Monday, October 31, 2011

why apples

when you came home
you pulled up
your mask of zorro
from your sweaty
face and spilled
your plastic bag
of candy onto
the floor. slowly
you separated
the gum from
the lollipops
and candy bars
pulling them all
with a sweep of
your small hand
into large stacks
and the sweet tarts,
the mary janes,
the twizzlers and
licorice. gum balls.
the random apples
never stood
a chance, tossed
to roll towards
the other side
of the room clunking
against the wall
like bowling balls,
why you would wonder
out loud with a
laugh, why apples.
what kind of a crazy
person gives out
apples?

the moment gone

your children
are asleep
in the other room
down the hall
past the lamp
the plant, the
dog that lies
blessedly
unknowing.
your children
tomorrow are
gone, fast
in their own
lanes, their own
beds, towards
another life
you'll never
truly know.
the moment savored,
is the moment
gone.

winter sky

you are barely
there. a thin
fog of a man
in thread bare
clothes, gasping,
on grey lungs,
on two old legs
that hardly
move. you are
barely there
amidst the living
shadowing your
day with tattered
dreams, and moth
eaten memories.
you are barely
there as the sun
rises on cold
blue snow easing
just so into
the winter sky
above the park.

cold summer

it's too cold
out for shorts,
but like the fool
you are, you wear
them anyway. you
have a tendency
to hang on to each
glimmer of summer
fading fast. it's
worth the shiver
to pretend that
things aren't the
way they really are.

gypsy queen

with her black
hair like
a gypsy queen
and her
crystal ball
and porcelain
white skin,
she knows
the future,
she knows
in a minute
after stroking
your hand
and one sweet
kiss where
you are going
and where
you will have
been. believe
her.

the land line

she used
to set her
blackberry
on the table
and text
and type
and take messages
as the meal
came and went.
sometimes
she'd look
up at you
and nod politely
as if she
heard what
you were saying.
her fingers
moved rapidly
along
the blinking
keyboard
between
slices of bread,
sips of wine,
strands of pasta
going down. oh
how i missed
when there was
only a land line.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

like

it's like
this, i like
really really
like this
cup of coffee
it's like so
likable. don't
you think,
i mean really.
how's your
coffee, are you
like going to
drink it while
it's still,
like so hot?
are you like
too tired
to talk, or are
you like mad
at me for saying
like in every
sentence. an
answer from you
would be like
really nice. don't
you like me
anymore? i would
really like
to know. please,
like just nod
your head, or
like something.

street theater

the dog wearing
antlers
crossing the street
towards
the bulldog
with a string
of christmas
lights blinking
around his
collar. the moon,
a bright
slice of glitter
above it all
as you in a
policewoman's
outfit sucking
on a lollipop
hold the leash
attached to me
dressed as
abe lincoln
going to the
theater.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

the birdhouse

your sister,
the one you stay
in contact
with, sends you
a birdhouse
in the mail.
she made it in
her garage last
spring, she
made six of them,
one for each
sibling. it's
a fine bird house
once you put it
together
and paint it.
and if you
were a bird
you could live
there. it
has a round
hole as a door
and slits
for windows.
you peer inside
and imagine
yourself on
the couch reading
a book or
watching tv.
you hang it on
a tree outside
your window,
and you wait
to see who makes
it a home.

her knee

she wants to show
you her scar
so she lifts up
her dress
and points
at the round bend
of her knee.
there is a moon
shaped curve
of healed
skin, a scar as
thick and pink
as a worm.
and then
it's your turn,
but you don't know
where to start, so
you kiss her
and say, let's
change the subject.

dreaming of camels

you have a dream
about camels.
one hump camels,
brown and long
legged. you
want to ask
them how they
can go so long
without water,
months and months
without even
so much as a
sip. but they
don't speak
your language
as they stare
back at you with
large saucer
eyes, blinking
in the desert sun.
this has nothing
to do with
love, of course.

the red sweater

it's a rainy
saturday and cold.
so you decide
to clean out your
closets and drawers.
reassess your
wardrobe. you
take inventory of
thirty seven white
t-shirts, and
six black sweaters.
five pairs of jeans
and nine button
down white shirts
that all need
ironing. you need
something red.
you need something
to jazz up your
combination of black
and white, so you
go to the mall and
buy a bright red
sweater. that night
you put it on to
go meet sally for
drinks. you feel like
a big tomato sitting
there on the bar
stool and she
laughs when she
sees you. what's up
with the sweater
she says. i don't
think we can go
out anymore if you
wear that again.
smartly though, you
haven't taken the
tags off the sleeves
and you still have
the receipt folded
in your pocket.

