Saturday, October 31, 2009

what she wants

is what everyone wants,
no doubt, love neat and
boxed, perfect without
compromise or fault, but
it doesn't come that
way in the mail, the
wrapping gets torn in
transit, the box
is crumpled, bent, what
lies within is often
broken, shattered
from the falls, the
mishandling throughout
the years, it's still love,
but it's not the love you
ordered, the one you
envisioned in your
sugarplum dreams. yes,
it's love alright, but a
different kind of love.

rain

it comes down
cold onto the skin,
the face upturned
to see it fall
from rolling clouds.
soaks you to the bone,
into your shoes,
blurs your vision.
it's a dark place
to be, confused
and sick, unloved
and lost, and the rain
doesn't help,
it takes out the
bridge, muddies
the road you need
to be on, you are
so far from the sun,
and there is no
other side, there
is only this,
this rain.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Holidays

For the holidays I am
becoming a Buddhist.
Of course I have no idea
what this might entail,
but I envision it to mean
that I won't have to drive
to the mall and shop for
a thousand dollars worth
of insignificant gifts
and then wrap them all
up pretty with a bow
before handing them out
to an ungrateful brood
of children, siblings,
friends, parents and pets.
I'll be folding my legs
beneath me, into a lotus
position, before the family
fights begin over who sits
where, whose dessert is the
best, or who will do the dishes,
or take out the trash or
any number of a myriad
of things that so desperately
need to be done. I can
stay out of it in blissful
peace, contemplating a
higher plane of life.
Dark meat, white meat?
Who cares? I'm a Buddhist.
Drum stick or wing makes
no difference to me. Of
course the others may think
I am being lazy, or rude, or
perhaps just crazy, but
I will pretty much be on
the sidelines with a
beautific smile upon my
Buddha like face. I will
accept all of them with
their many faults. All
of the slights and harsh
words spoken throughout
the year, since the last
holiday together, will
all be forgiven, forgotten.
It will all roll off of me
like rainwater off a yak.
I will eat and smile,
drink wine. I will be in a
state of perfect contentment,
enjoying the moment. I will
rise above it all and perhaps,
if the mood strikes, have
that second slice of pumpkin
pie with a dollop of whipped
cream smack dab in the middle.
I will be going to my happy place

The Movies

People talk,
and by talk, I mean
blab to their heart's
content at the movies
now. It's as if they
were in their own living
rooms. And they come
hungry. Very hungry.
They eat and eat and
eat. The rattle of
of wrappers and cups,
the slurping of chili
dogs and sodas, so
much crunching and
shaking, chewing out
loud, so loud you can
barely hear the screen.
I admit it, I'm old,
and that perhaps this
is the way it is now,
but I can recall the
uniformed ushers
with flashlights, like
beat cops patrolling
the aisles, keeping
the peace, keeping
the theater quiet and
dark. Not anymore.
People shout to one
another while they
drum the backs of your
seat with hands and feet.
There is no reprimand
as the chatter continues
while the movie plays.
The phones ring, the lights
glow on llke fireflies.
I'm done with weekend movies.
It's the tuesday night
matinee for grandpa now.

Soul Mate

I've gone too far
this time.
I sent the letter
I should have saved,
made the call
I shouldn't have.
I even called
her friend Betty,
and asked a few
too many personal
questions. I've
crossed all the lines
with this one
in a crazy notiion
to win her back.
And now the cops
are at the door.
I see the one with
the big dog holding
a canister of pepper
spray and the other
tapping his billy
club, trying
to get me to open
up and surrender.
Maybe the ten page
note I left on her
front door in red ink,
and on her car,
or the two dozen
roses I sent to
her work was pushing
it, but I love her
and can't live without
her. After all,
she is my soul mate.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Pills

Spreading good cheer
is what I do now.
I'm very pleased with
this new, fresh and fun
attitude about life
that I have. I give
to many charities,
donate my time to
the disadvantaged,
read to the blind,
help the elderly across
the street and back again,
if need be. I find
the time to nod hello
and drop a coin or two
into the cup of every
bum I come across. I've
stopped pressing the pedal
to the floor trying to
beat the light and have
even allowed others
to merge when they don't
have their blinkers on.
I'm a changed man. Reborn.
I called my mother and it
wasn't even Sunday. I
listened to her ramble on
for over ten minutes
before interrupting to
tell her that I didn't
know any of these people
she was talking about, or
had a clue as to what she
was saying. I'm a better
person today, not bitter.
I've seen the light, got
religion, turned over
a new leaf and I owe it
all to my doctor's new
perscription. These tiny
little white pills, generic,
because they're cheaper,
have put a spring into
my step. Sure, I've lost
my job, gained an enormous
amount of weight, my wife
is filing for divorce
and the IRS is banging at
the door, but who cares,
I'm walking on sunshine.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

at night

when i toss
and turn,
and ruffle the sheets,
search for the cool
side of the pillow,
or sit up wide awake
and wonder why it's
so hard to fall asleep,
i blame it all on you,
your lips, your legs
the touch of your hand
in mine. the feel of
your heart beating
against me. the night
is a cold black
ocean I am wading in
without you.

the small things

keep us in wonder.
the way the sun rises,
the simple love of children
with no compromise,
the true heart of a friendship.
a glass of wine,
a meal with someone who
stirs your soul
with affection.
a kind hand, or thought,
or kiss hello,
all are welcome and necessary
in this world
we struggle in.

