Who are the victims of terrorism?

A man walking down the street,

a woman carrying a bag of food

a child on the way to school

they are the dead.

A man watching the whirlwind

A woman looking at television

A child viewing Facebook

they are the living.

The living

outnumber the dead

but pay the price.

The dead

unlike the living

no longer suffer.

All are maimed,

the living

more than the dead

In Colombia a general

parked his official car

outside a gay whorehouse.

and two transvestites stole it.

Naturally he said

terrorists did it.

They are everywhere.

Terrorists instill terror.

That is their name.

That is their purpose.

That is their meaning

for the living.

They frightened Bush so much

he remained airborne.

They frighten Trump so much

he declares in effect

“Make America Scared Again.”

When terrorists instill terror

they win.

They are winning.


How are you gonna see

the bear that’s up a tree

if you always walk around

with your head hanging down?

How are you gonna see

the son who seeks

the daughter who dares

the wife who wants

yourself who yearns?

How are you gonna see

with your head hanging down?

Photo by Thelma Bowles


In spring in the mountains,

squirrels are the fat cats

gobbling all the bird seed

meant for the 99 percent.

Western tanagers are

the cat’s pajamas,

red, orange, yellow, green and black,

flames among the junipers and pines

Sun shines bright and hard,

a two-edged sword—

too little cuts

as deeply as too much.

It may be more or less

but nothing

is only what it is

in the ecology of metaphor


Day begins as bright

as a new love,

bursting from night

and the sound of silence

with the music of songbirds

backlit in slanting rays.

Later when monsoon clouds

creep in from horizons,

day gradually grays, darkens, blackens.

Like lovers contemplating quarreling,

it holds itself in readiness

for worse to come.

Veils of rain

Spanish call velos

obscure the sky

as they moisten earth


and there

and there

but not here.

Now we are

in the eye of the storm.

Thunder roars somewhere,

lighting strikes

out of sight

behind cruising cumulus.

The world pinches

the clear space

reserved for us,

for love.

Lovers wait

coiled tensely

for storm to pour

on their heads

and flood their yard

and drown their home

and imperil their lives

and assassinate their love.

We wait

in thickening terseness,

in attenuating tenderness

of muscles and brains

for weather to worsen.

But as quickly

as roil and moil,

turmoil and tautness

stretch our love,

as thunderously

as sky

changes its tone

and tears into earth,

the day shines bright again.

The battle is over.

The continent of coupledom

is an island

inhabited by two,


a planet

where every time

we aren’t looking

glaciers melt,

rivers flood

and fires flare wild.

Marriage is memory,

memory is glue

and glue can soften

or set

under the blistering sun,

of connubiality.

This storm passes,

love endures.


He called me at noon.

“I’m Frank, Joe’s friend.”

“Joe said you’d call.”

“Meet me for coffee? Five-ish?”

“Good. See you then.”

“You’re 45 minutes late.”

“I’m not late.”

“You said five.”

“Ish. That’s why I said ish.”