Monday, October 31, 2016

when the bottoms come in

his new teeth
look like real teeth,
he half smiles to show you.
next month
with another check,
if the fish
bite, he'll get the bottoms too.
together,
he says, he'll eat again,
done with soup,
done with canned
meat and tuna.
done with
oats and soft bread.
steak, he says. his blue eyes
no longer
sea grey
but actually blue, blue like
the sky,
like a bird.
like hope.
steak. i'll have steak,
he says,
when the bottoms come in.

nothing to be said

there is much to be said
that goes
unsaid as night approaches,
as the cold
air settles upon you,
and the tiredness
of the days
seeps into your bones. so much
can be said
about so much.
when you were young
you would find
a set of ears
who would listen to such
talk. together by a fire,
or against one
another in bed,
you'd say what needed
to be said,
but now, it's okay to
say nothing.
say to no one what you feel.
it's okay
to be quiet
and let the night and sleep
fall upon you.

her books

to the curb
goes all these books.
two hundred and eighty seven
she tells you.
cook books.
not a poem by yeats, or plath.
or wordsworth.
no Whitman
in the lot.
not a single verse by
poe.
no sonnets by the bard,
or limericks, or
rhymes
by Dickinson.
even e.e. cummings
has been
ignored.
cookbooks she says proudly,
patting her round
belly, all of them
cookbooks,
some with
a sauce
puddled dry upon the cover.

hard medicine

she swallows
what she wants to say.
takes it in
like harsh
medicine. bitter on her tongue.
it falls
deep
within her, down it
falls.
this liquid
of tarred love,
once sweet,
now pruned
into a taste she wants
no part of.
another dose
tomorrow.

weather comes

where and why and when
says
the wind as it
finds its way
through any narrow
crease
along
the roof, a window,
a door
ajar,
metal bent.
it speaks
in no tongue that
you know,
and yet you know,
as weather comes upon
us.

to the top

a second
wind
gets you moving towards
the top of the hill.
legs
churning,
arms flailing.
lungs burning.
almost there, almost
there.
one foot after the other.
the top
is waiting.
the end of struggle.
the end of
fear and pain.
bliss awaits
at the top,
must keep going. going,
up and up
and up.
tell me
when you get there.
send me a postcard.

don't vote

fatigue sets in.
the blather of politics
is a rising
swamp
stench of nothingness.
are there no
good people anymore
to lead us.
has the world gone mad?
live long
enough
and you'll understand
that things
always get worse
before they get better.


broken pieces

I found a piece of the moon
on the way home
from her house one night.
a white sliver
of rock.
I looked up and could see where
it had broken off
and fell.
I picked it up, felt it's smooth
soft edges,
still dusty
and cold.
sometimes love ends like that.
in chips,
small broken pieces found
at your feet.

things have changed

i'm not in the mood tonight,
she says as I nuzzled
at her neck.
please, she says,
maybe next week.
but it's our honeymoon, I tell
her.
aren't we supposed
to make love
tonight?
it's a given, right?
she stares at the new rings
on her hand as she
brushes her hair
in the mirror.
says nothing, a thin
cat smile crawls
across her lips.

a stranger

we know too much
about what we don't need to know
and too little
of the things
we should
know.
take you for example.
I know you.
I don't really know you.
same goes for me.
for everyone.
name,
date of birth.
where you live and work.
but who
knows
how you like to lie on your
back
and dream
awake
while the sun rises
slowly
in another room.
each to one another always
a part
hidden.
a stranger.

hold my baby

someone tries to hand you
a baby
at a party.
but you resist.
it's a pink baby
with a frilly white laced
headband around
it's head.
you have a drink in one hand
and don't want
to smudge your white shirt
with baby goo.
there is no need to hold
this baby.
it's not yours.
it could be one of your
nieces or nephew's babies,
but
you're done with babies,
everyone is watching,
judging you to see if you
have baby holding skills.
you politely say no
as they push the baby into
your chest,
trying to give
him to you.
you smile and back away, but
they persist.
finally you take the baby
into your arms
and look into
it's bright sapphire eyes. new
like suddenly born stars.
neither of you have anything
much to say to one
another,
but there you are
holding a baby, staring at
one another with equal
wonder.

down a hill

off a hill you begin
to roll
gathering ice, melted snow,
leaves and branches.
you tumble forward
in a giant ball
gaining speed.
it happens so quickly.
one slip
and you're down,
moving fast
below the sun, below
the moon, past
the eyes and hands
of others. there is no
way to stop
where you're headed.

it looks the same

it feels like
you've been here before,
down this road
with someone else.
the sky looks the same.
over cast
and grey.
the air is cold.
the wind has picked up.
it's a change
of seasons, but it's
not any different from what
you remembered.
you say the same
things, think the same
lines of thought.
you stand with your hands
on your hips, look
backwards to from where
you came.
it feels like you've
been here before.
it looks the same.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

bats in the belfry

when my grandmother died,
my mother claimed
that she had a dream
the night before
that something bad was
going to happen.
my grandmother was a human
ash tray.
smoked three packs
of tarreytons a day
and drank
Canadian club whiskey
like most people drink milk.
eighty-five years
seemed plenty.
the day after she died.
my mother swore
that she heard her laughing.
it was my grandmother's voice
and it was coming from
a vent above the door
in the living room.
my father, wanting to see
if my grandmother
was in the vent, took the screws
out and stuck a broom
in as we watched.
a bat came flying out,
which made everyone scream.
we were glad it wasn't
our grandmother, but sort of
disappointed too.
we liked the crazy old witch.

double yolks

the double yolk egg
surprises me
when I crack it open
against the edge
of the black pan
and let it fall into a pad
of melting butter.
I wonder what it means.
I put the toast in,
pour some juice,
grill up some hash browns,
then settle in to
eat and google what two
yolks in one egg mean.
it means either someone
close to you is pregnant,
or someone close to you
is going to die.
a wide range to be sure,
both of which I hope
are untrue.
the odds are one in a thousand
that you'll crack open
and egg and have two
yolks.
I put some pepper and salt
onto the double yolks,
sunny side up,
and dig in with my
jelly jammed wheat toast.

an ear full

the third cup
of coffee does it.
sort of.
wakes
you into a reasonable state
of mind.
still annoyed
and grumpy
at many things, but alert
and in observation
mode.
why these birds
have to chirp so loud
in the morning
is beyond you.
that dog barking,
the neighbor with his
leaf blower
and crying kid,
his wife
talking on the phone
about how
she loves
Donald trump,
his hair
and je ne sais pas.
the windows are only
single pane,
with wooden frames
circa 1967, so you hear
everything.
everything.
you go back a little farther.
another decade
or so
and your one ear still
works good
enough to hear what's
going on.
where's the cotton?

