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The ideals behind the movement March 10, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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When I was twenty I wasn’t interested in the environment,

I was interested in girls who believed it was important.

If you thought I was looking to change the world from the neck up

then you’ve never understood the ideals behind the movement.


Global warming has a whole new meaning sharing a sleeping bag

in the shade of a Joshua tree on an unforgettable April evening.

Often I think I could leave Thousand Palms listening to Electric Flagg

driving my seventy-four Mercury Comet, windows down, and singing.


Maybe ten years later I was in Cleveland when Erie was on fire.

At first I was amused, observing, Marlboro hanging from my mouth.

I moved to the banks of the Mississippi and the situation was dire,

but I shook it off, bought a bottle of Jack and took the first bus south.


New Orleans is under water with or without levees and raised tombs

so I moved along, Biloxi, Mobile, Pensacola, ending up in Dunedin.

With the debris floating in from the Gulf, it was like opening old wounds

and I began to reconsider what I knew about women, life and sin.


It began as a twelve-step program to reorient my heart and soul.

First it was recycling then the green grocer and no smoking or drinking.

There was cold turkey and hot baths attempting to achieve an afterglow.

Cleansing myself as if I could remake my past and stop from sinking.


There was a long summer night in Key West when it came to me

this was time to break from my past and grasp a long forgotten dream.

I didn’t want to drop into parody, someone in the mirror I hated to see;

I orphaned my shamelessness and abandoned my ill-begotten schemes.


We are told we can get right with God by loving the trees;

taking our stewardship of the land seriously, without guile.

In that moment I may have seen what the Almighty sees

embracing animals, rivers and mountains with grace and style.


This selfish man is working a food co-op and raising an urban garden,

working out his salvation with his heart and hands instead of his head.

If you think I am looking to change the world then I beg your pardon;

you’ve never understood the ideals behind the movement, like I said.


The whiskey and weed help me forget what I can never forget March 6, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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The revenuers come and took my money,

smashed my still in my little house behind the barn.

Someone ratted me out but there’s more stashed elsewhere.

I’ll let em feel good for today cause I know they’ll come back another time.


I fly my confederate flag and my black neighbor gives it no mind.

“Heritage Not Hate” emblazoned on the back window of my seventy-nine Ford F-150.

I got an Asian buddy who’ll smoke pot with me

and he has a connection for some bad ass weed

might be Vietnamese or Cambodian cause I remember it from the war.

I served there and now I’m being served the best stuff on earth

and here’s a guy from over there, only nineteen,

and a lifetime ago for me, sharing his bounty real care-free.


The whiskey and weed help me forget what I can never forget.


When I work, I do construction, always good with my hands,

I just can’t keep two oars in the water look enough to get somewhere.

A wise-ass will provoke me or my boss will get on me for being late

and I walk away, cause I don’t cotton to folks who like splittin hairs.


I’m not much of a fisherman, don’t have that kind of patience;

but, I have waited hours in a deer stand in sub-freezing cold.

There’s no accountin for taste or sense or lackin of it.

I don’t have much of a poker face so I tend to flip my cards and fold.


The whiskey and weed help me forget what I can never forget.

Evaporate… February 23, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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You were wearing a white satin dress, sleeveless,


You didn’t expect me at this opening of “Hamilton”

but you didn’t seem surprised to see me.

Smiling, relaxed, eyes alert,

your long dark hair perfect, like I had never seen it before.

I offered my right hand and you accepted it tenderly,

like an old friend, and just as tenderly, let it go.

It’s only a dream, a vision, a shock to the system,

that wakes you and you immediately wonder

why was it so real? How could it be three dimensional?

And how could it evaporate as quickly as if it were never there?

I’m pouring hydrogen peroxide on an open wound

with stitches popping and blood beginning to seep,

at first slowly, then steady, followed by a flow.

I began to hear Ira Glass on “This American Life”

and it is strange since I’d only heard the show promos.

While I rarely listen to public radio I could imagine it.

As I imagine Chicago the way I want it to be, clean

and how the Mayors Daley kept things in line.

It’s a dream, a vision, a drain from my brain,

making me wake and I immediately wonder

can it be real? How is it three dimensional?

