December 2017-February 2018

“Scruples” #3 and “A Cabaret Called Janus” were posted in three by 3, December 2013-February 2014 and June-August 2013. They have been recently accepted for publication, the former in a forthcoming issue of  The Columbia Review (, the latter in the October issue of The Open Mouse.(

“By All Appearances” appeared in three by 3, September-November 2013. It was revised in 2016 and this version is posted below.



Lazarus´s alive. He´s eating breakfast
with his sisters. On the table
there´s fresh fruit, hot bread,
enough tea for everyone, including
well wishers who´ll soon
be swarming in like locusts.

Mary and Martha´re crying, but not
for joy. A pall´s fallen over the room.
He´s confused, angry…says
he was on the way to heaven
when it turned into a back
road to Bethany…that
their meddling in his afterlife
did more harm than good.



A Cabaret Called Janus


Downstairs, posters flatter the lobby
with a wall of fame.
Highlighted by a chandelier,
one star shines after another,
starting from left to right.


The man in the dressing room
looks like the magician
among them.
He’s wearing a white tux, matching
cape and sash, fake mustache,
same pearl turban.
The poster also shows him
waving a wand of lightening
over a fiery hoop.

On weekends he appears
after midnight, prime time
for a full house.
His fans watch closely,
never miss a trick.

Soon a blinking buzzer
will upstage the mirror.
By then he should be
all made up, or not.


By All Appearances

Today, at the peak
of my morning walk
along the beach,
I spotted a bottle
which, more than likely,
was marooned by a wave
in league with the tide…

There it lay, lost,
then found, made of gold
mined by the sun,
glittering bright, brighter
the closer I came…
But what I held up
against the horizon
was dark green, skinned
with moss, nothing inside
beside broken shells.

Our showdown was short
lived, ended when
I reached the shoreline,
shut my eyes, cast the bottle
to where it once belonged.







September-November 2017

The current posting of “Scruples” amounts to #’s 13 & 14. The inspiration for #13 comes from a cruise on the Danube River in 2016. As for #14, after a recent reading of a chapbook I published in 1988, I selected one of the poems for a rewrite. Ethics is concerned with true or false; aesthetics, truth and beauty.  These two “Scruples” focus more on the latter.

“Sightseeing over Scandinavia” was posted in three by 3  June-August 2012. Recently, I submitted it to the online journal Verse-Virtual.  Publication was in the August 2017 issue. Their website is:



One good look at the Danube—
                     from bank to bank—
shows it flowing south, of course,
                     broad and deep, a full length
                            channel, the current
                                     more slick than surly…
As far as colors go, teal can appear dark
                      or light, except for a short time
                                    within sight of Vienna…

There the water turns blue, the river waltzes along.



If a bull enters
            a crowded café,
those near an exit
            can sneak out.
Others are better off
            hiding behind a chair,
or under a table…

Alone, at the bar
           a matador on a binge                            
sips another manzanilla…
           Today he fought badly,
more afraid than brave,
            his passes too safe,
spared by a stroke of luck
             during the toque de muerte.

The bull glares back from the bottom
             of an empty glass,
headstrong, looking for revenge.
              Once in the ring,
there’s no escaping a hangover.


 Sightseeing over Scandinavia


Not a road around.
Nor telephone poles.
Just deep green surroundings
stuck with miles of pines…

Dirigibles make our annual pursuit
of transcendental truth a moving experience.
We can cover lots of ground
while floating around, day
after day, at the same height
as any horizon that comes our way.

Scandinavian forests are supposed
to be full of dwarfs.
So far, we haven’t seen any;
only herds of reindeer,
and a preying wolf.

We’re heading towards the sea,
looking forward to the coastline
for a change of place.
There’s where the fjords are, and
maybe a mermaid.
Before running out of tides
or into unfair weather, we’ll
hover over each beach,
searching for a lagoon
that shimmers, sounds like
it’s singing.





