Lines of communication

Once in Germany a Spanish man

asked this American

how to use the phone.

Now I’ve studied Spanish

in my day,

but the year of the day was long before,

in ’84,

and now I live in Holland.

In Holland they speak Dutch.

That means not much to a Spaniard,

but sadly Dutch

words were the only words

I could think of to help the Spaniard.

I had thought at Pentecost

God had set it aright,

but clearly we’re still lacking light

when an American in Germany

speaks Dutch to a Spaniard!


To our naked landlord, seller of cuckoo clocks

You were the first Dutchman I ever knew

and now I live among your kind, your

fishers and swallowers, ripping up

what they’ve built, running water where

they drained it forty years before,

legal and illegal-

izing their drugs, and letting

the masses in, though not really.

When I was ten I’d have told you,

there treading water in our mud hole,

that I knew a better way –


which won the big one

when the chips were down

(mostly) –

but even then, clothed and correct,

I’d have had to concede,

amid blown-out lives

(neighborhoods, brains, gutters…)

that maybe the promised promise

wasn’t always delivered.

So where does that leave us

(Are you dead?)

now I’m in your country

and you’re in mine?

How bout  we split the difference?

You grant me my mountain-prairie-

can-do horizon,

and I you your genius architecture

and painter sky.

Each can keep the people he’s with.

(They’re about the same.)

You’ll not find me, though,

swimming  in no hole.

And those cuckoo clocks you keep for yourself.