Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the swimmer

you remember
the boy, donny,
may have been his
name, jumping feet
first into
the pool and sinking
quickly
to the bottom
of the deep end
while you treaded
water right
above him. he couldn't
swim, but he
didn't care, or
so it seemed.
and when they pulled
him up, blue
as the june sky,
his freckles
dulled by near
death, they
laid him on the side
and pumped
the water from
his pale body.
and when he awoke
he looked over
at you, with his
gap toothed smile
and said, i told
i you i could swim.

keys

this key fits
and turns
the lock. it
has the shine
of being new.
the other keys
i don't know
for sure where
they have
come from, or
to which door
they belong.
but still,
despite not
using them
for so long,
i can't
throw them
into a drawer,
just yet.

forever young

these lines
cross stitched
across your brow
and finely
creased around
your lips
and eyes mean
nothing.
that ceaseless
turn of
the clock
and turning
of calendar
pages have
no hold on you.
you have long ago
found the age
that you will
always be, and
no dimming
light will
discourage
you from thinking
anything
different.

hurricane sandwich

you call
your father who
is eighty-three
and who sailed
the north
atlantic
for thirty odd
years. you can
see on tv
that the hurricane
is centered now
over where he
lives, and he
answers the phone
with a bouyant
hello, how the hell
are you. he has
no power and
is sitting
in the dark
eating a sandwich
by flashlight, he's
perusing the tv
guide to see
what's on when
the power returns.
the wind is
shaking the house
and slapping
the trees against
his windows. rain
is pummeling
the roof. i've
seen worse he
says, a lot
worse, so what's
the weather like
up there?

sixty watts

as you
turn the bulb
in place
bringing
a hundred
watts of
light to
the room
and mirror
on the far
wall, you
see quickly
the error
of your ways,
and turn in
a sixty
before
the other
one gets
too hot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

birds in the park

there are free
cookies
at the front
of the store.
stale sugar
cookies, one
per customer,
but most are taking
two or three,
some four and
one for their
purse or
pocket. then
they hit the
cheese samples,
then off to the bread
plate, the meat,
a chunk or two
of melon,
some pineapple too.
all free, with
little toothpicks
stuck into
the chopped slices
of whatever
is given away.
they move easily
down the aisles
putting little
into their carts,
then circling
back for seconds,
or thirds,
like birds hovering
near park
benches awaiting
the tossed crumbs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

speechless

having lost your voice
from singing too
long and hard
in the shower each
day, you gesture now
and write notes.
it's not such a
bad thing after all.
you've found a way
to avoid boring
conversations, and
meaningless chit
chat. you make a
hundred small cards
with the words,
i can't talk, on
them, and hand them
out like candy.
people are quite
nice and sympathetic
but quickly exhausted
with trying to
communicate with you.
you smile a lot
and nod as they
speak loudly to you,
thinking that you
are not only
speechless but
suddenly deaf
and stupid too. but
that's okay, you
understand, and
play along.

in the window

i see you in
the window,
without clothes
waving to me
standing
in the snow,
awaiting
the late train.
your skin is
porcelain
with black hair.
and flushed
cheeks.
you are not shy
about anything,
are you?

holidays

the bags
of halloween
candy
are out on
the shelves.
next to
the christmas
lights,
and easter
bunnies,
and flags for
the fourth
of july.
it has all
run together
now like
an aisle
spilled
holidays.
turkeys
and fireworks,
togther,
why wait.

the ghost

the spirit
that lives in
your house
and walks
about at night,
has become
annoying.
waking you up
at all hours,
rattling about
in her chains,
singing, and
whispering
into your ear
certain things
you'd rather
not know, prefer
not to hear.
she floats
just above
the floor in
white,
neither angel
or demon,
but something
else,
someone dead
and gone,
and now trying
to set things
right.

what isn't

as the baby
cries
and the mother
holds
him tight,
her eyes
fixed on
a point unseen,
and the train
sways
along the track
while daylight
recedes
with winter
coming on,
and everyone
holding tight
to the overhead
straps, all is
never what
it seems, no
matter how
hard you try
to make sense
of it all.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

the red hat

i see your hat
fly loose
on the wind, a
red blot against
a grey sky,
sailing towards
a roiling sea.
it rises and falls
like a stringless
kite, while
your arm, still
extended, is
hoping for some
other fate than
what will come.

the pear tree

under the forgotten
pear tree
that sits shadowed
in the far corner
of the bricked
yard. tired of
pears. done with
the fruit it
bears year in
year out, without
fail, but still
you go to sit
there to read,
setting pears
aside with a new
book, another
life unfolding
as yours keeps
onward as it is.
the same fruit,
neither too bitter
nor too sweet.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

secret stones

each day
the dog
would find
a stone,
small, or large
and carry
it into
the house
in it's mouth.
his eyes
shifting from
side to side,
as if he
a secret.
he'd bury
it in a corner,
beneath a
pillow on
the couch,
or in a closet
tucked deep
behind old
shoes. he
loved old
stones.
full of mud
and salt,
whether smooth
or rough, it
made no
difference.
and in doing
so i learned
how much
alike we were.

