Saturday, April 30, 2016

historically low rates

it's bad news,
the early call, the late night call.
it's never good.
sometimes it's
a medical issue,
an accident, a death,
a tragic break up
with crying on the other end,
or sometimes, as it is lately,
someone with a florida
number
trying to get you to refinance
at these new
historically low rates.
they can't believe they
have a human
voice on the line, and struggle
to pronounce your name,
before they begin
their rap.
you don't hate them, waking
you up, like they do
in the middle of the night,
but there are things
with a knitting needle
that you imagine
doing to them.

historically low rates

it's bad news,
the early call, the late night call.
it's never good.
sometimes it's
a medical issue,
an accident, a death,
a tragic break up
with crying on the other end,
or sometimes, as it is lately,
someone with a florida
number
trying to get you to refinance
at these new
historically low rates.
they can't believe they
have a human
voice on the line, and struggle
to pronounce your name,
before they begin
their rap.
you don't hate them, waking
you up, like they do
in the middle of the night,
but there are things
with a knitting needle
that you imagine
doing to them.

the fish monger

I could bring you back
some fish, he says, maybe some tuna,
i'll sell them
to you cheap. my buddy's got a boat
and we're going out today.
you like tuna, don't you?
sure, I tell him, but I think
I already have three or four
little cans stack
in the cupboard. green with Charlie
on the side.
oh no, he says, there's nothing
like fresh tuna
caught right out of the ocean.
he's been drinking a little,
and continues
with his selling of the fish
he may or may not catch.
you don't like fish?
fish is brain food, it's good
for you. it makes you
more healthy and smarter.
okay, okay, I say, as I listen
to the exhaust and pop of another
can of beer on his end.
who doesn't want to be smarter.
i'll take one large tuna
if you catch any, but with
the head cut off and fileted
into nice steak sized portions.
how about two, he says. two tunas,
wrapped in newspaper, you do
the cutting?
sure. sure. okay,
bring me the stinking fish.

the fish monger

I could bring you back
some fish, he says, maybe some tuna,
i'll sell them
to you cheap. my buddy's got a boat
and we're going out today.
you like tuna, don't you?
sure, I tell him, but I think
I already have three or four
little cans stack
in the cupboard. green with Charlie
on the side.
oh no, he says, there's nothing
like fresh tuna
caught right out of the ocean.
he's been drinking a little,
and continues
with his selling of the fish
he may or may not catch.
you don't like fish?
fish is brain food, it's good
for you. it makes you
more healthy and smarter.
okay, okay, I say, as I listen
to the exhaust and pop of another
can of beer on his end.
who doesn't want to be smarter.
i'll take one large tuna
if you catch any, but with
the head cut off and fileted
into nice steak sized portions.
how about two, he says. two tunas,
wrapped in newspaper, you do
the cutting?
sure. sure. okay,
bring me the stinking fish.

mornings like this

the cold and rain
allows you slip back under the sheets
and sleep
some more.
how nice it is
to be nowhere, to go nowhere,
to not have a clock
to punch,
an appointment to keep.
the world has
slowed down
to a near stop.
only the sound and smell
of coffee brewing
is in the house.
you need mornings like this,
to handle
the rest.

mornings like this

the cold and rain
allows you slip back under the sheets
and sleep
some more.
how nice it is
to be nowhere, to go nowhere,
to not have a clock
to punch,
an appointment to keep.
the world has
slowed down
to a near stop.
only the sound and smell
of coffee brewing
is in the house.
you need mornings like this,
to handle
the rest.

Friday, April 29, 2016

she wanted to go camping

she wanted to go camping.
I didn't.
she wanted to hike along
the mountain trail
and make camp beside a stream.
fish,
gather rocks and sticks
to build a fire.
she wanted
to bathe in the cold water,
study the birds.
listen to the wolves,
the crickets.
the sound of nothing but
wind
circling the tops of trees.
she wanted to sleep on the ground,
be one with nature.
I didn't.
I suggested the holiday
inn, right down the road,
with room service and a bar.
so we never went.
she went with her next boyfriend.
he was wearing
a red plaid shirt
when i saw them together.
they both had on
their back packs and boots.
they were studying a map
marking their path.
this made me happy,
seeing her happy.

she wanted to go camping

she wanted to go camping.
I didn't.
she wanted to hike along
the mountain trail
and make camp beside a stream.
fish,
gather rocks and sticks
to build a fire.
she wanted
to bathe in the cold water,
study the birds.
listen to the wolves,
the crickets.
the sound of nothing but
wind
circling the tops of trees.
she wanted to sleep on the ground,
be one with nature.
I didn't.
I suggested the holiday
inn, right down the road,
with room service and a bar.
so we never went.
she went with her next boyfriend.
he was wearing
a red plaid shirt
when i saw them together.
they both had on
their back packs and boots.
they were studying a map
marking their path.
this made me happy,
seeing her happy.

sunshine

there are those
that are too happy, too bright
and sunny, so much
so
that you can hardly look at them.
it's hurts your eyes
to stare into such
unequivocal joy.
pure sunshine.
you feel like they might be
faking it though,
because you know
about the money problems,
the divorce,
the kid in rehab, the old
car. the doctor's report.
everything
coming from their mouths is
candy.
peachy.
rosy.
you want to take them by
the hand
and tell them to sit down.
to cry.
to curse the world and all
the bad luck
they've run into. but you don't.
you aren't that good
of a friend,
and you're feeling a little blue,
yourself today.

sunshine

there are those
that are too happy, too bright
and sunny, so much
so
that you can hardly look at them.
it's hurts your eyes
to stare into such
unequivocal joy.
pure sunshine.
you feel like they might be
faking it though,
because you know
about the money problems,
the divorce,
the kid in rehab, the old
car. the doctor's report.
everything
coming from their mouths is
candy.
peachy.
rosy.
you want to take them by
the hand
and tell them to sit down.
to cry.
to curse the world and all
the bad luck
they've run into. but you don't.
you aren't that good
of a friend,
and you're feeling a little blue,
yourself today.

pill happy

a pill or two,
or three
to sleep, another for the food
you ate.
one for
the headache,
another for
affection.
a pill to wake up with,
a pill
to stop sneezing.
a pill
to lower your blood
pressure,
to improve your mood,
to be likable, lovable,
numb
to a world that's
blue.

pill happy

a pill or two,
or three
to sleep, another for the food
you ate.
one for
the headache,
another for
affection.
a pill to wake up with,
a pill
to stop sneezing.
a pill
to lower your blood
pressure,
to improve your mood,
to be likable, lovable,
numb
to a world that's
blue.

business as usual

when the boy
becomes a thief, it's hard
to understand.
a dollar here, a dollar there.
when he robs
those he loves not with a sword,
or gun,
or knife, but
with a fountain pen,
you shake your head
and wonder why.
it's not evil, or malicious,
it's just business as usual
for him.

business as usual

when the boy
becomes a thief, it's hard
to understand.
a dollar here, a dollar there.
when he robs
those he loves not with a sword,
or gun,
or knife, but
with a fountain pen,
you shake your head
and wonder why.
it's not evil, or malicious,
it's just business as usual
for him.

the fainting spell

in the big store
you feel like
you might faint, so you say
I feel kind of dizzy
to no one in particular,
grabbing onto
a rack of clothes marked
seventy per cent off.
the fluorescent light is
a million black dots,
like buzzing flies
trying
to congeal and go dark.
there is the warm glow of
sleep approaching.
you worry about hitting your
head on the tiled floor, so
you take a seat
beside an old woman with
knee stockings
and a sandwich in her hand.
ham and cheese.
she stops eating to look
at you.
there is lettuce between her teeth.
are you alright, she says.
you look pale,
like you might faint,
or something.
it's the lights in here,
she says,
the music, the smell.
you have to eat something
when you shop here,
she puts the sandwich
in front of your mouth.
you take a bite, then her drink,
the long straw finding your parched
lips. you suck in a gulp
of soda and murmur thanks.
I come here every day, she
says. you have to pace
yourself.

the fainting spell

in the big store
you feel like
you might faint, so you say
I feel kind of dizzy
to no one in particular,
grabbing onto
a rack of clothes marked
seventy per cent off.
the fluorescent light is
a million black dots,
like buzzing flies
trying
to congeal and go dark.
there is the warm glow of
sleep approaching.
you worry about hitting your
head on the tiled floor, so
you take a seat
beside an old woman with
knee stockings
and a sandwich in her hand.
ham and cheese.
she stops eating to look
at you.
there is lettuce between her teeth.
are you alright, she says.
you look pale,
like you might faint,
or something.
it's the lights in here,
she says,
the music, the smell.
you have to eat something
when you shop here,
she puts the sandwich
in front of your mouth.
you take a bite, then her drink,
the long straw finding your parched
lips. you suck in a gulp
of soda and murmur thanks.
I come here every day, she
says. you have to pace
yourself.

finding gold

your knees hurt
from panning gold. from kneeling
in the wet ground
beside the stream.
your hands are cold.
you find enough to get by.
shaking the tray
until a few
golden pebbles glimmer
in the fading light.
your back aches, your vision
is blurry.
it's a hard life.
no one's to blame, perhaps
if you had
never found that one
large stone,
things would have changed.

