Tuesday, January 31, 2017

green hills

these hills,
these green slopes that rise,

that crest upon the clouds.
how steep they are.

how my legs get heavy,
my breath short.

i'll climb them again
today. then tomorrow,

up and up I'll go
with sweated joy,

knowing that in time
I'll climb no more.

the big top

she rode
the elephants under the big top.
she shows
me the photo
crimped and yellowed
at the edges
taken from her purse.
see, she says.
that's me.
a spangled girl
in red
saddled behind the head
of the grey beast.
her eyes sparkle.
her skin
aglow.
she blows the smoke
of her cigarette
into air,
pulls on a silver
strand of hair
and smiles,
remembering.

the numbers

the numbers
don't add up. they can't.
how can so
many days
and years
go by,
so quickly
in and out of the arms
of love.
the numbers
stun you, as you
turn
towards sleep,
content
that you are
the same age
you've always been.

her time zone

she's around the corner
but in a different time zone.
always late,
or
too early.
always
unsure of everything.
she's got jet lag
from moving so fast
from one place to another.
the wind
in her hair,
her shirt torn,
her heel broken,
her mascara running down
her face.
I have to go, she says,
after sitting
down for one minute.
what time is it?

the next great flood

the fear
the angst, the disbelief.
but things
have been worse.
it might
be time
for the next great flood.
start over
with this mess
of a world.
add soap
it up,
scrub behind the ears,
get the grime
off, swirl
it down the drain.

nothing stays the same

It was
a truck stop.
nestled between
Chinese food
and nails.
a sheet of grease on the window.
a place
where the car salesmen
would go
and gather
around eggs
and sausage, hard
toast.
count their commissions,
the change
in their pockets.
the seniors
would wander in from their
rest homes,
escaped from
their keepers,
cursing
the heavy door,
the raise
in prices.
where's moe, they'd say.
where the hell
is moe,
then settle into
a booth,
grumbling about
why nothing
stays the same.

let's drink

your instant coffee
is
weak,
as is the instant
love
you seek
on a moonless night.
a stronger
brew
is needed.
darker
with an edge,
a less
bitter with cream,
hot upon
the lips.
let's drink.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

waiting to exhale

how stark
the paintings are
in shadowed light.
simply
drawn
and brushed into being.
the paused
moments
of a woman sitting
on the edge of a bed,
a man
at the diner
with coffee, a cigarette.
the usher
against
the wall, alone
in red.
does it matter that
the painter
used his wife as his
model
in nearly every picture.
yes,
it does.
it's all you can think
about
when you view
the landscapes, the buildings,
the near
empty rooms, yellowed,
that cry lonely,

the young cleaning woman

she isn't thinking
about
what she's doing.
as she kneels
with a rag,
a bucket,
a spray and brush.
it's not about this floor.
the shine
she's putting
on it.
or the tub, or toilet,
or mirrors.
it's not about the dust
along the shelves,
the dirt
on the steps.
none of this is in her
mind.
she's elsewhere
on a field.
the earth beneath her
bare feet, warm.
the birds she knows
upon the air,
the voice
of her mother
from a window.

while nero fiddles

is it okay
if we don't protest today,
go on the march?
my feet hurt and my throat
is sore from
yelling.
sure, she says,
putting on her pink hat,
and strapping
water bottles to her waist.
you stay home
and rest.
god forbid you suffer
any as our nero fiddles
and the world burns.
okay, I tell her.
have fun.
don't forget your tear gas
mask,
and your id in case
you get arrested.
got it, she says, tying
up her boots,
putting in her mouth piece.
oh, and could you pick
me up
a sandwich from that deli,
next to the mall.
light on the mayo,
toasted, don't forget to tell
them to toast the bread.

a good tree

slowly, he took
his knife and took the long
branch
of hard wood
and sat
in the sun, on his concrete
porch
and began to whittle
it down.
stripping the bark,
the memory
of life with it,
making the wood
smaller and smaller.
it was a long life.
a good life.
a good tree.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

city nights

the chatter of teeth,
my teeth,
as the radiator
clanged cold
and hissed empty
throughout the night.
she stole
the blanket,
a thin white sheet.
wind streaked
through a crease
in the window frame,
never tight.
her cat
sat on the sill watching,
as my eyes opened
to the glare
of blue and sun
above the city.
you had to run
the hot water
for minutes to get
the cold out.

where's wendy?

let's all join hands
and sing,
someone said, reaching
for your hand.
someone had a guitar
and another person a bongo.
it was a cringe
moment in time.
who were these people.
so nice and sweet,
they baked bread
and wore beads and head
bands, long
dresses, smoked weed.
how did you get there,
sitting in a circle
on the floor of their
apartment listening
to joni Mitchell
and eating homemade
brownies?
where was wendy, the girl
you met at the pool
in her red bikini?

the malcontent

the dog was
challenged,
to put it mildly.
you could see
in his eyes
that he wasn't all
there.
he had his father's eyes.
dark
and distant.
a malcontent.
but he was your dog,
and it was too
late to sell him on e bay
or give him back
to the breeder,
his sister being
his mother
or something like that.
he had his
shots, you bought him
a collar
and bowl with his name
on it.
his leash swung on the door,
and there was his
bed,
that he was soon to
shed with his
canine teeth in
thirty seconds.

bring a cake

you will be towed
the bright yellow sheet of
paper states,
slipped into your door
in the dead of night.
if parking passes
are not properly displayed
and hanging
from your
rear view mirror by
no later than February
sixth, midnight,
you will be towed
and water boarded.
we will
put you in chains
and beat you with a rubber
hose.
stretch you out on the rack.
a low fire will be set
beneath you
and you will be slow roasted
until you beg
for forgiveness.
a valentines party will be held
in the community center
this weekend
see you there.
bring a cake, or a beverage.

on the wall

don't call me jelly bean
I tell her
as she gets up out of bed
without making
love, again.
don't call me sweetie pie,
or sugar,
or honey.
don't tell me tomorrow,
or tonight.
or soon.
don't make promises you
can't or don't
want to keep. I see
the writing
on the wall.

onward

things grow, keep growing.
changing,
dying.
the rain and air,
the movement
of the earth.
something has decided
or someone
to make
things this way.
resistance is futile.
I remember when
the bridge was built,
went up in sixty-one,
then down,
and a new one took
its place.
all in one lifetime.
loved ones come and go.
tomorrows
getting lapped
up
one by one, quickly,
faster, with or without
us.

