Monday, May 31, 2010

crumb cake

your refusal to bake
me a cake is disheartening
to say the least.
how many more letters
must i send, how many
more e mails and texts,
and voice mails must
i leave for you to
understand my needs, my
desires. my life is
nothing if not about
cake. but you're falling
way short in this
department of pleasing
me. i fell in love with you
because you were a
baker, and off you go
to work every morning,
and late nights, baking
rolls and muffins, pies
and bread, coming home with
the sweet smell of flour
and salt, eggs and sugar
in your hair, but never,
not once do you bring me cake.
when i drink my coffee
in the morning, and my
hand is empty, it's a
reflection of us, of you.

the end

i don't quite
understand the word
retirement. it's
a strange concept
at any age, especially
this one. are there
enough eggs saved.
enough gas in the
tank to get you to
the checkered flag,
probably not, and
where in florida
would you like to
prop your feet up
and nap the day away
with old people you
don't know. i want
to be around the ones
i do know, and when
they're gone, well,
that's enough.
retirement, i don't
think so, i'd rather
let the candle melt
all the way to the
bottom, every drop
burned and melted,
shedding light in
this strange dark
room until the end.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

happy birthday

when i turned a hundred
years old the newsman
and his crew came down
to interview me. someone
baked me a cake with
a hundred candles and asked
me to blow them out,
bite me, i said into
the camera, putting my
teeth back in for a slice
of cake, are you trying
to kill me, i don't even
blow my nose anymore. all
of which got edited out
for the six o'clock news,
but it's on you tube if you
care to see it. others
brought me gifts, things i
didn't need, i pretty
much have everything
at this point. i don't
need another watch right now.
i know what time it is,
and it's the end. they asked
me if i had any secrets
to my longevity. i told
them, drinking, smoking,
staying up late,
pulled pork sandwiches
and sex. lots of wild
monkey sex, which made them
all laugh, but it was true.
i did what made me happy, to
hell with all of them.
i showed them my scars
from the world war two
where some nazi shoved
a bayonet into my gut
in the black forest.
i showed them how i could
still open beer bottles
with my teeth and crush
a can with my forehead.
they all liked that and
laughed and shook my hand
gently as if i might crumble
like a cookie in milk.
bastards. i'll outlive
them all. they asked me
what i thought the biggest
thing in my life was,
airplanes, the moon landing,
computers, television, perhaps
the cure for polio, but i
said no, none of that. what
then, they asked, what were
you most amazed by and excited
about in your lifetime.
nylons, i said. the first
time i saw my girlfriend sheila
in a pair of sheer black
nylon stockings and high
heels, well that
was big. not much else
really mattered from that point
on. that was it for me.

have a nice day

if you don't
read the news
there is no news.
it's all good.
so i stopped
the paper, cancelled
my subscription
to newsweek and time,
turned off
the television,
ignored the internet
and stayed away
from the windows.
i don't even answer
the door anymore.
so far so good.
it's been a nice day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

wonder bread

she told me over
coffee that she saw
her life long therapist
the other day in
the park. in his long
black coat and top
hat. he was walking
in a slow wide circle
with pigeons crowded
around him as he
dropped small pieces
of white bread for
them to eat. more
and more flocked
around his black polished
boots as he dropped these
tid bits of food
from his educated
fingers and the pigeons
cooed, they fluttered
their dark wings,
they let him get closer,
trusting him a little
bit more with each
morsel of bread,
but not too close,
there was only so
far both he and them
could go with this
process, and at some
point they'd be on
their own, for better
or worse, and they'd
have to fly away and
bake their own bread.

bad boy

she sends me a one
line e mail in response
to my dating ad. she
says, and i quote.
i'd like to spank you.
that's all. her photo
shows her standing
next to an american flag,
a large polished walnut
desk, and she's wearing
a dark blue dress with
another flag pinned
to her lapel. she's
not unattractive, but
rather owl like and
too happy with her smile.
her arms are folded
tightly over her chest.
i get the feeling that
she interviews well
and loves her job, her
position of authority.
i stare at her e mail
and ponder my response.
should i delete, and
ignore her request to
spank me and move on.
or not. so i write
back and say why, why
do you want to spank me.
have i been a bad boy.

the doctor will see you now

i never enjoyed
my life as a surgeon.
taking things out
that had gone bad
was fine, depressing
and frightening for
the patient, but
fine, i was helping,
relieving them of pain
and possible death,
but it wasn't enough.
i wasn't fulfilled.
and then things changed
and more people wanted
things put in to
improve their lives,
to enhance their
appearance. cheek bones,
fat lips, new curves
like crescent moons
to their rear ends,
breasts, and this was
where the money was. it
was an easy procedure,
for the most part,
and it made women
happy, it made
their husbands happy,
it made men and boys
alike happy when these
women walked down
the street throwing
shadows were there
once was none. i was
now in the business
of happiness, not
sadness, and life
was suddenly very good.

Friday, May 28, 2010

sleep walking

i leave the house
in the middle of
the night, i get
dressed, i take
nothing with me,
no keys, no phone,
no hat or coat,
no shoes, just pants
and a shirt. i am
still asleep, but
i feel i need a
walk in the cool
night air. i feel
that i need to get
things done. i go
and don't return
for eight hours,
i find things to
do, i blend into
the shadows, i
disappear in the
lights of cars
going by, i make
small talk and
pretend that i am
busy. i am
nowhere and i am
sound alseep, it
is not unlike what
i do every day,
except that i
stop for coffee.

hopping off

the scale, i
decide that
i want to eat
more fruit, but
i can't. i prefer
cake. the donut,
the scoop of mint
chip icecream.
the melon or
berry just isn't
working for me.
my taste buds
have been to the
other side of
the grocery store
and they refuse
to go back. so i
waddle past the
apples, the pears,
those fine ripe
peaches and grapes
and put my head
into the cold
clouded shelves
of haagen daz
and find comfort.
and then there
are the wet walnuts,
in their tiny jars,
and the chocolate
sauce and cherries
sticky in some
wonderful cherry
goo. and whipped
cream, of course.
as an after thought,
i settle on
bananas as my fruit
of choice today.

the lost button

i lost a button
on my shirt
the other day.
my favorite blue
dress shirt.
a single pearl white
button in the
middle disappeared
without a trace,
i never even heard
it hit the floor,
if it did. but
i could feel
the breeze find
a way in, against
my skin. the cold
air making me
realize how easy
and quickly, and
without notice things
can fall apart, not
unlike what has
happened between
me and you.

