Wednesday, November 30, 2011

in reverse

the car, old,
with rust, a pale
blue, now almost
grey like
that of a poet's
lock whose
time has come and
gone and isn't
read or understood
anymore.
it only moved
in reverse now,
going backwards
over all the roads
it took before.
like memory,
unwinding
at life's end,
as that curtain
drops and
there is no more.

photograph

though fine,
the photograph
of you
is who you were
a few minutes ago,
not who you are
now, or who you
will be tomorrow.
but it will
suffice and get
me through
another day,
then night.
i'll keep it close
beside me,
not far from
my pillow,
not far from
the windowed
light.

the seven date rule

i have a seven
date rule, she
says. so keep
your paws to
yourself. thus
the cobwebs about
you, i answer.
the rust, the dust.
you'll get nowhere
with that attitude
buddy, she replies.
nowhere is where
i am right now. so
what's the difference.
charmer, aren't
you, she says. not
really. just
annoyed. eat your
calamari, i have
to go in seven
minutes. my rule.

into the blue

in the air,
off the board
sprung high
into the blue
and white
sky of youth
you arrow up
then bend and
knife with
little splash
into the pool.
and only
by touching
bottom, your
knee, an elbow
perhaps,
with a scrape,
a strawberry,
will you see
some future,
some hint or clue
as to what
is ahead of you.

a cloud, the moon and blood

while you listen
to the poet,
who read her
work with
firey passion,
explain her
words, answer
questions
as to what
a cloud means,
or the moon,
or a drop
of blood,
you can
see her feet
tap below
the desk
her soul
inching out
the door like
smoke, wanting
to vent and be
done.

the chase

when the dog
got loose
to chase a cat
and ran and ran
until he couldn't
run no more, you
watched him
from the porch
as he disappeared
into the woods.
you stood there
with your cup
of coffee and
waited. he'd
be back before
dark. tired
and yet happy
to be free.
he reminded
you so much
of who you were.

lessened

a few degrees
less and there
will be frost
on the cars
a clean sheet
of ice to tend
with when
stepping out into
your day.
the world will
shrink in
slight defensive
ways, protecting
itself from what
goes on and what
is yet to come
under the lessened
light and sun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

toy shrek story tron transporter

while the movie
fades and the credits
roll and the music
sinks in as the lights
go up over
the rows and rows
of emptying seats,
she asks me if i liked
it, and i say, of
course. it was grande,
sublime, i love
the way they animate
things these days,
who doesn't like
a good cartoon?
it'll change my life
in time. okay, she
says, then you pick
the next one. oh, i
will, i say, i will.

pie girl

there is
no pie
like her pie.
the crust
is soft and
crumbly.
the apples
baked just
right, not
too sweet,
not too hard
or light.
and the
cinammon she
sprinkles
on the top
is just
enough to make
you smile
and bend
and sniff
and stop
and cut a
slice for
now, and one
to take away.
i think i'll
see her again,
some day.

girl with the orange mohawk

the girl
with the orange
mohawk
and a silver
stick pin
through her
lip, a pearl
in her tongue,
asked me with
a slight slur
and drool,
if i had
found everything
that i wanted
as my groceries
rolled along
on the belt.
yes. i said,
but if i think
of anything else
i'll be sure to
come back in after
unloading these
groceries into
the trunk of
my car. she wiped
her mouth
with the store
smock, and smiled,
and without saying
anything, said,
whatever,
grandpa.

good talk

what exactly are
you looking for
the therapist says
while you lie
prone on her couch
staring at the water
stain on her
white tiled
ceiling. i don't
know, you say,
glancing
around the room,
there are diplomas
in black frames
behind glass, and
some dried fake
flowers in a vase
on the sill.
an air freshener
is stuck to the
rattling radiator.
something
real, you blurt out,
someone simple
and yet complicated.
but with nice
legs. i really like
legs. nice legs,
she says. isn't
that a little
shallow. hey, you
say, leaning your
head up, aren't you
supposed to be helping
me, not judging me?
oh, right she says.
so we have a few
minutes left, let's
talk about your
desire to meet
someone with nice
legs. is she tall,
short, describe
her for me. is she
funny, smart too?
of course you say.
pffft. what am i some
kind of dope? okay,
okay, she says, so
tell me, did your
mother have nice
legs? you sit up
and stare at her,
what kind of a sick
question is that,
why are you bringing
my mother into this.
geez marie. she
scribbles a little
note onto her pad
then says, well
looks like our time
is up for today, good
talk good talk. i
think we're getting
some where.

