Thursday, September 30, 2010

packing light

i packed light
for this trip.
three pairs
of pants, shorts
and socks, two
pairs of shoes
plus the ones
i have on. two
shirts, a sweater
in case the weather
changes. a jacket
for rain. a hat
for sun. after all
it is overnight
and so far away
in herndon.

love me two times

before you go
love me again.
hold me close.
let me feel
those lips on
mine. don't say
a word, don't
write a note,
don't even wink
or joke. just
make love,
make love,
then go and
i'll be fine.

splinter

it only takes
a small sliver
of wood, a splinter
that enters in
a clean and easy
spot where the
skin is soft,
then left alone,
to close and go
sore, and
you can't believe
that something
so small could
cause you to limp
and lean, and wince.
that fragile, we
sometimes are,
the smallest of
things making
us humble, making
us crawl.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

time

there isn't as
much time as you
think there is.
and yet, we feel,
out of necessity
or instinct that
we are immortal,
that we have as
they say, all the
time in the world.
and in this way,
words don't get
said that should
be spoken,
friendships
aren't warmed
and held as close
as they should be,
that kiss is not
taken, or that touch
on the arm, or hug
is left undone. it's
hard to live as
if each day was
the last day, but
what a better world
it would be if
we all did.

the gate

the gate needs
oil, some screws
tightened,
a board or two
of wood replaced,
some fresh
white paint where
her nails would
scratch when
she saw me
coming, it
leans and doesn't
quite close or
catch, the dog
with her heavy
paws has worn it
down. but she's
gone now, and so
i rarely even
bother to pull
it tight anymore
and i like it fine
just the way
it is, unlatched.

thunder road

it was frightening
news to hear that
bruce, yes that bruce
had turned sixty one
the other day. nine
years short of seventy.
good lord. how long
can it be when we
were in the car, flying
down a stretch of
beach road between
ocean city and delaware
with the windows
rolled down, singing
as loud as we possibly
could, thunder road.
heading out or heading
in, it didn't matter.
the night held every
possibility we could
imagine. and we sang
with all the joy of
being young, of being
strong, being nearly
untethered by most
of life. the screen
door slams, mary's dress
waves. like a vision
she dances across the
porch as the radio plays.
roy orbison singing
for the lonely, hey
that's me and i want
you only....

getting ready

when it starts to
get cool out, like it
is now. and there is
more rain, more wind,
and the sun sets
earlier each and every
day i start to buy
food, lots and lots
of food. meat, cake
mixes. ribs, steaks,
maybe even a blueberry
pie or two. i suddenly
need deep dark chocolate.
i see the first hint of
holidays on the store
shelves. the bags
of candy, the turkey
that lights up in
the window. that
gravy boat, half price.
santa drinking a coke
while on his sleigh. when
i see all of this i
break out the fat pants
and start to get ready.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

hot pastrami on rye

after being
with you,
i'm hungry
for a sandwich.
not a girl
sandwich without
meat, not two
slices of
white bread
with thinly sliced
cucumbers. no.
how about a
pile of steaming
hot pastrami on
rye, a burst
of mustard, a
pickle on the
side. cut it in
half so that i
can get my mouth
around it. you'll
know when i'm
done. you'll
hear the sigh.

out

i've been rattled,
in my own cage, self
made. and the door
was never locked. i
could have left at
any moment. at any
time. i won't be
going back there any
time soon. i'm out,
and free, awake,
and ready for all
good things, a world
of possibility.

in the air

from the ground
i watch
the silver light
of the plane
before dark, holding
you, as it moves
over the shadowed
land of green,
and long cool streams
of blue. i watch
the tailight fade,
a wisp of red as it
floats between high
clouds. i'm soon
to learn how much
i'll miss you.

snowflakes

i'd like
to see
christmas
in your
brown eyes.
snow
upon your
face,
to feel
the cold
blooming on
your
cheeks, i'd
like
another
season with
you if
the stars
and moon
align.

deep freeze

it takes time to
unfreeze
what has been
frozen for so long.
it takes heat
and light, and a
gentle hand to carve
away the ice. you
couldn't go on
the way you were,
so cold, so numb
within your wounds.
it was no way to
live, safe within
your cave, untouched,
unloved, unflinching
in your hardened way.

Monday, September 27, 2010

trees

on a variety
of trees, lean
or tall, or thick
in trunk with age,
some leaves are
quick to turn, to
abandon green and
go yellow and red,
a tender shade
of brown. i'd love
to learn all of
their names, but
i'm a little busy
right now.

eclair

i'm staring down
an eclair at the
moment. it's long
and fat with
bavarian cream,
a deep dark
swath of chocolate
across it's back.
i can see the
layered dough,
like feathers that
make my mouth water.
a sweet cool
pastry on a thin
scalloped sheet
of wrap. i want
to tear into. now.
not later, not
tomorrow, but right
this second.
you have the same
effect on me.

bad mood

you don't see
the mood coming.
that dark swing
towards grumpiness
where everything
is a pebble in
the shoe, a paper
cut or a bruise.
you don't see
exactly when it
arrives, but it
all adds up,
the daily drive,
the spilled milk,
the missed call
or call taken
that put you there.
it's a swift
cold storm you
are in, and it's
best to just
stay clear until
it passes.

where to build

don't build
too close to water,
where it can
rise and take
everything away.
or on the flat
plains of kansas
where any wind
can funnel black
and tear it all down.
or on a cliff
overlooking
the ocean,
where the ground
is soft and easy.
don't make
your stand on
wet sand while
the waves pound
in and shake you
off your feet.
find higher ground,
find a good
heart first, and
build love on that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

water

the hot bath
with steam rising
from the white
tub. the lights
off, a candle
lit, the night
young, the wine
poured as we
drop our clothes
and slip into the
water together.
no need to talk,
to discuss
anything. we
are past all
of that. there
is only the
quiet of us
together.

