Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Update: August

Hello, everyone! I haven't produced much in the way of new poetry lately, some stray three-liners, that's about it. I am working on a prose project, autobiographical: half memoir, half May Sartonesque diary. It occurs to me that, in my zeal for this new project, I have neglected the Tambourine! So I thought I'd give you folks an update to say, in short: All is well. And I'm keeping busy!

Addendum: The e-book I had been planning has at least temporarily been sidelined, due largely to my technological incompetence. But in other, perhaps happier, news: four of my self-published poembooks are now available through! (They are also obtainable via

I pledge to post new poetry soon, or perhaps revisions of older poems. Thank you all--you few, you happy few?--for your readership.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Note to readers

I have removed several recent poems from the blog, as I am preparing a manuscript for electronic publication, and do not want to appear to be violating my own copyright. Or something.

Wish me luck! And I shall let you folks know when or if the e-book becomes available!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

5 Spencer Snapshots

the bread baked
by the old monk


dandruff snow
a rabbit scampers
up the abbey hill


in the refectory
awkward silence
at my verbal gaffe


raking last fall's leaves
veteran monk and novice
five truckloads' worth


thought for sure
i'd be back there
in less than a year

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


O beauteous young activist of Cambridge,
clipboard in hand, advancing wicked works,
you've smitten my soul and wreaked a heap of damage.

Born when the Man from Hope began his term
(I'm guessing), fair-trade-coffee-drinker, hark!
communitarian undergrad of Cambridge!

Reactionary, fat, and middle-aged,
I walk past flinging some acerbic snark
lamenting the Left's irreparable damage.

You answer with a beatific smile,
flooding the sluggish engine of my heart,
O Democratic demoiselle of Cambridge!

Tree-hugging Ivy Leaguer, slender, blonde,
how beautiful thy feet in Birkenstocks!
But can I ignore your ideological damage?

Post-MTV progressive, probably vegan,
could you recycle this wreck, these rusted parts?
Barackophiliac (très charmante!) of Cambridge,
you've stricken my ticker, inflicted critical damage.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Szymborska's Advice

Boredom should be described with gusto!

How the paint dries quickly
this hot July afternoon!
How the hands of the clock
move more slowly
than a geriatric snail
through peanut butter!

The ghost of Wystan Auden
is on his fifth martini.
Estlin Cummings has begun
using the uppercase I!
Zowie cowabunga!

Policemen dress in drag
and aim fire extinguishers at businessmen
trying to incentivize or prioritize their way
out of the next recession.

Surrealists start making sense,
giving us prosaic descriptions
of the sober blue ceramic mug
filled with cold water getting warmer by the minute,
and the oval wooden kitchen table
in a dusty apartment
outside Schenectady.

The ice-cream truck
plays Non nobis, Domine ...
The bells of St Agnes
ring out Katy Perry!

A miscreant in California
listens to Scarlatti on his iPod
as he breaks the window of the jewelry store.

The climate changes from hot to cold,
the sky from dark to light.
October weather precedes the winter.

Sister Bonaventure and Sister Clementina
sit in the Commonwealth Avenue Burger King
and write a collaborative poem
called "Rules for Good Living."

Atheists gawk
at the eccentric English bishop
with his Greek Orthodox beard
as he speaks of God and love,
of the luminous stars and of numinous awe,
of humility before the mysteries of life,
and they start praying silently, wordlessly,
to some as-yet-unnamed Benevolence.

Construction-workers eat ham sandwiches
and smoke Lucky Strikes in hundred-degree heat.
During a lull in debate at the State House,
politicians knock back the Maker's Mark;
tonight, the Governor will dive
into the polluted Charles, fully clothed.

Custodians in office-buildings
scrawl limericks in stairwells;
bohemian triathletes
alphabetize their bookshelves!

Radicals dream of Wasilla in the winter!
Balladeers of ballyhoo
hit #1 on the pop charts
with coded odes to casual sex.
Dogs wag their tails
happier than a nine-year-old collector
with a Mickey Mantle baseball card.

Hallmark rhymesters blare Marilyn Manson
as they drive past the Myopia Hunt Club;
latter-day Saltonstalls stand before mirrors
and practice the broad A
in "ask" and "can't" and "laughter" ...

Homer Simpson is elected President!
Prosperity is universal! Peace is everlasting!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Patriots' Day

Patriots' Day. We watch the Marathon
(the Sox are losing big to Baltimore)
in a barroom sheltered from the bright spring sun.

Elizabeth's busy: lunchtime has begun.
Some noontime souse is on drink number four
this Monday of the yearly Marathon.

I'm drinking coffee, and I'm not alone:
I'm chatting with a fascinating bore
in a bar sequestered from the midday sun.

Rita Jeptoo achieves a record run.
Keflezighi breaks the tape: spectators roar!
Today, Boston's reclaimed her Marathon.

It's not Elizabeth's idea of fun:
the merest thought of running makes her sore!
She keeps us barflies out of the April sun

until the craziness of the race is done.
Time to go home. "Check, please, mon amour!"
Patriots' Day. I've watched the Marathon
at my favorite place. Once more, I face the sun.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lunch in the Square

The waitress at the Crimson Bar & Grill
on JFK in Cambridge: twenty-five?
funny and smart and smiling and alive!
We didn't forget her when we paid our bill.

She let us linger while we sat and drank
black coffee as we customarily do
after French onion soup and pizza for two:
Thee for her sweetness, loving God, we thank.

A personality beyond compare;
a shining face, inspiring gratitude;
wit and glad banter in between soft drinks

and yes--not incidentally!--excellent food.
O memorable day in Harvard Square!
Friday the 13th: fortunate, methinks!