Thursday, March 31, 2011

the pie store

there's a husband
and wife pie
store down the street
from me. you can
smell the sweet
scent of baking
in the air, like
a warm wave of
angelic comfort.
all they sell are
pies. no cakes, no
donuts, not even
a cup of coffee.
but on the shelf
in boxes, and under
the glass counter are
rhubarb, peach,
apple, pumpkin pies,
boston cream too.
all of them are deep
dish with flaky
crusts. the dough
is rolled out and
baked right there
in the store. at six
in the morning
i see the husband
leave, covered in
flour, his hat tilted,
his back hunched
and his wife arriving
to open shop and sell
the pies. they say
nothing, but kiss
each other on the lips
lightly, then go their
separate ways. each
doing what needs to
be done to keep
this love alive.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

three hours

let me up.
let me go.
cut me loose.
say farewell,
adios.
break the chain,
unlock
the door, kill
the music.
enough is
enough. i can't
take any
more. it was
fun while it
lasted. the best
three hours of
my life, but
i'm done, cooked,
fried and
finished. it's
time to move on,
move out,
go west. get on
that old horse
and ride. i'll
see you on
that proverbial
flip side. yeah.
i know. i've got
nothing but
cliches for you.
and that should
tell us something.

discount lawyer

tied here, staked naked
to the ground with ants
all around, and biting,
and animals coming
up for a sniff and
nibble at my legs
and arms, i wonder
if we can renegotiate
our divorce. your
lawyer was so much
better than mine, i'll
admit that. i should
have searched harder
than the mall outlet
store, but i'm
willing to compromise
now. i see the error
of my ways. i need
some water, just a
sip, and let's iron
out the details before
the vultures fly
down and begin to do
what vultures do. why
is your mother holding
that shovel?

a good start

just because you can
bake a cake,
make beef stew,
and mix a martini
with one hand
tied behind
your back while
wearing high
heels, doesn't mean
that i'll fall
in love with you,
but it's an awfully
good start.

paperbacks

use a bookmark
she says, here,
take mine. i don't
like the way you
bend the page,
dog ear every place
you stop. it's
annoying and it
ruins the book. i
don't like what
you are doing to
that book. i
stare at her while
i crease another
corner with wet
fingers. then close
it. it's not the kings
james bible for
crying out loud.
it's grisham, he'll
have another book
out in an hour.
and besides, it's
paperback. i might
light the grill with
it this summer.
you have no respect
for property she
says and gets up to
get the phone to make
a call. i hear her
telling her mother
about the book and
what a horrible person
i can be sometimes.
i think about never
reading again, but
then jump back into
to where i left off.
it's a great story. i
can't wait for the movie.

complaints

there's alot of
complaining going on
at the water cooler.
i don't have a
water cooler, but
wish i did, just to be
a part of the
complaining, where
should we begin.
traffic, the weather,
the price of coffee.
how about those
'skins'. of course
there's the economy,
and the kids,
the wife, the ex
wife, the dog,
the cat, the grub
worms in the yard.
the price of gas,
the price of gin.
work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the mole

you don't have a doctor,
you've never had one,
there's never been
a need. you've toughed
out the flu, stitched
yourself up, everything
has been over the counter.
your medicine cabinet
consists of bandaids
and aspirin. ice packs.
but things are starting
to add up, besides the
chronic knee pain,
there's this mole on
the side of your head
that your dentist keeps
poking at when you give
her another two thousand
dollars to replace a
crown. maybe you should
have someone take
a look at the mole, she
says as she takes your
wallet out of your pocket
and counts out her fee.
shave it off with a
scalpel. it's more
of a beauty mark, you
tell her. which makes
her laugh. she has a
beautiful smile, great
teeth, no moles that
i can see.

thai food on tuesday night

alone at the table
with watch
and phone laid
out, a set of keys,
the morning paper,
it's tuesday,
and you're ordering
thai food at
eight p.m., a
cold beer, you have
a window seat on
mt. vernon avenue.
no one is out and
about. a cool breeze
blows in when
the door opens
and the bells rings.
you feel like
something spicy,
maybe shrimp, chicken.
rice. carrots and
basil. another
beer. you flip
through the phone.
seeing what
gives, what's
new. what's gone.
you can't read
the paper in here,
it's too dark
and shadowy.
across the room a
woman is pointing
at her husband,
she yells
at his grey face
in a whisper. her
blue eyes sparkle
horribly, he
can't even look
up. the only
words you hear are
this is the last time,
harold, or else
i'm leaving you for
good. you suddenly
feel much better
about your life.
you order that sweet
gummy rice dessert
and coffee.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the nightmare

my friend claudia
told me in the hallway
of our building as
she was getting
the mail that she was
depressed. why, i said,
what's up with that.
and she said that
everything was going
fine. things were
great. her life
was finally in a good
place and she had
nothing to worry about.
i have money, i have
a nice dog, i have
three fun guys that
i'm dating that don't
want to get married
or have me meet
their mothers.
i love my job, and
my doctor just told
me that i'm in perfect
health. damn, i said.
whew. i don't think
i could handle all
of that. be careful.
i know, she said, it's
a nightmare.

doing the hop

she only had
one leg, but it
didn't stop her
from dancing. no
not at all.
but it was awkward
at best
and sometimes,
if she drank too
much, and i wasn't
there to catch her,
she'd take
an awful fall.

the favorite marble

you never risked
your favorite marble.
the one you treasured,
the one with blue
and silver sparkling
within it's glass
enclousure. a perfect
cat's eye. that
marble never saw
the middle of the
drawn dirt circle.
instead you threw out
the dull, the worn,
the chipped, the
yellow ones that had
no soul, no grip
upon your childhood
psyche. never did
the sweet one get
lost. and you still
have it, even now
within your dresser
drawer, as precious
as a diamond, as
valuable as youth
itself.

only this middle

your left hand
is cold upon
my neck and yet
i don't tell
you not to touch
me. i let it
stay. i let you
have your way
with what you
do. you'll be
gone soon enough.
it isn't love
to begin with, nor
will it be in
the end, in fact
there is no end.
there is only
this middle
where we pretend.

another list

your list
is unwritten.
it's there though.
tucked away
in the shirt pocket
of your brain.
it's not about
bread and milk,
or eggs anymore.
it's something
else. something
beyond what can
be purchased
in a store. it
involves you, your
mysterious
and every present
presence.

staying put

unmoved, you stay,
you sit. you let the sun
fall over
your shoulder. you
swim into the darkness.
let the cool water
of air collect
and take you under.
but you stay. you
sit. you are waiting.
you are tired of
movement. of change,
of disorder. your
hands are folded.
you stay, you sit.
you are done with
doing things the way
they were done
before. you will let
it come to you.
this is how it will
be from here
on out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

it wasn't all bad

you left your blonde
wig on the bed post.
and your whip and
plastic toy gun, that
springs out a flag
that says pop. you
are so clever, so
much fun. shame we
aren't married
anymore. i always
loved your pot roast,
your mashed potatoes,
your lavishedly iced
sweet cinammon buns.

zen and gin

you are feeling very
zen like after two
martinis, the world
has slowed down to
an understandable
pace, after three
you are quite sure
that you are cross
between the dalai lama,
and jack kerouac
and you can speak
easily and smartly on
the order of the universe,
the meaning of life.
after four, you are
the fool you were before
you started, and more
so. no vote needs to
be taken. it's
unanimous as you fall
asleep on the cold
tile of the bathroom
floor.

slim pickings

she can't eat.
not a bite goes
in that doesn't
quickly come out.
she makes sure of
that. she's a stick
figure in high
heels. there is not
a mirror that
she likes or a scale
that registers her
weight just right.
she's melting before
your eyes. no top,
no bottom, not a
single pound to
grab hold of.
everything she wears
doesn't cling, doesn't
fit, it just slides
to the floor like
carnival rings.
she needs a sandwich
and a shake in a bad
way. and with that,
we've only just begun.

heads up

as she flung her
christmas tree
off the blacony
of her ninth floor
condo, she forgot
to take the lights
off, and the star
on top. but it was
march. and the whole
thing at this point
was an afterthought.
she had no idea
though that her
neighbor who blows
smoke through the
vents, because they
hate each other
was down below walking
her dog. it was
an accident and yet,
perhaps not.

hitting the jersey wall

as your car swerves,
because you aren't
paying attenion
and hits the jersey
wall and you see
your life upside down,
you can't help
but notice how
blue the sky
is, how the birds
don't pay you
anymind, and
that in your hand,
your phone is
beeping loudly, you
have another call.

marital advice

your horse looks
tired. i saw her roll
her eyes at my
horse. she thinks
you're too heavy
in the saddle, that
you ride her
too hard, you're
too strong with
the whip, too
frugal with the oats,
the sugar cubes.
maybe you should
ease up on her,
give her some room,
some love, wash her
down and whisper into
her ear that you
love her. take
the saddle off and
let her roam the open
field where the fresh
grass is green
and high.

