Saturday, October 31, 2015

the unliving

the unliving
are among us, you see
them everywhere,
young and old,
zombie like
in deep concentration
staring
into their phones,
mindlessly
walking,
crossing streets,
neither talking,
or observing,
but hypnotized by
the light
and words that scroll
across their
hand held screens.
they see nothing beyond
their hands.
trapped inside
a world
beyond this one,
staggering thoughtlessly
through
a strange and distant
land.

the online date

I had a date last night, she tells
me on the phone. i'm apparently
her mentor now.
he was nice, okay looking,
no spark.
no chemistry, but he bought
me dinner
and drinks,
we even had dessert
and an after dinner drink.
I remember the advice you gave
me before I went
out and ran to the bathroom
when the check
came. as soon as the waiter
started for our table with the bill
I got up and scurried away.
of course he paid, he was
too embarrassed
not to. being a man, and all.
but then he tried
to kiss me
in the parking lot,
can you believe that? he
grabbed my shoulders
and pulled me in.
it scared me so, like you told me to,
I used my key to jab him in the eye,
then pepper sprayed
him. thanks for
giving me that for Christmas.
he yelled at me and called
me a name.
well, a lot of names.
names I can't even repeat,
but one of them rhymes
with stitch,
and no one calls me that,
so I kicked him really hard,
you know, right there,
with my high heel.
he fell over after that,
and lay in the parking lot.
I felt bad, but he deserved it,
right? I zig zagged all the way
home in case he was trying
to follow me.
anyway. it was an okay date
up to that point.
i'm meeting a doctor
tomorrow night. but not a real
doctor. he has a phd in
medieval literature. he said
he wants me to wear a black dress.
is that weird? anyway,
I loved the salmon at that
restaurant, so I might meet
him there.

on hold

as you sit
at your desk on hold.
the music
of your youth
plays
on. squeezed clean
of vocals,
it's just strings now,
harmless with
soft drums.
a song you drank to,
danced to
flirted in the midnight
hour to
is now muzak
pumped into your ear
from
the dmv.
it makes you sad.
makes you want to cry.
makes
you want to hang up
and find
the vinyl record and play
it, but you don't
because if you did
you'd have to start
all over again,
and wait once more
on hold.

Friday, October 30, 2015

the produce stand

the produce
stand on the side of route
four
is a bent shack, a
tin roof, rusted,
held up by new wood.
the stairs creak
as you go up to take
a look
inside.
the cherry cheeked
woman
behind a slab
counter says hey.
wiping her nose against
her grey sweater.
the steel scale swings
in the open door breeze.
there are
jellies and jams
mostly. apple butter.
no fish no meats.
corn
and tomatoes
in baskets already
priced.
a barrel of apples.
a patch
of pumpkins cut
fresh from vines,
the lot is dotted orange.
across the road, out the window
the fields
are barren.
wind swept and yellow
with turned
earth and frost.
it's cold inside.
it's colder outside.
you linger at the window
and stare out.




some people

some people you miss
when they're gone.
while others,
just fade
and disappear.
some are in the coffee
you drink.
in the water
that cascades
down as you shower.
some are in
the car you drive
to work.
with you as you lie
in bed
trying to fall asleep.
some people never
leave,
while others
you can barely remember
their names,
holding no fond
memory, or grief.

flying away

you see the children
in the air.
flying away.
almost grown now,
their small hands gripping
balloon strings as
they sail
into the blue, towards
their own lives.
below their parents
watch in wonder,
uncertain about what to
do. confused by their absence.
these children,
no longer needing
or wanting too much
of the love
you gave them, at least
for now, until they
need to come
down.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

by chance

by chance
you see her on the street
in passing.
you almost
stop and speak, but
don't.
why bother
to do something
you wouldn't even
do when
together.
speechless in what
she deemed
as love. silence
being
her way of showing
nothing.
showing
everything.
leaving you in perpetual
wonder.
you keep walking.

the rising leaves

the swirl of leaves,
a tumble
of orange
and yellow rising
on the playground
empty
and cold
beside the brick school,
the light now less,
everyone is home,
or going
there. how kind
the world
is
to have the children
young.
to have the parents
at the stove,
at the table,
near enough to hold.

the peach walls

it was obvious
to anyone with eyes
that they were a couple,
in love, still,
the years no longer years,
but a swift blend
of time gone by,
with no markings left
to show where or when
things
started or might come
to an end.
he stroked a soft
grey mouse of a
moustache lying above his
lips, once black
as oil you imagined, and her taller
now than him.
had it always been this way?
his marine
hard body, now soft,
and frail, as age will do,
as injury and disease
will conquer all
that we view.
and she, in command,
holding out a scarf,
peach color,
no longer a reluctant
chief,
but kind and compassionate,
letting him
have his say, letting his
confused words
be spoken
before her decisions
were made. we want to go
with this color
she said.
and that was it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

chicken pot pie

it's an attractive
book
with an attractive man
smiling
on the front. he has
a phd in psychology.
blue and white.
a soft covered book.
easy
to read, light.
it hasn't found its way
onto the dog pile stack
at the front of the book store.
it's a book you
can pick up and put
down with regularity.
perhaps underlining
in yellow
passages that appeal
to you. such as.
imagine that you
have more money.
imagine that you have
met the love of
your life.
imagine that all your
wishes and dreams
have come true.
you like that.
the simplicity of just
thinking your self good.
hypnotizing yourself into making
your crummy world into
the way you've always
wanted it to be.
but then the smoke alarm
goes off
and you realize that while
you've been engrossed
in reading about how to be
a better person
your chicken pot pie has
caught fire in
the stove.

her old shoes

her shoe
unglued, the small nails
bitten
flat
by walking,
the top a scuffed brown
no longer
holding polish.
the toe
flapped.
my favorite shoes,
she said,
as you looked down
at the noise
they were making.
we might need
to stop for more tape
or glue.
I've had these
for years
and just can't give
them up.
they're so comfortable,
not unlike
me being
with you.


i'll get the next time

he was
infamous for being frugal,
never having
money,
no wallet or credit card,
always depending
on others
for a cup of coffee a drink,
a sandwich.
it got old
very fast, but there was
nothing anyone could
do. he had money.
plenty of money,
but he'd rather spend yours.
than his.
let me take you out for your
birthday, he'd say.
bring a date.
it's on me. then you'd hear
oops, as he reached
into his pocket
or coat
when the check came.
can you get this?
i'll get the next time,
promise,
but there was never
a next time.

leaving home

I slip
out in the early
in the morning before
the sun rises.
shirt and pants on.
shoes
tied
tight. hat, and phone
in hand.
keys.
I give the dog a pat
on the head
as he looks up
at me.
I take one last look
around
knowing i'll never be
back.
then go.
leaving no note, no
explanation.
this is how I go to work
each day.
then come home.
the dog, not amused,
shaking
his head
as he drops his leash
at my feet.

the best teachers

the hardest
and best teachers
are the ones you remember most.
the strict
ones. the demanding
unrelenting,
without compromise
professors.
they held you to the fire.
beat you
around the head and
shoulders
with their quizzes
and tests,
assignments
and reprimands.
how they wagged their fingers,
how their glasses fogged.
you wondered if they
had ever been
kissed or made love,
ever had any kind of joy
in their grey
dull lives.
it was always strange
and surreal
to see them years later
at a store
buying milk
and you going down another
aisle
to not get yelled at
once more.

the first true love

there was always
his car
on cinder blocks
in the grassy driveway.
a rotted
tarp
no longer stretched
but hanging
like a scarf
upon the canary hood.
the wheels were off
and stacked to the side,
rust could be seen on the panels.
he was always
waiting on
a part or two, or to have
the time to get it back
on the road again.
strangers
would sometimes stop
and ask
if it was for sale,
to which he'd smile,
and say.
no way, I could never
let my baby go.
it's my first car,
he'd say.
my first true love.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

thin lizzie

she made herself
skinny.
the school yard
name still ringing in her ears.
she made herself
bone thin, ribs showing.
angular
to the point of hips
being sharp
objects.
her eyes got bigger.
her hands and
feet became fins.
when she wasn't eating
she was
running. running. running.
or looking
into a mirror
to figure out how
to lose more,
to thin the bones,
to remove
that excess skin.
to disappear
and still be here.

