Monday, October 23, 2017

the busy cars

there's a woman flossing
her teeth
in the car next to me
while texting.
a man on the other side
is shaving
with an electric razor,
he's talking wildly
into his speaker.
behind me,
someone is making party
animals
out of balloons while
on her phone
and breast feeding a
child. up ahead I see
a car load of women
knitting scarves for Christmas.
traffic ain't what it
used to be.

the big breakfast

they bring us too much
food.
the six of us.
the plates are heavy
with bacon
and eggs, sausage,
potatoes.
the cups over flow
with coffee and juice.
someone gets French toast.
pancakes
like pillows.
the syrup is poured.
but we're hungry.
the conversation slows.
we lather the toast
with butter
and jam,
we clink glasses and
go at it
on the cool morning
of a young autumn.

the unhappy meal

we would circle
the yellow
and red fine fast food
establishment
for another happy meal.
pulling into
the curved drive way
to yell
into the box.
the boy in the back
strapped into his space
seat was
unhappy at the last
happy meal toy.
his face frowned in tears.
that's not what he wanted.
they gave us the wrong
plastic toy.
let's try again,
the wife said. let's
try with another
order of chicken
nuggets,
small fries, and a soda.
we need to make him happy.
an omen of things
to come.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

zoom zoom

we go zoom zoom
with affection,
infatuation,
sweet nothings
and vows of love.
we are in orbit
going at unimaginable
speeds,
rocketing about
in each other's arms,
into the thin
stratosphere.
we are travelers
to a new planet.
where we'll land,
who knows. who cares.

everything in its place

there's a place
for everything and everything
in its place.
so when things
go missing, we feel
the apple
cart
has been turned.
the milk
spilled,
a button dropped, a tire
gone flat,
the keys lost.
we miss what we can't
find,
and take for granted
that which
is there.
take love for example.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

life clutter

boxes of papers
line the walls
of the closet.
a small personal Smithsonian.
old bills,
receipts, menus.
ticket stubs, tax filings.
Christmas cards.
what a fine
fire you could start
with
all that clutters up
your life, unable
to throw away
the ten year old
electric bill, poetry
your wrote,
no better than now,
when you were five.

the cold cruel world

a cold rain,
a cold shower.
a cold shoulder.
a cold
meal left on
the table.
the cold weather.
the cold
season.
the cold touch,
the cold kiss
on a cheek.
the cold
words.
cold blood.
the cold
car
that won't start.
the cold lover
who won't turn
over.
the cold cruel
world.

the online rash

I see on face book,
that one of my so called friends
has a rash.
he's taken
a photo of his leg
and posted
it on his time line.
people ask,
is it poison ivy,
or oak,
are you allergic to
something,
maybe a spider bit you,
or worse, but
whatever you do,
don't scratch.
some people like it.
others, send pictures
of their own rashes.
one woman, sends a picture
of her kid
with measles.
by the end of the day,
legs, arms and faces
are posted with red bumps
and rashes
all over them.

other's problem

the infant on the bus
won't stop
crying
no matter how much love
the mother
gives it.
no milk, no rocking
can stop
the loud screams.
everyone turns
their head and wonders
what can
be done.
each with their own
ideas,
of what's best for
the child,
but hoping the bus will
go faster and quickly
get them home.

cooking class

I want to feed her.
to cut
her meat. to boil her
potatoes.
to spin
her lettuce.
I want to season her,
dice her,
tenderize her.
I want to spread her
dough
for baking,
to drop a can of
peaches
into her pan.
I want to open the oven
and see her
rising.
to smell her spices
in the air.
I want to feed her.
then it's her turn.
it's only fair.

submarines

we are all
submarines, arriving
and floating
on the surface,
then disappearing
from each other's lives.
down we go
into the dark cold sea.
we raise
our periscopes
to view
what's above, then
move on
to other ports,
where
the palm trees sway,
the sand is
warm,
and there is a chance
at love.

Friday, October 20, 2017

in search of donna reed with a whip

when in search of,
it's hard to write a profile
telling
potential love
interests exactly who you
are, or what you want.
you take your shirt
off, flex a muscle and hold
the camera as far
away as possible
to hide your wrinkles, then
click.
you take a picture of your
car.
your kayak. your dog.
you take a photo of the large
mouth bass you just yanked
out of the bay.
you stand in the bathroom
and point the camera
at the mirror.
it's you in a bathrobe,
you in pants without a shirt.
you holding up
a beer bottle.
you tell everyone where
you've been, what you've
done.
the one time you almost jumped
out of a plane.
your one cruise to the Bahamas.
the time you zip lined
at water world.
you take a picture of
the scrambled eggs you just
cooked. yes.
you love to cook. you like
movies. you like books
and plan on buying one if you
can find a bookstore.
you write that you're looking
for someone funny.
sexy. in shape. someone with
a job and teeth.
smart too. no dumb bells
need apply. must be single, or
almost divorced with no husbands
living in the basement.
you set the bar high
for the next love of your life.
she'd be perfect, you write,
if she was donna reed
with a whip. women write back
and ask,
who's donna reed?

the impatience of love

the dog
is in the yard.
barking all day.
scratching at the door.
howling. whining.
scared,
lonely, wanting
attention.
I know the feeling.
pacing
back and forth
turning a stretch
of grass
into dirt.
waiting for her
to come home.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

pedal to the metal

at some point
the gas pedal has been hit
on time.
the years
flying by.
I put my head out
the window
and feel the wind
in my face.
I see the new world,
as the old
world spins by.
oh well.
keep driving.
let's see where this
goes. there's still
time.

the classifieds

I remember seeing
the emerald
necklace, a Christmas gift,
that I bought the ex wife
in the community
classifieds one morning.
I had saved for months
to buy it.
for sale, it read.
one hardly used elegant
necklace.
one hundred dollars or
best offer.
I cringed. below that was
a pair of men's boots.
my boots.
a dozen books.
venus and mars.
how to make a marriage last
forever.
a leather recliner with
cup holders.
free.
I never did like that chair.

the yellow snow

eggs are good for you,
no wait,
they're bad, milk too.
meat.
forget it.
but you need your protein,
how about a soy
shake to fill you up.
too much
exercise
and you're dead,
not enough and well,
you're dead there too.
sugar, no. saccharin,
no.
wash those grapes,
eat free range chickens
if you can catch them.
steer clear
of farmed fish, what do
they know?
don't eat
the yellow snow.

what lies below

it's not
what you think it is.
the tip
of the ice berg just barely
jutting out
of the cold
water.
the drama, the chaos
lies below,
hidden
from your eyes, from
the bridge.
go slow.
veer away as best
you can. stay clear
of what
could mean the end.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

stuck inside

I get stuck in a round
about for
an hour or two, circling.
no one
will let me in,
no one will let me make
the right hand
merge
to take the road out
of the city.
i'm too close to the center.
to the statue
draped in pigeons.
but it's a nice
morning, and I have coffee.
I have Pandora.
I have a book to read
when I run out
of gas.

je ne sais pas

wearing her long
black gloves
she slaps me playfully
across the cheek,
because
she is French.
she tosses her hair
back,
rolls her eyes
at my silly nature
and says my name
dismissively.
non, she says. no sugar
tonight for you.
no pastry,
no icing on the cake,
no nibbles, no bites.
nada.
but she's only kidding,
I hope.

less is more

what we need less
of
is what we cling to,
as if
that was air
and blood, water
and sustenance.
the breaking of need
and want
is hard, as is trust
and letting
go.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

careless whisper

it's just
a splinter. hardly seen
beneath
the pinked skin.
a dot of crimson
where it slid
under.
so small, and yet
the pain
is severe. not unlike
careless words
that are whispered
without
thought into an ear.

what are your intentions

the parents
are skeptical. the new girl.
the new
boy.
what happened to the last one?
still,
they embrace, shake hands,
offer tea,
offer food.
say sit. please, sit
and tell
us who you are,
what are your intentions
with our child?
is it love, or something
less?
if that's the case,
go now
and give your heart
to another.

what we fear

the dream has a middle eastern
flair to it.
sand and sun.
the silhouette
of a camel on
the horizon,
the pyramids
in view from a hotel
window.
Egyptian sheets
upon her,
her long hair brushed
wild
around brown eyes.
we embrace what we fear
and go
forward.

a different light

in time each curb,
each door
is visited, the call made,
the siren,
the knock
and then the latch
broken
through a pane
of glass.
they find us in bed,
a grim sight.
stiff armed reaching
for what.
the phone, water?
an angel's hand pulling
us upward
into a different
light.

