Tuesday, September 30, 2014

practice

they took
the cat
and put it in
a shoe box.
it was a small
cat.
black and white.
the father
took a shovel
and together
with his children
and wife
they went
to the edge
of the yard
where the old
trees were
full and thick.
they said
a few words.
they buried
the cat, throwing
dirt onto
the box.
no one cried.
there would be
burials to come
for that.

on the high wire

your life
as a trapeze
artist is coming
to an end.
you've aged.
your balance
is not what it
used to be.
you wobble
on the high wire,
you can barely
climb
the rope ladder
to begin your
act.
they wait for
you to fall.
they stand
and gasp as you
begin your
walk on bended
knees.
you know it's
time to quit,
but it's what
you do. what
gives you joy,
it's impossible
to stop. so out
you go, one bare
foot in front
of the other,
between heaven and
earth is where
you live.

one more kiss

an extra
pillow can mean
everything
to a good's night
sleep,
as an extra kiss
can mean
so much at the start
of a day.
just one more
please, before
you leave.

the beginning

i see by
those dark circles
under your eyes,
that you are tired,
that you haven't
slept well
lately.
you seem to be under
a lot of stress.
the work load
you've taken on
is tremendous.
you have to pace
your self.
meditate, breathe.
keep the little
child alive in
you and you'll
be okay. okay?
i have to warn
you though, once
you get out of
kindergarten it
gets even worse.
now strap your back
pack on, and run.
you're going to
miss the bus.

the double session

I understand now,
you tell
your therapist as he
rings up
the cash register
and slams
the drawer shut.
you don't want
me to get better
do you. you just
want my money to
buy things with.
what progress have
we made.
we're still talking
about the time my
mother forgot
my birthday.
no one ever gets
better. you just
drain us dry
until we never
come back or
get better insurance.
now, now, he says.
calm down,
here sit back down.
let me get you
a tissue. water?
double sessions
are half off this
week. so when is
your birthday?

sticky

why is everything
so sticky.
my shoes
make a sucking
noise
when walking
across
the floor.
the windows
are stuck, swollen
with this
heat and rain.
I've got a penny
and a nickel
clinging
to my leg.
one eye lid
won't shut.
that spoon
won't leave
the counter, like
a bad sculpture
on
the streets
of Arlington.
even the animals
in the woods
are
plodding
through the muck.

almost perfect

you'll have
to meet her, your friend
says.
she's perfect for you.
you two are so
much alike,
so different
and so right for
one another.
she likes to read.
she likes to write.
she likes
the beach,
she hates to hike.
she's got legs up
to here, he says,
holding his
hand at his shoulder.
she once ate an
entire box
of cookies
in the middle
of the night.
lovely you say.
chocolate chip?
no, I think they
were oatmeal,
he says.
forget it, you
say, who else
you got.

blue bird

the parakeet
falls
off the swing
with hardly a sigh.
she's a glistening
blue
chalk of feathers.
black
peppered eyes.
she never
did sing,
she never did
fly.
but she was
pretty
in her cage,
upon the swing
pecking
at her own
image in the
small mirror
hitched inside.

panning for gold

on your knees
you kneel
by the stream
that rolls
down
the mountain.
your hands
hold the pan
as it sifts
what comes.
you grow
old on
the mountain
with
only flecks
of gold
to show for
your patience.
the big nugget
never comes.
just like they
told you,
when you were
cheerful,
when you
were young.

Monday, September 29, 2014

inbetween love

between
love, you drift.
your boat
slips
out without
oar
or motor,
no sail aloft
to let
the wind take
you.
there is no
map, no
sextant
to guide you.
the water
carries you
where it wants
to go.
there is nothing
you can do,
but enjoy
the scenery,
and rest.

sweet and sour

she was
the poster
child
for grape fruit.
not the sweet
kind,
but the sour
ones,
that made your
mouth twist
into the shape
of a knotted
rope.
one bite, with
or without
seed
made you cringe,
and spit.
begging
for someone
sweet to kiss.

the snow prayer

as a child
you believed
in snow.
its whiteness,
its crystalline
cold.
its ability
to cover
without
a thought
everything it
touched.
though some
spots were
reluctant
to let it be
so, in time
though
even they gave in
to its persistent
falling,
and brought
the world to
a stop under
its wintry
glow. you believed
in snow.
you still do.

going on

how easy
kindness cuts
through
the shadow
on your heart.
a word
or two
spoken
softly,
a hand laid
gently
on your arm,
a small
light goes
on,
when knowing
you don't
go on alone.

the thirst

the camel
goes long and far
without
a drink.
without so much
as a sip
of water.
trudging
down the slopes
of sand
under the white
sun.
across
the dunes,
down the flat
plains,
patient with his
dry mouth.
knowing
where the well
is, where
the water lies.
our thirsts are
so different.

the end

you knew
the second that you
criticized
this person,
that they would go
dark
and cold. silent.
you knew that when you
turned the light
on them,
speaking the truth,
that they were gone.
you knew that it
would be the end
of your time
together. you knew
for so long
that it would go
this way.
it was a matter
of time before you
could no longer
hold your tongue.
you knew how it would
go, how it
would end and so it did.

soft landing

that yellow
leaf
is about to fall.
it's tender
veins,
thin
on the tip
of a branch.
everything
will
sooner or later
go down.
you can
only hope for
a soft landing.


what to do

you could
do a lot with your
free time
this afternoon.
those books that sit
on the counter,
the words
you need to write.
there are things
that need cleaning.
the yard, always
the yard, could
use a shearing down
of it's out
of control blight.
there are lots
of things you
could do with this
free time.
but only the nap
on this cloudy
afternoon
seems right.

the move

the for sale
sign
planted
in the yard
gives
notice
that you are
leaving.
you have already
wrapped
the china
in paper,
marked the open
boxes.
kitchen,
bedroom, cellar.
you've thrown
away
everything you
don't want
to take with you.
the washer
and dryer
will convey,
as will you,
if you decide
to not come with
me, and stay.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

the light

the light flickers
on and off,
but you don't
take it as
a portent
of things to come.
darkness has
its own
schedule. there
is little
you can do, but
accept it when
it arrives
wrapping it's
large cold arms
around you.
it's just
a loose wire,
the light is fine,
you hope.

winter blues

winter,
by month three,
deep into
the dark throes
of February
bores you.
enough you scream.
all the books
have been read,
the movies watched.
the stews
eaten. even
the Christmas candy
is gone.
the shovel
sits in
the hall next
to the bag of
salt.
your spot in
the lot has been
carved out
a dozen times.
the thrill
is gone.
let march arrive
with her
howling winds
and pretend
spring. you
cheer each flower
that opens
it's pretty
face.

the well is dry

the well
is dry.
the bucket
drops
down the cylinder
of bricks
and echoes
at the bottom
when striking
rock.
there is no
more
water.
the land is
dry.
you wipe
your mouth with
your sleeve
and look upwards
to an empty
blue sunned
sky.
it's time
for church you
tell
your wife.
get the kids
in the wagon.

chicken dinner

your mother knew how
to cook
a chicken.
feeding seven
kids
with one chicken
was a testament
to her culinary skills.
roasted, stuffed.
baked, grilled,
barbequed
and shredded
into a casserole.
not to mention
soup. add some
noodles, some
carrots. a loaf
of wonder bread
and you'd be filled.
that chicken would
be cleaned
down to the bone,
and she'd be
sitting there sweating,
thinking about
tomorrows dinner.

organic annie

do you have
any distilled water,
bottled and cold
from a
mountain spring,
annie asks, as she
lies on the couch
like Cleopatra
in running shorts.
no. you say, but
if you go over
to the sink
and turn the faucet
to the left,
you'll have water.
what about an
organic piece of
fruit, an apple,
or a banana,
something scrubbed
clean, and local?
you throw her a
head of iceberg
lettuce from
guatemala, and say,
this will have
to hold you
until we go
to lunch.

pay the man

you are not
good around plumbing,
or wires,
a flood
occurs
or you get shocked
at some point,
touching a loose
hot wire,
unscrewing
a pipe that
should have
been left alone.
you know your
limitations.
you can't live
without water, or
light.
it's better to
pay the man.
a lesson learned
more than
twice,
the hard way.

the window seat

someone
who looks like
someone
you used to know
sits
beside you
on the train.
do I know you,
you ask her,
folding
your newspaper
up to see
her face.
yes, she says.
we were married
once in
the eighties.
oh, right you
say, right.
I remember now.
we had a house
and a cat.
whatever happened
to that cat.
dead, she says.
liver disease.
oh that's too bad.
she was old,
she says, she had
a good run.
like us? you say.
not really she
says. do you mind
if I change
seats with you,
and move
over there,
by the window.
please. go right
ahead, you say.
you've changed
she says. you've
changed.

