Monday, December 31, 2012

saturday matinee

you go to the movies
on a cold
winters saturday
and people
are coughing
behind you, beside
you, in front
of you. the screen,
thirty yards away
is blurred
with their
sneezing.
you shield
yourself with a
giant box of
popcorn, ducking
when you hear
the gagging,
the rustling of
kleenex as noses
get blown
like french horns.
it's not unlike a world
war one infirmary
full of mustard
gas victims
coming out of trenches
holding
their eyes and
throats. it's
hard to enjoy
the show, as you
lift your feet
and sit curled like
a ball
turret gunner
in a fetal position
waiting for
the previews to end
and the main
feature to begin.
you place junior mints
into the air
passages of your nose
to prevent
the germs from
floating in.
this movie better
be good.

boiled carrots

you start the new
year off
with a bundle of
bright orange
carrots. secretly,
though you hate
carrots. you buy
some kale too,
spinach and beets.
you are going to eat
healthy this year
if it kills you.
you stand at the
kitchen chopping
away for
the boiling pot
of water. tears
are in your eyes
from the onions.
and as you wipe
away the tears
you look out the window.
the yard is full
of deer and rabbits.
other assorted
wild animals.
mr. raccoon has
a fork and knife in
his hand and
a napkin around
his neck. they all
know that his new
diet of yours
won't last long.
they wave their little
soft paws when
they see you looking.

post mortem

the trees
in the forest
are whispering
among themselves,
speaking
in hushed tones
about
the others.
the dead.
the ones with
tinsel
still hung
on dry limbs,
lying now
on curbs
with wreathes
and empty boxes.
they shake
their high heads
in the january
wind,
sad for the ones
gone down, cut
off so young,
watered
and wired with
lights, for
a week or two,
some just
for one night.

let it burn

standing out
in the cold
with your
hands over
a barrel
full of flames.
you watch
the papered
memories of
the last year
burn, fly
softly into
the air,
white ash
against
the black sky.
fire has a
way of cleansing
your soul,
clearing
the brush
and debris
that you once
tried so
desperately
to hold. the fire
is warm.
the fire
is a blessing,
let it burn.

the day after

you spend the day
standing
in line
returning gifts.
that pink
nightie just
wouldn't do,
with the matching
stiletto
heels that are
already coming
unglued,
nor the bright
blue ring
the size of a
beetle that
doesn't fit any
finger. and the book
on the civil
war for your
pacifist brother.
what were
you thinking.
your mother was
insulted by the spice
rack,
and your father
upset by your gift
subscription
to the aarp
magazine. even your
dog ignores
his new rubber
ball and stares out
the window
at a stick
and a squirrel.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

out of hands

out of hands
to hold,
too old now
to find
another, too
weak
in the knees
and heart
to let
another love
go, or
have it
mysteriously
end, like
melting snow,
she finds
comfort
in sleep
and old dreams
and in the dirt
where she
kneels each
spring
with seed.

the blue room


the decorator
sweeps her
hands out
and says,
a shade lighter
perhaps
of blue
would work best
on the north wall.
that wall
is dark
and needs a broad
stroke of light
to open up
the room
to enlongate
the length
and space you
rest in. but
you smile
and say,
i'll leave it
up to you,
you choose. i
only need a pillow
and a bed
and to remove
my shoes
to find sleep.

talking cats

how strange it
seems when cats
are vocal,
emmitting sounds
like hoarse
babies,
not quiet
and serene as
you know them
to be on most days.
but hunger
or love is needed
at times,
in all our lives,
and by being
silent is not
the way to get
them, nor is
scratching and
drawing blood
a good way too.

you look best in black

she says things
like, you look better
in black,
which means i hate
that red sweater
you're wearing, i'd
like to rip it off
your back and throw
it into the trash.
but she's not unkind
like that. instead
she'll find a thread
and pull at it
when you aren't
looking, unraveling
it slowly, going almost
unnoticed, making
you into the person
she wants you to be.

the cost of butter

the price of milk
rises,
eggs too and bread,
soft butter
in a tub,
detergents,
all of it inching
up by pennies
each week
or month, who
knows for sure,
there is no
announcing of penny
increases,
you just put it
into the cart
and go on your way
happy not
to be milking a
cow, or churning
butter this or
any cold day.

new art

you tire of the art
on your walls.
the photographs,
the prints
and abtracts.
they have been
hanging there
for years,
centered and
measured just so.
feeding your eyes
with the same
images both
day and night
as the lights go
on, or the sun
comes up.
you need
new pictures,
new colors, a new
city to hang
near the window,
a different point
of view to
move you.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

the beard

you grow a beard
to appear wiser.
it's better
than any diplomas
pinned to a wall.
you sit outside
the coffee houses
and stare
at a point
in the distance
as if meditating
on the future of
mankind. slowly
you run your fingers
through the bristles,
petting it as
if it's a cat
wrapped around
your face,
white and grey
like wisdom
should be. you
keep quiet. you
have observed wise
men and none of
them talk unless
spoken to, or asked
a question that only
they can answer.
you'll try that
for a while,
be one of them,
keep silent,
until they find you
out, until they know
that it's just a beard
and you're still
a dope.

why aren't you married?

in tears your
mother calls you to
tell you something
of great importance.
sobbing, she says sit down.
are you sitting down.
i'm lying in bed
mom, you tell her,
i've got the flu
and a fever of a
hundred and three.
i'm using my forehead
to boil water as we
speak. what's up? ohhh,
you don't sound good,
she says. do you have
any chicken soup.
some hot tea with lemon
and honey? yes. yes.
why are you crying mom?
we lost power, she
says. the other day
in the wind storm.
are you achy. do you
have a headache, too?
no mom, but i feel
one coming on. your
voice sounds scratchy.
you sound like your
grandfather did right
before he died.
you need some vicks
vapo rub and a hummidfier.
i'm coming over. do
you want me to come
over? i can be there
in an hour, but i have
to get gas and stop
at the post office
first. do you want me
to pick you up anything?
you stare at the phone,
pulling it away from your
ear. why were you crying
mom. what happened when
you lost power. oh that,
she says. you won't believe
it. i lost all of my
sauces. all of my
frozen sauces that were
in the freezer in
the basement. i called
the insurance company to
make a claim, but our
deductible is too high.
that's it? that's why
you're crying?
i'm coming over, she says.
don't go out. and put
an extra blanket on your
bed. this is why you should
be married. there is no
one to take care of you.
why aren't you married? what's
wrong with you that no woman
wants you. it makes no
sense....why don't you
let your hair grow out
and shave once in
awhile...slowly you slip
the phone back into its
cradle and put a pillow
onto your head.

guns and god

your neighbor bill
has a gun rack
on his truck
and a holster around
his waist. he's
packing heat.
you see him loading
ammo into his basement
before he goes
to his survival
meetings on saturday.
on sundays after
church he goes
down to the shooting
range with his assualt
rifles and shoots
at targets
with his wife mildred
and their sons
billy and elmer in tow.
in the winter
he goes hunting for
elk while she
waits at home
with her skinning
knives, cutting carrots
and potatoes for
elk stew. they are good
people who like guns
and god. who would
want to take such
happines and joy
from their lives.

walking the dog

the police take you in
for questioning.
there was a man fitting
your description
who committed a crime
in your neighborhood
late last night,
the good cop says,
slowly filing his nails
in the corner
of the cinder block
interrogation room.
you laugh out loud.
a crime, what kind
of a crime?
you look towards
the mirrored wall
and wonder who's
behind there watching.
i've done nothing.
i walked my dog
about ten o'clock
and went into the house,
made some popcorn,
a white russian and
sat on the couch,
watching tv.
there was an all night
zombie movie festival.
i love zombie movies.
is that a crime?
i think not.
then the bad cop
steps over, one hand
is behind his back,
like he's holding
something. you flinch
as he moves in closer.
do you know what germs are,
wise guy, he says, filth,
rats, you ever heard of
the black plague,
disease and pestilence?
he puts his nose
close to yours and you
can smell the steak
and onions he had
for lunch. there's
a red pimento stuck
between his teeth. well,
do you punk, he says. do
you have any sense of
responsibility to your
fellow man?
sure, you shrug, but i
don't know what you're
talking about. then he
slowly pulls his arm
from around his back
and puts a sealed plastic
bag onto the table.
is that yours, he says.
i don't know, you tell him.
pick it up, he says, go
on, it won't bite you.
now open the bag and
smell it, take it out.
that's right put your hand
in there and pull it out.
take it out, he yells
in his bad cop voice.
you do as he tells you,
what is that, he says.
i dunno, a piece of bark,
mulch, you tell him. so what.
is that yours, well, buddy.
is it? maybe you say.
i don't know. it looks
familiar. a little.
just a little, huh?
have you been walking around
your neighborhood
with your dog, pretending
to pick up after him
when he does his business
with this fake bag of
dog excrement? you've been
carrying a piece of mulch?
every time you bend over
you put a piece of mulch
into a plastic bag,
and leave his waste
on the grassy areas and
walkways of your own
neighborhood? is that right?
you suddenly hear fists
banging angrily onto
the other side
of the mirrored wall,
the high pitched voices
sound very familiar. well,
the party is over for you,
zombie boy. you're busted.
in the corner, lighting
a cigarette,
you see the good cop
smirking and blowing on his
filed nails. he shakes
his head and laughs,
mulch, he says.