O.C.

there was a time
when route fifty
ran two lanes
in each direction
from the city to
the shore, through
cambridge and kent,
through salisbury,
annapolis. and there
were stops along
the way for pancakes,
or frozen custard,
or bathroom breaks,
the radio up,
the windows down
and the trunk stuffed
with chairs and
clothes, and towels.
you could taste the
salt air long before
you could see
the ocean, the small
town of ocean city,
with it's old boardwalk
full of characters and
bums, families, and
teenagers on the look
out for summer romance.
the food was greasy
and salty, hot and
cheap, the carnivals
ran all night, and
the pinball machines
clanged their bells
in the breezy air.
it was before the
highrises overshadowed
the sand, before
the chain stores came
in. it was all before
we grew up and we could
find a room for twenty
dollars right on
the beach, facing
the ocean, the windows
open and life about
to start.

when she comes

it is a keyless
entry, silent,
and through the
back door, up
the stairs on
soft feet, with
shoes removed.
in the dead of
night she comes
and plants her
self beside me.
but the bed,
doesn't move,
no sheets are
turned down, no
bedspread ruffled.
there is no
imprint of her
head upon
the pillow.
although
at times i swear
i can smell the
sweet scent of
her perfume.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the ghost dog

the ghost dog
is under my feet.
he's barking,
he's into the
trash, chewing
shoes and rubbing
his wet nose
on the window,
growling at squirrels
and the lady next
door sweeping her
walkway. the ghost
dog is in bed,
diagonally, leaving
me no room, the
weight of him has
doubled the second
he fell asleep.
he's unwalkable,
the ghost dog,
like walking a fish,
a trout caught on
the line, in water,
he goes everywhere
but where you want
him to go. the ghost
dog is on his back,
with his tongue
out his brown eyes
sharp and young,
flashing bright
in the morning light,
awaiting my scratch
upon this smooth belly.

catholic girls

she never missed church.
not a holy day would go
by without her attending.
i'd see her standing out
in front, with her sunglasses
on, smoking the last
of a cigarette before
crushing it beneath her
white high heels. sometimes
she'd still be woozy from
the drinks and late
night activities that
got her in at four a.m.,
but she'd never miss mass,
or communion, or confession.
despite what she did
the night before.
she was determined to be
good no matter how bad
she was. and i admired her
for this and i couldn't
wait to see her again
the next saturday night,
washed clean and forgiven
and ready to start all over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

it's all fiction

i tell her. there
is not a word of
truth in any of
this that you read.
it's all a mirage
a figment of my
skewed imagination.
lack of sleep,
raised by wolves,
underfed, under
nourished and
deprived of love,
okay, sex too. but
none of it is true.
it's not the world
i live in, walk
through on a daily
basis. i'm inventing
all of it, of course
unless it has
somethng to do with
us and then you
might discover a clue.

the landlord

my landlord
won't fix
the plumbing.
there is no
hot water, at
least hardly
enough to sit
and soak in his
rusty tub. there
are bugs too,
and i've found
mice chewing
on the phone
wires, getting
into the
cupboards.
my landlord
says that he
needs to raise
the rent if he
fixes the leaky
roof and paints
the stairwell
where the kids
have written
graffiti and
drawn crude
pictures of
men and women
having sex.
there is absolutely
no proportion,
or perspective in
the art. i
can hardly have
anyone over
for dinner with
that in the hallway.
my landlord
tells me that
i'm lucky to have
a place to sleep,
a place to live
in this city. he
says that i should
be thanking him
for all that he
does for me. he
laughs as he takes
this month's rent
out of my hands.
what are you writing,
he asks, pointing
at my desk.
keep the noise
down with that thing,
he tells me
as he leaves the
apartment, people
are complaining
about you. i shut
the door and go
to my typewriter.
it's my only form
of revenge. you'll
see i whisper
you'll see, and i
begin to type.

us

she says, i've come
a long ways, a long
ways in understanding
who i am. no, i tell
her, you haven't, and
if anything you've rolled
backwards on a few important
issues. such as. she says,
sipping her martini. us.
i tell her. you have no
sense of who we are
together. we aren't
together, she says. i
know that for a fact.
ridiculous, i tell her,
we'll always be together.
that's the nature of us,
and pain is the foreplay
of poetry. you got that
right, buddy, she says,
and if we stay together
your well won't be dry
for a very long time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

girl from iowa

she was from iowa,
somewhere. i don't even
remember her name anymore,
but i imagined
her driving
on a dirt road
that was carved out
between endless fields
of wheat and corn,
perhaps on her father's
tractor, in a cloud
of dry yellow dust,
dropping her
off at the interstate
with a small polka dotted
black and white suitcase
full of t-shirts and more
cut off shorts and jeans,
where she would catch
a greyhound bus that would
take her to the train,
that would go to the
airport and from there
to north carolina where
she would borrow her
sister's 69 firebird
that burned a quart of oil
every hundred miles
to drive to meet me
at nag's head, where i
was borrowing a friend's
beach house on the bay
side for the weekend.
she liked to make a grid
of ketchup on her egg
omelette and talked
really loud as if she
was deaf or thought
perhaps that you were.
she had been in a motor
cycle accident years
ago that left her
with long worm like
scars imbedded in
her arms and legs
where the bones broke.
they looked like shark
bites. she didn't try
to hide them and said
that it was just a one
time ride around
the block with her high
school friend ernie.
he went too fast trying
to impress her and skidded
out sending them both
flying into the street
against the curb and
a fire hydrant. she made
it through, but ernie
didn't. for months the
town put flowers out next
to the hydrant where he
smashed his head. she told
me all of this while tapping
the end of the ketchup
bottle to get the lines
just right, straight across
and down in a quilted
pattern on her plate
of eggs. not unlike the
aerial view of farms
in iowa.

to the moon alice

after sex and she
goes into the bathroom
for an hour to do
God knows what, she
comes back when i'm
a second from slipping
into dreamland
and says move over
i'm getting in,
why are you hogging the
whole bed, and the good
pillows, turn of that
light, and what's with
all the clocks
blinking red and green,
it's christmas in here,
how can you possibly
sleep like this, with
that fan going, the window
open, the blankets, so
heavy. is your dog really
going to sleep with us.
this is when i reach
over to my imaginary
eject button and visualize
her springing through
the roof, cartwheeling
into space and orbiting
the moon without me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

over coffee

over coffee
serious things
can be discussed.
there is no
room for frivolity,
mirth, or mush.
no fooling around.
it's too early
in the morning
for that. it's down
to business time.
what's to become
of us, she says.
and this leads
to more coffee, more
staring into space
out the window
at the dog chewing
on a leg of the new
lawn furniture.

persistence

my left foot
doesn't know
how to dance,
but my right
foot does.
this is a
problem, a
big problem
when the music
starts. it's
not pretty
what happens
next and yet
i try. i make
a bold attempt
to find the beat,
to get in rhythm,
and shake
it up as
my partner
grimaces and
tries to stay
clear, avoiding
injury. there's
never a second
dance with the
same person,
but i'm not
offended or
embarrassed, i'm
back out there
before the next
song even
starts. i feel
that i have an
obligation to
my right foot.

