Saturday, April 30, 2011

no moons

there are no
more moon's to
land on, at least
in our lifetime.
and mars is too
far, too distant
and dangerous,
and what would
we do anyway once
we got there.
is it just to say,
we did. is that
good enough to
spend billions,
risk lives, while
so much of the
world is crumbling
like a cookie
in milk, right
before our eyes.
ah, but it's the
human spirit to
reach out, to explore.
to go where no
man's gone before.
insanity, i say.

chainsaw

i borrowed your
chain saw
the other day,
found it in
the shed.
i had a dead
tree in my yard
that was tilting
towards the wires.
hope you don't
mind. i left
it on your back
porch with
this note telling
you so. it
cut so smoothly,
almost with
no effort at all.
amazing how
it sliced through
what was once so
vibrant and strong.
the trunk, those
branches, the roots.
it reminds me
so much of you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

i want

i want faster
service,
my water, my
bread, my meal,
my drink refreshed.
i want a quicker
train, a
speedier cab
and bus,
i need you to
hurry, for
the fish to bite
the line,
the bell to
ding, the dough
to rise. i
want everything
now, not
yesterday or
in an hour,
i want
tomorrow, before
today is dust.

slightly ajar

you are
a slip of paper
that i won't
chase,
a white thin
strip caught
in the breeze
of a blue
morning sky.
your name, your
voice,
your slender
life, and eyes.
there is enough
on my plate,
enough to keep
me safe,
keep me home,
with heart
in tact, but
i'll leave
the window
open just in case
for no reason
you decide
to blow
yourself in.

Giants

these giants
come slowly, slow
enough to hear
their foot steps
thunder in
the ground. you
see their shadows
before you see
their legs like
timber rising
in the midday sun.
you've know
your entire life
that they were
coming, and now
they are here,
but strangely
they want nothing
from you. you are
already crushed
and weakened
by your own fear,
instead they want
the ones who
don't, those that
aren't afraid.

house going down

thin as
reeds, bone
thin, like
a blade of
grass, a
shard of
glass. a
sliver of
sun behind
an eclipsing
moon. a
last thin
breath of
air, a
shallow
gasp. life
hinges
on thin
lines, trail,
or trains,
such tracks.
a simple
twist of thread,
or nail
head pounded
down,
the slightest
blink,
the tell tale
hair,
neither
blonde or black
left behind
on a white
clean sink.
a small
lie, a thin
disguise.
the smallest
of cracks.
this house is
going down.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

letting things unfold

there are
no more clothes
hangers for
which to hang
these new shirts.
things are getting
tight. each
closet is filled
to the brim
with new shoes,
new pants,
old familiar
things that still
fit just right.
what stays, what
goes. these
are decisions
i've never been
able to make.
i just let them
unfold. i
don't know.

the line

a line forms
and i see you
standing in it.
it wraps
around the block.
you nod at me
as i stop to ask
you why. what's
up. what are you
waiting in line
for, and you say,
i'm not sure.
but it's moving
fast. you'd
better hurry
and get in
or you're going
to miss out.

bee sting and scotch and soda

her hand is swollen
and red, a small
lobster curled
and about to be
dropped into a
boiling pot of water.
is the stinger out,
i ask her,
and she winces,
i think so, but it
still hurts. i ask
the bartender for
ice as she takes out
a tube of insect
bite goo from her
purse. she lathers
some on while eating
calamari, dipping
the little fried rings
into red sauce and
sipping on her
scotch and soda.
i hate bees she
says, if i pass out,
there's a phone number
on my wrist band,
my daughter will come
to get me. oh,
and do me a favor,
please don't write
about this, okay?
okay, i tell her.
i promise.

to lie down

the man with
the tilted grey
cap, in the woods
along the path,
bent with a stick
in his hand,
moving slowly.
there is no rush.
the rush is
over. he stops
and picks up
a stone, a branch,
a leaf, then
sets it all back
down again, as
if fragile eggs,
things that still
have a life
despite having aged
and weathered,
and now
left alone.
he seems to be
looking for a
place to lie
down too.

sweat

it's a long
night, even with
the windows
open wide
there's no
wind, only
the slight breath
of an overhead
fan swirling
down, but even
that's not enough
to dry and cool
the sweat
from a bad dream.
it's a long night,
here without you.

crossing

this dog
follows you home,
he keeps about ten
feet behind you
though, wagging
his tail and
panting with
that dog like
smile on his
face. he looks
alot like your
old dog, the one
with short legs
and a smooth
red coat.
you can hear
the tags on his
collar jingle
as he keeps pace.
there is a rock,
a bird, or
a bone in his
mouth as usual,
something that
you'll get never
pry loose unless
he wants you
to have it. you
turn around and
look at him
again and see
your son, holding
him on a leash.
he's ten or eleven,
and this makes
you smile, you
turn once more to
say something to
the both of them
as you cross the
street, be careful
you say, but when
you look back
they are gone.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

house for sale

this house
for sale, with
the old
furniture
in the yard,
the boxed albums
and books,
and photos
awaiting another
closet to
rest in, freshly
painted
with safe soft
colors, the
doors and windows
pried open,
the floors buffed
out and sealed,
this house, so
warm and you,
now waits for
someone new, someone
young and starting
out, that room
where your daughter
grew, quiet
and empty now.
this house for sale.
you can't measure
the words,
the life,
the beginnings
and endings that
happened here.

championship bout

why do i feel
like i went twelve
rounds with a
heavyweight boxer
when you leave
here. my ribs are
sore, my mouth
bruised, there
are burns on my knees,
my elbows. i'm
dizzy and light
headed, but aren't
they the same.
see what i mean.
i can't think
straight, i'm limp
with fatique,
i don't know
if i can ever go
another round with
the likes of you.
i don't have another
drop of fluid,
or blood with
which to bleed.

surrender

i saw you
in the sky,
caught up
in that wild
funnel of wind.
that tornado
that took down
the power lines,
and sent
rooftops flying.
you were on
your broom,
laughing as
i held on to
my little dog
and tried to get
down into
the cellar.
your skin was
green, and you
were writing
something like
surrender stephen
in the sky. i
can't say that
i miss you at
all. good luck
with the landing.

the wrong kiss

your kiss
on my cheek
means everything.
it's not
the kiss i want.
the way
your hands
hold my shoulders
back, your
stance keeping
my hips at
bay. your kiss
is terrible
and telling, but
i'd rather know
now, then later
when my
heart is all
yours and it's
way too late.

thunder

how strong
the thunder is
in the black
clouds. the silver
thread of
lighting letting
you know
who's in charge,
not you, by
any stretch, despite
all the things
you do, to make
yourself believe
that so. how fast
the rain comes
down and fills
the lake, floods
the ravine,
how quickly life
rises or subsides
when all of it
spins slowly
down a drain. how
strong the thunder
is in the black
clouds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the waiter trips

and you hear
the first dish
drop and break
and then the next
one and a glass
or two, once full,
shattering
on the sidewalk
at the crowded cafe
and then more,
a cascade of
silverware rattling
down, a plate
of food, the tray.
all in slow motion
as everything
explodes, and
everyone turns
and sighs, and
feels horrible for
the waiter, and
you have forgotten
completely what
you were going
to say. and she
is glad for that.

madmen

at what point
do you stop,
and turn,
and become
a madman
talking in riddles
on the street,
or finding
yourself fast
asleep curled
in the woods,
or on the corner
with a sign
and a cup, or
staring madly
into the sun.
who has to die,
what needs
to happen
what has
to be said,
or not said,
or done
to put you where
the others
have gone and
can't come back.

