Monday, September 30, 2013

wild flowers

cold feet
has nothing to do
with it.
you
just like
running free
along the field
where the high
grass
grows. where
the wild
flowers
bloom, where
the trees
are full
and waving
in the breeze.
you'll come
home soon, but
not yet.
all in good
time.

where did the morning go

where did
the morning go
the blue
grass
country song
wails
as you drive
under the blue
skies of
late September.
you like
that the song
is not
about the morning,
not really,
but something
else.
you listen closely
to the words
as it goes
on and on
with the twang
and picking
of guitars
and banjos.
it has
that lonesome
cry
singing that only
that genre
of music
can render.
you take your
finger off
the button,
letting it play
out.

dinner party

you
take the chipped
glass
for yourself,
the mismatched
fork.
the odd
plate that
isn't quite
as nice
as the others.
you take
the smallest
of servings
dessert
is just a taste.
you want
things right
for them,
the last of
the wine,
you choose
the hard chair,
all of that
makes you happy
in a small
self serving way.

the poetry reading

the audience
clapped too loud
and long
for the poet after
the reading
was over.
there was a poem
about a cat,
a poem
about an ex wife.
a long elegy
about
weather, and
of course several
poems
involving
the moon.
they were fine
poems. they made
you think
about the wives
and cats,
the weather
and moons in
your own life.
but the applause
went on too
long. you didn't
like that part
for some reason
not quite clear
to you. perhaps
you'll write a
poem about that.

the robbery

the robber
with his black cold
gun
sticks
it in your ribs
and says
give it.
give what up
you say, I don't
understand.
I have nothing
with me at the moment.
no watch,
no phone,
no wallet.
can I send you
a check.
what's my life
worth to
you. who do I
make it out to?
give it up he
says again.
empty your pockets.
a coupon
for a free scone
at the coffee shop
falls out, lint,
change.
a few dollars.
he takes all of it.
next time have some
money on you,
he says, putting
the gun away.
frustrated
he counts
out the few
dollars, shaking
free the lint.
he leaves the coupon
which makes
you happy.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

the weather people

more
bad weather
is expected,
the blonde cupcake
on the news
says, pointing
at a swirling map
in her blue shiny
dress.
your uncle's
big toe
hurts, so three
feet of
snow is coming
he murmurs.
don't say I
didn't tell you
he says,
biting onto
a piece of beef
jerky and shaking
his hairless
head.
your mother's
knee is
acting up.
swollen like
a pink grapefruit.
it's going
to be
a cold
winter
this year, she
moans, limping
towards
the boiling tea
kettle. better
get a shovel.

moving forward

the roil
of the silver
ocean
changing
colors
as the sun
plays
upon
the surface.
the rusted
freighter
in the distance
is you.
plodding
along, hardly
with
a sense
of movement.
but you're
getting
there,
plowing forward,
moving with
years,
through
the blue.

the lesson

the child
touches
the hot stove
with his hand
and learns
a lesson
that becomes
deeply
imbedded in
his psyche.
the scar
on the tip
of his finger
will
remind him
of this
moment for
the rest of
his life.
it's something
books
and lectures,
warnings
from
parents
can never do.

Friday, September 27, 2013

first frost

with the first
slender
coat of frost
across
the lawn
the grey mice
find a way in,
burrowing
through
key holes
in the foundation
of the house.
seeking warmth
and comfort
from
the winter
that lies ahead.
and you
carrying wood
in,
pulling out
the wool socks,
the hat
and gloves,
setting
the shovel
nearby, get
ready too.

it's time

it's time,
you think, steadying
yourself, taking
a shot of whiskey
for courage, throwing
it back, making
your eyes water.
it's time,
to finally do what
you have to do.
you've delayed it
for years
and years. you've
endured through
the spills
and the smells,
the broken
glass
and sticky globs
of what not.
taking a deep
breath
you put on your gloves,
get a bucket full
of Lysol and
open the refrigerator,
you get on your
knees and begin
to pull out
the rotted fruit
and vegetables.
the cold pizza.
seventeen bottles
of partially
used salad
dressings. unmarked
foiled balls
of mystery food.

fear seminar

you over come
your fears
by doing what
you fear most
the speaker says
as he prances
around the room
like a peacock
in full bloom.
by doing the things
you are most
afraid of will
free your spirit
and allow you
to become the person
you were meant
to be. but,
you think to
yourself, squirming
in your hundred
dollar seat,
you are not going
to jump out
of a plane,
or wrestle sharks,
handle snakes,
bungee jump,
or get married
again, so why are you
listening
to this fool
in an oily suit
with shiny white
teeth?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

the future

in the pouring
rain
you see a man
sitting on
the curb, his
hands on his face.
he's crying.
his briefcase
is between
his legs, water
is moving
through the gutter
running over
his shoes.
you lean down
and touch his
shoulder, asking
if he is okay.
i'm fine he says.
i'm fine. but
then why are
you sitting here
in the rain
crying. i'm
crying for tomorrow
he says. i'm
crying for what
is about to
happen. what the
world is heading
towards
if it keeps going
in the direction
it is. we can't
continue on
like this. move
over you say,
make room, and
sit beside him.