finding gold

your knees hurt
from panning gold. from kneeling
in the wet ground
beside the stream.
your hands are cold.
you find enough to get by.
shaking the tray
until a few
golden pebbles glimmer
in the fading light.
your back aches, your vision
is blurry.
it's a hard life.
no one's to blame, perhaps
if you had
never found that one
large stone,
things would have changed.

the ring

it's the diamond you see
first.
large, grape sized on her finger.
her hand
stretches out
across the table.
flat, and empty, except
for the ring
that catches light.
what else is there to talk
about,
but the ring.
everything else is diminished
by it's power,
or so she thinks.

the ring

it's the diamond you see
first.
large, grape sized on her finger.
her hand
stretches out
across the table.
flat, and empty, except
for the ring
that catches light.
what else is there to talk
about,
but the ring.
everything else is diminished
by it's power,
or so she thinks.

how it happens

how it happens
is hard to know, how one
goes
one way into darkness,
the other
a higher road.
what decides
our fate, our destination,
a whim,
a feeling,
a conscious decision,
or something else beyond
us,
beyond reason.
a kind and loving God,
or one
who does little
but watch, and wait.

how it happens

how it happens
is hard to know, how one
goes
one way into darkness,
the other
a higher road.
what decides
our fate, our destination,
a whim,
a feeling,
a conscious decision,
or something else beyond
us,
beyond reason.
a kind and loving God,
or one
who does little
but watch, and wait.

the apples

the dead
gain luster the moment
they pass.
we shine them
up like apples.
hardly a worm is found,
or spot gone
soft and brown.
they are forever red
or green,
picked ripe in season,
rarely left to rot
upon the ground.

the apples

the dead
gain luster the moment
they pass.
we shine them
up like apples.
hardly a worm is found,
or spot gone
soft and brown.
they are forever red
or green,
picked ripe in season,
rarely left to rot
upon the ground.

the world you live in

the less you say,
the wiser they think you are.
think, not know.
still, impressions are
everything,
as you babble on and on
about nothing.
passionate about the mundane,
observing
the simple ticks and troubles
of those around you,
including you,
writing them
down to go unread or read
in this silent world
you live in.

the world you live in

the less you say,
the wiser they think you are.
think, not know.
still, impressions are
everything,
as you babble on and on
about nothing.
passionate about the mundane,
observing
the simple ticks and troubles
of those around you,
including you,
writing them
down to go unread or read
in this silent world
you live in.

fitting in

when young
things were altered.
your legs grew, your arms,
sleeves
had to lengthened,
pants let out.
shoes
were discarded for
larger shoes.
you adjusted everything
each year,
more happy, more sullen,
who should you be,
everything so undecided
for so long,
taking great care to change
to fit in,
until now.
where you hope not to.

fitting in

when young
things were altered.
your legs grew, your arms,
sleeves
had to lengthened,
pants let out.
shoes
were discarded for
larger shoes.
you adjusted everything
each year,
more happy, more sullen,
who should you be,
everything so undecided
for so long,
taking great care to change
to fit in,
until now.
where you hope not to.

the velvet rope

after the decorator
designed the room, picked
the colors,
mauves
and red, a touch of grey.
a long couch,
restored to look like
an era long
since gone away,
placed on the mantle
the antique vase,
they put up a velvet rope
in front of the entry
way. stately lamps,
a muted
chandelier hung low.
from the hall you could
see but not enter,
or touch the new room.
old but new.
the oil painting they
paid too much for
because it looked like
a couple who resembled
them, on the beach,
along the coast
against a sea of blue.

the velvet rope

after the decorator
designed the room, picked
the colors,
mauves
and red, a touch of grey.
a long couch,
restored to look like
an era long
since gone away,
placed on the mantle
the antique vase,
they put up a velvet rope
in front of the entry
way. stately lamps,
a muted
chandelier hung low.
from the hall you could
see but not enter,
or touch the new room.
old but new.
the oil painting they
paid too much for
because it looked like
a couple who resembled
them, on the beach,
along the coast
against a sea of blue.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

what happens in the dentist office stays

I begin by telling my dentist
how beautiful she looks today.
did you lose weight or something.
fall in love?
my god there's an aura about you.
heaven must be missing an angel.
why thank you.
very kind of you to say. I am
actually seeing someone.
you are quite perceptive.
she turns her head, blushing.
can I ask you something, I say
to her, it's sort of a favor?
sure, anything.
well would you mind removing
this mole from
the side of my forehead.
see it, it looks an abe
Lincoln copper penny stuck there.
she says, what?
I can't do that. that's crazy.
i'm a dentist. look, I tell her,
i'm here, you're
here, you have all these
sharp instruments. you're practically
a doctor. numb me up and scrape
that sucker off. i'm sick
of looking at it
and answering questions about it.
oooh, what's that, people say.
better have it looked at!
I have cash.
oh, but I can't do that, she
says, putting her hands into the air.
i'm not a dermatologist.
shhh. alright, alright, calm down.
shut the door, I tell her.
I take out a hundred dollar
bill and slip it into
the pocket of her smock. not enough?
okay, playing hardball. I slip
in another hundred.
it's yours, I tell
her. go out with your new guy,
dinner movie, whatever.
no one needs to know,
I whisper to her.
it's between you and me.
go grab a scalpel or something
and zippity do da. okay?
stick a band aid on the wound
and no one is the wiser.
I slap my hands together
and rub them back forth.
no. she says. now don't ask
me again, or i'm going to hurt
you. now open wide, I need
to stuff your mouth
with some cardboard
and take a few x-rays.

what happens in the dentist office stays

I begin by telling my dentist
how beautiful she looks today.
did you lose weight or something.
fall in love?
my god there's an aura about you.
heaven must be missing an angel.
why thank you.
very kind of you to say. I am
actually seeing someone.
you are quite perceptive.
she turns her head, blushing.
can I ask you something, I say
to her, it's sort of a favor?
sure, anything.
well would you mind removing
this mole from
the side of my forehead.
see it, it looks an abe
Lincoln copper penny stuck there.
she says, what?
I can't do that. that's crazy.
i'm a dentist. look, I tell her,
i'm here, you're
here, you have all these
sharp instruments. you're practically
a doctor. numb me up and scrape
that sucker off. i'm sick
of looking at it
and answering questions about it.
oooh, what's that, people say.
better have it looked at!
I have cash.
oh, but I can't do that, she
says, putting her hands into the air.
i'm not a dermatologist.
shhh. alright, alright, calm down.
shut the door, I tell her.
I take out a hundred dollar
bill and slip it into
the pocket of her smock. not enough?
okay, playing hardball. I slip
in another hundred.
it's yours, I tell
her. go out with your new guy,
dinner movie, whatever.
no one needs to know,
I whisper to her.
it's between you and me.
go grab a scalpel or something
and zippity do da. okay?
stick a band aid on the wound
and no one is the wiser.
I slap my hands together
and rub them back forth.
no. she says. now don't ask
me again, or i'm going to hurt
you. now open wide, I need
to stuff your mouth
with some cardboard
and take a few x-rays.

things changed

before things changed,
a bar was a place where you could
go and talk,
meet people, make friends,
stir up a romance even,
if the planets aligned
and the stars
came out.
someone might write their
number and name
on the back of a match book
cover, or napkin
and say call me. kissing you
on the cheek before
they left.
there might be one tv
in the corner,
a black and white
tv with rabbit ears,
maybe a fight was on,
or a ball game, or nothing.
there was a grown man or
woman behind the bar
with a rag
wiping the counter clean,
filling up
your drink before
you asked for another.
they called you by
your first name.
there was a dish of nuts
every six feet.
ashtrays.
the music wasn't so loud
that you couldn't talk.
there was food, real food,
not squid chopped
into rubbery fried gaskets.
not hummus, or
olives.
there was no spinach
artichoke dip.
but things changed.
not for the good either,
I tell you.

things changed

before things changed,
a bar was a place where you could
go and talk,
meet people, make friends,
stir up a romance even,
if the planets aligned
and the stars
came out.
someone might write their
number and name
on the back of a match book
cover, or napkin
and say call me. kissing you
on the cheek before
they left.
there might be one tv
in the corner,
a black and white
tv with rabbit ears,
maybe a fight was on,
or a ball game, or nothing.
there was a grown man or
woman behind the bar
with a rag
wiping the counter clean,
filling up
your drink before
you asked for another.
they called you by
your first name.
there was a dish of nuts
every six feet.
ashtrays.
the music wasn't so loud
that you couldn't talk.
there was food, real food,
not squid chopped
into rubbery fried gaskets.
not hummus, or
olives.
there was no spinach
artichoke dip.
but things changed.
not for the good either,
I tell you.

a days work

the man
in the purple t-shirt
with the leaf blower
blowing one leaf
down the sidewalk to the truck,
politely stops
to let you enter your house.
the smell of gasoline
and oil
burning fills
the air. the heavy
machine idles
and vibrates in his hands.
when you go in, he fires
it up again,
increases the power,
him and the blower,
louder than a jet
pushing the solitary leaf
down the sidewalk.

a days work

the man
in the purple t-shirt
with the leaf blower
blowing one leaf
down the sidewalk to the truck,
politely stops
to let you enter your house.
the smell of gasoline
and oil
burning fills
the air. the heavy
machine idles
and vibrates in his hands.
when you go in, he fires
it up again,
increases the power,
him and the blower,
louder than a jet
pushing the solitary leaf
down the sidewalk.