i do

I do
the bride
says on opening
day.
as the rice
gets tossed,
the cake
cut and the music
plays.
I do. I do.
I do.
spin forward
a few years
or so,
maybe a decade.
and then
it's all
I don't, I
don't, I don't,
much to his
dismay.

tree hugging

the tree
hugger in the red
wood forest
was having
a problem
with the eighty
five foot
around
sequoia, so
you opened
your arms
to her and said,
what about
me, to which
she said,
brushing you
aside for
a maple. no
thanks,
you're not a
tree.

the pretty flowers

she makes
you cry.
your eyes water.
you sneeze,
you sob.
you itch.
you can barely
breathe.
how can such
a pretty flower
like this
bring you
to your knees,
oh, the pretty
flowers
you have seen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

more careful

you are more
careful now.
down the steps
in the dark.
when it's wet
outside.
you watch your
step.
you grab
the rail. you
are not old
you tell
yourself.
just wiser,
more careful
with your bones.

the good days

you savor
the good days.
the good sleep.
the welcome
arms of a lover
who believes
in you.
and you in her.
it's the simple
touch of
hand on hand.
the kiss goodbye,
the kiss
hello.
you savor these
simple things.
the quiet
of life when in
love.

unopened

you bought a gift
for her
birthday.
a wonderful gift,
wrapped in
silver paper,
a red ribbon
around the box.
you wanted to see
the look in
her ireland eyes
when she opened
it, unable to
say a word,
speechless at how
nice a gift it
was. but she'll
never know.
she's moved on
to another
point of view,
someone
with a different
gift, not
the one from you.

the anger

it's sad
the anger someone
holds,
whether sibling
or friend.
unable to forgive
and move on.
holding the grudge
like a hot
a coal
to their chest
unable
to let go.
but it's not
you who's
in pain by
their absence,
but them,
determined
to keep it
all to themselves.

the game

it's a mix
of old
and young men
on the court
under
the haze of
sun, or cold.
the fifty degree
rule in effect
until ice
comes.
the decades
pass.
the shots fall
or clank
against the old
orange rims.
it's hard
to imagine
a Saturday
morning without
it, without
them,
or you being
present.
no calls are made,
no e mails
sent.
everyone
knows the time,
everyone knows
when
there is a game,
and so it goes.

a good witch

witches don't
scare
you anymore.
not the green kind,
or the pale
white ones
either.
you've seen them
all by now.
in their black
floppy hats,
on their brooms.
at their pots
boiling
up a brew.
you've handled
all their
curses and spells.
there's nothing
they can throw
at you now,
that will harm
you, or change
your mood from
well to ill.
you're done with
the wicked
witches, you need
a good one
now. for once.

the no answer

you remember
the dust bowl years.
how your farm
dried up
into silt and sand.
the horses
dead on their feet.
the tumbleweed
of souls
heading west.
hats tilted to
block the sun
and dirt winds.
you remember waiting
for rain.
waiting
for the skies to close
and break
with a storm.
you remember
seeing the land
go flat and grey.
your children's eyes
growing large
as their bodies
shrank. staring
at that last can
of peaches.
you remember
being on your knees
and praying
for an answer
and that answer
being no, again
and again.

mountain texting

the woman
who fell off the mountain
while on
her fifty mile
run
was not missed
for several hours.
everyone being so
exhausted, but
plowing upward
with their heads down,
but when they did
a head count
at the top of
peak, she didn't
answer. there was no
Susie.
everyone looked
around for her.
Susie, they yelled
out. Susie.
on the way down
they searched the shrubs,
the gullies
and crevices,
still no sign of her
until they reached
the narrow ledge where
they had to go one
by one
around the rocky
bend. there she is,
someone shouted.
I can see her yellow
hat, and matching
yellow shirt
and shoes.
and I'm pretty sure
that's her phone in
her hand. it's blinking,
I think she's
got a message.

the test

I want you to take
this test to find out
what your personality
is, she says, pushing
a pile of papers
in front of you with
a sharpened number two
pencil. go ahead.
i'll give you some time.
it will help us
understand one another
better, so that we
can have a more
fulfilling and lasting
relationship.
think through your
answers and be honest.
no, you tell her,
pushing the papers
back, but keeping
the pencil. you like
new sharpened pencils
and put it behind
your ear in a scholarly
manner.
I have the kind of
personality that doesn't
like to take these
kind of phony baloney
tests. you tell her.
you know who
I am, so forget about
it. let's go get
some ice cream.
the flavor you pick
will tell me who you are.

Friday, September 26, 2014

the postcard

the postcard
is from france
you see by the stamp
on the back.
on the front
is a Picasso
painting.
trombones
and cellos,
squared women
naked
with detached
elbows. muted
greens,
bottle blues.
it says, are we still
friends. B.
no love,
no I miss you
sweet prince.
no tender thoughts
of any sort.
just a question,
are we still
friends.
you turn the card
over, then again.
it makes
you smile and nod
yes towards
the sea.

the dead mouse

the cat
brings the dead
mouse,
hanging limp
between her teeth
and sets it
on the porch
at your feet.
she looks at you
for a second,
then lies
down in the sun,
happy perhaps,
that the day
of killing
is done.

when ill

nothing is
important
when you're ill.
when
you are sick
and can't do more
than raise
your head to take
a pill, or
gulp
down a drink of
water.
you have resigned
yourself
to the kindness
of those
you know, or don't
know.
strangers taking
turns,
keeping you
alive.
the world falls
away so easily
at times like this,
what mattered
so dearly for so
long,
means nothing now.

oh, that's funny

she never
laughed. not really.
instead
she'd say, a second
or two
too late, oh
that's funny,
and would let out
a cross grin
across her face.
it was hard
to know when she
was angry, or
just tired, or perhaps
wanting to be
alone.
she never told
you in words anything
about what
she was feeling.
except when
you made a
valiant stab
at humor and she'd
say, oh
that's funny.

the rusted bike

in a bad section
of town,
at a yard sale,
you see
a rusted bicycle
leaning
against
the tree, the chain
off,
the tires
flat,
the streamers
sticking
out of
handle bars,
are still
like wet confetti.
there is a hand
painted sign
taped to it,
ten dollars.
it was a good bike
for some kid,
some kid
now grown,
having forgotten
perhaps
the shine of something
new,
something that
could have taken
him away from here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

the colored wheel

the ferris wheel,
so high,
with colored lights.
the spokes
circling
in blues and reds.
purples
and green.
it throws a
prism of candied
light
upon the water,
upon the faces
looking up.
around it goes.
around we go.
sometimes it's
okay to pretend
to be happy.

what you know

generous
with her kisses,
for a while.
a season
passes. she grows
cold.
the leaves
fall, your heart
sinks.
you can feel
a wind
rising, you fear
what you
already know.

pass me the eel

the thought of raw
fish
does not appeal
to you, but she
insists
on sushi. eel
salmon, strange
fish
you've never
heard of.
the living goo
of the ocean
all stuffed between
the walls
of rolled rice,
seaweed paper
as black as night.
hand me the wasabi,
the soy
sauce, the ginger
and saki, give me
room before
I blow up
and fall to the floor
with chopsticks
in my eyes.

simple joy

with the light
off, and the low
blue
buzz of the television
on.
a hot plate
of food
before you.
you are wrapped
up
in the cocoon
of fall.
daylight already
gone,
the game on,
the phone off,
your fingers tickling
the keyboard
to find
words
to express this
simple joy.

the happy rain

how happy
the rain is
being rain.
being wet, being
a part
of what grows.
necessary
in the scheme
of things.
how it fills
the streams
that empty into
the gulf,
down to where
the wide
arms of a forever
deep ocean
waits.
how happy the rain
is being rain.
making the world
the world green,
staving off
our constant
thirst.

sweet whispers

you fill
the child's ears
with nursery rhymes,
sweet
nothings, gentle
promises
of love
and affection.
it's what a child
needs.
it gives it reason
to feel safe,
to believe in
the beauty
of life,
of living.
even now you long
for such
whispers, so long
removed
from your parents
hands.

a different road

she stretches
her arm out with
open hand.
she wants
you to take it.
together, you
can join
forces, take
a stand
towards something,
something akin
to love,
although friendship
might be a
better word.
and that's okay,
too.
not all roads
go in the same
direction.

what love is

there is no
such thing as love at
first sight.
lust perhaps,
or deep endearing
like,
but love, that's
another thing
altogether.
love takes a year
of seasons.
a long stretch
of mornings
and nights.
love needs the search
light
beaming bright
upon every dark
corner, and then saying,
well. alright.
then if one or
the other hasn't
run from fright,
it might be okay,
to call it love.

