Sunday, November 30, 2014

what's left

when she left
she took everything,
everything that was hers,
almost.
her make up,
her contact lens
solution,
her slippers
and hair brush,
her copy of king lear,
her sleeping mask,
but she left her
back scratcher.
a long wooden stick
thing with a hand
like claw at the end.
you are using it
now, finding that sweet
spot at the center
of your back that you
could never quite
reach. you should
probably call her
and give it back,
but it feels so good.
you think you'll keep
it for awhile.
maybe she won't miss
it, like she doesn't
miss you.

it's or its

she lectures you
on the phone
about using an apostrophe
after
t and before the s.
being an English teacher
she is always on the job,
patrolling
the grammar streets,
the punctuation
beat of your mind.
you can't assign
passiveness to an object
she says,
trembling with concern.
you should know that by now.
sit down and write
twenty times I will
not use it's, when it's
supposed to be its.
use it in a sentence.
show your work and double space.
I want this done by
the end of class.
and would it kill you
to use a capital letter
once in a while, mr.
e.e. Cummings want to be.

the brussel sprout dilemma

you take a risk
by putting the trash out
early.
becky,
your neighbor
has her eyes on you.
she's in her bedroom
staring out
with her binoculars.
but they stink, these
bags of garbage that
sit in your kitchen.
you double
bag everything and
spray them
with bleach
to keep the raccoons
and squirrels,
foxes
and deer out of
the debris.
then you drag them
all to the curb
full of
stuffing and
turkey bones.
foil and wrappers.
disgusting soggy
food that you aren't
sure how you ever
ate any of it.
a brussel sprout
escapes
at one point, the pavement
causing a hole
in the bottom of a bag,
before long
brussel sprouts
are rolling all over
the parking
lot, from your
door, to the curb
to the fire hydrant
where the trash is
left for pick up. one
by one you go back and
quickly kick
each sprout
down the street before
becky comes out
with her camera.
you don't want to touoh
them. you don't
even like brussel
sprouts, they are
ridiculous vegetables.
you want to pick them up
and throw them at
becky's window, but
you don't. it is the
holiday season after all.

the blank page

you ponder the blank page.
the open
day.
the clear blue sky
before you.
with no where to be,
no love
in town,
you've got a plate of
hours
to fill with whatever
comes your way.
no list of chores,
no bills
to pay,
no where to be seen
or heard from.
perhaps you'll sit
here and let your
fingers dance across
the key board
and fill these open
spaces,
fill the ominous
blank page.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

black friday sales

you make the mistake
of buying
a horse.
it's too big for one
thing.
hardly fits into your squared
town house
yard.
it needs attention.
water,
oats. a brushing down.
there's no
place to ride him
either.
he makes a lot of
noise too.
all that naying.
maybe you should
let him
loose so he can go
back to
the barn where his
friends are.
perhaps it was a bad
idea,
but he was so cheap,
on sale, marked down
forty per cent
for black Friday.
how could you resist.

what's wrong wtth her

knowing that it can't be you
why this relationship
ended,
you break out your well
worn
psychology book and begin
to pick up clues
as to what was wrong with
her, and as I said,
it was her not you
that caused this tragic end.
you look up demon possession
first, but that tells you
to go the bible
and reference exorcism.
so then you try
narcissism, you seem
to be on to something
there. then Asperger's syndrome,
a very mild form of autism.
out of twenty one
symptoms, she has twenty.
you try paranoid
schizophrenia, this too
seems possible.
but your diagnosis is
incomplete. you might
need to do a series
of tests on her, both
oral and written, some
blood work, observe
her in a controlled
environment.
if only she would take
your calls when you call,
or e mail you back
you could get to the bottom
of this break up.

do we stay


your past is of no interest
to me.
somehow
whatever has transpired
in your life
has left you
with limbs in tact.
just the present
is needed.
the future
is too far away.
let's talk about now,
what we have here,
across the table.
do we go.
do we stay.

Friday, November 28, 2014

where you are

the road unwinds behind
you. the trees finally
free, like you, of the burden
of leaves, stand grey
and naked on either side.
you can't go back,
you can't forward.
you'll be here for awhile,
in this place you call
home. maybe forever. maybe
this will be your last
stop. don't count on it.

i am the sun

the world
does not revolve around
you,
people like to say.
but in a way
it does.
who feeds me,
who clothes me,
who gets up
to go to work,
provides my every need.
me.
that's who.
so yes. I am
the center of my
universe.
I am the sun.
get used
to it.

wanda

you force
yourself to call
wanda
to say
happy holidays.
she scolds you
for ten minutes
as she's prone
to do when drinking
then says
happy holidays
to you too.
you know you
could visit
once in awhile,
I'm only
a plane flight
away. at this
point you turn
the dishwasher on
and hold
phone close
to the racket of
pots and pans
being pummeled
by water
and detergent.
bad connection,
you tell her.
i'll you back.
I can't hear you.
happy holidays,
wanda.

you wanted more

she was not enough.
you wanted more.
more of what
you aren't sure
exactly, perhaps
a teaspoon of spice
to heat things up,
a level
half cup
of more love,
powdered affection.
you wanted more,
more icing
to sweeten her,
more salt to bring
her back down
to earth.
you wanted more.
more colored sprinkles
to float
down upon your
lives together,
more mirth.
you wanted more.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

one red one white

you have zero
interest
in driving a hundred
miles
to eat
at your aunt
June's
house for thanksgiving.
you feign
sickness
over the phone.
coughing
like a camel smoker.
she
begins to cry.
I haven't
seen you in so
long.
I might be dead
by the end
of the year
in case you haven't
heard.
they found
something
on my leg.
it's a lump
the size of a pea.
but you never know.
there is a long
pause.
i'll bring wine,
you finally say.
one red one white,
she says back,
then hangs up.

nothing to waste

she likes
leftovers. loves
them.
but she likes
wrapping
left overs
and neatly placing
them all into
plastic tubs
and containers
even more.
she likes
writing with
a magic maker
what they are,
despite
being see through.
on goes the date
too
in bold black
letters.
gravy.
stuffing, potatoes.
turkey.
sweet potatoes.
this makes her
happy.
nothing gone to
waste.
she slaps her
hands
together when she's
done, then stands
at the kitchen door
and yells,
anyone for dessert?
those containers
wait on the counter,
empty as well.

your new life

you wake up
in the wrong house.
the shoes
don't fit.
the clothes
are too large.
the walls are blue
not green.
there is a stranger
sleeping
beside you.
even the dog
who hops
on the bed
and barks is
different.
the children
in the other room
are laughing.
they sound happy.
you don't recognize
their voices.
your new wife
rolls over and
smiles at you.
she says
good morning
sweetheart.
then with her finger
on her lips,
she whispers,
go lock the door.
you like
this new life
you've stumbled
into.

a different life


easy
and bored,
itching to live
a different life,
it was rumored
that he
died
in a car crash
in mexico.
that's all you ever
heard.
but you've
imagined
often
that road,
unpaved,
the stars out
in the black Mexican
sky,
tequila in
hand, a girl
at his side,
both singing
poorly to a song
on the radio,
her dark eyes
smiling, not
understanding
anything
as they crossed
the center
line, too late
to turn,
too late
to change this end,
to live a
different life.

turkey dog

how happy
the dog is
with all this food
being cooked.
he can hardly
contain
his joy, his
tongue out
his tail wagging
as he circles
the kitchen
going from
table to table,
room to room,
impatient
as a child.
you open
the oven to show
him the turkey
as you
baste it
with its own
juices, this
makes him stand
on his hind
legs
and clap his paws
together.
he can hardly wait.

alone

you feel weathered
and heavy.
a ship
on the rocks
beaten by
relentless waves.
caught in a storm.
you don't even
bother yelling
abandon ship,
they've already
gone and swum
to shore.
the rain pelts
your face.
there is no escape.
this ship
will sink
by morning. you
will die as
you lived,
alone.

sugar plum

you've never
had visions
of sugar plums
dancing in
your head, but there
was this one girl,
lucy, that you used
to date.
sometimes
you'd dream about
her in a plaid
skirt with
patent leather shoes.
you did call
her sugarplum at
times, so I guess
that counts.

the left turn

in the clearing
you
see the angels
gathering
together,
waiting for you,
so you take a
left turn,
you aren't ready
to be taken
away. you zig
zag through
the trees.
there are things
left to done
which makes
them laugh and run
to catch up
with you, taking
your hand
and whisking
you away on
white spread wings.

why pretend

let's not
do new year's eve
your friend tells you
over the phone.
we might feel
forced to kiss,
or sleep together.
it would ruin
us, don't you agree?
it's such a hard
holiday,
one of regrets
and promises,
vows we'll
never keep.
let's not do either
for once, but
keep our heads
about us, okay?
we'll have an early
dinner, turn in
at ten,
separate checks,
and rooms.
why pretend?

