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Frank DeRose Apr 3
Sometimes it is hard to know how to forge

The news has never been good, but recently it seems increasingly bad.

The grass is still green here, mom.

But it's drowning in rivers of red there.
Dead and brown and gone in other words and
other worlds that are even
part of this

What are any of us to do?

How can any of us bear not to bear witness?
And in bearing witness,
How does any of us retain the strength to live as though all is normal when it is so painfully obvious that it is not
so painfully obvious
that this cannot possibly be considered normal
or that if it is considered normal
then it is so painfully obvious that it should not be
that we should not want to be part of a world where this is normal.

So I return again to the question of how
is any of us supposed to forge ahead in a world at war?

Sometimes I take comfort in the idea that this, too, is the human condition.
We are a communal species, but a species that has always been at war with itself.

Nation against nation, tribe against tribe, clan against clan.

The only difference now is the scale.
We have globalized and commercialized war in a way that people 200 years ago would have found incomprehensible.
We have COD-- excuse me,
COMMODIFIED is what I meant
it into video games and movies and bumper stickers of AK-47s and how
how I ask is any of us to press on in a world so on fire that cities are burning and children are lucky if we can pull them from rubble and somehow hope that they, too, will not later seek to wage the destruction they were born into and borne out of.

And yet still,
The grass is green here, mom.

I barely know how we can love this world.
I hope that maybe we can still manage to love inside this broken plane. The myth of a phoenix is a beautiful one. Born of the ashes made from fire in a world that cannot cease

Always we hope for rebirth.

Somehow we must find a way to love
something or someone or some place.

In a world where the grass is still green..
And hopefully,
can be green in otherwheres, too.

Grass does not grow if it is not watered.

And yet
we have poured a monsoon of kerosene on the plains of dead grass in a drought amidst famine.

Recall--god gave Noah the rainbow sign, said no more water, the fire next time!

What recourse do we have other than to love?

Love that which has burned
Love that which is not burned yet and which we hope to protect.

Love one another and hope against hope that this time,
Maybe this time

The grass will grow green there, too.
Apr 3 · 117
Wishing Well
Frank DeRose Apr 3
I toss my coin into the wishing well,
Watch it while it flutters down, away
Out of sight but not mind.

I sit beside the wishing well,
Wishing well on those who could use it most--
Wishing well on those still lingering near to my heart.

I watch as my wish wanders high,
Even while the coin sinks low.

Where wish and coin will land is anyone's guess,
Which I suppose must be the point of a wish, yes?

The hope of promises which you seek but are not promised,
The dream of the coin and the wish alike
Landing softly on the ears of a friend,
Bringing you both, thus,
Home again.

"Wish well,"
Echoes then.

Which well, I wonder,
Is best suited for wishing well?
Here, there, or anywhere...


I suppose it matters not--
It's the thought of a wish that does the work.
        And does it well.
Nov 2021 · 2.1k
To the Fiery Trees of Autumn
Frank DeRose Nov 2021
Is there anything more beautiful
Than the tree in fall--
With whom I am enamored, enthralled, even--
Clinging with ev'ry sap of fiber in her being
To iridescent color and majesty?

Like the ageless beauty at the party
In her ballroom gown
As all stare in awe and wonder
Before the night comes down
          And the leaves drop
          And then she, too, falls--

Oct 2020 · 626
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Frank DeRose Oct 2020
What a grey, cloudy day
          It is.
Somber reflections of evanescent tidepools
          Flit by my mind’s eye.
“Be water”—
          Bruce Lee never saw a tsunami, it seems.
And in time ashy skies give way,
          And part their ethereal barriers such
          that Light might shine.
This ceaseless cycle of ourobouros
          Consumes each day.
And still I wander,
          Lonely as a cloud,
Betwixt the Earth and Sky.
          Forever beholden




Jan 2020 · 496
Encounters on My Drive Home
Frank DeRose Jan 2020
The friends I make on my daily commute
Are not friends, really.
I don't know them.

But I could, couldn't I?
The mom with a nose ring and cool sunglasses,
Who absentmindedly scratches her cheek,
Flashing her wedding ring,
Blinding with the sun's glare
Rings familiar.

She could be my neighbor
Or my coworker
Or my sister's best friend's older sister.
I wouldn't know.

The man in the van
That reads AJ & Sons
Who also checks his phone at a red light--
He could be my plumber,
Or my next random drinking partner at a bar.

I don't know them.
But I could.
We cross hundreds of paths every day,
Thousands, tens of thousands in a year.

We are not alone.
We are strangers and not-strangers
Hurtling through space and time all the time.

Racing for money, notoriety, happiness,
Racing simultaneously towards and away from death.

We are one and the same
We are none and neither.

Are we?
Frank DeRose Jan 2020
There's a special kind of love
In the shared communion of common experience--
In the joy of knowing that this person, too
Gets it.

"It" being the unholy,
The divine,
The understanding of the fleeting moment.

There's a special kind of love
in sending that article you thought they'd find interesting,
or that song lyric you heard in the subway that reminded you of them.

There's love in the familiar
In the vestigial memories that haunt us
On the outskirts of our daily lives.

You were here, too.
You breathe this air, too.
You know me, too.

In Zulu, one greets another with
"I see you."

And the response--
"I am here."

Recognition ignites existence.
I see you.
You are here.
Jan 2020 · 251
Political Beefs
Frank DeRose Jan 2020
A stranger asked me about my political beliefs--
only, I misheard her,
thought she'd said political beefs.

So I thought I'd serve them to her
to digest
or chew on
at her leisure.

And thus I outlined the stakes--
sorry, I mean--
I set down the steaks:

Beef number one,
served well done,
the Right claims to uphold the sanctity of life,
but won't spend any money to care for it.
How leathery!
How tasteless!

Beef number two,
served the way they leave kids
grey and hardly pink,
Meanwhile, they turn away the drowning,
and while tears fill children's eyes,
They advocate war.

What insanity!
What sanctity?

