Wednesday, October 31, 2012

the last meal

the governor
calls and says that
your execution
is stayed
until further
notice. you look
at your bulging
stomach
stuffed with food
from your so
called last
meal. turkey
and gravy,
mashed potatoes.
green beans
and biscuits.
butter and milk.
two servings
of cherry pie.
you shake your
head and worry.
how will you ever
get this weight off
if they find
you innocent
and put you back
into the crowd.

mini ghouls

the ballerina
three feet
tall, a pink
spindle,
sticks out her paper
bag and says
trick or tweet,
and you drop in
candy.
the skeleton
is beside her.
rattling his
chilled bones
in his thin
fire retardant
costume.
then comes
the goblins
and ghosts
in the old white
sheets
from the guest
room closet,
the eyes
and mouth cut
out,
grabbing
at your big blue
bowl
of bite size
treats, greedy
even from
the grave.

on a ledge

you hear
the sirens out
on the street
and you see a man
out on the window
ledge
teetering
in the wind,
his hands
gripping
the sand loose
bricks
from behind,
his feet
grip the shallow
shelf of
cement.
he wants to jump
and he
doesn't. it could
be worse
on the other
side, could
be better. no matter
which decision
he makes,
his life will
never be quite
the same again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

divorce court


after the lawyers have
decided that you are
very close to draining
your bank account
they, hers and yours,
agree over lunch to settle.
so you take everything
you own.
every thing you've
ever possessed
and bring it into
the court room.
each dollar you've saved
and have left.
every penny
in a jar.
the car, the house.
the books.
the couch, everything
gets piled into the middle
of the room.
the judge puts his fingers
into his ears as
you both go on and on
about who did what,
who lied, who cheated,
who was an evil
horrible person. finally
after you've exhausted
yourself from saying
the same things
you've been saying for over
a year to your friends
and family someone comes
along with a chain
saw. let's call them
lawyers and cuts
all of the junk in half.
another person plows
your half towards you
and the other half
towards your soon to
be ex wife.
the judge then slaps
his hands together
and says, there you go.
now get out of here
and leave each other
alone. it's over. next.

group therapy

you go see your therapist
mildred at your regular
time on thursday. but when
you get there, there is a
room full of people sitting
in a circle. take a seat,
mildred says. today we
are doing a group session.
what the hell, you say.
i don't want these dopes
knowing all my personal
issues. now now, she says.
take a seat, and they are not
dopes, they are my patients,
and like you, need my
counseling. perhaps by
hearing other people's
problems we can learn
a little bit more about
our own. now sit down
over there. but that's not
where i want to sit. okay,
where would you like to
sit. right over there, where
i always do. okay, okay,
calm down. everyone move
down a seat so that mr.
special needs here can sit
where he wants to. this
makes everyone groan
as they get up and change
chairs.  the woman who was in
your chair sticks her tongue
out at you. it's cherry
red like she's being licking
a popsicle.  i hate you,
she whispers. drop dead
you tell her and kick at
her leg, but miss. hey, hey,
she screams, this nut tried
to kick me. okay, okay,
settle down. settle down.
we don't call each other
'nuts' in here. we are all
friends. partners in discovering
our true paths to self
improvement and health.
this makes everyone laugh
and cough loudly. okay,
settle down people,
she says. now who wants
to get things going?
the woman sitting next to
you, who you just tried
to kick, raises her hand
and says, i don't think my
father ever really loved
me, which makes you
mumble, pffft, no surprise
there. when she hears this
she jumps on top of you
and tries to put you into
a head lock, but you flip
her over and pin her
arms to the  ground. this
makes her cry though, so
you let her up. okay, okay.
mildred says. and what exactly
have we witnessed here, group?
get back into your seats.
anyone, anyone.
aggression? someone says.
a good wrestling move?
someone else says? no,
mildred says. how about
an expression of love. love
that knows no other way
to show itself except through
pain and suffering. i think
these two people deep down
inside really love one
another. while everyone
is nodding with approval
and applauding, the woman
beside you reaches over
and punches you
in the groin. take that,
daddy, she says, laughing
madly.
 

washboard abs

your friend jimmy
calls you
on the phone at nine
a.m.  you are on your
first cup of coffee
flipping through
the paper.
what's up you say.
nothing, he says.
umm, well then, what's
this call about.
are you sitting down
he says. yes, you
say, and turn the page.
i'm sitting. what's up.
well, i think i  might
be gay. he says.
this makes you spit
your coffee out
and hit the cat who
is sitting on the counter
licking a butter knife.
what are you talking
about. you've been
married three times
and have five kids.
i know, i know. it's just
that at the gym the other
day there was this
guy who was working out
on the stairmaster
and he had these abs.
like freaking washboards.
i couldn't take  my
eyes off him.
that means nothing. pfft.
you were just admiring
his physique, that's all.
that doesn't make you gay.
really, okay. good, whew.
i was getting worried.
hey, does that redhead still
live next to you, the one
who likes yoga so  much.
i think she likes me.

unanswered prayers

over and over
again,
you send a prayer
up. first on your knees
with head bowed,
eyes closed.
then you try
standing
on your head.
you wave
your arms to
the sky, you stamp
your feet like
a child who
wants candy.
you even bark like
your dog
does when
you are making
meatloaf. all day
and night you
do nothing
but pray and pray.
until someone tells
you that maybe, just
maybe the answer
is no. this makes
you very unhappy.
you don't like that
answer.

maple scones

in the flood
you take your small
boat
made from your coffee
table and
scrapes of wood
and row to
the coffee shop.
there is a line
of other home made
boats
waiting, an armada,
floating like
you, wobbling
on crates and such,
in the deep rain
water
that has fallen. they
are out of maple
scones, and this
ruins your day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

without a leash

with glee
the dog finds
the gate open
and runs
without looking
back.
the air
tastes different
from this
side of the fence,
the sky
seems more
blue, how
wide the road
is without a
leash
to hold him,
unaware
of danger.

the walls

how quietly
the bricks
go into place
and the walls
are formed.
the hands pushing
them tight into
the soft grey
mortar. the level
set, the bubble
bouncing, until
the tap of trowel
sets it right.
how fast the walls
we build, so
quietly in our
own daylight.

a small thing

flowered
walls
with stripes
along
the cooridor
up
the hall
where a single
crystal
light still
hangs
webbed
with strings
of time.
she can remember
when
the paper went
up, smoothed
wet into
place. how
young you
were, how happy
she was
for such a
small thing.

giving blood

feeling lonely,
you go down
to the blood bank
to make a deposit.
a nurse with a nice
smile and far
away eyes,
like green islands
on her placid
face, taps your arm
to find a vein.
kindly, shes slips
the needle in
and the dark
blood pours
upwards into
the thin
plastic bag
that hangs beside
you. it makes
you faint to see
the needle slide
in. to watch
the blood flow
out of you, you
grow pale
and sweat. you are
weak. your heart
is not used to
doing things
so nice. and as
you black out you
see the nurse
come over to save
you, the new
true love
of your life.

circus

the circus
comes into town.
it's a parade
of elephants
and clowns.
a man on stilts
a woman with
a beard. a caged
panther
with green eyes.
the acrobats
in their tights
feeling the need
to wave
and be sparkly.
the hunger artist
on a bed
of straw, wisened
without food.
his oversized
brown eyes
sad with what
he knows.
the jugglers with
pins, bouncing
on their toes.
the human cannon
ball with
smudges of black
on his red
face. there goes
the strong man
in his green tights,
flexing his balled
muscles. they seem
happy in their
life. going from
town to town
to take the grey
out of you.

emily

she stares out
the window
and sees
the sun. the trees.
a man walking
by. a horse
in a field.
she writes a poem.
she numbers
it after many
reworkings of lines
and words
then sets it
in a box, which
she slides
beneath her large
yellow bed.
tomorrow she'll
travel
into town
and write a poem
about that.
 

closet full of coats

a closet
full of coats.
black
and brown.
some thick
and heavy
to keep the wind
out. some
thin, for april
days.
the rain
coat, the blue
jacket
that doesn't
get worn. too
strange of blue
to be seen in.
they sit
on the shoulders
of wooden
hangers and
wait their
turn, for each
season
to change
so that they
too can have
their day
in the sun
or rain.

