Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the red glove

a dropped glove
on the path has been
stuck on
a branch.
its empty red
fingers
blow in a wave
as you pass by.
small rhinestones
are imbedded
where the hand
would be.
you wave back.
the bare trees may be
grey and cold,
like you,
this time of year.
but they're friendly.

the gift

a package
at your door, cookies,
chocolates.
all wrapped in red,
a white tied bow,
a small
note saying
what it's all
for. merry Christmas.
all soft
kisses on the cheek,
which is fine,
but you wanted
so much more.

toast and tea

sitting at the kitchen
table,
new years eve,
buttering toast,
sipping
green tea, her
reflection staring
back at her
on the side of the toaster.
in the past, there
might be sorrow,
or regret,
a feeling of sadness
at being alone
on such a night,
a night
of joy and resolution,
the beginning of a new year,
but no.
this is exactly where
she wants to be,
and needs to be,
here, eating toast,
and drinking tea.

she knits the world away

she knits and knits,
unspeaking,
resolved to let
the world
go by
without being part
of it.
the yarn
is always with her
in a ball,
fallen
at her feet.
the clink of needles,
the twist
of hand,
and arm,
the eyes on each
new strand
becoming something,
something
only she can
understand.

the same stars

the stars,
the same stars you watched
as a kid
lying on
a picnic table
in the back yard
are there tonight,
unchanged,
as you are
deep within the well
of you.
only the outside
has aged,
the sun and wind,
having its way.
within is the same boy
of hope
and joy,
the child who waits
for love
to happen,
and knows it will.

the white swan

this white swan
gliding across
the winter pond alone,
hardly a ripple
on the watery glass,
stretching her wings,
her elegant neck as she paddles
back and forth,
going nowhere
that you can see.
you could watch
and be with the likes
of her beauty all day,
some days.
but in the end
it's not enough
for what you need,
though for now this swan
will do.

how to die

the old horse
dies.
going out deep into
a field
near the far fence,
at the edge
of someone else's
woods,
where the stream
bends towards the river.
where the grass is lush
and blue,
out of reach
or view,
he lies down
to close his eyes
and let
the life he knew
subside.

a toast

exhausted by the year,
by love
ending. by work and illness
that lingered
on too long.
exhausted by
brothers and sisters
bickering,
aging parents
and friends that have
come and gone,
you savor the last
night of the year
with a plate of Chinese
food, and a glass
of cold champagne, alone.
here's to the new
year. cheers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the new box

these wires, black
snakes
on the floor, their
squared jaws,
the rounded
plugs
and tails, needing
to bite
and spark
this beast alive,
this metal box of mystery
that has been removed
from its paper crate.
why is there no sound,
why is there a blue
square
around every letter
I pound into this keyboard.
why doesn't that rattling
printer respond,
and print. no ink, no
paper, no
connection, there is a boy
in Pakistan
on the line to help you,
he's taking a break
from milking his goat
to inform you
of which buttons
to push or unpush.
he wants to know your
mother's maiden
name, or the name
of your first pet
to start.
where o where is the old
typewriter, with its bell,
the blue inked ribbon,
the smack of metal
keys against paper,
its sweet cold rhythm,
that was music to my
ears.

Monday, December 29, 2014

indecision

sometimes you are
the squirrel
in the road,
frenetic with
indecision.
not knowing which
way to go,
leaning left,
leaning right,
your feet
pedaling rapidly
in one place,
waiting for the moment
when you know.

the fish

the fish, fattened
with cold, white bones
intact,
resting with flat eyes
gelled
open on the shaved
ice, behind the slant
of glass, marked for
sale by pound, not
beauty.
the glimmer
of rainbow scales,
still awash in
salt, the sway of
a green distant sea,
their lives now
measured against
their will, to what
we want, what we need.

his shoes

your father
would place his shoes
on the stairs,
rising.
black boots,
wing tips, sandals.
so you would
place yours
beside them.
trying for a closeness
that wasn't
there. not then,
not yet.
it took it years
for your feet to grow,
and his heart
to change.

old haunts

there are places
she can't go.
memories
are there. ghosts.
words still
hanging in the air,
faces in the crowd,
strangers that look
familiar.
shadows.
she's haunted
with the past,
the loves that have
come
and gone,
her world
with each new
day getting smaller
and smaller.

sweet cravings

you crave something sweet.
a candy
a slice of dark
chocolate
cake, some sort
of decadent flavor,
sugar spun with cream,
a treat.
you know what I
mean. or in lieu of that,
just bring me you,
sashaying across the room
on high-heeled feet.

sparks

these crossed
wires, spark in the tight
confines
of a box
where the switch
is hit again and again.
in time
it may burn.
but for now,
you let it be.
you let friends be
friends,
and say little,
to do more would
be trouble,
and to what end.

the blue buick

the blue buick on blocks
in the driveway.
tires, bald and stacked,
filled with rain
and leaves.
the raised letters
goodyear, once bright,
now faded grey,
the newness of life
so fragile,
so quickly
leaving, the body
under siege of relentless
rust.
how sweet the engine
purred,
how the radio sang.
the seats
holding you and me,
our new love bringing us
knee to knee,
hand on hand,
as we cruised.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

the letter

the letter folded,
pressed between the pages
of a book
you both read,
creased,
the ink soft and blurred
from time
or tears, or both.
you open to read her
words again,
the explained farewell,
the wishes
for the best for you
in finding
true love,
love that is meant
to last. how she
whispered on paper that
it was never meant
to be. each word a bullet
through an arm, a hand,
a leg,
making you bleed,
the last line,
point blank, i love you,
let's stay friends,
dropping you to your
knees.

writing

you can't be bothered
with punctuation
or spelling or in even
getting the facts straight,
sometimes what you write
doesn't even make
sense, making you scratch
your own head, and say
what?
you are runaway train
on this track.
plowing forward
against the steel rails.
making things up as you go
along, taking the clay
of your day, spinning
it on a fast wheel, cooking
it in the kiln of
your over heated mind,
making something out
of nothing, lining
the shelves with simple
ashtrays.

no guilt

you don't separate
plastic
or paper, cans or bottles.
you toss
them all into
the same bag.
you read where the sun
will burn out
at some point.
having exhausted its flame,
turning itself into
a cold
black spot in the sky.
this makes you happy,
eases
the guilt about
the trash you bag,
carry to the curb,
set out.

another new year

you say things like I should go
visit, I don't know how many
more Christmases he has in him.
he can't hear, or see very well.
you sent him a magnifying
glass as a gift. but he still
finds humor in everything,
telling you a blonde joke
on the phone, one he's told
before. he laughs at the end,
waiting for you to join in,
you do. this is how it works
now. you forget all that went
wrong and help him across
the road of another new year.

the guys

these men, friends
gathered without wives
or girlfriends, to eat,
to drink, to sit in a tight
circle and avoid
talking about illness or
death, poverty
of soul or pocket.
it's a life raft with a mission
of keeping the night
afloat, of skipping
over the rough
and laughing, poking
one another, wrestling like
the young puppies
you once were
when you met so long ago.

all the buttons

with all the buttons
pushed and lit
in the elevator, you
look at the kid who rides
along with you.
a smirk etched on his
unlined face, happy
with his small prank,
his devilish strike
at a world he's yet to
understand or join.
push the buttons, you
think to yourself, push
them all now, for there
will come a time
when this life of no
hurry and careless ease
will change.

spare change

curled in a ball of rags,
blue eyed
with silk hair,
grey and matted, making
you think of a wet rat,
he lies beside
the Christmas store
with his god bless sign
so neatly marked
in black, a card
board placard,
which can fold
for easy carrying.
he wakes up
begging. he walks
and leans
into the day with
an emptiness to be filled.
he may be crazy, or
sane, who's to know
these days as you drop
your coffee change
into the ding
of his metal cup,
then turn to hurry away.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

the heirloom plate

a broken plate, once
considered good china
by your mother,
an heirloom from Woolworth's,
a table centerpiece,
where the turkey would sit
once baked, porcelain
with don't microwave
on the back, hand wash,
has tumbled to the floor.
carefully you collect
the three angled
shards onto the table,
lining a clear ribbon of glue
along the ragged
edges, pressing them
together, but knowing
that the weight
wont hold, that's it
time, all things
and mothers being one,
will one day come apart.

the vault

the vault of memory
that holds
everything,
with its set of numbers
and turns.
the savings of your life.
love and death,
images of what went
went wrong,
what was right,
all stacked within
the shelves of time.
you twist the dial
carefully,
on your knees, trying
to open the door,
to visit her once
more, you listen
to the clicks
with an ear against
the thick cold
metal, then stop.
enough with the past.
the vault. it's
time for someone new,
where love is mutual,
someone you adore.

the swing

how happy the child is
as the swing
lifts him
towards the blue
sky and clouds,
his feet straight
with boots,
his eyes glistening
with winter,
apart from earth,
but not quite,
his hands held tight on
the dark chain
that holds the seat,
the bar above,
higher, higher he shouts,
no fear of anything behind
or in front of him,
not yet.