a plate of fish

it's a plate
of fish.
some seasoned, some cold.
shrimp
and scallops.
tuna and cod,
bits and pieces,
bites of
lobster from the deep sea.
and bread.
it's more
fish than you've eaten
in a year.
you feel
like you could swim
the atlantic
under water
after eating so much
fish.
you feel the side of your ribs
to where
gills seem
to be growing.
your skin
has scales,
your eyes have flattened
and no longer
blink.
it's hard to breathe
in this air.
you stare at your glass
of water,
sprinkle it with
salt and pour
it upon your head,
you wiggle home.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

sugar sugar

ten bags
of bite sized candy bars seems enough,
I think
as I toss them into
the grocery art
for Halloween.
these kids are insatiable
these days
when it comes to sugar.
I see them in the courtyard
after school
running about like bees,
screaming
and throwing their arms
into the air
in shrieks.
where are all these children
coming from?
what are the parents
thinking?
don't they know how bad things
are in the world?
the end is near. maybe.
sugar though, will
soothe them.

making change

as a child
sitting in church,
sweating, knees aching
as I knelt, stood up,
sat down,
sang, chanted, etc.
i thought about the collection
basket
and how i needed
to make change for a five
a lincoln seemed too much.
the mass wasn't
as good as it
usually was.
I wasn't as scared or lost,
or trembling
like normal
sundays, even the incense was
thin, hardly burning
my eyes and throat,
but I had to put
something in.
two dollars seemed about
right,
and I could use the other
three to stop
off at the Rexall
drugstore on the way home
to read comics
at the counter and drink
cherry cokes
while eating a grilled
cheese sandwich.
the steel eyed old man
though holding the basket
saw right through me
as I reached in
for three ones,
and shook his head no.
it almost seemed like he'd
been down this road before.

not true

my mother would
beat me as I sat at the piano,
trying to learn
the scales.
slapping me with a ruler
against my
knuckles.
okay.
that's not true. we didn't
have a piano
and my mother was
very kind
and compassionate.
but if you create enough
drama in your life
and tell others
continually
how much of an innocent
victim you are in
the world,
they respond
in a gentle way.
there was this one time
though, when my
father
tied me up with kite
string
until I ate my peas.
okay,
also, not true.

Friday, October 28, 2016

the daily news

there are no more
paper boys
with a wagon and dog
tagging along. no
inked stained hands
anymore.
no bundled kid
at 5 a.m.
tossing the paper
baton towards
your porch,
into your yard.
no kid at the door
collecting for the Post
as the sun goes
down.
hoping for that Christmas
tip,
that bag of
warm cookies,
that pat on the head,
saying thanks.
it's a man and his wife now
in a station wagon
throwing
the thin wrapped
news from a window.
stale news at that.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

2 a.m.

kindly I tell
her to take a cab home.
take aspirin,
water.
call your therapist
in the morning.
I hate you, she says.
I hate all men
like you.
that's fine, I tell her.
I completely understand.
stop
drinking.
leave the bar,
go home alone.
call a cab.
get some sleep and stay
away from sharp objects.
we'll talk again soon.
never, she says.
we're done.
finished. I don't ever
want to see or
talk to you again.
then after a pause,
as long as I live.
you don't deserve a woman
like me.
finally, I tell her,
you sound rational.

the easy call

we slip in and out
of talk. small talk. skimming
the surface.
two brothers
on the phone, a thousand
miles apart.
in other worlds.
the blood connects.
the memories, each held
differently
though the same.
we swim
through the tide of words.
soft spoken.
gentle.
with humor.
not a cross thing said,
or heard.

my hot pepper

hot peppers
swell my tongue.
makes the bare skin on top
of my head sweat,
my eyes pop
out.
I pant and wave a hand
across my open mouth.
my heart beats faster,
yet I want more.
you are my
hot pepper.

all day

all day he carves.
whittles
down
the fallen tree into smaller
things.
a broom
handle.
a duck.
a pipe to blow his
smoke out
of.
the knife and hands
blur as one.
the debris
of cast away timber,
sawdust
rises at
his feet.
at the end of the day
he will be
done, for now.
tomorrow another tree
comes down.

the stars above us

as a kid,
late at night,
I sat on my porch
and watched the neighbors.
mr. sabino
taking his nightly walk,
smoking a cigarette.
waving.
saying goddugin boy,
what are you doing
out so late.
across the street
was the widow
with her shades pulled
her black
stingray
from the insurance
in the drive way.
the family
across the way
with the boy who lost
a kidney
while riding his sleigh.
they kept to themselves now.
mrs. butler
next store with her husband
pearl were
a Tennessee Williams
play
in the making.
the liquor bottles
and cigarette butts
at the door. sometimes
my father would actually
come home
and have a bag
of groceries
under his arm as he
staggered up the steps,
lipstick and scratches
on his cheeks.
it was a fun
neighborhood
where you never saw
a cop, never saw anyone
that didn't live there.
no dogs were on
a leash.
we had the street to
ourselves with the stars
above us.

golden years

we talk
of the golden years.
the silver lining.
but I see a lot of rust.
a lot of metal
corroded
and bent.
I see pipes that leak,
faucet handles
that won't turn.
I see red
in the water
as it trickles out
into the drain.
I hear the sound of air
grumpily
exhaling
at night when
the pipes go cold.
we talk about
the golden years to come.
I don't see it.
I put my hand
against the vibration
of the radiator
and feel
the paint chip
off.

keeping time

I wait on my new clock.
mid century modern,
digital,
sunburst with silver
wings.
I look out
the window.
the door
at the sound of any
large truck
going by.
do I need a clock?
no.
who does anymore.
but i see
a spot for it on the wall
between other things,
and want
it.
that's what I do.
I fill
the empty spaces
with things I want
but don't necessarily need.

the mother

she tells me about
her son,
born with one hand.
how he learned to tie
his shoes, to dress himself,
to bounce a ball,
how he never felt
the loss,
the empty space.
she tells me
how he learned to drive,
how he cooks
and
the job he has
after college.
she tells me how pretty
and smart
his girlfriend is.
but it comes back to
the hand.
there is something
in her voice,
her eyes,
that says more
than she can ever say
with words.
you understand,
and let it go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

sweet bliss

teetering out
of the bar, eyes wet
with
alcohol, he stumbles,
and falls
against a wall.
he lies down.
the stars are above him.
the long
black wires strung from
pole to pole,
the soft
glow of a pink lamp.
he's happy.
this is bliss
before dying.
wrapped cold in his own
arms,
unbuttoned,
broke
and old. the thought
of his mother
crosses
over him.
from one ear to the other.
she's whispering,
she's holding
him. she's saying something
he's never heard
before.
not from her lips.

