Friday, June 29, 2012

a new planet

a new planet
has been discovered
and scientists are
wetting there
collective pants
with excitement.
it's past pluto
and saturn
in fact it's beyond
our solar system,
so far out that you
can't actually see
it. but they know
it's there because
a small tiny shadow
appears on
jupiter when the sun
swings to an
exact point of
alignment. i'm getting
sleepy with
this new planet.
is there a starbuck's
there. a pool.
perhaps a nice
steakhouse with a
juicy ribeye?
air conditioning.
why go there if they
don't have these things.

making myself taller

a new neighbor moves
in across the courtyard.
a swedish stewardess
who goes by the name Lenka.
she is about six feet tall
in her heels
so you try to make yourself
taller by stretching
your legs and hanging
from a bar you've
secured in the doorframe
of your laundry room
with potatoes strapped
to your ankles.
you do this for weeks on
end, but it makes your arms
hurt after about ten minutes.
you measure yourself
after two months of stretching
but it seems that you
might be a little bit
smaller. you put on your
jeans and now you have
to cuff them. people are
calling you shorty, hey
shorty, watch where you're
walking, i couldn't even
see you over the hood
of my car. you start getting
calls from the circus
and stunt double movies
involving small cars
and clowns. this has not
worked out the way you
thought it would. sadly you
look out your window,
and there's Lenka
walking to her car. she has
a date with her and
her arm is lowered
around his shoulders while
she pats his head.
i can see by his shoes
that he has lifts and cuban
heels.

shoes

you grew up
sliding cardboard
into the holes
of your worn
sneakers, so now
you have many
shoes. there
is a pattern
as to which ones
you purchase.
black or brown.
walking or running.
then there are the
basketball shoes.
high tops. you
know why you
keep buying them,
but it's the stopping
that's hard.

mirage

in the desert
you can make
yourself believe
that there is water
and trees,
a blessed oasis
not far beyond
the next dune
as you crawl
on hands and knees.
driving into
work on
a monday,
is not unlike
that at times.

on a sugar cone

i feel
the same
way about
a double
scoop
of ice cream
as i do
about you.
cool and pale
round
and soft,
sweet
and refreshing
on a sugar
cone.

the clean slate

the heat today
caused all of my
tattoos
chronicling
my loves
and losses
throughout
my life
to melt
and run down
my arms and legs
into my shoes.
the warm blue
green ink
squishes when
i walk, but
i'm a clean
slate once
again.

weaknesses

you have
weaknesses,
you know that.
they are often
pointed
out to you
during dramatic
exits and breakups.
no one ever leaves
and says
you were a wonderful
lover and cook.
you were so much
fun to be around.
i loved the way
you whispered
in my ear. no.
instead, you hear
those other awful
things. you try to
defend yourself by
saying, i'm sorry.
i'm a work in progress,
but to no avail.
that only causes
squinting eyes,
and silence before
the door slams.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the monkey in the other room

in the other room
between bites of bananas
there is a monkey
typing. i can hear
the printer going wild
all night long.
i shut my door, annoyed
at his prolific
production. finally
i go in and look at
what he's done, what
he's written. there
are stacks of neatly
piled papers on
the floor. all of it is
worthy of shakespeare,
of updike and boyle,
of austen and hardy.
the poetry is sweet too.
full of love and mystery.
dark and light. his prose
will change the world.
i hate that monkey.

going down with the ship

as the sun sets
your ship has
run aground
against the rocks.
the bottom
compromised
with a long tear.
it sinks slowly
as you secure
your life
perserver. but
you aren't worried.
you've survived
many sinkings,
many ships,
many cold nights
in  deep water.
you  go down
quite well with
the ship.

the long list

clever
how the stars
come out
and shine
how the blue
and sun
subside and lets
us see what else
there is we
don't know about,
the list being so
long.

the yellow ball

a yellow
ball is in your
yard.
a kid must
have kicked it
over the fence.
but the gate
being locked
it couldn't
be retrieved.
you line it
up and drop
it to your foot
which swings
and sends
the yellow ball
high into the trees
where it sticks
between
the branches.
there must be a
moral to this
somewhere.

chickens and roosters

riding up king street
you are struck
by the yard
that is full
of chickens,
fat with feathers,
white and brown,
and a rooster
with a crimson
neck. you slow down
to take a closer
look as they peck
steadily at seed
spread on the grass.
you laugh and ride
on. it has made you
strangely happy
to see them.

identity theft

someone steals your identity.
you've been careless online
with your browsing and lack
of a complicated password
to keep the predators out.
when you bought
a heating pad for your leg
on craigslist last week, that
may have been the little door
they crawled through.
and now they, or he
or she, or perhaps a very
smart dog with flexible
paws has become you.
angry at first you breathe
out and in, letting it go.
your extensive yoga training
has prepared you for this
very day. through bills
in the mail you follow
the path of the new you.
it is one of travel and fun.
luxuries abound.
a new car, a rolex. a fur
coat. you see the restaurants
that they are dining at.
new york, south beach.
london and rome. you
are envious of the new
you. you wish that you too
were doing all the things
that they were doing.
it makes you sad to think
how you have wasted
your life by not having fun
like they are.

counting steps

i know the number
of steps from
the curb up the stairs
to the elevator
then down the hall
to your door.
it's the same
number leaving.
i've counted them
both ways
so many times.
but the last count
was the hardest.

open windows

slipping out
of shoes
out of clothes
and gloves,
a hat
removed.
the cold floor
against your
toes.
the moon
in a window.
the sheets
pulled back
and the pillow
cool. the
windows
wide open
for any bird
that calls.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

one hundred degrees

it's a very hot
day so you take
off all your clothes
except for your
underwear
and go out into
the back yard
where you spray
yourself with your
garden hose.
your neighbor
looks out her window
and sees what
you're doing
and comes out too.
spray me, she
says, taking off
her clothes. before
you know it the
whole block is in
your yard in
their underwear
getting sprayed
with your long
green hose.
soon drinking is
involved. someone
makes a nice clam dip
with chips. another
person brings jello.
it doesn't take long
before everyone
has forgotten how
annoying everyone
else is and squeal with
delight as a gush
of water hits
them in the head.

the flat tire

you get out of your truck,
hearing the tap tap tap
of a nail in your tire.
you see the silver head
gleaming in the sunlight
which makes you say
a word that rhymes
with truck. you
get a pair of pliers
out. you pull the nail
halfway and hear the air
sssssing out. you push
it back in and call triple
A. you've been giving
them two hundred dollars
a year for thirty years
which amounts to
six thousand dollars.
when they show up
the man says that they
don't cover tires with the
nail half out and the tire
not flat, but we'll fix
it for thirty dollars.
he just had his wisdom
teeth pulled and his
beared face is swollen
on both sides. he's a
very large chipmunk
in greasy overalls.
drooling and almost
incoherent
he askes his assistant,
a kid in flip flops to pull
the nail and plug
the hole so that he doesn't
rip out his stitches.
the kid pulls the nail
and plugs it in about
one minute. you give
him thirty dollars.
everyone is happy.
you go in to take a nap.

the lunch box

in the third grade
the lunchbox was
plaid, red and white
green squares
with wavy dizzing
stripes. there was
a thermos inside
with milk, just
slightly cold. then
the tuna sandwich
neatly wrapped
in saran wrap,
a small bag of
potato chips,
two oreo cookies,
an apple. who wants
an apple? it was
very hard to trade
up with a tuna
sandwich on white
bread with onions
and mayo. just once
you wanted to open
that steel box
and pull out a ham
on rye with brown
mustard. a brownie
and an ice cold
nehi orange soda,
or a budweiser.

peace and love

you can smell
the marijauna
burning. still
in their lungs,
relics from
the sixties.
peace, love
and no war.
marching and
protest no
longer on their
minds. valet
parking seems
more important
now. glucosomine.
hot tea.
pony tailed
and hanging
on. awaiting
that first
social security
check while
the records
still spin,
hendrix and joplin.
ten years after
the who. it's not
over, but it's
getting dark.

