Wednesday, April 30, 2014

the shell

the mute
button is your
new
best friend.
you point
it at
the world
and it goes
silent.
how sweet it
is
to hear
nothing.
to listen
to no one,
to have only
a shell
pressed upon
your ear
to listen to.

the apartment building

your neighbor
in the apartment
building
is cooking
goat
and cabbage
for dinner. yesterday
you heard the goat
baying. today
you don't. they
season it all
with fish oil
and the squeezings
of an old boot.
your eyes burn
from
the stench clouding
the hallway.
sometimes
they play
bongos
late at night
in celebration
of the quarter
moon,
or rain, or
wind. something
that gets them
excited, like
sunlight.
despite all of
that, they are
good neighbors.
they bow when
they see you
in the laundry room,
in their colorful
princely robes
and jewels.
they call you mister
and invite you
over for the super
bowl. sometimes
you'll offer them
a stick of gum,
which they'll take
gratefully, both
of you chewing
and smiling
as the elevator
descends
to the lobby.

beware

beware of those
who are always happy.
the winners.
their false bliss
makes the world
a dangerous place
to live in.
beware of those
who welcome you with
open arms,
who flatter you
with praise
and admiration.
there is always a
knife hidden in
their shoe.
beware of the educated.
those with
degrees posted
on their walls
to remind them of
how smart they are.
they rarely give in
to changing
their minds, even
when wrong. beware
of the sleeping dog,
the scorned woman.
the unpaid worker.
they will rise up
and show you
what pain is.
beware of politicians,
and salesman. neither
will give you what
they promise.
beware of the complainers
and depressed,
they will take you down
with them. tying
the stone
of themselves
to your soul. beware
of children,
they see you for what
you really are.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

sugar

to prove
wealth and stature
peasants
would paint
their teeth black
during Shakespeare's
day
to show that
they possessed
enough wealth
and position in
life
to eat sugar
on a regular basis.
human nature
has not varied a
single bit
you think, as you
sit behind a
behemoth SUV,
stuck
in traffic.

don't talk to me

some days, like
today, you
just don't want
to talk
to anyone.
you let the phone
ring,
the e mails
go unanswered.
you leave text messages
hanging on
the vine.
you don't want to
discuss
the weather, or
sports, or politics.
you don't have a clever
or nice
thing to say
to anyone.
you avoid eye
contact, moving quickly
through the avenues
of your day.
you have become
sick of people,
not just the ones
you know, but the
ones you don't know
too. you have a problem
with all of them,
except for your dog,
who sits in
the window waiting
loyally the whole
day.
you give him a few
barks, a whistle,
some baby talk
and love.
he's okay.

brown eggs


after keying
in your special
bonus card
membership digits,
which happens
to be your phone
number,
the clerk tells
you that
today you saved
sixy-four
dollars
and seventy-nine cents
and have
earned three hundred
and forty one
gas points. he circles
this number
on the receipt
with a yellow
magic marker.
he asks you
with a weariness
not unlike a long
distance runner,
with shoulders
slumped, and miles to
go before the finish
line, if
there is anything
else he can do
for you.
did you find
everything you were
looking for?
it's a painful
experience these
days, trying
to buy a loaf of
bread, a gallon
of milk, a
dozen large
brown eggs.

true love

you didn't mind,
as a kid, banging
erasers
against the back
wall of the school.
inhaling the toxic
white dust into
your fresh pink lungs.
it wasn't punishment
at all. in fact, you
frequently offered your
services to miss Copeland
the sixth
grade teacher.
you would have done
anything for
her. you would have
laid down your
twelve year old
life for her, taking
a bullet in her
path, pushing
her safely off
the tracks
as a train sped by.
she was probably
the most beautiful
woman on the planet
at the time.
you thought of her
as an angel
dropped out of
the sky and into
your classroom. she
smelled like
a flower and had skin
so pale, you wondered
of it had ever been
touched by sunlight.
her eyes were green
like the glass of
a 7 up bottle.
sometimes you would
use an entire sheet
of construction paper
writing her
name attached to
yours, as it would be
one day when you got
married. on Fridays,
as a treat, she'd read
to the class, from
one of her favorite
authors, madeline l'engle,
dimming the lights,
and waiting for us
to settle down.
you'd place your head
on your folded arms
and sighed, listening
to her sweet voice,
wondering, wondering
if she'd wait for you
to grow up.

Monday, April 28, 2014

it's Car On, not karen

my name
is Karen she says,
as you well know,
but for now on
I want it to be
pronounced
Car On.
it's the Danish
pronunciation, she says.
I'm part Danish by
the way. which makes
you immediately
think of all the Danish
she loves to eat with
her coffee.
I'm going with that
now. so try to remember.
Car On. let's do
a test run, say it out
loud.
you say it silently
to your self several
times. you know that
this will not go well.
already, she's set the bar
too high for your
once budding relationship.
the lactose thing,
the gluten issue,
no meat, all the chick
flicks you are forced
to see, and her white
poodle, fluffy
with the runny
eyes.
so you tell her.
Car On, I don't think
this is working out
anymore. how was that?
did I nail it?

ti's windy

at some point
you stop listening.
you day dream
in the middle of a
conversation
about weather
and traffic, etc. etc.
off you go like
an untethered
balloon, sailing
away from the voice
that has trapped
you in the corner
of the crowded room.

the lost key

you lose a key.
it goes from pocket
to invisible
in a matter of seconds.
you spend much
of the morning
searching for it,
even looking in
places you haven't
been.
one key. slender
and brown. it fits
so easily into
the lock
for the front door.
how the gods
show their humor,
you can almost here
them muffling their
laughter, and saying,
with conspiratorial
grins, watch this.

who she is

ashen. she unravels
under heat, she
shows
her true
colors. removes
her clothes, her
armor
of schools
and work, of make
up and perfume.
stripped down
to bone, she is
who she is,
an entity,
up until now,
unknown.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

an orange book

it's fine book,
this book on oranges.
a good read,
culled from
the new Yorker
magazine.
how they came from
asia, across
the great sea.
how Columbus
brought them to
the new world.
every fact
and nuance
of what makes an
orange and orange
is in there.
page after page.
the trees,
the fields, the story
of orange concentrate.
how the seeds
of a citrus fruit
are perverse, in
choosing what
they'll be.
a grapefruit, a lemon,
or an orange,
nothing is for
certain as the dirt
covers up any type
of seed.
blood red, Valencia.
pulp or
no pulp. it makes
you want a glass
by books end.
cold and on ice.
but with a healthy
splash of
vodka, to help
you sleep.

the lovers

the lovers
don't ignore you
along the park,
beside
the blue river
with the sun high,
the trees
full of what
spring brings.
no, the lovers
don't ignore you,
as they hold
one another and kiss.
they have no clue
that you or anyone
else exists.
they have traveled
to a place far
away, to a land
you once lived,
briefly,
and hope once
more to visit.

human kindness

how kind she
is to the bird
that's fallen,
the swallow
whose wing has
broken
and needs mending.
the lost
cat or dog,
will not stray
long upon her
finding it beside
any road
she's on.
but you and me,
are of a different
sort, her bite
is hard
into our skin,
she has no need
for human kindness,
that will never
be a part of her
to win.

do the twist

when you were in
grade school
your teacher who
was probably all
of twenty five
thought it might
be a good idea
to get some
exercise during
class. to do something
to stir up our sleepy
souls. so she
brought in a record
player and a few
45's. chubby checker
was her man of choice.
she dropped the needle
down on the scratchy
vinyl and said
with her hands raised
high in the air,
alright class, she said,
let's do the twist.
and twist we did,
shaking beside our desks,
like little tornados.

the ice cream cone

you see
the child
with an ice cream
cone.
it's larger
than her
small hand,
the weight
of it,
wobbling
with her wrist,
but keeps
finding her
open mouth,
her eager tongue
and lips.
she is in a
small
heaven. not
a bad
place to be
at any age.

you being here

the dead
are piling up.
the bones,
the hair,
the eyes and ears
of the once
living
are rising,
becoming mountains
before your
eyes.
the hands
you held. the lips
you kissed.
the voices
you heard.
the skin you
touched.
all of them, now
ghosts caught
somewhere between
here
and there.
you being here.
still.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

the small print

the small print
needs
to be larger.
those are the words
i need to know.
the details,
please, of you.
I see the packaging,
I see
the shine, I
hear the music
and smell the flowers,
but what's
inside, that's what
I need to know.
tell me before
we go any further,
if any of this
is true.

