Sunday, August 31, 2014

some distance

you need
a little space,
arm's length,
not shoulder
to shoulder,
touching.
you need a gap,
some air between
you,
a stone wall,
or fence.
you need
a foot or two
of distance
to be a good
neighbor
or lover,
of friend.

camel girl

camels
do not store
water
in their humps.
it's fat.
not water.
so the idea
of plugging in
a hose
and taking
a drink
wont happen.
they just have
a knack
for going a
long time
without something.
you can relate
to that,
can't you?

the new drones

you get a desperate
call
at three in the morning
from a window
salesman
in Arizona.
I'm on a no
call list you tell
him, how did
you get my number,
and why are you
calling me at this
hour of the night.
well, he says,
you are the only
person in America
who still has not
bought new windows.
you still have those
old wooden ones
that are drafty
and are hard to open.
how do you know that,
you ask him,
sitting up in bed,
looking at the clock.
we have a satellite
photo of your house,
he says. you should
really consider
the new triple
panes, slightly
tinted thermo
dynamic, easy open
and close state of
the art windows.
we have a one time only
offer if you buy
them now and will
throw in a new furnace
that we also see
is very old.
but the furnace is
in the house, in the
basement. we know that
sir, we have small
bumble bee drones
now with cameras.
we know everything there
is to know about you.
by the way, when was
the last time you cleaned
your refrigerator?

bad sex

you prefer
to have no art
hanging on the wall
instead of bad
art.
no pet if it's a
wild and barking
pet that sheds
and isn't house trained.
no girlfriend,
even if she's pretty
who complains
and nags
all the time,
no booze
if it's a rail
bottle,
no food if
it's tasteless
or stale.
you prefer no
sex if it's bad
sex, well, okay,
some compromises
must be made along
the way.

shedding a skin

your friend
Roxanne,
who is covered
in a bright
menagerie
of tattoos,
used to be
a stripper
in a night club.
but during the day
she was a personal
assistant for a
motorcycle gang
called the Pagans,
chapter two.
she says that she
used to cook
them hot meals
when they came
back from a gang
fight, or a drug
deal gone bad,
or a long hard
ride on the road
terrorizing tourists
and women with
babies. she'd sew
up their torn
denim clothes,
and tend to their
wounds,
sometimes trimming
their mustaches
and oily hair.
but she's over
that now. now
she's an x-ray
technician
and works in an
office at the metro
plex. she bakes cookies
and writes
sweet poetry, she's
got some great stories
too.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

the ice age

her cold
shoulder means
little
to you at this point.
it's the other
cold and icy
parts that
concern you.
there is no way
to defrost
that girl.
no personality
anti-freeze,
no hot pill she
can take
to awaken whatever
heat might
lie at the center
of her heart.
you just bundle
up and press on.
staring at the sun
for hope.

how wars begin

one very
tall man slaps
the other tall
man
across
the face with his
open hand.
the game has stopped.
the sound
of the hit
freezes everyone.
blood rushes
out the nose
of the struck man,
while the other
takes a fighter's
stance, ready
for retaliation.
no one moves.
this is how
wars begin.
but it doesn't,
at least not this
time.
the bloodied
man cleans up,
then the game
continues.
you get the feeling
that this is
not over.

your studies

ferocity
and anger is often
due
to a lack
of self
esteem, an
insecurity based
on not being
held or
loved
as a child.
your studies
at the Helsinki
institute
have proven that.
and the fact
that you keep
making all of
this up, proves
what as well?
boredom, perhaps.
a search
for light
in a darkened
world.

the melting ice

the ice
melts in the glass
against
your hand, it
trickles
downward
into what
it used to
be.
no longer
shiny
and cubed,
no longer cold,
but finding
a place
where its most
likely
at home.
let's do
the same.

at one with nature

you are not one
with nature.
in fact you like
your nature
with a paved path
and a coffee
kiosk at
the end of it.
you have no
interest in
climbing that rocky
ravine
or fording a river.
you bring
an emergency
sandwich
with you,
when you cut
through the woods
on your way to
the store.
you worry about
the animals though,
their eyes lighting
up at night
when you swing
a flashlight
out there.
you wonder
where they might
be hiding during
the day
and will they try
to invade your
home at some point
and bite you.


the new torture

the government,
being a kinder and
more gentler nation,
has taken away
the extreme measures
of torture
and abuse. they have come
up with another
plan to get
the captured enemy
to talk and reveal
their secret plans.
they bring in a baby
with a full
diaper and order
them to change it,
without a mask
or gloves. one sick
baby after another
is set before them
on the changing table
until they break
and talk.
it's effective
and nearly fool proof.
you'd give up
your mother under
such adverse conditions.

fashion plate

your father
had a pair of white
shoes, loafers,
that he loved,
there may have
been buckles.
he'd wear
them with shorts
and a matching white
belt.
sometimes he
draped himself in
a plaid
shirt, or a tropical
blouse with
pineapples on
it, or myna birds.
you said nothing,
of course.
the look had been
working for him
for decades,
why stop the fashion
roll that he was on.
now it's your son's
turn to take a shot
at your wardrobe,
such as it is.

the dead mouse

when the cat
brings you a dead
grey
mouse, leaving it
on the steps
for you to find,
you wonder
how different you
are, putting your
briefcase down
upon the table,
taking off your coat,
your shoes, your
tie.

love for sale

the woman
with long legs
and hardly
a stitch on,
leans into your
car window
at three a.m.
and says tiredly
love for sale.
how much, you say.
how much you got,
she says back.
a dollar,
you say.
I spent it all
on dinner and
dessert, wine
and small talk,
now I'm heading home.
too bad, she
says, you should
have seen me
first

the time clock

you remember
the bad jobs.
the bad
bosses.
punching the clock
with your card.
the low wages
and hard
conditions.
how you had
to wait in line
for your check.
how
the sun came
up regardless
of how you felt.
you remember
the callouses
on your hands,
the bruises,
the cuts,
the ache of muscles
at the end
of a day.
the half hour
lunches.
you remember counting
your money,
the hours times
whatever pitiful
amount per
hour you were being
paid, minus
taxes and fica,
minus
fees and penalties
for being young
and unmarried.
you remember it all
like it was yesterday,
but now,
no one would
believe you.


Friday, August 29, 2014

the moon struck night

we never
pondered our future
much
as we rode around
in a dodge
dart
with friends
at the age of 16,
pounding
the dashboard
to in na goda da vida.
i had the drum
solo
down pat, and
then Santana
would come on,
singing about
her evil ways,
and the chorus
in the back seat,
would hit
the high notes,
playing
their air guitars.
we mostly circled
our ten mile
world looking for
stray girls
who might need a
ride somewhere,
anywhere and then
we'd eat,
out of luck
and hungry at
some greasy joint.
occasionally
we'd roll a window
slightly down
and let some air in,
some smoke out.
at some point, we'd
all find our
way home,
tapping the car
farewell as
we went up the sidewalk
in the moon struck
night.

a missing link or two, or three

there are no
fish
with legs.
no birds
with
hands,
no octopus
wearing
glasses
and reading a
book.
there are no
gorillas
painting
the Sistine
chapel
no chimps
writing the great
American
novel.
and yet this
evolution
thing
seems to be
taken
as fact.
you aren't so
sure, you
say, running as
the shoes
fly towards
you.

the math of her

the math
of her is complex.
taking
the chalk
into your hand
you scribble
on the board
and add
the weight
and age of her.
you place
an x and a y
where needed.
you divide by two,
placing
an equal
sign somewhere
close by.
you draw a pyramid.
a sphere.
a cone.
you figure out
the area of
each.
you take the square
root of
her and divide
it by her
moods. you pull out
an abacus
a slide rule,
a scale.
it's impossible
to figure her
out.
there are no
real numbers, no
answer that you
can safely rely
upon.

an answer

everyone is looking
for fair
it's not fair
they say,
this thing that
happened.
why o why
was it me, or her,
or him.
why so young,
so beautiful,
so promising.
but there is
no fair.
it doesn't work
that way.
there is no
rhyme or reason,
that we can
fathom. no justice
that we can
see.
if there was
the priests and yogis
the spiritual
masters
would be running
through
the fields with
an answer.

downtown girl

her radiator
would clunk in
the night.
cold or hot.
it didn't matter.
people in the hallway
would slam
their doors coming
home late.
it would
wake you
up, but not
her. she could
handle loud
noises better
than you could.
the sirens
on the street,
the squabbles
outside
the bar below
her building.
taxis beeping
their horns. even
the animals in
the zoo across the street.
the lion's roar.
she slept soundly.
while you lay there
wide awake,
missing the sparrows
in your tree.

