Friday, May 31, 2013

a cherry snow cone

your friend jasmine,
holding bags
of new clothes
and hats, shoes,
informs you
of her summer plans.
first venice
she says,
then rome, maybe
a stop in
Brussels.
perhaps a day trip
to paris before
going
back to Italy
to stay in a little
cottage
and eat
the local fare
of Tuscany.
before I leave
though, I thought
i'd go to Greece
and buy
some jewelry
in santorini.
and you
she says.
what are your plans
this summer.
I need new flip
flops for the beach,
you tell her,
and a new
towel, something nice
and fluffy,
wave,
if you see me
from across
the atlantic, I
might have a snow
cone in my hand too.
cherry.

out of ink

out of ink.
again.
and again.
what is up with
these ink
cartridges
ten pages
and the low sign
is blinking.
you've
bought enough
ink
to float a boat,
to have purchased
a new
printer and
a room full of
pens
and paper.
now there's a
thought.

boiling it down

you try to boil
everything
down
to what
it really is.
you let the water
bubble
with heat.
rise over
the lip of the pot.
the flame
is high.
you drop
the carcass in
and let
the meat slide
off the bones
as they
get soft
and fall away
from one
another. you
add some salt
and pepper to taste,
but that's all.
the essence
of what it is
and was
is all that's
left after
an hour goes
by. the pure
broth of who
we are.
i'm not suggesting
boiling
me or you, but
just a chicken
or a spent turkey
for now.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

remove all items from the belt

you move
your gala apples
to the belt
after
the scale
weighs them
and then
a women
politely
in that disembodied
voice
tells you
to do so.
but the asparagus
won't
go. please
wait for help
the voice says,
remove all items
from the belt.
the light
blinks, the line
backs up.
people are
cursing in several
languages.
you want to tell
them that it's
not your fault
that it wasn't
your idea to
buy asparagus in
the first place. you
don't even like
asparagus,
but to no avail.
as you wait for help,
you begin to sweat
you look at what
else in in your cart
that could be trouble.
are those seedless
grapes, or globes
with seeds.
are they organic
bananas or
your run of the mill
antibiotic
injected ones?
what about that lettuce,
romaine?

summer days

in the summer
as you came home from
work,
covered in debris
and dirt,
paint and dust,
your son would be
waiting on the steps
for you to arrive.
a glove in
his hand, a ball,
a bat, and your
glove too.
and off you'd go
to the field
you called the pit,
because it
was always swampy
and filled with
rocks
and shrubs, dogs
running free.
you can still
see the motion of
his long skinny arms
swinging
the bat, tossing
the ball, the smack
of it hard
into your glove.
how blue the sky
was then,
how endless and
joyful those summer
days.

did you hear about

you are hearing
too often
the phrase, remember
so and so,
well, he's dead
now.
cancer, heart
attack,
stroke. that girl
you dated
in high school,
what's her
name, well, she
drove her car off
a bridge.
they never found
her.
just once, you'd
like to hear
someone tell you,
remember
jimmy, who sat
behind you in
algebra one,
always cheating off
your test,
well, he's a
billionaire now
and he's looking
for you to
give you some
money. here's his
number.

hope

as a child
hope
was a roasted
chicken
in the middle
of the table,
a mixing
bowl of
potatoes
and a stack
of white
bread
on a plate,
a stick of
hard yellow
butter
beside it.
seven
children
waiting for
your mother
to sit down
to say grace.
hope came easy
then.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

i love those shoes

if i find
a man
she says
to her friend,
a man that loves
me for who i
am, then
my life
will be complete.
i will
have happiness
at last.
and the woman
listening to her
replies,
if i can only get
free from
the one i have,
then i will
be happy too,
free and content
to live
as i want to live
with no
compromise.
this ends
the conversation
about that,
and they turn
the talk to shoes.

the war is over

an old
man
pulls at your
sleeve
as you stand
in line for coffee,
you turn
around to see
that he is old,
but smiling,
with brilliant
blue eyes
that almost
frighten
you.
yes, you say.
what? did you
hear, he says,
no, you reply,
what, did i
hear what?
the war is over
he says.
it's over,
the boys are coming
home. the war
is over.
this makes
you smile and
buy him
his coffee to
celebrate
the news.

the hot sign is on

you
marry her
for her
hot cinammon
donuts.
that's not
the only reason.
but it's one,
an important
one.
a woman that
knows her
way
around the kitchen
knows the other
rooms
as well, not
always
of course, but
quite often
you have
found that to
be true,
as you perused
the attic,
the cellar,
and the porch
with a glass
of milk
and donut in
hand.

the world is smaller now

the world
is smaller now.
smaller
than it was
just yesterday,
even
an hour ago.
you squeeze
between
the people
as they shuffle
from job
to home, doing
what they
can to get by.
they need to stand
where you
are standing.
people live
above
you, below
you. the babies
keep coming.
the world
is smaller,
even now as
you put a period
at the end
of this sentence
another soul
is born.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

celestial objects

space
does not interest
you
like a woman's
leg
does.
or the curve
of her
hip,
the shape
of her breasts,
the parting
of her lips.
nothing out
there
has any significance
compared
to a woman
that you
adore,
and have fallen
like a star
for.

the painter next door

van gogh
moves in next
door to you
one day.
he's very moody,
his ear is
bandaged and
there is dried
blood
on his cheek.
you say hello,
but he ignores
you.
you see him
carrying in
his paints
and brushes
into the house,
easels, worn
and splattered,
the small
wooden chair
he sits on
when he paints.
as he carries
in his cat
he stops to take
notice
of your yard,
shaking his
head with dismay.
you try to break
the ice by saying
hey, i guess
i should grow
some lillies
or something,
which makes him
curse and touch
his wounded ear.
but you don't give
up and point
at your chin where
you cut your
chin shaving
this morning after
having a fight
with your girlfriend.
women, you say,
what are you gonna
do?
this makes him
spit and go inside,
slamming the door.

happy nails

as you sit
in the baby blue
massage chair,
with your bare
feet soaking in a
tumble of warm
pink water, you
listen
to the woman
speaking in a strange
language
to others who
are working too.
you watch as she
pulls on her
mask
and takes your
foot into her
hand pressing it
against
the foot rest on
a white towel.
methodically she cuts
and sands,
rubs and pulls
at your toes
and feet.
now the other
she says in English,
and you obey
like a small
child, happy
to be cared for.

the ten year itch

she has an
itch
to move on,
scratching
at the tingle
of a new
road,
a clean slate,
a different
lover
to sleep in
her bed.
but how to let
go of
the one that's
there,
is hard.
saying or not
saying,
makes no
difference,
he knows
and can't figure
it out
either.

small boats

it is
a postcard
view
from the porch
of
a restaurant
along
the inlet
where you
sit and wait
for food
to arrive.
and the calm
roll of
violet waves
and blue
catching
just a wand
of pink
from a sun quite
gone
is enough
to still your
thoughts
of other things,
matters
that seem
less important
with each
small boat
that sails by.

