Monday, June 30, 2014

cat and mouse

it's unnerving
when someone calls
you at home and
asks, by name,
if this is your
name, and you say
yes. yes it is.
how can I help you
deep voiced mysterious
person?
then they hang up.
you try to call back,
but the line is dead,
the number disconnected.
it's a strange world
of cat and mouse
we are living in.
it's so hard to know
which one you are
sometimes.

i'm in san juan

you don't like it
when people call you
or text you
when they are having
fun. when they
are at the pool
or on a cruise,
or lying on some
golden beach
in san juan.
I'm having an ice
cold pina
colada they say.
or I just ate
some crabs,
or lobster.
I dripped butter
on my tanned
skin. i'll send
you a pic.
you don't want their
ship to sink
or for a shark
to take off a leg
or an arm.
but if they have
sand in their bed
at night, well,
that's a good thing
to know.

snow shovel

you want your snow
shovel
back.
but your neighbor
thinks it's his now.
he's had it that long.
he has your
cat too.
and your
wife. your children
go over there
for dinner
and he helps
them with their
homework.
sometimes you put
a glass to the wall
and listen
to their
laughter, you
listen to
the fun they are
all having
without you.

the lemon girl

every morning
she cuts a lemon
in half
takes it to her
mouth and bites.
this is how
she leaves the house.
goes about
her day.
it keeps her
from being frivolous,
keeps her
from not being
taken seriously.
there are no mistaken
smiles, or
smirks, or laughs.
the lemon, she
thinks, makes
her strong
it's good for
business.
it's good for
being alone, too.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

the round table

it's not exactly
the Algonquin round table.
you and betty,
jimmy, gina
and omar.
but you do have
lively discussions
as you sit
around a square
table at
the chic filet
eating food blessed
by god
and served by clean cut
very polite people.
you discuss authors
and books,
politics and prose.
food and sex.
love and death.
sometimes no one has
anything to say,
so you sit there
and stare at your
phones until your
done with your lunch,
then you say goodbye,
go on your way,
with a wave.

sweeping up

you take
the broom,
the mental broom
and begin
to sweep.
you start at
the back of your
mind, and
dig into the
corners for
webs and spiders,
small dust
balls
that have gathered.
you sweep forward,
clearing out
the debris
of your life.
the angry
people, the sad
ones, the ones
who never call
and don't really
care. you sweep
away the bad thoughts.
imagined slights.
you open the front
door of your
mind, letting
in the sun and
blue sky, then you
push the pile
out into the wind.
out of your mind.

my people

she tells you that
she is a
direct descendant
from the mayflower,
landing at Plymouth rock.
she can look at
the passenger
list and point
to who her great
great great
relatives were.
she's very proud
of something she
had nothing to do
with, which makes you
smile.
what about you, she
says, who are you're
people.
I'm not sure, you say.
but there has been
mention of roswell
at the family
gatherings.

let's have some fun

let's do something fun
today, she says,
as she scrambles up some
eggs in a pan.
let's go somewhere,
get out and about,
do a day trip.
game? you peer over
the top of the newspaper,
trying hard not
to sigh. sure you
say, then go back to
checking the box score
of the game
from yesterday.
like what, you say.
go where?
oh, I don't know.
maybe hike up old rag
mountain, or to great
falls, or maybe head
out to a winery.
something fun, we could
take a picnic basket.
sure, you say, but it's
getting kind of late
isn't it. it's almost
noon. it's not too late.
after we eat, let's
shower, get dressed and
hit the road.
sure, you say again.
rubbing your forehead.
hey, can you throw some
cheese on those eggs.
do we have any bacon?
I like bacon.

the loose ends

pounds of
paper have piled
up
at your desk.
scribbled notes
and numbers,
reminders
of things you'll
soon forget.
you already have.
appointments to
be kept.
calls to be made.
your method
of keeping track
of things
is frighteningly
bad, but
somehow you
manage to get
it all done
without late fees,
or too much
anger and resentment
coming from
a loose end
job, or friend.

deer hunt

the woods are full
of deer
so you know the signs
are going up soon
to warn the walkers
and joggers,
the bikers that
a hunt will be
in progress,
throughout the month
of june
and maybe into
September, depending
on how many
deer there are
to kill, keeping
them off the road
and off the hood of
your car.
the world is getting
smaller, the herds
are thinning.

the platform

if elected.
no more guns.
no more cigarettes.
no more
dinner theaters.
no more
fast food
restaurants.
no more rude
people.
no more
walking around
looking at
your cell phone
when with other
people.
there is so much
more, but
you need more sleep.
more sleep
is on the list
too.

i just met a girl named maria

you go to a dinner
theater to see the
west side story.
large buses are unloading
out front
full of seniors
from new jersey
and beyond.
the food is horrible.
left overs
from an airline, or
worse.
the play is light
and breezy. the jets
versus the sharks.
but there is very
little swagger in
the actors, there is
more swish and winks,
still doing guys and dolls
or aux cage de folles
in their heads.
you never expect anyone
to stab anyone else
as you eat
your dark food,
gnawing at whatever
it might be.
the jello is
the highlight of the meal.
it's wonderful when
an old man in the middle
of the song maria
stands up with his
dripping
steak in hand
and yells out,
I can't eat this meat,
it's like rubber.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

repent

you miss the old
protester
with a sandwich
board, yelling
at people passing
by, saying
the world is
going to end.
repent now.
he's wearing
burlap, of course,
and sandals.
his beard his
grey and there
is a look of
madness in his eyes.
but he keeps
a large can
nearby for donations,
just in case
the world doesn't
end right away,
and he needs
lunch, or a cold
drink.

namaste

you find out who
people are
when things go wrong.
when
the car gets hit,
the drink
spills, the dog
runs away.
the curtain is
pulled back,
and you see who
is at the switch.
who is really
in control. it's
not a pretty
site, despite
all the yoga
and meditation
they do.

the card reader

all day you see
her.
the woman who will
read your cards,
tell you
your future
and enlighten you
to the road ahead,
you see her
sitting on her
front porch with
a glass of ice tea.
her eyes are dark,
her skin
olive and wet.
she sips slowly
in the summer
heat, waving
a piece of cardboard
at her face.
she looks anxious,
waiting
for customers.
but no one
stops by.
the future seems
known these days,
or no one
wants to know
what tomorrow
brings.

Friday, June 27, 2014

small world

the world is getting
smaller,
just yesterday
you were in france
picking up
some cheese
and a fresh
baguette
from the local
market.
after visiting
the Louvre
you rode back
to your hostel
on your
rented bike
with a beret on
your head,
whistling.
next week you'll
be back
in springfield
eating a rotisserie
chicken
at the coffee table,
sipping on
a can of cold
beer
and watching
reruns of andy
Griffith.

party on the 4th

can you bring
your potato salad
to the pool party,
betty asks you
on the phone.
sure, you say.
why not.
what are you bringing.
I'm bringing
beer, she says.
i'll stop by the 7-11
on the way over
and pick up
a couple of six
packs, and some
aloe and
neosporin
for the burns.
I was in north Carolina
the other
day and picked
up some illegal
cherry bombs and
rockets.
should be fun.
I'm setting one off
now just so you can
hear how loud
they are.

the shoe

the shoe
no longer fits
and yet you force
it onto
your foot
to walk all day
reminded
of it's tight
tight laces
and narrow
toe.
your foot can
hardly breath
as you move
about your life
unknowing
of
your pain.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

punishment

when the nuns,
those maniacal
penguins
in black
garb and cowls
beat your knuckles
with a ruler
for cursing
on the black
top playground,
did they think
that would solve
the problem?
hardly, in fact
it made it
a hell of a lot
worse, as you
can see.

her poem

you could write
a poem about her.
a nice sweet poem
absent of irony
or cynicism. it
would be a nice
poem, with some
of the lines
ending in rhyme,
like those two.
it would be a poem
she could read
and read again,
folding it over
into her scrap book
if she had one.
or maybe she could
just ball it up
and toss it into
the waste bin.
either way, you'd
have said, what
you wanted to say.
that you love her
dearly and can't
imagine your life
without her.

taking the fall

the sick
find God more
accessible than those
not ill.
humbled
by pain, we
find our knees
more readily.
sending prayers
upwards or into
any direction
that will get
the job done.
how needy we are
as humans.
thinking all along
that nothing bad
could ever happen.
that life
will go on as is
and that others
will take the fall.

the job

you take your work
home with you.
brushes
and rollers
to be cleaned.
the debris of paint
and caulking
on your hands.
face.
and areas in
between.
you take the sun
home too.
baked into your skin.
the weight
of your wet shirt
clinging
to your tired
limbs.
you think about
what tomorrow brings.
which ladder
to climb,
which roof to scale,
which side
will be in the shade
as you move
like a clock
about the house.

