Fighting Lady

Powered by under-belly wheels
State-of-the-art motorized assault battleship
She was Remco’s new Fighting Lady

Christmas 1960
I wanted her more than anything
First saw her, Saturday morning TV
Most beautiful woman I had ever seen

Complete with gun-tracking system
rotating pom poms
ash can depth charges
functional plane catapult, and a landing boat

Vividly imagined myself on her bridge
giving commands
steering her
through dangerous Japanese-infested waters

Her two-tone gray body
complete with U.S. Navy insignias
gave me goose bumps
as only a beautiful woman can do

Longed to possess her
Fill my out-of-control boyhood urge for control
Prayed Mom and Dad would approve
of my Christmas marriage to her

To my delight they did
Come Christmas Day, there she was
in her tan and red box, with a red bow
waiting for me under the Christmas tree

Eventually, other women caught my eye
but at nine, she was most special
To this day I wonder
whatever became of my Fighting Lady

Happy Birthday Mary

Fifty-seven years ago
Under three feet of snow
You entered this beautiful world
While wind-blown snowflakes swirled

Mom and Dad so happy, you were a girl
On your forehead, a pretty golden curl
Eyes of blue, cheeks so rosy
Fast alseep with Mom, oh so cozy

Not long before, you were walking
And just as fast, you were talking
Dolls and girly things you loved
Such a little lady indeed, my beloved

Dad, a fireman, was your hero
Fighting fires, thank goodness no Ground Zero
Mom, your daily keeper
Glad she was, you were a good sleeper

In no time flat, you were off to school
Always you observed, the Golden Rule
You grew so fast, and oh so pretty
I wish I knew you then, my what a pity

Always goals, you had in mind
Things to do, new places to find
You loved to smile, laugh and play
Hard you worked everyday

Through school you flew, then off to college
There you gained much new knowledge
A heart of gold, you always had
Just like Ken, your good ole Dad

By some miracle, we found each other
So happy we’ve been, one and another
I count you as my lucky star
Your eyes they twinkle, from afar

Today we celebrate your birth
With rubies, diamonds and some mirth
On this day, we honor you
With this birthday, your life renews

Our Timeless Souls

Beginning of time–
a starting place for the clock
but not for you, or me
Too often, the clock
married to time, enslaves us
locking us into one dimension
missing all others

Too often, we lose track
of all that exists outside time
Like the soul, which is timeless
knowing nothing of minutes, hours
days, months and years
To the soul, a minute is a year
and a year but a minute

It’s easy to mistake
what beckons us deeply
for the clock’s ticking
and time’s insistent prodding
It’s easy to forget
time reaches only so far
and the soul so much farther

Seeing the Real Me

Sometimes I wish
I could see myself differently–
as I really am
Free of all illusion
expectation, and
most of all pretense

Sometimes I wish
the actors, plays
and the drama they bring forth
would go on strike
Refusing to perform
Leaving an empty stage

Sometimes I wish
I could step past
all that built up
over my lifetime
and step onto stage
as just myself

Karmic Wheel

That overlooked, we become
Tracks us down, like a hungry wolf
Eventually catching up, devours us
Leaving nothing, but itself

That forgotten, returns
Haunting us, night and day
When least suspected, it floods back
Taking with it, all we protect

That which we pretend to be
engraves its name upon us
for all to see what we have become, and
what we are no longer

And so turns the wheel
around and around
until at last
its work with us is done

Swamplands of the Soul

James Hollis, a Jungian psychotherapist from the Philadelphia area, wrote Swamplands of the Soul in 1996. I have just finished the book and enjoyed nearly every word.

Hollis raises deep questions for all of us. Is the purpose of life to achieve happiness? Who does not long to arrive some distant day at that sunlit meadow where we may abide in pure contentment? But we know life is not like that. Much of the time we are lost in the dismal states of guilt, grief, betrayal, depression and the like.

