May 2021


About Poemography

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of my Poem-A-Day Project, I am reprising my daily poetry challenge in 2021.

Every day this year—from January 1st until the 31st of December—I will create a new poem inspired by whatever moves me at the moment I sit down to compose that day's poem, publishing them here with subscription-free access for all.  

Every Tuesday throughout the year, I will write and publish one bonus poem that will be available exclusively to my Patrons on Patreon.

In 2022, I will publish a book of my complete poems, spanning more than 40 years of poetry writing. The complete collection of poems will be published in a limited edition hardbound book available for purchase. As an added feature, I'm considering releasing some of the poems in this collection as spoken word recordings by a variety of special guest readers. Enjoy the year!



I've always been afraid of drowning

I grew up hearing stories about our

Next door neighbor's youngest son

Who drowned at the High Ridge Y

I've swum by myself so many times

Alone in lakes, pools and seas; on

Sunny days and under starry skies

But always with certain trepidation

The fear of drowning incessantly on

My mind as I swim beneath the cold

Flowing water completely immersed

In the idea of never breathing again


Even now during cherished moments

Whilst pampering myself in the bath

My enjoyment is often interrupted by

Morbid images of Dolores O'Riordan


Part of Me

Part of me wants to sail quietly into the sunset

Yet another part of me wants to be the sunset;

While I'm consistent in all my inconsistencies

I've come to a watershed moment in my life

Every day a different dilemma, some new or

Nagging predicament that shuffles me out of

My element and diverts my attention to these

Uncompromisingly uncertain twists and turns

You say I should be happy with what I have

Let the universe guide me and trust in myself

Listen to the voices inside my head telling me

To believe that destiny will reveal my purpose

But part of me wants to go back to bed, let

The weight of the world fall upon someone

Else's shoulders; and part of me tries to lift

Myself out of the clutches of self-destruction


The Brothers Baptista

It's been a while since I've felt the

Authentic warmth of camaraderie;

Chewing the fat and sharing some

Quality time with a few good men

I've forgotten what a bond feels like

When kindred spirits unite and time

Stands still and nothing else matters

Except for that very moment in time

We chatted until well past midnight;

Drinking cider and sipping espresso

With Disaronno from the bottle you

Brought over to the shop last month

And we talked about ordinary things

Like work and music; but it was more

Than idle chitchat, it was the presence

Of brotherhood when I needed it most


The Fog is Lifting

It feels as if the affliction will never end

But it always does; the seasons, moon,

The winds of change always blowing

And blustery; then comes the sun

From the storm clouds emerge

Blinding rays of light illuminating

What had been hidden for too long

Revealing scars and remnants of sorrow

Then Wilma Jean and Bertha appeared to

Me in a dream; they were dressing in

Sequin covered gowns getting ready

To perform in the grand finale

I couldn't believe how young

And radiantly beautiful they had

Remained after all these years; they

Came to me like angels on a starry night


Looking Out of the Window

I oftentimes find myself standing in front of the window

Never really knowing why I went there in the first place

But I stand there nevertheless looking out at trees and the

Sky and birds and neighbors smoking out on their balconies

I stare into the distance and soon my mind begins to wander

And wonder; then questions begin inundating my thoughts

Distractions and contradictions callously disrupt the calm;

I close my eyes if only to center myself in my existence

And I make a soft white bread roll with peanut butter,

Honey and potato chips and sit upon a small white stool

Overcome by the sudden fear that an airplane might crash

Into the apartment, I contemplate how I will save my family

I have far too much time on my hands and a mind obviously

Riddled with riddles and belittled by little voices in my head

Constantly reminding me to go and stand in the window to

Look out into the vastness of the endless void of my reality


Ode to Weariness

There are some days when I don't

Recognize the person in the mirror

Some things are bigger, some are

Waning, weak, worn and weary

My body feels mangled, twisted,

Damaged beyond repair; decay

Perpetuating defeat on what was

Once rugged, resilient and lithe

But despite my efforts and zeal

To keep well, fit and balanced,

Nature has wreaked her cruelty

Upon my body, mind and soul

So, I will rest and heal and try

To gently restore what needs to

Be looked after; if only I could

Float amidst the clouds and sun



Decay is a discomforting tool

It rips the very life from one's

Being, soul and grace; death

No longer has a need for us

I've never been a craftsman

Able to skillfully tool a chair

But in my imagination I have

Done it time and time again

And in similar respects I have

Left you a thousand times only

To have my conscience return

Me to the point of departure

If only to withdraw far enough

To alleviate all of my suffering

In some faraway place where

You are only a distant memory


Retracing My Steps


I'm still chasing dreams

That one thing I'm good at

The thing that will tick all the

Boxes and satisfy my sentiments

I'm retracing my steps; going back

To my origins and earliest recollections

Where surely I'll find a clue as to what I

Have overlooked and where I can begin anew

But these journeys always lead to the same place;

