Kaddish for Karen Leys (1952-2018)


Its so strange to think
That you’re not there
In that little house on Salem Avenue
Sitting on the couch
Quietly reading fantasy novels on your Kindle
While Dad watches NCIS,
As if you’d always been there
And always would,
While I sit here across the mountains
Hunched over a notebook
Writing til my hand cramps
Trying to make sense of it all.

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We Cannot Look Away: Not another 17, not another One


This is a collaborative poem written in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in America. I’m grateful to have been including amongst this group of powerful poets – JWL

Just another day
just another town
bullet perforated backpacks
spilling loose-leaf lined paper, textbooks
onto blood stained sidewalks
helicopters hovering
to give us the birds eye view
I tried to avert my eyes
out of respect for the dead
the injured
but I could not look away
Christine Ray

Even though I should
Because I am ashamed
At the bullets that rain
At the bullet point pain
Etched in their faces, rivulets in their eyes
They were just children, stolen from their time
Not forgotten in these lines
But to their parents and loved ones
It’s a void they’ll never fill, and it shouldn’t
Lives shredded and ruined
17 times we’ve gotten the chance to do better
and for the 18th, we blew it
Just like those children who looked at their killer

Their killer is not Nikolas

The Killer is you
Devereaux Frazier

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The Night I Heard the News


For Karen S. Leys (1952-2018)

And then
You were gone.
A spark of anger
That I missed the chance
To see you one last time.
And then the reality…
Out into the night,
Cool air on my face,
Walking with no destination,
Thinking, processing the news.

Collapsing into the arms of family,
Gripped by siezures of grief.
You’ve gone
Where I cannot follow.
Gone, never to return.

They tell me you’ve gone
To a better place,
But what place could be better
Than one in which we’re together?



Time is Relative


The clock ticks
From morning til night.
One moment dawn light
Warms young faces,
Training wheels, and zoo trains.
The next, cold winter shadows
Fall and grow
Under the west setting sun.

Calendar pages fall away,
Torn, faded;
Yellowed by time,
Littering the ground
Like sun dried maple leaves
In October.

One by one,
Two by two,
Faces fade into twilight skies.
Passing away down trails
We cannot follow,
Until the day we do.


The painting pictured above is The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí.

Patterns and Dust

Passing through eternity,
Through the cycles of infinity.
Things grow and flourish,
Decay and die,
Each end a beginning,
Each beginning and end,
Sometimes the same end,
The same beginning.

Circles and cycles of history,
Repeating, rhyming:
Patterns in the fog,
Order in the chaos,
A lotus flower in the swamp.



Cold black blade
Burning blood red runes
Wisdom worms
Burrowing into tombs

The price of the blade
Is the blood that is spilled,
The victories all hollow
When all else is killed.



I’ve been rereading a few of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels (The Eternal Champion and Phoenix in Obsidian so far. I’ll be starting The Dragon in the Sword next) and this was the result

Laying Awake in the Darkness

I’ve felt old and ancient
Since I was 12 years old,
Worn out, road weary,
For reasons unexplained
Living in the Cleaver household
In an idyllic isolated Oregon valley.

It made me want to believe in reincarnation,
The only explanation for the
Spread thin butter feeling
That started in the 3rd grade
When I reasoned out
That death meant oblivion
Not fluffy clouds and angels,
Training myself not to think of it,
To fend off the icy black hole
Opening under my sternum,
Crushing everything within its event horizon.

I lay in bed, tears streaming cheeks,
meaninglesness pressing down; suffocating
I start to scream,
Pretending to have had a nightmare,
So my mother will come, hold, and console.
Unable to articulate the existential crisis
Of an 8 year old boy.


Reflections, Part I

There’s nothing left to say
There’s nothing left to feel

There’s no one left to save
There’s no one left to heal

There’s no reason left to cry
There’s nothing left to write

There’s no reason left to die
That’s really worth the fight.

4 January 1993, Gießen, Germany

This is another old piece from my files. It has a companion poem called Reflections, Part II.

Don’t Forget


The new iPhone X has
Dual 12 megapixel front facing cameras
That operate in unison to produce
Crisp lifelike photographs with
Bright vivid colors from across the spectrum
And true depth of focus.

But you will still die someday.



“Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say”
– Marcus Aurelius, translated by George Long

Life is short;
The Universe is forever:
An ocean swallowing
The teardrops of human existence,
Born a thousand eons
Before our earliest ancestors
Had drug themselves from
The primordial ooze.
So long ago that
Only God was there
To witness the blessed event.
Though, perhaps, even He
Is too young to recall the day.

A dozen millennia after
Our great-great-grandchildren
Have become dust
Blown on the solar winds,
It will still be here,
Waiting patiently
For its appointment with Death
At the other end of Eternity.

19 July 1999