Saturday, March 31, 2012

untitled

without seeing
her lying
in bed
i can feel the
harbor wind
across her
white skin,
the pink side
of dawn
as she rolls
onto the whitened
sheets
wet with tears.
i can smell
the brewing
of her mind as
she proclaims
loss and doom,
love failed,
her fingers,
gnarled branches,
entwined.

george

they say
when he died
the youngest
of the four
the quiet one
that his body
upon separating
from his spirit
caused an
illumination.
going further
from the path
he was on
into the unknown
other side.
leaving for good
this material
world.

the day

there is no
winning
no losing.
there is the day
to day
shuffling
of papers.
the morning
cup of coffee.
a bagged lunch.
a peach, perhaps.
the ride in,
the ride home.
there is the cat
on the sill.
waiting, as
always for food,
for milk.
there is dinner
to be cooked. a t.v.
turned on
in the corner
and the sun
bending in a slow
arc behind the high
rise, almost
down, there are
tomorrows clothes
laid out and sleep
is upon you
once more like
a warm soft cloud.

the spider

when you fall
down the steps
and lie there for
a few moments.
waiting for pain,
or no pain
to come around,
the laundry
you were carrying
all over you,
you stare up at
the ceiling
and see a spider
looking down.
he swings closer
to get a better
look, dangling
on the thin
clear thread that
he weaves. no
words are said,
for what words
could he say, if
he could say
them. you seem
to understand one
another in this
silent moment.

polka dots

it's not a pattern
you see too much
of, but she can
get away with it.
the large hat,
the blue polka
dotted dress,
the matching hand
bag, and heels.
she carries polka
dots quite well.
as for me. give me
black. give me
white. give me
grey or dark blue.
i don't need to
stand out in a
crowd. it's the same
for a wedding or
a funeral. or lunch.
she can be the canvas
and i can be
the easel.

the new car

your neighbor
buys a new car
and washes
it every day.
sometimes
he goes out
and sits in
it, looking around
at the knobs
and playing
with the wheel.
i can see him
inhaling, and
exhaling that
new car smell.
i hear his wife
standing
on the step
yelling at him
to come in,
it's time for
dinner, but he
doesn't
move. he's
somewhere
down the highway
in his new
car and thinking
about even
newer things.

getting in line

you enter the store
to get in line.
and there is one
man standing about
twenty feet away from
the one register, so
you ask him, excuse
me, but are you in
line, he looks at
you, insulted and says
yes with a sniff.
he folds his arms
across his chest and
plants himself harder
into the linoleum floor.
well, what's with
the twenty feet
gap between you and
the counter, you
want to say. but
you don't want to die
over something
like this, and so
you get behind him.
and say nothing.

so many words

you only have
so many words to use
in one day.
and some days
you finish early
and so resort to
silence, or knowing
nods, or small
smiles that tell
all, or maybe
nothing. she
understands
completely,
although she's
never run out of
words herself.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

she sells pants

she sells pants
all day
and into the night.
black and tan,
short and wide,
slim and tight.
she folds them
into stacks onto
shelves. sorted
by sizes, by styles.
by design.
the seasons change
outside the window
as another year
spins by
and she feels
the heat or cold
when the door opens,
the bell rings,
she sighs.
she sells
pants all day.
some short, some
wide.

the ninth decade

they are old.
older than you
by decades.
her hair is black
as a baby seal's
and he is wearing glasses
thick like bottles
they waddle like pink
bowling pins
about to fall
laughing in unison
at something
they just said,
or ate, or struggle
to remember.
she rubs his head
like a favorite
doll. he blushes
and shakes his jowl,
putting up a finger
to correct a point
he almost made.
they want you to stay
forever, or at least
through lunch.
they have things to
do, places yet to be,
on cruise control
and happy in their
ninth decade.

the prayer

you bend
your knees and
say a prayer
you learned
when you were
ten.
you say it
before you sleep
and when
you awaken.
has it made
you a better
person or
your life
easier. who knows.
but why stop
now. it could
be worse.

the swing

the playground
is full
of birds
where the swing
once swung above
the sand and grass.
the shadows of
the trees are
longer now
where i pushed
him into the air.
the old fences are
older still, some
down. i can
hear him say,
higher, go higher
dad, and his laugh
flying in the
autumn air.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

in God's hands

in an attempt to
develop a green thumb
you cut it
on a thorn in your
yard. who knew
you had a rose bush.
you suck the blood out
of it and shake it.
then a bee, out
of nowhere, with no
provocation whatsoever
stings you on the face,
then another and
another. why are
these bees so angry?
you see your reflection
in the brand new
steel shovel
that you bought to
dig with. you look
like a monster, or
charles bukowski, but
you plow ahead. you turn
the hose on to water
the tomatoes that you
just planted, but
it leaks and sprays
wildly at the faucet
soaking your new
planting khaki pants
just purchased
from L.L. Bean.
you reach down
to pick up a long
stick that some kids
must have thrown
into your yard. it's
not a stick though,
but a brown snake,
who rears his head back
and sticks out his split
pointed tongue. his fangs
are dripping with green
venom. you throw him
like a rope over the
fence where you hear
a dog suddenly yelp.
cautiously you walk
backwards
into the house.
stepping on a rake
which smacks you in
the back of the head.
it's over. you tried.
the yard is in god's
hands from here on out.

carnival job

you decide one day
to join a travelling
carnival. you have
no carnival skills
to speak of, but you
have some psychic
abilities that are
largely untapped.
often you have tried
to guess the ages
and weights of complete
strangers at the
airport. dress
sizes and pant sizes
are harder because of
the discrepancies between
manufacturers, but
you can come close to
the ages and weights
within five to ten years
and ten to twenty
pounds. so the carnival
boss, jimmy, gives you
a booth and says that
he'll split the income
fifty fifty. you tell
him that you knew he'd
say that, which makes
him laugh. the first day
a woman punches you
in the face for thinking
that she was much
older than she was.
and despite the fact
that you are dead on
with the weight guess,
jimmy feels like he
has to let you go. his
quaker sensibilities
don't jive with violence.

