Wednesday, August 31, 2016

in the clouds

in the car
we'd play the cloud game
with my brothers and sisters
as our father drove us
to the eastern shore
where we would sleep in a canvas
tent staked into
sand, a mile from the beach.
I see a buffalo,
my brother would say, pointing
at his find. look, see it.
I see cotton candy, my sister
would say, then
tap my father on the shoulder
saying, can we get
cotton candy at the beach.
he'd flick his cigarette out
the window and say, maybe.
we'll see.
i see the bottom of a beautiful
woman, i'd shout out.
my head leaning out the window.
see the curves, see how
she bends over picking
up a beach ball
to which my father would,
put the sun visor up and say,
where?

in the clouds

in the car
we'd play the cloud game
with my brothers and sisters
as our father drove us
to the eastern shore
where we would sleep in a canvas
tent staked into
sand, a mile from the beach.
I see a buffalo,
my brother would say, pointing
at his find. look, see it.
I see cotton candy, my sister
would say, then
tap my father on the shoulder
saying, can we get
cotton candy at the beach.
he'd flick his cigarette out
the window and say, maybe.
we'll see.
i see the bottom of a beautiful
woman, i'd shout out.
my head leaning out the window.
see the curves, see how
she bends over picking
up a beach ball
to which my father would,
put the sun visor up and say,
where?

a resting place

all the dry
white bones in the grave yard,
says nothing
to you.
puts no fear into you.
in fact
it fascinates you.
all the stones with names
and dates
carved in above
their resting place
gives you no chill,
no reason
to change the pattern
of your life.
did it for them?

a resting place

all the dry
white bones in the grave yard,
says nothing
to you.
puts no fear into you.
in fact
it fascinates you.
all the stones with names
and dates
carved in above
their resting place
gives you no chill,
no reason
to change the pattern
of your life.
did it for them?

you're fired

he puts his
feet up on his desk. lights
a cigar
and says, boy,
I hate to do this to you,
but you're fired.
to which you reply.
thank you.
thank you dear God.
he shakes his head
and says,
putting that slice of pizza
in my desk last night
was the last straw.
do you even know what you're
doing in this office.
to which you shrug
and say no, not really.
I thought a white collar
job might be interesting.
i have to say, the free
coffee is good,
and volley ball on Wednesdays,
the Christmas party,
has been fun.
truthfully the only
thing I've looked forward
to in coming to work
was meeting the new
secretaries and going
to happy hour.
i'll get my things and go,
which is a slice of cake
i haven't eaten yet
from todays birthday party.

you're fired

he puts his
feet up on his desk. lights
a cigar
and says, boy,
I hate to do this to you,
but you're fired.
to which you reply.
thank you.
thank you dear God.
he shakes his head
and says,
putting that slice of pizza
in my desk last night
was the last straw.
do you even know what you're
doing in this office.
to which you shrug
and say no, not really.
I thought a white collar
job might be interesting.
i have to say, the free
coffee is good,
and volley ball on Wednesdays,
the Christmas party,
has been fun.
truthfully the only
thing I've looked forward
to in coming to work
was meeting the new
secretaries and going
to happy hour.
i'll get my things and go,
which is a slice of cake
i haven't eaten yet
from todays birthday party.

don't tell anyone

all day
you carry a secret
in your mouth. it rolls
around like
a smooth pebble
chattering against
your teeth, waiting
to be spit
out.
how long can your resist
telling
it to someone, anyone,
even a stranger
will do. that bird
eating bread
from your hand.
you curse the moment
you vowed
to never tell a soul.

don't tell anyone

all day
you carry a secret
in your mouth. it rolls
around like
a smooth pebble
chattering against
your teeth, waiting
to be spit
out.
how long can your resist
telling
it to someone, anyone,
even a stranger
will do. that bird
eating bread
from your hand.
you curse the moment
you vowed
to never tell a soul.

the end of summer party

bring meat and side dishes
to the party,
she says in her phone invite.
oh, and whatever you're drinking.
what about plates,
silverware and ice, I ask,
sarcastically, to which
she says. yes. of course.
oh and charcoal, if you don't mind.
and bug spray,
the yard is full of mosquitoes.
oh, and if you would be a dear,
pick up a few pounds
of cooked shrimp, peeled
and deveined, not frozen,
in a bowl.
look forward to seeing you there.

the end of summer party

bring meat and side dishes
to the party,
she says in her phone invite.
oh, and whatever you're drinking.
what about plates,
silverware and ice, I ask,
sarcastically, to which
she says. yes. of course.
oh and charcoal, if you don't mind.
and bug spray,
the yard is full of mosquitoes.
oh, and if you would be a dear,
pick up a few pounds
of cooked shrimp, peeled
and deveined, not frozen,
in a bowl.
look forward to seeing you there.

finding your religion

you have found
your religion, quite often,
usually in bad times.
a break up,
a lack of work, some sort of flu
that has you bent
over and groaning
in the bathroom.
your prayers are sincere
at these moments,
but then, in good times you
lose track of God for awhile.
the drinks are cold,
the kisses warm,
the hay is in the barn.
it's usually not longer after
this that
you find your religion again.

finding your religion

you have found
your religion, quite often,
usually in bad times.
a break up,
a lack of work, some sort of flu
that has you bent
over and groaning
in the bathroom.
your prayers are sincere
at these moments,
but then, in good times you
lose track of God for awhile.
the drinks are cold,
the kisses warm,
the hay is in the barn.
it's usually not longer after
this that
you find your religion again.

buy and sell

when my stock broker churns me
for another commission,
telling me to buy Harley and sell coke,
or saying in her soft voice,
maybe it's time
to dump Microsoft and buy apple,
you say nothing, at first.
what do you know?
your at the mercy of her now.
asking her just to keep you out
of a box behind the liquor store
when it's time to cash in
and fish.

buy and sell

when my stock broker churns me
for another commission,
telling me to buy Harley and sell coke,
or saying in her soft voice,
maybe it's time
to dump Microsoft and buy apple,
you say nothing, at first.
what do you know?
your at the mercy of her now.
asking her just to keep you out
of a box behind the liquor store
when it's time to cash in
and fish.

the thin tv

and yet,
despite
not having to get up anymore
to change
the channel,
walk across the room
and adjust the rabbit
ears, the horizontal,
giving the side
a flat handed whack.
you aren't happy
with what's on tv.
and now
where will the spider
plant go,
the framed photo of your
son,
the cat?

the thin tv

and yet,
despite
not having to get up anymore
to change
the channel,
walk across the room
and adjust the rabbit
ears, the horizontal,
giving the side
a flat handed whack.
you aren't happy
with what's on tv.
and now
where will the spider
plant go,
the framed photo of your
son,
the cat?

three sisters

the three sisters,
once in a room side by side.
are no longer speaking.
each different
and alike.
each with the same
young
shared life, now at odds.
none which can
explain why, or how they
got to where they
are, unspeaking, some
grudge, a pebble in their
shoe that for the life
of them, and in spite
of all the love they share,
they can't remove.

three sisters

the three sisters,
once in a room side by side.
are no longer speaking.
each different
and alike.
each with the same
young
shared life, now at odds.
none which can
explain why, or how they
got to where they
are, unspeaking, some
grudge, a pebble in their
shoe that for the life
of them, and in spite
of all the love they share,
they can't remove.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

call me at 5 30

your father
asks you to wake him up at five a.m. .
call me,
he says.
I need to get up
and put eye drops in my
eyes
before cataract surgery.
I can't see the alarm to set it.
so you say, sure, okay.
you try to set your alarm
but can't quite
figure it out,
being a Swedish clock
with no English directions.
so you call your friend
betty
to call you
at five twenty five
to wake you up, so that you
can call your father
to wake him up.
she calls you
and says good morning.
you call your father, but
he's up already
having coffee on the patio
and squinting at
a newspaper.

call me at 5 30

your father
asks you to wake him up at five a.m. .
call me,
he says.
I need to get up
and put eye drops in my
eyes
before cataract surgery.
I can't see the alarm to set it.
so you say, sure, okay.
you try to set your alarm
but can't quite
figure it out,
being a Swedish clock
with no English directions.
so you call your friend
betty
to call you
at five twenty five
to wake you up, so that you
can call your father
to wake him up.
she calls you
and says good morning.
you call your father, but
he's up already
having coffee on the patio
and squinting at
a newspaper.

the one in the air

she can't tell you
enough times how she used to be
a ballerina.
her eyes drift off
as she speaks softly
of being on stage, the music,
the applause,
how young she was,
how light on her feet,
on her toes.
her arms out like petals
on a rose.
I need to write a book about
my life she says,
as if it's over
at the age of fifty, as if
nothing else could come close
to those few years.
you should have seen me then,
she says, taking a picture
from her purse.
that's me, the one in the air.

the one in the air

she can't tell you
enough times how she used to be
a ballerina.
her eyes drift off
as she speaks softly
of being on stage, the music,
the applause,
how young she was,
how light on her feet,
on her toes.
her arms out like petals
on a rose.
I need to write a book about
my life she says,
as if it's over
at the age of fifty, as if
nothing else could come close
to those few years.
you should have seen me then,
she says, taking a picture
from her purse.
that's me, the one in the air.

old friends

they fall
through the cracks, quietly
slipping away,
disappearing without a sound,
a farewell
or goodbye.
they are ghosts, leaving
you,
your life, behind.
you turn around,
and they're gone, before
you know it.
but you keep walking,
holding on
to a new hand,
a new friend to walk with
stride for stride.

old friends

they fall
through the cracks, quietly
slipping away,
disappearing without a sound,
a farewell
or goodbye.
they are ghosts, leaving
you,
your life, behind.
you turn around,
and they're gone, before
you know it.
but you keep walking,
holding on
to a new hand,
a new friend to walk with
stride for stride.

the other side

each day
you take a spoon and dig.
you grind
at the dirt,
gouge the rocks
and stones
out. tunneling
a spoonful at a time.
you are past the half way
point, nearing
the place
you want to be,
beyond the wall,
the barbed fence,
the guards
in their towers.
you have never been in a
rush to get there,
but time is short,
and for once you'd
like see what it is
on the other side
of this life.

the other side

each day
you take a spoon and dig.
you grind
at the dirt,
gouge the rocks
and stones
out. tunneling
a spoonful at a time.
you are past the half way
point, nearing
the place
you want to be,
beyond the wall,
the barbed fence,
the guards
in their towers.
you have never been in a
rush to get there,
but time is short,
and for once you'd
like see what it is
on the other side
of this life.