taffy

pulled
like taffy
in either direction,
the hot
sun making you
soft to
the bone,
you stretch
and stretch
yourelf
trying to
make everyone
happy, but
no one is.
especially not
you.

cracker crumb blues

even your dreams
are stale
right now.
you yawn as you
sleep, then awaken
and think, is
that it, that's
all you got?
the world is an
uncrisp
cracker.
unsalted. it's
hard to chew
and swallow,
the crumbs fall onto
your shirt
and you don't even
bother to
brush them away.
people point
at them and say,
you have cracker
crumbs on you,
and you say,
yeah, I know.
so what.

at 3 a.m.

you fall in love
with a waitress
at I hop.
she's short and brunette
with pale skin
and blue eyes.
she reminds
you of a baby
seal, out of water.
but you've been
drinking, so
your thoughts
are blurred. you get
the feeling
though that she likes
you.
that she just isn't
topping off your
coffee because it's
her job, no
it really does seem
like she's into
you. she puts her
name with a little
smiley face
on the check.
this makes your heart
beat a little faster,
but you know
you only have
a few minutes to
make your move,
because your girlfriend
is in the bathroom
freshening up,
waiting for you to
pay and leave
the tip,
so before she
clears the plate
you make your phone
number out of little
pieces of egg
and pancake, sausage
links, and toast.
you make an arrow
with some tooth picks
so she'll see. when
your girlfriend
gets back, you get
up, and whisper
to the waitress as
you pass her by.
look at my plate,
look at my plate.
which makes your girlfriend
smack you on
the side of the head
and say. leave her
alone, she's old
enough to be
our daughter.

dashboard lights

your car
is talking to you.
the yellow
light
is on, you're
low on gas,
the amber
light is telling
you that your
tires
need air,
your engine light
now red,
wants
oil. your blinker
as shown
on the dashboard
has failed.
if only everyone
let us
know what they needed
this way,
how smoothly
life would run,
without
the guess work.

Friday, April 25, 2014

sign here

we want
you to join our
club.
sign here,
don't be a dope,
pay
this amount
and forever you
will get
our discounts,
our deals,
our prices
slashed.
sign here.
be a member,
don't be left
out. don't be
a loser.
a low life
bum.
we'll send you
a membership
card in the mail
that you can
yearly
renew.
don't be left
behind.
take this pen,
press
against this form,
and sign.
forever and after
you die,
you will get our
weekly
notifications of
what's on sale,
what's new,
all the things you'll
ever need
and want until
the end of time.

rain some more

this rain,
this wind which
fills
the trees
with a loud
cool voice,
keeps you inside.
laying low.
way low.
glad the week
is done,
let it rain,
then rain some
more.
this too shall
pass.

stay clear

sometimes you can
see the aura, feel
the black
cloud around
a person's
soul.
evil being heavy.
a stone
rolled before
the cave.
each word full
of ashes.
each glare, full
of fire.
they don't
want anything
less than revenge.
two eyes for
an eye. a heart
for a paper cut.
their nails
grow long before
you, their teeth
are wet with blood,
wanting more.
stay clear.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

indelible ink

you drop
your phone into
a puddle.
it shorts out.
you lose everyhing.
every contact
you ever had is
dissolved in a two
inch divot of
rainwater.
for the next three
days you are texting
into your phone.
who is this?
your new phone has
a lifetime
guarantee. the waterproof
cover cost a hundred
dollars alone
and must be
registered online,
like a gun, or a car,
or your political
affiliation.
it's the size
of a small book.
a phone book.
it makes you miss
phone books.
or a little black
book with indelible
ink.

look ,balloons, pull over

balloons seem to be
a way
to get people to buy
things.
tie a balloon to a
dented car
and you can't help
but pull over
and see what all
the fuss is about.
maybe I need a car.
I can't resist
these balloons that
are tethered to
the windshield wipers.
red, blue, white.
I want that car.
I don't care how
old and beaten
it is. the balloons
have convinced me.
can I keep
the balloons too?
the same goes with
selling a house,
tie a balloon
to the sign.
who can resist that?
a house with all
of those balloons
hovering in
the dirt yard
is a sold house.

doing nothing

you think about
doing nothing
for awhile.
nothing.
quitting work,
calling it a life.
you ponder being done
with it all.
you have enough
to cruise on,
so why not.
you've piled up
a nice
heap of dough.
why put up with
the day in and day
out of work
with all its worries
and problems.
when people
ask you, what are you
up to, you'll smile
and say,
absolutely nothing.
sleeping, eating.
resting. reading.
having a drink
with someone. I'm
catching rays
at the beach.
how are you?


the high wire

everyday
you put on
your tights,
grab your
balance bar,
powder your hands,
slip into your
slippers, then
go out the window
to walk the high
wire. it could
go either way.
depending on
the wind,
the weather.
who cheers you
on, or heckles you
from below.
everything is up
for chance,
as you inch along
the outstretched
wire
of your day.


easy rider

this scar here, above
my knee, was
when I hit an oil
slick on the beltway
she says, flexing
her leg, pointing
at the imbedded worm
like scar above
her red knee cap.
I went under a guard
rail and rolled
down an embankment.
this scar over here,
she says, lifting
up her sleeve, is
when a car didn't
see me and hit me
broadside. I went
flying over her car
and landed on
the back window
shattering
the glass. they had
to take out the shards
with tweezers.
oh, and this scar
here, above my eyebrow
is when a bird hit
me in the face.
right under the lip
of my helmet. but I
love to ride. just
love it. hop on back
and let's go for a spin.

you can't undo

you can't undo
what's done.
the milk won't
go back into
the carton,
the words won't
retreat back
into the mouth.
a left turn,
doesn't become
a right turn.
so, own it,
and move on.
do better
the next time,
think it
through and
beyond.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

travel bug

your neighbor
likes to tell you
where she's going.
and when she
gets back likes
to tell you where
she's been.
she puts stickers
on her
luggage.
st. Thomas,
st. Croix,
Bermuda,
California,
Italy.
she's always on
the move.
a taxi pulls up
every weekend
to take her to
the airport.
sometimes she'll
wave to you in your
backyard, as you
lie in the baby pool
you just filled
up, reading
the paper. I just
got back from
spain, she'll say.
how are you?
fine, you'll yell
back. just fine.

chickens


as you take
a bite of barbeque
chicken,
you watch
from the window
the chickens penned
in the yard
scratching
at the dirt.
all day
long. doing nothing,
but laying
an occasional
egg, pecking
at the ground
and scratching
at the dirt.
unlike us, they
don't seem
to care too much
for tomorrow.
what a blessing
that must be.

i don't drink anymore

I don't drink, she tells
you on the phone,
I'm in AA now.
I hope that doesn't
bother you. I mean if
you don't want to go
out with me, i'll
completely understand.
you stare at the picture
that she just sent
of herself
standing on the shore
in a bikini,
with a big trout
in her hand. she's
wearing shorts and her
long legs are tanned.
no problem, you tell her.
I want to meet you.
so you meet at a local
Chinese restaurant.
both of you order
too much food. she tells
you again that she doesn't
drink, but go ahead
and have whatever your
having, I won't mind.
so you order a mai tai,
your usual drink.
sickly sweet and thick
with rum. slices
of fruits dangle under
a little pink umbrella.
it goes down easy, as you
talk and eat. she can't
take her eyes off the drink
though, let me smell
it she says, I don't want
even a sip, I just want
to smell it. sure you
tell her, and hold it
up to her nose. whew.
she says. it makes me
nervous. none for you, you
say teasingly, finishing
it off as you take a bite
of crispy beef and rice.
she drinks her water and
eats. she gets quiet.
too quiet. she's stopped
talking about her life.
everything is on hold as
you order another mai tai.
you don't mind do, you ask,
as the waitress brings
it to the table.
no, not at all she says,
twisting in her seat. fiddling
with her chopsticks.
you eat and drink. she says
nothing. finally, you ask her
if she's okay. no, she says.
I'm not. I think I need to go
to a meeting. I want you to
come with me. but why, you
ask, sucking down more
rum with a straw. I don't have
a drinking problem. but I
do, she says. I'm too tempted.
there is a meeting around
the corner around here.
come with me. you say no.
it's not for you. she says
they have great desserts.
cake and cookies, delicious
pies and pastries.
you shake your head. that's
my downfall. i'll be lying
in the gutter with chocolate
on my face if I go there.
so she gives up on the meeting
and comes back to your house.
compromising. both of you
having what you probably
shouldn't have.

