Thursday, February 28, 2013

the primal scream

when the hot air
balloon goes
tumbling
to the ground
in flames
you don't smugly
say, i told
you so, but you
could, if you
wanted. and the
same goes for
bungee cords breaking,
para sails falling
like rocks
into the shark
infested sea,
and those zip
lines in costa
rica hurtling
you into a snake
filled banana tree.
go right ahead, you
say, sipping
on your rum
infused drink
with a bright orange
wedge dangling
delicately
on the rim. go
right ahead,
have fun.
i'll be here
awaiting your return,
i mean
if there is one.

above water

you want
the stream,
like a sleeve
of ice,
to freeze over
so that you
can slide
across it
in your slippery
shoes
and get to the
other side,
twisting
and turning,
pirouetting like
a happy child
in the last
cold gasps
of winter.
being above water
for a change.

can you fix this

you follow
her up the stairs
as she eats
from a bag of oreos,
averting your eyes
from the obvious.
you are there
to look at the bathroom
and it's peeling
paper, not her,
the dog comes up
behind you. picking
up the cookie
crumbs
that drop from
the woman's
hand. you see
the husband lying
in bed as you pass
by a room.
he's smoking
and watching tv
from beneath the sheets.
he waves, you
wave. in these
moments you think
how small the world
is. how strange.

your shadow

your shadow
is taking the day
off.
it's raining,
so he won't be
needed.
you let him
sleep in.
his head on
the pillow where
you were
last night.
but he can't sleep
and soon
finds you sitting
outside
under an umbrella.
what if the
sun comes out,
he says. attaching
himself
back to your foot.
you'll need
me. you'll always
need me.

flossing is important

your dental
hygienist
kelly
is too happy
for her own
good. considering
the tasks
of her trade
scraping sharp
metal
tools with hooks
against teeth
and gums, removing
the stains
of lifes
culinary debris.
not flossing a
lot, are we, she
says, while
jamming
a water pipe, then
an air tube
into your mouth,
close and suck,
she says
behind her cotton
mask and
plastic goggles.
flossing is important,
she sings
in a high pitched
voice, not unlike
julie andrews
in the sound of
music, but
you ignore her
as you stare at a
poster of decaying
teeth and purple
gums beside
the chair.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

keep your distance

you hate taking
the bus
or the subway
and having people
fall asleep
against your shoulder,
drooling.
it's not that
you don't like
people, you just
don't like being
stuck in tight
places with
them, with no way
out. they talk
and make noises.
they smell badly
sometimes.
elevators
are difficult.
the stops and starts.
more get on
as some get off.
the sneezing
and coughing.
the shuffling
of feet for an inch
of space.
touching the buttons
that they just
touched.
you could never
be an astronaut.
it would be too
difficult, especially
the bathroom
part of the trip.
the snoring.
but you like people,
you really do.
just from a distance
though, of
at least ten feet.

the test drive

you take
a test drive
with an anxiously
happy
salesman named
cliff.
it's winter
after all
and it's beginning
to snow.
kids?
he says, putting
on his seatbelt.
a few, i guess,
you answer,
shifting gears
and climbing
the ramp
towards
the interstate.
if i could get you
the right price,
a sweet deal and
have my manager
approve it,
would you buy this
car today,
he asks, tappping
his fingers
along the dashboard.
i'm capable of
anything at this point
in my life,
you tell
him, hitting eighty
in sixth gear,
turning the radio
up to block
out what he might
say next.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

a rose

every rose
in its garden
has
a thorn
to prick your
thumb
when least
expected.
and the blood
is a reminder
of how
difficult love
can be.
like the rose,
or any of
the lesser
flowers
that you've
known.

a cold world

she steals
the blanket
in the middle
of the night
leaving you naked
and shivering.
it's all
about her, it
seems
as you fight
to get it back.
but she's strong
in her sleep
and won't release
even an inch
of the thick
wool blanket.
it's a cold
world
when she's around,
but even colder
when she's not.

the baker

the baker
rises before
the sun.
his hands in
the white
silk
sand of flour
and
eggs. sugar
in bags
by the door.
on the long
metal
table, he rolls
the dough for
cookies,
beating the batter
of cakes.
he's an
artist with peaches
and apples.
there is no
smile he can't
bring to a child
with chocolate,
or a woman
wanting cinammon
scones
with her tea.

a brunette moment

she likes to
tell you
things
like i'm having a
brunette moment
when she
says something
smart or clever,
or intuitive.
which happens
a lot
on her watch.
she is the sharpest
girl
in the drawer,
but you'd
like her better
if she'd
stop cutting
into you and just
be quiet
for a while
and play dumb.

forward we go

an inch
a foot, a yard.
a mile.
a long
stretch
on the hot road.
one foot
in front of
the other.
not so much
a turtle
as a hopping
green toad.

a good flood

you don't know how
high
the river will
rise
with this storm.
but you know
how to swim
if it comes
to that.
and on occasion
it has taken
everything you
thought you needed
to get by.
your world needs
a good flood
every now and
then
to straighten
things out.

birthday month

my birthday
is next month
she tells me,
while casually
while walking past
a diamond
store.
the whole month,
or are you
just going to do
one day, this year?
you ask her.
i might do
a week, this time
around, she says.
all my friends
are taking me out.
one at time.
lunch, dinners, we
might even get
massages together,
or go shopping.
so when is your
birthday, she asks.
never.
you tell her, i'm
done with that.

sailing on

your mother
was pregnant nine
times.
like a cat in heat
every time
your father came
into port
on leave.
being italian
and catholic there
were rules
for your mother,
but not for him,
so the babies
kept coming
and your father
kept leaving
until that ship
sailed for good.

a bag of nickels

he looked
like someone had
beaten him
with a bag of nickels,
we used
to say
as kids about
the bum
in an alley
sleeping with
a brown
bagged bottle
between
his wet trousers,
and he probably
had been.
his pockets hung
inside out.
his jacket torn.
but he seemed
happy in
his blissful state,
with nothing being
worse
than this.

Monday, February 25, 2013

folding laundry

you could never
quite figure
why your mother
seemed to like
hanging
laundry on
the line, standing
in the april
sun. you watched
her from the window
going out
with a basket
to fold
the crisp white
sheets, the towels,
dried in the breeze.
her children's
shirts and pants.
your sister's
dresses.
she seemed to lose
herself,
become calm and distant.
alone
in her thoughts
despite the chaos
around her.
and now as you
stand in your own
laundry room,
taking warm clothes
from the dryer,
folding them one
after another.
placing them into
a basket,
you understand.

the king

another year
goes by and you
haven't won an oscar,
or an emmy,
no pulitzer
prize is in your
hands.
even the golden
globes
don't call your
name to step
forward and be
honored by
your peers.
no nobel prize,
no grants awarded
by any think
tanks. no bollinger,
or poet laureate
nomination
has come your way.
but you were once
elected king
of the ninth
grade prom,
a glorious moment
in your life,
and they can't
take that
away.

a purse

you find
a woman's purse
on the street.
you pick it up
and look both ways.
there is no one around.
it's a nice purse.
a shoulder purse
perhaps. black,
leather like,
with a gold
clasp. you open
it and peek
inside. looking
once again
down the sidewalk
to see if anyone
is around.
you go to a park
bench and slowly
take your time.
a gentle archaeological
dig to find
whose it is.
lipstick, three tubes.
perfume, a watch
stuck on one time.
a ticket stub
to Lincoln, torn
in half. a police whistle.
kleenex and gum,
a hairbrush full
of black hair,
a compact,
a pen, a note pad
with a name
but no number written
on it. some coins.
a set of keys.
a laminated photo
of a bulldog
on his back.
saltine crackers.
a nail file, nail clippers.
lotions. hand, face,
body. small
hotel tubes.
a bar of soap still
wrapped.
there are m and m's
all about as well.
but no wallet, no id.
you close the purse
back up
and take it to where
you found it. you
hang it on a branch
on a sturdy tree.
what a nice purse
you think putting
your hands into your
almost empty pockets.

bye bye

you
are afraid of flying.
the shudder
of the plane
at take off
and the swift
rise that leaves
your stomach
slightly
behind.
the shimmy and shake
of metal
and plastic
the roar
of jet engines
on those fragile
wings
outside
the thick port
holes. the speed
as it plows
upwards and upwards
before leveling
off between
clouds. the soft
drinks
and crackers
are not enough
to soothe you.
the calm voices of
flight attendants
don't work.
the drinks not
stiff enough.
only two things can
happen when in
the air like that,
you either
get there or
you die.
you hate flying.

