Friday, January 31, 2014

pressing on

you notice
his broken teeth
first.
then the way one eye
won't follow.
he was a child
once.
held in a mother's
arms, sung to
with a sweet whispered
lullaby.
once he was without
this coat
of dust
and soil.
the hatchet lines
of weather
upon his face.
how can you not
put something in his
hand
when passing by.
and yet
you press on.

empty shells

the empty shells
upon the beach,
pink hued
like sunsets,
feathered white
and brown.
lifeless in their
hard beauty.
the sheen
of ocean wear upon
their skin.
unbreathing,
yet not without voice
as you cup
one to your
ear. how often
you understand more
by what's not
being said,
than what is.

self improvement list

you make a list
of how you can better
yourself this year.
you get a pen,
a clean sheet of white
paper, a cup
of coffee. you
move the table
a few inches
closer to the window
for better light
and to see
the birds pecking
at the bird feeder.
then you forget
to put the clothes
in the dryer.
finally back at
your seat you stare
at the paper.
the dog starts barking
though when the mail
man comes up
the sidewalk.
the mail pops
through the slot
on the front door
and hits the floor.
you check that to
see if anyone has
died and left you a
million dollars.
nope, so back to the
table to make
your list. this
is harder than it
looks, you think.
what can I possibly
improve. maybe you
can add more fiber
to your diet. yeah.
that's going on
the list. you write
that down next to a
big number one.
hmmm. what else.
you stare
out the window at
the bird feeder.
a big fat blue
jay is bossing all
the other birds around.
finally
you surrender and ball
the paper up.
you gave it a shot.
you feel
pretty good about
things, being so
perfect.

all is forgiven


I was raised
catholic, she tells
you, rubbing the knuckles
on her hand,
then taking a stiff
drink of
gin to her lips.
but I don't believe
in god anymore. so
what do you believe
in, you ask her.
I'm not sure, but
it's hard for me
to believe
that bad people
can still get into
heaven with a last
second confession
and statement
of faith. that means
hitler oculd be in
heaven, or Charles
manson, or my next
door neighbor jimmy.
jimmy, you say, raising
your eyebrows.
yeah, he was cutting
his grass the other
day and mowed down
all of my flowers
that I planted
last spring.
he could be there too,
she says, shaking
her head with
utter amazement. I
don't want to be
in heaven if he's
there too.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

two our father's and three hail mary's

you over hear
the priest at the church
saying to another
priest, is it too
early to start drinking.
which makes
the other priest
laugh and laugh.
you must be
on confession duty,
he says. yup.
just did three
hours. heard
some good ones today.
you won't believe
what's going on out
there. the things
these people are up
to is amazing, although.
I'm not shocked
by anything anymore.
I feel like handing
out bars of soap
along with penance.
I hear you, brother.
we should write a
book. yeah, or do
a reality tv show.
we really should cash
in on this stuff.
it's gold I tell you.
gold.

the clues

when the end
is near
the conversations
get shorter
and testy.
she suddenly hates
what you're reading,
your taste
in clothes
and food are mocked.
she laughs at
the butter in your
refrigerator.
sex becomes an
infrequent favor
with the words
are you finished
yet uttered with
annoyance.
there's no more
honey bun,
or sweetie
pie, no sweet
dreams, or drive
safely,
call me when
you get home.
she leaves that piece
of lint
on your collar.
all that is over.
they are what
we call clues
in the book of love
ending.
a day without
communicating,
becomes two,
then three.
if a week goes
by, you might as
well delete
the number
and take her
picture down.

frozen ta ta's

January is a cold
wet, frozen
white tunnel
of freaking misery,
you tell your friend
betty as you both
sit at paneras
sipping hot clam
chowder, shivering
in your artic gear.
we live in Russia now.
I hate it too
she says. look how
red my nose is.
I never should have
gotten those
implants last summer.
I think they've
frozen. listen,
she says, pulling
back her layers
of clothes and clanging
them together.
yup. you tell
her, they do sound
solid. like coconuts.
maybe you could go
lean under the hand
dryer in the bathroom
and soften them
back up. I will,
she says, I will.
as soon as I finish
this clam chowder,
pass me the pepper.

fruits of labor

someone asks you
when you will retire?
quit, rest on
your laurels.
enjoy the fruits
of your labor
and relax,
go fishing
and play cards
down by the pool
with your new
old friends.
where will you enjoy
your golden
years. florida?
they ask, the Carolina
coast? this makes
you laugh, as
you shake the coins
in your pocket,
finding enough
for a coffee and a
donut.

it's always sunday

your mother could
find everything.
no matter how hard
you searched and tried
to find
that one glove
or boot, or book
or hat, turning
up nothing, she knew
exactly where it
was. so it's painful
now, to ask
her if she knows
what day it is,
having her always
come up with
the same day.
sunday, because
you are there.

unfriending

you begin the painful
process
of unfriending
people.
you don't talk
anymore
let alone see
one another.
and you grow weary
of them
posting photos
of their gooey
kids, and
the meals that
they've cooked,
or places that
they've visited
when out of town
on that rare occasion.
sure, you can hide
them, hide
their ridiculous
posts and updates,
but you want to
make a clean sweep,
find more interesting
people to add
to your life. people
that actually
do have real lives.
you are sure
they feel the
same way about
you as you post
a photo of the angels
in the snow
that you just made
an hour ago.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

holding hands

when you first
meet someone,
and you kind of
like each
other, you have
a tendency
to hold hands
a lot. but as
time goes on,
this can fade.
you begin to keep
your distance.
it's not that the
affection has
diminished or died,
it's just too
awkward now. feels
funny. you start
thinking about do
I lace the fingers
together, or is
it palm to palm,
do I put my arm
under hers, or
around her waist,
as we stroll
down the boulevard.
and then there
are things in
the way. fire
hydrants and signs,
do you say bread
and butter
when you split
around something,
or try to squeeze
in together
around one side
or the other
without losing
grip of each other's
hands. whew.
it gets complicated.

security check point

at the gated
building
the security guard
is huddled
in his tiny
brick guard
house. he's too
cold to come out
and take
your id or
your tag number,
the wind is blowing,
and there
is ice
on the street.
he looks at you
and makes a quick
determination
that you aren't
going to blow
anything up
and waves you in.
shivering
he raises the striped
wobbly gate
and nods,
hoping that he's
right about
your innocent looking
face. you
appreciate that.

till death do us part

having a bad
day,
you feel the need
to be loved
so you decide
that maybe you
need a pet, something
that provides
you with uncompromising
affection
and will never
leave you.
something that will
never run
away despite
who you are
as a person.
you settle on a gold
fish.
a bright shiny
goldfish,
something
you can commit
to and show them
that you are not
commitment phobic.
you will feed this
goldfish
sprinkling
the pepper like
shaker of food
over it's little
bowl kingdom.
you'll sing to her.
tell her all the stories
you've told over
and over again
about things you
find funny
that she has never
heard. she'll
love it. what choice
will she have. ha.
she can't go
anywhere, ever.
at night before you
go to bed you'll check
on her, see if she's
in her little
porcelain castle,
hopefully not stuck.
you'll kiss the side
of the cold bowl
and say, night night
sweetie, sweet dreams.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

brown sugar blues

someone gives
you a tip on how
to soften
brown sugar
by microwaving
it for a minute
or two.
it has hardened
into a block
of brown cement
or rather petrified
the second
air has touched
it. you have used
maybe one teaspoon
of it three days
ago. the microwave,
not used to such
an industrious task
blows a fuse
putting half of
your house into
the dark ages.
which makes you
throw a robe on
to go out to the shed
where the circuit
break box is.
you should put
shoes on, but
you have socks.
and you are sure
that they will protect
you from the wind
and temperatures
that hover in
the low teens.
with your flashlight
on, because it's
dark already
and it's not even
five o'clock, you
find the metal box,
prying it open
with your fingers.
you see the half limp
circuit break and flip
it back and forth
a few times for good
measure, then go back
in. your skin now
is the color blue.
instead of trying to
microwave the block
of brown sugar again,
you take it to he back
window, open the window
and throw the block
out towards the woods.
out of nowhere
you see a small brown
bear leap up
and make an astounding
catch. this makes
you happy. it is super
bowl week after all.