You've Got Mail

The almost new love of my life
has sent me a message. It's not good.
The dear steve message is never a
pleasant read. It usually follows
the pattern of her telling me everything
I've ever done wrong, pointing out
my many flaws, my impossible stubborness
to change, my frozen heart, and
irrepressible sarcasm. Unavailable
and smartass are often two words found
somewhere in the hastily written, and
often angry text. But it's okay.
And in it being okay, this also seems
to be a problem. They want me to suffer,
to shed some tears, lose weight, to somehow
feel he pain and heartache that normally
goes along with losing the almost next
love of my ife. But no. I got nothing.
It's a hard thing adding another grown
person into the mix. I can do a few
nights, perhaps a saturday, or a sunday
once in a while, but I can't do the
whole week. I need some down time.
Some Steve time. I need to look around
the room sometimes and be the only
person there. Just as I like an
ice cold glass of water when I'm
thirsty, I can't drink it all day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Never Enough

She wants to go
to a museum,
an art gallery,
a show, a play,
a movie, maybe do some
shopping at the mall.
Here, hold my purse.
She wants to browse
the bookstore for a
self-help book,
a cookbook, or have
a book signed by
the author and shake
his hand. There is
a string quartet
at the community center
gazebo. A flea market,
pull over at that yard
sale. Thank you, you're
the best. Perhaps we can
take a drive to a winery
nestled cozy near the
mountains, we'll bring
a picnic basket with some
egg salad sandwiches
and a tupperware container
full of watermelon balls
carved out with your
williams and sonoma melon
scooper, a blanket, chairs,
a cooler, bug spray, water,
wine, etc. oh, and don't
forget the corkscrew.
A walk, hand in hand
through old town
down the cobblestone
streets might be fun
too, romantic, peering into
the windows and shops.
Oh my, that antique
sewing machine is beautiful,
it'll fit right into
the trunk of your car,
and look great in your
foyer. Buy it, don't be
so cheap. Give me your
credit card. We could
always pick berries
at the farm which is
on the way to the winery,
just down ninety-five
about twenty three miles
out of the way, west,
or go to the farmer's market
in the city and make a tomato
purchase. Oh, I know, i
have a great idea,
it's so nice out, let's
take a day trip to the
beach and get some taffy.
Yup, it's what we do,
or else.

Gone Fishing

In an insane moment of fatherly affection
I decided to take my son fishing one day.
Being only six or seven at the time, he
was young and inexperienced, but he appeared
ready. Right away, the worm thing was a
problem, but once he got used to the idea
that a worm's life meant nothing to us, it
was easy for him to stab the sharp silver
hook into the wiggling end, killing it for
all intents and purposes. Was it in the head,
the tail, who knows, girl or boy, we couldn't
figure that out either, but no screaming was
involved despite the considerable amount of
squirming and blood when the hook went in.
We then cast our single line, plop, into the murky
water and stood there motionless for what
seemed like five hours, but was only fifteen
minutes. We smacked violently at the horseflies
and mosquitos that were ravaging our legs and arms
and my son looked at me strangely when he heard
words he had never heard before. We then recast,
rewormed, and then repositioned to a point maybe
ten feet from where we were standing. This part
of the man made lake seemed better, despite the
fact that there was still the horrible smell
that reminded me of an open dumpster behind a
chinese restaurant. We finally got a nibble
and our line quivered, then a strong bite,
so we pulled back on our rod, bending it ever
so slightly so as to snag the hook into the stiff
lip of the unsuspecting fish. He took it and we
could feel his struggle on the line and in the
fiber rod. Slowly we reeled him in so as not
to lose our catch. It skimmed weightlessly
along the surface before comming to a halt at
my son's feet. What is it, he asked. It was about
three inches long and was the color of an anemic
goldfish, pale and frightened. I shook my head
and ran through the list of fish I knew, fish
I had ordered off of menus or seen on the box
of frozen foods at the grocery store, I don't know,
I said, flounder? Of course he wanted to keep it,
so after a struggle of getting the hook from
it's grimmacing mouth we dropped him into a
small bucket of lake water. At this point my
son was calling him little Willie and the fishing
part of the day was finally over. We had to get
little Willie home, we had to feed him. My son
was worried that the hook may have injured Willie's
boney lip. Perhaps mom had some neosporin at home
we could dab on him. Thankfully Willie died
within minutes of being put into the bucket.
Shock, whatever. He couldn't take it. It
might have been me squeezing his one ounce
body too hard as I yanked the hook out of it's
mouth, crushing it's tiny fragile organs.
But we were done here. My son was upset and tears
filled his eyes, he was talking now about
Willie's brothers and sisters still in the lake
looking for him, his mother waiting for him
to come home for dinner. There was no mention
of Willie's father which bothered me in a whole
other way. We tossed the remaining cup of blood
worms into the water, hoping that it would help
little Willie's friends and family get over
their tragic loss. Then my son said that he had
to pee really bad, so I pointed at a tree
where he could go. So he went, then we drove
home quietly and talked about getting a pizza
and washing our hands the first chance we had.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

God

Just how swamped is He.
Is there a desk, an itinerary
that He follows, or is it a
random day of doing whatever
melts his butter. Is He
answering the suggestion box
of prayers, flipping a coin,
or does it work alphabetically,
do we take a number, or is this
a triage situation. Where is He.
Is He sitting with hands folded,
the angels at his feet while
we run amok all due to the bitten
apple. Eve. There is no
disrespect intended, because I
do believe, and I do fear the
consequences of evil in any form.
I sweat enough Catholic guilt
on a daily basis to float a
confessional, but I would like
some clarity from time to time.
I need some pin point direction.
Maybe a phone call, a text message,
something. I'm sort of done with
the 'mystery' answer, that we will
know and understand everything
in the end. I really don't want
to know everything in the end,
and call me impatient, but some
of that top secret knowledge
might do a lot of us some serious
good right now. I know that I'd
sleep a lot better if I knew the
answers to a few typical questions.
Earthquakes, disease, famine,
crime, volcanoes, tsunamis, what's
up with that. And the paradox
of free will, my head spins with
that one. I know it's not all
black and white. I know it's not
simple, but no one, not one single
educated religious scholar, or the
sincerest of holy men or women
can give you an answer in layman's
terms about what the hell is going
on here. Okay, I'm driving myself
crazy with this, and it's a very
short drive. Ba da bing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Artist in Venice

