Thursday, March 31, 2016

the cloud

this cloud
won't budge. hard to know why
exactly.
but all day
it lingers above
you. not swept
away by wind,
or emptied of rain.
just a cloud.
grey and white
darkening the sky.
some days are like that.
sometimes
a week will pass
before the sun comes
through.
all you can do is
wait.

the cloud

this cloud
won't budge. hard to know why
exactly.
but all day
it lingers above
you. not swept
away by wind,
or emptied of rain.
just a cloud.
grey and white
darkening the sky.
some days are like that.
sometimes
a week will pass
before the sun comes
through.
all you can do is
wait.

the apple

you have no guilt
with the apple
stolen from a tree.
it's just an apple.
a crisp bite
into its green thin hide,
the tart
pucker of its white.
you have no guilt
with the apple,
you might have two
in fact, one more
out of spite.

the apple

you have no guilt
with the apple
stolen from a tree.
it's just an apple.
a crisp bite
into its green thin hide,
the tart
pucker of its white.
you have no guilt
with the apple,
you might have two
in fact, one more
out of spite.

we swim

how much do you need.
how many numbers
on the balance sheet.
how many forks,
knives,
spoons, plates.
glasses to drink from
do you need
on the shelf.
another bed? how many
lovers will it take
to say enough.
a bigger room.
a yard that stretches.
maybe an oak
tree,
a willow.
a cherry blossom
in bloom.
how many cars do you need
in the garage,
more books, more clothes
more things.
the drowning of ourselves
goes on.
in too much
we swim.

we swim

how much do you need.
how many numbers
on the balance sheet.
how many forks,
knives,
spoons, plates.
glasses to drink from
do you need
on the shelf.
another bed? how many
lovers will it take
to say enough.
a bigger room.
a yard that stretches.
maybe an oak
tree,
a willow.
a cherry blossom
in bloom.
how many cars do you need
in the garage,
more books, more clothes
more things.
the drowning of ourselves
goes on.
in too much
we swim.

words

you say the wrong
thing
and it sticks to you.
thick gum
on your shoe
smacking
and pulling pink
against the hot street.
all day
you carry the fret of it.
you say the wrong
thing
and it can't be removed
easily.
no swallowing
of words.
no apology makes do.

words

you say the wrong
thing
and it sticks to you.
thick gum
on your shoe
smacking
and pulling pink
against the hot street.
all day
you carry the fret of it.
you say the wrong
thing
and it can't be removed
easily.
no swallowing
of words.
no apology makes do.

our own story

we have always lived
in fabled times.
we do now.
making our lives
more important
than they ever could be.
casting larger shadows
on what was small.
we edit lines, move
chairs and props
as we go along,
our play, our theater,
alive
with performance.
we smudge or wizen
the faces that we meet.
hear
the voices differently.
the arguments
have meaning. each love
won lost
was true.
we collect the evidence
in photos. in ticket
stubs,
soliloquies of remember
when this happened.
drink helps to rose color
the glass on all of it.
on our own fables being
told by us.

our own story

we have always lived
in fabled times.
we do now.
making our lives
more important
than they ever could be.
casting larger shadows
on what was small.
we edit lines, move
chairs and props
as we go along,
our play, our theater,
alive
with performance.
we smudge or wizen
the faces that we meet.
hear
the voices differently.
the arguments
have meaning. each love
won lost
was true.
we collect the evidence
in photos. in ticket
stubs,
soliloquies of remember
when this happened.
drink helps to rose color
the glass on all of it.
on our own fables being
told by us.

dancing in the light

the Pentecostal
meeting scared you.
the large circle of worshippers.
some speaking
in tongues,
some leaping forward
to make bold prophecies.
women with
burning blue eyes,
bibles held aloft,
aflame with the spirit.
people danced in the middle
as if in a trance.
it was in a hall,
a meeting room
at a college
you could never get into.
but here you were
joining hands
in dark loud prayer. afraid
of where this
might lead. afterwards
you wandered out questioning
everything you thought
you ever knew
about faith and God.
you went and had a beer,
sat with friends watching
women dancing in a different
light.

dancing in the light

the Pentecostal
meeting scared you.
the large circle of worshippers.
some speaking
in tongues,
some leaping forward
to make bold prophecies.
women with
burning blue eyes,
bibles held aloft,
aflame with the spirit.
people danced in the middle
as if in a trance.
it was in a hall,
a meeting room
at a college
you could never get into.
but here you were
joining hands
in dark loud prayer. afraid
of where this
might lead. afterwards
you wandered out questioning
everything you thought
you ever knew
about faith and God.
you went and had a beer,
sat with friends watching
women dancing in a different
light.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

unlike us

the dead
wake up in your dreams.
new
and refreshed
by distance.
they are removed from
pain,
from distress.
how easily they laugh
and love,
no longer
tethered to this earth
like us.

unlike us

the dead
wake up in your dreams.
new
and refreshed
by distance.
they are removed from
pain,
from distress.
how easily they laugh
and love,
no longer
tethered to this earth
like us.

the blue dress

you remember her
in a blue dress. waiting
for you.
the first time
you met.
nervous. hands folded
to keep
them still.
her rising
as you came near.
the gentle kiss on
a cheek.
hello.
how quickly the night
passed.
the words
tumbling. the wonder
of it all.
you remember her
in a blue dress.
waiting
for you and then
the rest.

the blue dress

you remember her
in a blue dress. waiting
for you.
the first time
you met.
nervous. hands folded
to keep
them still.
her rising
as you came near.
the gentle kiss on
a cheek.
hello.
how quickly the night
passed.
the words
tumbling. the wonder
of it all.
you remember her
in a blue dress.
waiting
for you and then
the rest.

the other side

it's the other side
we don't see.
the rails being laid.
the coal
pulled by hand
from mountains a million
years old.
it's
the farm worker, the paver
of roads.
the chimney sweep,
the roofer hammering
in the slant
of a summer sun.
it's the raking, the mowing.
the chopping of wood,
the men
with sacks
on their back, the women
on their knees
scrubbing.
frying.
lifting. arms deep
into ovens.
it's the other side
that we don't see,
don't want to see.
just leave it at that.

the other side

it's the other side
we don't see.
the rails being laid.
the coal
pulled by hand
from mountains a million
years old.
it's
the farm worker, the paver
of roads.
the chimney sweep,
the roofer hammering
in the slant
of a summer sun.
it's the raking, the mowing.
the chopping of wood,
the men
with sacks
on their back, the women
on their knees
scrubbing.
frying.
lifting. arms deep
into ovens.
it's the other side
that we don't see,
don't want to see.
just leave it at that.

you don't know for sure

it's hard to tell
which animal in the zoo
is crazy.
out of its mind while
locked behind bars,
they peel the bananas
so casually,
the look of love in their
brown eyes.
the zebra, unfazed
by a full moon,
lions just lying around,
pawing at a bone.
the seals
jumping for fish,
as if at play.
it's not unlike
riding the bus on
any afternoon.
who's gone and who isn't
is just too hard
to say.

you don't know for sure

it's hard to tell
which animal in the zoo
is crazy.
out of its mind while
locked behind bars,
they peel the bananas
so casually,
the look of love in their
brown eyes.
the zebra, unfazed
by a full moon,
lions just lying around,
pawing at a bone.
the seals
jumping for fish,
as if at play.
it's not unlike
riding the bus on
any afternoon.
who's gone and who isn't
is just too hard
to say.

white shoes

it's hard to keep
those white shoes clean.
having them shine
like new.
always
buffing out a mark
with a finger
lick,
a rub against
the back of a calf
on a pair
of gabardine pants.
white shoes
are a problem when
tying to be dapper
and distinct.
not to mention the belt
to match.

white shoes

it's hard to keep
those white shoes clean.
having them shine
like new.
always
buffing out a mark
with a finger
lick,
a rub against
the back of a calf
on a pair
of gabardine pants.
white shoes
are a problem when
tying to be dapper
and distinct.
not to mention the belt
to match.

save some for later

it's nice
to leave a small portion
for tomorrow
or tonight. a midnight
snack.
a surprise
for later when you've
forgotten
what you have. enjoying
the moment
when you see it tucked
away
in the corner,
taking it out,
grateful that you had.


save some for later

it's nice
to leave a small portion
for tomorrow
or tonight. a midnight
snack.
a surprise
for later when you've
forgotten
what you have. enjoying
the moment
when you see it tucked
away
in the corner,
taking it out,
grateful that you had.


what's fun

someone asks you
what you like to do for fun.
you have to think
for a minute
what that might be.
what brings you joy
and pleasure, what things
do you purposely
seek out to put a smile
on your face.
you don't like to hunt
or fish,
climb mountains.
you prefer not to leap
from a plane,
or run in races.
golf bores you, as does
most museums
after an hour or so.
the theater perhaps, or
listening to music,
not at a concert where everyone
knows the songs
and is singing.
for fun, it's a hard question
these days.
a nap is fun.
lying in the sun is fun.
conversation.
a good book.
kissing. making love is fun.
eating
can be fun too.

