Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poem #16-2011 A Promise Kept

A Promise Kept
          for Cindy but not for Bob

I wrote a poem once. and it was a good poem
as I recall
but I don’t know where it went at all
I mean – not where the paper I wrote it on went
(Hell, I’m sure it went the way of my baseball cards – unmercifully bent)
I mean
          where did that passion go?

Is it gone forever?
For. Ever.

One summer
Between schooling
A promise made
A promise kept: a poem each day

Hand-delivered first day back
         must have been 90 or so:June-July-August

My pay a thank you
and seeing her walk down the hall holding hands with my mortal enemy
          poetless soul-less blond hunk of fiery loin-grinding nemesis

didn’t keep a copy (pre-Xerox)
never saw them again


Once – lame class reunion
didn’t have the balls to ask

I rather think that good poem was in that batch
and now it’s in her
but tomorrow it will be in me again
This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poem #15-2011 The Artist

The Artist

Loneliness would be

a vase sits
but for a
dried-up paintbrush
you once used
to create me
from where
I hadn’t been

I miss your hands

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poem #14-2011 Family Truth

Family Truth

Some of the time – not nearly enough -
I bite the tongue of nurture.

I disavow mother’s acerbic conditioning,
I reframe father’s dour aphorisms about growing old being “bad business,” and
I pretend brother actually saw me.

I rely on surrogate family:
Some are flesh-and-blood,
but most are images conjured from eternal words
by inspirational authors dead and alive.

Embracing the latter,
I unleash the tongue of truth.

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poem #13-2011 Anger


I am an angry, angry man.
But you have no right, she says
(cue Pollyanna list of “blessings”).
What she does not see,
what you do not see,
what I only feel
has no name. It sleeps in
cold gray solemnity
but burns to life with
each bell tolled with
each softness violated with
each mad injustice
reaped in damnable misery for
sake of
the state for
the family for
the business for
the earth

Its perpetuation
is my anger
is my
is . . . .

I am anger.

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poem #12-2011: The Rudder and the Rock

The Rudder and the Rock
   for Crystal

       He who will not answer to the rudder
           will answer to the rock.
              -Cornish proverb

I am not completely sure
if you are my rudder
or my rock

until I wrote these words
I had not made the connection
between this
        a favorite inscription
        (on the Forum building in Harrisburg)
and your (thankfully)
lasting admiralty over my soul

A sailor might disagree
with my conclusions

But I think you are
sometimes one
sometimes a little of both
               and sometimes neither as fits the weather

I accept your steerage—
what little is possible with a nearly scuppered old craft like me

and I do fear the rock in you
that it might crush me
or keep me lashed tight to pier
        and so be ravaged by some pending gale
or worse:      that I might not keep its steady anchor

have gone on to new commissions
but I’m hoping you’ll
stay on for the whole voyage (even though I am a
     1955 wooden-hulled inboard –
     maintenance required)

Between us we know
both rudder and rock
sufficient to weather
each looming storm
every sun-drenched span

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poem #11-2011: Were It Today

Were It Today

I remember your musky sweet smell
and cannot think of any possible
way to make that sound romantic

You colored your hair
very dark against your creamy white skin

Back then, that made you a “slut”
Were it today, no one would notice

My friends did not support my choice in you
Regrettably, I succumbed to their smallness
and not to your sweet passion

I’ve since learned to resist the web of others,
learned to spin my own destiny

Were it today
I might be smelling you on
the pillow beside me
this cold sad morning

Were it today

This poem contributed to dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jack's Ghost: A Kerouac Poem by Rick Dale


I trippled down Adler –
Adler, you know, Kerouac Alley
San Fran, between Vesuvio’s and
City Lights, mecca for a beat –
Anyway I was trippling, man
(if that makes any sense
– that’s two p’s by the way)
and it’s the only
word can describe walking
where my heroes walked
and wrote and drank and yelled
and all the rest

Wow! It made me high just being there
And of course I was fantasizing about seeing Jack
hanging around, maybe leaning up against
the brick wall mural outside the bar
sketching in a notepad
like it was 1947
wearing a flannel shirt, work pants, black railroad shoes
Yair! (That’s beat for an emphatic “Yes”)

But the alley was empty
except for some tourists taking pictures
of each other and I ended up sitting on the floor
upstairs in City Lights
cross-legged and
reading Mexico City Blues (again)
and just about the 103rd chorus
I heard a sexy gone voice behind me
whisper a breathy "Who’s your favorite?"

