A Minute with Michael

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Wallet Cross

I keep the cross my grandfather

wore around his neck on his

dog tag chain from WWII in my wallet.

I have transferred it to each new

wallet to keep it safe and close

to me at all times.


It is a talisman of sorts for me.

I often attribute my survival through

the various dangers of youthful life,

stupid adventures and poor choices,

to this simple cross once worn through

the terrors of war.


It is the most personal of Memorials

I can have. It is a treasure to me and

I do not know what I would do if I

foolishly lost it or had it taken from me.

To not have it, this Memorial,

I would be demolished.


I also keep the obituary of my other

grandfather in my wallet. He too was

a WWII Vet. It is tattered and worn

from all the transitions from wallet

to wallet. It too is a Memorial I hope

keeps me safe from harm.


I’m okay with giant statues and

chiseled facades depicting the heroism

of all those men and women that have

stood up for their beliefs, who took it

upon themselves to sacrifice their lives

for the betterment of those that come after.


Those statuesque Memorials are for the collective

consciousness to remember, and while

important, they lack the visceral intensity

of holding a sacred item in your hands,

you cannot turn a plaque or statue over through your

fingers and feel the weight it is burdened with.


You cannot run your fingers across the small

details of a special trinket without the fires of

memory igniting in your mind,

flashing to scenes of those times,

now so long gone. A precious item

of innumerable value to inspire and comfort.


Personal Memorials, the weathered photo, the broken locket,

the knick-knack on a shelf, the item that means

absolutely nothing to a stranger

yet means everything to you.

These are the Memorials I value

more than any other.






Perhaps I’m overloaded,

perhaps I’m tired of it,

perhaps the act of caring,

has all become a bit much.


Stunned into stoicism,

through the sheer multitude

of grief and inconceivable acts

performed daily and globally.


The meter broke,

the scale snapped,

the weights and measures

are rusting in the back.


A standard state of mourning,

that’s the simple fact,

black arm bands and half mast

tributes too often in sight.


Perhaps it’s a funk,

perhaps it’s a fugue,

perhaps it’s just how it is,

perhaps it’s always been.


Personal and public,

they both sing dirges

by choirs of the spent,

the worn and weary.


A threadbare soul,

worn thin through

wringing of hands and

furrowed brows.


Perhaps I’m just annoyed,

perhaps I’m just irritated,

perhaps I’m just exhausted,

Perhaps this is the end.


It’s just how I worry,

And I worry a lot.

The poet’s burden,

I guess…

Fire Dancers

Fire Dancers

When I was a child I once

saw fire dancers,

twirling and spinning flaming torches

around their heads and bodies,

the flames spun around the

dancers, but they never got



I thought, “I wish I could try

that, that looks amazing”,

but I was discouraged from doing so.

My mother told me those

fire dancers, they practiced for

a lifetime to master their skill.


She told me it would be dumb

to assume that I, as a child, knew

anything about fire dancing, or fire

for that matter. I didn’t have the

experience, know-how or insight

into the life of a fire dancer.


“I’ll show her”, I thought. I’ll light

this torch on fire and dance with

the greatest of ease, it has to be easy,

they made it look so graceful and

simple. I’m sure I know as much as

they do.


Several minor burns later I knew

my mother was right. I had no

business meddling within the

realms of fire dancers. I did not

have the knowledge, know-how,

or skills to ever understand the

fire dancer’s life.


I was just a child playing with fire,

a child too ignorant and proud to

admit that I was attempting a skill,

a life-style choice that I knew absolutely

nothing about. I learned that I would

have to know more about fire dancers.


I learned that just because I

know about fire-dancers doesn’t

give me the skills to become one.

It doesn’t even give me a platform

to discuss their trials and tribulations.

Lifetimes of burns and scars.


I still know next to nothing about

fire dancers, as a grown man, and

it would be foolish to pretend that

I knew what was best for the fire

dancing community.


Let the fire dancers dance,

let them twirl and spin,

wildly in the night,

without the non-fire dancers

telling them how to do it.