And why did it evaporate as if it were never there?

Do I hear “no”? February 19, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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When I listen, do I hear “no”?

Is it a radical concept I haven’t grasped?

Or is it like a shovel stuck in the snow,

abandoned, with no future, no past?

I’ve heard the hiring managers say no

And I don’t believe it means “later”;

It means this workplace will overflow

unable to contain my image over-inflator.

When you matter-of-factly say no,

is my request too insignificant?

Or should I simply bask in its afterglow

And acknowledge you won’t, or you can’t?

I am not put off by being told no.

Being misunderstood is soda in my whiskey.

Like a polar bear on an ice flow.

I know I’m there, you just can’t see me.

Who would? February 8, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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Candy stuck to Formica,

like it had been there a long time,

but once a house is deserted, unless documents exist,

how can you know? Does it matter who built with Formica,

who left the hard candy in such a hurry, carelessly?

Funny, the floor isn’t sticky, just dusty, some dust bunnies

and cobwebs, spiders shuttling back and forth from

cabinet to floor, never knowing their cousins up by the ceiling

doing the exact same thing in an exact opposite direction.

There is no smell of food or mold, like everything was taken

or nothing was here to begin with, and the light seems to have to

force its way through the dingy windows, half covered by shades.

So whoever was here didn’t dislike the light, maybe they welcomed it,

but when they left it didn’t occur to them to pull the shades.

They had no reason to be afraid of robbers, gave no thought to it,

because they were sure to be back, they thought, so they didn’t bother.

Who would?

Looking out the kitchen window, facing the backyard, the swing

is intact, the plastic toys, plastic wading pool, plastic stuff,

tells me there were young children here, and maybe girls,

no sign of GI Joe or super-hero figurines, probably girls.

The color on the plastic had faded some so if they left on their own

it was either in the Spring or early summer and it seemed

they believed they would be back, not at some point in the future,

they would be back that afternoon, back for supper, back for bed.

A child doesn’t purposefully leave her favorite toys out, just out like that,

unless they believed they’d be back, no reason to put them away,

Who would?

So this is what goes through the detective’s mind as he sorts out things.

He doesn’t know the lifestyle or particulars at the outset but he expects,

no, demands, that he get to the bottom of this…this apparent injustice.

Then we become an audience to his procedure,

from accumulated wisdom from TV news and cop shows.

We know why he’d bother to grapple with this, we couldn’t,

Who would?

A dream of living by the Salton Sea January 29, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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“Tell me when,” she said with a wink,

“We can lose the vodka, forget the drink,”

nodding toward her bedroom with soft eyes.

But I was thinking burger, Coke and fries.

She could have shrugged off my faux pas

instead of saying “You got a lot of balls.”

Then she laughed like it was par for the course

and I thought to myself, consider the source.

Someone told her early on I had relationship issues,

that she should have plenty of eye drops and tissues.

She denied it, wrote it off to jealous friends.

I caught her off the bounce, at her wit’s ends.

“Why don’t we play tennis or jog Lincoln Park?”

she urged me on Saturday mornings while it was still dark.

I could have rolled over, pulled the blanket over my head,

but I’d get up, shake myself awake and smile instead.

She tolerated my alumni coffee cups, me SEC, she Big Ten;

even my small college Master’s, hers from Michigan.

Never a note of condescension in her actions, in her tone;

and I knew we were soul mates down in my bones.

In Spring we’d sit outside a Starbucks and she’d smoke a cigarillo.

I might have feigned a frown but she put up with my brass armadillo.

“I won it in a poker game in Dallas,” she knew the story well.

“It’s a heavy piece, could be used as a weapon, you can never tell.”

We could have visited Wrigley Field every day for the ambiance,

then the Cubs started winning and, like everyone, we fell into a trance.

We celebrated a World Series victory and yelled at the parade

I smuggled Jack and Coke and she brought gin and lemonade.

So, I could ruminate all night about when and how she left me,

chasing an elusive dream of living by the Salton Sea,

but life goes on, no river of tears or recriminations cover the facts.

Often when love is staring straight at you it’s stabbing you in the back.