Monday, May 27, 2013

children

how silent
the room is without
children
or men
and women who
still are.
they want
to be heard, to
be known
and taken
care of promptly.
with loud
unearthly voices
they neither
sing nor
whisper what
they need,
instead
they howl until
it comes.
until they are
pleased.

on blue wings

you observe
and listen
the blue
winged fly
buzzing hard
against
the screen,
wanting
badly
to get
outside
the trap that
he has
put himself
into. so you
lift
the window
up
and off he
goes. a part
of you,
flying with him.

pain

pain by injury,
the twist
or turn
of a leg
or back
or knee,
the deep bruise
or nerve pinch
delivers you
into a
different
world. one
you aren't
too familiar
with, it's dark
and cold.
you've been
there before
but in short
reluctant stints.
this visit is
different though,
it's longer.
it's the mother
and law
of all visits.
you can only
lock the door,
find a soft
warm spot to lie
in and lick
your wounds
without a sound.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

no words

at a loss
for words
you sigh,
you gasp, you
clear your
throat
and swallow.
what can be
said
to a loved
one dying
that isn't already
known
and true
within both
of you.
only the touch
of your
hand on his,
the gaze
of life
and love,
of memory
into
one another's
eyes. it's
enough.
it's all that's
needed
to be said.

fizz

there are souls
who have
demeanors
not unlike
a clear cool
glass of water.
unrippled
and still
almost always
calm
and reasonable,
but she was
a gin fizz
shaken, bubbly
to the point
of bursting.
the bubbles
rising over
the edge
with a furious
crackle
and pop. which
was fun for
awhile,
but a very
short while.

the post modern cubist

the waiter
unfamiliar with
Picasso's penchant
for paying for
meals by sketching
little pictures
onto napkins
said, and what's
this, a bull
with a woman's head
and a bird
with the eyes
of a child.
where's your money?
and this other
napkin, ice cubes
with legs?
a woman's breast
on a chicken.
cash only, buster.
my little sister
can make these
drawings, now let's
see some dough.

all shoes half price

you go in
to see your therapist
about this problem
you are having
with buying
too many clothes.
especially socks
and shoes. expensive
fancy shoes.
but she's crying.
what's wrong you ask
her as you lie
down
on the leather
couch after
fixing yourself a
cup of hot tea
with lemon. why
are you crying, what's
up. I've never seen
you like this before.
her face is streaked with
make up, her eyes
red and swollen.
what happened you
say, finding some
sugar cookies
on the coffee table,
nibbling on one,
catching the crumbs
in your hand.
there was a sale on
yesterday, at Nordstrom's.
shoes were half price.
every shoe in the store
was half off
and I missed it.
I missed it, she says,
weeping.
what? you say, spitting
out a mouthful
of tea. are you kidding
me, half price?
then you too begin
to cry.

Friday, May 24, 2013

buying local

your milk
is from local
cows,
squeezed out
fresh
just this morning.
so is your
goat cheese
from
neighborhood
goats.
that lettuce
was grown
by the woman
up
the street
who also churns
butter
and provides
the community
with local jams
and jellies
straight from
her garden.
the bread is
from
the local bakery.
that fish,
is right out of
the stream that
runs through
the woods
behind the hen
house where
you get your
local eggs.
you are a very local
person,
except for
the vodka. sweden
seems to take
care of that
just fine.

what you know

you don't measure,
instead
you pour
and spoon
to taste.
a sprinkle here,
a dash there.
you are at that
point in
your life
where the dishes
that you like
are the ones
you know.
your hands
move
from bowl to
bowl, pot
to pan, fork
to mouth.
you know what you
like and
stick with it,
doing differently
has always
led to trouble.
take sheila
for example.

old men in the park

old men
don't care
that they are old.
they disregard
the limp,
the thin wash
of silver
hair upon
their heads,
sitting
in the park
they still believe
that the pretty
girls
in their summer
dresses
are still a shot
away
from knowing
their charms,
seeing the smile
on their handsome
face. always,
always,
there seems
to be chance, a ray
of hope
to win the girl.
it's what men do
from grade one,
until it's done.

the ride

what a thrill
it was
to be pinned
back
into your seat,
as the rumbling
car
of the roller
coaster
sent you
high, then low,
curling around
the steel
track.
holding on,
white knuckled,
in a scream
of fear and joy.
death never
crossing your
mind, as it
often does now.
your heart raced
as the clang
of chain
and wheels pulled
the car
slowly, slowly
up to a peak,
then falling,
dropping down
like a stone.
let's do it again,
you'd say
to your friends,
the second it
slowed to a stop.
let's ride it
all day. but no
more.

steer clear

you see
the boat being
pushed
by the wind.
the wind is grey
and white
with water
and sky.
shoving the hull
against
the rocks.
the crew long
gone and rowing
to shore.
it will take some
time, but
soon,
the boat will
succumb
and sink into
the cold blue.
you take
note, and vow
to navigate your
days
and nights
in a better way.

in time

you realize
at a certain age
how little
you know. despite
the books
you've consumed,
the classes
you've taken,
the degrees upon
your walls.
on a pin head
is gathered
your knowledge
of this world
and the next.
but strangely, it
is enough
to keep you
going, to keep you
hungry for more
and for that
you are grateful,
knowing
that later, all
of it will be
known.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

tribute band

you go to see
a beatles
tribute band.
they look like
john paul George
and ringo, with
their hair
and all of their
mannerisms.
each song is
a virtual duplicate
of all those songs
you heard as
a kid. you know
every word
by heart.
and it doesn't
bother you
when the wig
on paul slips off
in the middle
of yeah yeah yeah.
he picks it
up at the end
of the song
and casually slips
it back onto
his bald head
then says in his
faux british accent,
I hope no one saw
that, laughing.
where the hell
did the time go
you think, flagging
down a waitress to
order
another stiff
drink.

waiting not listening

but there's more
to the story
you tell her, as
she tries to begin
her story.
you place your hand
on her hand
to stop her lips
from moving,
oh, she says, I
thought you were
finished, no, you
say, you always
start talking before
I finish, it's what
you do. you don't
listen, you wait,
and you are not
very patient when
others are talking.
oh my, she says,
leaning back,
and making her eyes
wide and big.
she puts her hand
over her mouth
and says, do I do
that, really,
because there was
this one time
when I was taking
to someone and...
see, you tell her,
you're doing it
again. you can't help
yourself. you really
don't care what
my story is, do you?
i'm leaving, she
says. you're right.
I don't care. in
fact, your stories
are boring, unless
it involves me. let's
not talk for awhile,
she says, gathering
her things to leave.
what, you say.
I didn't hear you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