lions at the zoo

you make
friends with the lions
at the zoo.
everyday
you stop by
and toss them
a rib eye steak
when no one is
looking.
by the end
of the week
they are salivating
when they see
you walking towards
the cage.
they roar with
delight
when you put your
hand into
your coat pocket
and pull
out the meat.
but still you feel
that they would
kill and eat
you too if
given the chance.
some friends,
as you've learned
in life,
are like that.

instant oats

instant oats,
coffee,
soup,
rice.
everything
has a micro
wave set of
instructions.
make it quickly
because
we have no time
to spare,
there is no
time
to stand and
stir, to wait
for things
to cook.
such is love
these days,
as well.

the fading light

sometimes
the past is
a bright candle
in your memory.
easy to recall
with words
and thoughts,
while other
times it is
a far away planet,
barely
visible in
the night sky,
fading
with it's soft
light,
shedding its
shine
with each
passing day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

fifty per cent

they say
that fifty per cent
of all
elderly people
die with
either
the phone
in their hand
or the remote
control to
the tv set.
the others
are either eating
ice cream
out of a box,
or web surfing
porn
on the internet.
a few
are clipping coupons
for shopping,
and some
are doing
crossword puzzles,
or putting
together a menu
for the holidays.
it's not much
different than
the people that
go to sleep
and wake up.

phone devils

is there anything
else
we can for you,
the woman on
the phone
says sweetly
into your ear.
like what, you
ask, wondering
what she
has in mind.
i don't know,
she replies
no one has ever
asked me
that.
i could use
a nice massage
with hot
oils, you
tell her. i'm
sorry sir,
she says, we
are a phone
company, and it's
not under our
umbrella
of conveniences.
however,
for twenty dollars
more a month
though, we can
download a regular
telephone
ring to your phone?
can we do that
for you?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

is anyone there

because your
stupid
smart phone
doesn't have
a normal
ring, when
it does go
off you look
strangely
about the room
wondering what
that music is
where are those
birds and wind
chimes sounds
coming from.
and by the time
you pull it out
from deep
within your
pocket,
the ringing
has stopped
and your
fingers have
dialed
someone you
used to
know, that keeps
saying hello
hello
hello.

hard choices

you bend
over
for the thin
dime
that shines
in the morning
sun.
but not
the penny.
you let
that lie
there. it's
one of
many hard
decisions
you will make
during
the day.
a grande
or just
a tall
mocha skim
with whip
latte, is
another,
for instance.

Monday, September 23, 2013

board games


on a rainy day
your mother
would
put out
the board games
to settle
you down,
all five
of you.
candy land,
the game of
life, scrabble
and monopoly,
risk.
but it just
incensed us
to win, to
connive, and
conquer
the weaker
siblings,
smaller by
age, not as
smart, just yet,
as you. things
never ended
in peace,
as a the die
were thrown,
the cards
scattered,
the board upturned,
and tears were
shed, as
someone would
scream,
they're cheating.

no love

a gentle
hand
smooths
the baby's thin
silk
hair
to the side.
covers
him with
a blanket,
brings milk
to his lips.
a pink
diamond
in her hands.
no love
like
a mother's
can
be found
elsewhere,
outside
her arms

what time is it

when your watch
stops
turning, you shrug.
there
are more clocks
around you
than ever
before. the oven,
the tv,
the clock
on the wall,
in the car,
on the building,
your phone,
the computer.
where once
the sun, or the
moons position
gave clue
to the hour,
no more,
who needs them.
who looks
up into the sky
and says,
what time
is it, what day
has arrived.
the stars
are irrelevant
now.

everything is here

no life
on mars upsets
the seekers
having
over looked
the life
here, around
them. teeming
with microbes,
plants
and fish,
species beyond
belief
in their
complexity.
the empty sky.
the silent
planets hold
no secrets.
they lie here.
within you,
within me.
which should
be plenty,
but isn't.

that new girlfriend smell

she's fresh
and new
straight from
the factory
in her bright
dress
and shiny
shoes. she
gleams with
polish and
has all
the latest curves,
knows
how to glide
along the highway.
she glimmers
with hope,
claiming low
mileage,
and free of
accidents
of marriage, or
worse,
just back
and forth from
church.
she has that
new girlfriend
smell.
perfumed
and powdered,
smiling
like a showroom
model.

the next chance

the world changes
it's mind
and throws you a
curve ball,
one you can't
hit. in fact
you jump back
thinking that it
may strike you.
but it's right
down the middle
and called strike.
you have two
more swings though,
before the out
is called, and
you are going
for the fence.
nothing less,
nothing more,
your eyes are
focused on the ball
as it leaves
the pitcher's hand,
your arms
and bat ready
to pounce on
the next chance.

je suis tres bon

you decide
to run away.
to grow a mustache
and change
your name to frank,
or leo, you
haven't quite
decided on that.
but you need
a fresh start.
you want to go
someplace where
no one knows
your name, no one
knows who you
are.
maybe you'll
change the way
you walk,
you'll speak with
a foreign
accent.
it will be hard
at first, but
once you settle
into another
town and get to know
some people,
you will no longer
be a stranger.
people will say
hey, frank,
or leo, how are
you today? and you'll
reply, bon, je suis,
tres bon.

you don't care

the news
makes you yawn.
you can hardly
read a blurb
online about the next
war,
the next act
of violence,
death and destruction,
kidnapping
and assault.
you care, but
sometimes you
don't care.
it's hard to keep
up and be concerned
about so much.
there is only
so much room
in your heart.
you have your
own garden to tend
to, and sometimes
that's enough.