what's fun

someone asks you
what you like to do for fun.
you have to think
for a minute
what that might be.
what brings you joy
and pleasure, what things
do you purposely
seek out to put a smile
on your face.
you don't like to hunt
or fish,
climb mountains.
you prefer not to leap
from a plane,
or run in races.
golf bores you, as does
most museums
after an hour or so.
the theater perhaps, or
listening to music,
not at a concert where everyone
knows the songs
and is singing.
for fun, it's a hard question
these days.
a nap is fun.
lying in the sun is fun.
conversation.
a good book.
kissing. making love is fun.
eating
can be fun too.

the rules

the life guard
is insistent that you stay off
the rope
separating
the shallow from
the deep end.
stop running,
no diving
from the side.
no eating in the pool.
no alcohol or loud
music.
it's a poster
of rules
you can't wait
to break
for the rest
of your life, until
it's your child.
then the whistle
blows.

the rules

the life guard
is insistent that you stay off
the rope
separating
the shallow from
the deep end.
stop running,
no diving
from the side.
no eating in the pool.
no alcohol or loud
music.
it's a poster
of rules
you can't wait
to break
for the rest
of your life, until
it's your child.
then the whistle
blows.

in the pocket

it's nice
to find a dollar
in a coat
pocket. a stick of gum.
a box
of candy from
the theater. a program
folded.
torn tickets.
a note from you,
saying
see you soon.
love.
I miss you too.

in the pocket

it's nice
to find a dollar
in a coat
pocket. a stick of gum.
a box
of candy from
the theater. a program
folded.
torn tickets.
a note from you,
saying
see you soon.
love.
I miss you too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

the april wind

what is it with these men.
they know women.
sisters mothers,
aunts, lovers
and friends, wives.
why can't they avert
their eyes.
not look at a pair
legs,
a blouse opened,
parted lips,
an ear, an elbow,
a hand, the curves
strolling by.
no one is exempt.
the waitress pouring coffee.
the maid
smoothing out a bed.
the bartender
sliding a drink
across the bar.
what keeps them on alert,
heads turning
at the click of heels.
the men whistling
as they stand in a ditch
with a shovel,
not having a chance.
what keeps them looking
as an april wind
lifts long hair and skirts.
the old boys
in the park,
pointing with their canes
as a woman fifty years
younger runs by.
it never ends.

the april wind

what is it with these men.
they know women.
sisters mothers,
aunts, lovers
and friends, wives.
why can't they avert
their eyes.
not look at a pair
legs,
a blouse opened,
parted lips,
an ear, an elbow,
a hand, the curves
strolling by.
no one is exempt.
the waitress pouring coffee.
the maid
smoothing out a bed.
the bartender
sliding a drink
across the bar.
what keeps them on alert,
heads turning
at the click of heels.
the men whistling
as they stand in a ditch
with a shovel,
not having a chance.
what keeps them looking
as an april wind
lifts long hair and skirts.
the old boys
in the park,
pointing with their canes
as a woman fifty years
younger runs by.
it never ends.

high rise

there's a bad smell
in the building.
someone is cooking cabbage.
maybe a goat.
who's to know.
there's a blood stain
on the carpet in the lobby.
I can hear the rattling
of snakes down the hall.
someone's chanting
to their God, or Gods
a floor below.
on the roof
is a contingent of women
singing
church songs
practicing for sunday.
the man across the hall
is having an argument
with his
wife on the phone,
or maybe she's there,
but i haven't heard any
plates or dishes
thrown.
I have to get out
of this building.
but the elevator
doesn't work
anymore, and the loading
dock is
scheduled for two
months in advance.
fourteen floors below
I see the workers dragging
the pool for
possums, getting ready
for summer.

high rise

there's a bad smell
in the building.
someone is cooking cabbage.
maybe a goat.
who's to know.
there's a blood stain
on the carpet in the lobby.
I can hear the rattling
of snakes down the hall.
someone's chanting
to their God, or Gods
a floor below.
on the roof
is a contingent of women
singing
church songs
practicing for sunday.
the man across the hall
is having an argument
with his
wife on the phone,
or maybe she's there,
but i haven't heard any
plates or dishes
thrown.
I have to get out
of this building.
but the elevator
doesn't work
anymore, and the loading
dock is
scheduled for two
months in advance.
fourteen floors below
I see the workers dragging
the pool for
possums, getting ready
for summer.

hide your eyes

no use
watching the market.
studying
the ups and downs of all
your holdings.
no point in calling your
broker
to discuss what to sell
or buy.
it's best just to
wear blinders,
say a prayer,
hide your eyes and hope
that in a few years
you aren't in a box
behind the liquor store.

hide your eyes

no use
watching the market.
studying
the ups and downs of all
your holdings.
no point in calling your
broker
to discuss what to sell
or buy.
it's best just to
wear blinders,
say a prayer,
hide your eyes and hope
that in a few years
you aren't in a box
behind the liquor store.

new shoes

the blister on your heel
makes you regret
wearing the new shoes
when you knew
you had to walk so far.
it'll take a week to heal.
not nearly as bad
as a broken heart,
but still the pain
will linger.
it might be a while
before you wear those
shoes again.

new shoes

the blister on your heel
makes you regret
wearing the new shoes
when you knew
you had to walk so far.
it'll take a week to heal.
not nearly as bad
as a broken heart,
but still the pain
will linger.
it might be a while
before you wear those
shoes again.

Monday, March 28, 2016

naked to the world

it wasn't unusual
when staying in a hotel
for her to take her clothes off
and go stand
by a window.
she'd pull
the curtains back
and stretch her arms out
to the world
as if a new born.
what was there to say.
she was a grown woman,
who did what she wanted to do.
but there seemed to be
more to it
than you could even imagine.

naked to the world

it wasn't unusual
when staying in a hotel
for her to take her clothes off
and go stand
by a window.
she'd pull
the curtains back
and stretch her arms out
to the world
as if a new born.
what was there to say.
she was a grown woman,
who did what she wanted to do.
but there seemed to be
more to it
than you could even imagine.

bad blood

there is bad blood
between
the two of you.
it will stay this way
forever.
there is nothing that will
change what is
true,
or unsay the things
that have
been said.
it doesn't happen
overnight,
but years, more years,
until
you break. you break
and tell
the other person
what isn't right.
bad blood is not a good
thing
to have coursing
through your veins, but
what is there to do?

bad blood

there is bad blood
between
the two of you.
it will stay this way
forever.
there is nothing that will
change what is
true,
or unsay the things
that have
been said.
it doesn't happen
overnight,
but years, more years,
until
you break. you break
and tell
the other person
what isn't right.
bad blood is not a good
thing
to have coursing
through your veins, but
what is there to do?

the shop

business as usual,
the man turns the open sign
over, unlocks
the door.
goes behind the counter
and begins
his day.
his hands in dough,
salt
and sauce.
cutting what goes on.
in time
he carries the weight
of his
passing years,
a son comes
along, another.
their lives set too.
what else is there
to know.
each turning the sign over
to open.

the shop

business as usual,
the man turns the open sign
over, unlocks
the door.
goes behind the counter
and begins
his day.
his hands in dough,
salt
and sauce.
cutting what goes on.
in time
he carries the weight
of his
passing years,
a son comes
along, another.
their lives set too.
what else is there
to know.
each turning the sign over
to open.

the trick

there is the pull
of hook
and line
from shores unseen
that drags
you where they want
you to be.
it starts early
as the sun comes up.
the bait
is set.
how could you know
that the game
is rigged. that
life as you know it
is a trick.
a glimmer
of steel, a plastic
fly,
a worm, no less
that does you in.

the trick

there is the pull
of hook
and line
from shores unseen
that drags
you where they want
you to be.
it starts early
as the sun comes up.
the bait
is set.
how could you know
that the game
is rigged. that
life as you know it
is a trick.
a glimmer
of steel, a plastic
fly,
a worm, no less
that does you in.

unburdened

unburdened
by life, your mother's face
grows younger.
the furrows of her brow
lessened
with each short visit.
no husband
or child
to worry her. her mind
now soft
like the black soil
she once dug
in her garden.
roses are coming up.
daffodils
lilies. how green the grass
has become.
she smiles about something.
laughs,
then cries when
a true thought comes
forward, but it's
quickly
washed away in shadow.

unburdened

unburdened
by life, your mother's face
grows younger.
the furrows of her brow
lessened
with each short visit.
no husband
or child
to worry her. her mind
now soft
like the black soil
she once dug
in her garden.
roses are coming up.
daffodils
lilies. how green the grass
has become.
she smiles about something.
laughs,
then cries when
a true thought comes
forward, but it's
quickly
washed away in shadow.

the tickets

the line
at the machine is long.
white haired men,
blue haired women with
cash in hand.
one by one they stick
their bills
into the slots, push
the red buttons
with a prayer,
and fingers crossed,
four across, three across.
lucky shamrocks.
bells and whistles.
outside they stand,
huddled alone
in the wind
and scratch their stubs.
the grey chips
float away in the air.
forty dollars a day,
why not, they think.
one says loudly, bingo,
as the others
turn to walk away.

the tickets

the line
at the machine is long.
white haired men,
blue haired women with
cash in hand.
one by one they stick
their bills
into the slots, push
the red buttons
with a prayer,
and fingers crossed,
four across, three across.
lucky shamrocks.
bells and whistles.
outside they stand,
huddled alone
in the wind
and scratch their stubs.
the grey chips
float away in the air.
forty dollars a day,
why not, they think.
one says loudly, bingo,
as the others
turn to walk away.

