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.

Comes a time


He came to me hang-dog,

sat down on the porch

of the little cabin I had.

Was there anything for

the misty trail and blank diffusion,

the locked-out midlife

and dry, throat-clearing

apology for not having done

– what?

He didn’t even know,

only that it was bad.

And what did I have

to offer? Nothing but

my own head hung,

the cracked and weathered grain

of the planks under my feet,

and the assumption that I wouldn’t

be in his shoes

twenty years hence.