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Lost Contact

As a boy, I dreamed of jungles wild with beasts . . .

but dreams will fade with time and failing sight.

Now contacts cover my eyes (like plastic scales)

and the only beasts I see are caged or leashed.

Yet near a park in the city’s maze last night

while walking home, lost in the day’s details

a lens fell from my eye and a film of tears

transformed the park into a jungle of trees.

All things seemed to melt and flow together:

my eyes were flooded, lights became like spears—

the lion wind roared through trembling leaves,

the rainy street became a brackish river

and while I wandered down its banks half-blind

the world was wild again and lost in time.

The Church of Right Now

Whether it’s Saturday night or Sunday morning

or a weekday afternoon at Kaimana Beach

a work lunch, birthday dinner or weekend brunch

we celebrate the holy Sabbath of our friendship

whenever and wherever we are gathered together

in the church of what’s happening right now.

We are a diverse lot of expats, locals and pilgrims

with different creeds, cultures and dietary needs—

Christians, Jews, hoales, Asians, vegans and omnivores

we wear jeans, dresses, business suits and bikinis

but we all follow the lead of our inner naked yoginis.

We have straight, curly, blond, brown and black hair

some thick, some thinning and some with none at all.

We ride bikes and motorcycles, drive SUV’s and EV’s

and run or swim with the rising and setting of the sun.

We are movers and skaters, surfers and soccer players

ultimate athletes and dancers always in motion.

We are enviros, foodies, fashionistas, writers, teachers

and consultants of health, wealth and sustainability.

We don’t make lots of money but do make a difference.

We are hip and funky but not too cool for grad school.

We are the Kaimana Krew and we get Canadian drunk

when there’s a birthday, holiday or any excuse to party

as different and unique as each of us is, we share

a love of each other and our eccentric personalities

a hunger for good conversation, music and art after dark

a thirst for wine and song, whiskey and poetry

and a lust for eating, drinking, laughing and dancing—

followed by a day of rest at the beach so we can recover.

So raise your glasses to each other and let’s celebrate

the flowing spirit of friendship that brings us together

in the holy church and sacred temple of right here and now.

And in thanks we say, Amen, Aloha, Shalom and Namaste.


Gecko Love

It is late and you are gone

and only the gecko remains

hidden somewhere in this room.

With his star-fingered hands

he wriggles across the walls

as if scribbling a secret message

making his sad chirping sound

which is his cry and mating call.

His pale, transparent body

and dark, vulnerable eyes

watched over us once witness

to our many nights together.

But tonight he is in hiding

and his sad call echoes off the walls

like the clicking of a restless clock

as if he too were missing you.


The King’s Dream
(For My Father)

Many years ago on a hot summer day

under the gaze of the great emancipator

the King came to the capitol of his country 

and spoke to large crowds about his dream

about people of all colors being united

when sons of former slaves and slave owners

would sit down together at the same table.

His words brought back your childhood friend

Sonny, the sharecropper’s boy, who was

like a brother on your grandfather’s farm 

a former plantation.  You played and ate

together till they told you it was time to part

because Sonny was black and not your kind.

But he always remained in your heart.


You once tried to reach out to the King.

You were both young ministers in Atlanta

each with four kids on opposite sides of town

and you had called him to make a connection 

trying again to break through the barriers

of the color line that divided the country.

But that meeting never happened because

you were called to a church in Charleston

and the slow road toward integration 

while the King traveled across the country

caught in the crosshairs of history 

till called home at last in a flash of glory.


After the King was killed his words haunted

and inspired you and all those he had touched.

As we pause to honor this man let us return

to the capitol where he once spoke and hear

the nation’s first black leader pay homage 

to the King and the great emancipator.

Because our country is divided once again

and greed still reigns over those in need

while kids are gunned down in the streets

and bullets rain down upon the innocents.

Though justice seems like a distant dream today

we still seek comfort and courage in his words 

Knowing that we will be free one day.

The King is gone but his dream lives on.

Green Flash

We were wrong—the world

is not black and white

or so many shades

of gray— it is more

colorful than we

ever imagined.

What we saw touched us

that day on the beach

and though both of us

had seen countless suns

sink into the sea

neither of us had seen

the mystical green flash

until that evening

when the red sun sank

into the blue sea

and a sigh of wind

breathed over us both—


there for one moment

a green flash hovered

on the horizon

glowing in our eyes

and though some will say

it was an illusion

like magic or love

(a trick of the eye,

a game of the heart)

I know it was real—

as real as you, me

the sun and the sea.