this affair

as she lay
in his bed, across
the room
she could see
his wife's hair
brush, still
with long black
strands
from when she last
used it.
her perfume,
on the dresser,
a pink bottle
on a mirrored
pond
where a ring
and a watch sat
as well,
in reflection.
how unkind we are,
she thought,
how lost this
is.

the staiwell

when they made love
it wasn't making
love at all
it was something else,
she would
tell the police,
how yellow
the walls were she
told them, the exit
sign in red
over the closed door,
the cracked ceiling
where rust
leaked out
and him on her,
pressing his body
as a stranger would.
his face
rough against hers,
his hot breath.
she leaned
on the steps
her hand
finding a broken
shard of glass,
the bottom
of a bottle.
the pain mixed
with odd pleasure,
the blood warm down
her arm while
she listened
for footsteps
coming to save
her, those sounds
that could
save her, those
sounds that
never came.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

broken glass

a stone
thrown at your
window
begins
a small crack
in the large
pane.
it doesn't
shatter, but
moves like
a lighting strike
across
the glass.
inching
towards
each side
in a zig zag
pattern.
by morning it
will
be finished.
you will replace
it
and start anew.
these things you
are good
at.

let's go

let's go drinking
your friend
says.
let's go downtown
and find
two empty
stools and fill
them with us.
let's roll to where
we used to go.
to the green pastures
of women
who still are young.
let's revel
in the past
when nothing
was feared
when we
were lions
on the prowl.
let's tie one
on. let's remember
who we were
before time
brought us down.

a house unfinished

you make an
error in judgment.
you are
an inch
short on
this lumber,
in making
the cut.
how careless
you are in building
this house.
how twisted
and bent the nails
are.
unbalanced
are the floors,
the ceilings
sag.
the windows don't
close.
even the land
is uneven
as you stand at
the door.
the pasture
of weeds and rocks
saying
it all.

the fire


she burned from
the bottom up,
her wires singed
and sparked,
the tinder of her
bones,
set ablaze,
the feathers of
her heart
the frame of her
soul, paper thin,
too hot,
too far gone
to be put out.
even his axe
against
the doors,
the windows, could
not save her.
the ladder of his
love
empty, swaying
in the night.
she would be ashes
before dawn,
left cold and
wet
in the debris
of what she didn't
see coming.
her misplaced love.

your jersey girl

thin
and pale
your long hair
tight
beneath your cap.
a thumb
out on the grey
stretch
of highway
heading east.
you had a chance
in 72
of being
picked up
and taken to
the shore,
where things
would be better.
you had
gas money
to share.
you had ideas.
you were thin
and worn,
but happy to
be leaving
where you were
and going
to see her, your
jersey girl.

the forecast

the sky
cannot decide
what to do.
rain or snow.
stop for awhile,
be loud and
be windy.
be silent
and cold.
except for
when the sun
comes out
and spreads
warmly
across my brow,
it reminds me
so much
of you.

liquid love

it's liquid
this love.
how it moves
and fills
the cracks,
slides easily
into the gaps
and holes
of me.
it doesn't
make me
whole,
but for now
it spills
over the edge
of my once
half empty
cup.

the throw away poem

so many throw away
poems.
poems without a soul,
just words
you are throwing
at the wall
to see what sticks.
the fire burns low
at the moment.
call it fatigue,
sadness, the rain.
the cheerfulness
of the holidays
taking it's grim
toll.
but this too shall
pass you think
as you put the parade
on the tv. how happy
everyone is to see
a parade, so you
sit back and wait
for it to happen
to you.

the red sweater

she puts
on her red sweater.
the one
with snowflakes
and reindeer.
the holiday sweater.
she decides
to be happy today.
she makes
her cheeks red.
she smiles
in the mirror.
takes three pills
then
gulps down
some water.
she stiffens her
back
and shakes her hair.
time to put that
turkey
in the oven.
but first open
the wine,
a starter glass
before anyone gets
here.

one light on

you ride
by the house where
your mother lived.
it's empty and dark.
her husband
of forty years,
not your father,
is in there under the one
twenty five watt
bulb
counting pills.
sewing a hole
in a sweater.
with a pencil
he adds up what's left
on the back
of an envelope.
how quickly it all goes
despite
how hard one saves
and mends
counts
slices of bread
on fingers,
cold toes.

happy endings

some jobs
you left willingly
but most,
they told you,
your services
will no longer
be of use to us,
but in shorter
terms
such as
you're fired.
get your hat
and go.
these jobs
when they ended
were the ones
once over
put a spring in
your step.
made you happy
to be gone.
thrilled to be
free and penniless
again.
you saw the end
in the beginning.
sort of like
how it is with me
and you,
right now.

not surprised

the essence
of her
has slipped out
of the house.
slid
like a soft
vapor
under the crack
of the door,
the window
ajar
unclosed.
out the vents,
the chimney.
she's gone.
not thing remains.
not a shoe,
or stocking,
no brush
or comb.
no lipstick
left on the sink.
no note
to say farewell.
nothing
surprises you
anymore.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

across the bay

your father
with his thick hands
around the oars
rowed the small
planked
boat across the bay.
the waves splashed
against
and over
the sides, wetting
your shoes.
your sunburned face.
no life
jackets on
you and your brothers
your sisters.
five of you,
under the age
of ten,
sailing
under the power
of his mighty
arms.
going for ice
cream. your love
for ice cream
has never diminished
nor your love
for him,
although his
reckless life
and way of thinking
has not eluded
you either.

your restless leg

your restless
leg
is circling
like
a small
propeller
without
a boat to
push.
it clicks
against the table,
again
and again,
sometimes
at night
it churns
away putting
the blankets
and sheets
into a spin.
it's just
a small thing,
but it could
be the beginning
of the end.

the year done

the bird
a puff of grey
brown
feathers
sits
on the sill
looking
in, neither
warm
or cold.
not searching,
not a worm
or stick
in it's yellow
beak.
calm,
and collected.
just sitting there.
her year
done.
how nice to find
that peace
and rest.

he'll be gone

her blue
period has lasted
for months.
she can hardly
rake a leaf
or dig
in her yard that
rolls down
to the broken
fence.
even the sky,
it's awful
blue, seems
tilted, slanted
towards
yesterday.
what could have
been said,
or done differently
doesn't matter
now.
the blue period
will
go on
through Christmas
and new
year's.
maybe by spring.
he'll be gone.

another room

your
mother is getting
younger.
the lines
of worry on her
face
have turned
to soft flour.
her brown eyes
are even
browner in
this November
light.
she sits at the bare
table
and smiles,
laughs as a child
would and asks
so how are you.
you try not to cry.
try not to show
how sad
you are at her
being old,
her becoming a
child again.
she doesn't want
you to go and takes
your hand.
don't leave
me here, she says.
you wish there
was a way to tell
her that
you are always
together.
that you aren't leaving,
but just moving
to another room.

turkey cannonball

careful
not to over cook
the turkey
you set it on low.
way low.
too low maybe
it's four o'clock
and you are
still
seeing pink.
you decide to
deep fry
it at the last
minute
and drop it into
a bucket
of hot oil.
the turkey
shoots through
the roof
like a cannonball,
exploding,
but the wings
and legs
get stuck
in the rafters
so you have
some dark meat.
you call everyone
out from under
the table and say
grace.
you eat.

Monday, November 24, 2014

taste like chicken

in hell
things won't
be so nice.
everything will
taste like
chicken.
there will be fire,
there will
be ice.
you'll have a scratch
you can't itch.
your mother in
law will be there
with a rolling pin,
and the coffee
will be cold,
the biscuits stale,
your shoes
won't fit right,
nor your clothes,
not to mention
that the overhead
music will be
a steady stream
of either rap,
or disco,
or barry manilow.

eggs over easy

I feel like I'm coming
out of my shell
after breaking up with
Charlie, she tells
you getting out of
the shower. you hand
her a towel and a cup
of coffee.
Charlie kept me from
being myself, she
says, drying herself
with the towel.
we never laughed at
the same things, never
were on the same page,
you know what I mean.
it was always awkward.
you nod, as you brush
your teeth in
the shared mirror.
you know how I like my
coffee, she says sipping,
perfect. why can't
I fall in love with
a man like you?
someone who can fix
me coffee?
you shrug your shoulders
and spit into the sink,
dunno, you say,
then take the bottle
of Listerine to gargle.
it burns your throat
and eyes, then you spit
that out too.
I miss him, though,
she says. in some weird
way we were a couple.
you try not to roll
your eyes as you
check your teeth out
in the mirror. he's
texting me right now,
she says lifting her
phone off the toilet.
should I call him?
sure, you say, maybe
you can work things out.
I'm going down to fix
breakfast...over easy,
toast? yes, she says,
you are the best. then
she dials up Charlie.