Monday, August 29, 2016

drowning

drunk again,
he calls from a pay phone
at the beach.
a large
orange
shirt draped below
his waist, shoeless.
hopping
from foot to foot
from the heat,
his eyes red
with booze
and cocaine. it's where
the money goes.
where tomorrow goes.
where all his
yesterdays
have gone.
but in the sunlight,
against the pale
blue sky, the young girls
walking by,
he could be anyone,
anyone about to surf
a breaking wave upon
the ocean, taking
a long sweet ride.

drowning

drunk again,
he calls from a pay phone
at the beach.
a large
orange
shirt draped below
his waist, shoeless.
hopping
from foot to foot
from the heat,
his eyes red
with booze
and cocaine. it's where
the money goes.
where tomorrow goes.
where all his
yesterdays
have gone.
but in the sunlight,
against the pale
blue sky, the young girls
walking by,
he could be anyone,
anyone about to surf
a breaking wave upon
the ocean, taking
a long sweet ride.

the cat

the cat
warming herself
on the hood of a car,
opens
her eyes
when you come home,
she lets out a shallow
meow.
she is languid and lean,
an outdoors cat.
her tail stiffens
and flutters
while
her glass green eyes
catch sunlight.
she stays where she is,
just turning her
head enough
to look at you
going in, then coming
out with a saucer
of cold milk, placing it
on the stoop.
it's mutual, this distant
love affair.

the cat

the cat
warming herself
on the hood of a car,
opens
her eyes
when you come home,
she lets out a shallow
meow.
she is languid and lean,
an outdoors cat.
her tail stiffens
and flutters
while
her glass green eyes
catch sunlight.
she stays where she is,
just turning her
head enough
to look at you
going in, then coming
out with a saucer
of cold milk, placing it
on the stoop.
it's mutual, this distant
love affair.

a baby crying

there is a baby crying
next door.
through
the wall that separates you
from them.
it cries
for a long time.
you lie in your bed and listen.
you imagine
the mother coming up
the stairs,
the father leaning
into the door.
soon the baby stops,
it's a sweet sound,
the sound
of crying, then not.

a baby crying

there is a baby crying
next door.
through
the wall that separates you
from them.
it cries
for a long time.
you lie in your bed and listen.
you imagine
the mother coming up
the stairs,
the father leaning
into the door.
soon the baby stops,
it's a sweet sound,
the sound
of crying, then not.

in midair

your foot
slips on the wet spot
of the floor
for an instant
you air borne,
no longer a part of
the earth
but
aloft without wings.
the ceiling
is above,
the floor below,
and everything
of this world,
lying in between.
it's just a second,
a small
glimpse
of what tomorrow,
of what an afterlife
might bring.

in midair

your foot
slips on the wet spot
of the floor
for an instant
you air borne,
no longer a part of
the earth
but
aloft without wings.
the ceiling
is above,
the floor below,
and everything
of this world,
lying in between.
it's just a second,
a small
glimpse
of what tomorrow,
of what an afterlife
might bring.

paper bins

I start another bin
for papers.
bills,
notes, old receipts
and bank
statements. business
contracts,
summaries
of what's saved, what's
spent. cards received.
the basement closet
is full of these bins.
never to be opened,
sorted through
again.
decades old, i toss
another Christmas card
in after opening
it to see who had sent
it. signed love.
I miss you. hope
to see you again.
oh, yeah. I remember her.



paper bins

I start another bin
for papers.
bills,
notes, old receipts
and bank
statements. business
contracts,
summaries
of what's saved, what's
spent. cards received.
the basement closet
is full of these bins.
never to be opened,
sorted through
again.
decades old, i toss
another Christmas card
in after opening
it to see who had sent
it. signed love.
I miss you. hope
to see you again.
oh, yeah. I remember her.



one lost shoe

where's my
other shoe, not here,
not under
the bed,
not in the corner being
chewed
by the evil one,
my dog moe.
how could I lose one
shoe.
I look out the window,
not there,
not on the sidewalk,
or in a bush,
not in the bathroom,
not on
the steps,
or in the kitchen.
I make a few calls
asking
if anyone has seen my shoe.
it's black,
with laces.
size ten. scuff marks
on the toe.
my favorite shoe.
no one has seen it.

one lost shoe

where's my
other shoe, not here,
not under
the bed,
not in the corner being
chewed
by the evil one,
my dog moe.
how could I lose one
shoe.
I look out the window,
not there,
not on the sidewalk,
or in a bush,
not in the bathroom,
not on
the steps,
or in the kitchen.
I make a few calls
asking
if anyone has seen my shoe.
it's black,
with laces.
size ten. scuff marks
on the toe.
my favorite shoe.
no one has seen it.

the singles meet up

they meet
at a meet up for lonely
singles.
each with a sticky name tag
stuck to their blouse
or shirt.
it's early afternoon
on a sunday.
there is drinking,
bar food,
the light chatter
of people being
introduced,
then moving on to
mingle. everyone is
over fifty,
approaching sixty
and beyond.
it is a cruise ship
sailing
without water, or a
destination.
heads turn, as a new person
walks in
from the hot sun
broiling the parking lot,
adjusting his eyes
to the dark bar.
there is no love in the air,
no particular like,
or lust even.
just a day in the life,
of searching
from someone right.
nice to meet you she says,
I have to go now,
my dog is in the car.

the singles meet up

they meet
at a meet up for lonely
singles.
each with a sticky name tag
stuck to their blouse
or shirt.
it's early afternoon
on a sunday.
there is drinking,
bar food,
the light chatter
of people being
introduced,
then moving on to
mingle. everyone is
over fifty,
approaching sixty
and beyond.
it is a cruise ship
sailing
without water, or a
destination.
heads turn, as a new person
walks in
from the hot sun
broiling the parking lot,
adjusting his eyes
to the dark bar.
there is no love in the air,
no particular like,
or lust even.
just a day in the life,
of searching
from someone right.
nice to meet you she says,
I have to go now,
my dog is in the car.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

so close, so far away

some days
you remember too much.
too much
detail,
words said.
you listen too hard,
watch
too closely the movements
of others.
you take
the temperature
of every room
you walk into. it's how
you are.
nothing has changed
with the years.
you observe, collect
absorb, you are removed
from so much,
but near.

so close, so far away

some days
you remember too much.
too much
detail,
words said.
you listen too hard,
watch
too closely the movements
of others.
you take
the temperature
of every room
you walk into. it's how
you are.
nothing has changed
with the years.
you observe, collect
absorb, you are removed
from so much,
but near.

you write a letter

you write a letter
to your older self.
you tell him
not to worry, i'm coming.
things will fine.
we'll be on the water.
you'll be happy
there.
you'll be in love,
with your last love.
she'll be beside you
when you die.
she'll hold your hand
and smile,
and say,
you can go now, it
was fun, a good ride.
out the window, you'll
hear the gulls,
the water,
all the things that you
loved as a child.
the sky will be blue.
blue
being the color you
adored
and painted throughout
your life,
but you won't be.
you won't be blue, you'll
be ready having written
the last
word you could write.

you write a letter

you write a letter
to your older self.
you tell him
not to worry, i'm coming.
things will fine.
we'll be on the water.
you'll be happy
there.
you'll be in love,
with your last love.
she'll be beside you
when you die.
she'll hold your hand
and smile,
and say,
you can go now, it
was fun, a good ride.
out the window, you'll
hear the gulls,
the water,
all the things that you
loved as a child.
the sky will be blue.
blue
being the color you
adored
and painted throughout
your life,
but you won't be.
you won't be blue, you'll
be ready having written
the last
word you could write.

cash only

if you buy
three of these
you get the fourth one free,
today only.
closing, going out
of business,
everything must go.
no questions asked, you
make the call,
fifty per cent off.
no returns,
no trade in will be
denied.
a lifetime guarantee.
no middle man, no salesman
will call.
sign here,
on the dotted line.
it removes unsightly stains.
walks the dog,
takes the kids
to school.
it will change your life.
give you courage,
put hair on your head,
take hair off
your wife's chest.
you'll never need another.
batteries not
included.
if not satisfied in thirty
days,
too bad.
it's a once in a life
time deal.
sign here.
read the small print.
read the back,
cash only.
cash only.
no returns, we're out
to lunch,
we'll be right back.

