N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  0  8






Charlie Mosler


Huge left hand  splayed across the keyboard,

sounding the same notes again & again

he was certain the pianist used

in "All the Things You Are"

but couldn't  possibly have heard.


"What chord is this?" he asked.

I looked at the keys, pretended

it wasn't a cypher, & replied,

"Charlie, if you can play it,

you can call it anything you want."




Aggressor Nation


Having slept past noon following

a sleepless night, I walked

over to Gina's house, fed

& entertained her cats;

watched the Halls of Montezuma,

a very good movie starring

Richard Widmark as a high school

chemistry teacher turned

United States Marine Lieutenant

fighting in the South Pacific,

a moral man with a conscience

being tragically tested

under horrific circumstances.

While his platoon died around him,

& he desperately sought information

from stubborn samurai prisoners

without resorting to torture,

a load of laundry tumbled in the dryer.

I wasn't going to make the train

that would take me the fireworks

by the river behind City Hall.

When the fireflies emerged

I rode my bicycle to the supermarket.

Picked up a few food items

& something to help me sleep,

waited in a slow checkout line

as the women ahead of me

signed checks for their purchases.

Outside, an indigo evening

rumbled with distant bombs,

rockets launched from backyards

exploded above shingled roofs,

automatic weapons fire erupted

on street corners, a large grenade

blew up between two houses.

But here my neighbors are grilling hot dogs

with mariachi music, their children

on the sidewalks waving sparklers.

I do not like being alone

on the 4th of July, & I am not

strolling through the patriotic crowd

in the parking lot by the river

behind City Hall, solitary,

with a bag of zeppoles, smiling

at the big battle in the sky.




More Bodhisattvas in a Dream


Buddy, you created this bar

& now we have to work  in it

so you can hang out with us.


I served you an awful draft beer

in something like a hookah,

charged you seven bucks for it,

you drank it right down,

it was cold, humans get thirsty

even when you're asleep.


I told you I was going off-duty

& you should move to the tables

over by the bandstand, your friend

from the job you quit ten years ago

is playing, I know he sucks,

but the waitress is one of us.


Interestingly, you stayed in your seat,

eyed  a woman walking unsteadily

from the ladies room, like

 she was a drunken nympho,

& her condition made you handsome,

she's one of  us, too. Believe me,

you're not getting laid with her.

Then you fumbled with your change,

dropped it on the floor,

stuffed it in your wallet -

you have pair of tens in there

if you can find someone else to serve you.

Or you might have enough for taxi fare

since you're wondering where you are

& how you're getting home.

Let me reassure you, this bar is

approximately where you think it is.


True,  you're more comfortable

around us since your poet  friend

advised you to be more sociable,

but you still don't have a clue.