June 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!


Contemplation for a Rainy Day

The intense fervor consigned to living

Every one of life's precious moments

With uncompromising zeal is often a

Most wearing task; but there are few

Things more rewarding or satisfying

Than being fulfilled by the little things

In life; simple fragments that compound

Into the most wondrous of life's events;


I sat outside for a brief moment today

Contemplating the rain as it fell gently

All around me and wondered how many

Raindrops had fallen on my face in those

Few seconds and concluded probably as

Many as all of my life's most cherished

Moments; and I took comfort in the divine

Candor of the rain and purity of its wisdom


25 Years

It's been 25 long years

Since I arrived on the

Old Continent where

My ancestors lived

I wonder what their

Lives were like in

That shtetl way

Back then

What they

Did, what they

Ate for breakfast,

What they spoke about

And their good fortune

Of having been able

To leave before the

Descent into hell


A Poem for Monday

Inconsolably sad as I look around

To see all that will remain after I'm

Gone; an empty chair at the dinner

Table and a few waning memories

I wonder if I have stopped living

Or merely forgotten how to live

Or to enjoy the little things

And precious moments

The human touch is no

Longer a tangible element

And I long for contact, to be

Held in my daughters' gentle arms

But there is hope concealed in the

Sunshine, its welcoming rays have

Greeted me to this new day, where

Clarity peaks through menacing clouds


Leaves of Generations

I've been looking out the same

Window at the same trees for

Nine summers and the June

Leaves always look the same

While I know they're not the

Same, I can't help but think

How they have all come from

The same roots and branches

The leaves of generations live

From season to season, born

Of the spring until autumn's

Chill shepherds their passing

But the highest branches are

Barren, or perhaps what I see

Are the last to bloom; the ones

That will live in my recollection


Bar Mitzvah​ (June 26, 1976)

It was a sweltering hot day in June 1976

We arrived at the synagogue early I wore

A powder blue Pierre Cardin three-piece suit

And navy blue patent leather and suede loafers

The congregation was packed; the sound of fans

Hummed in heavy humid air; Rabbi Einhorn

And Cantor Kurland led the prayer service;

I was called to the Torah for the blessings

Then it came for me to recite my haftarah,

A reading from one of the books of the

Prophets; mine, from Samuel 11:14,

Was the longest of the summer

It took me nearly forty long and

Arduous minutes to chant the entire

Passage which had to be scrupulously

Transliterated from Hebrew so I could read it


Empty Days

There are empty days

Filled with empty

Thoughts and


When I

Can't even

Hear my own

Voice in the void

Days that have no

Beginning and

No end in


Only the

Picture of us

In its lonely frame

Brings the subtlest joy


Croque Monsieur

I close my eyes and dream

About numbers and things

I cannot see with my eyes;

People I knew so long ago

I keep returning to the hotel

Where my room is always

On the second floor, where

The lift never seems to work

The staff seem to remember

When I was their teacher a

Few years before and they

Treat me with lofty regard

Downstairs in the posh café

A waiter in a white jacket

Serves me a croque monsieur

I throw the ham to the floor



It was sometime in the late autumn in 1981

I had recently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona

Was driving around with a friend when we

Stopped by his father's dry cleaning shop

We walked into the back on that sweltering

Afternoon; my friend introduced me to a guy

Named Les or Wes who he later told me was

A drifter that his father had hired years ago

Nine months living in Arizona, I met a lot of

Guys like Les, transients, ex-cons and derelicts

Disheveled men with five-day beards, mouths

Reeking of alcohol and leftover Mexican food

The skin on their leathery faces was worn and

Wrinkled; some were scarred and others had

Deep lines, pockmarks, hollow cheeks and the

Saddest most woebegone eyes I had ever seen



It's not that I don't remember the date

But you'll understand it's a bitter one;