Beef number three,
served pink and with some juice,
like bodies putrefying,
but they don't care because they're
stupefying their base--
all the while children dying--
do different colors not belong to the same human race?

Beef number four,
served medium-rare:
tenderly, but not totally rawly,
they take Pride
in blacking out the colors of the rainbow,
suffocating black lives,
subverting their skin,
bruising it
Black and Blue.
Cries of "I can't breathe" choked short,
Blue lives matter?

Beef number five,
served juicy and bleeding,
heart still

America claims she is the land of opportunity--
claims all men are born in equal trees

claims equality--
I misheard Her.

Because all I see,
are inequal trees:
crooked branches,
stunted growth.

So much depends
who cares for them?
What soil they root in?
What color leaves they bear...

Who cares?

I mean...

Who dares?
Jan 2019 · 1.4k
Frank DeRose Jan 2019
My father shows definite signs of toxic masculinity.
Always with the "man up" or "toughen up"
I think he was afraid I was too sensitive.

When I was a kid, he told me it was okay to cry.

Then I guess I cried too much.
And it was no longer okay.

I learned to swallow my emotions,
Pills so big I thought I would choke.
My voice caught,
My feelings were strangled.

I learned, too, to listen and observe him more.
Yes, there was the homophobia,
There the unmistakable reek of feared emasculation,
The lines about how certain things were "effeminate,"
Including things like the way I sat,
Or wore my long hair,
In my own home, no less.

I don't think he thinks me very manly.

Never mind my compassion, loyalty, or steadfast, stubborn nature.

I've learned not to care so much what he thinks,
Though the very act of not caring hurts.
I'd like to be able to share who I am with him,
But I think he disapproves who I am,
The way I choose to live.

Never mind I am straight,
Though it would be no excuse if I were not.

Never mind I have a beard,
Though it would be no excuse if I were clean-shaven.

Never mind any of the qualities that I am,
Any of the things I am proud of,
Any of the reasons I call myself man.

To him, I am not masculine.
That knowledge sears like razor burn,
Leaves scarred tracts of pain and resentment.

Doth a man not bleed?
I suppose not.
Jan 2019 · 376
Frank DeRose Jan 2019
Fingers fly
Across frenzied
Digitized, pixelized
Screams of glass.

A wireless connection,
Tethered and coupled to the

Invisible shackles of changing generations
Keep chain gangs huddled from afar
Shuffling along parallel mortal coils,
Always transcribed and shared--
The space grows discrete whenever they should meet

Minds meld into OneGroup in cyberspace,
And OneGroup is terrifying
A hive of electric
Shouts through the void

At desks and lunch tables and in classrooms and prison cells
Mouths are shut and eyes are downcast
Pixels bloom to life and fill the torpid state.

OneGroup reigns supreme.

Here and there free minds swim between the endless threads
Evading the silken spider's web of OneGroup

Likely, though,
They are doomed.

Just as humans once reigned supreme atop the food chain,
So too,

Does OneGroup





Nov 2018 · 415
Frank DeRose Nov 2018
If I could name Alzheimer's,
Give him a face,
I think I would call him the Thief.

But the Thief does not come in the night;
He is not afraid of the day.

He will ruin your cherished traditions,
Your favorite pastimes.
He will spit on the spirit of your memories,
Then take them, too.

The Thief will take everything
But love and faith
The Thief cannot touch those;
They burn and overwhelm him.

The Thief will attack,
Vicious and biting.
He will lure his victim into a steady routine,
And strike if his victim strays from it.
And in the lulls, he will sap a little more
A little more
A little more


But still, love and faith remain.
They are humanity's last defense,
Her greatest triumph.

When these are all that is left,
The Thief will depart.

He is a parasite,
But the host will be of no further use to him.

He will return the shell,
The empty house,
And he will move on.

And love and faith will remain.
Love and faith will fill the rooms.
They will bring light where there was none.
Friends and family will remember all they had before the Thief,
Lament their losses, of course, but comfort in all they shared.

The Thief wins more than he deserves,
But he does not win total victories;
Small triumphs remain--
A smile,
A laugh,
The occasional yes or no.
The flicker of light that says 'I still remember. I'm still here.'

The Thief cannot take these things.
They are provided with love,
By love,
For the beloved.

I would not wish the Thief on my own worst enemy.
I would not want to see him so wracked,
His family so torn.

Even though love wins,
The Thief takes entirely too much.

His victims forget,
And we are left to forge..
Nov 2018 · 380
To Family and Friends
Frank DeRose Nov 2018
Hold close to your friends, your family, your loved ones.
If you've got nothing else,
You've got love,

If you've everything else, but not this,
Then you've got naught.

For love is sustenance for the soul--
And the soul needs nourishing more than the body, after all.

What is life, if not for love?

Thank you for your love.
I love you.
Sep 2018 · 717
“March to the Ballots”
Frank DeRose Sep 2018
Crawl on, soldier.

Crawl in the name of liberty,
Justice for all.

March on, sister.
With your shoulders slumped and spirit downtrodden,
March for your life.

Drain the swamp, fellow sewage workers of the republic.

Flee to the ballots,
To that last bastion,
The last remaining bulwark of our republic. 

Cast your votes.

Cast them in steel and forge them in hot coals
Let your anger rage,  
Break, blow, burn,
And make us new.

Run through the dogs,
Through the fire hoses,
And tear gas. 

Cry, and salt the America of old.
Run through the deniers,
And **** sympathizers
Cast and cut them down

With your voices,
Loud and clear.

Let the peal of truth ring out,
Let freedom ring! 

Invite Langston Hughes to the table,
As company,
For he, too, is America.

Choose the ballot or the bullet,
In the words of Malcolm X
Who, too, is America.

Just as surely as #MeToo
Is American
As American as apple pie,
As American as you or I.

March to the ballots,
March for your America.

Despite the words of our current senators,
And those who would question your experiences,
And deny you were *****,
Deny you were shot down,
By lawmakers and police and agents of oppression—

Despite all their yelling and bravado,
They are scared of you.

