Thursday, November 23, 2017

what cold?

I don't feel
the cold.
i'm numb to the wind.
I can
walk into all day
and not
button my coat,
tighten the scarf
around my neck.
I hold my in hat
in hand.
squint into the winter
sun.
low and white
between bare
trees.
i'm in a different place
now.
tomorrow will be
different.

silver planes

the faces
of those arriving,
luggage in hand,
the embrace.
the tears
of those departing,
final turns,
and waves.
strangers
to me.
but the warmth and glow
of love
and
friendship
hovers
as I drive home
beneath the red glow
of silver
planes.

the rain

a sheet
of rain falls across
the world.
but the world
spins on its axis.
the sun
comes into play.
the rain
will end. night
will
become day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

the queen of gravy

she offers to give
me a recipe
for gravy
as i hang wallpaper
in the dining
room
a day before the holiday.
i can write it down for you
so you'll have
it she says,
already writing on a pad of paper.
i see little turkeys
and pilgrims
at the top of the pad.
real gravy
is the only way
to go, she says, nodding
her head.
stay away from those packaged
gravies.
i mean look at me, do i
know gravy, or do i
know gravy.
she pinches the side
of her stomach
and jiggles her belly.
she winks.
yes indeed she says.
i know gravy.

hearts and bones

there is so much
we don't know, so much beneath
the surface.
beneath the water,
below
the linear
movement of our lives.
the tip of the ice berg
is often
all we see, but
even that can sink our
ship.
even the smallest of holes
can
send us to the bottom
with hearts
and bones undone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

the red balloon

a red balloon has gotten
loose
and swims
in the cloudless
blue sky.
i follow it as it dips
and sways
floats so easily away
with string attached,
somewhere a child
is wondering,
as i often do,
what's up with this world
where nothing
stays forever,
no matter how hard
you grasp.

we can catch them

the cop
looks ready for war when
he arrives
in his unmarked car
with his dna kit.
his gun, his badge,
his vest.
his other gun.
his radio
crackling.
did you leave your
car unlocked? he asks.
it locks on its own,
I tell him.
he comes into the house
and sits down.
his holster is in the way.
I look at his polished boots,
his baton.
he's matter of fact
about it all.
but nice and compassionate.
he tells me about
the time his car was stolen.
it doesn't make me feel
any better.
we can catch them, he
says. don't worry.
we catch them all the time.

where is it?

I can't find the spot
we need
to scrape off the top of your
head
the doctors tells
me, holding a light
on my smooth dome.
she looks at the picture
on the monitor,
goes back to my
scalp.
where about was it?
she asks,
I point. I shrug.
I don't know, I tell
her.
somewhere up there.
I can't scrap if I don't
see anything she says.
what else you got?
I point at two spots
on my back that itch like
crazy.
she takes out her freezer
gun
and blasts them
away.

confession

how many years
since your last confession
the priest
asks me.
as I bend
in the darkened box.
too many I reply.
decades.
let's call it thirty.
so I round it off
to the nineteen seventies.
the sins,
like dirty snow
have been plowed to the side
of my
road.
does he need detail?
I spare him. I spare me.
the penance
is light, but the absolution
is mighty.

the easy swipe

they break into your car.
steal
money.
steal your wallet.
your credit
cards.
the photos, though
few are tucked
in the inside
pocket.
they take a gps.
they are quiet in
the early
morning dark.
a cigarette one was
smoking is left behind.
by 7 am.
they are using the cards.
eating breakfast,
buying gas,
purchasing small things
that they need.
that we all need.
holding up your driver's
license
and getting a good
laugh.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

the scream

it's a formal letter.
stamped
and printed out,
signed by a variety of people
on the board.
it's detailed and long,
but the gist
of it is that I put
a bag of trash out too
early
on the curb, before dark,
and left one behind
a bush
where they found it
and were horrified.
I can almost see their hands
upon their faces,
mouths wide open
emitting a scream.
(see Edvard Munch's The Scream)
but the letter,
it's a legal document.
there's a wax seal embedded
at the bottom. blood red.
i'm on a list now,
i have a record. i'm
being watched.
I almost feel like
a communist in the 50's.
I am a Rosenberg.
I ball up the letter and put
it in a bag of trash.
I set that out behind the bush.
it should be dark
in a few hours.

why the corn starch

is there a reason
that I have three unopened bottles
or ray's original
barbeque sauce?
or four boxes of rigatoni,
six cans of soup.
campbells rice and chicken noodle.
two boxes of white rice
from uncle ben?
one wild, the other not so wild.
is there a reason,
to have so much brown
sugar
hardened in the bag,
or flour,
or corn starch?
why for the corn starch?
what is it anyway.

the stone steps

the cold air
constricts my lungs.
the wind pushes me around.
I bend
and inhale, stop half
way up the stone steps
to catch my breath.
the world is covered
in yellowed leaves.
it doesn't seem
that long ago
when I ran down, ran
back up so easily.
going to the stream
to find
a tree
to carve our names
into.

a quilted world

the woman has a sewing
room
like no other.
six machines in line,
the largest and newest one
the cost of a small
car.
loaded with soft ware.
a rainbow of spools
are aligned
like soldiers dressed
for battle. the
stacks of quilts are
everywhere.
hung on the walls, draped
over chairs.
packaged and ready
to be sent to children,
grandchildren,
dear friends,
somewhere.

through a glass

sorrow
brings you to your knees.
through a glass darkly,
you suddenly
know exactly what that means.
what's dark
is darker still.
what's light is too hard
to bear.
you understand so much
when
surrendered, when no
longer
thinking of what you need
or want.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

fingers like sauages

she tells me,
from ohio, that when she wakes
up
in the morning that her fingers
are swollen
like sausages.
I open the fridge,
and take out two eggs,
crack them into a pan
of melting butter.
she
says that her life is
going
down the drain.
I toss the shells
into the sink,
letting the water
flush them away
into the grind of the disposal.
I have so little time
to do the things I want to do,
she whispers, she sighs
into the phone.
I look at the clock
on the wall, on the stove,
on the microwave,
on the phone.
all saying different
things.

what's in the box

I find a card
she wrote, an earring,
a shoe.
a lipstick bullet,
a poem she wrote
when we were new.
I find
what used to be
so dear
inside a box.
I wonder if she does
the same
for me.
keeping it in a
closet,
or letting it all go.

close to the basket

the tall
boy, has no problem
under the hoop.
they throw the ball
to him
and without hardly
a jump
the ball slides off
his hand
and goes in.
it's easy for him.
we want
all of life to be that
easy,
to be that tall
and close
to the basket.

the loose thread

I pull the thread
and
tear apart what was made,
thin
as it was, loosely knit
and woven.
I pull
the thread and have it
all come undone.
how we often we unravel
the things
we want or need,
then start again.

the son

the son
is coming into town.
girl friend too.
it's been years since I've
seen him.
felt his hand in mine,
kissed his cheek.
was it yesterday
that I rocked him to sleep.
read to him,
helped him
with his homework,
argued, or threw a ball
across the yard
into his hands.
the son is coming into
town,
his girl friend
too.
there are small joys
in the world
and there are large ones.
this would be
the later.

Friday, November 17, 2017

far from anywhere i know

the electrician
arrives with his son.
they are country.
they are going hunting
for deer
and turkey when they leave
this job.
I tell them that safeway
has turkeys now,
which makes them laugh
and push back their straight
parted hair.
like father like son.
they go to work.
no music on.
no words said. I hear
one whistling, but I don't
know the song.
I bring them water.
in time the young boy
comes up
the stairs
and says, mister, we're
done.
I pay them, we all shake
hands,
then off they go to kill
a turkey
somewhere far from anywhere
I know.

the whole pie

my waitress, tina,
sees me come into the diner
and winks.
be with you in a minute hon,
she says.
she's wearing pink
today.
a black apron, her hair
up, a pen
stuck behind her ear.
a little too much rouge,
a little heavy on the red
lipstick.
but why not?
I can see smudges on her
nice teeth.
she holds out her pad
and says,
the usual?
I think for minute,
perusing the laminated
menu.
turning it over and over
again.
yeah, I say.
the usual.
one coffee, one slice
of apple
pie, she says, writing
it down on her pad.
leave the pot on the table
I tell her. a fresh pot
if you could and
cream and sugar. oh,
and the pie, the whole
pie.
the whole pie?
yup, I tell her.
rough day darling? she asks.
you don't want to know
I tell her. you don't want
to know.

we are late

we are late
in being who we want to be,
who we
really are.
we've missed so
many buses, gone
the wrong way, taken
unnecessary detours.
hopped the wrong train.
we are so far behind,
off schedule.
is it the journey, or
arriving
that keeps our feet
going
one foot in front
of the other.
maybe a little of both.

to clean house

i clean
the house. i go at it.
with mop
and broom.
i find dust everywhere.
i scrub
the floors.
i vacuum the carpet.
wipe
the windows,
the shelves. knock down
the cobwebs
in the corners.
i empty the closets.
i am quiet in my work.
all day.
into the night.
so
much to do, to get
there. i want to get
there.