Friday, January 27, 2017

spinach too

i ask her if she wants
to go out
and have
lettuce
for dinner. tomatoes.
celery.
carrots.
her eyes light up
with joy.
kale too, i tell
her.
excitedly,
she jumps up and down,
clapping her hands.
yes, yes, yes,
she says.
okay, i tell her.
don't faint,
which is always a concern
with her, but
there might be spinach
too, to which she
begins to weep
and hug me, bruising
her ribs against
my belt.

no news

now word comes
on her condition, on
the outcome
of the surgeon's knife.
the space gun
of modern medicine,
a wand of gamma rays
to make her right.
no word
from afar,
if her hair has fallen
out, if she has
the blues, no call,
no letter,
no postcard, no obits
in the daily
news.


discontent

too much
food on the plate.
the drink
overflows.
too many shoes to wear,
pants
to put on.
places to be
and go.
too much is the world
we live
in.
ah, but for
a better view.

finding hope

she changed her
name to hope.
divorced,
and no longer wanting
her father's name.
she
legally. went down
to the courthouse,
filed the papers
and changed it to hope.
that's who I am now,
she said. hope.
call me. hope.
then she began to cry,
wiping her tears
with her sleeve.

the sweet blue sky

the small sticky
child
on the bus
wants his mother
to buy
him more candy,
or something.
his face
is red with anger,
his harsh blue eyes
glazed
with tears.
she silently
looks down the aisle
as the kid
scratches
and claws
at the air. I look
out the window
as the bus
comes to a stop
and see a bird with
a worm
in it's beak, flying
upwards into
the sweet blue
sky.

smoke house

the ashtrays were
every where.
even in the bathroom.
my father
smoked lucky strikes,
my mother
pall malls
and grandmother
Virginia slims.
she would snap her
jaws and blow
smoke rings
at our request while
she watched and prayed
along with billy graham.
smoke filled
the house.
lighters, matches
scattered about
on the coffee table,
sinks
and nightstands.
we lived in an inferno
of cigarette
smoke.
one would have thought
coal was being
pressed
into oil in this small
brick
duplex.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

gently weeping

I can't see you anymore
she writes
in her note, left taped
to the front door.
a box of my things
is on the porch too.
three books of poetry.
a biography
of Emily Dickinson,
a toothbrush, a half
empty bottle of water,
and a guitar.
I don't own a guitar,
so she must have confused
me with other men
she was breaking up
with and left it at my house.
I love you, but not
in that special way.
the note says,
you deserve someone better
than me.
someone who loves you
equally.
but I've enjoyed our two
weeks together.
I stop reading and pick
up the guitar,
making it gently weep.
that would make a good
ending,
but I can't play the guitar
so I give it
to the mailman
who takes it gladly
and goes off strumming
while slipping
mail into the door slots.

good neighbors

the quiet neighbors
may
be from another country,
or distant
star,
a planet just like
ours.
hardly a wave,
hardly a nod or glance
occurs,
as they go
about their day,
quiet in
their ways.
not a bump against
our shared wall,
not a note of music
or word
from the television,
volume
turned so low.
even the baby
has nothing to say
or cry about.
they are good neighbors,
the kind
you've always wanted.

old man

careful not to fall,
with a new strange
ache,
you resemble
an old man going down
the stairs
in the early
morning, holding
onto the rail,
touching the wall
for balance.
you resemble your
father
as you stand
at the sink,
swallowing a pill
with water, waiting
on coffee.
waiting on the sun
to rise
and bring light
into your blurring
eyes.

matches

the heart
lags behind
the mind
and other significant
parts
as you
strike matches
and watch them
burn,
flame out
between
your fingers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

levitation

I could listen to her talk
about her
cat
for about thirty seconds,
then I began
to drift.
sometimes i'd actually
levitate,
leaving my
earthly body.
i'd float about the room,
occasionally
leaving to
go get coffee or go
to the book store.
in time i'd return,
maybe an hour later
after she'd exhausted her
story about
her cat's butt rash
and how she has to apply
ointment to it,
every morning and every
night.

lying down

oh the angst.
how the news
wraps us in fear.
what next?
the ice is melting.
the sky is falling.
woe is us.
woe is us.
there is little we
can do,
but worry to one another.
our skin covered
in ashes.
how weak
and soft we are.
afraid
of everything.
awaiting fate,
lying down.
victims
of other's ideas,
what tomorrow
might bring.

put your lips togehter and whistle

remember the shrill
whistle
of the tea pot
on the stove,
the front burner,
the knob
turned all the way
to the right
making the coils
glow.
how it held my patient
love
against the silver side.
remember how the steam
would rise into the room
and rattle
the pot,
forced out into blooms,
fog and heat together.
a wet steam telling
me that it's time,
that finally you were mine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

dog in the window

maybe getting a dog
would
cheer me up.
a nice little dog with
papers and shots,
house trained.
small and lovable.
a dog that doesn't bite
or chew
furniture, or shoes.
a small bag dog,
for those walks
along the path.
a neutered dog so that
he's not hopping on people's
legs or arms
trying to do the fandango.
one with a few tricks
already up
his sleeve.
roll over, beg, play
dead.
maybe I'll call him
skippy, or something
like that.
he'll wait for me in
the window when
I come home from work
or when i'm out gallivanting
looking for love
and affection.
he won't look at me with
sad eyes, or
make me feel guilty
for leaving him alone
all day and night.
he'll be happy,
wagging his tail
and licking me with
uncompromising love.
or
what about a plant instead,
a cactus
for the sill
that doesn't need
to be watered too often.

beef jerky

wide eyed he tells
you
a story, most of it a lie.
but the details
are
clean and clear
as he rambles on about
what happened
that night.
the suv, how it ran
a light and t-boned
his brother's car.
how he dislocated
his shoulder and was
flown to
the hospital by a chopper.
the pain,
the operation,
the needle going into
the joint.
it's a good story.
you find out
later, of course,
that he was drunk and slipped
going down
a short flight
of stairs
leaving his group
home to buy more beer
and beef jerky.

waiting for work

the well is dry.
the field bare.
the house is empty
and the phone doesn't ring,
but i'm still here
looking up
into the sky,
praying for rain,
for something,
for someone
or something
to come down
that road again.

i'm tired, she says

i'm tired
of protesting, she says.
tired of whining
everyday about what's in
the news
that isn't really news
but gossip
and mud slinging
and childish
behavior.
I can't march anymore,
my feet are tired,
my fingers ache
from posting my opinions
and photos
online
to see how many likes
i'll get.
maybe it's time to
concentrate on ourselves,
be better people.
love more. hate less.
do you hear
me, do you hear
what I'm saying.
yup. way ahead of you.