getting out of the rain

caught in the rain.
you find
a storefront
to stand under
and wait it out.
but it doesn't
stop, the hours
go by. the day
turns into night.
a week later,
you are still
there, under
the overhang,
keeping dry.
before long a
year has passed
and you've stood
there, waiting,
waiting for the rain
to stop.
for conditions
to be just right
in your life
to make your move,
and now it's almost
over.

space cadet

you once pretended
to be an astronaut
online and got invited
to a very prestigious
party where the hostess
collected interesting
and diverse people
to fill her room.
you told her how
you walked
on the moon, in space,
how you enjoyed
the stars and scenery
from above the earth
floating in your silvery
spacesuit. come and
regal us with your
tales of space travel,
she said.
we all want to bask
in the glory that
is you. what a wonderful
addition you will
be. she wasn't
happy, when she found
out the truth,
that you painted
houses for a living
and so disinvited you,
which was fine, you
never wanted to be her
pet monkey anyway,
although the party
would have been fun.

in the red

you see a note
on the table.
food, rent, car,
gas, electric,
insurance, phone,
miscellaneous
all with a dollar
number attached
at the end.
it's all added
up and subtracted
from what's
coming in, leaving
very little,
but enough.
you wrote
the note forty
years ago.
nothing changes
too much, but you've
added alimony
and child support
along the way,
lawyers, the blood
you bled.
putting you very
close to breaking
even, or
slipping into red.

three a.m.

it's a smoke
filled room,
this life.
a bar full of
intoxicated strangers.
bumping elbows
and hips
with the unrich
and infamous.
there's music
from a jukebox,
the news
from a black
and white t.v.
hung precariously
in the corner
above the bottles.
there's a fat
man wiping
the wood in a red
vest
pushing bowls
of pretzels
against the ashtrays.
he shakes your hand
with a wet fist,
smiles and gets
you a drink.
you know everyone
here, you know
no one.
it's home, it's a
place to be
that isn't home.
it closes at three.
you can make it
until then.

Monday, April 21, 2014

saved by war


the old man
on the bench
sighs and says
that the world
will be saved
by war,
taking it to
its knees.
erasing
history
and leaving
fresh ground
to plow.
what was will
no longer
be, what's
to come is
unknown,
but the world
will be saved
by war,
by being
undone from
what it has
become.

the puzzle pieces

the puzzle
seems close to
being solved
but there are
pieces missing.
and the ones
left on the table
don't fit
no matter how
hard you try
to squeeze them
in, bending them
to the form
they need to be.
that never works,
it doesn't
feel right.
how simple a
lesson this is
for you.

quiet

a quiet
night,
a small meal.
a quiet
bed.
a book to read.
a good dream.
little
does
such good as
quiet.

smart turtles

you feel
as if turtles
are
heavy thinkers.
spending so much
time
alone in their
shells.
their slow plodding
seems to indicate
deep thought.
to hurry
is to be a fool,
for the most
part.
maybe they have
books
in there, beneath
their patterned
hoods,
a little light
above
their bed
with which to
read emerson
and Thoreau.
peruse the novels
of bellow
and updike.
they look old and
wise, even
when born,
you hope they
are. it would
make you happy.

busy bees

your neighbor
a few
doors up, on
the short stretch
of townhomes,
wants you
to cut down
the bush in front
of your house.
every spring,
she pesters you
on the sidewalk,
going on and on
about bees,
and how big the bush
has grown.
but it's not in
front of her
house, it's in front
of yours, and
you happen to like
bees, you like honey,
you like the whole
notion of
pollination.
what you don't like
is someone
telling you what
to do.
so bush will stay.

retirement party

she sends
you a retirement
photo.
a cake.
a crowd
of people gathered
around
a table, there
are balloons
and cards,
a bottle of
uncorked
champagne.
it looks like
a happy time,
but it's not.
she knows that,
she wants
to be twenty again,
to do it all
over. she'd
change nothing,
except perhaps
to see you more
on
the layovers.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

a knock at the door

the knock
at the door at
this early
can only mean one
thing.
Mormons.
you yell out
the window,
that you already
have what
they're
selling, but
they don't take
no for an
answer, so you
go down in your
bathrobe
and crack
the door open
to shoo them
away with a ten
dollar bill.
it's cold,
and the young
men in coats
and ties,
hair parted
and shiny,
are shivering.
no sir, we don't
want your money,
we want to help
save you.
really, you say,
I'm good, I'm fine.
take the money,
go get yourselves
some coffee and
a couple of donuts
on me.
in fact bring me
back a half
dozen, mixed,
but they don't
take it,
instead they hand
you a few pamphlets
and wish you
a good day, then
off they go on
their bikes.

pointless celery

sometimes
you look
at a person
and think of food.
chicken legs
for instance,
hot off the grill,
spicy
and barbequed,
or a fat ham
ready to be sliced,
with pineapple
rings
draped across
it's pink belly,
or perhaps,
a bean stalk,
or a stalk of
pointless celery.
giblets and gravy
often come
to mind,
when seeing someone
walk away,
two scoops
of vanilla
ice cream too.
usually
when you're hungry,
this happens.


holy water

on easter, the local
church. st. Bernadette's,
is full.
packed to the brim
with repentant souls,
guilt ridden members,
who haven't been
since Christmas.
they are neat
and clean decked out in
spring splendor.
the polished shoes,
the hats, and gloves.
the pretty dresses,
like flowers caught
in the breeze.
the traffic is horrendous.
two cops
in squad cars with
their party lights
on, direct the cars
in and out with
the pinkish bloom
of flares.
they run out of holy
water by the third mass
and so the priest,
fast thinking brings around
the lawn hose, blesses
it and puts it on
spray, giving the crowd
a happy loving dose.

strange treasures

you save
things, a stretch
of string,
a chipped
cup, a marble
with a cat's eye,
more blue, than green,
an old
class ring
that isn't yours,
a silver
baby spoon,
a pair
of brown shoes
with the soles
worn smooth.
they find themselves
into boxes,
strange gold
nuggets
that you haven't
quite figured
out why
they are worth
keeping, but
you do.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

cleopatra lite

she arches her back
like a cat
and lets out
a yawn, followed
by, I'm hungry.
feed me, slave boy.
which makes you
throw a black grape
across the room
towards her open
mouth. it misses,
hitting her eye.
which makes
her scream, ouch.
splattering juice
down her cheek.
it's going to
be a long night
with Cleopatra
lite.

plums

you want
to pick the plums
now.
the fattest
and sweetest
of fruit on the vine,
or tree.
you are tired
of finding
what's fallen
to the ground,
what's been
stepped upon
or frozen.
wormed to the core.
you have the patience
now to wait,
to pick the plums,
to sink your
teeth into only
what's best
for you.

always late

he's always late.
ten
minutes, or twenty,
an hour,
maybe longer.
it's how he lives,
being late, it's
how he gets everyone
to say hey, where
is he.
and when he arrives,
it's all
about him.
where've you
been, we missed you.
what took you
so long,
what happened,
and with a big
sheepish smile,
he soaks
it all in.

down they go

the world
is full of wind
toppling
trees,
trees that have
been there
for what seems
like forever.
but down
they go.
down they go.
these friends
too.
down they go.

the black credit card

you find a black
credit card lying on
the floor
of the coffee shop,
so you tap
the shoulder of the woman
in front of you
to ask her if it's
hers, no she says,
but grabs the card
anyway and proceeds
to run around the store
yelling out the name
on the card. is there
a carol jones here,
a carol t. jones.
did you drop this credit
card. hello, anyone
here lose a black
credit card? she waves
the card around
the store, shouting,
looking back at you,
as if you are both a
team now, hunting
down this person.
you can't make your
body shrink any smaller,
as you inch towards
the line to get your
coffee. next time
you won't say word.
you'll just use the card
and take a trip,
flying first class
to a tropical island

let's eat out tonight

it's not
good when you have
someone over
for dinner
and they
immediately say
what's that smell?
did you burn
dinner last night.
what died.
smells like mold,
or rotting
cabbage?
have you ever
had your vents
cleaned, how old
is that rug.
when was the last
time you
you cleaned your
bathroom
or took the trash
out.
open a window
for god's sake.
don't you smell it?

once upon a time

you know you are
getting old when you
begin
talking by saying,
let me tell you a
little story about me.
here, gather around,
you little ones,
hop up on my knee.
then you settle back,
stroking your
pretend beard
and begin to regal
your captured company
with some wildly
untrue and embellished
tale of when you
were young and free.

beep

for weeks
there has been
a beeping sound in
your house.
you can't find it.
smoke
alarm, check.
stove timer,
check.
microwave oven check.
three alarm
clocks
check. check
check. your
two computers,
check.
the carbon
and monoxide
alarm, check.
the charger
for your dirt devil,
power drill,
weed whacker,
kindle, notepad,
I phone
and land line
check.
what the hell.
there it goes
again. beep.

the ones

the ones
who go to church
on a regular
basis are the first
ones
to ask you
if you've been
to mass,
waving their batons
of crisp
new programs
from the pew.
the ones eating fruits
and vegetables
keep an eye on
what you're eating,
shaking
their collective
heads
at red meat
and cake, as
they bite into
a shiny red apple.
cans and plastic,
bottles, when
they separate
theirs for the big
blue bin,
they ask where
your bin is,
where is your
recyclable trash,
your empty liquor
bottles,
my friend.
don't you care about
your planet,
are you a heathen
full
of cholesterol
and gin?