hello

when the seventeenth
person said hello
and smiled at me
and then scurried
in the opposite
direction
in his and her
matching orange
smocks i was weary,
i was tired despite
it only being eight
o'clock in the morning.
and none of them knew,
not only in their
language, but in my
language too
where i could find
the right size screw
for the mailslot on
my door, follow me
they said, and i'll
try to find it. and
so i followed as
they spoke into
their crackling phones
trying to locate
the screw
specialist, through
the aisles of the
cavernous hardware
store, the overhead
lights bearing down,
lighting up the slick
slab floors painted
a bright citrus orange,
maybe i didn't need
a mailslot after all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

on the train

you wait for
the train,
it's what you do
this time of day,
early morning,
with the sun low
and barely
coming through
the station windows.
a briefcase is in
your hand,
perhaps a cup
of coffee,
the paper
holding yesterday's
news. you may
nod to those
you recognize from
all the months of
riding on the same
line. sometimes it's
raining and you
mention that,
or if it's cold,
or the humidity has
already gotten under
your suit, you talk
about that, but not
too much. it's the
train, that's all.
life and death will
follow, but none of
them will know, or
care or look for you
when you are gone,
and you'll do likewise.

where are you going?

jealousy seeps
in like a green
fog, a poison
gas that leaves
you on the side
of the road
of love gone bad.
or has it?
it's hard to
shake this hot
wave of suspicion,
this peek into
the soul,
through a glass
darkly. and
despite no tracks,
no clue, no
numbers, names
or photos, you
just know.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

love bugs

as the two
get closer,
and begin
to lean on
one another,
almost melding
into one,
i see a grey
sadness on
their faces,
leaving one
life for
another,
chair by chair
and dish by
dish, they
parade the
boxes of one
house into
another, and
as the wedding
day looms,
gets larger
as the day
apporaches,
they no longer
wave, or say
hello in passing,
they are too
consumed with
what they have
done and where
they might be
going.

Friday, May 21, 2010

dazed

sometimes you
steer blindly
into traffic
not seeing what's
in front of you,
flying fast.
your mind is in
a different place,
a place not
safe for driving,
or say walking
on a pitched roof,
or rewiring
a socket, or even
dicing carrots
in the kitchen,
and it might be
love or the end
of love that has
you in a fog, or
maybe it's money,
the lack of it,
or maybe you took a
long look into the
mirror when you awoke
and saw that you
suddenly resembled
your parents.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the clock

it ticks slower
and slower each
year. it's
losing minutes
on a daily basis,
an hour a month,
time seeping out
like air from
a hot balloon,
the bands and
wires, the coils
and springs have
lost their
tensile strength,
the wood is
tarnished, and
the glue that binds
the casing is
brittle from
the sunlight,
the exhale of stale
air, and when it
comes time for the
red bird to leap out,
and coo with the
new hour, it's
weak, sometimes
limp. instead of
three times, you
might get one
if your lucky. it
hasn't lost it's
desire to make
time, no, not
at all, it's just
getting older, like
all of us.

white moon

i don't imagine
i'll be slipping
through the eye
of a needle
soon, but i have
enough. enough
forks, enough food,
knives and spoons,
in fact i can
think of nothing
i want for, not
even you, although
that would be sweet
icing on this
cake i've baked
and set out in
the chill of night
beneath a wonderous
white moon.

for theresa

she wants to let
go of him, but
finds it hard to
push off from
the pier and set
sail and let
the wind take her
to where she needs
to be, which is
anywhere, but here.
and yet he holds
the rope, he won't
let her lift anchor.
he says he has
the map, that he
knows the way, he
knows the tide
of her, the rise
and fall of the sun
in her. he knows,
he says in a kind
sweet whisper how
to navigate the stars.
and as she stands
on deck with her bags
packed and stowed
away, she listens
to the sway of
the water beneath
her feet and stares
out across a velvet
sea. she knows
she needs to leave.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

blue jello

i won't eat
the blue jello.
i refuse. it's
not a color
that i consider
safe as food.
but you go right
ahead, indulge
yourself. have
some whipped
cream on top to
make it even
sweeter. take
your hard silver
spoon and go
for it. but not
me. i'm happy
just to watch you.
content with red,
with green,
with yellow, but
never, ever blue.
are we okay
with that?

in the night

left alone
she finds a
way to silently lift
and bend the
pages of books
she shouldn't see.
left alone,
she's in the
trash, the checkbook,
peeking under
beds for something,
something she's
not even sure
she's looking for.
left alone,
she'll turn
the house upside
down and leave
her prints in your
most guarded
secrets. she's on
the computer, into
your phone. it's not
money, or valuables,
or hidden treasure
of any kind she seeks
to take, she just
wants to know your
heart, your true
intentions and that
she'll never find.

awaken

the story of your
life starts here.
when you arise
from the fog of
night and enter
the light of morning.
forget everything
you've done, or
knew or learned
along the way.
stop counting each
sorrow, each slight,
or disappointment.
this is the new
day, the beginning.
lift your self
from your bed,
your place of
routine and shadow,
and go stand by
the window. where
the sun breaks
through and enters.
let all of it go.
begin now. the story
of your life starts here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

i love you

don't fall for
this. the flower,
the poem, the kiss,
any number of things
that i can give you
which won't put me
out. don't even
blink if i mention
the word love, or
affection, or have
your name mysteriously
appear in ink on some
part of my body. ignore
all of this and
listen to your heart.
run swiftly out
the door, trust me.
i'm no good for you.

work

each day
i go down
into the mine
and dig for
coal. it's
what i do.
into the shaft,
with pick
and axe, a shovel,
down into
the black
night of day,
out of the blue.
there is no
end to this
mountain, it's
what keeps
me alive,
it's what's
killing me.
at night i
come up for
air, to eat,
to go home and
wash away the
soot of the day.
i sit on the
fronch porch
in silence
as the stars
come out
and wonder to
what end this
will come to,
and when i make
love to you,
with my brittle
hands upon your
soft breasts,
you can feel
that i'm not there.
that i'm still in
the mine, deep
below the earth.
in a place that
seems like nowhere.

survival

there are days
when you can't
stay clear of
them. the dark
unhappy ones
who invade your
space like alien
zombies out to
get you. the
unhappy client,
the tailgater,
the angry clerk,
or neighbor. all
at once they try
to pull you in,
pull you down,
clawing at you
on the phone, at
the door. they
want a piece of
you, a bite of you,
to infect you with
the world they
live in and
can't understand
how you don't.
so you spend your
nights sharpening
stakes, making
crosses, gathering
bouquets of garlic.
whatever it takes
to keep yourself
alive and happy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

pink booties

she tells me
on the phone
that jimmy gets
on her last nerve.
that if it wasn't
for his retirement
and pension, his
social security
and ability to
keep the car
running and the
house painted, she'd
leave him just
like that. fifty
years means nothing
to her, she tells
me while sipping
on a fresca and spitting
out the shells
of sunflower seeds.
i can hear her rocker
squeaking on the
dry sun baked boards,
while she knits pink
booties for no one.

the middle of the road

having come a
long ways,
i need to lie
down for awhile.
to catch my
breath and to
reassess things
right here in
the middle of
the road that
runs like a
black ribbon
through the white
sand of this
desert. and
the coyotes come
close, the deer
and lizards,
the praire dogs
on their hind legs,
the toads and
turtles all appear
to see me lying
in the road.
even the vultures
fly down on
great black wings
to stand on their
nervous yellow claws.
they don't know
what to make of
me, but leave me
alone. they inch
in closer though
to watch, they want
to see how this all
turns out.