into the woods

i remember being
betrayed.
lied to. hurt beyond words.
i remember
lying in bed
in tears. aching. unable
to eat.
to sleep.
to do anything but
walk
bent into the woods
seeking comfort.
i remember
kneeling in the dirt
beside
a stream.
in the dark wet soil,
and staying there
for hours
wanting the pain
to go away. in time it
did.
but i can bring it up
and remember
that bittersweet broken
moment at any time.
i don't wish it on
others. ever.

confession

I settle into the confession
booth
to confess my sins.
this could take awhile
I tell the priest
through the mesh screen
in the darkened
closet.
I can see him
shadowed in the soft
light, head
bent awaiting my words.
I ask him if he's ready.
I am if you are, he
says.
so I begin.
it's been 50 years since
my last confession,
I tell him.
oh my, I hear him say.
I imagine him rolling up
his sleeve to look
at his watch.
I hear a bottle of water
opened
and a loosening of
his collar. please begin,
he says.
okay, I tell him, but I
really need this,
so bear with me. there's
a lot that i'm sorry for.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

pain and suffering

what damage we do
to one another, the cold careless
ways
that we behave.
the blasé
attitude towards
love
and sex, affection
and friendship.
the selfishness of desire.
what sorrow and pain
comes after
when it breaks.
when the light comes on
and you
see what you
have done. no words
can
say enough to heal
these wounds to make
it right again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

giddyup

I put away my
cowboy hat, my spurs,
my chaps.
I take off my bolo tie
and rhinestone shirt.
I sell my horse and saddle.
I give my
canteen away, three bags
of oats.
my pop guns
are on ebay.
I was never a cowboy
to begin with.
just a guy
riding from town to
town
looking for a girl
named ginger.

hey

I get into a discussion
with a toll
booth operator, but it's short.
very short.
in fact,
it's hey,
and hey back.
on a cold rainy
day like this, it's all
the conversation I can
handle
with strangers.

dog dance

the dog wants to dance.
to embrace.
he puts
his paws up on your chest
and
leans with all
his weight, acting as if
he's never
once been petted, walked
or loved
one bit.
who doesn't need that
kind of affection?

circumstances

keeping
safe while in the tornado
is more
important than
wishing it gone.
all in good time.
it's here, let it blow,
let it roll,
hold on.

the dented can

the dented can
is cheaper. on sale.
holding what?
tomatoes and such.
green beans.
the poor dented can,
there so long
on the store shelf with
perfect friends,
untouched.
no different on the inside,
but pushed
aside just
the same
for a brighter more
perfect can.

galloping along

the more one has to do,
the more things get done.
a day off gets you nowhere.
sleeping in.
indulging oneself
under the grey rain
with books and such.
but if the clock
is on you,
if the list long,
off you go, a race horse
galloping
towards
the finish.

staying home

change is hard.
old age
keeping us where
we've always been.
with things just so,
the chair
in the corner,
the sofa with its
imprint of us
when we rise.
the vase
on the mantle.
the parted curtains
letting light in.
all the comforts of
home.
a tea kettle rattling
on the stove.

they need more

hardly worth
the effort convincing someone
who does
not believe
in God, some God, some
power.
no words
can win them over.
no church or dogma.
no scripture.
not love,
or hate, or flower.
no beast
of the jungle, or bird
in the sky.
they need more than
the miracle of life
to say I get it now.
they need
a plane going down,
death
at their door
to put their hands together.

Monday, November 13, 2017

good cheer

we had a cheer in high school
that went like this.
the whole student body
knew it
and said it loudly at a game.
I've got some vodka,
up in my locker
and if we win
we get some gin, but
if we lose we get no
booze. go wild cats!
the parents and teachers
were horrified.
but laughed just the same,
then took their flasks
out and sipped
while huddled in the stands
on a cold winters day.

wild flowers

I forgot
that I had thrown
the wild flower
seeds
around the bare
brown
square of a desolate
yard
I own.
so when they arrive,
after winter,
popping
up in bright colors
at their own
free will,
i'm
pleasantly
surprised.

making it a day

they are so busy.
these monkeys in the zoo.
look at them
picking
at one another. kindly.
jumping from branch
to branch.
making noises. arguing.
swinging from the vines.
making a day
of it.
here they are.
here
they'll stay.
cage to grave. no
different, perhaps
than me or you,
I hate to say.

let's talk

I haven't heard from
Mary in some time. no cards,
no letters,
no calls.
no updates on her new
digs in Miami.
at ninety five any day
could be her
last day.
I need to call her.
talk
the trash we used
to talk.
say remember when.
say all the things we
always say.
nothing's new, nothing's
changed.
let's keep it that way.

like it never happened

they take
down the statues. heave ho.
a man on his horse
with sword drawn.
history
ain't what it
used to be.
we're offended
so easily by what was
wrong.
we're fragile, let's
pretend
that today is all there
is,
that the past never
happened.
let's erase
the bad
and make a new world.

jersey girl

she's a jersey girl.
bright
eyed
and smart. but
not a boardwalk girl.
not a wild
thing
in the club or on
the beach.
she's a jersey girl.
up the coast
along the ocean.
she smiles,
she waves, she winks.

small town

they move away
to a small town after
working hard
their whole lives.
the money saved. they
move to a place
where no one knows them.
where the sky
is large the hills green.
there's a church
on every corner.
people wave and say hello.
they bring pans of food,
pies to welcome them.
it's picturesque and
pristine.
but there's not much to do
once it's done.
and in time
they're bored out of their
minds
and move back
to civilization.

cook it slow

cook it slow.
on low.
all day.
stir and spin,
turn the light on,
take a look.
nice and easy.
let the heat
soak in.
let the juices flow.
cook it slow.
on low
all day.
by night it's
ready.

night or day

it has
no schedule of its own.
night
or day.
when you're in a crowded
room,
alone.
there is no rhyme no
reason
found.
no getting from point
a to
b.
it just happens.
the heart comes around.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

a good dog

the old
dog on the floor.
runny eyes, and tired.
hardly hears
the door bell anymore.
she smells
like
the yard, the woods.
her bark
a whispered growl.
the tail
is unwagging, she limps
to her bowl.
the tongue
set still. she's a good
dog.
a fine
piece of God's work,
about to run
free
in a long sweet field
of grass.

a shade of blue

she was most happy
when she was unhappy.
the ex wife.
ancient history now
and
hard to explain, but true.
nothing
pleased her more
than a gift
she didn't want,
a ring, a blouse,
a sweater, or jewel.
the wrong color, or fit,
or style
made her swell with
joy.
what was there to do
but keep
trying. maybe green,
maybe gold,
maybe a different
shade of blue.

cutting down the tree

my father would pull over
in his
turquoise impala
leave the engine running,
kids and mom
in the car
and with a dull saw
go down into the woods
off the mt. Vernon parkway
to chop down
a Christmas tree.
drinking was involved.
we were on federal park
land, it made
no difference, red faced
and blowing
out coughs
of cigarettes and whiskey
he'd tie the tree onto the roof
of his car
and off we'd go.
merry Christmas.

lace, to let the light in

she tells me that she would
be happy
in a cardboard box
behind the liquor store.
i'd be perfectly content
with that, she says.
we'd need pillows, I tell her.
a warm blanket.
chardonnay she adds in.
maybe
a toaster oven, I offer.
yes, she says.
and a bowl
and mixer to make cookies.
we'd need a big box,
I tell her.
big enough to stretch out
and read,
enough room
to do the sunday crossword
puzzle.
maybe some curtains too,
she says,
lace
to let the light in.

the table

in time
the wood is smooth.
the edges, the corners
rounded
by hands,
by elbows, arms
leaning
against it.
hands pressed
to write things down.
in time the wood is
different,
becoming what it's
meant to be.
discolored and stained.
nicked
and bruised, but perfectly
used and somehow
new,
like us.

not alone in this

the storm
brings out the candles.
the flashlights.
the blankets.
pour a drink. find the couch
in the dark,
lie back
and listen to the wind.
we're not alone
in this.

green

i'm jealous
of her past lovers.
of the kisses she may have
shared
with them.
the cookies baked.
the cards
sent and signed with
love.
I'm green with envy.
dark
and restless knowing
what I know,
wondering about what
I don't.
I can only imagine
how she
deals with the likes
of me.

the new scarf

she left a scarf.
in fact she left everything behind.
some of which I kept.
the perfume
on silk.
a pin, a picture.
a sock.
what can one
take into
the next life?
nothing much.
but the scarf. wrapped around
a hanger,
next to a new
one is still there.
it's time
to let things go,
start anew. its time
to wrap
the new scarf around me,
let her keep
me warm.

fog

it's a vague
soft fog that comes along
on cat's
paws.
gentle in the night,
a blanket
of grey,
a cool wave of darkened
light.
it's how I feel
when
i'm dismayed.
confused or uneasy about
tomorrow.
I step warily
across the street,
first the left foot,
then the right.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

room at the table

the myth of family
that the larger one is
the more siblings get along.
that you can't wait to see one another
and share your lives.
but sometimes,
not always,
norman Rockwell got it wrong.
despite the same mother,
the same father,
raised under the same roof.
something went
awry along the way
and can't be fixed with
human
hands.
divine intervention
of the first order is needed
to right this ship.