promoting licorice

you get a phone call
to tell you that you've
been named the poet
laureate of
the nation.
you say thanks. but
what happened to
the other guy? he
had his turn and now
it's yours.
that's wonderful,
you say, as you make
a peanut butter
sandwich while standing
in the kitchen.
do I get a check, or
something. I could
use a little
dough right about
now.
yes, she says, you'll
get a small check.
great, you tell the nice
woman on the phone,
make it out to me
so that I can cash
it, okay? I've got
a few bar tabs that need
to be taken care of
before they cut me off.
sure she says politely.
but we want you to
come downtown
and accept your award
at the library of congress,
give a speech
and respond to questions.
do I have to wear a suit?
ummm, sure, dress nice.
you'll be asked to
travel the country
speaking on behalf
of poetry to children
and adults too.
you can read your poetry
on npr. sell some books.
poetry is our national
treasure and it's good
to have a spokesman
such as yourself.
i'm not good at speaking
in public you tell her,
blowing your nose
from all the pollen
that's fallen lately,
or at reading my poetry.
oh, you'll be fine.
but people hate poetry,
or they're ambivalent
about it, it will be
like promoting black
licorice. that's funny
she says, snorting into
the phone.
you'll do fine. okay, okay,
you tell her, but look,
I have to go, I was
in the middle of something.
i was writing a poem about
my dog who
just got into the trash
again. maybe i'll
read that poem for you.
oh and don't forget to make
the check out to me,
okay? or just bring cash.
either way is fine.
thanks again. gotta go.

snake girl

a little girl
in the neighborhood
runs around
wildly
through the yards
crossing
the street, yelling,
I found a snake,
I found
a snake.
you see it in her
hand, held
tightly
trying to unwind
itself from
the small fisted
grasp of the excited
girl.
it's green, the color
of spring leaves
and grass.
I don't think it's
poisonous she says,
it hasn't tried
to strike me.
she shows it to her
mother, who is
sitting on the porch
smoking,
rubbing her leg.
she looks at it and
says, it's not a
copperhead dear, like
the one that bit me
last week.
you can keep it
if you want.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

the night out

she pulls
the one flap
of your collar
down
then brushes
lint and
crumbs from
the front
and back of
your shirt.
tuck it in she
says, you're
not nineteen,
and those
shoes, put
some polish
on them, and
change your
belt, black
would be better
with those
pants. did
you brush your
teeth?
oh and honey,
maybe do a little
quick nip
with the scissors
around those
ears and nose.
do you have
the tickets?
i'll be in
the car waiting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

second place

does every horse
have to win
the race,
will his life
be diminished
without
the prize,
the garland
of roses draped
around his neck.
does he
have to cross
the finish line
first
in order to get
oats, and a warm
bath,
a brushing down,
or love?
is it enough
to have run,
and tried, to have
joy
in the gallop,
in the moment, in
the sweet
beauty of each
one's unique
and beautiful
stride.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

the good of all

the nail
plots not against
you,
but the world
of wood,
resisting
where it needs
to go.
bending at
the near miss,
slpping from hand,
the head
needs a heavy
hammer
at times, to
keep it straight
and true,
driven
to where it
needs go, for
the good of all,
for the good
of you.

be still

bewildered
birds
caught
in the wind.
steering
wildly
unhinged under
tumbled
clouds
of grey
and coal
charred scars,
what world
is this
that holds
them against
their
will
and nature,
won't let them
be what
they were
meant to be.
fair warning
to all, when storms
arise.
be still.

that new car smell

you buy
a new car
and swear to never
eat a scone
in it,
letting the crumbly
pieces of
pastry
tumble onto
the seats
and floor. no
coffee either.
no hot dogs,
with mustard
dripping,
relish
finding its
sneaky way
onto the console.
the last car
looked like
the floor
of a food
court in
springfield mall
at the end
of a Saturday
before Christmas.
we'll see.

what kind of tree is that

someone asks you
what kind
of tree
that is in
your back yard.
shady, and thick,
healthy with
green, and you
say hmmm, not
knowing, but
start throwing
out all the names
of trees
that you do
know. birch,
a maple perhaps,
oak, or
pine, but you
know it's none
of those,
it's a different
kind of tree,
no, not even
a weeping willow,
you say, perplexed,
taking out
your phone camera,
murmuring hold on,
let me google
it.

the ice cream truck

as a kid
you had no patience
for stamp
collecting,
or in collecting
coins
and slipping them
into
the appropriate
slots of a fold up
blue book.
that ambitious
hobby
lasted a month
or two,
nickels and dimes,
quarters,
even half
dollars with
Kennedy's profile
shiny
on the front
with his
hair combed as you
tried to do,
but then the ice
cream truck would
roll slowly
through the neighborhood,
the music,
a sweet siren,
its tinny,
xylophone ping
echoing around
the hot summer streets,
how quickly
you would spend
the mercury dimes,
the buffalo
nickels, the john
kennedy half dollar,
stately
in his slot,
all for the sake of
a nutty buddy.

dessert

something
sweet would be
nice.
a little tart,
a little
different,
upon the lips
and tongue,
you tell her.
something pretty
in the dish,
lovely on
the spoon.
a dessert
that leaves
you smiling,
satisfied
and not caring
about the calorie
count.
who cares about
such things,
so she kisses
you and says, how's
that for
starters.

at the same place

how the stream
rises
under heavy rains
with muscular
arms
over the banks
taking with it
the weak
trunks of old
trees,
the loose
rocks and debris.
sweeping its
power wide
and hard, telling
you something.
perhaps that
all things
will eventually
meet at
the same place.

lazy slumber

you awaken
early
then doze
back to sleep
to sound of birds
and rain,
the chatter
of each
upon branches
fresh with new
leaves. doors
open and close
as the neighbors
that go to church
go religiously
each sunday,
you hear the clicking
of their church
shoes
along the sidewalk,
quiet
in their hurry
to get to mass,
while you, peeking
through the blind
will keep yours here,
between the sheets,
in a lazy
grateful slumber.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

at any age

at forty, she used
to say, women become
invisible.
the men look past
me and my
friends to the young
girls walking by
in their summer
dresses, hardly
paying us any mind.
not true,
you tell her.
not true at all.
women are never
invisible at any
age, perhaps more
vocal, but certainly
not invisible.

nellie

your grandmother
who smoked
three packs of lucky
strikes a day
and gargled with
bourbon when
she wasn't feeling
right stood
square at about
four foot eleven.
she carried her
shih Tzu under her
arm everywhere
she went. she said
things like
excuse my French
when describing a
cab that drove
like a bat out hell
from penn station.
she had a fox stole
with the head still
on, eyes beaded
black, and mouth
open to show
the needle sharp
teeth, still ready
to bite. she liked
to wear it for
special occasions,
like dinner out.
she told you and
your sisters to come
over to the television
when billy graham
was on, and kneel
by the screen putting
your hands onto
the black and white
curved glass.
do it she'd say,
repent of your sins
and accept Jesus
into you life, or all
of you are going
to burn in hell.
we were only seven and
couldn't imagine what
sins we'd have committed
at this point
in our lives to be
punished in such a
way. but we did as
we were told,
and sometimes a few
of us still do.