cinammon buns

in heaven
things will be better.
everyone
is young,
no need for crutches
or glasses.
no waiting
in lines,
no traffic or snow
storms.
no snakes
creeping along
the yard.
in heaven things
will be better.
no pain,
no sorrow,
no death or disease.
it will be
fun,
hot coffee
and warmed cinnamon
buns for everyone.

lights off

he pinched
the Lincoln penny so
hard that
it turned into
a string of copper
wire.
no light
left on, or drizzle
from a spigot.
string
and boxes all saved
for that
rainy day.
and now, old,
as he sits, staring
out the cold
window
in the same
shoes, the same
chair, alone,
he stares
at his thread
worn
pants, he thinks
about spoiled milk,
he wonders
if he can sew
that tear.

a good start

it
trickles
down
this icicle
hanging
like
a clear
spike
from the
guttered roof.
trickles
down
and leaks
its watery
blood
upon me.
but it doesn't
fall.
it stays
there, stays
put.
doesn't
make me duck
and dodge
to save
my life.
a good start
to another
day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

the haircut

you don't need
a barber
any more
but you go
just the same.
you sit in the high
leather chair
that swings easily
around to see
your thinning
hair, your
aging face, your
shoulders
beneath
the white, pin
striped cape.
it's what men do.
they say nothing
to one another
that isn't already
known.
they nod, the barber
turns your face
with thick fingers
to the side
for the razor,
leans you forward
for the comb.
there is the gentle
slap
of cologne upon
your cheeks and neck,
the dusting
of powder, the
spin once more around
for your approval.
it's fine, you
say. it's fine, then
the cape removed
and payment made.

as time slips by

some need money
stacked
high in order to sleep
well
at night, while
others
need love
and affection,
fame, a warm body
beside them
as the stars
appear
in the sky.
still others
are content to wander
the earth with
neither catching
a few winks here
and there,
as time slips by.

the hand that grieves you

you bite the hand
that grieves you.
she hardly notices.
you bite again,
harder this time.
she wipes
away the blood.
and sneers at your
attempts at anger.
so you try a different,
approach, one
of remorse and regret,
contrition,
but this too,
means nothing to
her. it's too
late, whatever love
you once had, has
long ago left.

too early

I bought this pie
too early
you think to yourself
as you cut another
slice and slide
it onto your plate.
you should have
waited a few more
days. been more
patient, but what
if they were all
gone, then what?
you get
the whipped cream
out and give the
pie a healthy spray.
oh well, you shrug,
and settle into
the big chair,
a week away from
the holiday.

a warm spot

there is a warm
spot
in your heart
somewhere.
you've located it
before,
a while back
perhaps.
but you know it's
there, so does
she, which
keeps her
around, at least
for now.

the teacher's conference

the harbor
is a buzz with English
teachers
here for
the national conference.
you see
them with their
books and pads,
their studied
gazes behind thick
glasses
and overcoats
that are too thin
to keep
them warm
in this frosty air.
you hear them
talk of failure
and passing,
of discipline and
homework.
they are so intent
on taking
home with them what
they've absorbed
in the endless
seminars, by nights
end though,
they are sloshed
and quoting
Shakespeare,
on the street,
yelling things like
my kingdom for a horse.
you love
teachers.

waiting for word

a line
of black birds
against
a smooth canvas
of grey
clouds.
it's freezing,
but they don't
seem to mind
in their
tight black
jackets,
stiff beaks,
that neither
grimace
or smile.
they seem to be
waiting,
waiting for
a word
on where to fly
next.
how often you too
have waited
for those
words
to be heard
as you sit
on a black line
against
the wintry sky.

first date

can I sing you a song
she says,
I want to be a
singer. I brought
my guitar along
just in case you did.
sure, you say, why
not and sip
a spoon of clam
chowder into your
mouth.
I wrote this song,
she says, as
if introducing
herself at the
birchmere, when i
was a young girl
back in Chantilly
virginia, but it's
just you and
her in a restaurant.
it's called,
sugar sugar.
oh, I know that song,
you tell her,
the archie's sang
it, 1968.
no, she says, it's
not that song.
this one is different.
but can you sing
that song too, I
mean when you're
finished with this
sugar sugar?
maybe she says,
throwing her hair
back and tuning
the strings.
you call the waitress
over for more
crackers for your soup.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

sugarplum fairy

the wreathe
on the door makes
you think
of her in
a softer light.
the fire
in the fireplace,
the cookies
in the oven.
you forget
how cold she was
when leaving
and slamming
the door.
how she threw
your clothes
into the yard
and let your dog
run free, how
she took a steak
knife and cut
your charger
cord,
but it's the holidays
and for some
reason, you
miss her. you miss
your little
sugarplum fairy.

she's right, finally

your shoe
breaks down on
you,
the sole
separating from
the man made
leather portion
that rises
above it in a
stylish fashion.
it flops
as you walk along
with your date,
who is laughing.
but you have glue,
or more exactly,
rubber cement
in a brown bottle
with a small brush
for easy application.
your mother
always told you
to be prepared,
and glue
was just one of
many things she
suggested you carry
with you when
leaving the house,
not just clean
underwear. now
finally. after all
these years,
she is right
about something.

hour into hour

not every one
is your cup
of tea.
or you theirs.
it's known
right away
as you lift
the cup
to your lips.
too bitter, too
sweet,
too tepid,
or sour, no
matter the reason,
neither
of you will
drink
the drink,
but be civil and
let the time
pass on,
hour into hour.

the mystery

you can't connect
all the dots
as hard as you try.
not everything
makes sense.
the broken hearts,
the broken
locks, the lost key,
the spilled
milk, or dents
in the car.
no one seems to
owe you
an answer why.
no rhyme, no reason.
no clarity
from above,
it's a mystery they
like to tell you,
you'll never
understand
until later,
but what good will
that do you now,
as you stand
outside the door,
locked out, wondering
what exactly
is later.

under the tree

you make a list.
a Christmas list.
a wish list.
it's gotten shorter
over the years.
with death and distance
becoming a purchasing
factor.
especially this year.
which is a big
relief in some ways.
you are bad with
gifts and cards.
trying so hard
as you stare numbly
walking
through the mall,
clicking through
web sites for
jewels and lingerie,
things that you
hope she'll want, but
never will,
always getting the size
wrong. you
dig through
last year's envelopes
to find the addresses
of those you owe
a note this year.
did I send the red
card with the tree
last time,
or the blue one
with snow and stars.
so hard to remember.

boo boo

she used to lather
your ego
with little phrases,
terms
of sweet endearment
like
buttercup,
or sweetie pie,
mr. wonderful,
and boo boo.
but now she says
hey, hey, what are you
deaf,
put the seat down.
how many times do
I have to tell you that,
and don't leave
your socks and underwear
on the stairs,
what are you twelve?
it always
begins by using your full
first name.

the rusty chain

it's like riding a bike
you tell her,
dating again
after such a long
dry spell,
that self imposed
sabbatical.
but not exactly.
there are those pot
holes in the road,
to be wary of,
the weather,
wind and rain,
the curves and detours
along the way,
not to mention
those barking dogs
giving chase,
and please
let's not forget
that rusty chain.

Friday, November 21, 2014

these woods are deep

Thomas hardy
bores you to tears.
he's near
the top of the list
of sleeping
pill books.
tess of the d'aubervilles
brings you
to your knees
like mustard
gas during world
war one.
but you've promised
that you'll
read it.
so you plow through.
each page
a lead weight
taking all your strength
turn it.
for years you've
held this book in
your hands,
starting over and over
again.
but these woods are
deep. and there are
miles and miles
to go before you sleep.

lost

you've lost your
way.
you tack posters
of your face
along the boulevard,
on trees
and poles,
store windows.
you ask if anyone
has seen you.
you leave a number
and a card,
you offer a reward
if found,
but you are
lost. you are no longer
the person
you thought you
were. you've
changed. you've
lost your way.
no one seems to know
you, not even
your friends
or family
has seen anyone
the likes of
you around.

how the pears do glow

early
in the morning she
stands
in her apron,
tied neatly in
a bow
around her waist,
polishing
apples.
then moving on
to a pyramid
of green pears,
to the grapes
next.
the bags all
in rows.
soon, the sun
comes through
the window
and her work
is done. if
she thinks about
love, it doesn't
show.
but oh how
the apples shine.
how the pears
do glow.

left behind

your footsteps
leave
you, they
stay behind.
the words you
spoke
hang in the air
before falling
quietly
to the ground.
the cloud
of you,
the breath
you exhale,
that too can't
come with you
everything is left,
even you,
yes even you
must be left
behind.