cash only

if you buy
three of these
you get the fourth one free,
today only.
closing, going out
of business,
everything must go.
no questions asked, you
make the call,
fifty per cent off.
no returns,
no trade in will be
denied.
a lifetime guarantee.
no middle man, no salesman
will call.
sign here,
on the dotted line.
it removes unsightly stains.
walks the dog,
takes the kids
to school.
it will change your life.
give you courage,
put hair on your head,
take hair off
your wife's chest.
you'll never need another.
batteries not
included.
if not satisfied in thirty
days,
too bad.
it's a once in a life
time deal.
sign here.
read the small print.
read the back,
cash only.
cash only.
no returns, we're out
to lunch,
we'll be right back.

what are you doing

in her flip flops,
holding
a cold beer in one hand,
down to her running
shorts and t-shirt,
the nozzle
of the power washer in the other hand,
she blasts
the mildew and debris
from her sun soaked
deck, watching it go
from grey, to wood again.
she lights a cigarette,
and cups
her phone between her
shoulder
and ear, as it rings,
takes a sip
of beer.
i'm power washing the deck,
she says
into the phone,
what are you doing.
she sees a bee and chases
it with the spray.

what are you doing

in her flip flops,
holding
a cold beer in one hand,
down to her running
shorts and t-shirt,
the nozzle
of the power washer in the other hand,
she blasts
the mildew and debris
from her sun soaked
deck, watching it go
from grey, to wood again.
she lights a cigarette,
and cups
her phone between her
shoulder
and ear, as it rings,
takes a sip
of beer.
i'm power washing the deck,
she says
into the phone,
what are you doing.
she sees a bee and chases
it with the spray.

post card from Bali

your son
sends you a postcard
from Bali.
he has traveled
there with
his friend
and has already returned.
you stare
at the Indonesian
stamp
and markings,
the crimped edges,
his hand writing
that looks
the same as when
he was in the seventh
grade.
half script, half print,
not unlike
yours.
on the front is an island
sitting
in blue water,
a high cliff
covered in thick green
foliage.
he has returned, safely,
he thought of
you and sent
this card.

post card from Bali

your son
sends you a postcard
from Bali.
he has traveled
there with
his friend
and has already returned.
you stare
at the Indonesian
stamp
and markings,
the crimped edges,
his hand writing
that looks
the same as when
he was in the seventh
grade.
half script, half print,
not unlike
yours.
on the front is an island
sitting
in blue water,
a high cliff
covered in thick green
foliage.
he has returned, safely,
he thought of
you and sent
this card.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

tomorrow

the guilt.
catholic guilt.
is daily.
having not visited
my mother
in the senior home for nearly
two months now.
I see the bridge,
but do I cross the bridge,
no,
I don't. I think
about traffic.
I think about the time,
I think
that I need dinner, or something.
then I think
about
the endless hours
she cooked and cleaned,
sent us off to school,
read to us
before bed. I see her now
in the chair,
in front of a tv
in a strange house.
grey boned,
and weak, smiling with
my name still
on her lips. asking
where have I been.
tomorrow, perhaps.
tomorrow.

tomorrow

the guilt.
catholic guilt.
is daily.
having not visited
my mother
in the senior home for nearly
two months now.
I see the bridge,
but do I cross the bridge,
no,
I don't. I think
about traffic.
I think about the time,
I think
that I need dinner, or something.
then I think
about
the endless hours
she cooked and cleaned,
sent us off to school,
read to us
before bed. I see her now
in the chair,
in front of a tv
in a strange house.
grey boned,
and weak, smiling with
my name still
on her lips. asking
where have I been.
tomorrow, perhaps.
tomorrow.

oh really now

I express my love
and lust for the little black
Italian
sports car.
convertible no less.
new and shiny
like an ornament to hang
on my
bare tree.
but she says, don't do that,
it's a gay car, to
which I laugh
and say,
I don't care,
makes no difference
to me.
i then shake my head
and button up my purple
shirt
with long silky
sleeves.

oh really now

I express my love
and lust for the little black
Italian
sports car.
convertible no less.
new and shiny
like an ornament to hang
on my
bare tree.
but she says, don't do that,
it's a gay car, to
which I laugh
and say,
I don't care,
makes no difference
to me.
i then shake my head
and button up my purple
shirt
with long silky
sleeves.

i saw you

I saw you
in the park, there was
someone who
looked like me holding your
hand.
you kissed him.
the same way
you kiss me when you're
happy.
there was little I could say
or do,
as I too
was being kissed
by someone who looked
almost like
you.

i saw you

I saw you
in the park, there was
someone who
looked like me holding your
hand.
you kissed him.
the same way
you kiss me when you're
happy.
there was little I could say
or do,
as I too
was being kissed
by someone who looked
almost like
you.

cheerful

a boy named
cricke, a gorilla
on the football team,
once put a broken mountain dew
bottle
under your back tire,
hoping
to flatten it.
he was in love
with Vivian,
who you were visiting,
captain of the cheerleaders.
you were in the way,
bringing her
a dozen fresh cut
flowers
from the grocery store.
years later
you heard that cricket
jumped off
a bridge.
perhaps from the lack
of love he received.
and Vivian, you saw her
once in a
bar downtown, she hardly
remembered you,
or the broken bottle, or
cricket, but she was
still very cheerful
as she sipped her chardonnay.

cheerful

a boy named
cricke, a gorilla
on the football team,
once put a broken mountain dew
bottle
under your back tire,
hoping
to flatten it.
he was in love
with Vivian,
who you were visiting,
captain of the cheerleaders.
you were in the way,
bringing her
a dozen fresh cut
flowers
from the grocery store.
years later
you heard that cricket
jumped off
a bridge.
perhaps from the lack
of love he received.
and Vivian, you saw her
once in a
bar downtown, she hardly
remembered you,
or the broken bottle, or
cricket, but she was
still very cheerful
as she sipped her chardonnay.

the open gate

the open gate
makes you push your eyes
to either side
of the yard.
who has come and gone
in the night, leaving
no trace.
without a sound,
not a clink of the metal
lock
or hinge, or squeak
of door.
was it just wind?
or someone
wanting in,
wanting more
of what they might not have
enough of.

the open gate

the open gate
makes you push your eyes
to either side
of the yard.
who has come and gone
in the night, leaving
no trace.
without a sound,
not a clink of the metal
lock
or hinge, or squeak
of door.
was it just wind?
or someone
wanting in,
wanting more
of what they might not have
enough of.

blankets

so much of what
you believe to be true
is untrue.
this blanket
that was woven for you,
that covers
your young body
at night
slowly unravels.
each thread pulled
by you, or others.
soon you will
make your own version
of what is or isn't
true,
and bring it to your
son, to keep
him warm
and unknowing through
his early
life.

blankets

so much of what
you believe to be true
is untrue.
this blanket
that was woven for you,
that covers
your young body
at night
slowly unravels.
each thread pulled
by you, or others.
soon you will
make your own version
of what is or isn't
true,
and bring it to your
son, to keep
him warm
and unknowing through
his early
life.

chipped

why you keep
the chipped cup is not known.
you turn
it around
so as not to cut
your lip
as you sip coffee
in the morning.
if you threw away
everything
and everyone
that was slightly
defective,
you'd have no friends
at all, or
cups to drink from.

chipped

why you keep
the chipped cup is not known.
you turn
it around
so as not to cut
your lip
as you sip coffee
in the morning.
if you threw away
everything
and everyone
that was slightly
defective,
you'd have no friends
at all, or
cups to drink from.

real school

as kids,
in the seventh grade,
we'd skip school,
pretending to go to the bus
stop, but then
continue walking
across the d.c. line
on southern avenue.
we'd take
the A-9 Archives
bus to ninth street
in north west
d.c., the only white boys
on the bus,
each with a pocket
full of change and one
dollar bills.
enough to play pin ball
machines all day,
and eat
at a drug store counter.
a grilled cheese,
fries,
a coke.
at some point we'd stop
by the Blue Mirror restaurant,
a classy joint
on tenth street
where business men would
have lunch and watch
scantily clad women
jiggle on small
pedestal stages.
we'd linger near the door
as it opened and closed,
trying to catch
a glimpse of a leg, or
something.
if we did we'd yell
out, I saw her, I saw
them, then run down the street
as the doorman
chased us away.

real school

as kids,
in the seventh grade,
we'd skip school,
pretending to go to the bus
stop, but then
continue walking
across the d.c. line
on southern avenue.
we'd take
the A-9 Archives
bus to ninth street
in north west
d.c., the only white boys
on the bus,
each with a pocket
full of change and one
dollar bills.
enough to play pin ball
machines all day,
and eat
at a drug store counter.
a grilled cheese,
fries,
a coke.
at some point we'd stop
by the Blue Mirror restaurant,
a classy joint
on tenth street
where business men would
have lunch and watch
scantily clad women
jiggle on small
pedestal stages.
we'd linger near the door
as it opened and closed,
trying to catch
a glimpse of a leg, or
something.
if we did we'd yell
out, I saw her, I saw
them, then run down the street
as the doorman
chased us away.

