Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the long distance runner

i've got a lot on my
mind she says, as she
stands in the kitchen
with the ironing board
out, folding laundry,
steam rising from the hot
iron in the bright
overhead light. it
feels like an operating
room. she takes a trembling
sip of green tea from a white
porcelain cup that she
can barely get her fingers
into. she is all bones.
a runner, gaunt with
that runner's face
and limbs, too many
veins showing, hardly
an ounce of fat anywhere
flat and boyish at fifty,
or more. her face is
old beyond it's years.
the sun, and runs in
cold weather have worn
her away like concrete
crumbling on a roman
statue. i've seen her
limp with rounded
shoulders up the hill
towards home in rainstorms,
struggling towards that
invisible finish line.
she offers me some
cranberries that are
dried and in a bowl,
some dry almonds in a
jar too. i can't do it
anymore she tells me,
but speaking to the iron,
the shirt, the bright light
in the room, i'm done,
the x-rays aren't good.
i've never smoked, i watch
what i eat, i've run through
two divorces, through
the lives of three dogs,
i put my kids through college
and still ran. this
is all i have. she doesn't
look up at me standing
in the doorway. her blue
eyes are even bluer
when they are wet, like
now. i don't know
what to tell her, what
to say. i've got nothing.
i reach out to touch
her shoulder, but she pulls
back and keeps ironing the
same white shirt over again
pulling the sleeves taut.
don't she says. i'm fine.
i look at her feet,
the blood is soaked across
the line of her bent toes,
blotted in her white socks.
she allows herself a smile
and looks at me,
a thin crease across her tanned
face. new shoes, she says, i
just bought new shoes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

one more

one more,
one more.
just one,
not for
the road
but for
the long walk
home.
here, take
this and pay
the man.
if you're
coming
with me,
grab your coat,
your hat,
your scarf
and purse.
put on some
chapstick,
lots
of chapstick,
cherry flavored,
please,
you're going
to need it
if i don't
fall asleep
on the couch
before you
get there.

day in day out

swallowed whole
this day, gone,
devoured in a mere
twelve hours. morning
noon and night,
three meals divided
and eaten with
ravenous hunger,
strange delight.
and tomorrow,
more of the same.
it's repetition
is amazing, and
frightening and
borders on insane.

bird boy

there was a time
when he was so small,
barely a life, but
still one, with his
flashing brown
eyes and pink cheeks,
when i could hold him
up with a single
hand and fly him about
the room with his pea
green pajama clad
arms straight out
like the wings of a
smooth and strong
jet liner, which is
what he is now.

cleaning house

i am going
room to room
with a sponge,
a bucket of hot
water, a mop, a duster,
cleanser, windex
and a broom.
i am removing
years of dirt,
dust and debris
from under the bed,
in the closets,
wiping clean
the hand and heart
prints of time
and weather,
where the outside
has gotten in
through the crevices
of windows and
doors. slowly,
but with force
i am scrubbing
the walls, the
ceilings, each
and every floor
i walk on. it's time,
in fact way over
due. and this has
nothing to do with
us, as you well know.

time

i've lost my watch,
again, somewhere it ticks
below a bed, on
a bike path, in the
woods, or in some car,
but not for me.
slowly the second hand
swims around the deep
blue face of time,
with it's shiny glass,
and silver band of stain
less steel, perhaps.
it may go on forever,
keeping the hours and
minutes straight, with
no memory of me, my wrist,
the extension of my arm.
even the days will click
by into months, without my
knowing. i've lost
my watch again, but
strangely or not, i'm
already past it with
this new one.

no title

the ghost
of winter
trails off,
slips quietly
away like life
itself, once
here, now gone,
and little
to remember
it by. under
a new sun
the world
finds a way
to heal itself,
as we do,
or sink slowly
into the darkness
of despair.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the rain

she loves
the rain, cold
or warm, it
doesn't matter.
she just does.
the percussion
of it against
the window,
the sweet ping
upon the roof,
into puddles
on the ground,
it has formed.
she loves it so.
it's a safe
harbor for her,
where nothing
comes and
nothing much,
especially me,
can go.

lost buttons

these eyelids
are heavy, not
with sadness
or sorrow, but
from the fatigue
of the days
and nights running
into one another
without order
or remembrance,
and much of what
has transpired
is best left
unremembered, but
it will come
back in some form,
a receipt, a
charge, a torn
shirt, stained,
with what,
i'm not sure,
or a lost button
that i heard rattle
away, hitting
the floor with that
distinctive button
sound, rolling
beneath a chair,
a table, never,
like these hours,
to be found.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

this home

it's not the place
you want to be, but

here you are. with
your warm blankets,

your books, your thin
new friend gisele,

and your flat t.v.,
and things you value.