June-August 2017

With this posting, three by 3 begins its sixth year of publication. May there be many more–and all for the best!

As part of the celebration, I’m re-posting three of my favorite poems. By giving them a reprise, hopefully they’ll find readers with the same bias! For additional commentary, their original posted dates were: March-May 2013 (“Priorities in Perfect Practice”), December 2014-March 2015 (“Origins on Galapagos”),  September-November 2013 (“The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry”).


Priorities in Perfect Practice


Not only a metronome
plays a key role…

At the piano
sits a virtuoso.
He’ll tackle anything…

Note the ivory steps.
They slope upward,
towards a dream door.
He’s rhapsodizing
over which riff
might make
a break thru.
Also, what will it sound like?

In real life
a living room
houses him.
The walls wear ears.
They eavesdrop
on steady solos.
Likewise, a low
ceiling listens in.

Those are his
full scale critics,
besides a
small metronome
ticking away
on a table.
That’s their measure
for trying out
latent talent.
All he has to do
is follow along.
Whether the door
will wind up opening
hinges on him.
As to when is up to them.


First published in Octavo


Origins on Galapagos


Lucky ducks, though they’re terns,
that can always bank on
a cornucopia surfacing around them?
marooned onshore pools
with kelp, eelgrass, crabs
clinging to the bottom…

Their ancestors also fared well,
as per my post mortem memory.
Enough to establish a flock of birds
with blood lines tied to flowing tides.
My kind died out long ago,
overcome by an unstable volcano.
Had our wings been bigger
we’d have flown off the island;
or swam away if we’d known how.

Likewise, I can recall when
the first newcomber was spotted
poking around one sunrise.
He appeared alone, but as the sky shined
others showed up, mouthing sounds
like “right here” and “Dr. Darwin.”
Each day they arrived early,left
after hovering over scores of nests.

Naturally,they never saw a feather
nor heard us chirping.
We were no more than a body of ashes
left behind like lava–the darkest part
of the sand they stepped on
while doing their legwork
up and down dunes.
They came close, though,
those curious creatures
that ran around
after every tern.


The Likes of Master Shimu’s Artistry


A stream springs up.
Ribbons of currents sparkle
as they curl around rocks;
turning, by late afternoon,
into the deep water
of a long, dark pool.

There and then, its slowly
moving surface features
the likes of Master Shimu
searching for shade
along the bambooed bank.
Are those his eyes
floating among the green leaves
whisked off by the wind?

An eddy enters the picture.
Soon the leaves are drawn
towards it, branching
away on separate waves.
Also, within drifting
distance, the bottom
appears again.

He’s seen enough, though,
for a full day;
between reflections
and the mirror between them…

It’s time
to let the watercolor dry.


 First Published in The Montserrat Review                                                            















March-May 2017

The poems, “Fitting Passage” and “Reel to Real,” were originally posted in three by 3, June-August 2016. Since then, the former was published in the online literary journal The Sacred Cow Magazine, Winter issue ( and the latter is forthcoming in Bitchin’ Kitsch, Vol. 8 issue 6 (

The three by 3 posting can be accessed by scrolling down or selecting the June-August 2016 entry in the archive box.

“A Self Guided Tour of Pompeii” was inspired by a trip taken to Southern Italy and Sicily in October of 2015. Besides the plaques, a field guide acquired at the Pompeii gift shop was useful in resourcing the poem.

A Self Guided Tour of Pompeii


The citizens of Pompeii worshipped lots of gods–
publicly in temples, privately at home.
Jove, Jupiter, Minerva, Apollo, topped the rosters.
Thanks to them fortune fared good or bad.
More, but of lesser stature, meddled in household affairs.
The Lares enshrined within atriums look human,
dress alike, carry buckets laden with wine,
big and small horns for serving.


Tourists visiting the City view Vesuvius
to the north, weather permitting.
Its dark side hides within a deep crater
that can erupt at any time.
The latest, in 1944, lasted a week,
razed an allied air base, neighboring towns,
buckled the strada to Naples.


