Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Perhaps what I am waiting for

perhaps what i am waiting for
is already right here
waiting for me
to simply acknowledge
its presence
like a precious thing
once thought lost
that never was

hidden in plain view
until i took my eyes
off the distracting shine
of what i thought
was precious
and saw again
that which so
patiently and
lovingly has
always been here
waiting for me

Posted in The Sunday Driver: Life in the Slow Lane


some things are best left alone
bright signage warning away

yet the temptation is great to remain close behind
following the familiar
running the same old routes in the same old ruts

beware the abrupt turn
the quick stop
the sudden debris field

the road to perdition
is its own brutal end

Posted in Musings

Tough Sell


That’s the term the devil uses to describe the sheriff in Needful Things by Stephen King.

He is the one person in the whole town who can’t be corrupted. While others see a piece of junk as the treasure they most covet in the devil’s shop, somehow the sheriff is able to see the truth. As a result, he gives the devil one of his few defeats, casting him out of the town.

But the old man opens his store in another place, with a different name, yet still selling the same worthless wares.

I want to be a tough sell. It behooves all of us to not, in the words of The Who, “be fooled again.”

What is of true value cannot be bought or sold. Be wary of the smooth-tongued salesman who promises you what is really emptiness.

Accept nothing at face value. Hold onto your soul.

Whatever you do, stay away from the old man with crooked teeth who beckons from the shadows of a dingy shop door.

He is not what he appears.

Be a tough sell.

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Gagdrool Writes to Screwtape

My dear Screwtape,

I am writing you this most urgent message to inform you of a very important occurrence in the plans of the Enemy. It concerns you mostly, but may affect these despicable humans for a long time, perhaps forever. I fear we may have lost many a soul already.

But let me tell you of this gross attack that has been wreaked upon our dominions. It is a book, a compilation rather, and the filth contained within its pages causes me to wince when I think upon it. This abomination is, as I am sure you are aware, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. They are your letters, my dear Screwtape, to your nephew, Wormwood, discussing a certain Christian, Wormwood’s patient, need I remind you, of whose soul was lost. It seems this Mr. Lewis, a Christian himself, figured your letters would prove to be of good use to other Christians in making known your tactics for the clouding of the minds of these maggots, being that you are an authority on this. Anyway, even though you are probably quite aware of what you said to Wormwood, I wish to relay the gist of what Mr. Lewis has chosen to repeat so that we can decide on the best course of action to render such unveilings of our plans null and void.

As I mentioned, it seems that the objective of Mr. Lewis in compiling your letters is to give his brothers and sisters (such references to the family of the Enemy make me shudder) insight into the tricks of our trade, namely the art of temptation. In other words, he seeks to inform his fellow Christians about how we devils deceive humanity. That, I believe, is his primary purpose in writing The Screwtape Letters.

It enrages me to no end to see the way Mr. Lewis has attempted to achieve this purpose and even more so that he may have accomplished said purpose through these means. Mr. Lewis uses the settings of the human mind and the world, with the war we are waging within them, to convey his point to the reader. This method, ingenious perhaps, though somewhat different, allows the reader to place himself in the situation of the temptations of Wormwood and his patient. Then she can apply these temptations to her life and see where she might be in danger. Therefore (and here I gnash my teeth) the Christian can easily grasp the meaning behind the words. Such a revelation of some of our greatest temptations of humanity causes the reader to put up a guard against them lest he be greatly deceived. Here then lies the greatest affront to our work and threatens to undo all that we have worked for.

As I have said, I am fearful that Mr. Lewis has achieved his purpose and much more. Already word has reached us that many of our best deceivers are losing the souls they have hidden the truth from for years, all because of this gross compilation of your letters. I feel that unless a new stratagem is devised and something drastic is done, the results of the work of Mr. Lewis will condemn us to the lowest levels of Hell. Our Father is very displeased. I care not to be the source of his further wrath. Or you the target of his fiery darts.

I await your reply with much impatience. As for us here on the front lines, the war goes on. We may yet deceive many of the vermin yet.

Your fellow deceiver,


January 31, 1985

Illustration by biodin

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree, Poems



thoughts of quicksand
in holes deeper than I thought
pit the landscape where I stumble

they suck the life from me
offer me a fantasy of what might
have been if I had chosen to

dive into caves where I have
no business swimming or
falling like a dead leaf into

the grains are small but if
enough of them are swallowed

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree


Seated behind anorexic triplets
I watch the dancers dance.
My eyes adjust to the lights and
my view of the audience.
White metal folding chair against
a low cut black dress with space
cut wide for the arms and a
revelation of breast.

The lights go down and
soft flesh fades from temptation.
I watch the stage.
The lights come on the dancers
and a new revelation.

August 1998

Posted in Poems


I tripped over it too, kid, the same one you did,
because I was watching your mom.
Your toes found the crack and I watched her back
as she picked you up and hurried on.
She had you and carried another, maybe a sister or a brother.
I followed happily along.
She found the door and pulled you in. I felt my finger on the pin,
wanting to test the bomb.

Someday, I’m gonna learn to close my eyes and stop the burn,
but it sticks to me like napalm.
No one really knows the score when the mind loses another war,
goes MIA like in Vietnam.
You’ve got a nice mom, kid, you and I and a fatal skid.
In this battle, I’m a noncom.

February 4, 1995

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Appalachian Armistice

In the morning, through the buzz of the black gnats
around my head, over the Appalachian jungle, down
from the robin egg blue sky, I hear the subtle song
of a chainsaw whirring like the wings of a ruby-
throated hummingbird in the mimosa of my memory,
calling me to woman and the first meal of the day.

She comes to breakfast with her nipples pressed tight
against her cotton shirt. Roused from their slumber by the
cool air of the morning, they reach out to me, seeking my
tender touch. But I must satisfy myself with two grapes
gleaned from the silver bowl on the table. I bite down and
feel the sweet spray of them against the inside of my cheek.

My desires dwell way down deep in my belly and sleep
there like the copperhead coiled on a warm rock beside a
nameless mailbox that swallows my hand whole in its toothless
metal maw. It is the afternoon and I have come to check for
mail. I could disturb the snake, take the shovel in the tractor
shed and end our fragile peace, but I decide to leave him
sleeping there. Inside the box, my fingers close on air.

Summer 1996 at RR, West Virginia

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree


Sooner or later, I become the Confessional;
hearer of the Sin,
giver of Absolution so that the
healing may begin.

Caught in the Compartment
I cannot get out or in,
separated from the tasting by the thin
skin partition.

Too afraid to partake,
too sinful to resist.
If she in the shadows offers Revelation,
will I desist?

October 28, 1996