I love him,
but he's crazy, she says,
showing me the bruise
on her wrist
where he grabbed her
too hard.
he gets angry
all the time
and throws things.
he can't keep a job.
he has no friends
and he treats me
horribly, but i'm so
in love with him.
I know that deep inside
he's a very sweet man.
what should I do.
he wants to marry me.
if I say yes,
I think I can change him
over time.
what do you think,
should I go for it?
I love him,
but he's crazy, she says,
showing me the bruise
on her wrist
where he grabbed her
too hard.
he gets angry
all the time
and throws things.
he can't keep a job.
he has no friends
and he treats me
horribly, but i'm so
in love with him.
I know that deep inside
he's a very sweet man.
what should I do.
he wants to marry me.
if I say yes,
I think I can change him
over time.
what do you think,
should I go for it?

five nights in cancun

despite four days of rain
you both made
the most of it.
eating.
staring out into the sea
from your hotel
window.
jiggling an antennae
on an old tv.
playing gin rummy.
making love.
making love.
making love.
then sleep.
the wind bent the trees
sideways.
so there was drinking involved.
dancing,
room service. talking about
our childhoods.
more drinking.
aspirin.
there was falling
asleep on the cold
tiled
floor of the bathroom.
tipping
the maid for all
that missed
its target. on
the fifth day the sun
came out. no one cared
anymore.


five nights in cancun

despite four days of rain
you both made
the most of it.
eating.
staring out into the sea
from your hotel
window.
jiggling an antennae
on an old tv.
playing gin rummy.
making love.
making love.
making love.
then sleep.
the wind bent the trees
sideways.
so there was drinking involved.
dancing,
room service. talking about
our childhoods.
more drinking.
aspirin.
there was falling
asleep on the cold
tiled
floor of the bathroom.
tipping
the maid for all
that missed
its target. on
the fifth day the sun
came out. no one cared
anymore.


open books

the open
book, left to the page
last touched
and turned to.
the words
left to be found later
in mid thought
or sentence.
we leave
friends like that
as well.
the open books
of our lives, easy
to read,
waiting for your return,
to be
found and enjoyed
once more.

open books

the open
book, left to the page
last touched
and turned to.
the words
left to be found later
in mid thought
or sentence.
we leave
friends like that
as well.
the open books
of our lives, easy
to read,
waiting for your return,
to be
found and enjoyed
once more.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

the light is on

the light goes
on
at a certain age.
the proverbial light.
the candle, the flame
of knowledge, call it
wisdom, even.
whether it's neon
or incandescent
laser or fluorescent
makes no difference.
it goes on
and shines brightly
before your eyes.
you realize that the future
is not what it
used to be.

the light is on

the light goes
on
at a certain age.
the proverbial light.
the candle, the flame
of knowledge, call it
wisdom, even.
whether it's neon
or incandescent
laser or fluorescent
makes no difference.
it goes on
and shines brightly
before your eyes.
you realize that the future
is not what it
used to be.

the unlearning

you unlearn the world
with age.
with each passing year
you see clearer
how muddied the water
really is. you
understand less
the mysteries you thought
were figured out.
by deaths end
you know
what there is to learn
about everything,
which is that you know
almost nothing,
but that.

the unlearning

you unlearn the world
with age.
with each passing year
you see clearer
how muddied the water
really is. you
understand less
the mysteries you thought
were figured out.
by deaths end
you know
what there is to learn
about everything,
which is that you know
almost nothing,
but that.

as they float away

you see small children,
almost grown
with their arms stretched
in the air,
tethered to balloons,
strings held
tightly in their fists.
they rise into the sky
against the blue.
caught in the winds that
always come.
they are becoming what
they will become.
floating softly
away with dreams of
their own.

as they float away

you see small children,
almost grown
with their arms stretched
in the air,
tethered to balloons,
strings held
tightly in their fists.
they rise into the sky
against the blue.
caught in the winds that
always come.
they are becoming what
they will become.
floating softly
away with dreams of
their own.

the ejection seat

i like to be spoiled
the queen bee tells me as
she brushes her
hair in the rear view mirror
turned by her hand
to accommodate the location
her face.
do you mind, i tell her.
i'm driving and really need
that mirror.
i think i have spinach
in my teeth she says. look.
do you see any. no.
i tell her, pushing the mirror
back into place.
where was i, she says.
oh yes. i like to be spoiled,
i like nice things, i like to
travel and stay in resorts.
are you able to do
these things with me?
i hope so, she says, smiling,
rummaging through her tiny
purse to find lipstick.
at this point i wish i had
a james bond car, the kind
with an ejection button
for the passenger seat,
but i don't. so i say yes.
who doesn't love caviar
and palm springs, paris,
i say. the baguettes are
wonderful over there. i'd die
just to sit in a café
right now and order sparkling
water.
i'm falling for you, she says.
let's go. let's go to paris,
just me and you. tonight.
it would be fun and spontaneous.
what about my cat? i tell
her. i'd have to make
arrangements for my cat.
how about next weekend?

the ejection seat

i like to be spoiled
the queen bee tells me as
she brushes her
hair in the rear view mirror
turned by her hand
to accommodate the location
her face.
do you mind, i tell her.
i'm driving and really need
that mirror.
i think i have spinach
in my teeth she says. look.
do you see any. no.
i tell her, pushing the mirror
back into place.
where was i, she says.
oh yes. i like to be spoiled,
i like nice things, i like to
travel and stay in resorts.
are you able to do
these things with me?
i hope so, she says, smiling,
rummaging through her tiny
purse to find lipstick.
at this point i wish i had
a james bond car, the kind
with an ejection button
for the passenger seat,
but i don't. so i say yes.
who doesn't love caviar
and palm springs, paris,
i say. the baguettes are
wonderful over there. i'd die
just to sit in a café
right now and order sparkling
water.
i'm falling for you, she says.
let's go. let's go to paris,
just me and you. tonight.
it would be fun and spontaneous.
what about my cat? i tell
her. i'd have to make
arrangements for my cat.
how about next weekend?

keep driving

she was an unregistered nurse
living in sin
on the other side of the tracks
with a man
twice her age, but there was
something kind about her that
appealed to me.
the way she walked on those legs
didn't hurt either.
she also worked the night shift
at the local diner,
pouring coffee, putting plates
of eggs and bacon on the table
for truckers and men who
couldn't sleep at night,
like me.
so what's your story, she said
one night, as the place emptied
and it was just me and her,
the cook in the kitchen
scrapping the grill
before closing. I've got no
story, I told her.
today is the first day of the
rest of my life.
having never said anything quite
that dumb, we both laughed
at the same time. don't leave
she said and walked away,
taking her apron off slowly
looking back, winking.
when she came back
she asked me for a ride home.
i need to count my tips
and refill the ketchup bottles,
she said,
then i'm ready.
I said okay. i'll be outside
in my car. the white chevy,
baby moons, dice hanging on
the rearview mirror.
really? she said, climbing into
my grey prius.
we didn't get very far,
the first red light,
when she reached over and kissed
me. putting her hand on my knee.
I could use a man like you in my life,
she said. someone who doesn't
talk too much. someone
I don't know anything about.
but i'm just passing
through, I told her and it would
only be one night. perfect she said.
I know a place.
keep driving.

keep driving

she was an unregistered nurse
living in sin
on the other side of the tracks
with a man
twice her age, but there was
something kind about her that
appealed to me.
the way she walked on those legs
didn't hurt either.
she also worked the night shift
at the local diner,
pouring coffee, putting plates
of eggs and bacon on the table
for truckers and men who
couldn't sleep at night,
like me.
so what's your story, she said
one night, as the place emptied
and it was just me and her,
the cook in the kitchen
scrapping the grill
before closing. I've got no
story, I told her.
today is the first day of the
rest of my life.
having never said anything quite
that dumb, we both laughed
at the same time. don't leave
she said and walked away,
taking her apron off slowly
looking back, winking.
when she came back
she asked me for a ride home.
i need to count my tips
and refill the ketchup bottles,
she said,
then i'm ready.
I said okay. i'll be outside
in my car. the white chevy,
baby moons, dice hanging on
the rearview mirror.
really? she said, climbing into
my grey prius.
we didn't get very far,
the first red light,
when she reached over and kissed
me. putting her hand on my knee.
I could use a man like you in my life,
she said. someone who doesn't
talk too much. someone
I don't know anything about.
but i'm just passing
through, I told her and it would
only be one night. perfect she said.
I know a place.
keep driving.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

equally yoked

you need to find
someone you are equally yoked
with, the pastor says to you
in a private consultation
in his chambers, which is the pantry
off the kitchen
of his church. outside is a sign
that reads in bright red letters,
open for prayer.
pancakes every morning at 7.
you say the words equally
yoked out loud.
he nods.
you think of cows, of cattle,
oxen. is there a difference
between them,
one is slow and dumb,
the other a little faster,
maybe smarter when it comes
to finding the best
grass to chew on.
yes, the pastor says, putting
his hand on your shoulder
in a gesture of comfort and
compassion. equally yoked,
he says again, think about it.
I have to go now. I have
pancakes to make.