under the weather

i'm feeling under
the weather, she
says, while fanning
herself with a
magazine. what does
that mean, you ask her.
aren't we all under
the weather, how can
we not be. you are
a fool sometimes,
she says. it's just
an expression. well,
it's a dumb one.
maybe we are under
sunny skies, under
a full moon with a
warm breeze in the air.
maybe the expression
should be my head
is full of rain and
a cold wind, thunder
and lighting. she
gets up and throws
the magazine down.
where are you going
you ask her. out,
i feel better she
says, when i'm not
under the same roof
as you.

the note

under the umbrella
at days end
while it rains
waiting for
the bus to take
you to a train.
you take out
the note once
more that you found
on the table
before you left
for work
that morning.
it reads
eggs, bread, milk,
and wine.
i love you.
and this keeps you
going, this note.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

plant in the window

you bend
towards light.
you are a green
plant on
the sill.
kisses water
you. the touch
of a hand
gives you hope.
a kind word
or two means
everything.

the carpet stain

the stain
on the carpet
won't come
out. it's been
there since
the last tenant
lived here
twelve years ago.
coffee, wine,
who knows.
maybe blood.
it's part of the
room now, as
are the lines
on your face
a part of you.
no need to know
how they got
there, they are
just there, like
the stain
on the carpet
that won't come
out.

space travel

you join
the astronaut
program.
you have the hair
for it.
you flew a kite
once and enjoy
staring up at
the stars.
but you are
afraid of flying.
of heights.
of not having
air with which
to fill your lungs.
burning up in
a ball of flame
worries you too,
but, you have
nothing else
going on at the
moment and give
it a shot. it's
just pushing buttons
at this point
anyway. chimps
could do it.
you feel you
are at least
least equal to
a chimp despite
what your ex-wife
may say. you mark
venus on your
application as
a possible destination.
you buy some gum
to chew so that
your ears don't pop.

spilled milk

things spill
and get
wet. take milk
for instance.
a glass turned
over at the table
streaming
in white rivulets
towards your
legs, against
the sleeve
of your arm.
there are things
we can prevent
and others
that just
happen, finding
out which is
which is difficult.

the play

you go to your
son's play
at the elementary
school. Ginsberg's
School for the Arts.
he's got a starring
role as a pumpkin.
a talking pumpkin
mind you in a patch
full of other
talking pumpkins.
it's a long
night and at
the intermission
when the band
strikes up there
is wild clapping
and cheering,
parents yelling out
the names of their
children, go zach,
go buffy, go tyronee.
you rock abdul mohammed.
you go to the bathroom
and negotiate
with the miniature
stalls,
you get a drink
of water at the tiny
fountain. a small
arc of water
softly falls onto
your dry lips.
you buy some cookies
at the bake sale.
two bags for three
dollars, four bags
for five, but you
can't bring them
back into the auditorium.
so you eat some
and throw the rest
away in a metal
trashcan. a woman frowns
at you and shakes
her head. you have
no idea who she is,
but you immediately
don't like her. she
points at your zipper
which is down. you smile,
and shrug,
but she shakes her
head some more.
you see the lights
dimming in the auditorium.
it's time for
the second half.
your son is a wonderful
pumpkin, but you
feel like you need
a drink.

fat clothes

you turn
the heat off
because it's
ninety degrees
out in the middle
of march.
you find your
shorts and t-shirt.
you take a long
walk and do
some situps.
the next day
it's thirty degrees
with frost
on the flowers,
so you turn
the heat back on.
you close the
windows again
and throw another
blanket onto
the bed. you buy
an apple pie,
and put on
your fat clothes.

smoking a pipe

i started smoking
a pipe the other day
thinking that i needed
to raise the ante
on sophistication.
making a point
with a pipe, holding
it in your hand
and waving it about
seems to make
the point more viable
and interesting
as opposed to motioning
with a chicken drumstick
or a lollipop.
but there were
complications.
it's hard to smoke
a pipe and wear shorts
and a t-shirt,
tennis shoes.
it just doesn't
seem right. so i
needed a whole new
wardrobe of long pants
and smoking jackets
with a crest
on the front.
then there was
the equipment, the pipe
cleaners, the stems
and what not.
there's a lot
of tapping, and poking
at the pipe, getting
the bowl clean.
it's work being
sophisticated. lighting
and relighting,
spitting out the little
bits of tobacco stuck
your tongue. this may
last a day or two, if
i can get past
the choking and sneezing,
the watery eyes.

the line

there is a line
leading outside
a wide dark door,
down the sidewalk
and around
the corner. you
can't help
yourself, but
get in. you tap
a man on
his shoulder
in front of you
and ask how long
is the wait, has
the line been
moving, and he says,
it's slow today,
but we will all
get a turn,
be patient. so
you set down
your briefcase
and open your
newspaper.
you begin to read
and shuffle forward
as another
person disappears
into the dark
wide door.