Friday, April 18, 2014

the cleaning ladies

you see
the cleaning women
when
the owners
of the house leave,
relax.
they flop
onto the couch
with a sandwich.
and start talking
on their cell
phones
in Spanish.
laughing
and laughing.
they turn
the t.v. on
and put their feet
up on the coffee
table.
the cleaning will
only take
an hour, but
they've been paid
for six, so they
have to stretch
it out.

i got your small stuff right here

you go to a seminar
to help you
get in touch with
your inner self.
teaching you
how to relax
and leave the small
irritations
of life behind.
but the people
there only add to
your misery.
they are
pretending so hard
to be happy, looking
deeply into
your eyes and giving
you that extra
hippy like warm
handshake that
you want to
smack them with
your expensive
work book that
they gave you when
you signed up,
and crack the plastic
umbrella
that says don't
sweat the small
stuff along
the top against
their knees. you
want your money
back.

easter egg hunt

there was always
a mean
kid
that found
the most easter
eggs
on a cold
sunday morning.
you remember
his face
being red
and flulshed in
the breeze. his little
teeth like
tiny tombstones
chattering
as he breathed
hard,
running around
from tree
to rock under
a cruel blue
of an april sky.
his fat fingers
reaching into
your basket
to take your
eggs
if no one was
watching.
even now,
there is a mean
kid, who has
grownup into
a mean person,
trying to
take more than
he should have,
reaching
into other's
baskets.

like me

you are late
for everything these
days.
not on purpose,
but because you've
been spending
so much time on
your facebook
page liking things.
you like those
cute cat pictures
and videos.
that monkey in
a banana tree.
that cake someone
baked.
the cast on their
arm. you can never
get enough of those
sunsets. you like
like like those a lot.
that snow that fell
and gathered into
a measly one
inch along the sidewalk.
it seems that everyone
wants to be
liked now. from
gum to cars,
to shoe shine polish.
even this can of
tuna fish that
you're eating, standing
over the kitchen
sink, calling
it dinner, wants
to be liked.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

april hail

everyone was
all excited about
the blood red moon.
how wonderful
and rare it was.
orange and red
like a mixed drink
needing a spoon.
but you are more
excited about
the lemon meringue
sun. how warm
it's going to
be when the wind
stops blowing,
and the hail
stops pelting
your head.

yo, what's up?

your friend
who is as white
as wonder bread,
turned sixty
the other day.
he says things like
yo, I'm chillaxing
on the couch.
sipping on a cold
brew.
I got my new lime
green track
shoes on, and my
cap on sideways,
what's up my
brother?
nothing you say,
just checking
to see if you
wanted to go
see that new
woody allen movie,
there's a senior
discount
at the afternoon
matinee, and
a sunset special
on Salisbury steak
and mashed potatoes
around the corner
afterwards.
I'm all in homes.
gots to go pee
first, i'll stop
and pick up some
junior mints on
the way, do they
validate parking?
don't be late, yo.

the office party

when the boss
comes around,
there is
a nervous buzz.
he's here,
or she's here.
look,
over there,
he's coming
this way.
the bees
settle down,
lower their
voices, stand
straighter
and think good
thoughts
causing smiles
to creep
upon their lips,
they sip
their drinks,
and wipe
the crumbs
from their
shirts.
here he comes.
don't say anything
stupid,
for once
in your life.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

my seer sucker suit

you're thinking about
taking some clothes
to the dry cleaners.
you haven't done that
in nearly twenty years.
you want to get
back into the game,
get a little more
spiffy than the khaki
shorts and t-shirts
you've been wearing
day in and day out.
maybe you'll ask for
extra starch, or hold
the msg. have some cuffs
hemmed since you've
probably gotten a
bit shorter since then.
you miss the smell
of the dry cleaners,
that sickly sweet
cleaning product
that hovers in the air
like formaldehyde.
you want to wave to
the people in back,
sweating profusely,
ignoring the child
labor laws as they
steam and press
the giant heaps
of clothes.
you want to hear
the grrrr
of the automatic
hanger as it spins
around at the push of
a button, bringing
you your nice clean
seer sucker baby
blue suit wrapped
in a clingy plastic sheet.
it's time. you are
long overdue
to get back in the game.

grist for the mill

never sit
in the front row
of a comedy club.
it seems
like a good idea
at the time, being
close, in order
to hear and see
the action, but
soon, that shirt
you're wearing,
the woman you are
with, your shoes,
and hair,
the essence of
who you are,
your dna will
all be grist for
the mill. it won't
be funny.

don't call registry

you register into
the do not call
registry
but the calls
keep coming.
mostly from Sylvia,
who you knew
in the eighties.
she's never gotten
over things
despite your
numerous attempts
at almost
sincere apologies.
sometimes she pretends
to be selling
things, like
mortgages, or
land, or products
for men to assist
them in their amorous
pursuits. she
finds that to be
funny. Sylvia.
calling from a pay
phone.

the mirage motel

if I wasn't married,
she says, sighing,
twisting the stuck
ring on her finger,
we'd have a life
together.
we wouldn't have
to sneak around like
this, meeting
in out of the way
motels, using foreign
names to check into
our room.
parking our cars
around back. beneath
the willow trees,
that blow and bloom.
if it wasn't for
my husband, my kids,
and parents,
and money, we'd
be together now,
we'd have a life
of our own. we'd be
happy, happy in our
own home sweet home.

in the shuffle

there is no
getting lost
in the shuffle
at this point.
it is all a
shuffle now.
the patient holding
a metal staff
of life,
a plastic
bag, waving
like the flag
of surrender
at his shoulder,
the slip and slide
of slippered
feet
going towards
the ding
of an elevator
going down, no
one going up.
it's all down
from here, here
in the shuffle.

prom night

you see on a warm
spring night,
the young boys
and girls
out, dressed
formally in gowns
and ill fitting
suits that will
never be worn again.
the girls are
women. the boys
still boys.
needing each other.
still afraid
of the unknown
world that women
already seem
to understand.
they are so far
behind, and you know,
will never catch up.

enough said

sometimes
one piece of clothing
defines
the person,
opens up
the window and
shines a light
on who
they really
are. take those
leather,
leopard print
skin tight
pants she's
wearing.
enough said.

i'm alone now

she wants
the bird bath painted
white.
the back fence
too.
that post,
that bench
where he used to
sit and throw
seeds
down for the birds.
can you do
anything
about the bees,
she says.
so many bees
in the wood,
making home for
more bees.
and the lawn
furniture,
why is green now?
is there anything
that can
be done about
that?
will you stay
and have lunch?
there is so much
to be done,
and I'm alone now.

you've changed

tell me I have
silky smooth skin,
like milk, she says,
lying in the sun
like a long
lithe cat, purring.
you have skin
like milk, you
tell her. but
that's not enough.
she wants more.
why don't you ever
tell me things
like that on
your own? I just said
you have skin like
milk, what else
do you want?
tell me about my
eyes. how beautiful
my hair is.
you have two
of them, you tell
her. nice, nice
eyes. your hair
is wonderful.
you used to
be so romantic,
she says, letting
out an exasperated
sigh. we just met
last night honey,
you tell her,
looking for
your shoes.
things were
different then.

what are the odds

your horse
doesn't come in.
he doesn't even
finish, he comes
up lame
around the first
turn.
there isn't a
single number on
your ticket
that's picked
in the lottery.
not one. your
numbers aren't even
close. you can't
even come up
with two pairs
in a game
of poker,
and your high
card is a seven
of clubs, so
you wonder, when
you meet her
and she says,
I do, what the odds
are of this
working out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

on the ledge

your friend
liked to laugh loudly
and long
at anything
you said, or happened
in the course
of a normal day.
it was a boisterous
and bellowing
laugh.
his eyes watered
as he found the humor
in everything.
it was embarrassing
to be with him
in public. you
loved him,
and will miss him,
wishing he hadn't
leaped from
the ledge of
the tallest building
he could find.