Monday, April 25, 2011

the farm

your father
in the field, his
white hair
aglow with the two
oclock sun.
you see his arms
go up, go down,
doing what he
has to do to
keep this farm.
you see him
every day, at his
work, back and forth
in the plowed lanes,
planting, watering,
harvesting
not dreams, for
who would dream
such a life as this.
he would.
this world is
enough for him.
the heat, the struggle.
to be so tired that
the rest of what
lies out there,
doesn't matter. and
when your son
chooses another way,
you can't blame him.

let's not keep score

this puzzle
of you, so many
pieces scattered.
the tiles tipped
over, some blank,
some impossible
to ever use with
the board so
full, the night
so long. your
short words are
nice and tender,
and your long
answers are
full of vowels
that wander
searching for
a higher score,
some meaningful
way to say the things
you feel. this
game, i admit,
is hard. let's
start over again
but this time,
not keep score.

renunion

the e mails for
the reunions are
endless. highschool.
every year, twice
a year, every week
a notice in the mail,
come, dance, drink,
we'll reminisce
about those golden
days from forty
years ago. it's usually
two or three friendly,
happy souls who had
their glory days way
back when and want
to keep it going. but
it always gets around
to who's dead. who's
sick or on their
last legs, what
fellow classmates
have checked out,
taking their last
lap around the ball
field, heard their
last late bell
between classes. and
teachers, can there
be any left. mrs. moak
my french teacher was
was a hundred back
then. as usual it will
be at the knights of
columbus hall. there will
be chicken and green
beans, mashed potatoes.
and small round women
in hairnets and white
smocks ladling it onto
your plate which is
on your tray. and there
will be stewed tomatoes
in dixie cups and milk
cartons you push
your straw through.
pink sno-ball cupcakes
for dessert. i can't
wait. well. i can
actually, maybe i'll
make the fifty year
reunion. but i doubt it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

implants

she's pondering
larger breasts.
my friend, amelia.
when she sees
the blonde
across the bar in
a bright red
dress, she decides
that she wants
cleavage, something
along those lines,
a little more curve
of skin for her
clothes to bend
and turn in a way,
which make men's heads
do likewise. like
they do for the cupcake
across the room, but
she isn't sure why
she feels this need,
and she worries
about the sensitivity
of certain portions
that are quite alive,
at least for now,
and she asks out loud,
do you cut, will it hurt,
do you inject, are
the bags slid in below,
or to the side,
under the muscle.
will they leak.
and by the second
glass of wine, she
laughs and gives
in, and says, no way.
i'm sorry, but if we
ever get that far,
this is all you get
and proceeds to stick
out her chin.

she's hungry

she pulls a rotisserie
chicken apart like nobody's
business. it doesn't
stand a chance. she's
that hungry. legs
go first, then
the wings, then a
sharp carving
knife slides deep
into the tender white
meat. skin and all,
goes into her mouth.
she pulls the stuffing
out with her fingers,
there's no stopping her.
she licks the juices off
her lips and hands,
wild eyed, wild hair,
then takes a swig
of wine from the bottle.
finally she stops, satisfied,
and looks at me across
the table, and winks.
ah oh.

sixty years gone down

she puts his bow
tie on the table,
the red one, and
then beside it
the blue and green
one. plaid. those
being his favorites.
she places them
where he sat and
ate his breakfast,
next to the empty
white bowl,
before he put
his stetson hat on,
and took the train
into town. the hat
was on the hook
by the mirror,
by the umbrella,
by the door in
the foyer. sixty
years, sixty years.
gone down.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

sign posted

lost cat,
six pounds, black
and white,
a jingle collar
around his
fluffy throat,
a shortened
tail, a scar
on his forehead,
he limps,
and has a very
loud, deep
meow. his name
is pudding, but
he answers to
no one. so
don't bother
yelling out for
him if you see
him in your neighbor
hood. in fact
if you spot him,
get inside quickly.
no reward will
be given upon
his capture.

the passing train

you don't travel well.
you get bored
with looking out
the window. it's
interesting at first.
but after the second
or third town,
with dogs, and people
sitting on their
porches, eating orange
marshmallow peanuts
from wallmart, waving
mindlessly at the train,
with their children
holding dolls, or toy
guns, pointing them.
well it disturbs you,
there is a strange
sadness that you get
when they wave. you want
off, you want it to
move faster, to
burn it's wheels
against these singing
tracks. you want
to get to where you
need to be. and it's
a thought you are
not unfamiliar with.
you make promises to
yourself to never wave
at a passing train. you
close your eyes and
listen for the next stop.

the apple

you cut gently
into the red apple
still wet from
the sink,
the sharp knife
holding the overhead
kitchen light,
and a part of you,
moving. you push
into the bright
slice and cut it
into quarters,
taking out the stem,
the seeds. you
take it out on a
plate to
the back porch,
to where the sun has
risen and warmed
the step where you
will sit. your day
is another apple,
unbitten,
you begin to eat.

flood water

what the flood
doesn't take
away, is left
behind. everything
you don't want.
at least not now.
you've watched
what you valued
float on the low
sea of a broken
dam, the broken
levee, the strong
arm of a surging
storm. your life
is in tact though,
as you sit on
the roof and ponder
your next move.
your first, your
last.

Friday, April 22, 2011

above the earth

you pour
me a cup of you
beneath
the moonlight.
silk is not as
soft as your
shoulder, or
the light coming
in as white,
like milk
as your skin.
you fold yourself
into me,
and the pink
glow of desire
rises, lights
a soft fire.
we are above the
earth, at least
for now.

ham on rye

i dream of
a fat ham
sandwich,
pink and sliced
an inch thick
on rye bread
with the smooth
yellow smile
of mustard.
i dream of milk.
cold and white
in a clear cylinder
of glass,
of a long
green pickle,
like a wand of
seeds and juice,
set beside it.
i see you too,
wanting a bite.
wanting more than
your share,
opening your wide
grin, your
teeth closing
down. wanting more
than half of my
ham on rye, but
fortunately,
by law, in
the state of
virginia, it's
all i have to
give you.

save a whale

i fill
up my glass
with water.
i drink it
down. tomorrow
i'll use it
again. the exact
same glass.
and the same
with my knives
and forks.
i'm recycling.
happy?
now leave me
alone. go save
a whale.

the bluebird of happiness

open wide
sad fellow.
and take
what's in my
hand. let
it flutter
down, enter
the dark
sad place
you've found.
open wide
and let it
fly inside.
this blue
bird of
happiness
that wants
to leave
my hand. it's
that easy
if you
believe.

sick of love

i'm sick
of love.
feel the fever
burn. i don't
need it. i
don't want it.
it's sour, it's
bitter. i'm
coughing up
roses, spitting
out flowers,
it's a cold wet
night without
shoes. i'm
sick of love
and where
it leads, what
it promises,
how it deceives,
i'm on my back,
i'm sore,
i'm broken, i'm
in the infirmary.
and yes.
i'll try
again, being
the fool i am,
but not
with you, no,
never again,
with you.

easter

you are out of
words, out of breath
trying to explain
yourself, bringing
the Christ in you
out of hiding. it's
hard to sin with
a cross upon your
chest, while on
your knees with ashes
smudged black upon
your forehead.
and your faith is as
thick as thieves.
as wound tight around
you as a boa about
to strike. you
hold fire to your
chest and expect
to be saved, and
saved again. and
yes. forgiveness
is seven times
seventy, and for
all of this repitition
of failure and
remorse, repentance
and forgiveness.
your heart sinks
daily but in
the ressurection
you find grace,
and you are relieved
without merit.
undeserved, you
are free.

the high dive

your slow dive
into the silver
bed of water
and desire brings
you out of breath
to the other side.
still wanting more,
the cool wetness
of the swim is
not enough to
quench the places
that you want to go,
the places you have
been. there is more
diving to be done.

turning around

you turn around
and go back, because
you fear that
you've left the iron
on, or the door
unlocked, or the cat
out. maybe the stove
is lit too, or
the window left open,
what if it rained,
and did you put
the phone back in
it's place, did
you leave a light on,
a light off, is
the computer still
humming, and what's
that drip, did
you turn the water
off in case it
freezes over night,
did you leave
the milk out? and
you, i'm turning
around because of you
too, there are things
that i wanted to
say before i got
too far down the
road, too far gone
and away. the other
thing don't matter,
not really.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

the daily news

it's a small
hole that sinks
a ship, or a
pulled thread
that unravels
the whole coat,
a bug, a microbe,
a bite, an olive
stuck in your
throat, so tight,
that keeps the air
out, the air in,
that takes
your life.
it's the little
things you
need to fear
and worry about,
not what goes
bump in the night,
although watch
out for that too.
don't leave
the house would be
my advice.