magellan

how far is it,
are we almost there.
we've circled
the known world.
it'll be dark soon
and we're thirsty,
we're hungry, we
haven't slept
in days. where
are we, are we
almost there. i'm
tired, i'm lonely,
i'm scared that we
might not ever
arrive, never set
foot on dry land.
our supplies have
dwindled down
to nothing, the shelves
are bare. how long
can this ocean
hold us up, keep us
moving towards
the promised land.
our eyes strain to
see a shore, any shore
will do. it's not
a good place to be.
it's exactly the reason
that i ended up
with you.

she purrs

she is a lean
feline on the sill
purring with
a lilt and quiet
flash of blue
eyes. she arches
her back, and
smiles. she knows
more than you
know. and
everything,
everything is up
to her. patience
is not one
of your many
virtues.

frozen clothes

while i was hanging
my laundry out on
the line the other day,
i was humming a song with
clothespins in my mouth,
up went the shirts
and pants, socks.
the blouse that you left
that said dry clean only.
it was sunny and warm.
there was a nice
breeze blowing, birds
were chirping, carrying
sticks, making nests.
the sky was blue like
an egg and blown clean
of clouds. the world
had taken a sharp turn
towards good, towards
spring. so this snow
and string of frozen
clothes still on
the line this morning,
surprised me, to say
the least. nothing has
changed, quite yet, except
the size of your blouse.

pressure

in a minute you
tell her, just give
me one more minute.
i need to think
this over. i need
to ponder my answer.
just give me a
few more seconds.
don't rush me, don't
push me into making
a rash decision,
there are so many
choices, so many
roads to take. okay.
okay. i'm almost there,
i'm ready. okay.
i think i know what
i want. french vanilla.
one scoop in a cup.

the wig store

she shaves her head
completely bald and takes
the strands down to
the store where they
construct wigs for
those without hair.
she's not only making
a statement about who
she is, but she's
doing a good thing as
well. but they tell
her no, we can't use
your hair, sorry, it's
been overprocessed and
it's not good enough
for our wigs. so she
leaves and puts the
bag of her long blonde
hair into the trash.
she rubs her head,
feeling the smooth
soft bristles of her
scalp. she puts her
hat on. it's snowing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

up all night

as the neighor goes
out to get her paper
at the end of the
sidewalk, she is in
curlers and flip
flops, a half open
robe. she is pregnant
and smoking a cigarette.
i heard her get in
at two a.m. last
night, waking me
up with her customary
saturday night fight
with jimmy, or someone.
she sees me on the
porch and waves,
smirks and says, up
early, ain't we. she's
still wearing lipstick.
yes, i say. we are, in
fact some of us have
been up all night.

writing

the sudden knock at
the door, or the phone
ringing interrupts
the thought, the
almost hatched
phrase nearly out
of it's shell,
with wings. so
close, but too
late though. it's
finished without
a finish.
the dream, so
smooth and full
and going everywhere
at once, is over.

betrayal

what isn't ruined
by love, is made
whole, if both have
agreed to travel
as one down a
certain road, but
once one veers off
and strays, there
is no going back,
no words, no
repentance, or
remorse that will
find it saved.

chips

take this bag
of chips away
from me, please.
i can't stop eating
them. one after another.
each salty taste
leading to one
more dip of hand
into the bag.
another, then
another. it reminds
so much of you.

the note

the needle
that was
in your arm
lies on the
stained rug
it's tip
still glistening
wet with
drug, your
doll black
eyes vacant
and large,
your lips, so
ruby red, still
inviting even
in this stunned
state of
final silence.
you have
found the train
to go under,
the tower
to leap from,
the correct
dose to sleep
and sleep
and sleep
and sleep.
and there is no
note. your
life was
that.

lost in the funhouse

i see you
in the fun house,
holding onto
the rails, ducking
the cobwebbed
ceilings with bent
mirrors and spiders
that drop and rise.
i see you navigate
the oblong corridor
and short door,
a window slanted
sideways. i see
you in the puff
of false smoke,
the giggled echo
coming out of nowhere
as the retractable
clown swings
out to scare no
one. i see you in
the fun house.
it is neither fun,
nor a house. it's
just another place
you can't be
reached, where you
are safe from
the outside world.

pot roast

when you come in
the door, and throw
your hat down, take
off your coat
you smell something
in the kitchen, cooking,
in the stove. you had
forgotten that you
had a stove.
a dog comes up wagging
his tail. you don't
remember having a dog
either. you go into
the kitchen and open
the oven door to see
a pot roast almost
done, with potatoes
and carrots, onions.
a wave of heat and
the scent of succulent
meat rises
into your face. you
are suddenly warm
with memory. you are
at home. you are
loved afterall. you
are hungry and ready
for dinner. you see
the rolls on the counter,
the salad in the bowl.
there are plates on
the table. then you see
a stack of mail.
you pick up an envelope
and begin to open it.
but you see that it
is addressed to
someone else. your
heart sinks, you are in
the wrong house, but
you don't leave. you
wait for dinner. you
have been waiting
a long time for a meal
like this.

everything almost

i have enough of
everything i really
need. i have
enough food in the
icebox, enough forks,
and spoons, enough
plates with which
to eat off of.
there's enough
gas in the tank,
enough water
and heat, the roof
is good. i have
shoes and shoes
and shoes. socks
too. there
is plenty of money
in the bank,
there's change
in the bowl,
cash in the drawer.
i have two books
of stamps. i have an
egg beater.
i even have a frozen
pizza which i
will never eat. all
i need is a phone
call or two. okay.
an e mail, a text.
a smoke signal,
some sort of message,
even a whisper
from you, will do
and then i'm good.
really good.

i'm all in

as you tip
your hand,
showing me
a card or two,
but not
all of them.
i can see
the trouble
we might get
into if the
game goes on
late into the
night, and we
open up
another bottle
of wine,
putting
everything
on the table,
including us.

april snow

she has no cat,
no bird, no
goldfish in
a bowl, but her
bags are packed
and she's at
the curb waiting
to find out
in which direction
she needs to travel.
she blinks
her blue eyes
in the april snow.
soon, she says, very
soon, i'm sure i'll
figure it all
out. i'll awaken
from this dream,
and then i'll know.

parking hell

your version
of hell involves
parking garages.
deep dark tunnels
of dimmly lit
ramps and tight
spaces, with locked
doors and a maze
of signs leading
somewhere, nowhere.
the narrow turns,
going down and down.
you can't find
your way out,
the ticket won't
work, there is no
one around to help
you. even your phone
won't pick up a
signal as you walk
and walk and mumble
was it B-2, or C-2,
or has it been towed.

every blue moon

it happens, you want
more, you want
to read the last
page first, have
dessert before
dinner. you want
to know the heart
before you've kissed
or even held hands.
you want spring
without winter.
you want her
to be summer all
year long. you want
to stay despite how
little you know.

Friday, March 25, 2011

she's in the bushes

i see you outside
the house, in the bushes.
peeking in, but i
pretend that i don't
see you. i let you do
your secretive thing,
moving from window
to window checking up
on me. your ear to
the wall, to the glass,
the door. it's okay. i've
been there, and know that
jealous feeling. it's not
a good way to live,
but it will pass. you'll
heal and move on and
eventually see the
foolishness of your ways,
meanwhile, i left a plate
of cookies and a glass
of milk out for you on
the back porch when you
make your way around,
over the fence and onto
the deck. shame things
didn't work out between
us. blow on the cookies
first, they're still warm.

childhood

fast asleep, he
is, in the other
room, his crib,
the mobile
unmoving
above his head,
the clowns
and animals still
dancing on
the walls, his
hair is silk,
his skin as soft
as it will ever
be and soon, this
will all be gone,
the change has
already started.
he has begun to
move to the side
of his own life.
today is now
tomorrow and his
childhood is but
a distant song.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the sun is high

as your feet
go through the cold
stream, your shoes
are off, the sand
is soft, the pebbles
smooth. she waits
on the other
side. it's summer,
her dress is white,
her hair is dark.
she has no name.
she is young, as
you are and it's
the beginning of
your life, not the
end. you have
started over, been
given a second
chance to get to
the other side, you
are careful this
time. you are in
no rush. you want
to do it right.
the water is cold,
the sun is high.

the train finds them

there seems to be
no reason why, these
cars get stuck
on the tracks, or
why without purpose
someone gets hit
and dies beneath
a train. it's roar,
it's whistle is
constant as it
arrives, as it
departs, it's hard
to understand why,
it keeps happening
despite the lights,
the warnings,
the crossing gate,
the signs. the train
finds them one
way or the other.