One I recall with somber recollections

Of those who are no longer among us

But the memory of you and me in Paris

Has endured through the decades and

Thoughts of you always brings a smile

To my lips that, long ago, kissed yours


I've picked up the phone to call you so

Many times over the years; to hear your

Voice just one more time and ask about

Your life, your work and beautiful family

I was delighted to hear from your sister

Who told me you had become a doctor

And that you mention me every year on

The birthday I share with your daughter



I thought I recognized you from that café in Saigon

The pretty girl who bumped into me and made me

Spill my coffee on a dog who quickly darted away

And ran out the door and down the crowded street

You apologized in broken English and insisted that

I accept your invitation to have a meal at the house

You shared with your sister and elderly grandmother

How could I have said no to such a lovely invitation

You wrote your address on a page in my Moleskine

Notebook and drew a map with detailed instructions

You asked me to arrive promptly at half past three

When I arrived there was a note taped to the door

The note said you had to go off to the countryside

To visit a friend who needed consolation after her

Father had passed; as I slowly walked away I saw

You looking at me from behind white sheer curtains




My next voyage around the sun has begun today

The day our brightest star is at its highest point in

The sky; and as is the case about every five years

Or so, today also happens to be Father's Day

These three milestones provoke strong emotions:

Reminding me that spring is finally giving way

To summer while life continues to wane and my

Pursuit of being of good father remains far-flung

And so I take stock, look back and contemplate

The years gone by; birthdays never celebrated

At school; some spent in innocent betrayal and

Others filled with love, tenderness and passion

The midsummer is a time of deep introspection

When I oftentimes juxtapose my self-value, my

Merits as a father, son, brother and husband,

Like long-cast shadows of the summer solstice



I have lived a life so very far removed

From the one I thought I would live;

And I'm certain I'm not the only

Soul to share that sentiment

Perhaps it was my lack of

Vision or my inability to clearly

Contemplate the life I wanted to create

For myself and those who I love so dearly 

But there comes a moment in one's life

When you accept reality for what it

Really is and only then the whole

Thing suddenly makes sense

And if it's not too late; if you

Haven't already missed the boat

The wind can still catch your sails and

Carry you off to shores of infinite happiness



There was a small croissant shop on Doctor Moliner

I would go there each morning for pain au chocolat 

That I'd meticulously cut into quarters picking up each

Piece then dunking them into my cup of café con leche

I stood alone at the narrow wooden counter on the wall

There was a small plastic sugar packet organizer filled

With white and brown sugar, thinner pink sachets with

Artificial sweetener and demitasse spoons for stirring

One particular day a middle-aged woman walked into

The croissant shop and ordered coffee and a caracola

She was perhaps the saddest person I had ever seen

And I could not help but wonder why she was forlorn

Before leaving, she removed two blue packets of sugar

From her small handbag, placing them in the organizer;

The next day, the woman's husband died from a heart

Attack while taking his morning coffee at the same café



The Police, Talking Heads, Kate Bush and The Clash

The deaths of Elvis, Chaplin, Groucho and Nabokov

The Apple II went on sale and the Concord took off

Jimmy Carter is sworn in and Roots premieres on TV


On June 17th, three days before my 14th birthday,

I graduated from DeWitt Clinton Elementary School

Pelé played his final match and Rumours is released

A.J. Foyt won the Indianapolis 500 in his Coyote 75

Eleven die on Chicago's "L" and 56 wounded in the

Humboldt Park Riots; dad took me to see Star Wars

At the Nortown Theater and Voyager 1 is launched;

The Blizzard of '77 dumps over 82 inches of snow

This was a defining year in my life; I would start

High school and fall in love for the first time; we

Moved to Washtenaw where I had my own room

And I bought my first bass guitar at Devon Music


Coming to Terms

Coming to terms doesn't mean surrendering or

Being defeated; it doesn't signify failure or

The demise of purpose or that dreams

Can no longer be dreamed

Coming to terms is not a sacrifice

An endgame or an aftermath; in fact,

It's a clean slate, a point of departure

A renewal of the spirit and its longing to be

Coming to terms is an affirmation of strength

It unites the heart, mind, soul and body

Fostering a life teeming with harmony,

 Wisdom, love, zeal and plenty

Coming to terms is maturity in its

Ultimate manifestation; it illuminates

What darkness was unable keep secluded

It elevates us to the highest reaches of our potential



Wheezing, sneezing, red watery eyes

Five o'clock in the morning zoomies

Galloping upstairs, climbing on

Dressers and wardrobes

The litter box shuffle

Cha-cha-cha straight out of

Arthur Murray and what can you

Possibly be doing in there all that time?

