Holiday Songs and Kisses



By Ruben Santos

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Holiday Songs and Kisses
came from ideas I had while attending a spiritual support

group in Chicago called The Living Circle. These poems

express my longing, as a Gay man living with HIV, to connect with

my partner, friends and family as well as geniuses of art and literature

in order to find spiritual enlightenment. They are personal poems yet

convey universal themes for meditation that are inclusive of anyone

who attempts to sympathize with others and love another human

being. These poems transcend the faults of disability to praise others

with songs, words and kisses. This book comes as the reward from

much therapy.

Ruben Santos Claveria was born to Puerto

Rican and Guatemalan parents in Chicago

on October 9, 1971, exactly one hundred

years after the Great Chicago Fire. He

was educated in public schools, at Wright

Community College where he was active

on the school paper and Loyola University

where he received a B. A. degree in Creative

Writing. He lives in Mundelein

 with his partner Mike Zebig and a large collection of books,

music, and classic films on VHS



 This Book is Dedicated to my Partner Michael Frank Zebig

Who made this possible by bringing

So many Christmas songs into my life

--Christmas, 2008



All poems written by:

Ruben Santos Claveria

Mundelein, IL

773 642-6019 (cell)

Copyright @2009 


Jose Feliciano got the Blues?

Diablo! I don’t accept the life I

Was born into so I mean to change it

And create myself all over again

Collecting the data of human history

That has made many people millions of dollars.

I’m not saying that I’m filled with

A million dollars worth of education

And if I’m capable of such enormous

Weirdness like a Frank Gehry sculpture,

I understand the monumental sense of

Awareness required for the use of such

Grey matter. Maybe I should accept

I was born into a family full of alcoholics

and my illusion of greatness

Will blow in the wind with the rest of

Humanity’s ashes. But a million dollars

Does make you suddenly important in

America. No longer a poor slob,

But a pauper in a condo drinking

Thirty-dollar bottles of champagne.

No longer a victim of urban manipulation,

But a big time rider of a shiny vehicle with

Loud speakers, heavy bass, and badass rims.

God Bless America then. No joke.

I remember reading Jose Feliciano played a

Version of the Star Spangled Banner that

Sounded bluesy and the ballpark booed him.

How dare him mess our beautiful song, they said.

And that says a lot about America.

We just have to accept it and share the world with

People’s idea of perfection.

If you can’t be a independently spirited commonwealth,

You might as well dye you hair blonde and join

The festivities. I should know, I’ve tried, but

Being a blonde is not easy. There’s always someone

There on the dance floor wearing a skull-mask and

Making you feel weird. We just cope with that weirdness,

Maybe it’s not enormous weirdness of genius,

But that ordinary weirdness, like fazing someone out

Because they treated you like a jerk and

You’ve stopped listening to the complaints and

You’re planning you’re escape from a relationship.

Seasons of Love

The changing reds and oranges of the seasons belong to natural landscapes

As much as artists try to make it theirs. I once walked through the

Art Institute mystified by the many ways artists have tried to paint

The lilac-blue skies, the deep green of trees, the spritz of rainbow colored

Flowers. One flower and six billion variations.

I try to see spirituality in a time of hard truth and fact telling, because I

Believe that every historical moment with social significance has a

Spiritual significance. I create something deep and profound from

The cool winds of autumn and the yellow leaves of November. I think

Of time and mortality, the belly of the tide turning in its black sleep,

The silk dress of pink morning-clouds falling to the floors of dawn.

Big clocks tick away our days and don’t assign any urgent purpose,

No mission on earth. How long will I live on this cooling warming marble

Of a planet? I look for wisdom after suffering and healing but only

Find the strange language of poetry. Some artists paint the face of sorrow

And disappointment. and hope that it helps to acknowledge pain and healing.

Everywhere there are the signs of illumination. Rimbaud in his book “Illuminations”

Used “Cherubin,” “Calvaire,” and “Saint.” String these words together and they sound

Similar to my name, Ruben Santos Claveria. Is this how God tells us he loves us, through

The gift of creation. It made me believe that genius sometimes can be close enough

To God that they can almost get him on the phone, blabbing about the past, present,

And future. I read in the paper on the day I wrote this that a gay dancer who inspired

A Madonna song died of complications from AIDS. Should I be sensitive to

Even a dancer’s moves and see a portrait of spiritual life in a leap even if

The dancer is Gay? Does God abandon the earth and leave human life up to us

To encode and decipher? I imagine dying in autumn trying to awaken

My consciousness to the chilly breezes flying off the lake toward my face.

In that lonely moment of dying, will I see God and angels in Irises lit up by sunlight

In the Chicago summer? Will the city wires connect us all to dreaming and illusions of

Paradise where every whim is entertained? Will the bright lights of dawn become to

Much that we turn away almost blind?


?Black Santa

All though out my school years, from childhood to adulthood, I never thought out my race very much

And how it mattered. You take your lessons, easy ones and hard ones, and consider the

Fairness of democracy. I was educated by men and women of different races, but they never

Made my Puerto Rican and Guatemalan background an issue. The more I read on my own, the

More I found voices that expressed similar lives to mine.

Because I was taught to respect all human life despite class, race, religion, or sexual preference, I became

An explorer of world literature. I read a little of everything from different parts of the world.

I liked the African American high school teacher who taught me writers from the Harlem Renaissance.

When I went to college, a Jewish woman named Mrs. Rosenman taught me the fundamental elements of poetry. She was very open-minded and she encouraged us to read more. Another Jewish teacher I

Had at community college was Mr. Doberstein. He taught us about the World Wars

And important things like Communism and conservatism in the twentieth century. Those teachers had

A way of instilling confidence in me by encouraging me to learn more. They gave me good grades too.

Those teachers were so fair that I imagined them as having one of every book just like Noah loaded one of

Every creature onto his ark. The more I read, the less confused I was.

I think of the Rainbow after Noah’s flood and the promise that it will never happen again and I look at

All my used books and I see my own personal history. When I see a African-American dressed like Santa,

I think of my high school teacher and see her generosity in the person I’ve become.

Merry Christmas, Black Santa, and I hope you get all the peace, love, wisdom, comfort, good health

And prosperity that you deserve.



?Great Expectations

Learning that I have HIV has changed the way I look at a lot of things.

Medicine has given people hope that you can live longer, but for how long?

I’m starting to gain a new perspective about the possibility of being in love

Despite the limitations and understandable risks of having a negative partner.

Love should exist with limitations and yet I am more cautious than ever with every touch.

I continue to love equally beyond conditions and hope that love will reward me just the same.

Everywhere I looked, I found people willing to give you words of hope.

It’s knowing where to look for help that improves your chances of recovery.