eleven degrees and falling

your son sends you
a few photos
from southern
California
where he is walking
his dog without a
shirt on, and
wearing sandals.
the dog is wearing
sunglasses.
it's eighty degrees,
blue skies.
the pacific ocean
looms over the horizon,
just a mere snow
ball throw away.
there are palm trees
in one picture,
and women in bikinis
roller blading by.
he texts
you to see if
you got the pics
on your phone.
your response is
two words. succinct
and clear. expressing
exactly how you
feel about his
pictures.

yo yo yo

it's not that you
don't like rap or hip
hop music, it's just
that perhaps
you are too old
to appreciate its
complicated lyrical
composition. not to
mention the varied
thumping of drums
and scratching records
backwards and forward.
you imagine how hard
it must be to find
words that rhyme with
fire truck, and itch,
chicks and rocks.
drugs and thugs.
so what if it sounds
like dr. seuss on crack,
people seem to enjoy
it. you see and hear
these rap afficianados
in their cars
with the windows
rolled down gyrating
like june bugs on a hot
summer day, throwing
their arms about
like a sunday church
choir down at
the first baptist
church. sometimes it
sounds so mean and harsh.
yo, but it's not.
it's just another way
of saying something
like I love you, but
with a twist. you do
like how many of them
have funny names with
the word ice in them,
like Italian ice. yo.
here's a short sample
of his work.
give me some strawberry
while I walk to the
library. gots to check
out a book cause my
kindle got took.

Monday, January 27, 2014

rough draft

this rough draft,
this rambling note
of a non poetic
endeavor is unfinished
and unrefined.
no spell check
done, no working it
to the bone.
no thumbing through
a thesaurus to
find a better word.
you don't even know
what it's about yet,
or what you'll admit
to, but it makes
you feel sad
just the same, so maybe
you'll leave it
as it is and move on.

yellow snow

you are in the season
of shiver.
of cold
feet, trembling
hands.
your eyes are
crossed
with frost
and wine.
you have to pee
badly,
but you are
waiting for the snow
to fall
and make a sheet
to write on.

dark time



knowing
what
is known
and agreed
upon
and yet
unsaid
is a valley
of dark
time.

tell us about the war grandpa

it's a trend now
for young people to
ask older people
what was going on
way back when. to gather
a real person history,
recording
or filming
the answers for
posterity. tell us
about the civil
war grandpa, they say,
hitting the record
button. which makes
grandpa grab
his cane and swing
it around the room
trying to hit
anyone within reach.
I wasn't in no civil
war. I'm only sixty
years old
for crying out loud.
were you in the Vietnam
war, killing defenseless
women and children?
what are you insane,
I didn't go
to no stupid war. I was
a peace nik, a protester.
hell no, we won't go.
ever heard that phrase you
snotty little brats?
we used to chant that
as we marched around the mall,
no not springfield mall
with the jc pennys, but
the national mall.
we had a great time
singing and protesting
men burning their draft
cards and women burning
their bras
until Nixon and his
Nazi youth tear gassed us.
were you a hippy,
grand pop. did you take
LSD and ride around
in a mini van painted
all psychedlic like?
tell us about your trips,
grand pop. did you know
the Beatles? why were
women burning their bras?
did you have hair then?
you know what,
I'm done with you
kids. I've got to get
going I've got a date
tonight, and it takes
me an hour to get dressed.
out of my way.

juggling hens

you decide to stuff
a couple of cute
Cornish hens for dinner,
but you can't get past
how small and compact
these little
featherless hens
are. are they even
hens? what is a hen
exactly? how did they
get so small
and where is Cornish,
isn't that in Vermont
where salinger lived?
these poor little hens.
were they mistreated
when they were chicklets,
stuck in tiny cages,
left without food
because of the other
bossy bigger hens.
but all that aside
you like their little
legs and wings,
and yes, they are
headless, but that's
okay, they are still
rather adorable
for meat that you
are about to season
and bake in the oven.
you hold one in each
hand, then juggle
them in the kitchen,
up into the air
they go, back and
forth, the cold slap
of hen breast hitting
your palms. you are
so glad that you live
alone and that no
one has to see this.

at peace with the world

despite seeing
the slick ice,
surrounded
by pink granules
of street
salt
you slip
anyways
and go air borne.
it all happens
in a split
second.
your world
is upside down,
your feet above
your head
as you
careen back
to the ground,
elbows
and hips striking
the cold
pavement first.
you lie there for
a moment
and gaze
at the brilliant
blue
winter sky,
the brown flash
of birds,
the grey white
trees waiting
patiently for spring.
you are strangely
at peace
with world.
sometimes it takes
a fall
to get you there.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

the math club outing

in the snow
you see them playing
Frisbee
golf at the edge
of the state
park. the math
team
against the science
club
from the local
high school.
red faced
with horn rimmed
glasses.
laughing
hysterically at
one another
in their boots
and overcoats,
hunter hats
and gloves.
measuring distance
and angles
with slide
rules and equations.
taking note
of the wind
and barometric
pressure. there
are no girls
around, but in
time, the world
will be theirs.

politics

from your window
you can hear
the firing squad
nightly,
loading their rifles.
shining
their boots,
blindfolding
the prisoner
rebel
to a pole
against the barrack
wall.
then the shots,
all at once, as
one. the slumping
of an idea,
now gone. for
now, nothing
changes, but there
will be more
to come.

the golden moon

how often
have you sat
in trance
under a golden
moon, surprised
by its yellow
hues.
nostalgic
in a strange
way for days
of summer
youth.
how you've dream
of wheat
fields aglow
under that moon,
fields that you've
never seen
in places
that you've
never been,
with lovers you
have yet
to win or lose.

out to sea

you need some rest.
some silence.
you need
quiet, without
working
through the knots
of your life
until your
fingers bleed.
you need to cut
the ropes
clean and let
the ship float
aimlessly out to
sea.

the cold house

this house
speaks. it
creaks and bellows,
grunts
and moans,
the shutters
bang,
the doors
float closed.
this house
wiggles
itself
to sleep
under nights
cold sheet.
is it trying
to tell you
something you
don't already
know.

january sky

frozen for
weeks in snow
and ice
the sky
not unlike a white
wall
where an x-ray
is held
to examine
for shadows
or imperfections
leading no
doubt towards
death and doom
suddenly shifts
to blue.
without reason.
the world
lives
another day.

deductions

the butcher
with his thumb
on the scale,
the broker barking
shady numbers
over the phone,
the itemized
deduction
for lunch with
friends,
everyone is
dipping into
thievery to make
amends
for the man
trying to keep
him down.

alphabet soup

as a child your
mother
would ladle
a hot broth
of alphabet soup
into your bowl.
you remember
staring at
the white milky
letters
floating wordlessly
around, then
onto your spoon.
you didn't care
why or how
such things were
made, but
you didn't
want to waste
the words the letters
could become,
like children
not yet formed
into adults,
with lives
and children of
their own.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

a finish line

out of breath,
you lean over, hands
on your knees.
your lungs burn
with winter air.
you've run
so many years away.
you turn
back around
to see who is
with you, who
has kept up,
or passed you by.
the coast is clear,
as usual.
somewhere in
this circle you
hope to find
to each
a finish line.

early morning theater

you cut yourself
shaving.
stare into the mirror
turning
your chin
to see
the slice
now folded in
red droplets.
there is so
much blood
in Shakespeare,
so little,
thankfully,
in your own
staged life.

more spice

you taste
the sauce,
letting the spoon
drip
close
to your lips
over
the boiling
pot.
more salt.
more pepper.
and as goes
your night.
more spice
would be nice.

as in love

as in love,
when
it ends,
there are
symptoms,
the cough,
the aches and
pain,
the fever
and fatigue.
but they are
just symptoms
of something
deeper,
there is
the germ
within
that causes
the disease.
something unseen,
but there,
causing
one to leave.

sinking ships

through the years
you've
sailed
on many sinking
ships.
and always
you threw your
hands into
the sky
and cursed,
wondering how
you'll survive,
but like always,
the water
is rarely more
than two feet deep,
so when it sinks,
who cares.
you can walk
out from
here.

look out, train

it's apparently
easy to get hit by
a train.
you read about it
nearly everyday
in the local
paper, the gazette
or packet, or
journal.
man hit by train
while
looking at
his watch
when car stops
on tracks.
woman slain
by freight train,
while applying
lipstick.
circus clown loses
leg while
juggling
on a rail.
these trains are
large.
they are loud.
you can see them
miles away
crawling slowly
towards you.
there are signs,
cross bars,
red lights
and bells dinging.
you can see the smoke.
it doesn't matter.
when your time
is up.
it might be a
train.

the neighborhood pub

you go to a bar
where everyone is
yelling.
it's a contest
almost of who
can yell the loudest
over the five
televisions
hanging on
the short wall
and say
the stupidest
thing.
the bartender
in a football
jersey is dancing
holding court
with a bottle
of gin.
all of this
allows a woman
two bar
stools away
in a striped sweater
to pick up her T-bone
steak and
eat it with her
hands, sucking
on the bone
and marrow
like an animal.

finding time

a pebble
in your shoe
the whole
day.
you feel
it roll
from heel
to toe.
unable to stop
and shake
it free.
you think
about
it.
you stamp
your foot.
you know
that you need
to just
stop.
sit down,
unlace
the shoe
and shake it
out, but
then what.
what will you
miss.