smoke rings

she used
to hide her cigarettes
in the house,
Virginia slims,
perhaps a borrowed Lucky
Strike,
or two. you'd
find them in cracks
along the floor board,
tucked
away in cabinets.
under the bed.
over a door jamb.
even now
you find them, ten
years later.
crisp white sticks
of tobacco that she
was forbidden
to smoke, but did
anyway.
they didn't kill her
something else
did.
you imagine her smiling
now,
as you light one
up
and blow smoke rings
to the sky.

four out of five docotors


your doctor
is the one who doesn't agree.
four out of five
do,
but not your doctor.
he thinks
differently. he
believes that red meat
is good for you.
the more burnt the better.
whole
milk, eggs.
anything processed
is on his list as okay.
at the top of his food
pyramid
is a chocolate glazed
donut.
and below that is a bag
of potato chips,
but with sea salt,
not that awful
iodized salt.
there is a fresh bowl
of pork rinds
in his office and a cooler
full of cola.
he's the one, the one for
me. the one who
disagrees with the other
four.

blue chip nancy

you have a pleasant
conversation with nancy,
the telemarketer
who calls early
in the morning asking
you about
your investments. you try
to change
the subject.
asking about her health
and children, if she has any,
did she get a nice
vacation this year.
she's very polite and happy
that you haven't slammed
the phone down in her ear
like so many others
who are called at seven
in the morning.
but you like the sound of her
voice.
you imagine how beautiful
she must be.
how soothing the words
are that fall out of her mouth.
the way she says
blue chip and four o one k.
tell me about your portfolio
she asks you
and waits.
tell me about yours, you
say, with a wink in your voice.
she is so patient with me.
laughing.
she could be my soul mate.

seeing the light

I remember coming home
from work
one afternoon
and seeing the boxes stacked
in the living room
full of books.
my books. the books i'd be
buying since I was
a teenager.
hundreds of books.
Chekov and Hemmingway,
Plath and Bukowski.
Frost and Salinger.
what's going on I asked my
new wife.
i'm giving them away, these books,
they're old and dusty, plus
you've already read
them. they're taking up
room on the shelves.
maybe other people would like
to read them.
I need space for my knick
knacks and tea cups.
at that moment
a small light went on in my
head.
a light that would become
painfully
brighter and brighter.

the snake

the snake
in your shed coiled
pink
and brown
on the shelf that you
thought was
rope
did not like being
touched
or poked.
but what did you know.
why would you
possibly think
that a snake would
slither
up the wood
and find a damp
dark
corner with which
to call home.
how it rose and hissed,
ready to strike,
you falling back
and out. letting out a yell.
the neighbor
on the other side of
the fence,
peering over, then
coming into your yard
with a sharp hoe
and rake
to take care of business.
she was without
mercy.
taking of the head,
then flinging it's
lifeless body into the woods.

Monday, October 26, 2015

the message

I found your message.
the one
you wrote and placed in a bottle,
then threw it out
to sea.
it ended up
in my blue recycling bin.
I pulled
the note out. it was a typical
note
that one folds and curls,
stuffing it into
a bottle.
it talked about love
and rescue,
missing one another.
it sounded desperate
and sad.
I hate notes like that.
you know that
and yet, i'm on my way.
I see
where you've marked an
x on the map
you drew on the back.
i'll find you, don't leave,
not yet.

the violence of men

there are violent women
but most
of the violence
of the world comes
at the hands of men.
angry men. religious men.
strong or weak.
blame it on their fathers.
their loveless
mothers.
blame it on
the lack of education or
money.
blame it on a thousand
things.
it doesn't matter.
in the hands of men,
there is always war
and crime
somewhere. men
wanting what they don't have,
trying to erase
those who don't believe
what they do.

less of everything

the daylight
decreases.
there is less of
everything.
less
time, less leaves
on the trees.
less
warmth in the air.
less
sleep, less money.
less
talking.
less making love,
less
listening. there is less
touching
one another.
less embracing,
kissing.
thee is less of everything
these days.
less of me,
less of you.

unfriended

you lose a face book friend.
the number
has gone down.
it's embarrassing to be rejected
like this,
but you can't figure out who
it is.
who has unfriended
you.
this bothers you
for almost a minute.
where has this person gone.
maybe you should have
written
more to them.
asked them how things were.
if it's cold
where they live?
posted more photos
of something, anything.
maybe you should have
liked that funny
cat video
where it's chasing
a bird. but you didn't.
perhaps they posted that
video and you
ignored it.
it's time to start liking
things, perhaps.
we are nothing without
our friends.


early morning meeting

you get the memo.
meeting at nine a.m.
you wrote it to yourself.
but can't remember
why.
it's a board meeting.
all the principals
will be there.
which means you.
only you.
you set out a plate,
a pitcher of water,
coffee. donuts.
you prop the white
board up at the end
of your kitchen table,
against the toaster.
you have a red and black
marker
at the ready.
you hate meetings,
they seem to be a waste
of time,
but it's been so long
since you had a talk
with yourself.
you'll keep it short.
you tap the table
and stand,
good morning you say
to no one,
then begin.


the curtain opens

everyone is singing today.
each to his
or her own
part in this Monday
morning
musical.
some are dancing,
throwing their
arms into the air,
swinging their briefcases,
twirling
purses,
their feet
tapping
and moving in rhythm
to the band.
hands are slapping,
knees
bending, the lights
are up,
the energy is high.
it's a synchronized chorus
of joyous
delirium. confetti
falls from the sky.
the audience
is on their feet,
applauding, but you aren't
ready.
you need coffee.
who are these people?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

is it cold where you are?

her long distance
love
affair
was dwindling.
the messages were no longer
sweet nothings,
expressions of affection,
but updates
on the weather.
or questions like,
did you see the game last night.
she wanted
to hear
I miss you. I need you.
I want you.
she wanted to hear longing
in his voice.
it's raining, he'd say.
we've had so much
rain lately. is it cold
where you are?

playing cards

we played long games
of rummy
as it rained. the cottage
grey white
beyond the sand
beyond the sea oats
and shrubs, high
enough on the dunes
to see the ocean.
we played
as it rained, nothing
else to do.
the trip to the store
done.
breakfast.
making love, then more
coffee.
we played cards.
her keeping score
on a long pad.
a radio on
in the kitchen, we
sighed
as the day went on,
a long day,
the last time we were
together
at the beach, both feeling
that we
were alone.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

adam and eve

I wonder about adam
and eve.
did they fight and argue,
being together
so much.
did she say to him
are you going to wear those
leaves again.
you wear the same plants
everyday.
did he pout,
brood silently
and leave. go to his nook
outside the garden,
just recently called
a cave?

tell me if you've heard this one

your father
at the bank
where we've waited
for hours, shivers in his
thin blue shirt.
buttoned down,
short sleeved. his khaki
slacks,
darkened where he could
no longer
hold the coffee he'd
been drinking
all morning.
nothing is said. the papers
are signed.
you tell him how much
he is loved
and admired.
then you drive him home
where he changes
in the back room,
showers then comes back
out and says,
tell me if you've heard
this one.

ten a.m. eggs

the breakfast order
is wrong in the busy
roadside diner,
a steel shell made
to look like how diners
used look before now.
but it's okay.
you say nothing
to Pam,
your waitress in a yellow
dress.
white apron,
her hair pulled back
by a strand of pink ribbon.
you are in a say nothing mood.
over easy
is now scrambled.
sausage in lieu
of bacon, but
i'll let it pass.
who cares.
tea
instead of coffee,
whole wheat
instead of rye.
no juice.
it's early though.
who doesn't
make a mistake
or two
at this hour of the day.
why it's almost
ten a.m. . i'm as guilty
as she is,
or you.