Monday, June 25, 2012

the loose thread

it's only
a loose thread
you tell her,
white and thin
waving in the air
as you walk along
discussing
an argument
you had a year ago.
what harm in
pulling it off,
and pulling
and pulling.
don't she says,
i'll cut it off
when we get
home. but you
pull some more.
you can't
let things go
can you, she says.
watching the shirt
fall into your hands.

answered prayers

you open
the door and
see two neatly
dressed young men
in white shirts
and ties. black
pants, holding
bibles and pamphlets
proclaiming the truth
and salvation.
they want to put
you on the right
path. how did
they possibly know?
they are so
young, so bright
and so far removed
from real life.
but you listen
to them while
you hold the door
ajar, just enough.
then it begins to rain,
and your prayer
is answered, they
have to leave.

the small stuff

my therapist
marge told
me many years
ago that
if you see
the book don't
sweat the small
stuff on the shelf.
it's a red flag.
be forewarned
and tread
cautiously
before you
proceed
further in this
relationship.
i gave her
a double fee
after that session.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

two goats

you go around
the room
and say your piece.
what's new
in your life.
what plans do you
have for the summer
as vacation begins.
and it's the same
for most, a new
book, a trip
to the shore
or mountains.
perhaps a garden,
or the rooms painted
with a fresh coat.
but then someone
says that
she's acquired
two goats.
which makes
everyone both happy
and amazed.
what more is there
to say.

you live next door

you slide the key
into the lock
but it doesn't turn.
it's stiff and tight,
unmoving
the tumblers
and latch
won't budge. it's not
your house, and
your neighbor
comes to the window
and waves
and tells you through
the screen that
you live next door.
and she's right,
you know that, but
you just needed
a change of scenery
and gave it a shot.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

lap dog

when she wears
her high heels
she's six foot three
inches tall.
and with her big
hair stacked
high onto her
head, she's even
larger and has
to duck going into
elevators.
but you love her
just the same.
you like
how she pats you
on the head and
pulls you by
your ear. when
she puts her lips
together and
whistles, you
get on your hind
legs and beg
for something
sweet. she owns
you.

paint it white

sometimes
there is a lull
in love, there is
boredom with
work,
in thinking.
the world slows
down to a crawl.
no spice,
no fireworks
in the sky,
it's just another
day passing
by, paint it grey,
paint it
white, savor
it's calm respite.

crab time

let's eat out, you tell
her. let's go down to the shore
and find a place
near the water. sure, she
says, let me get my
flip flops. crabs? she says.
do you want to eat crabs?
sure you tell her, i think
they are only three hundred
dollars for a dozen now,
and some are almost
as big as the palm of your
hand. oh stop she says.
it's a good season for crabs.
they should be free you
tell her, they are the insects
of the waterworld. plus
we have to break them
open with hammers
and pliers then lather
them in butter. it's a lot of
work. quit whining,
she says. holding her
own hammer, chisel,
a stick of butter and neosporin.
let's go eat some crabs.
i'm ready. do they have
those hush puppies, you ask
her. i love those hush
puppies.

the lost shoe

you can't find
your other shoe.
it's gone.
and you have no
one to blame it
on but yourself.
in the past
you'd grab the dog
look into
his eyes and question
him until he broke
and pointed with
his paw where
it was.
but now
you have to crawl
on the floor
and look under
the bed where there
are many things
you also thought
were lost.

the wallpaper

she has all day
to talk
as you position
the paper
onto the wall
brushing it
slowly into
place. setting
the level on
the edge.
she sips her
coffee and nibbles
at  pastry.
her mind
wanders as
she watches
you work.
the husband,
the children
the dog. all things
in the distant
past are
on the table
are in the photos
on the mantle.
her long hands
blue veined
and slender
tremble at the future.
but she likes
the paper. the paper
she says, with it's
roses and trees
and fields
is wonderful.

Friday, June 22, 2012

dinner's ready

you smell your mother's
stew seeping out from
the black casement
windows and hear her
voice calling everyone in
as summer wrings
you wet with running.
you see her at the screen
door, apron on, her black
hair pulled back,
her glasses slipping
on her nose. come in,
come in. she yells, dinner's
ready. now.  you
look and wave and yell
back, just one more
out, one more run,
one more sprint
around the chalk
made bases, one more
stretching of
the day a little longer.

the moon

how isn't the moon
like you.
the moon is cold
and distant,
with craggy
craters to get lost
in. the moon
has no air
to breath when
in its presence.
it has a dark side.
the moon orbits
the earth and is not
the sun it thinks
it is. okay, maybe
you are the moon.

the eighty yard run

you remember
the time you took
the ball and  swept
right in the high grass
turning the corner
arms and legs in motion
seeing the whole
field. seeing
the blue sky,  feeling
the pure energy
of the moment.
your lungs full
of autumn air.
swerving with high
steps, juking,
galloping towards
open field
untouched for
eighty yards.
the memory has
served you well
over the years,
keeping you young.
keeping you
both here and there.

baby world

you see them
out and about
the new moms
the new dads
with ashen faces
uncombed hair
and mismatched
clothes strapping
in the newborn
babies into cars
and strollers,
seats and swings.
straps and buckles
flying loose or tight.
bottles and binkies
rolling down
the streets
and sidewalks
just out of reach
of little pink
fingers and groaning
women and men.
helpless and needy
the newborns let you
know what's not right.
the second one
is always easier
or so i've heard.

poetry on the run

some of these
are done.
some are undone.
some are
in the oven
baking, some
are burned
from being in too
long. others will
never see the light
of day,
some rhyme,
some don't.
a cliche or two
or three may
be seasoned in
at times. i know.
misspellings abound,
wrong word choices.
bad metaphors
spring up like weeds.
repetition,
yes, repetition
too.
but choose to read,
or don't read. i write
not for you, but
for me.

the line up

turn left
now right, face
forward, stand up
straight.
there are nine
of you and
everyone looks
a little bit
guilty about
something.
finally the woman
points at you
and says,
it's him.
that's my son.
he never calls
or comes to
visit. i hardly
recognize
his face it's so
lean, so thin.
are you eating?
sunday, i'll put
a plate out. five
o'clock.