Best Seller

my friend isabella
told me on the phone that
she is reading a
wonderful book these
days called
dating online 101
and it's full of
fantabulous tips such as
when to give out your
number, when to allow
the first kiss.
where to meet on a
first 'date', what
to say, what to wear,
it's all there in easy
to follow steps with
color illustrations.
how to end the night
when things aren't
going well. the fake
text that your house
is on fire, or a pipe
has broken and you must
get back home, the lukewarm
handshake, the pat on
the back farewell. the
kiss on both cheeks
as if you're in france
or italy, ciao baby.
then there's the tip
about when to get up
and go to the bathroom
to avoid paying any part
of the check. it's all
about timing, she says.
it gives great examples
of texts and e mails gently
telling your date that
you had a great time, but
to never contact them again.
it's truly a wonderful
book, there is
even a chapter on
giving the stiff arm
when the guy full of
wine tries to kiss you
with his mouth wide open
like a flounder, not
to mention how to block
and delete and how
to a get a restraining
order. there's a great
photo of how to
effectively point
your pepperspray at an
over amorous date. he'll
drop to his knees like
a baby seal, she says,
and then you can just
push him to the ground
and run to your car.
the blurb on the cover
says, "how to eat out at
five star restaurants
five times a week
and never spend
a nickel". so where are
you going tonight i ask
her. and she squeals loudly
into the phone. morton's
tonight and cafe milanos
tomorrow. sweet i tell
her. sweet. good luck,
don't eat too much. thanks,
she says, ciao baby!

the great swim

you decide to swim
around the world using
alternate strokes,
the butterfly and
the dog paddle are
your favorites.
you have some free
time on your hands
because work is slow
and your girlfriend
has recently
told you that she no
longer wants to be
in the same room
with you. pffft.
who needs her. so
you start to get ready.
you take vitamins,
spoonfuls of fish oil,
and eat vegetables.
you load up on salmon
and rockfish, tuna.
you consume sardines
like candy. you drink
plenty of milk. every
morning you stretch
and do deep knee
bends, then you soak
in the tub for hours.
sometimes you go under
and hold your breath
for minutes at a time.
you are getting ready
for your swim, your
journey like a fish
across the seven
seas. you stare at
a map of the world
and visualize your
quest. you see that
the world is seventy
five per cent water
and you hope that
someone stops you
before it gets any
further than where
it is.

peppermint patty

let's pretend that none
of this every happened,
okay. let's just roll
back that old clock
on the wall and imagine
that i never threw that
peppermint patty across
the room and struck you
in the forehead, causing
a two inch gash. who
knew that the foil and
frozen chocolate could
cause such damage. but
let's put all of that
behind us, okay. the
stitches won't be in
that long, and the welt
will subside over time.
come here and hug me,
sweetie pie. i promise
to never throw a pepper
mint patty at you again.
no need to make a big
fuss over a little bitty
accident.

short a few bucks

i'm short a few
bucks, a couple
of inches too, i wish
i was taller so
that i could
reach things on
the upper shelf.
i forget what's
even up there
and i no longer have
a ladder. my neighbor
kit kat, i know,
crazy name, but she's
a hair stylist,
borrowed it when
she had squirrels
in her attic and
had to shoo them
out with my broom.
she got married to
a cop who was renting
one of her rooms
and moved and took
both the ladder
and the broom
with her and the
new taller than
me groom. i didn't
even get an invite
to the wedding.
so i'm short a few
bucks, and i can't
buy anything new.
at least not for
awhile.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

lie detecter

i carry a lie
detector with me
everywhere i go.
it's battery
and solar powered.
and when i meet
someone of interest
from dating online
and want to know
the truth, i strap
her up and hit
the switch on. it's
best to start off
with the easy
questions, such as,
is your husband still
living in the basement,
how many cats do
you have, do you
have any money
whatsover to pay for
your portion of
dinner tonight,
are you currently
taking any depression
medicine and have
you ever been in a
straight jacket?
those questions seem
to end things
rather quickly.

the bus driver

she had strong
hands, not like a
man, but a pair
of girly hands
that had strength
and jar opening
capabilities.
they were tough
and veined, and yet
she kept the nails
polished like little
strawberries in a
patch. i asked her
how she got such
a powerful set of
hands and she said
that she was a bus
driver, and that
by turning the wheel
of that giant city
bus, driving it
through traffic
and pulling on
that handle to open
and close those
heavy flap doors
made them that way.
on the first date
we arm wrestled and
my hand went flying
into the clams
casino as she easily
pressed my flimsy
grip down.

getting organized

your book keeping
skills are lacking,
writing on the back
of envelopes and
napkins is no way
to run a business
or a social life,
but you do the best
you can. you only
have a few more
years to go anyway.
if your fingers were
smaller and able
to type more readily
onto your stupid
new droid phone
that continually drops
calls, you'd be more
organized. but no.
it's not happening. so
if i don't get back
to you, or lose
your number and you
fall between the cracks
or crevices don't be
concerned, it's
not from a lack of
interest. i could use
both the love and
the money. that never
seems to change.

1961

the sirens blast
loud and long
as you curl and hide
beneath your desk.
you are waiting
for the mushroom cloud
the furnace of fire
that will engulf
your world, but it
doesn't come quite
yet. and they tell
you to run home,
with your books
and the next day's
homework, run quickly,
flee to your parents
and try not to think
too much about war,
about the end of
life, about death.
and please don't forget
to bring your field
trip money to the
planetarium tomorrow,
that is if there is
a tomorrow. those
that don't have it,
can't get on the bus.

the news

the news is uncertain,
this may or may
not have happened.
rumors of war persist,
but they haven't
invaded yet the quiet
of your own life.
you hear about a wave
of sorrow, a fire
of revolution, but
still you are safe,
as you sit and drink
your coffee and check
the scores to last
night's game. you
are untouched, as most
of the world is
but what goes on, by
what makes the head
line news, but you feel
like your day will
come, that no one
will escape for long,
and it's not that you
don't care, it's just
that there is so
much, so much, and so
little you can do
to change things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

at the piano

she sits, back
straight at the piano.
her hands touching
but not pressing
on the keys. her
long slender fingers
unmoving.
her eyes are closed,
her lips pursed.
she is trying to
decide. i am waiting,
i am patient. i can
sit there for hours,
or days, if need be,
before she begins
to play. i have
decided that it is
her music that i
want to hear, to
listen to, dance to.
to fall asleep
and wake up to.
i'm just waiting on
her to play. it's in
her hands. all of it.

prayer

you find the bed
warm, and almost
any bed will
do these days.
you are wet
with rain, with
a life of work.
fatigue pulls
on your aging bones.
you pull off your
boots and fall flat
face first into
a pillow. you
will yourself to
get out of your
clothes. to turn
off the light.
you can barely bring
your hands together
to pray, and yet
you do. there has
to be some structure
and ritual that
you'll bend to
in this life.

apparition

you want to hear
her voice again.
to taste her lips,
to feel the warmth
of her body against
yours. she has become
an apparition that
you want made
whole. it's not
good, this thought.
this longing, but
it comes as quickly
as it goes. it
is a cold wash of
wave upon your soul.
and she fades like
the false light
she was, she fades,
so nearly gone.

the trees are white

the trees are white.
they've never been
this white before,
even after a snow.
they are pale
like bones, like
arms reaching
towards the black
sky, without skin,
without clothes.
the forest is white
with white trees.
they are a cloud
of ashes that won't
rise. they are what
you will be in time,
in good time.

self help

i'm bored i tell
susie, my wednesday
night girlfriend.
and she says, well,
only boring people
are bored, and i
say, where did you
get that. did you
just make it up, and
she says, no. i read
it in my new self
help book about how
to enrich your life
with fun and interesting
people. maybe you
should read it, she
says smartly. maybe
i will, i say, but i
find most boring people,
including you , alot
more interesting after
i've had a few drinks
under my belt.
so why bother with
the book? i hate you
she says. but you're
not bored are you?
i answer back. no,
she says, not at all
as she throws the book
making me duck.

elastic waist band

my friend ellen
told me that she
was admiring a pair
of extended waist
pants in the store
the other day. so
much so that she
bought three
pairs, the elastic
waist band
is a wonderful thing
she said, especially
around the holidays
and with easter just
around the corner
with all of that ham
and sweet potatoes
to be consumed, not
to mention the jelly
beans and chocolate
bunnies, and those
irresistible yellow
peeps, well,
why not get comfy
clothes. the gym
is so hard, so smelly
and dirty with all
of that sweat from
other's grunts and
groans. elastic, yay!

i'm sorry, but

i don't like
to fish, or hunt,
or cajol crabs into
a cage with
chicken strips,
or shoot birds
out of the sky
for sport, or wrestle
sharks, or jump
out of planes, or
climb icy mountains
with a goat. deep
sea diving does
not thrill me, nor
does karaoke, or
playing charades,
but you go right
ahead and do so if
it makes you happy.
i'll be back at
the lodge awaiting
your safe return,
with an ice cold
martini in front
of the fire.

the burke and herbert bank

inside the bank,
in line, waiting
your turn with your
slips and checks
and id. you see
yourself in the
monitor as the
camera swings and
switches from one
angle to the next.
and you see yourself
as others see you.
it's frightening
how old you've
suddenly become.
and it occurs to
you that maybe, just
maybe you should
withdraw all of
your money and go
out and have some
serious fun before
it's too late.