Monday, October 16, 2017

the pearl

sometimes
you find a pearl
inside
the shell.
it startles you.
the sheen of white,
the beauty
of it nestled
inside
this hard life.
it's not luck. it's
meant to be,
what washes ashore,
towards you,
once fathoms below
in a distant
blue sea.

such little things

he can't hear,
or see very well.
or walk far.
but he's still out there,
knees
in the dirt,
planting seeds,
plowing the ground
into small rows.
with his hands he feels
for ripeness,
when things grow, he
bends to smell
the skin, the vine.
knowing
all his life,
when to pick them,
or give them another
day or week
to get ripe.
he waters me
too in short calls
on a sunday night.
such little things as
this
seems to bring him joy,
keeps him
alive.

wait for it

in darkness
you appreciate the light.
the sliver
of sun
rising yellow
in twilight, the glimmer
of hope
blushing upward.
in bitter times,
the sweetness of life
becomes even
sweeter.
you can almost taste
it on your tongue,
savoring the joy
of what's to come.
all in good time.
all in good time.
wait for it.

partly sunny

they call for sun, but
it rains.
they call for rain,
and it snows.
the radar, the weather
plane,
the satellite
orbiting the earth,
there is everything but
a window
at the weather center.
if you're here,
the meteorologist says,
pointing with a stick
to a spot on the map,
wear a jacket
and put some rocks
in your pocket, it's
gonna be windy.

the future

the gypsy
is tired. tired
of
telling the future
with mixed
results.
her crystal ball
is
fogged,
unclear.
the lines on palms
mean
nothing anymore.
she takes off her
robe,
her scarf,
her jewels, she leans
back,
rubs her hands
together
and wonders if
the end
is near.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

i can see the bridge

I can see the bridge from
my window.
how it glistens with steel
across
the blue stone river
that stretches north
and south.
a string of lights now
lit
adorn the wires.
the sails of small boats
are full of wind,
racing the sunlight home
as they plow
below the span,
the cars above, paying little
mind
to anything,
rushing, going places
they need to go.

leftovers

away for a week
you find
the bread stale,
the spoiled milk, eggs
left
on the counter,
butter softened by the sun.
lettuce
browned and apples
gone soft.
so much uneaten,
so little left to make
dinner on,
who delivers at this
hour,
where's the leftovers,
mom?

the reunion

some have lost love
in their eyes, others regret
of a road
not taken,
or one stayed on too long.
each a story
in a face,
a body, soul.
the reunion goes on into
the night,
the light
banter, the music
too soft to be heard.
the hugs and shared memories,
the graceful aging
of some,
the hard road years
of others, but
coming out whole
on the other side.
a mix of children
joined in classrooms,
eyes to books
and each other,
now men and women,
together, perhaps
one last time
for laughs, for tears.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

catch

I can
see him on the field,
a cap on his head.
his small hands
in the air waiting for the ball
I've thrown.
how quickly
he's grown.
his hands, as large
as mine
now easily catch the ball
and throws it
back.
so swift
this time is.

rinse and repeat

you find religion,
a step forward, a step back.
trouble
brings you to your knees.
then things
get better and you run wild
for awhile, rinse and repeat.
God is so patient.
so patient.

someone like them

do we marry
our parents, daughters
finding fathers,
sons
finding mothers?
are we stuck in that wheel
of family.
replacing,
filling the void,
redoing what was done
to us,
then passing it on to
our children.
can we be different,
can we break free of who
they want us to be,
or is the die cast,
the deal settled?

lend me your ear

we talked
about him for an hour.
I put
him on speaker phone
and folded laundry,
I washed
the dishes.
did some bills.
uh huh, I offered
every now and then,
speaking loudly
into the phone across
the room.
on and on he went.
he needed
just an ear
to talk to. any ear.
his work,
his girlfriends, his
divorce. sports.
I've heard it all before,
a dozen times at
least. bored silly
with his rambling,
I let him go on.
for what are friends for.

Friday, October 13, 2017

the long party

we drank all the wine.
we opened
the windows to let the air
in.
someone spoke
of the moon in the sky.
someone recited a poem
about it.
we fell into our chairs
and sighed.
someone sat at the piano
and played.
no one felt like dancing.
we were older now,
older than we'd ever
hoped to be
with more days
behind us than in front,
but still alive.

my self help books

I decide to write
a series of self help books,
mostly to
help my self, but others
can buy them and help themselves
too
if they'd like
to dole out the twenty nine
ninety five
on amazon.
walk more and eat less,
is the first book. it's
about losing weight.
there are no special diets
whatsoever, so people should
like that. it will have pictures
of people taking long walks
and eating spinach.
that's to be
followed by,
stop, don't put that donut
in your mouth.
the cover is a chocolate
glazed donut, my favorite,
with a red line through the middle.
another book i'm working on
is how to stay
married and in love forever.
but being divorced twice
already
this one might be hard
to pull off, so i'm shelving
that idea for now.
a third book I've started is
called.
stop whining and complaining.
I need this book
the most.
step one is to stop talking
for twenty four hours,
and posting crazy self absorbed
things on face book,
then notice how much
people suddenly like you more.
this could be a best seller.

enjoy your life

the billboard along
the highway, frayed
and blowing at the corners
in the wind,
shows a woman
eating an orange.
her eyes are blue,
her skin
tanned, her cheeks
full.
she is someone you'd
like to meet and share
and orange with.
the word Florida
is below her arm,
close to her breast
barely covered by a silk
blouse.
she's sitting on a crate
of oranges.
come to Florida
it says below, enjoy
your life. visit soon.
behind the billboard
is a tattered house.
a dog in the yard.
a man
hammering a nail into
his roof
to keep the rain out
that's coming just over
the dark hills.

the daily melt

I understand
the parable of the melting
of metal
down to get
to the real thing. what
matters most
within.
that of value, burning
off the dross, but I
can't say
I enjoy the process.
at what age will I be
perfect, or at least close
to being who
i'm meant to be,
never seems to be
the answer.

on break

the angels,
on break, linger at
the coffee
shop.
tucking their wings
behind them,
discussing
their day. who did
what,
who needs saving
later on.
who needs a thought
of comfort.
I see my guardian
angel
drinking a latte,
he waves,
and says hey.
no worries today,
i'll be along
in a minute.

time travel

the clock has
wings when we're together.
the hours
are minutes, the days
swim by.
we hardly
spend a moment alone
when it's time to leave,
time
to say farewell
until next time,
give
a kiss goodbye.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

is betty home

for a thin dime
I would call betty
from the phone booth
in the drug store.
i'd close
the accordion doors
and sip on a cherry
coke I bought at the counter.
I'd sit on the wooden seat,
take the folded piece of paper
that held her number
out of my pocket
and spin the dial.
i'd ask
her mother if betty
was home, if she
wasn't too busy, could
she come to the phone.
her mother would yell out,
betty, hey betty
I think it's that kid
in your class.
no, not jimmy, no,
not carl ether, the other
one. the little
fellow with the cow
lick. you know
the shy kid with
freckles. I think
he likes you.
at this point i'd hang
up the phone
and wipe the sweat off
my brow.
i'd gather myself,
put my hands on my knees
to get my legs
to stop shaking
then go read a few
comic books, trying to block
out
the disaster that
love could be.

the penguins at St. Thomas More

the nuns
never really cracked knuckles,
or whipped
us, too hard.
but like stoic penguins
they would stand
at the gate
of the chain link fence
that bordered
the black top
school yard and watch
for sins
to be committed.
God is watching you,
they'd say,
every second of every
day.
so be good, be kind,
turn the other cheek.
think
what Jesus
would do
when punched or
had his hair pulled,
or had His
lunch money stolen
that His mother Mary
gave him
to take to school.
we grumbled quietly
to ourselves,
believing that a thousand
angels would have
come to His rescue.

a loaf of bread

shoeless
and hungry. a thread bare
coat
on his back,
I hand
him a loaf of bread,
still warm
from the store's oven.
he's out there on the steps
all day,
all year.
stroking his long
beard.
what's this, he says,
looking up
with blue eyes
rimmed red. I don't
want bread. is
there nothing that
I can give
you to change things?
go away, he says.
you're making things
worse.

fixing my world

I can dream
the dead back to life.
heal wounds,
repair broken relationships
in the middle
of the night.
I can fix the world in
my sleep, but my
world only, which
seems to be the only
one that counts,
sometimes.
i'll leave the rest
for someone else.

summer's gone

the life guard
blows his whistle all
summer long.
get off the rope, no
diving off the side.
no yelling, no running.
no wrestling
in the pool. the adults
sleep on
their chairs,
the children grow restless,
splash in
the shallow end.
the water gets still
as the sun
falls. the leaves turn.
a chill sweeps
in the air.
summer is gone.
the whistle has stopped.
the lock
is on the gate.
the parents have taken
the children home.

tell me something

in the middle of the day,
she'd
come into the room
I was working in
and say
let's have a break,
is that okay?
she would sip
her tea,
push the sugar cubes
towards
me
cream? she'd say.
pouring
it into my cup.
I made cookies too.
have one.
tell me a story, she'd
say.
tell me something about
yourself
that I don't
already know.
she was nearly eighty
and I was forty.
do you think love can
last forever?
and i'd nod, sipping
my tea, taking a bite
of a cookie.
yes. I do.
me too, she'd say, me
too.
I still love the first boy
I ever kissed.