Monday, November 28, 2011

free falling

in a moment of
insanity you decide
to jump out of a plane
over orange county.
you are in a rattling
small prop plane
with a boney old man
in a mustache at
the controls.
you have a silk
parachute attached
to your back. you've
been versed in the
act of jumping, of
floating, of pulling
the string, the backup
string, the emergency
string. you've said
your prayers and left
a note on the kitchen
counter. to whom it
may concern, it says.
take care of my cat
and split up the rest.
and as you float
serenely over
the quilted landscape,
of green plotted
land, of low trees
and sparse farms,
you turn to the pilot
and ask him if he
would kindly just
push you out with his
boot, you are not
the kind who jumps.
and so he does,
and away you go.

the last leaf

as ships go
down, and new ships
leave the harbor,
as the sun
sets and another
one rises,
as love ends and
a new one
begins, don't fret,
for the pattern
is eternal.
ask the last leaf
on the tree.

the swim

in the end
you slip quietly
into the sea,
back from where
you started.
the earth being
so much water,
as you are.
rising and falling
on some unseen
cue. and it's
just a short
visit that we
stand, and walk
about, before
the next swim
begins again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

in flight

there are birds
in the air.
scattered like
marks against paper.
blue birds
and starlings,
doves and blackbirds.
there's a cardinal
on the fence.
there are
sparrows perched
on the well.
the world is in
flight, or
waiting to be
and you want your
wings now,
it's time.

the weight

she no longer
counted her poems,
numbering them
on the far
right corner
with a black pen.
instead, she
weighed them
on a scale,
stacking the pages
and pages of
poetry like berries,
like meat,
like fish from
the market. and in
this way, she
measured out her
love, her memories
her losses
and years. that
relationship, she'd
say was two
pounds worth
of writing, or
that death, or parent
still gaining,
another page or
two, add more.

the broken plate

she holds the broken
fragment of a porcelain
dish up to the sunlight,
her hands full of mud.
she turns it over
and over, carefully
wiping away the dirt
to see the detail
and color of this dish
tossed away a hundred
years ago, or more
and she wonders how
it fell, or was it
thrown, or just slipped
out of someone's
hand when the news
came that she couldn't
believe, or begin
to understand.

the storm

with everything
you had to say
being said, you
say, it looks like
rain and point out
to where the clouds
have formed in
tall cathedrals.
feel how the wind
has picked up,
how the leaves
have curled like
soft green palms.
it looks like
it's going to rain
you say, but with
her arms folded she
doesn't come out
from behind the screen
door. you stand
on the porch
and watch a spike
of lighting
sizzle down into
the far off trees.
come in, she says,
come in. but you
don't, it feels
safer where you stand.

the red planet

let's go to mars
she says,
over coffee. it
only takes eight
months to get
to the red planet
and float slowly
down onto the hot
crust laden
surface. no.
you tell her,
you'll miss earth,
the coffee,
the atmosphere,
things like that.
but you go, i'll
wait.

Friday, November 25, 2011

buy two ovens, get the third one free

while you stand
in line at twelve
o one waiting for
the department store
to open so that you
can get another
tv, two inches
larger than the one
you have at half
the cost, you can
see the big
dipper over head
and all the constellations
as clear as the broken
glass glimmering in
the parking lot
that wraps around the
back of the cinderblock
store. and there
is a commraderie
of souls, with
their newspaper
clippings, their
coupons and cell
phones, all huddled
together, travelling
to this new world
where life is wonderful
with one more thing.
and you get a glimpse
of what it must be
like to be in
steerage as the titantic
sailed across
the north atlantic
on a night like this,
black friday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

father

you see him running
towards the woods
of nova scotia,
across the field,
his blonde hair
in his blue eyes.
his legs
long and lean
barefooted
in fast strides,
looking over his
shoulder, come catch
me, he says, come
run with me, i
don't want to be
alone when i
get there,
but you can't
run with him, it's
not your turn,
not yet, it's his.

the other side

you take your
shoes off
to cross the creek.
the water
is high and grey
in the low
sun of november.
you can see blue
stones along
the bottom, cold
and round
in their beds.
there are trees
that have fallen
across, broken
and being washed
away. too fragile
to walk upon.
you roll up
your pants
in the shadows
of rock
and leafless
trees
holding your
shoes high
in the air, there
is a patch of
sun in the green
moss that will
warm your feet,
and like a tight
rope walker
you cross
the water
to the other side.