The old man told me
one morning over coffee,
while sitting in the plaza
where the pigeons
nervously awaited
the tourists to bring
them crumbs, pieces of bread,
biscotti, he told me
that he didn't like
going out among them anymore,
he wanted to stay in and paint,
that's all that mattered now.
who, I asked. All of them
he said, and made a broad
stroke of his hand across
a growing mob of tourists.
I dislike them, the people,
they are mean and selfish,
rude, they over eat, they want
what they can't have
and are never satisfied
with life, with their
children, their wives,
the places they live, their
jobs. But maybe they will
change, I offered quietly,
edging up on my chair. He
laughed, amused with me,
my childlike optimism.
The sun finally emerged over
the top of the church
and lit up the narrow
waterways where the gondolas
had already begun to ply
their trade with first fares.
No, he said, the world
is corrupt, even religion
can't stop it, it's the nature
of our souls, we can't help
ourselves from being who
we are. It's a struggle
to surrender and find your
way without doing harm,
or being a nuisance. I'm tired
of people, he said, tired.
He made a motion of wiping
his hands that were still
flecked with paint, reds, golds,
then sipped his coffee,
letting the steam rise into
his gentle blue eyes. He
didn't want my approval, he
didn't look into my eyes
for agreement or even
understanding, he just nodded,
knowing through an earned
life of years and art,that
how he felt was sad, and true.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Waiting for the Train

There are days
when you want
the day to end,
to move along
swiftly like the train
you are waiting for
while standing
on the platform,
the cold in your feet,
wind down your collar.
And then there
are nights
that you want to last,
when you want
the clocks to stop
and let you rest
so that you don't
have to begin
the next day
when the cruel sun
rises. This is what
you call the beginning
of a bad week,
because it's only Monday.
Maybe a good deep
snow that could stop
everything, halt
the world, could mend
this mood, you hope so
and shiver.

Benefit of the Doubt

She wants diamonds,
furs, a fancy black car,
a house on the beach,
a condo in the city.
She's got legs and lips,
and a rear end that
shakes like a bowl of hard
jello on Christmas morning.
She's never worked an
honest day in her life.
but somehow has survived.
She might be forty, or
perhaps fifty or even
pushing towards
the twilight zone of sixty,
who knows, but she's
a walking pin cushion
of botox and silicone,
miracle creams and bras.
Tighteners and reducers
have done their best
to keep the bloom on
the rose. She's done thirty
days in rehab and on
occasion has to blow into
a tube in order to start her
car. Her past is shady,
her future is uncertain,
her taxes are unpaid
and everything she pretends
to own is a phone call away
from being repossesed
by some guy named Vic
in Newark. But I love her
just the same and I can
overlook these small things.
She renamed her dog after
me, that means alot in these
difficult times. I'm willing
to give her the benefit
of the doubt. I'm not
calling it love, just yet,
but we'll see how things go.

Cancellation

She calls me from the hospital
an hour before we are supposed
to meet, and says in a thin, weak
voice that she can't make the date.
Her cancer is no longer in remission,
and she's at NIH, in a room, in a bed,
hooked up to monitors and tubes
providing medicines beyond me,
liquid foods. She says that she is
sorry and that she has a window
where she can see the tops of trees
that fill the stretch before the
highway begins, and curves away
in the direction of the restaurant
where we were to meet, and drink
martinis, eat light, discuss our lives,
our children, our mutual interests
and dislikes. I don't know her, not
really. We've exchanged e-mails,
a few phone calls. It was just a date,
a first meeting to see if there should
be a second or third, or perhaps
decide to never see one another
again. It happens in this fast world
of cyber dating, but I wasn't expecting
the possibility of death to interfere
with my fun, to bring me to tears
for someone I hardly know. I listen
to her voice on the phone as she
tells me that she can't make it, trying
to be upbeat, to spin it light and airy,
repeating that it's just a minor set
back. She mentions her kids, her yard,
the neighbor that will walk the dog. I am
nothing to her really, but for this single
moment in my life and time, I am
thethered forever to this stranger.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Carnival

On the parking lot, at
the far end, the north end
where no one ever parks,
where the broken glass sparkles,
and the weeds sprout up
between the cracked asphalt
that hasn't been paved
in decades a carnival goes up.
Over night the rides
and tents appear, the colored
lights flash on and the fragrance
of hot dogs and popcorn,
grease and spun cotton candy
fill the air. It's there for two
weeks in July. The men and women
who take the money and disperse
the flimsy tickets are worn
and tired, with watery eyes,
dark and failed tattoos, old before
their time. Cigarettes, unmoved,
in the corners of their mouths,
the smoke swirling in their faraway
eyes. No one looks like anyone
you've ever known, a different breed.
From town to town in darkness
they move the machines, attach
the spokes for the dizzying
Ferris Wheel, the scrambler,
the kiddie rides. The bolts get
tightened, the bearings greased,
the pyramid of pins that can't
be knocked down goes up, and
the boxes of stuffed pink animals
gets dragged out. They won't be
given away too soon. But try
your luck, what do you have to lose.