section eight

the renters have
gone wild and destroyed
the house. sketchy
people come and go
at all hours
of the night. screams
are heard,
police sirens.
they don't care
about the security
deposit. they don't care
about the leaks,
the fire,
broken locks or
windows. the peeling
paint means nothing,
as does the broken
steps,
the rotted boards.
the dogs have
eaten the carpet.
we're renters
they say spinning
around the room with
a beer
and baby in hand,
singing to the loud
radio.
we're moving on.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

end of the road

there's a new Cadillac
parked in front of the dilapidated
house at the end
of road. shutters swing free,
the storm door
is off its rusted hinges.
I ring the broken bell taped
to the door,
then knock. I go in.
the senior home
woman tells me that they
are almost out of
ensure and diapers,
tiny jars of baby food.
straws and plastic spoons.
every visit they say the same thing.
I hand her forty dollars
in cash then ask
what about the four thousand
dollars
you get each month
for her being here.
where does that go?
she doesn't eat food so you
don't have to cook for her.
she doesn't
walk around,
she doesn't use electricity
or water, or
take up much space
other than this single
bed in the smallest room
in the house with no tv,
or radio.
oh, that, the woman says.
I don't know, you have to talk
to the owner about that,
but we need Ensure.
come in i'll wake her up
and let her know you're here.
Marie she yells,
flicking the ceiling light
on and off, Marie,
your son is here.

fake book

the picture
reaches you of family having
dinner, lunch
somewhere
over the bridge, they openly
despise one
another, but for the sake
of the camera
and face book
they smile,
put their arms around
one another and say cheese.
it gets posted and liked
over and over. it's
how the world is now.
what isn't real has become
real.
let's shine that apple
and turn
it so that no one
can see the worm.

quiet neighbors

the good neighbors
are quiet neighbors
on both sides
of the walls.
the baby never cries,
there's not
a single fight,
not one dish thrown
against
the walls in anger.
not even the dog barks
in the yard out back.
they're are so polite.
never nosy,
never a word of meanness,
or gossip,
or spite.
I hardly know they're
there
whether it's a summers day,
or a winters night.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

sales men

this jive talking
salesman won't leave me alone
as I walk through the gravel lot
hoping to use the bathroom inside
the dealership.
he looks at me like a dog
looks at a pork chop in a frying pan,
licking his lips.
he wants to put me into
a new Lincoln
today. what can I do to
get you to drive this car
off the lot today,
he says, tapping the hood
of a long black car.
but I was just passing through.
he smiles, showing me his pearly whites.
tell me how I can get you into
a brand new car?
I dunno. I tell him.
my wife would kill me if
I came home with a new car.
we're not really car people
anyway.
we're walkers, bikers.
hitch hikers. we worry about
the ecology.
one of those, huh he says,
I love the whales too. Good God,
I mean what are we doing to those
baby seals? I nearly cry every time
I look at those videos.
he flicks his cigarette
into the street. do you have
a trade in? he asks. pull
it around back and we'll
have jimmy take a look see.
see what kind of deal we can
make for you.
I don't have a car, I tell him.
how old at you, if you don't
mind me asking, he says.
i'd guess 39, maybe 40 at
most, because good God you're
a handsome fellow. I
bet you can't keep the women
off of you. he winks
and puts his arm around me,
steering me into the show room.
sit over there, that's my desk.
can i get you anything, a coke,
coffee, i think one of the women
brought in some green tea? nothing?
i shake my head.
i'll be right back, I just want
to talk with my manager about the deals
we have on.
see all the balloons? yeah,
that means we're almost giving cars
away today, but it's the last
day, so let me see, be right back.
where's the bathroom I yell to him.

bad company

i used to be able to eat
more than i can now.
one sandwich is enough.
doesn't matter if it's tuna,
egg salad,
or ham.
i can barely finish that.
a bowl of cereal and i'm stuffed.
but when i was
a skinny long haired teenager
riding around with my
delinquent friends
in a dodge dart,
i could eat
and eat all night.
a foot long sub no problem,
a turkey leg
with all the trimmings,
easy.
hamburgers and fries, a
milkshake to wash it down,
bring it on. pizza with extra
mozzarella. yum.
of course
the cannabis we were smoking
may have had
something to do it.

the deadbolt

i have a bad dream
about my
ex wife and her boyfriend
carlos coming into my house
after i
die and taking everything
i own.
i wake up shaking,
in a cold sweat, my heart
beating like a rabbit's.
i look around
the room and see nothing
but shadows.
i go down stairs,
look out the peephole,
then turn the deadbolt
to lock the door.

roll me back a week doc

the plastic surgeon tells
me that he can make me look years
younger
with just a few cuts
of the knife,
some packing, some tightening.
I can uncrease
those furrows, lessen
the lines, decrease the dark
circles under your eyes.
I tell him no, but
thanks just the same.
I just need to roll
back the clock a week,
just one week.
last week was a tough one.

patience

there's a man outside
my house
looking in. I don't know him.
he's well dressed
and holding an umbrella
over his head.
it's raining.
maybe he used
to live here. or wants to live
here now.
I peek out the blinds.
he's very patient,
his hands are in his pockets,
he seems to have
all the time in the world.
he sees me looking out
and waves.
I lock the doors.
I turn off all the lights.
I lie in bed
and think about my own
life.
is there somewhere that i'd
rather be.
would I have the patience
to wait
and wait, like he's doing,
for someone else to leave.

time stops

it's a party, but no one
is in a party mood.
we sit outside in the oppressive
heat
and drink.
the colored lights are subdued
some blink,
some don't.
we stare at what's left
of a harvest moon.
time has stopped.
we take seats, making
them our own,
or lean
against the rail
above the darkened lawn.
no one eats, no one
has much to say.
we drink.
it happens.
not every party can be fun,
can be gay.

one small dog

the cops
are out there, gathered
around
a car.
there was a break in last night.
a gate
was left open
someone rattled
the door, shook the wreathe,
pressed
and pulled
trying to get in.
the cops are taking
finger prints.
things are missing from
a few cars
left unlocked.
they seem to be gentle
thieves,
careful not to break
anything
that's locked. the next
day
we set out the things
we no longer
want, the tvs, the stereos,
the shoes
and watches,
one small barking dog and hope
the thieves come back.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Gin for Christmas

my ex father in law
would hide his liquor from
his wife
under the kitchen sink,
behind the bottles
of bleach and canisters
of ajax.
bars of lava soap.
he nestled the pint
of old crow
in the moist
shadows under towels
and what not.
but his wife always
found it.
she spent the day looking
for it, knowing
it had to be somewhere,
sniffing brown whiskey
in the air he walked in.
he just needed a pop
now and then but
he was running
out of hiding places.
I may have made a mistake
when for Christmas
I bought him gin.

to run and run

the dog got loose
and died
on the road. we chased it.
we called
after it.
but it was thrilled
to be
off her chain, happy
to be free
and able to run fast
and long
through the woods,
across
the stream.
she looked back
gleefully, finally doing
what she always wanted
to do.
run and run.

almost a holiday

it's a rain day.
an almost holiday where
I plan
to get the oil changed,
to kill
that orange light
on the dashboard.
i'll visit my
mother
in her bed in the senior
hospice
facility an hour away.
i'll go hold
her hand. now bones
and veins.
stroke her white hair.
tell her things
she might like to hear
me say.
i'll shed tears,
light a candle,
then drive home
in the light rain, on
a day that's almost
a holiday.

the crowd of us

the crowd of us,
like minded friends, or
friends that are secretly
enemies
gather at the communal
table
outside the coffee shop.
we beat a dead horse
for hours, each taking a club
and giving it
another severe whack.
it's political
minded for the most part.
the big fat easy target
in the white
house.
but there is true sadness
in the eyes of
elders.
true angst, true shame
that we have reached a point
in this country
where such
a thing could take place.
exhausted, we tip our hats
and finally go home.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

try this

taste this, she says,
holding out a spoon full of
salad
dressing
that she's concocted
out of thin
air
and onions, salt
and pepper, vinegar.
garlic perhaps?
delightful, i tell her,
smiling as best i can,
but blue cheese
will be fine
for me, thank you.

surrender

my way of prayer
has changed
over the years. love
and death
have beat me down, only
to rise again.
no longer
is there fear, no
longer do i wonder what
now.
I've surrendered
this life
a long time ago.
I've given up
the self
and ask only for
His will.

what's up

the empty bed.
the quiet room, not a bone
of china
rattling
below
in the kitchen. there's
nothing on the stove.
not a sound
from the radio.
it's stone cold
silent.
not even trees are
moving outside
the window.
they too want to know
what's up.

show me what you got

all my cards
are on the table.
I've pushed everything in
to the middle,
the cash, the coins,
the gold watch.
that's my heart
too, beating on a silver
platter.
i call
and turn
them over, then
wait for you
to show me what you got.

the early morning rain

I could run for hours,
miles
I could melt inside the rain,
my feet striking
the path,
onward.
my lungs pressing out
the air
I've taken in.
the bloom of breath
before me.
my body wet,
the swing of my arms,
my legs
easily carrying me
to the end.
I could run for hours
in the early
morning rain. I still can,
but in a different
way, striking this key board
time and time
again.

