Tuesday, February 28, 2017

gratitude

the dirt
under my nails is no reflection
on
godliness.
the paint,
the debris, the spotted
shirts
and dungarees.
the dust in my hair.
all
just signs of a long
day,
a long day
where work is akin
to being
on one's knees
whispering gratitude
in prayer.

one plant

I give up too easily
on plants.
of the three once
on the sill,
only one remains.
pitiful
in the shallow
pot of dirt,
three leaves gone
brown,
the others tilted
optimistically
to the window
for sun, to be away
from me,
and into the cool
wet ground.

the honeymoon

her tea brown
eyes,
weak now,
a thin broth of vision,
blinking
with
questions, confusion.
they were bright once,
alive
with young wonder.
here,
look at this picture
of her in
san diego
wearing a wide brimmed
sombrero,
sitting round
on her curled black hair.
she was happy then,
perhaps,
at least for that one
snap of a lens
capturing her in the California
sunshine.
before children,
a wedding ring,
stiff and gold,
newly
awkward on her finger.

Monday, February 27, 2017

your own bad self

there was something in
his eyes.
those black deep eyes.
you could tell he wasn't right.
too much
inbreeding.
too much blood
passed down along the line.
how easily
he could destroy
a house.
a shoe,
a chair leg. biting
a can in half
was a pleasure for him.
barking at the television
was non stop.
there was no walking him.
walking
a fish
would have been easier,
a straighter line.
and yet, and yet, despite
everything.
despite the four hundred
dollars
monthly vet bill after he
would eat a dead
bird, or mouse,
you still found a way to
love him.
which gave you hope
for your own bad self.

don't wait up

it's obvious
that you don't love me.
I see it written all over
your face,
I smell it in the burnt toast,
the uncooked eggs
on my plate.
the soggy bacon.
I see this lack of love
in the laundry pile
in the hallway.
the unlocked door.
the way the mail
falls through the slot
and is left
stacked upon the floor.
I hear it in your whispers
when you're on the phone
in the other room,
taking
the call where I can't hear
you.
it's obvious what's
going on here,
and even more so
when you tell me
not to wait up,
that you'll be home
late tonight, if at all.

i'm not that bad

it's no fun being
on the chain gang, but
here I am
in my orange jump suit
in a long
line
of other miscreants
swinging
blades
and rakes to clear
the road.
why is there so much
trash
out here, what's
wrong with people?
throwing out their
wrappers and cups,
cigarette butts,
bottles and cans.
even diapers. who throws
a diaper out the window?
sure, I've done bad
things in my life to put
me here, behind bars.
but i'd never ever
throw a diaper out
a car window.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

the theory of women

the book is over due
by nearly
forty years,
I can't find my library card.
is the library still there
and if it is,
I wonder what I owe.
do they miss
this book on
female anatomy?
on understanding how
a woman thinks?
why they are so different
than us men.
their intuition and soft
side.
the nesting,
why they take so long
in the bathroom,
all of that.
I've skimmed a few
chapters, but
I still haven't read it
thoroughly.
I do admit though to have
looked at the pictures
many times,
and earmarked a few
select pages.

the skipping lp

i can remember the scratch
on the vinyl
of each forty five,
each lp
i'd ever placed upon
the turntable,
i knew when to get up
and lift the needle to end
the skipping.
i knew at what point
on the exact note,
the exact word sung
that the record would not
move forward.
i can still hear
the click click click
when i hear the songs now.
i had time then to
get up, to do such
things, unbothered.
it's a fond
memory.

guess my scar

she lifts up the hem
of her skirt
and points to a thin
line, a scar,
soft and pink,
like a skinny worm
upon her thigh.
see that she says?
yes, I say,
shark bite?
no she says, but
guess.
knife fight. no.
caught on a rusty bed spring?
no, she says, horrified.
ummm. I give up,
I've got nothing,
I tell her and drink
my drink.
my mind wanders to
the sea.
to a raft, floating
out along the wide
blue.
i'm alone, except for
the sharks
circling with fins
above the surface.
they wait patiently.
I don't have
that kind of patience.
well? she says.
well what, I say back.

not meant to be

circling circling,
not a spot to be found.
not a single slot upon
the crowded road
to park this car and get
out.
everyone is here.
no one is leaving.
with my blinker on, I
go around again,
and again.
farther out, then even
farther. I say a prayer
to the parking gods,
still nothing. some
things are not meant
to be.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

the bean

you could live
without coffee,
you tell your barista
as he stands behind
the whirring machine
with a cloud of steam
in his face.
sure
your life
would be diminished
and sad,
and mournful, but you
can see continuing on
without the bean.
without coming in here
to be told
to have a good day, or
a good one.
it would be a terrible hardship.
but maybe you could do it.
however for the moment
can you throw in an extra
shot, and double
cup it for me.

the three of them

it was a toss up
as to who was more evil,
between her sister and her.
you had to watch out for both
of them.
not to mention
her mother,
who was on to you from
the jump.
they knew how to kill
a man
with one finger, one word,
one long wet kiss.
it was a long journey
through the jungle,
hacking at the brush,
to escape them all.

milk and bread

there was never
not
milk
and bread on the table.
fish
was scarce, meat rare.
it was
always
chicken
or pasta, which was fine
dining
for us.
sometimes there'd be
a prayer,
but most of the time
we were
like ravenous wolves,
we'd dig
in.
each fork unwilling
to share.

the aging

the whales have come
ashore
to die.
to breathe in the air
that will
end
their swimming below
the long wide
sea.
they've tired, wearied
of this
round world,
age,
friends gone,
disease.
they rest now on the lapping
shore.
under the mist
of early morning.
too large to move,
too unwilling to be
saved, choosing
how they will leave.

