Saturday, July 22, 2017

closing time

one drink past two
is one
too many
at happy hour,
the bartender pours
them
strong.
then pushes towards
you a menu
with bad
food.
it's an easy slide
down
the slope
of drinking and eating,
finding a home
on the leather stool,
then suddenly,
the moon is out
and it's
closing time.

staying alive

the bird
is fond of bugs, worms
lying
on the ground, crawling
through
the earth.
snakes
like to get into the trees,
to where
the eggs sit in a high
next.
each
to his own meal,
his own
needs.
his own way of going
up
or down the food chain.

the gift

it's hard
to buy a gift for a woman
you adore.
earrings,
a ring, a bracelet.
something that resembles
what you've seen her wear,
but then why another
if she already has that?
a dress or a pair
of shoes
would be impossible.
a blender or a vacuum,
something sexy
from the lingerie store?
perhaps a cook book,
no,
that mistake has been
done before.

Friday, July 21, 2017

waiting

i'm waiting
at the station,
pacing anxiously,
staring at my watch.
waiting
for her to arrive.
or maybe
she's already
here
and I haven't figured
that out yet.

best not to think about it

the blur of years.
the wind
of time, how quickly
leaves
fall,
then begin
again.
there is more behind us
than in front,
best not
to think about it
and press on.

the cat nap

everyone, at 5 pm
should
stop what they're doing
and lie down.
take a nap.
a twenty minute cat
nap. close their eyes,
fold their hands
onto their chest,
and slip into dreamland.
I think it may solve
much of the worlds problems,
unless they're driving
a car,
or bus, or flying
a plane.
or a doctor doing
surgery.

a bee's nest

from thirty feet up
in the air,
on a heavy ladder,
I don't think about falling,
although it's happened.
I think
about other things.
family and friends,
siblings
gone mad. dinner,
ginger and her baked
goods. I wonder
why that bee keeps
circling my head?
then I see the nest
a foot away
above me.
so much is right in
front of us
that we don't see.

the lunch prayer

as I stared at the rack
of hot dogs
spinning ever so slowly
in the primordial grease
at the 7 11,
I asked myself, what
are you doing?
don't even think about
it.
there was sausage too.
and a burger thing
shaped like
a hot dog, but brown
with texture.
a sticky bulb put an alien
glow on all of
it. slightly
green and yellow,
a tinge of blue.
the smell was almost
meat like.
I prayed about it,
as I stood in line,
nervously jingling coins
in my pocket
like rosary beads, my
hunger growing,
then the answer came.
just water, I said,
pushing a dollar onto
the counter.
nothing else. just water.
and these hostess cupcakes.

what's the rush

we almost broke it off
because she wanted to get married
and I didn't
want her to.
who is this guy,
what do you really know about
him,
I asked her,
as we walked hand
in hand along the beach
in front of our hotel.
you should go through
a year
of seasons first,
that's my advice. meet
his kids, know where
he works, who his
friends are.
she kissed
me on the cheek
and put her arm around
me.
we stopped and looked
at the sun sinking into
the sea.
she drew a heart
in the sand with our
initials in it.
you're right, she said.
i'll tell him, let's
wait for awhile.
what's the rush.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

a long work week

the desert
is a wide dry ocean
of sand.
annoying
cactus
mockingly dot
the land,
prickly and green,
horrible
things. rattle snakes
shake their tails
in the shadow of rocks.
the dunes roll on
forever.
no water, no oasis.
nothing
but the sun beating
down
like an inferno
as I crawl
across on my knees
and hands.
if I ever get to the other
side,
i'll give you
a call.
let's do something fun
come Friday.

side of the road

nothing
sadder than a flat
tire
on the side
of the road
in this summer heat.
stuck
in traffic, waiting
for a tow.
cheer me up.
bring me something
cold
to drink.
a sandwich or two.
let's kill some time
together,
bring a deck of cards,
your lips,
your charms.
i'll never get to
the places
I need to go.

the empty nest

this tattered nest,
once held the perfect
shell
of a blue egg.
the strings and twigs
bent into a home
are frayed now,
the base uncertain,
as I flap my greying
wings on its edge.
where has he
flown to?
I see him in the air
at times
floating towards
a different tree,
to a nest all his
own, someone else
is flying with him,
not me.

the old and the restless

this is it, my sister tells
my brother in a breathless call,
who tells me that my
mother is nearing death.
she's on her last leg, about
to take her last breath.
arrangements are made.
the dirt pushed back from
the earth to make room
for her. flowers are priced.
a family gathering is
organized, someone mentions
Chinese food. mom loved
Chinese food, lets do that.
but when i call the nurse
at the hospital, before i
visit her one last time,
i'm told that she's been
discharged and sent back
home. she's eating, and
doing fine, she's wearing
her favorite yellow dress,
but upset that she
missed her show,
the young and the restless
five days in a row.

i'm still here

as they drag the lake
for the old woman, reported
missing, seen wading
on the shore, she stands
there smoking, trying
to explain that she's
still here.
she's not drowned, but alive.
they don't believe her
though, and row out to
the middle of the black
pond with their
lights, their long poles,
their oars.
i'm alive she says out
loud. i'm still here.
she waves her hands in the
air, she says her name,
only to be ignored.

text me

why have lines
on the road anymore. what with
drinking
and texting,
phones and all the distractions
that technology provides,
everyone is swaying
from side to side,
crashing into one another,
light poles,
mail boxes,
just to send a smiley face,
a photo of a cake
they baked, or just
to say hi.

her muscles

i remember feeling my mom's muscles
when i was a little kid.
she'd flex her bicep and we'd
all try to squeeze this muscle
made from
washing, cleaning, cooking,
beating rugs, and hanging
clothes on the line. it scared
me to think what she could do
if she was fast enough to catch
me, after i mercilessly teased
one or more of my sisters.

at ninety five

I can't believe it all
went by so fast,
she says, laughing,
at ninety five
living in Miami without
a cat
or dog, a friend,
or husband.
everyone is gone, but
i'm still here.
i'm getting my hair
done
today, bingo tonight.
what are you up to?
you should visit sometime.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

a few things

the things she'll leave
behind,
are few.
trinkets mostly, a tea
cup,
used, a plate, a ring,
her rosary beads.
dresses still on hangers,
shoes
not worn for years.
she's on the train,
on a trip
without luggage,
without
anything she owned,
these things
were few.

one more dance

it's a dance,
this tug and pull,
the tapping
of feet
when it comes
to dying, dying old,
dying slow,
with nurses, doctors,
taking
a pulse, folding
against her
body,
the long white sheet.
listening for an end.
she's still there though,
slipping, but
hearing the music
of her life,
still dancing, one
more time
around the floor.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

his front lawn

we used to talk about
the girls
we were seeing, dating,
when we gathered
together
for sports, or a night
our,
that's ended.
we now
talk about what hurts.
how's your leg,
that sciatica still giving
you trouble.
when's your cataract
surgery?
I've had this rash for months.
we go to lunch,
if it's not raining, or
too hot, or too cold.
we get soup and a
grilled cheese sandwich.
we show each
other pictures on our
phones.
no longer bikini shots
of a flight attendant
someone met
from L.A.,
now it's a dog,
a cat,
a grand child.
a front lawn newly
cut and seeded
with
Bermuda grass,
a fire pit that keeps
the bugs away.

non stick

the pans
on late night tv,
at 2 am,
with the energetic salesman
on crack,
frying candy,
setting them on
fire,
sautéing live chickens,
is what I want.
I want my eggs to slide
off into my
plate, the bacon to sizzle
and be crisp,
I want these pans,
these crazy pans
from outer space,
with a life
time guarantee,
non stick.

love poems

she scolds me for love
poems
written in haste.
hallmark she screams in bold
italics.
stop, just stop
doing these she pleads,
they make me cringe,
too gooey, too not you.
I want some dirt,
some edge,
some bitter end.

sweet tooth

we have the same
sweet tooth, so
it's a race to get
to the last
slice of cake.
sometimes we'll meet
in the middle,
lips colliding,
icing on
our face.

they're not done

they don't fade
this band, this group of men,
grey haired
and worn,
standing
in the spotlight
singing songs
from when they were young.
when we were young.
they can't hit
the high notes, or the low
notes
anymore, but their fingers
find the keys,
the chords to bring
back the memory
of what once was.
they make joy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

let things happen

caught in the rain,
we give up
trying not to get wet,
and get wet.
drenched, we laugh.
we find puddles
to step in.
we throw our hands
into the sky, and let
the rain hit our
faces.
we open our mouths
and drink.
we need this laughter,
we need to stop
worrying,
we need
to give up sometimes
and let things
happen.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

an american dream

he fell in
love with opium and an
Asian
woman
from Cambodia.
he was a soldier
and she was his homecoming
queen. he
married her and brought
her home.
together they dealt
drugs on the boardwalk,
made children,
made a life for themselves
near the ocean.
I often wonder what happened
to them,
as the years
went by.
living their version
of an American dream,
nothing being true, nothing
being a lie.

persuasion

some of us,
from hunger and thirst,
our knees sore
from kneeling,
would pass out and hit
our heads
on the pews.
the mass was in latin,
high mass took at
least an hour.
confession and penance.
beating on
our hearts and crossing
ourselves.
there was incense too,
the stained glass letting in
strange clouds
of colored hues.
the cross
above the altar.
Christ in death.
what wasn't there to
scare you
into being good, or at
least trying.