pip pip ole chum

to break up
the day, you walk
about speaking
in a british accent,
turning each
statement into a
question.
having a nice day,
are we, eh?
you say to the toll
booth operator,
who ignores you,
handing you change,
pointing
in the direction that
he wants you to move
your vehicle.
cheerio, you yell
out as you pull
away in your motor
car.
I say, dear woman,
do you have the time?
you say to the barista
behind the counter
in her green smock.
I believe I need
a cup of tea
about now, perhaps
a butter pie, would
be nice as well, eh?
what are you, a limey,
she says.
you don't look like
a limey. in fact
you've been coming
in here for years
ordering coffee.
usual?
why yes, my lovely lass.
top of the morning
to you.
make it a double with
a splash of cream,
if you could be
so kind. don't forget
that butter pie. warm
it up in the fire,
eh? I shall be back
momentarily as I need
to visit the loo.

setting sail

you untie
the ropes from the pier.
you set
a course.
you see that the sun
is yellow.
the river wide
and still.
soon
there will be stars.
soon
you will be back
in the ocean
from where you came.
the sails go up.
you stand,
legs locked
behind the wheel.
you can do this.

cobwebs

you have an epiphany.
maybe you
need a maid to come
in once in a while
to dust and clean.
bathrooms and kitchen.
get the tumble weeds
out from under
the bed.
vacuum the rugs, sweep.
that sort of thing.
she wouldn't even
have to be a French
maid, with the uniform
and heels, although,
when you hear
the word maid,
that does come to mind.
maybe you'll google
that, see what the prices
are. you've been saving,
and have plenty,
you think, as you look
over to the cobwebbed
corner,
at the coin jar.

the open road

the clutter,
the piles of clothes
and books
everywhere,
making
it hard to walk
three feet
in any direction.
the vines
blocking
the sidewalk,
the overhang
of the tree,
the fence that
wouldn't open so
that you could
get into
the driveway.
the shoes on the
steps,
the bed stacked
with laundry.
the dying battery
of her phone.
everything a roadblock
to her psyche,
to her soul,
to her body.
these were
things you chose
to ignore,
but now are as
clear as the open
road.

snooze alarm

people that rise
early
like to tell you
that they rise
early.
five o'clock
they say. or earlier.
no traffic,
they nod and smile.
no one's on
the road at
that time.
I'm up and out
by six.
I've got the whole
road
practically to myself.
what time
do you get up,
they ask,
yawning at four
in the afternoon?

body language

your body speaks
to you.
it has it's own way
of talking.
a language
all it's own.
it tells you in
small
whispers
what's wrong
with you, which
muscle, which
limb,
which bone
needs
caring for.
it tells you to
take a day
off. to rest.
to go away and sink
your feet
into sand,
drop your self
into a warm ocean.
take your
hand off the wheel.
how long you have
ignored
the whispers in
your fading ears,
but now, you're
ready for that talk.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

a new frying pan

your new frying
pan
is a wonderful thing.
it has a shiny
blue bottom, so
hip and clean.
not a single
egg
has been cracked upon
it's non stick
surface. it's eco
friendly you tell
your dog who shakes
his head
at his dish of
dried food.
it took an hour
of research
and shopping
to find the one
that wasn't going
to poison you.
you take a picture
of it. you hold it
up to the light.
you give it
a kiss and gently
set it on
the counter
along with it's
new friend
a blue rubber
spatula before
turning off
the light and saying
goodnight.
maybe tomorrow you'll
give it a test run.

the whole world

the list of places
not to go
in the world
is getting longer
and longer.
they hate us.
we hate them.
he's got the whole
world in his
hands, is a song
that seems untrue
at the moment.
another set of hands
seems to be
winning out,
shaking free whatever
goodness might
remain.

the blueberry pie

someone leaves
a blueberry pie on
your porch.
it's hot and steaming,
the crust
still warm.
there is cinnamon
too sprinkled
about.
you look up and down
the street to
see who might have
left it.
there is no note.
no clue.
but you see no milk
either
to go with it,
no carton, no
cold bottle,
not even a glass
half filled
sitting on the porch
beside it.
how thoughtless
and mean people
can be sometimes.

the obvious

you are good
at stating the obvious.
it might
rain, you offer
as the leaves
turn up
and the wind blows.
a lighting
bolt flashes
across the sky.
it's getting cold
too, you say.
rubbing your hands
together,
putting another
long onto the fire,
closing windows,
and turning
the furnace on.
you don't love me
anymore, I can tell
you say, as she moves
her pillow
to the living room
couch
and calls her mother
to whisper something
into the phone
about a lawyer.

anticipation

when she shaved
her legs on saturday,
it was a good
sign. you just
had to walk
the line, not
say anything
that might upset
her. you might
even have
a pleasant conversation
at some point,
telling her how
nice she looked.
you might even
make her breakfast
and go shopping
with her,
holding her purse
as she tried on
dresses at the mall.

the apartment

the first apartment
you lived in
was on the bottom floor,
garden style, with a wide
glass sliding
door, and all
the amenities a
modern man could
want. the stove
and fridge were
olive green.
the stacked washer
and dryer
in the kitchen
a harvest gold.
the trash
room was not far,
a mere three steps
in the hall.
the rent was two
hundred and thirty
five dollars
a month, including
utilities.
the walls were thin,
and you had to
place broom sticks
in the windows
so that the burglars
and thieves
could not break
in, but it was a good
place to start
with your plaid
couch and dried flowers.
your stereo playing
margaritaville,
the galleon ships
sailing on the yellow
painting above
it all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

true love

let's get married.
your girlfriend says,
drunk out of her mind
on the notion
of it all.
let's fly to vegas
and tie the knot.
or we can have it right
here, rent the knights
of Columbus hall.
knot is right you tell
her. I don't think so.
things are going well
just the way they are.
why have a business
contract for an emotion,
you tell her.
this sobers her up, and she
says, what?
you don't love me?
it's not that I don't
love you. it's not that
at all. let's just shake
hands, and say
I do. we don't need
the law involved in
our relationship, do we?
but I told my mother
that we were getting
married. I told
all my friends.
my aunt delores is making me
a dress. my sister knows
calligraphy and is doing
the invitations. you sigh.
you let out an exasperated
body full of air.
we can have a cake,
you tell her.
with a band, maybe a dj.
an open bar and
chicken wings.
we can wrap bacon
around shrimp. everyone
loves bacon, it'll
be fun, invite all our
friends. but, she says,
but I really want to
get married. i want to walk
down the aisle. not me,
you say, shrugging.
well, then. it's over,
she says, beginning to cry.
we're breaking up.
I don't ever want to
see you again.
true love, you say.
as you put your shoes on
to leave. true love.

ticket to heaven

the friendly
teenager approaches
you on the boardwalk,
glistening with sun
and youth, a bundle
of pamphlets under
his arm. he wants to
explain Jesus to
you, his birth,
his death, his
message
and resurrection.
he wants to
give you hope,
save you, give you
a ticket to heaven.
he has all the answers.
you nod, and smile.
you listen. he is
the puppy off a leash,
having yet to
know a single flea.


no one there

there is no one
there.
the rooms are empty.
the lights
don't work.
no water runs
through
the cold pipes.
the floor boards
creak as you step
across them.
what were you
looking for in her?
how could you have
lived there?
she's not
there. she never was.
you imagined
her. perhaps,
she imagined you.

out of sight

your mother would
stand at the door
as you'd leave.
watching you get into
the car, making
the u turn
out of the driveway,
she'd blink
the porch light
and wave, never
closing the door
until you were
down the road, out
of sight.
now she watches you
from the couch
in the nursing home,
with tears in her
eyes, waving,
with your gift cookies
in her lap,
watching again,
until you are out
the door, out
of sight.

for the good of all

you can only
bite your tongue
so long,
swallowing your pride
and blood.
keep silent
in the midst of
fools, even fools
that are loved
ones. given
time, each to his
own breaking
point and point
of departure,
for the good of
all.

another way

if the new
born
never learn
history. never see
a gun
or bomb,
or weapon
of mass or
singular destruction,
will it
find a way
to kill, or maim.
will it raise
it's hand in anger,
or strike
a loved one?
if the child
never knows of war,
will it
learn to be
like us, or
go another way?

i miss you too

fearing being alone
again
for the holidays,
not having that special
someone to share
the joy of Christmas
with. someone
to ring in the new
year with, she joined
six online dating
sites. cupid, fish,
match, harmony
and chemistry,
elder dot com.
the same faces were
on all of them,
but it didn't deter
her. luke warm meeting
after meeting went on.
the awkward and boring
conversations
about cats
and baseball.
healthcare.
men pointed at
sores on their arms,
asking, does that look
infected to you.
they combed the long seven
hairs over their heads
with wishful thinking.
how she dodged the kisses,
avoiding
the wet lips and
darting tongues of
trolls and frogs
in that strange
parking lot farewell.
a hug, a peck on the cheek,
a pat on the back,
sending them on
their bewildered ways.
she deemed it the march
of the penguins.
the poor, the lonely,
the limping sick,
the desperate,
the still secretly
married men. soon, after
a week, she grew
weary of it all. young girls
do grow weary, though
she was hardly young,
in fact she fudged
her age and settled
on forty nine. close enough,
she thought.
it's the internet,
who cares?
after a month
she quit everything
and called up her old
boyfriend, frank,
and asked him to forgive
her for calling him
the worst human being
to have ever drawn a
breath on the face
of the earth. he said.
okay. I miss you too.
let's go away for Christmas
though, so we don't have
to be around your family.
she gave him socks.
he gave her a gift
certificate to target.
good enough.