Friday, August 26, 2011

hurricane survival list

grey goose,
two martini
glasses,
crumbled ice,
silver shaker,
apple schnapps,
small sliced
wedges of one
ripened
green apple,
cinammon sugar
to dip glass
rims into.
books,
magazines.
bread, milk,
butter,
blueberries.
large chocolate
cake.
batteries,
popcorn,
water,
gum.
flashlights.
canoe.
paddles.
fishing rod.
worms.
flippers,
air tanks.
stilts.
speargun.
megaphone.
candles
and matches.
premade
sub sandwiches
on italian
rolls, but
hold the mayo.
chips with
a bag clip.
transistor
radio.
butterknife,
spoon, fork.
hot coffee
in a thermos.
half and half.
packets of
splenda.
neosporin.
cowbell.

blue monday

blue monday
is followed quickly
by tantalizing
tuesday
and wicked
wednesday. that's
when you
come over. and
then there's
tease thursday
because you
are waiting on
frantic friday,
and sizzling
saturday,
sunday is saved
for reptenance,
which once again
is followed
by blue monday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

icecream makes everything better

you seem angry,
you've been very
quiet, lately. is
there something
wrong? no, nothing.
i'm not angry,
i'm just cold
and aloof, there's
a difference. so
this is more of
a passive aggressive
stance you are taking,
yes? well, sort of.
it's easier this
way. i don't like
to rant and rave
anymore and throw
dishes. it takes
too much energy
to yell and scream.
yes, i've
noticed that we
have more dishes
on the shelf these
days. so what are
you angry, i mean,
cold and aloof
about? is it
something i did,
or didn't do, did
i forget your
birthday, our
anniversary? please,
tell me. it
doesn't matter. if
i have to tell
you, it shows
that you aren't in
touch with our
relationship and
that maybe we
shouldn't even be
together. hmmm. okay.
well, listen, i'm
going out for some
icecream, care
to go, or i could
pick something up
for you. well, i
guess i could go with
you, but don't talk
to me, okay. sure.
it's a deal. how long
will you be doing
this? i'm not sure,
maybe a few days,
maybe just today.
can we go to dairy
queen. sure. why not?

i live to dance

dancing is my
life, she says,
with expressive eyes,
and open arms,
i live to dance.
to move my feet,
to hear the music
and let my body
find it's poetic
self in the beauty
of movement. and
you, what about
you, she asks me,
her face aglow,
her arms and
shoulders swaying
while she thinks
about dancing. me,
i say, i like
a nice slice of
cake, and then
a long long nap.

that's the story

there is no
such thing as
santa claus
your mother tells
you on the phone
during your sunday
call. this comes
out of nowhere.
she has been
slowly losing
her mind for
sometime now.
there is no easter
bunny, she continues,
there is no pot
of gold at the end
of any rainbow. no
tooth fairy, or
wishes that will
come true when
you find a shooting
star or blow
out your birthday
candles,
there is no
magic wand, no
angels coming
to save you
gathered on
the head of a pin.
there's no bad
luck, there is
no good luck,
so straighten
up sonny boy.
there's hard
work, and maybe
a long life
followed by death.
that's it, that's
the whole story.

off the chain

as the dog
breaks
free and runs
from it's
cruel master,
his chain
behind him,
over the fence
the wall,
through
the open streets
until he
hits the field
where no
one will catch
him, you
ponder, how
long will
you too,
stay put.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

fried chicken

yes, i'll have
a number three.
spicy, all
dark meat, please.
extra crispy.
fries
and slaw, a coke.
to go.
no white meat,
yes, fries,
no, a coke,
yes, with ice,
spicy, yes. no,
all dark meat.
yes, crispy. no
tray, thank you.
to go. i want
to take this
all away
in a bag.
to go. a coke.
right. no
beans, no rice,
slaw, and fries.
yes. but only
dark meat, no
wings, no
breasts. just dark
meat. please.
to go. i'm
very hungry,
i don't care
anymore, just
put something into
the bag and take
my money before
i pass out.
adios.

bird flying into window

this bird
upon the pavement
outside
my window.
quiet
and bloodless,
but still
and showing
a softness
that only death
can bring.
and the pane
cracked, with
a small
bullet like hole,
where the beak
struck. what
moral, what
lesson
in such things,
i'm not sure,
but give me
time, let me
fix a stiff drink,
get the broom
and a dustpan,
and i'll think
of one.

tunnel of sleep

done with
what the day
has brought you,
without clothes
you fall
towards the bed,
into the tunnel
of white sheets
and sleep,
down to
center of dreams
that aren't
dreams at all,
but the life
you lead,
when not awake.
sometimes the lines
of both are
blurred.

the daily news

because i stopped
listening
to the news,
buying newspapers,
and calling my
mother on
sundays, i
missed the last
five world
catastrophes
and stock
market collapses.
but saved a lot
of cash on
heart burn pills
and aspirin.
what hurricane?

simplify

i've simplified
my life.
sold my car.
threw my
phone into
the river.
dropped my
computer out
the window.
but now i
don't go any
where, and
can't call out
for pizza. or
have ginger
come over
to scratch
my back. i
miss my
complicated
life.

post card from south beach

she moved
to florida
because it was
too cold here.
the snow
and ice in
february was
too much for
her to take.
she gave
me her snow
shovel and
her bag of
salt before
she left.
it had
nothing to
do with me.
honest. i got
a postcard
from her
just the other
day. she's
living with
raul in
south beach,
but she's
worried now
about hurricane
irene and
wondering if
maybe she should
come back
and live with
me again.
no.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

earthquake

did you feel
that, she says,
tapping me on
the shoulder, no,
what, why are
you waking me
up? i was taking
a nap and was in
the middle of
a wonderful dream.
we just had
an earthquake,
five point nine
on the richter
scale. end of
the world? no,
she says, throwing
a pillow at me,
but there could
be aftershocks.
i was in the middle
of shaving my legs
and nicked myself.
see. i look at
the trickle of blood.
people are in
the streets,
evacuating
the buildings,
coming home early
from work. it's
a small panic,
but nothing
seems to be
damaged too badly.
okay, thanks for
the report. are
we still going
out to dinner
tonight, or
is everything
closed?
i don't know,
she says, the cell
phones aren't
working. how about
the diary queen,
is it still
standing?
i could use
a blizzard
later on. i'll
check the news
she says, i'm sure
it'll be at the top
of the damage list.