Monday, January 23, 2017

angst

you share the same earth.
the same
air, same water,
walk under
the same stars at night,
sun at day,
but what a world of difference
a humble faith makes
towards
seeing it all
from a different point
of view.

rising water

who isn't building
an ark,
storing food,
canning peaches,
sharpening
tools.
who isn't looking
up into the sky
and thinking
will it ever stop,
this rain.
this pelting of hail,
wondering
how much penance
should we do?

a matinee

a movie
would be nice today
as it rains
not just cats and dogs,
but all the animals
off noah's ark.
an early matinee, perhaps.
my hands around
a bag of popcorn
showered in salt
and butter,
a large drink and a
small bag
of sweet
candy for when the plot
slows,
the story doesn't
go in the way
I think it should go.
i'll settle into
the back row, center seat,
so I can check
my phone
see what i'm not
missing, unfolding
my legs,
stretching my feet.

the climb

waiting so long
for the downhill, the easy
slide,
the soft landing,
the quick
glide of finding
one's
purpose
and stride, in work,
in love,
in poem.
still waiting, still
climbing,
hand over hand,
heart against heart,
ink etched
on line, between line.

going home

you set your boots
at the door.
caked in mud.
you take off your wet coat.
set your umbrella
dripping
into the corner.
you're home.
finally, cold
feet against
the warm floor.
how easy it is to
welcome quiet
and a fire
when tired
from the open road.

the day you're in

as it rains,
as the wind blows.
as the grey sky
sits, unmoving,
as you bend
in the weather from
door to car,
to where you need to go,
walking,
you nod
at what is.
your years have shown
you this
before, and fondly,
you embrace
the day you're in.

desserts

i dream about
cake.
chocolate, specifically.
with
a molten lava
filling.
whipped cream spun
light
and white
upon the top, perhaps
a cherry.
then I dream
of you, with
similar desire,
and appetite,
my lips
wet as I toss
and turn
reaching for seconds,
for one more
sweet bite.

puzzled

i'm cross
with this puzzle
from Fridays post.
my eyes
burning, the late night
oil low
as I linger
on nine across,
six down.
how can I sleep without
knowing
the name
of this Aztec
town,
this medicinal vial
or person
who ran the fastest
mile?
I need white out
and a dictionary,
where's my
phone? my laptop,
but I can't cheat,
i'm so close,
so close.
not now.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

the big chair

his chair,
in front of the tv.
an ashtray stand, a dinner
tray.
his pipe,
tobacco, a lighter.
silver that made a noise
when it snapped open,
then closed.
the imprint of his weight
upon
the shredded
grey cushion.
three of us could gather
in that spot
when he
left.
sometimes one of us would
pick up
the pipe and lower our
voices,
pretend
he was still there,
saying things like get
out of the way,
I can't see the t.v. .

blue cup

a blue cup,
chipped, the porcelain
ripped
and edged
where a lip
might cut, then bleed.
I turn it
to the side
and sip.
some broken things
must be kept.
as you well know,
I can feel
it in your
hug,
your tender kiss.

entangled

the tug,
the pull back and forth
of heart
strings,
legs and arms,
entangled.
what pretzels we
have become
in this early
love affair.
salted and dry
in our
wondering.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

one from the top

all day, he rubs
and polishes the fruit.
pears
and apples. setting
them one by one
upon the pyramid he's
built.
the shine will
catch your eye. it
always does.
taking one from the top,
I choose you.

safely behind

the over the fence
gossip
and bashing
while in the yard
is over.
now it's here. fingers
typing boldly.
mean and vicious
as can
be. no compassion or
caring,
no understanding.
what lies within
seeps out
when safe and sound
behind
this screen.

good luck

how lucky
can the coin be if it's
been lost
all day,
lying there,
heads up
in the sun. the dime,
the nickel,
the sad
Lincoln penny.
but still I bend to pick
it up.
luck being
hard to come
by
in this day and age.

the lament

my wife went to the march
today
and nobody made me pancakes,
or walked the dog.
little bobby wore the same
diaper for twelve hours,
so I had to put him
in his playpen, in the basement
with the door closed.
I even had to get the mail
myself
and find my own clean
socks.
what's the world coming
to?
she came home tired
and hungry.
she didn't even want
me to kiss her.
her hair wasn't brushed
beneath the crazy hat
she had on,
and she wasn't wearing any
makeup. I hardly recognized her.
she smelled like tear gas
and communal angst.
I don't understand, she's
changed.
the honeymoon might be over.
her voice was hoarse
from screaming,
and her once soft
tender hands that used to
caress me
were calloused, bleeding
from carrying about
her wooden sign
and an extra hot
grande vanilla skim soy latte.

sunken ships

there are ships
at the bottom of the sea.
the bones
of sailors
bleached white.
the snub nose divers
of fish
blowing by with hard
fins,
stiff cold
bodies bending
in pale light.
there are ships
at the bottom of the sea.
some of them
I remember
by name, true loves,
and others
are just bones on the sand
set free.

t-bone

he tells me he was
in an accident.
t-boned, he says.
every accident he's in
is a T-bone affair.
they flew me out in
a helicopter,
strapped me in and put
a needle in my
arm for the pain.
the doctor yanked it
back into place.
but i'm home now.
on the porch, smoking.
I should be good
in a week or two.


the letter

the wet
day. the black sheen
of pavement.
the black
cat
on the porch with green
eyes.
a truck
stops, turns around
and leaves.
a letter
comes through the slot.
it hits the floor.
the stamp
was licked
yesterday.
the words written
late at night.
i'll open it later.
I already know
what it says.
i'll put it with other
ones
on the table.

hot soup

the soup needs
to be hot.
tepid
won't do.
in order to blow
and sip,
and savor
the broth we need
it hot,
hand
me your spoon,
let's boil
and devour together,
this brew.

Friday, January 20, 2017

worry

you worry too much
I tell betty.
in twenty thirty years we'll
all be dead.
so what's the point.
she tries to slap
me across the face,
but I duck.
like you never worry,
she says.
wiping latte foam
off her lips
and the tip of her nose.
everyone worries,
she says.
we live in the age of
worry.
but i'm tired of worrying,
I tell her.
it doesn't seem
to make a difference
how thing go.
it just gets you agitated
and you can't
sleep at night.
i'm worried about you,
she says,
shaking her head.
are you going to eat
that scone or not?
nah, go ahead, I tell her.
i'm watching my weight.

floss floss floss

I love my dentist.
I think she's from brazil.
big brown bean like
eyes.
perfect teeth.
a stunning smile
and calm, sweet demeanor.
I barely cry at all when
she sticks a long
bending needle into my gums
with minimal pain
and blood.
if she wasn't already married
and wasn't thirty
years younger than me
i'd ask her out
on a date.
I see her everyday,
her poster ad is on the back
of buses throughout
the city.
I can almost hear her
nagging me,
wagging her finger,
floss floss floss.
it's a happy office.
even the magazines are
up to date
and interesting.
cookbooks and science.
trivia facts. vacation spots.
I like the little purple
bag of floss
and toothpaste,
mouthwash that I get each
time I go.
the receptionists wave
and smile
brightly too.
they schedule me for
the next visit
as I write out a check
for a thousand dollars.

mint on my pillow

we found a flat spot
above
the stream to camp.
someone had a can of beans.
this someone was someone I
was once related to
by marriage.
another person took his fishing
rod and caught
a catfish.
the ground was hard
before it rained.
we built a fire.
ate the beans, threw the catfish
back into the river
unable to get the hook
our of it's teeth.
we swatted
flies.
mosquitos.
someone chased a snake
away
with a stick. many people
screamed.
we could hear the animals
outside the walls
of our thin
tent, rummaging for
food, our keys
and wallets. scratching and making
noises, as animals do.
no one sang any songs or
strummed a guitar.
thank god.
when the sky
broke open the deluge
chased them all
away as our tent slid
down
the hill to where
the creek had become
a raging river.
a line of floating tires
stopped us from drowning.
we packed up what we
could and went to the
Hilton Hotel, where
they put mints on our
pillows. never again
did we speak the words
let's go camping.