leaving port

the ships are more lovely
leaving
than they are arriving into
port. with anchors up,
the white sails tall
and full
as they blow and pull
the vessel
away from land,
finding the deep center
of the river
which leads
out into the open arms
of the bay.
I watch them as they depart,
at the colored flags
fluttering.
the sailors at work
in bright white
coats and stiff hats,
their muscled arms
working the ropes,
becoming memories
to the loved ones left
behind in tears.

go out

go out.
why stay in on a Saturday.
maybe the old guys have
gathered up
at the basketball
court
filled to the brim
with ibuprofen
and heating pads
stuck to their knees
and thighs.
surely
there are clothes
you need to buy.
and the big screen
television
store
has a sale on.
there must be one room
in your house that
doesn't have a tv
in it yet.
what are you working for
if not
to spend money.
and what a perfect day
to do it in.
cloudy and cold, not unlike
your ex wife.
kidding kidding.
please.
what about a cake?
maybe some kosher beef
stew chunks
from trader joe's.
a bag of potatoes,
red onion.
carrots. a sweet potato
pie. go out.
don't be such a loser
and stay in
on the couch.

stay in

it's a wet day.
a damp cold day of grey
skies.
and sagging
leaves.
cloaked in colors
that
have lost their glow.
patches of orange
browns and yellow.
it's almost cheerful
in a depressing sort of way.
a day
to stay in
and eat a heavy meal,
crack
a book of poems
open, stretch out on the couch,
think about
going someplace
but don't.

the resume

you hand the man
your resume.
he reads it. taking all
of twenty seconds
and says, that's it?
that's all you've got?
it says here you like to
take afternoon naps.
we work until six here everyday.
there's no time for naps.
you put your arm out
and say, feel that.
I've been working, at real jobs,
not sitting at a desk
shuffling papers all my
life.
we don't have paper
anymore, sir, he says.
I don't know if we can
use a man like you who
has no experience in anything
that I can see.
what about those boxes,
you tell him.
is there anyone here who
can lift them
and put them on that top
shelf?
he looks over his shoulder,
and says no, not really.
we contract that out.
well, i'm here.
I can do that for you.
I see. I see.
well. i'll have to pass
this resume on to my bosses
and we will give you
a call
when we have more boxes.
but before you leave, would
you mind putting them up there?
shove them to the left
if you could. top shelf.

the low bark of high heeled girls

the puppy girl,
bright and smart, with more
degrees
than a thermometer
wants to tell you
all she knows
about life and politics,
but the thimble
you hold that she tries
to fill
never over flows.
you want to tell her about
tear gas.
about levitating
the pentagon,
about long hair, and
music,
love and peace,
as pretend as it all was,
poverty and pollution.
but she can't keep still
as she barks,
her tail wagging furiously,
her ears and eyes
filled with the shallow
reflections
of herself and those
inside her phone.

Friday, October 23, 2015

the yellow bird

the bright yellow bird
looks out of place
in these grey woods,
darting about with the lowly
sparrow,
the nervous fidget
of cardinals
and blackbirds
slow to move, greased
dark, asleep
on any wire.
but these yellow
birds, exotic in color,
puffs of
feathery confection.
quick winged
and barely still long
enough for you
to fathom
holding one in your
hand for even a second.
and yet you are attracted
to such beauty,
as most
men are.

a small bruise

it's a small bruise.
blue
black. a faded yellow.
a reminder
of something
or someone.
but it's small,
hardly
any pain, a bang
against
an arm or leg.
a door,
a corner, a punch
from a fist
curled and struck
against me.
it's a small bruise,
though,
blue,
black, a faded yellow.
i'll get over it.
will you?

dinner at eight

i'm slicing up some cold cuts
right now,
she tells me
on the phone, do you like yellow
or white
American cheese. get down cats.
sorry, some of my cats were on the counter
pawing at the meat.
is French's mustard okay?
and I only have saltine
crackers, no bread, hope that's okay.
i'm watching my gluten intake.
my metabolism is out of wack these
days. my doctor says that it's mostly
water weight, but I may need my
meds adjusted.
i haven't gone to the bathroom
in weeks. well, anyhoo,
bring an appetite,
oh and i have pickles too.
do you prefer sweet gherkins,
or dill, I may have
some butter dills
in there as well.
and what would you like to drink?
I have water. I have pabst
blue ribbon
beer and tequila that someone
gave me a few years ago
when they went to mexico,
or was it new mexico.
I have a box of wine
on the balcony where we can sit
and eat, talk. get to know one
another. oh and
for dessert, I have Halloween
candy. I figured you might
have a sweet tooth, just
a hunch. your choice.
almond joys, or reese's peanut
butter cups.
the small fun size of course,
like me. lol.

three leaves

I was worried about the man
with the leaf blower.
all day outside
pushing leaves off the sidewalks
into the street
and up
to where the large truck
with a vacuum tube
sucked in
the debris of leaves
and branches.
I could see that the poor
man,
in his do rag and ear phones
and purple
company sweatshirt
only had nine more gallons
of gasoline left,
and yet there were three
leaves that wouldn't
budge,
stuck wet to the pavement
I watched him at the window
as he turned
the blower up high, then
higher
standing over the three
leaves.
the other men waved
him back, but he refused
he was determined to blow
these remaining leaves
into the truck.
finally, at dusk,
as the motor was dying on
his machine, the leaves
dried and became free
and he blew them
to where the men
applauded and cheered,
it was a successful day.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

how are you?

how are you,
the barista chirps happily
to the old
man
struggling
to get change out for his
coffee.
what, he says.
leaning his body towards
the counter
so that his good ear
is closer. what did you
say,
I said, how are you today?
what, are you a doctor.
i'm old, he says.
that's how I am today.
and don't give me
that stale coffee.
is it a fresh pot?
I only want a fresh cup.
yesterday I got a bad
cup.
I don't like that.

but i gave them everything

some children
won't leave, won't work
won't listen.
yet they were so
pliable and sweet
when very young.
you gave them everything.
all their wishes,
fulfilling each daily
need
and desire,
dropping everything
to please and comfort them.
stay home, you told them.
no need to go
to school today.
be with me.
the world was theirs
to hold
in their
tiny hands. and now
they lock the door
to their room.
they grunt and moan on cue.
they are gone, but they
are here, unmoved
anymore
by your strangling
love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

some distant moon

she uses a hammer
of words
to try and make me see
the light.
vote the way
she wants me to vote.
she points and wags
her finger at me.
poking me in the chest.
your beliefs
are no longer valid
in this world.
she says.
my candidate is smart
smarter than the rest.
you have to vote for her.
you have no
other choice.
don't be a fool with your
vote.
it's a right, a privilege.
don't waste it
on the wrong person.
this goes on and on
throughout the night.
i listen, i smile,
i nod. i drink.
i order
another drink.
at some point i leave
my body
and float high above
the din of the table.
i swim around the room,
light as feather.
unattached,
not listening
but flying flying
towards some distant moon.

a dozen red roses

they knew me,
the florists down the street
from my one bedroom
apartment
on Brinkley road.
they knew my name,
the name
of the hurt party
that I was intending
to make
amends with by buying
a dozen roses
with babys breath
and a heartfelt
angst written note
always ending with
the words. I love you.
they could see the weariness
in me,
with my one credit
card, my weakened state,
unable to eat. my darkened eyes.
the last notch of my
belt holding up my jeans.
did they take pity
and sit me down and say give
up on this girl, no.
they never did.
they arranged the flowers.
they wrote the note.
they delivered them
then waited
for the next time.

