Thursday, July 31, 2014

a little white pill

is anyone
not
on a pill.
head
in the clouds.
on a island
of their
own
called
almost
happy. raise
your hand,
if you can.
who isn't taking
a tiny
white dot
of chemical
chalk
prescribed
for three
times a day
after eating?
no driving
of farm
machinery
or climbing
onto rooftops,
or drinking
a gin and tonic.
it's bliss
as your life
slides seamlessly
away with
no music made,
no books written,
no art
coming from your
limp hand.

your concierge

sometimes
the spigot
of your faith
runs dry,
or just a drop
or two
drains out
despite how
hard you
turn the handle
in prayer.
you want a loved
one to be
healed,
or for patience
to arrive
or for your keys
to be found.
you even once
prayed for
traffic to dissolve
before your
eyes.
you have your
God on a leash,
asking
for him to sit
and heal.
he is your concierge
in the sky.

sweet tea

her hand
touches mine
as she pours
the tea
into delicate
cups.
sugar and cream?
yes, I tell her
and ask, toast?
sure, she answers,
blueberry
jam? why yes,
please.
and this is
how early love
goes.
no quarrel
with the tea.

the complaint booth

you get a job
at the complaint
department.
taking on
the grumpy,
the tired, the poor
and weary,
the disenfranchised,
the sore losers.
angry drivers,
bitter travelers.
they all have
something to say.
so you listen
and listen,
sometimes you give
them a dollar
or a piece of
chocolate
and tell them to
go away. others
you smile at, and
tell them a joke
about the pope,
a nun and
a fishing boat.
it's a long day,
but you aren't
complaining.
seeing how miserable
so many people
are makes your
life seem swell.

pancakes

the stack of pancakes
makes your
eyes widen.
golden soft pages
of fried batter.
the skinny waitress,
sunburned
and blonde, wobbles
as she carries
the heavy plate
to your table,
batting her blue
eyes and smiling.
there is a clunk when
the dish is set down.
they have been
buttered before
they arrive.
you pour a stream
of amber
syrup on the top.
whipped cream, she
asks, pulling out a can
from her deep
apron pocket.
you shake your head.
it's more than you
need, more than you
can eat, but
the the first soft
bite that lingers
in your mouth makes
you think, maybe,
you can do it, you
think about
the starving people
in india that your
mother seemed to
know so much about
despite only reading
photoplay magazine
for her weekly news.
you dig in. the day is
long. you're on vacation.

go on

you are the chained
dog
barking,
the lion pacing
behind
the bars,
you are the fish
at the end
of a silver
hook,
the bird with
a clipped wing
flying
in circles,
you are the sky
full
of rain,
the earth cracked
wide
and open.
you are the wound
that won't
heal,
the fever that
won't cool.
you are the lover
unquenched,
the son,
unloved.
the moon, the stars,
everything
below
and above, all
of which too
go on about their day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

children on the shore

with strawed drinks
at their pursed
lips
the mothers,
from chairs sunk
deep into the sand,
umbrella made
shade holding them
in place, like
mushrooms
planted,
bark instructions
to the children
of what to do, what
not to do
as they run
towards the open
arms of crashing
waves. throwing
themselves at
the perilous
world of an ocean
not yet stepped
into. already
knowing that
that world may be
better than the one
that sits behind them.

the bones

I have a bone
to pick
with you, she says.
but before
she begins.
you imagine
a plate of fish,
it's smooth
feather like
flesh
removed.
it's open mouth,
wordless
without
the sea.
it's button
eyes flattened
still
reflecting
you now.
and the bones, white
slender
sticks
that held
it all together.
what bones, you
say, finally.
what bone
is there to pick.

into the cold

how timid
are the first steps
into
chilled water.
each wave
splashing higher
onto the sun
baked
skin.
waiting for that
moment to give
up and just
dive in.
feeling the rough
sand,
the soft roll
of rocks
beneath your
feet. seeing the silver
crests, lapping,
the greens
all changing
and shifting below
the clouds.
finding the right
moment
the right height
of wave
and throwing your
arms forward,
head first
into the cold.

the lovers

you see the men
at the bar
without women.
without wives,
ruddy faced
from the beach
and waves,
perhaps eighteen
holes of
golf where no
one wins or
loses, but now
in untucked
shirts
and baggy pants,
bellies
unabashedly
hanging out,
beers in hand.
these men leaning
into one another,
hands over
shoulders,
cheek and against
rough cheek.
each talking more
loudly
than the other,
praising and
chiding
with aged joy.
lovers, more intimate
with one
another than
many true lovers
could ever be.

sand man

you have sand
in your shorts,
in your shoes,
your ears
and hair.
there is sand
in your suitcase,
in the floor
board of your car.
there is sand
in the creases
of your hand.
there is sand
in your eyebrows,
in the corner
of your mouth.
you are an hour
glass spilling
sand out. you
wonder if you left
any of it behind.

look, a dolphin

bored with
dolphins jumping
like black
parenthesis in
the blue sea,
you want a whale
or two
to appear, to
blow some steam,
perhaps a shark
to bare it's
sharpened teeth,
to make
the children scream,
or an octopus
with it's tentacles
holding
a surfer or three
in it's grasp.
where are the giant
squid,
the sting rays
and barracuda.
enough with the dolphins
and their
pretty little
grey snouts
honking like flipper.

the open ear

grief,
like happiness,
is best
shared.
both wanting
to be heard,
to be known
and have others
made aware.
sometimes it's
your turn
to be silent
and lend
the open ear.

what we know

people in love
know everything there
is about love.
they'll tell you
what you need to do
in order to find
love, how to grow
love, how to mend
the love you wound.
they are the wisest
souls in the world
when it comes to love.
and you in turn, can tell
them about the twenty
minute nap, everything
they need to know
about that.

the web

bitter
words fall
like stones
from her mouth.
the past
is in her pocket
weighing
her down.
tomorrow is
a fire to go
through,
sleep is a bed
of nails.
she wants to
shake free
of the web she's
caught in,
but the spiders
in her mind
keeps weaving
more.

beyond reach

the life guard
blows his whistle
and waves
from his chair
for you to come in.
you've gone too
far, you are too
deep, too distant
to be rescued.
you are beyond
saving at this point.
it's up to you
to swim in or
keep going.
the people lying
on the beach stand
up to watch, to
see what you will
do, wanting to
go further in their
own lives, but
also afraid, not
unlike you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

silver fish

you can see
the silver
wave of fish
in quick schools
paddling
their fins
as one.
you almost feel
as if you could
reach down
and hold one
in your hand.
but nothing in
life is so
easy.

the merry go round

when she flies by
on the merry go round.
with the music playing,
riding a white horse
with a silver mane,
waving like a happy child,
all smiles and hair,
the glow of her
spinning by, you
suddenly realize
the nature
of your relationship,
and despite wanting
more, for now,
it's fine.

over packed

with each folded
shirt
and pair of pants
you stuff
into the bag,
how many will
you actually wear
when you arrive.
not many.
but you never know,
your life
is all about
being prepared.
why bring one
pair of shoes,
when three or
four will fit
into the trunk
of your car.
three books, sure,
you'll open
each and every one
of them
and get to page
two before dozing
off in the summer
sun.

the cure

I've got the fever
and you've
got the cure,
is a line from a
rascals song, that
you are now stealing
and putting into
this poem.
put your hand
on my forehead,
take my
temperature,
investigate my
vital signs.
just one dose of
you, should get
me back on
my feet again, or
off, depending
on the cure.

cat on a sill

she sits,
this cat, on
a new
sill.
having moved
again,
then again.
but adjusting
to each
new window,
each new corner,
or vent
or door
leading where?
it's all
about finding
the sun.
finding
a peaceful place
to rest
your busy
heart.

in the sand

you sink into
the chair
that you've aligned
on the shore
facing the roll of
a soft blue
ocean. your feet
touching each
new wave
of august water,
warm and perfect
as any wave
can be. it's too
short of a visit.
too long between
coming and going.
but you're here
and the sun feels
good upon your
face. how sweet
it would be to
your chair and you
beside me.

the fling

like a bottle
of champagne,
things can be
bubbly and
sparkly at first,
letting the cold
wet effervescence
of her kiss
linger on your
lips,
but after a while
the open
bottle grows
warm, goes
stale, losing its
pop and fizz,
you no longer
want to drink
from the flute
of who she is.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

your new girlfriend

you like that new
car smell.
those tires
thick with tread
with no mileage
to speak of.
the gleam
and shine of
the bumpers, how
those headlights
glow. you love
the leather
seats, all plush
and warm
ready for
you to sit in.
so many new buttons
asking to be pushed.
how smooth it
rides. the windshield
clean, no squeaks
or rattles. full
of fuel and oil.
road ready, wanting
to be loved.