his life

it's your
father's problem.
this past
he's created over
the life
he's lived.
it's not yours
to own,
not your potion
to swallow
or rub, like
oil
into your bones.
it's his to deal
with.
his life,
you just happen
to be along
for part of the
ride. but
when that
ride's about
to end you'll
be there to set
down his reins.

all about me

you tell her
that you'll call
at five,
but it's more
like five thirty before
you are in your
car and able
to dial her number.
you let the minutes
turn into hours,
slowing down the world
to a pleasant crawl.
you refuse to be
rushed, to be in a
line, to be anywhere
you don't want to be.
you haven't gone
cranky or crazy in
your fading youth,
but have settled nicely
into a place where's
it pretty much
all about me.

pay for parking

as you stand
at the machine
placing your ticket
in to cover
parking for
two hours,
then your money,
you wait.
hands in your
pockets
in the darkness
of night.
a wind
creeping up
your sleeves.
in front of
you is the river.
behind you the glitter
of buildings
gone dim.
you are the last
car out
after being
the first car
in. the ticket
frees you once
again. the bridge
is without traffic.

the shore of you

her feet
have left deep
imprints
in the sand
of you.
your shore
is littered
with her love.
the sunrise
of her smile.
the shells that
hold her whispers,
the perfume of
her sea.
you can hardly
wake up
at times
without
feeling the pull
of her
warm body,
the tide having
gone out
forever.

squirrels on crack

there are days
when
the traffic is full
of squirrels
on crack.
no one knows what
lane they want
to be in,
running red lights,
tail gating,
swearing
as they swerve
with phone and coffee
in hand.
they need to get
ahead of the next
car, they
need to make that
light before
it turns red,
they need to get
across the tracks
before the cross bars
go down.
it's a chariot
race,
a rat race,
they can smell
the cheese, but they
don't know exactly
where it is.

one more for the road

one for my baby,
one more for the road
Sinatra
sings
on the old vinyl,
in your big
speaker
pioneer stereo.
it crackles
along the grooves,
almost sticking
on a word or
two.
but around it goes
at 33 rpm,
reminding you
of things in the past,
the near
and far past.
each love different,
each loss new.
so you play it
again, lifting
the needle to where
it begins, letting
Sinatra croon it,
one for my baby,
and one more for
the road.

half in

there is a spring
in her step, but
in only one foot.
the other can't rise
to the occasion,
so it looks like
she's limping, but
she's not.
she's only in it
halfway. half love,
a half cup
of maybe, maybe
not. she sips
and sips waiting
for it to get better,
warmer, spicier,
something
that it's not.
so the spring remains
only in one shoe.
at least for now
that's all she's got.

a patch of ice

you're slipping.
there's ice
on the curb
on the corner,
the puddles
are frozen solid
into slick
traps awaiting
your quick
shoes and
careless walking
about.
the world is like
that
if you don't
pay attention.
you are always
one patch
of ice from
falling on your
face, humbling
you, daring you
to get back
up and go on.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

don't worry

if I leave before
you waken
don't worry.
if I leave without
a note
slipping on my shoes
so as not
to disturb you,
don't worry, don't
think twice
about us.
it's too early
in the morning,
too early for us
to be thinking like
that.
if I leave without
a sound
without kissing you
goodbye
it means nothing.
I just want you to sleep.
i'll be back.
I promise you,
i'll be back.

embellish

you embellish
the world with
hyperbole
and exaggeration.
the world
needs a new coat
of paint, a dusting.
there are cobwebs
in every corner.
it's more fun to
blow it up into what
it isn't.
splash some color
onto this dull grey
wintered world.
have some fun,
for god's sake.
Oscar wilde might
be proud.

the train whistle

when you hear
the train crossing
the trestle,
blowing it's
whistle three times
through
the deep woods
you think
about the passengers
asleep
at the windows,
warm as they world
rolls by
under the closing
skies. who's waiting
for them at the station,
who have they left
behind.
the lives they lead
so unlike yours,
sitting here,
at your own window,
thinking about who
has departed and
who might arrive.

starts wtth an itch

it starts
with an itch.
you take a stick
and ease
it down your shirt
along your back,
you scratch
and scratch
but you just
can't get to it.
you can't
find the sweet
spot of
the itch. just
missing again
and again with
this tree branch
stick.
so you ask a stranger
on the street
if they could
help you.
a woman with an
umbrella. sure
she says, lift
up your shirt.
around and around
she goes
with the point
of the umbrella
and then finally
with her long
nails she finds it,
making you sigh
with satisfaction.
in time you get
married,
you raise a family.
you have a dog,
a nice house
outside of town.
you grow tomatoes
and set them on the sill
to ripen.
you grow old together.
in love
until the end.
this is how it starts,
with an itch.

the hug

she says
that she gives you a
B maybe a B minus
in hugging.
you need to work
on that.
perhaps start
with a pillow,
put your arms
around it, squeeze,
but not too tightly,
imagine it's
me, full of feathers
soft and sexy.
the hug is important
to me.
but what about
all the other
stuff, you ask her.
oh, that's fine,
she says, in fact
maybe you should
stay after
school today so that I
can give you an
extra credit
assignment, see
if we can raise
your average, but
meanwhile work
on the hugging.
it shows you
might care.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

duck sauce


while waiting
for your kung pao
chicken to arrive
it occurs to you
that you have no
Chinese friends
except for the waitress
at the hunan
west and the bus
boy who smiles
and shakes your hand
like you are a long lost
uncle bringing
him a gift.
the waitress, who
was skinny once,
has been eating well
since the last
time you saw her.
the beef proper
has filled her ribs,
widened her hips. she
smiles as she
pours your tea
and brings you a bowl
of white rice.
you wonder what you
would say to them
if you met them out
on the street.
you have the feeling
it might be
awkward, but maybe
not. you finish
your meal and read
your fortune
while using the steamy
hot towel
to get duck sauce
off your face.
love will come soon,
it says.
be patient.

a bowl of soup

the soup
is too hot.
so you blow on
it,
dip your cold
spoon
into the mix
and stir
a little.
you put your
lips
to the edge
of the white
bowl
and try
again. still
too hot.
you sit back
and eat a cracker
and wait.
sometimes it's
all you can
do in life,
is wait.

i need a husband

I need a husband,
she says to you,
making you squirm in
your chair and look
towards the door.
for what, you ask
her. why do you need
a husband?
I'm just tired, she
says, of doing
everything alone.
the throws her
head back and closes
her eyes as if
she's having stomach
cramps. I want a man
in my life to help
me with things.
money? you say.
no, no, I've got
a job and money.
I just need a man
around the house, you
know what I mean.
nope, cant say that
I do, you tell her
scratching a dry
spot on your shaved
head.
my life would feel
more complete with
a husband. a partner
to share life with
is all I want.
what about the other
husbands you had,
aren't you afraid of
that happening again.
no, she says. not
at all. life without
risks is a life
without...without..
without pain? you
say filling in the blank
of her unfinished
sentence. no, no.
joy, life without
joy. oh, right.
that's what I almost
said. well, go get one
then. I will she says.
I will. after the first
of the year and I lose
ten pounds, plus
I need to get my
hair done and my
daughter's wedding
is coming up, but
after that, I will.

ho ho and ho

you have an extra five
minutes on your
hands so you decorate
your house for Christmas
before betty comes over.
this involves reaching
into the drawer and
pulling out a string
of lights which have
been there since last
year. you delicately
lay them across the buffet
and plug them in. then you
go into the basement
and carry up your already
lighted and tinseled
white tree made out
of Chinese plastic.
there are several silver
balls still hanging
onto the flimsy limbs.
it stands about two feet
tall, so it's easy
to carry.
you plug this in too
once setting it on a side
table. you have a red
candle that smells
strongly of cinnamon,
making you sneeze,
but you like it, so
that goes on the table too,
next to a bowl of mixed nuts.
you take the wreathe of fake
cranberries that has been
hanging on a nail
in the laundry room
and you hang
that on the front door.
finally you tack in
lots of mistletoe
over each doorway
entrance. you can never
have enough of that.
then you pop in some andy
Williams music,
followed by dean
and frank, mix up
some egg nog, heavy
on the rum, then
sit down in the big
easy chair. you are
ready for Christmas.
you wait for betty
to arrive who loves
Christmas almost as much
as you do.

