mind stretched
in so many different directions
that it is a freaking wonder
of wonders
that it is there at all:
everything collapsing
on top of itself;

and yet, next week,
I travel over 400 miles
to be there for the high school graduation
of my youngest daughter:

but, commencement of what?

commencement of the end of this planet?

commencement of the beginning of the end?

here I am, a grown man,
standing alone in a field
of shattered dreams,
of silenced screams,
of our inhumanity to ourselves,
and I have no answer:
I am vacant,
I have no descant,
I am merely remembrance,
not quite transcendence,
but equally

whoever is in control,
(and mind you, I have neither time
nor patience for conspiracy theories),
please, please, please
will you simply release us
from your sharp-taloned clutches,
let us fall free down to the ground,
from which we sprang;

we are sorely tired of the battle,
and do not care who won;
we are only desiring
the peace of the undone;

if you must, lay upon us your planks,
and carry yourselves over our ranks;
but do us only one favor:
on our defeat, do not savor;

it will come again, a long time from now,
to devour you,
and your mercy now,
might one day absolve you;

we, the defeated, offer no counsel
to the victorious
more than simply that winning
may not always be so glorious;

go, then, as you must,
to seek gun barrels
instead of trust,
and know then that you seed
far more than you will need,
far more than you will reckon,
but so much more
that will beckon,
and cast aside your creed,
and leave you bent,
upon your knees.

June 18, 2010, for Rianna Susan Pursley, my youngest daughter of three such, in whom I present my very best work in this life. She graduates from Yorktown High School on June 24, 2010. I love you, RiRi.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Lightning in a Jar

[Note to reader: The following came to me as a PowerPoint slideshow attachment forwarded by my pal Darcey Bellington. The slideshow features some haunting background music, and some gorgeous graphics. Since I am PowerPoint-illiterate, I have chosen to re-type the powerful message so that I can share it with a wide audience. If you would like to get the slideshow, send me an email or a private message, and I will forward it to you.]

If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 Americans (North, Central and South)
8 Africans

There would be

52 women
48 men
30 Caucasians
70 non-Caucasians
30 Christians
70 non-Christians
89 heterosexuals
11 homosexuals

Six people would possess 59% of the wealth, and they would all come from the USA.

80 would live in poverty
70 would be illiterate
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying
1 would be being born
1 would own a computer
1 would have a university degree

If we looked at the world this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious. But consider again the following:

If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won't live through the week.

If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, or were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.

If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion people.

If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world's population.

If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet, and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are a rare individual.

If someone sent you this message, you're extremely lucky, because someone is thinking of you, and because you don't comprise one of those 2 billion people who cannot read.

And so?

Work like you don't need the money.

Love like nobody has ever hurt you.

Dance like nobody is watching.

Sing like nobody is listening.

Live as if this was paradise on Earth.

Send this message to your friends.

Bypass those who are determined to see the worst in the world, no matter what.

If you don't send it, nothing will happen.

If you do send it, someone might smile while they are reading it, and that will be a positive.

Apart from that, simply have a nice day.

-- Author unknown, circa June 15, 2010.

mi amor de siempre

breathe deep,
and inhale me,
as I do You,
every moment
that we are
wound tight
against each other,
our sweat
(Your glistening)
in a sea of sheets
beyond recognition,
pointing the way
only to sated souls,
clinging to each other
in an ever-growing sea
of emotional insecurity;

take comfort,
mi amor de siempre,
as I do, each time
we touch eternity,
as was always
meant to be;

draw me close,
never let me go,
be my heart,
be my host,
be all that I know;

You are my alpha,
and my omega:
my Only One,
even when this life
is undone.

June 9, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Български rhapsody

and then,





then wemixitupabit:

one never knows;

always moving,
always exciting,
Bulgarian music
strikes like lightning,
and strolls
like clouds passing.

June 10, 2010, for Kat.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

slow down

slow down,
cut your speed,
and let me love You,
in every way
that You need:
let me please You,
tease You,
do everything
that will release You
scour You
of all those past miseries,
all that make for
of love forsaken,
of elation
never taken
to its natural release;
please, please, please,
let me adore You,
let me restore You,
to Your rightful pose,
what any fool knows:
is above me,
some unknown
some something
that will let us be
simply One,
never to be undone,
merely us two,
wound and bound
into a simple,
gleaming song
that is never more
nor less
than simply
slowed down,
into One.