daredevil not

you have no desire
to get into a hot air
balloon
and sail across
the land. you don't want
to jump out of a plane
with a parachute,
there is not a bone
in your body that
wants to wrestle
a bear, or stick
your head into a
crocodile's mouth.
you will not strap
a bungee cord to your
torso and leap
from any tall bridge.
climbing Mt. Everest
is doubtful, as
is swimming the English
Chanel. the closest
you come to being
adventurous is tasting
and unknown dish
of Indian food.
the risk is enormous.

seasonal change

you decide
after it hits
ninety-five
degrees
that it's time
to move the snow
shovel and the twenty
five pound bag
of road salts
down to the basement.
you change
your drawers
and closets over
to summer
clothes. this takes
three minutes
and involves
a hat, a pair
of leather gloves,
and a heavy
pair of water
proof duck boots.
once these are
tucked away.
you're done. it's
summertime.

the flower poem

she sends you a poem
that she
wrote on the back
of her grocery list.
it's about flowers.
how fragrant they are.
the colors.
how they grow and
grow.
she talks about
the bees too, and what
they do with
flowers.
she mentions a lawn
mower that ran over
a flower bed
after they had all
bloomed.
you turn the poem
over. this is much
better. more
interesting.
milk, cereal,
detergent.
chicken breasts.
marshmallows
and bread.

insurance blues

you have insurance.
car
and house.
health
and work.
even for your
phone which
you break and submerge
in water every
other month.
so many things
you are insured
for.
and the money
keeps
pouring out.
each month
each year hoping
to never
have to use
this safety net.
you'd be rich
and done
if not for that
bill
that protects so
much of
what you deem
precious.
and god forbid
that you do use
it, the rings of fire
that you must
jump through,
the maze of forms
and numbers that must
be issued.
you sigh as you stare
at the cracked
screen of your
one month old
cell phone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

thank you

sometimes
you think about
going out
to the side
of the road
with a sign
saying, need
a hot well cooked
gourmet meal
with all the trimmings,
plus
coffee and desert.
a fine chilled wine
would be nice too.
will provide kitchen,
cutlery, plates and
glasses. thank
you and god bless.

the bouncing ball

the kids
out front are bouncing
a ball.
incessantly.
boys and girls.
they aren't
playing a game.
as far as you
can tell.
no one is counting,
or screaming.
there are no
bases.
no goal lines
or baskets
with which to
shoot the ball in.
they are just
content to
chat amongst
themselves and bounce
the ball.
kids have changed
it seems,
or they have grown
beyond
their years,
passing you by
completely.

rotisserie chickens

what is up with
these rotisserie
chickens.
all tied up.
strings going
every which way.
what have they been
up to?
the wings and
legs all tied
together, buttered
up and cooked
to a steamy
slippery glow.
oh, the stories
they could tell
if they were still
alive and had
heads.

baby crazy

once women stop
having babies they love
babies.
they can't get enough
of them.
they stop strangers
on the street and pinch
babies on the cheek.
they want to hold them,
snuggle with them,
smell that powdery
baby smell.
have their picture
taken with them. they
smile as if they are
the happiest people
in the world with that
baby in their lap, petting
their bald little
heads. talking baby
talk to them, pulling
on their little
sausage fingers, and
touching their wiggly
toes.
men don't do this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

nothing to say

a line
of birds
on the wire.
black
silent
ravens
with curled
claws
orange against
the electric
vine.
they say nothing
to one another.
what there
is there to say
that hasn't
been said?

does this dress make me look fat

women are mysterious
creatures,
but there are
a few things you
have learned about
them over the years.
when the check comes,
they need to go
to the bathroom,
immediately. it's
a given fact that
the sight of a waiter
carrying over a
bill to the table
causes an instant
reflex to their
kidneys, making
them jump up and
dash off to the nearest
bathroom.
another thing you've
learned is that if
you forget their
birthday or anniversary,
or you've purchased
a stupid useless
gift, that this causes
them to have a severe
headache making them
incapable of any kind
of romantic activities.
this may last one night,
or a month.
another thing you've
learned is never ever
be truthful when asked
a question about
their weight. never.
this could be fatal.

the ball game

in the middle of the third
inning
after the seventh foul
ball back into
the seats,
and the pitcher adjusts
his cap, his
zipper, his sleeve,
you fall asleep
on the couch
with the dog in your
lap, the t.v.
on mute.
an hour later,
when you awaken,
it's the bottom of
the third
inning, no score,
so you go into the kitchen
to put a turkey
in the oven,
three hours
later, as you carve
it up for
a sandwich it's
the seventh inning.
so you stretch
and go for a walk
with your dog, you
talk to a few neighbors
about the game.
as the sun goes down
you sit back on
the couch and watch
the final inning,
as you put your pajamas
on before bed time.
you almost make
it to the last out,
but it's late,
you're tired, you
can read about it all
in the paper tomorrow.

punctuation

the last you heard
from her
was a brief message
on your phone.
a cryptic note, saying.
yes or no. it was more
of a question
than a statement,
but without
the question mark.
it made you realize
how important
punctuation is,
and how our school
systems have
possibly failed
us. so it's hard
know what she meant,
or where she's
going to, or
went. you could write
back and ask
for an explanation,
but why? the mystery
of her is what
attracted you to her
in the first place.

the magician

he was not a good
magician.
he lost three assistants
one summer
sawing them
in half.
the blood was
everywhere. but by
the fall.
he had it down
and was pulling rabbits
out of hats
with the word presto
and a wave of
his magic cane
and shiny black
top hat.

the sun was warmer

she was more optimistic
about
her past
than her future.
they were wonderful
times, she'd say.
you should have been
there.
what fun we had back
then.
then she'd close
her eyes and turn
her face
towards the sun.
the children were small
then, she'd say,
just barely moving
her lips.
the sun was warmer
too.
you should have seen
the sun, back then.
now that was something.

Monday, June 23, 2014

the longest stretch

she wants to talk
about sex.
her favorite subject.
you cringe as you sit
down outside
the café and order
fried calamari, her
favorite seafood.
you think
of it as rubber gaskets
deep fried and wonder
why it isn't free.
so what is the longest
stretch of time
you've ever gone
without sex, she asks
you, dipping a rubber
band of calamari into
some red sauce.
the longest stretch of
time without any kind
of sex? yes, she
says, and I don't mean
alone. with another
person. you look around
to see if anyone
is listening. keep your
voice down, you whisper,
for god's sake,
there's a pack of nuns
sitting over there.
so, she says, smacking
her lips with another
bite. how long.
hmmm. you say, finger
to your chin, when I was
married there was this
one year where she was
always mad at me for
something, and we may
have gone six months
or so, but you tell
her, I've been in relationships
too that have fallen
apart and there is no
sex ever. ever? she says,
well, it's not really sex.
it's more like, okay, go
ahead, and let me
know when it's over.
I see she says. so it's not
really sex. its more
like a favor. yeah. I guess
so. a perk, I guess
to keep me around.
interesting she says.
and you, what's your
longest stretch.
a week, she says, when
I came down with the flu
last winter. she smiles
and pushes the dish
of calamari towards you,
but you shake your head
and say. nah.

look who it is

when you first
became famous, it was
fun.
everyone pointing at you
and waving,
saying hello, hey
look who it is, it's
him. but by the third
or fourth day,
you had to put on a disguise,
sun glasses, a wig
a hat, a long coat.
you hunched over as
you climbed into
the back of limos,
being protected by
your handlers and
friends, who weren't
really friends at all
but parasites sucking
the blood and money
out of you.
what were you thinking
becoming famous like
you did. how crazy was
that. now you just
want to slip back into
the shadows of life
were most of the world
shuffles about, unknown,
not loved by the masses
and worshiped like
gods. well, maybe in
a few more weeks.

the life vest

when i first met her,
she was fresh out
of the institution.
she wore
an orange life
vest.
everyday she strapped
it on, snug
around her waist
and breasts.
notched and belted
tightly around
her back.
this worried me, but
you I got used to it.
i would say things to
her like,
I love that dress you're
wearing, I wish
I could see more of
it, shame that life
vest is blocking my view.
but she would dismiss
my suggestion and bat
her eye lashes, saying
shyly say, why thank.
you are so kind and
generous with your
words. after awhile
I went out and bought
a life vest too.
I'm wearing it now.
it makes sense if you
think about it.

the next move

when you move
you sit on the steps
or floor, or
lean against
a kitchen counter
and say a small
good bye to the house
you've lived in.
you've done it
in every house, or
apartment
no matter how long
or short the stay
has been.
it's where you slept
and ate,
fell in love, fell
out of love.
raised a son
who became a man.
took care of a dog
from birth to death.
stepping stones, all
of them, to where
you are now.

