Friday, August 31, 2012

burning leaves

the leaves
in the barrel
burning, sending
smoke
into the air
a smell unlike
any other.
the crackle
of twigs, of the dried
oak, and maple
leaves
before winter,
before
the snow,
the ice. the leaves
were gathered
and burned.
you remember
that and miss that
simple act
of gathering
at your father's
foot, the leaves.
how you circle back
with a scent
born in childhood.

red wine

the river rises
over the banks,
covering fast
and hard the thick
trunks of trees.
they will soon fall
in the night,
absorbing too
much water through
their thirsty roots.
tomorrow, they
will lie across
the stream, broken
and fallen. too much
of a good thing
will have taken
it's toll.

milking the cow

she knocks a glass
over and it begins to rain.
just like that.
the clouds are crying
she says, over spilled
milk. not really you
tell her. we call it rain
around here. and
the grocery store
has lots of  milk. we don't
manully have to go
the barn and milk
cows in this part of
the country. you're
not from around here
are you. nope, she
says. i live in maryland.
oh, you say, well
that explains everything.

dog world

you wake up from
your nap
and think it's the next
day. but it's not
it's five o'clock
in the afternoon.
your dog jumps
onto your chest
and licks your face.
stares deeply into
your eyes, trying
to hold you down
and tell you not
to leave. you say
the word walk,
which makes him
wiggle and snap
his tail quickly
in the air, lifting
his bottom half
off the ground a
little. life is better
somehow with
a dog. it might
be time to ponder
once again,
the barking beast.
but no.

general hospital

you haven't talked to your mother
in a while, or seen her, because
she's been married to a man named
hitler, you've heard of him,
haven't you, and it's torture to
be in the same room with him,
but still, a drive over the bridge
would not be that difficult for you.
a pop in, short and sweet, hey
how you doing visit, some tea,
some stale pizelles, a little
gossip about the sisters, and she
could show you the poison
ivy she's been scratching at on
her leg. she must really miss
you, her second son
and wonder how your life
is going. so you dial her up,
and say hey, being cheerful
and perky. oh, hello, she says.
and takes a bite of a sandwich.
you can hear her sipping on some
ice tea too. you hear a man's voice
in the background, who the hell
is that on the phone. how come
he never comes to visit.
how are you she whispers
between bites. good, good.
you say, so what's going on.
oh, nothing. everyone is good.
everything is fine. she takes
another bite. you sound distracted
you say, and she clinks the
glass against the reciever, oh
no, i'm just watching General
Hospital, just watching my show.
okay, okay, what's going on
there? oh, you wouldn't believe
it, but...oh my god she says. i
can't believe that just happened,
amanda might be pregnant
by doctor woodward,
can i call you back, she says
hanging up the phone. but she
forgets to call. another show
comes on after that. you'll
try again tomorrow. maybe.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

she was a good cook

electro shock therapy
didn't work, nor did the pills
or hypnosis, or the
primal scream. nothing
could shake the demons
out of her. not even the priest
in his cloak, with holy
water in hand couldn't
slap the devil out of her.
but boy could she could
a wonderful pot roast
and season those potatoes
just right.

boot camp

you decide to join one
of those boot camp
fitness groups, but they meet
at six in the morning
and you are not a morning
person. there are only
two things you want
to do early in the morning,
and one of them is sleep,
the other involves your
friend betty, or someone
similar to her. but you drag
yourself to the boot camp
location. you've purchased
some new work out clothes
from macy's. a red  nike shirt
with matching nike shorts
and socks, and some nike
tennis shoes. you are a
billboard for nike and wouldn't
that make them mad.
but you digress. you jog out
to where your new peeps are
and high five all the combatants.
you are the oldest one there
by twenty years, at least,
but hey, you are wiser, and the only
one with a headband that
says, just do it. after some
light warm ups, stretching
and bending, the drill sargent,
jennifer, who has a really
cute pony tail and a barbed
wire tattoo around her arms
points at a hill in the distance
and says, okay, run up
that hill and come back.
do it ten times, you fat losers,
then come back and give me twenty.
strangely everyone looks at you.
then she blows a whistle.
everyone begins to run,  you are
in the lead at first, but soon
everyone overtakes you.
but as you said, they are young
and skinny, and you hate all of
them. when you reach the top
of the hill, you look over
your shoulder. you see
that everyone has started
the run back, so you stop,
for a second to catch your breath
and spit up a little.
out of the corner of your eye
you see a starbucks in the distance.
you feel your shorts for that five
dollar bill you tucked away in
your secret pocket, you
shrug and keep going over the
hill. you need some coffee, like
now, and a bagel with cream cheese,
and a paper. boot camp,
pffft. who needs it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

send me some flowers

you want to write
a poem
about flowers,
but you have no
flower knowledge.
petunias, roses,
daffodils and brown
eyed susans come
to mind. but you really
are limited when it
come to flowers.
when to plant, when
to water or how
to cut them.
you used to order
flowers  from
the florist when
your girlfriend or
wife was mad at you
again, but that was
a long time ago.
and it was always a
dozen roses, red or
yellow mostly with
a lame note. sorry.
i love you. please don't
be mad at me, or
something along
those lines. sometimes
you'd send a dozen
in a nice vase for a
birthday, or valentine's day.
you couldn't really afford
to do so, but it seemed
like the only way out
of the mess you were in.
flowers seemed to do
the trick for some reason
and before you know it,
you were back in the game.
weddings and funerals
seem to be big on flowers too.
which seems both ironic
and revealing.
they get you coming and
going.
 

dining out

at nine thirty on a wednesday
you are sitting outside
a chipolte restaurant, the place
that you mispronounce
every time you try to say
it, and eating a giant
fat burrito with the works.
you've already loosened
your belt two notches
before you take the first
bite.you have your
tub of antiacid pills
next to a  mini bottle of hot sauce
and a large coke, that
you suck through a straw.
there's a full moon out
as you slide around
in your metal chair.
it's a beautiful night
to dine out despite being
alone. you feel like you are
in mexico, or some other
exotic place like delray
alexandria, virginia.
it's the moon, the hot sauce,
the romance in the air.
you wish your friend
esmeralda was here to do
a dance for you with her
castanets.

the vegetable garden

you begin to plan your garden
for next spring.
you get out a pad and a pen
and write down all
the different vegetables
you'd like to eat.
but first you go to the kitchen
and get a bag of potato
chips out of the pantry
and a cold coke from
the fridge. something to
snack on while you work. okay.
now for the list. you love
potatoes. that's a given.
carrots, nah, not so much.
string beans, maybe.
corn is a definite yes.
you have enough room
in your yard for  maybe
three stalks. good. good.
cauliflower, pfft, i don't
think so. lima beans, nope.
definitely not. they taste
like chalky smashed peas.
how about tomatoes. no.
so yesterday, everyone
has tomato plants.
how about lettuce, hmmm.
possible, romaine, iceberg,
or that leafy kind that blows
around in your sandwich. you
put a maybe next to that.
okay. that's enough for now.
you've got potatoes and corn.
time to till that soil.
 

mother theresa in the corner office

i'm having a hard time being
the boss these days, she says
over coffee. i've climbed
the corporate ladder,
i have a fab income,
and now  i've finally
been awarded the corner office,
but people are afraid of me.
i want them to like me, to share
their innermost hopes and desires
before i fire them.
they run the other way when they
see me coming. you sip your coffee
and smile, you nod knowingly.
well, you are kind of tough, you
tell her. i've seen you in traffic
driving, cursing, slamming your
fist onto the dashboard when
there's a jam. but i'm really a
little kitty cat inside, she says,
whispering. she moves a finger
up to her face to wipe a tear away,
but there is nothing. maybe
a speck of ice rolls out, but that's
all. she takes a sip of her coffee
and spits it out. Jesus, she says.
i asked that damn stupid idiot
barista to put an extra shot of
espresso in and to make it a skinny
fat latte. what the hell is wrong
with this country today. i'm
going in there and ...and...
why are you laughing, she says.
i'm doing it, aren't i , she says.
tell me, i'm being hard and unforgiving.
i need to be  more like mother
theresa. i really do. i'm going to have
my assistant, that dumb ass maria,
i'm sorry, i mean my sweet
and efficient assistant, maria,
find me everything she can on
mother theresa and have
it sent to my office. i'm going to
be nice, and worshiped if it
kills me. deep inside, i mean way
way deep inside, i'm really a people
person.  by the way that's a
a very attractive shirt you're
wearing, she says
and smiles brightly. do you like
my man suit. i just bought it.
the shoulders are a little big,
but i'm lifting weights at the gym
now, so i should fill it out
by the end of the summer. did
i tell you about my corner office?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

time of the season

your friend from highschool,
let's call him jimmy for now
still owes you eleven dollars
from the time you went to
that concert at the community
college. you remember
the day in detail, the army
green dodge dart swinger
you were driving. how you
stopped at the jack in the box
to get food for the drive there.
stitching a p o w patch onto
your jeans before you left
the house, not answering
your mother when she said,
where are you going, i need
the car to go to work
in an hour. hey, i'm talking to you.
johnny winter's brother
edgar was playing. he too
had the stark white skin
and platinum blonde hair.
the music was mindless,
or maybe it was just you, the weed,
the beer, the attitude and
the time of the season. but you
remember clearly jimmy
borrowing exactly eleven
dollars from you for some reason.
it was right before you held
up a bic lighter to encourage
another encore from edgar winter,
and now, forty years later,
you can't even find him on facebook
to get it back.