the night walkers

people are out walking
under the moon light.
three days after the harvest moon.
a handful of souls,
out
strolling in large circles
around
the parking lot.
we stand and talk, we
say something about the moon,
how the clouds
move like silk across it.
we watch as these
people walk silently
in the warm October air.
we hug and say goodbye.
we carry home our food,
we think about
these people walking
alone
between the curbs,
along the empty street,
under the soft umbrella
of moonlight.

where are you now

i find what was lost,
the key to the back door,
finally.
i scratch the itch that
i couldn't reach.
i get the pillows just right
before sleep.
the dust is gone.
the floors shine.
i know where everything
is,
at least for the moment.
everything but
you.

my own advice

i tell him
that he must remove all toxic
people
from his life.
all the needy and pessimistic
souls who cling
and want him to provide
emotional and monetary
funds. the dark cloud
people, the woe is me
crowd who live like
every day is a rainy day.
get rid
of all of them. in this way,
and in this way only
can he have peace
and finally
be able to sleep at night.
but does he do that,
no?
few do.
few listen, few can let go
of those that drag
them under. i don't even
listen to my
own advice, half the time,
so why should anyone else.

i need sleep

I need sleep.
I need
a good massage.
a kiss
on the back of my neck.
I need
a hot meal.
I need the person
I love to whisper
into my
ear
and say the words
I love you.
I need sincerity.
I could use a long vacation.
I could use some new
music too.
maybe a little
Italian sports car.
I need to not hear
a car horn barking
behind while
i'm in the slow lane.
I need to lose ten
pounds of unwanted fat.
I want
a miracle to happen.
I want a vision.
I want a goal for the day.
I want to pray about something
and get an immediate response.
I want a winning lottery
ticket.
I need someone to drive
me around
to take me places
I've never been.
I want a rib eye steak
with mushrooms and gravy.
garlic mashed potatoes.
an ice cold martini, shaken,
not stirred. I want what
I don't have,
I want to give away
what I do.
I need sleep.

the war goes on

during the war
we had to turn off the lights
in case
the planes
came over to bomb us, he
says, looking up at the sky
as if the zeros might
still be up there.
I yawn.
I stretch my arms over my
head, having heard
this story a thousands times
before.
rations.
collecting aluminum cans
for the cause.
war bonds. even women had
to work, he says,
can you believe that?
there was this one time
when the japs
had us pinned down and,
and,
but he can't remember what
happened next.
instead he pulls up shirt
and shows me
where a bullet went
in then went out through
his back.
an inch lower and
you wouldn't be here buddy boy,
he says. so thank your lucky
stars hotshot.
we better get going, I tell him.
it's almost five o'clock.
god forbid we miss the sunset
special.
i'm hungry.
denny's?
of course he says,
holding out a coupon, i'll
drive. i'm not riding
in that Honda of yours.

the human touch

we don't talk
anymore. we text. we don't
see one another
for a drink or coffee.
we look at our
pictures posted on facebook.
we don't send
cards, or hand written
letters,
we can barely hold a conversation
on the phone.
we e mail or text again
and again.
we have lost our
way.
we are losing ourselves
within ourselves,
every question answered
by our phone,
every direction to somewhere
a click away.
even the funerals
are full
of nothing, videos,
a bank of screens, the music
blaring,
short of love
and warmth,
of the human touch.
we don't talk anymore,
we text.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

hear me out

we all get defensive
when accused
of something someone observes
about us,
whether friend
or foe.
you seem shallow
they might say.
or insensitive, you act
at times
like you really don't
care or truly love me.
you can be selfish
and narrow minded about
some things.
where were you on the night
of October 18th?
I become Clarence Darrow
at that point,
f. lee bailey.
I pace back and forth
across the room
with the evidence
and object loudly, throwing
my hands
into the air. I explain
as best I can what I can,
pleading with the jury,
shaking their heads,
to please hear me out.

colored lights

on a whim,
struck by the globe of
light i see in the store,
I buy it.
it's cheaply made. a
thin
white ball that when
turned on
glows blue, then red,
yellow,
orange, green
and pink.
I am a child when it
comes to color,
a bright light.
I run to it
hoping it will make
the room different,
better.

how's your day going

the mailman
tips his small grey hat
and says
my last name, then he hands
a bundle
of mail to me.
he's tall and lean,
Asian.
the leather bag is worn,
straps bending
at the shoulders of his
wet blue shirt.
he moves on.
it's a simple exchange.
no talk
about the weather,
no discussion
of kids or wife.
no, how's your day
going.
he moves on.
we all move on.

the wind

the wind
in us, is air leaving,
the exhale
and inhale
of life.
slow
breathing. the forehead
touching
one another,
the soft
blown kiss on a shoulder.
the listen
of hearts gone fast,
now slowed,
and slower still,
becoming one,
at last.

Friday, October 6, 2017

the front porch

smells like rain,
doesn't it, she says while
gently swaying
back and forth on the porch swing.
look at how
the leaves have turned
up, smell the air,
it's getting darker,
the slight breeze.
I could sit here all night,
she says,
drinking her wine,
my hand on her knee.
time could stop right here
and i'd be fine with that.
I agree.

down on the farm

maybe it was a mistake
buying
the farm
far away from town.
goats
and pigs included
and one
fat cow.
maybe I should have
thought things through,
not knowing a thing
about planting,
or harvesting,
or chickens,
not a single clue.
maybe the city life
is really who I am
I say out loud
to no one,
as I stare at the rusted
red tractor
with a strand of
hay dangling
between my lips. but I
did it for love,
I did it
for you. where's
my rake?

see you soon

it's just a cold.
a sneeze
or two. I promise it won't
get in
the way
of me,
and you.
it's just a slight
fever,
a cough, a sweat,
nothing
to concern yourself
about.
a tickle in the throat,
some aches
and pains, but
it's nothing honest.
i'm fine. don't worry,
don't fret.
see you soon.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

john and dave

I miss my two best friends,
john
and dave.
both dead now for years.
both younger than me.
we would talk on the phone
for hours
about everything,
anything that would
cross our minds, we were
like girls
in high school. no offense
to girls.
and yes I know I should
use the word women,
instead of girls,
but for this poem I choose
the word girls.
please accept my apologies
for anyone that might
be offended.
back to john and dave.
oil and water.
sweet and sour.
right and left.
two different souls, as
different as any two
men could be,
but I loved them both
and miss them
nearly every day of my
life.
i wish that I could
pick up the phone this second
and talk
to them, listen to them
breathe.

never say never

for nearly forever
i'd say, why get married again.
why
have a business contract
for an emotion
that could change at the click
of a button,
the drop of a hat.
like the weather,
love could disappear, as
could loyalty
and devotion.
however,
I was so much older then,
as Dylan would say, but
i'm younger than that now.

the boy with red hair

the boy
with red hair
in the old neighbor hood
knew
everything
there was to know about
sex.
a walking encyclopedia
of the female
anatomy.
he was fourteen,
we were ten and eleven.
he would
gather us
around in the alley
and tell us
how a woman worked.
describing each part of
a girl
in detail. the legs, the arms,
the breasts.
we were in awe.
do this, he would say,
do that,
they love when you
touch them there,
just so.
we took notes in our mind.
we couldn't
wait for the next lesson.
we couldn't
wait when it was our turn
to kiss
a girl and put our lessons
into play.
in time he went off to
Vietnam
and came back broken,
the blue eyes
had lost their shine.
he spoke little of women
anymore, but we were older
then,
and he would never
be the same, nor would we.

shedding skins

when I met her,
painted her house, hung
a flock
wallpaper
in the bathroom,
helped her throw a rug
down
in the living room,
she was
on drugs
and drinking.
pale and red eyed,
from too much vodka
and not enough sun,
her hands trembled.
there was always
a new man
in her hot tub which
bubbled
hot on the deck
out back. he would wave
to me as I worked.
she wanted out, wanted
a new skin,
a new life.
flash forward five
years later.
I see her on face book,
clear eyed
and calm,
doing self help
videos, doling out
long sessions of
sage advice.
,






the last of it

when his car broke down,
his
58 chevy,
he left it there
on the side of the road
somewhere near Atlanta,
he grabbed
his duffle bag
full of clothes
from
the trunk,
put his thumb
out. he kept going.
we got a post card
from him
in Miami, saying
little but, i'm in Miami
now.
it's hot here.
that was the last of it.

suburbs

it's a fine
house. brick and mortar.
hard woods,
a strong door and shutters.
the fence
goes around, entered
by a latched gate
to keep
the dog in, the cats.
the future kids.
just starting out,
they are,
the wedding album
still on the table.
new to this life of living
beyond the beltway,
in the woods,
where people wave and say
hey
when out and about.
the noise of the city
is far away, but strangely,
deeply,
they miss it.

be there

the wrong thing to say
is
yes, but you are so blessed,
you have
so much to be thankful
for,
don't be sad,
don't cry, when in
fact
it would be better
to listen,
to be there,
and let her be where
she needs
to be in the moment,
accept her pain
and grief and let her
work through
the darkness that she's
in.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

the clock and calendar

a job, three squares.
a shingle on the wall.
a house,
a fence a dog.
a wife
two kids, a car in
the driveway
a chicken
in the oven.
a yard full of grass.
a roof over
our heads.
just the bare necessities
and a tad more.
a clock and a calendar
keeping track
of it all,
but what about
love?

letting love have its way

adrift,
a boat idles beside
me
on my small flat raft.
the bones of trees
strapped together.
do you need help, he says.
water?
anything, could I tow
you to shore?
i'm fine, I tell him.
squinting into
the harsh light of day.
my hair is long,
my beard
grey. the sun has done
hard time
upon my face.
i'm fine, I tell him,
nothing can bother me
in this state,
I could drift for
days or years
as I grow weary and ill.
i'm fine.
I am letting love
have its way with me.

nothing changes

the lights go out.
you find a flashlight
in the hall
closet and shine it on
the room.
others are there.
they've come in from
the rain,
wind blown and with
stories
to tell.
the water rises, the roof
shakes.
we huddle
onto the floor and light
candles.
we remember
other times like these
when we were young.
nothing changes,
nothing remains the same.
the storms
keep coming.