addictions

she wanted me
to go to a meeting
with her.
AA. she had gotten
a whiff of my
mai tai as we sat
and ate crispy beef
and egg rolls and
was feeling tempted.
she needed a meeting
to get her out of
this mood. can
you go with me,
she asked and i said,
huh. why me. i don't
have a drinking
problem. i finished
my drink and nodded
to the waitress
for one more.
i need to go, she
said. you should come too.
they have great desserts.
chocolate cake. i
looked up at her
and shook my head, no.
i'd eat the whole
cake, i told her.
that's my weakness,
desserts. i'm sorry.
but i'll be lying in a
gutter with crumbs
all over my chest,
my belt unloosened,
and icing on my face
if i go to that
meeting. i can't
do it, my hand was
trembling just thinking
about it, and so i
moved the little umbrella
out of the way
and took a sip of
my drink.

not even a house plant

get another dog,
is your answer
to everything these
days. and it' easy
for you to say,
being the cat rancher
that you are. what's
one more cat?
and yet i just can't
do it, at least
not yet. i'm too
selfish with my
time, i don't need
the guilt the worry,
the vet bills. i don't
even have a house
plant at the moment,
and this lack of
life other than me
at least for
the moment, suits
me just fine.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Go Get Your Own

in 1958 i climbed
a steep ridge
up the side
of the himalayas
with a sherpa
and a goat
to meet the dalai
lama, before he
left tibet for good,
and he said
to me when i arrived,
that here is no
such thing
as true happiness,
or being content
and full,
and satisfied
with life exactly
the way it is.
you could
always, given
the chance, make
things a little
better. make
things a little
more right, a softer
bed, a brighter
light, and then again
he said, smiling,
there is always
icecream to take
your mind off
of everything.
his bowl was full
of chocolate chip
mint. there were
melted drops of
green in his beard.
he offered me none,
go get your own,
he said. and i
realized that
his selfishness was
teaching me a lesson,
one that i absorbed,
and have passed on
to others ever since.

the disagreement

when there is
nothing left to
say, or do, and
the long day is
about to extinguish,
and sleep is a
warm bed waiting
in the other room,
you try one more
time to make your
point, to settle
this dispute, but
it's hopeless, so
you untie her and
let her go her way.

apartment 211

park anywhere
you want. there are
no meters, no
pay lots. not a
single garage
with a gate is
waving you in.
park free. but just
for today. just
for tonight, and
from then on,
once you get a taste
of why you came,
you will begin
to pay and pay, and
life will never be
the same.

the white rug

as you wipe
the rug again
of red wine,
scrubbing on
your knees the
debris of cheese
and crackers,
cold shrimp.
you wonder why you
even have a table,
just set it all
on the floor
and start there.
begin at the end.
save the time
scrubbing for more
important things.

when dogs run free

when i get home and
find the dog, without
his leash running
free, it makes me
wonder. and
when you don't turn
off the light,
when you leave
a room, or lock
the door, or don't
unplug the tub
now full of cold
grey water, when you
leave the butter
out, or the dishes
in the sink, the
wash left soggy,
not in the dryer,
are you trying
to tell me something.
that you can't finish
what you start.

these bees are dead to me

these bees do not
have secret lives,
nor is it sweet
to hear them buzz
about her house,
drilling into the
bare wood of
soffits and sheds,
the lumber unprimed,
at work in
the soft april
sun. she wants
them gone. she
wants them dead. and
as she holds out
her puffed arm,
welted pink and red
from stings, she
aims a can of
insecticide with
an evil grin,
she is tony soprano
holding a gun, and
shaking his head.

the golden egg

golden eggs,
nestled in the crook
of a smooth
barked tree,
hidden in the thick
bustle of green
grass still cold
from winter. or
in the thick wires
of bushes not
quite full, they
hardly keep the edge
of the eggs
from being seen
by frantic children,
who, wild
eyed, are on
a hunt that will
not end soon.

some marriages

they say
that when
the soldiers
opened up
the camps, to
liberate the
prisoners,
they wouldn't
leave. even
after starvation
and torture,
death and
disease, they
did not want
to step outside
the place where
they were still
alive and
breathing. for
what lie on
the outside they
had no clue,
it was a mystery
beyond the barbed
wire. it could
be worse. why take
that chance?
better to stay put
and be safe
and miserable,
and alive.

a change in dinner plans

when i saw
you standing
on the side
of road, with
your small
pink suitcase,
hitchhiking,
your thumb
out and holding
a sign
that read,
anywhere,
well, i knew
then that i
should pick up
dinner for only
one this evening.

Monday, April 18, 2011

the empty lawn

children
quickly forget
the thrown ball
from lawn to lawn,
across the miles
of years, between
the rising and
setting of a
thousand suns,
and all the walks
and strolls
through deep
woods, into oceans
cold, held up
safe as each wave
took a turn
to knock us down.
and they soon
leave, as they must,
to the side
of their own lives,
as you've done
the best you can,
and let go, and
pray, alone on that
same empty lawn,
that none of it,
that love, those
lessons learned,
or unlearned,
were in vain.

protest

during breakfast
at the rest home
cafeteria,
while banging
our walkers against
the linoleum
floor, in protest
to soggy scrambled
eggs and lumpy
oatmeal, it
occurred to me that
it was only
yesterday, or at
least so it
seemed, when we
were marching in
the streets,
clapping and
chanting, in unison,
like now,
against a war. and
yes, i know it's
not the same, but
still, i'm just
saying.

nounless

i'm running out
of nouns, she tells me
in her e-mail, i'm
shaking my canteen
once full of words
and coming up dry.
i used to swim in
the ocean of language,
but now my lips
are parched
and sore with
the sharp points
of letters that won't
form. my mouth refuses
to cooperate with what
i want to say. i'm
buying a thesauras
once i get out of this
conversational desert.
i can't live like
this, in silence, until
the end of my days.

it's not right

does the moon
forget to move
about it's orbit,
or the earth
to spin
upon it's axis,
does the sun
wake up late
and not rise, or
make it's way
in a long wide
swing across
the sky, never,
so how could you
forget to kiss
me before you
leave the house,
this room.

cell phone in the toilet

when she dropped
her cell phone into
the toilet and
brought it back to
the table to take
it apart and dry
it with the candle
burning next to
the salt and pepper
shaker, and sugar
bowl of splenda
and sweet and low.
i decided that this
would be our last
date. the tattoos
and safety pin in
her eyebrow had
nothing to do with
it. nothing at all.

it's easy to wait

it's easy to wait.
just sit by
the window, pull up
a chair. let the sun
inch upwards and
take away the dark.
it's easy to wait
and do nothing.
easier than trying
hard to make things
right, or change
what isn't good
into what you think
it should be.
wait long enough
and everything will
change. just give
it time.

surf's up

during my pioneer
days, while traveling
across the country
in covered wagons,
peacefully i might add,
i couldn't believe
the hostility and
animosity of the indians
as they shot arrows
at us, threw flaming
spears and tommy hawks
as we tried to get
the horses to giddyup
a little faster. we
weren't looking for
trouble, or anything,
we just wanted to get
to california and start
surfing. it was very
upsetting and i've lost
alot of sleep just
thinking about those
days and nights across
the wide plains.

she could dance

this hot pepper
that i've bitten
into reminds me
of anger. jealousy,
bitterness. water
does little to
lesson the heat,
or douse the subtle
strange pain that
hops about in
my welcoming
mouth. as much as
i want to bite into
it, it's that much
more that i want to
spit it out, but oh,
how she could dance
the night away.

what matters

you find that your world
can be contained in a box
or two. a bed, a book,
a borrowed light, or
pillow, having left
yours behind with so much
else that doesn't matter.
and when you awaken in
the middle of the night
and you wonder where you are,
this thought sinks in,
like a lead weight
at the end of a line,
cast out into some dark
lake, this quick life,
what was before is over,
and it's impossible to guess
if this crazy move
without you, will make
things right.