the slow carousel

it's not like you
to brood
to ponder too long
in a stare
of blue.
to unwant the things
you always want.
it's unlike you to sleep
in,
to stay in.
to not answer when
the phone rings.
to find no joy in the taste
of food
or a planted kiss
upon your lips.
the news bores you.
politicians
annoy you. the books and movies
seem stale
and uninviting.
the world is a slow
moving carousel
that you want
to get off. not forever,
just for a short while.
nothing drastic
like moving to Alaska,
settling
into a nice
round house of ice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the hard road

you see his rap
sheet online.
the twenty eight county crimes,
the city
list is a mere seven.
out of state, who knows.
drinking
and women seem to be involved
in most of the charges.
cars.
hit and runs.
one malicious wounding.
stolen property
and a hate crime thrown
in for fun.
it's a long list.
years
of misdemeanors
felonies, adventures
on the outside.
you want to think that he's
lost his way, but no.
at fifty five, he's found
his way
and is sticking to
that hard gravel road.

monday morning

the rattle
of the snake before it strikes
is fierce.
the coiled muscle
of his twined
knit body
ready to snap and bite,
the fangs exposed
wet
with venom,
staring at your leg,
and this is just
in the morning, before coffee
as you sit
at your desk
taking the first call
from an angry client.

he lied

her heart is broken.
he wasn't who she thought he was.
this knight
on a white horse.
this hero
with a sword gleaming
in moonlight.
hardly.
he creaked with rust,
with
false word, limped
with an old man's heart.
she put all her eggs
into
that soft
wet basket of hope
and out they fell.
the whites,
the runny
yolks.

the artists

she says
i'm a hair artist.
an artiste, if you may,
not a hair
dresser
or cutter, or stylist.
but an artist.
I make house calls.
I understand, I tell her.
I too am
an artist.
each day
I cover a wall
in paint.
leaving the detail up
to your own
imagination.
the ceilings are white.
the walls
linen.
the doors and trim
shine
with gloss.
close your eyes and imagine
why lies
beneath.

shadows and light

the world is full
of shadows
and light.
what's true, what's
a lie,
what's in between
changes
from day to day,
hour to hour.
you can't figure it out.
best to keep
going and not dwell
too long on
any of it.
tomorrow things will
be different,
or they won't.

Monday, October 19, 2015

happiness

i remember my son
telling me about the house
down the street,
across the tracks,
the mini mansion
with a fountain out front,
how wonderful
it was there, how they
had a pool
and pinball machines.
video games.
cold sodas
on ice. sandwiches on trays
brought out by a housekeeper
who spoke French.
there was
a leather couch with a tv
as large
as a wall.
it sounded wonderful
the way
he painted the picture
of this paradise.
maybe you could go live
there i told him.
maybe they have room
for you.
they could adopt you.
we could still stay in touch,
if you'd like,
or maybe i could spray
you with the hose
in the back yard and later
we could play catch.
but you decide.
i don't want to stand
in the way of your
happiness.

both ends

I can see mailman
with a dog
attached to his grey
pant leg,
he's dragging it along,
it's a small
dog, his teeth
are sharp
and won't let go.
the mailman pulls it
along his route,
the dog's eyes,
bug out
brown and watery.
he's unsure what to do
now.
his weary snarl growing weaker,
getting what he wanted
finally.
now what?
i understand both,
the dog
and the mailman
as the pile of junk mail
hits the floor
falling through the slot.
I've been on
both ends
of the bite.

turning the heat on

how nice
it is to have heat.
the turn
of the dial
sending a wave of warm
air through
the vents
defrosting my toes
and nose,
my arms and legs.
how nice
to hear the click
of the furnace go on,
the gentle roar
of the fire
as it burns
and blows.
how nice to be home,
to stay inside
and be done
with the world
out there, the life
we lead,
the cold.

maintenance

I am going to get my hair
colored
later today,
she tells you
via text. maybe red,
or auburn, for the fall,
what do you think?
I can't believe the grey
that has over
taken my roots. I hate
getting old.
i'm way behind
and late on botox too,
i'm so wrinkled.
I need a book marker to find
my mouth,
not to mention
my lipo appointment,
I was a little
bad last week on desserts
and fried
food. I need a peddy
and a manny as well.
right now I'm heading to
the tanning booth,
then to the gym,
maybe later we can get
together. I need someone
to hold my ankles
when I do my crunches.
and what about you?
what are you doing to stay
young?
haven't thought about it
too much, I tell her.
I guess I should though.
just feeling kind of lazy
lately.
maybe i'll just buy
bigger clothes
and stay home.

a change of color

the cold air
seeps through the open
window.
cranked just slightly
with a gap
that allows
the swift breeze
to swim in.
you see the thin
cake of first frost
on the hoods
of cars.
now the leaves will
change.
they have no choice,
likes us
who have no
choice in so many things.

the memory of food

despite not knowing what day
or month it is
my mother
has never lost her appetite
for food
and drink.
the divining rod
of hunger
leads her to the table.
her dish gets filled
and you place
a fork into her
hand after helping her
into a sturdy chair.
you give her a napkin,
placing it on her lap
then move the plate
closer to where
her arms, and long
veined hands can reach.
perhaps the memory of food
is serving her
well, keeping here
for another year.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

these old men

the old men
at the park, gathered
in clusters
of grey
and white sit on
the benches,
some with books
they brought to read,
pages earmarked
with photographs,
others leaning on
canes, pointing
towards something in the distance.
the sun is low, almost
under the skyline, but
the pristine blue
of the sky
is harsh
through the winter trees.
painted too blue
perhaps. sparkling
too bright for these men
who remember
everything so differently.

the bell ringer

the man in front of the grocery
store
has returned with his
bell.
his black pot
secured and swinging on
a tripod
of metal poles.
he greets everyone with have
a nice
day.
his right hand rings
a loud bell
hour upon hour. he has a wool
hat on
with the flaps pulled down
to cover his ears, a dark blue
pea coat is buttoned
up to his plaid scarf.
he paces in place,
as if doing a dance
and waiting for instructions
as to what to do next
with his booted
feet.
it's fifty degrees out. you
look into his eyes to
try and determine if he might
be touched, as they used to say,
a little crazy.
but you see no sign of that.
he seems happy, standing there
year after year, ringing
his bell
and saying have a nice day.

the other hand

give me your hand,
the gypsy tells me
after she pulls my American
express card
through the machine on her
table. it sits next
to a crystal ball
and a boiling cauldron
of bat's wings.
relax. stretch out your arm.
just relax, my dear.
open your palm.
yes. she says. yes.
it's all very clear.
she takes a sip of her starbucks
latte. wiping her mouth
with a black cat
that was sitting on her lap.
I see it now.
that line is a line
of longevity,
but those other lines,
those deep
crevices that cross your life line,
those mean trouble.
what do you mean by trouble,
I ask her.
each small line is someone
you've loved
or will love
and they will cause you great
pain and grief
until the day
you die, which is a long
ways off.
oh. I say. shaking my
head.
what about the other hand?
any better?

sunday afternoon

who could be knocking at my door
at this hour.
the sun already down,
me, half asleep
in the sweet comfort of
an afternoon nap.
what manner of man
or woman,
keeps banging their fist
against the door.
persistent and hard.
are they selling wood.
magazines,
or cookies.
do they want money for the poor,
the blind,
the incontinent.
is it a fireman with boot
holding the dark
hollow out
for change? or a neighbor
perhaps,
desperate for a bowl of sugar.
you don't ask for much
from the world,
but being left alone
on a cold sunday afternoon
is one of them.

a line of black birds

a line
of black birds
sit
with tightened wings
on the wire.
imperious
winged
creatures,
staring in
the same direction.
wind
hardly ruffling
their dark knit feathers.
neither omen,
or portents
do they hold. no measure
of doom
can you discern,
but still it rattles
you,
to see them.
so still, so aligned
in defiance
of this world, of light.
waiting with strange
patience
when to leave,
to take flight.