Without looking to see my angel in waiting
I wrote "Kerouac" on a blank page
in my little black notebook,
like the kind I imagine Jack used
but it was a Moleskine and he’d never spend
that much on a notebook, you know
but just the same I
stuck my pen in the fold
and passed it behind me without looking
I felt it taken out of my nervous hand

An eternity fell on my shoulders
until a giggle, a sweet silky titter of a laugh
Too afraid, I didn’t look back
Something touched my shoulder
I reached and felt my notebook
The pen was still in it
I looked inside and there
under Jack’s name was written
"I was here"
I turned around to see
my beat angel –
There was no one in sight . . .
Whoever, whatever was one fast
move beyond gone

You can bet I won’t forget
that trip anytime soon
not even in the jangly
railyard earth of Jack’s
darkest road fantasies

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #13.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poem #10-2011 Grace


What does it mean to
"grow old gracefully"?
And, do I have to?
Dad sort of did (I think)
But I remember him
advising - repeatedly -
"Don't grow old. It's bad business."

So now with that script
running in my head, I resist
"What is"

Things I can't do any more
(too frustrating to list here)
Things wrong with my body
(too depressing to list here)
Loved ones and friends dead
(too many to list here)

Kerouac said
"That nothin' means nothin' is
the saddest thing I know"

I wrote this poem in hopes
of carthartic release
but now I'm lower than before
and that mystical state of gracefulness
seems further away than ever
seems an impossible task
seems . . . inauthentic

I know what to do:
Tap into my Welch roots and
"rage, rage against
the dying of the light"

Now...what does it mean to "rage"?

This poem written
for and contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Poem #9-2011: Quantum Mechanics

Quantum Mechanics

Soaringly sad
I pop open the nearest book
News of the Universe
Rilke writes of living life
in “growing orbits”
circling for a thousand years
not knowing if he is
falcon, storm, or song

Sadness lifts -
replaced by awareness
and something else . . .

A question?

What is that knowing
that poets know?
And why do I forget
(again and again)
that I am my feelings
and they are not separate
from me?

When I am sadness
and the “I” disappears
then it doesn’t matter
if I am falcon, storm, or song

I am all three, and none of them
at once
I am that quantum particle that
cannot be located
circling forever

and it doesn’t matter

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #6
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The formula: write a sentence for obscurity
Yes           o.b.s.c.u.r.i.t.y.

Then: make some reference to an ancient tome
or classic poem
that only the nattering narcissists

Finish: with a flourish
or a surprise or a twist
but make it something     oh    so    very     clever

read the entire mess
aloud to someone with
no objectivity
who would swoon (or feign swooning)
at even a sophomoric rhyme
just to keep you

I spent that night learning not to love you:
your contemptible creamy olive skin
those dreadful morning lake smooth eyes
the vile way your soft lips fit mine

I can’t be kept
Can’t be fooled
My heart knows a bad poem
and it knows a bad love

Even one that flames high
for a time . . .
like ours

So like a bad poem, you are

relegated to
that corner place
where couplets and starlets
dance the night away

In obscurity

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #5
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Poem #8-2011


The crack
in the looming
defines me,
reminds me:
Challenge sought freely
always repays,
failure hard-earned
never disappoints

I pull –
(not straining)
draining muscle,
refilling spirit
Does one
feed the other?

I am stone
my focus pure
Only this perfect
fluid moment
No past, no future

Old struggles,
anticipated victories
wait for cold beer
we’ll drink,
telling lies
on the tailgate
of my patient pick-up truck

This poem written
for and contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night.
Follow them on Twitter @dVersePoets.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Poem #7-2011

Buzz's Horses

Suicide bombers
strew body parts
in every direction

Parents beat a child mercilessly
make her eat dog feces
and lock her in a trunk to suffocate

"Soldiers" rape anything female
regardless of age and then mutilate
their vaginas with bayonets

Thousands of refugees
huddle together in a foreign country
waiting to die of hunger

A man goes on a rampage
killing 76 fellow humans
because he disagrees with their politics

Politicians play chicken with the economy
because of one party’s obsessive
hatred of a non-white President

All this and more
and over in neighbor Buzz’s corral
the horses aren’t bothered at all

Frank Zappa and The Cloud-Guy

Herewith, one of my favorite quotes about religion from one of my favorite nonconformists:

If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.