blue bird

it surprises you,
this blue bird who has
found the time
to sit on your window
sill. fat with feathers,
full of himself,
accepting winter,
and wanting for nothing
more than
what he has, showing
you a way.

top of the stairs

even now, at this age,
you cringe at the sound
of arguing
between a man
and a woman,
having sat at the top
of the stairs
listening to the curses
of your mother and father.
their hateful voices
rising like acidic
heat to your small
ears. you hear
the broken dishes,
the glass
against the wall,
the cut cord,
the phone being
thrown.
the knocks at the door,
the screams,
the sirens.
your sister, hardly
born, in her
crib crying
in another room.

two years ago

if it was two years
ago, you'd be waking up beside
her.
you would have made
love by now.
you'd be in each
other's arms.
the shades would be up
as the birds
would gather
at the feeder swinging
from the top
of the window.
if it was two years
ago. you'd want to stay
in bed until noon,
talking about breakfast,
about food,
about where
you would walk that day,
through which woods
or along the water.
if it was two years ago,
she would kiss you
before rising to go shower,
she would whisper to you,
I love you. I love
I love you, and you
would say the same.

his plan

she remembers him
at the sink, at the stove,
barefoot
in the kitchen, shirtless,
the sweat of them
making love still
on the small of his
back.
cracking two eggs
for him
into a pan.
making coffee for one,
toast for one.
staring out the window,
planning
his escape, without
her, his
plan.

Friday, December 26, 2014

strong love


it's early in the morning
when someone
asks you what you want
in this life.
what do you really want.
you say without thinking,
strong coffee,
strong love.
everything else is done.

bread crumbs

she leaves a trail
of personal
bread crumbs
in her wake.
lipstick,
brushes, clothes,
a pen, a ring
on the nightstand,
the wine still
opened
on the counter.
she's gone.
but she knows her
way back,
she's made sure
of that.

go back to bed

how easy it would be
to go back to bed.
to remove your clothes,
take off your shoes,
to stop the day in its tracks.
you could take some books,
get back under
the warm blankets that you
just left.
the pillow still holds
the shape of where
you last were, as if
waiting. why not.
the world can go on
without you for one day,
your quite sure of that.

while scraping ice

as you scrape
a thick layer of ice
from your window,
leaning over
the hood of your
brittle car,
you think about
oranges and sunshine.
long languid beaches.
there's a woman on the veranda,
let's call her Lucinda,
she waves with a mimosa in her
hand, maybe she's
applying lotion
to her long arms
and legs. the sky is blue,
there are tropical
birds in the trees.
maybe there are monkeys,
but not the wild
scary kind. good monkeys.
the kind you can feed
a banana to without
them biting off your
hand. you keep scraping
your windows. your feet
slipping as you move
about the car,
the front, the back,
the sides.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

the watches

watches in a drawer,
some yours,
some hers, a few
strays left behind,
all still at it,
busy keeping time,
despite never being worn.
around the hands go,
ignored in their work.
clicking off the hours,
turning them into
days, then months,
no different are you.
or me it seems in
our labor.

the tin of cookies

your father sends you a tin
of Christmas cookies.
it's red with a bow on top.
they are pressed perfectly
into shapes of trees
and ornaments, leaves,
reindeer. round and squared,
nestled in paper cups.
all sweet, too sweet,
and stale. crumbling with
each bite having been made
some other year. strange
raspberry and tangerine
flavored cookies, some
chocolate or hazel nut, but it's
the thought that counts.
the time it took to place
the order, spell your name
right, and find your address.
the bravery of giving his
card over the phone to make
the purchase. true love like
this, the world has rarely
known.

another song

the record, still on
the turntable, skipping, stuck
in a small grooved
scratch, repeating over
and over the same words,
the same few notes,
until you get up
and lift the needle,
setting it on another track.
how easy it is to make
life right sometimes,
when things feel like they
will never change, or
move on to another song.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

the spatula

if you had to be
one utensil
it wouldn't be a
knife or fork,
not even a spoon.
no. you'd go into
the larger drawer,
where the random
things lie in wait.
perhaps a bright spatula,
flexible and lean,
the last one out
to clean the bowl
of a batter cake.

in deep water

waving or drowning,
both
are so much
the same.
too far out
to save, these
friends with drama,
so far
away.
you can only shoot
a flare
into the sky,
marking
their position,
as they go
down, or move on
to better days.

she gives us all her love

her voice, a garbled,
smoked etched sound.
even now, after being dead
for forty years,
you can hear
your grandmother's laugh,
her reprimands,
swearing at you
for not praying more,
for watching television
and gazing out the window,
wondering when
she would leave
and go back to boston.
you see her with her toast
and tea,
her number paintings,
the smell of oils
on her hands. you can
feel the stiff bite of
the fruitcake she made
and placed in a tin,
because she loved you,
loved all of you, as
God does,
and to eat none would
be a sin.

going back

these woods, full of rain.
your shoes
smacking against the paved
walk until it turns to
gravel. the woods of no
change, over thirty years
you've come this way
to witness
the sway of birds rising
against the sky, scurrying
from branch to
brush. the pond at the end
black and shallow,
unmoving. the beaten path
is silent.
the cold, the holiday
has saved it just for you.
knowing you'd be back.

coming home

the girl, visiting
for the holiday,
beyond already
in being a girl.
falls asleep
in her mother's bed.
curled beneath
the blankets, the lights
on, the tv
humming, a book
once read to her
as a child,
closed in her
open hand.
the world is right.
the world is good,
her mother sighs,
as she stands
at the door
and cries.

the want

the clenched teeth
of the dog
biting down,
his jaw locked
on what he wants
so desperately,
reminds you of you
sometimes. how hard
it is to let things
go, when the battle
is lost.

the hair cut

just an inch off the top
you'd tell the barber
as you sat in the chair.
a trim, you'd say, just a
trim. sure kid, he'd mumble,
dropping the sheet
around your skinny neck,
pinning it with his stubby
fingers,
his hands smelling of onions
and salami. he turned your head
from the top, like
a child's doll.
you watched your hair
float onto the striped
cape, onto the floor,
there was little you
could do. he might
cut your ear off with
a straight razor if
you moved. how would
you ever make a wave again,
ala elvis, with your little
black comb,
your life as you knew
it was over.
finally, after several
minutes he spun you around,
powdering your bristled
neck. tapping your
cheeks and ears with a blue
liquid from a bottle
he shook. how's that he'd
say looking into the wall
length mirror, his wide
smile exposing his gapped
teeth, proud
of what he had done,
ruining your summer.
how's that my boy. now
go get em.

the christmas ring

you go shopping for a
ring at the mall.
but first you
get a pretzel
and a soda.
that one you say to
the girl, I want to see that
one, pointing
at a diamond ring
under the shiny glass.
what size does she
wear, the girl asks you.
I don't know you
say, brushing gems
of fallen salt
from your coat.
I just her met last week,
but her fingers are slender,
like yours,
not fat at all.
how much is that one?
oh, you say,
as she flips the tag
over and tells you.
do you have
anything cheaper.
something without
the diamonds?
you wipe the mustard
from your lips
as you finish your
pretzel. I just met her
and I'm not sure it's
going to last,
do you have anything
I can return
if it doesn't work
out? sorry, she says,
but no.

the helpful world


at random
someone calls you on the phone.
a heavy accent.
but he knows your name,
your phone number,
he knows that you are having
trouble with your
computer. what doesn't he
know you think.
I can help you he says.
are you at your computer
now. let me help you clean
up the system. make it faster.
I have called to assist
you with your troubles,
please let's begin.
give me your credit card
information for starters.
your birth date, your
social security number
and your bank account.
your heart is warmed at how
helpful the world has
become these days.

two inches to the left

you move the chair
to the other side of the room.
the lamp, two feet to
the left. you unhang the picture
and nail it
to another wall.
the only plant you have
you slide
to the other side
of the window. the vase
made of red glass
you center on the mantle.
then you stand back,
hands on your hips.
shaking your head,
quickly you put it all
back, change is hard
at this age.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

the thirst

a thirsty man
is weak and willing
to listen,
to bend for water,
even to the point
of becoming
good.
how well you've known
this thirst.

the broken pot

the fractured pot,
pale blue,
unearthed from deep
within
the dry well,
a fragment of the past
dug up,
brushed clean. but
even now, two hundred
years later, it's still
a broken pot, at
least to you.

on the other side

the stolen spoon you use
to dig
your tunnel bends
in the soft dirt,
relentless is your digging.
there will be light.
you can almost see it.
you will be out soon.
you will crawl
to the other side
and be free.
things will be different
then,
and so will you.


the fruitcake

the carolers,
bunched together with
sheet music,
cold blooms of air
rising
from their o shaped mouths,
shivering in front of your house.
singing,
so hard to block
it out,
the dog howls,
you stand at the kitchen
window
and wave, shirtless,
holding a mug
of iced bourbon.
you wish you could join
them,
to be that selfless
and cheerful,
but you can't, not today.
you set a fruit cake
out on the stoop for them,
as a token of
appreciation,
you yell out, take it.
please, thank you.
it's for you my merry
friends.

the big light

it's more subtraction
these days
than it is
addition.
the list of friends
and lovers
is shrinking
like daylight
finding
the longer days
of winter.
it's okay to fade
away.
to go gently into
that good night.
no whimper, no whining.
just a smile,
a kiss.
a wave farewell,
a flick off
of the big light.

your black hat

a crust of grey snow,
ankle deep,
the froth
of slush
and ice, salt,
the debris of air
and road.
it takes the smile
out of winter,
balancing
one arm
against
a lamp post,
flagging down
the future that awaits
in a yellow cab.
maybe she'll
forgive you for being,
once again,
so late, so wintry
in your dour
demeanor, your
black hat.

