Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the road not taken

if you take a left
and go down
two miles, you'll
see an old
gas station. there's
a man in there
who goes by the
name of george,
he's a marksman
and likes to
hunt and stuff
his kills.
he'll tell you
where you can find
shelly. it's his
daughter. okay,
okay, but what if
i go right,
well, that's were
kelly lives.
she's lives alone,
only married twice,
and bakes a mean
apple pie.

i'm not a horse

i like horses
she says, slapping
me across the arm
with her riding
crop. plow horses,
race horses,
horses out to
stud. good for
you, i tell her.
now stop hitting
me, i'm not
really a horse.


the dashboard light
flickering red
and yellow,
a silent warning,
to change a filter,
replace the oil,
it's something
to tell you that
things aren't
quite right, but
do you pull over
and stop and
solve the mystery,
no, why bother when
you can just look
in the other
direction, at
other lights.


your knees in
the cold mud,
hands in water
with your screened
pan. shaking
the silt out,
panning for
gold, while
the blue
stream takes
itself where
it has to go.
where it can only
go. it's rare
to find love
these days, but
you keep
bending towards
the water
with hope.

more of you

you no longer
measure days, or
mark a calendar
with an x
to show the point
at which you are.
you are no
longer in the middle.
you are well
past that imaginary
line and yet
there is more of
you despite
having less time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

big ears

you have nothing
good to say, do
you, she says
while cutting my
hair. hey, be
careful, you almost
cut my ear off
last time. well,
you have big ears,
she says, snipping
away at my long
luxurious quarter
inch of silver
hair. i have big
ears because i
spend a lot of
time listening to
you, i tell her.
you're a pretty
blabby woman, i
must say.
my ears have grown
large from overuse.
do you want me to
trim the hair
that is growing
out of your ears,
and nose,
she says, smirking
in the mirror.
yes, i say. but
be careful and
don't forget the

the beginning is near

the bright blue
words, spray
painted upon
the wall, across
from the theater
where you walk
everyday on your
way to work, says
the end is near.
and it makes you
wonder, the end
of what. the end
of me, of us,
of work, of leisure.
what end? and
if something
ends, isn't that
the beginning
of something new?
so the next day
you bring your
can of spray paint
and you write
below the end is
near that
the beginning
is soon to follow.
be patient.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


you hear
the silent
whisper, amen.
from the dead
that crowd
both yesterday
and tomorrow.
from the living
that crowd
today. amen.
you hear it
from the animals
on wing, on
foot, below
the sea. amen.
amen. you hear
it in the church
bells. on
the street
corner. amen,
it's sung quietly
in the alleyways.
it's in the first
snow, the ice,
the wind.
amen. it's in
the leaves
on branches as
april comes.
amen. it's
in the first
breath you take
and the last.

to the curb

i'm not judging you
she says, but
your lifestyle leaves
something to be
desired. when was
the last time you
dusted this
house. i could do
an archealogical
dig on the shelves
themselves. i
can't find my
duster, i tell
her, and my maid,
cecilia was deported
back to sweden.
do you have a dog,
she asks me.
no, not anymore,
well, maybe you
should get one,
or even two just
to clean up all
the crumbs and crusts
and popcorn scattered
about the couch
and floor. you're
hurting my feelings
i tell her as i
pop a can of pabst
blue ribbon,
slinging the extra
suds off my
hand as it foams
out the top. i don't
think that's possible
she says. i really
don't think i'm
girlfriend material
for you, i have to
go now. no problem,
i tell her, but
hey, on your way out
can you take these
two bags out to
the curb, the shrimp
shells are killing
me. whew.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

vote for me

you decide to run
for office.
first dog catcher
then sherriff,
then delegate.
all the ways up
to mayor. your
sights are on
the white house
eventually, but
it's an uphill
battle, because
of your sordid past.
you've confessed
all of your sins
before your adoring
public, at least
the sins they
know about,
and have asked for
forgiveness. they
too have sinned
and feel your guilt
and shame. they
are you, and you
are them. but they
ask you for one thing
and one thing only,
to change your
slogan. apple pie,
the flag and
blondes. they feel
that the blondes
part should be
changed to
something else.
i'm open for
suggestions. i will
compromise. it's
who i am. your
candidate for

the pond

the stone
thrown to
the center
of the pond
the water ripple
out in concentric
circles. first
large then
smaller waves
and where are
you, she
asks, just
where are you.

my new dog

while i was
out a window
the other night
hanging onto
the fire escape
with a bag
of watches
and jewels,
there was a dog
tugging at
my pant leg.
there was a
ball snug in
the corner of his
mouth and his
tail was waggin.
he wanted
to play before
i went off into
the night
with my loot. so
we did. we played
for an hour or
so until i heard
the lock on
the door turn,
i put my ski
mask back on
and headed out
the window.
unbeknownst to
me the dog had
slipped into
the bag that was
now over my
shoulder, and as
i eased down the
fire escape steps
he popped his
his head out
and gave me
a long lick
across the face.

tea and lemons

under, but not
completely under
the weather, you
take your sniffles
and slight
congestion, and
stuffy nose
to the local
grocery store
to peruse the aisle
for some sort
of relief.
a crowd has
gathered, like
you, coughing
into their hands,
some worse than
others. reading
the print on
the backs of
boxes while they
sneeze and wipe
their eyes
and mouths with
their sleeves. it's
an ellis island
of communicable
it's not good,
and you back away
slowly, then run
towards the tea
and lemons.