dinner and a movie

she doesn't love
you anymore,
she says on
the phone that
you are selfish
and self absorbed,
distant and aloof.
she doesn't know
how or why she
ever got involved
with the likes of
you. this goes
on and on so you
set the phone
down next to
the goldfish bowl,
you feel like
these are things
that goldie should
hear, that apply
more to her than
to me and after
you fix a cup of
tea and some toast
you pick the phone
back up and say,
uh uh. are you
listening, she
says, did you even
hear one word
of what i just
said. i finish
chewing my toasted
raisin bread, and
say, yup, i heard
all of it. so what
about friday, there's
a great movie
playing. dinner,
movie, back to my
place for a game
of scrabble?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

tomorrow comes

busy in
his old age
with a wrench
tightening
screws. finding
loose bolts
and nuts with
which to turn
and tighten.
there is always
a door ajar,
or window stuck,
there is
the whistle
of wind that
seeps through
the attic
floor. there
is suddenly
everything never
seen when life
held more.

halloween

below the harvest
moon, with orange
licks of
buttered candy
and swooping
trees, where ghosts
and goblins
and bright striped
bees swarm
under chilled
winds, the arms
of parent
with lights in
hand guide
the way, yet only
for awhile,
only for awhile.

better left unsaid

some words
when at last
all who remain
are gathered to
post farewell, why
bother now with
the story told
of what was said,
or unsaid, the
meaness or callous
ways of those
departed, why
spoil what has
gone when there
is no one left
to defend whether
truths or lies
are right, are
wrong. yes, better
left unsaid, when
the handful of dirt
is tossed upon
those descending,
and the final bell
has tolled,
what harm is there
to let him go
as a saint and be
done with it, and
the final tale
untold.

the red bowl

you can't
reach the top
shelf, so you
pull a chair
closer to
the counter
and step up
in your stocking
feet.
it's a bowl
you never use
that you want.
it's glass,
and red. as
red as cherries
on a tree.
it reminds you
of christmas
as you hold
it up to the
window and let
the light
stream through.
and when
you've had
enough you reach
back up
and slide it
into place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the wedding party

when the wedding
party ends,
and the last
dance is danced,
the cake cut
and eaten, when
the last bottle
of champagne
is popped
and drained of
every pink bubble,
what then, she
thinks, staring
at the bathroom
floor.

when the battery dies

you resort
to pencil and pen,
finding a scratch
pad to make
a list of things
to do, what
to buy at
the grocery store,
who to call
and when.
it's strange to
hold a pen
in your hand
and not a
touch screen
phone where
everything is
kept in a world
you know little
about, or how
it all works,
but strangely
trust, not
unlike your faith
in a higher
power, and prayer.

two pictures

nervous and shy,
she sends you a photo
before meeting. she's
at a church picnic
wearing a checkered
dress with a ribbon
around her waist,
and is holding a plate
of cupcakes with white
and pink icing. it's
a lovely picture,
her long hair
in the sun, the smile
on her face, but i
can't see her eyes
and there is too much
distance from
the camera, so i ask
for another picture,
something more
revealing where i can
see what she really
looks like without
the sunglasses, and so
she does. the next
picture she's wearing
a leather bikini,
holding a bullwhip
in one hand and chewing
wildly on a raw
steak in the other.
behind her there is
lightning in the sky.
better, she says?
you say yes, better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

being there

the graffiti
man, with his
cans of orange
glow and green
as bright as
apples sprays
his name and
sign along
the high water
tower and
beams of bridges
that rise
above the high
way, while
below a stray
flea bitten
dog pees upon
the hydrant.

the upside of losing it

after leaving
the stove on,
she put the milk
into the cupboard,
her keys
in the freezer,
she kissed
the cat goodnight
and told me
that she loved
me and couldn't
live without
me, things
aren't exactly
right, but it
seems there is
an upside to her
losing it.

behind you

you are being
followed.
you can feel
the presence
of someone
behind you.
hear their
shallow breathing,
the low beat
of their heart,
the soft
tip toe
of their shoes
through
the alley,
past the empty
benches
of the park.
you look over
your sholder,
but see no one.
it's always
been this way,
making you walk
faster, pressing
you forward,
to get to where
you're going
sooner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

monkey love

your new pet
monkey, jimmy,
or j j as you
call him,
gets out of his
cage and
uses your
computer while
you're at work.
he loves your
new mac.
the next day
you have a truck
load of
bananas at your
door. you
give him a look
and shake your
finger at him.
he shrugs
his shoulders,
then scratches
his coconut head,
showing
his teeth in
a wide smile.
you notice
that there are
now two monkeys
in the cage
and one is
wearing a short
dress, high heels
and making
noises with
a russian
accent. she's
wearing bright
red lipstick.
you forgive him
though. you can
understand that
kind of lonliness.