sleep injury

somehow in the middle
of the night
while sleeping
you turn your ankle.
you get up and limp
across the room
to look out the window.
what the hell,
you think,
staring at your swollen
foot. tapping
it gingerly
against the carpet.
when did this happen.
you try to remember
what you were dreaming
about. if you were
running away
from anyone, or
anything. wild
boars, an ex wife,
the tax man, or a cop
with spinning red
lights. but nothing
comes to mind.
you pop in a few
aspirins and ice it
down, determined now
to be more careful
when you sleep.

tequila

she likes tequila.
she says
things like
tequila makes
my clothes come
off. it makes
me crazy.
which sounds
like fun
at the beginning
of the night.
but at three
in the morning
when she's riding
on the hood
of your car
and singing
cowboy songs,
you no longer
have an interest
in continuing
this relationship,
such as it is.

the mountain


despite pointing
out
their tragic flaws,
you can't change
people,
they can't change you.
it would be
easier to move
that mountain
that lies
in distance.
it took a millennium
to get
there,
and there is nothing
anyone can
do but wish it
well
and hope, as you
have forgiven them,
that they forgive
you too.

silt and sediment

within the layers
of silt and sediment,
the sentiment
and guilt
of your
life
there are bones,
pieces of
you left behind,
evidence
of the journey
you have been
on.
photographs
and books,
dog eared
from where you
stopped. old
coats from
winters past.
those boots
in the corner.
a drawer full
of glasses,
some yours,
some left behind.
dead phones.
all clues
for someone
else to sort
through
and determine
what, if anything,
it was all about.

Friday, July 25, 2014

the lemon day

the whole world
seems to be
sucking
on a lemon
some days.
spitting
the seeds at
one another.
throwing the hard
yellow rinds
at each other's
heads.
it's usually
Monday.
Fridays are for
sweet black
cherries.
but there are
still
those seeds
to contend with.


peanut brittle

on those rare
occasions
when you have peanut
brittle
you don't like
to share it
with anyone.
you like to eat
it all yourself.
snapping it off
in chunks, wiping
the sticky
crumbs off your shirt
and chin. but
most people,
women especially,
don't want peanuts
between their
teeth, or have
peanut breath.
nobody wants to kiss
someone with
peanut brittle
breath. but if
you both eat some,
well, there
you go, here, have
a bite.

short declarative sentences

there is always
more
to the story,
more detail, more
to the plot,
more to the other characters
that drift
in an out
of scenes, but
sometimes a thin,
clean, well
written story,
ala Hemmingway
is enough.
it was cold out.
the light
was harsh. I loved
her more
than fishing.
stuff like that,
he'd say.
and you got it.
you understood, there
was no need to go
back and scratch your
head trying to figure
out what was going
on, or looking up
names to find out how
to pronounce them.
he was fond of her.
she was not fond of
him, just yet.
tomorrow would come.
today would go.

a cup of crazy

we have a long
drive tomorrow
the woman tells you
as she stops her story
about the most recent
visit to her doctor.
you welcome the change
of topics, no longer
wanting to hear
about her bunions,
ulcers, and rashes.
where are you going,
you ask her quickly
before she rolls up
her purple pant leg
to show you a vein.
me and Charles, my
husband, he's in the
other room watching
another show about
world war two, but
we are going to west
Virginia. oh, how nice
you say. backing slowly
to the door. relatives?
friends up there?
oh no. we're going up
to visit the insane
asylum, it's been shut
down for years, but
you can take a tour
through the building.
they show you where
the lobotomies took
place and the electro
shock treatments.
sometimes they put the crazies
into a tub of ice water.
you can even get in them.
can you imagine that?
when you stand in the cells
and spread your arms,
you can almost touch
each wall. sounds like
fun, you say. do they
have any souvenirs, stuff
you can buy in the gift
store. yeah, yeah, she
says. they have some old
straight jackets,
and things like that,
manacles, and guard
hats, or batons.
we bought two coffee
cups last year that have
a picture of the building
and name under it.
they're in the kitchen if
you want me to go get
them, won't take just
a second. oh, no please.
I should be going.
have a great trip tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

a real poem tomorrow

tomorrow you will
write a real poem.
something with substance,
maybe love, in
passing,
will be mentioned,
most certainly
old age and death.
traditional themes.
perhaps some darker
topics will be
touched on as well.
it will not be a fun
poem. no one will
laugh, instead they
will shake their
heads and say, poor
fellow, what he must
be going through.
but that's for
tomorrow. you'll
sleep on it and see.

career change

your career
as an astronaut
did not take off.
being afraid
of heights
and easily made
dizzy did not
bode well for you
going into space,
or just circling
the earth.
you don't enjoy
cramped quarters
either, not
to mention
the bad food,
and sleeping while
sitting up.
you can barely
stand to drive
to the beach, let
alone fly
to the moon, plus
you'd miss her
kisses,
and bags of homemade
cookies,
that's the big reason
why you
aren't an astronaut.

what i learned today


if your cell
phone
falls
into a puddle,
or you drop it
by accident
into the sink
or toilet,
or spill a glass
of beer
onto it's
gleaming case,
no worries.
turn it off,
remove the back,
dry it off
then set it all
in a plastic
bag full of white
rice.
wait two days.
you're back in
business.

sticky and loud

you don't like
children.
sticky and loud.
running
here and there,
like bees
from a hive
struck with a bat.
they have no
manners,
no clue. they
just need and want.
they remind you
so much of me
and you.

circus girl

you fall
in love with
the woman who
eats fire
at the circus.
you're afraid
to kiss her.
which makes her
laugh.
I won't hurt
you she says,
but you don't
believe her
and you show
her the scars
from the lion
tamers whip.

at last

you are
most happy
when you
are warm
from a bath,
and ready for
bed.
a book in hand.
one light on
the night
stand
glowing.
the phone
away, the doors
locked.
you can almost
hear the world
sigh,
the work day
over,
approaching
sleep
at last

airborne candy

then there was
the time
you threw
a silver
wrapped
frozen
peppermint
patty
across
the room
and it hit
your wife
in the eye.
it was early
in the summer,
early
in the marriage,
but there
was an early
frost
that year.
a portent
of seasons
to come.

don't tell me anything

your secrets are not
safe with me.
they will spring
from my lips at
any given moment
after I've crossed
my heart and hope
to die swearing
them to eternal safe
keeping. but I can't
help myself.
they are like flames
that I need to
expel, put out,
the heat of them
too much to hold
inside. so be warned,
don't tell me any
more of your deceits
and lies.
the world will know
in short time.

the quiet man

the man talking
to himself
on the street
is wide eyed
and wild.
gesturing with
his hands.
speaking to an
invisible
companion about
politics and
religion,
the world
economy and
how unfair
the government
is. he rants
and raves, full
of venom.
he reminds you
of some friends
that you have.
you too have been
that invisible,
quiet man.

waiting on a train

you find
yourself on the platform
waiting
for a train
with other people.
strangers.
a line
of plump grey
pigeons
sit on the wire,
clucking
gently in the early
morning hours.
it might rain.
the sky
is a flat gun
metal grey.
the rails
gleam in no light.
they come
they go.
you do the same.

paper cut

the paper
cut
is a reminder
of how
fragile
you are.
that little
bubble
of blood
at the tip
of your pink
finger
shows you
that
you are not
going
to live
forever, or
go unscathed.
such a horrible
thought
to think
as you write
checks
at 7 in
the morning,
counting
the money you've
spent
or saved.

shades of green

how much easier
the world would
be if everything
was black
or white. no
shades of grey
to muddle up
the rights
or wrongs,
no reds or blues,
or confusing greens,
nothing in
between.
every one saying
exactly how
they feel,
speaking what
they mean.
how boring too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

the meaning of life

seeking
enlightenment
you climb
a mountain
to find
the wisest
man in the world
sitting
in a cave
overlooking
the world.
you ask him
what is the
meaning of life.
can you give
me a clue,
some direction
to live by.
you see
in his curled
old hand
a small green
tube. it looks
like a tube
of prell
shampoo.
he's
clutching it
tightly.
you say huh,
which makes
him nod
and smile,
he unfolds
his palm and
he points to
three words
on the back
of the tube.
there it is, he
says. it's
all you need to
know.
rinse and repeat.

what i want


while eating
a peanut butter
sandwich one
night in
the kitchen
i start
to think about
the things
i want
in life.
so i make
a list,
writing it all
down on the back
of an envelope.
I want
a butler
and a maid.
I want a
chauffer
and a masseuse
to rub
me down
at night
after a hard
day at work.
I want
a chef in
the kitchen
and someone
to walk my
dog.
I want my own
reality t.v.
show
and a pool
in the back
yard.
I want a
fireplace
in the bathroom
with gold
spigots
on the sink.
I want
a big thick
robe
with my initials
on it
to wear
as I stand
with my hands
on my hips
and stare out
the window
of my vast
estate. I want
a girlfriend
who has a twin
sister
named tiffany.
I want
to sail on
my yacht to
france.
I want, I want
a new pen.
out of ink.

