Friday, February 28, 2014

under the bed

you find a wig,
blonde
and white like
andy
warhol's hair,
a whip,
a fake gun,
leather boots
and a gallon jar
of some
slippery
substance
marked only
by the word
hot.
a polaroid
camera
is nearby. you
get the feeling
there is something
more going on
around here,
than meets
the eye.

her secrets

her secrets
are all over the floor.
she steps
on them, screams,
picks one
up and flings
it at you.
now, she says,
do you understand
where I'm
coming from, who
I really am,
want more?
this is when you
do what you are best
at,
gathering
your few things,
and backing slowly
out the room,
inching
towards
the door.

blue collar


the blood of
the butcher
abstracted
upon his
white smock.
coal dust
under the nails
of striped
miners exiting
darkness
into more
darkness.
the white spray
of paint
on the eye
brows
of men still
bent in that
same way
at the end of
a shift.
welders holding
solder
in their mouths,
taking home
the metal
taste of their
flames
with them.
each to his own
muscle
and brawn, beating
back
fatigue
and want, always
ready
to go on, for
what choice
is there?

closure

the missed
calls pile up.
one by one you call
them back.
window salesmen,
mostly.
collections for
the lost
soldiers
of the Vietnam
war,
cops wanting
dough for a cause
that you
aren't quite
sure of.
do you have any
clothes to donate.
hang ups galore.
women in heat.
some angered by
your absence,
or presence. it
can go either way
these days,
but being
a responsible
person, you dial
each one back to
get to the end
of it. closure
is your middle
name.

how nice it is

how nice
it is that the phone
hasn't
rung
yet.
how sweet
the sound of silence.
to hear
no one's cares
or woes.
to even leave
for one
moment your own
troubles
alone.
how nice it
is to bathe in
the glorious cold
quiet of
this February
day.

no exit

as the man
beside her drools
and twitches
on the leather couch,
and the woman
singing opera
into the corner
raises her arms
to the applause
she hears,
and the woman with
no teeth
crawls towards
the door, hoping
that that is
the way out,
your mother looks
at you with
tears in her eyes
and says, what
am I doing here.
I want to go home.

your own cell

perhaps you turn
the key
deciding each day
where to lay
your head,
what to eat,
what to say
and to whom.
perhaps you are
your own
guard closing
the barred gate,
locking you
in tight for
another restless
tumbling
night. perhaps
you are the judge
and jury
of your own
life, sentencing
yourself to
a long stretch
of ambivalence
and distrust,
rattling your cup
against the bars,
saying you
are innocent, this
is unjust.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

what happened

what happened
then
is disclosed
in an angry
barrage
of bitten
words, bloodied
tongues
and shame.
who's
fault it is,
who let him
up the stairs
to touch her
innocence
now has a name.
it's more clear
who owns
this thing so
dark
and vile
and long
ago. it's her
fairy tale,
warped and warmed
in awakened
days
of dream.

tax season

your tax lady
of three decades
works out of a cape
cod house
along route 28, in
a section of Virginia
that still
believes that the south
will rise again.
Dixie flags fly
high and low
on beat up cars
and trucks
across the old
battlefields.
cows loom large,
standing in one's
or two
with weeds
hanging from
their mouths,
and yet she files
electronically.
she's small and
stout, hair curled
wildly on it's
own thin ground,
a character
out of a wrinkle
in time. full of
magic numbers.
she likes
to say things like
I hope they don't
put us in jail
this year, as
she hands you back
your finished return
and points to the line
where you need to
initial, initial,
or sign.


to wait it out


rare to see a lazy
red bird
sitting in
a tree with
the paper,
robe still on
in the middle
of the day,
having coffee.
he doesn't seem
bothered
by the weather
the snow,
or frost
that lingers.
he bathes
in slow crawl
of winter.
he's content
to wait it out.
and wishes you
would too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the sisters

how vicious
the sisters fight.
claws out,
fangs
armed with venom
full of
spite.
sisters once
sharing a room
as children,
saying
prayers together
to begin
each night.
how strange to
see them this
way.
at odds as
their mother
who once brushed
both their
hair now slips
from her
darkness into
new light.

dear nigerian prince

it bewilders you
that there is
so much royalty
in that country, but
you finally give in
to the frequent
and persistent requests
of so many
Nigerian princes.
they write so neatly
and kindly to you
on a daily basis.
it's almost as if they
know what a good
and decent person
you are.
they have no place
to put their money
because of banking
snafus in their own
country. okay, okay.
you write back. I
will help you.
here's my account
number, deposit all
your millions
there, but you have
to promise that you'll
give me my ten
per cent just like
you said you would.
I'm trusting you with
all my heart, so
please don't let
me down.
I'm giving you my
atm password too, just
in case you need
to draw out some
of your own money to
tide you over until
your banking issues
are resolved. do not
share it with anyone
else, okay? so glad
that I could help you
in your time of need.
your friend, always,
jimmy. god bless.

the factory workers

the shirtwaist
factory workers,
having won
a small raise
in pay, a lessening
of hours, after
bravely striking
for weeks
and weeks.
some imprisoned
or beaten
by police on
the take
go back to work
as almost slaves.
the back door is
locked to keep
thievery at bay,
the small
elevator is
a slow, and impossible
escape.
their fingers
bleed from
the constant
spinning of thread,
in rows at
their machines,
the sharp steel
needles pounding out
a thousand
stitches per
minute, so when
the fire begins
and the smoke rises,
and the hoses don't
reach the sixth
floor, what is
there to say,
as the women float
in their
dresses like
flowers
to the ground,
aflame.

put your boots on

what is this road
less traveled
nonsense.
if you're going
in the wrong
direction,
turn back
around, quit
the road you're
on and find
another one.
if you're
sixty, seventy,
it doesn't matter.
put your boots on
nancy,
and keep walking.

pfffft, the law

when they finally
released
you from prison for
cutting off
all of your mattress
tags, you threw
your hands into
the air, fell
to the ground
and kissed the sweet
green earth.
you were rehabilitated,
a new man
with a fresh
start. never again
would you break
the law you promised
to yourself
as you walked
across the street,
jaywalking.

how much is that puppy



as you fill
out the paperwork
to perhaps
take ownership
of a small dog
asleep
in the store
window
you realize that
it's easier
to get married
and have
a baby than it is
to adopt a cat
or a puppy.
there seems
to be something
wrong with
that.
the world is
upside down.
save the whales,
abort
the babies. not
saying
what is right,
or what is wrong.
to each
his own conscience
and God,
or non-god
whichever case
it may be, but
human life seems to
have decreased in
value over
time.

corns on the cob

we don't like
your kind around here
boy, the man
says at the gas station
somewhere on a dirt
road between nine
corn fields.
we don't cotton
to people like
you. all sissified
with your city
clothes. why you
wearing girl shoes?
huh? you say.
these aren't
girl shoes.
you stare at your lime
green running shoes
and shrug.
I'm just looking
for directions
to get out of this
place.
where am I?
this makes him
laugh and call
his brother out from
the back room
where you hear
a toilet flush.
he don't know where
he is cecil,
he says, barely
containing his joy.
this makes them
both laugh and toss
another hunk
of chewing tobacco
into their
mouths.
well, maybe you can
google
yourself out of
here, they say,
slapping each other
on their backs
with denim
shirts, the sleeves
shredded off.
finally, they wipe
the tears out of
their eyes and spit
a long stream of
brown goo towards
a bucket in
the corner.
you know where the water
tower is boy?
no, you say, looking
out the greasy
window.
I didn't see one
when driving up.
cause there ain't none
they both say
together howling, showing
the five teeth
between them.
okay, okay. i'll find
my way out,
thanks for nothing.
don't get smart with us
boy. you don't want to know
us when we get mean.
then a woman
comes out of the back
buttoning her
long prairie dress
and she says.
leave that man alone.
you boys always messing
with people.
take the road you
came in on and go straight
then make a right
when you start to see
some cows. that'll take
you to the interstate.
sorry about my boys,
they mean well, just
feisty sometimes.
here take some of these
corns on the cob
and you come back
real soon. hear.