Monday, December 22, 2014

so long ago

a vial
of blood is taken from your
arm.
the red soup
of your soul to be
spun
and examined.
they need to know
the things they don't
know.
how quickly this life
fades
you think while staring
at a ceiling
of lights,
on a cold table
bare
as the day you were
born,
so long ago.

the long line

we are born
to wait, to get in line.
from the moment
you can stand
there is a line you
must get into
and wait your turn.
hardly a decision is
made
without a line
involved.
from school to marriage
to the job
you chose, or chooses
you.
even in end, there is
a line stretching
towards the cemetery
with headlights on.

risk and reward

you don't pet
the cross stitched
snake, rising as it rattles,
or stick your head
into a lion's
mouth.
you leave the alligators
alone,
choosing not
to wrestle their rugged
green hides
to the ground, prying
their jaws open.
there is no bungee cord
in your near or distant
future,
or plane
to leap out of
from the clouds above,
no, you live a timid life.
work and love
being enough risk
and reward as it is.

making the grade

you miss the testing
of school days.
multiple choice always
being your favorite,
or the wide open,
in a hundred words
or less essay.
it was so simple then.
showing your work,
filling in the blank,
seeing the red marked paper,
handed back to you,
then a grade inked into
the teacher's ledger.
you knew where you stood
with the world and
others. passing or
failing, moving on
to another level,
or not.

things can change

it's early, too early to be up
on a cold December
morning. even the dog
shakes his head and crawls
back under the blanket.
but you want to see the sun rise.
you want to see the color
of the sky when it changes,
when the blue blackness
of night gives in to
the turning of the earth,
to sunlight. you need to know
that things can change.

the restraining order

it's a narrow
window, but you crawl through.
easing your way
into the house.
there was a time
when you had a key,
or could knock or ring
the bell
to get in, but she's
changed the lock
and refuses to answer
the door.
this is the only way
you have now to regain
her love and affection,
it's only the guard
dog and the alarm
on her bedroom
door that you need
to get past to see
her again. you're
almost home, you
hope she doesn't scream.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

the risk

fractured ice
feeling the weight
of you
across a pond
holding the peach of
a winter sun going
down.
all things are
possible
with risk,
even now at this age,
getting to
the other side
of where your life
should be.

her smile

prism light
on the skim of puddle.
an oiled rainbow
shaking color
in arced stripes.
beauty was in her smile,
I remember that.

holiday dinner

the old men
in winter plaid
and grey
move slowly along
the brightly lit aisles,
alone,
the squeak of the carts
wheel
a mouse at their feet.
they stand at the cold
bins of fish
reaching in
to pick one package,
blood red or pink,
they study the words,
the price,
turn it over,
then back again.
they set it down
on the iron mesh
next to potatoes,
bread and wine,
a single apricot.
they toss their scarves
over their shoulders,
adjust their hats,
move on.


going home

a stray dog in winter
is in the road
walking.
being dodged
by traffic.
he's narrow minded
in his journey.
uncaring
about what lies ahead.
he smells
home. like him,
you too smell home.
but you can't
get there anymore,
not from here, at least,
despite your wanderings.

the christmas card


her white hair
too long
frames her gaze.
her face
has been smoothed by age.
the worry
lines
taken out
somehow by forgetting
all
that worried
her, all that was
or could be,
she is blind to memory,
knowing
for certain
only what's in her hand.
turning the card
over and over
to say how pretty it is,
again and again.

the bell ringer

the man in the bright red
santa suit
ringing the bell
over a shiny black pot
swinging full
of change
might be a little insane.
his enthusiasm
and repetitive
phrase of have a nice
day is relentless.
from morning until
the store closes, he
is out there
greeting whoever
walks in or leaves.
you drop
a quarter into the pot
which makes him
ring the bell even harder.
he is as constant
as the northern star,
having found his
niche in life, which
is something
not everyone can say.

job interview

where do you want
to be in five years
the interviewer asks you
as he stares at your application
form for a job
you don't even want.
close your eyes, he says.
take your time
before you answer.
relax and think about it.
you close your eyes
and a smile creases your face.
I'd like to be married
to amy adams, you say.
living in Malibu
with maybe a condo
overlooking central
park to visit once
in a while. what?
the interviewer says.
who is amy adams?
she's been in a lot of movies
lately. American
Hustle for one. cute
little perky redhead.
I think I love her.
okay, okay. the interviewer
says. be serious.
do you really want this job
or not?
I'm not sure. I've just
been bored lately
and thought maybe I'd do
something crazy
like get a real job
instead of what I do now.
how's the coffee here?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

at night

a warm hand,
a soft kiss, the whispered
words
of good night,
i love you
are blessings in
this world,
helping to ease
the rest of what
we must
endure.

the thinning

the hunters
are quiet in the trees.
they have become
the trees. green
and flowered
brown, stiffly silent
in the dark as
they wait, unmoving,
for the deer.
to step inside
the luminous lens,
their crossbows
taut with
arrows of
sharpened steel.
it's not killing,
or even hunting,
it's thinning
the herd.
keeping the roads
safe for me and you.
it's a cold game.
this man versus
nature.

the wall between you

a card dropped
through the metal mail
slot
of your door
says happy new year.
it's from
a neighbor that you
rarely speak to.
she is quick
to get in and out of
her car,
only stopping to wave
quickly
as she carries
groceries in, or a
brief case
from her work.
maybe nine words have
been exchanged
in a year of living
side by side,
secretly busy in
your own lives.
a mere wall between
you
and yet strangers.

candy cane slippers

don't bring her cookies
anymore,
the woman who unlocks the door
tells you.
no chocolates either.
it's all going straight
through her, she says, making
a quick hand gesture
from her neck to
below her waist to give
you a visual of your
mother's failing digestive
system.
you set the box of Christmas
cookies
on the table in the main
room, where
the others, go at it
like piranhas in
their satin and lace.
you smile, then hand your
mother
her new slippers. purple
with candy canes.
I like them she says,
she likes everything
these days.

just be happy

just be happy.
the book tells you.
perceive happiness and it
will be
so.
it's all in your mind.
you think about throwing
the book
into the fireplace,
but you don't have one.
maybe a doorstop,
or a book to kill
stink bugs
when they invade
your home. you turn another
page.
just be happy it says
again,
like a north Korean
torturer, pounding
the message home,
you are what
you think.
you think about being a
mountain lion and chasing
down a sheep,
or a goat for dinner,
you let out
a roar, you scratch
the floor, arching your
back.
this strangely makes
you happy.

in the morning

you wake
up coughing, deep
lung
bursting coughs.
your ears rattle
like small glass windows
in your skull.
you think of your father
and his
camel cigarettes,
his whiskey,
blowing his nose
as he sits
on the side
of the bed,
black boxer shorts,
black socks,
a new cut on his head.
a train wreck.
and here you are
coughing,
trying hard to clear
the pipes,
no black socks,
or boxers,
no cuts, but
you're no different.

keepsakes

she would save string,
paper clips,
rubber bands, empty
plastic bags,
harper's bazaar magazines
and look.
out of print forever
but stacked
in tilted piles
along
the basement wall. years
of cards received
not in bags or boxes,
but scattered on
the floor like autumn
leaves. love letters.
valentines from the third grade.
the clothes were haystacks
in a corner,
or on hangers swinging on
the door.
they didn't fit, the style
was gone,
but they blew in the wind
of her rooms
when she opened a window.
empty bottles lined
the shelves,
books books books,
buildings of books going
nowhere.
lamps that wouldn't light,
stereos with wires
frayed, stacked
silently together.
and now, the ghost of you
lies in there,
somewhere.

i want that

they began to take
things of hers as she lay
not dying, not quite,
but asleep,
a ring slipped
off her finger,
a watch from her wrist, rosary
beads lying in a small
puddle on the nightstand.
even a tea set from
Russia was lifted from
her cupboard
as she lay
in the hospital,
trying to remember
her own name,
the names of people
in the room,
but these were children
of hers
not thieves,
storing her keepsakes
out of sight
where only they
could see, already picking
at the bones.