the food chain

we are all part
of someone's food chain.
the a list, the b list.
or in reserve.
who gets the best seat,
the first
served?
who gets the call in
the middle of the night,
a postcard
when away.
who gets the news first?
who brings you cake
and wants to stay the night?

pass the gravy

we don't worry much
about the turkey.
we have no musket to chase
it down
as it tries so hard
to fly away
but can't,
born to stay on the ground.
the food we bring to the table
is ready.
head gone,
wings
and legs,
no feathers to fuss
about.
no eyes or heart
remain. it has no name.
just white and dark
meat that
we baste and baste,
roast all day,
say grace, then eat.

lost and found

a loose ring
found
in the change jar.
gold, without the shine.
a wedding ring from
years ago,
thought lost after
a handful
of moves.
it no longer slips
over
the knuckle
into place. it never
fit then
either.

new eyes

is there a place
I haven't been but want to go?
none that I can
think of, at least alone.
but with the right
hand
in mine, and mine in hers,
this all changes,
nearly everything,
every place is new again,
and i'm ready
with new eyes for the road.

the radio

a radio might last
a year,
maybe two if it doesn't
fall off a roof,
or down a flight of stairs.
paint splattered,
gelled with glue,
caulking on the knobs.
the antennae in time
is bent
or broken off,
the speaker scratchy
with static.
batteries long dead,
the cord wrapped around
the middle.
but every now and then
I can hear song
or two eek out,
something that makes
the day go easier,
makes me remember a girl
I knew,
a place a time, when
we were younger.

betty's brownies

I find my mother's old cookbook
in a stack
of other things
to be thrown away.
the woven cover is stained
with years
of cooking.
baking.
making due with what she
had to work
with.
it was all about the substitutes
back then.
I see her handwritten notes,
next to all the things
she made for us
when growing up.
add this, take away that.
the crumpled notes for
betty's brownies,
joe's barbeque sauce.
gloria's lasagna.
I can almost see her hands
on the pages,
the book open on the counter
by the stove
as she wiped her glasses
clean
then began.

Friday, November 10, 2017

the food pyramid

when growing up
bacon was at the top
of the food pyramid
followed by milk
and bread, eggs,
butter. chicken and
steaks.
cake.
there's an alfalfa sprout
up there now.
parsley
and kale. an apple.
tofu.
soy milk
and salmon.


off the tracks

she sweeps
and sweeps. there is something
on her hand
that won't come off.
she stands at the sink
running water
over her hands,
rubbing.
she touches the corner
of each table
then circles back to
do it once more,
stepping carefully
away from the lines in
the tile.
she takes her cat
and goes sits in the closet
while we work.
a crease of light
falls against them from
the nearly shut
door.
somewhere the train
has gone off the tracks.

the boss of me

one boss kept a pad
in his pocket to write down
hours worked.
to the minute. subtracting
for lunch, for breaks, for
clean up.
another boss, said I knew
nothing.
yelling at me in the office,
a cigarette
clenched in his teeth.
his shirt sleeves rolled
up like a bantam boxer
about to go into the ring.
one boss was mysterious.
bland as toast.
never saying what he meant,
never meaning what he
said. another boss
would ride by in his
white Cadillac to see how
the job was going.
he was suntanned with a slick
mane of brown hair.
he liked to show us his golf
clubs in the trunk.
his new girlfriend would
be sitting in the car
doing her nails. but
there were good bosses too.
kind and compassionate,
telling me to stay home,
sleep, get some rest, you
don't sound well.

the rising tide

the rainy day
money. the change in the jar.
the bills
folded and slipped
neatly into
the box
are spent now.
the sea wall, the tattered roof.
it's been raining for some
time
at this wind blown
beach house.
I see the water rising,
moving like
a blue fist towards
the sand
filled yard.
I imagine the ocean's
wants
are stronger than mine.
you can't stop
what's coming. something
is telling me it's time
to move on.

are your shoes dirty?

are your shoes dirty?
it's the first thing she asks
when i enter
the house.
not how are you, so good
to see you,
i'm glad you came.
do you mind taking off your
shoes,
she says. we want to keep
the carpet clean.
so I do, sitting on the steps,
watching her
dog in the corner,
on the rug
relieving himself.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

let it go

I put out fifteen years
of junk
on the curb for trash pick up.
computers,
monitors, printers.
mirrors and pictures never
hung.
jackets and shoes.
old books I never read.
I drag out the rugs,
the bags of paper bills,
debris from so many years.
so much grey water
under the bridge.
it's a large heap
by the hydrant when I leave
for work.
I am pleased to see it
all gone when I return home.

the girl in the front row

i fell in love
with the girl in the front row.
the smart girl
with dark
hair. where was she from?
Europe we guessed.
a hint of French in her voice.
she was different, so neat
and nice,
so polite. she wasn't like
the other girls.
she knew who she was,
there was no
confusion about this
world we were growing
into, this life.
i would write her name
on a piece of paper.
over and over again,
next to mine.
i imagined how perfect life
would be together
if i was hers,
and she was mine.

punching the clock

i don't miss the office.
the work,
the grind of it.
the bosses.
the endless birthday parties
and store made
cake.
i don't miss
the copying machine, the soft
cubicles of mauve
and blue.
the shimmering fluorescent lights
above the maze of lost
souls
set out like cages
in a zoo.
i don't miss the bad coffee,
or the daily
meetings
of blowing hot air.
the chit chat, asking so what
did you do
this weekend.
i don't miss the cheap
ties i wore,
or bad shoes,
the worn suits. the dry cleaned
shirts starched
heavy in the collar.
i don't miss
any of it, except happy
hour at five.

i'm leaving town

i tell my ex that i'm leaving
town.
in fact,
leaving earth, i
tell her that i'm now with
the space program.
if you look up into the sky
I tell her,
and the sky is really black
you may see my capsule heading
towards mars.
she doesn't believe me.
i show her my
space suit
my helmet, my oxygen
tank, and jar of tang.
my space sandwiches
and cookies. a can
of spam.
still,
she thinks i'm trying to
pull the wool over her
eyes, trying to gaslight
her once again
and get away with something.
nothing changes
between me and her. nothing.

the beltway

the race track bores me.
the left turn for hours on
screeching wheels,
rubber burning, the wrecks
and flags
waved yellow.
the tow trucks clearing
the debris.
the ambulance careening
loudly down
the side lane.
I can get that on my
to work
each morning.

cream filled

the bakery
you remember. the smell
walking
by on your way to school.
the air
warm
with cinnamon
and dough. peering
through the window
with cupped hands at
the pastries, donuts.
the old man in his white
apron, tired
already at 7 am.
the bell above
the door swinging
open.
digging
deep into your dungaree
pockets
for enough change to buy
just one,
chocolate covered,
cream filled
without a hole.

do it like this

all day the boy
skips rocks across the still
water
of a pond.
standing at the shore,
finding the flat stones,
and flinging them
sideways,
as he was shown
by his father
it was a small thing
given.
but it will take
the rest of his life
to keep trying
to get it right.

one or the other

there's beauty in everything
I suppose,
and ugly
too.
take the snow
for instance. the soft petals
of flakes
at first.
then the grey sludge
of it all
as cars plow through with
blue exhaust.
pick one or the other,
but you have
to choose.

in a summer dress

who would want me,
he says, stroking the brush
against
a window sash.
i'm done with women,
with love.
sex.
I've had my fun, my
share
of that.
i'm an old man now, past
my prime.
who would want me, he
says,
playing with his grey
beard
and staring out
at a young woman walking by
in her summer dress.
his eyes on her
until she turns the corner
and disappears.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

the red bird

the card
is sweet. happy birthday.
love mom.
it's fifteen years old
at least.
signed with her distinctive
catholic
script.
a small red bird is on
the front.
a sticker of a dog is
inside.
she's drawn a heart
around my name.
i'm surprised
when the twenty falls
out into my hand.
so much
of her is still giving.

oh well

i can't reach
her arm as she stands on
the corner
with her sign. her hand
reaches out
to me,
but we don't meet.
so i crumble the bill
and toss it
towards her
as the light changes
and
the car behind me beeps.
she's unhappy with this
exchange of money
and waves
to me
as i look back through
the mirror,
with one finger.

friendships

it's hard
to love and leave.
to say farewell,
to walk away
and not look back.
who can do that?
I always look back,
taking the good with
me,
and hoping
friendships
will survive,
that they can
be found
again with passing
time.

shredding

my shredder can't keep up.
it fills to the brim
with old bill
confetti. cards and letters.
greetings from afar.
lists of things
to do,
that may or may not have
been done.
circa 2001,
and before.
bins of stuff I don't
need, but
have kept. an attic
full,
a basement that overflows
with the past.
numbers mostly.
the places lived,
the places left.
the people who I have known,
or
crossed paths
with.

every vote counts

i go to vote,
just barely making it before
they close the doors
and begin the count.
i rush in telling the man
behind the counter
that whew, just made it.
he's wearing several American
flag pins on his jacket.
a red white and blue tie.
his hair is a golden comb over,
a meringue of yellow.
i'm soaked from the rain,
hungry and tired
from work.
he looks at me
and says, you've known
all day that you had
to vote, you should have
made better plans, and not
have been so rushed.
you almost missed it
young man.
he shakes his head at me
with disdain,
then scans my id.
what's your preference
i ask him, and he says.
i can't tell you that, but
let's make America
great again, okay.
he points to the other room,
go he says.
now go in there and fill
out your ballot. we have
to close in two minutes,
every vote counts.