Breaking Plans

I've cancelled my
flight, my ticket out,
I'm staying on.
I'm not coming to
see you this time
around. I've slept
on it, I've had a
few drinks and
wept about it.
I've consulted with
my various friends
who don't have
a clue, and yet
they all agree that
you're not the one
for me. But stay
tuned, you know
how I am, and that
I've done this before.
Things change, time
passes and has a
way of even making
the best decisions
feel like the worst,
but meanwhile try
to ignore your broken
heart and go on about
your day as if I was
there, and in love
and about to finally
find my way. Try not
to hate me too much,
again.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Siblings

My sister,
the one with
the slight of hand
and silver tongue,
is a fragile little bird
caught in a nest
of bad circumstances.
All of it beyond her
control. She'll tell you
all about it, if you share
your own personal
dirt, but none of it
is her fault, oh how
her bright yellow wings
do flutter in this horrible
cage she's trapped in.
Yes, she's weak and soft
sweet and sugary,
like a warm muffin
straight from the oven
on a sunday morn.
I steer clear of her
like the plague.
I've felt the thorns
that ring her flowery
self a thousand times
over. If she's wearing
a hat and lipstick
it gets even worse.

Liz

When I married Liz Taylor
I really thought that it would
last, that it would be the final
marriage for the both of us,
and so did she. I admit that
our track record with regards
to the nuptials was not stellar,
but we were as hopeful as two
new lovers should be at that
early stage of romance. When
our eyes met and locked in
the rear view mirror of my taxi,
as she rode in the back seat with
her fold up wheel chair, well,
we both knew that it was true
love. But sadly, she was never
home. She never put the time
in, or made the effort. Not
once did I see her at the stove
scrambling eggs or frying up
bacon, and a side order of
hashbrowns, not once did she
butter a toasted english muffin,
for me, never. And when we made
love, which was hardly ever, it
was pedestrian at best. She was
always too tired, involved with
her charities, always on the
phone, and her illnesses were
taking their toll. And here I
was her husband, albeit a taxi
driver, but her one true love
and all she could talk about was
Richard this and Richard that,
and the time Paul Newman
said this, or Orson Welles said
that. She was quite the name
dropper and I found it quite
annoying. Where was the violet
eyed beauty, Cleopatra, who
filled the screen with heat and
heaving bosoms, where was
Maggie the Cat, sassy and seething
with raw lust. I felt gypped.
Something happened along the
way, maybe it was the pills and
booze, the ups and downs with
a slew of bad husbands, but with
me I thought it would be different.
No such luck. I haven't seen or
talked to her in weeks, she's not
even in the hollywood rag mags
anymore. I have no idea where
she is, but there's a message on
my voice mail from her lawyer.
I guess I should listen to it, and
see what's up. I'll miss her, that
rascal, and think about her a lot
while I drive my taxi in seach
of my next fare.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Fourth Tire Is Free

That's the deal this month,
and all sales are final, if you
buy one, you get the next one
free, buy two with a coupon.
come back next week and have
a free garden salad on us. Buy
two off the rack suits and get a half
a pair of shoes, half off. Get
the cable, the phone, the internet
bundle and slash your current bill
by twenty percent, wiring and
installation is extra, unless you
already have a satellite dish, then
we can work something out if you
change servers,or expand your network,
and cable channels to include all
naked people bellowing like sheep,
or animals that are being hunted
in Africa with blow darts. Please
have your credit card ready. During
this one time only sales event you
can get a glove, and a matching second
glove for the other hand at ten per cent
off, but for a limited time only, one
pair per customer, but does not include
consumers residing in New Jersey
or parts of Delaware, yet to be
determined. For this week only,
for our exclusive Gold Club members,
we are offering a complimentary cup
of instant coffee and a donut in
the lobby, however you must be a
guest in one of our luxury suites
for at least three over night stays.
Weekends are not included in this
promotion. Towels and sheets
will be provided at no cost. Kids under
twelve eat free, unless accompanied
by adults. Oil changes are for
the life of your car, if you buy a
new car on thursday before nine
a.m., but only if you have purchased
a car with us during the previous
two years. Oh, and as always you
get the fourth tire free, absolutely
no charge, with a bonus of a free
flu shot for the first one hundred
customers. Ask for Jimmy and tell
him that Frank sent you. All of this
is subject to change by management,
or by state laws still pending. Legal
action will be taken for any duplication
of this advertisement in any form.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Small Print

The small print warns you,
begs you to beware. It adds up
the cost, the ingredients, if only
you could read it. All the things
you really need to know are in
the tiny ant like words on the
back label, or buried like a secret
on the last page of a twenty page
document. The side effects,
the late fees, the hidden charges,
the contingencies, the ifs and buts.
They lie just below the price
bar, the date stamp, the useless
other words. It's all in small print,
the car contract, the house
settlement, the divorce papers,
that jar of pills, even a can
of chicken noodle soup
has an unreadable list of hidden
bits and pieces added for your
dining pleasure. It may cause
cancer, emphysema, blindness,
it may harden your kidneys like
cement on a sunny sidewalk.
You may see spots and flashing
lights, or stutter intermittently,
you might lose feeling in your legs,
stroke, shaking, an upset stomach,
muscle aches, soreness, sexual
dysfunction, prolonged erections,
infections, a rash, a fever, loss
of hearing, loss of appetite, vomiting,
heart attack, diarrhea. Tingling,
Till death do us part, in sickness
and in health. Don't be surprised,
it's all there. It's in the small print.

Simple Needs

A warm slice of pie
from the oven,
cinnamon apple,
with a scoop of french
vanilla ice cream,
cold and round, set
upon the piece with
crumbled crust. Quick
to melt at the soft
edges. The silver fork
shining on the plate,
a white linen napkin.
A cup of tea. You've
done it all, haven't you.
Smug in the doorway,
your arms folded, a
cat like smile upon your
pretty face. I believe
that I'll stay, if you'll
have me. I think it's
what I need.

Below

The ocean
wallows in blue
bruises,
no sun to
lighten the load,
just the dull spoon
of a sky,
without sail
or soul
risking the high
tide, and what
it holds below.
The dead,
pleading no,
stay home,
in port,
stay off or go
under
and be part
of a tragic
poem.