blackbirds on the wire

there are too
many blackbirds
on the wire to
count, but i
start counting
just the
same as more
keep flying in
to perch on the
long strand of wire
that sways from
pole to pole.
large and black,
silky smooth
with pointed
yellowed beaks,
they are all
facing me,
watching me as
my lips move,
counting,
ten, eleven,
twelve. more
fly in, they all
want to be seen,
fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen,
to be taken
seriously
and be accounted
for, perhaps
even to be loved
not unlike us,
no, not at all.

moe

i dream of the dog
again. moe. the beast.
he's alive and well
and barking, causing
havoc in the street.
despite being round
and short and slow
he'd run towards any
dog to fight
then roll over and pee
straight up in the air,
suddenly frozen with
fright. he never met
a pair of shoes he
didn't delight in eating.
or coat, or purse, or
chair leg that wasn't
tasty. oh how i'd
love to spank his little
red self just one
more time.

sunday mornings

i miss how the leather
ball felt in my hand
before throwing it across
a green field, lined
and long, and wide
into someone's waiting
hands. i miss the sweat
and hard pushes and
pulls and banging into
the ones you played
against. drawing plays
in the dirt. i miss those
days of sunday morning
sandlot games, when
we were young and then
not so young and yet
kept at it until time
and life forced us
to all go our separate ways.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

surrender

the secret
to all of
life is
simple, almost
too easy
to even grasp.
it's what
nature does,
it's what
everything
around us does.
surrender.
bury the seed.
let it go,
and all good
things will
come. the
tighter that
you grasp
anything,
the further
away it goes.

a penny found

no one bends
over to pick up
the penny anymore.
i don't either.
not even the clean
shiny ones. there
is some self pride
in not needing a
penny found, and
the thought of
having luck all
day long isn't as
appealing as it
used to be, luck
being so undefined
these days. but
if i see a quarter,
or a half dollar,
i'll grab it. luck
has met inflation.

the vampire blues

i get tired
at times of needing
blood. always with
the blood, the biting
my unsuspecting victims,
and how they scream
into my ears, i need
some plugs, i can't
stand the screaming
anymore, no one ever
says ouch, or yikes,
or please, what
the hell are you
biting me for. they just
scream like wild
animals, i feel bad
for them, but
i have no choice,
these are the cards
i've been dealt. i
can't sleep at night
and during the day
i toss and turn in
my dirt bed, in my
wooden box and think
about, well, mostly
about wanting more
blood. whew. it
gets old sometimes.

dinosaur bones

the dusty brown
bones of dinosaurs
sit still within
their glass
enclosures, no
longer roaring
at the world that
trembles at
their feet, ancient
history, like
marriages gone
wrong, the earth
hit by meteor,
or flood, or an
icy doom. memories
in a box tucked
into a closet,
beneath a bed, or
to the attic
where spiders all
day long make
their web.

walking

the carved white
ivory of the placid
moon streams like
a ship's beacon down
the narrow row of
trees, and you walk
on this cool fall
evening alone,
and ponder the years
that have fallen
so quickly, so quietly,
almost like leaves.

Friday, September 24, 2010

shopping

i see her
in the grocery
store, she might
be eighty, or less,
and weighs about
the same,
so hard to tell
in her long
coat, her pink
dress, her sunday
hat with a wide
tipped brim. i
watch her as she
puts another can
of tuna into her
large white
purse that hangs
on her shoulder.
then a can of
olives, an onion
too slips from
her hand into
the mouth of
the bag. she works
the aisles while
pushing her cart,
small things
go down into
the bag,
and she doesn't
mind that i see
her, no smile, no
nod, just a blank
look of please
don't tell.
and when they
come for her at
the last row
of produce and
breads and they put
the cuffs on her
she begins to
cry. nothing is
said, there is
no scream, nothing.
they just take her
away, the bag
still on her
shoulder.

success

each door
is open in
the front,
the back,
on the porch,
and the windows
too. you
can go
down the chimney
as well
if you
fit and don't
mind the soot
and the landing.
there are
many ways to
get in, you
can even knock
or ring
the bell. or
send a card
in advance
as to when
you will arrive,
but you can't
just stand
there on
the stoop and
do nothing.

small imperfections

you find a chipped
plate in the cupboard,
a white dish of a set
of eight that you
bought so long ago
you can't remember
where and when you
did. but the chip is
new. it's a jagged
edge along the smooth
curve of porcelain.
you touch it with
your finger and feel
the sharpness of this
glass. you see how
easy it is to focus
on the damage, on
the small imperfection
when there is so
much good in this
plate from which you
can share and enjoy
your meals, your life.
save it.

summer rain

without trust
there is nothing.
there are
shadows, there
is deceit, there
is a game
being played
where everyone
gets hurt. without
trust. all
the love and
affection falls
away like summer
rain on the
hot roof. rising
as steam
into a sky
that holds no
rainbow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

recharge

like
batteries
spent
we need
to plug
in, to
recharge
before we
blink and
fade into
oblivion,
it's what
you choose
though that
makes all
the difference,
whether it
be drugs,
or booze,
or religion.
perhaps sports,
or gambling,
or nature.
but you need
something to
get back
the power,
the juice that
you lose
with each
new day. choose
carefully.