moving on

you used
to see her zig zagging
across the sky
on her broom
writing your name
in black smoke.
surrender it said.
you could
hear her cackling
even from that high
up, see the sun
glistening
on her green skin.
but then she met
someone and got married.
she's glinda now,
the good witch
of the north
and you're so happy
for her, for
you and for all of
those crazy
flying monkeys.

it will change your life

someone gives you
a book. it's a thick
book. a self help book.
a well read
and tattered book,
they obviously
read and reread this
book over
and over.
they've signed
their name inside
and dated it.
it's dog eared
and underlined
with yellow high
lighter.
here, they say, take
this book and read
it. you'll absolutely
love it, keep it,
i have a new copy,
it will change your life,
but it doesn't.
it's new age pablum.
you can't get through
the first ten
pages without
tossing it across
the room
where it lands
in front of the door
that keeps
swinging closed
because the hinge is
loose. the book
has found a home.

i am batman

your son,
when he was four
or five
wore
superhero
costumes all
day.
batman,
spiderman,
the mask,
the cowl and
cape.
the boots.
he would use
a different
voice, depending
on who he
was that day.
at the beach,
in a
grocery store,
people
would stop
him and say hello,
to which he'd
say in a deep
gravely voice.
I am batman.
so now when you
see him on stage
you understand,
this has been
going on for
a very long time.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

the ox

the ox
pulls the plow
through
the sun and rain,
he knows
only where his
feet
must go.
he ignores
the pain
in his shoulders,
the tremble
of his legs
down to his
hooves.
neither for love
or money does
he pull
and split
the hard earth
open.
this is what
he knows.
he pulls
and goes where
his master
wants him
to go

cream

one
dollop of
cream
two lumps
of sugar,
a spoon
to stir
it with it
and your
lips
against
the hot cup.
how
simple
love can
be
in the morning
before
life
starts.

planting seeds

all day
she kneels
in her garden
planting
seeds alone,
her children
have gone off
to gardens
of their
own.

friends

the earth
has
wobbled
making me
nearly
fall off.
I was so
glad you
were nearby
to grab
and hold
onto,
keeping me
aloft.

not funny

you wish
she had a funny
bone.
a sense of mirth
and mischief,
a giggle
or laugh that
would bubble
up
out of nowhere.
just a little
hint
of humor.
a small bite
of sarcasm,
a pie
in the face,
something
like that
would mean
so much.

old clients

an old client
tells you that he is
moving to new Orleans.
if you're ever down
there, look us up,
we'll have plenty of
room, we'll show
you around bourbon
street, we'll go down
into the French quarter
for drinks and food.
sure, you tell him,
as you load up your
truck. it's the last
time you'll work on
his house. twenty
years, now over.
you shake hands.
come visit, he says.
handing you a check.
sure, you tell him,
but both knowing
you'll never see
each other again.
you give the house
a final look as he
closes the door,
then you roll away.

don't worry

don't
worry are not
good words
to hear.
no sweat either,
and if they are
whistling.
run.
run fast.
get out of there.
don't worry
says the doctor.
don't worry
says the priest
don't worry
says the billboard
on the highway.
call
this number
if you're in trouble.
we can help.
don't worry.

still time

it's about
five o'clock.
the sun is still
up. some shadows
falling
about. the leaves
are still
in thee trees
but fading
into yellow
and orange,
some with no
life at all,
a flat brown.
but there's still
time.
still time for
me and you.
still some hours
left on
the clock, but
it's ticking,
it's ticking
it's ticking.

where's the money?

on her
bed, dying,
or feigning death,
one can
never be sure,
your mother
sighs
and takes
your hand
while
your sister
leans towards
her and whispers,
she asks, do you have
any hidden
money. where
is your stash
mom.
this makes
your mother
live a little
longer, sitting
up and taking
in a spoonful
of hospital
tapioca.
the meters jump,
her heart races
and her vital
signs
stabilize,
all the lights
go green
for a while,
until the
next sister
arrives with
her son and his
trombone.

the early years

the boy
in the bmw,
the new car as
red as a fresh
picked cherry,
with his ball cap
on backwards,
the silver
lenses of his
sunglasses
making him
appear to be
from the future.
how he dodges
in and out
of speeding
traffic,
no signal,
no sign, just
his foot
on the pedal
with disregard
for his life
and mine.
so good to be
young
and believe
that death
can't happen.

the next kiss

let's go backwards
start over,
pretend
we never met
that the next
kiss the first
kiss. let's
put the genie
back into
the bottle
and start anew.
you forgive me.
and i'll try,
but I can't
make any promises,
i'll forgive you.

trash day

as you sit here,
wet in a towel,
undressed,
sipping bad
instant coffee
you hear the trash
truck back up
with the beeping
horn, the grinding
of the barrel
metal mouth,
it's engine
straining under
the weight of garbage.
once again it's
trash day and your
bags that sit
in the kitchen
are not going to
make it out.
you would have put
them out last
night, but the mean
witch of a woman
down the street
keeps putting
notes on your door
about the raccoons
getting into
your trash when it
goes out
too early. you can't
even deny it's
your trash because
she sees the empty
vodka bottles and
the torn in half
phone bills with
your name on them,
among other things.

baby world

women
are fascinated
with babies.
even after they've
had a few
of their own.
babies light
them up, make
them giggle
and swoon.
they lean down
into the crib
or stroller
and take inventory
of the little
pink or brown
baby, saying
things like
oh my, he's a
cutie, or
look at those
blue eyes,
the hair on
that kid.
can I hold her?
can I take
her home,
make her mine?
and the mother
is all smiles,
standing there
and thinking, yup.
I made that.

where you stand

button
me up, she says.
leaning down
for you
to find
the infinitely
small
clasp
at the top
of her
dress.
what would
you do if I
wasn't here
to do this,
you ask,
squinting
and finding
the hook.
pulling
the zipper
up
tight
against
her neck.
there would be
someone
else, she says,
without hesitation,
then winks
before waving
and saying
ta ta.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

the news

the news
is not good.
never
good.
since you were
a child
it's war after
war, death
following death,
earth quakes
and floods,
murder
and
politics.
you are full
of bad news,
in black and
white and peacock
color.
you are done
with it.
take your
walter cronkites,
your rathers
and sawyers,
your local
news,
your frenetic
reporters and go
away, find something
good in the world.
look harder.
I'm tired
of turning the other
way.

the christmas tree

you stop
hanging the ornaments
on the tree,
aligning
the lights,
putting the star
at the top.
dropping tinsel
onto the branches.
no matter what
you do it's
not right, it's
an inch or two
to the left or
or right, you're
off.
so you give up
go back to the couch
and stare out
the window
at real stars,
real lights.
and wonder
what love might
really be like.

lint trap

the lint
trap is full.
what is this
thing
called lint.
where is it
coming from.
why is there
always a
big wad
of it stuck
in your belly
button.
what's up
with this lint.
has it always
been a problem
down through
the ages?
did Roosevelt
have his
own personal
lint trap,
st. Peter,
Marilyn Monroe?
I could help
her with that.

the white swan

strange to
see
a single white
swan
in the small
blue lake
beside
the highway.
like
seeing an
angel
fallen from
the clouds.
all wings,
graceful
as it glides
about
the smooth
rippling
sheet of
water, sensing
its own
beauty,
the head held
high,
killing time.

a bag of rice

you have some extra
money lying around
so you go out and buy
one of those new fangled
cars that drive themselves.
all you do is hit
the start button,
type in your destination,
buckle up and off
you go. no braking,
no gas, no turn signals,
nothing to do but
relax, lean back
and maybe have
a chicken dinner,
or read a book.
you love your new car
and all of it's computer
wizardry. but
then you forget to
close the moon roof
one rainy night, or rather
your car forgets and
the entire dashboard
gets wet, which
causes everything to
go haywire. the horn
is beeping.
signals are flashing,
it's going backwards
when it should be
going forward.
in a panic you call up
the dealership,
and chip, the head
mechanic calms you down.
here's what you need to
do, he says. do you
have a garage, or
a giant cardboard
box? or better yet
a big plastic tent?
great, a garage.
fill the garage up
with rice, preferably
white rice, after
pulling the car in
and shutting off
the ignition,
cover the whole car,
the entire car
with rice. keep pouring
and pouring it on
until you can no
longer see any of
the car. now
wait 48 hours.
that should dry out
all those little tiny
computer parts that must
have gotten wet.
do that, and you should
be good to go. if that
doesn't work. drive
it in and we'll have
a look see.

bad hair day

my life is in tatters
maria tells
you in her heavily
accented voice,
Spanish, Italian,
something. she lives
in Miami, perhaps
Cuban. what? you say.
yawning. what happened.
I got caught in the rain
and my power went
out. my hair is
a tangled mess, I have
to go the photo shoot
and I look like
a wild rooster.
you can hear her
breathing heavily,
sobbing, dragging
a brush through her
hair with grunts
and groans.
that's a shame you
say. take a picture
and send it to me.
see what I can figure
out. does your oven
work?