the storm

having done
everything
there is to do,
with nails
and boards,
sand bags,
and such, a
poem for you.
there is
nothing left
but to fold your
hands
and wait it out.
see what remains
when morning
comes.
 

unsweetened berries

surprised
at how unsweet
the bottle of juice
is, hitting your
mouth with a sour
bitter taste.
you spit it out
and shake
your head.
the label
and color,
the sparkle
of it all in
store light, has
fooled you once
again.

far away stars

how carefully
arranged
the stars seem
to be.
all in one place.
each night
when we look up
to see. the farther
things are
away, the more
we believe
that they never
change. how nice
a thing to think
about you,
and me.

the only road

your instincts
are still keen.
your eyes sharp.
you smell
and feel what's
up ahead
before it comes.
the curve
in the road,
the fallen tree.
a broken bridge.
the snake
that rises
coiled and ready
to strike,
once more.
you know this
road so well, it
has been
the only one.

love and marriage

at a certain age
somehow someway
you come to believe
that it's easy and simple.
marriage and children.
work. a house, a dog,
a fence to keep
everything you own, in.
it's a good fairytale.
a myth told around
the campfire of your
youth by adults
who know better,
but it has to be told,
for what else is there
to say, to keep the world
going? that would leave
only the bitter truth.

the opened wine

how different wine
is went left
out and uncorked
upon the table.
the first  sip
so sweet
making you dizzy
with thoughts
of goodness,
of what love could
be with another
glass or two.
and now, a day
later, it has no
taste. gone flat,
gone sour.
the rest poured
gently down
the drain. even
the label, wrinkled,
wet has become
unattached.

up there

a full moon
sits blissfully
on a handful
of blue clouds.
the sheen
and shine
a perfect round
offering
of celestial
art. it belongs
to no one.
not yours,
not mine.
but lovers yet
born, will think
otherwise.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

another train

the long train
leaves
you at the station.
cold
and wet on
the platform.
it pulls
away, and
pulls away.
the slow
clang of wheels
and engine
in your
brittle ears.
no need to wave
as it turns
the silvery
bend of track
and blinks
back with red
lights fading.

the knotted twine

you take a pair
of scissors
and cut
the strings of
your attachments.
the small
threads
that will unravel
you in time,
given a chance
to do so. you
snip, and slice.
the nibs
and nubs, the
knotted twine.

oh well

small shavings
of you.
slight and thin,
fall like
snow,
black and white
stubbles
from your
face into
the basin.
you cup your
hands under
cold water
and splash
your cheeks
and chin, then
take a quick
look into
the mirror. oh
well, you say,
again..
 

the horses

you hear
the gallop
of time
in your ears.
the heavy
breathing
of horses
in the field.
the stampede
of years
and hooves
rushing by,
rushing by.
 

Elmer

just when you think
you can get to sleep
you hear your neighbor
betty lou,
making love to elmer.
that's right, elmer.
you know his name
because she keeps repeating
it over and over
again at a high pitched
squeal. it doesn't last
too long before the rattling
bed subsides, but now you
lie there and think
about elmer, you wonder
if he was wearing overalls
and a straw hat
when he came to visit,
was he carrying a carton
of large brown eggs
and a quart of milk.

a twist of lime

at the wine festival
you take
your gift glass
and peruse the many
stations
and booths
of wine sellers.
there's a band
playing somewhere
in the field.
the mobs of
half lit
drinkers
stand at the wooden
bars awaiting
their small
spill of wine.
by sip three or four
you need an
aspirin
and a tumbler
of vodka
and tonic with
a twist of lime.
leave the bottle.

the lonely

can i buy you a drink
the man says
at the bar.
no, you tell him.
i have my
own, but thanks.
oh come on, he
says. don't be
like that. be friendly.
he puts his hand out.
you shake it firmly
and say,
i know that if
i accept a drink
from you, i'll have
to sit here and listen
to your life story. i
have to get going soon.
just one drink,
he says again
smiling and sipping
on his own. you
laugh and say, okay,
okay, one drink.
two hours later
he's showing
you pictures of
his grandchildren,
and showing you
the scar on his
forehead where
his third wife hit
him with a frying pan.
then he wants to arm
wrestle, and asks
you how many women
you've slept with
in your life. the lonely
are the friendliest
people at the bar.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

what you wish for

you wish
for sun
and get rain
you want
snow, but
the winds
are soft
and warm,
you want to
kissed
but instead
bruise
your lip on
another's
fist. you
want to be
prosperous
and find yourself
cutting coupons
by moonlight
at the kitchen
table,
what this says
about us,
i have no
idea.

your appetites

your appetite
for food
and drink
and love
is hardly quenched
with another
passing year.
your ears
bend towards
a fresh
voice, new
music.
even your
eyes need some
sort of beauty
to rest upon
once more.
this doesn't surpise
you, it cheers
you in some
strange way.

cliche

she tells you
firmly that
that's the last
straw,
i don't ever
want to see
you again.
your name is
mud around
here. and you
say. that's it?
you're
breaking up
with a cliche?
yes, she says,
i am.
because you are
one.

her favorite shoes

there is
no sign you,
of where
you've been
or where you
are. i've scoured
the news,
the paper,
and yet they
have no clue.
it's as if you
never were.
despite the fact
that under
my bed
is your favorite
pair of shoes.

the hydrangeas

in her other life
she'd swing
from the chandlier
and howl
madly at the moon.
she'd be
deep into
the wine by noon.
in another
life she'd be
on the phone all
day while
getting ready
for what
awaits her night.
in another life,
she'd wake up lonely
in a hotel room
with strangers,
but that was then
and this is now
and today it's about
the flowers, the roses,
the hydrangeas.

souls in transit

as the silver train
comes into view
blowing
it's whistle
as it crosses
the lake, the high
cement trestle
heading north
you can see
the faces
of travelers
against
the windows.
souls in transit,
in the air,
across the water
below the clouds.
you stamp your feet,
put your hands
into your pocket,
and press on.
 

the old trees

how the trees
sway
dancing
in the wind,
uprooting,
filling up with
rain. the seasons
passing before
their eyes. it's
time, at last
to lie down
and die.

batteries and water

you make a list
preparing
for the perfect
storm to end all
storms. already
the stores
are cleaned out.
batteries and water.
toilet paper.
how much peanut
butter can the world
eat in two days
of wind and rain.
apparently, alot.

bad luck

she throws a hat
upon the bed
then walks under
a ladder.
her three black
cats walk
in  front of her
in a cat parade.
she breaks a
mirror and steps
on all the cracks.
she's immune
to bad luck and
misfortune. at
least that's what
she thinks, ignoring
who i am.

Friday, October 26, 2012

the math

when a school boy
you loved
the finite numbers
of math.
the exactness
of equations being
solved. the puzzle
being worked
and answered.
but real life
is different, the numbers
are smudged.
the products
and sums are
hidden
and mysterious,
ever changing.
each year holding
another answer.
but your pencil
is sharpened
you keep at it.
 

for one life

you have
never seen
the leaning
tower of pisa,
or climbed
the effiel
tower.
you've never
forged the colorado
river, or
seen the pyramids,
but you've
kissed her,
felt her arms
around you,
and that's enough
traveling
for one life.
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

old friends


you've changed
she says.
how so, you
say.
i'm not sure
she says,
did you lose
weight?
no, why,
are you saying
that i looked
fat before, no,
i'm not saying that
at all. you just
seem happier,
or sadder, i'm not
sure which. are you
hungry, should
we get a bite
to eat.
i don't know, you say,
what kind of salads
do they have
here.