Monday, October 2, 2017

driving all night

the black wet highway
is loud
with the windows down.
the radio off.
the wipers slapping
back and forth.
not a soul on the road.
just you,
heading south
for a while, then north,
making a u turn
where the sign
says detour.
the motel lights go by,
flashing
no vacancy, the long
wires
strung from pole
to pole are glazed in
the awful light.
you drive on. you drive
on. you don't want
the night to end.
the days are just
too hard without her.

the cautious heart

the careful heart,
the cautious heart, the timid
one,
gets
left behind.
the chance
of love is frightening,
losing
what you want
after so much, so much,
water
under the bridge
and time.

the fire fly

each fire fly
we'd catch, we'd place
inside a jar
and see how long
they'd last.
not long.
soon, they'd grow
sad
and no longer
light up and glow
the way they wanted to,
trapped.
a lesson in
not holding too tight
to those we love,
perhaps.

night songs

the play is rich
in song,
and mirth, the words
almost too fast
to catch each one
and laugh.
the lights dim
and darken,
or go bright with
each new mood
of plot. the orchestra
up high
behind the screen
plays on. you could
sit there
with the one you
love, her warm
hand in yours
and listen, and watch,
all night.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

do you play?

he loves
golf. talks about it all
the time.
tells me about his back swing,
his stroke,
his sand traps and
almost perfect holes.
he takes his bag of new
clubs out of the trunk,
still in his
cleated shoes.
poor tiger, he shakes
his head and sighs.
if only is a phrase
that comes up a lot,
if only i'd used the other
club, if
it hadn't been so windy,
or the rain had waited.
if only i'd hit
the ball more left
on the eighteenth green.
what about you, he asks.
do you play?

red wins

I put my money down
on the number five horse
in blue.
the jockey seems confident,
proud
in his silk suit upon
this gleaming horse.
he looks like a winner.
how could he not come
in first, how could he
stumble how of the starting
gate and nearly fall?
how could he not lead
the field
without a challenge
and break the tape before
the others?
off they go and red
wins.

the scratch

the record skips in
the same spot it did
thirty years ago.
on the same song, in
the same
vinyl groove.
I wait for it then
get up to move the needle.
it's like an old
friend
who hasn't changed,
that you accept for
all their scratches,
enjoying the rest
of their music.

the inside

a block
of stone to
the sculptor
means
nothing.
what's inside
matters.
it just takes time
to get to who we
really are,
to chisel away
the rough,
the useless rock
within,
then shine.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

tomorrows ink

the well
is hardly dry.
but I can hear the splash
of my bucket
in the shallow
cold below.
I pull up enough black ink
for the day.
for a week of words
to scribble, saying what
I mean,
what I don't mean,
what I really meant
to say,
but didn't.

gold rush

when panning for
gold,
much of your life, kneeling
at the altar
of sand and stream,
dipping
hands into the ice cold
water,
year after year.
how your back aches,
your heart darkens,
how your eyes grow
weary, until she comes,
and the wait
is over.

they're watching

the trash goes
out on Monday, then Thursdays.
after dark,
or in the morning.
please pick up,
after your dog, keep
that cat on a leash.
don't change the color
of your door,
or lock,
don't grow anything
that hasn't been deemed
ok
by the HOA.
they're watching,
they're on the job with
clipboards
and cameras,
perennially elected souls
with nothing to do
but this.
their eyes
are upon you,
around the clock.

what does that mean?

the often unreadable,
puzzling
poetry that graces
the bi monthly issue
of the new Yorker
worries me. saddens me.
they seem to be killing
poetry,
not honoring or giving
it to the masses.
they keep the door closed
on what poetry
can be.
doling out obscurities
that only
the academic world
appears to get.
or do they?
i'm not the most literate
person in world,
nor do I claim
to write better, but
for once, other than
an occasional billy Collins
poem, i'd like to read
something that resembles
my life
or the simple lives
of others
that I know.

Friday, September 29, 2017

the ice cream

blue in the face
and crying,
it's a sweet
cone
that the child wants.
to lick
the melting ice
cream.
that's enough to make
the child happy,
at least for
the moment.
there will be more
crying though
down the road
for other things,
knowing now how
life works.

you don't mess around

you don't mess
around
with love.
you don't grab it
by the ears
and bring it closer.
you don't squeeze
it too hard, or
shower it too much
with sweet talk
and gifts.
you don't make it what
it isn't.
you have to go easy
with a thing
called love.
let it roll across
you like a warm
blue ocean,
floating on top
with the sun in
your face,
you have to let it
carry you away
to another shore
and not worry where
you land.

fall back

the fatigue
of work, the dust of
day.
the sweat
of clothes.
the heavy shoes
that swing
as I walk.
it's dark early now
as I sit
and think
of what's ahead,
what's behind,
believing that things
will get
better,
still.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

this is the end

a line is outside
my door.
women mostly holding old letters
in one hand,
clubs in the other.
some are holding torches
over their heads.
they look tired
and mean.
some shout at the window
when I peek out.
we know you're in
there, they say.
we're coming in.
I duck down and crawl
towards the back
door, but they're out
there too. I hear them
on the roof,
chiseling at the tiles.
it wasn't supposed
to end this way.

dark bird

i'm glad that the bird
who flies
into my
living room window
is okay.
i hear the thud
against the glass,
see the shadow of
him fall.
he's outside
on the patio,
lying there still
for a moment before
getting up
and dizzily flying
away again.
is it
his own reflection
that draws him into
himself,
is there something
inside
that he wants?
or is he just tired
of being a bird
and trying to get to
the next life?

retro girl

after work
at the State Department,
home late as usual
because of traffic
and putting a pot roast into
the oven,
she wants to know
where we could score a dime
bag of weed, to which I say,
huh.
she's showered and changed
into her new peasant
dress,
a lava lamp
is lit. she's dancing around
the living room
in her sandals,
her hair braided behind her head,
a peace sign painted
on her forehead.
a black light is on
beneath a poster of jimi
and Janis
at Woodstock.
a dime bag? I say out
loud, scratching my head.
i'm not sure,
I haven't seen my friend
junebug in over forty years,
he used to
have the good stuff back
in the neighborhood.
I think he's a stock broker
now, i saw him on facebbook
the other day.
i'll send him a message,
see if he can hook us up.

at a certain age

at a certain age
people stop giving you advice.
they look
at you and see the white
hair,
the lines
on your face, the slowness
of your gait
and realize that you must
know more than they
do at
this stage of life.
which isn't true
at all, please, tell
me something I don't
already know,
if possible, i'm all
ears,
although I'm having
issues with them
as well.

hospice

her skin,
lineless despite so
many years of worry,
not a furrow,
not a grimace or squint
on her face
framed by white
hair,
the hard work of life
done.
she's at peace in some
strange way.
alive inside,
unmoved by legs.
wordless.
this is how she'll die.
alone
in a stranger's bed,
in an unknown home,
away
from all those she
loved, and loved her
in return.

falling birds

the birds scatter
at gunshot, take off on
rapid wings
into the low
grey sky.
it's killing season,
the hunters
nestled unseen
in their bunkers.
so easy to kill,
so quick to pull a
trigger to bring life
down without a thought
or care,
or need. just
sport.
we're different.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

a new skin

we shed our skin,
discard
that translucent case
we thought
so important,
let the old fall away
dry
and thin,
it slides off
us so
easily when
it's time, when
we're ready
to be whole,
and new again.

alternative means

I never
understood the phrase,
that there
is more than one way
to skin a cat.
why would anyone do such
a thing in the first
place, skin a cat?
what would these
ways be?

mixing it up

let's go jump
out of a plane, she says to me,
as I
lie in bed
reading the paper.
we need to do something
fun,
something different,
we need to shake things up
a little
in our life.
I look over the top
of the paper,
and watch her dance
on the floor in her pajamas.
she stretches her
arms out and spins in a
circle,
as if flying.
I thought we
were going to weed
the yard today, I tell her.

nothing lost

she fed us
and we grew. watered
us,
dressed us and sent
us on our way,
to church,
to school.
how quickly we needed
new shirts
and pants, dresses,
shoes.
the old ones tight,
worn,
and thread bare,
quickly grown out of.
she fed us,
kept us out of trouble
as best
she could.
there was nothing lost,
she couldn't find,
nothing
for her children she
wouldn't
try to do.