early to rise

when you were young
you could sleep
until noon.
but now
you wake up at
the first sliver
of light
eeking through
the blinds, into
the room.
you close your eyes
trying to go
back to sleep,
but it's
impossible.
you are wide awake
and it's
barely six
a.m.
your dog rolls
over and stares
you, shaking his
head, he looks
at the clock
on the dresser,
wraps his
paw around
the meaty bone
treat he saved
from yesterday,
then burrows deeper
into the blankets.

bursting the bubble

she used
to chew gum when
you made
love.
a big wad of double
bubble.
sometimes
she'd blow
a pink bubble
near your ear
in the midst
of oohs and
ahhs,
popping it at
appropriate
moments.
at first it
didn't bother
you, you thought
it was quirky
and funny,
sort of cute.
but over time
the gum chewing
drove
you crazy
and you asked
her to please
stop.
this made her
cry
and take out
her gum
sticking it
to the headboard.
things
were never the same
after that.

being catholic

having lost
something
and searched
everywhere,
turning the house
upside down. you turn
to prayer, starting
off first with
a short
but very descriptive
prayer to St. Anthony,
the saint of lost
stuff. but
nothing turns
up, and now you feel
guilty about having
used an intercessory
to reach your goal
of finding an object
that you've
lost, misplaced
or thrown away.
you pray for forgiveness,
but still slip
in that you'd like
to find
what you are looking
for, then
you feel guilty
wasting your prayers
on something
that can easily be
replaced when you should
be praying for
the poor, the sick,
and lost souls
of the world.
so you manage to say
a prayer for those
things, as you pull
the couch out,
shaking the cushions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

yoga class

sitting almost
in a lotus
position.
your legs don't
bend like that
anymore
unless you've
had three
martinis, you
stare at the
imaginary flame
of an imaginary
lit candle,
emptying
your mind,
which takes all
of three
seconds, except
for that continuing
thought about
ginger
in her leopard
print bikini.
you breathe out,
you breathe in,
you mutter
something like
ohmmmm, or ouch
as your
leg begins
to fall asleep
under your stiff
butt.
to clear your
mind of ginger
you think about
levitating,
about rising off
this yoga mat
and zipping over to
that fountain
to get a drink of
water. you
are really thirsty
it's hot
in here. why is it
so damn hot in here?
maybe it's because
there's so many people
in here humming like
a bunch of cicadas.
why doesn't
miss smarty pants,
yoga master
in her pink supergirl
outfit
open a window?
what's she doing.
how in god's name
did she get
her leg
over her head like
that. again
you think of ginger.

paper airplanes

some poetry
you read is difficult,
without mentioning
any names.
you can tell
that it's been
painfully
constructed,
carved in stone.
the language,
the references
to greek
mythology,
the puzzle
of it all. you
need a dictionary
on hand
to figure out
what half
the words mean.
by the time you
get to the middle
you're ready
to fold the poem
into a paper
airplane
and float it across
the room.

Monday, July 21, 2014

a plane flies by

she begins
each conversation by
saying
I'm retired now
and waits
for a reaction.
she smiles, holding
her black
and white dog
by the leash.
I don't miss it
one bit, she says.
staring upwards
as a plane
flies by.
well, some of it
I do.
some people, then
she begins to
cry.

far across the sea

you peel
away another layer
of you,
more onion
than
snake, or at
least you'd
like to think that
way, though
others may
disagree, especially
shauna
with the light
brown hair
who lives in
a shanty far
across
the sea.

a photo

it's just
a picture. a flat
one dimensional
snap shot
of you
with the light
and
view coming
only once
forever from
that angle.
we are older
by minutes,
seconds
before
it's done.
changed, different.
how elusive
we are
even when
hand in hand.

feel my muscle

go ahead, you tell her,
flexing your arm.
feel that.
feel that bicep,
you curl your arm
and move it closer
to where she's sitting.
you put some butter
on the hard ball
of tightened tendons
to make it glisten.
like a rock you say
proudly, steadying
your shaking fist.
no, she says. I don't
want to feel it.
I don't like muscles.
I'm against
muscles. but if you've
read a good book
lately, tell me all
about it.

letting go

how strange
to let go of everything.
to loosen
your grip
on the cliff
of life.
letting yourself
fall,
tumble towards
a world free
of possessions,
letting love
fill the void
of want, of need,
of ego.
letting
compassion give
you wings to fly
past your heavy
self
and live forever
beyond this
which is all
temporary to begin
with. how strange
to let illness
win the battle
for your body,
knowing that there
is no sting
in death.

places to go

there are few
places
that you wake up and
think
I'd love to go there
one day.
but there are
friends
you wish you'd
see more of.
that you could
press a button
and be with them.
sharing a drink
a bite,
a laugh or two.
the islands
are fine,
the alps, the seine,
paris
and rome.
but give me an old
friend on a bench
near the water
over those places
any day.

marie

her feet,
still swollen, are
propped up on a stool
by one of the nurses,
they are wrapped
in striped Christmas
socks despite
it being mid july.
her blue slacks,
and flowered blouse,
misbuttoned, hangs
loosely on
her ever aging body.
the venom is
out of her tongue,
the fight is out of
her bones. the lines
of worry have slipped
almost all away.
there is the sweet
gentle smile of a child,
returning your
smile as they like to do.
the workers
call her marie, come here
Marie, let me
tie your shoes,
eat your vegetables,
chew your food.

just one flaw

you'd like
her to have one flaw.
something
to make
you feel more at ease.
if she would
only say something
dumb,
like asking you
if the earth is
larger than
the sun, something
along those lines.
if she wasn't so
smooth and fashionable,
the hair just
right,
the lips and legs
unbearably nice,
if only she would
trip on a chair,
or curb
once in awhile,
or dribble
some blue cheese
dressing onto her
perfect blouse.
something, anything
to give you
an edge.

being naked

it's awkward
being naked
in front of people
especially
the first time
you are about to
make love.
you prefer
dim lighting,
maybe an overhead
fan for some
sort of wind
distraction.
liquor should
be involved
and lots of pillows.
it wasn't always
that way,
when you were
eighteen
and had the body
of a greek
god you'd do
jumping in jacks
in front
of your new love,
then ask her
to do a few too.

the broken nail

when women
break a nail
on the car door,
or on a dish
being set into
the sink, or
somewhere,
it's a big deal.
they show it
to you, saying
look, I broke
a nail, we
men have nothing
to compare it
to. they always
have someplace
to go where
having a broken
nail seems
to matter.
can you believe it,
they say,
I have a party
to go to next
week and I
broke a nail.
we stare
at the short
nail, rounded
at the tip
of the finger
and shrug,
saying something
like, hmmm.
it'll grow back,
right?

i don't

you are so glad
to have
bought this portable
personal
time machine.
just strap
the gizmo
to your head
and you can go
back into time.
no more stupid
things coming
out of your mouth,
just go back
and nod, or stay
silent, or better
yet, bring
back a witty quote
from Oscar wilde.
no more ordering
the wrong thing
off the menu,
marriages
and relationships
gone awry, no
problem, just
set dial to a
minute before
you said I do,
hit the button,
go back
and say, I don't.

the gypsy reading

the gypsy
slowly, dramatically
unwraps her
crystal ball from its
red velvet
cover, then sets
it aside.
she picks up her
lap top computer
from the floor,
sets it on
the table,
dims the lights
then says,
spell your name,
last name first,
middle initial
too. let's
get started.
let's see where you've
been, where you
might be headed.
are you on facebook?

try it on

when she died
she left all of her
clothes to be
sorted through
by her friends.
old clothes.
new clothes.
shoes not worn,
dresses
wrapped in cellophane.
some with tags
still on.
hats and gloves.
underwear.
slowly the women,
her still
alive friends
went through the mountain
of clothes on hangers,
folded in drawers,
picking out the plums.
trying them on,
standing in
the mirror where
she once stood
to see what fit.

lefty

there was
a kid with one
arm
in your neighborhood
who had
picked up
a live
downed power
line, bringing
him close to death.
but now he was
fearless
with his limb
severed
below the elbow.
baseball, no
problem,
girls, plenty.
he was a pirate
set loose
in a sea
of children
with his silver
clasping hook
for an arm.
there was nothing
he could do,
and do it
better and faster
than everyone
which gave you
hope and depressed
you at the same
time.


local wine tasting

you see two
bums,
bums being an
old fashioned word
for purposely
homeless, jobless,
and inebriated
people with
dubious track
records of
employment who
have been in
frequent
scrapes
with the law.
but they are in
the alley
at a wine
tasting.
each one passing
the other
one a bottle
wrapped in a brown
paper bag.
now taste this
one, one says to
the other.
close your eyes.
swish it around.
rose or merlot?
I'm not sure, the fruit
flavor is
throwing me off.
let me have another
swig.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

fall asleep

fall asleep
without
these things.
leave
them behind.
set the day,
aside.
push those shoes
beneath the bed
and slip
between
the sheets.
let the head fall
fast onto
the pillow.
let the eyes close.
let darkness
and the light
of dreams
reside.