more fiber

you see your friend candy
sitting at the table
making a long list.
she presses a pen hard
to the paper,
concentrating. what's up,
you ask her, pulling
out a chair in
the coffee shop.
what are you doing?
it's my new years
resolutions, she says,
tapping the pen
onto the table.
cool, can i see.
how many do you
have so far? fifty-two
she says, but i'm
stuck. hmmm. maybe
take a little break,
stretch, get some fresh
air, that always helps
me when i'm stuck
writing like that.
she puts her head back,
and stretches her
arms up over her head.
read me some, you
tell her. okay, she says.
well, number one.
i want to get some botox
treatments to get
these lines off my
face. number two, i
want to lose three
pounds, right here. she
pinches her waist.
number three, i want
a new car, maybe a white
mercedes. number four,
wait, you tell her,
this sounds like a
christmas list of things
you want, not things
you are going to change
in your life to make
it better.
whatever, she says.
stop interrupting me.
and by the way,
i do have one of those
life changing things
in here,
number thirty-three,
more fiber.

tough chicken

a woman pulls
a knive
on you during
your dinner
date and says
i'm warning you
if you make
a move on me
later, i'll
cut you. so
keep your hands
to yourself.
you stare at
the knive
in her hand
gleaming in
the soft candle
light at the table
and say, okay,
no problem,
but can i borrow
that blade,
this chicken
here is kind
of tough.

Friday, December 28, 2012

the next flag

behind
closed doors
mop up
the blood,
the gristle
of bone
and tissue,
the debris
of livestock
carved
and pulled
apart.
the slaughter
goes unseen
as it
often does
in the swing
and sway
of history,
of dictators,
presidents
and kings,
of the next
flag
going up.

going home

you miss
the exit and end
up in another
state.
things are
different here.
the skies
are clear
and blue.
the water clean
and cold.
people wave,
people stop to
say hello.
you have strayed
from the road,
and it is
a good thing
to take
another
direction home.

banker's hours

taking a rare
chance
you press
your heart towards
another,
feeding a slip
of affection
into the slot,
but feel a cold
wind
across your
skin. your
heart is rarely
open, the hours
are even less
than a banker's
window.
and less now
as you flip
the sign
closed again.

the unkind world

you are amused
and somewhat amazed
at how small
things don't
bother you
like they once
did. the snub,
the angry words,
or rudeness
for whatever reason
seems almost
normal in
this day in age.
the unheld door,
the bump
in line. a car
that cuts you
off or
won't let you in.
how used to
the world you
are now, it being
so unkind.

the coffee house

along the narrow
stretch of sand and road
the sea oats
blow between
the thin pines
and scrub
brush thickly
tangled in dirt
and sand, a coffee
house appears,
once a fishing shack
perhaps, where men
could get their
hooks and lines,
their bait,
leaden weights
and other
assorted boating
needs, but now there
is espresso and hot
tea, and chocolate,
summer reading
upon the shelves
for when summer comes
again, a book on how to
filet a fish is not
far down from a grisham,
an old cheever, a brown.
and the two girls
behind the counter
pacing, thinking of
so much more of
when they can leave
as their nails
tap tap tap against
the machines.
you can see the clock
moving slowly
in their faces,
heavy and freckled
but pretty as only
girls can be at that
age. they wish you
with thin smiles a
happy holiday,
the bell ringing
behind you, over the
door as a december
breeze blows in,
goes out.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

on time

a naked man
is seen running down
the street.
you wonder
what led him to
this point,
what possible thing
has happened
to make him
strip down
to nothing and run
through town.
money problems,
love gone
wrong. his health?
who knows for sure.
and as they
play it on the news
over and over again
with a blackened
circle
strategically
placed, you see
that he has a watch
strapped
to his wrist.
he may have lost
him mind, but he will
be on time,
no matter where
he is going.

small change

you take
no money from
strangers.
not a penny to
make your bill
right. you'd
rather go out
to the car
and dig between
seats for
the quarters
or dimes you
might need.
you'd rather not
owe a soul,
be suject to
a debt that will
be unpayable.
you'd rather
give,
than receive,
at least when
it comes to small
change.

passing through

you nearly fall
asleep on the long
silver
train out of town.
your ticket
is bent
in your hand.
you travel light.
the rails
sing to you
a sweet lullabye.
they moan
softly over curves
and straight
aways, gaining
speed as you move
past the small
towns, the pastures,
the farms,
past old stations
where you catch
a glimpse
of faces you'll
never know, or
see again. so much
of life
is like that.
passing through.
passing through.

the arrivals

your arrivals
are coming
less and less
with time.
the places that
you have gone
to and need
to go again
are diminishing.
those who
welcomed you
have long
departed, as you
will too.
your arrivals
are not as
important as they
once were.
it's more
about departures
now. the last
time here,
the last time
there. the farewell
tour, if
you will.

the cold

your cold
grabs you by the head
and shakes
you. your eyes
burn. it then
goes for the neck
and lungs,
mugging
the sweet health
from your
bones. it rattles
your arms
and legs,
sends chills
like spurs up
and down your
suddenly warm
skin. your cold
is a thief
in broad daylight
telling you,
no matter how
hard you try,
you can't
keep him out.
surrender, get
some soup,
some tea. get
in bed and let it
happen.

daises

when as a child
you hid
under the wooden
desk
awaiting the furnace
blast of
the atomic
bomb
you remember
seeing susie
harrigan next to
you, coloring
still
in her book,
blue birds
and daisies
with her crayons.
how could the world
end with
such a wonderous
child
undaunted by
adults.

returns

you save
your receipts
for everything.
no one is
ever truly happy
with what they
get, unless it's
a car, or diamonds,
or an exotic trip,
but they
put on a happy
face, a pleasant
smile and say
something like,
oh how nice,
it's just what
i wished for.
it's perfect, thank
you for my window
de-icer spray
bottle.

the silent reply

silence
is deadly.
the harsh
look, the cold
stare, the
unanswered
rhyme to
the fallen
word upon
a page,
the slip of
tongue
or phrase.
silence
is sinister
and deep,
cuts
to the bone
with its
true
meaning, but
it's better
to know
than not
know.
better to hear
silence
than a lie.

oceans

there is no
match for the blue depth
of water.
the stretch
of immeasurable
darkness
and light, wild
with its wings
of waves
shining in old
moonlight
in winter sunlight.
there are no words
no stories
told well
enough to capture
it all.
you have to
keep going back
and back
and back, to get
a small taste
of the enormity
of what it is,
or could be.

the lightning prayer

move away from
the window
your grandmother
croaked
as you leaned
your skinny
sand rough
elbows on
the sill
and stared at
the magnificence
of lightning
scratching
silver across
the plum sky.
it will kill you
in an instant,
it will snatch
the breath out
of you, she said.
come over here
and pray
that it doesn't,
but you preferred
not to, and to
take your chances
with what god
had in store
for your life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

that holiday spirit

your relatives
come over
without notice
for a slice
of pie and a holiday
drink.
you see them
outside the window.
your aunt
and uncle,
your cousin bob,
your sisters
and brothers, all
peering in
as you peer out.
open up they yell,
we see you in
there. come on,
it's cold out here.
they knock and
ring the bell.
they begin to sing
christmas carols
as you hold
your breath trying
to wait them
out, but then
you see across
the room your mother
standing in the hall
with a shiny key
in hand, holding a
fruit cake
in the other.
it was under
the backdoor mat,
she says, then
helps you up.

a lump of coal

you are very
disappointed
in your christmas
gift.
coal. every year
another lump
of coal. you
try so hard to be
good.
but no one
understands
or sees the light
in you.
you are
misunderstood.
your lack of
affection and
aloofness is misread.
deep inside,
really really deep
inside
there is a small
candle of
good burning
bright. this year
for sure you will
turn things around,
you will
make changes and
make sure
that next christmas
everything
will be alright.

the seesaw

a reporter
comes to visit you
and ask you questions
for a feature article
he's doing
on failed poets.
it's going
to run in the kid's
section
of the post. he
takes your picture
first while
you rub your unshaven
face and swat
at a gnat circling
your ear.
so how long have you
been writing, he says,
staring into your
bloodshot eyes.
since i was four, you
reply. not well, but
i started then.
interesting, he says.
and what makes you
write, what makes
a poet tick deep
inside, what are
your inspirations.
i don't know, you say
and look out the window.
two kids are on a seesaw.
you can only
see one of them as she
goes up and down
against the blue sky,
her pig tails blow
in the wind.
a look of pure joy
and exhilaration
is on her face. what?
you say, did you ask
me something?

