Saturday, November 30, 2013

tickets out the window

there are countries
you will
never set foot in.
cities you will
not walk through,
or sleep
in their beds,
this does not
bother you. you've
seen enough of
the world to know
of it. you've
been everywhere.
you've been nowhere.
it's unimportant
to you.
you are neither
amused nor amazed
by what lies
beyond your shores.
there is no
bucket list to
speak of, no wish
list, or well to
throw a coin in.
here and now seems
fine for the time
being. you throw
your tickets out
the window.

girl on a carousel

talking to your
sister
is often like
talking
to someone on
a carousel,
going round
and round.
you keep waiting
for her to circle
back
to the point
of what you
are talking about.
your patience
is thin,
as you feel
the wind of her
spinning mind
go bye.

untrue

if you tell yourself
enough times
that something
is true, then it
will be.
whether love or
hate, your thoughts
will keep
you there, ashore
on the myth
of what you believe.
it will be hard
to leave
that island.
no swimming alone
will get you far,
no ship appearing
in the distance
will rescue you
from yourself,
you will die
with your feet
in the shifting sands
of who you are,
untrue to your
own self.

as she left them

she left
everything behind.
those shoes
beneath her
bed. those rings
on the dresser.
that dress
on a hanger
on the closet door,
all still there
just where
they were left.
the opened book
turned
over at the last
page read.
her glasses
on the night
stand. a glass
of water
that her lips
last touched,
the pillows just
so, where
she rested
her head.

stand firm

unlike
the weather.
you do not
change.
you stand
still
and firm,
unbending
in wind
and rain.
these storms
will pass
they always
do.
let others
flail
madly in
the turmoil
trying to
change what
they cannot.
but not
you. you've
thrown
your anchor
down. you'll
wait it out.

survival

you download
another slice
of pumpkin
pie into
your belly
which is
warmed by
sweat pants
loosely cinched
at the waist.
finishing
off the can
of whipped cream
with a vigorous
shake
you make a mental
note of what
you need at
the grocery store
when you hear
the last gasp
of air
coughing out
of the cold
can. you hate
yourself for eating
so much,
but you love
pie and what if
it gets really cold
out. you'll need
this extra layer
of fat to survive.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

gold fish

when the small
table in the corner
breaks, the leg
giving
out under
the weight of
a large bowl
of goldfish,
and everything
goes tumbling
to the floor
in a splash,
you wonder which
fish to save
first, if
any, before
the cat pounces
off the sill,
licking her teeth,
in surprised
wonder and glee.

snow ball

it's okay
if it never snows
again. ever.
except maybe on
Fridays,
or Saturday
if it's a long
weekend.
It can snow
in Montana, fine.
or Alaska,
or upstate
new York, they
don't seem
to mind. but you'd
like to put
your shovel
and salt, scrapers
and boots into
permanent storage.
you've had
your share of snow.
it's a wonderful
thing, but you're
done with it
for now.
the only snow you
want to see
is the snow
in this glass
ball you are shaking
with a tiny
sled and house,
and tree inside,
and a little
kid, frozen,
pulling a sled.

who do you know in India

who do you
know in
india, the postman
says, shaking
the package
with the strange
postmarks
on the front.
what's in the box?
you look
at his name tag,
and say
elmer, that's
a rather
personal question.
but if you
must know,
it's generic
vitamins. oh
he says, well,
I hope those work
out for you,
then winks.
why are you winking,
you ask him,
handing over
the slip
of paper and showing
him your ID.
he leans over
the counter and
whispers, hey buddy.
it's fine, really,
it happens to
the best of us
once in a while.
whatever, you say.
taking the box
and striding out
with proper
indignation.

size doesn't matter

I don't care
she says
on the phone,
size doesn't
matter,
fresh
or frozen,
doesn't matter
either,
as long as
it fits
in the oven,
but
we need to
stuff it
and baste
it, etc.,
she says. so
turn
the oven on,
i'm on my way
over, i'll bring
the sweet potatoes
whipped
cream,
and hot buns.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

be good

comb your hair,
son, wipe
your mouth
and brush your
teeth.
pull up
your zipper.
here's your
lunch money,
don't forget
your books,
your homework,
the permission
slip I signed
so that you
can go
to the museum
to see
the dinosaur bones.
now kiss me
and be off
before you
miss the bus.
be good, be good.
be good.

the holiday referee

each holiday
dinner should have
a professional
referee standing
in the corner of
the room, a whistle
in his mouth,
a yellow flag
in his pocket.
one time out per
hour allowed.
ejection for flagrant
fouls
permitted, seating
arrangements
altered when
the game gets
heated. discussion
limited to light
hearted topics,
no reminiscing
about the past,
no old quarrels
brought up, or loud
voices
allowed. cursing
would be punished
by banishment,
as would expelling
food from one's
mouth at another.
the referee would
keep things in order.
make for a pleasant
holiday dinner,
unlike past years.

pill bottles

a row of small
brown jars
plastic
with white
tabs stuck
to the front
neatly wrapped
around
in blue or black
type.
the name
the date
when and where
each
pill was to
be swallowed.
the white
hard lid
screw on tight.
the winged serpent
and sword insignia
stamped
in red to
the right.
all of them lined
up full
of amber
light, awaiting,
like soldiers
the gulp of
water,
then swallow,
the lids going
down
for the night.

the pyramid of bottles

you see a mother
in the liquor store
shaking her slobbering
kid, red cheeked
and blue eyed.
his knees
worn out, his hair
a wired mesh
of blonde curls.
what's wrong with
you, she yells.
don't touch things.
how many times
do I have to tell
you that when we
are in a store.
now look at what you've
done. do you
know how much these
bottles cost?
do you have any
idea how hard I work
to buy things
for you, to take
care of you.
now I'm gong to
have to pay for
all these bottles
that you've broken
and I better have
some money left
for mine. now get
out of that puddle,
your feet
are sloshing in
scotch. good scotch
too.