crazy girl

if you place
a shallow bowl
or dish of
white vinegar out
it will take
away the smell
of paint, or
other odors
that may offend
you. don't ask
me how, she
says, it just
works. and
the garlic
wreathe upon
the door, what's
with that, i
ask her. that
keeps away
the dead who
want to suck
your blood, she
says and offers
me some candy
from her plastic
pumpkin.

velvet cupcake

you left
your velvet
cupcake
on the sill
of the window
and the birds
have flocked
upon it.
the pink
ribbed paper
is all
that's left
to remind me
of who you
used to be.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

the caged tiger

someone begins
to tell you a story.
you are on the bus
going to the zoo, so
you are trapped,
and have to listen.
it's a long story
that makes you
stare out the window
after a while. you
no longer nod, or
say hmm hmm to let
them know you are
listening, the window
is fogged with
your breath as
the person tells
you about their
life, the injustice
of parking tickets,
and spilled milk.
they tap you on
the arm to make a
point, they laugh,
they cough,
there may even be
tears at some point.
it's a long ride
to the zoo and you
can't wait to get
there, to hear
the silence of
the caged bengal
tiger who paces
restlessly
in the long shadows
of his day.

the kindness of others

you make
the mistake
of climbing
the mountain
that you see
outside your
window. you
take a cup
of coffe
and your cell
phone, but
you realize that
halfway up,
it's getting
harder to
breath and it's
cold. a jacket
and gloves, and
a wool hat
would have
helped, as would
rope, and
a pick and axe,
and oxygen
tubes and a
nice relief
map, but you only
have your coffee
and phone.
fortunately you
come to your senses
before you black
out and a bear
eats you,
and go back
down, taking
the path that
others had carved
out, being so
thoughtful
and so kind.

love

what isn't lost
is never
found, it stays
where it always
was, out of sight,
out of mind,
collecting dust,
fading in
the long days
of sun, going
brittle
with winter
and you becoming
one.

what time has done

you google
friends who were
friends, picking
faces from
memory, names
that scratch
the surface of
your mind, you
search
for them on
facebook and
various other
places that they
now reside, not to
talk, or to e mail,
or text or to
friend again,
but to just see
what time has
done to them
whether kind,
or unkind.

what did you do today, dear

in her under
wear she goes to
the window
to wave to
the mailman
as he takes his
time putting
the junk mail
through the slot,
he tips his
hat, his bag
less heavy, and
then the milkman
comes and
puts an extra
bottle of
whole milk
into the silver
box on the porch.
a dozen eggs,
a quart of orange
juice. he waves
and smiles.
the yard workers
take their
time, cutting
the lawn,
trimming
the hedges,
digging weeds
where there are
no weeds.
they climb the trees
to cut the dead
branches, staring
into the window
where she stands
and grins in
her silky shorts,
and then
the boyscouts,
a troop
marching along,
stops to salute
her before
moving on to
camp and tie knots
and to dream of
her while they
toss and turn in
their pup tents,
and finally
her husband arrives
and she greets
him at the door
fully dressed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

i hop

love is
a monkey wrench
you tell
her over
coffee and
cigarettes.
you are dining
late into
the night at
the international
house of
pancakes,
in fact it's
early morning.
three a.m.
you want
the waitress,
brittany,
in her blue
uniform to take
the plates
away of cold
eggs and nibbled
toast, but she's
busy in the kitchen
with juan,
a monkey wrench?
she says, blowing
smoke up
in the air.
it's nineteen
eighty-four,
you could smoke
then. yes,
you tell her
and sip your
black coffee.
it's heavy, it's
awkward, love is
hard to carry
around sometimes
and you don't know
where to put it.
i don't know
what the hell you're
talking about,
she says, but
i think you're
cute anyway. i hear
her heel go
off under the table
and then feel
her foot caress
the inside of my
pant leg. at this
point i try
to stop talking
crazy talk
and leave a
twenty on the table
for brittany.

the number

it's funny
how what you
throw away
is what you
need next.
the thing
that never
got used
in years
is tossed,
and then,
suddenly
you need
that phone
number you
scribbled
on a napkin.

towards land

it's the rowing,
the infinite
number of strokes,
the splash
and pull of oar
in water across
the dark lake
of time. slow
and easy, there
is no downhill,
there is no
path without
a storm, without
wave upon
wave before you.
it's the rowing,
not the land
so far ahead.