the whip

we go too hard
each day,
we put the whip
to fast use,
pushing
our bodies
forward,
around the next
bend,
the next turn,
but there is
no finish line.
no end in sight.
no stops,
just starts
and starts
with each new
morning.

the boaters

the boaters,
loud and wobbling,
near
drunk
trying to tie
their
line to
the pier.
looping it over
and over
again
with near
misses.
laughing, with
one hand
on a beer.
above
the seagulls
are low
and slow against
the pink
rails of sunset.
their white
wings soft
against
a warm summer
breeze.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

side by side

i'll follow you
far.
through the unknown
woods
across the pastures
and fields.
i'll keep up
behind you as we
climb
and descend
a thousand hills,
letting you lead
the way.
i'll go as far
as I can go,
before we have
to stop and decide
on another
road, but
this time side
by side.

when things are right

the light
stays light well
into the late
afternoon.
it's midsummer
and the trees
are full.
the sky a blue
white layer
of time moving
slowly
over me, over you.
it's best
to say nothing
as the day moves
forward
into night.
silence being
the best conversation
when things
are right.


time and time again

there are days
when you open up
the old grandfather
clock
that never stops
ticking
and hold the metal
hands down.
you want time to
slow, or stop
completely, life
being that sweet
and kind
and full.
then there are
days when tomorrow
can't come
soon enough, so
you turn to the
calendar on the kitchen
wall and flip
the page
to another month.

the cake of you

it's not
the meringue
of you,
the frosting,
or sweet
topping
that intrigues
you, and wants
you to take
a long slow
lick,
no, that's all
good and fine.
but it's more.
you want to
pull up a chair,
dig
your fork in
and see
what lies below
the surface
have the cake
of you dance
upon your chin.

the phone booth

you miss
the phone booth.
the glass enclosed
enclave
with the heavy
folding doors.
the thick
book of numbers
with pages
torn out.
it protected
you from the rain
and wind. snow.
the black phone nearly
unbreakable
with its
metal cord.
the scars of it
being banged,
grooved into
the top.
graffiti
scribbled on every
flat piece
of grey metal.
the doodles of
names and numbers,
crude drawings of
stick figures
making love.
each booth a
container of
lost stories,
of hands that slipped
dimes, or quarters
into the bell
ringing slot,
talking to an
operator who would,
after feeding more
coins,
connect your call.

the juggler

you fall in love
with a carnival
juggler.
a curvaceous vamp
with long black
hair and blue
eyes. she escaped
from eastern
Europe during
the cold war.
using her skills
to survive. she
throws up
three swords in
the air,
a chainsaw,
bowling pins,
flaming torches
and a few cats.
juggling everything
seamlessly.
finally, you've met
your match.

quiet time

a single
bird
sits on the sill
outside
your house.
she never
moves when you walk
by.
never flutters
a wing
or opens it's beak
to speak.
you lean down
to look closer.
to see if it's
injured. it's
wing
broken or a claw
disfigured.
but nothing.
the bird sits there
still as
the brick
it rest upon.
quietly
you go back into
the house.
we all need to
rest and do nothing
sometimes.

the talk

I can see now why
you think
that.
of course I don't
agree, but
I respect your
feelings, and admire
your honesty.
I hope that
we can work things
out, but
if we can't the
door is always
open
for you to leave.
but remember, if
you do leave,
I can't promise
that i'll take
you back, or will
be here waiting
with open arms.
we've both made some
mistakes. but
we are only human,
well, I am, you're
still a dog.
a nice dog at that,
so don't take
it the wrong way.
I've always enjoyed
your company except
when you bark
too much at the tv.
like I said,
you want to jump
the fence and see what's
out there, go right
ahead. have fun.
but keep in mind what
I've just said.
here's a treat for
the road, and I'm
not asking you to sit
up, or roll over, or
play dead. I'm giving
you this treat because
I love you.

all in a day

there are itches
that need
to be scratched,
appetites
that need to be
satisfied.
bridges to cross
and burn.
places
to go and never
to return.
it's going
to be a busy day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

a bad feeling

go down
Madison street,
as if you are
going straight
to the river, but
don't go into
the river, make
a left on
river place.
i live there.
not in the boathouse,
but on the second
floor of the ninth
house on the left.
if you get lost.
call me.
but first you
have to promise
that you will
be there by one.
can you do that.
let me hear you
say that. i don't
like to be kept
waiting, and i
expect a fair
price. i won't
stand to be
gouged just
because i live
by the river,
and drive a nice
car. it's a small
powder room that
should take you
two hours to
wallpaper,
are you still
there?
bring me three
references and a
copy of your license
and insurance.
don't be late.
i'll be waiting.

pork chop

she lifts her leg
to show you her new
shoes.
they dangle like
white stripes
of candy on the toes
of her tanned
feet. the nails
are red. you lose
sight of the shoes
as your eyes follow
up the curve
of her shapely
calf, to her legs,
her thighs and
to her hips.
my shoes, she says.
my shoes.
look at my shoes.
why are you looking
at me like I'm
a pork chop.

wake up call

she likes
to call you at six
in the morning
just to see if you
are up,
or at home.
to which you answer,
where else
would I be?
I don't know, she
says. you
tell me, stray
cat. you
tell me.

scratch off winner

your father wins
a princely sum of money
doing the scratch off
lottery
from the machine
coming out of
the grocery store,
four cherries
line up in a row.
at the end of the week
his picture is
posted online,
a grim mug
shot of him
holding an oversized
check with
the cashed out amount
boldly printed
in large black numbers.
you call him to ask
him what he's going
to do with all
that new found money,
to which he replies,
what money?
how did you find out?
when you explain to him
how, he shakes
his head. I don't know,
he says.
maybe get the belts
on the washer
replaced. buy more
tickets, I'm not
sure quite yet.
I could use a new pair
of shoes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

one quarter pounder big bite

near death by starvation
you go into a 7-11
and stare into
the rolling metal
bars of a hot dog
grille. you look around
to see if there is
anyone in the store
who knows you,
then you whisper.
one big bite, quarter
pounder, which makes
the man say what.
I can't hear you.
speak up buddy. what
do you want. you look
around again, then say.
one quarter pounder,
please. he shakes his
head, putting on his
plastic gloves.
he grabs one out of
the steamy, greasy
glass enclosed
box of culinary death,
but you shout out no.
not that one, the other
one, the third one
from the top. yeah.
that one, you say, as
he disgustingly grabs
each individual hot
dog with his gloved
fingers. they're all
the same, he says.
but you beg to differ.
some are more brown
than the others, you offer.
which makes him say
whatever dude.
mustard, you ask, as
you pay for your small
red box containing your
life support nutrition.
over there, he says,
whipping off his soggy
gloves. ketchup, mustard,
relish, onions. over
there, near the chili
dispenser. thanks you
say, picking up some
rolaids at the counter.

nuptials

you get an invitation
to a wedding.
it's a gay wedding,
but still a wedding
just the same.
two women tying
the knot, so to speak.
the last wedding
you went to was also
a gay wedding, but
with two men tying
the knot, so to speak.
the gifts are a problem.
they have been together
for years, over a decade,
so blenders are out.
a mr. coffee machine,
forget about it.
they have everything
any adult needs to have.
the invitation says
no gifts, but you know
how that goes.
you'd be the only person
attending without one.
dress is casual, but
do they really mean
that, or should you wear
a suit, or a jacket
with a nice shirt
and dress shoes?
is it too hot for a
turtleneck sweater?
you are leaning towards
a light blue seer
sucker number with
a fluffy white shirt,
but you don't want to
draw attention from
the wedding couple.
maybe a nice pair of
khaki shorts with a t-shirt.
so many decisions.