mystery

the world
is full of mystery.
and you are
one of them.
but i'd rather
have it that
way, than
the other.
keeps me
guessing,
standing on
my toes.
although it
could get old.

there was a boy

there was the boy
who sat in
back of the class
who never said
a word. he
was different.
quiet and shy,
but he was tall
and strong so he
was never teased
outright. but behind
his back they called
him boo, as in
boo radley.
he wore strange clothes,
a plaid shirt,
and a  hunter's cap,
red with the peak
turned up. sometimes
he kept his pants
high above his waist
with suspenders.
he smelled
like a wet dog,
and smoke from a fire.
his laced high boots
were always wet
caked in mud. they said
he lived in a cabin
with his father,
at the top of the hill
where the road
turns, where no one
ever traveled.
he disappeared one
day without a trace.
with no explanation,
he was never back
in school again.
his desk
stayed empty for
the rest of the year.
he was soon forgotten,
but not by me.
i liked him.
 

ships at sea

these ships at sea
crawling
towards a new
port, an old port.
they plow
quietly
as memories do,
through the blue
plain of water,
more grey
in the distance.
they are so far
away and yet
so near. how
everything becomes
like that
over time.

the thorn

barefoot
across the lawn
near the roses
that have seen
better days
your foot picks
up a thorn.
it bleeds
rubs deep into
your heel.
there is pain
and beauty in
everything
it seems.

start there

try  for one second
and remember
the little girl
within you.
sitting on the steps.
a ball in hand,
a pair of skates.
your hair pulled
back in the morning
sun, it's saturday,
and the leaves
are bright with fall.
it's a new beginning,
start there.
start there again
and let the past dissolve.

Monday, August 27, 2012

trouble

i am draining
another barrel
of your tears
and sorrow,
pouring them
back into the earth.
emptying
the waste bin
of your
collected woes.
dusting the shelves
of your despair.
i am out of shoulders
to cry on,
to lean on,
my hands can
only lift you up so
far. my ears are full
and can receive
no more.
my mouth is dry
of words.

gone cold

a chill
is in the air,
in my bones.
a storm is rising
along the coast
of my arms
and legs, up
towards
the island
of my heart.
i can hear
the rain, the
sweep of wind
rattling the trees
and shelters
in my mind.
i've gone north
for the winter.
gone cold.

time

time is no longer
a sweeping
hand, gracefully
moving you through
an hour, towards
a day and in and
out of nights.
it's no longer
the slow
rise and fall
of black spokes
around the white
plate of hours
while  a solid
red wand swings
quickly along.
instead, it's a blink
of bright  harsh numbers
made of dashes
and dots
a stuttering
jump from one moment
to the next.
so apropo of
the day we live in.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

the rules of life

there are unwritten
rules to life.
and many written
ones too.
we all know them.
they are ingrained
in our blood and bones
our consciousness
through
the teaching
and berating of
mothers and fathers,
teachers, a long
trail of schools,
religion too.
society, culture.
politicians. even
a stranger has wagged
his finger at you.
there are rules.
no need to write
them down, to point
them out. you know
and they know
what they are
and this is why you love
your dog so much.

she likes to drive fast

she likes to drive
fast, kiss on the first date,
whisper into your ear,
run with the hunted.
she likes to leave
the top down, sleep
when it's the only thing
left to do.
she likes to drink
and eat, and make
love until the neighbors
call the police.
she wears red,
she wears blue
she wears nothing.
she has a pair of five
inch stiletto heels
that will bring you
to your knees.
she likes to drive
fast and bite your lip
until it bleeds.
your mother will never
meet her, nor
your  son, or any
living relative you know
she'll be gone
when you reach over
in the middle of the night
to find her, before
the rising sun.
at some point hearts
will be broken, lawyers
will be involved.
she likes to drive fast.

at the diner

at the breakfast
diner, the plates of cars
read wisconsin
and new york,
florida. winnebagos
too, and big trucks.
everyone needs a
couple of eggs and
pancakes to see
them through,
to get them down
the road towards lunch
at another stop
along the interstate,
belts loosened,
buttons freed.
wiping away those
little beads of sweat
that too much to eat
can bring.

for the sake of change

thinking she
needed a change
of scenery,
she rolled the large
stone in her yard
from the front to the back
of the house
then around
to the side, closer
to the fence
to where the trees
would shade it.
finally, she put it
back to where it was,
where it was placed
eons ago, when the glaciers
dragged the moutains
across the wide
plains before melting.
no need to change
for the sake
of change, she thought
and went back in
satisfied for what
she did and did not do.

caught in the rain

everything is wet.
the shoes squeak
with water.
your shirt and pants.
the hat.
the rain made sure
of that while
you walked
hand in hand through
the tunnel
of white trees
still holding onto
their fullness, green
with leaves.
you went too far.
too fast and away
without an umbrella,
but it didn't matter.
there was a place to
get dry and warm
again, together.
 

she loves the rain

she loves the rain.
she loves to ponder
yesterday. with
a cat in her lap
she wonders about
tomorrow. the next
day after that.
she loves
the clouds, the thunder,
the rolling
bloom of sky
dark, and grey
cold. she loves
the rain. this is where
she can stay
when there is
nowhere left
to go.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

talk with mom

tell me all about her
your mother says on
the phone, this girl you're
seeing. well, you say,
clearing your throat.
she likes mashed potatoes.
a lot. i mean, she could
eat them everyday if
she could. so she's a fat
girl, your mother says
and sighs.
does she have a heart
condition, does she pant
and can she get up
the stairs? if she has
a heart attack and dies
on you, then what. then
you have to start all over
again. and you're not a
young man.  no, she's fine.
she's in great shape.
she's a runner. she works
out and does yoga.
she can put her foot
over her head like a
pretzel. oh, and she likes
mustard better than ketchup.
i don't trust her, your
mother says. the potatoes,
the mustard. bending her body
like a russian gymnast.
what does she
do for a living. she teaches,
mom, she teaches kids.
she wears glasses, doesn't
she, your mom says.
i can see her now with
thick glasses. mom, you wear
glasses. but i'm your mother.
so when do i  meet her.
when can i meet this miss
wonderful mustard loving
girl you've been seeing.
i'll knit her an afghan.
does she like the color orange
i have seven balls of yarn
from the dollar store, all
orange. i'll start it tonight.
she hates the color orange.
that's the one color she'd
never have in her life.
see, see, this girl is trouble
i knew it. yeah. okay mom.
talk later,  i have to go soak
my head in a pail
of cold water now.
got to go.

the little things

you break open
an ice tray
and pour it into
the plastic box
on the door, but
one cube slips
out, that you forget
and leave it
melting on
the floor.and when
you slip
upon it, as you
carry your
dinner out
into the other room,
and fly
into mid air,
you think about all
the other little
things that you've
neglected in your life
and wonder, if
they too will catch
up to you.

early, too early

you wake up early now
because you are old.
life is telling you to get up.
you're running out of time.
you look out the window
and see the others
walking briskly, striding,
fighting off death
with arms chest high
pumping. wearing
bright green shoes,
and vests. hats
and water bottles
attached to their waist.
you let the blinds
fall back down
and crawl back into
bed. how's the weather
she asks, lifting her
head up. maybe we could
go for a walk.
it's cloudy and
cold you tell he.
you dont' want to go
out there. not yet.

the rules

the teacher
takes you to the front
of the class
and raps
your knuckles
with a ruler.
now spit out
that gum she says,
making an example
of you,
but you refuse
instead you
blow a giant
bubble
which sends
laughter
through the room.
this is something
you won't
easily forget
as your life
unfolds and you
keep trying to
bend or defeat
the rules.