a line of cars

everyone
is home. the holidays
have begun.
the roads
are less traveled
towards
work,
and now are full
in other
directions.
suitcases
and gifts
wrapped and rattling
in trunks.
the tail lights
glitter
red in a long
snake line
from here to there.
down each
tree of roads,
each thin
vine.

horse in the field

the dead horse
in the field
is found the next
day. the grass
is a blue
frost waiting
for sunlight.
the fence is close
by, the gate
locked. there
is no reason
other than age,
someone says,
shaking her head.
but let's see.
a man from
the barn brings
out a long green
tarp, dragging
it towards
the still shadow
across the cold
ground.
the other horses
stand far
away.

change the sheets

do I look fat
in this big sheet
I'm wearing with
a hole through
the top, she asks
while pouring gravy
over her mashed
potatoes.
no, not at all.
that sheet looks
good on you.
vera wang? I like
the paisley print
too. hides the cranberry
sauce
and sweet potatoes
that you dripped
on it when you had
your first helping.
I'm gong to change
it later, she says.
I bought a whole
other queen set,
one for dessert.
it's an orange color.
ah ha you say,
getting ready for
pumpkin pie, right?

Monday, November 25, 2013

remembering what it was

you came
upstairs for something.
what was it?
you go
from room to room,
scratching your head,
turning
lights on
then off, you open
up the closet,
close it.
you lie down in
bed and stare at
the ceiling fan,
then lean over
to pick up
a new biography
on salinger.
not the kennedy
salinger, but
the other one.
franny and zooey,
that one.
you look at
the pictures first,
staring at
the transformation
of years, from
youthful, lean
and dashing,
to old codger,
bent with white
hair, still hiding
in the light
of who he was.
then you remember.

i'm over here

the unloved,
the unwanted, the
disenfranchised
souls
that wander
the internet
seeking love,
or like or some
form of
lust. they remind
you of the faux
santas
in front of
k mart, ringing
and ringing
their bells.
you too have
rung that bell,
many times.

a can of soup

there is one can
of soup
in your cupboard
that you may have
had for ten
years or more.
chicken noodle.
there is a picture
on the label
with the steam coming
off the spoon, chunks
of chicken
swimming
in broth,
littered with carrots
and what not.
sometimes you'll
pull the can out,
looking for
something else
and stare at it,
spinning it
around to see
if there might be
an expiration
date on it. you
have no memory
of when or why
you bought it. maybe
you had a cold
one day, or a sore
throat and thought
that it might help.
that can of soup
has been a good
friend throughout
the years,
rain and shine,
pain and joy,
a decade of being
together. always there
when you open
the cupboard, who
or what else can
that be said
about in your life.
no one comes to mind.
you almost hate
to open it
even if you were
starving,
ending
this warm and fuzzy
relationship.
you'll keep it where
it is. safe
and sound
behind the orange
uncle ben's quick
rice box.

stepping on a nail

the nail
in your boot
has not
got in all
the way.
it has
stopped
somehow before
piercing
your skin.
a twist
or turn, one
way or the other
a sudden stamp
of foot
harder, then
things would
have been
different. how
often this
is true.

enjoy the ride

your sister' husband
being
nice and kind,
helpful
to a fault helps
your aunt
board the train
back to philly.
he carries her
luggage
onboard and hugs
her goodbye,
but then the train
leaves
the station
with him on it.
there is nothing
he can do
as he runs to
the door, looks
out the window
at the lights
passing by,
the buildings
increasingly
blur. he's taking
an unexpected
trip, like many
of us, we might as
well sit down,
and enjoy the ride.

waiting for visitors

like birds
on a wire, they
line up
as you get off
the elevator.
silent and unsmiling
in wheel chairs,
abandoned souls
who have
out lived
friends
and enemies,
awaiting reluctant
relatives
bringing little
more
than tired hellos,
and boxes
of unwanted
candy. the world
does not
do the end
very well, the smell
of guilt
and regret
is everywhere.
hanging in the air
like a grey cloud.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Know You're There!

there are people
and you know who you
are, who don't like
to answer their phones.
these are special people.
so you have to leave
an agonizing voice mail
explaining why you've
called and when they
call back they haven't
listened to what you
said, but have just hit
dial to ring you up.
these people need to
burn in hell. okay, okay.
very much in need
of coffee. but just pick
up the phone when it rings,
I know you're there.

four hundred dollars

there was always
a big gift
for christmas
when your son
was little.
somehow it
always cost 400
hundred dollars
no matter what piece
of junk it was
later to become.
always.
not unlike taking
your dog
to the vet.
four hundred
dollars, blood
work and stool samples
included
despite having
done that the last
visit and the time
before that.
and the car.
never twenty bucks
for just wipers,
no, you need a
new gadget or you
may die in
a crash on the highway.
400 bucks.
the dentist.
the cleaning and those
awful trays
for whitening.
right. 400 hundred.
that seems to be
the dividing point
on what we'll pay.
no more, no less.
400 hundred dollars.

christmas girl

she was a walking
Christmas
tree
the moment she
sat down
for thanksgiving
dinner.
the red reindeer
sweater, the tinsel
earrings,
the broche that
lit up up
and played
music when you
touched it.
the bangles on both
wrists jingling
like santa's sleigh.
it was open season
on cookies
and eggnog,
a mistletoe
head band twirling
above her
frosted hair,
puckering her
candy cane lips
for whoever crossed
her path.

you are up

you miss
those sleepy dog
mornings
of youth.
lying in bed
until noon,
not quite
done with
the eleven hours
of deep sleep
that you
allotted for
your young self.
now the sun
with it's banging
drum of
light
stirs you awake,
no matter how
deep the mattress
how soft
the pillows,
how gentle
and sweet the soul
is beside you
still dreaming,
you are up.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

come closer

you like
the curve of her,
the shadowed
moon of who
she is, the rise
and fall
of her body,
from her
lips down
to her toes.
she is pale
in the light
and more
so in the dark,
a sheet of paper
whispering
sweet prose
inviting you to
come here,
come closer to me
and write.