Friday, January 27, 2012


sand in the bed.
infinitely small
beads of rock
scattered like
stars across
the sheets. there's
not a place you
can roll to
and find your peace,
to fall deeply
into that elixir
place you cling
to, called sleep.


but i am
on vacation,
your mother says
as you ask her
why not take
a trip, go somewhere
while you can.
and she laughs
and stirs
the pot. the steam
rises up into
her pink face
and white hair.
there is nowhere
i want to go
she says. i am
here, and that's
good enough.
you go, and tell
me all about
when you return.

nothing changed

the house left
as it was
when she
departed. her
purse on
the chair.
the lone plant
leaning towards
a dish in
the sink.
the sofa, with
a pillow
just so,
her weight
and curve
of her.
waiting as
if she'll
be right back.

the dance of light

at six a.m.
stepping out
into the bay,
feet sinking into
the silt of a
summer's green
soft wash below,
the water was
quickly over
my mouth, my
eyes, my nose,
and i could
see both ends
of my life in
that brief moment
at five,
the dance of
light, from water,
and sky.

drive thru liquor

i see you under
the palm trees
a coconut
in hand, cracked
open, the cool
slender liquid
white and dripping
on your chin.
biting into
the meat, like
sugar against
your teeth. i
don't see the box
you lie in,
the rags, the hair
a nest. the eyes
as blue as blue
can be, in
blue hawaii
i see
you under
the palm trees,
not here below
the neon. open
all night.
drive thru.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

bones in the road

you can't
shake your
they stick
despite your
smile, your
cover up of
joy and content
ment. there they
are, bones
on the road
you must travel
and step over
each day.

the elms and others

you can hear
them breathing.
the trees
as they sigh
between the rain
and sun,
moving towards
their own death
without remorse
or regret. they
swim gracefully
with hands
toward the sky,
rooted in
the blue earth.
their faith is no
faith. they just
are. alone
and yet together,
not unlike us
at all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the doer

i'm going to egypt
in the fall
she tells me
over coffee, but
after a few nights
in venice. i'm
learning italian
while i sleep,
i put a plug in
my ear and it tells
me over and over
the phrases i'll
need to know
to get around
and buy things.
last night i
was in new york
and saw
the producers.
you'd love it, you
should go sometime.
my yoga instructor
is amazed at
the poses i can
do now after
only three
thousand classes.
she calls me
her favorite student
over the age of
fifty who still
eats cake.
this scarf i'm
wearing, yup,
it's true, i made
it while riding
the subway to work,
saving gas
and the environment
so that generations
after us can live.
it's biodegradable
and you can eat
it in a pinch.
i turned one of
my rooms into a garden.
i filled it with
two feet of black
top soil and
planted tomatoes
and peppers. you
should taste them.
i'll make you some
vegetarian lasagna
one night. oh,
and did i tell
you, i'm reading
every book on the
ny times best seller
list. and, now you'll
love this, i'm
writing a book too.
it's all about
the things that i
do, that others
don't do, but should.
it's been so
nice chatting, she
says. but i have
to go now. i'm
reading for the blind
at the library and
then i have to
drop off bread
at the shelter before
going to my church
to play the bells.
bye for now, stay
in touch. be a doer,
don't be a couch
potato little mister.

blue stones

you know these
these stones
along the stream.
blue and grey
the color of a
new born sky.
you know them
all by name, by
the wisdom
of their quiet
in grief or joy,
they are
weathered wise
and like you,
they remain.

white onions

these onions
are making
me cry, i tell
her, as i stand
in the kitchen
peeling and
cutting, dicing.
i've never
seen you cry
before she says,
dabbing my
cheeks from
the hot tears
that roll down.
i love a man
who can open his
heart and cry.
but i'm not
crying really,
i insist, look,
i'm cutting onions.
i'm making a stew.
white onions.
look at me chop
chop chop.
go ahead she
says, patting
me on the back.
get it out
of your system.
there is nothing
to be ashamed of.
i knew you had
a sensitive side
hidden in there
somewhere. a heart
beats in you

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

dancing fools

do you dance,
she says
the end of
her milkshake
straw. pffft,
what, are you
kidding me, i
say. i love
to dance.
i take lessons
three nights
a week. oh, do
tell she says,
excited. leaning
her chin
into her hands.
what kind of
dances are
you learning.
rumba, congo,
the watusi,
the twist, that
sort of thing,
i tell her.
oh my, she
says, aren't
you a pistol.
you have no
idea, i tell her.
do you hear that.
she puts her
ear up like
a dalmation,
hear what, she
says. that tapping,
that's my feet
below the table.
those feet
are on fire,
baby. she peeks
under the table
where my feet
are flopping
around, heel to
toe, etc.
you are something
she says, then
sucks the rest
of the milkshake
out of her cup
with one giant

your tea is ready

your tea
is ready.
hear the whistle.
i watch how
you drop
in the lemon
the honey. then
blow on the lip
of the thin
hot water, as
brown as
the last leaf
fallen from
the tree. i'll
miss that too.

the slide

as you slip
down the silver
slide, buttery
smooth, for
the first
and last time,
it's a short
sweet glide to
the other side
of your life,
now isn't it?

the debate

they should wear
costumes to denote
who they really are.
standing up there
in expensive suits
and ties, well groomed
and pancaked up
with rouge. give newt,
and his chubby jowls,
a fork and knife
and a bib. for mitt
a beanie for his
head, and a bag
of marbles, all his.
for the other guy,
who's name escapes
me put a cape on
him, and a question
mark on his chest.
and the elder fellow,
a staff and a white
robe, and a tablet
of a story told
long ago. the best
and brightest are
smart to stay away
from the likes of this.