the fever

when you were nine
or ten
you developed a fever
for the girl
next door.
she was a year
a older than
you, but
way beyond what
you could imagine.
you gave her a ring.
a ring that you
found lying
in the street,
you shined it
up with ivory
liquid in the kitchen
sink. it was the
only period of time
in your life
when you were not
afraid to give
a girl a ring.
but you were young
then, maybe nine,
maybe ten
and you had a fever
for her. you are
still waiting for
that fever to appear
again.

how's your love life?

your neighbor,
in her bathrobe,
her lips around an
almost empty
bottle of
pinot noir
knocks at your door
and asks you
if she could borrow
some clam
dip.
she's having a guest
over soon,
and doesn't have
time to go to the
store.
you tell her to hold
on. you open
the refrigerator
and scan the shelves.
no clam dip, you
tell her.
this makes her cry.
she sits
down on the porch.
do you mind if I smoke,
she asks,
taking out a pack
of cigarettes.
I don't even like clam
dip, she tells you
blowing smoke
into the darkening
sky. I don't know
why I told him I
would make it. he loves
clam dip.
what kind of man
makes that kind of
a request to a woman?
I don't think I can
date men anymore, she
says, wiping her
eyes with her terry
cloth sleeve.
what about you, she
says. how's your love
life?

no time

the three minute
egg.
the five minute
conversation,
the give me a second,
I'm almost
ready.
do you have a
minute?
I need a second
of your time.
wait a minute.
this will only take
a minute. i'll
be there
in a new York minute.
we're late.
you have no time
for me.
your time is almost
up.

Monday, September 22, 2014

the black suit

your friend
buys a new suit.
black.
a nice suit.
stylish.
it's on a hanger
waiting.
it's a funeral
suit.
the shoes too.
black
as stones.
the reflection
of his
hand
upon them as
he sets them
in the closet.
waiting.
it's his last
suit.
it fits
perfectly.
sometimes he
tries it on
and thinks of
the words
he'll say,
when the day comes
to put it on.
practicing
the eulogy.

she's done

you can't
make her speak.
or explain,
you can't put
her hand
to paper
and pen,
you can't hold
her mouth
to the phone
and get words
out.
she's mute,
she's mum on
the subject of
you and her.
she's done.

the maroon camaro

the memory
of that rusted car.
its
baby moons,
and torn seats,
the eight cylinders
of which only
five seemed to working.
the billow
of black smoke,
the belch of
white smoke,
the smell of engine
oil, the puddles
of its
fluids
always leaving a
trail.
but what a car
it was. your car.
the car you washed
on Saturday morning,
waxed it to a shiny
sheen.
the car
you drove to be
seen in, perfect
as it sat under
the bright parking
lot lights
at the hot shoppes,
the radio
playing.

if she were bread

if she was
bread,
she'd be a warm
and toasty
baguette,
right out of
the oven.
awaiting you
to break her
gently in
your hands to
be nibbled
on as the steam
rises into
your grateful
lips.

kill me a cow, please

on a fish diet
for two days, you are
sick of fish.
the way it smells.
its pale
meat. it's flavorless
ways. you dream
of steaks on the grill.
bloody and rare.
seared with flames.
salted and covered
in mushrooms, but
no. you fork
the feathered flesh
of cod into your
mouth, getting
hungrier with each
weightless bite, not
even those stalks
of broccoli are
getting the job done.

at the end of the day

you see
the man who drives
the mr. softee truck
at the liquor store.
he's wearing
his white
pants and white
t-shirt,
greyed by the summer
heat.
you see the strawberry
stains.
the chocolate
and nuts
on the edge of
his pants,
his cuffs.
he doesn't see you
as he puts
on the counter
a pile of nickels
and quarters
to get his
pint of bourbon.
it's better for
the both of you to
not say hello.

self help

more food,
more wine, more
useless purchases
of things you
already possess
in duplicates,
more sex,
more fun, more
whipped cream
on the desserts
of life.
more exercise.
all of it, a
deeper issue
being medicated,
so what else is
new?

the sunfish

the lure
of a yellowed
sunfish,
flat
as
the sun itself
over
cape cod
bay
pulls your
small body
into the soft
still
water.
your hand
reaches out
to touch it,
and it does
as your feet
sink
into a hole.
with frantic
pause
your eyes and
nose
fill with the cold
bay, early
in the morning
where there is
no one up
or around
to save you,
but somehow,
you are saved
though unsure
why,
even until this
day.

human touch

how relieved
she must be to be
done
with men.
men, of all sorts,
men
like me.
wanting love
and affection.
the nerve,
the audacity
to want such
far fetched things,
such things
as conversation,
a hand on
a shoulder,
the simple touch
of a knee.

the arrest

because she had
a badge
and a whistle,
a uniform
with a smart
hat, you let her
have your
way with you
in the back seat
of her squad
car.
she turned
the lights on
and with her
foot was able
to hit the siren
at the appropriate
moment.
she was rough,
but never broke
the law
or crossed the line
with her baton,
or cuffs,
always reading
you your rights
before making
an arrest
and taking you
into custody.

his garden

your father
and his tomatoes.
the brown paper bag
stuffed full.
how can you say
no to what he's
grown.
some peppers too.
an ear or three
of corn.
he's been growing
them all his
life, better
in the garden
than he's been
with children, or
wife.

tomorrow

you drive all
night
to get there,
to see the sun rise
over the north
atlantic
ocean.
you dig your
feet in the sand,
and let the water
wash cold
around your
ankles.
it's here where
you go to start
anew, give
birth to tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

the gunfight

you are called
out at high noon
to have a gun fight
in the middle
of a dirt street
that runs through
the center of town.
but you don't even
own a gun and have
to borrow one
from your girlfriend
lily. it's pink.
hardly a gun at all,
in fact. it's more of
a derringer that she
pulls out of her
enormous bra.
you're not even sure
if the bullet
will reach the man
who stands on
the other side,
laughing and twisting
his black mustache.
so, you yell out
to him, hey I'm sorry
I called you a cheating
no good nitwit.
let me buy you a drink
okay. we good?
to which he says,
okay.

the green light

red lights
keep
you from moving
forward.
there's a string
of them
down route one,
route five,
route four.
the exits
are blocked,
the clover leafs
are vines
tangled.
you can only wait
for her
to give you
the green light
to move on
the straight
and narrow path
you seek.

the young

they are bees,
these children
lost in their game.
tossing balls,
and rings, jumping
as if jumping
and singing as
one was not insane.
how free they are
from us, still fresh,
without our
ways of thinking,
may the long
summer of their
youth keep them
there.

her whistle

she had a missing
tooth
in front, a slight
lisp. when
she spoke,
the wind of
her voice
made her whistle
which caused
the dog
to run into
the room, ears perked.
that endeared
you to her.
making her human,
despite
her personality.

happy poem

forced, or challenged
to write a happy
poem, you lie down
on the floor and let
the dog lick your
face where you just
ate a chocolate
donut. the dog
is happy, you're
happy. maybe now,
she's happy too
and you can get
back to dipping your
pen into the ink
of angst
and blood, sweat
and tears.
the deep well of
memory as it surges
forward as your
day grows dark.

pollen blues

the world
wakes up sneezing
and blowing
it's nose,
coughing
and clearing
their throats.
there is a line
at the drug store,
of stuffy
heads.
people are
turning their
red eyes
upward to put
drops in.
Kleenex flies
in the wind.
god bless you
echoes through
the valley.

apple tree

you shake
the day clean of yesterday.
the sun
is up. the air
is cool
and sweet like
a new apple
in your hand.
it has a crunch to
it as you
take a bite.
how nice to have
the sour
apples gone,
the crab
apples, the ones
full of worms
that lie
on the ground
trying to trip you
up.

the heart grows fonder

abstinence does
make the heart grow
fonder,
as does a hot
cooked meal,
and being left
alone
to do the things
you like
to do. marriage
is best
in separate houses,
different states,
large, enormous
beds,
with escape clauses
and trap
doors when
the fight begins.
quiet children
too, make life easier,
as does those
who have their
own, god bless
that child.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

the imprint of her lips

she used to
kiss her lips
upon
a sheet of clean
white paper,
leaving the imprint
of lipstick
with her name,
and the word
love above
it.
that's how she would
leave
your house,
going home.
that's what
you remember
most, little else
remains.
not a shoe, or
stitch,
or brush left
on the counter,
not even
a picture of
you and her
together, just
the imprint of
her lips.