Swamplands of the Soul explores the quicksands where we have all floundered. It lights a beacon of hope by showing what they mean in terms of our individual journey and the engendering of soul. Encompassing both the meadow and the bog, this author’s perspective asserts that the goal of life is not happiness but meaning. And meaning, though it may not be all sunlight and blossoms, is real.

I especially enjoyed Hollis’ use of poetry throughout the book, drawing upon the works of Rilke, Shelley, Yeats, Eliot, Auden and Robert Frost.

Interested in reading the book? Click here.

Friends Who Dare to Love

Walk with me, be my friend
Continue on, till the end
And when the road disappears
Let’s sit together, count the years

Not one forgotten, or let go by
Each a precious star, in the sky
Then, when each is accounted for
We open yet one final door

Through it together, we slowly walk
Words we hold, do not talk
Once on the other side of time
We await the bells, till they chime

Then through the valley, they echo long
Fill us deeply, with their song
Throughout the night, our love burns strong
Our hearts rejoice, forever we belong

Giving Thanks for My Family

Thanksgiving Day
Giving thanks, for family
Those touching me
most deeply
In gratitude, humbly bowing
in their direction

Mom and Dad
Original veins
feeding my mystery
Through whom
the ultimate mystery worked
This being, my being, made possible

Diana, Doug
Sharing roots
In kindred spirit
sisterhood, brotherhood
Growing up, alongside me
Tied by grace and blood

Jeffrey, Jason
Sons, noble princes
Of my flesh
Of my spirit
Their mysteries
tentacles, beyond me

Evan, Griffin
Beautiful extensions of their parents
Of my flesh
Of my spirit
Their mysteries
tentacles, beyond me

Soul mate
Chosen mystery keeper
Life dance partner
Love sustainer
balancing my footsteps

Extended family
Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews
Mary’s family
Extensions of us
Reaching outward
into the future

Divine One
Beyond words
To whom, all is owed
Asking nothing
Giving everything
Eternal flame within us

Holiday Nostalgia

Nostalgia always finds me
during the holiday season
I tried to hide this Thanksgiving
but eventually, she tracked me down
like a skilled hunter her prey

She nailed me early this year
Flooding me with scenes, faces
symbols, voices, lost feelings
Most scattered memories–
patches of sun and clouds, holidays long ago

A fire gets lit inside me
whenever nostalgia visits
Washing me back, washing over me
Inviting me, once again
to become what I used to be

This year, inviting me
to be that mischievous young boy
whose playful tricks and jokes brought laughter
at wastefully tense and dull dining room moments
Family, be thankful, but beware this Thanksgiving.

Countdown Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day
What can I say
Four days to go
Hope we get some snow

Cranberries, turkey, oh the dressing
But always first, say a blessing
Pumpkin pie, not ala mode
All this food, stuffed like a toad

Family time, all come together
Always fun, big endeavor
Macy’s Parade, on the tube
Beats playing, Rubik’s Cube

Giving thanks, for everything
Lucky us, so we sing
Backward glances, we recall
Thanksgivings past, good for all

Stuffed we are, at day’s end
On the phone, greetings send
To those not here
We give some cheer

Count the days
Hearts ablaze
Let us cheer
Thanksgiving Day, almost here

Long to Be Wild

Long to be wild
Be nature’s child
Rabbits from hats
Night cries, wild cats

Climbing ever higher
Nothing left, desire
Novelty, each breath
Songs linger, past death

Somewhere in between
Truth we wean
Long to be wild
Be nature’s child

Fire inside, never tame
Always wild, never same
Many forms, all are one
Life multitudinous, burning sun

Play, you will
Distant dreams fulfill
Long to be wild
Be nature’s child

Old, new, side by side
Child of wild, therein hides
Never doubt resides
In the wild, truth abides

In Over My Head

I’m five feet ten inches tall
Average height for an American male
When standing in three feet of water
my head is well above water

When standing in six feet of water
I’m slightly in over my head, and
I can jump up and down, and
bring my head above water

When standing in twelve feet of water
I’m considerably in over my head
Short of floating to the surface
there’s no way to get my head above water

At the bottom of a deep glacier lake
I’m really in over my head
There’s no standing, even for a second
at this unfathomable depth

Clearly, there’s no trouble
understanding any of this
So, why can’t I figure out
when I am in over my head in life?