the test kit

reluctant
to send in the testing kit
for colon cancer,
you respond
to your physician's
standardized
nag,
with a short e mail,
okay, okay. i'll do it.
quit nagging me,
i'll get to it. I've
been busy.
good lord, don't you ever
let up.
maybe later.

the test kit

reluctant
to send in the testing kit
for colon cancer,
you respond
to your physician's
standardized
nag,
with a short e mail,
okay, okay. i'll do it.
quit nagging me,
i'll get to it. I've
been busy.
good lord, don't you ever
let up.
maybe later.

no more room

I put the styro-foam
container
of left overs,
a chicken salad,
with figs
into the fridge.
I squeeze it between
the Chinese boxes,
full of kung pao chicken,
and rice, and a large
pizza box
holding one slice
of pepperoni with
extra cheese. there is a black
box holding a third
of a cold
rib eye steak
from last Thursday.
a dollop of mashed potatoes
nestled
against the darkened
meat.
I don't want to open it
and look
to see how it's doing.
the lasagna
that I on ate on sunday is
wrapped in clear
plastic and sits on top
of that.
i'm nearly out of room,
to put more,
I need to stay home tonight.

no more room

I put the styro-foam
container
of left overs,
a chicken salad,
with figs
into the fridge.
I squeeze it between
the Chinese boxes,
full of kung pao chicken,
and rice, and a large
pizza box
holding one slice
of pepperoni with
extra cheese. there is a black
box holding a third
of a cold
rib eye steak
from last Thursday.
a dollop of mashed potatoes
nestled
against the darkened
meat.
I don't want to open it
and look
to see how it's doing.
the lasagna
that I on ate on sunday is
wrapped in clear
plastic and sits on top
of that.
i'm nearly out of room,
to put more,
I need to stay home tonight.

on the bright side

on the bright, she says,
you have
your health.
you look at her and sneeze.
blow
your nose.
well, sort of,
she says. but life
is not all that bad
for you.
you have your wits
about you. you can't put
a price on that.
she stares at your
black socks
as you tighten
the terry cloth robe
about you.
there is shaving
cream in your ear.
well, let's look
on the bright side,
she says again,
playing with her hair.
it's a nice
day outside.

on the bright side

on the bright, she says,
you have
your health.
you look at her and sneeze.
blow
your nose.
well, sort of,
she says. but life
is not all that bad
for you.
you have your wits
about you. you can't put
a price on that.
she stares at your
black socks
as you tighten
the terry cloth robe
about you.
there is shaving
cream in your ear.
well, let's look
on the bright side,
she says again,
playing with her hair.
it's a nice
day outside.

Friday, August 26, 2016

each to his own island

each man to own
island, his own place
of rest
and quiet.
each to his own silence,
leaving
what the day brought
behind. some islands
are liquid, some
in pill form,
some in books, or film,
or sleep,
some in the curve of a woman
who lingers
in the moonlight
upon his bed. each man,
to his own
island.

each to his own island

each man to own
island, his own place
of rest
and quiet.
each to his own silence,
leaving
what the day brought
behind. some islands
are liquid, some
in pill form,
some in books, or film,
or sleep,
some in the curve of a woman
who lingers
in the moonlight
upon his bed. each man,
to his own
island.

tomorrow they will come

she's impatient
waiting
for the ill to come through
the door.
so she paints a table,
using
a short brush,
with long strokes of white.
watching it
glisten, then dry
in the light. she
arranges books, her desk,
puts a vase
of flowers on the sill.
she brushes her hair
in a mirror, then
looks out
the window
as the sky fades from
blue
into darkness.
tomorrow they will come.

tomorrow they will come

she's impatient
waiting
for the ill to come through
the door.
so she paints a table,
using
a short brush,
with long strokes of white.
watching it
glisten, then dry
in the light. she
arranges books, her desk,
puts a vase
of flowers on the sill.
she brushes her hair
in a mirror, then
looks out
the window
as the sky fades from
blue
into darkness.
tomorrow they will come.

whispers in the leaves

there are no
rumors
in the animal kingdom,
no whispered
gossip
between the trees,
amongst the bramble,
beneath
fallen leaves.
the fish pay
no never mind
to what has happened
or what may
occur, by who, or when.
it's good
to not know, to not
care,
carelessly
about what is or is
not to be.

whispers in the leaves

there are no
rumors
in the animal kingdom,
no whispered
gossip
between the trees,
amongst the bramble,
beneath
fallen leaves.
the fish pay
no never mind
to what has happened
or what may
occur, by who, or when.
it's good
to not know, to not
care,
carelessly
about what is or is
not to be.

ice cream

ice cream
is your friend.
how you can lick and lick
at a cone
and be content.
just you alone
on the park bench
watching
the joggers, watching
you,
jealous as they run,
having none.

ice cream

ice cream
is your friend.
how you can lick and lick
at a cone
and be content.
just you alone
on the park bench
watching
the joggers, watching
you,
jealous as they run,
having none.

the charted course

for grief
for sorrow, you have no words.
you keep
your sighs to yourself,
you write in response,
small, clichéd
sentiments.
you want to throw rose petals.
you want
to shower
them in love.
touch their hand,
put your cheek
against theirs
and whisper something
that will help.
but the world doesn't work
that way.
in death,
the days ahead are charted
out, grim times,
and hard.

the charted course

for grief
for sorrow, you have no words.
you keep
your sighs to yourself,
you write in response,
small, clichéd
sentiments.
you want to throw rose petals.
you want
to shower
them in love.
touch their hand,
put your cheek
against theirs
and whisper something
that will help.
but the world doesn't work
that way.
in death,
the days ahead are charted
out, grim times,
and hard.

the hollows

as another friend
moves
away or
dies, a slight wind,
not dark,
but cool
blows against you.
the chill
makes you button up
and stick
your hands
deep into your pockets.
these hollow
spaces
will be filled again,
but not
the same,
each loss unique,
each
day ahead, unknown.

the hollows

as another friend
moves
away or
dies, a slight wind,
not dark,
but cool
blows against you.
the chill
makes you button up
and stick
your hands
deep into your pockets.
these hollow
spaces
will be filled again,
but not
the same,
each loss unique,
each
day ahead, unknown.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

the wheel and fire

they talk about the stone
age,
when fire
and the wheel suddenly
occurred
to someone
hunting animals
with a wooden spear.
then
the industrial age.
machines. factories.
the digital
age, where I don't know
what's going on
with all these
electronic gizmos.
i'm still in the pen
and paper
age.
keeping notes
with ink
on a loose leaf notebook.
but I do make
use
of the wheel
and fire.

the wheel and fire

they talk about the stone
age,
when fire
and the wheel suddenly
occurred
to someone
hunting animals
with a wooden spear.
then
the industrial age.
machines. factories.
the digital
age, where I don't know
what's going on
with all these
electronic gizmos.
i'm still in the pen
and paper
age.
keeping notes
with ink
on a loose leaf notebook.
but I do make
use
of the wheel
and fire.

in another life

hardly ever
do you hear, I was an
Egyptian slave
in another life,
pushing blocks of stone
onto one
another making
pyramids.
working all day
in the grueling sun,
being whipped
by the boss man.
instead you hear,
I was queen, or a king,
or prince,
deciding the future
of a country,
benevolent and kind.
you never hear
I was or a toll booth
operator,
collecting change.
sometimes I can feel
and hear the money being
thrown into the basket
before the light turns
green.

in another life

hardly ever
do you hear, I was an
Egyptian slave
in another life,
pushing blocks of stone
onto one
another making
pyramids.
working all day
in the grueling sun,
being whipped
by the boss man.
instead you hear,
I was queen, or a king,
or prince,
deciding the future
of a country,
benevolent and kind.
you never hear
I was or a toll booth
operator,
collecting change.
sometimes I can feel
and hear the money being
thrown into the basket
before the light turns
green.

he has a farm

I don't like him,
she says, he's hard
to be around,
but he has a farm
out in the country.
it's very peaceful
out there. he has
pigs, goats, horses,
that sort of thing.
in the morning
the rooster crows
and we get eggs
from the barn for
breakfast.
but I don't really
like him, it's just
something to do.
ya know?

he has a farm

I don't like him,
she says, he's hard
to be around,
but he has a farm
out in the country.
it's very peaceful
out there. he has
pigs, goats, horses,
that sort of thing.
in the morning
the rooster crows
and we get eggs
from the barn for
breakfast.
but I don't really
like him, it's just
something to do.
ya know?

binge watching

you binge
on a show, staying up late
clicking
through the season
one episode
after another, it's
one a.m.,
yet still
you sit and watch,
they own you,
you are one of them.
it's so sad
when the season
ends.
the cliff hanger
teasing you.
what now to do
with your late
night hours, waiting
for the weekend.

binge watching

you binge
on a show, staying up late
clicking
through the season
one episode
after another, it's
one a.m.,
yet still
you sit and watch,
they own you,
you are one of them.
it's so sad
when the season
ends.
the cliff hanger
teasing you.
what now to do
with your late
night hours, waiting
for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

the maids are coming

you are giddy
over the maids coming
to clean your house.
but you have
to clean first. it would
be embarrassing to
leave it the way
it is
and let them see the dust
and clutter
that you live
in. you tell them,
Friday, that should
give you plenty
of time to vacuum
and change the sheets,
fold laundry,
and scrub those bathrooms.
you only have
48 hours
before they come,
better get busy
hiding the check books
and cash,
important papers,
and putting the key
under the mat.

