y = √x

Though you believe your past a great decline
That terminates at this, your great nadir,
It seems to me to be more of a line
That, slopeless, brought you from back then to here.

Now lies ahead a consequential choice:
To listen to your maudlin narrative
And carry forward, as that inner voice
Decrees, on its flat-line imperative,

Or challenge your position in the swale
And set out on a great, triumphant arc
That rises mirror to the sordid tale
That, up to now, you’ve whispered in the dark.

One path imagined, counter to its twin
That, rooted in the real, must surely win.



You tip it back and drain out all the wine,
Then say, “Why is there nothing in my cup?”
You tell the empty vessel to fill up
And curse it for a dullard and a swine.


“Want to talk after work?” I texted.
“Sure” was your reply.
No punctuation.
We who know what commas are about,
who love that English can say things with a granularity
that no other language can achieve,
who teach our daughters that language must be defended
against all comers,

The word you said was unimportant,
the mark you omitted an essay of dismissal.

You broke a sacred trust,
and from now on,
I will guard my periods against you,
withhold semicolons,
maybe forget to close a parenthesis.
I cannot offer you my exclamations and interrogatives.
All we have left now are the banalities of
“u”, “i”, and “r”


Strange Trip

“Give up your possessions and follow me,” he said,
and I was awed at his audacity.
He lived on the kindness of others –
he and the dozen men who followed him,
plus whoever else was hanging around.
The logistics of the whole thing
were too damn boring to record,
but it sure seemed like important work.

I followed him, too.
He didn’t spend much time with me;
he was a busy guy, and only a few
of his very
friends merited the attention.
That was fine.
I was part of something important,
and it was really about the movement,
not the person, right?

“I am the way,” he said.
Okay, so maybe it was about the person.
That was fine. The onus was on me
to be open to him, not the other way around.
He was the one doing all the work,
what with the speeches and the loaves
and fish (and all the other stuff that
the audience at that meetup
brought and shared around,
that little logistical detail
apparently not too boring to record,
but really, the important thing was that
he was working the cafeteria line, too,
or at least that he handled the food).

“Kick the dust of this shithole off your sandals,”
he groused,
throwing a gesture at the place
that had cast him and his retinue out.
How dare the local inns hike their rates
whenever he brought his holy message
to their dark little towns?
Peter’s purse was hanging lighter and lighter;
Matthew still refused to declare
just how much liquidity he had available
that hadn’t been given up already,
one meal, one room at a time
in this great spiritual journey.
The unofficial treasurer
of the anointed one’s hiking club
was immune to that sort of inquiry.

“It is not right to take the children’s bread
and toss it to the dogs,” he said to the woman
who knelt before him,
begging for her daughter’s life.
I’m assured that, whatever he said in Aramaic,
the Greek meant “pet dog”,
not “disgusting, shit-licking cur”,
though the two words were similar.
So great was her love for her daughter
that she humiliated herself beneath his dismissive eyes,
saying that even the dogs fed on the crumbs that fell
from the master’s table.
He got a kick out of that,
patted her on her damn head.

I hope she and her daughter are well and happy now.
I kicked the dust off my sandals
and walked out the door.