the medicine cabinet

you wake
up and find the
aspirin
bottle. it's next
to the salt
and pepper shaker
and vanilla extract.
three drinks
is a killer these
days.
you rub the sand
out of your eyes
and feel
your face for
bruises.
you try to remember
why she took
a swing at you
then clawed
you like a rabid
raccoon.
you look in
the mirror. it
looks like you
were in a cat fight
and lost.
some cold
water helps a
little.
you slap a palm
full of Neosporin,
which is next
to the foot powder
and cinnamon shaker,
you swab it
over your cheeks
and chin
and use that to
shave with.
you make your sunday
morning vow
to never drink
again with raccoon
women, then make a cup
of coffee,
which is for some
reason
in the refrigerator.

mother of invention

you think
deeply of something
to invent.
scratching your head
as you sit
on the front porch
widdling a stick.
something
easy and fun,
but useful, or
perhaps
not too useful,
something along
the lines
of a pet
rock or a cabbage
doll
baby, the hoola
hoop, or
a slinky.
a yellow smile
button.
something the
world would
buy in droves
because it wouldn't
cost too much.
some piece of
junk that will
make you
stinking rich,
but you got
nothing.
it seems like
all the worthless
stuff has
already been
invented.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

pour me a drink cowboy

you make her a stiff
drink
with the intent
purpose
of getting a kiss,
or perhaps,
the long goal, of
having her clothes
magically fall off
in the middle
of a conversation
about saving
the whales,
but she can
outdrink you,
she's an outlaw,
a witch, she's
rosy the riveter
and joan of arc
all in one.
so by midnight,
she's still wrapped
tighter than
a deep fried egg
roll gone cold
on the plate.
and you, you're
asleep,
snoring soundly
against the dog
with your boots
still on.

reading of the will

how quickly
they circle
high above, black
stripes
that feed
on what is
left behind.
aunt Martha in
her flowered dress.
brother bill
smoking
on the veranda.
a lost son
twitching nervously
in a rented suit.
a neighbor
who once, when you
were ill,
brought you a bowl
of hot soup.
shadows circling
lower and lower,
the beaks
and claws
open for the feast.
and what is left
behind?
everything.

oops!

the doctor
left a sponge in you
the email
says, and we need
for you to come
back in
so that we can
take it out.
it may cause
some issues down
the road
if we don't
remove it soon,
like death, but
it shouldn't take
long since
the stitches are
fresh. we have
to put you under
again,
so don't eat
anything today
or tonight.
and we'll see
you at 9 a.m.
tomorrow.
so sorry. sincerely
your discount
health care provider.
jimmy, and as you
know, we're
in the yellow
van near the mall.

a failure to communicate

your text messages
are too cryptic
she says in a long
three ding message
to me.
you say half a
sentence and leave
me hanging. I don't
know half the time
if you're joking
around or being serious.
if you could just
be a little more
clear and write
in full sentences
we wouldn't be having
this failure to
communicate, to which
makes you reply
in the only you can
by typing.
cool hand luke

it needs to stop

you forgot once
to get your mother in
law
a card on mother in
law day.
you didn't even know
there was a mother
in law day.
it sort of sneaked
up on you.
she hardly spoke to
you for months
for that horrible
infraction,
which you didn't mind
at all.
you can hardly keep
track of flag
day, or arbor day,
or ground hog day.
there are so many of
these days that dot
the calendar.
hallmark is making
a killing on these
dumb holidays.
it needs to stop.

the screen door

the screen
door with a broken
spring used to slam
a hundred and one
times a day.
the bottom corner
was ripped
open by the dogs
which came and went
in small
herds. one following
the other
to the kitchen.
but that door.
slamming over and over
again, was
a constant. bang.
bang and bang again.
your mother screamed
at the top of her
lungs, quit letting
that door slam.
stay in or stay out.
the flies are getting
in. how do you possibly
control seven children
and all of their
friends from letting
the door slam.
you don't.
the day ends and
it finally stops.

you look familiar

it is strange
seeing people out
of context.
the school teacher
in line
with milk
and bread,
a copy of
the enquirer on
the belt.
your neighbor
who you've
only waved to
from a distance
of a hundred
feet
suddenly
next to you
at the post office
buying
stamps
for a small box
she's holding
under her arm.
then there's the
dancer from
the gentlemen's
club
on the other side
of town,
in church
getting communion
not wearing
her heels or
platinum blonde
wig.

monkey bars

there are days
when your wisdom
matches Solomon's,
wise as a hoot
owl in a tall tree,
and there are other
days where you
are a five year
old child
in the playground
hanging upside
down on the monkey
bars over concrete.
you never know
from day to day
who exactly is going
to show up.

under the hood

she had
low mileage on her.
nice
bumpers.
a lean curve
to her body.
a horn
that went beep
when you
pushed it.
the tires
had tread,
the seats had
hardly a stain
upon them.
she was still
smooth in
the turns,
fast on the
straight away.
but you hadn't
looked under
the hood
quite yet,
so the deal
was yet to
be made.

this poem is for you

this poem is for
you.
these words
I've been thinking
about for
a long time.
all night in fact
as I rolled
about dying
from the fumes of
the tub I
tried to
reglaze with a
can of epoxy spray.
this poem is for
you, as I type
in my daze,
my brain cells
evaporating
in the foggy haze
of chemicals
and particles afloat
in the air.
this poem is for
you, while
I sponge bath myself
in the sink,
unable to use
the tub for god
knows how many days.
this poem is for
you, writing down
just one of the many
homeowner mistakes
I have made, with
many more to come.

Monday, August 25, 2014

the late late show

you like
the part in the movie
when the hunchback
of notre dame,
quasimoto,
jumps onto
the ropes
and rings the bells
like a madman,
which he is
with his face turned
sideways,
his ears like
cauliflower,
but he's a sentimental
madman trying to save
his true love
who has been
falsely accused
of murder
and now held in
the bell tower,
and even better
is the part
where he spills
the boiling
oil over the side
onto
the torch bearing
towns folk
down below
who are trying
to use a battering
ram to get inside
to save her too.
it's a mess
of a movie, but
that quasimoto
is something
to be behold.

what say

what say we
go out on the boat
today,
she tells
you from
the porch swing
sipping on a half
mix lemon
and ice tea ade.
what say?
you say. what kind
of language
is that?
I don't think
that's proper grammar.
what say you
just button up
your hatch
and get your boat
shoes on
and sally
forth to the docks
where we can
set sail
on our ship
d'jour.
ship d'jour?
give me a sip
of that drink, you
tell her. how
much vodka did you
put in there?

dog love

you place a bag
of ice
on your
swollen ankle,
raising it up
high
on a tier of
pillows,
perched
on the coffee
table.
the dog comes
over
to lick the
drippings off
your purple
bruise,
and up
the calf
of your leg.
such love
you've never
known before,
but it still
feels weird.

mums the word

your brother
smuggles
bibles into china
and tells
everyone
on face book
and twitter
and instagram
not to breathe
a word
of it to anyone.
this secret
must not leak
out. it's
highly illegal
and he and his
band of merry
evangelists would
spend some time
in a dungeon
eating bugs
somewhere near
the great wall.
so, that said,
mums the word.

three ice cream sandwiches

you don't intend
to eat
three ice cream
sandwiches
in one short sitting,
round on a cookie
bed,
but one sort of
leads to the other,
tasting so good,
which brings me
back to you.
the same holds true.

the idea

it comes to you
while driving.
this idea,
this magical thought
that you will put
down in writing.
it's so strong
and wonderful
that you don't
bother to pull over
and scribble it down
in a note. how could
you forget such a
brilliant thought,
but you do, in
just an hour later,
you sit there,
staring at your fingers,
waiting. your
brain as blank
as a cold sheet
of paper.

green eyed

you've had
the disease of
jealousy.
that sickness
that owns
you. keeps
you on your knees.
wondering
what she's up
to, and with who.
it's a horrible
thing this
illness.
this worry,
this wonder.
you can almost
feel your
soul burning
like a barrel
of leaves.
it's not love,
it's a sickness.
a strange and
powerful disease.

my girl


till this day,
you could,
if pressed, sing
nearly every song
the temptations
ever had a hit with.
you could
swing your
hips around
and clap to
that gospel beat,
snapping
your fingers,
tapping
your hard shoes
against a wet
and deserted street.
things were
different then
on the corner
with your
slicked back
hair
and crooner
friends, singing
under the lamp
posts in
the summer heat.