A Work In Progress

I'm building something, perhaps
you've heard the hammer into

the late night, pounding nails,
or heard me driving screws,

or seen the small light in my
window, the yellow square

against the darkness. Maybe
you've heard the sharp teeth

of my saw cutting swiftly through
the two by fours, throwing sawdust

into the air like falling stars.
Maybe you've seen me carrying

wood, sheets of drywall up the stairs.
I'm building something here. I don't

know what, and it doesn't matter.
My plans are scattered, the blueprints

lost in the wind, like you. But it's
necessary to keep going, to build

something, something new.

Turtle

The slow crawl
across the ground
towards water,
or swamp,
the turtle under
a warm sun,
but in his own
shadow, moves
at a pace only
he understands,
and believes in.
The emblem
of his shell,
in dull sheen,
holds a pattern
of who he is and where
he has come from.
But he plods
along in disregard
for trains, or dogs,
the thunder
of wheels from
cars and trucks
that roll by.
One clawed foot
after another,
defying evolution.
There is very little
scamper in his game.
He needs to get
to the other side of
where he is, as
perhaps we all do.
That's all you need
to know, for he's
not talking. And
if you approach him
with charm, with
worms, or the
currency of bugs, he'll
ignore you, go under,
tight and warm,
and snug, prepared
to wait you out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tee Time

She decides what I wear,
picks out everything,
yes, everything, including
my briefs. I trust her with
my suits, my shirts and socks,
matching ties and shoes.
Slacks. It's less of a burden
on me, and I don't mind at
all. She knows the stress I'm
under, being important and
a rising star on the corporate
ladder, such as it is. I have
more important things
to worry about than the
mundane trivial things in life,
and that goes for food too,
and the kids, vacations,
school functions, pets and
the pool, the everyday planning
of just about everything.
I have no time to cut the grass,
or trim the hedges. Please.
My schedule is completely full.
My drives are going further
because of her, and my stroke
on the greens is silky smooth,
my mind is at ease knowing
she is at home making it all right.
There are no bogeys on my
card. I'm very happy with my game.

Day at the Office

The elephants have gone mad,
and who can blame them.
They are running through
the streets dragging their
handlers and small children
beneath their enormous feet,
they are fleeing the circus,
crushing everything in their
paths with jungle venom.
Enough with the tricks,
the clowns, the pointed sticks
banging against their grey hides,
the girls, like queens, in sequins,
riding atop, while the beasts march
in thunderous unison, their tails
entwined with trunks. Circling,
circling, never getting anywhere.
Now roar, now sit, now stand.
It's all fixed. Nothing more than
shelled peanuts in the end.
Humbled. There is only so much
they can take before rushing
the crowd, breaking the poles
and taking the tent down.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Darkness

Being lost
in the woods,
I keep moving.
It's getting dark.
The sky is closing in.
The earth is getting
cold and the animals
are coming out
of thin air, rustling
the bushes, moving
with soft feet just
out of reach. I see
their eyes flash
and disappear
in the remaining
light of day, below
a thin moon rising.
But I keep moving,
feet against
the ground,
through the shallow
water, thickets,
the tangle of thorns.
I know there
is a way out,
I've been lost before
in the darkness
of trees. I am no
stranger here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The News

I'm tired of global warming,
recycling, the green people,
the farmer's market with their
home grown tomatoes.
I'm sick of the prius cars, and
the mini this and that, the fifty
mile per gallon braggadocios.
I don't want to see another
computer generated, time lapsed
video of what the earth will
look like when the ice caps melt.
Enough with Iran, Iraq,
Afghanistan, North Korea, and
even China. Stop with the
recession, the lack of jobs,
the closing factories, the corruption
on every corporate level, health
care, the swine flu. Especially
the swine flu. Just shut
up and go away. Leave us alone
for one Sunday so we
can relax, barbeque, watch
the ballgame in peace and quiet,
Have a cold beer on the couch.
I really do care, I just need a short
break. Thank you and goodnight.

A Pattern Here

I'm looking into my closet.
I have twelve pairs of khaki
pants, seven pale blue dress
shirts, six pairs of tennis shoes,
thirty one white t-shirts in
varying degrees of wear. Five
black pull over sweaters, three
pairs of brown shoes, three
pairs of black shoes, ten pairs
of jeans, enough socks to fill
two laundry baskets, and more.
Why go on. It's impossible to
right the ship now. I know
what I like, and so I will continue
the madness of buying the same
things over and over again.
I can always use another pair
of black dress pants, no cuffs.
Anything of one, I'll never wear,
never have and have no intention
of even putting it on for a trial
run out the door. But there
the orange shirt hangs, the red
blazer, the purple sweater,
the cowboy hat, the yellow pants,
the leather vest with brass
buttons, the snakeskin boots.
All new, still tagged, fresh and
unwrinkeld as they day they
were bought. This all means
something, but I don't have time
to delve deep into my inner psyche
and solve the riddle of clothes.
The store closes in an hour
and this coupon expires today.