Monday, March 26, 2012

rainy days

you hear
the rain filling
the tin
cans, the jars
and bottles
left standing
upright
in the yard,
the rush of
water down
the drain.
weather jazz
with no rhyme
or real reason,
or tune to tap
one's foot.
and you know
that life is
more and more
like that, than
the sunny day,
or symphony.

waiting

when you were
younger you waited
as if at a
train station
for life to start,
for something
to begin. and
now when you are
older you wonder
about the other
trains you could
have boarded,
the destinations
unseen.

the loose shutter

you stand
firm on the wet
grass staring
up at the torn
blue shutter
fluttering in
the march wind
like a stuck kite.
can you fix that,
she says, pointing
upwards
as if you can't see
or hear the problem.
but you don't answer,
your mind is on
other things
that you can't fix.

one glove

one glove
is yours
the other mine.
one shoe
belongs
to you,
and my foot
fits
the other.
you stopped
reading
the book
in the middle
and me
near the end.
it's hard
to unravel
love and go
our separate
ways, and
stay just
friends.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

all day

the fog, a grey cat
on the inlet stretched
and yawning
where wintered boats
rest with sails
unwrapped.
the easy sing song
of metal clanging,
the slap of water
against hulls.
you cannot wake
this day, nor us,
the morning
is the same as noon,
as dusk. curled and
asleep into night.

on the moon

when you were
on the moon,
standing on soft
floured sand
of endless time
you could see
how far you were
away from home,
from those you
loved, and loved
you in return.
the moon is no
place to be alone
and neither
is here.

muddy shoes

your shoes
in mud across
the wide wood
floor and once
white rug, should
have been left
outside the door,
but other things
more important
were on your mind,
things that soap
and water could
not clean or
make whole, make
once again divine.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

a glass of water

you watch
the black and white
movie late
at night.
it's raining
and cold.
the windows
are all open
and you can
hear the wind
pushing
trees from
side to side.
but the movie
is about a man
lost, stranded
in a white
desert with
an ominous
blue sky above
each rolling
dune.
you feel his
thirst, his
dreaming of a
glass of water,
him seeing
the mirage of
trees swaying
and the fresh
blue pool before
him. you watch
him crawl,
rolling on the soft
baked hills
that give way
like flour
under his legs.
you taste
the sun on his
scorched face,
the blood on
his lips parched
and split.
you turn the movie
off though before
you know the out
come. you go
to bed carrying
a cold glass
of water with
you and thinking
that it's just a
movie. just a movie.

no sugar for me

i dont eat red
meat she says,
faintly while
chewing a dry
unsalted almond
in the morning
light. no pasta
or eggs for
me either, she
sighs and wipes
her brow with
a slender vein
etched hand. my
diet is strictly
organic and pure.
i feel wonderful
she says, i've
never felt better.
at that point she
slips out of her
chair and falls
to floor
passing out.
i put a cold
compress on her
forehead and
when she comes to,
i hear her whisper
no sugar for me
either.

your luck

changes
with the penny
found
glimmering
along the curb.
the whole
day
is full
of parking
spots right
where you
need to stop.
the rain
ends
as you take
your walk.
the subway
is on time.
every line
you get in
is the short
quick one.
you play
the lottery
and win
ten dollars.
perhaps it's
time you gave
her that call.

Friday, March 23, 2012

titantic

at first
glance
the black ship
red rimmed
and white,
forever afloat,
upright and still,
it's stacks
smoking long
into the starlit
night, and the
crew rushing
from deck to slipping
deck, it's new
angle strange
and telling.
the well
heeled men,
burdened with
tomorrows,
and women weighted
with life's
jewels, saw no
justice in
dying as they would,
cold, then colder
still, their
lungs embracing
eternity.

freshly fallen

words
are water
to your soul,
you bathe in
the warm rain
of letters,
falling down
into puddles
of poems.
the sleet
of punctuation,
the snow
of thoughts
freshly fallen,
then found.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

lost love

when her father
died, she said little
and hardly
cried, or felt
the wave of sadness
that grief brings.
it was more about
what now, what do
we do with him,
with his things.
having never gotten
love, now none
was coming back, at
least nothing
that could be seen.

inventory

your right ear
is weak and you
find yourself leaning
towards a voice
to listen, but your eyes
are good, strangely
better than they
were last year.
reading a menu is
no problem.
your knees hurt,
but not so bad that
you can't get done
what needs to be
done. the shoulder
is tight, but giving
what you do with
your life, it's fine.
and the random trips
at night to the bathroom
keep you up, as does
the snoring. but
besides that, she isn't
complaining, too much.

the wind

you've lost track
of days, of hours.
you can't find
the time for all
you have to do.
you are a hamster
in a cage. a mouse
in a maze. you see
no way out. tomorrow
comes too soon
and the yesterdays
are ripped from
the calendar in
a harsh unrelenting
wind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

more stars

the pulse
you bear
a subtle tick
of your own
quick heart
beats towards
an end, not
soon, not
now, but when.
from start
to finish
more questions
than answers
fill the sky
like stars
uncovered by
darkness.

another season

teaching is not
unlike
the yard full
of plants
and flowers,
thorns and roses.
some leaning
towards the light
while others
wither and die
despite how hard
you try, how much
you water and nurture,
choked on the weeds
they surrounded
themselves with.
but many will
bloom, will go
on, will brighten
any given room
with color.

to read again

you moisten your thumb
and finger
to turn a stubbornly
dry page of a book
one you've read before.
the cover is wrinkled
from tub wash
and wet hands.
you fall in love
with books and feel
sad when the end
draws near, slowing
down the pace,
eeking out the story
before it slips
away again.

before you go

kiss me
before you
go. plant a
soft one
on my lips
and watch
my heart
bend and grow.
be the sun
the rain,
be the full
moon, be
all of that,
but especially
be yourself,
and kiss me
before you go.

men on harleys

is there anything
as needless or
necessary as middle
aged men with grey
pony tails revving
the engines
of their harleys
at stop lights
and through
the hollow tunnels
and overpasses
they ride upon.
their beards growl,
and their eyes
hidden behind dark
glasses, are focused
somewhere up
ahead. a place they
either can't
get to or have been
once and now left.
let them roar
and rumble, tomorrow
comes too soon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

cats and dogs

i think i was a cat
in another life, she
tells you sleepily
while she scratches
your back with long
fingernails. meow she
says in a sexy whisper.
a cat, you say, alright,
i can buy that. you
do like to stretch
and linger in the sun
and i've seen you drink
milk from a bowl
when the lucky charms
are gone. and what do
you think you were in
another life, she says,
drawing circles now
with one nail. i don't
know, you say, maybe a
hound dog. i love
to howl at a full moon
and chase you down
the alley.

