My father was a swearing man

My father was a swearing man; he spread profanity

the way some others smooth on crackers gobs of softened brie.

He did not care if ladies heard his salty words at all;

he did not care if children heard him and would start to bawl.

His language was invective of the Anglo-Saxon kind;

he used it like a butcher with a jagged axe to grind.

 He was also racist to the depths of his mean soul;

his terms for other races would make Satan vomit coal.

His blasphemy was so intense, that priests and nuns retreated

from his presence when they thought his words might be repeated.

One day he stepped upon a nail while barefoot in the yard;

 he then began a monolog that left the grass quite charred.

He cursed the manufacturer who made the blasted nail.

He swore an awful oath against the store that made the sale.

He damned to all perdition the careless fellow who

dropped the nail without a thought of those without a shoe.

He flung an epithet up to the sun for shining bright.

He wished the grass on which he trod to blacken like the night.

By now a crowd had gathered, and he cussed them out as well —

hoping he would see them all sauteed down there in hell.

His face became a thundercloud, his eyes were flaring lamps.

His spittle flew like spindrift and his fingers curled with cramps.

We never knew what evil words he could have finally cursed — 

because he got so steamed up that he simply up and burst!

It rained down flakes of father for the next fortnight or so —

a kind of blizzard, with terrific obscenity-laced snow . . . 


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.




Hillary Clinton’s Dad

I’m sorry, Mrs. Clinton, but your father was a jerk;

the kind who thought of sadism as just another perk.

Don’t take it hard when I insist he wasn’t worth a damn;

many of us had the same harsh circumstances, ma’am.

Sometimes it’s DESPITE our folks that we succeed at all,

and escape heredity without a nasty brawl.  

from a story in the New York Times 


Second Marriage.


There are brave souls who crash and burn, and yet will try again

To find in matrimony loving kindness and pure Zen.

They seek a second spouse because the first one didn’t work;

And who am I to judge them with a snigger or a smirk?


But I find as a bachelor I’m happy and content;

I do not want another mate my feelings to ferment.

I wake up in the morning without lists of things to do.

I go to bed at night with a good book, and not a shrew.


I hope you will excuse me if I state that matrimony

To me is not a blessing but instead just plain baloney.

If I want anxiety and many tears be shedding,

I’ll invest in stocks & bonds, and NOT in pricey wedding! 

Ellen Pao


Now it’s time for me to go back to my fam’ly, friends;

To work at my career and hope the brutal saga ends.

The court has rendered verdict and I choose not to appeal;

I think it is undignified to continue with this spiel.


Do I think the jury made the right decision – no!

I had cause for action (as the jury sure did know).

I was treated shabby after ending an affair

With a fellow worker who was too much of a square.


Silence, now, is golden, and I will no longer litter

The media with my thoughts (excepting maybe Twitter).

I will greet all queries with an oriental smile

(since my husband Buddy is now scheduled for trial).

from a story in the LA Times 

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.

The “Bad” Mom.

(Inspired by a story by Aimee Blanchette)

My mother never loved me, cuz she never would supply

Me with probiotics or a knotted Windsor tie.

She often tucked me into bed and left me in the dark

Without a bedtime story—which I think was pretty stark.


I always felt neglected when Art Linkletter was on;

She wouldn’t bother to get up and fetch me a pecan.

And when I said a bad word I did not get therapy;

A bar of soap inside my mouth was good enough for me.


She liked to use Chef Boyardee when she was in a rush,

And poisoned me with sugar in my cereal and mush.

She let my laundry pile up, let my shoe laces all fray.

You never would mistake her for a stainless Doris Day!


She gossiped with the neighbors when I needed a nose wipe,

And didn’t care when I ate apples green and quite unripe.

My mother fell down on the job of making me behave.

I’m sorry to report that she was NOT the perfect slave.    

My Old Man Was a Bartender.


My old man was a bartender who pulled a lot of beer.

He never thought of wine without a strong blue collar sneer.

Twas nightclub stuff, or made in vats in ethnic basement holes,

And anyone who asked for it was cursed down to their soles.


He’s gone to where bartenders go – at least he’s off his feet.

I wonder if he’s sipping red while angel choirs bleat?

More likely he is pouring Bud for all the damned in Hell,

And still refusing vino to his thirsty clientele.


I do not shed a tear for his departure, to be frank.

He left me liking beer while thinking wine was sour swank.

But how can I develop any character at all

If I do not with some Chablis occasionally sprawl?


Cues to a Bad Relationship — 35, to be Exact.



  1. You only stroll hand in hand when you’re handcuffed together.
  2. You give her flowers when she has hay fever; she gives you chocolates when you are on a diet.
  3. If you’re not arguing, you’re asleep.
  4. You take taxis everywhere, because when either one drives the other has hysterics.
  5. Your wedding plans not only include a prenup, but a set of the Marquis of Queensbury Rules.
  6. You treat each other with so much exaggerated courtesy that others suspect you are trying to kill each other with kindness.
  7. You both join a church just to learn more about what hell will be like for each other.
  8. Your prospective in-laws have contacted Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not about you.
  9. You’re already in arbitration about who’s in charge of the TV remote.
  10. You get along fine, when you both have laryngitis.
  11. In the grocery store you both ask for sour grapes.
  12. You have “I’m sorry” tattooed on your arm, and she has “I told you so!” tattooed on the back of her shoulder.
  13. When you go out for dinner, you not only ask for separate checks . . . but separate tables.
  14. You begin to wonder if you can have a soul mate without a soul.
  15. Any room you’re in together needs air conditioning.
  16. You not only rub each other the wrong way, you give each other splinters.
  17. You may be evenly yoked, but you keep spitting out the bit.
  18. ‘Teamwork’ sounds like a type of punishment to you.
  19. You know exactly where you want to hold each other’s funeral – and when.
  20. The only way you can hold your tongue is to pretend it’s the other one’s throat.
  21. You can’t imagine living without him or her – but you’d like to try.
  22. You are right for each other in all the wrong ways.
  23. You’re not a couple, you’re a chain reaction.
  24. You work well with a crosscut saw, because when one pulls the other pushes.
  25. Curiosity takes the place of romance.
  26. The volume of communication rises the longer you are together.
  27. You can forgive the past, but not the future.
  28. You are ready to take your relationship to the next level, and hope that there will be a deep cliff nearby.
  29. You’ve both learned a new language – sarcasm.
  30. You no longer shave every day, and neither does she.
  31. It started as puppy love, then went to the dogs.
  32. Your partner is still your mirror image, but cracked and with the silver lining gone.
  33. You are two minds with but a single thought – mayhem.
  34. You use the word ‘tolerance’ with each other when what you mean is ‘indifference’.
  35. You know you have finally found the right person to be with – yourself.

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The Unemployed Father.

Unemployed father and his son.  Lindsay, California.

Daddy takes me to the park, he always does the dishes;

On rainy days we stay at home, watch DVDs with fishes.

He pours the milk on cereal, and gives me too much sugar.

He wipes my nose real carefully, to get out ev’ry booger.

He tucks me in most ev’ry night, and likes to tell me stories

Of wizards, knights, and giants who are seeking greater glories.

O, I am happy daddy’s home while mommy works a heap.

But why is it when no one looks, my daddy has to weep?