Tuesday, May 31, 2016

so was she

a box
within a box, within
another box.
tied in ribbons.
beautiful paper,
cut and taped
to perfection.
nothing rattles,
or shakes,
or moves within.
empty,
but it's very
pretty.
very nice.
so was she.

so was she

a box
within a box, within
another box.
tied in ribbons.
beautiful paper,
cut and taped
to perfection.
nothing rattles,
or shakes,
or moves within.
empty,
but it's very
pretty.
very nice.
so was she.

post office top ten

as a kid
I liked to look at the wanted
posters
stapled to the bulletin
board
at the post office
while my mother sent a letter,
or bought stamps.
every criminal looked like
lee Harvey Oswald
back then.
skinny and bewildered.
each with three names,
and a white
t shirt that i imagined
was yellowed
around the collar,
maybe it had a ketchup
stain on it too.
criminals looked skinny,
unmuscled
except for the occasional
fat cat
like capone.
wanted by the FBI
the poster read.
the top ten.
i imagined the next
ten were even worse for wear.

post office top ten

as a kid
I liked to look at the wanted
posters
stapled to the bulletin
board
at the post office
while my mother sent a letter,
or bought stamps.
every criminal looked like
lee Harvey Oswald
back then.
skinny and bewildered.
each with three names,
and a white
t shirt that i imagined
was yellowed
around the collar,
maybe it had a ketchup
stain on it too.
criminals looked skinny,
unmuscled
except for the occasional
fat cat
like capone.
wanted by the FBI
the poster read.
the top ten.
i imagined the next
ten were even worse for wear.

thin mints delivery

thin mints
come to you in long narrow
boxes.
you ordered six.
it's only you,
but you'll find a way
to make
them disappear.
the girl
scout is happy.
she checks you off her
list.
her father behind
her,
making sure
the money's good.
time to pour a cold glass
of milk.

thin mints delivery

thin mints
come to you in long narrow
boxes.
you ordered six.
it's only you,
but you'll find a way
to make
them disappear.
the girl
scout is happy.
she checks you off her
list.
her father behind
her,
making sure
the money's good.
time to pour a cold glass
of milk.

never out from under it

her broken foot,
her broken heart,
her troubled children,
the mice,
the bugs, a lost job.
the wet clothes
left
in the machine.
the lights go off,
the bills
not paid, the bounced check.
there's rust
in the pipes,
a towed car,
a key mislaid.
the broken tooth,
the busted
lip,
the dog has escaped,
there he goes,
without a collar,
without a leash,
to die in the street.

never out from under it

her broken foot,
her broken heart,
her troubled children,
the mice,
the bugs, a lost job.
the wet clothes
left
in the machine.
the lights go off,
the bills
not paid, the bounced check.
there's rust
in the pipes,
a towed car,
a key mislaid.
the broken tooth,
the busted
lip,
the dog has escaped,
there he goes,
without a collar,
without a leash,
to die in the street.

summer carnival

the summer carnival appears
in the far end
of the parking lot of the abandoned
mall.
a small mirage.
it rises on rusted
bones.
tired arms, blue with smudged
tattoos
gone old.
the lights flicker on.
candy swirled like
cotton burns sweetly
in the summer air.
hard scrabbled men and women,
luckless at love
and cards
take tickets,
some without thumbs,
or eyes.
others toothless under
the stars. it's show business.
the music starts, a pinging,
a clang,
a chugging of rides,
the children
arrive.

summer carnival

the summer carnival appears
in the far end
of the parking lot of the abandoned
mall.
a small mirage.
it rises on rusted
bones.
tired arms, blue with smudged
tattoos
gone old.
the lights flicker on.
candy swirled like
cotton burns sweetly
in the summer air.
hard scrabbled men and women,
luckless at love
and cards
take tickets,
some without thumbs,
or eyes.
others toothless under
the stars. it's show business.
the music starts, a pinging,
a clang,
a chugging of rides,
the children
arrive.

intuition

you have an inkling.
a tingle
of knowledge, a hunch
perhaps.
a foreshadowing
of events
yet to transpire.
you keep it hidden.
a pebble
under your tongue
a dollar
folded and tucked
into the small
pocket never used.
you know.
you know.
you know.

intuition

you have an inkling.
a tingle
of knowledge, a hunch
perhaps.
a foreshadowing
of events
yet to transpire.
you keep it hidden.
a pebble
under your tongue
a dollar
folded and tucked
into the small
pocket never used.
you know.
you know.
you know.

under the bridge

longingly he speaks
of the fish he caught
before dark.
along the river, hip deep
in water,
he says how silver it was
under the bridge.
how it fought for its life.
struggled
not to drown in the air
it rose into.
he talks about how gently
he carved it in two.
the head off, it's
belly opened by his sharp
knife.
the bones separated by his
hands with care.
with love he talks
about this fish,
how it crackled over the fire.
the butter it absorbed,
how it tasted
on his dry lips.
and then with his belly
full, and drink
in hand, he spoke of
how wonderful the world
is when in love.

under the bridge

longingly he speaks
of the fish he caught
before dark.
along the river, hip deep
in water,
he says how silver it was
under the bridge.
how it fought for its life.
struggled
not to drown in the air
it rose into.
he talks about how gently
he carved it in two.
the head off, it's
belly opened by his sharp
knife.
the bones separated by his
hands with care.
with love he talks
about this fish,
how it crackled over the fire.
the butter it absorbed,
how it tasted
on his dry lips.
and then with his belly
full, and drink
in hand, he spoke of
how wonderful the world
is when in love.

the night

the night
is sinister. the vampires
are out.
blood lust
in their yellowed
eyes.
lovers are betrayed
on nights like
this.
the hard rain
is nothing but a curtain
of cold.
the night
is full of us in mischief,
full
of drink, full
of the dark side
of the moon.
our skin crawls, our
bellies ache.
we have just begun to
wander,
to be young,
ready to proceed, to make
our mistakes.

the night

the night
is sinister. the vampires
are out.
blood lust
in their yellowed
eyes.
lovers are betrayed
on nights like
this.
the hard rain
is nothing but a curtain
of cold.
the night
is full of us in mischief,
full
of drink, full
of the dark side
of the moon.
our skin crawls, our
bellies ache.
we have just begun to
wander,
to be young,
ready to proceed, to make
our mistakes.

the other shoe

the other shoe
will fall, no worries there.
no hurry.
let it happen,
there is nothing
to do
to stop it.
it's part of moving forward.
onward,
towards
the place where you are going.
the other shoe
will drop,
let it and be brave.

the other shoe

the other shoe
will fall, no worries there.
no hurry.
let it happen,
there is nothing
to do
to stop it.
it's part of moving forward.
onward,
towards
the place where you are going.
the other shoe
will drop,
let it and be brave.

Monday, May 30, 2016

the shark

when I see
the shark, his cold shadow
upon the sand,
his teeth long and sharp
pink
with blood
and the debris
of others
in his gaping mouth,
I do nothing,
but stand still in the shallow
sea.
fear turning my legs
to ice.
death swings by so closely,
rubbing its sand paper
skin, the narrowed gills,
against me.
those buttoned eyes,
without a blink.
It passes, I stagger in to sit
upon the shore.
shivering with all limbs
still attached.
my luck that he wasn't hungry
for more.

the shark

when I see
the shark, his cold shadow
upon the sand,
his teeth long and sharp
pink
with blood
and the debris
of others
in his gaping mouth,
I do nothing,
but stand still in the shallow
sea.
fear turning my legs
to ice.
death swings by so closely,
rubbing its sand paper
skin, the narrowed gills,
against me.
those buttoned eyes,
without a blink.
It passes, I stagger in to sit
upon the shore.
shivering with all limbs
still attached.
my luck that he wasn't hungry
for more.

the apparition

the postcard
finally arrives, she's been ghosting
you for years.
a wisp
in the wind of
yesterday.
and now this, this handwritten
note on the back
of a card
sent from somewhere
far away.
hello, it says. how are you?
hope you are well.
then the word love,
and her name, you fold it
for the fire.
not even taking the time
to watch it burn.

the apparition

the postcard
finally arrives, she's been ghosting
you for years.
a wisp
in the wind of
yesterday.
and now this, this handwritten
note on the back
of a card
sent from somewhere
far away.
hello, it says. how are you?
hope you are well.
then the word love,
and her name, you fold it
for the fire.
not even taking the time
to watch it burn.

the whip

the whip
of the world is upon you
for much
of your life.
from start to finish,
everything must
be learned,
everything must be earned.
there is no
other way.
despite the dole, the safety
net
of goodwill, good intentions.
it's still
putting on one
boot at a time
and working.

the whip

the whip
of the world is upon you
for much
of your life.
from start to finish,
everything must
be learned,
everything must be earned.
there is no
other way.
despite the dole, the safety
net
of goodwill, good intentions.
it's still
putting on one
boot at a time
and working.

the fall

her snowy
hair, her brittle arms,
the broken
hip
tossing her sideways
to the curb.
the ambulance
arriving,
taking her away.
how close we are to
that.
how fast
the moon rises and sets
upon our
lives.

the fall

her snowy
hair, her brittle arms,
the broken
hip
tossing her sideways
to the curb.
the ambulance
arriving,
taking her away.
how close we are to
that.
how fast
the moon rises and sets
upon our
lives.