the pebble

the pebble in her
shoe, is her soul
unhappy at
the movement of
her feet across
the floor.
the pinch
of stone on heel
tells her each
day that things
aren't right. that
she needs to stop
and shake free
whatever it is
that's making her
sad, making
her angry. but
then what. what
will there be to
hold on to.

someone is missing

someone is missing.
it's in the news.
you lose track of
all those that have
lost their way or
who have been
snatched out of
their shoes and taken
into the dark.
there's a baby
left in a car.
a mother crying.
the scenario rarely
varies. there is
weeping. there is
remorse. there is
confession and a trial.
a three act play.
someone is missing.
you read about it
as you drink your
coffee, eat your breakfast.
you try to shake
the words off
the newspaper, but
they cling tightly
with their small
ink black hands.
someone is missing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

the oak tree date

i'll be right back
you tell your
date whom you've just
met. you've abruptly
interrupted her
story about her
mother's hip
replacement and
the ramp that's
being built to
accomadate her
condition. there's
a tree in
the way, she tells
me, an old
oak tree that her
grandmother had
planted when she
was a little girl.
excuse me, you
say, and get up
and head towards
the bathroom.
when you get in
you throw cold
water onto your
face, you look
at your hands, they
are trembling. you
look into the mirror
and shake your head.
you can't do this
anymore. there is
a small window
above the sink
that you think you
can crawl out of
if you can get up
there. you manage
to climb up and
jimmy the window
open, but as you try
to pull yourself up
the sink cracks in
two and down you
go, breaking
the porcelain basin
into pieces, which
in turn snaps the pipes
spewing water like
a fire hydrant all
over you. the room
begins to spin
as you flail on
the filthy floor.
there is a knot on
your head, and you're
soaked. finally you
get up, collect yourself
and quietly leave.
you go back
to the table, your
shoes squeaking
on the floor, and
sit back down at
the table. what
happened your date
says. your head, it's
bleeding, why are you
all wet? it's nothing
you tell her. i'm
fine, now where were
you with that story.
the oak tree that was
in the way of your
mother's wheel chair
ramp? oh yes, oh yes,
she says, sipping her
margarita and chewing
on a calamari ring,
they chopped it down
and made a coffee table
out of it. if you ever
come over to my house
i'll show it to you.


there is room.
you find
the space.
you bring home
another bird
with a broken
wing. a cat
with one eye.
a three
legged dog.
you make them
there is
here that they
need. you
them. you don't
want their
love, their
you want them
to be free of
such things
that burden
us as humans.
they can come
and go as
they please,
the window
is always open,
the door ajar.
you understand

without sleep

to sleep
or stay awake
somewhere in
the radiator
and neighbors
make love
against the wall.
there is rain.
there is
someone on
the street
just getting
home. he's
there is
someone telling
him to be quiet
it's late.
you close
your eyes
then open them.
morning is so
close, so
far away.

claw marks

those claw
marks on
the door,
are you
to get out,
or get into
place or

Sunday, January 22, 2012

the zombie next door

you suspect that
your neighbor may
be a zombie. she's
very very pale
and has dark circles
under her eyes.
she's incohorent at
times, with the hic
cups and always
seems to have smeared
lipstick, and
her clothes are
often on backwards.
on occasion she is
carrying her shoes
in her hands when
getting out of her
car. of course it's
three a.m. and i'm
just getting home
too. i may be wrong.


behind the wheel
she's a dictator
in a foreign
country with no
red lights, all
lights mean go.
as her white
knuckles wrap
around the wheel.
these cars in
front of her,
or to the side
are her minions
that better heed
her horn and voice,
the gesture that
she waves while
on the way to
whole foods
to get some hummus
and organic

a feeling

you've left
something behind
or have
something. an
iron on,
or light,
or the burner
on the stove.
perhaps the door
is unlocked
or a window
milk left on
the counter.
it's just a
feeling, like
the one i have
when you leave
without a kiss

Saturday, January 21, 2012

notes on the door

where is this
relationship going
the note on
the door says. it's
stuck there by
a pen knife
right next to
the peep hole
which you looked
out of before
retrieving it
in your slippers
and pajama bottoms.
there's actually
several notes.
one from your
mother about
sunday dinner,
another from
your neighbor
about picking
up after your
dog, and one
from your son
who wants to know
your atm pin
number just
for emergencies
while in LA.
what's up with
all these hand
written notes, you
wonder out loud
to your dog.
doesn't anyone
text anymore,
e mail? we both
shrug simultaneously
then go fix

ch ch ch changes...

i admit, i'm slow
to change, if i
change at all.
reading a book
on an electronic
tablet, or having
all my music
plugged into my
ear at one time,
doesn't melt
my butter.
and speaking of
butter, it was very
hard to give
up my butter churn,
not to mention,
my wind up watch
and stereo with
speakers in
the corner.
the horse, had
to go, obviously,
it was too hard
on him as well
as me, living in
a highrise.
i no longer hunt
or fish, or trap
though. ever
since safeway
began carrying
fish and meats
i put away the bow
and arrow,
the fishing rods
and lobster pots.
so that's good.
i am evolving.

