Wednesday, February 29, 2012

kima and sasha

she has two
kittens
kima
and sasha.
they lie
across her
legs
in the cold
night
like feathers
sprung from
a pillow,
both awake
and asleep
at the same
time. their
nine lives
stretch out
before them
like a long
yellow sunrise
against
her one.

empty pockets

you go home
and empty
your pockets.
pulling
them both
out like
white flags.
keys,
and change,
tumble
to the floor.
a few dollars
unspent, float
down. a mint,
a napkin
with a smudge.
you take
your shoes
off and fall
into bed.
you listen
to the wind
scratch
a branch
against the
window. there
have been
better
nights.

joan calls

your friend joan
calls you
the other day
and asks you
if you'd like to
go to the zoo.
but you say no,
it's cold
and it's raining
and i'm in no
mood to see
animals locked
in their cages
waiting for food.
okay, she says,
i can understand
that. how about
we go to the mall
and do some
shopping. i could
use a new pair
of shoes.
same thing you
say. same thing.
hmmm. okay, she
says, well how
about this, i
take you to lunch
and buy you
a nice tall drink.
beep the horn
when you get here,
you tell her. let
me get some
pants on.

footsteps

the footsteps
that you hear
up the staircase
is your son
at three at four
at five. a ball
against
the wall, a game
in his hand.
his voice asking
what's for
dinner, dad.
the footsteps
that you hear
now, are your
own, as you hold
the phone
and speak to him
on another coast
finding his
own way up
his stairs and
happy for what
there was.

eve

don't go away,
you want to tell
her. don't leave
me for another.
but once the apple
has left the tree
there is no place
to go, but away
from me.

the wind of time

your relationship
with time
has been cordial
and easy
for the most part.
you've let
the wind of her
blow through
your hair. but
lately, you've
wanted her to
stop, slow
down the pages
of the book
you are in.
to let you
reread the moment,
look back onto
what has come
and gone and not
be so quick
to get to the end.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the apple

the woman
in front of
you, at the
produce
department
is picking up
each apple
into her small
curled hand
studying it
then putting
it back.
you only want
one apple.
the red one,
fat and
shiny at the top
of the bin.
so you wait
and wait, until
she calls over
the store manager
to help her
get my apple
down. but you
yell, no, that
one's mine.
but she insists
that's the
one she wants.
that's the one
she's always
wanted. so you
bump her
out of the way
and grab it,
then run
through the store
down each aisle
the manager
chasing you,
the woman, with
her cane over
her head
cursing. you
throw a dollar
onto the floor
then begin to
bite wildly
into the apple
while you run
towards the front
door. you decide
you'll have
to come back
later to get
the other things
you needed.

two sisters

two twisters
dark
with teeth
burrow in
towards
you on
the wind
scattered
streets
and you
seek
a shelter
below
ground before
you are spun
towards
an unknown
place
with a
perilous
landing.
there is no
place to hide
so you
begin to spin
yourself
as fast as
you can
and join in
on the fun.

Monday, February 27, 2012

blue shoes

she slips
into her blue
shoes, shrugs
as she looks
into the mirror
and says, why
not. and
everyone loves
them. the whole
day, it's where
did you get
those shoes,
i want a pair
just like that.
and when she
goes home that
night, sits
on the edge
of her bed
with the stars
across the window,
and takes
off her shoes,
she wonders
what else in
her life
could she take
a chance on
to make
things brighter.

the unseen

with your
headlight
cracked and
dark, one
beam showing
you a skewed
notion
of highway
and the deer
on the side
standing
still chewing
on something
green you
turn off
the radio
and listen
head tilted
for what isn't
seen.

what i want

sugar poured
in a line
and the ants
find it.
one by black
one
towards the
source.
they by pass
the spilled
wine,
the opened
milk, the fruit
cut and left
in morning
light. it's
the sugar
that they want,
as i do
with you.

mountains in the distance

let's go mountain
climbing today,
your new girlfriend
says over a bowl
of oatmeal. it
was a good night,
so you are prone
to giving in to
bad ideas, for
a moment.
you try not to
roll your eyes
but they flip
slightly back into
your head and she
sees you. are you
rolling your eyes
at me? well, yes,
i am, you say,
blowing on a hot
spoon of oatmeal.
we can drive over
to that mountain,
that one out the window
and go climb it,
she says.
let's be adventurous.
you look out the
window and see
the blue ridge
mountains about
two hundred miles
away. but we don't
have any ropes
or pick axes, you
tell her, or
sherpas to carry
up our lunch
and oxygen tanks.
do you love me,
or don't you,
she says, standing
up at the table.
hands on her hips.
of course i do,
you tell her.
these last three
days getting to
know you have been
the best three days
of my life, in fact
i would climb
the highest...umm,
well, let me rephrase
that. i get it,
she says. you were
just using me
for sex, weren't you.
that's it, she says.
we're breaking up.
you're not who i
thought you were.
okay, you tell her.
hey, don't forget
your girl stuff in
the bathroom, your
toothbrush and
those creams and
whatever, but she doesn't
hear you as the door
slams and she drives
away towards
the mountains
where the snow
clouds are descending.

holy water

she had a statue
of Jesus
in the livingroom.
about three
feet high.
it lit up with
a white light
emanating from
his blue eyes.
in the hall
was mary,
gleaming
in porcelain,
then the saints
in the bedroom
and the palm
leaves
nailed to the wall.
the rosary beads
on the counter,
next to bowl
of holy water.
so it surprised me
when she yelled
out from the
kitchen, kicking
off her high heels,
how i wanted my
martini, dirty,
dry, or extra
dry.