annie got her gun

your friend
annie
buys a gun, but
for personal
use only.
she takes the test
down at the gun
emporium, then
goes to the shooting
range and
blasts away
at the paper
cut outs of
bad men
with circular
targets on their
sketched out
bodies.
she's happy about
her gun.
the bullets,
the grip, the way
it sounds
when it goes boom
boom boom.
you didn't see
this coming, her
being so prissy
and gentle.
you never know
these days,
the book
by its cover.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

the romance novel

you think about writing
a romance novel.
on the glossy cover will
be a wind swept
panting couple
wearing what looks like
pirate costumes,
although the story
has nothing to do with pirates.
biff, or maybe brad
and jennifer fall in love
on a cruise ship,
on a trip to help
them forget their
former spouses who
both died mysteriously
in a train wreck,
maybe they were on
the same train, as
it crossed Siberia,
or Montana. the details
need to be ironed
out. maybe they aren't
really dead, and just
pretending to be dead
so that they can
get married under new
names, living
a new life in Moscow
as goat herders making
goat cheese,
or in Denver as ski
instructors, someplace
cold though so that
you can write lines
like her breath was
a fresh bloom of hope
as they kissed
under the winter moon or
his manhood was aroused
like an icicle
as she wilted like
a flower in his arms
waiting to be watered.
it will be the first
of a trilogy of books,
that will get steamier
with each new volume
so that readership
doesn't diminish on
account of the lame
plot and writing,
but the third volume
will have maps
and a geneaology
so that you can keep
track of who's who.
following the books will
come the movie,
and a whole line of
pirate costumes,
although the story has
nothing to do with pirates.


my date with a vampire

you meet a girl
who nearly sucks a
hole into your neck.
she's had three too
many drinks
and thinks she's in
love after a cold
plate of calamari
and pretzel sticks.
when you get home
you pull your shirt
off and stare at
the purple bruise
on your neck.
it throbs with pain.
what's wrong people.
sucking on your
neck like that on
a first date?
you can't help
but wonder what
kind of upbringing
she had, how absent
her parents must
of been. the lack
of discipline.
it makes you have
second thoughts about
ever seeing that
vampire again.

just a dollar

you give a dollar
to the bum
on the street.
he shrugs as if to
say, that's it.
that's all you got
for me.
I can't buy
a pint rum with
a dollar.
you understand,
but you just
worked fifty hours
on the night shift.
grinding pieces
of metal into
smaller pieces of
metal.
all you can think
about is going
home, eating
then falling asleep
before that next
day starts.
so the bum gets just
a dollar. you'd
give him more,
but he'd never leave,
would he?
he'd never take
the life that you
have. he's too
smart for that.

a red hot gun

close
the door.
close your eyes.
open
your mind
let me step
inside.
open
your heart,
open
your arms,
let me
discover
all of your
earthly
charms.
it doesn't
have to be
this way.
to end
what has just
begun,
it doesn't
have to go
away, this love
that started
like a bullet
leaving
the barrel
of a red
hot gun.

while you slept

some trees fell
during the night.
the wind
being fierce
unrelenting.
you see them out
the window.
the thick trunks
round as barrels,
grey as the sky
leaning into
one another,
some have rolled
down to the creek
now pushed
by the cold
current.
so much happens
when you fall
asleep, but even with
these trees down.
things don't seem
quite as bad
in the morning.

going for a run

you liken running
to writing.
how the first few
laps, or mile
warms you up,
gets the coughs
out of your system,
then you begin to
fly. the legs and
arms churning easily
as you find your
stride. you put
the awkward
self conscious
lines behind you.
the metaphors
that don't work.
the energy is heightened
as you speed along
without a thought
letting your
fingers move
briskly across
the keyboard. you
could run or
write this way
for hours.
there is no finish
line, no crowd
cheering you on.
it's just you on
a cold November morning
running through
the park.

birth control

you have a dream
that your daughter
comes home
late one night
with her new boyfriend
zeke. her face
looks like it fell
into a tackle box
with hooks and
weights dangling
from her lips
and eyebrows. the whites
of her eyes are red.
what happened to
the pretty little girl
who left the house
three hours ago? you
ask yourself.
there is a tattoo
of a snake running
up her leg. it's
a cobra which is
also zeke's nickname.
we're having
a baby she giggles,
not unlike how
she used to giggle
when you read cat
and the hat to her
just yesterday.
she pats and rubs
her exposed belly,
also with a ring
swinging from her
belly button.
in the dream you
run to your gun
locker to find
the shotgun and a
samurai sword, but
you can't open
the case. frantically
you jiggle the key in
the lock, but it won't
turn. it won't turn.
you've never owned a gun
in your life, or
a sword, but
it's a just a dream
you keep telling
yourself, just
a dream. suddenly
your wife shakes you
awake and says, honey
are you okay. you were
screaming in your sleep,
you're sweaty,
what's wrong.
we can't have any
children, you tell her
breathlessly,
grabbing her shoulders.
you have to promise me
that tomorrow we
go down to the clinic
and get ourselves fixed.
okay? promise me.
promise.

Monday, November 17, 2014

she says

you can't get
younger, so stop
whining
about it
and do some sit
ups.
quit drinking
so much
and eating
donuts for dinner.
lathering your
face in
creams won't help.
you just look greasy.
take that
spandex off
and put that
cigarette out.
buy some man
clothes, for
god's sake.
you can't walk
around in khaki
shorts
and sweat shirts
all winter,
can you?
flip flops?
it's 37 degrees.
no wonder the world
is going to hell
in a hand basket,
whatever that means,
are there any
real men out there?


leopard spots

they try to change
you,
but your leopard
spots
stay in tact.
you can't go left
when your
hand says right.
this is how you
eat, you
sleep, you speak,
how you bleed
and write.
it's who you are.
the dye is cast.
the mold
set and thrown
away. every cliché
so worn and tired,
is true.
take it or leave,
but don't try
and change me
and i'll try,
but no promises,
to do the same for you.

a modeling career

the rumor
was, that the man
in
the bowling alley,
middle aged
and squinty
in his red vest
and bow tie
would give
you five dollars
if you let
him see you in
your underwear
in the men's room.
ernie who was
thirteen at the time
told you this.
he pulled out a
wad of fives,
and said,
see, I'm not lying.
he wants me
to model
for him downtown
in his studio.
of course
you told your
mother this as soon
as you ran
home, who told
Ernie's mother
which ended his modeling
career.
he never forgave
you although
sometimes when you
open up a sears
catalogue and see
men's clothing,
specifically underwear,
you wonder if it's
him.

escape

even the dog
wants out.
he scratches at
the door
and howls,
waiting for
his chance
to escape.
the birds,
knowing what's
up, gather
together in bird
silence
and all at
once wing south,
you can hear
the inmates
gnawing
at the bars,
behind prison
walls,
digging tunnels
with spoons,
even us on
the outside,
never content
with where
we are, or what
we have,
stare longingly
at the far
away, full moon.

howdy, i'm from texas

she had texas
hair, a big
blonde cactus
sized doo,
and made
texas toast
with her oversized
texas breakfast
of five eggs and
a steak.
she was all about
texas
and sometimes
yelled out
things like yippie
kai ay or
yahoo, for no
reason other
than
something came
in the mail
like a coupon
for new cowboy
boots.
she had a state
of texas
tattoo
at the edge of
her red
bikini.
I'm from the lone
star
state she
told anyone within
earshot, howdy,
and would show them
the state
inked in her
pale white belly.
she was from texas,
did I mention that?

these morning people

these morning people,
these happy
and perky,
these smiling
and chatty morning
people need
to quarantined.
they need to be
kept away from
the rest of us.
out of sight,
until we awaken.
until the first
or second cup
of coffee has
gone down.
these people need
to be quiet with
their cheerful
busy minds. they
need to go
to another part
of the room.
to another part
of the street until
we too are ready
to participate
in the world. please.

too dark

it's too dark
for me,
this room you've
painted
with bitter
words. the
slights
and bruises
of past
love bumps
and detours
that you've taken.
I need you to
turn the light
on for me.
I need a fresh
coat of white
paint.
I need new
furniture,
pictures on
the walls of
sunrises and beaches.
I need a plant
in the corner,
green with hope.
I need you to
leave the room
until you're
better, until
the sickens of
lost love is out
of your system.
until then, your
room is too dark
for me, but maybe
i'll spend
the night, just
one.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

survive

the hawk
circling, a dark
stripe
broken
in two by
wings,
a coiled beak,
descending
slowly with
a pin
pointed view
of what's
about to die.
it's obvious
that the world,
much to your
dismay,
needs to kill
to survive.

flesh wound

just a flesh
wound
you whisper
to no one
as you lift
your heart
from
the floor
and stuff it
back into
the cave
of your chest.
I'm fine
you say
bending in
the wind
of the open
door, the wind
of tomorrow
and the next day.
just a flesh
wound,
don't get up,
I'm only
passing
through, I
never meant
to stay.

the north shore

you prefer the north
shore
where the jagged
rocks
cut through the earth
like ancient
teeth.
where the blue
shale
water, bites
the coast
with cold armed
waves,
punching without
mercy.
you prefer this coast,
this bitter
landscape
of iced hills,
green skies
and grey suns,
you prefer this when
you need to go
under, when you
need solace,
when you need
to brood.

