Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's resolutions

find joy and
prosperity,
inner peace,
and contentment.
self knowledge
and direction.
live with
compassion
and forgiveness.
be thankful
and give.
have an open
heart, an open
hand, an
open mind
towards others.
be kind and
show
forgiveness.
love, and
pray without
ceasing.

you look marvelous

i saw you bent
over a garbage
can in your cute
black dress the
other night, new
year's eve. you
were sick with
drinking too much,
and stuffing too
many shrimp and
rubbery wads of
calamari into
your laughing
mouth. chewing
might be a good
idea next time.
but you had on very
nice heels, quite
sexy and a pearl
necklace that
dangled seductively
down the front.
i see you even had
your hair done.
very nice. you
looked great, except
for the wretching
and groaning part
over the mouth of
that giant trashcan
in the alley.
and being pale
and sort of green.
happy new year.

ecology 101

recycle this
you tell her
in a not so
pleasant way,
as she holds
the empty blue bin
out and reprimands
you for not
separating the
tin from the plastic
the paper from
the garbage, etc.
etc.. i remember
my father pouring
motor oil down
the sewer drain,
i tell her,
i'd never do that.
i never litter
either, i don't
even open a gum
wrapper without
disposing of it
properly, not once
have i thrown out
the car window an
empty box of junior
mints, so don't
get all self
righteous on me
with your ecology
religion and your
recycling crusade.
i was at the first
freaking earth day,
for god's sake.
geez marie. she
starts to laugh
and puts the blue
bin down and throws
in an empty grey
goose bottle. what
is wrong with you
anyway, she says.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

they hate you

you have no
money. your pockets
are empty, so
you make a sign
and go out to
the road, where
the others are.
they begrudgingly
give you room,
they disdain you
though, in your
brown loafers
and black over
coat. your white
silk scarf blows
dramatically in
the breeze from
cars rushing by.
you are wearing
a nice watch too
and carrying a
cup of coffee
from starbucks.
a grande extra
hot no foam
soy latte. you are
not one of them,
but you have a
sign, you have a
family at home,
or so you lie and
tell them. you
leave out the part
about your skills,
your education,
your ability to
sing and dance.
but they see
through you just
the same. they know
that you are a
fool, unlike them.
so unlike them.
they shake their
heads as you pass,
taking turns for
the first car at
each red light.
they hate you
and yet they wish
that they had
coffee too.

the worried wife

this cat, this
cat again.
married too
long, settled
not in his
ways, but
into the yarn,
batting at
the bird cage,
who is no
friend. he is
restless, and
full of wonder.
in full hot
purr to get
out, to get in,
to play roulette
with what's out
there. you
remind me so
much of him.

vulture

her teeth are
in me, my blood
runs from her painted
lips. i am limp
and white, she
circles me like a
vulture from high
above, swooping
down with black
wings, with sharp
talons. her teeth
are in me. i have
no fight left to
give. my wounds are
beyond healing. my
faith is fading
in what is wrong
and what is right.

go slow

unwind this clock
slow it down to a
tick, to small almost
whispering tocks.
turn the hourglass
back over, let the
sand start again
to fall, don't grow
old, don't fade,
don't disappear
into memory, that
isn't much to ask,
to let time and
yesterday, go by
with a slow,
slow crawl.

grocery list

you have no
food in the house,
but you keep
returning to
the icebox to
check anyway.
it's cold breath
exhales on you
with a sigh
of no. still
nothing.
so you make a
list of things
you want, and
need, before you
go. you put
love at the top
of the list.
in fact it heads
the list in bold
black letters,
it's the title
of your list. love.
and then milk
and bread,
eggs and oranges.
potato chips. you
put down shampoo,
but quickly cross
that off, then
write oatmeal,
those little dark
chocolate espresso
beans, lettuce.
and a few other
things, that
don't beat, or
bleed.

the pink bottle

i know what
i like, and
it's not indian
food, mongolian,
or thai,
okay, i'll give
thai a try if
it's spicy and
fried, but no
ethiopian, or
indonesian, or
croation grub
for me. nah.
it's not that
i'm not adventurous
in a culinary
sense, it's just
that i know what
i like, and when
i'm hungry and
starving, i don't
want to take a
pepto bismol
chance.

upgrade

she says,
with her legs
crossed and
a pleasant smile
radiating with
sunsine on
her face, she
sees good
at the end
of every road,
she says. steve.
trust me on this
you need to
upgrade. it's
time. choose
more wisely.
be gentle, be
compassionate,
be kind, but
guard your heart
until you are
sure and ready
and repeat after
me, don't
compromise.
don't compromise.
don't compromise.

party girl

with your pointed
party hat on,
askew, and your
smile littered
with booze, so
soon, so long before
the clock ticks
twelve, checking
your phone, your
your shoes, your
new blouse torn
seeing who
in the mirror,
almost you, almost
blue. holding
the whistle horn
in your hand, with
friends around,
moving side to
side as if on
a wobbly ship,
waiting, waiting
for ball to drop,
for the band to
play, for someone,
anyone, to kiss you
and tell you that
next year will
be just fine, that
everything will
be okay.

trust me

make a left
at the light.
ignore the one
way sign. the no
turn arrow, just
run the red,
if you have
to. the green
takes so long.
trust me. avoid
the cars honking
at you, coming
towards you
with their
headlights on,
flashing their
highbeams.
you are fine.
trust me.
keep driving.
slowly though.
make a right
into the alley.
yes. the dark
alley, where
it's tight and
narrow, where
there are strangers
lurking in
the shadows, once
again trust me.
i know what
i'm saying sounds
crazy. but
you'll be
fine, you'll be
just fine. i'd
never steer you
wrong. now
park, and get
out and come up
the fire escape.
don't use the front
door, no one comes
in that way
anymore. trust
me. this is just
the beginning.
you won't be
disappointed.
trust me.

lie still for a moment

it's a surgical
cut at this point.
clean and deep,
and exact. it's
benign, relax.
it's removed.
no one dies
after all. let
me hold it up
to the astringent
neon light. see.
all better now.
now go home and
pull up a chair
to the moon, to
the stars, drink
your fill, and
start again
tomorrow on
that next chapter.

white balloon

this moon,
this bright
sliver
of stone,
like a cold
white heart
removed,
chipped and
bruised,
rises and
falls and
sits like
a child,
blank faced,
and holding
a fragile,
tethered
balloon
on the cold
front stoop.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vitamin V

you are getting
older. yes.
all parts of
you are getting
older, but i
digress. if
in fact you
choose to try
and enhance your
love making skills
by taking a
little blue pill,
and four hours
pass without
it subsiding,
i thought why
panic or bother
with calling
in a doctor,
why not just
call in the
rockettes.

time

the train is
moving fast. you
put your hand out
the window and feel
the wind of time.
you feel the sun
against your face,
you are still
young, but this too
will change. the
train is moving fast.
your son is beyond
your reach, he is
a man now, and has
his own life to tend
to. he loves you,
but things have
changed. things have
changed for the
good with so many
others too. the
train is moving fast.
you see your parents
lie down where they
will be when it's
time. they acknowledge
you without words
in the shadow
of the gleaming track.
you see those that you
love out the window.
they are on the
platform, with their
hands in their coats,
they are smiling,
they are happy to
have known you and you
wave, and wave until
your arms are heavy.
you want to yell out
to everyone that things
will be fine, don't
worry. but the
train is moving fast.

dark heart

from the dark
heart of somewhere,
maybe in a dream,
the gales have taken
down trees in
a violent stretch
of night, while
the rain fell, and
you reached across
the bed for someone
who wasn't there.
and dogs howled
in the distance.
and an ambulance
gave chase down a
blackened street.
and the sun tried
to pull away the clouds,
the bruised blue
land of sky that
refused to yield,
what has come is not
over, more trees need
to rise from their
entrenched selves,
to thunder down, to
be uprooted from
deep within their
longing to live,
and fall, and fall
and be done,
and lie across
the ragged sleeve
of stream, until more
time and the push
of high water
takes even that away.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

the letter

the black clawed
scrawl of your
letter, in old
ink, smeared wet,
under tears, perhaps,
or a drink spilled.
and i smell the
ashes of your
cigarette caught
up in the folds
before you sent
it out with the
morning mail. and
how you wait
and wait for a
reply while i stand
in the window,
in sunlight, pleased
to be done
with you, and to
be holding this
letter as further
proof of our love's
demise. write more
often. i need to
know the pain
that you are under.

in the rain

two a.m.
is not a time
to be walking
around town
in the rain,
in these worn
shoes, and
battered hat.
there are alot
of dark and
dangerous
shadows moving
about. my overcoat
is soaked down
to my skin.
my watch has
stopped at
midnight, and
the trains
aren't running.
i can walk
a ways. find
a diner open
all night. i
can make small
talk with the
waitress in her
pink dress, as
skinny and lonely
as the lamp post
that lights my
way. i can
read yesterday's
newspaper,
i can befriend
that dog in the
alley shivering
with his head
in a can,
gnawing on bone
that will choke
him dead before
dawn. or i can
just keep
walking, walking.
in the rain.