table talk

distant
relatives
are not quite distant
enough.
like a cold
wind
they blow
in for the holidays
bearing
not gifts
or words
of wisdom, but
saying things
like what happened
to your hair,
we thought you'd
do better things
with your life
than this,
pass me the gravy.
you don't dislike
these people,
but you aren't
fond of them
either, and you
wonder if perhaps
you were
adopted and of
no blood relation
whatsoever.

loves compromise

the politics
of a relationship
is full of
taking polls,
registering
emotions,
pulling
levers
each day on
what to eat,
or where to go
whose turn it is
to say yes,
or no.
voting, always
voting
with compromise
in mind.
as long
as there is love
and like
and lust
there is just
one side
not two, but
remove one
and the world
comes down.

a life of birds

for most of her
life
she had a bird
or two
canaries
in a small
cage
hanging
in the kitchen
window.
they'd last
a month or so,
a year,
some longer,
some just a day,
an hour.
some whistled
and sang,
others were
silent, yet
still
beautiful
in their strange
yellows
and greens,
brilliant blues
beneath the spread
of their wings.
she'd talk
sweetly
to them,
feeding them
gently,
filling the dish
of water.
each bird
bringing joy,
each death, tears.

ringing bells

the man
in a red soft
hat
in front of the grocery
store
has bells
in each hand.
all day
he rings them
vigorously
as he greets
the shoppers
coming
and going.
a black kettle
strung
on a chain beside
him fills
up with
coins
and bills.
he couldn't be
nicer
despite the annoying
bells.
you wonder how
long
he can keep this
up with
forty more days
to go until
Christmas.

the bookstore

you peruse
the stacks of books
on the tables
near the front
of the bookstore
with sale stickers
freshly pressed
onto the covers.
fifty things or
places, or food
you need to visit
or eat before you
pass away into
eternity. a new
Lincoln biography,
another shade
of grey. a shelf
just for kennedy
and Oswald.
eat this and live
longer, one book
says, with a bright
red photo of
a radish on
the front. drink
this and be smarter
another says,
a glass of water
gleaming in
a bright light
over someone's
hand. slowly you
wind your way
through the aisles,
past the magazines
and hats, and kindles,
and movies
to finally find
the slender shelf
of poetry hidden
deep within
us all.

Friday, November 22, 2013

the sheriff is coming

the sheriff is coming,
you hear
one sister say
to another, trembling
on the phone.
the sheriff
will be here
today. this means
that your other
sister is flying
into town.
the streets empty,
the foolish ones
scatter and hide
behind their curtains.
there will be hell
to pay when the dust
settles and she sees
what's going on here.
she will take no
prisoners. the sheriff
is coming. there
will be no parade.

how to make gravy

you put on
your pilgrim hat
with the large
buckle around
the brim,
your boots
and blousy
white shirt.
it's turkey
killing time
once again.
bring back a fat
one jonathan
your wife
yells at you
as you grab
your musket
and hatchet.
oh, and knock
on your sister's
thatched hut
door, if you
don't mind, she's
the only one around
this village
that knows
how to make
real gravy. she
can't make
a pumpkin pie worth
a damn, but
she knows her
gravy.
i need the recipe.
and don't tell her
what I said
about her pies.

with open arms

this isn't what
you planned for.
slipping
away into the sea.
ice into water,
melting slowly
into the whole
of what is
and what will be.
the ocean neither
forgives, nor
remembers what
comes to it, but
accepts all
with open
arms and mystery.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

chain chain chain

at night
you hear the music
coming from
the house next
door,
chain chain
chain,
chain of fools.
Aretha
belting it out.
you peek
out the window
and see
the old
woman in her
apron, holding
a spatula
to her mouth
like a microphone,
dancing with
her dogs.
she spins around,
as
the dogs leap
and bark
around her feet.
you love her
and want
to marry her.

your room

a place
to be, a room
to call
your own.
it's down to this.
a bed, a blanket,
a pillow
and a tray
of food.
a t.v.
on the wall, a
sheet hung
to divide
the room
in two.
no luggage
at the ready,
no coat
or hat hung
on the door,
no maps to
tell you where
you're going
anymore.
this is it.
a place
to be, a room
to call
your own.

fresh air

driving home
you smell something
strange.
it's the smell
of sickness
the taint
of hospital
gowns and wipes,
hand sanitizers
and shoes
set by the bedside.
life gone
stale is with you.
it's in your hair,
your clothes
on the tips of
your fingers.
you want to take
the top off
of that building
and let the wind
in, let the stars
and moon
rain down
with light. you
want fresh air
to fill their lungs.
you want the birds
to land
on the beds,
you want meteors
to flash
in front of the dying
eyes, to tell
them, that is
everything is fine,
everything will
be alright.

the queen

she's playing
chess
while you play
checkers.
always
a jump or two
ahead of
you.
she takes her
time, staring
long
at the board
while you
tap your foot
and drink
your wine.
she protects
her queen
more than her
king. it's who
she is
and why she
keeps winning,
just
as you want
it to be.

side dishes

you pull your
empty cart up
to the chilled
meat section
to ponder
the frozen turkey
bin, there
are dozens of
white smooth
birds wrapped
in red fish net
stockings.
your mind wanders,
it drifts
to a woman you
used to know.
you need
stuffing,
and potatoes,
don't forget
the gravy,
a side dish
or two,
excuse me someone
says, bumping
into your
cart, but
are you going
to stand there
all day
and stare at
those birds.
the word cranberries
comes out
of your mouth,
for no reason.

dessert

the nurse,
in a maroon
jump suit,
her hair done
in Christmas
curls,
is doing
her nails
next to the heart
machine
that glows
with numbers
in a variety
of colors.
she looks at
her watch,
then peels
back a small
plastic container
of apple sauce,
pushing aside
the untouched
ham
sandwich.
she looks out
the window
as a plane goes
by, low
in the grey clouds.
she dips the
plastic spoon
into the thin
mush
and brings it
to someone's lips,
looking
at a chart
to find her name.

