Friday, November 30, 2012

one more drink

one more drink
before we leave
and go out into
that cold night,
tell me again that
story
from so long
ago. bartender
set em up.
the night is young
and we aren't.
one more drink
before we
go. where have
all the pretty
girls gone,
that's what all
of us old men
want to know.
the night is young.
bartender, please,
just one more
drink,
we don't want,
just yet,
to go.

your dreams

you dream in
languages that
you don't know.
you read books
not yet written,
sing opera
on a stage.
you are in flight,
across the sky,
your arms open
wide. you swim
deep below
the ocean, holding
your breath.
you are above
the moon
circling
without a ship.
your dreams cut
you loose from
the tethers
of your parents.
of school
and elders, who
often said no.

wings

the cat
with her muscles
tense,
ready to spring
upon a bird
decides
at the last
moment
to try
a different
approach. instead
she whispers
to bird
and says, come
here.
i won't hurt
you.
but the bird
secure
in her wisdom
of the centuries,
knows that
she has wings
for
a very good
reason.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

smart butt

you've got
your smart car,
your smart
phone,
your eating
fish to
enhance
your brain.
you're reading
books
instead of
skimming them
and waiting
for the movie.
you make it
through at least
three words before
getting bored
with the cross
word puzzle.
you're even
dressing smartly,
at least that's
what people say
when they see you
in your hipster
hat.
even your butt
is getting attention.
being called
smart, on a
regular basis.

the dead bird

write a happy
poem,
please,
she pleads
tilting her head,
and attempting
to bat her
lashes,
just one, for
me. one that isn't
full of grief
and sorrow,
one that i can
hold in my hands
like a small
bird that hasn't
been hit by
an arrow.
write a fun
poem. please,
for me.
just one.

strawberries and cream

she takes her shoes
off on the summer sidewalk
and walks
barefoot to the show.
king lear.
her feet are small,
yet wide, but her
new heels,
now in her hands,
swinging
at her side, are too
tight. you don't
mind though.
her nails are like
strawberries on cream.
you like her feet, her
hands. and the rest
of her as well.
such a small thing
it is too remember
this, but golden in some
strange way.

literally it was the best

you had to be there,
it was literally
the best thing i've
ever seen.
we were literally
ten feet from
the stage, and i
could literally see
up the nose
of the woman who
played the queen.
and we lucked out
on parking, we were
literallly only
three blocks away
from the theater.
and since we knew
the ending, having
seen the show
before on tv, we
left early and
literally beat all
the traffic home.
i was literally
estatic about
the entire evening.
literally.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

prayer request

your friend kimberly
tells you
on the phone that she's
going in for a procedure
tomorrow and that it
would be nice if you
said a prayer or two
in her behalf.
what kind of
a procedure, you ask
her. it's a girl thing,
she says. that's all
i can say. which half
of the body, you ask her,
trying to narrow it
down to make your
prayer request more
specific. top or
bottom? bottom, she
says. above the knee,
you ask. yes she says.
below the belly
button? shut up she
says. front or back?
i have to go now, she
says and hangs up.

junior mints

you are reluctant
to see
the new movie
about abe lincoln
that everyone is
raving about.
you sort of know
the story. tall,
lanky fellow
from illinois.
a rail splitter.
he wore a big
black hat and had
a crazy, half
beard thing going
on. plus that wacky
wife, mary todd
always bugging him
about something.
tragic and sad
it all is, with that
war going on.
blah, blah, blah,
but it's raining out
and you wouldn't
mind having a big
buttered box of popcorn
and a cold coke
on ice, so you go,
picking up some
junior mints at
the drugstore to
smuggle in, because
they cost nine
dollars inside
the theater.

parisan holiday

on holiday
you pack a bag
and take a train
to the south of
france, where you
meet your long
time friends, pepe,
and louise.
you share a bottle
of wine with them,
overlooking
the rhone river,
some cheese too, and
a baquette.
pepe says things
about chagall that
you never knew,
but also
bad mouthing
van gogh in slight
demeaning ways.
this makes you want
to slap pepe,
but you don't.
he says that van
gogh had blurry eyes
and only painted
what he saw, pfft,
he says, any artist
can do that.
then louise says
look at the cow
over there, how
white she is with
bold black spots.
she gestures towards
the cow throwing
her hunk of cheese,
which makes pepe
shake his head
and get up to go
retrieve it,
when he does louise
leans towards you
kissing you on
the lips quickly.
when pepe returns,
he curses her in
french and says, i
know all your tricks
louise, i know
this cheese trick
that you do, which
makes her laugh loudly,
ha, she says.
you know nothing, pepe.

bird brains

you've known
plenty of chatter
boxes
in your day.
women and men
who opened
their mouths and
words would
fly out
like bees from
a hive struck
with a bat, wild
and going in
all directions.
say the word
red and they'd
take that and
run, red
sea, red grapes,
red rum.
mention birds,
and every bird
they've ever
seen would play
into the next ten
minutes of talk.
a black bird,
a sparrow.
the time a crow
flew into
their head.

no words

no words
sometimes are
better than
saying anything.
small talk
is a slow
painful death
when you
have things
on your mind
of greater
importance.
who cares which
way the wind
blows,
if it rains,
or snows. look
into my eyes
and see that
i am
not here.
silence is
enough
conversation
for now.

they are books

your books
along the shelves
are silent.
you've carried
them far,
as they have you,
once read, some
twice,
a few battered
from
so many reads
late into cold
nights.
but they are
not hands, or
hearts.
they don't sit
at any
table with you
to eat a meal.
they don't
point at the moon
and say look.
they are
books.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

the slow burn

you can't cheer
an angry soul.
it's too far
a leap, for that.
there is no
dousing of
the flames.
it's best
to let it be,
let the fire
burn, and come
back, if there
is someone
to come back to.

blackbirds

what bodies
lie
between heaven
and hell
where we
reside
and try
to find a way
to make this
life worth
living. not
all make
it though.
there are cracks
they fall
through,
the ones that
don't or
can't fit in,
and you can
hear their voices
at night,
rising like
blackbirds
into a darkened
sky.

a gentle nod

no different
is the man
with a shovel
bent on the road
moving dirt,
than he in a pressed
suit, walking
to work
in a building.
no different is
the woman who brings
to your
table, eggs
and coffee.
than she who writes
a novel.
each wants in his
or her
world some
notice of respect.
a gentle nod
towards
their goodness
in what they do,
and who they are.

winter is an old man

winter is an old
man. cranky,
brittle and cold.
walking
slowly through
the short
days.
his breath is
wind, his arms
are shadows.
his white hair
is the distant
field brushed
with snow. winter
is an old
man in a long
black overcoat,
this much i know.

holiday board games

you chalk
a line around
where the body lies.
you lift the prints
on knobs
and glasses.
a gun, still warm
next to a slice
of pie.
there is eggnog
spilled
on the victim's
chest. it smells
like rum.
there is a scrabble
board nearly done
on the coffee
table.
with an open
dictionary nearby,
there is a q
in the dead
man's hand
but he has no u
to finish.
and the guilty one
is led out
muttering,
qa is not a word.

the fire

burned fingers
remember
how it happened.
they don't go
back into the fire.
but broken hearts
are different,
they forget
over time,
and let it happen
again and again.

in hard times

a man approaches
you on the street
and holds a knife up
to your face. he says
angrily, give me
your wallet.
you tell him that
you don't have one.
your watch too, he
snarls.
you show him your
empty wrist.
well then, give
me your money. all
of it now, or i'll
stab you. empty
your pockets.
you pull out some
coins and a bill
or two, some lint
falls out and a piece
of gum. chapstick.
which makes
him say, that's it?
that's all you got?
he takes the chapstick
out of your hand
and applies it to his
lips. you work all week
and that's all you
have to show
for your nine to five
job. he laughs,
shaking his head.
he hands back your
chapstick then shows
you his thick wad of cash.
i only do this a few hours
on the weekend and i
have more than you, he
says. he puts his knife
away and walks away
down the dark street,
laughing. next week
you buy a knife
and quit your job.

the first step

stepping gingerly onto
the first step
of a wobbly ladder
to get a box
of christmas decorations
out of the closet
a bottle of brandy
slips out of a stocking
and hits you on the head,
knocking you out.
you fall to the floor with
ornaments all over you,
tinsel too. the bottle
of brandy breaks
which soaks you as you lie
there unconscious
in a puddle of whiskey.
when you awaken you are
on the couch surrounded
by your family, your son,
your physician,
and priest. your mother
is crying into her hands,
your father has a smirk
on his face. your therapist
nancy is holding your
hand, smiling, nodding
as you awaken.
someone has put a cup
of hot coffee
in front of you.
there is an ice
bag on your forehead.
it's going to be okay
she says, we are all
here to help you. first
you must admit that
you have a problem.

i remember her well

i remember she was
wearing a red dress,
and black boots, or
was it the other way
around. i had just met
her a week ago in a
bar downtown, or maybe
we were married for
a few years. the details
are rather fuzzy
at this point, but i
do recall that she had
this very high pitched
voice, very high. but
wait. i'm thinking
of someone else. her
voice was deep, and
hoarse. that's right.
she was a smoker, a
heavy smoker and drinker
too. she had a scar
down her cheek where
she had been in a knife
fight once. or maybe her
cat scratched her.
one or the other, she
did have a scar though.
that i do remember
as fact. she had soft blue
eyes, or green, it could
have been one of each,
but i remember her eyes
were crossed and it
gave me a headache
to look at her.
it was a long night,
or early morning.
there was a moon out,
i'm sure of that.
i used to call
her sweet magnolia, or
petunia, some sort of
flower. gardenia, maybe.
she called me jimmy,
although, that's not my
real name. we were two
peas in a pod though.
so much alike, from
what i remember.

