Start the Way You Intend to Go

from “an untitled serial poem”

grey and cold all day

the year begins again

cedar pollen drifts wildly

I can feel the shredded bark

deeply behind my eyes

trying to cut a way out

I’m not surprised but fear

all that has changed enough

to become a normal day

as wolves claw and slaver

at the door

(January 2, 2020)

note: I am starting a series of 140 poems, the length of each poem will be a set number of syllables determined by a random number generator. each poem/stanza will organically arise from the previous poem/stanza in the series in the manner of a renga without following the traditional renga’s syllable parameters. Additionally there is another requirement put upon every tenth poem/stanza in the series which will connect it to another “ten” poem/stanza following abstractly the traditional rhyme pattern of a Shakespearian sonnet. This is the second time I have written a longer poem following this self-imposed system. The first was called “Sonnet: a rengaThis is the beginning poem/stanza of the new series.

Hansel Grows Old

Bread crumbs were not enough—

insubstantial as memory 

flitting away like sparrows

through the trees. He was lost,

tangled in possibility’s inevitable

collapse; he could not pull past

the brush to a salient interpretation:

where he went, where he was going,

or what language he now spoke.

She had fled years ago,

escaped to the witches who

had forgiven her childhood

sins. She no longer believed

in the lies of her father,

the long walks in the woods

with her brother. She returned

now for some redemption,

only to find him not at home.

(October 25, 2019)

Chromosome Damage

(a post-modern renga)

(draft 1–this is the complete 46 stanzas, I will remove the numbers (syllable counts) when I finalize the whole. I am looking for comments


Lights break auras

As night deepens

The rain. The solstice

Grows closer through the dark;

Grim days shorten.


Half-way back

To summer’s long heat—

In afternoon hours,

It hurts to step

Outside as if someone

Near waits with knives.


Patient enough now

To watch all this unfold

Into spring.


Outside, another cold day:

Most of the leaves have fallen

From the sycamore outback;

Its white bark stands in contrast

To the stark grey sky. Beauty

Lives with our view.


Nietzsche said, among other things,

We experience only ourselves—

Even when I shift toward you,

It remains me who must see

The shadow which falls starkly

Between us on the floor.


If no one hears the Eliot allusion,

Does it make a sound?

Or should one pretend

A studied nonchalance

To carry one through the late afternoon?


Thus, an old ritual snickers

To a close, the porch lights

Turned on, the curtains

Drawn. I feel safe,

Less exposed, contained

With the pattern—

A spider moves toward motion.


We’ve woven our disparate dreams,

And become subsumed beneath the totality

Like ocean waves rolling upon themselves

Far from shore.


My anger sits at a distance,

It does not go away—

It whispers discontent

Like whip’s end striking wet flesh.


Ubiquitous as fear,

The air tightens

Without provocation.

Yet, still we sing,

Sing our song,

As if redemption

Can be gathered

Like bags of wet cotton

Blotched with blood.


I caught my breath,

And did not speak.

Is writing equivalent

To speech? I loved you,

In silence.


Self-doubt’s constant

Caterwauling echoes,

Like now— I mock

Attempts to quiet:

Hush, hush

Little baby hush—

All these scorpions

Are your own, each

Tail-strike skitters

Across skin.


Memory circles back to savage the corpse.


If only the dead would remain with the dead;

The past cannot so easily be revised—

I know what I desire to have happened;

Yet a mirror cannot be unbroken.


I can only see what

I think it is I see.


A lens warps light.


We are woven through our day

Despite our proclivities

Or desires. A thread’s easy

Enough to trace in retrospect

As being a part to a whole.


And here I am

Beneath a December moon

Waxing its way

Across a gray night.

Fate, or circumstance,

Is of no consequence.


He touches his forehead

To the damp ground

In a patterned response

To appease God’s chaos.

Here things are quiet;

Here one pretends

There is this center.


She waits, then dons her mask.


He scurries beneath the rain.


The sideways shift and snip

Clatters across the sand.

It’s easier to move out of the way—

Trouble passes, one remains

To proceed with plodding step

Along one’s path.


Time’s slow arc


All the variables led here

As inevitable as this morning’s

Sun striking the sycamore’s white

Bark; no god laughs as our choices.


A left, a right, a yes, a no:

Life’s crushed to binary.


I close an eye

To see the obvious

Connection: the moment.


I stumble step across a bridge

Swinging above a crevasse.


No saints guide us home,

Nor care how far we fall.

The emptiness opens

Like an aura.


This morning everyone sleeps in

As fog drifts between the trees

Near the creek and the gray sky.

The last brown leaf has fallen

From the sycamore; the solstice

Passed under a full moon.


Dusk and dawn, progressive

And simultaneous, flow through

The landscape. Yet, we think

Our futile actions have consequence.


I’m a lens.


Like you,

Light bends

Along each wave’s edge

Into separate

And singular parts.


I live on the periphery

Whispering songs

To the dry wind–

No bold flights 

Of choirs or timpani rolls

To assuage the silence

Which surrounds me.


Edges, like borders,

Allow difference

A false consequence.


Mirrors are echoes.


Like Narcissus,

I see only

What I want

To see; like

A song wedged

In my ear,

A flower grows



Another flower flowers

As if it were made for you

Each flower flowers

From bud to petal fall

The flower flowers

With or without you


In action, the noun is

Verb without separation.

The sentence inscribed

In bone, slippery as blood

Along a knife’s edge,

Leaks into our veins.


The sun moves and spins;

The earth spins and rocks;

The galaxy twirls along

Its own circuitous dance.