tossing the dice

there are puzzles,
then there
is life.
which is much
more confusing
and complex
than any board
game, or rubik's
cube you can
hold in your
hand. there is
more logic
and reason in
a roulette
wheel or a toss
of the dice,
than what happens
in the course
of day to day
living where
you don't play
to win, but just
to survive.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the idea

you come up with
a brilliant idea
in the middle
of the night.
an idea
so original
and clever that
there is no way
you could ever forget
such a thought, so
you don't turn
on the light and
write it down.
instead you fall
back to sleep,
and it's gone.

tea time

would you like
some tea,
she says, perhaps
some cookies
too. sugar
cookies, I
baked them
fresh this morning
just for you.
so what will
it be, earl
grey, or lipton
with a slice
of lemon,
perhaps some
ginseng, or
raspberry with
a hint of walnuts.
I have black
tea as well
she says holding
the box out
as proof.
and red tea,
and green tea...
and. stop. you say.
please stop,
you know that it's
just coffee
for me.
i'm sorry she
says. i'm all out.

perfectly imperfect

you cringed
when she
put ketchup
onto the hot
dog. mustard
on her potatoes.
dipped shrimp
into vinegar.
dancing
was not her
strong suit,
nor was getting
dressed,
a lime green hat
with an orange
vest
was normal fare.
the dogs howled
when she sang
with the windows
open,
but none of
that mattered,
when she made
love and
kissed you,
she was in her
element.
perfect in her
imperfections.

into the fog

where are all these
people you
used to know.
what roads have
they gone down
and not returned.
once so close,
within reach
by voice or mail,
or even touch,
but no more.
they've gone into
the fog that
thickens with each
passing year.

cutlery road

there are
forks in the road,
with confusing
directions on
which way to go,
and spoons
too. a knife
a spatual
and even a cheese
grater
sharp and gritty
against
your knuckles.
so much
cutlery to go
around,
the detours
are strange and
unknown, sharp
and bruising,
but you find a
way. you always
do.

not your day to die

things
change so quickly
one second
you are on a roof
on a ladder
and within
a blink or
two you
have pinwheeled
into the air,
the brilliant
blue eyed
sky and sun
above you,
a victim
of gravity
and carelessness.
you land flat
on your back.
and when you
stand to check
your extremities
for movement
and blood, or
broken bones,
and find none,
you can only
think that this
day was not
your day
to die.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

night fright


at ten you
were finally
convinced that
there were no
monsters
under the bed,
no ghosts
flying about,
or bloody ghouls
hiding
in the closet,
there were
no chained
lost souls
rattling in
the attic dragging
bones across
the floor boards,
but there was
your little brother,
grinding his
teeth in
the bed next
to you
and that was
scary enough.

hooray!

on a grey cold
day in may,
in pouring rain
you go to the party
store and buy
confetti, boxes of
it. it's on sale
because it's seven
months away from
new years eve.
but you never know
when unexpected
happiness may occur,
and you like to
be prepared. you
even have champagne
in a bucket of ice,
and noise makers
close at hand,
you have a glittered
hat, ready to
be put on,
that says hooray!
despite everything
and the rain you
are optimistic
about a change.

snap shot

the subtle
curve
of her
lying down
against
the afternoon
light
makes you stop
in the air
borne dust
of day
and say nothing.
holding
the moment of
her pale
figure
like a snap
shot
from an old
camera,
whirring
in your mind.

to always be right

what is it like
to be always right
and perfect,
to win every argument
and fight,
to be so sure
of your self
that every misstep
is a step
in the right direction.
what must it
be like to look into
the mirror and
see an image
that only you
perceive.
how strange it is
to have no friends,
because of this,
but being always
right, seems to
blanket that too.

your garden

you rake away
the fallen apples,
worm filled
and bitten
by black winged
birds, you
pull the intrusive
vines
and weeds away
from the garden
and house,
their tendrils
biting into
the red brick.
you cut the wild
branch down, keeping
it from
the roof and wires
where it may
fall when laden
with snow.
if only it was
so easy
with so called
friends and relatives
to rid them
from your otherwise
peaceful
garden.

the massage

with her small
hands, the masseuse
kneads
her tightly
balled fist into
the nape of
your neck.
you are stretched
out naked
expect for a white
terry cloth
towel across
your backside.
your muscles are
tight, she says,
in good English.
you are knotted up
right here, she
whispers, as if it's
a secret. she crawls
onto the table
with her tiny body
to pound out
the lump of
muscle and sinew
that she has
found. why so much,
tension, she
says, digging
deep into the area
of concern
with her thumb.
it's my mother,
you tell her. that
one there is my
mother, the other
knot on the other
side is my ex,
and at the top
of my neck
and shoulders
is work. I understand,
she says.
I used to have
those lumps too.
but no more. I get
a massage all the time
and takes it away.
good, you tell her,
groaning a little
as she jams an elbow into
your shoulders.
can I walk on your back,
she says. i am light.
I can get deeper
that way.
sure, you tell her,
why not. join
the club.

up side down

one day you
awaken
and the sky is
green.
the grass is
blue,
the sun is where
the moon
should be,
and the cats
are barking,
fish are flying
across
the wide
lagoon.
the world
is suddenly up
side down.
you're even
smiling.

over the wall

you often made
the comparison of prison
with a bad
marriage.
always planning an
escape as you
tossed in your bed
with her beside
you, one eye open.
but it wasn't that
bad, when it was
good. once it soured
though, there
was no barbed wire,
or guards, or
walls that you
couldn't get passed
to get to the other
side and freedom.
some people do well
in confinement,
but you weren't
one of them.

she, the jury

she liked to be
dramatic
tossing her long
red hair back
and say things like
it's curtains
for you buddy,
if you don't
straighten up
and fly right.
i'm drawing the line
in the sand
right here. she'd
say, pointing at
her flip flopped
feet, a cigarette
dangling from
her pouty
lips. don't
cross it again or
you'll be pushing
up daisies. of course,
this would make
you laugh
and shake your head.
she loved mickey
spillane and couldn't
put his books
down once she got
into them.

test of wills

my long departed
dog
moe
would find
a rock
in his wanderings
and bring
it home
to lick
then hide
in the corner
of the room.
i'd find
it at some point
and toss it
back out into
the yard,
of course,
annoyed at me,
he'd bring it
back in
an hour later
and search for
a more secretive
spot.
was it the rock,
its salty
flavor,
or was it a
test of wills,
i'm not
sure, but he
was strange
like that.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

a fresh start

you give the
f.b.i.
a call and ask them
if they can put
you into a witness
protection
program.
you've committed
no crime, have
been a stellar
citizen,
you even recycle
when you think of
it, but you are just
tired of being
who you are.
you want a new life,
a new name. you
want to move
to a new neighborhood
where no one
knows you. someplace
with a warmer
climate, perhaps.
just a fresh start.
but they say no.
you have to be
in danger of some
group or organization
like the mob,
they tell you, plus
you have to give us
reliable information
which leads to
the conviction
of these people.
what about
the woman who doesn't
pick up after her
dog, you tell them.
I can give you everything
on her. I hate her.
the whole neighbor
hood despises her.
she's such a gossip
too. I see her
looking into my
windows when she
passes by with that dog.
everyday it does
it's business in my yard
and she leaves it there
for me to step in.
i'll even take pictures,
you tell them, but
no, they say. not
good enough.

