a metaphysical question


this morning i saw two

then four

then seven quail

pop to the top of our fence.

the males wore crisper whites and blacks

in patterns about the head and crest,

a rich auburn breast,

while females tended towards gray,

elegant in their more demure way.


the seven sat feather to feather

(no youngsters close by,

it being late november)

their heads bobbed up and down,

necks turned back and forth,

seven fat quail on our fence this morning

busily taking a quiet moment in the sun

before hopping down one by one

to forage beneath the orchid rock rose.


are my eyes wired directly to my spirit?


i only know that last year a western tanager

flashed brilliant yellow and orange

among the oaks and thus burned

a hole into my soul.


perversions, 1958, 2016 with introduction

i posted this poem about three weeks ago. i am re-posting it because of the massacre in orlando this past weekend.  i would like to make sure that no reader will misconstrue what i try to say in this poem. the word  “perversions” in the title refers to the prejudice and hatred suffered by folks in LGBTQ community.

because i am older than many of my readers, i wanted to describe what i witnessed as a high school freshman in 1958: hatred propelled by fear.  i also remember reading in the newspaper about the LAPD raiding bars where gay men congregated, beating them with batons, providing what the cops saw as “street justice,” i suppose.

i think that our society has made some progress in our acceptance of LGBTQ  folks, but the recent “bathroom” controversy and now this massacre shows we have a long way to go. i join the family and friends of the victims in their grieving. i continue to grieve for our society that harbors such hatred.


perversions, 1958, 2016


in high school, 1958,

we heard

rumors about homos,

and warnings not to wear

green and yellow on thursdays

supposedly a code for the homos

whoever they were.

guys at our school got

bullied and even beaten

just for wearing glasses

or for being small and quiet

so we feared what would happen

if the bullies labeled us as


whoever they were.

and then we saw in the newspapers

photos of bloodied men

men who needed the company

of other men

hauled out in handcuffs

from nightclubs into

police vans,

arrested for


whatever they were.

in 2016 the same bullies

some wearing suits

still nurture the

bacteria of fear

spread the infection into restrooms

and onto the children

while hiding their own perversions.

and we know what they are.


wild flowers

hiking through

 mountain meadows

i drank in first

the red of wild roses

the blue of the lupines and the



of california poppies

but then quickly became tipsy

and a bit nauseated

from the aroma of

the purple hypertensia. 

it was in deep forest

that the flowers became

too bold.

the searching tendrils

of tiny pink


reached out for my wrists,

encircled my waist,

then pulled me

to the ground

among the

red-flecked rapansia

that released

saccharine-scented spores

 until i passed out

among the wild flowers

that always pull me in.

Beware the Old Men…


…Bill Cosby. Bill O’Reilly.

Donald Trump.

Any male senator.


As if age,

as if self-righteousness

equal wisdom.


Sorry. Not that easy.


Aeschylus speaks

to us

through his Greek


from suffering

CAN come wisdom.


How King Agamemnon



his own daughter

for safe passage.

Leaves his wife


for nine years

to rescue

Helen of Troy.


Returns home,

trophy slave in tow:

beautiful Cassandra,

who knows of the

violence to come.


He will not listen.


His fierce wife

and her lover

slice up the king

and his young slave

with angry knives,


showing us

that we must

beware the anger,

that we create,

we old men.


Must look after

our own houses