Poem: Breath by Breath

What would happen, 
If we popped open the stoppers to our souls, 
And let compassion for the whole world in? 
And I mean the *whole* world: 

Starving children, 
Euthanized dogs, 
First-time orgasms, 
The sheer magnitude of war, 
The irrational hatred of the sound of other people chewing, 
The birth of deformed children,
Really great fucking music,
Unbridled passion,
Art beyond words...

Would we cry uncontrollably 
Until the earth is a tropic of tears? 

Would there be orgies in the streets, 
Jumping up and down on yellow couches,
Impulsive declarations of love and
Unlimited eternal puppies?

Perhaps we would go mad: 
Tear our eyes out after seeing too much world
And walk in never ending circles,
Pulling at our hair and mumbling about antennas.

Would we all sit around as if stoned,
Contemplating the beauty in each paint chip and beetle,
Acutely aware of each tick of the clock?

Would our houses be full of the needy, 
No one be lonely, hunger be gone, 
And reality TV disappear forever? 

I can't see it happening, honestly.
No one can handle that much humanity all at once.

It's better, then, to rely on each other, my love.
Let's prick each others' hearts, just a little; 

Create a bit more closeness with each kiss,
A bit more understanding with each conversation,
A bit more love with each look in each others' eyes, 

And instead of letting the world rush into us, 
Let's let our compassion overflow to the world in a trickle, 
Starting with each other, breath by breath.


Hey, you.

Come here and put your arms around me.


Shelter me from the coming storm.

Just until it’s over.


You seem like the kind of person

that can keep me from blowing away.


Afterward, I can pick through the debris

for two mason jars and something strong to drink.


You can search around in the battered books

for a dead author that understood all this.


I’ll find a couple of lawn chairs,

and you light the fallen tree on fire.


Together we’ll laugh at the detritus

that flew too close to our heads,


And be grateful for the sun.


We are sketches on each others’ hearts,





Why you are afraid of lizards.

How many pairs of shoes I own.


The pattern of freckles on your back;

The scar on the inside of my wrist.


My ugly-cry-face when struck with sadness;

Your sigh of resignation.


Your uncanny knack for palindromes;

That ugly lamp I won’t get rid of.


My fear of dying without seeing Paris;

Your awe at the simultaneous brevity and vastness of time.


Our sketches may be eventually lain aside, and forgotten,

Finally thrown out with other pasts when it’s time to move on.


Or perhaps,

They will be recorded in ink,






To be framed and hung

In the permanent collection of People We Love.


A poem is just a poem
Until you invoke the divine.
Then it’s a prayer.

Stanzas are just stanzas
Until you add music.
Then it’s a song.

A voice is just a voice
Until we sing together.
Then we’re a chorus.

A heart is just a heart
Until it joins another.
Then it’s a family.

A life is just a life
Until it finds meaning.
Then it’s an example.

An idea is just an idea
Until it’s put in motion.
Then it’s a movement.

A breath is just a breath
Until we breathe in greatness.
Then it’s inspiration.

The world is just the world
Until we transform it.
Then it’s history.

A poem is just a poem.
Until it’s read.


The pattern that holds my body together-
Is giving in to entropy. Heavenly bodies sag,
creases remain along the laugh lines,
bones crack at dawn that slips by too fast.
I forget the time.

The relationships that hold life together
are fading away. Friends and family are gone,
marriages split along the fault lines.
A card sits in a drawer that I bought for
I can’t remember who.

The ideas that hold the country together
have been broken. News is entertainment,
idiots throw mud across the party lines.
We admired stars and heroes once—
I don’t know when.

The hope that unites the planet
has been torn apart. War is life,
soldiers and civilians die on the front lines.
I am either an ‘Us’ or a ‘Them’—
I don’t know which.

All the atoms that bind the universe
are expanding. The nodes of a graph
pushed apart, stretching the lines,
until they break, snap, or crunch—
No one knows what.

All the forces that pull us apart
leave a hole.  Let me stuff the space
with infinite things, things that matter,
until I become you or you become me,
and we know no time.


Instructions for my Funeral

Take my money, and charter a boat.

Sail out on a warm clear night, under a full moon.

Treat it like a wedding party

After the bride and groom have left.

Invite all the people who have me in common

To forget about what’s on shore for a while.

Order plenty of pizza and champagne.

Tell everyone to bring their guitar.

Make sure there is lots of singing,

Hugging of strangers, and lovers sneaking away for kisses.

You can say nice things about me if you want,

But I would rather you say nice things about each other

So that everyone knows all the ways they are loved

While still alive.

Celebrate each other until morning

(You might want to order coffee as well)

And when the sun rises (I promise it will),

Hold on to each other.

Live a moment of Beautiful Awful Truth

And toast the unnumbered days you have left.

The End of Being Pretty

Tell a young girl that good looks don’t matter.
Tell a young man that making money doesn’t matter
when the world is screaming the opposite.

Tell a middle-aged woman that she will lose the advantage
she was never allowed to admit, but enjoyed nonetheless
when she reaches The End of Being Pretty.

Tell me people will appreciate my intellect.
Take me seriously.
Listen without needing to give advice.

Tell me that when I become a “Handsome Woman,”
dancing and singing,
I won’t embarrass myself.

Wait until people find out
I’m not as nice as they think I am.
Or as innocent.

Ah, the baseball players become younger every year.
Can I still wear this dress?
Do I need to change my lipstick shade?

Not yet.
Next year, maybe.
For now, I’ll only flirt under candlelight.