desire

maybe an hour goes
by
when you don't think about it.
maybe longer.
even when
sick
it crosses your mind.
a broken
heart, a sprained
ankle,
a headache
matters not.
it's what
men do.
all men. don't fool
yourself.
it's not a sickness,
but there is no cure,
a temporary fix, yes,
but nothing permanent
so far,
excluding death.
even in sleep
it won't rest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

in reverse

reverse
is hard. looking into
the mirror,
over your shoulder,
pressing gently
on the pedal.
going backwards
is not a thing we easily
do
on a narrow road,
a curve, a steep
hill.
we believe in forward.
moving past
the mistakes
we've made,
going straight ahead
to what comes
next.

the hat boxes

three hatboxes.
empty
now, left behind on the high
shelf from
stores that have
come and gone.
the names
in script on the side,
a black box.
a gold box, a striped
white and green
round box.
what became of the hats
all those years.
the heads
below.
the lives lived under.
there must have been rain,
and wind. they must
have been tilted
to shade the eyes from
the sun.
into the bag they go now.
to the garage
to the can,
pushed to the curb
for Monday.

in a meeting

you call your brother
but he's in a meeting.
a meeting means,
lunch,
or dinner, or something
involving
a gathering of talkers
discussing
God.
they do a lot of pot
luck dinners at
the non-denominational
church he
over sees.
old women
young women bring him
cakes
and pies, freshly baked
oatmeal cookies.
there is lots of kissing
going on.
cheek to cheek, nothing
that would raise
anyone's eyes.
it's a good life if you
can get it,
white bread and butter.
a happy
way to go, praise God,
but he's so busy, too
busy to take your call.

the white coat

my doctor means
well with her pill prescriptions
and flu shots.
her blood pressure
machine
and german nurse.
she wants me healthy.
measuring my weight and height,
peering into my
ears and throat.
she means well
in her well lit office,
in her white coat.
she wants me to feel better.
to get back
on my feet again.
to rest
and take fluids.
she tells me everything
i already know
and tell myself and others.
she means well,
but
she has the white coat.
I don't

the gold tooth

the jersey girl
liked her scotch.
she was skinny,
her green dress would
hang on her
straight down
like drapery.
it matched her eyes.
after a few drinks,
she'd tell you
about the bad husband
the bad boyfriend,
the bad breaks
that wouldn't stop coming.
then she'd open
her mouth wide
and show you a molar
in the back of her mouth that
that was made of gold.
did I ever show you
that she'd say.
to which i'd say no.

after all that

the early years
are lean
and fun
wanting, driving.
optimism is found
in a rising sun,
a rain cloud,
a new lover, an old
flame
dying out.
the middle years
put a smile
on your face
fat
and content with your
yard,
wife,
son, dog and cat.
so much to do is done,
now this.
what is this
after all of that.

Monday, October 24, 2016

yard sale

bargain
hunting is not your thing.
never would you
stop at a flea
market, a yard sale,
a parking lot
where others are sitting
out with the junk
they no longer want,
prices pinned
to sleeves, and dresses,
shoes, and old cd's.
you have enough junk of
your own.
enough tvs
you never watch, a pool
table where you
stack the folded
clothes.
you don't need another
poorly painted
seascape,
or weed wacker with
a broken string,
or half empty cans
of paint.
old toaster ovens with
crumbs still in them.
rakes and brooms, floppy hats.
no.
all day they sit.
the gabby women and squirrely men,
eating donuts drinking coffee.
seeing you
pass by in the morning,
coming home
that afternoon, hoping
that you'll stop
and have three dollars
to spend.

early morning

her sunday cry
is more of a misting, a peering
out her kitchen
window
with the cat.
green tea might be involved.
some early morning
stretching.
deep breathing.
but the tears come down.
she takes out an old
scrap book
to break the clouds open.
when she's finally
had enough.
she takes a walk to the park.
hands in
her pockets,
hat on.
the fall wind
swirling down her
open jacket, her sleeves,
giving her
a chill as she crosses
the empty street.

disrepair

so much of the house
needs work.
gutters swing,
shutters bang, doors
squeak, with broken keys
still in the lock
as the furnace
hums cold.
the yard is a patch
of weeds
and dirt.
the fence leans, the gate
won't close.
someone lives
here who doesn't care
anymore.
it's not about
the money, but something
else. something
you've known about
but would rather not
hear anymore.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

off the chain

the stray dog
worries you as he crosses
the highway,
out of breath,
panting.
the cars dodge him.
horns blare.
he makes it to
the other side
of the road,
goes into the woods.
his ribs show.
his eyes
are dull.
he's lost, having wandered
too far
from home.
a path you've known
quite well.

the quiet

the quiet neighbors
are up early, raking leaves.
spreading
spider webs
upon their shrubbery,
setting out the carved
pumpkin, the green witch
placard
that wobbles in the autumn
wind.
they say nothing to you.
they look down,
look away.
you've given up on hellos,
of saying
good day.
you go inside,
they try the string of lights,
they glow
orange and blink
beneath your shades.

on another day

she sits
in the sun. the park is empty.
the trees
bare.
scattered shots of grey
pigeons
wander about
on clawed feet.
she sits and wonders which
way to go.
what words to say,
how to end it all,
or stay.
she sits in the sun,
the sun
upon her face.
she knows the answers, she
knows
what must be done,
but doesn't.
maybe another season,
on another day.

passing by

each train
coming slowly into the station.
we wait.
we stand together,
board
then sit and watch
as the curve
of the earth
passes
by.
some have a day left
to live,
others
years, a lifetime.
the train keeps coming,
rolling,
arriving,
departing.
we board.
we sit and watch at the curve
of the earth
passing by.

