Up Close and Nuclear

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Up Close and Nuclear


When was I knighted?
I remember no sword
laid like a butterfly
on my tingling shoulder.
I know of no deed
in my patchy past
warranting raising
my persona to peerage.

But, as I walk the streets
of the town, in spring
when the lawnmowers roar,
or fall when leaf blowers howl 
like no known animal,
and I say Good Morning
to young men wielding them,
it’s always Good Morning, Sir.

But, I want to cry
to them, coffee-colored,
laboring raising
their lives from peonage
no, no, tenfold No!
I’m not an earl, a duke,
just an ordinary guy,
your peer, one with you.
And really, not that old.


                                 for Ed Nammour
It seems a travesty, a lyric perversity,
greeting a friend, not seen for weeks,
the sun shining like a harvest feast,                
to protest my poetry progress is weak 
I have world enough and time
while he, poet in spirit at least, 
produces TV spots full time 
in today’s endless-stress, killer ad-versity,
with hardly time enough or world 
to read, much less write, a poem, 
all I have to do, conversely, 
is look inside the glass-door knob 
of infinitely reflecting facets 
of a flickering personality
and look outside at the infinitely mysterious facts 
of this wondrous, ravishing absurdity
of a world, and invest, 
where they co-exist,
in the gravity, and grace, of a lyric.

In Walmart

Through the automated, so accommodating doors,
past rows of carts gaping with emptiness,
I walk onto the floor of this windowless fortress,
and am floored.
Above, left and right, the ceiling stretches away to the horizon,
so wide I fantasize a jet winging across the sky.
Ahead, in an area larger than Chartres cathedral,
pillars support shelves of – kyrie eleizon!
Lord, have mercy upon us – things,
in the tens of thousands things, and my breath slows to a crawl, 
lettuces, blouses, vanities, pliers, recliners, thongs.
Thinking I need less salvation than a lesson
in navigation, I seek a person –
tiny, under five feet, under 90 pounds, under 20, under (she seems) stress –
who gestures, straight, left, right, 
like a priest making the sign of the cross.
Aisle by cross-aisle, I walk past the mass
I do not want, washers, fridges, vanities, mirrors, kitsch sketches.
At a crossroads again I ask –
small boned, meek as a lamb, seeming as self-contained as a box of matches –
and I weave, ever deeper, into the maze.
Finally, in this container of vast width and breadth but, 
under acres of flat white ceiling with de minimis 
height, I arrive at the spot 
holding – hallelujah! –
my item (credo in unum), 
and I learn from the uniform –
minimum wage, minimalist breasts, possible purple rage compressed like phosphorous? –
Domine, dona nobis pacem, oh Lord, give us peace,
it’s sold out.  

What they’re saying about Up Close And Nuclear:

 “ … another stunning collection …”

“ … moving, generous, lyrical …”

“His language both echoes a shared canon and creates new words, bringing immedicacy and depth to his work”

“ … timeless themes of love, meaning and human connection …”