About the previous post

About the previous poem…

Walking home from work the other day, I really did count 16 taxis lined up waiting at a taxi stand where the usual number is 2 or 3. As I walked past the taxis, I noticed that all the people in the driver’s seats were men. A lot of people are out of work, and it seems that a popular alternative to unemployment is to become a taxi driver. I love taxis! They are a great service to the city resident. But the number of taxis in circulation has bloated far beyond rider demand, and they spend a lot of time driving around empty, or idling at taxi stands waiting for a fare.

In the USA, in the 1930s many families from Oklahoma and other states migrated westward in search of new opportunities and new livelihoods after their farms had failed. I was amazed to read a “documentary” about their lives that said “the women took in laundry, sewing, cooked for boarders, cared for the sick, but the men couldn’t find work”. I ask my readers, what is wrong with this sentence? And why are so many men sitting around in idling taxis?

Current statistics reported in newspapers (NY Times, Financial Times,…) show that women are faring better than men in terms of economic recovery in the current crisis.

Enough said.

Division of Labor

The explanation behind this poem will come in the next post!

Division of Labor

Sixteen taxis, waitin' in line,
I don't need one, walkin's fine.

They say there isn't work for all,
since the economy took that fall.

I say,

What work is that? Compared to those
Who mop the floors and iron clothes!

When crises come, it takes a man
to see no work where women can.

Beneath your dignity, you say?
Then wait in line another day!

The words he sang to me

I saw a banner on the street advertising a concert by a well-know Valencian singer-songwriter, Raimon. Every time I see his face or hear his name, I remember the first time I heard a beautiful song that he wrote using the words of the poet Ausiàs March. It’s called “Veles e Vents” (sails and winds). There is also a beautiful folk song in English “Four Strong Winds“. In Catalan, they divide the wind into 8, each direction with its own resonant name. I recommend listening to both these songs.

So on the day I saw this banner hanging above me, the first line for this poem began to roll through my head. Eventually, this is where it led…

The Words He Sang to Me

"Veles e vents", the words he sang to me. Words of a man long-married to the sea.

He tried to love me, but no chance of that. His foreign heart could not speak anything but praise of Her. Her scent, her taste, the way she caught the light.

He loved the rasp of coarse rope nets. "Her braids," he said, and smiled. "Some days she's angry, others calm, and someday I will lie so deep within her arms I'll not come back."

And that's the way it's always been with men who work the sea. They'll love you for a little while, but she gets Eternity.

His song had names for all the winds that blow across her face, and I have learned them all by heart. That much she can't erase.

Bird watching

I pass him every morning, and one day finally stopped to LOOK at him. I found his perfection moving, and at the same time was disturbed by these thoughts:

Wings raised

Wings raised, the noble predator
will never know release
(unless some cataclism come,
to set free every beast.)

Untried, the females of his kind,
no nest was ever his.
He guards a garden and a house,
for him, that’s all there is.

I wonder if he chafes within.
Can iron have a heart?
It’s my suspicion that he does.

How cruel of Vulcan’s art
to freeze him there on someone’s fence
before he could depart!

Hasta siempre

I stayed up late last night, letting Chavela sing to me. And made my peace with her departure, coming up with these words:

Hoy la noche es más negra.
Pero no da miedo.
Una voz de hollín me susurra
y guía mis pasos hacía el campo santo.

¡Mirad, cuántas velas!

Hasta siempre, Chavela.

María Isabel Anita Carmen de Jesús Vargas Lizano
April 17, 1919 – August 5, 2012

Unknown Disorder

One morning on the way to the office I saw a banner hanging from a lamp post that said: Unknown Disorder. It made me think of the way I am filled with poetry as I walk… and suddenly I was back in a highschool English class learning the names of figures of speech.

Unknown Disorder

I have an unknown disorder,
a type of poetry.
Susceptible to metaphor,
sometimes, synecdoche.

A simile can be an axe,
but with a sharper blade.
Who takes the part to mean the whole
by words may be betrayed.

A hand in marriage does not mean
a heart and soul for life.
Nor “silver sails all out of the west”
prove ships are just in sight.

The sweetest words need grains of salt;
Don’t take them literally.
Be on your guard for metaphor
and shun synecdoche!

A love affair with color

Whether it’s a watercolor or an iPad drawing, I find I can’t play favorites. No matter what I’m drawing I need ALL the colors.

A love affair with color

A love affair with color
will never leave you sad.
I’ve been with pink, I’ve been with green,
so many hues I’ve had!

Have an orgy mixing shades
but watch out for the grue.
That’s where some cultures see a green
where you and I see blue.

For logic is a butterfly,
a fuzzy one at that.
And all the options multiply,
the closer that you get.

A simple crystal bending light
will make a rainbow grow.
Don’t waste your life in black and white
if you would pleasure know!

Anyone curious about the word ‘grue’, see the works of Nelson Goodman, especially the “new riddle of induction”.
and my best regards to  W.B. Yeats and the Isla Vista underpass.


This one came to me one morning as I was flat on my back doing my just-out-of-the-shower daily stretch routine. So it started before I even made it to the sidewalk!


Right knee to breast, feel the strain.
Now, the left. The pain, again.
Right leg up, to point and flex.
Once, a dancer. Now, an ex- .

Lift both legs and circle feet,
first outside, and then in.
Clench your buttocks fifty times,
then do it all again.

Work against the gravity.
Envision strength and grace.
Not Hercules, but Sisyphus,
knows the task I face!

Old man with a cell phone (version 2)

With a nod to D.H. Lawrence……

Old man with a cell phone

The old man with a cell phone
and cufflinks on his sleeves
still tells his wife he loves her
each morning as he leaves.

He dresses like he’s off to work.
They both know that’s a lie.
(There hasn’t been a paycheck
since a year ago, July.)

He thinks of her as boring,
a cleaning tool at best.
His mistress has a PhD,
and looks great in a dress.

His wife’s at home, and busy too,
with the gardener in his shed.
He keeps it full of flowers,
but best of all’s the bed!