On display among the ruins
lie mummies from all walks of life.
Cooling lava cast them, by chance,
in their final moments.
They remain mute while plaques
in French, Italian, English,
cite facts and figures
incapable of explaining why.



December 2016-February 2017

The poems, “Seasonal Unemployment,” “How to Succeed in Apiculture,”  and “The Industrialization of Silk,” were originally posted with an audio file in three by 3, September-November 2014.

Recently I submitted them for publication in miller’s pond, an online poetry journal. Consequently, they have been accepted for the Winter 2017 edition. Their excellent website is:

The September-November 2014 posting on three by 3 can be accessed either by scrolling down or selecting that date on the archives box.



September-November 2016

Scruples 12 is an old/new poem. The first line comes from a work written in the mid 1980’s entitled Mirage.  Reading that poem several months ago inspired a revision, leaving only the first line intact. The rewrite became another Scruples.

By All Appearances and Taking a Hunch To Task were begun last year and recently completed.  As a writing practice, I rarely work on more than one poem at a time. These are an exception, with the former finished in February and Taking a Hunch to Task in May.


   By All Appearances


Today, at the peak
of my morning walk
along the beach,
I spotted a bottle
which, more than likely,
was marooned by a wave
in league with the tide.

There it lay, lost
and found, glass glittering
in the bright of day,
shifting from green to gold
the closer I came…


What I held up, against
the horizon, was skinned
with moss, nothing
inside beside shells
and sand.

Soon enough I cast
the bottle into
an outgoing current.
Adrift, it looked
like a floating ray
of sunshine.


  Taking a Hunch To Task


In the midst of this late shift
        he wonders along at a pace
                   of step and stop.
While listening, the watchman suspects
        termites’ re nibbling, more
                    than likely on the roof…

Which rafters…how many moonbeams
ready to splinter, go for broke…?

Guess turns into groundwork
    as he lugs a ladder up,
       against the wall.
It’s high time to climb
   and seek, look down
      on them, warily.





Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder?

How much depends
on the way it’s concocted—
in a half filled glass, with
or without water, one
to three lumps of sugar.

As for when, anise tastes
bitter from the first sip…
After a few more, spirits
fresh out of the bottle 
serve memories right, stir up
mixed feelings.







June-August 2016

This posting has no Scruples,  these poems stand alone!

While living in Brazil, I would visit my parents during the Christmas holidays. They lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. Tyrone Mall. a local shopping center, is the setting for Reel to Real.  At the turn of the 21st century I retired. Most retirees make a speech for the occasion. I wrote a poem —A Farewell email.  Fitting Passage is a recent poem,  begun in 2013 and finished in 2014.


   Fitting Passage


What cargo awaits
                   the train shunted
                          into this kind of siding
                                in the middle of the night?
A lone locomotive
              coupled with odd
                        numbered cars
                               chugs ahead.
Clear signals keep it on track,
               right from wrong
                          seen as red or green.


The master in charge of the yard
                works long, late hours
                           making haul choices.
Loading starts at whistle stop,
                 ends in time
                            for the likes of dawn.
On his darkest watch,
                  no train can come
                             and go, empty.


      A Farewell email



Ladies and Gentlemen,

         Our Qatar tour went well. To begin with, we performed
at select locations—only those along trade routes. Besides the locals,
nomads, pilgrims, even sheiks with harems came from near and far.
         As for attendance, they came in droves. By mid trip, matinees were
always sold out. The same nightly. Then I added late, late sessions.
         Today the show goes on—finally for the last time. After that, as
soon as the troupe´s packed, a caravan´ll take us to the airport. Everyone´s
flying back except yours truly. Our fortune teller saw me living in Spain
for years, writing my memoirs.
         And how´s the head hunt going? At our spring meeting
we talked about my retirement. When was clear. That left the question
of succession.
         Your choice was Jimmy, the lion tamer. Mine was to hire an outsider.
Someone with an MBA, years of experience, used to travelling on business.
         My sister matches like stripes on a tent. Remember her, the exec
from Tusks & Us that bought our white elephants? Since then she´s been
looking for a job. Months ago I sent you her resume with photos.


