Wednesday, November 30, 2016

nothing said

the small boy
with his truck, makes all the noises
that he imagines
a truck would make,
going forward, going backwards.
he's in the middle of the floor
of the rest home
where my mother sits in a rocker,
rocking towards
the television
in the corner.
the boy wants attention, wants
someone to play
with.
my mother stares at him
blankly, unsmiling,
unsure
of this boy, his bright eyes,
his light hair,
his feverish game alone
on the floor.
she can't get the words out,
then looks at me,
trying so hard
to make sense of any of this.
there is nothing i can
say to help.

nothing said

the small boy
with his truck, makes all the noises
that he imagines
a truck would make,
going forward, going backwards.
he's in the middle of the floor
of the rest home
where my mother sits in a rocker,
rocking towards
the television
in the corner.
the boy wants attention, wants
someone to play
with.
my mother stares at him
blankly, unsmiling,
unsure
of this boy, his bright eyes,
his light hair,
his feverish game alone
on the floor.
she can't get the words out,
then looks at me,
trying so hard
to make sense of any of this.
there is nothing i can
say to help.

i understand

the salesman
rings the bell. I see him
straighten his
tie
as I peer through the peep
hole
in the door.
he rings it again,
then uses the knocker.
banging loudly.
I can see you looking out,
he says.
I know you're in there.
he goes to the window
and sees the tv
on. the pot boiling water.
I duck down
behind the sink.
come on, he says. open up.
I know you need
term life insurance
and this is a once in a life
time deal.
hey, he yells.
finally I yell back to him.
I can't open up,
I say loudly.
I have a woman in here.
oh, he says. i'm sorry,
so when is a good
time to come back?
I don't know, I tell him.
you never know about
these things.
to which he says,
i understand
completely, then leaves..

i understand

the salesman
rings the bell. I see him
straighten his
tie
as I peer through the peep
hole
in the door.
he rings it again,
then uses the knocker.
banging loudly.
I can see you looking out,
he says.
I know you're in there.
he goes to the window
and sees the tv
on. the pot boiling water.
I duck down
behind the sink.
come on, he says. open up.
I know you need
term life insurance
and this is a once in a life
time deal.
hey, he yells.
finally I yell back to him.
I can't open up,
I say loudly.
I have a woman in here.
oh, he says. i'm sorry,
so when is a good
time to come back?
I don't know, I tell him.
you never know about
these things.
to which he says,
i understand
completely, then leaves..

islands in the fog

I can't remember her name,
but I do remember what she looked
like. what her skin felt like.
black hair, black eyes.
short, on the curvy side.
she said she was half American
indian and half French. who knows.
we went out for a while.
I can't even remember where
I met her.
in a club, maybe. dancing,
drinking,
doing what young men did
back then.
it wasn't really going out,
it was more
her coming to my apartment
and spending a few hours
eating and making love.
she never spent the night,
she had a kid, or two kids
she had to get back to.
I was never clear on that.
a lot of what I remember about
her is vague, as if it all
happened in a fog.
but I do remember her skin.
how rough it was. how hard
and grainy it was to the touch.
I had never felt skin like
that before
and would slowly
drag my finger tips across
her back, being amazed,
but not saying a word.
in time, I drifted away,
so did she.

islands in the fog

I can't remember her name,
but I do remember what she looked
like. what her skin felt like.
black hair, black eyes.
short, on the curvy side.
she said she was half American
indian and half French. who knows.
we went out for a while.
I can't even remember where
I met her.
in a club, maybe. dancing,
drinking,
doing what young men did
back then.
it wasn't really going out,
it was more
her coming to my apartment
and spending a few hours
eating and making love.
she never spent the night,
she had a kid, or two kids
she had to get back to.
I was never clear on that.
a lot of what I remember about
her is vague, as if it all
happened in a fog.
but I do remember her skin.
how rough it was. how hard
and grainy it was to the touch.
I had never felt skin like
that before
and would slowly
drag my finger tips across
her back, being amazed,
but not saying a word.
in time, I drifted away,
so did she.

new choppers

he is proud of his new teeth
and opens
his mouth
to show them to me at 8 o'clock
in the morning.
a cloud of
Marlboro smoke
puffs out.
nice, I tell him.
they look
good, real.
they only hurt a little,
he says.
they smoothed down
the bone that was keeping
them from snapping
into place.
nice I say.
i'm going to the steak house
this
weekend,
he tells me.
i'm getting loaded baked
potatoes along
with a ribeye.
good, I tell him.
good.
then hand him a bucket
and a brush,
and point to a spot
near the ceiling
that he missed yesterday.

new choppers

he is proud of his new teeth
and opens
his mouth
to show them to me at 8 o'clock
in the morning.
a cloud of
Marlboro smoke
puffs out.
nice, I tell him.
they look
good, real.
they only hurt a little,
he says.
they smoothed down
the bone that was keeping
them from snapping
into place.
nice I say.
i'm going to the steak house
this
weekend,
he tells me.
i'm getting loaded baked
potatoes along
with a ribeye.
good, I tell him.
good.
then hand him a bucket
and a brush,
and point to a spot
near the ceiling
that he missed yesterday.

while eating nuts

I could be a doctor
by now,
or an esteemed lawyer,
or scientist
solving the mysteries
that confound
the world,
but no, instead I sit
here on the couch
breaking apart pistachio
nuts with my
teeth and tongue,
spitting shells into
a bowl
cupped between my legs,
while
flipping back and forth
from channel to channel
on the big screen
smart tv.

while eating nuts

I could be a doctor
by now,
or an esteemed lawyer,
or scientist
solving the mysteries
that confound
the world,
but no, instead I sit
here on the couch
breaking apart pistachio
nuts with my
teeth and tongue,
spitting shells into
a bowl
cupped between my legs,
while
flipping back and forth
from channel to channel
on the big screen
smart tv.

the pool

how excited you
were
to see the pool in the backyard
when you came home
from school,
your mother
in her plaid shorts
filling it up with a garden
hose.
the dog already inside
splashing around.
these luxuries
made your summer.
an above ground pool,
blue,
and bulging at the sides.
a wire mesh
holding it all together.
like birds,
the neighborhood
filled it up with children.
it lasted a week,
but a good week
it was that early june.

the pool

how excited you
were
to see the pool in the backyard
when you came home
from school,
your mother
in her plaid shorts
filling it up with a garden
hose.
the dog already inside
splashing around.
these luxuries
made your summer.
an above ground pool,
blue,
and bulging at the sides.
a wire mesh
holding it all together.
like birds,
the neighborhood
filled it up with children.
it lasted a week,
but a good week
it was that early june.

the door is ajar

the door is ajar.
someone has just left
or just come in.
there is no car
in the driveway,
the dog hasn't barked.
I hear no footsteps
about the house.
nothing. I go and sit
on the sofa.
await, whoever it
might be. ready to hear
their story
and then tell mine.

the door is ajar

the door is ajar.
someone has just left
or just come in.
there is no car
in the driveway,
the dog hasn't barked.
I hear no footsteps
about the house.
nothing. I go and sit
on the sofa.
await, whoever it
might be. ready to hear
their story
and then tell mine.

a love poem

the itch is still there.
nothing can
reach it, no stick or door
edge,
no rolling in
the blankets,
no book will find
it.
no stranger's hand
can locate
where it is
within your heart.
only you
can scratch it out,
come soon.

a love poem

the itch is still there.
nothing can
reach it, no stick or door
edge,
no rolling in
the blankets,
no book will find
it.
no stranger's hand
can locate
where it is
within your heart.
only you
can scratch it out,
come soon.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

who needs them

if not for the cats we
wouldn't have to change the floors,
she says to me,
pointing at brown
rust spots in the carpet.
the previous owner had five cats.
can you believe that?
one or two should be the legal
limit, I tell her,
watching where i'm stepping.
personally I prefer
dogs, she says. not a big dog,
or one of those small
yapping dogs, but a medium
sized dog.
me too, I tell her.
to be honest with you,
i'm a dog person.
in fact, she says, I like
dogs better than most people.
I smile and nod my head.
I agree, people can be a pain
in the neck, I say. people,
pffft,
who needs them.?

who needs them

if not for the cats we
wouldn't have to change the floors,
she says to me,
pointing at brown
rust spots in the carpet.
the previous owner had five cats.
can you believe that?
one or two should be the legal
limit, I tell her,
watching where i'm stepping.
personally I prefer
dogs, she says. not a big dog,
or one of those small
yapping dogs, but a medium
sized dog.
me too, I tell her.
to be honest with you,
i'm a dog person.
in fact, she says, I like
dogs better than most people.
I smile and nod my head.
I agree, people can be a pain
in the neck, I say. people,
pffft,
who needs them.?

from here to there

not everyone
wants to go home.
go back to from where they came.
some want
to stay on the open
road.
keep moving, keep
getting farther
and farther away from
where they came.
so many directions to go.
so many ways
to travel.
so many years to get from
here to there
and to forget.

from here to there

not everyone
wants to go home.
go back to from where they came.
some want
to stay on the open
road.
keep moving, keep
getting farther
and farther away from
where they came.
so many directions to go.
so many ways
to travel.
so many years to get from
here to there
and to forget.

stop doing that

oh my
the dental hygienist says,
adjusting her glasses,
and her mask,
there's a lot
of blood coming from
that gum
behind
your wisdom tooth.
I hold up my hand
in a koko the monkey gesture
to stop.
grimacing at the pain.
she sucks the blood
out of my mouth
with a plastic tube
and then I tell her,
it's bleeding because
you keep stabbing me
with that metal tool
sharpened to a razor
like point.
every time you jab it
into my gums,
I bleed. why are you doing
that?

stop doing that

oh my
the dental hygienist says,
adjusting her glasses,
and her mask,
there's a lot
of blood coming from
that gum
behind
your wisdom tooth.
I hold up my hand
in a koko the monkey gesture
to stop.
grimacing at the pain.
she sucks the blood
out of my mouth
with a plastic tube
and then I tell her,
it's bleeding because
you keep stabbing me
with that metal tool
sharpened to a razor
like point.
every time you jab it
into my gums,
I bleed. why are you doing
that?