back pedal

who doesn't back pedal,
do a moon
walk
in the other direction
after saying
something you wish you
hadn't.
who isn't covering
their tracks,
zig zagging down
the road to keep
someone off your back.
we did it once,
and we'll do it again,
say something dumb,
but hopefully
not the same thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

these days are numbered

gas is cheaper
here at the shore, he says.
so is the polident,
aisle six,
next to the fiber
mix,
I follow as he pushes
the cart
dropping in a box of
this or that,
what's on sale.
Halloween candy.
boneless chops.
do you need anything, he
asks.
and i nod no.
I have everything I need
and more.
this is good enough.
this walk, this shopping,
together through
the enormous well lighted
store.
these days are
numbered.

trivial news

the friends
unfriend you. a brother
or sister too,
a distant cousin,
old loves.
do you care?
yes, but
typing words and never
seeing someone
is hardly
friendship, or
is receiving trivial
news.

blue wind

nothing you can do with
wind
at the shore.
hands in pockets, the waves
slapping madly
into one another.
the rake of gusts out
across the sick green
of sea.
not a gull in sight.
not a soul
lying, or sitting warmly
against wet sand,
the sky and mood less
light than dark. there
are better things to do
than plow forward
against such might.

Monday, September 25, 2017

a piece of chocolate

I take a small
piece of candy, cut in half.
mint,
chocolate, a sweet
tiny
morsel of something
she loved
and place it on her
lips.
her eyes open, she
mimics a smile, opens
her stiff mouth
and let's it
fall against her
tongue.
she grips my hand.
she closes her eyes
and swallows.
no words need to be said
about the sweetness
of life.

the tepid sea

the safe middle is not
where you want to be.
to paddle,
or tread water, neither
here
or there,
with no island in sight,
no direction
planned. without love.
just you, bobbing
like a dry cork
for years, going nowhere
in the tepid sea.

a new church

the church
rises in red brick along
the parkway.
the stained
glass arched,
pulling in shards
of colored lights.
Christ is hung
over the altar, below
the swoop of a sky
blue ceiling.
the sound is perfect,
the choir,
the priest as he sings.
the two altar
boys
in white beside him,
heads bowed. there are
angels and Mary,
candles blue,
and red lit on each
side.
the stations of the cross
along the pews.
it's a new
church. a new life
that rises
in red brick along
the parkway.
I go in to try again.

the game

the ball bounces
in a direction you don't see
coming. it flies
off the rim,
out of bounds.
it keeps rolling, we
chase it.
we follow it to where
it's going.
we run all day, into
night.
down the streets
and alleys.
we were young when we
started,
but now our legs are
tired, our hair
brushed with grey.
our lungs breathe heavy.
we keep after it.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

it won't be the same

the tree falls
in the middle of the night
heavy
with rain.
it tumbles with
hardly a note,
or sound.
it's been silent
nearly
all its life except
for the sweep
of leaves in wind,
the rustle of
them
dying, floating
softly
to the ground, but
now this. this quick
end.
the cool shade,
its glory of color,
this absence
is sudden and sad.
more trees will come,
but it won't
be the same.

the unknown

you forget to breathe
at times,
taking small short breaths
like how
a rabbit might.
your whiskers twitch,
your tail
shakes, your eyes
peer nervously to
the left and right.
it's not easy being
on the trail,
in the dark woods
with so many unknown
things
before you.

the cold soup

sometimes the soup
gets cold
upon the spoon,
the bread stale
against the plate,
things fall apart at
the seams.
what once was new
is old again,
what's faded
grey was once a
vibrant blue.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

one more for the road

it's the third drink
that gives you wisdom, makes
you articulate
and bold,
makes you take the floor
and say the things
you think others want to
know. it's the third drink,
that makes you
likable and giving,
ready to grab a hand
and dance.
the third drink brings out
the best in you,
it gives you
all the things you lose
when you have
that fourth.

the fever

love is a chill,
a fever,
an ache
when apart, love is
gold,
it's the sun,
the moon, the stars.
love is everything,
it's something
you don't see coming.
you know
from the start.

ah oh

we were on our honeymoon,
in back of the long
black limo
when she told
me
about another man
she loved
more than me.
but we had the tickets,
the hotel
was booked.
I still had cake my
mouth,
on my sleeve.
she was still in her
wedding dress,
and crying,
twisting at her
diamond ring
as new brides often
do.

they don't know

the babies
don't know what's coming.
what's
ahead for them
down the road,
once off
the milk, beyond
the cradle
and crib.
they just keep coming,
keep
arriving,
in pink and blue
swaddling clothes.
blue eyed and brown,
new hope
for an old world,
battered and
confused.

a busy God

although I've tried
to pray without ceasing,
it's nearly
impossible. there is too
much to do
without God's help.
i'll save him for larger
needs,
like money, or love.
sickness, that sort
of thing. a hurricane,
besides
i'm sure he's very busy
right now
with football season
underway.

conversation

it's the same
people gathered in front
of the coffee shop,
sitting in the iron chairs,
they've been coming
here for years.
I can hear them
as I sit on the edge,
reading my
paper.
they've put their phones
down,
they are engaged and
talking, sharing, not
a single laptop
on the table. they speak
of their lives,
the news.
they could sit there
all day and do this,
some do.

holding a sign

his sign is detailed
with
mishaps.
the IRS, a bad marriage,
health.
it takes a while
to read it as you sit
waiting for the light
to change.
he's well dressed
with a mustache black
and curled above his lip.
he's an unwritten
novel, this man
on the corner in
a buttoned down dress
shirt, pin striped,
and gabardine pants.

Friday, September 22, 2017

room 1201 north

it's just a room
for one night,
a queen sized bed,
a studio.
the bare
necessities.
a tv,
a fridge,
a balcony.
room service if need
be.
how large the world
is
up this high,
seeing the curve of
the earth,
the ocean
disappearing as it
does
towards another
set of eyes.

the white shells

it's a clean
white shell
I find
lingering in the sand
as the sea
washes green
upon my feet.
the inside gleams
like that of a pearl.
I place the shell
to my ear
and wait to be told
what I want
to hear.
disbelieving,
I find another,
then another.
they all say yes.

only monday

I throw a handful
of coins
into the well,
drop to my knees
and send up
a plethora of prayers.
I make
a wish on a falling
star then
make promises
I can't keep if any
are answered.
it's only Monday.

put your hands up

I hand my wallet
over to the mugger, me
being the muggee.
he's holding what looks
like a rubber gun.
is that gun real, I ask
him, it looks like it's
made of rubber.
I can see the tag on it.
in fact. I turn my head
sideways and read toys r us
on the tag.
shut up, he says, or i'll
plug you.
can I put my arms down,
I ask him.
it's been a long day job
hunting, plus
I had to take my cat
in to the vet. some sort
of rash.
he looks at me and shakes
his head.
okay, you can put one arm
down.
what's up with this wallet,
you have no cash,
one stinking credit card,
a library card.
you don't even have any
photos.
no wife, no kids?
I switch arms, raising
up the other one.
i'm sorry, I tell him,
it's been a rough couple
of years. my wife left
me for another woman.
my kid hates me, calls
me only for money. I found out
the other day, he might
not even be my kid.
that's a shame, he says.
no phone? nope, dropped
it in the sink the other
day, it's fried.
oh brother, he says, handing
me back my wallet.
he puts his rubber gun
back into his coat
then hands me a five dollar bill.
here, get yourself a burger.
you can put your arm down, he
says. but stay out of the alley,
okay.
you're a complete waste
of my time. now scram.

where are we now

going downtown
confuses me. mid town,
up town,
the edge of town.
soho
noho,
battery park.
Chinatown. is that
the empire state building,
or the Chrysler?
the west side,
or the Hudson. where
are we
now?
i'm hungry.
we shrug and keep
walking,
looking
at our maps, our
phones,
stopping every now
and then
to eat slice of ray's
original
before getting on
the subway.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

in between

there is mystery
to twilight, to a dusk
falling, or
dawn about to rise,
the absence of pure
light,
or darkness.
that in between world
of neither
day or
night.
it's a poetic
break to be,
whether things are wrong
whether
things are right.

the red wagon

whether the wagon
was red
or not, is not important.
that's not
really part of the story.
the dog
dying is.
the policeman
using one bullet to take
his life
as he lay in
the street
after being struck
by a car.
go get your mother
he said,
as a small crowd
gathered
in the morning sun,
my route
finished,
the last paper thrown
onto the last
porch.
we covered him,
and pulled
him home.

seeing the light

they cut open
your eye
to put a new lens in,
vacuum out the web
that's grown.
your head is strapped
down
so that you don't move
an inch.
you are surrounded
by masked men
and women in green.
music is playing.
you haven't eaten or drank
anything for what
seems like days,
twelve hours.
a needle is in your hand.
you're drowsy
weak as a kitten.
it's a psychedelic
trip as the lights flash
bright in colors.
in no time though,
you can see
the leaves on the tree
once again, find dimes
lying in the street.
brush lint
of her shoulder.

