Friday, December 30, 2011

down broadway

the ink hardly
dry on the form
where you both
signed, standing
in front of
a justice
of the peace
at city hall, her
in a new off white
dress, you in
the suit you
bought for your
uncle's funeral,
she says, lunch
at the ritz?
and you say, umm,
i'm sort of in
the mood for
deli. and so it
begins, kissing
goodbye, in two
cabs, going
in two directions
down broadway.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the orchard

you have reached
as high as you can
with feet
firmly on the ground.
your arms
stretching upwards
in all weather
to take the apples
into your open hand.
and you've filled
your basket for
one more year.
and this feat gives
you pleasure, of
having done so
well, and yet looking
down the hill
towards the fence
you see the few
trees that are left
to harvest in
your orchard, and this
thought gives you
something else
with which to ponder
your time and measure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the blue house

you buy ten gallons
of paint
and roll it onto
your house. even
the windows.
the roof, everything
gets painted
blue. it's a nice
blue. indigo.
dark and leaning
towards a shade
of violet and black.
not eggplant, but
more lively. it's
a religious blue
if such a thing
can be said. a deep
mysterious color
evoking both
sadness and a sublime
sense of wisdom.
it's your blue.
the blue of your
dreams, the blue of
your tomorrows.
the neighbors are not
happy with what
you've done, but
you are. and you take
a chair from the house
and sit in the yard
and you watch as
the sun sets down
behind your house
illuminating the
blueness of it all.

tv glue

you send away
for the glue you see
on tv. it's three a.m.
and the dog is
on your lap making
it hard to get your
credit card out
of your wallet, but
you do. a man has
glued his helmet
to a beam and is
holding on to it
with his hands
ten feet above
the ground. you need
this glue. there
is so much that you
need to fix. so
many cracks, and
holes, and broken
pieces of whatnot.
you buy a case,
express shipping.
you feel that you are
finally making an
effort to get your
life back on track.
your ex wife would
be proud.

speaking french

your memory
is sharpened
with one drink.
the color of
her eyes,
the way her lips
moved when
speaking,
and diamond like
with two, every
word she said,
so clear, but
under three
short drinks,
the clouds
draw in and shade
the details.
you aren't even
sure if she ever
loved you, or
for the reasons
that she isn't here.
and at four,
you look across
the room, the last
love gone, and now
attempting to speak
french, you look
for more.

new sixty

she was always
surprised
in her later days.
the arched
eyebrows made
sure of that.
and the skin as
taut and tight
as a snare drum.
hardly a wrinkle.
the lips improved
just slightly, not
bulbous like
some, but curved
and round, like
ripe cut plums.
and her dresses
clung just so,
with the pointed
bags of
silicone to hold
the fabric firm,
she was a sight
to see at seventy,
trying hard
to smile not
grimmace at
the rim of a
chilled martini.

the darkness

it wasn't much
at first.
a paper or two
of old news,
a magazine
and then another,
unopened mail.
but soon even
an empty carton
of milk had
value and she
found a space
for that. it
seemed fine to
keep the things
once tossed away
since the divorce
was final, and
the boy moved out,
and the neighbors
changed. and
then there were
the cats, one
two and three
quickly became
four five and six
all finding homes
between boxes
unboxed
and uncurbed trash.
somehow the light
threw nothing
onto it all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

going west

the hand
you held slips
west, off
to the side
of his own life
as it should
be, out of
the nest
and on wings
towards skies
you haven't
seen, but
have heard of.
it's no
small thing
this courage is
to leave
and find his
own way. there
is no more
packing of a
lunch, tucking
in a shirt,
or tossing
a ball in
the yard while
a summer sun
lingers. his
time has
come and your
hand opens
to let him go.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

the memory of birds

you wonder about
the memory of birds,
is their regret
in the way
they sit upon
the wire, or
how they stroke
their wings
across the sky.
do they ponder
the year's end,
another one
gone by. do they
think of things
undone, of places
yet to go, of
loves lost,
loves won, or are
they more like me,
content in the moment,
and ready to move on.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

ring ding juniors

dad, hey dad,
my son says while
i'm carefully
putting a stack
of lp records onto
the turntable.
i have a bunch
of 45's ready
to go too, with
the little plastic
adjustemnt ring
inserted in
the holes. what
are you doing, he
says to me. an
ipod wire is hanging
out of his ear,
while he texts
his girlfriend
what a dinosaur
dope i am. do you
know what century
this is, he says.
a hi fi system,
really dad. you
need to step it up
this year. it's
embarassing.
it's quadraphonic
i tell him.
see those four
three foot high
speakers in the corners.
state of the art.
i give up, he says.
whatever.
is there anything
to drink and eat
in this house.
yes, i tell
him, there's some
tab, next to
the tang in the
icebox and a box
of ring ding juniors
on the counter.
help yourself.

a christmas miracle

you remember
last year's debacle
while drinking rum
and eggnog,
with the wrapping
paper, scotch
tape and scissors.
how you cut your
thumb, bleeding
everywhere
as you tied it off
with a dishtowel,
but pressed on.
that last minute
rush to stuff
and wrap each
gift into the easy
tear reindeer
print blue paper
as thin as your
patience is at eight
in the morning
without coffee.
ah, the tree of
gift cards at
the grocery store.
how you stood there
for a glorious
a moment as
the store's
overhead music
pounded out another
white christmas.
it was an angel
of light
illuminating your
shopping spirit.
there they were,
all the stores that
you needed to shop
at, target and bed
bath and beyond,
victoria secret's
and subway, macy's
and spencers. it
was a wonderful
thing, these gift
cards. a christmas
miracle
in the making.

fredericksburg

across the lawn
from the college
and the grey
statue of a soldier
from the civil
war, the old house
made of white
clapboards
and tin roof, sags
with the weight
of time and rusted
nails. there is
not enough love,
or paint and
varnish to bring
it all the way
back, but the workers
climb on it like
bees to honey.
and someone, even
with the cracked
window, the leaking
pipe and the smell
of mildew someone
will buy it
and call it home.

lecture 101

ah, yes, she says
in her best
professorial tone,
about your so called
poetry. the loose
ends, the stream
of consciousness,
the random punctuation,
and lack of
capitalization,
the repetitive topics
of love and death,
women and women.
you need to tighten
it up mister, branch
out, stop looking
at your navel and
see the bigger
picture. there is
more to the world
than your small
myopic outlook.
hey, are you
listening to me,
hello, is there anyone
home. but i'm already
out the window
with hat in hand,
before she's done,
down the road
and she's talking
to pillows beneath
the blanket.
there's a poem
in there somewhere.

Friday, December 23, 2011

traveling home for the holidays

the christmas lights
which aren't
christmas lights
at all, but the red
blinking tail lights
of a million cars
on the road. like
rats on crack, they
are traveling home.
smelling that holiday
cheese, grinding
their sharp little teeth
to get there. from lane
to lane, hands white
knuckled on the wheel,
and on their foreheads
that thick long
purple vein, like
tinsel, that's
about to burst if
they don't get out
of the slowest lane
and begin to move.

the pebble

nothing matters
at the moment
but this pebble
in my shoe.
the sharp pinch
between sock
and sole with each
step taken. i'll
need to stop at
some point,
untie the laces
and shake it free,
but not right now.
it's keeping me
from thinking about
other things, like
you, and me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the grey cat

you dress
for rain, a cold
rain and wind.
it's time
you say for gloves
and hat,
the umbrella,
boots from
deep inside
the closet.
and as the grey
cat sits and
watches you
at the end of
the hall,
summer seems
so infintely far
away.

the wall

on a bad day,
you start with a single
brick pressed firmly
in the ground, you tap
it clean, and set
the level down. and
the bubble, green,
says go, another one
beside it, another on top
between the wet
mortar and before
noon, before the sun
is fully overhead
the wall is there.
and your message has
been made. it's clear.

waiting in the window

you set out a glass,
a christmas tumbler,
a quart of egg nog
and some rum
on the table. you cut
a slice of pie,
and place it on
a good plate, with
a fork and knife.
you leave the tree
lights on so that
he won't trip and
fall when stumbling
home, if he comes
home at all. you
place his gift
where he can find
it. it's the least
you can do for
your father
on Christmas morn.

sanding down

the wood floor
sanded down, buffed
clean of fillers
and shine,
decades of thick
sheen. now just wood,
flat and plain
as the day it
was hammered down.
back to who it
was before others
insisted it
be different, we
could all use that
sanding from time
to time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

each child

all the same,
all different, she
sees her
children
in the yard. she
wants to hold
them in place.
right where they
are before love
finds them,
before death,
before tomorrow
slips past today.
each a cloud,
a jewel, a snowflake
in her hand.