Monday, November 28, 2016

one more

a woman once
brought a baby to our parent's
house
wrapped in a blanket.
no one but us children
were home.
she had dark hair,
dark eyes.
she looked like
none of us. we were children,
but took the baby
from this strange woman.
here's your father's
baby she said,
handing the small thing
to my little sister, who bent
from the weight.
tell him I left his baby
with you, she said, then left.
we watched her out the window,
lighting a cigarette, then
driving away.
someone changed the baby's diaper,
someone heated up
a bottle of milk,
someone brushed her hair,
then rocked her to sleep.
what was one more?

one more

a woman once
brought a baby to our parent's
house
wrapped in a blanket.
no one but us children
were home.
she had dark hair,
dark eyes.
she looked like
none of us. we were children,
but took the baby
from this strange woman.
here's your father's
baby she said,
handing the small thing
to my little sister, who bent
from the weight.
tell him I left his baby
with you, she said, then left.
we watched her out the window,
lighting a cigarette, then
driving away.
someone changed the baby's diaper,
someone heated up
a bottle of milk,
someone brushed her hair,
then rocked her to sleep.
what was one more?

a side order

she likes love.
being in love, being with
one person
for the rest of her life.
whether bound
by the laws marriage or
a simple handshake,
but she says it's like
having your favorite
dinner every night.
steak, or pasta, or a
fresh garden salad.
it never changes, she says,
still smiling,
but looking down the road
at the neon sign
of a diner, flashing open.
sometimes though, she says,
it would be nice
to have a side
order of something different.

a side order

she likes love.
being in love, being with
one person
for the rest of her life.
whether bound
by the laws marriage or
a simple handshake,
but she says it's like
having your favorite
dinner every night.
steak, or pasta, or a
fresh garden salad.
it never changes, she says,
still smiling,
but looking down the road
at the neon sign
of a diner, flashing open.
sometimes though, she says,
it would be nice
to have a side
order of something different.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

the burden of love


when my son tired
walking around the lake,

I picked him up,
let him ride

on my back for a mile
or two, then set

him down.
we'd rest on a bench facing

the sun,
skipping rocks,

searching for turtles
or frogs just to say

we saw one.
he's too large to carry now,

living on another coast,
but I do hold him

in my heart at night,
the burden of love

is never set down.

the burden of love


when my son tired
walking around the lake,

I picked him up,
let him ride

on my back for a mile
or two, then set

him down.
we'd rest on a bench facing

the sun,
skipping rocks,

searching for turtles
or frogs just to say

we saw one.
he's too large to carry now,

living on another coast,
but I do hold him

in my heart at night,
the burden of love

is never set down.

found money

you find
a warm, crumpled five
dollar bill
in the dryer
and consider it luck.
but it isn't luck.
it's something else.
it's money
laundered clean,
ready to be spent
or lost again.

found money

you find
a warm, crumpled five
dollar bill
in the dryer
and consider it luck.
but it isn't luck.
it's something else.
it's money
laundered clean,
ready to be spent
or lost again.

have a good one

you can't remember
if you've sent this card before.
the generic one with
snow
and a sky full of stars.
not an angel or mention
of Christ to
be found.
the box of a hundred
has dwindled down
to a dozen or less
over the years.
your list
has grown shorter
as people die
or move to places far
away. there are
other ways now
to say merry Christmas
happy new year. benignly
of course
so as not to offend,
maybe a smile
with the words, texted,
have a good one.

have a good one

you can't remember
if you've sent this card before.
the generic one with
snow
and a sky full of stars.
not an angel or mention
of Christ to
be found.
the box of a hundred
has dwindled down
to a dozen or less
over the years.
your list
has grown shorter
as people die
or move to places far
away. there are
other ways now
to say merry Christmas
happy new year. benignly
of course
so as not to offend,
maybe a smile
with the words, texted,
have a good one.

jumper cables

there was a time
when
it got cold, really cold.
when the streets were
white,
ice on the windshield cold,
so cold
that no one's car
would start.
the whole block was full
of beat up cars
with their hoods up,
jumper cables
strung from one car to
another,
the men would stand nearby
by as the batteries
charged,
and blue exhaust
dirtied the snow, bloomed
acrid in the air.
the men, old and young
smoked and grunted,
tightening their thin
coats while
rubbing their
two day beards. the women
would be inside,
waiting,
looking out the windows
with long faces
thinking things they could
never say
or do.

jumper cables

there was a time
when
it got cold, really cold.
when the streets were
white,
ice on the windshield cold,
so cold
that no one's car
would start.
the whole block was full
of beat up cars
with their hoods up,
jumper cables
strung from one car to
another,
the men would stand nearby
by as the batteries
charged,
and blue exhaust
dirtied the snow, bloomed
acrid in the air.
the men, old and young
smoked and grunted,
tightening their thin
coats while
rubbing their
two day beards. the women
would be inside,
waiting,
looking out the windows
with long faces
thinking things they could
never say
or do.

holiday memories

let's not fight
today, I tell her as she
picks up a plate
of left over turkey to hurl
at me. the look on her
face
is that of her mother's.
I suddenly see the future.
let's let bygones be
bygones. okay?
I duck when the plate
comes flying towards my
head. it crashes into
the wall
knocking down our wedding
pictures
on the mantle.
the dog, cowering under
the table
seizes the moment, rushes
out for bones
and debris, some gravy,
the inedible butternut squash
that her
mother brought over.

holiday memories

let's not fight
today, I tell her as she
picks up a plate
of left over turkey to hurl
at me. the look on her
face
is that of her mother's.
I suddenly see the future.
let's let bygones be
bygones. okay?
I duck when the plate
comes flying towards my
head. it crashes into
the wall
knocking down our wedding
pictures
on the mantle.
the dog, cowering under
the table
seizes the moment, rushes
out for bones
and debris, some gravy,
the inedible butternut squash
that her
mother brought over.

spice cake

what is there
in the cake
that isn't in you.
sugar, eggs, cream
and butter.
icing. spice.
I could have a slice
of you a day
but that
might be too much
for my
sweet tooth,
making me take you for
granted.
just having you near
under glass,
with knife
nearby is enough
to get me through
the day, or night,
without a bite,
a nibble, a slice,
although a midnight
taste would
certainly be nice.

spice cake

what is there
in the cake
that isn't in you.
sugar, eggs, cream
and butter.
icing. spice.
I could have a slice
of you a day
but that
might be too much
for my
sweet tooth,
making me take you for
granted.
just having you near
under glass,
with knife
nearby is enough
to get me through
the day, or night,
without a bite,
a nibble, a slice,
although a midnight
taste would
certainly be nice.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

the red planet

you sign up
for the mission to mars, and strangely
they accept your
application.
you just want to get away
for awhile
in a space suit,
eat things out of a tube,
look out the window
at the planets,
the stars.
you just want to go along
for the ride
and not work, or push
buttons, or
say things like all systems
go, or roger that.
maybe you'll take a nap
along the way, stretch out
and do some crossword puzzles.
use your phone
to take pictures, on
the alert
for alien space ships, pointing
interesting things
out to the busy
astronauts.
you can help gather rocks
and stuff like
that when you get there
if your back hasn't stiffened up
from the long trip.
maybe you'll straighten up
the ship
when the real astronauts
are out doing things.
you imagine there will be
red dust floating everywhere.
maybe you'll see
if betty can come too.
she doesn't eat much or take
up too much room.
we can share a space suit
if need be. she can bring her
vacuum.

the red planet

you sign up
for the mission to mars, and strangely
they accept your
application.
you just want to get away
for awhile
in a space suit,
eat things out of a tube,
look out the window
at the planets,
the stars.
you just want to go along
for the ride
and not work, or push
buttons, or
say things like all systems
go, or roger that.
maybe you'll take a nap
along the way, stretch out
and do some crossword puzzles.
use your phone
to take pictures, on
the alert
for alien space ships, pointing
interesting things
out to the busy
astronauts.
you can help gather rocks
and stuff like
that when you get there
if your back hasn't stiffened up
from the long trip.
maybe you'll straighten up
the ship
when the real astronauts
are out doing things.
you imagine there will be
red dust floating everywhere.
maybe you'll see
if betty can come too.
she doesn't eat much or take
up too much room.
we can share a space suit
if need be. she can bring her
vacuum.