Friday, October 21, 2016

the mystery

As a small child
I remember seeing my
mother's lingerie hanging
on the shower curtain bar
while I sat
in the only quiet room
in the house
reading dc comic books
on the toilet,
my legs going to sleep
from being there so long.
the days of the week
in scroll were embroidered
across each pair
of underwear she owned.
didn't she have a calendar?
was there a rule
to this clothing?
what if she wore fridays
pale blue number
on Tuesday, would she
forget we had school the next
day thinking
it was Saturday?
and those strange sheer
stockings, like fishnets,
they would hardly keep a leg
warm in winter.
what was going on
here? a mystery for a very
long time, until
it wasn't.

reboot

the near end
of the world, might save
the world.
it can't go on like this
forever,
spinning backwards.
it needs to stop,
to pause,
to erase and flood
again.
wipe clean
the noise, the wrongs.
it will be a deep sleep
for the blue
planet, but it
will come back.
slowly, hopefully
better for what has
happened.

down to the sea

in Barcelona, the tall
man with a black beret,
the housekeeper,
would collect
the new born kittens
in a burlap bag
then take them down
to the sea
to drown them.
you watched from the window
as he lifted
each kitten, from the wooden
crate,
crying, lying beside
the mother,
feeding.
you were just a child.
your face pressed
against the wired screen.
you imagined
the green water
of the Mediterranean,
so soft and calm
filling
their new lungs. you
wondered was life
that easy to take.
all life?

off to war

she was about to go to war,
or at least
that's what she said
when I met her.
a final date then
off to some dark
hell of a place where death
is an everyday event.
she was hungry.
so I fed her.
bought her wine, bread
and salad.
she slurped from her bowl
of clams and pasta,
every last drop down the hatch.
was she thinking
about war, as she chewed
and swallowed,
was she pondering
guns and bullets,
tanks
and jets, as she licked
the tiramisu from her fork,
or was she just
hungry and didn't have to
pay, being with a stranger
she'd never see again.

the big store

so much
in the stores, on the shelves
hanging on
the racks.
unbought
untouched or worn,
pushed into
stacks, into the caverns
of seconds,
thirds,
off to where?
some other country
some other store
that prefers
polyester
or plaid, bold striped
with photographs,
the roof can hardly
hold the changing
of seasons,
the cheaply made sweaters
that unravel
with a single wash,
next to summer shorts,
spring
dresses,
the thread bare
shirts
and pants, shoes
with soles about to
come off.
clothes for masses, cheap
and plentiful.
hot off the press,
from the sewing
machines
of a factory that runs
all night.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

five bags

might not be enough candy.
how many children are there
in this neighborhood.
they are being born
by the barrel,
the crate,
falling off conveyor
belts.
the parents must be tired
making all these children.
now they come
in droves, sweating beneath
their costumes
and masks,
ballerinas and ghosts,
queens
and knights.
their little hands are
out as their mouths
squeak
trick or treat,
their sagging pillow cases
dragged behind
them in the cool
October night.


moon flowers

the water holds the moon.
it flowers
white
and silver
on the wash of black.
it's hard to match
such beauty.
sublime
and pure
without intention,
but we can try.
we can come close.
and that's good enough

dorchester street

this small street
a snippet
of concrete and scrub
grass.
squared houses with
flat roofs,
duplexes of brick,
chipped curbs
and oiled poles,
the wires sagging
with the old voices
of past and present
calls.
it holds so little.
it holds so much.
the hours
and years spent running
from side to side.
the sleds on ice
and snow.
the rain storms,
the chase
and tag of young love,
nothing could keep
you inside,
from being out
in the street.

a cool place

a quiet black snake
eases its way
across the bike path.
you stop
to watch him slither
onward.
the sun puts a dull shine
upon his long body.
there is no looking up
at you, no hurry in him,
no hissing, no baring
of fangs.
he's tired
of this summer heat
and wants to find a cool
hole
to curl into. a place
to sleep
for winter.
you too.

shades of blue

the prince and princess
of Chantilly
want it cheap.
want it perfect, want it
to be like the palace
they have
in their delusional minds.
but they have
no money, so they negotiate
down and down.
meanwhile
the rugs come in, the chandeliers
get hung,
the oil paintings
are centered onto walls.
she's in a range rover,
he in his
black Mercedes.
we have no money, they tell you.
we can't pay you
what you want.
please, help us, we like you.
we like your work.
she spoons caviar into his
open mouth.
he lights incense to get
the paint smell out.
a servant appears in silk, bows,
and announces that their bath
is ready.
please, they say. one more
coat on everything to make it
shine.
but we have no money.
please let yourself out when
you're done. we'll call you
later to let you know what other
things we need
painted again.
this blue is a shade too dark.
do you know the color periwinkle?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

cure for a cold

a masked man with a gun
sticks the barrel into my ribs
as i take a detour down
a dark alley, he asks me
for directions.
where's the nearest bank, he says.
around the corner i tell him,
they have a drive through atm too,
i put my hands in the air.
it used to be a Boston Market, but
it's a bank now.
east or west, he asks.
that way, i tell him, pointing.
maybe north, or northwest.
he sneezes.
god bless you, i say to him.
he nods and wipes his nose
with his arm.
what's the best way to cure
a cold, he asks coughing into his sleeve
what? answer me, he says,
pushing the gun harder
into my belly.
i don't have all day,
banks close at twelve on Saturdays.
what's the best way to cure a cold.
answer me!
I've had this nagging cough for weeks,
how do i get rid of it?
umm, rest, liquids, juice, sleep,
i tell him. but i'm not a doctor.
i go on WebMD all the time though.
try some cough syrup.
what kind? over the counter?
i have a prescription, but it's
no better than the stuff you can
get at the drugstore. some of them
make you drowsy, so you might have
to be careful when you're loading your gun.
also, chicken soup. hot chicken soup.
you trying to get funny with me?
i hate soup, do i look like someone
who eats soup?
i look at him, there's a scar down
middle of his forehead
and a tattoo of an electric chair
on his neck.
no, i say. no, but really, soup
is good for you when you have a cold.
hmmm. he says, lowering the gun.
maybe.
he sneezes again and begins to cough,
bending over, trying to catch
his breath. i feel feverish too, he says.
where can i get some soup?
try whole foods, or wegmans, but
they'll be packed today.
you can get it freshly made
in those hot bins. okay, okay.
he says. i'll get some soup.
here, i tell him, handing
him my handkerchief. it's clean.
you can have it.
okay, thanks, he says. don't follow
me or tell anyone about this.
i won't i tell him.
chicken soup, i yell out as he
pulls the mask off and darts
out of the alley.


let's eat out tonight

talking to yourself, you say,
let's eat out tonight.
you open the fridge door, close
it, open it again.
close it. you go to
the cupboards, doors open,
doors closed.
once more to the fridge.
open close.
the top freezer section,
ice and a blue
bag frozen, for you knee.
nothing.
let's eat out tonight you say again,
to no one, looking
out the window.
it's still light out.
but casual. let's go casual
you say, looking down
at your underwear and socks.
okay not that casual.

the audition

the actor,
staring into the phone.
practicing her lines, his lines.
the understudy's
lines.
it's raining.
the bus is late.
when will they call.
Shakespeare's been dead a long
time.
but his words
keep ringing and ringing
through
each actor's head.
stardom
just a break away.
one lucky turn.
the right place at the right
time.
the bus is late.
it's raining. there must
be a better
way to make a living.

