Sunday, July 31, 2011


let's have
cup of coffee
before we go.
put your leg
up. reach
across the table
with your hand
and find mine.
let's linger.
let's not talk
but listen
to the night
quiet as
the stars come
out of hiding,
and everyone
finds their way
towards sleep,
towards dreams,
like us
and what we
have, still to
yet be defined.

we dance as good as we want

we not only
sing, but we
dance as good
as we want,
we're archie
bell and
the drells,
and we're
from houston
texas and we
a new dance
called the tighten
up, now
tighten up
on that organ,
on those drums,
on that guitar,
okay, now make
it mellow. oh
yeah, ah, yeah.
let's do it now.
to the left,
now to the right,
do the tighten up.
let's do
the tighten up.

not a pilgrim

i could never have
come over on the mayflower,
she tells me while
having dinner one
night on the balcony
of her high rise
apartment. i mean
i'm all for religious
freedom and all that,
but i can barely
stand to share a cab
with a stranger.
i mean, eating lard
and pototoes and fish
for ninety days. i
can't even eat a piece
of salmon but once a
month. i mean where
would we go to the bath
room. i just can't go
when other people are
around, it just doesn't
work that way. i need
to shut the door and
turn the water on. yeah,
i tell her, i agree, i
can barely get on
a bus, or a metro train
without going stir crazy.
did they even have deodorant
back then? have you
ever been in a seven-
eleven on a hot summer's
day when the workers
come in for hotdogs,
whew. imagine being on
the mayflower for months,
bobbing like a cork
on the ocean. we're
just not pilgrims are
we, she says, and raises
her glass to make a toast.
what about a pioneer,
i ask her, could you
be a pioneer? nope, she
says, no wagon train
for me either. indians
shooting arrows at us,
rattlesnakes, baked
beans 24-7, just shoot me.

lobster fest

all the lobsters
you can eat,
the sign
said. and corn,
and potatoes,
corn bread and slices
of peach cobbler
pie for dessert,
and tubs of butter
to dip the lobster
tails into. one
after another
being chewed and
washed down with
beer after cold
beer, all for sixty
nine, ninety nine,
tip not included.
it was a feeding
frenzy of pendulous
bellies and sunburned
faces swallowing
hard, hitting their
chests with their
fists to restart
their gorged hearts
when they stalled.
just one more, just
one more, just one more,
and then unsnapping
their jeans, before
slipping into
their polished cars
and driving off into
the american sunset.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

not really

you don't know who
to vote for
as you stand in line
at the middle school
with your pamphlets
in hand. the economy
still stinks, business
is sporadic, and you
haven't had a vacation
in years. do you stick
with the current regime,
the guy who has rolled
up his sleeves and
goes to work everyday,
or go with the woman
in glasses from alaska
who has never read a
book, or has no clue
how to even run a pta
meeting let alone a country,
but she's cute and has
a nice smile and probably
makes a mean apple pie.
it's a tough tough decision.
not really.

rorshach testing

okay, now tell
me the first thing
that comes into your
mind when you look at
this ink splotch.
it looks like a giant
black spider's web
with a little
helpless fly stuck
in the middle, but i
don't say that, instead
i say, do you mind
if i go to the bathroom
first, i had a grande
coffee about an
hour ago, and i really
really have to go.
but we are in the middle
of this experiment,
your therapy depends
upon the outcome
of your responses
to these selected series
of ink splotches,
and you've already
seen the first one
and you haven't told
me what you think.
okay, okay, the first
thing that comes
into my mind when
i look at this crazy
abstract ink spill,
is, umm, my mother
calling me on the phone.
can i go to the bathroom
now. sure, go ahead.

Friday, July 29, 2011


no sparrow
really cares, at
least it seems
from here, is
there joy
or even sadness
in their hearts,
at each worm
or insect
they discover.
do you hear
praise ever leave
their sharpened
beaks at
midnight, or
thanskgiving in
the glossy dew
of morning, not
for my ears,
there is only
the constant
tweet for more.

on my way

i'm on my way,
i'll be right
there, just
a minute,
another second
or two and i'll
be out the door,
off the phone
and in the car
heading towards
you. i just need
to make one stop,
make that two,
for gas, for
something else
that i just forgot,
at the farmer's
market before it
the list is on
the table, so i
need to go back
in, run up the stairs,
but then i
truly am on
the way, did you
start dinner, is
it cold, are you
mad, should i
turn back around
and just go
home, are you
there, hello?

different directions

it is an uneasy
thought, let alone
the task of telling
someone you've known
for so many years
that you have to move
on, get past the past.
friendships, once
strong and gold, have
rusted. have crumbled,
have been bent with
time and age. when
young we see so little,
blinded by our own
intentions, our light.
but with time, that
light dims, and you
can see more clearly
who someone really is,
and they you. and it's
not always pretty or
easy, but the road
is still wide enough
for both of you to
go in separate
directions with memories
still in tact.

in the sun

you lie down
in the tall grass
on a hill
as far up
as you can go
with the time you
have. you find
the sun and turn
your face that way.
you've done
this all your life,
and you wonder
sometimes which
climb will be
the last, to lie
down and let
the sun do what
the sun does
best and even
that dark thought
doesn't keep for
long, you let
it slip, you let
it pass.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the go to

where are you every
tuesday night, i ask
my friend jeannie. i
text, i call, i leave
a voice mail to see
what's up and you
aren't at home.
then i never hear back
until the next morning.
oh, she says, pushing her
frizzy hair out of
her eyes. this humidity
is destroying my
hair, she says. i'm
a fright, keep the
children away, i might
scare the bejeebies
out of them. i stare
at her, so, i say.
tuesday nights?
oh, yeah, tuesday nights.
that's when i see my
go to. your what? my
go to, everyone has
a go to, she says.
what's that?
i don't even know what
that is. she rolls her
eyes. you are so lame
sometimes, she says.
it's someone,
that, well, you know,
there's ummm, no strings
attached and you go
have a little fun
visit with them and
mix it up. mix it up,
really? you mean like get
busy? do the wild thing
with them? i say. that's
right jimmy einstein.
you go meet them somewhere
and get busy and do
the wild thing,
that's what a go to is.
it's just fun, easy, no
questions, no problems,
none of that relationship
crapola. hmmm, you say.
and no money is exchanged?
you're an idiot, she says.
hey, look at my hair,
does it look really wild.
should i have it
straightened or what?
why ask me, why don't you
ask your go to next
tuesday, or is that too
serious of a question
for you two to discuss?

writing instructions

it's like this,
you have a shopping
cart, and it's
empty of course
as you meander
down the first aisle
of memory.
you have no set
meal in mind, no
preconceived idea
of what might
become of this trip
but you are hungry
and that's a good
thing. so in they go,
an apple, an orange,
grapes, milk
and bread. a t-bone
steak. maybe you
see a bright
yellow box of
nabisco wafers
that strikes your
fancy, you'll
put it in the basket
too, but then
quickly take it
out. just the
thought of eating
one of those makes
your mouth dry,
causes your tongue
to stick to the
roof of your mouth.
but on you go
through the store
and finally to
check out, and hopefully
by the time you
get home. you
have something
and it will taste
good, if not to you,
at least to someone
who might come
across it when they
are hungry and
need a little snack.

duck hunting

my friend just
bought a brand new
shotgun. it's black
with a long
shiny barrel
and a maple stock.
he clicks it open
and says, wow,
isn't she a beauty.
please, i tell
him, don't point
that thing at me,
but it's not
loaded and it
can't go off
like this anyway.
whatever i tell him.
what do you plan
to do with that gun,
i ask him. hunt, he
says. ducks mostly.
i didn't know you
liked to eat ducks.
are we talking peking
ducks here, with
plum sauce and
those little pancakes?
he laughs, no, it's
just for sport.
we hide in the duck
blinds out near
the water, blow
the duck whistles
and up they go
into the air, then
we pop up and
shoot the bastards.
the bastards? yeah,
the ducks. sounds
like fun and very
fair too, hiding
like that and tricking
them to come out.
so tell me, where
is the sport in
that? he shrugs,
it's not easy
crouching in those
blinds, waiting
and waiting like
that. sometimes it's
cold out too
and we run out
of beer and cigarettes.