at night

on the edge
of the bed,
she sits, she
rubs her eyes,
removes her
shoes. first
one, then
the other,
lettting
them fall to
the floor with
a soft thud.
the dog comes
over to have
his head
scratched and
the cat hops
onto the bed,
with tail up
in full meow.
she stands and
slips out of
her dress, puts
it on a hanger,
then the rest
comes off.
she takes off
her jewelry,
and sets it all
on the dresser.
she bunches her
hair into a pony
tail, then
brushes her teeth,
washes her face,
turns off
the lights,
raises the window
where the moon
comes through,
then she climbs
into bed
and thinks of him.

cruise ships

at night, out at sea,
on the black roll
of waves, you can
see in the distance
the curved line of
ships on route to
ports in staggered
times. half lighted
beneath a sheet of
stars carrying passengers
near sleep, or on
board with drink and
food, too old to be
dancing the way they
do, forgetting who
they are, or want
to be. all they know
is the moment they
are in, away from
wherever they came
from. sailing, sailing
until the bill comes due.

i see that

she is rarely
blue. hardly
ever down and
out, sad about
where she is,
or where she
has been. i am
amazed by
her strength,
her resiliency,
the joy she finds
in each and
every day, stretched
from end to end.
but i know
that deep within
her is a need
to be held, to
be loved
without conditions.
to be desired and
wanted and how
she fears to let
that be known.

needs

i don't need
much. really.
i don't. work,
food, sleep, water,
a martini or
two, a good book
and a blank
sheet of paper
for which to
write upon.
of course friends,
and exercise
are in the mix.
and good sex,
okay great sex
with you. i
don't need
much. but the
things i do
need and want
are quite clear.
i've moved
you to the top
of list, in
case you were
wondering.

in the mail

i write you a
note, a long
note of love
and admiration,
but i'm out
of stamps, so
i go to your
house to borrow
one, and you
ask me why
don't i just
give you
the envelope
instead of
mailing it
to me and
having to wait
three days,
but i say no,
that's not
how it works,
these things
take time,
they need to
be in the air,
in transport
across the miles,
handled with
care and sorted
before being
delivered.
but we live
right next
door to each
other, she
says, hands
on her hips,
bewildered. i
smooth the stamp
she gives me onto
the corner and
tell her, i
have to run, got
to go to the
post office.
see you later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

friends

at times
it's impossible
to please
every star
in the sky
with a name,
or a wish
upon it's
flashing
cold light
against
the blackness
of night, so
why try.
sometimes it's
just easier
to take them
all in
with a broad
brush of like,
and count
them as one,
at least
for now.

sleep conditions

being moeless,
i can't sleep
with the lights on,
or the televison
even set on low,
or with the computer
in the other room
blinking blue
down the dark cooridor.
i can't sleep
with the drawers
open, or the closet
door ajar, or
enough pillows to
go around. a glass
of water would
be nice too. and
the window open
just so, and of course
having me next
to you would really
get the ball rolling.

in time

i call my son
to see how he
is, having not
felt good about
the last conversation.
he needs to hear
my voice, and i
need to hear his.
he's so alone
sometimes despite
so many friends,
so many things to do.
immersed in his
passion. he feels
each day like
a wall of water
overwhelming him.
his feet in sand,
as he tries
to find himself,
a direction, a
plan for the next
world. but i have
faith in him.
his soul is strong
and i believe he
will be who he
is already deep
within. it just
takes time.

the kiss

she finds me
alseep, still in
bed. and she
shines her
eyes on me
and says, hey.
you were so
tired, so deep
in sleep
this morning
that i couldn't
stand to wake
you, so i just
let you dream
and be, then
kissed you
on the lips
to bring
you around.

three wishes

amused at having
won three wishes.
i let it all sink
in, slept on it,
wrote down any number
of possibilities
of what to do
with each, then
deciding that
i needed only one
thing more to make
my life complete,
i gave them all
to you.

awake

as each day
surrenders
and night falls
and the woods
deepen, and
even the water
that tumbles
darkly
through the stream,
down the rocky
hill, the carved
and dangerous
ravine, takes
on a new weight
of it's own,
i lean against
the sill with
the window open
and with the work
of day finished,
bone weary, i
am still up
and waiting.

Monday, September 20, 2010

family

it's strange
how families fold.
how so close you
were when young
and near, sharing
rooms and meals,
and clothes, entangled
for lack of a
better phrase,
like weeds, but
now as a different
age appears the
distance deepens,
for no apparent
reason, or aim,
it's just the way
that garden
has grown.

apples

i've stopped eating
apples completely.
i'm not sure why,
or how this happened.
i still like to look
at them in the grocery
stores, neatly stacked,
and shiny, begging in
the neon glow to be
taken home, but no.
i've lost my desire
for apples, the red
and juicy ones, the
green and tart ones,
the soft yellows, and
those that are striped
in pastel colors with
an alluring look of
sweetness. but now i
pass them all by, i
push my cart without
so much as lustful
glance. i blame it all
on you, but in a
good way, i'm glad
that with apples, i
am through.

the haircut

i tell the barber
to take a little off
the top, and he smiles
and stands back with
his clippers buzzing
and says. but that's
all you have. well, do
the best you can i tell
him. trim it up, i'm
in your hands. give
it a shot, put some
of that wax on my
head or something, how
about a hot shave,
i'm not really here
for a haircut anyway,
i just needed to sit down
for awhile, get out
of the sun and have
someone to talk to, it's
been that kind of day.
okay, he says grabbing
a hot towel to set
upon my face, go ahead,
talk. well, i tell
him, it all began when
i was a child. it
started with my mother.