 

Friday, August 24, 2012

stay

lie down beside me
close your eyes
and think of moons
rising, suns setting.
of lanquid seas
lapping the open
arms of sand. lie
down beside, close
your eyes and stay.
nothing needs to
change. nothing bad
can happen in this
moment. stay.

much better

you've gone over an hour
without being angry
at someone or something.
the traffic, the weather.
the news, the neighbor.
something.
okay, not angry, but perhaps
annoyed, dismayed,
disgruntled. you turn off
the t.v., that seems to
help. the computer goes
off next.  then you pull
the shades. you climb
into bed and put a pillow
over your head.
better. much better.

how she drinks tea

with long delicate fingers
she drops a sugar
cube into the cup,
a dollop of cream,
then stirs lightly.
the spoon clinks
against the rim,
then settles onto a napkin.
she lifts the cup
to her pursed
lips and gives
the hot rim a blow
to cool it where her
lips will follow. this is
how she drinks tea.
this is how she does
everything in her life.

misunderstood

not unlike oscar
wilde, you too fear
not being
misunderstood,
for what then.
you are just like
all the rest.
an open book
unread because
you already know
the beginning
the middle and end.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

night train

when you sleep
you snore.
not just a light
breeze, a  mild
exhaust
of lungs through
throat and nose,
no, it's a freight
train coming down
the track with whistles
and rattles. deep
rumblings
and gasping
for air. it startles
her at first
and she taps you
on the shoulder,
then shakes you awake.
what you say, i
was sleeping.
well your snoring
is keeping me
awake. well, i'm
sorry you say. there's
another room
down the hall, go
there. good.
i will. good night.
night you tell her,
shut the door,
i have another train
to catch.

the sex talk with your son

you sit your son down
at the age of thirteen
or fourteen
to have a serious
conversation, you rub
your eyebrows
and bite your lip,
but he knows already
before you open your mouth
what this talk is about.
i know about sex already
dad, he says, tossing a
baseball from hand
to hand.. ask me
anything.  go ahead
anything. you nod, then
nod some more. okay. okay.
you say. well, when a woman...
dad, let me stop you
right there. i said i know
about sex. i didn't say
i know anything about
women. oh, you say. well.
ummm. great. that makes
two of us.  good
talk son, good talk.
play some catch?

late night call

i know where you live
the hoarse voice says
on the phone
whispering and laughing
banging a wrench
against  his radiator
like a madman.
that makes two of
us you say, staring at
a coupon for tuesdays
five topping pizzas.
hey, if you are on your
way over, pick me up a pie
and a liter of coke.
grab a slice for yourself
if your hungry.
leave it at the door,
you can't come in.

two worlds

your dream
about not being able
to wake up
despite being awake
happens often.
which world
are you in, or is
it both. are you
stradling the clouds
and street.
does it matter.

the story

the story starts like this.
a man, in a hurry,
rushed by time, by work,
by the spinning
wheels of life falls
after feeling faint,
he tumbles down
a flight of steps leading
to the subway.
unconscious he lies there
for most of the day.
his pants are wet from
a puddle. his hat is beside
him, near his hand.
there is a cut on his chin.
by five o'clock.
the hat is full of money.
there is book beside
him. a set of rosary beads.
a bag of food. water.
someone has left him
a small dog, which
licks his face until
he awakens, he
travels home with the dog
under his arm. he is
less angry for the moment.
overcome by the kindess
of others.
tomorrow, things will get
back to normal. he will
forget everything that has
happened, not even
the dog barking will
remind him of that day.
that too
will make him angry.
the story ends like this.

in venice

the pigeons
in saint mark's
square are clouds
of grey wings, sharp
yellowed beaks. they have
seen what they have
seen for generations.
they float and float
upon the tourists arms
and hats, as photos
are snapped. their
claws gripping
tightly, for bread,
a morsel or crumb.
they play their part
so well.

fishing

after packing
a lunch, and drinks,
and driving to
the river
you go fishing
with your son. sliding
the worm onto
the hook. helping him
hold the rod,
casting out
with his hands
and yours
at the bottom.
the worm and hook
and weight plunks
out into
the still water,
rippling in circles
as the lead sinker
sinks. and he turns
to you, out in
the middle of nowhere
and says, dad,
i need to go to
the bathroom. now.
like really bad.

the playground

like insistent flies
buzzing against
the screen, wanting
out and in
all at the same time.
their blue wings
at work, their
short slender
legs and sticky
fingers
gripping, then
letting go.
indecision is
the heart of who
they are, impatient
and full of
energy and buzz.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

henry

when he got out
of jail.
he'd sniff glue.
drink
mouth wash.
he'd do everything
but take
the needle again.
at least for a while.
he was staying
clean as he
broke into houses
and walked down
the road with
a shopping cart
sellling his newly
stolen wares.
you'd see him
over the hill
in the moonlight,
his hair shining
across his shoulders.
walking up
the same street
you'd seen him
walk before, when
you were kids
and he was coming
to play ball
with you.

cowboy

i haven't seen you around
here lately,
the waitress says, pouring
you a cup of coffee.
where you been honey?
riding the plains, you
tell her, rustling cattle,
roping steer. you
set your cowboy hat down
on the table and rub
your upper lip where
you might grow a mustache.
you're a cowpoke now,
huh? she says, smirking.
you nod, because that's
what cowboys do.
they stare off into
the distance, thinking about
that one poor calf that
couldn't be found,
and is out there being
eaten by coyotes.
you haven't been taking
your meds, have you
pardner, she says,
putting a new bottle
of ketchup onto the table.
you squint out the window
where the sun is rising
over the hills,
where the land
stretches out forever
and a man can ride his
horse in peace
without no medication.

waiting for more

i lift
the long strand
of black hair
off the sink,
it's brittle
white shine
holding
no secrets
of your stay.
i leave it there,
turn off  the light
and wait
for more.

strawberry jello bath

i see her pouring boxes
of stawberry jello
into the bathtub.
the hot water is
boiling as it tumbles
from the spigot
rising pink against
the white porcelain
sides of the tub.
whatcha doing
honeybun, you ask
politely, as she
chews the corner
off another box
of jello and pours
the granules into
the steamy water.
taking a bath. what's
it look like, she says.
with jello? there's a
pause and she turns
to look at me.
that's right einstein.
with jello. now if
you want to be any
help at all, go get the
whipped cream
and take your clothes
off. we need to liven
up this relationship.

the fallen leaves

you see the admiral
without his sunken
vessel,
the mega church
minister, fallen
from the pulpit
the ceo from
the fortune
five hundred,
pockets empty.
a king deposed
a senator voted out
on their hands
and knees, clipping
weeds along
the sidewalk.
raking leaves
in their autumn
days. you wave
across the street
as you clip and rake
your own, as
always.

poetry workshop

i think this poem
is unfinished, the man
in back of the room says.
he scratches his
beard along the collar
of his black turtleneck
sweater.
it's a missed
opportunity to be more
than what it is.
it's hurried, rushed.
as if no care was
taken to word choices
end rhymes and such.
but it's a very nice
try. he directs his
comments to the whole
room, but it's your poem,
and you twist the pencil
in your hand and for
one moment understand
what primeval rage is,
and you wonder how
accurately you could throw
your sharpened number two
pencil with a flick of
your hand into his forehed
but you don't. his poem
his next, and you will
crush it like a grape
in the palm of your hand.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the angels

it's raining, she says.
the angels are crying.
you shake your head
and take the bottle
of red wine from her
hand. and the thunder
is the result of angels
bowling, i suppose.
she laughs.
no, its from the mexican
food they're serving.

loafers

you surround yourself
with shoes.
new shoes still
in the boxes.
brown, black,
a light colored pair
that you'll
never wear.
sandals for that one
week at the shore.
boots with thick
treads for
the two winter
storms. tennis
shoes that will never
touch a tennis court,
but will be walked
around in with kahki
shorts. but it's mostly
loafers these days.
easy to get in
and out of. like
love. you like that.