the maids are coming

you are giddy
over the maids coming
to clean your house.
but you have
to clean first. it would
be embarrassing to
leave it the way
it is
and let them see the dust
and clutter
that you live
in. you tell them,
Friday, that should
give you plenty
of time to vacuum
and change the sheets,
fold laundry,
and scrub those bathrooms.
you only have
48 hours
before they come,
better get busy
hiding the check books
and cash,
important papers,
and putting the key
under the mat.

street cat

the street cat,
fat
and slow,
cries when he sees
you. he
comes over
and weaves his thick
body
between your legs.
you get him a saucer
of milk. setting it on the porch.
he cries some more,
then takes a few licks.
he's trying to tell
you something,
so you listen
for awhile, but soon
go.
you have to go to work.
when you get
home,
you see the cat
under a car, sleeping,
he cries, but
lies there in the warm
shadow.
you yell out, hey,
lazy bum,
which makes his tail
swing around
like a black soft wand.


street cat

the street cat,
fat
and slow,
cries when he sees
you. he
comes over
and weaves his thick
body
between your legs.
you get him a saucer
of milk. setting it on the porch.
he cries some more,
then takes a few licks.
he's trying to tell
you something,
so you listen
for awhile, but soon
go.
you have to go to work.
when you get
home,
you see the cat
under a car, sleeping,
he cries, but
lies there in the warm
shadow.
you yell out, hey,
lazy bum,
which makes his tail
swing around
like a black soft wand.


is it over

I can't get over
how painless
the shingles shot is
when injected
into my arm
by the Kaiser provider.
she's a german woman,
with harsh blue
eyes,
knotted hair,
I think of a cafeteria
worker
when I look at
her hands.
long and boney.
I can see her ladling a
spoonful of stewed tomatoes
into a Dixie cup.
I tell her, I didn't
even feel
that. is it over.
she laughs, rubbing
a cotton ball
against the point
where the needle went
in.
don't leave the building
for fifteen
minutes, she says
in her german
accent. okay, I tell.
putting my shirt on.

is it over

I can't get over
how painless
the shingles shot is
when injected
into my arm
by the Kaiser provider.
she's a german woman,
with harsh blue
eyes,
knotted hair,
I think of a cafeteria
worker
when I look at
her hands.
long and boney.
I can see her ladling a
spoonful of stewed tomatoes
into a Dixie cup.
I tell her, I didn't
even feel
that. is it over.
she laughs, rubbing
a cotton ball
against the point
where the needle went
in.
don't leave the building
for fifteen
minutes, she says
in her german
accent. okay, I tell.
putting my shirt on.

at the drive in

the year is vague.
somewhere in the late sixties,
when my father,
with his turquoise
chevrolet impala packed his seven
children in
to take them to the drive in.
I remember the movie. mutiny on the bounty.
with marlon brando.
we lay on the roof of the car,
on the hood, sprawled
out under the stars,
not caring about the movie,
the static filled metal
speaker hanging in the window.
the swings and playground
at the front
held more interest as did
the oversized shrimp
rolls from the concession
stand. deep fried and greasy.
popcorn and sodas.
together my brothers and I would
go to the bathroom,
astounded by the bathtub
like trough that we had to stand
over and pee in.
with other men and boys no
less. quickly we zipped up
and ran out of there.
my mother may have been
in the car,
bit I have no recollection
of her in the front seat.
I just remember my father,
snoring, sound asleep
as we left the car
and roamed the graveled
hills of the lot, our shadows
flickering under the bright
wide screen.

at the drive in

the year is vague.
somewhere in the late sixties,
when my father,
with his turquoise
chevrolet impala packed his seven
children in
to take them to the drive in.
I remember the movie. mutiny on the bounty.
with marlon brando.
we lay on the roof of the car,
on the hood, sprawled
out under the stars,
not caring about the movie,
the static filled metal
speaker hanging in the window.
the swings and playground
at the front
held more interest as did
the oversized shrimp
rolls from the concession
stand. deep fried and greasy.
popcorn and sodas.
together my brothers and I would
go to the bathroom,
astounded by the bathtub
like trough that we had to stand
over and pee in.
with other men and boys no
less. quickly we zipped up
and ran out of there.
my mother may have been
in the car,
bit I have no recollection
of her in the front seat.
I just remember my father,
snoring, sound asleep
as we left the car
and roamed the graveled
hills of the lot, our shadows
flickering under the bright
wide screen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

not a good kisser

we were not good kissers.
our teeth managed
to bang against one another
when the heat
was on. i can still
taste the warm
blood on my lips.
her braces didn't help
either.
she had to watch what she
ate.
no chili, or stews for
her.
i would turn my head away
when she bit into
an ear of corn,
for fear of getting hit
in the eye by a kernel,
or one of her little rubber
bands, torn loose
and sent flying.
we were not good kissers,
so we eventually
stopped doing that,
and concentrated
on other things.

not a good kisser

we were not good kissers.
our teeth managed
to bang against one another
when the heat
was on. i can still
taste the warm
blood on my lips.
her braces didn't help
either.
she had to watch what she
ate.
no chili, or stews for
her.
i would turn my head away
when she bit into
an ear of corn,
for fear of getting hit
in the eye by a kernel,
or one of her little rubber
bands, torn loose
and sent flying.
we were not good kissers,
so we eventually
stopped doing that,
and concentrated
on other things.

selfish me

i stopped lending things.
I've become
selfish
with age.
too many books I've
loved
have not returned.
please,
order your own dessert,
i'll say.
or no, you can't have
a bite of this or that
from my plate,
eat your own
misgivings.
i crave
the quiet, the softly
lit room,
the dusty book,
the tv on low,
a black and white
movie. the whole sofa,
not an edge,
or just
one pillow.

selfish me

i stopped lending things.
I've become
selfish
with age.
too many books I've
loved
have not returned.
please,
order your own dessert,
i'll say.
or no, you can't have
a bite of this or that
from my plate,
eat your own
misgivings.
i crave
the quiet, the softly
lit room,
the dusty book,
the tv on low,
a black and white
movie. the whole sofa,
not an edge,
or just
one pillow.

once gone

the less I hear
from you,
the more I want to hear
from you.
your absence
is large.
you are in every room.
in every
conversation
that isn't about you.
somehow
you've stayed
once gone.

once gone

the less I hear
from you,
the more I want to hear
from you.
your absence
is large.
you are in every room.
in every
conversation
that isn't about you.
somehow
you've stayed
once gone.

in detail

I remember
other things. the smaller
things.
things said,
or left unsaid.
the bread
gone stale on the table,
the open
wine, left
warm.
I remember you staring
off into
the distance.
somehow without me,
despite
me being across the table.
a portent
of things to come.
I remember,
the waiter, how unhappy
he seemed.
distracted by his own
life perhaps,
giving me your plate,
mine to you.
how long it took to go
once done.
I remember how easy the sun
slipped between the changing
colors of trees
near the fountain,
thinking how
quickly the seasons arrive
then leave.

in detail

I remember
other things. the smaller
things.
things said,
or left unsaid.
the bread
gone stale on the table,
the open
wine, left
warm.
I remember you staring
off into
the distance.
somehow without me,
despite
me being across the table.
a portent
of things to come.
I remember,
the waiter, how unhappy
he seemed.
distracted by his own
life perhaps,
giving me your plate,
mine to you.
how long it took to go
once done.
I remember how easy the sun
slipped between the changing
colors of trees
near the fountain,
thinking how
quickly the seasons arrive
then leave.

Monday, August 22, 2016

what about me

finally she gives
up on reading what you write.
she's done
with it.
too much to devour,
to digest.
to get.
he'll write more tomorrow,
i'll catch up
sooner later,
but it's not the same
when he doesn't write
about me, she says.
it's not as much fun
when it's about other people
and things.
I want to know what he thinks
of me.
what about me.
more about me.
but that ship has sailed.
there is no
me anymore.

what about me

finally she gives
up on reading what you write.
she's done
with it.
too much to devour,
to digest.
to get.
he'll write more tomorrow,
i'll catch up
sooner later,
but it's not the same
when he doesn't write
about me, she says.
it's not as much fun
when it's about other people
and things.
I want to know what he thinks
of me.
what about me.
more about me.
but that ship has sailed.
there is no
me anymore.

the blue bruise

some cuts
appear out of nowhere.
on your hand
or leg.
a bruise too,
unknown until you rub
it's blue
circle, a bump.
sometimes blood.
hard to know,
when it happens, the hurt
the pain,
maybe when you lie
down in bed
tonight and review
the day,
you'll remember what
was said,
who snubbed you,
what nail brushed up
against your leg.

the blue bruise

some cuts
appear out of nowhere.
on your hand
or leg.
a bruise too,
unknown until you rub
it's blue
circle, a bump.
sometimes blood.
hard to know,
when it happens, the hurt
the pain,
maybe when you lie
down in bed
tonight and review
the day,
you'll remember what
was said,
who snubbed you,
what nail brushed up
against your leg.