chasing the dime

you drop
a dime
and it rolls
away.
you see
the silver
edge in
the overhead
store lights.
rolling,
it's just
a dime, but
it feels
like a sin
or something
akin to that,
that makes you
give chase.
but away it
goes, around
the produce
section,
down each aisle
past the milk
the meat,
the magazines,
where you stop
for a minute
and pick up
newsweek. the dime
waits for you
and then keeps
rolling. rolling.

go south

i'm cold.
my bones ache
with
night. the white
of winter
has set
me down
and holds
me in
a shiver.
i need
a warmer place
to be,
a different
point of
view, the brim
of white
sand on
water,
come
with me.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

louise

i named a star
after you, you tell
her one morning
in an apologetic
mood. oh really.
she says. i didn't
know you could
even see the stars
coming in so late
last night smelling
like a bottle
of christmas gin.
no sweetie, you
whisper, there was
one big star brighter
than all the others
that was right above
me, shining down
into my eyes, it
was brilliant. and
i said, i name
this star louise.
the love of my life.
that was the hall
light, she says.
i found you on
the floor last night
when you stumbled
in and passed out.
and who the hell
is louise?

a new day

you begin
your own religion.
it's simple
and clean
based on a glass
of water.
drink it and
believe, you
tell your
congregation
of one, which
is you. no
kneeling, no
throwing oneself
onto the floor
with self pity
and guilt.
just drink it
down. and be
good. today is
a new day.

the neighbor's mail

your neighbor
the one you
seldom talk to
brings you mail.
and says here.
this is yours.
they made a mistake
and delivered it
to me. i'm sorry
that i opened it.
then you hand
him his, also
opened, and
say, hey,
i'm sorry too.

snow falling

she sits
and feeds you
builds a
fire with her
lips. her
hands across
the waters
of your soul.
she sits
and tells you
stories. tells
you things
and you listen
as she moves
towards you
like untouched
snow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

google her

i know where
you live, she
says over the phone.
i googled you too.
i know everything
about you. it's
horrifying. so
what, you answer
back. much of
what's on there
is untrue and pure
fabrications
made up by my mother.
your mother, she
says. why we she
do such a thing?
google her, and
you'll see what
i'm talking about.
friend her on
facebook. and like
her on linkedin,
tweet her on twitter.
it's no longer
just rotary dial
up with her. i
forgot her birthday,
and well there
were severe
repercussions.

dressed to go

blue
is my color.
and black
a second
choice.
but i could
live with
white as
well if
the weather
was warm
enough. i
can't wear
red, or
green. yellow
does nothing
for me either.
keep me away
from plum, or
orange, please.
so remember
this when
it's my time
to go
and you need
to dress me
for that party.

youth

the puppy
in the yard
wrestling
with a stick,
a ball, his
tail. he
finds his
shadow
fascinating.
a bird,
a bug, a turtle
under shell.
everything
is new
and fun
mysterious,
you'd like
to go
back there
too,
perhaps undo
so much that
is done.

at three a.m.

the rain startles
you awake.
the windows
are open.
you feel the cold
wet drops
on your face.
there is a light
on in the hall
and someone
walks by.
it's not a dream
you think.
this is real.
someone says
go back to sleep
everything will
be fine
in the morning.
but nothing is
wrong you answer
back, she stops
to look at you
and smiles, but
she doesn't answer
as she turns
off the light
goes down the steps
and disappears.
you don't know
who she is, and
yet you miss her
already.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

protest

you see a man
in the park
with a sign.
you look closer
and see that there
is nothing written
on either side
so you approach
him and ask him
what gives. what
is he protesting.
nothing, he says,
i'm fine for
the moment, but
give it time,
give it time.

the cheese channel

what's with all
the cheese you ask
her as you look
in the fridge for
something good to
eat, like a slice
of pie, some thin
mint cookies. there
are wedges of cheese,
everywhere, blue,
yellow, red.
all of them sealed
tight in plastic
and named after
small towns in france.
you're killing our
budget with these
cheeses, you say.
but she's not paying
attention as she
cuts a wedge onto
small triangular
crackers. i saw them
do this on tv,
she says. now just
a little mint
jelly and voila!
here try one.

the importance of sports

your shoe lace
snaps as you run
to the subway.
your briefcase
opens and papers
fly. you dribble
coffee onto
your clean white
shirt. you forgot
to let the dog
out, water
the plants and lock
the front door.
you didn't kiss
your wife goodbye
because she didn't
come home last
night. but all
is well. you read
in the morning
paper that your
team won with
a last second
shot from the three
point line. it's
going to be a
very good day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

i made this stuff up

they line up
around the block
for your new
book of poetry
called 'i just made
this stuff up'.
you've changed
the face of poetry
with this powerful
new book. it's your
masterpiece,
the one that you
will be remembered
for until the end
of time. walt whitman
has nothing on you.
sylvia plath, emily,
both of you, go
to your rooms.
charles bukowski, pfft.
and when they ask
you to sign the cover
you oblige, after all
they are your
adoring fans and love
you and every word
you write. you haven't
decided yet who
will play you in
the movie, it's a
toss up at the moment,
clooney, pitt, perhaps,
some unknown with
incredible hair, tall
and lean like a lion,
although lions aren't
really that tall,
or lean, so maybe
someone a regular size.
poetry, who would
have thought
that anyone would
have read or even
cared. okay, i need
a nap now.

more work to do

you get your statement
in the mail.
you have enough
money. enough to ride
out the rest of
your years with relative
ease. you are done.
finished. all the hard
work has paid off
and now you can rest
easy. but suddenly
your eye twitches,
you have an itch along
the side of your
neck. your mouth
goes dry. you get up
from the table and put
the statement away
in a drawer and pretend
you never saw it.
you set the alarm,
you go to bed. tomorrow
you have more work
to do, more miles
to go before you sleep.