praying

your prayers,
though
weak at times,
thin broth offerings,
and selfish
are sincere.
you do want blessing
poured upon
others,
yourself included.
but now
you lie in bed
waiting on sleep,
not kneeling
in a pew,
or at the foot
of an iron
bed.
you feel that god
has allowed you,
with all
these years of
faith and fear,
to be still, to pray
in comfort
with a pillow
behind
your grateful head.

the river

the river,
dappled
in pink and blue
spills
of sun
and sky,
what lies below
is green,
its numbed
light
rising
to the surface.
how it moves
towards larger
water,
a finished end,
unfinished.
streams
with lives
of their own
adding along
the way, and our
feet
hung off
the pier,
we
too are heading
somewhere
where we all
must flow one day.

a bag of grapes

you buy a bag
of grapes. sweet purplish
grapes, seedless,
mind you. maybe globes?
a pound or two, who
knows, who weighs
their grapes?
but they sit chilled
in the ice box, on
the silver grate
that holds
cookies, and other
more tempting things.
you just can't find
it in you to take
the grapes out,
give them a rinse
of cold water,
pouring them into
a bowl and
start eating them.
they tasted so good
in the store, when
you were starving
and walking around
with the open bag,
tossing them into
your mouth like a
circus seal, but now,
the thrill is gone.
sigh.

lose my number

lose my number,
she writes
in capital letters.
delete it from your
list
of women.
forget you ever met
me. I am not
here to play games,
to be a pawn
on the checker board
of your life.
so erase me from
your mind, your phone.
cancel any plans you
may have been
thinking of, or not,
while last night, by
the window, with
my cat,
I sat at home alone.

grammar police

the grammar
police, of which she is
one, is
on the street with a stiff
wooden
ruler, smacking
knuckles for the misuse
of words,
the confusion of
there and their,
I before e and all
of that good stuff,
like who's and whose.
take out your strunk
and white and
listen to me she
says, standing straight
at the chalk board,
hair pinned
tightly on her head,
diagram this sentence,
or die, a slow
and painful death.

the ashes of you

your eyes burn
from
the fire.
the ashes
fall like dark
angels
that melt dry
in your open
hands.
what was here
is gone.
what you miss is
nothing
like what
it was.
in loss, you
romanticize the past,
absorb the pain,
which is
the price of love's
admission.
the final cost.

in the clouds

look at the cloud
over there,
the child exclaims
as she rides
in the back
seat of her father's
car.
it looks like
a castle.
and the boy beside
her, says,
and that one,
that one over there.
it's a cowboy
riding a horse.
and the father, driving,
looks up,
and worries
about rain.

moving dirt

on a nice day
some people like
to kneel
in their yards,
gloves on, boots,
the old jeans,
a hat, a spade,
a rake, and move
dirt.
they use their
wheel barrow too,
to move it around.
this makes them
happy.
makes them fulfilled.
but you prefer to leave
the dirt alone,
or to others.
you are different
from the dirt
movers, not good,
not bad,
just different.
you don't like dirt.

what she wants

she wants a happy
poem.
one without barbs
or thorns,
or dark clouds
looming
full of cold rain.
she wants
sunshine and
butterflies,
whimsical words
and thoughts
that bounce
along like bubbles
on the wind.
she wants another
glass of wine.
she wants a lot
of things
that she'll never
get, but why tell
her that and ruin
the moment.

Friday, September 19, 2014

why me

why me, he says.
what have I done
to have all of these
horrible things
happen to me.
what kind of god
is he to
punish us time
and time
again. look at
me, I'm all wet
from the rain.
I don't have my
umbrella, I left
my wallet at home.
I've missed
the last train.

the moth

when you met her
you didn't see
the bottle
of chardonnay
hooked up to an iv
sticking in her
arm, nor the tattoo
that read bite me
on her shoulder.
no, you missed all
of that. you saw
a princess, a beauty,
a tinker belle full
of fluffy fun
with batting
lashes and teeth
as bright
and white as any
distant sun. what
a moth to the flame
you are.
singed again
and again.

plant life

seeking love
and life long
companionship, a
new soul mate
if you will,
you purchase a
leafy green house
plant
and set it near
a window. you water
it faithfully,
turning it towards
the light on
the sill.
you speak kind
words to your plant,
you have a nice,
though quiet,
conversation,
and take
the slight turn
of leaves when
the wind blows in
as a sign of
approval, of
mutual affection.
by weeks end
you believe you
are ready
for the real thing.

the light

finally
you see the light.
there it is.
the truth
of the matter.
it's a tiny
flame
flickering
in the dark,
but it's there.
you get it,
you get her.
you understand
the world
as it is,
and can move
on.

the satellite

you think of her
as a satellite
in space, circling
the earth with
a dead battery.
no longer able
to communicate,
but still out there,
slowly rounding
the globe of you
without so much
as a beep beep.
there was a time
when all you heard
was the constant
chattering
and beeping until
it was time to
hang up the phone
and go to sleep.
now she just circles.
quietly losing
her orbit before
slipping into
the atmosphere,
bursting into
flames, no longer
in view, a distant
memory, a forgotten
name.

the stardust alley

the bowling alley
was at one point
in your young
and restless life
the center
of your universe.
the pin ball machines
banging brightly
in the arcade,
the constant roll of
balls colliding with
pins, both duck and ten.
the smell of limp
shoes with sizes in
large numbers on
the back, being sprayed
with lilac.
the juke box in
the lounge playing
dusty springfield
and smokey robiinson.
there was a barber
shop too, with liquid
blue jars full
of long black combs,
big leather seats
and wall length mirrors
where you could watch
the clipping go on,
and white sheets
to catch the brown
cut hair across
your brylcremed brow.
it was noisy and loud,
cigarette smoke
filled the cavernous
hall. the smell of beer
and French fries.
the bowling shirts
and gloves, the bags
with names inscripted
on, buddy, or lucy.
the king, or ike,
sometimes a fight would
break out,
taking it outside
where the moon gave light
to the parking lot
brawl, then back inside,
back to the music,
back to the wonder
of a long good night.

the new home

the new house
smells
like wood.
fresh cut and
hammered level.
stains and paint.
there is brown
paper
stretched
across the halls
and stairways.
every room
has an echo
of the white poodle
that is caged
in the bathroom.
the new sink
glistens with a
touch
sensor, the hum
of the air
conditioner
is like that
of a ship about
to sail.
even the yard
is new.
a green carpet
not unlike
the eighteenth
hole
at augustus.
the wallpaper is
expensive,
with gold flecks
dotting
the chevrons
and diamonds.
you can hardly wait
to get home
to breathe
again.

cloak and dagger

she's become
the mati hari,
lying low
in the shadows
sending you
cryptic notes
via untraceable
accounts.
she's writing
in invisible ink,
calling from
burners,
pay phones.
she has a can
and a string
strung over
your back fence
whispering sweet
nothings into
an empty can
of sweet corn.
she's cloak and
dagger nails in her
trench coat, standing
in the rain,
waiting to make
her move
with nothing on.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

golden

a little
sun
on your face
goes a long
way
towards feeling
peaceful
and free
from a world
gone mad.
a simple ten
minutes
alone,
stretched out
in the September
sun,
is golden.

short answers

some days you
are in the mood
to give only short
answers
when people ask
you questions like,
how are you?
good.
looks like rain,
don't you think?
yup.
we're supposed to
get a lot
of snow this winter,
the farmer's
almanac is predicting
some big storms,
are you ready
for that?
nope.
what do you think
about this new development
in the middle east,
there might
be another war?
shocking.
what's your take on
ebola?
scary.
hey, what happened
to that girl you were
seeing for the last
three years.
haven't seen you
with her in awhile,
where'd she
go?
got me.