grand canyon

your family
calls you out of
the blue, they
ask you if you'd
like to go to
the grand canyon
with them this
summer. a family
outing. a reunion
of sorts. bonding,
that sort of thing.
you hesitate. you
shift your feet
while standing
in the kitchen
with the refrigerator
door wide open. it's
deep and wide, you
can almost hear
your voice echo
when you say, oh my.
you feel the cold
wrap around your
bare legs. you
see a ketchup bottle,
and mustard.
pizza poorly wrapped
in foil. vodka.
a thin bottle
of green olives
afloat on the side
door. there's
an orange
with a blue green
bruise on it's
now flat side.
you tell your sister
no, perhaps next year.

your hands

your hands
have provided
for you. you admire
their selflessness.
they have not failed
you in anyway
throughout your
life. you take
them for granted
that they will
always be there.
always ready to
help you throughout
the day, or night.
you are amazed at
how they heal
after being abused
by you, by being
cut or blistered,
or sore from
the lifting and
work that makes
your day. they
withstand the heat
and frigid air that
you expose them to.
your hands ask
for nothing in
return. you wish
that you could be
more like they are.

the gold necklace

you tell her
that you'll never
leave her. you say
this while folding
your shirts and
placing them into
a suitcase that
lies on the bed.
you tell her that
you'll never betray
her, that your
loyalty is without
measure. you slip
a gold necklace
deep within
the pocket of
your folded pants
before you close
the suitcase. you
tell her that you
love her and that
your love is the
love of poets, of
kings, of men who
go to war, holding
the hope of coming
home alive and
unwounded. these
words are dry as bones,
as the ashes of bones
in your mouth, you
can taste how bitter
they are. and you
wonder how did you
create such a world
as this, but you can't
stop your self. you
tell her that she looks
beautiful and kiss
her on the lips
before you go out
to a waiting cab.
you tell her
that you'll call
the moment you
get there, you tell
her that she is
the only one.

I'm so so sorry

before we begin
this relationship,
let me apologize
in advance for
all the stupid things
i'm about to do, or
say, or will forget
to do, or won't have
the knowledge or skills
to do in order
to make you happy.
i'm just going to
write it down on a
sheet of paper.
i'm sorry, followed
by fill in the blanks,
and when i don't live
up to your high or
even low standards,
just fill in the
appropriate grievance,
and i'll initial it
and date it. and there
you go. you'll have
my apoogies right
there in front of you.
i think this will
keep the peace and
keep us together
for at least a few
weeks or so. maybe
even a month, how
sweet would that be.

i'll call, really, i promise

i've got your
number. it's right
here on a napkin.
i was eating
chow mein when i
took it down, so
there's one number
that's a little
greasy and smeared
with fried rice.
those egg rolls
were dripping with
oil. it could
be a three, or it
could be an eight.
in fact there are
a couple of fuzzy
numbers.hmmm.
i'll try both, but
later, i promise,
when i get some
time. i've
got these socks
that need ironing,
and the dog needs
a bath, and someone's
at the door. but
i'll call, i promise,
i'm really really
interested. don't
let this slight
delay fool you. i'm
on top of things.
i think we'd make
a sharp couple.
you and me. this
could really work.
talk later. okay?

lemonade

there are no
mistakes,
or miscues,
or wrong turns.
nothing you
have done has
not had reason.
not one person
you have met has
not had a good
consequence
upon your life.
you'll never
take the wrong
road, or marry
the wrong
person, or
take the wrong
job, despite
how bad things
may seem. all
is towards good,
if you surrender,
trust and believe.

Monday, December 27, 2010

the third and final marriage

my third and final
marriage will be the one
to watch. the one to
set the standard of being
in love happily ever
after. you'll see.
i haven't gone out on
four thousand and sixty
seven dates for nothing.
i've learned alot
in these last ten years,
such as, never ever
date married women,
or pregnant women, or
women with their wedding
pictures still up on
the wall. or no job.
watch out for 'the lady
in red', or the one
who wants to come to
your house carrying a
six pack of bud in
a rose embroidered dress,
be careful with the tattooed
ones, or the ones with
piercings who look like
their faces fell into
a tackle box of hooks,
lines and sinkers,
be leary of those with
no money, no time, no
energy or who have never
read a book, and a rash
that comes and goes,
or women with the jimmy
leg, or women with one
arm shorter than the
other. don't go out
with blind women in
ohio, or women with
a bad case of psoriasis,
or women whose husbands
are sleeping on the couch
in the basement. don't
date women with money
problems, or who need
constant mental health
care, or women with more
than two cats, or two
dogs. stay away from
the women who are sex
phone operators with
seven kids from three
different husbands,
or who have a blackberry
glued to their hand and
have to pee every ten
minutes, or the ones
who who wear baby blue
jump suits with zipppers
down the back. don't date
women who are prison
guards and carry a gun
in their purse. or women
without a car, or who
can't or won't drive at
night, or women who
knit things to hang
on the wall. steer
clear of the women
with names like brandy,
or bambi, or candy,
or mandy who say they
love you on the very first
date. or who send
you pictures of themselves
jumping naked on a bed.
i'm just saying.
be careful out there.
it's a jungle. it's a
madhouse, but when my
ship comes in, i'm done.
i'll live forever in
marital bliss. can i
get an Amen on that?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

how are you?

you tell everyone
that everything
is fine. that your life
is in order. these
are the words you
need to say, to
go on with your day,
with your life. to
keep the conversation
pleasant and short.
no one wants to know
about illness, or death,
or a child in trouble,
or a broken pipe, or the
lack of money to make
ends meet this month,
or a looming divorce.
it's easier to just
say, that everything
is fine, and smile
and say merry
christmas and give a
kiss to the cheek,
then go on.
everything is fine.
just fine. and how
are you?

it's my party

you plan a party and
invite all of your
friends. three of
them can't make it,
but the fourth says
she'll try. but
she's the only
one that counts.
and you sweeten
the deal by telling
her that you love
her, but that only
makes her cringe,
and pull the phone
away from her ear.
she doesn't feel that
way about you, but
you don't care.
you want her to come,
there is awkward
silence on the other
end, so you lie to her.
you tell her that
she means nothing to
you, there has never
been any feelings
towards her, but
it's too late. she
has already changed
the maybe to a no in
her mind. you decide
that you need to find
more friends, better
friends and ones that
like you in return and
have more time. you
write this on a sheet
of paper of things
to do in the new year,
and tape it to the
refrigerator. but you
have the party anyway.
you have your dog,
you have chips,
and dip, you have wine
and shrimp neatly
arranged in a circle
in a large white bowl,
you put on a hat,
turn the lights down
and the music up,
you dance and dance,
while your dog watches
from the couch with
his hat on, chewing on
a plastic cup.

next on my list

let's take
down the tree
now, she says.
let's strip it
bare, remove
the bulbs, unravel
those lights
and pack it all
away. let's get
the tinsel up,
and the needles
vacuumed
that litter
the rug. let's be
done with it, okay?
and i stare at
her from across the
room in my new
bedroom slippers
and black socks,
holding my new
book on ten places
you'll never get
to before you die,
and say why, but
why now. it's only
the day after
christmas. and she
says, with her
hands on her hips,
when it's over
it's over.
and after the first
of the year, your
next on my list.

cat in the window

the cat
in the window,
curled warm
like a fire,
unstirred
by the white
snow that falls
like prayers
outside,
sleeps and
sleeps within
it's cat like
dream. she
is content,
like me,
with being in
a world where
nothing is
ever close to
what it seems.

the business section

a woman in
the coffee shop
approaches and asks
if she can read
my newspaper. she
is weeping to herself
or maybe it's the
cold air within her
eyes, she is alone,
and old, and is wearing
many layers of worn
clothes. her hands
are calloused
and dirty. i ask her
which section would
she like, and she
says, the business
section please, and
i'll give it back,
don't worry. i'll
return it before
you leave. but she
doesn't.

in good time

when the lights
go out, i am fine.
i can live
in the dark, i've
done so for many
years. i have
a candle or two handy
for such occasions.
and when the water
stops flowing i
am okay with that
too. i put a bucket
out the window when
it rains and it's
more than enough.
and when the heat
dies, i throw another
log onto the fire,
i place another
blanket on the bed,
i wear gloves and
socks and layer upon
layers of clothes
to keep me warm.
but when you
disappeared
without a note,
and the room went
silent, i had no
answer for that.
my survival skills
did not include
such a thing as
living my life
alone. but that
too shall be
taken care of in
good time.
i'm working on it,
as i always do.

