Friday, May 31, 2019


“Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.”

—Walt Whitman (from “Song of Myself”)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and the crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body..."
—Walt Whitman (from the preface to the 1855 edition of LEAVES OF GRASS)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


"...and then I felt down in my soul the clear and unmistakable conviction to disobey all, and pursue my own way."  —Walt Whitman (from Specimen Days)

Monday, May 27, 2019


As I understand it, and experienced it as a kid, Memorial Day is when we honor those in the military who died in wars. A lot of folks confuse it with Veterans Day, which is in November (originally Armistice Day celebrating the end of World War One, the war to end war) and honors all veterans, even those, like me, who never saw combat. In thinking today about those mostly young "warriors" who died in wars, I can't help but focus on the lives they still had ahead of them that never were, and the contributions they might have made to our world. What a tragic waste of potential.

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Spent my birthday yesterday morning and afternoon with my two sons, Miles (who said something to make me laugh in the selfie of all three of us in the kitchen of my apartment) and Flynn (who's goofing, which I'm reacting to, in the shot Miles took of us at "brunch"...

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Shot of me with Bette Bland, Rachel E. Diken, and John White (who blew us all away) after reading (and reciting) our poetry at the Orange NJ Music City Festival last Saturday. [photo by Lori Sutherland, I think]

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


I didn't know Muhlaysia Booker personally. But her death has broken my heart in so many more ways than even the deaths of close friends and family members. Because she embodies all that I have written and demonstrated and fought to defend in the struggle for equal rights for all.

Not only was she obviously a beautiful young woman, but a transgender woman of color, the most likely segment of our population to suffer violence at the hands of mostly men, but unfortunately often with the support of some women.

Muhlaysia suffered an excruciatingly violent beating not long ago that was captured on video, which I find impossible to watch all the way through and even only seconds of watching unfortunately inspires in me a violent response, including fantasies of vigilantism, like beating the beater to as close to death as humanly possible. Now, Muhlaysia has been found shot to death (not that long after the beating, but after the beater had been released from jail!).

The police at the moment I'm writing have no suspect in custody, nor as far as I know have they announced any suspects (the beater has disappeared, which should create some idea of who might be a likely suspect). The saddest aspect of this for me is that the men beating Muhlasyia and the women egging them on were, like Muhlaysia, African-American.

The deep-seated fear and disdain and even hysteria that too many men and women have in response to transgender women (and men, but women in particular), is too often reinforced by just about every social norm as expressed in entertainment and news (how often do these murders, let alone beatings, appear in any news you pay attention to?) and everyday conversations and interactions.

Time for a broad movement to defend and support transgender women.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


a favorite photo of my first wife Lee and me just after we married in 1964,
I was 22, she was 21, and we'd only met once in person before we married,
though we'd been corresponding since we met at 18 and 17...
this was in Washington state where I was stationed in the military inland,
but friends, a college student couple, had spent their student loans on a boat we were visiting

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


"...human affairs still continue to be the consequence of mistakes, misunderstandings, and myths."  —William Saroyan (from Days Of Life And Death And Escape To The Moon)

Monday, May 13, 2019


On this Saturday, May 18th, I'll be one of the poets reading from 3:30 to 5PM as part of The Music City Festival put on by The Free University of Orange at the HUUB, 35 Cleveland Street, Orange NJ  

Also on the same day, May 18th, but at 7PM I'll be reading my poetry, and Rachel E. Diken will be reading hers, at ANT Bookstore & Cafe, 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton NJ

Hope to see you there (and/or there)

Sunday, May 12, 2019


This has always been my favorite photo of my mom, taken in the 1920s before I knew her (I came along in 1942, the last of a brood that began n 1926 the year after she and my father married), but the same eyes I still see in my mind when I think of her, and she passed in 1966, on Mother's Day (or the night before) the way I remember it.  I had been away in the military for the previous four years so never really got to talk to her as an adult, the way I later wished I had. So many questions left unanswered and things left unsaid. But from my side, I still talk to her in my head.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


my three oldest brothers and me c.1950 when I was 8
the friar (the oldest of my siblings, Tommy, soon to be Father Campion)
and the next oldest Jimmy (who we called Buddy) in the white shirt
had both been in the military at the end of "the war" (WWII)
and both had attended college on the G.I. Bill
and both were hip musicians ("reed men") and I adored them,
the third, for some reason known by his middle name Robert,
would soon enter the army, and then become a teamster and later a cop,
he was my tough guy hero as a boy,
all three long gone now,
(between them were two sisters, Joan, also gone, and Irene, still with us
and a brother, John, who died as an infant)
and then me looking angry, probably because
I wasn't looking as sharp as them, forced to wear the pants our grandmother
(who lived with us)
made for me,
and she probably made the shirt as well,
which I could not complain about without hurting her and I would never do that  

Saturday, May 4, 2019


Today is the anniversary of the killing of college students at Kent State in Ohio in 1970. Eleven days later on May 15th 1970, there was another massacre at Jackson State in Mississippi. These two events were turning points in the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements, emblematic of the disproportionate force the authorities were willing to use to stop young people from organizing against an unjust war and racism. I have a poster we made from these two photos somewhere in my archives that hung on the walls of my homes for many years with the message: NEVER FORGET! I haven't. [And yes, those are police bullet holes in the Jackson State photo.]