Because, you, too, are America.

So march on, brother, sister, countrywoman—

March to the ballot.
Aug 2018 · 489
"White Guilt"
Frank DeRose Aug 2018
I suffer from a self-inflicted affliction,
Indeed, the guilt of my benefaction
By the decree of my skin tone at birth,
At the expense of the bodies and souls of my darker brothers and sisters,
Gnaws at the rough edges of my soul.

I feel shame when I consider
The ease with which I move through the circles of society,
While others pause at every edge,
Eye their surroundings,
Look for exit points,
Gauge their safety.

And I double down on my guilt,
Knowing that it is more coping mechanism
Than it is agent of change.
“As bad as things are,
At least I feel bad that they’re bad,”
I reason.

As if that makes things better.

As if that’s oxygen in the black man’s lungs.

As if it helps him breathe.

Still, I do what I can.

I confront racism where I see it,
Voice my opposition to the systemic injustices from which I benefit.

I have made enemies,
Perhaps even of myself,
A price I’d gladly pay
Ten thousand times over, for 400 years and more.

Because it’s not about me.

Not any more.

It’s not about me.
Jul 2018 · 273
Frank DeRose Jul 2018
Where is my home?

Is it in the bed of my parents' house,
The one I've come to know and love?
The bed, I mean,
Not the house.

Is it in my parents' house,
The one I grew up in?
The house, I mean,
Not the walls and corners and doors.

Is it in my lovers' arms,
The ones in which I rest?
Her security, I mean,
Not the lovely limbs themselves.

Is it in the company of friends,
The beers and shared times in which I take comfort?
The laughter and memories, I mean,
Not the rooms and spaces in which they occurred.

Is it anywhere at all?
Or is it everywhere?

Where does my soul itself reside?

In all of these?
Or none of them,
Somewhere else altogether?

I can't pretend I know.

But I know I call all of these my home.

I hope your homes are as lovely,
As cherished,
As secure.

I hope you feel--

At home.
home where love friends house laughter shared
Jun 2018 · 1.4k
Frank DeRose Jun 2018
Research paper due
Hours away, and yet I
Have no urgency
Jun 2018 · 444
Grad School--haiku
Frank DeRose Jun 2018
two papers are due--
academia threatens
to swallow me whole
May 2018 · 1.2k
This isn't a poem, but...
Frank DeRose May 2018
This is not a poem, but...

At least 10 people were killed as a result of a school shooting in Texas this morning. It's a tragedy, but one of the sort that seems to diminish in scope with each passing month. Ten people lost their lives in a fury of unimaginable pain and anguish, yet we seem to grow more immune by the hour. it's a mournful event over which we should weep, but it seems our hearts grow frosty and we hardly bat an eye. Because here's the thing--it's hardly news anymore. We are hardly surprised, hardly hurt, hardly affected. And this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all.

4 victims were killed in a Tennessee Waffle House--surely now that I mention it, you recall the headlines. That was less than a month ago. The Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 dead was less than 2.5 months ago. The Sutherland Springs church shooting that left 26 dead was 6.5 months ago. The Las Vegas Massacre, which saw 58 people killed and over 800 injured, happened not even 8 months ago. The Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 dead is not even 2 years old. The Charleston Church shooting, killing 9 and perpetrated by white supremacist Dylann Roof, isn't even 3 years old. The Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that killed 12 was almost 6 years ago, and the Sandy Hook shooting, leaving 27 dead--20 of whom were elementary schoolers--happened only months later.  The Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32 was 11 years ago. Columbine, where 15 people died, will be 19 years old this coming Sunday.

We remember all the headlines, but little of the aftermath. There's too much pain and trauma involved to fully recall the mournful scenes that follow each shooting. And so we are forced to attempt to move on with our lives, thereby washing our hands of the stain of these ****** massacres. We call for reforms, then forget when our politicians move on.

Indeed, our greatest and most fearsome coping mechanism, put simply, has been to forget. We forget the anguish, the empty, hollow, now-caustic thoughts and prayers, the toothless promises of reform. We forget, and move on. On to the street, on to the next, safe in the knowledge that we tried.


It seems to me that the greatest and most lamentable tragedy of this entire conversation may not be the crime itself, but rather our reaction to it.

And so it was, then, that when I read this morning's headline about the Texas shooting, I was hardly surprised. My greatest shock was that I was not shocked. And that I was not shocked, and that you weren't either, I'll wager, might be a crime greater than all the others.

After all, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, no?

Until next time, then...
Frank DeRose Apr 2018
I don’t know if I believe in god,
But if I do,

And if he is all-knowing,
Then he is not all-powerful.

And if he is,
Then he is neither benevolent
Not merciful.
Mar 2018 · 1.6k
On Guns
Frank DeRose Mar 2018
I don't want to hear about your guns,
Quite honestly.

I don't.

I don't want to hear about your second amendment,
Your well-regulated militia,
Your intention to maintain the security of our free state.

I don't want to hear how guns don't **** people,
Or how murderers will always find a way.

I don't want to hear how your right to a gun is more important
Than my students' right to go to school
And come home--

I don't want to hear it.

Because I want my students to be safe.
I want to be safe.
I want to feel reasonably assured that there won't be a school shooting in my building,

And right now I'm not.

Because it can be anywhere,
Any time,

It could be your son,
Your daughter.

It could be you,
Who has no more soccer practices to go to,
Or games to watch your child play in,
Or dreams to work towards.

I want to hear about solutions
(and no, I don't want a gun myself, thank you very much).

I want to hear that my student's right--
My student's Declaration of Independence-given,
Right to life

Matters more.

Than your Constitutional
Second amendment,
15 years later.

Because it does.

No more.
Never again.
March for your lives.
Frank DeRose Feb 2018
There we were,
Two lost teens,
Drowning in all we didn’t know
And all we felt.

It only makes sense we made the playlist we made,
Finding meaning in lyrics that told of experiences we’d had and not yet had.
Things we longed for and felt deeply about.