All the therapy I’ve been through has made me think that symptoms need to be managed,

Physical and mental in order to stay healthy. The first step toward healing is recognizing

That you are experiencing symptoms of grief, depression, anxiety, fear, and anger.

People who seek help for these ailments have a good chance toward creating great

Coping skills that turn negative energy into creative energy.

I’ve learnt to color and paint like an Abstract Expressionist finding the exertion

Of color onto paper very self-fulfilling. I don’t expect any of drawings or writings

To go for millions of dollars like Rothko’s and Pollock’s but it makes

Me feel a little better and that’s what’s important.

I went to spiritual support group for Gays, Lesbians, and Transgender people with Mike

And I read a good line from a Rumi poem, “Expecting the worst, you look and

Instead, here’s the joyful face you’ve been waiting to see.” That says a little about

How love gives you great expectations, not like the Charles Dickens book, but in

The way a familiar friendly face can be comforting, a memory that will be there

For you always.

I hope this transition toward these up and coming months will come with minimal pain.

I’ve seen “Love in the Time of Cholera,” Romeo and Juliet, Hairspray, and the West

Side Story with my life-partner Mike and we have seen it as enjoying life together

While thinking out important social issues. We bought books, records, and a bookshelf

at the Brown Elephant, a resale shop that gives it’s proceeds to a HIV/AIDS clinic

For prevention, testing and care. One of the books was about Michaelangelo and

I learned that this famous painter of the Sistine Chapel had a friend named

Cavalieri, whom he loved dearly. If Michael would every marry me,

That would be similar to his name Michael Claveria. I think universal angels bring

Messages of hope and peace to all, especially to those afflicted. I do believe

In Gay-friendly angels and I see their hope in the face of kindness and generosity.

Hopeful faces are everywhere.

November, 2007



??Redemption in May

Many people go through life carrying unresolved conflicts and unanswered questions

And we hope to find a consoling voice to make it easier to survive,

To endure, to heal, to recover, to reconcile, to forgive and to let go.

Many people try to self help to find answers for these unresolved conflicts and go in

Search of healing in the warm breezes of Spring and in the love making of the flowers

Of May.

I imagine having a great spring picnic with Walt Whitman lying with him in the

Deep green grassy fields of what’s left of American forestry.

I would read a confessional, anecdotal poem to Walt about the Nervous, frustrated energy

You feel when you look at beautiful naked statues in museums and you want to

Turn that frustration into the liberation of enjoying the sunlight in the trees, and

The cool shadows they make on our faces. Walt would give a life-affirmative yes to

Looking at statues of naked people even if it’s a buxom person like in a Botello.

Yes, to the feast of color and shape. Yes to this art appreciation of erotically shaped

Peaches in O’Keeffe.

But that is not all. Walt would help you make peace with the urgency of clocks and

Their admonishments of time fleeting. Your obsessions about death will be

Neutralized, just like all dread should be neutralized and the anxiety of night against day

Will cease say, Night has made friends with day and has placated all fear of darkness.

Walt would say, “make yourself a harbinger of all the beauty and awful nature of the truth,

And your religions will become your race and your politics will become your liberation.

All contradictions exist and so be it. Then speak not only of human nature but speak

About obsessions with the Almighty dollar, speak of angry grief of gun violence,

Speak of the trials and resolutions of war and peace, speak of the human error of

Cheating the one you love, speak of the forgetfulness of some to remember memorials,

And then, with brotherly love, speak of the peace and redemption you can find in

Vitality of the seasons and all their negative and positive forces.

You are part of the Ocean of Grass that has so vitally become part of your DNA.

You are an original fingerprint of the future.” Then he would sigh and roll over on

The picnic blanket and take a meditational nap with his bare belly in the breeze.




?Hunger for Wisdom

As I got older, in my mid-thirties, I began to wonder how much

Knowledge and wisdom do a truly possess. I heard some

People with not much education sound very wise.

I have to admit that a little education, even self-education,

Tends to heighten your ability to communicate wisdom.

A teacher once told me that learning new words in the

Dictionary can make you wise. I remember one night

Alone after feeling a little depression, I opened a

Dictionary and began to read. Suddenly it was like

A friend trying to explain the ways of the world to me

And my consciousness began to be raised.

These new words sounded so rich to use like

Commiseration, nomenclature, vicissitudes.

All reading is productive and keeps your mind fresh

With lessons you teach yourself, which is the most

Valuable education. Words reward you with positive

Energy. New words give you healing metaphors.

Yet wisdom is not just in metaphor but in that

Moment of self-realization while looking at the

Stars in awe that great things happen in the quiet

Of cool summer stars. You think of stars on

Wintery nights and see more stars being hidden

By those stars and you mind keeps thinking

Of the possibilities of life on other planets

Just like ours.


?Happy Holidays

In the United States people say Happy Holidays to include all people on the earth: the Jewish people

Celebrating Hanukah, Africans celebrating Kwanza, Middle Eastern people celebrating Eid,

Christians celebrating Christmas, Buddhists celebrating Buddha’s Birthday or agnostics

Celebrating the universal holiday season.

In the end we all seem to enjoy good mark down merchandise after the holidays.

The world continues to love it’s religions and the churches are always a source of

Valuable community work. In the end, it’s the mediation of peace in prayer that

Keeps us wanting to be fair and wish people a “Happy Holidays.”



?Meditation on Happiness

I’ve never expected to be completely happy.

Happiness tends to be a temporary state

That we get to enjoy. It’s transience makes

It more precious. Can we consciously

Will ourselves into a state of happiness?

I believe we can only if we allow ourselves

To be satisfied. Being overly satisfied can

Be interpreted as selfishness, which can be

The source of anxiety and disquiet in

Relationships. Too many expectations of

A person will lead to disappointment.

It’s better to expect to receive nothing,

So that you are surprised with an elusive happiness.

Happiness has always been inspired by acts

Of love and charity, but there is always more

Work to do to improve the conditions

Of life for all.

To compare my own sense of happiness with

Others will just make me bitter. I should

Be content when I can find joy in something

Outside myself. When suffering ends and

Healing starts, a feeling of happiness

Becomes more intense. Sometimes it

Happens when we least expect it, at a movie

House, at the gym, while listening to Bach, or by

Reading the Romantic poets or looking at art.

Ironically, I found a feeling of content by

Looking at pictures of the graves of great poets

On the internet. It’s like paying respect to

Men and women who added something to

The way you look at the world, by seeing

Their final resting place and noticing how

Humble a stone it is or how grand a tomb.

e. e. cummings has only a little gravestone

Embedded in the grass with just his name on it

And the years he lived. It makes me happy to

Pay my respects to great artists, who have

Helped us find happiness in moments of peace,

Wisdom, and comfort.

