Thursday, May 31, 2012

there was a time

there was a time
when the mail
came twice a day
when milk
and eggs were
in a silver  box
upon your porch.
a time when
the news was
in the paper only.
there was a time
when you were
young. when
the sun rose
through
the uncurtained
window. when
the rooster crowed.
when your father
came home
from work,
and your mother
welcomed him
with open arms.
there was a time.

the peach

you decide
before you bite
into the peach
if it will be
sweet and ripe,
tender and juicy
on your tongue
and lips.
but it's not
always true
as i have found
when biting
biting hard
into a peach i
thought i knew.

each day

each day is a place
you've never been to,
a town unvisited.
the hours that you
live in are familiar
but new.  yesterday
is hardly visible
out the windows
of the swift train.
even so, you must
go on, for what else
is there to do,
but to live in the now
where you have
arrived, a place you
will soon depart
and leave behind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the yearbook

cleaning out the attic
you find
a yearbook from
your senior year
in highschool.
it's been decades
since you opened
it and perused it's
black and white
photos, the scribbled
musings of good
luck, best wishes,
stay cool and have
fun. remember home
room says another.
don't ever change,
and you wonder if
you have. you see
the faces of those now
gone, the teachers,
old then and surely
not around anymore.
it's painful in a way.
to be that young,
unwrinkled, before
work and love,
before everything.
how large the world
seemed then,
how small it
has become.

that good night

everyone wants
to know, what's wrong
with bob dylan.
why the long face,
why no smiles as
they give him medals
and accolades
so late in life.
he seems unhappy
they say, after creating
so much. how did he
become the mumble
of a generation
after being the voice. why
doesn't he relax and
take it easy, why go on
the road year in
year out, his back to
the audience. his voice
shot, his songs
unrecognizable.
his hair and face a mangled
tale of fifty odd
years. why not lie
down and  go gentle into
that good night.

the prince of nigeria

you get an e mail from
a nigerian prince
who wants to put a million
pounds into your
account. seems there's
been some sort of
acrimony between
he and his siblings
concerning their massive
inheritance. of course
you'd get a cut just for
being a swell guy,
helping him out as
it were. sure you write
back. but first, as a
sign of good faith, place
a thousand dollars in
cash in a paper bag
under the third bench
north of the reflecting
pool. next to the hot
dog vendor. once you do
that, i'll let you deposit
your money into my
account. of course, this
gets no reply. silence.
so you write back, prince
my dear prince, where
have you gone.

high heels

so what is your
bucket list
your to do list
before you die
amanda asks
while chasing
a fly with
a swatter. napping
you tell her.
i want to master
the twenty minute
nap and perhaps
make a flourless
chocolate cake
that the world
will line up for.
very lame, she says.
there's no mountain
you want to climb,
no underwater
dive to find sunken
treasures. no
jumping out of a plane
to free fall.
nah, you tell her.
i get enough thrills
with just you being
around in those
high heels.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

good deeds

she cut her hair
off and sold it
to a wig shop.
it's for others,
she said. mine
will grow back,
but maybe not
theirs. next week
i'm climbing
mt. everest
for the hard
of hearing.
in the spring
i'm building
an eagles nest
with my bare
hands. and what
about you, she
said, what have
you done lately
to help others.
i listen to you,
i said, and don't
ridicule the things
that you do.

run

run and run
and run.
your feet
on fire
from the heat
against
the black
pavement.
run and run.
chase
the years
behind you.
don't look
back.
keep running.
there's only
one true finish
line. first
or last
doesn't matter.

fish and meat

if i had to
kill a cow
to eat it
lay low behind
a tree
with a knife
i wouldn't.
if i had to
pluck a chicken
and wring
it's neck.
i couldn't.
if i had to
filet a fish
and take
him by hook
or net,
i wouldn't.
i'd rather
starve
then kill
the beast.
but i'm so glad
that safeway
cares and distributes
fish and meat.

lonely

aren't you lonely
she asks. everyone
is lonely she
answers for me.
no, you say.
i don't understand
lonliness.
i'm only alone
when with someone
i don't want to
be with, otherwise
i am always, or
at least try to
be in good company.

getting ready

you've been chopping
wood in the back
yard all day.
arms swinging the
heavy axe breaking
logs into two
then spilt. you carry
them to the side
fence and stack
them. winter is a
long ways off. but
you aren't as young
as you used to be
and the seasons
move fast. you're
getting ready for
many things
that you never
thought would come.

already there

in the corner
of an open
window
i see you.
hands holding
a cat.
your eyes
crying, your
blue season
in full
bloom. you're
waiting
for me.
for me to come
back. you
don't hear
me at the door
already there.

Monday, May 28, 2012

parade day

the man
in the leather
vest, grizzled
with beard
and tattoos
is bedecked
in red white
and blue
flags as he
cruises with
a thick rumble
of muffler down
the highway.
a woman with
a pink roll
of skin between
her shirt and jeans
hangs on with
strawberry
nails, and a black
half helmet
where her red
pony tail whips
free in
the air.

the owl

from nowhere
in the blue shadows
of night closing
in, sweeps
the long wide
wings of an owl.
spread open
with hardly
a sound. his
hunt and hunger
bringing him
to life to take
life and keep
his world as
it should be.

the visitor

a possum
finds a home
in your garden
in an old
grey pail
turned sideways
full of straw
and grass.
his silvery
head and eyes
blink fear
as you
prod him with
a broom
his claws and
hiss though
make you
stop and turn
away. he wants
to stay a little
while longer,
so you let
him.

together

sartre
said that
only the one
not rowing
has time
to rock the boat.
so true.
let's put our
oars in the water
as one
and find
the distant shore
we seek.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

the white hat

i'll give you a hundred
dollars she tells you,
if you go over there
and take that woman's
hat and give it to me.
prove what a man you are.
you put your hand
out and she places five
twenties in your palm.
you hide behind a post
then dash towards
the woman, snatching
off her wide brimmed
white hat. then you sprint
back to your friend
and say, here,
put this on. you both
run but before you get down
the street the cops
are chasing you
with guns drawn.
you've  stolen the hat
from the ambassador
of peru's wife. how
could you know.
let's split up you say
and dash into an alley.
she goes the other way.
then you hear gunshots.
you circle the building,
putting on your sunglasses,
changing your shirt.
you meander
around the building
and come out to where
a crowd has gathered.
your friend is lying
in the middle
of the street, bleeding
from a leg wound. still
wearing the hat.
you go over to her
and give her back her
money. she's weeping.
and you say, hey, it was
your idea, but that does
look sharp on you. my
leg hurts, she says.
can you take my picture
and put it on facebook?
sure, no problem.
smile.

abstract

you draw a circle
on the board
with the blue stroke
of a brush.
this is your life.
some get in
some don't.
they have their
circles too.
red, green, grey.
sometimes
the circles over
lap, some are
large, some
small, some are
actually straight
lines that go
nowhere and boxes.
some are splatters
flung from
across the room.
before you know it
what was simple
is now a jackson
pollack painting
and you want
to start over.

chainsaw woman

i never
trusted a woman
with a power tool
in her hand
but she was
different
she knew how
to kiss
and make pot
roast.
and as i watched
her reaching up
to take branches
down off the old
oak tree in her
yard,  i was almost
willing to lose
a limb or
large quantities
of blood
for her. my
foolishness has
not diminished
with age.

mass

she used her
religion like a bar
of soap.
a sunday morning
bath from
friday and saturday
nights roll
in the proverbial
mud. but i
understood her
completely as
she lifted her body
out of bed,
stumbled
into the bathroom
and put on her
white dress
and church shoes,
dont get up, she'd
say, i'll be right back,
it's a short mass.

choices

missing
forgetting
things like
keys and pens
that ring
your number
your name,
the one thing
at the store
you went for.
when and what
time.
the place you
need to be.
it's not a pattern,
but more
of a choice,
selective memory
or so you'd prefer
to believe.