zip me up

he puts his leg
up on the window
sill, lights a cigarette
and opens up
a magazine. i've got
all day he says.
i can wait all
day. five more
minutes she yells
from the bathroom.
i can't get my
hair right, the mirror
is fogged from
your steamy
shower. can you
come in here and
zip me up.
no,  he tells her.
you're on your own
this time.
we'll never get out
of here if i come
in there again.

edit it

the details
of the brush fire
poem
are sketchy,
through instead
of threw,
than and then
confused,
the prepositions
binding
what doesn't
need to be
bound. the tie
in sentence at
the end to make
sure everyone gets
it. this is not
permanent
ink, you want
to scream. i'm
working here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

the lettuce eater

when you faint, she tells
you, fold yourself over and
slip gently to the floor,
do it slow and easy so that
you don't hit your head.
if you're ironing try to pull
the plug on the way down,
or turn it off before it all
goes black. do this and you'll
be okay. an hour or  two
will pass and you'll wake up.
go to the kitchen and sprinkle
some nuts onto a wedge
of romaine lettuce, you'll
be alert in no time.

the dust bowl

you fall in love
with a woman who
doesn't love you.
but you press on
despite knowing
the end results.
you plant seeds,
you water the sprouts,
you dig out the weeds
and put a small
fence up to keep
the rabbits out.
but in the end
there is no harvest.
there is only dust
and dirt and starting
again.

in your best interest

the first question my
lawyer asked
when filing for divorce
was how much money
did i make and i said,
why, what does that
matter. he answered
with a smile. i need
to know when it runs
out so that we can
wrap it up and call it
a day. of course it's
in the best interest
of all parties concerned,
he said, oh and for
your son too.
the gleam from his
jewelry was like looking
into the sun and injured
both my retinas.

poking things with a stick

i like to poke dead
things with a stick
your friend emily
tells you, picking
one up as you walk
along the shore.
take that fish
for example. dead,
right? watch me
poke it and flip
it over. or that
muskrat over there
near the rocks. i
need a long stick
for that. yup, it's
dead. it has no eyes,
but the teeth are all there.
what's wrong with you,
you ask her, shaking
your head? leave
those dead things alone.
she throws
the stick into the river.
lunch? she says,
my treat. umm, sure.
but let's wash our
hands first.

those grapes, perhaps

you ponder the orange.
the bright glow
of it's skin under
the neon store lights.
you take one from
the top of the pyramid
that the man in
the blue apron placed
just right. balanced
and neat. he eyes you
eyeing the orange you
may or may not purchase.
but it's beyond the skin
that you need to know
if the bite is sweet,
if the bite is cold, should
you buy not one, but
all that your arms
can hold. you put it
back, there are other
things that hold your
interest, those grapes
perhaps.

going mad

going mad
is not so bad.
the three square
meals per
day. the made
bed, the trash
going out
on a regular
basis. no bills
to pay. no
calls coming
in, or going out.
yes, going mad
can be quite nice.
if one plays
his cards
just right.

the summer pool

how divine
the blue pool
is before the first
dive in. how serene
the surface lies
with the sun sprinkling
soft stars upon it.
i can hardly wait
for the whistle to blow
to frolic in its wetness,
to feel the depth
of its cool current.
that's how i feel
towards you as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the cut

your hand
feels the cut
of the sharpest
knife that gleams
in the kitchen
drawer. the blood
is rich and red
as it laps
your thumb
and palm.
the cold water
rinses it clean
but the blood
still comes.
and standing there
like you are
you remember
the time your mother,
distracted,
cut her thumb
in the same way,
when you were
a child
and how she
stood there and said,
like you. it's fine.
i'll be okay.

the carnival

in the summer
the bright green and red
lights, the blue tints
and yellow bulbs
go on like a cloud
of translucent and colorful
vapor past the woods
and houses to the empty
lot. the carnival is
in town. you can hear
the music, confetti
in your ears, as the metal
wheels squeak and moan
in motion and the smell
of cotton candy lifts
it's sugary scent
all the way to you.
the ferris wheel rises tall
and swings gently
with children and new
lovers whose hands
still hold the torn
ticket stubs. how the world
evolves you don't
know, but this doesn't
change, rarely does
a summer pass and
become fall without
the carnival blooming
in the hot desert of a small
town night.

the glass is full

unsweetened is her
tea with a bitter slice
of lemon, cut like
a pointed moon,
wedged on the glass
lip. ice clinks
clear and cold as she
sips. the world moves
on without her, but
it's okay. she's safe
from love for another
year, another day.
her glass is full.

the long story

my father is reading
again the book
i sent him last year.
he sits in the sun
with a magnifying glass
a cold beer
on his lawn chair
and swats the bugs
away with a swatter.
slowly he'll scan
the words, lingering
on a page, then turning
it. slowing down time.
slowing down his
own long story.

heaven and hell

you ponder hell.
the possibility of
burning in a lake
of fire. and you agree
that there are those
without conscience
who should swim
there. but what of
heaven and it's cool
pristine lake of joy.
who deserves that,
can earn that and buy
his way in. not one,
or so it seems.

the magician

the magician bows
and takes
his time
sawing a woman
in a red  dress
in half who may
or may not be
his lover, or
his wife. but there
is glee on his face
as his arms
work the saw.
he knows
the ending as we
do. we are all in
on the trick, but
still you wonder
if something
could go wrong.
we are all
at the saw each
day, hoping for
the best.

you enter

you enter the room
by leaving another.
the breath you hear
is just the wind
coming and going
from your lungs.
there is no one there
to tell you this, you
just know. it's always
been this way.
the arriving and leaving
of others,
the emptying of
boxes. the filling
of boxes. this is
your life.

catfish

feeling the strike
and waving motion
of the clear filament
along the bottom
of the dark creek
you shake your
head.  you reel
in the heavy fish
and see it's whiskered
cheeks and horseshoed
mouth clamping
down against
the hook. wide
shouldered, it's grey
sleek skin shines
in the sunlight,
it's black eyes
unblinking. catfish,
you say to no one
and get the pliers out.

old news

crisp clippings
of news
yellowed
with bites of
flame in black
teeth marks
on its edges
fall out
from the mantle
when the bricks
come down.
the war is over
it says.
cloudy with a
chance or rain.
strange
how nothing really
changes.

happy hour

she looks at your new
shirt and says, very
nice, where did you
get that. i like it.
blue is your color.
i made it, you tell
her. you made it, you
made that shirt, she
says pulling on the
sleeve. hey, be careful,
i just ironed it.
she pulls the tag out
the back and reads,
calvin klein. right
mr. klein, you made
this shirt. yes, you
tell her. i did, and
i've changed my name
too. should we get
another round?

life saver

once again
peanut butter
has saved your
life, kept you
from passing
out into a
coma from
lack of
nourishment.
it is the only
thing that stands
by, that waits
patiently
in its plastic
jar for you to
come home to.
and jelly,
lets not forget
its close
friend mr.
blueberry jam
in its short
squat jar
with the lid
stuck tight.

rising

awash in dream
you pause
and lie longer
on the white sheets.
the curtain
parts with your
stretched hand
showing the blue
oasis of sky,
the silver leaves
turning in
the shadows. this
could be your
summer, staying
put like this.
nothing changing,
no one leaving.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the white shirt

while eating
spaghetti
wearing a long
sleeve buttoned
down white shirt
you pinwheel
with a fork
and spoon
a thousand red dots
across your chest.
it's not funny,
but she thinks
it is and laughs
and laughs.
the wine
that dribbles
on your sleeve
and collar
as you take a
big drink
is inconsequential
at this point.

telepathy

unable to ever get
your reclusive self
on the telephone
i use telepathy instead.
i lie still
in bed place my
fingers on my temple
and think
the things i'd say
if you were here, or
on the line.
sometimes i say
things that surprise me
and would
you too, but you'll
never know what they
are because, well,
you won't pick up.

the milkshake

i make a milk
shake the old
fashioned way.
i put a few spoons
of sugar into
a cold glass
of cow juice,
a splash of
vanilla, drink
it all down,
then i jump and
jump and jump
until it's all
shakened up
inside my
belly. it's a
pretty sight.

the secret key

the spare key
to the front door
is in a magnetic
black box attached
to the inside
of the window
well out front.
it's the only
secret i have
that i'm not
afraid to tell,
and you?