pumpkin pie

you come home
late one night
after having a few
egg nogs with your
friends and there
is a pie sitting
on the kitchen
table. it's still
warm. there's
no one around, but
there's a note
beside it. don't
touch, it says,
we're taking it
to your mother's
tomorrow for
the holiday. it's
for dessert. you
go to the steps
and listen up.
nothing. no
lights are on.
everyone is sound
asleep. you go
back to the kitchen
and turn off
the light, you
crack open the fridge
to let out a
wedge of bright
white light at
an angle upon the
table and the pie.
you grab a gallon
of milk, pour
yourself a tall
glass, then get
a dish, a knife
and fork. at this
point the dog
wanders in and puts
his head into your
lap, his paws on
the chair. his
tongue is out as he
too stares at the
freshly baked pie
covered in a thin
plastic sheet.
beads of sweat
are on your forehead
now as you lift
the pie up, peeling
back the wrap and sniff
at it's tender crust,
you lick the tip of
your finger to lift
a crumb into your
watering mouth.
the scent of sweet
pumpkin is wafting
into your nose,
into your lungs,
down into your hungry
belly. the dog
bares his teeth,
drooling and licks
his chops. just one
piece you say
to the dog, who
appears to be nodding
and smiling, agreeing
that just one piece,
won't get us into
too much trouble.
so you carefully,
like a safecracker
drop the cold knife
into the meaty pie
carving out a perfect
wedge and then
lifting it onto your
plate. you cut a
sliver for the dog
whose tail is beating
fiercely now
against the table leg.
you put his dish
onto the floor, then
dig gently into your
slice when the light
goes on. there is the
woman who baked it,
your wife, with her
hands on her hips,
a scowl on her face.
you don't care do you,
what i say. you just
do whatever you want
don't you? you shrug
your shoulders and
meekly say, the couch
tonight? she shakes
her head and leaves
the room, not
answering. the dog
is rattling the plate
across the floor,
licking it clean.
then it occurs to you,
how could you, why
would you, what has
possessed you to eat
this pie without
whipped cream. you
reach onto the fridge
shelf and find
the can, spraying
it liberally onto
the pie and a squirt
or two into the dog's
open mouth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

willis the turkey

you decide this
year to buy a live
turkey, no more
frozen butterballs
for you. you want
some fresh meat.
so you ride
out to the country
taking the back
roads to a farm
that sells full grown
turkeys. you carefully
select one from
the barnyard full
of them, then put
him in the back
seat of your car.
you soon realize
though that you
should have
bought a cage for
him as he begins to
peck at the back
of your head
while you drive.
fortunately you have
a loaf of wonder
bread with you
that you were going
to make stuffing
with. you rip it open
and start throwing
back shredded slices
to keep the turkey
occupied. you put
some of the bread on
your neck where
you are bleeding from
where he's nipped
you with his beak.
you find yourself
calling him willis
for some reason
as he gobbles and
jerks about. you keep
an eye on him in
the mirror as he
struts back and
forth across the
back seat. you turn
the radio up which
seems to get him
going. his wings
flapping, his head
bobbing. by the time
you hit route 66
you've bonded with
this turkey and
there is no way
you can chop his head
off and eat him so
you pull into the safeway
and get the last
butterball turkey
from the frozen bin
and another loaf
of wonder bread.
they seem to be out
of turkey leashes
so you buy some
shoelacess
and tie them all
together. this will
have to do as you
walk him down
the street.

queen

she was sitting up
on the tall bed
with pillows behind
her head, in her
silk robe reading a
book on past lives
and reincarnation.
i was in the bathroom
scrubbing the floor
and spraying windex
onto the mirror.
i think i may have
been a queen in a
past life, she says
to me, putting
the book down and taking
a sip of tea that
i had brought up
on a tray. what,
i said, rubbing
my knees from
kneeling on the hard
tile. what makes you
say that. i'm not sure
she says, but sometimes
when i fall asleep
at night i can sense
my former self, i
can see pyramids
being built for me.
and you?

Monday, November 21, 2011

paris is waiting

how much
can you reduce
your price
the woman says
as she slides
into her fur
and adjusts
the diamonds
dripping from
her ears. i
want a lower
price if you
want the work.
i know others who
will do it for
far less, but
i like you, and
wish for you
to do it for me.
so how much
can you take off.
please tell me,
i need catch my
flight. paris
is waiting
and your truck
is dripping oil
onto my driveway.

on to you

i'm on to you,
you say, before
you go to sleep
and offer up a
pale prayer
of petition
you've said
a thousand
times before,
or more.
i'm on to you
you say,
of your sly
and jealous ways,
your quiet
inattention,
holding and not
holding all
within your hands,
turning nights
into stars, and
suns into days.
i'm on to you,
you say, before
falling fast asleep,
to the silence
to the mystery,
to a universe
unfazed.

a key ring

sometimes
the jiggle of
a key ring,
or the sound
of a shoe
walking
across the floor,
or a whistle
or a doorbell,
a knock
upon the door
can make you
remember her,
not exactly
of course, but
just enough
to make you wish
you were there
once more.

power lines

as the men
with an orange
ladder lean
high upon the tree
with tools
to cut the limbs
that hang onto
the power lines
you see
the fear within
their eyes, not
unlike those
standing on
the platform
awaiting the city
train that
takes them to
their offices
for the next thirty
years.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the brown coat

she left
her coat inside
the closet.
there was a hair
brush in
one pocket.
a scarf around
the collar
that smelled
of her perfume.
it was a long
coat as brown
and vacant
as the trees
outside the window.
it kept her
warm as we
walked along
the path.

wanting more

and sometimes
the story has
no ending. there
is no hero,
no love restored,
no losers, no
winners, it
just drifts off
into fading light
as the reel
ends and the credits
appear in
black against
the white
while the music
plays and plays.
and when the lights
go up, and you
are still sitting,
somehow expecting
more, you can't
help but feel that
there is something
missing as you
go back to your
own life, to your
own unfinished
story.