i'm sorry

bad with dates,
birthdays,
holidays,
anniversaries, the sadness
you cause.
the grief you perpetuate
when the flowers
are not in hand,
the bracelet from
the mall, or sweater
that won't fit.
the book from
the bookstore.
a gift certificate
off the grocery tree
where the tomato sauce
ailse ends. the hurried gift
is never enough. never
quite right, or meeting
the sentiment
of the occasion,
or the sincerity you wish
to convey. so here's
a card telling you.
i'm sorry.

clean clothes

the tumbled dry
clothes
still hot
in the white
machine have
no idea where
they might go next.
what spills
they might endure,
what tears and rips
could occur along
my clumsy way.
the ink stain
that won't come
out, the ketchup
still pink
on the white shirt.
the sock who
won't give up
despite it's growing
hole. all loyal
to a fault, clinging
to their importance.
smiling with
cleanliness, to
be worn again.

a room with a view

your needs
are simple.
a bed.
a house,
food. a job with
which to earn
your keep without
asking others for
money.
a comfortable pair
of shoes,
and jeans.
another good book.
a good movie.
love is in the mix
too, but it's too
elusive and complicated
to even understand.
but on the list
it goes. someone
to kiss and who
will kiss you in return
without regret.
friendships, of
course.
maybe a nice
dog who doesn't
bark too much
and thinks the world
of you.
a strong cup of coffee
with which to drink
while pondering
it all.
a room with a view.

rock bottom

you hear the phrase,
well, once they hit rock
bottom, then they'll
see the light and change
their life, begin the climb
back out. it's true,
sometimes, and other
times, there is no bottom.
there is only the fall
the slow descent into
darkness and despair.
with no ropes or
ladders to reach them
even if they wanted
to be reached.

the code

if everyone
behaves,
is quiet
and doesn't fight
we'll stop and get
ice cream
your father says,
looking into
the rearview mirror.
it's been the code
by which you've
lived by your
entire life.

true love

i have a new boyfriend
she tells
you over coffee.
we're movng in
together this weekend
but what about us,
you ask her,
nibbling on your
bagel, trying not
to let the butter dribble
onto your clean
white t shirt. there never
was an us, she says.
but you've only known
him for a week
you tell her, is that
enough time to know
someone enough to move
in with them.
i like his little kids
and his dogs, she says.
we can make this work.
and besides, he needs me.
he doesn't have a job
and he broke his
leg in a bar fight a few
nights ago. i can help him.
well, okay, you tell her.
you must know what
you're doing. i guess we're
broken up then.
i love him, i really really
love him she says,
and takes a sip of her
vanilla latte, leaving a
nice coat of foam on
her upper lip.

Monday, August 20, 2012

the carnival worker

the carnival
worker, with missing
teeth and a tattoo
of a skull
and crossbones
on his chest,
bared by his oily
denim vest
takes your three
year old child
into his hands
and places him in
the tilt a whirl.
straps him into
his sticky seat.
it's a kodak
moment, one that
you wished you
would have snapped
if you didn't
think that the man
would have
taken a wrench to
your head.
instead you hand
him two tickets
which he tears
in half and grins.
it's as if he can read
your mind. stand back
he says as your son
waves with his
tiny hand,
and the machine
sends him high into
the air,  oblivious
to the world
that awaits him.

cat and mouse

your cat
comes in from
being gone
for several days
and brings
you a mouse.
you tell her thank
you as she lays it
at your feet.
you go get her
a treat and bowl
of cold milk
which makes her
purr and stare
into your eyes
longingly. but
this is as far as
it will go.
she's a cat
and you, well
you're not a cat.

you are here

you are here.
for now.
later you will be
someplace else.
with someone
that you don't
know yet.
you take nothing
with you, you leave
nothing behind.
your memories
are their memories
too, but yours
are better.
you  embellish them
before they occur.
but for now you
are here, it's where
you need to be
before you go
to the next place.
everything is
known, nothing is
known. everything
is new. everything
is old. you are here.

the beauty

confused
the bird sails
into the window.
her beak pinging
against the glass,
then drops
like a wet rag
to the pavement.
suicide never
crosses your mind,
but you wonder.
with the weather
changing, the clouds
and cold
inching in closer
that perhaps
this bird has had
enough of worms
and bugs,
nests and finding
shelter
when it snows.
if only she had stopped
to see the beauty
in her own reflection.

oregano drops

you buy
oregano in
liquid form.
you have a small
brown mole
you'd like to be
gone, as in out
damn spot.
and the vitamin
store clerk,
all eighteen
years of her
explains and promises
that yes, this
will work.
three drops per
night and voila
it's gone.
but you can't
stop the drop from
doing what drops
do accroding
to the laws
of physics. gravity.
and it rolls down
the side of your
face, stinging
and staining along
the way.
and as your day goes
by, each person sniffs
in your direction
and asks you
what you had for
lunch. italian?

what comes along

not a small wonder
the leg
entering or
leaving
a room, a door,
down a step
or in rythmn
in heels
clicking down
a long
corridor,
what man can't
resist
looking at such
a sound
to see what
comes along.

the circle

the women
both young
and old sit
in a circle
needles out, balls
of yarn
at ease in soft
rotation
as the yarn
slips up into
a scarf or
hat, or something
undetermined
yet. there is
a pause
for sips of coffee,
for words
said.
then back to
the clink and clink
of metal
on metal, the rock
of chairs.
the wind.

between the shores

the wind surfer
glides
swiftly across
the grey blue
chop of the inlet.
his bright
green sail is
full of an early
autumn wind
as he twists
and turns, bends
his body
and mast
to where he wants
to go.
he's alone out
there. no ships
to beware of,
between the shores.
at an age
when he can do
this. alone.

the coal mine

when in the mine
you shake your head
at how hard
the work is.
the darkness,
the damp floors
and walls.
the endless chipping
at a mountain
from the inside
out. and when
the work ends,
how you long
for it again,
to feel the weight
of the hammer
in your hand.

a new lamp

a new lamp
sits upon your night
stand. bright
upon the book
page.
its blue glass
shines
under the bulb
and white
linen shade, as
white as a cloud
on a fresh
spring day.
small things
can change
everything,
sometimes.

all roads

all roads
have an end
of sorts.
whether it be
a mountain,
or an ocean,
or a valley
each path
finds a stopping
point.
and that's why
there are
other roads
to take
and travel
on your way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

a good dream

as the branch
in the wind
paws
at the glass
window
where you sleep
you make it part
of your dream.
the window
is your shoulder
the branch
her fingers
tapping\
softly, trying
to wake you.
it's a good
dream.

bacon and eggs

you miss the mornings
when you could roll
out of bed, go down
to the kitchen and fry
up some bacon
and eggs, toast and jam,
maybe a couple of
waffles with real
butter and canadian
maple syrup. a pile of
hash browns and
a cold glass of orange
juice on ice.
now it's a half a banana
and a dry slice of bagel.
what the hell has happened
to the this country?

mind reading kiosk

you suddenly wake up
with the power
of reading minds,
so you set up shop
at the airport, a little
kiosk next to
the cinnabon store.
you only charge
five dollars for a full
reading, two dollars
for a passing thought.
the first customer
is a woman in a hurry,
dragging her suitcase
through the bustling
airport. she's biting
her lip. close your
eyes you tell her,
relax, then you place
your fingers on
her temples,
but that's just for
show and effect.
you can do this across
the room if you had
to. hmmm, you say,
let's see.
you are angry and full
of anxiety over
your children, you tell
her. they don't
appreciate you.
your husband takes
you for granted and
is selfish in bed,
his snoring keeps you
up all night.
you are thinking of leaving
when the kids get
out of school, leaving
him for your secret lover,
louise, your
best girlfriend, but
you are afraid of what
others might think.
and how it would effect
your status on the PTA.
that will be five dollars
you tell her. no advice,
she says. that's it?
advice is extra you tell
her and i only do advice
on fridays, come back then.
but, i'm flying to kansas
today. sorry, you tell
her. that's a shame.
good luck.

time clock

when you slid
the card into the time
clock and heard
the thump of the date
and hour being
imprinted onto
the lined weekly
sheet, you had a way
of counting days,
seeing years
unfold.
the hours marked
on your meager
paycheck. it was all
there, where you were,
where you had
to be. it's  been nice
without the clock
all these decades.

touch stones

she throws nothing away.
her third grade
valentines are in
a box at arms reach.
that riding crop,
a book on planting seeds.
the shoes she ran
a race in two hundred
miles ago. these are
touch stones.
necessary to keep
her heart and mind
linked to the memories
of her life. she's no
different than me,
i see, as i stare at a closet
full of shirts and shoes
and things i'll
never wear or need.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

the astronomy of love

the astronomy
of love
 is complex.
it involves
timing, being
at the right place
at the right time,
like an eclipse
with the moon
shadowing
the earth,
or the orbit
of a meteor circling
the galaxy
and finally making
it's way back
into view.
the stars and planets
need to align,
but you don't when
it's coming
you can only
keep looking
upwards with your
eye pressed to
to the glass, your
heart not obstructed
by the clouds.

botox for cars

i can fix that
he says, leaning out
his window.
i can fix that dent
in your car.
one hundred dollars.
you'll never
know it was there.
i can smooth
out that crimp
in your fender,
polish and repaint
the spot.
you'll be like new
again, a hundred
dollars, what do
you say mister.
but you smile and
say no. that's okay
i kind of like
my dents.

leopard skin pill box hat

she really
did have
a leopard skin
pill box hat
and shoes
to match.
but it wasn't
why i loved
her, no,
it was much
more
than that.
although
it strangely
helped.

