Monday, January 31, 2011

till death do us part

don't tell
me what i already
know. the soup
is cold, and bland.
what else is new.
sex is not so
hot, in fact, not
so grand at all.
there's dust
on everything.
what happened
to us. where
did we go wrong.
i don't have a single
clue, but perhaps
it started when
we both stood there
in church and said
those fateful words,
till death do
us part, i do.

metal detectors

i bought
a machine, not
unlike the metal
detectors that
one might see
on the beach
when summer's over
and everyone
has gone home
leaving watches
and keys and rings
behind, below
the cool sand.
but my machine
is different, it's
searching for
one good heart,
a true and kind
soul. no beeps,
just yet, but
the winter is
long and the beach
is wide, there's
still time.

expiration date

expired tags,
the meter gone
red and the ticket
on the windshield
like a white
tongue waving,
sticking out at
you, the can on
the shelf, no
longer good, check
the date on
the bag of bread,
the box of cereal,
the pills in
the bottle, all
done, expired.
the world is
trying to tell
you something
as your birthday
approaches and your
last girlfriend
has hit the road
with irwin.

girlfriend

there is nothing
quite like
the feeling of
leaving that old
car for the last
time, that broken
down heap that
let you down
and lied to you
with it's shiny
exterior, leaving
you on the side
of love's road
so many times,
stranded, shaking
your head
with a thumb out
to hitch a ride
home. you tried
so hard to keep
it going, keep it
on the street, but
oh, the flat
tires, the oil
fumes, the bumpy
ride down that
turnpike. so many
dents and scratches
and burned out fuses.
and now it's in
the lot awaiting
the next hopeful guy
to get in and go
for a ride, if he
only knew. the things
i could tell him,
the grief i could
save him from.
sweet jesus, how
wonderful to be
rid of the old
and start fresh
with a new set
of wheels.

unanswered prayers

on certain nights
when the air
is clear you
can see them
rising like white
balloons released
from hands,
from upper windows,
the prayers,
going up and up
into the stars,
to somewhere,
bumping softly into
one another. rising,
gaining height,
slipping away.
waiting for some
hand to take hold.
to hear them and
perhaps decide.

soft landing

when you leap from
the plane into
the wind filled
air, the patterned
earth below, and
you pull the string,
making the parachute
open in full
white bloom,
the skirt of silk
spread like a white
flower against
the blue, everything
you feared
and worried about
is now happily untrue,
and the landing, as
you have always known,
is soft and easy.

thumbs down

we are living
in a world of
delete and
move on. no
strings, no
attachments.
just press
the button
and block or
hide. it's
clean and
easy this
way. to dispose
of those
who no longer
matter. click
on the picture
and poof it's
gone, the emails,
the texts,
the so called
facebook friend
all disappear
as if they were
never there.
like roman
emperors
we give
the thumbs up
or down and
signal to let
let live, or
set the lions
loose, and let die.

breakfast out

the waiter
brings you coffee,
you have
your paper.
you order two
eggs over easy,
sausage and home
fries, wheat
toast with
blueberry jam
on the side.
you are in no
rush this morning.
work is slow.
the weather will
keep you inside.
your phone sits
blinking beside
you, you watch
the lunch traffic
on the sidewalk
trying to decide
which way to
go. something
you figured out
just yesterday.

once pretty

peel back
those layers,
strip that wall,
soak it down
and see what
lies below
the surface,
what once was
pretty and bright
has seen
better days
and now in
this harsh
light of
january when
you truly
open your
eyes and scrape
hard, you see
what and who
you are really
dealing with.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

idling

lie down with
me for awhile.
just for a moment,
rest and let's
not talk. hold
my hand if you'd
like. breathe
in, exhale. let's
pretend that
all is well and
that your car
is not idling
in the driveway
with your suitcase
in the trunk.

it's sunday

with a cup
of coffee in
hand, you feel
your feet sink
into the wet snow,
you are sick
of snow, january
feels like a
hundred days long.
shoeless you
have strayed off
the porch to
get the newspaper
full of news
you don't care
about anymore.
when isn't there
a war? the weather
report is all
the news you need
these days.
you'll be done
with the it in
ten minutes, no
less, no more,
and your socks
now soggy
are flung down
the basement stairs
in the direction
of other clothes
to be washed.
to be dried. you'll
get to it. you
stare at your pink
feet, wet and
cold. you find
dry socks.
it's sunday.

the itch

i need another
hand. my skin
is dry, in spots
unreachable
at the center
of my back. i need
some nails, they
don't have to be
red and polished,
a soft touch will
do to scratch
and find the sweet
spots that itch in
this humidless
air of winter,
with the heat
on and the cold
outside trying to
get in. i need
another hand to
scratch my soul.

angels in america

you find
the cold annoying
as you walk
the streets in
richmond searching
for your car.
clicking your
key to see a
light go on,
and the streets
are empty except
for students
wandering home,
alone, or with
arms around each
other, in new love.
and your son, in
his group of
friends and comrades
gathered in front
of the small
theater in victory,
the performance as
fresh as the sweat
still on their
brows, their lineless
faces and cheeks
red with joy, these
angels on this january
night. all as one, in
a tight group above
the ground,
living in the beauty
of now, their
lives with so
much to be done
while i walk, and
walk to find my
car in the bitter
cold, to find
my way home.

last house

it was a large
room darkened by
furniture made almost
of wood, the cushions
plaid and stuffed
with foam that eeked
out in mustard clumps,
the television on
in the corner
out of focus, rabbit
ears from another
era on top, with foil
on the tips, and
the blinds, ragged
and bent, tilted
off center down,
each chair a life,
in half slumber,
ancient turtle eyes
staring, a plastic
cup in hand of
grape juice, the taste
of some bitter pill
still on their tongues.
no window to open
to let the smell out.
and the visitors,
in horror at the
doorway, in tears,
shaking their heads at
what life has
become near the end
in this last house.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

happy poem

she wants a happy
poem. something funny.
something light
and upbeat, something
she can laugh at. can you
do that for me again? you
did once before. enough
with death and heartache,
trouble and dark skies
full of cold rain. make
it light and breezy, baby.
can you that for me?
and make the lines rhyme.
all of them. i don't want
to be thinking too much
about what i'm reading.
so often poetry gives me
a headache. and you know
what doesn't happen when
i get a headache. so please,
for my sake, and
especially yours. give
me that happy poem. okay?

night walk

the night moves
slowly across
the field, the long
trees sway for
the wind along
the edges of town.
most lights are
dark, nothing moves
at this hour as
i walk home from
your house, i
leave nothing
behind, this
break is clean
and final. with
you in the window
the pale light on
until i am finally
over the hill
and gone.

everything changes

you know that
for a fact, by
the mood you
are in, the
weather, your
face in the mirror.
everything ages,
and there is no
turning back
the clock, no
retreat, no
reliving the past
or making lost
love new again.
that tree will
lose it's leaves,
the stream will
rise and fall to
dry stones,
the fix is in, this
is how it starts
and ends with
everything
in flux in
constant change,
take us for example.

Friday, January 28, 2011

fresh air

you move everything
around, rearrange
the furniture, find
a new color paint
to roll upon the walls,
you put up new drapes,
new lights overhead.
you buy some plants
and find a corner with
good light, you lay
down some rugs, you
need a change of
scenery in so many
ways, and just getting
out of town won't
do it. you buy new
clothes, new shoes,
you get a massage,
let your hair grow
out instead of that
prison look you've
been holding onto
for years. you open
the windows and let
in fresh air. and this
is just a start.
it's time, you are
way overdue.

what you miss

it's funny
the things you
miss, never
the big things,
never the events,
never the dinners
out, or nights
on the town, no,
it's that look,
that simple kiss.
the scent of your
hair, your perfume,
the embrace of
hello, or farewell.
the voice on
the phone, the text
the e mail. it's
the simple things
you miss.

the tomato

here you go, i say,
and hand you the knife
to slice a fat
red tomato
that sits round
and plump on
the counter, but
you don't cut,
you don't take
the blade and
slowly carve it in
two, you just take
a juicy bite,
and let it run
down your chin,
onto your sweet open
lips and crazy grin,
i like how you
never take advice
or listen. it's
what i like most
about you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

leave it at home

your new hat
bothers me.
it's not the hat
i see you in,
it's not you at all.
it's too bold,
too brash, too
red. it's
going to attract
attention
to the other
parts of you.
and you know
how that makes
me feel, being
such a jealous
fellow.

burial for a friend

every watch
has stopped as
you put on your
black suit
and go to see
him buried. too
young, who's
to know that.
but his life,
lived next to
yours seems short,
you have continued
with your world,
of work, and food
of finding love
and doing all
the things that
he once did, but
now it's only you,
and those he knew
as the line of
cars together
in a trail of lights
gently roll
through the fallen
snow, the quiet
hush of gloom.