The purring and head frotter I am not an

Object to be used like a doorpost

Or the sofa corner which now

Has prominent smudges

And the histamine rages

The nose runs and tissues pile

Up on my desk; kibble crunching

Murmurs and meows and daybreak comes


Ode to Joy

What was Schiller thinking about on that

Summer day in Leipzig in 1785? Some say

It was a woman, others say it was freedom

Either way they are both what all men seek

And what is joy if not a hidden treasure or

Some long-lost remnant of the past, swelling

In the caverns of a memory when innocence

Was a guiding light and passion ever-present

I may not be the first thing you're looking for

But I certainly will be the last; how far must I

Travel to know when the journey has come to

Its end? Perhaps it's where truth meets reason

Maybe it's safe to say that joy doesn't exist;

That bliss and redemption are merely ways

Of glossing over the pain, coming to grips

With the harsh reality that nothing is sacred


El Lago

I wonder what the last thought

On her mind was as she fell to

The ground at ninety miles per

Hour early that Friday morning

And what it was that led to her

Going up to the rooftop to take

That leap into the abyss of the

Valley of the shadow of death

I imagine her standing there in

The darkness, a gentle breeze

Drifting in from over the lake; a

Moment of calm contemplation

And what about poor Lloyd, who

Recently started working there and

Bearing the ghastly sight of seeing

Her splattered on Sheridan Road


Resident Alien

I belong to nothing, to no one, to nowhere

Born in a country not of my own choosing

To whose allegiance I pledged in a school

I would rather have not attended as a child

My wallet conceals a small plastic card; it

Gives me permission to reside in a country

Where I possess physical characteristics in

Concordance with the citizens of that land

But I couldn't be any different or any more

Foreign; and I have learned that resembling

Someone doesn't make your sensibilities or

Worldview the same; and it never ever does

The only place in which I really truly live is

In my skin; my universe of floating, pulsing

Organs residing within the twisted frame of

A dysmorphic and ever-inhospitable skeleton


Moochie​ (For Cassia)