flush with money

i place a bet
on black and
the wheel spins
and spins then
slows to a stop
on red. i place
another bet, but
this time on
red, and again
off goes the
wheel around
and around to
finally stop
on black. this
repeats itself
until i am
homeless, without
a car, or clothes
or food, not
even a watch to
tell me that
i've run out
of time and luck.
and as i leave
the casino
with nothing,
and walk out onto
the street, naked,
barefoot
and penniless,
the first bum
i meet shakes
his head at me
with disgust,
pulls his tin can
away, angry
that i have
nothing to give
him, upset
that i could have
done this
to my life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

the marriage

i see you in the water,
arm over arm, kicking
your legs, breathing
when you can, snatching
air as you turn your
head out of the breaking
blue, and i ask you
what you are doing, why
are you swimming like
this. where are you
going. i row beside you,
steady in the ocean
froth, but you don't
answer, you are busy
as the waves chop against
your wet hair, your sun
burned brow. your green
eyes are glazed over
with salt and fatique.
you are persistent and
try to ignore me and my
pleas to stop and get in.
you just want to get
to the other side though,
beyond me, me in my
safe boat with a life
preserver and fresh water,
food, and a map of what
we thought our lives
would look like, where
they would lead when
we were on dry land
so long ago.

that other world of dream

this heavy cloak
of fatigue sets
in like low clouds,
leaden, empty
of rain and lighting,
but still unblown
to their next
destination. to be
tired with a night
of sleep before
you, is a wonderful
thing. and as
each light goes
out and each star
goes on, it's so nice
to sink into
that other world
of dream.

maelstrom

she couldn't help
herself. the books
and boxes stacked from
floor to ceiling,
newspapers, magazines,
porcelain pigs and cows
from all fifty states
including puerto rico,
five dogs, a herd of cats,
a barrel of empty cans,
a goat tied up out
back beside the shed
where she kept even
more things that had
no value. each year
brought in more,
another animal, another
stranger who might
be a lover or the next
husband. a maelstorm.
and yet to sit with
her, away from it all,
she'd be fine, pretty
and sweet, careful
with her words, and
manners. not one hint
of the insanity that
lurked within, until
she opened her purse
for a stick of gum,
or a cigarette,
and a mouse would crawl
out across the table.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

the lions are leaving

the great ones are
leaving us one by one,
sometimes on the same
day as if to say
another page and
chapter has gone by,
the lions of my youth
are all in winter,
or have gone to
the other side.
updike, and bellow,
mantle and unitas,
monroe and elvis,
mcqueen and newman,
lennon and sinatra.
a list too long
to ramble on
about here. but you
can feel a shift in
the world as each one
leaves with no
replacement in sight,
and it's not a good
thing, this change,
no, not at all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

birds

it doesn't seem like
your everyday bird gets
lost or confused about
what they are doing,
and i don't mean
the ones that form a V
and fly north or south
in formation with the
changes of the season.
i'm talking about your
sparrows and blackbirds,
your cardinals and finches,
your basic everyday bird
you see fluttering around
in the woods.
they seem to not have
a real plan as they
fly about during the day,
sure they have a nest,
eggs and all of that,
and they need to dig
up some worms or bugs
for food, but once that's
done, they don't appear
to have any real plan
about what they're doing,
but they're not bothered
by it all either, not one
bit, the past, the future,
pffft, they seem content
and happy to just to fly
about. i can relate to that.

stranger in the attic

you think you know
who your grandmother
is until she dies
and you have to crawl
through the attic to
get her junk out. who
knew she liked sex
and booze, whips and
chains. what the hell?
it's all there in
the attic, the magazines
and negligees, the wigs
and stilleto heels.
it amazes you the
secrets she kept, but
then again you suddenly
like her a little bit
more. she was not
just a cookie baking,
knitting old lady
watching as the world
turns with her three
cats, and going to
church every sunday
bringing her waldorf
salad to the picnic.
she actually had
a life at one point
before she bought
the baby blue carpet.

i give up

if it came down
to torture i'd give
up in a heartbeat,
the second i saw
the blowtorch, or
the needle or the
pliers dipped in molten
lava i'd sell my mother
down the river.
i'm not ashamed to
admit to this either.
i have virtually no
willpower when it
comes to pain
and suffering. i just
want it to end.
so don't even bother
putting me on the
medieval stretching
machine, or showing
me the rat cage,
or a bag of nickels
that you might beat
me with, just hand me
a sheet of paper and
a pen. i'll tell you
everything you need
to know. just put
that buzz saw away.

the red shirt

i buy a red shirt,
a shirt i'll never
wear, i realize that
the second i get it
home and take it out
of the bag, i know
it's not for me, but in
the moment when perusing
the racks and stacks
of pants and sweaters,
socks and shorts, i see
the red shirt, and
as the muzak cascades
down making me
feel strangely happy
inside, and i can smell
the perfume down wind
of the men's department,
with cookies and pretzels
baking in the mall,
that the color red seems
fine, it almost feels
like it could be my new
color this season, but
no. i'm a fool for
buying this red shirt.

runaway train

it is the runaway
train, the rumble
of it's wheels on
the glistening
steel tracks, and
you are in the engine
room, blowing
the whistle
with your silly
engineer hat.
you don't even
see me tied to
the rails in the
near distance, arms
and legs twisting
to get free. you
throw in more coal,
more fire to speed
it onward. it even
looks like there
might be smile
on your wild eyed
face as you blow
the whistle and
throttle full
speed ahead.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

D

before
she came
upstairs
to die
in her sleep,
in her bed,
beneath the warm
white linen
sheets, a
final time,
she folded
a load
of laundry
in
the basement,
locked
all the doors,
made her
lunch for
the next day,
turned off
her phone,
and wrote
nothing
in her
diary, that
i know of.

naked in the snow

i see you outside
my window, pacing,
and wonder what's up,
what brings you here
in the dead of night,
in the middle of
winter, without a coat,
a hat or scarf, not
even gloves to keep
you warm. you are
naked in the snow,
pacing, your lips
are blue, your pale
skin makes you almost
invisible against
the snow covered hill.
you see me looking
out at you, but you
don't come in, you
don't knock, or make
a move to get out of
the cold. i'm sure it
was something i said,
or did or didn't do.
all of which escapes
me as i sip my hot
chocolate. i pull
up a chair and throw
some wood onto the fire,
i grab a book
and settle in, still
watching you on
the street, shivering
in the cold night air.
i hate when you do
things like this
to upset me.

i go outside

at night, i put my ear
to the ground and listen.
i think that what i'm
doing may be symbolic
of finding my way, or
by discovering who has
come before me, and left.
but no such thing occurs.
the ground is cold
against my ear, the dirt
is soft and wet, as
is the grass and i can
feel the tiny infinite army
of unseen bugs trying to
get in. there are some
things best not knowing.
so i go inside and find
the red wine to help
with that new knowledge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the summer wind.