marching

the children with their
torches.
on the street, their signs
of displeasure.
marching.
shouting.
soon they will tire.
the rain
will keep them down.
the tear gas
and clubs.
the dogs. their spring
will become
fall.
they will reminisce
about the day
and four years will
pass into
another four years,
then others will be unhappy
and do the same.

in the now

nervous about nothing.
I get out
my book on living in the now.
it's a hard
book to read,
to absorb.
sometimes it's nice
to live in
the past.
remembering the good
and bad
moments that have passed
through
your life.
now is not always what it's
cracked
up to be.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

the digestive system

my doctor wants to talk
about my
digestive system, to which
I shut my
eyes, put my fingers
into my ears
and say,
la la la la.
she brings up a colonoscopy
again.
and fiber.
what's your fiber
intake
she asks, tapping her
pen
against my knee.
why isn't your knee
moving when I do that, she
asks.
I don't know, I say.
but please, stop
you're getting ink on me.
fiber?, she says, again.
I eat two
bowls of oatmeal
a day. I tell her.
I have no more room for
fiber.
one minute, or old fashioned,
she asks,
making a mark on my chart.

a come to jesus meeting

a come to jesus
meeting was needed.
so our mother gathered
all of her
seven children
into the room to have
a pow wow as she liked
to call it.
one by one she'd
give us our
orders to clean up
our rooms,
make our beds,
do the dishes, sweep,
fold,
walk the dog,
do our homework,
do as we were told.
your father won't be
living with us
anymore, she added in
at the end.
so i'm in charge now.
she slid her taped glasses
back onto her nose.
and felt the swollen
mouse under her eye.
my sister asked
her if we could sign
the cast on her arm.

still going

our teacher in the sixth
grade
would read to us
from books such as a wrinkle
in time.
she'd turn
the lights off
and tell us to put our
heads
on the desk, onto
our folded arms.
close our eyes,
she say, then open the windows
to let the spring air
blow in.
in her strong soft voice
she'd read
page after page
into our new minds,
and off we'd go.
some of us are still going.

sky writing

she can't write
or call
or text, or e mail.
her husband
is on her like
snoop dog, columbo,
Sherlock
holmes
all wrapped into one.
i saw a small plane
writing in
the sky
the other day,
blowing soft letters
in smoke, saying,
hey.
what are you doing,
i'm okay.
i think it was her.

the blue coat

i spilled
wine on your coat. dripped
gravy
onto the sleeve.
a button fell
off as i tried
to close it in the wind.
the shoulders
ripped,
too tight for me.
but it kept me warm
and dry
in the storm, here.
i'm giving it back.
thanks.

frozen in time

the frozen food
in the freezer reminds me
of years gone
by.
covered in hairy ice,
soft
mounds of what?
stiff and hard, no
give in the wrap.
meat, perhaps. cooked
or uncooked, who's to know.
why i'm waiting to throw
these things
out, I have no clue.
i'm sentimental
about the past. about
the things that are a mystery
to me.
like you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

the new building

a layered brick building
rises slowly
on the slope where horses
once ran,
where the trees bend
in the sunlight.
it's worthy
of frank Lloyd wright,
simple
and clean.
it reminds me of Falling Waters.
the lines are perfect.
I welcome
and admire this new
sublime structure,
walking by it
to watch the workers
lay bricks,
and set glass between
the pillars.
in no time it goes up.
and when I return,
one night,
I see the sign shining
in red and yellow
neon.
Chicken Out.

rebel

I kick my feet up
onto the coffee table.
no one
yells at me for doing that.
like they used
to do
when I was a kid.
I don't make my bed,
or take the trash out
on trash day.
there are days on end
when I won't
eat my peas,
or get my elbows off
the table.
I truly am in a rebellious
phase these days.
I might
even go to sleep
on the couch with the tv
still on, the door
unlocked.

ragweed betty

the blood work comes
back
from the lab
and the allergist tells me
I am
allergic to nothing on
this earth.
he shows me the list.
sheep sorrel, no,
cat dander, no.
Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky,
orchard or
timothy grass, no.
nada.
mugwort? aspergillus fumigatus?
no.
not even pigweed rough.
there are thirty seven
components on
the list.
I read the list to my
friend betty,
who sits close to me
on the couch.
I shake my head,
blowing my nose
after sneezing.
they may have missed
one.

on broadway

as we were speeding
down broadway at sixty
miles an hour
I asked a cab
driver in new York city
how many people
he ran over
and killed per day.
this made him stop eating
his kabob, look into
his mirror and laugh,
spitting
lettuce, lamb bits,
and sour cream onto his
windshield,
which he wiped with off
the sleeve of his pajamas.

she loved gum

when we made love,
she used to talk into my ear,
my good ear
about her mother,
or her cat.
sometimes she'd go off
and talk about a shoe sale
at Nordstrom.
she liked to chew gum
too and occasionally
would snap it loudly
as we continued with
our romantic interlude.
she loved gum.
flavored, orange or lemon,
sometimes blowing bubbles
very close to the end.
we were in different worlds,
maybe
we were different
species. it's hard to think
about her now,
without thinking
about gum.

wanting

I want less.
I want more.
I don't know what I want.
it's a day by day thing
at this point.
there is no five year
plan,
no gold watch waiting.
no parade.
nothing looms, nothing
is on the road
up ahead that
I can see through this
fog.
I won't say that it's all
good,
but I won't say that
it's not too bad
either.
I want less.
I want more.

Monday, January 16, 2017

she's still in china

she's still in china,
doing something.
spy things, maybe.
she's very mysterious and coy.
she says things like,
you don't know me,
or I can't tell you what
i'm doing, because
then i'd have to kill you.
I usually answer her by
saying, whatever, or
I don't really care.
to which she says, oh
really.
it goes back and forth
like this for days, texting.
like fourteen year olds,
while she's still in china.
or at least she says she's
in china.
my friend betty, said
she saw her in target last
night buying towels.
so I don't really know.
betty wouldn't lie to me,
not that she doesn't have
her own issues.

distraction

i'm easily distracted.
I see you
scratching the side of your
leg as you stretch them
high into the air,
and I want to know
what's up with that.
did a bug bite you,
a rash perhaps?
maybe I should take a look,
rub some massage oil
on it. here,
let me help you get
those yoga pants off.

some people

you think
you know people, and then
they
do something
that surprises you.
they're unusually kind
or nice.
getting you a cup of
coffee when you didn't even
ask for one. they are
almost human.
while other people,
who you
don't think are necessarily
evil
are caught going
through
your closets,
peeking under your bed,
looking
at your very very
personal things.
you never know with
people.

