As you leave Detroit

As you leave Detroit,

Telegraph Road,

with it’s decaying motels, get drunk shack bars, and appliance stores,

turns into the gentler Highway 24.

With the scars behind you,

far away from the sprawl,

the farm towns appear.

Tidy houses overseeing,

tidy fields,

a mature tree,


whispering wisdom.

The paint is worn,

and there are no signs of recent investment,

Amazon doesn’t touch places like these.

But the roads still host travelers.

These farms were the backdrop,

to many of my own drives,

optimistic drives,

on my way to or from college,

with a happy, pretty, and so young woman waiting to hug me after I parked.

Highway 24 shines in the summer,

the Ohio state crews,

mowing the median and patching the damage their salt brought the winter before.

The passageway is dry, hot and simple,

with hopeful arrivals at all the exits.

Like many,

I’ve left for the places that TV endorses,

but those Ohio and Indiana and Michigan roads used to offer me so much.

Lovers and family and true vacations.

Better things than the roads I now drive,

in my now “better” places.

As I sit here today,

it seems my task,

is to once again view those familiar paths,

as good enough.

For a year

If I can embrace everything for a day,

I can embrace everything for a week,

and if I could embrace everything,

that has come into my life,

for a year,

maybe then,

I would have finally,

turned the page,

on the worrying,

the fidgeting,

and the fear,

that all float like clouds,


my view,

of this breathtaking fortune.

Toy chickens

I have a new puppy named Ned,

and he’s teaching me lots.

Ned’s a mystic.

All dogs are.

But sometimes Ned gets afraid.

He doesn’t like his crate or rolling garbage bins.

Silly Ned.

There’s nothing to fear.

Ned’s just a dog.

He doesn’t know.

Just now, I made Ned’s toy chicken squeak.

He bounded over to investigate.

He loves his chicken,

especially when it squeaks.

He couldn’t see it was me was pulling the strings.

Just my foot pressing on the little horn sewn inside.

Doesn’t matter to Ned,

he loves that toy chicken all the same.

Got me thinking.

What are my toy chickens?

What are your toy chickens?

What are Neil deGrasse Tyson’s toy chickens?

And who honks those horns?

Ned swears that toy chicken squeaks.

He goes for it every time.

They aren’t men

For years,

Like a recurring dream,

I’d find myself drunk in a New York City bar,

wishing I’d stayed home,

to build something,

no one would pay for,

in silence.

Even today,

I think of giving it all up,

to drift free in a low rent wilderness,

Where the best women won’t have sex.

These pangs visit at night,

But I still wake up and grind,

for a small piece,

of all the disassembled empires,

chaos has handed down,

since many lines before my Grandfather.

I am running after,

a dying lady,

in a dirty dress.

Friends and enemies,

on either side of me,

nourished by applause.

What does it mean to be a man?

Men arrive when the fleeting longings of their nights,

grow big enough,

to fill their days.


A house like this

Tonight I prepare for bed in a southern mansion house,

with a grand staircase, bedroom fireplaces, and absentee Manhattan owners.

I’ve always wanted a house like this.

To live in a house like this,

to die in a house like this.

But what is a house like this?

If not a stage on which to play your little part,

with those closest to you,

who love, support, and shelter you.

To own a house like this is a blessing.

But one that pales in comparison,

to a happy family.

Because in truth,

a happy family is,

a house like this.

The odd flights

I tend to take the odd flights,

the ones with empty seats.

12:55 on a Wednesday,

to some place,

far away,

I’ve imagined as happy for me.

A place I could move,

stay awhile,

then fly away,

somewhere happier.

It’s the corporate flights I avoid,

7:15 on a Friday evening.

The lawyers and bankers,

on their way home,

marching to someone else’s routine.

I never wanted that,

so I fly mid-day.

And yet,

crammed in the middle seat,

on my way from New York to Chicago,

I find myself enjoying the satisfied energy,

of a day fully spent.

A banker on my left,

a lawyer to my right.

Neither want to talk to me.

But they teach me.

Happiness does not equal,

the absence of routine.

My bloody jaw

Just like cats sometimes do,

for their owners,

I leave what I’ve killed,

at her doorstep,

and say,


Look at me now.

At what I’ve done,

at who I’ve become.

But no matter how intense the hunt,

gifts from cats inspire humor,

never awe.

They end up in the trash,

not on the mantle.


by a foreign species,

now closed,

to the possibility,

of any lasting value,

springing from the clutches of my bloody jaw.

The safety of time

Time gives safety,

to a poem,

too true,

to send off right away.


and weeks,


the most immediate nakedness.

They wash away,

a little bit of the hurt.

So when you read this,

you no longer know what I feel,

but you can see,

what I felt.

The Tao of Uber

Heaven and earth are not out to make friends;

Thus, they treat all creatures as straw dogs.

The sage is not out to make friends;

Thus he treats the people as straw dogs.

Perhaps this is something like a bellows between heaven and earth:

It is empty, but never exhausted;

It moves, and creatures manifest endlessly.

A lot of words will get you nowhere;

Better to just stay centered.

Tao Te Ching


We can build, and build, but heaven and earth don’t respect the laws of society. Much of what we concern ourselves with on a day to day basis will, ultimately, be washed away.

There’s a lot of talk in the startup community about “changing the world.” While I have tremendous respect for anyone brave enough to build a business, the fact is that companies like Uber and AirBnb aren’t changing the world, they’re changing the transportation and hotel industries for a narrow segment of the population. If you listen to the investors who got in early on these startups, or talk to the founders themselves, you’ll hear a different story.

But where are all these players 100 years from now?

I believe you can admire and support innovators, without taking such a small view of the world as to think they own it.

We don’t own, we all rent.

That reality should force us to work with humility, to accept fortune with humility.

Curating desire

Thus being forever without desire,

you look deeply into the transcendent.

By constantly harboring desire,

your vision is  beset by all the things around you.

Tao Te Ching



Your vision is beset by all the things around you…

Desires that are fed, only grow hungrier. Desire puts our gaze forever on the horizon, robbing us of what we’ve actually been given. In a state of desire, we can’t focus on where we are, only on what we plan to attain.

When we “harbor” desires, the world becomes full of things to desire, and these desires frame our lives.

I haven’t owned a car in awhile, and never paid much attention to different models on the road. After leasing my car, I see models similar to mine everywhere. I’ve tuned into the car “channel.” Now I see drivers with my car, as well as drivers with the bigger better model. “Maybe next time I should get that car, with those options…”

Indulgence of desire sheds light on a million other things we should be desiring, each of them perfect until they’re attained.

This view is echoed in one of the Bodhisattva Vows:

Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to end them

Answering desire changes the way we see everything in the world.

You look deeply into the transcendent.

By contrast, when we free ourselves from desire, we see things as they are. We no longer see things to attain or possess, we see things to experience and enjoy.

And by seeing what we have for the first time, we transcend a common trap keeping us from the state of happiness we hope to achieve by our constant planning to fulfill desire. We can stop deferring happiness.

The ordinary and boring (ordinary and boring because we have it) is the doorway to the transcendent.

To act independent from desire is to act with integrity.

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 47:

Your right is to action alone, never its fruit.

Practical application: 

For those of us unlikely to become ascetics, perhaps the goal is to curate desire in a mindful way.

Mindlessly flinging ourselves at desires is a recipe for an unpleasant journey down the rabbit hole, but can some desire be good?

Can we live with mindful desire (goals), without living as slaves to our desires? Is it possible to curate useful desire, while discarding unconscious desire?