Friday, August 17, 2012

the dive

the boy
drowning
screamed
in the middle
of the pool
thrashing his
arms as if bitten
by a shark.
despite not knowing
how to swim
he gathered his
nerve and dove off
the board into
the  deep end.
a lifeguard jumped
off his chair
and pushed
him three feet
to the side.
then moved his
fifty pounds
up and over
onto the concrete
apron.
children gathered
to look at
his white face
in shock
his eyes lit up
twice their
normal size
and at his mother
yelling at him,
what are you
crazy, or something.

the summer catch

on the short grass
of summer
we'd take
the ball to the field
and throw
and throw until
our arms hurt.
each year
a little faster,
a little longer
he would become.
his hands
more sure.
his moves quick
and fast
as he dodged
invisible defenders.
soon, it was he
outlasting me
as it should be.
but we stayed
until the last
light. we'd run,
we'd throw
on the short
summer grass.

quiet moon

quiet moon
untouched
by what we do
or don't
do. our motions
mean little
to it's position
and movement
in the sky.
we will
live, we will
die, and it
will forever,
at least as far
as we know,
hang luminous
in the silk
black sky.

the island

that's you
swimming
with
hard swift strokes
arm over arm.
kicking
your legs,
turning your
face side
to side
breathing.
you'll swim
all night
if you have to
to get
to that island
where the palm
trees sway
where the hula
girls hula,
where
there's  no more
work,
just play.

say cheese

here let me take
your picture by the water
stand over there.
perfect. wait, what
are you doing with
your hands. nothing.
well, put them down.
but i'm pulling my
skin back, making
my face tight so that
you can't see my
wrinkles. no one wants
to see wrinkles.
whatever. okay, pull
your sagging wrinkly
skin back, here, i think
i have a rubber band
to tie it all behind
your head, that way
you can free up
one hand to place
on your chin for
that pensive model look.
okay. good. better
hurry, that rubber
band is not going to
hold for long. say
cheese.

flying by

if you listen
long and hard enough.
put your head
out the window
lean against
the hard bark of a tree
put your ear
to the railroad
track, you can hear
the whistle of time
flying by.
flying by.

chickens

there was time
growing up when it
was nothing to see
a flat bed truck
full of chickens
stuffed in their
crates. feathers
flying, squawking,
as they went off
to their final resting
place. you don't see
that anymore.
at least not around
here. but there are
a lot of places selling
chicken, just not
the traveling kind.

barcelona

as a child
you remember
barcelona
where melons were
growing on the wide
beaches.
trees swaying
along roads.
the clear arc
of the sea, a velvety
green lying
before you.
and the burlap
bag, full of new
born kittens
being carried
by a  man
to the water.

wrong number

this is all fiction
you tell her.
i'm making this stuff
up as i go along.
none of it is true
so you have nothing
to be upset about.
what are you talking
about, she says.
i just saw you last
night when we had
that fun romantic
time in the elevator
and twenty
four hours later you
are writing about it
in your stupid blog.
you even used my
real name. what's up
with that?
who is this anyway,
you ask. do i
know you. you may
have the wrong
number. got to go.

the lost war

she calls you
a name. a bad name.
you're having a fight.
but she's using
sharp weapons, words
of swords, bullets
of memories.
poison darts
of promises broken
and remembered.
it isn't a fair fight
at all. as you throw
a marshmallow
or two
of affection
in her direction.
you duck the flame
thrower
of jealousy, run out
of the line of fire
from the cannon
ball of her broken
heart. it's a lost
war.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

the apple core

you toss
an apple core
towards
the basket
in the corner.
it hits the rim
and bounces off
onto the floor.
you pray
that it isn't
an omen
before you
start your day.

training bras

you have no
experience
with basic training,
or driving a
train, or even seeing
once, a training
bra. what is there to
train. what tricks
are they to do.
once they graduate to
the full sized bra.
confusing to say
the least. and my dog
never got a moment
of training.
in fact he's on the couch
sleeping next to
a bra he chewed
in half and it wasn't,
as far as i can tell
a training bra at all.
it appears to be
a full sized
regulation bra
that he found
somewhere
and ripped apart.

having a baby

she calls you on the phone
and screams,
we're not pregnant.
we're not going to have
a baby. did you hear
what i just said.
you are in the middle
of attaching a mobile
above the crib
in the freshly painted
mint green room
that used to be your
wine cellar.
oh, you say, trying not
to sound too
disappointed. i guess
that's good. you
stare at the box
of toys and the car
seat, all still in
their boxes on the floor.
the baby monitor is hooked
up to the kitchen
and out to the deck
where your hot tub is.
bottles and diapers
are stacked in piles
along with blankets
and dr. suess books.
what's wrong, she says,
you sound sad. no, not
really, you tell her.
i just wanted to be the first
eighty year old man
to attend his daughter's
highschool graduation.

this is why we drink

i don't smoke
or drink, she tells
me. or eat red meat,
or anything that comes
in a box, nothing
packaged.
no salt or sugar
either. and as far
as the sun goes,
i don't allow
it to  touch my skin.
it's clear, spring
water, filtered
for me. and well
washed lettuce
with maybe a little
piece of wild
salmon. and as
far as sex goes.
i need to see some
blood work
on your before we
even kiss. so keep
your distance.

it's not about sex

you toss and turn
all night. someone
is on your mind.
and it doesn't relate
to sex, well, at least
not for the past
five minutes.
the dog is frustrated
with your movements
and growls at
you. you shake your
head and try
to move his long
heavy body out of the way.
who sleeps diagonally.
another growl.
you look at the clock.
4 thirty. only three
more hours of not
sleepling before you
have to get up
and go to work.
you wonder if she's
up yet and can't sleep
either, because of you.

large pizza for delivery

you go to the fridge
and look in.
top shelf, middle,
bottom.
there's very little
to eat. pickles.
tabasco sauce.
something wrapped
in foil in the shape
of an isosceles
triangle. it might
be pizza. it is pizza.
hard as stone.
you pull
the drawer
on the crispers.
one is stuck so you
can't open it,
the other has lettuce
and a  white onion
rolling around.
the orange ball
might be an orange.
one side is soft
and green, like a
sweater your mom
gave you for christmas
one year and never
wore. the pizza
gives you an idea.
you grab the phone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

cosmo girl

you see
in the news
that helen
gurley brown
has died. the cosmo
woman. famous
for her twenty ways
to sexually please
a man. i can only
think of three.
you always
thought it ironic
how the magazines
cover girls were
big bosomy women
who could barely
contain their breasts
from popping
out of their tight
fitting blouses
or dress. while helen.
well, helen could use
a sandwich or two.

wrestling gators

out of work
you get a job wrestling
alligators down
at the local
swamp farm.
people pay
two dollars to come
in and see you
grapple with the long
green beasts
with rows and rows
of razor sharp
teeth. sometimes
when you pry open
their mouths
you stick your head
in and let the kids
take pictures of
you. everyone oohs
and ahhs
and clap happily
when you let them
go and the gators
long  mouths
snap shut.
you like that.
everyone needs
a little appreciation
in their life.

her perfume

when she died
you saved a clipping
of her hair.
a scarf, a sweater,
the socks she used
to wear
in winter. there
was a small bottle
of perfume too.
white linen.
and as the weeks
went on after her
death, you'd
lean into and
let a slight spray
fill the hollow of
your hand, your
heart. then you
stopped
and let her go
to where she needed
to go. keeping
only the empty
bottle.