in an effort to
understand some other
side of life, and song,
i turn the radio up
and listen for as long
as i can to dr. seuss
on crack making nursey
rhymes. rap. but it's not
working, the longer
i listen, the faster i
want run from what i
don't get and never will.
quickly i pop in a cd
and find the track i
want to hear, sinatra,
singing gently about
the summer wind that
comes rolling in from
across the sea. much better.

the dating mom

she smiles
and says
that the laundry
never ends, or
the cooking, or
helping the kids
with homework,
and sports, and
driving them
everywhere they
need to be. the dog
needs shots and
the grass needs
cutting, i
love being a mom
she says, and
sighs, she sips
her wine, nibbles
at the cheese on
the over sized plate,
her dress is twisted
beneath her folded
legs, her lipstick
slightly off, she
scratches at the grey
roots, the inch
or two that have
pushed out the blonde.
there's no time,
she says. she's tired,
and yawns and stretches,
looks at her watch,
you need to go
i say, and she
says i need to go.
i told the sitter nine.
i have to work
in the morning,
i'm sorry. i see
her touch her
finger where her
wedding band used
to be, then let go.
i walk her to her car,
we shake in the cold
night, a friendly hug,
she waves with
a stiff open hand
and forces a smile,
you were nice,
she says loudly, goodbye.
goodnight, i tell
her. drive safely.

the bank teller

my bank closes
it's drive in window
at seven and so there
is usually a small
rush to line up for
those of us who fear
online banking, atm machines,
and such. and so we
sit and wait in our
cars as the line crawls
through the empty lot
to where the green
lit sign says open.
and behind the glass
the man who works
this shift, who is nearly
always there, an older
man with a white beard,
wearing an orange turban,
smiles pleasantly. his
face is deeply lined,
and his eyes are a soft
brown, the color of dark
wet sand, perhaps
the color of blood. his
hands move paper and punches
keys with calm deliberation,
there is no rush in him,
none whatsover, and the cars
behind in line,
honk their horns, rev
their engines, it
seems like forever with
this teller, and they need
their money, now. their
day of work is over
and they need to eat
and drink, to pay their
bills and get on with their
lives. they loudly curse
him from their windows,
but the teller
is somewhere else. he
is alone in his little
world, safe behind
the pale green glass
enclosure. he dismisses
their anger with a nod,
a wave, and the lollipop
that he slides into the metal
drawer with their transactions,
all in good time.

one small thing

each day at noon
i leave the office
and come to the park
and sit on the same warm
bench facing the sun,
to eat the lunch my
wife has made. sometimes
it's tuna, sometimes ham
on rye, with cheese.
occasionaly turkey
on slices of white bread
with mustard. nothing
fancy. and there is
always a cookie or
two, to be found, plus
an apple or plum,
and a note at the bottom
of the bag, a fresh
hand written note
with the words i love
you tucked inside. it's
folded neatly and
sealed with a lipstick
kiss. and this alone,
this one simple thing
that she does makes me
go home, and to not
stray, or to jump
in front of a train,
and to love her
equally in return.

Monday, May 10, 2010

life

the blue
curve of
water being
the waist
of the world,
in a slow
soft turn
above the sun,
below a moon,
tilted,
and spinning,
this way
and that in
a balance
that keeps
it all together.
and the sparkle
of tinsel
stars, them
too, a reason
to be, and it
makes you wonder,
perhaps
that we might
have purpose.

cold spell

this cold spell,
this slight wind
holding the memory
of winter, heavy
with the blue bruise
of february and
march, is a surprise.
the soul wants
sun and warmth,
the sweet kiss of
spring and the sultry
heat of none too soon
summer to follow. if
you call, i'll forgive
the weather too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

poetry

it's not that i
hate poetry, not
all of it, just
most of it. every
now and again, you
find a piece of
work that awakens
something inside you,
and you connect,
you get it. you
feel what the poet
has tried to convey,
and it sinks in
like the warm sun
on the first day
of spring. there is
hope. but most
of it i disdain. and
writing as i do,
it's blasphemy
to utter such words,
hipocrisy, perhaps,
but i find so much
of it tedious and
boring, reaching
so hard to be
poetic and smart.
clever and so
politically
correct. maybe i do
the same, i hope
the hell not.
i'd hate to have
to stop writing,
but i would if
became one of them.

mr. bishop

if you were in
the shower too
long, he'd turn
off the hot water
and send you scrambling
out of the tub.
if you left the light
on, he'd take a broom
and break the bulb
so that you'd walk
on the broken glass
in your bare feet.
if you forgot to
take the trash out
it would be in your
bed, beneath the blankets,
old food on your sheets.
when you returned home
from school. the dog
you loved for
ten years, before your
mother married this
stranger, would be gone,
driven away to somewhere
in the dead of night,
let loose on some dirt
road. and this is how it
went and how it still
goes for my mother,
who can't see outside
her prison walls. we
are all older now,
and he still lives, i can
still see him if i choose
to, but don't, a cigar
stub in his crooked grin,
unshaven, standing in
the livingroom on christmas
day in his underwear
for everyone to see,
working on his fifth
pabst blue ribbon, belching
and getting into
the holiday spirit.

the new wife

you find when you
awaken that the door
is open, the windows
too, but no one has
entered and no one
has left, everything
is just as it was
before you went up
the stairs and fell
asleep in your bed.
you think about trying
it again the next
night and the next,
hoping that soon
this will all change,
that she will arrive
and you will find
her asleep next to you,
her clothes in the
closet, her shoes
beneath the bed, her
hand resting on your
shoulder.

the salad girl

she could eat
lettuce all night.
some artichokes
cut up and thrown
in, cranberries
and nuts, tomatoes
and onions, goat
cheese. toss in
some sliced cucumbers
and a radish or two
for color and she's
chowing down like
nobody's business.
she won't touch
a slice of red meat,
or even sniff a
dessert, bread,
forget about it. even
at this stage of
the game she refuses
to have fun and
satisfy her appetites,
any of them.

the heart

i'll give you almost
everything, but that.
no one gets that. it's
the only thing i possess
that won't be lent out,
or given away. it's got
some cracks in it, some
bruises, some serious
leakage from love and
death, but it still
works and is intact.
i'm saving it until
i know and even then,
there's no guarantee
it's going out.

rodeo

my days in the rodeo
are numbered. i can't
keep bucking these
wild stallions
and broncos, breaking
the ponies in as they
come off the green
pastures. i'm sore
and my bones are
weary from the battle.
i'm covered in dust,
blistered and calloused.
it's been fun, but i
see the sun going down
on this profession,
time to ride slowly
and gently into the
cool blue night with
just one good horse.

take care

usually when
you get that
valediction,
pack your bags,
delete the
number, and
move on. don't
even try to
break out the
flowers and
the chocolate,
or the david
yurman bracelet,
take care,take
a hike, take
the e train
out baby. it
ain't happening
between you
and me. nothing's
shaking, or
baking. don't
let the door
hit you on
the way out.
adios, see you
don't want to
be with you.
i'm not only
busy tonight,
i'm busy
and booked
for the rest
of my life.
good luck with
your search.
take care.