shopping for jeans

you need a new
pair of jeans, so
you go shopping.
you want something
stylish and hip,
but not too hip.
after all you
just hit your
fiftieth birthday
for the eighth
year in a row.
the ones you have
are baggy in
the butt, but
tight everywhere
else from eating
too much christmas
pie. they are
getting thread
bare from a
thousand washes.
you like the new
skinny jeans, but
they are so tight
that parts of
you turn blue,
you can't even
button them despite
the tag saying
that they are
your size. they
squeeze your kidneys
so much that you
suddenly have to
run to the store bathroom.
that done, you
go to the next pile
and find the ones
with embroidery
on the back pockets.
fancy stitching
in various colors.
you think that maybe
you have stumbled
into the teenage girl
department, but no.
they are for men,
but perhaps not
so manly men. there's
another stack where
it looks like
someone has taken
a cheese shredder
to the fabric, you
look for a sales
person to report
this vandalism, but
there's no one around.
then there's the
dirty jeans and the ones
that are faded, as if
bleach had been added
to the mix. where
are the lee's,
the wranglers, the
levis...oh, there
they are, where
those farmers and
heavy machine
operators are
flipping through
the stacks. it's
really over, you
think to yourself
it truly is.

new ice

it starts with
a blink,
a forgotten
name or place
you've been to.
the lost key,
the parked
car. the missed
the place you
were to meet
your friend, what's
her name?
a meal you
had just
yesterday. what
was it?
steak or fish.
your feet
have suddenly
found a thin
coat of ice
beneath them,
as you hold
on and try
to remember
dry land
in spring.

Friday, January 20, 2012

bug world

you read about
a bug in national
that is going
extinct. there
might be one or
two left in
the entire world.
both were last
seen in africa,
somewhere along
the ivory coast.
so you decide to
go there, to save
these bugs. put
them into an empty
jar with holes
in the lid so
they can breathe.
you will keep
them alive until
they breed more
bugs. you will
be the one to keep
the species
going. you google
africa on
your computer as
a stink bug crawls
across the screen.
he's very very slow.
with his grey
medallion back,
and long spindly
legs. his friend
is hanging onto
the curtain where
you flicked him ten
minutes ago. moving
along at a snails
pace. you knock
the one on your screen
in the same direction
but he hits the wall
with a muted thud.
this doesn't seem
to injure him at all
as he shakes his
head, rolls over,
and begins his long
trek back up the leg
of your desk.
at this point you've
lost interest in
the bugs about to
go extinct. you're
thinking that maybe
it's okay. maybe they
had a good trillion
year run, and that's
good enough. you
see how far away
africa is and realize
that's it's way
too far to go anyway
and you don't really
have that kind
of time, or luggage.


she pokes her
the box
and stares
at me,
on the couch
the room.
what are you
doing, i ask
her. she's
cut a hole
into the top
with which
her head
i'm thinking
she says.
you've changed
margaret, i
tell her.
somehow since
your trip to
you've changed.

part time

i look out my
office window
and see a man
walking down
the street
wearing my clothes,
he's hand in
hand with my
wife and children.
my dog is on
a leash in his
other hand.
he's wearing
my hat too,
and shoes.
the watch i got
for christmas
is on his wrist.
he looks just
like me, but not
so tired
and worn. i cross
the street
to ask him
how he does it,
how does he
manage to live
so stress free
with my family
when i'm not
around. he
laughs and pats
me on the back,
it's only
part time, he says.
just part time.
i'm just filling
in until you
get home.

the dark side of the moon

i'd like to see
more love
and affection
in your poems
she says to me.
a fluid stream
of happy thoughts
and good karma.
i'd like to see
some sweetness
come from your
pen. show me
your heart, not
always the dark
side of the moon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the story

let's say the story
has two lovers
young lovers
who meet on a train
on their way
home from work.
they can't take
their eyes off
of one another.
they've seen each
other for weeks,
and finally by
luck or fate end
up beside each
other. let's say
that both are single,
neither with a
man or woman at
home waiting for
their return.
no husband, no wife.
let's pretend that
to be true.
so many others do.
why should this
story be different.

how it starts

this moon,
etched silver
high above
the lake.
as still, as
clean and placid
as a dime
the black
sky, it
light onto
our legs
and arms,
our faces,
both too shy
to look anywhere
but away. our
feet causing
the only ripple.
it always starts
this way.


i abandon ship
more quickly
than an italian
captain at the helm
of a cruise ship
the narrow straits
off tuscany.
i'm diving in and
swimming fast
away, arm over
arm, at the first
sight and sound
of land, of
the hull being
sheared by striking
shallow rock
that lurks below
in an unforgiving

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the donut mantra

i meet my friend
sunshine, formerly
sheila, for coffee
the other morning
and right away she
starts in.
i am at peace with
the world, i fear
nothing, no man,
no circumstance can
upset the inner
joy and love i
feel for the world
she tells me over
the pink plastic
table at mr. donut.
i can help you, she
says, gently touching
the top of my hand.
you seem a little tense.
knotted up. she smiles,
but wrinkles her brow
with serious concern.
i'm having
a bavarian cream
filled donut and black
coffee and she's
dipping a plain
cake donut into
her tea with lemon.
yeah, i have been
tense lately.
i've been stripping
wallpaper all week
and it's not coming
down. it must have
been put up there with
gorrila glue. it's
killing me. well,
she says softly.
i can teach you,
give you a mantra
that you can chant
while you work. it
will be bring you
peace despite
your circumstances.
but then i'll miss
the sports talk show
on the radio if i'm
chanting all day.
she laughs, and says,
so what is more
important, your
inner soul and
finding contement,
or worrying about how
the redskins will do
against dallas? good
point sheila, i mean
sunshine, good point.
they stink anyway.
hey, is that your
prius out there.
they seem to be
towing it. i think
you may have parked
in a handicap spot.
she stands up and
throws her donut
against the plate
glass window. stop,
she screams.
those stupid bastards,
she says, my sticker
is right there on
the dashboard. i'm
going to sue them
if they damage my
car. hey sheila,
i call after her.
i'll be right out,
i'm going to get a
dozen to go.