if elected

you run for
congress on one
issue.
to eliminate
the month
of February.
that's it. that
would cure
so many of our
ills.
go straight
to march.
no more valentine's
day to deal
with,
no birthday,
no head colds,
no snow.
and if elected,
you might even
decide to
eradicated
January from
the calendar
as well.

what the hell

you like to curse
a lot,
but only
when alone.
you can say the darkest
and most
vulgar things
when cut off
in traffic, or
the barista once
again doesn't get your
coffee just right,
or they're out
of cream.
you are a drunken
sailor
on leave with your
swear words
lashed out in
the privacy of your
home or car
or in the quiet
of your mind,
but when others
are around
you're quite
pleasant and calm.
happily at ease,
peacefully kind.

if only


if only
he says, I'd
taken
the other road
the one
I usually
take
then
this accident
would
not have happened.
if only
I'd been
a minute late
or early
for my
appointment
I would not
be sitting here
in this
ditch with smoke
rising from
the hood of
my car.
if only
I'd married
the other girl,
taken
the other job,
gone to a different
school.
if only I'd
gotten more sleep
more rest,
taken a vacation
or two.
if only
my parents had
never met
and had me.
none of this would
have happened.
if only.

shovel me out

winter won't
go away.
the old man in
his heavy coat
long white
beard
and frosted
hair
wants to stay.
this is my
time, he says.
my hour
of weather.
I want to make
slick your roads
down
your lines,
close
your schools
and work.
I want to linger
just a little
bit longer.
I am old.
but I am strong.
quit whining,
and shovel
me out.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

breakfast all day

it's a long
red bricked building
nestled in between
car dealerships
and gas
stations, beaten
paths of shrubs
and splotches
of wild flowers
and brown grass
grow on the median
beside the highway.
it's been
there since
the 1940's.
breakfast all
day
the sign flickers
on the foggy window
shrouded by
thick rubber
curtains.
a placard turned
over on the sill
reads open.
next door is a tattoo
parlor,
on the other
side a Chinese
carryout bustles
with a bell that
rings every time
the door swings
open.
a hub cab store
with baby moons
on display
in the window
has the prime
spot on
the corner. they
open at 11.
but moe's is the
place to go.
limited parking.

the artists

you see the starving
artists
out on the street
corner
with signs
on neatly printed
cardboard
sheets. will write
a poem for food.
will paint
a portrait for
money. will sing
you a song for
applause and
affection, a cold
beer and a
sandwich. there's
hardly room
for you and your
balloons, as you
blow them up
and twist them
into zoo animals.

Monday, February 24, 2014

wedding day

two kids smoking
outside
the courthouse.
goosebumped
with an april chill,
leaning
into one another
with scarecrow
faces,
limbs like
crooked branches,
thin and pale
as birch.
as in love as one
can be
towards one
another.
big eyed and
woozy perhaps
from pre-celebration,
or bought courage.
within minutes
the clerk will
pronounce them
man and wife,
before sending them
both out
into a new day
of staggering
light.

futon

because you snore
she puts
you in the basement
with the horse
hair blanket
and the stiff
slab of a bed
called a futon.
you think of other
words that would
describe it more
clearly, but you
don't even whisper
such things. you say.
fine. this
bed will do.
this itchy blanket,
this straw pillow.
no, it doesn't bother
you at all
to have your feet
hang over the end.
suffering is
what we do for
one another to
make love
stronger.

burning bridges

with a match
you turn in anger
and stop, you
strike it
hard against a rock
then set the bridge
on fire.
she's on the other
side and won't
be crossing
over.
you reach the next
bridge and do
the same.
you continue on
throughout the day.
crossing bridges
then setting
them on fire.
by nightfall your
past is in flames.
good riddance you
think, regretting
what you've done
already.

dopey

after a few drinks
you and your friend
gretchen
try to remember
the names of all
seven dwarfs without
googling them
on your phone.
you get six of them
before asking
the bartender if
he knows. within
minutes the question
goes around
the bar and you
get the answer
to the seventh
dwarf, the one you
can't come with.
dopey the crowd
yells out as one.
it's old school
google, is what it
is.

we all love bacon

we love
bacon around here,
the woman
says, as you walk
around her house
giving her an estimate
to paint
and wallpaper.
my kids love
bacon, I love
bacon, my husband
loves bacon.
I do too, you tell
her, measuring
the wall
behind the stove
where bacon
sizzles in a deep
black pan. I don't
believe all that
medical information
about clogging up
your arteries, she
says. nonsense.
we are fit as fiddles
around here.
I could wrap
dog treats in bacon
and my kids would
eat them,
she says, laughing,
then taking
a fork and flipping
over the crackling
strips of bacon.
yup, we sure do
like bacon
around here. I bet
we eat two
pounds a week.
maybe
when you come to
do the work,
i'll make you
a bacon sandwich.
that would be
wonderful you tell
her, rubbing
your greasy hands
together. I can hardly
wait.

go forth and floss

you don't like going
to the dentist.
but you go.
you cringe and accept
the probing
of sharp metal
instruments into your
open mouth.
you close your eyes
when the heavy
lead blanket is
placed over
your vital organs
for the x-ray
then then click.
it's the shine of
the room, the lights,
the soft rock
music, all giving
you a false sense
of comfort, that there
is no pain involved.
you put on the safety
goggles
as the chair goes
back. your blue
bib set loosely
around your neck
and chin.
the hygienist
talks gently to
you as she sprays
water, tells you to
spit, and digs and
scrapes like a miner
in the cavern of
your mouth. have you
been flossing, she
says, her hands
still in your mouth,
you blink twice
for yes. flossing is
vital, she says,
looking into your
watering eyes.
yes, you blink again.
yes, yes.
you have to floss
she says again, taking
her hands out
of your mouth and
giving you a Dixie
cup to spit in. I love
to floss you tell her.
flossing is my
life. good she says.
good.

i found this lump in the shower

what's new
your neighbor asks
as he sees
you getting home
from work
carrying groceries
in. nothing, you tell
him, adjusting
the bags in your arms.
what's new with you.
I'm having a hernia
operation next
week, he says,
grabbing at
his abdomen.
oh, you say, well,
that's too bad.
I hope it goes
okay. yeah, he
says. I found it
the other day
while taking a
shower. it's a big
lump. I called
my wife in to take
a look and she
couldn't believe
the size of it.
hmmm, you say. well,
I've got to get
these bags inside.
eggs and what not,
don't want anything
to spoil. okay, okay.
he says. well, i'll
let you know how
it goes. what?
the operation. I
go under the knife
tomorrow. oh, yeah.
well, keep me up to
date on that.
I will, he says,
limping away towards
someone else
getting of their
car.

we're out of that

I took the last
round of drinks off
your bill
the waitress says
smiling.
I'm sorry that the food
was late,
and cold, and it
wasn't what you
ordered, but we
ran out of risotto
and salmon.
chicken and pasta,
but I hoped you
liked the peanut
butter sandwiches
we were able to
make for the both
of you.
is there anything
else I can get
you, dessert perhaps.
we're out of
everything, but
I think we scan scrape
some ice up
and pour sugar on it.
sorry, no coffee,
but we do
have hot water
and some lemon
wedges.

the plant


you bring your mother
a plant.
a small green
leafy
thing, portable
with soft
loose dirt. you
set a small
plastic
watering can
beside it on
her sill
where the light
streams
down from
the basement
window well. you
sit on her
empty bed
as you wait
for her to finish
what she needs
to do in
the bathroom
where someone
stands beside,
helping. her house
was full
of plants, her
garden. the flowers
in their boxes.
the kitchen.
they were everywhere.
green children,
but now down
to one.

the life raft


an elderly group
of four women
and one man
are discussing egg
whites.
you see them
at a large round table
in the steak house
restaurant
that leans towards
cowboy land
with antlers
and boots
on shelves.
badly painted
prairies with
blue horses
and cows. they
are dressed in
church clothes, two
women in leopard
print shawls,
the man with a clip
on bird blue tie.
their lives have
led them here.
at the same table,
together.
surviving on the raft
given to them
or chosen.
it doesn't matter
which, they are afloat
still after
all these years.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

mutual bliss

singular bliss
is a wonderful thing,
but mutual bliss
is what plants
a perpetual
smile
on your face.
how hard can
that be?
nearly impossible
it seems, but
one is
always willing
to try again
and again to
get there, to find
him or her
throwing not just
your head into
the ring, but
your heart as well.