Friday, May 25, 2012

violet mornings

in the morning
when the world
is asleep.
the petals of
a soft violet rises
as the sun just
peeks over
the rooftops
and hills.
the quiet is
magnificient.
the stillness
gold. you
remember those
hours like
old friends
as you rolled
and threw papers
onto the steps
and lawns.
pulling a wagon
whistling for
the dog to come
along.

winter

the snow
dances white
against the road
and lawn.
it falls
into your hair
as we grow
old after we
are young.
we are green
and green
for so long,
but winter, at
last, does come.

the elevator man

you love your job
as an elevator operator.
you have a red suit
with gold brocade
and a hat with a wide
shiny brim.
you have a whistle
too for when you
work the front door
and need to grab a
taxi for someone.
your pockets are full
of cash because you
are so nice to
everyone and don't
resent that they are
wealthy and you
aren't. you imagine
yourself happier than
they are in your apartment
in the bronx, with your
loyal wife and
small dog. your ship
will come in you
whisper to yourself
as your press the buttons
making them light
up. your ship is on
the way. what floor?

swimming the channel

you tell your girlfriend
margaret, that you have
decided to swim
the english channel,
but first you must decide
on what stroke you'll
use. back stroke,
the butterfly, perhaps
a little dog paddle in
the mix. it's cold
and choppy and when
you get there, the cuisine
stinks. so maybe you'll
pack a lunch and
seal it in a waterproof
bag. dried fruits
might be a good snack
along the way. some
bananas to keep you
from cramping.
at night you imagine
the long swim,
you kick your legs in
bed and throw your
arms forward in a free
style motion. this wakes
up margaret though,
and she smacks you
on top of your head
which is covered with
a bathing cap. what
the hell is wrong with
you, she says, breaking
your rythmn.

the stuck window

the stuck window
has been that way for
years. paint and dirt,
dust and mildew
has sealed it to the sill.
you've pried, and
bumped, hammered
at it, and pushed up
as hard as your arms
would allow, but
still it doesn't budge.
you realize at some
point that you will
move before it does.
the breeze from
that view never
pushing a season
against your skin.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

getting over alice

your friend jimmy calls
crying the blues,
he wants to come over to
talk about things.
his wife, alice, left him for
another woman and
wiped out his bank
account. she took her
cats too, he says
almost whispering
into the phone.  so you
say, sure come on over.
i'll put some burgers
on the grill and make
some margaritas. there's
a game on too. maybe
we can throw the ball
around before the game
starts. pick up a bag
of ripple chips on the way
over and some onion
dip. and i think i'm out
of lighter fluid in case
you want to throw
that wedding album
onto the flames. cool,
he says, see you
in twenty bud.

duct tape

you try to make
it through an entire
day without saying
or doing anything
overtly stupid.
it's tough, but you
try, avoiding eye
contact as much
as possible and not
looking at those
plastic orange gator
shoes that so many
people going into
wal-mart are wearing.
you hold your tongue
when you want to say,
excuse me young
man, do you need a
belt. your underwear
is hanging out. or miss,
would that nose ring
hurt if i gave it a pull?
but no. you are keeping
to yourself today.
you are monk, a yogi,
a master of your own
tongue. duct tape
seems to help.

St. E's

you drive slowly
past the gates where
the men and women
who are all watched
are digging through
the cans and litter.
like children,
their hats and gloves
have been put on
by someone else.
some are having
conversations with
no one seen.
some are content
to sit and let their
minds silently swim
away. the gates are
thin that keep us out
and them in.

wildlife

living near
the woods can
be frightening
sometimes. the wildlife
is rampant.
you see a chipmunk
lying on your front
porch when you get
home from work.
he's reading a small
paper and talking on
the phone. the sun
is bright against his
chestnut brown coat
with black and white
trimming. you stand
still and take his picture.
but he hears the click
and throws the paper
down. his startled
brown eyes flicker in
the light before
he scampers off into
the hole beneath your
porch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the rising sun

it used to be
fast cars
fast women
late nights
and lots and
lots of drinking.
you pretended
to dance too
and combed
your hair
for an hour before
going out into
the dead of
night. your belt
was fixed
on the first hole.
you were that
skinny, that
dumb and that
eager to find
not the love of
your life, but
someone who could
fill void
for now, delay
the rising sun.

chicken dinner


as you carefully
shoo a fly out
the window,
then a spider
and a few lady bugs,
you think about
your grandmother,
lina, who used
to wring chickens
by their skinny
necks before plucking
their feathers and
then chopping them
up for dinner. she
thought nothing of
doing this
despite giving all
them names. you
would have starved.

here's your baby

a nurse comes
out and hands you
a bald pink baby.
you assume
it's yours, but at
that age it could be
almost anyone's
baby. fortunately
there is an owner's
manual attached
to his diaper.
you breath a sigh
of relief. there is
a lot of small print
and warnings,
written in english,
spanish and chinese,
etc. etc. in the front,
which you quickly
skim over and get
to the illustrated
guide on changing
diapers. it's a long
ride home.

leaky pipes

sometimes
words slip
out, leak
like water
dripping from
a broken pipe,
things best kept
inside, roll
off your tongue.
it's never good.
and it can't be
taken back
though you try.

turning over a new leaf

her wild days
are over, she tells
you. she reads
and reads
and loves the movies,
documentaries.
she's taken an
interest in the theater.
and works part
time at the museum
for modern art.
she does yoga
and recycles religiously.
she drives a prius
now instead of her
old camaro. she's
had her tattoos removed
and taken out
her piercings.
she doesn't
drink, or smoke,
or curse, but all is not
lost. she likes
to stay in shape
using a stripper
pole in her bedroom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

carrots and lettuce

you want to write
a poem about
flowers, but you
don't, instead
you wander into
an idea about
fruits and vegetables.
the metaphors
are endless.
take plums for
example, or sweet
cherries, or
juicy melons.
you can get into
a lot of trouble
writing about
fruits and vegetables.
cucumbers and
eggplants. don't even
write the word
fig on the page.
steer clear of carrots
and lettuce.

the fog

the fog
like a hand
grey
and soft
leaks over
the scrub brush
and low
trees, the rocks
along
the sleeve
of a shallow
stream.
it brushes
up against you
as you stand
alone,
waiting to
be seen.