on hold

your feet
are cold.
your hands,
your heart.
there's frost
on the windows.
the paper
is ice cold
as you bend
down with
the door open
to retrieve
it from
the porch.
the news is
cold. the dead
are cold.
the dog
feels the wind
and retreats
back inside.
everything
in this weather
is on hold.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

wanting out

we are all
strangers,
out contempt
and love
for one another
often hidden
beneath
the surface
of our days.
unspoken words
fill the room,
darkened
by the shuttered
windows
that keep
the light out.
we hang beauty
on the wall,
line the floors
with bright
woven rugs,
put silver
on the table,
but who we are
lies quiet
in the tightly
locked drawer,
the secrets
whispering
wanting out.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

the fallen leaf

you've had
enough sadness
for one day.
you take the next
off.
you don't clock
in.
you stay away
from the phone.
the e mails
and text messages
pile up
with beeps
and flashes
of blue light.
the hollow
knock at
the front door
is ignored.
you sweep
the world into
a corner
and find a chair
to sit in,
you find a
book, a song
to listen to.
a stiff drink
with the bottle
nearby.
out the window
you follow
the air borne
path of a yellow
leaf falling.

sharpening knives

the sisters
are sharpening their
knives.
their eyes
gleaming
in the fire
and pot that
boils in front
of them.
there is cutting
to be done.
soured
on each other's
whims
and quirks,
itching
to get at the fight,
to decide once
and for all
something
indiscernible
not only
to them, but
to all those
around them.

vincent's ear

you sympathize with
Vincent,
his self portrait
with bandage
around his head.
he looks cold
and miserable,
unshaven,
taking great
pains to show
the pain of his
lost love
and ear.
why the ear though?
why not a toe,
or a little
finger,
a tooth perhaps,
a lock of hair?
what significance
was the ear,
was it
the one she whispered
her false love
into, the one
she nibbled
while the fire
roared at their
bare feet, was it
the one she talked
incessantly
into about
her mother
or her knitting
circle
where she was making
his winter
scarf?

fools gold

the talk comes
around to money.
what's left.
who will pay for what.
who will chip
in and help.
is there any
hidden
in a jar, in a hole
dug deep
within the cold
yard.
who has the money.
where is the secret
bank account.
where and when
will the money show.
is it real
money, or loose
change between the
cushions,
fallen coins
with heads or
tails showing up.
some come with shovels
in hand,
others, with
flashlights to scour
the cupboards,
the floor boards
that they pry open
with hopeful tools.
where is the money?

in the window

the dog
sits near
her slippers,
near the window
staring out
waiting
for things to
change,
for a car to
pull up
bringing her
back home,
knowing
and not knowing
how the world
spins
outside of
his own short
life.
there is little
that he needs,
food, water,
affection.
a hand
on his warm
brown. the absence
of her
will fade,
one hopes, but
doubts.

Monday, November 18, 2013

the juggler

with three pins
in the air,
the juggler
asks for more.
tossing
them high
into the clouds,
spinning upwards
into the light.
this can't
last for long
you think,
spotting
the fear in his
eyes, the sweat
on his brow.
it's just a matter
of time,
before life
will come
crashing down.

be still heart

be still
heart.
enough beats
have
drummed
your life
ahead.
rest now
and be free
of what
ails
you. sing
and dance
on the sinking
ship
of your
body.
the party
has just
begun.
drink
the new wine
of
the next life.
eat at
the feast
of forever.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

the clothes line

the tight
line, from
pole to pole
across
the beaten
lawn, the dirt
row
where the dog
ran back
and forth
barking all
day.
and the basket
at her
feet, pinning
clothes
to the line,
wringing out
the water, snapping
them in
the air before
hanging
them to dry
in the breeze
under the young sun
of her youth.

vanilla pudding

you break off
a piece
of white bread,
a tiny sliver
of grey
hospital turkey,
you move
it towards
her mouth,
she opens.
a bird small
and weak
in the nest
of pillows
and white sheets.
more, you ask,
making her nod
no, no.
but then a spoon
of pudding
touches
her lips
and she smiles,
and nods
yes, opening
as wide
as she can
with laughing
eyes.

day in day out

the cows
in the field
don't care.
they chew
and chew
all day.
lying down
at night
to sleep
and dream of
standing,
of chewing more.
they stare
with wide
brown eyes as
the cars ride
by, children
pointing
with their
short arms. saying
look, cows.
do you see them?
look at
the cows.
and the tails
wag softly
in the summer sun.

gum world

gum stuck
to your shoe.
under
the table,
on the bed post.
gum
in her hair,
on a coat
sleeve, gum
snapped
loudly
in a mouth.
gum, smoothed
out and
blown into
a bubble.
purple gum,
orange gum.
on the bus seat.
gum
on the subway.
wads of gum
turned
grey.
chewed and spat
out,
flicked out
a car window
by the tip
of a finger.
gum stuck to a
moose's head.
put five pieces
in your mouth
and chew. be
a fool,
no one's
looking, why
not.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

brushing her hair

even now
at 84, her hair
as thick
and lush
as it was at 30 or
40.
silver and white,
brushed
back by a nurse,
a stranger's
hands,
not unlike
the same hands
that handed
her over
to her mother
so long ago
who then gently
brushed
to the side
the black locks
for the first
time.

borrowing three eggs

there was a time
when your
mother would send
you across
the street to borrow
a cup of sugar,
or three eggs,
from the neighbor
that you knew only
as Lillian.
she was the go to place
for things
that we lacked.
go wash her car,
your mother would
say, cut her lawn,
shovel
her snow. it all
evened out
somehow as you
felt the warm
cup cake in your
mouth, icing on
your chin. happiness
in small crumbs
cascading down
your shirt.

expired meters

the disappointment line
is long,
it winds out the door
and down
the block.
people are standing
in line
with their
papers, their lists
of complaints
and sorrows wanting
to know how
things went wrong,
how they ended up
here, and not there,
despite good intentions.
bad marriages, jobs
gone wrong, kids
set free like balloons
cast into wild
winds. how did
this happen, they
ask when they arrive
at the window.
why me. how could
this have possibly
happened to me. but
there is no answer,
but why not as the
parking meters expire
where they parked
their cars, tickets
slipped under
the wipers.