possibly happy

you come home
to your gold fish,
she swims gently
through the stone
castle set
at the bottom
on white stones.
the green leaves
blow and sway
underwater.
she doesn't ask
how your day
was, what's on
your mind, or
what's for dinner.
she just rises
to the surface
with an open mouth
and waits. she
doesn't question
where you've been,
or your love
for her or ask
you to do something
fun this weekend.
she's very content
and possibly
happy. you get
along so well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the birthday card

your mother
sends you a birthday
card. it's a week
late, and there is
a red sauce stain
on the envelope.
but that's
okay. there's
a ten dollar
bill tucked inside
and she's drawn
little hearts
next to the words
love mom. with
seven children
it's always been
tough for her to
remember each
birthday, but it's
even harder now with
the light fading.

the internet blues

you met a woman
once who chewed
tobacco and played
the banjo while
sitting on her
front porch. she
wore high
laced boots which
may or may not
have been her mother's,
she liked to tap
them loudly
while she sang
in a high falsetto
voice and strummed
out a wild song
about coal mining
and a tragic cave in
which she blamed
the government for.
she handed you a
harmonica, wiping if
off with her long
red hair, saying it
was her uncle's, who
died of lupus last
spring. he's buried
right over there
by the well, she said.
she tells you to
sit down and join
in. so you did,
blowing your lungs
out until you
blacked out and
rolled onto the porch
where her hound
dogs licked your
face until you
woke up. she nudged
you with her boots
and said, wake up
boy, i got biscuits
in the oven that
are ready to come
out. it seems
you should have
read her profile
more clearly and not
just looked
at the cute freckled
face photo.

you attempt

to live the day
without metaphor,
the ice you scrape
off your window
does not represent
the small
difficulties of
your life. and
the flowers on
the side of the road
confused and up
in strange warm
weather are not
hope, or love.
and the moutains
in the distance,
blue and folded
over into grey are
not places, or
heights that you
will never reach.
they are just
mountains. the
bridges that you
cross, are just
that, too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

butter

you are
drawn
towards her
like a knife
is drawn
towards
butter,
hoping that
it's soft,
not cold.

before hand

you start
with the books
picking them
up from
the floor,
the tables,
the bathroom
one even
on the kitchen
counter.
van gogh's
letters. you
toss the dead
flowers
that droop
in a vase.
then you sweep,
you mop.
you spray
the mirrors
and the glass
you wipe.
you put a shine
on things,
a lemon
smell into
the air.
you shake a
throw rug
out onto
the porch.
you fluff a
pillow. you
change the sheets,
pour a glass
of wine.
then you wait.
but she's
always late,
so you still
have time.

her flowers

she protects her
flowers.
obeys the seasons
of when to
plant
when to water
or prune. when
to leave them
alone. she
knows too when
to cut
them in bunches
place them
in vase upon a
table in
her favorite
light filled room.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

tropical island

you dream
of an island.
of palm trees,
coconuts tumbling
to the white sand
while women
in bikinis
bring you tropical
drinks and act
like they like you.
you dream of the warm
blue ocean rolling
up onto your tanned
feet. you take a bite
of pineapple,
you sip your drink,
you sigh as you
feel a pair of
long soft hands
rubbing lotion
onto your shoulders,
then you get out
of bed, get dressed
and go outside
to scrape the ice
off your windshield
before heading
to work.

not far

not far, you
say. that's
how far, not
very far at all.
we are almost
there. look
ahead, it's
coming. it won't
be long. not
far. keep
looking.

the road taken

if i could write
a poem for
the man below
under the street
wiping dirt from
his brow
with the dirt
on his hand,
or the waitress
in pink bringing
coffee, or
the salesman
with his satchel
of bibles, or
cleaners. if i
could say a word
or two for
the woman at
the register,
the man driving
a bus, or weeding
the lawn. a single
word to bring
something more
something that inches
them towards
and easier road.
i would, as i
hope someone would
for me.

detroit blues

you remind me
of detroit, she
says, holding
my hand in
a farewell
gesture. a place
i want to
leave. but she
doesn't let
go just yet.
in the old days
the city was alive
and dirty but
the wheels
turned. the streets
were filled with
new chevrolets.
it wasn't hope,
but it was
food on the table.
a sunday free.
but not now.
so much is boarded
up and bullets
rain, there is
a chalk line
on every corner.
you remind me of
detroit, she says,
before the factories
closed, before
the exile. she
let's go. you need
to move she says
if you want to see
me again. you
need to move.
someplace sunny,
where you can
close your eyes
and breathe.

at the window

she stays
near the window.
waiting
for another
season
to make
the flowers
rise, to melt
the snow,
to fill
the tree
with leaves,
she waits
for something
like love
to arrive.

carrots

your neighbor has
a beautiful garden.
roses, and flowers.
bushes. birds of
all stripe and
feather fly in,
bees from a far
come to kneel in
a buzzing way at
the altar of her
yard. it's eden
without the fall.
then you look
back to your
yard where you
have a line of
carrots planted
in dry dirt.
and you see a
rabbit sitting
on a stool,
filing his nails
yawning, waiting
for them to ripen.

zoo

you decide
to free all
the animals in
the zoo. you
find the keys
in the zoo
keeper's office
and one by one
you open each
cage, each pen,
but nothing
moves, they
smile and say
no. unlike you
we want
to stay. we
are content.

painting

you can't explain
beauty. what
colors work
upon the canvas.
the shape
of someone's lips,
or nose, or
chin. the length
of an arm, or leg.
no description
can define how
this works. how
someone
can stand there
under a moonless
night and look
this way.

patience

you wait.
your patience
is legendary.
you can sit
on a thought
and wait until
the moment
is right.
some call
it lazy, or
being without
ambition. but
it's none of
that. it's
watiing, it's
patience. ask
any fox
in the woods.