Monday, August 22, 2011

olive jars

you tell her,
look at these hands,
trying hard
to impress her
on your first date,
so that she will
fall in love
with you and want
to give you
babies despite
that fact that
you are both in
your fifties, you
show her your
hands. look at
these hands you
say again,
holding them
up into
the shadowy
light of the coffee
shop. i can open up
virtually any olive
jar with hands
like these.
sauces, mustard
jars, no problem.
and she can't help
but sigh, and
say, i love you.
i love you.
i have so many
jars for you
to open. let us
go and begin what's
left of our lives
together.

cherry sno-cone

when my former
wife, lucinda,
who i wasn't
getting along
with anyway
because she was
out and about
all night
with her neer
do well friend
violet, fell out
of the ferris
wheel, that i
refused to ride
because it made
me queasy,
i stood
there watching
as she tumbled
down, hitting
each seat, each
pole and stanchion
along the way,
i kept licking
my sno-cone,
cherry flavored,
and wondered
what i could
do to save her.
but there was
nothing i could
do but just stand
aside and say oh
my. and as
sad as that event
was, i now own
the carnival and
have installed
safety measures
so that accidents
like that won't
happen again. if
you look hard enough
you can find good
in everything.

clearing land

your yard so
long ignored,
is square, not
large, but
filled with
weeds and bushes,
a tree
half dead
and bent from
thirst and age,
and other
things you have
no knowledge of.
you suspect
that there are
snakes, and
rodents in
the tall grass.
you can feel their
presence, afraid
of you, as you
are afraid
of them.
but you have
an axe, a saw,
a rake, a
hoe, and you are
determined
this time
that things will
change
for the better.
you clear
the land, pulling
with two
hands at the vines
that climb
the walls
and this is just
a start.

picking apples

after picking
apples all
day in the field,
going from tree
to tree,
filling my basket
with as many
as i could carry,
at night i'd
go home to a good
meal, a warm
bed, and a woman
who loved me.
and my only worry,
when i closed
my eyes to
sleep, my body bent
and aching
from the work
i'd chosen,
was that one
day there would
be no more apples.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a new room

you decide
to paint
the room blue.
a soft silvery
blue. white
curtains.
a white blanket.
a fresh
clean look.
you hang a
cezanne print
on one wall.
you center a lamp,
you move
the bed to
the other side.
you place
flowers on
the dresser.
everything
means something.

the reminder

you are running
low on disk
space,
the little
yellow box
at the bottom
of the right
hand corner
of your
computer
screen says
repeatedly.
it's a soft
but cruel
reminder, a
whisper of sorts
that time
and space
is limited. life
is short.

the beehive

the man
in the white
shirt gets
out of his
car and goes
over to
the black
car where a
woman sits
with the windows
rolled up.
it's a warm
day. he
approaches
her, looks
around, then
leans in
to kiss her
when she rolls
her window
down. she is
blonde and
is wearing
sunglasses.
they both look
around from
side to
side then
kiss again, he
says something
to her
then reaches
through the window
to hug her.
he looks like
a bear
reaching
with his claws
for honey
from a beehive.

gazing at the moon

looking up
you say
the moon
is a shaved
pear set
on a black
bowl of
space
with a
zillion
stars
behind it,
around it,
below it.
and luscious
you
in your
black dress
and
barefeet
on the wet
grass,
pointing up,
pointing
up, but
i don't
look,
instead,
my eyes are
fixed on
you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

in everyone

there is
genius in
the clerk
behind the
counter,
the waitress
bent over
with a pot
of coffee,
there is brilliance
in the street
cleaner,
the garbage
collector
and beat cop
with his stick.
there is
glory in
the homeless,
the bum,
the drunk, the
drug slouched
soul,
in the shadow
of an alley.
there is
imagination
in the sick
and dying,
there is
god in everyone,
and everyone
a god, or so,
you'd like
to believe
and hope.

peace love and understanding

why are you driving
so fast and so
close to the car
in front of us
you ask her. and
she says, why isn't
this traffic moving,
can you see anything
up ahead. is there
an accident? there'd
better be a truck
hauling chickens
turned over up
ahead for this kind
of back up. do
you see anything? no,
but there will be
an accident
if you don't
stop swerving from
lane to lane and
tailgating. slow
down. but this is
our only chance to
see the dalai lama,
he might not come
here ever again, and
i love that dude.
i want to see the
whole show.
he's so in touch
with who he is. peace
love and understanding.
if only the world
behaved like he does.
i cringe and put my
hands on the dashboard.
watch out for that
truck, it's moving
over. oh, no he's
not, that bastard
isn't getting
in front of me. she
rolls the window
down and hits the horn,
hey, hey, i'm
driving here. what
am i invisible?
stop with the horn,
he sees you, he
sees you. what time
is it, if i can
shoot the gap of
this line of cars
and that school bus,
we're home sweet
home. two minutes
from my man, the lama.

sand castles

it's too easy
to say
that so much
is like
the sand castle
that you
built in
the sand on
a warm summer's
day, as
the ocean
rolled easily
upon your legs
and the hours
were not
hours but
days upon
days, it's
easy to say
that youth
is built
upon such things,
and that
growing old is
trying to hold
on, to keep
the cold
autumn waves
at bay.