On Healing

The river flow is full of whispers and the wisdom

The river tries to communicate cannot be

Comprehended all at one time.

The river inspired Orpheus to sing songs by a

A river. Li Po may have died after looking too

Closely at his own reflection in the river and

Falling into it. The ancient river of Lao Tzu

Is full of compassion and nourishes with hums

Of benevolence.

The difficulty of suffering becomes simpler

With the melodies that time brings you.

Your mind desires the healing and does not

Want to think of painful moments.

Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, sat

By an Indian river and let time take away

The sorrow and grief.

Loneliness is troublesome and yet solitude creates

A world out of chaos.

An act of creation takes the courage to speak.

Humility creates a coping lesson,

And acts of love and charity spring out of desire

For kindness. The river says share all and be not afraid

For sharing is always returned to you.

The love between men is as sacred as salvation and the love shared by women

Is also a form of redemption.

Tears that fall into a river become thunder before rainfall and

The rain restores all losses. We hold vigil for all that is lost

Painfully in the world. It is like waiting with a candle on a dish

In your hand as the flame burns down.

Happiness cannot exist without sadness just as grief balances out

The joy and all opposites are balanced: hard earth, with the soft earth,

Aggressive winds with the tender breeze, warm heavens with the cold soil.

The mind is exclusive in its gospels with those who care.

It’s the universal metaphor of sky that makes it a healing metaphor for all

People in search of redemption.


Sometimes we see compassion in a kind stranger and it makes us want to

Be kind to people we just meet too. I like to sit in a comfortable chair

With those I care about and talk about compassion and charity in the world.

How the world gives to children through programs created by UNICEF,

How the world cares for the welfare of struggling families,

Makes me want to continue wondering if I could create a sympathetic

Act through writing a letter to the president or to a senator.

The world is filled with books and ideas that teach universal

Spiritual issues like faith and the desire to commiserate.

I believe we can find an awakening in thinking about the source of all

Life. I’ve asked myself who put this life into this apple and who

Created an abundance of apples for all people on the earth?

People read speeches and sermons written by peacemakers

On Nobelprize.org because they hope it will give new meaning

And resolve some conflict. I would think that if more people

Took the time to educate compassion and responsibility to everyone

On the planet that wars will no longer have to exist.

The struggles of poverty, the lack of education, failing health, and

The need for stable housing keeps the world asking God for help

And hoping that people will share in taking responsibility to

Alleviate the pain caused by these issues.

Without connection to the spiritual, people become hurt and distrustful

And bitter, a sense of community breaks down , peaceful attitudes

Are lost and morals no longer seem relevant. That is why it is

Everyone’s responsibility on the earth to make peace with each other so

That progress will keep continuing and allowing great acts of compassion

To bring the earth together in a circle of hope.


All Saints Day

On all Saints day of this year, I thought about

The teachings of Jesus and how they have inspired millions

To believe in them. Christianity doesn’t always make

People distrustful of each other’s morals, but

Allows people to forgive each other and find

Salvation in forgiveness. America is a nation of

Many cultures, beliefs and races and there is no

Universal spiritual religion in the U.S. so everyone

Is allowed to think freely about religion.

I used to let people’s idea of religion make me

Think that I am not included because I am

Gay, Latino and I don’t have very much money.

I tried to find faith in classic literature, in popular

Music and even in rated “G” and “PG” films.

Poetry can help you look at something in a unique way,

Bending and shaping language to make a tree out of clay.

Studying politics can make you feel included in a

Unifying sense of democracy, but politics divides

People too. I once thought that the more you

Study the world, the less spiritual you become

But that is not true. I started seeing mystical experience

In songs with the names of people I know like my own

Name. Bob Dylan writing a song called “Ruben Remus”

And Woody Guthrie writing a song called “Ruben James”

Made me consider that I am destined for something

Greater than myself. I once thought I was straight but

Came out to my friends in the nineties and stopped looking

For the spiritual so much. After the September 11 bombings,

I looked for the spiritual again and found a gay, spiritual

Support group. Combined with therapy, I found

Friendship and brotherly and sisterly love in a place where

I felt partially excluded, a church. I know now that

God works through people’s creations, through their art

And sense of charity. It’s just as powerful as falling in love

When you least expect to be loved, or connecting with your

Friends and family after a long distance. Although my family name is

Santos, I know I am not a Catholic saint, but on this

All saint’s day, I have decided to believe that every act

Of creation has a purpose and that is the responsibility of loving

The healthy and positive creations of the earth.

The Circle of Survival

Everybody goes through cycles of renewal and the fresh green grass of spring

Is the color of survival. The mystical things in nature happen in cycles and

All nature has its circles. It is in this circle of grass that gives new life to

My thinking. I hear the enormous thundering of the spinning earth and imagine

Enormous spirals of galaxies and solar systems just like ours.

I read in the newspapers that Astronomers have found another little blue planet with

Similar combination of elements to allow for life forms to exist.

So much massive creation is going on in the universe and all humankind desires

To find refuge in somewhere, just as I have found a solace of trees in Door County

Wisconsin while looking at the sparkling green waters of Lake Michigan.

I have found comfort in Cherry jam just as I found comfort in some classic books.

There is a great destiny of the earth and that is to make peace with all things

In the process of creating on the earth.






I choose to feel empathy for those around me even beyond flashes of anger.

Thoughts that inspire anger come and go but I don’t let them stay.

I think of paychecks, lovers and friends not making courtesy calls telling

Me they are going to be late, people forgetting your birthday, and

When members of congress appear uncaring when they don’t respond to

The letters you wrote to them at

I’ve been through therapy and I no longer think it’s healthy to throw a fit

And break something important, especially when the problems sometimes

Works itself out. Is it empathy to feel angry with someone and not

Feel apologetic because something has been taking away that could never

Be given back? Yes, righteous anger breaks sweetness on a persons face.

No one wants to be cheated, or left out, or robbed, or slapped.

No one likes to grieve or feel helpless about helping others.

I want the peace and love that I deserve and yet people in this life are

Not always peaceful and loving.

People are still giving up, packing their bags and walking out, refusing to

Take it and take it from anyone. I pray for that divine righteousness and

Divine providence that brings a clear mind during times of spiritual confusion

And that resolves any arguments about this or that. Does God facilitate

Empathy and hope and brings us back to loving kindness when it

Is most difficult? Maybe the angels and God get angry too, with an

Angry tender love that attempts to resolve and explain painful things to

All people. Why are we all so different and yet the same? Why do

We all find ourselves alone sometimes feeling frustration when

We should wait something patiently out? What can make this transition

Easier, is what I ask myself. If only days went by without any hardship,

Without any doubt, if only days flowed smoothing like yellow leaves down

A gentle river, then books would liberate us from the evils of the world.