distant relatives

relatives
are hard to get along with.
not all,
but some.
the brother. distant and aloof,
paranoid
under his blanket of money.
one day it's here,
the next day
he's on your couch seeking
a place to stay.
the sister
with her tea parties,
and small cakes
on Russian
plates, the tea served
in delicate
cups
with horses
and chateaus, a trellis
of grapes. smiling
while her sharp
knife draws blood into
those
who couldn't make it,
or may be arriving late.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

picking pumpkins

they study
the pumpkins. white sweaters
around
their waists.
him in a creased plaid shirt,
her in a cream
pair of slacks.
a starch white blouse.
his hair is dark with flecks
of silver.
hers is blonde and hangs
straight on her shoulders.
the door of their SUV
is open.
you see a crate
of wine on the tan leather seats.
a dog sitting properly
at attention.
long haired
and red,
well bred, perhaps
even well read.
the couple, discuss
the pumpkins
picking up each,
holding the orange globes
up to the fading light,
setting them down. they take
pictures of them with their phones.
asking the owner, who
comes out from
under a porch with a cane,
and a pipe
curling smoke into the air
to ask where and when
these pumpkins were
picked.
and the gourds, them
too. how much?
is your apple cider sweet
is it hard? will you carve
the pumpkins for us
if we give you
the diagrams? we need them
by Friday.
do you take an American
express card.

the baby factory

she works in the hospital,
in the baby mill
where the babies keep coming
day in day out.
they are stacked up
in the hallway
like cords of pink and dark
wood.
they are all crying,
or sleeping,
being fed. some in trays of blankets
being held
together by string
and tape.
there's no stopping these
babies, she says.
filling out the forms
with new names. boy or girl.
they keep coming.
keep taking up the space
that we leave behind.
twelve today, and more coming,
she says
wiping her brow, and smiling.

the ice trays

I crack another tray
of ice
out into the ice box holder.
just one tray.
the other three trays
stay inside, those
small water rocks
can wait their turn, though
it never comes.
only the top tray
gets used and refilled.
why. I don't know.
it's just the way it is
with these trays, stacked
onto to one another.
it's not a metaphor
of life
by any stretch.
it's just ice.

the love affair

they cross paths
two strangers
meeting for the first
time.
knowing nothing about one
another,
but that one has
the seat next to the other.
the train begins to move.
the passengers settle in.
they say hello and smile.
they fall madly in love
with one another
in the silence
of the quiet car.
only the wheels below
them rattle.
the steel rails singing
that train song.
in the hours that pass
they live their
lives together.
get married, raise children.
make love
under a glorious moon.
they grow old and sit
for hours in the park
holding hands watching
young lovers walk by,
remembering when they too
were young.
when they met on that train
so long ago
as strangers.
when the trains slows to a stop,
arriving
where it needs to arrive.
they rise and say goodbye.
this love affair
now over.

Friday, October 16, 2015

soccer mom

she dribbles the ball
from left foot to right,
surprising you with
her dexterity. just
try and take it from me she says.
so you reach down
and pick the ball up. nooo
you can't use your hands.
that's cheating.
I get a free kick now.
why can't you use your hands,
I ask.
what kind of game is that.
she shakes her head and laughs.
go stand by the goal. i'm going to
kick it into the net.
you be the goalie and try
to stop me.
what do I get if I do. I ask
her.
a kiss. i'll give you a kiss.
okay. we're on.
she moves the ball slowly towards
me as I get in my stance,
arms out, legs spread wide.
then she swings her leg,
striking the ball with the inside
of her foot. in a soft slow arc
it lands gently in my arms.
she comes over and kisses me.
I think I like this game,
I tell her.
let's do it again.

taking the back roads

my father
grips the wheel
of his ancient chevy impala,
white knuckled,
squinting into the light.
is it green or red he says
speeding up.
rubbing his eyes as if to clear
salt water from them.
green, I tell him.
good he says. good.
that was a close one.
should we take the freeway home?
no. I tell him.
let's take the back roads
today.

dreaming

before he died
people whispered
and made note of the fact that
he was pale with a greyish pallor.
there was no
color in his face,
and he
gripped the rail, saying,
it's something I ate.
three days later he was dead.
days after his
new years eve party.
a week after his son was born.
a year after
his wedding and the purchase
of an enormous house
in the woods.
they found him at the bottom
of the stairs.
a cup of coffee spilled beside him.
he looked asleep
on the thick plush rug,
curled as if in a dream,
which it all may be anyway.

going to the well

you wring out the same
wet towel
each morning, dipping your
pen into a well
of dark ink.
you write another half poem,
half story
about a well
worn subject. but why not.
there are only
so many things to talk about.
love,
the end of love.
sex, death,
work. nature. getting old.
being young.
children.
pets. health and money,
or the lack thereof.
food.
coffee.
I guess houses too.
places you've lived in,
places you've yet to go.
what about a poem about the moon.
yeah.
a thousand of those, oh and
did I mention love
or the end of love.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

your doctor

your doctor. mister
web md.
is very kind and gentle.
he has an old school
bedside manner.
expansive in his answers.
easy to access.
makes house calls. he's
at the touch of your fingers.
there he is helping me with
the tingling in my foot.
the twitch in my
eye. my lungs wheezing.
my lack of desire for betty.
just about any
ailment that I have
is there for the fixing.
and if medications are needed,
no prescription
is necessary. you just go to India
or Canada,
or Turkey. they don't bother
with paper work, or notes
from a doctor.
takes six weeks, so if it's
not a fatal disease,
you're good.

we needed that rain

more rain is expected.
but you have an umbrella.
you have boots.
you have long pants.
a hat. you have windshield
wipers if you need to drive
some where.
you don't worry about rain too much.
but you always wonder
why so many people say
we need the rain.
maybe they're farmers and their
crops are dry.
but they live next door to you.
they don't even have
a tomato growing in their
back yard.
we needed that rain,
they say, nodding their heads
with knowledge
of the earth that somehow
has escaped you.
are they measuring it.
testing the soil.
making studies of the annual
rainfall? you don't know.
sometimes you'll ask them why.
why did we need so much rain,
which usually ends
the conversation as they raise
their hand to say goodbye.

on the side of the road

you need a vacation
she tells me as I sit
on the ground
changing a flat
tire.
the lug nuts
are hard to turn. the pavement
is cold
and wet. I can see
the short nail
imbedded in a groove
of the black rubber tread.
a vacation, I say to myself.
what would that be like.
who would I go with.
you need to get away, she says.
standing over
me, her shadow on top
of my hands as I jack
the car up higher
and pull the tire off.
you never take a vacation,
she says.
work work work.
she lights a cigarette
and puts one hand on her hip.
she's wearing a pencil
skirt and black heels.
I got to get out of here
too, she says.
look at us.
on the side of the road
changing a tire.
she leans against the car.
don't lean on the car,
I tell her.
which makes her sigh
and pace in the gravel.
how long is this going to take?
don't you have triple
A. who doesn't have
triple A?
what are we doing here?
I should be in Rome,
or Paris, anywhere but here.
i'm not the kind of person
who should be standing
on the side of the road
with a flat tire.
I think about all the things
I could say to her,
but I don't.
I change the tire, put the flat
in the trunk, then we
drive away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

carolina christmas

we rode the bikes.
mine without brakes, hers newer.
each with rust,
found leaning against
the wall in the beach house
garage.
we rolled on
that Christmas eve, before
dark.
along the coastal highway.
a paved
path, hardly a soul
around.
houses shuttered,
a string of lights above
a gas station, blinking.
the wind rose. the ocean lay
grey and wild
past the sand dunes.
we pedaled, her in front,
me dragging my feet at each
corner.
her cheeks were red. hair free
and black
in the wind.
the taste of salt on our tongues.
we pedaled on and on.
there seemed no end to this ride.
only stopping at a bookstore
about to close.
for coffee and warmth,
for a book
I have yet to read,
but sill keep close.

the dog

the dumb dog
is sweet, brown eyed
and loping
along, listening
with it's eyes,
pleasant in it's stupor.
so willing to obey
and please.
hardly a bark
to give,
a child's dog.
everyone's friend,
a big boned blonde
of warmth, curled
loyally at
your feet.

