Friday, December 30, 2011

down broadway

the ink hardly
dry on the form
where you both
signed, standing
in front of
a justice
of the peace
at city hall, her
in a new off white
dress, you in
the suit you
bought for your
uncle's funeral,
she says, lunch
at the ritz?
and you say, umm,
i'm sort of in
the mood for
deli. and so it
begins, kissing
goodbye, in two
cabs, going
in two directions
down broadway.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the orchard

you have reached
as high as you can
with feet
firmly on the ground.
your arms
stretching upwards
in all weather
to take the apples
into your open hand.
and you've filled
your basket for
one more year.
and this feat gives
you pleasure, of
having done so
well, and yet looking
down the hill
towards the fence
you see the few
trees that are left
to harvest in
your orchard, and this
thought gives you
something else
with which to ponder
your time and measure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the blue house

you buy ten gallons
of paint
and roll it onto
your house. even
the windows.
the roof, everything
gets painted
blue. it's a nice
blue. indigo.
dark and leaning
towards a shade
of violet and black.
not eggplant, but
more lively. it's
a religious blue
if such a thing
can be said. a deep
mysterious color
evoking both
sadness and a sublime
sense of wisdom.
it's your blue.
the blue of your
dreams, the blue of
your tomorrows.
the neighbors are not
happy with what
you've done, but
you are. and you take
a chair from the house
and sit in the yard
and you watch as
the sun sets down
behind your house
illuminating the
blueness of it all.

tv glue

you send away
for the glue you see
on tv. it's three a.m.
and the dog is
on your lap making
it hard to get your
credit card out
of your wallet, but
you do. a man has
glued his helmet
to a beam and is
holding on to it
with his hands
ten feet above
the ground. you need
this glue. there
is so much that you
need to fix. so
many cracks, and
holes, and broken
pieces of whatnot.
you buy a case,
express shipping.
you feel that you are
finally making an
effort to get your
life back on track.
your ex wife would
be proud.

speaking french

your memory
is sharpened
with one drink.
the color of
her eyes,
the way her lips
moved when
and diamond like
with two, every
word she said,
so clear, but
under three
short drinks,
the clouds
draw in and shade
the details.
you aren't even
sure if she ever
loved you, or
for the reasons
that she isn't here.
and at four,
you look across
the room, the last
love gone, and now
attempting to speak
french, you look
for more.

new sixty

she was always
in her later days.
the arched
eyebrows made
sure of that.
and the skin as
taut and tight
as a snare drum.
hardly a wrinkle.
the lips improved
just slightly, not
bulbous like
some, but curved
and round, like
ripe cut plums.
and her dresses
clung just so,
with the pointed
bags of
silicone to hold
the fabric firm,
she was a sight
to see at seventy,
trying hard
to smile not
grimmace at
the rim of a
chilled martini.

the darkness

it wasn't much
at first.
a paper or two
of old news,
a magazine
and then another,
unopened mail.
but soon even
an empty carton
of milk had
value and she
found a space
for that. it
seemed fine to
keep the things
once tossed away
since the divorce
was final, and
the boy moved out,
and the neighbors
changed. and
then there were
the cats, one
two and three
quickly became
four five and six
all finding homes
between boxes
and uncurbed trash.
somehow the light
threw nothing
onto it all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

going west

the hand
you held slips
west, off
to the side
of his own life
as it should
be, out of
the nest
and on wings
towards skies
you haven't
seen, but
have heard of.
it's no
small thing
this courage is
to leave
and find his
own way. there
is no more
packing of a
lunch, tucking
in a shirt,
or tossing
a ball in
the yard while
a summer sun
lingers. his
time has
come and your
hand opens
to let him go.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

the memory of birds

you wonder about
the memory of birds,
is their regret
in the way
they sit upon
the wire, or
how they stroke
their wings
across the sky.
do they ponder
the year's end,
another one
gone by. do they
think of things
undone, of places
yet to go, of
loves lost,
loves won, or are
they more like me,
content in the moment,
and ready to move on.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

ring ding juniors

dad, hey dad,
my son says while
i'm carefully
putting a stack
of lp records onto
the turntable.
i have a bunch
of 45's ready
to go too, with
the little plastic
adjustemnt ring
inserted in
the holes. what
are you doing, he
says to me. an
ipod wire is hanging
out of his ear,
while he texts
his girlfriend
what a dinosaur
dope i am. do you
know what century
this is, he says.
a hi fi system,
really dad. you
need to step it up
this year. it's
it's quadraphonic
i tell him.
see those four
three foot high
speakers in the corners.
state of the art.
i give up, he says.
is there anything
to drink and eat
in this house.
yes, i tell
him, there's some
tab, next to
the tang in the
icebox and a box
of ring ding juniors
on the counter.
help yourself.

