you arrive screaming

what a terrifying thing

infinite potential for harm and kindness

more screaming, more and more, at all hours

like you know about this place already

I, on behalf of the shattered

then partially and insufficiently reconstructed

planet, apologize

what suffering will

you cause, alleviate, survive

and who will you blame?

completely dependent

requiring the most meticulous


love and competence


nurturing and nudging

every broken person

was one of you once too

I remember that every day

I chose them

for my laboring heart

and perhaps excessively conscientious mind

(someone has to choose them and you appeal to far more)

but for you

I offer deepest hope

meager resources

a desperate longing to protect

and bandaging when needed

I know

nothing could spare you

from the machinations of this world

still we share it

awe and fear

complexity and wonder

only fools see cute simplicity

you make everyone a fool

we are court jesters

desperate for your smile

however brief



trucks trailers and campers keep right

I steer none of these

but I move anyway

the right side of the bridge to see

a brief, uninterrupted expanse


sea and cosmos merge

the sun cannot draw a line here

calling it the horizon

fire and earth create such anchors

water and air are for floating

at night, this bay drinks darkness

by day, reflecting light

a void; a mirror

brackish, of course

who wouldn’t be?

Silhouettes Exist, Though They Are Not the Thing Itself

This morning I was driving to work at first light
Pondering art in my morning commute
Committing myself to attempting to paint some day
Considering shapes and colors
Settling on a light yellow fade to light blue, punctuated with silhouettes

I thought
because of the paleness of the sky, 
perhaps I could create this drawing
with a sponge or a cloth rather than a brush
to keep the color from being too thick or intense

Later this morning
I started reviewing developmental psychology
to help a client with a concern
clicked the next suggested article on humanism
(for obvious reasons)
and read a quote from Nietzche
“God is Dead”
apparently credited towards the initiation of agnosticism and atheism in society
humanism arising from a unique intersection
of the faithful and the secular

During lunch
I decided to read this famous parable in full,
having somehow missed it in school,
(I wonder)
and I was struck dumb
with the line
in the midst of a spiritual man’s crisis about God’s departure
“Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?”

What an interesting contrast to my morning;

I wonder what the rest of the day will draw.

Dream Analysis

What to make of this series?

Clouds, stars, disappearing, wish fulfillment, storms, dancing.

It’s all just phantasmagoria.

but sometimes I wonder

if my mind is

constantly trying

to remind me in my sleep

not to care too much

not to be too much

not to say too much

when I


the countless next


I dreamed about tornadoes

at least once a week

for years.

I haven’t in a while, though.

The vast majority were grim, panic-imbued, and notably in greyscale.

In one, towards the end of the series, I realized I dreamt and willed my mind to turn the vortex into something else. It became a great, colorful, flowering tree. This remains my only so-called “lucid dream”.

In the last of the dreams to-date, I felt certain my wife and I would survive the storm.

I don’t miss those dreams.

They did not allow for rest.

the unnumbered

I was dancing

I love dancing

and my dance partner

was my romance partner

at the time

I said,

“I love you”

but the response was,

“Oh, I’m not in love with you.

You’re just the best person I’ve ever met

and I don’t want to hurt you.”

When I told my partner about that dream, I received reassurances, and, a month later, an axe to the chest accompanied by the words, “It’s exhausting to be around such a good person all the time.”

the third

I was laying


in my bed

in the morning

in half-woke torpor

my mother walked in

and gave me

a perfume

a tiny vial

a gift

when I sprayed it

it granted my wishes

I flew

made people happy

experienced joy

This is the third dream I remember.

When I woke up from this dream, I was laying down in half-woke torpor, in the morning, in my bed. My mother walked in and gave me a gift, a tiny vial, a perfume.

The corporeal bottle’s label says,

“Simple Pleasures”.

I am

selectively superstitious

and whimsical,

just like everyone else.

So when I make important wishes

I still spritz it on my heart

and keep it


I was almost an adult. My first wish was the most frivolous. I wished for a good prom. It worked out, though the girl I went with didn’t.

I typically forget

it exists.

It is

a very tiny bottle

and I hide

it from myself. Somehow

I, who could

easily misplace

the Earth itself,

have yet

to lose it.

the second

I was standing in the doorway that

led to the kitchens

at my high school

on a good day,

when teachers sent us to lunch on-time,

that’s where we may get in line

on bad days,

they let us out too late and we

wound up in

(and down and around)

the adjoining halls

I stood in the doorway


two lines of hungry kids shuffling in

as they passed

they did not look at me

but they grabbed a piece of me

and left

she plucked a finger

he swiped an ear

all of them were people I thought

I knew

they didn’t seem to notice

I was disappearing

maybe it was the lack of blood

I wasn’t upset

I didn’t feel a thing

This is the second dream I remember.

the first

I was standing outside

on a hill

surrounded by people

who were staring

at the sky

pointing up


“there’s mine!”