fire alarm

at three a.m.
like a fire alarm,
across the miles
you call. you dial
me up, not to talk
but to hear me say
hello, hello and
then hang up. it's
disturbing to say
the least, this
crazy behavior, but
i'd be surprised
if you behaved
otherwise.

skimming the pool

you can't save
everyone she
says while skimming
the pool of leaves
with a long silver
pole and a green
blue net attached.
the water is barely
rippled as she
lifts and strains
the soft yellow
and red leaves
that float like
flowers on the blue.
not everyone even
wants to be saved,
she continues. some
want to sink, and
take you with them,
misery, of course,
as the cliche goes
loving company.
i think about what
she says. it's
the kind of
conversation that
needs no response
no answer. we are
saying things, like
the leaves that twirl
and tumble off
the trees in a gentle
dance of fall, both
natural and true.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

in the midnight hour

she says that
she can drive a
stick shift, so
i pull over
feeling a bit
tipsy,
and let her have
the wheel. she
puts on her glasses,
and without even
a bump or burp
of the engine,
without stalling
even a bit,
she slides open
the moon roof, turns
up the radio as
billy idol screams
in the midnight
hour and takes
control. she
gets us home
without blinking
even one of
her beautiful
brown eyes.

jimmy

having had
one too many
martinis at
the bar with L,
we, or should i
say i strike up
a conversation
with a man
sitting next to
us. he's alone,
drinking, eating
a steak the
size of the plate,
that sits round
and white in
front of him,
he's alone, and
leaning in,
listening to us
talk, a
salesman on
the road between
jobs, between
wives, between
cities. adrift
perhaps, but who
knows. and of
course his name
just happens to
be jimmy. i blab
way too much
she'll tell me
in the car later,
and then again
in the morning,
shaking her head
and laughing,
and i can't
agree more.

one more night

close the door,
but leave the light
on, roll back
the blanket, the
cool sheets, open
the window, let
the moon and stars
come in too.
let me watch you
walk across the
room. let me
inhale your
lovely bones, feel
the beat of
your heart against
mine, let's stay
this way for another
night and savor
our time together.

no words

sometimes words
have no meaning,
they possess no
power, no resonance,
they go flat in the
air from being said
too often. silence
and the contact
of eyes is enough
to convey the
feeling, the movemnt
of the heart.
the closeness
shared.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

these boots

in her boots
she is on firm
ground. they make
her rise high
with a flattering
curve. black
or red, it doesn't
matter. she is
on the runway,
the cat walk,
she's in the
parade, the head
float moving
slowly down main
street, watch her
smile, watch
her wave. watch
her cut to the
front of the line
to misbehave.

the written word

strange how
misunderstood
the written
word can be.
lacking inflection
or the wink
and nod, the slight
of hand or
heart intended.
friends get
lost that
way, this way
in which we
speak in these
fast and furious
times on
small phones
with short cut
words and vague
meaning that
have no patience
for delay. long
gone is the
knock on the door,
the one phone
in the kitchen
ringing, with
one voice and
a reason to say
hello. in
the far past
is the letter
thought through,
with hand against
paper, pressing,
heartfelt and
written.

after the green

each yellow leaf
round, and falling
towards the ground
it's green life
spent, now sent
to the next life
where it will do
more good, however
unseen. and you'd
like to believe
that your life
also has more to it,
more meaning,
way after the green.

the right lane

while i drive away,
with coffee,
quietly moving along
in the right lane,
letting those who need
to be where they are going
faster, and the radio
is on low, the windows
down on this fine fall
day, and i have
the kiss of you still on
my lips, the touch of
you on my shoulders,
i am amazed at the wonder
of it all. savoring what
this is, and who you are
for however long it lasts.

patience

you want to own
the patience that
trees possess. you
want to wait and
grow, and be still
except when the
stream rises, the
winds blow, and at
times it's hard
wanting the seasons
to change before
it's time, but you
are rooted and strong,
and unmoving through
it all. this is what
you strive for as
you try to understand
the love you have
within. you accept
the day as well
as night as being
what it should be.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

only five bucks

i opened up
a small shop
on king street
for which to
disperse my fine
tuned wisdom
on a daily basis.
i've learned
what i know from
reading and
meditating with
the great minds
of today, like
my friend jimmy.
five bucks a pop.
you get two
minutes to rant
and rail about
your condition,
your problem,
your love life,
your job, or
kids, or dogs
or finances,
and then you'll
give me five
dollars, cash,
which i will
take as you slide
it under the
shatter proof
glass window,
like they have
at the bank
and then i will
give you your
words of wisdom.
which will go as
follows. let it
go, go home,
and get some
rest, quit eating
and drinking so
much, and suck
it up, quit
be such a big
baby. you're
not the only
one in the world
with problems.
get over yourself.
stop whatever
you are doing,
it's making it
worse and do
nothing. of course
all of those
things are easier
said than done.
i know from
personal experience,
but hey, it's
only five bucks.
what did you
expect?

strip and paint

the seams
are split
and brittle
and won't
lie down again
despite
the paste,
the prodding
the smoothing
of them with
a stiff blade
and roller.
there is
nothing you
can do, and
she looks at
you with
a look of
despair, the
look you get
when there
is nothing
one can do.
but i love
this paper she
says, tears
in her eyes.
i'm sorry i tell
her. the only
thing you can
do at this point
is strip and
paint. some
worlds are
that small.

black cat

the black cat
outside my
window, is
loud with it's
meow. she wants
me to come out
to cross my
path. but
i shoo her
away. i don't
need any of
that. she
doesn't leave
though,
so i pour her
a bowl of
milk and set
it on the porch
and deal
with her in
that kind way.