hey

she used to have
special
endearing names
for you.
sweetums, sugar
bear,
babycakes
and such.
but now she just
says hey.
hey, lower
the t.v.
what are you deaf?
hey did you drink
all the beer.
hey, I'm going
out, don't wait
up.
things have
changed around
here.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

at the nighthawk


the late night
stops
at dives
in the middle
of nowhere.
3 a.m.
coffee and eggs.
a few strips
of bacon.
hash browns
and toast
with butter and
jam. more
coffee.
a lingering rain.
a waitress who has
seen everything,
and knows you
inside out.
she leaves you
to yourself,
filling
your cup with each
nod of your head.
you're a figure
in a hopper
painting,
a cliché. a
silhouette
in the window.
a shadow
moving through
the night.
your epiphany
is that the future
is not what
it used to be.

scheduling in the moon

you don't spend
enough
time gazing
at the moon.
you might spot
it out of the corner
of your eye
and take quick
look, but you don't
stop very long.
so you schedule
it in one
night late in
the spring
in early june.
you put it in
ink on your
calendar.
go outside
and lie
on your back
in the tall grass
and gaze
at the moon.
see where that
takes you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

the summer wedding

the wedding was long.
three people
fainted, hitting their
heads
on the wooden pews
in front of them.
the bride and groom
read their own hand
written vows,
to love and to cherish.
to never lie
or cheat, or hide
the remote, to always
be nice and available
for romance.
to turn off their cell
phones at dinner time.
they brought their dogs,
and assorted
children from other
marriages.
people sang, there was
a juggler.
a magician.
a tent was pitched outside
where a pig turned
slowly on a spit.
someone's aunt
made melon balls.
the vows went on and on.
till death do we part,
or sooner if it doesn't work
out. children cried.
children were born.
old people grew older
in their seats
sagging in the summer
heat like wilted flowers
in their new
dresses.
finally, the couple said I do,
rings were slid onto fingers.
there was applause and deep
sighs of relief.
the lime green bridesmaids,
blushing with rouge
and grooms in ill fitted
suits wiped their brows
with rented sleeves.
the music played on and on
as they left in a shower
of brown rice and bird
seed. then finally
you went out to get your
black and decker toaster oven
from the car
to put it in the tent
with the other gifts
stacked high.

what to do

you go in for a face
lift
a tummy tuck
and a hair weave.
a rich aunt has passed
away and left
you with a boat
load of money.
this makes the doctor
happy.
he has visions of a
new speed boat
when he takes a look
at you.
he almost jumps
for joy, but restrains
himself
as he yells for the nurse
to scrub up
and get a scalpel
quick. stat!

tipping point

her house was crawling
with cats,
but you hadn't determined
her sanity, or
lack thereof
quite yet.
it took a little more.
like the gun
under her pillow.
the whips and chains
beneath her bed.
her fascination with
hitler and Mussolini.
but she was a
vegetarian and cursed
you up and down if
you didn't recycle
your paper and plastic.
that was the tipping point.

come over

you are surprised
by the rain
this morning, who knew?
an extra hour sleep,
another chapter into
the new book, a cup of
coffee brought up
as you crawl back under
the sheets.
maybe it will rain
all day. how nice
to not have leave
or be anywhere for
once on a long wet
Saturday. only one
thing missing, and that
would be you.
come over. come soon.

emergency religion

being the bad
catholic
that you are you
save
your religion for
dire times.
it is the emergency
handle
on the wall,
when the room catches
fire. it's
the safety rip cord
on the chute
when you leap from
a plane, dropping
into a free fall.
you feel guilty about
this all the time,
but it's good
to have God
in your back pocket
just the same.

chipping away

with a chisel
you carefully break
the ice off of her.
starting from the head
and working down,
going slow, trying
always not to say
the wrong thing
as you chip away, but
your words, it seems
are all the wrong
thing.
sometimes you take
a candle and hold
it near her,
melting away
the cold fear
of love
she has cloaked herself
under. you know she's
in there somewhere
as the rooms fill will
cold puddles of her.

asleep

when she sleeps
she disappears
into the whiteness
of the room,
the soft tangle
of wintered
sheets.
she's away
in her world.
dreaming, dreaming
of things you'll know.
she keeps so much
to herself.
you know her better
when she's like this,
quiet and away
in bed asleep.

your cup

your happiness
is never
complete.
there is always
more room
in the cup.
the second you
become content
and sit back to
relax, to enjoy
the moment
to take a deserved
long sip
there is a dribble,
a leak.
but the cup
keeps being filled
more and more
with time.
rarely has
it been empty.

Friday, June 20, 2014

the flag decal

you see your friend Abdul
putting his new American flag
decal onto his kia window.
what's up brother, you yell
across the lawn.
I am a citizen now, he says,
walking over to have me
shake his hand. excellent
you tell him. great. welcome
aboard, you say, patting
him on his drenched wet back
where the sprinkler
soaked him down.
you don't know why
you say stupid things like
that, but you do. it's America
for crying out loud
home of the brave and free,
yet occasionally stupid
speech. so now what? you
say. I am going to change
my name to Francis Scott
Key Abdul Arizza. Hmm,
you say, putting your hand
on your chin. Are you in love
with that name, because
francis for a man is a little
weird in this country.
what about james, as in
james Madison, or james
stewart, or LeBron james.
ahhh. he says. you are
on to something. then you
can call me jimmy, right?
that's right. you are officially
jimmy, citizen of the usa.
You are so wise, you are my
mentor in this country. I am
grateful to have you as a
neighbor. I read your poetry
blog and use it as my guide
to living here.
ummm, well. it's all fiction,
you tell him, but sure,
there's some good advice in
there if you look hard enough.
okay, then fellow citizen
he says. I must go buy hot
dogs now and fireworks for
the big celebration coming up
for our country. right on
jimmy. right on. watch the
sprinkler on your way back
over. oh my, took a little
fall did you. are you okay?

playing the game

when your son was little,
out of school
for summer
he'd wake up early
and play monopoly by
himself. when you came
home from work,
eight hours later,
he'd still be at it.
dishes and empty
cups around him where
his mother brought
him food and drinks.
his eyes would be dark
and hollow from all
the wheeling and dealing
that he had to do
to own nearly everything
except Baltic
and Marvin Gardens.
the stack of money
was tall beside him.
exhausted he would finally
put the game away,
explaining to you
how it all went, how
he played fairly,
how the dice kept
rolling his way.

air in the tires

your friend sees
you on your bike
and says
as soon as he
gets air into his tires
he'll join on the path
to the lake
for a ride.
he says this every
summer when he sees
you and stops his car
to chat.
he's proud that he
found his bike online
for a hundred dollars.
it's red, he says.
I just need to fix
the chain,
grease it up and add
air. you laugh.
okay, you tell him.
I look forward to it.
next year, perhaps.

the bracelet

she left behind
her religious bracelet.
it's made of a hard
plastic. painted
like stained glass.
all the saints
are there. from peter
to paul,
to st. Christopher.
she took if off
and left it
on the table before
you made love.
sometimes you take
it out of the drawer
and wonder if she
misses it, or even
remembers you.
in time, you'll put
it in a box and
send to her, when
you're done with it,
but not before.

the salesman

you understand
the salesman
on the phone
or with his
foot in the door
with a deal
you won't believe.
his persistence.
you get it.
you understand
the way he thinks
the way he lives
and breathes.
not taking no for
an answer, not even
a maybe later.
you have been
this way with women.
you are his kind.

the new t.v.

on crutches
he comes to the door
out of breath.
the large man
getting larger
every day.
it's my knee he says,
pointing at
the scars,
it's infected
from the operation.
then he makes it
to the couch
where he flops
into the deep
cushions and begins
to tell you about
his new t.v.
I can speak to it
he says. watch.
he yells out a number
and the channel
changes.
he sketches a
number onto the screen
and the channel
flips to that.
I don't even have
to get up,
he smiles. he's
happy as happy can
be with his bad knee,
his new t.v.

bird's nest

you pull
a bird's nest from
the vent.
small pieces of
leaves
and brush, grass.
an assortment
of slender
branches all
carried
by beak and
woven loosely
for the eggs,
all of it
comes softly out.
the blue
eggs, as tiny
as thimbles,
and one pink
bird, smooth
with open mouth.
as pink as a
sunset, that too
to your dismay
comes out.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

the future

a kid
untethered by his
mother
begins to grab
your food on
the conveyor belt,
putting bananas
in his mouth.
handling your
bread and cans of
soup.
he rolls your honeydew
melon back at you
laughing like the
devil child he is.
and the mother,
not watching, not caring,
goes on
about her own
groceries.
you see future, and
it's not good.

a new you

tired of being
you, you slip out of
your skin,
and ponder a new
look, a new
thought, a new
and better version
of who you could be.
but it's hopeless.
you can't escape
these arms, or hands,
this face.
you need a vacation
from who you are, but
what to do?
there is no where to
go, but back again.