I was lost in my head, philosopher and hopeless romantic,
Seeking to learn how to be a
Simple Man.

And there was Skynyrd, words and guitar licks washing over me,
As I was told not to worry,
I’d find myself.

And there you were,
Sad and depressed,
Crying out for your

You knew love was no victory march,
Wainwright’s piano and voice giving clout to your every thought and feeling.

We each needed to Imagine,
Lennon assuring us that really,
It’s easy if you try.

So we sat,
Listening to the Sound of Silence,
Knowing we were the people talking without speaking.
Even as Simon and Garfunkel’s harmonies warned us,
Told us that the words of the prophets are written on the tenement walls.

And so we pressed on,
Hunting out that elusive American Pie,
Craving McLean’s country,
Lost a long long time ago.

We knew every vocal lilt and musical cue,
Singing the same old songs we knew.

And so we searched for happiness in the fields with the Wildflower,
Petty crooning and reminding us that we belong somewhere we feel free.

But inevitably, sadness would return, and we’d cry out— Wish You Were Here.

And though we were never a couple, Pink Floyd still made us feel like
Two lost souls,
Swimming in a fish bowl.

And we asked so many questions,
Questions whose answers we knew we’d never know,
Whose answers,
As always,
Were left Blowing in the Wind.

Dylan understood us.
We understood him,
As he spoke-sang and wept for humanity,
So too did we.

And desperately we tried,
To Turn the Page.

Seger’s sad, screaming sax sticking with us,
His cognitive dissonance striking a chord with us,
Here I go, playing star again,
There I go...

And you, knowing exactly what it’s like
Behind Blue Eyes,
Empathizing with Townshend and Daltrey,
Feeling like the bad man, the sad man.

And finally,
At long last we took comfort in the idea that someday
We’d climb that Stairway to Heaven,
Aching for the piper to lead us to reason,
For the new day to dawn,
For us,
Standing long.

And here we are now,
Years and miles having passed between us.
But still this playlist connects us,
Even as it did then.
Jan 2018 · 432
"Oh What Joy"
Frank DeRose Jan 2018
She made my silence pure
And in a word
That is to say

Oh but what beauty
What allure
To feel pure
In silence and in name
I was cured

Oh what blessed joy
To be pure
A gleaming rhapsody in white
I think you know what I mean

When I say
She took me by the hand
Called me names
And whispered in my ear

'My darling
Darling dear
Come walk with me

And let us be
Happy and pure
And free'

And my silence never broke
And I swear I never once awoke

From this blessed dream
This fantasy

I kissed her
And she kissed me

And all the walls came crashing down
And we went out
All out on the town

Ah what joy
For such a simple country boy

I needn't speak
And speech need not I
For all the world to know

Oh I want the world to know

This blessed joy
Can come to you
To each and every girl and boy

Oh what joy
Written for fun along with a big band/cabaret melody I had in my head, much like Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head"
Jan 2018 · 1.4k
Starving Artists
Frank DeRose Jan 2018
There are starving artists, yes.
But sometimes I think them more nourished,
Than many with more dollars to their name,
And food to their claim.

Because at her worst, you see,
The starving artist still has this,
At least--
She has her ideas;
Her work;

Her art,
I mean.

The starving artist might be poor,
Losing in the box score
When all is quantified and qualified for measures of

But the starving artist is free.
He is alive,
He is allowed to be.

And he has his art,
His heart.

Because the worst kind of starving there can be,
You see,
Is to be stale out of ideas--
To be wallowing in writer's block
Staring at the blank canvas in shock
Holding the pen above the paper,

And unable to fire,
To release,
To express.

The worst kind of starving artist,
Feels repressed.

The worst kind of starvation
Is malnourishment,
Not of the soul,
But of the heart--

Of art.
Jan 2018 · 790
Frank DeRose Jan 2018
"Isn't it incredible,"
She queried,
"There's an addicting collection of lifestyles before us...
And we can be any of them!"

"Marissa, you genius,"
Said I,
"You brilliant, amazing, genius!"
She had articulated perfectly the way I felt about the world in front of us.

There were the usual crowds--
The jocks,
The nerds,
The theatre kids,
The band geeks,
The stoners,
The gamers,
The popular chicks,
The emos,
Et cetera, et cetera.

All with their own quirks,
Their idiosyncrasies,
Their peccadilloes,
Warts and shines.

There were other kinds of crowds, too,

There was the girl with thin scars on her thin wrists,
A part of the lonely crowd that grappled with a common demon.

The boy who wore the same sweatshirt every day,
Who'd recently begin to sport some peach fuzz above his upper lip,
Who often smelled of body odor and whose hair was a little too greasy.
The one who was a member of the horde of quiet poor--
Smart enough to fool you,
But not wealthy enough to keep up.

The student who slept through class,
Part of the group for whom school offered an escape from the wars at home.
A small island of relative peace amidst a sea of turbulent battles.

There were the busy bees,
With their AP classes and extracurriculars,
Not popular but not ostracized, either.

There were the ones who flitted between,
The social butterflies who somehow maintained the graces of all the above,
Few and far between,
But easy to talk to and unassuming,
The kind of people everyone likes.

There were the bullies, too.
The ones insecure in themselves,
Feasting on,
Reveling in,
Dependent upon,
The weaknesses of others.

All these and so many more.

We saw them all--

A brilliant camouflage of people and personalities and habits of life,
Some by choice,
Others not.

And like Plath's fig tree,
Which we'd read about in English class last week,
They all seemed so appealing,
In some way or another.

Maybe I wanted their smarts,
Or their popularity,
Or their anonymity,
Or their struggles,
Or their personality,
Or their strength,
Or their courage..

I didn't really know.

But I did know that,
Like the fig tree,
I would choose one,
And the others would die off,

But for now,
There they were,
An enticing dinner menu with altogether too many options.