i live to dance

i have dancer's
legs
she says,
pulling up the edge
of her skirt
to show you
how toned her
muscles are.
i live to dance.
my life is all
about dancing.
not me you say,
rolling up your
sleeves to show
her your arms,
your muscular
biceps and thick
wrists. i live to
drink and eat,
then sleep.
we are so different,
aren't we
she says, spinning
slowly around
the room in
a casual dance,
you got that right
you say,
reaching for your
sandwich and taking
a bite. do you
mind dancing over
there, you're
blocking the tv.
the game is on.

till death do us part

she talks about marriage,
about wanting
that again, growing
old together with
someone, even after
two failed tries.
perhaps it's her
generation, thinking
that having a ring,
a man, a home
together makes her
life right. she wants
so badly to sign
that business contract
for a wavering emotion
and there is nothing
you can do to talk
her off that ledge,
she needs once more
to take that marital
swan dive. she'll
even wear white, she
says, because this one
will be the real
thing. forever
and ever, till death
do us part.

you own nothing

you own nothing.
these shoes
are not yours,
this chair you sit
in, the bed
you lie in
at night waiting
for sleep
to arrive. all
of it does not
belong to you.
you are a temporary
resident
in this world
leaving everything
for others
in time.
nothing being
yours to decide.

swift wind

where once
the minutes seemed
like hours,
the hours now
appear to be
minutes.
the years
are caught
in a swift wind,
decades
sweeping by
as you walk
along the streets
you have
chosen
to spend time.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

twelve years

she tells you in
confidence,
nervously whispering
over the table
that she hasn't
had sex since her
husband died
over twelve
years ago.
twelve years you
say, taking a long
sip of vodka
and tonic.
you try to remember
anything in
your life that you
haven't done
for twelve years,
or twelve months,
twelve days.
nothing comes to
mind.

cleaning the attic

there's a part of you,
growing
increasingly smaller
with age,
that wants to know
other people's
business. what
they're up to
when no one is
watching.
you'd like to know
a secret or two
about them, for no
good reason other
than being
inquisitive and
nosey. but recently
you don't care.
you don't even care
when they tell
you they're having
an affair, or
have health issues
of a personal
nature. you don't
want to know about
their finances, or
new car, or friend
in the hamptons.
you don't want them
to point at a spot
on their neck
and say, look at this
and tell me what
you think.
you are slowly
cleaning out the attic
of your mind,
and not hauling
anything more
up the stairs.

ordering fish

you peruse
the menu
and settle on
the fish.
it's not what
you want, but
there is nothing
else there
that you see
and want to eat.
when you
take a bite
you look
longingly
at other people's
plate
wishing that
you had
ordered that.
but you're
stuck, as you
move the fork
around,
hoping somehow
that things
will get
better.

Friday, September 20, 2013

kings and queens

the woman on
her phone
behind you in her
enormous white
SUV is putting
on make up.
you see her sip
on a cup of
coffee as
the traffic slugs
along. she comes
close to hitting
you time and time
again, jamming
on her brakes
at the last second.
you can't get away
from her for
miles, you want
to yell out
the window, to
hey watch the road,
you're going to
kill someone, or
yourself, but you
don't. she wouldn't
hear you anyway
over the loud
music she is
blasting. it's not
that she's unusual,
it's how people
drive now. kings
and queens in
their own little
worlds.

the food chain

when she kisses
you on the cheek
before leaving,
dipping
her body towards
you so as not
to touch, you
know it's
over.
when she says she's
going to call
but doesn't for
days on end,
well, the end
is near.
when you become
Tuesday's
date, and Saturday
and Friday have
come and gone,
disappeared,
it's pretty much
a done deal.
you're no longer
at the top
of her food chain.
you're just waiting
for the final
text, or e mail.

clearing the yard

your yard
is full of weeds.
over grown
with wild
flowers,
bushes
that have come
over the fence
somehow,
and seeded.
vines entangle
the brick,
climb the wooden
gate.
you don't know
where to
start, what's
good,
what's bad,
but with
clippers in
hand you decide
to take
everything out.
it's not
a good mood
to be in when
around so called
friends.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

through a prism

the light
passing
through
the prism,
bending,
shines with
a rainbow
of colors
on the wall.
brilliant
reds and green,
blue.
we only need
the light
to pass through
our hearts
for us
to brighten
any room.

on stage

the actors
on stage are lost
in their
parts.
they've said
the lines
so many
times
they have become
who they
pretend they are.
each night,
the hero,
the lover,
the villain.
the passerby,
a face in
the crowd. it
becomes hard
to not believe
the applause.
this being so much
easier
than
the real world.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the fading light

as your
mother slips slowly
into
ill health,
the spark
fading from her
once nimble mind,
the light
dwindling
from her brown
eyes
you try to stir
her up
with a memory
or two from
the old neighbor
hood.
she laughs,
she smiles, she's
in the moment,
but then she asks
you the same
questions
for the third
time in ten minutes.
so what are
you doing now.
how's your wife.
your son,
where is he?
you tell her again,
then again.
but it's okay.
you don't mind.