Monday, November 26, 2012

your needs

your needs
are small. a bed,
a plate of food,
some love,
a book
to read. some
sunlight
on your face.
you don't
understand
the wars,
the madness
of the world
wanting so much
of what it
can't have.
your needs are
small.
a glass of water,
a room
to lie down
in, a moon in
the window.
a pen
to write it
all down.

christmas lights

as a family,
you see them, the wife,
the small boy, a man,
with a hammer,
on a ladder leaning
against the house,
the feet dug into
a cold patch of snow.
he bellows out
instructions. get me
this, get me that.
then damn as
the head strikes
his thumb.
she holds the ball
of lights in her
arms, like red and green
thorns, pulsing.
she wipes her nose
with her arm
while the boy rolls
and rolls down the
wet lawn.

winter boots

winter
let's you know
who's
in charge.
with the whip
of wind
the freezing rain,
the unrelenting
snow.
the dark boot heels
of february
dig deep
into march.
the other seasons
bow and tremble
with what
winter can do
to a frozen field
or heart.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

the gift

a string
of white lights
around
the dying bush,
gives it's
leafless life
a little bit
of joy as winter
sets in.
even in old
age, a pearl,
a ring, a necklace,
some shine,
does wonder
for one's
day.

fresh coffee

your friend
is ready
for the end.
he has
canned beans
and bullets
in the cellar.
batteries
and water
to last
a month,
or so.
he's built a bunker
for himself,
his wife and two
kids. even
the dog has a
place to lay
his head when
the final day
comes.
he asks you
what you
have done so
far, and you
reply nothing,
but perhaps you'll
brew a fresh
pot of coffee
and watch.

no less mysterious

the scalloped
moon, crisp white,
sitting on
a black tarred
roof,
a bed of starry
nails shining
through, desrves
a long hard
stare, no
less mysterious
than when
it's full.

the blue light

in the mirror,
the blue light
of the state trooper
along the highway
raises the hair
on the back of
your neck, you look
down at your
speedometer, you are
ten over the limit,
but he passes you
by for someone else,
someone pushing even
harder on the pedal,
your sins have
been forgiven,
but you still slow
down, just the same.

where you are

the quiet morning,
the grey sky,
cool and soft as
it appears
through the window.
no noise of sunlight,
no phone
the computer silent
and black.
you could lie
here for hours
upon the couch,
watching
the tops of trees
bend, releasing
what leaves
are left from summer,
you could
linger in the memory
of what was,
but you won't.
this is where you
want to be.

life line

you get in line,
you cross
a line,
the dotted line,
the line
at the bottom
of the page
they want you
to sign.
a gypsy turns
up your palm
to take a look
at your life
line. she shakes
her shaggy head.
your life
is a crooked line
she says,
despite
thinking
otherwise.
you come from
a long line
of wrong thinking,
you tell her,
but you can
straighten
out, hopefully
before the ink
runs dry.

your ship

your ship is pushed
towards shore
with high winds.
a violent
storm of nature,
bending to what
you know is
wrong, kneeling
to other people's
whims. the hull
is splintered
against the rocks.
you can only swim
towards land,
get your feet back
on the ground.
you need to plant
your flag
and live there.
leave the ocean
and its wild
waters for others.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

survival

lovers find a way
to not love
one another,
it's easier
that way. to wrestle
with heat,
without a cold
word ever
exchanged. why
even know each
other's names.
it's body parts
together.
affection
without tenderness,
without compassion.
it's just finding
an hour
of convienence
to get it done.
it's survival
of the lonely.

a leading role

she's walking away.
but you hardly care.
you've been in this movie
before. you were the leading
man in the all three
sequels.
you can do this role
in your sleep, you
hardly need to change
your clothes, your
dialogue. for mostly
you stay silent. you
stare off into the distance,
you move sand around
with your boot,
nothing gets thrown.
no words of anger leave
your tight lips.
you absorb the moment
and let her go.
she's walking away, but
you hardly care, or so
you'd like them to believe.

the white lie

the white lie
soon
turns a shade
darker
becoming the
grey lie,
which leads
to the total
darkness
of denial,
the black lie.
in each
you lose a little
bit of light
within, until
youi've lost
your way for
good.

but i'm a good person

i'm a good person
she says, drinking
her hot chocolate.
just yesterday
i held a door
for someone even
though i had
the right of way.
why do these
things happen to me.
my car broke down
and a blister broke out
on my lip last night.
and get this,
just this morning
my shoe lace broke
and i almost tripped
taking out the trash.
it almost seems like
god has it out
for me this year.
i can't wait for
next year, get god
off of my back.
you nod sympathetically
and say something like
pfffft. god.
then you notice
a drip of hot
chocoate on her
white blouse, but
you don't say anything,
you let it go.
god needs a break
every now and then
too.

support the chess club

the string bean
highschool
kid with a runny
nose and a stocking
cap, red striped
like the cat
in a dr. seuss book
knocks at your
door and asks
if you want to buy
a giant
candy bar to support
the local school's
chess club. it's deep
dark chocolate
with almonds, he
says smiling,
showing his braces.
you feel the rim
of your stomach
to feel if you have
room after the
thanksgiving feast.
maybe.
the chess club?
you say. sure.
why not?

just drop by

there was a day
when people would just
drop by. stop and say
hello with no
warning, no
ringing of the phone,
or midweek hint
that they might
stop in passing
for coffee, for tea,
a glass of wine.
the world is too
busy now for such
things, easier,
to type hello
and say something
akin, to i'm
thinking of you,
where does the time
go?

bittersweet

bittersweet
are the kisses
of your lost youth
the bent and torn
photos
collected in
a soft box
behind other
boxes. things
you haven't
the heart to discard,
or abandon
completely.
the valentines,
the pins,
and notes,
dried and dusty
flowers,
crushes from
children,
now long
the tunnel
of being
adult.

everywhere but here

her finger prints
were everywhere.
she left a shoe,
a book, a
stocking.
her hummus
was still in
the fridge, her
perfume on the sink.
a strand of hair.
she placed
a glove
on the table,
her watch still
ticking
on the shelf.
she was even in
your dreams,
her imprint
still on the pillow
beside you.
she was everywhere
and nowhere.
the haunt of her
whisper still
lingering
in your ear.

whatever it takes

you've been fired,
laid off
or have quit so many
jobs.
the list is almost
too long
to remember.
cutting grass,
mopping halls,
digging ditches.
stapling long
furry batts of pink
insulation
into new homes,
washing dishes.
you've delivered
papers. sat in a
smoke filled box
and called all
your friends
trying to get them
jobs. you've sent
short stories
and poetry
into contests
to make a few
bucks. you've
tarred walls,
waited on tables,
laid bricks,
chopped wood,
plumbed pipes,
painted houses
off of forty foot
ladders.
you've hung wall
paper onto ceilings
for priests
and old ladies.
you've sat in a coat
and tie in front
of a computer
until your fingers
bled and your
mind fried.
you've stood in
the unemployment line
to get a check
from the state.
and when there was
nothing, you rolled
nickles and dimes
to take to the bank.
only this, this that
you do for nothing has
given you pure
pleasure.

you've changed

the ink is hardly
dried
on the paper,
you are still
getting rice
out of your
hair, when
she says,
pick up your
shoes
and socks.
why did you leave
milk on
the counter,
don't you know
that it will
spoil?
yes dear, you
reply, i know.
well, don't
be such a slob
next time, okay?

