Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chimpanzee Has Got To Go

However cute chimpanzees look
when they are young and helpless
be wary of keeping them too long

they can become angry in time
consuming more than their share
creating chaos and upset

swinging from the chandelier
tossing dishes in the air
never becoming independent

even though their smile is sweet
they need a jungle to roam in
finding their own tree to swing from

let them vanish out the door
making a home with others like themselves
go little chimp, time to be set free. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

People Missing in Life

Happy family photo sitting
on the mantel
where the future unfurls
potential for everything
in each smile
anxious to get started
with independent living
but one by one the reaper
reaps, taking souls
to that place beyond
while the others weep
at the loss of love
a gaping hole where
others stood
forever changing life
like when dad asked us
to stand in line 

for a spanking 
waiting for the strike
left us anxious and crying
missing the love
that held us together
tumbling into
a chronic ache. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Splatter Paint

Replicating nature is seen as art
but in many minds it is plagiarism
copying from the Master
better to be inspired by his work
to tell a story or to give another point of view.

A young boy, danced
while he flung colors all around
then in black ink, carved images of his
family who stared out so somberly.

He wanted his work to dance
like he did while he worked
but was startled at the stillness
of his original pieces.

He realized the stilted look
came through his religion
and family traditions
all the suffering and loss
ingrained in the very fabric
of his life casting
shadows on his happiness.

He tried once again by using
his canvas as a back drop
for live performances
where painted dancers
came to life and danced
demonstrating in real time
how he felt while he painted
his work hit a nerve and he became
famous for a little while until he lost
his joy with the death of his mother.

The next pieces he created were dark
like his soul as he worked out the grief
revealing his pain but like the pictures of joy
these were also still, did not reveal the level
of his anguish or the depth of his wound
his fans deserted him
not wanting to see him spill his guts
staying away while he exposed his anger 
violent and red
frightening and brutal 

but now it is all a part of his body of work
telling the larger story of his journey
as an artist they are arranged in a book

he has settled into painting realism
plagiarizing the work of the Master.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Paris in September

Rain on a street, a cliché for painters
using misty muted colors hiding the buildings
wetting the street with soft reflections

dabs of colors on umbrellas and trench coats
pedestrians of tourists and locals
huddled in clusters by street lights and lampposts

 “La vie en rose”, playing on the intercom
along with the hiss and splash
of traffic on the cobblestones.

French pastries and freshly brewed coffee
mix in the atmosphere causing stomachs to growl
quick stops at favorite shops
windows dripping, steamy and inviting

with warm lights and bright conversations
mixed with perfume and sweat from morning runs
gusts of cold from the outdoor

flowing back on to the street
to new destination more memories
evoked by a painting, “ Paris in September.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


A gesture is the key to being an artist model
holding a pose for several minutes
sometimes adorned in an elaborate costume

other times standing with nothing more than a rose
under controlled lighting and climate conditions
while artists sketch or paint to capture the pose

using their own talent to tell a story
while the model stands or sits upon a platform
frozen in body but not in mind
dropping eyes to avoid contact

lipstick a dark red with blue shadow above her lids
the color of her eyes hidden under thick lashes
and only a slight smile so her teeth won’t show
a Mona Lisa for another generation. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pancake House in the A.M.

She was flushed from the last minute rush
running back to get her telephone
slipping it into her purse then
plopping in the passenger seat

leaning across the for a quick kiss
then giggling about the confusion
explaining she spilled the milk and had to clean-up
not wanting to leave a mess for her roommate.

I could see her skin above her jeans
more of a bulge never seen on her slim figure,
she pulled at her top to cover it self-conscious

at the changes, she was working too many hours
eating out too often with friends,
choosing fast food instead of her regular fare

her nails broken and unpolished
her jeans ripped strategically
revealing her inner leg and upper thigh
but overall she seemed content.

How was the boyfriend I asked,
Good she replied with a smile and sighed
telling about his adventures in Hollywood
gone too many hours but the money was good

was coming home this weekend, she persuaded
her roommate to take an overnight trip
so they could have the whole house uninterrupted

she planned a candlelight dinner
cooking his favorite foods
with a bottle of wine and exotic desert
but needed to get her hair and nails done

the house was clean, she had a new perfume.
The words tumbled as she told of her plans
her eyes aglow at the evening she imagined
anxious to be back in his arms.

