Magnolia Bloom

Magnolia Bloom

We climb the park’s tower,
my eldest brother and I.
He points out a lovely
white blossom in a tree
I identify as magnolia,
its thick green leaves shiny
with Florida sunshine.

Nearby are other blooms,
older ones, bent on decay,
white tepals yellowing,
sliding, one by one
to the forest floor,

and I think of you, mother,
who were once so splendid,
blooming and bearing the fruit of us,
ourselves now slowly wilting,
the frost of age tinging
our skin, old men maintaining

the illusion of youth only
so long as you yet lived,
a bloom we mistook
for steel, a proof against
our own mortality until the day
you dropped entirely
to the forest floor, fading
into dusk, then darkness,

leaving us shocked, aggrieved,
and afraid, knowing our own
time comes soon now.

Just as you knew me, seeing
through fading eyes, as
a callous fool saying
I’d see you anon, you
ill and angry, me
wasting precious time
on denial and work,
and doctor calls

rather than staying, your
hand in mine, waiting
with you for the fleshy parts
of your life and my fear
to fail and fall away,
and I’m sorry, Mom, sorry,
eternally, unquenchably sorry.

The old magnolia turns malignant
as my brother walks away,
whispers closely so only I can hear
that it knows I am. It knows.


For other poems, see Fiction/Poetry

God as Dread Pirate Roberts

The classic romance comedy The Princess Bride has one of my favorite existential lines.

It occurs when our hero Wesley is recounting his life as an abductee of the Dread Pirate Roberts, explaining how Roberts made him a valet.

“You can try it for tonight. I’ll most
likely kill you in the morning.”
Three years he said that. “Good
night, Westley. Good work. Sleep
well. I’ll most likely kill you
in the morning.”

Dread Pirate Roberts is an intriguing stand-in for the universe or, if you prefer, God.

The universe is a harsh, dangerous and crazy mysterious place. Bad shit happens to everyone at times. Some deserve it. Many do not. And life is always uncertain until it ends in the certainty of death.

You might well die today, or tomorrow, or the day after that.

But if you’re canny and lucky, it might let you live for another day.

So, watch for snakes in tall grass. Look both ways before you cross the road. Eat right and exercise. Generally speaking, avoid stupid mistakes that could turn deadly.

Of course, even if you do all that, the universe will get you in the end. It’s designed that way.

Maybe there is, after all, an afterlife. Or maybe there will come a day when we live in immortal bodies powered by bioceramic minds (or whatever). Perhaps at that point the Dread Pirate Roberts will not be quite so dreaded … though I doubt it.

Until then, however, offer up your good works as God’s valet. Do what you can. And sleep well, friends.

Featured image from RootOfAllLight, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Not Me

Not Me

There is no transfer,

no shooting of the ghost

across town or time

or species of beast.

No beaming

or streaming

through cosmic

or copper wires.


I am dead,


not me.

And yet,

and yet

wherever there’s an eye,

I may be,



not the same snuffed candle

but another light,

a separate flame,

maybe roaring or sputtering

or soaring,

a shot in the dark,

a spark in the sky,

not this me, never

again, no,

yet I

Featured image: Van Gogh's "Starry Night"