chocolate cake

her seven
cats
and three dogs,
three lovers
in three
different cities
did not
distract you
from liking her.
it was her strange
inventive
energy
that kept you
on your toes
and off
your feet,
but there was
a dark side
too, that involved
chocolate
cake after three
lusty
sessions of
making love.
you can still see
her lips lined
with cake crumbs
and icing
as she leaned back
and sighed,
fork in hand.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

thirty days to live

you find out you
have a month
to live.
you've picked up
a rare disease
having been bitten
by a mosquito
while visiting
mozambique for
a summer vacation.
so you plan to go
out with a bang
and ring your credit
cards up to the max.
you cash in your
savings, your
retirement, your
hidden cash reserves.
you take all your coin
jars to the bank
and pour them into
the cash back machine.
you sell your house
and start
buying new cars for
all your friends,
the ones you really like,
not just pretend,
and boats, fur
coats and diamond
rings. you eat
and party, drink,
throw caution
to the wind with
unprotected sex.
you have become a wild
man again like you were
a few years ago
when you turned
fifty. you spend the days
and nights in silk
pajamas, dancing
and singing.
but a month goes
by and you don't die.
you don't even feel
sick. in fact you
have never felt better
in your life with
all the pressures
off. and then your
doctor calls, seems
there was a mix
up at the lab.
my bad, he says.
you'll be fine.

the violet room

your client
can't find the right
color
for her room.
she wants grey, but
it's violet now.
the color
a young girl
would choose, snapping
gum, and playing
with her curls
as she sets her
dolls on the night
stand,
and tapes posters
of justin
beiber
onto the walls.
it's a sweet color.
but you can't
go back
again, at least
not that far.
you suggest grey
like the streak
along her
bangs.

33rd st. north

you hear
the stories
of dogs
getting lost
and finding their
way home
from hundreds of
miles away.
with no
map, no phone.
they just know.
and you,
you can't find
your way out
arlington
and it's devilish
maze of broken
roads.

already gone

you miss
the way she
laughed
at you,
the way
she shook her
head,
throwing back
her hair.
the sound of
her voice,
the scent of her
perfume,
you long for
the curve
of her hips,
the touch
of her hand,
her lips
on yours. you
miss all
of that, but
she's been gone
a long time,
although she's
still sitting
right there.

the woodpecker

the red hooded
wood pecker
knows what to do
and so
goes at it without
a hint
of worry
or concern that
he should be
doing other
things. again
and again
at the side
of the tall hard
tree. doing what
he knows
is right, his
sharp beak working
rapidly through
sunlight, and you
wonder,
why not you.

the sunfish

before everyone
awakened
you ate nearly
every donut
in the box
at your grandmother's
cottage
in cape cod.
then you took
a stroll
out into the warm
bay water.
walking slowly
as it rose
up
to your neck.
you remember
seeing the wide
gold bend
of a sunfish
as you stepped
into a hole
and went
under.
flailing your
five year
old arms you
managed to go
backwards
to find air
and live. going
back inside
with tears
in your eyes
you heard your
grandmother's angry
voice, scolding
you, but things
had changed
and it didn't
matter.

without conditions

the dog
sheds a blonde
brush
of hair
on the black
couch.
her eyes
weep
along the sides
of her nose.
she limps
and falls,
she can't go
as fast as she
wants to go.
the front
paw trembles.
how quickly
the seasons
change
when someone
is loved
without
condition.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

i know another way

she thinks that
you've come around
to a different way
of thinking.
it took awhile.
with you taking
the back roads.
not the smartest
thing to do.
the brambles,
the thorns,
swamp water
up to your knees,
the rabid
raccoons.
but you'll heal
in time.
and now finally,
you'll listen
to reason, she
believes,
stay on
the main roads,
follow
the signs.
hardly.

denial

the rooster
crowed
three times
before peter's
shame
set in.
fear
causing denial
of what one
knows is
true.
how many more
times
must it
crow for
you.

to a better place

in the glimmer
of abundant shine
and lights you
see
the plain
clothes men
going through
the deep pockets
of an old
woman's coat.
they take out
a can of
tuna. a jar
of beets.
a small box of
uncle ben's
wild
rice. she's
resisting,
trying to run,
but they have
her by
the collar. i
used to
work for
roosevelt, she
says.
i know people.
you can't do this
to me.
but off she
goes.
you see her in
the back of a squad
car.
and when she looks
at you, passing
by with your
groceries, she
smiles
and winks.

church time

let's go to church
she says one morning.
putting on a nice
flowery dress
and hat. you look
at her from the pillow
where you spilled
a drink last night
you feel something
stuck to the side
of your face.
it's a lime
wedge. church? you
say, startled. yes,
she says. if i'm
going to date you,
i need some balance
in my life. get
dressed it'll do
you good and you
don't disagree. but
one thing first, you
tell her, could
you find the key
and uncuff me.

the watch and the ring

in the grand tradition
of breaking
up she throws the ring
back at you.
it hits you in
the head and bounces
off into a storm
drain. three thousand
dollars flash
through your mind
as you watch
the rainwater carry
its pear shaped twinkle
someplace where you'll
never find it again.
angry, you take off
the nineteen dollar
swatch watch that she
bought you for your
birthday and throw
it at her, which she
catches and straps
to her wrist before
walking away.

something fishy

you come to realize
that you don't trust
most animals.
goats and horses.
lizards
or snakes.
even birds seem
to have a hidden
agenda.
always flocking
together.
planning something.
cats are the sneakiest.
aloof
and alone all
day. doing what?
those schools of
fish moving
about as one
without even a word
between them.
they seem know
something that we
don't know.

Friday, February 22, 2013

the stopped clock

you watch
the crane
swing the wrecking
ball
into the side
of a tenement
building,
a low stretch
of red bricked
walls with windows
laced in black
iron.
striped
and stained
mattresses
fall out like
tongues.
chairs drop
empty into the rubble,
lamps, unlit
with yellowed
shades break noisily
into the heap.
petals of clothes
drift softly
down.
everything within
had a hand on
it once.
the nail to the wall
to hold
a picture,
a head on a pillow.
that stopped
clock.

doctor

you see your doctor
at the bookstore,
but he doesn't see
you. he is browsing
a book in the summer
sale section,
doctoring for
dummies. his glasses
are on the tip
of his nose, as
he's prone to do
when examining you.
his fingers are
on his goateed chin.
slowly he turns
the pages, saying,
to himself,
hmmm hmmm. nodding
thoughtfully.
suddenly you don't
feel so well.

where do babies come from

as your son
peppers you with
questions
you
carefully consider
your answers.
shaping
them into half
truths, myths
and
bent tales of
what could or
could not be.
how can you tell
him
at a young age
where babies
come from.
you could say
they come from love.
but not
really. from affection
perhaps.
there is truth in
that, but not always.
they come
from your mother's
belly, you could
tell him, and
that you had a hand
in it too.
but even that,
these days is, or
can be
a half truth.

patty o

you have too many
friends
named patty.
you want a few
mildreds thrown
into the mix.
a madge,
a violet, or
maybe a gertrude.
gretchen might
be nice as
well.
but patty o,
patti g, patti
rehab
and patty cake
gets old
after awhile.
but they say the
same thing about
me. steve one
two and three.

the haircut

i like to part it
on the side
you said as a kid
to the barber,
nervously
eyeing the leather
strap
where he was
sharpeneing
a razor.
with a little
wave in the front,
you say, i use
brylcreme. sure kid,
he says. sure.
he clips and cuts,
jazzes it up
with some spritz.
snipping away
at the thick tops
and sides
with a pair
of long scissors,
then combs it
all into place.
five minutes later
he spins you
around in
the chair, so
that you can
see yourself
in the wall long
mirror. how's
that, he says,
with his lunch
of an italian sub
still on his breath.
he taps
your cheeks
with some blue
scented water,
then dusts around
your ears and neck
with a soft
brush of powder.
undoing the pin he
then snaps
the striped sheet off
and away from
you. there you go
handsome, he
says. just
like new. now go
get em tiger.

what's your name

i haven't had
my coffee,
she says
holding her
head in her hands
at the kitchen
table.
her hair is a tangled
bush.
i drank too much
last night.
don't look at
me. i'm never
drinking again.
ever.
i will never
raise another
drink to my
lips i can promise
you that.
i smell like
a brewery.
there's coffee
on the counter,
you tell her. can
you get it for me.
i don't think i can
walk that far.
sure you tell her
and pour her
a cup. black, she
says. black.
she takes the cup
with a trembling
hand. thanks, she
says. what did you
say you name was?

knowing

a woman
stops you on your walk
along the lake,
she's crying.
upset and trembling.
i've lost my
key she says. i
can't get home.
my phone is dead.
i don't know
what to do. it's
black and
red, she sobs. if
you see it can
you pick it up
and bring it to me.
i'm circling
back around, she
says. i have
to find it.
the paths are wet
and full of leaves.
it's a five mile
walk around,
with many paths
and diverging trails
to take. it seems
impossible, but
as you walk you feel
as if you'll
find her key.
and you do.
it nearly jumps
into your hand
as you knew it would,
lying there
in the gravel
and sand.