two lights

you read about Ted and Sylvia.
her affairs,
his.
him making love
to one of his many adoring
fans
while she died,
her head in an oven,
finally succeeding
to snuff the light
that burned
within her.
does it mean
their poetry is bad.
hardly.
they were just one of us,
but with golden
words to bare witness
to their pain.

keeping score

there is no score
that matters.
no points.
no tally of numbers
to prove
who has won
who has lost.
it's the pleasure
of the game.
the roar of the crowd.
the applause.
you lie like this
quite often,
trying to believe
what you don't believe.

forgiveness

you think the best of people
until they
prove you wrong.
then it's hard
to believe in them again.
but you do.
you've learned
this lesson well,
having forgiven yourself
over and over
on a daily basis.

getting ready

it's dark when you leave.
dark when you get home.
people are dressed
like eskimos, but it's
only fifty out
with a chance of rain.
scarves and hats,
even gloves are on.
we are already there
in our heads, in the thick
of it, a winter storm.
there's a man over there
with a snow shovel
looking up
at the sky. a woman
throwing salt down.

these pictures

these pictures.
these constant images clicked
on.
a face, a leg, an arm,
a plate
of food.
look there's a bird.
a dog.
a cow.
the full, the half, the quarter
moon.
and where are they now.
these pictures.
no paper.
no album, no box full of photos.
they're in your pocket,
on the screen.
nothing saved.
nothing gained.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

you have a visitor

you have a visitor
the guard tells you, rattling
his club
against your cell bars.
get up.
let's go, put your hands
behind you.
we need to cuff you.
you shuffle
down to the plexi-glass
window
with a small confessional
styled screen that
separates you
and your mother.
I made you a cake, she
says, but they won't
let me give it to you.
I saw a guard helping himself
to a slice.
they're checking it for
weapons and saws.
no sweat mom, you say.
it's cool.
are you going to visit
me when you get out, she
says.
yes. you tell her.
sunday. because i'm making
a pot roast on sunday.
will you be out by then?
maybe, we'll see.
you never visited me
before. your sisters, yes.
but you, no.
okay, okay, when I get out.
sunday. set a plate
for me.
I told you not to cut
off the those mattress
labels, but no, you don't listen.
and those parking tickets.
you should have paid
them.
you don't listen to your
mother. do you?
okay, okay. I have to go
now mom. we have to lift weights.
and get some more
tattoos.
tattoos, oh my. just break
my heart some more, would you.
gotta go now mom,
I have to go...there's a fight
in cell block C
that i'm invited to.
sunday, she says, pleading
as she bangs on the glass.
sunday. you promised.
sunday you tell her, then
shuffle back to your cell.

the boys and girls

the boys
and girls, jump roping,
playing
on the street,
singing,
and running like bees
without a hive
to settle in,
are wild with unbridled
energy
trying to beat
a setting sun, or a
mother calling them in.
you understand and applaud
with your heart, for
even us, now,
at this age,
we are trying to hold
back the night.

fading away

you wished,
despite how miserable
they would be, that
your parents would reunite
at some point.
put the guns
and knives away.
take the arrows out
their hands
and unstring the taut
bows about
to fire.
you wished they'd make
love.
and laugh again.
hold hands,
be friends once more,
raising their
children
together.
hanging lights on
Christmas trees. it would
have made life
easier for everyone,
especially now,
as they slip slowly away,
alone within
themselves.

sleeping together

all night she wiggles
beside you with
a slight snore,
her warm body curled
against your curl.
you can feel
her dream as she
trembles, then relaxes,
almost a smile
on her face, eyes
closed tight.
as deep in sleep
as sleep
can be.
if only she was this
sweet all the time,
not barking
and licking
your face
when the sun comes up,
pawing your chest
to go out.

Monday, October 12, 2015

a life for a life

the hot ropes
in the gallows
are still swinging, stretched
fast and tight,
the hinges of the trap door
creaks.
shoes shuffle,
hardly a soul
is breathing.
no one is happy
about the killing,
revenge being
neither sweet
or bitter sweet, but
cold
and without satisfaction.
it seems like
the right thing to do.
a life
for a life.
and yet somehow something
isn't right.
we'll dwell on it
until we too die.
at some point eating
our own last meal,
saying our own last words,
giving our own
confession
before falling
through and through
a door with no bottom
in sight.

abnormal

you were unhappy
traveling with the circus.
you had no high wire skills,
afraid of heights.
no ability to tame
a lion
or make an elephant rise
up and roar.
the fat lady
mocked you, tossing
half eaten chicken legs
at your feet
when you passed by.
the Siamese twins
whispered to each other,
giggling
when they saw you
looking at them, stuck
together as they were.
the elastic man made
faces
at you as he stretched
his arms and legs
into a pretzel.
the midgets would laugh
and throw
pebbles at you when your
back was turned.
they knew you didn't belong
on the road with
any of them.
in the big top.
you were a different kind
of freak.
too normal, with your
hair combed and teeth.

deer crossing

the deer is fast
bolting across the road.
as large as a horse.
grey with a massive rack
of antlers.
you have time
to hit the brakes,
but it's close.
you're glad you missed
it.
the bones and blood,
the dented car,
the broken windshield.
the life of you,
or it
eeking out into the cold
morning air.
you just got a fresh
cup of hot
coffee too,
it would have been a
bad way to start
the morning
for the both you.

the routine

she counts
the steps in.
touches the rail exactly
seven times.
turns on the same light.
puts the mail
in a perfect stack
in the same spot
where it always goes.
steps out of her clothes
and leaves them
in a pile. next to other
piles, pillars of clothes,
of books, of papers.
shoes go there.
no lights go on.
she waits until
five thirty
to put tea on.
she drinks her tea,
attaches the leash to her
dog,
and walks the circle
going counter clockwise.
she eats.
sitting in the same spot
where she always eats.
foot tapping
against the leg of
her chair.
soon it's time to sleep.
she brushes her hair,
brushes her teeth.
gargles, spits. flushes.
folds a towel
over the bar.
then crawls into bed
at exactly nine pm.
how I ever thought that there'd
be room and time
for the likes of me,
I have no idea.

a day off

you never
think about Columbus.
not even
on his day.
his cork like ships
bobbing
in the ocean.
the sailors
grim and tired
searching their
eyes
for any sort of land,
settling on
the west indies,
but today you do
think of him.
the mattress sales
are everywhere.
TV's, washers and dryers.
it's nice to have
a day off though,
no matter what the reason.
there should be
more holidays
that we don't really
care about.
no cards to buy,
no gifts to purchase.
no big meals to cook.
no greeting people
with happy
Columbus Day.



more salt

it needs more salt,
you say, leaning over the bubble
of sauce.
tell me what you think.
you hold the spoon
out for her to taste.
less, she says.
too much salt.
more pepper though,
and a shake
of all spice, or
oregano.
no, you say. I think it's
fine.
turning a light
sprinkle of salt into
the mix.
she shakes her head and says
okay, have it your way,
then goes into the other room
to read.
it's the beginning
of meals to come.

cold night

the ping of rain
on the slant
of metal
that covers
the shed roof.
it rattles throughout
the night.
the cold
front settling in
fat
and heavy.
it should be easy
to sleep,
but you don't,
things are on
your mind, your heart.
changes
must be made,
but you're unsure
where to start.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

sunday at the bay

the incline
is such that you lean into
the cool air.
eyes down.
a slight wind curling
around
your wrists.
you wipe your brow
at the top of hill
where you can see the bay,
the ships sway gently
on a deep blue pasture
of waves
the white sails
full
forcing the hulls
to move away from
shore, from side to side
between the arms
of sandy hills, but
going nowhere really.
it's sunday.
you won't go further
than this, not today.
it would remind you too
much of other days,
other sundays
when you lifted, with her,
the cupped shells,
white and brown
along the shore and held
them to your ears.

the new horse

the girl with the new horse
is happy.
she sits straight up
in the saddle,
her new boots on.
her helmet
snug around her chin.
she's high on the horse.
the fields
are wide.
the color of lions.
there is no yesterday
today.
there is this horse,
this field.
blue skies.

limping forward

everyone is limping
into
the future. slouched
victims
of something.
disease, divorce,
diminishing returns on
blue chip stocks,
asking for spare change,
directions to places
they don't even want
to go.
everyone is looking
into everyone else's
eyes
for compassion, a little
kindness.
something not for sale,
anything
you can't buy.
they want to tell you
how they got there,
how they got the limp,
look at my leg, they say.
just look at it
and cry with me,
but you only half
listen
as you lean against
the wall, your own leg
throbbing.
the less you tell me,
the more
i'll like you, is my
only reply.