the pattern of falling leaves

as winter
approaches and
love unwinds
and the leaves
of days
turn color
and fall behind,
you see the bitter
sweet pattern
of what your
life has become
over time,
both yours,
and mine.

pulling the sled

low on vodka
and limes
you look outside
the front door
at the three
feet of snow
on the ground
and still falling.
your two dogs
are staring at
you, knowing
in a way what's
on your mind.
and you say to
them both, we
can do this
my little friends.
let's go!
but they run
before you
can get the
reins around
their chubby
dashcund necks.

the message

she missed
the last step
and fell.
the wind
was blowing,
it was dark
the ground
was covered
in wet leaves.
clouds
were over the
full moon.
none of this
she noticed
until she
tumbled
over and as she
lay there
thinking,
she finished
texting her
friend gina
about a new
dress she saw
in macy's window,
while rubbing
the bump
on her head.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

tired of the man keeping me down

i was at the protest
rally in zucchini
park the other day.
i had just bought
a new full length
cashmere coat to wear
and had some day glow
signs made up
by my friend donna
the graphics artist.
they were very expensive
but quite nice
and easy to hold
with the maple sticks
they were attached to.
we disagreed on the font,
but i gave in cause
she knows what
she's doing
and i don't.
there was a coffee
shop nearby, so i
picked up an extra
hot grande latte
with four shots
of espresso to get
me through the hour.
i was tired of the
man keeping me down
and came to show
my support, but
my legs were tired
too and wished
there had been a few
more chairs around.
it was hard to hold
the sign, my coffee
and text my friends
while standing up
and chanting 'hell
no we won't go'. umm,
no that was the last
protest i attended
in the late sixties.
whoops, my bad. no
wonder people were
staring at me.

the script

you are to make
a movie of your life.
you write an outline
starting from
the beginning, from
birth, from before
that, to the point
where your parents
are born, then proceed
from there. through
schools, through
books, playgrounds
on wintry days, summers
on the beach. a first
kiss. a first love,
heartbreak and renewal.
there are brothers
and sisters.
the plot inevitably
thickens, the characters
disperse, they come
and go for no
apparent reasons,
you move from town
to town, you have a dog,
you have a cat, you
have a son, you buy
a red chair. suddenly
there is too much
detail and you've
written a script for
thousands. you stop
and throw it all into
the fire. you start
over, with no script.
you decide to make
the film in black
and white, keep it
simple, keep it real.
you press the button
and start now. there
is a cup of coffee
in your hand,
and the phone is
ringing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

the hat

the wind
blows your hat
free on
the street
so you bend
to pick it up
but it rolls
and flips
from side
to side down
the boulevard
through
an alley, across
the park, it
tumbles further
in the gusts that
lift it up
and set it down
again. there
is no catching
your hat as
the wind keeps
it just out of
reach until
you are in a place
you don't want to
be. and this is
how some days
are, taken away
from where
you were.

lady bug

in another life
i was a bug,
she says, a lady
bug for sure.
encased in a shiny
orange shell
with black
dots and thin
short legs
like exclamation
points. and
when my wings
opened, it was
an event, both
natural and unatural
as my round
soul flew into
the air like
bits of candy
searching for
an open hand
to land on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

yellow cab

you climb into
the yellow cab
which screeches
to a halt on
broadway and
slam the door.
the g force
pulls you back
into the seat
as the red digital
numbers spin like
a vegas slot
machine. you are
inches from
death, doing
sixty between lights
caromming towards
so ho. you grab
the strap above
the seat and ask
the driver how
many people die
a year in his
cab or gets hit,
and he laughs,
adjusts his turban
while eating
a gyro and says
no one dies in
my cab. everyone
survives. which
you tell him
is good to know
as you look at
the meter and
start counting money.

at the met

you visit
the met one
cool spring
day in new york
and lean
towards
the armor
glistening
behind
the glass. no
arrows could
penetrate
the rounded
shoulders
and sharp
edged hat,
the lance is
there too, so
long and
balanced in
the glove
of grey mail.
and it makes
you think about
your own armor.
so different
and yet so alike
in so many ways,
protecting
the heart.

the cat

a cat comes down
the steps
to see who is
in the house
and peers around
the corner at
you. he's striped
golden like
the bends of
sunlight through
the blinds.
he blinks his
sleepy green eyes
and yawns to show
his perfectly
sharp white
teeth then licks
his paw to rub
against his ear.
he watches you
moving about the
room as you work,
he stretches,
arching his
tall back,
having seen enough
and goes back
to where he
came from happy
to just be a cat.

black birds

these black birds,
out the window,
dozens on the wire
so loud and brash
with shiny wings
and bright sharp
beaks. they swarm
in slow clouds
almost falling
in their flight.
going nowhere. they
seem to know things
that you don't.

staying in

you sleep in
and let the day
unfold without
you. let the rain
fall, the clouds
keep their
curtains closed.
you let the phone
ring, the door
go unanswered.
the paper stays
put on the porch.
there is no news
you need to know
today. you put
on tea, you find
a book you've read
before and settle
in to wile away
these quiet hours.