the fur collar coat

once, when we were eleven
or twelve
throwing snowballs
at cars
as all our friends
were doing
behind the bushes
at the round about,
a man,
came out of nowhere and
grabbed two or three
of us
by our skinny necks.
he had a perfectly round
red spot
on the side of his face,
a slush
of melting snow
dripped down the fur collar
of his fancy coat.
it looked like an old woman's coat.
he was angry.
smoking a cigarette, cursing.
we all wondered who
threw that one.
who aimed perfectly
through the narrow slot
of the car window
and made a direct hit.
he corralled us
near a pay phone where he
proceeded to call
the cops,
which gave us a chance
to run.
we did, him chasing
after us,
slipping in his suede boots,
we made
more snowballs,
aiming and firing as he
slipped and stumbled.
later, each of us took
credit for the perfect throw,
saying he deserved
it anyway with that coat.

the fur collar coat

once, when we were eleven
or twelve
throwing snowballs
at cars
as all our friends
were doing
behind the bushes
at the round about,
a man,
came out of nowhere and
grabbed two or three
of us
by our skinny necks.
he had a perfectly round
red spot
on the side of his face,
a slush
of melting snow
dripped down the fur collar
of his fancy coat.
it looked like an old woman's coat.
he was angry.
smoking a cigarette, cursing.
we all wondered who
threw that one.
who aimed perfectly
through the narrow slot
of the car window
and made a direct hit.
he corralled us
near a pay phone where he
proceeded to call
the cops,
which gave us a chance
to run.
we did, him chasing
after us,
slipping in his suede boots,
we made
more snowballs,
aiming and firing as he
slipped and stumbled.
later, each of us took
credit for the perfect throw,
saying he deserved
it anyway with that coat.

blocking the door

you notice
that when old people,
even
middle age people enter
a grocery store,
once in, once past
the automatic door,
and rubber mat,
they stop.
this is where they need
to think.
ponder this new world
before stepping into
the produce section.
the lights and noise
seems to immobilize them,
they need to
regroup, look at their
list and adjust
their clothing.
some will blow their
noses,
or take a flyer from the basket
to see
what's on sale.
others will open their
enormous purses and take out
a fistful of coupons.
they don't care that there
are other people
coming through the door
behind them.
they're in. it's their
store now.

blocking the door

you notice
that when old people,
even
middle age people enter
a grocery store,
once in, once past
the automatic door,
and rubber mat,
they stop.
this is where they need
to think.
ponder this new world
before stepping into
the produce section.
the lights and noise
seems to immobilize them,
they need to
regroup, look at their
list and adjust
their clothing.
some will blow their
noses,
or take a flyer from the basket
to see
what's on sale.
others will open their
enormous purses and take out
a fistful of coupons.
they don't care that there
are other people
coming through the door
behind them.
they're in. it's their
store now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

the small boat

your boat is small.
too small for everyone
to get on board.
some swim,
some sink, some hang onto
the side.
you've been
in the water too,
cast adrift
by a love one,
but you survived
just fine, as they
will.

the small boat

your boat is small.
too small for everyone
to get on board.
some swim,
some sink, some hang onto
the side.
you've been
in the water too,
cast adrift
by a love one,
but you survived
just fine, as they
will.

giving

the gift
is more than the box,
the tenderness
of wrapping,
white bow,
and note, hand
written,
signed, with love.
yours always.
the gift is meaningless
inside.
it's more
than words, or money,
or anything
you can buy.
it's the act of giving
that saves
us all from ourselves.

giving

the gift
is more than the box,
the tenderness
of wrapping,
white bow,
and note, hand
written,
signed, with love.
yours always.
the gift is meaningless
inside.
it's more
than words, or money,
or anything
you can buy.
it's the act of giving
that saves
us all from ourselves.

no less strange

in time
we are all abandoned.
whether at birth,
or before,
or late in life
when those around you
fall.
enough years alive
will leave
you alone,
no different, no less
strange
than when you
were born.

no less strange

in time
we are all abandoned.
whether at birth,
or before,
or late in life
when those around you
fall.
enough years alive
will leave
you alone,
no different, no less
strange
than when you
were born.

getting on base

you can't get onto
the army base
without a strip search,
a vehicle search,
dna testing, blood samples,
a questionnaire
filled out of your known
or unknown
evil associates. they want
your name, address, id.
when was the last time you
beat your wife?
get out of the car,
spin around,
stand on your head.
go there, go there.
sit here.
wait.
wait some more.
someone will call your
name.
it smells like an army
base.
cut grass and oil.
bleached to a raw shine.
the dumbness of
green recruits at the gate,
waving you
forward to where you have
to leave
and make a U-turn
and go to the visitors
gate.
we are safe and paranoid
behind these bsrbed
fences, the red white and
blue flapping
stiffly against an empty sky.

getting on base

you can't get onto
the army base
without a strip search,
a vehicle search,
dna testing, blood samples,
a questionnaire
filled out of your known
or unknown
evil associates. they want
your name, address, id.
when was the last time you
beat your wife?
get out of the car,
spin around,
stand on your head.
go there, go there.
sit here.
wait.
wait some more.
someone will call your
name.
it smells like an army
base.
cut grass and oil.
bleached to a raw shine.
the dumbness of
green recruits at the gate,
waving you
forward to where you have
to leave
and make a U-turn
and go to the visitors
gate.
we are safe and paranoid
behind these bsrbed
fences, the red white and
blue flapping
stiffly against an empty sky.

the last reunion

in time there
will be only three people left
to attend
your high school reunion,
but you suspect
one person will be
the woman who organizes
it every other year.
her job since graduating
has been
to gather everyone together,
again and again.
searching
for former students
and teachers to attend,
and notifying all
of who has bought the farm.
she is relentless
in her pursuit,
begging you to come.
to bring pictures, to bring
memories,
to bring your own beer,
or chicken
to throw on the grille.
the days of the hotel ballroom
are gone.
no one cares much
anymore, checking
the maybe box, saying that
maybe they'll come.

the last reunion

in time there
will be only three people left
to attend
your high school reunion,
but you suspect
one person will be
the woman who organizes
it every other year.
her job since graduating
has been
to gather everyone together,
again and again.
searching
for former students
and teachers to attend,
and notifying all
of who has bought the farm.
she is relentless
in her pursuit,
begging you to come.
to bring pictures, to bring
memories,
to bring your own beer,
or chicken
to throw on the grille.
the days of the hotel ballroom
are gone.
no one cares much
anymore, checking
the maybe box, saying that
maybe they'll come.

things your mother threw away

in shop
you made a key chain
out of long strips of plastic.
four colors
woven into
a thick strip of rope.
then there
was the wooden pot holder
carved in wood shop.
using the jig saw,
then fine
sandpaper, the drill
for pegs
with which to hold
whatever it is was to hold.
the ashtray,
a thin plate of metal,
ball peened
and battered by
a hammer. and the bowl,
fashioned out
of clay, then glazed
and slid into the mysterious
kiln where it came
out shiny.
your goggles made your
small face
sweat and turn
red
under the heat and pressure
of the seventh grade.

things your mother threw away

in shop
you made a key chain
out of long strips of plastic.
four colors
woven into
a thick strip of rope.
then there
was the wooden pot holder
carved in wood shop.
using the jig saw,
then fine
sandpaper, the drill
for pegs
with which to hold
whatever it is was to hold.
the ashtray,
a thin plate of metal,
ball peened
and battered by
a hammer. and the bowl,
fashioned out
of clay, then glazed
and slid into the mysterious
kiln where it came
out shiny.
your goggles made your
small face
sweat and turn
red
under the heat and pressure
of the seventh grade.

solitaire

one card
leads to another.
a red three of diamonds
on four
of clubs.
the jack
of spades
onto the queen of hearts.
the ace
aside
with the club
two.
red nine on ten.
it's raining,
the light is dim.
the air cold.
it's quiet. you go
on, flipping
the cards, before
the next shuffle,
through all fifty-two.

solitaire

one card
leads to another.
a red three of diamonds
on four
of clubs.
the jack
of spades
onto the queen of hearts.
the ace
aside
with the club
two.
red nine on ten.
it's raining,
the light is dim.
the air cold.
it's quiet. you go
on, flipping
the cards, before
the next shuffle,
through all fifty-two.

the pink bush

you have no green thumb.
nothing grows
that you plant.
weeds and ivy seem to be
your thing.
you survey your square
of land
and ponder pavement,
gravel.
maybe a wooden deck
from fence to fence.
but in the corner is a bush
you didn't even know
you had.
it's blooming a pink
bright color.
maybe you do have skills
after all.

the pink bush

you have no green thumb.
nothing grows
that you plant.
weeds and ivy seem to be
your thing.
you survey your square
of land
and ponder pavement,
gravel.
maybe a wooden deck
from fence to fence.
but in the corner is a bush
you didn't even know
you had.
it's blooming a pink
bright color.
maybe you do have skills
after all.