S and ML

she texts you an
abbreviated message
that you don't
understand, but
you try really hard.
you get out
the scrabble board
and scatter
the letters all over
the table, duplicating
what she wrote,
you fix a drink,
staring at the mystery
of her words, half
words, one and two
letter short cuts
in the English language.
you get out the dictionary,
the thesaurus, but get
nowhere. it's
still a mystery.
is it because she's
a girl and you're
a boy, or are you just
dumb when it comes
to texting.

spinach blues

you don't like
small boats.
how they list
and wobble.
sway in the current
get tossed about
by the slightest
of winds or
wave. you turn
green as you
hang on to the side
of the bow, the aft,
the stern, who
knows. Ahab
you're not. in
fact you're not
even popeye. which
brings you around
to spinach.
please. stop
with the spinach.
there's not enough
butter, salt
and pepper, or
garlic powder
to make you want
more.

covering home plate

as a kid
you once found a pair
of women's
underwear
and stockings,
a set of heels
behind the drugstore
where you played
stick ball.
there may have been
a girdle there too,
although
you wouldn't even
know what that was
at that age.
they were all
neated piled up
below the strike
zone that you had
spray painted
on the wall.
they sat on your
virtual home
plate, as if
someone had stepped
out the clothes
and disappeared.
your friends
and you scratched
your heads, removing
your gloves and
hats, staring
at one another
until someone said,
hey get a stick
and gets this stuff
out of here.
lets play ball.

explaing to do

tipsy, under the gauze
of two shared
and rather lethal
martinis
you stop
into a tattoo parlor
along the boulevard
to have the name
Ginger
inked into your arm.
but first they
have to painfully
remove Mabel,
your wife's name
who is wondering
where you are at
three in the morning,
picking up milk
and bread.

a fine world it woud be

the dog,
all teeth
and tongue,
a muscle of white
short fur
and a bulldog
face
jumps with joy
when you
enter the room.
he doesn't even
know you
but is pleased
to bite, nibble
lick and bark
at your feet,
pawing you with
pleasure, saying
in his dog
like way.
I love you
complete stranger.
give me some
love back, which
you do.
how fine the world
would be with
this dog
in charge.

easy to be happy

you wake up with
cookie crumbs
in your bed.
some chunks
of chocolate
warm on the pillow.
this makes
the dog very happy
as you see him
licking the inside
of a small
box where
the cookies
once were. how
easy it is to
please him.
you could take
a lesson or two.

all i really want to do

you don't want
to marry her, or own
her, or tell
her what to do with
her life,
her money, her job,
or cat.
you don't even
want to be her best
friend, although
you'd give it a shot
if it came down
to that. no, you
just want to make
love to her. that's
it, then see where
it goes from there.
is that too much
to ask?

the bingo cheating scandal

you notice
a priest out
in the parking
lot at the local
catholic
church. you've
seen him before on
bingo nights
calling out
the letters and
numbers.
but today, on
sunday, he's
out there with a
hose hooked to
a large truck
marked
holy water.
liberally he
sprays down the crowd,
forgiving
them of their
sins. then you
hear him say in a
loud voice, go
and sin no more.
bingo at eight.

farewell

there are people
you know you'll never
see again.
you just know
that this
is a final farewell,
so do they,
but neither of
you mentions that.
instead you say
have a safe flight,
or drive. I'm
glad that you came,
please remember
that you are always
welcome back.
which is enough
said to offer
up a wave
and send you on
your way.

in the morning

you measure
a length of wood,
marking
it with a pencil
where the cut
should be.
slowly you move
the saw
against the soft
smooth
plane of the board,
letting
the dust snow
down onto the floor.
all day
you measure mark
and cut,
the blade of the saw
getting hot,
while the hammer
and nails
wait patiently
nearby
for their turn.

freshly baked

you break
a tooth on the cookies
she just
baked especially
for you.
now you whistle
when you speak,
emit a slight
but annoying
drool. you should
have dipped
it in milk
or tea, she says,
unapologetic
about her baking
skills, but here,
I made you some
donuts too, frosted
with sprinkles,
please,
try these.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

her celery

then there was the time
she threatened
to leave you, so you
yelled at her from
the couch, saying,
well, if you do finally
decide to leave, take your
damn celery with you.
my celery, she says,
coming into the room
to look at you.
my celery is bothering
you. my celery is
cramping your style
crowding your bacon
and salami. we have
some serious issues to
discuss and all you can
come up with is,
take your celery with
you. this makes you
shrug. umm, yeah,
you say meekly,
I want that celery
out of my house,
and your hummus
and cheese chunks too.
and those olives
from the olive bar,
oh, and those
wheat crackers, they
taste like card board
no matter what kind
of jelly you put
on them.

the great escape

you tell her that her
eyes look
pretty when she cries.
the wetness of tears
brings out the emerald
in them.
this does not please
her, so she cries even
harder. no really, you
tell her, trying to
gently pull her
hands from her face.
look up into the light
you say, those eyes
are beautiful, like
gems sparkling, washed
up by the sea.
really, she says,
wiping her nose with
her wrist.
sure, you tell her,
handing her a box
of Kleenex.
let me get that mirror
off the dresser and you
can see what I'm
talking about. you
bring it over as she
continues to sob,
her shoulders shaking.
look, look at those
eyes. good god they
are absolutely stunning.
liz taylor has nothing
on you baby.
she looks, trying to
catch her breath
as she begins to hiccup.
I guess they are kind
of nice, she says, moving
the mirror around.
I'm telling you those
eyes are amazing.
it is too bad about
your cat though,
let me get you some
water, honeybun.

t-bone

apparently your new
neighbors can
cook out every
night of the week.
they go through more
coal than an old
train rumbling down
the tracks.
sometimes you hear
a mooing sound
coming from their
basement and then
you hear
distinct, loud
chopping sounds,
followed by no more
mooing. they like
steak. they like to
grille. they've
never met a T-bone
they didn't like.
just once you wish
they'd throw you a
bone and invite you
over.

feeling lucky

you miss
the plane
that crashes on
the runway,
no one is injured
but you still
feel lucky
just the same,
and when the ocean
liner goes down
you feel that you've
made the right
decision on not
taking a cruise
to Italy
or spain.
so when she doesn't
show up
for dinner
that you slaved
over for a whole hour.
you feel like
you're on a roll,
a lucky streak
that you
don't want to break.

mayor for life

you see the mayor
on tv
in handcuffs,
unhumbled in his
pin striped suit
with Italian
shoes. still
dashing and well
groomed with
money and crack
cocaine falling
from his pockets
as they whisk
him off to the police
van. he's smiling
for the camera
still running for
office.
taking this little
bump in the road
as an opportunity
to campaign,
showing that he
truly is a man
of the people.
in November, he shouts
out as they dip
his head into
the van, vote for
me. i'll be back.

house in the woods

she moves to the woods
to be in
nature.
trees, a stream
down below the hill.
the brilliant
shine of stars
against the black
sky at night.
an orchestra
of crickets filling
the silence with
the neighbors
far enough away
to see just a glimmer
of their light.
but then the deer
want in,
jumping the fence
to eat her new flowers.
a possum crawls
into the chimera
to sleep,
a black snake winds
itself up a tree
for robin's eggs.
a band of yellow
striped bees
are in the clover,
even a small black
bear stops by
to open
the front gate
to eat from the compost
pile
and say howdy.

your new friend

the waiter
introduces himself
as Charlie with an
ie, not a y.
he's all teeth
and enthusiasm.
answering and asking
questions
about you and
the weather before
you speak.
you don't want
or have room in
your life for
a new friend, but
apparently you
have one.
he tells you
the specials,
the appetizer that
he absolutely
loves, and his
favorite entrée,
the drunken rib eye.
this makes him wink
for some reason.
you nod and nod
some more
staring into
the dark menu
waiting for Charlie
to stop talking, but
he needs to tell
you about the desserts
first.
they are all amazing
he explains tapping
his flat twenty three
year old boys belly.
finally he puts his
hands on his hips
and says, so what'll
it be my friend.
vodka you say.
a tall vodka with
tonic, and a wedge
of lime.
pour with a heavy hand.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

at sea too long

you drop
anchor
in a new port
called
Shirley.
she's open
all night.
breakfast in
the morning.
she tells you to
wash the salt
and brine
off of you
before coming
to bed.
you do what
she tells you.
she isn't pretty,
or very smart,
but
you've been at
sea too long.
you need a place
to rest,
and this port,
though not on
a map, is as
good as any.

the mother of invention

you wonder sometimes
why very few new things are
being invented, but
then you think about ben
franklin, and how he had
so much time on his hands
going back and forth
to france meeting new
babes all over the new
world and the old world.
he was doing a lot of
lounging around, or flying
kites at the request,
probably, of his wife
back in Philadelphia.
after plumbing, electricity,
the cotton gin, and
supermarkets, cars
and computers, that's
pretty much all you
need. why wrack your brains
trying to figure out
something you don't need.
ben needed a lot of stuff
back then when it was
lights out at eight.
we don't, except for a
new cell phone every
few months.

a new world

two very quiet
and nice
Asian women knock on
your door, politely
asking if you are the owner
of this house.
yes, you say. we are
not asking for donations
the taller one says,
but if you'd like to,
we will accept one from you.
tax deductible, the other
one says.
they hand you a brochure
about the new world
coming.
a one world government
that will bring
peace and prosperity
to everyone.
they are wearing light
blue dresses
with thick nun like shoes.
each has a satchel
of brochures. you notice
a pack of mints
in one of the satchels.
you ask if you can have
a mint, they look at
one another, surprised,
then back at you.
no, they say. those are
our mints. but what
about this new world.
won't everyone get a mint?
no, you have to get
your own mints.
so this world will be a
selfish world, you say,
hands on your hips. a world
where there is no charity
or compassion.
you broaden your shoulders
and stand straight up.
they look at one another.
okay, okay, they say.
you can have one mint,
but don't tell anyone.
the smaller one digs into
the bag and places
a small wrapped mint
into your outstretched
hand. happy, she says?