abducted by aliens

in the middle of the night
when visiting your
aunt melba in louisiana
you wake up
on a shiny steel table.
you are strapped down
with an iv in your arm.
that's for shock,
a tall alien says,
nodding and smiling
as best he can with an
elongated white head
and giant egg eyes.
what the hell, you say,
wriggling in the straps.
what's going on here?
relax, another alien says.
he seem to be the boss.
he has a mustache and
a bad looking toupee.
you arch your eyebrows
at him, which makes
him laugh. yeah, we're
vain too, he says.
in fact i'm trying to loose
about twenty pounds
right now. got a highschool
reunion coming up.  he rubs
his belly with his three
fingered asparagus hand.
we just want to ask you a
question or two and then
we'll put you back where
we found you. you won't
even remember this. which
makes them all chuckle.
then a woman alien comes
into the room who looks
exactly like the other ones,
smooth and flat as a pancake,
but she's wearing lipstick.
you can hear her clicking
around in a pair of space
high heels.
she has a clipboard which
she hands to the doctor.
okay. he says, hmmm.
okay. what's up with you
people and your dogs?
that's the first question.
why are you always collecting
their waste and putting
it into plastic bags and
then throwing it into
the woods? you shrug.
i don't know, i have no idea.
you move your chin around
trying to scratch a spot
on your chest. hey, do you
mind, i've got an itch right
in the middle of my chest.
can you scratch that for me,
sure, sure, the woman alien
says and reaches out with her
translucent three fingers
and scratches at the spot.
it moved, go down, use
your nails, that's it,
to the left, to the right...
now dig harder. almost. almost.
by the way, you ask, is
there a bathroom on this spaceship,
i  have to pee like a racehorse.
i had a few beers this evening
and i'm about to burst.
the aliens all look at one
another and shake their heads.
you know what, the mustached
one says, we're done with
this guy. get him out of here.
bring billy bob in, that
alligator wrestler.

the horror, the horror

inspired by the film
snakes on a plane
you go into
the business of making
movies. you buy
a black beret and
find a used
camera on e bay.
rats on a train
is your first endeavor,
people in the audience
actually lifted
their feets when
the first swarm of rodents
ran between the seats.
bedbugs in new york
was your next
feature film. low budget
with no special
effects necessary.
bats in the attic
was followed by squirrels
in your pants,
more of a comedy
than it was a thriller,
and then mice
in the cupboards
appeared. weak to
say the least.
after a brief break to
energize your creative
juices you came up
with the next movie.
alligators in an elevator.
ten  gallons of
ketchup and a hundred
live chickens were used
in that one,
but your best and
most critically acclaimed
was stuck in walmart
on christmas eve.
a nail biter for sure.
stranded with no way out.
the horror, the horror.
 

what love is

a man
goes to work
each day
and comes home
late.
he shows
his wife
his hands
as they sit
at the table
to eat a cold meal.
he unfolds them
to show her
the calluses,
the bruises
and cuts.
i do this for
you, he says,
this is what love
is. but she
turns
from him
and looks out
the window
past the reflection
of her
fading youth.
no, she says.
it's not.

wanting snow

there was a time
when you called
a number
and they gave you
the weather.
a voice
would tell you
the barometer
pressure, the wind
speed and the odds
of snow or rain.
there was another
number for
the time and a
disembodied
voice would repeat
and repeat the
same line,
at the tone the time
will be.
but that was a very
long time ago
when you wanted it
to snow and
when there was
one phone. black
and heavy
with a long cord,
hanging on
the yellow kitchen
wall.

the snake in the basement

a snake
wrapped
in a soft knot
along
the silver
shine
of your handle
bars.
slithers
and shows his
wide
gapped mouth,
rising to strike
as you
try to move
the bike
outdoors.
not seeing
him at first.
did you bring
him in,
or did he just
decide to
leave, catching
a ride
with you as
you go
back into the
woods?
startled you throw
the bike down.
and watch
as he curls
on the step
in a pile of himself,
both of you
deciding
each other's
fate as you
pick up a shovel.

deep water

your appetite
for words
is only matched
by your
appetite for her.
each filling
a space
that empties
and recedes
like large bodies
of water
that you swim
in, trying hard
not to drown.
 

she falls asleep

she falls asleep
as you leave
turning each
light off
behind you.
the cats
are still hidden
with their
green eyes
flashing under
the bed.
the space you filled
for that brief
moment
will be filled
by another
as time goes on.
there's no
reason for words,
no season
left untouched.
the circle
with it's lines
curving back,
have finally
touched.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

really small print

do not
open
without adult
supervision.
you have to be
at least this tall
to get on the ride.
don't even think
you can drive.
this pill will
make you drowsy.
do not
operate
heavy machinery
or text anyone
on the phone
while under
the influence
of this narcotic.
there will consequences
that will affect
your life, your job,
your wardrobe.
your legs may
fall asleep.
you may go blind.
you may lose
the ability
to make a sandwich.
you will lose the part
of your mind
that you actually use.
your heart will pound
a beat too fast.
you might think
it's love, but it's not.
it's a drug.
so be careful or
there will
be hell to pay.

the plastic spoon

having been born
with a plastic
spoon in your mouth
you don't
care about things
such as
crystal chandeliers
or gold
rings. you are happy
with your
lot. you sleep
well, eat well.
you make love when
it comes along.
there is little that
you need, or want,
except perhaps
more time
to write, but even
that slippage
of time won't
darken your day.
 

handle with care

despite what
you think, or what
you've heard
i'm fragile,
handle with care.
i'm a wool
sweater,
old and beloved,
unraveling
in spots,
but still wearable.
put me on
the soft cycle,
no bleach,
no harsh scents.
hit the button
for a  cool water
rinse,
an easy spin
around and around,
then
hang me out
to dry
in the warm sun
until i'm ready
to be worn again.

saint elizabeth's

they are closing
down
the old
red brick insane
asylum
off south capitol
street.
crazed poets
have been there
like ezra, but all
them were
poets in some
shape or form.
outside of the nine
to five. finding
another way
to get where they
had to be.
you remember
them, walking by,
thin and wild eyed
behind the wide
spaced bars, staring
and talking
aimlessly at
their own muse.
how well you know
them.

she calls

there's more to her
than meets the eye.
as there is
for you too.
but you don't show
her all your cards
and she's
holding hers tight
as well. you bluff,
you bet, you ask
for another card,
you narrow your
eyes, she smiles
and calls, but you're
not ready for
that yet.

meeting mr. zimmerman

minding your own
business, you wait
for a cup of coffee
at the coffee shop
when bob dylan
bumps into you.
hey, you say. hey
he says back. what's
new, you ask him,
not knowing what
else to say and he
says, what kind of
question is that.
would i ask a complete
stranger what's new.
no man. when are
you people going
to stop asking me
what's new. nothing's
new. it's a new day,
but everything else
stays the same. i'm
not your shiny light
to follow, i'm not...
some sort of prophet
singing protest songs.
i'm just a poet....
at this point you say
excuse me, but i have
to put some cream
in my coffee, have
a nice day. and he says,
nice day? are you telling
me that i should behave
in a certain way,
like you do, like they do.
i'm not a sheep man.
i don't follow anyone.
and the only reason
they keep asking me
for the truth is that they
don't have any truth
in their own lives....nice
day? what does that even
mean, man....
slowly you back away,
and slip out the door.
 

the long grey line

the line is long.
it forms
and snakes
out the door
around the block
and then another.
you too
get in line
and wish for
the best, for
whatever
it is that
they are waiting
for. by noon,
some get impatient
and drift away.
these are the ones
you want
to follow, so you
too leave
and find another
way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

love sneaks up on you

love sneaks
up on
you with little
cats feet.
you hear
the whisper
of her purr,
her whiskers
against
your cheek.
her nails
are sharp upon
your skin.
you've lost
the will to do
anything
but to give her
milk, to let
her stay, to keep
her in.

ground pepper

the waiter
ignores you.
he walks right
on by
with his thumb
in someone's
dish.
he's tired of his
job.
working
for low wages
and tips.
pleasing
people for money.
this soup
is not hot enough,
where is
my bread,
i told you
red wine,
not white. he
wants more out
of life
while you just want
ground pepper
for your salad.
 

lint


the lint
you carry
and cannot see
stays
on the black
sweater
the entire
day.
it's a part
of you
that you
cannot reach
no matter how
limber
you've made
yourself
with books
and prayer.