Friday, November 23, 2012

the chase

your life, at times
seems to be a chase.
a better job,
or home, or car.
sometimes love
is in the mix.
a chase to lose
weight, to read
what hasn't yet
been read, a movie
unseen. a place
to visit. always
a chase. it's hard
to just to stop
and breathe, to
say enough. i'm
good, exactly where
i stand in all things.

but, we are on your side

like quiet thieves
your insurance
rates go up each year,
or every six
months.
car and health,
home and business.
you don't
even use insurance.
or rarely have.
you knock on something
that resembles wood.
a nice letter
is always attached,
twenty per cent
increase, or more,
fifty sometimes.
we're sorry, they say.
but our costs have
increased and so we
have no choice but to
increase your premiums.
quietly they slip
into your bank account
hardly turning
a dial on the safe
as they automatically
withdraw your money.
bastards.

scars

she shows you a scar
on her
arm. dog bite,
she says. daschund,
smooth haired red.
i had a pork
chop in my hand
at the time.
you lift up your pant
leg and show
her a line of thin
scratches above your ankle.
siamese cats, you
tell her. they came
out of an alley
at night,
wearing shorts
and just leaving
the fish market.
she lifts up her blouse
and points at a thin
line running
north to south.
twisted intestines,
she smiles. almost
died. a cab driver
who happened to be
a surgeon from
indonesia opened me
me up just in time
i was in his taxi,
going down broadway.
hmmm. you say, you win,
buckling your pants
back up, not showing
her your appendectomy
scar.

the new world

flat worlds
with no curve
no way
around to
the new world.
but go you
must, for here
has worn
out its welcome.
your feet need
new ground,
your eyes
new sights,
your ears another
sound than
what you
always hear.
you need to
taste a different
fruit,
drink a new
wine.

the nuns at st. thomas more's

the nuns
in white
and black
with thick
wooden crosses
hanging
down the front
of their habits
go striding
across
the blacktop
in their
thick black
shoes. their eyes.
are clear and hot.
you see them
in the playground
pinning
an unruly redheaded
boy, full of
tease against
the chain
link fence
that corrals
them all in.
with holy menace
sanctioned
by the grace
of god,
they are making
the world safe
for little girls
in pigtails.

flying babies

people suddenly
are being born with wings.
you see
the new born babies
flying
about the sky
in pajamas,
holding teddy bears
in their hands.
bottles, and binkies.
stuck in their
pouty lips.
it's evolution
someone smart says.
it's dangerous
and must be stopped
the mothers say.
how can we make
money off of this
the diaper companies
say. the politicans
worry about
the future of mankind,
and want to lower
the voting age
to bring the baby
vote in, the ones
with wings.

the young americans

you want your
future now.
you don't want
to wait another
second in
line for anything
or anyone.
mik, bread, love,
sex.
gas or coffee.
you want
to be served. you
work hard, you're
a good person,
why should have
to wait with
the unwashed others.
you want your
future now.
you want to close
your eyes and be
there. not stuck
in the mud of
yesterdays
technology,
waiting
for the bus,
the train,
a taxi. give me
tomorrow, now.

power surge

the power
surges,
in the high
wind,
branches you
imagine
are leaning
on the lines.
the lights
ficker
in and out.
everything
blinks, or
goes dark
with stops and
starts, beeps,
and groans.
tv's and phones.
computers.
it's annoying
the fragility
of life
as we know it,
but you could
never go back
to the cave
let alone
a decade.

chit chat

you run out of things
to say
sometimes. tired of small
talk, of big
talk, philisophical
discussions,
with no end
in sight. no
proving point
of wrong or
right. your lips
are dry,
your tongue
parched.
so you say something
like, pointing
at a wrist,
so where did you
buy that
watch. i like it,
it's nice.

beyond love

old dogs
limping
on the long
wooded
path, beside
the blue
cold stream.
sniffing, still
at this age,
curious
about what
came before,
what lies
ahead.
and the owners,
not far
behind,
holding the
unattached leash,
trusting,
at this age
that neither
of you will
get lost, or
leave the other
behind.
it's almost beyond
love, if
there is
such a thing.

when eating alone

when the oven
catches fire, you
don't panic.
you throw a glass
of water
onto the burning
bird and shut
the door.
when the gravy
runs over the top
of the pot
and the room fills
with the smoke of
burned onions
and sauce,
you nod, and pour
another glass
of red wine.
the biscuit tops,
all black,
no problem.
no one shakes their
head, or
rolls their eyes,
it's so less
stressful when
eating alone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

it's not my doing

the first
love
of your life
was a girl
by the name of
karen.
she had deep
dark hair, and
eyes bright
and brown as
they could be.
you can still
remember the curve
of her shoulder,
her breast,
her knee.
she ended
up marrying
another girl
named brenda.
you want to believe
that you had nothing
to do with that,
you aren't sure though,
and given
another chance,
you'd like
to set the record
straight. so
to speak.

salesman

a man knocks
at the door
with a bright
colorful brochure
and a smile.
he wants you
to buy new windows,
new doors.
what about your
yard, aren't you
worried about
the weeds, the shrubs,
the fallen leaves.
when was the last
time you had
your gutters
cleaned, your windows
washed, that tree
over there looks
bad. it could fall
onto your house
and kill you.
you look over to
the tree. it happens
all the time,
he says. boom,
you're dead. you
shrug your shoulders.
also, he says,
you have an opening
under your porch,
see that, that little
hole? in the winter
that's where snakes
go. if you don't
have that filled
you are going to have
a house full of snakes.
nah, you say, i'm good.
what about pizza, do
you guys make a good
deep dish pizza
with thick crust?

just a small plate

finally at five o'clock
you say, that's it,
i can't eat anymore.
you stumble away from
the table and roll
onto the couch,
but you have little
control of your limbs
and so roll onto the floor,
i'm done, finished,
you say, wiping
gravy from your mouth.
you move your arm
down to your belt
to loosen it up a notch
or two. you let out
a load groan while trying
to kick your suddenly
tight shoes off. you see
someone's legs walking
into the room, then
hear a voice say,
okay, now who here
wants a nice big slice
of warm cinammon apple pie
with a scoop of ice
cream. from the floor,
you reach out
to tap the ankle
of the woman carrying
the pie which makes
her look down at you.
pie? she says, just a
small plate you tell
her, whispering,
and if you could
leave it here next
to my head with a fork.

red roses

she bites her lip
and blood
seeps out.
small petals of
blood
making a bright
bouquet
upon the white
table cloth.
you're bleeding
you tell
her. your lip.
she is crying too.
she looks
down at the bloom
of red,
at the roses.
and says,
how bright, how
nice love
is, until
it ends.

the sketch artist

you become
a sketch
artist down at the pier.
a dollar per
drawing.
you set up
your eisel
and brushes, your
simple
round chair.
you buy a black
beret and angle
it french like
upon your
smooth head.
you have charcoal
too, in case
someone wants
a pencil portrait.
but you are horrible
at this, you
have no skills
in art.
every face looks
the same,
every head,
the same shape.
dogs look like
cats, and clouds
like potatoes.
your sketches
are childlike
and pathetic,
but people like
you, and they like
how imperfect
your art is.
sometimes they
give you two dollars
instead of one,
happy to be
seen differently.

quicksand

your friends
are aging, as
you are,
it's a reluctant
march, but
some walk
slower
than others,
and there is
so much
talk
of remember
when, as if
already
the end has
come and gone.
lost in their
bones, in
the shadows of
a girl
that got away,
a failed marriage,
or job
that disappeared,
a night
on the town.
you feel as if
listening
is like
quicksand, that
by joining
in, you too
will sink down
with them.

can i send you mine

it's better sometimes
to keep
this all quiet. never
mention what you
do, day in day out.
eeking words
from your cold
hands in the
morning, from the tired
and dirty hands
at night.
they want to send you
theirs.
and it's all horrible.
unreadable.
you can't just cut
your arm
and call yourself
a surgeon.
you have to know where
the knife goes
in, where the veins
are, where the heart
beats despite all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

found money

the clicking coins
in the washer, then
the dryer going
round and round
will spit out at some
point, clean
and shiny onto
the laundry room
floor. clean
wilsons, clean
jeffersons, bright
lincolns, and a
george or two.
the bills left
in the pocket
are warm, and
crimped, but clean
too. found money.

peppers

you eat something
spicy
before you go
to sleep, which
gets you up
at three a.m.
you take a pill,
drink some
milk, you stare
out the window
to the house
across the street
you see your
neighbor standing
at his sink
like you are.
he waves, you wave
back. the light
goes off, you
both climb the steps
and go back
to bed.

mid life

sweet tree
of shade, tall
and wide.
full in its
mid life.
holding birds
and fruit,
its silent
rise from
seed to root
and into
a wet sky.
you could lie
here next
to it for a
very long time.

blue suede shoes

your dancing skills
have not diminished
over the years.
other things have,
your hair has
thinned, your
weight increased,
your limbs are not
as fluid and loose
as they once were,
you need glasses
to find your glasses,
but when you hear
blue suede shoes
playing on the muzak
overhead,
as you walk through
the grocery store,
you can't help but
stop and go a little
crazy, dancing wildly
down the aisle.
twisting and jumping
into the air
with a stalk of celery
in your hand.

no more free milk

on christmas
morning
she wrestles
you to the ground
and opens up
a small box from
the jewelry store,
she takes out a ring,
and forces it onto
your ring finger,
nearly breaking
the bone.
then she tapes
a list, a manifesto
of her demands
onto your chest.
finally she lets
you up and slaps
her hands together.
we're officially
engaged, she
says. get used
to that ring.
no more milk for
you, until
you say yes. i do.

