Friday, October 31, 2014

getting hip to that

you don't want a turkey
made and shaped
from soy beans, you
tell your nervous
girlfriend, who
hasn't eaten real
meat in a decade.
you want a turkey.
for dessert
you don't want a cake
that looks
like a chocolate
cake, made
from carob beans, no.
you want a real
cake. three layers
with icing, dark
chocolate. and milk.
a cold glass of milk.
you want cow milk.
not soy milk.
there is no milking
of the soy bean.
and when she gives you
a kiss, you don't want
a peck on the cheek,
or on the head,
or a mere quick touch
of lips.
you want a kiss ala
francais. can you dig
it? are we yet on
the same page yet?

the quiet sign

you put
a no talking sign
up
in your house.
it lights
up with red
letters, quiet
it says,
and you point
to it
when you want
someone to be
silent,
and if they
keep babbling
on and on
about something
you have no
interest in, you
ask them to
come to the window
and look
at that cute
kitten
out in the street,
when they
are standing
where you want
them to stand,
peering outside,
you push a button
which releases
a trap door
that sends them out
with a whoosh
to the sidewalk
on a slide.

good work

look, there's betty.
she had some work done,
shelly
whispers to you
behind her
latte cup, watch,
watch her when
she comes out
of the bathroom.
she's got that
monkey face thing
going on, all
the skin pulled
back and knotted
behind her
blonde hair.
blonde, right,
she adds in,
licking the foam
of her gingerbread
latte off
her lips.
wait, wait, here
she comes, don't
look, don't look.
okay now.
last week I swear
she was thirty
pounds heavier.
someone stuck a hose
in there and pulled
those scones
right out of her.
unless she had a baby.
this makes
her throw her
head back and she
chokes a little
as she laughs.
I'd never ever have
that kind of work
done, she says.
look at my face, do
I need work done.
hell no. say hell
no. hell no, you
answer, but then turn
your head back around
to check out betty
who looks
pretty darn good
from over here.

unwritten

they too slouched
in their
easy
chair on a Friday
evening, staring
numbly
at the tv
with a cat on
their lap.
once full of Shakespeare
and wordsworth,
Ginsberg
and Miller,
now this.
these fallen stars,
these rising
moons,
these setting
suns.
each wandering
at midnight
into grocery stores
lit like
tinsel
easing a cart
down
the sterile
aisles.
searching
for something,
anything to fill
them.
all words they
were to write
gone unwritten,
the poems
and plays, the novels.
the years fallen
away too quickly.
the tree empty
of leaves
with one quick
harsh wind.

the widow and her child

the widow
and her child.
who will always be
a child.
prepares
the meal.
stirs the pot.
warms
the oven.
sets the dishes
out.
the ghost
of her husband
is in
the chair
across the dining
room.
you can see
him sitting there,
staring
not at you,
but at a place
we are all going
to be one day.
but for now.
the table is set,
his wife,
the widow,
is spooning food
onto your plate,
she's
pouring wine,
and the child
with her hands
together, ready for
prayer, sits
quietly,
and waits.

the lesson

a clean slate,
washed free of chalk.
all the lists
you've made
are gone.
the diagrams of
what love
is or shouldn't
be.
the necessary
elements to make
things work.
now dust, chalk
beaten against
the old school wall.
but you'll
try again tomorrow.
you'll press
your hand
and heart
to the board
and begin the lesson
over, one
more time.

the quiet storm

a calm
before the storm.
a lull
in the wind
and rain.
a quiet respite
from
her anger.
she's too tired
to come
ashore.
too exhausted
and sick
of love,
to say, or do
anything more.

sexy costumes

the costumes
are quite sexy this year.
at least
the ones for
women and girls
of all ages.
the hooker
waitress is fun,
the hooker maid,
the hooker
teacher, and let's
not forget
the hooker
secretary, student
and nun.
all that marching
has to come
this on Halloween.
I'm still
waiting for the
hooker feminist
carrying a placard
proclaiming,
in her stockings
and heels,
women's lib.

tight lipped

words
to her are
diamonds
found
in the rocks
of her quiet
cave
like mind.
but when
they do get
forced out
into the light,
some,
though flawed,
have a nice
mercurial
shine.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

tickets please

the amusement park
tries
so hard
to woo you.
its colors of red
and green,
bold blues
and yellows.
the arrows showing you
the way in,
the way around.
the funhouse,
the wheels
that spin.
the gypsy wants to
guess your weight,
your age,
your future.
take hold of the water
gun, throw
the rings, the ball
into the hole.
swing the hammer
and strike
the bell.
let the cotton candy
stick
to your cheeks,
the splintered
candied apple
wedged between your teeth.
how the sawdust
smells,
rising like some
distant memory.
someone old you used
to know with a cigar,
and bad shoes.
the sad
elephant in the small
cage, with
a girl on top
wearing pink slippers.
the fat lady
on a stool, on a
stage, behind
a curtain that
never closes.
the string of tickets
in your hand,
with always some to
take home.
always.

where ships go

when you cried
at his
bedside.
him unable to speak.
his body
wrecked
wrecked as any
ship
struck over
and over,
slipping, ready
to sink, ready
to go where ships
go.
he waved you
away.
he pulled a tube
from
his stiff grey
lips
and said, get him
out of here.
so you left.
rowing, rowing
to shore,
alone with what
you've seen.

the eel

with her eyes
open, unable
to close
like an eel
bent and curved
under the green
water
of night.
she is tired
of everything
that she
has made,
or unmade,
but cannot
sleep.
she is coiled
in her bed,
waiting
for another
life to happen,
waiting for
another skin,
to shed.

undone

unsure
of what this pain
could be,
so early in months,
she stood wet
and limp
against
the cold
tiles
of the shower.
the blood
in rivulets,
like thin screams
down her legs,
puddling pink
at the drain.
why would she
even
tell him,
what was to come,
or end.
he had so little
to do with this.
and now.
pale, limp,
crushed under
the weightlessness
as it
leaves her
body in broken
pieces. so much is
solved, so much
will always be
unanswered.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

a nice guy

for his entire
life
he hid in
his closet
the secret
that he
was really
a nice guy.
the shame
of it was,
was that
no one
knew, not even
the few
who came to
his funeral
after he
died.

babies in the window

because
she never had
babies
her dog
and cats
are her babies.
they get
all the baby
treatment.
the goo goo talk.
the little
gifts and toys,
the photos
hung on the walls,
and secured in
wallets, or
phones.
I have to get
home to my baby,
you hear
them say.
she has to pee.
she has to eat.
she's waiting
in the window.
or at the door.
she knows
when I'm coming
home, and we
do miss each
other so.

gift cards

when you were a school
boy
you made things
in shop
class to give
as gifts for the holidays.
pot holders,
that looked
like tea pots.
shaved flat wood,
jig sawed from paper
templates, then
sanded and glossed
with stains
and sealers, small
pegs slotted
in for hooks.
then there were
the key chains, twisted
plastic,
braided in red
white blue.
or the ashtrays
ball peen
hammered by your
small hands for hours
at the thick wood
benches, beating
the metal
into small
shallow bowls.
how you still have
fingers and eyes,
is beyond you.
thank god those
days are over.

the nudge

it's a small
turtle, squared
green, that crawls
on top
of the bent
beer can
floating
in the dammed
lake, two feet
deep across,
but still not
without
a photographic
beauty
when the sun
is just
right and the trees
are mirrored
in blue water,
but it's the turtle
that strikes
your interest.
how his life has
come to this,
to be stranded
at such a young age,
his neck
twisted outward,
in a place
he knows nothing
about.
nothing has
prepared him for
this, or the nudge
that you give
him with a long
stick, knowing
that we all need
a nudge at some
point.

lola's red dress

the party started slow
the music
turned down,
being careful not
to annoy
the neighbors.
the chatter stayed
mostly in
the kitchen,
a tv buzzing
in the corner
for a game
someone needed
to watch. the finger
foods were passed
around, someone
stirred the fire,
and warmed
their hands before it.
there were polite hugs
and handshakes,
old friends,
new friends being
found, small talk
was had about
books and movies,
trips to be taken,
or just arrived
from,
and then lola
showed up
with a bottle
of tequila
in her red party
dress and her own
music.
no one remembers
much
after that, but
the sense was
that it was fun.

diamond girl

she learned
to love
diamonds,
knew the cuts
and colors
where they were
formed
and how old
they were.
she wore
them around
her neck
on her fingers
bright stars
stuck
into the lobes
of her pink
ears.
she loved
diamonds.
it was nothing
but the best
for her.
and you,
as you soon
found out
were just
costume jewelry,
doomed
from the start.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

the farmers market

the farmer puts
on his
overalls,
his farming boots,
loads up his
truck, drives
a half a mile
and brings
his tomatoes
to the market.
he secures a long
strand of straw
in the corner
of his mouth,
and acquires his
limp.
it's seven a.m.
on a sunday
and the city folk
want tomatoes,
and corn.
home made
jams
and bread.
they'll pay
nearly anything.
the farmer
is no fool.
he brings his
art work too.
the popsicle
sticks he's glued
together
to make vegetable
sculptures.
they sell like
hot cakes. it's a
living.