Friday, February 17, 2012

broken sky

the sky with her
open blue arms
and billowing
white dresses
turns away
as you walk
into a darkening
wood. it knows
nothing of the loss
you carry.
everything
goes still when
you snap branches
underfoot, splash
through
the thin creek,
the snow rabbit
round like the rock
it sits behind,
the fox, angled
still before
his dash
towards red brush.
you look up
through the hands
and fingers
of grey trees
to the broken
blue glass of
sky, and you too
stay still,
breath, and sigh.

birth day

nothing slows
down, but you.
it all has
speeded up.
the earth
has circled
the sun once
more and you
are still here
in your
diminished
way. the cake
has more
candles. the
lines are
deeper. the step
more cautious
in the rain.
but it's still
good to eat,
to sleep,
to make love
and to live
in the mystery
of another day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

reading

in the sleep
browned
afternoon
of trees
swaying
against
the may sky
that rises blue
with cathedral
clouds, before
the playground
below the window
as the teacher
turns off
the light,
opens
the book to
read and says,
put your heads
on the desk.
and she reads slowly
at first delving
deep into
the old papered
story turning
pages in our
ears, our lives
still not quite
our own, we
disappear
into the tale
as it unfolds.
and that memory
as sweet and
mournful as it
is, comes back
again, then
again.

sunlight

the sun says
come over here.
put your head
on the silken
grass, bend your
neck this way.
turn your face
to the warmth
of my heart. pay
attention
to me. i will
give you the light
you need.
and when i set
i'll turn it on
to the moon,
and that too
will be plenty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the lion

the lion
in his
cage
pacing
back
and forth
all day
while you
stand
safe on
the other
side of bars
a small field
of green
grass,
he thinks
to himself
if only.
if only.

crying time

she liked to cry.
tears came
like rain at even
the smallest of
things. a cat in
a commercial, sleeping.
a small dog
on his hind legs
begging for
a biscuit. old
people holding
hands. sunsets
and sunrises made
her cry. a hallmark
card, a song
on the radio. a
little yellow
peep bouncing
along on his
orange claws. and
then i came along
and she began to
cry for different
reasons.

sheep counting

you get a job
counting sheep
as they cross over
the threshold
of being sheared
having wandered
in herds for months
until their wool
was as thick and white
as colorado snow.
but it makes you
sleepy, all these
sheep, one after
another, and you get
drowsy and can't
help but fall asleep
before you even
hit a hundred.
and when you fall
off your horse, they
leave you there.
one foot still in
the saddle, the sun
setting over the hills.
all the sheep gone.
the horse licking
your face.

gypsy queen

she had a head
of wild black hair
and carried a
sharp knife, which
she kept strapped
to her thigh.
sometimes she would
lift her dress
and show it to you.
then she'd wink.
you didn't
know if it was a
good wink or a
warning wink, so
you kept your distance
and waited for her
to give you
the green light.
and even then, you
were careful not to
say or do the wrong
thing. she often
said, are you scared
of me, are you
scared of my knife?
to which i would nod
and say yup. i am.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

living in the now

i buy another
self help
book to help
me live in
the moment.
it seems to be
the philosophy
d'jour. living
in the now.
being self aware.
but i'm getting
tired of that
notion. in fact
i'd like to
live in the memory
of a week ago
when betty came
over with a pot
roast wearing
that little
black dress and
high heels. i like
that memory.
i try to visit
it as often as
possible without
crashing my car.
what's so
special about
right now.
i'm standing
in line
at the dmv holding
this book,
having read
the first three
pages six
times,
and i have to go
to the bathroom,
but i can't because
i'll lose my
spot.
the now moment
is not so good.

my valentine

there was a time.
when she was
my valentine.
when chocolate
and flowers
were purchased
in a rush. when
a card was picked
from the hallmark
shelf and signed
with hearts,
with love. there
was a time
when she was
my valentine,
when we went out
to dinner,
and i pulled her
chair and told
her how beautiful
she was, then
gave her a small
box with a ring
or necklace
under a bow, within.
there was a time
when she was
my valentine,
that is until
she met jimmy who
used to be
a friend of mine,
and that pretty much
ended anything
to do with a
valentine.

the current

unsure,
the lamplight
flickers,
when you turn
the switch.
it's strand
of current fragile
at a point
along the line.
no different
perhaps than
your own faith,
how the light
will fail,
and stall,
go dark from
time to time.

some fish

some fish,
like you,
don't bite,
don't take
the hook,
the bait
and run.
some swim
the other way,
sensing
rightly so,
what can't
be undone.

Monday, February 13, 2012

bronzed sneakers

there was a
point when you
were twelve
and you had
worn a hole
into the balls
of both
sneakers, you
improvised.
you found
the toughest
piece of
cardboard you
could find
and cut a nice
round circle
of it to slide
into your shoe.
you were good
to go then
for about one
more game of
tag in
the street. you
wish you
still had
those sneakers.
you'd have
them bronzed and
put where you
could see
them everyday.

empty shelves

the empty shelves
are asking
for cans of beans
boxes of
noodles, jars
of olives
and peppers.
oats and cookies.
their long
wide hands
are out, wanting
to be used,
desiring
the things you'll
eat,
the food
you choose.
they sigh
in the darkness
as they wait
and wait for
you to return
from a grocery
store. they
are tired of
you eating out
every night
or getting
delivery. they
don't like
the dust or
the echo when
you take a
peek just in
case something
was left behind.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

into the wind

everything
in winter bends
towards light,
the slender
thread of
yellow dousing
down across
the stream
of candlelight.
the charred
tree, the bramble,
the stones
with blue faces
below the water.
you and me, into
the wind, towards
another day
another night.

