where you draw the line

word count: 65

how soon does a womb fill with child?
depends where you draw the line.

how high up the ladder should you climb?
depends where you draw the line.

what’s work & what’s play on the sabbath day?
depends where you draw the line.

how much shit will you take before you die?
depends where you draw the line.

how truly can you love & yet still lie?

the typewriter

word count: 107

one of each color
one of each stripe
all stories i write
i rewrite for all types!

some like em funny
some like em sad
some like em crummy
some like em bad.
whoever you are, your opinion‘s embraced.
i guarantee something is typed to your taste!

one for each pipe-dream
one for each gripe
one for each inseam
& every blood type
if you like ice cream
or if you like tripe
there’s nothing on earth
this typewriter can’t type!

there’s only one limit:
there’s no going back.
so if you don’t like what you see
(CLACK! CLACK! CLACK!)
i have no “delete” key.
cut me some slack.

like father, like son

word count: 74

like father, like son, it’s your destiny
to see honor eroded by rough spite
& insight blunted by blind scrutiny
& kindness surrendered without a fight
& innocence deformed by violent hate
& beauty overwhelmed by spectacle
& conscience crying out against its fate
& Mary ridiculed by Jezebel
& straightforward direction made obscure
& fear seizing sensuality
& power-hunger crippling strength, & pure
& simple truth labeled stupidity:
like father, like son, you endure all these
& so do i, by knowing you love me.

(a study of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 66)

people who think they know what to do

word count: 70

have you noticed all the people
who think they know what to do?
have you noticed how they often
also have a plan for YOU?
it seems rarely out of malice
that they try to force their view;
it’s more like their kingly palace
is a prison, like a zoo
where you spend your life’s duration
in your natural habitat,
but it’s all a fabrication
& you die exactly that.

island Utopia

word count: 90

On my island, Utopia, philosophy is king:
we all get off on copious, prolonged examining;
we all know we know nothing
(which is all we need to know)
& more than anything, we want to grow.

Of course, like every paradise,
it’s bound to self-destruct:
something’s always sacrificed;
someone’s always fucked.
Whether in the bowels or atop the tippy top,
some unfair share of power
will make the bottom drop—
& if I’m pressed to name my island’s key to tyranny?
I guess I’ll have to blame our lack of growth equality.

things my master knew

word count: 98

the thing you’re always selling
is your soul.
the thing you’re always telling
is what’s told.
the goodness of these things
depends on you.
these are things my master knew.

to think you have the way is to be lost.
to have a lot to say
is to be tossed out in a day.
these are my master’s thoughts.

i picture him on his yellow pillow
commanding respect without barking orders,
meaning no harm without being harmless.

by not wanting power, he has it;
because he listens, he persuades,
& his branches climb heaven
because his roots claw through hell.

Brainwashers

word  count: 114

Brainwashers in the churches,
brainwashers in the schools,
making worship into mockery
& students into fools;
brainwashers in the Bible Belt,
brainwashers on the coasts;
brainwashers taking dollars,
brainwashers taking votes—
you’re all the same, brainwashers!
you think you’re slick & sly,
but I can see right through your grand
disguises to your lies
& I see how you
falsify your sympathetic cries—
it’s not hard when your crying eyes
look like a crocodile’s!
you think you’re safe, established
& looked up to by the youth?

NEWSFLASH!
you stick out like sore thumbs above the
flat, plain truth,
& already, your time’s run out—
you’re only still around
because what goes up
comes down
& you’re speeding toward the ground

Marginal Revolution

for Tyler Cowen

Shortcuts to the spotlight
are the hallmark of our age—
why toil to make a thought bright
when outrage takes center stage?

Seldom can a centrist
(however strong his form)
cut through the division
that’s increasingly the norm.

Rarer still is one
who can sustain his measured stance
among any admirers he enchants.

You’re that unique exception
who does teach & inspire
without peddling deception
or preaching to the choir,
& though not face to face,
you’ve truly taught me that I’m free
to make a better place
of Earth, like you—marginally.

labyrinth

word count: 76

though close friends often know it before you,
no one can tell you what you’re born to do.
there is no Oracle who sees your fate.
there is no guarantee it’s not too late.
there are no pre-made maps to travel with;
there is only a vast stone labyrinth
whose pathways wind & wander to its heart,
& somehow through the walls, the center calls
you, & you know—you’ve always known—
there is a center, & you’re not alone.