no musical skills

I am a pumice
stone,
I am
a peninsula
you sing
to yourself
in trying to write
a song
like I am
a Rock
by paul
simon. but
the words
don't ring
true, plus
your musical
abilities span
the instruments
of tapping
the dashboard
and whistling,
badly.
occasionally
you can find
the beat with
a wooden spoon
when you are
in the kitchen,
listening
to the radio,
but it's
more of an accident.

the dinner theater

it was a fine attempt
to stage the west side
story
at the strip mall dinner
theater
off route 236.
the music was loud,
the dancers and singers
were expressive
and enthusiastic
when they took to
the stage after serving
meals and drinks
to an audience of mostly
octogenarians
who had arrived on
buses from as far
away as new jersey.
the jets versus
the sharks. but there
was a little too much
swish in their hips,
sweetness in their
threats and limp in
their wrists as they
jabbed words and rubber
knives
at one another.
and you remember
during the tender moment
of the song
maria, as the lights
grew blue and soft
and the young actor
sang with his hands
clenched to his heart,
how an old man
in the audience
at his round table of
clinking glasses
and spoons
and coffee cups,
stood up and yelled,
I can't eat this meat,
look it's stringy,
dangling his grey
strip steak
and gristle out to his
waiter who was singing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

on the roof

the roof
is hot
under your shoes
as you
negotiate
the angle
and gritty surface
of the old
tiles.
on the ground
those two boards
could be painted
in five
minutes,
but this will
take an hour.
you slide a little
then steady
yourself,
using your weight,
leaning
towards the center.
holding a brush,
and a bucket
out like a wire
walker.
there is
nothing to hang
onto, but
air
and your faith
and up here,
surfing
this house
it doesn't seem
quite
enough sometimes.

how she takes a bath

when she takes
a bath
it's a cosmic
journey.
candles are lit,
the lights
are dimmed,
music is played.
a glass of
wine is poured
as the bubbles
rise
in the steamy
tub. a book
of poetry or two
are brought
in, a romantic
novel. clean towels
are fluffed
and folded
nearby. a pumice
stone, a razor
and a small
mirror sits
on the porcelain
edge. fragrant
soaps and lotions.
lemons
and limes abound.
vanilla too.
then the door
closes
and she's gone
for hours
at a time.

slightly off

only when
the pen
rolls
slowly off
the desk
do you notice
how slightly
crooked
the whole world
is, just
as you suspected
all along.

the mechanic

he loved cars.
the older
and more work
they needed
the better. a little
rust was good.
scratches and split
upholstery was
welcomed.
an engine
missing a beat,
a starter
the whirred
incessantly or
an axle out
of sync made
him smile. he swooned
over
the puzzle of
a sticky valve,
lifting the hood
with an oily
wrench in hand.
so when he married
again
for the third
time, a troubled
and broken down
woman, you could
see the pattern
of his life
more clearly.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

friend me, please

you log onto your
facebook
account, such as it
is, after months
of neglect.
the cobwebs
are everywhere,
dust balls
roll beneath
the old pictures
and lame postings
about some picnic
you were
forced to go to
last easter
and stand
for a group picture.
you've lost friends
as well.
they've given up
on you, whoever
they were.
a few relatives
too have disappeared
from your meager
friend count.
you haven't offically
hit the like
button for anything
for over a year,
and that
historic moment
was for jelly donuts,
which everyone
but your mother
ignored. she liked
it too, but
sympathetically.
you observe
some of your more active
friends. they seem
so happy, with so
many things to do,
events to attend.
they have a thousand
friends, many
of them close.
they are sharing laughs
and hugs,
cyber kisses and words
of encouragement.
some are holding up fish
that they caught,
others are eating pancakes
with big smiles
on their syrupy faces.
they show their cookies
that they baked
and their dogs
jumping for a Frisbee.
I feel sad when I
look at their profiles.
they are having
so much fun without me.
I rub my hands by the
screen and sigh, warming
myself with
their happiness.

at the end

things you won't
say
on your death bed:
I wish
I had worked longer
hours, weekends
too. i wish i
had watched
more t.v., read
more books like
the da vinci code
and james joyce.
I wish that I had
eaten more hummus
and carob. drank
more soy milk.
I wish
that i'd joined
the army
and fought in a
war or been a cop
on the beat giving
out wood shampoos.
I wished I had
seven children,
and three wives,
two being quite
enough. I wish i'd
seen the norh pole,
or been inside
a salt mine, or
lived with nine
other people in
an igloo.
I wish I had become
a used car
salesman, or a circus
clown or a greeter
in a store. I wish
I had been anyone else
but me.

done with luck

what good
is the lucky
rabbit's foot
to a rabbit.
not so much
luck
there despite
four
of them.
i'd rather not
count on
the randomness
of so called
luck
and just plow
ahead
hoping for
the best. don't
give me
some curly
cue bald head
to rub, or an
alladin's lamp
don't point
out a twinkling
star a trillion
miles from
here to wish
upon. those lucky
numbers,
that lucky unwashed
hat. go ahead
and throw it
on the bed. no
worries. i'm done
with luck.
there is no such
thing.

a blonde strand of hair

whose hair
is this she says
holding up
a long blonde strand
that she pulled
from the bathroom
sink. I have no
idea, you tell her.
could have
been there for
decades, maybe it's
yours. look at my
hair, she says,
waving the strand
in front of your
eyes. what color
is my hair. ummm,
black, you say,
sheepishly. with a few
white strands.
what, she says,
looking in
the mirror. I have
never had blonde hair.
never. now are
you going to tell
me what's going on,
or should I just
pack my bags,
put fluffy in the car
and leave?
okay, okay, you tell
her. I have a
confession, hold on
a second. i'll
be right back.
where are you going,
get back in here
and face the music.
hold on.
when you come back
into the bathroom
a few minutes later
you are wearing a
blonde wig, a dress
and heels. you
have a matching hand
bag under your
arm. oh my, she says.
I had no idea.
yeah, you tell her,
I've been meaning to
tell you, but couldn't
find the right moment.
well, she says
I guess that explains
the blonde hair.
by the way, where'd
you get those shoes.
I just love em. turn
around. nice.

you don't want to know

the news man
starts off his broadcast
talking about
a nine car accident
in the fog off route
fifty, but then shakes
his head as he
reads the copy and
looks up into the camera.
i'd continue, he says,
but you don't want to
know. seems there was
a spill too. oil truck,
and then a fire,
which caught to an
orphanage nearby,
and well, ummm, you
don't want to know.
how about some weather,
bill, when's this
sun ever going to come
out. you don't want
to know, the weatherman
says, as he stands
there with an umbrella
and slick yellow boots.
seems like forty days
and forty nights
might be in order.
start building an ark.
not to mention the flooding,
well, I should stop
right there. you
don't want to know.
let's go to the sports.
Jeannie, how'd all
our local teams do
today. oh, she says.
you don't want to know.