let's talk

i listen, sometimes.
other times, i'm waiting for the other
person to stop
talking so that i can say something
more interesting
or to summarize what they just said,
to clarify the mumbo jumbo
that just came out
of their mouth, or to disagree with them.
sometimes they go on so long, that i
have no choice but to interrupt
them, putting my hand up
in the air, giving the whoa sign.
tapping my watch.
sometimes i don't talk to anyone
the whole day, those are good days.
very relaxing.

the blue line

as you sit
in the pharmacy waiting room,
along with the others,
each wrapped
up in their own sweaty misery,
you wait for your
name to be called.
the lines are long. a red line,
a blue line.
it's ellis island. grand central
station.
it's rush hour
for prescription meds.
calmly you sit, staring
at your folded hands.
trying not to touch anything,
or breathe.
finally you hear your name,
it's close enough,
so you rise and find
your place
in the blue line. blue
being your favorite color.

she's in rome

she's in rome now.
she sends me
a postcard
with the smudge of her
lipsticked lips
pressed upon
the stiff card.
on the front is
the ancient coliseum,
quiet now
and full of feral cats.
wish you were
here, the card reads,
forgetting about the lion
she once was
with me in the center ring.

Monday, October 17, 2016

some girls

some girls,
were like safes.
almost impossible to find
the right
set of numbers
to open the iron door.
how you clicked the dials
in the back seat
of your father's car
on dark roads,
under moonless nights.
some were like fort knoxx.
impervious to your
efforts,
your teenaged charms.
there were
armed guards at the gate.
others
left the doors
and windows unlocked
and put out
a welcome mat. left
a light on to help you
find your way.

the work

I used to do all the work
myself
the owner of the house says.
he's holding a cup
of coffee, squinting
at the rising sun as he
remembers.
he shows me
his garage full
of tools, neatly hung
where he wants them to be.
half empty gallons of paint
tapped shut.
stacked against a wall.
paint brushes too.
yard tools.
mowers and clippers,
hoes.
a straight line of screwdrivers.
I used to do all the work
myself he says,
pointing at his work
bench, hands on hips,
wearing his overalls,
neatly pressed,
with suspenders.
but I don't now.
I can't anymore.
I have ladders too, he says.
they're around
back, let me show you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

don't find me

some distant relatives
are not distant enough.
they find you.
ancient friends
buried in memory, now
risen
with their vague memories,
and you with yours.
everyone finds everyone these days.
it's not good.
they say heaven
is like this, or hell perhaps,
where everyone you know
or have
known is suddenly in the same
place
at the same time.
it's not good.
I need my space and time
alone.

water

I take water
for granted. I expect it
to come out
of the faucet.
i'm not surprised
when the shower works
and rains down,
or the tub rises.
when i'm thirsty I hold
a glass
under the cold stream
and let it fill.
I can't imagine
life any other way.
and that's where
you come in.
you pour yourself
out
when I need you.

we love to work

we love to work.
we tell people how hard
we're working, the hours we've
put it in.
we say that we haven't had a real
vacation in years.
excuse me while I take this call.
okay. where were we?
we talk about how
early we get up in the morning.
how late we arrive home.
even the weekends keep us busy,
keep us going.
work is with us every hour
of the day and night.
on our phones our screens.
hold on while I answer this text.
okay.
we who shake our heads at how
hard a farmer works,
bent over in a field,
coal miners and factory workers,
how we flinched at their lives
while we do nothing but plow,
seed and harvest, forever more.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

it's your life, sort of

you love your
new sports car. did you need
another car.
another
set of wheels to ride around
in? no,
of course not.
but somehow it makes
you feel better about how
hard you work,
the reward
of grinding out the days
towards
sunset.
it will hold you for awhile.
its leather
and new smell, the sleek
shiny
hope that it offers
as you shift
along a curve.
it's a mirage,
but who cares.
it's your money. your life.
sort of.

awake at night

it's easier to remember
the failed
shot,
the fumble, the missed ball
swung
hard at.
the love
not conquered, or
job
not given.
it's easier to dwell
on failure
than it is on success,
one keeping
you awake,
the other,
already dismissed
and forgotten.

a longer night

the morning
star,
as yellow and white
as any
star
can be
through a blue
haze
of sky,
slips through
the shade
into my still
asleep eyes.
how quickly night
goes,
and morning
arrives.
a longer
night is needed.

ready for work

you couldn't wait to shave
when you were
a child.
covering your cheeks and chin
with your
father's
shaving cream,
then taking
a razor to slowly
take the creamy
white clouds away.
not even peach fuzz was
there
to cut.
but you made like there
was.
your sisters banged at the locked
bathroom door.
what are you doing in there?
then his old spice
splashed on
with your small cupped hands,
your hair combed,
parted on the side
with the help
of brylcreme.
done.
brushing past
your angry sisters,
you were ready for work,
grabbing your
lunch box
and running so as not
to miss the bus.

for sale

he mistakes
the woman two stools down
at the quiet hotel bar
for someone who is interested
in him
romantically.
they talk. they flirt.
she moves closer to him,
touching his arm
then knee when they talk.
she laughs
at everything he says.
then yawns, tapping her mouth,
gets
up to leave,
she slides a matchbook cover
towards
him with her room
number on it.
he watches her walk out.
the tight skirt,
the hair
bouncing
around her shoulders,
the curves of her.
he goes to his room
to freshen up, calls his
wife to say
good night, stares at
himself in the mirror.
amazed that he still has it.
he dabs on
some cologne, buttons
up a fresh
shirt,
then call her room number.
are you a cop,
she says.
to which he says no,
i'm a salesman in town for
the convention.
well, good, she says, perhaps
you should come
up for a drink,
but first let me give you
my prices.

the next song

the aged rebel
is still at it, undefined,
uncaptured,
misunderstood.
how they want to rein
him in,
make him one of them,
at last,
by giving
him a medal.
he's quiet on it all.
smirking
in the last light
of day,
adorned by those he railed
about
for decades.
blue eyed and bent,
he stares into the crowd,
strumming
his guitar
making the next song.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

unwavered

they clubbed
you like a baby seal at
saint Thomas More,
the nuns
in black,
holding their weapons
of rosaries and crosses.
every pleasure
a sin
to be avoided. you
were born bad.
hell lingered nearby
even in infancy.
on boney knees
you inhaled the perfumes
of mass,
memorized
and beat three times
your chest.
how you trembled
in line at the confessional,
in front
and behind were
your sinning peers.
penance hardly seemed
enough
to cleanse you,
but you took it gladly.
you could hide
from your parents,
your teachers,
the adults in your life,
but not
God, there he was, there
he was,
all day. all night.
still your faith
has not wavered.