wanda's date

all men think
about is sex, wanda
tells you
on the phone at
seven a.m.
what is with men?
they never want to
do stuff.
all of them talk
about going to the beach
and museums,
and the theater,
blah blah blah,
but after two drinks
they are trying
to unbutton
your blouse, or
look up your
address.
who is this, you
say? looking at
the clock. wanda.
it's me, wanda.
oh, so the date didn't
go well?
hold on, he's in
the bathroom getting
dressed.
I need to pretend
I'm sleeping
again until he leaves.
i'll call you back.

temptation

you go to a meeting
called the prodigal sons
just to observe
and take notes.
you sit in a large
circle of long faces
twitching legs
and tapping fingers.
the confessions are
all the same.
wine, women, sex, booze,
drugs, lying,
cheating, stealing,
porn and potato chips,
basically all of
ten commandments are
represented and then
some. welcome back
the leader says,
smiling as he scratches
his arms and sips
on a diet coke. jimmy
put your phone away
unless it's something
you want to share with
the group.
there is a table of
donuts at the end
of the room
that everyone stares
at. hot coffee.
and candy.
it's a jittery group.
the bible says to
forgive seventy times
seven, the leader
says loudly,
thumping what looks
like a restaurant
menu. so a lot of
you still have a
slim chance
of straightening
up. okay, let's take
a break now, anyone
have a cigarette?

outside

how strange it is
to see someone
on the street
that you only knew
at work,
or in a darkened
bar, or
church. what a
different light
and view
you held them in
apart from now,
the moment you
are in,
and they are
startled too,
both surprised
that each of you
could exist outside
only a place
well known,
who knew?

Friday, February 21, 2014

you miss her

your grandmother
who told everyone
to shut up when
liberace was on tv,
was full of tall tales.
she loved to brag
about her grand children.
if you took a biology
class she told
everyone how
you were in med school
and about to become
a doctor. if you
took a trip abroad,
you were a diplomat,
row a boat out
to go fishing and she
told a story about
your naval ambitions
and how the academy
would welcome you
with open arms.
she used to yell at
you to get away from
the window before
lightning strikes
you, then pull you
over to the tv
and ask you to pray
with her, to put your
hands on the set
as billy graham preached
in some great coliseum.
pray that jesus
will accept you
and that you won't
go to hell like
your catholic mother.
she was fun to
be around, your
grandmother.
you miss her.

adjusted assisted living

you get the call
that they want to move
your mother
from the main floor
where the opera singer
sings, the sleepers
shake and drool
on the long red
leather couch,
and where verne
wanders like a lost
veteran of the civil
war. she's a night
owl, they say.
she needs a tv
and a remote control.
she's up all
night wandering
the halls on her
bad feet, keeping
the others awake.
we are not going to
shackle her, it hasn't
come to that yet,
but we need to do
something to keep
her in one place.
so, she'll be in
the basement from
now on. it's the same
price, except for
cable.

to interrupt

you interrupt,
not out of rudeness,
but of boredom.
you finish
the sentence,
embellish where
it needs to be,
add and subtract
according to what
holds
your interest.
you jump ahead
guessing what
might be said.
you are an annoying
listener, you
know that.
but you can't help
it. it's one of
the many faults you
possess and
are working on.

blue green shutters

it was a small house
ten feet from
the road
with a mud
driveway and a dog
chained to a
mulberry tree
out front.
two blue green
shutters,
the color
of poor, hung
unbalanced in front
of a picture
window
where the curtain
was twisted
from being peeked
out so often
to see who was
at the door.
it was not heart
breaking or sad,
quite the opposite.
it was nostalgic.
you could smell
cabbage
cooking on a stove.

ya'll come back

it surprises you
sometimes, living here
in washinton dc
when you hear a deep
drawl, a southern
accent with flair
and exaggeration.
words suddenly have
extra syllables,
there is a slow
molasses way
of speaking, expressing
oneself. you almost
look out the window
to see if there
is a horse tied up
out front to the
hitching post.
your mind wanders
and thinks about
the civil war. for
the next five hours
you start saying things
like ya'll and
isn't that special,
we'll aren't you just
a peach?
you hug people
a little too long,
and want a piece
of shoo fly pie
with your coffee.

the nail

you drive a nail
into a board.
then pull it out.
you do this over and
over, practicing.
you want to build
something, but you
aren't sure what.
an ark perhaps,
a fence, a wall
between you and
the world. maybe you'll
hang a picture
on the nail at
some point. but it
feels good just
driving the nail.
a common ordinary
nail into a piece
of hard wood.
it keeps you focused.
gives meaning
to an otherwise
quiet day.

staggering home

you aren't sure why.
but you love
zombie movies
and shows.
it's not the blood
and guts,
the amazing make up
that they wear
with rotting
skin and teeth,
or the way they
walk, awkwardly
and slow, never
quite right, wordless
except for grunts
and groans.
but it interests
you, the idea of
the dead coming back
to life and wanting
to eat you.
their appetites
being insatiable,
their quest for human
flesh without
end. they are so
much like us, you
think as you crowd
on to the subway
on your way home.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

no fever

you don't have
Olympic fever.
not even a sniffle,
or a runny nose
for the events.
you just don't care
this time around
about who wins
or loses. give them
all medals, who cares.
there are no
losers here. off
they go
slipping and sliding
around in their
day glow outfits.
somehow the games
have lost their charm,
their innocence,
their je ne sais pas.
you switch the channel
on the ski jumps
before they even
land, and the cupcakes
ice skating
are too dramatic
and cold. maybe
it's you though,
maybe it's the snow
outside your window.
you'd like a medal
for making it to
work in that storm.
maybe not gold, but
at least copper, or
tin. something.

birdville

you wonder
if birds gossip
and talk trash
with one another.
do they point
their wings
at other birds
and whisper,
just who does
he thing he is
with those
wings and bright
colors.
he whistled at
me the other
day and I pretended
not to hear.
as if he's
getting any of
this. give me
a bite of that
worm, would you?
and did you hear
that woodpecker
last night,
all night long.
there should be
laws, no pecking
after dark.
I don't know how
long I'm going
to stay in these
woods, things
have changed. the
birds here are different
from where I came
from. less
friendly and apt
to help you with
your nest, or to
point out when a snake
is coming up
the tree to eat
your eggs.
look, here comes
mister show off.
don't look, don't
even...too late.
oh, look, he's got
a cricket in his
mouth. I wonder if
it's for me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

the lunch box

there was something
about the steel
lunch box painted
scotch plaid
or blue
with stars, or
cowboys on horses
riding across its
back. it swung
in your small
hand with purpose
and promise.
the thermos
gave it weight.
a white bread
sandwich wrapped
in cellophane.
was it tuna, or
peanut butter,
or god forbid
egg salad.
three vanilla wafers
neatly bunched
together in a small
clear bag. a green
apple rolling
about, thumping.
there was such promise
in the box, that
almost always
went unfulfilled,
but at least
there were no cut
carrots or celery
stalks.

we can help you get rich

it's rare, but sometimes
you are in an easy mood,
so easy and amenable that
you pick up the phone despite
seeing that it's a private caller.
you are able to listen
to a salesperson who calls
you cold wanting to expand
your business. you fix
some tea and toast
and take a seat at the table.
they talk so fast,
so many in a room,
it reminds you of chickens
clucking in a barn yard.
what's keeping you from moving
forward the saleswoman asks?
I don't know you say. I'm stuck.
sometimes I don't know which
way to go with my life.
to move, or stay put. get married,
stay single. I'm having trouble
sleeping. any advice you have
would be greatly appreciated.
no, no, she says. with us,
what's keeping you from joining
us in expanding your business,
building your brand,
helping you create a web site
that will make you wealthy.
for only four hundred dollars
a month we will make you rich.
you want to be rich, don't you?
not really, you say. I think
I have enough stuff right now.
but she says, we can help you.
you are missing a golden
opportunity. for this month
only we have a special. would
you like to talk to our
specialist. he can assist
you with any questions
you might have.
at this point you sigh, you
have no choice but to slip
the phone back into its
cradle. you stir your tea,
take a knife and smooth out
some blueberry jam in the center
of the browned bread.
you wait for the next
important call.