maybe Spain

they live
and die politics. listening all
day
to the pundits,
to the blabbering talk
shows,
but just one side.
they rattle
the paper in front of you
and cry,
did you read this.
look at the headline.
did you see what he's going
to do now?
they are distressed
and crying. everyday they moan
and groan,
they can't sleep, or eat.
it's the end
they say,
we're moving to Canada,
to cuba,
to the Netherlands,
maybe Spain.

maybe Spain

they live
and die politics. listening all
day
to the pundits,
to the blabbering talk
shows,
but just one side.
they rattle
the paper in front of you
and cry,
did you read this.
look at the headline.
did you see what he's going
to do now?
they are distressed
and crying. everyday they moan
and groan,
they can't sleep, or eat.
it's the end
they say,
we're moving to Canada,
to cuba,
to the Netherlands,
maybe Spain.

the long visit

they come
to visit. luggage. a dog.
three kids
in tow,
all table high,
all turning knobs on
the stove.
the back door is left
open.
the music turned
up.
in the middle of the night
they wander
and cough.
I hear the steps creak,
the bedsprings as they
make love,
fight.
these blood strangers
who come
just once a year,
have settled upon
the sofa,
holding the remote,
asking
if there is anything
cold to drink,
or hot.
nothing is put back.
the dishes
rise
in the sink. it's only
Saturday morning.
but not too early
to start drinking.

the long visit

they come
to visit. luggage. a dog.
three kids
in tow,
all table high,
all turning knobs on
the stove.
the back door is left
open.
the music turned
up.
in the middle of the night
they wander
and cough.
I hear the steps creak,
the bedsprings as they
make love,
fight.
these blood strangers
who come
just once a year,
have settled upon
the sofa,
holding the remote,
asking
if there is anything
cold to drink,
or hot.
nothing is put back.
the dishes
rise
in the sink. it's only
Saturday morning.
but not too early
to start drinking.

Friday, November 25, 2016

unhurried

unhurried
in a fast world, I hug
the right lane,
linger
at the end of any line,
unrushed
with groceries.
I have the luxury
of time.
no place to be,
no traffic to beat,
no concern
about the bridge or
weather.
I am free.

unhurried

unhurried
in a fast world, I hug
the right lane,
linger
at the end of any line,
unrushed
with groceries.
I have the luxury
of time.
no place to be,
no traffic to beat,
no concern
about the bridge or
weather.
I am free.

it's different now

she rocks
perpetually, front to back,
in her red sweater,
buttoned
by hands
not hers. her slippers on,
her soft pants,
her hair chopped
across
then combed straight,
unlike
any hair, I've seen
on her
throughout my life.
she says my name,
over
and over, as I ask her
what she's
thinking,
what she remembers.
childlike she looks me
in the eye
embarrassed by her shyness,
her tears.
I think of you, she says,
I think of everyone all
the time. but
it's different now, she
manages.
it's different, then
I too
cry.

it's different now

she rocks
perpetually, front to back,
in her red sweater,
buttoned
by hands
not hers. her slippers on,
her soft pants,
her hair chopped
across
then combed straight,
unlike
any hair, I've seen
on her
throughout my life.
she says my name,
over
and over, as I ask her
what she's
thinking,
what she remembers.
childlike she looks me
in the eye
embarrassed by her shyness,
her tears.
I think of you, she says,
I think of everyone all
the time. but
it's different now, she
manages.
it's different, then
I too
cry.

the holiday

her photos of ample food,
of silver
ware
and plates, emptied,
full.
her snap shots of lights,
candles
flickering,
before the carving,
after.
tell me
little.
not a single face
is seen, not
a tear wiped by the back
of hand.
not a smile,
or sweet kiss given.

the holiday

her photos of ample food,
of silver
ware
and plates, emptied,
full.
her snap shots of lights,
candles
flickering,
before the carving,
after.
tell me
little.
not a single face
is seen, not
a tear wiped by the back
of hand.
not a smile,
or sweet kiss given.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

turkey chain gang

I saw a chain
gang of turkeys running
down the street,
in my dream.
they looked back at the butcher
in his bloodied
apron, carrying an axe.
together they ran
until they got on a bus,
taking the cross
town
where they hoped
to board a train at Penn Station
and get out of Dodge.
they sat in the back,
keeping their long necks still,
their nervous voices down,
looking out the window
at the butcher,
shaking his head,
his long frown.

turkey chain gang

I saw a chain
gang of turkeys running
down the street,
in my dream.
they looked back at the butcher
in his bloodied
apron, carrying an axe.
together they ran
until they got on a bus,
taking the cross
town
where they hoped
to board a train at Penn Station
and get out of Dodge.
they sat in the back,
keeping their long necks still,
their nervous voices down,
looking out the window
at the butcher,
shaking his head,
his long frown.

a swan

the white swan
in the man made lake,
shallow
and wide,
moves gracefully
across the water,
a beauty out
of place,
behind the mall,
the tire center,
the rail road tracks,
a gutted barn
at the edge.
she glides from side
to side,
her long neck
elegantly poised.
she's beyond this.
above this
pond she's landed in.
some women
can handle this, some
can't.

a swan

the white swan
in the man made lake,
shallow
and wide,
moves gracefully
across the water,
a beauty out
of place,
behind the mall,
the tire center,
the rail road tracks,
a gutted barn
at the edge.
she glides from side
to side,
her long neck
elegantly poised.
she's beyond this.
above this
pond she's landed in.
some women
can handle this, some
can't.

the cousins in philly

the cousins,
the ones in philly with their
dark
Italian eyes
and hair,
half of them named johnny
or delores,
or marie
or joey
don't see eye to eye on
many things,
but when they gather
together for the holidays
they hug and kiss,
bump hands,
drink to excess and eat
eat eat
until there's nothing left.
the only time
they stop yelling
about politics or football,
or remember whens,
is when they
pray before the meal,
quiet for a minute until
it all starts up
again.

the cousins in philly

the cousins,
the ones in philly with their
dark
Italian eyes
and hair,
half of them named johnny
or delores,
or marie
or joey
don't see eye to eye on
many things,
but when they gather
together for the holidays
they hug and kiss,
bump hands,
drink to excess and eat
eat eat
until there's nothing left.
the only time
they stop yelling
about politics or football,
or remember whens,
is when they
pray before the meal,
quiet for a minute until
it all starts up
again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

forgetting the olives

the checker,
numb with pushing fat
frozen turkeys
across the belt, lifting
each one into a bag,
then cart,
says little. for what is
there to say but
did you find everything you
were looking for?
who can answer that
truthfully?
what right does he have
to ask such a question,
so deep
and meaningful
as I remember
that I've forgotten
the olives.

forgetting the olives

the checker,
numb with pushing fat
frozen turkeys
across the belt, lifting
each one into a bag,
then cart,
says little. for what is
there to say but
did you find everything you
were looking for?
who can answer that
truthfully?
what right does he have
to ask such a question,
so deep
and meaningful
as I remember
that I've forgotten
the olives.

she's different

the tint
lies on top of the paint,
the third gallon,
now open and
marbled
in a swirl
of color, raw umber,
black,
magenta red.
unshaken, it comes like this,
before yellow takes
hold,
becomes whole,
readied for the wall.
for now though,
the circle is pretty,
before blended
and made
to look like all the rest.

she's different

the tint
lies on top of the paint,
the third gallon,
now open and
marbled
in a swirl
of color, raw umber,
black,
magenta red.
unshaken, it comes like this,
before yellow takes
hold,
becomes whole,
readied for the wall.
for now though,
the circle is pretty,
before blended
and made
to look like all the rest.

she reminds me of you

she reminds me of you,
who reminded me
of her,
and the one who came before,
no,
not that one,
but the other
one, the who preceded
the first, or was it
the second, and final
love of
my increasingly
confusing, yet
shortened life.

she reminds me of you

she reminds me of you,
who reminded me
of her,
and the one who came before,
no,
not that one,
but the other
one, the who preceded
the first, or was it
the second, and final
love of
my increasingly
confusing, yet
shortened life.