Rehabilitation

It's not so bad here,
not really. The food is okay,
it's warm. Sometimes it even
tastes like food. Hearing the tray
slide through the slot,
and the slight rattle of plastic
wear is a nice thing to break up
the day. I'm losing weight,
thought I'd tell you that.
They've given me new pants,
the ones with white stripes
down the side, because my
other ones would slide down
when out exercising in the yard.
It's not something you want
to happen. Trust me on that.
But I'll be out soon and perhaps
we could rekindle our romance,
begin anew the love that I thought
was beginning to blossom before
I punched you and set your house
on fire, you know how jealous
I can get when I read your e-mails
or see that you've been on the
phone with men I don't know,
but I'm sorry about that. I hope
that your insurance was enough
to rebuild and get new furniture.
I've really changed this time.
I'm in several twelve step programs
and I'm reading all the books by
Eckart Tolle. I've been able to
completely forget the past and the
person that I used to be and focus
on the now. Those books have
been a blessing here in prison.
They get passed around like hot
cakes. I am free of who I used to
be, and if others would ignore
all the tattoos of satan and the nazi
swaztikas on both arms and on my
back, they could see and believe
that I've changed too. I'm up
for parole in a few weeks and if
all goes well and they see how
far I've come, that I'm a new man,
well, I'll be free. I hope to see you
standing at the gate when I come
walking out, and that you will
welcome me back into your life.
I can't stop thinking about you.
Oh, and by the way, I'm sorry
about what I did to your cat.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bye Bye

Soon, she says, and winks,
soon, I'll be back. She has
an overnight bag in each hand
as she readies to board the train.
She kisses me on the cheek.
Light and brief, just a touch.
It's the kiss of death, the cheek
kiss. It signals we are friends,
nothing more, nothing less,
and the time we just spent
together is very much a thing
of the past. The kiss has said
more than any words could
convey. I understand though.
I see the light, or rather the dark
of what this relationship is. But
I'm good with that. It was fun
and I'm a very accepting person
when things come to an end.
It's all about shelf life. When it's
over and expired, it's over.
And as the train pulls away,
blowing it's whistle, easing out
of the station on the glistening
rail, and she gives me from
a narrow window a final
weak smile and wave, I put
the phone to my ear and try
to get Betty on the line, after all
it's friday, and it's still early.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Single

I see her in the market,
pushing her cart, filling
the void with foods for one,
the single servings of
frozen meals, healthy choices,
not a slice of red meat
to be found, but lots of fruits
and vegetables. She's not
unattractive, but wary
of her point in life, unmarried,
no kids. Maybe thirty
or forty, somewhere in
between and pushing through
the store with her list
for the week. Skim milk,
yogurt, sodium free soups,
the reward chocolate bar.
She's wearing sweat clothes,
her hair pulled back into a pony
tail, no make up. The sun
has set and it's cold. She
thinks about where she parked
her car, what she can carry,
how safe it is out there.
She's in no hurry, but it seems
serious, this shopping and her
eyes never look up or away
from the cart, the list, the
shelves. The bright lights
of the store shimmering every-
where, the dulled music
from overhead, playing
something familiar, making it
all feel like a surreal dream, one
she'll have again and again
as she strolls down the aisles
that have no altar at the end.

Postcard From Miami

I like to go to Miami for the winter,
to get away from the snow and ice,
the grey slush that's piled and melting
on the street. I like to stay in a plush
hotel on south beach and lie on the warm
coast until I'm the color of a coconut.
I enjoy the topless scenery, the calm
green blue water that laps upon
the white sand. I like to sip a frothy
drink and snack on slices of melon, eat
chips with guacamole dip. I'm very
relaxed at the beach knowing how cold
it is up north. It's so quiet, well except
for the nightclubs on the strip where
the women dance on top of the bars
and shake all night long to the beat
of the conga drums, and moracas.
I wish though that I hadn't forgotten
my cell phone charger. My phone is
completely dead, that's why you
haven't heard from me, but don't get
me wrong, I haven't forgotten you.
Once I get settled in I'll send for you.
I'll wire you the cash so that you can
fly down and meet me. I'll send a cab
to pick you up at the airport. I think
you're special and that this could be
the best vacation ever. Just give me
a week, or so to get organized
and unpacked. All the best. XOXO.

Just Say It

I want to write the serious poem,
the one with metaphors, geese
in flight, birds on a wire, love
and blood, sunrises, and the moon
like a communion wafer flat
against a black sky. I want to find
the words that rhyme and make
hearts flutter with anticipation. But
I can't. I read the poets, the serious
and studied bards that fill
the books and libraries, the ones
who will live on in dusty wonder
until the end of time, and I am
bored, bewildered and disappointed.
They speak in calculated riddles,
counting lines, the syllables,
the refrains. It's so hard to peel
back the form and the pastry
of words to get to the point.
There are only so many things
to write about between the start
and end of a life, and most of those
revolve around love. Always love.
The lack of it, the search for it,
the end, the beginning, the beauty
of what love is. But it's impossible
to just say it. It's no wonder
these books stay on the shelf, these
complicated puzzles, and that very
few readers embrace poetry
anymore. It's the equivalent
of a high mass in latin, echoing
in an airless church. The pews are
empty, the parishoners are at home
watching television, logging on.

The Recession

It started with a piece of gum,
then a candy bar, then a pen
from the bank. I just slipped
them into my pocket when no
one was looking. And then it
was the free samples of food
at the gourmet market, I circled
again and again, taking handfuls
of shrimp, chestunuts wrapped
with peppered bacon, soft brie
on crackers, guacamole on pita
bread pieces. I ate until I was
full, then opened up a bottle
of Italian lemonade soda
at the end of the aisle and drank
that too. I dipped my hand
into the jar at the 7-11, taking
a handful of change from Jerry's
kids, I started cutting chains
off of bikes and riding away,
leaving them at the park when
my legs got tired. I jumped into
idling cars in front of the liquor
store and drove away until I
was out of gas. At the coffee shop
I took sweet and lows by the handful,
sugar, creamers, stir sticks. I ran
the tolls on the expressway, walked
away from diners without leaving
a cent. I had no guilt, no remorse.
I blamed it all on George Bush,
the younger one, the economy,
my lack of work and being old
and unhireable at this late stage
of life. I ran my credit cards to
the limits, taking trips to Coney
Island, Moscow, and New Zealand.
I changed my name, got more cards,
I was out of control, a runaway
train. There was no stopping me
until I tried to rob a bank and
took a bullet in the leg. Now I'm
in the hospital. I can't get up but
when I can, I see some stuff that
I could really use, but can't afford.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

talents

Not everyone can sing,
carry a tune, or dance
to beat the band, or play
the piano with such grace
and ease as to bring tears
to those who listen. Not
everyone has the ability
to write a book, to tell
a story, or create a poem
that will live through
the ages. Not everyone
will get the applause from
an adoring public,
when he paints on canvas
with the talent he is blessed
with, but it doesn't matter.
It won't stop us from trying.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Merry Christmas