a small gift

you want to give
her something.
something small,
yet meaningful.
a gift. a present
that will say much
and say little.
perhaps it would
be more about the
box, the smallness
of it. the wrapping
and bow.
that alone should
say something.
what's inside
could be anything.
how do you wrap
infatuation, or
like, or friendship,
these types of gifts
are things you'll
never get right,
or know.

in reverse

you are a better
driver in reverse.
more alert, your arm
against the seat,
your neck turned to
see what's behind
you. you are cautious,
going slow, backing
out, backing away
from what you rushed
into such a short
time ago.

in this world

you bend to
the wishes
of others, hoping
it will make
them happier with
you. you observe
from a distance
what people say
to appear smart,
and remember it when
it's your turn
to say those things.
you mimic the world
with no thought
of your own.
it's how you survive,
going forward
where others have
gone before you.
each foot landing
where another foot
has left its mark.
your clothes were
worn before you,
that hat, those
shoes. the tie
you knot around
your neck, even that
you've seen others
wear. before you
leave, you check
the mirror to see
how you will
be seen.

the clearing

with hard
even strokes you
hack away
at the foliage,
the leaves,
the branches
and trees
that block your
day.
you slice
through the vines,
swinging madly
with loose arms
at the weeds.
this jungle keeps
coming,
never ceasing
to amaze you,
but you get
through it.
you are good with
the sharp blade,
this machine you sit
at, writing
your way into
a clearing.

the young boy

you stare into the eyes
of you as a young
boy.
you are still that
young boy.
you haven't changed.
the world has grown
older, but not
you. you are the same
child,
with the same thoughts,
through each season
you haven't moved
away from the child
within you.
you were born this
way. you will die
this way. this is who
you are and always
have been.

safe in her arms

your new girlfriend
is six feet two inches tall
in her bare feet.
in heels add another
four inches.
your head comes up
to her breasts,
which is both good
and bad depending
on the circumstances.
she says things like
I could eat a plate of
spaghetti off your
head. or here, let
me lift you up
so you can see
the concert too.
let me get that can
of tuna for you on
the top shelf.
the big can or small?
sometimes she puts a
leash around your waist
so that she doesn't
lose you in a crowd.
she whistles for you
to come, pats her leg
and says, here boy,
over here. none of this
bothers you.
you have no ego.
you feel safe in her
arms.

rabbit ears

you care, you really do.
but there is
only so much room for so
much bad
news that you constantly
hear.
your care meter has hit
full. there is nothing
you can do about
wars and disease, death
and destruction.
the ozone layer.
ice bergs melting.
you've done your march
in the streets.
you remember a time
when you could go a whole
day without hearing one
piece of bad news
and that was at six o'clock
on a black and white
tv with five channels
and a set of rabbit ears
wobbling on top.

sisters

you teased
yours sisters without
mercy
when you were a child.
made up songs
about them,
pulled their pony
tails,
and dismembered
their plastic
dolls.
they still
deeply resent it,
you can tell
when they give
you a box of home
made cookies
for Christmas.
stale and unchewable
oatmeal, or peanut
butter, thin
wafers that taste
like air, never
ever chocolate
chip with nuts
which they know
is your favorite.

forgive and almost forget

what you want today
is not always the thing
that you wanted yesterday.
take your ex wife for example.
oh how you wanted
a lightning bolt
to strike her from the sky
as she walked around
with a bag full of clothes
from nordstroms on your
hard earned pay,
but not anymore. you've
changed, you are different
person now. you've grown
up over the past few years
and learned to let go,
to forgive and almost
forget.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

skeletons

skeletons
fill
the closet
draped
on wired
hangers.
waiting
in the dust
and dark
to have
their day
in the sun.
to gain
flesh, to
become whole
again,
waiting to
stir up
some long
awaited fun.

artists


the artist
wants
to be known
and yet
left alone.
it's a strange
tug of
war to need
fame
and fortune
then disown
it just
as quickly
as it comes.
the ego is such
a fragile
egg.
easily
toppled
with a shrug,
or by eyes
that turn
away.

the pool

you dive
into the pool
and swim,
arm over arm,
kicking
towards
the far blue
wall.
the water
is june
cold, so you
are alone
in your
journey.
the sun ripples
across
the top
in mirrored
waves,
you could swim
all day
and go nowhere.
such is
the life you
live in.

the take it easy countries

there are some
countries
that just sort
of lay back
and take it easy.
they stay out of trouble.
you hardly ever
hear anything about
them in the news.
finland, france,
Sweden
and Scotland
for example.
they aren't sending
troops around
the world.
they're making
wine and cheese,
beer and sausage.
sitting around cafes
smoking cigarettes
and reciting
poetry, or breaking
out in song.
sometimes they'll
take a nap
whenever they feel
like it.
maybe a six week
vacation at the end
of the summer.
these people aren't
worried about
going to mars,
or back to the moon
again.
no, they're
thinking about a
sandwich they might
have for lunch.
red wine or white?
why can't we be more
like that?

the sex therapist

you have many
patients that want to
tell you in
detail
about their sex lives.
the darkness that lurks
in their hearts
when it comes
to intimacy.
you are paid
to listen, so you
do.
sometimes you cringe.
other times
you smile and bite
on your finger
to keep from laughing
about
the fruits and vegetables
that get involved.
occasionally your glasses
fog up,
and you call for
a time out so that
you can splash cold
water onto your face.
they go on and on
telling you about
things that make your
skin crawl, but
you listen. you are
paid well, and have
been trained to help
people.
you say things, like
go on, don't be
embarrassed, I'm
a therapist, we have
no secrets here.
but by the end
of the day you want
to go home
and take a hot
scalding shower
with a bar of lava
soap. you can hardly
peel a banana anymore.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

two drinks

you can't drink
anymore.
those days are gone.
two
martinis and
you're speaking
Spanish,
badly.
three and you're
the French
ambassador
waving to an adoring
chicken eating
crowd.
tossing roses
off the veranda,
making phone calls
to women
you once knew
and almost loved.
now you sip
and keep your mouth
relatively shut,
you hide your phone
from yourself.
you are aware
of the dangers
of speaking
at this stage
of your life.

the artist

you spill
a can of red paint
on the floor.
but you don't
panic
you call it
art.
you let it dry
and work
around it.
a plant
here, a stone
statue
there.
somehow it all
works. when people
come over,
they say,
oh my, can you
come over to my
house and spill
paint?
sure you say,
but it'll cost
you, it'll cost
you big.
I'm an artist.

the third floor

the third floor
is hot.
the middle floor
livable,
the basement
is an ice
box. so why am
I on
the third
floor sweating
like a slave
kid in a sweat
shop
making sneakers?

throw me that snake

throw me
that snake, I
need to pray,
your friend molly
says. I'm in
a religious mood.
what? you say.
you want me to
throw you a snake,
that snake over
there, that
copperhead, or
whatever it is
wiggling in the grass.
yes, she says.
just throw it
over here.
don't be a sissy
fool, just go fetch it.
fetch it? why are
you talking like this.
let me go get a
rake. oh fiddle
dee dee, she
says and goes
over to pick it
up. lord willing
I won't be bitten
she says,
as her eyes roll
back into her head
and her voice goes
hoarse. she begins
to speak in a foreign
language as she dances
around like her
feet are on hot coals.
it says in the bible
that if you have
faith, you
will be able to
handle snakes, she
says in her regular
voice.
whatever you say.
can you please go swing
that snake over
there, he doesn't
look too happy.

becoming

the children
in the playground
are like bees
buzzing,
finding their
place in the sand.
the rattle
of swings and slides,
the chomp
of dirt and grass,
as a ball is struck
by foot and flies.
the hoop
and holler of high
pitched voices,
rising
in the recess sun,
becoming already
who they are about
to become.

hey

old
people
generally like
to wave.
to sit on
their front
porches
and say howdy,
or hey.
they used
to be the ones
walking by,
or driving
down
the boulevard
but that's
all over now,
and it's okay.
so just wave.
don't be afraid,
it's an
old an hand
in the air
saying farewell,
or come
here for a spell
and stay.

happy girl

betty is such
a fun
and positive
person. cheerfully
benign.
always with
a smile,
something nice to say
about everyone.
not a single
dark cloud
hovers
over her head.
she's a delight
to be around
and makes you
think about your
own life
how critical
and insensitive
you can be
when the chips
are down.
but not betty.
she sees the silver
lining.
the pot of gold.
the bright
side of the road.
sometimes you
just want
to slap her silly.

the mountain

you are patient.
what you
are patient for
you're not
sure, but
you can wait
all day,
all month
or year for
whatever that might
be.
you have the
patience
of a mountain.

how's it going

you linger
in the quiet
of morning.
feel the sun
through the twist
of sheers.
you could sit
here for hours,
writing,
if someone brought
you coffee
and came in
to kiss you
on the cheek,
and say, how's it
going, my
dear?