Monday, December 19, 2011

bukowski once more

you peruse
the book store
for something
of interest, down
the lanes of
fiction and poetry,
self-help
and sexuality.
war after war.
a three hundred
page biography
of a twelve year
old actor.
cookbooks and travel
guides. so much
to read in one's
lifetime, who
has that kind
of time to turn
each page
of mediocrity.
and the dollar books
seem so sad, out
front. thief proof,
set out by the doors
where they sit
and sit and sit
as you leave
with cheever or
updike, or
bellow, or bukowski,
once more.

the small hole

no matter how
sturdy the vessel,
the number
of hulls,
the thickness
of the deck
or the count
of lifeboats
on board. it takes
a just a small
hole to bring it
to the bottom
and send
the passengers
over the side
and into the cold
deep waters
clinging to
what they thought
was love.

waiting on winter

you prepare
for winter this
way. with bags
of salt. with a
good shovel.
gloves of course.
and a coat
that will keep
the wind out.
a hat, a scarf.
boots. you
chop wood
and set it in
the shed to keep
it dry. and then
you wait
and watch
the clouds,
the moon,
the leaves that
fall, the leaves
that rise. it's
the waiting
that's hard,
as you well know.

one of those

when the nurse
comes down the hall
in her soft
white shoes, you
scream out,
nurse, please
nurse, more morphine,
i need morphine,
which makes her
stop and peek her
head into your
room. morphine?
she says. what's
wrong with you,
and you point
at your toe
where there's
a small splinter
below the skin.
i see she says.
you're one of
those, aren't you?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the whirlwind

you chase fame
and fortune
like a dog
after his tail.
it never
comes, never,
but it doesn't
stop you from
trying,
from circling
and nipping
at your own
impossible
heels. and
when you look
across
the crowded
room, you see
the whirlwind
of others, not
unlike yourself
with their tail
just out of
reach.

remember when

remember when
he says, that day,
that year that game.
remember the time
we did this,
then that, and
what you said,
and how we laughed.
remember, he
says, over and over,
each time we meet.
remember, he says,
as if there is
no now, there is no
future, there
is only the dust
covered past.

apricot sun

the distance
of time, like
the smell
of memory are
there, but not
there, in your
hand, though
empty with
palm up.
the beginning
and not
yet the end,
though coming
is all in
front of you.
complete
like the apricot
sun that
you drive into
on your way home
from where
you were.

but it hurts

as i wiped
away with
the back of
my hand
the drops
of blood
on my pulsating
lip, i looked
at her and said,
why did you
bite me like that.
she smiled
and said because
i'm marking my
spot, my
territory
and then she
kicked me
in the leg.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baby Jesus

how could something
so small weigh
so much, you think
as you steal
the baby jesus
from the nativity
scene at the exxon
station. you carry
it across the greasy
parking lot, trying to
avoid looking into
the painted blue eyes
and place him into
the back of your honda
civic, moving last
year's easter bunny
out of the way.
you like the snoopy
dog too that floats
above the gas pumps,
but it's too large
and would look suspicious
floating over your house.
the front of the car rises
as the weight
settles into the trunk.
they've drilled a hole
in his belly button
and filled
it with cement this
year, with the hope
that something like
this wouldn't happen.
there is a chain
around his head, too,
attaching him
to the stack of all
weather radial tires
nearby, but you need
the baby jesus, you
love the baby jesus.
so after a few snips
of your chain cutter
it's yours. now it's
just a short trip
to the liquor store
some photos of you
and jesus and then
posting them onto
your facebook wall
so that everyone can
enjoy the moment.

Friday, December 16, 2011

pumping iron

you decide to lift
weights, to chisel
your pasty white
dough boy body
into a statue
worthy of a roman
god. you envision
your bulging
biceps and thick
shoulders and pecs.
you see yourself
on the beach holding
up two bikini babes,
one on each flexed arm,
high into the air.
but first you need a
bucket of crispy fried
chicken, some fries
and a slice
of cake before
you get the weights
out of the trunk
of your car. you
eat your lunch on
the step, slurping
on a coke and wait
patiently for someone
to come home from work
to help you get the
box of dumbells
into your house.
you are happy with
yourself. it's a new
you. a new day.

the day's end

it's the twinkle
of star
left over
for the morning.
the blink
of an eye, it's
the unopened
mail, the drink
left on
a bar. it's a
man next door
making love
to his wife,
it's the dog
howling at
the thin moon.
it's someone
saying no. someone
saying yes.
it's a crowded
freeway,
an unwed mother
on the side of
the road,
it's the torn
shirt, the ticket
stubs,
the jealousy
of others.
it's the gift
you never bought.
the lips
you never kissed.
it's the cancelled
plan, the hot
bath you crawl
into with
the lights off.
it's the end
of your day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the letter

i received your
letter in the mail
the other day.
it fell through
the slot in
the door.
not really.
nobody sends
letters anymore.
but i imagined
it just the same.
the paper that
you wrote upon,
the sealed envelope
and stamp fixed
firmly in
the corner.
the edges
crisp and white,
the paper folded
neatly into threes.
full of words
i longed to hear.
all of it in your
brisk, clean
style of writing
with pen and ink.
thank you.
yours will be
forthcoming, i'm
writing it now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

faith healing

at three
a.m. unable
to sleep
because shelia
won't leave
you alone
with her phone
calls and
text messages,
you flip
through the channels
on the tv.
your feet are
up on a taped
box of shelia's
belongings. things
that she's left
behind over the last
month of your
prolonged relationship.
clothes, shoes,
hairbrushes,
magazines and
her yoga mat, which
is rolled and folded
over, stuffed
within, but trying
to get out.
you flp through
the late night
debris of shows
until you come across
a faith healer
who is tapping
people on their heads
making them fall
backwards, cured
of their lumbago,
their itches
and limps, their
blurry vision
and hiccups. it's
amazing, as they
fling their crutches
away and start dancing.
it almost makes
you stop thinking
of shelia, until
the phone rings
again. there is
no cure for her,
but you take down
the number on the
screen, just in case.

italian mice

hungry for
italian,
you put a large
pot of water
on the stove
and turn the heat
up, then
you reach
up into the top
shelf of
the cupboard
for a box of
linguini and
take it out.
it's empty, hollow.
not a single
strand of pasta
left. the edges
and plastic
have been eaten
away. you look
up again
and see a few
fat mice
sititng there
at a table
with a very
small bottle
of red wine.
they look at you
and in unison,
and say, what?
you got
a problem?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

politics

the man
down the street,
the unofficial mayor
of the court
wants me to vote
for him
in the coming
condo board elections.
he's running
for vice president
on a platform
of earlier trash
pick ups
and doggy scoopers
for all residents.
if elected, he
said, i'll make
sure the trash
and poop are gone
from our sidewalks
and lawns.
what more could
we ask for, i said.
what more?

you're fired

mopping floors
washing dishes
a paper route,
cutting lawns
with a dull blade,
painting houses,
stuffing insulation
into walls,
pushing a wheel
barrow of bricks,
digging ditches,
pushing buttons
on a machine, these
are just some
of the jobs i've
been let go from,
and with their
absence i was
left feeling calm
and serene.

the gift

a tin of cookies
arrives in the mail.
wrapped and marked
merry christmas.
but you don't wait
for christmas
who would? such
patience is unheard
of.

Daisy

as the dog
lies down
and turns
her belly up
to you with
blinking brown
eyes and a
large pink
tongue wagging
wet across
her teeth.
you understand
such love,
of needing
affection,
and so kneel
to scratch
and pat the soft
belly of her
soul, doing
you more good
than her.

not the only one

all the appliances
break down
at once. the stove
as you bake
a cake, the washer
as you spin
a load of whites,
the furnance
as the temperature
drops to freezing.
you laugh though
and shrug it
off when you stare
out the window
and see a rabbit on
crutches limping,
you're not
the only one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the hidden key

you place
a spare key,
silvery and new
beneath a grey
round stone
in the yard.
you deem it her
key and tell
her to please
disregard all
the other
keys that may
still be out
there under
a brick, or
a potted plant,
or behind
the down spout
in a magnetic
box. those
other keys are
ancient history
you tell her. i
had the locks
changed and
this key fits.

marilyn

you wake
up in the arms
of marilyn
monroe, but
you aren't happy,
you know it's just
a dream, that
you are sleeping
and that the woman
beside you
in real life
is not her either.
but it's okay,
you're not much to
write home about
yourself these
days. you make
the most of the dream
though, you kiss
her neck and whisper
into her ear,
saying things like
i love you, i wish
you were really
here. but you don't
realize that you
are actually saying
these things out
loud until you
feel a slap against
your face, waking
you up. who the hell
is marilyn, your
wife says to you,
lifting off her eye
mask and taking
out her mouth guard
so that she doesn't
grind her teeth at
night. who is marilyn?
marilyn monroe,
you tell her, i was
having a dream. she
lets out a long
sigh, then turns
the light off,
putting her eye mask
on and her mouth guard
back in. now where
was i, you say
to yourself and
close your eyes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

in passing

you hear third
hand of a childhood
friend passing.
a small blurb
on a message board
as you stroll
through
the internet's
tangled web of
past and present.
it's chilling
this note of a man
as young as you,
as old as you,
as bright and
strong as you
now gone. you
remember well,
the long thin
scar on his face.
his smoothed
black hair,
the grin,
him holding a
frank zappa album
up to you
and pointing
at the cartoon
cover which says
weasel ripped
my flesh.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

a state of mind

as you stand
in the bathroom
wiping away
the steam from
the mirror with
the ball of your
hand, you lean
onto the sink
and gaze inward.
the phrase
age is just a
state of mind,
wanders into
your soggy brain
and you laugh.