on hold

i'm on hold listening
to bad music,
I have the speaker on
so I can attend
to other things
while I wait my turn.
I make dinner, I make
the bed.
I make peace
with some members of my
family,
writing them
a friendly card
of apology for not
being interested in
their crazy dysfunctional
lives.
I strip a chair of old
stain, and refinish
it with a nice
matte gloss polyurethane.
the music keeps playing.
I can't go far,
my turn is coming up
soon.
very soon I hope.
mom is so busy these days.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

swimming towards you

i take my
chances with
the ocean, the waves,
sharks.
the coral reefs.
the cold brunt of salt.
I can see the wet mirage
of an island
in the south seas.
open arms.
I point myself in that direction,
and go.
arm over arm,
legs kicking.
breathing, side to side.
I've been swimming
for a long time
without you,
today is no different.

without heaven

without heaven,
what are we doing here.
taking
our shoes
off. lying in bed.
praying on beads,
one hail mary after the other.
a clue.
a whispered
voice.
a scream. something would
be nice.
i'll get up
in a little while and fix
something to eat.
turn on
the tv.
maybe the phone
will ring.

the game

tired
of the game.
it's worn me down.
chiseled
the hard stone off of me.
left me with this.
this husk
of life
that sways in the wind.
this might be how it ends.
fluttering in pieces,
stem by stem,
across
the wide field.

the stranger

stay in touch, he says.
shaking my hand before boarding his
flight. he brushes his white
hair to the side.
don't let
another year go by without
coming
to visit.
he hugs me and picks up
his bag
then disappears into
the crowd.
I wonder who he is.
who he thought I was.
I just came in for a drink,
a paper and to watch
the planes come and go.
I miss him already.

early

I listen
down the stairs, but
hear nothing.
a drip.
a dog outside.
the neighbor rising just
past the thin wall.
a car door close
and drive away.
there is no
one in the kitchen.
no one
at the stove
cracking eggs,
stirring. no crackle
of a hot pan.
no coffee brewing.
I like it this way.
I don't like
it this way.
but i'm up. i'll move
on.

a spoon of light

a spoon
of sunlight comes in.
sits
upon her leg,
sleeping.
I don't want to wake her,
not yet.
let her go on
in that other world,
where she's happy,
unafraid,
not sorry and quiet
with regret.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

from siberia

she sends me a photo
from Siberia.
she's wrapped in a bear coat,
or chinchilla, i'm not
sure, but she looks warm.
there is snow and ice
around her. narrowed bands
of light.
a small white dog or wolf
is in her arms.
I can barely see her
eyes.
blue, glazed with cold.
the tumble of her hair
is wind blown.
I look at a map of Siberia
and put my
finger on it.
I wonder why she's there.
I look at her ankles
for shackles.

she used to cry a lot

she used to cry a lot.
sometimes
it was something I did
or said,
or didn't say or didn't
do,
but mostly
it was for mysterious
reasons only she knew.
occasionally i'd question her
sympathetically, asking,
is it your mom, your dad,
your dog, your horse. work?
the election results?
no answer.
I kept a supply of Kleenex
in the car.
in the house, prepared
for stormy weather, always
on thin ice.
let's talk about it, i'd say,
as she sobbed into
her hands, her head bobbing,
bent over.
i'd rub my chin, pace
the room, offer to make her
a pot of green tea.
tell a joke or two,
which only increased
the depth of her crying.
do you want me to leave,
i'd ask, and she'd said,
no, maybe, I mean if you
want to, if you don't care
or love me, do you whatever
you want.
after awhile she ran out
of tears and would stand up,
stretch. do some sort
of yoga breathing.
she'd go into
the bathroom and splash
cold water onto her face
and reapply her make up.
she'd yell out to me, could
you open the wine please
and pour me a glass.

wolves

new homes
have risen where the wolves
were.
small castles
for small kings and queens.
they shaved the land
of trees.
flattened it
with wide black
streets.
not a trace of blood
or bone remains.
green signs, mail boxes,
sand pits
have grown
in place.
new saplings bend
in the wind.
strapped
tightly to posts.

in passing

they walk
alone, or in pairs
against
the woods, along
the lake.
dreary blue,
dreary grey,
the rain soaked day.
it's hard to lift
a head
and wave or say hello
to those who pass.
what grief
there is, what sorrow,
what reason
to be so quiet,
so alone, is unknown.

still hers

her children
have wandered away
as children
tend to do over time.
no longer
needing
the milk,
the tuck or prayer
before sleep.
the brush or comb
against
the hair.
they have
grown into themselves,
but though
far in miles
they are still hers.

she delivers

if you ask her
for something sweet.
she brings
sugar cookies
on a green plate,
and lips.
she delivers
with a wink
and a well placed
kiss.

in transition

she's in transition,
she tells me.
between love,
looking for work,
a new place to live,
carrying ashes
from the past.
I say to her, who isn't.
who isn't
stepping of the train
each day
with a bag, a sigh,
a well worn map.

watering

putting the coffee on,
staring out the kitchen window
over the sink.
the day is blue,
the sky
unlit still by any light.
annoyed at the plants
upon the sill,
bending brown
in the cold.
watering them once more
to bring them back to life.
I could use some watering.

remember whens

-i need some new memories.
tired of the old
remember whens.
some fresh
thoughts, different points
of view.
it's time to shed
the skin
of time passed and
begin again.
maybe tomorrow after
if I've flipped through
this box of photos
for the hundredth time.

Friday, January 13, 2017

squirrel stew

how could I say no
to her squirrel stew recipe.
we were in love.
mountain love.
she scribbled it
on the back of a pink
piece of paper with drawn hearts.
onions, potatoes, carrots.
celery. red wine,
preferably thunderbird,
or boones farm.
three squirrels, (check for rabies)
fileted and sautéed.
salt and pepper
to taste.
boil in a large
pot of well water,
or tap,
if well water is unavailable.
strain, stir.
add possum or deer,
if the squirrels
are slender
and rare this season.
serve with biscuits
and cider.
serves four.

relentless

the watch,
ticking away in a drawer.
with other
watches, most
unworn,
some with bands,
others
broken off.
together they talk
with
their ticking,
their quiet
chambers
making small whispered
talk.
relentless they are,
each with a different
time,
unwound, unshaken.
batteries
nearly drained,
and dry.

an apple

it's just an apple
with a worm.
there will be more apples
fallen or
picked from rows of trees
in the northwest
chill
and sun, like eden.
there is the stem,
the seed,
the crunch of apple
meat.
it's in hand.
in a bushel.
here, have one. have
one
on me, says
eve.