not guilty

I'm not judging you
she says,
in her black robe,
and high shoes,
banging a gavel
against the kitchen
table. but your
behavior and attitude
lately leaves
something to be
desired. I have no
choice but to sentence
you to a life
without me.
how do you plead?
she says sternly,
rising from her chair.
not guilty your
honor you say.
not guilty, by reason
of insanity.
which is the reason
I am here with you
to begin with.

reward yourself

you reward
yourself
with ice cream.
you are a child
at heart.
if you had
a box crayons
you would draw
a yellow
sun above a green
field
and sketch stick
figures
walking about.
a cow perhaps
would appear,
maybe a chicken.
and a fat pink pig.
you would use all
the colors
you could in
your crude barn yard
mural. then you
would reward yourself
with ice cream.
you do this
because you can.

cat in a bowl

the cat,
uncurious and
uncaring
about the mouse
peeking
around the corner
lies curled
in a bowl
in the center
of the table.
the sun
stretches a
band of warm
gold across
her grey striped
back. there is
no hurry to this
world, no place
needed to go.
her green
eyes, slivers
of cut glass blink
sleepily
at it all.
it's hard to figure
if you are
emulating her,
or her you.
both being so much
alike.

the red velvet cake

having never tasted
even a single
morsel
of a red velvet
cake,
you purchase one
at the local grocery
store.
it's heavy
in your hand.
a cylindrical
brick of soft
red cake
and cream cheese swirled
somehow
in the middle.
you try to read
the label
on the clear
plastic casing,
but the ant like
print
is too long,
and the words
beyond your comprehension
let alone
being able to
pronounce
them correctly.
it's not what you
expect when
you take a fork
and slice
off a tiny triangular
slab.
it's a sweet strange
mush in
your mouth.
you don't like
the red velvet cake.
it's promising looks
have failed
you.
so often this is
the case.

unchained

unchained
you roam the earth,
you are a wild
eyed
dog
running through
the brush
and briar
of fields
that stretch
before you.
no fence, no
walls
can keep you
now that you've
tasted
what water
is on the outside,
what food
is what
air is.
your freedom
has pinned
you into a corner.
unable
to ever go back.

what women know

you never
used to take things
back
to the store,
to the return
window,
having tried
on the shirt
or pants, tearing
off the label
and throwing
the receipt into
the trash.
but after so
many pink or
oranges shirts
and green cuffed
pants, suede shoes
in your closet,
you've learned
to keep the bag,
the paperwork,
the labels on,
and return
things
promptly.
women seem to
know this at
birth.

quicksand

quicksand
is not
a metaphor
for marriage,
although at
times it might
be construed
as that
in a New Yorker
cartoon.
the bride or
groom
slipping into
the soft wet
trap
of love,
slipping
ever downward
with each
struggle
to stay
on top.

Monday, October 27, 2014

each turn of the page

you want the book
to last.
you don't
want it to end
but you
want to get there
too. new
love is like
that. savoring
the hours,
each day, each
turn of the bright
and happy
page.

it might rain

so much
is undecided.
i'll just
leave it at
that, but
even the weather
can't make
up its mind,
it might
rain,
or it might
pass.

room with a view

needing a room,
a cheap
room
for the night,
you see the amber
glow
of a sign
just beyond
the curve
of the highway.
59 dollars,
cable t.v.
pool,
balcony,
a continental
breakfast
in the morning.
how's this
you say to Shirley,
sitting next
to you.
she's sleeping
having had
too much
chardonnay
and ambien,
and something else
you aren't sure of.
you tap her
shoulder
as you pull in
to the gravel lot.
she wakes up
and yawns, where
are we?
we're home honey,
i'll go
get the key.
okay, she says
putting her heels
back on.
see if they have
any cigarettes.
and maybe a room
with a view
of the pool.
as you walk towards
the office
where surely
norman bates
is behind
the desk you
look back and
see her
putting on her
lipstick
in the overhead
light.


the rich

the rich
want to be tanned
and thin,
or very pale
and thin.
rarely in between.
they want
the look of having
been somewhere.
to have
that refreshed
and happy
look of
too much time
and money on
their hands.
photographs are
not quite
good enough.
they need oil
paintings to capture
this look.
large family
portraits,
with dogs
on the beach,
blue skies,
cotton clouds,
smiling wide
with white teeth,
all the whiter
by their golden
sun baked lives.


soup season

it's soup
season, she says,
standing at the stove
throwing
carrots
and potatoes
into a simmering
broth.
I love soup,
she says,
sweating
as she cuts
more celery
and onions.
it'll be ready
in a few
hours. you look
at your watch
and tell
her i'll be
back shortly,
grabbing
your keys,
your wallet
and hat,
heading straight
to the burger
shop.

missing an angel

when you met
you lathered her
with sweet buttery
words and phrases
saying hallmark
things like
heaven must be
missing an angel.
god broke
the mold when
he made you,
how difficult
it must be
being miss universe
and doing all
the wonderful
things that you
do. but things have
changed, and now think
coldly to yourself,
how the devil must
missing one of
his demonic minions.
what went wrong,
who knows, but
you sleep with
one eye open
and the door locked
and closed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

a storm

she is
a storm rolling
blue
bruised
across
the violence
of ocean.
she bangs like
metal
against
the impossible
span
of deep.
her irish up
her green
eyes ablaze
with jealous
rage,
mistrust,
fear.
she is a storm
full
of cold,
the frost
of her
broken soul.
with fury
she beats her
winds across
the jagged stones
of your shore.

the greyhounds

the old
grey hound
bus station on
eleventh street
was a place
you went to
if you wanted
trouble,
or to leave
town because
of trouble.
it smelled
of wet despair,
smoke,
urine. half
eaten sandwiches
tossed
to the ground.
it was a flea
bitten
crowd that sat
scratching
at hard to reach
places.
tickets bought
with change,
crumpled bills.
the buses, long
steel wagons
with the greyhound
on the side
sprinting,
idled loudly
at their docks,
the diesel engines
belching out
dark
blooms of exhaust.
sometimes they would
fill, but most times
they were half
empty before
pulling off towards
small towns, large
cities, depositing
the lost and
lonely
to destinations
barely on a map.

dream of flying

the dream
of flying is real
and surreal
as you sleep
soundly
through the night.
how easy it
is to run
and set sail
into the air,
flying
high above the
world
without fear.
it's your will
and belief
in what you
are doing that
keeps you aloft.
no fairy dust
is needed, no
magic, no wizard
with a wand,
there is nothing
but faith
in who you are
that gives you
wings, takes you
up higher and higher
up to where
you belong

reach higher

you read a slew
of plath
poems
and you too want
to find
and oven
to lean into
and go to sleep.
it's brutal
and brilliant.
each image
carved out
with a the sharpest
of scalpels,
inked
in blood.
it's not your go
to reading
on a bright autumn
morning,
but sometimes
she calls to
you, and says here,
come here.
this is where
the bar is set.
reach higher,
you're barely off
the ground.

nature boy

three martinis
makes
you say things
that you
don't normally
say.
things like
we should
take a trip
someplace warm,
a tropical island
where we
don't need
clothes
and we can drink
coconut milk
and eat
fish
all day.
what do you think?
she says.
I think we
should see if
we can make
it through this date,
our first and
take it slow.
here, drink some
water,
nature boy.

that zen feeling

in yoga class
you get your legs
stuck
in one of those
pretzel like poses
and they have
to roll you
around the floor
to unstick you.
it's very
embarrassing
to have all these
women in tights
pulling at
your legs
and feet, tugging
at your limbs
to unravel you,
but it's kind
of fun too,
and makes you
happy in a zen
like way.


it's a man's world

what is with men
ginger asks you,
sniffling
into the phone,
blowing her nose,
fighting back
a full onslaught of
tears,
are all men cavemen,
please, tell me
it isn't so.
by caveman, you ask,
do you mean
primarily concerned
with food shelter
clothing and sex,
in no particular order?
yes, she says,
why do they want
things to move so
fast, pressuring me
to succumb to their
animal desires.
why can't they
understand that
women are crock pots,
we are slow burners,
we like to simmer
and bake, go
slow when it comes
to romance.
yeah, I've heard of
women like you,
you tell her, it's
tough out there
in the dating world.
it some ways it's still
a man's world. but...
but, but what, she
says, honking her nose
again into the receiver.
it's a man's world,
but it wouldn't
be nothing without
a woman or a girl.
who said that, she asks?
Sigmund freud, jung,
Aristotle?
no, you tell her,
my main man, James
Brown. love that song.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

yard work

boots, pulled
up high, rake in
her hand,
curled cold
around
the handle,
the shovel nearby.
a cold sun
rising
along the slant
of river
and hill.
the dog sniffing
at the edge
of a broken
fence where the deer
jumped in,
it's a long
day in the yard.
her flannel
shirt, sticking wet
against
her pale skin.
her life
slipping,
slipping as she digs
her boots
into
the ground,
bracing against
the rake.
the quiet of trees,
of birds.
a harsh blue
slash of river
showing itself between
the leafless
trees.