what's unsaid

between the lines
are other words.
the ones not
said, not seen.
those are dreams,
or sighs,
or cups of wind
caught between
the trees as seasons
change and the moon
pulls at the ocean,
making it rise,
making it subside.
it's that whisper
of water, that lingering
hand on hand, or
eye meeting eye.
those are the words
unsaid, those
are the ones that
truly rhyme.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

blueberries

your fingers
are full of blue
berries. you've
picked your fill
today. but only enough
for one this time.
your back hurts
from bending over
and you are tired
in the sun.
and you take them
home, wash them
under the cold
water of your
kitchen sink, you
separate the fat
and plump ones
from the bad,
then you pour
them into a white
bowl, with milk,
with a spoon of sugar
sprinkled about.
and you eat and taste
the goodness,
the sweetness of
your day, but with
your fingers, your
heart, just barely,
but still blue.

parallel parking

once at the very
end of our marriage,
hanging on by
the slenderest of
threads, when she
was parallel
parking in a
rainstorm and during
the first fifteen
minutes, with
traffic backing
up and honking
behind us. i
asked her if
she wanted me
to take the wheel
and give it a
shot, and she
said, no freaking
way as she
began to cry, her
makeup running
down her face.
i can do this
she said, and tried
and tried and
tried, until
we ran out of
gas and had to
push it in.

tornado

what does anyone
know about
the weather,
nothing too much.
how that tornado
rises and spins
and sits down
upon wherever it
pleases. it can't
be stopped. and
all the measurements
of space and time,
of pressure, or
or speed of wind,
can only give
the smallest
of clues as to what
is up, or coming
down, or about
to shred the world
around you. if this
doesn't bring you
to your knees,
what will?

the pearl white button

your eye
catches the gleam
of her pearl
white button
left, fallen off
from it's
slender twist
of thread, once
tightly wound.
it sits now
in the sun upon
your rug,
like an ancient
coin with a tale
to tell
behind it's
slippery soft
descent, unbound.

the end of the world

you listen to
the radio preacher
in somber tones
predicting once
again the end of
the world as we
know it. and you
sing the lyrics
to the song, trying
to remember who's
song it was.
nick lowe's perhaps,
they must be giants?
you're not sure,
but you like
the song, it's
very singable with
a catchy tune
that sticks with
you like oatmeal
throughout the day.
but this preacher
who has been on the
airwaves for decades
promises the end is
near. may twenty-first
of this year. his
calculations are
based on biblical
prophesy, mathematical
deductions and
large doses of grim hope
and fear, and you wonder
if it's true, if the
rapture is about to take
place, making all
the living believers
rise into the sky
like ashes in the wind,
and if it is the end of
the world, maybe you
should give that
girl a call you've
been meaning to meet
and have that date. she
sounded so nice on
the phone. time may
be short. and now you
remember, it was R.E.M. .

Friday, April 15, 2011

soft butter

for whatever
reason, hard butter
disappoints you.
pushing the knife
or fork into
the cold solid square
of yellow to slide
it onto a piece
of bread is difficult.
it won't cut, or
spread, it won't melt,
it drops to the side
and says no, not yet.
it won't do the things
you want it to do,
and you can't help
but think that your
impatience with
this butter reflects
a deeper and more
serious issue
about who you are,
what may lie deep
within your soft
butter seeking soul.

guilt

catholic guilt
is not unlike having
little sharp pebbles
in your shoes making
you slightly
uncomfortable as
you stroll around
getting in and out
of trouble with
what you say or
think or do. and at
times you'd like to
stop and shake
them out, but you'd
feel guilty about
that too, now
wouldn't you?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

bus ride

move over,
just an inch
or two, i know
it's bouncy and
all, and when the
driver takes a sharp
turn you can't help
but lean into me, i
mean it's okay if
you do, i understand
how hard it is
to hold on when you
have that bag of chips
in your hand and a tuna
sandwich that you
brought from home,
but just an inch,
that's all the room
the room i need
to get comfortable.
it's going to be a
long trip getting to
the city, and truthfully
i'm not used to
being around people,
having them share
my space, enter
my zone, my circle
of privacy. so
just slide over
a tad, and we'll
get along fine,
try not to touch
me either when you
point out the window
and want me to
look at a cow standing
in a field, okay?
so, if it's okay with
you, no talking
and no, i don't want
a stick of gum. you
can't borrow my phone,
and no, we can't
be facebook friends
either.

the sunshine grill

it's a little place
where three roads
converge, out in
nowhere, the boonies,
the sticks, farmland.
even the clouds seem
lonely out here. but
there sits the sunshine
grill made of white
cinder blocks, a tin
roof with an heirloom
rooster on top,
sparsely painted,
the word ESSO in red
on one wall, still
there beneath the peel
and fading wash.
dead gas pumps
stand like ghostly
sentinels, without hoses
out front and in
the only window
sits a fat tabby
cat, licking her paws,
beside a pyramid
of oil cans.
but go inside, and
that's where you'll
find lee and marge
at the grill, below
the yellowed ceiling,
frying up the largest
burgers this side of
washington, dc.
no fries, no fountain
drink, just eggs
and bacon, pancakes,
sandwiches. and if you
need a fly swatter,
or a paint brush,
a loaf of bread, or
a can of beans, tobacoo,
or even earth worms,
it's on the shelf,
or in the icebox.
and they work, unsmiling,
but somewhat happy
and content. keeping
with the times in their
thin surgical gloves.
and if you ask politely
how long have you
been in business they
look at one another,
and shrug, i don't know
marge says, sixty years,
maybe, and lee nods as
he slides your burger
onto an oversized bun,
and says, ketchup?

oil

your country needs
you, wants you, begs
you to go fight a war.
it won't take long.
for the other side
is weak and tired,
and they don't believe
in God, our God,
their arms are old,
their mouths are full
of dust and futile
shouts. they don't
like us anyway, and
nothing will change
their minds, not
even disney, or coke,
come fight this war,
come carry our flag
and plant it
in the ground. come
quick, my escalade
needs gas, needs oil,
i need to drive around.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

the other side

he's dying, she
says. my father
is dying, he's
old and sick
and doen't know
where he is.
it's time to let
him go. go where,
i ask. let him
go where. and she
says to the other
side, to where he's
no longer alone, a
place that's not
like here.

found money

how nice it
is to find that
crumpled bill
inside the dryer,
between the toss
of warm clothes,
a five or ten,
it doesn't matter,
but freshly green,
or in a pocket
of a pair of pants
that are rarely
worn, or deep
inside a coat,
that some winter
long ago had
kept you warm,
and then the note.
the number that you
wrote when we
first met, how
strange to find
that too, but
so unlike those
new found bills,
it's spent and no
longer of any use.

the little white ball

my friend loves to
play golf.
and even more than
playing, he loves
to talk about golf,
or watch it on tv.
he loves to yell
out 'in the hole,
tiger', which i make
absolutely no
comment about, but he'll
ramble on and on
for hours about
the greens,
the fees, the wedges,
the front nine,
the back nine, how
his swing is off
and the ball keeps
landing off
the fairway, into
the rough, a bunker,
or worse into a sand
trap. his eyes are
happy and bright while
he talks about his
day, his score,
his handicap,
while mine glaze over.
and his sunburned face
except for the stripe
where his
sunglasses were
is all smiles
as he stands up to
demonstrate his new
swing, his stance
for putting, how he
keeps his elbow straight
and tight,and how
he bends his knees
just so, just right.
he tells me that
i need to take up
this noble game,
i must begin my golfing
life. it's going to
be a long long night.

the closet

i can't get
another coat into
the hall closet,
not another pair
of winter boots
or shovel, or
umbrella. not one
more can of paint
will fit onto
the floor, or pair
of gloves and hat
on the top shelf.
a tangled string
of christmas lights
is stuffed into
a corner.
it's full now.
i'm almost afraid
to open it, everything
might come tumbling
out, including you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

feng shui

it's all about
the placement
of things, an
order, a feeling
of goodness
about where
things are. the feng
shui of life.
moving this
an inch to the
left, a foot to
the right.
a curtain pulled
shut, a drawer
closed tight. you'll
know it when
you get there.
when she arrives
and sits in a
certain way,
in a certain chair.