Monday, June 18, 2012

the photo

you find
a photograph
of yourself
and your brother
tucked in a box
in the basement.
four by four
squared and scalloped
in black and white.
standing
in the barcelona
sun, with school
satchels in
hand, hair combed
and shirts neat
with small
boy ties. how
your memory saved
that moment
as the camera
clicked and your
mother said smile
you don't know.
but you still do
as you hold the photo
and sigh.

stray cat

stray cats
on the fence
pondering
which side
to jump.
hearing
the dog's
bark, the rattle
of a can.
those nine
lives
are lessened
by one, with
each wrong
choice.
how you wish
to be a cat
sometimes.

another song

the distant music
fresh and new
alive in your hips
is your youth.
the record skipping
was yesterday
unable to move
on to the next note.
you wake up
to silence
and put your ear
to the floor,
to the wall awaiting
another song.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

the ocean

in separate rooms
you divide
your lives
where once
there was the soft
touch of
hands, of knees,
of thighs, but now
that tide
of love has turned
receded towards
another shore.
leaving both alone
in the ocean
of a house
with long halls,
closed doors.

fractions

you've forgotten
much of the math
you learned
during your school
days. it's in there
somewhere, but
dormant like
locust with no
season to appear.
how hard you studied
and drew the lines
of orbs and spheres,
the fractions
and whole numbers.
the equations
of those days
have slipped and
slipped, like so much
else, away.

the story teller

the story teller
in his beard
and crooked
hat upon a shaggy
head of grey
hair, holds
a light as he
walks his
fares down
the narrow streets
of cobblestone
and wet alleys.
his thin ghost
stories, recieve
no oohs, or ahhs,
just pleasant nods,
and smiles,
while the bored
children stare
at their sneakered
feet.
the world is
different now.
we've seen too
much.

the night

the night went
on and someone said
something
about how the fireflies
were plentiful
this year, and how
bright the stars
were this far out near
the sea. then there
was silence
for a short while
as everyone listened
to the waves
washing up. that seemed
to be enough
to fill the air.

the bee hive

like a bee
hive struck
with a long
stick
her words
pour out and
out in all
directions.
you listen
and try to
connect the
buzzing dots
hoping soon
that a point
is made, to
understand
the swarm of
thoughts
that comes in
waves
and waves,
but either way
it's fine.
she has no
stingers, she's
always kind.

good dreams

how kind
the world is
when
things are right.
when the summer
moon sets
white and fine
upon a darkening
sky. how kind
the world is
when life
is quiet
and the arms
of sleep welcomes
you to good
dreams.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

something more

it's not about
the trickle
of water
that clinks
against
the drain
as the night
wears on.
it's not about
the hum
of the air
conditioner.
or the branch
scratching
it's soft summer
nails against
the window.
no, there's
something more
that makes
you turn
the pillow over
and start
again.

the wind

a small breath
of wind find it's
way through
the cracked
window.
it seeps and sighs
as it eeks into
your room and ear.
it's  telling
you things you've
heard before,
but still don't
want to hear.

testing

the new law
and rules say that
we each have to take
a test before proceeding
to the next year
of our lives.
it's a two hour exam
with a number two
pencil. no cheating,
no looking at
the other person's desk,
or talking. it's both
multiple choice
and essay. begin now
the teachers says
as the clock ticks
down. you begin
to sweat, your hands
tremble.  you gulp
and look at the first
question. you wish you
would have studied
more, done more,
read more books
been a better person,
but no. what goals
have you accomplished
the first question
says. show your
work.

Friday, June 15, 2012

the dry trough

careless
the barn care taker
forgets
to fill the trough
with water
and you see
the bite marks
of horses
at the hard bottom,
desperate,
dry mouthed
and hot
they keep leaning
in with hope.
how we do that
to ourselves
sometimes, in
not giving love.

mr. sweeny

mrs. sweeny
comes for tea on
thursday in her
periwinkle dress and
hair in a perfect
bun, she sits
and stirs one lump
into her cup.
one dash of cream.
sometimes she'll
bring her cat,
and place it in
her lap, petting it
in long thoughtless
strokes as we discuss
the weather,
the news, places
she's been to,
and who
she used to be.
mrs. sweeny
comes on thursday
for tea. mr. sweeny
is never mentioned.

you don't know me

how much more
misunderstood
can you be,
or anyone for
that matter.
you aren't sure,
but you'll find another
level before days end.
another word
written, or said.
a nod a glance,
the words you leave
sitting on
the table, unspoken.
there isn't just
one key
that unlocks
the self within
but a thousand.
unlike oscar wilde
who feared not
being misunderstood,
you cringe
and lose sleep.

to what end

to what
end these
birds seeking
seed
and building
nests. in what
circle
of life
and death
are they welcome
to, no different
than the rest
of us, with
or without wings.

what kept you

a wave
or two
laps
warmly
upon your
feet
as you
position
your chair
in the sand.
you lift
a seashell
to your
ear and it
whispers
sweetly,
what kept
you.

the rebate

you see on the bold
red sign,
with letters a foot
tall, that it's a steal,
a deal at this price.
the rebate is
a hundred dollars
after the item
is already
marked down
to holiday prices.
how can you resist.
all you need
to do is follow
the vaguely inked
receipt instructions
that are on a scroll
three feet long
and send it in
within thirty
days of purchase.
your hundred
dollars will
come flying back
to you in the form
of credit to that store,
if you've
signed and dated
somewhere
on that elusive
dotted line.

temptation

a black car
circles
the block
slowly
with darkened
windows.
you mow
your lawn
and watch
it ride by.
on the second
or third time
around
it stops
and a window
eases down.
a woman
leans her
pretty face out
and asks
you what you
are doing
with your life,
mowing the lawn
like you do.
stop and come
with me, she says.
but i have a wife
and children
you tell her.
a job, a 401 K,
and my dog
would miss
me. what would
people say?
i don't know she
says, tell me,
but make it quick
i have other
stops today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

youv'e got no hazel

finally low
on clothes
you go down
to the laundry room
and gather all your
clean ones off
the big chair you've
designated as the clean
clothes depository.
it takes three trips
up the steps. some
in your arms, some
in a big white plastic
basket that you reserve
mostly for socks.
white and black.
a few crazy  brown
ones too.
you pile the small
moutain into the middle
of your livingroom
floor and begin to
fold them as you watch
tv and answer the phone.
sometimes you take a
break to eat a sandwich.
you have a system.
it's a simple system,
but just the same
it works for you.
in neat, but wobbly
stacks you put them
all in rows ready for
the flight up to their
empty drawers. you
hate doing laundry, but
what are the options.
you've got no hazel.