Friday, November 15, 2013

passing through

the room
was small. a
hard bed
against
the wall
facing a window.
a thin
trace
of curtains
hung
short of the sill
hardly blocking
the sharpness
of a winter sun
glistening
against the trains
idling
in the rail yard.
a photo
of a couple
in sepia
long past, you
are sure, not
smiling, but certain
about their love,
is on the dresser
where a
mirror and a
hairbrush rests.
no television,
no radio.
this room will do
you tell
the woman, holding
the key.
she hands it to
you. bathroom
down the hall
she says. we
like to keep it
quiet,then leaves.

nice hat

the mail man
is tired of saying
hello.
the leather
satchel
sags on his
back. an eskimo
styled hat is
tilted on
his head
and his gloves
are worn thin.
how are you,
you ask him
as he hands you
your mail.
what are you,
a doctor, he says.
how the hell
do you think I
am? he then
moves on
to the next house,
before you can
even tell him
nice hat.

the lost poem

you can't remember
the poem
you were going
to write, so
you write this
one instead.
it was so full of
metaphor and light,
the words
rolled off your
tongue as you
drove along
the highway.
how could you possibly
forget, but
alas, you did,
so this is all
you get.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

this circle

it circles back
this cruel
and beautiful
life.
from child
into child
and the strange
struggle
and joy
of the years
tucked
in between.

no coffee maker

your car
talks to you
now.
giving you
subtle
whispers
informing
you
of the air
pressure
in your tires.
the small yellow
wrench
says i'm
thirsty
in need of oil,
or gas,
and that
beep beep
beep means
you are swerving
out of lane
or you are
too close to
the bumper
in front of you.
the seats
are warm,
the phone is
answered
directions
given, the radio
refreshes
your memory
with commercial
free music
of days long past,
but still no coffee
maker
to be found.

is that all you got?

always the skeptic,
Thomas was known for
saying to Jesus,
is that all you got?
water into fresca,
what's the big whoop.
what about some
pinot noir from down
in the valley?
we're at a wedding here,
not a sock hop.
and that walking on
water thing you're
doing, if i had a pair
of those wide cork
sandals, i'd be skating
across the sea
of galilee too. how
about flying over
the lake, let's see
you do that, mr.
big shot. and raising
lazarus from the dead,
nice, but try getting
Peter to stop snoring
when were camping out
sometimes, now that
would be a miracle
we'd all enjoy. we need
more Jesus if you
want to know the truth,
and yes, yes, I know,
don't tell me again,
the truth will
set us free.

room 206 C

the hospital
is a low block
of bricks
set grey
and brown
next to a gas
station,
and a fried
chicken joint.
you enter
through the emergency
room door,
all doors
looking the same
with very little
signage to
tell you where
to enter.
a small crowded
room
of very sick
and injured
people look up
as the whoosh
of wind and the sliding
door opens.
there is nothing
you can do
to help them
despite the longing
in their eyes.
you push
forward to room
206 C. there
is grieving to
be done
in other places.

three leaves

for hours
you listen to
the heavy drone
of a man
in front
of your house
with a leaf
blower.
he's wearing
a purple hoodie,
and gloves,
sunglasses
and boots.
slowly, inch
by inch he's
moving
across the lawn
of the public
area.
finally you can't
take it anymore
and go outside
to pick up
the three leaves
he is blowing
towards
the truck.
he thanks you,
turning
of his turbine
machine,
and smiles, what
will I do now
he says,
looking at his
watch.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

the split seams

the wallpaper
once new
and smooth,
with a glossy sheen
is cracked
and torn,
brittle at the edges.
it can't be
fixed
or repaired.
the steam of
a dozen years
has split
the pattern.
the rose is no
longer a rose
by half.
the stem
and vines are
broken.
where it joined
together
it has fallen
free. so quickly
it seems
that love
falls apart when
once so new
so clean.

temptation

it's tempting,
walking out onto
the frozen pond
to see if you can
get to the other
side without it
cracking and you
falling in.
death is a clear
possibility,
or being up to
your neck in
ice water with no
way out.
but it looks so
easy, the sun
high in the blue
sky reflecting
against the mirror
of ice. how
quickly you could
glide and slide
across it. fun.
gently you tap
the edge with your
boot, wondering,
should I.

it is what it is?

we fall into
a pattern
of having our
own catch phrases,
never original
or new, or
fresh, but
things heard
at some point
and absorbed
through cultural
osmosis.
awesome, she
likes to say
when anything
is agreed upon.
or super,
or perfect
and exactly when
giving
affirmation
to something
said. or loudly,
really,
really? she likes
to express
with eyes wide
open, expressing
disbelief,
repeating oh
really? hands
on her hips
and then it is
what it is
to end the conversation,
closing the door
on any further
discussion.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the plumber

she falls
in love with
a plumber
and makes
the easy jokes
about
laying pipes
and fittings,
plunging
and soldering
joints
together, but
he wearies
of the humor
his hands
cut and dirty
from a days
work.
when he gets
home he wants
to lie
down
in a clean
bed and listen
to music
not the drip
drip drip
of her voice
against
the chrome
drain of his mind.

last words

i'm not really
your mother, i'm your
sister's friend
lily.
I left
all my money
to my cats, sorry,
perhaps if you
had been
a nicer son
and visited once
in a while
things would have
been different.
if you
look into
the safe that's
in the wall
behind the portrait
of your father
you'll find
nothing,
all the jewelry
is at
the pawn shop
except for these
diamonds
on my ears,
and they're going
down with me.
now if you'll
excuse me my shows
are coming
on. i'd like to
see them one more
time before
I expire.