I am still frightened by the presence of evil in the world.

Evil is to go against seeing empathy in another’s eyes and to hurt someone

Deliberately. Evil is refusing to say your sorry when you know you are wrong.

Wickedness is an official not compensating by acknowledging wars, shootings, diseases being spread,

Racial and political injustice. Empathy is grief counseling.

I give quarters sometimes to pan handlers and say yes to charities that give people

Food, shelter, clothing and medical care.

Empathy is refusing to hold a grudge. Empathy is letting the music unite and not

Divide with agitation. I have read the newspaper and have found grim things

Happening in the world. A world drawn as crowded and full of poverty as it is.

A world far away from Wordsworth’s idea of green healing grassy hillsides.

It is a world of sad film music bringing tears to our eyes.

In an attempt to feel empathy I sent a text message to all my family and friends saying:

“I hope you have a sweet Valentine’s Day! Remember that love is what you make

Of kindness shared by you. Everyone loves flowers but peace and love are greater.”

I received messages in return wishing me the same. This is casting a spell of kindness.

This is putting kindness into action. It is a desire to give beyond selfishness and lies.

It is a love that heals pain that I desire. It is a love that makes peace with the difficult

Things that bring pain. It is to agree with others to feel good about something with them.

It is a warm welcome suggesting you are ready to share sweetness and life.

It is listening to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings(1938) and crying. It is listening

To Pachebel’s Canon in D and feeling love for the elements of the earth.

It is a rain of paper butterflies. It is making peace with God, your family, yourself and

Others. It is your journey to loving the beautiful life forms of the earth.

It is giving happiness and crossing over to healing joy, a joy to give it all away.

The Descent Inward, the Journey Outward

In my denial I tried to hide the truth about my illness.

I have hidden the truth by watching old films that have been nominated for Oscars

And Golden Globes. The truth about myself hides in the classic books

I try to read: The Nick Adams Stories, The Old Man and the Sea, Wuthering Heights

And Jane Eyre, Leaves of Grass, Poe’s Poems, and Emily Dickinson.

I went on the internet and read the poets still alive today and went to

Readings and sought their autograph: Mark Doty, Dean Young, Adam Zagajewski,

Regie Gibson, and Rafael Campo.

I have heard some hard truths told in Bob Dylan’s songs and in everything I’ve learned,

But I didn’t face the facts that I needed help and therapy until a few years ago.

I sought help and I found help in group therapy where I learned that the first step

Toward recovery is recognizing the symptoms of illness and responding with a

Healthy routine to heal from it. I realized that I have phobias, and sleep disturbances,

Depression that troubles my concentration, and occasional delusions, that I

Can change the world for the better all alone. I’ve had strange dreams of being

Betrayed by those that love me, but those that love me are as kind as giraffes eating

Leaves with me from the tops of African trees.

Having HIV still troubles me but the medicine keeps me praying for a longer life.

I am no longer looking for pity and sorrow and charity, but understand that

One day I may need understanding from counselors, social workers, employers,

Doctors, Friends and family.

I can safely say that I have learned to go against the stigma of illness and continue

To recover to a healthy state just by eating well, keeping my mind busy with the arts,

Writing letters to congress for people like me who need housing, food, medical care

And options to get out of economic hardship. Through those years of talking to therapists,

And people like me with similar problems, I have developed strong coping skills.

I look for the songs of hope now and the books that teach me these truths.

Self-help is good if you know what to read and where to find healing thoughts.

I choose to butterfly myself to healing, descending inward into other’s words, then

Beginning my ascent upwards into the blue or gray skies, covered in pollen,

So that I may pollinate the world I know with hope and that constant routine that

Brings me to recovery and joy. All voices are allowed to exist and live democratically

In a world that has been humbled with talking about acceptance.

Thank you to all who have responded positively to my questions, doctors at Howard

Brown, Therapists at C4 Chicago, my loving partner Mike and even Barack Obama and Richard Durbin for

Their insightful letters. I am still learning and becoming a better man more informed

About the world I share with others.





?The Butterflies of Trepidation

I still get nervous energy that brings depressed feelings.

Those butterflies in the belly can’t be caught so easily,

So I guess I’ll let them roam, here and there,

Inspired by trepidation, conflicting ideas that rub together

To create the sparks of anxiety, a sense of falling like

Unabashed infatuation or awareness of foreboding doom

In the real world of news and statistics.

The mind is pliant and tolerant to many thoughts.

I accept that I do not feel happy and safe and stable at all times.

I accept tears when they appear in the corner of my eyes.

I am finding healing and forgiveness after a childhood

Turbulent with angry words and doubts.

The music of the film Cinema Paradiso still makes me

Think of the love I have known in this world,

Prayers that the angst of the twentieth century will end

And remind us of the sweet understandings of growing up

Like getting a thoughtful card filled with loving kindness.

What happened to people with AIDS in the late eighties

And early nineties still makes me shudder with fear and grief

For them. Without medication, 50 T-cells disappear every

Six months or so, so if you started with 500 T-cells, it would

Be a matter of five to nine years before you developed full blown

AIDS. Some people start with more T-cells that others, some

Lose there T-cells faster because of higher viral loads.

This is why hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. passed away

From AIDS complications in the first twenty years of the

Virus, from 1981 to 2001. Half a million lives gone and

Over one million more people are living with it, some unaware

Yet that they have been exposed. In other countries of the world,

It is the same frightening thing, statistics rising steadily,

Thousands more being exposed each year, which makes

HIV/AIDS a pandemic, not an epidemic, because it affects

The whole world. Almost thirty million people are gone

From the world, and thirty million more people are still

Living with the existential angst and grief of losing such

A precious life to their illness.

Medication is keeping a lot of people alive for a lot longer,

But it is still shorting lives significantly. I pray for a vaccine

And a cure. I pray I don’t develop complications that will

Make me sick. I pray the medication will just keep getting

Better so that I could live a few more decades.

It is hard to find companions going through the similar struggles

As you, but when you are do, you count yourself blessed.

I still get butterflies of trepidation that I could be blinded

Years from now or bound to a wheel chair, or homeless

And without anyone to care for me.

Why does It’s a Wonderful Life keep making generations of

People cry? Because people pray that angels will get involved

To help solve the problems of the world and resolve all the conflicts and wars

So that we all may live a life, humbled, accepting, forgiving, and healing of all.