these sandwiches
that you've
made for our
picnic, here
near the river
beneath the shade
of willows, on
the slope where
we can see
the cool blue
sway of water,
stink. what's
in them? egg
salad, are you
kidding me.
how long have
they been in
the car. i swallowed
a little and i
may now have
salmonella and if
i do, my lawyer
will be in contact.
what else is
in that basket?
cookies, please
tell me you put
nuts in them,
i only like them
with nuts.
what about bug
spray, did you
bring some ant
repellant. look
at them marching
towards us. hey,
hey, where are
you going, is that
a gala apple in
your hand that you
are about to
throw at me?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

spice it up a little

i was reading the paper
the other day, drinking
a cold beer with
the ball game on when
my wife came into the room.
hey, she said, what do
you think of this outfit.
i lowered the paper, took
a look and said, i didn't
know clam digger pants
came back in style.
tan, nice, they go good
with that pink blouse
and those ankle breaker
shoes your wearing, what
is that, some sort of woven
wheat they hold them
together with? they're
capri pants for your
information. oh, okay.
where you going in that
outfit, church? i went
back to the paper. nordstroms,
she says, for lunch with
the girls. oh yeah. since
when did they start serving
food? pick me up a ham
and swiss, while you're over
there. she was still standing
there, staring at me.
what? i said. what?
in the old days you'd
be up out of that chair
when i had on a outfit
like this and trying to
wrestle me upstairs. i've
been working out, she
says and spins around
to give me a rear view.
hmmm. nice, tight. i'm
loving those clam diggers,
i tell her. capris, she says.
ummm, honey, move a little
to the left, there's two
men on and it's the bottom
of the ninth. you're sort
of blocking the screen.
you know, we haven't fooled
around in months, she says
to me. i take a swig
of beer. here we go,
i say to myself. what's up
with that, she says,
aren't you interested in
me anymore. i am, i tell
her, i am, i'm just waiting
for you to give me
the green light. and
since when did you ever need
the green light. you've
run so many red lights you
should be in traffic school.
maybe we should go see
a therapist, see what our
problem is, she says.
hey, we're just tired.
the kids, our jobs, the lawn.
the kids are in college dear
and we have a lawn service.
oh right. well, i don't know,
we're just in a lull.
maybe we should mix it up
or something. hey, do we
have any more chips. someone
forgot to put the clip
back on this bag, they're
stale as hell. are
you listening to me. we
have no sex life. none,
zip. zero. it's not right.
my friend ellen said that it's
a sign you might be having
an affair. pffft. ellen.
what does she know. where'd
she get that, from that
know it all oprah? that oprah
is getting on my last nerve.
you don't care about me
anymore do you? she says,
but avoiding tears because
she just put on all this
makeup to go out with the girls.
okay, okay, i tell her. maybe
we could spice things up
a little, rent a dirty movie
or something. but with a story,
no close ups or anything.
no, she says. i hate that stuff.
okay, okay. go pick up an
outfit at victoria
secrets, or somewhere. maybe
we could do some role
playing. we could play
good cop bad cop, i tell her.
what, she says. what? or i could be
the milkman and you could
be the woman at home waiting
for the milk and i could
make a delivery and you'd
answer the door in your
underwear or something, or,
or, i could be a fireman
coming to rescue you, but
it's only the smoke alarm,
and you are helpless, like
a little kitten up a tree.
stop, she says, you know what,
just forget it. i have to go,
the girls are waiting. hey,
i tried, i tell her.
tell the dude making sandwiches
at nordstroms to go easy on
the mayo. i'm working
out too you know. and
throw some peppers on
there too, spice it up
a little.

bus stop

on the bench
in the glass opened
booth at
the bus depot
waiting for
the A-9. long
bearded, white
with a hooked
brown cane, glass
eyed, and blue
like old an fish
without fins,
a plastic bag
in hand. a skeleton
in shoes, then
rising as
the wind changes
and the bus
arrives, the thump
and whistle
of brakes, and
doors unfolding,
and gone
as if never here.

the changing lights

in traffic
as the church
erupts and the doors
swing wide
and the wedding
party falls out
and out and out
onto the sidewalk
and streets
and the flowers
and pictures
being taken and
everyone bloomed
in wide smiled
happiness for the couple
that finally emerges
into this june
sunlight, you sit
and wait, your
day stalled as light
after light
changes, you
waiting for all
of it to slide
from view this
parade of promise,
this life. how hard
it is to not

Monday, July 25, 2011

brighter shores

you aren't lost
but you feel lost,
you feel as if
you've taken a wrong
somewhere, so you
google yourself
to see where you are.
to see what others
may have written
about you. perhaps
get a clue as to
your location,
but there isn't
much there. your
credentials are weak.
you are in an ocean
of mischief it seems
and forever swimming
towards a brighter

empty shelves

you survey
the contents
of your refrigerator.
it's a lean
sparse place
at the moment
with a cold
bright light
on the racks
that need cleaning.
who spills
are these, i
don't know, there
hasn't been
anyone around
to make this mess
but me. and i ponder
the idea of
filling it up
with stage
props, a plastic
head of lettuce
that will never
brown, an empty
carton of milk. a
gleaming green
stalk of celery,
some eggs that
aren't eggs at all.
perhaps a pot
roast, the kind
they use to stage
homes for
selling. and the
more i think about
it, i could fill
my life with
such things, new
friends that are
quiet and content
in their blissful
silence and yet
and sublime,
hanging out
in the livingroom
with so much to
say, so much on
their manequin
minds, and yet
polite enough
to be mum when
i'm about and
rummaging for
something to eat.

the florist

the bloom
is off
the rose
she says, and i
say not so fast,
perhaps not.
it just needs
a little sunlight,
some water, a
kind word or two,
and watch, she'll
spring right back
to life. trust
me on this, i
know my way
around flowers.
and she says,
why do you call
it a she,
and i say,
because those
roses seem so
much like you,
sad and wilted.


in knowing
that you can't
do anything
about much,
but sit and
wait, be
patient, relaxes
you. frees
you. the train
will come,
the rain will
stop. and
maybe, just
maybe she will
arrive and
kiss you
once again.

shades of blue

your discussion
of the color
blue, more
indigo and cobalt
results in you
holding up
that sparkling bottle
of water, it's color
is the exact shade
you are talking
about and you both
agree that it is
a nice color.
and you know that
the conversation is
really about sex
at this point,
you talk about
has been shaded in
some degree or
another about sex,
holding each other
up to the light,
and smiling and
saying, yes.


she has a small
case of amnesia,
sometimes she forgets
things, like where
she is, what she
was doing, or where
her car might be. i
tell her not to
worry though, this
is just temporary
and once the tornado
of stress subsides,
it will pass. but for
now this could be
a good thing, you
can use this to your
advantage in
forgetting dates you
don't want to go
on, family dinners,
annoying clients, or
on the positive side,
thinking that my
door is your door
in the middle of
a hot summer night.
you could forget that
you just kissed me,
and now want to do
it again. this could
be a good thing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

war protest

a long time
ago, or perhaps
you prefer once
upon a time, when
i was younger,
much younger than
i pretend to
be right now, we,
and by we, i mean
my friends and i
would go downtown
to protest the war.
we were skinny
and had long hair,
and we were very
underage and drinking,
all of us with illegal
smiles on our lineless
faces, and there
was music, always
concerts on
the mall, ragged
loud music rattling
in the shadows of
the white house,
the capitol dome
and the monuments.
and there was
the reflection pool
long and black,
shallow, full of similar
minded young people,
shirtless, braless,
some with signs,
some singing, some
chanting things
like hell no, we
won't go, or one two
three four, we don't
want your f....king
war. quite clever
we were, and then we'd
run as the cops would
chase us out on
horseback, tear gas
filling the grey air,
and we were laughing
still, trying to avoid
capture. some things
have changed, some
haven't. some never will.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

bowling attire

you don't like
to bowl, not
duck pins, or
even ten, but
you like to wear
those yellow silk
shirts with your
name embossed
in fancy red
script, and those
tan gabardine
pants with pleats
in the front,
so 40's, and
the soft shoes
that makes you
feel like a cat,
with your size
ten number,
circled on back.
you enjoy those
vinyl chairs,
the french fries
that they sell,
and the ice cold
budweiser beer
in a brown
bottle. you could
stay there
all day in that
cool hum of a
building, listening
to the crash of
wooden pins
tumbling, tumbling,
then swept away.
this is the look
you were born
into. this
will be your
attire from
here on out.

fortune telling

you move in with
a gypsy woman
who goes by
the name of miranda,
she's got a crystal
ball and wears
a red scarf
around her head.
there is a large
neon sign flickering
and attracting every
known species of
flying insects right
to us on the front
porch as we sit
outside drinking
mohitos. it's too hot
to be inside.
there is no
air conditioning.
her business has
been slow. and as
you sit with her,
being quiet
in the awful
heat, she looks at
you and says,
i predict big things
for you, billy. i predict
that you will
suddenly get ambition
and go out and make
us lots of money
with your new
found spirit. you
don't even look at her
as you swat away
a black fly, and a
mosquito competing
to bite your sweaty
face and
you say, shut up
with your stupid
predictions. why
don't you go down
to the race track,
or take a trip up
to atlantic city and
put your so called
fortune telling skills
to good use.
she begins to cry,
sipping on her
mohito, sucking on
the sugar cane.
i believe that you
will leave me one
day, she sobs. i not
only believe it, but
i predict it. could
happen you say,
and finally swat
the fly with your
winless racing
form. could happen.