Monday, November 11, 2013

old dogs

the old
dog
stepping gingerly
down
the hard wood
stairs
paws
slipping
under heavy
hips,
the puppy
in him wanting
to be
young again,
to chase
the ball
to run.
to bury
the bone,
to bark and
howl
at every moon
to lie
lazily
once more
in the mid
day sun.

wino world

by the second
or third squared
circle
of wine pourers
you develop
a headache
in the hot
sun. you feel
woozy and beached
by bad wine,
and being
jostled
by eager
and greedy tasters.
all with
red faces,
holding small
gift glasses,
wanting more,
another spoonful
of pinot
or chardonnay,
malbec
or merlot
to swallow
or spit out, nodding
their approval,
saying, yes, ah
yes. I like
that one.
let's try the apricot
dessert
wine now, they
say, elbowing
their way
towards the box
with a spigot.

out of season

a chattering
bird
on the sill
looking
in
with a twig
in her
mouth.
somehow
confused
by the seasons,
looking
to build
a nest
with this
chill
in the air.
can you help
a sparrow
out, she
seems to be
saying,
shaking
her grey head
before
flying off
into
the snow
flurries.

sugar kids

the sugar
filled kids, with
blue eyes
rolling in their
heads
like the wheels
in a slot
machine.
they scurry about
with
sharp teeth,
drooling and
banging the dog's
head like
a drum with sticks
brought in from
the yard.
their red cheeks
puffed out
like apples,
the chilled
wind stuck
in the hollows
of their small
pink lungs.
round and round
they go,
each trip
counted by a scream.
so you wait
before going
back to work
for a door to open
and for them
to fly out.

the number two pencil

the number two
pencil
rules the world.
marking
each test
with curled
nervous hands.
they get
stuck behind
an ear, or nibbled
upon with
chattering teeth as
one ponders
the answer
to a tough question.
long and thin,
school bus yellow,
the number two
is the only
one to use.
too bad for number one
or three, or
four if they
even do exist.
where are they?
stuck in some dusty
boxes in a warehouse?
never being called
upon.
who knows, who
cares about those
loser pencils.
just give me
a number two pencil
with a good
eraser and i'm
good to go.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

unkind thoughts

some people are
always late.
tell them, i'll
meet you at five,
and they don't
arrive until
five twenty.
tell them five
twenty, then they
might show
up at six.
it's a constant
being late
with them. a
game they play
pretending to be
busy. who
isn't. they laugh
at their own
lateness. it's
funny to them,
it's who I am,
they say, proud
of making people
wait. you just sigh
and check your
watch, hum
quietly to yourself
and say,
serenity now,
tapping your
fingers on
the table, thinking
unkind thoughts.

the helen keller bistro

it was a dark restaurant.
so dark
that they give you
a seeing eye dog,
a white cane
and a miner's
helmet so that you
can navigate
around the tightly
placed tables.
small candles
are lit on
each table top,
fluttering their
one inch wick
with a wavy yellow
flame.
can you read this
you say to your
friend betty, does
that say, crab soup,
or catsup?
it's blurry, I
can't read it.
I don't know she says,
holding the menu
up to her helmet
light. there's
a picture of a
hamburger I think
on here, or maybe
it's a hat, not sure,
but i'm going to have
that, the hamburger
or the hat, i'll
eat either one, i'm
that hungry.
me too, you say, but
i'll have cheese on
mine, do you see
the word cheese anywhere?
I can't see any prices
either. the print
is so small. can
you see the wine list?
no, she says, but
i'm getting a headache,
it's so dark in here.
I think I just heard
a bat fly over my head.
let's ask the waiter,
here comes one now,
I think, or maybe
it's a customer,
or Dracula coming to
kill us. strike him
with your cane,
and ask him what kind
of wine they have.

Friday, November 8, 2013

hot sauce

nothing lasts forever,
she sighs
wiping a tear
from her eye. she
rubs her finger
where the wedding
band used
to be, and looks
off into the distance
where a dark line
of clouds
has settled in
for the late
afternoon.
what about hot sauce,
you say to her.
I still have the first
bottle of hot
sauce I ever bought
when I got married
in the 70's.
what, she says,
turning to look at
you. did you say
something. no, you
say. nothing.
just mumbling to
myself. go on,
you were saying...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

magic time

the world
seems to need
ghosts
and apparitions.
spells
and witches,
big footed
monsters
roaming the woods.
it needs
aliens
in saucers,
loch ness
monsters,
the world needs
mystery
and wonder,
conspiracies
and plots,
it needs
magic, for
without it,
it's nine to five,
and just another
day alive.

empty boxes

a store
selling empty
boxes
and containers,
shelves
and webbed
baskets
has replaced
the book
store.
mark twain is
gone.
Hemmingway
and
plath.
Whitman has
disappeared
into
the leaves
of grass.
holden is lost,
no longer
catching
children
in the rye.

financial advice

you talk with your
financial
advisor, betty,
who has an office
over a Chinese
restaurant
in the city.
she tells you
that according
to what you've
saved and earned
over the past
four decades
that you need
three million
more dollars
in addition to
the three hundred
dollars in your
passbook savings
account to retire
and live a normal
life.
define normal, you
ask betty. she
taps a pencil
on her desk
and shrugs, I don't
know. food, clothing
shelter. that
sort of thing.
hmmm. you say
smelling the Chinese
food frying
in the room
below betty's office,
making you hungry.
how about this she
says, pulling her
chair closer
to the desk. you need
to meet a really
really rich woman
with a heart condition,
marry her, and
voila. she smiles,
her hands out, waiting
for you to laugh
along with her.
how much do I pay you,
betty, you ask
her. nothing, she
tells you, we're
friends remember?
right. lunch?
i'm starving for
some crispy beef
and a few egg rolls.
yeah, she says, a few
mai tais would be
nice too.