slow down

you barely see
the woman speeding
in her enormous
suv
through the narrow
streets
with kids
and dogs in tow.
a riot
of sound and music
filling
their sealed
and sailing
metal land
capsule.
you look both
ways at the stop
sign, but she nearly
hits you just
the same.
slamming
on her brakes to
glare at you,
to shake her head
and curse.
to throw her hands
into the air
as if you alone
have created
her world of
frenetic speed
and despair.

to strike

not unlike
the coiled
rattle snake
whose
tail
shakes like
castanets
when preparing
to strike, so
too do I see
the hairs on
your skin rise
up, the blue in
your eyes
go wild,
the venom in
your short
clipped words
drip clear.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

go to bed

your mother
who bore seven
children in ten
years
was a machine
with pistons for arms
hanging
wet clothes
to the line on
steel legs,
her laser eyes
could find
anything hidden
or lost.
she could chase
you down
like a fox
on a rabbit.
she knew what
you were thinking
before you
the words
came tumbling
out of your
wise guy mouth.
don't even say
it, she'd say, or
it's the soap.
you remember
asking if you could
feel her muscles,
and she would flex
her arms like
rosie the riveter.
don't mess with me
she'd say,
pick up your clothes,
brush your
teeth go to bed
and pray.

let it happen


you can't worry
about the asteroid
slinging
its hot space
debris
into the planet
causing a cataclysmic
end to life.
you have a book
over due
at the library.
the trash needs
to be set out
by the curb.
your dog needs
a walk.
some things you
can control,
while others
there is nothing
you can do
but let happen.

king no more

they find
the remains,
mostly bones
of king Richard
the third
buried in a store
parking lot.
there is no gold
crown, or jewels
found with him.
he had a bad
back.
curvature of
the spine.
a deformity
that made him
hunch over.
his wounds
were many,
apparently he
was disliked
for being evil,
as it should
be, and tossed
aside once slain,
as if a mongrel
dog. you hear
someone
on tv make
a joke about
whether he
was buried in
a handicap
parking spot.
it's funny, but
it isn't too
funny, for he,
however briefly,
was once king.

the son in law

your ex in-laws
had a way of looking
at you, as if they
were always trying
to determine
if you were
best for their
daughter.
there was that side
ways glance,
the squint of
suspicion. you were
always trying
to keep things on
the up and up,
be polite and
caring. especially
around
the holidays,
you were attentive
to their table talk
about things
you had no interest
in. you smiled
and played along,
but cringed inside
knowing that right
at that moment
there was the biggest
game of the year
going on while
you were chuckling
to a joke about
giblet gravy.
but by the third
year of marriage you
were in the livingroom
with your plate
of food, the game on,
drumstick in
hand, sitting at
a tv tray brought
up from the basement,
while the festivities
went on in the other
room.

i got your bean sprouts

you aren't to be
trusted
with chocolate
in the house.
or ice cream
or chips
or cookies or
anything slightly
resembling
unhealthy food.
you can eat
your way through
a whole cake
or pie in a week.
however put a fresh
bunch of carrots
in the fridge,
some bean sprouts,
or broccoli,
well those things
may be there
until the end
of time.

what's happened to us?

hey, you yell to your
dog who is on
the couch chewing
a rawhide chip
while watching television.
the mail man is coming.
how come you aren't
at the door barking?
he shakes his head.
I'm done with that.
what's the point, it's
not like I ever get
to chase him and bite
his ankles. the other
day I was at the door
barking and scratching
and he dropped
an ikea catalogue
through the slot
onto to my head. I think
I heard him laughing too.
it was the annual sale.
thick as an anvil.
I'm done with mail men.
when are we going for
a walk, he says. making
a sucking sound, trying
to get some bits of
rawhide out of his teeth.
there's absolutely nothing
on t.v. I haven't
rolled in anything dead
in weeks. ever since
you started dating
that prissy girlfriend
of yours I can't
even walk through
a puddle of mud, or
jump into the creek.
hey hey, he says, barking,
are you listening.
are you texting while
I'm talking to you?
I'm tired of being taken
off the bed and put
outside the door like
an animal while you two
are getting busy, or
whatever it is you call it.
I know what's going on
in there, I'm not stupid.
all you do is text her
all day long and send
her cute pictures
of me. no more pictures.
what's happened
to us. you and me? we
used to be so close.

lettuce teeth

why didn't you
tell me
that I had lettuce
in my teeth
you ask her
as you come back
from the rest
room.
because you
have thousand
island dressing
on your shirt
she says,
pointing
with her fork,
and your zipper
is down,
so does it
really matter
at this point?

another candle

you tell no one
that it's your birthday.
men don't believe
in birthdays, so
you obey the rules
of being a man
and stay silent
like a monk.
although, it would
be nice for a slice
of cake, some
candles to blow out,
something to wish
upon, perhaps a pair
of black socks
to join the others
from birthdays past.

the clean canvas

you take a hammer
and strike
the nail. bang,
bang, until it's
in the wall
secured enough
so that it doesn't
wiggle left
or right, or
bend.
then you take
the white canvas
that you bought,
hang it centered
upon the nail
and once more
take your brush,
your paints,
your desires,
to start all over
again.

many interests

she accuses you
of only caring about
one thing.
which isn't true
at all.
there are other
things that hold
your interest.
you have many interests,
it's just that when
she's around
you can't remember
what they are.

inspiration

you dislike
so much poetry.
you shake your head
and curse what
you read.
you use alliteration
and metaphors
to show your disdain
for frost
and Whitman
bukowski and plath.
you read and
read, turning the pages
while soaking
in the tub, lying in
bed, at a red light
in your truck.
how angry you get
at these poems.
what drivel,
what junk, who did
these people sleep
with to get these
poems published?
what devil do you need
to sell your soul
to to get there too.
and yet
how carefully you
put these books back
onto the shelves.
sliding them
safely into places
where they can be
disliked even more,
at a later date when
you need inspiration.

the new dress

she spins around
in her new dress
and new shoes,
holding her chin
up, smiling.
she says,
well, how do you
like it. and you
reply. only you
could get away
with what you're
wearing, only you
possess the charm
and figure to pull
off such an
outfit of color
and style. go wait
in the car, she
says. it will
take me just a
minute to change.

what happened

you want to know
what happened.
you want to turn
to the last
page
and see how
the story ended.
you want the person
speaking
to get to the point
to stop
stopping
to keep going
straight ahead,
to stop meandering
down back roads
through
the brambles
and thickets of
bad story telling.
get to the point,
tell me what
happened,
you want to scream,
but you don't.
you can see how
much pleasure they
are getting by
dragging out.
milking,
massaging, rambling
on to the point
where you
almost don't care.

Monday, February 17, 2014

bending

you bend as
you age.
less bothers you.
you shrug
a lot and say
so what.
it's more about
the nap now
what's for dinner,
the weather
and books,
a matinee movie.
you bend
as you age, and
not just because
your back hurts
and that's how
you walk, you
just don't care
as much as
you used to. you did
most of your
caring when you
were younger
and full of
energy, full of
yourself. but it's
okay now. so much
is okay now.
you offer
no apologies.

babies in hell

are there babies
in hell
you wonder, unbaptized,
unclean
and full of adam's
sin with
no holy water or
blessings upon
their lineless
brows?
are they crawling
through the smoldering
embers
on hands
and knees. who
changes them,
who feeds and reads
to them as they
grow older, forever
unforgiven
in the lake of fire.
is there day
care in hell for
these eternally
dammed babies,
through no fault
of their own,
or do they get a
pass, as you hope
you do, by a loving
and compassionate
god.

ice

you understand ice.
how hard
it can be.
how unforgiving
and cold.
shrunken down
and frigid
in its views
of the world
and love.
you understand
ice, as you
do the warm
hand or heart
that melts it.