lucinda

you see
her in the morning
at the kitchen
table
filing her nails.
her hair
is a tumbleweed
of blonde
brush. she is
focused
and determined
with that file,
a silent storm
about to
burst into tears.
you say something
like, coffee?
but she doesn't
answer.
bagel and some
cream cheese,
lucinda? which makes
her look up
and say, oh, so
you finally
remembered my name.
how nice.

under the bed

on the outside
looking in
the place
is clean and tidy.
smells fresh
like pine cones
off a tree.
the books
are on the shelf,
the dishes
put away.
a vase of flowers
is on the table.
there is no
dust, no papers
strewn about.
but take a peek
in any closet
or under any
bed and therein
lies the truth
as to what goes
on here
in this house.

the chipped cup

the chipped
cup
cuts your lip
as you sip
on a hot
cup of coffee,
slow
drip. it's
a slight
wound that
will heal
over time,
and it doesn't
stop you
from turning
the cup
around to sip
on the smooth
side, but
it's a portent
of sorts
for what might
lie ahead
for the day,
or maybe it's
nothing, and it's
just the cup
telling you
that's it time
to throw it
away.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

doris

for the longest
time you
thought her name
was flora,
until
she spoke into
your good ear
and whispered,
it's laura
dear, not flora.
but by then
it didn't matter
you had moved
your affection
over to
doris, although
it could have
been delores.
she'd let you
at some point
which one
it was or wasn't.

we're even

i like the days
when nothing
happens.
when no one
calls, or writes,
or asks you
to listen to their
problems.
i'm sure they
like not hearing
from me
somtimes too.
so we're even
in that respect.

my own country

you throw up
the white flag
lay down your arms,
put your hands
into the air and
say i surrender.
let them have
it all, the land
the things they
want, whatever
it is they are
fighting for.
the thrill is
gone, the battle
over. it's all
yours, take
it and be gone.
i'm going home
now to rest
and live in peace
raise whatever
flag you want over
me. inside,
i have my own
country.

one more

a kiss is
like a drink
on a warm
summers night.
one leads to another
and then you
have the bottle
in your hand
and you keep
pouring through
out the night
ripping off
the label and
awakening
hungover in
a strange room
in the morning
light.

abstract art

you are jealous
of the abstract
artists
with their
worshipped
splattered
paintings, saying
things like i could
do that. in fact
i do that on a daily
basis. i spill
and splatter, i
drip paint
onto walls and floors,
clothes, hands
and arms. my
shoes alone are
a work of art.
look at this shirt.
it should be
in a gallery. pollock,
pffft, he was
an amateur
compared to the messes
i've made.

sins

the water isn't
hot enough
or the soap
strong enough
to wash away
the sins of
the world away
that you take part
in on a daily
basis. you're
trying your best
to curb your
appetites
and desires and
to seek
guidance of
a higher more
pure power, but
the hot baths
do help
on occasion.

Friday, December 21, 2012

the bird in a cage


the bird
is such a fabulous
yellow and green
reminding you
of tropical
islands,
full mangos
and wild berries,
the sound
it makes is
pleasant to your
ears, it can
almost speak
saying all the words
that others
have to spoken
into his
hidden ears.
so it's a violent
surprise
when your hand
rests upon
the bars and he
bites into your
thumb like a vise
with his curved
steel beak,
and the blood
flows red
and bright.

the game

on the narrow
streets
lined with
chained link
fences
and beat up
cars
where you
grew up,
you chalked
bases
onto the black
pavement
for stick ball.
these days
they are now
chalked with
bodies that
have fallen
from gunshots.
a game of
a different
sort, for sure.

good people

asleep
you do no
harm, your
lips are quiet,
no words
come out to
say bad things
about others,
your hands
are still,
no longer able
to lift
what is not
yours.
your feet no
longer take
you into places
you should
not go.
sleep
makes good
people out of
us all.

quiet

how you long
for quiet.
to hear
the walls
be still.
the cries
of others
silent.
how nice it would
be if the trains
stopped, if
the traffic
became still.
leaving
only the sound
of wind
sighing
in the trees.

the rest of his life

the spoon fed
baby
with doll blue
eyes opens his
mouth for
the next soft
bite of pablum,
and when it
doesn't come
quickly
enough he cries
and holds
his breath
until it
comes again,
more swiftly,
and in this way
he has set
the pattern
for his life.

finding beauty

you make a gouge
on the wall
marking
another day.
you put a check
in the bank
to break
even for the month.
you pour out
the sour milk
and buy a new
quart to place
on the shelf.
you change a light
bulb that
has been out for
a week
then spin it
dark again.
you turn the
phone off when
it rings.
you settle
in to stare
at the yellow stream
outside
your window
holding the moon's
soft face
in its hand.

on the road

you can't wait
to leave
town. to leave
the dust
and debris
of others
behind you.
to leave
the whistles
of wind,
the cold
brushes of
snow and rain.
you can't wait
to lock the
door behind
you and get on
the road
to another point
of view,
to a warm
place where
you can't be
found.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

lions

lions
with blood
on their paws
are asleep
in the afternoon
sun.
they are afraid
of no one.
with their stomachs
full,
the dry winds
push their scent
along the plains
and the survivors
hurry
towards the trees.
life goes on,
life ends.

around the corner

love is right around
the corner she tells
you over coffee.
i can feel it.
i think it's in
florida to be specific,
on the coast,
near a beach. maybe
miami. i think love
might be there. that's
not exactly right
around the corner,
you tell her, not wanting
to burst her love
bubble of hope,
you're right she says.
but i feel drawn
to florida. i see
a lawyer in my future,
a rich lawyer with
a white mercedes
and a mansion with
palm trees. you
lean over and take a
sip of her coffee,
what exactly have
you been drinking?

tuna sandwich

you find an old
sandwich between
the cushions
of your couch,
tuna
wrapped in plastic.
it's green
on the edges.
you give it
a sniff
and shake your
head. you dig
deeper
into the sides
of the pillows.
some chips
are there,
a half of brownie
from when
your neighbor
came over with
a plate of
food at
thanksgiving.
you find a stick
of gum too,
which is still
good for
chewing, you
you realize
as you blow
a bubble that
this is why you
need another dog.

travel

you don't travel
well, whether
by train
or bus, or car.
the plane
is a long tunnel
of cramped legs,
stale air,
and pain. you'd
much prefer
to walk somewhere
to visit and
then leave when
the bottle is
empty, the plate
clean.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

finished

she leaves her
watch
on the table.
you wrap it up
and give it
to someone else
for christmas.
it's a nice
watch.
all night you
can hear it
tick tick
tick inside
the silvery
paper with a
red ribbon around
it. this is how
you finish
your shopping.

i am not a racehorse

your friend from
germany
who used to visit
every blue
moon wore
prada
and gucci, leather
boots
and a feathery
boa
wrapped around
her tanned
neck, even at
high noon. i am
not a racehorse,
she used
to say to you
in the heat of
a romantic
moment, don't
slap me and you
listened because
you were afraid.

standing on his head

there used to be
a blind
man on the boardwalk
in ocean city
maryland
who stood
on his head
and sang
elvis songs for
money. his
hat was
full of bills
and change
beside his inverted
ears and face,
dark sunglasses
still hanging
on his nose.
being blind
and singing
wasn't quite enough
he must have
thought and needed
to do more.

sign here

no salesman
will call, or come
to your home.
today only.
this free sample
will do more
in one day
than an army
of maids. it will
change your life,
make you
younger, more
virile, make
you smarter and
stronger
overnight.
it will save you
time and money.
no salesman
will call,
try it, it's free.
it's a one time
deal. today only.
guaranteed
to not fail
or your money
back. sign here,
no salesman
will call.

looking for something

she used to rummage
through
your things when
you weren't home.
emptying pockets
of pants
on the door,
lifting
desks, opening
drawers, flipping
through books
waiting for something
to fall out.
some sort of note
or message that would
tell her the truth
about where we
stood, she never knew
that her looking
was what said
it all.

her christmas list

you make a list
of the things she
needs, or at least of
the things you think
she needs for xmas.
first a tv
and a cable package
so that you can
catch all the games,
then a lamp for her
nightstand
so that you, not
her can read,
because she's asleep
by nine. a few
large bath towels
would be nice too
instead of those
dainty little
ones that can barely
wrap around you.
and some man soap,
some bars that smell
like musk or tree
trunks, the scent
of leather.
you can't walk around
smelling like
lavendar all day.
a few tools, a screw
driver and a
hammer would be nice
for her too.
maybe a cook book
on rib roasts.
oh, and lingerie
and heels.
black and sheer,
shiny. she really needs
that too.

the gift card

you are a bad
gift wrapper.
you know that.
you're willing to
admit this
one fault
you have, or at
least that you
are willing
to admit to.
it's ugly
what you do with
paper and scissors,
scotch tape. crude
and crazy are
the folds
onto one another.
people laugh
when you hand
them a package,
and cringe.
it's gift cards
for all
next year with
one of those
sticky ribbons
attached.