Friday, October 21, 2011

new born

a new born
as pink as a
fresh balloon
against an
april sky,
his milky
green eyes
half open
to the light,
his impossibly
small fingers
reaching
for what he
wants, not
what he needs,
and this is
how it starts.

bus stop

standing
alone at
the stop,
you feel
the cold
in your toes
first.
in your hands,
the tip
of your un
covered nose.
a wind rises
up your cuffs
and a shiver
rattles you
from top
to bottom.
this isn't
your bus
to get on
and leave,
but you wish
it was.

six across, the goddess of love

an old man
without his shirt,
back in his
soft chair,
the grey
tuffs of his
chest, tanned
and in the sun
his black
glasses on.
the paper
folded with
an unfinished
puzzle in
his lap as he
dozes with
pen in hand,
and a word he
used to know
left somewhere
on the tip
of his tongue.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the morning bath

the smell
of morning,
of shaved soap
and water,
the hot rising
steam above
the steel
white tub
with you sub
merged not
unlike
a pale ghostly
dream, your
leg lifted
along the rim,
your eyes
alive with
what will
come, and me
standing there
overwhelmed
with the quiet
of you.

frost bite

baby it's cold
out there,
but not as cold
as it suddenly
got in here, we
really need
to have that
talk, don't we.
i don't know
what you heard
out there on
the street, but
let me put some
gloves on,
a hat and scarf
and overcoat
as well. i
can tell by that
look in your
eye, that it's
going to be a
long cold winter.

bag by the door

the sun
only has five
billion
years left
before it
burns itself
out and
becomes
a red giant
that obliterates
our orbit.
i haven't
made plans
yet, but i
keep a bag
by the door.

politics

you grow
weary listening
to the debate.
words,
grandiose
statements of
change and
jobs, of ending
wars and
poverty and
keeping out
the unwanted.
it's the same
as it always
was for as long
as i can
remember. the
hot air
wafting above
the crumbling
rafters while
rome burns,
and the ashes
blow like
failed
promises across
the scorched
earth.

Monday, October 17, 2011

your basket

your basket
of sorrows
like stale
bread, spoiled
eggs, bad
fruit is in
your arms
again, and
yet again as
you walk
the streets
at night,
everything
you say,
everything
is fine,
your world
is right.

hollow moon

the woods
are not quiet
tonight.
the trees
are haunted
the leaves
are whispering
on the wind.
the stream,
so cold
and clear this
time of year
is speaking
to the stones
it rolls upon.
i won't venture
near, this
late at night,
leaning
out the window
at the hollow
moon.

no pulp welfare

the tired man
on the bench
dressed in rags
yells over to me
for a match to light
his fat cigar.
i tell him that
i don't have one,
that i don't
smoke and he sits
up and says, what's
wrong with people,
what the hell is
wrong with this world
today? do you have
anything to drink,
some scotch and i tell
him i can run up
and make him a quick
apple martini
and bring it down
to him,
and he laughs and
says what are you,
some kind of girl.
what about a sandwich,
do you have any
food up there to
bring down?
sure, i tell him,
ham and cheese okay?
toasted he says,
with mayo and onions,
on rye,
lettuce, but no
tomatoes, i'm
allergic to tomatoes.
and a dill pickle too.
okay, okay i tell
him, i'll be back.
hey he says, i'm
going to be hungry
and thirsty tomorrow
morning too, do you
do breakfast? i
like my orange juice
with no pulp.

the hunt

i could eat meat
she says, buttoning
her coat for the long
walk up the avenue.
charred red meat
and potatoes. throw
in a green bean or
two if you'd like
and a slice of bread,
but for the most part
i'd like a slab
of meat for dinner
tonight, can you do
that for me? i put
my hat on, and gloves,
wrap a scarf around
my neck and say, sure,
let's go. let's beat
the rush, and get
there before it's
all gone.

nothing surprises

nothing surprises
you anymore.
the earth being
round, the sun
being too far
away to ever
visit, and hot,
the moon just
a white ball
of dust and useless
crumbling rock,
nothing causes
alarm anymore,
not the neighbors
who argue through
the walls and then
make love at night,
the phone ringing
at three a.m.
with only bad
news. nothing
that people do
with guns and knives
makes you raise
your eyebrows and
go oh my, anymore.
too much water,
bad water under
all of these bridges.
the evangelist
with a whore,
the politician
stealing petty cash,
the mechanic not
changing your oil,
the one you love,
who slips out
through the open
back door.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

sylvia

you get a post
card from
india. i miss
you, it says.
i love
you, signed
sylvia. but
you don't
know anyone
named sylvia.
you write
her back though
and ask her
when she's
coming home,
you tell her
how things are
not the same
without her.
the cat is on
the window sill
waiting
patiently.
you tell
her that you
love her,
that you miss
her, then
you go to
the post office
and tell
them you want
postage to
get it to india
to the woman
that you
now love,
sylvia.

meteor

you lie
in the cold
grass of
october, staring
up into
the clear
starlit sky.
you wait
and wait
for the streak
of light,
the meteor
that shoots
out of nowhere.
so brilliant,
and rare,
and how is
love not like
that, i ask you.