Monday, November 21, 2016

walking the lake

I know this lake,
each bend,
each break of woods
where the sun
comes in.
the island off shore.
the blue heron
alight on wide wings.
the gravel,
the hills, each bridge
walked a thousand
times or more.
I know this lake
in every season, having
walked it with
others, or alone.
today it seems longer
in getting around.
something that I always
feel as each new
year becomes old.

walking the lake

I know this lake,
each bend,
each break of woods
where the sun
comes in.
the island off shore.
the blue heron
alight on wide wings.
the gravel,
the hills, each bridge
walked a thousand
times or more.
I know this lake
in every season, having
walked it with
others, or alone.
today it seems longer
in getting around.
something that I always
feel as each new
year becomes old.

the snake

thinking it was rope,
or an odd
circle
of something stored,
tucked away in
the shadow,
hatched tan and brown,
coiled in the corner
of the damp
shed.
seen only by the light
of a sun
through trees
and the bent wood
where it crawled to rest
and wait.
you touched it's hard
skin, poked
at it with a finger,
feeling the indent
of small bones
and a steel meshed band.
the snake reared
it's head
before you could speak,
falling back. it's pink
eyes and pinker mouth
white like cotton
opened
with slivers of teeth,
a tongue split
and moving, ready to lurch
upon you,
to satisfy your fears.

the snake

thinking it was rope,
or an odd
circle
of something stored,
tucked away in
the shadow,
hatched tan and brown,
coiled in the corner
of the damp
shed.
seen only by the light
of a sun
through trees
and the bent wood
where it crawled to rest
and wait.
you touched it's hard
skin, poked
at it with a finger,
feeling the indent
of small bones
and a steel meshed band.
the snake reared
it's head
before you could speak,
falling back. it's pink
eyes and pinker mouth
white like cotton
opened
with slivers of teeth,
a tongue split
and moving, ready to lurch
upon you,
to satisfy your fears.

a cold brew

a cold brew
of clouds and stars
scratched
out
across a curved black
bowl
of sky
leaves me wanting for
warmth.
something
like love, but not exactly.
something
I can't put
my finger on, or say
in words.
I feel a need
undrawn, unsaid, but
will know it
and rest my head upon
it's pillow
when it does arrive.

a cold brew

a cold brew
of clouds and stars
scratched
out
across a curved black
bowl
of sky
leaves me wanting for
warmth.
something
like love, but not exactly.
something
I can't put
my finger on, or say
in words.
I feel a need
undrawn, unsaid, but
will know it
and rest my head upon
it's pillow
when it does arrive.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

what's left behind

we leave behind
so much
for others to gather
and make their own.
the empty
rooms will be filled
by those we don't know.
the bed
slept in, perhaps
those shoes
will fit another's
feet.
that coat in the hall
closet.
worn on a winters day
such as
today.
that table, those dishes.
another meal
will be served
and eaten.
a hand will light that
candle,
take a book and read,
sitting where
you once sat
and pondered, what next.

what's left behind

we leave behind
so much
for others to gather
and make their own.
the empty
rooms will be filled
by those we don't know.
the bed
slept in, perhaps
those shoes
will fit another's
feet.
that coat in the hall
closet.
worn on a winters day
such as
today.
that table, those dishes.
another meal
will be served
and eaten.
a hand will light that
candle,
take a book and read,
sitting where
you once sat
and pondered, what next.

bridges

from this bridge
across
rock creek park,
the great divide of woods
and city,
a sleeve
of water rolls below.
it holds in it
the silver coins tossed
for wishes
that never came true,
on this overpass,
this ancient bridge
of stone and steel I can
imagine tossing myself
off
as others have, when blue,
but don't,
though I understand
completely
how other being lost,
and do.

bridges

from this bridge
across
rock creek park,
the great divide of woods
and city,
a sleeve
of water rolls below.
it holds in it
the silver coins tossed
for wishes
that never came true,
on this overpass,
this ancient bridge
of stone and steel I can
imagine tossing myself
off
as others have, when blue,
but don't,
though I understand
completely
how other being lost,
and do.

flowers

a vase of flowers,
freshly cut,
watered,
is sometimes all a room needs
to make
it right.
set the mood,
so it is with you
here
in that chair,
legs crossed, eyes
bright.
hands in your lap.

flowers

a vase of flowers,
freshly cut,
watered,
is sometimes all a room needs
to make
it right.
set the mood,
so it is with you
here
in that chair,
legs crossed, eyes
bright.
hands in your lap.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

the ice box

the jelly
and jams sit cold and squat
on the metal
shelf, side door
of the old ice box.
my grandmother in north reading
had a fridge like this.
she used to defrost
it with a butter knife,
standing on a small
stool,
towels on the floor
to catch the puddles of cold
water.
the fur of old ice
melted slowly.
she'd have the radio on.
big bands, mostly.
but I never saw her
shake a leg, or move a muscle
to the music.
she was too busy
with her short arms
in the box, chiseling
away on the thick
ice.
the jelly and jams,
remind me of her, how she
loved her toast and tea
in the morning,
and demanded we have manners.
telling
us to ask politely
and to get our elbows
off the table.

the ice box

the jelly
and jams sit cold and squat
on the metal
shelf, side door
of the old ice box.
my grandmother in north reading
had a fridge like this.
she used to defrost
it with a butter knife,
standing on a small
stool,
towels on the floor
to catch the puddles of cold
water.
the fur of old ice
melted slowly.
she'd have the radio on.
big bands, mostly.
but I never saw her
shake a leg, or move a muscle
to the music.
she was too busy
with her short arms
in the box, chiseling
away on the thick
ice.
the jelly and jams,
remind me of her, how she
loved her toast and tea
in the morning,
and demanded we have manners.
telling
us to ask politely
and to get our elbows
off the table.

the whistle

I can hear
a train whistle as it crosses
the trestle
through the thin woods,
the trees
bent and losing leaves
on this harsh
night.
the train moves on,
sleek against the tracks,
silver
as it bends,
the yellow light of windows
flashing softly
by.
I can imagine being
on that train,
ticket in hand, a bag
at my side, coming
to you,
and you at the station
waiting,
with open arms.
with tears in your eyes.
wanting me
to be there, me wanting
that too.

the whistle

I can hear
a train whistle as it crosses
the trestle
through the thin woods,
the trees
bent and losing leaves
on this harsh
night.
the train moves on,
sleek against the tracks,
silver
as it bends,
the yellow light of windows
flashing softly
by.
I can imagine being
on that train,
ticket in hand, a bag
at my side, coming
to you,
and you at the station
waiting,
with open arms.
with tears in your eyes.
wanting me
to be there, me wanting
that too.

in the wind

a blue scarf,
almost violet in color
is in the wind.
it reminds of something,
some place,
some one.
a vague memory,
now touched
and brought to life.
it blows so quickly
into the air,
plays in a swirl,
circling,
not caught
on a thing just yet.
no one is chasing
it.
it's lost its way.
this pretty blue scarf
in the wind.

in the wind

a blue scarf,
almost violet in color
is in the wind.
it reminds of something,
some place,
some one.
a vague memory,
now touched
and brought to life.
it blows so quickly
into the air,
plays in a swirl,
circling,
not caught
on a thing just yet.
no one is chasing
it.
it's lost its way.
this pretty blue scarf
in the wind.

not now, honey

not now, she says,
pulling on her sweat pants.
let's do this later.
let's
get out in the sun
and take
a walk.
not now, later, I promise.
okay?
but this will only
take a few minutes.
I know, I know.
and it's been awhile,
but let's do it
later.
i'm not keeping track
but it's been three weeks,
two days,
and six hours.
okay, okay. you can
hold out a little bit longer,
my love.
I promise you won't
be disappointed.
cross my heart.
so let's take that walk.
it's so nice out.
a quick walk, right?
not all the ways
around the lake and up
the hill. and we're not stopping
at starbucks
and petting every dog
along the way.
okay?
we'll see she says,
tying her hair up
into a knot.

not now, honey

not now, she says,
pulling on her sweat pants.
let's do this later.
let's
get out in the sun
and take
a walk.
not now, later, I promise.
okay?
but this will only
take a few minutes.
I know, I know.
and it's been awhile,
but let's do it
later.
i'm not keeping track
but it's been three weeks,
two days,
and six hours.
okay, okay. you can
hold out a little bit longer,
my love.
I promise you won't
be disappointed.
cross my heart.
so let's take that walk.
it's so nice out.
a quick walk, right?
not all the ways
around the lake and up
the hill. and we're not stopping
at starbucks
and petting every dog
along the way.
okay?
we'll see she says,
tying her hair up
into a knot.

holiday shopping

I was in line at the liquor
store
the other day,
holding my webbed green
bag to carry out
my bottles,
when I realized that I forgot
to bring my list. i
listened to the fake
santa ring
his bell in front of
pet smart, driving the dogs
crazy,
making them think that
a door bell
was ringing and watched as
a man and woman carried out
a hundred inch
tv from the big store.
then I remembered.
aunt helen wants a fifth
of bourbon and a carton
of lucky strikes
dad wants vodka. my brother
wants tequila.
sally, wine, cindy wine.
sarah wine.
Josie wine. Candace wine.
Stephanie wine. donna wine,
ginger, wine.
I need a bigger bag.

holiday shopping

I was in line at the liquor
store
the other day,
holding my webbed green
bag to carry out
my bottles,
when I realized that I forgot
to bring my list. i
listened to the fake
santa ring
his bell in front of
pet smart, driving the dogs
crazy,
making them think that
a door bell
was ringing and watched as
a man and woman carried out
a hundred inch
tv from the big store.
then I remembered.
aunt helen wants a fifth
of bourbon and a carton
of lucky strikes
dad wants vodka. my brother
wants tequila.
sally, wine, cindy wine.
sarah wine.
Josie wine. Candace wine.
Stephanie wine. donna wine,
ginger, wine.
I need a bigger bag.

on stage

he has a small part
in a play.
there will be singing and dancing,
of which
he likes neither,
but it's
something to add to his resume.
last year he was
in a production
of the wizard of oz,
he played the wizard. this
year he's George
in a wonderful life.
he walks around
all day pretending to be
someone he isn't,
memorizing and acting
out his lines.
he's happy this way,
and so are those that know
him.

on stage

he has a small part
in a play.
there will be singing and dancing,
of which
he likes neither,
but it's
something to add to his resume.
last year he was
in a production
of the wizard of oz,
he played the wizard. this
year he's George
in a wonderful life.
he walks around
all day pretending to be
someone he isn't,
memorizing and acting
out his lines.
he's happy this way,
and so are those that know
him.