Friday, February 24, 2017

the black eye story

he has a black eye
and a story to go with it.
I suspect a bar
fight, a car wreck,
his head
going through a windshield.
a cop's billy club giving him
a wood shampoo
as he resisted arrest
after throwing an
empty bottle of jack
daniels out the window.
or perhaps his ex wife
punching him
after he hid her teeth
under the bed.
but no.
he says that he was
playing catch with a ball
with some children
at the park,
and one of them
threw a rock instead.

forever yours

she sends me a picture
on her phone of a pomegranate
martini.
she's out drinking
without me,
again.
we've grown apart.
no longer drinking together,
eating bad
food
at the bar.
we haven't dipped calamari
into a red sauce
in like, forever.
I send her a picture
of my broken
heart.
one of those little
candy hearts
from valentines day
that I found
between the couch
cushions. it says
in blotted ink,
forever yours, so
untrue.

the mushroom cloud

it's best to not look
at the news.
to not read it, or try to
understand
any of what's going on.
it's best
to bury one's head into
the sand
of books
and entertainment.
this too shall pass,
is your mantra, saying
it over
and over again
while looking in the distance
for a mushroom
cloud.

apartment living

do you smell that she says,
tilting her nose
into the air to gain more
information
about what might be cooking
down the hallway
in apartment three G.
what is that?
goat, I suggest, or
some farm animal.
I believe they sacrificed
a chicken
the other day.
it took the porter hours
to get the trail of blood
out of the carpet.
they usually start banging
on the bongos
about nine p.m..
but they're very nice,
I lent them
a carving knife and some
olive oil
just yesterday.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

flight attendant

i used to pick her up
at the airport.
she in her flight uniform,
her roll on bag,
black, of course,
at her feet.
black heels.
she'd stand there with
a smile on her face.
shoulders squared,
smelling like a month
of perfumed
sundays. unwearied
by her travels
in the air,
a cat
who swallowed the canary,
or was about to.

the christmas album

what happened to music,
I ask my
friend bill. it stinks
these days.
I can't get no satisfaction.
he smiles
and nods.
good lord, Justin what's
his name,
and beyonce. it's a sham.
and a shame.
we got to get out of this place.
he shrugs, and asks me
if I have
the new Dylan Christmas
album.
no, I tell him.
any good?

a moving violation

I see the curves,
but go too fast anyway.
she was in a red
dress.
how could I miss her,
a moving
violation, strolling
across
the street.
if not for the lamppost
i'd be in the river.
or worse,
upon her,
and never would we
meet.

listen to your mother

don't borrow money,
don't complain,
don't stand too close,
or go out
without a coat
or hat, or boots
in the snow
and rain.
eat all your greens,
hit your knees
and say your prayers,
brush
your teeth.
do your homework,
be good, be kind,
listen to your mother,
wear clean
underwear.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

they have plans

it's
the quiet ones you need
to watch out for.
the silent
smilers,
the innocents,
the shy
soft voices that whisper
and never shout.
they never stand out in
a crowd,
but blend
like anyone into
the scenery.
these are the ones
you need to keep
an eye on,
keep in view.
they have plans.

the ballerina

your mind drifts
as you watch
the ballerina on her toes
in pink,
Tchaikovsky
in your ears, the stage lights
brimming blue
and white,
the silence of her feet
as she moves
like a flower
caught on the water
from side to side.
you think of other things
than what you see.
this beauty
for some reason,
has opened up your mind,
given you
a new light to view
your life, to
think differently on
how to live.

no snow

a year without winter,
has come
and gone. no snow, to speak of.
no ice
or roads salted
and layered in sand.
no schools are out,
or days missed
from work.
we've grown apart since
then,
since not being stuck
inside,
with nowhere to go
but towards each other.

everyone's cat

the black cat
made it through the winter.
she hears
my door open and scurries over
to rub
against my leg.
I sit with her for a while.
we stare
into each other's eyes.
hers a bottle green,
mine more olive.
our love has survived
the cold.
I set a bowl of milk
out for her before I leave,
she takes one or two
licks with her pink
tongue, then looks at me
before running off
to another door that opens.
it's okay, I still adore
her, despite the hussy
that she is.

fruits and vegetables

the religion of
organic tomatoes and home grown
spinach
bothers me.
i'm weary
of staring at every apple
and wondering
where it came
from.
who touched it,
put a needle into
its vein.
i'm tired of kneeling at
the altar of
organic carrots and beans,
brown eggs
from a chicken
not treated mean.
I miss the old days,
of snapping a piece of
fruit of a tree,
running it under the sink
water
then eating it
while playing in
the street.

calendar pages

we had our own seasons.
the frigid winters
of discontent, the youthful
summers
full energy
and late nights.
there was the spring
of new
found love,
the fall of it's departure.
each calendar
page
turned over, for years
and years
until it was done.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

things change

before
the new town homes went up,
all with brick resembling
what's been there for
two hundred years,
before that,
before the tenements were
plowed away,
before the new park,
the fountain,
the coffee shops and boutiques,
there were
street walkers
ladies of the evening,
strolling the dark streets
off King.
it was a shadowy world.
underwater
in the dark night.
cheap thrills, and drugs
on every corner.
a brown bag being sipped
on from a stoop.
then it changed.
you can walk a child there
now and get an
ice cream on every block.

let's stay together

forget what I said yesterday,
everything that was mean
and thoughtless.
and let's
stay
together, let's remain
in this limbo stage
with an emotion,
somewhat like love,
let's give us another week,
see if that leads to a month,
or heaven help
us a year.
my shoes are still under
your bed,
and if my key still fits,
i'll see you when you get home,
plus I have no
where else to go.