marching

i'm marching
in a circle
for work, more
jobs, to cure
a disease,
to end the war,
i'm up and down
the streets
with every colored
ribbon you can
imagine. my
shoes have
holes in them
from all the
marching i've
done lately.
end this, begin
that, let's
change the system,
make it all
right and we
can do it with
signs and shouts
and ribbons
and by marching
marching and
more marching.
i would march
all night, all
day, through
the snow and rain,
but at some point
i have to go
home and feed
my dog.

with heart in hand

the thought of
you, the storm
of you, the weather
that you bring
when you appear,
is slipping
like a road
covered in
fast falling
snow. i no
longer look
out the window
to see you
coming up
and over
the rising
hill with heart
in hand.

mona lisa

you wake up
in another time,
in another place,
the renaissance
period,
and there is a
knock at your
door, it's da
vinci wanting to
borrow a palette
of magnesium white
paint, and you
tell him no, go
get your own paint,
and he says, hey
but, and you say,
no buts about it,
always running out
of paint, aren't
you, can't you see
i have a guest
here, which is
mona lisa, who's
sitting on
the straw bed
with a smile on
her face and putting
her boots on.

cat bliss

the cat
arches her
back in
the moonlight
upon the sill.
she can
stare for
hours at
what passes
by the window.
bliss
is in not
knowing, not
coming,
not going.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

round and round

in a circle
she goes,
chasing her
tail in
a basket empty
of clothes,
round and
round and
round, there
is no place
left to
go if she
catches it.

a sea of coffee

the world
is a sea of
coffee.
cups are adrift
everywhere
you look.
there goes
one down
the street,
floating in
the gutter
with lipstick
on it's white
hard rim
as the rain
steams down
from espresso
sky, lids like
rafts, white
circular
dots of plastic,
remants from
that morning
cup, that
afternoon
pick me up,
that dessert
after dinner
latte.
the world
is a sea
of coffee, and
i'm in line.

did you find everything you need

is there anything
else i can
help you with, did
you find everything
you need today, the
cashier says, as
she puts your box
of donuts into
a plastic bag, and
you hesitate, but
then begin to
tell her about
all the things on
your list that you
need and want
help with, the line
backs up, and
people are grumbling,
but you begin to
tell her about
the time your
mother forgot your
birthday when you
were twelve, and
go from there.

Friday, October 14, 2011

clown days

you come home
from work,
and take off
your clown
suit, the fat
red nose.
the water
flower from
your lapel.
you wipe the
make up off
your face,
then fling
your floppy
shoes to the
corner and sit
there in your
yellow silk
suit, like
a deflated
banana after
a long hard
day where
no one laughed.
bastards.
you get up and
fix yourself
a drink
pulling off your
orange fright
wig. there has
to be better
way you think
to yourself,
a better way.
coal mining
crosses your mind.

no going back

it turned
cold
suddenly.
blue skies
gave way
to grey.
the clouds
rolled
in thick
and low
across
the tops
of empty
trees.
the earth
thickened
as the wind
blew in
out of
nowhere.
there is no
going back
in weather
like this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

the venus fly trap

someone sends you
a plant
in the mail.
someone
who left her
shoes under your
bed a few times,
not lillies, not
roses, not
flowers of any
friendly sort,
but a venus fly
trap. the note
with it says,
this is you, and
i'm apparently
just a fly in
your life. enjoy.
i find it all
very clever and
creative and so
call her up
to apologize
for everything
i've ever done
to hurt her,
then ask her out
to dinner
on friday night.
she says no, but
i put the plant
on the table
anyway and open
the window
to let new flies
fly in.

the walk

you realize now
looking back
and seeing where
you have come
from and where
you are now,
that you can go
forever, walk
from here
to china
and not get
tired when
there are things
to think about.

how

they scatter
quickly
in the wind.
these years.
these leaves
that turn
on cue
with each new
season,
and you press
them firmly
into the folds
of your memory,
between
the thickend
pages
of now
and youth.

the sea at night

in the night
when you take
the boat out
and strike
the oars let
them rattle hard
in the iron
of their rowlocks
and as you push
them into
the dark sea
pulling towards
the full moon
with a quiet splash
and it's white
embrace, it's
not the journey,
or where to
that's important,
it's more than
that. it's you
being in
the boat, in
the night, in
the sea, alone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

like apples from a tree

she falls in love
easily, men
are like apples
falling from a tree
in the wind.
she can't catch
them fast enough
before they hit
the ground,
or quick enough
before they turn
brown, and the worms
have bitten into
the soft thin skin,
but it's love she
says, true love
for sure this
time as she tosses
another one into
her basket of
shied cores.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

hey where did we go

there is sometimes
something that you
went for and left
without. it was
the one thing that
inspired you to
get up from
the couch and
venture out into
the cold rain to
buy and drive
to the grocery store
glowing like a
beacon in the night.
but you got
distracted by
the lights and
shiny floors, the
rattle of empty
carts, the soothing
music piped in from
the sixties. marvin
gaye cooing as you
leaned over
the tomatoes, the
ripe red delicious
apples. van morrison
happily singing
brown eyed girl,
making love behind
the stadium,
in the tall grass,
while you surveyed
the cookie aisle
then wandered towards
the milk. so many
milks to choose
from. and by
the end of the
temptation's ain't
too proud to beg,
sweet darling, your
cart was full, but
still missing that
one thing that you
should have written
down.