Friday, January 24, 2014

send me some pictures


your father
tells you to send him
some pictures.
his photo albums
have stopped mysteriously
at the year 2000.
he doesn't understand
that all the pictures
are now stuck
in our phones
and computers.
send me a picture
of that grandson
of mine, he says.
no one sends me
pictures anymore.
you tell him to
buy a computer, which
is not unlike
telling him to
invent a computer.
I don't type he
says. it hurts my
eyes to stare at that
bright screen.
does it cost extra or
can I just plug it in.
both, you tell him.
just send a picture.
why can't you do that.
I haven't had a picture
from you in over
ten years.
you get exhausted
by the conversation.
can you buy a cell phone,
you ask him.
I can send you pictures
that way. I already have a
phone he says, jesus,
mary and joseph,
why do I need another
one. I have an extension
in the kitchen too.
I can pull the long
cord way out to the patio.
I'm doing it now.
you hear things getting knocked
over as he moves
out to the patio.
then he starts talking
to his neighbor.
I've got my son on
the phone, he yells.
he won't send me any
pictures. what?
your's either? what
the hell is wrong with
these kids.

goo goo eyes

at the moment
you don't know anyone
that seems truly
in love.
deep romantic
heart pounding love.
butterflies
in the stomach love.
there is lots
of like going around,
lust, and friends
with benefits,
but love, well
that's hard to come by.
the very young seem
to catch it often,
you see them
trying hard to get into
each other's bodies
with their closeness,
and the very old
claim it from
memories. they can show
you photos of men
or women that they
loved, but the hand
holding, staring
at each other with
goo goo eyes kind
of love you just
don't see much
of anymore. but then
again, you've had
blinders on for
some time now.

hot roasted peanuts

peanuts
the man yelled
walking
down
the stadium
steps, seemingly
limping with
both legs.
peanuts.
get your red
hot peanuts.
he had on a
paper white
hat
and kept wiping
his brow
with a rag
that hung
like a limp flag
from his pocket.
the silvery metal
box was stuffed
with peanuts
in little bags,
so they weren't
hot at all.
a grey strap that held
the box was flat
against his neck,
reddened by
the afternoon sun.
when he heard
the crack of a bat
he stared down
at the field
watching for a brief
moment
the action
on the emerald
diamond. go, go, he'd
say. slide.
there you go.
and then, peanuts,
get your hot
roasted peanuts.

you should write a book

everyone thinks
they have a book in them.
you do too.
but few write them.
it's too hard
sitting there all
day and night
typing.
but they have
stories to tell.
tales that they
tell their friends.
about love
and dating, life
and death. most of
them begin by saying,
you're not going to
believe this,
or guess what happened
to me last night.
you can hear the excitement
in their voice
as they tell in
detail what happened.
sometimes they are good
stories,
polished from being
told so many times,
and other times
you yawn and roll
your eyes before
you accidentally lose
connection on
your cell phone
clicking it off,
before stuffing it
into your pocket.

old birds talking

you wonder
if the birds
in the trees ever
say things like
my how
thing have
changed.
remember that tree
that used
to be right
over there.
the big oak tree.
I loved sitting
up high
in that tree.
I could sit
there all day
with my friends
shooting the breeze.
but it's gone now.
they've
hunted most
of the deer away too.
I haven't seen
a red fox in months.
and this new paved
path for
the bikes and
joggers
is just horrible.
the noise, talking
on their phones,
throwing trash
down.
I miss the good
old days,
don't you?

drunk woman overboard

you were on a cruise
ship once
and there was
a passenger talent
show one balmy
afternoon
between stops.
there were
jugglers,
comedians,
tap dancers
and children
playing trumpets.
all good fun.
then a man
in his early
sixties stepped
up to the microphone
and began to sing
I left my heart
in san Francisco.
he was serious,
holding the microphone
with two hands.
about half way
through the song,
as he sang
I left my heart,
which he was singing
quite well
as far as I was
concerned a drunk
blonde woman
behind me with a
pina colada in
hand yelled out,
and you left your
talent there
too. everyone heard
it, but the man kept
singing. you admired
that,
and as you shot
a look at the woman
behind you, drenched
in make up
and her leathery
brown tan
you couldn't help
but imagine
her going
overboard one night
out in the deep sea.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

i'm busy, very very busy


you only have a second
to write this down, but
if you live in a certain
city, say Washington
dc, it's not uncommon
to hear men and women talk
about how hard they work.
nights, weekends,
holidays. on the bus,
on the train, the metro.
standing in line
waiting for coffee.
on vacation.
work work work.
they are working hard
at their jobs,
or working on the next
job where they can
go to work and work
even harder. they are
proud of how hard they
work and when you ask
them when you can
get to together for
a drink or dinner,
just to catch up,
they say things like,
right now I don't even
have time to pee,
what are you doing in
april, hold on, let
me check that, no may.
the middle of may.
but you never hear back.
you don't try.
they are busy, very
very busy. and so are
you. in fact you'd write
more about this,
but the phone is ringing.
you have to go.

i'm joining a nunnery


while sitting at the park
having lunch,
your friend Katrina,
also known as Kat,
kit kat, and kitty
kat, tells you that she
is done with men
and sex. she's sick
of all the pressures
of dating, the exhausting
interview process
when you have to tell
someone new your
complete life story
over a glass of wine
and a plate of rubbery
calamari. I'm joining
a nunnery, she says.
I'm serious. men
just want this, she
says, pointing at
various parts of
her body. pffft,
you say, trying not
to look too hard
at the places she
just pointed at.
men, what are you
gonna do? you sigh
sympathetically.
so, you're switching
to the other side?
no, she says loudly,
scaring the pigeons
away from our bench.
I'm done with sex.
period, men women,
whatever. I'm giving
myself to God.
okay, okay, you say.
calm down mother Theresa.
and how long
do you think this is
going to last?
I don't know she says,
breaking off a piece
of bread for the birds
and tossing it.
a week, maybe two.
three tops.

how old are you?

just to stop talking about
that no talent punk
loser justin beiber, you
occasionally show your
age by saying something
like, I remember
the time I saw Sinatra
at the Copacabana,
man that was a great
show. talk about a
rebel. Dean and Sammy
came out during the encore
all of them smoking
cigarettes and drinking
high balls. Lola
Falana was there too.
talk about hot. She
had legs up to her neck.
at this point everyone
looks at you and says
simultaneously, how old
are you exactly?
someone get the carbon
dating kit.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I want one of those

I want one of those.
that notepad
thing, or I pad,
tablet,
or whatever it's
called.
it looks like
fun. everyone
seems to be hypnotized
by theirs.
I like that glazed
look in their
eyes. I want some
of that.
that far away,
I'm not here look.
I want to stare into
that shiny
colorful screen
and tap tap tap
against the tiny
picture, or icons,
or doo dad things.
I want to be oblivious
to my surroundings
lost in the gizmo
in my hands.
I want to ignore
the people around
me and pretend
that they don't exist.
that they don't matter.
I want all the knowledge
of the universe
at the tip of a button
despite losing
my soul, my personality,
my ability
to communicate
with living people.
yes. I want one
of those and I
want it now.