the line

the line
of old friends
this year
again. and rumors
of who has
come and gone
even slower
with less voices
to pass the news
along, but
the line
presses on.

all your days

it surprises you,
this breeze
that slips
the crack
of your window
frame. and you
place your
hand upon it
as if a blessing,
as if a kiss.
as if a clue
to things you
need to know
before all
your days
are night.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

waxing the car

while you stand
in the sun
with your shirt
off, bent over
and rubbing
wax into
the hood
of your car,
you pause for
a moment and
think about
that first car.
you wonder what
has changed,
what has filled
the years between
then and now.
and this makes
you hurry back
to the cloth,
the wax, the
gleaming hood.


sit up straight.
eat your vegetables.
watch your punctuation,
your caps, your
commas, your lack
of grammatical
be polite, and
wait your turn.
wait until you're
called upon.
and those run
on sentences, stop
it. why are you
going this way,
when you know
the other way
is faster. let me
finish my
sentence before
you begin to talk.
you're hogging
the bed, you're
snoring, why is
that window open.
please, let me
finish first, okay.
now it's your turn.
wasn't that fun.
i'm so glad we
met. a match made
in heaven. yes?

Monday, January 16, 2012


jimmy calls me up on
his cell phone
late one night.
i haven't heard from
him in awhile. the last
time we spoke he
was selling hyundais
down on route one
and making a bundle.
hey, he says, what up?
not much, i tell him.
what are you doing?
still selling cars?
pffft. he says, no
way. i'm tired of the
game. tired
of the corporate man
keeping me down.
i only made
ninety thousand last
year. i can't live
off of that. you know
how much a dry martini
is these days? so what
are you doing? i asked
him. i'm down at
mcpherson square.
i'm an occupier. you
should come on down.
we're having a blast
chanting, singing,
waving our signs
around and what not.
it's cold as hell
out here, but
there's some pretty
hot babes in the pup
tent next to mine.
i think they used
to be flight attendants,
or nurses. not sure.
but they are
smoking hot. i went
over to their tent
the other night to
borrow some butter
for the popcorn i was
popping on my hibatchi
and ended up staying
half the night.
they had a chilled
bottle of pinot noir
they brought from their
wine cellar in middleburg.
sounds great. let
me take a shower
and put on some clean
clothes. no man, no
don't do that. in fact
go out into the front
yard and roll around
in the mud so that
you look like one
of us. don't brush
your teeth either.
it wouldn't hurt
to take a bite
off a red onion.
but hey, bring an extra
blanket or two, and
maybe pick up some
finger foods. a wedge
of roquefort cheese
and some waterford
crackers would
be nice. something
to gnosh on while
we go visit the girls
and talk strategy
on how to bring
the system down.
okay, okay, i tell him.
anything else?
nothing i can think of.
oh wait, bring some
flea powder, i've
been itching like crazy
this whole week. oh,
and a black magic
marker. the ink on
my sign ran all over
the place when it
rained the other day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

the owl

in the woods
grey with winter
your eyes
catch the wide
spread wings
of an owl.
swooping low
between the trees.
his shadow
selling fear
to those
small mice
that scatter
on soft hooves
to burrow under,
some don't make
it, but others
do, enough to
start again

morning coffee

wearing the coat,
the scarf
and gloves, still
all buttoned up
inside, the light
that angles
through the large
plate glass window
is not enough to
warm you,
and you feel in
your bones your
true age as you
sip your coffee
and peruse
the hymnal
of the post,
the thin news
in the thin paper
resting in your
hands, and you can't
help but wonder
as you turn
the pages, half
reading, how deep
into winter you are
and will spring,
if it arrives,
change your way
of thinking.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

attention wal-mart shoppers

the voice you
hear, no, not
the little voice
in your head,
saying run,
forrest run,
but the bigger
voice, the one
booming over
the P.A. system
saying that there
is a special going
on at the moment
for twenty pound
bags of marshmallow
circus peanuts
and spandex pants
in aisle six,
makes you head for
the doors, flying
past the geriatric
greeter in a red
smock causing his
toupee to spin,
leaving without
your AA
batteries, snow
tires and carton
of twinkies. what
were you thinking?


after watching
for the third
time all the episodes
for the five
seasons of the wire,
the HBO series
on the drugs
and gangs, and
the pOlice,
in baltimore
i begin to talk
a little like Omar,
saying things
like sho nuff.
or do you feel
me? or just plain,
yo, what up dog?
but i'm normally
walking my little
dacshund, moe,
when i do,
and he looks up
at me, as if to
say, as if fool,
as if.

buddha banana

i'm leaning
towards buddhism
these days
she tells me
while peeling
a banana.
they have some
really good
stuff when
you read about
it. she
throws the
peel into
the street
without thinking.
hey, hey,
what's that all
about, i ask her.
i'm thinkng
about buddhism,
i didn't say
i'd become one
yet, she says,
and munches
down on her fruit.

the butter poem

you never write
a poem
about butter, she
says, sitting at
the kitchen table
buttering an
english muffin
fresh from
the toaster.
i look at her,
as i stand in
my terry cloth
bathrobe waiting
for the water
to boil to make
a cup of tea and
say, what about
margarine, or
butter spread, or
some other yellow
fat product that
feels and tastes,
and slides
along a piece of
toast just like
butter. no, she
says, taking a
bite of her
buttered toast.
i want a poem about
butter, straight
from cow milk
okay, okay, i
say. i'll put it
on the list and
take it under
geeze marie, what's
wrong with you
this morning?