in passing

what brings
them here, this boxed truck
with red lights
spinning,
the sirens off now,
no need for that
anymore.
who is under the white
sheet,
tied snug around the cart.
not even a boot,
or hand shows.
a neighbor?
someone you knew,
someone
you've seen and said
hello to, in passing,
but no more. your
measure of grief,
is unknown.

the second hand store

whose clothes are these
on the racks,
the hangers, in the window
of the second hand store,
what hands
tied the bows, stitched
the hem,
put a new button where
a button should go.
all neat and clean now,
out of some drawer or
web strung closet
of another.
small tags adorn their thread
bare sleeves, priced
to sell,
though some look new as new,
as if they were
never worn.

come north

come north, she says. it's
snowing.
we can ski,
or sled, or skate
on the mirrored pond.
we can drink and eat
rich food,
make love
by the fire.
sleep in.
bring nothing,
just a heavy coat, gloves,
a hat,
boots, and you.
let's fall into the drifts
and make angels.

she's good at that

unfamiliar with flower
arrangements
I let her do that.
she's good with
flowers,
knowing all their names.
she's good with notes, too.
hand written
thank you's and words
of appreciation.
and gift wrapping.
how neatly she does that.
the ribbon just so.
and doing or saying
the proper thing,
whether in person or on
the phone.
she's all over Christmas
and other assorted
holidays.
so, she's in charge of
all that, as well.
and me?
I don't know. I work
hard, and delegate.

the gift box

at five,
the prize
in the box disappoints.
but what did you
expect
from a gift
inside a box
of nuts and caramel
popcorn.
a ring
that barely fits.
a whistle
that hardly
blows.
a little badge
that says
sheriff on it.
is this preparation for
what's to come
or not come in
life,
a metaphor
of false hopes?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

impatient for pie

let me tell you all
about my blueberry pies, she says
beaming with baker's pride,
as if I could
hop upon her knee
like a child and listen
to the tale and history
of a blueberry pie.
well, she says,
there are secret ingredients,
but in general
we pick the berries when they're
nice and plump
and sweet, not too soon,
not too late in season.
we roll the dough out, just
so. crimping the edges
for our pan. we use white
all purpose flour,
there is butter in the mix,
sugar, of course.
wait a minute, I tell her.
stop right there.
I don't need to know how it's
made.
I just want to eat one.
do you have one we can cut,
put a slice on a plate
with a tall glass of cold milk?
if you do, good, if not
call me when you have one
ready.

i'm here

the hellos
and farewells come quickly
these days.
the handshake
or kiss upon a cheek.
who isn't leaving,
or coming.
who doesn't have a bag
packed
with a ticket
in their hand to some
foreign shore,
or land.
not me.
i'm here.

i see them

i see them
in the fog of sleep,
in the angelic
air
of grey mist,
white fluffs of earth
bound clouds
rising.
i see them, they
are like shadows,
the dead,
moving slowly
away, or is it
towards me.

we're sinking

it's our boat,
our once true love,
mine and yours,
but I won't go down with it.
I'll wait
as long as I can,
bailing water, but
then i'm off,
with or without you,
into the sea
swimming to dry land.
it's just a boat,
for god's sake,
let it go, we need to
let it sink,
and get another, or two,
one for me,
one for you.

the nail and hammer

he'd spit on his hands,
rub them
together
before starting work.
coffee in,
the drive
to the site over.
a bag tools at his feet.
some wind
might be in the air,
the sun
not quite up yet,
the calm
of blue across
the empty frame of a new
house going up.
all his life,
this is what he did,
doing this one
thing well.
bringing him closer
to his faith,
and the prayer for
more work
and thanks for the nail
and hammer
in his hand.

waiting for a taxi

with bags packed,
I look at my watch
and stare out the window,
waiting for the taxi
to take me to the airport.
i'll be
in france by tomorrow,
eating a baguette,
sipping
coffee near the seine.
i'll have on my beret
and boots,
and will wax philosophically
about love
and life.
sex and death. money.
i'll be an ex-pat,
far away from home,
becoming someone i'm not.
i'll type my masterpiece
on a old
remmington,
unsticking the keys,
sliding paper into the roller.
i'll type and type
and nod at what I've written,
i'll keep going
until i can't go anymore,
then it's off to spain.

next

the one barista is tired.
she sits
with her hands
folded
around her cheeks,
sitting on a stool
in the kitchen.
you can see her through
the door as it
swings open.
it's seven a.m.
and already she's hit
the wall
of serving coffee and
heating up
whatever is in the
bin.
finally she comes out
in her green apron,
grimaces
and takes the next
customer in the long
line, that goes outside
the door.
her life has circled
to this,
and to what end.

roads untraveled

there are many roads
not travelled, so get over
yourself
mr. frost
and quit stacking
rocks
to make a better
fence, get out there
and have some
fun, discover
an alley, a tunnel,
a new path
to the waterfall,
or make your own
through the bramble
and briars of
this life we travel
and stumble in.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

decisions

while crossing the atlantic,
staring
out at the rough tumble
of a dark violent
sea,
I thought what would
happen
if I just stepped between
the rail,
and leaped in.
disappearing into the almost
black water.
my mother was beside me,
holding the youngest
in her arms,
while the others gripped
the grey metal
rail, cold as ice.
I was only six, so it would
be doubtful that it
could be called
a suicide. an accident
perhaps, what child would
think of doing himself in.
I didn't jump, but did
peer over, my head
between the rails and studied
the churn of the boat,
the waves breaking,
the trouble of it all
and what life
could be, or not be,
each day that we're here.

