Being ruthless at chess,
clearing the checkered field
of battle leads to victory
and all the people and horses
return unharmed for the next match.

Being ruthless at football,
playing to injure your opponent
only leads to escalating violence,
carried off on a stretcher
sometimes never to play again.

Being ruthless at politics,
behaving at though it’s a game,
a tribal Armageddon where your rivals
are evil instead of merely wrong,
is how we’ve fallen into this mess.

Politics is not war nor a horse race,
despite the television news,
it’s how we organize society,
it’s about win-win solutions,
it’s why the thoughtful tend to lose.

(From today’s Living Poetry prompt.)

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That Uncle is Coming to Thanksgiving


That Uncle is Coming to Thanksgiving

He used to keep his racist,
sexist, homophobic opinions
to himself but he discovered
the internet and now believes
it’s okay to give full voice
to whatever his scattered friends
in their white privileged bubbles
are saying about the Fags and Darkies.

We still love and respect our crazy uncle
but we have been too tolerant, too indulgent,
and while we can’t change his mind with logic
or data we need to remind him that most Americans,
despite the results of the last election,
are embarrassed by his ignorance.
So if we all vote on Election Day,
we can have a peaceful Thanksgiving.

(If any of my uncles are wondering, I’m referring to my other uncles.)

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We the People

It used to be that Labor Day was when campaigns began so things might get a little more political around here.


We the People

If you believe in Democracy,
you should register to vote.

If you think you’re registered to vote,
you should double-check.

If you don’t know where to vote,
you should find out.

If you feel like voting doesn’t matter,
you should vote anyway.

If you assume all politicians are crooks,
you should vote them out.

So if you agree with Thomas Jefferson,
that governments derive their powers
from the consent of the governed,
you must vote.

And if you stand with Abraham Lincoln
that government is of the people,
by the people and for the people,
then you absolutely have to vote.

Because if you don’t vote,
you’re the problem
with Democracy.

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My Nepenthe

bottle-1546720-639x958WordPress let me know recently that it’s been five years since I started this blog. Happy birthday to me, I suppose. Since I first started blogging to help promote my first book, Wednesday Night Regular, here’s one of the poems found within. It’s one of my favorites and just as true today as it was five years ago.

My Nepenthe

Dying from thirst and memory
She offers me a smile
A cool smooth cyan liquid
In a clear goblet

Fascinating it dances with light
Twirls in my hand relaxing
Sorrow falling away
Like clothes in sweltering summer

Into her glittering pools I dive
To drown in sweet distraction
Why surface to breathe poison
When she heals as my nepenthe


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In Praise of Mushy Peas

The first draft of this poem was written at the Chelsea Pensioner pub back in June during my vacation in London.


In Praise of Mushy Peas

Green as spring
Birthed in the garden
Plucked by man
Bred for the task
Popped from their womb
Dropped in the boil
Unified as a paste
Enriching a taste
Worthy of Persephone


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Poetry Reading and Prizes

12743563_10156510847585655_6692687021661795776_nThis quickly approaching Sunday afternoon at 2pm, I’ll be one of the featured readers performing at McIntyre’s Books as part of the North Carolina Poetry Society Reading in Fearrington Village. I won’t just be reading from my latest book, Milkshakes and Chilidogs, I’ll also be offering prizes to the bravest and brainiest members of my audience. Be there and be square!

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The Sorting Hat

We had a Sorting Hat at the Harry Potter workshop Saturday and I wrote down what it whispered in my ear when I put it on. Try to remember what you heard and post in the comments below. We’ll be doing another Potter Poetry Workshop in the autumn.

20180714_131212The Sorting Hat

This one needs focus–
mind always flying
like a magpie
to the next shiny
to collect and catalog.

Too smart for his own good,
too much sarcasm,
so many flaws,
he belongs in House Ravenclaw.

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Magical Poetry

20180622_171235A few months ago, I received an owl from Hogwarts. Secrecy being what it is, I could not reveal the true reason for my recent trip to Britain until now.

I have been recalled to my position as Poetics Master after an extended sabbatical in the New World. I objected to the recall, having built a comfy little life here, and after prolonged negotiation was able to come to an arrangement where I can remain in Hillsborough, teaching my classes remotely using a combination of bi-location and VoIP.

As part of the arrangement, this Saturday afternoon at the Read With Me bookshop in downtown Raleigh, I’ll be holding a special poetry workshop for young witches and wizards. Since poems are simply magical spells cast in the mind of the reader, we’ll learn how to better construct these spells to express and evoke powerful emotions.

If you know any aspiring students who would like practical instruction in the magical art of poetry, they should register at Read With Me. Send an owl or visit their website.

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Mused: Portrait in Violet

MusedCurrentIssue3While I was in London, I was a little distracted so I missed that my poem Portrait in Violet had been accepted and published in Mused – the BellaOnline Literary Review. I wrote this poem on April 2nd as part of the 2018 Poem-a-Day Challenge when prompted to write a portrait poem.

I think this is the quickest turnaround for me between composition and publication.


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Blue Plaques


This will be my last post from London. One of the reasons I decided to come here and explore the city was because of the history. In addition to the usual statues and monuments, there are almost a thousand little blue plaques scattered around the city marking the places important events occurred or important people lived. I’m sure I noticed at least a couple every day on my adventures and most of them I had no idea who or what was being commemorated.

20180628_115510For example, today I visited the homes of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot and on the way I ran into the house where Sir Charles Stanford lived. I had to look him up on my phone before I realized that I’d heard some of his compositions on the classical music channel I listen to most mornings.

20180628_125907I had to ask a helpful shopkeeper where to find Mr. Pound’s house. It seemed like she’d been asked before. The street he lived on is very short and it looks like there’s an apartment building now with his street number. Instead his front door was hidden off a little alleyway. Seemed like a nice enough place, none the less.

The apartment where T. S. Eliot lived his final years and died was easier to find. From what I read online, his widow continued living there until her death in 2012. I think it’s safe to assume there’s someone else living there now. I’d pay a premium to live in the same apartment as T. S. Eliot!

20180621_181352Earlier this week I also found a blue plaque for the place Gandhi lived while he studied law in England. He has at least two statues in London, one in Parliament Square Garden, a nice contrast to the rest of the admirals and generals there.

I’ve had a lot of fun these past couple of weeks but it’s time to get back home. I wonder if they’ll let me back into the country…



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