i got the blues

i could have
been a singer, she
tells you one
night while you're
lying in bed, i could
have been a star.
then she starts
to sing. quietly
at first, but
louder as she
hits her stride,
sitting up in the bed.
before long there
are cats at
the window dogs
scratching at the door.
the neighbor up
above is banging
his cane against
the floor. i've seen
some hard times, she
says, between songs,
making her voice
deep and gravelly,
i've been down
a hard road, been
busted and broken,
my heart, my heart,
she begins to wail.
at this point you
throw a pillow at
her and say,
what's wrong with you?
we just made love
for ten, almost eleven
whole minutes.
aren't you tired?
i mean, it's really
late and i like
your singing, but
look at the time,
i have to go to
work tomorrow.
this is what i'm
talking about, she
says, settling
back onto the bed,
lying down. but
she keeps singing.
this love, this love
of ours, is not working
out, i got the blues,
i got the blues,
the she lifts some of
the pillows off your
head and whispers
into your ear one
last time,
i got the blues
and then some sort
of guitar noise.

Friday, December 9, 2011

lovers in the trees

etched into the grey
trunks of trees
are lover's words
intitials and names,
such as linda
loves steve, or d
plus j forever.
but the lovers are
gone now. off to
their own lives, so
different than the days
when they had time
to go to the creek
and stand with sharp
stones and carve
letters into the soft
green wood. their
lives are up the hill
in houses, full
of babies and bills
and televisions
that never turn off.
those trees are
forgotten now, those
words, those loves.
those dreams.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the meal

there is a point,
where you can,
at a table
sit without words,
or very few,
the bread is fresh
and warm,
the tomatoes
are sweet this year,
when little
needs to be said,
when so many
words have gone
before this meal,
more, she may say
and you nod. more
would be nice.
nothing left
unsaid, or said.
at this point
silence will
suffice.

xmas list

i like
diamonds,
she says
throwing her
hair back
over her shoulder
and leaning
towards you
in that way
she does when
she wants
to look sexy
and open
to suggestions.
diamonds, yes,
she says again.
you put your pen
down, and
say, what else
is on your list?
what's the tenth
thing that you
had in mind.
let's start there.

one winter

the sharper shovel
digs best in the cold,
when the earth
is frozen, your
boot striking
the stiff metal
edge to push the silver
curve into
mud thickened
ground. nine feet
deep, twelve
feet wide, three
feet across to
get to the crack
on the basement wall.
and at nineteen
you could dig all
day and loved it.
your new bones,
muscled and lean,
and freshly carved
face sweating below
a sun that hardly
knew you.

more windows

we need more
books, more
windows, more
light. we need
another opening
to let in
the sun,
to let
out the darkness
that we learned
so well
when we were
young.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

things to count on

her roof was leaking.
so there were pots
and pans scattered
about catching rain
drops as they slowly
made their way
through the shingles,
the wood, the drywall.
it was a symphony
of pings and drips
as she sat there
in her red boots
with a glass of wine
staring out the grey
seamless window
of river and sky.
the rain would stop.
the wine would run
out and things would
dry. these things
she could count on.

the metric system

what's that on your
wrist, that plastic
band, i asked her
as she was baking
a cake, the blender
was going strong
as the batter
spun in a large
glass bowl. it's my
conversion chart,
she said, cheerfully.
conversion for what?
i'm using the metric
system these days.
oh, really? yes,
it's eventually
going to be the only
form of measurement
used. hmm, yeah,
right i heard that
in the fourth grade
about a hundred years
ago. could you move
that cook book
a few centimeters
closer to me, i can't
see it, thanks.
oh, and get a gram
of butter out of the
fridge. oh, and can
you pull your car up
a few meters, my
new best friend
gina from germany
is on her way over.
where did you put
the vodka, i asked
her. i think i'm
going to need a drink.
check the freezer,
she said,
i think there's a
liter bottle in there.

cold coffee

he was a stubborn
child. no, was a
word he used quite
often. never, was
another, folding
his short thick
arms across his
little barreled
chest. and when his
breath was held,
and made his skin
a shade of bruised
blue, he'd get his way,
whatever he thought
best for him, never
for you. i see him
every morning these
days, his hands tight
and red on the wheel,
cursing the traffic,
or stamping his
feet when the train
is late, or the coffee
cold, and weak.

it looks like rain

the unspoken
words are
usually
the ones
that need
to be said.
funny how that
is. how we
avoid the truth,
how we keep
each other
in the dark,
including
ourselves. so
much easier
to say, it's
cold out,
it looks
like rain.
take your
overcoat, please,
don't be late
again.

for roland flint

and when the poet,
dead now,
came to read at
the community college
carrying a briefcase
from his work
at georgetown,
the late night class
sat impatiently
with their own poems
and stories waiting
to be read. and
as the bearded man
took off his coat,
adjusted his glasses
and tiredly read
the one about chopping
wood and aging,
and then the one about
a son who dies young
and a daughter
who still mourned
the loss, the thought
of us going after him
seemed impossible,
and so as one,
the class went out
to feed him, and pour
drinks down his
tired and wisened
soul, and to give him
another night, perhaps,
to write about.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the ink cards

okay, she says,
now i want you to say
the first thing
that comes into your
mind when i hold
up this card. don't
hesitate, just stare
at the image and
say a word that
you think of.
so she holds up
the first card.
spilled ink you say
right away.
she turns it over
and says, okay,
the next one.
more spilled ink
you say. no, she says,
you don't get it
do you? say something
else other than
spilled ink. but it's
what i'm thinking
of when i see
the card. aaargh, she
says, say spider,
or elephant, or
your mother, something
like that. but why.
wouldn't i be
doing that to please
you? you just don't
get it do you? she
says, can't you play
along? no, you say.
that's why i'm here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

the land of her

your hands move
slowly down
the length of her,
feeling each
crevice, each soft
turn of hip
and breast.
the wetness of her
lips, the lobe
of her ear. your
hands move
across the land
of her, the closed
mystery of who
she is beside you
and where she
comes from.
your hands move
across the bridge
of her nose,
the velvet arc
of her eyebrow,
the rise of her
neck, the small
island of her soul.
your hands move
trying to learn
all of the things
you'll never
quite know.

the empty jar

you put an empty
jar upon the stoop
in front of your
house. it has no
lid. when it rains
the rain gets in,
when it snows, like
wise, and then
the sun and wind
blow it dry and
clear again. and
people ask when
they come to visit,
time and time again
about the jar. but
you don't feel a
need to explain.
it's beyond words,
you tell them and no,
it has nothing
to do with love or
the lack thereof.

white christmas

you decide to get
into the christmas
spirit, so you buy
some eggnog and a bottle
of rum from the local
liquor store.
the clerks are all
wearing reindeer
antlers on their
heads and christmas
music is cascading
down through the well
lit aisles as you make
your purchase. on the way
out you drop some
change into the salvation
army bucket as a santa
rings the bell. you go
home and fix yourself
a nice holiday drink
while pulling out
the box from
the hall closet full
of lights and stockings,
old greeting cards,
candles and ornaments.
you ponder getting
a real tree this year
and so pull out
the string of lights
first. somehow they
are all wrapped in a
large ball, entangled.
you stand back, looking
at the mess, sipping
your drink. you put
on some christmas music.
lining up a stack of albums
onto the stereo.
the scratches are hardly
noticeable as the needle
slides along. sinatra,
the bingster, andy
williams, madonna,
then you attempt
to unravel the lights.
you plug them in
and they all light up.
some of the strings
are blinking.
but you can't
find the end, the middle
or the beginning.
at this point it's
time for for another drink.
you put a candle in
the kitchen window, then
fix a tall eggnog, sprinkling
a dash of nutmeg on top
like you see them do
on the cooking channel
then go back
to the lights. in
the bottom of the xmas
box you discover beneath
a book about the rockettes an
unopened tin of cookies
from swiss colony. you
can't read the smudged
name on the tag, but it
looks something like
love, mom, or close
to that. they are wafers
mostly, but still fresh
and crisp as you begin
to eat them.
the lights are impossible
to unravel, but they are
a brightly lit and colorful
tumbleweed of wires,
which is kind of nice
in it's own way. you roll
the ball of lights
into the corner where
the tree was going to go.
you decide to take a rest
and lie down on the couch,
turning the lights
off except for your
ball of lights. you
finish off your second
drink, and some cookies
while the dog jumps
onto your chest to
get the crumbs off.
before you know it
you are sound asleep with
the lights blinking
in the corner,
and the record stuck
and skipping on
white christmas. i'm
dreaming, i'm dreaming,
i'm dreaming, bing
says long into the night.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

a can of soup

hungry,
you reach up into
the cupboard
to pull out a
can of soup,
and you stare
at your arm,
stopping for an
instant to gaze
at the grey
hair, the thin
long bone
and flesh of
you. it's just
a can of soup,
but you see
the years gone by,
the meals that
are yet to come.