the photos, the poems,
the stories you have

written and have left
stacked up like piles

of snow on the floor
of every room.

everything in a spot
you think it needs

to be, you've
counted out the days

behind you, the possible
days ahead, and added

up the money it will
take to keep things

exactly the way they
are. in food and drink,

and comfort, there's
no luck involved here,

perhaps quite the opposite.

sail on

my father, pushing
eighty and beyond, loves
to lie in the sun, lift
weights, dye his full
head of curly hair
blonde and firt with
the bikini girls at
the pool who are sixty
years his junior. but so
what. he's alive with
what's left of the body
he was given.
there's no sense
of regret or guilt, or
of hanging on for dear
life. he quit smoking
at fifty, quit drinking
at sixy and i don't want
to know the rest. there's
not a prayer in him. he's
on cruise control just
as he was at twenty,
making kids, making love,
sailing the high seas
in his navy whites.
his blue eyes shining
across the savage ocean
of time.

kenmore

she glows
in the dark,
against
the white sheets,
her stainless steel
heart without a
fingerprint
on it. she keeps me
and many others
on a dark shelf,
deep and on ice,
with her snug doors
out of reach,
shut tight.
it would be easier
breaking into
fort knox then
it would be getting
a midnight snack
out of her. it's
getting chilly in here
and i'm hungry,
very hungry.

Friday, March 26, 2010

sometimes

the blank page,
the snow white
sheet of paper,
patient and quiet,
without a word
on it, is a most
beautiful thing.
empty and holding
the promise of
a tale not yet
told. every word
written, every poem
or play, book
or script has to
deal with the beauty
and wonder,
and yes, fear
of the blank page.
it's a glorious
thing to have
nothing there
and then have it
magically appear
as if out of thin
sweet air. if only
it was that easy.

no fishing

i can't fish anymore.
ever since the grocery
stores starting selling
fish, putting them on ice
in neat little rows
behind the glass.
i just can't stand on
the side of a river bank,
or on the back of a boat,
named Charlie, or something,
and throw the line out
to reel in a trout, or
sea bass, or marlin, or
whatever fish i can trick
into biting what's on the
end of my line. nah. i'm
done with fishing, and i
guess hunting too. i like
the way the meat is all
packaged and ready for
grilling, red, cleaned,
no skinning the cow
anymore, whew. i'd be
a vegetarian if that wasn't
so. i guess i'm getting
lazy, but no less hungry.

fresh season

a warm spell has
moved in between
us, a high pressure
system of blue skies,
sunny days and low
winds. somehow we
made it through the
winter with our love
in tact. it's time
to sweat now, to
open the window, to
let the sun in, the
cold out. it's a good
season to be in and
out with you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

shades of blue

don't rearrange
your furniture on
account of me,
don't move a chair,
a plate, or pot
of flowers to make
me feel good. no.
i'm just passing
through. i'm going
to another place,
maybe texas, maybe
venice. i need
another point of
view, one that doesn't
include you
and your color palette,
your fabrics, your
cold shade of violet
and heart, your sad
grey soul, so blue.

slow fire

it's a slow
fire,
the soft burn
of wood and twigs,
all that we
have gathered
and placed
into a pile
to stay warm.
that
keeps us going,
keeps
us alive
and gets us
through the night.
your kisses
are like
that too. it's time
for more.

no flowers, please

don't fall
in love
with me,
she whispers,
kissing my neck,
unbuttoning
my shirt like
a surgeon about
to cut into
a live one. who
needs a heart.
just because
of this, don't
call me every
hour of the
day, don't text
me, telling me
about how
much you care
and want us to
be couple. no
flowers, no
chocoate. i
don't say
a word. my mind
is working
in a different
sort of way,
there is no
logic in the
moment. okay,
i tell her.
no problem.