the unloved

are the unwashed
and drifting
unloved,
or are they
unloved
because of that.
it's hard to say.
for even
those on a straight
and narrow
with hot water
and soap
seem to be having
a tough go
at love as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

tea talk

she says,
whispering to me,
leaning over
two cups
of hot tea,
they have everything
but they aren't
happy. everything.
she pours in a dollop
of cream,
sprinkles a packet
of splenda and stirs
her cup.
they both own
bmw's.
she shakes her
head, and lights
a cigarette,
blowing a cloud
of light
blue smoke towards
the ceiling.
you don't mind if
I smoke do you?
she liked to buy
pop art, she says,
smirking. can you
imagine, tomato
cans and what not.
flower pots.
who puts that on
the wall these days.
he cheats on her
to make up for her
bad choices in art,
she says, widening
her eyes, then
begins to laugh,
i'm sorry, she says
picking off
a piece of lint
from her blue
dress.
I just thought of
something funny.
pop art, pop tarts.
it sort of all
makes sense now,
don't you think?

angels with trumpets

a baby crying
catches your ear.
you don't
see the baby,
as you look
around the store,
but you remember
that sound,
coming from
a crib
up the stairs
in a pale
blue room, with
a spinning
mobile of
angels
with gold trumpets
above him.

bossy town

the whole
day, people keep
telling you
to have a good
one. have a nice
day, they say
handing you your
coffee, or bagel
with cream cheese,
all of these people
bossing you around.
the toll booth operator,
the bum on the street
asking for
a quarter.
maybe you don't want
to have a nice
day, did they
ever think that
as they make
their awful demands on
you. sometimes
they tell you what
to wear too, bundle
up before you go
out there, cold out.
or stay dry, it
looks like rain,
better bring an umbrella.
could be a down pour.
shut up.
who are these
bossy people and
what gives them
the right to tell
you how to live your life.
you're not the boss
of me, you want to tell
every one of them
as they smile
cheerfully, trying
to boss you around.

all your friends are there

you hate
facebook, okay hate
may be too strong of a word,
but it's a painful
thing to view
on a day to day basis.
it's not how shallow
and trivial
it is, it's something else.
it's not the pathetic
yearning of those
without real lives,
or the posted
cakes, the photos
of babies,
the vacations out
of state. it's something
else. the nosiness
of it all, perhaps.
the voyeuristic nature
of it all. the baby
bragging, the look at
me, look at me. please
look at me idea
of it all. so
don't poke me,
don't e mail me there,
don't tag me
in a stupid photo. I
still don't want to
go to the high school
reunion, jimmy, whoever
you are,
and no, I don't want
to be your friend
because we know someone
that we used to know.
if we are friends we'll
get together
and have dinner, and we
won't take a photo
of what we are eating,
where we are going,
and what we wore.
we will talk like human
beings, face to face.
remember those days?

lawn competition

you look out your window
and see how
wonderful your neighbor's
lawn looks.
green and lush, a golf
course without
the holes and flags,
the sand traps and rough.
then you look at yours.
at the bramble, the rusted
bikes and tires.
that old dodge dart
with the hood up
on the edge of the
driveway.
but you like your yard.
the weeds and what not.
this is not a competition.
and when you hear his
wife yelling at him for
not pruning the roses
or trimming the tree,
or for using too much
mulch along the path,
you smile and feel good
that you've done things
with your lawn in your
own thoughtful way.

the ding dong day

vote, please
vote, everyone says.
this election
will change everything.
be a good citizen
and vote.
you can't complain
if you don't.
our future is at
stake, our children's
future,
the world will be
a better place,
the sky will become
bluer, the sun
brighter.
vote, please come
down and make your
case. pull the lever,
then proudly wear
that flag sticker around
the whole
ding dong day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

going home

you leave
a trail of bread
crumbs
to find
your way home.
by the end
of the day, half
have been eaten
or tossed
around so that
you are no longer
on track
but lost
and knocking on
a stranger's door,
asking
for directions,
for help
to get you
where you need
to go. but it's
too late in
the day,
you have to start
over. you are
unafraid,
it's what you
do best.

retreating

frost
building his
wall
salinger his fence
still hearing
the mortars
going off,
the silent
monk
climbing
his perch
to hum out
his days,
garbo
without words,
to each
his own
goodbye to a world
gone sour
that must
be lived in,
finding a way
to retreat
and yet not
surrender.

bring lunch

they keep finding
planets
that might hold
life, that we
may be able to survive
on, if we bring
air food and water.
this world is
almost done,
so we'd better
get going, it's
only three thousand
light years
away. we could be
there in three
generations
if we leave now.
start packing,
i'll warm up
the ship. wear
something loose
and comfortable,
it could take awhile,
bring a lunch.

rodeo blues

you don't like
the rodeo. you don't
understand
it. why
the violence,
the tackling
and roping
of animals
for the joy
of others,
their dark eyes
full of fear.
it reminds you
too much of
people caught
and bound by their
own lives.
branded
and bullied into
pens
they want to
flee from.

as you left it

you leave home,
and return.
you leave home
again
the next day,
and once again
you come back
that evening.
this goes on
and on.
everything is always
just as you
left it.
the pillow
with your imprint,
the unlit candle
cold
in the window.
the mail still on
the floor
after falling
through the slot.
it wasn't always
this way though.
it's hard to decide
which is
better.