tomorrows

the worries
of tomorrow don't come.
they
may be postponed
or delayed
by traffic or rain,
but
they don't arrive
as expected.
you sigh
and wipe your brow,
look out
the window
and wave
to the mailman
as he whistles
passing by.

blue tequila

I can see
the light. it's a bright
white light.
there are angels.
white winged angels
with long hair
and blue eyes.
they seem happy to see
me. how nice.
together we fly off
into the clouds.
tequila
is a strange
and wonderful thing.

happiness can be bought

they say that money cannot
buy happiness,
but I am here today to refute
that myth.
in my hand is a cheap
bamboo stick, $7.95 retail,
with a claw like monkey hand
end, made somewhere i'll
never visit. an island off the coast
of a country I can't pronounce
or find on a map.
with it I can reach any
portion of my dry back
that has an itch.
the joy and blessed
happiness that I get each
day from this
ingenious, potentially
nobel prize winning
back scratcher has put
a smile on my face,
a smile
not unlike the one I get
from loving you,
or a slice of deep dark
chocolate cake
washed down with a cold
glass of milk.

the open space

you see
the big tree gone when you
get home from work.
thick
and tall, now carved
and cut
into small stumps.
the courtyard looks strange
without it.
someone deemed it dead,
and turned
the saws on
while no one was around
to protest
or mourn. which is often
how we all go,
leaving an open space
to ponder.

blood relatives

what is wrong with
these people,
these strange people you often
thought of your family
when growing
up with them
in the same house.
why do they behave
this way,
how different you are from
them.
adoption comes to mind,
found in a basket
perhaps on the door step, left
by some passing stranger
with one too many
children to care for.
it's a wonderment,
the differences, even
now as we each turn grey.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

holiday cookies

when your ex wife
went on a diet, there was
no shortage
of summer squash,
kale,
white fish, carob
and low fat
cookies.
lots of raisons
were in the house,
unsalted nuts. dry
oats.
her plates of desserts
lasted and lasted
throughout
the holidays,
and as the tree went
down,
the lights turned off,
not even the dog would tip
a plate
and indulge.

the tease

the tease
of life,
the sugar
the salt,
a kiss a wink,
the slight
touch
of hand.
a whispered
word,
a moon aglow
in
the sweet
black night.

bee

the bee, making his choice
to land
and sting
is neither foolish
or wise.
it's what
he does for others
to live on,
to survive.
a practical decision,
selfless.
so rare
do we think like
them
and die.

the nights

you marry
an Italian woman
who throws things
when she's angry.
she screams
and curses
in her native language,
her long arms
in the air,
she is fury
when you've crossed
her
or been misunderstood.
it's long day
with this woman,
a very long day,
but oh,
the nights.

how she goes

the poet
plans her life's
end
by exhaust. the 67
cougar
let to run in
the enclosed garage.
the pill excursions
were nothing.
she leaves
no note.
no last call.
no farewell.
just the radio on
and the chug of blue smoke
as she sinks
into an odd sleep,
embracing
the next world
calmly,
at last.

fear and fun

i have no desire
to climb
mount Everest.
jump out of a plane,
or deep sea
dive. not a bone in my
body wants
to bungee jump
over a bridge,
or to wrestle a wild
animal.
save your balloon fights
for someone else.
getting up
and going to work
is enough
fear and fun for
one day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

you may feel a pinch

this won't hurt a bit,
the doctor says, holding a light,
a needle,
a gun
in his hand.
why the gun, i ask.
trembling at the sight
of the pointed
steel syringe.
oh,
don't worry it's not
loaded.
but sometimes
patients don't pay,
this helps.
stay still, you may
feel a pinch.

sorry that i asked

i'm sorry I asked.
excuse me for nodding off in the middle
of your answer
to my question.
I had no idea you had
so much to say.
no clue that you had prepared
a long statement
to which I am captive
to listen to.
please pardon me if I slip
away,
if I close my eyes
or sing, or hum, or gaze
up into the clouds.
i'm both here and hear.
go on. tell me what you need
to tell me,
and i'll try to hide
the fact
that i'm sorry that I asked.

wounds

this blood
is nothing. a dribble across
the floor.
a leak
in the system
that is you.
just a small wound
that will close
in time.
unlike the larger cuts,
pressed deep,
of heart,
of mind.

the wrong wrench

the wrong wrench won't
turn
the nut.
too tight.
no grease will loosen
it, no
pliers
no steel fingers
will turn it to the left
or right.
it's frozen.
who hasn't
been there, unable
to change,
to be loose
and free once more,
like when you
were young,
new.

cat burglar

she is a thief,
a robber,
a cat burglar
in black,
slipping inside your heart,
ear to
the ticking chest,
turning the dials
to get
what's in you.
all of you,
then go off into
the night,
to another unlatched
door.

in between

we are in between
so much,
caught
inside
lifes edges.
the clock, the calendar,
each with its own
space
to live in.
we strike a stance
and like
Samson
try to hold back
the hours
that swarm by,
the columns that hold
up the day,
the night.
what is it that this world
wants from
us.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

blue ink

a blue inked sky, unsure
of itself.
or maybe
it's just me
thinking that.
the clouds undecided whether
to stay
or blow away.
my shoes are wet
from the rain, the deep
puddles.
there is so much to do,
and yet
I look into the sky
trying to give it meaning.

your turn will come

an old man
pokes me with his cane,
telling me
to move up in line, get off
your phone
he says.
it's your turn,
you look at him, at his cane,
his hat.
his face
a road map
of life lived.
he's tired of waiting,
he wants
his coffee now.
you tell him
to go ahead of you,
which he does.
your turn
will come.

snow bird

next year
you'll go south for the winter.
become
a snow bird.
you'll take nothing but
a small bag
of shorts
and shirts. no shoes.
you'll lie
on the beach in the land
of oranges
and coconuts.
you'll learn
to play a mandolin
and sit
by the shore with
your hat turned up for
change.
you think all of this as you
stand
in line
with a snow shovel,
and a twenty pound
bag
of road salt.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

her long blonde hair

lying down,
asleep, you snuggle close
to your loved one.
she's warm
in the sunlight.
her breathing is soft
as she moves
in her dream.
gently you put your
arm around her,
brushing her long blonde
hair,
and whisper,
it stopped
raining, do you want to go
for a walk.
get your leash.
here we go.

we know

nervous
about the baby, still
inside his wife,
he tells everyone,
pointing
at her belly. my wife,
is about to have
a baby.
she says nothing.
she already knows.
but the husband, young
and suddenly new to the idea
as the day approaches,
is nervous.
my wife, he says again,
is about to have
our baby.