the yellow jello

the yellow
jello
that's been
wobbling
in the fridge
for god
knows how
long might
be fine with
a dollop
of whipped
cream riding
on top
of it's
rippled
skin. but
the date on
the can says
december of
09. but
i'm in a
gambling sort
of mood
and why not,
it's not
how you live,
but how you
die that
matters.
umm, no.
i may have
that wrong.
never mind.

maybe

the world is
littered with
maybes. maybe
you'll clean
out the closets
today. maybe
she'll call, she
said she would.
maybe not. maybe
it will snow
and the streets
will fill
with snow.
maybe not. maybe
you'll call her.
you'll pick up
the phone
and dial her
number. maybe
after lunch,
maybe she's
sleeping or
in love with
another man.
maybe you'll
call her right
now to find
out. but maybe
later, after
you clean
out the closets,
after you stop
looking out
the window and
into the sky
waiting for snow.
maybe.

seagulls

how uneven
the brittle sea
moves forward
with wave
after wave
of brushed
steel water.
the iron
sky, the clouds
heavy
with the white
stripe of birds
half blown,
half in flight.
we get stuck
there sometimes
too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

the mad knitter

your friend madge
took up knitting
over the summer
when her kids left
and her husband
had an affair with
a barista from
zambia. now she
knits all day.
sweaters mostly,
but she'll do an
occasional hat when
the mood strikes.
when i went to visit
her, it was hard
to get the front
door open on account
of the balls of
yarn and stacks
of sweaters and hats.
but there she was
sitting in the far
corner watching
dr. phil, sipping
on a diet coke
and knitting. the
needles clinked madly,
furiously against
one another as she
knitted. hey, you
said to her, what's
going on.
and without looking
up, she said what's
your favorite color,
what size are you?

Friday, February 10, 2012

infinity

you marry einstein's
grandaughter who goes
by the name of
infinity. yes, that's
right. look it up.
google it if you must.
crazy name, but
hey, she's related, to
him, she's a relative
of albert einstein.
she's very smart when
it comes to numbers
and figures, quantum
physics. mention
time travel and she'll
talk your ear off until
the wee hours of the
morning. you get along
quite well in many
areas, but she's
not that bright when
it comes to the world
at large. she's always
late for one thing
and leaves the lights
on all over the house
when she goes to bed.
she has a giant head
of curly red hair
that you often get
your hands stuck in
when having a romantic
moment. and when you
say moment, you do mean
moment. talk about your
speed of light.
you say things
to her like, i'll
love you until the end
of time, which you
quickly regret when
she rebuffs you and
explains how the universe
curves and how the big
bang has caused every
molecule in existence
to expand outward to
the far edges of
the universe.
it's not easy being
married to her, but
you love her and she
makes a mean cinammon
apple pie with crust
to die for, not that
there is such a thing
as death.

five years from now

so where do you see
yourself in five years
the interviewer says.
close your eyes,
take your time and
think about it. put
your head back while
i go through your
resume. but
you only close one
eye, the other one
you squint at the man
because you don't
really trust him.
are you thinking?
he says, relax, imagine
your life, yourself
progressing through
the workplace. it's
hard to concentrate
though. you have to
go the bathroom really
bad on account of the
sixteen ounces of
coffee you nervously
drank while waiting for
the interview. you're
hungry too, and you
remember seeing
cheese danish on a
table in the hallway.
there were a lot of
other people waiting
out there for the same
interview. they must
all be eating the
danish, you think,
and get a little
panicky. sweat trickles
down your forehead,
gets into your eyes.
which makes you rub
them. are you okay,
the interviewer says.
what's wrong, you seem
to be crying. you keep
your head back, your
eyes closed. my
grandmother passed away
on this very day seven
years ago, you tell
him. she always
wanted me to work for
this company. you're
a very sensitive man
aren't you? he says.
okay, okay. i think we
are done here. we will
let you know, but
i want to tell you,
that it looks promising.
you shake his hand,
then head for the
danish, then the rest
room.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

first day at school

dizzy, you want
to sit down,
but no, the room
keeps spinning.
you can't even
yell out that
you want to get off.
you have no
voice, no whisper,
no sound.
the stars above
are moving too,
the wind fills
your ears like
cotton, the
voices you hear
are muffled. your
vision blurred.
you feel helpless
caught in a ride
against your
will, one that
you can't off.
and this is just
the start. day
one. first grade.

natural selection

we never go anywhere,
or do anything
fun, she says.
you tap your hand on
the steering wheel
and roll your eyes,
glancing at the gas
gauge. hand me
that bag of pretzels
would you,
you tell her. my
friend jeannie
is in africa
on a safari with
her new boyfriend frank,
she says, handing me
the bag. frank? you say,
i like that name.
well good for her
and frank, i hope
the lions don't
eat them and that they
don't catch malaria.
i'd love to go to africa
one day. can we?
sure, but first
we have to go
to your mother's
house, remember?
it's her birthday
and you made her
a tuna casserole.
and by the way,
didn't we just play
miniature golf last
weekend? i'm talking
later, maybe this summer
we can take a trip.
go to kenya on a safari.
a photo safari, not
one where we kill
the animals and put
their heads on
our walls. you nod
and take a bite
of a pretzel.
jeannie has already
posted some photos
on facebook. this
morning she took a
picture of a zebra
with a monkey on it's
back. oh really, nice.
what's up with the
zebra anyway? are
they horses, donkeys?
and why the stripes?
those stripes make them
stand out even more
for hungry lions if
you ask me. everything
about them says,
come here lion,
bite me. charles
darwin call your office.
natural selection, umm,
not so much? we should
really really go,
she says, save up and take
a trip like that. okay?
hmmm, maybe, what
about the zoo? don't
they have zebras?
it's closer too.
still malaria free
from what i hear.