tell me a joke

i tell my dad
the same jokes now.
his memory though sharp for his
age
is not quite what it was.
he likes
quick jokes.
play on words, that sort
of thing.
i keep a fresh one on a pad
in the kitchen
so that when we talk
on the phone
and end the conversation,
i can hear his distinctive
laugh before we say
goodbye.
a tree fell in the woods,
i tell him,
but no one heard it because
somebody's wife
kept talking.
he's always liked that one.

spider web

the spider web
in my shed was so large
that when I walked
into it
I couldn't get out.
there I was stuck next
to beetles and flies,
a bird or two,
a little kid
from down the street
and an old lady
who used to live
next door
who must have been
nosing around.
hey, I said. how long
have you been here.
a long time the kid said,
like maybe ten minutes.
I came in to get my
ball today
and got stuck.
the old woman
was sleeping, so I
didn't want to wake
her up.
how big is this spider?

again and again

if every one that had
a gun
shot themselves first
the problem would go
away.
I know.
not a fun thought.
but one that passed
through my
mind
while reading the paper,
listening again
to the blood
soaked news.

chicken or the egg

the chicken or the egg,
which one
came first. it doesn't matter.
scramble me up a few
with a side
order of hash browns
and bacon.
let's not turn this
breakfast into a therapy
session, dr.
freud, although I would
like to talk about
my mother, if you have
some free time later.

easy to be kind

it's easy to tell someone
don't worry,
be cool,
no stress or strain,
keep the faith.
this too shall pass.
it's easy to be on
the other side of the fence
when you're
in a good place.
when your world is going
well.
it's easy then to be kind,
not cruel.

for the good of the team

not all jobs are home runs
where all goes well.
some are
simply singles,
bunting a slow roller
down third just
to get on base,
or letting a pitch
strike you in
the arm, or leg,
for the good of the team.
the team
being me.
some jobs are sunny
with blue skies and birds
chirping.
a rainbow of love.
la de da jobs, while others,
well,
it's raining, it's grey,
it's cold and damp,
frowns arise,
and there may or may
not be a pay day.

Monday, November 6, 2017

we sing

we sing.
we dance, we do what
we can
to make the day
livable.
we eat, make love.
we make
room
for those that bring
us joy,
and us them.
we sing, we dance,
we are grateful
for what is,
what's given or
taken away, knowing
that both are
from above.

it'll melt

we're snowed in.
no one can get out,
or in.
the trucks haven't plowed,
it's still
coming down.
we stare out the windows
and think
this could be
the end.
but it isn't.
it's just snow.
like last year and the
year before.
our parents had snow,
and theirs.
we never quite
get used to the small
problems that come
then go again.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

guys buying jewelry

I see my friend jimmy
at the mall one day.
he's shopping for a ring for
his new
girl friend, betty jean.
hey, he says. help me
pick something out in this
jewelry store. it's over
there next to orange Julius.
what do you know about
white gold,
or the four C's?
clarity, color, carat,
I can't remember the other one.
but
i'm leaning towards zirconia.
I have no idea what you're
talking about, I tell
him, but let's take a
look see.
she's got giant fingers,
he tells me, enormous knuckles
from cracking them all the time,
and a stack of big black hair.
so I need a big ring. like
an Elizabeth Taylor
type ring.
we look at the glass cases
stuffed with
shiny rings and necklaces.
rubies, emeralds, topaz.
I want
something that shouts out
at you when you see it,
but affordable, i'm in between
jobs right now. but
something that when it catches
your eye in the light
it burns
your retinas. maybe a gemstone,
for her birthday, I tell him.
or a little turtle with stones
in them with a stick pin to wear
on her blouse.
yeah those are nice.
I bought one for my ex wife once,
but she never wore it.
she said she didn't want
to accidentally lose it.
what month was betty jean born in?
I don't know. good question.
I guess I could text her.
you really love this girl,
I tell him, don't you?
yeah, she's okay. tomorrow's
our anniversary. three weeks.

what's the deal

what's the skinny, the low
down,
the deal?
haven't seen you around
lately,
what's up with that?
got any dirt?
come on and spill
the beans, you're holding
out on me.
what's her name?
who is she? do I know her?
is she on face book,
linked in.
is she in the white pages?
I promise I won't tell
anyone.
whisper it in my
ear. it's just between
me and you.
no one else needs
to know.

doing business

i'll get back to you on
that.
i'll call you tomorrow.
i'll let you know.
give me a few
days
to sort things out.
I need to sleep
on it.
let's stay in touch.
if you don't hear
from me
in three days,
call me. I need to run
this by
my husband. he's
in Germany right now.
there's something up
with my
cat, and the vet bill
is out
the roof,
so can we touch
base after the holidays?
or after tax time?
in fact summer might be
best
after we take a vacation.
we appreciate you
returning our call right
away,
and driving out
in the rain
on a Tuesday night. but
will call you, okay?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

listen to my heart

I can't play the violin,
or drums,
the guitar,
or piano. I can't sing
very well,
or strum a harp.
my musical abilities
lie elsewhere.
I can whistle, tap a foot
to the beat.
put your ear up
and listen to my heart.

if i make it

if I make it to ninety,
god willing,
the cholesterol count
down,, blood pressure
low, weight
in place, i'd like to
be able to say,
finally,
that i'm done with
mistakes, that I have
hit my stride, no longer
apologizing for my
behavior, improved
from the year before at
eighty nine.

unscripted

it's free form,
this life,
unscripted from start to finish.
lines are flubbed,
cues missed,
spots on where to stand
ignored,
or dismissed.
wrong gestures are made,
dumb
things said
or done in spite of knowing
what's right
wrong.
we are so often misunderstood
going at it on the run,
spontaneous with so
much room
to improve upon.

Friday, November 3, 2017

suddenly

all skin
and bones, the hollow of
her chemo
eyes. her cheeks.
the dark lines, the thin
haired
scalp.
how quickly life
gives
then takes away.
what strange creatures
we are.
happy one day,
dying the next.
we wait in sickness
and see
the folly of so much,
the grasping
finally done, except
for friendships, except
for love.

shyness

the sun is
shy.
hardly lifting up her veil
to peek
out.
no warm and yellow
smile
today.
no bright
words, not even
a whisper, or kind thought
to share,
nothing
to melt away
the grey.

short bread

because she was so tall,
close
to six feet in length without
heels,
she called her online
dating journey
the march of the penguins.
she could never find
a man
who met her eye to eye,
shoulder to shoulder,
nose to nose.
well, you get the picture.
so she settled
for less. less being more,
of course and lived
happily ever after.

they just go

a flock
of birds heading south,
v shaped
on soft wings,
glide through the chilled
blue sky.
they take turns
leading, falling back,
then rising
higher, dipping lower.
they know
what we know,
but have little, if
anything to say
about it.
they just go.

the candy shoppe

the candy store is closed.
the sign
says going out of business.
the man
in his black apron,
mustached and silver haired
is in there, eating his
inventory
with his wife
and grandchildren.
they have chocolate all
over there faces.
no one wants a five
dollar
piece of chocolate
with a cherry or blueberry
inside, it seems.

in the cloud

the hand written letters are done.
few books are made containing
what we write
to one another.
our legacy
now is hey, what up.
a smiley face,
a grimace,
a photo of a cake.
every great writer, great
poet
wrote and wrote to those
they knew
or loved, or both.
licking the stamp
and giving it to the postman.
in the end,
together, what they wrote
made the man or
woman whole. we
saw what made them tick.
that's over. ancient history.
text me. e mail me.
leave a message
at the beep.
everything is in the cloud.

sediment and sentiment

the dog cage,
the flattened ball,
the suitcase never used
but once, hotel
room cards still in
the bag.
prescription glasses,
mine?
the dishes, the silver
ware from
the eighties.
all in boxes, in closets.
bank statements,
checks, stacks of
letters from who?
cards
signed with love.
one silk stocking,
one shoe.
cards saying don't ever
contact me
again, all kept together
as one.
the sediment and sentiment
in layers,
as I dig through.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

the eight count

some mornings it's
not unlike getting up from
the eight count.
woozy,
on bent knee rising
from the canvas
to go at it again.
gloves heavy in my hands.
stopping the bleeding,
putting ice
on the bruises,
trying to remember
to keep my guard up,
to jab and step,
jab and step, don't get
caught
with the right hook.
holding on, holding on,
looking at the clock,
waiting for
the bell to ring
to end the round.
it's almost Friday.

i'll take it

two women,
in their seventies, perhaps,
linger in
the jewelry store,
a guard at the door,
browsing
the counters made
of glass.
the girl takes out a ring,
a bracelet,
a brooch,
a handful of bracelets
for each of them to try on.
earrings.
they take off what they have
to put
the new in place,
then gaze at themselves
in the mirror,
setting their other shopping
bags down.
they are draped
in cashmere
and leather, hair done,
lips
sealed in lipstick
of a rich red color.
they have little to do it
seems but to
adorn themselves in silver,
in gold,
to find a way
to fill the void
that never ends.