work

the days pile
up on top of one
another at times
and it's hard to
breathe, the work
keeps coming,
thankfully, but
you feel over
whelmed and tired.
you want to lie
down somewhere
and let someone
else take over
for awhile, but
then you loose
this notion when
the phone rings
and you quickly
hop up to get
back to it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

the peach

she takes
the yellow peach
into her
pink hands
and turns it
slowly over
under a stream
of cold water.
she rubs it
gently as it
tumbles
on her fingers.
it's soft and
and ripe
and ready.
she pulls the
stem out
with a twist,
then dries the
piece of fruit
with a paper towel.
she is as careful
and as kind
as one can be with
a peach, then
she sets it
on the cutting
board and eases
a sharp knife
down the middle
until it hits
the hard seed,
then cuts
the other way
and once more,
until the peach
falls apart
in clean,
neat slices.
she puts them
on a plate
in a cirle,
like a flower,
and slides them
to me and says.
here you go
honey. enjoy.
and i tell her
as i take the
first sweet bite,
the life of
the peach going
down off my lips
onto my chin, i
tell her,
thank you sweet
girl. i love
you too.

in the moment

i go to sleep
thinking of
breakfast. i wake
up and think
about lunch,
at lunch my
mind wanders
towards dinner.
i seem to be a
few hours ahead
of myself.
sometimes it's
just damn
hard to live
in the moment.

coffee and paper

she lifts her
leg up and crosses
it, she sips her
morning coffee
and looks over
the top of the
newspaper to see
me staring at
her once again.
which makes her
roll her eyes,
and shake her
head. i laugh
and look away,
but i can't help
myself and will
be back for more.

firewood

there is a knock
at the door and
i can hear the rumbling
of an old ford
pick up truck out
in the street. a woman
is in the driver's
seat, smoking a
cigarette while
she stares at her
phone pressing
letters and numbers.
the bed of the truck
is tilted low,
stacked with cords
of freshly cut wood,
and i open the storm
door and the man, his
hands black from bark,
his hat soiled with sweat
says loudly, red
eyed, asks if i would
like some fireplace
wood, but i tell him
i don't have a
fireplace, and then
he quotes me a price,
are you sure you don't
want any. it's a really
good price, and i
repeat, but i don't
have a fireplace
and he says that
they will be back
this way on saturday
if i change my mind.
okay, i tell him.
i'll think about it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

let it rain

i've been choosing
lately to lay down
the weapons. the mental
fists of fighting
battles that have
little or no meaning.
the traffic, the line
at the bank, the
store clerk, the
client who can't
be pleased, the coffee
made wrong, telemarketers,
and siblings.
the broken shoe lace
and the flat tire.
let it rain, let it
rain and let it rain.
even let yourself get
wet, but then move on.

jobs

having lost
many jobs for
many reasons,
it never stopped
me from taking
another clock
punching job,
there was always
this little thing
called money,
and paying
the bills that
kept me putting
on a happy face
a clean shirt
and tie, and
a pair of shined
shoes to go
get it, but
most fell apart
like cookies
in milk, crumbing
into nothing
to the bottom
of a cup i
never wanted
to drink from
because i was
bored, or was
looking past
them to something
else. and what
that something else
was, i was
never quite sure,
but maybe, just
maybe, it was
this.

distance

late into this
autumn night
i hear you whisper
across the miles.
i see you lying
there with the
windows open, the
sheets cool
against your skin.
i listen to
the voice within
you as you drift
off into dream
before the next
day begins. it's
a closeness
that defies
distance.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

blue skies

the tall blue
sky with clouds
like mountains
as far and deep
as one would expect
a heaven to be
surrounds you
with a meaning
you aren't quite
sure of, but it's
there, somewhere
below the surface
of your day, between
the things you
need to get done,
you realize
that there is more,
alot more, but
there isn't time,
or much you can
do about it at
the moment. the sky
will have to just
be, and you'll
get to it sooner
or later.

Friday, September 10, 2010

come home

she would water the
small plant on
on the kitchen
window sill that was
always leaning
for more light,
with the window open,
the curtains pulled
back and she
would peel potatoes
in the sink
while the kids ran
and played ball in
the street, and she
would turn on the stove
and bake the chicken,
boil the vegetables,
she'd set the table,
smoothing out the old
table cloth, a plate
of bread in the center,
some butter, salt and
pepper, then she'd
go back to the window,
looking up and down
the street, looking
for his car, to see
him in his uniform
coming home from work,
but he wasn't there,
he rarely was,
and when she couldn't
wait any longer she'd
go to the door with
tears in her eyes and
yell out to the kids
that dinner was ready.
come in. now. come in.
it's on the table.
come home.

the deal is done

what are your
intentions with
my daughter, her
father says to me
while i sit on
the livingroom
couch that is wrapped
tight in thick
relfective plastic.
my sweaty hands
are trembling
and sticking to
the cushions also
sealed in plastic.
of course
i can't really
tell him the truth.
my intentions are
mostly the same as
any twenty one
year old healthy
male. lots and
lots of sex around
the clock. but i
can't tell him that.
so instead i tell
him that i love
her and want her
to be my wife, and
that when i get a
halfway decent job
or finish school, well,
i'll take care of her.
maybe even raise a
family. which is
the furthest thing
from mind at the moment.
he takes a sip
of his jack daniels,
then punches his cigarette
out into a brown glass
ashtray that is full
of butts. he stares
down at his current
issue of playboy magazine
in his lap, then rubs
the gristle on his
chin. okay, he says,
you have my permission.
he feels at this point
that it's a stand up
moment, so we both
stand up, and he looks
me in the eye.
he grabs my hand
and squeezes it like
a vice, but i
somehow manage to not
cry out like a little
schoolgirl but grimace,
which sort of looks
like a smile.
don't hurt my girl,
he says, wagging his
thick italian finger
in my flush and lineless
face, she's my
baby, got that buddy.
sure, i say. sure.
and the deal is done.