medium rare

hungry, you go to
the restaurant around
the corner that blows
the scent of charred
red meat and fish
into the air. you know
what you want before
you even get there.
and the same goes
for her, when you smell
the subtle wave
of her perfume. it's a
different kind of
hunger though, but
you know what you want
before you even get there.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

this might hurt a little

you open up a new
business.
tattoo removals.
by the end of the week
you have a line
going out
the door. steadying
your hand
with a blue light
laser
you slowly
remove the inhebriated
inspired artwork
from
arms and legs,
breasts
and buttocks.
the butterflies,
the snakes,
the barbed wire
arms, the roses
and scorpions and
all the other youthful
and sometimes
middle aged
mistakes. by the end
of the month
you have three chairs
and three
assistants, you
can smell
the burning flesh
from here to
the harley bar up
the block.

veggie plate

she was
down to eating
lettuce,
carrots,
beets and bell
peppers.
no meat
or pasta touched
her quivering
lips.
she was as white
and thin
as typing
paper. it
became hard to
go out to a
restaurant with
her.
there was little
on the menu
that she wanted.
sometimes she'd
ask me if she
could just smell
the meat
on my sandwich
lifting up
the bun with delicate
fingers
and leaning her
head down
with closed eyes
to inhale the aroma
of charred beef.
sometimes she'd faint
and fall
into her plate
of washed lettuce
leaves, or
water chestnuts.
after she'd awakenen
you helped her
to her car, if she
could remember
where she put it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

nine inch fry pan

you read an expose
on cheaply
made pots
and pans
that are coming
out of
pakistan
via black market
traders
in uruguay.
the toxic fumes
will kill
parakeets
in their cage,
making them
fall in mid
whistle
and dull the minds
of other pets
and the aged
as they sit
without an open
window
in their homes
all day.
thus the phone call
to your mother
questioning
the label
on her
nine inch fry pan.

self reliance

self
reliance is
all
you can truly
count
on
when the ship
goes
aground
on sharp
edged
shores.
but i don't
believe
that anymore.
i welcome
the hand that
lifts
me to my
feet,
as they would
mine
in troubled
times.

in a jersey motel

you have a dream
where you wake up in
a strange room, a motel
room in new jersey.
you are on a mattress
on the floor with
no sheets. it's cold
because the sliding
glass door is ajar.
your clothes are gone.
your phone, your keys,
your pants, all gone.
you only have your underwear
on. which makes you
happy. you go to the door
and pull the heavy
vinyl curtain to the side.
there is a highway
with the morning traffic.
a sidewalk lined with
scrub bushes and cold
green grass, overgrown,
sloping down to the road.
someone must have come
in while you were sleeping
and took everything. but
while in the dream you
realize that it is a
dream, and feel relieved,
strangely though, you
still want to figure out
what to do, how to get out
of this mess. you are
annoyed that you didn't
lock the door before
going to sleep. that won't
happen again.

don't take your love to town

bored silly
you decide to grow
a mustache
like the one you had
in the seventies.
it was a nice
furry strip of
soft blondish
hair that gave
you a kind and yet
rakish look.
sometimes you'd
stroke the sides of
it while waiting
in line for a
hamburger and fries
a the local malt
shop. pondering cheese
or no cheese.
you buy some
boots too, like
you used to own.
cowboy boots with
a snakeskin pattern.
they makes you look
like you have something
going on. the new
mustache comes out
grey and white though,
like kenny rodgers,
who you never liked
except when he was
in a band called
the third edition.
you still remember the
words. ruby,
don't take your love
to town, and now you
can't get the song out
of your head. you get
the razor out and shave
off the mustache.
you don't want to
look like kenny.

jimmy lincoln

a lot of people know
a lot of things about
abe lincoln
but few know much about
his younger
brother jimmy
a real estate
agent in peoria, illinois.
abe of course never
told a lie
while jimmy never told
the truth.
abe had a tall black
hat, while jimmy
kept his hair combed
back ala early
elvis. they both
had log cabins, but jimmy
put one on top
of the other creating
the first condominium
development
which unfortunately was
on indian burial grounds.
abe abolished slavery
while jimmy
invented the apple
martini. in some ways
they were alike though.
they both loved
the theater, had wacky
wives, and liked to
wrestle in the mud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

queen bees

there is a queen
bee
in every pack
of young girls.
you see them
out
and about
in stores or
coffee shops,
the pecking order
is a fine
line
of cool
and not cool.
pretty and plain.
they are
in or they are out,
subtly ranked
among one
another.
it doesn't
end there.
the order stays
put
for most of their
lives,
through the work
years,
and marriage,
raising children.
and even in
the nursing home
you can still see
who is
the queen bee
and that
her stinger
is alive and well.

next up

at the reflection
pool
you see on
the news
the line
of politicians
with their apologies
in hand
approaching
the podium.
their heads are
down, chins
against their
chests. some
have managed to
conjure
up tears.
i'm sorry they
all say. but i've
learned a lot
from this unfortunate
turn of events.
from this day
forward
i'm done with
cheating
and lying,
not paying my taxes.
the prostitutes
and drugs,
the drinking are
all in my past now.
getting caught
doing all these
things will
make me a better
person, a
better husband,
a better
father, a better
man to serve you
my loyal
and trustworthy
constituents.
forgive me and
let's get past this now
and move on.

oh really now

lilly half listens
to your windy
wild gossipy
story that you've
been saving
like a nugget of
gold for lunchtime
today.
you heard it from
your neighbor
who got it straight
from her
hairdresser's
mouth. so you
know it has to
be true. but
lilly waits
for you to finish,
she stares
at her nails,
and goes
hmm hmmm. hmm
hmmm. oh my.
shocking, she
says opening
her eyes as wide
as she can.
finally she puts
her hand
up to stop what
you're saying,
blinking her
eyes.
she can't take it
anymore and puts
her fingers
to your lips
and says shhh.
i heard this story
last week. but
you think that's
something, well
listen to this.
you're not going
to believe what
i have to tell
you.

directions

you can't
get there
from here
the old woman
says
leaning into
the cracked
window
of your car.
you're lost for
good, she
says, cackling,
and squinting
her pea
green eyes like
a witch
called away
from her boiling
cauldron
and splintered
broom. go
back to from
you're from,
we don't
like your kind
around here.

early words

you remember
your grandfather's
words of worn
wisdom
when you were
a small boy,
red faced
in overalls,
standing numbly
in the cold
on his beaten rock
strewn
farm. the trees
were blue,
the sky grey,
pitched
over with smudges
of black clouds.
don't make
friends
with these animals,
they are not pets.
they are food,
he said,
then raised
the long barrel
of his rifle
towards
a sullen pink
hog pulled from
the pen.

the argument

the turned over
bucket
of red paint
is in
no rush to puddle
across
the floor,
slowly
taking it's
time to seep
between the cracks,
into rug,
and against
your shoes.
there is no
hurry
in paint spilled
at this
point.
the damage
of angry words
takes time
to clean up.

your crops will rise

turning the dial
on your
old car radio
you come across
the scratchy voice
of preaching.
you can almost hear
the wind
whistling
through the creases
of a thin
boarded church.
salvation
is at hand.
your crops will
rise
again,
your family will
forgive
you.
it's not your
money, it's God's
send it
back to me
and make things
right in
your broken world.
i'll be sure
that God
gets it.

atkins bread

you remember the time
your friend janie
made three loaves
of atkins diet bread
that no one would eat
because they tasted
so horrible. and how
she stood on the deck
at the beach house
throwing pieces of
them up into the air
for the seagulls, and
how the seagulls
would flap their
wings a few times
then spit the bread
out into the ocean
where even the fish
would turn their
cold noses.

small things

he has a short
tale
of woe, but repeats
it every
day, every
chance he can
on the phone.
small things,
small irritants
in the corner of
his eye.
the stubbed
toe,
the cold coffee,
the traffic
jam
on route fifty.
you listen
and listen and
listen,
saying things
like that's a
shame,
too bad. but
he goes on
about how they
bagged
his groceries
wrong. who puts
bananas in with
the bleach?

sales pitch

there was a time
when the door bell
rang all the time.
salesmen mostly.
persistent
and polished
wearing suits
and shined shoes.
the sold
encyclopedias,
telling you not
to let those
children fall behind.
our company sold
the einstein
family it's first
book on mathematics,
and bibles
for the unsaved,
or wavering
and unsure souls.
you want to go to
heaven, don't you?
there were salesmen
for meat. by the whole
or half cow.
don't go hungry
if the cold war
gets hot.
but now it's
just mormons, polite
to a fault
and girl scouts
with chocolate mint
cookies, how can
you resist and
the occasional
truck full of men
from front royal
virginia,
chewing
tobacco and selling
firewood.