I was feeling in the Christmas
spirit the other day. I realize
that it's still October, but when
I saw the decorated trees all
lit up and the snow men, and santa
on his sleigh with the reindeer
next to the halloween pumpkins,
and witches costumes, well it
got me going. There were some
paper turkey's out too, next
to the two pound bags of M&Ms
and assorted candy bars. It was
the kind you staple to your front
door for thanksgiving, with the
feathers ballooning out. But I
was feeling Christmassy, listening
to the muzak play white christmas
and hearing the salvation army
captain out front in his uniform,
ringing that bell in the eighty degree
heat. I even dropped some change
into the pot and it felt good. He only
had three more months of arm
wearying, ear splitting ringing
to do, but hey, it was just around
the corner before Old St. Nick
came down the chimney.
I bought some eggnog too, and
some rum from the liquor store,
what the hell, let's get this party started.
I bought some cookie dough
and a few pie crusts in case I decided
to make a pie this year.
I also picked up a string of lights
for the front rail oustide my house.
I'm always the last guy on the street
to show lights, but not this year,
I'm way ahead of the game.
I decided to pick up some early
gifts too and made a stop at
the bookstore to grab a stack
of on sale picture books. One was
on the Grand Canyon and the other
were books about the Titantic
and underwater sea creatures.
Who wouldn't want that for
Christmas. I could wrap them later,
but at least I had a few under my belt.
There was always the dollar store
to finish up the rest. Ahhhh, Christmas.
I might even take the bus up to NYC
to catch the Xmas show at Radio
City Music Hall. I love those Rockettes.
Nothing quite like forty scantily
clad young women in nylons and heels,
kicking up their legs in unison to celebrate
the birth of Christ, savior of the world.

very near the end

I'm bleeding from the cut on
my chin from shaving
with a new razor, her razor.
I dab it, run some cold
water on it, stick a piece
of kleenex into the cut,
but it won't stop. It's crimson
against the washcloth,
dripping into the white
sink. I run the water
to swirl it away, but the
chin keeps bleeding, it's
not a cut, but a wound,
a deep wound. I may need
a stitch or two to sew it up.
Blood is everywhere. My
girlfriend Sally knocks
on the bathroom door,
then opens it... what the
hell are you doing in here,
she asks. I pull the cloth away
from my chin to show her.
Oh my, look at you, you're
bleeding, better have that
looked at. Hurry up I need
to use the bathroom. I'm late
as it is. Hey, there's some blood
on the floor, could you mop
that up, I don't want to
step on it in my bare feet.
She rolls her eyes, and
brushes her hair out while
pacing the bedroom in her
underwear. But I feel faint.
I'm not used to seeing so
much blood and I suddenly
feel weak, like I can't stand up.
I grab the sink and slip to
the floor, blacking out. My
head bangs against the tub.
My body is blocking the door
when I come to, and I hear
Sally yelling at me, trying
to get it open, but my weight
won't let it budge. Jesus, what
are you doing in there? Are
you lying down, get up, I told
you I was late. How many times
do I have to tell you that? I see
her face in the slight opening
of the door, I see her bare
shoulder pushing against it
with all her strength. But I don't
move and I suddenly realize
the nature of our relationship.

Pick a Color

Paint it grey, no red.
Wait, perhaps there's
a taupe color that might
work with this rug, the chair,
the drapes, the ottoman
way over there. Her hands
are on her hips, cell phone
to her ear, she has all the time
in the world. I have none.
I'm trying to work, make
a living, but this seems
to escape her. She pulls out
a fan. A chart of a thousand
colors and begins to read
them out loud. Blue moon, red
clay, egg yellow, Christmas
green, aligning the chips against
the fabrics. And I stand there ,
paint brush in hand, roller
in it's tray, dry and waiting.
She won't choose though,
it's too hard, nearly impossible,
and so it goes, and I know that
I won't get paid today. She
pours me coffee, tells me to sit,
to help her with the colors.
She doesn't see how weary
I am, even at eight in the
morning with nowhere else
to go. So I smile, I point
and offer a suggestion or two
about the greens, the yellows,
the blues. She asks me how
I feel about vermillion.