a christmas miracle

you remember
last year's debacle
while drinking rum
and eggnog,
with the wrapping
paper, scotch
tape and scissors.
how you cut your
thumb, bleeding
as you tied it off
with a dishtowel,
but pressed on.
that last minute
rush to stuff
and wrap each
gift into the easy
tear reindeer
print blue paper
as thin as your
patience is at eight
in the morning
without coffee.
ah, the tree of
gift cards at
the grocery store.
how you stood there
for a glorious
a moment as
the store's
overhead music
pounded out another
white christmas.
it was an angel
of light
illuminating your
shopping spirit.
there they were,
all the stores that
you needed to shop
at, target and bed
bath and beyond,
victoria secret's
and subway, macy's
and spencers. it
was a wonderful
thing, these gift
cards. a christmas
in the making.


across the lawn
from the college
and the grey
statue of a soldier
from the civil
war, the old house
made of white
and tin roof, sags
with the weight
of time and rusted
nails. there is
not enough love,
or paint and
varnish to bring
it all the way
back, but the workers
climb on it like
bees to honey.
and someone, even
with the cracked
window, the leaking
pipe and the smell
of mildew someone
will buy it
and call it home.

lecture 101

ah, yes, she says
in her best
professorial tone,
about your so called
poetry. the loose
ends, the stream
of consciousness,
the random punctuation,
and lack of
the repetitive topics
of love and death,
women and women.
you need to tighten
it up mister, branch
out, stop looking
at your navel and
see the bigger
picture. there is
more to the world
than your small
myopic outlook.
hey, are you
listening to me,
hello, is there anyone
home. but i'm already
out the window
with hat in hand,
before she's done,
down the road
and she's talking
to pillows beneath
the blanket.
there's a poem
in there somewhere.

Friday, December 23, 2011

traveling home for the holidays

the christmas lights
which aren't
christmas lights
at all, but the red
blinking tail lights
of a million cars
on the road. like
rats on crack, they
are traveling home.
smelling that holiday
cheese, grinding
their sharp little teeth
to get there. from lane
to lane, hands white
knuckled on the wheel,
and on their foreheads
that thick long
purple vein, like
tinsel, that's
about to burst if
they don't get out
of the slowest lane
and begin to move.

the pebble

nothing matters
at the moment
but this pebble
in my shoe.
the sharp pinch
between sock
and sole with each
step taken. i'll
need to stop at
some point,
untie the laces
and shake it free,
but not right now.
it's keeping me
from thinking about
other things, like
you, and me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the grey cat

you dress
for rain, a cold
rain and wind.
it's time
you say for gloves
and hat,
the umbrella,
boots from
deep inside
the closet.
and as the grey
cat sits and
watches you
at the end of
the hall,
summer seems
so infintely far

the wall

on a bad day,
you start with a single
brick pressed firmly
in the ground, you tap
it clean, and set
the level down. and
the bubble, green,
says go, another one
beside it, another on top
between the wet
mortar and before
noon, before the sun
is fully overhead
the wall is there.
and your message has
been made. it's clear.

waiting in the window

you set out a glass,
a christmas tumbler,
a quart of egg nog
and some rum
on the table. you cut
a slice of pie,
and place it on
a good plate, with
a fork and knife.
you leave the tree
lights on so that
he won't trip and
fall when stumbling
home, if he comes
home at all. you
place his gift
where he can find
it. it's the least
you can do for
your father
on Christmas morn.

sanding down

the wood floor
sanded down, buffed
clean of fillers
and shine,
decades of thick
sheen. now just wood,
flat and plain
as the day it
was hammered down.
back to who it
was before others
insisted it
be different, we
could all use that
sanding from time
to time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

each child

all the same,
all different, she
sees her
in the yard. she
wants to hold
them in place.
right where they
are before love
finds them,
before death,
before tomorrow
slips past today.
each a cloud,
a jewel, a snowflake
in her hand.