i'm still here

your friend mary
who retired from
the rail road 40 years
ago turns ninety-five
this year.
she has had nearly
every disease known
to man, but has somehow
survived.
they have found
her passed
out on the floors
of her kitchen
and bathroom
dozens of times,
pushing the doors
open to revive her.
she drives a white
Cadillac and leaves
an I'm sorry note on
the windshields
of cars that she smashes
into in the parking lot.
never a phone number
or name. she adds in.
I'm old.
her wall to wall carpet
is baby blue,
her couch is baby
blue, the curtains
are one shade darker
and there are dried flowers
everywhere.
there is always a
sara leigh
banana cream pie
in the refrigerator
next to a carton
of skim milk.
she's been living in
the same apartment
since 1963.
the year kennedy was
shot, she says, as if
somehow both events
are forever tied together.
nearly all
her friends have died.
and she laughs
not about them, but
about that she's still
here. I'm still
here she says defiantly,
so tell me about you.
seeing anyone?

tough times, buddy

when going through
a tough time
there is always someone
that says
you think you've
got it bad, listen
to this. then
proceeds to tell
you a horror story
about someone they
know that had a snake
bite them on the neck
or how their house
caught fire
when dropping a
frozen turkey into
a deep fryer,
or they say.
count your blessings
buddy. things
could be worse.
you hate being called
buddy.
then they take an
inventory of your
life telling you
that you have
a car, a home,
a job, a loving
wife. none of your
kids are pregnant
or on drugs yet.
none of this talk makes
you feel any better.
but you bite your tongue,
staying quiet,
which is what you
should have done
in the first place.

in the morning

every morning you see them,
a gaggle of strangers
who have become
coffee house friends.
they've pulled
tables
and chairs together to
talk and drink coffee.
the old guy
with the pony tail.
the woman knitting.
the big guy wearing
a hipster hat.
the pregnant woman
with big blonde hair.
a skinny guy with
jimmy on his yellow
member's only jacket.
and the quiet man
with his arms folded
across his chest.
there is no place
they'd rather be than
here with each other
at eight o'clock
in the morning.
it's a lively
conversation.
and as you stand in
line and listen with
one ear, it makes
you strangely happy.
they are birds
of different feathers
that have flocked
together.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

hunger

standing at
the open refrigerator
door
in the kitchen
gleam
of white, you
realize
as you put a pickle
into your
mouth that you
are capable of
eating a lot
of crazy things
when you're
hungry. really
hungry.
some old, some
spoiled,
some not quite
ripe. take this
slice of pizza
for example.
curled in silvery
foil.

i'm sorry

I'm sorry for last
night
she says
holding her
head in her hands.
peering
through fingers
to see
if you're buying
it. I was wrong.
I drank too
much. I lost my
way, got angry,
said things I
shouldn't have
said, can you ever
forgive me.
I love you.
you nod.
of course, you
tell her. i'll
forgive you,
but from a distance,
a very far distance.
let's pack your
bags and start
today with my
forgiveness.

a life

does each
life hold a theme,
a plot
a denouement,
a rise and
fall.
is there a climax
to the story
or does it
ramble
on and on
with no
real middle,
just a beginning
and an end,
and lots
and lots of
small talk.

under the weather

you are under
the weather.
snow to be exact.
long pillows
of silvery
white hills.
each roof iced
white,
each tree holding
small candles
full of light.
you are under
the weather
which is where
you like to
be, especially
when you're around.

the kiss

a bee
sting is
like a kiss.
unexpected
and warm
against
your cheek
when what
you wanted
was something
warm
and wet upon
your lips.

Monday, January 20, 2014

pull over

the police
make you nervous.
despite
doing nothing
to warrant
suspicion,
you get itchy when
around them.
you are a good
citizen
for the most
part, although
you rarely vote
in local
elections. well,
maybe never
and sometimes if
no one is looking
you only pretend
to pick up after
your dog,
but the cops
on your tail
makes you slow
down, put
on your signal
early, adjust
your mirror
and sit up
straight. when
they gather
in the coffee
shop, you try
to avoid eye
contact, maybe
they know something.
something,
what, you aren't
sure, but you
don't want to take
any chances.
you would not do
well in prison.

one or two inches of snow

you feel foolish
standing in
line with only
a bottle
of hot sauce
when beside
you are shopping
carts full of
eggs and milk,
bread
and toilet paper.
rib roasts
and whole chickens.
the shelves
are being emptied.
the lines
are long,
there is cursing
and rolling
of eyes
as the lines
move slowly.
the weather
service is calling
for an inch
or two of snow.
you pray that you
can make it
through with only
one bottle
of hot sauce.

onion rings

you try so hard
to live in
the moment, because
that's what you
are supposed to do
these days,
but before long
someone says,
what are you doing
tomorrow,
and that blows
the whole moment
thing. you start
thinking about tomorrow
and what fun
things you might
do then. it
tarnishes the moment
you are in
and you end up
having another drink
and ordering
onion rings.

poetry meet up

bored with yourself,
with the day in
and day out of life.
work, sleep,
eat. the dreadful
pattern
of a human gerbil
on a squeaky wheel,
you google
poetry workshops.
maybe there's
a place you can go
on a cold Tuesday night
to shoot the breeze
with fellow aspiring
writers.
maybe you can read
from your voluminous
collection of poetry
and have them
applaud what
you've written,
praise you as a
genius and worship
the ground you walk
on. they will want
to touch your sleeve,
to share
the air you
breathe. they will be
happy just being
in your presence.
they will bite their
nails and long for
the next meet up
to see what you've
created. basically
you want to find
an all about me work
shop, but sadly,
there doesn't seem
to be any.
at some point you'll
have to read
and comment on what
they too have
written. you'll have
to be constructive
with your criticism,
be polite and nice,
and lie a little.
you'll have to polish
their apples full
of worms while tapping
your foot, waiting
for your next
turn. the horror.

sally freud

she says that you are
detached
and aloof,
distracted and
distant.
probably a result
of being unloved
as a child.
you often answer
her questions
with a what, or
huh?
this doesn't bode
well
in proving her
wrong.
maybe she's right.
maybe you
aren't all
there, but elsewhere
thinking of
thinks to
ponder and write.
maybe you've
put a protective
wall around
to keep people
out. maybe.

cold wave

age arrives
more clearly when
it's cold.
arctic cold.
you feel it
in your knee.
your neck,
your curled hands.
the snow in
your hair
is not snow.
the blur in your
eyes
not wind. but
the memory
of love
keeps you warm,
with that
the movement
of time has not
slowed.

on time

you will be late
for work.
that's okay. coffee
is important.
opening the paper
for the headline.
writing another
poem,
scraping the ice
off your
windshield
needs to be done.
your dog wants
to play
for a few more
minutes before
he hops
onto the bed
awaiting your
return. telling
you in a note
how much
you're loved
and adored
will take just
a second.
you will be late
for work, but
that's okay, you
are on time with
the rest of life.

in the shadows

no moon is bright
enough
to find you
anymore.
the light is
weak
as you hide
among the trees
and brush
of your life.
you don't
want to be seen
or found.
your voice
is a whisper
in the cold shadows.
you've
settled on nothing
and no one.
so why start
now.

bump in the road

every road
has a turn
a bump
a hole
a detour
somewhere along
the way
that throws
you off course
sometimes you
see it
coming, other
times
you hit it
and curse, stop
to get out
and survey
the damage.
now a days,
you just keep
going.
you've been down
most roads
by now
and you're
getting better
and better
seeing what lies
ahead
and avoiding it,
or taking it
all in stride.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

the centerfielder

he was a pretty good
center fielder
in high school.
fast, good arm.
great anticipation.
so when you hear
from the grapevine
that he's passed
away after living
in a trailer in florida
for the past
ten years it startles
you.
you don't want it
to end that way.
not just for him,
but for anyone.
you want all of us
to remain healthy
and young
waiting to
snag the next chance
while smacking
our leather glove
in the summer sun.

she loved that song

she loved that song
I left my heart
in san Francisco.
she'd been there once
as a kid and rode
the trolley cars.
it didn't matter
who was singing it,
but tony Bennett was
her favorite.
over and over
again she'd put
the needle down
on the record
and let it play
and play and play.
it reached a point
where you had to hide
the record from
her. which made
her unhappy, which
eventually led
to the break up.
but you didn't care.
you had to have
your sanity back.
sometimes, despite
the decades gone
by you'll put
the 45 back
on the ancient
turntable and remember
her, spinning
slowly around
the room, singing.
at times
you feel bad about
spoiling her happiness
and wish you could
give it back to her
but you can't. that's
just how it goes
sometimes.