Monday, February 18, 2013

blind date

if you could be any
tree in the whole
universe,
or at least on
the planets
that can grow
trees,
she asks you
while drinking her
third glass
of wine, what kind
of tree would
you be. it takes you
a minute or so to
try and decide if
you should even
answer her, or just
pay the bill
and go. you stare
at the exit
sign near
the bathrooms,
but you play
along, because it's
cold out, and
you don't want to
go home just yet,
and there's nothing
good on tv.
oh, i don't know you
say. maybe a weeping
willow, a great big
weeping willow. you throw
your hands into the air
as if you were one.
oh, oh, she sighs,
batting her eyelids.
me too, me too.
that would be my answer
as well. i love
the weeping willows.
i just knew we were
going to get along.
i just knew it.
okay, now what if you
were a bird, she says,
calling the waiter over
for more wine. what kind
of bird...

rhymes with ibleeda

there is a diagram
on a folded
sheet of white paper,
instructions on
how to put this
desk together. the
words
in swedish.
the double consonants
are piled up against
each other.
arrows point
in which
direction to go
next.
thirty-eight
screws, nineteen
plugs.
twenty-four washers
to be turned
counter
clockwise
at some point
along the way,
but not too soon,
or too late.
a heavy stack of
flimsy pressed
wood boards
full of random holes
pinch your fingers
as you set them down.
a picture of a hammer,
a screw driver,
flat head
and a phillips
are on the page
too. tools you will
need.
all of this best
done in a sound
proof room.
they've left out
the liter of vodka
lime and tonic
water. ice cubes

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the bar of soap

your hands
move
against the white
bar of soap
under
the cold water
which
takes a while
to warm
from this
faucet in
the house, but
the dirt
does come
off. you see
it in the sink
swirling along
the white porcelain.
you are happy
for such a simple
thing
making not
life perhaps,
but at
least your hands
right
with the world
for now.

pointed out

someone points
at the spot on
your shirt.
a coffee stain.
from the window
of his car
another points
at your tire
and mouths the words,
almost flat
as he speeds away.
a person puts
his finger in his
ear on the subway
to tell you
about the shaving
cream that's still
in your ear.
the toilet paper
stuck to
your shoe is studied
by a woman
sitting across
the asile
from you.
the lint on
your shoulder
is noticed too, an old
woman takes the time
to brush it away
with her hand.
and you say thank you.

on her time

i'll see you
tomorrow, she says.
or the next day,
or the day
after that.
and you listen,
you smile
and say that will
be fine.
whenever you can,
i'll be here.
at least for now
i am on your time.

waiting for you

the bus driver
waits for you.
late again.
he sees you in
the mirror
running
in your heels,
your hair still
wet. buttoning
as you go.
he nods his head,
raising his
hand so that
you can see he's
waiting.
he knows you.
as i do, and wait
as well.

his blue eyes

his blue eyes
are smaller now.
no less
mischievous
at eighty three
then they were
at twenty
four.
sapphire gems
twinkling
in the furrows
of his
sea washed
face.
the sun has found
a way
to map
the water he's
sailed upon,
the oceans
and the stars
he's seen.

the sun

turn away
from the sun
and it's still
there.
it doesn't care
that you
don't care.
it doesn't worry.
it stays
where it is.
allowing
you to come back
when
you're cold
in the dark
and ready.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

few, if any

after the day
is finished,
the horses put
away.
the shades drawn,
the dog curled
by a fire.
you think of
what more
you could have
done.
and so it is
with love
when it begins
to fade.
what words
would have changed
the way
the sun goes
down. few,
if any.

for john

he sleeps
and dreams
in his
sick bed.
his wife
is in the other room.
she is lying
still so as to hear
his voice
if he should need
anything.
air, or water
brought to his lips,
or a kiss.
he sleeps
and dreams while
the days of his
life are peeled
off like soft
autumn leaves.

flesh wounds

you don't bleed
for long.
they are just flesh
wounds.
you pull
up your shirt
to show her.
is that you all
got you say.
i've been through
worse,
but you don't
eat when it
ends. you don't
sleep well.
you limp around
like a wounded
bear for a week
or two. you find
solace
in nothing, in
no one else.
at least for now.

march wind

business men
in suits
are chasing
their hats.
the wind
has put
curses
in their mouths
as they run
frantically,
bending over
to retrieve
what's blown
away.

meteorite

you are in the middle
of asking
your sweetheart
to marry you. finally,
she says with tears
in her eyes.
so after being pressed
and cajoled
by her and her
gun toting family
of wheat farmers
you shrug and give
in. you are
on your knees,
in the ice,
the white capped
ural mountains
behind her,
the blue velvet
box opened.
the ring glimmers
in the light,
but it's a cloudy
day.
it's even snowing
a little, what
light could that be?
and then she's gone.

the white cup

the white cup
with
the chipped
edge
is yours.
given to you
by somone
you once knew
fondly.
it's lost
that meaning
over time,
but you still
sip carefully,
away from it's
broken
edge. and
that says more
about
life and love
than you could
ever
speak or write.

but it's not me

there was a time
when you
had to wait for
an answer
to arrive
in the mail.
a week might go
by with you
looking up
the street for
the mailman
and his leather
pouch holding
the answer to
your future with
this girl
you've fallen
madly in love with.
but not anymore.
you wake up
and open your
phone to see the
hurried, mispelled
words.
sorry. i'm not
feeling it. but
good luck. i'm
sure there is
someone out there
just right
for you. but it's
not me. ciao!

simply this

when she says
i made you
breakfast
two eggs over
easy with toast,
and coffee.
the paper
is on the table.
it's ready
when you are,
but i have to
go, kiss me
before i leave,
you realize what
love can be.

turning home

on aging knees,
and worn
heels now,
you miss running.
the burn,
the sweat, the feel
of cold
air in your lungs.
the strain of muscles
on the hill.
the fatigue
and challenge
of going an
extra mile, then
turning home.
you miss turning
home
most of all.

idle hands

the world
is getting
smaller.
shrinking
like a child's
balloon
losing air,
seeping slowly.
you can hardly
catch
your breath
at times.
too many
people
in one place.
too many gods
with too many
demands. too
much free time
for idle
hands.

Friday, February 15, 2013

rosie next door

the woman who lives
beside you might be
a robot. one of those
androids you see
in the movies all
the time,
although you see
her sitting on
her patio
sometimes smoking
cigarettes and
drinking beer.
but she's very
mechanical in how
she talks.
good morning
good evening.
have a nice day.
she walks stiffly
too, in that robotic
kind of way.
she's neither
nice, nor not nice.
she's just, how
shall i say,
non emotional,
like your father.
you keep waiting
for her batteries
to die in mid
sentence, or for a
spring to pop loose
from her head.
you've never seen
her out in
the rain or snow.
so you imagine she
must be afraid
of short circuiting.
you can't stop
thinking about her.
sometimes late at night
you put a glass
to the wall and try to
listen to what she's
doing, but the tv is
too loud. one kiss
is all you need, you
believe to get to
the bottom of this.

the judge

the judge
when he
gets home
is tired.
exhausted from
deciding the fate
of so many.
he kisses his
wife hello
then takes
off his black robe
sets down
his gavel
and sits back
in his
favorite chair
away
from the window.
he doesn't
want to see
people for
a while.
they are all
guilty of something,
even me
he says to his
wife. they just
haven't been
caught yet.

in this line

you've been here
before.
in this line.
behind this person.
hands
in your pockets
with too much
time.
you've seen this
play before.
you know all
the actors, the lines,
the scenery
and score.
you've said these
things again
and again.
years ago,
nothing has changed.
everything
is fresh
in your mind.
you've been here
before. behind
this person. in
this line.

february

i'm sick
of february.
valentine's
day. birthday.
snow day.
short days
dark and cold.
slow work
days.
the shortest
month is the
longest month
of all.
i want to crack
the ice
on this month
and get the hell
out. hand
me that hammer,
i'm going
to florida.

the axe

there was woman
in your office. sawed
off at the knees.
squared.
a bull dog with
short hair. she wore
charcoal grey
suits. black shoes.
thick and hard
against
the hallway floor.
the hair between
her eye brows
was plucked clean.
you never saw her
teeth
but you imagined
blood on
them. a meat eater.
raw. her victims
still alive.
when she knocked
on your cubicle.
that was it. you
gathered up your
things as she spoke
in a monotone
voice, telling
you that the end
was here. a guard
will escort you out.
good luck, she said,
but she didn't
mean it, in fact
you could almost see
a smile crawl
across her tight
thin lips.

so you hope

you've lost
your edge,
your mojo.
your confidence
has slipped away.
even your shadow
shakes his head
when you enter
a room.
your shoulders
slope, you avert
your eyes
from others
thinking they
too might know.
you spend a sunny
inside.
only when it rains
do you feel
good enough
to go outside,
feeling deserving
of the wet
cold and wind
that lashes against
you. you've lost
your edge, but
this too shall
pass, or so
you hope.