dessert

she promised me
dessert, something
sweet and tart,
something that would
make my mouth water,
but she forgot. she
was nervous and
busy with the meal
and tending to the
oven, the wine,
the cool air and
snow that slipped
beneath the window
sill. and soon i
had forgotten too.

the bridge

my bridge over
the stream is narrow,
weak with logs
and branches
that have fallen
under snow. it's
fragile, and sways
in the wind.
i can barely
walk from here
to there across
the cold water, to
keep my balance
so high in
the air without
slipping as i
have done before,
but i'll try
if it gets me
back to you,
and where you
wait, reaching
out your ungloved
hand.

the happy divorce

this is yours
this is mine.
i'll take the
salt shaker, you
can have the pepper,
and the all spice
too. you have
the mini-van, i have
the volvo. my couch,
your table.
i only need one
fork, one plate,
one cup. you can
have the rest.
i know how you
like to entertain.
put all the money
into a pile in
the middle of
the oriental rug,
which is mine, you
have the shag in
the bedroom and count
it out. one third
for me, one third
for you and the other
third for the attorneys.
you can have the picture
over the mantle by
the way. i've always
hated family portraits.
i can admit that
now. what does it
matter. and the kids.
i'll have tuesdays,
you have wednesday,
and we'll split
the rest, we'll
figure it out, or
our lawyers will after
they drain our account.
the dog, the cat,
we can shuffle them
too from house to
house. isn't it nice
that we can be so
peaceful now. divorce
has finally brought
us together, the way
it used to be when
we had nothing.

morning coffee

my desire
for coffee does
not outweigh my
love and affection
for you, although
it may seem they
way as i get
dressed to go
out onto the snow
filled roads to
get some, leaving
you stranded here
in bed, waiting
my return.

letting go

you let yourself go,
you stop exercising,
watching what you
eat. you gain weight,
the grey grows through
your thin hair and
you let it fall
madly upon your head.
you have become the
woods outside your
window. letting
nature decide it's
shape and form. your
beard is wild.
you are fearless in
your quest to be
at peace with who
you are. even your
nails grow long.
people avoid you in
lines, they want
you to move away
and not to speak to
them. they ignore
how wise you have
become in letting
yourself go. they
liked you better
when you were
someone else.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

vinyl records

these scratched
vinyl discs, with
their hard black
shine, like
liquorice rounded
and flattened,
still spin. thinly
grooved with skips
and bends in tact.
carried in boxes
from move to
move, a new love
causing another
address to be
written and
remembered. and
they still play
after the decades
have gone bye.
as we once
did, dancing in
the dark, blissfully
unaware of years,
or time.

the first dance

there is no
music except for
what we hear
between us, and
now we dance,
once more, around
the room, in
the empty bar
where the waiter
waits in his
white apron, at
the door, and
the chef too,
with his hat in
hand, and they
watch us dance,
and dance, as
the lights go
dim, and you kiss
me again, then
again, as we
try to make this
memory last. it
might be the only
one we have, but
it's good start
and leaves me
wanting more.

they only listen

these woods,
deepened quiet
in snow,
hold no secrets,
they listen
but quickly
forget that you
were there.
the steps you
take will
soon be gone.
your dark hours
are the same
to them as your
walks in calm
and flowers.
these winter
trees, they only
listen, then let
you go. it's
perfect that way,
as you walk
far into the woods
on that path
you have so
often followed.

you find a way

her language
is not your
language, her
thoughts not
yours,
but you find
a way to
understand,
you adapt and
listen, you
watch the movement
of her lips,
her hands her
hips, and it's
all about finding
a way. you
adjust, as you
would for weather.
staying warm or
dry, or cool,
in rain or wind,
or snow,
you see and
feel what needs
to be done, or
undone to find
a way. just as it
is with her.

love

you try to remember
the last time that
you told someone
that you really loved
them. unconditional
love, not infatuation,
or that sultry steamed
filled room of lust
kind of love,
but love. love from
the heart. true love
that the poets write
about. the kind
that makes you giddy.
nervous with
anticipation. love
that makes you feel
the way the dog
feels when he hears
you opening up a
can of food. that
kind of love. when
was that.

a bouquet of roses

i'd buy you flowers,
but it's the kiss
of death. a bouquet
of red roses
brought to you
by delivery or my
hand makes no
difference, especially
if there is a note
expressing love,
daffodils, petunias,
or orchids,
it doesn't matter.
you've shown your
cards, you've opened
your heart and now
you're doomed.

blabby mom

forgetting how
she spreads personal
information on her
speed dial like
a california wild
fire. you get
amnesia, and
you decide to
give your mother
a second chance,
make that a second
hundred chances
to make amends, to
promise to keep
this thing you are
about to tell her
to herself. and
suddenly she begins
to cry on the phone.
it's her go to
move. weeping, tears,
deep sobbing,
blowing her nose.
telling you to hold
on a minute, she
needs a box of tissues.
she should have gone
to hollywood when
she was young. she
would have been
a star. i wait as
she continues. i have
no idea if it's
a happy cry or a
sad cry, and i'm
quite certan that
she's not sure either.

this world

this world of glass
and water that you've
created, with neon
fish, and gold, black
guppies, the silver
slender darting ones,
those who dip and hide
behind the stones,
angel fish in slow
swim between
the tender plants
of green, that
sway upon the bottom.
they see you coming,
these fish and rise
to the top, in
prayerful congregation,
your hand, their
god, their daily
bread, sprinkling
down from above.
you bring the night,
you bring the dawn.
you don't judge them
for the lives they
lead, you just love
them all and let
them be, unsafe
within their world.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

parallel parking

you see a spot
far up ahead, on
the right. so you
move in as the car
other exits, you
put your signal
on, you advance,
you measure with
your eyes, you
back up, arm
over the seat,
turning
the wheel just
slightly, then
adjusting for
the distance and
size of the spot
and your car.
you even
it up next
to the curb.
and you, next
to me, sitting
there quietly
in your
seat, putting
lipstick on
in the mirror,
unaware of
how i always do
this for you,
careful in what
i say, in what
i do, not wanting
to bend or break
the fender, or
grille, or lights
of what we have.

dog, cat and me

your dog
and cat,
in the window
together,
watching me
and you come
up the walk,
somehow
have made
a silent pact
between them
selves, that
in order to
get the most
out of you,
they need to
get along, to
behave, and
thus get more
love and
affection,
i want in on
that.

chemistry

fools you into
thinking that
everything is
fine. the fun,
the kiss,
the steamy
exercise, those
crazy butterflies.
it creates
a fog, blots
out reality.
there is nothing
quite like it,
as good, or
as dangerous
as that strange
and rare sweet
chemistry. and
at some point
i fear that
it may become
the life or
death of me.

pain and pleasure

while sitting
in the dentist's
chair, my mouth
held open by
a gentle hand
and listening
to the drill go
round and round
and round, rapidly
grinding down
the dark spot in
my sweet tooth,
feeling the numbness
of the needle, i
think of what other
confections in my
life can i
eliminate so that
i don't have to go
through this ever
again, and of course
you come to mind,
but i don't have
that kind of will
power, to not bite
into the sweetness
of you, despite
quite often,
the pain not being
worth the pleasure.

Monday, January 24, 2011

potluck dinner

your sister called
me the other day,
she wanted to know
why i was so mean
to you. i immediately
hung up and then
your mother called,
asking me why, why,
why. she too got
the slam down on
the phone, and then
your dad rung me
up coming in from
cutting the grass,
then your aunt,
then uncle in cleveland,
then your brother in
the navy. all of them
with the same complaint.
why am i so mean to
you. i had no answer
to give them, so
i hung up. thanksgiving
with your family will
be really tough this
year, should i bring a
dish? will it be potluck?

i'd marry you if only

i'd marry you,
if only, if only this
if only that. the list
is too long to
put down on paper.
but we have issues.
so many red flags,
so many road
blocks and deterrents,
bumps in that
proverbial road to
marital bliss. yes,
i'd marry you,
in a heart beat
if not for all that
but i can't. however
i don't mind if
you spend the night
once in a while.

sweeping up

afterwards, sweeping
up the glass
of you, the broken
pieces of us,
the splinters
and shards of me
on the floor. pushing
it all with a
soft broom towards
the center of
the room, and sliding
me and you into
the pan, letting
it all fall into
the bin, dropping
memory to the bottom,
pressing open and
then close with a
reluctant foot
upon the pedal.

the horror

you buy a new
house in a new
neighborhood.
it has saplings
for trees, bent
and strapped
to stakes. the
pavement is still
black and fresh,
you can smell
the rise in the
summer heat.
the playground
monkey bars still
have a shine,
unused. the wood
chips to catch
the fallen children,
below is white.
there are new
families, with
new kids, fresh
faces, they like
to wave alot
and say hello. they
beep their horns
in their new
cars. there is a
new school
down the block,
still graffitless
and clean, it's
fields are brown,
with new dirt and
freshly laden sod
not yet taken.
everything is
new here. a new
shopping center
is going up before
your eyes. you see
a blue bird in
a tree with her
new nest full
of blue eggs, fresh
twigs and leaves,
and you wonder
why you have
moved to such a
place as this.

