Monday, April 10, 2017


Lonely Beluga

Today I’m a whale left wondering
why luck never swims my way,
why the boats bobbing on the surface
sail by so fast
as if everything should be done in a hurry.
I left the pod when I was young,
the ocean so vast,
a liquid universe
where it’s easy enough to hide
unless you’re my size.
The good thing about being huge is
the sharks don’t bother biting
and the other fish cower in my streaking shadow.
Another advantage is I can sing with a full throat,
off-key or not,
and no one will complain.
If I take the time to listen,
the sound will boomerang back to me,
and once in a while it will even
sound beautiful,
not a trace of sadness
in any note.


A History of Slapping

Once I said something
I don’t remember
to a redheaded girl
who went to the same
Pentecostal church
and she slapped me
near the anteroom
where babies got baptized.
In junior high school,
a black girl, Janine Green,
slapped me for something I said
that I don’t remember,
slapped me hard enough
that my nose bled.
I’ve been slapped
by my mother
plenty of times.
I remember the
reasons for those,
but still don’t
understand why.


At the Psychiatric Ward

The ceiling is spackled cream,
ruddy like cottage cheese.
Nail heads in the wood paneling
resemble cigarette burns,
though the ones in the carpet are wider.
I haven’t spoken for sixteen
hours and twelve minutes.
The TV is making a deal with us,
a noise box meant to
barricade the verbal slaughter
coming from a room down the hall.
All of us are self-medicating
in one form or another.
We may or may not
live through this.
When a pheasant flies
into the picture window,
leaving a slur of blood on the glass,
no one comments or
checks to see if its dead.
Hours later, the attendants
show up for dinner.
Roasted and plucked and sitting
on a platter in the middle of the table,
it’s hard to recognize the bird,
or realize how only a short time
earlier it had been so colorful.



  1. Wow. You really do open a vein. Powerful, exquisite work, Len. I hope you put together a collection.

  2. thank you so much, Jane. I've got about 50 of these now and yes, I'm hoping to bundle them, though it's pretty dark stuff not a lot of publishers will be able to handle. I really appreciate your note and thanks again for reading.