things will change

the blue light
twinkles
like a prayer
coming
through the blinds
despite being
a neon sign
selling
liquor and beer.
but still it's
good as she
lies in bed alone.
with the clock
ticking ever
so slowly
towards dawn.
tomorrow things
will be different
she tells herself.
things will
change.

bikini car wash and God

at the start of
summer
a bikini car
wash opens up
in front of
the adult sex
shop down the street.
it's located across
from st. bernadette's
catholic church.
the women are in high
heels and bathing
suits as they suds
the cars, then hose
them off in the hot sun.
the traffic stalls
in both directions
as the options on
which way to turn
at the light
becomes
overwhelming.
cleanliness being
next to godliness.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

at the blood bank

standing in line
at the blood bank
someone says
to you that it's raining
out and that it's
cold. you nod
in agreement. then he
says that yesterday
was nicer than today.
you can't disagree with
him on that. if it wasn't
for the wind, it wouldn't
be so bad, but next
week, he says, opening
his eyes wide, will be nice.
in the sixties. sunny
all week. that's great
you say. hey, i think
it's your turn. thanks
he says and rolls up
his sleeve to give
blood. have a good one.

hipster coffee shop

the hipster coffee
shop on the corner
of king and north
patrick is full of people
on typewriters
clicking and banging
away, some
wearing red berets
or a bing crosby hat
and smoking
cigarettes. they are
lanquid and sleepy
despite the caffeine.
they are not beautiful
people, but maybe
average looking at best.
when the bell rings
as the door opens
they all look up to
see who it is, then
pretend that they don't
really care. there's
a chess game going
on at one table,
a game of solataire
at another. a woman
with orange hair is
in the corner sketching
her coffee cup with
a charcoal pencil.
some bloodshot eyes are
staring out the window
looking at the cars
go by as the hours
wile away. there's
flies in the pastry
case and a dog
tied up to a bench
out front wearing
a plaid scarf around
his neck. the bongo
music makes you tap
your feet and
nod your head
like a bobble doll.
it's cool, you're cool,
we're all cool here.

the bookcase

placing a book
onto the top shelf
of your bookcase
is one too many,
it creaks and groans
then falls upon
you. you are stuck
and can't move.
war and peace,
ulysses have weighed
you down before
but not quite like
this. thomas hardy
has your leg,
grisham and tom
wolfe your arms.
sylvia plath and anne
sexton are
digging into your
thighs. mary oliver
is in your ear,
along with salinger
and the complete
works of william
shakespeare. there
is nothing you
can do to move,
so you read and read
until the pain
subsides.

when it rains

it rained
last night
and the frogs
are happy.
you see them
on the sidewalk
jumping
to and fro.
some are wearing
little hats
and holding
canes
as they tap
dance
and sing their
way down
to the stream.
you too want
to be a frog.

cherry bombs

you buy your
fourth of july
fireworks early.
you don't want
to miss out
this year on
the roman candles
and rockets.
the fire crackers
and cherry bombs.
you stand in line
at the wooden
makeshift
store with
a  host of others
with missing
fingers
and eye patches.
everyone seems
excited and happy
about the oncoming
celebration
of our nation's birth,
but it could be
the jack daniels
they drank for
breakfast.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the baby

your friend has a baby
and you go see her.
it's round headed
and pink like a balloon
without a string.
it smells like oatmeal.
when she cries her face
turns old,
it pinches everything
together, the blue
eyes like colored
lights, the tiny nose,
the red ears flushed.
she picks it up
and holds it in her arms.
swinging it gently back
and forth. she sings
to it, moving her
shoulders to mary
had a little lamb.
would you like to
hold her, she says,
pushing the baby towards
you. it's squirming like
it's trying to get out
of being a baby. i would,
you say, but i might
drop her, plus
i'm double parked
out front. i have
to get going before
i'm towed. maybe
next time.

one for the road

i've gained weight
she says, pinching a small
roll above her
waistline and it's all
because of you and
your cooking, your
stews and bread,
your cake and ice cream.
pasta and meatballs.
i can't see you anymore
in this condition.
i need to work it off,
get some water
and yogurt in me.
okay, you say, holding
out a bag of chips,
one for the road?

the watch

you left your
watch behind.
it's slow. the hands
are behind
what time it
really is. i shake
it, reset it,
then listen
to the slight
tick, like a heartbeat
that the world
keeps.

Monday, June 11, 2012

the next show

while eating
popcorn on the couch
you watch
a show
on grizzly bears
attacking people
at glacier park,
which is followed
by a show
on sharks,
eating swimmers
like marshmallows.
then the snake
program comes
on and in slow motion
captures
the snap and strike
of teeth bared
copperheads
spitting their
venom into arms
and legs.
you keep eating
your popcorn, but
lifting your feet
off the floor
and tucking them
under a blanket.
the next show
is about marriage.
you get up and
bolt the door.

warm water

the ice water
of this world
is death.
is disease, is
anger.
it isn't sipped
or swallowed
but splashed
upon your face
startling you
into awareness.
it's the warm
waters of love
that we all want
but can't always
have.

what you wanted to say

you don't always
find the right words
at the right time.
so you stumble
towards a response.
usually it's later
as you lie in bed
with a fan spinning
above the warm room
when you find
the exact  phrase to
tell someone what
you really meant
to say, and it's usually
perfect, but way
too late.

sweeping

you find solace
in the quiet broom
sweeping
the swish and slap
of bristles against
the hardwood and tile.
the dust and dirt
that moves towards
the pan all because
of you. you miss
the dirt of him,
and the black padded
paws of his dog,
you miss your son,
his shoes
bringing in the world,
he walked in.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

words

words
like stones
can build
a wall.
a long tight
wall
where one
can't get in
or climb
over. but
words like
stones
can be steps
too.
where one can
rise and meet
at a higher
ground.

copperheads

at dusk they crawl
out and wander
crossing the stone
paths, the dirt
and grass. slithering,
out, lean copperheads
like smooth rope
patterened
and perfect. there
is no evil, you'd
like to believe, but
there are snakes
and that makes you
think differently.

xmas lights

despite how
much you want
to keep
things simple,
the tangle is there
like christmas
lights in a box,
impossible to
unravel. life
blinks
and unblinks
and some bulbs
are dark. it's
almost easier
to start over
again, each new
season.

commerce

you get requests
in the mail
for money.
religious zealots
and anarchists
alike,
the phone rings
for old new clothes
and shoes.
even the president
wants a few bucks
to keep his stay
in office.
someone wants
to put in new
windows for
you, another wants
to rid your
house of ants.
you can hardly get
a good nap in
anymore with
the commerce
at your door.