Why don’t I realize that
when I say yes to 5 work projects
due in the same week
that I am in over my head?

Why do I fail to grasp the insanity
of working twelve-hour days
five days a week, and
two four-hour days on weekends?

Thanks to GE former-CEO Jack Welch
there is a business concept called a stretch goal
which refers to performance expectations
exceeding resources available to reach them

Am I a victim of too many stretch goals?
Have I mistaken myself for a fish
with the ability to breathe underwater?
Gee, maybe I’m in over my head!

Starlight Twinkle

Starlight twinkle
Long early November night
Memories linger ever deeper
Beyond where daylight penetrates

Times before tomorrow
Lost forever midnight
Loose thoughts
lie among the pieces

Willful smiles
Way beyond the ages
Leave us, without answers
Words, but no delight

I will forever wonder
What is done is right
In shadows, lie the answer
Amidst the dawn, early moonlight

Note: A feeling type poem.

Hot Shots

They’re everywhere
Not just in Hollywood, Congress
strutting their stuff on Fifth Avenue
playing left field for the Boston Red Sox, or
serving on City Council in Small Town U.S.A.

You also find them
singing in the church choir
attending to the needs of the sick
spouting off at Al’s barbershop, and
even teaching poetry at the local college

Everyone has one–
that is an ego, and
everyone, from time to time
gets lost in themself
failing to see the bigger picture

Why just the other day
I listened to a man talk
on servant leadership, and
in 28 very long minutes
he referred to himself 47 times
But who’s counting?

Self-important buffoons
Men and women of God
Smarty pants intellectuals
Control freaks of all sorts
All, intolerable hot shots!

Aiden Steven

Some of us don’t need long
to fulfill our life purpose
Nine months, four days
A very short life, indeed
That’s all Aiden Steven needed
before God called him back home

Obituaries are hard
especially those for young children
Aiden, a Gaelic name
meaning fire, and also
a name referring to Saint Aidan
a very old monastery in Ireland

I didn’t know Aiden Steven
My wife read his obituary in the paper
and tears filled her eyes
as she saw his angelic face
Her tears moved me, but
all I could do was write this poem


To some, an in-between place
for the soul’s cleansing
before its final transcripts are submitted
for admission to Heaven

Like one final car wash
getting off ALL the dirt
before you turn in the keys
and stop driving forever

Like stopping in Cleveland
to re-fuel, or repair landing gear
before continuing your flight
from New York to Chicago

Like in football, getting stopped
on fourth down, at the fifty yard line
on a last second drive
to the goal line

Here’s to hoping
your overall GPA is high enough
for immediate admission to Heaven
without re-taking any life courses


Earliest feeders
at morning’s first light
Latest feeders
at evening’s last light

Always an order to their feeding
Males, brilliant red
always dine first, but
females, tan with a tinge of red
are not far behind

Hear their sharp calls back and forth:
“chip, chip, chip”
Once a mate is spotted
we hear their distinctive song:
“Cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what, what.”

On this quiet frosty November morn
their voices carry, like gunshots
telling us it’s time
to get out of bed
and be about our day

Santa Claus

Santa Claus
Mythical hero extraordinaire
Innocent enough, on the surface
Deeper down?
He is far more

Santa, a symbolic source of fulfillment
for our child-like psychic wanting
Our insatiable longing
for more than offered us
by any given moment

I’m not sorry I believed
in Santa Claus
He’s one of the reasons
I made more of my life
than I might have otherwise

As a child, I believed
magic could work for me
Know what? I still do, and
I’m not sorry
I still believe in magic

My only regret about Santa
is that he was a night owl
I’m a morning person
Guess that’s why
I still want things in life

What Draws Us Back

Combing the years for answers
Something, helping me find
what I thought was lost
that turned out never to exist
in the first place