the car alarm

the alarm goes
off
but no one cares.
it's annoying, but it's
not your car,
not your problem.
you go on about your way,
covering your ears,
hissing at the sound
of the pulsing
blare.
it was bumped, that's it.
no one is even trying
to steal it,
though you wish they would
and drive it away,
far far away,
so that the noise
stops
and gets beyond your
hearing range,
which isn't far
at all, really.

getting organized

she wrings her hands
and sits
by the mirror.
there isn't enough time
to worry
about everything.
I have to get organized
and pick
the ones that are most
important.
i'm getting old.
i'm alone.
I don't like my job.
those are good ones
to start with.
that should cover the morning.

while birds wait

let's praise
the new day the earth worm
says,
burrowing upwards
towards light,
through the soft earth.
let's rise
and shine
and find a warm spot
to bathe in.
all is well,
we have so much to
be thankful
for in this dirt, this
wet land,
this endless dark
soil
where we thrive
and do what we are born
to do.

not hungry

how empty
the basket is, as you walk
through the bright
aisles.
all the cans
and boxes aligned just
so,
by someone
in the early hours.
each peach,
each apple with those
of the same, stacked high,
turned
to face the next hand
that finds them.
there must be something
here you
want to eat.
that you need, must have.
not so.

picking corn

the stones
set out
to sit upon by my grandmother
may still be there
along
the path, full of honeysuckle
and briar,
that leads into the woods
in north reading.
she would
say, let's rest,
and point
to which stone
she wanted us to move
for her to sit
upon.
she'd light a cigarette
and say,
just five minutes.
but while we're here,
go across that road
to field and pick
us some corn
corn for dinner later.
the farmer won't mind.
six stalks will do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

while ironing

while ironing,
while getting ready for
bed,
for tomorrow,
for work,
her blouse stretched
out across
the ironing board.
in her slip,
standing, pressing the hot
iron
from side to side,
then over with the sleeve,
her heart went.
she had time to sit
on the edge of the bed
before dying with
her glasses still on,
in her bare feet,
her eyes open,
her mouth parted as if
to say, now?
gently, they placed
a sheet upon
her and closed door.

the orange chair

orange is not
my color
nor is red or pink,
or green
or yellow
give me blue
in any shade or grey.
brown and black
do it as well
for me.
what were you thinking,
the orange chair
must go.

big dogs on the chain

the big dog
on the chain, filling
the air
with barks
and growls,
snarls.
it scratches at the dirt,
rubbing it's side
against
the tree.
hardly moving ten
feet from where it's
slept
and paced all
night, all day.
not a word
of love, not a hand
of comfort,
or ball thrown to chase
comes his way.
I know
many big dogs
on the chain.
I keep away.

finding the keys

the secret
is the surrender to life,
of letting
go, of rest, of stopping
and
not complaining about
the rain,
the ice or snow,
or the way
she puts your keys
in a place where you
can't find them.
she is who she is,
like weather.
you can't change that,
despite trying
every chance you get.

finger tip

in time
this wound, this new
cut at the tip of my finger
around the nail,
will heal.
not soon enough though.
it's red
and hot to the touch.
pain is some
sort of lesson,
I guess.
as is healing,
and not feeling
it anymore.

about women

this one time,
he begins.
we were drinking in
the woods.
sitting around
a fire.
passing a bottle of
cheap rum.
no women were there,
but we talked
about women.
how good or bad
they were.
how they could cook,
or make love,
or cheat.
we emptied the bottle
he said,
then it got cold,
and dark,
so we went home,
out of stories, out
of talk
about women, how
they came,
and went.

the sky

the sky
was dappled with
hanging grapes.
grey loaves of
blue,
purple capes
of tinted clouds.
it looked religious,
even without
the saints, or
Christ with open arms
in its sweep
above the bare trees,
the silver
sleeve
of water below it.
with a brush, if I
could paint,
if I had
the talent and patience
to sit
before a canvas,
this then would be
my masterpiece.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

the spinach blues

it takes forever
for the frozen spinach block
to defrost
than reach a temperature
suitable
for consumption.
again with the two minutes
on high.
once more on one,
stirring before the button
is pushed.
finally,
a steaming
bowl of green spinach.
a pad of butter,
a dash of salt,
pepper too.
I've lost the will to live.
eating like
this.

back seat at the drive in

she wasn't the best kisser
in the world,
looking back on it,
or was it me?
our teeth clanged together
as the garbled static
of a speaker
dangled in the window.
her braces
mashed bloody against
my lips.
our noses bumped,
our chins
rubbed.
too much spit,
we were eager lizards
in the back
seat of my 1970 maroon
Camaro
at the drive in.
perched on a hill
in the back
row so as not to be
disturbed.
the diabolical nature
of her layered garments
confounded me.
zippers, buttons,
snaps and clasps,
it was hopeless.
it would have been easier
to gain access
to fort knoxx.

what is to be expected

promises unkept,
meetings
unattended,
vows
dissolved into
mere
gestures of
good faith.
a rendezvous cancelled.
late on arrival.
early in
leaving.
the world is a cold
rude place
when expecting
what is to be expected
and not
receiving.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

rush hour

it's not unlike
the frenetic scene
in ben hur
when the chariots
jostle for
a lane,
whipping their steeds
to get ahead,
how they
fight and curse
as they circle
the floor of the coliseum,
dust and dirt,
blood
flying. what little
has changed.

a bar of soap

if the world
is a bar
of soap, how much
is left
before all of it
goes down the drain.
eat drink and be merry
the wise
men say,
their daily mantra,
a constant
refrain.