~Frank Zappa

Friday, June 17, 2011

Poem #6-2011 (Wellsboro)


We used to wander the summer streets at night
our parents convinced we were having
a sleepover above Joe's garage
(or in Tommy's backyard)
which indeed is where we slept - eventually

Joe's parents would check on us toward "bedtime"
We would act dutifully sleepy or adolescently annoyed
to get them to leave without suspicion
After waiting the appropriate amount of time
we quietly slithered away down dimlit streets,
dressed in black and stealthily (or so we thought)
keeping to the shadows

In those innocent days, the grocery stores
had their baked goods and fruits
delivered in the middle of the night and left outside
- with no security at all!
We learned the delivery times
and we learned that they packed the sweeter offerings
(like Ring Dings, Yodels, and Twinkies)
under the neatly arranged loaves of bread

Watermelons were always fair game

One night another band of brigands
left a trail of rinds right to our encampment
(we always thought it was on purpose)
When we returned from our own foray
Sergeant Wilcox was waiting for us
Granted, we were guilty, but it was still an injustice
and I never could stand watermelon after that

Once we hatched a scheme to break into the huge empty
haunted mansion on the corner by the town park
But we never followed through on that one
Tommy returned one night
from a solo mission,
huge red stop sign in one hand and crescent wrench in the other
While we were duly impressed with his bravery,
I don't remember what he did with it

Fortunately, somewhere inside our quasi-delinquent brains
lurked enough common sense to distinguish
between youthful tomfoolery and true crime
We never even thought about stealing a car
but in retrospect I'm glad I never read
about Neal Cassady until much later in life

Forty-five years later
I sometimes walk around the house after dark,
pretending I'm someplace I shouldn't be
The memories of comrades-in-arms
executing precision raids
come flooding back and, for a brief moment,
I forget I'm an old man:
I am that fearless young marauder
thumbing his nose at rules,
living dangerously, taking risks
in the seductive midnight hours
when proper folks are asleep in bed

Even the sickly smell of watermelon
is a welcome tribute to a simpler time
when desperate friends rallied around a common cause
for no other reason than the thrill of adventure

What happened to our resolve?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Poem #5-2011

"Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry."

So Kerouac said
Once again an explanation
from the past of the future
Which is now
Which is always

Electrical vibrations
evaporate forever
into that place
whence they came

But a poem!
A hand-penned
(or typed on a manual)
poem communicates


Friday, April 1, 2011

Poem #4-2011

A Poem for “Governor” Paul LePage
by Rick Dale and Crystal Bond

To our petulant pompously presumptuous postulant potentate
Who perniciously proposes Presidential perdition
Who prevented poetic participation in his political pomp
Whose predecessor now appears profusely polished
Who prattles about his plutocratic pursuits
Who prefers people press lips to his portly posterior
Who pines to poison preschoolers with plastic
Who perpetuates patriarchy
Who pilfers paintings to piss off the populace, then plays in paradise
Who proffers preferential privileges for the presently prosperous

Pardon my peevishness
But I pray and plead:
Promptly part from your political position

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Poem #3-2011

What to say?
What to do?
How to make sense
of so much
at once?
Heartache swells.
Suffering shall
not subside
without a fight.
do not paralyze
us with your
icy grip.
The Buddhist monk
says, "Surrender."
I slay him
dead by his first teacher.
To Wisconsin, Ohio, Libya,
and too many other places -
some known, many not.
More powerful than an
army's march
said Hugo.
I hope that's true.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Poem #2-2011

In our culture
we hear
"He was thinking with the wrong head"
to explain a misguided dalliance

Men know that is a lie

In the warm shower -
even with the slippery advantage
of lavish suds -
there is no reaction
to the most knowing self-touch
unless the mind engages first

The penis is simply an emissary
awaiting instructions

Like most things
It starts and ends with the mind

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poem #1-2011

Who is to say?
Placeholder? Maybe.
Or perhaps it's a big
bony fist right up your ass
and you don't even know it

Right reverence
is owed.
Your snarky blathering
reveals all

When someone steps up,
and you do not,
sit back
shut the fuck up

There will be a next time