Realm Of Possibilities

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

at nine in the morning
outside an Oakland subway station
a young man sits at the bus stop
with a bottle in a
brown paper bag
drinks some wine
smiles at a dog running by

he asks me
if I'm a student on my way to school
with all these books in my hands
I say no, I'm an English teacher
he says, "oh, I liked English when I was in school
but I dropped out and went to the war
and never went back to school"

he offers me some wine
and asks me
"do you ever think about
the realm of possibilities?"
I stop, startled.
he says, "the realm of possibilities . . .
I think about it a lot.
all the different things we might be doing.
all the different people we could be.
my friends don't like it when I
talk about it.
they don't wanna hear it.
but I keep thinking about
the realm of possibilities . . . ."

Ever since that day I think of
I dream of a sea

and walking
                    into the 

suddenly surrounded by
waves               water           tide               roaring
          crashing           foam          rushing               water

diving into the

where I can

the realm

The Dreamer

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

Joseph forgave his brothers
for throwing him into the pit
for bloodying the rainbow coat
for trading him to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver coins

for it was in the pit
      that his tears watered the barren soil
it was in the dark continent
      that he first saw the sunlight
it was in his prison cell
      that he learned the meaning of dreams

when Joseph returned to his brothers
it was to feed them:
if you want to give, forgive

Indonesian Dreads Singing Marley

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

under a bare 100 watt bulb
in an old hotel in Yogyakarta
on the island of Java
paint peeling under exposed wires
laundry piled under
soot-coated pipes

filtered through cigarette smoke
and beer glasses
in the cool midnight air
to the rhythm of one guitar

in soft voices
filled with longing
we sing
long into the night
these songs of freedom


  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

when no one speaks the word
ghosts haunt the houses
skeletons dance in their chains

our amnesia leads to a new enslavement
we light the match
stick the needle in
lock the prison doors behind us

when no one speaks the words
  Nazi or pogrom
we create our own
concentration camps

working to pay off an empty house
abandoning lovers and dreams
waiting for a cold damp grave


trapped in a cube
eight hours a day
unable to see my fellow prisoners

but every move I make is seen
every word is heard

I return to my other prison
where I eat microwaved plastic
and drink sugared caffeine

so that I can sit silently
in front of another machine

and if someone sits beside me
she is also mute
also still

this is how I spend my days
a free man
living in the land
of the 

Where is the Revolution?

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

Where is the revolution?
sigh the factories of Tianjin
ditches dug with
comrades overseeing them
the shovels and the axes moan

Who will bring the revolution?
sing the mountains of Guilin
the green hills that rise out of nowhere
floating without end

Why revolution?
ask the palaces of Beijing
the Forbidden City closes its gates
snow falls on the stones of the Great Wall

When will the revolution come?
whisper the terracotta soldiers of Xian
the great Bell Tower peals
the ringing and the rhythm

What will the revolution bring?
cry the farms of Shaanxi
endless fields of endless green
the Yellow River glows
in the red light of the sun

How will revolution come?
calls the Temple of Heaven
the railroad stations full of dust
the concrete apartments beyond the hotels
the poet looking over Tianianmen Square

And where is the revolution?
sigh the factories of Tianjin