she tells me

"i can't drink
anymore, at least
not like i used to."
she lifts her
beer bottle to her
lips and turns it
up to the ceiling,
closing her eyes
until she gets the
last drop out.
"another?" she asks.
sure, why not, i tell
her it's only tuesday.
the week is young,
and we aren't. she
smiles at that, showing
me her cracked front
tooth. she taps her pack
of cigarettes on the
bar, but there's
no smoking now, and
she keeps looking
towards the door,
to see if the rain has
stopped so that she
can go out into the
night and grab a smoke.
"let's get some calamari,"
she says, "with hot
sauce. want to split
a dish of calamari
with me?" sure, i tell
her, why not and put
the order in with
the bartender."what
did you say your name
was?" she asks me,
sipping her new cold
beer. the foam dribbles
down her chin, which
she wipes off with
the back of her hand.
jimmy, i tell her. "don't
go anywhere jimmy, i
like you. you're cute.
i'll be right back,
hold onto my seat. i
need a smoke."
she slides down off
her barstool and puts
on her pink windbreaker
which has the word PINK
written in darker pink
across the back, and
lifts the hood over
her thin thatch of blonde
hair, she goes out into
the rain. i see her
standing against the wall,
cupping the cigarette in
her hand while she
stamps her feet and
shivers in the alley. i
can't help but wonder
at what the hell has
happened with my life,
and i whisper to the
bartender, asking if
the kitchen has a back door.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

pot holes

my car is a divining
rod for pot holes.
each tire a magnet
for a dark deep ditch
that lies like an open
wound on every road.
the clunk, the bang,
the rattle of car
bones and the strange
clink of something left
behind. the curse.
i am amazed at the words
that come out of my
filthy mouth. it's
almost like a song,
this road trip,
a calypso beat of drums,
but no one is dancing,
no one is happy. no one
but jimmy, the mechanic
at the garage.

Eden

i avoid the windows
in the back of the house,
they're large and old,
wide, made of wood with
sashes and heavy locks.
but it's not the windows
themselves that bother me,
but what lies beyond them,
my yard. mother nature
and her siblings, cousins,
and eccentric friends
have gone wild with it.
things are growing that
were never planted, and
what was there have
twisted and turned upon
one another. it has taken
on a jungle feel, all
green, and yellow, some
flowers, from somewhere,
rising up to bloom whenever
they feel like it. even
the birds won't fly in
to bathe in the bird
bath that stands in the
center of it all. they are
fearful of what they see.
i don't have a clue as to
what to do. i'm hoping
to find someone soon though,
that does. yesterday i
saw a racoon trying to
get in, so there must
be some fruit or vegetables
growing out there too.
and snakes. i can't go
out there with snakes.

a new deck

deal from
the new deck,
don't draw me
five from
that tattered
and torn handful
of old cards
we've played
with before,
a thousand times
over. i want
to hear and see
the fresh
snap of a new
pack, vegas style.
slap em down
hard, throw me
a full house,
four of a kind,
let me see some
aces, some kings,
a pair of queens.
i'm ready for
a winning hand, i'm
way overdue.
shuffle and cut,
deal em. i've
got alot riding
on this.

Monday, March 22, 2010

a summer treat

the way
you lick
that cold scoop
of icecream,
on this
sweltering
summer's day,
your tongue
gently easing
across the sweet
chilled curve
of melting sugar
and cream,
a smile on
your face,
and the way
you hold
the wafer cone
in the palm
of your tanned
tight hand,
reminds me of why
i still like
you and don't
mind that you
are as crazy
in a good way,
as the summer
day is long.

i call out

your name, but
i've lost you
in the dark,
on this road
we've taken
through the black
forest that not
even stars can
get through.
there is no light
to go by, no
fire, no lamps,
just the sound
of our bare
feet on the rough
terrain we've
chosen. i've lost
you. i call out
your name again in
the shallow waters
of dream, in
the thick brush
of night. but
you are gone.
you are out, and
beyond the clearing
without even a
whisper or a wave,
your feet have
hit the highway
and left me to
wander on my own.
just as you
had found me.

Moe

the last dog
beat me down
with his barking,
at the television,
the door, a fly
circling the room.
he spent his life
with his incessant,
and indiscriminate
chewing of everything
not his. sometimes
he would have the torn
half of a twenty
dollar bill hanging
from his mouth, or
a pair of someone's
underwear, sometimes
a shoe strap, or
a pair of sunglases
that he found on
the dining room table.
he couldn't drink
milk, it might
as well of been
tequila and he would
be bent over the rug
tossing his cookies,
trying to shake the
cobwebs out of his
little daschund mind.
wild and crazy moe,
yeah, i miss him.

the apology

i only have a minute,
so speak quickly
into the phone. clearly.
state your case, ask
me anything, well,
almost anything, some
things as you know
remain off limits, but
give it a shot, i
have a minute, and the
clock is ticking. please,
start talking, now
would be good, time
is slipping, it's your
last chance, ten, nine,
eight...etc. okay,
i'll give you another
minute, but this is
your last chance to say
what you need to say.
i don't have all day
to play this game
with you. i can hear
you breathing on the
other end, i can hear
you. why did you call
if you don't want to talk,
what's the point of
this. okay, okay, you
win. i love you, is
that what you want to
hear. i love you.
okay, i really have
to go now. let's talk
again tomorrow. okay?
i'm sorry too, but
really, i must hang up.
are you there?