the wedding dress

after this ice cream
cone, she tells
you licking it as it
melts in her hand,
I'm going on a strict
diet. lettuce
only, lots of water,
and maybe some
tofu, or soy beans.
something like that.
I have one week to
fit into my wedding dress
and twenty pounds to
lose. I didn't know
you were getting married,
you say to her,
biting on the bottom
of your sugar cone.
I'm not she says,
but there's this dress
I saw in a window
the other day and I just
have to have it.

candy land

mary, your
ninety year
old
best friend
likes to keep
a bowl of candy
on the white
table that sits
on the baby blue
just vacuumed carpet.
mints and wrapped
assorted flavors
of hard
candy.
lemon and lime,
strawberry,
pineapple. she is
never without
candy. whenever
you visit,
she points
at the bowl
and says,
candy? you take
one. unwrap it
and slowly
let it melt into
your mouth.
the sour apple
flavor
making you pucker
and blink
your eyes as you
listen to her story
of how she crashed
her Cadillac
again at the grocery
store.

the golfer

your friend carl
loves
to talk about his
game.
the science of golf.
the swing,
the putt, the roll
of the ball
down a fairway
onto the soft
Bermuda green.
each stroke can
be recounted,
the adversity of
it all, the sun,
wind, the slow
party of four
ahead of him.
he shakes his
head at the bogey
on hole
nine, laughs
at the near miss
on twelve.
talks about the splash
into the pond
on thirteen,
and the sand trap
that ate
his ball on three.
he can remember
every strike
of the ball he took.
how his wrists came
unglued
and how he took his
eye of the ball
with
his feet not far
enough apart.
you need to come out
and play
sometime, he says
grimacing as he takes
off his cleats.
I bought some new
clubs, you can have
my old ones.
they're in the trunk.
come see.

Monday, July 14, 2014

roll em

Einstein said that
god does
not roll dice
with the universe.
you hope he's
right, because if
not, we are in
a world of trouble,
although, we may
be anyway.
so roll em
just the same, let's
see what happens
at the end of this
crazy game.

yard sale

it's hard
to throw things away.
to toss
them into the trash
into
oblivion never to
be seen again.
the bad paintings
of snow or sea, that
vase full of dried
flowers. the old coat
you never wore.
but worse still
is to sit in your yard
on a Saturday
and have people touch
the things you
don't want, priced
for pennies,
then walking away,
confirming what you
already know.

the firefly

there is a lot
of waiting
going on.
in lines,
in traffic.
in the waiting
rooms, for
the oil to be
changed,
for the nurse
to call you in.
waiting for
phone reception.
waiting for
the rain to stop.
for people
to change,
for love
or a cup of coffee.
for the cold
to subside.
we are all waiting
for something.
or someone
to leave,
or arrive. we are
waiting for the moon
to come out
and shine.
waiting on
the firefly to glow
again.
waiting.

the quiet car

let's take
the quiet car
in the train she
says. no cell phones,
no lap tops pinging,
no talking.
just us together
with a good book
and holding hands.
but as soon as you settle
into your seats
and the train begins to
move she whispers.
it's so quiet in here,
isn't it? don't you
love this, you nod yes.
I can't believe it.
no one is talking,
all these people and
no one saying a single
word. look around,
not one person is
jabbering. can you
believe this. where
on earth can you go
where no one is talking.
it's like we are in
a monastery. I'm so happy
to be in the quiet
car with you. I love
you pooksie. you look at her
and put your fingers
to your lips. shhhh.
you say. but I just
said that I love you.
don't you have a response
for that?
a green tennis
ball comes flying
from the back of the car
and hits her on the head.
momentarily you are
saved, but the car
will no longer be
quiet for the rest
of the trip.

they are blood

your siblings are
troubled.
some with drink and
women, or married men,
others
with religion
tying them into
happy knots.
giddy to the point
of being oblivious
to the real world.
money comes and goes
so easily.
they reach out with
forks and knives.
giving little jabs
when the moment
arrives.
you feel adopted
at times, or found
in a basket on the porch.
you all look somewhat
alike, but you
don't fit. you
don't get the things
they do.
the deviousness,
the greed,
the anger and petty
quarrels.
you always finish
talking about them
by saying, but
hey they're my brothers
and sisters.
they are blood.
I love them, which
makes you question
exactly what love is.

it was okay

when you dated
lucy you used to
meet her exclusively
at a restaurant
called
the rusted fork,
it was mostly an
egg and bacon
joint with juke
boxes on the table
where the faux
leather seats
rounded out like
tractor trailer
bench seats. it was
usually after midnight
when she could get free.
free from what, you
never knew.
cheeseburgers, loaded,
with fries were
on the menu too.
the waitresses wore
pink uniforms and had
to be over sixty
to qualify
to work there. legs
like spindles
on a staircase.
lots of lipstick
and rouge, and tissues
stuck into the tops
of their boney cleavage.
the restaurant
was located
on 301 out near
waldorf, heading towards
north beach,
and the weather
was usually bad.
rain or snow.
ice.
the lights would flicker
on and off
sometimes,
elvis on the juke
singing teddy bear
sounded like he was
under water.
sometimes after eating
she wanted to go make out
in the car, usually hers.
she had to push a basket
of laundry
out of the way,
or cans of motor oil,
her jane fonda exercise
book.
both of you smelled of
onions by that point,
but it didn't matter.
it wasn't going anywhere.
you accepted that.
and when she disappeared
without a word,
you knew that was coming.
it was okay.
everything about her
was okay.

the mice

the mice
are everywhere.
they are winning.
boldly they come
out at night
and sit in front of
you, begging to
be chased, knowing
how slow and old
you are.
the mice are
winning.
they work all day
at letting more
mice in.
unlatching doors,
making holes
in the walls.
soon, they will ask
you to leave,
or drag you out by
your feet.
your life is always
changing at
the wishes of smaller
things.

what she wrote

it wasn't her
legs,
lean and tanned,
long as a summer day.
or her eyes,
tea brown.
it had nothing to
do with
the way her lips
formed when
she smiled.
no.
it wasn't how
her hair looked
in the sunlight,
or
the way her
hands lay
upon the table
folded
onto themselves,
softly.
it was none of
that. it was something
else.
it was the one
poem she wrote,
then said,
that's me.

spicy meatloaf

let me tell you about
my family she says,
rolling her eyes
as far back into her
head as they will go.
everyone of them is
messed up in the head.
drugs, drinking,
smoking, jail time,
divorces and tattoos
covering their bodies.
my sister has a fishhook
sticking out of her
lip and two razor
blades hanging from
her ear lobes,
but she says, clearing
her throat, they are
all college educated
and well read,
so it's not like
you can't have a decent
conversation with them.
so what do you think,
dinner at my mom's house
on sunday?
she makes an amazing
spicy meatloaf.

some thoughts

some thoughts
linger
from early morning,
until the end
of day
when you swing
your feet back
onto to the bed
for sleep.
you've done nothing
to address these
thoughts,
they are just with
you, as you go
about your business.
they stay
close by,
as if whispers
sitting in your ear,
things you need to
know for a reason
you aren't quite
sure of, yet.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

cloud burst

the rain
forces you inside,
beneath an
overhang of
a store
closed for sunday.
the wind
turns each green
leaf
over into a silver
palm along
the boulevard.
the heat
rises on the pavement.
thunder
is nearby.
a broken arrow
of lightning
strikes in the distance.
you could stay in
this moment for a long
time,
before you go on
your way.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

the mechanic

the mechanic
wants you to commit
to the repair.
he pleads
over the counter
saying that you
can't go another
day without
air conditioning.
for a mere two
thousand dollars
he will fix
your ten year
old work truck
and have you back
in the cool breeze
of freon once
again. if
he didn't have
mayonnaise in his
beard from the tuna
sandwich he's
eating while
talking to
you, you'd have
a lot more confidence
in what he's saying.
let me think about,
it you tell him.

shoot the ball

you remember
when your son, at
age ten,
played soccer
on a frozen field
an hour
away from
where you lived
a 7 a.m.
on a Saturday
morning.
the parents
holding cups
of coffee close
to their faces
to warm
their blue lips.
the maniacal
coaches screaming
as if it was
the world cup.
you don't miss that.
no.
but when you see
a soccer
game now it takes
a while
to not turn it
off and cringe.

the loose thread

the thread
you pull is best
left
untouched, better
not to know
where things
are going.
easier to snip
if off
and let things
remain as they
are,
don't pull
the thread
to see what
lies beneath
the cloth.