dog in the car

the dog in the car
laps
his tongue at the window.
let's out a bark.
the doors are locked,
the owner somewhere in
the strip mall.
a crowd gathers,
some in tears, we have
to save this dog.
where is the owner they
chant,
someone lights a torch
another
ties a rope into
a noose.
we have to save this
dog, they yell.
get a hammer, break
a window. they don't see
the bowl of water,
or that the car is running,
the air conditioning on.
finally the man
returns and they chase
him around
the parking lot,
catching him, then teaching
him a lesson
by beating him
with their handbags.

dog in the car

the dog in the car
laps
his tongue at the window.
let's out a bark.
the doors are locked,
the owner somewhere in
the strip mall.
a crowd gathers,
some in tears, we have
to save this dog.
where is the owner they
chant,
someone lights a torch
another
ties a rope into
a noose.
we have to save this
dog, they yell.
get a hammer, break
a window. they don't see
the bowl of water,
or that the car is running,
the air conditioning on.
finally the man
returns and they chase
him around
the parking lot,
catching him, then teaching
him a lesson
by beating him
with their handbags.

loved the book

it's a bad movie.
you loved the book,
read it twice,
you keep it on your nightstand.
you imagined
each character to look
and be a certain
way.
you bought the ticket,
the popcorn,
sat down
in the darkened theater
and waited
for the story to unfold.
it didn't.
who were these people
these actors
filling in for
the ones you created
in your mind.
the music was all wrong,
the plot
thinned,
the ending too long.

loved the book

it's a bad movie.
you loved the book,
read it twice,
you keep it on your nightstand.
you imagined
each character to look
and be a certain
way.
you bought the ticket,
the popcorn,
sat down
in the darkened theater
and waited
for the story to unfold.
it didn't.
who were these people
these actors
filling in for
the ones you created
in your mind.
the music was all wrong,
the plot
thinned,
the ending too long.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

answering the bell

some days you can't answer
the bell.
you sit in the corner,
blood in your eyes.
the sting of punches still
pulsing
in your side.
you look across the wide
canvas
to what's ahead.
someone splashes water
onto your face,
sews up a cut over your eye.
sponges your neck.
go get em, they say.
you can do it.
watch out for his left.
the bell rings.
you lift yourself
on heavy legs,
out of bed, and begin
your day.






answering the bell

some days you can't answer
the bell.
you sit in the corner,
blood in your eyes.
the sting of punches still
pulsing
in your side.
you look across the wide
canvas
to what's ahead.
someone splashes water
onto your face,
sews up a cut over your eye.
sponges your neck.
go get em, they say.
you can do it.
watch out for his left.
the bell rings.
you lift yourself
on heavy legs,
out of bed, and begin
your day.






daisies

he doesn't see,
or if he does, the line of daises
in the grass,
growing wild.
he does nothing to avoid
them.
perhaps he's taken
notice.
flowers have a way of grabbing
your eye.
perhaps he remembered
in a quick flash
a girl knew in school,
the flowers he bundled
neatly in his small
hand to give to her, to win
her over.
her smile and blush,
then running away.
he pushes the mower
forward.
trimming everything to within
an inch of the cold
earth.

daisies

he doesn't see,
or if he does, the line of daises
in the grass,
growing wild.
he does nothing to avoid
them.
perhaps he's taken
notice.
flowers have a way of grabbing
your eye.
perhaps he remembered
in a quick flash
a girl knew in school,
the flowers he bundled
neatly in his small
hand to give to her, to win
her over.
her smile and blush,
then running away.
he pushes the mower
forward.
trimming everything to within
an inch of the cold
earth.

the first day and the last day

in preparation
for serving time in jail.
bring cash.
bring clean underwear,
t-shirts, white
is preferred.
socks.
the rest will be provided.
green jumpsuits,
a spring like mint
for misdemeanor offenders,
a bright summertime
orange for
felony inmates.
two to a one man cell.
one gets the cot,
the other a cozy
corner near
the head and sink.
pillows, sheets and a
striped blanket
will be provided.
no phones.
a thirty minute call is
five dollars.
three squares,
curfew at seven to be
back in your cell.
sixty days, and you're
a free man again.
keep your head down,
look no one in the eye.
there are two days of time.
the first day
and the last day.
see you when you get out,
unreformed,
but wiser as to the ways
of not getting caught
the next time.

the first day and the last day

in preparation
for serving time in jail.
bring cash.
bring clean underwear,
t-shirts, white
is preferred.
socks.
the rest will be provided.
green jumpsuits,
a spring like mint
for misdemeanor offenders,
a bright summertime
orange for
felony inmates.
two to a one man cell.
one gets the cot,
the other a cozy
corner near
the head and sink.
pillows, sheets and a
striped blanket
will be provided.
no phones.
a thirty minute call is
five dollars.
three squares,
curfew at seven to be
back in your cell.
sixty days, and you're
a free man again.
keep your head down,
look no one in the eye.
there are two days of time.
the first day
and the last day.
see you when you get out,
unreformed,
but wiser as to the ways
of not getting caught
the next time.

the time portal

did I leave a candle
lit, she asks, as i drive
away, already ten miles from her home.
I don't know, I tell her,
you had about twenty of them
going, two or three
in every room.
we have to go back, she says.
the cats might knock one over
and burn the house down.
i turn around and say nothing.
I get very quiet.
i want to say something about
the century we are in.
electricity, lights with switches,
but i don't.
i don't say anything about
the butter churn in her
kitchen either, or the well
in her yard, or the goats
and chicken. it's best not to talk
about these things,
or this sweater she knitted,
how it itches and gives
me a rash.

the time portal

did I leave a candle
lit, she asks, as i drive
away, already ten miles from her home.
I don't know, I tell her,
you had about twenty of them
going, two or three
in every room.
we have to go back, she says.
the cats might knock one over
and burn the house down.
i turn around and say nothing.
I get very quiet.
i want to say something about
the century we are in.
electricity, lights with switches,
but i don't.
i don't say anything about
the butter churn in her
kitchen either, or the well
in her yard, or the goats
and chicken. it's best not to talk
about these things,
or this sweater she knitted,
how it itches and gives
me a rash.

the mirage of you

I have no
interest in the desert.
the hills of white
sand,
cactus,
lizards,
the lack of water
or shade.
the ever present
sun,
white against
the pale blue sky.
my lips are parched
just thinking
about it.
the mirage of you
walking
towards me.



the mirage of you

I have no
interest in the desert.
the hills of white
sand,
cactus,
lizards,
the lack of water
or shade.
the ever present
sun,
white against
the pale blue sky.
my lips are parched
just thinking
about it.
the mirage of you
walking
towards me.



Monday, April 25, 2016

through the glass

each to his own glass
window.
whether cracked
across, never fixed,
fissured,
or spider veined,
or those stained
in ornate colors.
the glass where the bird's
beak hit,
or rock.
the window that never opens.
casement, or wooden,
a lock
on each,
the rounded attic
port, the crank rusted,
the panes thick
like bottles, or thinned
to a wafer.
each to his own way of seeing
the world,
rose colored, or through
the glass
darkly.

through the glass

each to his own glass
window.
whether cracked
across, never fixed,
fissured,
or spider veined,
or those stained
in ornate colors.
the glass where the bird's
beak hit,
or rock.
the window that never opens.
casement, or wooden,
a lock
on each,
the rounded attic
port, the crank rusted,
the panes thick
like bottles, or thinned
to a wafer.
each to his own way of seeing
the world,
rose colored, or through
the glass
darkly.

the starter dog

she wants a dog,
but not a young dog, not a pup,
not yet.
she needs a practice dog.
so she gets a fifteen year
old pug
from the pound,
an hour away from execution.
the thin blue
lenses of his eyes
makes him
bump into doors when he
struggles
to move about the slippery
floor.
he can't hear.
he sleeps and snarls
all day
in his round soft bed,
coughing, wheezing.
he's unwalkable, no tricks,
no nothing
given in return.
isn't he cute, she says,
holding him like the baby,
she'll never have,
his grey fat
body limp in her arms.

the starter dog

she wants a dog,
but not a young dog, not a pup,
not yet.
she needs a practice dog.
so she gets a fifteen year
old pug
from the pound,
an hour away from execution.
the thin blue
lenses of his eyes
makes him
bump into doors when he
struggles
to move about the slippery
floor.
he can't hear.
he sleeps and snarls
all day
in his round soft bed,
coughing, wheezing.
he's unwalkable, no tricks,
no nothing
given in return.
isn't he cute, she says,
holding him like the baby,
she'll never have,
his grey fat
body limp in her arms.

please, stop

my mother, in her fifties, once
began a conversation
about her needs, and by her
needs, i mean
her needs
in an intimate way.
she had recently remarried
a man, who for lack
of a better description
would give Hitler
a run for his money
in the evil department.
he's not a loving man,
she said, we hardly ever...
stop, I told her.
I don't want to hear
anything about this.
I don't want to
have that image in my mind
please, mom.
in fact, let's pretend
this never subject came up.
let's talk about you baking
a cake,
or decorating the Christmas
tree, or
knitting a pair of booties
for one of your
grand kids. in fact, i'd
love to have your
recipe for pot roast, i'll
hold while you get it.