starting the fire

your neighbor
is often
putting notes on
your door,
or slipping an
envelope
into the slot
about some charity
she wants you
to donate to.
the notes vary from
putting
the trash out too
early,
to why is that ladder
still on
your truck,
to perhaps
that bush in your
front yard
should be trimmed
back. it's
attracting bees.
sometimes it's an
invite
to her yoga class
that she puts on
in her living room,
or a cookout
she's having
in her back yard.
she's quite the writer.
her penmanship is
superb,
always signing
it, your neighbor
becky.
they are handy little
notes, good
for getting the fire
going in
your fireplace.

the easy way out

it's hard
to forgive, you
understand
that. hard
to accept
what's true,
despite
how gently it
is said.
it's difficult
to listen
to what's wrong
with you,
hearing the list
of so many
things
the other person
has issues
with.
it's hard to sit
down and talk
things out.
see if there
is hope, or not.
to see if love
is worth saving.
these things are
hard.
being silent
and disappearing
are not, but it's
so like you
to take the easy
way out.

a small flame

she was a flame,
a minor
one at best.
small
and tender
on the tip of
a white
candle, but her
light was
dim, the heat
scarce.
still you held
it for as
long as you
could,
carrying it
with you,
hoping it might
get brighter,
start a fire
within your
heart, but
no. it just
burned slowly
dripping,
flickering,
to be
finally snuffed
out in a cold
hard melt.

do it again

you've let go
of a lot
things.
places, things
you once held
in your hand,
things you thought
you could
never live
without.
friendships
and lovers
included.
you lost the energy
to keep
them near.
lost interest
in the pain
of it all.
so you let them go.
in the long
run,
all the grieving
and tears,
all
the wringing of
hands, does
nothing. in
the end, it's
all the same.
it's not how you've
lost them,
but how you go on
to do it all
again.

the roller coaster ride

your mother tells
the story
of when your uncle
and his girlfriend
got stuck on a roller
coaster,
how it slammed
everyone forward,
lurching to a halt,
causing him
to beak his nose
on the safety bar.
the blood was
all over his white
suit, she says.
using her hands
to demonstrate
how that would look.
oh, the blood.
she stops the story
at this point,
shaking her head
and says, why would
anyone wear a white
suit to a carnival?
your uncle was a strange
man, she says,
then continues on.
the firemen had
to put their ladders
up to get everyone
down. they all had
to climb down from
the rickety rails
and boards, the metal
cars. everyone was scared
and crying. then everyone
got lawyers and sued,
she says, they all got
thousands of dollars.
thousands, but not me.
I was too scared to
get on, but I wished I
had. I wished I had.

honey bear

your new girlfriend
says that she wants you
to pour honey all over her
from head to toe
and slowly
lick it off, but
you shake your head
no. now way,
do you know how
hard it is
to get sheets cleaned
of honey? that stuff
is like glue when
it dries.
who cares, she says,
it'll be fun.
don't you want to
have fun?
I do. I'm all about fun.
but these are my
good sheets. hotel
sheets, 620 count.
Egyptian cotton. I've
only had them a month.
why don't we pour
that honey on some pancakes
later, or something.
now come here and kiss me.
you know what, sissy boy,
she says,
maybe you're not
the man for me.
she hops off the bed
and puts the plastic
bear container of
honey back into her
purse. maybe I should
go. maybe I should
find a man that wants
to please me the way I
want to be pleased.
yeah, maybe you should
you tell her, lying
back on the bed, feeling
the smooth comfort of
those blue clean sheets.

some work

he didn't look
like himself, jake
says, on the phone.
jake has been drinking
since noon.
you can hear
him tapping out
a new pack
of cigarettes,
unwrapping, lighting
one up.
he found out two weeks,
ago, he says.
cancer of the gut.
two weeks, the doctor
told him to get
his house in order.
he didn't look like
himself lying there
in a suit, stretched
out and stiff
in that frilled coffin.
I don't know,
he says. I don't know.
he pauses to smoke
his cigarette,
the says,
so how are you?
got any work coming up?
I could use
some work.

when you arrive

when you arrive
you will know it
by how
blue the sky is,
how better
food tastes
in your mouth.
how cold
and quenching
the drink is on
your lips.
when you have
arrived, there will
be music playing,
there will
be someone to open
doors, to shine
your shoes,
someone to
whisper into your
ear, how much
you are adored.
the women will be
beautiful beside
you. your friends will
be new and informed
on how to keep
you happy.
when you arrive, you
will leave
those behind that
are unnecessary.
those with the problems
you no longer have.
you will stand
on a balcony and wave
with two arms
at the applauding
crowd.
when you arrive,
you will know it,
and so will a world
the sets upon your
head a golden crown.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

don't judge me

when I die,
she tells you, you
have to clean out
my closets
and everything under
my bed.
promise me that
you'll do that.
promise, say it.
I want you to say
it out loud.
I promise, I promise
to clean out
your closet and
everything under
your bed, you
say, sure, but why?
what are you
hiding? nothing,
she says. don't worry
about it. just don't
judge me, okay?
the green plastic
trash bags are
under the sink,
and you know where
I hide my extra
key? right? yes,
yes, you tell her.
okay, now shake on
it. you put your
hand out and she
shakes your hand
firmly, then says
whew. that's a load
off my mind.

when are you free?

this saturday
i have to go to my
zumba class,
she says, so i can't
meet you for
a drink, Sunday
is yoga, then i run,
Monday i have
a spin class,
and Wednesday
I'm doing hot yoga,
which makes you say,
huh?
Thursday,
i lift.
Friday is stretching
and i rehydrate,
get a massage
with hot stones.
so i think
that leaves Tuesday
night.
are you free?
umm, let me check
my schedule.
I've got a nap
at four, but after
that I'm all
yours.

from greenland

people ask you
where were you born,
as if that
meant something
important, gave
them some clue as
to you are, or might
be. sometimes
you'll say
Greenland, I'm
from there. you
never say france
or Italy, this
will make them
happy with small
talk. so you
say greenland
and add in, but it's
not green, not
really. it was just
called that to keep
people from
going there.
this makes them nod,
politely,
hand on their
chin. thinking of
anything they can
say about geenland
that will keep
the conversation
going. but there isn't,
which makes it easy
to say, good day
and go on about
your business.

her womanly traps

you ignored
her voice. the scotch
gargled
scar
lining of her
thunderous
throat.
perhaps glass
chunks,
not ice
were in the tumbler
as she let
it roar
down her pipes.
you ignored
the smoke
rings that she blew
in circus
circles into the
yellowed ceiling
fan as it spun
as slow as the world
does on it's
frozen axis,
almost dripping wet
with nicotine.
you let go
the language that
she used,
every other word
involving someone's
mother,
a dog,
or worse.
you ignored so many
things about
her. the way she
chewed meat
with her mouth open.
her opened toes
shoes,
her finger nails,
browned, bleeding from
being chewed.
you were unable
to escape her grasp,
her unkind
love, her broken teeth
and heart.
her witches brew,
her womanly
traps.

the love list

you make a list
of what
you like about her
and what you
don't.
it's brutal.
where once there
was so
much good,
so much on
the plus side
of the paper,
now it's gone
the other
way.
she'd hate to see
the list
you've made,
as you would
the list she's
made about
you. better
crumble it and throw
it into the fire
before she
gets here,
maybe things will
change for
the better, if
she stays
another night,
another day.

fitted sheets

she likes to call
you
when she's doing laundry
at the Laundromat.
you can hear
the washers
banging against
one another,
the dryers in full
hot throttle
clinking with buttons
and zippers,
change fallen
from pockets.
hey, she yells
in the phone.
I'm doing laundry.
what are you
doing?
I'm folding clothes,
you tell her.
having trouble with
this fitted sheet.
yeah, i'll be doing
that in an hour or
so once my stuff
dries.
I hate the fitted
sheets. me too, you
sigh, me too.
this may be love.

her poetry

her poetry
is a dry
kiss upon your cheek.
it's not
quite there.
it's a friendship
kiss,
a kiss hello,
a kiss farewell.
it's not
I'm staying
the night kind
of kiss, the kind
you want.
no, the words
leave you needing
more, more
of her, more
lightness,
more darkness,
more hope,
perhaps
more fear.
try again, you want
to tell her.
it's almost,
but not quite there.