Friday, October 9, 2015

mrs. barrett

in her bee bonnet
mrs. barrett
leaned between her rose bushes
and trimmed
out the weeds.
a web of black net covered
her thin face.
her leather gloves
once white
were dirt brown.
she sweated beneath the light
cone shaped
hat, but didn't mind.
she thought about the ice tea
in a pitcher
which waited in the old
ice box, its rounded shoulders
sweating
in the kitchen.
her knees sunk into cool
mud, still soft from last
nights rain.
she had no need to look
when a car approached,
rolling slowly
up her gravel driveway,
the cinders crunching beneath
the weight of the car.
she knew who it was
by the motors sound.
or the light tap of a horn.
two beeps were Martha,
three were joe.
but she knew
whether postal, or milk
or a child returning
with news about their lives,
all of which lay
beyond the long limbed
fence, broken in places
she'd eventually get to.

stop talking

you take a needle
and a spool of thread
and you begin the process
of sewing your mouth shut.
you've said
enough words for one life.
some good,
some bad.
you need a break from hearing
yourself speak.
a rest.
a verbal nap, if you will.
you'll get back
to speaking at some point.
but for now,
silence seems like a
wonderful way to go.
having no answers to give.
no replies, no offering
of opinions.
you'll almost, which is
hard to believe,
appear to be wise.

what are you doing

you call your friend ginger
to see what she's doing today.
nothing, she says.
i'm lying in my hammock in
the backyard, sipping on
a glass of ice tea,
reading about eighteenth
century furniture.
sounds like fun, you tell her,
clipping your nails
with a steel clipper
and staring out he window
at a cardinal
nervously flying from one
branch to another.
it's nice out, you say.
yes. it is, she says,
turning a page after
licking her thumb and finger.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

look, there's a farm

you have no
farm skills. you have
no agricultural knowledge,
no idea
what to do with a
cow or chicken.
you've only seen them
piecemeal
at the grocery store,
marked up or down
depending upon
the date they were
packaged and sealed.
your peas and carrots are in
frozen bags in the freezer.
you couldn't grow a beet
if your life depended on it.
but you like farms just
the same. it's nice to see
the farmers up on their tractors
with their straw hats on,
plowing, or something.
you like to ride by them
in your car, yelling
out the window to the horses.
hey horse. giddy up.
maybe give them a wave.
you like a red barn too,
a silo
gleaming as the sun rises.
you like the sound
of a rooster crowing,
and goats.
who doesn't like
the baying of goats.
or the sound of that metal triangle
thing on the front porch
when ma hits it with a spoon
calling everyone in for supper.
you like that noise.
it makes you wistful for
a simpler time.
a time you know nothing
about.

eco friendly

your new car
is green.
not in color, the color
is blue.
but it's eco friendly.
it runs on
vegetables,
carrots and potatoes
mostly,
diced and peeled,
but it's not out the question
to use turnips
as well as kale.
but the kale
has to be steamed
thoroughly or
the engine runs a little
rough going up hills.

warning label

internal bleeding
may result
in the use of the prescription
drug.
vomiting, blurred
vision or blindness.
an inability
to stand, or sleep,
or speak may occur.
loss of memory,
loss of appetite
and losing the will to live
is not unusual
when taking a daily
dose
of this medicine.
nose bleeds,
as well as itching,
open sores
and sexual malfunction
may also occur.
hallucinations are not
uncommon.
imagining you are
royalty,
such as the king
or queen of England
has been reported, but
only in a small
percentage of users.
most believe
that they can fly though,
so it's advisable
to handcuff yourself
to your bed
before taking a pill.
after two weeks,
if you are still alive,
your poison oak should
have disappeared, if not
please see
your physician for an
adjustment to your prescription.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

renewal

marooned
without food or drink.
nowhere to
charge your phone.
chained
to a government chair
slippery and hard
an orange peel
of plastic,
waiting
your turn for your
number to be called.
you feel older.
your beard
has grown, you are less
tall
than when you came in.
you fidget
and stare at the floor.
the room
is still. your leg has
fallen asleep.
something like a human
is behind the long counter.
you see her mouth
move, finally,
before you die, calling
out the number
to the ticket you tightly
hold.

she likes to drink alone

she likes to drink alone.
winter is best
when the leaves have
unclothed
the trees.
when the moon is ice.
when the soles
of her feet are cold
against
the floor.
she likes to drink alone.
her hand
curled around
the stem of a glass,
the light dim
in the window.
the sting and comfort
of it going down.
it helps ease the pain
of yesterday of
today, the slow crawl
of tomorrows
yet to come.
she likes to drink alone.
so you let her.

the ride by

the yard, what was a yard,
is brown.
a dust layer of dirt,
some weeds
survive. a rusted push mower
leans against a pile
of cinderblocks.
the thorny spine of a rose
bush bends
towards the low sun.
the chain link gate
is unlocked.
somewhere a dog is barking.
a siren
circles and circles.
the steps you once bounced
a ball against
for hours
is still there.
the sidewalk
leading to the curb,
the street, that hasn't
changed.
a kid's face in the window,
peering from
behind a thin sheet
is round and pale
as any moon could be.
a mother's hand
pulls him away and you see
her too.
her eyes say nothing.
say everything.
you leave, as you always
do.

her new shoes

do you like my
shoes, she asks you,
as she lifts her leg into
the air, slightly
bending her knee. she
shows you a pair of
red heels.
first the left foot,
then the right.
she turns around
in a small circle as
if on a pedestal.
they were on sale.
I bought a dress too,
should I put it on
and show you. no,
why bother,
who needs a dress
with those heels.

the moment has passed

you forget what you were
going to say, having
thought about it all day.
it was there, ready to be said,
but somehow slipped
away. you had the perfect
answer for her, for them,
for everyone,
but it's gone.
tonight, while lying
in bed, you'll remember
this gem of
insight, but what
good will it do you now.
the moment has passed.
you need to start writing
these things down.

works in progress

we are all works
in progress.
though not all are
Rembrandts
or Da Vinci's.
some are just tin
with string,
or spilled paint
along
the floor.
some are not Rodin's,
but mud
piles, sloshed
and formed together,
wishing
we were more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

the hot tub

the hot tub salesman
comes to your house to measure
your patio to see what fits
and nail down the sale.
is this hot tub for pleasure
or for work,
he asks.
mostly pleasure, you tell
him. but once in a while
I might bring my lap top
in to iron out some
work issues.
two people, four, or eight?
he stares at you,
waiting for an answer.
eight seems too many.
plus, I don't want to be
sitting in there and have
other people touching me,
unless it's someone i'm
romantically involved with.
okay, he says, making
a check on his clipboard.
do you want cup holders.
a stereo system?
both, you tell him. I want
the deluxe. cedar siding?
of course, with steps.
I like extra jets too
that will hit my body
at all angles.
he winks at me. gotcha, he says.
and of course you'll need
a nice canvas top to keep
it sealed and safe.
yes. okay. may I suggest
the turbo super deluxe
self cleaning, three
person, hot tub. we call it
the menage a trois.
that sounds sort of suggestive,
but I like it.
when can I have it installed?
just sign here, here
and here.
and give me your credit
card. you'll have it by
Christmas.

thin disguise

what are you going to be
for Halloween
someone asks you as they
try on their fake
fangs with dripping blood.
I don't know yet.
I reply.
everyday seems like
Halloween, the costumes,
everyone pretending
to be something that
they aren't.
maybe i'll be you and
you be me.
don't say that, you're
scaring me.
just pick a costume
and put it on.
here. try this. you'd
make a good zombie.