barbed wire

how come we never
go dancing anymore
she says, punching
you in the arm
while you peel
an orange
on the front
porch. we never
do anything fun
anymore. where's
this going, you
say to her.
you know I don't
dance since
my tractor
injury. let me
take my boot off
and show you how
mangled my foot
is. don't, she
says, looking
off into the distance
at a brown
cow. I've seen
your foot a thousand
times, but I think
that you could slow
dance if you wanted to.
maybe, you tell her,
maybe, holding
out a a wedge of orange.
let's go into town
tonight, she says,
get all dressed up
and go to that hoe
down. the Dixie
dudes are playing
tonight. I love them.
maybe you tell her,
maybe. first I have
to go get that cow.
looks like she might
have gotten herself
caught on some
barbed wire.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

you knew her when

she is a cat
with only one life
remaining, the other
eight being
spent foolishly
during her
younger years
of wild
abandon. but this
one life, in this
final life,
she has come
around. no longer
on the ledge
reaching
for that sparrow,
no longer
on the counter
searching for
spoiled milk
or fish. let
the mice run free.
she's a wise
cat now. fat
and serene
on the sill. but
oh, how you knew
her when.

To Yaw

an intransitive
verb meaning
to swerve off
course
temporarily, to
veer right
or left
with no
vertical axis,
adrift if you
must, under
your own power.
how well
you know this
word
as the years
tumble forward.

the speech

and let me say
this about that
the politician
says, as he stands
at the podium
wiping his vast
pink brow,
pounding his
fist. as I've
stated many times
before, I am
working in
the best interest
of my constituents
I will not
let them down
no matter how
many false
accusations are
made about me
and my private
business dealings.
what I do in my
private life is
between me and my
wife, and she has
forgiven me
time and time again
for my many discretions.
if re elected
after being acquitted
of all these
fabricated charges
I will once
again prove to them
how much I care
and love each
and every one
of them and with an
open heart graciously
accept their
generous prayers
and cash contributions.

the older brother

you were always
jealous of your older
brother. so smart
without studying,
so confident.
always with the straight
A's while you
struggled with
B's and C's.
so you began
to lift weights
to strengthen
your body until
finally the day
came when you put
him into a head lock
and said, where's
your quadratic
equations now, smart
boy?

styling

in 1976
you once owned
a pair
of purple pants
that flared
at the bottom.
you had a white
plastic
belt to hold
them up.
you tucked in
a blousy silver
shirt
with galleons
sailing
across all
sides and combed
your hair
into a massive
bulb
that fell below
your ears. it
was all befitting
the insanity of
the times, plus
the fact that
you were still
young and
finding yourself,
although hardly
an excuse.

the woodshed

your father
never took you
out to the proverbial
woodshed
to beat the sarcasm
and teasing nature
out of you, so it
still continues
to this day,
but you wonder
sometimes
how it would have
affected your
life, if he had
had the time
or inclination
to do so,
but you're glad
that he didn't,
strangely happy
that he was hardly
ever home,
out doing
what pleased him,
his children a
vague mystery.

the field

without hardly
a wink
a building
rises
on the gravel
laden lot
of
broken glass
and
fly balls,
bases made
of flattened
boxes,
a place where
in darkness
on july nights
sometimes
virginity
was lost. we
called it the
field, but it
wasn't really.
it was
nothing, a
barren stretch
of unshaded
pavement, with
weeds fighting
through the cracks,
but for a few
short
summers it was
everything,
a place to run,
to and invent your
life
before it began.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

how easy

how easy it
is to go
into the night,
between
the shadows,
moving
quickly past
others
without a word
of farewell,
for all the words
have been said,
stepping
fast
through moonlight,
the puddles of street
lamps,
past the fountains
that still sing,
how easy it is
to live
a life and have
it casually go
away, like a
candle, blown out,
or are we like
the stars, still
there, just
unseen.

upon a last breath

into the mouth
of trees
blackened by
shade
with the moon
settled
opaque
on the other
side
in the violent
blue sky.
we tumble
towards it,
arms and
legs, with
no thought
of what to hold
onto, or
feel. nothing
like this has
come before
us, or will
again. the
mystery of an
airless life
takes us whole.
leaves
nothing.

wedding bliss

the blushing
bride kissing
sweetly
the awkward
groom, both
so young
and shy,
how quickly
they become
what we've
become,
quiet in our
separate
rooms, passing
each other
in the hall
with hardly
a word between
us, but
i'm going out,
i'll see you
soon.

against your will

the tread
of your life
wears
quickly
over time.
on the hard
road,
the soft
path,
on the easy
mud
and dirt
of the detours
you've
taken.
but most of
the wear
is from
the highway
at great speeds
and
sharp turns,
dodging
disaster
at each bend.
wearing thin
your
very soul,
but rolling still,
somehow
until
it all decides
against your
will, to end.

the parking ticket

if god truly
loves us she says
while painting
her toe nails
a bright red,
than why
do so many people
die in such
horrible
painful ways.
why are there
earthquakes
swallowing up
cities, and volcanoes
and tsunamis,
not too mention
your tornados
and hurricanes
washing away
entire beach towns.
what's up with
that? she says.
yesterday I got
a parking ticket!
I don't know, you
tell her.
staring at her
little cherry toe
nails drying
in the sunlight.
maybe he's mad
at us for something?
hmm, she says.
could be. but what
did I do, I
didn't do anything
wrong, did I?

he loves me

you make a pros
and cons
balance sheet
for your dog,
trying to determine
if you should
get rid of
him and sell
him on e bay.
it's fairly even,
the barking
versus affection.
the chewing
of shoes
held up against
the playful
chasing of a ball.
fleas against
tail wagging.
begging versus
licking your face
when you come
home. it's pretty
even across
the board,
the likes against
the dislikes until
you find his list.
which isn't too
flattering about
you. stingy with
the table food,
short walks through
the park. that
constant yelling
to heel, the leash,
the collar,
leaving him at
home all day. it
goes on and on
until the end where
it says in a muddy
paw scrawl. he
loves me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

the clean shirt

as you iron
and starch
your shirt late
into the evening
you stare
down at your
name in red
thread, scrolled
and embroidered
across the pocket.
you remember
reading once
that if your name
was on a building
you were
considered rich,
and if it
was on your
desk you were
middle class,
but if your name
was on your shirt,
well, you were
deemed poor. so
be it. it's a clean
shirt.

in the future

in the future
you hear the man
say
in line, as you
wait for
your ladle
of soup
and crust of
bread,
we won't be
in this situation.
everyman
will be a king,
there will be
a chicken
in every pot.
the sun will
rise and set
equally on all
no matter the color
of their
skin, their
religion
or who their
parents were
or were not.
you'll see, he says,
taking
his tin cup
and holding it
out for coffee.
you'll see.