her tears

her tears
are broken glass
upon the floor
shards
that you step on
and bleed.
the trail
of you is on
the white
carpet.
footprints
of guilt
and remorse.
her tears,
your blood, it's
not a good way
to start
the holidays.

after the first

after this last
cookie
you will go on
a diet.
after this egg
nog and one
more slice of
pie, after this
chocolate
in a foil,
right after this
pile of mashed
potatoes
covered in gravy,
after this
mound of stuffing,
right after
dinner and
dessert.
immediately following
this midnight
ham sandwich.
right after the first
of the year,
for sure, the
diet will begin,
again.

frosty the snowman

the man across the way
has inflated
a giant cartoon
snow man which is
tethered to his roof.
he does this every year.
it floats above his
house lit up in
neon bright white
with a red scarf
and tall black hat.
his face is a curved
line with a drawn
pipe sticking out
of his grin.
it can be seen
from outerspace
and it will
be there until
after the first of
the year. yesterday
you saw his third wife
getting into a cab
with lots of luggage.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a distant third

you ache
from work, your
back is sore,
your legs
feel the weight
of the day.
your eyes burn.
your feet steam
as your shoes
come off.
you stare
at your hands
still curled
with the tools
you held all
day. food and
sleep is what
you want and need,
that's all for now.
love is very
distant third.

no really, it's all delicious

when she would
bang the pots and
pans in the kitchen
and the dishes
went away
with loud clangs
against one
another, you knew
that something
was amiss.
and when the aspirin
bottle came out
and she put on
her prairie night
gown before going
to bed, well
you knew even
further that you
never should said
that the potatoes
were lumpy and that
the meat was
overcooked.

ducks at the lake

you decide to sleep
in on the day
the world is supposed
to end according
to the mayan calendar.
you shave and shower,
you fix some coffee
and go sit out in
the backyard, you
stretch your legs
read the paper.
the headlines are
in bold black ink
saying, the world
will end today, maybe.
it's a pleasant day.
blue skies with some
nice soft clouds
lingering about.
you think about some
things you could do
if the world
doesn't end. there's
a movie you'd like
to see. it's early
and they're still
serving breakfast
at the diner. maybe
you'll take a walk,
feed the ducks some
bread down at the lake.

eight ball

you shake
your mystical
eight ball
and ask it
a question,
the answer is
maybe, too
early to tell.
you shake it
again, and ask
the same question,
this time it
reads, yes,
most definitely.
you give it
one more shake,
and it says
quit shaking me
and go figure it
out yourself.
i'm just a silly
eight ball.

the others

on less
than one
hand
you count
the true loves
of your life,
on your
other hand
and toes,
and those
of riders
upon the bus
you count
the others.

your mistress

work awaits you
at the end of this
hot bath,
at the end of this
cup of coffee,
work sits patiently
for you to arrive
at the end of
your morning drive.
she is your mistress,
your friend
with benefits. you
fear her running
away and leaving
you empty with nothing
for your hands
to do.

harp music

someone is playing
a harp
in the building.
you can hear
it come up through
the vents.
rising like wisps
of musical smoke
into your ears.
the angelic
strings make you
lie down and listen,
your heart beats
slower, a smile
erases the frown
upon your face,
you rise somehow
to another level
of consciousness.
you don't want it
to end, you want
it to play all
night long, but
then the police
arrive to make
it stop. not every
ear is happy.

book marks

slips
of paper
between pages
of books
stopped
in mid sentence
holding the
point of
boredom
and disinterest
in tact,
but i hope
it's not
why you left
that blank
note upon
my pillow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

the old house

before you leave
the old house,
you take a seat
on the empty steps
and listen
to the pipes
creak, to windows
seep with
winter air
you hear the trickle
of water
from the faucets.
the shutters
bang against
the siding,
there are ghosts
in the attic
mice in the cellar
you'll miss all
of this and them,
but it's time
to go.

the prodigal dog

gone for
several days
the dog limps
home,
more slender
and dirty
than ever,
but happy
to be back.
you don't ask
him
where he's
been or what
he's been up
to. you are just
glad to see
him home
and wagging
his tail,
sleeping
in the sun
spot at
the window.
you place a bone
in his
dish and make
sure this
time you
lock the gate.

fading fast

a big part of me is
sad, she tells you while
lying down on the couch
with a cat
on her belly.
i feel a general
malaise about
my life, about
my future. i even
question my own
sanity at times. it
feels like i'm
becoming invisible.
she strokes the grey
cat and sips
from a long straw
poking out of a
fresca can on the floor.
i'm going to the store,
you tell her.
we're out of chips,
do you need anything?
pick me up a life,
would you, and some
sleeping pills.
how about some ice
cream you tell her,
rocky road. perfect she
says. get some
whipped cream too.
it's that bad. hurry,
i'm fading fast.

no orange

your friend ernie
who is a welder
at the ship yard
likes to dress up in
women's clothes.
this doesn't bother
you too much,
to each his own,
but what does
bother you
is his choice
of colors and hues.
there should be a
rule, no orange,
no lime green
no cranberry
shoes at least
on men pretending
to be women, and
perhaps for women
too.

delusions

the taste
of your own
blood
caused by
nipping the
tip of your tongue
with your
teeth
when stepping
off an
unseen curb
is salty
and warm, not
what you'd
expect from
someone so sweet
and wonderful
as you are.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

the golden years

so where would you like
to retire
she asks you over
drinks at the lizard
lounge near the airport.
what's your plan
for your golden years.
i have no plans,
you tell her. maybe
i'll get a job
here as a bartender.
don't you want to golf
and fish, spend your
time walking the beach.
nah, not for me.
i hate golf, it's a
stupid game and fishing
is for losers. safeway
has fish, in case
you haven't heard.
and i can't lie on
a beach anymore for
more than three minutes
without being bored.
so what's your plan
then she says, sipping
her pink cosmo and
inching away from you,
i'd like to keep things
exactly they way
they are, but maybe
move somewhere with
room service and a
maid. i'd be happy
then.

sweet dreams

she sleeps
through the storm,
the wind
and hail,
the rain that
beats a drum,
she's in a
sweet dream
as the dog
barks and
sirens wail
somewhere down
the road,
but snore for
a second and
she's on you
with a hair
against your
shoulder.

cat and mouse

hardly a peep
comes out of the mouse
hole, but you
know he's in
there watching
you place
cheese onto
crackers, drinking
your wine.
making small talk
to your date,
listening to
music. he has all
the time in
the world, waiting
for you to make
your move
and for her to
say yes.
he doesn't see
the cat
on the sill, with
more time
and patience
than all of you.

raking leaves

again
you rake
the leaves
and more fall.
again
and again.
your arms
sweep them
into piles
to burn or
haul away.
you savor
the agains
in your
life, even
this. this
simple
act of nature.

the day off

your regular
doctor has taken
the day off,
so has your barista,
your coffee is
a shot short
and your doorman,
is gone,
someone named
franz is holding
the door open,
but not wide
enough. each has
decided to take
a mental health
day. your mechanic
too, he can't change
your oil
and plugs this
morning,he's gone.
you call your
mother, but she's
not in either,
a temp is
standing in,
stirring red
sauce at the stove.
call back tomorrow,
she says
and hangs up
abruptly.
you throw your
hands into the air
and sigh, you take
a walk through
the park, where
you see all of them
feeding bread
to the pigeons.

in a cold sweat

you wake up
in a cold sweat, you
are shaking
with fear, your
legs tremble
and you have a twitch
in your eye.
what is it, she
says, what's wrong.
i had a bad
dream, you tell
her, a nightmare.
what was it,
she says, wiping
your brow with
her hand. you're
pale, and cold.
oh my, look at you.
i was standing
at an altar, you
tell her in a hoarse
whipser, trying
to calm down,
and i was getting
married again.
to who, who was it?
i don't know, you
tell her.
does it matter?

the art world

do you like my
art, he says,
pointing
towards a tin
fish can
with a ripped
label, it's
ummm, interesting,
you tell him.
moving on to
the next piece
which is a dried
smelt
on a stick.
it's yellow
and you can see
beneath
the skin stick
like bones.
that took a year
he says,
i started first
with catfish,
then trout, then
finally found
my muse
with smelt.

anything green

the weather
has been unkind
with it's grey
hand slinging
ice and snow.
giving you
a whip of wind
across your bow,
the trees laid
bare and brown.
you shiver
and cringe
as the temperature
drops into
the teens. you
have no room
in your life for
this sort of
behavior. not
anymore, your
bones want warmth
and spring,
a smile of sun,
anything green.

peanut brittle

you buy a box
of peanut
brittle for a gift.
a small
gift, a stocking
stuffer if you will.
and it sits on
the table unwrapped
for a few days.
it isn't long
before it's opened
and you take
a small bite
off the end, who
will know?
but by nights
end, you have
peanuts and brittle
crumbs
all over your shirt,
you'll have to buy
another one.