And here we stood,
In the hallowed halls of high school,
The world ours for the taking,

And such an addicting collection of lifestyles in front of us.
Thanks to MP for the inspiration
Dec 2017 · 959
On Dates and Infamy
Frank DeRose Dec 2017
"December 7th, 1941--a date which will live in infamy"

So began Roosevelt's address,
As the eyes of a nation
Watched the skies,
And fought.

Less than an hour after Roosevelt's speech,
Congress declared war on Japan,
And entered into World War II.

And so our boys left,
Fighting the good fight

And so Rosie flexed,
And patriotism soared,
And planes rained down barrages of gunfire.

I was always taught today's date.
December 7th, 1941.

My grandfather fought in World War II,
And in my house,
Today's date lived--
And continues to live--
In infamy.

You can imagine my surprise when,
Upon walking into the public high school where I work,
The flag prostrate,
Halfway between sky and earth,
Students did not know the date.

I asked the classes,
60 or so students, in sum,
"Who can tell me why the flag is at half-mast today?"

They looked at me in confusion,
"What's the date?"
Maybe 6 or 7 raised their hand.

One in ten students knew,
And while I was disheartened,
I was not altogether surprised.

So I posed the question to my coworkers,
"I've been conducting an experiment today,
Asking students if they knew why the flag was at half-mast"

Of the 15 coworkers with whom I spoke,
5 could tell me why.
10 could not.

"Why is it at half-mast? I don't even know..."

"Let me see, what's happened in current events recently?"

"Oh? It's Pearl Harbor? I didn't even know we put the flag at half-mast for that."

How quickly we forget.

The second largest attack on American soil in our history,
The greatest catalyst for our entry into the greatest war in modern history,
And we don't take notice of the date?

For shame.

What will our sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters know?

Will they recall 9/11?
Will they remember it?

Will they relive it each year,
The way we so painstakingly do?

Will images of planes and falling men flee through their minds?

Or will they forget?

"Oh? 9/11, is that today? I didn't even realize."

Sounds preposterous, doesn't it?

And yet, our grandparents couldn't conceive of a time when we wouldn't remember Pearl Harbor.

"A date which will live in infamy."

Or will it?

Be advised—
History has its eyes on you.
Nov 2017 · 2.4k
The Sword of Damocles
Frank DeRose Nov 2017
Ah, how perilous!
How tenuous is the hair which holds the Sword of Damocles!

How terrible it must be to lie in the seat of power,
To be cradled in her ***** of lust, ambition, and greed--
To turn endlessly over one's shoulder,
To have one eye forwards, and one eye back,
Never at ease.

When the throne becomes a death knell
A holding cell
A hotbed of restlessness,

Look up! Look up!

See the mighty sword above your head,
How it sways to and fro,
And on the hair of a mare rests your soul, your sole lifeline's thread!

You find yourself in the pit
With the pendulum swaying to and fro,
To and fro,
Closer and closer,
Closer and closer.

How terribly loathsome your position has become--
What painful prostration must you now display in self-effacing humility,
An abomination to your pride and claim of invincibility.

Ah, but what respite!

To live no longer in the shadow of fear
With the threat of death removed from above thine head
Like the unshackled chain of a man excused from the gallows

You are free!

But do not forget,
For the torment of power is a great responsibility,
And you'd be wise to remember that the favor of your king can change at a moment's notice--
He is a paranoid man, after all.


The Sword of Damocles!
Nov 2017 · 825
Love Recipe
Frank DeRose Nov 2017
There's no one-size-fits-all for love.
No magic recipe,
Or secret key to success.

Every relationship is unique,
And while they may
(forever and always)
Rely on some of the same clichés,

It doesn't make them any less special.

I love striking that perfect balance,
Of beautiful chemistry.

Some of our traits might implode other couples,
Just as some of theirs could implode ours.

And that's okay.
It's beautiful, really.

The human spirit changes so much from person to person,
And I love the differences we all share.

We've found our recipe, I think.
And I am glad for that.
Because I love to be able to call you mine,
And I have plans to do so for all time.

Because at the end of the day,
No other person makes me feel this way--
Not quite so happy, quite so grounded, quite so secure.

Nobody else makes me laugh the same way,
Or challenges me the same way.

And these same traits,
In any other proportions,
I'm sure would be a disaster.

But with you--

With you they're perfect.
We're perfect
Nov 2017 · 25
Frank DeRose Nov 2017
It was good to hear from you today.
And talk to you
Like I mean really talk
The way we hadn't allowed ourselves to in months, perhaps years.

Of things known and unknown,
Of paths and dreams and hopes and fears.

A fig tree between us,
We discussed its multitude of branches,
Even as we pruned many of them,
And they died before us.

We'd eaten the figs in the past, though.
Sometimes sweet,
Sometimes rotten.
We never both ate the right ones at the same time.

But of course that's neither here nor there,
Because it's less about the figs we eat,
And more about our experience relating the figs to each other.

How mine was sweet that time,
And yours bitter the next.
How you didn't know if you could quite pluck that one fig,
Way up high,
That looked so delicious and ripe.

And how I was quite certain you could.

The fig never really mattered at all.
What mattered was our discussing the figs,
Coming together every now and then as the tree grew more branches,
Knowing when to eat and when to leave it alone.

We sat in the tree's shade,
And even if our figs weren't always perfect,

I was thankful for the chance to sit with you, anyway.
Oct 2017 · 769
Frank DeRose Oct 2017
Jumped out of a plane today.
Willingly, knowingly, and confidently.

Climbed 14,000 feet in a plane with two benches and 20 people


Waddled out to the garage door
A gaping hole in a metal tube hurtling through the sky






Free fell, 120 miles an hour toward the unforgiving earth.

Sometimes I wonder about God.
He made us dumb enough to want to do this,
For his laughs? Or ours?
Of my own volition (and at a high velocity) I plummet to what could easily be my death and last memory on this earth.

I give zero *****.

It was the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

The parachute deploys,
I am tugged upwards.

My instructor spirals us downward,
Allows me to pull and steer.