their turn

they go away,
these young children,
nieces and nephews.
off to their own
lives. grown,
the photos stopped.
remembering what, if
anything,
from
holiday gatherings, the screaming
brood,
happy and unhappy,
a chorus
of shrill voices,
the television on, dogs barking.
the dining room table
cluttered with food.
they're gone now,
the children,
those days.
the parents unglued from
life,
the aunts and uncles
now grey, taking over,
it's their turn.


orange clock work

you come up for air,
being on
the phone all day. hoarse.
weary. rising cautiously
from the sick couch,
beaten by your own
age.
you stumble
against a box of tax
papers onto
the orange chair,
spilling
warm tea.
landing on the rug.
you lie back
and stare at a blank spot
on the blue wall
and think
what lovely place
for a George nelson
ball clock, orange.
perhaps.
you can almost hear it
ticking,
as you wonder how much time
you have.

breakfast love

the smell of breakfast,
a real breakfast,
eggs, bacon, toast,
hash browns
reminds me
of childhood,
with my father at the stove.
butter and jam.
orange juice.
him in his apron
and sailor whites,
cooking for seven kids,
all sitting at the table.
the plates
were full. he'd slice
up quarters of melon
too, setting
the orange and green slices
on each plate.
he had no advice,
no fatherly
tender moments, no giving
of direction
for any of our lives,
but he could cook
us breakfast, those rare
times when he was home,
and for then, and
even now, that was
good enough.

child proof caps

I want
to open this bottle of pills,
but I can't
get the top
off.
I can see the pills
dancing around behind
the amber
plastic casing,
laughing.
I take a steak knife
and cut
a hole in the bottom,
shake it
to get a tiny dot of a pill
out.
I find
the duct tape
to close the new
opening.
I pour a glass of water,
wash the pill down,
then take
a seat,
still shaking.

your fears

let's talk about love,
my therapist says to me while
filing her nails
and doing her bills,
her long leg is dangling
a pink heel at the end
of it.
could you stop that, I tell
her.
it's distracting.
oh, she says, and why do
you find it distracting?
because it's near my head
and I can't concentrate
on your questions
when I think that shoe
might hit me in
the eye.
okay, okay, she says,
flipping the heel off.
what else are you afraid
of?
tell me about your deepest
fears.
are they connected
with being in love? i'm
worried about
you billing me extra if
we run over in this session.
so i'll keep it short.
no is my answer.
I fear real things,
like a painful death,
or bee stings.

the dream

you dream of a day
when you wake up not coughing.
gagging,
bent over,
your bones rattling
with something
deep inside
your lungs, you dream of that
day
the way you used to dream
about a girl,
or a car,
or something
wonderful like a day at
the beach
with a loved one.
not now.
now, you dream of a day
when you wake
up and stop coughing.

their next meal

the celebrity divorce
is in the news,
it's everywhere, who's fault
is it,
what happened,
who lied, who cheated, who
didn't hold up
their end
of the marriage,
who loved
the children more?
the gossiped dirt eeks out
of the pipes.
who cares?
just the lawyers, gathering
like dark
birds in the sky,
awaiting
their next meal.

twisters

unnamed, why name
them, what point is that,
are those
who can't get out of their own way.
every day
a three act play,
a drama,
a soap opera, full of mistakes,
roads taken,
regret, missteps.
they are twisters tossing
the debris of
their life around,
wanting you to listen,
to sympathize, to help
them fix
things, help them get
their feet
back on the ground. you
can only indulge
so much
before you too are
caught up
in the wind.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

still life

her still life
of pears
in a bowl on a clean
white table,
does nothing for you.
take
a bite from one,
let a fly land
on another, show
the meat
gone brown,
the rot, the stem
twisted off,
the skin
gone soft,
do that, and then
you have me.
i'll drive a nail
to hang it on
my wall.

small dogs

the small dog
barks
all day
at everything and everyone
that passes by.
his hair bristles,
his teeth
are bared,
it's a loud bark,
a vicious bark,
until you bend
over to his
size,
then he licks
your hand.

a new winkle

you just noticed
a new wrinkle in
the mirror,
the wet leaves
on the steps
gone
gold,
a parent, who
forgets
what she used to know.
you just noticed
how the paint
has faded
on the shed,
how the fence leans,
how long
it takes to
rise, to unstiffen,
to get
out of bed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

invasion from mars

ernie,
had a flair
for drama.
seeing a green meteor falling
from the sky
as we played stick ball out in street
ran into the house
and phoned
the white house to tell
them about
how we were being invaded
by creatures
from mars.
we gathered around the phone
as he talked
frantically
about the green light
that flashed across
the sky,
heading north over
Washington d.c. .
they could all be dead now,
we thought,
this could be the end of
the human race,
our hearts raced.
one girl, cried,
while another boy ran home
to be with his parents
when death came.
they said they were going
to look into, ernie told
us as he hung
up the phone,
then we went back outside
to finish the game.

the negotiator

my younger brother once
called me at a party and said
you have
to come home quickly,
Theresa is chasing me
with a knife.
how did you know I was here,
I asked him.
he was out of breath
and I could hear
the furniture
being tossed around.
why is she trying to stab you.
I called her a name,
he said. a bad name.
what name?
I can't say it, she'll throw
the knife
at me.
where is she now.
she's here, i'm holding
her goldfish bowl
so that she doesn't
lunge at me with the knife.
where's mom?
I don't know.
well, okay. i'll be home
in a little while.
tell your sister you're sorry and
that you'll never call her
that name again.
go ahead.
I sip my beer and listen
as he tells her he's sorry.
okay, he says.
she says, she'll put
the knife down. good
good, now hand her the goldfish
bowl.
I am. are we good now?
yes, yes.
okay. we'll go watch tv,
or do your homework or something.
i'll be home soon.
hide the knives outside
near the rose bush.

giddy up

be a cowboy
and buy me a steak,
the girl
said on our first date,
sitting on the bar
stool
in her white
boots
and sequined
dress.
be a cowboy and rustle
me up a porter house steak
or a nice
juicy rib eye,
with all the trimmings.
no thanks,
I told her.
let's just have a drink,
if that's okay.
and see if
we like each other.
so, you're not a cowboy,
she says,
shaking her
permed hair, a foot
high on her small
empty head.
nope, I said,
i'm guess i'm not,
but giddy up.
got to go.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

dark grass

your bare feet are cold
in the deep
wet grass. it's night.
there is no moon.
your feet
sink into the dark soil,
the water seeps between
your toes,
the pebbles stick
to your soles.
you won't walk far like
this.
half across the yard
on a moonless night.
you just had to remember
had to know
what it felt like once
more in your life.