on the curb

you separate
the tin
from the plastic
the paper
from the glass,
the cruel
from the good.
there is less
and less
worth saving
these days
when so much
can be put out
with the trash.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

flu shot

she takes
a needle and
slides it
into your arm,
there you
go, she says,
wiping the dot
of blood
away with a
cotton swap.
you are flu
free for
another year.
and within
two weeks
you are flat
on your back
in a bed, unable
to breath,
coughing up
a lung as you
sneeze and
cool your brow
with an ice
pack. you
shiver and sweat
all at the same
time not wanting
death, but
not altogether
dismissing
the idea. never
again you vow,
if you recover,
will you get a
flu shot
from your barista
while waiting
for coffee.

your weather

undecided,
the weather
ever shifting
from grey and cold
to bright and warm
not unlike
the weather of you
so sunny some
days between
the stretches
of december's
dark and gloom.
i have my
finger in the air
testing your
wind, your rain,
the pressure
of your kiss.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

conversational cliches

for when you
can't come up
with any lucid
original thinking
of your own:
apply liberally
and use in any
dish of stagnated
discussion looking
for a way out.
like really?
really? (make eyes
bug out and turn
head slightly to
either side, making
direct eye contact
with the individual
you are mocking)
it is what
it is. (this catch
all phrase is
good for all tragic
events, funerals,
train wrecks, other
unexplainable events,
ie., see republican
debates, reality tv
etc.) not so much.
this can be used at
the end of a one
word declaration.
such as: lima beans,
ummm, not so much.
really? just keep
saying this all
day long
and people will
think you're actually
listening to them.
ya think? (jut chin
forward with look
of clever arrogance
on your face) ya think?
who's your
daddy? oldie, but
still effective
after a few beers.
it connotes dominance
over another
individual in a
sporting event such
as foosball.
i'm not a fan of, etc.
this can be used
for anything you
don't like, such
as i'm not a big
fan of women
with fishing hooks
sticking out
of their lips.
peace out, also, right
on, keep the faith,
i'm outta here,
and see you on
the flip side. all
meaning, it's a
gots to go situation,
or later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

girl with black hair

she stands
with hands on
hips
in central
station,
her black
welsh hair
around her
shoulders
awaiting no
train, just
passing
through
on her way
to somewhere
new with you.

pizza with emily dickinson

there was a light knock on the door
as i settled into my recliner
watching a rerun of Gunsmoke.
I was eating an anchovy pizza,
just delivered, still hot
in the box, the steam rising into my eyes.
i looked through the peephole,
squinting one eye.
it was my neighbor from upstairs,
emily. yeah. that emily,
the poet. ms. dickinson herself.
she had her spiral notebook in hand
and a pencil. she loved writing in pencil.
she had her usual violets pinned
to her white dress
and her hair up in a bun.
what, i said. what do you want?
i'm having dinner.
i'm stuck she said, in her high pitched
voice, i need some help with this poem
i'm working on.
geez marie, okay,okay, let me get
some pants on. I put the dog
in the other room, then let her in.
she sat down on the sofa
as i lowered the tv.
let me hear what you got so far.,
I said. sitting back down
with my pizza.
is this a new poem, or an old
one? you have a tendency to
over work the old ones, I told
her, wiping some sauce off
my chin.
oh no, no, she said. it's a new one.
well, read it to me, pizza?
I held the box out to her, opening
the lid to show her the slices.
sorry, i'm clean out of carrots and lettuce.
no, she said, i don't eat meat, or
cheese, or anything delivered in a box.
suit yourself, I said. more for me.
okay, go. read.
she started reading her new poem, slowly, as
she liked to do, never looking up,
her fingers tapping her lips nervously,
her high laced boots clicking against
one another.
"because i could not stop for lunch,
i had a cup of tea.
i wore a hat outside today
because of the buzzing bees."
that's all i have so far
she said, shrugging her narrow shoulders,
and shyly looking at her poem.
i took a sip of my beer and another bite
of pizza. it stinks I said. what kind of
a lame poem is that? it makes me sleepy.
i want to take a nap after hearing a poem
like that. what the hell are the bees all about.
at this point she started to cry,
dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief
she pulled out of her high frilly collar.
come on em, you can do better than that.
i couldn't stop for lunch, what's
that? how about death, i couldn't stop for
death, now that's a poem. death, broken
hearts, love gone awry. that's
the kind of stuff people want to hear.
hmmm, she said. still sobbing a little.
maybe you're right. i'll keep trying.
good i told her. death, immortality,
stuff like that. be puzzling and
convoluted, critics like that too. and
the rhyming, you're hung up on that end
line rhyme, what are you, dr. seuss? tupac?
mix it up a little with some free verse.
just saying. i'm not giving up on you.
you have some talent, you're just a little
uptight. I looked at my watch. look, i
don't mean to run you out, but i'm missing
my show here. okay, she said. okay. i'll
work on it. is it okay if i bring it over
later to show you. sure, i told her, sure.
thanks, she said meekly, you're such
a good friend. but hey, i said, if i
have a red sock wrapped around
the doorknob, you know not to knock,
right? yes. she said. i do know that kind sir.
i will not knock if there is a sock.
whatever em. whatever.