speed it up and say i do

at the wedding, I wanted
to yell out from my pew,
don't do it.
please, stop the madness,
they don't even
love each other,
but I didn't.
if there was no
wedding,
there would be no party
afterwards,
no drinks,
no food, no dancing,
no three tiered cake,
and oh how I love cake,
so I kept my mouth
shut
and bit my tongue.
we all make mistakes,
some more than others.
let the party
begin
before anyone comes
to their senses.

speed it up and say i do

at the wedding, I wanted
to yell out from my pew,
don't do it.
please, stop the madness,
they don't even
love each other,
but I didn't.
if there was no
wedding,
there would be no party
afterwards,
no drinks,
no food, no dancing,
no three tiered cake,
and oh how I love cake,
so I kept my mouth
shut
and bit my tongue.
we all make mistakes,
some more than others.
let the party
begin
before anyone comes
to their senses.

a place once home

maybe it was
the broken pipe, the raw
smell
of something
leaking,
the chain linked
fence,
or the rotted wood,
full of wasps.
maybe it was the back
porch wobbling,
the screen door unclosed.
or the dog
tied to a tree.
or the boy in the window
too old
for bottle,
but holding one
anyway.
maybe it was the dim
lights,
the blinds
half pulled,
the broken window.
the flat roof
where teenagers would
gather
to smoke.
maybe it was all of it,
or some it,
but it reminded you
of a place
once home.

a place once home

maybe it was
the broken pipe, the raw
smell
of something
leaking,
the chain linked
fence,
or the rotted wood,
full of wasps.
maybe it was the back
porch wobbling,
the screen door unclosed.
or the dog
tied to a tree.
or the boy in the window
too old
for bottle,
but holding one
anyway.
maybe it was the dim
lights,
the blinds
half pulled,
the broken window.
the flat roof
where teenagers would
gather
to smoke.
maybe it was all of it,
or some it,
but it reminded you
of a place
once home.

keep your hat on

she liked to keep
her hat on when we made love.
just the hat.
she had
lots of hats.
wide brimmed and floppy,
white and black, some
for spring, mint green,
others for fall,
with splashes of red
and orange
in the band, ribbons
cascading down
the back.
I never asked her about
the hats.
they were a nice touch,
why question
anything when things
are going so
well.

keep your hat on

she liked to keep
her hat on when we made love.
just the hat.
she had
lots of hats.
wide brimmed and floppy,
white and black, some
for spring, mint green,
others for fall,
with splashes of red
and orange
in the band, ribbons
cascading down
the back.
I never asked her about
the hats.
they were a nice touch,
why question
anything when things
are going so
well.

no justice

the cop wrote
the ticket out wrong, so I gave
it a shot
in traffic court.
I made a right
not a left.
it was raining, I was two
minutes past
the sign that read
no turn after three.
so I went to court in a tight
fitting shirt and tie,
with my erroneous ticket,
practicing all
night and day
in front of the mirror,
stating my defense,
doing my best f. lee bailey.
the judge would have none
of it when finally my turn
at four in the afternoon,
came up.
the cop
made a mistake,
he said, banging his
gavel
at my dismay. he meant to write
right, not left.
pay the fine, but no points.
to which I replied from
back of the courtroom.
thanks a lot. shaking my head
at the injustice of the system.
is that sarcasm?
he shouted at me, to which
I said, meekly.
no your honor.

no justice

the cop wrote
the ticket out wrong, so I gave
it a shot
in traffic court.
I made a right
not a left.
it was raining, I was two
minutes past
the sign that read
no turn after three.
so I went to court in a tight
fitting shirt and tie,
with my erroneous ticket,
practicing all
night and day
in front of the mirror,
stating my defense,
doing my best f. lee bailey.
the judge would have none
of it when finally my turn
at four in the afternoon,
came up.
the cop
made a mistake,
he said, banging his
gavel
at my dismay. he meant to write
right, not left.
pay the fine, but no points.
to which I replied from
back of the courtroom.
thanks a lot. shaking my head
at the injustice of the system.
is that sarcasm?
he shouted at me, to which
I said, meekly.
no your honor.

i like those hats

you like the pope.
his hats,
his gowns,
his little car made of
bullet proof glass,
the way crowds
adore him,
and cry in his presence,
hanging on
every word
and wave of his hand.
it's not a bad
gig
being the pope, but
only part time.
it might be nice having
a part time job
besides that.
maybe in retail,
or as a waiter,
getting out and seeing
how people
really are.

i like those hats

you like the pope.
his hats,
his gowns,
his little car made of
bullet proof glass,
the way crowds
adore him,
and cry in his presence,
hanging on
every word
and wave of his hand.
it's not a bad
gig
being the pope, but
only part time.
it might be nice having
a part time job
besides that.
maybe in retail,
or as a waiter,
getting out and seeing
how people
really are.

let's get together

you don't return his
call right away,
so when
finally you find the time,
to ring him
up, he doesn't answer.
he takes his
turn at not returning
your call.
this goes
on for a few years until
you run into each
other at the grocery store,
and you both
say together,
I've trying to reach
you, we should
have lunch or dinner
one night and catch up,
but you never
do.

let's get together

you don't return his
call right away,
so when
finally you find the time,
to ring him
up, he doesn't answer.
he takes his
turn at not returning
your call.
this goes
on for a few years until
you run into each
other at the grocery store,
and you both
say together,
I've trying to reach
you, we should
have lunch or dinner
one night and catch up,
but you never
do.

unlearning

part of life
is unlearning what you've
been taught
at an early age,
stripping clean
what your parents told
you again and again
what to do.
how to live,
how to think.
as your son will
in time, do
to you.

unlearning

part of life
is unlearning what you've
been taught
at an early age,
stripping clean
what your parents told
you again and again
what to do.
how to live,
how to think.
as your son will
in time, do
to you.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

bad boys

the neighborhood had
bad boys.
bad boys who got decent grades,
and played
sports,
but were bored with being good.
so they cursed,
they peeped
into windows, or stole
hubcaps,
they lifted sodas
from the store, stuffing
comics
into their pants.
they knew somehow of jokes,
mostly about sex.
on occasion one would have
a playboy magazine
to share with
the other boys in a stairwell
away from parents.
but being
the good catholic boy that
you were,
you stood back
and watched.
listened. you believed in
sin,
no sin less than another,
still do, which makes
life difficult.

bad boys

the neighborhood had
bad boys.
bad boys who got decent grades,
and played
sports,
but were bored with being good.
so they cursed,
they peeped
into windows, or stole
hubcaps,
they lifted sodas
from the store, stuffing
comics
into their pants.
they knew somehow of jokes,
mostly about sex.
on occasion one would have
a playboy magazine
to share with
the other boys in a stairwell
away from parents.
but being
the good catholic boy that
you were,
you stood back
and watched.
listened. you believed in
sin,
no sin less than another,
still do, which makes
life difficult.

lately

while writing checks
on bill night,
sunday night.
ink pen, envelopes,
check books,
receipts and stamps,
a bloody mary with a stalk
of celery
snug against the ice
in hand,
I consider online
banking.
but no.
I prefer to make
my own
mistakes.
I even consider
removing all the cash
out from under
my mattress
and putting it somewhere
safer,
but no place comes
to mind, lately.

lately

while writing checks
on bill night,
sunday night.
ink pen, envelopes,
check books,
receipts and stamps,
a bloody mary with a stalk
of celery
snug against the ice
in hand,
I consider online
banking.
but no.
I prefer to make
my own
mistakes.
I even consider
removing all the cash
out from under
my mattress
and putting it somewhere
safer,
but no place comes
to mind, lately.

too much

too generous with praise,
I see
right through it.
I fold my
arms together, crossing
my chest.
protecting my heart.
I know a lie
when I smell one,
and the closer you get,
the more I sneeze
and sniffle, I know
what's up
your sleeveless
dress, your batting
lashes, your
luscious red lips.
there's more, much
more behind all
of this.

too much

too generous with praise,
I see
right through it.
I fold my
arms together, crossing
my chest.
protecting my heart.
I know a lie
when I smell one,
and the closer you get,
the more I sneeze
and sniffle, I know
what's up
your sleeveless
dress, your batting
lashes, your
luscious red lips.
there's more, much
more behind all
of this.

we are moth

why go
to mars, why send
a drink
over to the most beautiful
woman in the bar,
why
buy a lottery ticket
a hundreds worth
despite the odds.
because.
as men,
we are innately fools
for risk
and danger, and
often fall into the habit
of making
bad decisions.
we are moth.
you are flame.

we are moth

why go
to mars, why send
a drink
over to the most beautiful
woman in the bar,
why
buy a lottery ticket
a hundreds worth
despite the odds.
because.
as men,
we are innately fools
for risk
and danger, and
often fall into the habit
of making
bad decisions.
we are moth.
you are flame.

enough

sometimes all it takes
is a slice
of warm bread,
butter, a knife with
blueberry jam
against the blade.
coffee,
and a breeze.
the quiet of early morning.
just gulls
floating lazy in the sky.
the ocean can be there
too,
across the still
cool sand,
the sun, just barely
up enough
to make it hot again.
that's enough
to sweeten
the summer
and make it memorable.

