Thursday, December 4, 2008


A gifted poet
has written a beautiful poem
dedicated to me.
I am blessed by his talent,
he is blessed by his talent,
by God
or the random universe,
a miracle really.
All because I sent him
a short note wishing wellness,
it is amazing
what a few words can do.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I've seen victims of cruelty,
human or circumstance,
innocents attacked,
some killed,
some crippled,
and some just go numb.
You've seen them too,
so many you can't keep count.
Don't be depressed,
too many are suffering already.
Take care of yourself,
and those you can,
as the days grow dark,
as the days grow dark.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Grandma you saved my life
when I was a boy
and living with insane uncle Johnny
made me miserable.
Those years when my neurotic mind
ate away at me,
your love was there,
your physical presence was there.
Your father was white
and your mother Creek indian,
and you a beautiful blend of both.
And the whites made you go
to their boarding school for indians,
where they tried to turn you white,
just 20 years after the Indian Wars.
From you I learned
a few words of Creek,
heard you speak
in the lovely tongue.
You raised 9 kids
and helped raise their children,
wife, mother, Grandma,
rarely leaving your home.
You cared for your insane son Johnny,
lived with him
and that pain each day
until his suicide at 47.
I bless the universe
that you lived to 103,
dying in your daughter's home,
with one of your grandchildren
laying in your deathbed with you.
From 1899 to 2002
you lit our world.
When all the tough guys died,
the football stars,
the veterans of foreign wars,
you continued,
never losing your heart,
until it stopped beating.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Monday, June 16, 2008


The longer you live
the more death you see:
humans slaughtered in far away lands,
or on your home soil,
murdered in the name of freedom,
in the name of safety,
in the name of revenge,
or famous stars burning out,
and family and friends falling away.
Like my friend Cliff,
who died last night,
a kind, smart, guy.
A guy who knew how to have a good time,
who could laugh at his plight
as cancer cut away at him.
Each day, even at the end,
he would walk
to the coffeehouse,
and laugh, talk,
and sip good coffee,
to be among the living,
not sitting at home,
waiting to die.
That's how he went,
each day getting out there,
one more day
among the living.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Those temporary victories
before they close the lid.
Your team wins,
the election goes your way,
you have a damn good day
for no good reason.
All of us knowing
we're all gonna lose,
the way it makes
the moment sweet.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Mother, was that you?
And was I only 5 years old
when it happened?
Were you the woman
who abandoned me
at the Multnomah County Courthouse?
"I want to put this boy up for adoption."
And was it me who begged you
not to leave me?
Was that my rage swelling up
from my gut
and knotting in my tiny fists?
And is that quiver in my pen now
from fingering an old wound?
Is that dreamlike ache and rush of fear now
a bridge stretching back 25 years?
How was I to know you were crazy?
How was I to know
you were not responsible?
Did you know I hated you?
And when you finally got me back
I considered you a stranger?
And was that me 25 years later
that the Multnomah County Court
appointed your legal guardian?
And did you know
that I felt a tinge of revenge
for only a second?
Did you know that my rage
and knifed feelings were absent?
Did you know that as the deputy
guided you by the elbow
out of the courtroom
and to the psychiatric hospital
that all I felt was love
and sadness
like nothing I have known?

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I woke too early
and clearly
I wasn't getting back to sleep.
So I walked to work too early.
Then I was at work too early,
and sat in the lunchroom alone,
reading the paper.
Soon this room would fill
with my colleagues,
most of them bored, frustrated,
just wanting to go home.
And I thought
I've been at it 19 years,
with 10 more to go.
I sat there wondering
if I could go the distance.
And like a battered boxer,
I rose, went down
to the workroom,
to check the schedule
and see where I started the day.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Great men and women
never do it for themselves,
it is always for us.
Like Emily Dickinson
writing poems
in the quiet privacy
of her Amherst house,
unkown her whole life
never knowing
the difference she would make.
They do it so we can get up
each fucking morning,
or dust the living room
some Sunday afternoon
in the middle of November.
They do it because
if they didn't
they would die,
and so would we.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Friday, May 2, 2008


I would call on you
at your parent's house in Amherst.
We would talk
of wanting God
but not quite believing,
of fear and despair,
joy and beauty.
And I would
revel at your soul
on display.
And if you died
before me
I would always have
your poems,
and any day
your soul would walk again.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Thursday, May 1, 2008


As I get older
time speeds by,
a week like a day,
a day like an hour,
and so on.
I remember those eternal summers
as a kid,
those eternal school years,
the eternity
the month before Christmas.
I remember one summer day
as a boy,
when nothing happened
except me drinking a Coca Cola
behind Lou's Market
with death a million miles away.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


At 3:23 a.m.,
laying in bed,
unable to sleep,
I heard it again,
some street person's
shopping cart full of cans
rattling down the street.
And I thought
one day it could be me out there,
scrambling for cans,
eating at missions,
sleeping in doorways.
When you hear that sound

Copyright 2008 David Elsey

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Once it was Emily Dickinson,
once it was Raymond Chandler,
and many times Bukowski.
They drug me up
from the rock-bottom world.
This is not hyperbole,
just the god-damned fucking truth.

Copyright 2008 David Elsey