April’s Fools

April, you’re coming down the rails
like a runaway train this year
whose driver had a coronary at throttle,
or is this God’s koan:
a surprise dump from the farm up the road
where in the dark of day or light of night
animals take care of business regardless,
or is this God’s reminder we’re all fools
who live upon the brink of
His Hers Its
mystic whim where divine will or not
is irrelevant in the thick of it

practical effect rules on April 1st
and throughout this spring month
as it does under every moon
—we live
by it …. upon it …. under it ….through it
with it …. in spite of it …. in, and beyond it
and, at least as far as history tells (so far)
no matter what, we skate  past it
in spite of ourselves, so April,
and the rest of you renegade months,

have mercy
and may we take heed in that event
of close calls


Social Distance


….. we’ll ever be able to pick up where we left off
doing the things we took for granted
….. simple, exquisite things such as to hug
….. or simply to be together in space
….. instead of scattered throughout it
….. over miles or kilometers constrained
….. to express our love in bits and bytes
….. by means of a starker sort of electricity
….. of wire, circuit, wave
….. not as warm as that which sparks in rooms,
….. one to one to one, caroming mind to mind
….. in close quarters, in conversation
….. amicable, intense, generous, true
….. when we’ll be able
….. to breathe the same air
….. without fear of viral interlopers
….. which by some universal whim
….. have chosen us as their means
….. of sustenance and propagation,
….. is the natural question leading to
….. the other never-answered question


Jim Culleny



Grandpas Cup
this is how I most
remember her I’d have been
maybe nine I walk to her house
we have tea at her table
I ask for grandpa’s cup
which she brings from her pantry shelf
and sets it on the table
pours hot water into its metal
beige enameled bowl
with light green steam-blessed rim
adds a teabag a little sugar
I stir and sip as she
in Slovak-embellished English
asks about my day and life
to the background atmosphere
of chicken boiling in the soup
she made so well
and calls me
………… I have that cup

—when the house was sold long
after they’d gone we were gifted
with a last-chance tour
and there’s my grandfather’s cup
on the shelf where it had ever been
as was anciently told
I asked and it was given

Jim Culleny
© 6/7/19


1. The Adze

I’ve never been a mathematician
physicist or statistician
but, as a carpenter who aspires
to be a word magician,
I can fill you in on certain facz
such as the irrational condition
in which, at least from Mesolithic times,
the framer’s friend, the adze, subtracz

2. The Hammer

A hammer’s not a thing of glamor
unless you feel its weight
when you grip an Estwing’s shank
and swing it up to bring it down
to drive a nail into a plank
you realize its simple grace:
its elegant utility as whammer
and if your nail’s a driven flaw
you always have its graceful claw
to  dis-articulate your curse and stammer

3. The Spirit Level

A spirit level’s used to set things straight
with the plane of the horizon as in a beam
or plumb as with a stud to make sure
structure’s right by spirit
you breathe deep and easy and hold the level
so the spirit bubble floats in the small arc of a glass flask
dead center which if placed upon a joist would say,
this floor is level
being on the level
good way to be
Jim Culleny

Old Music

were filled with the gusts of it

floor boards
were rife with the dust of it

stuffed couches
cradled the lust of it

mom’s bread
was baked to the must of it

King Cole crooned through
the crust of it

time will never manage
the bust of it



“Optimism is so difficult to keep, yet, after all this, it persists.”
…………………………………………………………………..  Vytrvalý Nádej

Abstract in nature, yet so very important to it. He is the warning sign, 

the innervision to peace or self-destruction. Calmly and confidently in 
eyes wide open he watches and protects the inner being of innocence 
and the beauty of nature inspires him to love and give. He is not ugly! 
And the prince is not a prince. But he can be crazy like a poet 
clinging to the words of Gods and Demons and the drama of your 
sneers and snickers of him. This is love for all of you stuck in 
boredom and the intense madness of our darkside. In the danger of 
the Forest he does not seperate his emotions. He struggles mightily to 
control his mind is open to suggestions if you really want to be 
human. Lean on me, he expresses sincerely, lean on me. The water 
has stopped breathing. The air is bleeding confusion. The Earth is 
beginning to swallow up the young. The threats of mass murder and 
extinction are all around him. But yet, he sits there as constant as 
ever, on that log, on that water, in that Forest, hoping, dreaming, and 
manifesting the reality that humility is a blessing and evil… cannot win!

by Umar Bin Hassan
from Poetry International Web



Musical adaptation of a poem by Emily Dickinson

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell.
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Emily Dickinson

Adaptation and Tune: Jim Culleny
Vocal and rhythm guitar: Jim Culleny
Lead Guitar: Joe Podlesny
Bass: Joe Podlesny
Engineering and drum track: Joe Podlesny
Production: Joe Podlesny and Jim Culleny

Two Moon Poems



—for Linda

How did I lose track of the moon?
Living as I do in a place with no streetlights,
a place dark as the inside of my eyelids,
black as the bottom of a burnt pot.