go fast

climb in she says.
let's go for a ride.
but where to, i ask,
and she smiles, does
it matter. not really,
i tell her. not really.
but i buckle up just
the same and
brace myself, i see
that look in her eye,
and feel the engine
tremble as her foot
slides of the brake
and we accelerate
onto the moonlit
highway.

beauty has a price

the tree was
hard to take down.
but he took
a saw and went
after it low
on the trunk.
on his knees,
his hands red
and raw, while
he worked
up a sweat.
a crowd of curious
neighbors came
over to watch,
shaking their
heads,
wondering why
he was cutting
down the most
beautiful tree
on the street.
it wasn't rotted,
or sick, or in
danger of falling,
and when asked
why, he just said,
i'm tired of
every year having
to rake those
leaves.

listening

she liked to put
her ear up to the
wall and listen
to the neighbors.
sometimes they were
making love and
she could hear
their bed bang against
the wall, and the springs
squeak as they
went at it, her moaning
loudly, and him as
quiet as the dark trees
outside and other
times she'd hear
them argue, hear them
say horrible things
to one another, giving
each other an ultimatium
about who would leave
if things weren't
fixed. and why
they didn't love
each other anymore.
and then there were
times of silence, or
she could hear the tv
on low, as she thought
they must be reading, or
lying there with the
lights on, not talking.
but she still listened.
and she wondered when
her life would be
listened to as well.

retirement

the man sat on the
park bench bathing
in the sun,
his hat tilted back so
as to let the rays
warm his face. a cigar
was in one hand, held
lightly between two
fingers, but he didn't
feel like lighting it,
he was aware though
of it's weight, it's
length, it being there,
like a prop of sorts.
he liked to sit there
during lunch hour, when
the buildings would empty
and people would bring
their sandwiches out
to sit on the grass
and eat. the cool fall
breeze made everything
and everyone feel good,
and there was a calmness
about the park, about
the lovers who would
meet there too, and hold
hands briefly, or
find a shady tree to
hold each other and
whisper to one another.
and the man watched it all,
apart from it, as if he
was an audience and they
were all playing roles
in a world he was no
longer involved with.

lunch time

she says to me,
i'll never get
married again.
not ever. i'm done
with marriage, i
mean why have
a business contract
for an emotion,
in fact i'm sick
of love. i don't
even know what love
is anymore. i've
been lied to so
many times, cheated
on and left hung
out to dry that
i've lost my faith
in men. all of them,
the handsome ones,
the plain ones,
rich and famous,
who cares. i take
it one day at a
time now. one day
at a time.
she then looked at
me and waited for
my response. and i
said, hey, i'm
starving, let's go
grab some lunch,
okay?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

almost home

with his thin
black hair combed back,
held down by a palm
full of brylcreem,
the small boy
on the bus, fidgeting
in his seat sucking
on a fat red
lollipop, putting
his sticky fingers
on the hard tinted
glass windows,
pointed up at the
sky, his terrible
blue eyes gleaming
in the light, and
said to his mother,
the sky sure looks
religious today,
don't it momma.
and she turned
her shoulder when
he tapped her with
the lollipop, lifting
her wide brimmed
hat that she bought
just for church, she
leaned towards
the window into
the sunlight where
he was looking and
said, my o my,
junior, you are so
right, just look at
those clouds,
it certanly does
look like Jesus
had something to do
with that sky today,
don't it. now sit
back down before this
bus jolts to a stop
and sends you flying
across the bus
through a window.
she tapped him on
the head with her
hymnal and said, just
be still boy,
we're almost home.

subject matter

they can't all
be love poems, or
sad notes, or
lines etched
about heart ache
or heart break.
they can't all
be about her,
or you, or them,
or someone from
the past that
lingers like a
sticky cobweb
in the corner of
my mind. no.
they can't all
be about that,
sometimes you have
to deviate and write
about something
entirely different.
like, like...
well, give me
a moment or two,
something will
come up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

pumpkin pie

she is against
pumpkin pie.
and is dead
serious
about her
dislike. in
fact she said
that lips
that touch
that spicy
slice will
not touch hers,
not ever,
but i hope
she lies.

beauty

stones, blue
and solid,
white quartz
immedded
along
the bent
creek. they
have been there
for as long
as i have
stepped
down the slippery
side hill in
tears
and sorrow.
and i wonder
why i choose
those times
to visit a
place so
quiet and
beautiful and
not now, when
my heart is full
of joy.

alley cat

there is one
alley cat, that
i'm fond of.
she's lean
and black with
a fluff of white
beneath her
chin. she roams
between the
narrow passageways
looking for scraps,
for mice, for
an open window
to which she can
slide in.
and when she
sees me with my
hand out, with a
piece of fish,
or cheese,
she lets out a
song of meows
that echos off
the wet cobbled
stones and bricks
she calls home.

gardening

she is slower
now, up the steps,
down the steps to
water the flowers,
tend to the pots
on the back deck,
tilting the hanging
plants to give
them a spray.
it's her knees,
her back, the joints
don't heat up
like they used to.
but she finds a
spot where she
can let the sun
touch her face,
and warm her while
she digs, and
weeds her way
through another
year, her ninth
decade. so many
years of tending
flowers, and watering
her children.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

flying

when i first
learned to fly,
i never told
anyone. i'd hide
the talent
safely, keeping
my flying
abilities to
myself. but at
night, when
the lights were
down, i'd take
a few running
steps and leap
into the air,
gliding high
or low, gently
soaring across
the land. i
wanted to be
loved not for
that, but for
who i was, and
then i realized
that flying
was a part of me
too, and now
everyone knows
and i have nothing
left to hide.
i'm free to fly.

gold

you go to the stream,
alone with your pan.
you kneel beside the cold
sleeve of water, and dip
it in to catch the flow
that springs from
the mountain, and
you shake it free of
sand, of pebbles and
grey stones, looking
for that tiny glimmer
of gold, that makes
the years of searching
all worthwhile.

