Monday, June 29, 2009


A lonesome cowboy rides a lonesome trail
Out on the prairie he don't get no mail
At night he listens to the cold winds wail
A lonesome cowboy rides a lonesome trail

A lonesome cowboy likes to fuss and fight
When he gets to town on Saturday night
A sweet little filly would make everything right
But he only gets to fuss and fight

A lonesome cowboy puts his foot on the rail
And drinks whiskey as raw as an old rusty nail
He's got sparks in his brain and a burr in his tail
That poor lonesome cowboy with his foot on the rail

The lonesome cowboy, he ain't got a friend
He rides down the trail till it comes to an end
In death's yawning doorway, no message to send
That old lonesome cowboy, who hasn't a friend

Say, who will remember the cowboy's last ride
Not the trail boss, or bartender, fit to be tied
Not the cook with his wagon, or the dude with his bride
That poor lonesome cowboy, who has nothing to hide

One tree on the skyline, the trail turns to sand
The pistol and lariat fall from his hand
On the breeze there's a song, though there ain't no brass band
At sunset's last ribbon, when the trail turns to sand

this was printed in skylark, a little magazine from quebec, around 1991

Thursday, June 25, 2009

ten to say when

a darwinist named dan
was left without a plan
when a creationist named coralie
rejected his paleolithic plea
to make him the happiest man

i dreamed i saw appolonius of tyana
sitting on a park bench peeling a banana
as i tremblingly asked him the meaning of life
he cut it in slices with a boy scout knife
and wrapped it in a red bandana

if eusebius came back to earth
and saw the new cosmos giving birth
would he still be liable
to write the bible
or would the effort not be worth?

a neanderthal named number nine
pondered the legacy of einstein
he couldn't get the hang
of the big bang
so he tipped back a jug of wine

harold smith couldn't say hello
without mentioning his love for annette funicello
he recalled her so often
that nothing could soften
the boredom his fellows felt for the fellow

a psychoanalyst named rudd
thought all his patients were his buds
he declined to charge them fees
but only asked them please
to join him in slurping some suds

a secretary named sue
to her boss was loyal and true
when he laid her off
she coughed one cough
and dropped one tear on her shoe

an orangutan named otto
drank some booze and got blotto
he fell asleep and dreamed
he was picking flowers by a stream
by our lady of primates' grotto

a yeti named youngblood
was walking in the mud
he heard helicopter blades
so he quickly moved to the shade
he thought civilization was a dud

a limericist named lou
had nothing better to do
than search all cultures and climes
for possible triple rhymes
and never looked at the sky of blue

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

farewell to a titan

years ago
when i was really bored
i would speculate on
the most famous persons ever

defined as:
the persons seen "live"
by the most people
for the most hours

and i concluded that
johnny carson was number one
and therefore
ed mcmahon was number two

yes, ed mcmahon
out of tens of billions
the second most famous person
who ever lived!

but time passes
and gods look up from their mountains
to see newer gods
on higher mountains

as hank aaron and barry bonds
passed babe ruth
so oprah and jay leno and dr phil
passed johnny and ed

goodbye ed
thanks for the joy you brought
to hundreds of millions
for thousands of hours

the media say
your last days were unhappy
but what do they know
who have never looked down from the mountain?

Monday, June 22, 2009

minimalism, part 2

i can't talk now
it's important
not to me
but it's really important
(dial tone)

that looks easy
why don't you try it?
i can't be bothered
did anyone ever tell you -
forget it

joe woke up
it was morning
he had to go to work
he went to work
he was late
nobody noticed

my neck hurts
- - - - - - - - -
did you hear me?
i heard you
my neck hurts

what about that twenty?
what twenty?
the twenty you were going to lend me
i was going to lend you twenty?

joshua look at the clown
he's a funny clown
come on joshua be good

she left you, huh?
is that good or bad?
i don't know
have another drink
you buying?

bert woke up
he had fallen asleep at his desk
the office was empty
the gang had gone to lunch
he wasn't a member of the gang
he checked his messages

this is fun
i think i've had enough though
too much of a good thing you know?
i hear you

Sunday, June 21, 2009

minimalism, part 1

yo, billy
what's up?
nothing much
see you
take it easy

peggy walked down the street
she came to an intersection
she pressed the button
the walk light came on
she crossed the street
she kept walking

rick, can i see you a for a minute?
have a seat
you're letting me go, aren't you?
i was expecting it

carol jones!
excuse me?
aren't you carol jones?
who are you?
betty harrison, don't you remember me?

that was a good sandwich, mom
i'm glad you liked it
can i have another one?
why don't you make it yourself?
make it myself!
yes, the bread and stuff are right over there

the third race
what about it?
who do you like?
i haven't decided
i have
i haven't

Saturday, June 20, 2009


junior got his first job
at woolworths after school
sis had a new boy friend
who had never been in jail even once

to celebrate
we went on a picnic
and invited grandpa and grandma
and uncle fred and aunt annabelle

grandpa and grandma
were hard to tell apart
and often spoke in unison

mom thought it was sweet
i thought it was weird
so did sis
and her boy friend

mom made egg salad sandwiches
and tuna salad sandwiches
and chocolate chip cookies
they were pretty good

aunt annabelle brought a lemon pie
uncle fred brought cigars
but dad didn't want one
so he gave two to grandpa

dad made some pitiful jokes
about ants at picnics
but there weren't any ants

no beer?
these were the last words
from sis' new boy friend

junior wandered off by himself

i brought my new portable tv
grandpa and grandma were impressed
we watched the news

khruschev was marrying sophia loren
that's funny
said grandpa and grandma together
we didn't know khruschev was marrying sophia loren

