my new courthouse: a tragic comedy*

June 25, 2017

i hope someone got kickbacks
that fraud, and graft, and guilt
at least explain to some degree
how this damn thing got built

this monument to justice
whose walkway to our courts
requires ropes and pulleys
and sherpas with supports

whose hurricane strength windows
if not some exit doors
were clearly put in backward
cause when it rains, it pours

unless, of course, there’s fire
and one should need the stairs
sadly, few have access
the rest, i guess, have prayers

they claim alarms will open
the stairs and doors now locked
but if that’s true, assailants too
can reach the folks they’ve stalked

as can the angry claimant
who’s now a demonstrator
after waiting half a day
to get an elevator

or perhaps the felon
on trial, unrestrained
who’s thinking of new ways
his goal might be attained

for nothing here is solid
the place is paper thin
the walls, the desks, the fixtures
are barely more than skin

yes, it’s green, how wonderful
to see the lights go out
when they decide you’re finished
cause you don’t jump about

now the pipes are leaking
it’s flooded down the hall
which means the mold we fled from
will catch us after all

well, at least we had some time
to draw a weary breath
before this latest screw-up
returned the threat of death

*inspired, in part, by actual events

full conviction

June 20, 2017

his is a prosecutor, the people’s lawyer
though finished with the last of his litigation
and prepared to begin a new role as judge
he leaves us no less, as we can gain no more

his voice will likely remain in these halls
cracking sharp, like the whip has been
carrying the bark of a front line soldier
as he rallied those needed to his cause

you can cue him to the star spangled banner
and he will keep in time as well as sentiment
not a word or note will feel out of place
each having been composed of full conviction

for his is that rare and unwavering belief
uncommon but simple: there is a “right”
and people of good conscience stand to it
whatever the cause, whatever the hardship

here, has been the good and willing soldier
though his salute, at times, was lacking
and he rolled his eyes at an order or two
he was first, he was always, a warrior

no battle, no foe, no odds were too great
whomever be the victim of injustice
whenever, wherever, such evil was at work
he rose, without hesitation, to meet it

often overworked, underappreciated
left to the impossible, he’d draw strength
thinking of his ‘why’, his home, his family
of fantasy drafts and children’s dance recitals

those who thought him stern or harsh
they never saw that, nor would he let them
no one needed to know why he fought
what, to him, meant more than all he had

they didn’t know, this man who sought death
saw life as the most precious of all gifts
and saw those who unjustly injured or took it
as deserving a full measure of the law’s wrath

now, his talents recognized, he moves on
his experience, its wisdom, put to fresh use
while we, as his colleagues, will miss much
the community gains, as he takes his new oath

for my friend, the Honorable Thomas Coleman

nothing’s lost

June 15, 2017

nothing worth keeping
is ever possessed
what’s offered for ‘ever’
is borrowed at best

like life, it exists
for a moment to share
then it leaves, as it must
whether proper or fair

so there’s nothing to take
and there’s nothing that’s lost
though the soul senses grief
and the heart bears its cost

each passes to wisdom
the next lesson learned
in which a best self
is revealed as its earned

what’s left of what’s gone
as we learn, as we grow
is the best of what was
among all we’ve seen go

uninvited

June 6, 2017

what’s this spider on my wall?
is it dangerous at all?
do i kill it? let it be?
is the choice what’s best for me?
better safe than sorry, right?
and if one comes tomorrow night?

unimagined

April 10, 2017

my eyes, though they chose not to see
my voice, though it chose not to speak
my heart, whose call, so long ignored
had grown so distant, worn, and weak

would each, whatever be their fate
have all my hesitations closed
if only what you now reveal
my thoughts could even have supposed

but as it is, you’re first to see
and first to speak, instead of me
the one to ask both if and why
what none should doubt or now deny

my love, those words i left unsaid
the ones you speak, the way you feel
the passions, hopes, and dreams you’ve shared
are part of me and no less real

what seemed a fantasy, instead
from all life’s crucible had wrought
was you, possessed of all you are
would give me more than passing thought

he was a bear

March 30, 2017

fuzzy wuzzy was a bear
lost a bet and shaved his hair
six months later, still left bare
he went out for clothes to wear

fuzzy wuzzy found a store
filled with furs like he once wore
hats, and belts, and so much more
just the place he need explore

fuzzy wuzzy walked in nice
seeking nothing but advice
help with style, size, and price
would, in fuzzy’s mind, suffice

fuzzy wuzzy was struck numb
when a clerk, confused and dumb
asked the bear if he knew some
of the place where furs come from

fuzzy wuzzy, had not had
but he learned, and then got mad
what the bear did next was bad
leaving many clerks quite sad

fuzzy wuzzy was a bear
even if he had no hair
guess the clerk just didn’t care
till ol’ fuzzy made him fare

understanding dinosaurs

March 22, 2017

we dinosaurs are big
our steps lumber
and our voices boom

but we’re not really mean
just difficult
or often confused

we try to talk, to tweet
text emojis
and pix on snapchat

but we’re not very good
our eyes are old
and our fingers, slow

still, we remember things
like privacy
civil rights, world wars

and standing up to fear
ours and others
for shared principles

able, still, to give our lives
(or what’s left of them)
for these gifts you enjoy

so, be patient with us
some use remains
as dangers likewise

we’ll be fossils soon enough
a resource, one last time
in, and as long, as our wisdom

come home

March 20, 2017

i know we haven’t spoken
for far too many years
a distance which, for both i fear
has shed too many tears

i know that you feel cheated
and blame me when you’re mad
no more or less, than me i guess
though all i feel is sad

but every night you’ve spoken
i’ve hung on every word
and every prayer you’ve whispered
i promise it’s been heard

i beg you, rest the prophets’ words
their dogma and your fear
listen, grant your soul its voice
your father is right here

here, in strength, in breath, in thought
in all you have achieved
having had more faith in you
than you yourself conceived

proud, without ambition’s greed
of goodness said and done
of heart, of mind, of spirit full
in causes lost and won

yet darling one, i’ve missed you most
when pain has wracked your life
for little has meant more to me
than helping ease your strife

come home, renew my purpose
give me, as i gave you
the chance to love, to revel
in all your soul can do

if you knew

March 8, 2017

if you knew you didn’t know
would you want to…yes or no?
if you did, you’d ask me though
which you haven’t, so you’re slow…

keep up…

if you’re truly so inclined
and you seek, that’s what you’ll find
as accords your state of mind
but you can’t just sit there blind…

look out…

it’s a thought, why can’t you see
you need to feel, not just to be
sense your heart, your soul, they’re key
if you can’t, then you’re not free…

breathe deep…

it’s not how, it’s always why
doesn’t matter, but you try
better broken, than a lie
so you fall, you learn to cry…

move on…

if you knew you didn’t know
would you want to…yes or no?
if you did, you’d ask me though
which you haven’t; there you go…

you’re done.

human resources

March 3, 2017

“chivalry is dead” she said
“our h.r. won’t permit it”
everyone is equal now
regardless of who did it

so boys who pick on girls are told
(just like the girls) to “quit it”
and if they don’t, complaints are made
then formally submitted

i prefer the olden days
when far less need be said
we’d chat, and if that didn’t work
we’d take a walk instead

cause sometimes words are not enough
to get it through one’s head
and while it’s true, we hurt a few
most learned before they bled