You used to call me, and I’d run out to see the full moon,
a silver hubcap wobbling at the top of the hill, or waning,
a slice of melon ripe as any in the field.

Some nights I’d wake on my own,
my bed lit white and wonder
what my Swedish ancestors feared
when they said, “Don’t let the moon
shine on you when you’re sleeping.”

If I rise then, go into the kitchen for a glass of water,
the moon follows and I realize the danger—
I might wander off looking for something I lost,
something I loved, something that won’t
come around again.

Call me melancholy,
I’ve been called worse.
The moon knows life leans
and fattens, one part joy,
two parts loss, and our job
is to make it come out even.

Maybe it was just a long month of cloud cover.
Maybe it was because your house burned down
and you moved. Or maybe I just forgot
how much I needed to see it—
pizza pan, squashed balloon,
thin edge of a dime

Trish Crapo

—to Pat

a couple of hours before twilight 
a gibbous moon rose east
over the serpentine spine of the mountain,
a bright hole in a bluegrey scrim
just there without reason,
as uncomplicated and expected
as a shard of granite on the slope of a talus,
as common as the little moons that rise
above the cuticles of each finger
of your familiar hands, as singular,
as sure as the hidden sun it mirrors
and I wondered at what the ancients thought
as it appeared and disappeared
regular as breath, opulent as a third eye,
as crisp as the feel of a January breeze
slapping my cheek as I cross the bridge
from here to there. I’m as stupefied
as they must have been, 
even though I’ve been told that bright hole
is no more than dust and rock
tethered by a wrinkle in space
which holds it in a groove of time
like a stylus spiraling in black vinyl
sending mute tunes, 
hushed as the sure breath
that billowed from our mouths
as we threw row cover
over the kale

Jim Culleny

Remembering my father —Four poems

James Thomas Culleny 1918-1980

1. The Tongues of His Black Boots Say

as my father sleeps the world goes on
his work boots are by the door
he left them there unlaced
the right run down at the heel
the left’s toe scuffed
his blue shirt hangs on a hook
wrinkled below the belt line
where every morning
its tails were tucked

there’s no forgiveness in pasts
just now and here, defeat
is the hardest epiphany
the tongues of his
black boots say

2. Again

My father at the kitchen table
in a rare expression of mystery
said, I think life is a cycle
but he was not a mystical man to me,

nose to the grindstone he ground
day after day, pressed
by incessant work, bound
to contingencies
like Sisyphus to his stone
linearly, but uphill
in his black boots and socks
his blue shirt and pants
cinched with a black belt,
sometimes a fedora,
often a smile through
cigarette-clinched lips,
he trucked on (unbeknownst to me,
and despite his flat trajectory)
mulling over vicissitudes,
contemplating repetitions,
weighing the properties of circles,
as does any common philosopher
hoping to unravel the hiddeness
under blood and bone,
coming to the conclusion
that to begin again
was the only thing that made sense
to him

3. Now I Know What He Meant

—I’ll have that done in no time, my father would say
I’m in the midst of a moon
(as the Lenape called  them)
dead center. It’s Thursday
dead center, too, of the week
I’m at the pinpoint of noon poised
precisely at the day’s fulcrum
just thirty seconds into the minute
at point five Oh! of that second
and a breeze blows
across my cheek
which the sun warms
in no time

4. Hummingbird Acetylene

The  turquoise flame of a hummingbird’s head
is a blazing torch of acetylene

burning, as when my father put a welding tip to steel
joining parts of his world with the bluegreen flame
he held between
Hummingbird 01

This hummingbird burns in afternoon light
at the mouth of a flower in god’s machine
jabbing her tip at a perfect hour
joining his flame to mine
in a darting iridescent gleam