the fire

the house around
the corner
catches fire.
you hear the sirens,
smell the smoke.
you take a walk
to go look.
you see the firemen
in their heavy
coats, and helmets,
hoses in hand
spraying great
plumes of water
through the windows.
ladders lean
against the sills,
the crowd murmurs
with wonder, what
happened, how did
it start, is anybody
home, are there pets
inside. but no one
knows anything.
everyone stands there
in the cold,
arms folded, happy
that it isn't
their house.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

don't call me that

you wake up, make some
coffee, then go into
the living room where
you hear a loud scratching
noise. hi honey you say.
coffee? you're up awfully
early. whatcha doing?
I don't like it
when you call me names,
she says hunched over
and grinding
a knife into your
coffee table. I am
not a pyscho.
she looks up
with her smeared from
crying raccoon eyes
and waves the pen knife
at you that is attached
to her key chain.
she goes back to etching
what looks like a word
beginning with
an upper case F.
it's no way to have a
relationship by calling
one another names.
that really hurt me last
night when you did that.
you stare at the wood
chips on the floor
below the table. I'm
sorry, you tell her,
taking a sip of your
hot coffee.
you know what, you tell
her gently, you're right.
no more name calling.
I'm sorry. coffee?
I've got some green tea
in there too. English muffin?
did you take your
pills yet? where
are they, in your purse?
let me get them
for you.
oh, and don't worry
about those chips.
i'll get them with
the dust buster.

the investment

you call your stock broker
Elaine to tell her
that you want to make
an investment. you want
to roll the dice
and throw a nice hefty
sum into a product that
you use frequently on a
daily basis. Kleenex you
tell her. put everything
on Kleenex, then you say,
excuse me, put the phone
down and blow your nose
for the tenth time in
an hour. you ball up
the tissue and toss
it into the corner
where the empty boxes
are stacked, rising
to the ceiling.
sure, she says,
anything else? no, you
tell her, that should
do it for now, but i'll
call you back if I
think of anything.

stand up

you read
somewhere
that Hemmingway
liked to write
standing up
at his tall desk.
he tapped away
at his
manual
typewriter,
inserting sheet
after sheet
dispensing
sparse words
and declarative
sentences
onto the crisp
blank pages.
perhaps he had
a bad back
from reeling in
sword fish
off the florida
keys,
or bull fighting
in barcelona
or maybe he wanted
to be ready
and alert
in case he
had to put on
his boxing gloves
and punch
someone for not
being manly enough,
or perhaps one
of his many beloved
cats
was sitting
in his chair,
or his wife
or mistress, or
his twelve gauge
shotgun.

Friday, February 14, 2014

the red cardinal

these red
cardinals against
the white snow,
quirky
in their flight
from limb
to limb.
scarlet against
this wintered
world.
it takes your
mind off of
her, for an instant.
which is
a good thing.

there must be one

someone leaves
a note on your door.
I love you
it says.
you look up and
down the street
seeing no one.
you smell lavender
perfume
on the paper,
you smudge the ink
of the handwritten
words with tears
that fall unexpectedly
from your eyes.
who is this person,
you wonder, you've
always suspected
that there must
be one, but why
does she stay so
hidden, year
after year.

giving joy

you put your
head inside
a lion's mouth,
pressing his jaws
open with all
your strength.
his long sharp
teeth are
glazed with
appetite.
this makes people
happy. they stand
to clap and cheer.
how easy it is
to give joy
you think
in this strange
world.

valentine's day

how well you remember
the fear.
the anxiousness
and trembling
as you arose on that
fateful holiday
rushing to the grocery
store to find
a suitable bundle
of flowers not yet
limp and browned
from winter cutting.
how you worried if
the merry widow
outfit in black
would arrive in time
by UPS,
would she hate you
for that, again
guessing wrongly
at her size.
how you searched
for the right box
of milk chocolates
in a glossy pinkish
hued box shaped
like no one's heart.
how you rummaged
through the card
shelves, searching for
that one card that
said how you truly
felt. your hands
sweating, your
head pounding with pre
pulmonary malfunction.
dearest loved one.
no. to my favorite
wife. no. to my
true love. not even.
only the blank card
red as blood
said what needed
to be said. how
quickly you
scribbled your name
below the word
love, then rushed to
the seafood department
to find two
chicken lobsters
still barely alive,
whispering, help me,
crawling cold at
the bottom of a
sea green
glass box.

nothing happened

nothing unusual or
disturbing happened
today.
it was non eventful
from the moment you
woke up until the moment
you lay your head
on a pillow at
night to go back
to sleep. it was a
perfect day of nothing
happening.
you want more of those
days. a month of them
would be wonderful.

what are you , a doctor?

you like to hear phrases
like, yeah, well people in
hell want ice water, so
suck it up and quit whining.
you try to remember these
things to use them in
daily conversation. you think
it makes you look clever
and smart. yesterday
when someone was defending
your step father, saying
how nice he'd been behaving,
you said loudly, well,
even hitler would pass
you the salt if you asked
him. which made everyone
say, huh. hitler? but you
laughed just the same
and felt good that you
squeezed that nicely
into the conversation.
it was a good day. tomorrow
you're hoping that someone
will ask you, how are you,
so that you can say,
what are you, a doctor?
you can hardly sleep
thinking about this.

uncle johnny won't die


you had an uncle
who wouldn't die.
uncle johnny.
he had been sick for
a long time.
a long list of ailments
could be rattled
off by your aunt
luna, his wife, but
you don't remember
the exact cause
of his death when
it finally came.
sometimes you'd visit
and his eyes would
be closed, the machines
would be beeping,
and humming away,
showing that he was
still alive. his old
feet, like boney fish
would be sticking
out from the sheets
at the end of his bed.
a young doctor would come
in with a chart
and whisper something
like, it's not good.
his circulation worries me.
he's not going to
last through the week.
but then he'd wake
up and say your name, put
his blue veined hand
out to shake your hand.
how are you, he'd
say, how are the mets
doing? then he'd drift
back off to sleep
in mid sentence.
other days, you'd
visit and he'd be
sitting up eating
jello from a plastic
cup, watching television.
I need a haircut he'd
say, holding a spoon
up to see his reflection.
how can I make a move
on these nurses with
my hair like this?
after a few months
of this, he was exhausted.
we were exhausted.
death just would not
come. what's taking it
so long, he said one
day as he was flipping
through the channels
on the tv. why am I still
here. they keep telling
me soon, soon. what the
hell is going on here?
I'm ready for crying out loud.
I'm just laying here.
there's nothing on
tv. three hundred
channels and all I
watch is judge judy.
why is she yelling at
everyone all the time?
what's wrong with her.
she never let's anyone
talk. your aunt would
say calm down johnny,
you're going to have a
stroke. oh really, he'd
say. a stroke, huh?
oh, maybe then I might die.
give me a break. which
is finally to everyone's
relief what happened
three weeks later.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the small print

this pill may
make you dizzy.
you may vomit
and get blurry vision.
your face will
get flush and your
eyes will
turn red.
you might lose
your balance so please
don't operate
farm equipment
if you have any.
if you play the piano
don't. you will
drive yourself mad.
don't cook, don't
clean, don't do anything.
lie on the floor
and be still.
if an erection lasts
longer than
four hours
don't call a physician,
call instead
the rockettes.
here is their one
eight hundred number.
good luck.


the red worm

the fish
aren't biting.
they are nibbling.
ignoring
the plastic
red worm
you've cast
far into
the shallow
pond.
they nudge
it with cold
noses, then
turn to swim
away.
they want
the real thing.

non evloving species

like Darwin
you suspect that things
are evolving
between the two
of you.
what has crawled
from the sea
is walking
on land, and about
to take flight.
but you are fooled
again,
a turtle remains
a turtle, a
fish a fish,
and you, a
simple chimp
are still swinging
alone
in a tree
while the birds
around you fly
out of sight.

the what ifs

the games don't mean
as much as they used
to mean.
win or lose is almost
the same.
the missed shot,
the made shot, makes
no difference in
your day, but it
wasn't always that
way. if your team
lost you wondered
what if. what if
the ball had
gone straighter,
the kick more towards
the center. what
if a pass had been
caught and not dropped.
what if.
not so strangely, this
ambivalence has
entered other areas
of your life as well.
with work. with love.
with roads not taken,
or decisions made.
the what ifs
that used to
keep you awake at
night, turning in
your bed are no more,
and what it means
in the big picture,
you aren't quite
sure.