Then she stopped to look at me and asked,
“How have you been?”
My details were hardly as interesting, so I summarized
and returned the conversation to her.

We pulled into the local diner for breakfast
I ordered eggs she ordered pancakes
and we talked until a quarter pass ten.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Painting Conversations

Books build stories through conversations
because in the spoken word, the story unfolds,
linking lives through sentence fragments
body language, shows without telling, 

reactions and relationships. 

Painters have grabbed their brushes to explore
settings where conversations occur; in the mall,
at a sidewalk café, in a museum or local bar
all portrayed with subdued lighting,
clusters of people sharing 
their stories in a public setting. 

Faces seen from far away, composites created
using several pictures then deciding on a central focus
arranging everyone, choosing poses to fit the larger story

in the center of familiar clatter 

and other ambient sounds.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Princess and the Paparazzi

Imagine Kate at topless beaches,
being demure and keeping her clothes on
but in the privacy of her estate,
comfortable undressing
in front of her husband
or in front of her friends to avoid
the tan marks from the sun
all of this in harmless comfort
beyond opened doors and casual
observers, but when the paparazzi
is on the prowl they can be several

feet away, sitting in a tree, hiding in the shrubs
with super wide lenses and telescopic viewfinders.
Like snipers in the war, assassins
of privacy, selling their shots for
voyeuristic buyers, knowing the audience
is out there and they will make a profit
because people want to see her
devoid of push-up bras and padding.

It will be the first time she is photographed topless.
no way to hide away when security wasn’t even
aware of a breach until the photos were made public.  

Sometimes being a princess and marrying the prince
is not all it is made out to be. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hidden Places

Everyone has a hidden place

to store their secret memories
sometimes it is a note from a first love
grandmother’s favorite recipe, a treasure map

or mementos from adolescence.
Papers, notes or artifacts, souvenirs
of people, 
places or times.
They may not be visited often

but knowing where they are
brings a peace to daily living
and when there’s a moment and no one is home
finding those precious keepsakes

perusing the contents brings back memories
like the blue sea glass from Myrtle Beach,
or the black sand from Hawaii,
a piece of wall paper from grandma’s bedroom

a broken Navajo bracelet from childhood.
The folded American flag from my brother’s grave
with tear stains from when I cried.

The noise downstairs disrupts my reverie
I put everything back into a tin box
that once held a fruit cake no one ever ate.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Adventures in the Morning Glories

A quick hello and off he went to the backyard
kneeling before the morning glories.

Reaching into his pant pockets to pull out
plastic army figures set out on opposing sides

the battle began shortly after sunrise
while it was still cool enough to enjoy
an hour or more of play among the
leaves and vines of the morning glories.

Once he found a litter of kittens,
their eyes were barely open, 

no mother in sight

they stumbled toward him meowing.
He gathered up 
one, a calico, with grey eyes 
who pawed at his palm searching for a teat

he placed it back under the leaves
moved away and watched from the window
relief when he saw the mother jump from the fence

then disappear in the morning glories.
She nursed her brood until they were content
but when he went back to check they were all gone

so he found his toys to play again.
Another time after the rain, water beaded
like jewels on the flowers

he ran in to get the camera

capturing the reflection of sunlight
on a raindrop framed in purple
and what looked like rhinestones
on the leaves of the rose bushes.  

Pictures by Danny

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Class Warfare

Sometime in the sixties
the middle class kids started wearing rags
to identify with the poor and disenfranchised
beads and headbands to be like the indigenous.

Standing in solidarity against anonymity
fist raised to 
give it to the man.” 
Rejecting their parents post war
consumerism and materialism
accepting communal living
and sharing everything
with flowers in their hair.

Sometime in the eighties
many of these protesters
became seduced by the dollar
seeking wealth in all its power
bigger houses, faster cars, boats
and planes and designer labels.
The denim jeans and moccasins
were discarded for what really mattered;
perfect teeth, reshaped nose and breasts
manicured hands and pedicured feet
with peaceful thoughts through
a pharmaceutic induced sleep.