In Search Of

Let me introduce myself.
I'm a professional woman
in search of a professional man,
one who is available, both
emotionally and financially.
I'll tell you right away, that I
love to shop, so don't be
surprised if I fill up the back
seat of your car with shopping
bags. My friends all say that
I'm a catch and that I look
and act a lot younger than my
age. I hope that's true for you
too! I'd like to find someone
who isn't too jealous, that would
be nice, because I like to flirt
and stay online into the wee
hours of the morning searching
for my soul mate in case
the one I'm with doesn't work
out. I'd like my new match to
be in shape too, like me, well, like
I used to be. All of this dating
and eating, and drinking has
taken it's toll on my once flat
tummy, but I promise you that
I will drop these extra twenty
five pounds before the holidays.
I love to stroll the beach at night
with a glass of red wine, hopefully
with you, and I can change from
jeans into a little black dress in
the wink of an eye. I am as
comfortable having you take me
to an embassy dance as I would
be at a carnival eating cotton
candy and getting a tattoo.
I would one day like to go to a
museum, maybe the one down-
town about those awful prison
camps, that would be fun, and
maybe buy a book or two to
read, but who has the time.
Busy bee is my middle name.
Hey, if you like kids, boy are
you in for a treat. I have three,
or at least three that I know of.
LOL. Despite the fact that they
are all in elementary school,
they are very mature for their
ages and don't mind if mommy
comes home late, or sometimes
very early in the morning in
a taxi cab. I don't want a man
with baggage, meaning a mean
old nasty ex who has drained
you dry of every penny you ever
made. If you don't have a car,
or it's older than five years,
don't bother writing, or if you
can't get it up and keep it up,
pass me by. Oopsy, I hope I
didn't sound too fresh, but I'm
just very very affectionate.
You'll love that about me. Wink!
Oh, and if you'd like to buy me
expensive jewelry and take
me to exotic islands, well we
just might be hearing wedding
bells before you know it!
One more thing. I'd like my
man to be handy around
the house, but not hit me.
I won't put up with that
anymore, and drinking, if you
come home drunk it had better
be with me. Oh, and if you
are still on drugs, I've quit,
so we probably won't be a good
match. So, anyway, that's me
in a nutshell, call me, or e-mail
me soon. If I don't get back to
you right away, don't worry.
I promise I will. I am probably
just out having a drink with a new
friend and eating a plate of fried
calamari or potato skins.
By the way, my pictures are a few
years old, about ten, but I look
exactly the same. Trust me,
you won't be disappointed. Ciao!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Dance

As I stand here
against the cold brick
wall, blindfolded, hands
tied behind my back,
I refuse the cigarette,
or any final request.
I have nothing to say
in my innocence. I'm
quiet to those that
accuse me of my crime.
I await the bullets
to enter my heart
to quickly bring my life
to an end. I show no
fear, nothing, not a drop
of sweat, no tears.
Instead I move my feet,
I find a dance, a jig, if you
will, and keep the feet
moving, faster and faster
in the dirt of early
morning. This startles
the men lined up with
rifles about to fire. They
look at one another
and nod with approval,
they laugh, they like this
dance that I do. I call it
the dance of death, although
not out loud, let them
guess what I call it. I'm
through giving and not
getting anything in return.
Maybe it's what got me
here. But I'm ready and I'm
dancing, dancing, dancing.

To whom it may concern:

If and when we go back
to the moon, to the icy
white dust laden surface,
barren for a million years,
or more, could they please
do one simple thing first,
for me, and pay for my
son's college education.
In the great scheme
of things, it's not too much
to ask, perhaps eighty
grand for four years
including tuition, housing
and a good meal plan.
He doesn't need much
and the moon landing will
be in the billions of dollars.
Could they just take a small
chunk out of that sum
and send it to me. I don't
want any stinking moon
rocks, nor do I need
anymore photos of the granite
landscape, or the astronauts
hopping around like bunnies
on the surface. How many
more pictures of the earth
from space do we need.
We have them. Who cares.
There has to be hundred
thousand or so lying around
they can spare. Go slower,
save fuel, circle once, not
twice, take two men instead
of three, eat light. Stay
for a night or two, not the
entire week. Oh there
are ways to save, think about
it. We've been there and done
that over and over, but I
only have this one son.
And we could really use
the cash. Thank you, I'll
be waiting for your answer.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Place of One's Own

Slow down, you say,
slow down and relax.
Come here, sit beside
me on the couch, grab
a pillow, put your head
against my lap, close
your eyes and listen
to the wind move the
chimes, the birds sing.
It's that easy, this love,
you whisper to me.
That easy. Let's live
together, it can work.
Let's make a go of it.
But no. I run. I stiffen
at the thought of you
being here when I get
home, of you sleeping
where I sleep. I cringe
at the thought of not
being able to breathe
or think, or move about
the house with ease.
I can't imagine you at
the stove, standing there
making soup. Holding
a spatula, my spatula
in your hand. The
refrigerator full of yogurt
and skim milk, wheat
thins, and brie on the
counter. Or having
your robe on the bath-
room door, your three
shampoos, your seven
face creams, your lotions
and perfume. Nylons
hanging in the way on
the shower rod, cluttering
up my own personal
space. No, let's think
this through, let's talk
about it tomorrow after
breakfast and coffee, after
you leave in the morning.

Iceman

Frozen for so many years
when they find me,
and defrost me,
with my arrows and crude
knife, my tattered leather
sandals. I'm startled to see
what's changed, the lack
of Mastadons, and other
things that bite. The world
is odd, the clothing different,
things are in the air, there
is so much noise, anxiety
and fear. Please put me back
into the ice, but first I need
a sandwich, a cold beer, maybe
a woman, it's not completely
necessary, but it would be nice.

Dinner at Eight

I find a plateful
of remorse
on the table,
a bitter roll,
sour soup,
tasteless love.
Tough meat.
The spice is gone.
It's the meal
we've come to know
in this shell
of a marriage.
Where once
it was a banquet,
a feast, now
it's sparse
and hardly worth
the sit.
But we'll go through
the motions
for another year,
politely pass
whatever each one
needs,
quietly biding
our time
as we chew in
mindful silence.
The knot has been
untied for sometime.
It's just a matter
now of who gets
what and when,
keeping the lawyer
bill down. Honey,
could you please
pass me the salt.
Thank you, dear.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Queen Bee

Her long legs are the first
thing you notice when she
walks into the bar, then her
eyes as yours wander upwards.
She has a gaggle of friends
with her, but they are lesser
lights and are in her wake as
she swims forward like a swan
through the debris of night.
She's the one. You take another
look, as does the entire room,
both up and down the length
of her royal highness, waiting
for the spin while someone
gets her a drink. But she gives
you nothing. She's a statue
in the blue haze. Not a glance,
or nod. She's in another world.
A place you won't be visiting
soon. So sip your beer, smoke
your cigarette, and relax,
this one's not for you.