Some of My Closets (Poem 12)

Some of My Closets   (Poem 12)


Jewish kid who just wanted to fit in like probably every other kid.

Philly streets of cement, priest telling my friends not to play with me.

Nuns kicking me out of the gym for obvious reasons.

Why did I have to be different?

My closet thought was, Why can’t we be like everyone else?


Being a pre-dental student in college was to keep me from getting drafted

until I could come out of the closet when a safe draft lottery number made

we immune to the draft. Any real desire to be a dentist disappeared in

about a half second or less. A college art teacher had looked me in the eye

and asked if I really wanted to be a dentist. I lied to both her and myself by

answering yes.


Then opening a chiropractic office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – infamous for the

Aryan Nations White Supremacists put me back in my original closet. “Schwartz,

is that German Doc?” was a common question. My true but elusive answer was

that it’s Russian (now Ukrainian and Lithuanian). But Jews were murdered there

for their religion and thus my grandfather came here alone as a teen.


And after all those years of hiding, I no longer have any skin in the game and so

it’s with great pleasure that I make it a point to always tell the truth. And maybe I

pretend to myself that I always did. Or if I don’t for some reason, I’m an expert at

telling enough of a half-truth that no one notices but me.


I notice that my clothes closet is always neat and clean with color coded clothes.

Maybe I want that because I’ve spent so much time in there.






Extraordinary Ordinary (Poem 11)

Extraordinarily Ordinary


What I used to do as a chiropractor

seemed like an ordinary mechanical action.

Something or things were out of place,

put them back where they should be.


Sometimes I heard medical doctors speak

disparagingly at what we did and say that

the laying on of hands might have some effect

as if the rest meant nothing.


When I started practice I thought my technique

was ninety percent of what I did and was very

diligent at being the best that I could be.


Lessons came flooding in the first few years.

The time I really wanted someone with sciatica

to get better and started getting sciatica myself.

The lesson was to do my best but not be attached

to the results, not take it on.


There were the many times I was getting behind on

my schedule but had to realize that what I did was too

important to rush. And old Amish saying always popped

(pun intended) into my mind in those times, “The faster

I go the behinder I get.” So I slowed down to speed up.


One time I came to treat a patient after I had an upsetting phone

discussion with an insurance person about a different

patient. She said to me, “What did I do?”


The time I was frustrated by a patient who wasn’t getting better

and asked her if she really wanted to get better. She said yes but the

next time in admitted she looked inward and agreed that she really

didn’t want to…and then started getting better.


Not everyone got better, but I can now say with certainty

that I tried my best with every patient I ever treated. And the

ninety percent technique that I started out thinking the case,

became fifty one percent intent by the time I retired.


I learned that caring is the heart of this life

and I’ve learned that carries over to everything.


What is Love?

What is Love?       (Poem 10)


love love love love

love is all you need

love is all you need (Beatles)


When I consider love, I think they were right.

I think the most important love is for ourselves

because we project how we feel onto others.


How we feel is how we act.

If we feel mad and angry, we treat others

that way. But the reverse is also true.


If we want to love someone else

we need to first love ourselves.


This goes beyond carnal love into loving our home, our garden

and our neighbors and their neighbors and the next town and country.


Which brings up a directive that seems obvious: If you’re angry don’t act.

If you feel love consider acting but not always…gotta be discriminate.


But love is also little things

like Colleen laughing when I pretended

to be a big awkward bird flapping his wings

when I snuck up near her at lunch today.


Or thanking me for compromising and changing the

way we pack things and the floor matt configuration

in our campervan.


And sending the email to a mutual friend that neither of us

wanted to do while I was busy writing poems.


Love is being able to be comfortable when you let down your

guard and are the person that very few outsiders get to see.


Love is also being able to be still with each other and being

comfortable in silence.


1973    (Poem 9)


City kid in town of 250 in central Washington

in the shadow of Mt Adams, standing tall to

the westand openness in every other direction that

makes me feel like I can see into tomorrow.


Carport next door sends a tremor through me

as my neighbor stands under one small

electric lightbulb hanging from a cord,

cinnamon colored jacket, admiring

his elk that hangs from a hook

bucket full of its blood.


And everything I’ve known becomes

history as I survey my new surroundings

on the Yakama Indian Reservation,

only teacher that lives in town.


I was hired the day before school started.

A couple weeks earlier had been interviewed

after sleeping next to what I later found was the dump

and put on the sports coat and tie my uncle had given me

that was the job interview attire for both myself and my friends.


Colleen and friend Mike slept out with me and went to

the Wagon Wheel Café while I interviewed. Mike almost got

in a fight because they were charged for his coffee refill.


No doubt whomever was originally hired for my job

found something else at the last minute and it got passed

on to me. I was so clueless that I sat in the back yard of the

small house that the principal directed me to the first night,

overwhelmed by differentness and smoked a joint in this

town where everyone knew everything about everyone else.


But I was just a naïve city kid who’s experience in the world

of small towns was mostly limited to what I found hitchhiking west.

I tried to have my older Native American aide teach the rich knowledge

of their culture she knew to the kids but the administration said no.


After this year I decided to pitch a tipi on Orcas Island and ask the

Universe to provide me a new life direction, which I am so thankful it did.