“there’s yours!”


I looked up

everywhere, picturesque white clouds

the kind that look like luxury and comfort


I learned later in life

would actually only feel cold and slightly wet against skin

the beautiful clouds were speckled

with tiny black stars

like polka dots or ornaments

you knew which star belonged to whom

just by looking

I couldn’t find my star at first

then I saw it

it was set against a monstrous dark cloud in the distance


and there weren’t any others

with it

I ran away

afraid people would see the cloud


who I was

This is the earliest dream I remember.


it’s pouring this year

I mean today

I mean this year

as it goes sometimes

last year everything dried up

everyone everywhere was parched

this year, it all flooded back in

and then some

we may grumble

have to change our clothes

and our lives

but I don’t mind

all this weathering

with you

let’s circle the sun again

my love


I never learn.

People say

“you’ve got a piece of my heart”

to each other,

but I can’t love like that.

My love is blazing, not warm, not tepid.

It’s like I grow an entire organ

full of sunshine

every time

and when the possessor goes,

that piece of me

will be raining


I can’t do it any other way.

“You care more about everything

than most people care

about anything anymore.”

Truthfully, I don’t even want to change this weather.

Sometimes, I just have to carry an umbrella to manage the day.

I don’t believe in sun sign significance, mostly.

But Aquarius?

I’m going to give so much light

and bear so much water

by the time I die

I will be an ocean.

Therapy Poem 2: Pessimism

Pessimism is one of the hardest forms of suffering.

Pessimism is unassuaged by goodness.

Pessimism looks a gift horse in the mouth

and then punches it.

Pessimism insists on calling badness inevitable and constant

and then making it such to perpetuate itself.

Pessimism does not allow space for the possibility of improvement.

Pessimism rebuffs all comfort, refuses any opportunity, and distrusts every joy.

They say they want life to get better.

I want the same for them.

Perhaps life will spontaneously untangle itself for them.

But probably not.

They say they want their feelings to get better.

Pessimism is a simpler creature than that.

Pessimism gets attached to misery

because it thinks predicting unrelenting catastrophe will prevent or ease future distress.

Pessimism believes if we do not hope, we will not be disappointed.

Disappointment comes from a perceived drop in goodness;

pessimism is total blindness to goodness.

Thus a pessimist is, in fact, perpetually disappointed.

They say they want the world to get better.

The world seldom gets better when positive outcomes are preemptively dismissed.

Change is fueled by hope – we must start with hope.

But it’s so hard for them to say they want to try to be better, let alone believe they can.

Be kindest to pessimists.

Even in the face of goodness, they experience no joy, internalize no relief.

After they maximize their fill of negativity, they harden themselves to prevent pain,

sealing within all former pain instead, suffocating themselves in it.

We can only try to poke small holes for air to get in.

Therapy Poem 1

you have

167 hours

every week

to build yourself up

or tear yourself down

(or be torn down by others)

to work

and rest

and play

and socialize

and isolate

and change

to despair

and rejoice

and remember


we get

1 hour

most weeks

to process everything

you are

and were

and want

and have

and lost

as well as to plan

how to get

from here

to somewhere else


to stay here

and heal


I do apologize

for my damnably small hands

works of fire

the sky shattered

and tiny pixels rained down

blinking and hissing

nearby another burst

sent waves of gems across

thickening layers of smoke

evening reports

creatures of the locale

tuned in, keyed up, screeched back

we did know

light could deafen

having seen and heard storms

but who knew black sand

from the earth

could cast stars across space

we sent up

chemical blemishes

to streak our dome

feeble and fleeting

fierce and fiery

the spectacle ebbed and flowed

until a visual crescendo,

accompanied by rapid-fire percussion

and a few whistles, on and off the ground

we see

just how

fire works

the only difference between this and that is preference

for a moment I understood everything

but the most important thing I understood

or at least the one I remember

is that I don’t need to understand everything


everything can be anything

and anything is fine


Schrödinger’s cat wasn’t the only cat

(or even a cat)

some cats prefer boxes

and some cats don’t

have you met cats?

let me in, let me out

they want all options, equally, at the same time

that’s why they seem to know a secret

a secret no simple binary device could kill


some of us like being fine

and some don’t

and we can only do what we most want to do

we have to do what we want

but we can want to want something else

and then we can choose to do what we want instead


some of us exist

and some of us don’t

and round it goes

we all get to play

we all get to stop playing

everything is in the box

and everything isn’t

and it’s all fine

because I want it to be

you might not

you might still want to understand everything

that’s fine too

you will

and you won’t


you don’t belong here

you’re here to take it in

you’re not here to let it in


the I-ness of 10,000 things

the way each has limited capacity

for the others

becomes accustomed,



so quickly

as though time was some precious commodity

as though years were significant

and spending them was a challenge

wonder what boredom feels like

then turn back to wonder

and give up assimilation


the dummy

Morning checks:

-Three bluebird eggs in box 1.