standing eight count

there's a little
lazarus in all of us.
down for the count,
but somehow
back from
the dead,
back in the fight.
whether love
gone wrong, or money.
jobs and life,
you wipe
the blood off
one more time,
beating the odds.
having been
given the standing
eight count time
and time again, you
get off your knees
and rise.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

the break up line

you remember a break
up line
a girl gave
you a long time
ago.
it stuck with you
like
mud to a shoe,
mustard
on a sweater, well,
you get the idea.
but she said,
I want to see if
I miss you, so let's
not talk for awhile,
or see each other.
let's take a nice
break and see
if that works, see
if I miss you,
she said. let's see
if our love is for real?
but for how long?
you asked, crushed
and hurt by this.
I don't know, she
said, let's just see
what happens when
we don't communicate
for awhile. okay?
you shrugged and cursed
beneath your breath,
but walked away without
a fight, which made
her relieved and
happy. when you
turned back around for
one last look,
she was skipping
merrily
down the sidewalk,
so far she didn't seem
to be missing
you too much.


in the black

there has been
a lot of subtraction
lately
in your life,
you are not down
to minus zero,
but it seems
to be heading
in that direction
with each turn
of the calendar
page.
you need
some addition, some
multiplication,
you need a few
more plus
signs in the column
of your ledger.

$365.14

each year you
sheepishly lug
a pail of coins
to the local
bank and shovel
them into the money
machine that sits
by the window.
people smile
at you as they walk
by. coins, they say?
I need to do that.
it's a noisy
process as you sort
through the peanuts
and paper clips,
the debris of pills
and scrapes of paper
that have to be
sorted out. you
are always amazed
at the final tally,
even after their
three per cent take,
printing off
the receipt to
give to the teller.
you are strangely
proud of your bucket
of coins
and feel as if
it's found money.
you want it in cash,
you tell them.
folding money.

in your head

you understand the news.
you get it.
the idea being
to keep people
watching.
fear does the trick.
the cliff hanger
pronouncements before
a break.
is that ice tea you're
drinking full of
rat poison. stayed
tuned and don't take
another sip until
you hear what our
team of experts
have to say.
does the government
know what you
are thinking?
are they in your head
with drones the size
of bed bugs?
that water, is it
safe enough to bathe
in when it's full
of radiation
and little pieces
of slaughter house
beef. the bay,
is it really safe
to swim in with all
of that fish urine?
how much does each
fish pee in any given
day? all of these
questions will be
answered after this
brief message about
the softest toilet
paper you can ever
buy.

the secret of writing

there was a time
when it was harder
to write.
to express yourself.
the sun had to be just
right in the sky.
the phone needed
to be off,
you needed coffee
on the desk,
a thesaurus and a
dictionary nearby.
there had to be silence.
you worried about
each word
that left your mind,
through your tapping
fingers. agonized
over the whole lot
being read
and liked, praised
or criticized.
now you don't care
and it's made things
a lot easier.
if only you had known
this secret years
ago.

assisted care

the assisted
care living facility
smells
of onions
and old people
asleep.
sound asleep in
the middle of the day
while the television
against the far
wall plays on
and on with live
energetic people.
people with plans,
and hopes.
desires.
and in between
the shows
are commercials
for the things
they all need.
there is no music.
no books.
no pets, no loved
one's hand in reach.
they are immersed
instead with
what doesn't exist,
as they near
that fate too.

getting out

you see it
sometimes in the boy
pushing
carts
from the parking
lot.
in his eyes
that flash
of light, the hint
at something
more will
be done
with his life.
or you might see
it in
the waitress
pouring you coffee,
the poetry in
her smile, the way
she moves,
bends, looks at
herself
in the reflection
of a window.
she's left this job.
she's already
gone.
and then there are
those who are
there today
and every tomorrow,
with no way out,
no thought
of clipping
the wires and crawling
under the fence,
accepting
their place in
the world as a final
stop.

Friday, January 17, 2014

brains for sale

driving a giant
truck,
the man who
cuts you off on
the road
is in a hurry.
you are only doing
seventy five
in a sixty five zone.
he needs
to go faster.
apparently
there is a sale
on beef jerky
and brains
up ahead
that he needs
to get to.

i made it from scratch

you make a cake
for someone you care
about
deeply.
they ask you
if it was made
from scratch.
yes, you say.
with the scratch
that I make
daily
at my job,
I went out and
bought a box
of betty crocker's
cake mix,
three eggs,
a third of a cup
of vegetable oil
and mixed it
all up for you.
set the oven
to 325, waited,
thirty five minutes,
stuck a toothpick
into it to see
if it was done,
then iced it
after it cooled.
now eat your damn
cake.
yes. I made
it from scratch.

i got your old age right here punk

someone reminds
you that you are getting
old.
you slap this person
across their young
face
with a glove
and challenge
them to run a race
or to a game
of one on one basketball.
you point
at a bar bell on
the floor that you
have been lifting
since you were
thirteen years old
and say lift
that, loser. you show
them that you
can read the newspaper
without holding
it three feet
away from your
squinting eyes.
you are getting
very sensitive
about your age
these days.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

bird boy

when your son
was little, wearing
his green
and yellow onesie,
you could
hold him
in one hand,
balanced
like a sack of sugar
and float him
around the room
while his mother
would yell to put
him down, you're
going to kill him,
she'd say.
he'd put his
arms and legs out
and make a
whirring noise
with his puffed cheeks
blowing,
as if a plane.
sometimes he'd
tweet like a bird.
you wonder if
he remembers that
as well as you
do, nearly every
day, feeling
the weight of him.

what to bring to mars

we've gone
way beyond tang.
you see wine,
fermented grapes
in a box
at the grocery store
and wonder
what's next.
potato brewed
vodka in a can,
like popeye
and his spinach.
martinis
in a jar with
olives
already added.
freeze dried
beer in a
cellophane
package? we
are preparing for
that voyage
to mars. shaken,
and stirred.

forbidden sausages

you watched
a late night show
about
zeppelins. on
public television,
of course.
it was about
how the giant
floating
warships
bombed London
during world
one
with cow gut
skins
holding
the nitrogen
in.
making sausages
was forbidden
during
the war
in Germany,
because they needed
more
zeppelins in
the air to bomb
the women and
children into
submission.
just taking
sausages
off my plate would
have been
enough for
me to surrender
no matter which
side I was on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

your pyramid

you want to be buried
in a pyramid
built especially
for you
with many chambers,
false doors,
hallways that lead
nowhere.
you want it to be
complex and difficult.
getting lost in
there will be
easy. finding you
in the center
will be hard,
almost impossible.
there will be
darkness and light.
there will be
graffiti on
the walls and
beautiful drawings.
there will be gold,
and tin.
why should death be
any different than life.

double scoop

no one
can be angry
while
licking an
ice cream
cone. no matter
what the flavor.
lime,
or lemon,
cherries jubilee,
or rocky
road. it's hard
to curse
when licking
a double scoop
set high
and sweet
on a sugar cone.

a few happy thoughts


dysfunction
is now
the norm.
like pigeons
we flock
to the neighborhood
pharmacy
and liquor
store to calm
our nerves,
settle
our minds.
there's a long
line
at the therapist's
office.
we buy meaningless
things
to feel good
for a moment.
the new
car, the new
fur, the new
sex partner.
everything is
temporary.
we are the weather.
we are the ocean
with wave
after wave
of days
filling up
nothing. our
food keeps
us hungry.
our sleep
is tumultuous.
something is missing
as we find
everything,
but nothing
to fulfill our
aching souls.

we never go anywhere

we never go anywhere
or do anything,
she says,
heating up a slice
of pizza for
dinner. when was the
last time we
did something fun?
what, you say,
lifting your head
up from the pillow
on the couch
and peering over
the cushions.
how come we don't
travel anywhere.
like france or Italy.
someplace like that?
your friend lulu
just got back from
there with her mother,
didn't she?
yes, she says. and
she said it was
fabulous. they had a
wonderful time,
they bought me this
beret. see?
she spins around with
a red beret tilted
on her head.
maybe instead of
ocean city, we can
go to paris this
year, or rome,
someplace fun with
culture and romance.
you shake your head.
I heard there are
lots of bed bugs
and pick pockets
over there, and they
don't like americans.
who told you that.
I saw it on the travel
food channel.
did you know that we
invented French fries.
how crazy is that?
we invented half of
their culture.
what the hell are you
talking about?
what about florida, you
tell her. we could
go see some minor league
games in the grapefruit
league this spring?
this is when she begins
to cry and takes
her phone into
the other room, the beret
still floating
atop her head. your
dinner is on the table
she yells before
slamming the door.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the years

the children,
apple cheeked
and brazen,
swing and slide
in the saw dust
playground
as the sun goes
down, while
the women
stand with hands
on hips
at the gate,
speaking of things
they don't talk
about with
their husbands.
the men sit inside,
with feet astride
tables, resting
their minds
in front of the blue
glow, that
never fades.
and years like
falling leaves
drift by.