enough

sometimes all it takes
is a slice
of warm bread,
butter, a knife with
blueberry jam
against the blade.
coffee,
and a breeze.
the quiet of early morning.
just gulls
floating lazy in the sky.
the ocean can be there
too,
across the still
cool sand,
the sun, just barely
up enough
to make it hot again.
that's enough
to sweeten
the summer
and make it memorable.

i like it, but

everyone
has a book inside them. a story to tell.
so they write
and write.
they take a creative writing
course down
at the local
community college.
they hand in pages of their
tale,
the other students
chew it up, spit it out.
we like it, they say,
but it needs more work.
it needs
to go somewhere.
it's boring.
I don't care about these people,
these characters
in your story.
show don't tell.
then at the mid way point
of the class
everyone goes outside to smoke
cigarettes
and make awkward
conversation about nothing
in particular. after ten
minutes out in the cold,
they rub the lit butts
of their cigarettes
out under their
shoes, then go back in for more.

i like it, but

everyone
has a book inside them. a story to tell.
so they write
and write.
they take a creative writing
course down
at the local
community college.
they hand in pages of their
tale,
the other students
chew it up, spit it out.
we like it, they say,
but it needs more work.
it needs
to go somewhere.
it's boring.
I don't care about these people,
these characters
in your story.
show don't tell.
then at the mid way point
of the class
everyone goes outside to smoke
cigarettes
and make awkward
conversation about nothing
in particular. after ten
minutes out in the cold,
they rub the lit butts
of their cigarettes
out under their
shoes, then go back in for more.

close your eyes

once, many years ago,
i was on a job interview
where
I was asked to close
my eyes
and think about where I wanted
to be in five
years.
I needed the job, so I
closed my eyes, I leaned
back.
I thought about how I didn't
want to be here,
in this office,
with this person across
the desk,
studying my resume.
I wanted to be on a beach
somewhere warm,
with white sand,
blue water,
a beautiful woman beside me.
he waited, and waited.
I fell asleep,
a smile etched across my lips.
saved again from being
where id didn't want to be.

close your eyes

once, many years ago,
i was on a job interview
where
I was asked to close
my eyes
and think about where I wanted
to be in five
years.
I needed the job, so I
closed my eyes, I leaned
back.
I thought about how I didn't
want to be here,
in this office,
with this person across
the desk,
studying my resume.
I wanted to be on a beach
somewhere warm,
with white sand,
blue water,
a beautiful woman beside me.
he waited, and waited.
I fell asleep,
a smile etched across my lips.
saved again from being
where id didn't want to be.

it happens

it happens,
you wake up and wonder,
where am I
who is this person beside
me,
wearing a prairie dress,
sleeping.
your wallet in her hands.
a dog at the end of the bed,
scratching, licking.
children
running
around in the hallway
with matches
and magic markers.
how did I get here,
how do I get out.

it happens

it happens,
you wake up and wonder,
where am I
who is this person beside
me,
wearing a prairie dress,
sleeping.
your wallet in her hands.
a dog at the end of the bed,
scratching, licking.
children
running
around in the hallway
with matches
and magic markers.
how did I get here,
how do I get out.

Friday, August 19, 2016

the bad children

other people's children
are so bad.
so sticky
and unruly.
they bob about saying
things
with high pitched voices.
the burn of blue
eyes
staring at you
with guilt and suspicion,
yes, you old man.
they are a fingernail,
bitten down,
away from
doing something
wrong.
touching, gnashing,
mean
spirited already
before the world
has even sunk
its teeth into them.
these children, not yours,
of course,
but other people's,
they need to
stay inside,
away. from us.
lay down a road
of candy and video games
and steer them inside.

the bad children

other people's children
are so bad.
so sticky
and unruly.
they bob about saying
things
with high pitched voices.
the burn of blue
eyes
staring at you
with guilt and suspicion,
yes, you old man.
they are a fingernail,
bitten down,
away from
doing something
wrong.
touching, gnashing,
mean
spirited already
before the world
has even sunk
its teeth into them.
these children, not yours,
of course,
but other people's,
they need to
stay inside,
away. from us.
lay down a road
of candy and video games
and steer them inside.

the weight

what a crazy thing
the crying jag
is.
to spontaneously burst
out into tears,
sobbing,
clutching a wall,
or someone
to hold onto, to keep
from falling over
with grief and sorrow.
who hasn't been there,
been to those holy
grounds
that sorrow is,
or won't be
there in time.
and when you're done,
done for awhile,
exhausted you sit
and stare
at anything, trying
to find one thing that
doesn't remind you of
her,
anything that won't
start you up again,
folded under the dark
weight of
tears.

the weight

what a crazy thing
the crying jag
is.
to spontaneously burst
out into tears,
sobbing,
clutching a wall,
or someone
to hold onto, to keep
from falling over
with grief and sorrow.
who hasn't been there,
been to those holy
grounds
that sorrow is,
or won't be
there in time.
and when you're done,
done for awhile,
exhausted you sit
and stare
at anything, trying
to find one thing that
doesn't remind you of
her,
anything that won't
start you up again,
folded under the dark
weight of
tears.

they say

they say
we lose parts of us,
the skin,
the hair,
the essence of our
life,
each breath
one less to be taken.
our cells
evaporating,
our memory going soft
and vague
inside the folds
of grey.
they say
a lot of things like this
to scare us.
to make
us tremble about
old age
and death.
to hell with them.

they say

they say
we lose parts of us,
the skin,
the hair,
the essence of our
life,
each breath
one less to be taken.
our cells
evaporating,
our memory going soft
and vague
inside the folds
of grey.
they say
a lot of things like this
to scare us.
to make
us tremble about
old age
and death.
to hell with them.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

somewhere in st. louis

somewhere in st. louis
she's sleeping or walking,
or getting hit by a car.
she might be
in her house, at the table
writing
a poem that she might send
me one day.
somewhere in st. louis
she's dealing with an ex husband,
her daughter,
her work.
old boyfriends, and new ones.
somewhere in st. louis
she gets tired and lies
down, stretching her long
legs out,
staring at the water stain
in the ceiling
that the workers could never
quite fix.

somewhere in st. louis

somewhere in st. louis
she's sleeping or walking,
or getting hit by a car.
she might be
in her house, at the table
writing
a poem that she might send
me one day.
somewhere in st. louis
she's dealing with an ex husband,
her daughter,
her work.
old boyfriends, and new ones.
somewhere in st. louis
she gets tired and lies
down, stretching her long
legs out,
staring at the water stain
in the ceiling
that the workers could never
quite fix.

the great poets

poetry pains me at times.
trying to read
any of the adored greats.
it's puzzling, their words,
their long winded
ways of saying but not saying
clearly enough
what they really
want to say. it
makes me weary and dismissive,
but I plug on,
hoping one day to get it.
to be smart enough
to understand
and then applaud humbly,
their confirmed
greatness. but not yet.

the great poets

poetry pains me at times.
trying to read
any of the adored greats.
it's puzzling, their words,
their long winded
ways of saying but not saying
clearly enough
what they really
want to say. it
makes me weary and dismissive,
but I plug on,
hoping one day to get it.
to be smart enough
to understand
and then applaud humbly,
their confirmed
greatness. but not yet.

write down that number

you see things
on tv that never interested
you before,
but now
you take notes
on the swinging bathtub
door,
the cream to relieve
crepe skin.
a machine to ease your breathing
when you snore.
a little blue pill
to keep you amorous.
there is a place
where they will take care of
you in
florida, it's near the water,
a nice
round pond,
with a walking path
and flamingos.
there are ramps
everywhere
and
everyone who works is dressed
in white clothes
and are smiling.

write down that number

you see things
on tv that never interested
you before,
but now
you take notes
on the swinging bathtub
door,
the cream to relieve
crepe skin.
a machine to ease your breathing
when you snore.
a little blue pill
to keep you amorous.
there is a place
where they will take care of
you in
florida, it's near the water,
a nice
round pond,
with a walking path
and flamingos.
there are ramps
everywhere
and
everyone who works is dressed
in white clothes
and are smiling.

these tacos stink

it's the worst
taco, you've ever half eaten.
a hard shell, stale,
a load of shredded
ice berg lettuce,
unseasoned
boiled chicken and canned dice
tomatoes.
no hot sauce, no cheese,
no sour cream,
no guacamole.
but the music plays on.
the weak
drinks, edged with salt
get made. they greet you at the door
with hugs,
long hand shakes
with both hands,
tipping their sombreros,
laughing
with gold teeth.
the walls are painted
orange and festive,
the place is crowded,
and yet,
the tacos stink.

these tacos stink

it's the worst
taco, you've ever half eaten.
a hard shell, stale,
a load of shredded
ice berg lettuce,
unseasoned
boiled chicken and canned dice
tomatoes.
no hot sauce, no cheese,
no sour cream,
no guacamole.
but the music plays on.
the weak
drinks, edged with salt
get made. they greet you at the door
with hugs,
long hand shakes
with both hands,
tipping their sombreros,
laughing
with gold teeth.
the walls are painted
orange and festive,
the place is crowded,
and yet,
the tacos stink.

your numbers

we feel it necessary
to apply
numbers.
age, weight, height
date of birth,
of death.
the address where you live,
which child were
you.
how many times
have you been in love,
been divorced,
how many years have you
been alone,
or at this job.
the headstone
collects it all neatly.
a bookend
of sorts.
with all read and written
just below
the cover of
turned earth.