pendulum

the pendulum of
you is such that
i've rarely seen
it stop and sit
still in the middle,
it's swing is
violent between
the ups and downs.
between the dark
and light of your
mind and mood.
you have no center,
no place to call
your own, no home,
or point of view
in which to stop
and breathe and
just be you. who
are you today,
dear girl.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

the dance hall

there is no music
coming from the hall.
although there once
was. and people would
dance, and fall in
love. but that was
a long time ago.
now the doors are
closed, the windows
boarded up, the people
who once came are old,
or gone. but in the
wood there are names,
etched with pen knives
on the rail,
of molly and sam,
of joan and joe, of
others who danced
the night away, and
the dates are inscribed
too. lightly in the
stained wood, so many
dancers that have come
and gone. and then
there's me and you.

turkey reprieve

i bought a live
turkey for christmas
and kept him in
the yard, feeding
him for weeks,
corn meal, and
other assorted grains
suggested by the local
turkey rancher, jimmy,
i think his name was.
but i fell in love
with the turkey.
the cooing and gobbling
became music to my
ears and i couldn't
kill him. i couldn't
bring the axe down
upon his long stringy
neck. it just wouldn't
be right. so i had
pizza instead and he
joined me at the table.

closed for the holidays

you turn
the sign over.
closed for
the holidays.
it's stapled
to your chest,
over where your
heart used to be.
and people stare,
but they don't
ask. they see
a look in your
eye that you
are not to be
fooled with.
they press their
faces to the
window, wanting
a part of you, but
you are truly
closed. you have
had enough of
love, the commerce
of affection.
no sales will
be transacted
during this
period of time
and you wave them
away with your
hand. you fold
your arms
and point to
the sign on
your chest and
shake your head,
no. i'm sorry,
you whisper
through the window,
but we're closed.

working like a dog

you tell others
that you have to
work on christmas
day. that you have
no choice, your job
and schedule demands
it. your employers
have no feelings
for you and your
plight. they will
give you money in
place of the time
that you forefit
in order to survive
in this world. you
know no other way.
you tell others
that you are working
like a dog, but
then change that.
your dog was an
emperor who never
lifted a paw in
order to please
or help you with
your day. your dog
owned you in ways
that embarass you
when pressed for
details about his
his life, his
command over yours.
you envy your dog,
the way he could
sleep through every
problem, his lack
of interest in the
world, the news,
whether good or bad,
he never lost weight
or a minute of
sleep over a dog
he fell in love with.
little ever fazed
him, or kept him
from eating. his love
for you was measured
by the food you
provided, by the lifting
of him onto the bed.
of you scratching
his belly until
he fell asleep. i
have never worked
like a dog, at least
not like the one
i had.

the wallet

you find a wallet,
it's full of money.
soft bills, large
in denominations.
there are credit
cards and papers
with phone numbers
on them. there is
a license. a man's
face, about your
age. there are photos
of his family. of
his children. his
wife. they look
happy. they look
like what you had
once, a long time
ago. you say the man's
name to yourself.
you could be him,
you think, perhaps
a mistake has been
made. perhaps it's
your wallet. you
put the wallet into
your coat pocket.
and you go to his
house to begin
your new life. you
are confident that
they will accept
you. you are full
of optimism that
his wife will greet
you at the door,
and kiss you, and
feed you, and make
love to you that
night. the children
will welcome you
home. even the dog
will jump into your
lap. your optimism
is amazing, but you
know that you are
mistaken and that
this will not turn
out good, but you
go anyway, you feel
you have no choice.

you awaken

in a bed that
is not your own.
the light is
different. you
were married
once, but she is
not with you,
there is someone
else beside you
now, sleeping. her
back is turned.
the color of
her shoulders
is golden, like
apples. she
smells like lilacs.
she is not
the one, but you
are here, with
her. you watch
as the new sun
rises and
empties the room
of shadow. you
have nothing new
to say. no words
can describe how
lost you are. but
you will say
something when
she awakens,
something that will
allow you to
come back again,
and again.

my new pony

thank you santa
for the new pony
that you left for me
this christmas
morning.
i don't know how
you got him into
the house last night,
but it woke me up
with his naying and
walking around in
those metal horseshoes.
he already had his
head inside the
cupboard eating sugar
cubes and oatmeal.
i hope those scuff
marks come out of
the floor, and those
stains from the rug.
it would have been
nice if you had tied
him up though. the
house is a mess. but
i'm grateful, really,
he's wonderful. i
think i'll call him
seabiscuit or rudolph,
it's a toss up right
now. thankfully i have
a snow shovel and a
bag of carrots.
he's already had a
couple of 'accidents'.
i've always wanted
a pony i could call
my own for as long as
i can remember, but
i didn't expect him
this year, after all
those years of asking
and being really good.
maybe i'll ride him
to work on monday
after i get some
chaps, a hat and boots.
this is the best
christmas ever, well
sort of. my list
has changed over the
years if you hadn't
noticed and at the top
of the new list
were the the two twins
from sweden, the runway
models, gretchen
and nicole, but hey,
maybe next year we
can do better, right?
thanks again santa.

Friday, December 24, 2010

communion

she texts me from
mass, as she stands in
line for communion
her hands folded
in front of her,
typing with her
thumbs, her tongue
is about to go out to
get the blood and body
of Christ. it's
Christmas eve and
she's lonely, and
across the country,
and sad and trying
to make sense of it
all, trying so hard
to find peace.
find peace. find peace.
when all along it
rests within her.

i'll meet you there

you're not wearing
that out, are you.
she says to me as
i put on my favorite
long black coat
and ripped jeans.
you look like a
homeless man, she
says. go ahead, look
in the mirror. and
why didn't you shave,
you can't go to a
party looking like
that. look at me,
i'm in a dress, a
red dress, she spins
around to make
a point, we can't
go as a couple with
this disparity in
style. hmm, i say.
okay, maybe we
should drive
separately, you go
on ahead i'll meet
you there.

the science of you

the science of you
evades me. the math
of how you think.
pascal would be proud.
the equations that
make up who you are,
baffle me and keep
me wide awake beneath
galileo's stars.
no theorem can explain
what makes you come
and go, or stay, or
what keeps that center
of you so goddamn
cold. you are an
eternal mystery that
i'll never solve
no matter how many
books i read, or
martinis that i shake
and drink. you are a
star collapsing upon
itself, and i'm pulled
and pulled within.

the empty seat

can i have this
seat, if it's not
taken, if you
don't mind. i'd
like to sit next
to you. it's the
only i seat where
i can sit, where
i can finally take
off my coat and stop
circling the room.
it's time
to stop. and you
are kind to offer
me this place
beside you. i know
that it's only
for a short while,
that you'll have
to leave, but i'm
so glad that we've
met, and sad to
see you go. i'll
try to save yours
while your gone,
but some promises
i can't keep.

your dark hair

your brush full
of hair, long and
brown, dark as
the woods before
the sun goes down.
it's a tangle of
you. and i can see
you in the mirror,
standing there,
stroke after stroke,
easily, calmly,
and knowing that
i'm there, you have
all the time in
the world to brush
your long dark hair.

milk

you lift
the carton
off the shelf
from the bright
cool light of
the refrigerator
and even before
you open the lid
to smell, you
know already that
it's gone bad,
that's it's sour,
that it's
shelf life has
expired. the
occasional smile
and touch
of that
bright light
didn't save
it, nor did the
cool dark air
in which it sat
for so long,
unstirred,
untouched and
perhaps
in some strange
way, unloved.

new year's eve

it was several
years ago, walking
through old town
on new year's eve,
going to dinner,
to where we had
gone before, many
times, and she was
wearing black, as
always, with her
flashing brown eyes,
and silver bracelets,
and she dropped an
earring on the street.
we both heard it
hit and roll away.
but we couldn't find
it in the dark,
although we tried,
in the cold, with
snow coming down,
but we were late.
so we went on. it
was our last new
year's eve together.
but when i walk by
that spot in any
season, years
later, on the
sidewalk where
we were that night.
i'm still looking
down, looking for
that earring, for
her, for what i've
lost and what i
haven't yet found.

the kissing lesson

it's easy
she says.
do like this.
put your
lips together,
that's right,
watch me.
pucker,
press them
tight, now
move closer,
move an inch
away from me.
closing your
eyes is optional,
but i'd suggest
closed for this
first time.
no, no, don't
open your mouth
we aren't
gold fish.
now come in
and press gently
your lips
onto mine. hold
it for a second,
okay, okay.
that was nice.
see, do you see
how this is
done. now, okay.
very good.
let's try
it again. and
later we'll
try something
a little more
complicated on
the couch.

