The Bird Rests Upon Ideas

The bird rests upon ideas

Her wings closed

She is like a Buddha

Carrying the world

In her feathers

Warm and round

Relentlessly dense


Motion thought


Solitary in thought



Wing to eye

Split in motion

And sight

Floating in particles

Of neverness

And always

Her eyes find

Closed wings

And hide

In feathered






Broken Chair

Karen Melander-Magoon


Broken chair


Two hundred years


Sitting people



Glue or epoxy

Perhaps to mend

A once perfect body

Two thousand people

In Baga town Nigeria



Thirteen thousand

And counting

Killed by Boco Haram

For reading

For learning

We cry

Black lives matter

Thirteen thousand

Black lives killed

In Nigeria

In Paris

We cry

Je suis Charlie

We march

For lives of journalists

And Jews

While Palestinians

Twenty-thousand Palestinians

Are murdered by

Our own armies

Broken lives

We break daily

Je suis Charlie

I am free press

I am education

I am broken lives

Waiting for super glue

That will never mend

My bodies

In Baga

In Chibok

Je suis Nigere

I am Nigerian

Another broken black life

I am one of

Four hundred school girls

One of

Thirteen thousand more

Broken people

Remaining in graves

Or strewn upon the street

Or raped in jungles

Of Nigeria

Or anywhere


Has left wounds

To be infested with hate

Broken lives

Victims of victims

Of colonial violence

Victims of victims

Of false flag operations

In Algeria

Six monks are beheaded

To justify civil war

To justify

200,000 broken people

Murdered people

Who cannot be mended

Whose deaths bear

Seeds of violence

For generations to come

Whose deaths arm


Or counterfeit extremists

Spurring a world towards

Breaking more lives

I am an old chair

I was beautiful once

I endured two hundred years

Of people sitting on my

Polished surface

Once created by a great artisan

With love

And understanding

I am broken

I am China

I am Africa

I am Palestine

I am Syria

I am Lebanon

I am now

Only a broken

Vestige of colonialism

I may be mended

Once again

But one day

I will burn

To ash

The burning ash

That lights

A revolution




The butterfly was blue

Like blue silk


She flew

Unaware of flying



A butterfly






At the Academy of Sciences, SF

The children are more interesting

Than the frogs and snakes


In their glass cages

They find the hidden reptiles

To satisfy their companions

The four year old boy

Wants to stay

Standing next to the tops of trees

He asks his father

Why he may not stay

And leave mother

Where she is

He would rather

Wait for the butterflies




The quotidian (4 27 15)

The quotidian

The daily

The walk downstairs

Get the paper

Smell coffee

Two thousand people

Dying in Nepal

From the tremors

Of the earth’s belly

Gradually, slowly

Assaulted by a sliding

Indian continent

Children crying

Monks crushed

Under the debris of

Thousand year old temples

Funeral marches


Are not possible

When death overwhelms

The earth becomes

The quotidian

Of ages

She the mother

Rolls over slowly

Turns again

And sighs

I walk back

Up the stairs

And drink

My coffee



My Coat is Red

My coat is red

Not for Communism

Not for anything

My daughter found the coat

For me

On a rack

At Goodwill

It is bright

And warm

A little too big

Like my thoughts

A little boy

Throws a stone at a tank

In Israel

And becomes a music teacher

Is there sense in that?