chicken wings

given half a chance
and with the proper
amount of hunger
you believe that you
could eat at least
twenty to thirty
fried chicken wings
in one hour.
this makes betty
laugh and throw
her head back,
loosening her new
wig.  let's make
a bet, she says.
a hundred dollars
says you can't do it.
you're not chicken
are you. which makes
her laugh even more.
not funny you say.
game on. so together
you fry up fifty wings
with a moderate amount
of seasoning.
she wants to eat
some too while she
watches you go at it.
the first twenty go
down easily, but then
you swallow a bone
on the twenty first wing
because you are on
the clock and eating so
fast.  it gets lodged
in your throat.
loser, betty says. loser. no
way you can keep eating
with that bone in
your throat. you realize
that she's right
and motion her
to come around to
do the heimlich manuever.
you can't  breath
and feel yourself blacking
out. the room is spinning
as your greasy hands
grasp at the tablecloth.
she shakes her head,
and says pffff. i knew
you couldn't do it.
she puts her gin and tonic
down and then comes
around and squeezes hard
below your rib cage
making the chicken wing
bone pop out of your
gaping mouth
and fly across the room.
the dog who is on his hind
legs begging, catches it
in midair and runs out
of the room.
you owe me a hundred
dollars, she says,
now pay up.

twelve easy payments

back in the early
sixties you used to
go door to door selling
encyclopedias
or bibles and for
one long hot summer
hoover vacuums.
you were trying
to clean up the world,
or at least give
it knowledge that
they were unaware
of. you'd throw
dirt onto their
carpet and say
something like
don't worry, the hoover
will get it up.
then  hit the switch
as the whirlwind
wheels spun and sucked
up your once bagged
dirt, or you'd ask them
a question about
mt. rushmore, who's
on it and smile, as
they sat slackjawed
without a clue. you've
already put your finger
on that page with
full color photos
and illustrations.
don't let your kid
be a dope, you'd say,
and when it came to
sin and forgiveness,
who didn't need
a brand new bible
with a bookmarker
to help get them off
the bottle and
to leave the sinful
life behind. in
fact you even bought
a couple for yourself.
sign right there, you'd
say, taking out your
best pen. only twelve
easy payments
and you're free
and clean and smart.

seamless

the paper
going up,
measured and
cut from a bolt
smoothed
out from
side to pasted
side.
it slides along
until level,
the bubble even
with the world
as you hope
to be
one day.
straight across
and matching
in pattern and
in dye lot,
seamless,
completing
each other.

Monday, May 21, 2012

flowers

you watch
her lips move
as she reads
slowly
down the list
of things
to do
today.
grocery store.
the dentist.
brakes
for the car
take out
the recycling
bin. buy
flowers for myself
because he
never gets me
any. you
wince
and look at
the calendar.

in greece

in greece
you see an old
man up on his
balcony. you
wave foolishly
as tourists do.
it's an island
of rocks and
goats, and weathered
faces huddled
in small
white churches
blue capped
scattered along
the roads
like stones.
the man doesn't
wave back.
he's lifted  his
arm enough
for one life
to strangers,
and who are you
to ask it of
him again.

in sand

there are
many things
you don't
understand
and the few
you think
you do, even
they change
over time.
they shift
like sand
from the pull
of a new
moon on
wide blue oceans
side to side.

over easy

when the cupboard
is bare
and freezer is
empty,
when the shelves
lack of
anything to eat
that isn't in
a box or can,
you find two
eggs over
easy will just
have to do
and you ignore,
or at least try
to, the snickering
sizzle of  butter as
it melts in the pan.

snake handlers

handle snakes
and you will
eventually
be bitten
and the venom
will curl like
smoke through
your blood
and lay you down.
easy advice,
not so easy to
listen to and obey
though.
we are all snake
handlers at some
point in our
lives.

jelly filled

craving for sweets
you wake up
in the middle of
the night and go out
in your robe
looking for an
open donut shop.
there are noises
in the shadows of
trees, miscreants
whistle at you
from alleys.
you are wearing flip
flops and carrying
a five dollar bill
in your hand.
you know how
strange you must
look, out so late,
wandering the dark
roads alone. but
you don't care.
you have dietary
needs that need
to met. your mission
is a jelly donut
and getting home
alive.

everything on red

you decide to become
a full gambler.
you quit your day job
and cash in all that
you own.
the house, the car,
the coin collection
that you started when
you were ten.
you put all the money
in a brief case like
you see so often in
the movies and go to
vegas. you put
the suitcase on the table
and say red.
i'm putting it all
on red. double or
nothing and then
the wheel spins and
leaves you with
nothing, landing
squarely on black.
it was a bad
idea. you
hitch hike back
home with the clothes
on your back
and a written apology
to your boss.

i don't want to know

i'm going to see
the gyspy today
she tells me.
she's going to
read my palms,
my tea leaves,
look into my eyes
and tell where
i've gone right
or wrong, who
should stay or
leave within
my life. she's
going to stare
into her crystal
ball and see what
lies ahead for
me. it's only
fifty bucks, you
should come too.
she'll shuffle
your cards and
lay them down
reveal to us
our future.

frayed wire

like a light
with a frayed wire
you come in
and out of sleep
with static
thoughts of
her. keeping
you awake
keeping you
from sleep.
keeping you
in and out of
darkness with
sparks of
memory.

before the thunder

you hear
the horses
coming
before you see
them, the rise
of dust from
the road
that curves below
the field.
you see the hats
of the men
tilted down
to shadow their
faces from
the high sun
leaving
before the storm
moves in.
you hear
the horses
before you
see them.
the lightning
before the thunder.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

the wheel

the hamster
in his cage
on his wheel
up all night
going somewhere.
his little hat
on, a map
in his hand
a small overnight
bag at his side.
he's pedaling
hard and fast.
he going
somewhere
you can tell by
the look in
his eye. he
believes he'll
get there soon
enough.

Friday, May 18, 2012

the silence

i don't believe
in god, she says.
how do you explain
pain and suffering.
injustice. how do
you justify bad
overcoming good.
where is god in
that. where is god
in war, and death
and disease. where
is god in heartache
and in broken
families. where
is god in poverty
and mental illness.
explain to me
so that i can believe
too. tell me the reasons
for all of this
sadness, darkness
and evil that
exists in the world,
please tell me,
so that i can believe
too. tell me, she
says, dont stay
silent like he is.

stuffed shells

you call your mother
to tell her that you've
won the nobel prize
for literature and that
you are travelling
to sweden to pick
up your medal and
substantial award money.
that's nice she says.
i'm happy for you, but
i feel bad for the losers.
are you sure this isn't
a mistake. why you?
maybe you should share
the award with them.
you pause, and clear
your throat. maybe,
you say. so when
are you coming over,
she says. if you can
go all the way over
to sweden, maybe you
can cross the wilson bridge
sometime and visit me.
i'll set a plate out.
sunday, at five, okay?
i'm making stuffed shells.

working out

you have been working
out to impress
lulu, the woman who
lives down the street.
she likes to wash her
sports car while wearing
her bikini and high
heels. she uses a big
soapy sponge and has to
lean way up high to get
to the roof. her poodle
is tied to the fence and
barks while the radio
plays. you take your
shirt off, remove your
glasses and go for a
walk. flexing your muscles
in the sun. when you
get to lulu's house
you stop and bend over
to pet her dog. hello
lulu, you say, balling up
your new biceps. she
stops washing the car
for a moment and says,
hello irvin. working out?
maybe you can help
me change this tire.
it's flat and i have a
date tonight. he's a
doctor. smart guy.
you tell her that you
don't have time, and
that you are on your way
to the library. your book
on quantum physics
is way overdue.