Friday, December 19, 2014

out of time

your brother
likes to begin each conversation
with
remember when we
were poor,
remember how our
parents weren't there for us,
how we got no
encouragement
or love
to go on.
usually you say yes,
I do
and go through the list
with him, discussing
shoes
with holes in them,
white
bread and cheese,
powdered milk,
the army barrack beds,
thin mattresses
on springs.
my back still hurts, he
says, letting
out a groan on the phone.
fifty years ago,
you tell him. fifty years.
you keep waiting for him
to see the blessings
in it all,
but he's running out
of time.

rolling the dice

you have never been
good at gambling,
but you keep at it.
despite
the many relationships
you've been in
you keep your unlucky
streak going.
you've rolled
the dice quite a few
times
and have come up
snake eyes nearly every
time.
even with new dice
in your hands,
blowing on them, whispering,
sweet nothings
against their cold
six sides,
you never seem to win.

so true

the moon has always
been with you.
a part of your life.
a childhood
friend
out the window silver
and bright.
even now,
you expect so much from
it.
some mystery solved,
some poem
to arise from
its lunar glow
and pull.
it's hard to imagine
any friend or lover
so constant,
so loyal
so true.

i want to be wooed

i want to be wooed,
she says to you
while kicking off her
shoes
and lighting a cigarette.
can you smell that,
she says, holding
her feet closer to her face.
her flexibility is amazing.
I've been working all day
in these damn platform
shoes and hose. maybe i'll take
a shower. do you have soap?
i feel like burning
these clothes, they are wet
on me.
yes, you tell her.
down the hall. soap,
shampoo, all that kind
of stuff. clean towels too
in the closet.
thanks, she says, blowing
a series of jaw
cracking smoke rings
towards the ceiling.
we women like to be wooed.
i don't know exactly what
that means you tell her,
holding your nose.
women want to be won over,
showed that they are
adored and wanted.
we need a little red
carpet sometimes. do you
know what i mean?
maybe, you tell her, watching
as she drags her nails
along the bristles
of her legs. hey,
i have a razor and
shaving cream in the shower
too, if you need that.
i'll open a bottle of wine
while you bathe.
am i wooing now? it feels
like i am a little.

your ear nose and throat specialist

your doctor
scribbles on a pad
of paper
your three options.
it's chicken scratch,
hardly legible.
what's this word you
ask him
pointing at the first
line.
that's drugs,
see the d and the r...
that little loop is a u.
okay,
you say, and the next
line, what's that.
that says,
injections, see the j,
I know it looks
like a t, but it's
really a j.
I write like that
when in a hurry.
but you're here,
what's the rush.
and the third line?
that says...ummm. I think
I wrote surgery,
I'm not sure, don't
worry about that line,
that's way down the road
if option one and two
don't work.
any more questions?
I'd like to stay and chat,
but I really have to run.
I have a hot pastrami
sandwich in my office
with my name on.
it's no good if it gets
cold. oh, you can
put your shirt back
on now and leave
if you want.

the line thief

you are a line thief.
an idea
burglar, tip
toeing along the
ledge of her
mind. going
through an unlocked
door or window.
everything she says
is ripe
for stealing, gems
tossed into
your little
black bag
and held under
the light,
brought home to
be examined,
priced then sold
in the bargaining
of your own poetic
life.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

the ceremony

the clerk wipes his mouth,
after taking a bite
of his sandwich. lunch he
says apologetically,
fifteen dollars,
raise your hands and
repeat after me.
she's in white,
he's in black.
a quick shine on his
shoes, a beauty parlor
stop for her.
she touches the small
raise of her stomach
without looking down.
she says the words
she's supposed to say,
so does he.
there's no rice thrown,
no cake, or band.
sign here, the clerk
says,
they sign the paper.
they leave to start
another day.


dead sea scroll recipes

the new discovery
of recipes
in a cave close to where
they found the dead sea scrolls
has set the culinary
world on fire. for example
here's one
found on a scroll of papyrus
lying in a clay pot
within the caves.
catch fish, build fire,
scratching rocks onto leaves
or driftwood, with cupped
hands blow until
fire is steady. add more wood.
(if there is a burning bush
present, that will do as well)
toss dead
fish, after a nice
coating of olive oil,
onto fire using a metal
pan, or a roman helmet
if one is around, season
with sea salt, honey
and sprinkles
of pepper. flip after three
minutes, do not overcook.
place lemon wedges on the side.
garnish with
parsley. feeds one
or two, depending on if
jesus is around.
he could multiply
that one fish
into five hundred.
serve with a white wine.
stomped grapes, using
clean feet or sandals,
fermented, strained
and bottled.
one bottle for two,
unless of course jesus
is present, if that's the case
there's plenty more to be found.
so drink up.
for dessert there is a nice
selection of grapes,
pomegranates and figs,
and or a nice bread
pudding made with three eggs,
two cups of warm goat milk and honey.
wash out the roman helmet,
or use the breast plate
stolen from a palace guard for
a more fancy presentation,
bake in the desert sun
for two or three hours,
or until firm.
serves two, unless of course,
you know who is around.
Thomas will not believe
how good this tastes.

one empty seat

she asks you where the seats
are.
I hope they aren't in
the middle.
I hate the middle seats.
I can't get out
when I'm in the middle
and it's crowded. please,
please tell me
our seats are on the end,
but in the center
of the auditorium,
not too close, I cant
watch when I'm too close,
my neck hurts,
and not too far back
either. I don't like
to wear my glasses when
I'm too far away.
so I pray that the seats
are down a dozen rows
from the back
and up a dozen from
the front. what do the tickets
say? where are they?
sold out you tell her,
pocketing the tickets,
and shrugging. oh, oh
what a shame she sighs,
I did so want to see
that wonderful play.

fatherhood

when your
son picked up a flat headed
screwdriver
and tried to jam
it into an unprotected
light socket,
you rushed to his side
and smacked him
on his nine pound
wet diaper, which hurt
your hand more than it
did his chapped bottom.
but he cried
as you took the tool
from his hand and warned
him about electricity,
and how the current
would fry his little brain
like an egg on a skillet.
of course he didn't understand
a word you said,
he just wanted to his
screwdriver back
to play.

house for sale


that thunder
that you hear is really
the unbalanced
washer that I
over loaded
with heavy clothes,
no need to worry,
it will settle down
when they all get wet
and go through
a spin cycle,
and that rain, well
it's not rain at
all, but the leaky
toilet off
the bedroom that
keeps refilling and
refilling
because of a small
leak in
the red gasket that
never seals completely
down. oh, and
the vibration
of the floor, ignore
that too, just a minor
thing when the pipes
have a pocket of
air that can't
makes it's way through.
but all in all
it's a good house.
and I'm firm
on the price.
just one more thing,
those cold clouds
of air
in the bedroom, that
give you a chill when
you pass your hand through,
that's nothing,
just an occasional
haunting from all the past
owners who have died
in there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the different moon

if you can get to the moon,
you will be happy.
your ship
is strong your silver suit
will keep you warm.
you will float in space
being hurled
towards the lifeless
globe before you
there is nothing there,
but it's where you want to be.
it's a reason to live,
a reason to die for.
so different than being
on earth.

the boat wedding

the wedding party
nearly all drunk at the open
bar
lean over
the side of the boat,
green and bleary,
full of champagne
and shrimp wrapped
in soft bacon.
look, someone says,
there goes a fish,
but it's a not a fish,
it's a bottle
of wine floating
along side
the wobbling ship.
the bride throws her bouquet
up into the wind.
the wind catches
it and it sails into the water.
the groom
with cake on his face
loses his balance
and falls
down the winding steps
to where the galley is.
the captain, takes his seat,
steering a mile north
under the bridge
until he circles,
then does it again,
keeping the ship afloat.
this is marriage.

back into the chamber

you can't put the bullet
back into the chamber, the words
back into your mouth,
what's done can't be undone,
you know this as a truth
after pulling the trigger
of your tongue,
and yet you try,
how bitterly you try.

the fisherman

it was always early
morning
when he arose, showered,
grabbed this thermos
full of coffee, his cigarettes.
the worms
in a box, blood worms,
fresh and cold
from the refrigerator
shelf.
the gear was in the car.
the rods
the reels, hooks and sinkers,
a tackle box.
worn and bruised.
a knife on his belt,
the lucky lures, his
homemade mix
of jello and dough,
for the carp and catfish
that twisted thick
and slow, in the low
depths of mud and weed.
the sun, a small plate
of yellow rising
between the trees.
his hip boots on,
as he waded out,
a cigarette lit between
his lips,
casting as he walked
calmly towards the edge
of the water.

some middle ground

I don't like you with that whip
in your hand.
when we first got married
you wore your prairie nightgown
and it was pilgrim
sex. sex for procreation,
there was no joy
in it. god was watching,
as well as your dearly
departed grandparents.
it was missionary,
under the blankets with
the lights off, hardly a sound.
but you've changed.
those thigh high leather
boots, those fish net stockings
glimmering in the light
as you straddle me,
the black mascara and blood
red lips. I'm scared now.
what's with that stun gun?
please, I beg you,
we need to find
some middle ground.