in the cold

a new lock
on the door
does not accept
your key.
no one answers
when you knock.
no one
peeks
out the curtain
to answer
the bell,
or to see
who stands
there in the cold.
it used
to be so easy
to come and
go, but this
is now
and that was
yesterday,
so long
ago.

the yellow leaf

the first leaf
that falls
is yellow.
you see it tumbling
earthward.
it had a good
run,
from spring
to late august.
it looks almost
happy
in its slow
dance towards
the ground.
if we could be
that graceful
in our own
change of season.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

when dogs ran free

so many dogs
on leashes.
when you were a
kid
dogs ran free.
no collars,
no tags,
no shots, just
happy
dogs dodging
cars
and the wagon
that wanted to
take them
away to put
them to sleep.
no one
picked up
their business
with a plastic
bag,
or carried them
around in
baskets
with ribbons
or scarves around
their necks.
no one sent them
to schools
to learn how to
heel, or beg,
or to have their
hair groomed.
dogs were cowboys
riding
the range.
loyal and lean,
often limping
back in the day
when dogs
ran free.

this radio

your new
clock
has a radio
within.
am
fm.
so many buttons
to figure
out
and push.
the numbers
are red
and brighten
up
the room.
you just
want
to be awakened
by someone
singing
gently
in your ear.
not too much to
ask. but
since
you refuse
to that,
this radio
will have to
do.

in their summer dresses

even now,
at this age
it's hard to turn
your head
away
from a pretty
girl walking
down the street.
but it's
admiration
of an art form
now.
not pursuit
or lust, or
desire. it's
something different.
something
that surprises
you
every time
you look, it took
some time
to get there,
but you've arrived.

grinding on

so many
in bed by 8,
up by 5.
the machinery
of their
lives
grinding on
and on
through the years
of grey
skies.
they live
underwater
swimming
perhaps,
free from it all,
within
their dreams.

it's that simple

where are you going
with all of
this, she asks
you politely.
all this stuff,
you keep writing
about, repeating
yourself. what
are you doing
with your life,
where are you
going?
how do you answer
a question
like that.
you just want to
wake up the next
day and do it all
over again.
stay healthy,
stay fit,
have some money
in your pocket.
find some love
along the way.
some satisfaction
in a job well,
a poem well
written.
you don't want
to hurt anyone
or be hurt by
anyone, you want
a good nights sleep.
what else does
she want to hear?
it's really that
simple.

the weather

the weather girl
is energetic.
her maps
are colorful.
the numbers are
everywhere.
barometric pressures,
and cloud
covers
fronts moving in
showers
and winds.
the land is carved
out in green
and blues
the grid of
latitude
and longitude.
there is everything
you'll ever
need to know about
the weather,
now and tomorrow
they have everything,
but an open window,
and so get
it half right,
most of the time.

adam and eve

eve
and her apple,
shiny and red,
picked
fresh from
the tree
of knowledge.
adam
with his
hand out.
each hungry.
it's hard
to place
blame
when both
are naked
and drinking
tequila.

the island

a soft
place to land,
she is.
an island
of blue skies
and white
sand.
her arms are
warm as they
hold
you. she
is the sunshine
you adore.
the ocean that
rolls up
gently upon
your shore.

hard boiled

these days
she boils
faster
than an egg
in hot water.
that fast
she hardens
and loses
her cool
and cracks.
but
when you
first met
her she
was over easy.
a little
salty,
but nice.

another glass

another glass
of wine.
another
sip, another
cork popped,
a label
wet, a label
ripped. another
glass
of wine and
the world
seems better.
another sip,
another gulp
and the sun slips
away
like a yellow
feather.

charity

you stop
your car and give
a homeless
man a loaf of olive
bread, still warm
from the oven
from the bakery
on the corner.
what's this, he
says. I don't want
this. he seems angry.
which startles you.
of course not
you think, staring
at his large belly,
his full red face.
his dirty hands
trembling
at his side.

the singing bird

a singing bird,
flies
into the window.
seeing what?
himself.
you?
bread on
the table?
his beak cracks
the pane
as he tumbles
to the ground.
you look
out and see him,
woozy, lying there,
trying to get up.
finally he comes
around and flutters
his wings.
rights himself.
he takes a few
hops,
flies off, but
he's no longer
singing.

the car

the first car.
the maroon Camaro.
with baby
moons. six cylinders
of which
maybe four worked.
the radio turned high
as smoke billowed
out of its
rusted tail pipe.
the car that filled
up with water
when it rained.
gallons would slosh
around the trunk.
you drilled a hole
in the bottom,
for a drain.
the car you lost
your virginity in,
the car you
took to the drive-in,
hoping for another
chance, the windows
sweating, her feet
on the dashboard.
the car you drove
to college,
the unbalanced
wheels rattling
your young bones,
your long hair
cascading out the window.
the car you drove
to the ocean city
on your honeymoon,
then drove to the courthouse
six months later
to get the divorce
decree.
the car you brought
your new born son home
in with the car seat,
the stroller, a box
of toys.
the car you picked
up your mother in,
to take her to hospital
and to the senior home
where she waters a plant
in the window,
watching you drive away.
the car you are driving
now. telling you
when to turn,
giving you all the music
that was in the other
cars throughout
the years. the new car
with that new car smell.
heated seats.
hop in let's go
for a spin.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

saving the world

the world
needs more children
skipping
and playing
in the sunshine.
staying out
as late
as they can
to be called
in by loving
parents
when dinner is
ready.
that would solve
so much
of the world's
problems.

the wet cat

you let
a cat in from
the rain.
she's white
and grey.
her fur is
raised
with wetness.
she purrs sweetly,
gratefully
moving her
body against
your leg.
you set a bowl
of milk with a
beaten egg
on the kitchen
floor.
it's what
you would want
if you were
a stray cat
coming out
of the rain
and into
a stranger's door.

rain day

some days you need
to be alone.
you need the rain,
you need a reason
to stay in,
stay under cover,
stay home.
you unplug everything.
you get the books
out, the magazines
you've lagged
behind in reading.
you get out
the dog eared
books of poetry,
knowing that you can
best most,
but not all.
there are kings
and queens you'll
bow to, never
approaching
their grandeur,
wisdom
and panache. some
days you need to be
alone and get busy
with what you do
best.

Friday, August 22, 2014

an art form

the dog
is sad when
you're about to leave.
you see it in
his eyes.
he climbs
into your
suitcase,
curling up
against your
beach clothes.
it's just a week
you tell
him, which makes
him roll over
so that you
can scratch
where he likes
to be scratched.
he wags his
tail, letting
his tongue
drop out
into a dog
smile.
he knows
the drill, your
dog.
having trained
him well
in the art of
guilt.

still water

still water
does not always
run deep.
take this tub
I'm about to sink
into. it's only
a foot of warm
clear water, give
or take an inch
or two.
but it's enough.
and the same
goes for you.
not everyone needs
to be well read,
well coiffed,
polished and
certified with
a diploma.
you know when to
be quiet, something
I haven't learned
to do quite yet.
teach me.

what you do best

your shirt
clings to your wet
skin.
the day is long.
the clock
hardly moves.
you turn down
the radio
and listen to
the quiet
of yourself.
your heart
at work, at home
within,
doing
what you do
best, sweating.

the silver fork

the silver
fork
she carries in
her purse
is a reminder
of another time
and age
when
silver was
everything.
she keeps a
plastic fork now
beside it,
to remind her
of today.

stretched thin

you are stretched thin
like taffy.
pulled in seven
different directions
by seven different
hands and agendas.
you are thin with
being yanked and tugged
upon.
you see others on the street
in a similar situation.
you nod to one another
with your almost
translucent body, saying
hey. yup. me too.

the ride

you need both
hands on the wheel
of her
or off the road
she goes
taking you with
her into a tree
a ditch,
off a cliff
or sideways into
a mountain.
she can't be
trusted with this
car. she's a menace
to herself
and to society.
but it's always
exciting when she
takes you for
a ride.

no news

having lost
track of days
and nights,
busy with work
and what not,
not having seen
the news
local or otherwise
for an entire
week you almost
feel relieved
for not having
seen what took
place around
the world, or
down the street.
no news, being
good news, maybe
you'll try it
again next week
too.

tramps like us

escargot?
she says.
no, you reply.
I prefer
fast food.
what's wrong
with you,
she says.
nothing you
say.
tramps like
us, baby we
were born
to pun.

the tide

there are
things, like
the moon,
full and bright
that pull
you towards it.
it's a subtle
tug, a lunar
tide, but it's
not unlike
you, always
on my mind.

ripping off the bandaid

people
don't normally
come right out
and say, I'm sorry
but I don't love you
anymore.
it's easier
to just find a
box to pack
all of your
loose belongings
in and carry
it to the car,
then say something
like, i'll
get the rest
of my stuff
later, maybe
this weekend when
you aren't around.
to which she'll
say, okay.