Friday, November 18, 2016

i know i will

I can't work any harder
than I did today.
I stare at my hands, blackened
with paint.
under the nails,
into the skin,
not even an hour long soak
in the tub
takes it off.
ten rolls of wallpaper
smoothed onto walls,
paint,
more work outside as the sun
came down.
she leaves a check
on the counter.
shows me how the door locks
itself.
shows me the button
for the garage.
it's dark out when I back out
of the driveway.
I have places
to go, but can't get there.
I can't work any harder
than what I did today,
but I know I will.
I know I will.

i know i will

I can't work any harder
than I did today.
I stare at my hands, blackened
with paint.
under the nails,
into the skin,
not even an hour long soak
in the tub
takes it off.
ten rolls of wallpaper
smoothed onto walls,
paint,
more work outside as the sun
came down.
she leaves a check
on the counter.
shows me how the door locks
itself.
shows me the button
for the garage.
it's dark out when I back out
of the driveway.
I have places
to go, but can't get there.
I can't work any harder
than what I did today,
but I know I will.
I know I will.

whatever

you left out a comma,
she says.
it's almost like you don't even
work on
these things you write.
your craftsmanship stinks.
I hone and carve
my poems down to the bone
before I read them
at the slam,
at the workshop,
for my admirers, she says
beating her chest
proudly. it almost
seems like
it doesn't matter
what you write
about, coffee and eggs,
traffic,
dogs. you don't seem to care
who reads
it or likes it or anything.
your line breaks are ridiculous,
my professor would
beat you with a stick.
it's almost like you're
writing just for you.
what's up with that?
i'm sorry, did you say something?

whatever

you left out a comma,
she says.
it's almost like you don't even
work on
these things you write.
your craftsmanship stinks.
I hone and carve
my poems down to the bone
before I read them
at the slam,
at the workshop,
for my admirers, she says
beating her chest
proudly. it almost
seems like
it doesn't matter
what you write
about, coffee and eggs,
traffic,
dogs. you don't seem to care
who reads
it or likes it or anything.
your line breaks are ridiculous,
my professor would
beat you with a stick.
it's almost like you're
writing just for you.
what's up with that?
i'm sorry, did you say something?

how about that

everyone knows
somebody
that knows somebody
that puts them into
the winning circle.
close
enough to rub
elbows, be in the glow
of greatness.
whether writer, or actor,
doesn't matter.
the king
of England,
or the kings of leon.
it's enough
for some to say, hey,
you know so and so, yeah,
him,
we talked.
we were on the elevator
together,
we might have a drink
some day.
how about that?

how about that

everyone knows
somebody
that knows somebody
that puts them into
the winning circle.
close
enough to rub
elbows, be in the glow
of greatness.
whether writer, or actor,
doesn't matter.
the king
of England,
or the kings of leon.
it's enough
for some to say, hey,
you know so and so, yeah,
him,
we talked.
we were on the elevator
together,
we might have a drink
some day.
how about that?

our room

they talk metaphorically
about
the elephant in the room.
the one big thing that isn't
discussed.
we had monkeys
swinging from the chandeliers,
we had giraffes. we had
snakes
slithering beneath
our feet,
llamas. chickens pecking
at june bugs.
our room was full of many
things we ignored
just to keep
the peace.

our room

they talk metaphorically
about
the elephant in the room.
the one big thing that isn't
discussed.
we had monkeys
swinging from the chandeliers,
we had giraffes. we had
snakes
slithering beneath
our feet,
llamas. chickens pecking
at june bugs.
our room was full of many
things we ignored
just to keep
the peace.

when things

when things are going good.
the world
being rosy.
and love is near,
or approaching like a white
sheeted sailboat
on blue water,
you relax your bones
and settle back
into the chair your life
has become.
you rock gently,
and breathe
a pleasant sigh.

when things

when things are going good.
the world
being rosy.
and love is near,
or approaching like a white
sheeted sailboat
on blue water,
you relax your bones
and settle back
into the chair your life
has become.
you rock gently,
and breathe
a pleasant sigh.

eggs

I've known lots
of eggs.
good eggs, bad eggs.
hard boiled,
over easy
and sunny side up.
free range eggs.
organic.
brown or white.
large or small.
I've even been in love
with some scrambled
eggs. but
you don't know
until you crack
one open and put
her in the pan
what you're
going to get.

eggs

I've known lots
of eggs.
good eggs, bad eggs.
hard boiled,
over easy
and sunny side up.
free range eggs.
organic.
brown or white.
large or small.
I've even been in love
with some scrambled
eggs. but
you don't know
until you crack
one open and put
her in the pan
what you're
going to get.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

answering the bell

the prize
fighter sits in his corner.
blinking
sweat
and blood from
his eyes. a wet sponge
is squeezed over
his head.
the crowd
is restless, they want
a knock out.
he thinks about his life.
that it's come
to this.
leg weary and too old
for the game,
but needing
the cash, the affirmation.
what is there to do
but get up
when the bell rings
and go out
and strike the man in front
of him.
win, not lose.
who isn't answering
the bell
each morning.

answering the bell

the prize
fighter sits in his corner.
blinking
sweat
and blood from
his eyes. a wet sponge
is squeezed over
his head.
the crowd
is restless, they want
a knock out.
he thinks about his life.
that it's come
to this.
leg weary and too old
for the game,
but needing
the cash, the affirmation.
what is there to do
but get up
when the bell rings
and go out
and strike the man in front
of him.
win, not lose.
who isn't answering
the bell
each morning.

finger on the scale

things don't always
add up,
sometimes a finger is on the scale
tipping it
erroneously
in the favor
of the butcher.
deals are made
in the back room.
someone utters a threat
beneath his breath.
someone will
pay, heads will roll.
justice
will be served,
cold. who said the world
is fair?

finger on the scale

things don't always
add up,
sometimes a finger is on the scale
tipping it
erroneously
in the favor
of the butcher.
deals are made
in the back room.
someone utters a threat
beneath his breath.
someone will
pay, heads will roll.
justice
will be served,
cold. who said the world
is fair?

local corn

it's easy
to make light of the farmer's market,
with their
apples
in a basket, their
tomatoes
piled
high. men in straw
hats
and overalls.
presenting local corn.
local
peas and carrots.
local
lettuce. home baked pies.
I don't really care where
it's from
as long as it's fresh
and bug free.
have some warm cider,
the sign says
beside
a woman who may or may
not be dressed
like Martha Washington.
made from organic
apples
by a local farmer,
using real
cane sugar.

local corn

it's easy
to make light of the farmer's market,
with their
apples
in a basket, their
tomatoes
piled
high. men in straw
hats
and overalls.
presenting local corn.
local
peas and carrots.
local
lettuce. home baked pies.
I don't really care where
it's from
as long as it's fresh
and bug free.
have some warm cider,
the sign says
beside
a woman who may or may
not be dressed
like Martha Washington.
made from organic
apples
by a local farmer,
using real
cane sugar.

what's come has gone

the goodbyes
are adding up.
the hellos are few.
what's come
has gone.
what lies ahead is shadowed
beneath a cloud
of age,
of time
refusing to stop
for anyone.

what's come has gone

the goodbyes
are adding up.
the hellos are few.
what's come
has gone.
what lies ahead is shadowed
beneath a cloud
of age,
of time
refusing to stop
for anyone.

renters

renters, how
little they care about
the floor,
the carpet, the dogs running
wild, off chain.
the broken window
is someone else's
problem.
the drips of leaky spigots,
the toilet
that won't flush.
mice.
they make a list
and at some point put it
in the mail
with the rent check,
a week late.
why lock the door,
why turn the heat off,
why bother with
the spill,
or care about the noise
they make.
renters have a way of not
caring
about consequences.
some lovers are like that.
just renting,
not caring
and about to move on.

renters

renters, how
little they care about
the floor,
the carpet, the dogs running
wild, off chain.
the broken window
is someone else's
problem.
the drips of leaky spigots,
the toilet
that won't flush.
mice.
they make a list
and at some point put it
in the mail
with the rent check,
a week late.
why lock the door,
why turn the heat off,
why bother with
the spill,
or care about the noise
they make.
renters have a way of not
caring
about consequences.
some lovers are like that.
just renting,
not caring
and about to move on.

beside her

she misses
the warm body beside her.
the bed
tilted in
that way
that bodies do. the hand
across her hand.
the gentle snore
as he lies
asleep
in dream. she misses
the rising sun
beside
someone that loves her.
someone
who wants to be there
and only
there
when he awakens
to her kiss, her love
given fully
in return.

beside her

she misses
the warm body beside her.
the bed
tilted in
that way
that bodies do. the hand
across her hand.
the gentle snore
as he lies
asleep
in dream. she misses
the rising sun
beside
someone that loves her.
someone
who wants to be there
and only
there
when he awakens
to her kiss, her love
given fully
in return.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

let me get my card

please take me off
the call list I beg the caller.
please
stop calling.
I have enough Cialis,
Viagra,
snow tires and
windows.
I don't need any lightbulbs,
or to refinance
my mortgage
again.
please, I beg of you to stop
with the calls.
stop.
today, you can get a fifty
percent discount
on prednisone,
this one time only,
the young voice says
in his mixed and garbled language.
a hundred pills
for ten dollars.
I hear chopsticks
going into a bowl, stirring.
free delivery,
he says.
hold on for a second, let
me get my card.