take me back

you have been shallow.
you admit that.
a mere bump or mole,
or sign
of cellulose made you
run for the door.
a pound of misplaced
fat,
or strand of gray hair.
a scar
upon her back,
these things would kill
the moment,
but things have
changed.
you get it now.
the mirror has humbled
you, made
you a better person,
can you forgive,
and take me
back. I like your crooked
tooth. really,
I do.

the snow is deep

cancel
the flight. the snow
is deep.
you can stay here for the night.
put your bag
down.
come and sit
by the fire.
let me pour you another
round.
relax.
the snow is deep.
we can fall asleep in
each other's arms,
pretend
it's not over.
pretend it's not the snow
that's
keeping you around.

the clues

there are clues.
hints.
foot prints,
words said.
motives unhid.
you don't have
to be a detective
to figure this out.
you are sensitive
to a change
in temperature,
the slight
movement of ice
or rise in heat.
no need
to take blood
or break out
the polygraph machine,
the line up
is just one.

christmas card

your Christmas
card list has diminished over
time.
you feel
guilty when
you get one, but
it's nice.
your one box,
the reindeer in the blue
sky is almost
empty.
for three years,
everyone has
received the same.
you need a real list
instead of the envelopes
they sent
with a return
address.
you need a new box
of cards,
some new friends maybe.
and stamps.

done

like a cold
wet rag
you've wrung the most
out of
this relationship
that you could.
small grey drips
hit the ground.
you spin
it in the air,
snap it like
a whip.
yes, it's done.
you set it out
on the sidewalk
to dry
in the sun, let
the wind
take it.

a beginning

the fields are
more full each year,
they have
lived their lives
and now this.
here in the warm
tall grass,
you see their heads
turned towards
the sun,
their hands
touching one another.
they wait for you
to join them.
the sky is a perfect
blue.
the mountains
capped in pristine snow.
there is green
everywhere. it is
a beginning not an
end.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the wait

you enter the room
and wait.
you sit on the edge
of the bed.
she is not there,
you don't expect her
anytime soon.
she's made
that clear.
but it's the same
room you slept in,
made love
in. it's the room
you lay next to one
another
and spoke about
how the leaves
have fallen, how
bright they are this
year.
how soon winter
has come, how quickly
summer has faded.
your life has been
about waiting.
nothing has changed.
everything remains
the same, you sit
in this room,
you wait.

easy like that

these new boots
make you warm and happy.
you are easy
like that.
waterproof
and not too tight.
how nicely
they lace up,
the color just right.
you feel as if you need
to go somewhere
with shoes like these.
you could walk
around the island
of manhattan
in shoes like these,
but for now you'll
just wear
them around the house,
you want to keep
them new for awhile,
at least until
see you see them.

the men

the men, hands folded,
still, quiet stones
in
their seats.
something has robbed
them
of joy.
call it work, or
a loveless marriage,
call it disappointment,
but
they have no
memory of youth.
they are tombstones
tilting
at the party,
long faced like fishermen
with empty nets.
you can almost
read
the etching in marble
of their birth
and death,
almost, not quite
underground.

three dinks

without a glass
of wine
in her hand she was
helpless,
quiet, almost sad.
it was hard to move
about the room
until
the light went
on, the drink
went down and absorbed
some of the darkness
that she
stumbled through.
by drink three
a smile
broke out,
the charm and wit
rose like thin pink
balloons,
the eyes even sparkled
when she winked
and took your
hand, suddenly
realizing
that you were even
there beside her.

her back pages

a notebook
found under the front
seat of her car.
wired, sticky,
bent. lying warped
on the wet carpet,
the shell of
a lipstick tube
beside it.
strands of her
long hair.
a small part of you
wants
to leave it there,
to not see
what is written.
but the larger
part of you opens
it to read,
peeling the pages
carefully apart.
you are in there,
the harsh words of
love scorned.
others too.
an honest sketch
of why love failed,
why love
grew at all.
the pages are darkened
with thick
blots of ink, coffee
rings cover the sketches
of birds,
buildings. empty
hearts with
cracks down the middle.
lighting bolts going
nowhere.
some lines
go unfinished, half
thoughts, written murmurs
of distress,
crumbs left behind
of what was in
her mind. carefully
you close it.
you've seen enough.
you it slip back
to where it was.

how quickly

how quickly we forget the dead,
setting them aside,
their lives receding
not unlike each low tide,
the weight of grief
too much to bear for long.
there are bills to be paid,
work done, the dog must
be walked. there is food
on the stove, still warm.
we must sit down to eat,
turn the page of
the news, move on.

Monday, December 15, 2014

you'll be fine

the nurse wants to help
you as she stares into her
lap top asking questions,
never once looking up
to see the hives on your
face, the bleeding from
your nose, the twitching
legs and arms. the doctor
will be in shortly she
says, keeping her distance.
the doctor arrives, staring
into his laptop, says open
wide, then sticks a padded
stick onto your tongue,
say ahhh, then
peeks into each ear,
your nose, shines a light
into your bloodshot eyes.
no worries, he says.
you have three options,
pills or surgery or wait
one day until you die,
exit to your left,
pay the nurse,
you'll be fine.

to mute

with your magical
new power
you can walk about
the world
and mute whomever
is annoying
you.
one push of an
imaginary button
silences
your critics,
the nags, the angry,
the verbose
and bellicose
those who
don't agree with
anything you've
said. the whole day
long.
mute mute mute.
the lips keep moving
but there is
nothing but the sweet
sound
of quiet coming out.



dancing alone

dancing alone
makes
one appear to be
crazy, not
quite all there,
but add in one
or two, or a large
group
of people
gyrating about
the floor
and everything is
okay. it's
sad how you
love to dance
alone
and not be accepted.

the christmas break up

you sadly
break up a month before
Christmas.
you grieve
over a gallon of rocky
road
ice cream, with oreos
crunched and crumbled
into the bowl.
but you are sort
of relieved too, despite
sobbing into
the giant bowl while
shooting another stream
of whipped cream
into the mix.
no shopping this year
for girl stuff.
no calendars with horses
running across
a field,
no baubles, or lingerie,
no books
or massage oils, no
robes that don't
fit, no bottles of bubble
bath that smell like
lemons,
or the ocean.
no emergency kit for
her car, or home,
no gift certificates
to happy nails, or stay fit,
no walking around
Victoria secrets
inspecting the merchandise
that she might
look good in.
okay. some things you
will miss.

she's got abs

she shows you her muscles.
lifts her
shirt,
and says, knocking
on the rippled
abs,
rock hard,
I do
four hundred sit ups
a day.
I run ten miles,
swim five,
bike fifty.
I'm on my second
protein shake,
coconut and lamb's
blood, garlic
and kale,
some dirt for texture.
nice, you say,
handing her a book
she might like
to read.
what's this
she says?
a book you tell her.
oh,
can you sum it up
for me,
I really don't
have the time.

the lion

even caged,
declawed
and fed
live prey
behind the bars,
beyond
the moat,
the electric fence
barb wired,
the jagged stones,
the lion
is patient,
waiting for
the moment
to take
back what he has
lost.

she can't give

a cold
hand is still a hand.
as
is the heart
iced
over
still a heart.
but you
need more,
not a hollow love,
a shallow
pool
of affection.
you need
more,
you need all
the things
that she can't
give.

not a word

not a word,
a peep, a whisper,
or a note
slid under
your bolted
door.
no graffiti
on the bridge,
no editorial
in the paper,
nothing to let
you know
where you stand,
whether to stay
or leave.
your life
is in limbo.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

a bowl of soup

the warm
slice of bread
she hands
you, the bowl
of soup,
the spoon on
a tray,
a folded linen
napkin,
it's enough love
shown
for
one day,
for the both of
you,
at least for
today.

the black box

the phone
on your mother's kitchen
wall.
a black box
with a numbered wheel
to hook
your fingers in,
the licorice tangled
line
that reached
the basement stairs,
stretching on
forever. it
held whispered
voices in
thin wire
where you told
Julie, the love
of your short life
how much you
really cared
how you hoped that this
weekend
she wouldn't be
so shy,
so scared.

the cardinal

the cardinal,
red
as a drop
of blood, spread
wings,
startles
the grey block
of whitened trees,
the ash bleak
landscape
of winter.
this tells you
something
about the world.
this slash
of color
when all seems
lost.

the birthday

drunk out of your mind
on egg nog
and rum
you string a thousand
lights along
the roofline
of your house.
you blow up a giant
balloon sized
snow man,
tethering him into
the ground.
the electric reindeer
and santa
wobble back and forth
as the music
blares from
the loudspeakers.
you attach a lit candle
to the dog's head.
you paint your body
like a candy
cane and run about
naked in the snow
and ice.
only ten more days
till Christmas,
the birth
of Christ.

the find

the leg, part of a leg,
the ankle
black hoof,
a sharp
ebony stone,
still intact,
the blood fresh
the white bone sheared
of skin, the string
of muscle,
of fur.
just these
remains you find
as you walk
through the woods,
walking stick in
hand
nearly stumbling
upon
your find. you look
around and can't
help
wondering if you
are next, if it's
your turn
now.