the borrowed book

some thirty years ago
you borrowed a book
or was given one,
the details are fuzzy
at the moment, but
you never returned it.
how to become spiritual
and rich was the title.
two destinations
at an early age
that seemed
reasonable to reach.
but you were
lazy, or careless,
with it, never returning
it to the well
meaning owner. you
never even liked
the book, or finished
it, but there it sits
on the shelf next
to real books, books
you've read and loved
and will read again.
and whether you
suddenly become poor
or despondent
you are determined
to never read that
borrowed book.

writing in the sky

you see her
one day
on her broom
writing in
the sky your name
and the word
surrender
in black smoke
and you know
at that point
that it might
be time to get
a lawyer, or an
exorcist, but
instead you pull
out a lawn chair,
fix a drink
lie back
and see what
happens next.
your curiousty
wins out nearly
every time.

changes

you move
your bed to
the corner.
then push it back
to where it was.
you slide
the dresser
to another wall,
but that doesn't
work either.
you take
the curtains
down, but there
is too much
light coming
in. you buy a
gallon of red
paint called
oriental red.
you open the lid
and immediately
hammer it shut.
you put everything
back the way
it was, expect for
the dried white
roses on the dresser,
which you move
an inch to
the left. then
you leave the room
mumbling to yourself,
what was i thinking.

hammer and nail

when the hammer
strikes your
thumb and you
curse, and try
to shake it free
of pain as it
throbs red,
goes numb,
you see the danger
in taking
your eyes off
the moment, of
pressing
forward to the
next board, the
next nail, the
next day
you will build.

stop looking

you've looked
everywhere, but
can't find
them. on
the couch,
between
the cushions,
the table,
the counter,
pockets, coats
and pants,
under your hat,
in the bathroom.
under the bed.
they are no
where to be
found until
you stop looking
and close
the door. you
hear the jingle
like music,
glimmering
in the lock.

Monday, March 19, 2012

the poetry book

the door unlocked
lets someone
in with a bag
who wants money
and jewels, or
a laptop or phone.
but he sees a book
upon the shelf
that interests
him, and so he
sits, and fixes
tea and reads
an anthology of
poetry from
from frost to plath
to bukowski.
and he stares out
the window
with these words
fresh on his lips,
and suddenly
thinks differently
for a moment or
two, but then he
sets the book
down and fills up
the bag with
all that he can
carry. and before
he leaves he puts
the book back
exactly where he
found it.

the arrival

a driver
brings the car
around.
he gets out
and opens
the door. you
climb in back
and lie
down.
there are
flowers to
the left and right
of you.
you lie in a
silk bed as
the driver takes
you to a strange
quiet place
where all your
friends
have gathered.
they seem unhappy
and you want
to reassure them
that you are
no longer thirsty,
or hungry or
in need of anything.
your wounds of
childhood
have healed.
you understand
it all.
you have arrived
to where you were
always headed.

flight

you dream
about flight.
of lifting off
the ground
effortlessly.
arms and legs
swimming in air.
no fear.
the trees are
below you,
as you skirt
the silk soft
clouds. you dream
about flight.
that's how
you make it until
morning.

cold macaroni

i've had enough
so i'm going south
for the winter.
packing up
and leaving.
hopping on
a freight
train down
at the railway
yard.
taking my dog
with me.
we plan to stay
at a cheap motel
on the beach.
white sand.
cold drinks.
an umbrella.
not living large,
but living easy.
i'll be leaving
my phone behind,
my laptop
and desktop,
my heavy coat
and boots.
there's cold
macaroni and cheese
on the top shelf
of the fridge.
it's all yours.
help yourself.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

carnival

you see
the carnival rise
across the road,
it's the glow
of light,
the kaleidoscope
of color
and music. the clang
of wrench, and
iron being
stretched in wire
as a tent goes
up, the scrambler
is born anew.
and the ferris
wheel in slow
motion swings
it's empty
chairs, waiting
for those much
younger than you.
it makes you count
your summers
like sweet
blessings.

fallen trees

fallen trees
crossing
the creek,
grey arms
and legs upon
one another.
their day has
come and
gone, or so
it seems
and yet there
is enough
life in them
to sprout
buds, and as
the waters
take them away,
show glimpses
of what used to
be, full,
in green.

it's getting dark

i still have
a rotary phone,
black, on the kitchen
wall with a twenty
foot twisty cord.
the milkman brings
me milk. the mail
man brings me
life magazine.
i write checks
and put a stamp on
the envelope
to pay my bills.
i defrost my icebox
with a butter knife.
i wind up my timex
watch and put it up
to my hear to hear
it ticking.
i have a record
player and a transistor
radio, a black
and white zenith
tv with rabbit ears
that sits on
a dinner tray
in front of the coffee
table. i spoon
instant coffee
into hot water.
i remember jfk,
ike and elvis,
paul and john, frank
and sammy.
marilyn and raquel.
micky mantle
and johnny u.
i yell out the window
and tell the kids
to get off
my lawn after i pushed
the mower across it,
but then go out into
the street to throw
the ball around
with them. it's
getting dark, but
it's not dark yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

going for milk

while your mother
would steer the big
wheel of the car
she had no license
to drive, she'd
turn her head
just slightly
to the side and say,
stop with that
racket back there,
we are not on a
secret mission and
those clouds are not
castles, and indians
are not giving
chase. this is
not a tank with
turrets and a flame
thrower spewing
fire into the enemy,
just relax turn
it off and be quiet
for awhile,
we're just going
for milk.

the jog

you bend and stretch
drink your vitamin
water, take a bite
of your power bar,
adjust your wrist
bands, tighten
the laces on your two
hundred dollar shoes,
zip up your green
silk sweat suit.
you twist and turn
your head, jog
lightly in place,
attach more water
to your water belt,
take your pulse,
check your watch,
plug in your ear
phones for music,
then you begin,
your one mile jog
around the neighbor
hood, you go quickly
because it's almost
time for lunch.

