Last Laugh (for K.V.)

We called men like him cowards,

Because he refused to fight

And murder civilians.

Because he shot his officer in the back.

Because he came home and shot himself


We call men like him cowards.

Because the rest of us could never understand:

The pain in his heart;

The sinking gut;

The explosions in his head.

We didn’t get the joke:

That cryptic clarity

That needed to be

put to rest.

We call them cowards

We call them

We call




May 1, 2011; Ground Zero …

The sweet scent of death.

Celebrate the end of fear

at public hangings!

Nursery Rhymes …

… Yet, what lessons learned?

Ten years of nightmares, and still

we hide behind flags.

Black Horizons …

Where did the sun go?

Black smoke rises from straw men

who preach in the flames.

Cold Mathematics:

Every time a child is bombed …

… terrorists are born.



her eyes droop and stare,

watching my every move.

Pupils that speak a language

impossible to confuse.

I toil on my computer.


perk, jerking back

and forth,

waiting for the next move. My hands

clamor and clink!

in the kitchen sink.


hale, her slender snout breathes in and

out with such force that I can

feel her boredom

on the back of my neck.

I sweep and mop the fetid floor.


on the rug, she observes

and wiggles her wet nose,

soft like baby toes, and

smells the trash

as it walks through the door.


Are those eyes that wonder

why I occupy my time

doing nothing, when

I could be outside

playing Frisbee.

Streets of Cairo

Fine. Let them eat cake.

Dictators look so foolish

When Hell shakes the gates.

History teaches:

What goes around comes around.

Raise the guillotine!

When the masses rise

Power collides, proving that

Even Pharaohs fall.

Morning Mesa

A December sunrise over New Mexico brings an end

to the embryonic slumber of this strange girl’s earthen hovel.

Stepping outside to piss,

a stream splashes gorges through the frosted ground as

steam rises to the occasion.

On the eastern horizon,

the sun pokes his golden thorns over

the tattered edges of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. Shadows disappear

as the glowing aura sprinkles a dash of tangerine below,

soft like baby’s breath. Bashful stars mill about

in the violet currents to the west.

Tipsy-toed, they curtsy and laugh

and kiss their farewells

to midnight’s glistening dew.

The bitter cold encapsulates, breathing deep to

suck with scorched lungs just

for a taste of something so sweet,

so frigid,

that it breaks the skin on morning teeth.

A coyote caterwauls to the dimmed moon, crying for her capitulation

to the onslaught of day,

the beast’s cackles ring of freedom’s waking revelry.

But nothing else.

No words,

no catch phrases or wasted breath from those

who buzz or whiz or clamor or curse.

All are frozen dead in their beds

as the wind whirls and gusts scatter dust

from brittle sagebrush needles.

Breaking trance,

her subtle call from the squatty shelter shatters lonely silence,

as this desert maiden before me

paces barefoot on sandstone steps.

With eyes that sparkle like winter jasmine

her whisper nibbles on my ear,


The simplicity is overwhelming.


Fun With Frost!

“Occam’s Razor (The Road Most Taken)”

Two roads forked in a golden forest.

And of course, physics proving

One cannot at once be in two locations,

I stared up and down in my confusion,

Admitting to the wood’s whispering chorus

That I had no idea where I was going.

“You’re lost,” said she, looking rather coy.

“I am not,” I say with a smirk.

“North is that way,

If you check the moss upon that birch.”

So I ventured left with much courage,

Satisfied in my quick thinking and primordial knowledge.

But she, stubborn as a knotted root

Decided on the other.

For in her mind, the grass was springy

And would not muddy up the boot.

“And besides,” said she,

“On my path the weather is fairer.”

I shall be telling this with some dismay,

For an ancient instinct failed that day.

Whereas she traversed steadfast in her persistence

And made it home to a glass of warm liqueur

I stumbled under the stormy skies of October

Down the path of most resistance.

Midnight Reflections

Last call sends me home.

Hazy eyes that see my life

reflected at night.

Stumbling back through a miserable February frost, steam rises from the interstate overpass and permeates into my stinging lungs. The bridge’s unforgiving concrete ceiling serves as a home to the dregs, the junkies, and the discarded human waste lost in the bowels of an insatiable society. Walking past like faded ghosts in the fog, their faces reflect the horrors of being left behind. Scars scream the pain of being jumped in the park for a pair of shoes. Teeth cocaine-cracked and jagged from one too many run-ins with the cops. Their earthen shells creak rickety and unstable as they hobble on blistered feet and social paranoia. Hungry, anything helps, his cardboard sign suggests.

“Spare some change?” He asks through mumbled gums.

Parents, principals, and politicians insist he’ll only use it to score a fix or drink himself into a coma. Yet my cold, numb hands finger their way into the deepest corners of barren pockets.

What’s a few quarters

if it helps you through the night?

Who am I to judge?

— Jeff Englehart