smaller and smaller

this life,
towards an
end, concentric
circles
of what you
have and friends
growing smaller
with time.
no room left
for the big sofa,
the mirror
over the mantle
that once held
your image,
so young and
new. a single
bed is fine now.
as is a simple
room, a window
with a view.
heat and air,
and food. it's
winding down
now, isn't it.

portents

with that run
in your stocking,
the broken
heel, your purse
left on the kitchen
counter, and when
it begins to rain,
to hail. and
you've locked
yourself out and
can't get back in,
with the keys
left in the door.
and you've dropped
your phone into
a puddle when a
black cat slipped
in front of you.
you wonder
if this is just
the beginning
of your monday,
or a prelude
of what's to come.
but you don't take
any chances,
you call in sick,
go home, climb back
into bed where
it's safe and warm.

small window

she says,
don't bother me
so early, don't
even try to call,
i won't pick up.
i'm not a morning
person. i'm not even
a lunch person. in
fact i don't really
come around until
eight o'clock that
night, after dinner
and a glass of wine
or two, and i've
walked the dog,
try me then. i'm
really at my most
fun at that time.
i've got about an
hour window of
perkiness so
dial me up.

almost untrue

so often you hear
the words, we never
loved each other anyway,
not really, at the end
of a marriage.
it was convenience,
we got along just fine.
we liked the same music.
we felt we were getting
old. we wanted kids,
a home, so we got married.
we put the blinders
on, we went through
the motions, sex
was sexless. joy
was smiling for
a camera, posed.
and the years went
by. and the glue
was schools and kids,
and dogs, and
yards and work, and
barbeques and booze,
a casual affair or
two, and dreams,
and dreams that
would never come. it
seems like another
world, like it really
wasn't me, so far away,
almost untrue.

Monday, April 11, 2011

dress in the window

if she sees
a wedding dress
in a window
across the boulevard
she'll stop
and sigh and
fold her arms
across her
chest and say
oh my, just look
at that, what
a beautiful
beautiful dress,
but you pretend
that you don't
hear her,
you have
crossed that
street before.

it's strange

to watch
how the young
hurry when
they have
so much time
ahead of them,
and to see
the old
go slow,
with so few
minutes left
on the clock.

ink well

the ink
of you has
run from my lips,
spilled upon
the floor,
your footprints
are everywhere,
my hands
are covered in
it. my skin
stained, blotched
wet with
the blue of you.
i've dipped
my pen deep
into that dark
well, but
it's tapped dry,
and these words
and desire to
write more
are fading
right before
my tired eyes.

stir and pour

drink deeply this
one go around.
this cup is short.
and life is very
much unsweetened
at times.
bring or make your own
sugar along the way
don't wait for others
to make it right.
avoid the lemons,
the bright gleam of
unripe lime. stir
and pour liberally.

i wonder

when you stub
your toe
at night, why
am i to blame,
when your car
is towed, it's
really not
my fault. and
when your heart
gets broken,
you're imagining
things that
never were.
your world
is not a
bouquet of roses,
it's a crown
of thorns, but
don't blame
me i'm only
passing through.

on your knees

how hard you push
that broom, get onto
your pink knees round
with bucket and brush
and scrub towards
cleandom. how much
dust is there, where
is it coming from?
and between the blinds,
the soot, the curtains
heavy with air
the years have given up.
you want to get to
the bone of everything,
that clean, but it's
so hard to do. it's
about something else,
isn't it?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

x-ray

i'm worried
about why they
leave the room
and put a leaden
sheet over you
when taking x rays
of your teeth.
you feel so
exposed, so
radiant in this
strange click
then quiet glow.
and they are all
smiles when they
return, and why
wouldn't they be,
they were hiding
in the other room.

the rebound

she comes at night
in a yellow taxi that
waits for her,
with tears in her
eyes, wearing
a wedding dress
and carrying a knife
with cake still
on it. vanilla. seems
she's changed her
mind, and she wants
you back. she's
tired of being
married and she promises
that when she gets
back from her honeymoon
that she'll be done
with him for good. no
more playing around,
no more with this silly
guy she married,
on the rebound.

always late

you pace the room.
dinner is ready,
the wine is uncorked
and poured, the
salad is on the table.
your cat follows you
across the room.
his tail up
in the air wiggling
nervously. you stop
to look out the
window, but the cat
can't he's too
low on the floor,
because he's a cat.
you pull the
curtain back,
looking both ways
down the street.
the cat looks
up at you and
licks his lips,
or the area
where he'd have
lips if cats
had them. and
you say, nope,
not yet, she's
always late. always.
and the cat lets
out a loud meow or
two, and you say.
yup, i hear that.

measure of love

here's how
much i like
you. i'll
meet your
mother and
maybe your
father too.
yes. that
much. but
only for a
short visit.

late life marriage

your sister calls
with news. it's sunday.
she's making pasta with
red sauce like her
mother used to do.
she wants to say that
she got married again,
but never quite gets
there. instead she tells
you about the weather,
her golf game, her new
part time job at the
hospital. the price
of gas, and of course
our mother. the update
on if she is really
losing her mind, or
pretending so that
everyone will visit
more often. and at
the end of the
conversation,
i say congratulations
on the wedding,
and she says thanks.
let's talk again soon.

the west wing

your trip
to the white
house, was un
eventful. there
was mild surprise
at how drabby
and cold, and
bland the oval
office was, full of
furniture your
grandmother would
love, old, bent,
wallpaper circa
ninety-eighty,
the thick musty
rug. pictures
of ships, sheep
grazing. what
gives? in
contrast to
the secret service,
patting you down,
taking your id,
your name, your
number. young
and strong, with
crew cuts,
in their starched
white shirts
and badges, and
guns. and finally
down the corridor
you go, after
the third check
point. to nowhere,
just to a velvet rope,
and a bored agent
staring into her
i phone, pointing,
look in there,
without even
looking up at us.
no one is home. it's
taken eight minutes,
if that, so
you go have a drink
or three at the
Old Ebbitt grill
and shake your
collective heads.

the least you can do

she is fragile.
if the wind
blows her over
she'll break like
crystal. you'll
hear the tinkling
of her heart
and blue eyes
shatter like
an open sky full
of stars. pieces.
pieces of her.
everywhere. but
you'll be kind,
and gentle, you'll
take a soft broom
and sweep her
up into your arms.
it's the least
you can do.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

saturday parade

there is a parade
in old town, so
you go because you
have nothing better
to do. there are no
games on tv and you've
done the laundry, paid
the bills, washed
the car. you've
even made your bed
for the first time
in years. so you have
some free time on your
hands and go down to
King Street to stand
with a cup of coffee
and watch the boozy
grown men in little red
cars wearing fez hats
doing zig zags. someone's
golden retriever has
gotten loose and is
chasing the cars. you are
hoping there's a
crash of some sort, but
no. the owner finally
gets bowser on a leash
and everyone claps and cheers.
a group of men playing
bagpipes and wearing
plaid skirts go marching
by with their beet red
hairy legs. you avert your
eyes and put your hands on
your ears. you are not
a big fan of the bagpipe
or of men in dresses.
there is a tall man stolling
around as if he's the king
of the parade, dressed as
george washington, wearing
a tight blue uniform with gold
buttons and white spandex
pants. he has a long sword
too. there's a woman that
resembles martha washington
or ben franklin, they look
so much alike, so i'm not
sure which is ben and which
is martha. she never made it
onto any bills or coins so
i'm not certain.
george keeps his head up
with his square chin
and blue eyes and looks
out into the distance,
it makes you look into
that same direction
but you don't see anything
of interest except a subway
sandwich shop and so you
don't have a clue as
to what he's looking at.
it's a pretty sad parade,
all in all. a few horses
trotting along, making
the kids laugh when they
have to do their business
right there on the street,
some flags, a high
school band shivering
in their thin uniforms.
a gaggle of giggling skinny
pom pom girls throwing
silver batons up into
the overcast sky, looking
at their cell phones when
they can sneak a peak,
but at least you got out
of the house, and found
something to write about.
next stop, jiffy lube.