Monday, November 19, 2012

school days

not always sure
of the answer,
distracted
by the likes
of sally ann,
or jane,
sometimes
you leaned
over to a brighter
desk and hand
to steal
the right number,
of course
this set you
back in later life,
drifting without
knowledge and
still not
certain of
what you
learned
from either girl's
cruel stand.

your voice again

it's good
to hear your
voice again,
the soft lilt
of your kind
whisper into my
open ear, my
open heart. i thirst
for the likes
of you. the water
of your soul.
bring your rain
upon me. your lips,
the gentle sway
of your arms,
your hair, your
hips. soak me
to the bone.
it's good to hear
your voice again.

at night

it's nice
to hear a train
at night, through
the woods, crossing
the trestle.
the deep throated
whistle.
it's nice
to know that
others are traveling,
having places
to go.
it's nice
to hear a train
a night,
through the woods
crossing
the trestle.

making whole

she was only happy
when she was
unhappy.
bad news to her
was good news.
the tragedy of others
brought a silent
secret smile
to her soul.
she wasn't evil,
but her life
was full of holes,
and this was how
she filled them,
without love,
this was how she
made herself
whole.

in the air

on one foot
you balance yourself
on the window
ledge.
the other foot
is on the rounded
rung of an
aluminum ladder.
below you
is thirty feet
or so
of empty air.
a bush.
a driveway.
nothing that would
save you,
if the wind
blew, if it began
to rain
and your foot
slipped.
but it's here
you'd rather be
than elbows
on a desk.
fingers on
the keys.

the cherry tree

you knew
hunger as a child.
the empty
hollow
row of cupboards.
the plates
clean
and dusty.
but there were
eggs.
and bread.
somewhow.
bought on
bounced checks.
milk, of water
and powder
poured from a
tall box.
long cased
tubes of bologna.
mustard.
for dessert
there was a
cherry down the
block
that we climb
and filled up
on until
the porch light
flickered on
and off and we
slipped away
into the dark
of night.

turkeys are falling

you dream
that the sky is
falling with
butterball turkeys.
frozen and fresh.
young and old.
small and large
with pop up
thermometers
imbedded in their
smooth cold
chests.
the left goes
on record to blame
it on global
warming, while
the right says
it's a plot
to take money
from the rich
and give to the
poor, either way
it would be nice
if some gravy
and cranberry sauce
fell as well.

the spot

you spend an hour
trying to coerce
a spot out of your
rug. promising
cleaners do
nothing but make
it worse, water,
warm or cold,
a rag, a brush,
on your hands and
knees, no scrubbing
gentle or hard,
will let it go.
like an arguemnt
on religion
or politics, it's
sometimes easier
to move a table
over it, leave
it alone.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

the first house

squared yards
against the lumber
of new
houses, more
plastic now
than wood
and brick, meant
not to last
a lifetime, but
long enough
to see the children
off, so few want to
stay where
they start, seems
lazy, and
without pride
or ambition
to accept at
such an age
your lot.
the place
where you begin
so proudly
feels like failure
if still there
at that bitter
end.

tastes

the day
is full of spice
and sour
bites
of this
and that.
sweets touch
the tongue
with words, or
gentle hands.
but the bitter
too
finds room
to cheat
the mouth
of joy.
which you choose
to swallow or
spit out,
is up
to you.

without clothes

an arthritic
limb,
a crook
in the arm, bends
upward
into the harsh
blue eye
of day. without
leaves
how gnarled
the trees
are. without
clothes we
don't fare
much better.
pity getting old
in warm days,
but even worse
in cold
weather.

january blues

you are done
with the month
of january. white
ice, sleet and hail.
the debris of the holidays
washing up
on the shores of
your credit card
bills.
there is nothing
but a long
snowy stretch of days
and weeks.
you stare out
the window at the string
of christmas
lights still
nailed to the board
below the gutter.
you feel the groaning
of your gut,
rounded out
by the leftovers,
the pies, the naps
with a plate
resting just below
your chin, empty
once again.

your lawyer calls

your lawyer
calls you
from the virgin
islands
and says, hey.
why aren't you
married yet,
you hear the clinking
of glass
and the surf
rolling onto
the shoreline,
it's been ten
years since
you and cruella
split, he says.
you laugh, and say
why, afraid
i won't invite
you to the wedding,
no, he says.
i need another
divorce to handle
i'm running low
on cash, and my
car is almost
six months old.

taking the cart back

the man
who collects
the runaway
carts, the ones
not taken back,
at the supermarket
has a thick
head of hair
and eyebrows
to match.
wild and brown.
as if never combed
or trimmed.
all day,
his face bruised
with the wind
and sun,
he moves
steel
cart after steel
cart, pushing,
pushing them back
out of the lot.
there is
someone inside his
bright blue
eyes, inside the quiet
of his sealed
mouth.
you don't
how he got
to where he is,
but you believe
that none of us are
that far removed
from doing
what he does.

not dead yet

you lift your head
too quickly
and the room
spins, a frost
of sweat
rises on
your forehead,
your heart
clicks faster
as you lie back
down in bed.
this could be
the end you think,
closing your
eyes and listening
to a dog
bark outside
the window. you
hear your neighbor
talking about
how she's going
to make gravy
this thursday,
pondering which beer
goes best
with a deep fried
turkey.
this cures you.
you can't die now
and leave the world
to these people.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

the part time job

you see your friend betty,
the church secretary,
pulling up
into her driveway behind
the wheel of
a brand new mercedes
benz. it's black
and shiny with darkened
windows. it's a gangster
car, except for the pink
ribbon for breast cancer
on the back bumper.
yo, betty, you yell
across the street.
what up with the new rod
girl? which bank did you
rob? she comes across
the street walking her
white french poodle. i
got a part time job,
she says, so i can afford
a lot of things now.
times are tough, a girl
has to do what she's
got to do.
oh really, do tell, you
say, staring at the new
car across the street.
what kind of job is it?
she leans in close, and
whispers into your ear.
i'm a sex phone operator.
she giggles a little,
pulling on her pooch
as it pees on the ground
next to your shoe.
say what?
oh yeah, she says.
i have a special phone
in my house that i tell
the kids not to answer
and when it rings
i go into bathroom,
throw a towel
against the bottom
of the door and then talk
trash to all these lonely men
around the world.
around the world? you say.
yup, got a regular in
australia, kip, and
another regular in
yemen, mr. omar. it's all
on the credit card,
and you just keep them
in the car
like a lost taxi driver.
sweet you say. well, it's
working for you.
cha ching. hey, i have
to run, she says, i hear
that phone ringing. see ya.

a norman rockwell hallucination

when you get home from
work, there is a family
sitting at your
table, eating dinner.
a boy, a girl, a mom
in a flowery dress,
and a dad in a white
shirt and blue tie.
you stand
and stare at them
as you take off your
hat and set your
briefcase down.
a dog comes up to
you and barks, which
makes everyone
laugh and say, oh
rex, sit down. behave.
have a seat, the man says.
cornish hens, mashed
potatoes. mom here
made some peach pie
for dessert too.
sure did, she says,
and gives the man a wink.
who the hell are you people,
you ask, returning
the wave to the two
little kids with stuffed
cheeks and bright
blue eyes. we thought
you could use a nice
hot meal and some
holiday company. we'll
be staying through
christmas. but,
but, you stammer,
how did you get in
here? what's going on?
please, relax. nothing
to worry about, you
look tired and hungry.
sit down mister,
everyone move down a
chair so he can sit.
honey bun, grab a plate
for this man
would you? we're
going to sing carols
later while we drink
hot cocoa and trim
the tree. are you in?
we hope so. everyone looks
at you with open mouths
and wide eyes, waiting
for you to answer.
you take a seat and
shrug your shoulders,
you start piling food
onto your plate and say,
pffft, are you kidding?
sure, why not? count me in.
nobody wake me up, okay?

a bakery nearby

you don't want
to rule the world.
you never have,
your ambitions have
been more personal,
ones of solitude
and peace.
a decent well
written poem
that others enjoy,
perhaps a good cup
of coffee in
the morning, a decent
bakery nearby.
a woman who loves
you despite everything.
aging gracefully
too, but that one
will need some work.

deputy assistant

being a slave
to the king, after
years of decorated
service, you work
your way up
to deputy assistant.
his right hand
man, standing near
the throne,
but when someone
rubs him the wrong
way, he's always saying
something like
bring me the head
of so and so.
the idea of doing
this, chopping off
a head and bringing
it to him on a platter.
makes you squeamish.
you don't mind
running down
to the post office
to mail a package
or two, get a book
of stamps, or doing a
little grocery
shopping, but this head
thing is ridiculous.

to all a good night

running out of places
to put things
you pull everything
out of the closets.
how many old
cell phones does
one person have,
chargers and remotes,
computers and dusty
tv's. keyboards,
speakers from stereos
long gone. wires.
tumble weeds
of cords and plugs.
two ancient
printers, with a
stack of ink
cartridges, unused.
and directions to all
of it. to all
a good night.

no yams

you are preparing your menu
for the holiday.
gravy, for some reason goes
at the top.
then turkey, then potatoes.
stuffing of course,
stove top,
and cranberries, the rest
of it doesn't matter too
much. a plate of olives,
warm buns, wine and cheese.
assorted nuts?
let the women figure that
out. some sort of pie,
perhaps. no need for sweet
potatoes or yams,
you never touch them
all year, so why bother.
no matter how many marshmallows
you put on top,
you never scoop any onto
your dish. they just look
like a mess when you cook
them, and when you have
to scrape them out cold
to throw away. so, no yams.