the magic apple

you find an apple
orchard
and hop the fence.
you have a basket
that you fill
with apples.
discarding the ones
soft with worms.
you take the basket
into the city
and stand
on a busy corner.
you offer the apples
for a quarter, or
best offer, but no one
buys them.
apples are good for
you, you say to them,
holding out the basket.
but still no takers.
so you shine them up,
polishing each
until they glow
and return to the corner.
you yell out that these
apples will  make
you younger, improve
your sex life.
you'll live longer
and happier lives.
they will enhance
your brain, make you
smarter. unblur your
vision. clear up
your complexion.
people will adore you.
here, buy a magic
apple and all of your
wildest dreams
will come true.
the basket is empty
before noon.
 

taking back the invitation

i'm different
she says.
i'm kind of wild
and kinky too.
i like to be
tied up like
a rodeo steer
and branded
with a hot poker.
oh really, you
say. how nice.
sometimes i
howl at the moon
she says
when it's full
and bright.
i run through
the field naked.
and throw my
arms up into the air
like a madwoman.
i once stitched
my mouth
closed on a dare,
and wrote my
name in blood on
a tablecloth. i'm crazy,
very crazy and i can't
wait to meet all
of your family
and friends
at thanksgiving.

i've seen the light

i've seen the light.
and it's a dim
bulb swinging
from the ceiling
on a thin wire.
if they really had
a clue and knew
what to do
to make things
right, they would.
both sides.
but they don't now
do they.
so hold your nose,
close your eyes,
pull the lever
and vote.
i've seen the light
and it's a dim
bulb swinging
from the ceiling.

Monday, October 22, 2012

the debate

you are such
a stinking liar,
no you are.
i can't believe you
said that
when just the other
day you said
something
entirely different.
why are you
laughing. i'm
not laughing,
i'm smirking.
you haven't told
the truth about
one  single thing. i beg
to differ, but you
are the one
who keeps
flip flopping on
the issues.
yeah right. you
make me sick with
your lying. you
are such a phony.
me a phony?
have you taken a look
in the mirror lately.
go take a look
and see what a
phony baloney
liar really looks like.
pfffft. you make
me so sick. i think
i need a paper bag
to throw up in.
oh really now, well
speaking of bags,
go throw up on your
wife. come here
and say that, punk.
i'm gonna kick your
little pansy......
okay, our time is up.
we thank our esteemed
participants
for this intellectual
and insightful debate.
i'm sure the voters
are looking forward
to this years election.
good luck gentlemen.

the hardback novel

you turn the page.
then another, you
make it through
chapter three then
close the book.
drop it on the floor,
you kick
it into position
against the door.
it's too thick
and complex to
be read. you have
no patience
for a bad plot,
and charcters
that aren't
fleshed out. no
matter how many
millions have been
sold,  it's
best where it
is, keeping
the door
propped open.

this is ralph, friend me

ralph calls
you on the phone.
hey, he says.
i saw you on
facebook, can
you friend me.
i sat behind
you in the sixth
grade,
remember me,
i used to kick
your chair
all the time.
i'm sorry about
that, but hey.
we need to catch
up, have a drink
sometime.
remember
the good old
days. i heard
that susie died.
the girl who sat
next to you
with glasses
and pig tails. it
was a hot air
balloon accident.
power lines.
it was on you
tube. well, got to
go. friend me,
okay. hey, do
they still call
you stinky? maybe
that wasn't you.
i could be thinking
of someone else.
hello
are you there.
hello, hello?

goldfish

you keep a goldfish
in a bowl
with white
and pink stones
on the bottom.
you place a small
lighthouse
in the middle
that she
can swim through
when she's
in the mood.
there has to be some
fun in her life
when you aren't
home, but you try
not to get to close
to her,
you know how
these things go.

go home then

my country
when it's not
at war is this,
she says proudly.
it is beautiful
and clean.
the land and oceans
kiss one another
when the sun
rises, when
the sun sets. you
don't know beauty,
livng here, in
this country, she
says. your country
is rough, and rude,
raw and dumb.
there is no culture
here, no poetry
here is true, she
says. when then
you ask her,are
you going home
after twenty years
you must miss it.
i can help you pack.

friends like these

with a clean
sweep of your hand
and blade
you clear the brush
and bramble
of your yard.
you rip out the poison
oak and ivy,
the weeds,
the negative
voices in your ear.
they have blocked
your sun
long enough
strangled the green
and good
within you.
there is no
more room
or need
for friends like
these.
 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

e. e.

spare words
under and over
rhymed,
with man kind
or unkind
sweet puzzles
uncorked
from his quirky
high pitched
mind. e. e. cummings
on a daily
basis does not
do it for me
but on occasion
he rings the bell.
he is the honey
and the bee
and i like the sting.

i want

i want.
give me what i need.
it's my turn.
i've been
good, i've worked
hard.
i want.
it's my turn
to get what
i deserve.
i want what they
have
with all
the trimmings.
it's my turn
to get all
the things i need.
i've been in line
too long.
i can't wait
any  longer for
my happiness.
give it to me.
now.

the late bus

angry
because you are
cold
and wet, standing
on a corner
as the wind
cuts through
your coat,
the bus is late
again.
you try to think
positive. you use
all of your spiritual
maxims
to stay focused
and in the moment.
you recite a poem
to yourself, you
say a prayer.
you try to smile,
and be gracious
and grateful
for your life.
then the bus comes
and hits a puddle
where you stand,
coating you
with ice and mud,
slush and salt
from the road.
you are still angry.

nothing changes

you become rich
and famous.
almost overnight
after forty years
of writing.
suddenly
the mailbox
is full of adoration.
of checks,
you are applauded
when walking
down
the street, people
want to touch
your sleeve
and tell you that
they are not worthy
of knowing you.
but nothing changes.
you still
wake up alone.
drink coffee,
you wander
in the woods.
you wonder where
she is
as you drive the streets
at night.
nothing changes.
but you have
a very nice car now.

the vase

you stumble
and brush up
against
a vase in the hall.
it topples
and falls in slow
motion,
hitting
the hardwood
floor with a soft
thud.
a cloud
of dust rises
as it shatters
into  pieces,
too many
and too small
to patch
it back together.
but she laughs
and says,
it's fine
there are more
where that
came from.
i'm leaving
to visit italy again
next week,
and i'll pick up
another. you say
your sorry.
she says don't be.
i like the way
you break things.
 

awake with me

the floor creaks
the moon
seeps
in white
as candy
across the room.
the pipes
shake,
a branch scratches
at the window.
a shutter swings.
you hear
a bat wings flutter.
i'm glad
you're to be
awake
with me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

no one home

there is no one
home.
you can see
that by darkness.
the bushes
overgrown.
the tilted
fence, a broken
window
with a bird
on the other
side.
newspapers
litter the yard.
unopened mail
of no
importance.
fallen
to the wayside.
i see the one
i wrote to you
wet and lying
between
the roses,
wilted
and brown.

count it

there are days
when the ball goes
in nearly
every time.
no matter the distance
the angle
the man guarding
you, your shots
are sweet and sure
and the net sings
with a snap
and swish.
you know as it
leaves your
hand, watching
the arc
and spin of the ball
that it's in,
count it. you then turn
and go the other
way. you savor
these games, as
they become more
rare.

saturday work

you drive a
nail into the wall,
a spot
measured
and marked with
a pencil.
you set the wired
picture in place
and she says
just wait,
an inch
to the left,
now right,
tilt the top
edge just
slightly down.
there.
i think it's
done.
stand back
and take a look.
tell me
what you think.
perfect you say
setting the hammer
down. now
let's have lunch.

i had my day

i used to be
beautiful, she says.
holding
a mirror
to her face.
not anymore. i
had my day.
i used to work
at the cosmetic
counter
at woodies
on F street
after ladybird
fixed it up
the block,
planted trees
and flowers,
but still no one
came.
and the riots
and burnings
ended all that
in 68. i used
to be beautiful
she says, and smiles.
i had my day. if
only you knew
me then.
 

assisted dying

like pickles
in a jar
they sit,
unbitten,
salty and soaked
in the brine
and vinegar
of their
years.
the curtains
pulled
to make a
cozy dark,
the corner
tv on,
a white suited
making
cheese
sandwiches
in the kitchen.
spooning jello
into paper
cups.