outer space

you're are on a mission
to mars
when you are awakened
by a phone call
from your ex wife.
she wants to know
if you still have
the extra keys to
the house. the house that
she kept after the divorce.
what, what do you want?
I was sleeping, you
tell her. you sound
grumpy, as usual, she
says. well, do you
have the keys or not.
I'm seeing someone
now and I just don't
want you barging
in on us. he's coming
over for dinner tonight
and I'm cooking
salmon and lima beans,
and making a nice hummus dip,
which you always hated,
but he loves.
you let a moment
of silence pass.
I'm actually
in a spaceship
going to mars, you
yell into the phone,
so don't worry, I
won't be barging in on
you and your new
boyfriend while you eat
lima beans and that
ridiculous hummus dip.
there is silence,
some crackling
along the line. well,
if you find the keys,
just throw them
out a porthole,
or send them to
me when you get back
from mars, or Jupiter,
wherever you claim to
be going. you sigh
deeply, whatever,
you say, rubbing
your eyes, looking out
the window at complete
darkness dotted
with stars. so who is
this guy? someone I
know? please don't tell
me it's jimmy from down
the street. wouldn't
you like to know, mr.
I'm in outerspace man.
look, I really don't
care, I have things to
do now, okay. this is
an important mission,
so please
don't call me on this
line anymore, I'm
supposed to be working.
you were taking a nap,
is that what they're paying
you for. you're lucky
I don't call NASA right
now and tell them
you're sound asleep
like a baby.
look, please hang up.
tell the kids I love them.
oh, the kids, you finally
remembered them.
okay. I have to go, the line
is full of static,
I can hardly make out
what you're nagging me
about. I think the ship
is passing through
the van allen belt or
something.....I really have
to go now.
don't hang up on me, she
says. I've got a bone
to pick with you about
the dog, who is supposed
to be your dog, the other day
he got into a bag of trash,
and it cost four hundred
dollars to have his
stomach pumped, I feel
that because he's
your dog too, it's
your responsibility to
pay for..
click.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

the funeral

it's a long
funeral.
the cars are in an
endless
line. headlights
lit
moving slowly
towards the green
pasture beyond
the black
iron fence.
the white headstones
are no longer
white, but grey
and mildewed
they tilt with the names
and dates
of whoever lies
below
their parcel
of land.
there is no welcoming
committee, no
hellos, no
greeting.
there is the sorrow
of the living
as they
say farewell, casting
loved ones
into the long
good night.

beauty queen

she tells you that
when she goes to the wal
mart in
waldorf Maryland
she feels like miss
America. sometimes
she goes there just
to walk around and
feel good about herself,
not buying the giant
bags of marshmallow
peanuts, or barrels
of cracker jacks,
or snow tires for
her RV. no, she just
strolls around and does
a little wave,
people staring
and whispering oh my.
who is that lovely
creature. I want
some of that.

nudist camp

you get tricked into
going to a nudist camp for
the weekend.
you are horrified
at all the skin
laid bare to the elements.
where's the bar,
you ask someone who
looks like human lava.
she points an arm
that shakes for about
thirty seconds,
and says over there,
next to the hot
dog stand, then looks
down at you and smirks.
you say, it's cold
out, very cold. really
really cold.

it's a job

the ticket taker.
dead eyed
in his old shiny
suit, smiles
a coroner's smile
and takes
your ticket, tears
it in half,
and says enjoy
the show.
you move on to
your seat
as the curtain
rises.
later, you see him
outside
smoking a cigarette,
huddled under
an awning as
it begins to rain.
he nods to
you as if he knows,
what you
are thinking.
his smile is different
this time.

going down

gravity is no
one's friend.
we are all bound
by it's invisible
tether. pulling
us back towards
from where we
came. no matter
how high you
jump, or fly,
or sail across
the sky, at some
you're going down
again.

hot air balloon

you see
the hot air balloon
striped
in primary colors
of red and blue.
brilliantly
floating across
the sky
when it hits
the power lines
and explodes.
sparks and flames
shoot high
into the sky
as it sinks
to the ground,
deflated.
you can almost
hear the screams
from this far away.
quickly you take
out your notepad.
you decide not
to ever do that,
adding it to your
increasingly long
list of things
that you have
no interest in
ever doing, starting
with Indian food.

crickets

you see two
crickets stopped
on the sidewalk
conversing
in their top
hats and coats.
their legs
twitch with wanting
to leap
forward and go,
but they don't.
they are polite
and nice to one
another, despite
having places
to be.
they rub their
spindly legs
together and make
their noises,
chirping happily
until they see
the shadow of you,
and leave.

before you get there

between
the pages
you see where she's
left
her mark.
a leaf,
a piece of silk
fabric,
a twig,
something that
looks like
bark.
so many pages
dog eared
for later
reading, perhaps,
or she's
just letting
you know where
you've been
before you get
there.

parking violation

the meter maid.
blue shirted,
fat and short
like a blueberry,
wrapped
in belts
and whistles,
phones, and what
not,
stands round
in the street,
her big metal
ticket pad in hand.
she is the hand
of god. no mercy.
the parking god
and once the ink
hits the paper
there is no
forgiveness. she
shakes her head
like a kewpie doll
and says,
sorry, but
the meter is empty,
then rips
off the ticket
to stick under your
wiper
before moving on
to the next violation.

no schedule

the train
full of faces
in the windows. sleepy
with time
on their
hands.
papers folded in
their laps,
off to work
on this Monday
morning.
you see them stare
at you
as the train
crosses the trestle
and blows
it's horn.
you don't wave,
though some wave
to you.
you let the sun
fall onto your face.
you have no
trains to catch
today. your day
is yours.

before they're hatched

you read where Oscar
wilde said
that it's best
to count your chickens
before they're
hatched, not after,
commenting
on how hard they
are to count
once born, and
running wild around
the barn yard.
so, I'm taking
the liberty of counting
you.

the card game

life is a card
game
she tells you while
dealing
out the cards
for a game
of rummy.
maybe, you say,
staring at your
cards,
aligning the clubs
with other clubs,
hearts with
hearts.
sometimes it's
hard to find a king
and queen
together
of the same kind,
she continues on,
taking
a card off the top
of the deck,
discarding one,
then slamming
her whole hand down
yelling out
rummy.
whatever, you tell
her. I suspect
you're cheating
on me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

her gifts

no matter what
gift you bought her.
it wasn't good enough.
despite your
intense analyzing
of the jewelry
she wore,
the coats and scarves,
the shoes
and gloves.
what lay in her
kitchen drawers.
nothing you ever
gave her was ever used
or liked.
not a spatula, not
the red sheer
stockings,
not the pill box
hat, or big blue
ring the size
of a walnut.
not even the Christmas
welcome mat.
all you got was a
mumbled thank you,
her trying hard so
hard to be
grateful and polite.

when love ends

when slipping
on the ice,
or when love ends,
if you don't
hit your head
and go unconscious
or break an
arm or leg,
it's all about
the getting up
part. be casual,
be dignified,
be happy and smile,
nodding yes,
I'm just fine,
thank you,
then go on about
your way as if nothing
had ever happened.
cry alone,
it's better that way.

red stars

there was the time
you were madly infatuated
with a woman.
hard to believe,
but it's true.
you put on a brand
new white button
down starched white
shirt and went out
to eat Italian food.
by the end of the night
with fork and spoon
spinning as you talked
her ears off with
your impressive
knowledge of a variety
of topics, you had
a constellation, no
a galaxy of red dots
all over the front
of your shirt.
she liked you because
of that, not anything
else.

the invite

the same person
who used to pester you
in high school a million
years ago, has found you,
and is now pestering you
again.
another high school
reunion is coming up.
he wants you to attend.
they come so quickly these
days. you try to think
if there is anyone you
still know from school.
not one name
comes to mind. what
would be said. hello.
how are you. I hate French
class. still.
this chicken is delicious.
not like that cafeteria
chicken. hey, do you
remember so and so, dead.
he's dead too?
oh that's too bad.
you click maybe on the invite.

kiss me

I'd like a kiss
you tell her, as she
gets ready for work.
you still lying in bed,
taking the day off.
I'd like a kiss,
you say again, puckering
your lips, your
head against the pillow.
she stops brushing her
hair and says well
people in hell want
ice water.
are you going to get
up today? or just lie
there like a king.
lie here like a king,
you tell here.
now kiss me before you go.

new town

where there used
to be massage parlors
with women in lingerie
lounging on
the wide porches
smoking cigarettes
there are now
candle shops,
and antique stores.
there's a cup
cake store, full
of sweets and treats.
things have changed
in old town.
not a sailor on leave
thrashing about looking
for love.
not a dog without a
leash, not a cop to
be seen, with his club,
walking his beat.

these oranges are sweet

here, have an orange.
I peeled it for you.
they're really really
sweet. like me.
but I don't want an
orange. I'm not in
the mood for an orange.
just have a little
wedge, one piece.
you'll see how sweet
they are. here, here.
no. no thanks. please.
get that orange
away from me. why
are you always forcing
things that you like
upon me.
oh, I see, I see how
this day is going
to go. are you going
to run off and be silent
now, go to your man
cave and pout because
of this orange thing.
this orange thing? okay.
give me a whole
freaking orange, don't
even peel it. I
am going to eat it
whole. I am going
to devour that orange.
give me the whole bag.
okay, okay. calm
down, mr. angry man.
that's it.
I'm going to my mother's
for the weekend.
you are impossible.
enjoy those oranges.
alone.

it's so hot here

everyone you know
in florida says it's
hot.
it's so hot here.
you answer by saying.
really?
what about the lizards
and alligators,
the swarms of bugs,
the rain, then sun.
repeat and rinse
all year long.
you'd like to visit,
but it sounds so hot.
so very hot, and you
don't own a mosquito
net that is fashionable.

on strike

the cost of living
has risen
but you haven't
given me a bump
in pay,
a raise in affection.
each day gets
harder, but
where's the love,
where's the showering
of kisses
and hugs?
my union will hear
about this.
I may go on strike,
picket your
bedroom, stand
outside your window
with my sign,
demanding my
relationship rights.