return to sender

a birthday
gift arrives
on your porch.
a large box
with airholes
in the top.
you look down both
sides of the street.
the truck is gone.
hey, hey let
me out of here
the woman's
voice says from
inside. i'm
cramping up.
you look at the stamp
on top.
new jersey. what's
your name?
charlene, she says.
now open me up.
i'm your birthday
girl for the weekend.
i don't know, you
say. what do
you look like?
i'm beautiful
and very cultured
too. you lean down
towards the holes
and try to look inside.
a horrible smell
is seeping out.
you're gonna love
me, honest. you
won't be disappointed.
hey, i'm hungry
and thirsty in here.
open me up. hold on
you tell her and go
get a bag of m and m's.
you drop in the green
ones. thanks,
she says. you slide
a long straw
through a hole and
let her sip on a soda.
thanks, now let me
out. she's banging on
the sides, cursing.
i've got a cousin in
jersey who's going to
break your legs if you
don't let me out of here
on the count of three.
you think about it for
awhile, then call
the truck back
to haul her away.
you don't need this
kind of trouble.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the dog walker

the man who walks
the dogs
keeps his head down.
his lips tightly
closed.
holding six leashes
with both hands.
you can tell
he's gentle
and kind, but there
may be something
wrong with him.
something not
exactly right. you
can see it
in his darkened
eyes.
but the dogs
don't mind.
they don't
pay attention to
what's missing, or
unsettling to us.
they are kind like
that and we less so,
at times.

a gift she'll love

she hates
the jewelry
that you've bought
in the past.
the blue ring was
too blue,
too big, too much
like the one
her ex boyfriend
gave her.
the sweater
was red and thick.
real wool. yesterday
you saw it in her
trunk holding
oil cans from
rolling around.
it was your gift
for xmas.
you've bought her
shoes
and lingerie.
wrong sizes
both. it made her
cry and go on a two
week crash diet.
so this valentine's
day, you
played it
safe with an
eight speed
electric mixer
from kitchenaide.
white
with a whisk
attachment.

another country

you make a mistake
and go into the local
big store
where they sell
everything from
underwear to tires.
cheap perfume
and paint.
it's crowded.
it stinks.
everyone is talking
loudly under the flickering
flourescent lights.
there's a leak
in the ceiling,
the drips being caught
in buckets with
orange cones
around them.
a man in a blue
smock keeps saying
hello to you.
hello, hello. hello.
he's older than
your father.
it's the kind of store
that makes you think
of other countries
you could live in.

red roses

there was a time
when you left
roses
for her.
at her work, at
home.
you were always
apologizing for
something you
did, or didn't do.
flowers
seemed the way
to go
at that young age.
the florist knew
you by name,
smiling and shaking
her head
as you came
through the door,
looking glum
as you took out
your credit card.
same address, she'd
say. roses?
and you'd nod.
same note?
same girl?
yup, you'd say.
you had to marry
her to finally
end things.

what day is this?

she is a devil
in her vinyl
red cat of nine
tails
her mask
and hood,
her pitch fork
made of
wood.
she sizzles
as she gets near
you
slinking across
the room with
her tongue
out, her
lips wet
and red with
lipstick.
you see her
coming as you
sit in the
big chair holding
the remote,
flipping through
the channels,
comfy in
your striped
flannel
pajamas. ah oh,
you say.
did i forget
something?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

your server tonight

your new best
friend, your waiter,
erik, with a k,
will be serving
you tonight.
he's very happy
to see you and wants
to chit chat
about the weather
and traffic
and that new movie
that's out.
he might forget
the bread
and the silverware,
the napkins
and water, but
he's all over
the friendliness
thing. he highly
recommends
the grilled salmon
and asparagus,
his personal
healthy choice,
and the chocolate
decadent cake
is his absolute
favorite. in fact
they have to hide
it from him
when he goes into
the kitchen, he
says patting his
flat stomach.
he'll be by every
five minutes when you
are chewing a
mouthful of food,
or deep in a
conversation to
make sure everything
is still okay.
i'm eric, he says,
beaming, with a k,
i'll be your server
tonight.

skinny jeans

you buy a new pair
of jeans.
your size. the size
you've been wearing for
twenty years.
you take them home
and try to get them
on, but they won't
budge past your thighs.
what the hell
you say, hopping over
to the mirror
to look at your self.
you check the tag
again to make
sure they are the right
size. they are.
the same brand as
always too.
maybe they're girl
jeans, but no.
then you see the tag.
skinny jeans, it says.
you roll to the floor
and try to get them
off, but you can't.
slowly you crawl
and worm your way to
the closet to find
a pair of scissors.
you cut them off
releasing your red
swollen legs.
when you return them
to the store, the clerk
says throw them over
there into that pile
with the other
pairs of cut up jeans.
loose fit are to
your left.

gumption

i like a man
with a fast car,
she says. and muscles.
i like my man
to be able to protect
me. to swat away
the losers
like flies.
i want a man with
a big
bank account
and good teeth.
teeth like a wolf
to bite into me.
someone who will
slap me around
a little if i
speak out of turn.
a man
with gumption
and fortitude.
a man that will last
all night.
i want a man
with ambition with
a full head of
hair like samson.
i want....
hold on you say to
her, what's gumption
all about?

retirement

you see the former
pope
at the coffee shop
after his retirement.
he's wearing jeans
and a sweatshirt
saying notre dame.
a pair of silk
bedroom slippers.
he seems relaxed
and at ease without
the robes and hat,
that heavy staff
they made him carry
everywhere.
he's sipping from
his own cup, white
with a red cross
along the side
as he dispenses
crumbs from his
bagel to the flock
of sparrows at his
feet. he nods
politely as people
do a double take
at him sitting there
drinking coffee.
it was a good run.

for the birds

after several
minor accidents
and one large one
involving
a horse trailer
that ended tragically
for several
horses,
they took her keys
away.
she can no longer
drive to
the dollar store
to get her
yarn,
her skim milk
at the grocery.
her lotto ticket.
she no longer makes
her rounds
from betty
to linda, to her
daughter's house
in upper marlboro.
it was never her
fault she
says, that
car or bus, or
truck came out
of nowhere.
i'm done with driving.
but i'm happy
let them come to
me now. driving is
for the birds.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

cathedral

the tree
rotted at the bottom.
a cathedral
of leaves,
of birds
to flock to,
now toppling
under it's own
weight,
full of heavy
rains,
dark needs.
so beautiful
to look at in full
bloom.
but there is
mischief
in the roots.
deception
in the limbs.
all the gold and
silver
won't keep it up
for long,
the trunk
is hollow,
the truth will
set it free
from the ground
it clings to.

a little more

a little piece
breaks
off
the rock
as the water
rushes against
it, a
silver sleeve
in the sunlight
against
the blue stone.
a small sliver
crumbles
and gets carried
away
each day, each
new rain.
down the stream
it goes,
a little more
a little more
until
you're gone
to stay.

sex change

your friend lenny tells
you that he needs to have
a serious talk, that
he wants to confide in
you something that you will
be sworn to secrecy with,
which surprises you, him
knowing what a blabber
mouth you are.
what is it, you ask as you
sit at the coffee shop.
i think i might really
be a woman inside, he
says. i don't feel like
a man anymore. a tear
rolls down his cheek.
you gag a little on your
dried out scone. i took
up knitting, he whispers,
leaning over the wobbly
table. i'm a knitter now.
look at my outfit, my shoes
match my sweater. feel my
hand, see how soft the skin
is. i'm taking baths
with grapefruit body lotions.
yesterday i baked a quiche
with little broccoli heads
in it. hey, hey. you
tell him. you're not
a woman, you're a man
of the, of the...
whatever this decade is
that we're in.
you still like women don't
you, sexually i mean,
you ask, reaching
over to pat his hand.
but you stop when you
see the charm bracelet
around his wrist with
little monopoly pieces.
yes. i like women, i love
women, he says, sobbing,
but maybe i'm a lesbian
woman inside a man's body.
he pulls a tissue out
from the top
of his lime green sweater
and dabs his eyes. i don't
want to get the operation, i
just don't want to do that.
calm down calm down you
tell him, you're not getting
anything cut off.
you're just becoming more
sensitive. you are growing
as a person. really? he says.
do you think that's all it is?
sure you tell him. the other
day in the dentist office i
flipped through an entire
copy of ladies home journal.
i feel better, he says.
whew. i've been so worried.
thank you for listening.
pffft, you say,
no problem buddy.
hey, he says, what are
you doing today,
do you want to go see Les
Miz. there's a matinee show
starting soon. umm.
you know what, i would, but
i have a yoga class in an hour.
rain check?

dance class

bored with winter
you take a free dance
class
at the local
YMCA. you stand
on the sidelines
limbering up, watching
your instructor,
kia, who dances like
a gazelle.
let's see what you've
got she says,
taking your hand
leading you out
onto the dance
floor. have you ever
danced before, she
asks you. do you
know any dances.
sure, you tell her.
i used to do the twist
and the swim,
the mashed potatoes.
in junior high i
mastered a dance
called the fly. in
fact i could probably
teach that if any
of your students want
a lesson or two.
i tried learning
the latin hustle
back in the early
eighties but i injured
my hip. so what dances
will we be doing
here, you ask her?
but she doesn't answer
as she spins away
to the music to grab
another student.

tax season

you hand your tax
lady
your accounting
books for last year.
your w-2's, your
interest numbers,
gains and losses
of your stocks,
you give her your
mileage driven
to get work done,
stubs and receipts,
you bake her
an apple pie and give
her a gallon
of french vanilla
ice cream.
you tell her how
nice she looks.
that she's getting
younger looking
every time you
see her. don't
make me laugh,
she says and i'll
try and keep us
both of jail
one more year.