let me get my card

please take me off
the call list I beg the caller.
please
stop calling.
I have enough Cialis,
Viagra,
snow tires and
windows.
I don't need any lightbulbs,
or to refinance
my mortgage
again.
please, I beg of you to stop
with the calls.
stop.
today, you can get a fifty
percent discount
on prednisone,
this one time only,
the young voice says
in his mixed and garbled language.
a hundred pills
for ten dollars.
I hear chopsticks
going into a bowl, stirring.
free delivery,
he says.
hold on for a second, let
me get my card.

the unread

what happened was,
was this.
a life comes
in.
a life is lived.
death occurs.
but it's the in between
that
seems important,
not the start or
the finish.
though most
never find out what that
is.
sure, we
pass each other
on the street and say
hello,
or goodbye,
or say how nice or cold
it might
be, but that's all we
have time
for.
we have our story
to be written,
then left, eternally,
to be unread.

the unread

what happened was,
was this.
a life comes
in.
a life is lived.
death occurs.
but it's the in between
that
seems important,
not the start or
the finish.
though most
never find out what that
is.
sure, we
pass each other
on the street and say
hello,
or goodbye,
or say how nice or cold
it might
be, but that's all we
have time
for.
we have our story
to be written,
then left, eternally,
to be unread.

some days

there are some days
when
people
are annoying.
sometimes the whole
day
they are on your bumper,
angry
or impatient
in the lines we all
must stand in.
things are said.
gestures made.
no one is happy, or even
close
to contentment.
there is the underlying
feeling
of unhappiness
in these people.
they live under a dark cloud
and bring it with them.
but then there are some
days
where it's quite
the opposite.
these are the days when
you don't leave
your house, but stay home
and look out
the window.

some days

there are some days
when
people
are annoying.
sometimes the whole
day
they are on your bumper,
angry
or impatient
in the lines we all
must stand in.
things are said.
gestures made.
no one is happy, or even
close
to contentment.
there is the underlying
feeling
of unhappiness
in these people.
they live under a dark cloud
and bring it with them.
but then there are some
days
where it's quite
the opposite.
these are the days when
you don't leave
your house, but stay home
and look out
the window.

Monday, November 14, 2016

too much good

back on the sauce,
he calls
me. I love you man,
he says,
slurring his words, I hear
the clink
of glass, the cold
rattle of ice,
a bottle against
the rim.
the music is turned up.
let me know when you have
some more work, he says.
his ex wife's voice
rails in the background
telling him to get off
the goddamn phone
and come here.
too much good has
come into his life and it's
time to right
the ship,
sink it down
again.

too much good

back on the sauce,
he calls
me. I love you man,
he says,
slurring his words, I hear
the clink
of glass, the cold
rattle of ice,
a bottle against
the rim.
the music is turned up.
let me know when you have
some more work, he says.
his ex wife's voice
rails in the background
telling him to get off
the goddamn phone
and come here.
too much good has
come into his life and it's
time to right
the ship,
sink it down
again.

the thin man

his eyes, were what I saw.
as he sat
still in his glass cage,
sawdust on the floor,
a pail of water
nearby.
not a crust of bread
to be found.
his ribs looked wooden
beneath
his slack skin,
the hull of a thin
ship raised
from the ocean floor,
rows
of bones protruding,
making the crowd
gasp as they leaned
upon the glass
eating glazed red apples
and hot dogs,
cotton candy.
his cheeks hollowed
so that his teeth took up
too much room.
why did he even need teeth
a boy said to his mother who
shrugged.
he hungered not.
this was what he did.
not eating
as the carnival rolled from
small town
to smaller towns.

the thin man

his eyes, were what I saw.
as he sat
still in his glass cage,
sawdust on the floor,
a pail of water
nearby.
not a crust of bread
to be found.
his ribs looked wooden
beneath
his slack skin,
the hull of a thin
ship raised
from the ocean floor,
rows
of bones protruding,
making the crowd
gasp as they leaned
upon the glass
eating glazed red apples
and hot dogs,
cotton candy.
his cheeks hollowed
so that his teeth took up
too much room.
why did he even need teeth
a boy said to his mother who
shrugged.
he hungered not.
this was what he did.
not eating
as the carnival rolled from
small town
to smaller towns.

the evil ones

the condo board
and their brown shirted minions
march
the neighborhood
with clipboard
in hand, taking notes,
numbers
and names.
marking whose trash
is out early,
whose dog
is on the loose,
or has left
a small
pile behind.
what gives you the right
to change that
door knob from brass to nickel.
who has no sticker
properly displayed,
who dares
to park in a visitor's spot
without
authorized approval.
they are crafty weasels
elected
by a majority of three
or four
who attended their
holy meetings
under the dead of night
in a small
room at Washington Irving
elementary school
where only evil,
and assessments
come out,
and gloom.

the evil ones

the condo board
and their brown shirted minions
march
the neighborhood
with clipboard
in hand, taking notes,
numbers
and names.
marking whose trash
is out early,
whose dog
is on the loose,
or has left
a small
pile behind.
what gives you the right
to change that
door knob from brass to nickel.
who has no sticker
properly displayed,
who dares
to park in a visitor's spot
without
authorized approval.
they are crafty weasels
elected
by a majority of three
or four
who attended their
holy meetings
under the dead of night
in a small
room at Washington Irving
elementary school
where only evil,
and assessments
come out,
and gloom.

so it goes

I listen again
to the old music.
I read
the same books over
and over.
the poetry that rings true
to me
is by my bedside.
I like the old
pair of jeans,
the worn shoes,
the sweater with a hole
in the sleeve.
it's about comfort
and knowing,
and so it
goes with me,
with you.

so it goes

I listen again
to the old music.
I read
the same books over
and over.
the poetry that rings true
to me
is by my bedside.
I like the old
pair of jeans,
the worn shoes,
the sweater with a hole
in the sleeve.
it's about comfort
and knowing,
and so it
goes with me,
with you.

the fire

the fire
in the old house
shot through the windows.
outside
the family stood in
their
night clothes
watching
in the cold as the flames
licked
and licked
at the wood frame,
taking
in the roof.
someone said there was
a baby
inside.
a dog. a small child.
but there was no going back
in.
the firemen
arrived in their long red
trucks
unable to get close.
they stood with their hoses
as the water
arced into the red roar,
doing little.
we didn't know
the family.
but I remember how hard
my mother cried
for the children, for
the mother.
not knowing their names.
but knowing.

the fire

the fire
in the old house
shot through the windows.
outside
the family stood in
their
night clothes
watching
in the cold as the flames
licked
and licked
at the wood frame,
taking
in the roof.
someone said there was
a baby
inside.
a dog. a small child.
but there was no going back
in.
the firemen
arrived in their long red
trucks
unable to get close.
they stood with their hoses
as the water
arced into the red roar,
doing little.
we didn't know
the family.
but I remember how hard
my mother cried
for the children, for
the mother.
not knowing their names.
but knowing.

let's be friends

let's be friends
she says,
without benefits, without
the quagmire
of sex
and intimacy.
let's have a conversation
and sit
by the fire,
wile the hours away
with tv,
talk about life,
and books,
things that make
us happy.
let's be friends she says,
sipping
her drink and lighting
a candle.
let's keep it this way,
so that things
won't end.

let's be friends

let's be friends
she says,
without benefits, without
the quagmire
of sex
and intimacy.
let's have a conversation
and sit
by the fire,
wile the hours away
with tv,
talk about life,
and books,
things that make
us happy.
let's be friends she says,
sipping
her drink and lighting
a candle.
let's keep it this way,
so that things
won't end.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

discontent

the woe is us
march down the street
after the election
is running
out of gas.
it's the end
of the world
they say
while sipping on a grande
vanilla skim latte.
their voices
hoarse, the feet
blistered
in their not for marching
boots
and shoes
from DSW.
they look at their phones,
take a picture,
smiling
with their home made signs.
soon they
have to go home
and feed the dog,
pick the kids up at the bus
stop.
the revolution and discontent
is slowed
by the hunger
for dinner, the rain.
what's on tv
at nine.

discontent

the woe is us
march down the street
after the election
is running
out of gas.
it's the end
of the world
they say
while sipping on a grande
vanilla skim latte.
their voices
hoarse, the feet
blistered
in their not for marching
boots
and shoes
from DSW.
they look at their phones,
take a picture,
smiling
with their home made signs.
soon they
have to go home
and feed the dog,
pick the kids up at the bus
stop.
the revolution and discontent
is slowed
by the hunger
for dinner, the rain.
what's on tv
at nine.

instant

instant
coffee, oats,
potatoes.
instant rice.
instant gratification.
love
and sex.
fast food,
fast
women, fast cars.
the speed of light,
of sound,
the bullet train.
leave the bag this side
up
and hit the button.
quick dry,
quick spin,
the ez pass, the express
line.
where are we
going in such a hurry.
tell me,
if you have
the time.