down to one

one glove,
one boot, one
sock.
one button
missing,
one pillowcase
one
fork, one
spoon, one knife.
one cup,
one toothbrush
in the holder.
you are
down to
the bare
minimum
of things needed
to survive.
what happened
to the others,
making a pair
is beyond you,
but you have
a clue
who's to blame.

a spoonful

you like
food
to surprise you
when it hits
your taste buds.
you want to shake
your head and
go, oh my,
that's good,
give me some more.
a kiss is
the same way.
one spoonful
of kissing leading
to another,
and another
until you can't
take it
anymore, but
you indulge
yourself anyway.

frozen food

the meat,
wrapped in freezer
paper,
marked meat,
with a pen,
pulled
out in a starvation
mode,
is burned
with a hoary
frost after
months,
maybe years
of being
stuck tight
and heavy in
the ice box with
no light,
or love.
you can't win
everyone,
save everything,
although sometimes
you are optimistic
and believe
that you
can.

both ends

to burn a candle
at both
ends, you have
to turn
it on its side
and pull
the wick
out of the bottom
then carefully
light both
with a struck
match.
a nearly
impossible task,
and yet
you keep trying.

fresh art

there is only
so much
room
in this house
for another
chair,
or table, or
picture
to hang on
the walls
that are
no longer bare
and asking
for art.
there is only
so much room
in our lives,
for another
love to move
in within
our healing
hearts, but
it doesn't stop
you from
getting
the hammer out,
the nail,
and centering
someone new
against the wall,
always willing
to bend towards
another
fresh start.

Monday, April 14, 2014

a better person

you're a better
person
rested.
with a full
stomach
and the bills
paid, a few
dollars
extra
in your pocket.
you're a better
person,
when you
aren't sick,
or out of work,
or when
the roof
doesn't leak.
you're a better
person
with a new
pair of shoes
to walk in,
when the sun is out,
when you're
around to
hold me when
I fall asleep.

i'm not doing that anymore

you've reached
a point in your life
where you have
stopped doing things
that you don't want to do.
like meeting her parents,
her children,
her relatives across town.
no longer will you
taste food you can't
spell, or never heard
of. if you haven't eaten
it by now, you don't care.
no lima beans, or liver,
no carob, or hummus.
no deer, snake, or turtle
meat. get that soy milk
away from me.
you won't get on a ride
at the carnival,
not even the scrambler,
or go to another wine
festival and sip bad
wine in the hot sun
until your brain almost
bursts with a head ache.
you won't go to the opera,
or listen to banjo music,
or accordion music,
or the boston pops. stop.
no more chick flicks,
or chick books, or
holding a chick's purse
while she tries
on clothes at the mall.
you're done with food
courts too, and camping.
add fishing to the list,
or going up in a hot
air balloon to get fried
and die against
the high voltage power
lines. there are more
things, so many more
things you won't ever
do again, but your fingers
are tired from typing.
so you'll stop now.

honest, i'm not angry

whenever anyone
says, I'm not angry,
I'm not upset.
honest, truly,
I'm just trying
to understand you.
run.
run fast and far.
you are about to
feel the unleashed
fury of a woman
scorned.

red sauce

the red sauce
on your white shirt
looks like
a bullet
wound with blood
oozing out.
but no, nothing
quite dramatic
as that has
happened. no sharp
shooter has
nailed you as you
sat at the restaurant
with a spoon
and fork,
manipulating
angel hair pasta
towards your open
mouth. after awhile
as your date
points this out,
you give up
altogether,
and wipe your
hands and mouth
near the spot.
it's a losing cause.

freezer burn

her fingers
were frosted
with cold.
her breath blew
out a bloom
of winter.
her heart,
a deep
freezer with
wrapped
meat in
brown paper.
her toes
were icicles.
her eyes steel
blue,
deep and dark
as the north
atlantic.
you needed
a blow torch
to get anywhere
with here.

start anew

the rough
bruised hue
of waves
against
the browned
pylons,
thickened
by winters
cold hand.
how horrible
a death
it would be
to sink
into that blue.
it makes
you wonder
why they
choose the
highest point
of the bridge
to end
things. so
many easier
ways to get
out of
the world,
to shake free,
start anew.

the ants

how quickly
a line of ants
form
once word gets
out about
spilled
sugar, piled
free on
the linoleum floor.
it's what
you think of
when
walking through
the gourmet
grocery store
on a Saturday,
when
the shrimp
and scallops
wrapped
in bacon
are sizzled
by the kid in
a chef's hat
near the automatic
front
doors.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

lemon pie

tart
and sweet
the lemon
pie
is you,
my love
across the table,
settled
in your seat
with a view.
the meringue
a soft
cushion on
your fork
the yellow
too,
across your
lips, a small
bite, as you
sit across
the table,
in your seat
with a view.

the serum

milking
the poisonous snake
of venom
then diluting
it before
injecting it
into a sheep or
horse. then
removing
the anti bodies,
creating a serum,
this is how
you save a life
from a snake
bite. who knew.
you always thought,
you sucked it
out and spit,
rubbing mud
into the wound.
the world
is fortunate
to be without
your medical
services.

the placid sea

you've reached
a point in life where
you want
it to be drama free.
no crying.
no wild emotions
tossed about
like wind emptying
the trees.
you want the placid
sea.
the clear sky.
the soft white sand
to lie upon,
and dream.
why is this so
hard?

the yellow mg

your friend
had a yellow mg,
like a small
fragile bird,
in the early
eighties.
how many times you
helped her
push it
down the late
night streets
of dc, through
Georgetown,
you lost
count.
parking on a
hill was key
to jump starting
the car
towards home.
hanging on for
dear
life with the top
down, the music
up, the stars
all around, her
hair
in the wind
forever young.

what's that?


there was no
word for volcano
in latin,
which added
to the confusion
as rocks
and ash
rained down
trapping
them forever
in poses
under lava. mouths
open
trying to find
the right
description,
the right word
to say
what they wanted
to say
as a nameless
mountain exploded
laying waste
to the city
of Pompeii.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

black and white


in the photo
you see
a box of
crayons
melting
in the sun.
the pale
leg of a child
beside it.
a rusted bike,
a broken
swing, unmoving,
with no one
seated.
a pool,
the fencing
down, sagged
in algae
and blue.
a dog,
the subject
of the photo,
his tongue out,
seems to be
smiling.
what happened
here one
summer day
is gone,
though someone
had the dark
artistic
humor
to photograph
the bones.

the left hand

your left
hand is your favorite
hand.
so often
unchosen throughout
the day.
an under used
hand, the fingers
hardly
used
to open a jar,
or can. it
hardly ever waves,
or shakes
another hand.
it's not as strong
as the right one,
but still
able, and
quietly ready,
if called
upon.
you like that
in a hand.

the wishing well

the coins
had stacked so
high,
dulled pennies
and nickels
no
longer with
a shine,
wishes made
on each
coin, as if
someone was
listening,
then tossed
into the well.
who would possibly
grant a wish
for a mere,
a penny, or
a nickel?
who would grant
love,
or riches,
or health to
someone giving
up such a small
unmissed
fee?

so you sleep

you can barely
their
soft
bodies
and arrowed
paws
digging,
these moles
with black
buttoned eyes,
like thieves
in dirt
burrowing
towards
sweet roots
to eat, while
behind
your locked
door
you dream,
you believe
that you've done
everything
you could
to make your
world a safer
place, untouched
by the gnawing
of the world
outside.
so you sleep.