Friday, July 11, 2014

my lost love

you fall in love
with a movie
star.
greta garbo
in black and white.
her skin as pale
and soft
as a fish filet.
but she's dead
now so you've
got no shot at a
romance, and if
she was alive
she'd be way
over a hundred,
just slightly out
of your normal
dating range.
you adored that crazy
hat she used to wear,
pulled down
snug over her dark hair,
and how she smoked
a cigarette
as if annoyed
or disgusted with
the human race,
especially men.
you admired her aloofness,
wanting to be
alone. you get that.
you really really
get that.
plus, she didn't
say much.
bonus points for
that. you'd be
worried though
about all that make
up smearing all over
your pillow cases
when she began to cry,
as you imagine she would
at some point.
her eyebrows were
black as if drawn
on by a grease pen,
perfect arcs
above her bedroom
eyes. you say
bedroom only because
kitchen eyes,
or basement eyes
would sound silly
and god forbid that
you'd ever let yourself
sound silly.

taxi ninety-one


while sitting in
the back seat
of his monte carlo
yellow and black
taxi, number ninety-one,
you strike up
a conversation
with the cab driver
about indian food.
you tell him that
it goes right
through you
like motor oil,
which makes him
laugh and stroke
his thick mustache.
he says something
along the lines
of, do you like
lamb, to which
you reply, I don't
know. maybe. the poem
mary had a little lamb
suddenly runs through
your head
repeatedly, so
to stop this train
of thought you
tell him that his cab
is very clean.
you almost tell him
that it doesn't
smell bad, but
you bite your lip
and begin to whistle.
what is that you are
whistling, he asks,
peering at you
in the mirror with his
giant black eyes.
nothing you say,
just something I'm
making up as I blow
out air. nothing.

you imagine

she slips
on the floor and falls
into your
arms.
you kiss her.
she kisses you.
you forget what
time it is.
what day it is.
your name
is questionable
too.
it's not love
exactly,
but something akin
to being
an animal,
but with music
playing, perhaps
Sinatra's
summer wind.

reward card

you have
nine reward cards.
one for books,
another for shoes,
one for coffee
and another for
sandwiches.
the big chain
stores, and little
boutiques too.
your wallet
is fat with shiny
plastic
cards offering
a discount
and reward
for being such a
frequent and loyal
customer, so it's
no surprise
when you hand
me one too.

take my picture

I don't understand people,
margo says to you
while clipping her toe
nails at the pool.
damn it's hot out, I
could use another high ball,
why don't they have waiters here?
people are in such a rush
these days, always in
a hurry to go somewhere.
she turns her glass
letting a piece of ice
fall into her mouth.
and what's with this face
book thing. are you on
there? I hate it. I was
on there for two weeks
and began to despise
all my friends. I don't give a
flying fig about what they
had for dinner, or
where they took a vacation.
give me a break. hey, hey,
are you listening.
sorry, you tell her,
I dosed off for a minute,
you said something about
it being hot out. could
you do me a favor
and take a picture of me
with my phone, I need
to post it later.

without you

someone
just like you
finds your wallet
on the street.
your keys too.
when you go home
that night he is
in your favorite
chair eating
a sandwich,
the dog is at his
feet, sleeping.
your wife is on
the couch
reading a magazine
and your kids
are on the floor
playing a game.
the door is locked
so you peer
through the window,
standing in
the bushes that you
pruned last weekend.
you press your face
against a cool pane,
looking in,
they seem so happy,
your family,
without you.

she loves me

you buy a dozen
flowers
for your sweetheart
lulu.
black eyed susans.
but on the way over
to her house
you begin to pick off
each petal, saying,
she loves me, she loves
me not, she loves
me she loves me
not, by the time you
get to her house
you are down to stems
holding a dark
puffy ball at the top,
which makes her laugh
and say, well,
which was it?

a planet just like ours

they find another planet
just like ours,
a safe haven perhaps
when doomsday arrives,
but the astronomer
chooses to keep it quiet.
he looks at his check
list of desirable places.
this one is exactly like
ours. yes. water, air,
your basic elements
that make life survivable
but it too has immovable
traffic, fast food restaurants
and over crowded beaches.
he scratches his head
as he peers through
the telescope. what's
with all the salt water
taffy at the beach, he
wonders. next.

i'm thirsty

you pick her up
from rehab after a six
week stay
to dry out
and sober up.
she looks fresh
and clean,
relaxed in her
favorite dress.
the one with flowers,
a summery
flimsy thing,
that hangs on
her body just so.
she looks hopeful
standing there
waiting for you
to drive up.
but you know things
could go either
way when she
gets in the car
and says,
I'm thirsty,
aren't you?

the closed door

the closed door
is the one
you want to go
through.
the sealed
letter is the one
you want to read.
the turned lips
are the ones
you want to kiss.
the road not taken,
the life
not led.
how strange
life turns on wanting
what we don't
have.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

there is no hat

there is no
hat,
no rabbit,
no sawing
anyone
in half. there
is no slight
of hand,
setting a white
dove free.
no hypnotist
or mind
reader
who can help
you to understand.
there is
no magic
that exists
that explains
what any
of this is.

the book

she is a book
you can't
stop reading.
savoring
each page
wanting to know
and not
know
the ending.
looking forward
to the moment
you can pick
it up again
and unfold
her heart into
your loving
hands.

of course, me too

she informs
you, with a chilled
kiss on the cheek
and a sisterly
hug that she just
wants to be friends.
your heart is broken
along
a familiar fault line.
you were thinking
a mad passionate love
affair. dimmed lights
with candles and music,
champagne. an open
window where you could
hear and smell
the rolling sea.
but so it goes, and you
can only reply to her
feelings of friendship
by saying, of course,
me too.

underwater call

you are skeptical
when she tells you that
she dropped her
phone into
the ocean while
water skiing or
scuba diving,
or hunting a great
white shark
with a spear gun.
you doubt the veracity
of her story,
thinking that she just
didn't feel like
talking. but then
you get a call
and you can hear
a large grouper
on the other end,
making fish noises.
you hear the bubble
of surf and sand,
the crashing of
waves. fins folding
as the grouper swims
and attempts
to say your name.

a scenic view

nervous,
you bite your
lip,
rattle your legs
beneath
the table.
sweat
grows under
your arms.
a bead or two
rolls
down
your forehead.
she's just a girl.
okay.
a woman.
you've been down
this road
before.
yes. but not with
this kind
of scenic view.
you need another
drink,
or two.

her name

the sill
with white dust
heavy
on the wood,
when was the last
time you
wiped
it clean.
no matter.
it's as good
a place as any
to write her
name.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

scheduling work

the widow, Helen,
smoothed down
by the years, now
a small rounded ball
of humanity with
oiled black
hair, and eyes
that dart about
like bee bees
rattling in a cage
says,
come tomorrow.
no wait. I have
a hair appointment
at ten.
the next day might
be better.
but call me before
you come.
people are dying
in north Carolina,
and I might have
to go there to
pick out a grave
stone, bring a cake
or a pie.
but I do want the work
done, I really do.
just call me
in the morning before
you come.

whose woods are these

you read what a cranky,
nasty old man
Robert frost could
be. it's not pretty.
but you give him
some room. who hasn't
been that way from
time to time.
you haven't walked
in his boots, or
stopped by his woods.
or gone deep into
them on a snowy night.
you have no clue
to who his neighbors
were, or how strong
those fences were
to keep the adoring
fans away. it doesn't
matter as he rises
every day, brilliantly
sad on another page.

the tide rolls in

you were never
one to carve your name
into a tree
with the girl
you were in love
with, or write
her name over and over
on a pad of paper
adding your
last name to hers.
you never thought
of getting a
tattoo with lucy,
or ginger
singed in blue ink
into your arm. no.
you sought out
areas less permanent
to show your
affection, like
the sand at the beach
as the tide
rolled in.

a missed opportunity

she used the phrase
it's a missed opportunity,
when critiquing
your story in a writer's
workshop
a dozen years ago.
it lacks ambition.
she wished that the author
had taken more
time to develop
the characters, perhaps
thought the plot out
more clearly before
handing it in for reading.
so it's no surprise
to you, when you see her
in a drugstore all
these years later
studying bottles of
lotion, that you ignore
her and keep walking.
another missed
opportunity.

warmer states

it shouldn't,
but sometimes kindness
surprises you
in this world.
the car that lets
you in,
the held door.
a shoveled walkway
without asking.
a simple thank
you for a job
well done.
manners in general
seem to have slipped
away with
an older generation
now dying
and moving
to warmer states.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

making love to music


you had a girlfriend
named Dixie, once.
it was a long time ago.
the vinyl age,
not far removed from
the paleolithic age.
she liked to make
love
to music,
but the record would
skip
and she'd have
to stop
get up and walk
naked
across the room
in her roman sandals
to drop the needle
to another nearby
groove. or she'd
tire of what was
on, and get up
to sort through her
albums
to find something
else that might
put her in the mood.
meanwhile you waited,
whistling Dixie,
as she kneeled
on her shag rug,
saying nope, nope,
nope, maybe.