Monday, December 19, 2011

bukowski once more

you peruse
the book store
for something
of interest, down
the lanes of
fiction and poetry,
and sexuality.
war after war.
a three hundred
page biography
of a twelve year
old actor.
cookbooks and travel
guides. so much
to read in one's
lifetime, who
has that kind
of time to turn
each page
of mediocrity.
and the dollar books
seem so sad, out
front. thief proof,
set out by the doors
where they sit
and sit and sit
as you leave
with cheever or
updike, or
bellow, or bukowski,
once more.

the small hole

no matter how
sturdy the vessel,
the number
of hulls,
the thickness
of the deck
or the count
of lifeboats
on board. it takes
a just a small
hole to bring it
to the bottom
and send
the passengers
over the side
and into the cold
deep waters
clinging to
what they thought
was love.

waiting on winter

you prepare
for winter this
way. with bags
of salt. with a
good shovel.
gloves of course.
and a coat
that will keep
the wind out.
a hat, a scarf.
boots. you
chop wood
and set it in
the shed to keep
it dry. and then
you wait
and watch
the clouds,
the moon,
the leaves that
fall, the leaves
that rise. it's
the waiting
that's hard,
as you well know.

one of those

when the nurse
comes down the hall
in her soft
white shoes, you
scream out,
nurse, please
nurse, more morphine,
i need morphine,
which makes her
stop and peek her
head into your
room. morphine?
she says. what's
wrong with you,
and you point
at your toe
where there's
a small splinter
below the skin.
i see she says.
you're one of
those, aren't you?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the whirlwind

you chase fame
and fortune
like a dog
after his tail.
it never
comes, never,
but it doesn't
stop you from
from circling
and nipping
at your own
heels. and
when you look
the crowded
room, you see
the whirlwind
of others, not
unlike yourself
with their tail
just out of

remember when

remember when
he says, that day,
that year that game.
remember the time
we did this,
then that, and
what you said,
and how we laughed.
remember, he
says, over and over,
each time we meet.
remember, he says,
as if there is
no now, there is no
future, there
is only the dust
covered past.

apricot sun

the distance
of time, like
the smell
of memory are
there, but not
there, in your
hand, though
empty with
palm up.
the beginning
and not
yet the end,
though coming
is all in
front of you.
like the apricot
sun that
you drive into
on your way home
from where
you were.

but it hurts

as i wiped
away with
the back of
my hand
the drops
of blood
on my pulsating
lip, i looked
at her and said,
why did you
bite me like that.
she smiled
and said because
i'm marking my
spot, my
and then she
kicked me
in the leg.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baby Jesus

how could something
so small weigh
so much, you think
as you steal
the baby jesus
from the nativity
scene at the exxon
station. you carry
it across the greasy
parking lot, trying to
avoid looking into
the painted blue eyes
and place him into
the back of your honda
civic, moving last
year's easter bunny
out of the way.
you like the snoopy
dog too that floats
above the gas pumps,
but it's too large
and would look suspicious
floating over your house.
the front of the car rises
as the weight
settles into the trunk.
they've drilled a hole
in his belly button
and filled
it with cement this
year, with the hope
that something like
this wouldn't happen.
there is a chain
around his head, too,
attaching him
to the stack of all
weather radial tires
nearby, but you need
the baby jesus, you
love the baby jesus.
so after a few snips
of your chain cutter
it's yours. now it's
just a short trip
to the liquor store
some photos of you
and jesus and then
posting them onto
your facebook wall
so that everyone can
enjoy the moment.

Friday, December 16, 2011

pumping iron

you decide to lift
weights, to chisel
your pasty white
dough boy body
into a statue
worthy of a roman
god. you envision
your bulging
biceps and thick
shoulders and pecs.
you see yourself
on the beach holding
up two bikini babes,
one on each flexed arm,
high into the air.
but first you need a
bucket of crispy fried
chicken, some fries
and a slice
of cake before
you get the weights
out of the trunk
of your car. you
eat your lunch on
the step, slurping
on a coke and wait
patiently for someone
to come home from work
to help you get the
box of dumbells
into your house.
you are happy with
yourself. it's a new
you. a new day.