the window

i see you lean
on the sill
outside your window
as i walk up
the street in my
new shoes, a bundle
of fresh cut
flowers in hand,
a bottle of pinot
noir in the other.
you are wearing
white, and your long
hair is in the
breeze, the sun
is on your face.
i'm not the only
one who sees you,
and wishes to be
with you, and
feel the touch
of your lips,
but at least for
now, for this
moment, the window
is open just for me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

spring

the pollen
is thick,
and yellow,
a warm
silk blanket
upon the cars
and road,
the surface
of just about
everything.
you can't help
but sneeze.
it's so deep,
you could write
your name in
it if you
weren't so busy
with your own
complex world
of birds
and bees.

the sunday call

i gave my mother
the sunday call
today, being sunday
after all, it's what
a good son does,
although i hardly
put myself into
such a category.
my questions are
often steeped in
selfish motive,
digging for some
truth, something
beyond the weather,
or the game, or
her garden, or work.
i can't help but
put her in a corner
for something, i want
her to put her fists
up and fight, to
show me a spark
of life i used to
know in her so
long ago.

white nurse shoes

i've developed
a fever
for you, i am
infected with your
smile, your
point of view
with it's jagged
edges and bright
lit wit, owned
by so few.
i am in
the infirmary
of love, or lust
or let's just
call it what it
is, infatuation
to the nth
degree. my
thermometer
has burst it's
bubble and there
is mercury
everywhere it
shouldn't be.
i need a cold
compress, an
x-ray of you,
i need to see
your papers, your
ID, or perhaps
your long legs
in a pair of
white nurse
shoes.

swan dive

we spring from
the board,
but it isn't
always a swan
dive, or a
brilliant flip,
or jack knife,
or a one and
a half or two
piroutte
of body slicing
into the deep blue
pool of day.
sometimes it's
just a hard splash,
a tumble or fall
onto the water
and a slow silent
swim to the side
and climb up
the ladder to
try it all again
the next day
and the next
and the next.

Friday, March 19, 2010

i like

the sublime
irony
of the penny,
it's nearly
worthless
value, a
thin coin
of copper
holding the
image of
dear saint
abe.

notes to myself

the numbers,
and there are
many, are written
onto napkins
and receipts,
torn envelopes.
they get scribbled
in haste while a
phone is pressed
between shoulder
and ear, the blog
sites, web sites,
the e mail
addresses, phone
numbers. places,
assorted souls
you've met or
may meet along
the way, but
already they have
become vague
within an hour.
is that an eight
or a six, the letter
z or perhaps,
who knows.
like confetti
they fall down
around you,
thin sheets
of dry, melting
snow, out of
pockets, from hand
or purse, wallets,
from the pages
of books you may
never read, to
the floor, from
the clouds of your
soft memory.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

red white and very blue

it's not my alligator shoes
that makes me proud, nor my
shark skin suit, or snake
skin belt and elephant tusk
buckle. no. i love all animals.
God put them here for three
reasons, to eat, to wear,
to ride them from one place
or another. where would we
be without the burger,
without the omelette, the
baby back ribs, or virginia
trout? we'd be pale, and weak,
from eating vegetables all
day, everyday. we'd still
be british citizens, never
having the strength and
courage from the protein
in red meat to send them
on their way. God gave
America enough cattle to
keep us fighting not only
our own wars, but other
people's wars until the end
of time. start the grill.
i'm hungry. there's a world
out there that needs us.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

newly weds

the newly weds
have photos
everywhere.
the wedding,
the party,
the reception,
the trip
to bermuda,
the honeymoon.
some are framed
and some are still
out on the table,
being sorted
through.
proof of love.
and the joy
of the day they
shared. they are
fit and healthy,
the smiles are
white and broad,
the wet gleam
of the hour
is in their
youthful eyes.
you can smell
the hope,
the tomorrow's
lining up.
there is not
a single dark
cloud over
their new roof.
and i like it
this way. i want
their love
to be preserved,
safe and fresh,
crisp and clean
underglass,
like a wedding cake
yet to be cut
deeply with
a sharp
gleaming knife.

a wrinkle in time

she reads
to the children
in a soft gentle
voice, a mother's
voice that almost
puts them to sleep,
with their heads on
their folded arms,
upon the hard
desks with the books
tucked away,
but the story
is too good
for them to doze
off, too well written.
the lights are down
and the windows
are open just enough
to let april in.
quietly, so that
they will listen,
she reads and reads,
never looking up
from the book,
the dog eared pages
that she turns with
a ringless hand. she
imagines her own child
one day. she dreams of
being in love, but
she keeps reading, and
she knows that these
moments will not be
forgotten by these
children, and especially
not by me.