big fat turkey

you ponder the fat
turkey.
ignored for the entire
year. despite ben
franklin wanting it
to be the national
bird, it is
a meaningless and
inconsequential bird
that no one
seems to want
until thanksgiving.
how would it make
you feel
to be that way.
waiting, always waiting,
frozen solid.
and when it is time
it's not good enough
to just be cooked
and eaten, no. it has
to be stuffed and basted,
surrounded by a dozen
other colorful dishes.
still the center
of attention, but
not really.
it's a sad life,
this turkey life.
I don't want to be
a turkey, please don't
call me that.

comfort clothes

your sense of fashion
has changed.
there was a time
when you dressed sharply.
pants neatly pressed,
a dress shirt,
polished shoes,
everything crisp and clean,
new, or almost new,
even in jeans and a sweater,
there was a sense
of style and class,
but things have
changed, you went from
brooks brothers,
to early morning shabby,
that grey homeless
look with a baggy
well worn feel. a hole
in the sleeve, who cares.
you've entered
a comfort phase
of fashion in your life,
shuffling about with
a mug of coffee,
minus the tin cup
with which to beg
for spare change.

the cold light of day

she doesn't
communicate well.
sometimes when you
ask her
a question, she'll
ignore it
and turn her head
to look out
the window,
or go back to reading
a book.
an hour later, she
might say yes,
or no, or shrug.
it's hard to be in
love with a flower
that is silent,
and sad,
wilting in the sun
of her fading
youth. the shadows
are long
and icy when near
her. how can you
love someone so
distant and absent
of empathy or
humor. sexless. how?
you aren't sure,
but it happened.
which says as much
about you as it
does about her.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

morning kiss

just her leg,
a glimpse
of skin
appearing from
the sheets
bound
and piled
liked snow
was enough to
send you
back
to bed.
her lazy
arms
together
as her green
eyes opened
to first
sunlight, made
you find her
lips,
to quiet them
with yours,
as you both
found warmth
and pleasure
as one.

the fire barrel

a fire
barrel, raging
with
flames,
its hot
throat
carving leaves
into ashes
that rise
and float
across a harsh
blue
sky stirs
memories of a
younger day
when this was
permissible,
and there
were no
sirens coming,
circling
in echo,
speeding your
way.

for now

the man
with a chamois
rag in his
hand, leans
against
his new
car, angled
at the curb,
red as a cherry.
the small cloth
rubs a spot
in a circular
motion. he is
content
with the metal
and rubber
that he has
purchased.
its value
slipping even as
the sun
rises
in the sky.
but for now
that worry,
after all the struggle
before
this, seems
small
in comparison to
what he now
possesses and shines
with pride,
waiting to
be noticed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

mercy

religiously
you pray,
your moral compass
though bent at
times,
is still at work.
your catholic
knees
still feel
the wood where
you bowed
your head,
kneeling,
burdened with sin,
and asked for mercy
on your
ten year old
soul.

the quiet heart

there is an
emptying
that we all reach.
the sky too.
spent
of rain, or
snow.
it's evil
twin
sleet.
how nice it
is
though to
surrender under
the non
negotiable terms
of exhaustion.
to lie
prone, legs
splayed,
arms
behind your
head, the lungs
of you
resting, your
heart quiet,
empty,
at least for now.
love ending
can do this to
you.

thank you very much

you liked elvis.
not the old
fat drug addicted elvis,
even though he
never made
it to 50,
but the young
elvis.
the slender
in shape carefree elvis.
the slick black
hair,
the blue eyes.
the deep
sexy voice.
you liked him.
not in a sexual way,
of course,
but in a man
crush kind of way.
you remember where
you were
when he died, when
he fell off a toilet
in his bathroom,
clutching his artery
clogged heart,
but that didn't
matter.
what mattered was
how he sang, how
much fun he was in those
dumbo movies,
how he loved cadillacs
and his momma.
his lack of musical
ability
also didn't matter.
you remember
when he died,
you were in the kitchen
making a sandwich,
not a banana
peanut butter sandwich
which he loved,
but a ham
sandwich with lettuce
and tomatoes,
onions. the radio
dedicated the whole day
of his music to him.
playing one song
after another,
and as you ate your
sandwich,
you gyrated in your
kitchen, wearing only
your socks
singing along,
knowing every word
to jail house rock,
then teddy bear,
then love me tender.

your checkout cart is full

you go a little
crazy on
amazon, buying things
you don't really
need. but it's fun
and easy to do.
they bring it all
to your door,
just like that.
it's Christmas everyday.
so maybe the plunger
dent remover didn't
work for your car, nor
those stick on
stair treads that
keep slipping all
over the place, not
to mention those
non prescription
pills to make you
more virile and turn
back the clock
to when you were
twenty.
but hey,
that lava lamp
you bought
sure is fun
in the bedroom.

staying in

you decide to stay
in on
a Friday night.
you are weary of prowling
the streets
like a stray
cat looking
for love
and attention.
this makes your wife
happy.
she suggests
a pizza and
a movie, to which
you reply,
sounds good to me,
pepperoni?
yes, she says,
but only if one
half is mushrooms
and extra cheese.

body language

most of time
you are trying to read
minds
to figure out
what someone is
really thinking,
really saying.
usually it's
not about the words
coming out of
their mouth.
that's mostly
white noise.
you have to listen
and stare
into their eyes,
look at the body
language, the tilt
of head or
shoulder. the folding
of arms.
the tapping of
a foot.
sometimes you just
need to look
down and see
the suitcase at
their feet,
the ticket in
their hand to understand
what's going on.

her big sweater

when she put
on her big sweater
she got
a lot of attention.
people
walked
into walls
and stumbled
into tables
and chairs
getting a glance
of her.
it was as if
everyone was
drinking, or that
we were suddenly
on a boat
swaying in
rough seas.
you can't wear
that sweater anymore
you told her
before you broke
up. but she
did of course,
and when you saw
her the other day
out on the street,
you walked straight
into a lamp post.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

i want my sherpa

halfway up
the mountain, you
turn to your Amazonian
friend
sally
and say why exactly
are we doing
this?
I'm cold, dizzy,
and I have a headache.
not mention
I can't breathe.
I'm afraid of heights,
did I tell you that?
oh, sally, can you
hear me? where are you?
you hear your voice
echoing down
the mountain side
as your teeth chatter.
I think I may have peed
my pants, sally.
I have an icicle
cutting into my leg.
if I take
another step
I might
throw up
those crackers
we ate for breakfast
at the camp commissary.
where the hell is
my Sherpa?
sally slams her ice
pic into the solid
wall of
the frozen cliff
and swings over
to you on a rope. here.
have a piece of gum.
it might settle
your stomach.
then she blows a
bubble popping it
while climbing to
the next jagged
rock with which to
sit on and take
another picture
for her facebook page.
you don't care.
you throw up.
much to the dismay
of the thirty seven
other climbers coming
up behind you.

knitting needles in eyeball

let's go do
karaoke tonight she
says to
you
while scanning
the paper
for places
to go.
I'd rather
stick knitting needles
into my
eyeballs
you tell her,
cringing at the idea
of singing
anywhere except
in the shower,
alone.
oh, you say that
about everything.
I'd rather stick needles
into my eyes.
no I don't. just
to things
that I really
don't want to do,
like going to your
mother's house,
or that indian
restaurant around
the corner,
and it's knitting
needles, not just
needles.
oh I see, she says.
I stand corrected
let me go
get my yarn
bag.

the back shelf

the back
shelf where
the brown sugar
is. hard
as a red brick.
the baking
powder,
the sea salt
and muffin
mixes.
you could be
alive
for another
fifty
years,
and they would
still be
there.
sprinkles for
cookies
that wont get
made,
soups in cans
that are waiting
to opened
and boiled
to finally have
their day.
please, don't
put me there,
put me anywhere,
but not on
the back shelf.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the attic

the cradle
in the attic,
the rocking horse,
the red
ball.
a small pair
of shoes.
a box of soldiers.
the stacks of
papers,
homework
and tests.
the books he
used.
the first word
written.
the finger
paintings in
blue,
the drawing
of the dog.
how quickly
this clock turns,
for the both
of you.

new set of knives

you buy
a set of knives
on tv.
it's three
a.m.
you have to
turn a light
on to read
the numbers
on your visa card,
then
the three
strangely
printed security
numbers on
the back.
you read
off the expiration
date.
4/17.
do you need new
knives, probably
not, but
they can cut
through
metal,
or a radial
tire, skin
a potato, or
slice a tomato
smoothly,
not once,
not twice
but every time
for the life
of you
or the knife.
whichever
ends first.
they promise to
arrive before
thanksgiving.
maybe you'll roast
a turkey this year
and use them.
that would be nice.

change


instead
of this,
do that,
do things
differently.
easy
to say,
so hard
to do.
especially
when it's
them that
sees
the need
for change,
not you.