the day's end

it's the twinkle
of star
left over
for the morning.
the blink
of an eye, it's
the unopened
mail, the drink
left on
a bar. it's a
man next door
making love
to his wife,
it's the dog
howling at
the thin moon.
it's someone
saying no. someone
saying yes.
it's a crowded
an unwed mother
on the side of
the road,
it's the torn
shirt, the ticket
the jealousy
of others.
it's the gift
you never bought.
the lips
you never kissed.
it's the cancelled
plan, the hot
bath you crawl
into with
the lights off.
it's the end
of your day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the letter

i received your
letter in the mail
the other day.
it fell through
the slot in
the door.
not really.
nobody sends
letters anymore.
but i imagined
it just the same.
the paper that
you wrote upon,
the sealed envelope
and stamp fixed
firmly in
the corner.
the edges
crisp and white,
the paper folded
neatly into threes.
full of words
i longed to hear.
all of it in your
brisk, clean
style of writing
with pen and ink.
thank you.
yours will be
forthcoming, i'm
writing it now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

faith healing

at three
a.m. unable
to sleep
because shelia
won't leave
you alone
with her phone
calls and
text messages,
you flip
through the channels
on the tv.
your feet are
up on a taped
box of shelia's
belongings. things
that she's left
behind over the last
month of your
prolonged relationship.
clothes, shoes,
magazines and
her yoga mat, which
is rolled and folded
over, stuffed
within, but trying
to get out.
you flp through
the late night
debris of shows
until you come across
a faith healer
who is tapping
people on their heads
making them fall
backwards, cured
of their lumbago,
their itches
and limps, their
blurry vision
and hiccups. it's
amazing, as they
fling their crutches
away and start dancing.
it almost makes
you stop thinking
of shelia, until
the phone rings
again. there is
no cure for her,
but you take down
the number on the
screen, just in case.

italian mice

hungry for
you put a large
pot of water
on the stove
and turn the heat
up, then
you reach
up into the top
shelf of
the cupboard
for a box of
linguini and
take it out.
it's empty, hollow.
not a single
strand of pasta
left. the edges
and plastic
have been eaten
away. you look
up again
and see a few
fat mice
sititng there
at a table
with a very
small bottle
of red wine.
they look at you
and in unison,
and say, what?
you got
a problem?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


the man
down the street,
the unofficial mayor
of the court
wants me to vote
for him
in the coming
condo board elections.
he's running
for vice president
on a platform
of earlier trash
pick ups
and doggy scoopers
for all residents.
if elected, he
said, i'll make
sure the trash
and poop are gone
from our sidewalks
and lawns.
what more could
we ask for, i said.
what more?

you're fired

mopping floors
washing dishes
a paper route,
cutting lawns
with a dull blade,
painting houses,
stuffing insulation
into walls,
pushing a wheel
barrow of bricks,
digging ditches,
pushing buttons
on a machine, these
are just some
of the jobs i've
been let go from,
and with their
absence i was
left feeling calm
and serene.

the gift

a tin of cookies
arrives in the mail.
wrapped and marked
merry christmas.
but you don't wait
for christmas
who would? such
patience is unheard


as the dog
lies down
and turns
her belly up
to you with
blinking brown
eyes and a
large pink
tongue wagging
wet across
her teeth.
you understand
such love,
of needing
and so kneel
to scratch
and pat the soft
belly of her
soul, doing
you more good
than her.

not the only one

all the appliances
break down
at once. the stove
as you bake
a cake, the washer
as you spin
a load of whites,
the furnance
as the temperature
drops to freezing.
you laugh though
and shrug it
off when you stare
out the window
and see a rabbit on
crutches limping,
you're not
the only one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the hidden key

you place
a spare key,
silvery and new
beneath a grey
round stone
in the yard.
you deem it her
key and tell
her to please
disregard all
the other
keys that may
still be out
there under
a brick, or
a potted plant,
or behind
the down spout
in a magnetic
box. those
other keys are
ancient history
you tell her. i
had the locks
changed and
this key fits.


you wake
up in the arms
of marilyn
monroe, but
you aren't happy,
you know it's just
a dream, that
you are sleeping
and that the woman
beside you
in real life
is not her either.
but it's okay,
you're not much to
write home about
yourself these
days. you make
the most of the dream
though, you kiss
her neck and whisper
into her ear,
saying things like
i love you, i wish
you were really
here. but you don't
realize that you
are actually saying
these things out
loud until you
feel a slap against
your face, waking
you up. who the hell
is marilyn, your
wife says to you,
lifting off her eye
mask and taking
out her mouth guard
so that she doesn't
grind her teeth at
night. who is marilyn?
marilyn monroe,
you tell her, i was
having a dream. she
lets out a long
sigh, then turns
the light off,
putting her eye mask
on and her mouth guard
back in. now where
was i, you say
to yourself and
close your eyes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

in passing

you hear third
hand of a childhood
friend passing.
a small blurb
on a message board
as you stroll
the internet's
tangled web of
past and present.
it's chilling
this note of a man
as young as you,
as old as you,
as bright and
strong as you
now gone. you
remember well,
the long thin
scar on his face.
his smoothed
black hair,
the grin,
him holding a
frank zappa album
up to you
and pointing
at the cartoon
cover which says
weasel ripped
my flesh.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

a state of mind

as you stand
in the bathroom
wiping away
the steam from
the mirror with
the ball of your
hand, you lean
onto the sink
and gaze inward.
the phrase
age is just a
state of mind,
wanders into
your soggy brain
and you laugh.