Friday, November 16, 2012

especially strangers

sometimes you just get
sick of people.
everyone annoys you.
from the guy driving
the car in front of
you with headphones
on, to the cop
waving you out
of the intersection
like he's the boss
of you. you don't really
want to smack anyone, but
you do roll your eyes
and shake your head
the whole day. from
the barista who fills
the cup to the brim
after saying leave
room, to the woman
behind you in the grocery
store who starts
checking out her stuff
before you've bagged
yours and now it's
all mixed together.
you don't feel like
you need therapy, or
medication, this will
all pass, but for
the moment at least
you are really just
sick of people.
especially strangers.

green noir

you are taken in
for questioning.
there was a bank robbery
that occured
a few nights ago
on the corner
of elm and main.
they want to know
where you got
the money for
those new shoes,
new clothes.
that grey prius
they pulled you
over in with
the coexist bumper
sticker.
what's up
with the haircut
buddy, can't afford
one? and
the cologne,
the smug cop
asks, tipping
his hat back. smells
like mint, fresh
mint, home grown.
he shoves
the chair aside
with his wingtips
and pulls out
a pack of camels.
smoke? he asks, laughing.
didn't think so.
you start doing your
yoga breathing
to slow your heart
rate down
while pullling
at the collar
of your yellow mock
turtle neck sweater.
i bought
all of these clothes
at the second hand
shop, honest, you
tell him, sure he
says. getting
hot in here ain't it,
the other cop
says as he digs
chop suey out
of his nails
with a car key.
maybe that global
warming thing is true
after all,
he says. maybe
those icebergs
are gonna melt
and drown us all.
the other cop laughs,
then starts coughing
as he puffs on his
cigarette. look, we know
you took the money
and it's just
a matter of time
before we find out
how and where it is, or
which charity you
gave it to.
we're watching you.
so go on, get out
of here. and we're
onto that dame you
been seeing too.
we've seen you two
down at the organic
store, buying bean sprouts
and hummus.
we ain't fooled one
bit by you
save the trees
and whales people.
just because you recylce
don't mean you're
any good, so get
that self righteous
greenpeace smirk off
your face. the only
green you care about
is the kind with
a presidents face on
the front. now beat it
punk. we'll be watching.

nature girl

she would not
eat off
a plastic plate
with a plastic
spoon
and fork,
it's toxic
she said, but
every third
tuesday of
every month
she got a shot
of wrinkle
be gone potion
into the creases
of her face.
even her breasts
were full
of something
not god made,
not to mention
how much
blonder she had
become since
we met.

a new turn

a new
bend is in
the stream,
the curve
of water
and trees
even stones
have taken
a different
turn
after
the storm.
you could do
well
to study that
and take
heed.

what they see

the garbage men
in orange
jumpsuits swing
and step
off in a dancing
rhythmn from
can to can, each
bag swung with
a graceful arc
into the wide
open mouth of
the groaning truck.
they are silent
as they dance,
eyes dulled by
what they see,
and don't see,
by the day that
lies before them
and the next.

bonding with nature

you see
a bird in the
window,
fluttering
his wings,
as if trying
to get your
attention.
he has a worm
from his yellow
beak. you show
him the bowl
of pasta
in front of
you, and the noodle
that hangs
off your lip.
he laughs
and nods
with approval,
then flies
off. it
amazes you
sometimes how
bonded with
nature you are.

this time it's really over

leave me alone,
she says, don't
ever call me, or
contact me again.
you hear a glass
break against
the wall.
i'm done with
you. it's over
for good this time.
you've finally
pushed me to
the brink of
anger. i'm done
with our so
called relationship.
you don't love me
and you never did.
you're dead to me.
but what about
saturday night,
there's that new
movie down at
the cineplex that
you wanted to see.
hmmm, she says.
okay. pick me up
at eight? got it,
you say.

tequila sunrise

you struggle to
put on
your cowboy boots
to go square dancing up
at the local
watering hole.
you've gone every
friday night
since jimmy
carter was in office.
she's wearing
her daisy may
dress, embroidered
with roses
and petunias.
her hair is high
up on her
head like lightly
buttered popcorn.
she's looking in
the mirror, tapping
the bottom of her
chin, and spreading
the crows feet around
her eyes. do you
think i should get some
of that botox,
she says, snapping her
gum. she turns around,
hands on her hips,
come on cowboy,
she says
i don't want
to miss the first
dance. come here
and give my
boot a push, would
you hon, you tell
her, i think my
feet got bigger
overnight,
they swelled up
for some reason.
i don't have the strength
to get them on.
okay, she says, and
don't forget to take
your pills.
your cane is by
the door.

thin ice

you had an agrument
once
with your ex
wife esmeralda.
what the disagreement
was about
is not important,
what is
important is that
you still remember
it, and how
far apart you were
on every thing
you ever
talked about,
from children to
money, to work,
to where you lived,
or vacationed.
it stuns you to
think, as it must her,
that you joined
hands and lives
on such thin
and delicate ice,
and that it lasted
for as long
as it did before
falling through,
sinking
into a cold
abyss.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

the saturday wash

there was a time
when you could look out
your bedroom window
and see
the flags
of laundry hanging
on the lines.
from yard to yard.
the women
reaching upwards
with clothes pins,
a basket of wet
wash at their
feet. saturdays
in the green squared
lawns divided
by chain link
fences. neither poor
nor rich, but
forever inbetween.
happy to have a yard,
a line with which
to hang the things
made clean.

wake me up

wake me up
before you go.
just touch me on
the shoulder
and say farewell.
leave a kiss
on my lips.
whisper something
to me.
don't leave
in silence,
or with a note,
i need no
explanation,
just wake me up
before you go.

water without waves

there are days
with long quiet
hours where nothing
gets said,
or needs to
be. you are water
without waves,
moving gently,
finding
a place to fit
and flow
between
the noisy world.
there are days.
like this
where when it
ends,
it's been better
than most.

patience

how well you
remember
the slights
of others.
no time elapsed
can wash these
memories away.
in fact, they
just grow
stronger as
you wait patiently
to have
your day.

get out of the rain

you can't sand
down
the trouble of others
with fine
paper, or plane
away
the bark.
you can't
varnish or stain
the rough
edges
of their lives.
the wood is too
splintered,
cut wide
and uneven.
you can only
listen,
nod and listen,
ask them
to please
step inside,
get out of
the rain.

the new client

her wallpaper
was dated.
a colonial mural
of horses
pulling a wagon,
men in wigs
with scrolls
in their large
hands.
a wing chair
that emily
dickinson could
spend a day
in was pushed
near a window,
next to a fragile
table
that wobbled
under the weight
of paper.
she had a birdcage
in the corner
with a yellow
canary, who
seemed bored
too, looking
the other way
when your finger
touched
the bars.
the drapes
were too heavy
and dark
for the room.
it smelled of dust
and mold.
perhaps something
she had cooked
a year or so
ago. some sort
of broth, or stew.
sit, she said.
let me get us
some tea.

sex and money

at this point in
my life i'll only
get married for two
reasons
she tells me over
the phone.
i can hear her smoking
and the edge
of a glass
clipping the receiver
every time
she takes a sip
of whatever it is
she's drinking.
i suspect red wine.
what two reasons,
i ask her.
money and sex.
she says. clink
and an exhale.
i've had only a little
of both, and now,
at this ripe
old age of
fifty, i want more.
what about love
and companionship,
conversation
and sharing?
to hell with that
she says. i'm not
interested in canoing
down the river
anymore, or hiking,
or fishing,
or holding hands
in the park.
sex and money,
she says, you know
anyone?

footprints

one by one
in the sunlight
of technology
they step forward
and confess.
a dollar
stolen, a mistress
in the closet.
a lie
or two told
when pretending
to be good
and true.
each key stroke
a footprint
of where you've
gone and strayed.
who escapes
the light, not
even the dead
and departed
are free
to go about
their way
in peace,
unblemished
not in this day
and age.

on your side

you know
the ones
that are on
your side,
at least
you feel
you do, even
then, you
may be wrong,
but the others
are less unclear
as to where
they stand,
or who
they're for.
it's only
at the grave
do you
really know,
who's in
who's out
for sure.