-A dummy nest in box 2.

House wrens build them.

Do they get along, Google?

-House wrens may attack bluebird eggs and hatchlings.

-House wrens block all available nesting cavities from other birds.

-House wrens are territorial up to an acre surrounding their real nest.

-House wrens sound bubbly but spell disaster.

I removed the dummy nest (it had been empty for weeks),

careful to check first that there were still no eggs.

They had filled box 2 with so many twigs that part of the entry hole was blocked.

Morning checks:

-Four bluebird eggs in box 1.

-Box 2 still empty, no rebuilding yet.

We burnt the dummy nest in a bonfire last night, along with most yard sticks (to discourage repetition).

Eleven o’clock at night, but a single mockingbird was jarringly awake and screaming somewhere nearby.

“It sounds like he’s going off in seven languages,” I mused. Then, I tried to count — I couldn’t, but it was a lot more than seven.

Early in the morning I heard the bubbling wren again, relentless.

I stuffed a pillow over my head and hoped it wouldn’t harm the bluebird eggs.

Morning checks:

-Still four bluebird eggs in box 1, no holes.

-A dead adult house wren in box 2.

Immediate self-blame.

Did you die of shock from your nest disappearing?

Immediate shame.

You were feared a nuisance, now you’re dead.

I dug deep, covered the bottom of the hole with clover flowers.

Purple rubber-gloved hands slid the bottom out of box 2.

The side of your head facing down had something odd near it.

Your eye.

Something plucked it.

Maybe I didn’t kill you; maybe I gave you a quieter place to die.

Did you somehow fly into that space with half your visual capacity dangling by an optic nerve?

Maybe I did kill you; maybe the somewhat blocked entry hole would have kept out a foe.

Did some other bird’s visual acuity spy your entry and corner you?

Maybe you started it; did you go after the eggs after all?

Maybe they started it; are my beautiful bluebirds territorial too?

(They never harmed the former tenants, Carolina chickadees, despite poking their heads in many times to check for vacancy.)

Maybe something else happened; a predator bird, the screaming mockingbird, a stray branch in harsh winds.

I don’t know anything about birds.

They amaze and confound me.

All I can offer is water

native plants

a couple of boxes

and my powerless hopes for them all.

The house wren’s mate sang loudly from the nearest tree while the burial took place,

the saddest bubbling I’ve ever heard.

Into the hole went a tiny, fragile, fierce, limp body,

more clover flowers as a blanket, and the returning earth,

along with some ashes from the bonfire

a dummy burned.

Fare Well

I am over sleeping

it takes too much of my morning

I want my time back

the birds and the alarm beckon me to awaken

I feel the urge to rise

but I snooze the call again

and again

for years I had insufficient time for sleep

at that point

my life value was centered on productivity

I was over working

maybe I’ve been trying to gain it all back

but sleep debts cannot be repaid in this way

the interest is too steep

I dream a lot

but the dreams turn sour after the night brightens

during those lost hours

sometimes I dream I can’t move at all

or that sleeping too much has crippled me

sometimes I dream I’m already awake

that I’ve started my day again

and again

it is exhausting then to have to do it all over

I have a theory

anxiety is mental self-flagellation

and everyone needs extra rest

after taking a beating

so if I release it

perhaps the sleep tyrant will abdicate

I am over stressing, too

it never really improves anything

especially not my dreams

so I painstakingly peel back layers of anxiety

like cozy blankets

under which I have been sweating

and suffocating

but the baseline—the safety blanket—fights back

“I guard your life, I guard your happiness; without me you will surely fall prey to trickery and lose all you’ve worked for. You will freeze.”

maybe so

but I think I will

fare well


the thing about missing you

is that

for the first time

thoughts of mortality

while still daunting


and unsolicited

are now




not because

I want to go soon

nor because of

some confidence

about thereafter


simply because

I am glad to know

I will not exist

in perpetuity

all the while

indefinitely accruing loss

since I realize

the weight of pain

carried by those who survive

when pieces of their world dissolve

and I am learning

to choose

more carefully

my people

who may someday suffer

when I, too, dissolve

and then

I will wish

for them, too


—admittedly transient—

glimpses of peace