your numbers

we feel it necessary
to apply
numbers.
age, weight, height
date of birth,
of death.
the address where you live,
which child were
you.
how many times
have you been in love,
been divorced,
how many years have you
been alone,
or at this job.
the headstone
collects it all neatly.
a bookend
of sorts.
with all read and written
just below
the cover of
turned earth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

the bell rings

how hard
to chase the dollar.
to make
ends meet.
to secure payment on
everything.
how long the day is
doing what
must be done,
hanging onto
that subway strap
and seeing
the flickering
world pass
by, along with years.
how different you
expected
life to be.
the bell rings.
it's your stop. only
thirty more
years to go.

the bell rings

how hard
to chase the dollar.
to make
ends meet.
to secure payment on
everything.
how long the day is
doing what
must be done,
hanging onto
that subway strap
and seeing
the flickering
world pass
by, along with years.
how different you
expected
life to be.
the bell rings.
it's your stop. only
thirty more
years to go.

in short

she found nothing
funny.
not a single laugh eeked
from her
mouth,
tight lipped
and scrunched as if a lemon
had just
been sucked dry
of all it's bitter
juices.
you used your best material
on her.
your imagination ran
wild with
new hilarious
observations. still nothing.
she might
give in a little and say,
quietly.
that's funny, but never
a laugh, never
a tear running down her
face with surprise,
never bending over and telling
you to stop. you're killing me.
the sex was bad too.

in short

she found nothing
funny.
not a single laugh eeked
from her
mouth,
tight lipped
and scrunched as if a lemon
had just
been sucked dry
of all it's bitter
juices.
you used your best material
on her.
your imagination ran
wild with
new hilarious
observations. still nothing.
she might
give in a little and say,
quietly.
that's funny, but never
a laugh, never
a tear running down her
face with surprise,
never bending over and telling
you to stop. you're killing me.
the sex was bad too.

milk carton photo

you see yourself when you
were ten
on the side of a milk carton
as you pour
milk onto your shredded wheat.
your dog is in
the photo too.
that striped polo shirt
you used to wear.
you're licking an ice
cream cone. you look
blissfully happy.
it's an old picture,
one that your mother used
to have on the mantle
next to all your brothers
and sisters.
you guess it's time you
mend things
and give her a call.

milk carton photo

you see yourself when you
were ten
on the side of a milk carton
as you pour
milk onto your shredded wheat.
your dog is in
the photo too.
that striped polo shirt
you used to wear.
you're licking an ice
cream cone. you look
blissfully happy.
it's an old picture,
one that your mother used
to have on the mantle
next to all your brothers
and sisters.
you guess it's time you
mend things
and give her a call.

happy feet

two left
feet keeps you off the dance
floor.
but you can
keep a beat
with your spoon
tapping it against the table
as the music
plays
and girls and dandies
dance across
the ballroom floor.
you're a closet
dancer these days.
spinning in the kitchen,
or the shower,
dipping,
gyrating to a song
playing
in your head,
or coming through the walls
from next door.

happy feet

two left
feet keeps you off the dance
floor.
but you can
keep a beat
with your spoon
tapping it against the table
as the music
plays
and girls and dandies
dance across
the ballroom floor.
you're a closet
dancer these days.
spinning in the kitchen,
or the shower,
dipping,
gyrating to a song
playing
in your head,
or coming through the walls
from next door.

for the better

the neighborhood
has changed.
there was a shooting just
the other day.
a few cars
broken into,
robberies and mayhem.
someone set
the mailbox on fire.
a dog was stolen,
a car,
a bike,
you're almost afraid
to go out
at night. the neighborhood
has changed.
but for the better.
no one
asks you where you're
going, or
when you're coming home,
or what you're
doing with your life.

for the better

the neighborhood
has changed.
there was a shooting just
the other day.
a few cars
broken into,
robberies and mayhem.
someone set
the mailbox on fire.
a dog was stolen,
a car,
a bike,
you're almost afraid
to go out
at night. the neighborhood
has changed.
but for the better.
no one
asks you where you're
going, or
when you're coming home,
or what you're
doing with your life.

Monday, August 15, 2016

the blue crab blues

you've almost made it
through the summer without having
to pick and eat
crabs for seven hours
at a picnic table.
a table covered in newspapers
that no one reads
anymore, with
puddles of plastic
cups filled
with butter, vinegar
and the tools.
mallets and pliers, forks
and knives spread out
for any hand that reaches
for them.
tools to dig out the tiny
morsels of white meat,
if any
hidden between the crusty
sharp shells that bite
and make your fingers bleed.
you haven't had to drink
the beer and swat at the flies
while some one orders
hush puppies because
they're starving.
you've been lucky this summer.


the blue crab blues

you've almost made it
through the summer without having
to pick and eat
crabs for seven hours
at a picnic table.
a table covered in newspapers
that no one reads
anymore, with
puddles of plastic
cups filled
with butter, vinegar
and the tools.
mallets and pliers, forks
and knives spread out
for any hand that reaches
for them.
tools to dig out the tiny
morsels of white meat,
if any
hidden between the crusty
sharp shells that bite
and make your fingers bleed.
you haven't had to drink
the beer and swat at the flies
while some one orders
hush puppies because
they're starving.
you've been lucky this summer.


the thick book

this book
won't read itself.
it sits there.
a cup
today on top of its
cover.
tomorrow a plate,
or mug,
or something else.
how hard it is to pick
it up
and begin
to read
the first page.
soon, one day,
soon
you say as your
feet rise up
to rest upon it.

the thick book

this book
won't read itself.
it sits there.
a cup
today on top of its
cover.
tomorrow a plate,
or mug,
or something else.
how hard it is to pick
it up
and begin
to read
the first page.
soon, one day,
soon
you say as your
feet rise up
to rest upon it.

the early army

you knew
early in life that you
would have
trouble with authority.
who were these people
bossing you around
in the cub scouts, making
you tie knots, forcing you to
study frogs,
to rub sticks together,
making a fire.
you felt constricted
in those dark
blue uniforms
with yellow bandanas,
hats.
testing your mettle
at such an early age.
what kind of tree
is that.
name those flowers.
point to me where
the north star is.
never again would you allow
such a thing to
happen
you said to yourself,
making a vow
at the age of seven.

the early army

you knew
early in life that you
would have
trouble with authority.
who were these people
bossing you around
in the cub scouts, making
you tie knots, forcing you to
study frogs,
to rub sticks together,
making a fire.
you felt constricted
in those dark
blue uniforms
with yellow bandanas,
hats.
testing your mettle
at such an early age.
what kind of tree
is that.
name those flowers.
point to me where
the north star is.
never again would you allow
such a thing to
happen
you said to yourself,
making a vow
at the age of seven.

in the pink

she wants a pink
wall.
she gets a pink wall.
with money
you get what you want
no matter
how crazy the idea
might be.
I give her month,
and she'll be calling
me back
for blue, worn
out under the glow
of pink.

in the pink

she wants a pink
wall.
she gets a pink wall.
with money
you get what you want
no matter
how crazy the idea
might be.
I give her month,
and she'll be calling
me back
for blue, worn
out under the glow
of pink.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

sunday night laundry

at the iron,
in the basement. a single
light swinging
from the rafters.
the washing machine
churning.
sunday night.
the cold floor under
your bare feet.
a basket of white
and blue
shirts,
awaiting to be pressed.
you think of
your mother on nights like
this.
how peaceful she
was to iron,
to steam
and spray starch
along a sleeve or collar,
smoothing out the wrinkles,
then placing them onto a hanger,
how still her world was
with us in bed, not quite
asleep,
her radio on low,
Sinatra,
the platters.
nat king cole.

sunday night laundry

at the iron,
in the basement. a single
light swinging
from the rafters.
the washing machine
churning.
sunday night.
the cold floor under
your bare feet.
a basket of white
and blue
shirts,
awaiting to be pressed.
you think of
your mother on nights like
this.
how peaceful she
was to iron,
to steam
and spray starch
along a sleeve or collar,
smoothing out the wrinkles,
then placing them onto a hanger,
how still her world was
with us in bed, not quite
asleep,
her radio on low,
Sinatra,
the platters.
nat king cole.

being alone

come here, stand
by the light, by the window.
let me see
the lines in your face,
the worry or fear
of dying alone
etched in the corners
of your eyes.
let me brush back
those strands of grey hair,
let me see how your lips
are parched
and parted unkissed
for so many years,
let me touch
your hands, veined
blue
and raw from washing
so many plates
at the sink,
alone.

being alone

come here, stand
by the light, by the window.
let me see
the lines in your face,
the worry or fear
of dying alone
etched in the corners
of your eyes.
let me brush back
those strands of grey hair,
let me see how your lips
are parched
and parted unkissed
for so many years,
let me touch
your hands, veined
blue
and raw from washing
so many plates
at the sink,
alone.

this day

you feel
as if this day has you
in mind.
the way the lights
are all green,
the way
the sun climbs
behind a cloud.
the way the room
gets quiet
and the drinks
stay cold.
you feel as if this
day
is one you'd like
to bottle
and keep near,
keep close for when
the world goes loud,
the air
gets cold.