college degree

you get your college
degree online.
it takes three
months
and nineteen
thousand dollars.
a woman named
mima teaches
all of your classes.
from biology
to history.
she's weak on
math, so has
her assistant
Zelda help her.
she speaks almost
no English, but
somehow manages
to push you
through the courses.
you get mostly
A's and B's.
you are on
the dean's list,
mima tells you.
finally you graduate
and mima sends
you a diploma
and a personal note,
saying well done
my fellow scholar.
but she spells scholar
with an e, not
an a. you hang
the note and the
diploma in your study,
removing
your broadway poster
of Cats from the wall.
you have accomplished
something.
you feel good,
then you take a nap.

far side of the moon

on the far
side of the moon
there is
a circus
in session
with clowns
and elephants,
trapeze artists
and balloons.
but who would know.
it's unseen.
you feel
that way
about a lot
of things,
that when you
leave
a dull room,
the party
starts. you
hope that's
not true, but
there's no
way to know.
no one is talking,
it's the far
side
of the moon.

chill in the air

she takes off
her clothes
and moves
cat like
through
the room
to lower
the shades.
turn off
the light
and crawl
into bed
beside you.
there are no
words spoken.
no sweet dreams,
no good night.
there are
no words
left to say.
it's not
the end, but
very close.
she's inches
away,but you
are a thousand
miles apart.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the green plant

you once had
a plant
you couldn't
kill, no
matter what
was left in
the grey dirt, no
matter how
long it went
without water
or sunlight, love
and attention,
it forgave
you somehow
for being so
selfish
with your life,
so neglectful.
its leaves stayed
green with hope
as it leaned
towards
the window
waiting for you
to come home.
you've searched
high and low
for a woman
like that
plant, and not
surprisingly
without luck.

morning comes

he shines
with a stiff
brush,
in the near dark,
his shoes.
folds his
pants
and sets them
on the stand.
puts a clean
shirt
on a hanger,
on the door
knob.
tomorrow comes
too quickly
without
dreams.
the days
are slow dying,
marching
one foot, one
hour in front
of the next.
he lies in bed
alone,
and waits
for morning,
then morning
comes.

crazy with a gun

you can't take
crazy out
of the equation.
it's always
there, rising
above the calm,
like a black
bird
with steely eyes,
above the stir
of life,
turning
the world upside
down,
sideways.
all the books,
all the doctors,
all the religions,
all the wisdom
in the world
can't solve or
stop crazy with
a gun.

blue feathers

the bleakness
of January
the empty
grey trees,
the patches of
ice, soured
in the sun
and dirty
breeze.
the broken
limbs
across
the fence.
a few dead
birds.
frozen,
lying still,
the color
in their feathers
not washed out
by death
or cold.
but still
bright with
hope.
nothing brilliant
disappears
you want to
believe.

the tool box

you open
your tool box
searching
for something
that escapes
you now.
it will come to
you. you see
the hammers,
screw drivers,
saws
and assorted
nails, screws.
a small
level with a
green floating
bubble
that you've
never used.
you can see
the dents and bends
in all of
them,
struck hard,
or pulled
gently in one
way or the other.
fixing, or
building
something long
forgotten.
much has lost the
shine of when
they were new,
but everything
still works,
still functions
and gets
the job,
not unlike
you.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

the pyramid of apples

you see the man
in the grocery store
stacking apples into
a neat pyramid. you've
seen this man for years
maybe twenty, maybe
a few more. your hair
has thinned through
the years, as his has.
you've watched him,
without words in the fish
department shoveling
shaved ice behind
the glass, lining up
in neat rows, side
by side the trout,
the flounder, monk fish.
you've never spoken
or even exchanged a nod,
he would avert his
eyes most times and
concentrate on what
he was doing.
at the deli he was
precise and polite
as he cut the meats,
slicing cheese, and
doling out pounds
of potato salad.
you often wondered who
would give in first,
and disappear, but you
both hung in there
through the change of
seasons, the holidays
until finally one day
he was gone.
dead? who knows, retired,
or moved, who knows.
but there in his place
was a young man
in a starched white
shirt, almost a boy,
standing in the same
spot, beneath
the fluorescent lights
where you first saw the other
man. there was the new
boy stacking gala
apples into pyramid,
he smiled as you came
in, you noded, and said hello.
you didn't have the heart
to tell him what he would
one day find out.

fading stars

you have
tickets for
the old
rock star
who keeps
touring with
his wig
and limp,
his tired
voice that can't
hit the high
or low notes
anymore, but
from the distance
of the last
row, nothing
appears to have
changed.
you can almost
close
your eyes
and hear
that song
ringing in
your ears,
smell the smoke
in the air,
taste the warm
beer on
your young
lips.

crooked tail

the cat who
gets her tail
stuck
in the quick
slam
of the screen
door reminds
me of you.
always getting
caught and crying
as if it was
someone else's
fault.

out in the country

a glint
a gleam
a sliver
of light
coming
through
the window,
the shades,
the blinds,
the torn
screen.
the bark
of a bird
on the feeder
awakens you.
a cow moos
on a distant
field.
it's hard
to sleep soundly
out here
in the country,
but you
try.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

here, have some cornbread

she was so
proud of her corn
bread.
carrying it out
from the kitchen,
fresh and hot
from the stove,
it gleamed with
melted butter
as she set it on
the table.
try some corn
bread, she'd say.
I just made it,
from scratch.
and you'd say,
no thanks, I don't
like corn bread.
but I just made
it. it goes great
with chicken.
no thanks, you'd
tell her. just
taste it, have one
nibble, i'm
sure you'll love it.
nah, i'll pass, but
I will have some
more chicken if you
don't mind
passing me the plate.
you won't have
one bite, she asked,
chewing her
cornbread and smiling
sweetly.
nope. no cornbread
for me. it was an
early night as she
claimed to get
a headache.
things never were
the same after that.