just starting out

you give
a red faced kid
sitting on
the sidewalk
with a misspelled
sign
five dollars.
he's on
the hot
sunny side
of the street.
not on a bench
but on the brick,
he has
no pot, or hat
with which
to accept
donations.
he has so much
to learn if this
is going to be
his chosen
occupation.

two brides

your friends
of the same sex
are getting married.
the laws have changed
so that love
and a contract is allowed
now in certain
states or on
the water
between two borders.
they'll have a cake,
a band,
finger food and
a bouquet or two of
flowers.
the confused parents
will show, but will
shake their heads
with dismay, saying
to themselves
what has the world
come to.
but the ship will
sail on, the world
will change, for
better, or worse.
love will find a way
to be as one
and people will
dance, people will
celebrate, people
will pop champagne
and eat cake.

you're very nice

how easily
they step backwards
and away.
not feeling
the love
and charm
that you possess,
how you imagine
yourself
to be.
gently they close
the door
so as not to
disturb you,
leaving a nice
note on the table
saying nice
things, using
the word nice
until
it's lost its
meaning.

their hand

you have little
to say
about
a lot of things
and yet
then again
you can go on
and on about
nothing.
you keep to
yourself what
you really
think, leaving
them to guess,
or not guess.
the world is
a card game
with few willing
to put it all
on the table,
call and show
their hand.

Monday, June 16, 2014

feeling lonely

your rarely feel
lonely,
but some days
you wish someone you
liked a lot
would show up
and stay the night.
someone who
doesn't talk too
much, with kissing
skills, and knows
her way around
an oven.
someone who doesn't
want to go on and on
about her past,
or future, or how her
pet bird must miss
her and that she has to
get home in order
to feed it pecans
or something.
after a romantic
evening,
in the morning,
but not too early,
you could say
a few things, like
good morning. hello,
how are you today?
coffee, bagel perhaps?
there would be mostly
nodding
smiling. pointing
towards the hall
closet where the towels
are. she would be someone
real easy going, not
grumpy at all,
someone that has to go
home by noon.

the red blemish

I think a bug
bit me
you tell your doctor
as he examines
your arm.
he touches the red
spot and says
oh my, let
me get the nurse
in here. do you
have insurance
or lots of cash
in the bank?
yes and yes, you
say slowly, staring
at his finger
poking the raised
red blemish
on your arm.
I think it's just
a mosquito bite
he says, putting
on a pair of crazy
mad scientist
glasses to look
even closer, but we
need to run some
tests on it just
to make sure.
if you had a hundred
of these all over
your body I'd be
worried, but for right
now, I just see this one.
hold still,
this might hurt
a little.
he scrapes off a
piece of skin
and puts it in a
petri dish.
he hands it to the nurse
who winks at
you and leaves
the room.
we'll get back to
you in a few weeks
with the results
the doctor says.
you can get dressed
now, then he yells out,
Next!

his garden

your father
tells you about his
tomatoes.
his green beans,
how geen they
are, almost ready
to be pulled.
peppers too.
it's another spring
and summer
with his hands
in the earth.
still tilling the soil
planting seeds.
seven children
wasn't quite enough.

confrontation

you don't
like confrontation.
you are apt
to turn the other
cheek
unless imminent
danger
or death is in
front of you
or someone you love
needs help.
the argument
is not a part
of your make up.
it was at one time,
but you've won
the war of who you
are.
if you don't love
me. leave.
if you have an issue
that makes you sad,
please go.
happiness is not a
warm gun.
it's no gun at all.

the wall

your finger
plugs the hole
in the wall
keeping back
the flood water.
it hurts.
sometimes
you quickly pull
it out and slide
another finger
in. some water
trickles
through.
you can feel
the pressure,
the wall
pressing hard
against
your hand, you
lean your body
into the cracks
forming. you hear
the water
on the other side
building,
your finger will
not be enough
to keep things
together, at some
point it's sink
or swim as everything
comes crashing
down.

the angry line

there is an angry
line
at your window.
it's seven a.m.
and already the world
is up in arms
about something
you can't do
anything about.
but you hear their
complaints
one by one, they
want to blame so
much on you.
gently you steer
them towards
the truth
and hold a small
mirror up their
red faces. look,
look, you say.
there is your problem,
not me,
but i'll help you,
once you
calm down, now
go over there
and take a seat.

footprints

weary,
you decide
to go away for awhile.
get out of town.
you start
erasing yourself
piece by piece,
an arm, then legs,
torso,
leaving
the head for
last. slowly
you disappear
into the blue,
even your voice
is gone. soon
there is nothing
left of you
but the footprints
from your
boots,
here and there,
and even they will
soon fade.

the equation of her

she tells
you to do the math.
so you
take out a pad
and pen
and do the math
of you and her.
subtraction
addition, imaginary
numbers
and square roots.
but you are
still perplexed
at the end
of your scribbled
piece of paper.
what did you come
up with she says,
doing her nails
in the sunlight.
I don't know
you tell her.
I've got nothing.
I'm still confused.
which makes
her laugh.

blue moon

your blue
moon
comes.
she swims
in the cloudless
sky
like a polished
silver
dollar
circling
the world
you live
in, just out
of reach.
close enough
to know
she's out there.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

if you can't say anything nice

you try to go a whole
day without saying
anything bad about anyone.
you are on your
best behavior.
person tailgating you
on the highway,
no problem,
rude people cutting
in line, pfft, not
an issue. screaming
kids running
about the coffee shop
bumping into everyone,
oh, let them have
their fun. telemarketer
calling at 7 a.m.
to sell you windows,
god bless him. it's
a tough day ahead of
you, you think as s
waiter ignores you,
again and again,
despite waving
your menu like a flag
over your head.

lickable fruit

inspired by
the advent of
electronic
cigarettes
you invent
the electronic
line of fruit
and vegetables.
the banana
that isn't a
banana, but it
looks like one.
you peel it
just like a real
one, but you
don't bite it
you lick it
until all the
flavor is gone.
same goes for
the carrot,
the cucumber,
the tomato
and apple.
all with batteries
included.
no longer do you
have to worry
about what to do
with the pear core
you just ate
in your car,
you lick it dry
of flavor then save
it for a recharge
for later.

crime clothing

it seems strange
that there is
an article
of clothing known
world wide
that represents
violence against
women.
the sleeveless men's
t-shirt, that's
never tucked
in, with a tear
or two perhaps
and a stain of ketchup
or mustard on
the front.
the wife beater.
why not a whole
line of criminal
clothing.
the bank robber's
high laced boots,
the adulteress mini
skirt, black and tight.
the indecent exposure
trench coat, with
a Velcro front.
maybe a jay walker's
jumpsuit in safety
colors of red or
orange. there could
be a whole line
of clothing specifically
for crime in a dark
corner of the basement
store.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

the yellow light

rain
against
the window.
a small light
lays
a yellow
band
across
the bed,
the book in
your hand.
how the words
make you
sleepy, but
it's not
the author's
fault, your
mind is on
other things,
other stories
yet to be
written.

the chocolate bar

I can't believe
you are eating chocolate
and didn't offer
me any, she says
to you, throwing a
shoe in your direction.
I thought you were
trying to lose
weight you tell
her, throwing
the shoe back.
are you saying that
I'm fat, that I need
to lose weight?
no, I'm just quoting
what you said the
other day after
you got on the scale.
just one bite, she says.
please. so you
throw her a chunk
of your deep dark
chocolate candy
bar with almonds
which she catches in
her mouth like seal
at the zoo. that's my
last piece ever, she
says. as god is my
witness. which makes
you laugh and take
out the second bar.

the sunrise home for seniors

the fish
in the bowl
don't
know or
care
to know
what goes
on beyond
the glass
anymore.
this water
and greenery
below is
enough
it seems
for this simple
life,
a sprinkle
or two of
food each day
being welcome,
the sunlight
from the window.
your face leaning
in to say
hello, to tap
the glass
and smile
before you go.

ducks crossing route 66

as you drive
down route 66
at 70 miles per
hour, your exit
looms ahead, so
you get into
the right lane,
using your blinker,
and come to a line
of stop and go
traffic advancing
slowly off the road.
the left of you though
is three lanes of
speeding traffic,
rolling fast,
then you see the ducks.
a mother duck,
and six small
brown ducklings
to your right, coming
up through
the grass from
under the guard rail
where a small
pond sits. you move
past them as they step
into the road.
you are sick to see
this, but glad that
you won't see what
happens next.
you'd like to think
that there is some
moral to this story,
like
don't trust your parents,
but there isn't.
it's just nature
doing what nature does.
living, then dying.