I have no clue what exactly to do and try to follow his cues,
But I know one thing

This **** is *fun
Jun 2017 · 388
Departure of Childhood
Frank DeRose Jun 2017
Once I was gold,
But now am black.
Once I was shiny,
But now am tarnished.
The unassuming air of innocence,
Has been exhaled.

My past behind me,
Like footprints in the sand,
Shall soon be washed away.
My childhood gone,
Sailing at sea.
My future unknown,
Beholden to me.

Once I was diamond,
But now am coal.
Once I was carefree,
But now am worried.
The unassuming air of innocence,
Has been exhaled.

And so departs childhood,
Gold today,
But not to stay.
Oh, to stay gold!
What misery is this?
The departure

of childhood?
Jun 2017 · 529
Father's Day
Frank DeRose Jun 2017
My father hurt me.
Not emotionally, or verbally, or physically.
But he did push me.

He ****** me forward and higher,
Steered me through brackets of thorny growing pains.

I bled and was scratched,
But am not scarred.

He has constantly molded and guided me,
His hands rough and calloused,
(From all those long years in the kitchen, making and earning bread),
But ever caring.

He gave me so many "father-son" talks,
And charitably called them "man-to-man."

He breathed me into existence,
And his imprint on my soul is indelible.

Though there are places where the treads are different,
And the paths diverge,
One always informs the other.

And while of course we sometimes disagree
On thoughts of who the other should be,

He has taught me what to be,
And I have learned also what not to be--
From him I have taken the best
And behind I have left what is left.

I am proud of who I am,
And as I put these thoughts into words,
I know fully that I am where I am

Not in spite of him--
But because of him.
May 2017 · 218
Frank DeRose May 2017
I messed up today.
Had a fight with my dad
And let my emotions slip away.

I hurt you.
I undid so much work,
Disrupted so much trust,
Tore down so many layers of safety.

I shouldn't have.
I should have known better.
I should have waited longer.
I should have called later.
I should have controlled my emotions.

Not the other way around.

But I didn't.
That's on me.

I am sorry.

So, in order to attempt to assuage the ails I caused,
What follows is a list, enumerated,
Of all the things I love about you,
And all the things I endearingly hate (looking at you, #22)

1. How you make me smile
2. The way you cuddle up against me, nestled in the nook between arm and chest, below shoulder
3. When you wear my t shirts
4. How safe I feel when I'm with you
5. When you play with my hair, and talk about my 'crazy curls'
6. Our long drives and car rides together
7. The fact that you have a dog
8. When we cook together
9. How you're my princess
10. Going on late night McDonald's runs with you
11. Drinking Bloodline and watching Netflix
12. Trying to decide what show to watch, or where to go to eat (you pick, no you, no you--I picked last time!)
13. Doing homework together
14. When you let me try to paint your nails
15. When you take care of my weird hairs
16. The way you make me do things I don't want to but should
17. How supportive you are
18. Your hair
19. Going out on random walks in a snowstorm late at night
20. Getting chipotle together
21. Your smile
22. The way you STILL won't **** around me
23. When you scratch my back
24. How beautiful you are all the time
25. How you let me crack your toes in exchange for a foot massage
26. How you've finally learned to burp and be comfortable with it
27. The way you treat Kevin (a.k.a. your *****)
28. How you somehow never fail to brush your teeth at night, the way I assume most other humans do (or is that just me?)
29. When we sing along to songs in the car
30. Making memories, from Calvert Cliffs to Billy Joel
31. The way you twirl Todd when you're nervous or stressed
32. How you feel comfortable being completely yourself with me
33. How cool your family is
34. Spending time at the mountain house
35. Planning trips together, from Kings Dominion to Philadelphia
36. The way you also think water parks inside amusement parks are a waste of time
37. The fact that you share my love for pickles and olives
38. When you vent to me about your mom or Amy (or Amy and your mom)
39. How dedicated and hardworking you are
40. When you watch movies with me, especially ones that feature Ben Stiller in ridiculous costumes ("if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!"
41. The way you love history
42. Your obsession with Disney
43. When you appreciate my puns
44. When you make me pumice stone my calluses
45. How smooth your legs are after you shave
46. Your ****.
47. All your little idiosyncrasies
48. The memories we made together in Europe
49. Sleeping next to you and spooning, at least for a little while
50. You.

Of course, this list could not possibly encompass every single thing I love about you,
But it is a start--
An incomplete glimpse
Into a love that is real, and whole.
Frank DeRose Apr 2017
May I share this sky with you?

May we both look up,
Thousands of miles,
An ocean,
Continents apart,
And share these stars?

I long for your eyes,
The ones in which I see a million stars,
Bright and beautiful.

But your eyes are far away.

So instead I ask,
Might we share through a friend?

Through this great benefactor,
Vast and endless;
A deep blue blanket,
Speckled with pinpricks of hopeful light?

Might we share in the knowledge that we share this sky,
You and I?

I long for your love,
Your heart,
Your stars.

But I'll take this sky instead--
It is all I have.
And it is rather beautiful, too.

Don't you think?
Mar 2017 · 1.8k
Frank DeRose Mar 2017
I am not okay
And I guess that's okay, but
I hate how I feel
Frank DeRose Feb 2017
The sun caresses my face
And kisses me with tender care.

The wind tousles my hair
While the breeze floats across my unarmed skin.

My iced coffee is cold and bitter on my lips;
I rise to meet the glorious day.

The bell rings in its tower
10 strikes to mark the early hour.

The sky, a piercing and unabashed blue
A color unlike any other hue.

The vernal equinox still lies weeks ahead
But I'll enjoy this brief, warm stead.

I listen as the birds converse and sing their transient songs
I smile, and do my best to whistle along.

Today is a good day.
Feb 2017 · 839
Frank DeRose Feb 2017
Good does not discriminate.
Be careful who you choose to hate
Feb 2017 · 2.7k
I Saw god Today
Frank DeRose Feb 2017
I saw god today.
Sitting in the alleyway,
Head hung low on the subway.