the open road

the open road
once appealed to me.
discovering what's beyond
this town.
I like detours
now.
closed roads.
roads that have endings
where there is a place
to sit
and rest, to eat and drink
and when night
arrives,
to sleep. I scissor
the map into a circle.
that's far enough.

the open road

the open road
once appealed to me.
discovering what's beyond
this town.
I like detours
now.
closed roads.
roads that have endings
where there is a place
to sit
and rest, to eat and drink
and when night
arrives,
to sleep. I scissor
the map into a circle.
that's far enough.

red ants

you are anxious to leave
the picnic
when you arrive
not liking
the small talk, the big
talk
of politics
and life. you flick a red
ant off your leg,
shaking your foot
to rid yourself of more.
the opinions spoken are
set in stone.
a dog licks your knee.
no one is swayed or giving
in
to a new way
of thinking. someone mentions
the native americans
another abortion,
as she brings out an
apple pie
to set in the middle of the table.
there are soap boxes
around the yard
each
taking a turn,
fueled by beer, or
margaritas.
someone yells, the hot
dogs are ready.
which gives
every one a break
from being so smart
and well
informed, squeezing
mustard
onto the grill striped
meat rolled onto a bun.

red ants

you are anxious to leave
the picnic
when you arrive
not liking
the small talk, the big
talk
of politics
and life. you flick a red
ant off your leg,
shaking your foot
to rid yourself of more.
the opinions spoken are
set in stone.
a dog licks your knee.
no one is swayed or giving
in
to a new way
of thinking. someone mentions
the native americans
another abortion,
as she brings out an
apple pie
to set in the middle of the table.
there are soap boxes
around the yard
each
taking a turn,
fueled by beer, or
margaritas.
someone yells, the hot
dogs are ready.
which gives
every one a break
from being so smart
and well
informed, squeezing
mustard
onto the grill striped
meat rolled onto a bun.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

still at war

the man
with a white trimmed beard
rides in
on his Harley,
takes his place in the parade,
he's still a war.
still
searching for meaning
in what happened forty
years ago.
the dying and maiming
of so many.
a red white and blue
bandana is wrapped
around his
wrinkled brow,
a black flag waves
from the back of his bike.
he's not quite over
it.

still at war

the man
with a white trimmed beard
rides in
on his Harley,
takes his place in the parade,
he's still a war.
still
searching for meaning
in what happened forty
years ago.
the dying and maiming
of so many.
a red white and blue
bandana is wrapped
around his
wrinkled brow,
a black flag waves
from the back of his bike.
he's not quite over
it.

rooms for rent

the man at the front
desk
is settled into his job,
a small
god
in a rundown
hotel
outside of town.
he smokes, he drinks.
he's looking at a girly
magazine.
rooms for a night, for an hour.
no questions asked
about luggage,
or where's the best
place to eat
near here.
the cash slides across
the counter,
then a key.
take the elevator to
your right, he says without
looking up.
just leave it in the room
if for some reason
you need to flee.

rooms for rent

the man at the front
desk
is settled into his job,
a small
god
in a rundown
hotel
outside of town.
he smokes, he drinks.
he's looking at a girly
magazine.
rooms for a night, for an hour.
no questions asked
about luggage,
or where's the best
place to eat
near here.
the cash slides across
the counter,
then a key.
take the elevator to
your right, he says without
looking up.
just leave it in the room
if for some reason
you need to flee.

angels and devils

you put
the deviled eggs
onto the shelf
to cool.
next to that plate
is the angel
food cake,
also cooling.
neither of them appeal
to you
too much,
but there are together
about to travel
across the city,
to a barbeque,
on a bus.

angels and devils

you put
the deviled eggs
onto the shelf
to cool.
next to that plate
is the angel
food cake,
also cooling.
neither of them appeal
to you
too much,
but there are together
about to travel
across the city,
to a barbeque,
on a bus.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

chop suey

the new picture comes
in the mail, as most things
purchased do now.
I unwrap it carefully and hold
it up to the light.
chop suey
by hopper. two women in a restaurant,
eating, sipping
drinks.
I like the colors, the starkness
of dark
and light.
I move it around the house
searching for a wall
that will hold it.
too large,
too small, too bright.
finally settling on the kitchen.
it will take some time
getting used to
as new love often does.

chop suey

the new picture comes
in the mail, as most things
purchased do now.
I unwrap it carefully and hold
it up to the light.
chop suey
by hopper. two women in a restaurant,
eating, sipping
drinks.
I like the colors, the starkness
of dark
and light.
I move it around the house
searching for a wall
that will hold it.
too large,
too small, too bright.
finally settling on the kitchen.
it will take some time
getting used to
as new love often does.

what is true

what is true
is more interesting
than that what
isn't.
the world is
seasoned with both,
fiction and non fiction.
we pick and choose
how much
of each we need to get the story
right
about the days
we live in,
how we tell the tale.

what is true

what is true
is more interesting
than that what
isn't.
the world is
seasoned with both,
fiction and non fiction.
we pick and choose
how much
of each we need to get the story
right
about the days
we live in,
how we tell the tale.

unzip me

unzip me she says
after finally removing
her make up
and spending time in the bathroom
with the door closed.
I can't reach that one hook.
they make it impossible,
these dresses
to hook or unhook
that one
particular catch
at the top. sometimes
I just pull
the whole thing over
my head.
that was an hour ago,
her voice waking me up
while I lie in bed.

unzip me

unzip me she says
after finally removing
her make up
and spending time in the bathroom
with the door closed.
I can't reach that one hook.
they make it impossible,
these dresses
to hook or unhook
that one
particular catch
at the top. sometimes
I just pull
the whole thing over
my head.
that was an hour ago,
her voice waking me up
while I lie in bed.

the large boat

her father's boat
was fast.
large. its engines rumbled in
the oiled water,
rainbowed and rippled.
the ship was white
with red seats with which
to gaze out
over the bay.
it cut through the troughs
of blue, sailed
under the bridge,
gulls weaved in and out
of clouds,
settling
on pylons.
there was an island we went
to.
collected shells.
left our footprints in the sand,
rang
the bell that had stood
there for a century.
there was little to talk about,
the bright sun and wind
saying everything,
leaving us
empty in some strange way.

the large boat

her father's boat
was fast.
large. its engines rumbled in
the oiled water,
rainbowed and rippled.
the ship was white
with red seats with which
to gaze out
over the bay.
it cut through the troughs
of blue, sailed
under the bridge,
gulls weaved in and out
of clouds,
settling
on pylons.
there was an island we went
to.
collected shells.
left our footprints in the sand,
rang
the bell that had stood
there for a century.
there was little to talk about,
the bright sun and wind
saying everything,
leaving us
empty in some strange way.

Friday, May 27, 2016

wet paint

the paint
dries slowly on this wet day.
still
soft to the touch
taking
your fingerprints with it.
each finger tip
a dotted spot of white.
you knew it wasn't dry,
but you had to touch
it anyway.
you will the next time
too.
your impatience, as you well
know, is always
with you.

wet paint

the paint
dries slowly on this wet day.
still
soft to the touch
taking
your fingerprints with it.
each finger tip
a dotted spot of white.
you knew it wasn't dry,
but you had to touch
it anyway.
you will the next time
too.
your impatience, as you well
know, is always
with you.

the other bakery

she dolloped
a smidgen of love and affection.
a spoonful, a crumb,
a mere taste of her
attributes.
she did not spoil
the child within you
with any baked love,
no extra helpings.
you had to earn the right
to kiss her.
the tasks being
unknown, the lines sketchy.
there were other
bakeries more inclined
to you,
open for business, so
you went.

the other bakery

she dolloped
a smidgen of love and affection.
a spoonful, a crumb,
a mere taste of her
attributes.
she did not spoil
the child within you
with any baked love,
no extra helpings.
you had to earn the right
to kiss her.
the tasks being
unknown, the lines sketchy.
there were other
bakeries more inclined
to you,
open for business, so
you went.

the other side of the moon

you are not an explorer
by any means,
the new
world would have remained
unknown
if you had anything to do with it.
what's over
that hill
matters not.
this is fine, where we are.
no need to see
the other side of the moon,
or mars.
take your shoes off,
relax,
come here and let's
kiss, just to start.

the other side of the moon

you are not an explorer
by any means,
the new
world would have remained
unknown
if you had anything to do with it.
what's over
that hill
matters not.
this is fine, where we are.
no need to see
the other side of the moon,
or mars.
take your shoes off,
relax,
come here and let's
kiss, just to start.

reading of the will

each brother and sister
brings a lawyer
in a sharp suit to go over
the will, to see how large
a slice of pie
they will receive,
that no one gets extra.
they leave
slowly when it's discovered
that there are bills
to be paid.
there is no money, hardly
enough for a box,
a shovel,
a grave.

reading of the will

each brother and sister
brings a lawyer
in a sharp suit to go over
the will, to see how large
a slice of pie
they will receive,
that no one gets extra.
they leave
slowly when it's discovered
that there are bills
to be paid.
there is no money, hardly
enough for a box,
a shovel,
a grave.

disappointment

from across the room
you throw
the apple core, freshly
bitten into
towards the can
that sits
in the corner.
you miss. it rims out,
and rolls,
the dog quickly hops
up and grabs it,
runs off
to hide under the bed.
later he will
look at you with
disappointed eyes.

disappointment

from across the room
you throw
the apple core, freshly
bitten into
towards the can
that sits
in the corner.
you miss. it rims out,
and rolls,
the dog quickly hops
up and grabs it,
runs off
to hide under the bed.
later he will
look at you with
disappointed eyes.