truth in dating

there comes a moment
in the dating world
when the person
sitting across from
you leans over
and says, before
we go any further,
there's something
I need to tell you.
sometimes it's a
benign confession
of webbed feet,
or the person has
not saved enough
for retirement, or
they have a small
insignificant
tattoo strategically
located south of
the border. these
things you don't care
about. it's just a
date. you are not
going to marry this
person, or have
children with them.
in fact the odds
are that you are never
going to see them
again. but then
there are other
confessions. such as
I'm really a man dressed
as a woman, look, see,
i have an adam's
apple, they say,
pulling down their
pink cashmere turtleneck
sweater. or I'm out
on bail for slashing my
ex husband's tires. he
refuses to move
out of the basement,
or sometimes my dog
tells me to do things
that I regret. when you
hear confessions like
these you tense up a
little and move physically
away, searching
for the bartender to
bring you the check.
you begin to appreciate
alone time.

the end of the world

the scare report,
also
called the nightly
news
says snow
is coming. prepare
for the worst.
six to eight inches
by morning.
stock up.
stay in, pray
or meditate
depending upon
your so called
new age religion.
if you have pets
don't leave them out
at night. fluffy
and fido will
be frozen solid
like popsicles.
wear a hat
if you venture out
for an emergency donut
or pint of vodka
or gin
please, wear gloves
if you have them.
those with
medical conditions
that need attention,
or the elderly,
or those without
cable tv
should just
kill themselves now
by putting their heads
into an oven.
this storm
could last at least
a day or two.
if you have a sled
and a pack of dogs
to pull it,
get them ready.
let's go
to the map now
and see
what Doppler radar
has to say.

game over

you don't want to fight.
so you give in.
let her have her
way. sure, pink walls
are fine.
and no I don't care
if your mother
comes to stay with us
for the summer.
tofu again for dinner,
sure honey, why not.
pass me the hummus.
you don't want to fight.
so you try to be on
time, you don't watch
too many games on
tv when she's around.
you don't try to make
a move on Saturday night
even though it's been
a month since
your last conjugal
visit. you're being
a good boy, walking
the line.
you don't want to fight,
so you take the high
road, being pleasantly
accepting and kind.

singing in the shower

you hear her singing
in the shower.
rap music.
she's making
thump thump noises
with her feet
and hands
as she howls
crazy rhymes
into the hot spray
of water. snoop
dog,ice t, vanilla
ice and
jay z. you only
say those names
because those
are the only
names you know.
hey, you bang on
the door, are
you singing rap
in there, i'll have
none of that in my
house young lady.
do you hear me?
but she can't hear
you, the radio
is up, and she's
saying something
about her mother.

not so eternal

her eternal
flame for you
is apparently not
so eternal.
in fact
it seems to be
out.
your world
together has
gone dark.
you see ashes
in the air.
feel the cold
damp
lumps of coal
that she calls
kisses
upon your cheek.

lost friends

like kites
in the sky, once
bright
and flashing
in the warm
sun, yellows
and blues,
reds. the string
slips
fast from
your fingers
as the wind
pulls them up.
they float away
to their own
lives
to another hand
perhaps,
not yours.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

these things

when you moved here
into her house
you didn't know
that you could hear
the stream
that rushes when
it rains
down below, caught
between the sleeve
of sand and rock,
ever changing
its curve.
when you moved
here you didn't know
that you would hear
the trains blowing
their whistles
as they crossed
the trestle beyond
the woods, near
the dam where water
tumbles across
the slant of grey
concrete.
when you moved here
you didn't know that
you could see
the path of planes,
their red taillights
flashing against
the black sky
between the trees.
when you moved here
you didn't know
that you would get
older, and more
grateful for having
known her,
but now you know
these things.

Monday, February 10, 2014

the gold ring

you catch
a large fish
that has
a ring inside.
a gold band,
a wedding ring
perhaps. you
feel bad for
the fish, and less
so for the hand
that took it
off and flung it
into a wide
stretched
sea. how
everything reaches
for what
shines bright.

there are no maps

you can tell
who has traveled
far.
it's in their
eyes, their
voice, the calm
sea of
who they are.
they didn't
get there by
train, or flight,
by walking or
car. their journey
was of a different
sort. one foot
in front
of the other.
one day into
the next.
they've been
there and back.
they carry it with
them. where
they were,
there are no
maps.

ten steps to happiness

you buy a self
help book on how to
be happy.
your friend jimmy
bought it last
week and it seems
to be working.
he had his shirt
tucked in and was
actually smiling
for once.
it's a ten step
sure fire program
to ensure
happiness throughout
the days of
your life.
ten steps. this
alone makes you
unhappy. you want
one step, two
or three at
the most. ten is
just too many.

the baby dog

her dog
is her baby.
she puts him
in a basket
and takes
it everywhere
she goes.
to the store.
on her bike,
to get coffee.
she speaks
baby talk
to the dog,
waiting for it
to answer back
which it does
with a squeak
or squeal,
or a wag of it's
wiry tail.
there is a blue
ribbon around
it's neck,
a jacket for
when it gets cold.
her dog is her
baby, and you
have no
chance here.

in the clearing

the clearing
is beyond the trees,
the scrub brush,
over the meadow.
you can see
the blue velvet
sky settling
with stars.
night slips
softly over
your pale
shoulders
where you wait.
this is
where love is.
in the clearing.

i swear


with arms swinging
wildly and eyes
bugging out
when someone begins
to tell their story by
saying, I swear to god,
this is true,
or I swear on my
children's lives, or
on my grandmother's
grave then you know
you are in for a tall
tale which may or may
not be true. most
likely it involves a deer
with big antlers
crossing the road
in front of their
car, or a raccoon
coming into their yard
to eat an apple, or
two. that's about it.

they can wait

it's easy to put things
off. the dentist, taxes,
taking the dog to the vet.
an oil change, the filter
on the furnace.
visiting the old and sick
at home or infirmary.
but coffee, well, there's
always time to stop
and wait in line for
a cup of coffee. it's so
easy to pull over
and do so. those
other things can wait.
they always do.

pistachio heaven

the boy, haven fallen
from a playground swing,
finally awakened
after being in a deep
coma for three days.
his family gathered
around him in happy
tears. his sister, who
had pushed him too
fast and too hard held
his hand, stroking
it gently. timmy is
awake, she shouted.
timmy is awake. timmy
opened his eyes and said,
why are you screaming?
I'm right here.
how do you feel, the
parents asked pulling
the freckled face
sister aside. I'm fine,
the boy said, but I
think I went to heaven.
it was all white and
shiny. clean and bright
and there was this nice
music, like an ice cream
shop. oh really, the mother
said, the little girl
edged her way back
to the side of the bed.
yes. and there was this
man with a beard
and long hair,
but it was pulled back
into a net and he was
serving ice cream
with a larger silver scooper.
that must have been
jesus the little girl
yelled out. jesus
was giving timmy
ice cream. go on, go
on the father said.
he kept giving me
scoops and scoops of
pistachio ice cream,
my favorite of all time
on a large cone. I hate
pistachio the girl
cried out. that's all
they had? no cherry, no
chocolate? what a gyp
heaven is. that stinks.
I don't want to go
heaven. which made
timmy sit up and say,
from what i heard i
don't think you have to
worry about that.


the frozen pond

unsure
of how thick
the ice
is, you step
gingerly onto
the blue frozen
pond,
glazed like
a birthday
cake without
candles.
you wonder
if you can make
it
to the other
side. you've
done it
before. in fact
your days
are full
of frozen ponds.

pondering frost

you run low
on patience with people.
you don't want to make
a broad statement
such as
I hate all people,
like that mean
old man
Robert frost might
do while conjuring
poems
in the woods,
but you come close
at times. you understand
the deep
and snowy woods,
the good fence
making good neighbors.
you get it now.