no thanks

someone dies
and you are offered
a horse.
you don't want
a horse.
where would you put
it?
then there's
the vet bills,
the oats.
the walking
and riding,
the hosing it down
from flies.
what if it
kicks you when
you walk
behind it.
when you see
a horse you want
to be behind
a fence
maybe a hundred
yards a way
with a gas mask
on.
you don't want
a horse, and so
you say thanks for
the offer, but
no.

phone call

she's angry.
you can
smell it through
the phone.
it may be you,
it may
her neighbor
it might be something
to do with
her car or
work, or perhaps
just the inclement
weather,
but it's you
she's talking to,
you're
in the line of
fire,
cringing on
the other end,
carefully choosing
your words,
and hiding
your sighs.

black and white tv

your grandmother,
while
smoking a
cigarette
and drinking
her tea, biting
into her
cinnamon toast,
with her
false teeth
would watch
liberace
at seven o'clock
in the morning.
she'd shush
you
and the other
kids to
be quiet.
the tv was
black and white
but that didn't
stop the glitter
of the frothy
man to come
through.
even then at
seven
you stood there
with your hands
on your hips,
guns holstered
hat on, you
waited
patiently for
your turn at the
dial
and roy rogers,
or sky king, or
my friend flicka
to come on.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

the only date

you have
coconut cake
icing on your face,
but she says
nothing.
all night you
sit there
with a glob
of white
fluffy icing
attached to
your cheek.
you see it when
you get home
and look in
the mirror.
this makes you
smile,
as does the tissue
paper that
was stuck to her
heel
as you walked
about, at arms
length, to
her car.

the talk

a word or two,
please,
she'd say,
touching
your hand,
politely.
if you have
the time.
smiling,
feathering
the nest of
your talk
as to what's
gone wrong.

the opera singer

she got a job
singing opera
in an Italian
restaurant.
she was loud
and expressive.
waving her arms
about, throwing
herself
into the song.
but the second
you took a bite
of your angel
hair pasta,
there she was,
standing
at your table,
belting out
a shivering note,
making
red sauce
spritz across
your white shirt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the broken shovel

it was cold
that morning.
the blade
of the shovel
broke
as it hit
the ground
under your boot.
there would
be no digging
that day,
which made
you happy,
despite the lack
of pay.

from the sky

from the sky
your house is
a speck.
a mere
puddle
of brick
and wood
stacked
neatly beside
other homes.
there is
a tangle of
grass and
weeds.
a bush that
has a name
you'll
never know.
a roof,
a chimney.
a single chair
in the stamp
of yard
where you read.
people come
and go.
some stay longer
than others.
from the sky
everything
looks
fine.

the message

a dark cloud
of arrows
fill
the sky.
they arc
above you,
pointed
in your
direction.
someone is
sending you
a message.

the lightning

you almost
call her.
almost.
instead
you go to
the window
to watch
the lighting.
how
it snaps
a brilliant
white
against
the darkening
sky.
then the rain
comes.
this too will
pass.

the epiphany

let's stop
and get some donuts
she says to you,
chewing on a wad
of pink gum
and turning
the radio up.
turn that down,
you tell her.
I hate that song.
no, she says.
I love Madonna.
whatever happened to
her. is she dead?
hey, she screams.
look, over there.
a donut shop,
make a u turn.
come on.
let's get a dozen.
the hot sign
is on.
she claps her
hands together
like a seal
as you pull over
and make
a u turn.
it's time maybe
to skew older
you think, as you
drive into
the parking lot
of donut king.

starvation

starving,
you devour
food
in your refrigerator
that normally
you wouldn't touch
with a long
grilling fork.
but, it's been
a long day
and in order
to not faint
and pass out
on the kitchen floor
you eat a cold
slice of
week old
pizza.
you wash it down
with milk,
turned upright
from the plastic
jug, poured
generously into
your dry and
still chewing
mouth.
you've staved
off starvation
for another day.
you'll live.

the storm

the sky
being a bowl
of
thunder
lighting and
rain,
stirred
loudly,
makes our
affection
for one
another
come to life,
keeps us
inside
where our own
storm will
reside.

have a nice day

mistaking
niceness for weakness.
the customer
refuses
to pay you.
so you put a lien
on their house.
you line up
a date
for small claims
court.
it becomes a stone
in your shoe,
this seventeen hundred
and seventy
nine dollars
that they owe you.
there are thieves
who hide
in the shadows,
and there are thieves
who wave
to you and say,
smiling, have
a nice day.

rehab patti

you get into
a slap fight with a
bumble bee.
it won't
leave you alone.
her name
is patti
and ever since
she got out
of rehab,
she has all this
new found
energy.
you're happy
for her, but
now what,
as you dance
like your feet
are on fire
to keep her
at bay.

maybe blue

maybe blue,
she says.
peacock blue,
or azure,
do you know that
color.
or pink.
I can't decide.
but I need
it done
yesterday.
can you start
now.
i'll make
coffee.

around the block

you want
to drive her car.
not literally.
but if her
hands
were the wheel,
her lips
the gas,
the legs
her tires,
and her body
the leather
seats,
well.
around the block
just wouldn't
be enough.

the meal

when your mother
cooked
she
groaned,
she sighed,
each meal
giving birth
again
to her seven
chidren.
she stood at
the stove,
sweat on her
brow.
happy
in her exhaustion,
waiting
for the food
to disappear
before
she sat down.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

the lie

you slow
down
almost to a stop.
your heart
beats
gently
in your chest.
you have
no where to
go
or be, there
is no clock
telling
you that you're
late
or early.
you have
reached
a point
of
bliss.
it has nothing
to do with
you, your absence.
in fact
you are hardly
missed.

food for love

you read where
food has become the new
sex.
a substitute for
love
and affection.
the ├ęclair,
the lobster in
butter,
the chocolate
mousse,
the fish blackened,
the steak
rare.
it's safer
than
being in love.
no one leaves.
no one breaks your
heart.
room service for
one, perhaps
bread
for a start.

her hair

I let my hair
go, she says
turning towards
the light.
I used to be blonde,
platinum, it
fell down
to my waist,
then I went
red. crimson
with curls.
I could turn
any head.
but I tired of
being young,
so this is where I
make my stand.
take me
or leave me,
love or hate me,
but this is
who I am,
every silver strand.

yard work

whenever you talk
to Kimberly
in florida
she's in the yard
sweating out
last night's
tequila,
cutting the grass
under a blazing sun.
you hear the mower
rumbling
beside her.
I'm almost finished
she says,
i'll call you in
a bit. first
I've have to go
remow what I've
already done.
I think it's grown
back.

the peach

if she was
a peach.
she wouldn't
be in
the bowl
for very long.
I tell you
that.

i'm not in

when you were young
and the phone
would ring,
your father would
say, if that's
the president,
tell him I'm not
in. it was old
before it was
old, but how nice
it would be to
hear the phone ring,
and have him say
once again.

victim status

when
your ex wife
filed
for official
victim status
from the U. N.,
seeking help
for all her
troubles
and woes,
it didn't
surprise you
one bit.
nor did
the phone call
at three a.m.
when she bumped
into a bar bell
you left
behind nine years
ago, breaking
her toe.
how could you
do this to me,
she said.
it never ends
with you, does it?

he's sleeping

he may be
dead inside.
it's hard to tell.
you get no scent
of a body
decaying, so
you hope he's
on ice,
or covered in
lime, or
locked tight
inside a freezer.
she closes
the door so
quickly
and so tight,
not a hint
or whiff
escapes.
each window
is sealed
shut, the curtains
taped
together.
you get not even
a glimpse
of what goes on
in that darkened
home.
but she says,
be quiet he's
sleeping.
don't knock or
disturb him.
he's not feeling
well.
his truck never
moves,
and she seems to
be wearing
his clothes,
his gloves
and boots
as the mail man
hands her
another envelope
with is
name on it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

two ships

when are you
coming to bed
she says to you
on the phone.
she's upstairs,
while you are
in the basement
watching television.
this is how
you talk now.
ships passing.
sending signals
by wire, so
close, so far
away.
soon, you tell
her. why?
just wondering
she, says.
that's all.
goodnight.

the third glass

one glass
of wine makes
her happy.
sexy.
fun and lively.
full of
wit charm.
the second
brings a little
rancor
to the table,
some whispered
words of
gossip.
the third glass
brings the house
down.
her irish up
and running.
the room
as well.

the extra key

you keep
a spare key
under a rock
in the front yard,
some use
a plant
pot, or magnet
stuck
behind
a downspout
or under
a metal awning.
we all need
another way
to get in.
I'm searching
now for
the extra key
that fits you,
having
lost the one
you gave me.