Eventually, they’ll burn you.

And you probably asked for it.


Bullied Thoughts

Bullied thoughts

The stanza below is the only

portion of a poem I was working

on that I have kept.


“I am the grown-up version

of a bullied child.

I felt the barbs and brutality

of childhood and at times,

I still feel the sting, even

this far removed from

childhood. It is a sore spot,

a white-hot scar on adulthood.”


The rest of the poem, I hated.

It wasn’t right. It wasn’t saying

what needed to be said. I couldn’t

find the right sort of words to

really explain what that stanza meant.


Three long, overwrought, incarnations of the poem

went across this page and all of them

failed to clearly imbue the reader with

the right sense of the trap of being

bullied as a child can be.


I’m still not sure about it.

I still don’t think I can get it right.

All I know is that at times,

the inner bullied child still

whispers in my ear as I face

the challenges of being a grown up.


It whispers, “You can make it.”

But I’m not sure.

I’m not sure which of us is braver.

The one that survived, or the one

still persevering.


Maybe I’ll keep this one.

Maybe it’s just right for him.


Annoyingly Necessary

Awkward Couple

The most extremely complicated

simplest thing ever cooked up in

the human mind must be love.

It’s entirely irrational and annoyingly



I have been looking for that sort of

relationship love for what seems like

an inordinate amount of time now and

it is really starting to get to me in ways

I didn’t know it could.


I get jealous of couples, even unhappy

couples, who seem to have found each

other through the barriers and obstacles

life gleefully dumps into our paths, it’s

maddening to be on the outside of that.


I have been writing about romantic love,

partnership love, love-love and all other

kinds of love for an excruciating long

time and it amazes me that I still haven’t

met someone who inspires my heart.


I’ve been told my expectations are too high,

that I’m a romantic and real life is just about

getting along, settling and just doing what you

got to do to live. Happiness is an illusion sold

by Hollywood and life really is boredom mixed with pain.


Life is indeed boring without getting

outside oneself and into the mind of another

person, someone who so completely cares about

you, almost as much as they do about themselves,

and you, reflect that admiration unequivocally.


Who does that? Is that really a thing?

Am I fooling myself with my fantasies of love,

of children, of a life broader than where it’s been,

is that sort of uncompromising and genuine love

real? Is it just a myth?


Maybe I just don’t know what it is

that I’m supposed to be trying to find.

Perhaps I’m putting too much

pressure on myself to find that

right sort of person who compliments me

as much as I compliment them,

perhaps I’ll just keep writing this

long sentence until she does come

along and taps me on the shoulder,

asks me if I’m okay and looks at me

with gentle open eyes and I stammer,

probably say something completely stupid

and out of context and maybe she’ll

laugh and the next thing you know she’ll

be reading this poem and kindly laughing at

me for being so foolish, she’ll lean over and kiss

my cheek and go back to being someone



Yeah, it is complicated and amazing

and I want it. In the most annoying way.





Shameless Self Promotion

Saying too much Cover

Dear Readers,

I am shamelessly self promoting my second book of poetry today. Saying Too Much is the second volume of poems and the follow up to my first poetry book, Never Said Enough.

Please see the link below of additional information. Thank you very much for your continued readership.



Loving the Tattooed Lady

Tattooed Lady

An orchard of pain

was tattooed along the curves

of her body.


The colors and waves of light,

tendrils of ink telling her



I ran my fingers along the

outlines of her pains and the

tale of each skin painted picture.


She bit on the edge of her

thumbnail, lost in some memory,

looking outward, into the past.


I was delicate in my touch,

as she recalled each tattooed

broken heart borne on her sleeve.


Stories written in blood,

over flesh, scars and time,

now elegant and masterpieces of coping.


Velvety red roses dappled in sunlight and

dew, masterfully drawn to tell the

story of the loss of her mother.


Orange and yellow flames flickering in the shadow

of the curve of her spine, to

illustrate a near fatal car accident.


Thick green thorny vines wound around her

hip and across her belly, her connection

to her lost child.