jimmy legs

there was a kid,
jimmy southall,
who used to sit behind
you in social studies,
in the seventh grade
who couldn't stop
kicking your chair.
he was small, slight,
with beady eyes,
and long dirty
finger nails.
you'd slide your desk
forward, and so
would he.
for the entire
forty seven minutes
he would drum
his hard shoe against
your chair.
giving him an
evil look,
or threatening him
with death didn't
seem to bother
him. sometimes you'd
go sit at another
empty desk, but
the teacher would
force you back into
your alphabetical
alignment. for
weeks and weeks
it went on, until
one day he wasn't
there. days went by,
no kicking, no jimmy.
it was quiet, normal.
almost eerie. you
missed him. you heard
later that he was
sent away to a mental
institution, which
made you feel bad
for telling him you
were going to break
his legs if he
didn't stop kicking
your chair.

uncles from philly

your uncles
from philly, rich
from their auto
repair garages,
would ride down
in their matching
red and white
cadillacs
and load up
their trunks
with bottles
of whiskey from
central liquor
in dc.
wearing dark shades
and white suits,
their flat olive
cheeks dabbed
with cheap
cologne,
they didn't
know how to act
having so
much money.
they'd pull a roll
of cash
from their
white gabardine
pants and give you
a five, rub
your head, and say
be good.
listen to your
mom, who
was holding a
twenty.

Friday, September 13, 2013

the clean kitchen

women don't cook
anymore.
most don't. they
are not of your parent's
generation
with the spice
racks
and colanders,
dutch ovens
and meat thermometers.
no.
they like to go
out to eat
and keep those
gourmet kitchens
clean.
the granite shines,
the polished
blenders
and food processors
are silent. sure
there are plenty
of cook books
on the shelf,
but the oven stays
cold, the fridge
holds the bare
necessities
of yogurt and hummus.
cheese and wine.
it's a clean
well lighted room,
spotless,
with the carryout
menu posted
near the phone.

amorous rex

don't mind my dog,
she says,
trying to hold the little
beast back.
you like dogs
don't you, she
says? the dog
wraps his front
paws around
your ankles
and tries to
romance your leg.
yes. you say,
dragging the dog
along the floor,
wincing
at his gnarly
nibbles.
down rex, down,
she yells
as he continues
to make love
against your shoe
and sock.
finally she yanks
him away and shows
you the room
she needs
painted. as you
leave, you see
rex in the corner,
sleepy eyed,
smoking a camel
and giving you a
smirking wink.

the fall shoe sale

she's angry.
her face crimson,
her stance
wide
and strong,
no wind or flood
could
knock her
down, even in
those flimsy
flip flops.
she holds
the newspaper
up to you,
rattling it in
your pale face.
how could you,
she says,
seething, how
could you tell
not tell me
about the fall
shoe sale
at Nordstrom
again, this year.

up for grabs

the story
can go either way,
good
over evil, or
evil
coming out
in the end.
you've seen it
happen
time and time
again,
where the unexpected
wins.
there are no
white hats,
no
black hats,
no priest's
collar, or flag
pin on the lapel
that indicates
who's
the trusted
and loyal
one.
the world is
up for grabs,
who has the drop
on who.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

your masterpiece

you paint
your masterpiece.
it's taken
years of trial
and error,
of wrong turns,
wrong colors
and subjects.
finding the right
light, with
the right brush,
to be in
the moment of
your art, but then
it comes
and all else
fades away.
it's there, as
clean and true
as anything you've
ever done.
nothing else
compares.
now what?

clown break

the clown
taking a smoke
outside the circus
tent, is talking
on his cell
phone, cursing
at the woman
on the other
end. his yellow
billowing
silk pants
flutter in
the breeze. his
blue floppy
shoes are
tapping with
annoyance. he
looks no one
in the eye, as
he tugs on
his orange wig.
he's on his break.
you can't be
funny all the time,
as you well
know.

the muic within

fear likes
to stay crouched
in the corner,
or perched
on a ledge
in the darkest
room, whispering
it's taunts,
ready to make
you tremble,
ready to
unsteady your
nerves, to
quiet the music
that is in
you.

corn bread muffins

crazy words
tumble
from her
parted lips.
she's a dark
witch on
a crooked stick
flying across
the violet sky.
she's full
of curses
and potions,
she knows
the future,
she twists
the past.
but you love
her just
the same for
her pot roast
and corn
bread muffins.