the night

you twist
beneath the sheets
as the old
radiator clangs
throughout
the night. your
bed is cold
despite the cat
beside you.
the moon, hangs
in the window,
within a scarf
of clouds, it says
nothing, it says
everything. and
morning seems
so far away.

visualization

she wanted
new shoes, so
she visualized
a pair of dark blue
heels and she
found them in a store
the next day.
and then there
was the dress
to go with it.
silky and sequined,
something for
a party, and she
saw it in the window
of neiman marcus.
and of course
the handbag. all
visualized and soon
purchased at
nordstorm's rack.
then she thought
long and hard,
visualizing a man
to fall in love
with who would
go to a party
with her, someone
to fit her every need,
and then i showed up.
i guess it doesn't
always work, she
thought.

leftovers

a man on the street
sees you carrying
a box of food,
leftovers from
the meal you just
ate in a restaurant,
and without
hesitation or shame,
says, are you going
to eat that.
he's wearing shorts
in thirty degree
weather, a headband,
red white and blue.
there is a backpack
heavy on his
back. wild eyed
and bearded, he stands
and waits for an
answer. you hand
him the styrofoam
box and he begins to
walk with you.
thank you, he says.
and then begins to
tell you a brief tale
of his life story.
you nod politely,
but try to get away,
he asks you how we
should solve
the illegal
immigration problem.
you tell
him you don't know,
then move quickly
to the other side
of the street.
he stops, and when
you look back,
he's sitting on
the curb, eating
pizza. talking
to strangers about
the end of the world.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

the hot sign

you want a donut
badly. all day
and all night
for a week you've
been thinking about
nothing but
donuts. chocolate
covered, glazed.
jelly filled,
long delicate
eclairs and
cinammon donuts
fresh from a hot
oven. your lust
for donuts
has taken over
your mind. you go
online and browse
pastry sites.
clicking on each
image wishing it
was yours to bite
into. your mouth
hangs open like
a madman, drooling
onto your desk.
your stomach
gurgles at the photos
of donuts all in a
row, in neatly
packed boxes.
some sitting alone
on white plates,
with a cup of coffee
beside them. long
ones, short ones,
fat ones without
holes, which aren't
called donuts, but
something else. oh,
how you wish you
had a donut. you put
your hand on the phone
to call your sponser,
but you don't call.
the tempatation is
too great, you've lost
all willpower and
finally you give in.
you put on your loose
fitting pants
and take a drive.
it's time, you
can't hold out any
longer and you go
downtown, and slowly
roll by the donut
shop, staring into
the window, you see
a waitress gently
putting her hands
onto the racks,
dropping
donuts, sometimes
two at a time into
boxes and bags,
but you can
wait a little longer,
and you circle
the block. you are
waiting for
the hot sign
to flash on.

new friends

a dog follows
me home one night.
he has a friend
with him. a black
and white cat.
neither have
collars or tags,
or leashes. when
i turn around
to look at them,
ten yards behind
me, they stop
and talk to one
another, pretend
indifference.
the cat rubs her
back up against
a streetlamp,
while the dog
absently chews
on a stick, pretending
indifference. so
i keep walking
until i get
to my house. they
are still there
behind me,
but closer now.
i turn around to
face them, and say
what's up. why
are you following
me. the dog
is sitting
on his hind legs
with his tongue out
and shrugs his
shoulders, while
the cat is rolled
over on her back
purring, tossing
up a ball of yarn
she had with her,
okay, okay, i say
to the both of them.
come in. let's see
what we can do.

Friday, December 2, 2011

yoga class

in an effort to get
in touch with my inner
being and get more healthy
i decided to take a
yoga class. i went
out and bought some
blue tights, and a yoga
mat that rolled up
nice and neat under
my arm. the first
session, there were
only eight people,
all women except for
me and a guy in wheel
chair who was smoking
a cigarette that
the instructor
made him put out.
we did breathing
exercises first, which
i aced. i got the
breathing down really
fast, although i did
almost black out at
one point, breathing
a little bit too
enthusiastically.
i was a little self
conscious, so i lined
up in the back row.
i'm not normally walking
around in blue tights
looking like one
of the sugarplum
fairies in
the nutcracker suite.
then we started doing
some more complicated
poses, which i failed
at. my legs wouldn't
bend much, or go behind
my ears. the praying
mantis, forget about
it. the instructor
finally came over
and tried to help
me cross my legs, but
i think i injured my
knee as she pressed
one leg beneath the
other. i let out a loud
scream, which sort of
broke the medatative
mood of the place.
i told her that i'm
usually a lot looser
after a few drinks,
but she said no drinking
during class. so i
asked her what she was
doing later. if she'd
like to grab a drink
downstairs at the hunan
kitchen right below
the studio. she was
really cute and was
able to stand on her
head, and do the splits
without tumbling over.
i really really
liked that. no, she
said emphatically. no.
in fact, i think you
should roll up your
mat and just leave.
and take your friend
in the wheel chair too.
but we just paid ten
dollars i said and we
really want to learn.
she gave me a twenty
and pointed at the
door while the rest
of the class, very
unyogi like clapped
like seals.
so we left and went
downstairs for some
noodles and a mai tai.

what love is

she loved to
paint all day.
standing by
the window
with her canvas,
her pallet
of paints
and brushes.
but her horses
looked like
cows, her vases
looked like
jars. the colors
were wrong,
and the faces
unrecognizable.
so when she asked
how do you like
it, what
i've done today.
there was no other
answer, but to
say, i love it.
i love it as
i love you.

the penny

the penny that
you drop
that rolls
and spins
to a sudden
stop flat
upon it's
lincoln
face will
lie there
for a long
long time.
a season or
two, or three
until someone
bends with
luck in mind
to pick it
up and see,
just see
perhaps, if
things will
start to
look up without
a thought
to lincoln's
own misfortune
and obvious
lack of luck.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

from russia, with love

my friend olga,
from moscow,
and i were
making some stew
the other night.
a cold front had
moved in and
the weather made
one crave for
comfort food.
i will bring
the meat and the
potatoes she said
over the phone.
you bring vodka.
yes? she isn't
exactly a petite
woman, so i pretty
much listen
to whatever she says.
she likes to cook
with her hair in
a net, stirring
the broth with a long
wooden spoon. i asked
her what kind of meat
she was slicing
and dicing,
dropping into
the boiling cauldron
of potatoes and carrots.
don't worry about it
my little friend,
she said. fix me
a drink. meat is meat.
in russia, it is
impolite to ask what
kind of meat it is,
you are cooking.
you are spoiled and
soft here with your
free range chickens
and angus beef.
just eat it. she
turned and smiled
at me showing her
eastern bloc gold
teeth. the lipstick
didn't help much.
her cheeks were
rosy from the heat
of the stew and her
sleeves were rolled
up above the elbows.
she had the window
open as snow
began to fall
and blow in, melting
against her face.
where is my drink,
she said. i took
a sip of mine and
handed her a glass
of vodka on the rocks.
what are you drinking?
what is that green
drink you are sipping
like a girl? it's
an apple martini, olga.
you aren't a sissy man
are you, she said,
throwing down her drink
in one gulp.
no, i'm not, i said,
and dropped the red
cherry into my mouth.
i beg to differ.

what was her name?

as your cell
phone sinks slowly
to the bottom
of the tub,
having slipped
out of your soapy
hand, and you
listen to the gurgling
voice of the person
you were just
talking to just
before it shorts
out, and the phone
goes dark,
you close your
eyes and try
to remember a girl
you knew in school,
how you talked for
hours on the black
kitchen phone,
it's curly stretched
cord reaching the
top of the baseent
stairs, the wire
running below a
closed door. what
was her name?

wish list

you make a list
of things you want
not things you
necessarily need,
but want, a wish
list, if you
must. a new kitchen
would be nice.
a new stove,
a white glass
floor, candy apple
red cabinet doors.
a new car. a real
vacation. not those
two or three days
away, but two
weeks where you can
loosen up, feel
the sun get into
your bones and make
you forget where
you came from.
it wouldn't be
a long list,
and of course
you'd be on
that list too.

the well

some mornings
you drop
your bucket
down into
the well, but
there is nothing.
just the hollow
sound of metal
hitting bottom.
no water comes
up. but if
you're lucky,
if you're blessed
someone comes
over with a tall
glass of water
to get you through
the day.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

in reverse

the car, old,
with rust, a pale
blue, now almost
grey like
that of a poet's
lock whose
time has come and
gone and isn't
read or understood
anymore.
it only moved
in reverse now,
going backwards
over all the roads
it took before.
like memory,
unwinding
at life's end,
as that curtain
drops and
there is no more.