what comes next

the day after,
the after effects
of this
or that.
after dinner,
after breakfast
after we make love.
after we go
our separate ways.
after the rain.
there is always
an after.
after i'm over a
cold
this headache,
this heart ach4e.
after
birth,
after sleep,
after work.
after you.
after life.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

peaceful together

a line
from the forest
appears
at the counter
of the medical center.
cards in hand.
id's.
a rabbit wrapped
in a bandage,
after being bitten by
a fox.
the fox
with a cane,
hit by a car.
raccoons coughing
with the flu.
a gaggle of geese,
bills stuck
with plastic wrappers.
a deer
grazed by an arrow.
the owl
with bad vision needing
glasses.
a mouse squeaking
in his grasp.
how peaceful we all
are together
when suffering.

what friends do

her sorrow is not mine,
so it's hard
to get there, difficult
to imagine
and feel what she feels.
pretension takes hold.
empathy
to some luke warm degree.
it's a not a large
tragedy,
not a death,
or fire,
or disease. it's less
of any
of that and more of
day to day
living.
but we try, we do as friends
what friends
must do
when in need.

the waiting room

the baby crying,
beneath the blue
blanket
in the waiting room
is the only sound
we hear.
the mother
tends to him,
with a finger to his lips.
whispering
soft words.
the baby keeps crying
despite love,
despite caring,
despite everything.
we sit quietly,
staring into magazines
we have no interest in,
having
learned, unlike the baby
yet, to mute
our tears.

unleashed

the dog
in the street, running side
to side.
panicked, unleashed,
uncollared,
panting with thirst
and hunger.
how quick
we are to run
without a plan,
not knowing where we're
going,
or how to get back
again.

the lines are blurred

the lines
are blurred. as is the creek
through
the window,
the sheers, the trees
now bare with
winters breath,
the row of houses on
the ridge
are sealed
with quiet voices.
smoke
lingers and pulls
out from chimneys
on the tilt of grey tiled roofs.
there is nothing on the list
of things
to do,
but I can tell you
that at times like this,
I miss
and love you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

no cowboy

there's not a rodeo
bone
in my body.
I say no
to horses and cows,
get along little doggies.
no chaps, please,
or ten gallon hats,
or ropes,
or lariats, or lassos.
no bulls to ride,
or sheep to herd.
no campfire, no baked beans
on a tin plate,
or yodeling.
there's not a thing
I want to fetch, or fence
I want to fix
along the lower forty.
I've got no fondness
for the cowboy
world.
I don't even like their
football team.

miscues

the missing tooth,
the key
lost, a button
fallen
off, a thread pulled.
a left turn,
a coin into the grate,
a dollar
torn,
a phone called
missed, an earring,
a shoe,
an
appointment,
your birthday,
the burner on the stove
above
a boiling
pot of stew. her name,
her name,
her name,
as she stares and waits
aghast
at you.

blood pressure

she takes your arm
between hers,
says relax.
straps a Velcro band
around your bicep,
plugs a thermometer
into your mouth
then starts
the machine.
it tightens as your
legs swing
beneath you.
your mind goes
elsewhere,
to the street when
you were ten
with worn sneakers
on your feet.
the ball in the air.

out takes


I don't like
the out takes. the practice
sessions,
the bootleg
release.
it's a mish mash of
wrong
instruments and lyrics,
a different piece
altogether,
misplaced whistles and drums.
it's unnerving.
you can't even sing
to these songs.
give me
subterranean homesick
blues
straight up
after it's
been polished
to it's stinging
tune.

a single bar of soap

it's the single
bar
of soap
a white new cake
of suds
and bubbles
that sits upon the corner
of a full
tub of hot
water.
untouched
till now.
how quickly it goes.
growing
smaller
with each use.
down
the drain, where I
suppose everything
including us
will eventually
go.

Monday, January 9, 2017

we were that hungry

I can see my mother
standing on the porch, glasses
on, waving
a spoon, calling us in.
yelling out, dinner's ready.
what are we having,
i'd yell out, as if it mattered,
to which she'd reply,
get in here and wash your hands.
all of you.
it's on the table.
we'd get one more kick of the ball
in, one more throw, or
rounding of the bases chalked
in the black top street.
but she only had to yell once
and we came.
we were that hungry.

the good china

the good china
sits in a box in the basement
awaiting fine
company. royalty perhaps,
not unlike
the ex in-laws.
gold leaf
porcelain plates.
tea cups and saucers.
even a gravy boat to match.
I think about it sometimes
when
spooning mashed potatoes
and meat
loaf, green beans
onto to a flimsy paper
plate.
the jello I have bowls
for, though
heaven forbid, not the good
china.

maybe it's nothing

i'm easily bothered
lately,
on edge, distracted.
less tolerant
of the world and the people
that have filled it.
maybe
it's the weather,
the lack
of love. the lack of warm
air.
the absence of son
and dog.
maybe it's being another
year older
and less wiser.
maybe it's nothing,
nothing
that a good sleep won't
wash away
in a pleasant
wave of dreams.

full circle

it used to be a dry cleaners
called Get it White,
the store
on the corner, the brick building
with the windows and doors
caddy corner to the intersection,
a four way light.
then it was a Chinese
restaurant.
Woo Hung. they delivered
all hours
of the night.
after that it was a coffee
shop,
gourmet beans,
with home made
pastries, cakes,
Belgian waffles and buns.
then it was empty
for a long time.
a hollow dark room
with broken windows,
a cave for
pigeons,
mice,
young lovers, or wayward
bums.
today a new sign has been posted.
coming soon.
clean as a whistle
dry cleaners.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

the crystal ball

my gypsy friend
Lolita
was out on her porch
the other day smoking
a cigarette.
drinking wine.
her crystal ball was beside
her.
I could see
the crack running around the glass
globe.
steam seemed to becoming
out of it,
in ribboned bands.
what's up? I asked her.
I broke my crystal ball
she said.
dropped it on the floor
when I was spraying it with windex.
i'm out of business for awhile.
I have one on order from
Lithuania,
but amazon said it would take
a week, at least.
what bout your tarot
cards and Ouija board>
nah,
I have better results with
the ball.
the Ouija board is kind of lame
anyway.
i'm tired of looking at the lines
in peoples hands too.
I caught a terrible cold
last month.
people need to wash their
hands more, or use
that germ killing liquid.
I need to buy a jug of that and
keep it near the door.
yup, I said.
that's why I wear gloves
all the time.
good idea she says.
you're a smart cookie.

card game

a band
of cold mice
find their way into
my cupboard
seeking warmth
and food.
they are playing cards
at a small
table of hard cheese.
there is a candle
lit,
as they each nibble
at the edge
of a saltine cracker,
and sip
bourbon.
shut the door, one
says, shivering
in his grey fur,
with a scarf round
his little shoulders,
you're letting a draft
in.

each day

each day
with increasing speed
it seems that someone
who's been part of your
life
in the news, in
movies
in a band, or on
tv
has passed away.
your world
as you've known it,
on a turn table,
in black and white,
and technicolor,
is crumbling
bitter sweetly away.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

her boots

do you like my boots,
she asks,
spinning around with a drink
in her hand,
wearing only her boots.
tight black leather
that rises above her knees.
she makes herself so dizzy
that she tumbles
into the table
knocking over a vase
I bought in Italy ten
years ago
when I was flush with money.
it explodes in a cloud
of ancient dust.
it mushrooms towards the ceiling.
oops, she says.
sorry, i'll buy you another
one, okay.
target?
don't worry about it,
I tell her.
I like your boots.

