Friday, May 10, 2019

Ashland Theater Festival: A Polyptych of Rubaiyat

Mother Road
If you can swear, then you can be a Joad,
a Mexican, or any other mode
of human being struggling in this world.
We’re all the same along the Mother Road.

Buy Ultra-Clutch! The hairspray that maintains
your follicles but not the ugly stains
of racism and body shaming that
still plague this world. Go dance for social gains!

As You Like It
Right from the start, an incoherence of voices,
the music, costumes, set, and casting choices—
none of it was as any of us liked,
and only when it’s done the crowd rejoices.

Between Two Knees
A slapstick massacre—this is the play
to go to if you think you can repay
horrific genocide with guilty laughter.
So long to all you white folks! Go away!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

After the Exhalation

In the space
between breaths
there is no world,
no poetry,
no need for either.
In that space
I pause,
at peace,
waiting to see
which will come first
to require the other.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Abecedarian Choir

A is for Alice who solos alone
B is for Basil a bass to the bone
C is for Chris and his cri de la coeur
D is for Dixie behind a closed door
E is for Elsie who lisps like an eel
F is for Flora who has all the feels
G is for George who’s a bit of a grunter
H is for Hal who halloos like a hunter
I is for Isabelle whose voice is a spell
J is for Justin who’s still just not well
K is for Katie who carries the top part
L is for Larry who catches the dropped parts
M is for Mark who marches in place
N is for Ned who nods to keep pace
O is for Olive who knows all of the songs
P is for Pleasance who just plays along
Q is for Quentin the quietest tenor
R is for Rhoda a rhythmic dissenter
S is for Sophie soprano at heart
T is for Tristan who’s twisting his part
U is for Ursula’s long ululations
V is for Vladimir’s blessed cessations
W is for Winifred’s winsome reprise
X is for Xander who tries not to sneeze
Y is for Yasmine who yells at the men
Z is for Zach who starts over again

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Wrong Notes: A Counting Rhyme

One is no problem—we all make mistakes.
Two still ain’t bad, but it gives me the shakes.
Three’s when it really starts getting less fun.
At four a soprano will call 9-1-1.
Five triggers worrisome heart palpitations,
and altos start doubling up their medications.
By six you’re reduced to hiding your face,
and once you hit seven, they make you a bass.
Eight makes an octave, but you’re off more than that.
Miss nine and the bank repossesses your cat.
At ten the conductor makes horrible scenes.
Eleven, it’s time to call in the marines.
But just miss a dozen, or anything higher,
and it’s bad news blues—you’re out of the choir!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

In Case of Fire

In case of fire, break glass.
(Hopefully it was full of water, and can douse the flames.)

In a case of wine, keep glasses intact.
(You’ll need them, unless you plan to drink it all yourself.)

In case of a water landing, find something to inflate.
(Note that the nearest hot air bag may be behind you.)

In case of discrimination, call the police.
(They will have more criminals sent over immediately.)

In case of bad weather, remain indoors.
(It will leave once it realizes no one wants to play with it.)

In case of a tie, carefully extract each player, one limb at a time.
(If not playing Twister, have them review the rules.)

In case of a necktie, find another job.
(Preferably one with a more casual dress code.)

In case of disaster, re-aster as soon as possible.
(Seeds may be started indoors and planted outside after the last frost.)

In case of hyperbole, panic.
(There is literally nothing you can do and we’re all going to die.)

In the majority of cases, the minority is outnumbered.
(But most of the time that doesn’t happen very often.)

Friday, April 26, 2019


At the other end
of my headphones
and the world,
I see a small child in a forest.
Curled around his Walkman,
he doesn’t hear the rain
falling in two stages,
sheeting onto the tree canopy,
pillowing in larger drops
onto his scant roof,
as he falls asleep listening
to the sound of the traffic
on El Camino Real.

Together we listen
for the same thing:
something we are
hidden within
something we are not.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Tenor Exploring New Territory

The cold has cracked the fence of the low A,
the fence I used to peer through, wondering what
the lands beyond were like. The gap is wide
enough to enter—I hardly notice the edges—
and the soft earth of A-flat welcomes me.
Without thinking, I start to run, downhill,
rolling the last few yards and sprawling out
on a cool, grass-covered G-natural.
The sun is shining here, glinting off
the flakes of F-sharps in the rocks along
a river bank. On rising, I look across,
wade through, and strike out perpendicular,
curious now how far from home I’ll get
before the weather changes. After a time,
the grass gives way to rocks, then dust, and then
the great golden expanse of F. Strangely,
I walk the desert without the feel of heat,
neither the sun nor sand sharp upon
my bare head, bare feet, walking into dusk,
the dark of E-natural slowly wrapping
around me like a cloak. I make my camp
beneath a towering rock pillar of
pure E-flat, cool, solid, and comforting.
It’s far enough for now. In the morning
I will climb my deeply towering friend and look
out over the miles towards the plains of D,
look back to home. I will sing a traveling song
of exploration and of homecoming.
My voice will fill either the sky or the ground,
and I will follow it.