failure to communicate

so many ways
to say
hey. the string
and tin
cans tied
together.
smoke signals.
the phone,
the text,
the mail,
the shout
across the fence,
semaphore,
the telegraph,
or morse code,
just tap tap
tap and say hey.
a letter
an e mail.
or tweet
and twitter,
so many ways
to get your point
across,
so why throw
a rock through
my window
with a  note
attached?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

first day of school

you remember
the first day of school
the chill and dark sadness
of summer coming
to a close.
your new hard shoes,
and clean, unblemished
clothes. a sturdy
notebook, white from
start finish, still
doodle free, still
waiting for the first
girl's name you fall
for ending with yours.
the neat rooms,
teacher's as starched
and fresh as can
be. new books,
a new coat of paint,
the smell still hanging
in the air covering
last year's graffiti
and crude drawing
of the principal, pants
down, and bare.

quick sand

the quicksand
you are in, is not
a metaphor for life.
nor a reason
to believe that you
need to be
more careful
about where
you step,
where you go
at night. it's just
a sinking hole
of wet sand that
you've blundered
into. now throw
me a rope, and save
me the lecture.

the blind cat

the blind cat,
whiskered
and blue eyed
finds his way
easily
through the maze
of tall tree
legs, throw rugs,
wall edges,
vases
and a coat
rack in the hall.
the slow
soft step of his
feet and nose
against the world
now dark
is good enough
to find food,
to find water,
to find love
and the warm
lap of me.

one of them

you don't mind so much
limping after another
injury from playing a sport
you should one day quit,
but you do mind
the others that are limping
beside you. much
older people leaning
on canes and crutches,
grabbing the motorized
carts as they negotiate
the grocery lanes. am i
one of them, already,
you think, cringing,
as you lift a box
of wheat thins into
your basket already
full of grapes
and figs, soft cheese.

jury duty

summoned for jury duty
you put on your white shirt
and tie. blue, conservative
and safe. then go down
to plead your case. you feel
that everyone is guilty
of something, but they
haven't yet been caught.
you tell this to the judge
who you hope will free
you from your civic duty
and let you go back home.
instead he laughs, and puts
you in handcuffs.
take him and find out what
he know, he says to the
bailiff. spare no pain.
confession is good for
the soul, he says, then
hammers his gavel down.

water and sand

someone said something
about how the ocean
never stops, but repeats
itself even when we are
asleep, how blue it is
and isn't each moment
of the day.
and then no one said anything
for awhile, we stood
there on the porch
against the sand, before
the brush and sea oats,
the line of weeds, and we
listened to the sigh of
water against the earth.
as well as our own.

holding on

you  sit and ponder
the day. a plate of full
hours lie before
you, untouched.
already it's ten,
and coffee has not
been made. you fold
the paper over,
hiding the headlines,
the weather, the gossip
the news that is thin
with importance.
the trees are holding
onto green. the clouds
holding onto rain.
and you, what are you
holding onto,
this day.

the hot iron

the iron
being hot
sizzles
to the touch,
steams out
the wrinkles
of us. smooths
the creases
and rumpled
nature of who
we are.
slow and hot
with the deep
sigh of it's
casing, is how
we need to keep
things, starched
and ready.

the bee hive

after you've rattled
the bee hive
with a wrong step
through the ivy
thick on the ground
you take off running,
you can't help but think
of how you feel
when strangers, or
salesmen
knock at the door,
and allow all these
stings to be forgiven.

the quilt

she said i'd love
to show you my quilt
sometime. i'm almost
finished. two years in
the making. you yawn
when you realize
that she really is
talking about a quilt,
and say okay. wake
me when it's done,
or better yet, stretch it
out across me when
i'm old and the cold
winds come.

repetition

sometimes this life
reminds you of other
lives. other journeys
you have taken,
other places that you've
lived. sometimes
the people you know
remind you of friends
from the past, lovers
long gone. relatives
departed. sometimes
this life repeats itself,
like lines in a poem,
said again and again
to comfort you towards
the next place you'll be.

Monday, August 13, 2012

so few dragons

so few dragons
to slay these days.
instead of the sword
and the armor
glistening upon your
chest, or
the white steed
galloping off
carrying you
to some crusade or
to save a true love
in danger, your
hand instead
grips the strap
of a subway
car, the other holding
a briefcase
while you lean and
sway between
the light and
dark tunnels of
your day, not unlike
the days before it.

the poetry reading

you arrive late
for the poetry reading
and find a seat
in back. there are
a hundred women
there holding notebooks
and pads, big purses
and fancy
eyewear with red
frames, or electric
blue. like chameleons
stilled on their
faces. there is one
man from india
who introduces them
and another man with
a beard and blushed
face who seems
important. ten women
will read a poem they wrote
about the writing center,
the retreat where
they retreat from house
and home, siblings
and husbands who
are like vague
stalks of brush,
children too,
in the wind. there is
a poem about a fox.
one about the snow.
another about a child
lost. all good poems.
all well read, performed.
you sigh, and sink
a little into your seat.
unsure of why this is
so disheartening.

your passing life

the black pool
of soft water,
unable to edge out
from it's circle
of trees and brush,
dull moss, is a mirror
of the sky. absorbing
each cloud, each line
of sunlight
that finds its way
through the high
pines. how many times
have you circled,
when running,
and  marveled
at it's darkness,
the cold ebony eye
of what you precieve
it to know about you
and your passing life.

buttocks

in a rare moment of
feeling old and unloved
you throw all of your books
away and you begin
to go to the gym.
your arms get large,
your biceps bulge
with giant scoops of muscle.
you rip off all of your
shirts at the shoulder
to reveal the new you.
you have three protein
shakes a day.
you go to a tanning booth
to bronze the statue
that you have become.
you put a full length mirror
over your bed. in the morning
you flex your muscles
and hold your breath,
pulling your stomach in.
your goal today is abs.
wednesday is for calves.
thursday is for buttocks.
which is what she
called you to get this
whole thing started.

the ice cream cone

deserving as you
are from a long
hard day of work
and sweat
you throw
calories to
the wind and
buy a double
scoop of ice cream.
almond fudge
and mint chip
on a sugar cone.
you lick it
slowly, thinking
of cooler days,
and that dress
she wore the last
time you saw
her. other things
you feel you've
earned.

she was kind like that

she leaves
in the middle
of the night
with one suitcase,
the old car,
her cat. she leaves
the dog,
and leftovers
in the fridge.
she was always kind
like that.
she even put
a pot of coffee
on for the morning
so that i could
sit there and
read the note
she wrote
about sorry, but
i'm never coming
back. she was
kind like that.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the king of ponchos

tired of today's fashions
you decide to make your own
clothes. something smart
and cool, not tight, not
loose, but just right.
you make a list of what you
will need to begin your
fashion design and production.
needle, thread, fabric.
scissors. maybe a large
flat table to spread out
your design. a table lamp.
coffee. you'll need lots
of coffee. you'll start with
shirts, they seem easy
enough. buttons, sleeves.
maybe some pants next.
or shorts. yeah shorts.
with buttons, not zippers.
maybe velcro. maybe you'll
make some clothes for
your dog too. maybe you'll
get some runway models
to prance around in your
clothes. perhaps a poncho.
one for you and one for
your girlfriend wilma.
maybe wilma could model
them. strut down the cat
walk. how hard can it be to make
a poncho. ten feet of
fabric, punch a hole in
the middle and slip it on.
you could be the king of ponchos
in the fashion world.
from paris to new york.
your mind runs through
the possibilities, but it makes
you very sleepy, and so
you take a nap dreaming
of clothes you'll never make.

fifty meets thirty

i see by your horoscope
that you like to live on the edge.
is that true, she asks.
are you a rebel.
so true, you tell her.
in fact i am on the edge
of town, near the railroad
tracks. i'm quite edgy
that way. my middle
name is james dean.
quite rebellious. who is
that. is he a neighbor
of yours. yes, you tell
her., crossing your eyes.
and pointing your body
towards the door.
he died at an early age.
oh, that's so sad. it must
have been hard for you.
was he a close friend.
did you friend him on
facebook. no, you tell her.
he was too much of a rebel.
he would never have
joined such a silly site.
wow, that is edgy, she says.
well. hey. i gotta go.
see you around. i have
to go get a tatto today. oh,
me too, she says, can we
go together. no, you
tell her. i need to be alone.
which makes her swoon.