the springfield shore

you start your own
reality show.
first you get
a fake tattoo
of a dragon
on your arm.
something
to talk about.
then you
move into a glass
house. you practice
pointing your finger
and swearing
at the people you
are supposed to
love. a camera follows
you around. eating,
sleeping.
going to home
depot for lightbulbs.
you pay your mother
to come over
and argue about
what went wrong
when you were a
child. you pay
your father to peer
through a window
at all hours of
the night.
sometimes you let
people in and they
take their clothes off.
other times,
doors open and people
are sleeping
or reading a magazine.
it's an exciting
show, you never what's
going to happen
next. sometimes
the dog has to go
for a walk and you
are out of plastic
bags.

blabby

your secrets
are not safe with
me, so spare me
the details
of the train wreck
that is your life.
your indescretions
and small
white lies
will drip and leak
as if i'm
a rusty pipe.
you might as
well post it on
a billboard
instead of telling
me. i have no
control over
what comes and goes
from my lips.
so keep it
to yourself.
resist
the temptation
to be so blabby,
at least to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

foolish it was

when you turned
ninety
you thought back
to what a fool
you were
at eighty-nine.
the silly things
you said,
how awkward
you were
those days,
unlearned of so many
things. what
a difference
a year has made.
how close
to finished
you are now.
foolish it was
to be you,
back then.

the day is unwritten

all days come
without
announcement.
they just do.
opening slowly
with the sun.
there is no
trumpet on
a hilltop
blowing, no
clapping
of hands as
the curtain
is raised.
the lines
are not yet
learned
for another
unwritten play.

the thief

the thief
easily etches
a circle
in the window
pane with his
cutter, then
lifts out the glass.
he sticks
his gloved
hand in
to turn the lock
and enters.
you are sleeping.
there is much
to take, there
is nothing.
your dreams
are yours,
tucked away
in your safe.

mass

you miss the church
of your youth.
the priests
in their long robes,
the red candles
on fire for the sick
and dying.
the cross of christ
looming darkly
over everything.
mary in blue and white.
what little light
there was,
was broken
blue and red,
light yellows
through stained
glass, the stations
of the cross.
the incense burning.
you miss the hard
wooden pews,
and kneelers,
the old women
and men, bent
over their rosaries.
beating their
chests with curled
weak fists, their
faith undying.
you miss the mystery
of the language,
the strange pleadings
in latin
for forgiveness
and salvation.
you miss
the cloud of it all
owning you from
cradle to grave.

by end of day

the old man
puts on his
dancing shoes
limps out
to the dance
floor
then
whispers
into your
ear, did
you hear,
the war
is over.
no, you tell
him, which
one. the last
one he says.
be patient
you tell him,
there'll
be another
one by end
of day.

don't dance when i'm gone

don't dance
when i'm gone,
don't sing
or laugh,
or drink until
the wee hours
of the morn.
don't savor
the summer sun,
or a fire
during a winter
night. keep
away from love,
don't be happy
without me.
is that too much
to ask.

the holidays

the holiday wringing
of hands has already
begun. i saw several
women bent over
and crying in the grocery
store, trembling as
they tried to decide
which turkey to buy.
counting the pounds
as they looked at their
list of guests, pondering
who will, or might
not come.
there was a report
on the radio that
three santas have
already been shot
as they relentlessly
rang their bells
in front of their swinging
metal pots. i saw
my neighbor
out the window
using a pair of
his wifes sewing scissors
to untangle
a tumble weed of cords
and lights. he was singing
madly the christmas
song as he drank his
morning egg nog,
dancing in his red
holiday socks.

ice box

jokingly
you often referred
to her
as an old
ice box.
with a light
that went on
when she opened
her mouth.
the heavy
doors, the steel
rusted shelves.
a broken
handle where
someone
could crawl
in and suffocate.
but that was
a long time ago.
you are kinder
now.
you wish you
could remember
her name.

the slow dive down

uncharted
waters
she is.
deep blue.
to the point
of a lightless
black bottom.
you want to go
there despite
the danger
of the bends.
you want to see
where she lives
and breathes.
it's a slow
dive down
as you hold
your breath
and take
her hand, this
could be
how it ends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

the knife drawer

like an old
angry girlfriend,
the knife drawer
is no
place to fool
around,
poking a bare
hand in
to find a corkscrew
by candlelight.
the cheese
grater, with open
mouth will
take your knuckles
down,
the potato peeler
wiggles
towards your
thumb, the steak
knives
are restless
and rattling their
swords next to
old bloodied
corks.
you go easy
in the knife drawer,
searching
gingerly around.

roll over

she says roll over
you're hogging the bed,
plus your cold
feet are touching me.
so you roll
and roll and roll
before long you are in
ohio, but you don't
stop there, you keep
rolling, across
the prairies,
up over the rocky
moutains until you
land on a shelf
of warm sand before
the pacific ocean.
it's here where you
can finally stretch
out and stop.

the cleansing

you feel as if
the hot bath
has given
you another
chance
at the day,
or night.
scrubbed clean
with soap
and water,
then wrapped
in a soft
large towel,
you squeak
with goodness,
almost beieving
that what was
is now
the past.

what's wrong

she has become
a car
alarm.
everything is
urgent,
catastrophic,
but no one
comes
to her call.
they've heard
it too often
to care.
to rise and ask,
my dear,
what's wrong.

everyone's a stranger

everyone's
a stranger
each face
singular in
difference,
untethered
in a milling
crowd
unknown,
locked into
their own suits
and coats
long dresses,
like sand,
like stones
pushing towards
some shore
by the weight
of time,
of oceans caught
under the pull
of a moon.
everyone's
a stranger.

Monday, November 12, 2012

the guard dog

your dog taps
you on the shoulder
while you sleep
and dream
about a girl
you once knew
named cecilia.
what you say
groggily
with his paws
on your chest.
did you hear that
he says, whispering
in his dog like
way. i heard
something down
stairs. maybe
you sould go
down and see
what's going on,
you sit up in
bed and stare at
your dog. why don't
you start barking
or something, growl.
you call yourself
a dog? i'm little
he says, curling
up beside you. look
at me. you outweigh
me by a hundred and
fifty pounds.
i could get hurt.
pffft. i don't hear
anything. it's the pipes,
and you woke
me up in the middle
of a wonderful
dream. cecilia again,
he asks, yes, you
say. now go back
to sleep. grrr. he
says softly. i
really liked her.

the fight

she puts up
her hands,
balled into tiny
pink fists
and says, come
on. let's go.
me and you.
it's long overdue,
let's get this
over with.
she dances
around on her
feet, bobbing,
weaving, jabbing
lightly
in your
direction.
she circles you,
dipping her
shoulders,
shuffling her
feet like the ghost
of ali.
i'm so pretty she
says, and your
so ugly, come
here and get
your whipping
chump, but
within a minute
or so, she's out
of breath,
bent over
and sweating,
she whispers okay,
okay. i give
up, you win.
are you hungry?

papers in the wind

papers
in the wind
slipped
from cold
fingers
as a briefcase
falls
tumbling white
sheets
caught
in whirlwinds
along
the playground
where
the children
are still
free
from it all
bent
on climbing
or going
down
of different
sorts.

he's gone

when he died no one
was quite sure
when.
he had been
so silent for so
long, asleep
beneath
the headlines
of the post.
nothing stirred,
the watch
still circling
with time.
the tv as always
on, a tumbler
of scotch thinned
yellow
by the melting
ice. no one
was quite sure
which hour
he was last in,
and niether, most
likely did he.

when you see it

alone, away from
where she stands
rooted deeply
into the earth
it's easy to say,
look at how
beautiful it is,
this tree.
and a friend may
walk up to you
and agree because
it's what friends
do, before long
others too will
come to stand
and stare in polite
silence, but soon
someone will say,
if only that
branch were trimmed,
if the trunk
was more lean
and straight.
if only those nests
were not there
if only
the roots were
buried deeper
into the ground,
it's best though to
not listen. you
know what love
is when you see it.

where are we going

everyone
wants to know
where
you go when
you die.
they ponder
deeply
the end of
life, the
beginning
of eternity
or perhaps
darkness
like a dreamless
forever night.
everyone wants
to know
what's next.
and so do you,
but not
quite yet.
how about lunch
first,
let's figure
that out
and go from
there.

your season

you savor
these days.
icing
on the years
wide
oval cake.
the sweet
smell of leaves
burning,
the woods
turning
over its
coat of green.
snow and ice
still far
away.
the sun
plays
upon
your aging
face. you
want to linger
in
your autumn.
it's
the season now
you finally
embrace.