how it ends

my friend bob
came home from work
the other day
and everything was gone.
the bed, the couch,
the tables. the dishes
and silverware too.
his clothes were in a pile
on the floor. he opened
the refrigerator
and that was cleaned
out too except for
a jar of pickles. he
fished one out and
crunched down on it,
reading the note
she left on the counter.
i met someone else
it read. don't try and
find me. good luck
with everything. i
left you some pickles
on the fridge door.

the trampoline

feeling down and blue
you think that
you need some
excitement
in your life
so you buy a trampoline
and put it in your
back yard.
you put it together
and three days
later you are jumping
on it with your shoes
off. up and up
and up you go
bouncing higher
with each spring
of your legs.
the birds  swoop
in to take a look.
the squirrels in
the tree hesitate before
zig zagging away.
you see your
neighbors in
the window next
door getting
dressed, startled
by your waving
and smiling face.
you love your new
tampoline.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

cab ride

the cab driver
has nothing to say.
not hello
no how are you
or where to.
he just looks
in the mirror
with his red
eyes and waits
for you to speak,
and when you
do he clicks
the handle down
to make it three
fifty for starters.
you've had days
like his too,
and so you sit
back and let
him be. sorrow
being holy ground.

winter birds

feeling the first
cool draft
of winter
they drift in
from the north.
birds, birds
more birds
than you can
count. they sit
in long still
lines along
the wire in
front of your house.
your bags
are packed too
with white zinc
on your nose.

necessary evil

is it evil
of the black
snake
to slither
up the tree
to eat
the pale blue
eggs
or is it
necessary
and right,
to keep things
the way
they need
to be.

the north pole

i want to go
to the north pole
she tells you as you
sit licking an
italian ice
in brooklyn. sure,
go, who's stopping
you, you tell
her. the strawberry
juice is running
down your chin
and onto your
white t-shirt. she
points it out to you
and you dab at it
with a thin napkin,
then shrug. i'll bleach
it when i get home.
let's both go to the
north pole, she says
again excitedly.
maybe, you tell her,
tipping the paper
cone to your lips
to get the melting
syrup.  oh come on,
you never want to do
anything fun. but we
don't have any sled
dogs, or back packs.
i think we need ice
picks and stuff too,
right? maybe a compass.
she begins to cry.
you never want to
do what i want to do.
it's obvious you don't
love me. do you?
what flavor did you get,
you ask her,
give me a taste.
what about the south
pole? is it warmer there?

temporary solutions

your pants are too
tight, so you buy
bigger pants.
your house is
full of junk, so
you move. your
wife is angry all
the time about
something you did
or didn't do, so
you sleep in
the other room.
your dog has fleas,
so you get a cat.
the cat claws at
your couch, so
you get a bird.
the bird won't shut
up. so you open
the window and
let him fly away.
you don't smell too
good, so you lather
yourself in perfume.
you're getting old
so you take
the mirrors down.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

snapshot of a day at work

while you paint
the bathroom
two boys
in the other room
scream.
operatic screams
that rise and fall
and start again
all in the same
breath of air.
one is striking
a pot with a large
metal spoon.
while the other
is tearing sheets
of paper into
small white pieces
and tossing them
into the air.
the mother is
on the couch
eating oreos
and watching
jerry springer,
the phone,
unaswered,
hasn't stopped
ringing.

shined shoes

out of work
you go occupy
a line
for coffee.
others are there
too with their
lap tops
making notes
of jobs in
oregon, or
florida. they
need window
replacement
salesmen in
philadelphia too.
you could be
there in a few
hours with a new
tie and a clean
shirt on,
shined shoes.

beauty

sometimes in a crowd
you see a face
and the beauty of him
or her stuns you in
a quiet bright way.
it's not about sex,
but about the lines,
the curve of lips,
the nose, the angle
of a jaw or cheekbone.
the impossible color
of their eyes, whether
blue or green,
or just brown.
flowers growing
in cement,
a strange beauty
in bloom
between the ordinary
dandelions that so
many of us are.

car hell

you get a note
in the mail from
your car manufacturer.
bring it in now, it says,
or your car may
explode in a firey
ball because of a
defective spiral cable.
there may be complete
failure of your automobile
at any moment so be
warned,  do not drive
your vehicle one inch
until this is repaired.
so you a wait a few
weeks until you have
a day off from work
then drive it in.
oh yeah, sure, we can
fix that, the guy says
at the service  bay.
he might be twelve
or thirteen, he has a
skateboard under his arm.
fill this out then go sit
in there. free coffee
and donuts, he
says, smiling, showing
his braces full of chocolate.
the room is littered
with absorbent
cloth chairs that have
the history of spilled
beverages upon them.
a mr. coffee machine
buzzes on the counter
where a box of donuts
sits open to the flies
and the greasy hands
of mechanics who
come in to eat them
with one bite.
richard burton
and liz taylor are on
the most recent magazines,
as is the corvair, america's
newest and most safe car.
you hold your hands and
arms up in the air like
a surgeon before he operates
then carefully sit down next
to a woman who is crying
and blowing her nose
into her sleeve. her
leg is rattling against
the chair like a butter
churn. everyone
waiting looks dazed
or drugged.
kelly and regis are on
a tv that sits in the corner
next to the unisex bathroom.
the volume is set
on high as they
discuss the musical genius
that is justin bieber.
dante's inferno has nothing
on this place.
you have landed
in hell, car hell.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

in the morning

you can go away
just leave.
pack it in as they say.
no note, no calls.
take the next
train out.
but then who will
water your plants,
dust your shelves,
keep track of the birds
out on the wire.
kiss you in
the morning. don't
answer that.

the ashtray

i don't like to drink
alone she says,
punching out a cigarette
in an ashtray
her son made in
shop class. he got a
D for it, she laughs.
it's a little cave
with a chimney
for the smoke to
go out. crude and
primitive, but it works.
i think a C would
have been a more
fair grade. what do you
think. fine, you tell
her. my mother stills
has the potholder
i made in shop although
the pegs fell out
when i dropped it
getting off the bus.
pour me another would
you, she says,
funny how quickly
they grow up.

what else

you take a casual
inventory of your aches
and pains.
starting from your
blistered feet, then
work up to your knees
that click like
drum sticks
keeping an erratic beat,
that plum bruise
on your thigh is nothing.
nor is the hip burn.
the lump though,
well. it's there.
hard as a rubber ball,
but small. it might
go away if you'd stop
touching it.
and the shoulders.
the right one mostly.
as long as you don't
put weight on it when
you sleep or reach for
something like
a can of beans
on the top shelf.
what else.

will i win

the little girl
with flushed
cheeks and dolls
eyes, finished her
tap dance
in her pink
chiffon dress
before the music
ended, and when
it stopped. she puffed
her lips
red like cherries
and said, well,
how was i. did you
like it. will i win.
it's going to be a
long hard life.

old men

old men
rolling cigarettes
down by the water
sipping on
bagged cans
of beer,
tossing bread
to the gulls
with yellowed
wings and the
burrowed grey
rats in the grey
rocks peeking out
with long tails
and jittery whiskers
patient with their
hunger.
all wanting
the same thing,
over and over.
each day like
the next.