to bed early

you are weary
from the day,
the week,
so you go to
bed early. you
turn everything
off, the phone
the lights,
the tv, the
computer blinking
down the hall.
you block all of
the clocks in
your room with
shirts and socks.
and you lie
there at nine
thirty and wish
there was someone
there to read
to you, to scratch
your back gently
and massage
the kinks out
of your muscles
as you drift
slowly into that
sweet nether
world of dreams.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

my new family

i was out
drinking the
other night
and i lost
my credit card,
somewhere between
il fornaios
and a parking
garage. it was
very windy,
so it could
be anywhere.
today i got my
statement and
apparently i've
bought a new
car, and have
adopted a family
of five
from thailand
and they all
should be arriving
within the week
depending upon
visa, passports,
and criminal
investigations.
i have no place to
put them and i'm
low on coconut
milk and basil
chicken. but hey,
i'm kind of excited.
i've got a new
instant family.
shame they won't
be here for the
holidays to enjoy
my tree that i
just decorated and
set on the counter.
with lights
and everything.
i'm in the market
for bunk beds, so
if you have any,
cheap, give a
shout out.

the rear view mirror

there's the hall
mirror. framed in
black. the last
one you see before
leaving the house,
it's in a good place
to straighten
the tie, or to
check for shaving cream
left in an ear, or
a nick from the
razor leaving a
small blob of blood
on your chin. it
happens, but then
there's the bath
room mirrors too, all
bright and shiny,
fogged with steam,
speckled with tooth
paste, so hard to
clean once it hardens.
and the full length
mirror in the bedroom.
leaning behind a
door, rarely used
for anything other
than checking the
shoes, never anything
crazy or obscene,
but it's there
just in case,
and then there's
the mirror at the
top of the stairs,
a decorative sort
of thing, an antique,
which hardly holds
an image,and it's
distorted at best
in the shadowy over
head light, so many
mirrors, and then
the car has them too,
the flip down visor
has one, and the side
view mirrors, powered
and small, just enough
view. but my favorite
of all time, is
the rearview mirror,
the one i've been
staring at for awhile
now, as i drive away
from you.

no one's home

the parentless,
empty house on
the corner
with the blue
shutters loose
and dangling
in the wind,
is still there.
and out back is
the raw dirt
where the dog
ran all day long,
barking, and the
the front door
swings open, never
quite locked,
letting out
the darkness
within. and a
window is
broken on the
second floor where
a small boy
could peer
out. and the grass
never green,
is thick and
high in the front
yard, where the
mower stopped
and still stands,
and a rusted
swing set
sways gently on
the side,
in the autumn
wind next to a
plastic doll
with unshut
blue eyes and one
pink arm.
there was almost
something like
love there once,
i remember it's
absence like it
was yesterday.

someone exactly like you

i was going to
the zoo
the other day,
having a strong
desire to see
the monkeys in
their cages,
i took the cross
town bus and fell
asleep with my
head against
the window.
it was a deep
sleep, and i
dreamed about
someone who
reminded
me of you. she
was just like
you, but with blue
eyes and blonde
hair, and she
was very tall,
which you aren't.
and she spoke
with a foreign
accent, which may
have been french
or german, it was
a dream after all
and this part was
fuzzy. but despite
all the differences
she reminded me
exactly of you.
when i woke up
i had missed
my stop at the zoo,
and the bus circled
back to from
where i began,
and it was too late
now, it was getting
dark and colder,
and it was time
to go home. the
monkeys could wait
for another day.

walking around naked

i admire the way
you walk around
naked. no clothes,
no shoes, no hat,
not even a bullwhip
in your hand,
nothing but the curves
of you so plump
and unashamed at
who you are and what
you look like.
before or after sex,
it makes no difference.
not me. i need a towel
and a robe, and
sunglasses. put a
drink into my hand.
give me an umbrella
and slippers. i can't
show an inch of skin,
i need the lights off,
the curtains drawn,
the sun down. i pull
the sheets right up
to my chin. i'm sorry,
for being so shy,
and secretive, so
reluctant to let
you see me, but you
know that's who i am.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

each dog has his day

my death
comes early
in the day. so
it takes awhile
before word
gets around.
i haven't
inconvenienced
anyone quite yet.
most are able
to fit lunch in
before they know,
before their
schedules
are turned
upside down
and need to
be rearranged.
the holidays
are no time
to pass away, to
slip into the
great beyond, it
let's the air
right out
of that balloon.
and i feel guilty
about that.
i don't want
to cause a stir,
or to be the
center of attention,
although it's so
hard not to do.
but so it goes.
each dog has
his day.

no one cooks anymore

they say they
do, and they talk
a good game,
about pasta and
steaks, and lobsters
and souffles, oh,
and the things they
used to bake,
back when the kids
were around, when
the ex's were still
in love with them
and on the couch
waiting patiently
for that dinner bell
to ring. but now,
in this day and age,
of being single
and alone, separated
or divorced, i've
rarely seen a meal
come out of an oven
or off a burner,
or anything mixed
and stirred with
loving care. none
of that hits
the table. now it's
just buy it as it
is. precooked, pre
sealed, preseasoned,
heat it up and there
you go. or call out
for chinese, or
perhaps dominos,
where's the coupon?
oh my, dinner
is served.

mispoken words

it was a tiny
crack, just a
small little
dent, a ping,
a fissure
in the glass,
a word you said,
without thinking.
and it made me
turn my head.
but now i can see
it stretch it's
zig zag way
across, from
side to side, in
front of me
and within.
i remember hearing
the pebble strike
and bounce,
the click of it
and there it
was. the beginning
of an end.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

i hate winter

please
take your
cold wind,
your icy
walkways
and brittle
trees, so bare
of leaves
and blossoms.
just begone
with your frost
filled nights,
those broken
copper pipes
now full
of ice and
leave. please
take your snow,
your clouds
so dark and
low, your
arctic freeze.
that blows. i
want no more
of this,
of coats,
and gloves
and scarves
and hats,
and vicks
vapo rub.
i lie here
in a shiver,
and all the tea
and honey
and lemons in
the world
won't make
me be happy
about winter.
i hate it. now
please go.

to the moon alice

dear alice,
my life as
an astronaut has
not been what
i thought it would
be. i'm bored
out of my mind.
i'm typing this
on my new phone,
i hope you get it.
my fingers are so
large though with
these crazy gloves
on and i'm hitting
three keys at once.
the moon is such
a muse for poetry,
and yet i'm tired
of the moon.
the dark side
is exactly like
the light side.
there is no
mystery there.
surprise, a cold
hard rock that
reflects sunlight.
amazing, dust.
craters. that's
about it. i wanted
to join the program
because i wanted
to be free
from gravity,
to float in the air.
that seemed like
fun. gravity has
been keeping me
down way too long.
plus, i wanted
to be free from
you and your constant
nagging. to put some
distance between
us. see how you
like those long
silences. but now
i miss you. i itch
though, from this
urinary tract
infection which
may cause a problem
when i return, that is
if you are ever in
the mood again. sorry
about that last time.
i was a little over
anxious. my bad.
i'm hungry all
the time too. these
turkey and gravy pellets
just aren't getting
it done. i signed
up for the mars
voyage, but i'm
not sure if i want
to go now. it's so
far, and it takes
so long to get there.
and for what. more
rocks, more dust,
more nothing. i'm
constantly afraid of
running out of air.
every dream i have
is about that. being
sucked out of the
window into the
black void of space
gasping for air.
but you'd like that
though, wouldn't
you, wouldn't you
alice. sorry,
sorry, space makes
me a little
crazy sometimes.
well, i have to go
now, there's some
red lights blinking
and a siren going
off, i'm getting
dizzy. i hope to god
it's not the air
supply. i'll write
more later if i'm
still alive.
behave while
i'm gone. love you,
jimmy. xxxooo.

it's not the same

you have
a difficult
time with
words, when
speaking
with her now,
the questions
are odd, there
is no flow,
it's not natural
after so much
time has passed.
whatever love
there was is
gone, at last.
it's not the
same. her
voice is
different,
strange. she
comes from
another place,
she's under
another sun,
another moon.
nothing can
ever be the
same. and that's
a good thing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Neva's daughter

i see her
in the library
bent over, grey,
and ten years
older, as i am,
since we last met,
since she stood
before the class
and taught the art
of poetry, she moves
between the books,
the tall aisles
that are silent
with so many words,
so many poems
written and unread,
and she sees
me and smiles and
says my name.
and we talk for
a minute or two,
exchange numbers
and e mails, and
she tells me about
the last thing
she had written,
the small chapbook
about her daughter
who was murdered
so long ago, but it
still keeps her
writing, trying to
solve the why of
that, and everything
else that has fallen
softly, like ashes,
inbetween the pages
of then and now.

bossy women

you find yourself
attracted
to bossy women,
some flashy, some
plain, some
somewhere inbetween,
but they are
bold and
smart, independent
and strong
willed. you like
the way they
self start. the
way they take without
asking, all
of them have a
bright red
button that
they push the
moment they wake
up. no need
for help. and you
get lost in
the chaos that
is who they are,
the tornado of
their lives. like
a ferris going
round and round
too fast, there
is a thrill, but
you are just
something
hovering in the
air, as they
spin and spin
with very little
time or heart
to share, and
eventually you
know within, that
you will fly
off the crazy wheel.