on a different page

with her sleepy eyes,
and soft hoarse
whisper, she says,
move closer, come
near. put your hand
right there.
upon my chest, place
it on my heart
and feel that beat.
my love for you
is enormous. it
fills this room.
it's the sky, the
moon, the sun and
stars. you are
everything i've ever
dreamed of, you are
the one, the only
one. i can't imagine
my life without
you. and you stretch
your arms, look
at the clock and yawn,
then say ditto babe.
hey, i'm starving,
aren't you. what's
for breakfast.

face the music

at daybreak, there is
a long long line
of women at your door
with steam coming
out of their ears.
some are holding torches
in their hands. your
mother is in there too,
and so are a few sisters.
along with your aunt
marie who drove up
from philly. many
of them are holding
what looks like baseball
bats, or clothes hangers,
along with stacks of
e mails that you've
exchanged in the past.
they seem upset about
something you've said,
or written or a
behavioral pattern
that you have acquired
over time. you edge
the curtain to the side,
just a little, to peek
out. you can't even
see the end of the line
as it wraps around
the building. you think
that you can lie there
until they all give up
and go away, but then
you hear someone yell
out, i see him. he's
in there. and then
a shout, we're not
leaving until you come
out and face the music.
you think about how much
food and water you
have in the house. you
begin to board up
the windows with lumber
and nails. you boil
oil in a big vat and
go to the roof.

red sauce

you are dressed
nicely in a crisp
white shirt, a pair
of jeans, black shoes
and socks, shaved
and trimmed, showered
and dabbed with
just the slightest
hint of cologne,
sipping a gin and
tonic at the table,
with wine on the way,
and one in her hand
across from you and as
you articulate your
world views on
literature and art,
sharing your opinions
of the world at large
with her, who works
at the white house,
you spin your pasta
on a fork into a
spoon and don't even
see the red sauce
splatter like fireworks
across the white
broad space of your
once clean shirt.

Monday, March 21, 2011

cigarettes and kissing

i like to smoke
occasionally,
she says, does
that bother you? i
mean is it a deal
breaker if we start
dating? depends,
i tell her, if
kissing is involved,
i think that it
might be a problem,
having never liked
the taste of nicotine
and ashes in
my own mouth let
alone coming from
someone else's, or
the smell of tar
on my clothes, or
hands, or in your hair.
but i can stop any
time i want to, she
says, coughing and
clearing her throat,
while she fidgets with
her pink bic lighter.
she wants to spit,
but doesn't and swallows
politely. it just helps
me to relax when i get
nervous. in fact, i
only smoke after eating,
or if i'm jittery about
something, or someone,
or if i have a cup of
coffee in the morning,
or a drink when i'm out
and about with my friends.
she removes a tiny strand
of tobacco from the
tip of her tongue and
flicks it away,
oh, and sometimes
when i walk the dog,
or if i'm on the
phone, i'll light one
up, or two. the only
other times i smoke
is after cuddling with
my significant other
and walking on the beach,
and driving. i love
to smoke when i drive,
with the radio on,
i hang it out the window
though because i don't
want the inside of my
car to stink or get
ashes on the seats,
or that yellowish
cigarette goo on
the windshield. but
it's hard to text,
smoke and drive
all at the same time
and hold the wheel
between my knees. so,
i could see giving
it up at some point,
it would be easy
though for me, because
i hardly smoke at all.
like i said. i'm just
barely a smoker. i'm
a social smoker, very
casual about it. i could
quit in a heartbeat.
so, what do you think?
me and you. are we good
for friday night?

family

one of my sisters
married a drug
dealer who was shot
up in a gun battle
many years ago.
he survived his
wounds, but not
the other guy,
who died after
he was dragged to
a swamp and had
a few bricks tied
to him. self-defense.
he was shot in
the spine, my sister's
husband, and had
to wear a metal halo
for several months
to keep his
neck in place as
he healed. he comes
to thanksgiving
dinner at my
mother's house every
year when he's not
in prison or on
the run. he always
brings her a fresh
bouquet of flowers.
she loves him. he knows
how to fix the porch,
hammer a nail, tighten
a bolt. get the toilet
to stop running.
he has given her grand
children and he loves
to play board games
late into the night,
charades too. he is
a god to her, but
with that slight
flaw of being a drug
dealer and a murderer.
i'm baffled to say
the least.

let's grow old together

she is only fifty,
but over coffee, on
our first date
she tells me that
she'd like to find
someone to grow old
with. someone who
loves her, and she
in return will love
him back. someone to
share the sunrises,
the sunsets, someone
who will push her
in a wheel chair
when her legs no
longer work and will
change her bed pan
when she can't get
up to go. someone
who will rub lotion
on her back where the
sores are from lying
there so long. clip
the long hard nails on
her blue feet. she'd
like to find someone
who will arrange her
doctor visits, line
up her pill bottles
on the shelf, someone
who will make her
soup and spoon it
to her while she
lies there with her
cats in her lap,
and smiles, with her
teeth out, knowing that
she is loved. she says
a lot more, but i
can't hear the rest
of it because i am
running down the street
as quickly as i
know how.

rain day

it's too
early to get
up, so you lie
there and listen
to the rain
rattle against
the roof, you
hear the roll
of thunder,
the wind push
against
the tall trees.
it's still
dark out, there
is no sun,
and won't be
the whole day.
if you weren't
self employed
you'd call in sick,
you'd call
the boss and
cough into the
phone and say, hey,
i'm not up to
it today. see
you tomorrow or
the next day.
but you are your
own master and
you rise. you
look out the window
at the wet
black street
and go again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

you begin to cry

you have no
water. no food.
no bed, or home.
there is
no car, no bank
account, no bills
to pay, no job
to go to. no wife,
or friends, or son.
no memories. there
are no disappoint
ments, or joyous
moments. you have
not a single worry
in your life.
you have just been
born and things
are about to change.
you begin to cry.

circling a date

you circle a date
on your calendar.
the big calendar,
the one the real estate
agent, that you don't
know, sends every
christmas. there are
two magnets on the
back that keep it snug
on the door. you've
cut off the faces of
bill and marge, the
smiling team of agents
who are smiling so
brightly with such
white teeth that it hurts
your retinas. they
don't annoy you anymore
though because you've
scissored them away.
but you randomly make
a big circle around
a day with your sharpie
pen in black.
no reason. not a
wedding, or funeral
to go to. no dinner
no date, nothing
really planned for
that particular day.
but you just want
to see what happens
just the same.

regrets

she asks me
with her pencil in
hand, notebook
on her lap, glasses
on the tip of her
long educated nose
if i have any
regrets. she taps
her pencil,
eraser end down,
and waits patiently
for an answer, i'm
almost asleep
on the couch, my
feet are up. i can
hear traffic
out on the street.
i see an ordinary
pigeon on the sill,
and the ghost of
him in the reflection.
his rainbow neck
of color bobs
nervously. regrets,
i say out loud.
none, actually. not
a single one.
and she says, hmm,
i think we're on
to something.

into the jungle

the blue sunny
skies of
your desire
outweighs your
intellect at times
and takes you
off track, off
the well worn
and straight and
narrow path
and into the blue
thick jungle
of mistaken
love and lust,
inappropriate
decisions that you
will regret later
and blame on
wine, or the full
moon, or your mother
who didn't love
you quite enough.
hacking your way
out is hard, but you
will find a way.
this nothing new.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

children

she moves
the plant
from one window
to the next.
out of the shadow,
into the sun.
raises the sash.
she pours water
into the dark
soft dirt,
straightens
out the leaves
with her hands.
spins the pot
just so. she
thinks about her
children,
now gone,
now grown.

raspberry hair

i like what
you've done to
your hair.
what color would
you call that?
raspberry?
and how did it
get so tall,
and stay there?
anyway, it's
wonderful, you
stand out in a
crowd. in fact
the crowd parts
for you whenever
you're around
with me in tow.

the grocery cart

you've picked
the wrong shopping
cart again,
the one with
the wobbly wheel
that sticks and
spins, but you
push on because
you already have
milk and bread
in the cart, and
a bottle of wine,
you have a
committment with
this cart. and
you remember someone
telling you recently
like last night,
that you have
a phobia about
committment,
so you feel that
you have something
to prove. but
the cart wants
to veer left
no matter how hard
or how much you pull
and straighten
it out. it squeaks
loudly. but you stick
with it, and try
try to deny the thought
that this cart
is a portent of
some significance.
you push on. you
are not afraid.

the game

you draw a hot
bath, as soon
as you get home
from playing
basketball, you
make the water
as boiling
hot as you can
stand it, you take
off all of your
clothes, let them
drop heavy to
the floor,
cloaked in sweat,
and slide in,
you let the heat
sink into your
skin, permeate
your aging bones,
until you are done,
cooked and loose,
able to walk
again with only
a slight limp.
you have twenty
hours or so to
recover and
get back on
the court again.
ibuprofen helps
too, as does a
few martinis
before bedtime.