Friday, April 11, 2014

so how about his weather

because she only
had two toes
on one foot, she
rarely wore
sandals, the other
foot being normal,
she was
self conscious
of her missing
little piggies.
three had gone
to the market
and not come back
is what she told
you, laughingly,
making light
of her uncommon
non-conformity.
but they were
beautiful toes, as
you could see as
her feet swung
along the pier,
the nails painted
strawberry red.
the foot tanned
from the beach.
did you know,
you tell her,
trying to relieve
the tension of
the moment, that
Marilyn Monroe
had six toes on
both feet and they
cut the extra ones
off. true story.
she had two extra
little toes.
there is a long
pause, almost a dead
silence at this point.
she doesn't respond
to this information,
but looks away.
in fact she shakes
her head and stares
at a ship
in the distance,
mumbling something
about wishing she
was on it. so how about
this weather, you
say.

yoga pants

you were sitting out
in the sun today,
on a park bench with
your friend jimmy.
it was lunch break
and everyone and his
sister was out there
walking about
eating egg salad
sandwiches and carrots.
because we were both
on diets, we split
a granola bar
and had a bottle
of water. but we
were distracted
from our usual
reminiscing. so tell
me, jimmy said,
what's your take on
yoga pants? what do
you mean. you know
he says, look around,
yoga pants. like that
woman who just
walked by and
that one over there
jogging, and that
one talking on her
phone and that one.
pushing that stroller.
ooh, look, she's wearing
a red pair. like
a superhero. i like
the red ones. all
the women are wearing
them these days, no
matter what shape
they are in. so what
do you think, he asks,
as you both gaze
around the park at
all the women wearing
yoga pants. you take
a nibble of your granola
bar. I think I may have
an unhealthy love
for them, you finally
say, staring
at a woman standing
on her head against
an oak tree.
it's a good time
to be alive, jimmy.
amen brother.
amen.

the poetry reading

your poetry
instructor from years ago
still reads
the same poems
he wrote
before you knew him.
every poetry reading,
you hear
the one about his son
dying.
the one about
his son, as a child
in school,
the one about his
son, the day he was
born.
he can't stop with
these poems, each year
at the podium,
clearing his throat
before he begins,
as if reading them
for the first time,
trying so hard
to bring him back
to life.

the black car

you keep washing
your black
car. it keeps raining.
the roads
are filthy, which
makes the car
dirty again.
it's a simple
thing that you
completely understand.
leaving you with
the thought that
you'll never ever
again buy a black
car, but you will.
you always do.
it's so hard
to change, and
to stop complaining.
ask anyone.

another life

in another life
no one
was ever
a grease monkey
changing
oil at
a gas station
on the new jersey
turnpike,
or a slave
being whipped
in back of a vessel
while rowing
with a splintered
oar.
no, most people
were kings and queens,
nobility of sorts.
rulers of
long forgotten worlds
perched upon
gold thrones.
which perhaps
gives reason to the
way they behave
now, expecting
so much for doing
so little.

small talk

will work
for money and
small
talk.
bend my ear
i'll listen
i'll
ask questions,
i'll add
in a few
personal side
notes of
my own.
it's a long
day, but
it's work
and pays the bills.
the small
talk
helps
to move
the clock along.
feel free
to pull up a
chair.
I'm open all
day.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

whole wheat

the winter
has turned you
white. more
white than usual
think
egg white.
or white bread.
the first burn
will
be a pinkish
burn. an itch
will follow.
by august
though you'll
be a nice
slice of
toast, whole
wheat lathered
with cocoa
butter.

chicken dinner

you don't like
to hear your mother
talk about
how her mother
and grandmother
used to grab
a chicken from
the back yard
and ring it's neck
for supper.
you remember
those fat white
harmless
chickens when
you were a kid.
you used to chase
them around
the bricked
in yard nestled
on a narrow
street in Italian
south philly.
you are glad that
you never had to
witness
the ringing of
a chicken's neck.
it might have changed
you somehow,
and not for
the better.

let's fool around

everyone
is dying.
has something
that is
taking them
to the grave.
inch
by inch
the ground
is dug.
one less
breath, one
less step.
we're all
heading there
eventually
some sooner
than others.
so, anyway.
I think we should
fool around.
time is of
the essence,
why wait?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

everything is new

the treeless
boulevard
now new, once
a forest
full of green,
a meadow,
a barn with
rotted beams,
a red roof
caved in.
the boxed houses
rise
one per day
along black
pavement,
white
sidewalks
and gas lights.
a hose fills
up the lake nearby,
almost full.
the new trees
will
be ribbed
in burlap
to save them
from the cold,
held upright
by wires, against
the walking path,
but for now
the road is.
naked
and nude,
a world
scraped clean
but tethered
to balloons,
floating high
against
the blue.

grudges

chilled
rocks along
the stream.
holding cold
as if in
some sort
of angered state.
not letting
go of
winters ice
and snow.
reluctant still
to set free
what has come
and gone.

cherry pie

I like the photo
of the pie
you posted on face
book.
but who are you
anyway.
I know more
about that pie
than I do about
you.
you call yourself
a friend, but
where were
you when I had
the flu,
or that flat
tire and needed
a ride. yeah. I
see your pie.
so what.
I don't see a
slice of it
on my table and
that says more
about where we
stand,
than any cherry
pie.

beneath the surface


beneath
the surface
is where
she likes
to lie.
a foot below
the air
where water
begins
and she can
still see each
sunset,
sunrise.
it's neither
cold
or warm
where she resides.
she can
be reached,
but it takes
some effort
some time,
and the tide
has to be just
right.

selective hearing

you have
developed selective
hearing
over time,
listening
to only what
you want, or
need to hear.
slowly you are
working on selective
vision as well,
and selective
feeling.
choosing carefully
what is
felt or not felt
according to
your mood or
wishes. this
seems to make
the day much easier
to deal with.

the hunger

I set
a dish out
for the cat.
a shallow
saucer of milk
for her
midnight snack.
but she
wanted nothing
to do with
it. so I opened
up a tin
of sardines
and set one beside
the bowl,
this too, was
of interest
to her.
I tried, chicken
and tuna,
no response.
she only wanted
one thing,
and that was
out the door
where she moaned
in ecstasy
to be released
to find love
out on the streets.
a hunger
of a different
sort.

tossing the ball around

why do women
cry so much, your
son asks you
as you toss
the ball
across the yard.
good question,
you say. if you
find out, let
me know, I've
been longing
to know the answer
to that for
a long time.
I guess we
just don't
understand women.
and they
don't understand
us, he says,
stepping back
to catch the ball
falling
out of the sun
and into his glove.
right? right,
you say. right.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

until now

helen, short with
a black head
of hair,
a shiny helmet
pulled down tight
around
her small ears,
she's empty and
full of hope
and fear.
alone at last
with sam
gone and what
to do
at breakfast,
as dinner
slowly nears.
no more paper
together, or
clink of cup
and spoon, or
small words
about the new
neighbor,
or the dog that
barks
at night towards
a soft yellowed
moon,
keeping them both
awake
almost until
light
falls across
their carved
bed, where each
has slept
forever.
making children,
being silent, or
angry, but always
finding
a way out, to
stay together,
until now.

a mind of it's own

why does my phone
keep doing
things that I don't
want it to do.
on it's own
it changes my settings,
rearranges my
icons,
deletes things.
where are my contacts?
it makes my ex
wife look like a
princess. a princess
phone.
I hate my phone.
it's in my
pocket calling
someone right this
second. it tells
me in a human
sort of voice
when someone texts,
me, when I get
an e mail. it
won't leave
me alone, all day
long. it's controlling
my life. I want
to throw it
into the river,
but I'm going to
fast, and the window
is up.

she listens

your therapist
is a loser,
but she listens.
you pay
her well to listen,
so, it's
all good.
she has no
advice on what
you can do to
get it together,
it being
your life,
but she listens,
and nods,
smiles and
nods some more.
you tell her that people
are continually
walking all
over you, taking
advantage of your
good nature.
this makes her smile
and nod,
causes her to write
something into
her green velvet
notebook.
you have great
rapport
with her.
sometimes she'll
give you
a recipe at the end
of the session
to try out,
or tell you about
a new movie
she just saw.
she's almost
like a long term
girlfriend,
but you have
to pay her.
occasionally she'll
ask you to help
her install new
windshield
wipers on her
car when you both
leave together,
or to put on some
snow tires,
which is probably
crossing some sort
of patient doctor
line, but she
listens. so you
don't care.


the malt liquor massacre

you remember
the time
your criminally
insane friend
jimmy poured
a beer
into his girlfriend's
fish tank.
it was swarming
with happy tropical
fish, swimming
easily through
the little castle
at the bottom
and hiding between
the green flow
of fake leaves.
he was surprised
at how they suddenly
stiffened and shook
like vibrating
little lights,
then turned sideways
before floating
to the top.
each fish had a name,
he found out
later, little fish
names. wiggly,
and chester, jenny
and jill.
Cinderella.
there was even a jack.
your friend
replaced them all,
but his relationship
with this person
was never the same
after murdering her
fish with a sixteen
ounce can
of malt liquor
beer.

the hard sell

a new
barista is giving
you the hard
sell on coffee.
it's 7 a.m.
she asks you
if you drink coffee
at home, you nod
sullenly,
you are half asleep,
vulnerable in
a weakened
decaffeinated way.
yes, you say.
I do.
well, how about buying
five pounds
of French roast
to take home.
it's on sale.
we've taken off ten
cents a pound.
what, you say,
staring into
the shiny window
of pastries.
her voice is like
that of a
squirrel scampering
in your attic.
you hear her,
and yet don't want
to hear her.
she reaches across
the counter with a
surprisingly long
ethiopian arm
and shakes you,
hey, hey, she says.
do you want
the coffee or not.
I'm talking to you
mister. you can't ignore
me, where's your
car. I'm going
to wheel it out for
you. give me your
credit card.


save us

a year or
two goes by and
you get the call.
that wallpaper you hung
is splitting
at the seams, she
says, nearly
in tears,
you promised
that it would last
forever and ever.
that nothing
would ever change.
we trust you'll
come back and make
amends.
we are counting on
you to make
it right.
to make our lives
right. to fix
the ruin of what
we've become.
save us, and fix
the paper, please.
we are depending on
you. we will be
waiting, and this
time bring
extra strong
glue. my husband,
my children, my friends
are all counting
and depending
upon you. come soon
and save us.

spare parts

spare parts
are everywhere.
a screw,
a gasket, a piece
of metal
pipe, an axel,
a gear,
a washer. not
unlike you,
things are
spread apart,
held
loosely
together by
a vanquished
notion
of self.
what used to
run
smoothly is
burning
oil, grinding
down
tomorrows road
at a
snail's pace.
you need a tune
up
in the worst
of ways.