Friday, October 19, 2012

a green balloon

a balloon slips
from your hand
and sails
upwards.
a spot of green
against the open
blue
sky.  the string
of you
too, has been
let go before
and what a ride
it's been.

the broken pipe


the fogotten
turn
and the frozen
pipe
full of ice
and trickle
of water
looks
for a weak
seam
soldered
soft
to burst
and bring
forth a flood
into the long
february night.
when it comes
it's always
a surprise,
with only
you to blame,
if you're
honest.

pressed leaves


you go to the edge
of the woods
and collect leaves
to press against
the pages of a book
you'll never
read. maple and oak.
birch and pear.
you are saving
the markings of
another season.
yellow and red,
the blaze, the dull
brown. some as
bright as new love,
some green still,
with hope.
 

the waiting room

a thin pale
arm lets you in
the door.
be seated she
says. sit right
there and god
will be with you
momentarily.
you try to get a
read on her face
as to how this
might go.
but she gives you
nothing. her
blue eyes
are liquid
and quiet within
her smile. she has
no wings,
which seems odd.
you expected
wings at this point.
you sit patiently
and wait, you go
through your story
in your head trying
to get it right.
trying to nail down
your explanations
for everything.
 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the world

the escalator catches
your pant cuff
and pulls you under.
you slide between
the metal steps
and disappear.
no one says a word.
they have places
to go that don't
involve you.
the world
is cold like that.
 

day two

off the leash
you run and run
through
the yard, over
the fence, they can't
catch you at
this speed.
you hear them
behind you, calling
you, telling
you to stop come
back, but there is
no use in pleading.
you have tasted
the outside,
the air is different.
the sky,
the moon is more
clear, there
is suddenly
purpose and reason
in your life,
without the leash.
day two will
be different.

walking into winter

her hair is white
her bones brittle,
her blue eyes
are steel
in the frozen
river. she is winter
walking into winter.
there are no
more springs
to celebrate,
no long and delerious
summers
to bathe in.
she has stepped
out of autumn
and is walking
slowly
into winter. let
her pass. let
her pass.

the ark

it begins to
rain hard.
you look out your
window
and see
a line of animals
going up the street
two by two.
elephants and giraffes,
monkeys
and porcupines.
two skunks,
two alligators,
wild boars side by
side.
you turn away
from the window.
this is not a boat
you want to get on.
so you blow
up your life raft
and take your
chances that way.
 

the blue eyed plastic doll

you ran away from
home once
when you were nine.
you made it all
the ways
to the five and ten
up the street
where you spent
the afternoon
reading comic
books at the counter,
drinking
cherry cokes. when
you ran out of nickels
and dimes,
you got hungry,
and went home.
you forgave your
mother for yelling
at you for teasing
your sister
and cutting her plastic
doll in half
with a box saw.
there was just
something about those
cold blue eyes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

and in the end

when the old man
died, his sons
and daughters
flew in from
across the country.
all at once
they filled
the house, taking
what was decided
upon, leaving behind
the unawanted
books and clothes.
they looked out
the windows
where he looked out,
sat in his chairs,
opened his
refrigerator as he
had done throughout
the years.
and when enough
grief had set in,
they left in their
cars, with a sign
for sale, planted
in the long grass
of his yard.
 

the penny jar

penny by penny
as a kid
you dropped
the coins into
the empty jar
with a slot carved
into the flat tin
top. by summer's
end, you had
it half way
filled. by spring
of the next year
it was almost too
heavy to  move.
and then you
slowly folded over
the paper
coin rolls and loaded
each with dimes
or quarters, nickels
but mostly pennies.
so many
pennies, your
small fingers brown
with where they
came from. money,
it seemed, earned
twice.
 

invisible women

she used to say
that at forty
women become
invisible. that
men no longer
look at them
the way
they used to
at twenty, or
thirty when
walking down a
crowded street
in a summer
dress. nonsense
you'd say
and place your
hand firmly
around her waist.
i can see you
perfectly well.

isabelle

someone is shouting
the name
isabelle. he sounds
desperate.
his voice echoes
through
the alley.
up the fire escape
and into the open
windows. isabelle.
it sounds like
love in his voice,
heartbeak
and sorrow. isabelle.
you never see
who it is that's
shouting, and you
don't know anyone
by that name,
isabelle, isabelle,
but you too would
like to find her.

the school play

the school play
is on,
little lincoln
with his
beard, three
feet tall.
and george
on his horse,
wooden
stick with
a string mane
crossing
the delaware
in a boat,
well, a box
that once held
soap. it's a good
play, there
are villains
and heroes,
with a squeaky
band,
and off key singing.
just two nights only,
but you  wish
you could see
it again and again
before they
grow into
women and men.

the feather

a feather falls
into your hand.
it's white and long
thin with a pointed
end. you take it
and drag it slowly
across her
back, the white
curved land
of her body. and when
you reach the bottom
of her skin
she smiles
and whispers, go
up and do it to me
all over again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the neighbor

in the morning
i see her leave for
work.
no dog, no kid,
no husband. not a
soul passes in and out
of her house.
she carries her
trash to the corner
then takes her
briefcase to catch
the bus. she waves,
she smiles.
but there is no us.
we rarely speak
except to say, it's cold,
it's hot, it looks
like rain. this is how
it is and how it will
remain. which is
neither good nor bad.
just is.

the leak

your plumber
comes over to fix
your toilet.
it's running again,
leaking and refilling.
every other year
the thing fails.
he shakes his
head and laughs.
it's the chinese
he says, they make
all this stuff now.
he carries in his
tools and gets
to work, twenty
minutes later,
he washes his hands
and gives you a bill
for five hundred
and twenty dollars.
you write the check
and watch as he
drives away in
his mercedes van.

genie in a bottle

it will happen
just think it so
that's the secret.
allow yourself
to think big
think riches
and joy, the law
of attraction.
just believe
and say it over
and over
and over again
and it will
come true, it
will arrive at your
door. you will
be drawn to
what you want,
and what you
want to you.
oh boy. where's
the bottle, i need
to rub it.

hey sailor

can i buy you a drink
sailor,
the woman says
rubbing
the back of her
calf wrapped in a
fishnet stocking.
she bats her eyelashes
and winks,
puckering her
ruby red lips.
i'm' not a sailor,
you tell her and as
you can see
i have a drink
in my hand.
this makes her
shake her head
and whisper
in my good ear,
this won't work
if you don't play
along.

one time around

when the sky
is this blue
and the clouds this
white you
almost feel
like you could
erase the slate,
start over,
begin again
your life. so
you quickly go
inside and turn
off all the lights.
one time around
is quite enough.
thank you.

don't i know you

you look like
someone, she says.
someone famous,
or someone i saw
on the news
in handcuffs.
i can't put my finger
on it, but you remind
me of someone i
used to know, or
maybe someone in
the movies. have
you ever been in
any movies. many,
you tell her. some
of which i'm not too
proud of. they were
mostly home movies
though with very poor
production values.

behind the drugstore

behind the drugstore
we'd find
needles, syringes
and pants, shoes
and underwear
discarded.
bottles broken
bottles full
or half empty.
whiskey
and beer. cigarette
stubs. belts
and brassieres,
wigs. we'd
set our bats
and gloves down
and with long
branches
we'd sweep
this nocturnal
debris aside,
shaking our
heads at our
elders and make
room to play
stick ball against
the wall.