a new language

you learn
another language,
tired of your
own, better
yet, you learn
to speak with
your hands in
getures like
a primate
at the zoo.
hunger,
thirst, love
and anger all
find it's way
into the motion
of your hands,
this annoys
people, but
you don't care.
you are tired
of your own
voice, of being
misunderstood.
you have shortened
conversations
to the basic needs
of your life.
and gives you
more time for
other things,
things yet
undecided.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

on the bus

how the miles
unfold below
your seat,
as the wheels
roll hard
and long against
the black
pavement. through
the tunnels,
over bridges,
speeding through
each toll, each
minute tossed
aside as you
stare at a sun
tinted green
and blue settling
towards it's
next tomorrow
and what it may
bring at journey's
end for you.

time's square

as you stand
in time's square
on a warm
november evening
and the neon
obliterates
the darkness while
music plays,
drums are struck
as if some ancient
ritual is in progress
and cops on horses
walk through
the crowd, you
stand and try to
make sense of it all.
the naked cowboy
strumming his
guitar, the corner
vendors with
posters and chestnuts
hot dogs and pretzles.
the bars, the food
the show girls
and billboards,
there is madness
in us all, and this
carnival succeeds
each night in saying
so.

hot pastrami

worried about
the future we both
go down to
see the gypsy
on 42nd street
and lexington.
she's got a room
above a tailor's
shop that makes
clothing for
theater, the clergy
and the dead.
we get the two
for one deal
and she presses
our hands against
the table turning
them over and over
looking at the lines
and creases, but
says nothing.
and finally it's
time for lunch
and she orders
three hot pastrami
sandwiches and smiles.
on rye with mustard
and a pickle she
says looking at
me, smiling. you're
good i say, you
are good and so
we eat, then go
on about our lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

old spice

when the ticket
taker at the movies
asks you for
id, it's not
because you are too
young, but quite
the opposite
and may qualify
for a discount based
on the fact that
you are probably
closer to the end
than she is. she
means no harm
nor does the boy
who holds the door
or asks you if
you need help
getting your
groceries to
the car. you resent
aarp and their
sunny magazine
with ads for sleep
apnea and
indegestion, and
hearing aids.
to hell with
the clapper and the
big numbered remote,
you shake
your head at
the traffic cop
who looks like
a boy scout.
the train has left
the station
and it's moving fast,
but it ain't over
yet. you've still
got a jump shot
and a bottle
of old spice.

bus to nyc

with ticket
in hand
you stand and
wait in line,
bag at your
feet, to board
the bus
to new york
city. you
have money
in your pocket.
camera.
a change or
two of clothes
and her beside
you to
keep you warm
when the wind
blows cold
across
the hudson.

packing

you begin to
pack your bag
for a two day trip.
you have enough
clothes to get
you through
a week stuffed
into the multi
layered zippered
bulging suitcase,
but you can't
find anything
that you can
eliminate. what
if it turns cold,
or rains, or
the pillow in
the hotel is stiff
and old. and
shoes, brown
and black. walking
shoes, casual
shoes, going to
a show shiny shoes.
somehow you manage
to close it up
and sit on
the porch waiting
for the cab to come.
you almost forget
then run in and
squeeze a few
packs of gum into
the little pocket at
the top, next to
the phone charger,
the battery pack,
the camera, pen
and pad, the map,
the pocket change
left over from the
last two day trip
you took.

full moon

after one
too many
martinis
you slip
on the wet
pavement
and roll
over onto
your back.
you stare up
a the perfect
white plate
of a full moon.
it's unflinching
eye looking
down on the likes
of you, not
trying to get
up, but enjoying
the lunar
moment and
wishing you
had a pillow.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

rolling down the hill

there are children
at the top
of the grassy hill,
red cheeked in
hats and gloves,
lying sideways
about to roll down
the steep green slope,
and before they do
they yell out,
watch me mom, watch
me. and as their
mother turns her
head to gasp at what
they are about to
do they all begin
to roll and roll
and roll down
the sweet uncut grass
of their youth.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the toy boat

the small
asian man,
with a cigarette
unlit
in his lips,
stood in the cold
of the sunless
day, with his remote
control box
in his curled hand
near the flat
blue lake,
his black boots
in mud,
he brushed the grey
hair from
his eyes and
laughed while his
toy motor boat
screamed
across the watery
plains in circles,
in zig zags,
in stops
and starts,
whistling as it slid
as far away as
it could go on
it's battery,
then back. and when
he saw me watching
nearby, he smiled
and said, i have
another one
in my car. it's
bigger too.

the road less traveled

you place a book
at the bottom
of the door
to keep it open.
to keep the air
flowing in as
it moves across
the long green
lawn in the form
of wind. it's
a book of poems
by robert frost who
you can only read
in spans of two
minutes or less
without yawning
and going to
the fridge to
make a sandwich.
it's not that it's
bad poetry, or
unreadable poetry,
that would be
heresy, it's just
not my cup of meat,
as dylan would
say. it's tedious
and hard and
immedded with metaphor
and similes,
and mystery that are
all entwined like
thick green ivy
along the stacked
stones and wood
of that good fence.
it not only makes
me a good neighbor
but an indifferent
reader as well.