instant

instant
coffee, oats,
potatoes.
instant rice.
instant gratification.
love
and sex.
fast food,
fast
women, fast cars.
the speed of light,
of sound,
the bullet train.
leave the bag this side
up
and hit the button.
quick dry,
quick spin,
the ez pass, the express
line.
where are we
going in such a hurry.
tell me,
if you have
the time.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

a twist of wind

a scrap of paper
finds
the wind
and circles upwards,
a small
twister
gathers more.
across the concrete
playground
it spins,
slides
dips and turns.
the world
is a magical
place
at times,
when watching
these little things.

a twist of wind

a scrap of paper
finds
the wind
and circles upwards,
a small
twister
gathers more.
across the concrete
playground
it spins,
slides
dips and turns.
the world
is a magical
place
at times,
when watching
these little things.

brain food

Istanbul
I yell to the tv
as alec trebec in his smug way
shakes his
head no,
and says morocco.
what is
Pi
i stand up and yell
to the next answer,
pressing
an imaginary button
in my closed fist.
what is
prime numbers
alec says.
I hate this show
tonight. i'm
standing there in my underwear
feeling the breeze
from the balcony door.
I haven't had one
right answer
I say to my new wife betty
as we enjoy
our honeymoon
at the beach on the jersey coast.
you need to study
more, she says,
opening a can of tuna fish
for a snack.
or maybe you're just
dumb, she says.
here, have some tuna,
fish is brain food.

brain food

Istanbul
I yell to the tv
as alec trebec in his smug way
shakes his
head no,
and says morocco.
what is
Pi
i stand up and yell
to the next answer,
pressing
an imaginary button
in my closed fist.
what is
prime numbers
alec says.
I hate this show
tonight. i'm
standing there in my underwear
feeling the breeze
from the balcony door.
I haven't had one
right answer
I say to my new wife betty
as we enjoy
our honeymoon
at the beach on the jersey coast.
you need to study
more, she says,
opening a can of tuna fish
for a snack.
or maybe you're just
dumb, she says.
here, have some tuna,
fish is brain food.

the ghosts

the ghosts
are here. on the wet field.
in the huddle.
they are still
young,
these four boys.
four men.
their early deaths are
inconceivable.
you roll their
names in
your mouth,
friends you loved,
without ever
saying the word love,
as men
rarely do
towards one another.
you throw a tight spiral
to each
as the low
winter sun
rises in our eyes,
our lineless
faces.
the ghosts are here,
some days
more than others.

the ghosts

the ghosts
are here. on the wet field.
in the huddle.
they are still
young,
these four boys.
four men.
their early deaths are
inconceivable.
you roll their
names in
your mouth,
friends you loved,
without ever
saying the word love,
as men
rarely do
towards one another.
you throw a tight spiral
to each
as the low
winter sun
rises in our eyes,
our lineless
faces.
the ghosts are here,
some days
more than others.

Friday, November 11, 2016

the break up

one tire wouldn't grab
the pavement,
it kept spinning in the soft
slush, the snow,
melting ice.
i'll get out and push
I told her. so I did that.
pressing my hands
against the back bumper.
hit the gas just
a little I
yelled to her.
but she floored it throwing
a splash of cold
water onto me,
salt and sand.
feather it I yelled out,
spitting out
granules of road salt.
she lightly tapped
the pedal this time as I
rocked it then
pushed with all my might.
the car finally slipped
out of the rut
and moved forward.
she kept going. waving out
the window.
she threw out my suitcase
and I never saw her again.
timing is everything.

the break up

one tire wouldn't grab
the pavement,
it kept spinning in the soft
slush, the snow,
melting ice.
i'll get out and push
I told her. so I did that.
pressing my hands
against the back bumper.
hit the gas just
a little I
yelled to her.
but she floored it throwing
a splash of cold
water onto me,
salt and sand.
feather it I yelled out,
spitting out
granules of road salt.
she lightly tapped
the pedal this time as I
rocked it then
pushed with all my might.
the car finally slipped
out of the rut
and moved forward.
she kept going. waving out
the window.
she threw out my suitcase
and I never saw her again.
timing is everything.

election blues

the election blues
has made
her make run like a wild
raccoon.
she's sad,
bone weary. what now, she
sighs.
my girl didn't make
it.
she's done.
she's too old to try again.
it's the end of
the world, she says.
this country
is going down the drain.
i pour her another
glass of
bourbon
and pet her hand.
oh well. i tell her, who
knows
maybe he'll surprise us.
this man
with yellow hair.
i hate you she says to me,
drinking
her whiskey. it almost
seems like you don't care.
oh, but i do.
i tell her.
i just remember Nixon,
and we got through that.

election blues

the election blues
has made
her make run like a wild
raccoon.
she's sad,
bone weary. what now, she
sighs.
my girl didn't make
it.
she's done.
she's too old to try again.
it's the end of
the world, she says.
this country
is going down the drain.
i pour her another
glass of
bourbon
and pet her hand.
oh well. i tell her, who
knows
maybe he'll surprise us.
this man
with yellow hair.
i hate you she says to me,
drinking
her whiskey. it almost
seems like you don't care.
oh, but i do.
i tell her.
i just remember Nixon,
and we got through that.

bonjour

i'm French, she says.
did I tell you that.
yes.
three times
in the last hour I tell her.
yawning.
staring at the ceiling.
I was born in france
and will die
in france, she says,
jutting her chin
out.
i'm dying now I say into my
napkin.
pardon? did you say something?
non.
I was just commenting on
the escargot
that is stuck in my throat
and trying to crawl back out.
the French know
wine,
know culture and art.
we live a different
life than you
cowboy americans.
we know how to love and live.
relax and enjoy ourselves.
you work work work
and want big cars, shiny things.
we don't care
about such things.
i'm French, she says again,
sipping her red wine, gargling
it in her mouth.
these grapes were picked too soon,
she says,
spitting out the wine
into her dish of pheasant bones
and quail egg shells.
I know wine, I am French, she says.
I nod, then see a waiter
walking by.
I yell out as loud as I can.
garcon....check. sil vous plait.

bonjour

i'm French, she says.
did I tell you that.
yes.
three times
in the last hour I tell her.
yawning.
staring at the ceiling.
I was born in france
and will die
in france, she says,
jutting her chin
out.
i'm dying now I say into my
napkin.
pardon? did you say something?
non.
I was just commenting on
the escargot
that is stuck in my throat
and trying to crawl back out.
the French know
wine,
know culture and art.
we live a different
life than you
cowboy americans.
we know how to love and live.
relax and enjoy ourselves.
you work work work
and want big cars, shiny things.
we don't care
about such things.
i'm French, she says again,
sipping her red wine, gargling
it in her mouth.
these grapes were picked too soon,
she says,
spitting out the wine
into her dish of pheasant bones
and quail egg shells.
I know wine, I am French, she says.
I nod, then see a waiter
walking by.
I yell out as loud as I can.
garcon....check. sil vous plait.

this pie could save the world

i'll die with my secret
ingredients in me,
she tells me
as I shake up a can
of whipped cream.
she's setting her pie
out to cool
on the counter.
she's made
six for the holidays.
this recipe was passed
down from
my great grandmother
when she came over
from Poland.
she used to make these
pies on the ship
coming over, kept
everyone fed.
I stare at the pie
ignoring her story.
it looks like a regular
pie to me.
crust, etc.
the crust she says is
special.
the dough has to be
kneaded by hand,
the spices just right.
what?
I say. touching the top
of the orange brown
filling.
don't she says, slapping
my wrist. it's not time.
this pie could save the world,
she whispers,
if everyone had one of these pies
there would be more love
in the world.
who can fight and argue
while eating pie?
I tell you, this here is
no ordinary pie.
yeah, right, I say,
getting a small dish
and a knife out of the drawer.

this pie could save the world

i'll die with my secret
ingredients in me,
she tells me
as I shake up a can
of whipped cream.
she's setting her pie
out to cool
on the counter.
she's made
six for the holidays.
this recipe was passed
down from
my great grandmother
when she came over
from Poland.
she used to make these
pies on the ship
coming over, kept
everyone fed.
I stare at the pie
ignoring her story.
it looks like a regular
pie to me.
crust, etc.
the crust she says is
special.
the dough has to be
kneaded by hand,
the spices just right.
what?
I say. touching the top
of the orange brown
filling.
don't she says, slapping
my wrist. it's not time.
this pie could save the world,
she whispers,
if everyone had one of these pies
there would be more love
in the world.
who can fight and argue
while eating pie?
I tell you, this here is
no ordinary pie.
yeah, right, I say,
getting a small dish
and a knife out of the drawer.

before winter

a thin
bird lights upon
the window.
he looks in
at you then averts
his eyes.
flutters his wings.
you want to say something
to keep
him there,
to keep him near,
but he has things to do
before winter
sets in.
we all do.
we all do.

before winter

a thin
bird lights upon
the window.
he looks in
at you then averts
his eyes.
flutters his wings.
you want to say something
to keep
him there,
to keep him near,
but he has things to do
before winter
sets in.
we all do.
we all do.

into the fog

in the beginning she
would ask the same question
she asked
ten minutes ago.
you'd tell her that.
she'd say, I did?
yes, i'd say.
but then she'd be hurt
and want to get off
the phone.
over time you
answered, once,
twice, three times if
necessary the same questions.
you let her go into
the fog
where she was heading.
gently holding her hand,
answering what
she wanted to know,
again.