Friday, August 19, 2011

chinese take out

your mother
calls and says
what are you doing
at home? why aren't
you working, it's
the middle of the day
for god's sake.
and you say,
how'd you know i
was home? oh,
i was taking
something back
to target and saw
your car in
the driveway.
and so you tell her
that you got
laid off from your
job at the ball
bearing factory,
and now you're
collecting
unemployment for
a while. like
maybe twenty six
weeks. i'm watching
as the world turn
in my underwear
eating some
leftover chinese
food from the night
before, you tell
her. kung pao
chicken and some
fried rice. i've
got an egg roll
in the microwave.
your underwear?
i don't want
to know, she
says. it's the
chinese, you tell
her, they can do
the work we do,
at half the price
and are happy to do
it. damn them. so
i got canned.
and so why are you
supporting them by
eating their food?
it only encourages
them even further
to take us over, she
says. umm, yeah.
good point mom.
hey, look, i have
to go, there's
a big plot
twist happening
on my show and i
don't want to miss
it, it's really
hard to follow,
plus my egg roll
is ready, hear
that beep?

adam and eve

and adam says
to eve, so what
are we doing
tonight. movie,
dinner, and eve
says we need
to shake it up
a little, do
something different,
our relationship
is starting to
go stale, don't
you think. it's
always the same old,
the same old. let's
get dressed up
and go out dancing.
go a little crazy,
do some tequila
shots in a dive
bar, but you know
i don't like to
dance and drink
too much. plus
we have church
in the morning. yeah,
i know, she says.
mr. boring, aren't
you. tell you what,
have a bite of
this and maybe
things will change
a little.
let's get this
party started.

the budget

when you
were younger
you made
a list
on the back
of an envelope
and added
things up.
the electric
bill, cable
tv, gas, water,
food, a car
payment,
insurance
of various kinds.
and then
at the bottom
you scribbled
the word
miscellaneous.
that was
the wild car
that always
broke
the bank.
and now, there
is no list.
it just comes,
it just goes.
why bother
with a list?

the locksmith

each day
a door, a
new key,
a desperate
plea, a
different lock.
you keep
them on a ring,
on a chain
that hangs
from your belt.
it's heavy
and swings
left and right
as you walk.
people hear
you coming,
and smile.
you know how
to get in
and that's
why they call
you. it makes
people happy
that you have
keys. it's good
to be loved.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

shore drive

driving hard
on the wet road,
shore drive, where
it bends and
winds from
side to side, tree
lined, so many
white crosses
leaning in the sand
where others
have lost control
and died. no lights,
no signs, or
markers, the sky
covered by a canopy
of ancient trees.
the ocean is
through the woods,
and the animals
with soft lit
eyes, yellowed
and gold, stand
ready on either
side to test
the long wide road.

lightning

don't stand
by the window
your grandmother
warned,
lighting will
come in
and get you.
i can still
see her
on the couch
knitting
in the dark
with the power
out, as
we laughed
and then ran
out into the rain,
defying
lightning,
barefoot on
the hot wet
grass, dancing.
go ahead she
said, don't
say i didn't
warn you. i'll
pray for you
in here.

the dmv

your turn in line
finally comes
at the dmv. you
stand up and brush
away the cobwebs,
you turn the month
on your calendar.
your legs hurt
from sitting. your
hair has gone
grey, your teeth
ache from age.
your vision has
blurred. it's
time for a new
picture, you've
changed. you have
watched the seasons
roll by the windows,
babies have been
born. weddings
and funerals have
taken place while
you watched,
patiently waiting
your turn. you
move towards
the counter, your
number has come up.

love is like that

it circles
and rises, and
falls, and orbits,
gets covered
in clouds
and disappears
then shines
again, so brightly
you can hardly
stare into it
for more than a
second or two.
everything grows
because of it.
it puts a sparkle
onto the ocean
it shimmers
summer onto the black
streets. look
at it blend a
rainbow below
the pale new moon.
love is like
that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

up early

she loved
to get up early.
before the sun
rose. i'd hear
her get out
of bed, gently,
so as not to
wake me, but it
did just the same,
and i watched
her as she
moved from
the bed to
the shower,
stretching
like a lean
dark cat. i'd
hear the water
run, see
the thin strand
of yellow light
coming from
the almost closed
door. i listen
to her brush
her teeth,
then her hair,
and then hit
the light switch
and come back
to bed with a white
towel wrapped
around her.
did i wake
you, she'd say,
then kiss me
on the lips before
i could answer.

the dime store

we called it
a dime store.
a place where
they had everything.
from cans of paint
to gallons
of milk, from
hair brushes
to donuts, to
brooms and
shampoo. on one
side was a counter
next to the magazine
and comic book
rack. a long shiny
slab of formica
with red swivel
stools set high,
menus were on a rack
next to a bottle
of ketchup, a jar
of mustard and
salt and pepper
shakers. there
was a full mirror
along the back
wall where you could
see yourself and
the rest of the store.
the woman behind
the counter
wore a hair net
and a pink blouse
with her name
pinned to it. she was
almost always, very
short and round,
and wore lipstick
and powdered cheeks.
she'd pour the cherry
juice into
a glass of a fountain
coke and then
grill you up a
cheese sandwich right
on the buttery
griddle. the dime store,
where a quarter
went a long ways.