this train

set the bag down.
let it fall
from your hand
or place it
where it needs
to be. release
the weight,
the burden of
what it holds.
let the train
carry you.
let it roll down
the tracks.
relax in your
seat, gaze out
the window
at all that
is possible, at
all that you
are leaving behind.
it's gotten you
this far. this train.
the journey is
far from over.
set the bag down.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

setting cats on fire

in the neighborhood,
roaming the streets
at night
there was always
a kid
who wanted to throw
a rock
through a window,
or set a cat
on fire, or
flatten a tire
with a knife
he stole from his
mother's kitchen.
he'd encourage you
with wild
blue eyes, and
freckles like
bees captured
alive on his face
to join him,
but you'd look at him
and shake your
twelve year old head
and say, what are
crazy? hardly a day
goes by without
reading the paper
and waiting to see his
face and name

the green in her eyes

the day
is night
with these clouds.
with this
rain.
this harsh
wind full of wet
stings.
darkness has
won out.
the world
has gone grey.
only
the green
in your eyes,
that I remember,
keeps me
moving forward
with hope,
keeps sadness
at bay.

the broken window

her broken
window, says
everything.
the cardboard
patch
taped down
by her long
fingers, slipping
loose as
the weather
changes to cold,
peeling
it back.
the wind
whistles softly
into
the house.
it curls around
her arms,
her neck
as she sits
in her room,
sipping tea
to stay warm,
pondering what
was,
not thinking
what next.

applause

the play
leaves you wanting.
dry.
still thirsty
for substance,
for a drink
that will cool
your desires.
but you clap anyway.
we always clap
even if it's not
good. we
are trained to clap.
to think
good thoughts,
be positive
in the face
of adversity.
clap, even if it's
stale, and worn,
clap. but
the actors know,
some do,
as they shyly bow
for their curtain
call, knowing
that they missed
their mark. but
the clapping goes
on and on.
meaning nothing,
perhaps encouraging
more mediocrity.

her new red hair

you like her
new hair doo.
it's red, the color
of rust, like
the rust
on the back panel
of your father's
59 chevy impala.
it's as natural
as a three dollar
bill.
you feel that if
you could turn
her upside down,
like a human
cutip
you could use
her head to steel
wool a stretch
of wrought iron
railing, or scour
a tenement tub
in old hell's kitchen.
but she likes her
hair.
it's a statement.
it's an idea.
it's an insane tumble
weed upon her head,
but she wears it well,
and you say
to her, something
along the lines of,
I like your hair.
nice. it's you.

free will

the store
down
the street was
no longer
offering free
will.
the stakes had
gone higher.
the rents were
out the roof.
everything has
a price.
now free will
has one too.
the man,
with his
cigar, standing
at the counter
shrugs
when you question
what he's
done.
I have to make
a living
he says.
buy something,
or be gone.
you've had your chance.
your whole
life you've
had free will,
but now.
it's over. at
your age, it's
others who will
lead you,
who will take
your hand
and tell you where
to sit, what
to eat. what
time you go to
bed. you have no
more free will.
it's going to cost
you now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

her cup

the cup, her cup.
the one you bought
for her. yes, her
cup. is cracked.
a small fissure
has run from
circled edge
to bottom,
enough to cut a lip
if not careful.
but it's her cup,
not yours. her
life. her problems,
and now her
broken cup. you'll
put it back
upon the shelf.
it's not yours.
it's hers. her cup.

the shower

the rain surprises you.
surprises
everyone as they
dash for cover,
how quickly
it comes.
how fast the clouds
move in
to cross over
a late fall sun.
it's neither cold
or warm, just a shower,
enough to wet
everything.
enough to throw
mirrored puddles
upon the street
where you walk and
look down
at your own reflection,
your legs, your hands
your arms, your
shoed feet.

the cheerleader

shauna says
I've moved to Easton.
I have a new job.
to which you reply,
why,
and where is that?
left at the light?
she adds
in for good measure,
I've lost
weight, I can
wear my cheer leader's
uniform
from high school,
in fact I'm wearing
it right now,
as I jump into
the air
and do the splits.
tell me more
about Easton,
you say to her.
how long would it
take to get
there, how's
the parking?

crime of dispassion

arrested emotions
cuffed
at the station,
sitting on a hard
bench,
awaiting
confinement
in a dark cold
cell.
neither love
or disappointment
seeps out
of your pores.
only silence screams
of your guilt.
you show nothing
to the judge,
or jury
of your peers,
especially not to
me, the key witness
in this crime
of dispassion.
what other choice
is there,
but to find another.

in the morning

the women,
after the men have
left for work,
the children
have gone off
to school
come out to the stoops,
the marbled
white slabs
of porch, and sweep.
scrub, scour
the dirt away.
the steps gleam
in the city sun
along the long
street, where each
house shares
a wall.
the women nod,
and say hello
to one another,
speaking in low
whispers
the things
that no one else
will know.

a tear drop

each generation
believes
they invented everything.
every new thought
is theirs, art
and science,
literature and making
love is something
they came up with.
but this is a good
thing. it keeps
the world
fresh and interesting.
it takes time to
realize that you know
very little of what
this world is all
about, that you hold
only a tear drop
of knowledge of
this ocean.

laundry list

after spending an hour
folding laundry
you begin to wonder
why you have some many
shirts and pants
of the same color.
so many socks, so
many sheets and pillow
cases. what makes
you keep buying
things you already
have. blankets
and shoes, hats
and gloves. the list
is endless, which makes
me think of Lucille,
and sarah, lisa,
donna, Debbie,
and you.

when it's over

the roses
that you send will
not
do the trick.
nor will
the hand written
note
expressing love
and affection,
devotion.
the chocolates
won't help
either.
there is really
nothing you can
do, when it's
over. but let
it be over.
then she'll come
back around.

Monday, October 20, 2014

forgotten lines

like an actor
frozen on stage
waiting for a cue
from below, or
from the right or
left, or another
actor waiting
for you to speak,
you too have
forgotten your
lines, where to
stand, what comes
next in this
love affair, this
comedy of errors
that we endure.

they move as one

so strange
to see the birds as
one,
moving like
magic, like
the black hand
of god
or the devil
forcing them
in circles,
together,
up and down
above the wires,
beyond
the trees,
tireless
with their wings,
a quiet
flocking of
life, doing what
needs to be
done. no different
then we are
upon the ground.


vacant

one day
the house down
the street is vacant.
all the cars have
gone.
five mattresses
lean
against
the no parking
sign
and hydrant.
a bloated t.v.
sits next to a box
of clothes.
you see a yellow
dress,
a pair of children's
boots,
a plastic doll
with a missing arm,
her blue marbled
eyes staring up
into the sky.
a neck tie for
Christmas, red
with mistletoe
dotted
along its length.
the wind
curls into the open
windows of
the dark rooms,
the power down,
the door
unclosed.
you remember saying
hello to
them
just yesterday
and the man
responding
with a hearty wave.

the blue eyed cat

how simple
she keeps her home.
the blue sofa
coming close
to the color of
an October sky.
the rug, woven
in braids, in reds
and golds.
a chair, unrocked
for ages.
the pillow
stitched with
the words home
sweet home
sitting dusty
upon it.
how quiet the home
is.
the organ in the corner
holding plants
and photographs
of those
who look like her,
but not quite.
the blinds
tilted to
look out, not in.
the blue eyed
cat bending it's
lithe body
around the corner
to see
what there is to
see, which is
the same
as it was
each yesterday.

i love you too

she says I love
you,
then waits.
two beats, three,
four,
an uncomfortable
span of time
ensues.
it's awkward.
did you hear
me, she says.
did you hear what
I just said?
I said I love
you. oh, you say.
I thought you said,
where are my
shoes. but
thanks.
I love you,
too.

cut backs at the A&P

the grocery store
has cut back on employees.
so you bag
and ring up your own
things.
you bring a bag too,
so as not to be charged
for a new bag.
in the back of the store,
there are cows
and plastic jugs
that await you.
stools with which
to sit on as you tug
and pull for your gallon
of milk. then you
gather the eggs from
the chickens
who roll them out on
their own terms.
the pigs in their
trough run in circles
as you hold
the butcher's knife
for bacon and chops.
the fish are in a tank,
and you use the net to
capture the one you want,
tie him to a string
until the air seizes
his lungs and quiets him.
you are a member of
the store, so you do
get a discount on gas
mileage at the station
around the corner.
the music is pleasing,
as it seeps out of
the speakers imbedded
in the high ceiling.
it takes a minute to
hear what song it is.
the days of wine
and roses, sung by
andy Williams. how nice.
you stay for the entire
melody before carrying
your bags to the car.