into the fog

in the beginning she
would ask the same question
she asked
ten minutes ago.
you'd tell her that.
she'd say, I did?
yes, i'd say.
but then she'd be hurt
and want to get off
the phone.
over time you
answered, once,
twice, three times if
necessary the same questions.
you let her go into
the fog
where she was heading.
gently holding her hand,
answering what
she wanted to know,
again.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

the long story

always, there is more
to the story.
more details to tell, a
better middle,
a more
exciting ending.
you've been telling it
for so long,
refining it, that it tells
itself now.
you listen to your voice,
as your tongue and lips
rattle on
with the words
you've said before.
it's your go to story,
the one
that gets a laugh, a gasp,
a roll of the eyes.
but you're tired of it.
you need
a new memory, a new story
to tell.
boredom has set in.

the long story

always, there is more
to the story.
more details to tell, a
better middle,
a more
exciting ending.
you've been telling it
for so long,
refining it, that it tells
itself now.
you listen to your voice,
as your tongue and lips
rattle on
with the words
you've said before.
it's your go to story,
the one
that gets a laugh, a gasp,
a roll of the eyes.
but you're tired of it.
you need
a new memory, a new story
to tell.
boredom has set in.

the window

the stuck window,
the one that faces the back
of the house,
the woods,
the stream,
the squared yards, fenced
in.
that window.
you get a hammer, a
crowbar
and you try to free it from
it's frame.
you just want to open
the window
once
before winter sets in
and feel the clean air,
the fall
wind, you want to lean
out and look
as far as you can see,
then close it again.

the window

the stuck window,
the one that faces the back
of the house,
the woods,
the stream,
the squared yards, fenced
in.
that window.
you get a hammer, a
crowbar
and you try to free it from
it's frame.
you just want to open
the window
once
before winter sets in
and feel the clean air,
the fall
wind, you want to lean
out and look
as far as you can see,
then close it again.

the long line

some minutes are like
hours,
days
like years.
the long line doesn't move
as you stand
there with
papers in hand,
daydreaming, wondering
what the hold up is.
someone coughs,
which makes you cough
and lean
towards fresher air.
at some point
you forget why you are there
with all these other
people.
these horrible people
and their horrible
screaming children.
you question your own
life,
your sanity,
you stare at your shoes
and see a hole
in the bottom of one of
them.

the long line

some minutes are like
hours,
days
like years.
the long line doesn't move
as you stand
there with
papers in hand,
daydreaming, wondering
what the hold up is.
someone coughs,
which makes you cough
and lean
towards fresher air.
at some point
you forget why you are there
with all these other
people.
these horrible people
and their horrible
screaming children.
you question your own
life,
your sanity,
you stare at your shoes
and see a hole
in the bottom of one of
them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a cold front moves in

she's funny
when she's drinking, the one
or two
high balls,
that tipsy giggly time
when her eyes are
bright
and gleaming, when her
hands touch your
knee,
she laughs at all
your attempts at being
funny. but then,
the third and fourth
drink
change her.
a dark cloud moves in,
a cold front
arrives with a gust of wind.
she becomes
inquisitive about
where you were last night,
last year,
who are you texting or
talking to now.
what are your intentions
with me?
she asks.
those have changed, i
say to myself,
watching closely
the dessert fork in her
hand.

a cold front moves in

she's funny
when she's drinking, the one
or two
high balls,
that tipsy giggly time
when her eyes are
bright
and gleaming, when her
hands touch your
knee,
she laughs at all
your attempts at being
funny. but then,
the third and fourth
drink
change her.
a dark cloud moves in,
a cold front
arrives with a gust of wind.
she becomes
inquisitive about
where you were last night,
last year,
who are you texting or
talking to now.
what are your intentions
with me?
she asks.
those have changed, i
say to myself,
watching closely
the dessert fork in her
hand.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

her legs

my grandmother's stockings
were
pulled up around
her fat piano legs,
calf high,
but would soon unravel
and slip
down into her snow boots.
the boots were my grandfather's
boots actually,
which he no longer wore,
seeing that he was dead
and buried
years ago, his name rarely
mentioned because of the strange
and beautiful
woman who showed up and cried
at his funeral.
the stockings
were the same color
as her legs,
a creamy flesh tone,
if your flesh was that of
a store mannequin,
except for the blue veins
that bulged out.
being small, our heads
up to her waist, we spent
a lot of time staring
at her legs beneath
her black dress,
forever in mourning,
as she shuffled about the kitchen,
kicking at us gently,
speaking in Italian,
singing, sometimes whistling.
they were muscled and thick
with knobs and splotches.
they looked like roadmaps,
relief maps
of northern Italy where
she was born
and learned to cook the meal
she was now
cooking for us.

her legs

my grandmother's stockings
were
pulled up around
her fat piano legs,
calf high,
but would soon unravel
and slip
down into her snow boots.
the boots were my grandfather's
boots actually,
which he no longer wore,
seeing that he was dead
and buried
years ago, his name rarely
mentioned because of the strange
and beautiful
woman who showed up and cried
at his funeral.
the stockings
were the same color
as her legs,
a creamy flesh tone,
if your flesh was that of
a store mannequin,
except for the blue veins
that bulged out.
being small, our heads
up to her waist, we spent
a lot of time staring
at her legs beneath
her black dress,
forever in mourning,
as she shuffled about the kitchen,
kicking at us gently,
speaking in Italian,
singing, sometimes whistling.
they were muscled and thick
with knobs and splotches.
they looked like roadmaps,
relief maps
of northern Italy where
she was born
and learned to cook the meal
she was now
cooking for us.

can you kill this chicken for me

I can eat
a lot of chicken.
fried, baked, barbequed,
sautéed or
even boiled in a stew,
but I could never actually
kill a chicken.
wring it's neck,
or chop off it's
unusually small
and pointed clucking head.
same goes for the cow,
or a rabbit.
I even feel bad about
dropping a lobster
into a pot of boiling
water,
but not as bad as I would
when killing a chicken.

can you kill this chicken for me

I can eat
a lot of chicken.
fried, baked, barbequed,
sautéed or
even boiled in a stew,
but I could never actually
kill a chicken.
wring it's neck,
or chop off it's
unusually small
and pointed clucking head.
same goes for the cow,
or a rabbit.
I even feel bad about
dropping a lobster
into a pot of boiling
water,
but not as bad as I would
when killing a chicken.

tell me a joke

your father wants to know
if you have any
new jokes.
you don't have any, but
you tell him an old one
you've told
him before. not the one
about a blonde standing on
her head, or
the dog who claps his
paws together
during a movie, or even
the one about
pie being round not
squared, instead you tell
him the one about
the priest, a sailor
and a redhead go into a
bar.
he likes longer jokes,
the older he
gets, and you like to hear
him laugh,
even if it's not funny.
it's nice of him.

tell me a joke

your father wants to know
if you have any
new jokes.
you don't have any, but
you tell him an old one
you've told
him before. not the one
about a blonde standing on
her head, or
the dog who claps his
paws together
during a movie, or even
the one about
pie being round not
squared, instead you tell
him the one about
the priest, a sailor
and a redhead go into a
bar.
he likes longer jokes,
the older he
gets, and you like to hear
him laugh,
even if it's not funny.
it's nice of him.

optimism

I feel optimistic
about the coming days, about the coming
hours, actually,
or maybe it's this high
test coffee i'm drinking
on the way to work,
or the prednisone
that I've been taking to calm
my allergy related asthmatic
symptoms.
or maybe it's the traffic,
being light,
the sun up
the air cool and calm.
or maybe i'm thinking about
the weekend
when betty might come over
in her high heels.
there is so much
to be thankful for.
I need another cup of coffee
though
to get there.

optimism

I feel optimistic
about the coming days, about the coming
hours, actually,
or maybe it's this high
test coffee i'm drinking
on the way to work,
or the prednisone
that I've been taking to calm
my allergy related asthmatic
symptoms.
or maybe it's the traffic,
being light,
the sun up
the air cool and calm.
or maybe i'm thinking about
the weekend
when betty might come over
in her high heels.
there is so much
to be thankful for.
I need another cup of coffee
though
to get there.

Monday, November 7, 2016

now i know

from the window,
elbows against the furrowed
threads of an old
sofa i'd stare out at my mother
hanging clothes on
the rope line.
a clothespin in her mouth
as she pulled
the heavy wet
shirts and pants, dresses
of her children
onto the line to dry.
sometimes she'd stop and smoke
a cigarette,
leaning against the fence,
staring into the overgrown
grass, and weeds.
I wonder now, older than she
was then,
what went through her mind,
how would her world
change,
how could this struggle
she was forever in
ever end. now I know.

now i know

from the window,
elbows against the furrowed
threads of an old
sofa i'd stare out at my mother
hanging clothes on
the rope line.
a clothespin in her mouth
as she pulled
the heavy wet
shirts and pants, dresses
of her children
onto the line to dry.
sometimes she'd stop and smoke
a cigarette,
leaning against the fence,
staring into the overgrown
grass, and weeds.
I wonder now, older than she
was then,
what went through her mind,
how would her world
change,
how could this struggle
she was forever in
ever end. now I know.