it's my new invention
i told them
it's called programming

this all happened fifty years ago

mom and dad, grandpa and grandma, aunt fred and aunt annabelle, and sis and junior are all dead now
and i never got a dime
for my invention

but i'm not bitter
i'm just happy to be alive

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


dad had problems
but he wasn't a bad guy
he could stare at the refrigerator for hours
even if there was no beer in it

he went to work every day
he was a systems engineer
but i never saw him engineer a system
or knew what a systems engineer was

whatever he did
it tired him out
when junior or sis got arrested
he would just nod

and get up and open the refrigerator
to offer the arresting officers a beer
but there was hardly ever
any beer in the refrigerator


my mom was a nice lady
i really liked her a lot
we went for long rides together
when it was cool, and when it was hot

one day we went for a drive
further than we usually went
we came to an old gas station
its sign was faded and bent

there beside the station
was an old fashioned general store
i had the strangest feeling
that i had never been there before

inside was an old cooler
filled with sasparilla and coke
i put my hand in the freezing water
and a voice from the shadows spoke

"you got to pay up, mister
before you put your hand in there"
the proprietor lurched like a grizzly
from a quivering rocking chair

i had never encountered such behavior
in all my pristine days
the terrible creature glared at me
i could not hold his gaze

i bought a bottle of ginger ale for mom
and a royal crown cola for myself
i thought i saw two yellow eyes
high up on a dusty shelf

the sun was shining like an oil slick
on the roof of battered tin
though we traveled the whole state over
we never went there again

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

nine to shine

an actor named jackie chan
was the ultimate 21st century man
he fell out of windows all over the planet
on to sidewalks of plastic, glass and granite
the whole universe was his fan

beauregard, a bobobo
had never experienced falling snow
the concept of santa claus
gave him pause
but he concluded, what do i know?

a scorpion named stingaree
was a fervent fan of bruce lee
he imitated all his moves
and left the sand in whirling grooves
in the desert of mo-ja-ve

a tintist named tintoretto laughed
and was left alone on a rubber raft
after the panic
on the titanic
left him master of his craft

an echinoderm named ed
was taking a nap on the ocean bed
when some humans disturbed his rest
with a series of nuclear tests
he wondered, was it something i said?

an australopith named al
picked some flowers for his best gal
when he reached the top of the hill
he saw her carried off in the bill
of a pterodactyl he thought was his pal

a creationist named chuck
at the slot machines had little luck
he turned to dave, a darwinist
who also had a throbbing wrist
and asked, can i borrow five bucks?

a jellyfish named jermaine
liked to stay out in the rain
as humans rushed for their cars
houses, arenas and bars
he absorbed the eternal terrain

an expanding universe named grace
had half a mind to trace
her connections to her siblings
but this was dismissed as quibblings
as they flew into infinite space

Sunday, June 14, 2009


junior wasn't very bright
but he was interested
in everything

he stared out the window at school
at the cars driving by
and the planes in the sky
and the big rigs on the highway

but what he really liked
was helicopters
(there weren't too many of them)
and blimps (maybe one a year)

the teacher would say to the class
junior is dreaming again
what are you dreaming about junior?
and he would answer


he never did his homework
but went home and worked on model planes
and model trains and trucks and cars and helicopters and blimps
and sometimes ships and submarines

he got the money for these things
by working at wendy's
and collecting bottles and cans
in an old shopping cart

junior is all grown up now
and loads and unloads trucks at costcos
and he goes to pta meetings
but his wife does all the talking


sis was the town tramp
but she wasn't a bad kid
when the police brought her home in the morning
they always bought her an ice cream cone

the city was ringed with ice cream shops
and dairy whip stands too
in winter there was dunkin donuts
there was no escape

the red and blue lights of the police cars
blot out the milky way
you couldn't see the andromeda galaxy
even if the town had outskirts

officer stone was a jets fan
and wanted to move to oregon
officer mcgovern preferred the philadelphia eagles
and liked to take his three kids on picnics

they stood on the front porch
with the fog laughing silently behind them
and said, mr and mrs america
here is your wandering girl

Friday, June 12, 2009

poem #13

one planet spinning
blue words in red sunsets
across the continents

electrons of words
dinosaur trails
popsicle icecaps

a mosquito is born and dies
a chimp chomps a pomegranate
a clam is fried

a human is fired from mcdonalds
in san jose istanbul singapore

coffee is poured in starbucks
in bogota johannesburg mumbai

jackie chan falls out of a window
in dallas in lagos in seoul

one planet spinning
trillions of planets spinning

Saturday, June 6, 2009

eight out of the gate

a terrapin named tiberius
took nothing very serious
his nasty pranks
got little thanks
and made his fellow creatures delirious

a zoologist named zane
stayed out in the pouring rain
to earn the tentative trust
of a curious creature named cust
whose existence he could not explain

an octopus named ole
dwelled in the ole swimmin hole
tom and huck and jim
dreamed of catching him
but never achieved their goal

a winged steed named peggy
sailed through the air long and leggy
a human being named bess
was filled with enviousness
and decided to eat her veggies

a divinity student named mope
spent his days smoking dope
his concerned next door neighbor
an angel with a flaming saber
sent a sorrowful letter to the pope

a pterodactyl named pete
was pretty smooth on his feet
whenever he got up to dance
all the winged locusts and fire ants
rushed shouting out into the street

a tyrannosaurus named tex
sailed a pirate ship with well-scrubbed decks
chasing through endless galaxies
because he wasn't hard to please
he loved all special effects

a brontosaurus named bill
left a curious will
his favorite niece, an australopith
was found convicted of running with
humans and hyenas, and got nil