Today the kids are not rebelling
preferring to stay tied to the apron strings
attached to the comforts of home or at least
the luxury of daddy’s paycheck. Insisting
on all the toys of the rich even when they are 
poor by comparison, not willing to work,
yet wanting to win the lottery 
or be discovered to become 
one of the rich and famous.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

St. Joseph Sell My House

Dig a hole where he might dwell
outside the door in hopes to sell
your home placed on the market.
Have a price you hope to get

bury St. Joe beneath the soil
to bring buyers prepared to toil
with the realtor to design some offers
with enough cash in their coffers

to start a bidding war
but dreams go too far
baby Jesus lost his head
hopes for moving are now dead.
Send St. Joseph back to the shelf
maybe next time use an elf.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Patterns in Fabric

Bold colors
some geometric
others organic
arranged in a pattern

perfect for
summer dresses
from shoulders
to hem

Or as a highlight
of color around
the neck to offset
a jacket

to flatter the eyes
green and blue
with golden flecks
to get attention across a room.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Robbers in the Hood

A black SUV cruises
down the freeway
while a helicopter overhead keeps it in sight
for the television crew
expanding the view 
showing the police cars

closing in on the chase.
Four armed bank robbers
trying to escape
in a world where privacy
is a thing of the past
every action, public...
fifteen minutes of fame
there is no getting away
no dramatic escape
thieves can run but they
always get caught.

What is happening
inside the SUV
are they listening to the radio
hyped up on adrenaline or amphetamine
realizing their plans have come to an end?
One makes a desperate attempt
and tosses out some cash.

It forms a distraction
maybe they'll ditch their car
and run different 
through the neighborhood.

A fist-full of dollars
should have done the trick
grabbing some fives and tens
to make their effort worthwhile

but the plan backfires when cars
block the road 
while people run out. 
Eventually the thieves are captured
all seen live, on public TV. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mixed With Mud

Your ashes were left
in a storage room
out by the pool

on the day of your memorial
no one mentioned your wasted life
seeped in depravity
an ache in their memory for how
things could have been.

Should your remains be scattered
at your local hang-outs
or housed in a slot at a cemetery?
After some discussion
it was decided they
should be mixed with mud and used
as an exterior for a ceremonial

shelter in the hills in the north country
where prayers offered in that holy place
could permeate your troubled soul

and you would finally be blessed
in the heavens above. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Bit-O-Honey

Wrapped in a red, blue and yellow paper
twisted on each end nice and neat
a little bit of honey in a mouth-size treat

can suck it until the nuts fall through
but I always start to chew too soon
causing it to stick to my teeth,

sometimes I can’t even open my mouth
afraid it will pull my teeth from my jaw
it is gone too soon then I have to endure

the sounds my sister makes while she takes her time
savoring the flavor knowing the longer she keeps it
the longer she can torment me, occasionally

blowing in my face so I get a whiff
of that tasty taffy, then she runs away,
once almost choking on the juice

trickling down her throat, falling into a coughing fit
causing us to be scolded for being so silly,
things settle down ‘till the next time 
we get a bit-o- honey.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scented Powder

In the 60's, stores in shopping malls 
tempted buyers with bright displays 
offering gifts for every occasion 

the holidays the most obsessed 
valentine’s, birthdays and mother’s day 
bombarded with feel good commercials 

a time to send a gift to show you really care 
and for a mother who needs nothing, 
a delicate box with a fluffy powder puff 

a chance for her to dust herself in scents
of lilac, gardenia and violet. Most of it
unused, left in the back of a drawer forgotten.

That’s what I found in my mother’s dresser 
three boxes, one light green, the other pink, 
and the one I gave her, plastic engraved in gold.

Did she know that we loved her?

Monday, September 10, 2012


There was a time a gardener kept the landscape green
pulling weeds, planting flowers, fertilizing when needed

but as more people were able to afford them
they became the mowers and hedgers,

cutting down, trimming back, keeping landscapes
from getting over grown, blowing away debris

then gone before the half hour was done
hurrying off to another home to trim, hack and clip.

The traditional gardener is now the retired folk
hours feeding the roses and grooming the orchids

breeding lush gardens of vegetables with tomatoes
and strawberries, a variety of herbs and zucchini.

Sometimes it is the woman other times the man
tilling away in the sun, planting, watering, weeding,

until the harvest arrives then there are fresh
vegetables to eat and to can, gifts for the neighbors

if the yield is good, bouquets of flowers for the foyer
and flavorful additions to every meal.