vanilla days

sometimes vanilla
is all you need. the calm
scoop
of white on white
ice cream, no adornment
of syrup
or nuts,
or whipped cream
needed.
just vanilla,
a single scoop, please.
give me a month of vanilla
and then
let's go wild
with cherry,
or mint, or even
tangerine.

birds on blue

these walls,
these ceilings sag,
brittle with time,
the plaster crumbling like
icing
on a stale cake
left out in the sun.
the floors, warped
with wetness,
a thin veneer
lacking shine. the thump
of each radiator
in each room,
emitting low heat,
hardly any warmth at all.
the tenants are packed
and gone
to the next life,
the next place where they
will be wheeled
to a window
and fed with a spoon.
fresh paint won't do,
won't revive
what needs to be torn
down.
but you'll try to disguise
this death
with a bold splash of color,
a thick rich paint,
a pin striped paper,
perhaps paisley,
or birds on blue.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

coffee clutch

it's the age of pills.
of x rays,
and cat scans, blood pressure
readings.
telling others
what your doctor says
about this
ache and pain,
that ailment. the same
one your mother
had when she was your age.
around the table
we go,
with gout, and arthritis,
polyps
and bunions,
palpitations,
rashes that are
as mysterious as the day
is long. I swear
to you, we say,
it's not just a common cold.

till death do us part

there is true love
which may or may not
last forever,
then there's
like, and lust, and
an occasional
get together after
a few drinks
in a dark bar
late at night. at
some point though,
the sun will set
and that will be it.
till death do us part.

the spill

the coffee spill will
stay
with you the whole day,
remind you
of the stumble
up the stairs.
the brown drip will
dry
upon your white shirt,
but won't fade.
no cold cloth
will remove it.
there's no time to change.
some mistakes are obvious
that we make,
while others stay
hidden away.

another's shoes

it's hard to walk in
another person's shoes,
as the cliché goes.
they don't fit.
too tight,
too loose, not your
color
or style.
I like my own shoes,
thank you.
to each his own
tie up
or loafer, open
toed sandal,
or boot.

the carrot

the carrot is close
so I run faster, lean for
it with my
teeth
and hands, but
always just out of reach.
today
might be the day,
that I get it,
my optimism is hard
to kill,
but waning with
each new
year and gallop
down the hard road.

Monday, February 13, 2017

the a.m. station

I miss the exit
to river road, daydreaming
at five a.m.,
hardly day yet,
still dark with a white
saucer moon
hanging in the indigo sky.
the roads
are already full of mice
smelling
the cheese of a new
day. hustling
to where they need to be.
I have to take the
Georgetown pike
exit and come
back around, get back
on track. I don't mind
the delay, but stick
to the right lane,
and concentrate,
half listening to the static,
the white noise
of an a.m.
station.

marge

and these are my kids,
she says,
holding out
her phone,
scrolling through
a myriad of pictures,
that's billy
when he was six
on a horse,
sally, at ten
on the carousel
at the beach, tommy,
cindy,
and marge going down
the slide together.
it was such a nice day
that day.
marge?
I say.
who's marge.
and why marge?
that was my mother's name.
she's the youngest.
she was three when that
was taken.
but she's thirty now
and living in
Minnesota.
I just talked to her
last sunday.

let's call it monday

there's nothing
musical about this day.
not a poetic
strum
of string, or bang
of drum.
not a single note
blown
in melodic passion.
let's call
it dark thirty,
with a strong chance
of rain.
let's call
it Monday.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

you already know

she stole your dreams,
borrowed them for
a night,
took them
into her own mind
and let them unravel
in her sleep.
your dream about a blue
pool of water,
how arm over arm you swam.
the large waves
you'd ride
as they approached
the flat white sands.
the dream of flying
effortlessly
through the clouds,
wingless with no desire
to land.
your dream
of food.
warm food, a banquet
on the table.
enough to last you through
the harsh winter,
making up for every hunger
you ever knew.
she made that hers too
and when
she awoke, she asked
you what you dreamed about
and you told
her, you already know, I
can tell by
the way your smiling.

the red hat

a hat,
a sunday, go to church
hat,
floating on the water.
a red
wide brim,
with a feather,
it moves slowly
on the slow stream
towards
some end.
someone has lost
their hat,
perhaps
they reached up
to feel it, but it
was gone,
swept away,
caught in some brisk
cold wind.
so much of life is
like that.

the jangle of keys

the jangle
of keys gets the dogs
moving.
barking,
jumping
towards the door,
the leash too,
once seen
gets them excited.
eyes wide,
tongue out.
I feel that way too
when hearing the sound
of your high
heels coming down
the stairs
on a Saturday night.

the world sighs

the world sighs.
or is just wind formed
from the seas,
the pull
of the moon,
a winter moon,
the spell of land
carved
into ravines,
a breath pushed over
the mountains
that have risen
over time.
I prefer to call it
a sigh,
it fits.

it starts to rain

we both look
up at the sky and say
things like,
it's going to rain.
yes.
but we're happy that it's not
snow.
we agree on that.
his dog
tugs on the leash,
pulling him
towards a nearby tree.
it starts to rain.
something is always pulling
us away.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

valentine's day massacre

I see them in the safeway,
the men, weary,
blank eyed and
wandering. shoulder
to shoulder,
picking up
bouquets of store flowers.
smelling them
for fragrance, peering
at the price
on the little cellophane
sticker.
these will do, she likes
yellow, I think,
or is it pink?
then it's to the card aisle,
picked over
like a week old holiday turkey.
nothing funny is left.
all syrupy and mush,
nothing that says what
our relationship
really is.
what is it exactly?
maybe this one
that says I love you
just the way you are.
but it's not true and I don't
even like that song,
oh well,
i'm tired and it's getting late.
we have reservations
at la bergerie
for a nine course
two hundred dollar dinner
that will still
leave us hungry.
chocolate next. dark, or milk?
the heart box, or
the standard
sampler?
chocolate covered cherries?
too suggestive.
maybe an almond bar
this year. who doesn't like
a chocolate almond
bar, raise your hand.
trader joe's has
them down the street. i'll
get one for me too
and hide it in the car.
what about balloons?
everyone likes balloons.
no. that would
be dumb and reckless.
a ring, a necklace?
maybe a nice butterfly broche.
better yet
a gift certificate
to Victoria secrets.
sigh.
it's all about me, she'd
say. I wonder if I could just
give her a check for
five hundred dollars,
write I luv you on it,
and call it a day.