Monday, September 6, 2010

as the train slides
along that silver
track, racing through
the woods, the scattered
trees, she blows
her whistle, once,
then twice and three.
it's a loud pull,
and i can here it from
here every night right
before i fall asleep. i
think about those
aboard going somewhere
north, to a city,
to a dream, as i travel
in my own way.

risk

you think you know
sometimes who you
are, who you think
you may be, but then
you surprise yourself
when you step outside
the lines that you've
carefully etched into
the borders that contain
your life and you
wonder what took
you so long to take
a chance, to risk
so little to gain
so much.

dreams

i dream of blue.
of water. of waves,
of me swimming
in the deepest
part of the ocean.
i am surrounded
by the white crests
of waves as i
easily go from
stream to lake
to bay, and down
to the ocean where
i find myself
most happy. it's
a strange repeating
sort of dream,
and there is a
sense of danger,
of awe and wonder,
and when i awaken
i am stunned by
how real it all
seemed.

car alarm

at three a.m.
a car alarm goes
off in the courtyard
where i live.
i peek out the
window to see
the flashing lights
and not a soul
around. it's not
my car and there
is nothing you can
do, but listen
to the loud blaring
horn blast over
and over again.
then it stops,
then it starts all
over again. no
one cares. they
want the car to
be stolen, and
driven off to
someplace so that
we can all go back
to sleep.

house hunting

the house needed
work, the agent
said, smiling,
standing there
in her bright yellow
jacket, round and
small like a fat
canary in a cage.
some carpet, some
paint, new appliances,
a roof, some land
scaping perhaps, but
i've got a guy for
that, so don't worry,
you'll love
him. but overall,
except for the lack
of closet space and
the leaky basement
and the neighbors
with the pit
bull, and a couple
of pesky squirrels
in the attic, it's
a wonderful
cream puff of a
house that you'll
love for years
and years to come.
if you like to do
handy man work, she
said, looking at me,
and what real man
doesn't, well
put on your tool
belt cowboy and
saddle up. you'll
have weekend projects
until the cows
come home. i looked
at her and shook
my head. nope.
what else you got?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

flounder

while fishing the
other day, knee deep
in the river, kicking
away beer cans floating
by and the occasional
bald tire and oil cans,
i thought about how
beautiful those little
oily rainbow sheens
were on the water.
it didn't matter that
i had nothing on
the line, that most
of the fish were
sleeping or too busy
and full to bother
with my cut in half
blood worm. none of
that mattered, it
was the beauty of the
sport that enraptured
me let me stand there
stuck ankle deep in
the silt mud for at
least another ten
minutes or so before
going home, and stopping
by safeway to pick
up some flounder filets.

walmart

there was a sale on
at walmart for
those giant bags of
marshmallow peanuts,
so i bought two. i
ate one and made a nice
lamp out of the other
one. they are a pale
orange, nothing
in nature quite has
that same color. they
are fluffy but hard,
tastless expcept
for possessing
an over whemlingly
tooth hurting
sweetness. tomorrow
i'm going back for
a five pound jar of
mixed nuts, shopping
makes me happy.

hot sauce

the more spicy
the better, throw
in those chili
peppers, those
jalepenos, the
brazen hot
sauce, red
and tangy in
the little
skinny bottle
with a sombrero.
spice it up,
make it hot,
whip me up a
five alarm dish
make me sweat
until it trickles
off my brow.
show me what
you got girl.

great falls

when you get close
to the river, go through
the bramble, up
over a worn dirt trail
and begin to hear that
muffled roar of water
falling, spilling,
crashing into
granite rocks, like
sharpened steel set
down a millenium or so
ago, you realize the
power of this world,
how nature has it's
way with all of us,
the water choosing
it's own true course.

open windows

the night air
is a cool kiss
upon the skin
with the windows
open on this
starlit night.
sleep is a deep
cool drink
of dreams,
refreshing to
the core.

california

when i was eighteen
i was about to take
a road trip by car
to california, LA
to be exact to visit
a girl i had met here
visiting the east
coast. she was all
that with the tan,
the long beach hair,
a free spirit with
laughter in her eyes.
so my friends and i
got ready, packed
the car to journey
across the country to
california, where
our lives would change
forever, to a place we'd
never leave, but
the car broke down
in baltimore and
we never made it.
and the girl disappeared,
joined a commune in
israel, and life went
on. but i still feel
that i'm about to
take that trip,
to take that journey,
my own personal exodus
to a place in my
imagination my own
personal california.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

socks

i am amazed
at how many socks
i have. two
drawers full.
every shade of
black that exists
in the universe
fill one drawer
and some stray
brown socks that
i never wear.
and in the other
drawer are white
socks, athletic
socks. a snowy
mountaint of cotton
socks of every
make and style.
i need to be
stopped. therapy
might be helpful.

a new dog

i'm pondering
a new dog,
a brand new
pup to bark
and bite and
wrestle with.
an infant of
sorts, but
with hair
and a tail,
four legs
and a cold
nose, and a
need for chasing
squirrels. a
dog to call
my own, beside
me. ahhh, but
this too
shall pass.
i'd love him
too much to
leave him so
often, all
alone.