equally yoked

you need to find
someone you are equally yoked
with, the pastor says to you
in a private consultation
in his chambers, which is the pantry
off the kitchen
of his church. outside is a sign
that reads in bright red letters,
open for prayer.
pancakes every morning at 7.
you say the words equally
yoked out loud.
he nods.
you think of cows, of cattle,
oxen. is there a difference
between them,
one is slow and dumb,
the other a little faster,
maybe smarter when it comes
to finding the best
grass to chew on.
yes, the pastor says, putting
his hand on your shoulder
in a gesture of comfort and
compassion. equally yoked,
he says again, think about it.
I have to go now. I have
pancakes to make.

art versus hunger

each of her easter eggs
is a gem.
small curved
versions of the Sistine
chapel.
the last supper,
the mona lisa
Raphael and Da Vinci
have nothing
on her.
you almost hate to crack
one open
against the sink,
but in your other
hand is salt.
and what is art
when
held up against hunger.

art versus hunger

each of her easter eggs
is a gem.
small curved
versions of the Sistine
chapel.
the last supper,
the mona lisa
Raphael and Da Vinci
have nothing
on her.
you almost hate to crack
one open
against the sink,
but in your other
hand is salt.
and what is art
when
held up against hunger.

i do

the noose,
the plank, the firing
squad.
it's not hard
to find
an equal comparison
to
standing at the altar
and saying,
I do.
the guillotine
comes to mind
as well, not to mention
a pool of quicksand.
it looked so easy going
in,
but now I'm sinking
slowly
with no way out.

i do

the noose,
the plank, the firing
squad.
it's not hard
to find
an equal comparison
to
standing at the altar
and saying,
I do.
the guillotine
comes to mind
as well, not to mention
a pool of quicksand.
it looked so easy going
in,
but now I'm sinking
slowly
with no way out.

needing help

the small boy
runs as fast as his narrow legs
will go
trying to get the kite
into the air.
he sees the other kites
up high.
red and yellow,
white tails waving against
the clouds.
he wants so hard
to get his there.
but the hill is high,
the wind
isn't right.
his arms too small to make
it rise.
he stops
finally and looks around
wondering where his
father is.

needing help

the small boy
runs as fast as his narrow legs
will go
trying to get the kite
into the air.
he sees the other kites
up high.
red and yellow,
white tails waving against
the clouds.
he wants so hard
to get his there.
but the hill is high,
the wind
isn't right.
his arms too small to make
it rise.
he stops
finally and looks around
wondering where his
father is.

the middle years

the middle
is a place to be.
the beginning
or end
much less preferred.
the middle is fat with
waiting.
with a sense
of this will
never end.
there is a lawn chair in
the middle. summer days.
children
and dogs.
a house, work.
the middle puts
you to sleep thinking
this is how it will be
forever.
no longer hungry
as in the beginning, not
yet full
of sweet melancholy
at the end.
the middle is a bed of roses.
a cut lawn,
a night of gathering
in front
of a t.v.

the middle years

the middle
is a place to be.
the beginning
or end
much less preferred.
the middle is fat with
waiting.
with a sense
of this will
never end.
there is a lawn chair in
the middle. summer days.
children
and dogs.
a house, work.
the middle puts
you to sleep thinking
this is how it will be
forever.
no longer hungry
as in the beginning, not
yet full
of sweet melancholy
at the end.
the middle is a bed of roses.
a cut lawn,
a night of gathering
in front
of a t.v.

the morning poem

she wakes up with a poem
in her mouth,
a small pebble of truth
that she must
quickly spit out.
she hurries out of bed
to get it down.
you hear her in the other
room at the keyboard,
typing.
clicking out the letters
to form the words,
the lines
that she will later
read to you
and at some point have
memorized. you will
tell her how wonderful
it is.
how talented and kind
she is with words.
then you'll make love,
both happy with
what's been done.

the morning poem

she wakes up with a poem
in her mouth,
a small pebble of truth
that she must
quickly spit out.
she hurries out of bed
to get it down.
you hear her in the other
room at the keyboard,
typing.
clicking out the letters
to form the words,
the lines
that she will later
read to you
and at some point have
memorized. you will
tell her how wonderful
it is.
how talented and kind
she is with words.
then you'll make love,
both happy with
what's been done.

throwing the bone

it was nothing
to throw a dog a bone
into the yard,
still greased from the pan,
warm,
almost clean of meat,
but enough to
send them flying.
all afternoon the dog,
or dogs
would work the bone,
chewing it down
to nearly nothing,
grinding with wild eyes,
sharp teeth.
remembering who they were
not
collared pets,
trained animals,
but still beasts.

throwing the bone

it was nothing
to throw a dog a bone
into the yard,
still greased from the pan,
warm,
almost clean of meat,
but enough to
send them flying.
all afternoon the dog,
or dogs
would work the bone,
chewing it down
to nearly nothing,
grinding with wild eyes,
sharp teeth.
remembering who they were
not
collared pets,
trained animals,
but still beasts.

not enough

you bring
everything you have
to the game,
but sometimes
it's not enough.
what isn't meant to be
wins out.
a younger person
would sulk
with this news
soaking in, try
harder to make it work,
but not you.
you understand
and turn
to go back down
the open road
again.

not enough

you bring
everything you have
to the game,
but sometimes
it's not enough.
what isn't meant to be
wins out.
a younger person
would sulk
with this news
soaking in, try
harder to make it work,
but not you.
you understand
and turn
to go back down
the open road
again.

Friday, March 25, 2016

jagged stars of light

when touching
the wet outlet with your
careless hand
the electricity
runs through your arm,
your heart, into
the other arm,
then settles into your mouth
with the dull
taste of metal chips.
the jagged
stars of unseen light,
rattles you, stings,
tells you things about
death and life,
you'd rather not know.

jagged stars of light

when touching
the wet outlet with your
careless hand
the electricity
runs through your arm,
your heart, into
the other arm,
then settles into your mouth
with the dull
taste of metal chips.
the jagged
stars of unseen light,
rattles you, stings,
tells you things about
death and life,
you'd rather not know.

buying happiness

they say
that money cannot buy
happiness,
but I tend to disagree,
just last week
I purchased
a long stick of wood,
with a claw hand.
on any given night,
I reach over and down
my back
to find the spot
I can't other wise reach,
and scratch
a persistent itch.
I am as close
to being in heaven
as I may ever get.

buying happiness

they say
that money cannot buy
happiness,
but I tend to disagree,
just last week
I purchased
a long stick of wood,
with a claw hand.
on any given night,
I reach over and down
my back
to find the spot
I can't other wise reach,
and scratch
a persistent itch.
I am as close
to being in heaven
as I may ever get.

that part done

from the top of the stairs
I could hear
the women talking, my wife's
friends, having an early
afternoon cheese and wine
party, after all it was Friday.
and me home from work early,
showering, resting finally
in bed, the door cracked open.
I listened as their voices
got louder, the pitch
higher, seagull against seagull
fighting for the same
spot of sand. how they skewered
their husbands, laughing as one
said she used an egg timer
to time their romantic interludes.
the others laughed, and talked
of the dirty clothes they would
wear, no make up,
how they would not shave their
legs, to keep their husbands
at bay. the migraines they would
have. meanwhile the children
played in the yard.
that part of love being done.

that part done

from the top of the stairs
I could hear
the women talking, my wife's
friends, having an early
afternoon cheese and wine
party, after all it was Friday.
and me home from work early,
showering, resting finally
in bed, the door cracked open.
I listened as their voices
got louder, the pitch
higher, seagull against seagull
fighting for the same
spot of sand. how they skewered
their husbands, laughing as one
said she used an egg timer
to time their romantic interludes.
the others laughed, and talked
of the dirty clothes they would
wear, no make up,
how they would not shave their
legs, to keep their husbands
at bay. the migraines they would
have. meanwhile the children
played in the yard.
that part of love being done.

we will become

it bewildered you,
as a young boy, tramping through
the woods,
no path, or road
beaten down to follow,
up the ridge,
where the trees thickened,
how did these things
get here.
the avocado stove,
the white
refrigerator,
a washing machine on
its side,
the rusted door swung
open with the remnants
of a nest, sticks of straw
inside. who made this effort
to bring
these things here, leaving
them?
you touched each one,
forcing the oven door open,
turned the knobs
on the lifeless range.
how strange life seems
when things are out of place,
abandoned, not unlike
the old
we will become.

we will become

it bewildered you,
as a young boy, tramping through
the woods,
no path, or road
beaten down to follow,
up the ridge,
where the trees thickened,
how did these things
get here.
the avocado stove,
the white
refrigerator,
a washing machine on
its side,
the rusted door swung
open with the remnants
of a nest, sticks of straw
inside. who made this effort
to bring
these things here, leaving
them?
you touched each one,
forcing the oven door open,
turned the knobs
on the lifeless range.
how strange life seems
when things are out of place,
abandoned, not unlike
the old
we will become.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

we are here to help you

when I get home from work
the living room
is full of friends and family,
a few strangers who look
familiar from the mall.
they are sitting in a circle,
smoking, drinking coffee.
some are on their phones,
others talk amongst themselves.
what's happening, I ask.
still in the hallway
looking in.
we love you, they all say as one.
we love you and want to
help you. I look around the room,
off to one side
is a pile of clothes.
then another pile.
a pyramid of pants and shirts,
shoes and socks. the kitchen overflows
with coats, some with the tags
still on them. things are hung
on all the doors,
new clothes, old clothes.
there is a trash can full
of receipts and labels,
the sticky size strips that
I've pulled off and left on the floors.
you have a problem, someone
says gently, easing me to the center
of the room where an empty chair waits.
we are here to help you with your problem.
someone else takes the large
bag from macy's out of my hand, then
the other one from kohl's,
and says, let's begin, who wants
to start us off?