photograph

though fine,
the photograph
of you
is who you were
a few minutes ago,
not who you are
now, or who you
will be tomorrow.
but it will
suffice and get
me through
another day,
then night.
i'll keep it close
beside me,
not far from
my pillow,
not far from
the windowed
light.

the seven date rule

i have a seven
date rule, she
says. so keep
your paws to
yourself. thus
the cobwebs about
you, i answer.
the rust, the dust.
you'll get nowhere
with that attitude
buddy, she replies.
nowhere is where
i am right now. so
what's the difference.
charmer, aren't
you, she says. not
really. just
annoyed. eat your
calamari, i have
to go in seven
minutes. my rule.

into the blue

in the air,
off the board
sprung high
into the blue
and white
sky of youth
you arrow up
then bend and
knife with
little splash
into the pool.
and only
by touching
bottom, your
knee, an elbow
perhaps,
with a scrape,
a strawberry,
will you see
some future,
some hint or clue
as to what
is ahead of you.

a cloud, the moon and blood

while you listen
to the poet,
who read her
work with
firey passion,
explain her
words, answer
questions
as to what
a cloud means,
or the moon,
or a drop
of blood,
you can
see her feet
tap below
the desk
her soul
inching out
the door like
smoke, wanting
to vent and be
done.

the chase

when the dog
got loose
to chase a cat
and ran and ran
until he couldn't
run no more, you
watched him
from the porch
as he disappeared
into the woods.
you stood there
with your cup
of coffee and
waited. he'd
be back before
dark. tired
and yet happy
to be free.
he reminded
you so much
of who you were.

lessened

a few degrees
less and there
will be frost
on the cars
a clean sheet
of ice to tend
with when
stepping out into
your day.
the world will
shrink in
slight defensive
ways, protecting
itself from what
goes on and what
is yet to come
under the lessened
light and sun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

toy shrek story tron transporter

while the movie
fades and the credits
roll and the music
sinks in as the lights
go up over
the rows and rows
of emptying seats,
she asks me if i liked
it, and i say, of
course. it was grande,
sublime, i love
the way they animate
things these days,
who doesn't like
a good cartoon?
it'll change my life
in time. okay, she
says, then you pick
the next one. oh, i
will, i say, i will.

pie girl

there is
no pie
like her pie.
the crust
is soft and
crumbly.
the apples
baked just
right, not
too sweet,
not too hard
or light.
and the
cinammon she
sprinkles
on the top
is just
enough to make
you smile
and bend
and sniff
and stop
and cut a
slice for
now, and one
to take away.
i think i'll
see her again,
some day.

girl with the orange mohawk

the girl
with the orange
mohawk
and a silver
stick pin
through her
lip, a pearl
in her tongue,
asked me with
a slight slur
and drool,
if i had
found everything
that i wanted
as my groceries
rolled along
on the belt.
yes. i said,
but if i think
of anything else
i'll be sure to
come back in after
unloading these
groceries into
the trunk of
my car. she wiped
her mouth
with the store
smock, and smiled,
and without saying
anything, said,
whatever,
grandpa.

good talk

what exactly are
you looking for
the therapist says
while you lie
prone on her couch
staring at the water
stain on her
white tiled
ceiling. i don't
know, you say,
glancing
around the room,
there are diplomas
in black frames
behind glass, and
some dried fake
flowers in a vase
on the sill.
an air freshener
is stuck to the
rattling radiator.
something
real, you blurt out,
someone simple
and yet complicated.
but with nice
legs. i really like
legs. nice legs,
she says. isn't
that a little
shallow. hey, you
say, leaning your
head up, aren't you
supposed to be helping
me, not judging me?
oh, right she says.
so we have a few
minutes left, let's
talk about your
desire to meet
someone with nice
legs. is she tall,
short, describe
her for me. is she
funny, smart too?
of course you say.
pffft. what am i some
kind of dope? okay,
okay, she says, so
tell me, did your
mother have nice
legs? you sit up
and stare at her,
what kind of a sick
question is that,
why are you bringing
my mother into this.
geez marie. she
scribbles a little
note onto her pad
then says, well
looks like our time
is up for today, good
talk good talk. i
think we're getting
some where.

Monday, November 28, 2011

free falling

in a moment of
insanity you decide
to jump out of a plane
over orange county.
you are in a rattling
small prop plane
with a boney old man
in a mustache at
the controls.
you have a silk
parachute attached
to your back. you've
been versed in the
act of jumping, of
floating, of pulling
the string, the backup
string, the emergency
string. you've said
your prayers and left
a note on the kitchen
counter. to whom it
may concern, it says.
take care of my cat
and split up the rest.
and as you float
serenely over
the quilted landscape,
of green plotted
land, of low trees
and sparse farms,
you turn to the pilot
and ask him if he
would kindly just
push you out with his
boot, you are not
the kind who jumps.
and so he does,
and away you go.

the last leaf

as ships go
down, and new ships
leave the harbor,
as the sun
sets and another
one rises,
as love ends and
a new one
begins, don't fret,
for the pattern
is eternal.
ask the last leaf
on the tree.

the swim

in the end
you slip quietly
into the sea,
back from where
you started.
the earth being
so much water,
as you are.
rising and falling
on some unseen
cue. and it's
just a short
visit that we
stand, and walk
about, before
the next swim
begins again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

in flight

there are birds
in the air.
scattered like
marks against paper.
blue birds
and starlings,
doves and blackbirds.
there's a cardinal
on the fence.
there are
sparrows perched
on the well.
the world is in
flight, or
waiting to be
and you want your
wings now,
it's time.

the weight

she no longer
counted her poems,
numbering them
on the far
right corner
with a black pen.
instead, she
weighed them
on a scale,
stacking the pages
and pages of
poetry like berries,
like meat,
like fish from
the market. and in
this way, she
measured out her
love, her memories
her losses
and years. that
relationship, she'd
say was two
pounds worth
of writing, or
that death, or parent
still gaining,
another page or
two, add more.

the broken plate

she holds the broken
fragment of a porcelain
dish up to the sunlight,
her hands full of mud.
she turns it over
and over, carefully
wiping away the dirt
to see the detail
and color of this dish
tossed away a hundred
years ago, or more
and she wonders how
it fell, or was it
thrown, or just slipped
out of someone's
hand when the news
came that she couldn't
believe, or begin
to understand.

the storm

with everything
you had to say
being said, you
say, it looks like
rain and point out
to where the clouds
have formed in
tall cathedrals.
feel how the wind
has picked up,
how the leaves
have curled like
soft green palms.
it looks like
it's going to rain
you say, but with
her arms folded she
doesn't come out
from behind the screen
door. you stand
on the porch
and watch a spike
of lighting
sizzle down into
the far off trees.
come in, she says,
come in. but you
don't, it feels
safer where you stand.

the red planet

let's go to mars
she says,
over coffee. it
only takes eight
months to get
to the red planet
and float slowly
down onto the hot
crust laden
surface. no.
you tell her,
you'll miss earth,
the coffee,
the atmosphere,
things like that.
but you go, i'll
wait.

Friday, November 25, 2011

buy two ovens, get the third one free

while you stand
in line at twelve
o one waiting for
the department store
to open so that you
can get another
tv, two inches
larger than the one
you have at half
the cost, you can
see the big
dipper over head
and all the constellations
as clear as the broken
glass glimmering in
the parking lot
that wraps around the
back of the cinderblock
store. and there
is a commraderie
of souls, with
their newspaper
clippings, their
coupons and cell
phones, all huddled
together, travelling
to this new world
where life is wonderful
with one more thing.
and you get a glimpse
of what it must be
like to be in
steerage as the titantic
sailed across
the north atlantic
on a night like this,
black friday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

father

you see him running
towards the woods
of nova scotia,
across the field,
his blonde hair
in his blue eyes.
his legs
long and lean
barefooted
in fast strides,
looking over his
shoulder, come catch
me, he says, come
run with me, i
don't want to be
alone when i
get there,
but you can't
run with him, it's
not your turn,
not yet, it's his.

the other side

you take your
shoes off
to cross the creek.
the water
is high and grey
in the low
sun of november.
you can see blue
stones along
the bottom, cold
and round
in their beds.
there are trees
that have fallen
across, broken
and being washed
away. too fragile
to walk upon.
you roll up
your pants
in the shadows
of rock
and leafless
trees
holding your
shoes high
in the air, there
is a patch of
sun in the green
moss that will
warm your feet,
and like a tight
rope walker
you cross
the water
to the other side.