the potted plant

you try
so hard to
keep that plant
alive. with water
and turning
it towards
an unseen sun
in the too low
windowed sky.
that gift from
nearly a year
ago, so vibrant
and strong,
but wilting now,
bent brown.
it lingers in
perpetual silence
with soft
green eyes.
we have no
small talk
between us
when passing by,
with me doing
things that need
to be done,
and that perhaps,
in my way
of thinking,
is partly, if
not all,
the reason why.

the red brick building

the building
on connecticut
avenue is shadowed
and small as
far as buildings
go, but rises
seven stories tall
in brushed red brick,
heavy stone
and casement
windows, stiff
and black, and
the air conditioning
units hanging
like tongues
from several edges
of warped sills,
beat out a constant
summer hum. it all seems
to have grown
there with trees,
some evolutionary
feat of melancholy,
and the bones
are all there, as is
the watery memory
of you on
the flat roof
where you found your
way up through
the narrow stairs,
and turned the latch
to crawl onto
the cool pebbled
surface in your bare
feet. were you
only trying to get
closer to the stars?

Friday, July 22, 2011

the condo board

your car
will be towed
the red note
says on your
the condo board
has a new president
and now
work vehicles
are not permitted
to park on the court
in our pleasant
tree lined
cul de sac. you
have twenty four
hours to relocate
your truck, or
else it will
be towed to
jimmy's wrecking
lot on the corner
of tenth and vine
the red note
says. and your
dog, it's been
barking loudly
when you aren't
at home, and sometimes
when you are
at home, and we've
seen you put your
trash out before
the sun has set,
and we saw you throw
an apple core
into the woods
the other day.
we've seen you
shake your head
and roll your eyes
at us when we patrol
the grounds with
our clipboard.
you are on notice.
we have you
in our sights.

the betty davis dream

you have
a dream that
you are married
to betty davis
and the world
is in black
and white and
she isn't happy
with you, with
the way things
are going in
your life, and
she calls you
mister, mister
this and mister
that, hey mister
look at me when
i'm talking to
you. you don't
trust her around
the knife drawer
in the kitchen,
and you watch
her at the table
when you eat, making
sure that she
isn't dropping
anything into
your wine glass.
she casts a long
shadow against
the wall as she
leans over
your plate to spoon
some gravy. it's
a horrible, horrible
dream, and you
wonder why you
can't dream of
donna reed, or
what the hell,
elizabeth hurley,
or someone like

up a tree

she is a cat
up in the tree
with no way
down. clueless
as to how she
got there
and which way
to turn.
the dog that
chased her
nipping at
her tail is
nearly forgotten
as she shivers
her claws dug
in on a shaky
limb with
nowhere to fold
herself into
a ball and rest
and figure
out a plan.

the small stuff

you wake up one
morning and there are
bluebirds singing
outside your window.
you wave your fingers
at them as they sit
on the sill, perky
and looking in at you.
the sun is up,
and there is a pleasant
breeze in the air
pushing soft white
clouds gently across
a pristine blue sky.
you decide in that
moment that you are
going to turn over
a new leaf, stop being
such a whining baby,
and complaining about
things. you are
going to be a better
person in all ways.
you are going to not
sweat the small stuff.
this lasts
about ten minutes,
when you are standing
in the shower with shampoo
in your eyes and
there is no hot
water because some
selfish inconsiderate
person that you are
related to through
marriage has used it

not one of the guys

you are not one
of the guys.
you've known this
all of your life.
you don't play
cards or hunt, or
camp, or fish. you
don't see yourself
in a cabin in
the woods with five
guys shooting the breeze,
drinking all night,
talking endlessly
about the glory years
and the local
teams and what ifs.
you don't need
a sports car, or
a pool, or a house
the ocean. you don't
need to ride your
bike in a costume
with six other similarly
dressed guys. you
like to play
sports and then
go home and after
a shower, a
sandwich and a
nap, go out with
a strong, long
legged woman
who doesn't mind
wearing lipstick
and a short dress
and is happy to see you.
you are not one
of the guys, and
never will be.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

see you in september

is that your
sweat puddle
or mine i ask her
as she rolls
over like a big
dog across
the bed. it's
so freaking hot
out that i've lost
the will to live,
and for you to live
too, she says.
leave me out of this,
i tell her. i love
this heat. give
me ninety to a
hundred degrees
any day over
below freezing
and snow.
you're ill, she
says, you must have
heat stroke. come
here and kiss me
you tell her
blowing a cool
breath of ice tea
flavored air into
her red ear
and she says get away
from me, don't touch
me. i'm melting.
see you in september
maybe, if you're lucky.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the card game

kings and queens
and jacks
of hearts,
a small pot
scattered in
the middle.
the ten of diamonds,
the ace of
spades, the
royal flush,
a straight, a
deuce or two
to make the house
full. and
the rum is warm,
there is no
ice, and the
game drags on
and on into
the safe embrace
of morning
light while
old friends
have gotten
older as each
hand was played,
and memories
laid out,
and sweetly frayed.
so few days
left ahead,
like these,
and fewer nights

i love lorrie moore

you fall madly
in love with
the writer lorrie
moore. she is so
brilliant and clever
and you've read all
of her short stories,
but you admit that
you've only skimmed
her novels. you have
a short attention
span, one that you are
sure she would appreciate.
witty people like
you and her are like
that. you get bored
easily with tedious
projects. you google
her, you download
her, you print off
the pictures of her
with her sly smile
and dark, poetic hair.
you don't know why
it seems poetic, but
you want to impress her
with this description
instead of saying
her long black hair.
anyone can write that.
you believe that she
is someone you could
almost be monogamous with.
you put her pictures
all over your house
and reduce one to
laminate and put into
your wallet next to
your library card.
you try to remember
funny and insightful
things she has written
in her books, books
such as Like Life
and then repeat them
during the day at
appropriate moments,
but this is much more
difficult to do than
you first believed.
so instead
you think of writing
her a fan letter, and
then a real letter,
or an e-mail,
or something to show
how much you worship
the ground she walks
on. you wish you could
text her right now.
you'd say, hey girl,
what up?
you think about
sky writing, getting
a crop plane to make
a giant smokey heart
with your name and hers
in the middle or maybe
just your initials
depending on how
much the plane rental
costs. you wonder why
she lives in wisconsin.
does she like cheese
and other dairy products
that much. you could
send her some cheese
maybe. a big cheese
wheel from trader joe's.
maybe a wide selection
of cheeses, both
domestic and international.
you think about hopping
on a freight train a la
boy dylan paying homage
to woody guthrie.
you'd sing songs along
the way with a harmonica
you found in an alley
and then sterilized.
you'd change the lyrics
so that every other
line rhymed with lorrie,
or moore, or both
together. you go to
sleep at night and hope
that she reads this
one day, and calls you
and says yes, i feel
the same way. please,
please come and eat
some cheese with me
in wisconsin, the future
is us.

pointing things out

it's a day
of people pointing
at your tire
as you slow
down at the light,
or the cop
hiding in the bushes
with his motorcycle
stepping out
and pointing
with his finger
and pad in his
leather gloved
or on the subway
at that little
smudge of mustard
from a week ago
on your white
dress shirt,
or the shaving
cream still
in your ear like
a wet cotton ball.
they point,
and smile, and nod
it seems they've
had their day
too of being
pointed at, and
when you get
in line at the store,
thinking that
it's the front,
they all point
and gesture
towards the distant
end where you
need to go,
to move.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

eight ball

you break, she
says, chalking her
stick, standing clear.
go ahead. you
start and so i
do. hitting
the tightly racked
pyramid of colored
balls right down
the center. they
scatter quickly,
with a bang,
rolling in every
direction, but into
a pocket. and she
smiles when
the mayhem stops,
lowers her gaze
at the sweet cherry
pickings i have
left her, but i
don't care. i'm
thinking of other
things, another
game altogether
as she leans against
the rail.


when was the last time
you had your blood pressure
checked, she asks me
while removing a tick
from the back of my leg.
did you get it, i ask.
burn it off, or pour
some alcohol on it,
there's a wine
glass over there with
some chardonay in it.
trader joe's. that should
kill it. god
i hate ticks. i was
in the grocery store
a few weeks ago and i
had my pressure checked
at the little machine
in the back where you
can get perscriptions
filled, plus i go on
web md a lot whenever
i feel sick or some
strange rash appears
on the side of my neck.
but i think that's
from the cologne i've
been splashing on.
plus i pick up quite
a bit of medical
knowledge from watching
House on t.v. .
cholestreol? she says
with her mom voice.
ummm, i think i'm good
there too, i feel fine,
and i've cut back on sweets.
you know, you aren't
a young pup anymore,
she says, as i feel
the tweezers pinch my
skin. i think i got
it all, she says. you
are tick free until
your next bike ride,
but you really should
have a doctor and go
get a physical. i will
i tell her, i will.
next year, promise.