the fortune cookie

you have dinner
with your friend betty.
you order the crispy
shredded beef
and she has the shrimp
with hot peppers.
after pushing away
your plates and
wiping your mouths and
hands with hot
steamy towels
she unfolds
her fortune first.
she breaks open
the dry cookie
with a twist of
her fingers, nibbling
on the sweet shards
of the pale cookie.
what does it say,
you ask her,
while biting open
the plastic around
yours.
it says, she says
with wide eyes,
that I will find
the love of my life
soon, and that he will fit
my hand like a glove.
it will be a life long
love affair that
will be the envy
of others. she unravels
the fortune, which is
like a small scroll
falling down into
her lap.
there's more, she
says. this love will
be unlike any other.
poets will write
poems about it.
artists will try to
capture its beauty,
but won't come close.
musicians will write songs
and sing about this
love. wow, you say.
some fortune. what does
yours say, she says,
beaming. you snap
open your cookie and
look at the little sliver
of white paper. you squint
and read the small
print. it says,
be careful around shellfish.

unlovable

in cutting
the fruit
carefully into
slices
your mouth waters
and imagines
sweetness
and a cool
wetness upon
your tongue
and lips, so it
is with no
mild surprise
when it's luke
warm and bitter,
finding her
unlovable
down to the rind.

a good thing

the woman sweeps
all day.
starting in the back
room
working her way
towards
the front of the house,
pushing out
the cobwebs,
brushing
the dirt and dust
into a pan,
her arms move
from side
to side, lifting
her hand
to wipe her brow.
it helps her think,
this sweeping, to
remember things
about her life, how
fast it's gone,
how love has won
and broken her heart.
but there is no
end to this, this
sweeping, she thinks.
and that's a good
thing.

the bluebird

old love
needs no words.
sparing
words
perhaps even
brings
them closer.
the space
between does not
need
filling anymore.
what's been said
has
been said. a simple
touch
on the arm
in passing,
a light kiss
before sleep,
pointing out
the window
at a bluebird
on the feeder,
what else is needed
for old
love to keep?

more of the same

your shirt gets stuck
in the revolving
door, so you go around
and around
for hours and hours.
at first you're dizzy
and disoriented, but
as time goes by
you adjust to
the circular motion
of your new world.
you say hello to people
coming in, and as
they leave, you say
goodbye, asking them
what they bought.
it's strange what one
gets used to when
there is no way out.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

browsing

you get into a
conversation
at the appliance
store with a woman
who is shopping
for a new stove.
you both stand
beside one another
looking at a new
GE model with
a flat shiny
top and a wide
door. it's black
and sleek like
an onyx stone
found along
the beach, with
more buttons and
computer
capabilities
than Apollo
13. nice, she says.
I like it.
yes, you say. very
nice. are you buying
it, she asks, no
you say. I have a
stove. it's circa
1967. oh my she
says, that old.
and it still works.
yes, you tell her.
one burner doesn't
work, and the oven
is small, but gets
me where I want to
go, which isn't too
far with my culinary
skills. I see she
says. so why are you
here looking at
stoves. I don't know,
you tell her,
sometimes I wonder
what a new stove
would be like,
and I just browse
and imagine.

you got nothing

her tale of woes
are better
than your tale
of woes.
she's got
bankruptcy on
her side, a kid
in jail, a dog
that got hit by a car
and an ex husband
living in
the cellar.
she's recently
developed
the jimmy leg,
or restless leg
syndrome
for those not
familiar with
that ailment.
you've got
a leaky toilet
that runs
because the flapper
valve won't
set right
when it flops
over after flushing,
and a mailman
that sometimes
puts your neighbor's
mail into your
slot.
so you do most
of the listening
while her leg
rattles against
the bar stool.
you try to think
of something to
top her or at
least come close.
but you got
nothing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

private number

the phone rings
so you pick it up
and say hello. you
can see the caller id
which reads, private
number.
hello the woman says,
her voice is husky,
sultry like lauren
Bacall's used to
be for those that
remember her.
what are you doing,
she asks. nothing, you
tell her. i'm answering
the phone. what are you
wearing? she says,
breathing heavily
into the phone.
a towel, you say, I just
now hopped out of the
tub. me too, she says,
i'm all wet and
dripping onto
the floor. there's
a short pause
and you can hear
the shuffling
of papers.
do you need new
windows, she says.
you pause for a second
then say, as a matter
of fact, I do.
well, that's too bad
she says. i'm not selling
windows. do you have
anything to set out
for the purple heart
this Tuesday? she asks.
no, you tell her. are you
with them? they wish,
she says, but no,
I was just wondering.
have you refinanced
lately? the rates
are at historic lows.
I did, you tell
her and got a very nice
rate, under three
per cent for fifteen
years. well, I'm happy
for you. maybe we should
have a cocktail sometime,
she says. you can hear
her lighting a cigarette
and sipping on a drink,
the ice cubes clinking
against a glass.
that would be nice, you
tell her. I like
your voice, how about
tonight? no, she says.
I'm busy tonight. my
husband keeps me on
a short leash,
but perhaps some other
time. okay, you tell her,
well, thanks for calling.
I love you, she says.
which makes you stare
at the receiver and
shrug, drying your ears
with the towel. ummm,
I love you too, goodbye.

down the stretch

in your dream
you are a small
slender man
on a horse,
a jockey in
the Kentucky derby.
you have a riding crop
and large clear
goggles like
Elton john.
your colors
are pink and
yellow, with
dashes of
tangerine
dots, like
a tropical fish,
but you know it's
just a dream
so you don't squirm
too much about
that.
your horse is
called tossing
and turning, which
is what you
are doing through
out the dream.
your horse
has no chance
of winning, it's
a plow horse in
a race
with thoroughbreds,
but the crowd is
cheering you on,
they want you
to win, to succeed,
most of them, although
you see a face
or two who aren't
on your side
ripping up their
tickets, shaking
their heads with dismay
at your performance.
such is the world
of horse racing.

the medicine cabinet

after dinner
you go into the
bathroom to freshen
up. nervously, you
take a chance
and ease open
her medicine
cabinet. you want
to get to the bottom
of what makes her
so happy all
the time. it can't
be just you
and your delightful
nature.
you keep the water
running, and
flush the toilet.
quickly you scan
the shelves,
turning the labels
of brown plastic
bottles around.
the words are
unpronounceable.
you've never seen
such prescription
medicine in one
place. it's a virtual
one woman pharmacy.
but hey, it's working,
you've never met
such a wonderfully
together person
in your life. slowly
you click
the mirrored door
shut and check
your teeth for
spinach.