i got the blues

i could have
been a singer, she
tells you one
night while you're
lying in bed, i could
have been a star.
then she starts
to sing. quietly
at first, but
louder as she
hits her stride,
sitting up in the bed.
before long there
are cats at
the window dogs
scratching at the door.
the neighbor up
above is banging
his cane against
the floor. i've seen
some hard times, she
says, between songs,
making her voice
deep and gravelly,
i've been down
a hard road, been
busted and broken,
my heart, my heart,
she begins to wail.
at this point you
throw a pillow at
her and say,
what's wrong with you?
we just made love
for ten, almost eleven
whole minutes.
aren't you tired?
i mean, it's really
late and i like
your singing, but
look at the time,
i have to go to
work tomorrow.
this is what i'm
talking about, she
says, settling
back onto the bed,
lying down. but
she keeps singing.
this love, this love
of ours, is not working
out, i got the blues,
i got the blues,
the she lifts some of
the pillows off your
head and whispers
into your ear one
last time,
i got the blues
and then some sort
of guitar noise.

Friday, December 9, 2011

lovers in the trees

etched into the grey
trunks of trees
are lover's words
intitials and names,
such as linda
loves steve, or d
plus j forever.
but the lovers are
gone now. off to
their own lives, so
different than the days
when they had time
to go to the creek
and stand with sharp
stones and carve
letters into the soft
green wood. their
lives are up the hill
in houses, full
of babies and bills
and televisions
that never turn off.
those trees are
forgotten now, those
words, those loves.
those dreams.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the meal

there is a point,
where you can,
at a table
sit without words,
or very few,
the bread is fresh
and warm,
the tomatoes
are sweet this year,
when little
needs to be said,
when so many
words have gone
before this meal,
more, she may say
and you nod. more
would be nice.
nothing left
unsaid, or said.
at this point
silence will

xmas list

i like
she says
throwing her
hair back
over her shoulder
and leaning
towards you
in that way
she does when
she wants
to look sexy
and open
to suggestions.
diamonds, yes,
she says again.
you put your pen
down, and
say, what else
is on your list?
what's the tenth
thing that you
had in mind.
let's start there.

one winter

the sharper shovel
digs best in the cold,
when the earth
is frozen, your
boot striking
the stiff metal
edge to push the silver
curve into
mud thickened
ground. nine feet
deep, twelve
feet wide, three
feet across to
get to the crack
on the basement wall.
and at nineteen
you could dig all
day and loved it.
your new bones,
muscled and lean,
and freshly carved
face sweating below
a sun that hardly
knew you.

more windows

we need more
books, more
windows, more
light. we need
another opening
to let in
the sun,
to let
out the darkness
that we learned
so well
when we were

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

things to count on

her roof was leaking.
so there were pots
and pans scattered
about catching rain
drops as they slowly
made their way
through the shingles,
the wood, the drywall.
it was a symphony
of pings and drips
as she sat there
in her red boots
with a glass of wine
staring out the grey
seamless window
of river and sky.
the rain would stop.
the wine would run
out and things would
dry. these things
she could count on.

the metric system

what's that on your
wrist, that plastic
band, i asked her
as she was baking
a cake, the blender
was going strong
as the batter
spun in a large
glass bowl. it's my
conversion chart,
she said, cheerfully.
conversion for what?
i'm using the metric
system these days.
oh, really? yes,
it's eventually
going to be the only
form of measurement
used. hmm, yeah,
right i heard that
in the fourth grade
about a hundred years
ago. could you move
that cook book
a few centimeters
closer to me, i can't
see it, thanks.
oh, and get a gram
of butter out of the
fridge. oh, and can
you pull your car up
a few meters, my
new best friend
gina from germany
is on her way over.
where did you put
the vodka, i asked
her. i think i'm
going to need a drink.
check the freezer,
she said,
i think there's a
liter bottle in there.