Destinations that curry regret and disillusion

Reminders of failure and deficiency; but

I've missed something along the way

It was the moment of acceptance;

The very instant where I came to realize

That retracing my steps would only lead me

Back along the same path of turmoil and discontent




Year after year, the spectacle, the songs

The atrocious costumes, fatuous dancing

Millions spent in the name of entertainment

Better utilized on social programs or orphans

The dry, stilted humor of lackluster presenters

All the hokey special effects and graphics

The feigned applause and accolades

The honey dripping from mouths

One billion people represented

And it's these 26 low-talent oddballs

Who are, to our surprise, the best of the

Very best selected to represent their homelands

And when the dubiously questionable voting had

Ended and the dust of ambiguousness settled,

Rock and roll took the prize when it simply

Should have just Shut Up and Behave[d]


May 18, 2021​ (Delilah's Gift)

I came home late from work

Showered and got ready for bed

And discovered the little package you

Left for me under my blanket with what you made

A hand-folded envelope, note and a little balloon

Filled with tiny plastic beads like these Japanese

Mochi Squishy sensory toy stress relievers 

That are popular with kids these days

But it was the kindness of your gesture

That made me realize what a gift my entire

Life has been; not only its components—people,

Places, possessions, purpose—but the gift of life itself

Looking back over my life, I'd always reflected on all

I haven't been able to attain—fame, fortune, record

contracts, book deals, fancy cars, houses—only to

Realize that I never needed any of that at all



Gray skies always bring me back to Liverpool

But what I remember most about those years

Was the silence; a serenity, a pure and

 Calming quiet that eased my soul

We lived in a small apartment in

The city center in a building designed

In the 1880s; the units were mostly small

Duplexes; simple, modest, cozy and warm

And once you came inside and closed the

Door, it was as if time stood still and all

Of life's troubles were reduced to a

Soft, muffled, calm-inducing silence

I spent most of my days alone there

Cleaning, writing and biding my time;

We lived a practical and unassuming life

With few possessions and the innocence of joy


A Solemn Anniversary

The 45th anniversary of my bar mitzvah is

Approaching and I've recently browsed my

My photo album from that simcha only to find

That 50 of those in attendance have passed away

Some were family, others friends of my grandparents

But all gathered at The Northshore in Evanston to

Celebrate my right of passage; there was food

And merrymaking, dancing and dessert

Arnold and Sima Miller performed

Owen Scott Shirwo took photographs

My uncle Al said the prayer over the challah

My friends lit up the dance floor and Limbo stick

I look at all those faces and each one stirs up a

Hundred memories, anecdotes and emotions

From times gone by; those were the most

Splendid and innocent of all my days



Veiled in a shroud of ignorance

Lost in a sea of loneliness and

Unfilled dreams; your search

For identity should be within

You've lived your life in the

Shadows of others; unloved,

Unappreciated and unaware

Of your quest for enlightenment

Then you fell victim to the biggest

Lie of all; you thought it would

Save you, purify you, turn your

Misery into truth and salvation

But imprudence is an unchanging

State of being; and while your

Heart may be yearning to do

Good; your motives are moot


Savoir Faire

Granted, I have chosen a profession

Hardly chock-full of intellectuals and

Sophisticated gentlemen, and that's

Not suggesting I see myself as such

At my very best I can hold my own;

Engage at length about news of the

World; literature, war and political

Discourse; sports and entertainment

And while my dilettante skills may

Leave a lot to be desired, it is, I've

Been told, charisma and top notes

Of savoir faire that set me apart

But that's a blessing and a curse;

I think to myself how nice it would

Be if I was lauded equally for my

Mastery as I am for my blabbery


The Fray

It’s hard not to get caught up in the fray 
Life passes at such breakneck speeds

And just like that we become old

Decrepit beings at death's door

Frail and stinking, our lives are

The morning breath of the farcical

Daydreams we've slept through and

The nightmares we succumb to each day

We bleed, we cry, we carry the traumas

Of our ancestors whose lives were

Little more than glum travesties

And harrowing sacrifices


But there's more to behold;