childless

your long life,
unwed, is not futile
at least not
as much as you
once thought it
would be. and
your empty mantle
of childless photos,
with no swings,
or ponies, or
parties with colored
cakes and balloons
rarely bothers
you in your sleep.
you've chosen well,
and wisely you
tell yourself, with
a glass of wine,
alone on the porch,
leaning towards
tomorrow. and yet
you can't help but
stare and linger
for a brief second
or two, at a ballpark,
or stand near
a playground, or
walk through a zoo
thinking what if.
or watching the
mother with child
in hand, how it never
will be you.

books are better

you keep buying books,
you refuse to give
in to the current
trend of electronic
everything. you like
the smell of a dusty
book, the torn page,
the dog earred corner
where you underlined
a word, a sentence,
an amazingly perfect
phrase. you like
the way they line
up on the shelves,
how you can reach and
grab one at any minute.
no wires, no batteries,
no plugs, nothing
but the written page
between two covers,
hard or soft. keep
printing, keep
making books. don't
stop. books are better.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

one more chance

if you gave me
one more chance.
when i get out
of jail, i'll make
it up to you. i can
change i've done
it before, many
times. ask around
i can be good
when i want to,
when i need to be.
and with you, this
time i want to.
cross my heart.
i've got religion,
i've got buddha,
i've got the dalai
lama on my side,
i'm on step twelve.
just spring me
free, set the bail,
i've learned my
lesson the hard way,
breaking large
rocks in the sun
into small ones.

rainy friday night

it was friday.
you were alone
with a bottle
of red wine and
a fully charged
cell phone. yes.
a very bad
combination. add
in a rainy night,
toss in some
ice, some bad
karma, old stale
crackers, bad
advice and away
you go. you speed
dial your old
flame, your new
friend from italy,
gina, from spain.
you figure out
the camera function.
it's not good.
it's a train
wreck and you're
at the wheel.
and by evening's
end it's a call
for a mop up
in every aisle.

what is a secret

in a small cup,
a white shell, i
hold a few secrets.
and even holding
them to your ear
i will not let you
hear them, they
will not fall to
the sand, or spill.
to be carried off
for others. they
stay put where
they belong. for
what is a secret,
if not unknown.

how are we so different

take the landscape
of the moon, for
instance. how nothing
is permitted to grow
there. it's barren,
it's airless, floating
luminously through
space, little altered
with time. it is less
about imagination,
or from lack of
trying. it's just so.
it can't be what
it isn't. it can't
be mercury, or mars.
how are we so
different. so set
in our orbit, within
our small window of
mankind, unable to
be stars.

less of this

less wind
would be nice.
less cold.
less snow
and ice would
be fine. less
clothing on
our bones.
if this winter
went away,
and stayed just
another week
or so, that
would suffice.
or we could
board a plane
and take our
pale winter
bodies to some
island, where
coconuts grow,
and monkeys swing
from trees,
a tropical
paradise. let's
go, but you
decide, and
quickly. my
bags are packed
and waiting.

you wait

you wait
and wait and
wait. you are
in line. you
are in traffic,
you are in
and out of
love. you wait
for the egg
to hatch,
the water to
to boil,
the coffee
to brew, the
toast to brown,
the elevator to
move, you wait
for the call,
the text,
the message,
the elusive muse.
you wait. and
there is nothing
you can do.

the landing

these wings
of this too large
plane, tilt
and wobble just
slightly
with the sun
suddenly in and
out of your eyes
as it rolls and
drifts in a semi-
circle, slides forward
to it's destination
below the clouds,
and you see
the curve of the earth,
with blue rivers and
trees move
closer, everything
getting larger,
and the engines
roar is lessened,
pulled back into
your seat with
strange gravity,
and as if in slow
motion, in a dream
you approach
the runway, faster
and faster to
the solid ground,
the zip and sting
of tires onto the
tarmac, and you
have somehow lived
and survived this
flight, to write
this down.

the art of lying

you are embarassed
for your lack of
education. that you
were raised by wolves
and have learned
everything from living
on the streets. so you
lie. you tell her
that you have a
degree, many degrees.
you have a phd in
literature, in math,
in science, in
making love to
strangers. she believes
only the last part.
she is smarter than
you, and you realize
that she has the
edge, but you can
make her laugh, you
can juggle, you can
stand on your head
and tell stories
from your dubious
past relationships.
you can twist balloons
into animals. you
are a fool for her.
and you know that
at some point you will
find a way to bore
her, that she will
look past you and
find another, but
for now she is amused
as you tap dance
and sing merrily
across the room.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

she used me

she used me
for my muscle,
to open jars.
to lift luggage
from the curb to
the car, to
change a tire.
with my long reach,
she had me putting
boxes onto the
top shelf, moving
chairs into
the attic, changing
lightbulbs in
the ceiling. my legs
would push the
mower to cut her
lawn. my vision
would thread a needle.
my voice would call
the dog to come in.
she used me night
and day for my
attributes, but i'm
not complaining.
the feeling was
mutual in so many
wonderful ways.
take her lips
for example.

the guilty nun

constantly, without fail,
you misplace the name
with the face, confused
with who, or what or
where anyone might be.
you would convict
the wrong person every
time in a police line
up. you are the worst
witness in the world
despite being such an
astute observer of
the moment. you would
point to a nun, staring
at her face and say
yes, absolutely your
honor she's guilty
of that crime. murder
one. just look at her,
without a doubt,
without that habit,
she's definitely
the perpetrator,
she's the one.

the unwritten note

i was sweeping
the floor of your
things the other day,
in daylight, when
the dirt and grime
is more visible,
and leftover articles
of clothing, and
unsaid words have
fallen beneath
the bed, or table.
i found the note
you never wrote before
you left telling
me how much fun
i was, how much you
cared and loved
being with me and
that you were getting
close to being
in love with me. i
found that unwritten
note on the floor,
and i reread it
again and again as
i stood by the window
facing out, waiting
for darkness once more.

animal talk

out the window
i saw a few fidgety
squirrels and moles
having a lively
discussion with a
red winged blackbird,
their paws and
claws were flying
all about, and their
eyebrows were
arched, those that
had them,
and there was a
red fox there too,
and a deer, and they
were all together
talking with one
another about
the weather, and
how there was
nothing, nothing
they could do
about it, but it
was a heated
discussion about
snow coming in.
the wind and trees
going down,
how cold it was,
about the stream
being frozen, how
the nuts were
too deep under
the rock hard
ground. even the
trash, the raccoon
chimed in was
frozen solid in
those bags and
tightly bound.

finding time for you

i found an hour
between the cushions
of my couch, a
few spare minutes
were lying beneath
the table, and
on the dresser there
was a moment or
two to spare that
i had completely
forgotten about.
there was even
a second, just
a split second all
alone on the kitchen
counter, that had
slipped my mind.
i'm boxing all
these precious
ticks of time up
for free
and sending them
to you, because i
know you are so
busy and have
no time for me.

theological discussion

we don't
know until we
die, she says,
eating her cold
mussels and
garlic bread.
drinking deeply
from her pinot
noir. know what
i ask, the truth,
she says. about
God, and life,
and religion,
heaven and hell.
that sort of
thing. we just
need to be good
and see what
happens. so how
are those mussels,
i ask. they
are cold, she
says. very cold.
like i imagine
hell would be,
if there is one.
i need to send
them back, but
i'm too hungry
to wait.

the weatherman's wife

she married a
weatherman, and at
first it seemed
like a good idea.
she always knew
in advance
what to wear
according to his
forecasts, but then
he began to drink,
and question his
abilities with
middle age,
and his predictions
floundered. when
he said rain, it
was sunny, when
he pointed to his
map at a cold
front, there would
be a heat wave.
and she fell out
of love with him,
because of this
and moved on to
the sportscaster,
who told her which
teams to bet on,
where to place her
money, on the horses,
the boxers in
the ring. he was
dependable and
strong, and now
she's happy, at
least for awhile.