the long walk

it's a long
walk from
where we are
to the pier.
but the sun is
low on the bay
side and the ocean
is a subtle
shade of grey
and green,
still warm
this late in
the day. and
we walk, letting
the waves roll
up and over
our feet, shoes
in our hands.
it's a long
walk from where
we are to
the pier, but
we are willing
to at least
try, to see
how far we make it.

eating crabs with michelle

with a cigarette
clenched in the corner
of her mouth, she
says, i went to
my gyspy friend
rosa the other day
and she suggested
that maybe i should
change my name, which
in turn would change
my karma, my luck.
so i did it, she tells
me. she sets her
cigarette down, blows
out some smoke then
like a surgeon,
pulls out a thick
strand of white meat
from a crab leg.
i went down to
the courthouse,
filled out all
the papers and voila,
changed my name,
but just my first
name. i like my last
name, smith. so i
kept that. i wipe
some butter off of my
face, and lick
the orange tips
of my fingers.
so, what is it,
i ask her, did you
go for brittany,
or sasha or some
other stripper
name like kendra.
i smack my wooden
mallet down hard
against the back
of another crab,
sending shell
fragments flying
my fingers are
and i think may have
cut my lip, the bay
seasoning is making
it burn. i'm
starving and
nearly drunk off
of one beer sitting
in the boiling sun,
at a picnic table
in ruth's, back yard.
i haven't had any
luck with my
old name, she says,
three marriages,
the bankruptcy, i
even had shingles
last year. i had
two flat tires in
two weeks, that never
happens. i just needed
a change, like
my gypsy friend
told me. ruth is just
not the name
that defines me so
i changed it to
michelle. it's sexy
and classy. i've
never known a michelle
that didn't have
her act together.
michelle, my belle,
i say to her, biting
down on a razor
sharp shell, trying to
suck out a tiny
sliver of crab meat
from a half broken
claw. hey, ruth,
michelle, she
corrects me. right,
michelle, do you have
any sheet metal tools,
or some real food in
the kitchen and some
bandaids? i'm thinking
that maybe we can
call in a pizza.
what do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2011

the intervention

when you come
home from work,
throw your keys
onto the table,
set your briefcase
down, the lights go
on and there they are,
waiting for you.
a dozen or so friends
and relatives, gathered
in a circle
with an empty chair
in the middle. someone
has made a pot of coffee,
someone has brought
crumb cake. they calmly
tell you, that everything
is fine, just sit,
please take a seat,
we care about you,
we love you, we
want to help you.
please sit. please,
don't be alarmed.
you look around
the room and then
make a mad dash for
the front door, but
your mother trips
you with her cane
and you go tumbling
to the floor.
they drag you to
the center of the room
by your feet and prop
you up. your dog
breaks through
the circle of chairs
and jumps into your
lap and licks
your face. stay put
someone says. please.
we want to help you.
this is all for your
own good. we do this
out of love, not
judgement. everyone
smiles and nods their
collective heads while
sipping coffee,
and then someone
begins to talk, standing.
it's a priest from
the nearby church
with his dark black
shirt and pants, and
stiff white collar,
and he says, we're
worried about you, all
of us gathered here
tonight. we only want
the best for you, to
get you well, you are
a single man, living
alone, so please tell us,
tell us why are you
so happy and content.
it's just not right.
what's wrong with you?

the misdirected text

i'd like
to be that
person that you
texted last
night and
attached a
photo of you
wearing only
a smile. i'd
like to get
those words,
i miss you,
i love you
sweetie, i
can't wait
to see you again.
i'd like
to see that
little green light
flash and to
hear that beep
and to see all
those words
that i see
right now in
front of me.
that would
be a wonderful
thing and make
me feel warm
and fuzzy. just
the opposite
of what i'm
feeling now,
you tramp.

ice cream

when you want
ice cream, you want
a double scoop.
don't be stingy,
dig deep into
that frozen vat
and come out with
a real scoop.
no low fat,
no yogurt, no
soy, no lactose
free, no low
fat milk or
sugar free,
no sherbert or
sorbet, please.
just give me a fat
rounded cone
of pure ice
cream, something
that will make
a tear roll
down my cheek
with happiness.
a cone that will
make my heart
shiver with fear.
and that
goes as well
for a kiss.
please don't
give me a low fat
kiss on the
cheek and think
that it means

Sunday, July 17, 2011

gettysburg redux

i've been practicing
dying, no, it's not
what you think, i've
signed up to be a
civil war re-enactor
with my friend jimmy.
he shows me how he
might take a bullet
to the chest, gasping
for air and grabbing
at his heart before
falling dramatically
backwards. i tell
him good, very good,
but perhaps you should
grimace more, show more
agony in your face.
more terror and fear,
it looks like you're
smiling, wipe that
smile off your face,
you goof, i tell him.
he says, okay and
rebuttons his thick
blue coat full of
shiny buttons. then
it's my turn and i show
him my death scene,
although i'm leaning
more towards a flesh
wound. and so i show
him how i get hit in
the arm and it makes
me spin around from
the velocity of
the bullet or
cannonball that
hits me and i fall
into a ravine full
of mud. but you're
supposed to die he
says, while he spit
shines his boots. nah,
i don't want to die
on the battle field,
i want to go to
the field hospital
and meet some cute nurse,
then she mends me
back to health and
i'm okay. then we both
go off together
to my farm, have a
family and grow corn
and stuff. pffft, jimmy
shakes his head at
me. nah, i'm dying
when i get my shot,
then he shows me his
death scene again, but
this time with more
agony on his unshaven

hot air balloon

you have been
talked into getting
onto a hot air balloon.
come on, she says,
it will be fun, it's
an adventure. you
aren't scared are
you? and you stand
back and survey
the giant balloon
with red and gold
stripes, green
bands of color. what
could possibly happen
to something that
looks like a
cartoon. and as you
climb aboard, and
it rises, and your
knees buckle and you
turn pale, soaked
in your own fearful
sweat, you can't
help but yell out
every now to the so
called captain, hey,
what the hell, look
out for those trees,
look out for those
power lines. cell
phone tower dead
ahead. it's a fun
ride for everyone.

he wants to talk

you get a call
from your old customer.
he wants to talk,
he wants you to stop
by. he's lonely.
he's slipping.
he doesn't need
work done, his house
is fine. it's been
repainted over and
over again, by you,
a dozen times.
but he wants you to
come by and take
a look, see if there
is anything that
needs painting and there
is nothing, as you
both stand back and look
from the perfect lawn,
in the pristine
driveway, or around
back close to
the glistening pool,
there is nothing
that needs one stroke
of a brush. so
you go inside and
he hands you a
bag of lightbulbs, a
cold beer and says
i have ladder,
can you change these
for me, please,
pointing at the dim
fixture, high on
the kitchen ceiling.
and so you do,
because you know that
one day, your time
will come along too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the sounds of silence

i was singing in
the shower the other
day, doing elvis,
love me tender,
and hound dog, but
occasionally breaking
into some james
brown, i feel good,
then b.b. king,
the thrill is gone,
and singing it all
in pretty good
form, with a little
air guitar going
on with my back
scrubber, when i hear
a loud knock at
the front door.
it's my neighbor,
that nosy glenda
and her stupid poodle,
Felicity, with
the police,
i crack open the
door and say, what?
what's up? thinking
that something
horrible has happened
out in the street,
and the cop says,
is everything okay
in there buddy?
your window was open
and it sounded like
someone was being
murdered. and i
say, no, that was
just me singing,
and the cop says, well,
try to keep it down,
you might be breaking
some sort of noise
ordinance or something.
i shake my head
and give glenda
the evil eye before
closing the door.
i go back up
to the shower,
turn the water on,
and climb back in.
i grab the soap,
and begin to softly
sing, hello darkness
my old friend, i've
come to talk with
you again....

the broken dish

it's just a plate,
but as it slips
from her hand
and in slow motion
tumbles over and
over in mid air,
from blue to white
then blue again,
before it strikes
the floor into
a hundred pieces,
there is a moment
of wonder in how
quickly things
turn and fall from
our grasps, take
love for instance.