jumper cables?

his car won't start
in this cold.
he waves you down and makes
a frantic gesture,
waving his arms,
in the apparent international
signal
for jumper cables.
you roll down your window
and tell him
that you don't have any.
but you can call
someone to come and help him.
he doesn't understand you.
his language is not yours.
you become Koko the monkey
and begin to explain
that you are calling for help.
that a truck is on
the way, that he need not
worry.
it's exhausting. he curses
you and gives you the international
salute of discontent
as you drive away.

jumper cables?

his car won't start
in this cold.
he waves you down and makes
a frantic gesture,
waving his arms,
in the apparent international
signal
for jumper cables.
you roll down your window
and tell him
that you don't have any.
but you can call
someone to come and help him.
he doesn't understand you.
his language is not yours.
you become Koko the monkey
and begin to explain
that you are calling for help.
that a truck is on
the way, that he need not
worry.
it's exhausting. he curses
you and gives you the international
salute of discontent
as you drive away.

across the sea

she writes and tells me
about Vermeer
the girl with the pearl
necklace,
Rembrandt
and van gogh.
she talks about how each
town
is more charming than the next.
the culture
the history,
the quaintness
of it all. she takes pictures
of the village.
the town square,
the sculptures that have
existed for centuries.
and what are you up to,
she asks. anything new?
not much i say, just sitting
here in my
underwear, eating a tuna
sandwich and watching
judge judy.

across the sea

she writes and tells me
about Vermeer
the girl with the pearl
necklace,
Rembrandt
and van gogh.
she talks about how each
town
is more charming than the next.
the culture
the history,
the quaintness
of it all. she takes pictures
of the village.
the town square,
the sculptures that have
existed for centuries.
and what are you up to,
she asks. anything new?
not much i say, just sitting
here in my
underwear, eating a tuna
sandwich and watching
judge judy.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

why not

let's go dancing tonight,
she says,
brushing her hair
in the mirror.
you look around the room to see
who else might be there.
it's just you.
we haven't gone dancing in ages,
she says.
catching your eye in the mirror.
the dog jumps
up onto the bed, circles
himself on your chest,
protecting you.
I want to learn how to salsa.
maybe we could take ballroom
dancing lessons, she says.
stroking her long full head of hair.
outside the window,
a pale moon has already begun
to show through the lessened
blue of the sky.
it's almost the most beautiful
thing you've seen today.
why not, you say.
why not.

why not

let's go dancing tonight,
she says,
brushing her hair
in the mirror.
you look around the room to see
who else might be there.
it's just you.
we haven't gone dancing in ages,
she says.
catching your eye in the mirror.
the dog jumps
up onto the bed, circles
himself on your chest,
protecting you.
I want to learn how to salsa.
maybe we could take ballroom
dancing lessons, she says.
stroking her long full head of hair.
outside the window,
a pale moon has already begun
to show through the lessened
blue of the sky.
it's almost the most beautiful
thing you've seen today.
why not, you say.
why not.

no reason at all

as a child
one sister was a mortal enemy
one summer.
you took a wood saw
from your father's work bench
and sawed off
the head
of her favorite doll.
the one that cried
and peed
after filling it with
water.
she threw your baseball glove
into the creek.
put gum on your toothbrush.
you called her names.
she called you names.
it was a war
that lasted throughout
the hot
unairconditioned summer.
there was no truce,
no apologies.
it just ended for the same
reason that it started.
no reason at all.

no reason at all

as a child
one sister was a mortal enemy
one summer.
you took a wood saw
from your father's work bench
and sawed off
the head
of her favorite doll.
the one that cried
and peed
after filling it with
water.
she threw your baseball glove
into the creek.
put gum on your toothbrush.
you called her names.
she called you names.
it was a war
that lasted throughout
the hot
unairconditioned summer.
there was no truce,
no apologies.
it just ended for the same
reason that it started.
no reason at all.

some critics say

you need to be more obscure.
reference
mythology, history,
religion. uses larger words.
five dollar words,
not those that cost a mere
penny.
simple and clear gets you nowhere.
your poetic ambition
is too shallow. too mundane
and common.
fast food, if you may.
quit growing daises
and think more botanical
garden.
good luck. maybe i'll
read more then,
if you get there.

some critics say

you need to be more obscure.
reference
mythology, history,
religion. uses larger words.
five dollar words,
not those that cost a mere
penny.
simple and clear gets you nowhere.
your poetic ambition
is too shallow. too mundane
and common.
fast food, if you may.
quit growing daises
and think more botanical
garden.
good luck. maybe i'll
read more then,
if you get there.

one day soon

I feel bad for my iron,
collecting dust on the shelf
in my laundry room,
next to the detergent
and fabric softener.
a pile of washed change
I pulled out of the dryer.
I hardly ever iron anymore.
no shirts or pants
needing the wrinkles pressed
smooth.
I say hello to my iron,
in passing. seeing my reflection
in its shiny face.
give it a little wave,
and say one day, one day
soon, i'll plug you in.

one day soon

I feel bad for my iron,
collecting dust on the shelf
in my laundry room,
next to the detergent
and fabric softener.
a pile of washed change
I pulled out of the dryer.
I hardly ever iron anymore.
no shirts or pants
needing the wrinkles pressed
smooth.
I say hello to my iron,
in passing. seeing my reflection
in its shiny face.
give it a little wave,
and say one day, one day
soon, i'll plug you in.

all is well

he was so used to pretending
that he was happy,
that all was well,
that sometimes he actually
felt that way.
life had that new car
smell.
that sweet shine of just
purchased.
it was hard to keep up
though.
the air eventually came
out of the tires. there were
door dings,
a crack in the windshield
where he hit
a black bird
carrying a worm to its nest.
he could only smile, part
time now.
when out and about.
he couldn't wait to get home
to let it end.
to let the face frown,
cut a lemon with which
to suck on,
and keep it that way.

all is well

he was so used to pretending
that he was happy,
that all was well,
that sometimes he actually
felt that way.
life had that new car
smell.
that sweet shine of just
purchased.
it was hard to keep up
though.
the air eventually came
out of the tires. there were
door dings,
a crack in the windshield
where he hit
a black bird
carrying a worm to its nest.
he could only smile, part
time now.
when out and about.
he couldn't wait to get home
to let it end.
to let the face frown,
cut a lemon with which
to suck on,
and keep it that way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

his new love

he shows me a photo
of his new girlfriend.
she's long legged
and tan,
a mop of wild black
hair upon her head.
her lips are pouty.
she wants something. you
can see that
in her dark eyes.
she's doing something with
her hand, holding
it out into the air.
she's wearing what looks like
white napkins
strung together by thread.
she's twenty one, he says.
she lives far away,
in my country. but I love
her. I met her three
weeks ago when I went home.
I am going to bring
her here once I get divorced.

his new love

he shows me a photo
of his new girlfriend.
she's long legged
and tan,
a mop of wild black
hair upon her head.
her lips are pouty.
she wants something. you
can see that
in her dark eyes.
she's doing something with
her hand, holding
it out into the air.
she's wearing what looks like
white napkins
strung together by thread.
she's twenty one, he says.
she lives far away,
in my country. but I love
her. I met her three
weeks ago when I went home.
I am going to bring
her here once I get divorced.

his illness

his hand would shake,
so he steadied it with his other hand.
then it too trembled.
he changed the subject.
looking up into the sky.
it's going to be warmer
tomorrow he'd say,
clenching
a smile, hoping you'd
look away.

his illness

his hand would shake,
so he steadied it with his other hand.
then it too trembled.
he changed the subject.
looking up into the sky.
it's going to be warmer
tomorrow he'd say,
clenching
a smile, hoping you'd
look away.

home cooked

you drive and drive.
hills and valleys,
narrow bridges,
old roads becoming new.
new roads
unmarked.
somewhere, there is a place
you are going to.
she has a piece of salmon
waiting,
over cooked and dried.
string beans,
and small potatoes,
glittering with olive oil,
the hair of pepper
and salt
as they roast
upon their brows.
what you won't
do for a home cooked
meal these days, even
a bad one,
is beyond you.

home cooked

you drive and drive.
hills and valleys,
narrow bridges,
old roads becoming new.
new roads
unmarked.
somewhere, there is a place
you are going to.
she has a piece of salmon
waiting,
over cooked and dried.
string beans,
and small potatoes,
glittering with olive oil,
the hair of pepper
and salt
as they roast
upon their brows.
what you won't
do for a home cooked
meal these days, even
a bad one,
is beyond you.

first impressions

her piano
had old keys.
the ivory yellowed, brittle.
ebony chipped.
the pedals
sunk
and were slow to rise.
some strings were broken
and curled
out from the top
like wired black hair.
the dull off key
sound
it made when striking
hurt your teeth,
but it looked good in the window.
a baby grand piano.
a vase of white flowers
centered.
who's to know from
the street
the wreck that it was
and that she
couldn't play a lick.

first impressions

her piano
had old keys.
the ivory yellowed, brittle.
ebony chipped.
the pedals
sunk
and were slow to rise.
some strings were broken
and curled
out from the top
like wired black hair.
the dull off key
sound
it made when striking
hurt your teeth,
but it looked good in the window.
a baby grand piano.
a vase of white flowers
centered.
who's to know from
the street
the wreck that it was
and that she
couldn't play a lick.

