Thursday, November 29, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018



in country the My Lai tragedy

occurred before my time

and the lesser Seymour Hersh story

on Ky Chanh, Quang Tin Province,

was before my time as well

but my patrol route

on Highway One

was through Ky Chanh

and I remember once near Ky Chanh

seeing children play with a stick and ball

with what looked like a pitcher's mound and a home plate

and then there were four bases

now I wish I had stopped

taught them something about the game

but that would mean time travel

you can't get there from now


Michael Casey
Check Points
Aastra Press, 2011

Michael Casey was born in 1947 in Lowell, Massachusetts. After graduating from Lowell Technological Institute in 1968, Casey was drafted into the US Army and served as a military policeman in Missouri and Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province. His first collection of poetry, Obscenities, was published in 1972 and chosen for the Yale Younger Poets Award. The poems were largely inspired by his time in Vietnam. 

Monday, November 26, 2018


Amen, Brother

He wasn’t happy

about any part of his

job and I’d wager

even his life knee-

deep in snow

cranking away

on two gas

tanks when

he said with

scorn, “Happiness

isn’t everything

it’s cracked up

to be” — amen

brother, but if I

took away your

wrench and

doubled the

snow depth

up to your neck

I promise you

you’ll miss

this little bit

of happiness

you have


The girls around the perfume display

giggle & talk like idiots —

what freedom!


He was visiting a

relative at the nursing

home where off to the side

he went to find a drinking

fountain when a little old

woman in a wheelchair

appeared next to him and

said matter-of-factly

“get. me. out. of. here.”

they didn't even know

one another

in those circumstances

they didn't have to

as quickly asked

and an eye-blink of

recognition between them

she was whisked away by someone

leaving him to

grow old and wise

    for Kim

Redwing (Steel Toe)

When I bought his boots

At the garage sale

He handed them over 

Looking me in the eyes

Bob Arnold
Heaven Lake

Longhouse 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Friday, November 23, 2018


R E A D      M E

Christine Burgin
The University of Chicago Press

Thursday, November 22, 2018


University of California

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Why Write?

He's going to tell you

Library of America

Monday, November 19, 2018


Watch How It’s Done

Today in a town

back parking lot

where we like

to park I leaned

against the truck

and watched for

a long time a gray

squirrel move a

large enough

brown paper bag

with its mouth

up a tree and out

onto the thinnest

limb where he

waited for the limb

to bow and place

him neatly onto the

three-story roof

and then scramble

across the ridge line

and up an eight foot

chimney and down

into the chimney where

of course he was

building his home

No one said he couldn’t 

I love builders


You know a rat

When you hear a

Rat in the ceiling

Modern Credo

You have to

Be careful and

Not be too nice

You don’t want

To be looked upon


Stop Light

With only a few passengers

the bus driver figures

it’s as good a time as any

to comb his hair

Bob Arnold
Heaven Lake

Longhouse 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Childhood in the Latin Caribbean

I was child mountain
lived in a Latin American country
till I was five,
My grandfather was a cigar maker,
a tobacconist, rolled the leaves
Ancient craft.
Mother and father brought
together by custom routine,
young and curious,
primero balcony stares,
held hands for a while.
The plaza, Catholic Church,
life there was Pueblo ocio
arrested by boredom
Rutina tedium.
Marry young jibara
wooden house
Christ on the cross
over the bed
Covered by mosquito net,
nocturnal bolero voices
could be Julio, el Bohemio
in cancion
always sang,
everyone cantando
Even the rocks sang.
I was there in the air
not yet born but alive
counting the tamarindo
Coconut lollipops.
anxious to be white sombrero
getting hints upon the weaving of straws
glances from eyes like music
Shadow depth, the porcelain tinge
Surrounds the pearl black eyes
Of the girls.
Otro lelolay.
Destiny had other plans.
Life has no pity,
It moves forward.
Someone told me
man of father’s generation that
he was quiet in school,
that he made it somehow
from the mountaintop barrio Bayamoncito
into the town each day
the tribulation labor, secret that
people took in silence,
my mother refunfuñar (bickered)
as her family was everyday town-
her father the dignity of the 
black café and brandy six in
the morning rolling cigars,
sun falling singing with Alegria boleros
Together rolling the life given
the tobacco cape leaf
Wrapping the guts, pajilla
tight cigars.
Later Chicago Mafiosos will smoke
Porto Rico American Tobacco Company
New Jersey ‘mericans
owned the production of cigars
los tabaqueros just rolled
what the mountains gave,
the Taino ancestral leaf
in your finger,
To which they sang
Poetry of the Spanish golden
Age in Cuban bolero sway.
Habaneros for the New York
Antiquity awakes in the
now, the past dreams in the future.
Boleros de Rosa-Julia
Persist, the image tomorrow
Someone else the same,
a different similarity,
my root of earth.
Modernity does what it does?
I maintain 
macho Cimarrón,
the old café tobacco cane night
Flavor churning
grind bones.
Limbes tamarindo, coco
at Dona Rufa’s.
Café con leche,
ensalat bacalao
Rosada beans,
yucca with olive oil
twas my country,
Black eyes
launch from black hair
Skin rosa brown,
What can improve?
upon a day
of our hot wintertime,
We jumped from the
Into the freezer
Cold November,
the cruelest month
Excusez moi
T. S. Eliot
April lluvia
Brings mayo flores.
Mother’s schools
included math riddles
With poetry jingles,
As father Severo accomplished
numbers in addition
astute with the economy
he never slept.
Forward we went into
New York of the early
50s into the future
with the past,
into the English
with the Spanish,
in a movie rerun
the mountains melt
with the bricks.
Eyes hang sideways
upon Guayaba trees frozen
East side school yards.
Guitars strum history
bolero broadcast
amor trovadors,
singing back into the layla night
the lyrics.
Awkward language sounds
Still photos crumbled
In compost moisture.
A lone plaza photograph
A post spelling RECUERDOS
Of a country of childhood
Which dissolves
bright memory,
Now a now, is all there is.



Saturday, November 17, 2018


Five Poems



clop clop of a

horse, no, a

coin rattled in a

paper cup




too small

to belong



footprints in the snow coming home, all the rest of last year forgotten



e.g., the Russian

theologian who felt

compelled to believe

Hell existed, but,

such was God's

mercy, no one

was in it.


Harmonica's two-

note wheeze, a

boy riding his father's

shoulders down 20th St.


Michael O' Brien

To the River

Flood Editions