the race

you see the runners
coming around
the lake, with their
numbered bibs
flapping
in the breeze,
sweating and red
faced, checking
their watches
for time,
and you notice
one woman eating
a brownie as she
runs at a leisurely
pace. you like
her style and want
her to win, but
she won't, she
doesn't care,
she's just doing
this for the cookout
at the finish line,
and for the brownies
she has tucked
in her hoodie. you
have to admire
that. knowing
what you want out
of life.

greg's list

you go on to greg's list
to sell a few things,
a table with a broken leg,
a fat heavy tv that works
perfectly fine expect
that it's as thick and
as heavy as a refrigerator,
and a lamp with frayed
wires. after making your
posts you wander a little
into the personals
where more frayed wires
are found, with pictures
too. women looking for
women, men looking for
men, man and women looking
for women, etc. it's
a buffet of sexual
choices and liaisons.
you can see by
the provocative listings
that it's all
about the photos
which makes you go
and set your lamp up
by the window, with
its crooked shade,
tilted towards the light
and you take its picture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

driving nails

you find pleasure
in driving a nail
into a thick
hard piece of wood
and seeing it go
flush against
the board.
you like the sound
of it. bang,
bang, bang.
you aren't a
carpenter, but
you know how to
hold a hammer,
how to hold
a nail steady
between a thumb
and finger
and then tap
hard again and
again against
the nail head
until it's set
and shines
with the small
dents of your
striking it. writing
can be like
that and while
others are building
books you keep
hammering away
at this.

just a few tweaks

sometimes you
pretend
that you know
nothing, and ask
questions you
already know
the answer to.
sometimes you
really do know
nothing, but keep
quiet, not wanting
others to
know how dumb
you are. you
confuse yourself
at times
and wonder if
it's a lack
of sleep, or
a bad diet, or
the absence of
true love
in your life
that causes you
this anxiety.
maybe you just need
to tweak a few
things, like
sleeping on
the other side
of the bed,
or adding
more fiber
to your day.
it's hard to say.

o little town of bethlehem

around the manager
scene, with
the baby jesus
lying in a bed
of straw
made of string,
and mary
and joseph, the assorted
farm animals
and the three
wise men bearing gifts
your mother would
set up an electric
train set with a small
town surrounding
them. apartment
buildings with
lights within,
a police station
and a water tower
overlooking
the bridges and
mirrored rivers.
she'd put
small smoke pellets
into the stack
as the train
moved around
and around the metal
tracks. then she'd
put on some frank
sinatra and fix
herself a highball
as we stared
at the little town
of bethlehem in
manahattan.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the domino effect

it's the domino
effect,
a new pair
of shoes leads
to a new
pair of pants,
a new coat,
and hat,
a shirt and tie.
before you know
it
you're wearing
a new watch
and ring,
your parting
your hair
on the other
side,
you've moved
to another part
of town,
you've
left your wife.

the christmas party

why are you always
looking at my bosoms
your office mate judy says
to you at the company
christmas party.
you shake your head
and point at yourself,
spilling eggnog
from your plastic
tumbler onto your red
sweater, what? me?
huh, what are you
talking about?
whenever we have a
conversation, your eyes
are staring directly
at my chest. you do
it all the time. all
the men in the office
do it too.
she adjusts
her dress so as to
hide her cleavage.
she's enormous
and it looks like
two large white
balloons trying to bust
out of her skin tight
black dress. it looks like
at any moment she could
go airborne.
i wasn't looking at
them, honest, you tell
her. i don't even like
breasts. i hate them.
i have this crik
in my neck and sometimes
i feel more comfortable
when i lean my head
down, like this. you
look downward to the floor
to demonstrate. like that,
you say. pffft, she says,
men! you men have a one
track mind. not true,
you plead, not true,
she shakes her head,
turning to go across
the room. you take a sip
of your drink
and watch her as she
slowly sashays away
in her red high heels.

civil war buttons

your friend jimmy
spends many
of his weekends
looking for civil
war buttons out
in the rolling
fields of virginia.
who was sewing these
buttons on, you ask
inquisitively,
and how many buttons
were on each soldier's
jacket? seems like there
are a lot of them
still out there.
didnt' they have
strong thread back then?
hey, he says, sternly,
don't be mocking
the civil war. you'll
see, my friend,
the south will
rise again.
whatever, you say,
and touch the button
on your l.l. bean shirt.
those buttons
are sacred, they come
off the uniforms of
brave men who died
in the service of
their country.
you nod, not mentioning
the slavery thing.
i have to run, he says.
i've got a reenactment
this saturday.
i'm going to get shot
at gettysburg. take
a look and tell me
if this looks realistic,
a canonball is going
to hit me in the head.
watch how i fall backwards
and tell me if it's okay.

cranberry cakes

the end
of the world
is coming soon,
your barista
tells you as he
fixes you
an extra hot
grande vanilla latte
with whipped
cream. you sort of
believe everything
he says now
because of his
forecast of rain
the other day.
it poured.
don't say
i didn't warn you,
he says, adjusting
his lip rings
and santa hat.
are you having
any specials that
morning, you ask
him, since
it's the end of
the world and all?
i'm not sure, he
says, but it makes
sense. my manager
comes in at
five, i'll run it
by her and let
you know the next
time you come in.
by the way, those
cranberry cakes are
two for one today.

the mistloe

her cold
is now my cold
we shouldn't have
kissed beneath
the mistletoe,
or in the hallway,
or on the stairs,
or in the subway
car, or
on the rooftop
and before we
went to sleep
and when we
awoke. her cold
is now my
cold, or is
it the other
way around, but
i blame it
on the mistletoe
for getting
the whole thing
started.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

jingle bell blues

she's blue,
she's so blue
and down.
she's under water,
about
to drown.
her eyes are
half
open, her
mouth is empty
of words.
even her heart
slows
to the point
of nearly
stopping, it's
christmas time
again
in the city.

start again

can you finish
this for me, you
ask her, typing away
at the keyboard,
can you find an
appropriate ending
to this poem,
this story, this
stretched out piece
of writing that is
going nowhere.
let me see what you
have so far, she
says, read it to me.
so you do, which makes
her cringe and laugh,
it's junk, she says,
delete it all.
erase it and start
again. you're good
at that, aren't you.
you do it every
few years, or less.

nine days left

lost in
the garage
parking lot.
it looks familiar
this level,
those spots,
but there is
no sign of
your car, was
it blue or
green the painted
number
on the wall.
were you
up or down,
near the ramp
that leads in,
or out,
was the sun
on this side,
or that, it's
been so long
now, carrying
these bags,
clicking and
clicking at
your key with
only nine days
left to shop.

life on other planets

life on
other planets
is doubtful
because of
the absence
of water and air,
but more of
a worry is
that intelligent
life here
seems to
be waning with
the turn of
each new
year. something
in the water
perhaps,
or
that packaged
food, or
the ozone layer
seeping
out into space.
the effect of
gamma rays.
who knows,
who cares.

dog hotel

at the beach
there is a dog
hotel. it faces
the water
and up on
each short stone
balcony is a dog
of a different
size and color
barking.
they have a hard
time taking
a few days off
from being dogs
and just enjoying
the scenery,
the wash of
ocean upon
the sand,
the blue jewel
of sky before
them. they are not
unlike the men
and women
in their chairs,
with phones,
and laptops
in hand, unable
to let go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

at twenty five

in the darkened
bar, with music
filling
the smoked air,
you'd fall in love
with someone
who was equally
young and unaware,
there was so much
wisdom yet to learn
about the world
what it gives
and takes away,
but that wasn't a
thought that came
into your mind,
instead it was who's
place would you
both return to, would
it be hers, or
perhaps, if
the distance was
closer, mine.

it's just so

coins
fall from
your pockets as
you reach in
for bills or keys.
they roll
with a clink
and spin
off through cracks
or behind
impossible
things to move
or bend, to see.
like friends,
they come
and go, slipping
out beyond
your reach,
no purpose
to their dropping,
it's just so.

the portrait

patient
strokes of luck
from the painter's
hand
has made the portrait
just right,
catching
the royal wry smile,
the winkless
eye, about to,
the tense leg
pressing
towards the floor
and anxious
to leave, to be
anywhere but here,
posing,
pretending to be
so much more.

ordinary things

when an ordinary
thing,
such as a vase
on a table,
or knob upon a door,
or a person
staring into
the rain as he
sits and smokes
waiting for
it to cease to
pour
catches your eye,
it or they are
no longer ordinary,
but strange
glimpses into
the beauty of a
world that so often
passes us by.

fresh secrets

she tells
you a secret
whispering into
your ear.
you cup
your hand
across
the warm
words
holding them
there for
as long as
you can,
but over time
your arm
grows weary
and like
petals from
a cut flower
they fall
out onto
the floor for
everyone
to see.

lessons learned

others aren't
but you are always
surprised
when you make a mistake
or do something stupid.
it keeps happening.
you'd like to think
that you've wizened
with age, with each
wrinkle a lesson has
been learned. how many
more lessons could
there possibly be.
how many more wrinkles
can form on your
brow? an infinite
number appears
to be the answer.