cold coffee

he was a stubborn
child. no, was a
word he used quite
often. never, was
another, folding
his short thick
arms across his
little barreled
chest. and when his
breath was held,
and made his skin
a shade of bruised
blue, he'd get his way,
whatever he thought
best for him, never
for you. i see him
every morning these
days, his hands tight
and red on the wheel,
cursing the traffic,
or stamping his
feet when the train
is late, or the coffee
cold, and weak.

it looks like rain

the unspoken
words are
the ones
that need
to be said.
funny how that
is. how we
avoid the truth,
how we keep
each other
in the dark,
ourselves. so
much easier
to say, it's
cold out,
it looks
like rain.
take your
overcoat, please,
don't be late

for roland flint

and when the poet,
dead now,
came to read at
the community college
carrying a briefcase
from his work
at georgetown,
the late night class
sat impatiently
with their own poems
and stories waiting
to be read. and
as the bearded man
took off his coat,
adjusted his glasses
and tiredly read
the one about chopping
wood and aging,
and then the one about
a son who dies young
and a daughter
who still mourned
the loss, the thought
of us going after him
seemed impossible,
and so as one,
the class went out
to feed him, and pour
drinks down his
tired and wisened
soul, and to give him
another night, perhaps,
to write about.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the ink cards

okay, she says,
now i want you to say
the first thing
that comes into your
mind when i hold
up this card. don't
hesitate, just stare
at the image and
say a word that
you think of.
so she holds up
the first card.
spilled ink you say
right away.
she turns it over
and says, okay,
the next one.
more spilled ink
you say. no, she says,
you don't get it
do you? say something
else other than
spilled ink. but it's
what i'm thinking
of when i see
the card. aaargh, she
says, say spider,
or elephant, or
your mother, something
like that. but why.
wouldn't i be
doing that to please
you? you just don't
get it do you? she
says, can't you play
along? no, you say.
that's why i'm here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

the land of her

your hands move
slowly down
the length of her,
feeling each
crevice, each soft
turn of hip
and breast.
the wetness of her
lips, the lobe
of her ear. your
hands move
across the land
of her, the closed
mystery of who
she is beside you
and where she
comes from.
your hands move
across the bridge
of her nose,
the velvet arc
of her eyebrow,
the rise of her
neck, the small
island of her soul.
your hands move
trying to learn
all of the things
you'll never
quite know.

the empty jar

you put an empty
jar upon the stoop
in front of your
house. it has no
lid. when it rains
the rain gets in,
when it snows, like
wise, and then
the sun and wind
blow it dry and
clear again. and
people ask when
they come to visit,
time and time again
about the jar. but
you don't feel a
need to explain.
it's beyond words,
you tell them and no,
it has nothing
to do with love or
the lack thereof.

white christmas

you decide to get
into the christmas
spirit, so you buy
some eggnog and a bottle
of rum from the local
liquor store.
the clerks are all
wearing reindeer
antlers on their
heads and christmas
music is cascading
down through the well
lit aisles as you make
your purchase. on the way
out you drop some
change into the salvation
army bucket as a santa
rings the bell. you go
home and fix yourself
a nice holiday drink
while pulling out
the box from
the hall closet full
of lights and stockings,
old greeting cards,
candles and ornaments.
you ponder getting
a real tree this year
and so pull out
the string of lights
first. somehow they
are all wrapped in a
large ball, entangled.
you stand back, looking
at the mess, sipping
your drink. you put
on some christmas music.
lining up a stack of albums
onto the stereo.
the scratches are hardly
noticeable as the needle
slides along. sinatra,
the bingster, andy
williams, madonna,
then you attempt
to unravel the lights.
you plug them in
and they all light up.
some of the strings
are blinking.
but you can't
find the end, the middle
or the beginning.
at this point it's
time for for another drink.
you put a candle in
the kitchen window, then
fix a tall eggnog, sprinkling
a dash of nutmeg on top
like you see them do
on the cooking channel
then go back
to the lights. in
the bottom of the xmas
box you discover beneath
a book about the rockettes an
unopened tin of cookies
from swiss colony. you
can't read the smudged
name on the tag, but it
looks something like
love, mom, or close
to that. they are wafers
mostly, but still fresh
and crisp as you begin
to eat them.
the lights are impossible
to unravel, but they are
a brightly lit and colorful
tumbleweed of wires,
which is kind of nice
in it's own way. you roll
the ball of lights
into the corner where
the tree was going to go.
you decide to take a rest
and lie down on the couch,
turning the lights
off except for your
ball of lights. you
finish off your second
drink, and some cookies
while the dog jumps
onto your chest to
get the crumbs off.
before you know it
you are sound asleep with
the lights blinking
in the corner,
and the record stuck
and skipping on
white christmas. i'm
dreaming, i'm dreaming,
i'm dreaming, bing
says long into the night.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

a can of soup

you reach up into
the cupboard
to pull out a
can of soup,
and you stare
at your arm,
stopping for an
instant to gaze
at the grey
hair, the thin
long bone
and flesh of
you. it's just
a can of soup,
but you see
the years gone by,
the meals that
are yet to come.