please, stop

my mother, in her fifties, once
began a conversation
about her needs, and by her
needs, i mean
her needs
in an intimate way.
she had recently remarried
a man, who for lack
of a better description
would give Hitler
a run for his money
in the evil department.
he's not a loving man,
she said, we hardly ever...
stop, I told her.
I don't want to hear
anything about this.
I don't want to
have that image in my mind
please, mom.
in fact, let's pretend
this never subject came up.
let's talk about you baking
a cake,
or decorating the Christmas
tree, or
knitting a pair of booties
for one of your
grand kids. in fact, i'd
love to have your
recipe for pot roast, i'll
hold while you get it.

digging a hole to china

your father had all
the answers, such as what would
happen if you kept
digging a hole
in the ground without stopping.
you'd reach china he'd say.
smiling from his lawn chair
in the back yard,
sunning himself, a glass
of ice tea at his side,
talking to our neighbor,
Edwina, about her garden.
her in her red shorts and
white blouse.
he seemed very interested
in her garden.
laughing and talking it up
with her about asparagus,
and lettuce,
tomatoes. it almost
seemed like he was
ignoring your questions,
your ambitious endeavor,
as you dug your hole,
towards china.

digging a hole to china

your father had all
the answers, such as what would
happen if you kept
digging a hole
in the ground without stopping.
you'd reach china he'd say.
smiling from his lawn chair
in the back yard,
sunning himself, a glass
of ice tea at his side,
talking to our neighbor,
Edwina, about her garden.
her in her red shorts and
white blouse.
he seemed very interested
in her garden.
laughing and talking it up
with her about asparagus,
and lettuce,
tomatoes. it almost
seemed like he was
ignoring your questions,
your ambitious endeavor,
as you dug your hole,
towards china.

you look familiar

you can't remember her name.
she looks familiar.
you know her from some where.
maybe you were married
for a short while
in the eighties,
maybe you had children
together, maybe.
but for now, her name
escapes you. the memory
is gone.
have we met you say,
shaking her hand
at the party. you look
like someone I used to know.
so do you, she says.
so do you.

you look familiar

you can't remember her name.
she looks familiar.
you know her from some where.
maybe you were married
for a short while
in the eighties,
maybe you had children
together, maybe.
but for now, her name
escapes you. the memory
is gone.
have we met you say,
shaking her hand
at the party. you look
like someone I used to know.
so do you, she says.
so do you.

permanent press

I notice the ironing
board
in the basement, unused
for years.
what with permanent press
now,
who needs it.
not to mention my casual
island wear
that needs no pressing.
and the iron,
it's silver face,
cold, stone like
on the shelf.
a few drops of water
still inside,
the spray starch, the can
still full,
beside it.
there must be something
I can iron, smooth out
one night.

permanent press

I notice the ironing
board
in the basement, unused
for years.
what with permanent press
now,
who needs it.
not to mention my casual
island wear
that needs no pressing.
and the iron,
it's silver face,
cold, stone like
on the shelf.
a few drops of water
still inside,
the spray starch, the can
still full,
beside it.
there must be something
I can iron, smooth out
one night.

the attaack dog

you check the crime
report to see what kind of
crime
has occurred in your
neighborhood.
some petty thefts,
a tire stolen,
jewelry from a local
business.
a pie is missing from
a window sill.
no serious mayhem
has occurred lately,
but still you lock the door,
turn on the alarm,
position
your attack dachshund
by the window
with his spiked
collar, you notice
blueberry on his nose,
crumbs on his paws.

the attaack dog

you check the crime
report to see what kind of
crime
has occurred in your
neighborhood.
some petty thefts,
a tire stolen,
jewelry from a local
business.
a pie is missing from
a window sill.
no serious mayhem
has occurred lately,
but still you lock the door,
turn on the alarm,
position
your attack dachshund
by the window
with his spiked
collar, you notice
blueberry on his nose,
crumbs on his paws.

no one home

the key won't
turn,
the door won't open.
you knock,
pull and push, you
jiggle the silver
key
against the tumblers.
you peek
through window. you ring
the bell.
say loudly, it's me,
open up.
there is no
one home.
not even you.

no one home

the key won't
turn,
the door won't open.
you knock,
pull and push, you
jiggle the silver
key
against the tumblers.
you peek
through window. you ring
the bell.
say loudly, it's me,
open up.
there is no
one home.
not even you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

changing the world

the man
leaning on the jackhammer,
rattling
his bones,
chopping pavement
in the hot sun,
is happy.
he knows what he
has to do,
and accepts the lot
that life
has given
him. there is no desire
to drive the truck
to be a boss,
to manage men.
this hammer in his hands
pushes all of
that aside.
the world changes
because of him.

changing the world

the man
leaning on the jackhammer,
rattling
his bones,
chopping pavement
in the hot sun,
is happy.
he knows what he
has to do,
and accepts the lot
that life
has given
him. there is no desire
to drive the truck
to be a boss,
to manage men.
this hammer in his hands
pushes all of
that aside.
the world changes
because of him.

it's all good

and you?
what's new?
nothing, nothing.
same old.
how's the kid, work?
things?
good, all good,
can't complain.
that's good.
still with what's his
name.
you mean bill?
yeah.
we're still good.
that's good.
you two are good together.
we are.
and you, seeing anyone?
no, well, sort of.
he's still married,
but getting a divorce as
soon as the kids
are out of school.
well, that's nice.
it's a good start.
yeah,
I have to say that
things are really
really good.
well, I have to run now,
but it's been nice
catching up. it was good
to see you again.
I hope to see you soon.
me too.
yes. have a good day.

it's all good

and you?
what's new?
nothing, nothing.
same old.
how's the kid, work?
things?
good, all good,
can't complain.
that's good.
still with what's his
name.
you mean bill?
yeah.
we're still good.
that's good.
you two are good together.
we are.
and you, seeing anyone?
no, well, sort of.
he's still married,
but getting a divorce as
soon as the kids
are out of school.
well, that's nice.
it's a good start.
yeah,
I have to say that
things are really
really good.
well, I have to run now,
but it's been nice
catching up. it was good
to see you again.
I hope to see you soon.
me too.
yes. have a good day.

the spatula

you called
dibs on licking the spatula
when you're mother made
a cake,
but your sister, who was
smaller
wanted some too.
so you gave her one side,
you had the other.
both of you sat at the near
empty bowl,
happy in the sunlight,
licking
while your mother
slid the pan
into the oven.

the spatula

you called
dibs on licking the spatula
when you're mother made
a cake,
but your sister, who was
smaller
wanted some too.
so you gave her one side,
you had the other.
both of you sat at the near
empty bowl,
happy in the sunlight,
licking
while your mother
slid the pan
into the oven.

just a phone

but he was so smart
they say
of the man, the genius.
yes,
he was basically a bad
person
to his friends, his
children
his wife,
a narcissist to the nth
degree,
but he was so smart.
look at what my phone can
do. I can't live without it.
all because of him.
we are not worthy.

just a phone

but he was so smart
they say
of the man, the genius.
yes,
he was basically a bad
person
to his friends, his
children
his wife,
a narcissist to the nth
degree,
but he was so smart.
look at what my phone can
do. I can't live without it.
all because of him.
we are not worthy.

beach shells

for some reason
I've kept all the shells
we gathered
along
the shore, kept them
lying on the table,
under the light,
white and golden,
some with a silver
shine, black streaked,
flecks of red.
each different.
it's hard to throw them
away, as each good
memory is
of a loved one.

beach shells

for some reason
I've kept all the shells
we gathered
along
the shore, kept them
lying on the table,
under the light,
white and golden,
some with a silver
shine, black streaked,
flecks of red.
each different.
it's hard to throw them
away, as each good
memory is
of a loved one.

keep rowing

there's nothing wrong.
there's a lull,
a gap.
a Saragossa sea
in your life.
the calm
is alarming.
are you in the eye
of the hurricane,
or out
of it.
we'll see, keep
rowing.

keep rowing

there's nothing wrong.
there's a lull,
a gap.
a Saragossa sea
in your life.
the calm
is alarming.
are you in the eye
of the hurricane,
or out
of it.
we'll see, keep
rowing.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

the list of fears

you have feared many things
in your life
over the years.
speaking in public,
speaking in private,
the needle as a child,
the dark closet,
what's under the bed.
death and disease,
losing someone,
someone's cooking.
the alley,
the long way home through
the woods.
bullies.
women, even children
have scared you
with their searching
silver eyes,
blue with the flames
of youth.
the knife, fires.
rats and snakes.
hurting someone, being hurt.
it's a long
list of fears,
add flying to that,
doing seventy on a two lane
highway.
falling, a good book ending.
at times even your mother
has scared you, standing in
her apron at the stove.
your father with whiskey
on his breath, a cut
above his eye.
your son, no longer young,
no longer
needing to hear your words
of wisdom, or wanting
your love.

the list of fears

you have feared many things
in your life
over the years.
speaking in public,
speaking in private,
the needle as a child,
the dark closet,
what's under the bed.
death and disease,
losing someone,
someone's cooking.
the alley,
the long way home through
the woods.
bullies.
women, even children
have scared you
with their searching
silver eyes,
blue with the flames
of youth.
the knife, fires.
rats and snakes.
hurting someone, being hurt.
it's a long
list of fears,
add flying to that,
doing seventy on a two lane
highway.
falling, a good book ending.
at times even your mother
has scared you, standing in
her apron at the stove.
your father with whiskey
on his breath, a cut
above his eye.
your son, no longer young,
no longer
needing to hear your words
of wisdom, or wanting
your love.