we are here to help you

when I get home from work
the living room
is full of friends and family,
a few strangers who look
familiar from the mall.
they are sitting in a circle,
smoking, drinking coffee.
some are on their phones,
others talk amongst themselves.
what's happening, I ask.
still in the hallway
looking in.
we love you, they all say as one.
we love you and want to
help you. I look around the room,
off to one side
is a pile of clothes.
then another pile.
a pyramid of pants and shirts,
shoes and socks. the kitchen overflows
with coats, some with the tags
still on them. things are hung
on all the doors,
new clothes, old clothes.
there is a trash can full
of receipts and labels,
the sticky size strips that
I've pulled off and left on the floors.
you have a problem, someone
says gently, easing me to the center
of the room where an empty chair waits.
we are here to help you with your problem.
someone else takes the large
bag from macy's out of my hand, then
the other one from kohl's,
and says, let's begin, who wants
to start us off?

the first time

how fondly
you remember your first
credit card.
filling out the form.
your income of
four thousand dollars that
year
doing odd jobs,
shoveling snow,
mowing lawns.
washing dishes
in a local restaurant.
still living with your mom,
despite her
insistence that you move
on with your life
at sixteen.
how proud you were to make
your first charge
at Montgomery wards.
a sweater,
a belt.
a pair of white keds,
a multicolored head band.
you paid it all off in three
monthly payments
of eleven dollars.
you still have the card.
it's brittle now.
chewed at the edges from
overuse.
stained with dirt and grime
of decades gone by.
the store is long gone.
it was your first.
you always remember fondly,
your first.

the first time

how fondly
you remember your first
credit card.
filling out the form.
your income of
four thousand dollars that
year
doing odd jobs,
shoveling snow,
mowing lawns.
washing dishes
in a local restaurant.
still living with your mom,
despite her
insistence that you move
on with your life
at sixteen.
how proud you were to make
your first charge
at Montgomery wards.
a sweater,
a belt.
a pair of white keds,
a multicolored head band.
you paid it all off in three
monthly payments
of eleven dollars.
you still have the card.
it's brittle now.
chewed at the edges from
overuse.
stained with dirt and grime
of decades gone by.
the store is long gone.
it was your first.
you always remember fondly,
your first.

then what

to each his own
faith.
his own belief in what
is true
or not true,
what makes your
day brighter
or night less
dark
is up to you. it's
hard to imagine
that this
is all there is,
and if so,
then what?


then what

to each his own
faith.
his own belief in what
is true
or not true,
what makes your
day brighter
or night less
dark
is up to you. it's
hard to imagine
that this
is all there is,
and if so,
then what?


unlearned lessons

we'd like to believe
that books are apples.
each eaten
will bring us the good
luck of knowledge,
put us on a more civil
road.
that schools
and classes
will slay the beast
that lies within us.
we'd like to think that
teaching is the tool
to understanding,
towards peace.
how right and wrong
we are
so often.

unlearned lessons

we'd like to believe
that books are apples.
each eaten
will bring us the good
luck of knowledge,
put us on a more civil
road.
that schools
and classes
will slay the beast
that lies within us.
we'd like to think that
teaching is the tool
to understanding,
towards peace.
how right and wrong
we are
so often.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

you talking to me, no

I can't make my neighbors say hello
when I wave to them, greeting them with
words like hi, how are you
tonight. some weather we're having.
I think they might not like me
for some reason.
or maybe they're hard of hearing.
or from another part of the country
where being friendly and normal
are not permitted. they never respond.
whether we're all out shoveling snow,
or in the rain,
or it's a bright sunny day.
I get nothing in return.
sometimes his wife will run
into the house with her groceries
so that she doesn't have to suffer
the pain of my hellos.
it makes me sad. makes me go
into the house and stare into
the mirror trying to figure this
thing out.
they've only lived there two years
though, wall to wall, my yard
against their yard. so maybe things
will change. maybe not.

you talking to me, no

I can't make my neighbors say hello
when I wave to them, greeting them with
words like hi, how are you
tonight. some weather we're having.
I think they might not like me
for some reason.
or maybe they're hard of hearing.
or from another part of the country
where being friendly and normal
are not permitted. they never respond.
whether we're all out shoveling snow,
or in the rain,
or it's a bright sunny day.
I get nothing in return.
sometimes his wife will run
into the house with her groceries
so that she doesn't have to suffer
the pain of my hellos.
it makes me sad. makes me go
into the house and stare into
the mirror trying to figure this
thing out.
they've only lived there two years
though, wall to wall, my yard
against their yard. so maybe things
will change. maybe not.

better not to know

there's a part of you
that wants
to look into the window.
to peek
into a door,
listen to a conversation
that isn't yours.
there is a strange desire
to know what's
no business of your own.
to look under a bed,
peer into a closet,
see what's hiding
in an attic, to find
out things you wish later
you didn't know.

better not to know

there's a part of you
that wants
to look into the window.
to peek
into a door,
listen to a conversation
that isn't yours.
there is a strange desire
to know what's
no business of your own.
to look under a bed,
peer into a closet,
see what's hiding
in an attic, to find
out things you wish later
you didn't know.

the math of love

the math of love
is hard.
the equations are mysterious
and vague.
it takes
a large black board
and boxes of white chalk
to figure out
exactly how it
all works.
even then the answer
is nebulous.
how to bring two people
from different
planets
together, to keep
them together
in an orbit
around one another
without crashing,
or falling from the sky.
how to be one
without being one
and losing both.


the math of love

the math of love
is hard.
the equations are mysterious
and vague.
it takes
a large black board
and boxes of white chalk
to figure out
exactly how it
all works.
even then the answer
is nebulous.
how to bring two people
from different
planets
together, to keep
them together
in an orbit
around one another
without crashing,
or falling from the sky.
how to be one
without being one
and losing both.


three down

I have news, my friend tells me.
good news.
you'll appreciate what i'm
about to tell you.
I promise, he says.
I wait.
I keep working on the crossword
puzzle.
a six letter
word for not caring,
begins with an a.
you fill in the word,
writing apathy in ink,
which helps you with
the down clue
for the y.
a three letter word
for a milk that isn't
really a milk, and doesn't
come from a cow.
soy, you write.
don't you want to hear my
good news?
I look up, and say what?
what's the good news?
i'm giving my body to science.
I want them to use me.
my eyes, my heart,
and whatever recyclable
organs there are inside of me.
the second i'm dead it's all
there's for the taking.
that's nice, I tell him.
looking back at the crossword
puzzle. author of the Premature
Burial, three letters going down.
Poe you write.

three down

I have news, my friend tells me.
good news.
you'll appreciate what i'm
about to tell you.
I promise, he says.
I wait.
I keep working on the crossword
puzzle.
a six letter
word for not caring,
begins with an a.
you fill in the word,
writing apathy in ink,
which helps you with
the down clue
for the y.
a three letter word
for a milk that isn't
really a milk, and doesn't
come from a cow.
soy, you write.
don't you want to hear my
good news?
I look up, and say what?
what's the good news?
i'm giving my body to science.
I want them to use me.
my eyes, my heart,
and whatever recyclable
organs there are inside of me.
the second i'm dead it's all
there's for the taking.
that's nice, I tell him.
looking back at the crossword
puzzle. author of the Premature
Burial, three letters going down.
Poe you write.

maybe this will work

I am no one without you.
which is a lie,
but a purposeful lie
to show you how I feel.
how can you abandon
someone
like me. no one does that.
well,
hardly ever, at least
not since early
spring.
perhaps my desperation
and lack of
self esteem will
win you back.
my begging, my showing
up on bended
knee pleading my case,
telling you how much I've
changed, my
cards and letters,
the flowers sent,
chocolates, I know you love
chocolate,
the way I carved our names
on a tree.
surely we can work this out.
if you'd just say
something, anything,
pick up the phone, drop
the restraining order,
meet me for a cup
of green tea. I am no one
without you.

maybe this will work

I am no one without you.
which is a lie,
but a purposeful lie
to show you how I feel.
how can you abandon
someone
like me. no one does that.
well,
hardly ever, at least
not since early
spring.
perhaps my desperation
and lack of
self esteem will
win you back.
my begging, my showing
up on bended
knee pleading my case,
telling you how much I've
changed, my
cards and letters,
the flowers sent,
chocolates, I know you love
chocolate,
the way I carved our names
on a tree.
surely we can work this out.
if you'd just say
something, anything,
pick up the phone, drop
the restraining order,
meet me for a cup
of green tea. I am no one
without you.