the night

you twist
beneath the sheets
as the old
radiator clangs
the night. your
bed is cold
despite the cat
beside you.
the moon, hangs
in the window,
within a scarf
of clouds, it says
nothing, it says
everything. and
morning seems
so far away.


she wanted
new shoes, so
she visualized
a pair of dark blue
heels and she
found them in a store
the next day.
and then there
was the dress
to go with it.
silky and sequined,
something for
a party, and she
saw it in the window
of neiman marcus.
and of course
the handbag. all
visualized and soon
purchased at
nordstorm's rack.
then she thought
long and hard,
visualizing a man
to fall in love
with who would
go to a party
with her, someone
to fit her every need,
and then i showed up.
i guess it doesn't
always work, she


a man on the street
sees you carrying
a box of food,
leftovers from
the meal you just
ate in a restaurant,
and without
hesitation or shame,
says, are you going
to eat that.
he's wearing shorts
in thirty degree
weather, a headband,
red white and blue.
there is a backpack
heavy on his
back. wild eyed
and bearded, he stands
and waits for an
answer. you hand
him the styrofoam
box and he begins to
walk with you.
thank you, he says.
and then begins to
tell you a brief tale
of his life story.
you nod politely,
but try to get away,
he asks you how we
should solve
the illegal
immigration problem.
you tell
him you don't know,
then move quickly
to the other side
of the street.
he stops, and when
you look back,
he's sitting on
the curb, eating
pizza. talking
to strangers about
the end of the world.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

the hot sign

you want a donut
badly. all day
and all night
for a week you've
been thinking about
nothing but
donuts. chocolate
covered, glazed.
jelly filled,
long delicate
eclairs and
cinammon donuts
fresh from a hot
oven. your lust
for donuts
has taken over
your mind. you go
online and browse
pastry sites.
clicking on each
image wishing it
was yours to bite
into. your mouth
hangs open like
a madman, drooling
onto your desk.
your stomach
gurgles at the photos
of donuts all in a
row, in neatly
packed boxes.
some sitting alone
on white plates,
with a cup of coffee
beside them. long
ones, short ones,
fat ones without
holes, which aren't
called donuts, but
something else. oh,
how you wish you
had a donut. you put
your hand on the phone
to call your sponser,
but you don't call.
the tempatation is
too great, you've lost
all willpower and
finally you give in.
you put on your loose
fitting pants
and take a drive.
it's time, you
can't hold out any
longer and you go
downtown, and slowly
roll by the donut
shop, staring into
the window, you see
a waitress gently
putting her hands
onto the racks,
donuts, sometimes
two at a time into
boxes and bags,
but you can
wait a little longer,
and you circle
the block. you are
waiting for
the hot sign
to flash on.

new friends

a dog follows
me home one night.
he has a friend
with him. a black
and white cat.
neither have
collars or tags,
or leashes. when
i turn around
to look at them,
ten yards behind
me, they stop
and talk to one
another, pretend
the cat rubs her
back up against
a streetlamp,
while the dog
absently chews
on a stick, pretending
indifference. so
i keep walking
until i get
to my house. they
are still there
behind me,
but closer now.
i turn around to
face them, and say
what's up. why
are you following
me. the dog
is sitting
on his hind legs
with his tongue out
and shrugs his
shoulders, while
the cat is rolled
over on her back
purring, tossing
up a ball of yarn
she had with her,
okay, okay, i say
to the both of them.
come in. let's see
what we can do.