Friday, January 21, 2011

candle lit dinner for two

this overhead light
gives me the wrong
impression of you.
is it okay
if we dim it down,
or turn it off
completely. i don't
want to be reminded
of my own years
by staring into
yours. let's do
away with lights
for good, why
bother. i'm in
the candlelight
phase of dating
and now that we've
met in person, i
see that it works
as well for you.

find the time

those mountains, so
far away, so far
down the line,
rounded out and
blue, and blue
again with black
as that sun falls.
those moutains,
unclimbed, just
wished upon, and
seen from this
window, perhaps
this year, i'll
find the time.

cooking

she was never
more herself than
when she was in
the kitchen, standing
at the stove,
stirring up something,
hot and boiling,
while i stood and
watched her in
the doorway. admiring
her skills, her
talents. her cat
like smile making
me shake my head.
she was never more
herself, when causing
trouble like that.

the home run

i hit the ball
solid, it cracked
hard right off
the bat, and sailed.
and as i was tagging
first, heading
for second base,
watching the ball
fly towards the
fence, not knowing
for sure if it
would go over, i
dug my cleats into
the turf and ran
harder, rounding
second, and as i
looked over my
shoulder to see
the ball rolling
towards the far
corner, into
the deep shadow
of the park,
i knew i had
a chance,
so i turned
my shoulders
towards third, and
at that point
she was breathing
heavily, and was
frantically
waving me in with
her arms held high
in the air,
her legs off
the ground. so i
went for home
as fast as i could,
sliding in safe
and sound.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

epiphany

i was having
breakfast in
a diner the other
night. alone.
alicia had to go
home to feed her
cats. we'd been
out dancing all
night, and my
shirt was still
soaked with sweat.
i love to dance.
she has three
siamese cats
and they'd starve
without her
feeding them.
so i was
sitting there on
my torn red
leather stool
at the waffle shop,
sipping on
my third cup of
coffee, eating
two eggs over easy,
a handful of scrapple
and some wheat toast,
and a small glass
of oj when i had
an epiphany.

spring

the blue walls
just pale enough
to catch
the color in
sunlight or
a thinly
shaded lamp
upon the dresser.
a blue, not
unlike what
lies within
the nest,
outside your
upper room
the window
finally open
on a warm day.
the clouds so
still, at rest.
and you standing
in the doorway,
with that
smile confirms
the color
and other things
i can't quite
say.

hot soup

this bowl
of chowder,
bubbling hot
and thick
with all
the things
i like in
you. a spoon
ful goes
a long way.
why don't
we make
another pot
and you plan
to stay
another
day. no need
to venture
out into
the snow, into
the wind,
into
tomorrow.

joyful ride

in the glimmering
sweet snow of last
night and morning,
you pull the sled
on it's loose rope
up the steep hill.
you've done this
before. and the sun
is high, as high
is it can be for
a winter's day.
and the path is
wide and white, and
inviting. at the top
you see tomorrow,
you see today. and
it's a wonderful
ride as you run and
hop upon this new
fast sleigh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

flat tire

you stand and stare
at your flat tire.
you see the screw
embedded in the side.
a dog walks by. he sniffs
and wags his tail. a
child in her mother's
hand passes too. they smile,
and say hello. they
don't know the trouble
you have seen. and you
say hello back and
pretend that everything
is just fine. you get
the tire iron out,
the spare, the pump,
the jack.

february

the eyes of
winter are wide
open. her
bones are white
and brittle
you can hear them
rattle like sticks
against each other.
spring is a
girl you'll
never meet if
this keeps
us, keeps you
under wraps,
below the frost
line, well above
the equator.
her kiss is out
of reach,
the flower of
her untouched.
you kick and
stamp your boots,
covered in
this world
before you take
them off. you
look out the
iced pond
window, the sound
of plows in
the street
won't let you
sleep.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

dating at fifty

when she looks
into the mirror,
before going out,
before a date with
a relative stranger
from the internet,
with an e mail or two
exchanged, one
awkward phone call,
a text deciding
time and place.
she winces, dims
the light,
then pauses and
puts her hands on
her hips, and thinks
not bad, not bad
at all at fifty,
but what about next
year and then the
next. how much longer
do i have to
do this. she brushes
her hair one more
time. some lipstick,
some perfume, spins
and turns, looks
at the clock and
thinks about changing
her dress, but then
says, oh what the hell,
i'll probably never
see him again anyway.

when the carnival comes to town

and when the
carnival comes
to town i'll be
leaving with it.
i have talents
i've kept hidden
from you, just
as you have
hidden things
from me. but it
doesn't matter
anymore, what's
done is done,
as they like to
say in those old
westerns, late
at night, in
black and grainy
white, but
i will be on the
road, like
kerouac, i'll be one
of them in grease
paint and balloons.
sawdust on my
furrowed brow.
i don't need to
be a star,
i just want to
be an attraction.
one man, on
the side with
his own decorative
boxcar, painted
blue, reading
poetry for
the masses. i don't
need to be loved, i
learned that lesson
well, a long time
ago, from you.

your lip is bleeding

your lip is bleeding.
i'm sorry, did i bite
you too hard when
we were kissing?
come here, let me
dab it with this
napkin. closer.
look into the light.
it's just a small
cut, but it's bleeding.
almost like a
crimson tear.
i can take care of
it for you. i know
what to do. i have
had alot of experience
with cuts much deeper.
don't worry, you
are in good hands.

the grey suit

your old grey
suit was new once.
neatly cut
with style and
class. a perfect
fit. but it hangs
on the rack now.
in the deepest part
of the closet.
where the old
shoes lie below,
the tie rack too,
unspun for so
many years like
an exotic bird,
full of stilled
color. you
have no use for
suits anymore or
ties around your
neck, or tight
wing tips, narrow
in the toes.
that train left
the station a
long time ago
with no tears shed.

blue stone

you find a blue
stone along the
stream. it's smooth
and dull in color,
wet with sunlight
and water.
it's neither a gem
or that beautiful,
but it's fine. it
feels good in your
hand. you like
the weight of it,
it's shy and subtle
shine. you decide
to keep it in your
pocket and carry it
with you everywhere
you go and before
you fall asleep at
night, you set it on
the dresser beside
the light, and
in the morning,
it is still there,
patiently waiting
for you to take it
somewhere. you have
fallen in love with
this stone and feel
that it will never
leave you. it's
just a common stone,
and yet that rare.

trees

i know nothing
about trees
and have no
desire to learn
anymore than
what i see.
from green to
gold, to bare,
then back again.
that's all i
need to know.
and because of
this, our love
won't last
a season.

the woman with a small dog

your imagination
runs dry at some
point, you've said
everything you
needed to say, and
have said it twice,
at least. so you
get up, finally,
from your chair
and stretch. your
back is stiff,
your eyes are red
and burn. your mouth
is dry from silence.
you go the window
and look down onto
the city street. you
see a woman in a
yellow dress,
the color of
sunflowers. she has
red hair. she's
wearing sunglasses
and holding a small
dog in her arms.
you go back to your
chair. you realize
that there
is so much more
to write about.

Monday, January 17, 2011

it was yesterday

when you saw
three dogs
off their leashes
run free
through the snow,
barking in
the cold, rolling
wildly into
one another.
not quite puppies,
and not yet
old. you
remember well
those days, those
years of wrestling
with your
brothers and
friends in
the white of pure
fallen snow. it
seems like
yesterday too.

two boxes of thin mints

the little girl
scout two doors down
comes knocking with
her dad. she has
a sash around
her white starched
shirt and green
uniform. her shoes
are black and
scuffed from
the snow and
walking. two boxes
of thin mints i
say before a word
comes out of her
mouth, she smiles.
that will be
eight bucks, please,
she says, and her
dad winks at her.
i go and get the
cash. i shake her
father's hand
and then hers.
it's small and
light. she is
angelic as she
counts the money.
thank you she says,
life is wonderful
and simple like
that sometimes.

not about oranges

you fall in
love with oranges.
squeezed, or
peeled, it doesn't
matter. but you love
to have the citrus
juices roll down
your chin, sweet
and sticky.
you carefully break
one apart and hold
the clear bright
wedges up to the
light. you
want to marry an
orange tree, no,
an orange grove.
you want to wake
up every morning
with a cold
glass of orange
juice beside you.
you decide to move
to florida where
the oranges are
plentiful, you
are a simple man.
and this will
make you happy.

the fall of rome

your layer cake
means nothing
to me. this cake
won't do. it's
shallow nine
by twelve inch pan
of sugar and
flour and eggs
is just a pale
reminder of how
this relationship
has fizzled.
it used to be
a three tiered
cake, with
arches and
columns, a creamy
wave of icing,
with expressions
of love squeezed
out in cursive
writing, it
was a monument
of love and
confection,
it was a tower
the romans
would be proud
of. but now,
this sad flat
shallow cake
is all we have.
truly rome has
fallen, just
bring me
the knife,
please and cut
me a bitter
slice.

instant coffee

she laughs
at my instant
coffee. really,
she says, that's
all you have.
no bags of
exotic beans
and blends
from columbia,
or brazil, or
someplace else
where the earth
is hot and
begins to
bend. no fancy
machine for
espresso, no
percolating here
for me. nope, i
tell her, that's
it. you could
always get dressd
and go get us
some. but it's
pretty cold
out there
this time of
night. so
how would you
like it dear.
she thinks for
a second then
says, i like
instant too.
no sugar and
just a little
cream, please.

come on in

your key
fits my door.
try it,
turn the lock,
slip it in
and watch it
turn easily.
no need to
ring the bell
or knock
anymore, i'm
yours,
can't you tell
by they way
i kiss you.
i'm inside
waiting,
open the door
and come on in.
we've waited
much too long
for this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

your children

your world, having
gone so small, and
cornered by life's
rules. now you must
bend and lift them
the whole day and into
night. children define
us. and sometimes
the moon and stars
become meaningless
with them in the
room. they are your
orbit for a very
long time. and your
hand will or will
not guide them, you
have no choice in
the matter, and they
know that too, and
will hold you
accountable
by the things they
say, the things they
will and will not do
when it's their time.
you will never
completely leave
their room.