fine dining

I remember vividly
the four petite
raviolis on my large
white plate.
new York city.
fine dining.
I kept looking for
the big steaming
bowl in the middle
of the table
for four more.
where's the meat balls,
the bread,
the salad, not these
strange green leafs
arranged
like a wreathe
with one or two
cherry tomatoes
and parsley.
thankfully ray's original
pizza was right
next door.

trying to get home

this is a crazy road.
the detours
the dirt
and stone, the unpaved
stretch
along the mountain.
the slick wet stripes
of the interstate.
this road
has no lights
no cop directing
traffic, no signs.
no toll.
it's just me
driving in all sorts
of weather
trying to get
home to you.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

don't leave me

I've lost track of how
long I've had
that bag of frozen peas
in the freezer.
years, maybe.
petite green peas, no less.
they give
me comfort though,
opening the door
each day to take out
an ice tray.
seeing them in there.
snuggled against
sweet corn and cut carrots,
also frozen.
i'd miss them if they'd
go.

time to go

the corner store
is closing and the new drug
store
will be in soon.
down goes
the hand made sign, the door
with the bell,
the crates
of fruit and vegetables
out front.
flowers, where did they
come from?
away goes
the man hosing down
the walk
in the early morning
sunlight.
they are old now.
why not take the money
and go.
why not let the water
of time
and progress
wash over them,
take them home to
that imaginary promised
land.

shadows

we worry about shadows.
the long
and short of it.
what's dark in the corner.
the alley.
what we
can't see, but
hear up in the attic.
we concern ourselves
with things
we have no control over,
like tomorrow, the weather,
our children,
each other.

waiting

we used to stare
into the sky
lying on the ground
in the narrow back yard
surrounded by
a chain link fence.
we put a blanket
down on the wet grass.
we looked up
into the blue black night
and counted stars,
we pointed at the ones
we knew.
imagined things to
come, what we would
wish upon when a comet
came through.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

they're coming

it's nearly dark.
they're coming.
I can almost hear
them
slipping into
their costumes.
readying their
bags, their pillow cases,
ghosts
and goblins,
witches,
vampires and other assorted
ghouls,
orange haired
and tweeting,
like the president.

the red fur coat

the rabid
fox creeps forward
in the early morning light,
dull eyed
and wobbling in her
red fur coat,
hardly
making a sound
as she approaches
to take a bite out
of my hand.
she reminds of someone
I once knew.

beyond all that

your shirt is
partially out,
there's
gum on your shoe,
you've missed several
spots in shaving,
a drop of blood has
coagulated on your chin.
there's
paint on your hand,
a shirt button
is missing,
a shoe lace has broken.
your zipper is half mast.
you're ready
to meet the love
of your life,
here she comes
with flowers in hand,
and strangely
she sees beyond all
that.

sleep in

it would be nice to sleep in.
you beside
me.
not a thing to do
but make love.
drink coffee, read.
maybe catch a movie,
have lunch.
tell each other things
we like to hear.
it would be nice to sleep in.
take advantage of
this weather,
the cold, the fog, the grey.
nice to have you
near, to sleep in.

drinking again

he's been drinking.
there's a new dent
in his car.
i smell
bourbon
on his breath. the new
black
eye is already
turning green and yellow.
he lights a
cigarette
and inhales deeply
as he sits on the front
porch
taking a break
from work.
at fifty eight, it
goes on,
this runaway train,
this
fear of calm.
finding comfort in
his island
of distress.

cheerio

after three years
in England they come back
different.
I notice piping on her clothes,
and the children
buttoned down
with coats and gloves,
hats like small
Winston churchills.
they're
talking about butter pies
and tea
at four. pints of ale.
saying things like cheerio
good man,
are we having fun today, my love?
everything
said in a question.
early are we?
well, aren't we the happy
fellow, etc.
you'll be careful
of the bloody snake
in the yard, won't you?
we don't want to get bitten,
do we?

the rusted car on blocks

the car
without tires.
the rusted car on blocks.
the car with the seats torn,
the stuffing
coming out. the radio gone.
the car we drove to the beach,
the car
we made love
in. the car that went
to the drive-in
on Saturday nights.
the car I washed and waxed,
and polished the fenders.
the car that we wrecked
in the fog
when
the rain came down.
the car that squeaked,
that rattled,
that blew exhaust
out the back.
the car we drove
to our honeymoon
in Myrtle Beach.
the streamers on the back.
grand opening painted
on the side.
the car we drove the baby
home from the hospital in.
the car we drove to work,
drove the boy to school
in. the car I saw
one night
behind the motel at the edge
of town.
the car
I got in the settlement
when the divorce
came through.
the car without tires,
the rusted car on blocks.

Monday, October 30, 2017

on a night just like this

as we sit around
the campfire telling horror
stories,
I talk about a date I once
had with a woman
named Betty.
everyone screams, no, they
say, please don't tell
that story again,
I couldn't sleep for
days after hearing it
last year. I ignore
their pleas though,
and begin.
it was a cold, black night.
the rain was pelting the ground
in fury.
her house was nestled at the end
of a gravel road
in god forsaken wheaton Maryland.
loose shutters banged against
the side boards.
I met her on a scary sinister
dating site called
match dot com. she called
herself, the lady in red.
her photo was of a slinky
blonde haired woman in
heels, but now, in person
she was covered in
tattoos and holding a can
of beer. a cigarette dangled
from her pouty lips
when she answered the door.
a bathrobe was tied loosely
around her ample waist.
where was the lady in red?
perhaps this was her aunt.
a green cream was smeared on
her face, her hair was wrapped
in a turban, a wet towel
tightly wound, set high
like a dairy queen cone.
she said my name as she kicked
open the screen door with a bare foot.
you must be my date, right?
I nodded meekly, and said softly,
lady in red?
you got it buster, she said.
her voice was gravelly,
rough with scotch and smoke,
from gargling
broken shards of glass, perhaps.
come in she said,
come in my pretty
and have a seat. I just
need to put some clothes on.
don't worry I clean up well.
as if in a trance, I obeyed her.
I went in. my eyes glazed over
in fear. my life passed before
my eyes.
I listened for the sound
of a chain saw, but heard none.
beers in the fridge, she said,
pointing towards a dark
linoleum room.
her dogs howled, the moon
appeared through a broken cloud.
in the distance
a baby was crying.
the wind bent the trees
with a groan.

too much fun

it's a roller coaster
ride,
a ferris wheel,
i'm lost in the fun house,
dizzy in the lights.
I've got
sticky fingers
and lips from the cotton
candy,
the candied apple,
the fried
something or other.
I may be having fun, but
I may keel over,
I may get sick in
the corner,
I may die and i'm only
five. hold my
hand and lead me out
of here,
take me home mom, i'm
having too much fun,
too soon in life.

already here

it's Christmas again.
so soon.
I just took down the tree,
the string of lights
along the house.
I put the snow globe
away
just yesterday.
the dishes are still
in the sink. there's
eggnog in the fridge.
where's the ribbon,
where's
the paper, it's time
to start again,
where's the scissors,
the tape.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

subtitles

the movie is too long.
she's drifting
in my arms
near sleep, her eyelids
closing, heavy
with the laborious
plot, the subtitles
in yellow,
the lush strings of violins
telling us how to feel.
she's a cat napping under
the warm
blanket,
the movie may never end.
I hear her gentle snore,
feel her heart slow.
the movie is too long,
it may never end.
it wasn't what we thought.

no regrets

we draw straws,
we flip coins, we go down
the highway
and visit the gypsy
woman.
we wipe our brows
of worry.
she's got nothing
in her tarot cards, her
crystal ball.
we don't know, they don't
know.
nobody knows what's
going on,
what's coming.
so relax.
have fun. kiss someone.
fall in love.
work hard, be good.
and when you fall asleep
for the last
time, have no regrets.

don't ever change

we measure
time. the hours spoon
fed
to us.
the months boxed,
the years
stored in the attic
with mothballs.
the edges of photographs
curled yellow.
the film
scratched with our
young faces, our voices.
the year books
crusted
in dust, the inked
inscriptions intact.
remember this,
remember that,
don't ever change, stay
just the way
you are.

how fast it turns

they are lost, roaming
the night
in parents cars,
stumbling through the woods
with puzzled
intentions.
good boys and good girls,
searching
for
footing, for their
place in
the world.
how fast it turns, from
mother's milk
to whiskey, to saying
I do to school, then love,
to work, to mowing
a lawn,
to walking the dog
to rocking a cradle
of a new born.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

three nights and days

when I was lead singer
for a group
called the donuts back in the late
sixties
we had two songs, no three.
we got to get out of this place
was one,
Gloria the other,
and the notorious
louie louie the third.
all easy songs
to sing, except for the later.
who knows what in the ham
sandwich
we were singing.
no matter how long
we listened to the kingsmen
sing it,
spinning that 45,
we never got it right.

unfriending

ah, the unfriending
of friends.
the dismissal of those
no longer interested
in saying hello, saying
what's up.
what about this weather
we're having.
how short life is.
how kind and unkind we
can be
to one another
as life changes, as
the sun pours,
the rain shines.