not so wise guys

you make a mistake
and do
business with vinny
and moe
down at
the bada bing
retirement home.
you borrow five
bucks, two
fifty from
each of them
to get into a gin
rummy game, which
you forget to pay,
and the interest
on the principle
doubles
with each passing
day.
but they're old
now, and they
forget things.
you see them at
the crafts room
widdling wooden
knives, making
weapons out
of soap on a string.
when they see you
at the shuffle
board game, they
whisper to one
another about you,
and say to you,
hey don't you owe
us some money.
which you respond,
I paid you already.
this makes them shake
their heads and
twist their lips,
right they say, but
if we remember
different, it's cement
shoes for you buddy.

flower to flower

these
birds, these
bees.
this thing
called
spring, how
it affects
us all,
but mostly
the young.
the way they
take flight
from
flower to
flower with
no thought
of wrong
or right. in
time though
the seasons
will change
and their wings
will tire,
but the memories
of this sweet
time will always
burn bright.

still life

spoiled milk
on the grated
shelf, fruit
gone bad,
bananas black
and curled
on a table.
the soft
brown dent
in an apple.
pears in a bowl,
softened
by time and light,
a fly
already pinching
at the yellowed
skin.
the bread
unsheltered
crusted hard
on the counter.
gone stale.
everything
that lives
heads in
this direction,
but you can't
think
about that,
can you, for
what point then
would tomorrow
be.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

young love

nothing is what
it seems
at any age.
the love of your
life
is really
just a day, a
passing ship
which docks
for a night.
she betrays you
by kissing another,
but she was
never yours,
to begin with,
as you were never
hers.
nothing is
what it seems
at any age,
remember this
that there will
be more, and that
your tomorrows,
at least for now
out weigh
your yesterdays.

life on mars

stretched out like
a rag doll on
the cool tiles
of the kitchen floor,
after making love
for a miraculous
third time in an
hour you feel dizzy,
but pleased
with your sudden
burst of energy,
not to mention
how happy you are
with modern day medicine.
however you feel
a little faint
and your mind
wanders into space.
literally into space.
you begin to think
about mars and how
there is no life
there, but that they
keep saying that it
looks like
Arizona, without
life, of course,
which seems strangely
ironic or paradoxical.
is there really
life in arizona, you
blurt out to your
new friend from france,
clarissa? who lies
beside you still panting
like a cat. not speaking
the same language
as you, she leans up
and stares into your
eyes and says, pardon?
what are you speaking
dear boy, she eeks out
with her adorable
accent. me, are you
thinking of me, of
me and you forever in
this place you call
arizona?
oui, you say, oui,
but don't touch me
right now, okay?
i'm sort of done here.

let's take a walk

let's go for a walk
she suggests
after dinner, but
in separate
directions and take
your suitcase
with you. I packed
it for you.
it's by the door
with your smelly
shoes and hat.
are we breaking up,
you ask her, and
she says, no, no
not at all. let's
just call it taking
a walk. but one
of us, meaning
you, is not coming
back. seems
nicer, doesn't it?

vanity hair

until he let
it go white,
finally at fifty
coming to his
senses,
and cut it short,
for years
his hair was oiled
down and black.
like an exxon
ship run aground
across
his scalp.
sometimes you'd
see the little
black tears
of dye
dripping down
his temples,
around his ears.
it wasn't a good
look up
close, but from
a distance it
shaved off,
at least
half a year.

dinner for eight, i mean seven

in the news
as they dig up
the remains
of settlers in Jamestown
you see where
the first thanksgiving
wasn't necessarily
pass me the potatoes
and gravy,
and string beans.
there was no butternut
squash to be found.
no pumpkin pies
on the shelf, or
Indians sharing
their secret recipes
for grilled
corn on the cob
with a touch of honey.
no, if you had
legs and arms, you
had better latch
the door and gnaw
on the shoe leather
that was on your
feet, it was a long
cold winter back
in 1608.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

to be loved

unloved
the man lies
in bed
at night
and feels
the moon slip
through
the slats
of his blinds.
he sees
the empty
space
of his bed
and sighs.
he wishes only
to be loved
and then
he will be
happy,
not knowing
that this is
why he isn't.

a different route

unlike other
days.
you take
a different
route to go
get coffee
and a paper.
it's a pleasant
day, warmed
with sunlight.
why not explore
and be different
for once,
but you
get lost
along the way,
cutting
through
an alley,
a side street.
you look
up at the sky
to see where
the sun is,
but it's overcast
and the buildings
are too tall
to let in
any light.
you ask a stranger
where you
are, and he shrugs
before asking
you for
money.
you hear sirens,
and dogs
wailing.
a baby crying
in a window.
two lovers fighting
over love
gone wrong.
a crowd of young
men are blocking
the sidewalk
so you go to
the other side,
you keep walking,
as they laugh
you pull up
your collar,
feeling the sudden
rain
upon your hatless
head. the wind
cuts you
to the bone, making
you shiver.
this is a lesson,
you say to yourself
quickening your pace.

going it alone

you have a hard
time
borrowing anything
from anyone.
whether
flour or a cup
of olive oil.
sugar and salt.
nothing seems
urgent enough
to go knock on
a neighbor's door
and ask.
you'd rather do
without.
or venture into
the snow driven
night. it's a flaw
of some sort,
you understand
that. but
you don't want
to owe anyone
anything, it would
defeat your
purpose in going
it alone.

slicing pears

you think about
the generals
drinking
tea and cutting
apples
into quarters,
brushing flies
away while
slicing carefully
into
the white meat
of green
laced pears.
discussing where
to drop
the bombs, on
what city
and at what
time would seem
appropriate.
with casual
indifference
drawing up their
plans
of destruction,
asking
one another
how their golf
game goes,
if they've
conquered that
slice that
drives the ball
so infuriatingly
into the woods.

luck

people ask
are you having any
luck.
they ask it
about love
or work, or
your writing.
or perhaps
in finding
a new place
to live. they
ask as if the world
is a slot machine
or a card game,
where you
suddenly draw
three kings
or pull the arm
and all the coins
come falling out.

the e mail

in a moment of
frustration and anger
with someone
you know so well
and have tolerated
for decades,
you send off an e mail
telling them,
not all, but just a few
of things that
are on your mind.
it's not a good
idea. you should
have burned it, deleted
it, never clicked
on the send button.
but they've had it
coming for so long.
their lies and ego
running rampant over
the lives of you and
others. but it's written
more for you
than it is for them.
for they respond
in the only way
they know how, with
a vow and a pledge
to never see or talk
with again. as you knew
they would with
calculated anger.

the holiday

you invent a holiday
out of thin air.
it's a day without
obligations.
a day without
greeting each
person with merry this
or happy that.
no hallmark cards
are bought with
sentimental prose
and signed with
vague words of love
or affection.
there are no
thoughtful gifts
to buy for
people who don't
need them. there
is no stringing of
the lights on this
day, or costumes
to be worn. no animals
are slaughtered
for the feast,
there are no
children singing.
no vows,
no toasts are
sent up at the dinner
table, no
resolutions set down.
there is no guilt
or wringing of
the hands.
it's day of nothing.
a wonderful day.