visualization

the bartender sees you
walk in and sets up
your usual drink
of a dry martini
with an olive.
you throw it down
and tap for another.
tough day, he says.
tough life, you reply
back. but things will
change. you sip on
the second drink feeling
the quick spin of
the first. i'm reading
this book about
how to get everything
in life you ever
wanted. it teaches
you how to visualize what
you want. and poof,
you've got it. just think
it and voila, there
it is. i've been visualizing
a mercedes and a million
dollars lately.
sounds like a great book,
the bartender says,
mopping the bar with rag,
can i borrow
it after you're
done with it. i need
a new lawn mower. sure, you
tell him. the pages
might be a little crimped,
i like to read in the tub.
you finish off the rest
of your martini. another,
he says? sure, you tell him.
hey who's that blonde
in the corner over
there putting on lipstick,
never seen her
in here before.
yeah, she's new. she's
from texas, look at the hair.
i could introduce you.
nah. i'm going to close
my eyes and visualize
me and her together, you'll
see how this all works.
okay, he says, i'll
leave you alone for
a few minutes while
you do that.

without

without a mop
the floor stays dirty.
without a brush
the walls
go unpainted,
without a spoon
the soup
is unstirred
and sticks to
the bottom, without
your lips,
i go unkissed
for another day.

sweet oranges

we have sweet
oranges
here in florida
she says, warm beaches
and blue skies.
there is no
snow or ice, come
see me in florida
for the winter.
it would do
you good to get
away and relax
for awhile.
pack lightly
and leave your
cares behind.
it's a short flight,
you'll be here
in no time. tell
your wife
and children it's
work and you'll
be home before they
know it.
we have sweet
oranges here
in florida, she
says, come see me.
it will be fine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

the plow horse

you were
there building
the pyramids.
you were there
in the cotton
fields, there
in the barrel
of a ship
with an oar in
your hand.
you have been
a plow horse,
a slave,
owned by others.
made to work
for nearly
nothing but
the continuance
of life. you
were there,
when food was
out of reach,
and at times
you still feel
the whip, hear
the click
of gun pointed.
you still see
the sun
through a broken
pane of glass.
it's hard to get
away from there,
but you're trying,
you're really
trying.

melted cheese

like melted
cheese you fall
into bed
and sleep
draped
across the blankets
and sheets.
your head
sinks into
the pillow,
you are giddy
with exhaustion
and want nowhere
else to be
but here,
like melted
cheese, asleep.

botox for pups

when you get home from work
your dog, moe, is on the couch
watching tv with the remote
curled between his paws.
he tries to flip it
off before you see him
but it's too late.
what in the world are
you doing? you say to him.
he wags his tail
and points to the tv,
and then to the laptop
sitting next to him.
it's a dr. phil show on
botox. not just for people
is the title of the show.
animals too can get it.
they have an iguana
and a wild turkey on there
with before and after
photos. they definitely
look a lot younger.
moe shows me online that
pet smart is having a free
one time botox injection
for pets. but, but you
stammer. he sits up on
his hind legs and puts
his little paws out. i'm
at that age, he says,
where other dogs are
looking right through me,
like i'm invisible.
you check the wrinkles
around his eyes and
mouth. okay, okay, i
guess you could use some
adjustment here and there.
i'll take you, but no
more tv and internet
when i'm not home.
the last time you were
goofing around on
here, i got a virus
from you looking
at parisan alley cats.
i'm going to check your
history right now,
give me that laptop.

back to the basics

getting back
to the basics
you quit your
job and grow
a beard.
you sell your
car and buy a horse.
you get a butter churn
at a yard sale
in pennsylvania.
you make a shirt
out of a burlap
bag and build a
shanty on the edge
of town. you cash
in your retirement
fund and get some
hay for the horse.
you buy some chickens
too and a goat.
you like cheese.
you like milk too
so you get a cow
and some buckets
to squeeze the milk
into. by day two
you are exhausted by
getting back to
the basics and
realize that you've
made a big
mistake. day three
you shave your
beard and go beg
for your job back.

that new car smell

despite
being used
with years
of miles
she had that
new car
smell, right
off the factory
lot.
shiny and fresh.
all the gadgets
pulsing
to go.
the windows
clean, a sparkle
to the headlights.
all the dirt
had been washed
away. all the
dents and dings
fixed and
buffed down.
she was perfect,
until you
got her on
the highway,
got behind the
wheel and then
she stalled
and the smoke
belched out.

your meal

teacups
full of tears
plates
full
of anxiety
and fear,
dishes
stacked
with left over
dreams.
sadness for
dessert.
a bitter
after dinner
drink
to wash it
all down.
you choose
the meal
that you eat.

Monday, December 10, 2012

the stockbroker

you blow on
your fingers as
you crouch
in the dark
tomb
of a bank vault.
a flashlight
is on the dial.
slowly you turn
the numbers
listening
to the click
click click,
then back again,
then forward
until it opens.
you pack your
satchel with
stacks of fresh
crisp bills.
all neatly
counted for you.
other people's
money.
it's a good life,
until you're
caught.

let it rain

she prays
and prays for
rain.
her field
is dry.
her lips are
parched.
the dress she
wears
holds the dust
of years.
she prays for
the clouds
to break
for the water
of love
to fall,
to make her
life green
again.

smoke signals

you read in an old
dust laden history
book about an indian
warrior who
breaks up with his
girlfriend
by sending her
smoke signals. this
does not bode
well for the indian
princess,
indignant, she
smoke signals back,
you couldn't get
on a horse and come
talk to me
and tell me why
you don't want to
see me anymore. oy
vey. some brave
warrior you are.
you are like so dead
to me now. she wants
to say more, but she
runs out of wood
for the fire, making
the warrior sigh
with relief.

your father

gradually
over time
the brick wall
leans
and falls,
the weight of
the earth
is too much
for the curve
of bricks
along the road.
it gives
way, and you
can almost
hear the sigh
of the ground
as it breaks
free and slides.
it only took
him eighty three
years to get
there.

have you been flossing

your dentist
is stalking you.
it's all about
the flossing.
you've been lazy
with the flossing.
she brow beats
you every time
you go in for
a cleaning.
you see her
peeking into
your bathroom
window. catching
her face in
the mirror.
quickly you grab
the thin string
and like a violin
play between
your molars, your
bicuspids,
your eye teeth
and crowns.
you see her
shaking her head
and motioning
how to do it
better. she
hangs from a tree
branch
in the yard,
her mouth open with
a perfect set of
piano teeth
shining annoyingly
in the moonlight.

write me a letter

write me a letter
like in
the old days.
with pen and paper.
sit down
with a lamp
at the desk,
crack open the window
and think
about what you
want to say.
crumble it up
and start again
if need be.
start with dear
followed by
my name. say
everything you
need to say, and
leave out words
like however, or
but, or we're not
on the same
page. don't say
i wish you luck,
or i'll never forget
you. i don't
want that kind
of letter. don't
send it if it is.

potato girl

you fall in love
with a potato
eating irish girl
with blue green
eyes and hair
as black as a night
without stars
or moon.
but you can't tell
her that, because
that would
change everything.
it's better to
keep quiet about
such things
having traveled
that road many
times before.

the mind reader

i can read your mind
she tells
you, staring
crazily into your
eyes. okay, you
say, what am i
thinking now.
right this second.
you are hungry,
she says,
hungry for love,
for affection,
for respect.
and what else,
you ask her, what
else? hold on,
she says, putting
her hands onto
your head
moving her nose
into your face,
her forehead
touching yours.
you are thinking
about....about.
chicken, fried
chicken, she says,
with mashed potatoes
and gravy.
got it, you say.
you're good, really
good.

trash day

before you can
run
the trash bags
out into
the rain in
your underwear
and tennis
shoes the truck
speeds backwards
into your court
and the olympic
sprinters in
orange jumpsuits
leap from the back
of the groaning
truck and pull
and throw the
gathering of
bags near the hydrant.
you are left
standing there
with there with
your own weeks
worth of garbage,
on your porch,
your eyes catching
glimpse of
the laughing men.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

her hands

as a child
you would stare
at your
grandmother's
hands, bewildered
at what
age does. the wrinkles
and brown spots
along the skin,
crimped
like dried
paper, once wet
and left in
the sun.
the nails
were hard and red
buffed like
candied almonds,
the rings, a gold
band, a diamond
set, clustered
like melted
snow, aglow in the
overhead light.
she played the piano
with those hands,
moving easily across
the keys. you
never learned to
play, but
they are your
hands now.

the babies

in the dream
there is a baby
drowning.
no one moves,
but you.
you dive in
to save
the baby.
but when you
feel the cold
rush of
water around
you, you see
that there are
more and more
babies, that need
your help.
but your arms
are quickly
filled,
who gets saved,
who drowns
what water is
this
so full of
babies.