June 8, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



in the dark,
where it is damp --
the moisture,
supernatural --
and the resulting
of what lies
just out of reach;
reach for me,
my Beloved,
even though
I am no Jesus:
I am not even Saul,
I am no one
except the one
who adores You,
who will guide You
to safety,
in my abrazo,
so final,
so extreme,
so unrecoverable;
I am Your goal,
as I must be,
if You are to survive
the clutches
of the dark hands
that lie just beyond
Your view;
lie with me,
my one-and-only,
and know
the safety
of my everlasting embrace.

June 8, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


March 26, 1982, number 2

I was on fire
with a sense of
and you lay serene
in your
sea of tranquility;
and with every rung
that we climbed,
it never once
crossed my mind,
that you were
all at once,
through with me;
when that moment came,
and I heard its name,
I stood hollowly,
not at all in a pose
that showed the best
of me;
I looked entranced,
vacant, askance,
and I had nothing,
absolutely nothing
with which to advance;
I regret my blindness,
even to this day,
since what we had
never should have been
thrown away --
torn up, like so much
and put in the street,
for dark night forage --
we once were special,
and I regret that we
turned out to be
plastic, not metal.

April 15, 2010. Like most disasters, without this one, I would not be in love with the Wifey today, so the silver lining lives.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


sitting there,
same spot where
I've sat for nearly two years,
and with all my
observational powers
in full bloom,
I never noticed them
before this morning:
over a hundred feet
of grapevines,
lush and full,
with big leaves and
hundreds of clumps
of tiny green grapes,
all along the fence;
I'm going to keep
my eye on them,
even as You slumber,
too far away:
later this summer,
we'll make wine.

June 6, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Nick Kristof had a tumor and we are both happy now

you might not even know who he is,
but he's a major league columnist
for the Grey Lady,
where I have never managed to land,
even though Dana Pangaro and I
pledged to meet up there
ten years after our high school graduation;

of course, at that time, me and Dana
were more interested in skirts and skiffs
that ledes and riffs on the latest political mess,
if it glimmered in the shade,
and shimmied in a dress,
we were all over it;

which is partly the explanation for why
thirty-eight years later,
that we are both doing other things
(although still skirt fans,
not so much on skiffs anymore);

so I read today that Nick had a big brush
with mortality recently:
a tumor on his right kidney,
and suddenly, he said, not much else
was important
but living some more;

I have been subscribing to that
credo for a while now,
for different reasons, but similar
enough, that I can relate:
kiss me now, not later,
tell me you love me today,
not tomorrow,
and let me go ahead and play,
and leave the sorrow
for another day,
maybe far away;

in your mind's eye,
the best camera going:
a big, brutish sort,
filled with heart and soul,
and damned well worth knowing,
who knew his way with words
and who was not afraid to let
words have their way,
who was always happy to arrive,
happier still to stay,
and always sad to leave,
always fearful of being a stray;

looking at that dark door,
and wishing it away,
wishing it away.

June 5, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the hearts of angels and the instincts of toads

however risky,
gives bourbon
its proof:
sublime, sipped slow,
it both reminds
and forgets
wasted youth;

if you want truth,
go find a history book,
these lines are only
a single look
at what has passed,
what did not get
at Auschvitz,
or Chosin,
or Baghdad;

slip on by,
you of the weak knee,
of the ready, erstwhile
since here you will find none:
this is Us, laid bare,
curses and blessings
all wrapped up into one,
foibles and follies,
and baby girls dressed up
like porcelain dollies,
and men made to stand tall
and die,
when they would rather have
simply laid with their women,
who still cry
for love taken from them;

oh pity, and reverence,
and all that they pretend,
will not accompany any one of us,
when we meet our end;
not goodness, nor mercy,
nor vile intent,
will capture our rapture
or forgive us our souls lent
to lust for power or
greed or any other base seed
that caused us to follow
and never to lead;

hindsight is well
acknowledged in Hell,
as it shows the sufferer
where avoidance
would have served him
to swell;

all of us, consumed,
on an enormous funeral pyre,
stripped of thought,
mystery, and desire;

we stand bleak,
unadorned, naked in soul,
left to seek, blind,
one last roll
of the eternal dice,
which garners nothing;

too much, though,
for some simple lines,
too much history,
for too little time;
let it stand, then,
however incomplete:
that what swallows us whole now,
is the result of our own feat;

we stand at eternity's solemn crossroads,
with hearts of angels,
and instincts of toads.