I Got This

occasionally
you wouldn't mind seeing
a miracle
or two
to increase
your faith, give
you a better
feeling about
the world
at large.
and you don't mean
a miracle
like a butterfly
floating around,
or an apple
growing on a tree.
you'd like to
see something big
like the red
sea parting,
or moses coming
down the mountain
with freshly printed
set of instructions
carved in stone.
a burning bush
would be nice too.
just something to
say, yo, hey, I'm
still here, don't
worry, I got this.

name, rank serial number

people are always
trying to trip you up
by asking
trick questions
like
how are you,
how's work,
what have you been
up to lately.
what's new, are
you still dating
so and so.
but you don't break
under pressure
easily. you are
made of steel
and they can't get
through. you don't
surrender personal
information
at the drop
of a hat. who do
they think they are
delving into me.
you shrug instead
and say, something like,
it's all good.
same old, or something
to that effect,
this makes them stop
and go away.
once again you
haven't buckled
under their prying
pressure, trying to
get into your
most secret self.

Monday, April 7, 2014

heat on


the brightness
of a yellow
sun makes
you turn
the heat off.
you are optimistic.
but by morning,
you shiver
in your bare
feet, go down
the wood steps
and turn it
back on.
you look out
the window.
there is ice
on your car.
you shake your
head.
it's april
for god's sake.
enough.

after ten

the late
night ring,
or the knock
on the door
gives you chills.
you look
at the name,
or number,
you stare
through the peep
hole.
after ten you
want to be
left alone
with your favorite
company,
yourself.

melted chocolate

the melted
chocolate in
your pocket
saved for a rainy
sweet
starved day
has melted.
it's not the end
of any world,
but it is
a disappointment
no different
as you saying,
sorry, but I
have to go.
can't stay.

dr. cole dieter

dr. cole dieter e mails
you in broken english
and wrecked grammar
and says that he needs
work done on
one of his many properties.
you've never heard
of him, but you are
sympathetic with his
plight, his lung
cancer and inability
to talk on the phone.
he is barely hanging
onto to his fragile life.
please, he pleads can
you help me, my friend.
he wants to send money,
but he needs your
account number to
deposit his thousand
dollars. he needs your credit
card information,
your full name and
address, then you'll
get the keys to the house,
the down payment. you
will have work to fill
your month of labor.
he may be Russian,
or Nigerian, or he may
really live in
west springfield
Virginia, but it all smells
like rotten cabbage
at the bottom of a can,
so you tell him your
name is George, that your
real name is George
Washington and to send
further communications
and the check, or cash
and keys to Pennsylvania
Avenue, 1400. Washington
D. C. this seems
to end the brewing
relationship. you hope
he recovers and lives a
long happy life though.
no one should have to suffer
like that. not even
dr. cole dieter.

trash truck

you hear
the trash truck
in front
the house,
turning around
it's behemoth
body
grinding garbage
into its dark
metaled mouth.
the orange men
flipping bags
and boxes into
the loud vortex
of crushed
everything.
and here you sit.
with a bag
of shrimp shells
and fish
sitting by the door
downstairs
stinking up
the house.
you can't count
the times
this happens.
why do they come
so early?
what's wrong with
these people.

an inch given

an inch
given, a mile
taken.
some people
can't put enough
food on
their plate,
or money
in their pocket.
there is never
enough love
to go around.
their mouth
is always dry
in need of
a drink.
a day is long,
the night
longer when
nothing seems
to satisfy.

the whistle

the dentist whistles.
perhaps he
thinks it calms
you, telling you that
everything is just
fine, but it's not
a good sign.
it means he's about
to insert
a needle
into your pink
gums,
or turn on
a drill to begin
to mine
a tooth that's
been giving
you trouble.
it's not a song
that he whistles,
no tune
that you know,
it's just a
thoughtless whistle,
like a bird,
like wind perhaps
through
a window
partly rolled.

you run

in your dream
you run
you run, your legs
are strong.
the world
is blue
under the sky.
the sun
is new.
you have no
scars.
no ache yet
of what's to
come. it's a
fine dream. a dream
you'll go
back to
again and again.
you'll get it
right
at some point.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

noah's cruise ship

you try to imagine
noah
with the snakes,
the rats, the porcupines,
the skunks
and alligators,
two by two
in their grumpy
angered ways boarding
ship. the lizards
asking for an upgrade
on their steerage
suites.
how the lunch
buffet must have
gone. the lions
wanting red meat,
the elephants
and giraffes
tall trees.
the swimming
pool a fiasco,
with the monkeys
acting wild,
the shuffle board
court a zoo. why
do the cute animals
have verandas,
the hyenas ask.
what about the pandas
and their very
private room?

apply ice

like newton
you discover things
by accident.
things hit
you on the head.
fall
upon you,
like a rain storm
of apples.
but you don't make
a big deal
of it.
you don't form
a thesis, or
write a paper,
or give an interview
to the local
channel.
no. you just rub
the lump
on your head,
apply ice
and move on.

what to be

grown ups
ask the children,
so, so what do you
want to be
when you grow up.
and it's always
something dangerous,
or glamorous,
or interesting.
they never say
that they want to
carry a sack of
mail from door to
door until they
get old and grey,
and yet, some will.

hanging pictures

the new neighbors
in the empty house
have a hammer.
it's seven a.m.
and pictures must be
hung.
you hear their shoes
going
from room
to hollow room.
then the tapping
of a nail
or screw. they are
a family
of woodpeckers
who love art. this
could go
either way, as
you place a pillow
over your
good ear.

self help

you have
been pieced back
together
by your own hands.
stitched
your mind
in a workable
fashion.
you've
studied
the masters
of sadness
and sorrow.
lifted up
the skirts of
temporary
joy. you've peeled
the onion of
your psyche
to find
another onion
waiting.
this life thing
never
ends, unless
it ends.

Friday, April 4, 2014

the yellow snake

you hardly
notice
the snake
that has crawled
and wrapped
it's yellow
rope
of body
around
the handles
of your bike.
the black
stripes
are as shiny
as wet
tar.
somehow it
has come home
with you. it
has found a
warm
place in which
live.
it's frightening
sometimes
what goes
on without
knowing.

friday night

you keep
the telemarketer
selling
windows and vinyl
siding
on the phone
because you like
the sound of her voice.
she sounds
attractive, cute
and nice.
of course she
might be ninety,
but you don't care.
it's Friday night,
you're a bit
lonely and restless
sitting
there with your
cat, sylvia, widdling
a flute out of a
fallen branch with a
steak knife.

crazy as a bed bug

it's painful
to watch old people
dancing,
despite
the friendly lighting
and vast amount
of alcohol
consumed, the
thump of music,
the hesitant
arms akimbo
moving awkwardly
about
as if swimming
in a terrible current.
you have to turn
your head
and refuse.
it's not
normal to be out
there shaking
your aged booty
to any old or new
tune. no.
stop the madness.
it's over, unless
it's slow,
unless it's Sinatra,
unless it's
a wedding, or
you're madly in love,
or crazy as
a bedbug in june.

saturn's moon

there might be water
under
the rocky airless
surface
of a moon circling
Saturn.
you know. the planet
with all
those radiated
and colorful rings.
you mull this over
as you
search for a parking
spot in the city,
hoping
to find one before
happy hour ends
so that you can get
a cold drink.
not water, although
ice might
be involved
among other liquid
type things.