how can i help you today

you call your cable
phone
internet
cell
company to see
if you can
have your bill
lowered
from the three
hundred and twenty
seven dollar
ceiling it
has hit. how can I
help you the robotic
automated voice
says.
you press one
for operator then enter
your ten digit
account number
to speak to a
representative
who barely speaks
your own language.
you say what,
can you repeat
that over and over.
she plows ahead
with a myriad of
deals and options,
additions
and subtractions,
your head spins
with numbers
and channels.
you scribble madly
onto the back of your
current bill.
then the line goes
dead. you stare
out the window for
a few minutes watching
a woodpecker bang
his beak against
an oak tree.
then you call
back. how can I
help you the automated
voice asks.
you begin again.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

every body must get stoned

you see the future
and it is bright.
you invest all your
money into pizza
and sub shops across
from the new legalized
pot stores.
there will be
fluorescent arrows
showing the way in.
you will have
bright neon
lights blinking
in the store windows.
food, fast food, hot
and spicy, greasy.
you will have a
room full of water
beds with which
to lie down on as
you eat, with big
fluffy pillows.
there will be music.
Hendrix and Joplin,
the moody blues,
and pink Floyd.
the grateful dead.
every one will get
a cookie.
you see the future
and it is bright.

washer and dryer

you love your new
washer and dryer.
they are Italian.
cabrios. both glossy
white with smart
black trim.
you like the wide
open windows and the soft
slushing noise
the washer makes
when running it in on
the digital soft
cycle. you pull up
a chair and watch
and listen. when it's
all done it tells
you with a sweet
little ding. you give
it a nice pat then
transfer the spun
wet clothes to its
friend and companion
the dyer. it too has
a nice porthole window.
you watch patiently
the clothes go round
and round, happy
and being warmed
to a nice crisp dry.
yes. it has been a
long cold winter,
and you need a life.

texas girl

she said she was
from texas.
dallas to be exact.
not that it was too
difficult to discern
with her loaf
of blonde hair
piled high
on her head, or
the barbequed twang
in her voice.
what do you all
do for fun around
here she said,
poking you in
the ribs with a
sturdy finger.
you all have any
rodeos?
I haven't been to
no rodeo in a coon's
age. I love
to lasso, do you?
sure you tell her.
lassoing is at the top
of fun things
to do in life.
why just yesterday
I roped a steer
on the beltway
and took it home
and ate it.
are you joshing me?
I think you are.

the bloom

the bloom
is off the rose.
you aren't quite
sure what
that means exactly
but you've read
it, or heard it
somewhere before.
it's a well worn
cliché that's stuck
to your mental
ribs. you
plan to use
it all day long
when someone asks
you about Sylvia,
or betty, or
linda or Esmeralda.
you'll shrug and
casually say
in a low whisper.
the bloom is off
the rose, then
walk away.

Friday, February 7, 2014

the dog bath

after months
of mud,
and digging.
rolling onto
the carcasses
of dead animals
you would fill
the tub halfway
with warm
water. find
the squared bar
of dog soap,
place an old
set of towels
nearby, then search
for dog who was
under the bed
hiding, he could
read your mind.

no ez pass

silent fingers.
the quiet
tap. going nowhere.
the false start.
the torn
paper balled and
thrown to the corner
basket.
nothing piques
your interest.
love won, love lost.
you are a toll
booth operator,
taking coins
and cash. no ez
pass today.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

sweeping up

you see her sweep
up the glass, crimson
shards
and slivers,
once shaped
like a heart.
the broom scratching
at the dry floor,
the ping into
the dust pan.
with the ease
of her arms
and hands
you can tell
that she's done
this sort of thing
before.

with strangers


the wringing of hands
is constant.
her feet are swollen
no one
visits anymore,
they beat
their chests in sorrow.
they've grown weary
of the sadness
that old age brings.
her feet are swollen.
she cries alone.
they bring her puzzles
and books,
things to write on,
but those days are gone.
she just wants
to die anywhere but
here, with strangers
away from home.

this song

this song
is yours,
the one seeping
out from
the transistor
radio
held in my curled
hand
with bent antennae
and smudged
numbers.
it doesn't matter.
the song is
the same.
it's your song.
it makes
me always,
think of you,
what was and
what never came.

better days

better days
are coming.
this is all
temporary.
the cold.
the ice and wind
crawling
up your back.
the silence.
better days
are coming.
although
sometimes
it's hard
to believe.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

searching for a meet up

bored with yourself
and the few friends
you have
you search the web
for a meet up that you
might want to attend.
but you are not a meet
up kind of guy.
what if you don't like
these people
and you're stuck at a
table sipping on cold
coffee talking
about the weather,
or the latest john
grisham novel,
or they don't like you,
which seems nearly
impossible. you're
not a hiker, or
a camper and you don't
knit or crochet.
you like to drink and
eat and have a conversation,
and write. but most
of the meet ups seem
to be full of women
who can't find a date
and goof ball men
with comb overs.
you're not sure if you
want to be lumped
into that category,
just yet. maybe there's
a meet up for people
that are a little grumpy,
or just not into it.
no names, no lame
introductions,
you just show up.
and sit around a table
not saying much. just
things like, hey, are
you going to eat
that last donut, or
does anyone here
have an aspirin?
maybe you can bring a
pillow and take a nap
too while someone talks
about their cats.

zombie bugs

the stink bugs
are back.
you just flicked
one across
the room off
a lampshade
on your desk.
you don't want
to squish and kill
them. supposedly
they smell.
your house has
enough bad smells
as it is
without adding
to it.
they are so slow
and dumb, these
bugs, shaped
like medallions,
grey and zombie
like.
they don't seem
to mind how
you knock them
around, they
recover quickly
and start crawling
back. they are
resilient, you
have to give
them that.

fresh news

you read
the newspaper in
seven
minutes now,
unless you
stop to do the
crossword
puzzle, which
could take
all day.
but you know
the news.
it's not good.
yes.
there is the
occasional
kitten rescued
from a tree,
but it's for
the most part
old news.
bad news.
news you've already
seen
on your computer,
or tv.
you miss the days
when a kid
would stand
on the corner
with a thick
freshly printed paper
shouting
the news. yes.
you're that old.

getting ready

you begin your
valentine's day
shopping
early.
perusing
the Victoria secret
ads, going down
to the local
adult store
for interesting
marital aids,
but nothing crazy
like whips
and chains.
you've mellowed
over the years.
you stop for
chocolates
and flowers,
wine, and a can
of mixed nuts,
those are for
you. it's exhausting,
vacuuming
and changing
the sheets,
spraying air
freshener about,
dimming the lights.
setting out
candles. now for
the hard part,
finding a date.

the years go by

like penguins
they come up
out of the subway
umbrellas
stretched out
repelling rain.
hunched
towards their
destinations
in small quick
steps.
heads down
in the wind.
how the years
go by.

a human head

hungry
you seek food.
a slice
of bread,
even an apple
right now
would do.
thirsty,
water, a drink,
a cold beer,
perhaps three,
or your new
limit. two.
unloved
you scan
the want ads,
in search
of someone
with similar
interests,
a job
a human head,
that would be
nice too.

the music teacher

they wobble
in with thick red
cheeks.
layered in
winter clothes,
holding music
sheets,
and flutes,
dark cases
holding trombones.
parents wave
from
cars, blowing
kisses
as the children
look back
and knock
at the door.
the music teacher
waves
back and takes
them in.
most are hopeless,
never learning
the simplest
of notes.
not caring. they
don't listen
or learn,
they endure,
as does the teacher.
who puts
the cash into a
small bowl
in the kitchen.
surrendering
her life.
it's not about music
anymore.

the rescuer

this is my rescue
dog
she says,
holding him
in place
with a shiny new
leash. he only
had two more
days to live
when I plucked
him out of
the abyss.
don't try to pet
him. he bites.
I have a rescue
cat too.
but she's in
intensive
care with a kidney
problem.
I'm going to
rescue another
one if she dies
and they can't
find a kidney
donor.
my boyfriend is
still asleep. I'm
helping him find
a job.
I updated his resume
and bought
him some new shoes.
showed him
how to be more
confident.
he never sits
up straight
or looks you in
the eye. he had
bad parents, but
I'm helping him
too.

