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

In Plain Sight

Don't hide
   like a squirrel watching a dog from a tree
      or best intentions for a new lover Jamie.

Search riddles
   to bless a beverage shared with humans and friends
      or to make some sense when ignorance must end.

Do work
   with a vengeance like farmers who own no land
      or when new jobs arrive under fresh new command.

Leave slowly
   like critics savoring scintillating art
      or lovers a-grumble refusing to fall apart.

Play youthfully
   letting that kid inside lead with the heart sometime
      and laughing easy wholeheartedly without design.

Don't hide
   in times of cold or heat or day or night
      and say what you know and dream what you might.



- artwork by Prince Gyasi -
- mailed to Alabama -

The Prey

Some days ago we cried
Making tears flow while laughing at... that

Some hours ago we laughed
Crying tears for absurdities by governments

Squirrels bury the possession they most love, nuts
People cherish an idea which they've repeated forever

The sun provides for life and can scorch earth in an instant
Teenagers desire autonomy and at any moment ask for anything

This planet contains beauty which can rage unexpectedly
Finding truth depends on wit during the constant smearing of ideas



- artwork by Francis Bacon… -
- mailed to Louisiana -

Conflict and Kindness

we balance high above the angry river 
on a tightrope 
clenching anxiety
here, focus will be keenest

but over there 
are the toys, joys, sorrows, creatures, chosen ideas;
our stuff

that tightrope 
is equal parts pathway forward and anxiety instigator to
our stuff

we must manage, we must balance
Conflict and Kindness
nobody else will do this
step in and pursue



- artwork by Olafur Eliasson -
- mailed to Arkansas -


People expire
lose breath lose pulse lose warmth
People expire
finished or in stride, unexpectedly or anticipated
People expire
working, eating, sleeping, out and inside
People expire
nobody knows, then everyone knows
People expire
leaving love, leaving life, leaving legacy
People expire
brightly, painfully, hauntedly, ready
People expire
leaving laughter after grief, for those unexpired
They expire
and everyone measures lives differently
He expired
after enabling a mountain of curiosities to flourish

after Paul Allen ('53 - '18)



- artwork by Spencer Sweeney -
- mailed to Wyoming -

Ease renga

Born lucky, privileged
to pursue a life of ease.
Embrace the unlucky.

Recite those murky struggles
often to change your known world.

Born into struggle.
An unknown battle through youth.
Precious few escape.

Resolve to break systemic
control by the privileged many.

The ease of the whites
to turn away from black pain
produces pained land.

Decide to delete divides.
Devote muscle for race unity.



- artwork by Roy Lichtenstein, “Haystack” -
- mailed to Idaho -

A Grazing Gaze

That beating weight
of a toddler
Lying chest to chest upon a chest
Breathing steady sleep

Awakens extreme calmness
in both bodies
A package no other soul penetrates
until disturbed 

Watching a trance deepen
surrounded by dream
Witnessing the opposite of hysteria
A distress-free frenzy-less zone

Revered and envied
by parents of teenagers
And those fiercely observant
notice the loveliest of human conditions



- artwork by Y.Z. Kami -
- mailed to Washington -


So far it doubles the disease
tripling again again the life of this pain
It hurts holding heaven so close
when touching red black embers from hell
Break the brain 
to forget the time after the doubling time
Blow long   so hard   by and by 
until it's time to goodbye
Close, yet still doubling past my eye
the promise of never again



- artwork by Karine Laval -
- mailed to Texas -



Mom your stride is too long. 
I cannot keep up. 
Dad slows his step,
paying attention to me,
but then speeds on until
he pays attention again. 

We hold hands when approaching colored lights. 
I try to count how many steps equal one of his. 
Usually more than 3, sometimes 2. 
It’s hard to figure. 

I can do 2 for 1 Mom stride, when we first leave.
Then it gets crazy. I half run, walk, skip twice to 
keep up. I keep trying to count.
We step down a curb where Mom will
toe walk even faster. Yup, her heals won’t even 
touch the ground until we step up the curb again. 
Once I tried giant strides when Mom was toe walking. 
It kinda worked but my shoulder got sore. 

I grew. My stride grew too. 
Now Mom and Dad walk with wheelchairs.
They never ask to slow when I push them. 
I wonder if they ever count.



- mailed to Oklahoma -