boxes

you get a job
folding
boxes. to prove
your worth
you fold three
hundred and seventy
nine boxes
in one day.
your hands bleed,
your shoulders
sag, but your
boss is pleased
with your work.
he slaps you
on the back and
tells you what
a fine job
you've done.
by the end
of two weeks
you have slowed
down, your body
aches, your hands
have calloused
where once they
bled. you have
never hit that
number again.
your boss calls you
in to the office
and tells you
that you need to
improve your output,
you need
to do more, if
you expect to keep
your job.
you quit and go
to another box
making company.
on the first day
you fold three
boxes. they aren't
pleased, but you
tell them you can
do better.

the orange

down to one
orange
you take a knife
and slice it into
quarters.
you place
it on a plate,
bring a napkin
and go
sit by the window.
slowly you
take a piece of orange
to your mouth
and bite in.
the juices
run off your lips
down
your chin.
how wrong you were
about this piece
of fruit,
thinking it was
bitter, or sour,
like the others,
you had no idea
of the sweetness
that was waiting
to begin.

say what?

she had lots
of boyfriends
before you met
her, so you sort
of excused her
when she
sometimes
called you by
the wrong name.
this wasn't a happily
ever after
relationship
to begin with.
frank,
frank hand me
my shoes,
or jimmy, jimmy,
I love you, can
you lend me some
money. once
after a lusty session
of making love
she called you
Jennifer which
made you turn
the light on
and say what?

sinking boat

you see a boat
sinking
out in the bay,
people are
waving towards
shore
with both hands.
they are far away.
you wave back.
how happy
they seem, yelling
something you
can't make out
how cold the water
must be
this early in june.
what nice people
there are on
the water these
days you think
as you walk along
the beach.

the basics

you don't ask for
much.
the basics
will keep you
happy,
shelter, food,
work.
running water,
electricity
and such.
the same going
for love.
no need for constant
attention.
just affection,
a kiss
now and then,
conversation,
trust.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

road kill

how the vultures
wait
with patience
learned
through centuries
of waiting
for life
to die
by the side
of the road.
cloaked
in long black
coats,
sharp beaked
and wary.
slow to the feast,
cautious
on yellow claws,
there is no
wisdom, no
judgment, they are
just another
part of what
a dying world
needs.

in the middle

mice
in the cellar
squirrels
in the attic
and me and you
living
some sort of life
in the middle.
such noise we
all make
going about our
days, our nights.

wrinkled sheets

some days your
life
is an unmade
bed with
wrinkled sheets,
the covers
thrown
over the edge.
pillows on
the floor,
a shoe, a book,
scattered
slips of papers
of the notes
you took
with each new
dream.
somehow there
you were asleep
through it
all.

the great outdoors

i want to go camping
she tells you
as you walk along
the trail behind your
house, carefully
avoiding snakes
and droppings from
animals you've never
seen. camping? you
say, with an air
of surprise. why?
i love nature, she
says. the outdoors.
the smell of woods.
but we're in the woods,
you tell her.
look at all these
trees. no we're not.
we're behind your
house and i can see
a 7-11 right between
those houses. i want
to be in the mountains,
in the forest.
we can build a fire,
sleep in a pup tent.
roast marshmallows.
what do you think?
i don't know you tell
her, picking up
a stick and knocking
an empty beer can
towards the creek
that ambles slowly
beside the trail
what about our carbon
footprints? will
there we wi fi?
it'll be fun, don't
worry, i'll start
planning it.

darlene

I need to take
this call
she tells you
on the phone.
can you hold on,
or I can
call you back in
a few days.
maybe Monday
after eight, if
that isn't too late.
but, you say,
before you hear
the click
of the phone
closing your
one minute
conversation.
you write down
Monday at eight.
next to Tuesday
at seven,
sunday at
nine a.m.,
the third Thursday
of july,
at one, Darlene.

best seller

you pick up
where you left off.
having
dog eared the page
with a lick
of thumb
and finger.
you read the next
sentence,
then the next.
you can't pronounce
one name
in the book.
you stare at the cover.
a dragon tattoo.
you look at the last
page
and see what it
has to say.
how does this thing
end?
then you look
at the number of
pages left
to go. you read
all the blurbs in
the front saying how
great the book is.
you sigh,
begin to read
again, then stop.
you throw the book
across
the room
aiming for a bag
of trash that needs
to go out
at the crack of
dawn. the book
lands perfectly
in the opening,
settling it for good.

not funny

no one
is funny anymore.
they are too
tired
to see
the folly of
it all.
wrapped in
the life they
have created.
the world
has gone grey.
each day
slow dying,
waiting for
something, for
anything to
change
for the better.
how can you
laugh at that?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

at thirteen

you have a picture
of your father
at the age of thirteen
holding
a small calf
at his side
leaning into
the camera, somewhere
in nova scotia.
his hair
falls down in front
of his eyes,
like yours did.
his hands are
thick with work.
the farm
behind him, his dog
nero,
at his feet.
so old, so young
all
in one shot.
his life still before
him, the seas
not set upon,
quite yet.

the empty vase

you wonder
where people go.
how the tangled
lines
that crossed your
lives
get snipped
and each goes
a separate way,
your time being
up with each
other. the set
of keys
returned, the shoes
left
under a bed,
the hat
on the hook,
an empty vase
where flowers
one bloomed.

the corner bookstore

there was an old
bookstore
on the corner. if
you sneezed,
you walked past
it, unnoticed.
in the window
seat
was a cat
sleeping
below the tilted
red sign
saying
open.
a bell jingled
when
the creaky
door swung in
and you could
smell
the books,
the hard pages
and covers
not wet, but
heavy with age.
books on steel
mills
and sewing.
great birds
of south America.
mark
twain and Sylvia
plath
leaning on one
another for support.
there was no order
or disguise at order,
just books,
in stacks, on shelves,
in open boxes
waiting for a hand
to get them
out.
somewhere in the fog
of all of it
was a man sitting
near a table
eating a sandwich
sipping
tea, reading,
pointing to where
a new edition
of salinger might be.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

the short life


how quickly
the bee
settles
on your arm
coated
with a sheen
of summer
sweat,
then stings.
what tempers
they have,
impatient,
these bees,
so quick
to leave a
mark, then
die.

the open door


in a puddle
of sun
the old dog
circles
three times
then lies
in a lazy
ball
against
the warm rug,
his sigh
is your sigh
as he slips
into sleep.

sex

you confess
to your therapist,
Sheila,
that you think too much
about women
and sex.
you are obsessed
with legs
and arms, curves
and flashing eyes.
it's a curse
you say, since
childhood.
it gets worse not
less as the years
go by. you can see
yourself at ninety,
you tell her,
in the park, staring
madly at the women
going by in their
bright summer
dresses.
she says nothing,
she says hmmm. then
something like.
men. you wait,
continuing to stare
at the polished
black high heel
that she dangles
slightly off the tip
of her long
stockinged foot.
you wait for a response,
as she taps a pen
against her pad,
but she has
none. the clock ticks
on. you want to
avert your eyes,
but can't.

child goes uneaten

the headline
read
child falls
into the lion's
den, but goes uneaten.
and you wonder
what kept
the lion
from devouring
the child
like a zebra
or gazelle
gone astray.
was it the mother
on the other
side
screaming,
was it the sun
that day
looming
through the
dappled trees
of the fake
forest.
was it a lack
of hunger, the prey
too easy,
too small.
had the crown of
the lion
slipped, had he
lost interest
in a world
not his.

freshly baked

she sends you a photo
of a pie,
freshly baked,
still hot.
you can almost see
the steam and feel
the heat rising
off the crust
as it cools
on the short
stretch of counter
beside
the sink.
your mouth waters,
puckers
at the thought
of a blend of
berries both
sweet and tart.
with your hand
you want to dip into
the pie, break
through the crumbly
crust
and carefully taste
what she has
made, and is.

the red hat

you remember her red
hat.
how it stood out
in the crowded
room.
a scarlet light
upon her head.
her face below
the hat,
a secondary
object of desire,
the feather
that bent at an
angle, stuck
hard in the top.
the only woman
in the room with
a hat,
the red hat, saying
loudly,
pick me, I'm
the one.



the operation

under the suns
of unnatural light,
how easily
it all goes, as
the patient succumbs
to not sleep,
but something
akin to sleep,
the mask secured,
the body
wired and tubed,
tight.
the heart and mind
under the draped
white flag
of surrender,
and the surgeon
with his knife
and knowledge entering
the cave
of wonder, hoping
to find, or not
find,
what it is
that is trying to
quiet this life.