ground control

your father
with a cell phone
is lost
in space, calling from
a capsule
in the nineteen sixties,
floating high above the earth.
his voice mail is still
in Spanish and is somehow
full.
I can't hear
you major tom,
this is ground control,
can you hear
me dad, can you hear me?
put the phone
up to your ear, no the other
way. right side up.
stop yelling, we'll get through
this.
don't touch any buttons.
ignore the beeps.
ignore the messages
coming across the screen.
stay calm.
this is ground control,
your son. we have a problem.
take the phone into the
bathroom,
fill the sink with water,
drop the phone into the water.
then call me on your
land line.

ground control

your father
with a cell phone
is lost
in space, calling from
a capsule
in the nineteen sixties,
floating high above the earth.
his voice mail is still
in Spanish and is somehow
full.
I can't hear
you major tom,
this is ground control,
can you hear
me dad, can you hear me?
put the phone
up to your ear, no the other
way. right side up.
stop yelling, we'll get through
this.
don't touch any buttons.
ignore the beeps.
ignore the messages
coming across the screen.
stay calm.
this is ground control,
your son. we have a problem.
take the phone into the
bathroom,
fill the sink with water,
drop the phone into the water.
then call me on your
land line.

the same moon

we used to talk
about the moon. describing as
we saw it from where we stood
on the same night
at the same time
so many miles away.
it's beautiful, she'd say,
yes, you'd reply.
silver and white,
a clock without hands.
a destination,
an orb without a string.
you'd say how much more
interesting the moon is
than the sun, and she'd
agree.
that's what lovers do
under the same moon,
on the same night so
many miles away,
they agree.

the same moon

we used to talk
about the moon. describing as
we saw it from where we stood
on the same night
at the same time
so many miles away.
it's beautiful, she'd say,
yes, you'd reply.
silver and white,
a clock without hands.
a destination,
an orb without a string.
you'd say how much more
interesting the moon is
than the sun, and she'd
agree.
that's what lovers do
under the same moon,
on the same night so
many miles away,
they agree.

lemon tart

you pace back and forth
staring out the window.
waiting for her to pull
up and put a small bag
of easter cookies
between your storm
and door.
she makes the best
cookies. you have
the pot on for tea,
cold milk ready.
a small plate, a knife
and fork in case
there's a lemon tart
or a blueberry pie
left too.
she's late with her
cookies. how cruel she
can be sometimes.

lemon tart

you pace back and forth
staring out the window.
waiting for her to pull
up and put a small bag
of easter cookies
between your storm
and door.
she makes the best
cookies. you have
the pot on for tea,
cold milk ready.
a small plate, a knife
and fork in case
there's a lemon tart
or a blueberry pie
left too.
she's late with her
cookies. how cruel she
can be sometimes.

wrong turn

the cop fills out the ticket wrong,
saying you turned
left instead of right a minute
after three pm on a rainy
afternoon.
he was sitting there with his
friends in blue,
the party lights on, getting
each car who did the same.
making their end of the month
quotas to stuff the local bank
with money.
so you go to court, but the judge
is not amused by your self
defense, he says that the cop
made an honest mistake, it
was later, it was cold and windy,
he says, rainy.
anyone could have done
the same. exactly you say,
exactly. to which he says
is that sarcasm I hear coming
out of you?
small town, small brains, large
fine.

wrong turn

the cop fills out the ticket wrong,
saying you turned
left instead of right a minute
after three pm on a rainy
afternoon.
he was sitting there with his
friends in blue,
the party lights on, getting
each car who did the same.
making their end of the month
quotas to stuff the local bank
with money.
so you go to court, but the judge
is not amused by your self
defense, he says that the cop
made an honest mistake, it
was later, it was cold and windy,
he says, rainy.
anyone could have done
the same. exactly you say,
exactly. to which he says
is that sarcasm I hear coming
out of you?
small town, small brains, large
fine.

your movie

who would play you in a movie
she asks as she
breaks off a piece of sourdough
bread she just baked,
and hands it to me.
hmm. i say, biting into the soft
warm doughy bread.
would it be a documentary,
or a feature film?
black and white? I love black and white.
an indie film? I prefer those.
mysterious and only shown
in small venues.
the kind of movie where you
walk out and shrug, saying,
it was good, I think.
and of course
no loud music or special effects.
she shakes her head
and looks at me. who, she says
maybe an unknown, I tell her,
maybe I could
play the role,
but with lots of make up
for the transitional aging parts,
and a stunt double
for the action scenes.
and you, I ask her, who would
play you?
Angelina Jolie, she says,
without hesitation.

your movie

who would play you in a movie
she asks as she
breaks off a piece of sourdough
bread she just baked,
and hands it to me.
hmm. i say, biting into the soft
warm doughy bread.
would it be a documentary,
or a feature film?
black and white? I love black and white.
an indie film? I prefer those.
mysterious and only shown
in small venues.
the kind of movie where you
walk out and shrug, saying,
it was good, I think.
and of course
no loud music or special effects.
she shakes her head
and looks at me. who, she says
maybe an unknown, I tell her,
maybe I could
play the role,
but with lots of make up
for the transitional aging parts,
and a stunt double
for the action scenes.
and you, I ask her, who would
play you?
Angelina Jolie, she says,
without hesitation.

a new pair of shoes

maybe a new pair of shoes
will brighten your day.
a pair of pants
to go along with them,
a shirt of course,
a top hat and tails,
a cane, yes. something
fancy and debonair.
maybe you need a sleek
dog with which to have at
the end of a leash,
a driver, a man at the door
to say good morning to
you as you leave your estate
to go about your day.
maybe a maid named Isabel
who will wave from the window
with her duster.
all of this comes to mind
as you chase the trash
truck down the street
with a bag of shrimp shells,
in your boxer shorts
at seven a.m.

a new pair of shoes

maybe a new pair of shoes
will brighten your day.
a pair of pants
to go along with them,
a shirt of course,
a top hat and tails,
a cane, yes. something
fancy and debonair.
maybe you need a sleek
dog with which to have at
the end of a leash,
a driver, a man at the door
to say good morning to
you as you leave your estate
to go about your day.
maybe a maid named Isabel
who will wave from the window
with her duster.
all of this comes to mind
as you chase the trash
truck down the street
with a bag of shrimp shells,
in your boxer shorts
at seven a.m.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

steerage

because of your lame
health insurance
that covers nothing except
amputations
and heart
transplants,
you stop by the minute
clinic
for some prescription
medicines.
something for
the fever, the headache.
the onset of
flu.
you sit in a small plastic
chair,
in a small enclave.
a water fountain
hums next to you.
you listen to the coughing,
to the rattle of bones
shaking. you pray.
finally,
a nurse comes out
and points at who's next,
saying a name
as best she can.
all eyes are on her.
this Florence nightingale
in a mustard stained white dress.
it's the steerage section
of the health care world.

steerage

because of your lame
health insurance
that covers nothing except
amputations
and heart
transplants,
you stop by the minute
clinic
for some prescription
medicines.
something for
the fever, the headache.
the onset of
flu.
you sit in a small plastic
chair,
in a small enclave.
a water fountain
hums next to you.
you listen to the coughing,
to the rattle of bones
shaking. you pray.
finally,
a nurse comes out
and points at who's next,
saying a name
as best she can.
all eyes are on her.
this Florence nightingale
in a mustard stained white dress.
it's the steerage section
of the health care world.

new hours

i'm changing my hours,
just to let you know.
I will be working from ten a.m.
until 3 p.m.
from this point forward.
after that
i'll be taking a nap.
at noon,
i'll have lunch.
in the early morning i'll
be reading the paper
and drinking coffee,
writing
stuff like this.
I know it will seem like
nothing has changed,
but I just needed to post
it, so that there
are no misunderstandings,
and that you don't
call or bother me
before or after
work hours.

new hours

i'm changing my hours,
just to let you know.
I will be working from ten a.m.
until 3 p.m.
from this point forward.
after that
i'll be taking a nap.
at noon,
i'll have lunch.
in the early morning i'll
be reading the paper
and drinking coffee,
writing
stuff like this.
I know it will seem like
nothing has changed,
but I just needed to post
it, so that there
are no misunderstandings,
and that you don't
call or bother me
before or after
work hours.

the horses

they love horses,
these women. why, you aren't sure.
it's one of
differences between you
and them.
men and women that
you can't explain.
they hang pictures of them
all over their house.
the ribbons won,
the calendars of horses.
saddles and boots
are scattered everywhere.
they give their horses sweet
names.
they can't wait
to get to the stable
to ride them,
feed them, see if they have water,
or wash them slowly,
check their teeth, their hooves
in old age.
I have to go see my horse
today,
they tell you, throwing
carrots and oats into the trunk.
i'll be there for a few hours,
maybe later
we can get together,
watch the derby.

the horses

they love horses,
these women. why, you aren't sure.
it's one of
differences between you
and them.
men and women that
you can't explain.
they hang pictures of them
all over their house.
the ribbons won,
the calendars of horses.
saddles and boots
are scattered everywhere.
they give their horses sweet
names.
they can't wait
to get to the stable
to ride them,
feed them, see if they have water,
or wash them slowly,
check their teeth, their hooves
in old age.
I have to go see my horse
today,
they tell you, throwing
carrots and oats into the trunk.
i'll be there for a few hours,
maybe later
we can get together,
watch the derby.

lost hours

you find
the lost hour
between the cushions of
your couch.
there it is,
stuffed down,
under the paper,
a plate of food,
a drink
balanced on
the side.
the remote still warm
from your hand
watching what?
reruns
of another era.
maybe it's more than
just an hour
down there, it could
be half a life time.

lost hours

you find
the lost hour
between the cushions of
your couch.
there it is,
stuffed down,
under the paper,
a plate of food,
a drink
balanced on
the side.
the remote still warm
from your hand
watching what?
reruns
of another era.
maybe it's more than
just an hour
down there, it could
be half a life time.

the wonder

whatever you've chosen
to do
with your days,
no matter the work,
there is a point where
you stop,
take a small moment
and wonder
how it is that you got here.
no epiphany, no
great awakening of spirit
or heart,
just plain
wonder at why
and how, you got where
you are. then back
to work you go.

the wonder

whatever you've chosen
to do
with your days,
no matter the work,
there is a point where
you stop,
take a small moment
and wonder
how it is that you got here.
no epiphany, no
great awakening of spirit
or heart,
just plain
wonder at why
and how, you got where
you are. then back
to work you go.