levitation

I leave my body
and hover over who I've
become.
thinking clearly what now,
just what
have we begun.
is this the path you want
to take,
is this the road
you've packed your bags
for and waited
so long?
yup I say. yup, she says,
so i float back down
to rejoin the me I have
become and begin.

the little devils

for Halloween
the mothers spray webs
onto
the porch, drape
sheets upon the shrubs,
dress their
little
devils into angels,
or critters
that roam the earth.
they tell them that today
it's okay
to take candy
from strangers. just today.
go on little one,
go up
to that scary
unlit door
where a witch awaits,
where a ghoulish
pumpkin sits,
go grab a handful
of sweets.

safe harbor

the ships
are coming in.
you can see them dot
the blue
uncertain sea.
the storm is behind
them, moving
fast.
the ships are coming
in.
their sails,
wide and white,
full of wind.

a sample of you

the doctor
wants a sample of you.
let's get to the bottom
of this, he says.
a drop or
two
will do.
a crimson tear
of what runs inside,
the stream
of life. you give
him your arm
beneath the light.
he taps a vein,
takes aim,
then pulls out
what he needs,
leaving the rest,
for now.

the cake

it's about the cake,
risen into three tiers.
a white cake.
a thick creamed icing.
it's about
that, a slice for me,
a slice for you.
pass it around the room.
the bread of life,
the blood of Christ,
then all the tomorrows
we can gather
together before us.

then spring

the violence
of trees, the death
and slow dying
of what once was green,
the leaves turning
to red,
to flame orange,
sweet yellows,
comes with cold.
there is no other path
but to end what was
before,
finding a new life,
a new way, then spring.

Friday, October 27, 2017

bring a friend

my therapist
wants me to come in more often.
she wants
a new car to go along
with her new boat
and new vacation home
down by the river.
she's house poor at the moment
and needs
a little more
therapeutic dough.
aren't you still confused
about your mother
and father she says.
I mean did they really
really love you?
don't you feel emotionally
distraught over
the estrangement with your
siblings.
no I reply. i'm good.
everything is great right now.
but, but
you don't even have a dog
at the moment,
what's up with that?
you need to come in. really,
you need to come in,
maybe for a double session.
it's for your own good,
bring a friend,
a really troubled one,
if you can.

unraveled

it's not the cats,
the boxes stacked,
the bundled paper bags,
or cardboard folded
and kept,
it's not the unswept
floors,
or broken
window, or the stains
and spills
on the rugs,
the parquet floors.
neither is it the one
room, with one light,
where she sleeps
and eats and carries
in her plate
and drink, or how
she never leaves
the house.
it's none of this.
it's something that began
when she was
a child, unseen now,
but forever broken.

what's wrong with you

are you coming down with
something, people say,
stopping you on the street.
you look happy, you're
smiling. you have this
spring in your step.
perhaps you should see
a physician and have this
condition checked out.
no one should be this
content, this happy
with their life. we're
worried sick about you.
here lie down, lets examine
you, let's find
something in you
that hurts.

retail therapy

I have nothing to wear.
not a single thing
to make me feel good.
all four closets and three
dresser drawers are full
of clothes, shirts and sweaters,
pants and jeans, but there's
really not one thing I
want to put on and go out
of the house to see ginger in.
shoes too.
they have a room of their
own. i'm tired of brown
and black, a few grey pairs,
not to mention boots
and sandals, sneakers.
what to do, what to do.
I think I know.

better people

gravity is holding us
back from being who we really are.
keeping us from being
light on our feet.
sleep too,
what a waste of time.
all those hours unconscious
when we could be doing things
to help the world.
and buses. the hours we
stand on the corner waiting.
the relatives with their needs,
their long visits,
and children near the stove.
the weather, with its cold
snap, the clothes we have
to wear, hiding our true
nature. the goodness
in us cant show through
when so many people are rude.
we just have to
grumble and roll our eyes.
give it back.
the long lines at the store,
the post office.
why is there no half and
half on the counter
for my coffee? we'd all
be better people
without all of that.

a new light on things

we can't leave anything alone.
we dig
up the bodies,
release the files,
we rummage
through history
trying to make it
right, or better
than what we though it
was, or worse.
we have nothing better
to do
than
remake the dead,
to shine a brighter
light on what was,
not what's coming ahead.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

hot soup

I call up my friend
Martha Stewart
and ask her for a fall
meal tip.
she's in the middle of
chopping celery, but stops
to take my call.
she says, ahhh,
a meal tip for autumn,
well, let's see.
it's a good day
for a hot bowl
of soup.
you have water, right?
an onion,
potatoes. salt and pepper.
a pot
to boil things in?
a nice wooden chopping board?
yes. I tell her.
I have all of that.
what about an apron?
umm, nope.
well you should have one.
I never cook without
an apron
and neither should you.
so let's not cook tonight.
maybe you should just
order Chinese instead,
okay?
okay.

making one up

not all grandmothers
have great stories to tell.
some are very
pedestrian,
in fact boring. remember
the time
the well ran dry,
or the chicken that got
away and never laid
a single egg?
you told us that one,
we'd say.
so she'd think
until
she'd made one up
about the time she robbed
a bank
with a gun carved out
of ivory soap
and was chased across
the county line into
another state which was
where she met
her husband, our grandfather
who handcuffed her
to a cemetery gate.

falling behind

there is this book
I've been
meaning to read. it's
on the night stand
on top of other books
I've also been meaning
to read,
under them is
a magazine or two.
the atlantic monthly,
a new Yorker, vanity
fair, a june issue.
I've fallen so far
behind
on reading since
meeting you.

self gifting

a box arrives
at the door, the brown truck
pulls away.
I pick it up
and shake it.
no address is on it.
no name. just mine.
no rattle,
or much weight to whatever
is inside.
I bring it inside
and wrap it with
Christmas paper
then put it under
the tree with the others.
amazon is
a wonderful thing.

a romantic interlude

after dinner and one
drink too many,
we monkey around
for a while
in the back seat of the car,
parked in
a lot near the mall,
but I pinch
a nerve in my back,
reaching too far,
bumping my knee into
the gear shift while
trying to
unsnap a button.
then she starts to get
a cramp
in her leg, breaking
the heel
of her shoe
on the seat
belt, so we stop to
catch our breath
and take an aspirin.
but then
we hear knocking
so i rub a circle
of steam off the windows
to look out at a cop
rapping
with his knuckles,
holding a flashlight
and shaking his head,
while wagging a finger.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

open all night

less is more,
they say, but I disagree.
I want more
of you.
not just a taste, a sip,
a nibble.
i'm done with appetizers
and closing hours.
I want to change
that sign on the window.
I want the banquet
that you are.
I want room service.
I want to order off
the full service menu
and feast.
I want you to be
open all night,
I want the lights on,
the key to the door.

no rush

we're lost
in the city.
a left turn has taken
us downtown.
a right turn
has put us in a circle.
but it doesn't
matter,
slow and easy, she says,
there is no rush
to get where we are
going,
no rush to get home
again.
the here and now is
enough.
a memory as sweet as any.

the drama

the play goes
on,
on stage, far below the upper
seats,
but so many other
dramas
unfold to the left
and right of you.
lovers, old,
lovers new. marriages
and friends.
hands
linked,
eyes locked.
some in between love,
some beginning,
some nearing
an end.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

the black mark

a dish falls
and scatters glass
shards
onto the floor.
the room stops eating
and looks.
but briefly.
we move on
to our bread, our
forks of food,
drinks
as a broom comes out
to sweep
and a mark
is made against
a name
by the register.

languages

we speak
in different languages.
a variety of accents
formed by borders,
countries,
states,
dialects.
but we know
what each is saying.
we know
thirst
and hunger, love
and hate.
we know fear, or joy.
it's right there,
in the eyes.
in the lines upon
the face.

the yellow mg

his car, the yellow
mg
with a black rag top,
a luggage
rack on the snug back,
the leather seats,
and wrapped wheel,
had very few miles on it.
it had
more miles from being
towed on the back of a
truck, than driven,
but when it ran,
how glorious it was.
what fun
on the open road,
through the narrow
hills, fun
until it rained, or
the road got slick.
or something in the engine
went clank, clunk,
or sighed,
then stopped.

the good china

rare that someone takes out
the good china,
the good silver.
the crystal.
paper plates are in.
plastic cups.
sporks.
it's the new world.
each meal a picnic
in the park
with ants and barking
dogs.
boxed wine
and frozen pies.
we go to church in our
pajamas.
we let our hair down.
we talk at the movies.
don't worry about
the door
behind us.
we are strangers to
each other, never writing
a note
to say thank you.
I love you,
come again.

the weight lifter

the weight lifter,
though gentle in soul
looks
like he could bend steel
with his bare
hands.
and sometimes he does,
just for show.
he looks into the mirror
at his work.
turns for a side view.
he listens
to what people say to him
when they
comment on his
weight, or how his legs
might look.
he's worried
all the time and wonders
about the path
he's chosen.
then he lifts, he lifts
more,
again and again.
he wants what he can
never have, but keeps
trying just the same.

it's a good day

we sleep in.
the rain, the cold.
it's Monday.
we call in sick.
we turn off the alarm
and peek out the window
into the grey
blah
of the day.
we listen to the rain
tap against the roof,
the stream
of new water
run down the spout.
we say little
to one another, but
we know what we know.
we make love
then fall back to
sleep again.
it's a good day.