everyday

I could never
do that, the man
in a clean pressed
suit says
to you, as you both
watch the workers
climbing high onto
the roof, the weight
of tiles and nails,
tar and glue
bending them thickly
in the sunlight,
their legs angled
so as not
to fall and die.
I could never do
what they do, he says.
could you? everyday,
you tell him. with
no place else to go.
everyday.

new to the group

she has become
part of a different crowd,
having joined
the silent
band of ghosts
that you awaken
with in the still
darkness of
early morning.
she is in the front,
because she's
new to the group,
and it fits
who she was when
she was real,
and here and telling
you things,
that still circle
like feathers
tickling your heart,
your ear.

who you were

the world does
not welcome you with
quick glad
tidings but with
a slap, a scale,
a tape
with which
to measure
and weigh
the size of you.
this taking stock
of you goes
on and on, into
old age. the markings
into ledgers,
of grades.
the scores of tests.
the band tightly
around your arm
giving a reading
as to the stress
you've endured,
or are under.
the scrutiny
of numbers, all
adding up
to something,
giving a tangible
glimpse of
who or you were.
recorded in your
permanent
record along side
the words,
gets along well
with others,
with some
exceptions.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

make up donuts

I bought you some
donuts,
you tell your wife
who is mad
at you for reasons
too complicated to
mention.
she opens the box
and takes out a powdered
apple filled
donut, looks at it
in her hand, takes
a big bite, then
throws it at your
face. it hits you
between the eyes.
jelly and powder are
all over the place.
this makes you reach
into the box and select
an ├ęclair, which you
hurl like an arrow
at her head.
she ducks but you
hit her in the ear.
it fills with a yellow
cream, the chocolate
smeared against her
cheek. this goes
on until there are
not more donuts left
to throw,
and you're wrestling
on the ground.
you kiss her madly,
she kisses you back,
you frantically rip
each other's clothes
off with a pulling
and tugging
at buttons and zippers,
shirts and pants.
you make wild
passionate love on
the kitchen floor.
it wasn't all bad
all the time.

it floated away

you carved
her initials
into the tree
with yours
below hers,
connected
by a plus sign.
you dug
deep into
the bark,
circling
the letters
with a crude
shaped
heart, and the
numbers, 03.
a year went by,
then another.
the third year
you took
the tree down
with an axe,
chopping away
at the roots,
at the trunk
until it fell,
rolled down hill
into the stream
where the currents
of time floated
love away.

white lie

a small white
lie
falls from
your lips,
it seems harmless.
like a snowflake
first
out of a cloud.
hardly matters,
as it melts
against
the ground,
but it's what
follows
that keeps you
in dark,
hip deep in
more flakes
gathered together
as one,
snow bound.

clarity

it's clear
that nothing is
clear.
the fog is
not lifting.
there is no
light
cutting through
the wet
grey rag
of sky.
there is no
obvious
answer.
there is just
this.
this fog, this
blight.
this lingering
cloud
of uncertainty
leaving nothing
to do,
but wait.

the eternal question

it's the age old
question,
the one men have
been discussing
for eons.
the one
Aristotle
and Plato sat around
in their long
robes
and debated.
Gandhi and Buddha
gave it as shot
as well, tossing
around the ying
and the yang, making
their lists
of goods and bads.
measuring one
against the other.
even St. Peter
and St. Paul
when they weren't
handing out
fish and bread
to the multitudes,
or pouring wine
that was once water,
they too asked
the eternal question,
Ginger
or Maryanne?

Friday, October 17, 2014

home cooked

what you wouldn't
do for
a home
cooked meal
by your mother's
hands.
to see her
sweating
at the stove,
laughing
in her blue
flowered dress,
her hair up,
shaking her
head
at everything
that's said.
yelling out
the window
that it's time
for dinner.
come in
and wash up.
it's on
the table,
her buttering
a plate
of white
bread.

the bell

you have a clock
ticking
in your head.
you know when things
are over.
a bell goes
off inside you.
it's time to pack
up and leave.
the clues pile
up like
laundry
on the basement
floor. no need
to argue, or
pout, or try
to seek therapy,
or get angry
or remorseful.
there is no working
things out.
you both know
it's over. just go.
the bell has
rung.

true love

you worked
with a man who every
day ate
a cheese
sandwich.
this went
on for the months
that you knew
him. worked
along side
him.
one day, he
forgot it,
leaving it on
the kitchen table
where his
wife dutifully
left it
with his thermos
of black coffee.
so when it was
time for lunch,
he ordered
a cheese
sandwich from
the deli.
white bread
and mayo, just
the way she made
it and black
coffee. true love.

the elevator

the elevator
is slow
today.
it's tired
of heaving
people up and
down,
down and up
from nine
to five
with hardly
a thank you,
a single,
hey.
it serves
the building
so well
with its
steel boxed
room,
the coiled
cables,
greased
quiet by a little
man
with thick
glasses
and a mustache
who
eats his
lunch up
on the roof.

another bottle

we need things
quickly.
fast food,
the drive through.
the microwave.
instant rice.
one minute oatmeal.
the third
date rendezvous.
we want the
cold to stop.
we want traffic
to move.
we are babies
in adult bodies,
needing, wanting,
babbling
at the full moon,
crying in our
cribs for
another bottle,
or to be held
or changed,
or sung to.

the other cheek

it's hard
to trust again,
once betrayed
or lied to,
cheated, or
ignored.
but you try.
you turn your
Christian cheek.
you sleep on it,
let it go,
let the sting
subside,
until it happens
again
then all bets
are off and whatever
there was between
you, dies.

the lesser gods

I've seen the light.
repented,
dropped to my
knees and begged
forgiveness for past
and future sins.
there are holes
in my pants where
the knees have
worn through.
I wonder sometimes
if He will stop
listening and not
take the call, will
he put me on hold,
or transfer me
to a lesser god,
a minor one who
does the weather,
or sports, or
handles those prayers
for parking spots.

the lake of you

the lake
wants you to come
closer.
to touch
it's cool
lapping
waves that
fold onto the
white sand.
so you do.
you take your
clothes off
and walk out.
beauty is
irresistible
at times,
making you
do things you
don't quite
understand.

the new world

she had a pet lizard
named lizzie,
a dog
named boo,
a cat with no
name, that she
called cat.
she had enough
metal dangling
from her face
to furnish
a tackle box.
the tattoo on
her chest was
a map of the world.
Columbus's world
when he set
sail on the santa
maria across
the atlantic
and got lost.
she wasn't coming
home to meet
your mother and father,
or siblings, or
any friends
that you knew.
but she was very
affectionate
and kind, and made
a mean pot of
delicious beef
burgundy stew.

1033 S. Lee

the stars
and moon, the planets
align
and you get
a parking space
ten feet away
from where
you need to be.
for once
in your life
you are on time.
but your euphoria
is short lived
when you realize
you are on
the north end
of the street
not south,
and have to walk
a mile
in the other
direction to arrive
at 1033 S. Lee,
late again.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

give me your head with hair

being somewhat follicle
challenged at
this stage in life,
you ponder
the goatee,
the mountain man
beard,
the snidely
whiplash mustache
twirled at
the end, or
the clark cable
bold stache,
a wide black
smudge above
your broad smile.
perhaps mutton
chops would
enhance
your aging
face. maybe the Lincoln
doo,
bare above the lips,
fuzzy below the chin
would give you
a certain amount
of intelligence
and grace.
you've come
close to having
nearly every
hair style
of the three
stooges, including
Helen reddy
and bobby Sherman,
but you've
yet to find the
one that truly
suits your
fancy as did
the one when you
were in the seventh
grade, hair
slicked back,
parted on the side
with a nice wave
in the front,
ala elvis
all held together
with a dab
of brylcreme
and a fine tooth
black pocket
comb.

the angels

everyone has a guardian
angel
she tells you, handing
you a book on
angels.
there is one for
all of us, protecting us,
watching over
our lives, keeping
us safe, at least until
it's time.
how do you know this,
you ask, turning
the pages of the book
looking at
the beautiful paintings
of angels
by Michelangelo.
I just know,
I can feel the presence
of mine everyday
beside me, she says,
and I see
the aura of yours.

dropping hints

you meet her
in the laundry.
she drops something,
which you pick up
and hand to her.
it's silky
and black, but you
are kind
enough not to
stare at what it
is too much,
not checking
the size, or
anything like
that. oh, she says.
thank you.
the next day, she
does the same
thing, and again
until finally you
get the message
and ask her out.
she says yes.
you begin to date
and end up back
at her house. you
can hardly stop
laughing when you
see that her floor
is littered
with clothes, but
you leave them
where they are
and follow her up.

jake

your friend
jake
tells you about the time
he did time
in the jump.
the jump being prison.
five years.
the details are
sketchy of what
put him there, but
you know it must
have been bad,
with repeat offenses.
he tells you
about the broken
windows, the barbed
wire, how
cold it was.
the hard slab bed
and the noise,
the constant chatter
of the inmates.
grown men crying as
they lay in their cells.
the darkness
of it all.
it hasn't left him,
thirty years
later.
and when you see him
going outside
to smoke a cigarette
you can see that
a big part of him
is still
behind the walls,
the fences,
the guards
and dogs.