Friday, May 7, 2010

one last chip

i'm scheduled for
surgery in the morning,
some minor cosmetic
adjustments to make
me more beautiful,
as if that would be
possible, by dr. jane,
who is going to give it
a shot for a mere
few thousand dollars.
she's very optimistic
about the bags under
my eyes, the hair weave,
and the lipo that will
suck the fat out of
my waist and thighs
and big butt.
i'm eating my last donut
right now and a bag
of chips, before i have
to fast before the
operation. i told
her that i didn't want
that rhesus monkey
look with the skin
pulled back too tight.
i wanted to look relaxed
and young, vibrant
and sexy. she says,
no problem. you'll
be back in the game
in no time.

damn cat

there was this
cat in the
road, a fat
striped tabby,
running
from side to side
of the street
with a peanut
butter jar stuck
on his head.
he couldn't see
out of it
because of the label
and the peanut butter
goo, and was
banging into
the curbs and parked
cars. i nearly
ran him over, but
stopped and got
out, chasing him
into a yard where
i grabbed him
and slowly twisted
the jar off
of his sticky head,
then he scratched
me and jumped out
of my arms and
ran off, hopping
over a fence and
disappearing into
the highway, where
i'm sure he didn't
last long. my arm
had three deep, long
scratches that
were bleeding badly.
which put me into
the hospital for a
series of painful
shots. it's not
been an easy thing
explaining the story
to everyone.

cashmere

we were married
forty-five years,
he was just
driving, she told
me. he was at the
wheel and the light
was red, the radio
was on, he had a
cigarette in his
mouth and was
telling me about
a new deal he had
just made at work,
you know how
excited he was
about his work,
using his hands
as he does, and
then the light
changed to green,
but he didn't go.
i looked over at him,
hey, go, i said,
and his hands were
on the wheel, but
limp, his eyes were
open and his head
had fallen to one
side. the cigarette
was somehow still
in his mouth, but
he was gone.
the cars behind us
began to beep, they
began to yell, and
curse us for not
moving, but there
was nothing i could
do. nothing. he
was gone. what size
coat do you wear,
he had so many coats.
very nice business
suits too, you should
come over. try them on.
you like cashmere,
don't you?

blue

there is
a darkness
in some souls
that can't
get out,
or be lit
up with any
kind of good
news, or words
of cheer.
they linger
in the mud,
martyrs to their
twisted cause.
they like
the rain,
the umbrella
of shadows,
nightfall
chills them
with a pleasnat
fear. they
are only
truly happy
when they are
unhappy, and
there is nothing
you can do
to change that.

marie

she sighs alot
on the phone,
my mother, and i
can feel her
in the kitchen
stirring not
only something
in a pot, but
everyone else too
who's on speed
dial. she's a
trouble maker,
no doubt. but
there is no
lack of love,
in either direction.
the wounds heal,
the memories scar
over and are soon
forgotten. it's
all about now,
these moments.
at eighty two,
she needs that.

geography

when in kansas
i stand in an
empty field
and stretch my
arms. i try to
touch both coasts.
no luck. my arms
don't reach that
far. and this gives
you an idea of
where i am, how
unreachable you
are, how limited
love is with
so many miles
between us.

hunger

it's late
and i've only
had a salad
for dinner when
what i wanted
was a turkey
sandwich with
gravy, cranberries
on the side,
stuffing nearby.
all of it warmed
up on a hot
plate. a
decision based
on vanity, not
hunger. once
again settling
for less
when what i want
is more.

i believe

there is no
bad luck,
or bad
karma. there
are no mistakes,
no misteps,
or true
misfortune.
the gyspy
holds
no curse,
the black cat
crossing
means nothing.
broken mirrors
are only that,
just broken
mirrors, but just
the same
i take no
chances and avoid
them all.

april snow

like snow
she falls
on me, across
the lawn,
the broad street,
the roads of
me. she
blankets me
with flakes
that fall
from a deepening
sky like
whispers.
i don't
move an inch,
i embrace
the warmth
of her sweet
winter
and let it
happen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

lunar musings

around
the moon,
on the dark
side, there
is nothing
but more
moon. it
took so long
to learn that.
we had to go
there to be
convinced.
like all
of us, there
is light
and dark,
but one moon.

a new season

summer sun
and sand
the soft
lap of surf
on golden
toes. sweet
mystery
of love, how
easily it
swims over,
and puts
joy into
your life.

nurse jenny

she was an unregistered
nurse who had lost her
way. at some point she
had given the wrong pills
to the wrong person or poked
a needle into the wrong
backside of an ailing
patient which sent them
off into an unreturnable
dreamland. but she was cute
and sexy in her white
uniform that she'd wear
out onto dates. the white
shoes, the white hat, white
nylons, florence nightingale
style, not the new style
of flowery jumpsuits that
look like pajamas. she was
old school with the nurse
get up. sometimes she'd
carry a purse that looked
like a medical satchel,
with the red cross
on the side. every now
and then she'd pull
out a tube of chapstick, or
lipstick or some perfume to
dab onto her wrists that were
strangely heavily taped.
she had some great crash
cart stories, tales from
the ER that would make your
hair stand on end if you
had any. occasionally
she put a stethscope around
her neck for the full
effect. it was all quite
fetching for awhile, until
they took her away in
a straightjacket, ending
our already tenuous and
fragile relationship.

things change

every neighborhood,
or street, or building,
or floor has a boss,
a mayor, an unofficial,
unelected leader
of the pack. a furher.
someone who has lived
there longer than
everyone else
and feels that she
or he has the right
to rule. mine likes
to post notes upon
your door, manifestos
of your sins,
if you haven't shoveled
your walk properly,
or not at all, or if
your trash has been
put out before sundown,
or if the dog barks
too much, too loud,
too long. perhaps your
parking sticker is not
visible or up to date.
she'll write you up
and tape her greviances
to the door on a large
sheet of white paper
so that everyone can
see as they get home,
including me. there is no
wave in her, no hello,
no greeting whatsoever.
just a grim nod, a vague
acceptance of your
existence. but this has
changed. the other day
i noticed that her head
was shaved. she was
completely bald and had
lost considerable weight.
she didn't look well
and when seeing me she
smiled, she waved, as if
we were suddenly the best
of friends she yelled out
pleasantly, hey steve,
how are you? how are
things going?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

pink babies

i live in a neighbor
hood full of babies.
pink round babies
with fuzzy blonde
heads, and blue eyes
like marbles. they
are in strollers,
in the grass
with fat diapers
dragging them down.
some tethered to posts
like balloons that
might fly away. they
are crying, spitting,
laughing, happy chubby
babies who only want
food and sleep. some
are up on their tiny
feet, or penned in by
cages near the playground,
others are crawling
trying to escape what
they can't escape,
or stuck in the slings
of back and front
packs. the parents are
bent over from the
weight of it all,
exhausted, blank eyed,
despite the sunny smiles,
it's a long road with
babies. a very long road.