i have to go now

she knows my order by heart,
or at least sees
what I ordered the last
five times
on the screen
in front of her.
what, no summer rolls
tonight, she says.
no kung pao chicken?
no I tell her, i'm just
calling to say hello,
we haven't talked in quite
awhile.
how about this weather?
i'm very busy she says.
I can hear the clink
of plates and glasses
behind her.
her fingers clicking
on the keyboard.
can I take your order?
spare rib appetizer?
we have a special on combination
fried rice.
no, thank you,
nothing tonight, I tell
her.
maybe tomorrow, can
we talk then?
sure, she says.
but I have to go now.
I have another call.
when you call, you have
to order, okay?
sure, I tell her.
anything for you.

the large hand

the world
spills onto itself.
cracks
and takes under what's
in its path.
the skies move,
winds
swirl and sweep
the corks
of ships away.
tumble
what's made into
rubble.
it's a large hand,
a strange thing,
how we trust and fear
what we
and pray to
and don't understand.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

jumping beans

she makes
your feet move,
your heart
flutter,
your mouth water,
she
turns your chakras
into Mexican
jumping beans.
time goes so fast
when you're with her,
so slow when
you're apart.

be good

mark twain
suggested that be good
and be alone,
so what's up with that?
I've tried
so hard to follow
that rusted
rule, and here I am,
still waiting.

a summers day

a summers day
needs
an ice cream
cone,
a double scoop.
to sit on
a park bench
and watch the world
go by.
let the clouds
become
what clouds want
to be.
to stare
off into the sea,
where dreams
can come true.

the last page

some movies
you know the ending
before
the opening scene.
before
the first word is
spoken,
before the plot
thickens.
so you skim, and
fast forward,
turn to the last
page, the last reel,
and hope you're
wrong.

slow boat to china

the slow boat
to china is nearly full,
but they make room for me.
they pull me on board
and give
me a seat.
who asked you to leave,
they say.
who told you to hit the road
jack
and don't you come back?
oh, it's a long list
I tell them.
where should I begin?
never mind they say,
here's an oar, start
paddling.

to forget

to forget
you go to work.
you work.
you skip lunch, you skip
coffee.
you watch the sun
rise
and set.
you get lost in the weariness
of work,
letting yourself
get spent.
but it doesn't go away,
not yet.

the apple

the apple
once a red shine
in your hand, has a brown
spot,
a soft dent,
the meat has darkened,
the worm
has turned.
nothing lasts forever
despite
wanting it to.

when it's over

in passing,
she points
to your wrinkled brow,
your hands,
the limp
you carry, the white
in your
lessened hair,
she
asks you about
your health, your
age
approaching
medicare,
what beach or island
do you plan
to lie down upon
when it's over,
she says.
she isn't being cruel,
or unkind,
it's a matter of fact
small slap
against the lips of
someone who
loved her.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

early xmas

the gin
and tonic
tastes like Christmas
on ice.
the lime
cut on the edge,
the bright smell
and taste
upon my lips,
cold going down.
come here and have
a sip of me.
let's celebrate
early,
who needs a wreathe
who needs a string
of lights, a tree?

enough

the sharpest knife
in the drawer
is not you, but what you
have seems
good enough to get by.
to live the life
you live, to
the keep the shelves
full,
clothes on your back,
gas in the car,
there's enough to keep
the home fires burning,
enough to buy roses,
and dark chocolate,
a card that reads
thanks for being you.

the song

the song
keeps rattling inside
the cage
of your
tired brain.
your fingers snap,
feet
tap.
there's a beat
to it all.
there's a dance
going on
inside of you,
but you can only
sit there and gaze
out the window,
home at last.

short love

the man in the white
cowboy hat
is making love to the woman
on the dance
floor.
his hands
slide up and down her
stout
body. she doesn't mind
a bit, spinning
around so that their
bodies fit.
she throws her arms
into the air
as if she might be on
fire.
she shakes
and tosses her hair from
side to side.
he whispers in her ear,
nibbles at her neck.
the band keeps
playing.
they don't even pay
attention.
they've seen short love
before.

three meals and a bed

they are old birds
in a circle, without
wings, nodding off
to
the Jeffersons
on tv.
the big couch and chairs
holding them
like soft hands.
the dinner bell has
not rung,
lunch just over
though they don't remember
what was eaten.
there is no talking.
no movement.
the eyes
flutter towards
the screen or to the door
when the doorbell
rings.
there is little difference
between night
and day.
Christmas could be tomorrow,
or it could have
been yesterday.

the girl next door

the girl next
door has grown up.
i remember kissing her
in the shadows
of summer
under the big tree
where we couldn't be
seen.
we had no idea what
it all meant,
but our hearts
were in it as we
made promises we could
never keep.
I can still feel her
hand in mine.
smell the perfume
in her hair.
taste her lips.
I think about her
often, wondering
if she's found another
lover, another
tree, but knowing deep
inside that i'll
always be hers, and
she'll always be mine.

the three day weekend

inspired by
all the continual protests
going on in front of the white house,
you feel a little left
out.
you need a cause, something
that you
are passionate enough about
to chain your self to the white
house fence.
then it comes to you.
the three day weekend.
with three of your close
friends of like minded
intentions
you go downtown on a Friday
morning
and lightly
tie
one leg to the fence.
the others do the same.
you wave your signs
and begin to chant. we want
a three day weekend over
and over.
the other protesters laugh
and laugh, they can
hardly contain themselves,
as do the police as they
pepper spray us and haul
us away. they keep us
until Monday, so we did
accomplish what we wanted,
sort of.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

it's the little things

it's an amazing
parking space
that opens up
in the middle
of the packed city.
it's a miracle worthy
of the parting
of the Red Sea.
there it is, open
and free,
unrestricted, no
twenty minutes only,
no Sunday
through Thursday
from nine to five,
no meter, no tow away zone,
no nothing. just a clear
open space
where your car
can fit perfectly in.
you grab a box of Kleenex
to wipe your eyes
and take it.

free range

the cow
is only eating free range
grass,
corn and oats
grown without
chemicals
to make her large and fat.
its a good life,
for awhile,
the blue skies,
the endless plain
rolling green along
the hillside,
the sun
warming her
soft white hide.
she could stand there
forever
if she had a say
in it.

the one that got away

my friend jimmy
likes to tell stories
of the women
he's taken to bed.
all of them gorgeous
beyond belief,
but you never see him with
anyone,
not even on a Saturday
night.
he sits at the bar
and orders another round
and says stop me
if you've heard this one.
there was this girl, he
says,
I think her name was Gloria,
or Linda, he shakes
his head.
she had a crazy head of red
hair, and eyes
that sparkled like
blue diamonds.
I don't know why i let
her get away. she was the one.
she was the real deal,
the keeper. he talks
as if she might be a
fish on the line,
hooked,
struggling to be free,
which she may have been.

the dog trainer

the dog
paddles out into the shallow
lake.
the stick he wants
is just beyond
the pier
after a cartwheeled throw.
all four legs
below go at it, as if
running,
but afloat.
the owner stands dry
on the shore, he claps,
proud
of the lessons he's
given the dog,
sit heel, play dead,
go fetch, now here's a
little bone.

come morning

the light switch sparks,
the bulb
sputters on
then off. not a single
watt illuminates
the book i'm trying to read.
a new light might be
in order.
this lamp is done,
the wires frayed,
the connections loose,
the button
won't push anymore,
but it's okay.
the darkness
we live in
will change come
morning.

love and friendship

reality
is a cold glass of water
thrown
into your face.
it's the nail you step on.
the branch that
falls from a tree
upon you.
it's the unexpected bill,
the dog
getting hit by a car,
the storm
approaching
taking everything with it.
being misunderstood.
much of this makes life
hard,
and matter,
but love and friendship,
if true,
will never fade
or fail.

Friday, September 15, 2017

champagne love

some affection
is of the champagne
variety.
there is the pop,
the bubbles,
the fun of it all
pouring out.
the tickled pink
drink of it
going down,
but by nights end,
the bottle
has gone dry,
gone flat and what
was once
infatuation,
brimming with hope,
is now old hat.

get over it

shame about the grudges.
the animosity
that goes on.
the lingering sting of words
said,
deeds undone,
vows broken.
it's too bad about it all.
but what can one do
but reach out,
wait and wait
for them to come around,
or you.

caught in the rain

it smells like rain,
see how the leaves
have darkened
and turned up.
feel the wind, the push
of a front
moving in.
let's wait though,
let's stay a little longer,
finish our drinks
and feel
it when it begins.
let's sit here
hand in hand, then run
to car, soaked.
it'll help us, make
our love
stronger. I don't know
why or how,
but I feel that it will.

does she dream

it's hard
to see your mother lying
there,
wordless.
when was she ever without
something to say?
her glasses lost, or taken,
the white hair
still thick and pulled
behind
against a stranger's pillow.
it's difficult
to remember how she laughed
and told a story,
how she felt
your head for fever,
told you to come inside,
dinner was ready.
how a single sip of wine
made her dizzy.
and now,
still alive, barely,
she lies there with all of
life behind
her.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

keep going

trains
arrive, then leave.
we board
and ride to where
we need to go.
tomorrow is the same.
bag in hand.
the trees outside
go from green to bare
as the months
turn.
the wind blows
grey
into our hair.
we lean
and keep going, keep
riding.
what else is
there to do.

thinking about baseball

the cold shower
helps
at times,
thinking of baseball too.
from first to third,
then home plate,
but then
my mind strays
and I can't help
thinking of you.

