby seal joins us each time.
She may think we are retarded seals who
Need looking after.


Decades in this water on this beach
Decades on the mat
The water is high
But I know how,
When a wave is too big to ride, to
Dive deep and lay flat on the sand
Waiting for the wave to pass over.
I know this challenge, I’m practiced, I’m good
(Better than many), I’m safe.
I stroke up a rising wave, ready to
Slide in just past the crest and
Flip into the joyride.

Cresting, I freeze and miss the wave.
The next in the set
One of those odd waves with a double amplitude is

I gulp air, diving down into the sand
Seawater tugs me deeper in that
Retrograde way waves wander
And though I’m pressed like a flounder, this wave doesn’t
Want to leave a safe zone, so she
Seizes my feet and curls herself into shore.
With the weight of the water, I’m pinned.
She lifts my legs into her curl, squashes my chest.
My back folds inexorably.
My heels touch the back of my head.
I can feel the bones in my spine
Opening on the ventral side and
Dorsally grinding, reaching fracture pressure.
The wave passes.
I crawl to shore, grateful the punishment for
Hubris was just a warning.

The ocean gives everything.
The ocean takes everything away.

A roomful of faces lined up in rows


That girl,
No you missed her,
That girl.
Too old to be sounding out “monkey”
Too old to spell it with a q.
Much too old to need her fingers to add.
Her clothes stink,
Her butt crack sticks out,
Her burgeoning body is more than naked
Seen through that threadbare shirt.
She yearns for a home she can’t imagine.
She doesn’t know
We don’t all watch our baby sisters till bedtime so
Stepdad can work on getting mom and grandma pregnant
So mom, when it isn’t her turn, can cook that
Meth, pay rent, and make her daughter’s rags smell like cat piss.
So grandma, when it isn’t her turn, can teach the girl about
Blowjobs and weed and how to shoot an ounce of vodka like a
Tired ugly hooker.
Somebody told her school would make it better so
There she is, sounding out “monkey” and spelling it with a “q”.
I give her string for her pants, a clean shirt for the stink, and say,
“M. O. N. K. E. Y.”


That boy in the corner rocking and groaning, staring at the online test?
The one who punched an aide last week for no reason?
His brain broke when he was 4.
There’s a word for it, something pithy and easy to say.
But living it?
He understands everything but
Can barely talk or make much eye contact or control his hands when he’s excited
(Sometimes the other boys remind him quietly to get his
Fingers out of his fly)
He can read and write and draw and count when he isn’t
Overwhelmed because his socks itch and the dust falling through the air
Glitters in a shaft of sunlight and Ricky is picking his nose in the back row and
Ericka is hugging herself and smelling her shirt and Sam has
Paper claws he’s hiding in his desk and the texture of his book is indented with inkless writing almost legible after all these years that might say Tine loves Alien and the memory of punching that lady who told him no eighteen times bites him like a
Fire ant up his pants.
So I take him someplace quiet and say I don’t care if he passes the test; I just want to see an honest try.

He says the only sentence I will ever hear from him:
“I love you.”
When he can’t see me, I cry.

This, this is my yearning for justice.



On the mat, they say
Use your earth energy
Flow like water
Light as air
Bright, bright fiery motion.

Every beginner hears it.
Minds fill with images,
Bodies practice rote strength,
Spirits amuse themselves
While the minds and bodies
Go their separate ways
Trying to integrate.

The path from beginner to master
Is earthy. Grit in the teeth, in the eyes.
Pressed against the ground,
Staying down an extra second for the rest,
Gasping. Walking the woods alone, carrying
Weapons, blistered, unseen, sweating.
Scrabbling up a slope on all fours,
Bowing in to a distant mountain top,
Listening to her silence and steadiness
Transform an asinine thought into

Immersed in the ocean,
Survival demands the
End of ideas about water.
The work of
Exorcises thoughts.
The body is flotsam in the flow.
Only alignment is life.
To think is to thrash and tire,
To tumble then crash,
Breathless on the bloody sand.

On the mat, those little puffs of air thought are
Toddlers blowing on birthday cakes.
Standing in sirocco,
Lifting off my feet
Watching bits of the roof fly away
Finding I can’t lift my own arm,
Much less that weapon, until I
Surrender to air,
Move within motion,
Slice with the gusts

Don’t get me started on fire.
That little blowtorch in your head is
Barely a spark.
Sunshine is fire.
Sunshine is life:
Free for all, no
Judgement or evaluation.
When that fire suffuses my body
My smile can stop a bus.

Body, mind, and soul together
Conduct these energies.
A master on the mat
Feels the mountain under her feet
Borrows slow inexorable motion as she
Slides between the waves of attacking motion
Turns a tornado behind him, into which he and his attack
Vanish while they
Laugh together
Happily polishing their spirits.

Looking 24 hours square in the eye

I’m a lifetime artist living in a tiny town near the wilderness in Arizona. Besides poetry, I create novels, plays, photographs, videos, essays, martial arts, jewelry, sculpture, gardens, pools, songs, trained dogs, satisfied spirits, insanely good apple pie, intimidated dates, empowered students, entertained family, devoted friendships, and a home environment that always needs more cleaning.

The Poetry Marathon interests me because I’ve regularly done 12 to 36 hour driving, studying, traveling, and martial arts. I’ve been writing poetry all my life. This instant I’m finding ways to make the transition from day-job-dominated artist to full-time artist. This marathon marks that beginning by both doing the writing and publishing it immediately. I love a truly challenging task, and I love to find what I learn about myself when I try. Plus new friends and poetry? Bonus.