Friday, March 18, 2011

graffiti dog

as my dog raises
his leg up to
the fire hydrant
and lets loose
a solid stream,
i can't help but
wonder what makes
the arm with can
in hand, at three
a.m. spray paint
a wall, a fence,
an overpass along
the highway with
large cartoonish
names and words
that hardly make
any sense to almost
everyone, except
a few. green and
gold, bright reds
and oranges. so
bold and bright in
their dark, late
night art. and
somehow my dog
still has something
left in his tank,
as he finds another
post to raise his
leg to, he seems
to understand.

the last meal

thanks for
sleeping over,
but before you go,
are you hungry?
i could fix us
something, if you'd
like. i know my
way around a
kitchen. hmmm.
okay, we seem
to have only three
slices of bread
left in the bag,
and all are
nearly hard,
stale, and have
that questionable
yeast like smell,
but i don't see
that green tinge of
mold quite yet,
so i figure if
we toast them
up, we'll be
good to go, sort
of. we are out
of peanut butter,
out of eggs,
out of tuna.
how about a little
sprinkle of
cinnamon, well
actually it's
nutmeg and butter.
will that do for
our last meal?

she's come undone

she calls me from
rehab, somewhere
in florida, or
texas, she's
in a building
with beds, and
bars, and men in
white suits
keeping guard
on who gets in
and gets out.
it's a serious
business. this is
not oprah land
or dr. phil
with a quick easy
bake solution.
what once was having
fun is no longer
a viable option.
it seems that
this time, she's
really gone over
the edge, she's
on the sill looking
down. she's come
undone.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gina's got a gun

i asked my new
girlfriend
gina for a stick
of gum the other
day, and she said
well la de da, i
think i do, just
hold on mister.
i stared at all
the junk in her
giant purse as
she shuffled things
around. keys,
kleenex, a cork
screw, some peanut
butter crackers,
perfume and lipstick,
finally she pulled
out a stick
of spearmint in a
foil wrapper and
handed it to me.
then i saw the gun.
whoa, i said. is
that a gun. yikes,
i'm afraid of
women with guns,
i told her. she
laughed like she
does, like a baby
seal on an ice floe,
throwing her wild
red hair back.
she looked around,
then pulled out
the pink pistol
loaded with bullets
and i cringed.
do you want to hold
it. no thanks, i
said. i felt myself
moving away from
her, and not just
in a metaphorical
sense. what's up
with the pistol,
i asked her. it
was pink and shiny
and she fondled
it in her hand,
caressing the
trigger. she smiled
and said pow, pow.
i need it for
protection, baby.
i'm a manager in
a liquor store on
the weekends, and
sometimes i close
up late at night.
hey, maybe we can go
shooting one night.
wouldn't that be fun,
down by the river,
she said excitedly,
shoot up some bottles
and cans, maybe
kill some rats or
something. i chewed
my gum slowly,
thinking it all
through. there are
rats down by the river?
just who are you,
i asked her. i'm
gina she said,
and smiled.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

computer virus

the other day
i accidentally typed
in the words
'women with long legs
wearing nylons
and stilleto heels'
into my computer
and caught a trojan
virus. i was doing
serious reseach
for my anatomy 101
night class at
the local community
college and have a
paper due this friday.
i probably should have
left out the words
'women, heels and nylons,'
but it's too late now.
i immediately dialed
the 1-800 number
the second the screen
went wild and they have
assured me in very calm
and perfect english that
i am in good hands.
jimmy, the lead technician
and his family in india
and i have been on
the phone for four hours.
they have me on speaker
phone as they walk me
through the steps to rid
my pc of this awful
contamination.
every now and then i'll
hear a small child yell
out in the room, hold
control c button,
or delete temporary files,
or i'll hear the word
reboot, reboot in a high
pitched voice, i
don't think that it's
going well though.
suddenly my computer
started to shake after,
out of frustration,
i smacked it on the side
with my hand, and
the monitor spun
around and around and
actually rose a foot or
two above my desk. jimmy,
on the other end said,
ah oh, and there was a
long pause. what, i said,
what. ah oh, what?
and he said that
i may have contracted
the deadly 'linda blair'
virus. what the hell,
i said, and he said,
exactly. what do i do
now jimmy, what do i do.
and he said, you have
two options, what,
i said what. i grabbed
a pen and a piece
of paper, go ahead.
i'm ready, well, he
said. you can either
call a priest to come
for a computer exorcism,
you'll need holy water and
permission from the pope
in rome, which may take
months, or you can throw
it away and buy a mac.
you have no other options.
i am so sorry my friend.
is there anything else
i can help you with?

french toast

you decide to get
married again. you
don't know exactly
to who just yet. but
at least you've got
that decision under
your belt. okay, you
think. good. i feel
good about this, now
what. what's the plan
to find this woman
you are going to marry.
but you have none at
the moment. you are
clueless as to where
to start. it hasn't
been processed quite
yet, because you just
thought of it when
you woke up alone
this morning with
your dog snoring
in your ear. the plan
will come to you
in finding this woman,
you'll find a way,
you just need a little
time, maybe some
breakfast first. perhaps
french toast with
some canadian maple
syrup. some canadian
bacon, maybe a canadian
woman will be the one.
perhaps toronto will
be your starting point.

seeking something,

a little bit stressed
and lost with your
life, such as it is,
you go outside
with the full
moon, all silver
and fat and round,
plump and poetic
going nowhere for
awhile in a black
plum sky. and you
think it has
answers, that somehow
staring up,
and deep and feeling
some sense of longing,
that you'll suddenly
have an epiphany of
sorts about where
you are, where you
need to be, but no.
nothing comes to
mind, it's just you
and this round
rock reflecting
sunlight.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

vodka and lime

you embellish
the truth, exaggerate
the lie, blow
up a balloon
of myth and wonder
to create a new
you. it's what
you do to survive.
your resume is full
of jobs you never
had, schools you
never went to, things
you'll never do,
but it doesn't mean
that you wouldn't
if you could,
you just couldn't
find the money, or
the time, you were
too busy with bread
and rent, vodka on
the rocks and lime.

i see the light on

you don't come
around much
anymore, do you.
you get your
coffee elsewhere
in the morning,
do your shopping
on the other side
of town.
sometimes when
i walk my dog
we'll go down
your street and
see the light on,
but i don't
knock. he doesn't
even bark for you
anymore. it's
better this way.
silence. i suppose.

a little more

a nice word
or two, will
do, or
the hint of
affection in
a smile. and
sometimes
the slight
touch, or kiss
is all you need
or want to get
you through
the day, but
at night you'd
like a little
more. just
saying.

Monday, March 14, 2011

that breeze

what isn't green
is blue, across
the flat plain of sea,
rising and falling
with a non chalant
moon. the world moves
slow without love.
we need wind to get
it moving. to break
those placid waves.
i'm looking
for that breeze.

drunk texting

broken hearted
and alone after a
night out with your
best friend ramone,
you had one drink
too many and texted
your ex girlfriend
betty, and worse
sent her a picture or
two of a bowl of fruit,
with your phone,
saying that, yeah,
baby, that's me and
you. which didn't
translate well because
you had a bunch of
bad bananas and
grapes in the bowl
and a pear with a
brown dent in the side,
and an orange or two.
she never responded, but
just as well, because
you didn't have a
clue either.

i'm there for you

as you have your nervous
breakdown and your fingers
dig into the edge
of the window sill outside,
sinking your long red nails
into the old soft
wood and your shoes have
found the brick lip to put
some weight onto, i hear a
baby crying in the other room,
not mine, but yours, and
i hear the shrill whistle
of water boiling in an old
tea kettle, and the tv on
as always to dr. phil.
and you want to let go,
but at the same time you
want to climb back in,
you have a book club meeting
tomorrow and you had some
very interesting things
to say about that new larson
book, the girl with the runny
tattoo. and as a crowd gathers
below you wish you hadn't
worn a dress, and perhaps had
on a nicer pair of underwear
and matching shoes, but i try
to cajol you back in with sweet
talk, while i stare at the fine
line of grey that's in your
black parted hair. a little
overdue with the dye job at
the hair cuttery, hon.
oh well. i hold out a bar
of godiva chocolate,
i show you a picture of a diamond
necklace from the sears catalogue.
i tell you that things will
get better, although i don't
believe that either.
i understand your plight.
your decision to hang out
the window trying to
decide which way to go.
the wind blows your hair,
and brushes up against
your skin beneath your
blouse, and you say, ahhh,
that feels good. pigeons
land on the sill to watch
while we wait for
the firemen to arrive
with a hook and ladder truck.
it still could go either
way. i make coffee
for everyone, regardless.