pumpkin pie

you come home
late one night
after having a few
egg nogs with your
friends and there
is a pie sitting
on the kitchen
table. it's still
warm. there's
no one around, but
there's a note
beside it. don't
touch, it says,
we're taking it
to your mother's
tomorrow for
the holiday. it's
for dessert. you
go to the steps
and listen up.
nothing. no
lights are on.
everyone is sound
asleep. you go
back to the kitchen
and turn off
the light, you
crack open the fridge
to let out a
wedge of bright
white light at
an angle upon the
table and the pie.
you grab a gallon
of milk, pour
yourself a tall
glass, then get
a dish, a knife
and fork. at this
point the dog
wanders in and puts
his head into your
lap, his paws on
the chair. his
tongue is out as he
too stares at the
freshly baked pie
covered in a thin
plastic sheet.
beads of sweat
are on your forehead
now as you lift
the pie up, peeling
back the wrap and sniff
at it's tender crust,
you lick the tip of
your finger to lift
a crumb into your
watering mouth.
the scent of sweet
pumpkin is wafting
into your nose,
into your lungs,
down into your hungry
belly. the dog
bares his teeth,
drooling and licks
his chops. just one
piece you say
to the dog, who
appears to be nodding
and smiling, agreeing
that just one piece,
won't get us into
too much trouble.
so you carefully,
like a safecracker
drop the cold knife
into the meaty pie
carving out a perfect
wedge and then
lifting it onto your
plate. you cut a
sliver for the dog
whose tail is beating
fiercely now
against the table leg.
you put his dish
onto the floor, then
dig gently into your
slice when the light
goes on. there is the
woman who baked it,
your wife, with her
hands on her hips,
a scowl on her face.
you don't care do you,
what i say. you just
do whatever you want
don't you? you shrug
your shoulders and
meekly say, the couch
tonight? she shakes
her head and leaves
the room, not
answering. the dog
is rattling the plate
across the floor,
licking it clean.
then it occurs to you,
how could you, why
would you, what has
possessed you to eat
this pie without
whipped cream. you
reach onto the fridge
shelf and find
the can, spraying
it liberally onto
the pie and a squirt
or two into the dog's
open mouth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

willis the turkey

you decide this
year to buy a live
turkey, no more
frozen butterballs
for you. you want
some fresh meat.
so you ride
out to the country
taking the back
roads to a farm
that sells full grown
turkeys. you carefully
select one from
the barnyard full
of them, then put
him in the back
seat of your car.
you soon realize
though that you
should have
bought a cage for
him as he begins to
peck at the back
of your head
while you drive.
fortunately you have
a loaf of wonder
bread with you
that you were going
to make stuffing
with. you rip it open
and start throwing
back shredded slices
to keep the turkey
occupied. you put
some of the bread on
your neck where
you are bleeding from
where he's nipped
you with his beak.
you find yourself
calling him willis
for some reason
as he gobbles and
jerks about. you keep
an eye on him in
the mirror as he
struts back and
forth across the
back seat. you turn
the radio up which
seems to get him
going. his wings
flapping, his head
bobbing. by the time
you hit route 66
you've bonded with
this turkey and
there is no way
you can chop his head
off and eat him so
you pull into the safeway
and get the last
butterball turkey
from the frozen bin
and another loaf
of wonder bread.
they seem to be out
of turkey leashes
so you buy some
shoelacess
and tie them all
together. this will
have to do as you
walk him down
the street.

queen

she was sitting up
on the tall bed
with pillows behind
her head, in her
silk robe reading a
book on past lives
and reincarnation.
i was in the bathroom
scrubbing the floor
and spraying windex
onto the mirror.
i think i may have
been a queen in a
past life, she says
to me, putting
the book down and taking
a sip of tea that
i had brought up
on a tray. what,
i said, rubbing
my knees from
kneeling on the hard
tile. what makes you
say that. i'm not sure
she says, but sometimes
when i fall asleep
at night i can sense
my former self, i
can see pyramids
being built for me.
and you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

paris is waiting

how much
can you reduce
your price
the woman says
as she slides
into her fur
and adjusts
the diamonds
dripping from
her ears. i
want a lower
price if you
want the work.
i know others who
will do it for
far less, but
i like you, and
wish for you
to do it for me.
so how much
can you take off.
please tell me,
i need catch my
flight. paris
is waiting
and your truck
is dripping oil
onto my driveway.

on to you

i'm on to you,
you say, before
you go to sleep
and offer up a
pale prayer
of petition
you've said
a thousand
times before,
or more.
i'm on to you
you say,
of your sly
and jealous ways,
your quiet
inattention,
holding and not
holding all
within your hands,
turning nights
into stars, and
suns into days.
i'm on to you,
you say, before
falling fast asleep,
to the silence
to the mystery,
to a universe
unfazed.

a key ring

sometimes
the jiggle of
a key ring,
or the sound
of a shoe
walking
across the floor,
or a whistle
or a doorbell,
a knock
upon the door
can make you
remember her,
not exactly
of course, but
just enough
to make you wish
you were there
once more.

power lines

as the men
with an orange
ladder lean
high upon the tree
with tools
to cut the limbs
that hang onto
the power lines
you see
the fear within
their eyes, not
unlike those
standing on
the platform
awaiting the city
train that
takes them to
their offices
for the next thirty
years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the brown coat

she left
her coat inside
the closet.
there was a hair
brush in
one pocket.
a scarf around
the collar
that smelled
of her perfume.
it was a long
coat as brown
and vacant
as the trees
outside the window.
it kept her
warm as we
walked along
the path.

wanting more

and sometimes
the story has
no ending. there
is no hero,
no love restored,
no losers, no
winners, it
just drifts off
into fading light
as the reel
ends and the credits
appear in
black against
the white
while the music
plays and plays.
and when the lights
go up, and you
are still sitting,
somehow expecting
more, you can't
help but feel that
there is something
missing as you
go back to your
own life, to your
own unfinished
story.

the pattern of falling leaves

as winter
approaches and
love unwinds
and the leaves
of days
turn color
and fall behind,
you see the bitter
sweet pattern
of what your
life has become
over time,
both yours,
and mine.

pulling the sled

low on vodka
and limes
you look outside
the front door
at the three
feet of snow
on the ground
and still falling.
your two dogs
are staring at
you, knowing
in a way what's
on your mind.
and you say to
them both, we
can do this
my little friends.
let's go!
but they run
before you
can get the
reins around
their chubby
dashcund necks.

the message

she missed
the last step
and fell.
the wind
was blowing,
it was dark
the ground
was covered
in wet leaves.
clouds
were over the
full moon.
none of this
she noticed
until she
tumbled
over and as she
lay there
thinking,
she finished
texting her
friend gina
about a new
dress she saw
in macy's window,
while rubbing
the bump
on her head.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

tired of the man keeping me down

i was at the protest
rally in zucchini
park the other day.
i had just bought
a new full length
cashmere coat to wear
and had some day glow
signs made up
by my friend donna
the graphics artist.
they were very expensive
but quite nice
and easy to hold
with the maple sticks
they were attached to.
we disagreed on the font,
but i gave in cause
she knows what
she's doing
and i don't.
there was a coffee
shop nearby, so i
picked up an extra
hot grande latte
with four shots
of espresso to get
me through the hour.
i was tired of the
man keeping me down
and came to show
my support, but
my legs were tired
too and wished
there had been a few
more chairs around.
it was hard to hold
the sign, my coffee
and text my friends
while standing up
and chanting 'hell
no we won't go'. umm,
no that was the last
protest i attended
in the late sixties.
whoops, my bad. no
wonder people were
staring at me.

the script

you are to make
a movie of your life.
you write an outline
starting from
the beginning, from
birth, from before
that, to the point
where your parents
are born, then proceed
from there. through
schools, through
books, playgrounds
on wintry days, summers
on the beach. a first
kiss. a first love,
heartbreak and renewal.
there are brothers
and sisters.
the plot inevitably
thickens, the characters
disperse, they come
and go for no
apparent reasons,
you move from town
to town, you have a dog,
you have a cat, you
have a son, you buy
a red chair. suddenly
there is too much
detail and you've
written a script for
thousands. you stop
and throw it all into
the fire. you start
over, with no script.
you decide to make
the film in black
and white, keep it
simple, keep it real.
you press the button
and start now. there
is a cup of coffee
in your hand,
and the phone is
ringing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

the hat

the wind
blows your hat
free on
the street
so you bend
to pick it up
but it rolls
and flips
from side
to side down
the boulevard
through
an alley, across
the park, it
tumbles further
in the gusts that
lift it up
and set it down
again. there
is no catching
your hat as
the wind keeps
it just out of
reach until
you are in a place
you don't want to
be. and this is
how some days
are, taken away
from where
you were.

lady bug

in another life
i was a bug,
she says, a lady
bug for sure.
encased in a shiny
orange shell
with black
dots and thin
short legs
like exclamation
points. and
when my wings
opened, it was
an event, both
natural and unatural
as my round
soul flew into
the air like
bits of candy
searching for
an open hand
to land on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

yellow cab

you climb into
the yellow cab
which screeches
to a halt on
broadway and
slam the door.
the g force
pulls you back
into the seat
as the red digital
numbers spin like
a vegas slot
machine. you are
inches from
death, doing
sixty between lights
caromming towards
so ho. you grab
the strap above
the seat and ask
the driver how
many people die
a year in his
cab or gets hit,
and he laughs,
adjusts his turban
while eating
a gyro and says
no one dies in
my cab. everyone
survives. which
you tell him
is good to know
as you look at
the meter and
start counting money.

