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Across the Border

Daily Dispatches


I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing

— T.S. Eliot, from East Coker

1. Mornings …


I must again urge myself out of the restless fog

of this nightmare, put on clothes

the man I used to be


once wore, gather documents and drive off

in light rain to the checkpoint,

lowering the window,


handing the guard a file, beseeching him

as I had done the day before,

and the day before that,


glazed eyes begging to take pity on me,

please let me pass, go home

to that sweet house


in the woods, the long and easy front porch,

Persian rugs on wood floors, worn

couch, family photos


climbing all the way up the creaky staircase,

but the stone-faced sentry only

shakes his head,


a mechanical voice crackling through a speaker:

Address not on list of known domiciles,

a gloved hand reaching across


the breathless chasm, curling passport stapled

to the folder, bold letters stamped

across the blue cover:





2. Afternoons …


I wander this unfamiliar landscape,

a ghost searching for the undaunted man

I used to be in store windows,


in stagnant ponds, in the eyes

of people who don’t know I’ve lost my place,

a homeless soul poking through


dumpsters for fond memories,

searching for trap doors under rugs, passwords

I’ve forgotten, a hidden path


over the mountain to take me back

to the old country, leaves on trees, vegetables

in the garden, grandkids in the treehouse,


me sitting in a porch rocker, azaleas

in bloom, phoebes in their nest under the eaves

sweat on my brow after mowing


the sweet green grass, a car

I recognize coming down the long driveway,

a pitcher of iced tea on the glass table.


 3. Evenings …


I watch Jeopardy, Wheel

of Fortune, turn up the volume

on soft rock, stand at the refrigerator without


hunger, filling starless nights with empty calories,

pointless distractions, writing bad poems

of unbearable sorrow


as burnt offerings to the stone-

faced guard, hoping against all hope

to catch him off-guard when I show up in the next


restless nightmare, another fruitless attempt to play

on his sympathies, convince him to let me

pass, but each night he slaps


the pages from my hand, barbed

wire grimace crossing his face as he points

the rifle behind at the line of idling cars, blurred


faces through rainy windshields, a faint whisper

from his twisted mouth, "You

are not alone here."


—SL, New Paltz, NY, December 2023



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Jan 06

Ever since I read the post I have been thinking of something meaningful and comforting to say. So I put off writing a response until now simply because the words fail me.

Just know that my thoughts often wander to you and Patti and they send you both love.

Jan 06
Replying to

Thank you, dear Marilyn.


Larry Winters
Larry Winters
Dec 30, 2023

Keep rolling the view changes

beauty will creep in

as you remember what you have.



Annie Addington
Annie Addington
Dec 30, 2023

So deep and dark, but I am so happy to see it. I hadn't seen you in a long time and I got the letter from Ed McMann about Writers Read. I was going to contact him to make sure you were alright, Boss. Much love and may 2024 shine the LIGHT on you . ❤️


Gary Allen
Gary Allen
Dec 30, 2023

Some end-of-year darkness (thanx, I needed that).


Dec 30, 2023

A big hug my friend. Very big.


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