Monday, November 4, 2013

winter stew

the food cooking
on the stove
fills the room.
the meat
and onions,
potatoes,
carrots all
blending in a cloud
of warmth
and comfort.
it takes less
and less
to make you happy,
to keep
you coming back.
this stew
being one of them,
her arms
around you,
another.

the great wide lawn

with each
pass
of the lawn mower
the man
stops
to wipe his
brow.
the sun
high above
him. he checks
his watch,
the machine
still
on and churning,
then pushes
forward.
all afternoon
he criss crosses
his great
yard,
year into year.
the grass
never ending
it's cycle
of growth. his
wife looks
out the window
to watch
him. they've
always wanted
a lawn
like this,
and now they have
it, and it
them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ice it down

your knee
makes a noise
when you get up
from reading
the paper,
or a book
for an hour
or so, it's
a slight crackling
sound, like
wood snapping
in a fire.
it hurts a little
at first,
but after a few
steps towards
the kitchen
it feels better.
sometimes you
take an ice cube
and rub it on
the place where it
hurts,
and other times
you put the ice
cube into a small
glass where you
pour vodka
on top of it before
heading back
to the couch.

the pin wheel

spin spin spin
this pin wheel
in a child's
small hand.
the red
thin plastic
whirring
like time itself,
the seconds
going by
turning into years.
spin spin spin
how quickly
this moment will
pass by.

down the road

like air
from a tire
punctured by a
random
nail
on the road
you are losing
air, slowly,
the tread
of you
softening
as you continue
down
the highway,
but you keep
going,
there are no
exits
you want to
take just yet,
maybe around
the next turn,
down the road,
but for now
you keep on
rolling,
you still
have time.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

moderation

moderation
in all
things.
food drink
sex
and money.
perhaps.
love being
the exception.
forgiveness
and compassion
being others.
it's hard
being good,
harder still
being
moderate.

loretta's in the pool

a detective comes
to your house, he
has a boxer's nose,
you can see as you both
look through the peep
hole at the same time.
he knocks hard
and decisively, again
and again, on your door,
drowsily, you open it up,
peering out into
the early morning sun.
yes, you say, can I
help you. he holds out his
badge and identification,
i need to ask you a
few questions, he says,
pushing his way in,
sure you say, sure.
what? what questions?
can i sit, he says.
sure, you say, pointing
at the table. sit down.
i'm having coffee, care
for a cup. he takes his
hat off and sits
at the table,
black he says,
pulling out a folder
of photos.
you bring him his coffee
and sit down with him
at the table. what's this
all about, you ask
squinting over
the edge of your hot
cup. he slides the folder
in front of you,
showing you a large
glossy photo of a man
sleeping in a lounge
chair near a pool.
do you recognize this man,
you laugh, sure i do.
that's me. who took
this picture, it's me.
we can't find him, he
says. we've looked everywhere.
you laugh again. i'm him.
you found your man.
that's me in the picture.
we suspect foul play,
he says, so if you have
any information, please
feel free to tell us.
but i'm him, i am the guy
in the photo. don't you
see? we think a woman may
be involved, a brunette
with a scar on her cheek.
a tattoo of a rose on
her ankle. her name might
be loretta.
oh, yeah, i used to date
her. she tried to cut
me once with a steak knife
and once sprinkled rat
poison in my scrambled eggs.
crazy as a loon.
well, she's on the run too.
both of them. they may
have robbed a bank
together. look, you tell
him, that is me, and i'm
alive and i haven't seen
that woman in years. i would
never rob a bank, so let's
just quit this charade and
end this. i must ask you to
leave, I have to go to work.
you have a pool? he asks.
yes, out back. may i take
a look? sure, be my guest,
but then you have to leave,
unless you have a warrant.
I really have to get to work.
he walks over to the sliding
glass door and looks out
at the pool.
who's that floating
in the pool, he says, lighting
a cigarette. you rush over
and pull back the curtain.
i don't know, but it looks
like Loretta. what the hell?
we need to fish her
out, he says. get her
down to the lab.
go ahead son, go about your
day, go to work.
i'll have the boys come
in and comb the place for
prints and evidence. we
know where to find you.
i'm going to leave
a photo of this man
with you, and if you
see him, call me at
my number, here's my
card. the second you see
this man, call me, don't take
any chances, he's very
dangerous. you shake your head.
sure, you say, whatever.

she likes to move

she likes
to move.
packing her bags
and boxes.
marking each one,
kitchen,
or bedroom,
storage,
or attic.
she stands at
the window
and quietly says
goodbye.
every year she
finds a new
place to live.
to sleep
and eat, and
worry.
it keeps her
interested
in the world,
the constant of
change,
of hope that
the next place will
be the one.

Friday, November 1, 2013

accepting rain

you like people
who can ignore
and accept
the rain.
they take no
shelter
as it falls
and soaks
them to the bone.
there is no
hurry in their
footsteps,
no seeking shelter
in front
of a store,
they keep walking,
hands in
their pockets,
to where they need
to be,
rain, shine, it's
all the same
to them. you like
that in a person.

a poem for you

you bite
into my poem
and blood
runs down
the corners
of your mouth.
you toss it
back and forth,
breaking
its will.
shaking the life
out of it.
you want to
know what hides
inside,
is it empty,
or full of more
thoughtless
lies.
you chew the corners
from the page,
tossing
the shreds
up into the air.
you turn my
hurried
art into
confetti, unhappy
with
the words
I slaved over
for three
minutes.

the good book

the thick
book comforts you.
slowly
turning each
page,
not wanting it
to end too
soon.
you want to savor
the middle,
the beginning
and end.
it waits for
you
at the end of
a day.
on the night stand,
next to
the lamp.
in reaching
distance
for your tired
hand.

down goes svetlana

you have no
money, she tells you
in a long
broken English
e mail.
you imagine her
sitting
with a white
poodle in her lap,
staring out
the window
of her country
estate, looking
lovingly
at her black
Mercedes sports
car. you are short
and bald too
and you don't
know how
to please a woman.
I can no
longer see you.
I am, how you
say, breaking up
with you
and your silly
ways. I want a man
in my life,
not a boy
playing boy games.
you are a smart
aleck, is that
the term? and
a child, do not
communicate with me
any further.
goodbye. and one
more thing, you left
your shoes here,
which I will throw
away, since they are
unpolished, cheap
and old like you.