the russians are coming

the headline
with a photo of the president's
son
is all over
the paper.
he's putting Russian dressing
on his salad.
next to him
is the daughter
of the commander in chief
drinking a white
Russian, the foam
has given her a mustache.
she's eating caviar
too,
sturgeon from the red sea.
the kid and the wife
are playing catch with
potatoes
in their colorful
Ukranian costumes.
for dinner, after
standing in a long line,
they'll have stale bread
and cold soup.

something on her mind

she pushes her food around
on her plate,
carrots
and peas, broiled fish
of some kind. she
fiddles
with a piece of bread,
taps her
knife, her fork,
against the edge
of her plate.
she looks away
with something on her
mind.
I keep eating,
i'm hungry
and fear where this
might be going.
I squeeze
into my vodka tonic,
the dark green
wedge of lime.

the walkers

the walkers
are out early
this morning, trying
to beat the heat,
exercise before
the sun
is high.
with arms held up,
elbows swaying,
like birds
they head for the path
down to the lake.
they adjust
their head bands,
their socks
and shirts.
phones attached,
water bottles
in place.
off they go, a mile
or two, some stretching,
then back.

into the drawer

I wake up with her
earring stuck
to my back.
it's a small diamond
no bigger
than a pea,
it could be fake,
or real,
who's to know
these things.
I hold it up to the light,
spin it around.
then set it in
the drawer with
her bracelet,
her glasses, her rings
and something
complicated that
she wore.

one last time

we're going
west.
the truck has everything
we own
packed in the back.
the dog is in my lap.
the kids
are all grown.
we're going west,
out
beyond the Mississippi,
beyond the mountains
the desert,
to the ocean,
we're moving west.
there's no reason to stay
here anymore,
everyone we've
known has died, or
getting old.
work is over, so is play.
we're going
west to start again,
one last time.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

his shoes

my father would put
his shoes on the steps.
starting from the bottom,
going up.
five pairs, at most.
casual and dress.
a pair of boots too,
for when snow fell.
sandals, and slippers.
i put mine beside his,
he always left
enough room.

our own lives

ships sink
all the time. there are
bleached bones
picked
clean along the bottom.
treasures too.
chests of gold.
diamonds.
jewels.
we swim above this.
merry with
in our day, splashing
away, uncaring
and busy with our
own lives,
trying to stay afloat.

finding the strike zone

all day
you could throw
the rubber ball against
the wall.
the chalked in
square,
a strike zone
for no one
there.
wind up and throw
in the hot
sun
behind the rexall
drug store.
check first,
check second. a little
spit,
a hat adjustment.
shake off the catcher,
then nod and throw.
who needs players,
or bats,
just a glove and a ball
on a long
summer day
was enough
to bring joy.

pajamas?

hearing the truck pull up,
the fire and rescue
truck of west
springfield
adorned in lights, flashing.
no siren, I peek
out the window to see
what's up.
young men wearing blue
plastic gloves
and dark t-shirts
are milling about.
it takes a while,
but then I see my neighbor's
date from
last night
being wheeled with
an oxygen mask on,
strapped onto
the white sheeted
stretcher.
he's wearing pajamas
and a pair of green slippers.
who wears pajamas
anymore on an overnight
date?
the slippers don't even
match.

water front view

we ignore water.
we build on the shore,
where it will
rise and flood,
take everything away.
we rebuild.
we think we can drive
through
the stream
that swarms the road.
we think
water is on our side.
the ocean too.
the enormity
and power of it.
the rip tide. let's
see how far, how
deep we can go.

life insurance

when the life insurance
man
stuck a needle into my
arm
to draw blood, to see if
I was healthy enough
to be taken
on as a customer,
I passed out and fell
off the chair onto
the floor.
when I awoke, the wife
was standing over
me with a pen,
placing it in my hand,
quick, she said, sign
here.

back to your old self

my crazy meds
aren't working, lately,
she tells, me
drinking coffee
and smoking a s cigarette
sitting there in her
underwear
and sunglasses.
i'm sorry for all those
awful things I said
about you and your mother
last night.
I think I need an adjustment
on the dose.
oh, really, I haven't
noticed, I tell her,
packing my suitcase.
you seem
quite fine to me.
in fact I think you're
back to your old self.

going forward

there is no need
to explain
to the horses what they
are to do.
they stand still and wait
for the harness,
the straps,
the weight of the wagon
behind them.
with blinders on they
are steady
in the middle of the road,
accustomed to the pull,
we too,
go forward without
a thought, or clue.

Friday, July 14, 2017

her love story

will you read my book,
she asked.
taking out a box
of yellowed typed paper.
she brushed off the cobwebs,
with her blue veined hand,
and shooed her cat away.
we were having tea and toast
in her sun room.
we were forty years apart
in age.
sit for awhile, take a break
from your work, she said.
cream and sugar? jam?
I lifted the manuscript from the box.
it was a romantic story.
the second world war,
two lovers with a sad ending.
there were lines crossed out
with blue ink,
notes in the columns. arrows
and circles going
in all directions.
i'll read it tonight, I told
her, looking at the last page.
reading the last line.
i already knew what i would say.
it's wonderful. it's perfect.
it's lovely. send it out.

Morty's Steak House

you don't question why
one scoop of potatoes costs
seventeen dollars,
because you want some, and
don't want to seem cheap
in front of everyone. so you
get them.
the steak alone
was seventy, so what's another
twenty for a few broccoli
sprouts.
mushrooms, of course they're
pricey. people
are bending over to pick
them by hand,
and who can eat mashed potatoes
and a steak without mushrooms,
so yes.
bring me those too.
salt and pepper, no charge,
oh my,
you people are way too generous.
onions, gravy. fifteen,
bread, with butter? ten.
how much for a glass of water?
hold on, let
me call my bank to see
if my card is still good.
how about a half a glass,
and no lemon?

the crash

i'm behind the five
cars
that crash accordion style
into one another from
behind.
nearly everyone
is on their phone,
talking,
texting, checking e mails.
in quick succession
the air bags go off.
wind shields crack.
a cloud of smoke
puffs out the creases of
windows.
doors fly open, trunks
and hoods pop up,
crimped and shorn.
slowly I go around
the debris on the road,
staring at the shaken
drivers, standing near
their wrecked cars,
shaking their
heads, still looking
at their phones
while a siren wails nearby.

if you get thirsty

don't forget to drink water,
the weather man
says
as he points at the map,
colored in red,
to indicate heat
without relief.
if you go outside dress
light, hydrate,
stay inside.
we are three year olds now.
unable
to know
what to do when the sun
shines. what should I do
if I get sleepy?
if I get hungry?

a small thing

who doesn't have a leak.
a wet
spot
rusted brown
on the ceiling or wall.
there's a drip somewhere,
a pipe
sweating,
a hole where the rain
gets in.
but it's okay.
it's not the end of the world
as we know it.
it's
just a small thing
that tells
you something
about everything.

being selfish

being selfish
and carefree
seems to come natural
these days,
what with
the kid gone,
marital status at one,
with only me
to fend for
to decide being lazy,
or going out for fun.
there is no plant to water
no pet that seeks
to play.
let the phone ring,
let
the clothes sit,
the dust gather.
we'll get to it later,
maybe tomorrow,
maybe another day.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the chase is over

you can tell
the men who are done.
finished,
maybe widowers, divorced,
but finished
with the love
part of life.
that chase is over.
perhaps they do love, or
are loved,
who's to know, but
they're shabby now in dress.
unkempt, not caring
about stripes,
or checks.
matching anything.
the eyebrows have gone
wild.
hair nearly everywhere,
nothing combed.
you see them in the market,
pushing a cart. mumbling.
staring a crumbled list.
one can of that,
one can of this.

all things

the boy
who went to nam
was different now,
standing on the porch.
hair cut short. clean shaven.
once upon a time he looked
like George Harrison
on the cover of All Things Must Pass.
then his number came up.
there were medals
on his
green uniform.
his boots were polished,
a lacquered black.
the drugs were out of him.
there was
something else
in his veins now.
the wistful
boy who once sat
on the same porch,
playing guitar
and singing all night
long was gone.

run boys run

when we stole
the watermelons off the vine
in the dry
plowed earth of St. Elizabeth's
farm,
we had no idea
that there were prisoners
in orange,
picking too.
there were guards holding shotguns
pointed to the ground.
we were thirsty
and hungry, going fishing
on the Potomac river.
what did we know?
we held those heavy green
melons like gold bars in our
skinny arms
and ran back through
the woods, waiting to hear
the gunshots that never came.
I can still hear the shouts
of the pickers,
telling us to run boys,
run.

handle with care

you are careful
with what you say around her.
careful
not to step too far
inside her circle.
you are a moth
circling the light.
she has you on edge.
on thin ice.
gently
you lean towards her
to kiss her, but it's never
good morning.
always goodnight.