you mght feel a little pinch

as a child
you often fainted when the dentist
held up
his steel sharpened needle
above your tiny mouth,
o shaped and trembling.
the thick spectacles
of this man
about to stick
a pointed syringe
into your gums, reflected
your horrified face.
there were stars,
a black
cold blanket of bliss
upon you.
sweat beaded on your
pale wide brow,
the blood gone
out
to other regions.
when you awoke your mother
would be standing there
holding her
purse
saying, it won't hurt
and you'll get ice cream
later.
you might feel a little pinch.

you mght feel a little pinch

as a child
you often fainted when the dentist
held up
his steel sharpened needle
above your tiny mouth,
o shaped and trembling.
the thick spectacles
of this man
about to stick
a pointed syringe
into your gums, reflected
your horrified face.
there were stars,
a black
cold blanket of bliss
upon you.
sweat beaded on your
pale wide brow,
the blood gone
out
to other regions.
when you awoke your mother
would be standing there
holding her
purse
saying, it won't hurt
and you'll get ice cream
later.
you might feel a little pinch.

red peppers

a devil
is among us. his demons
too.
pointed tails,
and horns,
crimson red
like peppers.
you can feel them walking
about.
in the shadows
in the sunlight,
inhabiting the weaker
of faith
or the holiest of
holies.
makes no never mind
with the devil.
he finds a way in
when you crack open
the door,
peek at or enter
places
you shouldn't go.

red peppers

a devil
is among us. his demons
too.
pointed tails,
and horns,
crimson red
like peppers.
you can feel them walking
about.
in the shadows
in the sunlight,
inhabiting the weaker
of faith
or the holiest of
holies.
makes no never mind
with the devil.
he finds a way in
when you crack open
the door,
peek at or enter
places
you shouldn't go.

still here

the dead are never quite
dead
enough.
they keep
reminding us of when
they were alive.
each day,
some thought crosses
our mind
of them.
for better or worse.
there is no
tying of lose ends,
no closure
whatsoever.
they rise
and stay alive,
as if they were here,
but quietly
so.

still here

the dead are never quite
dead
enough.
they keep
reminding us of when
they were alive.
each day,
some thought crosses
our mind
of them.
for better or worse.
there is no
tying of lose ends,
no closure
whatsoever.
they rise
and stay alive,
as if they were here,
but quietly
so.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

unreachable

the things you have
mean less to you the longer
you have them.
what you want
is new. outside your reach.
behind the plate glass
window
on fifth avenue.
the stars too.
those dots of
teasing tinsel, unreachable,
a scalloped
moon.
a place to go and be someone
other than the person
that inhabits you.

unreachable

the things you have
mean less to you the longer
you have them.
what you want
is new. outside your reach.
behind the plate glass
window
on fifth avenue.
the stars too.
those dots of
teasing tinsel, unreachable,
a scalloped
moon.
a place to go and be someone
other than the person
that inhabits you.

boiled eggs

you stand over the stove,
over a pot
of boiling eggs.
three white eggs,
extra large
bubbling
and floating, shaking
in their shells,
bouncing
against the side
of the pot.
it's been longer than
three minutes.
it might be five.
they are starting to crack.
some of the white
stuff
is poking out.
you're not bored with
yourself,
although it may seem
that way,
watching these eggs.

boiled eggs

you stand over the stove,
over a pot
of boiling eggs.
three white eggs,
extra large
bubbling
and floating, shaking
in their shells,
bouncing
against the side
of the pot.
it's been longer than
three minutes.
it might be five.
they are starting to crack.
some of the white
stuff
is poking out.
you're not bored with
yourself,
although it may seem
that way,
watching these eggs.

something of interest

do you have trouble
sleeping
my therapist asks,
running out of things to ask me,
having skewered
parents and siblings.
ex wives.
a dog.
nope.
sleep like a rock.
i'm tired
by the time I lie down
and my head
sinks into a pillow
or two.
I see she says.
do you dream?
always.
technicolor.
what are they about.
some scary,
some fun,
some erotic.
oh, she says. suddenly
sitting up,
and crossing her legs.
tell me
about those.
finally she's found something
of interest.

something of interest

do you have trouble
sleeping
my therapist asks,
running out of things to ask me,
having skewered
parents and siblings.
ex wives.
a dog.
nope.
sleep like a rock.
i'm tired
by the time I lie down
and my head
sinks into a pillow
or two.
I see she says.
do you dream?
always.
technicolor.
what are they about.
some scary,
some fun,
some erotic.
oh, she says. suddenly
sitting up,
and crossing her legs.
tell me
about those.
finally she's found something
of interest.

love gone bad

in her other life
she was
someone else.
she was different.
her hair was longer.
she said yes,
when she wanted to say yes.
she slept
more,
she ate more, she had
more sex.
this life now
has put her in a box.
a colorless
box, with a lid
just barely open,
open enough to see what
she is missing
on the outside.
love gone bad
has tied her stings.
cobbled her shoes.
locked
the doors.

love gone bad

in her other life
she was
someone else.
she was different.
her hair was longer.
she said yes,
when she wanted to say yes.
she slept
more,
she ate more, she had
more sex.
this life now
has put her in a box.
a colorless
box, with a lid
just barely open,
open enough to see what
she is missing
on the outside.
love gone bad
has tied her stings.
cobbled her shoes.
locked
the doors.

the readings

the gypsy down the street
waves to you
as you walk your dog.
there is a fifty per cent
off sign
on the post in front
of her house,
next to the sign that
says,
snow tires for sale.
readings of both hands,
half off,
the black print says.
she's sipping green tea
and standing on
her porch
in a rain coat
with a canvas hat.
half price, she yells out,
bring the dog
too, i'll read his paws.
all four? you say.
sure, she says,
why not.

the readings

the gypsy down the street
waves to you
as you walk your dog.
there is a fifty per cent
off sign
on the post in front
of her house,
next to the sign that
says,
snow tires for sale.
readings of both hands,
half off,
the black print says.
she's sipping green tea
and standing on
her porch
in a rain coat
with a canvas hat.
half price, she yells out,
bring the dog
too, i'll read his paws.
all four? you say.
sure, she says,
why not.

his winnings

you ask your father
what he will do with his winnings.
a hundred
thousand dollars
clear
from the scratch off lottery.
he says,
maybe i'll get the washing
machine fixed.
the belt is squeaking.
in a year
the winnings are gone.
the money slipped
back into the machine
that stands
by the door, by the newspapers,
as you enter
the grocery store.
the line is long and grey,
and bent
towards something that will
never be reached.

his winnings

you ask your father
what he will do with his winnings.
a hundred
thousand dollars
clear
from the scratch off lottery.
he says,
maybe i'll get the washing
machine fixed.
the belt is squeaking.
in a year
the winnings are gone.
the money slipped
back into the machine
that stands
by the door, by the newspapers,
as you enter
the grocery store.
the line is long and grey,
and bent
towards something that will
never be reached.

not all is wasted

most of what you learn
is unused,
or is it,
maybe deep inside of you
you're still
solving quadratic equations,
figuring out
how long it will take you
to get from point
a to point b,
if driving at sixty three
miles per hour.
maybe you're
still diagramming sentences,
or dissecting frogs,
or sifting through T.S. Elliot's
The Wasteland
to salvage meaning about
your own life.
not all is wasted.

not all is wasted

most of what you learn
is unused,
or is it,
maybe deep inside of you
you're still
solving quadratic equations,
figuring out
how long it will take you
to get from point
a to point b,
if driving at sixty three
miles per hour.
maybe you're
still diagramming sentences,
or dissecting frogs,
or sifting through T.S. Elliot's
The Wasteland
to salvage meaning about
your own life.
not all is wasted.

the plot waits

quickly
they purchase the burial
plot.
how can she possibly
live past
this.
they clean out her drawers,
take
her rosary beads,
her cross,
her tea cups from
Russia.
that vase, long empty
of flowers.
then she opens her eyes
and says,
where am I. what day is this.
the plot waits,
undug,
things taken are not
returned.

the plot waits

quickly
they purchase the burial
plot.
how can she possibly
live past
this.
they clean out her drawers,
take
her rosary beads,
her cross,
her tea cups from
Russia.
that vase, long empty
of flowers.
then she opens her eyes
and says,
where am I. what day is this.
the plot waits,
undug,
things taken are not
returned.

what we know

the wind
picks up, lifts what's
on the ground, spins
paper and leaves
into the air. the world
keeps telling
us that we don't know much
about anything.

what we know

the wind
picks up, lifts what's
on the ground, spins
paper and leaves
into the air. the world
keeps telling
us that we don't know much
about anything.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

cowboy wisdom

the horses are out
of the barn
he tells you. too late
to close
the doors.
what barn, what horses,
you ask him.
what are you talking about.
I live on the twentieth
floor
in a high rise.
it's a metaphor, he says.
it means it's
too late to do the things
you should have done.
like sending her roses.
well, why didn't you just
say that?
i'm folksy, he says.
i'm wearing boots and a cowboy
hat.
look at me, I even have a
a strand of straw
hanging out of my mouth.

cowboy wisdom

the horses are out
of the barn
he tells you. too late
to close
the doors.
what barn, what horses,
you ask him.
what are you talking about.
I live on the twentieth
floor
in a high rise.
it's a metaphor, he says.
it means it's
too late to do the things
you should have done.
like sending her roses.
well, why didn't you just
say that?
i'm folksy, he says.
i'm wearing boots and a cowboy
hat.
look at me, I even have a
a strand of straw
hanging out of my mouth.