go to sleep

go to sleep
and think no longer
about the day.
or the next one
yet to come.
let the stars
fall where they may,
the clouds
move where they
must go. there is
no stopping
the rain. go to
sleep. go to sleep.

your hands

your hands
are getting old.
you see them
in the light
on a book,  reaching
for a knife
or fork.
they are thick
with years,
calloused and
veined.  soft spots,
brown, lie along
the thumbs. they
are the hands you've
held other hands
with, hands that
gripped tools.
the waving
of hello or
farewell, all a
part of them.
these are the hands
that were young
and traced lines
against a cold
winter window.
they have been empty,
they have been
full. they are
your hands. no
one else's.

blue is not blue

blue is not always blue.
nor red red.
your eyes see
a different color
than mine. the words
spoken or written
are not the ones
we share and hear.
there is
a misunderstanding
that is impossible
to sort out. feelings
are hurt. grudges
kept. the lines of
communication have
been crossed and tied
hard into knots. not
even time can assure
them falling apart.
no pulling can
free what's lost.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

no renoir

they went to mars,
not anyone, but a robotic
machine with which
to traverse the hot
red soil so far away.
seven months in space
and then a soft, gentle
landing. things beeped
and took pictures.
wheels moved, and
gears set free, unwound.
it scooped up samples.
nothing. dirt. rocks.
sand, gravel, no air
to speak of, no renoir
either, or van gogh.
no sound, no brahms
playing, no choirs
singing. nothing.
no angular lines
like frank lloyd wright
might do, or
pyramids, or castles.
not a single book turned
to page one. these
were the best of times.
nothing. why
didn't they know.
but now they do.

the notebook

the little girl
next door, with glasses.
sits in the chair
her mother sits
in all day, and
her grandmother too.
smoking cigarettes
talking on their
phones. but the girl
is alone. the screen
door hardly blocking
the agruments from within.
she scribbles
absently in her
notebook, staring up
at the old trees,
heated and dry
from the long summer.
she follows the path
of a bird as it floats
by with barely a
movement of wing.
she is quiet, this girl,
shy and small.
but you can tell
that she has found
a place to go to,
to be safe in.

the third act

when the curtain
rises and the first actor
speaks, you sit back
and listen.
the music is eerily
reminiscent
to what you listened
to this morning.
a woman comes
onto the stage
and says things
that you've heard
before, details
about your life.
mistakes were made,
loves were lost.
things that only one
person could know.
before the act
is over you realize
that this is story
of your life.
and as the third
and final curtain
rises, you get
up to leave.
you'd rather not
know how it ends.

the few escape

the world
keeps us here
in our homes
our jobs
our loveless
marriages.
keeps us unread
unmoved
by great art
or science.
the world keeps
us down
and out, unable
to crawl from
the cave
we live in.
stuck in our
cars for hours
going from one
place to another.
no one seems
to mind,
it just continues
this way.
maybe the lucky
get out, the insane.
the oscar
wilde's of the world.
maybe they can
get free, but
not many. not many.

Friday, August 10, 2012

we could get married

we could get married,
yes. we could adopt
children, house trained
children with spellable
names. we could
go to some far away
land to find a child
almost grown,
because we are too old
now to have babies. at
least i am. okay, forget
the kids. we could
get a house near the river.
a picket fence would
be optional. i prefer
no fence. but a dog would
be nice. maybe some
chickens and a rooster.
scratch that. maybe
a cat to keep the mice
away. you could have
a garden to work in,
i could have a hammock
to lie in and watch you
dig and plant,
while swinging sleepily
between two
great oak trees.
our neighbors would envy
us, and wish that
they were us,
had our bliss.
we could get
married. rent a hall,
send out invitations
to all of our friends
not on facebook. you
could wear white,
a long dress with flowers
behind your ears.
i could too, a t shirt
with flip flops and a
ball cap. we  could keep
it simple. hot dogs on
the grill, cold beer,
maybe shrimp on a skewer
for those with special
dietary needs. hummus,
if you insist.
wine in a box. someone
could sing, someone
could play an instrument,
anything but the bag
pipes, or the harpsicord.
no banjos either.
someone could make a
speech telling us
how wonderful
we are. everyone would
applaud with great
enthusiasm and wide smiles.
there could be dancing
too. we could get married.
throw all of our
belongings and  money
into one communal
pile and call it love. we
could live happily ever after.
we could, we really could.
but why, when it's so good
the way it is.

let it rain

don't let the rain
bother you.
absorb
the cold, the wetness
that life
brings when
the clouds arrive
and the sunny
side is no longer
warming
your face and hands.
curl into
the big chair,
bring the window
closer.
let the sky
have it's different
way today
with you.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

the gravity of lust

she is the moon
lunar
and white
silk upon bone.
gathering
a distant
reflective
light from
a star far away.
i orbit her
searching for
a landing point.
letting the gravity
of lust
pull me in
and take me
to her dark side.

give till it hurts

the cadillac,
pink and gleaming
in the stone driveway
next to the gabled
mansion that rises
over the green slope
of grass to the river
where a long boat
sits lanquidly, like
a woman floating
on the water. god's
money has been
good to me,  he
thinks as he pens
his next sermon in
the window. tapping
his gold ring into
the next thought.
give till it hurts
he writes,
give more and god
will love more.

the unshakened tree

the unshakened
tree keeps
some of what's
gone bad,
sour or bittered
in your yard.
keeps you
awake at night.
it takes a sunny
day and a cold
heart to go
out and remove
what's no longer
good for
your life. so shake
hard, from
the bottom up,
and let things
fall where they
may.

the gift shop

the clerk says hello
when the bell
jingles with the door.
are you local
she says, adjusting
a seashell lamp
from china
above the books
of bad poetry by
mrs. lindbergh.
no, you say, and smell
a bar of soap.
rose petals.
you set it down and
smell the cinnamon
soap shaped
like a tiny
loaf of bread.
you sneeze then
pick up an empty
blue bowl.
you hold it to the light
with two hands.
sea glass,
she says. it's  made
of sea glass. careful.
you set it down.
moving towards
a barrel
of small sea monkeys
made of lava stone.
she has nothing
to say about those,
they are only ten dollars
a piece.
you almost buy
one, but don't. you're
hungry and don't want
to be burdened with a
a bag. you ask her
where might you find
a nice sandwich.
she shrugs and says.
beats me. the bell jingles
again as you leave.

it's monday

you draw a circle
at your feet
with a thin stroke
of black paint.
you put a line through
it. you add another
circle, a square.
another line, a solid
dot. you make
a swirling motion
with your brush,
dipping it into red
paint. slashing at
the canvas.
you stand back,
hands on your hip.
shake your head
and turn it
over. it's monday.

therapy paint

the customer you
can't please
is at your door.
he wants remorse
from you.
something like sorrow
and confession.
with penance
to follow.
his happiness goes
beyond
the wallpaper,
beyond the paint,
beyond
the nail hammered,
or plaster
smoothed. his pain
started elsewhere
but he wants it to
magically end
with you.

the worn trail

the worn trail
beaten down to dirt
and stone
the grass feathered
away, the wash
of rain
and ice, the snow
melting, has deepened
the rut,
the way
to the stream.
you follow it down,
into the years,
into the bends
and folds
of your own legs.
leaning on
new trees
and old. you'll
continue to go
as long as you can,
habit being what it
is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

without words

speaking with their hands
only, deaf
to our world, but not
theirs, subtle
gestures are made, with palms
and fingers, like
small birds
wrestling in the air,
saying everything
that needs to be said.
the eyes and mouth
repeating,
the nod of head,
the smile or grimmace.
all perfectly dancing
in this silent
ballet.

the shyness of skin

the shapes we end
up in, are not always
expected.
the body moving
with the wind
of time, the burden
of food into
directions that don't
exactly flatter.
but at the beach there
is no shame
for what has been
done, or not
done. for there is
the ocean, the wind
and sky, the sun.
there is the promise
of starting tomorrow
to change,
that eases
the care and shyness
of skin.

the peppers

your father gives
you a bag full of ripe
tomatoes.
fat and red.
at least a dozen.
off the vine
from his small squared
garden next
to the air conditioner
unit, and long hoe
that leans
with the handle
worn from
a summers work.
you see where his
hands have found
the sweet spot
along the wood.
the peppers aren't
quite ready, he says.
so come back
soon for them.