Friday, February 10, 2017

non compliant

before fishing,
we would go out into the yard
and dig
for worms.
earth worms.
they were noncompliant.
but we
took them just the same.
the fish too,
were not eager
to bite
on these now half
worms,
still moving,
or be reeled in by our
small hands,
the rods
bending at the tip,
the lines tight.
we had all summer to do
what we wanted.
disappearing out the door,
coming back
at dusk
for dinner.
dreading the days when
we'd have
to board that long yellow
bus.

to clean

it feels good to sweep,
to fold
and put everything
into its place.
to dust,
and wipe, polish.
get on your knees to
scrub the kitchen floor.
it feels fine, for now,
to get under
the chairs
and set the shoes
side by side.
clean the blinds, make
the bed.
its nice
to shake each rug
out into
on the back porch,
to organize the clutter,
put all the pens into
the drawer,
books onto
the shelf.
it feels good to clean
when all else is spinning
out of control.
it's something.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

squirrel ville

a squirrel
gets into the house.
I grab a broom.
the maid screams,
waking up from her nap.
the children jump up and down,
the dog
howls with delight.
we chase the squirrel
hoping he doesn't
have rabies
nor will bite.
up the stairs, down,
behind the couch,
the desk.
onto the chandelier.
I yell out to my son
to google, what to do
if a squirrel gets into
your house.
my daughter takes a picture
of him
and posts it on facebook,
then goes back to her room.
he has so much energy
as he hops
onto the table
and nibbles on a apple.
we make a sandwich,
hungry too,
we grab a few cookies,
then begin again.
we cant catch him.
he knows this,
smiling with his little
squirrel smile,
shrugging his narrow
shoulders
before going back up
the chimney.

the new job

she can't decide
on the new job. she isn't cut
from that cloth.
to sell,
to sit
and ponder, type and stare
into a screen
within four walls,
her clipped wings behind her.
it's money.
it's a start, it's an open
door.
is there a window she wonders.
is there coffee.
is there a clock
on the wall
and a calendar to see
as the seasons
go by.

the higher branch

the higher branches
may have
the sweeter fruit,
but what hangs low
is easer to reach,
easier still
is what's on the ground.
yes.
a worm or two,
the skin soft, gone
brown.
but the higher
fruit is so hard to
get to,
so you settle, and bite,
and wish that things
weren't so hard.

the bakery

the angry
driver. doing sixty in the parking
lot
almost runs you
down. a woman pushing
a stroller
stops just in time.
he spins
and steers into a
handicapped spot in front
of the bakery.
he isn't handicapped.
he's in a hurry
and stares at you as
he gets out of the car.
you go in
behind him.
he looks at you wondering
about your
judgement. about
the violence you might
possess within you.
he gets his loaf
of olive bread
then hurries off.
a scone, you say to
the clerk, and coffee.
you watch the man drive
away as fast
as he came in.
it's too late in life
to go there.

detour

it's an orange sign.
detour.
a disembodied man
in a hard
hat
waves his limp
arm
and points to the gravel
road you
must take to
get to where you're
going.
the sun is a pad
of butter
melting
the sky into pink,
a flowery
taffy of yellows
and rose.
what dreams are there
in this man,
behind those shaded eyes,
in you
that have yet to be
fulfilled?
when do you drop
the hope and accept
the road
for what it is.
detoured.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

their turn now

the house. up for sale.
the bones sagging,
the light sockets sparking.
the water
leaking
in the basement.
pipes
full of air
and brown water.
each room papered
with thin
old patterns adored
in another age.
the carpet, with crests,
still stretched
along the stairs
holding dust and dirt
from decades gone by.
thick curtains,
with royal aspirations,
blue and gold,
hold back,
the light,
as the owner, now one,
is wheeled out
to a box truck with
a siren, flashing red
lights. the new owners
prance in
with joy, hammers
and shovels
in hand.
it's their turn now.

let's call it something else

let's not call it
love.
I tell her,
on the phone, let's
call it
like, or
lust, a variation
of mutual
affection.
let's avoid the word
love
for now,
though it may be,
and keep it going.
why ruin
a perfectly good
relationship
by trying to make it
last forever.

light my fire

let's dance
she says, taking my hand
and leading me
onto the floor.
light my fire by the doors
is playing.
it's a wedding.
a niece and nephew,
someone young
and foolish,
bright eyed and bushy tailed,
as they say.
I haven't had enough
to drink
to be dancing.
so I take my
champagne glass out
there with me.
I like this song,
and begin to sing,
knowing all the words.
I find my
moves again, get my groove
going.
she smiles and says
loudly, you are really
a good dancer,
to which I say.
yup.

into trouble

he hears a voice
in his head,
like we all do.
a whisper of warning.
a gentle
nudge to do this
or not to do that,
a feeling, a hunch
giving him
direction, but he
ignores it,
as he does each
stop sign, each
red light.
all of the small
print he comes across
and doesn't read.