ballad of a thin man

worn weary
with a lifetime
on the road,
and cigarettes
and red wine,
his throat
warbles and croaks
as he sings
in the bright
light that still
shines on
his music.
a wide brimmed
hat, white like
a halo pulled
down and broken
upon his wiry
hair, sheilds
his blue eyes
as he stands
at the organ,
bending only
to the beat,
not time. his
feet move below
his red striped
pants. shoes
tapping
against yet
another stage.
he is at seventy
still defiant
still elusive.
still dylan.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

lunch date

bored out of our
minds, driving
in the car towards
the grand canyon
she said, okay, i'm
sick of the license
plate game, we'll
never see an alaska
plate anyway, so
here's a question
for you. if you could
have a lunch date
with anyone in
the world, dead
or alive, excluding
relatives and me,
who would you have
lunch with. so i
thought for a minute,
tapping my hand
against the steering
wheel, then said,
well, you mean
excluding the obivous
choices of Jesus,
and elizabeth hurley,
right? huh, she said.
elizabeth hurley?
yeah, i said, i
like her. great
actress. whatever,
she said and rolled
her eyes. how about
hitler, i suggested.
i could drop some
poison pellets into
his cold beet soup?
nah, or, stephen
hawkings, hmmm. nope.
that robotic voice
thing would drive
me up a wall. einstein,
hmmm. nah, what's
he know about babes
and football. nada.
man, this is harder
than it looks, i looked
over at her, how
about you, i said.
who would be your
lunch date, but
she was sound asleep
as a car with an
alaska plate rolled by.

dog therapist

i decided to
put my dog
into therapy
last week. he
was acting very
passive agressive.
turning his back
on me when i
stayed out too
late, or if the
walks were too
short he'd
sleep at the end
of the bed instead
of curled up
beside me.
sometimes he'd
chew up someone's
clothes if they
spent the night.
the therapist noted
that he was
still having
trouble with separation
anxiety from when
he was a pup, being
taken off the farm
from his mother
and father and other
siblings. his constant
barking was a cry
for attention, as
was his tearing up
the trash and
chewing the furniture
and clothing. you
need to show him
more love and affection.
do fun things with
him. throw him a ball
once in a while.
teach him some tricks.
maybe take him to doggy
day spa where they
can do his nails
and give him a nice
warm bath.
i suggested that
maybe he was
only a dog and he
needed to get over
himself, and this
was how dogs
behaved, he likes
to jump in the creek
and chase squirrels
and then roll in
dead animal carcasses,
i told her. can't
i just hit him with
a belt or something.
oh no, she said
loudly and quickly
quoted jung
and freud and asked
me to put my dog
into a group program
with other dogs
and if that didn't
work perhaps a mild
dose of puppy valium
and some shock
therapy. acupuncture
is very effective too,
she said. i asked her
what this was going
to cost to get my dog
back on track,
healthy and well behaved
again, and she smiled
and said how much is
this dog worth to you?
you love him don't you?

Monday, August 15, 2011

factory parts

he confessed
in his e mail
that he was
really a man.
don't let the
pictures fool
you. i really
want to be
a woman, i'm
a woman inside,
he wrote.
don't call
me jim, but jill.
the outside
is a sham,
a lie, a mockery,
a mistake of
the cruelest
kind and when
i get my
operation, well
then things
will be fine.
and i said,
ummm, i don't
think so. i'm
sort of looking
for someone
with factory
parts, but i
wish you
the best with
your new life jim,
i mean jill.

please hold

and an operator
will be with
you shortly.
meanwhile,
press one
for english
press two
for spanish
press three
for more options.
if you are
calling from
your home
phone press
the numbers
that coordinate
with the letters
in the word yes
then push
the pound button.
if you are calling
about your overdue
account press
nine and then
enter your
ten digit
account number
followed by
the pound sign
or asterik if you
are a new customer.
then press in
the words i am
sorry and won't
do it again.
when you hear
a series of
faint beeps
that remind you
of sheep being
sheared, key in
your mother's
maiden name or
the hyphenated
name that she
included in her
new name because
she couldn't give
it up because she
was afraid she
couldn't be found
on facebook or other
social networks.
if you don't know
it key in
your favorite
color followed
by the city you
were born in.
if you are unable
to hear the beeps,
have your ears
checked as soon
as possible, or
see a doctor
about a possible
serious illness.
at this point,
if you are
still connected
take a small
break, stretch
and walk around
a little. get
a sandwich,
and or a cold
drink, coffee
if you prefer.
press one
for regular,
press two for
decaf, press
three for a tuna
sandwich, four
for ham and
cheese. for
other options
press nine. if
you need to go
to the rest room
at any point,
press either
one or two
appropriately,
when you come
back, after
washing your hands,
press any button
to return to
the menu, then
please hold, an
operator will
be with you
shortly. thank
you for being a
valued customer.

the deal

you need
to sign here,
and here,
and there,
oh, right here
too, and intial
that line.
she flips
the page. okay,
here and here
and here,
almost done,
right there
too, sign
there. and
one more page.
sign there,
initial here.
and finally,
just one
more. sign there
and we are
done.
now we just
need a check.

the mower

are you happy
she says while
staring out
the window
from my kitchen
table
at the man
trimming
the grass along
the curb
with a noisy
machine.
and you say
i was for
a moment, but
who can be happy
with this noise.

starting over

she sits
alone
on a sunlit
hill in
a white
dress.
she is
neither
waiting to
leave or
waiting
to arrive.
she just
is. and
that is the
best place
to start
the beginning
of her
new born
life.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

the last leg

you decide
to let your
best friend
emily drive
the last leg
to the beach.
she's been
begging you
to drive.
she talks with
her hands
and her cell
phone is
on the dash
board. there
is a diet coke
between her
knees and
the music is
up. she says
which way,
quite often,
what's the
speed limit
around here
anyway, and do
we have anymore
chips back
there, where
you sit curled
up saying
the rosary.