Monday, October 23, 2017

the busy cars

there's a woman flossing
her teeth
in the car next to me
while texting.
a man on the other side
is shaving
with an electric razor,
he's talking wildly
into his speaker.
behind me,
someone is making party
animals
out of balloons while
on her phone
and breast feeding a
child. up ahead I see
a car load of women
knitting scarves for Christmas.
traffic ain't what it
used to be.

the big breakfast

they bring us too much
food.
the six of us.
the plates are heavy
with bacon
and eggs, sausage,
potatoes.
the cups over flow
with coffee and juice.
someone gets French toast.
pancakes
like pillows.
the syrup is poured.
but we're hungry.
the conversation slows.
we lather the toast
with butter
and jam,
we clink glasses and
go at it
on the cool morning
of a young autumn.

the unhappy meal

we would circle
the yellow
and red fine fast food
establishment
for another happy meal.
pulling into
the curved drive way
to yell
into the box.
the boy in the back
strapped into his space
seat was
unhappy at the last
happy meal toy.
his face frowned in tears.
that's not what he wanted.
they gave us the wrong
plastic toy.
let's try again,
the wife said. let's
try with another
order of chicken
nuggets,
small fries, and a soda.
we need to make him happy.
an omen of things
to come.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

zoom zoom

we go zoom zoom
with affection,
infatuation,
sweet nothings
and vows of love.
we are in orbit
going at unimaginable
speeds,
rocketing about
in each other's arms,
into the thin
stratosphere.
we are travelers
to a new planet.
where we'll land,
who knows. who cares.

everything in its place

there's a place
for everything and everything
in its place.
so when things
go missing, we feel
the apple
cart
has been turned.
the milk
spilled,
a button dropped, a tire
gone flat,
the keys lost.
we miss what we can't
find,
and take for granted
that which
is there.
take love for example.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

life clutter

boxes of papers
line the walls
of the closet.
a small personal Smithsonian.
old bills,
receipts, menus.
ticket stubs, tax filings.
Christmas cards.
what a fine
fire you could start
with
all that clutters up
your life, unable
to throw away
the ten year old
electric bill, poetry
your wrote,
no better than now,
when you were five.

the cold cruel world

a cold rain,
a cold shower.
a cold shoulder.
a cold
meal left on
the table.
the cold weather.
the cold
season.
the cold touch,
the cold kiss
on a cheek.
the cold
words.
cold blood.
the cold
car
that won't start.
the cold lover
who won't turn
over.
the cold cruel
world.

the online rash

I see on face book,
that one of my so called friends
has a rash.
he's taken
a photo of his leg
and posted
it on his time line.
people ask,
is it poison ivy,
or oak,
are you allergic to
something,
maybe a spider bit you,
or worse, but
whatever you do,
don't scratch.
some people like it.
others, send pictures
of their own rashes.
one woman, sends a picture
of her kid
with measles.
by the end of the day,
legs, arms and faces
are posted with red bumps
and rashes
all over them.

other's problem

the infant on the bus
won't stop
crying
no matter how much love
the mother
gives it.
no milk, no rocking
can stop
the loud screams.
everyone turns
their head and wonders
what can
be done.
each with their own
ideas,
of what's best for
the child,
but hoping the bus will
go faster and quickly
get them home.

cooking class

I want to feed her.
to cut
her meat. to boil her
potatoes.
to spin
her lettuce.
I want to season her,
dice her,
tenderize her.
I want to spread her
dough
for baking,
to drop a can of
peaches
into her pan.
I want to open the oven
and see her
rising.
to smell her spices
in the air.
I want to feed her.
then it's her turn.
it's only fair.

submarines

we are all
submarines, arriving
and floating
on the surface,
then disappearing
from each other's lives.
down we go
into the dark cold sea.
we raise
our periscopes
to view
what's above, then
move on
to other ports,
where
the palm trees sway,
the sand is
warm,
and there is a chance
at love.

Friday, October 20, 2017

in search of

when in search of,
doing the online dating thing,
it's hard to write a profile
telling potential love
interests exactly who you
are, or what you want.
you take your shirt
off, flex a muscle and hold
the camera as far
away as possible
to hide your wrinkles,
you suck in your stomach,
then click.
you take a picture of your
car after washing it.
your kayak. your dog.
you take a photo of the large
mouth bass you just yanked
out of the bay.
you stand in the bathroom
and point the camera
at the mirror.
it's you in a bathrobe,
you in pants without a shirt.
you holding up a beer bottle.
you tell everyone where
you've been, what you've done.
the one time you almost jumped
out of a plane.
your one cruise to the Bahamas.
the time you zip lined
at water world. you don't mention
that you threw up.
you take a picture of
the scrambled eggs you just
cooked. with chopped onions
and cheese. yes.
you love to cook. you like
movies too. you like books
and plan on buying one if you
can find a bookstore.
you write that you're looking
for someone funny.
sexy. in shape. someone with
a job and teeth.
you set the bar high.
smart too. no dumb bells
need apply. must be single, or
almost divorced with no husbands
living in the basement.
she'd be perfect, you write,
if she was donna reed
with a whip. women write back
and ask,
who's donna reed
and do you have any friends
I can meet.

the impatience of love

the dog
is in the yard.
barking all day.
scratching at the door.
howling. whining.
scared,
lonely, wanting
attention.
I know the feeling.
pacing
back and forth
turning a stretch
of grass
into dirt.
waiting for her
to come home.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

pedal to the metal

at some point
the gas pedal has been hit
on time.
the years
flying by.
I put my head out
the window
and feel the wind
in my face.
I see the new world,
as the old
world spins by.
oh well.
keep driving.
let's see where this
goes. there's still
time.

the classifieds

I remember seeing
the emerald
necklace, a Christmas gift,
that I bought the ex wife
in the community
classifieds one morning.
I had saved for months
to buy it.
for sale, it read.
one hardly used elegant
necklace.
one hundred dollars or
best offer.
I cringed. below that was
a pair of men's boots.
my boots.
a dozen books.
venus and mars.
how to make a marriage last
forever.
a leather recliner with
cup holders.
free.
I never did like that chair.

the yellow snow

eggs are good for you,
no wait,
they're bad, milk too.
meat.
forget it.
but you need your protein,
how about a soy
shake to fill you up.
too much
exercise
and you're dead,
not enough and well,
you're dead there too.
sugar, no. saccharin,
no.
wash those grapes,
eat free range chickens
if you can catch them.
steer clear
of farmed fish, what do
they know?
don't eat
the yellow snow.

what lies below

it's not
what you think it is.
the tip
of the ice berg just barely
jutting out
of the cold
water.
the drama, the chaos
lies below,
hidden
from your eyes, from
the bridge.
go slow.
veer away as best
you can. stay clear
of what
could mean the end.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

stuck inside

I get stuck in a round
about for
an hour or two, circling.
no one
will let me in,
no one will let me make
the right hand
merge
to take the road out
of the city.
i'm too close to the center.
to the statue
draped in pigeons.
but it's a nice
morning, and I have coffee.
I have Pandora.
I have a book to read
when I run out
of gas.

je ne sais pas

wearing her long
black gloves
she slaps me playfully
across the cheek,
because
she is French.
she tosses her hair
back,
rolls her eyes
at my silly nature
and says my name
dismissively.
non, she says. no sugar
tonight for you.
no pastry,
no icing on the cake,
no nibbles, no bites.
nada.
but she's only kidding,
I hope.

less is more

what we need less
of
is what we cling to,
as if
that was air
and blood, water
and sustenance.
the breaking of need
and want
is hard, as is trust
and letting
go.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

careless whisper

it's just
a splinter. hardly seen
beneath
the pinked skin.
a dot of crimson
where it slid
under.
so small, and yet
the pain
is severe. not unlike
careless words
that are whispered
without
thought into an ear.

what are your intentions

the parents
are skeptical. the new girl.
the new
boy.
what happened to the last one?
still,
they embrace, shake hands,
offer tea,
offer food.
say sit. please, sit
and tell
us who you are,
what are your intentions
with our child?
is it love, or something
less?
if that's the case,
go now
and give your heart
to another.

what we fear

the dream has a middle eastern
flair to it.
sand and sun.
the silhouette
of a camel on
the horizon,
the pyramids
in view from a hotel
window.
Egyptian sheets
upon her,
her long hair brushed
wild
around brown eyes.
we embrace what we fear
and go
forward.

a different light

in time each curb,
each door
is visited, the call made,
the siren,
the knock
and then the latch
broken
through a pane
of glass.
they find us in bed,
a grim sight.
stiff armed reaching
for what.
the phone, water?
an angel's hand pulling
us upward
into a different
light.