come spring

the woman
next door likes
to garden
in the nude.
sometimes she
wears
a bathing suit
without a top.
she may or may
not know
that you can
see her from your
window.
she doesn't care.
she's more
concerned with
tending to the flowers,
the weeds,
bending wire
to keep
the rabbits out.
it doesn't surprise
you anymore.
it's no longer
about her.
her flowers,
come spring
are beautiful.

when you were here

a golden sun
sets
without you,
as it rose
the days before
you were born.
and when I leave,
it still
goes on.
again and again.
don't try
to understand
what any of it
means. feel
the warmth
while you're here,
as I felt
yours, when you
were here
too.

the missing dress

your friend betty wants
to contact her mother
who has been dead for ten
years. she misses her
dearly and wants
to find out where she
put that one dress
she used to wear
with the lace fringe.
she loves that dress.
so you go to
the local gypsy fortune
teller. it's a cape cod house
on the highway next to
the silver diner. we take
some snacks and drinks
along in case it's a long
wait in contacting her,
it's been a long time
since they buried her,
and she was never one
to answer the door
with one set of knocks
or one pressing of the door
bell. after an exchange of money,
we sit around the table,
putting the chips into
a bowl, and pouring
out some fresca on ice,
her mom's favorite.
the gypsy lady pushes
a few buttons with her
feet, making the music
go on, and some smoke
to rise out of the air
vents. it sputters a little.
I have to get that fixed
she says, do you know
a good hvac man? we both
shake our heads no.
join hands she says and
close your eyes. some music
begins to play. Elton john's
funeral for a friend.
betty opens one eye and
whispers, she hated Elton
john, which makes the gypsy
woman stomp on the floor
and then the music switches
to john Denver. rocky
mountain high. whatever,
betty says.
I see her, the gypsy says.
she's smiling and happy
that you are here.
she's running through a
field of flowers and green
grass. singing. what is she
singing, betty asks.
something about doe a deer
a female deer. ask
her where the dress is,
you say, bored and ready
to get out of there.
the smoke is making your
eyes itch. plus
the fresca is flying
right through you. you have
to pee like seabiscuit before
a race. the dress. oh,
right, the dress, the gypsy
says. she's wearing it.
what the hell, betty says.
we buried her in that
dress? I'm sorry, the gypsy
says. so sorry. but the image
is fading. is there anything
else you want to ask her.
she's waving her hands,
saying goodbye to you...
and something about a blue
denim dress in the bottom
drawer where she kept her
rolled coins.
nah, betty says. denim?
really? we're
done here. thanks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

pink ville

she wants to
paint her bathroom
a hot pink.
a bubble gum,
pepto pink
and then
put up pictures
of poodles on
the walls.
black curly
poodles with
diamond collars
around their
necks.
she wants to
knit a hat
for the toilet
paper roll,
and have a matching
bath mat.
the shower curtain
would be pink
too. with
ribbons and bows,
cotton candy
pink. little girl
pink. frilly
and silly
Shirley temple
pink.
you tell her
no. forget about
it. here's what
I suggest
and hand her
the palette of
off whites.

jail break

the siren
at the local prison
goes off
late into the night.
there's been
a jail
break. someone
has dug a tunnel
or sawed
through the bars.
you wonder if
you've locked the doors
or not.
makes no difference,
you have little
of value
for anyone to steal.
no guns or diamonds.
but you do have
fresh batch of
brownies on
the kitchen table.
better go down
and check.

good intentions

there's a new
sheriff in town.
he thinks he's really
going to clean
this place
up. he has
good intentions
and a star
on his vest, but they
are drawing straws
down at the local
saloon to see
who gets to shoot
him first.

ice cold martini

you see
a crowd of
penguins
marching
across the ice
and snow,
aloof
and carefree
under a blissfully
cold
blue sky.
dressed
in tuxedos
each
and everyone
of them.
martinis
in hand.
they know how
to live,
not a care
or tear
in their eye.

home again

you awaken
in a stranger's house.
the woman
next to you says
good morning honey,
coffee?
she kisses you
on the cheek.
she is no one that
you know.
children run
into the room
and hop onto
the bed. daddy
daddy, they say,
bouncing in
the sunlight as
it streams in
from the window.
a golden dog
leaps into your lap,
licking
at your face.
he barks loudly,
but this still
doesn't awaken
you from
the dream.
you fall back into
the pillows
and close your eyes.
you fall
asleep. you dream
of silence.
the sound of crickets
chirping
in the cellar.
you are home again.

the fat baby

the fat
pink baby
in the chair
at the French
restaurant
is eating
with his hands.
some food
finds his
mouth, other
food finds
his forehead
and ears.
when he's
finished
he begins to
cry, then scream.
his face
is a bright balloon
about to burst.
you no
longer hear
the music.
taste your food.
all eyes
are on the baby.
the mother
keeps eating.
she doesn't
care. determined
to stay
she orders
more wine,
dessert. spooning
chocolate mousse
into
the baby's mouth.
this calms him.
you order
the same. wanting
the same.

still free

in any weather
he'd be standing
at the rivers edge
hip boots
on, his line
slung out
into the blue
flat river.
hours on hours,
he'd fish.
no music, no friend
along
for company.
just the ease
of water
against his body,
the sound
of birds, of
fish in the distance
jumping
in small splashes,
still free,
as he was.

every year

every year
the signs are posted
don't climb
on the rocks,
dangerous currents,
beware,
stay back.
and every year
people climb
and fall, they drown
slipping into
the fast grey
current of
chopped white
water.
there is no hope
for them,
no hand you can
reach down
and pull them back.
they disappear
with hardly
a scream,
swept away in
the cold current
coming out
the other end
in calmer waters
where
their names
are found
to be printed in
tomorrows news.
more signs go up,
nothing changes.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

happy nails

you are way overdue
for a pedicure. the last
time you had one
was like, never.
while taking a bath
you stare at those
long string bean
toes of yours
with the gnarly
yellowish nails and
you think, hey, why
not treat yourself to a
nice nail job today?
so you go down
to the happy nail
salon next to dunkin
donuts and make
an appointment. but first you
get a few donuts
to eat while you get
your feet worked on.
two chocolate glazed
and a powdered sugar.
a nice cup of hot coffee too.
mrs. ming bows gracefully
as she directs you
to a giant leather massage
chair. you sink deeply
into it and take a bite
of your sugar donut.
there are red tassels hung
everywhere, you guess
they've all graduated
from many medical schools
teaching them the fine
art of pedicuring.
it's impressive. she shows
you how to turn on
the massage chair which
shakes violently, throwing
powdered sugar everywhere,
so you turn it down some.
mrs. ming then puts on
a mask and lights up
the blue radioactive
water that she forces
your feet into.
from then on, its like
a sushi bar with a set
of surgial instruments
that would make
a brain surgeon envious.
she rubs and squeezes each
toe, trims the nails
with a pair of sheet metal
shears, goes after
those bleeding cuticles
with a razor blade. her
hands are moving so fast
that it's all very scary, so
you look away in your jiggling
chair and notice that it's
pretty much all women here
except for you.
most of them are looking at
your bag of donuts, so you
break off small pieces of
donut and throw them towards
the women, who open
their mouths like seals
at the zoo. making that
same seal noise and clapping
their hands for more.
finally, mrs. ming finishes up.
she's shaking her head and
sweating. you need to come
more she says. more times.
you nails are bad, very bad.
okay, you tell her, handing
her some money.
extra for shine, she says.
you want shine. sure,
why not. she applies
a coat of clear polish on
them which makes you feel
like dancing. you simonized
them, you say, trying
to make some fun chit chat.
but she looks at you with
that quizzical cat look,
and says, no. now you done.
go. go.

the first cup's free

you are not
addicted to coffee
you say to yourself
as you rummage
through the cupboard
looking for one more
sleeve of Italian
roast to make
an instant cup.
you bypass the backup
jar of folgers,
the forgotten
tall jar of Maxwell's
instant, French roast,
hardly.
you dig
deeper into the shelves,
taking out the
instant oats
with that smirking
ben franklin
on the front,
ancient cans of soup.
out goes the tea
bag boxes. green
tea, happy tea,
lemon lime sunshine
tea. sleepy time
tea. where did all
this stupid tea
come from? where's
the coffee? you take
a deep breath and try
to calm yourself down.
you need to get dressed.
you wonder how long
the line will be,
you don't care,
it's snowing, so what.
the streets are
unplowed. doesn't
matter. you need it
now. sweet jesus,
you say towards
the ceiling where
you notice a water
stain resembling spilled
coffee,
get me to a barista
now.

the mystery

as you arrive
home
early
in the morning,
you see
one shoe
in the snow
with no
trail
as to the other.
a mystery
until
you see
the open
window and
your other clothes
come flying out.