doubt

she doesn't believe
in God, not exactly,
and asks the usual
questions about where,
and why, and how could
he allow children to
perish, or anyone to
suffer in a painful way.
what morality is there
in that, especially from
God. i shrug, i take
a sip of my coffee and
stare out the window at
the immense bay,
the bruised blue water,
holding the dark sky,
jagged with white breaking
waves. the sailboats
are racing home.
i don't know, i tell her,
but i do believe.
i believe it all.
i know that the water
will be calm again, but
i have my doubts too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

one morning

i woke up to the sound of her
voice saying, clearly, you don't
know me, she said. you don't have
a clue as to who i am. she was
in the white terry cloth robe
that i gave her for christmas six
years ago. it was torn and grey
now, there wasn't enough bleach
in the world to make it white
again. apparently she had been
talking for sometime, but i missed
most of it because i was still
asleep. are you going to lie
there in bed all day, it's
eleven o'clock. who's going to
cut the grass and take the dog
to the vet to see what that
rash is. you need to pull
your car out of the driveway now
so that i can go shopping and
get little jimmy to his game.
she had opened the curtains,
and raised the blinds so that
the sun poured in like
radiation. i put my hand
up to my forehead to block
the light. what, i said. it's
saturday. what's the rush?
how many drinks did you have
last night, she said. four,
five martinis, and i saw you
talking to sally perkins, i saw
you touch her arm and wink at
her. don't think i don't know
what you're up to pal. you two
were pretty cozy in that kitchen,
weren't you? her hands were on
her hips, but i couldn't really
see her on account of the sunlight
streaming in. she was more
of a dark silhouette, her head
bobbed and i could see her
stance stiffen like a general
overseeing a battlefield of
dead soldiers, if i ever catch
you with that sally i'll take
you for every penny you have,
which isn't much. do you hear me?
i shook my head to get the cobwebs
out. my mouth was dry and i felt
like i couldn't get my lips
to part, as if they were stuck
together. she was finally
getting to the point of why
she was mad, why she wanted
me up. pfffft. sally. as if.
i mumbled. what, what did you say?
okay. i said, in mild surrender.
i'm up. i just need to take
a shower. she turned her
back and went down the hall.
five minutes, i heard her
yell. you've got five minutes.
i stood up and looked out the
window as i pulled the blinds
back down to give the room
a break, i could see sally
out in her yard, digging weeds
in her white capri pants,
and tight blouse knotted in
the front, she had her
hair pulled back into a pony
tail like a teenager. whew.
she looked up and over her
shoulder, with a hand full
of weeds and saw me standing
there in my underwear, she gave
me a wave and a big smile,
and with my fingers only i
gave her a nice friendly
wave in return.

no exit

as i sit in traffic,
coffee in it's holder,
the steam once rising,
is long gone by now,
a thin newspaper full
of old news, unread,
but unfolded on the seat
beside me, i am inching
further up the road
with others, heading
towards a place where
money can be made, where
my life can be extended,
such as it is, you need
to feed the furnace
of existence, but the
slow crawl is slower
than ever, and you can
see the grey, long faces
already, at 8 a.m.
pushing at buttons to
change the station
on their radios, craning
their necks to see a
break, something, talking
on their phones,
smoking, tapping the
wheel, cursing. it's
more like slow dying,
not living, at this pace.

the purse

i remember this girl
from years ago, when
i lived in a three
story walk up in
the bronx. emily
was her name. she lived
across the east river
in queens wtih three
other women. but the
things was, that
she left her purse
on the floor. who leaves
a purse? who walks out
the door with keys in
hand, shoes and clothes
on just as she had when
she arrived, but no
purse, and to a woman
her purse is everything.
a woman could survive
an earthquake or a flood
with what lies deep
within that bag. food,
clothing, knives and
forks, mints, a toothbrush,
an extra pair of glasses,
a nail file, a whistle,
makeup, pills, a notepad
with everything on it.
so much, and yet she
left it. so i wrapped
it and took it to the
post office and sent it
back to her. i couldn't
date a woman who leaves
her purse. i just couldn't
and probably still can't.
it doesn't seem right.