the happy hour

the happy hour
became a four hour event
on Fridays.
we were young
in our
cheap suits,
bad ties
and shoes.
we unwound after a few
drinks,
talking about how
much we hated the boss,
the work,
the office
in general.
it's like taking coal
out of a mountain,
someone said. we rowed
this boat all night long.
by eleven we were
exhausted
from drinking, singing,
flirting,
saying things we wished
we hadn't said.
sometimes we'd stagger
home alone,
other times,
we had company.
Monday came too early.

monday trash

in the morning,
lying there, alone.
the sun slipping in.
the trash truck already
backing up
in the court, beeping,
grinding away,
its big door slamming
as bags are tossed in,
you lie there thinking,
summing up your life.
where it's going,
what's been done.
what's next, but then
you think about the three bags
of trash in your
kitchen. it's too late
to run outside.
now you have to wait
until Monday.

how to books

I buy another how to book
and skim it
like I did the others.
how to hang a door.
how to cook a duck.
how to put a new engine
in your car. how to appear
younger by wearing
hipster clothes.
how to write a poem.
the books are endless.
falling in love for
dummies is nearly worn
out, underlined
on nearly every page,
the cover wrinkled
from being wet after
reading it in the tub.
i'm waiting for the next
edition to come out.
the reviews have been good.
I have it ordered
on amazon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

how to make a sandwich

when showing my son
the art
of making a sandwich,
he seemed perturbed at first,
but then sat there and listened
intently as I went to work
talking him through the complicated
process he was
about to observe.
bread, I told him.
bread is very important.
I can't over stress how important
brad is to a sandwich.
sometimes you might want to use
a baguette or a roll, but
we don't have those, so
we'll use two slices from
the package, white not
your mother's wheat. now,
this is when you have to
decide if you want the slices
toasted or use them as is.
three's no going back on this.
as is he says. okay. I set each
piece down, flat
on the counter.
mustard or mayo? ummm, mayo,
he points to the jar.
choose your cold cuts now.
I tell him. we have salami,
roast beef, and ham.
may I suggest honey ham
as the first layer and then
top it off with roast beef
in the middle and salami next.
whatever, he says. yawning.
your cheese comes next.
we have muenster, provolone...
he points to the yellow
cheese. okay, okay, good choice.
i gently lay a square
of yellow cheese on top
of the meat.
lettuce? I asked him,
he nods yes. we need to
shred it in small pieces.
I show him my shredding
technique, using a serrated
knife, then show him my fingers
to show that i'm not bleeding.
tomatoes?
hmm hmm. he says. I slice
those and place them
on the sandwich.
onions, hot peppers?
no, he says, are we almost done?
patience my boy, patience.
we're almost done.
okay. now we put the other
piece of bread on top,
securing it down with the palm
of your hand. pressing,
but not too hard. we want
to keep it firm and have
balance
so that the sandwich doesn't
tip over.
sometimes you can stick a decorative
toothpick in the middle
to hold it all together, but
we don't have any, so i'll
just cut it in half.
diagonal? sure, he says. sure.
okay, almost done.
hand me the bag of chips.
I place a handful of chips
on the side, and wring out a
sweet gherkin pickle
from a jar to lay
beside the sandwich.
voila, I tell him, holding
the plate up. there we go.
now go get the camera so
that we can take a picture.
oh brother, he says.
what's wrong with you dad?
I'm starving.

no tell motel

it was a clean room.
it smelled purposely clean,
the odor
of pinesol
stuck in the air.
beds where beds should be,
with no spring,
split
between a picture
of flowers, wildlife,
a stream.
a place not meant for
sleeping.
the phone, a tv
chained to the wall.
two lamps
on matching nightstands.
a dresser with tight
drawers that squeaked
when pulled.
hot and cold water,
three
clean towels, a map
of the city. a new bar
of soap.
a bible
in the drawer where
it can't be seen.
two glasses, short,
and covered in paper.
the heavy shades
were pulled tight,
but creased open enough
to show
the beams of white,
of cars pulling
up or leaving throughout
the long
cold night.

dress light

the sun
waits for you.
its warm white whip of
heat
already
wilting the trees,
making the squirrels
less hurried for now,
staying on one side
of the street.
what's the difference?
dress light,
drink water.
stay in the shade.
all good advice
you'll try to obey.

good and bad

why the bird
flies into the window is hard to know.
his beak
cracks a small
hole
in the pane.
he falls to the ground,
to the soft grass
where he lies unmoving
until awake again.
in the shadows,
other things
with hunger make their
move.
there is good and bad
in everything.

the bakery

the woman behind
the counter, looks tired.
it's a summers day,
late in the afternoon,
tomorrow has already begun
in the back room.
she wipes the counter,
pours out
the old coffee.
it's two for one now
for what lies
behind the glass.
chocolate and glazed,
cake.
not stale, not fresh,
but wanting to be taken
home
in a crisp white bag.
unsmiling, she waits
for you to decide.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

would you like to dance?

the first time you ask a girl
to dance
is scary beyond belief.
beads of sweat
gather on your forehead
as you reach out a trembling
hand.
your heart begins
to beat like a rabbit's.
you have no idea
what you're getting into.
you've never danced before,
except when practicing
alone to the radio
in your room.
you've studied the moves
on bandstand,
and soul train,
or others that have
the nerve to be on the floor,
but you really have
no clue
what will your legs,
your arms,
your head will possibly do.
can you find the beat
and shake
in an appropriate way
that you don't look
too much like a fool?
who knows,
but here we go. maybe,
just maybe, if you're lucky,
she'll say no.

ear plugs

I don't handle anger well.
pushy people.
loud and brash egos
that need the floor.
I can't listen
to an argument on
tv.
I shake my head at
barking dogs,
and crying babies.
I don't even like to read
a note
that disagrees,
that contradicts how I
feel
about things.
I pretty much have to avoid
most people, most days,
especially relatives,
and pick my hours
when going to the dmv.

nearing the end

you make a list.
gas, electric, food
and
insurance.
all the monthly bills
in a column,
added up
to see what you could
survive on
if you quit working
and walked
to the lake everyday
to throw bread at the ducks.
you stare at your 401 k,
miscellaneous
savings
and investments.
how much
would social security bring
in?
medicare.
there's lots of loose
change in the blue bowl
on top of the refrigerator.
senior discounts on
pills
and movie tickets.
you could cut back
on coffee.
what about shoes, do you
have enough shoes
to get you through
the final
years. yes, you say
to yourself,
turning each pair over
to look at the soles.
got shoes.

randomly matched

they want paper
where paper shouldn't be.
squares in the coffer
ceiling. pink
grass cloth
in the loo.
two men
with a nursery.
giraffes, chimps perhaps,
peach or
pale blue,
or something over the top
from milan, or berlin,
paris with a view.
black and white stripes.
the Eiffel tower with
polka dot balloons.
the laundry room
too.
a French paper
randomly matched,
embossed
and metric measured.
let's railroad
some,
from side to side,
make it different by design.
flock in the kitchen
of course,
a place to eat, fit
for a king,
or a queen or two.

unbitten

the roped coil
of a copper head,
diamond
crossed, unblinking
devil
blacked
eyes, sits
in the corner of
the musty shed,
I touch
him before I know
what it is,
before he stiffens
and rises. he's
just high enough
to be safe.
why I reach out
and touch,
I don't know,
perhaps the shine,
but i'm happy that
he doesn't strike,
and take
my life, such as it
is.

imagination

with a stick
and a box, a rock or two.
a tree,
the wide open
yard
the kid plays all day.
you see him
out there talking to
himself,
his imaginary friends.
maybe when he gets older
he'll be in a
straight jacket, or maybe
not.
maybe he'll be just
like me.

mice on the road

how fast
these cars go.
bumper on bumper
through the maze.
speeding through red lights.
trying to
get to the next
one before me.
trying desperately
to get to the place
they need to be.
how fast
their hearts must
beat,
their minds
unraveled by the smell
of just a small chunk
of cheese.

Monday, July 10, 2017

let's swing

it's too hot
to work. too hot to do
anything
but sit in the shade
on the porch seat,
and swing,
wave
to people going by.
bring ice tea, a fan
to make
a breeze.
set the radio nearby
and listen to the game,
makes
no difference who's
playing,
strike one,
or three.
it's too hot to do much,
but lie back,
and swing, come join me.

someone else

the calm of her face,
the brush of
hair,
the small beads
of sweat
along her neck.
out of breath you watch
as she turns
to the window
where a shred of light
seeks in.
is she with you,
or is someone else
inside her head.

we decide

the scrape
on the knee early on
in life,
an elbow bruised,
a chin cut,
falling to the pavement
after
running,
or wheeling along on
a board.
the bike tilted over
to the side,
a tree branch
that won't hold your weight.
this tells you
early on
that much of life
is risk,
and most is from what
you decide, alone,
to undertake.

side by side

my mother could throw
a dish
or glass, or serving
spoon
with either hand.
she was ambidextrous
when it
came to anger
towards my father.
but he had skills too,
able to dodge and duck
a plate of
baked beans, a roasted
chicken,
mulligan stew.
the place was a mess
when we awoke,
but they had somehow
made up,
as you could see, peeking
into their bedroom,
side by side,
in each other's arms,
asleep.