the mouse

this hawk, it's
feathers burnt
brown and blonde
in muted color,
with yellowed claws,
swings down in
a muffled rush at
what burrows in
the thickened winter
tangle, the ruffled
ground that lies
above the stream.
she swoops in with
a blur of wings
and a sharp
beak aimed at it's
prey, a field mouse
that hides
it's small grey
life, hardly a palm
full, and it's
heart beats with joy
and fear, not unlike
us, having escaped
another day.

the long black coat

you can borrow
my coat, if you'd
like. it's cold
out, and it might
snow. it's my
favorite coat,
the long black
one, with deep
pockets, but you
have to bring it
back. i need that
coat, there's
a number in the
pocket that i
can't throw away,
at least not yet.
she wrote it down
one night, the
night we met,
folded it neatly
and placed it
in my pocket, where
my hand was.
so please bring back
my coat, it's my
favorite. don't
forget. okay?

breakfast

she moves the eggs
around on her plate,
like ideas, soft
and yellowed, now
cold. they are suddenly
tasteless. she gives
up and sets
her fork down. i
listen to her silence
and stare out across
the boardwalk, the
wide flat sand, empty
of everyone. i sip
my coffee. it's
january and the gulls
are as white as
empty shells with
wings. there is nothing
left to say.

the endless road

she reminds you
of a country
that you need
to visit. a far
away place, not
even on the map,
at least not yet.
her legs are roads
that will lead
you there,
her arms are trees
that will embrace
you and hold you
so that you will
never leave,
her smile is
her religion,
a sun that
will keep you warm.
her lips the fruit
that will satisfy
your hunger to
stay on the road
to visit other
lands, countries
that you've never
seen. you will
unpack your bags
for her, and stay
for a long time,
she is the place you
want to be. you will
move everything to
this foreign land,
and she will end
this endless travel.

moving violation

if i was
a cop,
and i'm
not, i'd
pull you
over in that
dress, that
short
and silky
black thing
that tosses
in the wind,
causing a
back up in
the intersection,
i'd pull
you over,
take you aside
and arrest
you for
a moving
violation.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

the wedding

and the wedding
went on into the
night, and the lights
went up, and the
band kept playing,
and everyone danced,
everyone drank too
much, they ate cake,
they sang, they
stumbled happily about.
and the wedding went
on, and on. it seemed
as if it would never
end, and i held
your hand beneath
the table covered
in white linen and
flowers. and
the children fell
asleep in their chairs,
and we watched a
sad moon slip over
the full bloom of
summer trees and we
gently kissed,
we waited, we waited,
and the wedding went
on and on, forever.
and everyone danced,
while the bride and
groom got lost in
the long night, her
white gown trailing
behind her on the
wet lawn and everyone
tried to say something
with meaning, tilting
and spilling their
glasses, trying to
say something wise,
and lasting. and
the ember tails
of fireflies
suddenly lit up and
were everywhere,
and we waited, me
and you together,
unsure about everything,
so much unsaid.
and we held hands,
we waited as the
wedding went on forever.

what true love is

your melancholy
moods are tedious
at times, she
muses. she likes
to muse and i
like it too.
i like the way
she puts her
hand beneath her
chin and shifts
her soft brown eyes
from side to side,
between thoughts.
your writing is
so so sad at times,
she says,
are you okay? do
you still love
her, that summer
girl? and i
laugh and smile,
my fingers on
the keyboard. i'm
done, i'm fine.
truly, i really
am okay. for love to
be true, it has
to be both ways.
this is the last
poem you will ever
see about her.
and she laughs.

the fallen gowns of angels

while we
parked on
the darkest
part of the
dead end lane,
under the blue
hand of trees,
the pale fog
moved across
the roads,
and fields,
settling
like hems
on the fallen
gowns
of angels.
and then
you leaned
over to kiss
me. i remember
our lips
touching for
the first time,
it wasn't
heaven,
it wasn't
close, but
it wasn't
worldy
either. do
you remember
too?

don't take my advice

don't listen
to me. i
know nothing.
i have no advice,
no ideas about
love, and affection,
on how to
make it last,
how to make
grow, i just have
alot of experience
on how to make
it end. on that
i'm quite
an expert, that
is one thing i
really, sincerely
know.

the empty cup

unloved, she
comes to the door,
in her robe
and slippers.
she has an
empty cup in
her long slender
hand. what, i ask,
what is it
this time.
sugar, salt,
olive oil again?
and she says.
i don't know.
i'm not sure what
i need this
time. what
do you have
that i want.
i don't know
either, i tell
her, but come in,
come in, let's
look around
and see.

the red ball

as the small
bright
ball rolls
gently from
your hand, almost
carelessly,
slipping from
your grasp,
and it goes
towards the
door and
down the steps
bouncing in easy
hops out to
where the road is,
and it picks up
speed, faster
and faster,
beyond your
reach until
it is a small
red dot on
the horizon
of your life,
you stand
at the door
and look out,
and try to
understand
the meaning of
life and love.
but you
have nothing
and so you close
the door and
go on about
your day.

tweet

these birds
outside my
window. filling
the tree, so full
of themselves,
small round
puffs of feathers
that neither sing,
nor speak
with relative
meaning, but
just tweet in
random short
bursts of noise
about this
and that. nothing
really, not
unlike you
do from time
to time, when
you have nothing
really good
to say, but can't
help yourself,
as you stand alone
with your phone
in the rain.

Friday, January 14, 2011

painting

you've used
up all your
colors. the palette
is dry. the pigments
lie like frozen
tears, unclear,
and falsely colored.
each brush is stiff
and still, out
of hand, against
the unused
canvas, as white
as pebbled sand.
nothing, but her
comes to mind,
that you need or
want to paint. no
face, or mountain
makes you
rise to this
occasion. it's over.
how can you possibly
move your hands
and eyes to
recreate your life.

your zipper's down

she says
to me while
we're standing
at the bar
waiting for
a table, and
you've misbuttoned
your shirt, she
points with a
red nailed
finger, you
started one
hole too soon,
go ahead and
look, plus there's
a coffee stain
on your jacket.
and your chin
is still bleeding
from nicking
yourself with the
razor, oh, and
more thing, there's
toilet paper
stuck to your
shoe. anything else,
i ask her, sipping
my martini, yes,
she says, there's
a little piece
of green olive
stuck between
your two front
teeth now. we're
not having sex later,
are we, i ask her,
taking another gulp
of my stiff drink,
i don't know, she
says. we'll see.
you've got alot
of work to do.

quiet man from idaho

you hear the neighbor,
lenore, through
the wall.
there are noises
like cats with their
tails stuck in doors,
a symphony of bed
springs and head
boards bang
furiously against
the thin barrier
between us. she
screams like someone
has just put a knife
in her, but he is
very quiet. almost
silent as he goes
about his passion
for her. she is
making love
to someone you've
never seen before,
but he drives a red
truck with out of
state plates, idaho,
you think, the potato
state, there is a box
of tools in the back,
and whenever you see
it in the lot, parked
sideways, so as not
to get scratched,
you know it's
business time next
door and you can't
help but listen as
they go at it, the
potato man and lenore.

one more cup of coffee

you buy another
cup of coffee.
you flip through
the paper in
record time.
the paper is weak
with news. nothing
grabs your
interest, makes
you turn the page.
it's what you
do when you're
not working and
you're waiting
for the phone to
ring with another
job. you browse
the book stores,
walk through
the woods and
check your phone
for messages.
the woods are
the same every
winter. you are
bored with the
woods and their
bare trees and
frozen shallow
ponds. you can
find no worthwhile
metaphors in
this maudlin
meadow you slog
through, even
the squirrels
are starting to
annoy you with
their fidgety
ways of jumping
around when you
walk by. you
randomly
text and message
your so called
peeps as you walk,
but they
are all working,
they actually have
real jobs,
and can't play
for long, they send
you a bone or
two to make
you smile, and you
start thinking
about coffee again.
lunch perhaps,
if you were even
hungry.

below the surface

your shyness
betrays you.
that still water
above your soul
is just on
the surface,
placid and
careful
not to go
too far
away from
shore, but
underneath i
believe i know,
what really lies
below. the
current is
strong and wild
and wants to
take me with
it. i like it,
i love the way
it flows.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

finding milk

i live
for milk.
it is all
i need.
i have forsaken
love
and work.
friendships
have fallen
away,
for a glass
of cold
milk. it
is all i
need. it
will see
me through
my years of
growing old,
of this
middle age
where i am
beginning
to disappear.
it is milk
that will
sustain me
when all
else fails.
keep me here
for a little
while longer.
i hold it
to the light.
i will leave
none of it
behind for
others.