the fields

the blonde fields
that swim
in moonlight
before us,
will stay uncut
for now,
for our harvest
is mostly in.
the barns full
of what we
could do with
the hands we were
given.  this new
field will shine
awhile longer
before it falls
under another
hand's scythe.

the flood

go down now
and stand
by the river
see how wide
and dark it has
become, it's
long and furious
sleeve. the sky
has emptied itself
and the rain has
taken what it wants.
go down
now to the river,
to the flood,
and tell me what
you belive.
if your faith is
lessened or
gained by what
you see.

the bird feeder

all birds on wing
can gather there,
or so you'd like
to believe in
the democracy
of the bird feeder
that swings
at the top
of the window.
they come,
but many
are  not allowed
and must flee
from the force
and fury of those
with power,
with sharpened
beaks and wings
that beat the air.

the belly dancer

she used to belly dance
for the lunch crowd
down at the fifth avenue
deli. they put her in
the window next to
the cured hams and
lambs on skewers.
she didn't mind
the comparison though,
and she loved
the attention.
the young boys would
come and stare
longingly at her, while
the men would come
in for their subs and
gyros and to look at
her from behind.
her hair was as black
as oil and when she
smiled it was obvious
that her sultry lips
were made for sin.
and when she danced
shook her hips,
and rolled her tight
tanned belly,
well, this was very
good for business.
hot pastrami on rye
and pickles flew
out the door.

Monday, May 14, 2012

buyer beware

the promise
was not kept.
in sickness and
in health, till
death do us part,
but one size
does not fit
all either.
nor does warranty
for life
mean exactly
that. there are rules
and caveats
to everything,
loopholes
and small print,
buyer beware.

into my ear

when we make love,
she says shyly,
i'd like you
to whisper things
into my ear
that excite me.
be creative.
okay. you tell her
and so that night
in the midst
of a romantic
interlude, you gently
kiss her neck
then put your lips
up to her ear
and whisper, there's
a two for one shoe
sale on at nordstrom's
until the end of
the year, which makes
her scream for joy.

man at the door

on a rainy monday,
the doorbell
startles you.
carefully you dog
ear the book
you are reading
and set it down.
like henry james
it takes you
a long time
to finally cross
the room and peek
out. it's no one
you know.
a stranger with
a black bag.
he rings the door
bell again.
he's wearing a grey
raincoat and a hat
like your father used
to wear. his eyebrows
are long and dark,
his lips are pursed
as he looks at
his watch, pushing
back the wet sleeves
of his coat.
he stamps the water
from his shoes
and rings the bell
a third time.
but you are in no
need for bad news.
or good news for that
matter. so you go
back to your book
and let him leave.

warm bread

the bread rises
in the heat
of the old oven.
the smell of
dough baking
floats and settles
throughout
the house. it
is the scent of
memory. of
being young
and then old.
you could do
worse than have
warm bread
on your table.
in some small way
it feeds a part
of you
that's empty.

before dark

you walk
into the woods
before dark.
there is the rattle
of a moon
stuck in
the thin unleafed
branches
of winter trees.
ice is underfoot.
a bloom
of air
comes from your
open mouth.
the circle
of blue sky
is dimished with
each step you take
you walk
into the woods
before dark.
there are many ways
in. few
ways out.

the letter

you write yourself
a letter
of recommendation.
and put it on
your desk. you
may need it someday.
everything that
she said about you
is not in the letter.
all the wrong
things you may have
said, or even thought
are not in there
too. it's a bluebird
of a letter,
singing your praises.
it's a very short
letter, in fact it's
more of a note.

quicksand

you sink slowly
into sleep
a quicksand
of a night,
slipping down
ward into
salty dreams
that make you
twist and turn.
there are no
vines to grab
onto and pull
yourself out.
a new
morning is your
only hope.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

super powers

given the chance
she says, as we sit out
in the backyard sipping
long island ice teas,
what super power would
you like to have. it's a good
question, because you've
often thought about it
as you waited in
traffic or had a waiter come
up to you as you put
the first bite of food into
your mouth and asked
you how everything was.
heat vision comes to mind
first, where you can
melt anything in your
line of vision.
turning what you see
into ashes. uh huh, she
says, cool. i'd like to have
super strength she says,
as she tries to open a
jar of cashews, with
the lid not budging.
super strength would be
good right now, here,
you try.

the leopard

you grew
up with a kid
named dexter.
he was always
double daring
everyone, and
taking chances.
he once put
a handful of
poison ivy leaves
into his mouth
laughed and said,
see, this won't
hurt me.
the next day
he was in
the hospital
and couldn't
breathe. you're
not sure whatever
happened to him
as time went on
and you parted
ways, but you
are almost certain,
like a leopard
with it's spots,
that he hasn't
changed.

a penny

inflation
has caught up
with a penny
for your thoughts.
it's a dollar now.
so here's one,
now tell me
what goes
on inside
that quiet head
of yours. i
can wait, i
have lots of
dollars, lots
of time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

health club

with your half off coupon
in hand you go and
visit a health club.
you want to be healthy.
it seems to be the way
to go these days. they have
a yoga class there and
a steam room where
you can lie around like
a roman senator and sweat
the wine and pork
out of you. the floor
area reminds you
of a boiler room
in the hull
of a freight ship.
there are lots
of complicated black
machinery.
the faces have that
don't talk to me look
about them as they
huff and puff
on the treadmills,
and cycling machines.
a class of spinners are
in the corner being yelled
at by a drill sargent
who seems angry
about something.
everything has a goo
about it as if it rained
cholesterol and something
is in the air. you wish
they had windows
that opened to let out
the latex sweat soaked
smell. this might not be
for you afterall you
think as you squirt
sanitizer gel onto your
hands, rubbing them
together, and as you leave
you hand your coupon
to a woman
coming in, licking
an icecream cone.
she's wearing a headband
and wristbands, and
pink shoes. her glutes
are being stretched.

the brick wall

you push the first
wheel barrow full
of bricks around
to the side of your yard.
you mix up cement
and carefully, with a
level, lay out the first
line of bricks into
the gouged  and
flattened dirt. you see
your neighbor in
his window, holding
a drink in his hand.
he salutes you with
a smile. you
wave back with your
wet trowel. when you
bring the next load
of bricks around
your neighbor is standing
there on his side of
the adjoining yards
inspecting your work.
what's up, he says,
building something?
you nod, and keep
working. my grandfather
was a brick layer, he
says, sipping on his
drink. did i ever tell you
that? he pulls a lawn chair
closer and watches you
work, laying brick upon
brick. no, you say. you never
told me that. it's true, he
says. after world war
two he came back
and needed work, he
was wounded in iwo jima....
excuse me you say, i need
more bricks. you go
back around for another load.
finally as the sun begins
to set, the wall is high and
solid, thick. you can hardly
hear your neighbor
still talking. your work
is done.

when we were young

she tells me
as she bends over
in her yard
to pull a few weeds
that are encroaching
her petunias
that when she was
in highschool, she
and her friend greta
used to ride around
the beltway naked
and wave at truckers.
at some point
they'd remove
their dresses and take
the silver spring exit
and head north,
which soon became
south towards
richmond.
of course drinking
was involved
and perhaps other
substances that are
now used strictly
for medical purposes.
it was so much fun,
she says, sweating,
and rubbing a
cramp out of her calf.