her one big secret

her one
big secret is impossible
to know.
you can't get it out of her,
no matter
how much chardonnay
you ply her with,
how much tenderness
you
kneed into her soft
supple skin.
you look as far as you
can go into
those deep doe
brown yes, but get
nothing.
she should have been a spy
for the country,
all secrets
would have been safe
with her.

who are you

the longer we live
the less
we know.
the person in bed beside
you
becomes a stranger
given enough years
together.
enough meals shared,
enough
love making.
kids raised, hair turned
grey.
she says, I don't really
know you,
do I,
and you answer, who
are you.
you look familiar,
but I can't place the name
or face.


any day

some days, they don't have to
be rainy days,
they can be bright blue
full of sun,
but you need that day to stay
in, to stay home
and open boxes,
to sift through the growing
debris that has washed ashore
in your life.
closets need to be emptied
and clean,
the refrigerator too.
the list of numbers in your
phone need to be pared
down.
the number of towels
and sheets, that go unused
thrown out. shoes,
never worn,
sock never slid onto your
feet.
it's hard to throw away
what doesn't belong anymore,
but any day will do,
when ready.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

three out of four doctors

three out of four doctors
agree,
but i'd rather hear
from the one
that doesn't. what does
he know,
what's his problem
with these pills, this
line of action
to cut or not cut
on your ailing anatomy.
I want to know what
the fourth has to say.
do the other three hate
him because he disagrees.
do they shun him
at lunch, passing him
in the hall without a
so much a nod
in their surgical garb.
do they
ignore him as he stands
with his golf club,
alone
on the 15th green.

being free

the lion
in his cage paces,
staring out
as we stare in.
there is distance
between us.
the gully paved,
a brook of water,
man made,
the chain link,
barbed with wire,
the bars.
both are equally safe,
but wanting
out. only happiness
coming from
being free, not in.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

other things too

we agree on sweets.
chocolate
for one.
anything with cream inside,
a puff of pastry
for another.
scoops of ice
cream
stacked in two on a sugar
cone
is something what we both
want.
but there are other
things too.

the car alarm

that horn, the car alarm.
the siren
of theft
that never is begins.
a jiggle
to the car sets it off.
a cat
leaping onto the hood.
hail,
a strong wind.
blow it a kiss and the lights
blink,
the blare starts.
finally the neighbor
appears
in his shorts, without
shoes or a shirt
and waves
his fob, his wand of
silence towards it.

years later

a sock, a glove,
a bottle of her perfume.
pictures
too.
a ring, a list of groceries.
tickets,
unused.
all
tight within
a box, pushed back
on the shelf.
grief once
hard, now graciously
has left
the room.

already decided

can a prayer
be heard for the turtle
seen
crossing
the early road, his shell
thatched
in green and brown,
soft stripes
of yellow.
can you pray him
to be faster, to move
those
clawed legs
hurriedly to the other
side?
can these prayers be
heard, or
are these things beyond
us,
already decided.

and then

on any given day,
in any year, it may occur.
this affection,
this
promise of tomorrows,
this life
you've imagined
with her, a stranger
yet,
may appear.
and then.

Friday, July 7, 2017

making a salad

will you
chop these for me, she says.
while talking
on the phone,
pushing
a bowl
of carrots towards you.
radishes,
a red onion too.
lettuce,
sure, you tell her,
taking the knife,
moving the board into place.
easing the blade
down
again and again.
you do what you are told.
for now.

like this, perhaps we go

I beg
your pardon, the man
says,
leaving
the store, rubbing shoulder
against
your shoulder.
excuse me, he says,
tipping his hat
nodding
as he goes by.
he takes your hand,
your soul
with a gentle pull
into the darkness,
or is it light?
so strange it is to
know so little
as to how
or when you die.
like this, perhaps,
we go.

each summer

was it twenty years,
or more
perhaps,
that it was
family in tow, child
waist high,
wife,
as young as she would
ever be
with you,
at the shore, the sparkle
of light
when sunlight
meets the ocean.
the air full of salt
and sea.
the gulls striped
white.
our hearts safe
with each other.
those years, long past,
no longer
belong to her, or me,
to the child, now
grown,
despite
what it seems
in the photographs.
they are memories, sure,
but turned
inside out
to the way each wants
them to always be.

traveling as two

traveling
alone is not as interesting
as traveling
with another,
whether love, or relation,
pointing
at the tower
means more.
that bridge across
the river.
our feet on the cobblestone
is easier
to remember as two.
the taste of food,
the spill of drink
down our
parched throats.
in time, together, it
will bind us,
this road we took,
how the birds filled
the church yard,
how the grey stones
of the dead
were old already
in the ancient graveyard.

let's pretend

you can't tell
these little ones.
you can't break their hearts,
steal
their souls,
twist them in the wind
of truth, just yet.
leave
them rosy cheeked
and laughing.
leave them to their
summers,
to their imaginations,
thinking that all
things are
possible.
that there is only good,
let's pretend for now
and leave it
at that.

the fog of past

we remember
through fog. we light
up
and dwell
on what seemed so
true.
the color red
becomes
a softer shade of yellow,
a romantic
blue.
we hear
the words at this later
date
in a different order,
with a different tone,
meaning less,
or more,
depending on so
much as to where we
stand now, where we
have gone,
where we must
go.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

the boy

the boy who killed himself
has been gone
for ages.
at eight, how did he know
what to do.
the rope, the chair,
the pipes
above the sink
in the laundry room.
what becomes of the living
after that?
how can you go on?
how can anything taste right
again.
what good is the sun,
or love.
the full moon
making leaves silver.

dear diary

she complains.
are they poems or entries
into your diary.
what are these things
you write?
both, I tell her.
tell me what isn't either.
what art,
what song,
what sculpture carved
from rock
isn't
chopped free from one's
soul.

these friends

these faces
are balloons, air filled,
with
strings
for bodies, how easily
they float in,
float away.
disappear into the clouds.
they were so close
once.
so near, so well disguised
as friends.

is it love yet?

let's not call it love
just yet
I tell my therapist
as he taps
his pen against his bearded
chin.
I mean we haven't
even had a fight yet.
we haven't crossed
swords
or spoke a single mean
word
to one another.
it can still be love,
he says.
not all relationships
need to be
argumentative.
I watch him write something
down
and underline it a few times.
did I ever tell you about
the time my
mother threw a plate
of spaghetti at my
father
because he was late
for dinner again,
and then he cut the phone
cord, after twisting her arm?
I ask.
yea, he says.
a few dozen times.

the home run

I remember
striking the ball so hard
that
the woman pitching gently
underhand
made a face.
her eyes widened
and she grimaced. the fat ball
hit the sweet
spot of my level swing
sending it over the left
fielder's head
into the gravel
parking lot.
it was forty years
ago
in a coed pick up
softball game,
but I can still remember
rounding
the bases as if it
was yesterday. mickey
mantle for a moment
in yankee stadium.

the bunny trail

the tooth fairy
never
came with a dollar
for our
lost teeth,
nor did the easter
bunny
with a basket of eggs
hop on down our
bunny trail.
or santa
down the chimney
with a bag
of toys.
we left him pie, what gives?
no wish came true
from
the coins
dropped into the well.
the rabbit's foot,
rubbed bare got
nothing.
no shooting star
delivered
a heartfelt plea.
it was all a bunch
of junk
we realized
early on, but wished
it wasn't so.

italian model

her purse
had cobwebs in it
from never being open.
she depended on the kindness
of men.
all curves
and hair, lips,
sleek and Italian.
a red
sports car
of a dame.
the bumpers gleamed.
but open the door
and you got
ice.
not the sweet kind either.
but dry ice, so cold
it burned
to the touch.

non support

the swing
of the light, the forty watt
and a string
to pull
to turn it on
or off.
the flush of pipes.
the bare mattress,
striped.
the cinder block wall
with my
etchings,
my calendar marked
in gouged bites.
the slide of the tray
between
the bars.
a square of blue
light, the sky
on the high wall.
eggs,
potatoes, dry toast.
doing time
is not hard,
it's one day, one
stint
before i'm out
and back again.
you'll wait, won't
you?

the close call

the policeman
on the phone, or is he,
says, you are not in any trouble,
we just
want a donation.
a contribution to our
fund.
any amount will do,
I let out a sigh,
and look out the window,
pulling the shade back
just so.
I turn the computer off
and slip
my new book, fifty shades
of purple
under the mattress
next to a pair of handcuffs
and a can of whipped cream.
then i sit down,
and wipe
the sweat from my brow.
is ten dollars, okay?
I ask.
do I get a sticker for
my car too?

the gold door

it's raining,
I can't work I tell the man
who
owns the candy store
and wants his
door painted gold
with black trim.
Belgian chocolates,
gelato,
small chocolate covered
cherries
and nuts
all lined up in
the refrigerated rows
behind the glass
box.
I give the store
six months
before it melts in
the sun.