pale blue

it's blue out.
the snow. a solemn crust
of white,
a half effort
by a weak storm,
lies still
with its own shade
of blue.
a blue you can live
with.
sleep on.
brush away with
a swipe of your gloved
hand.

we need to cut

it's not
butter, or milk,
or pollen, or bread.
it's not the weather.
not dust,
or mites,
bed bugs, not mold
or dead leaves,
not grass, or trees,
or bees,
or even fleas.
it's none above,
the doctor says, sticking
a fine metal tube
of light
up your nose,
it's these.
we need to cut them
out if you
ever want relief and
to be able to breathe.

brown sugar

while hammering
a bag of brown sugar
on the kitchen floor,
trying to get some
loose for my oatmeal,
I thought about you.
how hard it was to get anything
sweet out
of you too, just a few
granules on occasion
would have
helped.

loose ends

there are loose ends.
always.
a thread to be cut.
nothing tied up in a neat bow.
knotted
and done.
there is always
a small
detail to be dealt with.
some lingering
word that
needs to be said,
thing to be done.
it's hard to quit, to stop,
to move on
without the shadow
of the past
not far behind you.

catholic guilt

I feel bad about
taking the pen from the bank.
slipping it into
my pocket after filling out
my deposit slip.
I pause when I get out
to my car.
maybe I should take it back.
somebody might need
this pen.
but then
I think about how
they have my money, how
they are making money on my
money being in there.
why shouldn't I have a pen
from the bank.
not to mention their crazy
lazy hours.
the fees, and the continual
annoyance of showing
my id.
what's wrong with taking one
single pen?
I turn the car off and take
it back, setting it
on the desk, but grabbing
two lollipops before
I leave.

blue water

lying
in the c scan machine
I think
of a blue water
paradise.
the whirring sounds
are birds wings,
the red light
beyond my closed eyes
is the sun
coming out
from the clouds.
you are there too.
beside
me, drink in hand.
kiss ready.
wishing me luck.

back to back

we could talk about
it.
discuss calmly
our differences. apologize
and confess.
make
love not war,
get back on track.
or we could continue
on like this,
alone in winter,
beside you in bed,
back to
back.

Friday, January 6, 2017

being round

a curved earth
is a good earth,
nice and round.
a pleasant blue sphere
circling.
well planned
this symmetry.
no one falls off,
the gravity holding us
in place,
keeping our feet on
the ground.
we could learn much
from what's not flat,
or skewed,
oblong,
but round.

fond memories


after buying her first
grande skim vanilla soy latte
of the day
she goes to the beauty parlor
to get her nails done,
then it's off
to get a pedicure, then a
full body massage.
after that stressful morning,
she goes to yoga
to stretch and meditate.
she then has some green
tea with her girlfriends
to talk about
their husband's short
comings,
by five, I get home
and stumble through the shopping
bags that litter the living room.
I open the refrigerator
to make a cheese
sandwich.
my son, doing his homework
at the table, says hello.
dad, he whispers, be quiet,
mom has a terrible headache,
she's trying to take
a nap.

divorce advice

my father
when I called him to tell
him about
my divorce,
could only say,
and say it with self knowledge,
whatever you do now,
don't start drinking.
there are plenty of fish in the sea.
I briefly thought about
flounder, catfish, perch
and herring.
wild salmon.
I laughed.
he laughed.
then I poured just a small
amount of vodka
onto the top
of a tumbler full of ice.
just one,
I said.
just one, he said back.

exploring

it's over
for Columbus,
Magellan, Lewis and Clark,
who needs you.
there's no where left to go,
to plant a flag
and call it
home.
everything's been taken
and called dibs,
as far as
the eye can see.
even to the moon,
a flag waves still upon
the barren rocks
and sand.
each star has a name,
each planet
a billion light years
away
is made familiar
with a number.
and yet it's
strange how I don't even
know, beyond a single wall,
my neighbor.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

the daily news

I can't swallow the news
anymore,
nor chew,
or bite into its ripe
delicious
gossip.
I won't digest a single
word
of what they say,
or inhale
one scent of its cooked
and seasoned
gruel.
the kitchen is full
of one armed
chefs, all
swinging a different
knife,
stabbing madly with
a fork,
depending on how they
lean,
left or to the right.

fallen angel

when are the plow trucks coming
through,
my neighbor asks me, as the snow
falls and levels
the street with a fine
white powder. we both stand
on our porches
looking up into the sky.
my knowledge of the plowing
schedule is limited,
so I tell him I don't know.
we're supposed to get six
inches, he says, maybe more
if the winds shift down
from Canada.
perhaps, I say, lying down
in my white yard,
fanning my legs and arms
to make a fallen angel.

raising ships

they are bringing up
the ship
from the sea bottom, slowly
raising it's hull
in salted pieces.
boots and purses.
belts undone,
eyeglasses.
tea cups.
all once in the hands
of passengers
now white boned and settled
loosely
in the dark sand.
it's a graveyard of sorts,
without the dirt
or the headstone,
or church beside with which
to mourn.

it'll be fun

let's go sky diving,
she says excitedly,
rattling the newspaper
in front of me.
I stare deeply into
a black cup of coffee,
studying the ripples
before looking up at her.
it's clear who we are now.
how different.
look, we can cut out
this coupon and be in
orange county by noon.
no experience necessary,
it says. it's two for one.
I look out the window.
the sky is blue.
bluer perhaps than it's
ever been. I can't imagine
or dream it any bluer
than it is right now.
today? I say. sipping
my coffee.
yes, she says. why not?
we have nothing planned.
it'll be fun.
I thought we were going
to take a walk around
the lake, i tell her,
feed the ducks.

the first and last page

I can see the end
at the beginning.
how the plot will unfold.
how the story
will build
and rise after
the first kiss, then
plateau. I can see
the last page
with the tragic
or happy ending before
finishing the first,
but i'll still plow
through
to make sure
it is, or isn't true.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

free verse

it's not a mystery
book,
this life.
not a travel tale,
or a detective
story.
it's not
a novella, or sonnet
or a play
for the stage
or screen, it's not
a romance novel,
or pulp fiction,
it's more free verse
than anything,
with very little rhyme
or reason
that we can fathom.

the plateau

I feel no more
wise
than I did a year ago.
or smart.
I feel I've
learned nothing new
over the past
twelve months.
I eat the same food,
read the same
books over
and over again. watch
the same movies
and write the same poems.
my wardrobe is exactly
as it's always
been.
I am still attracted
to long legs
on women.
I have plateaued perhaps,
but finding
it a pleasant place
to be.