regret

you invent
a time machine
that takes you
backwards ten to
fifteen minutes
at a time.
and instead of
saying the things
you just said,
you sit there
silently,
bite your tongue
and wipe your
sweaty brow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

soccer mom

she left her cat
of nine tails
behind her.
her pointed
hat, and green
striped stockings
too. they come up
to her boney knees
when she wears them.
her broom, pathetic
as it is for sweeping
rested against the door.
next to a pot of boiling
water with a wooden
spoon. then there was
the note, that said,
be right back, taking
the kids to school.
it's not easy being
a witch, these days,
with soccer and the
minivan, the pta.

the living

she would
pull over onto
the grassy slope
where there were
no graves, not yet.
and say, wait here,
i'll be right back.
sometimes there
was rain,
or a light snow
falling, and the markers
most low and uneven
stretched out across
the rolling
plain, no one
that the world
deemed important
seem to lie here,
no angels stood high,
no marble statues,
or headstones,
but, she came
each year because
blood was
quite enough to pay
respect.

puzzles

there are things
you can't change,
can't undo,
it's too late
to take back
the words spoken,
the note sent,
the call made.
a slip a fall,
a gesture that meant
no harm, but
does. your life
is a puzzle of
misteps, and yet
somehow, every
now and then
a piece slides in
just perfectly to
make sense of
a jumbled board.
that's where you
come in.

holidays

you open up a candy
store on main street.
the world needs candy
and flowers and more
sappy cards. you invent
a series of holidays
to push your products.
guilt is your main
motivation. you have
be a good neighbor day.
hug a cop day.
barista day and women
with blonde hair only
day. red and brunette
days follow in the next
month. ex in law day
is in october. dog day
of course is in august.
there is no holiday
for cats though, they
don't seem to care one
way or the other.
you like that. some of
the holidays though
are just hours. holiday
hours. such as for
your cable guy. he
gets between nine a.m.
and two o'clock on
the day that he may or
may not come. liquorice
is his candy.

the cold night

the fish that slips
from your fingers
as the small boat
rocks in the twilight
water, splashes in
and swims away
with new life. it
wasn't meant to
be, this catch, but
another day will
follow this cold
and hungry night.

the open door


nothing is where
you've left it.
someone has come
into your house
while you were gone.
the bed is made.
the clothes are picked
up and washed,
ironed shirts hang
in the closet.
even the dishes
in the sink are clean
and stacked neatly
on the shelves.
a pot roast is in
the oven,
you can hear the carrots
and potatoes simmering
in garlic and onion.
fresh flowers are
in a vase on the table
where a hand written
note sits waiting
for you to read.
it smells of lilacs.
it says you left the door
open. i hope you
don't mind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

the dance

with music playing,
she liked to take
her clothes off,
pull the blinds up
and toss open the curtains.
she'd turn all the lights on,
then fix a glass of wine
and dance across the room.
beyond the courtyard
the windows full of
lights in the building
that had her in view
would go dark,
their binoculars would
clink against the glass
as she danced and
danced crazily amused.

last day of school

on the last
day of school
on the last bus
ride before going
home for summer
many of the kids
would throw their
notebooks and papers
out the windows
creating a snowstorm
of loose leaf
paper and binders
and pens, and erasers.
most of these kids
were the ones
who never studied
anyway, so it was
strange and symbolic
how they ended
the year the way
it started and carried
through.
very little went home
on any day.

be who you are

i got a message the other
day about someone
wanting to friend me
on facebook. i was rather
surprised since
we hadn't been getting
along very well lately,
and the fact that he
disappeared for a week
without any explanation
was rather odd.
i had no idea
that he could even get
up on the chair and use
his paws to get online.
i was suspicious every now
and then, coming home
from work and seeing
a 'cats gone wild in cancun'
site up and streaming on my
monitor, but i thought it
was a strange glitch of
some sort. there have been
a lot of doggy treats
crumbs on the desk too.
i don't know.
he's a very difficult dog
at times. walking him is
like walking a trout on
a leash, and the incessant
barking and special
dietary needs. who can eat
fried chicken every day?
being friends
at this point on facebook
seems to be pushing
things a bit too far. i just
want him to be a dog
and go chase a ball, or
a squirrel, not be online.
is that so bad?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

the dentist

she starts off pleasantly
enough, how are you,
you look well, vacation?
but then it quickly turns.
you haven't been flossing
have you. i can tell.
you should floss more,
i gave you some,
remember?
then the cardboard slots
go into your mouth
for the x-rays. that mole
on your head, i thought
you were going to take
care of that last year. i
gave you a number.
what happened? are you
going to your mother's
for mother's day? she asks.
but you can't answer on
account of the cardboard
pinching hard against
your gums. so you
shrug. you only have
one mother you know,
she says as she slips on
her lead vest and hides
in the adjoining room
before pressing the red
x-ray button. we all just
have one mother, she
repeats coming back into
the room. she pulls out
the cardboard, as the drool
and blood drip down
your chin in strings.
she mops it up with a
cotton ball, then holds
a syringe
up in the air. you
can see the steel tip
glistening wet. your
eye begins to twitch
and your hands tremble.
i'm not drilling today,
she says, but i'm going
to give you this shot
anyway for not flossing
and for being mean
to your mother.
open wide.

coffee and clouds

it's a day of coffee
and clouds
of reading a page
turning a page
and day
dreaming
it's a day of low
lights, of a clear
calendar,
a day of looking
no further
than the length
of your own hand
reaching
for the cup.

inspection

as you
sit within
the confines
of your car.
waiting to be
waved closer
by the man
at the garage
so that he can
inspect the wipers,
the lights, the brakes,
the tires
and belts,
you think how
worn down
your own bones
are and
wonder if they
too could
pass inspection.

the red dress

you arrive
late for you own
funeral. traffic.
but you have
no way to apologize,
you can see the ones
who have always
grumbled at
inconvenience
grumbling again.
the ones who cared,
still caring,
and the ones just
touching base. you
see her in the red
dress. it's funny
how you know so
many things. how
the light has gone on.
the answers
to why this, why
that. seems silly
in retrospect,
the worry,
the sweats,
the anxious moments
of your life.
how simple
it all seems from
this vantage point.
how only you understand
the red dress.

the strawberry

let me know
at some point,
would you please
what your intentions
are with me,
the plans or no plans
you have in store
for us. let me
know at some point
where we are
going. don't leave
me to die on
the vine, waiting for
you to decide.
i am ripe and sweet
ready to be plucked
and eaten.
don't walk away
and never know
the taste of me.
let me know at some
point if you are willing
to bend and take
me in your hand.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the vamp next door

a vampire has moved
in next door.
or at least she appears
to be one. pale
skin, long black hair,
with red lips.
i've never seen her
in daylight.
she drives a prius,
but i don't think that's
connected to her blood
sucking ways.
at night
she has friends over
i can hear them
singing around a piano,
gershwin, cole
porter that sort of thing.
i see her blue recyling
bin in the morning,
put out by the curb.
it's full of
tomato juice bottles,
and vodka, mostly.
some red bull cans too.
they stay up late, late
into the night, sometimes
when it's a full moon
i can hear some howling,
or some action
going on in the upstairs
bedroom. we share
a wall, and a rather
thin wall at that.
i want to go over and
tell them to keep the noise
down, tell them that i
have work in the morning,
but i don't
want to get bitten.
i'm not sure that my
health care provider would
cover such wounds. so
for now i just lie
there with a wreath
of garlic around my neck,
a sharpened wooden stake
in my hand and listen
to them sing late into
the wee hours.