southern belle

the war is still
on for her.
the north against the south.
we will rise
again, she says,
fluttering her lashes
and turning her head
up to a grey
sky.
as god is my witness,
the south shall
rise again.
she dabs at her eyes
as if there might be tears.
oh brother, I say to her.
more tea, she asks.
fanning herself
with a large feather.
you're nuts, aren't you,
I tell her,
shaking my head.
maybe we can go look for
more civil war buttons
or spent shells
on the old battlefield.
those poor boys, she
says sighing, as if they
were till out there
lying in the mud
and blood. oh, those
poor soldiers. giving their
young lives for Dixie.
okay, that's it, i'm
out of here.
I don't think this relationship
is going to work,
but thanks for the tea.
oh, please stay, have I
offended thee? stay and let's
sing. let's sing
a song together.
do you know swanee river?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

i know you're in there

I peep
through the peep hole
after a knock at the door.
a woman
is standing there with a clipboard.
she's dressed
nicely.
her hair done.
almost a smile on her face.
she rings the bell
again.
then knocks with her hand,
pulls the knob,
letting it fall
gently down, again,
again.
I sigh.
I don't want to take a survey.
I don't want to vote
for anyone,
I don't need to know
what she wants.
plus i'm in my underwear
and can't open the door.
I know you're in their she says.
I can see you.

the new colors

they're renaming the crayons
in the yellow box.
periwinkle
is not enough anymore,
we need different names now
to keep up
with the times,
there's
under the weather yellow,
embarrassing red,
bipolar blue,
and envy green.
not to mention hangover
white,
and cookie spill brown.

thankful

thank god
the dinosaurs are extinct.
traffic
is bad enough
as it is on 95 heading
south or north.
I can't imagine what
it would be like
with a t rex
preying on the vehicles
driving by,
or a pterodactyl
snatching drivers
from their little cars,
munching on people
in their trucks, and vans,
buses.

the boom

her kiss,
though soft and tender,
is the lit fuse of
what's
to come next.
the explosion,
the rattle of the room,
the shock
wave
of her body
against yours.
the bright light
flashing,
the boom.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

flashes in the sky

we would lie on the picnic
table
late a night.
side by side.
the girl next door,
and me.
it was summer, school out.
nothing much to do
but be young,
chase fire flies,
wonder what was to become of
us and watch the sky
for meteors flashing by,
which was what we
were at the time,
not knowing it then,
but do now.

my best side

my good ear
is the best one
to speak into,
a friend to my good eye,
less blurred
and clear, easier
to read
the flurry of road signs.
if you take a photo,
let me turn
my head before you shoot.
my strongest
hand is the right one,
that being my
best side.
i'm down to one
on many things,
including you.

i miss

I miss the milk man.
cold milk,
eggs, bacon, juice,
all delivered
from his white truck
idling
in the street.
I miss the mail coming
twice a day.
dogs off their leash.
the morning paper
on the porch.
I miss black and white
tv.
manners
and courtesy. morning mass.
the tipped hat,
a written note. the drop
in visit,
the sunday call.
I miss my mother's fried
chicken,
and hearing her voice
calling us in
for dinner.
homework at the table.
everyone
being home, in bed,
ready for sleep.

enjoy your life

enjoy your life,
the old man yells,
waving his cane
as I speed by on my bike
in the opposite
direction.
he's wearing a hat
and an overcoat
in july,
a small bird like woman
in blue walks
beside him, holding his arm.
I wave back at him,
and say
to myself, okay.
I will.

parting ways

the cops
were chasing us one night.
we had
a taillight out
and were driving down a one
way street
with open bottles
of liquor in the car.
betty was at the wheel,
smoking,
the radio up.
joan jett blasting,
I hate myself for loving you.
she was wearing her torn fish net
stockings and a t shirt
that read disco sucks.
we turned down
an alley
and cut the engine,
waited out the cops
until dawn.
we had a long talk, betty
and me.
she was starting culinary
school
in the fall
and I was heading west.
she told me that her
tattoos were
temporary and that she really
loved to knit.
she wanted to have three
babies.
she pulled out a stick pin
from her eye brown
and handed it to me.
this is to remember me
by, she said,
then we went to mcdonalds
for breakfast.

the inheritance

where's the money
hidden,
my sister whispered into
my mother's ear,
as she lay in the hospital
bed,
half in half out
of consciousness.
did you bury it in the yard?
behind what
tile on the floor is it?
in the attic?
with her eyes barely open,
my mom
answered her.
in my purse, she said.
there's change
for lunch money
for all you kids,
give everyone the same.

can i have provolone instead

there was
the time when the deli clerk
threw
my son's sandwich
against the wall
when he decided after it was
ready and wrapped,
that he wanted provolone
cheese on it, not
American.
she turned to the wall
and with all
her strength threw
it against the checkered tile.
it exploded in a frenzy
of meat and cheese,
lettuce
and tomatoes,
the mayo flying far
and wide.
she collected herself
and made another.
this time
with provolone, the way
he wanted it.
we saw her later when we
left the store,
she was leaning against
a wall outside,
smoking a cigarette,
still shaking,
her face red
from the pressure of making
a sandwich.

the closet

it's a small closet.
a broom closet.
a pair of boots in
the corner,
a ball.
a bat.
a glove, a bag of salt
for ice
when the snow
falls.
a coffee machine, unused.
four coats, two
of which aren't yours.
it's hard to close
the door at times.
you have to tuck in
the umbrella,
the mop,
the can of paint,
gloves, loose and unmatched
scattered
on the floor.

waiting for dark

a small
fisted bat has found it's
way
between the wood
and rail,
the downspout, his black
hinged
claws
clings tight
to keep his charred
body
off the ground,
out of
sight.
not a sound he makes,
not a flutter
of wing,
or growl.
no twitch is shown
in his veined thin
shell
of life.
he's waiting for dark
to fly,
as we all are.

Monday, July 3, 2017

one pm

there's three dogs
running free, under the table,
between legs
of chairs.
barking.
fighting over a bone.
in and out of the screen door
come bees and bugs.
the grille is
on.
sausage and dogs,
burgers. the smoke in the air
blows blue
into the porch.
the chef has a high hat
and an apron
that reads chef.
the lawn chairs are out in a circle,
a beer in each hand.
music plays, a tv is on.
children are
in the driveway kicking
a ball.
someone throws a fire cracker
in the air, then another.
in the distance
a fire truck wails.

the resume

my brother is an addict,
he tells me,
sipping on a cold
Budweiser,
the foam
sticking to his blonde
beard.
he likes the needle,
the powder,
the pills.
he shakes his head,
lights a cigarette
and blows the smoke out
towards the blue
sky.
he won't go to meetings,
or seek help.
he crashed his car
the other day, again.
he's out on bail.
but he's a good worker.
so if you need some help,
he's available
to start on Monday.

punch line

I prefer a short story.
a poem.
one word or two.
don't drag it out, start
at the end
and let
me know if I want
to hear
the rest.
give me the punch line
first.
turn to the last page,
not it was the best of times,
the worst.

the cataract class

we want you to attend
a cataract class, the doc
tells me
via e mail.
you need to take this class
before we
schedule you for surgery.
a class?
is there homework?
why a class.
send me the video.
cut eye, make the blur
go away.
what's with the class?
is there lunch,
do we bring a lunch,
or is there a cafeteria?
can we chew gum?
what about recess, is there
a playground
where we can play kickball.
i'm not banging
erasers against the wall,
just saying.

dixie land

my father strung
his colored party lights
along
his small
balcony.
party of one your table
is ready.
a bottle of Canadian club,
on the table,
a bucket of ice,
and a black and white
tv
in the corner.
cigarettes too, and a few
magazines,
with centerfolds
stacked in the bathroom.
it was the life
he chose after thirty years
at sea,
ice cream and cold cuts.
close to
the px, the commissary.
a car with a horn
that played
I wish I was in Dixie,
although
he was from Boston.
Dixie being a waitress
he met
in june.

wildlife

we forget
that the bear can eat us.
the shark
can take a leg,
an arm,
we kiss the lion,
rub cheeks
with dolphins.
we have no idea
what's in
their mind.
like people,
they never show their
true colors
until
angered or hungry,
had enough of us,
and tired.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

her color is blue

she tells me about her new Cadillac.
white of course.
she gets her hair done
every two weeks,
nails too.
she's ninety going on
twenty two.
her favorite color is blue.
see the rug,
the drapes, the sofa,
the chair set
in the corner.
she talks about Carolina.
a boy she knew
back when.
she talks about taking the train
to go see him.
she talks
about barbeque
and ice tea and the second
world war
as if it just began.
her circle of life is close
to an end.
but she has to get her hair
done first.
new shoes.
a dress.
a purse
and a necklace
that will blend.

july zoo

the zoo stinks
on this hot summer day.
the gorillas are fat
and dark,
heavy in
the far corners of
a man carved cave.
smaller ones are in
the water,
asleep in the shade.
there is nowhere to go
in this heat,
no play
left in them.
flies buzz. birds sit still
on branches
high above.
what is there to do?
they look out, we look
in.
hard to know the difference
sometimes.

pull the plug

let's not punish
each other.
stop calling one another names.
remembering
past hurts.
faults we both share.
let's pull
the plug on this
love
that's fast going
down
a drain.
let's pack and leave.
let it end
now.
or start it clean,
and new,
is that possible?
once again,
though we both know,
that can't be true.

lucky penny

there are no lucky
pennies.
if they were,
would they be lying there
in the street,
stepped on,
rolled over by hot tires,
ignored
and dirty,
crusted in the sun?
no one wants
them.
if that's luck, I want
no part of it.
give me the coin
in my pocket.
the one
on the shelf.
the nickel, the dime,
the quarter,
the kennedy half dollar.