Friday, January 13, 2012

all about you

as she stares
dreamily out
the back window,
lying on the couch
while a breeze
makes the trees
dance in their
april green dresses
she says, how come
you never write
a poem about me.
and i answer by
saying, but they're
all about you.

the clock

you take out your
tools, the small
pliers, the thin
flat ended
screwdriver, the
phillips head,
tiny enough to
fit those silver
minute screws
that hold the case
and then you set
the clock in
front of you
and open it up
while it's still
finally after
many parts have
been removed,
the glass front
out, you put
your finger on
the long black
hand, tightly,
and say, okay
now. please stop.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

hipster cats

you see three
cats with suitcases
crossing the street
with hipster hats,
plaid and all three
wearing dark
rimmed glasses
and sideburns. a
tabby, a calico
and a maine coon
cat who has a case
for his bass guitar.
you stare, but say
nothing. it's a
different world
and you're not
getting in, dad.

the errant toss

stumbled upon,
the written
note that says,
i'm leaving,
not sent
or posted
on the door,
or left to see
upon the table
where you set
your keys
and wallet,
it's crumbled
ball having
missed the can
that sits in
the corner
of the kitchen.
and so it's
in your hand
these words,
smoothed out
in the morning
light. and
at least for
now, the errant
toss has changed
the course of us.

the salad bar

normally i am not
an impatient man,
i can sit in traffic
for hours on end
and it won't bother
me in the least.
the bank, pffft,
the line moves slowly,
but what's the rush,
however when it comes
to the salad bar
at the grocery store,
i need my salad now.
i want to yell out
to the two women
in front of me
talking about
whatever to move on.
take your finger
off your indecisive
chin and decide.
pick a shred
of lettuce, romaine
or iceberg, those
are your choices.
pick one.
you can actually
grab more than one
leaf at a time too.
this tin you carry
is not for show
and tell, nobody's
putting it on display.
oprah is not going
to suddenly appear
and put your salad
on her show. those
chick peas are not
diamond earrings,
ladle on a few
and giddyup.
select your mini
mutant corn and get
going. those beets,
don't roll them all
around, they are
all the same. spear
one out of that soupy
red goop and plop in
the mix. same goes
for those eggs,
digging to the bottom
is not going to
get you a better one.
and yes, if you
turn the bottle of
honey mustard dressing
upside down, and tap
it, eventually it
will come out, no
need to go get
the manager. no, don't
stop, keep moving.
bacon bits, shake it
out baby, shake it.
don't forget your sporks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


a pale unbrella
of sweet blue
holds us together
in this summer
embrace, the
shine on wet
grass, our feet
cool and wet
in the under
lying mud. but
it doesn't matter
as we climb
the hill
hand in hand
where we can't
be seen. both
too young
to realize
what's to come,
how nothing yet
has come to pass.
perhaps this
kiss, this nervous
touch of lips
will be a start.
and the fireflies,
the smell of
summer, the soft
wind bending
light in the hollow
of trees below,
somehow all of this
will be remembered
when we are both
apart, somewhere,
and old.

gin and tonic

while you drop
an ice cube
into your glass
and pour upon it
some gin, then
tonic and cut
a small wedge
of lime to enhance
the look and
taste, you stop
for a moment and
look outside
the window where
a woman is
chasing her husband
down the street
in her bathrobe.
she is holding
a gleaming samurai
sword high above
her head. a dog
is running beside
her barking happily.

she's going away

standing drunk
and naked outside
my house
with your hands
behind your
back, handcuffed,
while the blue
lights of
a state trooper's
squad car
casts a holiday
palor upon you,
i wonder if
you'll be out
by spring, so
that we can take
that trip
we've talked
about so often.
i'll try to wait,
but i can't make
any promises.

zoo talk

the monkeys at
the zoo
are smarter than
they look, sure
they jump around
and make strange
howling noises
in their cages,
swinging from
branch to vine,
it seems at time
they don't
have a brain in
their heads,
but when you
aren't looking,
peering into their
world of bananas
and scratching,
picking fleas
off of one another,
they are much more
literate and
sublime. reading
books, writing
poetry, in deep
meditation on
a world gone wrong,
so when you see
them, think
of me, and change
your mind.

Monday, January 9, 2012


if everything
goes right,
the car starts,
the rain stops,
the work
comes in. if
remains calm
and stable, if
the phone
doesn't ring
with bad news,
and the x-rays
are negative,
if everything
is sunny
and there are
at the window,
then, and only
then does all
that mastery
of meditation
pay off. god
forbid a fly
gets in
the ointment.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

to vanish

words of
invisible ink
before your
eyes on
white paper.
faces in
the window
on a train
going by, voices
that become
then nothing
in your ear.
the last heart
beat that your
hand feels
before you
pull it away.
the final thought
before sleep
and the board
is cleared.
people and things
have a tendency
to vanish
these days.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

bird hitting the windsheild

a bird hits
your windshield.
a black bird
with a yellow
beak. his wings
are wide open
in a slow glide
as if perfectly
timed for him
to strike
the glass. his
whole life
coming to this,
through childhood,
after so much
work, so many
nests and lovers,
so many trees
and streams
to glide upon.
and now this. you
keep driving
trying not to
think if this too
is a portent.