the next great flood

is anything scandalous
anymore.
the priest,
the teacher, the doctor.
the rabbi
with a peep
hole carved into
a bathroom door.
the president,
the mayor too,
interns on their knees,
or swinging
from chandeliers,
policemen
with their selective
brooms,
does anyone walk
the straight and narrow
line
these days.
or has it reached
the point where
the earth is ready
for the next
great flood.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

the un naming

i have other things
to do.
places to be.
the schedule is full,
but i'd rather just sit
here for now.
the woods are so interesting,
more so
without her
pointing things
out, naming each
bird, or flower, or tree.
I'd rather not
know these things,
I'm happy and content
to just sit with elbows
on the sill
un naming everything
that lies about.

in the wind

you see pieces of her
floating in the air
like ash
across the brown meadow.
that dress she wore,
a smile,
a shoe,
a golden clasp.
the brush she held
in her hand,
counting.
the wind disperses
her.
tears gently at the memory
of who
you thought she
was, not the truth.

the furnace

all day you stand
at the furnace, shoveling
coal,
questioning your life.
your face is black.
your arms stained.
you cough and wipe
your eyes with a grey
rag.
the fire burns inside
the squared mouth.
it roars,
telling you something
in a language all
its own. you bend
and lift another shovel
full of coal,
throwing it in,
making the fire grow.
there are no answers
to anything,
there is just this that
needs to be done.

no need to call

it's just a flesh wound.
this will heal.
see, it only bleeds a little.
I can stitch it up
myself,
wipe it clean,
there's hardly any blood
at all.
although I feel weak.
I think i'll stop and rest here.
tell her, if you see her,
that it didn't hurt
at all, my heart is fine,
just a flesh
wound. tell her I'm okay
and moving on,
no need to worry,
no need to call.

loose ends

the loose ends
need to be tied.
the laundry
folded, the dishes
put away.
bills paid.
calls to be returned.
there are floors
that need
sweeping, beds made.
necessary things to
be done,
to keep
the ship afloat
and sailing onward,
or is it drifting,
into each
new day,
each rising sun.

Friday, December 12, 2014

boy in the car

the boy's face against the window.
pressed
into a ghoulish mask,
a childish whim,
his tongue out,
his fingers in his ears.
his teeth like little tombstones
grinding at the glass.
he will live his life
then die, possibly forgotten,
but the picture of him
will last forever.
that's the world we're
living in now.

intentional heartache

it's a sterile room.
of greens and blue,
nothing too bold
to frighten you.
the machines hum
gently, like wired
angels with lights
for eyes. buttons
for noses, gauges
for mouths.
the doctor will be
with you shortly.
put this on, no,
the other way,
now lean back
and breathe deeply.
give me your finger.
raise your arm.
have you traveled outside
the country lately,
are you on any
medications, drugs
or alcohol. have
you thought of hurting
yourself. no, you
say to all of it.
hurting myself?
not intentionally.
but there is pain
over one person in
particular. I may be
to blame for that.

the cold war

your edge has softened.
your gums hurt.
you have no time to argue
politics
with the boys
outside the coffee shop.
it's cold out, too
cold to sit there
with your knees,
and listen.
you wished you had worn
a sweater under
this thin coat.
what about global
warming
a woman yells out
from behind her
latte mustache, pulling
up a chair with
her shivering poodle.
yes, you mumble,
feeling a breeze blow up
your pant leg, where
is it?

the long day

the men in the park,
part of the benches, part
of the wood, in
their overcoats,
the long grey limbs
hold each
other up, listen
without hearing,
see without eyes.
the lives they lead
are never over, just
reinvented, going on
and on, to those who
have time to listen,
sometimes a swan
across the pond
will do, or a flock of
pigeons at their boots,
close by.

the vulture called time

be strong, he says.
when you fall
and linger on the ground.
too tired to start again.
get up
and go. come on.
take my hand.
let me help you.
so you do rise.
you do get up and go
on.
what else is there
to do, but lie
there for the hungry dogs
and the vulture
called time.

faith

the boy who dies
and comes back with story
of visiting heaven
is an interesting tale.
you'd like to believe it.
how he had conversations
with st. peter
and jesus, mary and joseph.
his sister that died
at birth. you want to believe
in the angels that he saw,
the beauty and endless
glory of what heaven is
supposed to be.
you'd like to believe the boy,
the book, the movie,
the celebrity that he has
become. but like Thomas
you need to put your fingers
into the wounds
where nails stretched out
His arms and wrists as
he was hung.

let's go for a ride

your girlfriend
from ohio shows up
at your house in a stolen
car.
she beeps the horn
as she yells, hurry up,
hop in, they're after me.
you can hear the sirens
approaching.
you grab your coat
and hat and dive into
the front seat,
hey nice ride, hot?
it is she says, the
cops have been chasing me
through five states.
hungry? sure, you say,
there's a drive thru
burger place up the street,
you tell her, make a left.
perfect she says,
shifting into gear
and laying rubber on
the road. so what next, you
ask, grabbing the dashboard
and buckling your belt.
I don't know. she says,
grinning, rob a bank,
maybe?

the race horse

the race horse wet
with sweat and mud from
the circle of fire that he
sprinted on
lumbers in a hard limp
to the barn,
a last race to be won,
or lost. the gamblers
in the stand tear
their ticket stubs in half,
waving with both hands
at the track.
green fields await,
perhaps, if he heals,
if there is money to see
him through
those golden years, those
mythical foggy
days ahead.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

flee

the snake
rattles before
it strikes,
the bangles
on her wrist
jingling
as she rises
in a tight curl.
baring
her shiny fangs
wet
with unspoken
poison.
there is no
reasoning with her,
no apologies
for bothering
her world.
miss manners
or dear abby,
have no say
in this matter.
no sage advice.
it's time
to run.

change of scenery

a change of scenery
would be nice.
we don't need to go far.
a different couch to
sit on, a new bed
to lie upon.
a different table
to spoon cereal into
my mouth. different
spoons.
a new window to stand
next to and stare
out at the stars,
as planes fly by.
a new house
with a different yard.
a new shade tree. different
fallen leaves.
new people to talk to.
it would be nice to
change everything,
everything that is,
but you. don't change.

the daughter

your daughter,
the one you never had
is still with you.
somewhere in your heart
she exists.
a strange notion
for a man to have,
now unmarried,
your son grown
and well on his way
to his own life,
but you can feel the
phantom kiss
upon your cheek
from her lips,
you can hear
the talks you would
have had, the joy
of seeing her become
a woman, teaching
you things in your old
age that men
never understand.

me and you

there are happy endings.
you've read about them
in books. fables, myths,
romance novels to name
a few. but real life
seems to come up short.
you aren't sure why,
or how things fall apart,
but they do. for example
take us, me and you.

song and dance men

you remember child hood
friends
that were already song
and dance men,
dapper happy go lucky fellows,
skipping through
the halls of school
and life, with a casual
merriment.
always with the girl,
the best and brightest,
the shiny apple of each class,
or so it seemed.
and even now, decades later
when you see them
on the street,
they still want to tap
their shoes,
sing a happy tune,
give you an all
is well wink and slap on
the back, although
by now, you both know
better.

come on nancy

one job you had
at eighteen was pushing
a wheelbarrow
full of wet concrete
to the bricklayers
along the rising red
stiff wall.
a yellow sun hung
like an egg on the edge.
they cursed you,
laughing at how you
struggled to keep
the hair out of your
eyes, your skinny arms
balancing the sloshing
weight, as you
angled the trough
along a zigzagged line
of boards
towards the waiting
men. come on nancy,
ain't got all day,
sweetheart,
they bellowed
their thick hands
holding cigarettes
and coffee, at seven
a.m.. you worked two
days, then came back
on the third to get
your check of fifty-six
dollar and thirty
three cents, net.

everyone

the world keeps wanting
to bury you.
to find a way
to take you down,
gravity is always
tugging at your coat
under the pull
of a cold moon,
holding you to the ground.
the smallest of microbes
leach on for the ride
and burrow into
the soft pink skin that
keeps you whole.
you can hear the shovels
working at night, digging
holes in the hard earth,
getting ready for
everyone, not just you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

one more week

you don't understand
the gravity of the situation
she tells you,
shoulders squared her
green eyes hauntingly
beautiful in anger.
you have to change your
ways or we're done.
you ponder in silence
her ultimatum.
she might as well be
asking that tree out
the window to not be
a tree. but you tell
her yes, of course you
will. you'll change.
you'll make this work.
I'm gong to start right
now, you tell her.
you figure you have at
least week before this
happens again. dinner?
you ask her.

new laces

your shoelace
breaks
early in the morning.
too short
to tie now,
or knot, it
surprises you,
this failure
of things, of
people.
but you move on.
new laces
new shoes.
new loves.

savings

short on cash
you put your hand
in between the cushion
of your couch.
you find thirty
seven cents.
you put it back.
the day is not lost.