Friday, July 15, 2011

feeding frenzy

i saw my friend
jimmy the other day
working part time
at starbucks. he's
a stock broker
during the day,
and sells real estate
on the side. what's
up, i asked him,
why are you working
here, what about your
other jobs, oh, and
leave me some room
for cream in that cup
of coffee, thanks.
jimmy shook his head,
and laughed, i've
been dating a lot,
he said, i'm on the
internet, doing the
online dating thing
ever since the wife
and i broke up. and how's
that going, i asked him,
oh, it's fun, big fun
he said, and gave me
a wink, but it's costing
me a mint. i'm broke
all the time, these
women eat and drink
for free, none of them
offer to pay or pick
up a tab, and if they
do, it's so rare, that
i'm embarrased by it.
as soon as they see
that check coming
they run to the bathroom,
or go outside to wait.
i mean what the hell
was all the equal rights
marching and bra burning
about all those years.
there's not a rosy
the riveter in the bunch.
sorry, i'm a little
worked up about this, but
do you know what four
drinks, a salad and a plate
full of calamari costs
these days, he handed
me my drink, it's hot
be careful, he said.
no, i said, what.
it's seventy-five bucks
with tip, and god
forbid they want a
full meal. multiply that
at four times a week.
not to mention the driving
and gas. last week
i circled the beltway
three times. whew.
i had to cut back on
my son's tuition,
pulled him out of
the university and put
him into the community
college. sold my car.
that's my vespa out
there in the parking lot.
i can't even
afford to take my
dog to the vet lately
and he's full of fleas,
scratching a hole
in his belly,
but hey, he said, i'm
having a lot of fun.
some really cute women
out there in the mix.
he made his eyebrows
jump up and down, but
they were twitching
out of sync.
i looked at him, he
was drawn and pale,
there was a hole
in his shirt and it
looked like he hadn't
shaved in a few days.
circles were under his
eyes. he leaned over
and wiped the counter
with a rag. i've got a
date when i get out
of here he said, she
wants to meet at
mortons. she wants
me to cowboy up and
buy her a steak, that's
what she told me.
what time do you have,
he asked. i had to
sell my watch.
tomorrow night
i'm meeting this nurse
from baltimore at
cafe milano's. he rolled
his eyes. stick with your
wife, he whispered,
between you and me,
it's tough out there,
i tell you, it's no
picnic, at least not
for us men. i nodded,
then stuffed a five into
the tip jar near the
register. see ya jimmy,
i said. take it easy.
i couldn't wait to
get home to hug my wife.


you remember
your mother
over the sink
another dish,
another pan,
rinsing out
a cup, a pot,
a baby bottle.
everything to
the side on
a cloth towel
to dry,
her hands
red from the hot
water, wiping
the tears
away and
her smiling,
saying go
to bed, go to
bed it's late.
i'm fine, okay,
then looking back
out the small
window for
your father, for
his car to arrive,
which never did.

the rockette

can you do
this, she says,
and kicks her leg
high over her
head like a
rockette in
the christmas
show at radio city,
she does
it again, and
again. her long
legs, one
at a time extended
and kicking
freely into
the air. she
is red faced
and sweating,
come on, she says,
you try it. you
can do it. i
don't think
we're a match,
you tell her,
cringing as you
bend over to pick
up a shiny quarter
you see lying on
the sidewalk.
i have to go home

world hunger

you buy a bag
of cookies,
you are starving,
not literally,
it's not like
your tongue has
turned black, but
you are extremely
hungry and you
understand that
there may really be
people starving in
the world, which
makes you feel bad,
but it sounds good
to say you're
starving, and it's
a good excuse to buy
a family sized bag of
chocolate chip cookies.
you are on a mission
to stop world
hunger, starting with
yourself. and what
about world thirst.
isn't that a problem
too, but it's a secret
problem i think, one
that no one talks
about, so you buy
some two percent milk
to help erradicate
that problem too.
you pour yourself
a cool tall glass,
and you snap open
the bag of cookies
with your teeth,
you take a drink,
you put a whole
cookie into your
mouth. world hunger,
world thirst. it's
a fine start.
what's next?

pull over

your creative license
has been revoked.
you've been pulled
over one too many
times under the influence
of women with bad
intentions. you've
been speeding,
gone off the road,
there is lipstick
on your breath, perfume
on your shirt. you're
being sent back
to relationship school,
with no contact
with the outside world
or pen to write with.
women are off limits
for thirty days. you
stand up and state
your name, step one,
you are no longer
in the game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the bridge

you wake up in
the morning, pack
a bag and start
driving. your life
is in front of you.
your life is behind
you. there is nothing
to stop you from
taking any road,
to go anywhere,
and yet, you only
get as far the bridge.
what's keeping you
here, what's
keeping you from
somewhere else? you
don't know, it's
so hard to understand
what lies we tell
ourselves to play
it safe, to keep
us from crossing
over to where we
need to be.

appointment south of the border

i'm going to
the doctor, she says,
the you know what
doctor, in the morning.
i have an appointment,
it's about, but you
stop her right there
and raise
your hand and say
loudly, la la la, la.
i don't want to know,
but it concerns you
too, she says,
and you say, i don't
really want to know,
and she says, but
it's about the problem
i was having with...
and once again you say,
no, please, stop,
and begin to whistle
loudly, watering
the plants about
the house.

the music

in the morning
as she wades
through the dream
of him, she
sees his fingers
moving up and down
the scales of
strings and she
hears the rolling
thump and plunk
of his bass guitar,
she is half
awake, as the cat,
their cat, hungry,
plows towards
her, his paws
against her back,
lying in the space
left empty and quiet,
and for a second,
she wonders, but no,
the music for both
so different now.

billboard in the sky

they have found
a way, with lights
and mirrors, to put
ads onto the surface
of the moon.
one hour it shines
bright and red
with the word 'nike'
emblazzoned onto
the ancient sun
baked dust,
and the next
'coca cola', tomorrow
'chevrolet' might
appear, then 'honda',
or 'rolaids'.
no longer
do we look up and
just see the flat
round mystery of a
white faced moon
hanging soulful
in the sky.
and the poets weep.
the lovers cry.

there are days

when the shoes you
wear feel best
left under the bed,
or on the shelf
not worn, tired
of the steps you
have chosen,
the paths and trails
that take you
and who you are
from your front door
and then home again.
some days, without
shoe, you'd like
to see the sun
rise, then set
without taking
a step in any
direction away
from home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the poet neva

she leans in
takes a drink of water
and begins
to read her poems.
her voice is soft
and clear, deliberate
finding the right
pause to step
towards the next
line, the next clean
word she has
carefully chosen.
she is precise.
each word a note,
each word carrying
a necessary
weight to give
balance and meaning
to the poem. no
comma or period is
wasted, or wanting.
she brings tears,
she brings joy,
and the slight
ethereal rise of
sweetness born
of age and living.

more roses

roses dying
in the dry
vase on
the hard table
where the light
is sparse
and the room
is empty
except for
you, minus me,
reflects less
on where we
are and more
on the fragility
of life
when the stem
is cut. at least
we still have
a chance
with more roses.


the small
trickle of blood
from carelessly
shaving in
the dark while
soaking in
the tub, will
follow you
the whole day.
what happened,
cut your
self shaving,
they will
ask, and you'll
nod and say yes
over and over


you move a chair
to the window,
take a picture
down, slide
the couch to
the other corner,
you buy one
new lamp, and
throw away a
you need a
change, but you
don't want
to move. you buy
a gallon
of red paint,
and hesitate,
you don't want
things to change
that much
and the same
goes for me
and you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ye olde sex shoppe

it's a late friday
night in old town,
alexandria, virginia
when your date, under
the silliness of wine
and wandering
says, let's pop in
there, this store here
between the icecream
shoppe and the card
shoppe and you say,
really, the sex shop,
you want to browse
the sex shop, and
she says it's called
ye olde sex shoppe,
are ye too old?
we're grown ups,
we're allowed,
it might be fun,
come on and she bounds
up the stairs. and
the store is packed
because it's the day
before valentine's
day, and it seems
that there is a run
on edible underwear,
and satin red costumes
not to mention
well produced high
brow movies with women
with names like jazzmin,
and bambilicious, and
sasha, and the men
with names like rock,
and steele, and
brad. and you see
the shark cages,
the monkey bars,
the leather, so much
plastic everything.
and you see your
neighbor joan who
teaches third grade
at the local
elementary school
with a shopping cart.
seems she need a
new pair of thigh
high leather boots
and a quart of
eco friendly
massage oil and a
riding crop. she
says hello, adjusts
her glasses and
quickly moves on
towards the dungeon
aisle and where there's
mr. feeny, a deacon
at the church buying
a mask, a studded
collar and a leash.
it's dizzying,
and you ask
your friend if she
needs anything,
because you are
suddenly sweating
and you want to go.
no, she says, i'll
come back later when
i'm alone, it's hard
to shop when i'm
with someone, and
i say, i know what
you mean. i'm
the same way when
i'm shopping for
groceries, which
head of lettuce
to buy, they all
look the same.