like us

some poems
are unfixable,
the metaphors
fall flat,
the lines
are too long
and there is
too much glitter,
too much me,
and not enough
substance,
or flow. like
us, it's best
to give it up,
to delete,
to let it go.

the lovers list

before she
falls asleep
at night, tossing
and turning,
she counts,
as if counting
sheep, all
the men that
she has ever slept
with, some names
she can hardly
remember, their
faces blurred
with time, and
fading memory, so
she calls them
by something
else, a bar,
a place that
they met in, a
season in some
city she may
have visited.
that random crazy
time in a bathroom
at a party, or
in a parked car
on a dark road.
the chance they
took in an
elevator,
she names them
by the cars they
drove. the blue
chevy, the red van.
the boy with
a truck, rusted
orange, in a grey
cloud of fumes.
the married man
with kids,
the man with blonde
hair, and a snake
tattoo. and sometimes
she falls alseep
before she gets
to the end of
her lovers list,
and other times
she dwells on
the one or two
that she truly loved
and wanted more
of, the ones that
got away, that
broke her heart,
then she fogets,
and drifts away in
thought about what
could have been,
and she loses
the count,
the number,
and has to start
all over again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

the red sweater

on sunday,
with the sun
already down,
while folding
clothes
in the basement
where it's
never quite
warm enough
in the winter,
and a bare bulb
hangs simply
from the
unfinished
ceiling, and
the breath
from the open
mouth of
the dryer is
still warm,
and the towels
are hot in my
hand, i think
of you, going
up the stairs
one last time,
with that heavy
basket. your
shirts, your
socks, the red
sweater that
i bought you,
that you'll
never wear again.

fresh bread

you think of
poems as
small loaves
of warm bread
that you are
baking daily,
and then
trying to leave
for her.
wherever she
might be. they
come right
out of the oven.
some sweet,
some sad, some
bitter and crusty,
but many just
meant to be read,
fresh bread
to be eaten, slowly,
to feel the warmth
in your hand,
your heart,
to be savored.
call it small
loaves of
lingering love,
toasted thoughts
of maybe,
some slices are
best served
with blackberry
jam, or butter, but
you decide that.

cowboy up

you don't
like the rodeo
but you go.
you are roped
into it.
you like the
cowgirls who
ride the bulls,
though, and
the stallions,
high up on
the horse as
they gallop
along the dirt
ring,
carrying flags.
they are all
wearing white
boots with spurs.
you like boots.
it smells though.
and there are
alot of cowboys
yelling in that
cowboy yell.
yip yip yip, etc.
everyone
is wearing a
big hat and
suspenders or
bolo ties with
black shirts.
they are chewing
something brown
and spitting
constantly.
there are clowns
who tease the bulls,
who help
the cowboys get
up when they
are thrown like
rag dolls into
the air. you
suspect that there
might be cotton
candy here, and
foot long
hot dogs. you
can't wait to
get home. you'll
never see this
girl again
because she is
one of them
and you are
incapable of
cowboying up.

morning services

on your
way to church,
you slip
and fall,
you break
your ankle
and lie
there in
the snow
as others pass
you by, walking
around your
crumbled body,
they are in
a hurry in
their sunday
best, they want
the front pews,
the choice
seats for
mass, for
communion, they
want to be
where the
action is and
to hear the
message clearly.
i put my hand
out for help,
to be lifted
up, but i'm
ignored. they
pretend to not
see me.
finally a woman
puts a dollar
into my
outstretched
hand, she tells
me that she wishes
she could help,
but she's late,
another man
gives me some
change and tells
me i should get
a hat to put
the money in.
an old woman
comes over
and gives me
a half of sandwich
and says god
bless you mister.
i lie there
in the snow
the whole day.
collecting money,
gathering food
from strangers.
it's sunday.
it's cold. i'm
lying in the snow
between church
and home.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

a new shade of blue

the color
chart is open
to blues.
greys and light
whites. my
choices. it's
snowing and
you want me
to paint the room.
you are on
the couch, sipping
tea. staring
at the wall,
looking at chips,
trying to imagine
what colors it
would all be,
without compromise,
without me.

it's ringing again

don't answer
that. just let
it ring.
don't even
look, you don't
want to know.
no need to know
about every
mistake, or
casual fling,
she'll go away,
eventually,
she'll disappear
like the wet
grey snow outside
on the street.
don't pick
it up, let it
ring. let it play
out and then
i'm all yours,
trust me, give
it time, she'll
give up and
surrender,
you'll see.

the weathergirl

she points
at the map
of you, and
says. good
morning, grumpy
with a chance
of sadness by
noon. unless
there is a
bump of coffee
really quick,
like soon.
and then, a
wave of hunger
will hit,
and you will
be overwhelmed
with the direction
or your life,
or lack of, until
you make it to
paneras for a
sandwich and a nice
hot bowl of soup.
things will get
better from there,
but a front of
sleepiness will
arrive later that
afternoon,
and it's best to
stay in, stay
warm and go
into a darkened
room. in twenty
minutes though
you will arise
and be checking
your phone for
news. the sun
is going down,
it's slippery and
wet out there, she
says, dress warmly,
be careful with
what you do.

don't get sick

i'm avoiding
the handshake
this season.
eating vitamin c
like candy. i'm
staying clear
of the cough,
the gagging
in the super
market. i'm
disinfecting
everything
with those
wipes, stepping
aside when i
hear that sneeze,
that clearing
of the throat,
and wheezing
sound, like a
balloon losing
bad air.
i'm limiting
kissing to
just a peck,
cuddling
to no more than
a few minutes
at a time,
which is going
to make it
a long, cold
winter.

just wondering

sometimes
it almost seems
like you
don't care.
perhaps it's
the lack
of phone calls,
or e mails. there
hasn't been
a visit in
so long, i'm
beginning to
wonder if there
is someone else.
i hope not,
that would just
about break my
heart.
i didn't
even get a
christmas card
from you this
year, not a nod,
not a whistle.
not a plate of
homemade sugar
cookies shaped
into candy canes
and stars,
sleighs and
reindeer. not
even a tin
of candy from
swiss colony, just
what's up with
that, mom, you
really need to
step it up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

icecream legs

she tells me
that she's going
to new orleans
for a week at the
end of the year.
eat some jumbalya,
visit a wildlife
park and see
the heron. so she
says. sounds sketchy.
sounds like a man
might be involved
in this scenario
somewhere. she's
in the tub while
she's telling me
this story, or
half the story.
she's smoking cigarettes
with the window
open despite the
temperature being 20
degrees. she's got
an egg nog going
too, shaken with
a healthy dose
of jack daniels.
she tells me that
her legs are white
like vanilla
icecream, she
can't even see
the veins anymore.
the drink is getting
to her, but she
won't come clean
on the guy. she
tells me that she
feels decadent,
she feels like being
a bad girl, but
she says that it's
too late in the night,
and if she wasn't
so damn tired
from this hot water
and egg nog, she'd
be out on the street
looking to get into
trouble. see you
in church i tell
her. behave. do
you hear that, she
says, smoke rings.

Red Meat

i can only
eat so many
walnuts and
cranberries,
and raisins,
and dried fruits,
bananas and
apricots before
i get sick and
almost pass out
from lack of
nourishment. i
need a slice
of red meat
seared on a
charcoal grill.
i know, i know.
the poor
animals, the
cholesterol, and
all of that. but
sometimes i
just need a
big fat juicy
rib eye steak
and have
the blood run
down my chin
like a madman.

postcard from paris

bonjour,
i'm in paris
right now. i'm
in a cafe on
the boulevard
smoking a cigarette
and drinking
coffee from a
tiny porcelain cup.
there's a harmonica
on the table,
next to a pastry
that is stale.
the waiter just
sneered at me.
i'm reading
a book, while
i'm writing one.
i'm reciting
poetry, my own,
from memory, and
some of it i'm
just making up as
i go along.
my shoes, that
are more like
small boots, are
black and shiny,
so shiny that i
can see the eiffel
tower in their
reflection. i'm
distracted by
the women, by
their legs and
eyes. their pouty
lips too.
the scent of them
walking by. they
want to look at
me, but they don't.
pffft, to hell
with them.
i'm trying hard
to write something
different, something
that for once,
isn't about me,
and not about you.
but, you see
the results of that.

wallpaper

don't cash
that check
just yet, let's
see how it goes.
let's see if
the bubbles
go down, or
if the seams
split, or
if the sheets
unravel off
the walls
in a slow quiet
peel during
the night.
don't cash
that check
just yet,
let's wait
awhile, okay,
and see what
things look like
in the morning
light. it's not
that i don't
trust you, it's
just that it's,
well, yes,
wallpaper. but
here are some
christmas cookies
to tide you over.
okay?