the spitting poem

you find it
strange when women
spit. we
men do it all
the time. while
playing sports,
just walking around,
strolling the beach,
or street. when
standing on a balcony
spitting
becomes a contest.
men feel the necessity
to spit. it's some
sort of primitive
instinct passed
down through the eons.
we need to spit,
to find
a curb, a gutter,
a barrel
a sink, or
a urinal.
we just need
to get that extra
saliva out
of our mouths
and into the world.
it's very disgusting.
in fact,
just writing about
it makes me
cringe, but I'm happy
that women rarely
spit.
thank you women,
you non spitters,
and I'm sorry
you had to read
this poem about
spitting.

by leaving

you enter a room
by leaving
another.
this is where
life
takes you.
the coming and
going
is it how works.
you cannot stay
put. the inertia
of the world
makes
you move, on
and on.
when you
leave, others
will take your place,
others will
fill
the void where
you once stood.
you enter a room
by leaving
another.

she's crying again

she's crying again.
you see her
in the kitchen
with her elbows
on the table.
you've learned
the hard way
to leave her alone
when she's like
this. her head
is in her hands,
her face is red,
the part that isn't
covered by her
fingers.
the sobs are deep
and long.
you hope it has
something to do
with her cat
again, or a recipe
gone awry and not you.
but just to be safe,
you quietly
slip out the back
door and go
for a bike ride.

the cannoli

standing at
the kitchen sink,
naked.
the blinds drawn
tight,
you casually eat
a cold cannoli,
one small bite
after another.
a tumbler of milk
in your other
hand. you've been
thinking about
this all day.
you waited
for work to end, then
for the long hot
bath.
drying yourself,
then going down
the steps to
remove the cannoli from
the fridge where
it sat all night
on a small
white plate.
being naked has
very little to do
with any of this,
but you were,
and so you added
it in because
it's what happened.

chickens

your friend
luther worked in a
chicken
slaughterhouse
one summer.
he talked about
the electricity
that stunned
them silent,
the cutting
of the juggler
while the bird
still trembled
half alive,
hanging upside
down on a
wire.
the blood draining
in rivers
along the steel
gutters.
he talked about
how lunch was
free. chicken
all day,
anyway you liked
it. he dwelled
more on this,
than what happened
before and
after lunch,
staring into
his hands,
wondering if they
would ever
feel clean.

dog eat dog

they tell her
to be stronger, be
tough,
be harder.
it's a dog eat
dog world out there.
and she says
I've never seen
a dog eating
a dog, what does
that mean.
and they tell her
it's just an
expression.
it's a way of saying
that life
is hard, be
ready.
the world takes
no prisoners,
and to this she
sighs,
and laughs,
fixes herself some
tea,
then flips
through a magazine
on fashion
and fine cuisine.

his jump shot

before he died,
before they found
what they found
in him,
before
his body
gave way,
before his
eyes closed,
his arms
and legs
withered.
before the pain,
the agony,
before he knew
it was coming
to an end,
he had the
sweetest
jump shot
this side
of any court
you ever played
on with him.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

this flower

she smells
like a flower,
because she is one.
she bends
towards the sun
as you tilt
her with a soft
touch
on the sill.
carefully you
spill some water
where she
needs it.
you touch her
leaves, her
petals.
you hate to leave
her alone,
but she'll be
waiting,
always faithful.
this flower,
for you to come
home.

keep singing

please go on,
you tell the birds
outside
your window.
please, keep
singing.
and you dogs
in the park, it's
fine. keep
barking.
keep filling
my ears
with sounds
I understand.
go on, for I
have tired
of words
that I don't.

the thirst

she doesn't quench
your thirst.
you suspect that
love
will have to do
that. you need
more than a gallon
of affection,
more than
a pound
of flesh. it has
to be more
than that.
something that
can't be weighed
or measured,
or counted.

fish on ice

your son, at five,
points to a chilled
glass box of fish
on ice
at the back
of store. are
they sleeping,
he asks. pointing
his pink finger
at the row
of still soft
shad and trout,
the whiskered
slick cats.
like soldiers
coming home.
it's a very
long sleep you
tell him,
and let it pass
at that.

your demise

you are alone
in this
despite everything
and everyone.
the road is more
narrow
than you'll ever
know.
the night is
darker.
the water more
cold as you go
down.
but be of good
cheer.
all of this comes
tomorrow,
always tomorrow.

changing

in time
things will change.
take those
trees for example
out the window.
full of green.
in a few months
they will change
colors.
they will empty
and be bare, but
still
beautiful in their
grey way.
but we are
different.
we never change.
not really,
despite our own leaves
falling.

saturday pancakes

when you were
married
you were forced
by your wife
at sexual gun point
to join her church.
so you did.
you stood in front
of the congregation
and accepted
the key to the front
door of the church.
it may have been
a symbolic key,
you were never sure,
having not tried to slip
it in and turn
the lock.
the church wanted
you to volunteer.
to sign a sheet a
paper making a commitment
to do things
like make pancakes
at seven o'clock
on a Saturday
morning. to run
a donation bag,
called a saddle bag,
from door to door
all over town.
pestering the flock
for more money.
they wanted you to
paint the church.
wash cars.
sing in the choir.
play softball.
things did not go
well with you and
the church, or you
and her.
both being demanding
and you not liking
pancakes whatsoever.

the balloon

sometimes
the air
leaves the balloon
in a hurry,
preceded
by a loud
popping sound
which can be
you slamming
the door,
other
times, its a slow
bleeding
of air, with
both of us
awake
and turned
the other way.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

the glow

she glowed
at night,
a lamp
lying there
in white.
asleep.
the shine
of her
keeping you
awake
with wonder
and worry.

fruit doctor

the doctor says
that you must have picked
up a bug
somewhere along
the way.
you roll your eyes.
and say, really?
I'm giving you three
hundred
dollars for that
diagnosis. you're
basically fine, he says.
you just need to
get some sleep, drink
fluids, and eat
some fruit. eat
lots of fruit.
as a matter of fact,
we have a nice selection
in the refrigerated
section of the office.
it's on your way
out as you pay your bill
mangos are delicious
this year. so are
oranges and gala apples.
oh, and try the seedless
red grapes.
sweetest ever.

the night shift

the woman next
door comes home
in leather clothing.
thigh high boots.
a black vest.
studded long gloves.
sometimes
she looks tired
from whatever she is
doing in that leather
clothing.
she's wearing
a wig, and make up.
occasionally
she has a small
bag in her hand
with what looks like
a whip or a riding
crop
in the other.
sometimes she'll
wave to you with
said whip, if she sees
you in the window.
she keeps crazy hours,
but she's a good
neighbor.
hardly ever a peep
out of her.
the peeping, you
sort of understand,
is done elsewhere.

the echo

it's too nice
out to stay in,
your mother says.
you kids get out
of the house and go
play. stop watching
that tv
and bickering.
go, go, pick up
your lazy selves
and get out
there.

the poet

you are not from here.
that's obvious.
you are from a place
that others
aren't. you are unique
in your birthplace.
it's a land you can't
go back to. it's not on
any map. you speak
differently. you talk
of strange things.
you remember what
has no point in being
remembered and forget
what should be known.
you are a stranger
from a strange land
and yet you walk
among the natives,
hardly noticed,
you go about your day
amused. you don't
strive for understanding,
instead you observe
and take notes.
this what you are
for here. nothing more,
nothing less.

the old broom

she likes
the old broom.
the bent
and worn out
witches broom
that she
keeps on the front
porch.
hardly a straight
piece of straw
sticks out
at the bend.
where's the broom
I bought you
for Christmas, you
ask her, shaking
your head.
I'm saving it,
she says, for when
this broom
comes to an end.
then she hops aboard
and flies off
in search of
dirt to sweep.

hot and black

some people
make a project
out of their
cup of coffee,
snapping sugars,
stirring,
pouring,
adding this
and that.
they sip and taste
after each
additional
sprinkle
of something
sweet. more
this, more
that. closing
their eyes,
trying
hard to get it
just right.
how jealous
they are of those
who leave
so quickly,
with just hot
and black.

a new earth

staring into
their telescopes
the astronomers want
so badly
to find a livable
planet.
this one having
lost its charm
and use.
there has to be
just one. they say
to each other as
they scan the skies
swinging
the long lenses
from star to star.
look over there,
one of them says,
pointing,
have we looked there
yet?

it's not me

a man
who looks like
you
stares back
from
the mirror.
but it's not
you.
you are younger,
and taller,
you have
more hair,
less wrinkles.
you don't look
anything like
that.
you try to
ignore this
stranger,
but he refuses
to look or
go away. you
have no choice
but to live
with him,
and him with you,
whoever that
might be
today.

don't go in there

don't go
in there.
that closet is
off limits.
it's where
I keep
the skeletons,
the secrets.
the poems
that never
get read,
the things
i'll never say
or do.
don't go in
there.
the light is
dark.
there are
things in there
that will
cut and harm
you.
leave that knob
unturned.
don't go
in there.