Fresh mojita in hand January 14, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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The background music was faint

while the ocean tumbled and rolled

overtaking the sand before receding

but I could swear it was playing “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

I wasn’t sure about the mood it was supposed to set but I smiled

and surveyed Marco Island’s beach expanse,

at points empty and at others clustered with people

some with children chased by harried parents

and chastised by doting grandparents.

It’s not often I get here, to relax in a cabana, fresh mojita in hand,

no smartphone to intrude, no tablet to distract me.

Just sound of wind and surf and I have come to understand

and appreciate those who are beckoned by its call —

flocking here, or Key West, or St. Pete Beach.

It’s a noisy peacefulness. It allows you to set aside,

if only for a few hours, whatever is pulling you back to your world.

From this spot, the phone calls and clients can wait,

and the email box can stack up like planes waiting to land at O’Hare,

but they will wait and I will get to them in due time.

Just not today. Just not today.

Of what was and what might have been January 2, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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We don’t take alleys anymore.

We stick to well-lit streets

and avoid underpasses and tunnels.

Those well-traveled paths were second nature

to every kid in the neighborhood.

Today, as adults, we know better —

Other days and other ways, I’ve heard it said —

But I never believed I’d see it in my lifetime.

It’s like a death in the family.

Once friendly streets now dangerous, blood-stained,

carelessly littered, a landscape of burned out bungalows:

That one where the Wilsons lived; over there, Sean’s home;

And, there, Billy’s, where we spent hours playing stick ball,

sandlot football and climbed to the shade of his tree house.

Today the house is leveled, and the yard is dirt and broken glass.

There is no hope of urban renewal, no rebuilding will be done.

I try to convince myself that there was nothing I could do about it,

that, over the arc of thirty years, I was not endowed with money

or political power to effect a change and I left it for a warm climate.

Yet, the visits are a reminder of what was and what might have been

and what will never be given the culture and the times.

I drive in my rented car, half in fear, half in awe

of what I’m witnessing and what I’m imagining:

Neat brick homes, well-manicured yards and friends beckoning to play.

If I said the place had ambience December 31, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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If I said the place had ambience

you might envision low lights and the musing of a nylon-string guitarist in the corner

fighting the light chatter and constant movement of wait staff detracting from his talent.

If I said the place had ambience

you might see a twenty-thousand-seat arena typically used for hockey games

with acoustics making the sound indiscernible as your favorite band ignores the obvious.

If I said the place had ambience

would you think of a smoke-filled room where the talk is loud and abusive?

Or, are there too few neighborhood bars, stifled by no smoking laws to consider it?

If I said the place had ambience

could it be like a ski lodge with roaring fireplace and walls festooned with trophy game?

Would it be hot cocoa, dry martinis or craft beer as you settle into your soft leather couch?

If I said the place had ambience

you might envision your own living room with the grace and comfort it affords

along with light conversation with your lover as “Love, Actually” drones on Netflix.

If I said the place had ambience, what comes to your mind? Where does your heart wander?

There is no stopping time December 30, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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There is no stopping time; no pregnant pause granted.

I can hear the birds singing even in late December

for the weather fools them and with no capacity to remember,

they will vigorously repeat what they have ranted.

And Spring is nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard,

but no one is looking for it because no one cares.

Their holiday has left them with full guts and empty stares

and they can’t hear a single song from any bird.

What of the work that lies ahead in the new year?

Passing entertainment has pushed that thought aside.

Yet, they have found nothing of the sacred to abide

And they wonder why they face the coming month with fear.

“Leave it for tomorrow”, I heard it casually said.

I understand living for the present and giving all to today.

There’s no guarantee of tomorrow with its debts to pay

And someone remarked, “They can’t collect from me when I’m dead!”

Supposing I take this life too seriously, too intensely,

And my passion runs rough-shod over my common sense.

How would I gather my well-deserved recompense?

If I didn’t, would it bother me immensely?

I have turned off the television and left the radio alone.

It has been so long since I was reacquainted with quiet —

my mind is a battlefield, preparing for the next riot,

but I’d prefer so much to forget it all and go home.