what you take home

you take the  beach home
with you
in the wet clothes
rolled
and bagged,
stuffed into the trunk
of your car,
the shoes full
of sand. the salt water
taffy
stuck together,
never to be eaten
in this lifetime, by
you or whoever
finds it.
you take home
the receipts
for salmon, for rockfish,
for oysters
on a half shell
with a squeeze
of lemon and a dash
of hot sauce.
you take home
the blurred photos
of sunsets and black
commas dashing across
the far horizon.
porpoises.
you take home
the smell of the ocean
of oils, of the deep
fried boardwalk,
the sweat, the burn,
the memory,
always sweet
when fall begins
and wind
chills.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

each to their own

the trees are full
of birds.
bark brown, or
yellow,
some red,
others black
as stones,
whistling, each
to their own
song, their own
nest, their own
way of living.
all different
and yet the same.
as the summer
ends,  winter
comes for all.

new shoes

for over an hour,
waiting at the bar.
hair done. new dress.
lipstick on.
staring at her watch
her phone. she
sags, wilted.
no ring, no text,
no nothing. stood up.
she sips her drink
and looks around
the room. everyone
is talking, eating.
smiling. she is adrift
as she puts down
her money, makes
her way slowly
to her car. she feels
the straps of her
new shoes cut into
her feet. it doesn't
matter.

to unsee

sometimes you wish
you could unsee
what you have seen,
unhear what you've
heard, unsay what
you shouldn't have
said. but there is no
soap for that. no
magic eraser for life.
which steers you
towards more selective
choices of your
fragile senses, most
of the time.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

lunch money

you see the slip
of paper on the table
in bold black ink.
mortgage, water,
food, gas, insurance.
miscellaneous.
and there are numbers
besides each word.
down to the penny.
all of it totalled
then subtracted from
a number that's under
the heading
income. you feel
guilty and invasive
for taking a peek
at this note left out
in the open. it
makes you cringe,
that even at seventy
the count still goes on.
you put your hand
into your pocket,
feeling the bills.
lunch.

one out of three

do you have
any books with
pictures, she asks,
tippy toeing in
her high heels,
staring at your den
filled with shelves
of dusty books
collected through
the years. yes, you
tell her and hand
her a book on
pastas in twenty
minutes, then point
towards the kitchen.
but i don't cook,
she says, and i don't
read. well, you tell
her, i guess we'll
have to make do
with one out of three.

telling the story

a story is sometimes
just that, a story told
over and over again
until there are only
embellishments, not
facts. it's better that
way, to spice it up,
to make the plot
juicy, the theme eternal,
to make the hero more
heroic, the villian
more evil, the love
interest more loving.
and finally to make
the dog, less barking
and smart enough
to go get help.

the big hat

she likes to wear
hats. big hats
with wide brims
that lift and sag
in the wind.
sometimes she'll
be lifted off
the ground
and take flight.
i'll see her out
the window.
with purse in
hand like mary
poppins, smiling,
and waving to me.
i want a big hat
too.

freedom

off his chain
the dog runs and runs
towards
the hill, the sweep
of plains.
his tongue out,
his eyes bright
with the fire
of his freedom.
when he reaches
the point of no
return, he stops
and looks back,
he wants you to
come with him.
it's one thing to be
free, and another
being alone.

Friday, August 3, 2012

roasted potatoes

you fell in love
with roasted potatoes
somewhere along the way.
it may have been
a moonless winter
night. you can still
see them shimmering
crisp in light olive
oil on the counter
in the big pan. how
perfectly seasoned they
were, peppers and salts,
sprigs of parsley,
some carrots were
in there too, but more
for color and decoration.
you remember how her
hand ladled them onto
your plate, gently
as it they would break.
and as you closed your
eyes to the first bite
you said to yourself
quietly, this is what
love must be like.
and she said what are
you mumbling about?

the golf game

jerry likes to golf.
he has new clubs.
new shoes.
he wears
his golf pants
and golf shirt
and talks the golf
game. swing, stroke,
trap, wedge,
shank and putt.
hand me my five
iron he'll say, or
the greens
are fast today,
the fairway long
and tight.
he likes to go
with friends
and bet on holes,
while they drink
between the pines.
sometimes
his wifes comes
along, but he'd
rather she didn't
it cramps his style
and he has to stop
saying the F word
after each hit
of the ball.

my ear hurts

she's bitter
like an almond
gone bad.
soured like fruit
left in a bowl
for weeks.
burnt toast.
she's got
blisters
on her heartstrings.
callouses
on the soft soles
of her soul.
a dark road
this divorce is.
a dark
and dangerous
road. give her
a second on
the phone
and she'll
rant for
an hour. twenty
years of marriage
gone up
in flames
and she wants to
tell you all about it
from the first
lie to
the last. no stone
unturned without
a host of snakes
and worms
crawling out.

day off

you lean over
the sink and stare
into the  mirror.
you stick your tongue
out, check for
something that your
aren't sure of.
you throw some cold
water onto your face
and brush your teeth.
you spit in the sink
then look at the top
of your head. a few hairs
are growing faster
than some of the others
so you get the clippers
and buzz them off.
you pinch the sides
of your hips to see
if you can afford a
scone this morning.
nope. but you do
need coffee. what
time is it anyway.

e mail editing

i'm angry with you
i write in the e mail.
i don't feel like
things are right with us.
i can't believe the mean
things you said to me
last night. horrible things.
then backspace it all
and start again, i'm
unhappy with the way
things are going, i say.
i wish that....
nope, not that either,
more backspacing. i wish
that your love for me
was more apparent,
pffft, too weak. okay,
delete, delete, delete. i
look forward to seeing
you tonight sugarplum
perfect. click.send.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the oatmeal years

what isn't falling
out, or failing
is growing on
you in strange places.
take hair for
example,
why do the insides
of your ears suddenly
need hair
at this point
in your life,
or those lumps,
where did they come
from, when
did they arrive.
you are becoming
oatmeal with each
passing year.

on the ledge

i noticed
the other night
that there was a
man on the ledge
of my window
thirty floors up
from 5th avenue.
i opened it and asked
him if i could
help in any way.
i'm hungry, he said,
and it's raining.
a snack would be
nice, and an umbrella.
would you like
to come in, i asked.
sit by the fire.
i'll fix you something
to eat. no, he said.
i'm out here for a reason.
i'm proving a point
about  my life.
i understand
completely, i told
him. i was out there
myself last week.

your story

you begin to write your
own story,
your autobiography,
but it's terminally
boring, so you start
to make things up. shake
it up a little.
you throw in the lion
hunting and the war
correspondent tale.
you begin to date princess
and have affairs
with movie starlets.
you win the lottery
and give it all to charity.
you invent a new
fuel made out of
ordinary sand.
you tell about your
lavish parties for the rich
and famous
and how they adore you.
it's a great book
and it makes you happy
when it's finished.
to celebrate you go
to the kitchen
and have a beer and a
tuna sandwich.
you put a handful
of chips onto your plate
and a sweet pickle.
you look at
your watch. it's late,
ten thirty, time for bed.
five o'clock comes early
when you have to be at
the post office
to load letters
and packages onto
your truck.

summer olympics

after watching
one hundred and
thirty seven consectutive
hours of the olympics
i changed.
i became a different
person. i found myself
crying over the smallest
of stumbles
as i bent over to tie
my shoes, losing
my balance. when
i swam across
the community pool
and tried to hold my
breath the entire way,
but couldn't reach
the other side
because a  kid
was in the way
i broke down and threw
my hands skyward
with sorrow.
i sobbed over
being unable to reach
a box of rice
on the top shelf with
one quick jumping movement.
i hugged my mailman
when he threw me a package
and caught it. i hugged
the clerk at the 7 11
after using the counter as
a pommel horse.
i high fived everyone at
the metro stop. everyone,
when the train was on time.
i even hugged
my neighbor who
doesn't like me, but
it was a cold hug, like
the gymnasts do.
if i ran and missed the bus,
i bent over
and shook my head,
holding my hands
over my face, heaving
with despair thinking about
how disappointed my
parents must be,
whoever they are. but
there was glory too.
if i found my missing
car keys, or opened
the mail without a papercut,
or pulled the cupcakes
out of the oven
just in time, i jumped
for joy, pounding my
chest, smiling so
hard my teeth
were bursting like
chiclets from my mouth.