her dog

her dog came between us.
in the bed.
at the table.
in the car.
he slobbered. he barked,
he scratched
himself.
he needed to be walked
to be fed,
to be taken to the vet.
her dog came between us.
purposely so
I realize now.

the new rich

the uncle, the rich
uncle
in his long white caddy,
his spats
and wide brimmed hat.
dapper
as only one can be from
south philly.
a garage mechanic who struck
it rich.
how clean his nails
were now.
confident in a cloud of perfume.
he would pat you on the head
and slip
a five
into your palm
before he kissed your
mother,
his sister farewell
and left
again to be whoever
he thought
he had become.

their hunger

you can't have
a shark
as a friend, or a lover.
or adopt
one, making it a relative
of sorts.
there are too many
teeth to reason with,
their primitive
hunger would devour you.
look at my arm,
my leg,
my heart. I know first
hand what I speak of.

unknowing

unknowing someone
is hard.
to discover who
they really are.
the sun rises, it sets.
all seems
the same
until the day
you awaken not to the sun
but to some
other planet
orbiting your life.
your eyes are clear
as you look up,
look around.
stunned but who you've
found.

knowing

the knives
and forks,
the spoons too
all lying beside one
another waiting their
turn
to be used.
they shine
as the light hits
them
when the drawer is
pulled.
they are quiet in
their place,
without ego,
knowing their purpose,
never
yelling out
which one I should
choose.

it might clear up

it might clear up
later
she says,
turning on the overhead
light
in the kitchen. it's ten
o'clock in the morning
and we're both
in our pajamas
drinking tea and squinting
at the paper.
I saw on the news where
the sun
is supposed to come out.
I remember the sun,
I tell her.
that yellow ball of warm
light in the sky.
yes, yes. she says.
that's exactly how
I remember it too.

through the glasses darkly

the girl
at the optometrist office
says,
they look good on you.
the black
framed
clark kent glasses.
shop glasses, thick
and wide
in order to protect my
eyes from flying
pieces of metal or
wood as I make an ashtray
or a pot holder
in 7th grade
shop class.
no, I tell her. I need
something more
glamorous,
something that makes
a statement
about who I am.
ahh, she says,
I have just the pair for
you, taking out
a squared pair of spectacles
a la ben franklin,
or the lead singer in
the Kinks.
no, I tell, looking at
myself in the mirrors
that stretch along the wall,
they don't fit my face.
she nods, agreeing
that my head is more egg
shaped.
after an hour or so, she
gives up on me
and goes over to an old
lady
who knows exactly what she
wants.
I keep trying pair after
pair trying to find
the real me, finally settling
on a pair that I
once saw
Elton john wear,
with flamingos on the frames.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the lemon pie cake

my therapist, who just
bought a new car, has been
busy lately,
what with the holidays,
the divorces
the sex changes.
who isn't confused about
something.
she's nosy. too,
obsessively so,
keeps asking me all these
questions
about my childhood.
my mother,
my father, why I don't
wear any shoes,
or underwear.
it's my business what
my attire is.
I want her to wave a magic
wand
and make me happy.
content.
make me forget that
my mother forgot my birthday
when I was twelve
and bought me a lemon
pie instead of a cake.

next year

this year has been nothing
but trouble,
my friend betty tells me on
the phone.
but, I say, we are only
three days into it.
I know, I know, she says,
but i'm done with this year.
you don't know the trouble
it's been.
I can't wait for next year.
things will be different then.

good wood

some worship wood,
the grain.
the color, they tell you
what kind of wood
it is.
cherry, or pine,
oak.
something from the Brazilian
rain forest.
please, be careful
with those floors,
those cabinets,
those doors.
while others
paint right over it
and move
on with their lives.

a small hole

she spends
you save, she sees
a sale
and gets in line,
you wait
until
the shoe
has a hole in it.
she borrows,
you
lend.
a small thing,
but even
a small hole will
a sink a ship,
in the end.

Monday, January 2, 2017

one earring

the clean
closet feels good.
almost holy
as the saying goes
about cleanliness.
each shirt
on a hangar.
white and blue,
not a stripe to be found.
each black sweater folded
sleeve over sleeve,
set in a place.
each box of papers
saved, tucked neatly
away.
what's old and unused
is bagged
for the curb, your scarf,
your shoe,
one earring,
for Monday.

banana bread

he has three
stories to tell me
this morning, one is
about his brother's wife.
how she went
to the bank
and took out all their
money.
the other story,
is about who spoke
at his AA meeting yesterday.
a celebrity
newsman, now
clean and sober for years.
the third story is about
his friend's
father,
who shot himself
on new year's eve twenty
seven years ago.
I listen, say nothing.
I nod and shake my head,
then unwrap a thick
loaf of banana bread
from the foil
and offer him a piece.

cleaning windows

in the later
half of her eighth decade,
she stood
on a ladder,
leaning towards each
window.
one hand circling
with a cloth
while the other sprayed
a mist of blue
upon the glass.
the last day of the year,
no rest,
no reason to.
this made her not so much
happy,
as useful
to someone.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

the carousel

I picked a white horse.
she seemed heroic,
strong.
her black eyes gleamed
with polished paint
in the low
river of sunlight.
her mane blew in the wind,
imagined, as
carefully I mounted her
hollowed body,
I locked my
feet into the stirrups,
gripped the reins.
I yelled out, giddy up.
the man at the controls
smiled, one tooth
black gapped on his weary
face, then hit the switch.
around and around we went
as the music played.

number eleven

greetings
the letter said.
the lottery has picked your
birthday at number eleven
on the bouncing balls,
so you have been
invited
to take a physical exam
in order to serve
your country in the army.
we need to know if you are healthy
enough to die.
please come at seven a.m.
to Baltimore.
we need you. your country
needs you to help rid
the world of the red menace.
so you
are cordially
invited
to join. pack light.
food, clothing and travel
plans will be provided.
we want you, we need you,
we can't live without you.
greetings. see you soon.

darkly forward

the unkind
are many. the selfish,
the spiritless,
the disgruntled
are amassing.
whatever joy
there was has been washed
grey.
life is too hard
to be happy in.
it's easier
to put one's head down,
grumble,
pressing darkly forward,
and be this way.

we speak fondly

we speak fondly
of her in death. polishing
the chrome
on her long bumpers.
ignoring the rust and dents,
the way
she wouldn't
start on a cold morning.
we'll speak of
the radio that
doesn't work,
collecting static from
three states, no
music left in her
dashboard.
the bald tires have all been
kicked.
we'll miss her, the way
she wobbled
at all speeds,
the way the steering
wheel would veer.
we won't talk about the wrecks,
the tow trucks,
the heat that wouldn't
heat. we'll forget
all of that and talk about
the time
we road together
to the eastern shore.
we were young then,
we were singing,
we had the open
road in front of us
as we drove along in this
new car.

what's to come

the sail is up.
I've kicked the shore away.
i'm out to sea
under a white winter sun.
no motor
running,
no oars in the water.
i'm adrift,
but moving, moving
towards what's
to come.