Friday, August 15, 2014

traveling

part of traveling
is telling people
weeks in advance
that you will be
traveling,
whether to Istanbul,
Australia,
or perhaps even
France.
you will tell them
when your flight
leaves, or when
the ship sets sail.
you'll tell them
what you've eaten,
how well you slept.
you'll inform them
of Tuscany and how
you could live there
for the rest of
your life. how the air
is different, a
strange hue of blue.
how the next time,
you must come too
and stay in a villa
where you could
both learn how to
really cook pasta,
and you could sit
by the window and
stare at the olive
trees and write.
part of traveling
is coming home.
telling someone when
to pick you up.
letting them know
how much fun it was
and you can't
wait to go back.
part of traveling is
showing everyone alive
that you know
the pictures of your
trip, the vase you
bought, pointing
at a thin, hardly
noticeable hairline
crack and saying.
it's still beautiful.

the manager

the old
lady, pushing her
steel cart,
waiting
in the sun
for the bus
to arrive,
says hello
to you.
you say hello
back.
she tells you
that she used
to work at
Garfinkle's
downtown when
she was younger.
I was the manager,
she says.
her blue eyes
catching sunlight.
they are as blue
as melting ice.
the bus arrives.
she gets on
and leaves
without saying
a word more.

frozen chicken

you could just
throw the chicken away
when you
buy it. toss it into
the trash can
as you leave the store,
but no.
you prefer to take it
home, let it sit around
in the refrigerator
for a few days, then
not cook it. right
before it goes bad
you'll wrap it then put
it in the freezer
with the other
chicken legs, thighs,
wings and breasts
you've saved over
the years.
sometimes you'll
open the freezer door
for ice, and stare
at the wrapped packages
trying to remember
what it is,
then say, oh, right.
chicken.

it's friday

you rally yourself
up and out
of bed. having
laid there for over
an hour
staring at the ceiling
and thinking
of ginger.
you say
a quiet prayer
that it's Friday.
you check the calendar
on your phone
to make sure
that it is.
it is. you do
a little dance
in the bedroom,
circling madly,
throwing your
hands into the air.
the dog stares at
you then crawls back
under the blankets.
you smile and get
dressed.
you put the coffee
on. you open
up a window
and yell out.
it's Friday
everyone. rejoice.
rejoice. it's
Friday you miserable
working drones.
it's Friday.

mismatched hell

she tells
you all about
her digestive
system, what she
can eat
and what she
can't.
you sip your drink,
and nod
politely.
a minute
has become an
hour.
you are thirty
feet from
the door, but
you don't know
how to get
there
without her
seeing you leave.
I can't eat
peanut butter
she says,
sipping her club
soda.
or red meat.
or anything with
oils
in it.
goes right through
me.
I ate some pizza
the other day
and spent ten hours
in the bathroom.
you cringe
and rub your forehead,
you are in
mismatched hell.

the different girl

she writes
with an ink pen,
dipping
it into her ink
well, writing
slowly
in script across
the paper.
she has an oil
lamp,
a butter
churn and a horse
in the yard.
she keeps
her prairie dress
pulled up tight
around her
neck, falling
to the floor
to cover her
black boots.
when she's hungry
she milks her
cow, gathers
eggs,
and pulls
a potato from
the ground.
she laughs when you
ask her where
the tv is so
that you can
watch the game.
she's different
like that. it's
going to be a long
winter.

the small fire

no matter
how small
or large the fire,
the firemen
turn on
the siren full
blast,
they run the screaming
red truck
up the highway
at full throttle,
hanging on to
the back with one
hand. bravely
going into
the flames.
most of the time
it's
nothing more
than a pile
of leaves
in a barrel
burning, but it
doesn't matter.
nothing is taken
lightly
when it comes to
fire.

the salesman

mistakes are made.
things are said
that you wish you
could take back.
white lies, black
lies. you evade
the truth, embrace
the shadow world.
you go door to
door with your
satchel of goods.
ringing the bell
with a smile.
trying to get
your foot into
the door, but
keeping your eye
on the back door
for a quick exit.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

going viral

your look familiar
the woman
behind the counter
says.
were you ever in any
movies?
are you an actor,
you look sooo familiar.
you look away
blushing,
and say quietly,
well, perhaps a few.
but they were home
movies that somehow
went viral on
the internet.
yes, yes. she says,
as she bags your
groceries. I knew
it was you. make
that dolphin noise
for me, would you.
I just love it when you
do that in the clip.
please, please. I can't
wait to tell all my
friends that I met
you. do the dolphin
noise. so you do it
for her as best
you can in your high
pitched dolphin voice.

blending in

starving
for attention you
put on your lime
green work out
shirt with white
polka dots
and your orange
running shoes.
you put on
a purple hat
just to add
a splash of color.
years ago,
you might look
like a circus
clown walking down
the street,
but these days
you blend in like
a grey flannel suit.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

giddy up

while
smoking an electronic
cigarette,
blowing blue
vapors into
the sky and
riding a plastic
horse
on the carousel
you tip
your hat to a lady
walking by
and say,
howdy ma'am.
you ain't from
around here,
are you?
you slap your
palomino steed
hard on the side,
almost
hurting your hand,
and say
giddy up.
about thirty
seconds later,
you come back
around and smile
as the same
woman takes
your picture
with her phone
and winks at you.
you should have been
a cowboy
a long time ago.

the express line

bananas.
help
is required for
this item.
bread.
help is required
for this item
milk.
help is required
for this item.
eggs.
help is required
for this
item.
gala apples.
help is required
for this item.
detergent.
help is required
for this item.
wine.
help is required
for this item.
please remove
all items from
the belt and start
again.
help is on the way.
cash only.

a story

sometimes
the story
has a happy ending.
sometimes not.
there is usually
a hero
and a villain,
a damsel
in distress,
which would be
you.
I haven't quite
decided who
I am yet.
but it's more
complicated
than that
and too soon
to tell
if the tale
will be memorable
or easy
to forget.

the cool sea

a languid orange
sun
freshly
squeezed
along
the horizon
slips
slowly into
the arms
of a cool
sea.
just how I
like to end
the day with
you.

who pays

she's interested
in dating,
finally, she says,
she's ready to
go online
to find her match.
the first question
she asks,
is who pays,
who pays for dinner
and drinks.
and you tell
her that most women
run to the bathroom
when the check
arrives,
they carry no
cash, or leave
their credit
cards in the car.
as soon as the waiter
carries that
little black
book to the table
they get up
and run
towards the rest room
whether they
have to go or not.
she writes this down.
do I let him
open the door
for me?
sure, you say,
why not?

down sizing

nervous now
after divorce
and
without
the enormous
house
and yard,
the blue pool.
the country club
gate
now locked
tight.
sitting in
her condo
with the large
tv
against the wall,
the dried flowers
bunched
together in a
vase,
watching
the view,
she selects
wallpaper
for a powder
room where you
have
to muscle
the door open
because
the frame
is bent
and you must turn
the knob
hard to the left,
then right.

ships coming in

the harbor
is full ships.
tall white
sails angled
just so
to let the wind
bring them in.
on the shore
people
wait, some
with open arms,
others in
prayer. whether
for love
or fortune,
hoping that one
of these
ships is theirs.

the phone

some people
are always
on the phone.
staring at the phone,
pressing
buttons.
at dinner
with friends,
in the bathroom.
driving.
walking,
drinking.
the phone is
the most interesting
thing in
their lives.
how it glows.
how it makes
noise. how it
sparkles
in the light.
it is what
the plastic mobile is
to an infant,
hanging over
the crib, an
endless source
of meaningless
delight.

the big rug

you take
the big area rug
out back
and throw
it against
the fence.
then you take
a broom
and beat it
senseless
separating
the dust and dirt
in a cloud
of grey.
you take an extra
whack or
two, maybe three
even after
it's clean.
you aren't sure
why. but it
feels good.

no laughing matter

it's hard
to imagine
a world without
laughter.
without
a sense
of wicked
humor, or sly
double entendres.
a world
lacking in
smirks
and silly
nonsense.
a punless place.
a bed
without soft
sarcasm
or rolling
of eyes,
a world
without a
punch line, but
she manages
to live there
just fine.

