Brain Game

Busy brain stays alert

distracted with preordained projects.
Distracted brain might see opportunity

disciplined to notice differences.
Disciplined brain keeps perfect time

attentive to a fault.
Attentive brain bestows joy

generously spread when needed.
Generous brain buys-in often

enabling multitudes of desires.
Enabled brain learned to learn

busy with success that followed.

.

..

- artwork by Shantell Martin -
- mailed to Massachusetts -

the Ride

Focus forward 
past the clear vision
toward the beginning
of anything new
     The baby responded
     while I drove the car
     and myself down the path
     of destroyed alleys
with their garbage-making garbaged walls
and smearing colors of broken packages
that held everything purchased yesterday

"Bumpy ride" baby began
but I heard "jump inside"
So obediently
that vision closed to the outside 
and every side
I started seeing ahead of the light
toward the work to do
for baby and something new
Past some clear vision
toward that beginning
of a new belief in... ...

.

..

- artwork by Kiki Smith -
- mailed to Rhode Island -

Jester

a poem is like a machine
with mechanisms encouraging dream
layers of levers dressed as words
creating the engine to spew undeterred

using words to get beyond words
poems infuse vitality to closed eyes
holding contradictions in a single breath
activating ideas unless you're dead

O poem O poem
direct me away from certainty
yet be concrete and precise
enough so I can jest today about yesterday

.

..

….

- Artwork by Gary Hume… -
- inspiration by “Why Poetry” by Matthew Zapruder -
- Mailed to Maryland -

Rally In The Park

Feeling like a piece of cheese
Squashed in pita bread getting melty in the middle.
Heat coming from pressure.
Moving closer. So close to the adults.
Pockets bumping and mouths murmuring.
It’s not a circus but looks like one.
Feeling small. Looking up. 
Getting hungry.

The crowd heaves toward a single point reciting a dream.
Flailing words tripping over the air in a roller coaster of chaotic meaning.
Why? What? For Who? not me.
Seems like eating would be secondary to these ideas
To this crowd of big people.
They squeeze my hand tighter
I think because the words mean something to them.
But I can't stop thinking about cheese.

.

..

- Artwork by Dan Colen…
- mailed to Virginia -

Consider Conflict

They bother another,
each other.
Bodies bumping, skulls attacking - 

There is conflict on the street, and
in cars buses and trains,
schools homes and televisions - 

Conflict in our bones making stomachs tighten.
Some thrive. Others crumble.
Please help us endure the friction, please - 

Can we be like the bothering squirrels,
jabbing around outdoors,
never stopping too long for injury - 

Consider,
possess, then put aside - 
conflict.

.

..

- artwork by Sam McKinniss -
- mailed to North Carolina -

Everyone

Nobody cares
all the time
for that someone
we think about
all the time.
Who can we
care about
all the time
if we ourselves, in
fact, are careless
some of the time.
So we carry
on caring at times,
when needed or convenient.
Then somebody 
writes a thank you 
because we cared 
for their singular 
'all the time.'

Generations will read it,
solidifying your caring.
Still we know
nobody cares
all the time.

.

..

- artwork by Simone Leigh -
- mailed to South Carolina -

Between Routine

Awake, before daybreak.
Clean, brush and scrub like a machine.
Drive, just enough to arrive.
Work, eat, work, eat, work without missing a beat.
Drive, determined to get home alive.
Exercise, with no cries.
Eat, speaking with girls 1 & 2 - so sweet.
Animal, walking quite minimal.
Read, or write or TV to fertilize a seed.
Brush, usually in a rush.
Sleep, mostly quite deep.
Repeat, repeat repeat...

.

..

- Artwork by Mario Nigro -
- mailed to Georgia -

Disease of Despair

We blow our best intentions toward life
until a disease of despair causes a death of despair
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Like dogs chasing tails, constantly turning away rotates you to the beginning
despair, causing disease bounding toward death
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Listeners helping on hotlines, listening is sometimes enough
listeners at home too close to help, accidentally blind sometimes
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Systemic processes designed to fail minorities
they start leaning toward death, a death of despair
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Whisper strength into those bones
barely advancing until prepared to
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

As boiling milk forms a bubbly creamy top-layer
blurry becomes normal and constant, during
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Help does not arrive expectedly, promptly, enthusiastically
but a love may poke the tiniest window toward life, inside
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

Squash and mutilate that disease of despair
leaving a body and mind hurling away, from
drug and drink abuse, and suicide

.

..

- inspired by "Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century" by Ann Case and Angus Deaton -
- artwork by Wayne Thiebaud, “Large Sucker”, 1971
- mailed to Florida