The Butterfly Father


you are flint-edged,
Your feet scrape yielding carpet
before suddenly, continually
bearing full weight.

you are lighter, enduring,
but you still take the road
by force, challenge
the wind.

You might have torn
your way into life:
like roots
cracking concrete,
forcing doors.

But when you hold
snowflake daughters
your hands are
the gentle air of
fragile wings,

you slip
your covert chrysalis
and are once more
the butterfly father,
at home in this breath
of benevolence,

borrowing life from
their breathing.

[for Stuart MacLeod]



Single Malt Friend


Maybe the angels
gathered handfuls of grain
to chew
into liquid,
and whispered a
peaty secret into
mortal ears.

We never felt the angel’s whispers,
but we do the best we can:
shunning the blended
for this golden saliva
turning to air.

Down in the valley
of Sandy Hill,
(down by the riverside)
you’ll find my single malt friend:

already boasting
over latest acquisitions,
eyebrows arching
with forgotten whispers,

searching for secrets.

[for Seymour Mayne]

This too is bread

The final objective of rational anti-Semites must be the removal of the Jews altogether.
–Adolf Hitler, 1919.


They made scythes
out of ink
and nobody
seemed to notice.

Cold blue scratchings chilled
hatred’s warning heat,

made finality a solution,
a simple pruning.

An ocean away,
you lanced yourself
and bled onto pages

bright red
mixed with tears


Hold them close
and smell the cinders,

the wet blood,

the hollow
cost of knowing
we are
already dead.

This too is bread, Abe.

Not of action,
but conscience:

the endless liturgy
of human souls.

[for A.M. Klein]

Colossi, or Twenty Centuries

Just like the brazen giants of Babeled fame,
With skyward steel tendrils claiming dominion over other lands;
Here at the once-beckoning gates of promise, in stolid stands,
Two towers to Prosperity, whose flame
Is the beacon of rapacity, and their game:
Traders of money. From their tightened fist
Glowers world-wide warning; their malign gaze glaring
At the ether expanse of multitude mist.

“Keep ancient lands, your huddled homeless!” growl they
Through gleaming teeth. “Give us your precious gems, your natural gifts,
Your best and brightest yearning for more than they can ever spend,
The insatiable strivers of your clustered coasts.
Send these, and only these: your modern monarchs,
Angels of avarice, to we
Who guard the gates before the golden door.
And just like the homeless, tempest-tost of Egyptian fame,

With generations hungry atop their wealth-covering sands,
The angered, desperate descendants of a holy hubris plans
A mother battle with new Pharaoh’s storied pomp,
Commandeering his own steel birds, falcons now with
Frenzied falconers, iron bellies heavy with the driving stuff of flame.

Twenty centuries to a shining September morning, when
Twin killers scrape a flawless sky, mere anarchy carefully
Careening into deliberate death, thoughtless now of imagined
Innocence, mindful of murder only, and their name:
Sons of Muhammed (Peace be upon Him), full of passionate intensity.
Steel skeletons incapable of support, a Center that cannot hold;
Wretched refuse flying flightless to teeming, gleaming streets
Summarily smudged with ash, and all ceremony drowned.

And now, a lion-headed son of always-promised privilege stands
On the pedestal of Jesus’ neck (Peace be upon Him),
all Christian mercy bleeding out in breathless hymns
Of righteous retribution vexed to nightmare.
And another multitude of slouching souls departing
On a vow to make a waste of desert sand.