let the horses go

go untie the horses.
let them all go,
set them loose
into the moonless
night. let them
stampede beyond
the open gates,
be shadows
rumbling with hooves
against the desert
floor, towards
the hills, the thick
cave of green woods.
lost without caring.
let the horses go,
let them know what
it feels like to
be me without you.

it's not dark yet

you swim
with him, his
music and
odd devil
way of seeking
and not
exactly finding
God, but
coming close.
of dissecting
love, and
leaving it on
the road, and
finding once
more on a
another road.
dylan
and his rasp,
his fingers
strumming,
behind blue
eyes and ravaged
face holding
a thousand
years of songs.
and you don't
buy into all
of them, but
there are just
enough to help
you get along.

van gogh

i'm unsettled
with a van
gogh blue
mood of cold
and want. my
sky is swirled
with blurred
stars. i feel
like something
is just out
of reach. beyond
the french
doors, past the
uncut lawn
bandaged loosely
with ragged snow.
past the bent
strands of oat
and pussywillow,
i'm too serious
and baffled by
this quiet bed
without flowers,
the bland clouds
of no new ideas,
there is no one
with a spark
to push me where
i need to be
pushed. i'd like
to say that this
too will all pass,
but i'm getting
worried about
losing one good ear.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

blue heron

they stand
still in
the thin pool
of grey water,
the inlet
a distant sea,
ruffling their
soft armor,
the heron
on stick legs,
and narrowed
beaks, angled
like swords,
they look
over at me.
but we are worlds
apart, with
different cares
and worries,
on this
pink rosed morning,
our feet
submerged in
the shallow
depths of
warm louisiana
water.

subway

i go down
the steps
into the subway
of new york
city. i get on
the train
and ride all
night. from
the bronx to
queens up
to harlem,
mid town and
back again.
no borough left
untouched.
i've got all
night, it's
where i want
to be, with
the hum and
rattle of the
old wheels,
the clumsy
cars, the
flickering of
lights. i
like it here,
beneath the
city. below
the streets
of stone,
until i'm ready
and willing
to rise and
move on.

death by diet

i blame it
on tomatoes
and lettuce,
romanine,
never iceberg,
carob, beans
and rice,
soy milk,
no meat, nothing
with a face
will be
consumed or
will suffice,
it must be
raw, uncooked,
unsalted
or unseasoned,
never packaged
or processed, she
has made her
life miserable
with her bland
and tiring
dietary decision.
and she watches
me as i wolf
down a burger
so rare, sizzled
and fried,
the blood dripping
onto the shoe string
rings and fries,
her face frozen into
a horrfying pale
stare. but i'll
help her limp
to her car, if
she can remember
which one it is,
and where.

it's funny, but

you remind me of
someone, someone
i used to know
back in the eighties,
she says, touching
her fingers along my
face. something
in your eyes, that
blue green, the
way you speak,
the way press your
lips to mine.
maybe it was
me, i say, maybe
i'm that person.
no, she says. he
died a long time
ago, so it can't be
you. i take her
hand and put it
against my chest.
i don't feel
anything she
says. there is
no heartbeat.
and she smiles
then cries, i can't
believe it, it
really is you.

lighting a match

casually
you light a
match and hold
it in the air,
cupping your hand
to try and keep
the flame alive,
but the wind
immediately
blows it out.
you try another,
and another,
and just as
quickly the
cold winter
breeze douses
the short hot
lick of fire
before
it can touch
your finger.
before you can
light the way.
something has
to give, something
has to change.

cradle to the grave

a baby in his
crib learns
quickly how
the game is
fixed, is rigged.
cry and squirm
and make a face,
turn red and
close your eyes
in a plea for
what you want
or think you need,
and you will
get what you have
quickly learned
comes to those
that came before
you. they will
pick you up
and hold you,
feed you.
this is the way
it so often
works. from
the cradle to
the grave.

the kind bartender

and the bartender,
olive skinned with hair
as black and shiny
as a wet cat at midnight,
smiles grimly as he pours
another shot, and i
look at my watch, he's
almost a doctor
with his care and
concern. it's not my
health, but my heart
that worries
him most, and he leans
over and says in his
barside manner, go home
man, she's not coming,
just go home. maybe she'll
call tomorrow. maybe
she won't. not to
worry, more fish in
the sea, and i throw
down the medicine, and
say, ahh, but you don't
know her, you can't
imagine how wonderful
this fish can be. go
home he says again, as
the lights go on, and
the barstools go up
onto the tables, the
music dies, and he
stands, his tie undone,
at the door,
holding it open,
waiting, waiting
for me to finish, to
leave. we fish more
tomorrow, yes, he says,
patting me on the back.
tomorrow we will go
together and stand
by the sea.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

tree house

climb up here.
i built this
house up in
the sky just
for us. we can
see the city
through
the leaves, see
the traffic
roll by. we
never have to
get down. we can
stay as long
as we want to.
which is maybe
at the most
an hour or so.
after that i
have to go
to work, use
the bathroom,
get coffee and
make a sandwich.
i know that you
have things to
do too,
but for a little
while, let's just
stay put, okay.
nothing can
change when we're
in our tree house,
we can even
hold hands if
you'd like and kiss.

on the road

this road i'm
on, this long stretch
of highway, where
i've driven for
so long. wearies
me to the bone. being
this far away home
from who i know, from
my son, my dog, and
going it alone,
but i'll be
back again, i just
need to drive a little
further. get to the
coast, to the ocean
where the sun sets
deep into the soft
curl and curve of
blue water. i'll
be back. wait for me.
stay where you are.
i'll be back.

romance is dead

my hand in
the empty
mail box,
is cold and
feels the
harsh wind
kissed metal,
and gropes
around at
nothing. no
letters. but
i'm not
surprised.
no one writes
anymore,
they log
on, they log
off. we
fall in love
with abbreviated
strokes of
words and letters
on our phones.
we end it that
way too. no
tears on each
other's shoulders,
no scenes to
be had. no
notes of
affection are
in the mail
these days
with a smudge
of a kiss,
and a dab
of perfume.
or a lock
of hair folded
within. romance
is dead
i tell you and
maybe it's
better that way.

my dentist

while she puts
her hand into
my mouth, gently
with her
long gloved
fingers, her
beautiful brown
eyes, still,
and smiling
above the fern
green mask,
placing
a cardboard
structure, not
unlike plywood
between my gums,
for x rays, and
then the sharp
point of a silver
tipped needle slips
with a pinch
into my pink soft
gums, i realize
how much
i love her,
despite the pain.
and it occurs to
me, oh, no. here
we go again.

these years go by

you see him from
your window, the
thin blue curtain
pulled back to hold
the shadow on your
bed, your small
hand rubbing a
circle against
the wet pane. you
see your father
scrapping ice off
his truck, and
carrying a ladder
from the back yard
to strap down upon
the snow iced rack.
you see him with his
tilted old cap,
open up the doors,
and settle with
himself what he
needs, the things
that he lacks.
his day is ahead of
him, alone, and
hard, and without
much thanks, and
before he gets into
the truck, as it warms
and blows a pipe
of steam into the
january air, he looks
up at me, in
the window and waves
his gloved hand,
and i in turn with
joy and something akin
to sadness, wave back.

man with one arm

left overs are in
the fridge,
in a bowl, with a
a plastice wrap,
or a glass lid.
there's stew,
and soup, a turkey
leg and a few
potatoes. go ahead
and heat them up.
nuke them if you
want. i'm going up
to take a hot bath,
talk to my sister
delores on the phone.
i want to finish
that reader's digest
story on the man who
cut his own arm
off while hiking
in the mountains
without his cell phone
and all alone.
the things men do
to survive, oh my.
oh, and let the
cat out before you
come up, and turn
out the lights. and
by the way, i'm
really not in the
mood tonight, i'm
still mad at you
for what you said,
so don't try anything
or make your move.
maybe in a few days or
so, if you apologize
and make things right.
we'll see if you're
a good boy then,
so that's it.
good night.

middle aged and crazy

she calls me from
a pay phone, the last
one on the boulevard
and tells me that she's
open for business,
twenty four seven.
the light is always
on. the front door
is unlocked, i'll
never be alone,
or without someone
to call my own. i'm
that lonely, that
desparate that i'll
even see you again
if you bring me
flowers and chocolate
and a nice gold or
silver necklace
or pin. i'm in my
easy stage, my middle
years, my fearful
period of time when
i feel that i'm
being left so far
behind. even my
cat is old, the
dog gone, long gone.
and i still look
good with or without
my clothes on, so
spread the word,
i'm good to go, i'm
ready and willing.
strike up the band
start the show. i'm
ringing the dinner
bell. come and get it.

her summer dress

just one warm
day, one nice
stretch of sun
and shine, and
melting snow,
of seeing the
grass again,
the clinging vine
and the birds
without shiver.
and you in your
summer dress,
walking towards
me, that's all i
need to go on,
to get through
this winter,
long and blue.