with each passing day

you know
less
with each
passing day.
with each
page
turned
in a book
or calendar.
your knowledge
is fading
of what
this world
means, not
just to you,
but others
as well,
and those
soon to be
caught up
in the clouds,
afraid
to let go.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

it's easy

what spurs
many writers on
is when they read
something,
whether fiction
or poetry
and say loudly,
I could do that.
it's simple,
it's easy. just
put down in words
how you feel
and let it go
at that.
it's how you got
started.
thinking that
this was easy,
and yes, sometimes
it is, and other
times you have no
idea who you are
or where you're at.

monkey business

someone says
to you
that a monkey
could do your job.
you can be
replaced
in a heartbeat,
and you
agree,
grabbing a
banana and swinging
from a low
branch on
the tree.

look, cows...

sometimes
you feel as if
you are studying
for an exam
when you are around
her. ready
to be quizzed on
what she just said
as you stare out
the car window
at cows
in a field
over yonder.
are you even listening
to me, she'll
say.
to which you'll
respond. I like
cows.
how peaceful they
seem to be
standing out there
chewing
grass all day.
what a nice life
they have.
to which she'll
respond, I don't even
know why I try to hold
a conversation
with you,
to which you reply.
me either, should
we stop and get
some lunch?

with pen in hand

I was writing a letter
the other day,
but forgot how to form
words using
a pen with my hand
moving it across
the paper. despite
all of my catholic
school upbringing
in penmanship, with
my knuckles being
bloodied
by the penguin nuns,
now it looked
like chicken scratch.
my right hand and left
hand had found
equality. neither
having the skill
to make a legible
sentence.
but the person I
was writing to
had no computer,
and they didn't text.
so the only way to
communicate was by
scribbling this note
by hand and dropping it
into a mail box.
the end must be near.

musical notes

banjo music
just doesn't melt
your butter,
nor does the harpsichord
or someone playing
a washboard
or a pair of
spoons, banging
them against
their hands or
legs. bagpipes.
shoot me.
you don't like
instruments made
from things
rusting in
the garage.
like bedsprings
from grannie's
old mattress,
or things like
empty bottles.
that guy in old
town playing
the crystal glasses
full of water,
rubbing his
fingers around
the rims, playing
beethoven
you want to knock
the table over.
not really, but it
might cross
your mind.

hot sauce girl

she liked
to put hot sauce
on everything.
potatoes,
eggs,
chicken
and fish.
she carried
a bottle of
tabasco
in her purse
in case
the restaurant
didn't have
any.
sometimes when
you kissed
her your lips
and tongue
would feel like
they were on
fire, but
you didn't
mind.
you didn't mind
at all as
long as you
had some ice
water near by.

anxious for nothing

be anxious
for nothing
St. Paul
proposes
time and time
again.
be still
and wait, be
thankful,
be grateful.
he obviously
never had to have
his plates
renewed
at the dmv.

the summer trees

how lush
the trees are
this time of year.
thick
with green,
as ripe
and mature in
leaves
as they can
be. not one
leaf turned,
not one branch
tired
of holding up
what summer
brings. but
how quickly it
can change,
this thing
called love
when a chill
sets in.

sugar

a line
of ants have
discovered
the spilled
sugar.
one by one
in their
shiny
black armor
they carry
a boulder
of the white
grain
back to where
they came
from.
they are
tirelessly
in their
task.
it's good to
have work,
to have sugar.

Monday, August 11, 2014

thin ice

the boy
who fell through
the ice
wasn't
you.
you talked
yourself
out of sliding
across
the blue white
sheet
of glazed
water
and instead
tossed
the largest
rock you could
find
to see if it
would break
through and sink.
it did.
you keeping
throwing rocks
even now
having learned
the lesson well.

egg shells

the stain
won't rub out
of the white
rug.
it might be
wine,
or berries
or even
blood, now
that would
be a more
interesting story.
a mystery
to be solved. but
by living alone
you've
eliminated
such mysteries.
you know
every spill,
every dust ball
that rolls
beneath your bed.
you know
why the sink
needs soap
or the tub needs
a scrub.
there's an
eggshell too,
that you'll
eventually get
to on the kitchen
counter.

stray dogs

stray dogs
keep
moving, keep
at it
without love.
from street
to street,
no leash
no collar, no
bowl with
a name
on it or someone
to rub
their bellies
by a fire.
no shots, no
standing
on a scale,
no pills stuffed
into a spoon
full of peanut
butter.
stray dogs
don't need
anyone, they
just keep
moving, dodging
the cars,
dodging
the net,
howling at
the moon,
more alive
than you'll
ever be.

one bathroom

there were seven kids
each separated
by a year or so.
ten years
from the youngest
to the oldest.
there was one
bathroom, so
the line
was long and slow
and contentious.
you remember
the paint rubbed
off the door
at different levels
where each one
could reach
and bang their
little fists
hoping to speed
up whatever
was going on
behind the locked
door. how
wonderful it was
that the door
had a little
push button lock
which you would click
the second
you got in there.
sometimes
you'd take in
a box of soldiers
and boats,
tanks
and guns, filling
the tub.
playing out world
war two, and possibly
three
long after the water
got cold,
and the banging
stopped on
the door.

living large

you lived
on crackers and cheese,
bologna
cut into thick
slices
and laid
down on a bed
of white
bread with a squirt
of mustard
as a kid.
whole milk
and oreo cookies
when you
could get them.
on thanksgiving
the church
left a basket of
food
on the porch.
a twenty pound
turkey. all of
which made your
mother cry
as she turned
on the oven
and boiled potatoes.
you may have been
six feet tall
had you eaten one
nutritious meal
between the ages
of ten
and fifteen.
but you survived.
there were
always an apple
or cherry tree
nearby, or
an unattended
tray
of pastries
at the local
drugstore with
which to raid.

the red ball

a kid
out in front
of the house
is trying to set
a record
for bouncing
a ball in one
place.
you look out
the window
and see him
staring
at the sidewalk
and the red
ball
hitting
his hand
and bouncing
down
then back up
again. he is
in a trance.
his ten short
years being
punctuated by this
task
of bouncing
the ball
until finally
a woman's voice
screams
out of a window.
jack, stop
bouncing that
ball and come
in for dinner.
which he does
after kicking
the ball
down the street
with his short
fat leg.

poetry and legs

she wants to show
you her poetry.
you want to see
her legs.
but you can't
tell her
that, so you
tell her that
yes, you'd love
to see what
she's written.
and the more
you think about it,
the more
you'd like to
see both legs
and a poem
or two, if she
cares to share.

the lemon sun

the earth
is flat.
the moon
is blue
cheese
unwrapped.
the sun
is a lemon
wanting to
be squeezed.
me too.

the diamond stars

there is a point
to all
of this.
i refuse to
not believe that.
i just haven't
placed
a finger
on what it is exactly.
so mean time,
during my
existential
confusion why don't
you come
over
and play scrabble,
eat pizza,
lounge around
on the couch.
watch tv
until the wee
hours of the morning.
drink martinis
and stare
out the window
at the diamond
stars.

one summer night

a moon
swims by
and takes you
with it.
grabbing
your heart.
it's more
white than silver.
more full
of romance
than any novel
or poem could
ever hope to hold.
the moon
is all you need
in a lover
or friend.
its shine is
enormous.
it waters your eyes.
fills your
lungs with
its soft milky light.
the moon is
everything.
at least for now,
for this one
summer night.

change of seasons

the slightest
chill
in the air
brings out the coats
and gloves
in some people.
they rub
their hands
together
when the temperature
hits
50.
some shiver,
some start stacking
wood.
but you on
the other hand
take your shirt
off and go lie
in the grass,
extending
the season.
it's not over yet.

making a list

when the list
gets
too long. when
too much
thought
goes into writing
down all the things
that have
fallen apart
and gone wrong.
it's best
to not make a
list, or just
write it out,
then toss it into
a nice
raging fire,
never to be seen,
or read
by anyone,
especially her.

letting her sleep

the angle
of
the sun
is such that
it carves
a white path
across the bed
where she sleeps.
you don't
want to wake
her, so you
pack your bags
quietly,
grab your shoes,
your coat
and hat,
you tip toe
down the steps.
when you get
out to the car
you unfold
a map, close
your eyes
and point
to a random
spot you've
never been to.
you drive away.
you let her sleep.

the big climb


walking down
the street with
your groceries
you see
a flight of stairs,
maybe twenty
concrete
steps leading
up to the doors
of a grey
concrete
building.
you decide
to climb them.
for no other reason
than because
they are there.
you see a young
man
coming up the street,
wearing a turban,
and holding
a goat by a rope.
politely you ask
him, holding out
a dollar bill
if he could
carry your bags
up, to essentially
be your Sherpa.
he nods yes.
and up you both go.
the goat too.
him first with
your bags
of milk and eggs.
when he reaches
the top he pulls
you up the final
steps
and you give him
another dollar.
the goat lets out
a mild baying noise.
you have reached
the summit.