bird brains

rarely do you
see
the birds
outside the window
confused
and wondering
what they should
do with themselves
on this rainy
day.
it's basically
worm day
for them.
fly low, spot
a worm, eat it.
and the squirrels,
they have no
office meeting
to attend,
setting out
goals, or making
mission statements
about the direction
of their short
nervous lives.
no, it's pretty
much acorns
all day long.
find them,
break them open
and stuff them
into your
mouth
to eat or bury
elsewhere
for later.
you envy them, as
you sit here pondering
what shirt to
wear, their
days so certain
and natural.

the waiting room

you wake up in a room
where there is no light.
you are not blind,
but you are awake.
you see nothing.
there is someone
sitting beside your bed,
smoking. you hear a drink
in his hand.
the clink of ice
against the glass.
where am I, you ask.
who are you?
who is here with me?
you're fine
the voice says.
relax. lie there
and think good thoughts.
I'm here to take you
to the next place.
am I dead?
no, not exactly.
but you need a good
talking to,
so we're taking you
for a ride tonight
to tell you some things.
to help you, let's
just say live a better life.
I don't allow smoking
in my house, you
tell the man.
sorry he says.
and drops the cigarette
onto the floor
where you hear his
shoe rub it out.
you dropped that on my
oriental rug you say, annoyed.
hey, I said I'm sorry.
if you had an ashtray
in here maybe I wouldn't
have done that.
you sigh.
what things, what things
am I going to be told.
he laughs and takes
out a pack of gum,
stick, he says? spearmint.
no you tell him,
I can't move my arms
and I can't see where
I am. how can I possibly
chew gum. what the hell
is going on here?
he chuckles. hell might
have something to do with
it he says. let's just
say you're getting
a chance to right the ship.
look, you tell him,
this isn't about what
happened to me and Sheila
is it? that was entirely
her fault, I never
would have stepped
out on her, if she
had shown me the least
little bit of affection
once in a while.
calm down, he says.
calm down. you're gonna
have a stroke.
this has nothing to do
with Sheila. it's
bigger than that.
it's more general. more
about tweaking your way
of life. your carefree
life, I might add he says,
smacking hard on his gum.
well, when, when am I
going? soon, he says.
soon. they're a little
backed up right now.
just hold on, like I said.
think good thoughts.
do you have anymore scotch?
the bottle is kind of low.
and what's with the ice
cube trays, you don't
have an ice maker?
do you know what century
this is. I bet you have
a butter churn too,
he laughs, getting up to go
down the stairs to
the kitchen. be right
back, he says. like I
said, think good thoughts.
bathroom, down the hall?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

i'm not a piece of candy

I'm not a piece
of candy
she says, dismissing
you
as a playa, as she
likes to say.
you are just like
all the other men.
you just want one
thing, and one thing
only. but let me
tell you this mister,
I am not a piece
of candy to be
found in a big glass
jar, waiting
for you to reach in
and pluck me out,
unwrap me and have your
way with me all night.
I'm not that kind of
girl. I want a
commitment and some
sort of agreement
to an exclusive
relationship before
your lips touch
my lips and furthermore
I want to walk on the beach,
hand in hand,
go to museums and nice
restaurants, I want
to meet your friends
and family, and....
stop right there you
tell her. repeat that first
part. you take out
a pen and write
down what you can remember
that she's said
so far. now go back
to the part
where you say,
I'm not a piece of
candy, you tell
her, scribbling frantically
in your notebook. this
stuff is gold. go
on go on, you prompt
her, go on...im not
a piece of candy....
then what?

down at the laundromat

your world
revolves on getting
to the laundromat.
everything
depends upon
those washers
and dryers
lined up and stacked
in long
neat rows below
the flicker
of fluorescent
lights.
the big window
allows you to look
out onto the street
as the snow
falls, as the cars
and trucks
roll by in the dark
hours, deep
into the night.
you half hear
the clanging of
coins fallen
from pockets, the
brittle pings of
zippers and buttons
against the hot
metal drums
as they spin and spin
your clothes into
warm fresh
newness.
you bring a book to
read and sit in the lime
green plastic chair
but you don't read,
too much is going on.
too many strangers
coming and going.
the folding,
the staring into
phones, the casual
nods or hellos.
it's all part of it,
as someone arrives
holding a heavy
basket, shaking
off the snow. slipping
coins into
the vending machine
with it's crackers
and stale candy bars,
the old coke
machine banging bottles
out the slot.
your world is here.
where everything and
nothing happens,
but the cleansing
of clothes,
the continuation
of your life,
as you know it.

october

you were married
once
in October.
divorced too.
your dog
died
one day in October,
you moved
four times
on Halloween.
you broke
up with a very
loving long term
relationship
in October.
you've gone to funerals
in October,
you've attended
school reunions
and other people's
weddings.
October seems to
be an exciting
month for you,
this hasn't changed
as you sit
and wait for
what's next.

keep the change

Picasso said,
as he scribbled
a picture of a bull
with a woman's
breasts
onto a napkin
in lieu of money
as payment for
the meal he just
ate, he said,
give me a museum
and I will fill
it. you want to
slap him silly
for saying such
an egotistical
thing, but
he was right,
unfortunately.

batten down the hatches

you're disappointed
in the high winds.
they weren't so high
after all.
the flash flooding
was minor. some big
puddles here and there,
but for the most
part, it was nothing.
the power never went
out, never even
flickered.
the weather man got
it wrong despite
the hysteria he set
in motion with his
maps and Doppler radar
and standing on
the roof of the weather
station, holding
onto to his hat,
pointing in the direction
of storm clouds.
so now you wonder
what to do with all
of this food you bought,
the drinks, the mixers
and chips,
a case of ring ding
juniors and a gallon
of milk,
the batteries and candles.
maybe tomorrow,
things could get worse.
there's always hope.

making dinner in the late 60's

as a kid,
when your mother
was at work
until three
in the morning,
and your father was
with a woman
named doris
down at the four leaf
clover club,
you'd set the oven
to 375
and slide
your t.v. dinner
onto the rack,
using a pot
holder like
you saw your mother
do from time
to time.
your preference
was fried chicken
with buttered
vegetables,
a small scoop
of mashed potatoes
and sliced
apples. the legs
were as large as
a thumb, the breasts
not much bigger.
your brother preferred
the meat loaf
with gravy. brown
medallions of
aromatic something,
also with mashed
potatoes
and a large spoonful
of cut vegetables.
he got the sliced
apples too, which
was considered
dessert
according to
the cover of the box.
everything was hot.
almost too
hot. you had to wait
for a few minutes
as you set the t.v.
dinners on the coffee
table, in front
of the t.v. this gave
you time to butter
a few slices of
wonder bread and pour
a glass of milk,
then together, you
both slowly peeled back
the tight foil,
carefully letting
the trapped steam
out. you remember eating
everything in a matter
of minutes, as did
your brother, and then
setting the empty
tin trays on the floor
for the dog to lick,
banging it around
the room.

her voice

the new car
will park itself.
it will tell you
where you need to
go whether
to make a
left or right,
or a u turn,
to arrive at point B
from point A.
it will
speak to you with
a very nice
voice, lilting,
almost sexy
in a kind
and gentle tone.
she doesn't ask
for much, but
when she does
it's in a compassionate
and understanding
sort of way.
how long you've
waited to hear
such a voice.

lettuce

the brown
lettuce, bought
yesterday.
will get even
browner by
tomorrow
if the leaves
are not
peeled off
and eaten.
there is nothing
you can do
about it.
you can't eat
lettuce
every day
just to keep
it green, can
you?

the spring board

she went
and fell in love
without me.
this doesn't
surprise you
one bit.
it makes you
happy, and
thrilled that you
could be
the spring board
of change
in her life.
treading water
for so
long in my
pool,
one hand on
the rope.
the diving board
still shakes
where her feet
pushed
off with an
elegant leap
into the summer
blue sky,
and was gone from
where I kept
her.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

faces

the women
sitting in the waiting
room
are beautiful.
well dressed.
well formed,
polite with smiles
as they browse
the magazines
and sip spring
water
with lemon and ice.
complementary.
in the back,
down a long hall
of white
closed doors
the doctor holds
a needle
in his hand.
one by one, as
their names are
called
they come in to
take away
the years, the worry,
the laughter
from their faces
leaving a fresh canvas
with which to
work on.


zoo keeper's helper

as a teenager
you remember
searching the want ads
for a job.
jobs were hard to come
by when your hair
was down around your
shoulders. you
refused out of principle
not to cut your
treasured locks and
give in to what the man
wanted. at eighteen
you were all about
principles and rebellion,
but you were hungry
too. each
morning you would
flip through
the classifieds,
starting with the a's
and working towards
z. rarely was there
a job that began with
z. zoo keeper's
helper, was one you
answered though.
you almost
quit the second
you were handed
a broom and a shovel
and pointed
in the direction of
the elephant cage,
but you hung in there
for a summer. looking
back on it. it was
one of your best
and most memorable jobs.

why wait

patience has
its day.
there is a time
to sit
on your hands
and wait, or
place
them side by
side
pointing
upwards in prayer,
there is that
saving grace,
but most times,
it's best
to get up and go.
lean forward
into
the night and find
what you are
looking for,
knocking on
each and every
door until you get
it right.

this one time in cancun

tequila has a way
of separating one
from his money, his
soul, his memory
and clothes.
its liquid burn
is a signal
to beware of what's
to come around
the next turn.
everyone has a story
they vaguely
remember, the details
blurred by the drink
and distance between
then and now.
you have a story too,
the one where you
are curled on the cold
bathroom tiles
of a Mexican hotel
room, while your friend
waits for you to be
right back.
and how you tipped
the maid fifty dollars
because you had
become a human
pi├▒ata and was broken
open wildly by
the club of those
last three shots.