Monday, March 21, 2016

yelling

there was always yelling.
loud pitched voices,
the higher decibels of the young.
seagulls we
were in the small house,
batting our wings
against one
another,
flying towards the table
for crumbs.
always yelling coming from
one of us,
at the top of the stairs,
from the basement,
from outside in,
from someone
about clothes, or toys,
the unasked borrowing
of everything
we possessed,
and the neighbor with his shoe
banging against our
shared wall,
he didn't stand a chance.

yelling

there was always yelling.
loud pitched voices,
the higher decibels of the young.
seagulls we
were in the small house,
batting our wings
against one
another,
flying towards the table
for crumbs.
always yelling coming from
one of us,
at the top of the stairs,
from the basement,
from outside in,
from someone
about clothes, or toys,
the unasked borrowing
of everything
we possessed,
and the neighbor with his shoe
banging against our
shared wall,
he didn't stand a chance.

sideways

you go forward,
the clock says so.
the sun falling, the moon
rising.
the calendar too.
the roads all have arrows
pointing that way,
although it doesn't
seem like forward anymore.
sideways is more
of a direction.
you move on though.
it is what you do with your life.
feeling each day
go through your hands
so easily.
if there is one,
is the next life like that,
you wonder.

sideways

you go forward,
the clock says so.
the sun falling, the moon
rising.
the calendar too.
the roads all have arrows
pointing that way,
although it doesn't
seem like forward anymore.
sideways is more
of a direction.
you move on though.
it is what you do with your life.
feeling each day
go through your hands
so easily.
if there is one,
is the next life like that,
you wonder.

the fiftteen minute appointment

I spend a few hours
trying to make a doctor's appointment
with a physician
assigned to me
by my new health insurance carrier.
it takes awhile to get
a live person on the phone.
I've repeated my insurance number
so many times,
I almost have it memorized.
they ask what the issue is.
I tell them, it's a long list.
night terrors, allergies,
my left foot falls asleep,
a headache if I don't get coffee
in the morning. i'm afraid of heights
and Indian food.
i'm getting older and want
to stop it, or at least slow it
down.
okay. okay. the person says.
i'm sure the doctor can address
all of these ailments.
we have a Friday, three weeks
from now, eight a.m. i'm
putting you in for a fifteen
minute visit, so limit your questions.
sure, I tell them, sounds good
to me, but if I suddenly get healthy
again, i'll call and let you
know.

the fiftteen minute appointment

I spend a few hours
trying to make a doctor's appointment
with a physician
assigned to me
by my new health insurance carrier.
it takes awhile to get
a live person on the phone.
I've repeated my insurance number
so many times,
I almost have it memorized.
they ask what the issue is.
I tell them, it's a long list.
night terrors, allergies,
my left foot falls asleep,
a headache if I don't get coffee
in the morning. i'm afraid of heights
and Indian food.
i'm getting older and want
to stop it, or at least slow it
down.
okay. okay. the person says.
i'm sure the doctor can address
all of these ailments.
we have a Friday, three weeks
from now, eight a.m. i'm
putting you in for a fifteen
minute visit, so limit your questions.
sure, I tell them, sounds good
to me, but if I suddenly get healthy
again, i'll call and let you
know.

i work for windows

the delightful man on the other line,
who says his name
is sam Jackson
living in Malibu California
wants to help clean up my computer.
he says he works
for windows, and has noticed
a large sampling of error reports
coming from my system.
he doesn't seem to know my name,
but does have my land line
number, so it must be legit.
he sounds like my friend who
owns a Pakistani restaurant
in the city. the same cadence
and accent to his words.
he tells me to put one finger on
the control key, the other
on shift, another finger
somewhere else.
I ask him about my feet, I tell
him that I am limber enough
to use a big toe on my keyboard
if need be.
he repeats his instructions,
but is getting impatient. he wants
to know why I'm laughing.
I tell him that I just thought of
something funny
that my cat did the other day
and that it has nothing to do
with him.
he doesn't believe me, and curses
in English and a few other languages.
you are wasting my time, he says.
then hangs up abruptly.
it was going so well, my computer
was that close to being fixed.

i work for windows

the delightful man on the other line,
who says his name
is sam Jackson
living in Malibu California
wants to help clean up my computer.
he says he works
for windows, and has noticed
a large sampling of error reports
coming from my system.
he doesn't seem to know my name,
but does have my land line
number, so it must be legit.
he sounds like my friend who
owns a Pakistani restaurant
in the city. the same cadence
and accent to his words.
he tells me to put one finger on
the control key, the other
on shift, another finger
somewhere else.
I ask him about my feet, I tell
him that I am limber enough
to use a big toe on my keyboard
if need be.
he repeats his instructions,
but is getting impatient. he wants
to know why I'm laughing.
I tell him that I just thought of
something funny
that my cat did the other day
and that it has nothing to do
with him.
he doesn't believe me, and curses
in English and a few other languages.
you are wasting my time, he says.
then hangs up abruptly.
it was going so well, my computer
was that close to being fixed.

your big chair

your neighbor
likes to borrow things.
a cup of olive oil
for instance,
sugar, eggs,
two slices of bread,
once.
she needed a garden hoe
one spring day,
but you never saw
the flowers,
or the hoe in return.
as she packs
to leave, move on
to another city
you see the movers
carrying out the things
you've lent to her.
you see the pictures
you've set out on
the curb for trash,
a coat you once wore.
books, magazines you've
tossed.
a big chair with a rip
that she
sealed with duct
tape.
you hear her telling
the movers
to be careful, not
to drop it. you loved
that chair and feel
strangely happy
that it's found
a new home.

your big chair

your neighbor
likes to borrow things.
a cup of olive oil
for instance,
sugar, eggs,
two slices of bread,
once.
she needed a garden hoe
one spring day,
but you never saw
the flowers,
or the hoe in return.
as she packs
to leave, move on
to another city
you see the movers
carrying out the things
you've lent to her.
you see the pictures
you've set out on
the curb for trash,
a coat you once wore.
books, magazines you've
tossed.
a big chair with a rip
that she
sealed with duct
tape.
you hear her telling
the movers
to be careful, not
to drop it. you loved
that chair and feel
strangely happy
that it's found
a new home.

the sunday paper

you have the intention
of reading
the entire New York
Sunday Times
today. this Sunday,
the day it's bought and carried
home with coffee
and a warmed croissant.
you plan to
do the puzzle, at least
try the puzzle
without cheating.
the magazine first,
then backwards
into the news. sports.
commentary,
but it sits for the most
part on the couch,
partly read,
skimmed, pages turned.
it's too much.
maybe as the week goes on
you'll get to it. dip into
arts and leisure,
book world. city life,
things that
have happened so
long ago.

the sunday paper

you have the intention
of reading
the entire New York
Sunday Times
today. this Sunday,
the day it's bought and carried
home with coffee
and a warmed croissant.
you plan to
do the puzzle, at least
try the puzzle
without cheating.
the magazine first,
then backwards
into the news. sports.
commentary,
but it sits for the most
part on the couch,
partly read,
skimmed, pages turned.
it's too much.
maybe as the week goes on
you'll get to it. dip into
arts and leisure,
book world. city life,
things that
have happened so
long ago.

i'd like to buy a pie

you see them up
ahead.
dressed in black, a horse
and buggy.
a man, a woman, a child
or two.
you hear the hooves
against the pavement,
as you drive slowly
behind them.
the man waves you past
with a whip,
so you
maneuver around
to the side of the wagon.
you wave and smile,
to which you get nothing
in return.
you're hoping there might
be a pie stand
up ahead,
so you yell, pies?
out the window.
they shake their heads,
pies?
you yell again, is there
a pie stand
up ahead. i'd like to
purchase a pie or two.
this seems to anger them
as the mother,
in a white bonnet, black dress,
takes out a shoe fly pie
and flings it
towards your head.