June 4, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


saying it all

I might spend a lot of time,
jotting down a few lines,
plumbing love's depth,
maybe stick in some rhythm,
get your attention with
some fancy meter,
but mostly it's all the same:
lost, erased, torn up,
fed to the dog,
left in the wilderness on a log,
vanished late at night,
swallowed up in self-pity's fog,
you name it,
and I've framed it,
right then and there;
so imagine my surprise
this sunny morning,
when She said it all,
right into my eyes,
straight-up, with no warning:

"I have to go, in like
five or ten minutes,

but my heart will be with you
all day."

June 2, 2010, for the Wifey. Thanks, sweetie, for letting me steal a line from you for like the one-millionth time.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


A Few Minutes with Betty, Chapter 20: "This Is Mom's Friend, er, Shakespeare, and this Is Dad's Friend, er, Shakespeare"

(or, "Platinum Means Expensive, but Not as much as a Talking Piñata")


"Hello, Betty, you golden goddess."

"That's me; although, my hair is more white than golden now; damn pool and sun."

"Hey, I like the idea of an older version of Betty; what's mom's number?"

"I didn't say gray; more like platinum."

"I guess platinum means expensive."

"Damn, skippy. And my mom is married to my weirdo dad."

"I know, that's why I thought I would fit right in; nobody would notice me."

"That's probably true."

"Well, there ya go. And you thought your family was strange up to now. Heh heh."

"They are."

"I can hear you now, Betty: 'Yeah, and so, get this: at her age, my mom takes a lover. Yes, I am telling you the truth! So anyway, she takes a lover, which is embarrassing enough, but then my dad takes one too. And the kicker of kickers? It's the same lover. The same person! A man. And a friend of mine! I kid you not.'"

"WTF! That is creepy on so many levels."

"See, mad skillz. So last night I wrote my next chapter for the novel, well the first third of it, and then outlined the rest of the chapter since I was on a roll with the action and didn't want to lose anything to my pillow overnight. So I am pretty happy that I finally have stuff down on paper, because by the weekend I had to have something going. I don't want to be the wet spot in the bed when it comes to my other six co-conspirators."

"Ew. Thanks for that visual."

"Oh calm down. And if you know where all the bus stops are, seems to me that you might have spent a little time riding the bus."

"Cute and true."

"So the chapter is called Sometimes Life Is Just a Little Too Real, and it features a murder, the aftermath of an explosion with dead bodies and body parts, a gun battle in the street, an unlikely hero, a fugitive from justice, the end of an extensive police sting operation, and a little mystery in the last line."

"Seems like a packed chapter."

"It is, but damn I am enjoying this project. And the elapsed time? About 30 minutes. It flies."

"Wow. That makes me want to write."

"Well, for some reason, with this chapter, unlike the other three, I spent a lot of time thinking before I wrote a word; I didn't even have the title until last night. The other three chapters, I guess, where more setup chapters, where this one is bringing stuff together, finding resolution, etc., so I have to write much more carefully, things have to fit with other things, etc. But it's going to be a great one when I'm done, hopefully tonight sometime. And we are up to 24 chapters, with at least 6 or so being written at this time."

"You all are really on a roll. Well done."

"Yes, I am pretty pleased. Plus, they are all so much damn fun to play with."

"Be right back, I need to go get something to eat."


"I'm back."

"Well that's fine; it's not as interesting as your front, but it does have its advantages."

"Ha ha, Shakespeare. As if."

"I remember years ago, seeing a woman somewhere, maybe the beach or a pool, and she had a tramp stamp, and it read: 'Exit Only, Buster.'"

"I use that as a running joke in my house. I'm still trying to find the time to get my belly button pierced."

"I imagine there must be some traffic collisions in that joint. I thought you already had it pierced."

"No. I did, then I got a new button."

"Ah, yes. Nip and tuck."

"My children think it's funny to punch me as hard as they can in my stomach since I can't feel it. I'm like a party game or something."

"A talking piñata."

"That's me."

"Well, I am going to run along and see if I can pound out a little more of the new chapter before I move out to the day's excitement. Talk to you later, Betty."

"No problem, I have work to do and errands to run. Good luck with the writing."

"Thanks, Betty. And don't forget to say hi to mom and dad. Heh heh."

"Stay away from my family, Shakespeare."

June 1, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

a full-blown canter

She tells me that after
all this time,
this time,
She's a little nervous,
as my breath catches,
and my heart
skips more than one beat;

She does not realize
as the best thing --
the brassiest ring --
ever to enter my orbit;

and I attempt to assauage
Her fears, to engage Her
in light-hearted banter,
as my heart breaks into
a full-blown canter.

May 30, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.