33 and a half rpm

when you hear
the song, decades
later on the radio.
you feel yourself
almost getting up
to move the needle
off the vinyl
where it's scratched,
and skips. you lean,
and listen waiting
for the repetition
of words and chords,
the music stuck
until you decide
to move the needle
further into the song.

Friday, March 16, 2012

blue kite

a blue kite
with white
cloth tail
on a tethered
string
sails against
a shelf of clouds.
and the boy
below feels
the tug of wind,
of moon
and oceans he's
yet to see, but
knows, like love,
it's there.

clarity

the lines get
crossed. like
branches set
hard and fast
in pollack swirls
against the sky.
a tangle of
thoughts, of
charcoal lines,
and maybe leaves
are the words
yet to be said,
to say things
more clearly.
how winter pushes
us back, makes us
long for clarity
and green.

the simple story

sometimes
the story is
simple and easy.
boy meets girl.
they both fall
in love and
live happily
ever after. and
then there are
other stories.
boy meets girl,
but the girl
is married
and has three
kids. she
has the tattoo
of a dragon on her
back and wears
black lipstick.
then she gets hit
by a car running
across the street
because her husband,
a professional
wrestler who goes
by the name of dr.
death, finds out
about her cheating.
she survives but
she needs a hip
replacement.
the husband
makes a vow to god
to find you
and break
both your legs.
boy moves
out of state
with an unlisted
phone number and
glues a fake beard
to his face.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the easy question

she brings a lie
detector into
the kitchen and sets
it on the table.
what's that for,
you ask her, looking
up from your
bacon and eggs,
the newspaper
in your hands.
give me your arm,
she says, i need
to ask you a few
questions before
we get married.
who said we were
getting married?
no one, she says.
but in case you ever
ask me, i need to
know a little bit more
about you.
well, i think we're
jumping the gun here,
you tell her, but sure
go ahead, i've got
nothing to hide.
i'm an open book.
give me your arm,
she says, so you roll
up the sleeve on your
bathrobe and give
her your arm. why
are you shaking, she
says, attaching
the velcro band
and turning
on the machine.
sweat drips down your
face and you feel
a little seasick. i'm
not shaking, it's
the coffee, caffeine
makes me nervous.
pffft, she says, okay,
lets get started
with a simple
question. a yes or
no answer will do.
are you in love with me?
suddenly the needle
starts fluctuating
wildly across the roll
of paper. smoke rises
from the machine as
it vibrates violently
and crashes down.
i thought we were going
to start with the easy
questions, you tell
her slipping out of
the sleeve. oh well.
hey, are we out of
orange juice, i
couldn't find any
in the fridge?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

pbs

you want to
go to bed
but you can't
turn away from
the pbs
program on
tv. you linger
on the couch
with popcorn
in a bowl.
it's late, but
dr. dwyer is
telling you
things that you
don't quite
understand, but
seem important
or worthwhile,
and he's got
a handful of books
and tapes,
and dvd's to
straighten
out the mess your
life may be in.
you are determined
to hang in there
and go to bed with
one clear thought
or practical idea
that he can give
you. but it's
impossible.
despite his
sincerity and calm
demeanor, it's so much
mumbo jumbo that
you give up and quit.
you stand up
and stretch, letting
the popcorn that
missed your mouth
roll onto the floor.
you'll get that
later. you head
to bed, clicking
the tv off in
your sleepy wake.

rusted bicycles

no one home,
the window
frosted
with your own
breath peering
in. a worn
green couch
in the middle
of the room.
a cup on
the table where
you once had
tea. a shutter
swings from
a single hinge.
a rusted bicycle
in the yard.
how bliss
changes so
quickly into
this. empty
rooms that once
held three.

being a man

to prove your
manhood you buy
a horse and a hat.
you ride the range.
and practice
the art of lassoing.
you aren't sure
how to spell it or
even if it's a word,
but you move on.
you're a man now
and can't be
bothered with spell
check, or the webster
dictionary on your
desk. so you have
this horse that has
a tremendous appetite
for oats and carrots.
you'll decide later
where to keep him,
but for now you are
riding the range.
you sit up high, and
squint into the sunlight
out at the mountains
in the distance
which may or may not
be montgomery mall.
but it doesn't matter.
you are on a mission
to become a real man.
so you yell out
giddyup, and give your
horse a little wack
on his hind side
with your new white
hat, which makes him
buck, throwing you off.
it's not easy
being a man these days.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

what tomorrow brings

beware beware
of three witches
at the bidding
of Hectate
in the moors who
want to tell you
what tomorrow
brings. turn
the other way
and run. don't
pick up the sword
to gain the crown
and be king. beware
of what you think
must be already
written. it
isn't so. it's
better, despite
the whispering
of loved ones,
that you never know.