i'd like to buy a pie

you see them up
ahead.
dressed in black, a horse
and buggy.
a man, a woman, a child
or two.
you hear the hooves
against the pavement,
as you drive slowly
behind them.
the man waves you past
with a whip,
so you
maneuver around
to the side of the wagon.
you wave and smile,
to which you get nothing
in return.
you're hoping there might
be a pie stand
up ahead,
so you yell, pies?
out the window.
they shake their heads,
pies?
you yell again, is there
a pie stand
up ahead. i'd like to
purchase a pie or two.
this seems to anger them
as the mother,
in a white bonnet, black dress,
takes out a shoe fly pie
and flings it
towards your head.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

stay with it

some things never come
clean.
no matter the soap
or bleach,
no matter how hard you
scrub
and wash.
the stain won't come out,
the dirt remains.
the white
will no longer be white,
the blue
faded, the greens
a pale memory
of when it was bought.
but still
it's folded. it's hung
in the closet.
it's worn despite all.

stay with it

some things never come
clean.
no matter the soap
or bleach,
no matter how hard you
scrub
and wash.
the stain won't come out,
the dirt remains.
the white
will no longer be white,
the blue
faded, the greens
a pale memory
of when it was bought.
but still
it's folded. it's hung
in the closet.
it's worn despite all.

no love here

jokingly I called her house
the no fun zone.
a place of work,
a small eastern bloc
country,
grey, surrounded by
barbed wire and fence.
into my hands would go
a shovel.
a bag of dirt or stones.
I listened
to what the birds were
saying
struggling on the feeder
for small bits
of seed.
I stared up at the tall
trees that whistled
in the wind.
I hammered nails, turned screws,
painted doors,
gathered fallen leaves
for the fire,
I then rested in my
own arms
at the end of another
hard day.

no love here

jokingly I called her house
the no fun zone.
a place of work,
a small eastern bloc
country,
grey, surrounded by
barbed wire and fence.
into my hands would go
a shovel.
a bag of dirt or stones.
I listened
to what the birds were
saying
struggling on the feeder
for small bits
of seed.
I stared up at the tall
trees that whistled
in the wind.
I hammered nails, turned screws,
painted doors,
gathered fallen leaves
for the fire,
I then rested in my
own arms
at the end of another
hard day.

life continues

your mother would
disappear
and go off, driven
by someone
to have a baby. within a
week or so
she'd be there again,
bringing home
a new boy or girl. she'd be
back at the stove,
back at the clothesline,
hands on
the vacuum.
pushing her black
framed glasses up over
her nose.
saying
something to the neighbor
as you leaned
on the sill
staring out the window.

life continues

your mother would
disappear
and go off, driven
by someone
to have a baby. within a
week or so
she'd be there again,
bringing home
a new boy or girl. she'd be
back at the stove,
back at the clothesline,
hands on
the vacuum.
pushing her black
framed glasses up over
her nose.
saying
something to the neighbor
as you leaned
on the sill
staring out the window.

a place to stop

the broad field.
the empty stretch of land.
a boarded house
at the edge,
where the road is.
an apple orchard gone bare.
a swing
on one strand still
blowing
back and forth,
no trees to lessen
the wind.
a rag doll, a rusted bike.
the remnants of
a family
in flight. this property
condemned.
not a place you'd think
to stop
and eat your lunch.
but you do.
it seems important
to remember all of this.

a place to stop

the broad field.
the empty stretch of land.
a boarded house
at the edge,
where the road is.
an apple orchard gone bare.
a swing
on one strand still
blowing
back and forth,
no trees to lessen
the wind.
a rag doll, a rusted bike.
the remnants of
a family
in flight. this property
condemned.
not a place you'd think
to stop
and eat your lunch.
but you do.
it seems important
to remember all of this.

sunday mass

full of Catholicism
at the age of twelve,
the incentive of fear and guilt
in full bloom,
I used to wear
a button down short sleeved
shirt to Easter Sunday
mass. canary yellow.
it seemed right.
loosely tucked into
my khaki pants,
a brown belt to match
brown shoes.
hair combed, shiny
with brylcreme, parted
evenly on the side.
catechism in hand.
an envelope with four
quarters rattling around
in my pocket.
church was after the cellophane
was ripped
off the easter baskets
that my mother set out on
the dining room table.
seven. all different colors,
glimmering, translucent
in the overhead light.
chocolate rabbits,
and yellow peeps,
jelly beans,
easter eggs dyed
by our hands the day before.
by the time we got
home from church there
was a ham
in the oven, filling the house
with warmth, my mother,
excommunicated by divorce,
was busy with scalloped potatoes,
unsmiling at the stove,
asking how church was.

sunday mass

full of Catholicism
at the age of twelve,
the incentive of fear and guilt
in full bloom,
I used to wear
a button down short sleeved
shirt to Easter Sunday
mass. canary yellow.
it seemed right.
loosely tucked into
my khaki pants,
a brown belt to match
brown shoes.
hair combed, shiny
with brylcreme, parted
evenly on the side.
catechism in hand.
an envelope with four
quarters rattling around
in my pocket.
church was after the cellophane
was ripped
off the easter baskets
that my mother set out on
the dining room table.
seven. all different colors,
glimmering, translucent
in the overhead light.
chocolate rabbits,
and yellow peeps,
jelly beans,
easter eggs dyed
by our hands the day before.
by the time we got
home from church there
was a ham
in the oven, filling the house
with warmth, my mother,
excommunicated by divorce,
was busy with scalloped potatoes,
unsmiling at the stove,
asking how church was.

dinner adventure

I feel a little queasy
I tell her, as she spoons
another helping
of Indian food into my dish.
rice and what not. buffalo?
this goat
might be undercooked, i
say politely,
taking a fork
to break the crust of skin
from the pink white
meat.
oh no, she says.
that's the way to cook it.
eat up. there's more
in the kitchen.
have you tried the kale, she says,
reaching across
the table
with the bowl of a green sea weed
looking vegetable.
I boiled, baked and stir
fired it,
after about thirty chews,
it should go
down.

dinner adventure

I feel a little queasy
I tell her, as she spoons
another helping
of Indian food into my dish.
rice and what not. buffalo?
this goat
might be undercooked, i
say politely,
taking a fork
to break the crust of skin
from the pink white
meat.
oh no, she says.
that's the way to cook it.
eat up. there's more
in the kitchen.
have you tried the kale, she says,
reaching across
the table
with the bowl of a green sea weed
looking vegetable.
I boiled, baked and stir
fired it,
after about thirty chews,
it should go
down.

the two o'clock appointment

bottled up
they sit in the waiting
room
on plastic chairs,
drinking coffee
browsing
old magazines, home
and garden,
cosmopolitan,
hunting and fishing,
men's health
and shape. psychology today.
some twitch, some have
already
begun to cry,
some have notes in
their hand
documenting the abuses
of husbands, or wives,
parents
long gone. children
and work. everyone there
a little bit
out of their mind.
the place vibrates
with anxiety and pain.
finally the door
swings open
and a woman with owl
glasses
in a grey suit,
looks around the room,
calls out your name.
batter up.

the two o'clock appointment

bottled up
they sit in the waiting
room
on plastic chairs,
drinking coffee
browsing
old magazines, home
and garden,
cosmopolitan,
hunting and fishing,
men's health
and shape. psychology today.
some twitch, some have
already
begun to cry,
some have notes in
their hand
documenting the abuses
of husbands, or wives,
parents
long gone. children
and work. everyone there
a little bit
out of their mind.
the place vibrates
with anxiety and pain.
finally the door
swings open
and a woman with owl
glasses
in a grey suit,
looks around the room,
calls out your name.
batter up.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

dancing killer whales

the water zoo decides
to no longer train the whales
to jump
and spin, to make whale like noises
to delight
the crowd.
we have a heart now they announce,
breeding wild animals
as circus clowns seems wrong.
putting hats on
them, and little dresses,
teaching them
to slap their fins against
each other
will no longer be done.
sometimes they eat
the workers, but we expect
that from time to time.
they are killer whales after all.
and we, in our
wet suits, look like fish.
stupid fish,
or prawn.

dancing killer whales

the water zoo decides
to no longer train the whales
to jump
and spin, to make whale like noises
to delight
the crowd.
we have a heart now they announce,
breeding wild animals
as circus clowns seems wrong.
putting hats on
them, and little dresses,
teaching them
to slap their fins against
each other
will no longer be done.
sometimes they eat
the workers, but we expect
that from time to time.
they are killer whales after all.
and we, in our
wet suits, look like fish.
stupid fish,
or prawn.

a new house

bank of
America calls you with a fraud
warning.
it seems
that someone in china
is trying to buy
a new house
with your card.
is that you, they ask.
what part of china,
you ask them.
near a waterfall, I hope.
if it was me i'd like
a nice view.
hardwood floors,
thatched roof,
three bedrooms,
maybe a little bamboo,
walking distance to coffee
and food.
a carport too.

a new house

bank of
America calls you with a fraud
warning.
it seems
that someone in china
is trying to buy
a new house
with your card.
is that you, they ask.
what part of china,
you ask them.
near a waterfall, I hope.
if it was me i'd like
a nice view.
hardwood floors,
thatched roof,
three bedrooms,
maybe a little bamboo,
walking distance to coffee
and food.
a carport too.