we need to talk

we need to talk,
she says
firmly, sitting at
the kitchen table
with hands folded.
I need to ask you a few
questions.
math questions, I respond.
I hope not.
or anything to do
with diagramming a sentence,
no geography either,
I can only name a few
of the seven
seas. i'm not good
at chemistry either,
I tell her, tap dancing,
collecting
my coat, my hat,
my keys.
what are you good at,
she says, trying
to find my eyes.
this, I tell her, making
light of
something serious.
something gone
terribly wrong,
this is what i'm good at.

your book

it's difficult to comprehend
the years.
the passing of others.
the collected memories
that are vivid
still.
hard to gather it all
together and come to some
conclusion.
it's a book with lots of pages,
chapters, getting
thicker.
you write it, you read
it, you go back sometimes
to make it
better than what it was.
who's to say no?
it's your book.
you can do whatever you want
with it.

the low branch

poetry is a tree
with many branches.
peaches, apples, oranges,
pristine rare
fruit at the top.
my branch swings
low, low enough
that anyone with a stick
can knock one
down and take a bite,
swallow
or else spit it out,
and heave it towards
the sea.

everyone knows

everyone knows
what the truth is.
what can't be said.
what must left on the table.
everyone knows
what's coming,
what's come and gone,
what tomorrow will
bring, but no one
wants to admit it,
or say it out loud.
everyone knows pretty
much everything
there is know
to get by on,
the rest stays hidden.

be happy

be positive.
be mr. sunshine for once.
stop being so dark
and blue,
cynical about the world
and the people
you know or don't know.
not everyone's a fool,
not everyone is perfect
like you.
put on your happy face
and skip down
that sidewalk of life
with a bright
red balloon.

Monday, October 3, 2016

you leave

once, not once upon a time, but once,
I stayed overnight
in a flea bag hotel on Richmond
highway.
my soon to be ex wife demanded
that we take
a break from one another, just
for a few days, she said.
it might help.
so I agreed. I was an agreeable
and compromising person
at the time.
the bed was stiff and limp,
thin, but not as thin as the walls.
a shared vent
brought in the voices and smoke
from the rooms next door.
the arguing and coughing.
I listened to a couple make love.
but it didn't sound like
love, it sounded more like
anger and sadness.
I turned the television on
to drown out the voices, watching
nothing of memory.
I lay there with my clothes still on,
my small bag unpacked,
then finally at three in the
morning, went home and told her,
if you're unhappy, you leave.

be careful

the man who lived there,
in this now empty house,
asks me if I can help him carry out
his mattress to a van
waiting out on the curb.
a small boy is inside,
eating from a bag. he doesn't
look up.
the man tells me that he had
to sell the house
because his wife became ill
and died.
you are quiet, then look into
his eyes and say. i'm sorry,
he says, what can you do.
I have to move. my son is in
they car, he says as he lifts
up one end of the mattress,
and I lift the other.
be careful, he says.
the steps.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

please advise

I communicate with my doctor
through e mails now, which to me
is interesting, but to her, amusing.
or worse, annoying.
the phlegm is yellow, I write.
wet ribbons of yellow, the dull
sunset yellow of late winter.
they arise from deep within
the cave of my chest. forced out
with a wearying strength.
I feel warm, not a love heat or
even the warmth of infatuation,
but the low burn of a furnace
inside of me,
the coal of ill health being
shoveled into the wide
mouth of my life. my nose
is stuffed up too. please advise.

to work

the photograph is of boys,
unsmiling,
three rows of young men,
tightly bound shoulder
to small shoulder,
Italian, irish, polish,
each with cropped
hair, the smudge and wind of
the steel factory engrained
upon their faces. cold embers
and ash. they are old
men already. behind them is mill.
the long cannon stacks with plumes
of black swirling in the cold
grey sky. most likely they are all
dead now, long buried somewhere
in the hills of Monrovia.
each story untold. the burden
of their lives buried with them,
so much they, or even we won't
ever know.

this illness

this illness, its claws,
its hooves,
its bite
devours you.
steals the breath from your
lungs.
squeezes your head
with
a vise.
you hardly know where to turn,
as you sit at the edge
of the bed.
you can think of nothing
but air,
of breathing.
of being free
from what your body has
become.

wonder bread

two pieces of bread,
white,
wonder bread from
the colored balloon bag,
a slice
of meat, bologna
from the roll, cut
fat and thick
with a butter knife by
your slender arms, a swipe
of mustard.
you stand on the chair,
then grip
the counter
to rise up and find
a cup, a dish in the cupboard.
you see your father's
liquor bottle hidden
on the top shelf,
amber whiskey,
you twist off the cap,
and sniff.
closing your eyes
in scared wonder.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

he was a good man

why don't you hate your father,
my therapist
asks me, stopping me in mid sentence
as I tell her again
about the time my mother forgot
my birthday.
my father, what does he have
to do with anything, I blurt out,
turning my head
to look at her as I lie
prone on the velvet couch.
think about it, she says,
staring at her cell phone,
and texting.
well, I tell her. sure, he drank
a little, womanized,
occasionally beat
my mother and pulled her hair,
and yes he left seven kids in
the lurch when he ran off with
my mother's best friend,
the avon lady,
but for the most part
he worked hard
and had a great sense of humor.
go on she says, clucking her
tongue, go on, tell me more
about daddy.
look, I don't like where this
session is going, and you're
not really paying attention to me
anyway with that damn phone.
okay, okay, i'm sorry, she says,
snapping the phone shut.
i'm done, I was just texting my
friend Marsha, we were talking
about our patients and how
crazy they are. but i'm done.
go on now.
you were talking about your
daddy. he was a good man?

the easter ham

it was a mistake getting this tattoo.
it seemed like
a good idea at the time,
after four or five
Moscow mules,
driving to some foreign
part of town.
who is she? Esmeralda?
this name now etched upon
my arm.
hearing the door slam,
I look out the window,
maybe that's her,
leaving in her leopard
print coat,
getting into her yellow
ford pinto,
and carrying what looks
like
an easter ham.
my ham that I bought
just yesterday.

so much alike

i never had a dog
that listened or obeyed.
one who
fetched the paper,
or sat,
rolled over, played
dead,
begged.
i never had a dog
who
understood
a word i said, or if
he did ignored
me.
walking him
was like walking a fish,
tugging
every way but
straight,
lost in his world
with me tethered to
the string
he was always trying
to break.
so much alike
we were. so much alike.

a different shade of blue

i know i'm crazy, she says,
sitting
near broken glass,
and blood,
her wrists strapped
white. i know me,
she echoes,
her finger
twirling the dark strands
of her hair, the blue
in her eyes
wet and turning
a different shade of blue,
a muddled
pond of blue.
treatment can educate me,
but it can't cure,
i know these things,
i them in my heart,
so why can't you.