the nudist colony

there they are
with nothing on
but skin,
and sunglasses
a hat or two
and flip flops,
the shoes, not
the body parts
although you could
say the same
for them as well.
flip flops.
some are pink
and burned,
some bronzed
and tanned
except for the
white apple shaped
bottoms
or breasts.
it's strange and odd.
this nudity
without care or
shame it makes
you turn away,
not stare.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

meditation

there are times when
your fingers
curl in your hands
from overuse,
the repetition
and stroke
of the brush causing
the tendons to cramp
and freeze into place,
so you use the other
hand. but that too
stops working. so you
run them under water
and shake them out.
you go stand
by the window
and wait for them
to relax and unbend.
you see the metaphor
in everything.

potato salad

there was a time
when you looked
into your
refrigerator
to find seven
styrofoam boxes
full of leftovers
from the week
of going out
and eating bad
food in expensive
restaurants.
soggy noodles,
hard steaks,
crabless  crab
cakes, and buttery
beans and potatoes.
but now, there
is a giant
bowl of potato
salad that you
made just for me.

in the morning

your neighbors
are  noisy when they
make love
in the morning.
you can hear
through the wall
and open windows.
later you will hear
them argue
about whose turn
it is to take out
the trash, or mow
the lawn, or take
the car for an oil
change. it's small
bickering, but
constant, like the
birds in the woods
chirping and meaning
no harm. it's all
about getting
to the morning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

books

you can't imagine
a world without a book
in your hand,
the print, the ink
the warm feel of pages
turning, the hard
cover against your thumb
the dog earred
corners, the coffee stains,
and food, the crumbs
fallen between
the creases. underlined
words and
phrases. you can't
imagine such a world
despite how close
it is.

swinging like a monkey

you swing
from your chandelier
like a monkey.
side to side
making monkey
noises.
it's saturday
night and you feel
like you have a right
if not an obligation
to break loose
and free your
inner self
from the structured
life you live,
but the wires don't
hold, nor do
the bolts and screws
and plate it all
depends upon to stay
put and down it
goes in a sparking
crumbling heap
of glass and plaster.
but it was worth it
you think, it's a story
you will tell
the boys at the water
cooler on monday.

sins

you keep
your sins in
a box
beneath your
bed. venial
sins for the most
part. you
haven't committed
any mortal
sins in a while
but the night
is young.
you take them
all to a confessional
at the church
nearby and one
by one tell
the priest darkend
on the other
side by a screen
and curtain
your litany
of wrong doings,
bad thoughts
and continual
disobedience.
you've tried so
very hard to be good,
but like a man
with slick shoes
you can't make
it across that
frozen pond
without falling.
you tell him to give
you penance that
will cover you for
the whole year.
give me a few
gallons of holy water
to bathe and get
clean, but he says
no. once a week
is enough, just try
to be good, for
once just give it a
shot.

cup of rainwater

you catch
all the rain
that you can
in a cup
you hold
out and up
in your hand.
it's precious
this clean water
that miracuously
falls from the sky.
i think of you
that way.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

the note

you find a map
in the glove
compartment
of your car
with an x circled
on a spot out in
a field in red ink.
it's deep into
the woods where
the power lines
stand in a long
stretch of nothing.
so you go there
with a shovel
and a compass,
looking over your
shoulder to see if
anyone is following.
you pace out
the steps from
north to south,
move a large white
rock, then dig.
finally you pull up
a small box
and open it.
there's a note
folded over and it
says, i love you.
if only it was that easy.

no more money

there is no more
money in the bank
you tell your wife,
your bride of ten years,
so please stop
spending for a while.
but more will come,
she says, lifting
her finger to spoon
a dollop of cake
icing into her pursed
lips. more will come,
right? she asks again
with a yawn, stretching
her legs out on
the rug. won't it?
you worry too much.

moving fast

how fast your feet
move when necessary.
take a building
on fire, for instance,
or the sound of gun
shots over head.
perhaps a storm
whipping down
black and hard with
rain like diamonds
against your skin.
there is something
that makes your heart
move quickly too.
sometimes it's love
sometimes it's lust
and desire,
sometimes it's
just the simple smile
or the presence of
another person, who
is, or at least
resembles you.

the bath

unfastened,
her dress
falls to the floor
like flowers.
she steps
clear and slides
into the hot
water she
has drawn.
she slips down
into the heat
and warmth
of her bath.
lighting a candle,
she ignores
the phone,
the bell of
the door.
the dog barking
and closes
her eyes
and sighs, the
world won't
leave you alone.

the saucer

unearthed,
the broken
shell of a saucer
is in your hand,
buried for a century.
perhaps tossed
away, into a yard,
no longer of use
once dropped
and cracked,
but when rubbed
in todays sunlight
there is a shine
to the porcelain
as clean and white
with blue flowers
dancing on it's edge
as the day it was
first formed by
clay and fired
for a shelf
or the pouring
of a calm hand
with milk.

taste this

she puts the spoon
out and says
taste.  tell me what
you think. so you
lick the spoon
smack your lips
and say, hmm,
i don't know, seems
to be missing something.
but i'm not sure what.
more salt, more pepper,
oregano. i'm making
a cake she says.
what did you think
was in the bowl,
beef stew?
i don't know, you tell
her. but i'm so hungry,
i'll eat whatever it
turns out to be. keep
at it, i'm sure it will
be just fine.

squirrel brains

somehow the brains
of millions of people
have been infected
by squirrel brains.
you see them on
the highway, zig
zagging, unsure
of which direction
to go, what speed
to drive at,
confusion and
craziness abounds.
you see their heads
and eyes all over
the place, chattering
on their phones,
honking their horns,
swearing at the tops
of their lungs, bug
eyed and red faced.
they just want to get
home, to their tree
and curl up with an
acorn or two, but
someone may die
in the process.

mystery

you hear
the rattle
of the snake
before it strikes,
see the lightning
before it's
rumble. you
smell what's
burning on
the stove
or the scent
of rain
before it falls
into the small
hands
of upturned
leaves. you
know by living
many things
that you cannot
see, but not you,
that remains
a mystery.

when you arrive

when you arrrive
you will unpack your
small bag, having taken
only the things that
you need, and stand
by the window. you
will see the city that
you've longed for
spread out before your
open eyes. when
you arrive you will
tell no one that things
have changed, that
you have made it
to the place where you
want to be. only
those you love, and
love in return will
be aware of your absence
and arrival. when
you arrive you will
finally stretch out on
the new made bed
and wait for nothing
or no one, but first
you must leave.

taking out the trash

when you take the trash
out late at night
and see a fat possum
sitting near the hydrant
on his crazy hind legs
munching on somone's
already eaten corn husk.
you slowly drop the bag
and walk away, the full
moon casting a shadow
on your pajama clad
legs, and shirtless
torso. you imagine
the news in the metro
section telling the sad story
of your demise
with pictures of you
covered in possum bites.

