Provocation (Dizain)

The thing that grated Grendel’s nerves the most,
What aggravated so severe his ire,
Was the thorough happiness of the host
Gathered on the benches set round the fire.
Like smoke, the laughter songs rose ever higher
And maddening mirth was monstrous in his ears.
He sought to feed the feasters darkened fears
And wrought bloody destruction in that place.
But son and dam in hidden, tree-laced mere
Cannot forever dismay Danish face.


What is a Dizain?


Ecclesiastes Moment

I distinctly remember
having what I still call
the “Ecclesiastes moment”––
when the realization hit:
all the hard work in school was for
all the hard work in college was for
all the hard work at work was for…
money? stuff? what?

I don’t begrudge the work
or the blessings through it
but (whether I thought it then
I don’t remember)
I think ambition needs
a recalibration.

I make more money
than I ever have in my life,
yet anger saps the joy
out of that life.
I work, yielding bread
by the sweat of my brow
(or, in my case, the tunneling
of my carpals, but, you know)
but why?

What if ambition
drove me to joy?
What if ambition
drove me to beauty?
What if ambition
drove me to delight?




In college I took a class
where we discussed
conspiracy theories
in history.
Some I’d heard of
as conspiracies before;
others I never suspected.
Lincoln’s assassination,
Pearl Harbor, and of course,
The problem with conspiracies
is that it requires silence
from people who know something.
How many people do you know
who can keep a secret?
A really, juicy one?
How many people
successfully avoid gossip?
How many times do we
successfully resist,
“Hey, did you hear about…”
The more we know,
the more we tell.
It’s who we are.

And yet.

There is one who knows
deeper, darker, juicier
secrets than any
sunglassed, dark-suited
conspiracy ever dreamed of.

Love covers a
of sins.




you see the big reveal
from a mile away.

the big reveal makes your
race and takes your breath away.

you know that something,
is about to happen, like when the
changes in the background.

when you see the big reveal
it’s a letdown.


when the big reveal comes,
echoes the world around.



I Can’t, I Just Can’t

There’s a paradox of emotions
watching a master ply his trade:
wonder, mixed with envy, all
cobbled together with frustration.
That person can do it.
I can’t, I just can’t.

Tommy Emmanuel can play guitar
better one-handed than I can
with both hands on my best day.
He mixes rhythm and melody together.
He can play two things at once.
I can’t, I just can’t.

All of these amazing writers churn out
songs and poetry of amazing quality.
Pithy, poignant, powerful poems,
the final products polished and pristine.
They can write good.
I can’t, I just can’t.

It’s true: I’m not Chet-Atkins-endorsed CGP
like Tommy Emmanuel.
It’s true: I’m not a published poet or produced lyricist.
My name is not on book covers or album liner notes.
But I’m not as bad as I used to be.
I’m not, I’m just not.