I imagined I would garden when I retired
but my skin can not stand the sun

so I must hire a person to tend the the growing
while I enjoy the fruits of his labor.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Thunder clouds build along the horizon
promise of rain and flash floods
I dwell on parched land licking my lips
thirsty for the soaking, but the sun
breaks through and clouds disappear

Early evening it is the same thing
humidity high but nothing falls
from the sky, feels like an elephant
sitting on my chest, gasping for breath
sweating from the promise of rain

Morning comes and a few droplets
touch the ground, a cool breeze
for a second or two, I can hear the corn
in the fields plead for some relief
from this oppressive heat

Tales of Armageddon and  suffering
for those not ascended from earth during
the rapture, is it because there were no good
people left and everyone else is cursed
to endure
 these final days of judgment? 

Finally the rain breaks, tornadoes
rainstorms and lightening,
thunder echoes across the mountains
water rushes through natural washes
catching everything in its way

Sweeping to the ocean shore
a young mother with her two children
clinging to the top of her red Chevy
a yellow lab trying to swim to safety
gets caught in a net and struggles to get free

and the deluge continues on
two days then three, prayers seem useless
hanging from the tree, muscles ache
I will make my peace with god then let go.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

All Aboard

Take the Amtrak from Santa Ana to LA
across town through back alleys
and graffiti marked riverbeds

the Amtrak with its steady rock
whistling through road crossings

connecting two Spanish towns
along a railroad track

We’ll get off at Union Station
walk a block to Olvera Street
see folkloric dancers and mariachi bands

Visit vendors selling traditional wares
sombreros and leather goods,
guitars and marionettes.

The smell of churros will fill the air
carne assada, guacamole and tortillas too
tempting all those who walk through

this single street of historic memory
depicting a place in Mexico.

Lots of music and conversations as we
wander through stores and churches
then back home again on the Amtrak. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Celebrity News

The main pillar in a popular bar
cracked from ceiling to floor in Costa Rica
no injuries reported so it didn’t make
the front page news even though

the earth shook so hard they couldn’t stand
only an anecdote on page six
while the first page showed the face of a former
president who suffered through a sexual scandal 

a humiliation soon forgotten 
mythical now, as his charisma and magnetism
still attract people to his not so pretty face
yet, sexy enough to speak at the Democratic Convention. 

Last week a famous actor and director
became the mystery guest at the GOP event
took the viewers by storm as he talked to an empty
chair, a metaphor for a president who wasn’t there 

no matter what the other candidates said
he stole the show and that’s what viewers talked about.
For some he was a befuddled old man 
but to many significant and profound.

Headlines are like gossip
in community, focusing on the outrageous
and absurd, foibles of humankind
held up for public scrutiny,
a cautionary tale for all who listen.

We hear about Kardashian but not Afghanistan
a conversation with an empty chair but not
an economic plan, nor do we hear about
the heroic effort of people who make 

sacrifices to improve our lives

unless it is Sean Penn
taking a boat to  New Orleans,
or Angelie Jolie flying to Haiti, never mind
the doctors and other volunteers

who converge every time disaster strikes
their action is expected while the celebrity
is highlighted and celebrated. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Flowers Fade

Young girls are like flowers blooming
from bud to voluptuous blossom
adored in the yard but cut and brought
inside where they fade and quickly wither.

Flowers should be allowed to grow each season,
with time to bloom, or go to seed
providing others like themselves
ready to flourish for another year.

Beautiful women in all their glory
are desired and envied by many
their challenge is to grow old gracefully
be loved, healthy, wealthy and bright

but all things eventually wilt
lovers die, health diminishes
riches are lost and dementia sets in,
what was once desired, is now forgotten.

Those who still have their glory
quiver at this physical collapse,
a graphic example of how fragile
life is… a gift given then withdrawn.

The moral: enjoy youth while you can
smell the roses, dance among the daisies
wear babies’ breath in your hair
thrive in beauty whenever you can. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

People Who Create Change

"The people who are crazy enough to think they
can change the world, are the ones who do.” -Apple Inc.

sit alone under a tree
while the other kids play.
They wonder about the world
and the relationship of apples and gravity
never lonely they don't
need to be handled or fixed
while they wile away their hours
pondering the mysteries of the world
and coming up with answers

have their 
their own style  
no imitator or traditionalist
their mind is set
no matter how much others
try to contain them
they can't be defined, labeled,
or caged. There is no way
others can control their thinking
they always stay ahead of the pack.

disrupt the status quo
thinking too far on the edge
never giving lip service to the historical greats
but instead imitating their free thinking ways
challenging the premises of science
and mathematics, social structures and art.

Parents try to keep their children
away from these radical influence
trying to stop them from acting on impulse
leaving the world as they find it

while troublemakers thrive

on disorder and confusion
forcing chaos and change.

