& Bless: Poems

I’m afraid to say anything or nothing, I’m white & unalterably broken.


A story about what changes and what remains the same, in just six words.

A Dress Rehearsal for the Apocalypse

History howls for direction so I remind him how the hero was lost.

A Farmer’s Life: Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia

For my vacation last summer, I visited the Bateer family in Xiwuqi.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Lebanese Feast

Lebanon’s dreams of a homeland were fading with every rocket launch.

A Marriage Contract

They went to pray for the dead. It was important to shed some tears.

A Master at Work

Man is always beginning everything anew, even in his own life.

A Model Prisoner

A New National Anthem

I’ve never cared for the National Anthem. It’s not a good song.

A Partial History of Lost Causes

Chess was a humiliation that hung over him like a leper’s bell.

A Portion of Your Loveliness

My daughter’s favorite game is Holocaust. She’s quite inventive.

A Weary Desperado

I was convinced she’d be back in the morning, like the sun.

A Writer’s Beginnings

I was writing copy for cheapo furniture for a crummy ad agency.

Addendum and Other Poems

The animals are dying. All the beautiful women are dying too.

Adventures of a Would-Be Filmmaker

Since I am in my seventies, it is now or never, and I know it.

After Noguchi and Other Poems

Crows rasp from branches, scatter debris across unfinished plots.

After Saddam

He said he had come back to the prison because it was home.

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.

Alva Watches the Previous President Fly Away

Alva knows the storm is coming. The ground is falling away.


I stand within her walls with not a shred of terror, not a word of jeer.

America, I Do Not Call Your Name Without Hope

Lost land, this is a song for the scars on your back, for your blistered feet.

American Paradoxes

I recoil from the certitude that religion can give a person; it’s horrific.

American Standard Version

Refuge, Your church is often a house. Your Word is a house.

Animals & Instruments

His fingers traveling through these notes can assuage, I think, all pain.

Another Christmas

‘Isn’t this great?’ she said. ‘A bit of peace for ourselves?’ ‘No one could go into a cafe on their own on Christmas Day.’


I tried mightily, but no longer could I ladle those ancient words into the air.

Ash Heap of History: June 9, 1982

There was a glint of cold red light out there, on the other shore of the lake.


To resist him, I danced how he wanted, but made a mockery of it.

At Sea

I only feel that here, only here, in this one place, a small rise.