58 impala

you buy
a torquoise
chevrolet
and park it
out front.
it attracts
strangers.
people come
from all over
to sit on it
and drink
beer from
bottles
in paper bags.
they like your
car. how it looks.
so bright
and shiny.
you yell out
the window
to get off my
car, but they
laugh and laugh
and take switch
blades out
of their boots
and hold the
gleaming blades
up into
the sunlight.

equals two

you no longer
want to communicate
with words, with
innuendos, shaded
phrases, and
inflections, levels
of tone and
volume, language
has defeated
you, kept you from
saying what you
really mean,
undermined your
true self and
intentions. you
are done with words,
with speaking. there
has to be a better
way. bring me
an equation, a theorem,
a problem only
solved with numbers,
and i'll be happy.
keep it simple.
start with one plus
one and go from
there.

the white flag

occasionally, okay,
quite often you are
misunderstood and
feathers get ruffled,
but there are days,
and then there
are weeks where
each road has a
bump, a pothole
a detour or a
wreck tangled
blocking all ways.
you have no exit.
no way around. and you
reach the various
levels of frustration,
anger, resentment,
and dismay until
finally an exasparated
exhale goes out
and the flag of oh well,
surrender goes up.
the flag is raised
and waving brightly.
i'm coming out with
my hands in the air,
you yell out. please,
dont' shoot.

two circles

the geometry
of us is such
that no two
lines ever
intersect. we
are circles
unto ourselves,
drawn in such
a way, that
we can't escape
who we are,
who we have
become. what lies
within can't
get out,
and what lies
on the outside
can't get in.
so what can we do,
having fallen
in love as
we have,
but roll and roll
along and hope
that that's enough.

Friday, April 8, 2011

carry out

i made us a nice
garden salad, and
some salmon with
dill sauce, she
says on the phone.
i can heat it up
when i get to your
house. i also cut
up a nice selection
of cheeses and made
us a plate with
crackers. is there
anything else you'd
like. and you say,
umm, yes there
is, aren't you going
by Peking West on
the way over?
how about picking
me up some fried
rice and a couple
of those egg rolls,
would you, and
an order of kung
pao chicken, no, on
second thought
make that general
tao's chicken. maybe
a side order of
those teriyaki
ribs, okay, okay,
and a coke. one
of those liter
bottles.
oh, and get
some extra hot
mustard and some
packets of that
duck sauce. i love
that stuff. and
soy sauce. that
should do it.
don't forget
the fortune
cookies. can you
get a mai tai to
go, with the little
umbrellas and fruit,
if so, one of
those too, or two
if you want one
with your salmon.

the storm

sometimes you see
the storm before it
gets here. you feel
the air grow cold,
the wind pick up and
turn the leaves
like cups up to catch
the rain. you see
the dog run in,
the birds as one
go quiet. everything
is on hold as
you wait, and wait,
for what's about to
happen, unfold.
love ending is not
unlike that too.

man on the moon

the knitting circle
with women
clinking needles,
staring down at
the growing blouse,
or sweater,
blanket or gown,
speaking in riddles
about men. if they
can put one man on
the moon, why not
all of them, offers
one woman who is
working madly
on a tri-colored
sweater,
in bold horizontal
stripes of orange,
green and blue, a
gift for her husband,
for his birthday.

do you forgive me?

she's made of iron
most of the time.
rarely have i seen
her cry. but lately,
it's april showers
all day. for instance
yesterday she was
standing over the
tea kettle as it
whistled loudly
announcing it's boil,
the steam rising
furiously from
the small hole in
the black capped
top, and she was
crying. and i asked
her what's wrong,
what's the matter,
why are you crying,
and she said, i don't
know, i don't know.
it's just the sound
of this tea kettle
boiling, it reminds
of a train leaving
the station, something
like that. i'm not
sure why. do you
forgive me?

is today tuesday, or wednesday

good luck,
she says. no
please, don't
walk me to my
car. i can
make it from
here. she puts her
hand out to avoid
the awkward kiss,
she shakes
your hand firmly,
the your services
are no longer necessary
at our company, but
thanks, kind of shake.
she pats you on the back.
she validates
your parking, okay,
not that, but
she would if she
could, it's that
kind of benign sort
of farewell that
tells you you
won't be seeing
her again. so you
get out your little
notebook, the list
of who's in and who's
out and you and make an
x by her name. so
it goes and we seemed
to be getting along
so well during that
twenty minute date.

bad omen

you awaken in an
alley with your clothes
still on. you need a
shave, your eyes are
full of sand. you
remember vaguely
tripping and falling
at some point last
night and this is
where you landed. it
seems that people
have left money. you
are littered with one
dollar bills. someone
has made a pillow
out of your jacket
and put it under
your head. you check
your wrist to find
that you still have
your digital casio watch
still on. your wallet
and keys, and phone
are all still there.
there is even a tuna
fish sandwich wrapped
in saran wrap next
to you. you're hungry
so you open it up
and take a bite,
but spit it out. there
are dill pickles in
it. you hate dill
pickles. so you
throw the sandwich
across the alley where
it breaks against
the wall. out of nowhere
a gaggle of feral
cats come running out
to devour it, but not
the pickles. they don't
touch the dill
pickles. you can't
believe that someone
would do that to you,
to a sandwich. there's
only one person you
know who would have done
such a thing, your ex
wife. you look around
but she's not there. this
has put a large dent into
the whole day. it's a bad
omen and you're
barely out of bed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

the intervention

they are all there,
mr. frost with his carved
mean face, the meanest
man who ever took
a breath, so said
truman capote.
and over there shyly
eating crackers and
cheese is emily,
wrapped tight in her
layers of clothes
and perfectly rhyming
poetry and prose that
can all be sung to
the yellow rose of texas.
t.s. and ezra
pound are there too
solemn and quiet, shaking
their heads. e e has
even showed up, long
and tall, so serious
as he speaks in broken
sentences. half
words, half thoughts,
puzzling and blue.
and over there
in the corner
is elizabeth bishop
talking
about fish and the
gas station, the rainbow
in a puddle of oil,
buenos aires,
mark strand is talking
about the longest party.
near the turned on
oven without a flame
is sylvia and sexton
fighting over who
gets the knife,
and then there's hank
bukowski, drunk
as usual with his
hand up an intern's
skirt. saying words
that have no reason
to be in a poem. i'd be
remiss if i didn't
mention oscar wilde,
being happily
misunderstood flirting
with a busboy, and
philip larkin with
his rhyming british
wit reciting a poem
about mr. feeney in his
rented room. ginsberg
and kerouac smoking
a joint and listening
to dylan babble on
about how it's not dark
yet, but it's getting
there. so many gathered
to give me a literary
what for. to give
me hell for what i'm
undertaking. it's an
intervention of poets
and i'm in the chair,
in the middle, unbroken,
still writing whatever
the hell i want to.

festive kind of girl

i see you have
your christmas tree
still up. how nice.
the lights
and everything.
and your st. patty's
day decorations
too, the green
banner of leprechauns
hanging over the door
way. and those easter
baskets in the window.
next to the valentine's
day cards and flowers.
what were they, roses?
that carved pumpkin
maybe the nicest one
i've ever seen, though
it's turning black,
and that fake spider's
web in the corner.
oh my, so scary.
those turkey cut
outs taped
to the kitchen wall
are quite delightful
too, as are
the fireworks
stick ons that you
display on
the ceiling of your
bedroom. very festive
aren't we? i like
your style, girl.
crazy yes, but hey
i enjoy a cup of
crazy every now
and then.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

room 1014

there is nothing
worse than
sneaking into
a motel room
in the middle
of the day when
either she
or you are
married and both
of you are
cheating lying
rats. and you've
pulled the shades
down, moved the
curtains from side
to side to keep
the light out.
the whole
thing stinks
of denial
and betrayal.
you are going to
hell, no doubt.
but there you are
sitting on
the edge of a
saggy mattress
in your black
socks and a pair
of white bvd's
putting quarters
into the machine
to make the bed
vibrate and shake
and she's taking
her clothes
off while she's
crying, smoking
a cigarette and
rubbing a blue tattoo
on her arm that
says jimmy.