Disguises of God

If we were really made in God’s likeness 

something strange occurred during evolution

making us stranger with each generation

and now I wonder if She’d even like us. 


But we are blessed by angelic beings

who roam and play among us in disguise

and only when we look into their eyes

can we truly see who we were meant to be.


God hides in the hearts of these loyal creatures

who love and play with us, protect us and stay

by our sides until that day they fade away

and we say goodbye to our finest teachers.

Madonna and Child

A Trailways bus, a country highway, dusk.

The driver, a sallow old insomniac,

is intimate with each curve in the road; 

he sits on a pillow, bony hands steering

his shuttle along a memorized route.

The soldier in the seat just ahead of me

stares into the darkening woods, staring

beyond his reflection into the turning trees.

The wife he left behind still waves in my mind.

The other passengers have sunken down

into their reclined seats in half-sleep,

adrift in their dreams, lulled by the engine's hum.

Across from me sits a young black woman,

her bundled infant still asleep in her lap.

The reading-light makes a vision of them.

I wonder who and where the father is...

Across the night deep in the valley below,

a dome of purple light lies over the city

like bright Atlantis many leagues away,

a world just waiting for discovery...

The mother breathes in deeply, closes her eyes

and tries to see their fate, hers and her boy's.

I whisper softly, "Let them be all right,"

wondering if anyone overheard

my unaddressed prayer.  Kissing his chest,

his chin, his forehead, blessing his brown body,

she stirs him from the world of sleep to see

beyond the rushing dark and dying stars

the city's constellation—there they will 

begin again.  The boy's unfocused eyes

are opening about to cry but then he sees

the face (arrayed in light) that gave him life.

He feels the arms around him gently sway

and hearing her whispered words in his ear

his mouth opens in O-shaped ecstasy

(revealing toothless gums and speechless tongue)

and forms the sound of inexpressible joy.


Church of Bones

Three summers ago in Rome we wandered

into the Church of Bones and saw walls adorned

with the skeletal remains of countless monks.

There in that underground chapel you held my hand

as we slowly walked down the dirt aisle, staring

at the morbid artwork–masterpieces of bone

made from every part of the body: skull arches

above us and a delicate chandelier of tibia and fibula,

star shapes made from jaw bones and femurs,

a lei of vertebrae around a smiling skull,

a winged hour-glass made with shoulder blades

to show how time flew even in the Dark Ages, 

and an ornate pattern of pelvises, hollow hips

where desire once flared and faded like a flower–

all these remains laid out by some graveyard artist

who wanted to glorify God with his brothers’ bones.

With each step, you squeezed my hand and I held

my breath wondering if love could endure such death.

Then we saw the dark sign at the end of the aisle
and stood there staring at the haunting message of those
disembodied monks who now spoke to us:




Alone now on my return to the Church of Bones

I recall how their words left us silent and numb.

That was their message and these are their bones
but I have a message of my own: REMEMBER–


We walked down this dirt aisle together once, alive

and in love, our souls married in that dark sanctuary.

But now they dim the lights in the Church of Bones,

a gesture from the Brothers, it is time to move on.


(Published in The Atlanta Review, 1998)

A Last Look 
From My Father’s Steeple

This is your first time and my last time

up the narrow winding stairs

where we slowly make our steep climb.

My father preached beneath this steeple.

Hands on the walls, our fingers

read the old brick like Braille.

Up the groaning wooden stairs

where your perfume lingers

we slowly continue to climb

wishing there was a rail

or something in the dark to hold on to.

As we ascend the hour draws near.

Climbing around the clockwork

we spot on the wall where years before

I'd scrawled my name—I was here.

You smile and I can only smirk.

Past the huge bells I hurry you

for the hour draws near.

Finally reaching the door,

framed and splintered with light,

I unbolt it and step on through

to show you what we came here for:

God, what a view from this height!

From my father's steeple,

we can see the entire city up here:

houses, trees and cars, people

walking in the streets below;

modern port and sunken pier;

the Cooper River Bridge, whose arcs

span over the gray water's gentle flow;

buildings, parking lots and parks.

The skyline is needled with spires.

Of the Four Corners of Law,

this church stands tallest and inspires

within me the deepest awe.

In your light-hearted way, 

you tell me, I thought palms

only grew where I come from in L.A.

Then you ask me seriously,

Do you have know, qualms

about moving out there?

leaving the South behind?

Watching the wind through your hair

I realize Charleston won't change my mind.

Looking around my hometown

gently squeezing your eager hand,

I hear the clock turn and then the bells

begin tolling over the time-kept land.

The hour's come and I pull you near.

There will be no final farewells

but remember, we were here.

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