at the met

you visit
the met one
cool spring
day in new york
and lean
towards
the armor
glistening
behind
the glass. no
arrows could
penetrate
the rounded
shoulders
and sharp
edged hat,
the lance is
there too, so
long and
balanced in
the glove
of grey mail.
and it makes
you think about
your own armor.
so different
and yet so alike
in so many ways,
protecting
the heart.

the cat

a cat comes down
the steps
to see who is
in the house
and peers around
the corner at
you. he's striped
golden like
the bends of
sunlight through
the blinds.
he blinks his
sleepy green eyes
and yawns to show
his perfectly
sharp white
teeth then licks
his paw to rub
against his ear.
he watches you
moving about the
room as you work,
he stretches,
arching his
tall back,
having seen enough
and goes back
to where he
came from happy
to just be a cat.

black birds

these black birds,
out the window,
dozens on the wire
so loud and brash
with shiny wings
and bright sharp
beaks. they swarm
in slow clouds
almost falling
in their flight.
going nowhere. they
seem to know things
that you don't.

staying in

you sleep in
and let the day
unfold without
you. let the rain
fall, the clouds
keep their
curtains closed.
you let the phone
ring, the door
go unanswered.
the paper stays
put on the porch.
there is no news
you need to know
today. you put
on tea, you find
a book you've read
before and settle
in to wile away
these quiet hours.

on the curb

you separate
the tin
from the plastic
the paper
from the glass,
the cruel
from the good.
there is less
and less
worth saving
these days
when so much
can be put out
with the trash.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

flu shot

she takes
a needle and
slides it
into your arm,
there you
go, she says,
wiping the dot
of blood
away with a
cotton swap.
you are flu
free for
another year.
and within
two weeks
you are flat
on your back
in a bed, unable
to breath,
coughing up
a lung as you
sneeze and
cool your brow
with an ice
pack. you
shiver and sweat
all at the same
time not wanting
death, but
not altogether
dismissing
the idea. never
again you vow,
if you recover,
will you get a
flu shot
from your barista
while waiting
for coffee.

your weather

undecided,
the weather
ever shifting
from grey and cold
to bright and warm
not unlike
the weather of you
so sunny some
days between
the stretches
of december's
dark and gloom.
i have my
finger in the air
testing your
wind, your rain,
the pressure
of your kiss.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

conversational cliches

for when you
can't come up
with any lucid
original thinking
of your own:
apply liberally
and use in any
dish of stagnated
discussion looking
for a way out.
like really?
really? (make eyes
bug out and turn
head slightly to
either side, making
direct eye contact
with the individual
you are mocking)
it is what
it is. (this catch
all phrase is
good for all tragic
events, funerals,
train wrecks, other
unexplainable events,
ie., see republican
debates, reality tv
etc.) not so much.
this can be used at
the end of a one
word declaration.
such as: lima beans,
ummm, not so much.
really? just keep
saying this all
day long
and people will
think you're actually
listening to them.
ya think? (jut chin
forward with look
of clever arrogance
on your face) ya think?
who's your
daddy? oldie, but
still effective
after a few beers.
it connotes dominance
over another
individual in a
sporting event such
as foosball.
i'm not a fan of, etc.
this can be used
for anything you
don't like, such
as i'm not a big
fan of women
with fishing hooks
sticking out
of their lips.
peace out, also, right
on, keep the faith,
i'm outta here,
and see you on
the flip side. all
meaning, it's a
gots to go situation,
or later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

girl with black hair

she stands
with hands on
hips
in central
station,
her black
welsh hair
around her
shoulders
awaiting no
train, just
passing
through
on her way
to somewhere
new with you.

pizza with emily dickinson

there was a light knock on the door
as i settled into my recliner
watching a rerun of Gunsmoke.
I was eating an anchovy pizza,
just delivered, still hot
in the box, the steam rising into my eyes.
i looked through the peephole,
squinting one eye.
it was my neighbor from upstairs,
emily. yeah. that emily,
the poet. ms. dickinson herself.
she had her spiral notebook in hand
and a pencil. she loved writing in pencil.
she had her usual violets pinned
to her white dress
and her hair up in a bun.
what, i said. what do you want?
i'm having dinner.
i'm stuck she said, in her high pitched
voice, i need some help with this poem
i'm working on.
geez marie, okay,okay, let me get
some pants on. I put the dog
in the other room, then let her in.
she sat down on the sofa
as i lowered the tv.
let me hear what you got so far.,
I said. sitting back down
with my pizza.
is this a new poem, or an old
one? you have a tendency to
over work the old ones, I told
her, wiping some sauce off
my chin.
oh no, no, she said. it's a new one.
well, read it to me, pizza?
I held the box out to her, opening
the lid to show her the slices.
sorry, i'm clean out of carrots and lettuce.
no, she said, i don't eat meat, or
cheese, or anything delivered in a box.
suit yourself, I said. more for me.
okay, go. read.
she started reading her new poem, slowly, as
she liked to do, never looking up,
her fingers tapping her lips nervously,
her high laced boots clicking against
one another.
"because i could not stop for lunch,
i had a cup of tea.
i wore a hat outside today
because of the buzzing bees."
that's all i have so far
she said, shrugging her narrow shoulders,
and shyly looking at her poem.
i took a sip of my beer and another bite
of pizza. it stinks I said. what kind of
a lame poem is that? it makes me sleepy.
i want to take a nap after hearing a poem
like that. what the hell are the bees all about.
at this point she started to cry,
dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief
she pulled out of her high frilly collar.
come on em, you can do better than that.
i couldn't stop for lunch, what's
that? how about death, i couldn't stop for
death, now that's a poem. death, broken
hearts, love gone awry. that's
the kind of stuff people want to hear.
hmmm, she said. still sobbing a little.
maybe you're right. i'll keep trying.
good i told her. death, immortality,
stuff like that. be puzzling and
convoluted, critics like that too. and
the rhyming, you're hung up on that end
line rhyme, what are you, dr. seuss? tupac?
mix it up a little with some free verse.
just saying. i'm not giving up on you.
you have some talent, you're just a little
uptight. I looked at my watch. look, i
don't mean to run you out, but i'm missing
my show here. okay, she said. okay. i'll
work on it. is it okay if i bring it over
later to show you. sure, i told her, sure.
thanks, she said meekly, you're such
a good friend. but hey, i said, if i
have a red sock wrapped around
the doorknob, you know not to knock,
right? yes. she said. i do know that kind sir.
i will not knock if there is a sock.
whatever em. whatever.

a new language

you learn
another language,
tired of your
own, better
yet, you learn
to speak with
your hands in
getures like
a primate
at the zoo.
hunger,
thirst, love
and anger all
find it's way
into the motion
of your hands,
this annoys
people, but
you don't care.
you are tired
of your own
voice, of being
misunderstood.
you have shortened
conversations
to the basic needs
of your life.
and gives you
more time for
other things,
things yet
undecided.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

on the bus

how the miles
unfold below
your seat,
as the wheels
roll hard
and long against
the black
pavement. through
the tunnels,
over bridges,
speeding through
each toll, each
minute tossed
aside as you
stare at a sun
tinted green
and blue settling
towards it's
next tomorrow
and what it may
bring at journey's
end for you.

time's square

as you stand
in time's square
on a warm
november evening
and the neon
obliterates
the darkness while
music plays,
drums are struck
as if some ancient
ritual is in progress
and cops on horses
walk through
the crowd, you
stand and try to
make sense of it all.
the naked cowboy
strumming his
guitar, the corner
vendors with
posters and chestnuts
hot dogs and pretzles.
the bars, the food
the show girls
and billboards,
there is madness
in us all, and this
carnival succeeds
each night in saying
so.

hot pastrami

worried about
the future we both
go down to
see the gypsy
on 42nd street
and lexington.
she's got a room
above a tailor's
shop that makes
clothing for
theater, the clergy
and the dead.
we get the two
for one deal
and she presses
our hands against
the table turning
them over and over
looking at the lines
and creases, but
says nothing.
and finally it's
time for lunch
and she orders
three hot pastrami
sandwiches and smiles.
on rye with mustard
and a pickle she
says looking at
me, smiling. you're
good i say, you
are good and so
we eat, then go
on about our lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

old spice

when the ticket
taker at the movies
asks you for
id, it's not
because you are too
young, but quite
the opposite
and may qualify
for a discount based
on the fact that
you are probably
closer to the end
than she is. she
means no harm
nor does the boy
who holds the door
or asks you if
you need help
getting your
groceries to
the car. you resent
aarp and their
sunny magazine
with ads for sleep
apnea and
indegestion, and
hearing aids.
to hell with
the clapper and the
big numbered remote,
you shake
your head at
the traffic cop
who looks like
a boy scout.
the train has left
the station
and it's moving fast,
but it ain't over
yet. you've still
got a jump shot
and a bottle
of old spice.