finding the middle

as I go off to sin
somewhere
i see ginger pulling into
the church parking lot.
she's an angel
in white. there's an actual
halo over her.
she waves to me with her
Bible, also white,
and shakes her head.
she yells out the window,
i'll pray for you,
to which i yell back,
thanks, slapping cologne
on my face from a bottle
I keep in the glove
compartment.
i need a woman like that
in my life.
if we could only find a middle
ground, somehow.

finding the middle

as I go off to sin
somewhere
i see ginger pulling into
the church parking lot.
she's an angel
in white. there's an actual
halo over her.
she waves to me with her
Bible, also white,
and shakes her head.
she yells out the window,
i'll pray for you,
to which i yell back,
thanks, slapping cologne
on my face from a bottle
I keep in the glove
compartment.
i need a woman like that
in my life.
if we could only find a middle
ground, somehow.

back seat betty

he loves
to smoke, holding the freshly lit
cigarette
out the window
of his old
Cadillac.
the ashtray is full
of grey dust,
butts bent over,
some with lipstick
on them.
I hold one up to him
as he drives
along,
betty he says, staring
at the butt.
we went out last night.
I look in
the back seat.
some of betty's clothes
are back there.
shoes, a skirt.
an empty bottle of merlot.
he lights another
cigarette with the one
he's smoking,
crushing the old
one into the ashtray,
what can I say, he says.
blowing a string of smoke
rings at the windshield.
we can't seem to
stay away from one
another.

back seat betty

he loves
to smoke, holding the freshly lit
cigarette
out the window
of his old
Cadillac.
the ashtray is full
of grey dust,
butts bent over,
some with lipstick
on them.
I hold one up to him
as he drives
along,
betty he says, staring
at the butt.
we went out last night.
I look in
the back seat.
some of betty's clothes
are back there.
shoes, a skirt.
an empty bottle of merlot.
he lights another
cigarette with the one
he's smoking,
crushing the old
one into the ashtray,
what can I say, he says.
blowing a string of smoke
rings at the windshield.
we can't seem to
stay away from one
another.

her man in black

all day she listens
to johnny cash,
his endless playlist of songs,
she turns up her phone,
I love him,
she says.
the way he sings, wears
black.
a man's man.
I love his deep voice,
the way
he stands tall
in the saddle. I really
like that.
it's not singing, I say,
begging to disagree.
it's more like
talking.
I could talk like that
if I smoked enough
cigarettes and drank
enough scotch.
you're no johnny cash
she says
and you'll never be,
so don't even go there.
watch me play this washboard
I tell her,
dragging a scrub
brush across it then
lowering my voice
to a low low point of
sexiness.

her man in black

all day she listens
to johnny cash,
his endless playlist of songs,
she turns up her phone,
I love him,
she says.
the way he sings, wears
black.
a man's man.
I love his deep voice,
the way
he stands tall
in the saddle. I really
like that.
it's not singing, I say,
begging to disagree.
it's more like
talking.
I could talk like that
if I smoked enough
cigarettes and drank
enough scotch.
you're no johnny cash
she says
and you'll never be,
so don't even go there.
watch me play this washboard
I tell her,
dragging a scrub
brush across it then
lowering my voice
to a low low point of
sexiness.

the great barn

she envisions dancing,
weddings,
events in black tie,
she points to where the band
will play
under the arch
of the great barn,
the beams of wood
still solid
after a hundred years.
her eyes
go around the empty room,
as she points
at where the tables
will stand,
the art, the lamps,
the flowers.
the kitchen will bring up
food,
we'll open
up the barn doors on nice
nights
and let the moon come
through. it will be grand,
she says.
you'll see, watching
as a bat
beats its leathery wings
across the room.

the great barn

she envisions dancing,
weddings,
events in black tie,
she points to where the band
will play
under the arch
of the great barn,
the beams of wood
still solid
after a hundred years.
her eyes
go around the empty room,
as she points
at where the tables
will stand,
the art, the lamps,
the flowers.
the kitchen will bring up
food,
we'll open
up the barn doors on nice
nights
and let the moon come
through. it will be grand,
she says.
you'll see, watching
as a bat
beats its leathery wings
across the room.

the baby shower gift

maybe if you weren't so
lazy and stupid
you'd understand what i'm trying
to tell you,
your soul mate Carla
says to you
as you bend over and try to get
a knot our of your shoe.
you don't listen to me,
you never do, you just nod
and say okay, or uh huh.
you ignore me when i'm trying
to tell you something.
you know we have a baby shower
to go to today,
and you were supposed to pick
up a gift
at the baby store, but did you
do it? no. once again, you've
proven to me who you are.
now i'm stuck and off you go to
play softball with your equally
stupid friends.
what time will you be back?
i'm not cooking dinner tonight,
I won't have time.
I don't know, maybe never.
okay, well have fun.
kiss me on the cheek, I don't
want you to mess up my lipstick.

the baby shower gift

maybe if you weren't so
lazy and stupid
you'd understand what i'm trying
to tell you,
your soul mate Carla
says to you
as you bend over and try to get
a knot our of your shoe.
you don't listen to me,
you never do, you just nod
and say okay, or uh huh.
you ignore me when i'm trying
to tell you something.
you know we have a baby shower
to go to today,
and you were supposed to pick
up a gift
at the baby store, but did you
do it? no. once again, you've
proven to me who you are.
now i'm stuck and off you go to
play softball with your equally
stupid friends.
what time will you be back?
i'm not cooking dinner tonight,
I won't have time.
I don't know, maybe never.
okay, well have fun.
kiss me on the cheek, I don't
want you to mess up my lipstick.

look at those arms

you stand in front
of the mirror
in the morning, still wet
from the shower
and admire your arms.
what nice arms
you have, you say to no
one, flexing them,
curling your fist,
stretching them out like
a weight lifter on
the beach. people should
like you for your
arms alone
and ignore the rest.
it's a good thought to
begin the day with.

look at those arms

you stand in front
of the mirror
in the morning, still wet
from the shower
and admire your arms.
what nice arms
you have, you say to no
one, flexing them,
curling your fist,
stretching them out like
a weight lifter on
the beach. people should
like you for your
arms alone
and ignore the rest.
it's a good thought to
begin the day with.

surprised

the roasted chicken,
half cut
surprises you in the morning
when you see it through
the little window,
still in the oven,
one leg in the air.
all night resting in the shallow
pain.
it smells good,
but you suspect it's gone
bad. you are always
surprised when things
go bad,
sour milk, bread
tinged in green,
the lettuce, browned
and limp. us.

surprised

the roasted chicken,
half cut
surprises you in the morning
when you see it through
the little window,
still in the oven,
one leg in the air.
all night resting in the shallow
pain.
it smells good,
but you suspect it's gone
bad. you are always
surprised when things
go bad,
sour milk, bread
tinged in green,
the lettuce, browned
and limp. us.

shelf life

the extinction
of life,
animals, birds, species
of fish.
due to climate change,
or us,
meteors
falling from the sky,
is fine.
there is a shelf life
to everything.
from shoes to love.
be glad there is no
brontosaurus
still alive, lumbering
down the road
in the morning, mindlessly
crushing cars,
delaying traffic
on 395.

shelf life

the extinction
of life,
animals, birds, species
of fish.
due to climate change,
or us,
meteors
falling from the sky,
is fine.
there is a shelf life
to everything.
from shoes to love.
be glad there is no
brontosaurus
still alive, lumbering
down the road
in the morning, mindlessly
crushing cars,
delaying traffic
on 395.

Friday, April 22, 2016

knee against knee

it's easy
to see who is or isn't
getting
it.
and by it, I mean it.
the faces tell
all.
the spring in the step,
the smile,
the gaze,
that far away look
of happiness.
thinking about the last
time
and when the next time
might occur.
hands held,
shoulders nuzzled,
knee against knee
beneath
the table.

knee against knee

it's easy
to see who is or isn't
getting
it.
and by it, I mean it.
the faces tell
all.
the spring in the step,
the smile,
the gaze,
that far away look
of happiness.
thinking about the last
time
and when the next time
might occur.
hands held,
shoulders nuzzled,
knee against knee
beneath
the table.

letting it go

the old horse.
sweet and shy,
the sway back brown horse.
flies
batted by a stiff tail.
eyes matted
with tears gone yellow.
unable to walk
far.
away from the smell,
the end of life,
hardly making it to the back
fence to lie
down and die.
but she did. she did.
despite
all efforts to keep
her standing
in the stall,
to gnaw carrots and be
brushed by
a kind unwilling hand.

letting it go

the old horse.
sweet and shy,
the sway back brown horse.
flies
batted by a stiff tail.
eyes matted
with tears gone yellow.
unable to walk
far.
away from the smell,
the end of life,
hardly making it to the back
fence to lie
down and die.
but she did. she did.
despite
all efforts to keep
her standing
in the stall,
to gnaw carrots and be
brushed by
a kind unwilling hand.

in orange again

I made a plea bargain
he tells you on the phone.
my court date
was yesterday.
so i'm going back
into the jump
in may.
if you have any work
before then let me know.
it's a ninety day stretch
this time,
but I could use a break.
three squares,
laundry done, some clean
living
behind bars.
let me know, I need some
cash
for the commissary, for
cards,
for dice to roll.