Monday, October 13, 2014

come see me in alaska

come see me
in Alaska
she writes in
her note.
come visit
before winter
sets in
and I'm covered
in ice.
bring your love
here, your
warm kisses,
your arms
and strong hands
to pull me
near.
come see me
in Alaska
she says,
don't wait
another night,
another season,
come soon,
let's make love
this year.

maybe

maybe you'll
go down to the local
watering
hole on M street
and see
what's going on.
see if dixie
is still behind
the bar.
see if
the dj
is still playing
Alison
by Elvis Costello.
maybe the girl
whose name you never
knew is
sitting there
still nursing
that cosmo.
sitting there with
a pack of
cigarettes,
blowing smoke
into the dark
ceiling, giving
you a wave
as you take off
your leather coat.
maybe you'll
throw your coat
around a bar stool
the one you
always sat at
dave on the left,
josh on the right
delman out
on the dance floor.
Dixie will have
a cold miller
light, in a bottle,
the top
off, waiting
for you as if
thirty years had
never gone by.
maybe.

fun too

the car
won't start.
it might be
out of gas.
or perhaps
something in
the engine
has broken.
nothing last
forever you
say to yourself
as you open
the hood.
stare into
the black
grey grimy
block
of metal.
this is beyond
you.
past your
knowledge
and abilities.
if you were
stronger, you'd
release
the brake
and push it
into river.
it was a good
car. she was
a good girl.
fun too.
things just
don't last.

you reach a point

you reach a point
where
you tire
of love.
of relationships,
of meeting new people
and waiting to
see what happens
next.
you understand now
why people stay
married forever
and a day despite
the fact they
despise each other
and haven't had
sex since Ronald
Reagan was in
office.
but you get it.
a bird in the hand,
etc.
this is when you
sigh, and exhale.
stare out the window,
then stop
typing, because
you don't know what
else to say.

bug free

you ask her about
her tattoos, if they
hurt when she got them.
the butterfly
on her breast,
the cricket on her
foot. the bumble
bee buzzing very
close to the curve
of her white bottom.
there's even a lady
bug, orange with
black dots,
on her neck.
yes, she says.
they all hurt, but I
love them and might
get more. I'm expressing
who I am, and what
about you, she says.
do you have any?
no, you tell her.
I'm afraid of needles.
and I'd like to leave,
the way I came in.

uncle phil

your uncle phil
finally comes out
of the closet.
at least he believes
so.
as if no one
ever knew.
as if the bette midler
records
and his gourmet
cook ware
weren't enough
clues.
not to mention
his penchant
for art and decorating,
his trimmed
nails, and hair,
his exquisite
wardrobe
and trips to fire
island.
everyone shrugs
as he introduces
you to lou, his friend,
his very close
friend, who may
take a trip with
him, a cruise
in fact, to
Katmandu.

the make up

you kiss
and make up.
both of you say
i'm sorry,
it was my
fault.
you take her
hand. she puts
her head
on your shoulder.
she wipes
a tear a way
and smiles.
you look out
the window,
it begins to
rain. you know
that in the long
run, this
will never work,
so does
she, but for
now, you've
got each other,
and that seems
to be enough.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

how young you were

your son,
going through
the photo
album
with you,
says,
dad, look how
young you were.
ignoring
the diapers
he had on.
the bottle
in his mouth,
the wisps
of blonde
hair
stirred
softly on
his pink head.
you say
nothing, but
smile
and turn
the page. it's
nice
to have another
page to fill,
and to
become even
older, still.

the dust

this dust,
this never ending
layer
of grey white
dust,
soft as a mouse,
as
quiet too.
a snow
more silent
than any snow.
covering everything,
including
me and you.
there is no end
to it.
no stopping
it from
it's insidious
flight and fall.
it's the world,
being
born, the world
dying.
it's all right
there in the dust.

Go Hornets

the reunion
has been cancelled,
the note
says.
ernie, not his
real name,
has come
down with shingles.
he was
organizing
the music
and the food,
and was providing
the space
in his backyard.
unfortunately
there is no
one else
to take his place.
in fact,
out of four hundred
and thirty seven
invites, only
six responded,
two of which said,
maybe.
so, with our
regrets,
I am Ernie's wife,
linda,
we hope to see
you in five
years, at the next
reunion.
go Hornets.

weekend in new york


with the Met
in mind,
from
the Roosevelt hotel
you walked
what seemed
to be a thousand
miles
up 5th avenue,
through central
park,
and beyond.
dismissing
cabs
along the way.
breathing
in the cold
air
that swept
in from three
sides
of the island.
and half the way
you held
hands, you
touched
one another,
stopping to kiss,
to hand your
camera to a stranger
to take
your picture.
how long ago
it must have been.
how sweet
it is to still
be friends.

she was beautiful

how easy it is
for a boy
or man
to fall in love
with a woman
or girl
across from
them on
the train,
or bus, or
subway crawling
slowly
beneath the ground.
how easy it
is to plan
a life together,
with this
unknown beauty
unaware of
those around her,
lost
in her world,
her phone or
magazine, or
thoughtlessly
staring out
the window.
how men decide
so easily on what
is right
for them,
and how wrong
they often are.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

grain of salt

perception
is
often skewed
by
mood, or
drink.
fatigue or
euphoric
feelings of
wellness.
the words you
collect
in your ears
play out
differently
depending
on so much.
so you try,
as much as
possible to
take it all
with a grain
of salt.

one copy

she asked
you if you wanted
tea.
a cookie
or two, perhaps
a pastry
warmed
in her oven.
she was old.
alone.
a long driveway
took you
to her home.
she slid
her book in
front of you.
I want you to
read this,
she said. tell
me what you think.
the papers,
unbound,
were yellowed
and frayed.
editing marks
in red
ink littered
the sheets
like drops
of blood.
take it home with
you, she said.
but be careful
with it. it's
my only copy.
it was her life.
you loved it.

keep hope alive

gambling
is coming to your
town.
the hungry,
the poor
the disenfranchised
can't wait
to cash their
social security
checks
and bus on over
to the bright
lights
and bells
that jingle jangle
all night long.
cheap food
and drinks.
why not.
what are we
living for if
we can't die
on our own terms,
making
others rich
as the coins drop
into the wishing
wells.
at least we have
hope now
that the stars
will align for us
this time. we must
keep hope alive.

baking new love

new love
is fragile
as it bakes.
you touch
it carefully
as it warms.
prodding it
with a
fork to see
if it's done.
if it's
ready
to actually
be called love
at all,
too soon
and it falls
apart, too
late
and it's burned
and thrown
away.

helping hands

there is quicksand
in life.
giant puddles
of soft wet sand
that you don't
see until
it's too late.
sometimes there
is a vine
nearby that you
can use to pull
yourself out,
other times
a friend or lover
might be in
the near vicinity
to give you a
helping hand.
maybe a brother
or sister is
strolling about,
but don't
count on it,
they're very busy
with their
own lives
and sinking sand.

always raining

she had no
funny bone.
no grin,
or sarcastic
take
on anything.
her laughter
was rationed off
in small
bits.
saved for a pet
perhaps.
the world
to her was black
and white,
leaning
mostly towards
black.
it always seemed
to be raining
when you
were with her.
which you ignored,
but it was
a clue, a cold
wet clue
that chilled
you in the end.