glad to be home

glad to be home.
everything left as
it was.
the glass
in the sink.
the book on
the counter,
the curtain
drawn
just so.
that pillow left
as when you
got up, still
holding your
impression. your
shoes left
in the kitchen
near
the stove.
the welcoming
silence,
just the quiet
hum
of the furnace
saying
its warm
hello.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

the magic eight ball

running low on invisible
ink, you browse
through the magic
store with your shopping
cart. you pick up
a new pair of x-ray
vision glasses,
having worn out
the other pair
when you moved into
the high rise building
downtown.
you get a box of
licorice gum,
some red hot pepper
candies
and a hand buzzer,
but then you see
a magic eight ball,
black with a big
number eight on
the glass. you
shake it and ask
if you are going to be
rich and famous
one day. doubtful,
it says in a
floating circle
of letters. pffft.
you say.
will I fall in love
again, you ask,
this time shaking it
vigorously before looking
at the answer.
try again, it reads.
you give it another
shake. is there really
a God, you whisper,
not wanting to
offend God, not
enough information,
it reads back.
then you hear the
store manager yell
from the front of
store. hey, hey.
put that thing down.
either buy it or get
out of here.

be happy

please, don't
shed a tear
because there
are no dinosaurs.
be happy
there isn't a t-rex
clogging up
the interstate.
no brontosaurus
ramming your house
looking for a
snack or pterodactyl
flying off
with your baby.
there's a reason
that animals go
extinct. so quit
trying to save
every bug, every
bird and turtle
snake and mouse.
yes they are all
so cute, but
just let them go.
they had their shot,
now it's over.

when the fun is over

you want to find
an intellectual woman
to be lovers
with. someone
with whom you can share
lively pillow talk
after a romantic
session, but if she's
really smart
and knows literature
and music,
art and film, she'll
have nothing
to do with the likes
of you. so you settle
on medium smart
or lower, but then
they ask you questions
about why there are
lines on a football
field, or which is
larger the earth
or the sun. is the moon
really made of cheese?
this puts
a tremendous burden
on your conversations
and you begin to
question your motives,
which causes guilt
and remorse. sure it's
fun, but you stare
out the window quietly
a lot when the fun
is over.

wilted petals

there used to a family
run florist
up the street
from where you lived.
it was a low lying
brick building
with curved glass
which always seemed
foggy inside.
you probably dropped
a couple of thousand
dollars in there
on flowers sent to
a variety of girls
you dated over
your youthful years.
roses, mums, sunflowers.
whatever was bunched up
into a vase and on sale.
sometimes you went cheap.
other times, if you
were in deep angst
and heartbreak you
went for the dozen
red roses in a crystal
vase. delivered
with a fancy white
card. you used to think
that flowers could save
the thing. keep her
around. put forgiveness
in her heart, give
you another shot.
of course it never worked
you finally stopped
sending them when
the old woman
answering the phone
began to laugh
upon hearing your
voice. what's her name
this time, she'd say,
snickering over stems
of cut flowers and
wilted petals lying
at her feet, and perhaps
her own broken heart.

Monday, February 3, 2014

finding a snake

when you
turn the rock
over with
your foot
you go eye to
eye with a cross
stitched snake
still coiled
and cold
in the wet dirt.
both of you
are surprised
and scared
to see one another,
and both of you
are happy
that you've
dropped it back
in place
and run away.


book ends

like bookends
getting
closer
as the books
get lost
and disappear
the death
of friends
makes you
see your
own beginning
and end, your
shelf life
more clear.

a new job

you need a new job.
something
else to do with
your time. you've
grown weary
of being a circus
clown.
you tire of the gags.
the baggy
costume with floppy
feet.
that big red
nose and orange
hair. it's not
how a grown man
should live his
life. there has to
be more meaning to
life that trying
to make people
laugh and yet
consistently failing.
no one likes
a circus clown
anymore. the times
have changed.
getting hit with
a pie is no longer
amusing, nor
is the flower
that squirts.
ten clowns in a car.
who cares.
you need a new job.
perhaps a human
cannonball, that
might be fun.


don't i know you

you look familiar
the woman says to you
while taking back
a shirt that you bought.
too small
too blue, and not
your style at all.
what possessed
you to buy it in
the first place
is unknown. don't
I know you the woman
says, fixing the tags,
staring at the receipt.
nope, you say.
I don't think so.
do you know my cousin.
phil? he runs the
gas station around
the corner. nope.
you say. waiting for
her to give you back
the stack of paper
work on the returned
shirt. nope.
don't know any phils.
sorry.
you've never met
phil. you don't know
him, she asks.
now staring at you
with suspicious eyes.
finally you give up.
oh yeah. phil,
he pumps my gas and
changes my oil.
we go way way back.
thought so, she says,
then hands you back
the receipts. have
a very nice day.
i'll tell phil you said
hello.

blinders on

you are angry
less
than you used to
be. despite
the fact that
the things
that anger you
are still
there.
the people
who rile you up
still exist
and persist
on being who
they are. but you've
let it go.
let them go.
life is easier
this way
with blinders on.

something new

instead of this
or that
your regular
picks,
you choose
something else
entirely.
but you are
uncomfortable
with change.
uneasy
with a different
choice made.
whether food
or drink
or which side
of the bed to sleep
on.
it's hard to not
be you, despite
how often people
want you to try
something
new.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

grumpy ground hog

you see a fat
groundhog crawl out
from his burrow
early in the morning.
he's wearing
sunglasses and a
ball cap.
he has a small,
very small
can of beer in
his claw like
hand. he's smoking
a cigarette. there are
potato chip
crumbs on his furry
front.
no comment, he say,
as he shoos the media
away. get that camera
out of my face
unless you want
to lose it buddy.
no comment.
get out of here.
every year you
do this to me, where
are you people
when I'm down in
the ground, hungry
and cold.
to hell with all
of you, now get
off my property.
are you people nuts
worrying about my
stupid shadow.
go look at your lame
Doppler radar
for god's sake.

you miss your dog

you miss your dog.
his barking
and chewing
of shoes.
and belts.
purse straps
and furniture.
you miss his accidents
on the rug.
his hair
shedding everywhere.
the way he
hogged the bed
diagonally.
you miss his vet
bills, his
over night stays
for gastronomical
issues due to
eating trash
and dead things
in the woods.
you miss your dog.
the way he begged
and whined at every
meal, the way
he chewed through
your computer wires
before you even
plugged it in.
you miss the sound
of your sunglasses
being crunched
upon, the smells
he emitted after getting
into the trash.
oh how you miss
your dog.
you do.
but not enough
to ever get
another one.

possessions

the man in the parking
lot is tying
a ladder onto
his car.
he stretches the rope
from one end
to the other.
straps go from side
window
to side window.
he is out of breath
tying his
ladder tightly.
he sees you and says
with a grimace.
I have five hundred
miles to go.
I don't want to lose
this ladder, I've
had it for most
of my life.
you see that it's
rusted. there are
broken rungs.
the pulls are frayed.
it's an old
ladder, but it
doesn't matter to
him. it's
his ladder and he
doesn't want to
leave it behind, or
lose it. finally he
puts his hand through
his grey beard and
says. I'm ready
to go now, so you
wave goodbye.

far from shore

the world
shrinks when you
are old.
your body gets smaller
and smaller
retreating.
your appetite
for food diminishes,
making love now
is a kiss
on the cheek,
a tug on an arm,
a wink.
your eyes
get cloudy. your
attention
span is short.
each day is
less. each memory
more distant.
we are ships
drifting off
further and further
from shore,
until the bright
colors of
your flag are
no more.

the big game

you wake up early
to begin your
preparations
for your
superbowl sandwich.
you only have
one pound of bacon
so this year you
will have to
scrimp a little
when making your
eight inch
sized burger, cheese
onion, mayo,
pickle, lettuce,
gumbo, shrimp,
sausage, fried egg,
all piled
high on a half
a loaf of French
bread toasted.
you do fifty sit ups
to prepare your
stomach for what's
to come later.
you get the family sized
bag of chips. a gallon
of ice cream.
chocolate sauce
and whipped cream.
you get into your sweat
pants and ketchup
stained football jersey
that your ex wife
gave you fifteen
years ago. it still
fits, which makes
you happy.
it's only noon and
you still have seven
more hours to go
before kickoff, but
you are starving already.
you are not sure
if you can wait that long,
so you start drinking
beer and nibbling
on pork rinds, you open
up a can of nuts,
and get out the celery
stalks. you need
some vegetables to keep
you strong.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

monkey

you like monkeys.
the whole
banana thing.
the tails
allowing them
to swing
from tree to
tree.
that monkey noise
they make.
but you don't
want to live
with a monkey.
no matter how
much fun someone
is, it's very
hard to live
with them.