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El Año Pasado


El Año Pasado

(20 Septiembre 2018)


It’s a year since Maria

Wrecked into Puerto Rico

I don’t know what to say

Since I don’t make policy, and

No one has dropped funds on

Me to make things better

My widow’s mite went to Ciencia PR

A group of scientists and learners

That persists


They love discovery and invention

And are of many kinds and ages

Affirming the timelessness of

Method, observation, and synthetic

(in terms of reasoning)


Someday someone here might save us

I shouldn’t be surprised


Though I wonder how they were ignored

In their hours

Might be subsumed by the privileged

Who will all of a sudden say

We’ve been behind these saviors

All the way

(and how far behind is that?)


Well, I can still remit my pittances

And pray for everyone bilingually

I studied that much in school

And feel ashamed for mine who

Will do nothing

Believing the corrupted lie

That all is well

Look at us

We are so good


Nuestros pecados

Y en olvidarse


Su vida y su esperanza

Hope or expectation


C L Couch



(don’t worry, it’s only college Spanish;

I’m sure I made many mistakes)

Perdóname para estos)


ciencia pr logo



A Holiday Carrel

A Holiday Carrel


Stacks of books

I’m moving them around

And culling some

To say I have too many is

To understate

They have meaning inside

Also understates

They have meaning on the outside, too

Color, texture, haptic sensations

Simply looking

Reminders that the world

Is bigger than the walls

That freedom is intentional

It takes a process

To be published


C L Couch




Di tabaluga – Opera propria, GPL,

Da Wikipedia, l’enciclopedia libera.


Signing Petitions

Signing Petitions


It was about prayer

Something I was thinking while

Nodding off

(officially, I’m trying to learn napping)

Prayer can be done in any stance, I think

(for instance, the entry into dozing)

Standing, sitting, kneeling, even


For we see the nuns and monks do this

And others in obeisance

Maybe the positions are for us

Appealing to ourselves

A signal to our peers

A sign of intent


What do we need to concentrate,

What makes a prayer a prayer?

It might be focus

It might be lining up the body to have this

To promise it

But can’t we pray on the fly?

In an instant, while we must be doing something else

A prayer sounding

Off the cuff in an



Like a child who baptizes someone

In a dire situation

It counts

The books must record it happened in

This way


So prayer matters

In whatever way

Whichever muscles might be

Angled here or there

Sometimes we can’t apologize enough

Sometimes we can’t apologize at all


C L Couch



By Bill Kuykendall, Photographer (NARA record: 2708009) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain,


Dance Fever

Dance Fever



Breathing’s good

I’m in favor of it

Sometimes it’s hard

That’s the heart disease,

I guess,

And maybe something more

Una poca de grácia

Y una cosita más

That’s the secret of

“La Bamba”

Hardly the lesson for some difficulty in

Drawing breath


It’s a cure

We dance with fervor, even fever

The world pushes air into our lungs

We breathe, regardless

And everything improves


The secret of the life is dance

The healthy life

I hope that counts in thought

I could waltz

But hardly tarantella


Dancing in the brain

A different kind of falling

And without romance


C L Couch



By Tarekheikal – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




(not with eyes)


I’m sure we’ll be all right

No compelling reason

Faith, I guess

Measures of hope and hope for grace

In faith, these are promises,


Which on a tired, hungry morning

Sore and cynical

Do not win over, easily

For anyone

But there’s optimism in that, too

Tolerance unearned

Shame assuaged


Should take more strength than I have

You might be tired, too

But the next hour will arrive

Without us

We can’t make everything happen,

Thank goodness

Though we can do this much


C L Couch



By Poupig – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Green Room

Green Room


It’s after nine o’clock

Not in a bar with smoky music

But in the morning

And I’ve barely slept

I hear when we age, we don’t need

So much

But that is not an anodyne for me


What is it that keeps us going

What is it that gives us pause for rest

Then takes that peace away

Pain and guilt

I can guess other things

Or is it that

During the day, there wasn’t enough running

Playing tag

Kicking the can

Hiding or seeking


Children can wear themselves out

I used to take part in that

I never thought about expenditure of energy

I wasn’t winded

The greater fear was being bored

And I wasn’t


But for all the contradictions

For the paradox that grown-up rest is cardinal

When grown-up style renders everything


With affronts to dignity

All around


We reserve our steps

Then start to count them

We want to measure everything

In that is prognosis

For a life of balance


Well, I’ll try again tonight

Maybe earlier

Maybe without a marker

About how much time is good


Maybe I’ll dream about not

What is catching up to me

But what is on the caliper

Something new, even if it’s unrehearsed

Ready nonetheless

To take center stage under the lights


C L Couch,1,341.





My sister and her family evacuated Wilmington

Before the hurricane

We’re “bugging out,” she said, no doubt

A reference to all the M*A*S*H episodes we used to watch


Now they’re home, she says

No electricity but plenty of red wine

And all the cleaning-up to do

They’re both alive

Their little dog, too

Old Poodle

While the storming moves up here, I guess

Maybe it will be less

I don’t really know

Who does?

The forecast is given in percentages


And we’ll joke about

The job one gets to have

For being paid to get something wrong


C L Couch



“Ever stared down the gaping eye of a category 4 hurricane? It’s chilling, even from space,” says European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex), who is currently living and working aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition 56 crew.


Pluto Attacks

Pluto Attacks


The problems of impatience

The perils

I hang up on sellers, anymore

They’re doing a job, I know

But I can’t handle little parts of

Conversation prior to a pitch

I feel the pressure

Lean into my wall

Pressing on the shield

Of disclosure


A stranger wants me to buy

I have nothing and want nothing

In that way

Maybe you relate

I do not curse

I do not wish ill upon the current

Generation of marketers

Or the next

I simply want the phone to answer with

The known

The friendly, the familiar

Some comfort in connection


So I can’t listen, anymore

Can you?

Does your day have either holes

Or heroic capacities

To have the agenda pushed

With additives or promises, once

Paid for?


You are better than I

And I imagine you are, anyway

You have peace

Where I sense only perturbation

You can give

When I must withhold

Energy, even motes of time


Well, this is me

This is me now

Don’t try to sell me anything

It burns the hole burned through long ago

I don’t want to have what’s left

Set up on the block

In a marketplace of phantoms


C L Couch



Grzegorz Rejniak


Hot Spots

Hot Spots


It’s close enough to be war

Venezuela, Colombia

The Philippines, Myanmar

Eastern Ukraine

Syria, Yemen, the Sudans,

And Nigeria (thanks to Boko Haram)

These are near enough to war

And there are other places

Do we name Chicago?


Are wildfires war? Then we must

Add California

And the violence of our spirits?

Where does that extend the boundary?


Is it a cosmos that wars as well?

In terms of matter, we might claim entropy

Or the mustard gas of stars’ annihilation

But where is will?

I think we need to know


This becomes our place in the universe as well

Does matter tilt toward intention

Or simple cessation?

Whose woods these are I think I know.

Does it participate,

The maker and the builder—

Does it build?


Do we matter,

Does matter matter?

Does a notion of a providence bamboozle?

Okay, I don’t think so, the Calvinist

In me will out


We need to talk about this

Let’s think first,

Maybe set something down

Like homework

Then come together, class,

To learn


We learn from each other

Dialogic, the style of Socrates

Synthesis, Hegelian


On the other side, what then?

We live more fully,

Fed on coffee, pastries, wine, and cheese

Civil plates’ discussion

Offering cups of cold water

Never forget that

A metaphor made real every time

Even a commandment


We live better together

Each one has one’s own

It is a choice

It is a pleasure

A present

And a future


C L Couch



Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


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