Monday, September 15, 2014

this fish

she sends a photo
of her holding
a catfish
dangling from a hook
at the end of
a line, and rod.
it's a sad fat
fish. grey and
slimy, as catfish
are, without scales.
two hard black
whiskers jutting
from it's cheeks.
grimacing with a
set jaw of teeth
like grandma's when
she'd take them out
and soak them in
a small tumbler
of polident on her
night stand.
but this fish,
has brought her joy,
look at her smile,
this horrible fish,
has made her happy.
which is something
you could never do.

circling

a trip is needed.
you pack
a bag.
you put some cash
in your pocket.
you fill your tank
with gas.
at this point
in the year
you could go anywhere.
the weather having
not quite turned
just yet.
but where?
you want to go where
no one
knows you,
where there is no
one waiting
with open
arms. maybe ginger
could go with you
if she isn't too
busy. but she's
always busy busy
busy.
you start your car,
you wipe a bug off
the windshield with
your wipers.
you squirt some more
blue fluid onto
the glass.
it's taking a lot
of wiping.
it was a big bug.
finally you leave.
you circle the beltway,
pondering.


the ice cream cone

stop licking
your ice cream
cone like
that you
tell your friend
betty.
it's annoying.
you're bringing
attention
to yourself.
now they're looking
at me.
but she keeps
at it, winking,
licking and licking,
until finally she
gets to the hard
cone and takes
a crunchy bite.
that part scares
you.

candles in the wind

she loved
candles.
she could not
enter
a room without
lighting
one.
so you weren't
surprised
when her house
burned down
as she fell
asleep with a
bottle of
chardonnay
by her side.
but she survived.
which is a good
thing.
you wish no
ill will on anyone,
especially
someone that you
loved so
dearly.

one good trick

like a magician
I can saw
you in half,
I can show you
the card
you chose, if
I've bent the corner
enough.
I can pull not
just one
rabbit,
but a chicken,
a goose,
a pig and a
rabbit out
of a hat, but
it's a mess.
there might be
blood
and the smell
is horrendous.
however when it
comes to
disappearing,
I'm amazing at
that.

cake

your love
for milk and
cake
has gone
undiminished
through
the years.
the small plate
the fork
and glass before
you.
how simple
the pleasures
of life
can be.
the sweet kiss
upon
your lips.
the touch of
a hand.
the taste of
cake
in your mouth.

below ground

the dead
are not knowledgeable.
they
know nothing,
ask them.
silence is
what you get.
so I wonder,
if there a heart
in you.
a voice.
a movement
of blood coursing
through
your veins, or
have you decided
to lay
low, go cold.
be stiff below
the ground
of us.

the cage

the horse resents
the whip,
the dog
the paper wrapped
into
a stick.
the bird
can't stand
the cage.
do you see where
I'm going
here?

why me

you see her coming
up the street
with her wheel barrow
full of
problems.
you cross over
and walk
hurriedly along
the other side,
but she sees you
and calls out your
name.
you wave and keep
going, but
she comes over.
she chases you
and makes you stop.
look, look here,
she says, tilting
the wheel barrow
towards you, look
at my life, let me
tell you about
all these things
I've got.
why me, says.
why me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

delivering the news

when
you delivered
papers as a boy,
your dog
beside you,
the wobbly wheeled
wagon
squeaking
under star light,
you plowed
through
the still mornings
tossing
the batons
of news onto
slab porches
and stairs,
counting on how
these dollars
and tips
would get you
through, and to
this day.
still do.

breakfast is ready

it's been so long
since you've heard
the words
called up to you,
honey, breakfast
is ready, that you
wonder if you've
ever heard them at
all. so sometimes
when you scramble
up a pair of eggs,
fry a few strips
of bacon, some
hash browns and toast
you'll yell out
as you carry the plate
to the table
in front of the tv.
honey, breakfast
is ready. it's hot.
get down here now.
then take a sip
of coffee and listen
for footsteps.

beautiful people

you don't
want beautiful people
to be smart
too.
you want them dumb,
unable
to function
in a complex
world.
it isn't fair
to have both.
you are never surprised
when they
can't spell
or put a thought
together
or make change
at a cash
register.
you want them
working the night
shift,
bringing coffee
to your table.
you want to nod
in agreement with
your average looking
friends and say,
she or he never had
to learn anything,
just look at them,
how beautiful they are.
let's hate them
together.

almost full

the sky
is a poppy field
of clouds
scattered
across
the blue,
dotting
last nights
moon, still pale
and wanting
to shine
through.
a moon you pointed
to
and said look.
it's nearly
full and you
answered I
know. I can
feel it too.

thin ice

when you step
gingerly
across the frozen
pond,
blue as the sky
above,
no deeper than
a man, you stop
and listen
to the strain
of your own weight
against the watered
glass,
you wait before
taking the next
step back.
this is how you
measure your words
too,
when around her.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

your father

your father
would
pretend to spank
you
to satisfy your
mother who
sat in the other
room, frustrated
by the boys
and girls
at one another
all day.
he'd slap his
hands together
and you'd howl
and howl
until she came
running in.
how strange and sad
with so
much joy
that they didn't
last together.

the first one

you can't
tell her how lovely
her poem is.
how small and delicate
the bones
of it are.
how subtle
and sexy the words
flow
like a whisper
into my ear.
you can't tell
her any of that,
but you can tell
her to take out one
word or two.
then move on
to the next one,
always keeping
the first
one near.

the fireplace

she wanted
a fireplace
in her house before
she died.
so together you
sat on the floor
after making
love and flipped
through
the sear's
catalogue,
turning over
the flimsy pages
by candle light
until she showed
you the fireplace
that she wanted.
it was circled
in red.
the price underlined.
free delivery
by Christmas,
which never came.

on stage

her disguise
is her work.
her mask,
the dress she
puts on
is a costume
to get her
across
the hard stage.
in the evening
when the grease
paint
is peeled
off, when the hair
is let down,
the curtain closed,
she's unsure
of everything
and everyone.
she doesn't know
what her next
line should be.

dry land

if it rains
come over.
pack light.
bring lips.
bring your warm
side.
i'll leave
the door open.
you'll know where
i'll be.
duck out from
under the clouds,
avoid
the lightning,
be careful
in the wind.
i'll be
waiting for you
on an island
of dry land.

elephants

there are so
many elephants
in the room
that it's
hard to
find a seat to sit
and have this talk
with you.
but squeeze
in here
and let's begin.

start with zero

having nothing at
one point
in your childhood,
being hungry
and cold
with holes
in your shoes
makes the rest
of life so much
easier.
everyone should
start
with zero.
even when it comes
to love,
when or if It arrives
you will feel rich
beyond measure.

what fish want

it's hard to
imagine
what fish want.
they swim so
fluidly and free below
the line
of air,
but you can guess
that being tricked onto
a steel hook
is not high
on their list
of fun things to
do today.

over due bills

the world is full
of ultimatums.
each bill with a date
on it.
the water
will be turned off,
the power doused,
your television
and phone will go
silent. even you,
now, have put a stamp
of expiration on
us if love isn't
received on time.

she calls to you

as you lie
on your bed near
death
you hear someone
calling
you in.
saying your name.
standing
at a door way
in an apron.
she's young again
and you
are even younger.
is this
how it goes.
is this the place
you'll
be, or is it
what you remember
most
about her
as you prepare
join her in
forever.

the fog

the world grows
white as
a fog seeps over
the hills,
caresses the trees,
arrives
at your door
step. you go out
into
the morning.
your skin is white,
the bones
of you, your eyes
are white.
you cannot move
the fog with your
hands, or
blow it away.
there is nothing
that can be
done about this
even if you wanted
to.
so much of life
is like this.

marrying for money

the next time I
marry it will be
strictly for money,
you tell
your friend betty,
who throws back her
head and laughs,
almost losing her
wig in the wind.
ha, she says.
money. what about sex?
what about love?
how about a nice
pool? you answer.
a mansion in the country,
a condo
in the city, a beach
house, at the beach she
says, finishing
your sentence.
fine, she says, fine,
but be careful
what you wish for.
tonight I'm going
to pray for you.
you have me
worried.

a bar of soap

like
a bar of soap
parts
of you
are disappearing
slowly
down
the drain,
but you
stay smooth,
and you smell
nice most
of the time,
so that must
mean something
to you,
doesn't it?

awake

right about now
you are usually sleeping.
sound
asleep in the middle
of a dream.
you might toss and turn
a little, or
wake up and take
a sip of the water
that sits
in a glass on
the end table
beside the red numbered
clock.
right about now,
you are usually under
the covers, head
on a pillow, done
for the night.
but not tonight.
something is bothering
you that's keeping
you here, awake.

give me time

i'll get
back to you, she says,
on that love thing.
give me
some time to find
the right words
to say no.
to let you down
gently.
I need a phrase
a statement,
a sincere regret
to be your parachute,
dropping you
safely back
to earth without
me by your
side.

forging love

you need to cross
over
at some, get past
your fear.
dispose of doubt
and disguise.
just leap,
jump forward
and let
the wind, the earth,
the moon
and stars
decide.