Monday, October 10, 2011

store front vet

and as the doctor
smiles, not with
his eyes, and the
receptionist, red
eyed and bent,
head over her
magazine, quiet
in her professional
way, you
step towards
the small back
room of green
linoleum tiles
and a steel
gurney where
the dog, your
bright lover
of life will
lie, and finally
without command,
stay.

shadow

even your shadow
has forsaken
you, when you turn
around it's gone,
no longer stuck
to the back
of your shoe.
you yell out
for it in vain.
it doesn't like
this dark side,
it wants the sun,
the blue
sky of you.
not this, so
grey and covered
in rain
tattered clouds.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

beneath the sink

her father
would hide
his liquor beneath
the kitchen
sink. he'd
tuck a neat
pint or two
of jim beam,
or old crow
safely below,
between the
musty shadows
of wet pipes
and buckets,
grey rags.
and when he
decided to
tip one towards
his dry lips
you knew. he
was either
singing or
there was crying
in the other
room where a
hole was in
the wall.

the bathroom floor

there is no
such thing as sin
she says
while scrubbing
the bathroom
floor with
a toothbrush.
her knees
are rubbed
red and raw,
her hands are
pink and swollen
from the work.
i can't get
these floors
clean, she
says to me and
looks up.
i need help.

the fire

everyone gathers
for a fire
to see the roof
in flames,
the windows
shattered
from the heat.
they stand back
holding their
breath,
shaking their
heads, better
them, than me.

silence

you argue
silently
with the way
the sun
has set,
how the moon
just appears
in the absence
of light.
you bicker
with the wind
and how it
bellows
in the hollow
darkness of
trees.
and when
rain falls
you hold a
grudge against
the cold
puddles,
grumbling
to no one
your feelings.

the gate

the unhinged gate
in disrepair,
leaning
on it's white
trimmed shoulder
with peeling
paint, a rusted
bolt that
neither slides
or closes
one in or out,
and the thick
grass too
has no memory
as to who
has come and gone.
that worn
path no longer
there, the collected
stones, once
playful seats
now cold
and overgrown.

Friday, October 7, 2011

the apple butter festival

i was getting
dangerously low
on apple butter
so i made the trip
up to berkley
springs west
virginia for the
annual autumn
apple butter
fesitval. i wasn't
disappointed
in the least.
i have enough
apple butter stocked
away in my cupboard
to get me through
the winter and
into spring, and on
the bonus side of
the trip, i fell
in love with the
apple butter festival
queen who was riding
on a float to resemble
a butter knife and
a plate. we fell in
love after the parade
at a local saloon
where they were serving
hard apple cider.
i feel like this time,
this is the real deal.
i just love her apples.
i could bob all night
for apples like hers.

that new car smell

my new car salesman
mohammed,
smiles, adjusts
his tie and says,
i can get you
that car, but black
is hard to find.
you have no idea
how rare a black
car is these days.
i look out the window
of the showroom,
sliding forward
in my plastic chair,
sipping from a styro
foam cup of cold
coffee, and stare out
at the highway
where every other
car is black. you're
going to need wheels
on this car right?
the salesman asks
me, shaking his head
while his hand moves
around his calculator.
i can only give you
twelve dollars for
your old car. sorry,
but it's used, and
i see that someone
sat in the back seat
once and put gum
into the ashtray.
smells like perfume
back there too. he
looks at me and i
shake my head. dunno,
i say. no clue
about that. only
twelve dollars, i ask
him. i can talk to
my manager and see what
we can do if you are
willing to buy today,
he says. do we have
a deal?

park clean up day

it was unfortunate
that the park clean
up day coincided
with the deer management
hunt with cross bows
by local amateur
hunters positioned
high up in the trees,
oh and halloween.
those picking up
the littered
debris of bottles
and bags, cartons
and wrappers should
never have been
wearing their costumes
with antlers and
fuzzy bear suits.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

less

you carry less
of yourself
now that there
is grey in your
hair and your
step is slower.
so much that was
so important
is over.
the weight of
future years
is gone. you
think in terms
of the last
time you'll buy
this, or that,
or go here, or
go there. but you
like the feeling
of less. there
is no sadness
in this age.
you are almost
off the ground
with the thought
of it. almost.