the morning star

she is the land
of milk
and honey.
she's a palm tree
swaying over
white sand.
she's the sun
inking the sky pink
as it sinks
into the sea.
she's the morning star.
she's the cold
drink in
your hand.
she's just out
of reach,
the one you've
never had.

gin and tonic therapy

you see
your therapist
in a bar,
but she doesn't
see you.
she's been
drinking.
you can see her
talking to her
other therapist
friends.
they are laughing,
engaged in conversation,
so she doesn't see you
sidle up
and listen.
you dip your ear in
as you sip
your gin and tonic.
and then he says
something about
his mother,
she laughs.
his mother didn't
show him
any love or attention
when he was little.
can you believe it?
boohoo. poor baby.
hahaha.
they all start
laughing
and laughing.
some of them are
spitting out
their drink they are
laughing so hard.
his mother, can you
belive it
what a loser.
I can't help him,
he's lost, but
I can't tell him that,
I need the money,
I'm going
to alcapulco
this winter
with this other patient
I met. he's
got a yacht the size
of, well, it's big.
slowly you ease
away. you walk
outside and call
your mother,
you tell her
that you'll
see her on sunday
for dinner. meatballs,
right mom? should
I bring anything?
you forgive her,
finally.

the land line

I can't let go
of my land line, which
makes people laugh
and throw
their heads back.
but you don't understand
you tell them.
my life has
revolved around
the land line.
the kitchen phone
growing up.
with the long
black cord that
reached the basement
steps.
I've always had a
land line. I like
the clear connection,
the sound
of it ringing
even if it is only
a telemarketer.
if I got rid of it
what next?
online banking?
internet dating?


my sister

she catches
you in a lie
as she shows up
at your house
unexpectedly
and someone is
leaving.
who's that she
says.
my sister?
you say.
your sister
kisses you
on the lips
and leaves your
house with
her dress on
backwards.
okay, you say.
it wasn't my
sister.
it was someone
else's sister
who needed a place
to stay.
at this point
she swings her
enormous purse
at you, but
it's so large
and slow in it's
swing
that you have
time to duck and
stay down, until
it passes back
over your head.
how many sisters
do you have,
she says angrily.
to which you reply.
I don't know.
it's a large
family.

civility

you bore
easily at long
winded
stories
whether written
or told
to you in person.
you are the
master of the sigh.
your eyes
roll
with the best
of them.
but you sit and listen
or turn the page
to see what happens.
you are painfully
polite despite
wanting to leave
or throw the book
across the room.
you've been
trained well
by someone, who
you aren't
quite sure of.

the earring on the floor

I can't get
away from you.
you're the gum
on my shoe.
the spinach
in my teeth.
you're the burrs
on my socks.
the bird
that won't talk.
you're
the song spinning
in my head.
the shoelace
with a knot.
you're the lid
that won't
close,
the cold in
my nose. you're
the one that
got away.
the one that
won't stay.
you're
the key stuck
on the keyboard,
you're someone
knocking
at the door.
you're
the earring
on the floor.
I can't get away
from you.













Tuesday, November 11, 2014

the color green

color me happy
she says
cheerfully over
the instant
messaging system
of cyber
space that connects
you with
complete strangers
from all over
the world,
most that you
will never meet
or hear their
voice, or know
what their lips
feel like
when a kiss appears,
color me happy
she says.
and you reply with,
what crayon in
the Crayola box
would you be using
for this happiness.
the color green
she types firmly
in bold letters.
just green.
would that be the green
of a cat's eye,
you reply
or bottle green,
or perhaps the green
of the open
sky when a hurricane
arrives ready
to blow everything
away.
or maybe green
like jealousy,
full or anger and
envy. is it that sort
of green, you mean,
or perhaps
like grass, like all
the grass that lies
between us, cool
to the point of being
blue, almost blue,
like me, sitting here
typing to a complete
stranger who lives
a thousand miles away,
who is you.

mac and cheese

she wasn't
a great cook, okay.
not even
a good cook.
you knew when dinner
was ready
when the smoke
alarm went
off.
sometimes there
was too much salt
and pepper, sometimes
not enough.
but it was
the thought
that counted,
the time and love
it took
to make that
macaroni and cheese.

runners

runners,
of which you were one
when the joints
and bones
were younger,
like to tell you
how far
they've gone.
the distance,
and the time it
took.
they'll even put
a sticker
on their car
to let you know
how far
they've jogged,
there is always
a 5 K, a half
marathon, a
century run
across the state
to train for.
they keep time,
they write it down
and measure how far
they've
gone, how far
they've yet to go,
even in the rain,
even in the heat,
even in the ice,
even in the snow.

unhinged

unhinged
the door creaks
and won't
close.
the screws
are loose, one
has fallen
into a crack
on the floor.
you'll get to it,
eventually,
but for now,
it tells you more
about where
you are.
it's nice to have
a concrete
metaphor like
a half opened,
half closed,
broken door.

it never ends that way

the play
is fine. the dialogue
crisp
and relevant,
hardly had a lag
in the script
or plot.
it keeps moving,
there are snickers
and laughs
throughout
the crowd.
some old, some
young some stuck
in the middle,
like you.
there is talk
of sex
and love,
loveless sex,
and sexless love.
you've known both.
neither
lasting very long.
but the play
moves on,
you go with it.
you want the right
thing
to happen, for
the ending to be a bow
tied neatly
when the final
scene is played.
but nothing, as you
well know,
ever ends
that way.

Monday, November 10, 2014

the ace of hearts

she shows you
one card,
the ace of hearts.
these other
cards
are not for
you. you're not
even in the game,
not at the table.
but she shows you
this one card.
the tease
card, she waves it
around so that
you will see
just a part of
what her hand
could be.
the other four
cards
stay down.
those are the ones
that never
get turned over,
at least not
for you.


we have oranges

a postcard
from florida says
come soon.
a pair of lips
have kissed
a spot
below the words,
love,
june.
we have oranges,
it reads,
we have
sun.
we have beaches.
take
off your boots
get out
of the snow,
pack lightly,
we'll make room.

the skipping stone

you showed her
once
how to skim a stone
across
the pond.
how to hold the slender
rock in her
hand, how
to lean back
and toss it sideways
above
the grass, the sand
across the water.
how pleased
she was to see it
skip skip skip
before it sank into
the shallow
blue depths
holding an april
sky.
you showed her
once how to do that.
you wonder if she
remembers too.

the chipped cup

the chipped
glass, or cup
around the rim,
or handle,
that you welcomed
to your lips
with warm
or cold memories,
more often than
not
goes back
into cupboard,
perhaps not
used again.
but still, how
unkind
we would be
to discard
such a friend.

the lullaby

there is no
love
like a mother's
love for a child,
whether
young or old,
or about to be
born,
the lullaby
she sings
into the crib,
will never end.
the worry
and care will
never diminish.
it will never leave,
and yet deep
inside
each one of them,
are the unspoken
words,
what about me.

this feeling

you go to her number,
scrolling down,
your finger
stops
before it presses
against her
name.
what possibly
would there be
to say.
nothing that would
change a thing,
so you close the phone,
you set it
down.
staring at its
amber blink,
and wait for
this feeling to pass
away.

cut flowers

the cut flowers
though
fresh and fragrant,
full
of color.
beautiful
in the vase
that rests
on the table,
there is price
to pay
in time.
beauty lasting
just a day,
as anyone
of age
well knows.

the brick wall

the graffiti
is a wild spray
of black
paint against
the brick wall.
it might be a name
or someone's
initials,
or a sign
of some kind
indicating what,
who knows.
but the small
woman with her
wire brush
on a step stool
works at removing
it each day
only to have
it return
that night.
she wonders who
will get too old
first,
to stop this.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

the delivery

the men, laughing
over something,
come to your door. it's
been a long
day. their shirts are
out.
five o'clock shadows
on both of them.
they may have
been drinking. it's
seven o'clock
at night.
one has food
on the front of his
overalls.
their hands are greasy.
one has a screw
driver in his paw
while the other
holds your 50 inch smart
tv on his shoulder.
it wobbles like a
sack of grain
he's carried from
the field.
we have your tv
mister, the one with
the screw driver
says. but it's broken.
they show
you the opened box,
both
pulling back scotch tape,
see, see. it's broken,
they say together,
pointing at
the cracked screen.
there is a hole gouged
out in the frame.
you can see inside
the tv. the wires,
the works.
you still want it
mister? we can plug it
in to see if it lights
up and makes sound.
you tell them no
thanks. which makes them
happy. their day is
over. okay. no problem
they say, waving as
they back the truck up
and drive off.
laughing again at
something.

someone like you

someone like
you
was on the street
the other day.
I almost
tapped her on
the shoulder
to say hello.
but it wasn't
you.
I was disappointed,
which told
me something
about us.