eighty eight

in her white
blood smeared smock.
her hair matted down by
a black net, the short
boned woman
calls your number.
thin or regular she asks
of your ham
in her rough voice,
taste, do you want
a taste, she says
holding out a sliver
of pink marbled
meat over the counter
that she can barely
reach. you take
it from her plastic
gloved hand and eat
it. pound,
she says, did you say
a pound, nodding
as you nod yes.
cheese? provolone?
swiss? provolone
is on sale.
give me a half you
tell her. she weighs
your slices then wraps
and stamps, folds.
she slides the packages
into your
hand. enjoy she says.
eighty-nine she yells
out, then eighty-nine
again.

the surgeon

the surgeon
is in the business
of removing
things.
taking out what
ails you,
whether heart or
liver,
stones,
or kidney,
but he can't take
everything.
at some point
he has to pull
his bloodied hands
away from
your body and say
enough.
knowing when to
say enough
is crucial.
not unlike a love
gone wrong.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

the last twinkie

after eating
the last twinkie from
a box
of thirty six, you
decide to eat
natural.
you stare at the trees
that stand
in the woods beyond
your yard.
yum, you say
to yourself.
tree bark.
god help me.

the wounded

the wounded
animal,
his prints of blood
leading
the dogs
to him,
shivers in
the white drift
of snow.
he waits, as
born,
alone.
life being
short.
death
being slow.

come with me

she bumps you in
the street,
spinning with words,
pulling her
hair. her shoes
are worn,
her coat is unbuttoned
in hurry.
her eyes glow wild,
witch like
and black.
you ask her, why,
where are you going
in such a state.
frenzied like wind
encircling the papers
and leaves
upon the ground.
she grinds her teeth
and whispers,
I'm running out of
time, we all are.
run with me, be
scared. we must find
it soon, or else.
please, help me.
we can search together
for the truth.
for love.
we are near the edge,
ready to tumble over.
come with me, there is
so little time.

last will and testament

your mouth is dry
from medication.
your heart races.
you feel dizzy so
you grab a pen
and a piece of paper
and begin to write
your will.
to whom it may concern
you begin.
you scratch that out.
last will and testament
you write in
script at the top.
you ball that up
and start once more.
my will, you write.
to my son, he gets
everything
except for a few
close friends who
get small cash awards
for being lovers
or just friends you
liked to be with,
or talk to. you start
with twenty thousand
dollars to divide up.
one sister gets a
thousand dollars,
you like her a lot,
while another gets
just one dollar. too snarky
and gossipy. once
having made you a
batch of cookies,
but let her daughter
take all the chocolate
morsels out.
your poetry friend
in ohio with nice
legs gets five
hundred, while a woman
in seattle gets
three hundred and fifty, which
could increase at some
point.
your buddy down
the street gets
a hundred dollars,
sometimes he's not real
friendly and he still
has your snow shovel, but
you liked talking sports
with him.
the phone rings, it's
your mother asking how
you are, you put
her down for a thousand.
you dog comes up to
you and sits in your
lap, licking your chin
as you talk on the phone.
you put him down
for a thousand too.

a slow dance

it's a slow
dance
you are having
with this love of
yours.
avoiding her feet,
so has to not
injure them.
she keeps a small
distance
between you.
safe and telling.
it's hard to know
who's leading,
who's following,
but for now
you both hear
the same music.

the cleansing

you start with
a glass of water
and air.
you stand naked
in the sun
and begin again.
you set aside
your knowledge,
your wisdom
your angst.
you let fear
slip away,
your ambitions
melt.
you breathe in
you breathe out.
you start here
to rid yourself
of this world.
you begin
to rebuild.

Monday, December 8, 2014

the seal girl

she is a seal
in the water.
sleek
and slippery
in her rubber
hat, her rounded
shoulders,
her muscular
legs, the feet
kicking in a
rapid splash.
she is happy
swimming free
style, arm
over arm,
lap after lap.
if only with
her feet on
the ground,
could she always
be like that.

nothing new

you are tired
of naked people
on t.v.
the movies too.
the internet.
why aren't we
used to this
by now.
we have mirrors.
we have wives,
or girlfriends.
we've seen every
shape and form.
we know what
women look like
and they know
what we look like
too.
what's all fuss about,
please, put
on your robe,
it's nothing new.

the kindness of others

how kind
people are when you
are sick.
under
the weather.
coughing.
how sweet of them
to bring you
soups
and tea,
how thoughtful
they can be
to give advice
and leave you alone
to suffer
with your runny
nose,
and itchy eyes.
the world needs
ill people
to soften the hearts
of those
not so.

your flat world

your world is flat.
no exploration
is needed. no ships
need to set
sail under
your flag.
you are safe
with where you are.
in this language,
under this sun,
set
in your ways.
you don't care what
lies beyond the edge.
you have
no interest in
what they do, or
say. this is enough,
this flat world,
it's where you want
to stay.

the mentor

her halo,
has slipped and fallen
to the ground.
you pick
it up and ask her,
is this yours.
she says, it used
to be.
but not anymore.
I'm tired
of being good,
exhausted by living
the me
that they think I
am.
I want to be more
like you,
carefree and selfish,
full of sin.
happy with where
i'm going,
where i've been,
teach me how,
show me
where to begin.

the stopped watch


when love stops
you pocket heartache
easily.
slipping it
into a vest pocket
like a watch
that no longer ticks
time.
you carry it all
day, feeling the weight
of it
against your own
heart. when people
stop to ask you
how your love is
you take the watch out,
cupping it in
your hand
and smile, saying
she's fine.
just fine.

on your knees

these empty
rooms,
bare walls.
cold blue,
and soft greys match
the wintry
feeling you have
sunk into.
you get dressed
and leave.
you walk,
hands in your
pockets.
finally
the trees have
exhaled themselves
of leaves.
a silvery
stream runs
along
the woods where
you walk.
you want to be
left alone,
which is fine
for now,
internally
on your knees.

trust me

you don't trust
online
banking, or ordering
products
on the phone,
you aren't even
fond of valet
parking,
or giving
the house key
to your neighbor
when you go on
vacation,
in case something
goes horribly
wrong.
you are not a
trusting person
by nature,
having learned
the hard way
since the day
you were born.






















the hallmark card

as a child
your Christmas list
used to be long.
a pop gun,
a jack in
the box. a horse
on springs
to ride,
a hat,
some boots,
a ball,
a fort of toy
soldiers,
candy and gum.
simple things,
that made your eyes
light up
like lights
on the tree.
easy at that age
to be made
content,
happy.
now the list
is just
one thing,
nothing that can
be bought
in a store, just
you being here
with me.

the ping

no one is left
alone
for too long.
it's all
about the phone.
everything
and everyone
keeps prodding
you to look
and look
to see what
the ping is all
about.
the buzz.
the vibration
in your coat
hanging on
your belt.
you miss silence
and yet it's
hard to
turn it off.

last resorts

the top
shelf has all
the things you'll
never use.
cans of rice
and chicken,
strange stews.
boxes of dried
goods.
powdered this
and that.
pasta in open
boxes
stale beyond
repair.
it's the end
of the world
food,
last resorts
when
the snow is deep,
the floods
rise,
or the earth
opens to swallow
us whole.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

come soon

come soon.
fly in. fly east.
fly south.
use the stars
the moon.
spread your wings
and float
down
to where I am.
come soon.
the weather
outside is cold,
but no worries,
don't be concerned,
a fire
burns bright
inside my heart,
come soon.

she's sick of love

she's sick of
love.
she's tired of
the aches,
the pains
the rattle of her
rib cage
when the heart
breaks.
there is no
prescription,
not even rest
or sleep,
or time.
the doctor has
no cure
for this in his
black bag.
she's sick of
love.
and for you
and your plans,
it's bad timing.
it's too bad.

your cold heart

your silence
is deafening. the way
you move
through
your day
without a word
to say
or write, or
send across
some electronic
device.
you're empty,
a barrel
without an echo,
I can't even
hear your cold
heart beating
when you get like
this, not a
breath will
fog the mirror.

mother nature

there is a part of you
who likes
to shovel snow.
even now, at this age.
the challenge
of clearing a path
and the car,
the filled road
makes you happy.
you like the bright
sun against
the white of drifts.
the sweat inside
your coat and clothes.
the dig and lift
of your arms, your
back, your boots
gripping, then sliding
on the cold ground.
it's a primitive
thing, defeating nature.
making it submit to
your will.
yes. you are victorious.
now you can go out
for coffee instead
of making it
yourself.

not about you

she's crying.
so you ask her why.
this is a mistake.
this makes her
cry even harder.
tissue? you say,
grabbing
the emergency box
from the closet.
she shakes her
head no.
wiping her
eyes with the sleeve
of her sweater.
leave me alone,
she says,
sobbing
in her tearful voice.
did I do something,
you ask,
bending over
to touch her shoulder.
can we talk about
this. no. what do
you care anyway?
okay, okay. you
say, backing away.
I'm going out for
milk and bread,
which makes her yell
out, two per cent,
and pick up
some detergent,
but not the scented
kind, oh
and don't buy any
more cat food.
which makes her start
crying again.
okay, you say,
relieved this is
not about you,
but fluffy who has
escaped
once again.