Nothing stops. I am tired,

And wish to rest.


The creek behind our house has risen

As the rain has been unrelenting

For the last few days. Work begins

Again tomorrow; over time I’ve grown

Accustomed to the pervasive fear.


Each day leads to another;

As do such platitudes; thus

We humbly don our daily masks

As those we meet present their own,

Forever and ever.


Rituals bring comfort,

Like an old dog its bone.


I keep revising the past—

Hoping for a new denouement.


She unfolds the origami crane

Next to his bed, but does not

Write the note. Oblivious,

He cannot erase what is not there.


We make only one choice.

Possibility’s extant only

In possibility. The first

Motion’s desire, which

Collapses upon itself







clotting into a thick mass

dread drops like cottonwood fluff

throughout the soft afternoon


I cannot breathe this darkness

too many knots of decay

to choke like thorns down my throat


each morning I spit a bit

then find scraps of redemption

as I stumble out the door


a new day’s dark-red dawn blurs

a simple numbness unfolds

inevitable and cold


I gasp and look to the sky

hopeful I will breathe today


(November 30, 2017)


muse’s kiss

each time after a few days
sometimes after a few hours
I worry that it is over
that the desire will remain
but only silence will flow
from your lips and I
will not speak again
yet somehow I keep it up
I plow so to speak the fecund
field open up the darkness
like ink and dip my pen
into the well of being
o muse long may you use
my tongue for your pleasure

(February 20, 2017)

My Thoughts are my Own Alone in the Hearse

            –a response to a pedant
“It is June. I am tired of being brave.”
                        –Anne Sexton
The hierophant explains with a sigh,
this line’s often twisted and de-contextualized…
Perhaps, or love for the line itself–
arbitrary time (with its attendant meanings
of spring’s rebirth and clichéd weddings)
weighed down by a vast unknown ennui,
divorced from  the solitary sad pebbles
along the path toward a grave echoed
so–solidified all for the moment,
then like a tide emptying into the sea,
re-contextualized within an anonymous
infinite collage where meaning’s framed
often only in a confession to trivial
interpretations rather than strict
dogmas of convenience preached
by those privileged and O, so, unaware
that there is often a vast divergence
between what is said and what is heard
yet still moves someone to speak again
the fragments, scraps, and wisps of air,
what little bits remain within the mind
like sea glass left unsung upon a shore

(August 8, 2015)

Suburban Life

I miss living in central Austin, except for the people
and the traffic, (fourth worst in the country according
to  The New York Times, right behind Los Angeles
for Christ’s sake), and of course, all the noise from all
the people, who would have thought death had undone
so many, as Eliot cribbed from Dante, and the traffic
makes me want to scream like a Siamese in heat
desperate for a mate. But what can I do? I just want
to see the Monet to Turner exhibit downtown
at the Blanton before it leaves to some other artsy-fartsy
city much farther away than Austin, the only town in Texas
I can stomach, liberal oasis that it is.  So I jump into
the Honda, hybrid of course, and head down the interstate
to take in a little culture, as the owner of Shakespeare
and Co. accused me of doing in Paris thirty years ago
when I didn’t respond fast enough to his overly interested
queries as to why a skinny Texas boy was wandering
around Europe for months looking  at pictures
hanging in the Louvre and other fancy-pants
museums which seemed to be in every city
all across Europe no matter how small. But that
is neither here nor there now, the Blanton is
the Blanton and right here, and Paris is so
far away, that I gird my loins, so to speak,
and brave the lethargic interstate’s quandaries
in search of somewhere beautiful to be.

(July 31, 2014)

A Year of Postings

On February 1, 2013 I decided I would try to post something on this blog everyday. I thought I would fail, because finding time to write has always been problematic.  I figured I could supplement new poems and musings with older poems, after all I have been consciously writing poetry since I was 15. Luckily I do not have much writing still extant prior to the age of 22.
            With this post I am making my goal a reality. I have posted 492 times since this time last year. Not only did I post at least once every day since last year, I sometimes managed to post multiple times in one day. The self-imposed quota has made me do what pretty much all advice to writers from writers boils down to: write every day. Many days I posted something from one of my longer projects from the past: “My Book of Changes”, “If This is A Comedy, Why Ain’t I Laughing”, “Primogenitive Folly,” “115 Missing Days, or “Sonnet, a Renga.” But the majority of the time what I posted were new poems. Even when I posted one of my older works, I still wrote everyday.
            I make no claims to the quality of my poems. But as Charles Bernstein wrote, if you call something a poem, then it is a poem. It might be a bad poem, but it is still a poem. I think I am writing some of the best poetry I have ever written. Yes, that is an arrogant statement, and easily mocked. I don’t have a problem with that; I write poetry.  I like what I write. I want others to read it. Like it, don’t like it; get it, don’t get it: It doesn’t change what I write or think about. I put thought and conscious effort into each poem. I try to write with skill and craft in each line I lay onto the page. I enjoy the hurdles of self-imposed structures, coupled with random chance and whim.
            Ultimately, writing everyday has given me a space to think about the world and my place within the life I have managed to carve out. It has made me more attentive to my thoughts and normally roiling emotions. If nothing else, this has been a positive influence, forcing me to examine the vicissitudes of my condition with a more contemplative eye.
            I will continue to post as I write. I am currently working on a project with my sister Donna Neal, the visual artist, based upon the tarot pack. So, the poems should still come on a fairly regular basis for a while. I am not going to worry too much if I miss a day or two along the way however.  I hope some of you have enjoyed the flood over the last year, and will continue to read what I write.

(January 31, 2014)