the clean white shell

you take
some of the ocean
home with
you. some
sand in
your shoes, some
salt water
taffy, a wet
bathing suit,
a small
bottle of
shampoo from
the hotel,
skin lotion,
mango.
a towel or
two, pictures
of you taken
by a woman
from indiana
eating an
icecream cone.
a clean
white shell
that means
nothing now,
but could later.

dancing in the dark

she dances
in the dark
below the stars,
along the shore,
her hands
held high
around the fire,
her friends
all naked
and singing.
crazy in
their middle
age with love
and with
saving not
just the world
but every
lost soul
upon it. it's
a summer
ritual that
still holds
the promise
of hope and
they'll return
next year, and
the next.

the world

there is
the murmuring
whisper
of the world
that nothing
is fair. that
no one gets
a fair shake,
and if this
or that were
true, or
happened, how
much better
things would
turn towards
the good,
how wonderful
life could be.

Friday, August 12, 2011

telstar

you are not
the satellite
falling
slowly out
of orbit, losing
it's signal
with a
gradual fall
towards earth,
once vibrant,
and sparkling
in the twilight
of morning sun,
no longer of
any use, coming
undone. you
are not like
that at all,
but sometimes,
you feel
like it.

it's not unsual

it's not
unusual to be
loved by
anyone you
begin to sing
in the shower
in your
vague impression
of tom jones.
you drop your
voice as low as
you can go,
using your bar
of dove as a
microphone,
but those are
the only words
you know for
sure, so you
make it an
instrumental
the rest of the way
through as you
suds up, you make
guitar riffs
and drums,
and an occasional
horn. you let the hot
water cascade
against your skin,
steaming the room
up. it's not
unusual to be
loved by anyone
you sing again
at the appropriate
points of the song.
it's a good
song. a nice song
to sing in
the shower and when
you get out
you'll google
the lyrics to
learn more. this
is how you
educate yourself
now. you google
everything. you
google tom jones.

off to mars

you decide to
join the space
program again, not
because you want
to go anywhere, but
to test a
relationship
that you are
insecure about.
they need men
who want to go
to mars, and you
don't have anything
going on this week
or the next.
you're on
vacation. so you
train hard
squinting into
the sun, learning
which buttons
to push to lift
off and to settle
down into the soft
red dust.
you bring some
magazines along,
some gum, some
nuts, a diet soda.
you get a pet
sitter for your dog,
and tell the postman
to not deliver
anything for awhile.
you tell your
girlfriend not to
wait, if she
doesn't want to.
these trips can
be dangerous and
one never knows if
you'll return, but
if she wants to
wait and be faithful,
well, that's good.
she doesn't realize
that this is all
a test,
and she says, okay,
but in a maybe
kind of way, and
you nod, whatever.
and as the space
ship takes
off towards mars,
you look back
and see her wave
while she talks on
her cell phone.
it looks like she's
wearing a new
dress, and shoes.
she's wearing lipstick
too. you were right
about her all
along, she wasn't
to be trusted.
but now you can
relax and enjoy
the trip, done with
that worry.

shifting sand

come up for air
from the clouds
of water, from
the green soft
depths that you'll
never quite under
stand. come up
and breathe in
the sunlight
of where you are.
where you are
meant to be, at
least for now
in the ever
shifting sand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a fresh start

while floating
on my raft
in the center
of the pool,
a drink balanced
carefully
upon my lap,
half of a tuna
sandwich nestled
nearby, with
chips and
a cookie,
i dropped
my cell phone
into the deep
end while i
was texting you
and sending
you a photo
of what i was
doing in my
new bathing
suit. i can
see it
glistening on
the bottom
next to a penny.
everything,
and everyone on
it washed away.

finding gum

the spent
wad of gum
you step into
on this hot
scorching
day, and sticks
to your shoe
dragging
and pullling
its pink grey
goo along
is not a portent
of things to
come, or your
life taking
a bad turn, but
just hot sticky
gum, that's all.

at least for the moment

i don't believe
in ufo's, or
life on other
planets larger
than a germ.
i don't believe
in big foot,
or the loch
ness
monster, or
ghosts, or
witches, or
things that
go bump in
the night,
although i pray
a lot and avoid
walking under
ladders.
i don't
believe
in conspiracies
of all kinds.
i don't believe
in evolution,
i prefer
the magic
wand
of God instead.
i don't believe
in commercials
no matter how
shiny
the product or
pretty
the person holding
it. i don't
believe in
warranties,
or the stock
market, despite
putting all
of my money
there on a yearly
basis. i don't
believe that
one size fits
all. i don't
believe in anyone
that starts off
a speech with
the words, and if
i'm elected.
i don't believe
in country clubs,
or canadian club,
but i love a club
sandwich with chips
and a dill pickle.
i don't believe
in organized
religion, or even
disorganized
religions. i don't
believe in marriage
or divorce, but
hold out for love.
i don't
believe in the past
or the future,
but only the now.
at least for
the moment.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

rest your head

rest your head
here on the wide
soft sand.
stretch your limbs
and feel the wind
unfold across
the terrain
of your tired soul.
rest your head
here beside
the rolling ocean,
it's blue lips
kissing the shore
with each new wave.
listen to it's
whisper, it's
gentle roar.
rest your head
here, right next
to mine and be
done with what
you left behind,
at least for awhile,
at least for
awhile.