Monday, February 11, 2013

don't tell anyone


holding a secret,
a bit of hot
gossip
for almost
an hour, the
loose words
slip
out from the mind
onto
the tongue
into the air.
you regret
them before they
reach an
ear. but it's
too late, so
the rest comes
out as well.

superstitions

as a kid
you watched
the ladders,
the black cat,
the crack
on the sidewalk.
you made
a wish
on the falling
star,
or made three
with a coin
tossed
in the well.
you had a rabbit
foot for a
key ring.
your catholic
childhood
didn't keep
you from
superstitions
if anything
it made it worse
as you lift
your feet
while driving
across the railroad
tracks.

inebriated wisdom

abstinence
makes
the heart grow
fonder.
look both
ways
before crossing.
a penny saved
is a waste
of time.
a hard
man is good
to find.
you only live
once
unless
of course
you're
of the hindu
faith
and if that's
the case
go on
and don't worry
about it,
have some fun.

i need some parts

there once
were clock makers.
fixers
of machines.
televisions pulled
out from
cowebbed walls
and the backs
removed
to find the blown
tube or frayed wire.
they were odd
men in greasy
clothes, with
dust in their
mustaches,
their glasses
slipping down
the slopes of their
long noses.
they'd mumble things
like, i think
i see the problem,
as they turned
the washing machine
on it's back,
the wires splayed
open, red and black
electrical
strings. i'll be
back tomorrow,
they'd say,
don't touch anything,
i need some
parts.

two for a dollar

two for a dollar.
one size
fits all.
no salesman will
visit your home.
it cleans
and shines, polishes
with no
waxy buildup.
it's the only
product you
will ever need
and is guaranteed
for a lifetime
or a full refund
will be given.
it will
make you smarter,
taller, skinnier,
more fun
to be around.
it gets rid
of unwanted
moles
or freckles,
unruly hair.
it puts a spring
in your step,
and keeps
the bugs away.
it's not sold
in any store, but
if you call this
toll free number
we can deliver it
by tomorrow. just
two for a dollar.
two for a dollar.

his blue fiat

your friend
is dying.
withered down
to nothing.
bones
and sinew.
eyes and ears.
his teeth
rattle
when he speaks.
you love
him and the history
that you
both hold of
being young
once, so long
ago.
in your dreams
you see
him with a dark
beard,
laughing.
tinkering always
on his broken
blue fiat.

the whistle

she used to whistle
when she
spoke or laughed,
the small gap
between her front
teeth
tossing a spray
of spittle
your way. but
you didn't mind
because she was
so cute and fun,
pleasant to be
around. you miss
her a lot, but
not the extra
wash you had
to do.

out there

on earth
we tend to think
differently
than those out there.
we await
their arrival
in fear of
the impending doom
of their
advanced
knowledge.
how they lust
after our
resources, our
women, our
coffee. but they
don't come.
and they
don't worry so
much about us
going there. they
seem to be so
much smarter
than us, or maybe
even dumber and
don't know we're
here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

smart girl

but you could have
any man in the world
with your beauty
you say to her as she
purrs like a kitten
beside you. so true.
she says. but i used
to have a mercedes benz.
i loved that car
and it was stolen.
i lived in a beautiful
home along the shore
and it was broken into
and everything
was gone. in manhattan
my gold watch was
ripped from my arm
as i walked on 5th avenue.
i was married
to the most virile
and handsome man
in hollywood a long
time ago, and he cheated
on me every chance
he could. so with you
i figure, you'll
be around for awhile.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

we're so different

we are so different
she tells you
while driving in
the car. i like
soup and a salad.
you don't. it's
meat and potatoes
for you.
i prefer the beach
you like the city.
you vote red
and i vote blue.
i don't know
how we even
get along.
even the radio
is set differently
to play our
songs. we are so
different in so
many ways, she says.
i can't believe
we've been married
this long.
are you listening
to me? i just
saw you roll your
eyes again
and yawn.

the feeder of pigeons

you carry
a loaf
of bread
around with you
to feed
the pigeons
wherever
you go.
they eat it up
like puffs
of flattery.
it makes
you happy
to make them
happy, whatever
bird happiness
is, or isn't.
it's not
your job
to know. you
are just
the feeder
of pigeons.
no more, no
less.

the social network

the man
with a white
beard
and flushed face,
holding a sign
on the corner
with a red cup
full of change
and crumpled
dollars
has added
another sign
taped to the
bottom.
friend me on
facebook it says.
donations
can be made
there as well.
god bless.

a patch of ice

the foot finding
the patch
of ice
feels quickly
what is
about to happen.
and as the sky
turns
over, your
arms flinging
helplessly
towards
the clouds,
you think about
another
path you could
have taken.

the pin

the pin you
drop
into the thick
dark rug,
that you
can't find,
even on
your hands
and knees,
will
find you
in all
good time.
walk gently
through
the pin filled
world.

temporary fillings

this is all temporary
she says. i'll be moving
out of here soon.
i'm just renting
for the moment
until the rates
go down,
but i'm about
to buy, maybe
something in
the country, or
a condo in the city.
i can't decide.
that car
outside
in the lot. zip
car. i'll be getting
a real one
this spring.
these clothes i'm
wearing i'll
be donating to
the salvation army.
i'm just wearing them
until
i get some new
ones. i can lose
this weight. do you
see all this extra
weight i'm carrying.
holiday pounds, she says.
i am resculpting
my body. what you
see now is going
to be gone
in six weeks, so
take a long look.
i'm about to change.
i even have
a temporary filling,
look, see, she
says opening her
mouth wide.
it's not a real
tooth. but i'm
getting a real tooth
soon. i'm in transition
she says.
everything is about
to change.

salesman

the salesman
has his hand deep
into your pocket
as he asks
you how the family
is, your dog.
you look great
he says, did you
lose weight.
you don't look
nearly your
age, has anyone
told you that?
well, anyway.
we have a contract
drawn up
and all you
need to do is
sign here on
the dotted line,
and here and here,
and once more here.
he puts his
hand on your
back, well, he
says, go ahead,
what are you waiting
for. it's a once
in a life time
deal. you won't
regret it. i promise
you that, he
smiles, trying
to hold back
his split tongue.

Friday, February 8, 2013

i want my future now

the future is not
what it used to be.
we were promised so
much as children.
jet packs.
bullet trains
and time travel.
we should be living
on mars by now.
having interplanetary
relations
with green skinned
women. okay,
maybe we have that.
but most of the future
has not been
fulfilled.
we had train and cars,
even planes in the early
1900's.
nothing's changed,
but our telephones
which change and get
more advanced
every three months.
put those geniuses
to work on other
things, for a while.

call me when you break up with him

my new boyfriend,
she says
excitedly,
is taking me to a
play on saturday.
shakespeare.
then we're
going to dinner
in chinatown
for some crispy beef,
and in the morning
brunch
at la escargot.
that afternoon,
if it's not raining
we'll take
a long walk
around the zoo.
hand in hand.
he calls me sugarplum
and i call him
stud muffin.
we do ice skating
on tuesday and
play scrabble
until midnight
on thursday.
and just about
every day and night
that we're together
we have
lot and lots
of wild sex.
sometimes we dress
up like roman
gods and goddesses
pretending to....
okay, okay,
you tell her putting
your hand up. stop.
stop talking.
i hate the both
of you.
i have to go home
now to walk
my dog. call me
when you break up.

tap water

you wake up
in a strange room.
your legs
and arms
are wrapped in
white plaster
casts.
there are people
standing
beside your
bed.
you can only see
out of one eye.
there is a needle
in your arm.
a tube
running up
to a bottle.
you hear beeping
machines
everywhere.
there is a doctor
at the end of
the bed staring at
a chart,
shaking his head.
someone hands
you a glass
of water.
you lean up to take
a sip.
it's not
tap water,
is it you
say. staring
up with your
one good eye.
i don't do tap.

how you doing

you have a neighbor
who looks
like he used to break
legs for a living.
he drives an old
white caddy
with baby moon hub
caps.
what's left of his
hair is black,
and slicked like
a seal
straight back.
he waves to you
with his
thick gnarled
hand, fingers
like pipes
going in every
direction. his
wife does
all the shopping.
you see her come
and go in her
heels and tight
pants, chewing
gum. he's
a good neighbor
though. he doesn't
want to know
anything about you,
and you feel
likewise.