throw me a kiss

throw me
a kiss and i'll write you
a poem.
a short
story based
on what we don't quite
know.
hold me in your arms
and the story
will get longer.
the plot will thicken.
the characters fleshed out.
make love to me
and the shelves will fill
with books
of where we are now,
how far we've
come.

you can't get home in time

some days you can't
get home.
the line at the bank is long.
the grocery
store is full of coupon
holders,
with long lists, and children
crying.
you hold your quart
of milk
and pound of fish
and sigh.
you hit every light.
a dog crosses
the road.
a fender bender makes
everyone merge
right.
some days you can't home
in time.

what storms are for

the lights flicker
as the wind picks up.
the rain pounds
the windows.
it's a welcome storm.
it keeps us
inside, together.
safe
and warm.
we have nowhere to go
except towards
each other.
that's what storms
are far,
I suppose.

come here, sit close

come here,
she says, sit by me.
pull the chair up close.
she smells of
warm milk and toast.
she touches me
with an old hand.
roped in blue veins.
the nails are a quiet
shade of blue.
tell me, she says,
with a smile,
her grey eyes wet.
tell me something you
haven't told me
before. a story, a tale
of your life.
it doesn't matter
if it's true.

june beach

the sand is cold
on this june beach.
the water colder.
you see a crab in a sweater,
a gull
with a scarf.
the water taffy is stone.
it's too early
for this
vacation.
too soon to swim
or lie out
and turn gold.
it feels
like we might be in
for a storm,
a wintery mix
of snow.

jewels

her rings,
all in a row.
set side by side in her
jewelry box.
emeralds and gold.
love gifts. affection.
birthdays,
or Christmas.
special occasions with a new
beau.
a bracelet,
a necklace.
ear rings.
they glimmer in the low
light of her
vanity.
each
gem a story to be told,
or lost
and forgotten, but
these days, at this age,
and time,
the new ones
are coming slow.

scratched

the world is scratched,
caught,
repeating the same line
over and over
again, stuck in
the same song
on the ancient turn
table.
it's the only song we know,
each new
soul, puts his hand on
the needle
and drops it down
to start again.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

oh louie louie

I could never bowl.
neither ten pins, or ducks.
could never get my feet right,
the rhythm down.
I didn't like the taste of beer
or French fries.
back then
everyone smoked.
threw a ball with a camel
hanging out of their
mouth.
those silky shirts,
joe's pizza stitched fancily
on the back.
star cleaners.
lube brothers and pop's
ice cream.
those shoes with the number
on the back.
a flimsy felt.
worn a million times,
smelling of
Lysol.
but I liked the juke box
playing
dusty springfield
and james brown,
the four tops and louie
louie, trying hard
to figure out the words.

the drug

some drink,
some fight, some eat,
some
find their fix in a drug,
or sex,
or a mountain
that has
to be climbed.
sports,
or dice.
to each his own burden
of making
this life
livable
and right.

it's the game

the old men
on the court in the hot sun.
old dogs
barking,
running,
limping towards
the hoop.
knees wrapped,
hats on
to keep the blaze
of heat
off their wrinkled
brows.
still at it after all
these years.
the shoes tied tight,
the jerseys
pulled over
the bellies. in between
games
the stories are told,
remember when.
it's an oasis of life.
nothing else
matters when you're here.
it's the game.

morning pancakes

I wake up in a house
full of people.
I don't know who they are.
I must have
left the door open last night.
a woman
is in the kitchen making
breakfast.
I hear the beater
on, as she makes pancake
batter
in a bowl.
I scratch my head
and look at the man lying
next to me
in my bed.
what the hell, I say
to him.
it's early, he says. go
back to sleep.
I get up and step over
a boy scout troop on the floor.
there's a cat
in the big chair,
a dog
in the bathtub licking
the faucet.
I must be dreaming, I
realize,
but I could use a pancake
or two.
if I can stall the dream
and wait for that,
that would be nice.

how to grille fish

I think about rereading
my self help
books
that litter the house.
I haven't read
them in a while
and i'm feeling a little
our of sorts.
I pick one up
and turn to the page
that I dog eared
a long time ago.
I see where I've underlined
on particular
sentence, and highlighted
it in yellow.
This too shall pass, it says.
there's a date beside it.
ten years ago.
I feel better already
and slide the book back
onto the shelf,
snug against how to grille
fish.

diving for pennies

we used to dive
for pennies in the deep end.
our ears would
pop,
and our lungs nearly
burst
as we grabbed the grate
at the bottom,
feeling
with our small hands
for that little brown
dot, blurry
in the chlorine water.
what else was there to do?
we were too young
to think
about sunbathing
and staring at girls
on the rubber strapped
lawn chairs,
lathered in coconut oil.
that would come next
summer.
but for now diving for
pennies
was enough.

two for one

it's a two for one
sale
at the fireworks stand.
the man with missing fingers
and a patch
on his eye
says something in another
language,
I say what?
and he slows down his
verbiage, saying
two for one. you buy one
sparkler and you another,
free.
he's from Alabama,
he tells me.
drove his goods all the ways
up in his trailer hitched
to his pick up
to sell fireworks.
snakes, roman
candles, sparklers.
can't sell anything that explodes
anymore, he says,
shaking his head,
the grey pony tail swinging
in the cigarette smoke
behind the counter.
or anything that shoots
up in the air, he says.
damn govment,
it's the man keeping us
down, although
I do like our new leader.

Friday, June 30, 2017

more for me

we talk about
gluten for six hours.
we're sitting outside
at a restaurant.
I listen.
she talks.
I ask her what gluten is.
she tells me.
well, she says,
adjusting her glasses,
it's a molecular thing,
then begins to tell me
the long list
of foods that have gluten
in them.
the sun moves behind the building,
leaving long shadows
under the trees.
you can't trust non gluten
oats, either, she says.
they touch the same
machine that handles
wheat. they don't clean
the machinery in between
processing.
she arches her eyebrows for
effect.
I tell her
I never heard of gluten
until a few years ago.
I ask her if it's a trendy
thing, not eating it,
she frowns and looks away
to other tables,
to people having real conversations
about books
or movies. she looks at
a bird eating a crouton
on the sidewalk. I see it too,
but bite my tongue
and say nothing.
the waiter brings bread
to the table.
warm bread that you can
smell from ten
feet away. the steam rises
in ribbons.
I grab a piece,
tossing it from hand to hand
because it's that hot.
I slide some butter on
one side and watch it melt.
the crust leaves crumbs
on my shirt as I bite down.
bread, I ask her?
holding the basket up.
no, she says, there's gluten
in it.
I move the bread basket
to my side
of the table.
what about peanuts, I ask her,
any trouble with those?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

ship at sea

my calendar
is empty.
i'm open seven days a week.
I have no where
that I want
to be,
no where that I need
to go.
i'm a ship
at sea, sailing without
a destination,
no port in sight,
no cargo,
no passengers.
i'm afloat on a dark black
sea
on a starless night.

she's too good for me

she's too good for me.
too much
fun.
too sane,
too smart.
she eats well, reads well
and
writes hand written
notes
to say thank you.
she knows how to tie
a bow.
wrap
a box,
fold a fitted sheet.
she can
bake a dozen cookies
without burning
a single one.
her kisses are sublime.
her hands know where i want
her hands to be.
she's too good for
me.
I have to keep this
to myself.

loose ends

the sediment
of love, the dust of memory.
the bones
of times past,
scattered
in the quiet near
empty yard
of wall to wall carpet
imbedded with
the backs of earrings,
shards
of glass. martini spills.
pictures
boxed.
books divided.
mine or yours?
all is done,
but the grieving
and therapy,
notifying the post office.
talks
long into the night
on the phone
to those not tired
of listening.

waiting for rain

a furtive line of clouds
brings rain.
reluctant rain. just a drop
of two at first.
a breeze lets you sit
down
on the porch
and watch
how the storm moves in.
the blue
bundle of clouds,
ribboned white,
with lightning.
the chimes
ring,
the rooster, rusted
red, on the far
roof
spins
the dog sits beside you,
lapping cool air.
together
you wait patiently
for it to begin.

waiting on the ohter shoe

the coast is never
really clear.
there's always something
that can bite
you,
an insect, a rabid
fox,
that snake
crawling under the stoop.
there is always
something you can step
into.
a stove left
on. an iron that will
set your house ablaze.
is the door
locked?
burglars are in the trees.
someone's at the door
with
a deal on vinyl siding,
something up his sleeve.
what's this rash on my
arm.
when will the other
shoe drop?

the ice cream truck

the maniacal ice cream
truck
rolls by every day
in my neighbor hood
at 5 pm.
a time that I call nap
time.
but I can't sleep.
I can't get my twenty
minute power
nap in
because the ice cream
truck is playing
its one song.
a simple loud clanging
of bells
in some ridiculous
repeating order.
I peer out the window
and see the smiling
bearded man
with a turban
slowing down in the court,
then the herd of children
run out with their
five dollar bills
to get
a nutty buddy, or a
creamsicle.
screaming like a wild
bunch of hyenas.
it's lord of the flies
out there until
the struck
moves on and finally,
I can get my
snooze in.