An indelible longing to survive

To weather the storms and confront

The deluge of life's interminable suffering



It brings a sort of levity and peace of mind 
Looking back on one’s entire life with all its
Foibles and the harsh reality that everything

Has been a fiction; that it's all been a wash

With the sudden and very stark realization
That you’ve already had a second chance,

 And fucked that up too, makes it as plain as

The nose on your face that it's time to re-think

But it's not as bad as it seems; now there will

Be time to live; to live the real life abandoned

Long ago for dreams; left by the wayside of an

Unattainable pursuit of fame, fortune and glory

It's not about seeking out clarity or redemption,

Pats on the back or sympathy; it's about finally

Coming to terms with one's own shortcomings

And living blissfully in truth and enlightenment



I often contemplate chance meetings:

Ones that happened, ones that didn't

And ones that could have but clearly

Never will; and then there's Amanda

I suppose it saddens me in some ways

That we will never meet; but in others,

I'm resigned to idea that it's fine if we

Don't; maybe it's even better that way

It gives me wondrous opportunities in

Creating the perfect scenario, where

You become the very embodiment of

Everything and everyone I've desired

A friend, a lover, a muse and the true

Personification of the kind and trusting

Soul who sanctifies the human bond as

I believe you certainly and lovingly do


The Stones of Betrayal

We never really know anyone at all;

We only come to know them in our

Perception of who we think they are

Or who we want or need them to be

And the roles we play in our lives are

Cumbersome fabrications conforming

To norms imposed on us by a skewed

Society and patriarchal misalignment

The unkind lesson to be learned from all

This is humanity is becoming untangled

From centuries of conventions that have

Insanely compartmentalized civilization

We are no longer who we think we are

We are no longer the pegs that fit into

Their corresponding holes; and only the

Stones of betrayal shatter bones of truth


The Bandwagon

Your care and concern are valid

Your compassion and empathy

Worthy of praise; but your

childlike innocence and

Flagrant lack of having

Little to no understanding of

History make you an oblivious

Flavor-of-the-month activist jumping

On yet another bandwagon supporting

Who you believe to be the oppressed

Underdog in a never-ending political

Struggle you know nothing about;

So, please, read the history books

Find a better cause to defend and go

Back to sharing your pictures of kitty cats

Rainbows, bacon and bathroom makeovers



Not every journey leads to paradise 
Not every romance leads to love 

Not every house is a home

Not every man is gentle

Not every sea is blue

Not every tree stands tall

Not every garden is green

Not every opportunity is golden


Not every tomorrow is a guarantee 

Not every dream comes true

Not every poem rhymes

Not every pearl is real

Not every lie is malefic

Not every promise is kept

Not every storm brings rain

Not every song can soothe the soul



It's been thirty years since that night

Long ago high above LaSalle; I haven't

Missed you but your memory has lingered

Long into the present lying dormant and waiting

Once again you came to me in the night; taking

Me by surprise in a moment of unsuspecting

Fragility and vulnerability; all I wanted was

To sleep, to put the day far behind me

I stood, ever so carefully, pain raging

Through my torso; contemplating my every

Move, reaching for my everyday clothes there

On the railing, praying this would not be the end


At it wasn't; I made it downstairs, the storm soon

Passed and the clouds parted long enough for

Me to find respite among clearer skies; but

Storms always return to the ill at ease



I wonder how long I could just lie here
Flat on my back like a slab of rotting skin

And bones reeking of camphor, menthol and

Cassia oil; breathing through this agonizing pain 


Listening to podcasts that bore me to sleep carrying

Me away to pain free dreams where I try escaping 

The reality of my predicament; but the pain follows

Me there confounding my dreamscape sanctuary


The clock keeps ticking closer to the seven-year-old

Chinese boy’s haircut; waiting for a call from my GP,

Contemplating what on earth I can do with my crooked

Spine to make it straight again; I could go back in time, to 


That day in 4th grade when they screened us for Scoliosis;

But I was too afraid and hid in the bathroom; got the bad

News at 30; 42 degrees according to Dr. Cobb’s Angle

Now there's only pain, regret and whatever comes next


Distant Thunder

I would like to live out my days

In a serene place with sounds of

Distant thunder and warm gentle

Breezes soothing my troubled mind

A place where the days are long and

Nights filled with music and candlelight

Somewhere my soul can feel at home; a

Place where the air is clean and nourishing

A place where we can live free from all the

Malignancies of our world; where we can sit

Alone on the shore speaking with our touch and

The cadence of our two hearts beating in unison

But where is such a place if not only in my dreams

Existing in a vast emptiness between hope and reality;

A chasm so wide and interminable, where clouds are at

An arm's length floating innocently above the morning mist


Abbi (For A.Z.)