mouse trap

you walk past
an alleyway
when you hear a little
squeaky voice going
pssst, pssst, hey
buddy, can you help
a brother out? you
stop and look down
the narrow, brick
lined alley full of
trashcans and weeds.
it's wet and it stinks.
but there it is again,
psst, hey, hey, what
are you deaf, look
down. right here. you
look down, and it's
a fat little mouse
wearing a hipster hat
and sunglasses stuck
in a mouse trap.
could you lift up
that little metal
bar, it's holding
my tail. he has
cheese all over his
furry mouth and
lips. roquefort, he
says. american cheese,
sharp, cheddar and
i'm walking away, but
roquefort on a cracker
with a little pear
sauce, well they
got me. i was lucky it
didn't snap my head
off like my cousin
louie. you step in
closer and lean down.
come on, he says.
get me outta here.
how do i know you
won't bite me, have
rabies or something,
i tell him. maybe
you're spreading
the bubonic plague.
what are you a child,
he says. you're scared
of me. i'm a mouse for
god's sake. look at
my teeth. he bares his
teeth which are full
of crackers and cheese.
it takes me an hour
these days to chew
through a telephone
wire. and we got a bad
rap on that bubonic
plague thing. read your
history books. it was
those damn fleas catching
a ride on us that did
it. at this point he
has his two little pink
paws together, pleading
to be helped out so
you pull the bar off
his long grey tail,
freeing him.
thanks, he says,
tipping his hat back,
then suddenly he takes
a nip of your finger,
drawing blood. he scampers
away, laughing, looking
over his shoulder. hey
better go to a doctor
and have that checked
out. you might have
the bubonic plague.
you start chasing him,
kicking over trashcans
and throwing lids
but he zig zags
down the alley,
finally disappearing
between two bricks
in the wall where
you hear him high
fiving another mouse.

Monday, March 12, 2012

i can't read this

i pick up
the book
the one i've
tried to read
three times
and made it
to page ten,
never further,
the girl with
the runny
tattoo,
and i throw
the book
across
the room.
it hits
the window
cracking it
and goes flying
through
landing in
the creek
that runs beyond
the fence.
i watch it as
it sails away,
still open,
still stuck
on page ten.

good fences

you have one
neighbor
that you can't
stand. he
is poison
ivy to you.
and it's not
that he's evil,
he's just
nosy and
intrusive and
always, always
with the
questions. what'd
you buy,
where are you
going, who's
that who came
over. and
you try so hard
to stand there
and hold a
conversation
with him, but
then he says
something like,
have you gained
weight,
your cheeks
look fat, or
are you tired,
you look much
older lately.
what's wrong,
money problems?

the numbers

you see
the math
in everything.
the numbers
etched
like stars
across
your horizon.
you can
add the days
behind you,
the hours
that you slept,
the money
spent or
saved. you
can see
the mileage
that you've
driven,
the weight
of you upon
a scale.
you can count
the times
you've been
in love.
there are
numbers
for everything,
some being
smaller
than others.

what you don't forget

the white
curve of her
back lingers
on your finger
tips. the kiss
against kiss.
the shoulder
turned in light.
her black
hair, heavy
and wet against
the blue
sky, your
memory, selective
as it is,
won't forget
this.

black shutters

you spend
the day in black
paint.
shutters mostly,
lined up against
a brick wall,
a door removed
from it's hinges.
you stand
with arms moving
from side to
side in a trance.
mellow in
the methodical stroke
of your hands.
tomorrows come
and go. today
slips from your
fingers. these
shutters, black
and glistening
in many suns
that you won't see
will be around
for awhile.

love for sale

you can't buy
love, she says
as she stands in
the doorway
with the rain
pelting her
leopardskin hat.
but it helps, i
borrowed your
credit card
and will be back
in a couple
of hours, nordstrom's
having a sale.
i'll let you
know later about
me and you. if
it's not love,
perhaps affection
will be good
enough.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

doing the twist

i want a man
who knows how to
dance. swing,
the shag, someone
who can waltz
and two step.
i want a man
who can glide
across the floor
like a gazelle
with me in his arms.
someone who can
tango. can you do
that for me?
tell me what dances
you can do?
i got the twist
and the mashed
potatoes down,
you tell her.
that's all i got.
take it or leave it.

just oranges

you cut
a fat orange
in half.
then quarters.
that's enough
cutting. you
set two slices
on a plate
and slide them
across the table.
she looks at
you and shakes
her head. why
are your pieces
larger then mine,
she says.
you don't love
me like you
used to, do you?

her mirrors

she used to
have a mirror
in the hall
and i'd catch
her glancing,
pausing for a
moment to fix
her hair,
to pucker her
lips, put her
hands upon her
hips and stare.
turn and give
herself a long
last look.
that mirror
is gone. so
is the one
at the top of
the stairs,
the round one over
her bed though
is the one i
miss most of all.

Friday, March 9, 2012

angry knitting

i spent
the day on
the front porch
knitting
an afghan
for your bed
she said.
i was still
angry at you.
i rocked
all day,
and knitted
until my hands
turned pink,
the balls
of yarn
unspooling
beside
the black cat.
but by the second
bottle of wine
it wasn't
my finest
piece of work.

someone just like you

she reminds me
of you.
the way she
speaks, the way
she laughs.
the way she
makes love.
but she's not
you. and i'm
glad for that.

waiting

you wait for
your life to begin.
you stand
outside and let
each season
roll over you.
you have no
memory of
yesterday,
of the years
gone by
when you were
someone else.
the slate is clean.
you wait for
your life
to begin again.
this is the only
way you can go
on and find
tomorrow.

in her black boots

she whispers
sweetly
into your good
ear, nuzzles
her face
against yours,
then takes out
a cube of sugar,
a carrot,
from her
deep pockets.
she winks then
gently, by
the collar
leads you
to the barn.

spare parts

you are fond
of spare parts.
it's obvious.
the drawers are
full of them.
wheels and pins,
screws and hooks,
gaskets,
things that
have long lost
rhyme or reason
in your day to
day life, but at
one point
they made all
the difference.