i believe that

every girl wants
a pony. every boy
a truck, every man
a woman, and every
woman a diamond,
a fur coat, a bank
account, a beach
house, a country
estate, a farm,
a silver setting,
pearls, art, a
masseuse, perfume,
a black jaguar,
room service, a maid,
oh, and one more thing.
a healthy man on call.
with a little bell
to retrieve or dismiss
him as she so desires.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

the bread line

the angry line grows
long. it's like soviet
russia. it's windy,
it's cold and there
is potato vodka tucked
in everyone's pocket.
they want so much,
they have needs
and desires. they want
the poster, the happy
vacation family
boasting tans
and health. they have
believed in the plan,
but there is no
sunshine, or banquets
to be found, not
really. just handouts,
mere morsels of affection.
it's all i can do
for the moment.

the last page first

let's not kiss,
not go there. let's
keep it on page one.
the exploratory
stage of plot and theme,
of character development.
let's find out what
season it is, the hour
of the day, or night
that we find ourselves
in. let's discover what
the conflict is and the
slow rise and fall of
denouement. no let's not
kiss, just yet, let's
turn the page and let
the story unfold in
it's own good time, just
as it should. although
there is a part of me,
i must confess,
that wants to read
the last page first.

Friday, March 12, 2010

death of a friend

she is a shadow,
a lean piece
of wind lying still
on white sheets.
she is less
of who she was,
but her memory
stings like a wet
hand on a cut wire.
i am awakened
without her
being near.
her voice
in a vague whisper
calling me to come
closer. to take
her lifeless
hand and rise
up, as she did
into a bright
unknown.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

charge it

it's the plastic card,
that thin slice of credit
that so easily appears
when something you want,
not necessarily need,
whispers buy me,
buy me now, into your ear.
and it's hard to resist.
you walk away, but circle
back, like a lion around
it's wounded prey, you touch
the fabric, the leather
shoe, the coat that
than seems perfect, the color
being so you. so you give
in. it's just one thing,
and you deserve it, you need
it, you can't live without
it. why not, life is so short
as it is. oh, just charge
it. he'll never see the bill.

assorted fruits

there is a shine
on the gala apples,
the red delicious too,
catching the sunshine
of flourescent lights,
and so many others, like
fuji, or a rome beauty,
too many really
to mention, but they
have the smile of
someone's hand polishing
them before purchase,
and the plums are lined
up just right, the
way they sit with their
soft weight just so.
patient like old people
at the park, on a hard
bench with no where else
to go. the green grapes,
the quiet reds, purple, and
dark blue are bagged, not to
be trusted, to be left
out alone with the others.
so easy to fall and roll
alone across the floor,
stranded. the bananas
are wildly yellow,
broken off into odd
bunches, part green,
some already turning the
brown that promises that
they won't be bought. i feel
bad for them, so many of
them as i pass by with my
empty rattling cart.
i can see that
day coming way too soon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the ink pen

i remember dipping a pen
into an inkwell. i liked
the color of that blue,
almost black, but most
certainly a blue, like
the deepest part of
the atlantic ocean, or
the sky when there is no
moon. i liked the scratch
of that pointed pen, full
and heavy with fresh ink,
on real paper, paper with
weight, paper that could
take the pressing fist
of a small child as he
tried his hand at cursive.
making the new found loops
and breaks, trying
to find the right words,
as the pen leaked
and stained his palm, his
fingers, with ink that
would be his blood,
and never wash out.

3 a.m..

i don't want the phone
to ring at three a.m.,
it's a bad hour and can
only mean that something
horrible has gone wrong.
no one ever calls to say
they are in love at that
hour, or to tell you that
they found a good deal
on a pot roast or a dress
from sak's. no, it's never
hello, i missed you, or
marry me, or i found us
a house on the beach, and
i've won the lottery. it's
more like please come
down to the police station,
we'll explain when you
get here, hurry, bring
a credit card or a check
book and an overnight change
of clothes.

magic

it's easy magic,
to watch him, with
cards in hand,
or silk flowers
unraveling from
a black sleeve,
and birds suddenly
appearing in one
palm, and fire in
the other. it's
easy to sit and
stare and wonder
at this small
delight of slight
of hand, but not
nearly as mesmerizing
as it is to sit
and watch you,
don't disappear.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

central park

i took the long
way, cutting through
central park, it was
early fall, and the
leaves had turned to
fire. i could feel
the new cold of winter
in my lungs, bright
with the pain of my
run, and of you, what we
had become, the summer
romance turned so soon,
and what little there
was left to say, or
show, or even kiss.
all of this, like leaves
had fallen, shaken from
the dark thin branches
of the park, where we
had met in the bloom
of promise and sun.
there was no need to
hurry, and yet i did.