quit whining and get out of bed

the teenage angst,
who am I,
where am I going,
what will I be,
why doesn't the world
love me
or know who I really
am,
sets in
and can't shake
it's grip
until real life begins.
a job,
a broken heart,
new love,
money.
desire and fear
escalate.
food and shelter
over take
the whining and worry,
in time you
don't care
what you look like
or what others think.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

let's go fishing

i know what we can do today,
my love
says, waking up and bouncing
out of bed
with unusual enthusiasm.
let's go fishing.
fishing?
yes. let's go down to the lake
and catch some
fish, we can fry
them up for dinner tonight.
fishing? i say again,
safeway has fish now, in case
you haven't heard.
but these will be fresh fish.
right out of the water.
we don't have any worms,
i tell her, putting on my
non fishing shoes.
we can dig some up.
you're going to cut the worms
in half and slip their
dying slimy bodies
onto a hook?
ummm, well, can you do that?
and when we get the fish,
are you going to shop their
heads off and slice the guts
and bones out of them
so that we can fry them up?
well, i didn't think about that
she says, sitting back down on
the edge of the bed.
what about the steel hook stuck
in their mouths, are you going
to pull that out of them,
while their eyes bug out
because they can't breathe?
hmmm, she says.
i don't know. i didn't think
about any of that.
plus, i like fish, and wouldn't
want to hurt them.
fresh fish just sounded so nice.
what time does safeway open?

olga

they hired a battle axe
to do the firing.
five foot tall, broad shoulders,
a butch cut.
a no nonsense woman
from the eastern bloc.
she may have had a gold tooth too.
I forget her name,
but we called her olga.
if she came into your office,
you were fired.
that was the only reason
she had
to visit you.
after you gathered your box
of junk
she'd take your arm,
under the elbow
and escort you to the back
entrance,
out into the hot sun
where your car was in the vast
parking lot.
I don't know who fired her,
but I saw her
waiting on tables at ihop
one day,
she seemed happier
in her pink uniform.

away from shore

i'm pulled
easily
in one direction or
another.
affection
has a strange power
over me.
I lose
the will to be rational,
logical.
it's a strong
wind,
this infatuation,
love,
and like,
lust too. a perfect
storm that pushes
my boat
away from shore,
away from safe harbor,
to you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

first inning

it takes forever,
the game.
the scratch the pull
the digging
of cleats
in the dirt,
we need another new ball.
gloves unwrapped
then wrapped,
gnats are pushed away,
time is called.
start over.
a swing, a miss, foul ball.
another
and another.
spit and adjust everything
one more
time before
a pitch is thrown.
the clock
moves deep into the night.
inning one.

lemons to eat

like birds
in jackets, wool
sweaters
and caps, scarves
that don't match.
dickens people
on the corner with
clear
printed signs,
will work, homeless.
sick.
veterans of foreign
wars.
what has clipped their
wings,
what turn in the road
has taken the blue
from their eyes
removed their teeth and
gave lemons
to eat.

more than luck

a small
cup of wind turns the leaves,
while we
sit on the bench,
it spins
the scraps of paper
that lie
upon the black top,
funnels them
together, puts them
into
a mystical turn,
not unlike us,
caught in the rise
of affection,
in the convergence of place
and time.
there is something
more than luck to this,
it appears.

Monday, June 26, 2017

out of work

my friend, jimmy,
the circus
clown,
is out of work.
he looks sad in his yellow
silky overalls,
his fat red nose
and white make up
with exaggerated lips
and eyes.
he sips his coffee,
stares out at the highway
and sighs.
i'm done he says. where
can I find another
job
looking like this,
pretending that everything
is okay, trying
desperately to make
people happy?
no where, I tell him.
no where.
politics?

take a breath

it was nice of you to call,
but I have to go now.
I have a cake in the oven
and someone's at the door.
the dog is barking
and a call is coming
in on the other line.
can you finish your story
later, later like when
I have three free hours
to listen?
hello, hello. take
a breath and stop
talking for one second.
there's a wild raccoon
in my kitchen trying to bite
me. let me call you back.
what? no, I can't believe
your mother said that either.
hold on, let me open another
bottle of wine
and get my ear plugs.

who'd you vote for

she bleeds her beliefs.
far left,
waving the flag of discontent,
marching
until her feet hurt,
her voice fails.
save the whales,
kill
the babies.
a chicken in every pot.
jump bail, join the army
if you fail.
the pump don't work cause
the vandals stole
the handle.
a cardboard sign for every
issue.
her rage
is hard to be around.
she opens every
conversation with,
who'd you vote for?
it's down hill from there
if you disagree.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

rowing

she likes her rowing machine.
set in the basement
against the blue wall, she has
a poster of maui
in front of her.
the atlantic,
lake Michigan.
a river a stream,
a pond.
she keeps rowing,
and rowing, pulling
forward until she's
out of sight,
gone.

one man band

the singer
is not taking requests
as he stands on the makeshift
stage,
in sweat.
around him people
talk, and ignore,
they eat, drink,
answer their phones,
go out the door for
a cigarette.
he has
his play list and won't
stray
from the songs, the chords,
the
music that he
knows best.
someone yells out
play Elton,
play
Gordon, play Morrison,
or Joan Jette,
but he'll have none of
it
with his guitar, his
harmonica,
his drums and clarinet.

the cookie jar

the cookie jar
is broken,
the lid on the floor.
it's empty.
a trail of crumbs
lead
to another room,
out the door.
it begins here,
taking what we want
when no one
is looking.
regret
and apologies come
later
as the jar gets filled
and promises
are made,
again.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

birthday party

I buy some band aids,
some
burn cream,
bandages
and Neosporin.
flags on little sticks.
a fire extinguisher.
I get buckets of water.
unravel the hose.
patches for knocked out
eyes.
splints for busted
fingers when the roman
candles go wild.
we've got
a dozen pies for the contest.
moonshine in a barrel.
watermelons
full of seeds.
we've cut the grass,
trimmed back the ivy on
the house,
pulled the weeds.
a few kegs of beer,
hot dogs and beans,
country music on Pandora.
god bless
America
on its birthday.


world travel

when she gets back
from china, doing whatever
it is she does
in china, she'll give me
a call,
and we'll try to work
something out.
in her british accent, she'll
tell me
about her travels
around the world.
the flights, the ships
she's sailed on,
she'll tell me about the great
wall, the mountains,
the transsiberian railroad.
i'll tell her about
springfield
and the new greek place
around the corner,
how the shell station
has the best
prices for gas.

everyone's a winner

everyone gets a trophy
these days.
first place,
last place,
no matter how good you
are or if you
stink.
it's the new age.
there is no last place
anymore.
you competed, you're
a winner.
no need to hang your
head and cry,
everyone gets a
chicken dinner.

gold fish

the goldfish
in their bowl, know only
the bowl.
the water,
the castle of plastic
at the bottom.
the green
weeds swaying
below their
fins,
their pulsing gills.
they know the shadow
of our hand
coming towards them
to sprinkle food
along
the top.
do they long for the sea,
do they
need more?
to understand what this
life means?
it's hard to say
if they are like you,
or me.

the long way home

let's take the long way home,
she tells me,
rolling down
her window, letting the breeze
blow back her hair.
I don't want to go home.
let's keep driving.
okay.
I tell her, taking
the blinker off, getting
back onto the highway.
where to?
anywhere, just drive, just
go, she takes my
hand and puts it in her lap.
we drive and drive.
the sky changes from a golden
blue, to sweet
grey.
the sun a pink melt on the horizon.
there is nothing we can do
or say to better
the moment.
finally we go home and make
love.
we will remember this drive
forever.

Friday, June 23, 2017

fat moe

my dog, fat Moe,
the daschund, would
eat
anything.
a sandwich left unattended
on the table.
a turkey just out of the oven.
up he'd go,
and pull it away behind
the couch.
a shoe,
a watch, a pair
of sunglasses.
computer wires just out
of the box.
he bit a beer can in half
one day.
showing off at a party.
he loved bras
and underwear.
preferring silk, or satin.
one or two snaps,
front or back, made
no difference.
jeans
found at the end
of the bed.
coats on the floor. belts.
he could destroy
the contents of a purse
in two minutes.
cell phones.
god knows the pills
he consumed.
the lipstick he swallowed.
he was a dog
shark,
always on the move
to eat.
to shred,
to swallow. may he
rest in peace.
I am.

smart and yet

I remember my brother,
the genius one,
at ten,
who has more degrees
than a thermometer
standing in the rain,
in a large cold puddle
out in the yard.
I don't know why he was
upset, what it was about,
but he was determined,
he said, to get sick
and die to prove a point.
I remember staring out
the window at him
wondering how he could be
so smart and yet do
something like this.
this thought has often
crossed my mind
as we grow older.

no diving

our pool,
our barbed wire contained
pool.
the deepest end, eight feet.
no diving board,
a listless teenager
on the big chair
eating
chips.
a gaggle of kids
near the side,
screaming marco
polo
an million times over.
I jump in.
a whistle blows,
no diving, the guard
yells
pointing at me
as he stands up.
don't hang on the rope.
you're in the lap lanes.
I go under. I hold
my breath
and lie flat on the bottom
hanging onto the grate.
I stare up
through the water,
past the kicking legs,
through the blue,
to an even bluer sky.
i think about how quickly
life moves on.