Monday, June 9, 2014

one shoe

how strange
it is to see one
shoe lying
in the street.
where is the leg,
the foot that fit
the high heel
or flip flop
that is
being run over
by car after car.
who throws
a shoe out the window,
or walks
across the road
to free themselves
of one shoe,
then hops away,
to leave.

moe

sometimes
you waited for your
dog to finally
speak, not bark.
he seemed so human
at times.
petulant or stubborn.
always at the
t.v. barking,
thrilled by the chase,
the animals
that filled
the screen. how strange
the little beast
was and troubled
by his limitations.
small legs,
long body. always
having to be lifted
to see
what there was
to snarl at, or
eat. untrainable,
you were so much
alike.

one door closes

it's not always
another door that opens
when one
closes,
sometimes
it's a broken
window
in the attic,
a cellar
door with a rusted
lock fallen off.
it might be a tunnel
that someone
dug to get out.
the next way
in is not always easy,
nor do you know
what lies
inside, but go in
you do, the choices
being so few.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

the long slow day

the trees
are painted a
thousand
shades
of green,
the sky is
a fixed
orb of blue
over the length
of you
asleep
how long
this day seems.
quiet
with no where
imminent
to be.

let it cool

at seven
she rises to bake
a pie
then put it
on the sill
to cool.
impatient,
you can hardly
wait to
dig in with
a fork, or
spoon.
just a taste
you say,
but no she says,
later,
for now we
have other things
to do.

what's true

sometimes people
will tell you,
don't go into that
room, don't
even turn the knob.
that area is
off limits, but
that's the only
room now that
you want to see.
it may show more
about the person
than all the other
clean and polished
rooms combined.
it's what's in
that room, in that
closet, under
that bed, hidden
safely away that
is the truth.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

loving hands

in stride,
you gallop through
another year
through
all kinds of
weather,
with different
jockeys steering
you towards some
imaginary
finish line.
it's no longer
about winning,
the garland
of roses,
the trophy or
the accolades.
no, now it's more
about the oats
in the barn
that await you.
the hot sudsy
bath with a pair
of loving
hands
washing gently
behind your ears.

talents

you have no
musical talent whatsoever.
you can tap
your feet and hands,
perhaps ring
a cow bell
on cue, but that's
about it.
what someone does
with a violin,
or cello, or set
of drums seems like
magic. impossible
to think in that way,
moving your fingers,
forming notes
that are pleasurable
to your ears.
but you have other
talents and one day
you'll find out
what they are.

relationship guru

people often
come to you for advice
on relationships
because you are so
good at them,
having a few dozen
in the last ten years.
they admire you
for your persistence,
sometimes lasting
weeks at a time
with the same love
interest. how do
you do it, they say.
what's your secret?
you are embarrassed
by such questions,
shrugging self
consciously and saying
I don't know. it's
just a talent I guess.
something you are
born with, but enough
about me, tell me
your problem and perhaps
I can help you too.

running free

a dog,
off the leash,
running free
seems happy.
despite the tag
jingling
around his neck
there seems
to be no owner
nearby.
but through
the field
he goes. rambling
with a happy
grin towards
what, he doesn't
know. he pays
no mind to the dark
trees ahead,
for now
this is good.

taffy

sometimes
the world pulls
you like taffy
in all directions.
pieces fall off
that don't grow
back. your arms
are twisted
by love and loss,
your legs bent
towards a direction
you don't
want to go.
you can hardly
move sometimes,
being tugged on
by the life
you've invented
and now live.


your art

you love to paint,
to render
a landscape on a blank
canvas.
your easel set
up in the light.
your palette
dotted with reds
and blue,
a heavy tube
of lithium white.
you wait for
inspiration, staring
out the window
at the fullness
of trees, how
easy it is for them.
but you have no
talent,
your art is laughable
so when you finish,
you let them
dry
and hide the
canvasses behind
a door in
the basement.
this is not what
you were meant
to do, but that
doesn't stop you
from doing another.

the yellow flag

she gives
you the yellow
flag
as you come around
the curve
of her.
lips wet,
eyes flashing
brown.
slow down,
her
language
says as her
body brakes
against you.
slow down,
it's not time
to hit the gas
quite yet.

Friday, June 6, 2014

modern love

I don't want
to get married, you tell
her. we've both
done that already.
why have a legal
contract for an
emotion, right?
I just want to be
in love with you
and go out on
the weekends.
maybe in the middle
of the week,
have dinner,
if our schedules
permit.
we don't need to
live together,
but maybe we can
spend the night
once in awhile as
long as we go home
by noon the next day.
we are both
very busy with our
lives, and neither
one of us wants
to get in the other
person's way.
if you want we
can keep a few bathroom
items at each
other's houses,
but not a lot of
clothes, or things,
because what if
it doesn't work out,
it's so awkward
collecting all that
stuff when it ends.
so, anyway. what do
you think, should
we give it a shot?

you never know

people give
you their business
cards all day long.
here, take my card,
they say happily,
sometimes pulling
one from a special
shiny card case.
plumbers, lawyers,
doctors,
landscapers, cup
cake makers
and magicians.
everyone has a card
with a snazzy
little saying
on the front
telling you what
they do.
you got a card
from an old man
the other day
that had only his name
on it. this is
your favorite
card of all.
the others
have cell phone
numbers, home phone,
fax numbers,
e mail addresses,
mailing addresses
and their names
in colored inks,
and pretty scroll.
they fill up your
wallet, your pockets
and the console
of your car.
by the end of
the month you have
forgotten
every single one
of them and where
you met them,
as you're sure
that they have
forgotten you.
but you keep them
anyway. you never know.

the power of prayer

you have a few
friends that when they
need some sort of
supernatural
or spiritual assistance,
they'll ask you
to pray for them,
they always say
that they don't
believe in God, but
since you do, maybe
you could help out
a little. they seem
desperate so
you take their requests
and send up a
sincere prayer
for whatever it is
they need, but always
explaining that
God is not Santa
Claus or a wishing
well that you toss
a coin into.
whatever they say,
just help me out here,
would you.
sometimes the prayers
are answered yes,
and other times
no. you seem to get
the same results
that they do, which
confuses you to
no end.

the business

the landlord
does not want to
know about
the peeling paint,
or the bugs,
the lack of
hot water, or
the way the light
in the hallway
flickers when
you come down
the stairs.
he doesn't care.
he just wants
the check on time,
or your bed will
be on the curb.
it's business, he
says. just business,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

the candle

the candle
of her
love
has melted.
the puddle
of who she was
is hard
on the plate.
done
the wick burned
free.
there is
no light left
in her room
for you.
the candle
of her love
has melted.
it's time for
you to leave.

the circle

you had to learn
how
to walk, at
some point,
rising
from your slow
crawl.
lifting your
heavy
head to see
where you were
going.
how your hands
felt the edges
of tables
and walls,
finding
your balance
as you moved
from room to
room.
careful on your
new legs.
they took you
many places,
then back
to where you
started,
now careful on
your old legs.

the yellow kite


the yellow
kite
high in the air,
held by a
string
in a small
boy's fist,
clenching
at
the pull
of wind.
he doesn't
know it yet,
but this will
be the way
it will
always be,
letting go
and holding
on.

no petunias

I need some help writing
my profile that I'm posting
on get a date dot com,
your friend Jennifer
tells you over the phone.
she's already had at least
two glasses of wine.
tell me how this sounds, she
says. I am fun and smart.
I like to read, and stay fit
by walking or riding my bike.
I have two cats and one dog.
my two kids are no longer
living with me, so I am free
as a bird, but would like
to build a new nest with
someone special. oh, and I
like baseball and football.
also I love to go camping
and fishing. i love to snuggle
in front of a fireplace,
and sleep in late on
sunday mornings, especially
with someone special.
what do you think she says?
that's not too suggestive,
is it? I have two pictures
on there too, my
work photo, which is airbrushed
so that I look perfect
and a bikini photo from
when I went to the beach
last summer. I'm very tanned
and wet coming out of
the ocean. i also have a
picture of the petunias
in my back yard.
soooo, she says?
well. for one thing, men
don't read profiles,
you tell her. men skip
right past all of those
words. men look at three things.
age, weight, location,
then they look at the photos.
so, I could say that I won
the nobel prize, or that
I'm a brain surgeon saving lives
everyday and men won't care.
yup, you tell her.
bikini pic trumps all.
men don't care if you're
working at an I hop
flipping pancakes and
living in a double wide
if you still look hot
in a bikini.
how do you know all of this,
she says, gulping down
her wine. just hearsay, you
tell her, stuff I've heard
at the coffee shop. oh, and
one more thing.
men don't care about
the petunias in your back yard.
get rid of that picture.

jumping out of bed

do you ever have a day
you ask your friend betty,
that when you wake
up, you leap out of
bed like a superhero,
and you can't wait
for the new day to begin,
taking on all challenges?
you just feel really
good about everything
and want to put on your
cape and go flying about.
no, she says, not
looking up from filing
her nails. never.
I've never felt like
that once in my life.
what about after your
spin class? nope.
after my spin class
and I've had something
to eat and a hot shower
I want to relax
and have a glass of
wine. I don't want
any challenges at that
point. I want to
ignore challenges, plus
I don't own a cape.
do you?