still angels

the children
tethered together
by nannies along
the sidewalk at
midday. uniformed
and small, their
legs just touching
the ground, still
angels, still
the best of what
all of us could be
given the chance
to stay so young.

the path

as you roll smoothly
through the darkened
woods, seeing the still
shadows of grey deer
on the unsafe edges,
and swift foxes like
whispers weaving
through the brush, you
remember much of
what you've forgotten.
how things change
and yet remain
the same on this old
path and off it,
with each toss
and turn of a new season.

the winning ticket

you win
the lottery
just ten million.
but you vow
that it won't
change your life.
but it's too
late as you lie
in the doctor's
office getting
botox injections
into the furrows
of your brow
and fat sucked out
of your pendulous
belly. a hair weave
is not out of
the question now.
as is that new
mercedes. baby
seal black
with leather
and all
the trimmings.
maybe a driver
too wearing a cap.
it's only seven
million after taxes,
so you realize
that you need
to go slow,
but you are not
afraid to buy
grey goose by
the gallon now,
or fresh crabs
by the bushel. caviar
by the case.
pfffft, money,
you say to
your new friends,
no problem as you
fly everyone to
vegas for a weekend.
you are stunned
and pleased at how
women have suddenly
recognized your charm
and wit and good
looks, what took
them so long?
you change your
number immediately
because your mother
keeps calling about
something and move
into a condo
overlooking
the city. it has
it's own elevator.
you've always wanted
one of those. you
get unlimited texting
and the last three
remaining channels
on your cable plan
that you don't
yet have. you cancel
your match dot com
subscription
and join millionaire
match. by the end of
the month you think
back on the old you,
the poor you,
working for a living,
an old car, an
old girlfriend,
eating peanut butter
sandwiches while
standing at the sink
late at night,
worn shoes on your
feet and drinking
smirinoff. it's all
good now, but no,
you haven't changed
a bit. you are still
you and you have
plenty of people that
will happily agree
with you. things have
changed, but
you haven't.

rock creek parkway

it winds and dips,
it's rough
and edged deep
with ruts of
whatever they
use to mill
the old pavement.
the construction
goes on forever
with do not
enter signs
and barrel after
orange striped
barrel lining
the beaten path
with nets to keep
the runners
and the bikers
off to the side.
it is a blind
series of
nothing but s's,
moving along
beneath the kennedy
center, along
the sun pink river
and into the park
where a black
canopy of trees
enfolds you
in old arms,
below the stone
bridges,
up, up towards
mass ave,
connecticut ave,
onto the zoo
and beach drive.
out onto calvert
street where
you thank God
once more that
you've made
it out alive.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

let's go out instead

your smoke alarm
signals you from
your nap that dinner
is ready. the house
is full of
smoke and your
eyes are watering,
you choke a little
and clear your
throat. you've
been out for over
an hour, after
drinking a half
a bottle of wine,
sleeping
soundly while
the pot roast
simmered and then
caught fire
in the oven. but
you like it that
way, burnt and
crispy. of course
the potatoes
and carrots that
you so carefully
cut up are shriveled
and black. your
date arrives before
you can order chinese
over the phone.
you look through
the peep hole and
admire the little
black dress she is
wearing, and that
her hair is done
up nicely. you tell
her to wait
as you put the fire
out and change from
your pajamas into
something clean
and decent. you yell
through the closed
door. let's go
out to dinner, okay?
she peeks into
the window and nods
yes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

no dinosaurs, please

i wish we
had dinosaurs
she says,
daydreaming
her chin in her
hands staring
out across
the daisy covered
meadow,
into the woods.
how fun would
that be to see
a real t-rex
walking about,
a brontosaurus,
or a pterodactyl
lumbering across
the sky with it's
expansive grey
wings. don't you,
she says, dreamily,
wouldn't dinosaurs
be fun. not
really you tell
her. traffic is
bad enough as
it is already.

asleep

my leg has
fallen asleep.
it tingles and
burns, has no
feeling from
hip to foot.
it sparkles
with an infinite
number of stars
as i try to
stand on it's
numb leaden bone.
thank god
for the remote.

there will be blood

you've had a
bad morning
shaving in the dark.
the power is out
because of the rain,
the wind,
the trees falling
down taking out
the power lines.
you have small pieces
of tissue all over
your face and neck
where the blood
is eeking out due
to the nicks
and cuts. and
when you get on
the train to go
to work, you see
women blotting
their legs and
other men dabbing
at their shaving
wounds. it's
amazing how
connected you feel
to the world at
large during
times like these.