A lily hangs limply

In a vase on a table

Recalling mortality

Knowing she would have bloomed

Longer in the garden


Yet bringing delight

As a cut flower

Where is the sense

In red

In cut lilies

And little boys

Throwing stones at tanks

Whose drivers

Have taken their homes

Their farms

Their hopes

Imprisoned them

For throwing rocks

And stolen their childhood

My coat is red

My thoughts are dark

And yet

A lily blooms

Outside my window


















There are more earthquakes

Everywhere corporations fracture the earth

Force-feeding the earth with chemicals

Forcing water into her mouth

Water that drills into her very bones

And dispels itself in polluted waste

Millennia of terrestrial infrastructure

Crushed with the boots of corporations

Companies oligarchies banks tyrants

Birds fly over the earth

Their brilliant songs

And feathered grace

Flies over rigs and drills

Flies over once pristine waters

Seeking resting places

In disappearing trees and native growth

Seeking the breasts of mother earth

Fecund breasts of hills and mountains

Offering generous nurturing

From fruited plains

Offering clean rains

And unpolluted waters

Birds fly into flying machines

Into turbines airplanes windows


The disappearing


Of their ancestors


Children and Pillows

Pillows lie upon the couch

Hiding a white bear

The window behind is bright

With morning light

Voices call from the streets

Children’s voices

Speaking English Spanish Chinese

On their way to school

On their way to life

On their way

To the other end of the earth

On their way

To a thousand dimensions

Of beauty fear hope distress

Children opening like flowers

Into this bright day

Contain more wisdom

And more sunshine

Than all the galaxies


For they are buds

Of infinity

They are






A Tiny Cloud

A tiny cloud

All fluff

Hangs in the sky

Like the sky’s own private


Or fluffy Siberian cat

All fluff

Puff of cloud

Wandering the sky




Tree Leaves

The tree leaves beneath my window

Glisten in the sun like jewels

Yet so much more beautiful

In their fragile splendor

Than the glisten of hard diamonds

Dug from the earth by human chattel

Coveted for reasons more of greed

Than beauty

The trees hang their glistening leaves

In random disarray

Unafraid of losing a bit of glitter

As the sun moves away

Or the earth turns just enough

So shadows hide the glory

Of jewels in the rough


She sits upon the sand

Gazing seriously

Gazing on the azure blue

Gazing imperviously

She can’t be more than two

And sand

And sea

And sky

Envelope her smallness

As she sits

In the palm of her earth mother

Looking calmly

Through the cracks

Of nature’s fingers

















Walls rise and fall

With families

With children

Playing in sand

Walls separate

Or join



Walls cut like knives

Through gardens and lives

Keep children from schools

Are the weapons of fools

Destroy or annoy

Cause wars

Close doors

Walls we can climb

To pass the time

Of day

Where we play

Ovid’s Pyramos

And Thisbe

Who think of a chink

And scheme Shakespeare’s dream

To find love through the wall

Where empires may fall

On the slippery base

Of the scheme of the theme

Of a phantom of wall

That isn’t a wall

At all

Walking Through Waves

Walking through waves

Walking through mirrors

Of water

Layers of reflections

Swimming ideas


Still alone unknown

Lost in schools of thought

Blue carriers of gills

Conversions of oxygen

Walking through mirrors

From nowhere to nowhere

Turtles swim and surface



Fish rest on the other side

Of the mirror



As air

Becomes bubbles









Sandtown, Home of Freddie Gray


In Baltimore

Abandoned houses

Littered streets

High rates of lead poisoning

Among children

Children who have no Little League

Children who play

Or try to play

In the streets

Before cops pick them up

For playing in the streets

Children who grow into

 Freddie Gray

Old enough to be thrown

Into the back of a police wagon

To lie in handcuffs

And shackles

With no seat belt

For what cops call

A “rough ride

A penny ride, a nickel ride

A cowboy ride

Common practice

For cops needing

A little entertainment

Police car lynching

Of young black men

Riding in police vans

Freddie Gray

Broken spine


By police

The protectors of the people

Given the common rough treatment

Thousands of others have been given

For the crime

Of walking on the streets

Of Sandtown


And running from police

Knowing the police

Can murder


Like Freddie Gray

Can lynch


Like Freddie Gray

With a simple

“Rough ride”

In the back

Of a police van








A solitary Bird

A solitary bird

Flies against the grey blue

Cloudless sky

Gazing downwards

What does she see

Of importance?

