Yeah, there were brats. You couldn’t avoid them.

And broken glass. And sirens at midnight.

It’s what we could afford where we were.

Oh, what a neighborhood!

Riverside 1~*~

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How can you not appreciate the way the word flows on the teeth and tongue and along the lips?

Given its name, Oyster River, in the Lenape tongue for the profusion at its mouth in Chesapeake Bay, the word ripples and sings.

Upstream, where I lived, a different name would have been fitting but, I’ll presume, no more beautiful.

Susquehanna 1~*~

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The prose-poem presents a subtle challenge. In theory, it should be a natural fit for the English language. In practice, however, what I see all too often is simply wordy prose. Somewhere, the poetry gets trapped or tangled or loses its spin.

Coming across a guideline to keep a prose-poem under a hundred words spurred my thinking. As I considered revising a clutch of drafted poems, a sensed an opportunity. Recast without line breaks, they flew – especially when I removed the punctuation that pushed them toward prose.

I’m satisfied with the results, which I feel are more powerful and vibrant and authentic than either a straight-prose or straight-verse version would present.

Take a look for yourself. Just click here.

harbor cover.jpg.opt370x493o0,0s370x493~*~



“Hey! You! Come here!” Black man, about thirty, in Pitt sweatshirt and Pirates cap, stands at the fence and motions one of the tough talking grade-schoolers over. “I said, Come here! Yes, YOU! I’m warning you, leave my daughter alone. Don’t call her, don’t talk to her, don’t approach her.” He fiddles with his car keys. The kid smirks. “Listen to me,” I suspect he wants to add “you little asshole,” but he restrains. “If I ever hear that you’ve said anything like that again, you’re in deep trouble. Understand me? Real deep trouble. And that goes for my wife, too. You’re to leave them both alone, got that. You can tell your mother what I’ve said to you, I don’t care. You can tell your pa, too. I don’t care. But I’m warning you, hear?”

(The blond brat, walking back to the pool from the fence, smirks to his buddies.)

I’m itching like crazy. This has been going on the past two weeks, ever since the first flea bites. Those are gone now but the itching gets worse. Hellfire. Mites? Fungi? Anemia? Allergies? (WATER! Hot showers or swimming?) Negative effects from the sun? First sunbathing in three weeks: my tan’s faded to half.

Hot shower and soap up thoroughly. No relief.

Much lotion, which I’ve been using for a week and a half anyway.

Iron pills.

Spray, for relief: Solarcaine. Tinactin. Bactine.

Avoid water now. Salute the dad.

Riverside 1~*~

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It’s life in the inner city, usually not far from downtown and often in an enclave near the river. High density population, at least compared to the suburbs, and filled with children. Usually blue-collar or poor or a mix of students added in, it’s noisy and lively, even colorful in its urban decay. You can walk to the store or corner bar.

We lived on the second floor and later, a street over, on the third.

That’s where these poems originate and resonate still.

Riverside 1~*~

For your own copy, click here.


What may appear to be a lazy river meandering amid its wooded isles deserves consideration and room to run wild.

Passions arise and freeze over. The flow dwindles to rock. Rats run along the shoreline of factory brick at the dam. A few miles on, either direction, the dairy herds gather.

All of it reflecting my soul when I lived there.

Susquehanna 1~*~

For your own copy, click here.


I never know what will show up in our household after a Saturday morning round of yard sales, and Vince Passaro’s novel Violence, Nudity, Adult Content is a perfect example. At least it wasn’t another chair.

OK, it’s a catchy title – one I’m afraid generally oversells the story. While the novel’s excellently written, what really strikes me is the way it’s essentially four related novellas that are woven together. And, yes, it is set in Manhattan.

There’s the big law-office intrigue and infighting. There’s the one rich client’s murder case. There’s another lawsuit resulting from a brutal sexual attack. And there’s the marriage with two young kids that’s coming unraveled. (So far, it’s not that different from the three stories in a single television episode of Love Boat, a formula that quickly spread across programming. Here, though, the braiding feels more integrated into a whole. Well, not everyone was on the boat at the same time, in effect.)

Now, for a little confession. In a more conventionally structured novel, I will often leap ahead somewhere around the middle to the final pages. If what I find there makes perfect sense from what I’ve already learned, I’ll likely drop the book – perhaps picking it up later and skimming for supporting details. Of course, it the plot’s much thicker, I continue on the linear course.

What I found myself doing in this case was jumping from page to page to pick up just one of the threads, all the way to the end, before returning to the point of departure and following another thread the same way. Hey, I was pressed for time! The fact that one of the threads, presented as emails, appeared in a different font made the process that much easier.

So I’m left wondering how the author would feel about readers like me. Or whether an author even cares how a reader moves through a story.

Maybe it just depends on the book. Or an ego.