All My Friends

All My Friends


All my friends have taught me something,

maybe I’ve taught them something as well

as if life has reason

beyond what I think.


Pulling the curtain from here and now

I see gossamer threads

that patch together

into a rich landscape


with a circularity that never

wants for expression

and screams if I listen

that all is related

nothing is random


as if everything I do

means the world

and comes back to me

just like I come back to it.


A Thousand Suns

A Thousand Suns (Poem 7)



The brilliance of a thousand suns reflects from all that I have done.

The hummingbirds upon a limb, the maples planted one by one.

Metal shovels dug the pond before we built our home

Blueberry patch in lower 40, whose fruit supports my roam


I try to touch spirits with those that I see, hoping it says that they’re second to none.

The brilliance of a thousand suns reflects from all that I have done.

A little thing that may not seem like much

But trying to help another can be sprinkling pixie dust.


Once I had plans for all that I did in logic that my mind had spun

And the thoughts and the details felt shot from a gun

The brilliance of a thousand suns reflects from all that I have done.

With results leaving me feeling like I’ve been stunned


I ponder the life that till now I’ve lived

Knowing my spirit is sometimes contrived

I search for a countenance that I hope is finespun because

The brilliance of a thousand suns reflects from all that I have done.











Take for Granted

Take for Granted   (Poem 6)


there’s a lot that we


like social media

farmers markets in summer

the sun coming up in the east

and setting in the west


but what if these assumptions

and a lot of other ones

were false?


could it be that our lives

and all the complexities

of this planet are just

constructs of a third grader

who made a terrarium

on planet Xymtrador

in solar system Piscrimidin?


On another day he might

have made the earth flat

while making us the same as now…


Well…permit me to jump into this possibility

and peek over the edge to see what is there…


I’ll be the scout and report what I see:

The other planets are the same as the round versions

but they look like interstellar frying pans.


The stars are too far to tell, but it seems they’re

less pointy and the light from them doesn’t twinkle so much


and if I look beyond the stars…way, way far away

farther than one would guess you can look

there seems to be a shrouded round childish face

and yes, if I look in just the right way

I can see him better…and it looks like he’s laughing.


Puppeteers  (Poem 5)



suspicious muddy boot prints

brazenly left and obviously

meant to be seem

unless the perpetrator

wanted to throw us off

the track of what’s really the score


or maybe it was someone

so oblivious that they

were just bumbling into

another heist or maybe

their first one since being

so clueless you’d think they’d be caught


or maybe this is a metaphor

and our lives are that house


and we are pawns in the game

of those pulling the strings

of puppets we vote into office

and buy our stuff from


that don’t make it that hard

to see their boot prints

all over the labor we’ve

done to try to create

what we think as a better

life as they pull the strings

tighter and we can almost

feel our limbs constrict

while forces we can’t control

tell us what to do.



The Nest

The Nest



Is it really any different

than swallows making a nest?


the huge life altering decisions

made in a heartbeat

as well as the insignificant ones

that we pondered forever


straw intertwined in the unique

way that reflects the two of us


our life is mostly made of

little things like tea in the morning

stereotypical me reading the paper

stereotypical her reading a book


with a backdrop of hummingbirds

buzzing to and from the feeders,

neighbors mowing their lawns

sprinklers on Sunday and Thursday


Some encounters we’ve had

bring floods of imagery

no one else would know


just saying someone’s name

might bring a laugh or shudder

about someone once so big

that no one else would know


the nest stood strong

through wind and storm

and at times

parts of it blew away

to be patched in a new way


and the things…

stories in everything

a lot of stuff much more than stuff

but no one else would ever know


There’s plastic fruit in a glass container

in the entry to our house that was my mother’s

and she’s who I see when I look at it


There is art and clothes and plants

in which we each see the other

that richly fills our space


A house, garden and life

that are pieces of straw

uniquely put together

in such a way that

only the two of us

could ever

have done.






I’ve been caught, a flopping fish on Stearns Pier – sunny day, trying to keep up with tech

which smells like a mackerel on a dock in hot sun.

This looks fishy


I know it sounds like I’m complaining

knowing that hooks from the money guys are making these

keyboard keys feel like psychic shocks as I type them…ouch!


Mark Elan Zuckerberg Musky smells are coming from Silicon Valley

but the gourmet food being offered tastes like sauerkraut.


Ebeneezer Tech has got hot eyes for your wife

on this raging river of computerdom.


money motivated mongrels hiding in the keys smell like old big eyed bass

in the fridge and feel like mushy potatoes full of shards of glass


But maybe tech is its own flopping fish that should try to keep up with me

perhaps I should let tech be Darth Vader take over from my big baby

Yet, I am fed constant deceit on computers and the world would be much better without them.


a good ol’ Apple II GS computer is an apple of my eye

She and I can figure it all out and merge to become Harv the computer whiz


flowery techno daisy


It’s really easy to figure all this stuff out if I surrender to my inner Yoda

just say oy veh which amazingly slays the dragon that heats these keyboard squares


but that dragon speaks in tongues that somehow make sense

to the masses who oddly speak the same language


While all l I see on my computer screen are dollar signs that twist and turn like a 300 pound contortionist trying to wiggle out of a phone booth.






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