selective memory

she left
the stove on
and the pot
boiled over
setting off
the smoke alarm.
she left
the water
running,
and the pipes
froze. she
forgot to
close the door,
and the dog
ran away,
and the room
filled up
with birds.
she locked
her keys in
the car, she
lost her cell
phone,
she forgot
to take her
medication and
couldn't find
her way home.
she forgot
her purse,
left it in
the grocery
cart, next to
the bag of
groceries.
and yet,
despite
all this,
she remembers
every single word
and thing
in detail
as to what
i did and said
to make
her mad seven
years ago.

slow is best

slow is often
best. the slow
cooked meal,
the long dinner.
the trip across
the sea, to linger
on the rail
and watch as
the cathedral
of clouds pass
by. slow is
often best,
the sunrise,
the sunset, when
finding someone
you care about.
no need to rush,
or push towards
what's next.
slow and easy.
start it with a
kiss and go
from there. no
need to hurry.
yes. slow is
often best.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

the siamese cat

where are we
going with
this, she asks
me. with what
i say. i'm busy
at the moment
cleaning a flesh
wound that her
husband gave
me when he took a
shot from the
window winging my
arm as i dashed out
of the house
with no clothes on.
with our relationship,
she says. standing
over me with
cotton balls
and tweezers and
alcohol. good thing
he's not a good
shot when he's angry,
she says, dabbing
the wound. i shake
my head. i don't
know i tell her.
maybe you should
have a talk with
your husband and
tell him that you
don't love him
anymore, that you
are out and about
dating, just maybe
get a divorce.
just maybe have him
move out of the house.
geez marie.
i look up at her
and she is slowly
nodding her head.
yup. she says.
you might be right. i
know that he still
loves me, but it's so
hard cutting
the strings, we do
have this siamese cat
that we got
at the mall together,
she was really expensive.
i really like you
and don't want
to lose you though,
she says. be a damn
shame if he
killed you, good
i tell her, i'm
glad you care
so much. now
wrap the bandage
tight honey. i
think the bleeding
has stopped. i
don't want this
to get infected.

can you hear that

my friend randi, who likes
to go by the name of
the great randini,
calls me from the open
road, from route
17 on her way through
the carolinas, i have
no idea where she's
going, but she's always
going somewhere and
she likes to stick
her phone out the
window when a truck
rolls by, and say,
did you hear that,
that was a semi
doing ninety about
a foot away from me
in the slush. crazy,
huh? i could have
been killed, or when
a flock of geese pass
overhead, dipping low,
out goes the phone, do
you hear that, geese
honking. cool, huh?
when she comes to
a red light at some
desolate intersection,
near a field full
of cows swinging their
stiff tails, she'll
say, can you hear
them. can you hear
that mooing, those
are cows, steve, cows.
so i do the same.
i unzip my jacket and
put the phone next
to my heart and i ask
her, randi, can you
hear that, can you
hear my heart beating,
no, she says, i can't
hear a thing. it's
silent, almost like
there isn't one there.
exactly i say. exactly.
nothing. it's all gone,
not a single beat. i
think i'm back to normal.

nip and tuck

i'm fighting
gravity, she says.
aren't we all,
i respond back,
picking up a fork
i just dropped onto
the floor. i do
the pinch
around the waist,
to see if i can
have dessert
tonight, and another
glass of wine. i'm
good for both.
she pulls the skin
back on her face,
towards her ears,
with her thumbs,
i should have this
done, don't you
think. just pull it
all back, erase
fifteen years.
sure i tell her,
why not. if it makes
you feel better,
go for it monkey
face. what? she
says, did you call
me monkey face, well,
that's what they'll
call you behind
your back when you
have your face done.
oh, really, she
says. yes. i tell
her. think rhesus
monkey. how about
a slice of banana
cream pie, cheetah.
it's all about
lighting from this
point on, i tell
her, meet people
in dark places
with friendly
lighting. change all
the bulbs in your
house to forty watts.
you'll see, well,
sort of, but those
little tiny lines
that you have around
your lips and at
the corners of your
saggy eyes won't
be as noticeable.
what about twenty
five watts, she says?
even better, i
tell her. even better.

the importance of staying busy

when you
observe the insect
world and you
haven't had
a drink in a while,
but you are in
a pondering mood,
picking lint
off your black
sweater that you
were going to
wear out tonight,
you can't
help but notice
how busy the ants
are, moving tiny
pieces of crumbs,
from the kitchen
floor into a hole
near the baseboard.
the movement is
constant, and when
you lean really
close to them, put
your good ear
to the floor, you
can hear them
say, almost in unison,
with little ant
voices, i'm so busy,
i'm so freaking busy.
they roll their
little bead like
eyes and shake
their heads.
i've got to slow
down, this pace
is killing me. i
don't have a moment
to myself, i haven't
even had time to
pee the whole day,
and then the bees in
the hives, coming
and going, outside in
the bushes, making
honey, pollinating
all day and being
a nuisance with
their buzzing and
gossipy ways. their
high pitched voices
exclaiming with
exasperated glee,
oh my god, i'm so
busy, i have no time,
not an hour can i
call my own, just
look at my blackberry.
it's booked up solid
until the end of
time. i wake up
and i'm on the go,
from flower to
flower, from tree
to tree, from sunrise
until midnight,
everyday. i have
two hundred and forty
seven bee-mails i haven't
been able to get to.
fourteen more bees
want friend confirmation
on my facebook page.
i'm sooooo busy. dang,
you say, that's a shame
and yawn, and then you
look out the window
and see the squirrels.
and if you want to really
see busy watch a
squirrel for ten
minutes shucking
an acorn. i think
i need a nap now.
i'm exhausted from
watching so much
activity. maybe i'll
get busy later if
she comes over like
she promised.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

losing friends

you spend much
of the day
explaining
yourself. untying
the knots
of being mis
understood. and
you wonder why
this happens
so often. is
it the words you
say, or how
you say them,
perhaps it's
the look on
your face, or
the inflection of
your voice, that
causes so much
confusion. so you
decide to stop
talking, to just
smile politely
at everything,
and nod
gracefully. when
there is something
to be said, you
write it down.
you keep it
simple, such as
two eggs, over easy,
a side order of
bacon, and hash
browns. coffee.
thank you.
it seems to be
working. i haven't
lost a friend
all day, but
it's early
and maybe the
next thing i write
will cause me
to lose another.
oh well.

the sear's fireplace

before she
died, she talked
longingly
about buying a fake
fireplace from
the sear's catalogue.
she tore the page
out and circled
the price, the
cost of shipping,
and how long delivery
would take. she
read the details
for me by candle
light on the floor,
lying naked on her fake
bearskin rug, before
we made love in
the watery shadows
of her darkened
house. this was
before i knew
she needed a new
heart. a fake,
heart she would say,
is as good as
real one, if it
keeps you alive.
i didn't disagree.

home by five

being self employed
i often yell and
berate myself when
i've left a task
undone, or have not
done something at
the level for which
i am capable. i write
a memo in bold black
ink and set it on
my desk. it's an angry
note that stresses
production and
responsibility.
but then some time
goes by and i feel
guilty about
how i've been treating
myself and will take
myself out to lunch,
and ask about the
family, my health.
i'll make small talk,
and discuss love
and such things that
employers and employees
do from time to time,
to make work palpable.
it can be a long day
sometimes, but i'm
always home by five.
i see to that.

at three a.m.

they come in
threes, don't they.
loves, deaths,
angels on the street.
three chances, three
crosses, and on the
third day Christ
rose from the dead.
there is something
about the number
three, peter's denial,
before the cock crowed
three times. three
strikes and you're
out. the third
planet out from
the sun. and on the
third day the earth
rose from the water,
three inscriptions
in different languages
were on the cross,
the world, the flesh
and the devil, three
enemies of man.
the three primary
colors from which all
other colors are
formed. three.
division of time,
past, present and
future. and in ancient
celtic lore,
when oak, and ash
and thorn grew together,
that is where faeries
lived. the earth is
divided into threes,
two parts water and
one part land.
and don't forget
the three minute egg.
i should not have
had that third cup
of coffee. i'll be
up all night with this.

blue christmas

she called me
from across town
and because she
was drinking heavily
having just returned
from her office
holiday party,
it was hard to
completely understand
everything she was
saying, but i
tried. i could
hear elvis in the
background singing
blue christmas. she
asked me, between
hiccups, if i wanted
to have an x rated
xmas with her and
that she had a gift
for me that she would
be wearing, and was
in fact trying it
on at the moment.
i listened to her
as she fell against
the door. whoopsee,
she said when
she got the phone
back into her hand.
i'm such a bad girl,
ain't i? yup, i
said, a very very
bad girl. i made
some special eggnog,
she said, and i
can't drive, so you
have to come over
here, okay. okay?
i just love
the holidays, she
said. don't you?