the eject button

the backseat
driver
wants you to slow
down, go left
go right, use
your signal.
stop
at the light.
roll the window
up she says,
turn the heat
on, turn
if off. the radio
is way too
loud, can you put
it on a different
channel,
i want to hear
opera, no
some cajun music.
or a georgian
chant. do you
mind pulling
over so that i
can use a restroom.
what's that smell,
are we buring oil.
your finger
rests firmly
on the red eject
button.
a perk she's
soon too find
out about.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

empty roads

with
a ribbon
of black road
behind you,
a cluster
of stars
above,
you drive
through
the night
with the lights
all green,
the highway
empty.
the world is
asleep,everyone
but you.
the night
is yours.

where you from girl

she likes
to let everyone
know right away
where she's from.
the state finds its
way into a sentence
quickly as she shuffles
her boots and feels
the top of her conical
head of white blonde
hair. it's a stack
of sweet meringue
that stays motionless
in a prairie wind storm.
the words come out
long and slow,
with charm and folksy
wisdom. nothing like
a barbeque and a rodeo
she says and how about
them cowboys.
i'm from texas she says
when finally
asked, maybe you heard
of us, we're
the largest state
in the union. you ain't
been nowhere till
you been to texas.

fashion statements

cleaning out your closet
you begin to dig
through the different
eras of clothing.
shaking off the dust
and cobwebs of decades.
how long has it been
since you wore that
nehru jacket, white
except for the teriyaki
stain along the collar.
and that poncho,
with the bold horizontal
stripes of gold and red,
green. what were you
thinking. the cowboy
boots and vests.
that blousy shirt
from the seventies with
a mural of tall ships
sailing into port.
the crazy multicolored
tie dyed shirts,
and bleached jeans
from your woodstock days.
then the flannel era.
you looked like a lumber
jack going off into
the woods. the ban lons
and gabardine pants
from the sixties,
wing tip shoes, polished
to a black sparkle.
there's your pocket comb
full of brylcreame
still in the back
pocket along with
fake id and list for
beer and wine,
ripple and mateuse,
schlitz and old
milwaukee.

compromise

when you first
meet there is so
much passion.
you can't keep
your hands off
of one another.
you make love
in the back seat
of your car,
stairwells,
and little pockets
of woods
along the parkway.
you text all day
saying clever things
that can mean
other things.
then things change.
they are just
little things at
first, like hold
my purse while i
try this skirt on.
or she says,
umm, on your way
home do you mind
picking me up a
box of chocolates
and a few personal
items that i need
this particular
week. then, it's
my mother wants
you to clean out
her gutters this
weekend, you'll
only miss the first
half of the game,
so i hope it's
okay. the next thing
you know, she's
got the walk in
closet and is
driving your car.
you're eating vegetables
and shaping tofu
into the shape
of a turkey.
you lose your taste
for ham.
you're separating
plastic and glass.
you move your poker
game to someone else's
house so that she
can have the livingroom
for a jewelry party.
you sleep
in the guest room
because of your snoring.
she turns her
head so that you can
kiss her cheek,
not her
lips, so as not
to smudge her
lipstick. once a
month seems plenty
for her now. you
remember fondly
the good old days,
about a month ago.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

therapy session with sigmund

your new therapist
sigmund asks you a few
questions, mostly about
how you are going
to pay him for
these sessions,
then gets down
to business.
when i say a word
he says, you say to
me the first word
that pops into your
mind. fine, you say,
clasping your hands
behind your head.
you stretch out on
the paisley
lounge chair
that smells like
chinese food.
you give it a hard
sniff and rub
your nose.
okay, let's begin,
sigmund says.
mother. you hesitate,
go on he tells you,
don't wait, just say
the first word you
think of. lo mein
you say. he writes
that down. father,
he says, egg rolls,
you say. God, he says.
general tso chicken,
you say. sex, he
says, tapping his
pen against his
pad. peking duck
you say. hmmm. he
says, i'm a little
hungry, should we
order up. you nod.
yeah let's take a
lunch break,
crispy beef for me
and a mai tai.
he takes out his cell
phone and calls
it in. am i off,
the clock, you ask,
he gives you a
thumbs up. no
problem, he says.
chopsticks, he says.
fork, you say.

she likes cats

you learn
to play
the piano
just to please
her.
you learn
the tango too,
dancing madly
across your
room with
a broom,
to practice,
you buy
a vest because
she said
she once dated
a man who always
wore a leather
vest. that melted
her butter.
her favorite
color is
red, so you buy
a sports car,
red as a bowl
of cherries.
she likes
cats. this is
when it ends.

winter is not so bad

the light
snow
in her black
hair,
the wet sheen
on her nose,
the way
her cheeks
are blushed
with cold.
the way
she smiles
when she
shivers
staying close
to me
to keep warm.
winter
is not so
bad
after all.

the bad cut

salt is not
the answer.
no sprinkled
white
granules
upon the meat
can save
the day,
no pepper
no spice,
the slice
is tainted,
old, not right.
there is no
heat hot
enough to
change it's
taste. throw
it out.

your turn

turned pages,
turned corners.
a turn
at the wheel.
a turn for
the worse.
turned a new
leaf,
a turn at
something new,
turned
cold, a pillow
turned over.
the day
turns into
night. it's
your turn now.

you sneeze

you sneeze
you drip
you cough, you
go through
a box
of kleenex.
you study
the small print
on the back
of dark
green bottle
thick with
a sweet
biting gel.
you swallow
it down like
a shot of tequila.
you lie
down. you put
a cold cloth
on your fore
head. you drool,
you dream
of summer.

Friday, November 9, 2012

from russia

you get a package
in the mail.
not really a package
but a large
crate,
a box with holes
in the side.
it's from russia.
you can't read
the writing,
but you can see
that it's been
delivered to the wrong
address, it's
for your neighbor
jimmy.
you can hear a woman's
voice inside,
let me out, she
says in broken
english, please. she
bangs on the inside
of the crate.
i am cramped and
hungry. please
let me out, jimmy,
please let me out.
i am not jimmy
you tell her, he
lives next door.
he won't be home
until six.
if i tamper with
the box i'll be breaking
a federal postal
law, i think.
you go get a soft
drink out of the fridge
and a long
straw, which you
slip through
an air hole, she
sucks deeply
from the straw.
then you get her some
blueberries and sunflower
seeds that
you flick through
the openings. who are
you, you ask.
i am jimmy's new wife
he found me online.
we are to be married
this weekend. svetland?
he told me about you.
i saw your picture. that
farm shot in your shorts
and boots,
milking a cow. very hot.
jimmy put up a big
tent in the backyard
yesterday. in fact
he's been slow cooking
a pig out there
for days. i'll be there.
should be fun.
yes. she says. i am
she. svetland. well,
sorry, i can't open you
up here, but i can drag
you over to jimmy's
porch. i'll give him
a call at the office
and let him know you
are here. okay?
thank you, thank you.
she says. by the way
i am registered
at target, if you
haven't bought us a gift
already. will do, you
tell her, okay, here we
go, going to be a
little bumpy going
down the front steps.
hold on.

being good

yes, you realize
that you do have
a jealous bone
in your body.
you have several,
perhaps a dozen.
and there is
greed too, and lust
and envy and
all of the other
seven sins. but
you are trying,
really trying hard
to narrow it down
to just two, or
three. but it's
harder than it looks.

finding things

you have a day
where you
shockingly
find everything
you were looking
for. the watch,
the wallet,
the sunglasses.
there's that
shoe way
under the bed,
the scarf in
the pocket
of your winter
coat. you find
the lines
short through
out the day,
the sun bright
as you easily
find where you
need to be.
you find
the right book
to read,
the time to
sleep, you find
everything right
where you
left it,
including you,
waiting at home
with open arms
for me.

lost

lost gloves,
lost
loves,
lost shoes.
lost
scarves.
lost nights
from too
much drinking,
lost minutes
wasted
in line
for coffee
lost hours
looking online
for you. lost
in the woods
lost
on the beltway.
lost in space.
lost weight,
lost rings,
lost years,
lost money
in the market.
lost coins
from a hole
in your pocket.
lost sight of
everything
that once
seemed right.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

get going

you have to go to work
now. you can't keep
sitting here
in a half wet towel
around your waist
typing. your feet
are cold. you still
have to brush your
teeth and get some
clothes on. any second
now, you are going
to get up and get
going. get some coffee,
gas up, go to
the paint store
and begin your day
at the office, up
high on a ladder
with nothing but
a cold blue sky
above you.
any second now.

revolving doors

when you were younger
and by younger
you mean
thirty or so, you
had a revolving
door put into
your house, not
unlike the one
at the train
station. things
were moving quickly
then. you had
a ticket machine
with a red
box keeping count
of the numbers
above the kitchen
counter where
you served wine
and appetizers.
names were not
important as you
posted a sign,
must check out
no later than
nine. remove all
belongings as
you leave. you are
not proud of
those days, but
it's where you
were. now you slide
the dead bolt
tight on
the steel door
as you go to sleep
each night.

hello daddy

a bus pulls
up at your front
door full
of grown
children,
one by one
they knock
patiently until
you open up
and say, yes,
can i help you.
hello daddy,
they each
say. i'm glad
that i finally
found you.
at this point
you wake
up from
the dream
and throw a bucket
of ice cold
water upon
your head.
cautiously, you
peek out
the window.
and try to
calm down.