the break up meal

do you have any special dietary needs
the waiter asks me
as i loosen my belt
and shimmy into the booth.
he hands me the laminated
menu that blocks
all light.
only that my red meat is medium
rare, I tell him.
and that nothing resembling
carob or liver
touch my plate.
got it, he says. will that be
a twelve ounce steak,
or twenty.
let's start with twenty and work
our way down.
an extra saucer of mushroom
gravy would be greatly
appreciated too, and bring
the dessert menu, if you
will. I like to think about that
as i'm eating.
will the mrs. be joining you
tonight? no, we're no longer
together, but I'm getting over
it slowly and painfully,
one meal at a time.

the break up meal

do you have any special dietary needs
the waiter asks me
as i loosen my belt
and shimmy into the booth.
he hands me the laminated
menu that blocks
all light.
only that my red meat is medium
rare, I tell him.
and that nothing resembling
carob or liver
touch my plate.
got it, he says. will that be
a twelve ounce steak,
or twenty.
let's start with twenty and work
our way down.
an extra saucer of mushroom
gravy would be greatly
appreciated too, and bring
the dessert menu, if you
will. I like to think about that
as i'm eating.
will the mrs. be joining you
tonight? no, we're no longer
together, but I'm getting over
it slowly and painfully,
one meal at a time.

the wheel

the shovel
is new. the spade holds
the harsh sunlight
in its steel curve.
the shoe box
holding
the hamster is light,
the weight of death slight
in my daughter's hand
as we go to the edge
of the yard
where the woods begin.
he didn't have
much of a life, she says
in her small voice,
did he?
she looks up
to me
as we walk.
all day long on that
squeaky wheel,
alone in his cage.
now he's free, she says.
no one wants a life like that,
do they?
no, I tell her,
finding a soft spot with
which to dig,
pressing the shovel into
the earth with a hard boot.
no one deserves a life
like that.

the wheel

the shovel
is new. the spade holds
the harsh sunlight
in its steel curve.
the shoe box
holding
the hamster is light,
the weight of death slight
in my daughter's hand
as we go to the edge
of the yard
where the woods begin.
he didn't have
much of a life, she says
in her small voice,
did he?
she looks up
to me
as we walk.
all day long on that
squeaky wheel,
alone in his cage.
now he's free, she says.
no one wants a life like that,
do they?
no, I tell her,
finding a soft spot with
which to dig,
pressing the shovel into
the earth with a hard boot.
no one deserves a life
like that.

first cousins

Sinatra is singing
fly me to the moon, while we slow
dance
across the floor,
me and my cousin Marie.
we've both had a few cocktails,
and almost kiss,
our lips dangerously come close
to one another.
which would be scandalous,
seeing that she is
my mother's brother's
daughter,
first cousins.
but we get along so well.
we dance together
and laugh, and think the same
way.
we both like jello.
what is it with these archaic
laws.
why don't we live in England?

first cousins

Sinatra is singing
fly me to the moon, while we slow
dance
across the floor,
me and my cousin Marie.
we've both had a few cocktails,
and almost kiss,
our lips dangerously come close
to one another.
which would be scandalous,
seeing that she is
my mother's brother's
daughter,
first cousins.
but we get along so well.
we dance together
and laugh, and think the same
way.
we both like jello.
what is it with these archaic
laws.
why don't we live in England?

all those dolls

I have eight hundred dolls,
the woman tells me, as I enter her house.
on the dining room table
is a two foot tall
replica of Marie Osmond in a wedding
dress.
she's staring blankly with
her black Mormon
eyes towards the far end of the house.
I look in that direction too.
dolls are everywhere.
there are two rooms full of them,
sitting on shelves.
standing, some are in glass cases,
sealed in plexi-glass boxes.
many are dressed
in costumes. Dorothy from the wizard
of oz.
the tin man, the lion, the scare crow.
there are dolls sitting on the end of her bed.
legs folded, stiff backed
with porcelain.
I collect dolls, she says,
sweeping her short heavy
arm about the room,
we go into the basement, there are
more dolls.
all staring with simple smiles
on their faces.
cheeks forever puffed with words
that will never be spoken. I love my
dolls she says,
slightly out of breath,
do you have any children?

all those dolls

I have eight hundred dolls,
the woman tells me, as I enter her house.
on the dining room table
is a two foot tall
replica of Marie Osmond in a wedding
dress.
she's staring blankly with
her black Mormon
eyes towards the far end of the house.
I look in that direction too.
dolls are everywhere.
there are two rooms full of them,
sitting on shelves.
standing, some are in glass cases,
sealed in plexi-glass boxes.
many are dressed
in costumes. Dorothy from the wizard
of oz.
the tin man, the lion, the scare crow.
there are dolls sitting on the end of her bed.
legs folded, stiff backed
with porcelain.
I collect dolls, she says,
sweeping her short heavy
arm about the room,
we go into the basement, there are
more dolls.
all staring with simple smiles
on their faces.
cheeks forever puffed with words
that will never be spoken. I love my
dolls she says,
slightly out of breath,
do you have any children?

it's your immune system

it's your immune system,
the clerk
at the vitamin shop
says to you
in a heavy accent.
you sneeze several times,
then blow your nose.
he doesn't say god bless even once.
which you attribute to him
being fearful of offending
his own god, or gods.
he adjusts his turban,
and smooths out the sheer
lavender
sleeves of blouse. he's wearing
white slippers.
you need
vitamins. I can put you on
a plan.
come over here,
and sign up. I need one credit
card, an e mail
address,
and your signature at
the bottom.
I will have you not sneezing
in two weeks, or
seven days, guaranteed.
let's begin with some bee pollen.
he shakes the bottle
showing you the large
amber colored pills
you are to take twice a day.
do you have a truck or car?
he asks,
I have many boxes of pills
for you.
once you finish the paper work,
pull your car up
and I will wheel up your supply
of vitamins.
i'm not sure, I tell him.
I need to think about this.
okay. okay.
you want to be sick then, I
don't understand, but okay.
what if I took off 50 per cent
on your first order?
would you want to be healthy then?

it's your immune system

it's your immune system,
the clerk
at the vitamin shop
says to you
in a heavy accent.
you sneeze several times,
then blow your nose.
he doesn't say god bless even once.
which you attribute to him
being fearful of offending
his own god, or gods.
he adjusts his turban,
and smooths out the sheer
lavender
sleeves of blouse. he's wearing
white slippers.
you need
vitamins. I can put you on
a plan.
come over here,
and sign up. I need one credit
card, an e mail
address,
and your signature at
the bottom.
I will have you not sneezing
in two weeks, or
seven days, guaranteed.
let's begin with some bee pollen.
he shakes the bottle
showing you the large
amber colored pills
you are to take twice a day.
do you have a truck or car?
he asks,
I have many boxes of pills
for you.
once you finish the paper work,
pull your car up
and I will wheel up your supply
of vitamins.
i'm not sure, I tell him.
I need to think about this.
okay. okay.
you want to be sick then, I
don't understand, but okay.
what if I took off 50 per cent
on your first order?
would you want to be healthy then?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

i have nothing to wear

she stands in her underwear
at the closet door and asks,
what about this dress,
holding up a long blue
dress with fake diamonds
sprinkled
about its night like fabric.
nah,
too something. too much. we're
not going to a broadway show.
it's a wake, a funeral.
something in burlap, or brown
sack cloth might work.
but I don't have anything like that.
she goes back into her long
endless closet. I can hear the hangers
sliding. finally
she takes out a short red dress
that rises above her knees.
low cut.
ummm.
too provocative?
maybe. but
save it for after church, okay.
and those heels too.

i have nothing to wear

she stands in her underwear
at the closet door and asks,
what about this dress,
holding up a long blue
dress with fake diamonds
sprinkled
about its night like fabric.
nah,
too something. too much. we're
not going to a broadway show.
it's a wake, a funeral.
something in burlap, or brown
sack cloth might work.
but I don't have anything like that.
she goes back into her long
endless closet. I can hear the hangers
sliding. finally
she takes out a short red dress
that rises above her knees.
low cut.
ummm.
too provocative?
maybe. but
save it for after church, okay.
and those heels too.

what lies ahead

afloat, skimming the surface
of lime
green water, not a care,
a wish
a bother.
my hand
pulls against the shallow
warm,
a sweet yellow sun rises
like a flower
in the sky.
i could spend eternity
in this position.
come with me,
let's float together
towards bliss, to what
lies ahead.

what lies ahead

afloat, skimming the surface
of lime
green water, not a care,
a wish
a bother.
my hand
pulls against the shallow
warm,
a sweet yellow sun rises
like a flower
in the sky.
i could spend eternity
in this position.
come with me,
let's float together
towards bliss, to what
lies ahead.

the bruise

how the bruise arrives,
you aren't sure.
yellow and blue,
a sea green against your ribs.
when did you bump
into something?
who knows.
the vagueness of the day
startles you.
even pain, small pain
is ignored
these days as you press
on towards
a moving clock.

the bruise

how the bruise arrives,
you aren't sure.
yellow and blue,
a sea green against your ribs.
when did you bump
into something?
who knows.
the vagueness of the day
startles you.
even pain, small pain
is ignored
these days as you press
on towards
a moving clock.