birthdays

birthdays
come and go
faster now,
the candles
can't keep
up and a
fire extinguisher
is kept nearby
just in case
the place goes
up in flames
from so many
stuck into
the icing.
some like
the big celebration,
with everyone
they ever knew
in attendance,
they like
the birthday week,
or month, the
single day won't
do and others,
like me, just
need a nice
slice of cake
a kiss or two or
three, having
all the things
they ever really
want or need.

the paper route

when i was a kid
working for the
washington post
delivering newspapers
i had a dog and
a cat that would
follow me on the route
except when the
weather was extreme
and they'd both stand
at the door looking
out at the rain
or snow, or a cold
fierce wind and nod
no. we're not going
with you, so off i went
alone. but when they
did come, the dog
would stick close
to the wagon, stopping
at every stop, while
the cat stayed twenty
yards behind pretending
that she didn't care,
that she wasn't
a part of this dog,
cat, boy bonding
experience and strangely
i respected her for that.

the cupcake diet

i am on a strict
diet of cupcakes
this month. and there
are so many new
gourmet stores from
which to choose
to buy your tiny
little three dollar
palm sized cup of
cake. five a day
is my limit though
my stretch pants can
expand only so far.
people are always
asking me what's
on my shirt, or
on my pants, or still
stuck to my chin
or cheek, invariably
it's icing. chocolate,
cream cheese, velvet
strawberry and smooth
vanilla mocha. i've
been told that i have
cupcake breath, and
it doesn't bother me
one little bit.

putting on the brakes

i used to ask
her why she speeded
up when coming to
a red light or a stop
sign, why not slow
down and ease to a
stop instead of
jarring everyone's
neck in the car and
spilling coffee
everywhere with a
sudden slamming
of the brakes. and
she looked at me
as if i was trying
to explain the theory
of relativity in
chinese. i don't know
what you're talking
about, she said, and
stomped on the pedal
towards the next red
light. and this
was a very important
moment in our marriage.
call it a turning
point, if you will.

stay in your lane

the tunnel dips
down into the soft
earth going under
and under further,
then into water
where you are sub
merged without
natural light and
everything slows
down, the road grows
narrow, the radio
dies. you crawl
with headlights on,
for miles, trying
hard to keep a
distance between
you and others, staying
safely in your lane.
and then you see
the vague sheen
of sunlight as you
rise out of the
darkness and hit
the pedal towards home.

Friday, September 3, 2010

cowboy

my cowboy days
were short lived.
i hated camping out,
preferring the hotel
nearby, and i'm
not fond
of livestock of
any kind unless
it's cooking on
a grill. my shirt
was too tight,
and my bolo tie
often swung around
and hit me in
the eye when i
was bucking broncos.
cowboy, nah. i
don't think so.

love

riding the new york
city subway one night
a few years ago,
across from me sat
a man in a long
black coat with a white
silk scarf around him,
he was heading into town
for a show perhaps, or
a gallery opening, he
appeared to be in his
seventies. there was
a pleasant smile on
his lined face and
you could feel a serene
sense of dignity
about him, a poetic soul
who was patient with
the crowd, the train,
the time, and he stared
at the woman who sat next
to me, of his age, whom
he boarded the train
with, but because of
the crowd they sat across
from one another in the only
open seats. he smiled
at her, and nodded as
the train moved through
the tunnels beneath the
city, the lights flickering
and the wheels clanking
along, and you couldn't
help but wonder how many
times they had done this.
and i could see their
matching rings, and
their silent conversation
broke my heart with joy.
and when the train came
to their stop, without
a word, they both stood
up, held hands and
went off into the night.
i want that.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

you are mistaken

in case you are
confused, please
don't assume that
my niceness equals
weakness, in fact,
quite the opposite
is true. i have
found that the
angry, the bitter,
the ungrateful
are the ones with
no heart muscle,
no joy or fun, or
real strength
in their lives.
and not having
a kind bone
in their body,
they crumble
under the light
feathery weight
of love, with no
legs to stand on.

in bed by eleven

i'm no longer
getting home late.
coming in the back
door, tip toeing
through the
living room with
my shoes in hand.
i'm no longer
dousing the lights
of the car, and
turning the engine
off as i roll up
to the house, with
a bag of empty
bottles, the sun
peaking up behind
the woods. nope.
not anymore. i'm
done by eleven
these days, tucked
safe in bed
with a good book,
well except for when
you're around.

joy

there is a resounding
echo of joy around
each town, each neighbor
hood. you can hear the
unanimous sigh of relief
as husbands and wives
throw their arms into
the air on this sweet
september morning as
the doors close tight
on the yellow buses
full of children all
heading off to school
for long another year.

look both ways

there are storms
and then there
are storms.
the one i'm
talking about here
has nothing to
do with the weather,
nothing to do
with snow or rain,
or hailstorms
rattling your
cage, no what
i'm talking
about here lies
deep within. it's
the worst kind
of storm, this
one that she
has, and carries
with her without
end, it's a dark
and dangerous as
all the other ones
combined. beware.
look both ways
before crossing her.

shaving

i'm lathering
my face.
a deep soapy
foam before i
shave. the razor
is sharp as
i wait for the
wetness to
soften my skin.
the mirror of
me is calm and
reflective, happy
in the moment
of knowing that
i have you
in my life
and that soon
your smooth
cheek will touch
mine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

september

the trees
outside my
window
don't quite
know what
to make of
this heat
in this new
month, this
strange
and warm
passion,
so close to
fall,
and neither
do i.