Bright azure birds in flight on her

shoulder blades over a blackened sky

to mark her rise over an ever-present sadness.


Each flourish of ink; pinks, blues,

purples and yellows, flashing vibrantly,

a swirling testimonial of survival.


I became aware of my silence,

awash with teary-eyed tenderness for the

tough, tattooed woman.


She lit a cigarette and exhaled,

blue white smoke filling the space above her head,

a halo drifting in the waning daylight.


She spoke softly, white blanket pulled

modestly over her legs, plainly speaking

as I plainly listened.


A carefully crafted orchard of pain,

etched lovingly across her skin,

bravely hiding everything, and nothing.


I Don’t Know


The most wonderful thing

I have learned is that I don’t

really know anything.

It’s quite odd, this wonderful thing.


I’ve preconceptions,

notions, ideas, concepts,

abstract thoughts,

but know nothing.


I thought I knew a lot.

I thought I had some of

this whole living thing

worked out; alas, I don’t.


I understand a great deal,

which has led me to this

discovery of my illusion of



It’s both terrifying and

grand. It’s scary to learn

that everything I thought

I knew was mostly inaccurate.


It’s grand because it gives me

a chance to re-think, re-start,

re-organize and reevaluate

my relationships.


It’s also irritating as I’ve been

sort of stuck in the same thing

for a long time and getting un-stuck

is a serious hassle.  Serious. Hassle.


In this discovery of knowing nothing,

I’m conflicted with the old ways of seeing

things, the new way of seeing things and

deciding which way is right for me.


A minefield of historical errors of

prologue to review, to suffer renewed

embarrassments over, light shame, and

nostalgic bashful chuckles to ruminate on.


It is in knowing that we know nothing,

that we can begin to find wisdom, and wisdom

is the art of accepting that knowledge is



Still though, it is odd,

considering how much I thought,

I knew, about everything, only to

find out, I don’t even know.

The Complainies


I’m being poked by an

irritant of some kind.

It’s persistent and

gnawing. It’s making me

irritable and annoyed.


It’s the Complainies!

Ah, yes. The Complainies.

I get the Complainies every so

often. Usually when I feel like

nothing is going my way.


Even when things are going

my way, I can still sometimes

get the Complainies. Actually,

the Complainies can be rather



They can sneak up on me,

“Jeeze, look at that idiot drive,” I say.

Or, “I’m so tired of online dating.”

“Why is this taking so long,” or,

“Everyone here is dumb but me.”


I don’t really mean any of it.

(Except the online dating thing;

that’s just batshit nonsense and I

hate everything about it.)

I’ve just got the Complainies.


The Complainies make me hate

things, hate you, hate me, hate them,

hate those that tell me not to hate,

hate the haters, and generally hate the

whole damn stupid world’s face.


But I don’t. I don’t really hate it.

I recognize that the world isn’t

a perfect place and it’s unreasonable

to expect it to be so. I know that it’ll

all be okay with a little perseverance.


In the meantime though,

I’ll complain, moan, be disgruntled,

annoyed and be generally sarcastic,

until I’ve gotten all the

Complainies out of my system.


Please bear with this slight bout

of the Complainies, it’ll pass

soon enough and I’ll be back to

my slightly miserable and mildly

optimistic lovable self.


Not As Easy As It Looks


How can I say,

what I want to say,

without really knowing,

what it is I want to say,

and be coherent and relatable

to those that matter?


The flowery language

I keep using is making me

nauseous. I don’t want to

write another poem slathered

in pretension and soaked in



I’m not even sure that I want

it to matter, considering the

transitory nature of things,

the state of flux and change

so constant all the time; would

it matter?


A poem carved into a stone

will eventually fade with the

passage of time, even granite

will give up the etched words

to the stalking ravages of



The superfluous words,

crowding the edges of my brain,

want to fit and fill this page,

but they are meaningless and

trite, signifying absolutely



The meaning I mean to

mean is without meaning.

I suppose I should have known

what I wanted to say before I got

this far along, before I ever even

got to the end.


Poetry is hard.