Monday, November 7, 2011

the story

there is more
to the story. there
is always more.
you can embellish,
make the room
darker, or lighter,
paint the walls
yellow, make
the curtains thin
like rain, green
like apples.
there is always
someone you can
place in a chair
within the room,
and a clock on
the wall that has
stopped. there can
be noise, the choke
of the radiator,
or two people
making love
on the other side,
in another rented
room. there can
be a knock at
the door, that's how
the story can
begin, or the phone
ringing late into
the night and you
pick it up and say
yes. hello.

rented room

you rent the room
above the kitchen.
there is an
ashtray on the table.
a cane left
in the corner.
a plant has survived
and sits green
on the sill
awaiting sunlight.
you sit on the soft
bed, feeling
the springs and hear
the faucet down
the hall dripping.
there is a book,
the secret of gaining
wealth and power
on the nightstand
next to an empty
bottle of gin. you
lie down and turn
off the light.
you close your eyes
and say, it's only
a dream, it's only
a dream.

like a stranger

kiss me like
a stranger
she said to me.
hold me
like there is
no tomorrow.
kiss me
like a stranger,
like it's
the very
first time,
tell me what
i want to hear,
even if it's
a lie. just
kiss me, kiss
me like a
stranger.

instant pudding

the instant
pudding
that you put
before me
needs a dollop
of cream,
whipped and
yes, with
a cherry
on top. i
don't ask
for much,
and if i do
not very often,
but this is
one thing
i draw
the hard line
on. instant
pudding. i'll
wait.

blue monday

the lack
of light
coming through
the blinds
just barely
the color
yellow, slipping
through into
the half lit
room and you,
the full length
of you lingering
on the couch
in a pool of
blue shadows
as if underwater,
awaiting what,
we both aren't
sure of, perhaps
the air
of an idea
to get up for.

cowboy up

you need to cowboy
up she told me
as i was spreading
neosporin onto
a paper cut on my
index finger. ouch,
i said as i applied
the translucent goo
to the quarter inch
long gash along the
tip of my pink digit.
huh, cowboy up, what
do you mean, i said?
you know, she said,
be tougher, be strong,
be brave, take some
chances with your
life. do some
hiking, go riding
along the trail,
cowboy up!
but i'm really afraid
of horses, i said,
and i'm not much one
for camping and eating
beans around the
campfire. at this
point she got up
out of bed and started
doing her morning
routine of push ups
and sit ups. i put
a pillow behind my
head and leaned up,
arm in the air on
account of my paper
cut and watched her.
you know, these
sheets are really soft
i told her as she
grunted out the count
of each push up. what
are they, 600 count,
very nice and soft.
i like em.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

carryout

she had one
dish. chicken.
roasted,
baked, barbequed
and sliced
and seasoned
on a pyramid
of rice.
she didn't
want to learn
anything else.
it's enough she
said. and if
your aren't happy
with that, well,
too bad. i
have other
virtues with
which to make
you happy.

the fog of you

the fog
of you never
quite lifts
but lingers
just below
my knees
just above
the tips of
my toes.
it's thick
and mysterious,
every moving
around the
borders of
my otherwise
sunny life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

scratchy on the loose

i was sitting
on my front porch
awaiting the pea
pod truck to arrive
with a quart of
milk and a small
jar of marichino
cherries so that
i could make a
white russian
when my neighbor
gina came over
looking distressed.
she had a slew
of posters in her
hand with a picture
of a wild animal on
the front baring
it's teeth. she
had tears in her
eyes. what, i said,
what's up gina?
scratchy ran away.
your cat? no, and
she showed me the
photo of scratchy
with a reward of
a hundred dollars
printed underneath.
he's a ferret i
adopted from petsmart
and he's never been
out in the wild.
have you seen him,
she sobbed.
nope, i told her.
he has a little bell
collar, so if you
see him, or hear the
bell ringing, don't
try to catch him
with your bare hands,
he bites and scratches
pretty hard. i looked
at the long red
gashes on her arms
and legs. i see, i
said. hmmm. okay.
just throw a blanket
over top of him,
or a net if you have
one and call me. he
really likes peanut
butter, so if you put
some on the end of
a stick you can get
him close to you.
i'm posting a hundred
dollar reward. it's
just breaking my
heart losing him
like this. just
then the peapod truck
pulled up with my
quart of whole milk
and cherries. hey, can
i make you a drink,
a white russian
perhaps, no she said,
wiping her eyes, i'm
heading into the woods
to try and find him
before it gets dark.
well, good luck with
that. i'll let you
know if i see him, or
hear his bell a ringing.
thanks she said, handing
me a poster. she put
on her leather gloves,
grabbed her net,
then headed into
the darkening woods.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the sex talk

