‘The Flavor of Grief’


I have been
getting familiar lately
with the flavor of
grief. It comes on me
with no warning.
Driving up-river,

to shelter-in-Nature.
At 76 mph, passing
a too-slow, white
Chevy truck. There
it is. A watery
film glazes my eyes.

It curls up, like
fog on a pond, when
the weather turns
and water reacts,
a heat differential as
sun boils air.

I am not, I should
add, grief-stricken.
Though, it’d be easy
to tune into it, like
locking on a radio station
amid a miasma of static.


There is enough
grief going round, what
with a pandemic
expiring hundreds of
thousands, right and left.
A million sons & daughters,

fathers, mothers, friends
& cousins. Reprobates
& saints. This virus
claims them all. Then,
there’s the grief that
fuels the anger

with a clown-show
president, uninterested
in the lives he helps dispatch.
Couldn’t, honestly, it seems,
care less. Would rather

mull the many
slings and arrows of
his outrageous misfortune.
One white golf shoe
pressed to the floor,
going hole-to-hole,

masticating his
interminable grievances.
As we, his audience,
enraged or darkly
entertained, pull up
short, after yet another

mate gets called
positive. And like a
relentless grandmaster,
wielding bishops &
pawns, bears down upon
our sanctuary.


There’s a lot of
grief going down.
But I don’t think
this grief is
that grief. This
murky, sudden-rising

grief seems old. Inborn.
The grief, perhaps, of
childhood’s shock,
when we were promised
innocence, but daily
living overtook us

like a steamroller,
flattening all. Or we,
in our wounded ways,
level other people’s
lives. Hurt people hurt
people, as they say.

(And let it be said,
whomever ‘they’ are,
they’re fractured, too.)
It comes with the
territory. This
grief, I mean.


There’s a word in
Buddhist thought — samvega.
It’s the dawning horror
we’re yoked to this
water-wheel of life-after-
life, spun round

for aeons, if ignorant. ‘Long
have I wandered in samsara,
seeking, but not finding

the builder of this house …’
That grief is maybe the
sort I mean.

Be curious, my
kalyana mitta — my
spiritual friend — says
B, with whom I
undertake an inquiry
once a month by

telephone, across
the length & breadth
of America. Sometimes,
he’s on the Left Coast,
sometimes New Orleans,
it doesn’t matter. The

guidance remains the
same. Don’t flee! Don’t
exit the field, back into the
cockpit of my forebrain. A
familiar cave, where I race to
out-think these churning thoughts.


That’s a hopeless, age-old
dodge. Be curious when
the demiurge, or sleek
panther of rage appears
(that’s a powerful fellow,
that one.) Not jet-black,

but composed of inky
charcoal smoke, flecked
with grey ash. Who’s he?
Be curious. Remain
in the room. And so,
now, driving, slowing,

gazing for the
turn-off, I end up
in the noon-time sun.
Cigar in one hand. A
couple of dragonflies
helicopter down

upon my white pants.
Such curious creatures!
I don’t shoo them off.
But photograph them
with my phone. Realize
the taste of grief is gone.


For now. It had risen
at the back of my throat
like gorge. Gone in this
minute with the
dragonflies, as they lift,
alight anew.

I am sure it will be
back. Until I attain
nibbana. If, that is, it’s
even possible to ‘attain.’
This grief, I’m sure,
will be a traveling companion

for the long road. For
I sense — distantly, yet
with certainty — my grief
has distinctions. Nuance.
Eras. Colors and flavors.
I hardly know them all.

Greenbottom, WV | nov27-28.2020


POEM: “Window No. 1”: One of my earliest, notable windows was in the basement bedroom I shared with brother Rick. It opened to the left, sliding open with a satisfying ‘chonk!’ Revealing the level grass of our backyard.

PICTURE|POEM: A Dozen Ways to Look at Chicago, Illinois: I’ve always been intrigued by human whose lives are lived just below the level of the clouds. They surround us by the thousands. In blue rooms, staring at TVs in their skyboxes. Doing Downward Facing Dog,

POEM | “My Paragraph & I”: ‘I want my paragraph to strut, carved cane in hand, the Left Bank, like a proper boulevardier. I want my paragraph to wow you. leave you wanting more. To, if possible, make you gasp.

POEM | “Body of Evidence”” ‘I’d no excuse not to grok the fact, or traffic in illusions of not growing old. Or denial of encroaching senescence. Or flipping the bird at Mister Death. It would halt nothing of my body’s fade, of our decay. I was, perhaps, whistling past my future graveyard.’

POEM | “Nous Celeron”” ‘Don’t you, Nous Céleron,/wish to lay down your arms?/Enter the Ohio’s cool darkness,/or the Chinodahichetha!/Sounding out each syllable/as a Wyandotte/might utter them …’

POEM | The Pledge: We must imagine/a better country, after/the orange man in/the white house. Tote/our losses & our/wounds. Revelations/about our neighbor’s/secret selves. The sign,/the flag, rippling in/the wind. That says—/’Off with your head’ ….

POEM | “Fridays”: I mark out my life in the passage of a flood of Fridays, the signposts zooming by in Friday cat posts by a favorite blogger.

Poems: A Hundred Years of Silence: It should be recalled/most of human history/has been lived in silence.

PORCH POEMS: ‘Ms. Nature & Mr. Death’: So, my day, which when fortunate,/begins with coffee, cat, and dawn,/shifts at some point, to the deck, for some sitting beneath the same old sky,/only this time, eyes closed./Climbed up on the shore, out of thetumultuous stream of thought./I’ve yet to grasp the meaning/of your collaboration, Ms. Nature,/with your ally, Mr. Death.’

PORCH POEMS: ‘Overhead’: ‘The clouds don’t care,’/ he said. Blowing a puff/ of cigar smoke at me/ from across the porch./ I sent a pretty good/ smoke ring back his way./ We were not/ six feet apart, so could/ be killing each other, should/ the virus hitch a ride upon our exhalations …

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[…] POEM: The Flavor of Grief: I have been getting familiar lately with the flavor of grief. It comes on me with no warning. While driving up-river, to shelter-in-Nature. At 68 mph, passing a too-slow, white Chevy truck. […]

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