i'm here

the postcard
arrives.
hi, it says. wish you were here.
on the front
is a picture
of the hotel
where she's staying.
she presses her red lips
to the back
of it. the smudge
dried. she
signs it, with love,
always.
if you aren't busy
with life,
come soon. i'm here.

i'm here

the postcard
arrives.
hi, it says. wish you were here.
on the front
is a picture
of the hotel
where she's staying.
she presses her red lips
to the back
of it. the smudge
dried. she
signs it, with love,
always.
if you aren't busy
with life,
come soon. i'm here.

a cafe in Rome

you meet her in a café
near the ruins
in Rome.
she's wearing dark sunglass
against her pale
face.
she looks like she's been
sitting there for eons.
dressed in black,
a coliseum cat
in the shade, sitting
in the same chair
drinking the same drink.
crossing those same
legs.
fancy meeting you here,
she says, sipping
delicately
from a straw. you can almost
hear the lions roar,
the Christians dying,
their futile prayers,
broad swords clashing against
one another.
we should just fall in love,
she says,
and end this. all of this
history tells us something,
doesn't it?
perhaps, you tell her.
perhaps.

a cafe in Rome

you meet her in a café
near the ruins
in Rome.
she's wearing dark sunglass
against her pale
face.
she looks like she's been
sitting there for eons.
dressed in black,
a coliseum cat
in the shade, sitting
in the same chair
drinking the same drink.
crossing those same
legs.
fancy meeting you here,
she says, sipping
delicately
from a straw. you can almost
hear the lions roar,
the Christians dying,
their futile prayers,
broad swords clashing against
one another.
we should just fall in love,
she says,
and end this. all of this
history tells us something,
doesn't it?
perhaps, you tell her.
perhaps.

hardly a shadow

hardly a shadow
makes it out of bed on
this slosh
of a day.
this grey string of
pearls
drawing a curtain
on the sun. hardly a muscle
moves
off the couch,
in this hourless day,
this morning where
a long list awaits, but
nothing gets done.

hardly a shadow

hardly a shadow
makes it out of bed on
this slosh
of a day.
this grey string of
pearls
drawing a curtain
on the sun. hardly a muscle
moves
off the couch,
in this hourless day,
this morning where
a long list awaits, but
nothing gets done.

Friday, May 20, 2016

why men spit

it's rare to see a woman spit.
men spit all the time,
and scratch.
spitting is what we do.
out the window,
while playing sports,
biking,
or hiking. it starts when
you're a boy,
seeing how far you can spit.
we have too much
saliva.
it's science.
women don't understand
all this spitting and scratching
that we do.
they are much more demure
with their
spitting
and scratching.
it's rare to see a woman spit.

why men spit

it's rare to see a woman spit.
men spit all the time,
and scratch.
spitting is what we do.
out the window,
while playing sports,
biking,
or hiking. it starts when
you're a boy,
seeing how far you can spit.
we have too much
saliva.
it's science.
women don't understand
all this spitting and scratching
that we do.
they are much more demure
with their
spitting
and scratching.
it's rare to see a woman spit.

shower songs

sometimes you sing
in the shower.
Sinatra
or elvis.
Dylan if the throat
feels craggy
and old.
not a whole song,
maybe a few verses,
filling in with mumbles
for the words
you can't remember.
the bar of soap
is your microphone.
you don't sing too loud
or long,
no need to scare
the neighbors,
get the dogs a howling.

shower songs

sometimes you sing
in the shower.
Sinatra
or elvis.
Dylan if the throat
feels craggy
and old.
not a whole song,
maybe a few verses,
filling in with mumbles
for the words
you can't remember.
the bar of soap
is your microphone.
you don't sing too loud
or long,
no need to scare
the neighbors,
get the dogs a howling.

staging

the empty house.
staged
for the new buyers,
if they like the yard,
the roof,
the parking,
the way the toilets flush,
the oven heats.
there's
a red couch against one wall.
a plant on the sill.
a picture
of an ocean, waves
lapping
under a silvery moon.
small things.
a vase,
an indigo jar
that catches light.
there are
place mats on the table
as if
dinner is about
to be served.
no one cares about any of that.
does the house
sing.
does it feel
right, is this a place
I can sleep
and feel safe
at night.

staging

the empty house.
staged
for the new buyers,
if they like the yard,
the roof,
the parking,
the way the toilets flush,
the oven heats.
there's
a red couch against one wall.
a plant on the sill.
a picture
of an ocean, waves
lapping
under a silvery moon.
small things.
a vase,
an indigo jar
that catches light.
there are
place mats on the table
as if
dinner is about
to be served.
no one cares about any of that.
does the house
sing.
does it feel
right, is this a place
I can sleep
and feel safe
at night.

the earth moves

things fall
when the earth shakes, cracks
open. roars.
anything loose
rattles, drops
and breaks, bounces.
we hold on to one another.
disaster
brings us together,
gives us
a deeper understanding
of what love is
or isn't.

the earth moves

things fall
when the earth shakes, cracks
open. roars.
anything loose
rattles, drops
and breaks, bounces.
we hold on to one another.
disaster
brings us together,
gives us
a deeper understanding
of what love is
or isn't.

forever

against the rail
that borders the thin lake
holding sky
and a setting sun,
the two lovers,
so young,
press their bodies
into one another.
whispering loudly
about fidelity and love.
she's holding a small
white dog on a leash,
his hands
are on her hips.
they are alone and surrounded
by others.
you sit on the bench
ten feet away.
decisions that will change
their lives
forever are about
to be made.

forever

against the rail
that borders the thin lake
holding sky
and a setting sun,
the two lovers,
so young,
press their bodies
into one another.
whispering loudly
about fidelity and love.
she's holding a small
white dog on a leash,
his hands
are on her hips.
they are alone and surrounded
by others.
you sit on the bench
ten feet away.
decisions that will change
their lives
forever are about
to be made.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

the grammar witch

the grammar witch
sends you an email telling you
that it's farther,
not further.
she strikes you with the proverbial
stick
across your knuckles.
get it right dope, she says.
farther is used for distance.
further
is used for an idea.
I want to discuss this further.
or I can run
farther than you.
okay. I write back. what about
its and it's.
you'll never get that she says,
it's beyond
you.

the grammar witch

the grammar witch
sends you an email telling you
that it's farther,
not further.
she strikes you with the proverbial
stick
across your knuckles.
get it right dope, she says.
farther is used for distance.
further
is used for an idea.
I want to discuss this further.
or I can run
farther than you.
okay. I write back. what about
its and it's.
you'll never get that she says,
it's beyond
you.

wooden shoes

my friend Bridgette is heading
to Holland
for a vacation, so i ask
her to pick up a pair of those
wooden shoes they make over there.
she says okay, and takes
down my size.
maybe a half size larger,
I tell her.
I could put cotton in them
to keep my feet from blistering.
I have rather long toes.
good idea she says. what color?
hmmm. maybe a dark
mahogany, with a matte finish.
easy on the polyurethane.
got it she says.
maybe i'll pick up a pair too
and we can go
dancing in them.
can't wait, I tell her.

wooden shoes

my friend Bridgette is heading
to Holland
for a vacation, so i ask
her to pick up a pair of those
wooden shoes they make over there.
she says okay, and takes
down my size.
maybe a half size larger,
I tell her.
I could put cotton in them
to keep my feet from blistering.
I have rather long toes.
good idea she says. what color?
hmmm. maybe a dark
mahogany, with a matte finish.
easy on the polyurethane.
got it she says.
maybe i'll pick up a pair too
and we can go
dancing in them.
can't wait, I tell her.

we have a goat now

one of her husbands
calls you late at night and says
how would you
like it if I did this to your wife.
but I don't have a wife
I tell him.
I shake her shoulder to wake her up.
do you know
who this is I ask,
holding the lit phone in the darkness
of the bedroom.
oh, that's stan, my husband.
we're not officially divorced yet.
he still loves me.
he wants me back, he's at home
watching the cats
and dogs. we have a goat now too,
did I tell you that?
goats make very nice pets,
if you didn't know.
he's so sweet.
they cry like little babies.

we have a goat now

one of her husbands
calls you late at night and says
how would you
like it if I did this to your wife.
but I don't have a wife
I tell him.
I shake her shoulder to wake her up.
do you know
who this is I ask,
holding the lit phone in the darkness
of the bedroom.
oh, that's stan, my husband.
we're not officially divorced yet.
he still loves me.
he wants me back, he's at home
watching the cats
and dogs. we have a goat now too,
did I tell you that?
goats make very nice pets,
if you didn't know.
he's so sweet.
they cry like little babies.

keys are lost

keys are lost.
money
dropped, a dog
hops the fence and runs
away.
the wife cheats
and finds
a better man,
you get fired from
another job,
your children change
their names,
leave town
with no forwarding
address.
weeds are sprouting
in your lawn.
squirrels
are in the attic.
mice in the cellar.
the meter
where you parked has
run out.
the pink ticket
blows like a long
wanting tongue
in the wind.
you find the keys in
the cuff of your pants.
it's a beautiful day.

keys are lost

keys are lost.
money
dropped, a dog
hops the fence and runs
away.
the wife cheats
and finds
a better man,
you get fired from
another job,
your children change
their names,
leave town
with no forwarding
address.
weeds are sprouting
in your lawn.
squirrels
are in the attic.
mice in the cellar.
the meter
where you parked has
run out.
the pink ticket
blows like a long
wanting tongue
in the wind.
you find the keys in
the cuff of your pants.
it's a beautiful day.