a strange ride

while you ride
the subway
to work, holding
onto the strap
as the car
swerves and sways
along the track,
the flicker
of lights,
the tunnel then
sudden brightness,
you see no
difference in
dreaming and being
awake, both
a strange ride
through time.


my therapist
told me to paint
she said,
staring at her
hands, the long
splattered with
browns and blacks,
deep blues.
he said that it
would relieve
the tension of
my marriage,
my job, and children,
that by creating
something i could
get outside my
self. what do you
think, she said,
and pointed
at the dozens
of canvasses leaning
against her
bedroom wall.
they were circles
and circles of
black and brown,
deep blue, spirals,
whirpools, drains
of utter
darkness. i don't
think it's working,
i told her.

summer streams

in the hollows
of summer
where the stream
like an after
thought of low
moving slowly
a larger home,
and the children
out of school
wading in
the hours
of a warm july,
on their bikes,
to the pool,
brown skinned
and blonde
so unaware of
this beginning
of their lives,
them too moving
closer to
a larger body
of water.

notes to myself

these slips
of paper
with names
and numbers
dates and times,
are snow
piles in my
driveway. but
they have
kept the winter

Monday, July 11, 2011

moving violation

she's unsafe
at any speed,
curve after
curve of her,
a hard road
with soft
turns, she's
a moving
violation when
she walks down
the street,
a blue
highway, the
road taken
when you're in
no rush to get
where you
want to go.

enjoy the lake

you live
on a corner
where it's easy
for people
to slow down
and yell out
for directions
while you're cutting
the grass or
watering the roses,
and you tell
them all the same
thing, make
a left at the light,
go past the water
tower, the gas
station, and then
you'll see a sign
saying, lake,
no littering, or
swimming after
dark. take that
road, but go
slow and easy,
there's lots
of deer. you tell
them this not
it's the right
way to go, but
because you want
them to see
the lake and have
an enjoyable
ride with a view
before they
get unlost and
go on their way.

the nail

you step
on a nail,
but somehow
you feel it
go through your
shoe, your
sock and just
the bottom of
your foot.
the skin not
pricked or
before stepping
fully down
into the spike.
but you're fine.
and as you take
your shoe off
to pull the nail
out, you imagine
that you might
have an insight
into the nature
of things, but
you don't, you
still are
about blind luck,
the mercy of God,
or maybe perhaps
it just isn't
your turn, yet.

i want a cowboy

i want to marry
a cowboy
she says while
on a martini
at cafe deluxe
with three
bags of new
clothes at
her side
from nordstroms.
she looks off
into the distance,
her eyes narrowing,
as if she can see
montana, or someplace
like that.
the praire dogs,
and tumbleweed.
a cowboy, huh,
i say to her.
so you want to ride
the range,
sleep out under
the stars and eat
beans around
the campfire
with your new
marlboro man?
no, she says,
don't be insane.
i want to marry
the idea of what
a cowboy is.
strong, independent,
unafraid, and
yet appreciative
of a good woman.
a straight shooter.
quit rolling your
eyes, she says,
don't make fun of me,
then smooths on
another slick
coat of cherry red
lipstick onto
her puckered lips.
giddyup i tell her.
i have a good biscuit
and gravy recipe
i could give you.
maybe you could put
it in your saddlebag.

the hat

she shows up
in a hat.
a little alpine
hat, without
the feather,
not unlike
the frank sinatra
hat that he'd
wear when
recording in
the wee wee
hours for capitol
records, or
pehaps bing
crosby singing
white christmas
in a plaid coat
on t.v., but this
woman has
the same hat on
as she walks
through the bar.
she needs
a briefcase,
or an umbrella,
to complete the look.
but it's very hip
and cool, and
all the kids
are wearing them
in adams morgan,
or up by the zoo.
it's neither bad
nor good,
but very interesting
how she gets
away with it,
and never takes
it off.

the soft earth

how the birds
lean against
the wind, a wing
up or down
to glide
them towards a
branch, or point
upon the ground,
they have no
place to go,
but where they
are, no worry
in tomorrow, no
sense of yesterday.
how soft the earth
is after it rains,
and full of life,
is all they need
to know today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

it reminds me of you

the weather,
those clouds,
that roll of thunder
in the distant
the way the rain
falls into puddles
on the dark
summer street,
reminds me
of you, of us,
of when we were
in love last
year. and that wad
of gum, that you
chewed, spearmint,
our favorite,
then stuck to the bed
post, that too
reminds me of
you, and those shoes
under my bed, not
yours, but someone
else's, well, guess
what, yup, they
too remind me of
you, but not so
much because your
feet were rather
large and those
black stiletto
heels are only
a petite size two,
but still they remind
me of you.

the idea of love

in a bar, late
at night, drinking
scotch i hear
my friend jimmy
say, i want to get
married again. i
really do. he's
not exactly divorced
yet because the lawyers
haven't quite hit
rock bottom with
his bank account,
but he's eager
for the next one,
the next soul
mate, love of his
life. and i say,
but why? your marriage
was a sham. it was
twenty five years
of misery. she hated
you, you hated
her. you took
separate vacations
slept in separate
rooms and she
cheated and lied
to you for years.
and now she is going
to take half of
every penny you
ever earned, not
to mention get alimony
for life.
what's the rush on
the next marriage?
and he says, i don't
know. i like
the romance of it all.
i think that the next
one will be different.
i'll get it right
this time. i like
the idea of being
in love, and bonded
with someone.
bartender, you yell
out, two more scotches
please, and some

doctor's visit

you've resisted
going for so long,
but there you
sit, naked with
a little apron
around you
on a cold examining
table reading
an issue of family
circle from
nineteen ninety eight,
may and the doctor comes
in with a chart
that you filled out.
and the doctor
says, so what's
the problem, what
brings you in here
today. and you say
no reason in
particular. i'm
eating and sleeping
well, everything
seems to be
functioning fine,
i'd just like to be
about twenty
years younger,
you tell him. i'm
losing some lift on
my jump shot, there
has been some hair
loss as you can see,
and i can only go
maybe twice a night,
sometimes only once
if it's someone i've
been dating for
a long time.
and i get indigestion
on occasion
when i eat spicy
food. can you help
me out. he takes
his glasses off
and sighs. what's
wrong with you, he
says, there are
real sick people
out there in that
waiting room who
need me, and you
are sitting here
whining about nothing.
get dressed and
get out of my
office. you will
be charged for
this visit. so, you've
got nothing for
me, you say, but
he's already out
of the room, the
door slamming behind
him. hey, you tried.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

two birds

i want a parrot
your wife tells
you while lying in
bed. i'm lonely.
but we just had
sex, i tell her.
i'm your husband
and you want to
replace me with
a bird. no, she
says, lighting
a cigarette and
blowing the smoke
towards the ceiling.
i want someone i
can talk to. and
what do you call
this, aren't we
having a conversation
now. yes, she says.
but i can control
a parrot, teach it
what to say, and
to say it on cue.
you've lost your
mind i tell her
and put a pillow
behind my head. i
want to hear that
i'm loved, and
worshiped, that i'm
adored. you never
tell me those things,
you never want to
talk about things,
about my mother,
or the holidays,
or where we're
going on vacation,
you never open up,
she says, sucking
the life out of that
cigarette. you know
what, i tell her.
get the bird. get
two in fact, one
for you and one
for me, but get me
the kind that can't
talk. okay?


she tells me
that she has to
get up early
in the morning, so
she needs to call
it a night, i'm sorry
she says, but i'm
working at the
farmer's market
tomorrow and we
have a new shipment
of tomatoes
coming in that have
to be stacked. i
have to be there
at five a.m.
to unload the trucks,
set up the table
and that sort of thing.
tomatoes, i say.
you have to go
home because of
tomatoes. hmmm. that's
a first. plum tomatoes,
or on the vine?
a variety, she says
smiling. i may
use that from time
to time if you
don't mind. no, not
at all, she says,

one small scoop

how much
icecream can
you eat, she
asks me
as i lick
another cone.
a lot, i tell
her, a lot.
you should try
one. what's
your favorite
flavor? vanilla,
she says, one
small scoop in
a bowl will
do for me.
no sprinkles,
no chocolate,
no toppings,
no cherry on top.
and i shake my,
head, we're
doomed, i tell
her. doomed.

the nurse

she was an
unregistered nurse
who liked to
walk around in white
shoes and a white
dress, carrying
a little black
bag with a cross
on it. she was
crazy as they come,
but a lot of fun
when i was feeling
blue and needed
some of her
bedside manner.
i heard that she
was arrested a few
years ago for
writing bad checks
and stealing
money out of other
people's accounts,
i always wondered
why my bank
statement seemed
a little low
after she'd pay
me a visit for
a checkup.


the fields full
of young men
in hats and cleats,
the cut grass and
dragged infields
of soft tan dirt
under the wide
arc of lights.
and the parents
in the bleachers,
on the side hills
with dogs and
children, grand
parents watching
the movement of
youth, of sweet memory
so quickly gone.
summer is a cut
melon, juicy and
red. ripe with
promise. take a big
fat bite and let
it run and drip
down your chest
it will not last
forever, but for now
it is everything.

