Saturday, December 15, 2012


In the interface between the warm water of the lake and the cooler air above, transpiring water molecules cool and condense, forming irregular columns of white mist.

Cool September morning—
nymphs dance above the lake.
Warped, surreal, ethereal spirits,
like smoke from smoldering fires
in the stark post-dawn air.

Neither here nor there,
neither moving nor static,
they hang above the lake
ascending all the time,
but never going up.

Friday, December 14, 2012


[Published on the Dead Beats Literary Blog, December 12, 2012]


[San Francisco, 2007]

Walking round North Beach
I realize that I am late—
fifty years too late.

I’ve missed all the right
eras, nothing left for my
kind, no place for us

who hear the diff’rent
drummer; who search for the beat,
the beat that pulses

beneath suburban
streets, unheard, unfelt by most;
who sit in quiet

corners at football
parties, bored, wanting to scream
a sonnet, or speak

only in haiku—
anything but endless blather
of suburban males.

So I walk North Beach
searching for something to fix
my soul, my trapped soul—

trapped by my psyche,
damn responsible psyche—
soul yearning to roam,

to wander and watch
life; writing all life, being
life—living, living, living.

God! I wish I could
yawp from the rooftops! I wish
I knew how to howl.


[published on the Dead Beats Literary Blog, December 12, 2012]


If we had all eternity,
and could spend all time in Eden;
if we could live our lives in bliss,
and innocent simplicity;
if that could be ours forever—
     I still would eat your ripened fruit;
     and know that it was good.

If we could walk in Eden’s groves,
in presence of almighty God,
who promised all we’d ever need,
kept safe from want through all our years;
if that could be ours forever—
     I still would taste your sweet delights,
     and would not feel ashamed.

If eating from the tree of life
meant that we’d be cast from Eden;
if sipping nectar from your rose
led to exile from God’s presence
and mortal life of pain and toil—
     I still would eat life’s fruit with you,
     and always feel fulfilled.

Walking North Beach with the Dead Beats

Two more poems of mine were posted on the Dead Beats Literary Blog:  "Walking North Beach" and "The Fruit You Offer Me," although I'll have to admit that based on the e-mail the editors sent me, I don't think they intended to post the latter poem.  It wasn't separated out with the title in bold, but rather was presented as if it was an appendage to the "Walking North Beach."  No matter.  Any posting is a good posting. 

I'm glad they selected to post "Walking North Beach" as it seemed so apt for their site.  The poem came to mind as I was, as the title clearly suggests, walking through North Beach in San Francisco.  North Beach was, of course, the hang out of the Beat poets.  Whenever I am in San Francisco (which so far has been all of two times), I go to North Beach to buy a book or two at City Lights Books, to eat dinner, drink coffee (or beer), and simply hang out soaking up the ambience and the history that is there.  The poem is a rumination on being out of place and out of time; of not quite fitting in; of being out of step with peers.  You can read it here:

"The Fruit You Offer Me" is a poem of a different nature and theme compared to "Walking North Beach."  I wrote it for my wife, Kathy.  It draws upon the story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  At one level, it's a love poem.  At another, is a poem of defiance, in which the speaker is essentially saying he doesn't care that blind obedience to God will result in a life of simplicity and bliss, free from want or toil, he will risk expulsion from paradise in order to exercise free will and live life to its fullest.  You can find the poem at the link above, after you walk through North Beach.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

What is "published" and what is the purpose of this blog?

I have been thinking about the nature of personal blogs, such as this one, in relation to the definition of "published."  The topic has crossed my mind numerous times since starting this blog, primarily when I read the submission guidelines to various literary journals and realized that my poems were ineligible for consideration because I had posted them on the internet via this blog.  Some journals define "published" as any posting to the internet.  Others may refine that a bit by considering the poem "published" if there is no intention to make further substantive edits.  Other journals simply state that a poem cannot be published in any other print or on-line journal or in another person's blog.

This issue was on my mind recently as I read the submission guidelines for a local poetry contest to which I would very much like to submit a poem.  I have a poem the subject of which I think would be very appropriate for the contest given that the winning poem is posted on the door of the institution running the contest.  The contest guidelines stipulate that the submitted poem cannot be under consideration elsewhere and it cannot have appeared on the internet.  I already had submitted my poem to a journal for consideration, so it is ineligible for the contest on that basis, but I also had posted it on this blog.  The contest deadline is a couple months away, so I still have time to receive a reply from the journal.  But, in preparation for the possibility that the poem will not be accepted by the journal, I removed it from this blog.  I "unpublished" it, if you will.

A second event focused my attention on this issue.  The editor of a local journal posted a comment on the journal's facebook page reiterating the importance of reading and then adhering to submission guidelines, including not submitting works that had been published elsewhere, including on-line.  The editor did note that posting of a poem to one's personal blog might not be considered published if substantial revisions were subsequently made.  My response, and then responses to a subsequent question that I posed on my facebook page, produced an interesting view of the murkiness of the whole issue.  I won't recount all the comments at this time (they may become the basis of an essay that will appear later).  A few key points were raised:

1.  Journals have the right to set their respective submission and acceptance guidelines.

2.  Journals have an interest in protecting their content and one-time publication rights.  After all, if readers can find the poem on-line on the poet's page, why acquire a copy of the journal? 

3.  The poem is the intellectual property of the poet, who has the right to distribute his or her work for comment and to share with others.

4.  The personal blog can be simply another medium for sharing one's work with others, akin to reading aloud at a poetry event, handing out a paper copy of a poem, or sending a copy by e-mail to someone who has expressed interest.  The difference, I will admit, between these other distribution formats and a personal blog, is that in the other instances people have made a conscious decision to hear the poet read or to ask for a copy.  A personal blog on the internet can also be akin to a book on a shelf in a bookstore, across which someone stumbles.

5.  Intent is key.  What is the purpose of the blog?  To make poems available for comment, even poems that in the poet's mind are in final or near final form?  Is it a marketing tool by which the poet puts his or work out there for a publisher to find and perhaps express interest?  Is it a means of storing poems digitally in a location that is backed up routinely and maintained by others?  In other words, an alternative storage site should poet's harddrive crash, thumbdrives fail or get lost, and paper files get destroyed? 

6.  The entire issue is murky; boundaries between what is considered published and what is merely posted are fuzzy at best.

For now, I have removed from this site all poems that have not been published with the exception of a few that will definitely be revised prior to submission as well as a few that are not intended for publication.  If you saw something here in the past that has since been removed and would like a copy, or if you are interested in reading my unpublished poems, please e-mail me at or