Poems written for Children

Dedicated to all my nieces and nephews


Winter Moon Magic

Silver light


On a spider’s web,


Of scattered stars

In this sleepy song

Through the dream

Prayer and Godspeed are real

Goals and steps

To interconnect

Wildness and stillness

That balances the thought


Whispers spells of words

That make peace

Awaken in the Silverlight

And make right and correct

A wrong between us

Silverlight of the winter moon

Whisper forgive

And bring out love.





Rainbow Heart

Young Boy

Take up your crayons

And color a rainbow

For me. Soon you will

Become a man.

“I know the colors

That spell love,”

Says the boy.

“I accept what you are.”

“You don’t know

What love will

Bring you yet,

Give it time,” I said.

He may not be a prodigy

But I smiled

At him and told him

If he colors a hundred of those

Then he is talented.

“You’re a little Abstract

Expressionist,” I said.

He didn’t get it but

Just kept coloring.

I smiled cause he

Drew a heart and

Scribbled rainbows

In it. “A rainbow

Heart is nice,” I say.

A Rainbow heart

Can heal all like magic.




Little Bird

Little Bird

Fly into the golden cloud

From private spaces into


Little Bird

Fly where you can’t be bought and sold

Little Bird

Sunlight sparks from your feathers

In rainbow colors

And you are free from the

Diseases of the earth

Little Bird

Don’t stay caged but sing

And be yourself completely

Little Bird

Fly into the golden cloud

And let me hear your

Song called “Sympathy

For the colors of the world.”



With an eye-full of

Golden patience

Stay gentle in my hands

And yet be strong,

Keep you petals bright

Yellow, maroon, white.

The streets are bare

Without you,

Sweet flowers.

Love flowers

In every color.

Stay bright yellow

In the bitterly cold springs

And don’t wilt,

Keep your chin up, flower.

A winter swallow hops

Beside you as if to say,

“little thing stay under

My wing, I have made a

Gift from your petals.”

Golden always is your innocence

As long as youth stays full

Of vibrant energies.

Stay bright and sing, sweet bird.

You inspire birds to fly

And butterflies to travel because,

Marigold, all love

Flowers in every color.



Snow Clouds

Intricate as a fingerprint

And mysterious as God,

The lacy cools of snow clouds

Swirl in soft whites and grays.

In the flash of a street light,

A white covered street,

You quiet the mind to think,

And, suddenly, a symphony

Breaks the silence

Emerging from a passing car

As if the symphony came

From a composer’s hand

Inspired by the spontaneous

Turning of the snowflakes.

Each crystal flake

Is as unique as a soul

Thinking thoughts out

In the soft, winter gray light.

The snow swirls on forever

Above the heads of this town,

A swirling eye below the stars,

Intricate as a fingerprint,

To make us wonder

How the universe began.




In the pounding of my heart,

In the rushing of the rain,

Along the rooftops of

This city,

Amongst the swirl of puddles ,

And with the wind against my face,

I ask why does it feel like

It is all working against me?

I walk quickly passed others

Who may be asking themselves

The same thing.

Christmas Songs

Every year a radio station in Chicago plays nothing

But Christmas songs and the winter begins with

Rituals of hot cocoa, apples dipped in caramel,

Baby carrots.

The best Christmas’ you spend with those who love

You and any disagreements and disagreeableness

You dispel because you want to live in a world

Of forgivingness, healing and compliance.

Listening to those songs and a variety of artists

Perform them in different styles, you wonder if

Holiday music is the music that can truly change the world,

Holiday music can make you think kindly of someone

Or something you found hard.

Maybe you’ll use the internet to learn about charitable people on Nobleprize.org and

Be inspired to write to your congress person at Congress.org like I have.

Getting letters back in response is a boast to my self-confidence.

My father is in his seventies and he still works at a hospital

Driving patients around in a bus. Sometimes I’d like to think of

My father whose name sounds very Christmassy--Santos Rafael--

Playing Christmas songs in his bus to fill the air with good cheer.

Or maybe he would like to do that but just does his job instead.

Music can be conflicting to your attention span and make you

Go into a digression or becomes a distraction, yet Christmas music

Can hypnotize you into reconciliation, redemption and sweetness.

My father has read the Chicago newspapers for decades and he

Made me read quite a few articles about this and that,

Blizzards, The Berlin wall falling, HIV and AIDS issuers,

Gun violence, car crashes, robberies and unemployment rates,

War and terrorism.

To think of bad news too much might make someone need

Intensive therapy, maybe even medication.

Yet listening to Christmas songs fills you with hope of consolation,

Hope of charity, hope of receiving the perfect, immaculate gift of love.

In that moment of that holiday song that fits perfectly,

Your symptoms are being managed and you are in a constant state of recovery

From anything that pains you.

Disturbing thoughts go away and you shrug your shoulders saying “that’s life.”

Maybe it doesn’t have to be Christian anymore, but universal and secular snow and

Snowman building. It’s something everyone can agree on, on this sphere of mystery

And uncertainty we call planet earth. After that, problems transform into solutions,

Grief becomes acceptance, and confidence brings a healthy blush to your cheeks.

Love is all the little blue planet needs.


?Candy Canes


Christmas is difficult when you are poor, but

It is not impossible to make it good for yourself.

Some Christmases there wasn’t even a tree

And the apartment was drafty and no one could

Get past their grudges to send Christmas cards.

One year, I decided to send Christmas cards to everyone

I knew, something I have been doing every year for a decade and a half.

Maybe going to a Catholic university made me do that,

But I knew what I would buy for kids if I could,

Those read along recordings and books that come with a digital player

And head phones.

Maybe I would give Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night bookmarks or

Something small to show thoughtfulness.

One year, I went to my friend Mary’s apartment and made a

Christmas c.d. for everyone. Those universal songs that touch

Everyone around the holidays like “What A Wonderful World,”

By Louis Armstrong.

I get a little scared at how needy everyone around me can get

But I try not to lose hope,. It’s like a candle of a chilly moon

On a December night, guiding us to that place we would like to call home.

Who would hang Candy Canes on a plastic tree Made in China filled

With lights of every color of the rainbow and not want to make peace

And be an ambassador of diplomatic thinking.

Love is what makes us all humane in the end. Love is how we are all

Interconnected and responsible for each other even when we chose not

To get involved. Love is what keeps us believing in angels on cards and

Giving in the face of needing.








?Prayers for Safety on Christmas

The Christmas of 2001 was very hard because the whole

World had to get passed it’s fear of terrorism.

I shivered every time a plane thundered passed over

The apartment where I lived. There where nights I fell

Into a deep sleep and could not believe that horrific things

Happen in the world to innocent people.

It’s like the world was walking around in a nightmare and

Was ready to wake up and disappear into the safety of Christmas.