go buy a lamp

you buy a new
pair of shoes and
feel good for about an
hour.
then you go back out
and get yourself
some new pants
and a snazzy shirt
to go with them.
that makes you feel
good too, but it fades
before you know it.
how about a new car,
you think, and go
test drive a few,
deciding on a shiny
red one, with halogen
lights. this makes
you smile and smile
for a few days.
content, but then it
rains, the car
gets dirty, your shoes
have mud on them.
your pants are a little
tight. how about
redecorating the house.
that couch is three
years old after all.
you pick out a sweet
leather sectional,
smart and contemporary,
like you are.
but that rug
doesn't match, so you
go online and order
up a wild circular
rug. when it comes
you are happy. very
happy, but not quite
satisfied. hmmm,
you think, you look
over at your wife, who
is calmly reading
a book on psychiatric
illnesses, and you pick
a fight with her.
telling her that she
is smudging the coffee
table with her
big fat feet. so what,
she says.
go buy a lamp, i'm
not going anywhere.

the old church

the new church
is different
with its open
armed acceptance
of everyone, no
matter what the sin,
or how often
it's committed.
it almost seems
to embrace now
what jesus taught.
it's not
the same as when
you were a child.
kneeling
at high mass
on hard pews.
candles lit,
latin being mumbled
from the altar
by a man in a
golden frock.
the nuns like black
birds
on a wire in
the front row.
you miss
the stained glass,
the fear
of god's fury
for even the most
menial of sins,
the mystery of it
all.
the sliding
webbed door of
the confessional,
the smell
of old wood, of
ammonia on
the hard tiles.
the sound
the doors made
when they squeaked
open with
sunlight, or
darkness.
the wafer of life
in your mouth,
the blood of
Christ on your
lips.

winners and losers

everyone is
challenged
in some dreadful
way,
or deemed
special
despite falling
short.
everyone wins
a prize,
a trophy,
a plaque saying
that you
are a winner
these days,
despite
finishing last.
there are no
losers anymore,
but you know
better, they
know better.
everyone
knows the truth,
but pretends
not to.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

senior discount

the young man
at the window asks
you if you
want a senior discount
for your movie
ticket, which makes
you look over
your shoulder
to find the old
person he is talking
to. but there is
no one there.
me, you say, pointing
at your chest,
smirking. you think
i'm old? i'll have
you know that I
jogged three miles
over here, and this
morning I swam
a mile at the gym,
not to mention
biking the Appalachian
trail last weekend.
me, senior citizen?
surely you jest,
my young man.
yes or no, he says,
dead panned.
what's the difference
in price you ask,
which he tells you.
sure you say,
then slide the money
through the window.

the mayor of the court

out the window
you see
the mayor of the court
holding council.
occasionally
he will point
in the direction
of your house.
you don't like
him, and so you
purposely don't
wave to him
each of six times
you see him during
the day.
he walks his
dog while searching
for violations,
such as early
trash going out
to the corner,
or a dog not
being picked up
for, or parking sticker
not being
displayed properly.
the vice mayor,
his wife, feels
free to direct
traffic, offer
advice
on gardening,
and tells you where
to put the snow
when it does snow.
they are harmless
for the most part,
but you could easily
see them as guards
in a prison camp.

the child you are

you're in the mood
for love.
she's in the mood
for sleep
and ignoring
your hands
and legs encroaching
on her curled
position
deep within
the pillows
and blankets,
burrowed beneath
the sheets
protected. are
you awake, you
say, nuzzling
your chin
with bristles
sexily along her
back. you hands
sliding along
the smooth curves
of her. no, she
says, again. stop.
i'm sleeping,
which makes
you sigh loudly,
defeated,
and roll over,
sulking
like the child
you are.

Monday, September 9, 2013

no surrender

you see
in his eyes,
the old man
leaning on his cane
that there is still
life there.
still a soul
inside.
his body has
failed him,
but not
his grin, or
blue lakes
of fire
that still sees
and takes all
of it in.
no retreat,
nor surrender.
another day
gone by.

don't bogart that joint

several of your old
buddies
from back in the day,
back in the old
chain link
hood you grew
up in, still smoke
dope.
they say huh a lot.
or what, I don't
remember that.
they have families,
and some sort
of jobs that provide
enough income to
survive on, but they
still love getting high
as if it was
nineteen sixty nine,
listening to music
and zoning out.
they don't reminisce
much, because so
many brain cells
have died in the onslaught
of bong hits, joints,
and pipes full
of hashish. they like
to sit around,
red eyed, hungry
and laughing, paranoid
about everything,
weaving another plot
of world wide
corporate conspiracy,
the man still
keeping them down.

wrinkle free

your friend gina
wants you to join
a nudist colony with
her. but you say
no. you refuse to
get naked in front
of a bunch of strangers.
you even cover up
with your dog around.
you are just shy
that way, plus you
don't want a certain
part of your body
to be wrinkled
forever, like the rest
of you. your backside
is like a smooth
cool moon of supple
white skin. you'd
like to keep it that
way, untouched by
the sun, or sand,
or creatures that might
want to bite or
nip at it.

cold hand

her cold
hand
is on your
shoulder.
it surprises
you, this
icy palm,
the frigid
fingers.
how does a
hand get
this cold.
it lies
there,
without nails,
without
tenderness.
cold
and detached.
but it's better
than no
hand you tell
yourself,
pulling up
the blankets
with a shiver.

your friends

sometimes
your friends bore you.
but they
are still friends, so
you listen.
you listen again
to the same story
of woe, you
listen until
it's your turn,
which they don't like
to hear.
no one wants advice.
they want
tea and sympathy.
they want ears
to listen to them speak.
no more, no less.
nothing changes,
everything stays the same.