the blueberry pie

she says
proudly over
the phone
i've baked you
a pie and i'm
bringing it
over while
it's still hot.
are you alone?
umm, no, not
exactly. who's
with you.
my mother, i tell
her, and she
laughs, no really?
just a friend,
just a friend,
what kind of pie
is it, i ask her
and go to the fridge
to check on milk.
none. it's
a blueberry
crumb pie, she says,
but i'm not so
sure i want to
bring it over if
someone is there.
can you bring it
over and set it
on the porch, just
ring the bell so
i know it's there.
oh, and can
you pick me up
a quart of two
percent milk?
i hate you, she
says. i know i tell
her. you're not
seeing that crazy
prison guard helga
again, are you.
pffft. no way.
twenty minutes?
okay. twenty
minutes, i'll ring
the bell.

the fitted sheet

i hate folding
the fitted
sheet, i thought
to myself
as i tried
to touch corner
to corner,
fighting
the elasticity
of it's edges,
but there was
no hope, no easy
way to make
a square. the best
i could do
was fold it
over into a
ball and stuff
it into the closet
with the other
sheets, trying
to get it under
control and
then i thought,
i have a few
friends like
that, people you
can't fold
up nice and neat
when you want
them to, but
when it's time
they fit just
right, tight
and stretched
smooth throughout
the roughest of
nights.

Monday, August 8, 2011

pleasure world

there is a place
where the speed
limit is 25 everywhere,
where the guy at
the gate just waves
you in, too hot to
open the little
glass window,
and where the fields
are cut tight and short
and deer dip their
angelic heads out of
the woods waiting for
the sun to set, a
place where all
the tags on the
cars read florida,
and where a basket
of lost inhalers sits
near the mailboxes,
the canes, and
umbrellas too. it's
a place where you
can smell cakes
baking, eeking out
from under the wreathe
laden doors, and a pot
roast too, and where
you can hear tony
bennett being played
on the stereos.
sinatra, peggy lee
singing is that all
there is. dean martin.
there is a place
with a nurse on
call, and an ambulance
circling the golf
course. it's not
the end, but it's
very very close. it's
called pleasure world.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

the exit plan

every man has an
exit plan, or at least
ponders the possibility
of how they might
escape from a burning
building or a plane
going down, or a
roof collapsing in
a movie theater when
it's been snowing.
really? she says. what
are you talking about?
it's like what if
a grizzly bear shows
up in the woods
while you're taking
a hike, you have to
figure out how
to get away before
he gets his claws
on you. even in
relationships,
men think about how
they can get out of it
when it starts to sour,
go bad and, they look
for the back door,
the escape hatch,
the sliding bookcase
with the secret panel
leading to a set
of steps that tunnel
out. men are crazy,
she says, shaking her
head. no, not at all
you tell her. it's
survival, it's what
men do. so you're
comparing relationships
to grizzly bears
attacking you. hmmm.
and so what
is your escape plan for
us, she says, hands
on her hips, tilting
her head with her
flashing brown eyes.
none at the moment
dear, i'm too busy
thinking of entry plans
to even consider that.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

basketball

having tripped
after a shot
sailed in
to end a game,
and fallen down
on the hot asphalt
while playing
basketball on a
saturday morning
for the millionth
time in my life,
it felt good
to lie there
for a moment,
to see the sun
and sky above me,
to feel the scrape
upon my knee,
the sweat rolling
down my face.
with the heat of
the ground
rising through me,
where else would you
rather be, but
there.

the monkey cages

when you threw
that plate of linguini
across the table
and hit me square
in the face, i suddenly
realized that you
must have seen me
kissing lullabelle
the other day
near the monkey cages
at the zoo.
the monkey cages
was our place, our
special spot, and
that's what bothered
you most.

the other shoe

these egg shells,
the ones beneath
my bare feet,
that i walk upon,
and that clock
ticking, listening
for that other
shoe to drop,
it's what i do
best when things
are going well.
holding on,
holding my breath.

Friday, August 5, 2011

the whirlwind

staring with
child's eyes
at a small
tight circle
of paper
and new fallen
leaves
on the concrete
playground
swirling
with all the hint
of what ifs,
what nature
can be, if
she chooses.
it moves
it's whirlwind
self
across the stiff
crumble
of grey ground,
as you sit high
on a tall
steel slide,
cold already
with autumn,
deciding when
or if you
might come down.

sunfish

taking one
step too far,
the water
rose as i
sank, and my feet
clenched at
the soft
dark sand off
shore, my nose
filling with
chilled
night water,
with everyone who
could save me
asleep, and me
unable, too
young to swim,
but i could see
the morning sun
rising,
as i set under,
and a sunfish,
like a supple
gold coin
wagging it's fins
nearby and i
suppose i
did likewise,
but without
memory of how
i got to higher
ground, or how i
survived. how
little has
changed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

webs

with a swipe
of your hand,
annoyed,
you brush away
and through
the myriad of webs
constructed
like magic
between the shrubs
that line
the sidewalk
by spiders while
you slept soundly
in your bed.
the silk lines
so soft and clear,
a beautiful trap,
awaiting flies, or
other misguided
winged insects that
hover nearby, but
it's you instead
that has laid
all good plans
aside.

pink lights

these pink
streetlights
of summer
folding over
like umbrellas
onto the wet
empty streets
of town, are
like angels
without
wings, memories
without count
or sting
of so many
years gone by
without you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the photo album

we had reached
the point where we
could lie in bed
and talk about
anything without
any awkwardness
whatsoever. we were
that far along into
it. and so she
felt comfortable
in asking me if i
wanted to see her
family album. sure
i said. i'd love
to see your photos.
and so she walked
across the room
and picked up a
leather bound book,
and brought it back
to bed. here it is
she said and opened
it up. but there
were no photos.
there were only
x-rays. medical
x-rays of broken
bones, legs, hearts
with dye coursing
through the vessels,
a sonogram or two,
an mri of her brain
before and after
the fall. and slowly
as she flipped through
each page, and described
the circumstances
of each x-ray, i
realized how
wonderfully strange
she was and that
gave me a feeling
of something like hope
for the world
at large.