Monday, October 15, 2012

mint chip and cake

feeling blue
you write a few
poems about
feeling blue
and pour yourself
a drink. not
a good plan.
you put some
music on,
veedon fleece
by van
morrison.
you hide all
the sharp
instruments in
the house.
you dim the lights
and find
some cake
and icecream
in the fridge.
you start to feel
better, but your
belt is tight.

the big store

the store with everything
is bright
and large, pulsing
with music
and lights.
a man in a wheel
chair greets you
cheerily at the door
you forget
why you are there.
dizzy with so much
to see and touch.
your list is wet
and smudged in your
hand. tires and bread
together. shrimp
of three sizes
next to paint
and women's wear.
you leave with nothing
though. you
strangely don't want
to be a part of this. 

faint and frozen

crowded rooms
make you itch,
sweat pebbles
on your brow.
your feet twitch
towards the red sign
blinking exit.
you could leave
now, bolt like
a horse in the field
under the blue
sky. run towards
daylight
to the woods
that bloom green
in the far distance,
but she's already
said i do and now
it's your turn as you
stand in a rented
suit at the altar,
faint and frozen.
 

bond, james bond

in your
sharp grey suit
your ray bans
and slick
black shoes
you enter the room
and order
a dirty martini
shakened,
not stirred.
you are neither
james bond
or henry james,
but somewhere
in between
the two, depending
on the day.
you aren't even
sure what
you are doing
half the time,
no caper to
solve, or book
to finish, you're
still looking
for your game.

skeletons

she sends you a poem
about skeletons
in your closet. this makes
you check
your closets and under
your bed. nothing.
some dust, some debris,
some boxes full
of photographs,
old bills,  unsent
invitations to a party.
she's so confused.
you hang your skeletons
in the windows.
everything in full view.

no passport

the rash
on your arm
looks
like a country
in europe,
maybe italy
or greece,
maybe turkey
if it keeps
going in
the direction
it appears to
be going.
and that bruise
on your leg,
an island
perhaps in
the south pacific.
there is no
need for a passport
with the travelling
your body
is going through
these days.

hot dog

relish
and mustard
on
the red
dog's back.
some onions
too
stuck
tight
in the soft
bun
hot from
an oven.
i'll pay for
it later,
but for the moment
i'm in
bad food
heaven.

square fruits

there are
no square
fruits
or vegetables
to be found, no
planets with
sharp edges
or rectangular
moons
orbiting
about,
there are no
no prism
grapes no
trapezoid
plums.
and what this
all means,
i have no idea,
but it seems
strangely
important
to someone.

pills pills pills

she likes
her pills. how
they go
down. small
and smooth
white
and blue.
chalked round.
they tumble
down her throat
pinwheel
to the bottom
with water
or better yet
a shot
of grey goose.
how quickly
she feels good,
feels nothing.
the only worry
is the unrattle
of an empty
brown bottle.

keep moving

change your
shirt,
your mind,
your shoes.
change the place
you live,
your drink,
your hat,
the old coat,
bring in
the new.
change your
religion
change trains,
your diet,
your name,
change your
heart
your soul,
the strategy
of your game.
keep changing,
don't
ever stay
the same.

the boy

leaving the zoo,
tired
the happy
boy with the red
face,
his sticky hands
from
candy,
is sleeping
on his
mother's
shoulder
as the bus moves
across
the city.
there is no
worry
for either, just
now.
which is a
wonderous
moment.

affection

without affection
water
and sunlight
the plant
will wither
and die. it's no
mystery
why so many
are in line
to fill their
void
for something
akin
to self
medication.

the freeway

behind the wheel
the elderly move
so slow
hugging
the right lane
and yet they have
so little time
to waste,
while the young
are in a hurry
with so  much
time before them
weaving in and
out frantically
to get where they
want to go.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

stuck

the stuck window
won't budge.
neither wedge
nor mallet will
convince it
to lift up and
let fresh air in.
no prying or
pulling will
change its mind.
you too have
been the stuck
window from
time to time.
 

don't pretend

the numbers are in,
the vote counted.
have you lost or
won, it's unknown,
these things.
promises are made
like lustful
boyfriends reaching
for the button,
the snap, i promise,
i promise, he says.
you just want bread
on your table
and work to fill
your day. don't pretend
to love me.

the far blue

wretched waves
rise and fall,
steel grey
barbed in white,
the coast is long
and empty.
even the ships
at sea move
slow, engulfed
in cold, plowing
against the far
blue, to where
they need to go.
as we do.

the lion

the lion in the zoo
says nothing.
no need to.
he sits beyond
the fence, the wall,
the deep carved
moat. no need to roar
no need to rise
and bare his teeth
his claws. the hunt
is over. but the other
animals still
know.

she fills your room

she fills
your room.
she's the best
chair,
the softest
sheets.
she's the bright
light
to read by.
the clock
on time.
she's the breeze
coming
through
the window.
a pillow
for your dreams.
she fills
your room.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

turkey in the window

you see a turkey
in the window.
fully cooked
and brown.
you begin to salivate.
you think
about gravy
and stuffing.
potatoes with
butter and garlic.
baked bread
and cranberries
fresh and sweet
and whole.
you sigh and wipe
the drool
from your mouth
until a cop
comes up
and tells you to
move along
buddy.  so you do,
and as you look
back you see
the cop leaning
on a lamp post,
twirling his
baton,
staring at your
turkey in the window.

call betty

you fall in love.
you fall out.
you trip,
you get up.
you move on.
you move forward.
you think
about what went
wrong. what
went right.
you call up
betty to talk
about it, she's
used to this
from you.

the way it is

my fault,
your fault.
nobody's fault.
it's just the way
it is,
it's just the way
it is
the old lady,
says on her
porch swing,
watching
the world
go by. you'll
see. give it
time boy.
give it time.

the gift

a red rooster
finds his way
into your yard
and crows
at the break
of dawn.
you look out
the window
and tell him
to go away, but
he says no,
he's a gift
from someone
you used to know.
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

m and m's

you take a handful
of m and m candies
and pour them into
your  mouth.
you are starving
and out of peanut
butter. no bread either.
you have a can
of black olives
that you shake for
some reason. you
go for the candy.
m and m's. not
a tough choice,
and why not, no one
is looking.
some of the candy
dribbles to the floor
and rolls off to
where things roll
in the kitchen.
you'll find it
later, or someone
will step on it
and say hey, i think
i just stepped
on an m and m.
you can sweep tomorrow.

into the sunset

unshaven
for a few days.
your grill
is rough like
a cowboy
in a spaghetti
western.
you're in a grunt
and groan
kind of mood,
tired from
a long day,
feeling forced
to utter
words like
yes or no,
maybe. if you
had a poncho
and a hat,
and a brown
horse, you get
on it and ride
into the sunset.

stretching

you stretch
your arms
your legs
too, you bend
at the waist
and touch
your toes. you
twist, you turn,
you do something
with your neck
that causes it
to click loudly,
ligament and bone.
this makes you
stop and go
to the kitchen
for a sandwich
and a beer.

the cold hand

her cold hand
on your
shoulder is not
imagined
but real,
the chill, the rise
of hair
on the back
of your neck makes
you shiver
and turn around,
there are things
going on in
this house
unseen, but
heard, the pipes
creak, there are
footsteps
in the hall,
a whisper
in your ear.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

jail house rock

you place a 45
on the turn table,
maybe it's jail
house rock,
or little sister
don't you cry,
you let it drop
down with a slight
slap and watch
it spin, the needle
falls where it should
on the shiny
edge of grooved
black vinyl. you wait,
you hear the scratch,
the static
and then the music
kicks in. this is
where you begin
to dance across
the room, with the shade
down, of course.
the dog barking.

the white cat

a small white
cat approaches
you. it wants in.
she purrs, she moves
her soft fur
against your legs,
curling in and out
between your
folded knees.
it's just a cat,
a stray, no less,
but you know
exactly what it
means.

lust, greed and other things

you don't envy
anyone, or want what
they have,
as you stare at
your neighbor
driving off
in a new black
car to the airport,
his hair blowing
in the breeze,
or so you'd like
to believe. you are
beyond jealousy
or greed. you don't
covet his wife,
or his things,
the score he keeps
on the greens,
you are quite content
with what you
don't have, having
been there before
and letting it go
like a sneeze.
 