Stella

it was a street car
named
perspire.
a lot of sweaty tired
people
were on it
coming home from work.
not a day
went by when your
back didn't stick to
your shirt.
I grew tired of jumbalaya
and catfish.
hanging vines
and swamps.
who dat,
etc.
I needed to get home
to where the water
stayed put,
didn't rise halfway
up the house any time
it rained,
to a place where I understood
the language,
where I wasn't
always yelling
for Stella to forgive me.

hanging on

I see
them hanging on
to the cliff
of love and affection,
clawing at the side
of what was,
but it's over.
nails dug
in. frantic, trying
to hold on
to the mountain,
boots struggling
to find a divot
to keep them steady.
they don't realize
that they're only
two
feet off the ground,
not a thousand.
they need to let go.
other cliffs are out
there.
other mountains
to climb
and rest upon
with easier roads,
and rest stops along
the way.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

the last piece

I nod yes.
not because I agree
but because
I don't want to argue.
i'd rather you
get your way then have
to go through that.
go ahead,
have the last piece
of cake.
we'll make more.
there's always more
until they're isn't.

that screeching sound

that screeching sound
you hear
is the caliper which is connected
to the rotar
which is connected
to the pads,
etc. everything is
sticking.
looks like it could
be anywhere between five
hundred and a thousand
to fix things.
we've got it up on the rack
right now.
of course you know
it's best to do both
brakes,
not just one. (long pause).
I hear the whir
of a power wrench,
the clink of lug nuts.
cursing.
so what do you think, bub?
should I give
Jimmy the go ahead?
what choice do I have
I say.
none, he says. making
a noise that sounds
like cha ching. do it jimmy,
he yells out into
the garage.

not like that

when he would
carve
the turkey, she'd take the automatic
knife from
his hand
and tell him
to sit down, let me do it.
so he would.
don't water
the plants like that she'd
say,
don't pour so much.
you snore
she says. i'll be in
the other room.
didn't you wear that shirt
yesterday,
here, let me find you one.
you can't go out
like that.
and now,
that's he gone, she
misses all the things he
did and visits
him weekly to weed
the grass he's under.

toll booth love

every day
she takes my money.
I hand her
a bill and wait for her
arm to
reach out with change.
we say
little, but hello.
goodbye.
we smile.
there is the metal
of my car,
the half rolled window,
the anxious next car
behind me
that keeps us from
knowing one another, from
falling
in love and living
happily ever after.
there always seems
to be something
or someone in the way.

seeing green

it smells
like jealousy. tastes
sour
and bitter
on the tongue.
it's a love gone
bad
left out
to rot in the sun.
it's green, it's a vile
potion
a dangerous
emotion. left unchecked.
it goes red
and wild with
imagination. there's
the ride by,
the phone,
the woods, the roof top
with which to spy.
once it bites
there are no shots to
cure it,
no quarantine
to keep it at bay.
only time, a new love,
or a restraining
order from a higher court
can help keep
him or her away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

nothing else to do

you nearly fall asleep
listening
to chet baker
and his trumpet.
funny valentine.
you try not to think
too much of his troubles,
his addictions,
his strange end.
you let the music
spill
between your ears,
it's almost like
listening to sin.
it's tragic blues,
the blow of the horn,
soft
and sweet.
his whispery voice
singing
melodies you could
listen to all night,
all day
if you had nothing else
to do.

the HOA

the HOA,
that coven of witches and warlocks
who meet monthly
the third Thursday,
at the mark twain elementary
are walking
the streets
with their clipboards.
one has a camera,
another
points with her long
hand
to a bush, or roof,
or color of paint
that isn't on the program.
they nail
a manifesto to your door.
we can't see the parking
permit in your car.
who said you could change
your locks.
third warning.
get that dog to stop
barking
or else. but I don't
have a dog.
it's me they hear.

the safe

she had an ear
for wall safes.
bank vaults.
pulling back her long
hair
to listen against
the thick walls
for the click click click.
with her delicate fingers
she would turn
the dials
and open up any cold
box
holding jewels,
cash,
bonds and stocks.
there was no safe she
couldn't crack, no door
or heart
she couldn't get to,
until will met,
and that was that.

the vampire years

we were vampires
in our twenties.
out all night with our
bat wings,
dressed in black.
carousing the dark
caves
of music and drink,
fluttering near
girls with bright lips
and tight clothes,
tender necks.
we wanted to
make them our own.
to bring them
home to our webbed
nests.
we were upside down
for years, not caring
about the daylight
hours,
avoiding the sun,
delaying the eventual
tomorrow when we believed
there would be
no more fun.

charity bucket

the rag tag girl
in front of the grocery
store
has a bucket,
bright yellow,
with the word Florida
taped to the side.
it's full of dollar
bills
and change.
thank you, she says.
as I drop
some money in.
I see her later
at the coffee shop
buying
a caramel macchiato
and a blueberry
scone.
she's wearing what looks
like a new dress
with new shoes
and a matching handbag.
the yellow bucket
beside her chair
says Tennessee now.

just a rumor

it's just a rumor,
a few words whispered into
my ear,
passed down
along the wire,
across the fence,
through the grapevine.
I say oh my,
really? I can't believe
that.
who would do
something like that.
and the other
person, who seems
to know everything
about everyone, says
I know. I know.
crazy isn't it?
what's wrong with these
people, she says.
I'm shocked, I say,
and then quietly
promise myself
to never tell her anything.

Monday, September 11, 2017

friday night

there is dust
on my shoulders from
the long week. I shake out
my hat
and sit down
in the kitchen chair.
the walls are yellow.
the calendar is a month
slow on the fridge.
I see myself in
the toaster as I bend
to take off
my boots. i could use
a shave, a newer face.
I turn on the radio,
grab a beer
and a cold half sandwich
still on a plate.
a song comes on,
just my imagination by
the temptations, I begin
to dance in my socks across
the linoleum
floor. I spin,
take a sip of beer, go
low, rise and spin again.
I can still dance.
I still have it even after
all these years.

quiet desperation

who isn't brilliant
to some degree.
whether the stock boy
in the store,
the man
directing
traffic,
the stripper on stage
wearing
nothing
but shoes.
the cook, the salesman
with his bag
of goods
going door to door.
there is still something
inside
everyone
that may be never be
known or seen.
they are Picassos
and mozarts,
singers and poets,
people living their lives
in quiet desperation,
while inside
they dream.

three cats

three cats.
not real cats, but hipster
cats
are on the corner
of king
and
union playing songs.
one
with a bass, another
a sax,
the third
beating on a drum.
three hats collect
the coins
and cash.
they nod and smile
with each donation.
how good to be young
and carefree,
to do
such things as that.

zoo girl

when I hear
a radiator clunk in the dead
of winter.
bang and sing its strange
old pipe
song, I think of her.
the steam and rattle of her.
zoo girl
in her ancient digs,
the monkeys across the street
swinging
in their cages.
the pandas
tucked in a cave.
seals being seals.
I wonder about the zoo
bar below her,
the Dixie land band,
the stragglers
coming in
in the dead of night for
one last round,
one last chance at love
before dawn.

pure and true

the best
shot is the one taken
without thinking,
the clean swish
without rim.
the arrow from a bow
striking center, red.
the best spiral of a ball
when leaving
your hand
in laser precision is
the throw
without thought,
landing in open hands,
without measure or push.
it's a natural
thing.
so are the words spoken
when from the heart,
they too flow
most pure
and true.

burning bridges

behind him
are bridges burning.
he throws
down
match after match
on the spill
of gasoline.
it's better this way
to move
forever forward,
escaping the past,
never
having to deal with
what has
been.

go slow

it's the slow
food,
the slow drink,
the slow
rise
from sleep, the slow
and easy
love
at night
that takes hold,
puts
you on the right
path.
little remains
of anything else
that happens
fast.

go as two

you don't know until
you set
sail
if the earth is flat
or round.
if what lies
beyond your sight
is real.
you don't find what
you're looking
for
by staying put,
staying home,
never thinking
beyond
what you've been told.
but it's better to
go as two,
if you go at all,
and not alone.

a higher power

I lie
down in the bed
I've made.
harvest
the field of seed
I've planted.
I have no one
to blame
or praise
but me for what
rises
from the ground,
or what
dream appear
with or without
sleep.
I don't really believe
any of that.
there is a higher
power.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

the best part

i don't see an end.
but maybe
she does.
maybe she knows what i
don't know.
women are like that.
so far
advanced
and evolved than we
are.
i don't see an end,
or a middle.
i see the start.
where the flowers are fresh
and full
in the vase.
i always see the start,
the best
part.