before the show

you walk down
to where the circus
is setting up.
the big tents are in
place.
the elephants
grey and large
are being hosed down
in the shade.
the place
smells of straw
and cigars.
cotton candy and dung.
you see the workers
sitting half
dressed. half clowns,
half lion tamers,
ballerinas
slipping into gowns,
smoking cigarettes.
they are neither happy
or sad
as they sit in the sun
in their bare feet.
waiting for
the day to move into
night where they will
become who
they are paid to be.

it's a living

he made
his money slipping
on the slight
puddled
spills in grocery
stores.
hitting
the wet spot
just right to send
him flying
upright,
hitting the floor
with a loud scream
and thud,
his milk and cookies,
eggs
and butter
strewn everywhere.
the store always
settled
and he was back on
his feet before
long, out of
the neck brace,
no longer with
the crutches, searching
for a new place
to fall.

the perscription

stung by a wasp
on her ankle
she breaks out into oozing
hives.
no one wants to be
near her
on the bus, the train
or standing in
line.
she cancels her date.
she scratches
at the sores,
while making an appointment
with her
doctor.
what is it, she says.
it's hard enough
to find love with smooth
skin, and now
this. how will I ever
find a man in this
condition?
he gives her a bottle
of pills.
take these, he says,
and your skin will be
back to normal
in time. but meanwhile
read more, have fun,
get out
and enjoy your life.
quit being such a whiner.
no one wants to be with
someone like that.
perhaps work on
the inside for once.

a bowl of milk

a small
stray cat comes
into your life.
she's grey
and white, with
half a tail.
her green eyes
are slivers
of broken
bottle glass.
her purr is strong.
as she rubs
stiffly and soft
between
your ankles.
how can you
resist that.
sometimes love is
meant to be,
you have no choice
in the matter
but to put open
the door and set
down a bowl
of milk.

she says more

she says more
to you asleep, then
she does
awake.
her body, curved
against the white
sheets
whispers to you.
her breathing,
the soft tug of
her dream
making her sigh.
the one foot out,
white
as snow
as her leg
unfolds.
her hair is
black and
everywhere against
the pillow.
you can see
that she loves you
when she's asleep,
but it seems less
so when
the sun comes up
to wake her.

your music stinks

you tell her that there is
no more good music
to listen to.
it was all about
the sixties
and seventies, perhaps
some of the eighties,
but since then
it's drivel, you say.
unlistenable banging
of drums and nursery
rhymes. dr. sues
on crack talking about
his mother.
you are so old, she says.
that's what old people
say. let me get a shovel
and start on your next
home. rap music has soul,
has meaning, it
represents. you laugh.
no you tell her.
james brown had soul.
the drifters had soul.
the temptations and the
four tops had soul.
crazy d rhyming words
with fire truck is not
soul. it's giving up.

my guy

I have a guy
she says,
my mechanic.
he knows everything
there is to
know about my
car. if a strange
light goes on,
or I hear
a whirring noise,
he knows what
to do.
he's my guy,
my car go to guy.
behind the greasy
overalls,
and the bloodshot
eyes, the tattooed
neck
and cigarette
breath, he is
a saint inside.
he's my miracle man,
my mechanic,
my guy.

monday

there is no
spring in your step
today.
no sparkle in your
eye.
you are not
doing a cartwheel
out the door
this morning. you
have no smile,
no joke
no kind words
to share with anyone
just yet.
you are one of
them, going into
the direction that
life has chosen
for you.

table with a view

she always needed
a table by a window.
the corner wouldn't
work, middle of the room,
forget it. the hard booth
near the kitchen
was an absolute no.
the window, with
a view she'd say
as they steered her
through the maze
of tables and chairs
out of the darkness
and into the light
where she could see
the road going in either
direction, or a
sleeve of grey
water cascading
by after it rained
all night.

Monday, July 7, 2014

suddenly quiet

when your neighbor,
jimbo,
who fights loudly
with his wife,
or girlfriend, or
someone
of the opposite sex
on a nightly basis,
comes over
and asks you if
he can borrow a
chainsaw, or an
axe if you have one,
this worries you
things have
gotten really
quiet over there
in the last week
or so. there hasn't
been a peep
of discontent or
argument for some
time now.

she's coming

you knew when
her mother was coming
because she had
the good china
out on the table,
being hand washed.
dusted and wiped
to a high sheen.
there would be a
gourmet meal to come,
a fine wine.
a fancy dessert
that you couldn't
pronounce involving
oranges and deep
dark chocolate.
she would tell you
to wear something nice,
for once,
a clean shirt, a
pressed pair
of pants.
the house would
fill with the scent
of roasted meats,
and flowers,
bread baked fresh
in the oven.
and when the dog
was put into the back
yard, you knew for
sure that her mother
was on the way.

unloved

the child
goes his whole life
thinking wrongly
that his parents
never loved him,
believing that he's
unloved.
this darkens
every day he lives
in.
it's a shield,
a barrier of trust,
of letting others
in.
he paints in blues
and browns,
blacks.
the rain falls because
of it.
the bad turn,
the falls all because
of what he believes.
always without love,
never giving
an inch
to let love
happen.

sales weasels

the salesman
uses his trick
of dropping his pen
into
the lap of the old
man
or woman,
wavering on whether
or not
to sign on the dotted
line
for windows,
a car,
a new slab of
vinyl siding on
their house,
or a time share
closer to ohio
than
france.
sometimes it works.
the pen
feeling nice
in the curled
palm, and they
sign, but other
times they take it
and
like a knife
and jab it
into the salesman's
hand.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

poetry within

there is poetry
in
the clerk
who rings up
your groceries
despite
the tired eyes,
the listless
look
of fatigue on
his grey
face.
the rounded
shoulders
holding up a white
shirt
and blue tie.
there is poetry
in his heart.
the music of words
and love,
joy and hope.
it's in there.
like a small
bird.
fluttering
it's wings
trying to get
out, but can't
and never will.

the cool bed

you lie
down in your cool
bed.
thankful.
thankful for the roof
above
you, the food
in your stomach.
the fan
that spins
above your head.
you are grateful
for work,
for your son
who loves you
and you in return
love him
without compromise.
the list is long
and you'll be
fast asleep
before you get
to end of friends
that are
bookends
to your life.

the victims

not everyone
wants to be helped.
they like
being miserable
and sad,
lonely and disappointed
at the cards
the world has
dealt them.
everything is a
tragedy, a misstep,
in the wrong
direction.
victims of parents
that didn't love
them, colleges
they couldn't go to.
husbands and wives
that betrayed them.
they start each
sentence with,
you will not believe
what happened
to me.
this never ends.
the only thing that stops
it is when
you stop
listening
and even then they'll
find another set
of ears to confide
in.

strange country

everyone
dies
at some point.
one hundred
per cent
so far.
and yet
we never
see it coming
or get used
to it.
despite
religion
and books,
intelligence
and
intuition
death is a strange
and mysterious
country we
all are heading
towards
with bags
not packed.

alone again

another
sock, alone
in the cave
of the steel
bin
of
your dryer.
a single black
sock
with a red stripe
down the toes.
it's lost
it's way.
it's other half
gone on alone,
never to be
seen again.

the siren of more

it's hard
as americans
to surrender. to give
up. to let the ego
go. self surrender.
but it's the only
way
to peace
and happiness.
let go of things,
of love,
of hate, of anything
that wants to
own you.
it's hard
when everything
screams
buy me or love me,
always
the siren of more
kissing you
on the face.

new lovers

new lovers
can't keep their hands
off one another.
they can't get
close enough,
sitting almost
in each other's laps.
the finish each other's
thoughts,
share food from
the same fork.
this is before
the first fight,
the first fall out.
the first drink
that spills, or
lie that's told,
or sign of fatigue
that appears, and
inevitably shows.

the spot

there is a spot
on your favorite
blue button down
dress shirt.
you don't notice
it until you
are in the car
away from home,
away from another
shirt, pressed
and clean
hanging in
the closet.
so you go on.
you spend the whole
night
blocking the spot
on your shirt
with your hand, or
a drink, a plate.
something.
how aware we are
of our faults, hoping
to find spots
in others, or to
hide them, to ease
our own.

Friday, July 4, 2014

bring burgers too

you get angry
at a pile of crabs.
you want to smash them
into a million pieces
with the wooden mallet
you've been provided
along with a pair
of pliers and a monkey
wrench,
but you can't.
there is always someone
nearby saying,
no no, let me show
you how, then comes
over with a sharp
clam knife to split
the seasoned slippery
crab down the middle
releasing a glob of
yellow slime, then
snapping off the claws
and yanking out a sliver
of white meat.
there you go, they
say. now you know how.
only ten more to go.
you may starve first.