low grade fever

the woods
have election fever.
but it's a low grade
fever, hardly
moving
the numbers.
you see a raccoon
holding up
a red sign
for his candidate,
bored and looking
at his long nails.
a squirrel
in a blue sweater
is on a limb
about to jump
to another limb,
but she can't decide
which one.
everything changes,
and everything
stays the same,
it's getting
harder and harder
to get excited
about things
these days.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

flower

how like a flower
she is
as her dress
unfolds and falls,
a petal
to the floor,
the sky
in her eyes,
the rain
on her lips, her
arms
reaching
towards the light.

a place so far

you'll go there
soon.
you promise.
you cross your
heart,
not venus
or mars or even
the moon,
but somewhere
even farther
with much
more danger
and mystery
to be found
than can be
imagined,
to her mother's
for dinner.

the next story

your poetry stinks,
she says.
it's self serving
and silly at times.
you've lost your way,
your moral compass
is broken,
your heart is too
hard to feel or even
hear a word of
comfort or compassion.
put your pen down
and look at me,
just once, stop
writing and see who
i am. i am not a poem,
but flesh. i am
not the next story,
or the next.

making it whole

you see the brush
of the archaeologist
smoothing the dust
off a skull, the bleached
thin curve
of bone. carefully
he sweeps away
the dirt of centuries
to get to the inch
of remains, then from
there he builds
what he wants to
claim. and i do
the same with you,
taking your simple
kiss, or one kind
word and making
us into one whole
being.

the troubles

in passing
you hear the troubles
of others.
the words
half whispered
fall into your ears
like metal
shavings. the illness,
the loss of a job,
or love,
the child
who has wandered.
you don't want
to hear them
and yet you listen.
you listen as a
way to learn
perhaps in how to
avoid
such troubles
of your own.

being men

during a romantic
evening around
the campfire
you test yourself
with a feat of skill
by seeing how many
marshmallows
you can stuff into
your mouth. it's
ten and nearly
eleven  before you
start to choke
and spit them across
the room, but
she's not impressed
as she nibbles
gently on the edge
of one. she says
nothing, but shakes
her head and mumbles,
pffft, men.

the game delay

you saw a baby
being born once in
the back of an ambulance
a half sheet
raised
over the screaming
woman's knees.
it was when
ambulances
were long cadillacs
with sleek sides
like cars
with a slide out
ramp in the back.
you remember it
was painted cherry
red and white
with one fat bulb
on the roof circling
madly
as the siren wailed.
you can still see
the frantic pain
in the woman's eyes
as every kid
on the block stood
with glove and ball,
or bat
in hand to watch,
eyes pressed
to the windows in
frightening wonder.

the apple

a cold apple
fell from
the tree
and rolled
to my door.
red delicious,
green, or
fuji, it doesn't
matter.
and the worm
that found
it's way in,
that too,
means nothing
to me. it's
more about
the kindness
of nature, the giving
arms of
your tree.

your wife the nun

you come home
from work one day
and your wife
is wearing a nun's habit.
the robe, the hat,
the cross. what's up,
you say opening
the refrigerator
to get a piece of cold
chicken from last
nights dinner.
i'm becoming a nun
she says. i've given
my heart to god.
what about me, you
say, sitting at the table,
buttering bread,
and nibbling on
a drumstick. what
am i supposed to do?
i don't know, she says,
adjusting her large
white brimmed hat.
whatever happened to
till death do us part?
you ask her.
dunno, she says, i
guess it died, but
can you zip me up?
i've got a seven o'clock
mass tonight and i've
got to get a bunch
of candles going, pour
the wine, iron
some robes, etc. etc.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

tears

how careful
she is
with tears.
the melt of her
green blue
eyes is startling
to see,
so rare
a sun as these
that sparkle wet
and grieve.

the field

the field
you and your son
sat in under
a warming sun
is still
there, but the snow
is gone,
the brush
different
shorn and woven
into something
else.  trees
have fallen
others once lean
are thick
with years
now passed,
but you and
him remain.
love being
the only
constant
to rely on.

coffee

sitting outside,
in no rush
to leave or stay,
the clouds
are in the coffee.
pitched
soft
against the black
smooth
pool that rises
to your lips.
you drink
each cloud
tasting
the meringue
of the day
you live in.
not all days are
like this, how
well you know
that.

queen jane


your neighbor jane
who thinks she is
the queen of england
is at your door.
she is old, she is ancient
like the wallpaper
dress she has on,
but she needs
a cup of sugar, and
she thinks that you,
of all people might
have some. she's right,
so you ask her in
for hot tea
and a cookie or two
while you pour
the sugar into a cup.
she sets her crown
upon the table, puts
her black thick shoes
upon a chair. she
lets her hair down.
dropping carelessly
her scepture to the floor.
tell me, you say to her
kindly, this isn't really
about the sugar is it?
what's on your royal
mind?

cut fiowers

cut flowers
that never make
the vase.
blown kisses
that don't reach
a pair of lips,
unanswered
prayers
that rise, but
fall before they
get there.
don't let it happen,
don't let us
be like this.

the blue bench

the smokers
on the blue bench
in del ray
are crusty  men,
disheveled
women on the boulevard.
without work
by choice or
economics, it's hard
to tell. but they
all seem to let
their hair go grey
and long, and
their teeth bad.
they are milky eyed
in their stupor.
cigarettes sucked on
like air, like
life itself, keeping
them thinly
tethered to a fast
blurred world.
 

the spell

when she was a little
girl witch
she started off slowly,
 a small spell or two
on a teacher, or a
boy that pulled
her hair, a rash,
a pimple on the nose,
an uncomfortable
itch would do
the trick. but as she got
older, she developed
more skills, more
intricate spells,
the most devious one
of all, was the one
she cast over me.

because it's there

you are the kind of person
who sees a moutain peak
and shrugs and says, nope,
not for me, i'm not going
up there.
the thin air, the wild bear,
the slippery rocks,
wind, and the bones of
others who also thought,
why not. no, bring me
my hot toddy and a chair,
and when others ask why
i'll say boldly, stretching out
my legs, warming my hands
by a fire, because it's there.

the long grey lines

you hate the dmv.
the post
office. the garage
where you
get your car
inspected.
you hate your
dentist,
your tax lady,
your doctor
who checks your
blood pressure
once a year.
you despise
the courthouse
where you
get your stickers
or pay your ticket.
the vet with his
dirty scale
and pet rabbits
in a cage.
they are all grey
lines
forced
against the abstract
colors of
your life.
 

the polka

she says she loves
to polka.
it's her dance.
it's carefree
and jubilant.
she likes the sound
of the accordian,
the beer
and clothes.
the men with
mustaches and
women with strong
thick legs.
she can dance
all night, she says,
with the right
band. and i believe
her as she skips
across the room
in pigtails, pretending
no longer
to be married, but
with another
man.

the potted plant

you are selfish
in the way
that plants are.
potted on the sill,
rooted
in the soil
where they sit.
taking space
where a clock
or vase
could go, never
tending to others,
never speaking
a word,
but bending
towards the light
or kind hand
that bears
water, your green
presence being
enough.
 

carnival lover

your carnival lover
bends her
legs over her head,
her arms
locked around
your neck.
she's able to smile
and kiss you
in this position,
which pleases
you beyond words.
it makes you happy
that she's in town.
 

rare earth

so much to tend
to when
death pays a visit.
the cost
is great.
arms and legs
fail.
there is a river
that runs
cold up
your spine.
tears are made
of glass. the wind
scratches
at the window.
words fall
empty, like ashes
from your
mouth. sorrow
being holy
ground, you step
lightly
on that strange
rare earth.
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

the dry season

the famine
of love struck
hard.
the farmers
sat on their porches,
staring into the fields,
up at the white skies
but it was a dry
season.
the earth cracked.
you could almost
hear the sigh
of the wind
as it blew through
the fields
of corn stalks
and hearts.
the plows sat
rusted in the dirt.
there was no
moving forward,
there was no
going back.

hot water

unboiled eggs
too
soft and cracked
in the water
leaking
yellow
and white
wisps
how
fragile we
are under
pressure,
when
the heat is on
and the shell
breaks.