next

my former friend
glenda, no relation
to the good witch
of the north, has
set sail. she packed
her bags and took
a taxi out. my last
look at her was
her in the back seat
holding up a hand,
giving me a wave
with one finger. it
didn't end well
with this one. but
i wish her well.
she is basically a
good person. smart
and fun. it just
wasn't meant to
be. the shelf life
once again has
expired. next.

not bats

strange how
these birds
so black
with large
spread wings
linger in
the trees
like silent bats.
maybe they
are bats who
deny the sun,
and have
developed
vision to find
their prey,
the warm
rodents that
scurry across
the lawn,
through
broken woods,
but i doubt it.
i think
they are just
moody birds,
quiet, pondering
something,
their lives,
their marriages,
how their
children went
off some deep
end. contemplating
their dead
end jobs they
somehow got
stuck in.
if they
had hands,
they'd be
folding them
over and over
wiping the beads
of sweat from
their brows.

speedracer

like a fast
car, red and sleek
she caroms down
the road, inches
from the rail,
a hairpin turn away
from flying off
into a wall, or
worse going airborne
into the valley,
against the cliffs,
into the river
where it won't be
good. but she likes
the fast lane,
the speed, the danger
of living on the
edge. there's no
stopping her,
there isn't enough
self help books
or therapy, or pills
to get her foot
off the pedal. thank
god, i got out of
the car.

oh well

it's not easy
being at peace with
everyone, at least
all at the same time.
no matter how hard
you try, someone
picks a fight or
has a problem with
you. all it takes
is the beep of an
anxious horn, the
misread e mail, or a
glance taken the wrong
way. a snub, a thought,
a sneer. everything
counts towards a
misunderstanding of
sorts. i've reached
the point though, where
i don't care, i don't
let it bother me.
i know the truth
and i rarely lose a
moment of sleep worrying
about it. life is
too short, but not
for them. i'm kidding,
but i'm sure it
will be taken the
wrong way. oh well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

when we were kids

behind the bowling
alley we painted
a strike zone with
a can of white
spray paint and bought
a dozen rubber
balls. someone had
a bat, a few gloves.
and we'd throw,
and swing for hours
until our arms were
sore and the sun had
burned our faces into
roses.and there we went
the entire summer,
and the next one too,
living in an imaginary
world as real, if not
more real than the
one we were born into.
a year ago i rode by
there. the bowling
alley was gone, but
the building stood, the
wall still there, and
our strike zone somehow
visible, though faded
awaited the next pitch
from our young and
wonderous arms.

i feel

i'd like to
have a new
dog, a fresh
puppy, smooth
and shiny like
the last one
when he was
born and bought
and carried home
with joy. i'd
love to feel
the new dog
next to me,
have him under
my feet, in my
way and needy,
his tail wagging
his nose cold,
his eyes bright
and shining,
looking into mine.
the bark as clear
and sharp
as the north
star in winter.
i'd love to have
the new dog.
but i can't, at
least not now.

the cell phone

the beauty of
the cell phone
is the dropped
call, or the battery
running low
and then dying.
it can save you from
some excruciating
conversations.
painful ramblings
and calling outs
by those that
have your number.
sometimes you can
fake the dead phone
with a quick
hang up in mid
chat, it's almost
undetectable when
you time it just
right, in the middle
of your own sentence,
it just goes silent,
and suddenly you can
hear the birds
chirping,the breeze
ruffling the leaves
on the trees outside
your window. that
stream moving along
the banks, against
the rocks. ahhhh.

what's in a name...

you don't hear the name
mildred much anymore,
or for that matter, midge,
or madge, prudence. those
names seem to be a thing
of the past. when was the
last time you called up
esther and said, what up
girlfriend? violet? nope.
edwina, not a chance.
it's not happening anymore
to anyone under the age
of fifty. and that goes
the same for elmer, or
dexter, or lynn or leslie
for a man. lester or carlton?
melvin, just take their
lunch money now. agnes,
how many people do you
know with the name, agnes?
i count zero on my hand.
not to say that they aren't
all wonderful names, they
had their day, but now
it's gone. maybe they'll
be back, everything
seems to come back around,
given time. jimmy though
seems to be here for good.

the yellow corvette

she rolls up
in a yellow
corvette, blonde
of course,
earrings a glitter,
some peach
lipstick on and
a pair of pink
sneakers nestled
on her little
feet below the
denim cut offs.
get in she says,
i'll take you
places you've never
seen before and i
tell her that
i doubt that. i've
been around girl.
she laughs and
revs the engine,
kicks open
the door and says
get in sailor.
so i do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

sometimes

it doesn't
take much.
a cup of
coffee. a
kiss. a
soft chair
to rest in.
a good book.
a poem,
a song,
watching
the yellow cat
stretch
and yawn,
the sun on
your arm
as it rests
on the sill,
with
the street
below. it
doesn't
take much
to exhale
and then to
let it all go.

home

when i get there
i'll know, i have
already imagined
this place, slept
in it, eaten meals
at the table,
stretched out my
arms and embraced
the walls, the roof
the floor. at times
i can almost see
it, right over the
next hill, into
the next day, then
the next, perhaps
just one more and
i'll be home, these
fingers on this
keyboard will take
me there. will
carry me to a place
i dream to be.

sundae

this giant bowl
of ice
cream won't
ease the sadness
that lurks
within, but
with nuts,
and cherries,
deep dark
chocolate,
heated and poured
like lava on
to the mound,
and whipped cream,
all of it
will sure help
things, at
least for now.

the rose

you'd think that
the small wounds,
the slight bright
red cuts from
thorns would add
up, but they don't
make a difference.
it's worth it to hold
the rose, embrace
it's fragrance,
touch it's silk
petals at
least for that
one moment and feel
the necessary
pain of love found,
and soon to die.

a line in the sand

my friend jimmy
who works downtown
for a brokerage firm
wears a nice suit
and puts a little
color in his
hair to hide the
grey. he's always
well tanned and
works out at the
gym. he's a nice
guy and we meet
for a late lunch every
now and then to shoot
the breeze. sitting
outside i notice
how the women give
him that sly
glance as if they
aren't looking, but
really they are. he tells
me as he adjusts
his sunglasses and
sips his late afternoon
martini that he's done
with women over the
age of fifty. we
are about the same age
and i ask him what's up.
he says that they have no
libido, most of them,
that is. they have
no desire or need
for sex. menopause, he
says, something about
hormones or something.
i don't know. he says
that he's tired of
working so hard on
his dates, the theater,
the opera, the concerts,
dinner and museums.
he's tired of being
a companion, which is
what they really want.
walking in the park,
hiking old rag mountain.
jesus, he says. one woman
the other night said
that she doesn't have
sex on school nights.
i shake my head. damn,
i say, that's a shame.
he continues on his rant.
i go home after dropping
a couple of hundred
bucks and i might get
a lousy kiss, maybe a hug
too. he shrugs and
shakes his head. i'm
done with fifty, he
says. they wonder why
we older guys want to
meet younger women, well
i'll tell you plain
and simple. he takes
off his sunglasses
and looks me in the eye.
sex. he says. younger
women want, love and
need it. i'm not
dead yet, he says. i
nod, but don't say
a word. i have no
idea what he's talking
about.