in orange again

I made a plea bargain
he tells you on the phone.
my court date
was yesterday.
so i'm going back
into the jump
in may.
if you have any work
before then let me know.
it's a ninety day stretch
this time,
but I could use a break.
three squares,
laundry done, some clean
living
behind bars.
let me know, I need some
cash
for the commissary, for
cards,
for dice to roll.

work and money

I've known people
who love to work.
whether selling shoes, or
shoveling coal,
cars, or meat,
encyclopedias door to door.
they get lost
in work.
a safe haven from others.
from small talk,
from love,
from pain.
the steel mill, the farm,
hands on the potter's wheel,
sunrise to sunset.
work
and money. work and money.
all day long.

work and money

I've known people
who love to work.
whether selling shoes, or
shoveling coal,
cars, or meat,
encyclopedias door to door.
they get lost
in work.
a safe haven from others.
from small talk,
from love,
from pain.
the steel mill, the farm,
hands on the potter's wheel,
sunrise to sunset.
work
and money. work and money.
all day long.

alice

if you don't have anything
nice to say
about someone,
come sit next to me,
alice often said.
she lived to be
an old woman,
skin and bone,
a recluse in the end.
bitter and brittle.
but sharp.
sharp teeth, sharp elbows.
how nice or painful
it would have been to
have known her.
the things you could have
unlearned.

alice

if you don't have anything
nice to say
about someone,
come sit next to me,
alice often said.
she lived to be
an old woman,
skin and bone,
a recluse in the end.
bitter and brittle.
but sharp.
sharp teeth, sharp elbows.
how nice or painful
it would have been to
have known her.
the things you could have
unlearned.

fast food

the pigeons
are fat.
the rats too, bellies dragging,
they lumber in twilight
towards
the park cans,
the dumpsters in the alley.
the people too
are large.
the eating is endless.
the drinking.
there is no more planting
or plowing,
or harvesting.
not a muscle used
to eat.
it's yelling into a speaker
as you drive
through the narrow
turn.
holding money out to
a woman
in the window.
her arms too short, too
large
to give you your change.

fast food

the pigeons
are fat.
the rats too, bellies dragging,
they lumber in twilight
towards
the park cans,
the dumpsters in the alley.
the people too
are large.
the eating is endless.
the drinking.
there is no more planting
or plowing,
or harvesting.
not a muscle used
to eat.
it's yelling into a speaker
as you drive
through the narrow
turn.
holding money out to
a woman
in the window.
her arms too short, too
large
to give you your change.

an rx of sorts

normally,
you can eat three slices of pizza
from the large
box delivered,
still hot, not piping hot,
but hot enough that you don't
have to turn the oven on
and reheat the slices.
tonight though,
you eat five pieces.
somethings is bothering you.
it's an emotional thing,
with you and pizza.
you doubled down on the meat
too.
pepperoni and Italian sausage.
tired of diet ice tea
you go for the coke
in a liter bottle,
twelve tea spoons of sugar in every
glass, you mumble to yourself
as you pour the carbonated
brown sugar water
onto ice.
so what.
you are unsettled about the day,
the week.
people.
pizza and coke seem to help.
an rx of sorts.

an rx of sorts

normally,
you can eat three slices of pizza
from the large
box delivered,
still hot, not piping hot,
but hot enough that you don't
have to turn the oven on
and reheat the slices.
tonight though,
you eat five pieces.
somethings is bothering you.
it's an emotional thing,
with you and pizza.
you doubled down on the meat
too.
pepperoni and Italian sausage.
tired of diet ice tea
you go for the coke
in a liter bottle,
twelve tea spoons of sugar in every
glass, you mumble to yourself
as you pour the carbonated
brown sugar water
onto ice.
so what.
you are unsettled about the day,
the week.
people.
pizza and coke seem to help.
an rx of sorts.

the gift

they want you to take
your shoes off
before entering the house.
three dogs,
two cats and a white rabbit roam freely.
you sit at the bottom
of their stairs
and untie your shoes.
your clean shoes.
your new shoes.
you set them in the row
next to their shoes.
they stare at your socks
and look at one another
before saying as one,
come in.
it's okay to come in now.
the rug is old,
the color of oatmeal
sprinkled with brown sugar.
strands of it dangle
in the air like weeds.
you are confused,
but accepting of crazy people.
it's a gift you have.

the gift

they want you to take
your shoes off
before entering the house.
three dogs,
two cats and a white rabbit roam freely.
you sit at the bottom
of their stairs
and untie your shoes.
your clean shoes.
your new shoes.
you set them in the row
next to their shoes.
they stare at your socks
and look at one another
before saying as one,
come in.
it's okay to come in now.
the rug is old,
the color of oatmeal
sprinkled with brown sugar.
strands of it dangle
in the air like weeds.
you are confused,
but accepting of crazy people.
it's a gift you have.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

tell me about it

if you talk to enough
people
long enough and give them
a drink or two,
or three,
you'll see they are no
different
than you, or anyone else.
the problems are all the same.
the anxiety and angst
not original.
friends and work,
money,
illness, parents and children.
siblings.
it's an easy list
of troubles.
live long enough and you're
on it,
or living with it, telling
someone about it.

tell me about it

if you talk to enough
people
long enough and give them
a drink or two,
or three,
you'll see they are no
different
than you, or anyone else.
the problems are all the same.
the anxiety and angst
not original.
friends and work,
money,
illness, parents and children.
siblings.
it's an easy list
of troubles.
live long enough and you're
on it,
or living with it, telling
someone about it.

between the lines

it's the wrist
against the car, polishing,
giving shine,
the broom
pulled against
the floor
corralling dirt,
it's the brush against
a wall,
being pulled down
then up,
applying paint.
it's the motion of an arm
reaching out
to take a dollar
to give a ticket,
it's the wave of the ocean,
persistent,
doing what it was born to do.
it's the mundane
that fills
the world, the rest,
love and death, art,
falls between the lines.

between the lines

it's the wrist
against the car, polishing,
giving shine,
the broom
pulled against
the floor
corralling dirt,
it's the brush against
a wall,
being pulled down
then up,
applying paint.
it's the motion of an arm
reaching out
to take a dollar
to give a ticket,
it's the wave of the ocean,
persistent,
doing what it was born to do.
it's the mundane
that fills
the world, the rest,
love and death, art,
falls between the lines.

old boots

i'm done with these boots.
but not done.
not completely.
they sit on the bottom step,
the laces knotted,
the soles muddy,
dried and grey.
the fabric worn,
a tear where
my leg would slide
into the bottom, my foot
snug and warm.
i'm done with them,
but not completely.
i'll let them sit for awhile
where they are.
it's something I do with
everything,
everyone.


old boots

i'm done with these boots.
but not done.
not completely.
they sit on the bottom step,
the laces knotted,
the soles muddy,
dried and grey.
the fabric worn,
a tear where
my leg would slide
into the bottom, my foot
snug and warm.
i'm done with them,
but not completely.
i'll let them sit for awhile
where they are.
it's something I do with
everything,
everyone.


going home

it takes time
to drive home, the curve
of mountains,
the slice of road through rocks.
a coined moon,
as silver and polished
white
as any moon seen.
it takes time to get home,
to find my way
through
tunnels, over the rattled bridges,
past the farm yards,
the lights already
out as everyone but you
is asleep.
it takes time to get home,
to travel alone,
the miles clicking past,
as you wait
by the window,
patiently for me.

going home

it takes time
to drive home, the curve
of mountains,
the slice of road through rocks.
a coined moon,
as silver and polished
white
as any moon seen.
it takes time to get home,
to find my way
through
tunnels, over the rattled bridges,
past the farm yards,
the lights already
out as everyone but you
is asleep.
it takes time to get home,
to travel alone,
the miles clicking past,
as you wait
by the window,
patiently for me.

the baker

it's less
about the kneading of dough,
the rolling
and cutting
into stars
and flowers, it's not
about the baking,
the rising,
the sweets of it all,
the icing.
it's beyond that now,
beyond
the pleasure of smiles
as they bite
into each new pastry,
nodding yes.
it's something else. it's
a way of life,
a way of living
without being told to stay
or go home.

the baker

it's less
about the kneading of dough,
the rolling
and cutting
into stars
and flowers, it's not
about the baking,
the rising,
the sweets of it all,
the icing.
it's beyond that now,
beyond
the pleasure of smiles
as they bite
into each new pastry,
nodding yes.
it's something else. it's
a way of life,
a way of living
without being told to stay
or go home.

they yellow plague

the yellow
dusting of spring
across
the cars, the sills,
puddling
in dry pools upon
each street.
the tentacles
of pollen
making your eyes
water,
making
you sneeze, cough
as you breathe.
it makes
you want the ocean.
the deep blue
cold.
the comfort of waves
embracing
you
bringing you back
to life.

they yellow plague

the yellow
dusting of spring
across
the cars, the sills,
puddling
in dry pools upon
each street.
the tentacles
of pollen
making your eyes
water,
making
you sneeze, cough
as you breathe.
it makes
you want the ocean.
the deep blue
cold.
the comfort of waves
embracing
you
bringing you back
to life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

the marriage begins


in the new house
he measures
from top to bottom.
carefully,
side to side.
presses
tape into an x
where he decides to
hang
the picture,
as discussed.
he takes the nail
that waits
between his clenched
teeth
then drives it with
a hammer
into the wall.
the picture goes up,
balanced on a stiff wire.
he stands back.
she comes into the room
and says no.
we need to move it three
inches to the left.
the marriage begins.