Monday, October 5, 2015

i'm in training

i feel embarrassed these days.
so many people are in training
for marathons half marathons
triatholons biatholons.
10 k s 20 k s 5 k s.
they're doing lunges
and working on their abs.
I saw my grandmother
swimming across the bay
the other day with
grease paint on her forehead.
number eighty-four smeared
above her salt encrusted
bloodshot eyes.
she wants to be the first woman
her age
to not drown during the race.
just last week
the road was closed off
for three hours as
the one k baby crawl took place.
the bloody knees were horrifying.
everyone is training. lifting,
biking running. taking their pulses
eating carbs and fiber.
staring at their watches
hoping for a better time.
everyone but me.
I am in training for nothing.
I take a nap everyday, that's it.
that's my strict regimen.
i have no t-shirts to
show off from the shamrock
or cherry blossom runs.
no medallions to hang around my neck.
no photos of me staggering
across the finish line. I have
no stickers to smooth proudly
onto the back of my car.
maybe I'm in training to sleep longer
at night.
I might enter a sleepathon.
my goal i tell everyone
is twelve hours like when I was
a teenager. getting up
at noon. I've already designed
the sticker. a pillow with
the number 12 on it.
I'm sorry I tell people now.
I can't meet you for lunch today,
I have to go home and take a nap.
I'm in training.

the same

a limp, an ache,
a blur
of sight or memory
takes place.
you think differently
about tomorrow,
dwell
sadly or fondly
upon the past.
your parents are shells
with no
answers. whispering,
when held to your ear.
they have
whitened like
bones on a beach.
you move forward though,
without them soon.
nothing has changed,
everything
has changed.
it's the same beach,
you are the same
person
you were when they were
young, when
you were young,
when they held your
hand
as you waded forward
into the first bright
wave.

the blue coat

it's early but you take
out your heavy coat
and lay it on the table.
it's dark blue.
you pick off some lint,
smoothing the crease
in a sleeve.
you try it on.
it still fits.
you walk around
and pretend to shiver.
buttoning it up,
turning up the collar.
you go to the window.
it's nice out.
sunny, warm.
there are bees in the bushes.
a cat
stretched out on the stoop.
the mailman wipes his brow
as he drops
junk mail through the slot.
he sees you in the window
and stares for a second
before moving on.
you take the coat off
and put it back
in the closet.
it's not time yet.
but soon.

not about you

she's angry
almost all the time
about something.
most things
there is little she
can do about it.
the light turning
red.
the weather,
snow falling.
the car not starting.
she curses
the clouds as they
swim in front
of the super moon,
unable to see it clearly.
the world,
and even the heavens,
she believes is
conspiring
to make her unhappy.
you can do nothing
to change
her point of view,
but listen
and shake your head
in sympathy, thinking
all along,
that everything is not
about you.

the pull

gravity
makes me happy.
being heavy
a foot
on the earth, not
worrying about
things floating away,
especially me,
or bouncing
up
to the roof, out
of reach.
we need gravity,
it's pull
keeping us grounded
tethered
to the lives
we've chosen
to lead.

loose knob

the loose knob
that falls
unscrewed from the cupboard
door
rolls
across the floor.
you chase it down,
find another
screw, longer
fatter to see if
that works.
it doesn't.
not all things work
again,
but it had a good
run of being pushed
and pulled
at my whim.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

chicken noodle

the sodium
is too high on this can
of soup.
but why not.
you've made
it this far eating
everything from
pork rinds
to chocolate strawberries,
to bacon and eggs
and ice cream,
what's a can
of chicken noodle soup
going to do to you
at this point.
plus it's cold and rainy
out.
if only there was some
white bread
and butter to go
with it.

the doorman

the doorman
who has been there forever
in his red suit,
is crying. someone has died.
the ambulance just left
with the siren off,
the lights swirling
softly in the rain.
someone
he knew.
but he knows everyone.
you wonder
if he'll cry
for you
when the time comes.
for Christmas this year
you'll get him
something nice,
maybe a silk scarf or
a pair of leather gloves
from
Madison avenue,
perhaps then.

when the rain stops

the basement
is leaking. a small dark
puddle
of rain
has seeped in from
the incessant downpour
of four days
and nights.
it's a growing shadow
of wetness
against the concrete.
there is nothing you can
do, but
let it come, let it roll
and puddle.
the rain will stop.
the sun
will come out.
the floor will dry.
your life will go on
until it doesn't anymore.
sleep on it. it's true.

love of your life

a clean break is good.
the band aid
ripped
off with a violent
twist and tug
from the heart.
sure, it will hurt,
you'll scream
a little,
some tears may actually
fall down
your pretty cheeks,
but you'll thank me in
the long run
and move on to the next
temporary
love of your life.

Friday, October 2, 2015

high wire

how different
is she from the wire walker,
balancing
on a tight rope
across
the abyss. alone
in mid air,
wobbled by wine,
holding on
to nothing but the pole
in her hand.
there is no difference,
both wanting
to reach the other
side
before falling.

umbrella day

an umbrella day,
chilled
grey. a wind strong
enough
to wet
my face as i
bend
towards
the corner, stepping
in and out
of puddles, lost
in thought,
thinking more of other
things, like you,
not this weather,
on this fall day.

seeking closure

you hear the word
closure
all day long, into the night.
everyone seeking
closure, whining about love gone wrong.
I use it all
the time too, but for more
than just a failed relationship,
this morning I had closure
on a pot roast I made
last week,
I couldn't look at it
any longer
and tossed it out.
it sat in a big dish
on a refrigerator shelf,
cold and mocking me
each time I opened the door,
a week of eating roast beef
was more than I could stand.
I had to move on.
I found closure, dropping
it into a large
green bag for the curb.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

waiting for the train

as you wait for the morning
train
in the rain.
the sky a sheet metal
landscape
full of low clouds
and despair,
you wonder
about tomorrow, and the next
day.
how easily you bought
into this.
with your rain coat
and hat,
your briefcase, your
dreams
a distant memory,
a light fading away.

what baby?

women love babies.
men
not so much.
a woman will stop a stroller
just to look
in and stare
at the round small face,
the eyes
searching
everywhere in this strange
new world.
can I hold your baby
women will ask,
how old is your baby?
is it your only child?
what his name, oh,
it's a girl?
men will stare at the mother,
admiring,
and wonder
how she got back
into shape so quickly.
what baby?

the police dog

the cop with the dog
is running,
going from yard to yard,
the dog is on
the trail
of something, or someone.
you can hear the crackle
of the cop's
radio as he sweats
and struggles to keep
up with the frantic dog,
he digs his long nose
into every corner,
bush and rock.
it doesn't seem
like a high crime area,
you think as you eat
your lunch
on the porch, turning your
head towards a warm sun.

medicine in a brown bottle

the medicine
in an old brown bottle
on the glass shelf
is half empty. it sits
next to the tooth paste,
between bars
of soap and deodorant.
where it came from,
who bought it or drank
it half full, I don't
know.
but it's there, with
my name on it. I think
it's my name.
maybe if I took a sip
i'd remember.
the date is faded.
the name is smudged.
maybe i'll take a sniff
then a swallow.
it can't hurt, why not.
it's medicine and I could
use a shot of something
to jump start the morning.

if only

if only you
had made a left turn
and not a right,
or gotten
up an hour earlier,
or wore
a blue shirt
instead of white.
if only
you'd have waited
and not called,
or not said what
you said,
maybe then things would
be different,
the world would be right.
but you doubt it.