finding a trashcan

there are so many
trashcans now a days.
it's confusing
as to which one to
throw your trash in.
it's just a cup,
a newspaper and a
plastic container
that held your salad,
but you can't find
the right can,
the blue one, the
green one, the brown
one. you walk up
and down the boulevard
searching for a place
to dispose of your
trash. after an
hour, frustration
sets in and you want
to just toss it into
the street and let
nature take it's course,
but people are
around and they
might think that you
don't care about
the earth. but you
do. you love your
planet. it's one of
your favorite planets
after venus. you miss
the old days when you
threw everything
into a big rusty barrel,
plastic, paper, cans,
bottles, shoes
and old clothes,
something kids would
set fire to after
drinking on Saturday
night at the park.

losing friends

you lost a few
friends
last week.
they disappeared
from sight
with the click
of a button.
you were so close
to them,
sharing the cake
you baked,
the flowers
in your yard,
their children making
funny faces.
how you loved
their updates
and silly jokes,
their concern
for politics
and keeping the earth
afloat.
you felt that you
too were on vacation
with them in aruba,
and spain,
Italy and Daytona,
but you lost them,
and now you may
never see them again,
how quickly face
book brings one joy,
and then such sad
and unexpected
misery.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

new strategy

you have a new strategy
when it comes to age.

you begin to tell everyone
that you are 70 years old.

this makes them go no way.
dude, you don't look it.

it's freaking amazing
the shape you are in.

how do you do it? you should
write a book, or be on

t.v. 70, they say, standing
back with their hands on

their hips, eyes bugging
out. yup, you say. 70,

but gotta go now, I'm
doing a 5k next weekend,

have to get my miles in.

fat and still hungry

I keep trying to lose
the same
ten pounds every spring,
she says to you,
grabbing a rubbery
roll of blubber
around her yoga pants.
yup, you say, me too.
I'm still carrying
thanksgiving dinner
in here. you tap
your gut like a watermelon
ripened and ready
to burst.
what do we do? she says.
just what will we do?
I don't know, but
are you going to finish
that ├ęclair, I'm
still hungry.

store flowers

a line
of flowers
weeping
bent
over
in the big
store.
tended to
by careless
hands,
part time
help.
orphaned lilies,
ignored
roses.
begging with
unwatered
leaves
won't you please
take me
with you.

your corner store

she is
the corner
store.
fresh
and open for
business.
you see the light
on in her eyes,
blinking.
you know where
everything is.
each shelf
laid out neatly
and clean,
no dust or
spoils here.
she's wrapped
and ready
to go, deliveries
for special
orders only.
you get what
you pay for,
no discounts
or coupons
accepted.
one customer
at a time. she's
your corner store.

something different

every night
it's chicken.
fried or baked,
barbequed
and grilled.
can't we have
something other
than chicken
one night, you
plead to your
wife as you
scour the cupboard
for food. surprise
me one night.
like what
she says?
you hate fish,
and you can't
eat red meat
anymore on
account of what
the new England
journal of
medicine says.
so that leaves
you with chicken,
or pasta, which
you hate.
what about cereal,
you say.
I love cereal.
sure, she says.
sugar pops,
or frosted flakes?
go crazy,
mix them together.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

the open door

unhinged,
a door
leans
unlocked,
ajar
to air
and light,
for anyone
with a
notion
to come in.
some doors
are
sealed tight
while others
wait
for the moment
when you
should enter,
to go
forward
and begin.

cows

you spot
from the car
window
black
and white cows
with mouths
moving
full of broken
grass,
still beneath
the blue sky
above
them,
the world is
miraculous
in its
strange beauty.


safe in the fog

you don't want
to know
what's hidden.
it's better
sometimes to stay
in the dark,
stay clueless
about what is
true, or false.
it's easier to see
the world
through prisms,
through the rose
colored
spectacles that
we all put on.
life is more
palpable by
what we
don't know.
keeping the truth
at arms length
allows us
to sleep well,
safe in the fog.

strategiclly located butterfly

everyone
has a tattoo these
days.
the middle age
grocery
clerk's arms
are full of them.
although
they are a little
runny now.
the blue
is green, the
reds are
violet, seeping
into
the fleshy skin.
your barista
has a nice barbed
wire
around his
biceps. black
and jagged,
scary, and the day
care center
lady has a rose
on her breast, or
at least the part
of her breast that
she chooses
to show you
with her low
cut yellow
sweater.
it used to be
sailors, or
sinister people
who rode bikes
and killed cats
for fun,
prisoners, and
carnival folk who
were adorned
with ink, but not
anymore, the
times they are
a changing.

the dinner party

you know you are going
to have a big
fight with Irma
the second you come
home from work
and there's six
other people
sitting at the dinner
table, finishing up
what looks like
a plate of chicken
and potatoes.
string beans and
corn bread. home
made. ah oh, escapes
from your lips
as she rises to
begin crying
and berating you in
front of your
forgotten guests.
am I late, you say.
give me a hint here,
birthday, anniversary,
something, right?
you mumble something
about the train,
the weather,
work, failing to
mention happy hour
where the time just
plum got away
from you.

the weather girl

you like
the weather girl.
the fact
that she's only
half right
all the time,
half wrong
the rest of
time.
it's pleasing
to know
that some women
can't be all right
all the time.
how rare
that is.

we're so alike

one minute she's in
hong kong,
meditating in a lush
green garden,
her legs
set in a lotus
position,
the next day
she's in paris
floating
on a barge down
the seine.
sipping red wine,
eating
bleu cheese,
and saying things
in a low voice
that are sublime.
you scratch your
neck
where it itches,
reading her e mail,
and think about
what to do next.
maybe
later you could
go up to target
to buy some kitty
litter. you're
almost out.

term life policy

you slam
the door on the insurance
man's foot, trying
to get rid
of him, but he's
wearing steel toed
boots.
his brief case
is wedged between
the storm
door
and the knob, it's
a struggle
between you
and him.
he has a pen in
his mouth,
and a term life
policy under
his double chin.
just sign it, he
says with his
onion breath.
sign it and
i'll leave you
alone forever.
don't you love
your kid,
don't you have a shred
of human
decency in you?
do you want him to
be poor and homeless
if you should
perish in a non
suicidal manner?
you are walking
around with
no life insurance.
what's wrong
with you man? just sign
the document
and i'll go.

the ; ) personals

your new girlfriend
that you met on the Gregg's
list personals,
madame x, wants to tie
you up and tickle
you with a feather.
drop hot wax from
burning candles onto
your skin. hit you
with a barbed whip.
but you don't
want to. you hardly
know her, and don't
exactly trust
her because you've
never seen her
without her leather
mask before.
she's nice,
and friendly, which
is basically
the same thing, but
she's personable
and a great
conversationalist,
which is important in
this day and age.
it's hard to explain
the attraction,
but she is a good
cook, her lasagna
is out of this world.
you just wonder
sometimes what she
really looks like
without the spandex
and leather, the thigh
high boots and like
I said, the mask.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

to be a bird

birds
have no feelings,
at least
none that
they show.
they don't have
the time
or the inclination
to be
happy, or sad,
joyous or
full of woe.
they just
fly away from
trouble or
love,
with everywhere
being somewhere
next to
go. how nice,
at times
to be a bird.

the job review

we want more
out of you.
don't take this
the wrong
way, but
we know you are
capable of doing
great things
here at the company.
we believe in
you despite
the numbers you've
shown over
the last few days.
we think that
there is a future
for you here over
the next thirty years.
we see you in
the corner office.
we see you
running the show
at some point.
but we just need
you to buck up,
to care a little
more. to apply
yourself. to stop
day dreaming and
staring out the window.
we know it's only
been a week, but
we more out of
you. okay?



seven seas

in every sea
your father has
dipped
his feet, floated
under suns
a half world
away.
he can point
to any blue
on the spinning
globe
and say, there,
I've been
there to swim,
to float upon
the salts and touch
the sand
of that sea.
his eye grow
soft,
as he remembers
as yours will
when you remember
this.

to clean

it's good to clean.
good
for the soul.
the dust and grime
under hand
and brush, broom
and mop.
each corner,
under each bed.
it's good
to clean. good for
the soul.
good for the head.

pot holes

pot holes
equal
hell.
the devil's
hands
are digging
deep
within
the streets.
making
wells
for you to
fall in.
to clunk
your wheels
within,
to trip
and fall,
and fall,
never to be
seen again.

retreat

retreat
is fine. two
steps back
beyond the fray
behind
the trenches,
the line
of fire.
retreat.
not surrender,
but
retreat
behind the walls,
the wire.
fall back,
regroup.
retreat.