zombie world

i can't stop looking
at my phone,
i can't stop looking
at my phone,
i can't stop looking
at my phone,
no matter if i'm
with my peeps or
all alone. whether
i'm on the street
or walking down
the beach, i can't
stop looking at my
phone. i'm like
a freaking zombie
in a bad movie
with my head bent
down, my thumbs
twitching, my brain
in a strange
strange zone with
all these new apps.
i can't stop looking
at my phone.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

scrabble night

we love board
games, my new girl
friend and i. we like
to order chinese food
and open a bottle
of red wine, it
brings us so close
together sometimes
but last night,
the scrabble game
broke out into a
terrible fight,
she wanted to use
pronouns, and
actual names of
real people, words
i've never heard
of and don't believe
are real words in
the english language,
she stood up and
cursed me as i delivered
the word zag, using
z, my final tile,
on a triple letter
and double word score,
crushing her spirit.
she wanted to use
the dictionary to
look it up and i
said go ahead, loser,
something like that
which made her throw
a cold chinese egg roll,
hitting me in the
face, almost taking
an eye out, and then
the board flipped over,
upside down, the pieces
went flying, i told
her that i had won,
and she says, no way
jose, that it didn't
count because she
suddenly and strangely
found a stray h on
the floor and all
the pieces weren't
used and it's too late
now because the board
was scrambled. and
then i told her
that i hated her,
and she said i hate
you more. you cheater.
and i can't stand how
you snore at night too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

franklin roosevelt

my great great
uncle was franklin
delano roosevelt she
says to me while
lighting a cigarette
and blowing smoke
towards the ceiling
fan in the hot room.
the sheets are pulled
back and there is a
plate of chocloate
candies between us.
shame about those legs,
i tell her, polio,
and poor elanore, with
that lucy mercer lurking
in the background.
yes. she says, and
eats another chocolate
candy, nibbling at
the edges as it melts
on her fingers. a shame
he couldn't walk.
she holds one of her
long pale legs up
into the air, like
a candle, how are mine
she says, my legs?
and i say, just fine
just fine.

wedding dresses

she had three
weddings, none
of which worked
for various reasons,
such as lying,
and cheating and
just a general
feeling of malaise
and boredom, but
she loved getting
married, the frills,
the party of it
all. the tall tiered
cake, the music,
the dancing, and
as she carried
all three dresses,
each once worn,
as clean and sparkling
as hope itself,
wrapped in clear
preserving plastic,
to the consignment
shop, she said,
i would do it
all again and again
just as soon as my
lawyer tells me
that the paperwork
has cleared on
the last one.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

swan dive

near the zoo, uptown,
off connecticut
avenue, there is a
a bridge where many
souls have lost
and found their way
to the other side
of what lies beyond
this life, so many
took their lives
that they put up a
net, a place to catch
them when they leaped,
or fell, letting
the weight of who
they were carry them
to the ground, but no
more. no more. and
you can't help but
wonder if they went
somewhere else, to
another bridge to
leap, and if they
did, had they passed
the word around.

soft summer peach

this ripe soft
peach rests
in your hand,
with one small
bite taken,
a fallen summer
moon, as sweet
as any love, as
warm as any kiss
you've ever had,
but one, just one,
and in trying to
explain, you realize
that she'd never
understand, so
why try. and you
take another
bite and pretend
that it's enough.
isn't that what
we all do from
time to time.

parking ticket

i have no
coins for the meter.
that metal
pole with it's
blinking red face,
expired.
it says dimes
and quarters only
monday through
friday, and saturday
too. and it's
wednesday.
but i'm out of
the correct change
and have
only cup full
of pennies, and
a handful of
jefferson nickels
that are of no
use. but i have
tape, lots of tape,
so i tape
all of this change
to the meter with
a note that says,
take it all,
and i'll be right
back. sorry but
i hope that
this will do.

dog world

i can't sleep
this way. not with
this dog in my
bed. his tail
wagging in dream
against my face
tapping my head.
his snoring,
his dog like smell.
his barking
when a stray dog
passes by, to
look up and wonder
why he's on the
out and not in bed,
like him, my dog.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

timbuktu

you pack light.
you have a ticket
for the seven a.m.
train. you are
going to timbuktu.
you don't know
where that is, or
even if you are
spelling it
correctly, but
you've heard about
it all your life.
you are tired
of the rigamarol,
another word you
don't know how to
spell, you don't even
care where timbuktu
is, or what language
they speak there,
it's where you want
to go. you are going
alone, you haven't
told anyone, not
even your son, or
wife, or girlfriend.
not even your mother
has a clue, but you
are waiting at
the station to go
and see what's new.

warm muffins

over drinks in
a crowded bar,
talking to a woman
you just met, her
name is amelia, or
emily, you aren't
sure, it's so loud
in there, but you tell
her that you have
decided to become
a doctor, hoping
that this will make
her like you more.
you look good
in white, you tell
her. maybe a chef,
or baker,or perhaps
an ice dancer
with sequins.
you could throw
up a ninety pound
girl and catch
her easily as she
twirled in the air.
you flex your arm to
show how strong you
are. you could do
that, but you
can't skate. so
you go back to
the doctor idea.
you could examine
hearts from
the outside
looking in, you are
a very perceptive
person and are quite
familiar with
heartache. you
could ask a a series
of questions that have
no answers. you
could put old
magazines in the
waiting room,
and a water cooler.
then you think
about the baker
idea, you love cakes,
bread. you can
think of nothing finer
than waking up
to a warm muffin
on a cold morning.
you are on to
something now, she
decides you are
ambitious and worthy
and goes home with you,
amelia, or emily, you
still aren't sure,
and you begin your
studies immediately.

as you sink

downward in
this marriage,
you take turns
breathing under water.
feeling the cold,
the pressure as
you sink further
into the debt of
love and air. you
didn't see this end
coming, and still
don't. you are
optimistic by nature,
and still, despite
seeing the darkness
of the bottom, you
find light at the
top, and you know
that to survive
you have to let
go. to unravel
hands and spring
upwards without fear.

the north of you

it is the northern
hemisphere of you
that interests me
most, not those
southern shores
where your pale
beaches, and warm
coasts await my
hands, the sunshine
of my eyes, the
shadows of my
arms. it's else
where that holds me,
keeps me coming
back for more.
that song you sing
without singing,
even the silence
of you, this is
why i travel north.
it's that place
i want, it's there
that i adore.

my new half sister violet

i got a call
the other day
from a woman who
found me on facebook,
she said that her
name was violet,
and that my father
had met her mother
when he was in
the navy,
stationed in
philadelphia
one year. and i
said, that would
make you a half
sister. there was
silence on the other
end. what's your
point, she said. and
i said, well, you
aren't really my
sister, not a full
sister. she sighed,
and said, okay. okay.
this is going
nowhere. i just thought
that we could make
a connection, that's
all. we are family,
and.. and, what
i said. i need to
borrow some money.
oh really, i said.
laughing. you want
me to send you some
money? she said, yes.
how much, i said.
just three hundred
dollars, i'm in a jam.
i am your sister after
all. half sister,
i said. there was
a long moment of silence,
how about one
fifty, and you lose
this number. deal,
she said.

gone fishing

my friend jimmy
loves to fish, he'll
spend hours and
hours at the edge
of a lake or river
standing in the muck
in his converse
chuck taylor
black high tops
with a rod and reel,
a pack of smokes
in his shirt pocket
and a chinese white
box full of blood
worms. he asks
me to go with him
all the time, but
i tell him no, despite
how much fun it looks
i don't want to,
and don't see
the point, ever since
the grocery store
started carrying fish,
and putting it on
ice with the bones
removed and the
heads cut off, well,
i'm sort of done with
the sport of fishing.
and then he tells me
about the fight this
two pound catfish put
up the other day.
he weighs 195 lbs.
some fight, i tell
him. especially with
that hook in his lower
lip. he laughs as
he loads up his cooler
with beer and worms,
and some three pronged
snag hooks just in case
the herring are running.

chicken breast with wine sauce

i watch you walk
away, in your tall
fur lined boots,
snapping through
the parking lot
after our dinner date.
you are on your phone
already, carrying
in the other hand
a styro-foam container
full of your left
over dinner, a
chicken breast with
wine sauce and
some asparagus stalks,
salted and buttered,
and i see you step
into a pot hole,
buckling your knee,
which will never
be the same, and go
down, rolling over
in the street, the
chicken breast
and asparagus,
and phone flying
in the air,
sliding beneath an
oncoming car, it's
highbeams flashing
in your pretty face,
now caught in a frozen
grimace. and i can't
help but wonder if
things would have
been different if
we had liked each
other, and stayed at
the table a little
longer, held hands,
had coffee and dessert.

a bowl of soup

you sit at
the table with
your hot bowl
of soup. spoon
in hand. you've
opened the window,
but it's not quite
spring, not yet,
and a chilled
breeze fills
the air. and
the heat from
the soup rises
into your face,
and you remember
soup like this,
when you were young,
the smell of celery
and onion fills
the room, and
you remember
when you only
had soup to eat.
a stack of white
bread, thinly slicd
with butter in front
of you on a small
plate. things have
changed, things
haven't changed.

under the weather

uncertain of
the weather, you
prepare for
anything, whether
wind, or snow,
or heat, you
pack back a bag
with hats and
gloves and a
bathing suit,
you are ready
for whatever
the day serves
up. you no longer
trust the
weatherman, who
seems to work
without a window,
with his ever
changing forecast,
his fickle
fronts, his rising
and setting sun,
you are supicious
now of everyone.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

we're out of roses

i used to send
flowers, bouquets
of flowers, roses
mostly, crimson
red with a little
note attached saying
something like, i'm so
sorry, or i love you,
please take me
back, i can't live
without you, things
like that. sometimes
i'd ask the girl
at the flower shop
to come up with
something special,
something another
girl would like
to hear. but now
i just send
e mails or texts,
short and simple,
it's much quicker,
more efficient
and leaves me with
alot more cash.