water rising

sometimes
the water rises
slowly.
in quiet soft
inches
around your boot,
you don't
even hear
it coming,
although the birds
warn you,
with their
screeching
in the trees.
it caresses
you, rises
above your ankles
gets cold
as it takes
your knees.
by days end
you are swimming,
searching
for dry land
or a rooftop
with which
to rest
and once more
make a stand.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the box of photos

there is less
to do
on a rainy day.
or so you think
as you lower
windows
and let the dog
in. there are
books to read,
poems to write,
rewrite,
and abandon.
somewhere your
mother lingers
by a phone
stirring a pot
awaiting what
you have to add
to it.
there are clothes
to fold
and carry up
the stairs,
then there is
the box you
trip upon, full
of old photos,
dusty,
when they were
on squares
of paper,
held in hand.

some days

you are
a spun grey
cloud, adrift,
neither here
nor there,
but floating,
searching
for a front
to be part
of, a system
with which
to call home.
no rain
within, or
snow. just
a thread
bare cloud
with no where
important
to be, or go.

november

you hear
the slight
whisper
of icy rain
against
the window,
feel november
at your
back, a
hand with
long cold
fingers.
but it's okay,
you've been
here before
and got out
with most
of you
intact.

the new world

at sea for months
on end,
you give columbus
the evil eye
as he stands
on deck
with telescope
in hand. he is
dressed in his
frilly purple
bloomers and feather
hat. what the hell
you mumble
underneath
your breath
which smells
like codfish
and cheap wine.
you could use
a shower, some
soap and hot
water. you've
been shaving
for months
with your belt
buckle and the cuts
are all infected.
you can't eat
another piece
of fish, or salted
dried lard.
the brochure
said an adventure,
a luxury alternative
to sailing.
discover new worlds
and be a part of
history. you want
your money back,
you say to yourself,
wait until you get
home, there will
be hell to pay,
then suddenly
someone yells out
land ho. you move
to the front of the
heaving wooden
vessel and squint
towards the green
splotch of
land. you yell
out boldly
that you are going
to eat the first
live squirrel
you lay your hands on
when an arrow
hits you in the head.

how it starts

i can't she
says. stop,
i really do
like you, but
please,
not until
we're married.
but we are,
married,
you say, yes,
she says, i know,
but not to each
other. so what's
your point, you
ask her.
flustered,
and confused
by your tricky
questioning
she says okay,
but just this
once. don't
tell anyone.
my lips are
sealed
you tell her,
have another
glass
of wine.

potatoes and stringbeans

you sit at your
keyboard,
hands on the letters
awaiting
instructions.
nothing comes.
you look out
the window.
the woman next
door is weeding
her garden
in her underwear.
you know her
in passing.
she's always
on a diet,
or getting some
sort of surgery
to ehance a portion
of her body.
she's wearing
flip flops
and a ball cap.
a tiger bra
and matching
panties.
you stare at
her for a minute
or two then
turn away
and write about
lumpy mashed
potatoes
and string beans.

make me happy

i need to buy something
she says, i feel
sad and depressed,
anything, something
bright and shiny
perhaps. a watch,
a ring, a necklace
to go with my shoes.
i'll feel better then.
i'll feel even
better if you buy
me things too. why
don't you ever buy
me things. if you cared
if you really
loved me you'd shower
me with gifts.
she wrings her hands
and looks out
the window in
the direction of
nordsroms and neiman
marcus. i need something
to make me feel
better. can we go
shopping, can we?
it will really make
me happy.
you get her
a glass of water
and her pills, here
you say, take these.
you forgot them
this morning.

the bank

you need some
cash
for coffee
and a donut,
but
the bank
requires two
id's.
a signature
and a thumbprint,
your mother's
maiden name
and a photo
picture
of you and
your dog
playing catch.
you just want
twenty
dollars though,
you say.
it's my money.
you are just
watching it.
this makes
a security
guard come
forward
with gun drawn
to escort you
out.

not amused

in the street
some are crying,
with heads
bowed, sititng
on the curb,
sobbing,
while others
are running
with smiles,
gleefully
throwing
their arms
into the air
shouting
victory.
the homeless
and the jobless
are not amused
nor encouraged
by either.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

nothing changes

did you vote,
she says
showing a
sticker
on her sweater
proclaiming
that she did
so, and proudly
she might add,
gleaming.
there is
a small
flag in
her hand, but
if the other
one wins, she
says,
i'm going
to canada,
something
you once
said about nixon.

black water

waist deep
in black water
asleep
but awake,
you'll find
a way out of
this dream.
get to
the bottom
of things.
but first
you have to
swim, arm
over arm
to the other
shore. you're
not sure
what awaits,
but you have
to get there
soon.

the lost and found

the lost and found
bin holds
single gloves,
black leather,
or white with little
rhinestones,
glasses,
umbrellas, blue
and yellow,
some with curled
handles.
handbags
and hats, scarves
made of silk,
or wool. all
things left
behind in the dark
as the movie
ended
and you rose
to leave,
stepping out
into the cold
empty handed.
and when you
return the next day
the young boy
looks at you
suspiciously guarding
this tomb
of lost things,
protecting
what's been lost,
less worried about
cold hands,
blurred eyes,
or heads
that feel
the frost,dutiful
in his job.

the race

at the start
the gun
goes off and
the runners
bolt
from their
crouched positions,
lean into
their sprints,
hands and
legs leaping
forward,
fighting
the weight
of themselves
against
gravity
and time,
each to his own
race,
his own
finish line.

Monday, November 5, 2012

a place for everything

she hung her
keys
on the wooden
peg
in the hallway
near
the light
switch
and the table
where the mail
fell
from her hand
each day.
the coat went
on a knob
of the closed
closet door.
her shoes
would come
off
and be set
upon the first
step
of the stairs
leading up
to where she
slept
and where
she died
that night,
leaving
everything in
a place that
was familiar.

cat dreams

an old radiator
drums
out while
the sizzle
of wind
eeks through
the unsealed
window.
footsteps
up above,
heel to toe
and back again,
keep you
up. but the cats
sleep
through all
of it
stretched out
from tail
to paw.
dreaming of
spring
and birds.
fat mice.

the fish man

the man behind
the fish counter
has soft blue eyes.
he's neither tanned
nor pale
but ruddy. washed
over, and sun dried,
the salt in his veins,
as if he's been
out to sea for
years. he knows
his fish. you see
him reach and
grab for the one
you select, still
and stiff on the cracked
ice below
the flourescent
lights. he weighs
and wraps the fish
with ease. how long
have you been at this
you ask, making small
conversation.
just a week he says,
i used to be in
the produce section
for years.
i miss the apples,
he says wistfuly.
i really do. will there
be anything else?

investment banker

you see your ex
banker
out in the middle
of the median
in an orange
jumpsuit
with DOC
on the back.
he's picking
up garbage
along the highway.
he did all
of your investments,
stocks
and savings,
your four o one
K. you search
for something
in your car
to throw at
him, something he
can pick up
and put into
his bag, but you
aren't like
that. so you just
beep, ride on
and wave.
sometimes
things do
come back around.

nurse and doctor

you come home from
work and your
wife is in the kitchen
stirring
a pot of soup
on the stove. that
smells good you
tell her, kissing her
lightly on the neck.

hey, she says, i'm
cooking. this is hot.

i was thinking, you say.
maybe tonight, just
hear me out, that
we could umm, you know...

what? she says. spit it out,
oh, by the way, don't
foget to take the trash
to the curb. there's three
big green bags
out back full of leaves.

i was thinking, you start
again, that maybe we
could ummm. you put
your hands
around her waist, which
makes her jump,

that tickles she says,
stamping her feet. stop.
be careful, this soup
is almost boiling.

maybe, you persist,
just maybe, later, we
could play doctor and
nurse tonight.

her head snaps around
and she laughs.
doctor and nurse, really.
what grade are you in
buster. pffft.
what kind of a doctor.
a podiatrist? i hope not,
because that doesn't
work for me at all. touching
all those stinky feet
all day long.

you sigh. i don't know.
maybe i'm a general
practitioner.

do you have
your own office. in the city?
the suburbs?

what does that matter,
you ask her.

i don't know, she says.
a doctor in the city
seems more important...
move to side would you.
i have to chop this
celery.

you take your hands
off her waist. i'll
go get the trash, you say.

i don't like the idea
of a cardiologist, either
she says, yelling as you
head towards the door. would
you have a white coat on.
a stethescope? i think i'd
rather be a receptionist
instead of a nurse,
is that okay? i just
don't like being around
needles and blood.

you let the screen door slam
as you go get the trash.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

between the lines

don't
worry about me.
i'm fine.
i'm well.
doing just great.
i've got
the world on
a string.
sorry to hear
that she
says.
i hope things
change for
you,
i really do.