news to me

you stop
getting the paper.
looking
at the news
on tv.
you avoid
the updates
online.
you stay away
from small
talk at the coffee
shop.
you are news
free for a week.
and suddenly
things don't
seem so
bad.
it's a livable
world
after all.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

the big dog

the big dog,
brushed blonde,
floppy eared and soft.
heavy
and happy
with weepy brown
eyes,
a tail
not yet done
wagging despite
the years.
more love, more
affection.
more petting
she seems to plead.
throw the ball,
go ahead, i'll get
it for you.
it might take
awhile, but
be patient, i only
want to please
and know that
you love me.

this side up

you feel
a little battered,
a little bruised.
set aside and banged
against,
misused and abused.
the crate of you
is loose and shaken.
you can hear
the broken
glass within.
they take you off
the belt, place
you in the truck,
then without any
ceremony ring the bell,
toss you
onto the front
porch, not caring
who's home, or
whose package you
are. not a soul even
has to sign
for you. you are
on your own.

take two everyday

you try to read
the small print
on the label stuck
to the back of the
bottle, but
you can't. it's
too small.
you can make out
words like death,
coma
and blindness,
kidney damage and
loss of libido.
squinting,
you hold the brown
bottle up
to the light, but
that does no good.
you see a few more
words like if bleeding
occurs, or vomitting,
or shaking,
call a physician.
on the front though.
the words are clear
and in large
bold print.
you could even
read them from across
the room if you
had to.
take two, everyday.

the masseuse

she weighed
almost nothing.
which you liked.
because then she
could walk across
your back,
stretching
the muscles,
making the bones
along the spine
sing, and crack.
she was like
a bird without
wings with wide
arched feet.
slowly she moved
along your sore
and tired muscles.
it wasn't like
making love, but
it was close.
very close.

another town

when you ride into town
looking for a clean
room to lie down in.
a square meal and a drink,
a stable to feed and
water your horse, everyone
stops to take a long
look at you.
they don't like strangers
around here.
they don't need
new friends, or new
enemies for that matter.
you see the brooms
stop sweeping, the barber
stop snipping hair.
you see the sherrif
putting bullets
into his gun and spinning
the chamber. even
the dogs, mad as they
are, stop barking
to size you up. but you
don't care. it's been
that kind of year.
and as the mayor looks
out the window from
the brothel, you tip
your hat and smile.
each town is the same.
one nights sleep is
all you need and you'll
be out of there.

your valentine girl

as a kid
you always wanted
a valentine
from glenda,
the big
haired
blonde who
blocked your
view
with her broad
shoulders
and nordic
skin.
she wore
pig tails
and plaid skirts,
had legs
like an olympic
skier
and eyes as blue
as sapphires.
just one valentine
from her would
have changed
your life,
put the wheels
in motion
for all good
things to have
come your way.
but no.
sylvia, with her
whooping cough,
behind you,
was your
love and valentine
of the day.

self employed

being self-employed
you sit down
and have a talk
with yourself,
the boss in you.
you are unhappy
with the hours,
the conditions,
the short lunch
breaks. you could
use a raise in pay.
but there is silence
on the other end.
we are doing the best
we can, your
boss tells you.
be thankful for
what you have. now
get back to work,
the clock is ticking.

unplanned for

as brothers
do, and sisters,
together in
conversation,
about the
state of health
of parents
in their eighties,
the talk
of death comes
up like
an unwanted weed
in the garden
that was their
life.
it can't be
planned for
like a wedding,
or birthday
gathering, but
somehow it's
on the mental
list of things
yet to do.
and even then,
do what?

speed of light

there is
the speed
of light,
but darkness
seems even
faster
when things
don't go
just right.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

splinter

a splinter
wedged
tightly
between
the skin
on the bottom
of your
foot changes
everything.
at least for
now, until
the tweezers,
the antiseptic
and cotton
are found.

in the garden of eden

we were singing
songs
in the smoked
filled car
taking a road
trip to nowhere,
looking for girls,
searching for a sub
sandwich to
eat. we were young
and red eyed
from inhaling
an illegal
substance.
old beatle songs,
the eagles.
only songs by groups
named after
bugs, or animals,
was the rule,
no matter how
badly
they were spelled.
the byrds, the turtles,
three dog night,
although
we unanimously
hated them,
so we moved on
to the monkees,
which took an
hour of singing.
iron butterfly's
inna godda da vida
was endless as someone
beat out the drum
on the dashboard,
by the time we
got to cat stevens
we were delirious
and starving.
so we stopped
and ate.
on the way home
we stared out
the window
and said nothing,
smiling blissfully
into the starlit night.

think positive

if you think
positive,
your friend shelly
tells you,
as she clips
her toe nails
on the end
of the bed.
everything
will be fine.
so stop griping
about having
no work
and think having
lots of work.
you'll see.
the world brings
abundance
to you
when you focus
on that.
it's a vibration
thing. i saw it
on an infomercial
on pbs the other
day. the tall
bald guy was
talking about it.
by the way,
could you stop
tossing
and turning,
it's shaking
the bed.
i almost
cut my toe off.

candyland

she loves board
games and can sit
with a bowl of popcorn,
or chips,
a pitcher of
margaritas
and play all night.
the game
of life,
candyland, risk,
and scrabble.
she knows all
the rules and the
ones you don't know
she makes up or
bends to her favor.
her eyes light up
with the spin
of the wheel,
the roll of the dice.
you can't beat
her, she knows
every q word by heart,
and when she wins,
crossing
that final
home square of
monopoly, owning
every piece of
property, from
baltic to park
place, she's happy,
throwing her hands
triumphantly into
the air,
and when she's happy.
well. the world
is a good place
to be in.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

lost button

a lost
button finds
its way
loose
and spins
off onto
the floor.
a breeze
blows warmly
like a kiss
against your
skin.
it seems
as if an
even trade
has occured.

ice skating

mittened and in
love
they adored one
another, holding
hands
as they glided
across the ice
on rented skates.
the moon, full
and pink
with hope
above them.
how she loved
the wind
in her face,
her hair, the breath
of fresh
new love
filling her
lungs. how she
wanted
to skate and skate
her life
away with him
on this frozen pond,
but she knew
deep within,
that the seasons
would make life
and love unfair.

snake dinner

it tastes
like chicken
she says,
eating
a plate
of rattlesnake
with small
potatoes
and asparagus.
pass me the mint
jelly. thanks.
a little
gamey perhaps,
but not bad.
not bad at all.
i think i'll
have me another
helping.
suddenly
she sticks
her split tongue
out, and hisses.
baring
what appears
to be needle sharp
fangs. her
eyes get beady
as her neck
stretches
ready to
strike.
quickly you
get the rake.

whiskey bottles

your mother
knitted
poodles
for your father's
empty
candian club
bottles,
slipping them
over from
the top down,
pink and blue.
bright green
and purple.
they would line
the top shelf
of the metal
cabinets in
the kitchen.
stiffened dogs
in a row,
quiet with numb
stitched
mouths,
button eyes,
and ears
that flopped
hearing nothing.
the scent of whiskey
and fear
still in the air
despite
the gaeity of
it all.

the vase

she sees
the ancient
italian vase
in the air
as she tugs
at the far
corner of the red
hall carpet,
pulling straight
a wrinkle,
but there is
nothing she
can do.
and in the slight
span of time
that the vase
jumps
and tumbles to
break onto the
floor she relives
a love
so long ago,
with her in
venice.
that too
broken beyond
repair.

a part of this

a shallow bowl
of rain
water catches
the sky
and world
in a circle.
you lean
towards it and
see your
reflection.
somehow despite
how you feel
so often,
you must be
a part of this.

misty the therapist

you go to your first appointment
with your new therapist
misty. you are her very first
patient. she is hanging her
certificates on the wall
when you first arrive and taking
the plastic off the couch
where she asks you to sit.
she needs help with centering
the picture of dr. phil
on a white horse, so you help
her. she stands back as you
move it down a little on
one side. perfect, she says.
thank you. now what can i help
you with today. i'm just getting
organized here. i'm
a massage therapist too, and i
have a client coming in
right after we're done,
so we need to talk fast.
she moves around the room
lighting candles and incense.
so, she says, what is it,
your mother? let's start there.
oh, can you help me with this
massage table, it's so heavy.
did she not love you when you
were a child. oh, thanks,
those table legs stick sometimes,
you have to really yank
on them. there we go. great.
now let's talk about that mean
old witch mother of yours,
shall we? don't even get me
started on mine, you see
that scar right there,
she says, pointing at
the outside of her leg.
she burned me with a hot
iron, i'm not kidding.
so, okay, your turn.
i'm listening.