Monday, February 6, 2017

her new loves

her new loves
are all
new loves. not a single
old
love is in the mix.
she keeps
a diary,
a map on the wall.
red pins
to mark each rendezvous.
from Delaware
to Virginia,
to
Pennsylvania.
the radius has expanded,
as has her
tastes and sense
of adventure
since divorcing her
husband of 32 years.
I can't believe what I've
been missing
she says
on the phone, gassing up
in the snow,
at a station,
near Wilmington.

white out

mistakes
are made. the ink
smudged,
unerased. numbers
added wrongly.
where is the white
out
for life.
the sticky paint
dabbed
upon
the things we said,
and done,
the yesterdays
we've scrawled
upon the page,
wishing they were
gone.

i want more

the bowl fills.
the bowl empties. how
quickly
the hand
goes in for more.
another kernel,
another nut,
another hard piece
of candy.
another kiss from you.
more,
is not less.
it's more. please.

her religion

her religion
is work.
she has no time for God
in her life.
(what if there is no God)
no time
for prayer or to listen
to that inner
voice.
there is no ship to right,
she believes.
there are too
many things to do
than close her eyes
and kneel, put her hands
together
and ask for forgiveness,
for direction,
for thanks,
to see the light.
it's work, then death,
then darkness.

here we are, again

it's too early
to be up and moving about.
too
soon to stop
the dreams and leave
the sweet
warm comfort of pillows
and bed.
the length of you
beside me.
too soon to rise, before
the sun,
before
the rest of the world
does.
but here we go.
here we are again.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

circus blues

a line of clowns,
circus
clowns.
painted in their
colors.
floppy shoes, and dry
flowers.
bulb noses,
all arriving from one car.
the line wraps around
the block.
the unemployment line.
the bearded woman,
shaving.
the cannonball
man wiping grease
from his brown.
the trapeze artists
in baggy pants.
the thin man,
finally having a sandwich.
there is no more
circus.
it's left town.
look there goes a herd
of elephants,
running with glee
knocking everything down.

plugged in

a plug
and wire to everything.
the phone,
the fan, the drill,
the toaster
oven.
your hair dryer,
my tooth
brush, your curling
iron,
the iron,
the tv,
the lamp on the night
stand.
what did we do
before Edison
went wild I ask her.
we slept in, she says.
made love.
burned candles
and gazed at the stars
above.

begin again

some frost,
a gale of snow,
a wind. the red line
of mercury
gone low
below
the point
of freezing.
gloves and hats,
the buttons and snaps,
all tight,
secured
to the chin.
I can't see the end
of this,
let's shovel
out our differences,
keep warm together,
begin
again.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

listening from afar

why are they whining
so much,
they ask
from light years away,
listening
to earth on their fancy
alien listening
device.
put your ear up
to the wall
with this glass and listen
to all of them, whining
day and night,
playing the victim
card
over gender, race,
religion.
if I hear my mommy didn't
hug me when I was little,
one more time...
what's wrong with these people
on earth.
geeze I don't know. losers.
they laugh, and high
three each, because of only
having three fingers
that aren't even
fingers, but
sticky Velcro like
stalks of asparagus.
aren't you glad,
one says to the other
that we all
believe in the same
things
and that our skin is
of one color,
green?

is that the best you can do?

the woman
answers the door in her
nightgown.
pink with small flowers.
she's as old as my
mother.
she sways,
and bobbles in her
slippers.
blinks a glaze
from her gem blue eyes.
i'm not drunk, she says.
I have an inner ear problem
that makes me
lose my balance.
I help her to the stairs
where she points
to where the bathroom
is
that needs wallpaper
removed, stripped
clean.
how much, she says.
gasping for air,
blinking and hanging
onto my sleeve.
I give her a price.
she groans,
can you do it for less?
her cat hops onto the toilet
seat and meows,
staring at me.
I give her another price,
she groans again.
i'm old she says. i'm
on a fixed income.
I have this ear problem,
please,
is that the best you
can do?

tied up

i'm tied up,
she says on the phone.
so I can't meet
your for lunch.
sorry.
not even for coffee, I
ask her,
disappointed
in not seeing my friend
lulu.
no, she says.
I mean i'm literally
tied up.
i'm tied to the bed post
in some sort of sailor's knot,
and my ankles are cuffed
together.
I can see the key
on the night stand.
it was a wild
date last night.
new guy I've been seeing.
jimmy, from
the tattoo parlor.
I was able to cup
my phone under my
chin to answer
when you called.
oh, I say.
well. maybe later then,
okay, she
says. I might be able
to wiggle loose
by then, but if I can't,
come by and cut
me loose.
should be a sharp
knife in the kitchen.
cool. will do.

family

the elephants
have filled the room
each
in a seat
before you.
so much to say,
so little courage
to do so.
let's eat,
and be polite, go
about
our lives
in tongue bitten
silence.