                                          With kind regards,



      Reel to Real


She’s waiting in a small cafe,
sitting near the bar.
He’s late. Behind her a Cinzano
logoed clock comes into focus.
Now she looks more worried
than angry…on weekends the curfew
begins in half an hour.

They´re lovers. He´s also a spy
for the allies.
She doesn´t know that;
nor what´s going on
and on, under orders.

Two men in trench coats
had dragged him off a trolley,
into an idling car.
Tires squealed. An armed guard
raised a gate.

The interrogation scenes were
too painful to watch.
Close ups showed the agents
beating him–with their fists,
then truncheons.
They wanted names, dates,
not bon mots about the weather


It´s Sunday. After the matinee
we always stroll around
the mall, window shopping,
looking for bargains.
All aisles cross the food court.
Anyone on our trail would see
us stepping into Hollywood,
where fast food
is named after movie stars.





March-May 2016

This posting comprises another trio of Scruples (#’s 9, 10, 11).  The previous eight and their posted dates are: #’s 1-3/ December, 2013; #’s 4-6/ March 2014; #’s 7-8/ September 2015.

All share the same leitmotif : “The idea of scruples has to do with ethics and morality: what is right and wrong. Scruples are a kind of moral compass that lets you know what’s right.”  ( )

Written with the best of intentions, may they be well worth reading.




Too bad for the jar
of jellybeans
as a cat
with a sweet tooth
shows up, all
at once, out
of curiosity, on
the top shelf…
Worse comes soon
after, when
he starts pawing
around, by
and large, closer,

Their worst off
would be
if, in due time,
he devours
the strawberries,
key limes,
every cherry,
a whole lot
of tutti fruttis.



Today was meant for me
                     to find a starfish
with seven arms, another
                          map stowed
in a bottle, a mixed bag
                                of old coins…

The best beachcombing comes
                        after a storm;
as soon as the tide lies low,
                            more and more
flotsam shows up…

Whatever does can make
                        any day’s luck
good or bad, sometimes
                               in a streak.




Honey—a bunch of Huns
                   is heading this way—
                           astride the mountain road,
                                                  raging at full gallop.

While I fetch the wagon,
                    take a last, fast look
                             around—make the load
                                                    good and light.

Those fiends won’t find
                    a soul to greet them,
                              much less do their bidding.
If all goes well, we’ll ferry
                         the river by dark,
                                    hide on the safe side…
Elsewhere, only a miracle
                   can save our home,
                             sweet home, from
                                                  the likes of them.


December 2015-February 2016

The Middle East was geographically far removed from South America, my home ground. What, then, inspired me to write the poems of this posting?

Aladdin on a Divan Overshadowed by Herr Doktor Freud  was written in 1988 soon after I moved to Brazil. It was my first published poem. A decade later, without any before thoughts, I wrote Arabic Numbers.  The most recent of the trio, The Main Attraction in Marrakesh, was written in 2014.


Aladdin on a Divan Overshadowed
by Herr Doktor Freud

Spot the lamp.
Ogle it.
Then ease into
the tent’s roomy gloom…

Now try your memory.

Start where the oasis
stands at the foot
of the horizon,
highlighted by half a sun
going under
while you’re bent on
sipping spring water
well before darkness.
When it comes
fallen palm fronds
make a mattress
soft enough
for slumbering
under a sheet of stars.

Later, a dream shows up.
It looks like an empty tent
with only a lamp
dangling from the ceiling.
You’re told to enter
through a voice
without a head or tail.
It’s a genie’s,
openly spouting off
about what’s his rub,
and why he wants a stroking.