white swan at solomon

a white swan
swims into view
like a feathered
wedding cake
hardly ruffling
the waters
of the cold lake.
she shines like
a bright light
against the grey
of winter. alone
she moves
with gentle turns.
the small ducks
and gulls are
seemingly amazed
and stunned
as you are by
her presence,
keeping their
distance, not
wanting beauty
to flee.

don't sit under the apple tree

bored
out of your mind.
you take up
archery.
you buy a
bow and arrow
set
and a target
that you
place in your backyard.
but your
yard
is only thirty
feet long,
so it's an
easy shot.
you hit the red
bullseye
nearly everytime.
you need more of
a challenge.
you hear your neighbor
mildred in her backyard,
sweeping pine needles
and singing an
andrew sister's song.
when she looks over
and says, oh my.
what are you doing
young man?
you tell her
to get a couple
of apples
and come on over.
you make her
stand with an
apple on her
head and one in
each hand at the back
fence, as far away
as possible.
she's trembling,
but smiling too
in that sweet way
that she does.
aiming as best you can
you shoot your
first arrow at
the apple on her head,
sadly, you miss.
when you arrive in
your cell at the prison
after a speedy trial
you look out the mesh
wire window
looking out over
the prison yard.
not much is going on,
you are bored, again.

sasha

you develop
a fever
for sasha.
a cat like woman
with black hair
and green eyes.
she writes to you from
the ukraine.
she sends you a picture
of her standing
in a wheat field
wearing a bikini
and work boots,
holding a rake.
a long piece of straw
dangles from
her pouty lips.
she's in love with
you and you
are in love with her.
she's seen your
photos on an
international
dating site
and wants to come
and be your wife.
your e mail exchanges
have been
confectionary
and fun.
the whole village
where she lives
is excited for
her. they are having
a farewell parade
before she
travels to finally meet
you and live
forever in marital
bliss. she promises
to learn english
better. more better,
she says on
the phone, bubbling
with laughter.
i am at the airport
now, she says, in moscow,
but there is one small
problem. i've been
robbed and i need
airfare now. if you
could be so kind
as to wire me some
money, 3,597.00
us dollars should
cover everything.
here is my bank account
number. i love love
love you and will
see you soon my sweet man.

Monday, February 4, 2013

cookie salesman

your friend tells
you a story
of the time
he was in new
york city on a business
trip. he was
a salesman
for cookies
and airline snacks.
angry at his wife
again,
for her spending
and lack of affection,
meaning sex,
he felt lonely
and beat,
he struck up a
conversation
with a woman at the bar.
young and lovely, a
farm girl from iowa.
lipsticked,
and heeled.
she drank, he
drank, they moved in
closer to one another
along the rail,
talking kids
and family, work
and the world.
how hard it was to find
love, real love.
by midnight, she
said i'm going up,
but handed him a
note, her room
number and name
freshly inked.
she left an imprint
of her kiss on the paper,
then left.
when he got to
his room he took
a quick shower, stepped
into clean
clothes, he put
on a dash of cologne,
brushed his teeth,
then called wife
to say goodnight.
trembling with
excitement he called
the woman's room.
she asked him first,
sweetly in a midwestern
whisper,
if he was a cop,
then gave him the prices
for what she
would perform.

reset the clocks

the clocks are all
wrong, by an hour
or so.
each blinking
frantically
asking to be reset
after the late night
storm.
you blink your eyes
in that same way
sometimes, when things
aren't exactly right.
when the shutters
have come loose
and bang against your
house.
you know the feeling
of losing power.
darkness and cold.
so you turn the clock
over,
pressing the button,
one finger on set
and the other
on hour.

blood suckers

you go down
to the lab
on king st.
to donate blood.
take as much as
you can, you tell
them, unrolling
your sleeves,
i could use the
money.
i'm down
to drinking instant
coffee
and defrosting
things
from my freezer.
yesterday i even
ate some hummus
that someone left
over the holidays.
so go ahead,
take a gallon,
you tell them,
but hold my hand.
and i want a cookie
afterwards. not oatmeal.
some juice too.
i hate needles,
but i really need
a cup of strong
coffee, so find
the needle nurse
and drain me dry.

cold milk

as you turn
the carton of skim
towards your
cereal in the morning,
you remember
when you were a child
and could not get
enough milk, pouring
it into a cup
from the cold
glass bottle that
was left on your
front porch. how
thick and white
it was. heavy
going down, filling
you, quenching
that thirst. but
now, it's thin,
translucent. hardly
milk at all. making
perhaps the heart
and arteries happy,
but certainly not
your soul, or you.

the fire

with the fire
gone out, you
stir the embers,
seeing the black
wisp of
grey ashes rise.
you find
the room too cold
when she
leaves, too hot
when she stays.
you turn up the
thermostat.
twist it
a little higher.
you are walking
around in
wool socks,
a sweater
and a coat.
you've even
put a hat on
as you search
for gloves
and a long scarf.
come back soon
you phone her.
you are
the kindling
to my fire.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

winter moon

the moon
so white
it's almost blue
coming into
the shadeless
room
where she sleeps
beside
you, her black
hair
on the white
pillow.
quiet in her
dreams.
you want to wake
her, to tell
her about
the moon,
pristine between
the leafless
trees, but
you don't, not
knowing if where
she is,
is just
as sweet.

maybe he'll call

she sits by
the window
with a cat
in her lap
and waits patiently
for him to call,
not sure
at this stage
if it's brewing
love, or lust,
or like,
or nothing at
all. he may come.
he may arrive
when she puts
her night clothes
on. he may
knock on
the door as
she climbs
into bed wondering
if something's
right or something's
wrong.
it's late, but
he still may
call.

snow stew

you stir and stir
the stew
as it cooks slowly
on the front
burner.
you lift the lid
and lean
your head down
to smell the onions
and beef tips,
carrots and
potatoes.
you smile at
the mushrooms floating.
love, like stew
is best cooked slowly,
served hot
on a winters day,
such as
this snowy one
is with you.

his identity

his identity
was all about money.
cars, a home,
property
and clothes.
women were mere
objects, bought
and sold.
the more, the merrier
and secure he
was about his status
in the world.
cracking his cane
against the underlings
that served him.
so when the market
crashed and he
banged his
hands and head
against the wall,
being greedy
by putting all of
it on the table,
he shrunk into
the mean and poor
soul that he was
before it, not
unsavable, but as
close to richard
corey as one gets
without the gun.

lost and found

you leave
a pair of black
leather gloves,
newly purchased,
in a men's room.
getting to
your car you
remember where
you left them,
so go back in,
hurriedly.
they fit so
nicely and had
the felt tips so
that you could
touch your phone
and dial a
number. you
had bonded
with those gloves,
the price
not yet paid,
through
the mail, so it
hurts a little
when you return
and see that they
are no longer
there. but they
are easily replaced,
and somehow
perhaps you have
given a gift
to someone with
cold hands
or perhaps a cold
heart for
not leaving them
at the customer
service desk, as
you surely would
have, being
the catholic boy
that you are.

sunday e mail

she sends you
an e mail, asking if
are you married yet.
have you tied the knot,
and i don't mean
around your neck.
are you madly
in love, or just
still mad?
are you still unable
to talk about
your feelings,
blocking out those
around you, only
showing love, when
you get love. well,
tell me, i'd love
to know the status
of your situation.
i have an opening,
next week, some free
time on my hand.
perhaps we could get
together and have
dinner, catch up.
what do you think?
love mom.

beware

beware of those
that whistle
happily.
the soldier
going to war,
the cop
on his beat,
the barber with
a straight razor
in his hand,
the dentist
with a drill
approaching
the chair.
beware of the
happy go lucky
souls, who
skip down
the street
whistling.
the doctor
holding your
x-rays to the light.
the minister
walking through
the graveyard.
they don't want
you to know
what they know.

stranger in town

when you travel
and stop for coffee
in a strange town,
you feel
out of place, and
you almost think
that everyone
knows that you
aren't from there.
they can smell
the out of towner
on you. the way
you carry yourself
and look around.
you think differently
than they do,
say things
in a different
tone of voice.
you ellict stares.
and can almost here
them murmurring,
hands on their guns,
hey, there's a
stranger over there.

big game

you've loosened
your belt
for the big
game.
you've doctored
a hundred
chicken wings
with texas
pete hot sauce
and loaded
a dozen sliced
deep fried
poatoes with
cheese and bacon.
you've baked enough
brownies to fill
a bapist
preacher
on his pot luck
rounds.
you pour a bag
of fritos
into the big
bowl. pop a beer.
put on your sweat
pants
and lucky gold
underwear.
in three hours,
they'll stop talking
and the game
will begin, if
you don't fall
asleep first.

a place for everyone

few of us
await death with
such anticipation
as do
the vultures
on limbs
and wires
staring
towards the cold
ground,
patient
for the demise
of others.
ambivalent
in their bundled
black
feathers
and blood
red beaks.
strange how
the world finds
a place
for everyone,
and thing, then
lets it go.