Monday, March 8, 2010

green men

there was one night
when an amazing ball
of green light
streaked across
the summer sky, still blue,
lit with sunlight, as
it fell off in the
distance. and my friend
ernie ran into the
house to call the
pentagon, the police,
the authorities, thinking
that finally they had
arrived. green men
in a green lit craft
about to land and change
everything as we knew it.
the rest of us kept
playing ball, we didn't
care, the score was tied,
it was getting dark
and soon we'd be called
in. we had to finish
the game, but not ernie.
he had other things on
his mind. god bless him
wherever he has landed.

the horse

you put the gun down,
remove the bullets,
your horse is tied up
outside in a cold sweat.
the sun is flat
and hot on the horizon,
melted onto the mountain
range. this is where
you've landed. in a two
bit hotel, with the clothes
on your back, your boots,
your dust lined hat.
it doesn't matter that
they'll find you here
asleep in your room
with no way out,
you can't keep running,
it wouldn't be fair for
anyone, especially your
horse. you love that horse.

there is

nothing on the menu
that appeals to me.
i've lost interest
in food, in you,
in the fruits that
i used savor when
in season, like your
lips, juiced and open,
ready for whatever
knife i might provide,
or teeth. i can't
eat a thing right now.
nothing on my plate
appeals to me,
no meat, no bread,
there's not an egg,
or slice of cake
that my appetite craves,
i see the weight fall
off my frame, i am
bones, i am slender
again, like i was in
my youth, when i was
without love and starving,
i don't know how
much longer i can go
on like this, on this
foodless binge, on this
island without you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

dry

sometimes the well
is dry, the spring
that runs deep
within the ground
is cut off and rain
hasn't fallen in weeks.
but you drop the bucket
down just the same
to hear it hit dead
bottom, hoping for that
splash, but there
is none, just the empty
echo of a dark cauldron
without water or light.
this doesn't stop you
though, you pick up the
pen and begin to write.

dinner

she brings me
a steaming hot dish
of pasta and red
sauce, the ribbons
of heat rising to
the ceiling, with meat,
sausage, as spicy
as the look that
sparkles in her
brown eyes. she opens
the wine and puts
the bread, soaked
in garlic and butter
onto the table,
she lights a candle
or two, she touches
your hand and lets
her knee find yours
beneath the table.
this is how you find
love. it's this simple,
or so you'd like
to believe.

making contact

is good, but foul
after foul ball
decides nothing.
it's the swing
and miss that
warrants sighs
and small nods
of oh, he's out.
and the game
ends on a
whimper, as
the patrons
rise and stretch,
to file out
towards the cars
and the lines,
the traffic,
onto the freeway
which will lead
them home to
greater
swings and
misses, but
on occasion a
day will strike
a bat and over
a fence your
life will go, but
in quiet,
and to very
light applause.

love at first sight

i met melinda at a club in
the nineteen eighties,
in prince georges county,
over the wilson bridge,
right off of branch
avenue, near the drive-in.
she was a star jello
wrestler in a country
western bar with sawdust
on the floor and a juke
box in the corner. most
everyone had a knife or
gun, or something to use
as a weapon in case a brawl
broke out, which it
normally did every weekend
night. but melinda,
the girl i fell in love
with, was wrestling
in a baby pool full of jello,
under the soft blue lights,
while the band played 'lying
eyes', by the eagles.
she was wearing a shredded
black bikini that was
almost off, and the red
jello was in her hair,
in her eyes, in the crevices
of her curvaceous body.
it was hard to tell who
was winning or losing,
as the crowd cheered
back and forth, but it
didn't matter. the band
played loudly and badly
as the two young women
slipped in and out of the
pool, pulling each other's
hair and bathing suits.
finally melinda was caught
in a headlock, and our eyes
met as she gasped for air
and her eyes bulged,
i knew at moment, as we
stared at one another,
that she was the one for me,
and as she recalled later
when we went back to my
trailer to clean the jello
off of her, that she
felt the same way too.