It's been ten years since that night you came to us

You hurried into the world eager to begin your

Adventure; the midwife forgot the hot water

Bottle and almost missed the occasion

You were the first (but not the last) to

Be born at home and in our bed; I'd never

Experienced anything so natural and so serene

As a life beginning so calmly, quietly and wondrously

And through the years you have never ceased creating

An enduring sense of uniqueness; the embodiment

Of a soul living its life to the fullest, with verve,

Tenacious intensity and wild exuberance

Today, as you begin the next decade of

Your life, I say a prayer that the years to come

Are filled with all the joy, delight, wonder and magic

You deserve; and remember, the wand chooses the wizard


The Heat is On

I don't do well with extreme temperatures

Growing up in Chicago with unbearably

Frigid winters and balmy warm summers

Ups and downs and seasonal depression

I've lived in the scalding Arizona desert

Under the hot San Fernando Valley sun

The four seasons in one day in Liverpool

And swampy humidity of Valencia, Spain

And for eleven summers I have lived here 

In the Netherlands, a place where the only

Predicable thing is the unpredictability and

Frequently underwhelming event of weather

It's a place where, despite what the reports

And apps forecast, the only way to know if

It's going to rain is to step outside or, more

Certain, leave home without your umbrella


I Never Called You Deborah

Supposing you really were in love with me

I mean it was pretty obvious from the start

Your words, actions, gestures of kindness

How was it that I didn't ever reciprocate

And how many times did you come over

To comfort me, care for me, cook for me

Run to the 24-hour Ralph's in the middle

Of the night for ice cream and brownies

And you stayed with me until I fell asleep

Quietly letting yourself out of my house to

Make your way back to Seal Beach when

I knew all you wanted was to stay with me

How I'd love to go back in time, to 1986,

And talk some sense into my younger self

Tell him that a woman like you only comes

Around once in a lifetime, if they come at all



I've been there

Though it was many

Years ago; a place that

No one has heard of or been to

A city in the province of Albacete

A non-descript place that

Looks like so many

Ordinary cities

Despite the sun

It is a dismal place

Apartment blocks where

Insignificant people quietly exist

I knew a woman from there who

Lost her father, brother

And husband in

The Civil War


Together Again


So, that was it; that was the best
You could do, come to me in a dream
Barging into my home unannounced to offer

A poor excuse of a thinly-veiled insincere apology

When I woke up and wiped the sleep from my eyes

I was suddenly overcome with the profound

Sensation that, despite having only been

A dream, we were together again

There are days when I'm resigned to

The idea that we may never be reunited

That my (our your) untimely death may keep

Us sundered until our reunion in the kingdom come

Until then, I will try to not be so hard on myself; be a

Little more forgiving of my many shortcomings

And try, for whatever it's worth, to not

Let go of all our cherished memories




I've run out of excuses and lies to tell myself;

Moved my desk in front of the window

Where green leaves and blue skies

Welcome me into their haven

Not even the sun's warmth

Or the cool soothing breeze

Can tempt me out of these walls

Where I am a safe and harbored homebody

I scuffle with the noise and chaos of rowdy

Children; piles of clean laundry,

The squalor of my negligence

And outright exhaustion

I've fallen deeper than I

Had earlier surmised; but there

Is comfort in knowing one's affliction

And in the promise that renewal is close at hand


The Perfect Day


The cool breeze

Slicing in through my

Bedroom window at 4 a.m.

Daybreak's silence awakens me

The sun concealed and sleeping

My children fast asleep

In their beds upstairs

Miracles abound

The perfect day

Leaves and willows

Croissants and coffee

Still water and secret messages

The jumbled stories in my mind

Floating lines in tightly

Closed eyes; visions

Into the future


Mr. Bigelow

I stood waiting by your door

At least for an hour or more

Then the rain began to pour

You arrived at half past four

Invited me in for a cup of tea

Toasted bread, jam and brie

Took a nice stroll by the sea

Spoke to a tolerable degree

Clouds gave way to sunlight

Thinking back with hindsight

Should have met at midnight

When my alibi'd be airtight

And I was never seen again

By strangers, foes or friends

Mr. Bigelow steadily defends

His innocence to the very end


Sawing Sawdust

I've learned a lot about myself lately

That what hasn't killed me already

Probably won't; and sawing

Sawdust is to no avail

I've learned that while

Pain is a pretty convincing

Equalizer, it can be confronted

And tamed and frequently appeased

I've come to hold a deep appreciation

Of the fragility of life and, at the

Same time, an understanding

Of what courage means

And I love myself more

Today than I did yesterday;

The colors are more vivid and

The birdsong an uplifting soliloquy



I know I'm doing the right thing

But that doesn't quell the anxiety;

I suppose it's the idea of having a

Foreign substance injected into me

And that hasn't happened since the

Late 1970s when I ripped open the

Palm of my left hand after snagging

It on a protruding rusty masonry nail

I was riding my bike and glided my

Hand across the brick façade of the

Apartment at the end of Washtenaw

When the nail caught me by surprise

My mother took me to the ER where I

Was given a tetanus shot just for good

Measure; a thin white scar still remains

As will the stories of what today brings


That Night in Piedmont

I'm sorry you had to see me crying

Standing there alone wallowing in

The despair of the greatest sorrow

I had ever known in all of my life

But you came and placed a gentle

Hand on my shoulder and asked if

There was anything you could say

Or do that might ease my suffering

I looked into your large brown eyes

And recognized something familiar;

It was like I had known you for years

You made me feel loved and wanted​

You took me home to your parent's

House in Piedmont, I slept on your

Bed as your softly stroked my hair

Awaking reborn in your embrace