The bears are still
out there, doing bear things
hibernating and then
waking up lean and grumpy,
heading to the icy river
hoping to catch some fish.

While I am heading downtown
on a Metro packed with suits,
to my office, where
the only wild thing is the rat,
that lives under the floor boards,
at night boldly inhabiting
the space we call ours,
feasting on cookies and
leaving dusty footprints
on my key board.

Right now, this very moment
somewhere deep in the woods
a bear has caught and greedily devours
his wet breakfast,
both of us here
and now.

Practice makes Perfect

With every move
I practice for my own funeral:
a small and quiet affair
with random connections
and a few soul or blood-mates,
while many who mattered most
are spread around the globe,
unable to come and maybe even
for month or years
unaware of my passing.

I will live in their minds
as a central or peripheral part
of their story, until the wind
blows them into my town
and they try and fail
to contact me.
I will die again,
dissolve to dust,
my living imagined self
disappearing, replaced
by an old photo
from our shared past.


The curious tips of my fingers
draw my hands up and out,
entice my arms to open
the milk glass window that is my chest,
to let in the morning sun.

As I touch the air
I can feel it take shape in my hands.
I feel its resistance and let my palms
meander around its organic and twisted forms.

Closing my eyes
I can feel them like bark
of a smooth and tropical tree,
convinced that I can pick these shapes
out of the air and hand them to you.

Midnight Gardening

The relentless rain
has washed away
all daytime noise
before finally
exhausting itself.
The kids are in bed,
I have swept and folded
and now I sit
like a smoker without smoke
on my front steps
and let my eyes rest
on my cucumbers
that reach up high,
the unwieldy borage
that spreads like
the weed I suspect
it is. The streetlight
flickers and outlines the
dark leaves with
orange reflections.
I tie the rat’s tail raddish
to the bamboo stick
we picked from
Master Dong’s front yard,
as even the sirens
give in
to the quiet
of the night.

German Weather

This rain is here to stay.
it doesn’t exhaust itself
in stormy outpourings
or passionate embraces.
Like an old lover,
it has come to stay,
to sit with us
in quiet understanding
or maybe
We don’t talk, so
we’ll never know.

As I turned my back, it grew

I planted my garden
as if nothing
would ever grow,
as if seedlings
would stay their cute
seedling size,
lined up orderly
in neat squares
divided by white string.

Then came the rains
and the sun and
the rains again.
I showered them
with love too:
“Good morning”, I said and
“Good evening, my friends.”

And now look
what they’ve done:
Brussels sprouts
leaning toward each other
for a green embrace,
peas pirating up the
tomato trellis and salad
urging us to eat green,
to make some space
for all that is still
less than a dream
in a forgotten seed.

Bobo Dioulasso

The chickens here, we were told,
don’t just lay eggs,
they can tell the future,
whether this will be
a good husband
and whether you will be blessed
with children.

We drove out of town, parked
in the scorching sun and started walking.
Halfway to the sacred valley
we left my father to rest
in the shade of a rock.
The steps into the cool green gorge
were worn smooth
by the feet of men and women
with many questions, the floor was padded
with bloody feathers.

The sacred man looked small and ancient.
He took the money and the chicken,
cut off its head and threw the fluttering bird
on the ground, reading all answers
from the arch of its fall and its landing.
The sacred fish moved slowly
as they performed their duty of
gobbling up the innards,
before the priest prepared another
tasty chicken dinner for himself
on a small fire off to the side.

As we climbed back into the light
a young man came running:
“Le vieux! Le vieux!” he yelled,
worried about the old white man
lying motionless in the dust,
covered by a shrinking sliver of shade.

We hurried, imagining the worst.
As we arrived we saw:
The universe was still in order,
and my father,
his inner clock tuned
with German precision,
would take his daily lunch time nap
from 1 to 1:30.

One Freedom Plaza

I will miss the builders.
I will miss the precarious ballet
of floor-to-ceiling glass panels
lifted on steel ropes
to the 7th floor,
filling one empty square
after another,
the manly men with tools,
ropes tied around their waist,
working dangerously close
to the edge.
At noon I see them
hanging out and shooting
the shit, walking around
the corner to get a sandwich.
Their bodies strong and tired
from work, not exercise.
I will miss
the daily reminder, that
if you put one stone on top
of the other, if you patiently
pour the cement just so and
put in the first glass panel
on the ground floor and
just keep going,
in the end
a building
will rise.