her good shoes

the shoes tell the story.
those flip flops
suggest a lazy day
of meandering
about,
coffee, small shopping,
gazing at our navels.
the running shoes, prepare
to sweat
and stretch,
a long hike through
the wet woods
across the street.
the nice dress with a low heel,
maybe a matinee,
or lunch
with a white table cloth
and real flowers
near the salt shaker.
the black stilettos
tell another story altogether.
dim the lights,
draw the shades.

her good shoes

the shoes tell the story.
those flip flops
suggest a lazy day
of meandering
about,
coffee, small shopping,
gazing at our navels.
the running shoes, prepare
to sweat
and stretch,
a long hike through
the wet woods
across the street.
the nice dress with a low heel,
maybe a matinee,
or lunch
with a white table cloth
and real flowers
near the salt shaker.
the black stilettos
tell another story altogether.
dim the lights,
draw the shades.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

the riot down below

there is a riot out in the street.
I can see that
from my window, five stories up.
cars are over turned,
fires burn.
there is unease about
the system.
i'm eating
nuts from a jar,
drinking hard liquor.
I have no interest
in the politics
below.
a good book, a good nights sleep.
dinner
and love
seem to be enough
these days
to keep me from marching.
they can have their turn.

the riot down below

there is a riot out in the street.
I can see that
from my window, five stories up.
cars are over turned,
fires burn.
there is unease about
the system.
i'm eating
nuts from a jar,
drinking hard liquor.
I have no interest
in the politics
below.
a good book, a good nights sleep.
dinner
and love
seem to be enough
these days
to keep me from marching.
they can have their turn.

alone

even the loved one
beside
you. head upon her pillow.
breathing,
full of dreams
is a mystery to you.
a stranger
in your room.
even a brother
is unknown.
a sister hidden in
her own
shadows.
what there is to know
about anyone
is known,
what isn't
stays
where it is. this keeps
you
strangely distant,
alone.

alone

even the loved one
beside
you. head upon her pillow.
breathing,
full of dreams
is a mystery to you.
a stranger
in your room.
even a brother
is unknown.
a sister hidden in
her own
shadows.
what there is to know
about anyone
is known,
what isn't
stays
where it is. this keeps
you
strangely distant,
alone.

the tide

you want it to be more,
but you suspect
that this what it will
be,
no more, no less
than what it seems.
a younger man would be
distressed with this
revelation,
but not you. your acceptance
of each day
is new, and welcomed.
you are letting the tide
carry you out
to sea.
it's the sea you knew
as a child and know
even better now.

the tide

you want it to be more,
but you suspect
that this what it will
be,
no more, no less
than what it seems.
a younger man would be
distressed with this
revelation,
but not you. your acceptance
of each day
is new, and welcomed.
you are letting the tide
carry you out
to sea.
it's the sea you knew
as a child and know
even better now.

therapists in the food court

you overhear
two therapists talking one
day
in the food court.
their office is next to the Gap,
not the real Gap,
but the Gap outlet.
one is dining on
an Asian
dish, deep fried rooster
and rice and the other
is having a cinnamon bun
the size of her head
with a cup
of coffee.
they are discussing patients.
they don't
see you, or notice
that you might
be listening as you suck
on the straw
of an orange Julius.
she's a loser,
the one therapist says.
dates bad men.
can't hold a job, can't sleep
at night.
she wants to go back to school.
at her age. ha.
I almost want to tell her
to jump off
a bridge.
the other one laughs
and sips her coffee.
I have this one patient,
she says, who
thinks he's funny. he thinks
everything is funny.
he can't stop
joking around,
it's a cry for help really.
the insecurity
of these people is astounding.
I told him he needs to settle
down, get married
again
and take life more seriously.
but does he listen, no.
what do I care,
he can keep coming as long
as he wants to.
cha ching. she says, rubbing
her fingers together.
then the other one says, cha ching,
but louder.
they high five,
then head back to the office.

therapists in the food court

you overhear
two therapists talking one
day
in the food court.
their office is next to the Gap,
not the real Gap,
but the Gap outlet.
one is dining on
an Asian
dish, deep fried rooster
and rice and the other
is having a cinnamon bun
the size of her head
with a cup
of coffee.
they are discussing patients.
they don't
see you, or notice
that you might
be listening as you suck
on the straw
of an orange Julius.
she's a loser,
the one therapist says.
dates bad men.
can't hold a job, can't sleep
at night.
she wants to go back to school.
at her age. ha.
I almost want to tell her
to jump off
a bridge.
the other one laughs
and sips her coffee.
I have this one patient,
she says, who
thinks he's funny. he thinks
everything is funny.
he can't stop
joking around,
it's a cry for help really.
the insecurity
of these people is astounding.
I told him he needs to settle
down, get married
again
and take life more seriously.
but does he listen, no.
what do I care,
he can keep coming as long
as he wants to.
cha ching. she says, rubbing
her fingers together.
then the other one says, cha ching,
but louder.
they high five,
then head back to the office.

mother in law

it's hard for mother
in laws
not to be meddling, passive
aggressive people.
it's part
of who they are.
the second a child marries
into the wrong
family,
thinking that they are all
wrong,
they turn like an apple
fallen to the ground.
his wife can't cook, she says.
too much salt.
the husband
can't earn.
he's only from Yale, not
Harvard.
the kids are undisciplined,
shaking her head.
the dog sheds.
all of this
mumbled quietly
where it can't be heard
until safely in the car
and driving back
to Pennsylvania.

mother in law

it's hard for mother
in laws
not to be meddling, passive
aggressive people.
it's part
of who they are.
the second a child marries
into the wrong
family,
thinking that they are all
wrong,
they turn like an apple
fallen to the ground.
his wife can't cook, she says.
too much salt.
the husband
can't earn.
he's only from Yale, not
Harvard.
the kids are undisciplined,
shaking her head.
the dog sheds.
all of this
mumbled quietly
where it can't be heard
until safely in the car
and driving back
to Pennsylvania.

the dermatologist

the doctor points
what looks
like a drill to your head
and blasts
you with
a cold sting of liquid nitrogen.
that mole
will drop
off in a week, she says,
eating a sandwich
from the other hand.
what's that on the side
of your nose,
she says.
blasting your nose with
the cold
liquid. oh that's where
my sunglasses sit.
it's a callous.
oh. well, whatever.
that should come
off in a day
or two.
anything else you need
frozen off of you?
nah, I'm good.

the dermatologist

the doctor points
what looks
like a drill to your head
and blasts
you with
a cold sting of liquid nitrogen.
that mole
will drop
off in a week, she says,
eating a sandwich
from the other hand.
what's that on the side
of your nose,
she says.
blasting your nose with
the cold
liquid. oh that's where
my sunglasses sit.
it's a callous.
oh. well, whatever.
that should come
off in a day
or two.
anything else you need
frozen off of you?
nah, I'm good.

cherrywood floors

these floors are cherry wood,
the woman
says to me, as I look at her
walls for painting and wallpapering.
she asks me to remove my shoes
and any sharp objects
that might be
in my possession. spit out your
gum she says, putting her open
hand close to my mouth.
I do as I am told.
do you know how many cherry
trees had to be chopped down
in order to make this floor.
no, I tell her.
thirty? forty?
three hundred cherry trees
she says,
that's how many.
an orchard of cherry trees.
do you know what a floor like
this costs,
a floor made out of cherry wood.
no, I say again.
I dunno. a hundred dollars?
pfffft. she says.
multiply that by a thousand.
sometimes we sit on the deck
and stare in to look
at our cherry wood floors.
you can't clean them
with anything but
cherry juice, or spit
from a llama.
how nice, I tell her.
how do you walk on them?
they're everywhere.
we don't, she says. we put
runners down, soft mohair
runners, and we stay in our
socks and bare
feet. how will I be able to do
any work with these floors?
I dunno, she says, but if you
harm them in anyway, ding, dent,
chip or spill paint,
you'll be liable.
my husband's a lawyer.
let me show you to the door.
send me your estimate
and here's your gum back, she says,
unfolding her hand
with my pink wad of gum
stuck to her palm. we look forward
to working with you.

cherrywood floors

these floors are cherry wood,
the woman
says to me, as I look at her
walls for painting and wallpapering.
she asks me to remove my shoes
and any sharp objects
that might be
in my possession. spit out your
gum she says, putting her open
hand close to my mouth.
I do as I am told.
do you know how many cherry
trees had to be chopped down
in order to make this floor.
no, I tell her.
thirty? forty?
three hundred cherry trees
she says,
that's how many.
an orchard of cherry trees.
do you know what a floor like
this costs,
a floor made out of cherry wood.
no, I say again.
I dunno. a hundred dollars?
pfffft. she says.
multiply that by a thousand.
sometimes we sit on the deck
and stare in to look
at our cherry wood floors.
you can't clean them
with anything but
cherry juice, or spit
from a llama.
how nice, I tell her.
how do you walk on them?
they're everywhere.
we don't, she says. we put
runners down, soft mohair
runners, and we stay in our
socks and bare
feet. how will I be able to do
any work with these floors?
I dunno, she says, but if you
harm them in anyway, ding, dent,
chip or spill paint,
you'll be liable.
my husband's a lawyer.
let me show you to the door.
send me your estimate
and here's your gum back, she says,
unfolding her hand
with my pink wad of gum
stuck to her palm. we look forward
to working with you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

checking the oil

there was a time
when I checked the oil
in my car
religiously,
pulling out the dip stick
wiping it,
putting it back
in again and then reading
the level
of engine oil.
sometimes, i'd take
a can of quaker state
out of the trunk,
pop it and pour
it into the appropriate
opening
in the engine.
I can't remember the last
time I did such
a thing. I just get in
and drive now.
the oil, like many things
I used to do,
is someone else's
problem.

