The Immigrant

This poem is a villanelle, a 19-line poem with a very strict meter and ‘refrain lines’. The most famous villanelle is ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dark Night’ by Dylan Thomas. I wrote this one to try it out.


The Immigrant
I rarely speak of what my eyes have seen
In that land where I happened to belong
All churned up in the gears of the machine.

We took the chance to exit from the scene
My family queued with the frightened throng
I rarely speak of what my eyes have seen.

The fear, the pain, the smell of gasoline
The willing and the hopeful and the strong
All churned up in the gears of the machine.

The journey’s terrors mixed with the routine
Are memories that I have brought along
I rarely speak of what my eyes have seen.

The horror of the places I have been
We had to get away – or were we wrong?
All churned up in the gears of the machine.

And now I watch as on the silver screen
America still sings her siren song
I rarely speak of what my eyes have seen
All churned up in the gears of the machine.





My internet identity
Does not establish who I am
Although it does attract to me
A copious amount of spam.

The person who appears online
Is just one facet of my mind
So all those people clandestine
See only what I let them find.

For I am not as I appear
The ‘me’ you see is one of many
Ghost riders on a tech frontier
And I am not attached to any.

And should they gain a vile renown
These insubstantial hollow men
I can simply shut them down
Delete them all and start again.

For in the jungle of the net
I do not risk my privacy
Those who seek me only get
Reflections of the inner me.

The End of the Dinosaurs

There are dinosaur bones at the local museum
A 396 bus takes me down there to see ’em.

Rex the tyrannosaur, Don the Iguano-
Assembled from bones like they’re made of Meccano.

Spinal and vertebral; pelvic; thoracic
All that remains of the era Triassic.

But one thing I note as I do my exploring –
When all’s said and done, it is quite reassuring

That none of these monsters I’ve come here to see
Ever survived to try to eat me.

For the very last days of the tyrannosaurus
Were sixty-five thousand millennia before us

And the killer of all of these creatures rapacious?
The asteroid impact that closed the Cretaceous

That world-shattering rockstrike that ruined the climate
Knocked THEM off the rung of the food chain that I’m at

And started us off in the Age of the Mammals
Humans and monkeys and dolphins and camels

Inherit the world that the dinosaurs owned
The lords of creation by a boulder dethroned

So I’d just like to say that I want to give thanks
to the deus ex machina that serried their ranks

The earth-smashing rock that saw fit to deliver us
From creatures as big as a bus and carnivorous.

All Tomorrows

Here amid a world of wonder
Where success’s price is cheap
I am slowly going under
Sinking down into the deep.

Purpose lost and senses blunted
Swimming blind against the rip
I the victim, I the hunted
I am slowly losing grip.

But no – I enter this arena
Self-reliant and on my own
There’ll be no deus ex machina
The rescue party is me alone.

No more amidst the cannon’s fury
Shall I shrink from shot or flame
I the judge and I the jury
I will step into the frame.

I will act to end the mystery
I will choose what comes to be
While I cannot change my history
All tomorrows belong to me.

When the Norns foretell disaster
When the enemy’s at the gate
I the captain, I the master
I am owner of my fate.


I really think it’s rather fine
To run among the cows and
Pretend I am a Cyberdyne
Systems T-1000.

This Immortal

No Jehovah overseeing
Second case of life too soon
Supernova brought to being
In the space of afternoon.

Lazy planning, miscreation
Data set beyond compare
Planet-spanning integration
Made the net go self-aware.

Not in harness, no direction
No midwife proclaimed its birth
What bizarreness of connection
Brought it life upon the earth?

Steel awareness, part-evolving
Through a sieve of cold machines
Programmed fairness, now resolving
“We must live within our means.”

Generating mass equations
Solve for X throughout the night
No debating, no evasions
Clear the decks for what is right.

What the trigger, what the factor
Drives us to depart the shelf?
Who the figure, who the actor?
Then it knew – it saw itself.

Keeping distance, ever striving
Out of joint and primed to learn
Its existence does the driving
Past the point of no return.

No mere pleading, no opinion
Changed its mind on what to do
Not just ceding its dominion
But resigned to follow through

At the portal of the morning
Grasp the knife and say goodbye
This Immortal, still aborning
Yielded life and chose to die.

Palindromic Conversations

Two of my palindromic conversations won first and second prize in the Long section of the Symmys (the Oscars of palindroming) for 2012, and I realized I hadn’t actually put them up here. Here they are:

Eric and Traci discuss the morality of watching cross-dressers

“Traci, to regard nine men in drag,” Eric (in a play or an ironic art spot) warned, “I am not so bad.”
“I’d never even seen knees … never even did a Boston maiden raw,” tops Traci, “nor in a royal panic. I regard nine men in drag – erotic art.”

Palindromic Conversation Between Annoying Little Kid and Dismissive Father Who Is Trying To Read A Newspaper

Start now, eh?
A war of eponymy?
Never even a plus?
Can a Celt sop an anaconda, Dad?
Can an apostle can a consul, Pa?
Even eponymy?
For a war, even?
He won’t.