I saw him wordlessly crying,
As all the world went flying,
Dying by.

I saw him homeless and asking for change on 54th
I saw the streetlight illuminate his graying, ragged beard.

I heard his name yelled--
Out of fear.

I didn't see God
In the white picket fences,
In the pristine churches with cushioned benches.

I didn't see Him
At fish fries,
Or in ostentatious Osteen's obnoxious cries.

I saw god kneeling on the splintered pews;
I saw him fleeing with the Jews.

I saw him in the south,
With the poor,
Lying naked on the floor.

I saw god and didn't recognize him.

For he was kind
And accepting,
With eyes that saw,
But were blind.

I saw him wash the feet of sinners.
I saw him cry and pray at dinner.

I saw god today,
And we talked,
Embarking on a casual foray--

he asked me to tell him my misgivings,
And my doubts about faithful living.

I did.

"god, there is so much hypocrisy in this world,
And often, in your name it's unfurled.

You weigh down the oppressed,
And lift up the oppressor.

Christians shame their daughters for abortion,
They cry murderer and throw your words at her.
They do not help.
They do not heal.

Christians turn away those who would seek refuge.
They forget that you were Prince of an exiled people.

I am told that if I do not accept you,
I will go to Hell,
And you know this to be true.

Or worse,
A better man than me might go to Hell.
Because he calls you Allah,
Or Buddha,
And no matter the good he might do;

Still he is doomed."

god heard me,
And his tears fell--

he paused a moment,
And then responded,

"My child,
Can you not see?
Here I am before you,
And look how my 'disciples' turn away from me."

he said that word with bitterness and disdain,
I'd like to note.
It dripped off his tongue,
Even as blood fell from his wrists, legs, and side.

he carried on:

"Look how many are afraid of me,
How many reject me--
Because they don't want to see.

Look how many seek their own gain.
See how many look away from my pain.

Still, on Sunday
They'll come out and sing--
Cacophonous droning,
Wailing and moaning.

They do not worship me.

You see me here before you.
I am not their God.

Their God is one of self-advocacy,
Of Selfishness--
Of sublime, self-serving servitude.

I am Selflessness.
I am Poverty.
I am Outcast.
I am Brokenness.

I know your concerns.
I know you spend long nights questioning your faith.
Questioning others' faith.

Blesséd are you,
My son.

Blesséd are all my children,
Who seek to serve those who do not know my name.
They are my children still;
And still others of my followers have strayed farther for fame.
Blesséd are they, too,
That they might know me--
And you.

You come here and speak your truth,
And I thank you."

god stood up,
Humbly bowed his head,
Ever subservient,
And walked away.

I sat in silence,
Contemplating our verbal parlance.

Then I too stood up,
Walked away.

I saw him sitting outside,
In his hands,
An empty styrofoam cup.

I saw god today.

And as I walked away,
I saw one man stop, give him a couple quarters, and a nervous, friendly smile.

I saw another walk past, dressed in her Sunday best, averting her gaze, using her body to block her child's line of sight.

I saw god today.

Did you?
Jan 2017 · 542
Love is...
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
Love is longing and aching.
Love is fawning and shaking.

Love is the door to happiness,
Swung open wide.

It is nerves and flutters--
It is holding the heart of another.

Love is kisses and assurance.
Love is the support against which a latter stands.

It is a tender hand,
A steady, unyielding flame.

Love is you and me.
Is "we."
Jan 2017 · 1.5k
"On Being White in America"
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
When they stood up,
And spoke out

About their experiences,
And daily trials

I too wanted to stand up,
And apologize.

But I did not.

I sat down.

And listened.
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
I pledge a grievance
To the flag
Of the Divided States of America
And to the Republics
For which it stands
Two nations
Under (no) God
Divisible with restraints and injustices for all
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
She whispers slow,
Soft, seductive secrets. 

She sashays with stealth,
And deposits a million kind kisses

Upon these,
My tired and listless lips. 

She breathes beauty,
Boldly inflating me. 

She summons my soul
From its deep and haunted hollow. 

She comes closer and closer with confidence,
Knowing that I am coolly complicit. 

(As ivy climbs its tremendous tower,
So too do I grow gratefully into her.)

She lifts my life,
And we float free of fear. 

Far, far away from here. 

To a land of longing long-forgotten,
Where all are secure in their insecurities. 

She takes me there,
Loves me with tender care. 

And then, with not a word,

She softly dissevers,
And departs.

I am left alone.
Jan 2017 · 1.1k
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
It's true, I think,
That sometimes I don't know what to think.

I toss and turn and roll all about,
Living without living,
Doing without meaning,
Accidentally planting soft seeds of doubt.

I think in Solitude
I become more confused.

I write without knowing what these words say,
Or what they will mean to you,



This is such a selfish exercise,
Writhing for your approval.

Still I know I'll submit

To the hopes of finding a kindred spirit--
That my words might touch your eyes,
And soothe your mind.

This is my only wish.
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
In the dead of night I yearn for you,

For your connection,
And the belief that you are someone,
And I am someone,
And that there is significance enshrined in our exchange.

I am made small by the vastness of this immense world.
7 billion souls, and I am but a diminutive voice in the crowd.

I hope that you hear my voice,
As I hear yours.

I hope that we might discourse,
You and I.

And I hope that,
We might impact some souls outside our circle.

To think otherwise is too much to bear.
I cannot carry a cross of anonymity,
A cross of insignificance.

I must voice my thoughts,
And hope they are heard.

Because if a poet writes and has no reader,
Did the poet write at all?

So here is to you, dear reader.

My shameless plug for your continued loyalty--

Without you, I am not me.

I have reduced your readership to mere pity,
You see.

Still I must ask--
Read me.
Jan 2017 · 1.2k
New World Blacksmith
Frank DeRose Jan 2017
Like the metallurgists of yesteryear,
I must melt, mold, mend, and make.