checking the oil

there was a time
when I checked the oil
in my car
religiously,
pulling out the dip stick
wiping it,
putting it back
in again and then reading
the level
of engine oil.
sometimes, i'd take
a can of quaker state
out of the trunk,
pop it and pour
it into the appropriate
opening
in the engine.
I can't remember the last
time I did such
a thing. I just get in
and drive now.
the oil, like many things
I used to do,
is someone else's
problem.

we can do this, oui?

you get a postcard
from france, you know a few
people
who live there,
but this is not from
one them.
it's in French.
your high school French
fails you.
you can see your French
III teacher,
mrs. moak
scowling, shaking her
head of brillo
red hair,
snapping her stick
against your desk saying,
in French, we can do this,
oui?

we can do this, oui?

you get a postcard
from france, you know a few
people
who live there,
but this is not from
one them.
it's in French.
your high school French
fails you.
you can see your French
III teacher,
mrs. moak
scowling, shaking her
head of brillo
red hair,
snapping her stick
against your desk saying,
in French, we can do this,
oui?

someone holds you

there is enough
of everything that you need,
so why
worry, why fret
and pace
the room.
the basics are covered.
all your
daily needs.
why twitch, why blink,
why wring your hands
over these things.
it starts in the crib,
the cry,
then the bottle
comes
and someone holds you.

someone holds you

there is enough
of everything that you need,
so why
worry, why fret
and pace
the room.
the basics are covered.
all your
daily needs.
why twitch, why blink,
why wring your hands
over these things.
it starts in the crib,
the cry,
then the bottle
comes
and someone holds you.

Monday, May 16, 2016

operators are standing by

your new doctor
is all
over
the social media.
I liked her on facebook,
but talking
by phone or in person
is an anathema to
her.
her e mails
are gentle though,
with a literary bent,
benign
in the sense of not
judging
you for your bad
eating
habits, keeping
at arms length such
things as kale
and Brussel sprouts,
or your consumption
of grey goose.
she suggests green olives
and to watch the toothpicks,
reminding you that
Sherwood Anderson
died with one stuck
in his throat
while consuming a dirty
dry martini.
and if you're feeling
depressed and saddened
like mr. Hemmingway
or dear ms. plath
please call
our hot line, operators
are standing by.

operators are standing by

your new doctor
is all
over
the social media.
I liked her on facebook,
but talking
by phone or in person
is an anathema to
her.
her e mails
are gentle though,
with a literary bent,
benign
in the sense of not
judging
you for your bad
eating
habits, keeping
at arms length such
things as kale
and Brussel sprouts,
or your consumption
of grey goose.
she suggests green olives
and to watch the toothpicks,
reminding you that
Sherwood Anderson
died with one stuck
in his throat
while consuming a dirty
dry martini.
and if you're feeling
depressed and saddened
like mr. Hemmingway
or dear ms. plath
please call
our hot line, operators
are standing by.

what did he look like

he was a handsome man,
she said
to the police, my poetry
professor nearing
the end of her long
career.
he kept trying to grab
my purse
as I sat in my car,
but I wouldn't let him.
we struggled
and I may have kicked
him in the mouth
with my boot. I felt
bad for that,
because he had
such pretty teeth.
I imagined he did well
with the girls. he had a nice
voice too.
not too high, or deep.
he was young and tanned.
blue eyed.
but not very strong.
he never got my purse.

what did he look like

he was a handsome man,
she said
to the police, my poetry
professor nearing
the end of her long
career.
he kept trying to grab
my purse
as I sat in my car,
but I wouldn't let him.
we struggled
and I may have kicked
him in the mouth
with my boot. I felt
bad for that,
because he had
such pretty teeth.
I imagined he did well
with the girls. he had a nice
voice too.
not too high, or deep.
he was young and tanned.
blue eyed.
but not very strong.
he never got my purse.

no gym

sometimes your mother
would let you see the muscle
in her arm,
pulling back the sleeve
of her blouse
so that an enormous bulge
popped out.
all her children
would gather around her
and take their small
hands to feel this
solid rock
on her arm. comparing it
their own
puny skin and bones.
ironing, cleaning,
hanging wet clothes on
the line,
cooking, lifting
and chasing us
did wonders for her
physique.

no gym

sometimes your mother
would let you see the muscle
in her arm,
pulling back the sleeve
of her blouse
so that an enormous bulge
popped out.
all her children
would gather around her
and take their small
hands to feel this
solid rock
on her arm. comparing it
their own
puny skin and bones.
ironing, cleaning,
hanging wet clothes on
the line,
cooking, lifting
and chasing us
did wonders for her
physique.

page one

on the surface
her book cover was interesting.
the blurbs of others,
who praised
her at great length
were written in large
white letters
on the back flap.
once you pick her up you won't
be able to put her
down.
a fun read long into the night.
mysterious
and complex.
this is a powerful woman,
who won't take no for
answer.
you get the soft back copy,
and turn
to page one.

page one

on the surface
her book cover was interesting.
the blurbs of others,
who praised
her at great length
were written in large
white letters
on the back flap.
once you pick her up you won't
be able to put her
down.
a fun read long into the night.
mysterious
and complex.
this is a powerful woman,
who won't take no for
answer.
you get the soft back copy,
and turn
to page one.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

coming up short

the magician saws
the woman in half, bloodless,
she's smiling
as he separates the front
from the back,
swirls the boxes around.
not a single scream
is heard,
no crunching of bones,
no fear.
he's happy with his work,
bowing
to the applause.
holding up the shiny
sharp toothed saw.
the feet sticking out of one
box wiggle,
while the arms on
the front wave.
then he puts them back together,
waves a wand,
and the woman appears
whole again, but shorter now,
much shorter.

coming up short

the magician saws
the woman in half, bloodless,
she's smiling
as he separates the front
from the back,
swirls the boxes around.
not a single scream
is heard,
no crunching of bones,
no fear.
he's happy with his work,
bowing
to the applause.
holding up the shiny
sharp toothed saw.
the feet sticking out of one
box wiggle,
while the arms on
the front wave.
then he puts them back together,
waves a wand,
and the woman appears
whole again, but shorter now,
much shorter.

more money

he dips
the stick into the pan
of his
accounts,
like oil, stares at the line
to see
where he stands.
half full.
down a quart
from yesterday.
more money is needed.
time to grind
the wheel,
plow the field,
stand
with a can
on the corner
where the rich
people go.

more money

he dips
the stick into the pan
of his
accounts,
like oil, stares at the line
to see
where he stands.
half full.
down a quart
from yesterday.
more money is needed.
time to grind
the wheel,
plow the field,
stand
with a can
on the corner
where the rich
people go.

her shy side

her shy side
comes out
when you touch
her hand,
she blushes, turns
a merlot
shade of pink,
dropping her
eyes,
fluttering the lashes,
long
and dark against
her pale face.
it's all a plan
to swallow you whole,
lure you
into the web
of her
desire.

her shy side

her shy side
comes out
when you touch
her hand,
she blushes, turns
a merlot
shade of pink,
dropping her
eyes,
fluttering the lashes,
long
and dark against
her pale face.
it's all a plan
to swallow you whole,
lure you
into the web
of her
desire.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

boiling water

that noise you hear
downstairs, in the kitchen
could be
the pot full of redskin
potatoes
boiling over.
you lean your ear closer to
the door.
the smoke alarm
hasn't started,
you still have a few more
minutes
to do this.

boiling water

that noise you hear
downstairs, in the kitchen
could be
the pot full of redskin
potatoes
boiling over.
you lean your ear closer to
the door.
the smoke alarm
hasn't started,
you still have a few more
minutes
to do this.

the ice cube

look at my goosebumps
she says,
putting an ice cub on her leg.
cool,
isn't it. a fleshy field
of bumps.
we are bored people.
ice cubes
are holding our interest
at nine o'clock
on a Tuesday night.
the television
is on mute,
naked and afraid.
who hasn't been you offer
her,
as she moves the ice
cube
to her knee.
what? she says.
licking the drips
off her hand.

the ice cube

look at my goosebumps
she says,
putting an ice cub on her leg.
cool,
isn't it. a fleshy field
of bumps.
we are bored people.
ice cubes
are holding our interest
at nine o'clock
on a Tuesday night.
the television
is on mute,
naked and afraid.
who hasn't been you offer
her,
as she moves the ice
cube
to her knee.
what? she says.
licking the drips
off her hand.

kindness

kindness
is often mistaken for
weakness.
but the kind
are
holding a secret.
they have a murderer's heart,
a skillful
way
of carving up
the toughest of foes.
don't nudge
the kind person,
a tip
I've learned,
embraced and know.

kindness

kindness
is often mistaken for
weakness.
but the kind
are
holding a secret.
they have a murderer's heart,
a skillful
way
of carving up
the toughest of foes.
don't nudge
the kind person,
a tip
I've learned,
embraced and know.