different

there was a day
when I came home from work,
every book
I owned
or had bought since I was
a kid,
from salinger to updike,
to grisham,
was packed away in boxes,
taped up
sealed and sitting by
the door.
eight large boxes
of my books.
I asked my significant
other,
whom I was related to by
marriage at that point
in my life
what was going on.
you've read them all, she
said.
I need room for my knick
knacks
and things on the shelves.
maybe there are poor
people out
there who would like to read
these books.
slowly, with steam
coming out of my ears,
I ripped off the tape
and put the books
back onto the shelf.
she shook her head
and called me selfish.
I mumbled bad things
and asked
her if she'd ever heard of
the public library.
we were different.
not on the same page,
not in the same book,
not in the same building.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

go ahead and try

the slow crawl
of the copperhead
across the shaded
walk way,
reminds me of you.
deliberate
and lethal, saying
with all of your
shimmying body,
and dark eyes, go ahead,
just go ahead
and try.

cupid

I think there's
an arrow
in me.
I can feel the sharp
pointed
head
straight
through the heart
and out
the back.
there's a fat cherub
in the tree
with a quill, smiling.
he has wings
that somehow keep
him afloat.
I don't know what
to make
of this.

sometimes true

we find
what we need.
it comes to us if we
go after it
hard enough,
and think about it
often.
visualize
what could be.
without dreams
we are destined to
a life of
mediocrity.
which is only sometimes
true.

staying put

i couldn't be a pioneer
back in those days,
not with the covered wagons
bouncing along.
the beans on the fire.
Indians
with flaming arrows.
coyotes.
i wouldn't have made
it very far,
choking up dust
from the dirt trail.
things would have had
to have been
really bad
to make me leave
the city, with its
crime and rats,
pollution and corruption.
some things you get used
to, and call it
home.

this darkness

the eclipse
is just that.
a darkening of the world
as what floats above
us passes
against one another.
it's temporary,
this shadow.
this darkness.
take heart.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

let it dry

is it too green,
the woman asks, as the paint
dries
on her kitchen walls.
will I get tired of it?
it's
brighter than lime,
brighter than
a granny apple green,
brighter than
any color holly go
lightly might wear,
or found in nature
except perhaps a stripe
on a chameleon.
I nod and say, no it's
fine. let it dry.

the boss of me

late again,
sniffling, not up to par.
throat a little
scratchy.
sweating already at
eight in the morning.
even the coffee
is stale.
I need someone to yell
at me to get
going.
I need a jump start.
a kick in
the behind.
someone telling me that
this little
world of yours will
crumble
if you don't get out the
door.
I lie back in bed
and hit the snooze alarm.
I don't like
being bossed around.

muffin tops

when the stove
catches fire
with flames billowing
out the back and burns
the top of a dozen
blueberry muffins,
she puts the fire out
with her fire extinguisher
then cuts
off the tops of the
blackened muffins.
she ices them down
and says. there we go,
holding out a beautiful
plate of her creations.
not one bead of sweat
on her forehead.

whree's my money

it's not about money.
but it
does come down to money
if you have to
chase it
and get paid.
everything changes
if the check isn't in
the mail,
if it's not handed to
you at the end
of the job,
if the check bounces
like
a ball skipping down
the highway.
things get dark then,
and forever
unlightens your mood
towards
a client.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kool aid kids

we used to have
an enormous clear pitcher
of red
kool aid on the picnic
table.
we all drank it
from paper cups poured
to the brim.
we were children with
red lips,
red drips on our
white t shirts.
the girls too.
we believed
in everything we were told.
we crossed our hearts
and hoped to die before
we awoke.
we drank it daily,
taking in the sugar
sweetness,
the icy cold.
then one day, we stopped
drinking, we moved on
from believeing
everything, from doing
what we were told.

all about me

there is plenty to do
on the list
in descending order
of importance.
you are in
there.
in fact the first
three things on the list
involve you.
my priorities have
suddenly shifted.
although at times
it is all
about me, as seen
in the next twenty items
on the list.

Monday, June 19, 2017

job hunting

when looking for a job
as a teenager
i'd circle
the ads
with a ball point pen.
stretch out the classifieds
on the living room floor
under the big dining room
light and
underline the phone numbers.
clean, neat and sober.
laborer needed.
6 am.
I could do that.
how hard is it to carry
bricks all day.
or dishwasher.
night shift.
12 to 4 am.
maybe not.
usher in a theater.
once again,
clean neat and sober.
there must have been a lot
of drinking going
on back then.
I loved the red suits,
and glossy brimmed hats,
the big flash lights,
telling people
to get there
feet off the chairs,
and to zip up their
pants.

that did it

she liked horses.
you didn't.
the smell of the barn,
the grime,
the shedding.
she liked going to bed
at nine pm.
you're a night owl.
she didn't have a t.v..
what planet are we on?
she liked
saying nothing for
hours on end.
staring silently while
doing her nails.
you're a blabber mouth
who likes to ask
questions that have no
answers.
she wasn't fond
of fooling around.
that did it.

fly away

the fly,
a bit of frenetic
life,
a black dot of fury
against the screen.
clear webbed wings
and an iridescent green
tinge,
somehow.
does he even know what
he wants?
buzzing in,
buzzing out.
never flying in a
straight line,
never resting,
always uncertain about
what to do
next with his short
crazed life.

rain check

the rain check
never comes, nor does
the wind,
or snow,
or hail check.
bad weather has nothing
to do with not
meeting,
but it sounds good
when you can't say
what's really on
your mind.

out of ink

the pen
is out of ink.
bone dry.
not a wet spot of blue
or black
on its
narrow tip.
I hardly wrote a word
with it,
not a single
check, not a single
note
to remind me of
something I might
forget.
I guess you used it
all up,
when listing
your grievances
and complaints. all
of which I filed
in
the corner basket,
balled and tossed
with good aim.

slow boat

the slow boat
to china, would be nice.
with short
stops along the way.
the deep
smooth sea.
the low sun, the high
stars,
just us, just you,
just me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

fast girls

her 78 trans am,
had red stripes,
a big bird painted
on the hood.
big tires.
dents and scrapes
along the side where
she'd clip
guard rails
and parking meters.
it was a fast car
for a fast girl.
a cigarette dangled from
her pouty lips, cherry red.
a can of beer nestled
between her daisy duke
legs.
zz top blasted on the stereo.
she scared you
that summer with her
driving
and foul language, but
she was fun
and frisky
and never missed a sunday
mass
no matter what happened
the night before.

veggie time

the men
look hopelessly around
the pool
area
where the party is in bloom.
no grille? you hear
one man say.
they put their noses
in the air,
sniffing
for seared meat,
a chicken,
a steak, a bratwurst.
but there is none.
someone's wife
brings you a plate
and offers up a carrot
and some snap peas.
what choice do you have?
you say yes,
and bite down,
dipping a broccoli
stalk into a strange white
sauce.

the knot

untying the knot,
takes time.
bending over, stopping
what you're doing,
leaning
over, both hands
working
the tight string
balled together
that keeps your shoe
on.
slowly you work it
free.
life can be full of
knots
that need undoing.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

shopping with the ancient mariner

the water in his ear
makes him
completely deaf.
he squints and unsquints
but can't
see much,
other than the blur
of colors
in the store light.
but it's okay.
he leans on the cart
and pushes onward.
he knows where the baked
beans are,
original recipe,
the fish sticks,
the boneless pork
chops,
the Debbie cakes.
he's done this before.

we go north

go north,
the heart says.
go south, the back seat
driver
chimes in.
east, no west
the passenger beside
me says.
someone here has to make
a decision.
that's me.
my hands are on
the wheel.
we go north.

let it rain

it feels like rain.
a warm summer rain.
the leaves turn up
in a soft wind.
I open the door,
not a soul around
this morning.
no a bird or dog.
no black cat.
let it rain. let
it pour, let it keep
us inside
together, once more.

play on

the musicians,
most grey or dyed an elvis
black,
still love the stage,
there they are,
guitars in hand,
strapped on and drums,
a sax player,
harmonicas too.
a fat man on a tall
bass with a beret
and goatee.
they play for free, for
drinks,
for raw oysters from
the bar.
they could go all night
if you let them.
but there's work tomorrow.

cut flowers

the trouble with
flowers,
once cut, they only go
on so long.
no matter the water,
the sunlight,
the turn
of pot
upon the sill.
enjoy them while you
can, or leave
them alone, leave
beauty where it
belongs,
in the garden with
their friends.

Friday, June 16, 2017

strawberry moon

the strawberry
moon, on the ninth
of the sixth month surprises me.
a pink
orb of Chablis,
so full and high.
in another year I would
have called you
and we would have stared
up at the sky
together and admired it.
you, so many miles away,
seeing it through
the tall pines, seeing
it above the pond beside
your house.
I can see you now in your
bare feet, in the wet
grass, looking up, with
phone in hand,
missing me.

sweet as you

the sweet berries are in,
boxed and set upon
one another in the bright
store.
how blue they
are in milk.
a spoon
beside the white bowl.
a simple thing this pleasure
is.
to taste anything
so fresh and sweet as you.