I remember a terrible blizzard when I was a kid in a run down tenement

Building, the wind breaking a window and howling through the

Depressing, cold gray day.

My mother was frightened too and said, “angels save us.”

December of 2001, I went to a public library and read about the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it was written in 1948.

It’s one of the most translated documents in the world.

Then I knew that there are intelligent, humane people in the world

Who dare to show care and help alleviate injustice wherever it


It goes beyond politics to the human and non-governmental to

Feed those hungry and shelter those homeless and give medicine and

Treatment--mental and physical-- to all who need it

Regardless of class, race, religion, or gender.

Walking through wintery days in the city of Chicago can make

You look up at the constellations and think you hear peoples wishes

And prayers for better days.




?Christmas Lights

One Christmas in the early twenty-first century,

I started to read a book of historical pictures called Century

And it changed the way I looked at the world.

I learned about all the conflicts that happened in the twentieth century,

Communism, conservative Fascism, all the wars and attempts at hostile

Take-overs, all the attempts of diplomats to bring the world to peaceful

Diplomatic or democratic states. Protest paintings like Guernica and weeping woman and

I shivered at how cruel man’s inhumanity to man can be.

There were conflicts in Tibet and Burma and South Africa and Alabama, Nobel Prize winners having to live in injustice. I almost lost hope that people will ever agree on any form of politics or

Philosophies, so we might as well prepare for more wars. I’ve decided that there can be no such

Thing as a utopia anywhere on the planet because there are too many disagreements and disputes

In all facets of society, religion, politics, race and even family.

Yet whenever I see Made In China Christmas lights all over the United States like some

Beautiful agreement toward peace-making, I start to have hope again.

The United States is a democratic pluralistic society where a little of all kinds of people

Exist. The Bill of Rights give everyone freedoms that other countries take for granted.

Can poetry change the world for the better, or the American idea of celebrating diversity

Around the holidays. Sometimes these lights shine brighter than all stars

And seem to fill me with a yearning for justice, diplomacy and pleasure.

I wrote a letter to Congress at Congress.org to make myself feel better. To feel like a

Contributing citizen of the world, I wrote that I still buy Made In China products

Because I am of a lower economic class but I would like to live in a world free of terrors of hatred and

Free of the fear of enemies. Maybe the world is just too messed up to get it right and

Make everyone belong. Maybe I should not dwell on other peoples hardship but

Just try to find solutions to my own.

I still think of the world in a post-colonial way and hope that everyone will be given

Opportunities to compensate for all the injustice that has happened in the world,

Including imperialism, colonization, prejudice, religious political supremacy and

Even hatred and fear of Gays, Lesbians and Trans-gendered people.

Every one deserves the right to defend themselves in the face of injustice.

Every one agrees on basic universal human rights but now its time for

Every one to do their part to help with the healing and compensation on all sides.

I hope that one day the world will get it right to stop one heart from aching in indignation.

Maybe I’ll lay on a couch and look at Christmas lights some more until I fall asleep in

My yoga nap and dream of a peaceful world where sad, gray days become silver days

To be cherished as something very precious.




?Snowed In

All the snow that falls in Chicago sometimes creates obstacles

For people trying to get their car started so they can drive to work.

I’ve spent lots of time on trains watching the

City go by with the orange sunset in my eyes, noticing long shadows

On everything. Gray buildings turn pink and blue in the sunsets and sunrises,

Construction workers under streetlamp poles squint and look quizzically at the

Cool air of the avenues..

I’ve looked over peoples books on the train, curious to know what they are reading.

I’ve stared out of the sliding doors that open and close automatically,

Feeling a blast of heat leaving and cool air entering simultaneously and start to think

Amusingly, “So much depends upon an El platform, covered in snow beside the silver

Public trains.” This modernism has changed the way the world is described in the one

Hundred years of passing trains. If Williams was sitting beside me, pushing his

Glasses up and blinking axiomatically in the bright light, I would tell him I still

Like his book, “Journey to Love.” And he would use the American idiom

He wished to capture and say, “it takes a trained objective eye to describe what

This heart may feel, yet romanticism isn’t all hogwash. Thank you and good luck.”

And he would get up to leave holding his briefcase full of sticks that hold down

The tongue while he takes a look in.





?Seasons of One

When I think of seasons alternating, I think of Li Po on a snowy mountain

With a jug of wine. I think of haikus and Japanese and Chinese landscape

Paintings at the Art Institute. Each panel is signifying a season,

Bronze colored autumns, jagged black trees of winters, cherry blossoms

Of spring, life-affirmative greens of summer.

Is there really any spirituality in the skies and the trees and the river and the

Perpetual wild purple irises. Maybe there are no ideas in things but what

They are, materially, realistically. I still look for something mystical

In ordinary things thinking of origin and history.

I love to ponder yellowing leaves in autumn and think of mortality and immortality.

How long will this process continue on the earth?

What is my purpose if any in a galaxy with or without explanations and theory?

That’s what keeps me sensitive about poetry and art, not a metaphor for healing

Or suffering, but the impetus of the stars and their quiet nobility.

Are there signs and clues giving away only part of the phenomenon we call

The circle of the earth. What illumination can we get from the presence of death?

That extreme intelligence is close to what we might know of God?

Some days I go looking for wisdom and only find language? Other days wisdom

Surprises me and I find communion with the warm breezes of the lake or

The fragment of dream I had in an undisturbed sleep, where I am lighting

A candle in a vigil for I don’t know what. AIDS, gun violence, mental illness?

There is no paradise in a universal religion. There is no heavenly utopia.

There is just a glimpse of paradise we hope to find in all creation.





I’m Sorry For Christmas

A Song For Michael Frank Zebig

Christmas 2007

Time has changed me quickly through troubled days,

But you continue to love me just the same,

Despite the sorrow of illness that might come into our lives,

Like those quiet desperate thoughts during lonely drives

Time and love can heal all wounds

But yet we feel heartache in lonely bedrooms,

Of spaces we have shared and memories kept private,

For all that, I’m sorry for Christmas

And it’s never too late,

Time takes love so close to us away

And the sadness makes us hurt so much we pray.

I really asked for nothing but to keep hope and love in life,

And yet we’ve cut so many sweet meals with our knives,

We are as close together as a husband and wife,

Trying to move on and leave the worst behind.

For not expecting this to happen to people like us,

For not being prepared or making a fuss,

I’m sorry for Christmas and still feel it’s the best,

Even when I’m quiet when staring in your eyes before we rest,

I love you very much for being

A great person who gives without receiving.

I’m sorry for those tears

And all those lonely years,

I wish I was there to hold you,

Sorry for not being there to say “bless you,”

I sorry I wasn’t there to hold you.