bad day

when you have
a bad
day, and there is
no one
at home to yell
at, not even
a dog, you
sit in a chair
and like a balloon
untie
the knot
that is your
head. you slowly
let the air
out.
then it's all
good again.
well, sort of,
tomorrow is just
eight hours
away.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

another life

it's interesting
how the conversation
turns, as you
talk about the weather
and the world at
large, casually
shooting the breeze,
when someone
says something like
they believe they
were reincarnated
from a former life,
that they may have
been either an
Egyptian king
or queen. this is when
you stop talking
and stare out
towards the trees
waiting for something
to say that won't
offend your new found
royal majesty.



we have limits

the teller
at the bank is
very nice
to you.
every time you
pull up
to make a deposit
or to take money
out you feel
bad for having
yelled him
a few years ago
on a hot Friday
night.
so unlike
you. but you
did. his English
being poor
the turban
on his head,
asking for two
id's to come
around through
the front door.
you can't take
your money out
at the window,
he said. you're
asking for too much.
we have limits,
he said over the garbled
speaker, we
have limits.
but all is well
now with the both
of you.
he smiles, you
smile. the world
being such a
happy place.

off the chain

the time
it must have taken
to make
that dog sit,
and heel,
roll over and beg.
the treats
involved,
the patience
of the owner
repeating time
and time again
his commands
to fetch, to stop
barking, to
roll over
and play dead.
you've been that
dog before,
but now you
are off the chain,
over the fence,
running free
through the fields,
obedient to no
one anymore.

your puddles


I remember
the wet floor
where your
footsteps hit
as you came from
the shower
to the door,
down the steps
to the kitchen,
leaving small
puddles
of your narrow
foot, size four.
it's fine, in
fact, feel free
to return
and leave some
more.

audrey


in all years
you've known her
you've never seen
her eat anything
but lettuce, or
cheese, or both
together.
it's wine or
water, hardly
a crumb of bread
touches her lips,
desserts are a
foreign land,
but it's working
as she strolls
like a feather
on the wind in
her coco chanel
suit, down
the boulevard.
Audrey Hepburn
has nothing on
this girl.


your people

there are some
people
you can linger with,
talking
about something,
or nothing
for hours on
end. the sun
goes down, but you
don't mind, or
even notice.
you never feel
the urge to leave,
to make an
excuse to get up
and go.
these are your
people
and hopefully you
are theirs.

the cherry sno-cone

as you watch
the mean kid
stealing balloons
out of other kid's
hands, then
rising high into
the sky, screaming,
as he drops
his cherry sno-cone.
you too think about
the idea of
taking too much
on. then you
go and get your
own cherry sno-cone.

betrayed

betrayed,
she turns the bottle
towards
the glass
and pours.
there are no tears,
no notes
to be written,
no big talks
to be had,
she's traveled
this road before.
she's done,
so sits there
staring out
the window
sipping on her
drink.
waiting for
courage to come.

Monday, June 2, 2014

another night

lying
on her side
at night,
with a book
hopelessly
open to a twice
read page,
facing the window.
her hip as pale
as snow.
her reflection
in the glass.
her dark eyes
full of tears
that have no
no where
else to go.
so she stays
another night
another week,
another year.
you feel
her inching
away, fading, soon
to disappear.

your play

this story
that you are in,
playing
the main character,
the good
and evil twin.
never goes in
the direction
that you think
it's headed in.
you are
the protagonist
and hero,
the villain,
and the soldier
without a line.
the mute boy
on the curb.
the stranger in
a diner at
4 a.m. . you are
the victim,
and survivor.
all of this
is you,
on stage, as
the curtain
each day rises.

rice and carrots

you don't know what
to eat anymore.
scared by what's
on the news,
what you've read
about food.
there used to be a
list of ten things
you never left the
grocery store without.
red meat, milk,
potato chips,
ice cream, cake,
lettuce and bread.
chicken, perhaps,
for the grill
and wine. lately
though you've
narrowed it down
to three. although
they vary from
time to time,
depending on where
the buckle is
around your waist
line. but you're
trying, you're
really trying
with the rice
and carrots.

kissing skills

she once told you,
if you kiss me,
just kiss me once,
you'll never want
to leave me or kiss
another woman.
bold words that
needed to be tested.
and she was right
about the kiss,
it was pretty good.
amazing, in fact.
perhaps if you had
had the same set
of kissing skills
she'd still be around,
but maybe not,
there's always a
new contender
waiting to be found.

foot tapping music

you are not a big
fan of country music,
but sometimes you land
on that station
and begin to listen
to the lyrics.
for the most part
it's all very simple
and clear. the melody
is fine. it's a story
that takes you somewhere.
there might be a dog
involved or a big
truck. a girl with
long hair and blue
eyes. someone is in
love, or out of love,
or just standing on
a river bank fishing,
spending time,
remembering days
gone past.
you try to guess how
they are going to
rhyme phrases like,
my daddy once told me,
or I can't win
for losing. you're
sure it's harder than
it looks as you change
the channel
searching for another
song.

leaving her mark


in a moment of
sweaty passion
she bites you
so hard on the neck
that it leaves
a red mark.
it's a suction
splotch the size
of her mouth.
it throbs purple.
you scream and run
to the mirror,
what is wrong with
you, you yell,
have you lost your mind?
are you some kind
of vampire?
this thing will
be on my neck for
a week, at least.
I know, she says.
isn't that a shame.
see you then.

do me a favor

you don't like
to bother
people with
little things. let
them know
your problems,
at least not
the full scope
of them.
you don't like
to borrow
anything.
not money,
not a socket
wrench, not a cup
of sugar
from your neighbor
next door.
you never asked
your parents
for a dime,
or even advice.
you sort of carved
your way through
alone
to where you are,
and even now
you cringe when you
hear the phrase,
can you do me
a really big favor.

the last dance

you remember
a moment
in a smoke
filled room,
shoes sole deep
in spilled
drinks
and ashes.
the music
of sam and dave,
or something
you knew
every word
to, rosalita
by bruce,
or I don't
want to go home,
by the Asbury
Jukes. all
played loudly,
the clock
ticking down,
last call,
a last
chance
at romance,
gathering
the nerve to ask
the girl
across the room
you've been madly
in love with
for the last three
hours for a last
dance.
and if she said
yes. it was very
close to being
in heaven,
being forever
young.

black cherries

there was a cherry
tree
on the corner
of Winthrop
street
and Maury lane
and when
full and ripe,
the owners
gone for the weekend,
we'd raid
it in the middle
of the night
by moonlight.
scrambling
up the thick
branches
eating cherries
by hand
until we were
sick of cherries,
our fingers
red, our t-shirts
soaked with
juice. our small
bellies full.
it was no surprise
when it was
cut down.
everyone had had
enough of a
good thing.

the rising tide

the rising
tide is
because the world
is getting
hot.
hotter with
each day.
each breath
of machinery
filling the air.
how the ice
breaks, the floes
disperse.
how the banks
are filled
with new water,
by inches
and feet each
year.
what is there
to do.
you haven't even
had your
first cup
of coffee yet
so you'll think
more about it
later.

the summer dress

you make a list
of the things
you have
to do today.
it's a long list
of chores you've
ignored, things
you need to get done.
important things.
but then you
come over in your
summer dress
with something on
your mind, so
you fold the list
up for when you
have more time
than this.

the note

the note
you left, wasn't
quite clear.
something about
I won't be
back.
does that mean
for dinner,
or does it
mean for every
dinner until
the end of time.
I wish you'd
communicate
more clearly
how you feel,
although writing
it in bold
capital letters,
I kind of get
a clue as to
what really is
the deal.

loss for words

the right
word isn't always
at the tip
of your tongue
waiting to
reveal itself.
sometimes it's
hidden deep
within the recesses
of your cerebral
cortex, asleep.
buried with
other words
you've learned
and have now
forgotten. you
imagine the day
when you will
forget where you
live and go back
to a place
that your key
no longer fits.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

carlos

what are you doing,
you ask,
as you call her on
the phone to say
goodnight
and sweet dreams.
I'm in the middle
of a mud bath,
she says. I'm totally
naked and covered
in a beauty cream
lying on a table.
carlos is smoothing it out
with a spatula.
who the hell is
carlos, you say,
sitting up straight.
my new neighbor. he
knocked on my door
asking if I had
any hot peppers
he could borrow.
my skin feels so
luxurious and soft.
we've been drinking too.
he makes a mean
margarita. quite
a talented man.
I hate him, you say.
maybe I should come
over. oh my, she
says, you sound
jealous. no, no,
I'm not jealous,
just concerned for your
safety. oh, don't
worry, but hey, I
have to go, it's
massage time
and carlos wants me
to put the phone down,
bye honey bun.