What the World Needs Now

What the World Needs Now


There’s only one thing lacking,

Anywhere you go.

There’s only one thing missing,

Don’t you know.


Famine and drought and pestilence,

Crime and drugs and need.

Anywhere we look on Earth,

There’s poverty, hunger, and greed.


So many, many problems.

Is there anything to do?

I hold that one solution

Would make the world like new.


If we could love each other,

We’d come up with a way

To fix the other problems.

It might only take a day.


If we had love, respect and love

For people everywhere,

There’d be enough to go around,

For folks would want to share.


What the world needs now

Is love, sweet love.

That’s the only thing

There’s just too little of.






Memories of My Mother

Memories of My Mother


  1. You thought I wouldn’t understand, I guess.

Talking to your friend, Mickey and Joan and I watching.

You said to your friend, “I always said when I grew up

I was going to have five children born two years apart,

and they’re all going to have black hair and blue eyes.”

Then, motioning to us, “And there stand three kids with

brown hair and brown eyes!”

It was my first gut punch.

I was six, maybe seven years old.


  1. Replace that button?

There’s no need.

It’ll never be noticed on a galloping horse.


  1. You were teaching Bible School.

The kids were asking you questions about your life.

You said when Mike was born, you and Daddy

really wanted a boy.

And when Moni was born, you both really wanted a girl.

Pointing at me, they asked “What did you want

when she was born?”

It didn’t matter, you said. You already had one of each.

Later, when I said you had embarrassed me, you asked,

What should I have said?

“You should have said you wanted Me!”

And you scoffed and said, “Oh, Posh Tish!”

And walked away.


  1. I was fourteen. We were driving in the car, you and I.

I remember what street we were on.

We were talking about being safe around men.

I suppose you thought you were giving life advice.

You said you’d rather be killed than raped.

What I heard was that you’d rather I be killed than raped.


  1. When Steve, my second son, was born,

You chortled – yes, chortled is the right word –

and said, “There’ll be a war in twenty years.

Lots of baby boys are being born.”

It went all over me, that you would say,

that I was raising my sons

to die young in a war.

How was that even thinkable to you?

City Birds


Laying seven eggs

in the A of the Walgreen’s sign

City birds get by



Nestled in the rafters

of a high-rise parking garage

City birds still sing



The songs of city birds

Sound every bit as sweet

As on lovely country lanes


The Goose

Once on the Interstate in downtown Atlanta

I saw a goose — a beautiful Canada goose —

trapped against the concrete barrier

that separated North from South.


I saw him in a blur

as I whizzed by at 80.

Alive, terrified, he pressed himself as far

from the traffic as he could.

There were so many cars —

there wasn’t room for him to stand up,

to fly, and he must have been hurt

or he wouldn’t have been there at all.


I think of him still sometimes

though it was years ago now.

I wonder now long it took

for him to die in terror.


All he wanted was

to go back home in Spring.


(from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot)


Let us go then, you and I

when the evening is spread out against the sky,

let us listen to the symphony of frogs

and the rustling song of leaves upon the trees.

Let us revel in the starry Milky Way,

and kneel in dewy grass upon our knees.


Let our glad hearts rejoice at this sweet world,

at fragrant flowers, trailing vines, and touch

with reverent fingers the crimson roses, but not too much.


And let us sit and swing a little while

under the moon’s glad glowing light.

And when the evening starts to chill,

we’ll go inside,

and keep in our hearts

the treasure of this night.


Bad Dream

(Response to Dear Little Self Whose Mother Didn’t Love You)


I called for you one night.

You didn’t come.

I couldn’t come to you

because of the man with a knife

who was in my bedroom door.

He was real enough to me.


I called and called.

At last you came.

You were angry at being awakened.

You let me sleep the rest of the night

with you.

I needed the comfort of your arms,

your voice.

You turned your back to me

and said nothing.


At least the dream-man

couldn’t get me there.


Dear Little Self Whose Mother Did Not Love You

It wasn’t you.

It wasn’t ever you.

You feel so lacking,

so somehow not enough.

Third child of five,

Lost in the crowd.

Invisible, just one more kid.

Stairsteps, I heard us called.

The Smart One, at least.

She did do that for you.

Not The Pretty One.

Not The Artistic One.

But The Smart One.

Hold onto that.

It will serve you well.

Hold on also to your books, little self.

They are your lifeline.

You will grow, little girl.

Know that you are worthy of the world.

Believe in the goodness of your dreams.

She was wrong, little one.

She was wrong.




Yellow blossom.

White seeds with wings.




Dandelion orb

Seeds fly to find fertile ground

Determined to live



They call you a weed.

Telltale yellow face in grass.

Dandelion grin.


Without a map, you can go anywhere,

but you might not want to be there.

With a map, you can choose your destination,

but you might miss lots of treasures on the way.

Without a map, you never know what’s coming —

fair weather or foul, faithful friends or scoundrels,

delicious food or piss-poor cooks.

With a map, you can make reservations,

let them know you’re coming, that you expect the best.

I traveled sixty years without a map.

For my last forty, I’m choosing

where I go,

how I get there,

and whose company I keep.

The Message

What did the serpent whisper

that split the world asunder

in that distant, long-past time?

He chose his words carefully,

knowing that the future mayhem of this planet

depended on the words he spoke.

Clever, diabolical being —

He leaned close to the cave man’s ear

and said the words that would divide

humans throughout history:

“You’re better than them.”