penguins

penguins
on the move
you see them
at dawn
at dusk,
in and out
of the subway.
down into
the tunnels,
briefcases
like fish
in their hands.
plodding
towards
the icy ocean
of time.
work giving
purpose.
family and love,
not
far behind.
penguins on
the move.

daylight fading

your daylight
is fading
as you move
through
the winter
of your years.
the snow
is deep with
memory.
the trees,
are bare of
leaves, those
you knew
for so many
summers.
across the white
lake
and into
the woods
where warm
arms await you
is where
you need to
go, where
you've always
been heading.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the long haul

she wants to talk
things out.
she says sit down,
i have a few
things to say
before you leave
today. what?
what is it, you
say, rubbing
your forehead.
i need to know
where this relationship
is heading.
are we both in
this for the long haul.
the long haul?
you repeat back.
this makes you
think of a tractor
trailer, hauling
lumber in
the great northwest.
rolling down
the highway with
trees tied down
behind you.
she snaps her fingers
at you, hey, hey.
are you listening
to me, you seem
to be drifting off.
no, i'm here, you
tell her.
so, what do you have
to say then, she
says. her hands are
folded under
her chin and she looks
like she's been
crying, or cutting onions
in the kitchen.
you sniff the air.
what's cooking you
say?

the expiration date

the expirtation
date is on
the bottle
and the can,
the box of
noodles
the carton
of milk,
nearly every
thing, but
us and spam.

the fresh grave

fresh flowers
on a fresh
grave. the dirt
still
overturned
without green.
the mourners
gone, out of
the morning rain.
back to what they
do. drinking
tea, having lunch,
doing laundry,
and bills, all
of the things
that are never,
unlike this,
quite done.

friendly lighting

you wake up
and revaluate your
body while
standing over
the bathroom
sink, looking
into the mirror.
when did that
wrinkle show up?
you grab your
stomach, maybe
some crunches today.
tighten that
belly up. you open
your mouth, checking
out your teeth.
how long has that
spinach been
stuck in there?
you look
at the mole
on the side
of your head, looks
the same as it
did a month ago.
but you could
be dead in a week
according to
web md if it's
the wrong kind of
mole. maybe later
you'll make a call
see if you can have
it scraped off
for the holidays.
the light is way
too bright in here.
you make a mental
note to put lesser
bulbs in over
the sink. friendly
lighting is the way
to go in this room.

a puddle of goo

you don't believe
in evolution,
the timeline
of monkeys into
men. dinosaurs
into sparrows,
and the magic
of god saying poof
there it all
is, is amazing
too. but lightning
striking a puddle
of goo and making
the elephant
and me, and you
seems more absurd
than the later,
at least from my
barely educated
view. i am quite
open for other
options.

one more

sit here.
next to me.
what's your
hurry,
set your bag
down. throw
that ticket
out the window.
no need to
go just yet.
stay another
night.
one more
morning, one
more everything
before
your flight.

the rub

she rubs you
the wrong
way.
she's an
itch you can't
reach,
a wound
that won't heal.
she's the pebble
in your shoe,
the inflammed
corner
of a broken
nail. she's
the nerve
below the tooth,
a twitch
in your eye.
she rubs
you the wrong
way. she'd like
nothing more
than to pinch
a nerve and see
you cry.

lunar voyage redux

they are planning
another trip
to the moon.
they need more
rocks. the moon
has rocks. no
air, no water,
no gravity to speak
of, but plenty
of rocks and dust,
silt and dirt
not unlike my backyard,
in fact i've got
dust on my bookshelves
they can have
if they want it,
free, no need to
spend another tax
dollar. take that
money and do something
useful with it. jobs,
education, food,
shelter, disease.
anything, but another
trip to the moon
for more rocks.

Friday, December 7, 2012

go to sleep now

you want someone
to tuck you in
when you go to bed
at night. to fluff
the pillow and
bring the sheet
and blanket up
to your chin. someone
to read you a story
and bring you a warm
mug of cocoa
with a marshmallow
on top.
you want someone
to sit there
while you ask them
questions like
where is god right
now. what's he doing.
why is there
death and disease.
wars and pestilence.
okay, okay, maybe you
don't want to know
any of that.
but just someone
to tuck you in,
kiss you on the forehead
before they leave.
someone to turn off
the lights
and say goodnight.
sleep tight.

your stupid relatives

you hate most
of your relatives
except your aunt
betty who is
in a coma, no
fault of her own,
but the rest of
them you could do
without.
they are all
big mouths
and louts for
the most part.
they cheat on
their taxes,
their wives, step
out on their
husbands,
throw trash out
the windows
on the highway.
they eat too much,
drink until
drunk, they tell
bad jokes,
and are prone
to making
inappropriate
noises at
the dinner table.
they chain smoke.
they are
disgusting
and rude, crude
and unsavory.
they haven't
read a single
a book between
them, but it's
christmas
and you are forced
to shake their
hands and hug
them as if
everything
is okay. somebody
please open
a window.

say what

you have a way
of saying the wrong
thing at the wrong
time, especially
after two martinis.
it's a knack
you have. a honed
and skilled talent
of being awkward
in situatiions
that demand sauveness
and politenees, but no.
did you gain weight
you say, or i think
i see a strand of
grey, bend towards
me into the light.
oh my, have you ever
thought of botox?
you should really stay
out of the sun.
how old are you
anyway?

another night

i'd like
another slice
of cake,
another
drink, another
kiss
from you
before
the morning
light comes in,
who wouldn't?
i'd like to
stay longer
and sleep
beside
you, listen
to you breathe,
feel your
skin against
mine. i'd
like another
night like
this. who
wouldn't?







the garden

you stake a fence
around your garden.
tomatoes, some peppers,
a few carrots
and radishes.
nothing to write
home about.
it's a small garden
in a small
yard, and you really
don't know what
you're doing.
but you want to see
what gives. what's
possible with a few
seeds and water,
some tending of
weeds, and an effort
to keep the rabbits
at bay. it's a
start. everything
is a start before
it ends.

sorry for whatever i did

when you were younger
you could manage
a fight with a bundle
of store cut flowers,
or a cheap bling ring
from the mall.
perhaps a box of lame
milk chocolates and
a poem with each line
a ryhme at the end.
the word love and sorry
would be sprinkled
about like seeds
hoping for rain
and forgiveness. but
now, at this stage
of the game,
you shrug and let
the storm roll by.
you take a nap and
hope that they just
get over it, whatever you
may have said or done.

the short line

there are two
lines out
the two
doors.
above one
it says
unhappy
and discontent
with life,
nothing ever
goes right.
the other one
says. i'm good.
you get in
the i'm
good line, but
it hasn't
always been
that way.

the white horse

you pick
the pretty white
horse,
on the merry go
round, with
a red saddle,
and painted
bright blue
eyes.
it's clean
and shiny.
you climb aboard
but it only
goes up
and down,
only circles
around and
around
going nowhere.
this disappointment,
you learn,
is only
the beginning.

keep going

i've done enough
you say.
worked long
and hard
throughout the years.
you turn your hands
over to show
the calluses
that you've earned.
you show them
your feet,
you tell them
to look
at how bent you are
from work.
enough you say.
i am old now.
i've done my time.
but they shake
their heads
and say, i'm
sorry, but there
is more to do.
keep going, keep
going. this is a
different day
and age.

dear jimmy

you begin an advice
column for the local paper.
dear jimmy, the first
reader writes. i think
my wife is cheating on
me. she doesn't like to
camp, hunt, fish or drink
beer with me and my
buddies. suddenly she's
gotten into great shape
at the gym and is buying
all new clothes
and lingerie which she
never wears for me.
i am enclosing a photo
of her with this letter
to show you how beautiful
she is. i just wished
she wanted to bowl,
or go down to the shooting
range with me sometimes.
it would bring us closer
together. signed,
mr. worried in georgetown.
you put the letter down
and stare at the photo.
hmmm, you say, then
begin to type.
dear mr. worried, please
have your soon to be
ex wife call me when
the ink dries on your
divorce papers, i think
i need to talk with
her in person.

see you soon

she begins
each day
with a prayer
before
she goes to work
at the office.
please help
me not to kill
anyone today,
she says.
then tells
her cat goodbye
see you in eleven
hours, use
the cat box
please, i left
you a treat
on the counter.

it begins to rain

you can't sleep, so
you drive all night
around the city,
out into the hellish
suburbs and back,
with most of the world
asleep.
truck drivers and bored
cabbies
cruise up next to you,
and nod.
the traffic lights
keep changing for
no one.
a few junkies
are on the corner.
a hooker or two
getting one last trick
in before the sun
comes up. the homeless
are on the steel
steam grates, head
on their concrete
pillows dreaming
of childhood. you keep
driving, into
the moonlight, away
from the moonlight.
the shadows are dark
hands, the pink street
lights are pale
and without hope.
the trucks drop off
their bundles of paper
onto the corners.
the cops are asleep
in their squad cars,
black brimmed hats
tilted down over their
bloodshot eyes.
it's the amnesty
of early morning. a
truce between good
and evil although each
is not far from
being the same. you
drive all night,
turn on your wipers,
turn down the radio.
it begins to rain.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the peach

you find
a peach in
your hand.
firm
and fuzzy,
yellowed
just right
in the sunlight
with a broken
stem
at the top
of it's curve.
it's soft
in your hand,
yet solid.
your mind
has already
told your lips
and mouth,
your tongue
what to expect.
which leaves
you with only
one thing left
to do.
and how
is this not
how i feel
about you.