dream on

i fall asleep
on the cool
clean sheets
and drift off
into a dream
about a girl
i once knew when
i was young
and thin, a puppy
off the leash.
we couldn't keep
our hands off
one another,
or stop kissing,
or go a day
without an hour
on the phone.
the dream is
sweet, the dream
is almost as
good and is not
diminished one
bit by the fact
that i wake up
all alone.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

the ax

after being let go
from your office job
they walk you out
with your box of personal
belongings and perhaps
a stapler that you've stolen
and some pens, paperclips
and stamps. they
take your card key
and someone opens the
heavy metal door that
leads to the parking
lot where your car is
baking in the hot friday
sun. you feel the slap
of farewell on your back,
someone says hey, we'll
see you around, they
reach out for a lame
handshake but you have
the box in your hands
and can't so you nod
and try hard not
to say anything like fuck
you people and your ridiculous
company which produces
nothing that the world
will every keep. but
you don't, you might need
them as references at some
point down the road. so
you wave, you smile,
you have your box in
your hands and you're
squinting into the hot sun,
into the realization of that
you have no job, no income,
no place to go in the
morning. and this gives
you such joy, like striking
oil. it gushes happily from
the deepest part of your heart.

the ride is over

this ride is fast.
i'm loopy from
the twists and turns,
the swift curves
that pull us back
into our seats.
i'm white knuckled
from it all, holding
on to the metal
bar, my feet stiff
in place so as not
to slide to the left
or right. it's a
scream, a joy, a
frightening spin
that makes my heart
race with fear and
happiness all at the
same time. i want
it to end and to
never stop, but it
has to. it really does.

i remember

back in nineteen eighty five
when i was a slave
on a roman galley ship
and was whipped for
not rowing hard and
fast enough, for being
distracted, or day dreaming.
i'd look out the tiny
porthole as the sting
of the metal barbs cut
into my flesh
and i'd watch the porpoise
swimming along side
us, jumping in their
sleek grey skins with
joy and life. they almost
seemed to have a smile
on their blunt nosed
faces as they swam beside
us. occasionally
i'd point them out to
the new slaves, but
after awhile, most
of them lost interest,
but not me. i knew there
was a better way, another
world outside this ship,
and i found it.

join the club

i belong to the bookstore
club now, i show my card
and get a discount
whenever i buy the next
horrible book by dan
brown. when i need milk,
two per cent or whole
from a cow, unlike soy,
i punch in my bonus
card and save a few
more pennies there.
the hotel is reduced
with a membership
card as well, and
i have a shoe club card
that eases the pain
and price of a new
pair of wing tips.
where i buy a sandwich,
smoked ham on rye with
swiss, they also want
me to be part of their
plan. after thirty
sandwiches i get one free
and a bag of chips,
and a coke. my credit
card offers exclusivity
to any number of deals
and products, like a pen
flashlight when a storm
arrives and knocks out
the power. for every
fill up of gas, i get
a penny or two. within
two years i will have
enough pennies to get
my one free gallon. when
i need a new button down
dress shirt to go out
on my date with shirley
who lives in triangle,
virginia, i show the
department store my card,
my special bonus laden
card and voila, i save
three dollars. having never
belonged to anything, i
have suddenly been swept
up into the gracious arms
of life and belong
to everything. i'm so happy
with all my club cards.

a change in the weather

there is no pulse
sometimes when the
mood has waned, no
putting jeannie
back into the bottle
once out and on
the move, it's so
easy to have it all
slip away, the fish
pulled from the sea,
the keys that slip
from the hand, the
glass that spills
and slowly lets out
the drink you wished
to dry your thirst.

the dead

the gravestones,
are tilted and thin,
concrete wafers
with engraved
script names
and numbers
smoothed out by
time and weather,
fragile in the wind.
they lie in a narrow
shaded parcel of
land in odd rows.
but take away
the preserved
church, the trim
painted gloss white,
the brick sidewalk
swept and clean,
and manicured
lawn, take away
the rose bushes that
line the way and the
priest in his satin
black robe and
you see that it's
a bleak place to lie
below the ground.
with the traffic
so close, the buses,
the stores,
the rush of life
cutting through
the cemetary
to save time,
paying the dead
and their eternal
graves no mind.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

i find that

it's good to
be home, to come
back to that easy
chair, your own
soft bed, to find
your books and
things just the
way you left them,
as if they had waited
patiently for you
to come in the
door to be embraced.
yes, the trip is
fine, the overnight
stay can be sweet,
but there is nothing
quite like the quiet
and comfort of being
in your own content
and happy place.

mad man

this middle aged,
overweight, crazy man enters
the bar, sunglasses on,
ball cap pulled tight
on his head, shadow boxing
to whatever music is
entering his brain
from his ear phones, he's
talking to himself and pulls
out a wad of money, maybe
a thousand dollars
which he places on the bar.
he's obviously in another
world and tries to make small
talk or eye contact,
and yells out at whoever
looks at him, looking for
a fight. cursing, turning
red faced at whatever wrong
he perceives within his
coconut head. he's out of
control and spinning
quickly in the direction
of madness, if he isn't
already there. you can
feel the black aura of
pain and fear that he lives
in and that he wants to
share with whoever crosses
his path. and you realize
that there is this side
to life that is out there
in the shadows, in alley
ways and there is little
you can do about it, but
stay clear and watch your back.

i watch

the blind black
cat with blue
eyes like winter
frost, disappear
nicely into
the dark cool
shadows beneath
the shrubs on
the brick patio,
where he can't
be reached.
carefully he leans
his head into
the shallow pool
that bubbles
brightly with
old water,
nearly as black
as him and sips
with a sharp
pink tongue,
what he shouldn't
sip, nothing
is lost or missed
by the absence
of vision. he
is still a cat.

high finance

my stock broker mindy
called me the other day
to review my portfolio.
it's at the stage now
after the ex carved
out her half, by law,
where i can envision
the double wide trailer
i might be living in
somewhere in central
florida with a dog
chained to the bumper.
she's always pleasant
when she calls, we talk
about the weather, work,
your basic friendly chit
chat that doesn't amount
to much and then she
gets down to business
and says that i'm doing
fine, i'm right on track,
but that maybe
i should make a few
adjustments, sell my
shares in coca cola
and buy up some buster
brown shoe shares, or
something along those
lines. i have no clue
and she knows that,
but plays along
as if i might. she could
suggest delorean cars,
or some shares in pan
am airlines and i'd say,
sure, why not. go for
it mindy, you're the
expert. great she says
and i hear her manicured
nails clicking against
her keyboard somewhere
in lancaster, pennsylvania
where she works. the
conversation ends with
me always saying, i just
don't want to be living
in a cardboard box
in a patch of woods
behind the liquor store
off of route one, which
always gets a big
laugh out of her. she
snorts, oh don't worry
hon, you're doing just
fine and on that note
we hang up and i go fix
myself a gin and tonic,
go out the back porch
with a fly swatter
and try not to worry.