the right thing

you'd like
an apple.
but you have
none, other
than the one
eve picked
and holds
in her slender
pale hand.
you've been
down this before.
temptation,
the offering,
the indecision.
at some point,
perhaps, but
not right now,
you'll do
the right thing
and say no.

the far side of the moon

draw me a picture
the doctor says,
show me where you
are in relation
to your parents,
your siblings, your
close loved ones.
and so you draw
the moon, and
then you draw
the earth with
all of them upon
it. primitive
stick figures, some
with smiles, others
with frowns.
and where are you,
she asks, i don't
see you in this
picture. i am on
the far side
of the moon, you
tell her. where
it's safe.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

carrots are carrots

i am better
at vegetables
than i am with
flowers, she says,
her hands
brown and soiled
with turned
earth. her knees
are soft and
wet from kneeling,
her nose,
a bright red
from the sun
and april cold.
flowers are too
fragile, they
seem to need more
than i can give,
she says,
whereas carrots,
are carrots, not
unlike you.

cold feet

cold feet on
a cold floor
in the middle
of a cold winter.
please pull
the window
down. close
the door.
bring the dog
onto the bed.
come close, no,
not for that,
but for the heat
that you provide.
we can make it
to spring,
together, this
love, unlike
others, just
may survive.

sorrow

stop raking
your sorrows
up like leaves.
let the wind
take them.
let the snow
cover them, let
the rain break
down their
skin and veins
and sweep
them towards
the stream
where it all
goes in time.
stay away from
the window,
and let things
be.

the accident

the nurse comes
into the room
and leans over
and whispers
into your ear.
is there anything
that you need,
that i can give
you to make things
more comfortable,
and you manage
a smile from
behind the oxygen
mask which makes
her smile too.
she winks and turns
away, putting
a little
more swing into
her hips as she
leaves the room,
having marked
your chart,
still alive.

kansas

she met a farmer
in kansas.
he was rich
and handsome.
and when he stood
in the field
with his hat
off, blocking
the sun with
his hand, she
loved him even
more. and
the blueness
of the sky
added in,
the silk of corn,
the infinite
fields, blankets
of wheat.
as warm as bread.
she didn't
see the worm.
the blackbird
on the wire.
or hear the
murmur of wind,
in spin
approaching.

saccharin and spam

i cannot read
your fiction anymore.
your poetry doesn't
please me either.
and television
and movies, slights
of hand, slender
on thought and heart.
there is no room
for me anymore.
not in this new world
of meals that don't
nourish, a bland
mixture of saccharin
and spam. of bees
buzzing without nests,
without honey. a
relic is what i relish
the black and white
films, books made
out of paper, but
the hourglass has
no sand.

silence

you spend the day
nodding.
the coffee shop.
they nod, you nod
in return. yes.
the same.
and so it goes.
in traffic,
please go,
why thank you,
you nod wordlessly.
and the grocery
store, you
nod at the machine
as it lets you
pay without a
person being
involved.
the mailman
gets a nod too
as he drops
your bills into
the slot. sometimes
you smile,
you wink. you say
a word or two,
but the nod works
for the most part.
a seamless
day of silence.

snow prayers

the closest
these children
come to prayer
is when
the sky darkens
and the wind
lifts
the sun away.
and clouds lower
less white,
more grey
and that first
flake falls,
like a slow feather
from an angel's
wing. and they
gather at the window
with elbows
on the sill,
hearts trumpeting
their prayers
with wide eyes,
come more, come
snow. let's go.

strange birds

every bird
a stranger onto
itself.
yes. the color
and stripe
may be the same
or close,
the beak, pointed
just so.
the nest may
fill with those
that resemble
this one
or that. but
truth be told
strangers they
are. forevermore,
how hard it is
to not be like
that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

red winged black bird

under the red
winged black bird
as he swallows
whole a worm
and glides down
with menace
towards your
shadow, the brown
locks of your
rabbit hair. he
finds you too large
to take with
him, but creases
the air an
inch above your
scalp, before
turning on
wings built
on the centuries
of blood
before him
away

the blue river

the longer trail
the stone
path where no one
travels
covered with storm
branches,
and broken trees
in half.
it's a harder
way to go.
but the beauty
of it is in
the struggle,
the sweat and
the gleam of a
blue river that
floats effortlessly
below.

alone

she sinks
under a cloud
of sleep
her hand
knowingly
alone. her
empty bed
is blue
with unruffled
sheets
and pillows
cold, unturned,
untouched
by head
or heart,
or hand.
it won't
always be
this way she
thinks, but
tomorrow tells
her that it will.

put it in the hat

when i took up
banjo playing
people laughed,
and when i added
a harmonica and
eventually a drum
set, they took
notice. and when
i set up on
the street and put
a hat out,
they put money in.
but the money
was more for me
to move on, to
stop, because i
had no music ability
whatsover.
writing poetry
is a lot like
that too, minus
the money coming in.

broken glass

what does that
word mean, you
say to yourself
scratching your
head. it seems
quite poetic
and i'm sure
pertinent to the
poem's theme
and fits the poet's
intent in
bringing it all
together. but
why use that word,
a word that only
six people may
know without a
dictionary? it's
hard enough as it
is, digesting
a poem, why throw
broken glass,
even if it's stained
glass from a great
cathedral,
into the mix.