the diagram

no matter what
i say, you don't
understand, do you,
she asks me.
and i nod no, not
really, so
she takes a pen
and a clean sheet
of paper and draws
a circle. she puts
a dot in the middle
and one on the
outside, then says,
the circle is my
life, guess which
dot you are.

good night

it's been a long
hard day,
go to sleep
now. exhale
and relax. it's
over. stretch
your arms
and legs, say
a prayer, give
thanks, find
the cool side
of a pillow
and sink in.
don't let
that dripping
faucet against
the sink
bother you, okay,
okay, get up
and turn the
handle tight,
shut the door
too because you
can hear it all
the ways down
the hall if it
starts up again,
okay, now you are
really ready,
go to sleep.
but wait, help
the dog up, or
otherwise he's
going to be
scratching
the whole night
long to get
on the bed. let
him under, but pull
up the blanket so
his nose can
stick out
and breathe. okay.
okay, now you
are really ready.
but just one
more thing,
throw a shirt onto
the blinking
red numbers of
the digital clock,
where's that
little bottle
of pills.

Monday, March 7, 2011

icecream

she's been trying
so hard to get
the word love out
of me. she'll say
i love you at the
dinner table, or in
bed after making
love and wait, then
roll her pretty brown
eyes, or are they blue,
and sigh, while
i rapidly blink
my eyes. i give her
like, and yes, i
luv you, i will even
throw in the occasional
i most certainly
adore you and of
course i care about
you, why would we
go out if i didn't,
things like that,
but i struggle
with the L word.
it's so so difficult
to say i love you
to someone, even if
you really mean it,
and yet i have no
trouble with saying
it when it comes
to chocolate chip
mint icecream. i
truly do love a
double scoop of that.
i would marry that
cone, in fact.

hannibal the french poodle

you adopt a dog
from the pet store
and take him home.
it warms your heart
to rescue him. you
have bought him
a rubber ball.
he bites you.
he bites everyone
in the back of the
leg when they walk
away. he nips at
your hand when you
try to feed him,
he growls and bares
his sharpened teeth
at everyone, he
chases children,
and old people
down the street.
he has chewed
the wires to your
computer in half.
you call him hannibal
as you drive him
back to the pet
store with the rubber
ball stuffed in
his mouth, and
his wiry body
tied securely to
the roof of your car.
they have a no
return policy, but
you don't care.

said the spider to the fly

don't move an
inch, don't
rattle a bone,
or flinch,
or blink,
or sigh,
or call for
help. don't
struggle to
free yourself
from this web
of mine,
i will
not hurt you,
at least not
much. said
the spider
to the fly as
he opened up
another bottle
of french
red wine.

the bricklayer

he lifts each
brick, his thick
fingers cut raw
but the callous
claw of hand
keeps going, one
after the other
smoothing the mortar
until there is
a wall. then
the scaffold is
moved to the other
side and another
day begins. and in
this way his life
moves on, from
season to season,
taking what he
earns home, to feed
his family, to keep
things going,
each house a testament
of will, a symbol
perhaps not so
much of love, or
joy, but survival.

this wind

if i were to
set sail on a
ship with sails
and needed to
get away fast
in the other
direction i would
choose the month
of march to do
it in. this wind,
what the hell.

the container store

we were walking
down the boulevard
in arlington,
not hand in hand,
because well, we
we weren't quite
a hand in hand kind
of couple just yet,
we were in relationship
limbo, both trying
to decide what we would
be, if anything at all.
we were more a shoulder
to shoulder couple
at this point, with an
occasional bump to let
each other know
we were there, she was
still buying her own
coffee, and splitting
the bill at five guys,
but as i said we were
walking late one
night, almost nine,
and she let out a
shriek that curdled
my blood, and popped
the drum in my left ear.
and i said what, what
is it. and she screamed
a CONTAINER STORE,
i can't believe it,
right here, a CONTAINER
STORE. can we go in,
can we please? why,
i said. it's just boxes,
and clothes hangers,
and stuff like that,
and she said, oh no,
oh my, you have no idea
how wonderful this store
is. come on, please,
let's go in she pleaded.
quickly, it's going
to close. she was jumping
up and down and her face
was flushed with joy,
and so i said, sure,
okay and shrugged, why
not, let's go, and then
she took my hand and
kissed me like she
never had before. things
were about to change
i thought as i pulled out
my american express card.

black fly

without friend,
or anyone
it seems, to join
him on his flight,
with veined webbed
wings in a constant
state of confusion
and buzz, getting
in and getting out,
of spaces narrow,
wide or tight.
going where, it
appears, even he
doesn't know, or
why, or have even
the slightest clue
to the meaning
of his life, and
this despite his
strange all seeing
eyes. he has no
visible virtues
that i can see,
but his persistence
for survival has
a certain charm,
and at least
for now will keep
him alive, as you
open a window and
swat him towards
another place,
another light,
whether wrong or
right, who knows.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

later that night

after slipping back
into her dress,
she says, while
applying another
coat of paint
upon her lips,
and dusting her
cheeks, tapping
gently on
the bottom of
a black bottle
of perfume,
touching a delicate
tear drop
behind each ear,
i'm not your cup
of tea, am i,
not really, she
says, before i
can think to
answer, and
that's fine,
and neither
are you mine,
but yes, we can
have a very good
time together, now
can't we.

more candy

it seems as if
some candy is
unloved, and will
sit and sit
upon the shelf
going hard
and stale. soon
to be tossed out,
while others move
briskly from
the opened box,
from hand to
mouth. those
leave you wanting
more even before
the last piece
has melted.

board games

as you toss
the dice and move
your piece, the little
silver race car, across
the board, ignoring
all the rules of strategy,
and never buying
a single piece
of property, not
st. charles place,
or boardwalk, or
lincoln avenue, not
even lousy baltic st.,
never renting, or
owning, or putting up
a house. you just keep
rolling and rolling,
clicking those dice,
passing go, passing
me never taking
a chance, never
settling down and
i realize that's
just the way you are
with us, exactly, the way
things will always be.

sweetened tea

as the month
bends towards a
fat summer of
heat and swelter,
of hot streets,
of loose tar, and
birds resting,
filling the trees
with quiet wings,
and quiet voices,
i'll wait for you
to come around.
to bring me tea,
with lemons and
ice, sweetened.
and this is how
we'll make it
through the long
hot dry spell.
below the whispering
fan, upon the cool
long sheeted couch.

into the night

as the dog runs
like a wild brush fire
contained on blonde
legs in the lightless
night, but for a slight
uncertain moon, i see
you standing at the door,
long and lean, with
arms folded, your
bright smile
and the warmth
of your house behind
you, waiting, watching
as i drive off into
the night.

the talk

better left unsaid,
to let those words
lie upon the table.
not unlike flowers
without water, soon
to fade and fall,
to lose their color,
and will to go on.
why discuss anything
that is already
known, what point
is there in that
and yet, we do, we
sit, we face one
another, and go at
it. proving the point
once more of why
this will never work.

ready again

you study your wounds
in the light. early
morning is best, with
coffee, you pull your
shirt up if you have
already put one on
and turn towards
a window, where the
sun is coming through,
if there is one, and
you look at where the
incision was made, that
crease of skin, hard
and thin, a small
line, a river without
a start or end. and
you touch it, feel
the thick roll
of healed tissue,
and you place
your hand over it,
to feel the beat of
your life, and yes,
there is one. you take
a sip of coffee,
convinced of something,
and you say, okay,
let's go, i'm ready
once again.

in her wedding dress

i see her in the field,
without shoes, wearing

her wedding dress
that is white and wet

with rain, she is plowing
the earth, struggling

to change the land, to make
it green again, to furrow

the hard, wet soil
and plant seed, but

it's hard, it's impossible
almost to do it alone,

and she is nearly ready
to stop, to lie down,

to let go and let the rain
fill her, to drink

the world dead, to concede.

hang on

you have been here
before, and you will
go there again. you
are no longer
counting days, or
weeks, or even years.
everything is joined
at the hip, the knees,
the spine. the world
is one, as is each
memory gone and yet
to come. this small
room, this house,
this country where
you live is just a
stop along the way,
of waking up, of
sleeping. a port
of quiet in a larger
storm. hang on.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

where's my ring?

a long time ago
in a land far far
away, in the eighth
grade, i went steady
with a girl for
the first time
and gave her a ring.
she went by the name
of mouse, because
she was tiny in stature
and had ears like,
well, exactly like
a mouse, and little
teeth in the front
that were good
for nibbling
carrots and celery
in the cafeteria
while i ate my
peanutbutter sandwich.
but she never gave
me that ring back
after we broke up.
it cost me nearly
two dollars
from G.C. Murphy's.
it was alot less
than most of the rings
i've never gotten
back, but for some
reason, that one
has stuck in my mind.