bus to nyc

with ticket
in hand
you stand and
wait in line,
bag at your
feet, to board
the bus
to new york
city. you
have money
in your pocket.
camera.
a change or
two of clothes
and her beside
you to
keep you warm
when the wind
blows cold
across
the hudson.

packing

you begin to
pack your bag
for a two day trip.
you have enough
clothes to get
you through
a week stuffed
into the multi
layered zippered
bulging suitcase,
but you can't
find anything
that you can
eliminate. what
if it turns cold,
or rains, or
the pillow in
the hotel is stiff
and old. and
shoes, brown
and black. walking
shoes, casual
shoes, going to
a show shiny shoes.
somehow you manage
to close it up
and sit on
the porch waiting
for the cab to come.
you almost forget
then run in and
squeeze a few
packs of gum into
the little pocket at
the top, next to
the phone charger,
the battery pack,
the camera, pen
and pad, the map,
the pocket change
left over from the
last two day trip
you took.

full moon

after one
too many
martinis
you slip
on the wet
pavement
and roll
over onto
your back.
you stare up
a the perfect
white plate
of a full moon.
it's unflinching
eye looking
down on the likes
of you, not
trying to get
up, but enjoying
the lunar
moment and
wishing you
had a pillow.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

rolling down the hill

there are children
at the top
of the grassy hill,
red cheeked in
hats and gloves,
lying sideways
about to roll down
the steep green slope,
and before they do
they yell out,
watch me mom, watch
me. and as their
mother turns her
head to gasp at what
they are about to
do they all begin
to roll and roll
and roll down
the sweet uncut grass
of their youth.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the toy boat

the small
asian man,
with a cigarette
unlit
in his lips,
stood in the cold
of the sunless
day, with his remote
control box
in his curled hand
near the flat
blue lake,
his black boots
in mud,
he brushed the grey
hair from
his eyes and
laughed while his
toy motor boat
screamed
across the watery
plains in circles,
in zig zags,
in stops
and starts,
whistling as it slid
as far away as
it could go on
it's battery,
then back. and when
he saw me watching
nearby, he smiled
and said, i have
another one
in my car. it's
bigger too.

the road less traveled

you place a book
at the bottom
of the door
to keep it open.
to keep the air
flowing in as
it moves across
the long green
lawn in the form
of wind. it's
a book of poems
by robert frost who
you can only read
in spans of two
minutes or less
without yawning
and going to
the fridge to
make a sandwich.
it's not that it's
bad poetry, or
unreadable poetry,
that would be
heresy, it's just
not my cup of meat,
as dylan would
say. it's tedious
and hard and
immedded with metaphor
and similes,
and mystery that are
all entwined like
thick green ivy
along the stacked
stones and wood
of that good fence.
it not only makes
me a good neighbor
but an indifferent
reader as well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

the story

there is more
to the story. there
is always more.
you can embellish,
make the room
darker, or lighter,
paint the walls
yellow, make
the curtains thin
like rain, green
like apples.
there is always
someone you can
place in a chair
within the room,
and a clock on
the wall that has
stopped. there can
be noise, the choke
of the radiator,
or two people
making love
on the other side,
in another rented
room. there can
be a knock at
the door, that's how
the story can
begin, or the phone
ringing late into
the night and you
pick it up and say
yes. hello.

rented room

you rent the room
above the kitchen.
there is an
ashtray on the table.
a cane left
in the corner.
a plant has survived
and sits green
on the sill
awaiting sunlight.
you sit on the soft
bed, feeling
the springs and hear
the faucet down
the hall dripping.
there is a book,
the secret of gaining
wealth and power
on the nightstand
next to an empty
bottle of gin. you
lie down and turn
off the light.
you close your eyes
and say, it's only
a dream, it's only
a dream.

like a stranger

kiss me like
a stranger
she said to me.
hold me
like there is
no tomorrow.
kiss me
like a stranger,
like it's
the very
first time,
tell me what
i want to hear,
even if it's
a lie. just
kiss me, kiss
me like a
stranger.

instant pudding

the instant
pudding
that you put
before me
needs a dollop
of cream,
whipped and
yes, with
a cherry
on top. i
don't ask
for much,
and if i do
not very often,
but this is
one thing
i draw
the hard line
on. instant
pudding. i'll
wait.

blue monday

the lack
of light
coming through
the blinds
just barely
the color
yellow, slipping
through into
the half lit
room and you,
the full length
of you lingering
on the couch
in a pool of
blue shadows
as if underwater,
awaiting what,
we both aren't
sure of, perhaps
the air
of an idea
to get up for.

cowboy up

you need to cowboy
up she told me
as i was spreading
neosporin onto
a paper cut on my
index finger. ouch,
i said as i applied
the translucent goo
to the quarter inch
long gash along the
tip of my pink digit.
huh, cowboy up, what
do you mean, i said?
you know, she said,
be tougher, be strong,
be brave, take some
chances with your
life. do some
hiking, go riding
along the trail,
cowboy up!
but i'm really afraid
of horses, i said,
and i'm not much one
for camping and eating
beans around the
campfire. at this
point she got up
out of bed and started
doing her morning
routine of push ups
and sit ups. i put
a pillow behind my
head and leaned up,
arm in the air on
account of my paper
cut and watched her.
you know, these
sheets are really soft
i told her as she
grunted out the count
of each push up. what
are they, 600 count,
very nice and soft.
i like em.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

carryout

she had one
dish. chicken.
roasted,
baked, barbequed
and sliced
and seasoned
on a pyramid
of rice.
she didn't
want to learn
anything else.
it's enough she
said. and if
your aren't happy
with that, well,
too bad. i
have other
virtues with
which to make
you happy.

the fog of you

the fog
of you never
quite lifts
but lingers
just below
my knees
just above
the tips of
my toes.
it's thick
and mysterious,
every moving
around the
borders of
my otherwise
sunny life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

scratchy on the loose

i was sitting
on my front porch
awaiting the pea
pod truck to arrive
with a quart of
milk and a small
jar of marichino
cherries so that
i could make a
white russian
when my neighbor
gina came over
looking distressed.
she had a slew
of posters in her
hand with a picture
of a wild animal on
the front baring
it's teeth. she
had tears in her
eyes. what, i said,
what's up gina?
scratchy ran away.
your cat? no, and
she showed me the
photo of scratchy
with a reward of
a hundred dollars
printed underneath.
he's a ferret i
adopted from petsmart
and he's never been
out in the wild.
have you seen him,
she sobbed.
nope, i told her.
he has a little bell
collar, so if you
see him, or hear the
bell ringing, don't
try to catch him
with your bare hands,
he bites and scratches
pretty hard. i looked
at the long red
gashes on her arms
and legs. i see, i
said. hmmm. okay.
just throw a blanket
over top of him,
or a net if you have
one and call me. he
really likes peanut
butter, so if you put
some on the end of
a stick you can get
him close to you.
i'm posting a hundred
dollar reward. it's
just breaking my
heart losing him
like this. just
then the peapod truck
pulled up with my
quart of whole milk
and cherries. hey, can
i make you a drink,
a white russian
perhaps, no she said,
wiping her eyes, i'm
heading into the woods
to try and find him
before it gets dark.
well, good luck with
that. i'll let you
know if i see him, or
hear his bell a ringing.
thanks she said, handing
me a poster. she put
on her leather gloves,
grabbed her net,
then headed into
the darkening woods.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the sex talk

as we sit
in the theater
sharing a bag
of buttered
popcorn, before
the movie starts,
she leans over
and out of nowhere
whispers in
my ear. i'm done
with sex she says.
enough is enough.
i'm too old,
too tired, un
interested in that
sort of activity
anymore. i don't
want another man
to touch me as
long as i live.
just the thought
of it repels me
and makes my
skin crawl.
you shake
your head and say
nothing. you
sip your coke,
you eat your pop
corn and try to
answer the trivia
questions on
the big screen.
silence
is the only way to
go with this
conversation. and
as she reiterates
too loudly, no
more sex for me,
you promise
yourself that
never again will
you take your mother
to the movies.

thristy not hungry

the man on
the corner holding
the sign
saying god bless
please help
homeless in neatly
written block
print with a
sharpie wants
nothing to do
with the loaf
of bread i bring
him. it's black
olive
and still warm
from the oven
of the round
the corner bakery.
what do you
want me to do
with this he
says, as he looks
at the rounded
crusty bread
in the crinkled
bag. eat it,
i tell him. you
don't get it,
do you, he
admonishes me.
i'm thirsty, not
hungry.

left as it was

everything left as
it was, the toaster
where bread was
browned, the couch
set just so where
one could sit
and see a television,
a plant upon
the shelf still green,
and books with
pages dog earred
awaiting eyes
to begin again
to read. that purse
left on the table,
open where her
hand had been,
her phone still
blinking, and on
the counter, a
grocery list,
a ring of keys.