That’s where you come in,
a child of the desert
with sand in your ears,
armed with a helping hand.
So far, are we in sync, Mr. Aladdin?
Furthermore, was backtracking
the right way
to run today’s session?

Once upon a time
you were gifted with granted wishes
which, in this case,
paired your youth
into before and after.
As such, the latter’s become
a no lad’s land.
Until you’re man enough
to tell the difference,
I’ll sit in for the genie–
grow a grey goatee.

First published in  Poetry Magazine


Arabic Numbers


At the back
               of the patio
I pat the concubine
        with such a light touch
that her skirt neither
        wrinkles nor rustles.
Then I vanish
                behind a curtain,
reappearing in a lamp-lit parlor
where, on the floor,
                there´re pillows for visitors,
                a sofa for the host.
A eunuch ushers me to mine. This time
             it’s lying
                beside the musicians.

The guests’ re friends,
neighbors, merchants from his oasis,
drinking tea, eating sweets, waiting
for the sand to fill an hourglass.

Our sheik´s the richest in Tunis.
Every month he gives away
                        a girl from his harem
                        and two gold rings
to whoever she chooses.
But before that her dancing must make
            his heart beat like a tambourine,
                  ours like hyenas in heat.
Tonight he´s promised to unveil
                                            an Egyptian.

I see a face in the hourglass,
       hear her whisper my name,
               and in the same breath, seven.


The Main Attraction In Marrakesh


On weekdays, as a rule,
the market opens
after morning prayers,
closes before evening call…                          

The old wall looks like a floor
covered with rugs in a range
of sizes, shapes, magic colors.
Whenever the wind blows,
they wave for attention.

Perfume vendors mind booths
lined with shelves.
They sell by scent, amount,
choice of bottle.
Each promises more
than he can deliver.

The spice stalls make
breathing a pleasure.
Deep draughts, one
after another, bring out
their best and worst.

In a tent armed with guards,
there’s much to see,
but not touch.
Glass counters, aisle
by aisle, showcase rare gems,
jewels fit for a sheik.

Tourists are always welcome,
even those who only
browse, complain about
the dust and heat.
Shoppers with hard currency
can buy whatever they want
without haggling.

September-November 2015

Time for another posting of Scruples? Numbers 4 thru 6 were posted in March of 2014. This time, it’s 7 and 8, the latter with an audio file. (Clicking on the triangle initiates playback).As for timeliness, both were written since the previous posting. They are the most recent poems published in Three by 3. The third poem, What’s in the Attic?, was written as recently as the Scruples entries. A first version from 2013 was revised in 2014, which is the work posted.

Scruples 8



Bigfoot is back in season, should
      show up the more it snows,
              leaving fresh tracks
                   there and then.
After a while, trails will
       appear, clear cut
               enough to follow.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
Mounting a search party
         takes some choosing.
Members must be as brave
          as savvy, able bodied, get
                along well, willing to bear
                      the burden of proof.

Once mustered, our mission
        is to make contact           
               with this man,
                     beast, or both.
If it looks harmless and
        waves a white flag,
                 so much the better.



After a while the fountain appears,
as moving as ever, water galore
from the mouths of cherubs
streaming into a pool.
The coins come from elsewhere,
airborne, toss ups
that started out as small change.

They lie, by chance, scattered
about, some sparkling
like new, others mistaken
for moss.
Those down the drain, sight
unseen, might
be twinkling in the dark.


 What’s in the Attic?


One small, bare window
above the rafters,
under the roof,
lets all the light in.
During the day it comes
from sunbeams. At night,
star bright and moon glow.     

Boxes, stacks, piles
of something or another
have their place.
So does a door
the size of a hatch,
which opens up, shuts down.

Now you appear with more to store.
Not much room left– 
shelves are full, space is tight,
air cluttered with ghost dust.
Time to clean out the attic?
It´s long overdue.