Trees perhaps

And microscopic insects

Shimmying through her space

Caught in the embrace of wind

She climbs higher

Until the trees and bugs

Are less important

Than low flying airplanes

Whirring propellers

Or lower down

Wind turbines

Of destruction

Unnatural harbingers

Of the other

Beckoning through blades

To solitary birds

Caught up

In the wind






The Spaniel


The spaniel burrows deeply

In fall leaves

Brown green gold yellow

Moist and smelling

Of earth and rain

Covering dog fur

In a blanket

Fashioned by

The wind



The Cedar

The cedar blows and bows

Whispering of generations


The Sunset Spoke

The sunset spoke to me last night

Whispering very softly in the wind

Golden arms brushed my shoulders

Blushing cheeks warmed my face

Rosy clouds filled the sky

Lifting me far away

Helping me


Making me



There is No Comedy


There is no comedy

Jesus walks

Gandhi walks

Crowds crush them

The homeless make their beds

On cardboard

In the streets of Greece

With all the refugees of Syria

Escaping western wars

They sleep next to the crowds

Crushing the prophets

Jesus walks on the waters

Of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea

Over the sinking boats

Of immigrants

He reaches his hands out

For the drowning refugees

They become the nameless

Smuggled families

In closed vans



Two small children


Upon the water

Brushing the hands

Of Jesus


Broken dandelions

As the sun sets

Spilling gold

Across the sea


August Spins Away

August spins away

With the last sunset

Pale, ghostly, veiled

Mourning her summer days

Treading softly as she greets

The barely waning moon

Shrouded in silk

August spins away

Into September’s memory

Unaware of her own absence

Discrete in recollection

Gathering souvenirs of summer

Sandy shells

Warm embraces under southern constellations

Bright smiles fading

Whispered secrets

Finding hidden alcoves

In the heart of yesteryear

August spins away

To join July and June

In summer dreams

Wrapped now in

Falling leaves

Gifted to

Autumn’s wind

And winter’s




Barbed Wire and Refugees


Barbed wire on the Hungarian border

Barbed wire at Calais

Spikes to repel humanity

Who fail to drown at sea

Barbed wire

Where refugees must pass

As they flee war

Children running from war

Children screaming for their parents

Another child drowns yesterday

He lies in his father’s arms

His photo on the cover of the Wall Street Journal

We start wars

We create enemies

We bomb villages and cities

But we do not rescue

The mass of humanity

Suffering from those wars

Germany stands alone

Recognizing its own laws

Demanding justice for the abused

Asylum for the persecuted

Japan refuses to assist in war

Obeying its own laws

Of peace after fighting

A terrible war

We Yankees

Have created refugees

From our own wars

We should send our armies

To save the victims of war

To save the children from drowning

To keep families together

To protect the huddled masses

We have created

With our wars

A lone child







Wars taught us

To practice

Wars made us







Train passes green turning yellow

Trees shoot fountains of red

Leaves whisper words we do not hear

Hanging mute in dark space

Yellow notes wishing to cadence

To fall on earth’s breast

To sink to disappear

Passing peopled windows

Crinkled starfish

Swimming in dry rainforests

Gasp a last yellow

Grasp a lost mellow

Chord of renunciation

Forgotten springtimes

Sing in broken phrases

Birdsong crickets chatter

Squirrels race silently

Against time and the train


It is dark

Sunset was just an idea

A knowledge of west

A bright sun

Then mere cold blue

Forest silhouettes

Like dancing skeletons

Of tree

Momentary glance

Of distant valley

Hirsute hills of forest

Mountain caps

Hiding secrets

Under crowns

Of red earth

Now dark

One with squirrels

Opaque yellow hands

And red fire

Lost in night


Whistling train


To the stars

That light

Its journey



Morning in the City

Birds fly beyond windows

Venetian blinds rattle

Small slits allow a glimpse of wing

Shadows mark their path

Energetic beating of feathered muscle

Up down how many times

Is the life span wing beat of a gull?

How much space to be owned in fight?

