Tag Archives: poems

i am not rich

I am not rich except in all the ways you should be

no need to spell it out

I am not smart but smart enough to know right from wrong

shall I go on?

Or can the song stop here with the bolded-up truth that finds the mark each time

a la Babe Ruth?

That we’re all there already and that winning is redundant

when all have won

Open your hand, see the prize stretch out from your fingertips to infinity

to everyone.

Me in the Badlands of South Dakota. Photograph by Iain Willis.

Me in the Badlands of South Dakota. Photograph by Iain Willis.


god wind blow

God Wind blow
Turn cities to rust
Turn lakes to mountains
History to dust

God Wind grow
To stratospheric heights
Expand through space and time
Cross continents, span lives.

God Wind flow
Within me and without
Carry me away
Scatter me about

God Wind dance
Duets with midnight flame
Make ballets with trees
Choreograph the rain.

Clouds at sunset, Lake Arenal, Costa Rica.

Clouds at sunset, Lake Arenal, Costa Rica.



You are rational

I am less

You are wrought iron

I am glass.


You saved pennies

For a rainy day

I make pennies

Go a long way.


You made bridges

You’ll never cross

You are rational

And then you’re not.


Dad and I watching a gecko in Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. March 2015


babe in the river

Babe in the river
Babe in my heart
Where ever you’ll go
We’re never apart

The cold mountain water
Makes you shiver at first
The world’s sometimes like that
When you jump in head first:

You were one week old
I was running around Brooklyn
Your mama was in stitches
As I attempted the cooking

I said: I’ll never be more tired
I was wrong about that
But I’ve never been happier
To put out my back.

Babe in the river
Your eyes lit in rapture
In a pool before the rapids
Before the who-knows-ever-after.

Alice and I @ Living Forest, Lake Arenal. Costa Rica, March 2015

Alice and I @ Living Forest, Lake Arenal. Costa Rica, March 2015

what art means to me – a poem

Shall I say first what art is not.

Art is not a movement

Not exclusivity or bragging rights

Not diamond-studded death,

Talking points in the press.

Art is not storms in teacups

Explanations of my own artwork

‘Saying something’

Art is not instant gratification

Not: my idea but the student on slave wages made it.

Art is me

This is my truth

Now tell me yours.

My pain and joy

My fluid soul and stubborn will

The burning embers of faith

The blood and guts.

Caustic soda poured on a wound of 30 years

Four and a half billion years of Earth’s history distilled into a whiskey tumbler. Taken neat.

The heartbeat in utero

The drum roll before oblivion,

The things I am

The thing I’m not

The questions that will never let me be.

o heart be strong (a poem)

O heart be strong

For the pain you must suffer is your pain alone
But if you reach out a hand
When it gets too much
There will be friends to carry you along
But you must not be afraid to communicate your pain
For otherwise they’ll not know to help.

O heart be strong

When the ache of life is overwhelming and you feel ready to burst
Know that you can and you will absorb this ache
For it’s the ache love makes
And your pain is your passion
And true passion, in the end, transforms to grace.

O heart be strong

Take comfort from the great hearts of the past
The hearts of poets and lovers
The hearts of seer and sage.
The courage of these sacred mothers and fathers to lay bare the contents of their hearts should be your example
And the trail they blazed is lit by the light of truth.
Dostoyevski, Samual Taylor Coleridge
Patti Smith and David Foster Wallace
James Joyce and Albert Camus
Mos Def and Morrissey,
Your hearts are strong.

O heart be strong

For the house is laid with trapdoors that lead nowhere
Or to those who have misplaced right and wrong
And while the man with the microphone
Claims to have the answer
It’s the voice inside you must rely on.

O heart be strong

Against the fads and the fakery
Against the dangers of blind lust
Against the stupid insensitivity of naked profit
Against the carelessness of action without cost.

O heart be strong

For fear of failure is only the refuge of vanity
And there’ll always be those who don’t care for what you do
But if you allow wounded pride stop you unfolding your humanity
Then you’ll be letting ego obscure your true self
And if you don’t find the courage to fight your corner
Why would anyone else?

O heart be strong

Because the only failure comes in not trying
So be a light to those around and don’t give in
Become a brother to all human beings
A universal human in your actions
And let yourself unfold, like a flower,
The beauty that lies within.

africa poems

 God Wind (Lamu, Kenya, 2006)

The women in the water, and they drinking up the sea

The baby for the slaughter – he smile up to you and me

The tourist in the floater, speeding off to take their ease,

Me I’m walking by the water and I’m feeling the sea breeze.

That’s like destiny, a mystery

The God Wind got a hold on me

The sand crabs walking at my feet

Slip into holes – don’t know where they lead.

How come everything duality?

My body ache for raw simplicity

The women drinking up the sea,

They regurgitate a kiss for me

The child lies murdered at my feet

And the God Wind blows to history,

Yeah the God Wind blows to history.

The Wind and the Man (Lamu, Kenya, Jan. 2006)

Palm trees sway, leaves shiver,

Bounce, tickle the air

Fisherman on barnacle spattered rock

Swings a line to the waves

The wind-whipped white-winged waves


Raucously around the brown man’s legs;

Long slender affairs, half hidden in billowing shorts

Sharp jerk

Flash of flapping silver glitters in the daylight

Brown legs crouch, study the catch,

Eye to fisheye

Still. Then jerks – a frisson of fear

Catches the neck; twist, snap, and the hook goes free. Dropped on the deck to die.

A seagull hovers overhead, pulled sideways by the wind.

Fat Chancer (Khartoum, Sudan, 2005)

You’ve got to make enough money to feed your family

Any way you can, any way you can.

‘Cos life’s no picnic, you don’t know you’re born son

So you play the game and you beat the man.

Keep your eye on the ball and your back to the wall

And don’t show your hand, or you’re in the can.

If you don’t ask questions and keep your head down,

Then you’ll sleep in satin not before too long.

Now look at me, I’ve an SUV

And a home in Spain and a place in France

I like a good vintage and a tome on history,

And I love my kids, don’t get me wrong

But I came from nothing, a fighter from the street

Punched above my weight; I’m a self-made man

You say there’s people starving, I don’t write the rules son,

The system keeps them down? Well, not this one

You’ve got to make enough money to feed your family

Any way you can.

When you’re two… (Khartoum, 2005)

There’s nothing you can’t do

When you’re two.

There’s nothing you can’t be

When you’re free from ideology

And you’re best friend’s a toy monkey.

You brim with the gleaming potential of a dewy May morning

But the cracks between your toes need inspecting.

Ethiopian mountainside (Simian Mountains, Ethiopia, Nov. 2005)

Night falls on the mountainside

In the sky the freshness of a star

Steep valley ridges lose their shape

Their rippling contours merge to black.

The last warmth of sunlight glows on the ridge opposite

And slowly the orange disintegrates to tawny white.

If you look closely you can see it happen,

Watch the world transform before you – timeless moment.

On the far side of the valley fires burn in the darkness

Later on, they will peter out and disappear into the night.

The White Desert (Egypt, 2005)

The sun drops in the desert

The only sound, the scratch of pen on paper:

This orange globe falls so fast in this strange lunar land

Its faint afterglow hangs in the air like an echo, and is gone.

Queer obelisks sprout from the ground

Ancient limestone runes moulded by time

Proud blue sky loses its lustre and turns smoky white

And soon it will be night, soon it will be night.