the wooden spoon

you take out
a long handled
wooden spoon
and bring it
upstairs
to bed.
you take off
your clothes
after turning off
the lights
then lie there
in the dark
and find the spot
in the middle
of your back
that she used
reach. it's
not the same
of course, but
the results are.
the itch is gone.

kind to the unkind

you have no patience
for impatient people.
which makes you one of
them. but you try
not to think about
that, because it's
too confusing and
gives you a headache.
tomorrow you will
try to be kind to
the unkind, forgiving
to those who won't
forgive and silent
when others insist
on talking.

come to bed

come to bed
she says,
you're
tired.
look at you.
with eyes half
closed,
your limbs
like wet
laundry
on a line.
come to bed
and lie
beside me,
let's sleep,
today's
story has
been told.

what you know

she says
you have a mean
side in you,
i can see it
in your writing
at times,
but you don't
not really.
it's something
else. it's
a way of staying
safe, of
keeping love
at bay, of
protecting
your soul. and
how wrong you are
in doing that
is obvious.
you know.
you know.

needs

you want things.
you are not unlike
a child
stirring in a crib.
you've learned
to cry
to get them too.
what parent
won't bring a
bottle, or hold
a rattle in
the air. or lift
a child to
comfort him.
you've learned
fast what works
and it's hard
to change
your way.

with your foot

asleep and your arms
crossed
against your chest,
the lights still
on, the television
hums like a blue
bird before you.
your bed is
a floor above,
but this feels good,
not moving.
sometimes doing
nothing is an
answer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

willpower

you buy a bag
of candy
and open it on
the way home. it
sits in
the front seat
of your car.
just one, or two
you say
to yourself.
but you're
hungry and two
becomes three
and four. the
phone rings
and so you answer
cradling it
in your chin
and neck while
you reach for
more candy.
you lose count.
your hand
is deep into
the bag at this
point, and so
what's the difference.
you wipe the chocolate
from you mouth
with your sleeve
as you continue
to eat and talk
on the phone. you
realize as the bag
empties that you
have the pathetic
willpower
of a new born
baby, but then you
think, why not.
if i want to eat
the whole bag
why can't i.
you stop at
the next light,
finally off the phone,
and a woman
motions to the circle
of chocolate
around your
mouth. you look
into the mirror
then give her a
thank you wave.
tomorrow you'll
try to do better.

repent

in pieces
your car breaks
down.
the windows
won't
go back up.
and rain
like bee
stings pepper
your face.
the car wobbles
as you drive
down the turnpike.
then a light
goes. a tire
loses air.
the radio
picks up only
am stations
with religious
brodcasting.
you stop the car
and go out
to bend the
antenna, but
to no avail.
the word of god
is upon you.
you feel more
guilty than
you usually do.
you are reminded
of sins long
forgotten
while an amber
light flashes
on the dash.

the circuit breaker

when you turn
on the microwave
you can't use
the toaster
oven at the same
time because it
blows a circuit
and then you have
to go downstairs,
to the basement
and out to
the shed where
the breaker box
is and flip
the switch to get
the power back
on. sometimes
it doesn't bother
you, and other
times you curse
like a drunken
sailor on liberty.

what are you wearing

your friend
lorraine
at one in
the morning
under the soft
red haze
of pinot noir
texts you
and says
so what are
you wearing.
you can smell
the booze on
her lips
from here
thirty miles
away.
so you respond
back and say,
plaid, i'm
wearing all
of my plaid
clothes at
the moment,
including my
underwear. i
even have a plaid
hat on. hound's
tooth i
believe it's
called. and what
about you,
you ask, as you
hear her
gagging on
the other end.
i'll be right
back she says.
i think i drank
too much and ate
too many pieces
of fried calamari.

a bird

without wings
to flaunt
on wind, finless
fish, and dogs
without a bark
or tail to wag.
what is it in
you, that stolen,
makes you less,
of who you need
to be.

ferris wheel

you are reluctant
to climb aboard
the ride, call it
love, for sake
of this poem.
it looks like fun
from here, the
wheel turning
slowly into
the carnival sky.
the ticket is in
your hand, but
you stand there,
slow to move,
while she smiles,
waiting patiently
and says come on,
come on, it
takes two.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

diving down

looking for
answers,
you find yourself
below the ocean,
it's much darker
than you realized
the thin halo
of light fading,
fish bump up
against you
like passengers
in the subway,
meaning no harm.
you float and
sink further,
diving down
with open and
closed arms,
the bubbles of
your life rise
before your
eyes. you don't
know why you are
even here, but
that will come
later, hopefully
while there is
still air.

the stories

you like best
are the ones
with endings
you don't see
coming, no
different
are lovers
with only
the promise
of a single
kiss, awaiting
what's
written next.

Monday, March 5, 2012

lost friends

you hire
a magician
to come to your
house. you tell
him that so
many people
have disappeared,
over time,
so many friends
have taken another
road, one that
you aren't on.
you'd like some
of them back,
just to say hello,
how are you.
please, you tell
him. say a few
magic words, wave
your wand and
pull them gently
from your hat.

done with sleep

for now
the sun
persuades
me to rise
out of bed
and find you
in the field
beneath
the same blue
sky with
your black
hair down
around your
shoulders
and irish
eyes bright
among
the flowers.

sons and daughters

you watch the man
move slowly towards
the lake, alone.
and he picks up
a flat stone,
rubbing it with
his fingers,
then sends it
sideways in a skim.
he's done this
before. you can
tell, the way
it skips across
the rippled blue
then sinks away.
you can almost hear
him say, perhaps
to a son or
daughter, okay,
now you try. take
your turn.