Like a master teaching his apprentice,
Schooling him in the ancient ways,

So too must I impart on my readers my knowledge, my thoughts, my living.

Leaden words of silver roll off my gilded tongue,
(Perhaps someday you, too, shall have gold-plated lips),
Into the warm, receptive ears of followers devout.

You admire my art,
And rightfully so.
But I need you, as surely as you need me.

You see, intricate inlays and ruby-studded pommels are beautiful, yes.
But the sword dispatches a sterling service, soldier.
It is functional, as are my own subversive talents.

The wars you wage with my weapons are worthy ones,
And we ought both take pride in them.

Without your deeds I would have a mere hobby, not a duty.

But I have traded the battle swords of ages long past
For the fountain pen of today, and tomorrow.

Heed my words,
Even as you would kneel before my sword.

I am--
The New World Blacksmith
Dec 2016 · 1.4k
My Plan
Frank DeRose Dec 2016
Lean in a little closer, my love,
And let me tell you my plan.

I have a plan, oh yes.
Don't you worry, I've got a plan.

I've got a plan to love you today,
To eternity.

I've got a plan to be there for you,
To hold you, to cherish you as my own.

I've got a plan to spend my life with you,
Grow old with you,
Grow a family, too.

I've got a plan to keep you by my side,
Ever happy,
Ever mine.

I've got a plan to make plans;
I've got a plan to plan a plan that will show you my love more true
Than I could ever do.

And so I write this to you,
My poem,
Your psalm,
My plan.
Dec 2016 · 398
Frank DeRose Dec 2016
Its all around.
In the hug of a friend,
In the blue of the sky.
In the life-giving rain,
Still love survives.

Its everywhere.
In the cookies you eat,
In the garden you sow.
In melancholy partnerships,
Still love can grow.

It surrounds.
In the warmth of a bed,
In the card from a friend.
In the darkest of places,
Love is there til the end.

It permeates.
It controls,
And creates.
It brings together;

It succeeds.
In marriages long-lasting,
In Santa's bottomless sack,

Its all you need.
circa 2012
cliche, I know. Doesn't make it any less true.
Nov 2016 · 1.6k
"Pack Rat"
Frank DeRose Nov 2016
I'm going through old desk drawers.
Changing rooms, moving down to the basement.

I must finally be a twentynothing after all these years.

I'm going through old cards,
Things I never had the heart to throw away.
My mom calls me a pack rat,
Says I'm a hoarder.

Maybe she's right,
But I still can't fault myself.
I pack away memories, hoard treasures of information and sentiment.

The base layer of sediment for my being.

In one drawer I find an old model airplane,
From an erector set when I was young.
I remember building it with my dad--
The propellor still turns.

How could I throw it away?

Even now, I think I'll keep it.
And look on it, some years hence,
And remember, as I do now.

I have dozens and dozens of cards.
Birthdays, graduations, christmases, milestones, achievements.

In them I read emotion poured out,
Words too sappy for speech,
Too thick and viscous.

In cards they flow like fine wine,
Aged perfectly.

I have old poems,
Written seven years ago and more.
Hundreds and hundreds of them.

In them I see leaves of growth.

Old friends are enshrined within the ancient artifacts of these dark burial tombs;
I open them and reminisce fondly.

These things are proof that I was here,
That I existed,
More so than my bones could ever be.

They show a person, a being--
A life.

Inanimate objects are no less alive than we, dear friend.

They are endowed with our spirit,
And their memories will long outlast our corporeal selves.

Pack away your memories,
Hold them close.

They are not trash,
Despite whatever your mom might say.
Nov 2016 · 767
Go Forth and Make Art
Frank DeRose Nov 2016
My brother.

My sister.

My lover.

Do not disregard your emotions.
Use them.

Go forth,
Make art.

Leave this world better than it was when you found it.
Nov 2016 · 1.1k
Where is Our Humanity?
Frank DeRose Nov 2016
Where is our humanity?
Where is our compassion?
For which homeless brother on the street do we sympathize?

Instead we avert our eyes.
Tilt our heads downward,
Shuffle our feet a little quicker.

Then we wrap ourselves in cocoons of sameness.
Facebook friends who think like us.
Who fear like us.
Who feel like us.

We fear the other,
Think ourselves better,
More refined,
More intelligent.

All the while forgetting we are cut of the same cloth,
Made by the same God.
Created perfect in His image.

We forget ourselves.
Our DNA--99.5 percent alike.
Genetically, we are a mere .5 percent different.

.005 difference.

But we could not be more apart.
Our worlds,
So immeasurably at odds,
And nary a bridge to mend the divide.

Us against them.

Where is our humanity?
When did we lose it?
Down which rabbit hole did it fall?

Why do we not cry for the downtrodden, the oppressed?

Why do we not cry for those who oppress?
For their loss?

Why do we not help them?

Why do we, instead--
Hate them
Disdain them
Disrespect them
Disregard them


Where is our humanity?
Nov 2016 · 1.0k
An Apocalyptic Prediction
Frank DeRose Nov 2016
A world of darkness will enshroud us all.
Chaos will envelop us,
We will be blind,

The televisions will drone on with their incessant hum and vibrant *******,
Fifty shades of whatever you please.
Anything but

Those in power will try to calm us,
Placate our revolting senses.
We will not give in,
We will molt and shed our submissive skins.

We will demand recounts and claim stuffed ballot boxes.
Our minds will empty and our hearts will harden.
We will not hear.
We will not listen.

Our pleas for our raw and croaking voices to be heard will be ignored.
While we may vastly outnumber our oppressors,
We are but knives and pitchforks,
And they are gunpowder and cannons.

So go to the polls today, you feverish fiend.
Voice your vociferous opinion.
Do what you need to settle the turmoil within.
Calm the nightmares of your sins.

Because tomorrow--

The world ends.
Written about politics but without a political agenda, just for fun
Nov 2016 · 703
World Series, Game 7
Frank DeRose Nov 2016

Forever the common denominator
Of the American Spirit
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