the laughing dog

you see
the dog run across
the street
without
his leash,
the owner
lumbering far
behind
with a plastic
bag
and a small
red shovel.
she is too slow
to catch
the sprinting
beast,
he knows that
and makes a game
of it.
you park your
car
and go in
as she whistles
for the dog,
bending over,
clapping her hands.
and the dog
laughing
upon the hill.

sleep

you savor
the nights when
sleep
is the only
answer for fatigue.
sinking deeply
into the bed,
your head
upon the pillow.
somehow the world
is more clear
the next day.
the troubles
you wrung your
hands over
have eased,
slipping back into
the sea.

to disappear

things
begin to disappear.
the girl
you love,
a shoe,
a coat, a book
you read.
some money.
small things
that you
haven't paid
attention to.
one day
an arm is gone,
a foot,
an ear.
you've let
yourself go,
slowly,
nearly
vanishing into
thin air.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

pumpkin head

you have no use
for pumpkins.
you want your pumpkin
sweetened
in a pie,
or in a cake,
or perhaps even in
a latte, but
you don't want
to carve one out,
digging out the mush
of meat and seeds,
hauling it
home, to roll
around in the trunk.
you don't want
to set it on
the porch with a
candle in it.
it's angled
teeth and hollowed
eyes staring
at you everyday
as you come home
from work.
you've been down
that road before.
no more pumpkins.

text message

a button
snaps off, your fly
is down.
a coffee
stain
has shadowed
your white shirt.
a shoe lace
breaks
as it begins
to rain, and
the trains are
all late.
it's Monday,
as you
pick your
phone up
out of
a deep puddle
as you read
her text
telling you
farewell.

shades of blue

sometimes you lose
interest
in the things
you love.
that cup
of coffee
in the morning.
the ocean
and it's endless
roll of waves.
how blue
the sky is
when fall arrives.
today
and tomorrow have
all blend into
one.
you have turned
several
shades of blue,
which
makes sleep
easier
without you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

the rake

the rake
against
the fence,
leaning,
waiting
patiently
for hands to
curl around it
and pull it
across
the fallen
leaves.
it's been awhile.
it's still
there though.
it's spine
still straight
and strong.
like you,
nothing much
has changed,
at least what
can be seen.

leaving it behind

the axe
in his hands
swung
over his
shoulders
in the mid
day sun
struck
the wood
splitting
it violently
into cords.
all day,
bang, bang
against
the stump.
bang bang
against what
an unjust
world had
dealt him.
it felt
good to take
out his
anger
without
remorse or
reluctance.
and when
the day was
over, he smiled
and kissed
her gently
on the lips,
helping
her
in the kitchen.

let the car in

let
the car
in
before you.
hold the door.
say
thank
you.
smile
and say
hello.
look into
someone's
eyes
and nod
yes.
simple
things
forgotten
as we
stare
into our
phones.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

the wheel barrow of love

enough
is all you
need to get
by. more
than that
just goes to
waste.
enough
food, enough
to drink,
enough
money to
buy you things.
any more
than what
you need causes
problems.
except for
love.
you can never
have enough
of that.
bring the wheel
barrow.
fill it up.

knock on wood

you carry a piece of
hardwood around
with you. a chunk
that fits into
your pocket.
and when people
say how are you,
you say great, then
take out the wood
and knock on it
a few times.
how are things going,
wonderful, you
answer, rapping
on the wood.
your son, your family,
your work. all is
well, you say,
knuckles drumming
the piece of wood.
your girlfriend,
oh great, just great,
you smile, things
couldn't be better.
for this you use
both hands to knock
hard against the wood.
by the end of the day,
your knuckles are
raw and bleeding,
but you feel covered,
you feel content
with how nicely
this is working out.

the grey squirrel

nothing is funny
about pain.
no jokes,
no smiles, no
laughing
can soothe
the ache and
scream of nerves
unhinged.
so you reach
for the good stuff.
the hard
pills with all
the warnings
and pop a few
down, then you
sit in the easy
chair
by the window
and watch the grey
squirrels
race effortlessly
around.
you were a grey
squirrel once.

hands

your hands
stay curled.
covered
in the days
debris.
even in hot
water
they want
to stay put,
ready for work.
it's what
they do.
calloused
and thick,
keeping
the lights on,
the food
on the shelves.
the water
hot, open
as always
for yours.

father and son

the wall,
covered in ivy,
once strong,
but being fragile
now with loose
bricks
and aged
beams holding
it all in place
tumbles
when the earth
moves with
a sudden
jarring shake.
in an instant,
you see
what's behind,
and what's
behind
sees you.
it took years,
and an act
of god,
but now you
finally have a
true glimpse
of one another
and that's a start
despite being
so close to the end.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

what is to come

you didn't ask
for this life.
you were born into
it. the wheels
were already
in motion before
you existed.
every word you've
spoken was
in your mouth
before it came
out, your hands
have only done what
they were meant
to do, your
legs have taken
you where you
were supposed to go.
tomorrow is
written just as
surely as the past
has been read,
there is little
you can do to alter
what is to come.

the rules of war

apparently it's
okay
to kill with bombs
and bullets
and napalm, knives
and swords, etc.
but god forbid
that gas is used.
we need to teach
these heathens a
lesson or two,
teach them
how to kill
the american way.
how dare they kill
in ways that don't
meet our approval.
we need a few
surgical strikes
to show them how
it's done.
how to play within
the rules of
murder
and destruction,
then perhaps
they'll come to
their senses and kill
the way we want
them to.