mint chip icecream

do me
a favor
she says.
don't call me
anymore. don't
write or stop
by, or anything.
just leave me
the hell alone.
then she
slams the phone
down. i take
another lick
of my icecream
cone. mint
chip. there are
little nuggets
of dark chocolate
immedded within.
i could eat
the whole half
gallon. i'm
surprised at
her anger though.
i thought that
things had been
going along
so well up
until this point.

becoming an artist

you decide to quit
your day job
and become an artist.
you're tired of
working for the man.
you feel it's time
to give back to
the world, to let
your talents shine.
you will paint
portraits, cathedrals,
landscapes. you'll
paint weddings
and funerals,
the world will
ooh and ahh
at your masterpieces.
people will be amazed
at the detail and wonder
if they are photographs.
you go out and
get the best of
everything, brushes,
canvases, an easel.
you buy a purple
beret and set it
on your head,
slightly tilted,
you don't shave or
take a shower
for a few days. you pull
on a black sweater
and tear a hole in
the front. you get
into the habit
of making little
squares with your
fingers, giving
everything a frame.
you squint at the light
as you take a swig
of cheap red wine from
a bottle. you take
everything down
to the river, you
are ready to begin.
and then you realize
that you know nothing
about art, about
paint, about how
to sketch even
a cow, but this
doesn't faze you,
you go buy more wine,
you buy a case. your
hand dips the tip
of a brush into the
red paint and you slash
it onto the canvas.
you have decided that
abstract is more
your style anyway.

why we drink

can you bring
the price down. just
a little, she
says, holding
the estimate in her
hand. we're taking
a round the world
trip and it would
be nice to have
a little extra cash
to take with us
when we go. so
could you drop the
bill a hundred bucks
or so. we'll get
you more work don't
worry about that. i
promise you. we love
your work. you're
the best.
she yells out to her
husband who is loading
the mercedes wagon
with gucci luggage.
right dear. aren't
we going to have
the kitchen done next
year? just drop it a
little sweetie
and we'll let you
have the job. okay?

lettuce girl

she doesn't
eat meat, or fish,
or fowl, or
candies, nuts,
cookies, or
icecream. not
a noodle touches
her lips, not
a slice of bread,
or a glass
of milk goes
down the hatch.
no eggs, no cheese,
no chips, no
dip. she'd
rather leap out
the window than
have a slice
of pizza. and yet
she wonders
why she's so pale,
so fragile,
that her skin is
like paper, and
that she often
leans into
a wall before
she almost faints.
where are my keys,
my phone, my coupons
for soy milk
and lettuce is her
often heard
refrain before
staggering out
into the freezing
fifty degree day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the national zoo

write me a funny
one. short too.
something i can
read in less than
a minute. make it
bite sized, fun
size. brief and
sweet,and make it
about me and you.
pretend we're in
love, that we're
happy, that the
skies are blue,
and we will live
happily ever after
like monkeys
swinging from
their knotted
ropes at the
national zoo.

prayer life

you pray before you
go to sleep, it's a
nightly calling involving
catholic guilt, fear
and blind faith, but
after confessing
a half a dozen things
that cross your mind,
it's the usual prayers
about sickness
and health, work,
relationships, children,
parents. world peace
would be nice too, as
well as a prayer for
the victims of natural
disasters that you
just saw on the eleven
o'clock news.
that sort of thing,
trying hard to cover
all the bases, you even
sneak in a sidebar
about how much good you
could do with your winnings
if allowed to pick
the correct string of
numbers for the mega
million lottery.
basically it's alot
of blah blah blah
that God has heard
over and over again when
you are too tired to put
together something original,
something nice and sincere,
but the hurriedness
of it all doesn't mean
you don't mean it, and
you understand that He
probably gets that too,
He is God after all and
He realizes that you
are tired and need some
sleep after a long hard
day of work and trying
to behave as best
you can in this day
and age of the internet
and dating, being single
and having a martini
shaker on your kitchen
counter. so you should be
good with those prayers,
but feel that you need
to mix it up a little.
you don't want God to
get bored with you,
or punish you with the
plague, or locusts, or
forty years of wandering
around the desert, hmmm,
you think, maybe that's
what's been going on
after all. after this
brief epiphany you are
really tired, and look
at the clock on the
nightstand. almost
three minutes of continual
prayer has taken place.
you are exhuasted so
you unfold your hands
and try to get some sleep.
still feeling guilty.

the barber

the barber
leans over with
his clippers,
his hand gently
moving your
head by touching
your chin. you
can smell
the cigarette he
smoked an hour ago
before you came
in and his cheap
cologne is a dull
cloud around
his chair. his
white tunic
is yellowed
at the collar,
the sleeves cut
short. his watch
has stopped
some time ago,
maybe years, but
it's gold
and shiny, and
he asks you how's
work, how are
things, he mentions
the weather, how
the wind is
blowing and blowing
outside
the large lettered
window, from
which he sees. he's
from another
country, somewhere
you've never been,
and yet here you
are, getting what's
left of your hair
cut, just you,
just him.

eat pray sleep

this book you are
reading, slogging
through, is more
like it, is a best
seller. everyone
has it under their
arm, sitting on
a bench or in a
coffee shop turning
pages as if they
were on fire. and
yet. you want to throw
it not just across
the room, but out
the window and you
want it to circle
the earth until it
hits the author,
lightly, i might
add, in the head.
you can't read this
mass produced jive
anymore. it stinks.
it's boring, it's
predictable, it's
written to be made
into a movie, or
worse for television.
the characters are
hardly fleshed out,
it's plot driven,
you don't care really
what happens, but
there it is. the girl this,
the girl that, the
secret life of something,
eat pray, go to sleep.
where the hell is
carver, cheever, updike
and bellow. flannery.
and salinger. all gone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

what she wants

she wants to pick
blueberries
somewhere out
past front royal,
at a quaint farm that
gives you a basket
and a few hours
to pluck the vines
clean to your heart's
content. she wants
to taste wine in
middleburg, perhaps
shop a little
for an antique vase,
or desk, or rustic mirror
for a wall above
her mantle. she wants
to go to a museum
and sit on a cushioned
bench and stare into
the likes of rembrandt
or van gogh, and ponder
the meaning of life
and art. she'd like
to go see the cherry
blossoms and have a
stranger take our picture
arm in arm beneath
the pink canopy of trees
near the tidal basin,
she'd like to take a
weekend at the beach,
stay at a comfy bed
and breakfast and walk
hand in hand finding
white shells along
the deserted shore
that whisper the ocean
into our ears.
she wants to share a
sunset, a sunrise, an
icecream cone. a poem.
and all of this
is good, it's fine,
you're in. really.
you're there. except
the big game starts
in exactly an hour,
and there's a pizza on
the way. there's cold
beer in the fridge for
you and some cut up
veggies and soy milk
for her. and, well,
you ask her for a
rain check on all of
that and you use words
like honeybun, sugarplum,
my sweet petunia as
she grabs her purse
and heads out the door.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

at first

she says that
she wants nothing.
not a single thing.
just clothes, some
jewelry, books,
a pillow to sleep on
and that's all.
the rest he can keep.
i want my heart
back, my life.
i want to start
from scratch.
to go back to who
i was before
marriage, before
compromise,
before promises
were made
and not kept. but
things have changed
and now she wants
more.

buzz off

you want
to let every
fly out
that's buzzing
madly against
your screen,
caught between
the windows
of your life.
you want them
to go, to
stop being so
close, so
annoying and bug
like. we can
still be
friends, yes,
but from a
distance.

doctor

i no longer
make house calls.
my profession is
too large. i've
grown too big for
such time consuming
pursuits. my hours
are limited too.
check the schedule.
sundays i am no
longer open, no
longer taking calls.
it's cash only
from here on out.
no cards, no checks,
no money orders.
bring small bills.
sign in, sit still
and be patient. fill
out the forms and
my assistant will
get to you all in
good time. there is
no need to see me,
to talk to me, but
i'll know you're here
and that's enough.