Monday, February 6, 2012

the five stages of happiness

you feel good.
you feel better
than good.
you are happy.
but then
something happens.
and you don't
feel so good.
then you feel
worse. then
you aren't happy
anymore.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

finding a niche

when you
were in the circus
trying to find
the job that fit
your skills,
you struggled
for awhile
looking for
your niche. scared
of heights the
trapezee was no
place for you.
and the lion's
roar made you fear
for your arms
and head.
you tried the human
canonball, but
it gave you
headaches, the boom,
the landing,
the awkward spills.
the snakes were,
well, snakes.
you weren't strong
enough to be
the strongman, or
perceptive enough
to be a fortune
teller. only
the elephants seemed
to hold your
interest, their
dark eyes, awake
with innoncence
and kindness. they
spoke to you with
their long trunks,
their muffled roars,
their tails snapping
against
their battleship
bodies, you had a
way of finding what
itch they had.
you took a long
rake, standing on
a stool and you would
scratched their wide
curved backs, and
that would bring a
tear to their eyes
and yours.

jelly on your chin

i was having eggs
with my friend wilma
the other morning
after church. she
sings in the choir
and rings the bells.
sometimes she
organizes the pot
luck dinners and
the scavenger hunts
for the kids and
meet up events
for singles.
i met her while
painting the outside
of the church last
summer, and she
brought me out some
cookies she had baked.
we're going white
water rafting the
third saturday in march
she tells me.
you should come,
there will be lots
of cute singles
there. no, you tell
her and bite down on
some bacon. okay,
she says,
well we're having
a movie festival
in april, we are all
gathering at pastor
bob's house on
the lake and watching
old classic movies.
no, you tell her
shaking your head
and sipping on coffee.
well, why not. don't
you want to find
someone and be
happy. you are so
exasperating sometimes.
but i am happy,
i tell her and i'm
not good in groups, plus
i don't like that
pastor bob, i feel
so guilty around him.
lean forward, you've
got some jelly
on your chin.

jimmy joe in alaska

a distant cousin
calls you from alaska,
jimmy joe,
he may not even
be a cousin, but
he has the same
last name as your
mother's maiden name.
he needs to borrow
some money to get
his dog sled business
up and running,
so to speak. he's
a little short on
cash due to the economy
and the weather.
five thousand would
get him out of
the poor house, out
of the cold, off
the dole and back
into the wild. you
scratch your head,
and pause. have
we ever met, you ask
him. he laughs, yes,
of course, he says,
i was at your
wedding. i gave
you a black and decker
toaster oven. so
you're that jimmy
joe. hmmm. well, you
know what, the
marriage has been
over for some time
and that toaster oven
has been long gone
too. so i'm sorry,
but i can't help
you. no problem, he
says. i can hear
dogs, or wolves,
howling in the back
ground. can you
give me your brother's
number? sure i tell
him, hang on.

flowers

the single
flower
in a vase
on the sill
with withering
petals
is hardly alive
anymore,
thristy for
sunlight and
water, you've
neglected her
you've been
wandering distant
fields
full of wild
flowers.
taking in
the fragrance
and life
of what's new.

a kingdom

your own
room
your own
bed
a pillow
with which
to rest
your head,
this alone,
sometimes
is enough
to call
a kingdom.

politics

you don't understand
how it all works,
she says, the money
is gone and spent
before it's printed.
there is no budget,
there is no one
accountable for
the dollars made,
or taxed or earmarked.
if they want to go
the moon, they go.
if they want a war
they fight a war,
if they want disease
and poverty to continue
they choose that too.
your vote means
little, your voice
is just a whisper,
you have no hands,
no tongue, no feet
with which to change
what's been in motion
since day one. i
don't want to believe
that, but i do.

three a.m.

you come home late.
it's three a.m.
the dog is in
the window, still
up, but groggy
awaiting your
return. you let
him out into
the court yard
where no one's
around, and he
barks and barks
at the darkness,
at the moon,
at the still
sound of night
having won over
the light. then
he comes in,
happy, and you
understand.

the left turn blinker

daydreaming, with
the radio up,
your tail light
has been blinking
left for a hundred
miles. and you've
ignored the looks
of cars slowing
down to gaze
into your windows.
shaking their heads,
they seem angry.
upset and frustrated
by your blinker.
there was a time
when this would
have bothered you,
but not anymore,
not for yourself
or others. at some
point you will
turn left and
make someone
happy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

how it should end

we need to talk,
she says to me,
pouring corn flakes
into her bowl.
i lower the paper
just enough to
allow my eyes
to see her. what?
i say, what now?
i met someone,
she says. i met
a man at work who
says that he loves
me. i'm thinking
of moving in with
him. what's your
time frame, we have
that picnic to go
to on saturday,
can you wait after
that? everyone loves
your deviled eggs
and would be
disappointed if you
didn't bring them.
no time frame, i'm
actually thinking
that he could come
to the picnic too.
you could meet him.
i think you'd really
like him. sure, okay.
i'll help you
start packing after
breakfast. great,
she says, you have
really been a swell
husband, sorry
it hasn't worked
out. pffft, i say.
it's been fun. you've
been great too.

browsing online

i found my dog
on the computer
the other day,
he was up in
the chair, paws
on the keyboard,
a meaty bone
and a bowl of
water beside him.
he was browsing
poodles in sweden.
i shook my head
at him and he
shrugged as he
sent off an e mail
to a daschund
named greta in
stockholm. what,
he said to me,
you're at work
all day, what am
i supposed to do?
how many hours
can i stare out
the window and
bark at the mailman?