Monday, October 16, 2017

the pearl

sometimes
you find a pearl
inside
the shell.
it startles you.
the sheen of white,
the beauty
of it nestled
inside
this hard life.
it's not luck. it's
meant to be,
what washes ashore,
towards you,
once fathoms below
in a distant
blue sea.

such little things

he can't hear,
or see very well.
or walk far.
but he's still out there,
knees
in the dirt,
planting seeds,
plowing the ground
into small rows.
with his hands he feels
for ripeness,
when things grow, he
bends to smell
the skin, the vine.
knowing
all his life,
when to pick them,
or give them another
day or week
to get ripe.
he waters me
too in short calls
on a sunday night.
such little things as
this
seems to bring him joy,
keeps him
alive.

wait for it

in darkness
you appreciate the light.
the sliver
of sun
rising yellow
in twilight, the glimmer
of hope
blushing upward.
in bitter times,
the sweetness of life
becomes even
sweeter.
you can almost taste
it on your tongue,
savoring the joy
of what's to come.
all in good time.
all in good time.
wait for it.

partly sunny

they call for sun, but
it rains.
they call for rain,
and it snows.
the radar, the weather
plane,
the satellite
orbiting the earth,
there is everything but
a window
at the weather center.
if you're here,
the meteorologist says,
pointing with a stick
to a spot on the map,
wear a jacket
and put some rocks
in your pocket, it's
gonna be windy.

the future

the gypsy
is tired. tired
of
telling the future
with mixed
results.
her crystal ball
is
fogged,
unclear.
the lines on palms
mean
nothing anymore.
she takes off her
robe,
her scarf,
her jewels, she leans
back,
rubs her hands
together
and wonders if
the end
is near.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

i can see the bridge

I can see the bridge from
my window.
how it glistens with steel
across
the blue stone river
that stretches north
and south.
a string of lights now
lit
adorn the wires.
the sails of small boats
are full of wind,
racing the sunlight home
as they plow
below the span,
the cars above, paying little
mind
to anything,
rushing, going places
they need to go.

leftovers

away for a week
you find
the bread stale,
the spoiled milk, eggs
left
on the counter,
butter softened by the sun.
lettuce
browned and apples
gone soft.
so much uneaten,
so little left to make
dinner on,
who delivers at this
hour,
where's the leftovers,
mom?

the reunion

some have lost love
in their eyes, others regret
of a road
not taken,
or one stayed on too long.
each a story
in a face,
a body, soul.
the reunion goes on into
the night,
the light
banter, the music
too soft to be heard.
the hugs and shared memories,
the graceful aging
of some,
the hard road years
of others, but
coming out whole
on the other side.
a mix of children
joined in classrooms,
eyes to books
and each other,
now men and women,
together, perhaps
one last time
for laughs, for tears.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

catch

I can
see him on the field,
a cap on his head.
his small hands
in the air waiting for the ball
I've thrown.
how quickly
he's grown.
his hands, as large
as mine
now easily catch the ball
and throws it
back.
so swift
this time is.

rinse and repeat

you find religion,
a step forward, a step back.
trouble
brings you to your knees.
then things
get better and you run wild
for awhile, rinse and repeat.
God is so patient.
so patient.

someone like them

do we marry
our parents, daughters
finding fathers,
sons
finding mothers?
are we stuck in that wheel
of family.
replacing,
filling the void,
redoing what was done
to us,
then passing it on to
our children.
can we be different,
can we break free of who
they want us to be,
or is the die cast,
the deal settled?

lend me your ear

we talked
about him for an hour.
I put
him on speaker phone
and folded laundry,
I washed
the dishes.
did some bills.
uh huh, I offered
every now and then,
speaking loudly
into the phone across
the room.
on and on he went.
he needed
just an ear
to talk to. any ear.
his work,
his girlfriends, his
divorce. sports.
I've heard it all before,
a dozen times at
least. bored silly
with his rambling,
I let him go on.
for what are friends for.

Friday, October 13, 2017

the long party

we drank all the wine.
we opened
the windows to let the air
in.
someone spoke
of the moon in the sky.
someone recited a poem
about it.
we fell into our chairs
and sighed.
someone sat at the piano
and played.
no one felt like dancing.
we were older now,
older than we'd ever
hoped to be
with more days
behind us than in front,
but still alive.

my self help books

I decide to write
a series of self help books,
mostly to
help my self, but others
can buy them and help themselves
too
if they'd like
to dole out the twenty nine
ninety five
on amazon.
walk more and eat less,
is the first book. it's
about losing weight.
there are no special diets
whatsoever, so people should
like that. it will have pictures
of people taking long walks
and eating spinach.
that's to be
followed by,
stop, don't put that donut
in your mouth.
the cover is a chocolate
glazed donut, my favorite,
with a red line through the middle.
another book i'm working on
is how to stay
married and in love forever.
but being divorced twice
already
this one might be hard
to pull off, so i'm shelving
that idea for now.
a third book I've started is
called.
stop whining and complaining.
I need this book
the most.
step one is to stop talking
for twenty four hours,
and posting crazy self absorbed
things on face book,
then notice how much
people suddenly like you more.
this could be a best seller.

enjoy your life

the billboard along
the highway, frayed
and blowing at the corners
in the wind,
shows a woman
eating an orange.
her eyes are blue,
her skin
tanned, her cheeks
full.
she is someone you'd
like to meet and share
and orange with.
the word Florida
is below her arm,
close to her breast
barely covered by a silk
blouse.
she's sitting on a crate
of oranges.
come to Florida
it says below, enjoy
your life. visit soon.
behind the billboard
is a tattered house.
a dog in the yard.
a man
hammering a nail into
his roof
to keep the rain out
that's coming just over
the dark hills.

the daily melt

I understand
the parable of the melting
of metal
down to get
to the real thing. what
matters most
within.
that of value, burning
off the dross, but I
can't say
I enjoy the process.
at what age will I be
perfect, or at least close
to being who
i'm meant to be,
never seems to be
the answer.

on break

the angels,
on break, linger at
the coffee
shop.
tucking their wings
behind them,
discussing
their day. who did
what,
who needs saving
later on.
who needs a thought
of comfort.
I see my guardian
angel
drinking a latte,
he waves,
and says hey.
no worries today,
i'll be along
in a minute.

time travel

the clock has
wings when we're together.
the hours
are minutes, the days
swim by.
we hardly
spend a moment alone
when it's time to leave,
time
to say farewell
until next time,
give
a kiss goodbye.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

is betty home

for a thin dime
I would call betty
from the phone booth
in the drug store.
i'd close
the accordion doors
and sip on a cherry
coke I bought at the counter.
I'd sit on the wooden seat,
take the folded piece of paper
that held her number
out of my pocket
and spin the dial.
i'd ask
her mother if betty
was home, if she
wasn't too busy, could
she come to the phone.
her mother would yell out,
betty, hey betty
I think it's that kid
in your class.
no, not jimmy, no,
not carl ether, the other
one. the little
fellow with the cow
lick. you know
the shy kid with
freckles. I think
he likes you.
at this point i'd hang
up the phone
and wipe the sweat off
my brow.
i'd gather myself,
put my hands on my knees
to get my legs
to stop shaking
then go read a few
comic books, trying to block
out
the disaster that
love could be.

the penguins at St. Thomas More

the nuns
never really cracked knuckles,
or whipped
us, too hard.
but like stoic penguins
they would stand
at the gate
of the chain link fence
that bordered
the black top
school yard and watch
for sins
to be committed.
God is watching you,
they'd say,
every second of every
day.
so be good, be kind,
turn the other cheek.
think
what Jesus
would do
when punched or
had his hair pulled,
or had His
lunch money stolen
that His mother Mary
gave him
to take to school.
we grumbled quietly
to ourselves,
believing that a thousand
angels would have
come to His rescue.

a loaf of bread

shoeless
and hungry. a thread bare
coat
on his back,
I hand
him a loaf of bread,
still warm
from the store's oven.
he's out there on the steps
all day,
all year.
stroking his long
beard.
what's this, he says,
looking up
with blue eyes
rimmed red. I don't
want bread. is
there nothing that
I can give
you to change things?
go away, he says.
you're making things
worse.

fixing my world

I can dream
the dead back to life.
heal wounds,
repair broken relationships
in the middle
of the night.
I can fix the world in
my sleep, but my
world only, which
seems to be the only
one that counts,
sometimes.
i'll leave the rest
for someone else.

summer's gone

the life guard
blows his whistle all
summer long.
get off the rope, no
diving off the side.
no yelling, no running.
no wrestling
in the pool. the adults
sleep on
their chairs,
the children grow restless,
splash in
the shallow end.
the water gets still
as the sun
falls. the leaves turn.
a chill sweeps
in the air.
summer is gone.
the whistle has stopped.
the lock
is on the gate.
the parents have taken
the children home.

tell me something

in the middle of the day,
she'd
come into the room
I was working in
and say
let's have a break,
is that okay?
she would sip
her tea,
push the sugar cubes
towards
me
cream? she'd say.
pouring
it into my cup.
I made cookies too.
have one.
tell me a story, she'd
say.
tell me something about
yourself
that I don't
already know.
she was nearly eighty
and I was forty.
do you think love can
last forever?
and i'd nod, sipping
my tea, taking a bite
of a cookie.
yes. I do.
me too, she'd say, me
too.
I still love the first boy
I ever kissed.