in threes

sometimes
bad luck
comes in
threes.
the broken
lace, the flat
tire, the spilled
drink upon your
sleeve, but
good things
too can arrive
in threes,
like when
you kiss me,
then again and
once more
just before you
blow a kiss
and leave.

the reunion

they hold your class reunion
at the sunset lodge recreation
room. they use the ping
pong tables for the dishes
of food. chicken with the bones
removed. jello, three colors,
with fruit. mashed potatoes,
and kale. it's a healthy
meal. someone pins a photo
of you which looks like
your grandson onto the lapel
of your jacket.
the walkers clang against
one another as hugs are made
and greetings such as you
haven't changed a bit since
home room, are spoken.
there is a medical
staff standing by with
defribulators and gurneys.
your class song was in a goda
da vida, which is playing
loudly over the PA system.
several people yell out to turn
that music down for crying
out loud, i can't hear myself
think. the cheerleader, mandy,
you had a crush on has fallen
on the floor and somenone
is pounding on her chest
trying to get a piece of chicken
out that has lodged inside
her throat. the class
president gets up to make a
speech. he is wearing a powder
blue suit with white shoes.
he thanks everyone for coming
and tells the story about
how mindy liefer once drove
a driver's ed car into
the library. he tells that
story every ten years, so no
one laughs. mindy has stopped
coming to these things because
of that. she might be dead,
because no one can find her
on facebook. things wind down at
nine o'clock. they have to
get the room ready for bingo.
you grab a few brownies
off the table before they
fold it up. you wink at mary
sue ellen maggliano, the class
snitch and mother. she is wagging her
finger at you. you haven't
change a bit, have you little
mister she says. you either,
you say. you either.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the open door

a crowd gathers
over you
but you aren't there.
you've left
your body
and have healed.
there are lights
and police,
someone holds
your head in his
hands and asks
you if everything
is okay, he is
the man that has
run you over,
can you hear me
he says, but
you don't answer.
your lips
don't move.
the life of you
seeps out into
the cold night.
your blood rises
in steam as it pours
from your veins.
strangers cry at
the sight of you
lying there in the
street. once alive.
you suddenly
understand
everything and find
peace with
what you've done
with your life,
with your death.
it seems so simple
now, but you can't
tell them, they need
to find out on
their own. you want
to comfort them
with their grief,
but you are gone,
you have passed through
the open door.
there are no more
tomorrows, there is
now just today.

no health insurance

the doctor comes
into the waiting room
and curls his finger
at you, you're next he
says, come on in buddy.
he's eating a donut
and smoking a cigarette.
my trust in him
has slipped over
the year since losing
my health insurance.
take off your shirt
he says, i need to
listen to your heart.
better yet, just unbutton
the top three buttons,
there we go.
he puts the cold
stethescope against
your skin,
and says, okay. sounds
good to me.
open your mouth,
let's take a look
in there. whew. onions,
what'd you have a
tuna sandwich before
coming in? i don't see
nothing. looks good.
so what do you think
about the game on
sunday, he asks.
who's your money on.
you shrug your shoulders.
i don't know, you
say. i've got no dog
in that hunt.
huh, he says, writing
something down on
your chart. what the
hell does that mean?
you button up your
shirt and hop down off
the metal gurney.
that will be
three hundred dollars
he says, cash like
i said on the phone.
you pull out the money
and count the fifties
out for him, which
he puts into his
pocket. high five he
says, and you put
a hand up, which he
smacks, before leaving
to get another patient.

the gypsy next door

a gypsy woman moves
in next door
and plants a neon
sign in her yard.
it pulses bright
red and green.
she will read your
plam and tell you
your future,
if you have one
for a mere
twenty dollars.
for fifty you'll
get a full
reading plus
a back massage
by her assistant
candy.
she's a new age
gyspy wearing low
cut jeans and boots,
a button down white
shirt and a nice
casual red jacket.
i see her carrying
groceries in
when i get home
from work,
and she yells over,
hey, we're having
cornish hens tonight,
stop on by if you'd
like. we might play
a game of scrabble
too, unless you're
chicken. which makes
her laugh out loud,
showing her gold tooth.

change in the weather

changes come
fast, sometimes
without warning.
the weather for
instance, it's sunny
one moment and
raining the next.
affection can be that
way too. right
before sex, then
right after. funny
how that works
sometimes.

left over turkey

three weeks after
thanksgiving
you open the fridge,
peel off a crinkled
square of foil
and stare at the almost
bare carcass
of a twenty pound
turkey. it's been
in there so long,
you've named it like
a pet. willis, you
say, i think it's
time to go, but then
reach in to strip
off one last shred
of white meat
for a sleepy
sandwich, it's a sad
goodbye as you drop
him into a green
bag and haul him
to the curb.

ms. fort knox

she had a guard
dog behind
the electrified
barbed wire fence
of her little
black dress,
she had an alarm,
a siren, a deadlock
on the steel door
of her soul.
there was a trip
wire that ran
along the curves
of her top and bottom.
there was no getting
in, or anywhere
with this one, that's
why we called her
fort knox.

a summer place

don't let the screen
door slam.
but close it gently
you're letting
the flies in.
turn that fan around
it's hot in here
and it's only june.
when you kids
get out of school
we'll get a pool.
we'll blow it up and
fill it to the brim
with hose water.
it won't be much,
but it will make it
seem as if we
have place to go.
a summer place.
even if it's only
to the dirt worn yard,
with a clothes line
and a dog curled,
panting below.

your first lover

your first lover
was not a lover at all,
but a professor
of english and literature.
preaching in the eight
o'clock hour
of morning, the beauty
of words, of books.
what friends they
will be for life, he
said. keep them close.
put them onto shelves
and touch them, read
them again, and be filled
once more. let each
story seduce you into
reading another, and
another, and perhaps,
if touched by some
glorious miracle, you
too will find one in
you to write and place
upon your shelf, or
that of others.

lost in the sand

a man with a metal
detector, hunched
in the shadows
of a sun going
down bayside,
walks slowly along
the shore,
digging where he
hears the signal.
a small shovel is
in his hand.
you see a watch
go into his pail,
a set of keys.
a pin, a bracelet,
a ring. he has found
an easier way
than most
to get treasures.
but still there is
no smile
upon his face,
he longs strangely
for those to whom
these things
belonged and perhaps
to give them back.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the spill

the water glass
tips over
as the hurried
arm rushes
towards
the cold
silk sides,
and out it slips
from hand
spilling clean
and clear
onto the table,
a water fall
upon
the floor.
it's a quick still
moment before
apologies
ensue, and others
get up
to find a cloth
to soak up
what has spilled.
nothing of
the conversation
will not likely
be remembered
but the falling
glass will.

betty in her fat jeans

sometimes you seem distant
and aloof your friend betty
tells you. i know, you say.
but what's your point. well,
it's hard to figure you
out, i guess. to know what
you're thinking. hmmm. you
say, and stare out the window,
catching sight of a plane
in the sky. silver and
shiny in the sunlight.
there is a part of you
that wishes you were on
that plane and didn't know
anyone named betty.
we should go for an ice
cream, you tell her. how
about that, would you like
that. not really, she says.
i'm on a diet and these
jeans i'm wearing are my
fat jeans. so, no, but thanks
for the offer. okay, you
tell her, well, what should
we do. let's talk about us,
she says. let's define
our relationship and figure
out where we're headed.
you suddenly get quiet
more quiet than the plants
she gets up to water.

the braided key chain

i make my own clothes, she
says, showing me her plaid
skirt. this blouse too.
nice, you say. very nice.
and what about those
shoes. oh yes, she says.
i made those too. it took
a year. but finally i
finished them. leather is
very difficult to work with.
so i hear, you say. that's
pretty much why i don't
make my own shoes. my wrists
aren't that strong to
get the needles through
the leather.
what size shoe do you wear,
she says, i'll make you
a pair. really, you'd do
that for me? sure she says.
why not. okay, size ten.
i could use a new pair
of loafers, casual though,
with rubber souls. she nods
writing it all down.
i prefer a reddish brown,
if you can work that out.
i made a key chain once,
you tell her, did i ever
tell you that? nope she
says. well, i was in shop
class in the ninth grade
and we had to braid a bunch
of plastic colored wire
together. i think i still
have it somewhere. you still
have it? she says, raising
her eyebrows. yeah. i'm
very sentimental that way,
but if you make me a pair
of shoes, i'll give it to
you. swell, she says.
that's great, i could use
a new key chain.