Friday, July 8, 2011

the final frontier

if it doesn't rain,
and it's not too
windy and there
aren't too many
birds in the sky,
today will be
the final voyage
of our one and only
space craft.
no more space
shuttle, what will
we do now? how
will we fend off
those martians
in their sleek
disc like ships
sailing at light
speeds in and out
of our galaxy
like birds
through the trees.
but the shuttle
is limping
out, like grandma
waiting for the rain
to stop before
she can go to
the store to get
a can of tuna,
circling the earth,
barely above
the outer rim of air,
coughing and losing
shingles, round
and round she goes,
looking for a soft
place to land
her ample tush.

blackbirds on a wire

you spend
the day counting
on a wire.
you are distracted
by something
you can't
put your finger
on. so you sit
at your kitchen
table, coffee
in hand, and watch
the birds fly
and dip down
in a straight
line, staring in
at you, as you
stare out at
them. they are as
black as if
they had flown
out of a lake
of oil. gleaming
wet with blackness.
at some point
you'll answer
the phone that
keeps ringing
and ringing and

sailing the equator

you want your
mother to be more
like your father,
more aloof and
unreachable, but
friendly and
conversational too.
more superficial
basing every
conversation on
a thin news related
event, or the weather.
how about that wind?
no need to dig deep,
or to talk about our
lives, let's just
keep it clean
and simple. and
you want your father
to be more like
your mother, asking
questions, asking
how's your life,
your work, your
money. are you sleeping
and eating well.
tell me about your
love life. but no.
they are at opposite
poles and i am
sailing the equator.

everything but love

at the door.
for life insurance,
lawn services,
and girl scout
the bell rings
and rings.
dog walkers,
church members,
termite inspectors,
someone wanting
or just the time.
and mulch.
someone needs
to use your phone.
another wants
to buy or sell
your house.
when was the last
time you had
your furnace
they come
for everything,
but love.
that's a whole
other door
to knock on.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the pool

i can't
go to the small
pool anymore.
too many
kids, with
mouths half
open, leaning
sideways, quietly
gazing at a spot
about ten feet
away after
drinking perhaps
their third
sixteen ounce
soda and now
chest high
in the water.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yo D

i was out back the other
day, trimming some bushes
with a hack saw, getting
ready for my annual summer
party, when i saw
my new neighbor hanging
sheets on the line.
it was the dalai lama.
since the economy went
bust he hasn't been getting
the love donations like
he did in the past and is
now in the townhouse next
to mine. Yo, D, i yelled
out to him. how do you
get keep those sheets
so orange and bright,
what's your secret and
he smiled and nodded. they
are not sheets, they are
my robes and i wash them
down in the creek against
the rocks. my bad, i said.
but they really look good.
you are so off the chain
with this ecology thing,
aren't you? really cool.
i should start washing my
clothes in the creek too.
by the way, i'm having
a party tonight if you'd
like to stop by.
should be some hot babes
showing up, umm,
you okay with that?
yes, he said and nodded,
his brown shaved head
gleaming in the sunlight.
i mean, i'm good no mattter
what. i'm not saying you're
light in the loafers or
anything, but there should be
some nice dudes there as
well. whatever floats
your boat. anyway.
i'm grilling out, so what
do you want. steak, burgers,
dogs, maybe something soy
or hummus. i've got a mean
soy burger recipe that i
found on epicurious dot
com. taste like the real
deal. what time, he said
as he clipped the last
clothes pin to the line
hanging his sheets.
eight o'clock i told him.
bring those little finger
cymbals, or your sitar
if you want. i've got
some bongos over here
if you want to get a little
crazy. chicks dig live music.
he nodded again and smiled.
i will try to come,
he said. hey, one more thing,
i yelled over the fence,
do you need a belt or
something, i have an extra
one, i always see you
with that rope
wrapped around you.
a belt might work a little
better. just saying.
whatever. okay D, i'll
see you later. i need to
get back in to marinate
some chicken. hey, are
you okay, with beer,
a pitcher of sangria maybe.
yes, he said, and
bowed before going into
his house. sweet, i said.

social networking

i met my
lifecoach in
line at starbucks.
she was standing
behind me
multi-tasking on
her i pad, i phone,
texting on her
and reading a
book while ordering
coffee and running
in place with her
three year old
adopted son,
vladimir from
the ukraine.
i ask her how she does
it all, get so
much done in a
single moment.
and she winks at
me, meet you outside
when i get my grande
soy skim
without foam extra
hot double cup
latte. i can help
you, she says, no
need to be such
a loser your entire
life, and i say but
i'm not a loser while
dripping hot coffee
onto my white t-shirt.
and she puts her
fingers to my lips,
shush, she says,
meet you outside.
i can help you.
you need to live more
social, and you say
what the hell does
that mean? shhh, she
says, outside.
so we met outside
and she says, tell
me about your face
book page, how many
friends do you have?
three so far, you
tell her, and one person
who died recently,
but i've only been
on for a year and i
have two more that
haven't confirmed
yet. i expect to get
more when i go to my
highschool reunion
next week.
she takes a look at
my phone, you
have nothing scheduled,
you have no apps,
she says, and you
show her your hands.
my fingers are too fat,
you tell her. see.
it's hard to press
just one key at a time.
what about groupon,
she says, stretching
her arms over head,
no, i'm worried
about the mercury.
groupon, she says
loudly, not grouper.
and twitter, please
tell me that you twitter.
i don't understand
twitter, you tell
her as she begins to
run in place,
with vladamir picking
up the pace, she's
typing everything
into her phone.
i'm tweeting
right now, she says,
telling all my friends
about you. look, how
old are you buddy?
my real age or my
internet dating age?
and she says, your
real age, so i tell
her and she sighs.
it might be too
late for you, but hey,
keep your chin up. i
took your picture
and will post it onto
my website to use you
as an example in
order to help
others change their
lives. it was nice
meeting you. i have
to get V to daycare.
bye. and as she runs
off i notice a long
strand of toilet paper
stuck to the bottom
of her running shoes,
but i decide not
to tell her.

the fight in you

your cat
lying on his
back with paws
like a boxer's
gloves, held
chin high
to protect
the jab, the
hook, or upper
cut. his one
eye closed,
another fight
in some alley,
you suppose.
but you love
this cat,
the fight in him,
shadows in
his dreams, while
you do like wise
in your narrow
bed near a
window, where
sunlight signals
another round
to begin.

i'm sorry but

i can't explain
my behavior
to you. it would
take too long,
it would take
you down a road
you don't want
to go, or know,
so let's just say
i'm working on
things, okay?
let it go at


you fall asleep
in her arms.
and you dream.
you awaken
and she's still
there. this
you because
usually it's
the other way
around, with
the window
open, the door
and a body of
in the place
where she once

Monday, July 4, 2011

boom boom boom

i like the blue
ones you hear
someone say,
and the red
ones too, but
the blue ones
are my favorite.
oh look at that.
did you see that?
and you say yes,
i'm looking
in the same exact
direction that
your are. i saw
that, and the
one before it too.
i'm sweating and my
neck hurts.
someone's dog is
licking my leg.
oh, wow.
those green ones
are nice too,
the way they hang
in the air like
icicles or
something green,
maybe some sort
of plants. are you
grouchy, she says.
oh, look at that,
one right after
the other.
i like when they go
real real fast at
the end, she says,
the climax. boom
boom boom, yes,
me too, i say.
the ending is always
good. are we still
talking about
the fireworks? i ask
her. sort of,
i think so, she
says, giving me a
wink. do you have cold
beer in the fridge
at your house, you
ask. hmmm hmmm, she
says, and pie.
blueberry crumb pie
with little american
flags stuck in it.
vanilla icecream too.
okay, let's go now,
i tell her. let's
beat the traffic.
love the red ones.
ooooh, did you see
that? you missed it.
the best one yet.
it looked exactly
like george washington's
head, or maybe
martha's, hard to
tell in the smoke.
wait for me, she yells.
i can't run in
these flipflops.