the marriage begins


in the new house
he measures
from top to bottom.
carefully,
side to side.
presses
tape into an x
where he decides to
hang
the picture,
as discussed.
he takes the nail
that waits
between his clenched
teeth
then drives it with
a hammer
into the wall.
the picture goes up,
balanced on a stiff wire.
he stands back.
she comes into the room
and says no.
we need to move it three
inches to the left.
the marriage begins.

running to the bank

some how you finish
the job
you're on
and get paid. having gone through
the myriad of
touch ups,
lines more accurately drawn.
filled in holes, again,
sanded, smoothed
the walls
and doors, beyond
reason.
somehow you've answered
every torn piece of blue
tape
the owner stuck
on each spot that concerned
him.
hundreds of torn strips,
some made into arrows,
pointing at the ceiling.
shadows that come and go.
a flurry of blue,
is that pin sized drip from
me or you?
he politely asks,
while you scrub
at an invisible spot
on the floor.

running to the bank

some how you finish
the job
you're on
and get paid. having gone through
the myriad of
touch ups,
lines more accurately drawn.
filled in holes, again,
sanded, smoothed
the walls
and doors, beyond
reason.
somehow you've answered
every torn piece of blue
tape
the owner stuck
on each spot that concerned
him.
hundreds of torn strips,
some made into arrows,
pointing at the ceiling.
shadows that come and go.
a flurry of blue,
is that pin sized drip from
me or you?
he politely asks,
while you scrub
at an invisible spot
on the floor.

the art of art

I've tried
art.
mangled a few dozen
canvases
with landscapes, sea
scapes
of roiling waves,
gulls,
a cove, out of focus
sail boats,
and blotted
swimmers. I've tried
to go the Hopper
route,
simple and sparse.
a story
between the lines of
nothing.
but failed.
Jackson Pollock is
more my speed, my
cup of tea,
spilling,
tossing paint, straddling
the white board,
splattering
is all
about me.

the art of art

I've tried
art.
mangled a few dozen
canvases
with landscapes, sea
scapes
of roiling waves,
gulls,
a cove, out of focus
sail boats,
and blotted
swimmers. I've tried
to go the Hopper
route,
simple and sparse.
a story
between the lines of
nothing.
but failed.
Jackson Pollock is
more my speed, my
cup of tea,
spilling,
tossing paint, straddling
the white board,
splattering
is all
about me.

not knowing

it's the unknown
that's
unsettling, what lies
beneath
the sea,
the still lake,
what's beyond our sight
or reach.
so much
is unknowable.
the dark side of the moon,
the stars
already gone.
so much unlearned
or seen
until it happens
or you arrive.

not knowing

it's the unknown
that's
unsettling, what lies
beneath
the sea,
the still lake,
what's beyond our sight
or reach.
so much
is unknowable.
the dark side of the moon,
the stars
already gone.
so much unlearned
or seen
until it happens
or you arrive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

the apple

each apple
to its own destiny.
its own
way of life.
being picked or
chosen
to go on, or left
to ripen
on the tree
then falling to
the ground unused.
sometimes it seems
less a choice
and more
of what's written
before you
were born.

the apple

each apple
to its own destiny.
its own
way of life.
being picked or
chosen
to go on, or left
to ripen
on the tree
then falling to
the ground unused.
sometimes it seems
less a choice
and more
of what's written
before you
were born.

forgiveness

the man
who parked his car
in the center lane
then threw himself off
the bridge
left a note
apologizing for backing
up traffic.
it was a list of
apologies.
sorry to his wife,
his children,
his parents, everyone
he had let down
in his life.
he was sorry for disappointing
anyone since birth.
but he lived
and everyone in time
forgave him,
everyone
but those stuck in
traffic
on the bridge for
five hours.

forgiveness

the man
who parked his car
in the center lane
then threw himself off
the bridge
left a note
apologizing for backing
up traffic.
it was a list of
apologies.
sorry to his wife,
his children,
his parents, everyone
he had let down
in his life.
he was sorry for disappointing
anyone since birth.
but he lived
and everyone in time
forgave him,
everyone
but those stuck in
traffic
on the bridge for
five hours.

Monday, April 18, 2016

how's the weather

despite your mother's
life long fascination
with the weather,
the weather channel
being her source
as well as the window
out to her backyard
where snow would rise,
rain would puddle,
winds would bend her trees,
it is the inside weather
that concerns her now.
the heat
within, or cold. that breeze
from an open door or fan
above the table.
the thermostat raised
or lowered
by a strange hand, someone
she sees everyday,
and yet still
doesn't know. how you miss
her asking,
from seven miles away,
is it snowing
there too?

how's the weather

despite your mother's
life long fascination
with the weather,
the weather channel
being her source
as well as the window
out to her backyard
where snow would rise,
rain would puddle,
winds would bend her trees,
it is the inside weather
that concerns her now.
the heat
within, or cold. that breeze
from an open door or fan
above the table.
the thermostat raised
or lowered
by a strange hand, someone
she sees everyday,
and yet still
doesn't know. how you miss
her asking,
from seven miles away,
is it snowing
there too?

the old police car

a car, a former
police car with large wheels,
black
and dull,
the searchlight still
on the door.
decals removed.
baby moons. an elderly couple
inside.
the man at the wheel
swings it into
a spot beside you.
fast and smooth.
when he gets out you see
that he no arms.
he's wearing slippers,
not shoes.
into Walgreens they go.
the same as anyone
in an old p0lice car
going down the road.

the old police car

a car, a former
police car with large wheels,
black
and dull,
the searchlight still
on the door.
decals removed.
baby moons. an elderly couple
inside.
the man at the wheel
swings it into
a spot beside you.
fast and smooth.
when he gets out you see
that he no arms.
he's wearing slippers,
not shoes.
into Walgreens they go.
the same as anyone
in an old p0lice car
going down the road.

nothing

the televangelist
tells the audience to put
their hands
on the television.
to reach out
and surrender, to ask
that their
bursitis be gone.
get out your checkbooks.
I know it's you, he says,
eyes popping out,
a band of sweat
across his tanned brow.
there is someone
out there with a hurt knee,
he must come
forward
and kneel and touch
the screen.
I feel another man with
blurred vision,
come, come closer, believe
and see more clearly.
there is music
and speaking in tongues.
there is chaos.
you don't want to get up,
but you put your
slice of pizza
and beer down and go
to the tv. you touch
to top of it,
concentrating on your shoulder.
nothing.

nothing

the televangelist
tells the audience to put
their hands
on the television.
to reach out
and surrender, to ask
that their
bursitis be gone.
get out your checkbooks.
I know it's you, he says,
eyes popping out,
a band of sweat
across his tanned brow.
there is someone
out there with a hurt knee,
he must come
forward
and kneel and touch
the screen.
I feel another man with
blurred vision,
come, come closer, believe
and see more clearly.
there is music
and speaking in tongues.
there is chaos.
you don't want to get up,
but you put your
slice of pizza
and beer down and go
to the tv. you touch
to top of it,
concentrating on your shoulder.
nothing.

the healing

healing takes time.
more time
now than it did when you
were twenty
or even thirty.
the pain lingers,
the joints and tissues
taking their
time to mend, to send
the blood through,
to heal.
not so the heart though,
acceptance
works wonders
when moving on.
the heart has a memory
of how it's done,
becoming more
efficient with each love
gone.

the healing

healing takes time.
more time
now than it did when you
were twenty
or even thirty.
the pain lingers,
the joints and tissues
taking their
time to mend, to send
the blood through,
to heal.
not so the heart though,
acceptance
works wonders
when moving on.
the heart has a memory
of how it's done,
becoming more
efficient with each love
gone.

stick or snake

discerning stick from snake
is not an
easy thing to do when
riding fast
on your bike
down the wooded path.
it's not unlike
the day, the business
of the day,
discerning who will
bite, and be poisonous
and who
will be easy, making you
unafraid.

stick or snake

discerning stick from snake
is not an
easy thing to do when
riding fast
on your bike
down the wooded path.
it's not unlike
the day, the business
of the day,
discerning who will
bite, and be poisonous
and who
will be easy, making you
unafraid.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

getting saved

on sundays,
after your older brother
found God,
was saved, after he
applied the stickers to his
car,
He is risen, said one,
all will kneel
said another,
on sundays, in his new
suit,
his bow tie,
he'd pull back the sheets
and covers
from your tired
body
and say, get up, we're
all going to
church.
he'd go from room to room,
waking everyone.
his new Bible under his arm,
the gleam
in his eye boring through
you,
as you lay still,
hungover
from last night,
the scent of sarah
still
on your mind.

getting saved

on sundays,
after your older brother
found God,
was saved, after he
applied the stickers to his
car,
He is risen, said one,
all will kneel
said another,
on sundays, in his new
suit,
his bow tie,
he'd pull back the sheets
and covers
from your tired
body
and say, get up, we're
all going to
church.
he'd go from room to room,
waking everyone.
his new Bible under his arm,
the gleam
in his eye boring through
you,
as you lay still,
hungover
from last night,
the scent of sarah
still
on your mind.