Friday, September 12, 2014

forgetting your pants

sometimes
you are in such a hurry
that you forget
to wear pants.
all day you walk
about in your calvin
klein black
boxer briefs
until a cop on
horseback sidles
up to you and says,
what the hell
do you think you're
doing?
luckily, you are quick
on your feet
and dash off into
the park, zig sagging
between the trees
as the cop and his
horse try to chase
you. but because
of your speed
and agility, they
can't catch you.
you make a mental note
of what just happened.
pants.
how could you
possibly forget pants?

the stand off

the ticket
that you insert
into the metal box
that holds
the cross bar
that sits in front
of your car
preventing you
from leaving
won't work.
it keeps spitting
the ticket back
out into your hand.
someone comes over
and tells you
that you have
to pay for a new one,
which you refuse
to do, making
the line of cars
behind you angry.
the entire underground
garage is a cacophony
of horns being
pressed on.
you are willing
to wait until hell
freezes over.
you have already paid
once.
five dollars being
five dollars.
it is literally a
Mexican stand off.
finally,
someone with a fist
full of keys
comes over and opens
the gate.
it swings up as you
smile and wave farewell.
the night is off
to a good start.

that special feeling

you make it clear
that in the morning
you have to get up
early and go.
you have a very
busy day ahead of you.
no monkeying around.
maybe a short
little embrace, but
that's it. okay?
no time for coffee
breakfast or small talk.
shower, get dressed
and adios.
sure, she says.
you're making me
feel so special.
should I go now,
so that I don't
delay you?

piano legs

her mother
who died recently
at the age of ninety
seven
used to tell her that she
had piano legs.
she never forgot that,
even thinking about it
as the coffin was
lowered into
the grave.
piano legs, she said
to herself.
her whole life
is over
and I stand here
thinking this.
how strong words are
when they ring
true.

voice mail

a fender
bender on the side
of the road
slows
traffic
almost to a stop,
which
gives me
a chance
to call you
and ask how you
are.
but the voice
mail comes
on.
and I hesitate,
unable to
find the words.
so I say
nothing.
leaving an
empty space,
a void
for you to fill
when you get this.

every man

with men
there is no hierarchy.
every man
a king,
a warrior,
a knight without
a horse.
the woman walking
down the street
in her summer
dress
knows that.
even without a shot,
they whistle,
they
shake their heads
and howl
at the mid day sun.
the men
no matter what
their status all
have exactly
the same thought.

the white flag

you surrender.
raise the white flag,
put your
hands into the air
and step
out of the trenches.
the long week
has beaten
you. take me
anywhere, you
yell out, anywhere
but here.
I am your prisoner
to with what
you want.
but be gentle,
I'm feeling fragile
at the moment.
a cold refreshment
would be a good
start.

the workers

the workers,
emptying
out of dark
white vans
start early with
their hammers.
tapping away,
you hear
the slam
of metal ladders
against
the houses.
the gutters
are being replaced.
tiles are
patched on the roof
tops.
they are not tired
yet,
stoked on coffee
and
egg muffins.
their radios
blaring salsa,
still a spring in
their booted
steps, the sun
not quite high
enough to make
them sweat.

where's your betty crocker

no one cooks
anymore.
they heat things
up.
order in, order
out.
they make call
ahead calls,
reservations.
they'd rather
stand in line
for a salty
sandwich then
boil a pot of
water at home.
grandmothers
are rolling in
their cold recipe
graves, shaking
their collective
heads as
they thumb through
a well worn
betty crocker
cookbook
that keeps them
warm.

bargain hunters

the sales weasels
all want
a deal, a special
friendship price.
a lowering
of the bill, just
because.
give me a break,
they say, let
me have it for
a little less
and you'll never
go hungry in this
city again. so
you give in and knock
off a few bucks,
which makes them
happy, as they
wave rolling away
in their black
Mercedes suv.

tossed aside

early in
the morning
the street
cleaners
come out
into the city
to sweep up
the broken
hearts.
the glass is
everywhere.
shards, like
diamonds in
the rising sun,
torn tickets to
flights
that won't be
used,
luggage discarded
on the curb.
cheap bundles
of flowers tossed
onto
the road, never
thanked for,
never held
with a smile,
or brought up to
a nose.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the legal system


you show
ginger your speeding
ticket, shaking
your head.
can you believe it?
a hundred dollars,
and points.
ha, she says.
I've never gotten
a ticket
she sticks one
of her long
legs out from
under the table
to show you why,
then proudly
pushes her
chest out
almost busting
a button on her
flimsy blouse.
these here are
ticket busters, she
says, trying
to shake them
like moroccos
and laughing.
whatever, you tell
her. the legal
system in this
country is so unfair.

joining the band

politely,
you go next door and
ask your neighbor
to please stop
playing
his banjo.
he has his whole
band over
every night practicing.
sorry, he says.
it's okay you tell
him, I'm just trying
to sleep, that's
all.
you look around the
room and see
someone on a washboard,
a skinny man
with no teeth
mouthing a harmonica.
a fat woman
blowing on a half
empty brown jug.
you wouldn't happen
to play spoons, would
ya, he asks.
spoons. nope.
we'll we need a spoon
player if you want
to try. taint that hard.
but I'm in my pajamas.
no problem, he says,
here, have some chew
and some pork rinds
and sit over there
next to maybeline.
jethro, hand my good
neighbor some of them
spoons and let's make
some music. pass him
a sip of that white
lightning to loosen
up him up. he seems kind
tightly wound.

blue skies

the sky is a blue
bottle
of sun
and clouds, a wishing
well of
good feelings.
even the birds,
with wiggling
worms dangling
from their
beaks seem to
have a spring
in their wings as
they fly about,
not quite ready
to fly south.

the contract

she gives you
the silent treatment.
the cold
shoulder,
the no eye contact
I'm pretending
you aren't
here stare, it's
hard to believe
you ever had
a fun moment
when she goes dark
like this.
and people wonder
why you're
cautious
about love
and marriage,
about
signing a business
contract
that says til death
do you part.

the slowing

the young,
with their life
in front of them,
run and run,
everything must be
done now, in
a hurry. they have
little patience for
this world they
were born into,
while the old,
have slowed down.
in speaking, in
eating, in driving
and arriving
at a destination
that gets closer
with each day.

and what else?

to punish you,
she stops reading what
you write.
she throws her hands
up dismissively
and says,
I can't read it anymore,
it's all the same.
about this girl
and that girl or some
trivial complaint
about something
ridiculously small.
no one cares about
this stuff, but
you. pffft, she says.
keep talking you
tell her, furiously
taking notes.
go on, go on,
and what else?

song and dance man

you are amazed
at how many words you
know
to so many songs,
and how well you sing
when alone
in the car, or
shower.
it doesn't bother
you that it
makes your dog
howl, putting his
paws over his floppy
brown ears, you
like to sing,
you are a song and
dance man, okay,
maybe not so much
the dancing, but
with a bar of soap
in hand you
are on stage at
Carnegie hall.

pain and pleasure


what pleases you
goes quickly,
the long
kiss, the summer,
a beach
visit, the book
in your
hand.
a night full
of stars.
pleasure is
fleeting, while
pain
tends to hang
around.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a bag of chips

it's hard
to believe, but
sometimes
you tire of eating
potato chips.
your hand
grows weary
of placing it
into the bag
and pulling
one out and
letting it crunch
into your salt
starved mouth.
how many can you
eat in one sitting.
how many stars
are in the sky?

her ankle

just a glimpse of
her ankle
made you weak
in the knees,
your heart
skipped a beat
when she raised
her leg
and placed it
next to yours.
what next?
god forbid
she kissed you.
how could live
with that?

he had no ears

he had no ears
she said.
he was born that
way, but
they were able
to take some skin
from some part
of his body
and make an ear,
sort of.
but he could
hear really well,
better than
you, as a matter
of fact.
are you listening
to me.
hey, hey. you have
two ears,
but what's the point
of me telling
you this story,
if you don't listen.
I'm listening, you
tell her. I'm
listening. what about
a nose, did he
have a nose?

my love for you

my love
for you is
a tsunami.
a tidal wave.
okay.
I exaggerate.
perhaps a small
wave,
a crest, a lapping
of water
upon
the shore, or
maybe just the wake
of a passing
boat.
or better yet,
a cool glass
of water,
half full,
that I sip on
when I'm thirsty.
that's it, my
love for you
is a glass of
water,
half full
with crushed ice
and a slice
of lemon.