as we sit
in the theater
sharing a bag
of buttered
popcorn, before
the movie starts,
she leans over
and out of nowhere
whispers in
my ear. i'm done
with sex she says.
enough is enough.
i'm too old,
too tired, un
interested in that
sort of activity
anymore. i don't
want another man
to touch me as
long as i live.
just the thought
of it repels me
and makes my
skin crawl.
you shake
your head and say
nothing. you
sip your coke,
you eat your pop
corn and try to
answer the trivia
questions on
the big screen.
silence
is the only way to
go with this
conversation. and
as she reiterates
too loudly, no
more sex for me,
you promise
yourself that
never again will
you take your mother
to the movies.

thristy not hungry

the man on
the corner holding
the sign
saying god bless
please help
homeless in neatly
written block
print with a
sharpie wants
nothing to do
with the loaf
of bread i bring
him. it's black
olive
and still warm
from the oven
of the round
the corner bakery.
what do you
want me to do
with this he
says, as he looks
at the rounded
crusty bread
in the crinkled
bag. eat it,
i tell him. you
don't get it,
do you, he
admonishes me.
i'm thirsty, not
hungry.

left as it was

everything left as
it was, the toaster
where bread was
browned, the couch
set just so where
one could sit
and see a television,
a plant upon
the shelf still green,
and books with
pages dog earred
awaiting eyes
to begin again
to read. that purse
left on the table,
open where her
hand had been,
her phone still
blinking, and on
the counter, a
grocery list,
a ring of keys.

stars and sand

you don't need
to be old
to be there,
but it helps
as the brilliant
sun, sparkling
on a golden blue
sea, settles down
nicely for
the day. and you
sink into your
summer chair,
feet curled
in warm sand
and wait for
the stars
to arrive. and
they come and
come, until
there is nothing
but a cluster
of diamonds
that fills your
heart with joy.

the check up

feel my head
she says, i think
i have a fever. my
throat is scratchy
too. you put your
hand across her
mildly warm
brow and say no.
i think you're
just glad to see
me. open your
mouth, you tell
her with your
bedside manner,
let me take a
look at those
tonsils. i don't
have any, she
says, they were
taken out when
i was seven. hmm.
you say. well,
unzip your dress,
let's take a
closer look and
make sure there
are no rashes or
unusual bumps. if
you insists, she
says. you put your
ear against her
chest and say
your heart is
beating a little
fast, but otherwise
you seem to be just
fine. to be on
the safe side,
perhaps we
should stay in
tonight, open up
a bottle of wine.

silently the bus goes by

the deaf man
you see everyday
on the sidewalk
happy with his
friends
frenetically
signing, speaking
in their way,
has missed his
bus. he slaps
his hands against
his legs
and looks up
at the wet sky.
his lips are
moving, and you
beep your horn
to get his attention,
to offer him a
ride, but he
doesn't hear you.
and the car
behind you is
cursing as
the light changes
to red, and no
one has moved.

keeping time

you watch
the clock move,
it's black
hands rising
and falling
with each new
tick of each
second turning
towards
minutes, then
hours. and
the page of
the calendar
across the room
waits patiently
it's turn,
while the trees
outside join in
and let their
leaves drop
in a flurry
of timed color.
your hair too
grows white while
you bend towards
your own
tomorrow.

window washers

as the men
hang from
the side
of the building
and the slight
sway in wind
and shift
of an earth
every spinning
keeps them
fearful of
the fall
the glass
gets clean.
it's no easy
task to see
clearly what
needs to
be seen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

a new day

as you lean
the cold
extension of
the aluminum
ladder up
against the brick
wall in order
to climb onto
the roof
to reach the next
level of peeling
paint, and rotted
wood, and gaps
between
the boards
you see a red
bird sitting on
the roof's edge
watching,
waiting for
you to rise
and begin your
new day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

in the morning

the cracked
vase
on the shelf,
the torn
shoe, the broken
window
and stuck door,
the worn path
in the hall
rug, the stove
that won't
light,
the draft coming
in from
the attic.
none of it
matters when
i see you
in the morning
sleeping next
to me.

shawshank

you manage to wiggle
your way out of
your straight jacket
and saw through
the bars of your
cell before lunch,
but you know it
will be tough
getting over
the barbed wire
and past
the armed guards
posted high above
the wall. you
don't care though.
you will swim
through that
sewage pipe
and get out to
the other side.
it's well worth
the effort to be
finally free and
no longer married.

horizon

you begin
to tell her
how much you
really care,
how much you
truly love
her and want
to make a go
of it, but in
the middle of
voicing your
deep and
earnest affection
the call drops
because you
have a piece
of crap cell
phone and the
service
which ryhmes
with horizon
has monkeys
taking calls
and running ship.