Now is forever

In beating pulse

Sweeping motion

Landed motion

Balancing on strung cables

Riding across an open side window

Soon empty of bird

Quivering slightly

In regret

Or anticipation

Now still and quiet wires

Slice across skies of blue


Feathered eternity



A Dry Earth Waits

The clouds are heavy but do not weep

A giant’s cloak fills the sky

Etched with sunset jewels

The stars and planets still are hid

In velvet crevices

While spirits contemplate

The changes of the tides

A breeze speaks solemnly

Of warm winds winding through the valley

The hot breath of dragons

Burns through forests

Leaving flat land for storms

To wash them clean of life

Feathered whispers cling to shrubs

While chatters subside silently

Small animals shudder

As the giants of the jungle

Wander aimlessly

Through scorched paths

Seeking water

That slips over the rim of the earth

Into Hestia’s apron

Wrung at last

In sacred drops

To offer meager baptism

Over a parched

And empty font

Autumnal Rain

The window pane is blurred

With sudden drops

Skating across a vertical pond

Bounded by slats

Framing nature’s wetness

Broken clouds evaporate

Into white silk

Pillowing a city scene

Of homes and drying trees

Crisp leaves grip valiantly

On stiff limbs

Accepting damp rain

As we too

Cling tight to autumnal seasons

Accepting damp gifts

Accepting the last spooling of time

Evaporating slowly

Into memory











Babies and Words

Mothers nurture

Words and milk

Milk and words

Souls express

While pressing out

A universe of thought


Rock the baby

In treetops of verses

Wind blows gently

Through soft clouds


Billowing silk of song

Verses words Phrases

Garlands of gossip

Weave through

Echoes of merriment

Sorrow memory

Of other mothers

Universes left behind

Milk and honey

Green grow the rushes

Boats for baby

Floating in new ideas

Gazing skyward

Blinking again

At soft


Outcry for Fayadh

You, Ashraf Fayadh

Saudi Arabia has condemned you

To death for renouncing Islam

You, Ashraf

You who love truth

You who renounce injustice

You who speak of the injustice

Done a refugee from Palestine

Who is exiled from his home

You who speak of all injustice

You who speak as a poet

Just as did Raif Badawi

Who was sentenced to 1000 lashes

For speaking truth

Just as did Ali Mohammad al Nimr

Who was sentenced to crucifixion

And beheading

For attending a peaceful protest

For democracy

By the same government

To whom we

We the United States

Pledge our friendship

Pledge our billions of dollars

In military aid

To seed and nurture extremists

Who do not love Islam

But love terror

To whom we send 100 billion dollars

In four years

For weapons and bombs

To kill human beings

And another 1.5 billion to kill more

After you Fayadh are condemned to death

We send arms and pledge friendship

To a country whose princes make a fortune from drugs

While she continues to execute people for drug possession

We, the United States,

We welcome this country

This country Saudi Arabia

To lead the UN Human Rights Panel

This same Saudi Arabia

Who tortures, imprisons and condemns poets

For speaking truth

She we embrace as our close ally

She whose citizens were 15 of the 19 pilots

Who blew up our twin towers on 9/11

And whose citizens we gave free passage home that day

She who condemns a poet for apostasy

While she nurtures hatred and violence

While she speaks with many tongues

Of falsehood

And holds the hangman’s noose

Over the head of a poet

Fayadh, we know

Your country is not alone in her injustice

We all have bloodied hands

As long as injustice and war

Remain to fill the earth with hatred

But you Fayadh

You remain incorruptible

As a conduit of truth

Splashed in clean drops

Against the sword

Of tyranny

And oppression

May those drops

Swell into a torrent

A torrent to wash the world


Clean of falsehood

Clean of hatred

Clean of war

That she may be open

To the words

Of a poet













Southern California

San Bernardino


Fourteen killed

Maybe more


Says the face

On the woman across from me

Riding the muni bus



We have come to expect massacres

Of normal people





San Bernadino


Like sun and rain

Except the rain outside

Is unexpected


Is normal

And massacres

Bleed into our hearts

Hearts gone numb

Hearts gone dry

With normalcy

Of pain


Zunar and Human Rights (Dec. 7, 2015)



We celebrate human rights

As human rights are sabotaged

Every day

We celebrate freedom

As freedom is jeopardized

Every day

We laugh at satire

As a satirist

Is condemned to years in prison

For a tweet

A Malaysian cartoonist

Named Zunar

Tweets condemnations

Of the jailing of an

Opposition leader

And is condemned himself

To prison

Perhaps for life

Zunar has been harassed

By police

His office raided

His works banned

For nearly a decade

And he continues

To fight for the rights

Of free speech

We celebrate his courage

And tweet his tenacity

As he fights

With the sword

Of words

For human rights














Death for Failure to Post Bail

Countless are the souls

Murdered in jail

For failure to post bail

Poor people

Charged with small crimes

Sit in jails

Notorious for crime

And murder

And die

Awaiting trial


For lack of bail


Often innocent of any crime


For the crime of



For the crime of

Empty pockets


In prison


Waiting five and more years

For a trial

To prove their innocence


Of the crime of


For the crime of



For Justice




Trauma does not die

With the next generation

Trauma lives on

In our children

Those who have seen horrors

Pass those horrors on

To all who come after

Infecting those born after

With the energy and passions

And memories

Of parents and grandparents

Who witnessed violence

At home or in war

Violence becomes the backdrop

Upon which a life unfolds

Seeking answers

Trusting no one

Wanting only to escape

Escape the aftermath

The horrors

Of violence


Awaiting Grace

Breathing in rain

Inhaling life pristine pockets emptying from rosy dark sky

Damp blinding drops of pulsing moisture

Penetrating every naked pore

Face and hands

Welcoming rain

Welcoming clean memories to be made

Across the Arabian Sea

Red Sea, Gulf of Aden Persian Gulf

Await cleansing

That will not come

Four dozen men less one

Are executed on a dry warm day

Absent rain absent blessing

In the land of Mecca

Land of holy pilgrimage

Flowers of holiness

Cut from vibrant stems

To drip red salt

Upon a yielding earth

Opening her arms

To catch those drops

Of grace

Stretching further still

To cast her shadow

On the poet’s cell

Fahradh, I am your mother too

I wait beneath the prison

That cannot claim your voice

I wait and watch

Here where

No pristine rain may fall

No cleansing fount

May purify those

Who cut the

Radiant blossoms

From their stems

I wait

My pores exhale

The rosy sky

Across the sea

From other worlds

My arms reach out

To raise your soul

Into a pristine


And all I breathe

Is poetry

And pulsing drops

Of blinding