Friday, January 10, 2014

born to be mild

you get invited
to a motorcycle
convention, but you
own no leather
pants, or vests.
you have no tattoos
or facial hair,
or shiny brain bucket
helmet.
you've never
been on a motorcycle.
you are scared
of burning your
legs on the exhaust
pipes.
you shake your
head when they
rumble by, revving
their engines
when at a stop
or cruising below
an underpass.
they seem so stoic
on their rides,
straddling
their engines,
the wind in the hair,
bugs in their teeth.
most of them are
stockbrokers, with
kids and dogs,
bleached blonde wives
who hang onto
the back
with dagger red
nails, chewing gum,
wearing expensive
leather jackets that
read live free
or die.

untrainable

your dog
hears when he
wants
to hear,
barks
whenever he feels
like it.
never fetches
the thrown ball,
never heels,
never
rolls over
to play dead,
or sit on
his hind legs
and beg.
untrainable.
always
hungry, always
curious
as to what
lies ahead.
you two are
so much alike,
it's scary.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

finding inner peace

fasting
for nearly an
hour,
you get dizzy.
your mind
drifts away
from pure
clean thoughts
of renewal
and enlightenment.
you stare
into the simple
yellow flame
of a candle
that you set on
the floor in front
of you.
deep in meditation
you've emptied
your mind,
for maybe a minute
or two
before you begin
to think about
a girl you met
in high school.
she was captain
of the cheerleaders
with straight
black hair
and lips
as sweet as
cherry wine.
like the tommy
james song.
you begin to hum
the song,
then sing it, tapping
your knees while
in a lotus position.
you're done
with meditation.
you're starving
you call out
for a pizza. extra
cheese.

uncharted stars

uncharted
stars still shine
despite
having no eyes
upon them.
as do
the poets
walking about
in their own
minds
seeing words
in every
stone, in every
face, finding
meaning
in every dog
barking
in a window
without a bone.

you can't go back

you can't go
back.
even the memory
of yesterday
is tarnished
by the machine
of time.
the awful click
of springs
and wheels
in clocks are
constantly
telling you
goodbye.

melting snow

each flake
of snow
drifts slowly
from the opaque
sky. its strange
beauty
melts on
the tip
of your
warm tongue.
small
pleasures
of winter
are few and
far between.

the piano

the piano
won't play itself.
it will
sit there silent
for eternity
until a set
fingers
fall upon
its keys.
there is no
music until
you will the muse
to make it
happen, the same
goes for you
and me.


a road out



sometimes you wake
up and stare out the window
and say
the hell with the farm.
how many springs
can you keep
plowing the field,
tilling the soil
planting a new crop.
wheat, corn, alfalfa.
makes no difference.
you get by, but that's it.
your back hurts no
matter what comes up
out of the ground.
but it's winter now.
the earth is frozen solid
like a block of ice
and you've got two
more months of throwing
logs onto the fire
and trying to figure
out a better way
to live your life,
an escape, a road out.


pass me the butter

like most people
you'd have
a hard time killing
a chicken
or a cow,
or even a fat
pink pig
for dinner,
but for some reason,
pulling a fish
out of the river
and cutting his
head off
then slicing him
open while
he still flops
in your hand
seems perfectly
fine. same
goes for a crab
or a lobster.
you have no sadness
in dropping
them into a boiling
cauldron,
waiting a few
minutes, then
stripping them of
their shells.
there is
no remorse or regret
as you dip
the meat into
butter.

sparrows

you have
a stack of books
that all
say basically
the same thing,
don't worry about
it.
don't look
back, just keep
moving.
you've underlined
passages
in the bible
about sparrows
that say that
too. you've
even written
a few dozen poems
expressing
those exact
sentiments
and you'll write
even more,
but you know that
it's easier
said then done,
like most things
in life.
like lost love
for instance.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

the blessing of trouble

none of us
want trouble
and yet it comes.
sometimes
in waves,
tsunamis, other
times in a glass
of water
tossed into
your face.
some trouble
is a consequence
of your own
poor judgement,
dumb things
done or said.
while some trouble
is perhaps
just God,
taking time off,
blessing you
with trouble
by turning his
head.

babble

you say things
you don't mean,
and mean
things you don't
say.
somewhere
in the middle
is all
the other babble
that gets you
from point B
to point A.
and when you
hear a baby
crying in his
crib you
understand
where it all
begins.

on the wagon

so many people you
know are on the wagon.
all the fun
drunks you used to hang
out with, are bone
dry and drinking
club sodas and apple juice.
it's hard to go
out with them anymore.
the guilt you feel
as you order your mai
tais and vodka tonics.
they don't appreciate
how funny and charming
you become as the night
wears on. they don't
chuckle as you drip
food onto your shirt
or insult people by
pointing and making
faces, no
instead they get a napkin
and dip it into their
glasses of ice
water to dab out the
stains. they say, shhhh,
you're yelling. stop
yelling. always telling
you to pull up
your zipper. oh how they
used to get your
jokes and laugh and
laugh all night long
with you, staggering
home together, falling
in the street, tearing
your pants. what fun
you used to have,
finding a bush to
throw up in,
and now they just
wave and pat you
sympathetically on
the back, asking if they
can drive or walk
you home. telling you
to drink water and take
two aspirins. they are just
no fun anymore.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

left overs

you can
smell something
rotten
in Denmark.
that cold
place
where you keep
your milk
and eggs,
left overs.
the second
the heavy door
swings open
you are reminded
of what went
into love,
and what never
came out.
you are down
to a paper bag
full of
memories,
not to be touched
again.

men and women

in the winter
you see a lot of
men spitting.
men like to spit a
lot.
they make loud
animal noises
as they clear
their throats.
not so much with
women.
they blow their
noses politely
with pink
tissues they have
in their purses.
letting out little
mouse squeaks.
not men.
men hold their noses
and turn
their heads towards
the curb
and blow like
elephants.
it's horrible.

the retreat

you sign up
for a religious retreat
out in the woods
across three
states. you feel
that it might be
good for you,
get you back on track
with being the person
you really are
deep inside this pair
of leather pants
you are wearing.
already you start
to worry about if
there is a starbucks
nearby.
maybe you shouldn't
do this.
you haven't been to
confession since
you were thirteen,
and virtually
sinless. a lot
has happened since
then. to say the least.
but maybe there will
be some
attractive vulnerable
women there.
crying women, you
think. you are a good
listener. you can
help them.
you can do this. but
maybe you should shave
first, take
a shower.

a many splendored thing

it wasn't the nine
cats
or the three dogs,
or two
ex husbands
that ended your
relationship with
her. nor was
it the fact that
the kitchen was
a foreign
planet to her,
no, it was something
else, something
you can't quite
exlplain. her dissecting
your mail
and doing a forensic
examine on
your computer, that
didn't bother you
too much either.
dusting for
fingerprints
on your bed posts
and silverware,
and tapping your
phone, none of that
had anything
to do with the break
up. you accepted
her long stays in
rehab, ignored
her criminal record,
you were as loving
and compromising
as any man could
be, but then something
just clicked,
maybe there is
someone else out
there better suited
for the likes
of me. maybe.