Monday, May 7, 2012

before the race

the riders
calm
in crimson
silk and yellow.
like exotic birds
with white caps,
jamaican greens
and bluebell
blues. upon the horses
thick with
muscle, gleaming
in the sun.
they sit
placidly upon
their steeds, each
in a hurricanes
eye waiting for
the gun
and their life
to begin.

the rain

things were said
that ended it,
and then it rained
it rained for days.
the water rushed
down the black
streets, never ending,
you could hear
the roar from three
floors up
you could see
the people bent
over in the wind,
with black umbrellas,
their pants wet,
their dresses
soaked and stuck
to their legs. it
rained and rained,
there were no birds
to speak of, no
stray dogs that week,
the world seemed
to be waiting for
the rain to stop,
for the silence of us
to end.

charity

frail
birds on
the sill
clicking beaks
at the glass.
one claw
out, one holding
a sign
saying please
help.
the world
is unfair.
there are not
enough worms
to go around,
not enough
seed.
not enough
trees to make
nests upon.
just get us through
the night.
any bread will
do, but please
not stale,
or white.

barren land

what grief
there is in soil
that won't
take seed, won't
hold a single
plant, or flower.
what good is
land when tilled
that won't give
back. i have
farmed such land
and walked
away with
empty coffers,
and dust
laden hands,
still none
the wiser.

the wind

the wind
has it's way
with everything.
each tree
each stream
lifted
by it's strong
hand
towards
something else
that it wasn't
meant to be,
pushing things
in directions
unknown,
or at least
so it seems.
and how
different are
we
with such wind
upon us.

banjo music

she surpises you
by bringing a banjo
to your house.
everything was going
so well for so long.
the sweet kisses,
the tenderness of touch,
the highbrow
conversations and long
looks of what
could eventually
resemble something
akin to love,
but then there's this
instrument in her hand,
a pic in her mouth,
and she wants to sit
out on the back porch
and play for you
a song she wrote. she's
put her hair into
pigtails and is wearing
a checkerboard dress
with boots.
you steady yourself
with a drink, and say
okay, but already
you know
that the worst
is yet to come.

not the half of it

your watch is right
just twice a day.
the sour cream
has gone bad.
the eggs  bought
a week ago
have hatched
chicks after
leaving them
in the trunk of your
car. you pulled
a bit of cork from
a wine bottle
pinot noir, and
tomorrow you'll
go see the dentist
about a cap. your
watch is right
just twice a day,
but that's not
the half of it.

pink sheets

the red shirt
has turned
the white sheets
pink. miles
davis said
that there are
no mistakes,
but i think
he's wrong in
this case.

amazon

you go online
to buy shoes.
you've searched
and searched
driving the county
to add one more
pair to your
multitudes, but
with no success.
so you go to
store in the sky
to browse
and click off
the numbers on
your card. free
delivery in
the five to ten
days or less.
this could be
the beginning of
a long and
dangerous
relationship.

safe harbor

she likes the rain.
the overcast sky.
the full shadowed
streets of heavy
green trees,
darkened with
by a storm passing.
she can sink
into this safe gloom
this  harbor of sorts.
she can live there
untouched by
what the sun brings
each new
unfolding day.

the leak

despite what you know,
the leak surprises
you, the curled script
of a yellowed line
where it seeps out
and onto the black table
below. haven't you
done so much to keep
things in order,
eating right, exercise,
reading for knowledge
as well as pleasure,
don't you use your signal
making a turn, either
left or right.
isn't gratitude ingrained
within. it doesn't matter.
the leaks will come
regardless, as you well
know, having
brought the bucket up
from the basement
on many occasions.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

a glass of water

gently,
without asking,
she brings you
cold water.
clear and clean
in a glass.
she drops an ice
cube in,
a cut of lemon.
without words
she sets it
on the table
by the window
in reach
and the light
that pours
through it
is hers.

full moon

the moon is never
closer than
this night.
it leans fat
and whole,
beyond the whitest
of whites.
you can almost
reach out and
feel the cool
silt wrinkled
on its ageless
brow.
it makes you wish
it had never
been touched,
but had been left
for lovers,
for poets and children
for all those that wish
upon stars,
and dream too
much.

dog town

it's a dog town.
you see them
in tow, on leashes.
the quick and nimble,
the old and slow.
they bark
and sniff, they lean
and mark
where they've
been where
another dog will
come along,
and go. it's a dog
town.
they bring humanity
to those who
otherwise
would not stop
to speak
and say with
kindess, what kind,
how old.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

sunday at the zoo

the animals
in the zoo seem
tired this sunday
as the tourists
invade the paths
and trails
with strollers
and cones of
cotton candy.
sodas and sandwiches
in hand.
they lanquish
in slouched poses
behind
the old bars
caught and waiting
against their
will. but fed
well too, like those
on the other side.
the apathy seems
mutual.

black boots

i like her in
boots,  long
boots made of
black leather
from toe to
thigh.
she knows it
too.
the way her
hips swing
from side
to glorious side
when strolling
down
the boulevard.
i hear them
clicking
in my sleep
on the hard pavement
as i wait.

hot soup

behind every
fortune
lies a crime
balzac said
and you aren't
sure if it's true
or false
but it reads
well in ink
and is an easy
quote to
remember
and savor
when standing
in line for
a job or
a bowl of hot
soup.

Friday, May 4, 2012

mashed potatoes

they slide a small
plate of indistinquishable
food in the slot
below your cell
door. it's white
and mushy and reminds
you of mashed
potatoes. the kind
they used to serve
at a restaurant near
where you lived.
next to it is a small
slice of grey meat.
the white stuff though
looks like
an old gym sock.
shredded with pebbles
and dirt
sprinkled about.
you are truly sorry
for your crimes.
you would do anything
to break out of this
prison and be back
eating mashed potatoes
covered in butter
and gravy and mushrooms.
your heart aches
for potatoes,
and then you feel
a hand smacking against
your head, hey, hey,
what are you dreaming
about, you're dooling
on me and biting some
sensitive areas.

home run

you take a hard
swing
and miss.
the bat ripples
against
the summer
air. heat rising
against the green
acres of oufield.
you can see
the fence from
home plate. the arc of
seats with sleepy
fans  waiting, wanting
something to
happen.
the next pitch comes
and your hips
turn, your
shoulders tighten,
your eyes narrow
as your heart
triples its beat.
you swing, extending
your arms with bat
in fisted hands
and once more
and miss.  but then
you see the pitcher
smirk and smile,
relax his stance,
and shake his head.
that's all it takes.
the next pitch is yours
and you drive it
deep deep deep
into center field
and over the neon wall.

no vote

on board
with nothing.
no platform seems
to ring your
bell melt your
proverbial butter.
which direction
do you go,
which switch
gets pulled to
make this
world as you
think you know
it whole.
say something
you want to yell,
say anything
that makes sense.
clear and sharp.
why do these voices
warble
year after year.