a summer dress

little slips by me,
even at this age of
ninety-two. i have my
wits and wisdom
and cane to rely on,
to defend and offend
those that need to be
dealt with. my body
is my prison. it reeks
with old age, the bones
crumbling below the
sagging skin now a
horror of splotches
and sun driven ravines.
ah, but i still like to
see a woman in a dress,
as she strolls down
the sidewalk on the
first day of summer,
of course she doesn't
pay me any mind, or
even steal a glance,
those days are far
gone, and if she does
notice me, it's out of
pity, like seeing
a dog stuck on the median
of a four lane highway,
stranded with no way
out, no hope of survival,
but i bark just the same.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

i remember

that there was a point
when she had become
an undeveloped country,
wreaked with natural
disasters, crushed by
unseen or unforecasted
catasrophes, swamped
in a sea of debt by
careless handling of
her resources, and
spending sprees at
nordstroms, she was
living on the fumes
of soon to end alimony
and child support,
completely bone dry
of her half of equities
and a meager torn
asunder stock portfolio.
she applied for permanent
victim status to the united
nations and got it.
she wore black and
rubbed ashes onto her
face as she carried
the weight of her sorrow
on her back. her flag was
set half mast in surrender,
until the troops
surprisingly arrived
and now she's back on top
and won't even take my calls.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

mexico

this love thing
has taken a turn
for the worse.
she has run out
of pills to keep
her calm, and she's
getting on my last
and final nerve.
i should have never
told her that i
loved her, and wanted
to marry her, but
i was in an amorous
mood, she was a good
dancer, and the martinis
made me careless.
i don't know how
her name got tattoed
on my arm, or when
we ordered room
service. but she's
still asleep, and she
looks so different in
the daylight. if i can
get this ring off
with enough spit,
maybe i can slip out
the door and down
the back steps to
freedom, catch a cab
and get the hell out
of mexico.

travel tips

she tells me
over the phone
that she is leaving
for cairo in a week.
in two weeks
she'll be on
a camel in the desert
with the hot sun
beating on her
pale skin. i have no
advice for her
except bring water,
sun screen, a camera,
a map, perhaps,
and sunglasses.
that's it. i don't
even know what she
could possibly bring
back for me, so i
don't even ask.
maybe a magazine
from the plane.

venus

i've fallen in love
with venus. it's distance
and light on the low
sky. i'd like to imagine
that she is waiting,
this silver drop of light,
behind the sheer curtains
that catches a spring
breeze that lifts your
spirits into another year.
i've have no need for
the other planets, not
even this one. i'm done
with this one. it's all
about venus at this point.
i'll find a way, don't worry,
just wait, i'm coming.

date night

it's the chase
the hunt, that gets
the blood going,
seeing the big
cat through the trees
in the jungle, black,
and slick as night.
his green eyes
flashing, as his
muscled haunches
rise, poised for strike.
there is nothing
you can do at this point,
but give in, and let
him have his way.
pick you up at eight?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

changes

all
the trees
have worried
off
their leaves
and left
them
like tears
upon
the cold, hard
ground.
perhaps
we need
a new season
too.

voice mail

so i saved the message
on the voice mail.
her voice, clean and clear.
it wasn't what she said,
but the sound, the rythmn
of her, captured. and
sometimes, late at night
when i no longer can
remember exactly what
she looked like, or the
smell of her perfume, i'll
dial up the message
and lay back down upon
the bed, with the phone
to my ear, and listen.
sometimes i can even fool
myself into thinking that
it's almost enough.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

lifting weights

each year, no, let
me rephrase that, each
month, i see the
difference, the casual
slide of self, the slow
and easy crawl towards
the other side, the big
and endless side, so
unknown, despite what
you may hear each sunday
from the pulpit. you may
actually have to get
there, to truly know.
but you feel it in
your bones, your legs,
when you go up the stairs,
or lift the weights
that sit upon the bench
in the cellar. the mirror
holds you in the moment,
and let's you know on
a daily basis what's
coming and you can't stop
what's coming. instead
of thirty reps, you do
twenty, that's enough.

Monday, March 1, 2010

art

it's relentless
this vine that
grows beauty along
the side of brick,
from the ground up,
it's fingers becoming
thick arms, running
everywhere at once,
gripping the mortar,
weakening all that
we stand for.
spreading it's notion
of life and art,
it will bring the
building down if
it's not stopped. we
must declare war
on it, cut it off
at the roots, it's
them or us.

a reason to leave

i'm nearly asleep
beside you, as we
listen to the rain,
and the radio on low.
you are reading from
a book you stole
from the public
library, a poem by
mark strand, called
pot roast, and it's
about the memory of
meat, the memory
of youth, and i love
that poem, and wish
you hadn't stolen
it, because now
i have to leave
and i'll never again
think of that poem,
or you, in the same way.

St. Elizabeth's

so many trees
are leaning
sideways from
the heavy snows,
their roots are
pulled out of the
ground and they
lean towards
the roads,
or into the cold
streams that are
full and blue
and holding
the open sky,
the power saws
are coming
to take them down,
to sever the broken
branches, the men
in white coats,
are there to lift
and push them
upright, if that's
possible, to get
them through
another winter,
another year of life,
to give them
reason to go on.