Color Me / Color You

Some love their coffee black while others vie for a black belt.

Some live in brownstones and go brownbagging to work.

Some are keen on golden handshakes that provide golden opportunities.

Some love the silver screen. Some were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Some grow white as a ghost when receiving a scarlet letter. Some are tickled pink by purple prose.

Others roll out the red carpet for those with a Purple Heart. Some exist in gray areas. Others dwell in greener pastures.

Some are yellowbellied. Others succeed with flying colors.

But pretty much all of us, at some point, suffer from the blues.

What Diseases Whisper to Us While We Sleep?

Days of letdowns, feeling unseen vs. those getting on up, getting back on the scene.

Days of walking crowded or well-distanced streets, forging the depths of fake news vs. real news.

Undercounting death tolls and high-stakes elections. Encountering those politically unmasked vs. others respectfully protected.

Unrest, unemployment, and racism thrive while too many black men die.

Days when innocence seems rarer than cynicism, when the clock turns slowly and Minneapolis burns,

when the only thing we seem to have in common is what keeps us awake at night.

At the Banquet Table of Song

Feast on a smorgasbord of melodies.

Offer yourself a diet of well-simmered harmonies, rhythms that stick to the ribs, and beats that don’t leave you bloated.

Forgo any bootlicking lyrics that leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Allow your ears to dinner-party with woofers and tweeters serving tasty treats of tempo and timbre.

Savor the flavor of melody and form.

Eat the music that best suits your appetites, makes you whole.

Listener, heal thyself.

Corona

Seasons where the dead weather calls you its mate.

Endless days of innocence donning riot gear and a face mask to protect itself from cruel cynics and a deadly disease.

Was that the song of angels heralding a new sunrise or the howl of rebels without a cause?

If only it had all been so simple as just downing a beer.

When Counting the Beads on This New-Day Rosary

Next, there was the clear blue sky of my voice calling out thanks. No, that came later.

Before that were the countless men and women who’ve lost their lives on the frontlines of wars—be they with a known enemy or a novel disease.

Those who’ve bravely paved the way for sun-seekers, like me, to count another bead on our new-day rosary.

Those who’ve witnessed rapture and rust, fear and fortitude, death and deep courage.

Those who’ve died in Vietnam or Afghanistan, World Wars, the Civil War, the Korean War, or all the medical professionals who’ve died while fighting this strange disease on the battlefields of everywhere.

To all of you, I thank you.

Down at Hard Luck & Grace

Down at the intersection of Hard Luck and Grace, midnight bar saints make potent mixtures of mercy and starlight.

A drunk radio wails how people should feel the love zone before the tombstone.

On a nearby street corner, kindness arrives like a bus on time while in a nearby alleyway, the crowbar boys speak hate in so many languages but kindness in only a few.

Black cats admire themselves in cracked mirrors. The religion of pain accepts all denominations of desperation.

Sparkle-eyed lovers dress themselves in the moon’s reflection fresh off the river. They do their best to remain becoming in these times becoming crazier by the day.

Humming This Song Until I Discover a Better One

When we believe fate’s deck is stacked against us. When kindness, science, and common sense play a zero-sum game against the government.

When we carry ourselves like a forlorn flower heading to the gallows. When perpetual anthems of inner rain dull our spirit to rust.

When, during these rootless and ruthless days, our calendar minds are stripped of their pages—

may we call upon instinct’s North Star to guide us home.

May we rely upon muscle memory to recall our most cherished embrace.

To say these things, it is not my wish for us to walk on water. Instead, to rise from it should we feel like we’re drowning.

Love Poem #108

Death tries to bust our radios, consume our spirits. It asks us to dance as Armageddon calls out last call.

Death ties a string around our neck, so we don’t forget its power to steal us away at any moment.

It tempts us to taste its home cooking. Sneaks beneath our evening covers, pretends to be our lover.

Offers us a shotgun wedding with the bereft and a honeymoon with the blues. It hits on all cylinders of misery, takes us on a long ride to the dark side. Cracks our mirrors, makes us look like old tombstones.

So many ways death makes its presence known.

Amidst it all, there has been love.

On even the coldest days, we’ve heard it speak our name in some way.

Love need not do much more to hold our attention.

Closer

Would you dare?

Maybe.

At less than arm’s-length?

We’ll see.

What about now?

What’s that? I can’t understand you.

Should I take off my mask?

Perhaps.

What about now? Would you dare?

Only if you think so.

What if I know so?

Know what?

That I want to tell you I love you.

But you can say that at more than arm’s length.

But isn’t closer better?

As in this close?

Closer.

Closer?

Yeah, you haven’t forgotten what that feels like, have you?

Quarantine Similie

It’s like how some can have everything and yet have nothing. Or how some can have nothing and yet have everything.

It’s like how certain hearts are dark as an x-ray of a bullet. Or how heaven is written into the fine print of certain people’s laugh lines.

It’s like how we can say the most profound things with our eyes while our lips are hidden behind face masks.

Or how sundown can taste like a first and last kiss.

It’s like how we can mistake a streetlight for the moon. Or how a certain day can feel like a million midnights.

It’s like how Beethoven’s deaf ear created some of the finest music.

Or how some turn their pain into altars of possibility.