fish within fish

you pull in a large
fish, he's taken the hook
and bait and swallowed it
whole, but when you
reel him aboard you
see that he has swallowed
a smaller fish and in
that fish is another fish,
and on and on again.
you don't know where to
begin, which one to eat,
which one to throw back.
your life is built on
consequences that you
have no power over.

getting away

your sister
in florida
sends a picture
of her on a
raft in her pool.
she is happy
in her calm
waters
wearing her
shades with a
cold drink in hand.
it took awhile
but she found
her way
by getting away.

over the fence

you see the kid
next door
climbing over
the fence. she can
barely make it, still
at that age of being
a gumdrop in shape,
but manages
to slide over
the chain linked
stretch that keeps
the woods at bay.
when she sees you,
she stops and moves
the hair out of her eyes,
adjusts a band around
her wrist
and says, oh. hi. i was
just taking a short
cut. the quick blush
on her face hints that
she may have been up
to something, but it's
fine. we all are to
a certain degree.

witchcraft

you don't know how,
but your hand or hands
have hit a button
or two on your keyboard
and now everything is
suddenly different
and strange. what's
that blinking, you don't
know. the large icons,
the odd font lifted
somehow from the font
file. the extra large filled
screen that takes away
your ticking clock
your favorite spot.
a voice appearing out
of nowhere, apparations
of places you have
been, or are being begged
to visit. it's all witchcraft
in it's most devious
form, this computer.

knitting

you see them
in the coffee shops
their eyes down,
the clinking sound
as they sit close to
one another.
the yarn ball moving
with a life of it's
own, growing
smaller while the
sweater, or scarf or
hat becomes what it
will be. they talk
and wander in their
conversation, the needles
moving rapidly
over and over and over
as the morning wears
on. it's a meditaion
of sorts. making
something out of nothing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

moon string

you see a string
dangling in the night air.
and so you pull it gently.
the moon moves with it.
you tug it closer, then
walk it about the lawn.
it's light as air, as white
as white can be.
this makes you happy
having charge of the moon,
having so little else
to be tied to. you like
this string attached.

on ice

you don't necessarily
like hockey.
but you like ice,
the idea of a blue pond
indoors, frozen,
and watching people
skate.
the blood and violence
is no fun,
but it's interesting
just the same. the zip
and zoom of the puck,
black as coal
carroming off the glass,
the pipes that ring
out, the legs and arms,
and even heads of
hot faced men.
the desperation of it
all is all consuming
to those banging
against the glass.
the bells chimming,
the buzz and organ music
adding to the chaos
of the game.

wild fire

the smoke
from her fire
makes you blink,
rub your eyes.
it fogs the present,
hides the past. she
is two sticks rubbed
together over
kindling and dry paper.
you can only imagine
if the flame grows
higher, spreads
like wild fire.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

309 dorchester

you pass by your old house.
the one you grew up in with
three brothers and three sisters.
a few dogs, a cat
with six kittens, a
chicken and a rooster
with a bandaged leg. there
may have been a hamster
around as well, and a
parakeet in a cage.
the parents were somewhere
too.that part seems vague.
in passing the house is small,
much smaller than you
remember, but isn't that
the way things always are.
the grass being greener,
the sky bluer, the streets
longer and wider.
you don't stop.
it's not a neighborhood where
you can stop and get out
and walk around. the woman
on the porch where you once
sat is holding a baby.
she stares at you. no one
offers a wave.
the children in the street
throwing a ball  wait
impatiently
for your car to pass by,
hands on their boney
hips. they are you now.

water and love

not unlike love
water
turns into
steam
after a summer
storm, or into
ice, or snow
perhaps when
winter comes.

the fear

you see the nannies
together with a gaggle
of children, small,
just walkable with
arched eyebrows and
open mouths surprised
at everything they see.
they are walking
in a tied line down
the street, linked together
for their own protection.
only able to go so
far left or right, unable
to stray from the pack
and explore what the world
holds strange
and  mysterious.
and you think as you
ride by, that this is
maybe where it starts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

getting directions

you can't get there
from here, the man says
as you roll down
the window and ask
for directions. he
shields his head with
a newspaper as
the rain falls. you
have to go all the
ways around, go back
to the light and make
a u turn, then go left
and circle. but it's
a one way street, so
you have to go one
more block make a
right, then another
right and then you
are going in the right
direction. you want
to go north, right,
he says.
the rain is dripping
down his face,
there is a piece of
lettuce or brocolli
caught between his teeth,
and his feet are in
the gutter as water
rushes over his shoes.
no you say.
south. oh, well, in
that case, keep going
straight, you're
almost there.

a man calls

a man calls
you on the phone.
he needs work done.
he tells you that you worked
for him twenty years
ago. he says his name.
you remember him.
he had nylons and garter
belts and long leather
boots, all his,
always hanging in
his shower, drying out
from some escapade the night
before. he was drunk
or near drunk quite often
by mid afternoon. white wine.
sometimes he wore nail
polish, or had forgotten
to take off his lipstick
when he came to the door
in his shiny robe.
sometimes there were
people sleeping in
the tub, or on the balcony
slouched over
in a yellow lawn chair.
everyone seemed to have
had a mustache.
he would often hand me
a check and sign it.
just fill in the number of
what you want, he'd
say, then go back to sleep
as you rolled out a ceiling,
or hung another strip
of flock black wallpaper
onto the dining room walls.

patience

the bird
wouldn't sing
for her as it
clutched
her thumb
rattling it's
jungle green
plumage. it
never mimicked
her words.
no, hello sweetie.
hello.
it liked to bite.
instead
and caw
and caw
and caw.
the only way
to silence
it was by throwing
a blanket onto
the cage
to make it dark
but then there
was the cat too
who owned
the patience
of centuries
of being a cat.

when you were young

when you were young
you stretched out in
the soft dry grass at night
and stared into the sky.
for hours on end, alone,
and watched the stars.
the meteors in thin
quick flashes go by.
you realized how
impossibly large it all
was and how you too
were a part of it
in some strange way.
and now when
you are old, and lie
back to stare up at
the same sky, you see
how nothing has changed,
or is understood more,
not even you.

you hear a siren

you smell something
burning, leaves perhaps.
a small fire in the dry woods.
you see the plume of blue
smoke rising through
the trees. you hear a gun
shot and see people
running. a woman scream.
you hear a siren
in the distance. the world
is full sirens, all being visited
in their own time.

no secret

no secret
lies still for long
having a life
of it's own
in the dark.
growing
fingers to pry
away the boards
that inevitably
when cracked
bring light.

picnics

you have relatives
who don't
like you and the feeling
is mutual.
you don't quite
understand why
it's this way, but
it is. it's seasonal
for the most part,
picnics seem to be
easier. passing
the potato salad
out in the sun
with the wind blowing
when you can
hardly hear what
anyone is really
saying and you
have a common
interest in keeping
the ants away.

simplify

you bend over
in the rain
rushing to the bus
to tie your shoe.
the shoelace
breaks
when you pull
it too tight,
it's been worn
and wet
so often
that the threads
are bare.
you knot
the broken
ends together
making it
short and hard
but it works
well enough
to get you through
the day. you
ponder a life
with just loafers.