the difference between men and women

she sends you
a note.
thanks, she says.
thanks a lot.
and you respond
back, for what,
what did i do.
and she says,
thanks for
forgetting my
birthday, again.
i've known
you for five years
and i've never
ever forgotten
yours, and
you say ah oh
and clear your
throat, and
start pacing
the room. you
have no excuse
other than that
you are forgetful
and have no
memory for
birthdays, or
or other important
calendar events.
you would even
forget christmas
if not for
the tree and lights,
and constant
ringing of
the bell out in
front of the
grocery stores.
how can i make
it up to you, you
ask her, i can
send you a pony
in the mail. no
thanks she says,
i still have
the one you sent
last year.
think bigger.

cats in space

i read
perhaps in
the dwindling
thread bare
pages of the post
that more money
is spent on
cat food in
this country
than on the space
program. it's
hard to come
to terms with
that, or understand
quite what
it means, but
we should
combine the two.
send cats up
into orbit. why
only dogs,
and chimps
and people, throw
in a mouse
or two as well,
let's keep
the program going.

sunday morning

coffee grounds
and egg
shells, orange
peels, the butter
left out,
and toast crumbs,
a pan on
the stove, dishes
in the sink,
the debris
of breakfast
left for
later, much later,
let's go
to the couch,
no need to
rush off, is there?
let's talk
or kiss this out.

the contest

you enter
the hot dog
eating contest
because you want
to prove something
to your new
love, you want
to show her
how strong
and powerful
you are, the skills
that you possess.
you want to woo her
into, well, i
think you know
what i mean, yes?
but you can only
eat two hot dogs
with relish
and mustard on
a potato roll bun,
before passing out.
maybe you should
have skipped on
the chips, and soda,
and potato salad,
they may have
helped fill you
up so soon. and as
you lie there
under the picnic
table you can
see her shaking
her head at
you groaning with
mustard all over
your shirt. the
least she could
do is shoo away
the flies.

missing pages

i set those
flower out
for you.
put them in
a crystal vase
beside the window,
on the piano
where you sat
and played.
i see your
long fingers
pressing against
the keys.
your eyes are
your music,
your kisses are
missed, there
are pages missing
from this symphony.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

a place without traffic

there is no
life on mars,
but wouldn't
it be nice
to get away
where there is
no traffic
or lines. of
course the lack
of air,
and the heat,
and the wind
storms could
cause some
but it might
be worth
trip. but
on second
thought, perhaps
iowa would
be more
practical and
closer. i love
corn and
could learn
to ride a tractor,
or even a
horse with all
that extra time.


she wants you
to fix her wall
paper, the edges,
are brittle and hard,
split from top
to bottom up
the staircase.
it's a gold flock
design with crests
and medallions
that needed
heavy clay paste
to get it to stick.
it's impossible to
fix thirty years
later. she is
in a wheel chair
and has a crank
attached to a
rail to haul her
up the stairs.
please, she says,
i need to sell this
house, my husband
died seven years
ago. please, try
to fix it. but you
tell her it's
it just won't work.
and she begins
to cry. and i
know that it's not
about the wallpaper,
it's more. it's
the age she has
become, alone in
that house, so much
of her life, now
brittle and hard,
unfixable. and so,
i get a ladder,
i get my tools.
i try.

take a peek, but don't look back

you find
the old photo
album under
the bed where
the tumble weed
dust rolls
the hardwood
floor. coyote
would be right
at home under there.
you really
need to get a
maid at some
point, or move.
but you
find an album and
wipe the dust
off. it's
filled with
the photos, when
you were married,
when you had
hair, when you
were young and
stupid as opposed
to now, older
and more stupid.
it seems longer
than ten
or twelve, or
fifteen years since
they were taken.
your son in a batman
costume, your ex
wife with that
constant frown,
so much distance
between then and
now. uncountable
and surprising miles.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

relatives in town

your sister
pulls up in her
minivan with
luggage on the roof
and the kids in back.
two of them are
strapped into gooey
child seats
and the other one
is bouncing a ball
against the inside
of the windshield.
she recently lost her
job and broke
up with her drunk
husband, larry
the pharmacist,
and she wants
to stay for awhile.
sort things out.
it was all in the email
that i got the other
day. i need to update
my spam filters.
she beeps her horn
before coming to the door,
ringing the bell
and knocking
with the knocker.
hey, are you home,
are you in there? she
yells. you are, but you
are lying on the floor
with the lights
off, peering
out the bottom
of the last
slat in the venetian
blinds. you hold
your breath, slow
down your breathing
so that she
can't hear you.
then you hear
a ball bounce and
you turn around,
it's her older
kid with the ball
standing in
the doorway. he came
through a window
in the kitchen.
what are you doing
uncle jimmy, he
asks, why are you
lying on the floor?
he throws the ball
at you, and says
catch right before
it goes through
the window.

just one bite, that's all

she doesn't
want dessert,
i'm full,
she'll say and sit
back in her chair,
but when
the flourless
waffle cake, with
whipped cream
and a cherry on
top, arrives,
she'll smile
and say, oh my,
and lean forward.
she'll take
a spoon, reach
across the table
and dig into
the dish, just a
bite, she'll say,
one bite, okay,
just a tiny tiny
bite, yum,
that's good,
maybe one more.
do you want
the cherry?
why are you laughing,
she asks, as you
hand her a napkin
to get the chocolate
off her chin.

Nick's Cowboy Bar

black and white
cowboy hats,
and snakeskin boots,
the big trucks
with american flag
decals, spit
polished bumpers
high on their
wheels parked
out front,
and jeans
so tight
they look
painted on
and string
ties and
white dresses,
with ribbons
and bows,
cut off shorts
and plaid shirts,
a loud garage band
with a twang,
drinking while
they play.
beards and mustaches,
girls with big hair.
and the place
smells of beer
of rum and coke,
and fried
food, as the crowd
dances in
set lines, clicking
their heels, clapping
their hands in
unison, and spinning,
dipping into a tin
of chew, a little
doesy doe here,
and a howdy mamm there
under a sagging
string of scattered
party lights.
get along little
doggies. yee haw.
and when the
band plays a drum
roll then strikes up
the star spangled
banner, everyone
stands silently,
facing the stage
with sombered respect,
they take off their
hats and put their
hands on their
hearts. twenty
minutes from dc.
seven dollar cover.
bring a friend.

Friday, July 1, 2011

internet date number 471

she pulls a knife
on you, the very first
date and says,
stay back, don't
touch me, i don't
even know you. and
you say, hey, i was
just giving you
a hug goodbye. relax.
but she keeps the knife
up in the air.
it catches the reflection
of the pale full
moon above the almost
deserted parking lot
and the taco bell sign
across the street.
a styro foam box
containing her half
eaten salmon salad
that she said was too
salty is in her other
hand. you say, excuse
me, you have a little
bit of crab avocado
dip on your blouse,
she looks down and tries
to flick it off with
the tip of the blade,
but it's dried solid.
crap, she says, i just
bought this too,
then backs away slowly
until she bumps
into her car.
she clicks the key fob
to open the door,
the knife still
raised high in her
trembling hand.
call me she says
as she slides into her
seat. it was fun,
my treat next time.
give me ten minutes
to drive away and don't
try to follow me.
she rolls the window
down two inches.
i'm sorry about
the knife, she says.
i'm not really a mean
person. i don't
think i could
really stab anyone.
you seem like a
nice guy. it's cool,
you tell her, let's
talk soon, text me
next week, and wave
goodbye as she slams
the door and hits
the gas out
of the parking lot
the styro foam box
tumbling across
the roof of her car,
a half eaten slab
of salmon stuck
to the back window.

posted speed, none

no shoes
no shirt
no service.
strict rules
i cannot obey.
no parking.
no smoking.
HOV lanes,
no hanging on
the rope.
the park
closes at
it's so rare
you ever
see the sign
like the one
above your
bed that says
do whatever
you want. how

unhappy hour

this need
for confession
by others
prompts you
to put a
booth in your
house. it's
dark and musty
like you
remember, there
is virtually
no light
until the mesh
screen slides
open. you
whisper, please
begin. you post
your hours
on the internet.
you offer wine
and small
snacks when it's
over. it's
an unhappy hour.

blue volkswagon

as your car
stalls and dies
and you manage
to get it to
side of the road
close to guard
rail, and the other
cars and trucks
roar by you,
each rush of wind
a reminder of
how we are all mere
inches from
death, you remember
the time jenny's
blue volkswagon
did the same
exact thing and
how she laughed
and said that
she hated this
car, let's get out
and walk. just
leave it and so
you did. but you
don't do it this
time. you were
younger then, and
falling and staying
in love
was easy, but
things have changed.
you could never
leave the car now.

jane 101

jane is in love.
she's always
in love, so it
seems. she
never falls too
hard, or too far,
or breaks a wing
when it ends
abruptly or
with a whimper,
her resiliency
should be taught
in a class called
life and love
by jane. it
would be an
honors course,
of course and would
help millions.