Rx

she had no
beside manner
whatsoever
despite her
excellent
credentials.
she always left
you wanting more
and in pain.
the pain was
more emotional
than physical, but
occasionally
there'd be a bite
mark or two,
and some scratches
here and there
on your back
that need some
medical attention.
sometimes
she'd just leave
with the door wide
open, the sink
clogged with her
long black hair,
the stove on.
sometimes she'd
shake you awake
and say something
like, hey, i'm leaving,
don't call me for
awhile, i need
to be alone to
take care of some
things. and you'd
nod your head with
your eyes half open,
too exhausted
to get up or to
say okay.

the girl we called mother

there was a girl
in my french
class back in
highschool
that we called
mother. she was
tall and broad
shouldered,
with short brown
hair and eyes
the color of
fizzy root beer,
there may have
been a handful
of freckles across
her nose and
cheeks as well,
but it didn't make
her cute like it
would most girls
her age, instead
it seemed strange.
she was already
too old for freckles.
but she would scold
us on a daily basis,
sit up, stop talking,
you need a haircut,
are you chewing
gum? quit kicking
my seat. are you two
boys looking at
each other's test
papers? you boys
never have a pencil
do you? she'd
shake her head,
roll her eyes,
and make a clucking
noise with her
tongue. mother
is what we called
her. we're facebook
friends now, and
nothing much has
changed, she posts
me on a daily basis.
capitalize stephen,
she writes, capitalize.

settling

i like you
better without
the hat,
she says, you're
not so bad,
but i wish
you were taller
and younger
and had more
money, a beach
house and a
nicer car
wouldn't hurt
things either.
it would be
nice if you
lived closer
too, but i
guess you will
do for now as
i wait for
my real ship
to come sailing
in. and i say,
you are so right.
ten miles closer
ten years younger
and ten pounds
lighter, and
we'd be perfect.

the yellow line

if we had
the transportation
of the future,
i'd be there
next to you
right this second.
if we had
jet packs, or
tubes to send
us flying, or
beams
to send us
in a sparkling
swift wave of
molecules
through air,
i'd be there.
but no, so instead
we'll have
to wait, and wait
as i ride
the yellow line
all day.

melt

you melt
not like
italian ice
on a summer's
day, with
the stain
of cherry red
on your lips,
or snow
when
the sun
rises
and the air
lifts
above
freezing
no, it's a
different
kind of melt
altogether,
and it starts
somewhere
near your hips.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

night train

she is a night
train in her sleep.
full of wild dreams.
she is going hard
down those tracks,
tossing and turning,
hear her whistle,
hear the roar
of her engine,
the churning of her
wheels on silver
rails. she is
a night train
in her sleep, but
when she gets there
in the morning
and she comes
to a stop and
the doors
of her eyes
all open, i'm
there ready, with
bag in hand,
to board and see
where else she
wants to go.

the wheel

when you were
younger you put
it all on red.
everything.
and gave the wheel
a hard spin. and it's
still going round,
and round.
you hear the click
click click
all day as you work,
you hear it
at night as you
lie in bed.
you still don't
know for sure how
it will turn out,
but you can see
that the wheel
is slowing down,
and you are soon,
too soon perhaps,
to find out.

the long way home

you take the long
way home,
through the park,
near the water,
up across
the boulevard.
there is no rush,
nothing urgent
pressing you
to get through
the door and throw
your keys down
and say i'm home,
no dinner
in the stove,
no dog to walk,
no boy waiting
in the window.
just mail on
the floor, fallen
through the slot.
you take the long
way home, as
the days get
shorter and the
nights get longer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

the yellow cake

you take out
the big blue bowl,
three large eggs
from the fridge,
a spoon, a spatula,
some vanilla cake mix,
water and oil.
a measuring cup.
you set the oven
at 325, let
it warm up.
you grease
a pan, get out
the mixer,
let the icing
soften, you
write out, i
love you on
a generic card
with a picture
of a dog on
the front chasing
a red ball.
you put a gift
certificate
into the card.
a hundred bucks
to a local restaurant.
you make the cake,
mixing it slowly
in the bowl,
following directions,
looking at the clock
from time to time.
with a wooden spoon
you slide it all
into your nine
by twelve pan,
and lick the spoon
clean after setting
the pan onto the top
rack in the oven. you
open the kitchen
window and see
a blue stack
of clouds rising
in the distance,
a cool breeze blows
in, but no rain
comes down.
you stick
a tooth pick into
the top of the risen
cake after thirty five
minutes, then take
it out. the toothpick
is clean. after
letting it cool,
you frost
the golden top
with a spatula.
lathering a
thick layer
of chocolate with short
broad strokes,
you then spell
out happy birthday
in fancy script
with a squeeze
tube of white
icing. you look in
the kitchen drawer
for candles, but there
are none. it doesn't
matter. you carry
the cake into
the other room
and place it on
the center of the table,
next to the vase
of yellow flowers,
and the clean white
card without a name
tilted against
the crystal vase.
then you go sit down
with a book,
and wait. it must
be someone's birthday
somewhere, you imagine,
and you are ready.