six feet under

drive about
fifty miles or
so, deep into
the woods, make
a left, go right,
make another
right, circle
the lake a few
times. then stop.
get out of the car.
and begin walking.
take water, you
might get thirsty.
tie your shoes tight,
wear gloves, a hat.
make sure you're
not being followed.
it's cold out. go
old school, bring
a lantern that can
swing in your hand
as you walk along.
bring a shovel too.
there's digging
to be done when
you get there. before
dark is best. this
broken heart of yours
is long overdue
for a burial.

hello, are you still there?

pencil me in
for friday. no,
wait. i can't do
friday. what about
saturday morning.
eight a.m.? can
you do that.
we could meet for
coffee. there's a
starbuck's in
olney, or reston, or
herndon, or
reistertown. i'll
be on the road all
day. so i'm flexible.
if you can't do
coffee, i can
squeeze you in on
tuesday for a
quick lunch in
baltimore, at the
harbor. no? well,
how about thursday
night. i can manage
an hour around 8
after i put the kid
to bed and walk
the dog. but i have
to be home by nine,
so that gives us about
twenty minutes to
meet and find out
more about each
other in person. i do
want to meet you.
if that's not good.
perhaps after the
holidays when the
smoke clears. in fact
my schedule right now
for late january is
wide open. why
don't we touch
base then. sorry,
i have to go,
someone is trying
to get through on the
other line, nice
chatting though. hello,
are you still there?

don't look back

close the door
tightly. draw
the shades. turn
the lights out
then slip away,
go out the back,
through an open
window. that's
how you do it.
in the dead of
night. while
she's still
asleep. quietly.
with one bag in
hand. sweating
with joy at
having it over,
being free,
finally. whew.
that was close,
now when you hit
the open road,
run, run, don't
wait for the
lights to change.
savor that dodged
bullet and just
go and whatever
you do, don't
look back.

it's all about you

you can borrow me
for awhile. i'll
allow that. i'll
be your doormat,
your boy, your
go to guy. be
late, be lazy, be
selfish and self
absorbed. i'll
accomodate all of
that for a very long
time. my track
record for that sort
of behavior is
stellar, ask around.
i can be very giving
and kind, you don't
even need to
apologize, or make
amends, or say
sweet things you
don't mean. it's
fine, i'm telling
you, it's fine.
i want to you to
show me who you
are, what you got.
and then i'll
stand up and decide.
i'm learning
the hard way, but
only for awhile.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

bar blues

i was in a bar
the other night.
having a panic
attack. the music
was so loud that
i almost couldn't
hear the nine
tv's that were
blaring in every
corner, each on
a different
station. and as
i sat there with
my beer, eating
a pile of greasy
onion rings, i
realized
that just about
everyone was in
their twenties
and thirties or
sadly old and
grey and hanging
on. pretending they
weren't fifty.
it was their home
away from home,
because the other
homelife stinks
even worse than
this does, and
the crowd of smokers
huddled outside in the
cold, sucking on
cigarettes and then
staggering home
alone, or worse
with someone they
just met. i couldn't
wait to leave. i
couldn't wait
to get home, to
be alone, to be with
a book or a friend,
or a movie i've
seen a dozen times.
it's a life i
lived for years
and get chills
at the sadness of
it all. you can't
go back again.

meeting ruby

i see her in
the window as
she waits for me,
ruby, and her soup,
her wool hat
pulled down
tight over grey
locks that curl
like commas at
the worn collar
of her coat.
she looks up with
eyes as thinly blue
as the soup she
sips with a hard
steel spoon. there
is a broken cracker
in her hand and her
lips are tight with
the taste of salt,
of years gone by,
of where she will
be too soon. she
swears she's fifty
four, but that was
twenty years ago,
or more. i go in.
what else can i do?
and i don't feel
sadness for her,
or for me, but for
the world at large
that has brought
us together on
this winter's night.

just in case

all the words
i never said
i've packed into
a brown bag,
and set it aside
on the kitchen
counter. all
the kisses that
we never shared
are in boxes on
the floor near
the door, awaiting
pickup. all the
letters never
sent are in the
hall, in a drawer
beside the fresh
cut key you never
took. all the sundays,
all the holidays
that never happened,
all the nights
you never slept here,
all the mornings that
we never made love
are on ice, in
the fridge, stored
away, just in case.
just in case.

Monday, December 13, 2010

O 69

she told me that
on friday nights
she was a volunteer
who called out
the numbers
for bingo at
the local firehouse.
the patrons arrived
in buses, from
the rest homes,
the senior living
communties, the
assisted care
facilities. all for
bingo. old, and
beaten, tired, and
dishevled, some
as poor as church
mice. in wheel chairs
and walkers, and yet.
bingo stirred their blood.
and when the moment
randomly came,
when my friend yelled
out O 69, in unison
the crowd shouted,
oooooh sixty nine,
and they all laughed
and coughed together
over their cards.
they weren't dead yet.

taxi

the driver wants
a destination, he
wants to know where
he's going, where
he's taking you to.
he flips the
meter on, and he
looks into the mirror
to find an answer,
to find your eyes,
to hear you speak,
but you can only
say, just drive,
and hand him all
the money that you
have. drive until it's
all gone you tell
him. and that's
were you're supposed
to be. and he agrees.
he plays casually
with his beard, and
adjusts his hat. you
see a picture of
his wife and children
taped to his dashboard.
you tell him that he
has a beautiful family.
he nods and says thank
you. he understands now.
and he asks if you
would like to take
the wheel, he smiles,
and laughs. but you
say no. you've done
enough bad driving
for one life, then
he counts the cash,
and off you go.

i am younger now

i am younger now.
my eyes have cleared,
i can hear you
when you stand
behind me as you
do, and whisper.
my hair is thick
and brown, my knees
no longer ache.
my teeth are as
white as paper.
the lines on my
brow have smoothed,
the circles are gone
from beneath my
eyes. i am younger
now. i have unread
all of the books i
have consumed, un
learned every lesson
taught in school. my
belly is flat, my
libido is well past
the clouds, circling
the moon. i know
less than i did
when i was old, my
heart is still
unbroken, unknowing
as to what lies
ahead. i'm happier
for it. everyone
is still alive.
my son is yet
to be born.
i am younger now.

varicose veins

there is no
god, she says, with
her eyes wide open,
over the table,
spooning the
creamed corn onto
your plate, and
a slice of cold
roast beef.
it's her way
of not saying
grace. god, thank
you for making
me work so hard
today to provide
the food, the water
the electricity,
the clothes on
my back. dear
lord, thank you
for waking me up
at five a.m.
to drive in traffic,
to fight the flu,
and get the kids
to school, because
my husband is in
texas with his
girlfriend, and won't
be coming back,
or won't be sending
me my check
as ordered by
the courts. thank
you sweet lord
for these varicose
veins that run down
my legs from waiting
on tables. dear
god, thanks for
all of the years
behind me, where
i've struggled
and all of the years
ahead of me, where
i'll have to work
unitl i'm eighty.
oh, and especially
thanks for our cat
who just had
kittens and needs
surgery for her back.
then she crosses
herself, and says,
okay, let's eat.

three words

it only
takes a mere
three words
to keep me
anywhere i
want to be.
to keep me
with someone
who melts
my butter
on a daily basis.
just three words
will do, i don't
need war and peace,
not ulysses,
not a plethora
of poetry
by whitman or
frost. just
three words,
three simple
words that
will keep me
from leaving,
from getting on
that train, and
getting lost.

other spills

the spilled
wine, does
not upset me,
the pinot
noir or cabernet,
rich with red,
or perhaps
a pale merlot,
in a puddle
on the white
rug, the bottle,
or a fragile
glass knocked
over by your
heel. it will
come out.
it always does.
trust me. i've
known alot of
spills before
you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

woman in a barrel

riding smoothly
along the path
i see a woman lying
half in, half
out of the barrel
in the woods, she
is wearing a
week's worth
of clothing, and
there is a small
fire burning
nearby. she is
neither awake
or sleeping. i slow
my pedaling down,
to see, to wonder,
to ignore, to stop
and find something
to say, until she
rises, until she
speaks and yells
with flailing
hands, and arms,
just leave me alone,
just go away. there
are tears, like
stars within her eyes.

this is your life

i see you up
in the tree, too
high, and unable
to get down. but
you are safe
for now. there is
a part of you that
likes the view,
enjoys the sunlight
and the breeze
that the tree
affords. you feel
young again. the
attention of the
birds and squirrels
falsely warm
your heart.
but it's fun. much
more so than having
your feet upon
the ground.
you neither want
to leave, nor stay,
but eventually
the tree will
decide for you, as
the branches crack
and sway.

crossing the rubicon

and as caesar
pondered the thin
stream, the border
creek of rubicon,
pausing for the
longest of moments,
before sending
the roman empire
into civil war and
his own demise,
as you have done
on several occasions
in your own life,
deciding rightly
or wrongly whether
to make that
crossing, where
things will never
be the same again,
your hesitation
is born of instinct
and survival, whether
it be love or work,
or where you live.
these decisions, still,
at this late stage
seem perilous.
discrimen persists.