This backward-looking
Far more than nostalgia
Closer, perhaps, to an obsession
Clinging to old feelings
still looking for a home

Deep down, I know
there is no going back, yet
even deeper down I know
I want to go back
just to come back around again

What haunts me, drives me–
back to events, people and places
more imagined than real, and
even more ineffable today
than what I thought was real back then

My obsession, an equal longing
for what is deeply simple, within grasp
and what is inaccessible and totally illusive
like the light from a distant star
taking years to reach us

Yet, it is this light
keeping me awake nights
It is this light
coming from so very far
stirring me back in time

Partial Awakening

fast asleep
the world turns
at a moment’s notice
in unforeseen directions
like those carrying us, back
to our adolescent years

awakening, slowly
still filled with dreams
leftover night promises
then, morning comes
washing away
what was never there

only then, cleansed
we glimpse something beyond
self-deception, misperception
something, we ourselves
must wear inside us–a curtain
hiding us from ourselves

In Search of God They Murder

Many over 10,000 pounds
standing 10 to 12 feet tall
Among God’s most grand creatures
Hunted, brutally slaughtered for their tusks
Senselessly stripped of life

And for what?
Just to feed a mindless fetish
for ivory pendants and trinkets
designed to ward off evil
and move souls closer to God

Wouldn’t this journey to God
be much shorter
without such evil, and simply
following the elephants’ footsteps
into the summer sunset?

Always in Good Taste

Gaudy, Mother Nature is not
Never does she show poor taste
how she displays herself
Can you think of a time?

We may disagree with the clouds
she hangs overhead, and
the rain they dump on our parade
But hardly gaudy, you would agree

Yet, as we look in the cosmic mirror
it often seems we, as one
of her more able creatures
fail to live up to her high standards

Why else would we paint over
her beautiful forests and streams
with all our houses, roads and utility lines?
Someone please take away the brush!

Slowly it seems, we are catching on
It’s high time, we show better taste
in how we live our lives
Don’t you think?

Rant: Sometimes I wonder what the heck
we are doing to our world. We build beyond
what we need. Less is more. Don’t you think?

People of the Lie

Liars await around every corner
Coming in all shapes and sizes
Peddling deceit
Twisting truth
Dodging what truth demands

Rather than give in to reality
they cling to ego’s shadows
hiding under layer upon layer of lies
Though they pray for light
only darkness comes

The liar jeopardizes our integrity
befalls our character
sucks out our dignity
rubs away our goodness, and
ultimately robs us of who we are

There is hope
You can fight back
against the people of the lie
Not by changing them, but
by honoring the truth inside yourself

Note: M. Scott Peck, M.D., a psychiatrist, Christian
theologian and well-known author, wrote a disturbing,
but tremendously insightful book called People of the Lie:
Hope for Healing Human Evil in 1983. Peck was perhaps
best known for his 1978 book The Road Less Traveled.
I heard Peck talk in the Cleveland area about both books
in 1984. M. Scott Peck died in 2005.

Watching My Name is Earl

Made a serious mistake
Watched My Name is Earl last night on TV
Suffered permanent brain damage
from the experience

Know the show?
Hopefully not
It’s a solid hour of sheer lunacy
Craziness beyond description

Not one of the show’s characters
has an IQ above 75
Nothing against Earl, or hillbillies
After all, I grew up in Appalachia

Some experiences require no repeat
Watching My Name is Earl is one of them
Hopefully my brain cells will regenerate
If not, my poetry life may be over


On our doorstep
goblins, witches, angels,
Bart Simpson, transformers,
Elvis, vampires, and
perhaps a crossdresser
Oh God, I hope not, but
that was some homely woman

Halloween, come and gone
Tossing October aside, and
hurling us into November
Leaving us breathless,
thinking Thanksgiving turkey
Donning winter coats, now
we dream of a white Christmas

Where does time go?
One moment, it’s May
the next, Halloween
Time flies…
fast as trick or treaters
on and off
our pumpkin-filled front porch