the conversation

the conversation
over coffee
leads to
aches and pains,
hay fever
remedies,
stiff joints
and bones.
you speak of
someone
you knew, younger
in fact,
who woke up
with a bruise
on their arm
and was dead in
a month.
you both shake your
heads, sip
your drink
and say you never
know, do you?
it's less about
the news now,
less about the world
outside your
worlds.
you've both
narrowed it
down to a tidy
circle of land.
the kids, and gardens,
pets,
and yes, Tylenol
pm.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

continuing your lifestyle

you're going to need
this much
in order to retire
at the age
of 66 your financial
broker says.
is the decimal
point in the right
place, you say,
squinting at
the spread sheet
in front of you.
there is an up and
down red lined graph.
yes, she says.
and puts her hand
on her chin.
you notice that
her hand is tan,
so is her arm,
and her neck
and shoulders.
she looks good.
like she's had some
work done.
and that dress she's
wearing. it's not
just off the rack.
she taps her
finger on the spreadsheet
again, to get
your attention.
you'll need this much
in order to live
at the lifestyle
you are currently
living at until
the day you pass on.
pass on, you say,
to yourself.
so, you say, looking
at her. what do you
want me to do?
so, you need
to save more
money. invest more.
in fact, I have a
list of five blue
chip stocks that I
think you can do well
with. write me
a check right now
and let's get
started.
you're listening
to her, but your mind
is wandering,
thinking exactly what
is this lifestyle
that you are living
and must continue.

cat and mouse

it's a strange
game
this thing we
play at.
this cat and
mouse
chase,
never knowing
exactly who
is what.
it's a circle
without,
an end, no start,
no middle.
it just goes
on, until
one or the other,
decides it must
stop.
and the fun
is over.
then you never
hear from
that person
again.

nice and easy

you see
it in their eyes.
niceness
being mistaken
for weakness.
it's okay.
let them believe
what they want,
but don't
awaken
the beast within,
you don't want
to go down
that road.
and neither
do I.

forever young together

you think a lot
about your friend
john, who died
last year after
a ten month battle
with cancer. it
wasn't much of a
battle, really.
he was hairless
in a month from
chemo and radiation.
weak, bone thin.
but on the phone
he was who he
was. funny,
optimistic.
intelligent and
quick. you miss
him. you miss his
presence in your life.
the connection
of forty years
of phone calls,
and basketball
games, drinking,
wedding and divorces,
kids being born.
through it all, you
were there for each
other. you think
about him now.
his guitar
in his hand, his
blue fiat. his
beret, his scraggly
beard and laugh.
in your mind,
he's forever young.
you both are
forever young
together.

spilled coffee

the morning starts
out
with a woman
spilling a hot
cup of
coffee on your leg
as you stand
at the counter
waiting for
someone to bring
another container
full
of cold half
and half cream.
she pushes the top
down too
hard
and the cup
collapses, splashing
your shorts,
your shirt,
your leg, filling
up your shoe
with hot
black coffee.
she says, ooops,
my bad, are
you okay.
I'm good, you say.
the sting is already
going down
as you splash
skim milk onto
the blistering skin
and blot it
with a handful
of recycleable
napkins.

uncle buddy

she tells you about
her uncle buddy.
which may or may not
be his real name.
he's a problem solver
in new jersey. she's serious,
but laughs about a
mysterious body
found in a swamp
a long time ago.
I don't know anything
about it, she says,
taking a bite
of her lobster roll.
this makes you take
your hand off her
arm, and slide
your chair slightly
away. she's nice
and attractive, but
this buddy guy has
you looking over your
shoulder as you nurse
your drink and nibble
on another pretzel.

the first cup is free

you decide to skip
the coffee
shop and go straight to
work, but
you begin to shake
on the freeway.
your eyes begin
to twitch, your
hands tremble on
the steering wheel.
you are sleepy,
grumpy and weaving
in and out of traffic
like a madman.
you can't focus.
you rub your face
with your hands,
you scratch your head.
you let out a sigh
and find a map
with another shop
nearby. you see
the long line, but
you don't care. you
pull over and stagger
over to huddle with the
others, money in hand
waiting for your fix
of crushed beans
and hot water.

a trail of her

there's sand
on the floor, a trail
of wet
footprints,
sand
in the kitchen,
in the bathroom
where a wet towel lies.
granules
going everywhere,
up the stairs,
into the bedroom.
the sand
is all over the place.
she brought
the beach into
the house.
there she is lying
in bed.
sunburned and still
wet from
the ocean. I got
sand in
your bed, she says,
smiling.
are you mad at me?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

follow me, it's easy

I can do a dance
for you,
she says,
bouncing around
in her yoga
pants.
I've been taking
pole dancing
at the studio
where I work.
it's a great work
out. feel my
leg. that's muscle
baby.
put some music
on, let me show
you. sure,
you tell her,
hold on a second,
let me get
my glasses
and a flashlight,
you dig through
your drawer
full of music
and find what you
are looking for.
you pop in a cd,
Sinatra's,
the summer wind.
it begins gently,
the summer wind came
rolling in
from across the sky.
I can't dance
to that she
says ,hands on
her hips, pony
tail waving behind
her. sure
you can you tell
her, come here,
take my
hand, put your
head on my
shoulder
and listen to
the words.
let your feet
move, follow me.
it's easy.

reflection

you take a moment
to compose
yourself.
ponder the day,
yesterday. you
try not to think
too hard
about tomorrow.
you think
about killing
the computer for
awhile.
unplugging
the beast that sucks
up the air
you breathe,
get off altogether.
stop
the continuous writing,
the browsing,
the amazon late
night shopping.
maybe you should
shut it all
down. take a
deep breath and
exhale. let
the creative
energies rebuild,
refocus, get renewed
in the silence
of meditation and
reflection.
that was an hour
ago.
enough of that.

naked and afraid in springfield

you wake
up naked and afraid.
your
survival mission
is the rest
of your life.
you need
water, you need
fire and food.
you need
conversation
and affection.
you look out
the window and
see the brutal
environment of
the suburbs.
the shrubbery
and parked
cars, trees
bending in the sun.
dogs barking,
kids in strollers.
kids going to
the bus stop.
mothers
and fathers
driving off to
work.
you hear
the squirrels
scampering
against the roof,
grabbing
acorns from
the gutter.
it's man against
nature, but first
you need a shower
and a cup
of coffee
before you face
this cruel and
unforgiving world.

her unromantic way

you see her on
the street
with someone new.
someone the complete
opposite of you.
she's happy now
with her new beau,
or so it seems,
except when he goes
to take her hand,
put his arm around her,
and she moves away.
she hasn't changed
in that unromantic way.

the admiral

the admiral,
aged now,
without his fleet,
his captains
at the wheel of
ships
at sea,
the man without
a uniform,
shuffling about
with no hat,
no medals or
ensignia
to tell you who
he is and
where he's been,
is beside you
at the produce
aisle, sorting
through
tomatoes, radishes
in the bin,
he's picking up
stalks of corn,
and putting
them back.

betty's baby

women have been having
babies for years,
as long as you can
remember, but it always
surprises you when
someone you know is
having one. especially
if they aren't married
and they are close
to sixty years old.
betty, you exclaim,
seeing her in
the whole foods market
buying a gourmet chicken,
how are you? ummm,
what's going on here?
what happened?
you gently poke her
large extended belly.
boy or a girl?
she smiles broadly,
I'm great. just great.
don't mean to be rude,
betty dear, but are
you having yourself
a baby, or have you been
eating too many donuts?
she leans in and says,
shhh, then whispers,
it's a pillow. I
have a pillow from my
couch stuck under my dress.
you can't believe the
treatment I get
when I wear this
maternity dress. parking
spots, people get up
on the metro and give
me their seats. it's
wonderful. I'm being
treated like a human
being for the first time
in a long time. I don't
even have to stand in
line anymore, I just
start gasping for air,
and I'm moved to the front.
no one wants to see a
baby splashing out onto
the floor, so I'm in
and out of stores in
a jiffy.
sweet, you say sweet.
hey, let's go out for drinks
one night and catch up.
but ditch the pillow okay.
no way, she says.
I'm going to be with
child for a long long
time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

free shuttle

the mechanic
shakes his head.
holding
a greasy metal
part
of your engine.
he mournfully
carries
it in to the waiting
room where you
sit
looking at magazines
with liz
taylor on the cover.
it's not good
he says. I'm sorry,
but it's not good.
how much, you
say, what's this
going to cost me?
I don't know,
he mumbles,
still staring
at the black oil
leaking between
his fingers, holding
the still pulsing
gear
in his hand. it
could be hundreds,
thousands, we
won't know until
tomorrow, can you
wait, or do you need
jimmy to drive
you home?
it's a free shuttle.

side by side

we were
two spoons
side
by side
in the drawer,
in love.
knowing not
that one
day we would
be different
somehow, having
drifted
apart to
become a fork,
a knife.

the desert days

your desert days
are over.
your wandering across
the sand
in the hot
sun. from here
on out, you'll
take
the high road,
the wet
green roads,
the cool and shady
side of
the street.
wisdom comes
from the burns
and blisters on
your heart,
your soul,
the bare
skin
of your feet.