Round Pegs
do not fit into any puzzle
if all the pieces 
are available,
and all of them fit. 

Everything has an order
but there is no way to fit a round peg
in a square hole, so often it is discarded
rather than trying to rearrange the whole
puzzle to fit one piece.

Better it be destroyed, obliterated, pretending
it ever existed until it’s roundness
can’t be denied and the world changes
to include it.

Crazy Ones
are locked up, hidden away from society
ridiculed and harassed
to keep them on the edge of humanity
never letting them espouse their philosophies
or demonstrate their thinking
refusing them an opportunity to speak…
but sometimes when they are given a voice 

is revealed telling us what they see
giving us a view of their world 

expanded and exposed.

Once it is articulated it gives access 

to brilliance and the planet changes
in many ways: electricity and running water
an aristocracy 
overthrown and liberty 
for the common folk, cures for polio
and communication through a telephone line,

colors of every hue, railroads, 

and space travel.

Their private lives don’t matter, 

but the affect of their genius
is present in every one's life.

men and women who

imagine a new world 
and make it reality. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Riding A Bike With No Brakes

Once I’ve started I must go
at speeds from 
fast to slow

Downhill requires the greatest skill
avoiding traffic and pedestrians
gathering speed zooming down
the highway faster and faster.
Senses become extra alert

peripheral vision acute
to sudden movements
or obstacles, the muscles both
tight and relaxed, ready to react

to sudden changes.
Life and death
hang in the balance.

There are many 

who prefer security

and normalcy to the high speeds
of a downward race
weaving through traffic
never slowing down
for the rules of the road.
Some drivers hate to see me

fly by while they crawl
in congestion for miles.

My lifestyle is the best,
so carefree among the rest,
leaving behind conventional rules
choosing ones that offer
an extreme adrenaline high.

When I arrive at my destination
I get a pat on the back, 
a bottle of beer,

companionship with folks just like me,
those who are not afraid to be vulnerable
on a bike with no brakes.

It is good knowing
after I rest awhile
I can get on my bike
and ride away.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sleeping Like A Baby

The quiet slumber and steady breathing
of a baby lasts only for a little while
after a few hours he wakes to eat,
get changed and then back to sleep again.

The milestone is when he sleeps all night
sometimes out of habit the mother wakes up
and checks to make sure the baby is alright. 

After awhile it becomes the norm
and both mom and baby sleep
uninterrupted for six hours or more.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Loose Thread on His Sweater

The thread on his sweater
unraveled at the center of his chest

it was a simple move on my part
I reached for it, and pulled slightly.
I thought I could tie it safely in a knot
and keep it from separating further
but with every little tug
 it untangled, 
and the thread grew longer
the hole in the sweater grew larger.

I should have stopped
but I couldn’t help myself
the hours of work that went into
this garment I quickly
unraveled in seconds.

I heard a noise deep in his throat

like a whimpering gasp.
“The sweater,” he said, 

“was a gift from my mother.”

She sent it for his birthday
before she took her last breath
it was his favorite 
he wore it when he was
sad, or when the seasons
changed, or her birthday passed.

Now here I was destroying
what he valued most
wrecking it with every pull.

I should have stopped
taken it to an experienced knitter
have it fixed, but like a kitten with a piece of yarn
I used both hands to find the end of that strand,
now a pile of royal blue fiber on the sidewalk.

Maybe at another time
our eyes will meet
and we will laugh about today

but how can he feel affection
for a stranger who destroyed his sweater
on a public street while waiting for a bus
early in September?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jumping From A Bridge

A woman jumped from a freeway bridge,
that was high but not elevated enough to do the job,
she got up and was hit by an innocent motorist
traveling too fast to stop.

Her daughter was only ten,
already living with a guardian for three years,
removed from custody when her mother showed
signs of a bipolar disorder, or as some people say,
too crazy to care for a child and idiotic enough
to jump from a bridge.

Her daughter lived with the trauma
of that violent death, caught up
in the illusion of normalcy
reaching adolescence and adulthood
never taking the time to dwell on the tragedy

until her son was born
with a port-wine stain across
his face, spreading from his neck to his cheek.

Strangers gasped when they saw
what they thought was a splash of blood.
"It is not his," she said, "but his grandmother's,
who jumped from a bridge 
years ago 
and was hit by a car in San Diego."