supreme ruler

you awaken
with the news on
the radio
that you have been
named supreme
ruler of the earth.
you had almost
forgotten that
you applied for
the job. you yawn
and stretch,
get up and take
a shower. the phone
won't stop ringing
with congratulations.
your mother calls
too, but says, why
don't you ever visit.
some supreme ruler
you are who doesn't
have time to even
visit his mother.
you get a text to
come down for
the coronation at
noon and to wear
a red cape if you
have one. you check
your cape drawer
and find a royal
blue one and a white
one, but no red.
the blue will have
to do and you snap
it around your
neck and shoulders.
you go get
coffee and there
is applause when
you enter, some
bowing, but you say,
something like
pffft, please,
please. as your ruler
go back to what
you were doing. you
get your coffee
then sit outside
where people are staring
at you. it's hard
to concentrate on
the list you wrote
down of how you are
going to improve
the world. you figure
you'll start small
though and have
that pot hole in front
of your house fixed
first, then go from there.

the pink gun

on the first date
she opens her
purse and shows
you her pink
gun. it's loaded
she says, so
don't try anything.
i'm not afraid
of you, you say
to her. in fact,
the thought of even
kissing you
never crossed my
mind. i carry it
for that reason
too, she says.
now pucker up,
or else.

the last page first

water rises
around your ankles,
up the leg
with a cold
sleeve of wetness.
it swirls and
moans as it takes
the weaker trees,
the open gate,
you don't run,
or swim away.
you want to stay
see how this
turns out. you
were always one
to read the last
page first, but
now you have
to wait.

cupid's arrow

it's just a flesh
wound you
tell the doctor.
no need to worry,
i've been in
love before.
the arrow
just grazed me.
it'll heal.
i'll live.
wrap it up and
i'll be on my way.

pork chops to chinatown

you meet a woman
named brenda
who drives
trucks across
country. eighteen
wheelers full
of frozen meat.
she has an egg
stain on her
shirt. and pieces
of bacon in
her teeth, but
you find a way
to love her any
way. she says,
off handedly
while lying in
the cab of
her truck,
after making
love, that she
could beat me
up, if she wanted
to. but you
don't want to,
do you, you say
to her. too early
to tell she says.
much early to
tell, now get
out, i have to
get these pork
chops to chinatown.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

the back yard

you stare out
into the abyss
of your small back
yard, the thirty
foot square of
dirt and weeds
a stack of ladders
and a shallow
bird feeder.
you immediately
reject the idea
that it's a
reflection of
your own life,
or has any
significant meaning
other than that
you lack a green
thumb and have
a lazy bone when
it comes to digging
on your knees
in soil trying
make a tomato or
a petunia rise
from a buried seed.

go to sleep

are you awake,
you ask,
touching
her shoulder.
did you hear
something.
no she says.
i was sleeping.
and you roll
back over
to where
the red numbers
on the clock
glow three.
and then someone
comes over
out of the darkness
and sits on
the edge of
the bed, puts
her hand on your
arm and says
i'm fine.
go to sleep.

focus

they lean
in to give
the camera
a chance
to find their
faces all
together.
bodies in
tight, arm
around rounded
shoulder.
as if the
focus was small
and narrow
the lens
a magic spot
to be centered
and held
to enter,
as if the
camera didn't
understand
what needed
to be captured.
and when
it's snapped
you see how much
room there
really is.
how small we
make our world
when there
is so much more
beyond.

Friday, March 2, 2012

wild horses

you see her
riding a horse
down broadway.
her hair
flying long
and dark
in the wind.
she has no
clothes on
as she leans
forward with
her feet in
stirrups,
her hands firmly
on the reins.
she's trying
hard to tell
you something.

false alarm

the firemen
in their black
coats and steel
helmets
arrive with axes
in hand,
hoses charged
with water,
at the ready
to put out
the fire.
but there is none.
at least not
now, the fire
is gone. we sleep
in separate rooms
smile when we
pass one another
in the hall.
the flame
as it was,
has been
extinguished.

which way to go

with your
sense of direction
waning,
you carry
a bag of bread
crumbs with
you to find your
way home.
but it's
ineffective
because
of the birds
that follow
you along
the way. they
glide
down, on soft
wings and
take each
morsel of food,
caring little
about how
lost you are.

we have each other

the vampire bat
will drop
from his dark
fig pose
when the moon
has relinquished
all light
and fly
towards a
warm soul,
then stop
and land,
then on
it's wings
dance towards
the beating
pulse of a vein.
he will drink
his weight
in blood before
flying back.
and those that
were not so lucky
on their hunt
for life he will
let them kiss
his mouth and
give them
what he has found.

the wash

you see your
mother
at the line.
arms above her
black thick hair.
her feet
bare in the high
grass,
as green as
spring can
make it.
the easter
sun, above.
the pinned
sheets waving,
not in surrender
but something
akin to hope,
or rebirth,
across this
patch of earth.

words unsaid

left unsaid
sometimes
the words that
don't leave
the angered lips
are best
unfurled at
what disturbs
your peace. but
how hard it
is to be still
and quiet in
the midst of
what ails the
world.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

growing old

i want to find
someone to grow old
with, she says
to me over ice
cream cones
at the dairy queen.
oh really, you
say. like mold.
both of you growing
old together.
like two oranges
in the fridge that have
sat lumpy on one
side for too long
and now have soft
black dents in them.
yes, she says.
licking her cone.
exactly like that.
i want to grow
old like a rotted
orange. what's
wrong with you
anyway?

hiding things

you drop the mask
down over your
face and fire
up the blow torch
because you've lost
the combination
to your safe
where you keep
all your valuables
except for
the ones that
you hide beneath
your bed
and the ones behind
the false
drawer of the sea
chest in the attic.
oh, and then
there's lock
box behind
the portrait of
your grandmother
who was also very
secretive
and forgetful.
not to mention a few
thing buried
in the back yard,
but the map
is in the safe,
so you have
to get busy.