We deserve to be as happy as we are

Because we never lost hope in our guiding star.

Our love goes on, near or far,

We kiss to heal every little scar.

I’m sorry for Christmas and still feel it’s the best,

Even when I’m quiet when staring in your eyes before we rest,

I love you very much for being

A great person who gives without receiving.







Falling Water

To Michael Frank Zebig

Falling Water, From the roofs

Falling like rain onto the streets,

Falling water,

It’s a river that runs between the things we know,

Falling water,

Running through our homes,

The distance remains between you and me,

Falling water, Running down a stream,

Into the forest, into our dreams,

Falling water,

Searching for the balance between the spiritual and physical.

I sat by the river and wept

And felt the wind and the leaves move all around me,

Love has whispered it’s name,

Through the river that runs,

It’s always the same.

Love has finally found me

And that was the secret in the river’s stream.

Love, love, love, love, love that was around me

Love, love, love, love, love that felt like destiny,

Falling Water, Down a mountainside

Back to the ocean, back to our lives,

Falling Water, making full circle

The balance of this and of that.

I bid my love, not to leave me

Stay close to me

I asked my love “Do you really love me?”

And he said, quietly,

Love, love, love is all around

Love is all around you always

By Ruben Santos Claveria

October 21, 2007











Autumn Night in Cool Dark Blues

(A poem for Bobby who disclosed his HIV+ status on myspace)


We choose our suffering,
just like a child chooses
his favorite color of crayons
and draws a sad face.
We all walk alone sometimes,
in those early morning hours
when the cats are seeking
a place to hibernate in
the cool autumn night.
If I were a child again
I would draw little stars
with a blue crayon
and call it a self portrait
and sign my name
with a backwards r.
Life challenges us
to attempt to explain
the existence of suffering,
especially the suffering
of a child and it makes
me breakdown and cry
at the perplexing question,
knowing there is no reason
for sorrow but to accept
the hurt as it starts to try
to heal the pain.
Some things we suffer for
because they continue to
take us away from each other
determinedly, like a storm
of breaking winds taking
your umbrella away from you.
I have already surrendered
myself to the wind
and hope the autumn night
will carry my words like leaves
of wisdom, safely home to you
and heal some of your pain
with the love and tenderness of
good-bye and good night sweetheart,
wherever you are and
whatever you feel,
I send my love on the wind.

Purple Flowers

October 22, 2007

A Song For Michael Frank Zebig

My baby and I went walking amongst the purple garden,

The sun was setting on the city, your face was lit up golden,

Your skin is cherry colored from our day on Silver Beach,

Whenever I want you, All I have to do is reach,


If I could count the kisses, there’d be one for every star

If I could count the freckles, the constellations aren’t very far,

The love we made is always, always on my mind

It is a friendship that grows stronger, time after time.

I picked a purple flower with a golden ring on my hand,

It’s your favorite color, since you were a boy but now you are my man,

Our pictures are time capsules that only we can share,

There is no doubt that whoever sees them will know we loved and cared,

We wore pink shirts and took more pictures in the Lincoln Zoo,

The camels smiled to see you, and started to laugh at you,

If I could count the kisses, there’d be one for every star

If I could count the freckles, the constellations aren’t very far,

The love we made is always, always on my mind

It is a friendship that grows stronger, time after time.

When love is all around you and love is all you want,

You follow where that love goes,

It’s in the secrets of nature. It’s in what everyone knows.

Time heals the hurt you thought too much to take,

Yet the flowers of trust and faith are in the love we make,

I will always love you and this promise I can’t break,

I will look after your good health for both our sake.


And The reward of love is not money, The purple flowers in your hand

Given in return for kisses from a sweet and wonderful man,

We have found something so beautiful, and it hurts to set it free

But I have hopes that if I set you free,

That you would still choose to be with me.


Good-night big bear, good night baby bear,

I will wake you in the morning,

And tell you I still care.

Holiday Lights

A Song For Michael Frank Zebig

By Ruben Santos Claveria

Christmas 2007

The snow covers the city trees,

This holiday, I want what I please

And it’s just to go down streets

And hear the winter birds sing


That Christmas is Love

And it leaves a trail of giving

For the one you’re thinking of.

The Snowman I built as a child

Melted in the cool night, fresh and mild,

Yet I was not sad to see it go.

It taught me something I did not know,

That Christmas is living just for today,

Love gives what can never be taken away.

I send cards out every year,

I give a dollar to charities to spread cheer,

I hope that my conscience stays clear,

And hope you stay cozy and near,

Because Christmas is love, infinitely,

And I love how you have loved me,

Saying “I Love You” so many times,

My heart rings out like Christmas chimes.

I wish I could heal all the hurt in our lives,

I wish I could touch you and make it all right,

But the truth always comes with a little pain,

Just like standing lonely in the cold winter rain.

I’ll always remember during the holiday lights,

You saying everything is going to be alright.

Christmas is saying thank-you,

And when you sneeze, “bless you,”

Because it’s a little kindness

That you like to see returned to you.

Christmas is love

That leaves a trail of giving,

Life is for loving and living

As the snow falls from above.

Christmas is Love, sweetheart,

Christmas is love.




“Springs voluptuous pantings when she breaths

Her first sweet kisses, have been dear to me.”

Percy Byshe Shelly


The first and last are never forgotten

Cinema Paradiso

My life has been a montage of kisses;

On my death bed, I’ll string them all together

With that cosmic celluloid glue.

A dashing moment like smashing a glass

In the fireplace and taking one assertively in a kiss

Liberates one from loneliness,

Kisses that reconcile an argument by saying:

“Now I have the right to kiss you.”

As well as the kisses that start arguments

Between one’s head and one’s heart.

Drunken kisses under the strobe light flash.

Plush kisses that inspire to sing in the basking glow,

Automatic car wash drive thru kisses,

Eighteen year old lips slide on red candy flavored tongues

In movie theaters while procrastinating homework.

Kisses that break down defenses and make one willing

To risk the vulnerability of love.

Cinematic Kisses where helicopters hover all around.

Kisses like the one we give to another on the cheek

In gratitude for a birthday gift,

Mother-father kisses when they have been made rare by monotony.

Cool mint chocolate kisses deep with arduous breath.

Kisses that dawn and set the sun.

Kisses with grief to one after they have passed away,

Dreams of being kissed initiating an erotic disrobing

By some fantasized man of golden muscle and wealth,

A dizzy kiss while falling into a swimming pool,

Stolen kisses and ones given away liberally,

A crash print Mayakovski kiss to Maria,

Morbid Keatsian wine-kisses that swell the mouth like bee stings

Inspire one to say:

“Oh god, I wish that I could take poison from your lips to

send me out of this world.”

