Cold Muse


Once I wrote a poem

that reached into my pants

to stroke me.


And then,

in the very last line,

it whispered to me about love.


All the words stood

erect on the paper,

and my life became


an act of rising.

I rose

from the breakfast table


in wing-tipped shoes.

I rose from my bed

on a cloud.


For a week I saw God everywhere –

in the brick, the nail,

the pavement, the nylon sky,


the holy gleam

of hungry teens

posing on the corner.


Imagine how shallow

and cheap I felt

when the poem no longer spoke to me,


and a filthy leer

crept across the milky face

of the next blank page.



A Vampire Sees His Reflection in Your Eyes


This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed, but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. – Bram Stoker, Dracula


What is an identity

to one with no reflection?


Even as a child, when my loud aunt

bent towards me to pinch my cheek raw and shriek,

“You’re such a doll.  I could eat you right up,”

I knew I was not a snack.

I knew I was nobody’s tidbit.


I grew up clumsy, but I was never a big galoot.

I may have knocked a few vases to the ground,

but not by flailing my spidery limbs.  I’m not spidery.

I’m shaped more like a beetle or roach,

but I’m no kind of bug.


It’s also true I’m not just a Regular Joe.

I can see you glancing over your shoulder, nervous.


I’m not a lug.  I’m not a lout.

I’m not a chucklehead, bubblehead, airhead,

dickhead, or putz. I’m not a wanker

(at least not in the broader sense of the term).

I’m not a jamoke.  I’m not a tool.


And make no mistake:  I am not yours.

Not your buddy, not your pal, not your guy and not your dude.

I will never be your bro, if that title requires cheap vodka,

obscene gestures and stupid grins at filthy jokes.

You can take your beer pong and shove it up your ass.


But, don’t get me wrong.

None of this means we can’t take a walk together.



I carry a thousand years of history but I don’t identify

with any tribe – somewhat German, somewhat Jewish.

I am not Transylvanian.  I’m more translucent than white –

you can see a headlight glaring a block away

when you gaze through my chest and out the other side.


I would like to be a hero of somebody’s revolution,

but I’m no hero, except maybe to my dog.

I’m not a martyr.  I’m not a saint.  I’m not the genuine article.

My rage is mostly borrowed.

My joy is mostly unearned.


Imagine how it feels to move through the world

and never cast a shadow.


I’m not a killer or a thief.

I’m not a victim or a witness.

I’m not innocent or guilty.

I may not be fully alive,

but I’m sure as hell not dead.


On a night like this, standing silent

among the ashes and the ruins,

I hear the wind and I know I’m not alone.

That nasty dawn is coming soon.

Look at me.  Look at me now.


I know it isn’t possible, but I swear

I can see myself reflected in your eyes.


Your pupils are black holes,

consuming all the different things I’m not.

I circle the edges, adrift.

I have no rudder

and my anchor has no weight.


I know there’s something at the core,

a singularity — inescapable, searing, unquenchable.

In that way, at least, you and I are alike.

Look at me.  Look at me now.

Once I taste what’s in your heart


I will finally

know my name.



Glenn Pape is a recently retired, late middle-aged man living with his wife and a lovable terrier mutt who looks like a cross between Bernie Sanders and a loofah.  They are settled comfortably in an old house in Northeast Portland, Oregon.  

Although first captured by poetry (reading and writing it) in childhood, it was only upon reaching his mid-fifties that Glenn put any effort into submitting his work.  In the past few years he has been published in the “North American Review,” “The Sun,” “Poet Lore,” “Pulp Literature,” and “The Rhysling Anthology,” among others.