the dancer

sometimes you see
her dancing
in the window.
the blinds
open, the curtains
drawn back.
she is wearing
black and has
her hair up on
top of her head.
people come from
all around
to stand there
on the sidewalk
at night
and watch her
dance. she is
always alone,
and there is no
music that you
can hear from
the street below,
but you can see
her arms go
round, her hips
sway, her
back bend, you
can see the smile
on her face
as she dances
about the room.
she seems to remember
something or
someone that
has made her happy
in the past
and you think how
lucky she is.

the baby seal jacket

one thing you need
to know about me
she says, before
we go any further,
is that
i'm an extremely
green person.
she takes a sip
of her hot water
with a slice
of lemon and stares
at me. but
you look fine i
tell her. even
without makeup. your
skin is very nice.
no, she says. what
i mean is that
i recycle
religiously. i
have my own burlap
bag for whole foods,
it was my mother's.
and i drive a prius.
or walk, or bike
i love nature
and all of God's
living creatures
and will do
in my power
to preserve mother
earth. no red meat
or even fish for
me. i can accept
that i say, sipping
my martini and cutting
into my rib eye
steak, but you
know this coat
i'm wearing? yes,
she says, well,
it's made out of
baby seals. i hope
you don't mind.
she looks at the coat
and feels the softness
of the fabric, then
dips her pita
bread into her hummus,
let me think about
it, she says.

the mailman

your mailman
died last week.
you saw him for
the last time
on thursday. he
handed you
the circulars
from the grocery
store and the gas
bill, and the
insurance notice.
years ago,
he brought you
letters and post
cards from
afar. from places
like italy,
and mexico.
things have changed.
he took no pleasure
in his work
anymore and you
in turn, took
no pleasure in
picking up
the mail.

you try to follow

her through
the winding
dark streets
down the boulevard,
you try to follow,
but there's traffic,
the light's changing
red, and people
walking in front
of you, you try
to follow but
there are obstacles,
a police car with
his blue lights
playing silent night
against the darkness.
there are turns you
don't know, new
corners, new streets.
you have no
clue as to where
you are or where
you are going, you
try to follow, but
she's gone and so
you stop and go home.

but her legs are fine

she sends me a photo
of her car being towed,
the once new shiny
set of wheels
now on the back of
a flatbed truck.
she tells me that
they'll know better
when they put it on
life support
and get the full
report from the mother
ship computer back
at the dealer. she's
without wheels now.
but her legs are fine
she says, and
she sends me a photo
of those too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

the goldfish

it's enough
sometimes to wait.
to swim in
the small bowl
the shallow depth
the green
spears of leaves
and small
grey castle with
a hole to go
from side
to side. it's
enough sometimes
to just wait,
to listen to
the click
of the door, to
hear the vibration
of the floor
and see the hand
above dropping
bits and bits
of crumbs that
you pretend
is love. nothing
less, nothing

what's on your mind

across from
me, at the table,
as you with
unusual purpose
smooth butter
onto your toast,
your tea still
hot. i feel
your bare
foot on the
side of my leg
and know clearly
what's on
your mind,
and what's not.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the roman empire

the roman
empire, as if
your mind was
such a place,
keeps ending
and beginning,
lost in the
mythology of
dead historians
and men with
small shovels
turning over
dirt. you have
rebuilt many
times over
the earth you
once lived upon.
constructed new
heights, new
lows, lovers
that aren't
lovers anymore,
those that have
lost their vote
with your heart
and your vote
with them.
another flag
another temple
will rise and


at days end
with tired legs
and arms,
weary from what
work had to
be done, you
slip into
the warm bath
and sink towards
the soft
world of water.
and with her
in the other
room, waiting
with patient eyes
and lips
you arise
and find
in her embrace,
without words,
what really
matters most.

balancing the checkbook

of course we didn't
agree on everything.
the new bride and i.
what fun would that
be. i leaned left,
she leaned right.
i held onto the faith
of my childhood,
she thought buddha
was a fine way
to go. she preferred
winter and i
summer. it was tea
for her and coffee
for me. she slept
on her back and i
on my side. but when
i said that we
needed to balance
the check book
to keep a budget
of sorts,
and she stood still
and set the book
on top of her head until
the wobble stopped,
i knew then how deeply
the trouble i was in.

playing the numbers

i'm not afraid
of dying, he says to
me after cashing
in his social
security check
and buying
twenty dollars
worth of lottery
tickets from
the 7-11. but i
am afraid of pain
and dying slowly.
i couldn't live
with that.

blue jay

at seven
in the morning,
while chipping
ice away from your
windshield with a
metal spatula
from the kitchen
drawer, unable
to start the car,
because the doors
are frozen shut
from the sleet last
night, you ponder
the blue jay staring
at you in the tree
across the lawn,
ruffling his wings,
and wonder how
he does it.