Monday, January 6, 2014

what's your name?

the physician asks
her
who the president
is
and she responds
with a shrug,
what's your
name, he says,
and she looks
curiously at her
hands.
do you know what
day it is, he prods
gently
getting her to
look up
and stare into his
eyes. she smiles,
then turns her
attention
to a button
on her blouse,
but when you come
in to visit,
she says your
name, and for
now that means
everything.

i hate winter

sometimes
when you go outside
on a cold
January
morning,
the cloud of
heat escaping
from your mouth
and you
stand still
and the wind
has settled,
when there is no
rustle in the trees
from birds
or wild life,
you can hear
the collective
murmuring
of the masses,
cursing as one,
as they scrape
the windshields
of their cars
free of ice,
I hate winter,
I hate winter
I hate winter.

we were so good together

they can't all
be winners
you tell your friend
sally,
as she cries
into the phone
from Alaska
where she went
to escape her
broken heart,
but took it with
her.
you can hear
the sled dogs
barking,
the whoosh of
the snow and ice
as she glides
through the wind
and frozen
snow. but I loved
him, she says,
blubbering
into her cell
phone. we were
so good together.
the karaoke nights,
taking cooking
classes together,
waking up
early to see
the sunrise. maybe
you pushed him
too hard to do
the things you like
to do, you tell
her gently.
I wish he was
here she says,
ignoring that
and cracking her
whip onto
the lead dog's
behind. tomorrow
we are climbing glaciers,
oh, I wish he
was here. he'd
have loved that.


there you go


sometimes you doubt
the veracity
of the bible
despite your faith
and earnest prayers.
so much of it
seems far fetched
like tall tales
told around
a campfire,
but when
the discovery
channel finds
through
thorough research
and excavation
the monogrammed
towels of
adam and eve,
well, you nod
your head and say,
there you go.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

you're crazy

you buy a psychology
book because you want to
understand people,
your lunatic family
for instance,
your loved ones, to
understand yourself,
why you need to shut
all the dresser drawers
before you go to sleep
with no clothes
sticking out. you want
to find out what makes
people do what they
do, behave the way
they behave. you
burrow into the writings
of jung and freud,
james and gladwell,
kinsey and skinner,
each having their say.
it's quite depressing
you think, taking a
break and going to
the kitchen to carefully
cut a lime to drop into
your tonic and Tanqueray.
standing over
the kitchen sink,
staring out to
the parking lot you see
the woman next door
cutting a perfect
path around her car
from the snow. sweeping
gently each flake
off the windshield.
you see her lips moving,
counting the strokes,
again and again
as the snow
keeps falling.

in a minute

you succumb
to the cold and go
to the minute clinic
at the local drugstore.
you take a number
and sit next to moses
and Bathsheba,
also both
sniffing and
sneezing with balled
wads of pastel
Kleenex in
their hands and
tucked flowerly
into their shirts,
or blouses.
it has come this.
under the bright flicker
of store lights,
your lungs
and sinuses at
the mercy of medication
dealt casually
from the hands of
a child
behind the glass
who has never heard
of john lennon,
singing about
him and yoko eating
chocolate cake
from a bag over
the muzak system.

the death of spot

we hardly
knew the small
blonde gerbil
bought with
a point of a
child's finger
from pet smart,
named on the spot
as spot.
we heard his or
her
wheel
tumble in its
familiar
squeak
at all hours,
he or she did nothing,
but eat and sniff,
scurry about in
it's gerbil way,
but little did
we know
the grief
we'd feel when
the power lines
went down
and the heat
went off.
the silence was
the clue.
he or she
was not buried
under the sand
or wood chips
in the small
cage, there was no
escape
to lower ground,
away from the tall
dresser
where it lived.
the arms and legs
were straight
up as he or she lay
stiff, having
surrendered it's short
loved life
to the cold.
so to the snow
covered yard we took
him or her in a small
white box.
tossing the hard
earth upon it, saying
things we will one
day say for
each other.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

oven head

maybe it's not
just a head cold
like you've claimed
for three weeks.
maybe it's the black
plague.
or the swine flu,
or a flu strain
yet to be named
brought in by monkeys
from Africa.
maybe you could
drill some extra
holes into your head
to completely drain
the unending supply
of liquids that
keep dripping out
of your worn out
red nose.
maybe you could put
your head in an
oven for a few
minutes, turn it
up to broil and see
what that does.
yeah, maybe.

flu shot

as you sit
in a plastic
red chair
at the crowded
drugstore
pharmacy
waiting your turn
for a flu
shot
your mind drifts
as you get sleepy,
falling into an
almost dream like
stupor in the haze
of lights
and piped in music.
you hum
to jim Morrison
singing people are
strange, closing
your eyes, tapping
your snow
boots against
the wet tiled floor.
it feels nice,
despite your
dripping nose
and headache. it's all
good until
the woman sitting
next to you,
who looks like
grandma moses,
taps you with
her cane and says,
hey, you're
touching me. move
over.

Friday, January 3, 2014

change for laundry

the laundry
room has rules.
governed by a strict
policy
posted on a beam
where the light
switch is.
don't leave
your clothes behind.
don't shake
the machines.
don't get in
the dryers.
these are good
solid rules.
rules to be broken
on a daily
basis.

folk music blues

you tune in
to pbs
on a cold
Friday night
to watch
a show on folk music.
after an hour
or so
you want to kill
your self.
the songs are
mostly
about people
on the road
with broken hearts
and broken teeth,
empty pockets,
and the desire
to be free
from whatever bad
hand life has
dealt them.
you get it, you
love bob dylan,
but when joan baez
starts singing
I dreamed I saw
st.augustine,
you can only
take so much
before you get
up to order a pizza
and change the
channel
on the tv.

the rust

your rust
is never at
bay.
never resting.
your bones
need
oil, your
gears
need to be spun
forward
to start your
day.
the rain
stiffens
your back,
the snow,
keeps you inside
on raised
legs,
with hot
tea,
and sighs.

snow poem

unsettled
in your sleep
you listen
to ice
form outside
your window.
the tightening
of natures
screws
against the road,
the trees,
the power
lines.
the sky
shakes free
what's white.
when you awaken
the world
is a beautiful
woman
with a sharpened
knife.

go quickly

go quickly,
don't linger
in this pale
winter light,
the fog
of memory
haunting you.
take your eyes
off your
folded hands
and go quickly
away from
this closing
room, those
grieving
at your bedside.
go quickly
to where you
need to be,
whatever was to
done is finished
here,
go quickly
without regrets
and leave.




Thursday, January 2, 2014

the coat you wear

as the earth
is swallowed in
white
and the arms
of trees
sag heavy with
what has fallen,
into your
arms, I find
my warmth
and delight,
slipping easily
into the coat
you wear.

january 2nd

you vow
to eat less cake
this year
you think
as you cut one
more square
of spice cake
with cream cheese
frosting
from the pan.
more fiber too.
you definitely need
to bump up
your intake of fiber.
which would be what?
oat bread?
a hundred
sit ups a day,
you promise yourself,
staring
into the mirror,
tapping your stomach
with the frosted fork.
fifty push ups,
a five mile walk
run
every other day,
and lots of
water.
lots and lots
of water you say
to yourself. nodding.
tomorrow.
definitely tomorrow.

black socks

I'm lonely,
she calls to tell
you on new years eve.
you can hear
her cat purring
in her lap,
the slight slosh
of wine
in her glass
as she tilts
it towards
her lips,
then a sigh.
what are you doing,
she says?
ironing socks,
you tell her.
no really, she says.
why aren't you
out tonight
ringing in
the new year.
going to some wild
party?
I don't like new
years eve, you
tell her,
the confetti,
kissing strangers,
the bad food
and too much drinking.
plus I have
a basket of black
socks to sort
and iron.
we're old aren't
we, she says,
crunching on some
re-gifted
peanut brittle
she got for Christmas
from you.
perhaps, you
say, perhaps.


the odds

your friend
likes to gamble.
everything is
a bet.
will it snow,
will it rain.
will the jets
cover
on sunday.
look at that dog,
he says,
crossing the road,
then gives you
odds on whether
or not he'll
make it.
the green light
turning red,
he bets
that he can
speed through
before it changes
color.
his eyes
flicker like
the wheels
on a one armed
bandit
in old las
vegas. his heart
thumps
with anticipation.
it's a drug
he can't shake,
not ever, you bet.