Kisses in the middle of riots, hurricanes and blackouts

That light up like popping Christmas lights,

Kisses that counsel one into composure,

Kisses in the wash of guitars,

Kisses that cause heartbreak and wreck homes.

The first and last kisses that ring with the

Resonance of a rainstorm. Soft kisses that kill.

Even the frightening kisses that run the risk of mono or herpes.

Airy ethereal kisses at a wedding in the clink of flute glasses.

Kisses end suffering. Kiss begin suffering.

The first and last kisses.

For these, I’ll know then I did not live for nothing.


A Photograph of a Kiss

(After Robert Doisneau)

We shimmer in the sun

Like sparks of fool’s gold

In the river of memory

Like two waves braiding

And blurring traffic in the streets

You come forward to focus me

In a splash of kisses

In a bittersweet shower of

Morning light,

You are a symphony of light.


A Venetian Kiss

On your soft white bed

You carried me like a gondola

Through the shadows and yellow light

Of sunset. Close to you

Your eyes--

Vincent’s sunflowers--

A fire opens on our lips.

Everything alive is

Birthed from this sun’s fire



Carol Baker sits on a bed in

Her baby-doll nightie,

That became the vogue,

Complaining that her “daddy would

Turn ovah his grave” and that “big-shot” doesn’t

Give her much credit for intelligence,

“I have you know I am a magazine reader!”

Mr. Vaquero pulls the light switch

And steals a kiss from Babydoll

In the dark room.

These kisses hold the universe together.


A Transcendent Kiss

Two lips unite

In unison,


Like a soft song

Out of the bog

Of the daily grind

And carried as in a soft cab

Ride toward infinity.



A Rock and Roll Kiss

(After listening to U2 and Coldplay)

On a desirous starlit night

In a blue Mustang

After tropical drinks from

Hala Kahiki,

You were dressed in coquettish red

And I in a bashful baby blue

Until a Stones track

Spun from the radio

I rushed to kiss you

Both of us thinking

Finally, finally.


The Birth of Consciousness

Just like everything I ever read has become a part of me

Your kiss awakens and opens my eyes to my own eyes,

Like listening to Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” for the first time.


A Whitmanesqe Kiss (to a mirror)

O Me! O wonderful mystical self!

You sweet compatible kisser,

Let’s come together in that cosmic stickiness

Like static cling,

electrify me.


An Oscar Wilde Kiss

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance

So I dated myself on Valentine’s Day,

Bought myself a fancy dinner with red wine

Beside a fresh flowery bouquet

Then went home, lit a candle

Read Dorian Gray and kiss myself in a mirror.



A From Here to Eternity Kiss

Snuggled in secrecy

On the fiery white sands of the Pacific

Surrounded by rocky bluffs

Burt Lancaster kisses her

As suddenly as the sea that

Rushes foamy white wildly over their bodies

As if trying to douse the

Fires within them

Intertwining and enlarging

Like a dangerous love affair.


A Terrible Kisser

Doesn’t pay much attention to

The other set of lips,

Sloppy lips smack and hog without

Nuance and leave the other feeling plunged.


A Rodin Kiss

In a soft and stony spiral,

He wraps around her,

Leans into her, melts into her,

His lips strong and attentive.

He knows how she likes to be kissed,

In the presence of eternity

As if defying the stillness of a sculpture,

They flow together liquidly,

Forward, around, down

Like rivers from the heart.


Two Men Kiss While Listening to “I Will Survive”

It might as well be the rainbow flag gay anthem

No one ever gets tired of it

Especially after the sometimes tortuous

Sometimes glorious journey out

Sneers of “fag, queer, and fairy” just

Make us laugh now

As one leans into the other bushy beard

Tasting Puerto Rican Coconut rum and pineapple

In a drink he calls “A Passionate Kiss”

“How dare they make my love a felony.”


A Final Kiss (After Paul Verlaine)

A violin concerto

Twists the heart,

Their lips come apart

One set firm

The other breaking, delicately,

As the word coward is whispered

Into the night

One walks away.

Cold and quickly

Like a December storm

Blows itself out

And swirls loneliness

In the snow.


A Poor Old Woman Kisses a Poor Old Man

Her polyester nightgown

Shimmers red against

The draught of the house.

He was about to say again

The rent couldn’t be paid

But she kisses him

To quiet it down.

It feels good to

Her. It feels good

To her. She gives herself

Completely to it

Like a bruised plum.


A Kinky Kiss

Blindfolded, whipped-creamed,

One smiles in anticipation,

Eagerly waiting in the dark

Until it happens,

Soft and sweet tongues

Come wetly on

Warm and hard

Silk wrapped skin.


The Kiss of Life

A million flowers



In the sun

Months after

Two seeds


Into one

Like the fireworks in

Bobby Brady’s kiss.


A Proclamation of Faith

I will always love you

No matter what is said against us,

He whispers into his mouth

Eyes open and close

To affirm the others’ sincerity.

Yes, this kiss certifies truth.


A Kiss Between Passing Friends

Hi, sweetie.


Bye, sweetie.


A Kiss at a Gathering While “Celebration” Plays

Woohoo! Baby, let’s praise

Each other in kisses

While we dance

And parade them through

An envious, admiring crowd.


Kissing My Brother On the Cheek

When masculinity has made affection

Uncomfortable, I become aware

Of the distances, and hold my brother

Tightly in an embrace and kiss him on the cheek

You never know when the last one may be.


A Starlit Kiss

(After Wallace Stevens)

Deep in the night grass,

Encapsulated by a cricket symphony,

The Romeo and Juliet’s stars

Of exile flow around the earth’s

Holy palms in every direction

From this point. Steadfast,

I wish I were you bright stars

The lover says as he

Connects his loves

Freckles like constellations.


Praise for A Journal of Kisses

A Journal of Kisses, eloquently written, fills the reader

with the terror and wonder of the infinite, rapturous and sublime

Variations of kissing and being kissed.”



A drop of blood

The size of a pearl

Drops on her cheek

Like red wine.

Mary Magdalene


The scabbed and

Withered body and

Kisses one wound,

Her pain transfigured

Into innocence.


A Kiss in the Middle of Eternal Nothing

As clear water poured

Into a cup eventually

Returns to the river

A kiss from the wise one

Is followed by

A stillness like stars,

A comfortable void

One awakening.

Two Girls Kiss While Listening to “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Is it Paul Lennon or John McCartney?

No, it is us as we fall into a pile of literature

Beside the pink canopy and Cure poster:

Ms., Rita Mae Brown, Buscaglia’s Love,

Nothing can stop this now.

Kiss of Reconciliation

Release me. Kiss me.



A Kiss to Ruin a Date