the mind silent like a whisper
in the still of night
you stiff as a mannequin
laid out in hospital gown
eyes fixed to ceiling
silent poems spin in  your head
weave present into past
until you’re back on the docks
lifting crates with hooks and beefy hands
waiting to clock out
hit Gino and Carlo’s Bar
with other white cap longshoremen

young women eyed your masculinity
devoured your loins
your head buried between
nectar sweet limbs
now laying in solitude
fluids not whiskey
race through your veins

nurses pass your room
pay no notice
tubes in your nose
labored breath
this is the way of life
the angel of death
no angel at all
but a minion from hell

growing old was not supposed
to be like this
dreams reduced to confetti
fall slowly to the ground
stepped on or around

death waits like a sadist
plays your mind like a card shark
your breathing ragged
as a rat’s claws

the hour’s pass
at horse and buggy speed
the bones bleed

death a faceless mugger
does a two-step shuffle
like a gypsy woman selling her wares
in the shadows of the tattooed dawn


I know this poet who dances with words who does the two-step political hustle that lacks any real muscle a Waltzing Matilda poet who glides along the dance floor like a skilled political whore a poet weaned on the game of favors who traded in his vision for a poetry politician's hat but dancing for an audience isn’t like feeling the rhythm that rubs up against the soul Buffy Saint-Marie Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg is living proof of this power corrupts the spiritual truth the scriptures tell us this the true poet knows this stands tall above the dancing with word poets who are little more than an instrument of a poem far greater than themselves bar room revolution talk is little more than an exercise in futility take it to the streets be like Walt Whitman walk blood stained battlefields real and imagined tend to the spiritual wounds of your comrades quit trading favors in twenty-eight Baskin and Robbin flavors be like the people of Egypt who risked life and limb for their beliefs be like the anonymous poets of Poland who during the height of government tyranny tossed poems into the public square for the people to read giving them hope in desperate times sitting at Spec’s bar in North Beach downing shots of vodka and shouting,” I hate America," is cheap political theater be like your sisters and brothers in the workers struggle in Wisconsin marching for worker rights love them become one with them shout your poems from town squares and from rooftops in solidarity with them. words can not be danced with they need to be lived Whitman was the Heavyweight champion of poetry stood tall and fearless among the enemy which is never really man but the poison in his soul pride envy lust for power how can those inflicted with this disease write from the heart? one column of media praise is of less value than a single tear-drop on a poem from a waitress in a greasy road stop diner

a poet who dances with words dances a solo dance in a barroom with no jukebox the true poet’s topic is the people not the poet
Fair housing march, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, 1966 (James Groppi, center).
 Wisconsin Historical Society
 1966 Fair Housing March
Lead by J
ames Groppi,