first day in yoga class

for an hour
you stare at a
candle, the flame
steady and bright
before you.
you are in a lotus
position, sitting
in your boxer
shorts. you are
trying to empty
your mind of
everything, to
still the waters
of the pool that
is within you, but
the opposite seems
to be happening.
your mind is
a banana tree full
of monkeys jumping
from branch
to branch.
you breathe in
you breathe out.
this makes you very
thirsty though.
the candle, the pose,
the hot room
on a sticky mat
with all of these
chanting strangers.
fortunately you
thought ahead and
have an ice cold
bottle of beer
within reach.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a tuna christmas

you buy your wife
a beaded seat for her
car. she's a cab
driver and sits all
day behind the wheel.
thank you, she says.
and comes over to
the couch to hug
you around the neck.
and here's your gift.
you unwrap the large
box with a bow.
it's a black leather
briefcase. someone
left in the back
of my cab, she says.
there's no name
on it. no one came
to claim it in over
two weeks. you have
to pry it open
though, it's locked.
you take a butterknife
and break it open.
it's full of magazines
a newspaper. and a stale
lunch in a brown bag.
tuna fish on rye,
with a dill pickle.
a small bag of chips
is in there too.
thank you, you tell
her. i have everything
i'll ever need now.
merry christmas.

get your cat and leave

a man comes to your
house and knocks
on the door. he
asks you if amy
is there. his wife.
you tell him no.
you tell him that
you have never
known anyone by
that name. he asks
if he can come in
and look around.
but you say no,
the house is a mess
and you are in no
mood for company.
i know she's here
he says, but it
doesn't matter. i
don't love her
anyway. you can
have her, she's all
yours. good luck
with her. you
scratch your head
and shrug your
shoulders. you say
you wish there was
something you could
do to help and
he turns and says,
there is, keep her,
i'll send her things
over. you close
the door and go back
inside. a woman
peers out from
behind the couch.
who was that, she
says. it was your
husband and now you
have to go. i'm sorry,
but get your cat
and leave.

florida calling

your sister
calls with news.
but she gets
the weather out
of the way first.
it's ninety degrees
with a blue sky.
her red tomatoes
have ripened
in her garden,
and there is
a bird, yellow
and small with
a black beak,
sitting at
the edge of her
sill. she's well.
she's fine,
she's busy, and
then finally she
tells you,
while sipping
and stirring
her iced tea,
what is on her mind.

the unknown

all day they can
sit and stare out
at the open sea
that rarely changes
but in color
and perhaps
in the movement
of a grey ship
passing by, rising
and falling
in the distance.
so unlike
the variance
of land where
everything seems
known and yet is
of less interest
never causing them
to turn around
and stare in
that way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

water dream

your legs
in shallow water,
your feet
on the sand lit
bottom, the sky
is not blue.
there are no
stars, no
sun or moon.
there is you
in shallow water
to the other
side. it's
another dream
you'll sleep
with and pass

mayan calendar

you stick your
new magnetic mayan
sent to you from
your local real
estate team
bill and sally,
onto your fridge
door and circle
the twenty first
of december.
the calendar
ends there, no
overlap into
the year 2013,
no christmas, no
day after christmas.
it just says,
the end.
you flip it over
though and see
the regular
calendar. it says,
in case the other
one is wrong
use this one.
thanks, bill
and sally, your
agents. you admire
their attention
to detail not to
mention their shiny
faces and very
nice smiles and
if the world
doesn't end, you
may consider using
them for your
next real estate

getting ready

and if she said
i'm taking a shower
now, and i'm
going to wash
my hair. you knew
you had some
free time on your
hand to walk
the dog, write
another poem,
go to the store,
maybe rake
the leaves in
the yard, and when
you heard the hair
dryer click off,
finally, you
knew now that
you could take
your shower,
get dressed
and be ready
in about five
minutes and be
in the car
waiting for her
to come out
the door
the second time,
because she went
back in,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the missing Gospels

why are there no
mention of cats
and dogs in
the bible, she
says to me while
we're having
new year's day
breakfast at i hop.
i'm having
flap jacks with maple
syrup and bacon,
two eggs over
easy on the side
and she's having
a bowl of oatmeal.
cats and dogs?
i say, in the bible?
what are you talking
about? she points
to my chin where
syrup is running
down and hands
me a napkin. well,
she says, spooning
some oatmeal into her
mouth. Jesus must have
had a dog, he seems
like a pet kind of
guy, you know.
i shake my head. sounds
wacky to me, i tell her,
what kind of a dog?
i don't know, she
says, maybe a little
daschund or a beagle,
something he could
pick up and carry
through the crowds
or hightail it if
he had to when
the romans were
chasing him. but i
could see him with
a cat too, maybe
a siamese cat
on his shoulder,
something exotic.
i think he'd just
have a regular cat,
i tell her. an alley
cat. something beat
up, with scars
and a chopped off
tail where someone
threw a spear at him.
you know how He was
about taking in
the ragmuffins and
all that. true,
she says true. hey,
can i have a piece
of your bacon? what
about mary magdalene?
what kind of pet
would she have?
toy poodle, i tell
her, definitely
a toy poodle. john
the baptist? water
spaniel. yup, she
says, finishing
her oatmeal, clanging
her spoon against
the bowl. i'm thinking
that maybe at
the last supper,
His dog skippy, or
whatever his name is,
is under the table,
begging for scraps,
you know? maybe, i
tell her, maybe.
sneaking him a little
bread, a piece
of whitefish. hmm,
i dunno, my dog moe
never liked fish.
hey, have you
seen a waitress, i
could use some
more coffee.

the new leaf

you wake up
and say something
like, what day
is this? where
am i, who are you?
who's that in
the bathroom? what's
burning and why
are all the
windows open?
but you get no
answers. thankfully
you fall back
asleep until noon
when everyone
has left.
and then you get
up and find
aspirin, water,
and a bag of
ice to put on
the back of your
head. you tell
yourself that next
year you will
turn over that
new leaf.