Friday, February 3, 2012

but what if...

what if we get
married and it doesn't
work out you tell
her while flipping
through wedding
cake books.
what if we hate each
other in a year.
i leave up the seat,
you become a
vegetarian and won't
cook meat. what if
this undying love
we have turns into
something else,
something that resembles
disgust. sleeping
in our own rooms,
watching our own
shows, going out with
our own friends. what
then, you ask her
pointing at a three
tiered chocolate
cake. no way, she
says, vanilla.
but what if...
shut up she says,
it's too late,
the invitations are
in the mail.

let's go there

they want
for some reason
to go to the moon.
again, the other
six or seven times
weren't quite enough.
but let's start over
there. the roads
are not unlike
the ones we have here,
so it makes sense.
the potholes,
the sand and dust.
they are just missing
twenty miles of
orange and white
striped barrels and
a blinking yellow
arrow. let's go where
there is no air,
no water, no
place to buy a
cup of coffee
and a bagel. it
all makes sense.
this is why we vote
them in. they are so
wise and diligent
about out money.

pie eating contest

bored you enter
a pie eating contest
at the county fair.
blueberry is your
favorite. they put
seven pies before
you. looking down
the table you see
your competition.
ten men and three
women who look like
they've swallowed
watermelons, except
for the little
japanese girl who
weighs maybe ninety
pounds. you scratch
your head at that.
you look down at
your own stomach,
a little pouch bends
your white t-shirt.
maybe you shouldn't
have stopped off at
cracker barrel for
three eggs and waffles
before the contest.
the gun goes off
and you take a small
bite of your pie
with your fork. it's
not that good. you
raise your hand
but no one can see
you because there
is pie flying all over
the place. cherry,
pumpkin, apple,
mincemeat. but you
don't like yours and
you don't think you
can even make it
through one slice.
you wish you had a
scoop of vanilla
icecream to put on
top, but no one
seems to care. you
realize suddenly
that you may lose
this contest.

heartbreak

i find you
slumped over
a box of glazed
donuts.
a smudge of
milk on your
upper lip.
the single eye
of a cup
of cold coffee
is near your
sticky hand.
you'll feel
better one day,
i tell you,
hand on your
shoulder, there
will be other
loves, other
women that will
find a place in
your life. but
not if you keep
eating all
these donuts.

the blue suit

your memory
of her is
a blue suit
that hangs
stiff in your
closet.
the closet in
the other room
where you've
put a shelf
of books
you'll never
read again.
and those shoes
that you'll
no longer
wear. the room
stays cool
all year round,
the trees
following
the seasons keep
sunlight at
a distance.

the starless nights

you are being followed
as you walk home.
you put your hands
deep into your pockets.
your fingers are cold.
a bloom of warm air
paces you as you breathe
and stride under
a starless night.
you are being followed.
but you don't care. it
doesn't matter. you
are used to welcoming
strangers into your life
like this. this is what
you do now. some take
your hand when they
arrive and others keep
going. they make no
sound as they pass.
no greeting or farewell.
and in this way
your world keeps moving.
keeps you walking
under the starless nights.

amnesia

dizzy from
the fall, you
stumble around
the streets,
shaking your head.
your memory
which once served
you well is
now flickering
in and out
like a loose
bulb in an
empty attic.
you have rid
yourself of all
that's worried
you, and this
is a good thing.
you can start
fresh now, at
least until
they catch on.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

it's easy

it's easy to curse
the day sometimes,
but lightly so,
to argue with oneself
over life's choices,
those roads taken
and untaken. how
the traffic backs up
for miles and miles
each night keeping
you from home, from
dinner, from what
else you are unsure
of. and the cloud
of what ifs hovers
over when you want
to see a moon, with
a sky full of white
stars. having
everything is not
what you want,or
ever wanted and that
wish has been
granted.

lobsters

you buy two
whole maine lobsters
from slavin's fish
house up on glebe
road. it's just you,
but you are very
hungry and you
haven't had lobster
for a long time.
wrapped in wet
newspaper,
they have struggled
in the ice chest
to get out, to get
back from where
they came, into
the deep cold
atlantic. they are
a thousand miles
from home, at least.
and you wonder
if they are missed.
if their places
have been taken on
the sea bottom to
do whatever it is
that they do all day
and night. you open
the lid and see
a claw waving at
you. but you have
to be strong. you
have to ignore their
watery whispers.
you put a large pot
of water on the stove
and turn it on,
you get out
the butter. you put
on your bib.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the book review

THE GIRL WITH THE RUNNY TATTOO

this is a cautionary tale
of struggle and triumph,
of affection
and infection,
as a young woman
attempts to deal
with an unfortunate
tattoo stamped
with cheap indigo ink
upon her lower back.
read with terror
as she consumes seven
beers, three shots
of red bull
and is being double dog
dared by her also
inhebriated friends,
shake your head
and bite your lower
lip in dismay
at what happens
on that fateful night
as they ride around
in their parent's minivan.
follow her as she tries
to apply for jobs while
holding up her skinny
low riser jeans with one
hand and filling out
application forms with
the other. you'll
weep at her attempts to
remove the tattoo which
resembles a lobster
or a scorpion, no one
is quite sure which.
wince at her failings
as she uses bleach,
hot wax and a potato
peeler to try
and make her skin
clean from the stain
of her mistake. but
yes, the sun eventually
does come out.
after much pain and soul
searching and scabbing
she goes to a doctor
who resides in the same
strip mall as
the tattoo parlor.
he is a young handsome
man named erik with
a cleft chin and his
laser skills are only
surpassed by his quickly
developing love for
the girl with the runny
tattoo. it's a must
read for all romantic
hearts out there, whether
they are tattoed or not.
have a box of kleenex
on hand and save
the bag it came in.
you may need it.
this incindiary page
turning tale is quite
graphic. reader
be forewarned.
it's soon to be
in paper back
and a major motion
picture in 3 D.
look for the sequel
too, THE GIRL WITH
STICKPINS IN HER EYE
BROWS AND OTHER
HORRIFYING PLACES.
Oprah's best friend,
betty, says, "This book
will change my life,
if only I could find
the time to read it."