One Last Golden Sunset

Long ago ’round blazing campfires they sat
Hearts open to the heavens
Giving themselves over to their dreams
For the moment forgetting–
the forsaken space separating them
from the other side

No pretenders left
Nothing left to pretend
Rebellious spirits dancing
Past their time
Well past the point of return
Wishes for a shooting star lost
Nothing left but cold embers
Waiting for one last golden sunset

Just What Happiness Is

No need for happiness
when everything goes your way
No need for joy
when the day overflows with sunshine

No need for thanksgiving
when there is plenty
or when there’s no decision to make
about which direction to take

No need to tell your story
with the happy ending–
the one where things worked out
Tell that story another day

No need for Friday night poetry
when music and dance fills the air
Give thanks tonight for your loneliness
Helping you remember just what happiness is

Written in Tucson, Arizona, Winter 1970

My Last Birthday

If we’re lucky enough
We grow old
With wisdom, love and health
No regrets
No clinging to what we can never hold onto

Only with joy in our heart
Should we hold this moment
For it’s all we have
And when we think about it
It’s all we ever really need

Confessions Among Strangers

They said his poetry killed him
Actually not his poetry–
But the long sleepless nights
Filled with shameless darkness
The sort you only know
If you stare long enough
Into the abyss of your soul
Looking for something to confess–
Something to take away the pain

Good poetry isn’t easy
Unless it rips your guts out
Stripping you naked of the clothes
You wore to first communion–
That inconvenient place of passive confession
Where all the other strangers stood watch
As you took your first drink–
Tasted the salty blood of life

And where are they now–the strangers
When you need a witness
As the last thread of pride slips off your shoulder
Into the tall empty glass you call your life–
The glass giving you the courage
To mouth your pathetic confessions

Before he died
He whispered with stinking breath to his only sister–
Something about an idea for a new poem–
One about an bitter old man who died
Because he drank his own blood
Hoping he might live through one more night
And at the break of dawn
Confess one last time to a stranger