oui oui

sometimes
as you listen to
a crazy person
your mind tends
to drift and wander.
you leave your
body and float
above the conversation.
staring down at
yourself and this
person who goes
on and on about
nothing in particular.
every other
sentence begins with
so, my therapist
thinks that i should
do this or that,
or. when i lived
in france, i was happy.
they live differently
than they do here.
i am more french
than i am american.
look at this scarf
i have around my neck.
i bought it in paris.
do you like it, hello,
are you even listening
to me?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

new bike pants

you tear a muscle
in back of your leg
while squeezing into
your new bike
shorts. they are blue
with lightning bolts
down the side. they fit
very tight and snug.
embarassingly so,
but now you are limping,
nursing a torn tendon,
hopping on one foot.
you have to go to
the bathroom, but you
can't slide them off
because they are so
tight, very tight.
they are squeezing
your bladder, pinching
at your kidneys.  so you
crawl to the kitchen
and manage to stand up.
your leg is throbbing
with pain. you take a pair
of scissors and carefully
cut them off.
as you slice
through the shiny
frabic, you lose
your balance
and fall over, hitting
your head on
the floor, but you're okay,
you still have your
bike helmet on. it has
lighting bolts too.

unknown

you lose your
memory
and can't find
your way home.
you've lost your
wallet and keys
and don't remember
your name.
you wander
the streets for days.
you stop strangers
and ask them
if they know
who you are.
but even the ones
that do, say no, not
really.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

alice the cat

lonely in some
strange way,
the goldfish
in a bowl
not being quite
enough fun,
she bought
a cat
at the pet
store. she signed
the papers,
got a pink leash,
with a rhinestone
collar, a bed, a cage,
a toy mouse with
catnip inside.
a ball of yarn,
six cans of
tuna cat food.
she named
the cat alice
then took her
home. the cat
peed on her
rug and scratched
her face when
she picked it
up to kiss.
an hour
later she took
alice back.
when she arrived
back home she fed
her goldfish
who seemed giddy
about something.

saturday

you see him
every saturday
when it's
not raining
washing his
red truck.
it takes all day.
he opens
the doors,
the trunk
and hood, rubbing
wax into
the metal,
vacuuming
the carpet.
wiping vinegar
against
the glass,
checking the tire
pressure
and the dip
stick for oil.
it gleams, it glows
and when he's
done, 
as the sun begins
to set, he folds
his arms,
steps back
and nods to
his wife
in the house,
waiting at
a window.

touching

you like
being touched.
a hand
in yours, on
your shoulder
as you drive.
you like the feel
of a leg against
your your leg,
knees bumping
as you sit in
the movie
theater, an arm
across your
arm,
fingers running
down your back.
you like the feel
of lips upon
your lips,
a nuzzle against
your neck.
the comfort of
closeness after sex.
but when it's time
to sleep, you
need some room.

they like me

you wake up
and find that one
leg is longer than
the other.
a growing spurt.
all day long
you are walking
in circles.
the next day an
arm has grown
an inch or two
in length
and you pinwheel
down the street.
but people seem
amused, they
seem to like you
more this way,
with a problem
or two. finally you
are one of them.

don't look back

don't come back
she says. it's over.
i don't love you anymore,
in fact i never did.
what we had was a joke,
a sham, a make believe
world of nothing.
i've given you the best
weeks of this
month, and for what
i ask you. so take your
hat, your shoes,
your barking dog
and go. just go.
get on your harley
and leave.
i'm having your name
taken off my arm
as soon as i save some
money. you're dead
to me.
what about saturday,
you ask her, we had
tickets to van halen?

k

i'm talking
and texting on my
phone while walking
down the street
driving my car
washing my hair
in the bathtub
while working
and climbing
on ladders.
i'm falling,
i'm breaking things
i'm running
over squirrels
and old people
in cross walks.
i'm talking
and texting on
my phone. nothing
else matters
but pushing these
little keys. i don't
know if i'm down
or up.
i'm talking
and texting on
my phone. i'm
saying important things
like lol, k
and yup.

Monday, June 4, 2012

the new math

when you
were young
addition was
the math you lived
by, in marriage,
with children,
the things you
owned, but now
as you grow old
subtraction
has taken over
diminishing
the numbers
of those you knew,
the things you need,
widdling down
your life
to just you,
and maybe
an orange cat.

the cat's meow

she unbuttons
her blouse
just slightly
and shows me
her wound.
the slight rise
of skin
now smooth
but pink and raw
where the bump
went out,
where the stitches
frown like a cat's
mouth unable
to meow.

more

it spills.
this life,
out and onto
the floor.
it's not
always
drunk
and savored
and enjoyed.
it spills
sometimes.
the glass
splipping
out of our
hands,
making it hard
to understand
or believe
that there
will be more.

sunday

the men and women
with their long
fishing poles
stuck in white
sawed pipes buried
in the sand, look
out to sea.
they drink and smoke
and listen to
the ballgame on
a  radio. a dog is
tied to a picnic
table, half asleep.
small children, are
waist deep in the cool
water, darkened
by clouds, grey
and wide. when
the fish are reeled in
they are small,
and bright like silver
coins. they hardly
splash when tossed
back. someone
builds a fire before
it gets too dark.
a ship goes by.
everyone waves.

baby crying

there's a baby
crying on the train
right behind
you, into your ear
and there's nothing
anyone can do
to stop it. it's hungry
or tired, or both.
perhaps annoyed
with the heat
and the delays.
if it wasn't plain crazy
you'd be whimpering
and crying just
the same, in fact
the whole train
would let loose
with a primal scream.

words you don't want to hear

don't worry
this will only hurt
a little.
the check
is in the mail.
she has a nice
personality.
the job has perks
that make up
for the pay.
your dentist
whistling
with a needle
in his hand.
i forgot to take
my pill.
a policeman's
siren right behind
you, telling
you to pull
over. but we can
still be friends.
the words
last call.
oops.

packing to leave

when you leave
again,
you pack neatly
with deliberate
calm and mark each
box. kitchen, basement.
attic. bedroom.
everything having
it's place once
more, not knowing,
as you do, the time
or date, or where
these things will
end, on a new
wall, on a shelf
behind a door.
leaving is what
you do,
arriving is another.

the rumor

the rumor goes
around, a thin bare
scandalous whisper,
a thread, if you
will, of maybe.
no one knows
for sure, whether
true or false, but how
juicy it has
become. you
listen and listen
and add your own
imagination
and thoughts
to what it will
become or not.
what strange fun
it is to hear as long
as you are not
the one.

sweet dreams

your dream is full
of sweetness.
no shadows.
it is as light
as a cloud, or
whipped cream
freshly pulled
from a shiny
cold can,
crowning the tip
of your tongue.
playful on your
nose. it's a dream
you can live with
for days to come.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

canada oh canada

i met a girl
from canada once
she had a maple
leaf tattooed on
her shoulder
and she was always
bad mouthing
the states.
it was canada
this canada that.
never celebrating
thanksgiving
like we do.
the fourth of july,
who needs it.
they don't
kill each other
with guns
like you do, she'd
say, or behave the way
you do when
driving.
oh, how wonderful
canada is
with it's french
cuisine and
culture and snowy
peaks and pristine
lakes. pffft. i'd
tell her, if not for
the maple syrup
you smuggle over
for me, we'd be done.