the seeds you bury

shoeless,
not hardly.
without food,
quite
the contrary.
water and shelter.
whiskey
too. there are
no needs
you truly long
for or go
without for
very long, and
yet you plow
the field each day
as if
the sun won't
ever come up
again, and the
rain won't
press wet lips
upon the seeds
you bury.

the rising sea

your fingers
turn the dial. this
is where your life
has ended.
the remote in
your hand searching
for another
channel, another
place with which
your mind
can land.
no more is the song
you want
to hear,
the images you want
to see, that water
is under
all of your bridges
and spent
within the rising sea.

falling out

a hole
in your pocket
has let
so much
fall out.
a note.
a pen,
the coins,
the keys,
you see them
rolling
towards
the gutter
as you walk
down the street.
while the hole in
your heart has
let go of
entirely different
things.

friends

you hate
the fact
that you
are such good
friends.
it keeps you
from telling
him
how you really
feel, starting
with that
shirt, those
manners,
the politics,
that grin.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

tide

your detergent
has let you down
again. the ink stain
from a broken pen
remains, the grass
scuff still on the knee,
chocolate mousse
on the cuff, blood
from a bitten lip
on your sleeve,
the lipstick on
your once clean
collar.

the land of you

the land of you
is circled
by me.
i have pushed
ashore upon
your soft
sands. planted
my flag
in your heart.
it's not victory
or an occupation,
but more
of a romantic
visit, a promising
start.

the long night

you can't sleep.
you can't stay awake.
you visit
your dreams like
a stranger
in a strange land.
you have
the wind in your
ears. the trees
brushing up
against the clouds.
tomorrow is so far.
tomorrow is so close.
you can't sleep.

the pearly gates

your money
is no good
here, st. peter
says at the pearly
gates
which aren't
exactly pearly
white, but
more of a bone
colored shiny
arcylic paint..
but have you met
my friend mr.
lincoln you say,
reaching for your
wallet. as a matter
of fact yes, he says
and points over
a distant cloud. i
have met him
and like i said, your
money is no good
here. you're going
to have wait
your turn like everyone
else that has the jury
still out.

roadside pumpkins

the pumpkins
are fat
this fall. hooligans
and baby boos.
cushaw greens
and golds.
lines of them
dot the field
in their bright
daytime glow.
and the gourds
surreal
with silly
long necks
and strange
colors
lean out of their
straw baskets
with an
askew smile.
cheap as gourds
should be
in any season.

 

being prepared

you go camping
in the woods
with amy.
she has a tent.
a back pack.
a flashlight
and batteries,
water, matches,
a survival
kit and canned food.
she brings
a blow up mattress.
a compass, a map,
and flares.
a sharp knife
is on her belt
and bug repellant
too
she is more
than prepared.
you bring
marshmallows,
two wine glasses
and cologne.

 

the first date

don't go he pleads,
holding onto
her ankle
as she drags him
through
the yard, his body
a plow
against the dirt
and leaves.
i love you i love
you i love.
he says, then takes
out a small pen
knife. look, he
says, i'm cutting
myself, i will
bleed to death if
you leave me.
but the knife is
dull and leaves
only a purple bruise
against his wrist.
please, he says,
let's have a second date,
just one more try.
i promise you'll
learn to love me.
 

the newspaper

your neighbor
steals your sunday
paper on a regular basis.
you've never caught
him red handed but
you see him with
it in his backyard.
he sits in his green
lawn chair and suns
himself as he turns
the pages,
chuckling lightly
at the stupid comics,
something you'd
never do. he seems
delighted with
his stolen newspaper,
so you order one
for him, in fact
you order a whole
months subscription,
including sundays.
the next sunday,
you wait on your porch
in your robe
waiting for the paper
to arrive,
and for your neighbor
to open his door
and be surprised,
by what awaits him,
but he pretends that he
isn't surprised and leans
over to pick up the paper
as if it was normal
thing to do.
you wave and smile,
and say, hey check out
doonsebury  this morning
very very funny.
he nods, arching his
eyebrows. he has no
idea who he's dealing with.
 

how the story begins

on the second floor
is where our story
begins.
on the third
floor is where it
ends. there is a
stairway in the middle
which is quicker
to climb
or descend
instead of waiting
for the slow
elevator. you are
wearing a pink
chiffon dress
with berets in your
hair. i am in my bathrobe
holding a newspaper,
a toothbrush in
my mouth.
there are windows
and doors
where people come
and go and peer out.
a small dog plays
a small part
as well. take note
of his barking at
certain hours of the day.
there are others
involved too,
a jealous ex wife,
a  mailman,
a woman who lives
on the first floor
who can't 'mind
her business. there
are innocent bystanders
as well. the mormon
boys at the door.
the insurance salesman
with a hole in his shoes.
i'd be remiss in not
mentioning the gun found
on the mantle,
and the black and
white photographs
taken at awkward angles.
lies are told.
truths are revealed.
there is more
than one ending.
one happy, one sad,
and one unresolved,
that leads you to believe
that there will
be another story soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

on the other side

tired of nine to five
in your cubicle
you plan your escape
over the wall
under the gate
you dig and dig
for months,
then you go in
the dead of night
when the watchtower
light swings right
then left. you crawl
to the fence and snip
the wires,
then run and run
with the hounds
at your heels, barking.
they are on you
so quickly. the bullets
fly near your ears,
but you keep going.
your boss
yells at you, what
about the christmas
party, your bonus,
but you are no longer
a part of his world.
you strip down to
bare skin, throwing
the shoes away.
the coat and tie,
the briefcase. you only
keep one thing,
a red stapler, shiny
and bright, that reminded
you for so many years
that there was life
and imagination
on the other side.

two drinks and out

you can't drink
anymore.
not like you used to.
where once it
sharpened your wit
and the words poured
out like oscar
wilde and dorothy
parker melded
into one, but alas
no more, now
you blather and
bore, with a stain
on your tie.
the white
flag is up, your
zipper down.
you've said
all the wrong things
at all the wrong
times and at this late
hour of eleven
thirty-five
sleep seems
like heaven
after a mere two
glasses of wine.

Friday, October 5, 2012

neon youth

black is not
your favorite color
but it's close.
dark blue
finishes second
by a slender
margin.
there is no orange
or neon green
or torquoise
in your palette
of clothes
or shoes, or
rugs. no vase
is violet and
the lamps are white,
thank you.
it's taken
time, but with
age you've retreated
gladly from
the neon colors
of your youth.

marshmallows

careless
with her affections
she threw
her kisses
everywhere
like marshmallows
from a bag,
and they
skewered
her in the fire,
before leaving
without  a word.

the good ear

she whispers
what i don't
want to hear
or know into my
bad ear.
it's a muffled
wind
of mystery.
the other ear
she saves
for only the good
things
that she wants
to share.
she's kind
like that.

but not that

if you are
lucky
there is work.
there is
food and a
bed to lie in.
you have
your health,
but if you are
extraordinarily
blessed
there is love.
luck or
unluck can acquire
the rest,
but not that.

the ties that blind

they are a couple.
just look at them
walking side
by side on
this gorgeous day.
each on their
cell phones.
soul mates,well
perhaps not,
more like cell
mates on a haunted
ship going
nowhere.
they share things
like a slice
of lemon, or
a drink of water,
the time,
despair.
they are less
tied together
than they are
entangled like
a heavy load
of laundry
in the washer.
she keeps a close
watch on him,
while he turns
and looks
the other way. this
will not end well,
but end it will,
hopefully before
the children not
yet there.
 

rhonda?

you pick up the phone
and say hello,
nothing, so
you say it again,
hello, hello, is anyone
there. silence and
then a steady stream
of crying, sobbing.
gentle wheezing
and blowing into a
kleenex. mom, you
say? no, she says,
stuttering. gina, you
say again?  no you dope,
she replies back.
this is not gina,
whoever the hell that is.
ummm, melinda?
i hate you she says.
you don't even
know who this is
do you?  jackie?
that's it, she says.
her crying now stopped.
her voice clear
and strong. she's pulled
herself together.
don't ever call me
again, she says.
then hangs up the
phone. you amaze
yourself sometimes
at how helpful
you can be towards
others.