eco system

she is global
warming,
a storm
on the rise.
you being
the planet she's
heating up.
your ice
caps have melted
under her
toxic touch.
you are flooded
with desire,
you are just
an island
by the time
she's done
with you. wet
and exhausted
in the wind
of her leaving.

fattening up

the first bite
of cool
air across
your face
makes you smile
and think
of food.
it's okay
to eat now.
we must fatten
ourselves
for winter,
if there is one.
better to be
prepared and start
making that
pie, stirring
the stew, stacking
those eggs,
better to get
ready now, then
have to go out
later into
the icy storm.

swimmers

sailors
without a ship
are swimmers.
so what
does that make
you, when
what has carried
you all along,
sinks into
the sea.
survivors,
looking for shore.

new religion

you invent
a new religion,
one that lets
everyone in.
there are no robes.
no candles
or statues.
no stained glass.
you can attend
anywhere,
everywhere
by closing your
eyes.
there is no
hat to pass
around, no guilt
or shame.
no pot luck dinners.
all is forgiven.
you confess
and receive
communion by
breathing. by
letting things go
and by letting
in good.
it's that simple.
no getting up
early anymore
and shining
your shoes for God.
the subway
is your cathedral,
the forest,
the tub,
the front porch,
the line
for coffee.

the table

the table
that wobbles,
one leg slightly
shorter than
the other,
undermines everything.
no matter how
good the food
tastes, or
the company is,
or how well
the conversation
flows, it's
the table that
keeps tilting
that steals
the show.
and the waiter
with his match
book cover
sliding it awkwardly
under knows
about the table,
but doesn't seem
to care
that much, it's
not his day
job, not his
worry, this one
short leg, this
wobbly table
where the drinks
slide side to side.

Monday, September 2, 2013

short cuts

you don't like
to follow or read
directions. what do
they know?
but this makes
it hard to get anywhere
on time.
and cooking
can be a disaster,
you like to throw
in an extra pinch
or spoon of that.
you like butter, more
butter seems
like a good idea.
you like the idea
of a short cut.
life is tailor
made for short cuts.
that desk you put
together, the drawers
stick and the legs
are uneven, but
it's your desk.
it tells the world
who you really are.
different by design.

snapping turtle

like a turtle,
you have a shell
that you duck
into from time
to time. pulling
in your head,
your arms, your
legs and tail.
pretending
not to be home
no matter who
knocks or turns
you over in the sun,
or who calls you
on the phone.
sometimes you
need this time
alone, to be left
where you are,
hopefully right
side up.

witch hazel

she comes
to life
at Halloween.
dressed
in black
with nails
painted red,
her pointed
hat and broom,
finally
a day where
she doesn't
feel out of place,
happy to be
spreading her
curses and spells,
bringing
with a grin
her gloom.

the yard

in the mud
on your knees
kneading the warm
earth.
the tangle
of vines,
and leaves,
the scramble
of rocks and scrub
brush.
trying to bring
a few flowers up.
all of it out
of your control.
the yard
is yours, but
it's not yours.
it seems
to decide what
comes and goes,
lives and dies.
not unlike
so much else
in your life.

taking the bite

the fish,
embarrassed by
biting
the plastic
worm, gives
up and lets
the line pull
him in.
no longer
tugging, swimming
side to side
with all his
might. his world
as he knows
it has ended.
how foolish it
was to take
that bite. now
the warm
sun is on his
rainbow scales,
his lungs
full of air,
drowning
in light.

another year

short
days make
long nights.
the sun
going down
so early,
the moon
sitting high
in the trees.
you push
the window
open and listen
to the heart
of a world
changing, not
unlike
another year
of you.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

romance

it would have worked
out if she hadn't
adopted those
three children
when she turned fifty
from all over the world.
besides those
kids crying in three
different languages
and the commotion
that four year olds
can bring, we would
have stayed together
forever and ever, well
maybe for more than
just the weekend.
and it had little to
do with kids, it
was something else.
something you can't
put your finger on.
maybe it was the falling
down the stairs
after tripping on
a plastic toy truck.

your legs

you have
no desire to learn
more about wine
other than
what taste good.
what won't give
you a headache
after two glasses.
you don't care
what vineyard
it came from,
what country,
what hand
plucked the grapes
and when, it's
all meaningless
details.
you don't want to
sniff
the bouquet,
gargle with a gulp,
look to see
if it's got legs.
you have legs.
you just want a
a cold glass
of chianti
with a bowl
of pasta and let's
talk about
something else.
like us,
for instance,
your legs.

i don't want to go home

you can remember
exactly
the words that
someone spoke
one night in
a bar at three
in the morning
a.m. in nineteen
eighty seven.
down to the pause
the inflection,
and your reply
as you took a sip
of beer from
a miller lite
bottle.
you can still
hear the music
playing, south side
johnny and the Asbury
jukes, i don't
want to go home,
you remember
the girl in the blue
dress that you
were staring
at for most
of the night,
trying to get
your nerve up
to say something
intriguing to her
like hello, you
remember the shoes
you were wearing.
the torn jeans,
the button down
shirt, missing
buttons. you
can remember so
much,
but you can't
find your car
keys that you set
down an hour
ago.