Travel Poems


[Last week I took the ‘California Zephyr’ from Chicago. Zephyr means the west wind, a gentle breeze, or something transitory. It’s named after Zephyrus, the ancient greek god that is the western wind. And the time of the year is March, named after Mars, the God of War. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or not, that we ‘march’ to war. Anyway, my time in Boulder Colorado was the dance of both these spirits: a gentle breeze at war]


The 2-D land
transforms gracefully
into the third dimension
somewhere in
Western Illinois.


My heart goes out to you, Kewanee, IL.
Your tractor distribution center
each tractor, painted golden-rod
a little boy’s dream.
And the FedEx® distribution center spells
JOBS… for now.
An antique store, an old-fashioned ice cream bar,
you’re neither shabby nor rich, Kewanee.
A Mexican-American restaurant
both flags painted, side-by-side.
An indoor bridge that spans Main Street-
something to marvel at
Especially when you’re a boy
from an even smaller town who thinks
Kewanee is huge.
Out there is a philosophy major
who knows this town is desolate.
Will she leave before
it stamps her fate?


Early evening makes me depressed. The sun’s decided to go. My mind returns to childhood in Northern Illinois: the sun setting, dad coming home from work, kids at the baseball diamond. The growing quiet, the end of games. Worse than night, because the sun is still hanging around― but it won’t be. Like an animal confronted with death- a surge of vitality comes to everything: the last breeze of the day blows shredded plastic across a field until it’s caught in a rut.


A cross country team
jogging out of a cemetery
geese fly north


Country flowing
this way and that.


I read the handwriting
of Chinese calligraphy
and cannot understand a word.
But it looks sloppy, mocking
the way Shakespeare
wrote slang: with a mastery
the academics, orderly and reverent,
could not match.


Dark rocky Oolong
Gongfu, or ‘tea with skill’
In the back of a shop
A remote space
Separated by a wall
Of feeling
Low to the ground
A waterfall
And paper lights
From Target®


Young Socrates dons his new hat past
The homeless folk. They call him out.
He shoots back- logically- and loses his cool.
He walks away, ashamed
The sun shoves his shadow into the rushing water.
To swim he’s got to let go his wealth.


The furnace is making noise:
one long exhale that never stops.


An old wound re-opened.
I don’t want to hurt
them or me.


Ancestor spirits
Guide and protect me
So that I can carry It further
One day
Joining them
In that realm
Of spirit
And wisdom
And great calm
Guiding the next.

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