the new mailman

you don't trust online
banking.
fearing the click
of numbers
stored away for
anyone's taking.
you'd rather write
the check and
put a stamp firmly
on the corner of
the crisp white
envelope, giving
virginia power
their money that way,
but then
you see your new
mail man walking
up the street drinking
a beer and wearing
flip flops
and you think well
maybe it's time to
join the rest
of the world.

the motel

after the white swing
of headlights
through the thin
curtains,
you hear them
speaking outside
on the sidewalk
unloading a car
or van, you can't
see from this vantage
point, lying in bed
with your lover.
both spent and waiting
for a moment to dress
and leave. you hear
a family of a different
dialect, somewhere from
the midwest, perhaps,
the vowels and consonants
not spoken as you
would, or her, who has
a hand upon your
arm, ready to tap
and say, i have to go.
they are tired
from their journey,
as you are,
the small words
define that. the children
bitter about what
they didn't get
and being so far
from home, from
the things they know.
the parents saying hush
beneath their breath,
that people are sleeping.
people are sleeping,
but not us, not yet.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the tight wire

her feet
on the tight
rope
grip firmly
the taut line
that stretches
from yesterday
until tomorrow.
it feels as if
it's straight across
but no.
there's always
down
as an unwanted
option.
sometimes falling
is what
needs to be
done, to climb
onto another
wire, with another
destination
in mind.

the fire

the fire
you start
in the center
of gathered
rocks
your heart
rises high
under
the stars,
and the embers
your memories
stirred
near the end
float upwards
before your
eyes. the sparkle
of life
and death
together.

seeing red

the two muscled
men, one smaller
than the other. both
strong and athletic,
neither backing down
as they are separated
on the ball court
from heaving fists
at one another.
simple words said
in disagreement,
a finger shaken
in a face. neither
feeling logic, or love,
or reason, there is
only red in their eyes.
striking one another
seems to be the only
right conclusion
to this. how has
the world lasted
even this long you
wonder as the sun
slips under a cloud.

only coffee

you can't
live on coffee
but you try.
food has no
taste, nothing
feels right
on your tongue,
your dry
lips part for
sips and sips
of black
coffee.
the jangle of
your nerves
show in your tapping
fingers, the swing
of foot below
the table, but
you knew this
day was coming.
it's what love
does.

clearing

you stay
unwashed for a day
or two, burdened with
what you see.
the field is wide
and needs attention.
a storm lingers
like anger
over the far clumps
of brown hills.
your small plot
of rolling land
whispers hoarsely
at you, for hands
to mend it's ways,
smooth it's ruffled
brow of brush
and bent trees, but
the first swing tells
you that your axe
needs to be sharpened.

our mistakes

the meal is lost
with too much sugar,
too much salt,
or seasoning.
a heavy hand can
ruin the mix
and make it
inedible. i'd like
to think that
we are different.
that we can start over
without a bitter
or sour taste
in our mouths
and learn from our
mistakes.

to fly

when you were young
full of comic
book ideas and values
being able to fly
seemed reasonable
and it still does, so
you find a way in
dreams to set  sail,
to run along the ground
and lift off. it's more
a matter of will to
stay up, than it is of
skill or luck.  you are
free of what gravity
holds you to. just as
those comics did
at twelve, your dreams
do the same now.

Friday, June 1, 2012

on a good day

on a good day
the mountain
will leave
us alone.
the snow will
stay put,
the oceans won't
rise and take
what it wants
to take.
the trees will
not catch fire
and burn for
weeks.
on a good day
the earth won't
crack open
and swallow up
the city.
on a good day,
you'll stay put
and be there when
i get home.

the green door

she revels
in the plants
she tends,
bending
to her yard,
to flowers.
she touches mint
and brings it
to her nose.
lemon
orange,
the sweet love
scent of
any colored
rose. she lets
you in this way
allows you
to enter
her green door.

throw me that snake i need to pray

my father was a snake
handler, so was my mother
and my sister, lucy jane.
it goes back even farther
than that, both sets of
grandparents loved to jump
around during worship
services yipping
and yapping with a couple
of copper heads in each
hand and a boa constrictor
around their necks.
they'd dance around like
their pants were on fire.
sometimes with
a rattler in one hand
and a bible in the other.
they'd point at passages
in the bible
that suggested such behavior
was reasonable.
they're all dead now
on account of being bitten
by poisonous snakes. so
i'm thinking that maybe,
just maybe there may have
been some small print or
a passage or two left out
of the Bible when those
verses were put in, like,
do not try this at home
with real live snakes,
or perhaps words such as
'poisonous snakes'
was just a metaphorical
reference to car salesmen.

smokes

you are hired by an advertising
firm to help raise sales
of tobacco products.
it's going to be tough though
because of the cancer scare,
heart disease, emphseyma,
and birth defects, and the fact
that over six hundred thousand
people die in the united states
alone from smoking,
but they've seen your work and
find you creative and smart.
they feel that you are the right
man for the job. the chairman
of the board shakes your hand
and says, go to it son, let's
sell some cigarettes. so you
tell him your plan. you turn off
the lights, click on the first
slide  and with a pointer
go through your advertising
campaign.  columbus was
a smoker, you start off with.
showing the santa maria
with columbus at the helm,
a camel in his mouth as he
points towards shore.
the next slide comes up
showing michelangelo on
his back painting the sistine
chapel with a marlboro
tucked in the corner of his
mouth. you proceed, photo
after photo. einstien with
a winston, waving it at a
diagram of an atom, there's
john glenn orbiting the earth
with a wad of chewing tobacco
drooling from his lips. moses
crossing the red sea,
staff in one hand,
a tarreyton in the other.
kennedy and kruschev lighting
each other's cigars with a
bic lighter ending the stalemate
on the cuban missles.
there's joan of arc, smoking
a virginia slim
while burning at the stake.
george washington with
a pack of pall malls rolled
up in his sleeve as he
crosses the delaware.
there's jonas salk blowing
smoke rings as he shouts
eureka when he figures out
the polio vaccine.
finally you end by saying,
all these people smoked like
chimneys. what have you
done lately. don't be a loser.
light up and be someone
special. have a smoke
today! the chairman of the board,
turns on the lights, tears
in his eyes. brilliant he
says, brilliant. here have
a cigarette, ummm, no
thanks you tell him. don't
want to get sick.

singing in the shower

while singing
in the shower, you
believe that you have
the pipes, the voice
to be a star. you
see yourself on a stage
with a worshiping
throng of frenzied
people who can't
get enough of you.
there is no song
that you can't conquer
from dylan to sinatra.
from janis joplin
to peggy lee.
with the shower on
full, your head
and ears covered
in suds and the echo
of your voice you
can hardly hear the
banging on the wall.
their joy has driven
them to this.

thirst

thirsty
you find water
or wait for
rain.
hungry,
well there must
be food
somewhere,
on the shelf,
or in the field.
love, well, that's
a different
need altogether
that takes longer
and is  much
harder to find
and fill.

summertime

summer comes early
with ninety in the shade
even the bees seem
lazy as they buzz
slowly across the yard
hovering on flowers,
and you lounging
in your sleepwear
at three p.m.,
on the couch drinking
a lemonade saying
something like, come
over here and kiss
me, but not too hard
i'm tired and don't want
to get too messy.