Friday, February 3, 2017

test drive

it's a two
seater, black. Italian.
soft top
that goes down with a flip
of the wrist.
stick shift.
tan leather seats
and chrome
wheels.
you imagine a warm
summer road
along the beach.
the salesman licks
his chops
as he throws you the keys,
let's take it
for a spin,
he says
as you both squeeze in.
where's ginger
when you need her?

give it time

the cut will heal
itself
over time. give it time.
let it be.
don't mess with it.
scratch or bump it
against anything.
go easy.
put some ointment on it.
band aid
that heart.
give it time.
you'll see.

the door slams

let's not fight
today, I tell my love over
breakfast,
touching her hand
across the table.
let's be kind
and sweet to one another,
okay?
what do you mean by that,
she says,
throwing her fork
down into her plate
of scrambled eggs, then
getting up
to grab her coat.
i'm going for a walk,
she says, putting on her
gloves,
wrapping a scarf around
her neck.
I can't believe you
sometimes.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

off the chain

i don't want to do
the things i used to do
when forced
under the guise
of love
and marriage, duty.
family.
i am unshackled.
free to roam, a dog
off his leash,
without collar, or tags,
over the fence, barking
and running
free.

the shallow sea

hot water
is a blessing that I dip
into
daily.
I soak my bones
in the dark,
in the soft shallow
sea
of a white tub.
I lean
back
in the rising steam
and think of things,
of where
I've been,
what is yet to be.
in time
I get out, but wait
until
it's cold.
until the season
has changed
knowing that nothing,
nothing
remains the same.

come to florida

come to florida
she says.
where the oranges
fall from
trees,
where the sky
and sea meet blue
as one.
come with me and lie in the sand.
we'll hold
hands,
drink martinis.
call in for room service.
it'll be fun, just
you and me.
I have three
new, black, red
and white bikinis.

i don't believe in eggs

I don't believe in eggs.
I won't bow
to the brown or white
ones.
organic
or not.
makes no difference to me.
I don't kneel
to the altar
of a chicken, how
it's raised, free range,
or caged.
just give
me an egg,
crack it in a pan
and fry it up
with a slice
of spam like my mother
used to make
before she went
crazy, before they
locked her up
in Saint E's,
took her spatula
away.

where i pray to rise

I am holy
with this noose around
my neck, the trap
door below
my boots.
trembling
beneath my hooded
face, wet.
I am as holy as any man
can be
when faced
with eternity,
the unknown that awaits
beyond these
steps,
the faces below, these
sins I've heartily
confessed.
I am a good man who
just went astray,
who hasn't,
who is without sin
I want to yell out,
to say.
but then I hear the latch
click
and the snap of twine
below the bitter
blue sky
as birds scatter
black, each one, from
the thick
green trees, upwards
where I pray
to rise.

eat at moe's

there's a swordfish above the bar,
shiny, silver and blue,
with bacon grease
and scrapple mist
making it glisten
from tail to fin.
ketchup and mustard, set
side by side are soldiered
on every table.
French's and Heinz.
salt and pepper too.
enormous wooden salad spoons,
forks and knives
are nailed
on the paneled wall.
not for customer use.
moe is in the back
with mrs. moe, he
with his white Nehru hat
and bloodied apron
frying liver
for Thursdays special.
the mrs. in her black
hair net
keeping the flames going
under each pot.
a pile of white
onions
spits in a small
haystack on the grill.
let's get a booth
I tell
my true love, betty,
as she pinches her nose
and squints.
no not that one,
the one
with the juke box,
near the curtained
windows. we both slide in
and rub our hands together.
the bell rings, an order
is up,
adam and eve on a raft,
with a side
order of jimmy dean pork links.
another bell rings,
angels must be
getting their wings, betty
laughs.
it's the front
glass door, billy
has just parked his tractor
trailer on the side
of the citgo station.
he stands by the bathroom door,
jiggling the locked
knob. occupied.
stamping his boots.
we hear a toilet flush
then out comes marge, our
waitress in pink, a pad
and pen in hand.
hi hon, she says. what'll
it be? liver and onions?
we pie too.
apple and cherry.

saving things

i'm saving
string, and rubber bands.
pennies
in a bowl.
old photos and keys.
why throw out
a perfectly good paperclip
or ribbon,
scraps of paper,
or bows.
i'm putting old
phones
into a box
with watches I
never wear, socks
that need
darning,
ticket stubs from
movies
or games that remind
I was there.
i'm saving
all the things I
don't need or use
anymore
and yet strangely
feel attached too,
like you,
it's almost
like I still care.

getting to know you

I saw the cake
you baked on facebook.
nice.
and the flowers you grew,
the children,
grandchildren,
lots of children
pointing at animals
at the zoo.
I saw
your leg where the bee
stung you
and left
a red mark
the size of an egg.
ouch.
I see that you like
coffee and sunsets,
and went to the march
on Saturday
to protest something
then to another
march to protest something else.
the cat with the ball of yarn,
too cute.
I saw the abba video
that you posted too.
who knew,
and your notice that
you will
be going into the hospital
next week
for a hysterectomy.
so many likes
and good lucks with that
posting.
i'll like it too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

it never ends

how long
will they dig the street up.
forever.
it seems.
I put my son through
school
and still
they're out there
with their jack hammers
and cones,
their lime green
fluorescent vests
and hard hats.
I've been through two
dogs and three wives
since they started.
i'm even on my second bottle
of tabasco sauce.
some workers have grown beards,
their hair
white with age,
leaning on their canes.
I hear the beeping of trucks
as they back up
to take
gravel and debris away.
bring more in
to flatten, to tamp,
to pave.

apple jelly

why she gave me a pint
jar of apple
jelly, i'll never know.
I stare it on the shelf.
seems strange to travel
so far, from north Carolina,
to bring it to me
wrapped kindly in tissue
and a bow.
I've never mentioned
apple jelly once in our
long late night
talks.
did she confuse me
with someone else?
everything was touched
upon,
but not apple jelly. not
once.
seems sad to throw it away,
without even
a taste, but I do.

don't confess

don't tell me
your secrets
and I won't
tell you mine.
please, don't confess.
it may be good for the soul,
but not for us.
let's pretend
to be who we want to be,
with halos in place.
leave it at that.
happy in our unknowing
bliss for as long
as we can.