Afghanistan’s a country where the rules are overlooked,

and so the hospitals are really permanently booked.

A bullet or a bomb goes off ev’ry minute of each day;

and the guilty party for it — who’s to really say?

The Taliban or ISIS or the local chieftain, maybe;

or it just might be a U.S. delivered baby.

Like I said before, it is a place where law is rare;

and if you are civilian then you haven’t got a prayer . . . 



Yogi Berra, Dead at 90

“You could look it up” the man said to Saint Peter at the gates.

“I played it hard but always fair, and never took rebates.”

Saint Peter sternly stared at him, then whispered in his ear

Yogi, will the Yankees win the Series this next year?”


The Dancing Bear

Russia is a dancing bear, appealing in its way;

but never to be trusted when it wants with you to play.

Keep it leashed and muzzled and you never will regret

its furry paws around you, as an appetizing whet. 

Whether with Assad or with some other grasping fool,

the bear gets all the honey while all we do is drool. 

The Search for Home

The ancient tortoise knows just what I know about abodes;

you carry them along as you go down so many roads.

The shell that we inhabit may be polished, may be dreck;

it really doesn’t matter as we finish up our trek.

Home is but a gossamer restraint to aging searcher,

on the way to mansions full of love and light and nurture.




Joe Hill’s Ashes


(Editor’s Note: Joe Hill was born this day in 1879. He was a notable, and notorious, union organizer who was brutally executed by a Utah firing squad in 1915 for a crime he did not commit.)

Joe Hill had come from Sweden for to find a better life;

but all he ever got from Uncle Sam was death and strife.

Traveling the country, working odd jobs as he could,

Joe Hill was lonely, shunned, and often quite misunderstood.


He wanted ev’ry worker to be unionized and safe

from bosses who would otherwise treat each man as a waif.

He was called an anarchist and wobbly by the mob

of plutocrats and toadies (ev’ry one of them a snob).


They killed poor Joe with bullets for a crime he didn’t do;

then burned him up for ashes that were scattered like the dew.

His dust still chokes the moneybags who exploit human flesh,

from the barrios of Chile to the slums of Bangladesh!  


The Homeless Man’s Dream

I like a front yard with a porch and a swing, and a wood chopper windmill as well —

one that has grass that is scruffy and soft, where chickweed and clover can dwell.

Bunting and flags and a birdhouse or two; where wind chimes and trikes are not banned.

A yard with parquet cement sidewalk designs, that would welcome a lemonade stand.

A shade tree surrounded by bleeding-hearts thick, where a man can sit long with a hose —

bringing up worms for his next fishing trip, not wanting to buy some new clothes.

My yard would not have “Private Property” signs; instead I’d invite the whole block

to visit and try out my corded hammock while filling the air with small talk.


To Laugh.

Where, oh where, have the little clowns gone?

(Dedicated to the memory of Buster Keaton)

A laugh is but a bubble on the ceaseless tide of care

That washes all around us underneath the sun’s blank glare.

A froth or foamy nothing that is gone before we know

that it came to help us fight the mortal undertow.


The jester in the palace and the circus clown do feel

That laughter is as thin and welcome as an onion peel.

The writer who is trifling with words meant to amuse

Scribbles with a pallid heart his unimportant views.


 The universe and galaxies possess no spark of whimsy;

To laugh up at the darkness is of gambits the most flimsy.

Yet I hope the last sound by the last soul here on earth

Will not be whimpered groaning but the roar of ardent mirth.

My Bucket List Has a Hole in It . . .


My bucket list has just one thing to do ‘fore I Go Home;

Write a piece that will become a well-beloved poem.

Perhaps like Ernest Thayer and his ‘Casey at the Bat’

I can write of ping pong with such assured eclat.

(If editors say it don’t rhyme I’ll gladly knock ‘em FLAT!)


And then there’s Clement Moore who wrote of Christmas Eve so well;

His poem is corny and archaic – but causes hearts to swell.

Dear Emily wrote short and sweet (and bitter as a viper);

She and Edna were about as focused as a sniper.

(Don’t hold me back – the muse is taking hold and I am HYPER!)


“The best is yet to be” was written by the poet Browning;

I hope he’s on the level, and was not just merely clowning.

I’d like to leave my grandkids something they will call a hit,

And that will be recited where the goodly bards do sit.

(And, yes, I know full well that this here piece ain’t hardly IT.)


Based on a story by Abby Ellin 

Justice for Burberry


Dozens dead in Yemen from a crazy bomb attack;

ISIS murders women in the country of Iraq.

Homicides in LA County are thick as urban smog.

But outrage is reserved for shooting up a biting dog.


 Tunisia is mourning those who died in a museum;

Children die of hunger in Sudan – that’s “carpe diem”.

A Karen refugee gives children such a fatal cut –

The media is covering a San Diego mutt.


Alberto Nisman murdered by a shot in Buenos Aires;

The violence increases, making busy actuaries.

I guess the world is going to the dogs without a doubt,

When the death of one lone cur can carry so much clout.


Thoughts on Walking Through the Neighborhood at Dusk.


When I was but a slippy youth, impelled by lusty flush

To run and skip and hide and sing like any careless thrush,

The boys and girls around the street joined in my serenade,

Or fought with clods of earth or set up stands for lemonade.


The slightest hint of mildness in the weather caused adults

To open all the windows for some gossip (or insults).

We yelled our silly heads off as we scalped each other like

The Westerns on the TV, or went on an oval hike –


Around the alleys, past trash cans just full of won’drous tripe,

Scuffing on the clinkers as we rolled a broken pipe.

Mrs. Berg put up a sign that said “Stay Off The Lawn”.

Old Benny on the corner drank his Schlitz and gave a yawn.


Cranky Mrs. Hannigan put out her wash to dry

(They said she beat her husband so until he’d start to cry).

Nozzles on the hoses sent the dew upon the grass,

Held by men in t-shirts with their arms as stiff as brass.


The cavalcade of bikes and trikes and hopscotch-playing girls

Made the sidewalk squirm just like a box of baby squirrels.

To sit inside when sun and wind made love to all the trees

Was just about as stupid as a snort of anti-freeze.


Even Mrs. Henderson, as old as Herbert Hoover,

Smiled upon the bedlam through the chinks of parlor louver.

The noise was a cocoon that wrapped the neighborhood in fleece;

Underneath the woofs and tweets there lay a modest peace.


Today – today, I walk by neighborhoods and cul de sacs

Where fam’lies park their minivans and figures made of wax

Sit inside the windows playing games intensely bright

While the beauty of the world fades into unmourned night.


The quiet doesn’t cheer me or promote much peace of mind.

The lack of noise, like lack of sight, is something dull and blind.

The yards are neat and comely, and the children are well-bred;

A lemonade stand here would get you handcuffed by a Fed.