Monday, January 10, 2011

let's be friends

i was the water
that quenched
your thirst, that
wet your lips
before the kiss.
i was the meal
you hungered for.
i was the bed
you slept in
and wept with
joy, and fell
back into dream
after dream of
what tomorrow
would bring.
i was the oasis,
the cool shadowed
rest from the chaos
of your world, but
that was then.
now my hands
and heart are
empty of what need
and want, and it's
hard not to notice
how the word
friend so easily
ryhmes with end.

footnotes

anywhere but
here, is where
she is to be,
see page one,
but not alone,
and not with me.
but so it goes.
so it is, and
you must move
on, and accept
that what isn't
yours is his,
see the last
page, and even
that will soon
be in the books,
a footnote in
not yours but
someone else's
history. see
epilogue. you
are done.

seven kittens

these kittens
all lined in a
row, eight at
last count, queued
up in a curl
like cut strands
of thickened
dough, eyes knitted
closed, still
in darkness
and yet inching
towards what they
already know, their
mouths open and
reaching for warm
milk, and their mother
moving them with
her soft bite
from side to side
as they slide, not
quite clean, or
dry, becoming new,
becoming who they
were meant to be,
and each will have
a turn at life,
except for one,
who has gone
strangely still,
and died.

Nurse Betty

just a spoonful
of your love
is enough
to keep the bug
away. to keep
me warm when
the winter storms
arrive. the fever
down. the chills
at bay. just a
spoonful of you,
unmeasured, and
overpoured,
once at night
and once in
the morning and
i'm good to
go. healthy as
a horse with
a bag of oats
and hay,
good in fact
for the whole
damn day.

the white cat

a white cat
with a short tail
and a black
spot on her
back followed
me home today.
she came right
up beside me,
looked me in
the eye and said
meow. and then
again, but
louder, meow.
she stretched
and shook her
pretty head.
and waited for
my reply, so
i said, okay,
let's go. you're
in. and that's
what's working
for me these
days, how love
returns and
begins again.

how it ends

she tells me
that he won't
leave his wife
for me, at least
i hope not. how
could i live
with myself
knowing that i
broke up that home,
the kids are so
young, the wife
doesn't have a
clue, at least
not yet, i mean
as far as i know.
and so, i ask
her, just how
do you think all
of this will
end, for you
and him, and
them. this love
affair, this
fling of yours,
and she sighs
and says, badly,
very badly,
i presume.

when it comes

there is no
bargaining
with it. when
it comes, it
comes, and
there is no
discussion, no
turning away,
and saying
no thank you,
i think i'll
wait a little
while longer,
play some
more, and stay.

unchain my heart

i'm listening
to joe cocker
sing and wail
unchain my
heart while i
sit in a coffee
shop on king
street. i love
that song and
wish to hell
that i had
written it. it
says everything
i want to say
and more. one
line says, i
don't mean a bag
of beans to
you anymore,
damn. that's
poetry in it's
finest form.
play it again
and again, i
can't get enough
of heart ache
out the door.

marriage

what more is there
to say, that hasn't
already been said
so many times before.
and yet, knowing you,
i know you'll find
a way to say something
new, to find more.
and when we finish
this round of sparring,
dancing the same
old steps to the
same sad song,
when the bottle is dry,
and the moon is no
longer out there,
hanging like a pale
reminder of love, in
a long ago sky, we'll
stop, and you and i
will go to our
separate rooms, and
pretend once more
that what we've said
hasn't diminished the
love we had thirty
years ago when
this argument began.

the paper cut

don't worry,
this too shall
pass. be brave,
stand tall,
suck it up and
be a man. this
will heal, don't
sweat the small
cuts, this paper
slice on the tip
of your finger,
that bleeds
and swells
and glows red
like a bite
from a really
small snake
with sharp
tiny fangs.
where did i put
that one pound
tube of
neosporin?
the ace bandage?
my day is ruined.
how will i
hold my cup
of coffee from
starbuck's
with that corrugated
carboard sleeve?
i'll never pick
up another piece
of paper again,
as God is my
witness. i've
learned my
lesson. come here,
put your arms
around me. i
could use a hug.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

my new books

eat less,
walk more
is the title
of my new
self help
diet book.
oprah thinks
it's swell.
speak less,
think more, is
on the way
too and will
be on a book
store shelf
before you
know it. the
cover is a
mouth closed
by a zipper,
there are
plans too
for shutup,
while the
movie is on,
and quit kicking
my seat, plus
in paperback
soon is
please, use
your turn
signal, moron.
but that may
sound harsh.
so i'm working
on a new title
for the second
printing.
i also have a
rough draft for
the book titled,
why my mother
doesn't have
my cell phone
number, but
it's only in
the outline
stage. i will
be signing
them at various
bookstores
across the
country. bring
money.

it's all about me

you pick the newspaper
up from the front porch,
looking up and down
the street for nothing
really, just looking
as the cold air rushes
up against your legs
and down the long
blousey sleeves of
your silk pajamas.
sockless you stamp
your feet and bring
the paper in and stare
at the front page. it's
all about you. your name
in bold black ink is
the headline. it exclaims
that you are in love again,
and you blink, you shake
your head, could this
news be true. details
within. A-10, you turn
the pages, the metro
section declares where
you parked last night
how the meter ran out
of quarters as you sat
drinking and eating
a lobster roll at the
bar with your new fing,
your panamanian paramour.
they have a picture of
her blocking her face
with her white purse.
the financial section shows
a graph of your bank
statements, what has
come in and what is
about to go out as the
IRS leans in with pincers
and cashed checks pinned
onto their white shirted
chests. and the style
section talks about what
you wore, jeans again
and a nice white shirt
from the gap, buttoned
down and starched,
untucked, your new chocolate
leather coat that repels
spilled martinis, and
new shoes. always with
the new shoes. and the sport's
section shows you lifting
weights in the basement,
doing push ups, sit ups,
looking at yourelf in
the mirror pinching the
side of your belly, measuring
the fat of you. getting
ready. they show you on
your bike pedaling
the lake, cold bitten,
and gloved. your lips
blue against the winter
sky. the food
section is the shortest
section of all. a picture
of a frying pan and three
eggs are all you see.
uncracked and rolling
like stones in the black
flat pan. a salt and
pepper shaker stand by.
you skip the obituaries,
after all you are still
here, but you can't fathom
how the paper has done
this, how they have
reported your life in
detail, so clearly for all
to read about and see,
you are stunned,
but you call up
and subscribe, you can't
wait for tomorrow's news,
to know more, to see a new
headline, because
it's all about me.

go back to sleep

go back to sleep.
roll over, i'll
pull the shades.
it's still early,
it's still morning,
it's sunday and
there is no where
we need to go. go
back to sleep, don't
worry about me, i'm
here. i'm next to
you, i'm warm and
happy. i'm just
wide awake with
something on my
mind. it's nothing
really. it's an itch,
a thought that
lingers. it's nothing
really. go back to
sleep. i'm here.

january blues

it's cold again.
janaury is white
and without mystery.
it is blue and grey
against the still
earth. birds
shiver in the pines.
and we hold gloved
hands, kiss against
the speeding hours
of time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

rag mountain

i have new hiking
boots, she says
over the phone.
they're brown and
lace up almost to
my knees. very strong
and sturdy boots.
great i tell her.
that's swell. let's
go hike rag mountain,
she adds on.
i hesitate, then
say, for what?
because it's fun,
she says. and i
say. is there coffee,
do we have to drive
to get there, what
about the bathrooms,
are there wild
bears roaming about.
how long will it take?
can you fall off and die?
she says, you are such
a girl. and i say,
i'm not, but yes,
i'd rather go shopping
at nordstroms, i hear
there's an all day
sale on italian
coats, and black slacks.
i could use a new
pair of brown shoes
too, the ones i have
are a tad tight
in the toes.

she's angry all the time

she's angry
all the time.
her letters,
her texts, her
e mail reflects
a dark and
sad side. it's
a heavy water
that rises
over her,
holds her down
each day. she
smiles, but
it's like the
sun trying
to burst through
thirty years
of doubt and
clouds. and you
feel for her,
because there
is nothing
you can do.
all of your good
intentions
are just empty
cold balloons.

one day you notice

a long line
that stretches
out the door
of the building
on 5th avenue.
there are no
signs, no
indication as
to what the line
is for, but
you get in it
just the same.
you feel that
you are missing
something
and perhaps
this is
where you'll
find it. perhaps
they know what
you're looking
for within,
within those
open doors
where people
stand and shift
their weight,
expecting
so much more
from their lives,
without trying
or thinking. so
you join them.

what's for dinner

as she puts a leg
and a thigh onto
your dish, you scream
but i don't
want chicken again
for dinner. you slam
your fist down onto
the table, and you
rattle the bright green
peas around
on your plate, bouncing
some of them off
the edge, to the
floor where the
dog nonchalantly inhales
them, and coughs.
why chicken,
why do we eat so much
chicken you yell out
in protest. do you
have any idea of the
hormones that they
inject into these things
to make them fat and
grow at the speed
of light, from egg
into roaster almost
overnight. do you know
how bad these chickens
are for our health.
she sits down and calmly
says grace. i hope
these chickens don't
kill us she says.
now shut up and eat.
and besides, all you
have at your house
is oatmeal.

the happy girl

your happiness
bothers me. it's
very annoying
how you bounce
around in your
happy feet, with
your happy smile,
and cupcake treats
with frosting
and sprinkles,
right out of
the oven of your
happy kitchen
and happy home.
i'd like to move
in if you have
enough room and
don't mind a little,
just once in awhile
doom and gloom.
think hard about
it. maybe then, i
can be happy too.

penny for your thoughts

a penny for
your thoughts
has been replaced
by a dollar for
your inner most
longings and feelings
about life and us,
where we are going
with this relationship.
who stops to pick
up a penny anymore,
unless it's really
shiny and catching
the light, who can
resist that. but i
digress and have
rambled on about the
penny when what i
really wanted to talk
about was you and me,
not the penny that
you won't pick up or
bother with when you
see it on your walk.