ancient ruins

the romans
considered love
to be friendship
gone mad. how
true that is.
and there's
little one
can do about
that, or right
the course, or
go back to where
it was before
madness struck.
and as i stand
here staring
at the ancient
ruins of the
coliseum in
rome, shading
my eyes in the
hot sun, i am
stunned at how
long it takes for
it to finally
turn from rubble
into dust.

almost out

i've been moving
rocks all year,
swinging that heavy
hammer all day,
breaking them in
the hot sun, stacking
them, hauling them
in a wheel barrow
from one pile to
another. and it's
pointless.
and the guard with
his weapon on the
wall, watches and
laughs, his dog
by his side, barking,
waiting for a chance.
and more rocks are
brought in to be
turned into dust,
into gravel. but i
know there will be
an end to this, that
i will get out soon,
and that it's just
a matter of time. she
can't keep me
here forever.

it might be raining

she said it
sounds like rain.
it might be
raining, listen,
and i said
look out the window,
and she said, no,
i'd rather guess.
i'd rather not
know for sure.
let's keep it as
it is, not
knowing one way
or the other
which way things
could go.

a story there

a lost heel
on the sidewalk
has a story.
so does the car
abandoned, running
on the side of
the road. a
balloon, neon
blue afloat in
the sky, set free,
or lost from
someone's hand,
the stray dog
crossing the road
in traffic,
dragging his leash
in the cold.
the unlocked door
left open
when you left
last night
to go home.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

the national xmas tree

in a crowd of
hundreds, kids
and old people,
a mosh pit of
humanity bent
on being happy,
i remember you
shivering, wearing
mittens. what grown
woman wears mittens?
and your lips
were nearly blue,
almost as blue as
your indigo scarf
around your neck.
your teeth chattered.
you said that you
wished you had
a cigarette and
a beer while we
stood in line to
see the big tree
downtown lit up
on the mall.
you stamped your
feet with your snow
boots, and said
loudly, what the
hell is going on
with this fucking
line. come on people
move. jesus mary
and joseph. i started
laughing and you
said, what? they
need to look, take
a picture and move
on. you shook
your head and laughed
too. your eyes were
watering from being
so cold, you pulled
your white wool
hat down around
your ears, then said,
you know what, let's
just go. i know
something better
we can do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

seize the day

sleep in,
love often,
eat cake,
swim nude.
indulge and
read and read.
kiss until
it hurts.
lay low,
sing out
loud, roll
the dog over
and scratch
it's belly. no,
not for thirty
seconds, but
longer, like
how you'd
want your back
scratched.
work hard.
save, spend.
give. confess
repent, forgive.
pray for
others.
compassion is
everything.
eat this life
with pleasure,
let it run
from your mouth
and drip onto
your best shirt.
grab it now,
tomorrow it
might be
gone.

moe

i keep the old
dog close. his
wet snout, and
smell beside me
in winter nights.
his dreams of
chasing, his paws
fixed on the run,
where there
is no run no
more. and his
sleepy romps are
of another
year, when we
were both young,
both on a chase,
both new to being
set free once more.

in maine

up north
where the ground
is hard until
late spring,
and the bodies
rest and wait
in the cool
rooms,
for the earth
to soften
before they go
in, she lies.
she is still,
quiet among
the stones that
go on and on,
in the hills.
where snow has
drifted upon
the names
that went before
her and where
more will come
again.

in another lifetime

when i was
married, before
she tapped the
phones and had
me followed, and put
me in a strangle
hold, or started
dating carlos
on the sly, before
she downloaded
and printed every
keystroke on
my computer, before
she bought the
exotic bird and put
it in the livingroom,
before she called
the police because
i turned a light
on, before she took
everything i had,
including my son
and cut it all
in half, we'd make
sweet love all
night long, and
then again in
the morning while
the blue birds chirped
in the tree right
outside our window.

the telemarketer

i fell in love
with a telemarketer
from india
the other day.
i don't know
her name, but
she sounded lovely
on the phone.
her voice was soft
and sultry. she
was patient and
kind, gentle with
me, so unlike the
women i've been
meeting on these
online dating sites.
we talked and
talked for a
long time. i
asked her name,
but she said that
she wasn't allowed
to give it to me.
so i asked her
if i could call
her linda. she
said, sure, what
is your mailing
address? she
offered me her
heart, her soul,
her body if i
would sign up
for ten magazine
subscriptions. she
would marry me,
she would have my
children, hold me
and love me
unconditionally.
how could i resist.
she was so very
patient with me
as i ran out to
the car to get my
wallet and my american
express card. it was
special of her to
hold on so long,
she was my linda.

valentine's day

the doctor holds
up the x-rays
to the light,
puts his hand on
his chin and shakes
his head. i notice
that he has alot
of hair growing out
of his ears. and
that he cut himself
shaving this morning,
a piece of kleenex
is still stuck
to the slice on his
chin, black and
clotted. i quickly
decide not to trust
his diagnosis. it's
not good, he says.
i'm sorry. you have
less than a year to
live, maybe six
months, you'll make
it through christmas
though, and valentine's
day. valentine's day,
i repeat back to him.
what the hell are
you talking about.
who cares about
valentine's day?
aren't you in love,
don't you have someone
to share that holiday
with you? i feel
helpless in the paper
gown, sitting with my
bare feet dangling on
the leather examination
table. that's not the
point, i tell him.
valentine's day is not
some day to be marking
time with, the end
of my life with.
okay, okay, he says,
thinking to himself,
how about groundhog
day, you might not
make it to ground
hog day? is that
better? yes, i tell
him. thank you. that's
much much better.

a simple poem

write a short poem
is her request
followed by a deep
sleepy yawn,
something soft
and light with
no cynical over
tones. fluffy
and bright like
a white cloud
on an april day.
something that ryhmes.
she puts a period
on her thought
with a nice sweet
smile. her lips
are pink, like
candy. she's wearing
pajamas with little
roses all over
them. i pour another
tumbler of scotch,
and put my pen
down. i look at
her on the couch,
i look past her,
out the window.
i see a man on
a tightrope
crossing over
between two
buildings, risking
his life thirty floors
up, for what? he is
holding a long pole
with which he uses to
fend off imbalance,
he has found himself
in this dangerous
act. he is free,
from rebuke, from
love, from
childhood and old
age. he is on
the wire. he
is alone and yet
where he needs
to be. balanced
in mid air. i am
jealous of this man.
envious of how he
has simplified
his life.
well, she says.
can you do that,
can you write me
a poem like i just
described. no,
i say. i can't.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

tunneling out

if you lie still
long enough at
night and listen,
put your ears to
the floor
and stop your own
digging for a precious
minute, you can
hear them. the others
with their shovels
and picks, slowly
and quietly tunneling
out from under their
own lives. a bad
marriage, debt, old
age. illness,
depression.
each shovel
full of dirt
giving them more
room to breathe,
a silent hope that
on the other side
there is something
better. but they
know that the
jailer and the inmate
are one and it's
possible that
there is no exit,
no place better beyond
the walls, the fence,
where the dogs await
to give chase.

not funny

my financial wizard,
amy, who sounds twelve
on the phone, calls with
some suggestions.
some possible sell
offs and new buys. she's
carrying the weight of
my fragile financial
future in the palms
of her youthful pink
hands. she rambles
on about carrying
over last year's losses
and realizing them
towards the gains
'we' made in apple this
year. i try not to doze
off. i always tell her sure.
go for it amy, do it, and
then end the conversation
by saying, please, when
i'm old leave some money
for me, i don't want
to be living in a card
board box out behind
the liquor store in
the woods. she laughs
and laughs at this,
and i can hear her spitting
coffee onto her laptop
while her fingers click
rapidly along the keyboard.
oh stop, she says in
her squeaky voice, you
are so funny. but i don't
think it's funny at all.

through the grapevine

i got the news
second hand, or
was it third, it
doesn't matter.
bad news keeps.
you can put bad
news on ice, like
a dead fish,
for a week,
or more,
and it's good
for a long long
time. but
eventually
the news will
reach you. you'll
hear about it.
one way or the other
it will trickle
down from ear
to lips and go
round and round.
i think marvin
gaye sang it best.
i heard it through
the grapevine,
not much longer
will she be mine.

january will be good

everything will
be fine in january.
you'll see, she
says, we'll work
this out, we'll
shovel snow together
and find a new
path to our hearts.
let's get through
these holidays
and have fun.
she's smiling and
her arms are full
of christmas
decorations.
no need to break
up this happy
home, no need to
rush off into
someone else's arms.
we can do this.
we can celebrate
our love with a
new month, a new
year. a fresh start.
and i look at her
while i pack my
bags and take off
my ring to set it
on the dresser. it's
not a good look
i'm giving her,
it's a bad look.
you're right, she
says. i don't know
what i was thinking,
we're doomed.