Friday, December 2, 2011

yoga class

in an effort to get
in touch with my inner
being and get more healthy
i decided to take a
yoga class. i went
out and bought some
blue tights, and a yoga
mat that rolled up
nice and neat under
my arm. the first
session, there were
only eight people,
all women except for
me and a guy in wheel
chair who was smoking
a cigarette that
the instructor
made him put out.
we did breathing
exercises first, which
i aced. i got the
breathing down really
fast, although i did
almost black out at
one point, breathing
a little bit too
i was a little self
conscious, so i lined
up in the back row.
i'm not normally walking
around in blue tights
looking like one
of the sugarplum
fairies in
the nutcracker suite.
then we started doing
some more complicated
poses, which i failed
at. my legs wouldn't
bend much, or go behind
my ears. the praying
mantis, forget about
it. the instructor
finally came over
and tried to help
me cross my legs, but
i think i injured my
knee as she pressed
one leg beneath the
other. i let out a loud
scream, which sort of
broke the medatative
mood of the place.
i told her that i'm
usually a lot looser
after a few drinks,
but she said no drinking
during class. so i
asked her what she was
doing later. if she'd
like to grab a drink
downstairs at the hunan
kitchen right below
the studio. she was
really cute and was
able to stand on her
head, and do the splits
without tumbling over.
i really really
liked that. no, she
said emphatically. no.
in fact, i think you
should roll up your
mat and just leave.
and take your friend
in the wheel chair too.
but we just paid ten
dollars i said and we
really want to learn.
she gave me a twenty
and pointed at the
door while the rest
of the class, very
unyogi like clapped
like seals.
so we left and went
downstairs for some
noodles and a mai tai.

what love is

she loved to
paint all day.
standing by
the window
with her canvas,
her pallet
of paints
and brushes.
but her horses
looked like
cows, her vases
looked like
jars. the colors
were wrong,
and the faces
so when she asked
how do you like
it, what
i've done today.
there was no other
answer, but to
say, i love it.
i love it as
i love you.

the penny

the penny that
you drop
that rolls
and spins
to a sudden
stop flat
upon it's
face will
lie there
for a long
long time.
a season or
two, or three
until someone
bends with
luck in mind
to pick it
up and see,
just see
perhaps, if
things will
start to
look up without
a thought
to lincoln's
own misfortune
and obvious
lack of luck.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

from russia, with love

my friend olga,
from moscow,
and i were
making some stew
the other night.
a cold front had
moved in and
the weather made
one crave for
comfort food.
i will bring
the meat and the
potatoes she said
over the phone.
you bring vodka.
yes? she isn't
exactly a petite
woman, so i pretty
much listen
to whatever she says.
she likes to cook
with her hair in
a net, stirring
the broth with a long
wooden spoon. i asked
her what kind of meat
she was slicing
and dicing,
dropping into
the boiling cauldron
of potatoes and carrots.
don't worry about it
my little friend,
she said. fix me
a drink. meat is meat.
in russia, it is
impolite to ask what
kind of meat it is,
you are cooking.
you are spoiled and
soft here with your
free range chickens
and angus beef.
just eat it. she
turned and smiled
at me showing her
eastern bloc gold
teeth. the lipstick
didn't help much.
her cheeks were
rosy from the heat
of the stew and her
sleeves were rolled
up above the elbows.
she had the window
open as snow
began to fall
and blow in, melting
against her face.
where is my drink,
she said. i took
a sip of mine and
handed her a glass
of vodka on the rocks.
what are you drinking?
what is that green
drink you are sipping
like a girl? it's
an apple martini, olga.
you aren't a sissy man
are you, she said,
throwing down her drink
in one gulp.
no, i'm not, i said,
and dropped the red
cherry into my mouth.
i beg to differ.

what was her name?

as your cell
phone sinks slowly
to the bottom
of the tub,
having slipped
out of your soapy
hand, and you
listen to the gurgling
voice of the person
you were just
talking to just
before it shorts
out, and the phone
goes dark,
you close your
eyes and try
to remember a girl
you knew in school,
how you talked for
hours on the black
kitchen phone,
it's curly stretched
cord reaching the
top of the baseent
stairs, the wire
running below a
closed door. what
was her name?

wish list

you make a list
of things you want
not things you
necessarily need,
but want, a wish
list, if you
must. a new kitchen
would be nice.
a new stove,
a white glass
floor, candy apple
red cabinet doors.
a new car. a real
vacation. not those
two or three days
away, but two
weeks where you can
loosen up, feel
the sun get into
your bones and make
you forget where
you came from.
it wouldn't be
a long list,
and of course
you'd be on
that list too.

the well

some mornings
you drop
your bucket
down into
the well, but
there is nothing.
just the hollow
sound of metal
hitting bottom.
no water comes
up. but if
you're lucky,
if you're blessed
someone comes
over with a tall
glass of water
to get you through
the day.