night swim

at night
you build things.
bridges, structures,
cathedrals.
your dreams are
works of art
without struggle,
or sweat. you
ease into
them like silk
clothes, like
soft warm water
of the bluest
of oceans. you
swim throughout
the night and never
touch the bottom.

the kiss

you can't just
kiss me like that
and walk away,
and never call,
never send me
a note of thanks,
or a thought about
plans for
tomorrow. you
can't kiss someone
and feel it
in your toes,
and just have it
end like that, have
the story finish,
and close. how
about another.
and another, see
where that leads,
see where it
takes us, see where
we might go.

travel light

if you had to,
you could fit
everything you
need or want
into a bag that
fits into the
overhead storage.
the rest can be
left behind.
and what that
says about you,
your life's
accumulations
is that other
things are more
important, hold
more weight. if
you have to
take it with
you, it has no
value. pack up
love, take
friendships,
keep memories,
travel light.

at the fountain

we are to meet
at the fountain
that no longer
works, no
longer sprays
great plumes
of water into
the air. they've
shut if off
for lack of
funds, lack
dollars to pay
for such a work
of art. so
the founatin
is dry, and no
one really seems
to mind, and
bright pennies
with their wishes
still lie along
the bottom
catching sunlight.
and it's here
that i wait for
you, as i'm
early and you're
late, as usual,
feeling as dry
and lacking
in words
as this fountain
is of water.

the milwaukee airport

there are planes
in the air,
shadows with long
arms and blinking
red lights,
circling, and landing
with a screeching
thud, and halt,
the whine of
engines going
down, or revving up
to rise and disappear.
there is
the collaboration
of luggage
and food, and
coffee spills,
babies crying,
and a voice overhead
expressing late
arrivals, or
delays, there is
the wait, the stale
limbo of it all
that keeps you
on edge, nothing
distills and settles
the moment as
you look at your
boarding pass,
your gate, your
flight number, again
and again, making sure
it's where it
was two minutes
ago. you'd
like to be where
you need to be in
your life, to be
at the last place
you land,
but this is how
you get there. this
is the first step.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

finding a place to be

as you unload
the dishwasher
again,
as you've done
every other day
for as long as
you can remember,
there is a rhythmn
to the bend and
opening of
cabinet doors,
still hot or
warm, each dish or
spoon holding it's
own idea of heat,
the clink and hurry
of it all,
flat dishes here,
the bowls go up
there, glasses with
the other glasses,
of course, and
cups. the shuffle
of silverware into
the proper bed
of drawers. everything
with a place to
be, and you, when
done, keep moving
towards her.

the white house tour

she wanted
my address, my
social security
number, my age
and date of birth,
my weight and height,
my mother's maiden
name. my middle
name too. she
wanted to know
about any
past arrests,
or pending
charges, if any,
she wanted to
know if i was
a member of the
communist party,
or have ever fired
a gun. no, no,
and no to all
of that. she wanted
to know where
i went to school,
where i worked,
where i kept my
money, at what
bank. i'm in
a dark room right
now awaiting
the water torture
before i'm
allowed in.

honeybee

when she speaks
it's not unlike
hitting the side
of an enormous
beehive, with
a stick. out
go the words,
the thoughts,
the logic in
every direction.
the buzz is loud
and constant,
and you can't
stop them from
flying out of
the hive.
but they are
honeybees for
the most part
with no stingers,
and that makes
it okay. well
sort of.

you are homesick

for places
you've never
been to. you
miss people that
you've never met,
you are hungry
for food
you've never
tasted. there is
something missing,
something
that isn't there,
quite yet. you
are cold when
you should be
warm, and tired
when you should be
wide awake. there
is nothing new
to learn, there
is a world out
there you know
nothing about.
love is difficult
and distant, love
is all you want.

Friday, April 1, 2011

two kinds of people

i like to volunteer,
thelma tells me while
we're getting to know
one another over cold
beers outside on the wharf.
we met on an internet
dating site called
'bottom of the barrel'.
i read to the blind,
she says, dipping her
french fries into a little
tub of ketchup.
i'm a helper, a doer.
i'm in all the marches
for all the diseases.
i have more ribbons and
t-shirts than i can count.
pink ones, yellow ones,
blue ones. just yesterday
i made a hundred chicken
pot pies and took them
all down to the shelter
in my mini-van while
they were still hot. i
might even have a couple
of them left in there
if you want one. soooo,
what about you?
are you like that too?
a helper. i always
say, there are two kinds
of people, those that
help and those that stand
on the sidelines and
don't help. which one are you?
i take a sip of my beer,
then look out a large
grey freighter plowing
slowly through the ocean
on the horizon.
i wish i was on that boat,
hauling chickens or snow
tires to sinapore or someplace
far away. to be honest with
you thelma, i've been kind
of busy lately. so i haven't
been helping or marching
for anything too much.
she frowns at me and says,
oh my, you are a bad boy,
aren't you. what have you been
busy with? she says,
and guzzles down the rest
of her beer. she let's out
a little burp, staring at me,
well, what are you so busy
with that you can't help
others? i look back out at
the boat, and feel one of
my eyelids start to twitch.
i try to imagine swimming
that far. i think that i
can do it. just stuff, thelma,
i've been really really busy
with stuff, yardwork, things
like that. but i plan on
helping people real soon.
honest. by the way,
you have alot of ketchup
on your chin.

stay off the rope

the shrill whistle
of the thin tanned
boy, up high in the chair,
white zinc spread
on his long nose,
sunglasses on, and red
trunks. he blows again
the high pitched whistle
making heads turn
to where the trouble
lies, and yells. stay off
the rope and waves with
his long arms urgently
for the children
to stop hanging onto
the blue twine stretched
from one silver hook
to the other. dividing
the deep water from
the shallow. and as
you swim through life
there seems to always
be a rope and someone
blowing a whistle as
you move about the pool.

the deep end

what does it mean to say
that one has gone off
the deep end?

where is the deep end,
are they there forever
when he or she departs.

or is it a short visit.
i had an aunt who had
gone there and never

came back. i remember
my mother whispering into
the phone that her sister

had gone off the deep end.
and as a child i imagined
her springing off a highdive

with her arms spread open,
sailing gracefully
through the blue summer air.

i wanted for a long time
to know where this place was,
would i know it when i arrived.

would i too, someday, go there.

a breakfast chat

you are so so
self-centered, she
says on the phone.
you have such an elevated
opinion of yourself.
it's all about you!
uh huh, i say.
i have my droid phone
cupped between my shoulder
and chin as i listen
to her babble on. i'm
in the middle of making
breakfast, i tell her,
some one minute quaker
oats, so if i lose you,
call back, these touch
screens are so sensitive.
she continues, ignoring
me as usual. you are
self-absorbed and
heartless, she says.
i take a long woooden
spoon and stir up the oats
so that nothing sticks
to the bottom of the pot.
they are so hard to clean
when that happens. hate
that. i turn the heat down
when it comes to a boil,
right before it goes
over the top edge like
volcanic lava. i then
throw some walnuts and
cranberries on top,
sprinkle on some
granulated brown
sugar, a sweet brown
dusting and pour
a little milk in.
you are so narcissistic
and passive aggressive,
she yells with what sounds
like bitterness,
you only care about
yourself, you need
constant attention
and reassurance
and yet give nothing
back to others, especially
me. you hold the phone away
and blow on your hot
bowl of oatmeal, it
needs to cool a little
or otherwise it could
burn your tongue. she
continues, there is
not an empathetic bone
in your cold body. selfish
is your middle name. i
don't know how i ever
got mixed up with the
likes of you, so
just lose my number,
my e mail, i regret
the day we ever met.
hold on i tell her,
as i lean over
and blow on the steamy
bowl. i take a cold
spoon and taste. yum,
i say. hmmm that's
good. are you even
listening to a word
i'm saying, she says.
i can almost hear
her shaking with anger.
what's up, i ask
her. why so blue today?
you seem really upset
about something. come
on over, i made some
oatmeal. there's plenty
for the both of us.