The Dog Watches and Other Poems


I’ve written poems seriously for a very long time, occasionally publishing them. In the last few years, I noticed that almost every piddling literary journal was doing something that used to be considered sleazy, charging for reading. That was it for me.

But my friend Scott Taylor, a designer and poet himself, was interested in creating and publishing a book of my poems. So I brought together a long poem, The Dog Watches, about the city, and put it together with other city poems. It is now available on Amazon.


Exascale computing: The Space Race of our time


Anyone who remembers the time before human beings stepped on the moon can recall the exhilaration of the challenge President John Kennedy made in 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Nothing in the interim has come close to the excitement of doing something so impossible on the face of it. But PathForward, the exascale computing challenge, comes close. We are going to make a computer so powerful and so fast that it will alter the way we live. If we succeed, life will be as different afterward as it was when we saw astronaut Neil Armstrong take “a giant leap for mankind.”

Earlier this year, the annual list of the world’s fastest computers came out: The Chinese are responsible for the top two slots, and the third is held by the Swiss, knocking the U.S. down to the fourth spot. Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded six American companies shares of a $258 million grant pool in the pursuit of exascale computing. If successful, the PathForward program will put the U.S. at the head of this list.

Read more

A Geographical History of San Francisco


Since we moved back to San Francisco last year, I’ve been taking pictures of places of literary and artistic note in the city. I published a post on “literary life in North Beach” on my agency’s blog. This is an ongoing and less geographically restrictive diary of the city’s literary, artistic, scientific, and political history.


202 Green Street, where on September 7, 1927, under the auspices of William Crocker (grandson of the transcontinental railroad magnate Charles) and the Crocker Bank, Philo T. Farnsworth and his “Lab Gang” sent the first TV signal ever broadcast to the Merchants Club about eight blocks away.


Once upon a time, but not here, not now

Koosah“In those terrible places designed to rob us of our bodies and our spirits, we sustained each other.” — Philip Levine

Once upon a time, but not here, not now,
We sustained each other. Weak and varied,
We communed against the unbreakable dark.
It was not advantage we were seeking
But defiance in the presence of the truth.
We flourish then we fail and fade away.


Numbers: my weekly news column in verse

200176792-001My weekly column on news in verse, “Numbers,” has debuted in The Cryptosphere.

Each week I’ll be reviewing a trend or event in the news. In metrical verse.

Although the approach is exceedingly unusual these days — in fact, I believe Numbers is the only weekly poetic treatment of news currently being published (if you know of any others, please let me know) — but the practice of journalism-in-verse can be traced back to at least mid-17th century France.

I have actually written this type of news-based occasional verse a few times beforeprimarily for ReadWrite. But this is the first time I’ll have a long-term opportunity to see what the format can do over time, for both news and poetry.


To The War Poets

Vietnam Navy

This story shall the good man teach his son. – William Shakespeare, Henry V

All the words they’ve bitten out of war
And written down with shaking hands and blood
Half-whiskey, or in grim mastery of self



This poem, written in couplets, contains every word from the Oxford English Dictionary cloud of words which first appeared in Chaucer’s writing. 

Praise this poetical monster, the magician Chaucer,
Over the crude and caterwauling dotards
Who, insolent and annoying, amble fattishly,
Blocking past from future possibility.

They twitter on, their work an endless proem,
Lacking the poignant misery of a poem;
The only thing they agree on is altercation,
The pinhead’s angel-like enumeration,

Or worse, they fashion melancholic proverbs
on womanhood, or praise the jolliness of poppets
In notes of maudlin intellectuality,
Each unconvincing word said superstitiously.

No, every fleshy dalliance should be praised,
Wantonly outshine the Milky Way,
An ablution, each nymph narcotic, never sluttish,
Her femininity earthy, my enchantress;
Each good-night be Valentine’s day.

Federico Garcia Lorca’s Birthday is Today

Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico García Lorca is one of my favorite poets. I even followed his ghost to his city, Granada, Spain. There, I lived with my wife and a guitarist friend, in a cave in the Gypsy part of town Lorca visited so often while he lived, the Sacromonte.

On the occasion of his birthday, here is my translation of his poem, “La Guitarra,” which was used by Yale Prof. María Rosa Menocal in her lecture and monograph, “Poetry As An Act of History.” (She is also the author of the extraordinary book, “The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Christians, and Jews Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain,” which I recommend without reservation.)


Lost Bob Folder Poem Rediscovered


Employing the literary archaeological technique of musico-textual analysis, the Center for Folderian Studies has reconstructed a lost poem by the master-poet Bob Folder. Among the poems lost in the infamous Max’s Bob Folder Folder Incident, this poem has been resurrected from a Dream Teens song that used his words for lyrics. (Listen to the song here.)

There was some contention as to whether the song’s lyrics come from a single poem or are the result of merging several together. Dr. Taylor said he believed the lyrics to come from a single poem with the LBaB reference being a list item; this led me to speculate that TtA was also perhaps a list item. Research is ongoing.

Read the poem after the jump.