Your 93-year journey has come to its end

Perhaps, though, it is merely the beginning of

Another; and how you were admired, loved and

Respected by so many who must endure your absence

They say you can see a man's soul in his eyes, but your

Eyes revealed more than a soul; they revealed an

Indelible passion for life, for family and friends;

For those near, far and long departed

Funny how strangers can have such an

Impact on the lives of those they never knew;

But the common thread that runs through all our

Lives connects us in the most mysteriously wondrous ways

And now comes time for mourning, for acceptance and to

Embrace the legacy you have left; from Allah you came,

And to Allah you have returned; a blessing that will

Be celebrated with every breath until the very last



Life is a series of ups and downs 
Sometimes sideways and others it's 

Backwards and inside out; I wonder how funny

I must look tossing and turning and spinning around

Like a dog who twirls in place until settling into that

One comfortable position; I am learning to breathe

Through the pain, difficult as it is; I am one who

Has only rarely experienced physical pain

I have always imagined physical pain and

Emotional pain to be of the same intensity, and 

Can say, unequivocally, they are not; physical pain

Eludes to the slow and callous decay of our feeble body,


While emotional pain lives deep within our moribund soul;

Two deaths within the same living organism, as if one 

Wasn't enough; but if I close my eyes for a moment

The pain subsides and leaves only a tender scar


Late Blooming Trees

I can relate to the late blooming trees

 How they've moseyed and meandered

Acquiesced in their debut, giving way

To the inclemencies of a ruthless spring

But now there is sunshine and warmer

Air; the buds have sprouted as the soft

Burgundy leaves begin to stretch out on

Their branches hailing the gentle breeze

I was a young man then coming into my

Own; with calendar days and hourglass

Moments, time drifted into an empty past

Where only vague memories of you and

Sandy beach kisses lingering like salty

Lips tingling in the frothy waves; those

Days are far from my springtimes past

 When I was filled with zeal and desire


What Pain Looks Like

This is what pain looks like;

You can see it if you look

Carefully at the words

And words never lie

You can't blame the

Words if they are spoken

With fallacious design or bad

Intent; after all, they are only words

But pain, that is a grievous reality

And if you don't want to take my

Word for it, I don't blame you

Which won't change a thing


But if you want to sit beside

Me and hold my hand and ease

Me through the pain, I would not

Object and take your hand and sleep


Lake House Revisited

I've been thinking about that day at

The lake house; or should I say I've

Been thinking about it again; but so

Many years have passed since then

I'm never certain if it happened at all

Or if it was one of those daydreams

That seem to pervade my recollection

Of times gone by when I was a much

Different man; young and brimming

With life and the fervor of discovery

When the sun was brighter and the

Stars shimmered in the northern sky

Days I wished could have gone on

Forever; sitting in the afternoon mist

Holding hands as our legs dangled

Over the edge of the wooden pier


Center of the Universe

Every now and again I try removing myself

From the center of the universe; it's as hard

A task as any, I suppose, considering how

Large and incomprehensible it seems to be

Though I am removed only for a short while

It is a sufficient amount of time for taking a

Closer look at all that surrounds me; all the

Realities and things which comprise my life

And while I'm often hard-pressed with all of

These matters at hand, frequently neglecting

The subtle ways in which you make yourself

Present in my life, I am most grateful to you

It's not your music or the gentle sea breeze;

Not the sunrise or clean white sheets on the

Line hanging to dry in the midday sun; it's a

Soft quiet voice calling your name in the air


Dangling on the Edge

I guess it's just a phase

Something transient I'll

Look back on one day

With a deeper, clearer

Understanding of who

I was during the most

Uncertain and testing

Times I'd ever known

When my virtues were

Stripped clean; all the

Kindness and clement

Ways becoming some

Barely-alive castaway;

Soulless and suffering 

Dangling on the edge

 Between life and death


A Good Night's Sleep

A good night's sleep was what I needed

Some peace and quiet and the space to

Cry; to let out what's been bottled inside

For too long; released in a flood of tears

The fireball sun now piercing through the

Treetops, their blooms another reminder

That life begins anew and every breath

Is yet another reason to carry on living

Just as the morning fog is burned away

The dreariness lifts and hope is restored

Smiling faces, hugs and kisses await me;

Something new to look at out the window

But the night always returns, sometimes it

Welcomes and others it taunts; it shrouds

Me in wild adventures and drooly pillows

Taking me again and again to the morrow