Monday, October 3, 2011

the bank

you go the bank
to make a
large withdrawl.
it's not your
bank and you're
carrying heat
and wearing a
mask. to your
surprise,
there are five
other bank
robbers ahead
of you, standing
in line, sweating
beneath their
masks, holding
their hand written
demands on limp
pieces of paper.
even the tellers
and the bank
manager bent
over his desk
in his glass
enclosed office
is wearing a mask.
on a side table
there is freshly
brewed coffee
and donuts, you
go over and take
a seat, relax
and wait your turn.
there are chocolate
covered glaze,
your favorite. you
look at your watch.
it's almost twelve,
banking hours
are nearly over.

quitting work

i'm handing in my
resignation
tomorrow i tell
my wife as she
stands at the sink
chopping onions
for the stew she's
making for
dinner in eight
hours. but you
can't resign she
says, wiping
a tear away from
her eye. but it's
the onion making
her teary not
that she's sad
about my decision
to quit work.
and why can't i,
i say, tying my
shoes under the
kitchen table.
because you are self
employed. you own
your own business.
the business is
you and you are
the..., okay, i
get it, i tell her.
it's all very zen
like i know. i'm
just tired of working,
and having the man
keep me down. she
laughs while a tear
runs down her cheek.
she grabs some carrots
to dice and wipes
her eyes. pfff.
you are the man
honey, she says.
how can the man
keep you down,
when you are
the....okay, okay.
so what will you
do when you quit work.
how will we live,
how will we pay
the bills, take a
vacation, how will,
we....what time's
dinner, you ask
shaking your head.
six, don't be late.
see you later.

more scrabble

i have a j
a z, a q without
the u, one o
and two
e's, i'm
doomed. let's
quit now
before you
win.
i can't find
a word
to put me
past you and
isn't that the
way it's
always been?

how it begins

you come home
to find
your door open,
the house
unlocked.
someone has been
inside living
your life
while you were
out. there
is a plate of
bacon and eggs
on the table,
toast with a bite
taken out.
orange juice
and coffee.
the newspaper is
open to the metro
section,
the obituaries.
there is a
picture of
you, but it
can't be you,
you are still here,
you are not
gone. you are
hungry and ready
for more life.
you yell up
the stairs to
see if anyone is
there.
you go from
room room but
there is no
one. this is
how ends, this
is how it
begins.

waiting for the light to change

the politicians,
smiling,
are standing
near the intersection
waving with
their placards
and promises
in hand. waving,
and waving.
the whole day,
out there as you
wait for the
light to change,
and for
the world to
change too, which
never seems
to happen.

and now this

curls of
empty trees
leaning
against each
other
as the wide
stream widens
and rises
at the edge
of where they
stand and
wait it out.
and your hand
against
the window
is cold.
you feel
the bones of
winter rubbing
against
you. it's
always a surprise
when things
don't go
the way you
planned, summer
being summer,
and now this.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

not that hungry yet

an angry
woman who
needs her
wallpaper up
tomorrow
calls on
the phone.
she needs
measurements
and advice,
and needs it
done sooner
not later.
kids are
screaming in
the background.
dogs are
barking.
we've never
met and she's
already
yelling at
me, pinning
me down to
a date and
a time that
i can come look
at the job.
it's silk and
she wants
the ceiling done
too and a
guarantee
that it will
never crimp or
fail or fall.
i have a
headache within
two minutes
of our
conversation
with her yelling,
and me listening.
gently i slip
the phone back
into it's
cradle. i'm
not that hungry
yet.

election day

if elected i promise
to give everyone
everything they need
at the expense of no
one. everyone will
be happy. there
will be no more
wars, no one will
be hungry or homeless.
don't pay your taxes,
pffft, no problem.
even the animals
will lie down
and sleep together,
the wolves with
the sheep, the snakes
with the birds.
the cats with the
dogs, the fish with
the, ummm, i'll have
to think about that
one. i mean do fish
sleep? anyway, if
elected, if you vote
for me you'll get
a good night's
sleep and three
square meals a day.
i'll even reduce
the price of
coffee to a mere
one dollar a cup. yes.
i can do that, don't
ask me how, but i
will, i promise. but
first pull that lever,
fill out that ballot,
raise your hand
for me. your new
king and leader.

icebergs

don't tell me
it's october,
she says.
i don't need to
hear that.
nothing good
happens
in october.
we lie in bed,
backs to each
other, cold
and white like
two icebergs
trying to separate
and float their
own way.
what about
halloween,
i ask her, that's
fun. you're
right, she says,
that's when you
put on a mask.
october is not
all bad.

a rainy sunrise

i've got your number
on a book
of matches, i've
got your sister
in the other
room. i've got
a hangover, and
glass of seltzer,
this place could
use a broom.
i've got to get up
and shake of
the cobwebs, put
on some pants
and a pair of
shoes. i've
got no where i
need to be, but
i have to get
there real soon.