give till it hurts

you gave at
the office, you
dropped a buck
into the hat
of the guy on
the corner,
with a red nose
and a bottle
of rum tucked
inside his pea coat.
another ten bucks
to the boy
scout troup
who washed your
car, and then
the purple heart
came and took
away a bag of
clothes, and
the church knocked
on your door
to help the
lost souls in
el salvador, and
pbs put a hand
or two into
the trough to
take a few
dollars to keep
the show on,
and the president
needs some dough
to run for
office one more
time, and green
peace has a whale
standed on a
beach that they
need your help
with, and there's
still oil lapping
on the shore
in the gulf,
firemen are walking
the street with
upside down boots
dipping them into
your car window.
there's a cop
on the phone who
needs money
for something or
other, but you
never find out
what because you've
hung up the phone.
sometimes you need
your own tin can.

waking up

when you arise
in the middle of
the night to go
to the bathroom
again, because you
are old and must
dispose of that
one ounce of liquid
that needs to leave
your body, and you
feel the cold floor
on your feet,
and your bones
sway and creak, and
the dog looks up
and shakes his
head at you in
the shadow of the room,
you can't help but
wonder, how much
longer you have.

locked out

after ringing
the doorbell
and knocking i
realized that
my key doesn't
fit anymore.
does it?
you must have
heard me try
late last night
to get in.
first the front
and then the
back door.
didn't you hear
me get the ladder
out and put
it against your
window, but
that was latched
shut too. and
then i tried
the sky light,
the basement
windows, but no.
it's almost like
you are trying to
tell me something.

Friday, March 4, 2011

she's in love again

she's in love again,
you can see it
in her face, that
sparkle, her
eyes aglow, that
smile, her rosy skin,
that spring in her step
as if she's walking
on sunshine, her heart
is renewed, aflutter
with thoughts of me,
the ship that she
thought had forever
sailed has finally
returned home again.
she's in love and
this time it will
last until the end
of time, it will never
fail, but wait,
where's she going,
why is she running
so fast, sprinting
in the other direction,
oh my, i've been
mistaken, it seems
that it's just that
nordstrom is having
another end of season
sale.

jello days

these shoes are
tight. i'll give
them another day,
just one more day,
that's all. i have
a blister on my
heel, one starting
on my big toe.
it's red, it burns.
i think one foot
is larger than
the other. i'm
changing, my body
is going to hell
these days. i itch
all over. where's
my lotion. i
need to buy shorter
pants. i've lost
an inch in my spine
apparently. and
these shirts are
tight around my
belly. when did
i get a belly. has
anyone seen my abs?
who are you anyway,
where is my wife,
my mother, my dog?
enough with the jello.

go see what she wants

go see what she
wants. yell up
the stairs. just
ask her. she might
surprise you
with her answer.
you never know
until you do, now
do you. better
to hear a no now,
then to always
wonder if it could
have been yes. go
see what she wants.

slow dying

it's too long, this
life, sometimes, this
world, when things
don't go the way
you want them to,
or follow according
to what you planned,
when pain and sorrow
hits there are
too many hours in
a day, too many
minutes on the clock.
life is slow dying.
and then again,
when my lips met
yours i wanted time
to stop. i wanted
today to be yesterday
and for what we had
to never end.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the first date

be on time,
be funny,
don't be sick
or coughing,
or too tired,
be in reasonable
shape, be clean,
use soap, brush,
gargle,
don't smoke,
don't bring
a friend, or
your sister,
don't wear
a sweatshirt
or flip flops,
leave your
cat at home,
your dog too,
have something
to say and not
just about the
weather,
and actually have
some money or
a card to give
the impression
that you might
help pay, don't
go powder your
nose when the
check comes,
and bring a
mint, just in
case.

white gulls

in a white
wave
of wings.
the gulls, slender
with yellow
feet take off
into the wind,
almost as one.
falling,
falling, then
rising once again,
almost invisible
against the mid
day sun. so
much like you,
so much like me.

flushed

when the toilet
leaks and breaks
and the bobber no
longer bobs, and
you hear the squeak
and the drip drip
ping of tank water
puddling onto
the floor, you see
the fragility in
us all, how such
a small thing
becomes a big
thing, like that
mole upon your
cheek, or the way
you spit when
pronouncing words
such as
relationships
when you look
away and attempt
to speak.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

word up

why are you
writing so many
words. i can't
follow this.
my eyes are blurry
and my head hurts.
what are you talking
about. keep it
simple. keep it
short. tighten
up and get to
the point. this
so called poetry
of yours is really
starting to stink.
i want the old stuff.
old school. dr.
seuss for example.

writing workshop

she wants me
to read her script,
her new screen play
about love and life
and death. that about
covers it all, i
say. how many pages
is it, and she says
alot. i've been
working on it for
years and years. i
don't know i say,
and yawn, and stretch
and go stand by
the window with
a persian cat in
my arms. i'm bored
with everything you
say, so why will
this be anything
different. but it's
my masterpiece, she
says. please, won't
you read it and tell
me what you think.
i read everything of
yours, everything. i
comment and praise
the brilliance of
your poetry and prose
on a daily basis.
understandable, i say.
okay. just leave it
on the table. i'll
think about it. now
please go. i'm thinking
about something
which doesn't involve
you and you're
distracting me from
my creative process.

sliders

a short poem
for a short
girl, with
a short fuse,
and hair without
curls. here it
is. take a bite
and run. a
slider poem,
like those
little burgers
at harry's
tap room.

michelle

over breakfast, with
scrambled eggs and pork
link sausages, hash
browns and coffee
my friend linda tells
me that she has
a friend mike who wants
to be a girl. he'd like
to go by the name
michelle once the
transformation takes
place. he likes
to wear make up
and dresses and a nice
pair of heels and walk
around town like he's a
woman. she says that
he can pretty much
get away with it,
except for the adam's
apple which bobs
in his long abe lincoln
neck. i tell her it seems
strange, but i don't
care, this is america,
dammit. whatever melts
his or her butter is fine
with me, let him do what
he wants to do. but then
she says that he wants
to have an operation
to sort of rearrange
things down there, below
the equator, so to speak,
do some slicing
and dicing, make him
appear more woman like
and then get some
injections to create
a more bosomy mike,
i mean michelle.
what size, i ask her,
she shrugs, i don't know.
maybe 36 D's, who knows.
but he has a strong back
from being a carpenter,
so he could handle some
big ones. it's all very
complicated, she says.
very complicated.
i shake my head and take
a sip of coffee and move
around nervously in
my seat. could be a bad
idea i tell her, i mean
there's no turning back.
no epoxy is going to fix
that if he changes his
mind. i take a knife to
cut my pork link sausage
that lies helplessly in my
plate, but i can't do it.
it just doesn't seem right.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

your kids are swell

your children bug
me. they aren't mine,
so it's okay. i mean
i'm glad that i met
them, that you
brought them over
to meet me and all.
don't get me wrong,
i love kids, i have
one of my own. he
has a job though and
lives in new york city.
we even talk on
the phone once in
awhile. but it's great
that you have some
too. what are they
six, and eight? i
really do enjoy their
company, they just
seem sticky and loud
and annoying all
the time. no reflection
on you, i'm sure you've
done the best that
you can do. but they keep
backing up the toilets
and spilling things
on my rug, and pulling
the dog's tail. why
does that one have
a knife? and the other
one is writing on
my wall, could you
please put them
into your mini-van
and drive them away
now. thanks. dinner
on saturday, alone?
just me and you? okay.
bring the stain remover.

slam dunk

when i was married
i used to dream alot
about basketball,
at the time i was
playing five days
a week, and weekends
too, which would
make seven days.
if there were eight
days in a week,
i would have been
playing eight days,
but no such luck,
but sometimes, in my
dreams, in a deep
slumber, with my
wife, well ex wife
now, next to me, i'd
grab the top of her
head like it was a
basketball, palming it
in a tight grip, and
before she'd wake
up screaming and
punching at me, i'd
be flying through
the air, going up
for a slam dunk, which
of course i never
could do in real
life, but in my dreams,
i was air jordan,
up up and away.

dip it in the sauce first

she tells me
over drinks, red wine,
and calamari sizzling
fresh out of the deep
fry pan back
in the kitchen,
that she is spiritual
but not religious. and
i tell her that i'm
the opposite.
i like the rituals,
the up and down rythmn
of the old church, when
it was in latin,
the singing, the repetitive
prayers and numbing chants.
the scary incense burning
and the stained glass.
i tell her that i don't
like to think too much
about God though when i'm
out on a date, i try to
keep those thoughts on
the back burner. if God
truly knows everything
i'm thinking about and what
i'm up to, i'm in deep
trouble. she orders
more wine at this point
and pops another fried
ring of squid, a calamari
halo, into her mouth.
like a seal at the zoo.
ouch, hot, she says.
and i tell her yup,
that's why i dip them
in the sauce first.