the squirrels know

you stick a toe
out the door
to test the weather.
you don't
need any Doppler
radar
or barometer
or wind
chimes even
to tell you what's
up.
your toe is
your indicator
of hot or cold.
rain or snow.
that and the squirrels
across the
street in their
hats and gloves,
red Christmas
vests, holding small
shovels.
they seem to
have a clue,
they seem to know.

ground love

sometimes you
are razor sharp in your
perception
of people's feelings
and emotions.
you can sense
the rise, or drag
of the balloon
of love.
but with her it
was different.
she never floated more
than a foot off
the ground,
she could climb in
or climb out
at will,
as you often did
as well.
it was not a soaring
love,
a love meant
for the stars, no,
it was earth bound.
barely above
the grind of
the world, just
slightly above
the ground.

raising the dead

you bring
the dead alive
in dreams.
you put flesh back
on their bones.
eyes where
they need to be.
you hang a hat
on their head,
stuff them
into overcoats
and shoes,
you make them
whole again.
you cry for them
and they
seem sympathetic
to your plight,
your settled sorrow,
having to miss
those you've loved
and doing this
night after
night after night.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

lost and found

nothing is
truly lost.
not the watch,
or ring,
or keys.
everything is
somewhere
waiting to be
found.
same goes
for you
and for me.

in the mud

the mud
wants your shoe.
how it sticks
and pulls,
your foot nearly
slipping
from the boot
as you lift
and tug
your weight forward.
there is always
something
or someone trying
to hold you
back, it seems,
though it was
you who stepped there
to begin with.

the cure

they can
build you a new
leg.
save you from
disease.
plug in
a new heart,
you can hear birds
in the trees
with your
fresh ears,
or even
see for the first
time
the woman you
hold dear,
but these miracles
pale greatly
to the cure
for evil
that lives in
a man's mind.

one minute clinic

next to you
in the waiting room
is a man
the color
of beets. he's moaning
while he prays
with his rosary beads.
to the left
of him is
a woman
wearing a surgical
mask
and tapping
her swollen
hand
against her seat.
behind you
is a small boy
cover in pox,
he's sweating,
breathing heavily
in his father's lap.
across from you
an old woman is curled
up in a fetus
position
by the water fountain.
her eyes are
red and she may
have wet herself.
finally a nurse
comes into the room
and calls out your name,
followed by
hayfever?
which gets everyone
to stare and point
at you,
and laugh.

Friday, December 5, 2014

i'm italian

sorry, she says,
after slapping
you hard across the face.
I tend to talk with my hands.
you rub your cheek
where her hand has
struck solid, leaving
a red sting.
then she punches
you in the stomach,
with a curled
left hook,
knocking the breath
out of you.
you didn't even see
it coming.
oopsie, she says,
doing the ali shuffle
in her stiletto heels.
she peppers you with
series of jabs
and right crosses
before you go down.
so sorry. there I go again.
by the way,
I'm Italian
did I tell you that?
you have to watch
what you say to me.
i sort of figured as much,
you mumble, rolling
on your side
to protect your ribs
and take an eight count.

afterwards

she thinks
about food. about
cream
and sauces,
bread
and wine.
the menu
for the evening.
what dishes
to use,
what silverware
and
flowers to set
down,
while you ponder
her legs
her arms, the curve
of her as she
moves about,
anxious for
the moment when
the guests
have filed out.

aligments

the world
doesn't always align
to your
way of thinking.
your design,
your measurements
come up short
sometimes,
in love or friends.
your planets orbit
out of sync.
an inch here,
an inch there is
just enough wrong
to make
a conversation
spin awkwardly
like a carnival ride
you're about
to fall off.

a lesson

the faucet
drips and drips.
it's a small
bell against the chrome
drain.
it never stops
ringing.
you could change
a washer,
call a plumber,
tighten
the knobs,
but you like
how persistent it
is, wanting
to come out
and fill the basin.
it's dripping
for you.
letting you know
it's there
when needed.
a lesson perhaps
for me
but more for
you.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

dead or alive

you can waste
a day
without even trying.
get up
late
and roll over
go back to bed,
look out the window.
make coffee.
read the paper,
it's lunch time.
why bother
going out, the day
is half
over,
hardly time to take
a shower and shave,
or clean
the oven, or
put the trash out.
and with this winter
light,
it's dark
by five, you haven't
even put
your shoes on
to check the mail.
does anyone even
know if you're dead
or alive,
apparently your neighbor
does, who shouts,
don't you work
anymore, must be
nice. I like
your pajamas.

the prism

there's more to it.
there
always is.
each story
a prism with nine
sides
nine points of view.
so hard
to know what is
or isn't true.
so easy
to cast a vote
guilty
or not guilty
depending on what
it means
to you.

what?

with all
the texting nonsense
that you do, you
think that maybe you could
have become
a doctor or scientist
or lawyer, if
hadn't wasted
so much time typing
lol, what up yo,
and u know gf
how much I truly
luv u.

the visitor from afar

like santa
on his sleigh
and his eight reindeer,
she visits once
a year.
clearing her
calendar for you,
and you alone,
bringing the gift
of love
and Christmas cheer,
well, let's call
it unbridled
affection for
the sake of those
innocent readers
reading here.

the unknown

at ten
what grief
lies within a child
to take his
own life.
a boy, just
partly grown.
what tragic
set of circumstances
has
set him
on his way
to toss and tie
a rope
over
the pipes to
hold his weight.
where has he learned
a noose.
was is play
or fear of his tomorrow,
or yesterday,
so few spent,
no answers gained,
just this,
how little we know
of a god
who lets us die,
or continue
to exist.

nostalgic

there are less
stoves
in the woods these
days.
not as many
olive
green refrigerators
with doors
half off their hinges,
or rust stained
bathtubs
sitting
there amongst
the leaves
and squirrels,
raccoons making
homes.
there is less junk
tossed down
the hill,
televisions with
rabbit ears,
paint cans and debris,
cars rolled on
flat tires
into
the streams.
less oil rainbows
in the pond.
things aren't what
the used
to be.

change it up

you need to write
a poem with longer lines
she tells you
from her car
phone, while grading
high school English
papers.
I'm tired of these
short little blips
of words.
strung out like
wet clothes on a line.
do some stanzas. go
look at frost
or Whitman, even
crazy Ginsberg
for god's sake.
change it up, you're
stuck in a poetic
mud with sameness.
step out of yourself
and be bold, be
different, don't
be afraid to change
it up.

domestic silence

she says let's make
it a non cut weekend.
no bloodied noses,
or bruises, no wrists
bent and tied,
burnt by being
strung against
the iron bed post.
no cops at the window,
no black eyes.
no harsh words, or
sighs. let's get
along for once
and have the night
end with smiles,
sweet kisses,
not cold silence,
or the slamming
of a door, cursing
as one of us leaves
the room to cry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

almost you

someone just like
you
passed by,
so I took a second
look,
then a longer
stare as she
crossed the street,
her hair was just like
yours, her
walk, the way
she moved.
I wanted to
follow her
and tell her that
I'm sorry
for the way things
turned out,
to suggest we
try again,
but it wasn't you,
so it saved
me from
going into rain,
getting wet,
and saying things
that an hour later
I know I would
regret.

rewriting

you beat
the poem into submission.
over and over
you tear it apart
and rebuild,
finally it
is unrecognizable.
you have
forgotten why
you even wrote it.
there is no flow.
no connecting dots
of thought.
no middle or
end, just a stew
of random
musings, lines
that have
become muddled and
lost.

i can save him

she says to herself
while lying in
bed, hands folded
against her body,
as if in prayer,
I can change him.
I can get out my
womanly bag of tools
and snip and mend,
turn screws.
take the emery
cloth and polish
out his uncouth ways.
take the edge off
his ragged corners.
I can fix the leaks
of his mouth,
turn ambivalence
into adoration
with a mere
stroke of paint
across my lips.
I can sweeten
the sour out of him.
I can save him
from the scrap heap
where the others
have been tossed away,
then call him
my own.

christmas miracle

you remember
asking your mother when
you were eleven
or twelve
if your father
was coming home for
Christmas.
maybe, she'd say.
we'll see.
but you knew
he was living with
his girlfriend
doris, the avon
lady, at the time,
raising a new
family in a new
house three hundred
miles away.
you were pretty sure
the odds
were against
him coming down
the chimney
any time soon.
but your mother
would still
put a glass milk out
and a plate of
cookies on the table,
his favorites,
just in case things
miraculously
changed.

bottom feeding

how much to paper
this room
the man says on the phone.
you can hear him
going through
his list of names,
writing on
a pad.
you tell
him, roughly,
what it would cost.
can you do it for
less he says.
I have bids
for less.
no, you tell him.
but, he says, it's
a small room.
only four walls,
a sink,
a door a window.
a shower.
hardly any walls
at all.
can you do it cheaper.
the others say
they can do it
for so much less.
no, you tell
him.
okay, he says.
i'll call you back.
which he never does.