Friday, January 7, 2011

leche cake

the cake is
white and square
and sits in
sweet milk
and is soft and
covered in a
bright whipped
cream icing.
the body of it
vanilla, a deep
dense yellow like
sunlight through
a church window
in mexico or spain,
and it melts like
powdered sugar
in your mouth,
and it warms you,
makes you want
for more. makes
you lean forward
with your small
silver fork
and take another
bite. always
more. and that's
the secret of
your madness
right there.
always wanting
more of
everything
than you
should have.

milkman

when i was a
milkman in 1963
we'd deliver
quart and gallon
bottles all
morning. setting
them on the stoops
with eggs and
bread, sometimes
bacon, or butter
too. and the bottles
would clink and sing
like a sweet
boy's choir,
as the truck drove
along the quiet
streets, dark as
the other side
of an untouched moon.

compromise

you try so hard
to get the spot
out of your shirt.
you pride yourself
on your appearance,
on how you look when
in the presence
of others. but
it's your favorite
shirt, and this
red spot won't
go away. it's a dot
the size of a
quarter that won't
disappear. you try
everything from
over and under
the counter. magic
sticks and such, it's
still there though
when you pull it
from the wash and
spin it in the
dryer. you can't
erase this blemish.
and yet you love
this shirt, so you
decide to wear
it despite of
how it looks. you
have compromised
your life in so
many other ways,
so why not this,
you reason.

when the sun goes down

she used to say
to me, when blue,
when under
the weather
of the season,
when the sky was
low and light and
grey, she used to
say, i'm no friend
of daylight anymore.
i'm invisible to men
my age, or more,
or even less. my
curves aren't what
they used to be, i
don't walk or look
the same way. the
way i did when i was
young and they'd
blow their horn,
or whistle, and wink,
or ask me for my
number when in line
at the grocery
store, or in a
laundry mat folding
tomorrow's clothes.
give me the night,
she'd say. at least i
have a fighting chance
when the sun goes down.

winning the lottery

you win the lottery
and vow that it won't
change you, but it
does. the first thing
you do is buy a diamond
ring the size of a
walnut and put it
in your ear. now they
know that you have
arrived. then you get
a white car. maybe
a mercedes, or a
cadillac. you get a
shiny black cane with
a golden knob at the
top so that you can
knock the littles out
of the way when you
are passing through.
you find a bevy of
women who will worship
and admire you while
you walk about being
rich and suddenly
handsome. but that's
it, that's all you do,
you haven't really
changed after all.
it's who you've been
all these years anyway.

Ravioli Madness

the waiter brings you
a hot plate full of
small soft squares,
with scalloped edges,
plump like little
pillows covered
in a deep dark red
sauce, the steam
rises up like
heaven into your nose
your eyes, your soul.
the pasta is fragile
and subtle like a
sensuous kiss as it
hits your parted lips
and your tongue folds
around the spices and
the flavor of cheese
and sauce together.
you almost faint with
happiness, and grab
the table, as your fork
gets another, and then
another, you can't
stop yourself,
as the sauce begins
to splatter onto
your white shirt.
the wine spills down
your throat. you
are with someone, but
you've stopped
listening to her
a long time ago, she
babbles on and on
about herself, telling
you things you don't
care about. if she
removed her dress
and stood there in
her black silky
underwear and said
i'm yours, i love you,
take me now. it wouldn't
matter. because it's
all about the ravioli
now. it's too late,
much too late for her.

Elvis in a box

she used
to carry her
dog, elvis,
in a little
pink box,
with rhinestones
embedded in
the side.
it had a handle
so that she
could carry it
like a suitcase
around town.
and elvis,
this white poodle
with dripping
black eyes would
whimper and cry
while everyone
came up to peek
in and pet him
and would say,
poor little elvis
oh, my.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

the swimmer

you wave goodbye
to her on the shore,
and tell her that
you love her, that'll
you'll be back soon.
you kiss her on
the lips and hand
her your clothes,
your shoes, your watch.
wait for me on
the beach, you tell her.
wait right her, i'll
be back. just wait.
and you dive cleanly
into the glistening
waves, you begin
to swim, the ocean
is calm and inviting,
it is the color of
the sky, egg blue
and sways like a
sheet of silver foil
as far as the eye
can see. a warm
morning sun, just
rising whispers
like a siren, to
come in, to come on.
go, and so you do.
you swim out, one arm
over the other, your
strong legs kicking
up white in the gentle
waves, further and
further you swim out
until the water is
no longer blue, but
grey and dark with
the bottom and what
lies beneath, you
have gone too far,
and your arms and
legs are weary, and you
can taste the salt
of breaking waves
in your mouth, your
lips are raw, your
eyes burn. your heart
is about to burst
with something like
sadness, you
have gone too far
and you turn towards
shore to see if you
can see her, but
she's not there. she
is gone, perhaps
she was never there,
but you look back
and hope just the same.

light and easy

write a sweet
poem, she says,
offer up something
light and easy,
fun, soft hearted,
kind and breezy.
no angst attached,
no grim reminders
of what's to come
or what lies buried
in the past, just
feed me a dessert
strand of lines,
all meringue, all
icing, all deep
without the dark,
and candy sweet.
just touch
the surface of
our hurried
unexamined lives
and go no further,
please, tell us lies.

the winter red fox

she was thick
with fur, red
with fringed bursts
of gold throughout
as she darted and
stopped and stared
before nightfall,
as i rolled through
slowly, taking
the cold into
my lungs, feeling
the sting of stars
of winter wind
upon my face, and
ice was on the ground,
and patches of
grey snow. and the red
fox as quick and
light as love
can be sometimes
was still and more
still as i approached
and when i blinked
as i went from sun
into shadow, she
was gone.

her birthday

you appear to be
angry today.
was it something
i said, or did
to make you fold
your arms and have
your pretty face go
red. what is it now
that has you in a
snit, has steam
coming out of your
ears. i'm running
through my mental
list of possibilities
but i can't think
of anything, nothing.
zippo. so what gives,
have i forgotten
something, have i
let you down in any
way. you know that
i love you, i show it
and say it all the
time. so what's
the deal. why the
long face baby, why
are you soooo mad
at me today and
pointing at the
calendar?

the oatmeal blues

i settled on
a bowl of oatmeal
for dinner. the one
minute kind. boil
the water and a
minute later, dinner
is served.
it's all i have
except for the cans
of tuna in spring
water. but there
are no onions to
be found, or bread,
or tomatoes on
or off the vine.
no lettuce. well,
what used to be
lettuce is in
the crisper, but
it's stuck and
i can't get it open.
so it's oatmeal
tonight. i even have
some brown sugar to
sprinkle on it and
make it fancy. i'm
not complaining,
i'm just saying.
oatmeal, for god's
sake is all i have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the mansion

the light
in the foyer
sizzled
and crackled
for a second
or two, before
it popped and
burned
out, it was
just one bulb,
enough to
dim the room,
but it's
twenty feet
up in the air.
almost
unreachable,
and it's
a special bulb
the kind you
have to order
online, from
china,
i hate
this house.

just for tonight

kiss me
slow and easy.
take your
time. pretend
that you love me.
just for tonight,
whisper words like
i'll never
leave you,
i'll always be
yours, my heart
beats just
for you. i
love you more
than anything,
or anyone. even
chocolate. say
crazy things
like that,
but just for
tonight. if it
goes on any
further than
tonight,
i can't see
you anymore, it
just wouldn't
feel right.

everyone

how sickness
betrays
the body, that
wants so badly
to keep going,
to stay pink
and fresh, forever
in some state
of being young,
but that shadow
or lump, or
wound that won't
heal defies logic,
or reason and
puts you on your
knees, or sends you
reeling in despair.
there is no
fairness in any
of it, no one,
as they say, gets
out alive, everyone
will find time,
when it's time,
to be done,
and die.