wrong number

your phone blows
up
with 28 text messages
from
an inebriated
woman in
Philadelphia,
who adds
in a few photos
of her cleavage
in her pink
terry cloth bathrobe.
there is a cat
in the picture
sitting on
the toilet
behind her.
lovely.
you don't know her.
and she has
mistaken
you for someone
that she knows,
an ex boyfriend
perhaps, a lover,
or a pending
date. she has
misdialed in
her wine
sloshed world
by one number
yours.
you write back
before you delete the
string of babble,
take three
aspirins, a glass
of water, and
go back to bed.
you've dialed
the wrong number.

your life

there is no
soundtrack to your
life.
it would be
nice if there was.
lights,
and cameras,
a make up
artist on the side
to keep
you young and
pretty.
there is no
pre written script,
or book
from which
the movie
is culled from.
no, it doesn't work
that way.
no second takes,
no cues, or
shots at flubbed
lines.
you just get out
there
and go, letting
your own
tale of life,
both woe and joy,
unwind.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

every one good gets in

let's find a new
religion your girlfriend
candy
tells you, as she
polishes her
toe nails black.
we need a new fun
religion with a happy
go lucky God.
I'm so tired of
fire and brimstone.
guilt. aren't
you tired of guilt?
you look up from
the newspaper and nod.
yup.
I am.
so, she says, maybe
we should invent
a religion of our own.
sure, you tell her
as you scan the box scores
from last night's game.
I'm right there with you
honey.
no more guilt. anything
goes. have fun, be
happy. that's our
motto. she says, everyone gets
into heaven, except hitler
and Obama, people like
that. you look at her
over the tilt
of the paper. you mean
Osama, not Obama.
whatever she says.
bad people don't get
in. instead of wine
and wafers, we can
have mixed drinks
and little crackers
with shrimp on them.
maybe watercress nuts
wrapped in bacon.
no more kneeling either.
it's going to be a
dancing church. but
no snakes or crazy talk.
sounds good you tell
her, rolling your eyes
behind the paper.
amen sister.
I think you're on to
something. amen.

the dogs are barking

the dogs are
barking.
someone's in the yard.
prowling around.
the hair is up
on their backs
as they run
from window
to window,
snarling
in the darkness.
you think about
getting up,
getting out of
bed,
grabbing the al
kaline baseball
bat out
of the closet,
but you're so
warm and cozy
lying here.
you've already said
your prayers.
you're tired. plus
the floor is cold.
you have nothing
really good
to steal,
no safe in the wall.
no art
hanging on a hook
by Renoir
or van gogh. but
if they get in,
they might steal
the pot roast you
were going
to cook in the morning.
so you slide
your feet to the side
and get up
to see what
the commotion is
all about.
if it's those Mormons
again handing
out their leaflets,
you aren't going
to be very happy.
you slap the fat part
of the bat in
the palm of your hand.

marriage counseling

the room is
full elephants, you
can hardly
sit down.
she squeezes
in beside you,
smiling
nervously.
I hate talks
like this she
says.
I wish we could
just ignore
our problems,
not speak
of them
and live
miserably together
until
the end of time.
so do I you say,
standing up.
let's go
and be unhappy
forever,
pretend we're
both okay.

a glass of wine

she loves
wine.
red or white.
doesn't matter.
warm
or on ice.
who cares about
the label or
where it's from.
the sound of a
bottle pouring
sets her
lips apart,
she can taste it
before it splashes
on her tongue.
she sinks
into the comfort
of it's soft
wash.
warming her
lungs, giving hope
to her
addled mind,
finally still,
almost content,
almost happy
in a blue sort
of way. she
exhales her tired
world
with her first glass
of wine.


the bouncing ball

it's a busy
season.
a busy
world.
it's a hive
shaken
and struck
with a stick.
the air
is a buzz.
there is no
time.
there is no
second
not filled
with rush
and hurry.
it's a race
without
a finish line,
a marathon
of sprints,
it's a blur
of circles,
a ball of stretched
and knotted
twine
bouncing down
the stairs.

public affection

when you see
two people kissing
passionately
in the park
you stare
for a moment, so
rare
a thing to
see, but then you
turn your head,
somehow jealous
and wanting what
they have.
lips against
lips with the promise
of more.
you imagine
their lives
together, that this
is the beginning
of a life
long love affair.
that they will
be forever joined
by this kiss
and passion
that they so openly
share.
your imagination
runs wild
sometimes.

when i was young

they know
things that you don't
know.
not yet.
these old people
with their
wisdom,
their walking
sticks
and shaking of
heads.
grey pigeons
in the park,
content to sit
and tell you
stories that wander
all over
the map of their
lives,
sometimes, finally,
getting
to the point,
or close.


what's left behind

in the rear
view
mirror
everything looks
different,
slanted
with the distance
it acquires.
wobbles in
the puddled shadows
of dark
and light.
the road
bends forward
with
your foot on
the pedal
leaving behind
what
you thought was
love,
but didn't find.

Friday, November 7, 2014

everyone is home, almost

sometimes
in the shadows
of your mind
you see your mother
on her knees
in the kitchen.
there is a metal
bucket beside
her, a rag,
a brush she pulls
across the bright
yellow linoleum
floor.
her black hair
is tied
back.
she has the radio
on.
it's the platters
singing
her favorite
song. she sings
along, heavenly shades
of night are falling...
she is at peace,
the children
in bed.
the world is quiet
and still.
everyone is home,
almost.

when to duck

anger
is always a
defensive
response.
you know that.
so you say nothing
but let
the words
and temper
rise
in heat
and fervor
out of his mouth.
you become
gandhi
standing there
in silence,
nodding
as you listen
with neither
approval
or disapproval.
at some point
though, you need
to remember
when to duck.

the fast ride

time
is slipping
not out
of your hand
but off and
around you
like a swift
wind.
place your
hand out
the window
of a fast moving
car.
it feels like
that.
cool and brisk
against
your aging
skin.
there is no
stopping it,
best to roll
all the windows
down
and enjoy
the ride.

breathe deeply and say ummmm

each journey
begins with one
step
your yogi master,
tiffany,
tells you
as you stretch
and listen
to your own
breathing,
which is on
the wheezy side
on account of
this stinking
hay fever attack
you're having
this fall.
yes, master
you say, blowing
your nose, and
sticking
the tissue
back into your
manly black
tights.
you open one
eye to see if
she's staring
at you. she is.
what? you say.
I'm listening,
but its hard
to breath.
calm yourself
she says in that soothing
condescending
way she likes
to speak.
breathe deep
and center yourself.
you start to gag
a little,
because your nostrils
are completely closed
and you have to
breathe through
your mouth
like a beached
blue whale.
center yourself
and imagine a field,
a lush field
of green grass,
and leaves falling.
you scratch your
nose then raise
your hand,
what? she says,
what is it?
can we think of
a snow covered field.
or maybe a placid
lake of blue
water. I don't want
to think about grasses
and rag weed.
sure, she says. your
vision is your own.
you are the master
of your mind and body.
join them together
and...
at this point you
let out a giant
sneeze, but
before you can
put your kleenex to
your mouth,
it showers the front
row of yoga women
who all scream
and start running
around like chickens with
their heads cut off.
quietly you bow
and slip out the back.

cat detective

how long has your cat
been missing.
two days.
what's his name.
joe.
joe?
yes joe.
you named your cat
joe?
yes, it was my
father's name.
I see.
does your
cat have any
enemies, anyone
that might want to
harm him.
there is a dog
around the corner
that barks at
the window when
he passes by and sees
joe on the sill.
what kind of dog
german shepard,
mix maybe. he has
big teeth and growls
a lot.
I see.
and your husband,
is he a cat
person?
not really, he'd
prefer a dog,
I think, but he'd
never harm joe.
where is he?
he's gone too.
are you going to look
for him as well?
no ma'am, just the
cat, that's not my
job here.
does your cat like
to get out
of the house, cat
around,
howl a lot?
sometimes, yes. but
he always comes
home after a night out.
I understand. he's
a cat, it's what
cat's do.
so, can you find him.
I miss him so much.
we'll see what we can
do. but if we can't
are you willing
to accept another cat,
adopt a stray
perhaps.
sure, maybe a black
and white one,
but declawed
and one that doesn't
howl as much
or tear up
the furniture. he'd
have to be potty
trained too.
do you think
you're husband may
have driven your
cat out to the country
and dropped him
off.
possible, she says,
closing her robe
and sitting down.
would you like to come
down to the station
with me and take a lie
detector test?
am I being arrested,
no ma'am, we just
need to ask you
some questions,
and your husband too.
but, he was a mean
cat, she says,
beginning to cry.
he pees everywhere,
and yesterday he tore
up the curtains.
look at them, they're
shredded.
turn around ma'am,
I need to put these
on you.