Thursday, March 30, 2017

maybe i'll come around

why did I buy
this shirt.
it's not me. it was
me though
when I was in the store
holding against
my chest, looking
into the mirror.
but the color is all
wrong.
the style, the look.
what was I thinking.
i'll leave the tags
on and hang
it in the closet,
maybe i'll come around
and think
differently about it,
like i do with a lot
of things,
and people,
maybe not.

the pint bottle

to hide
the pint bottle of
thunderbird,
he keeps it in the paper
bag,
and sips
cautiously
as he sits on the steps
near the fountain.
who needs
work
when you have this.
blue
skies.
a pocket of change.
the whole
day ahead to do nothing
but drink,
laugh
and stumble back
home again.

the reunion

we're sorry that you missed
the last thirty two
high school reunions
the card reads, we have two
a year now, but we're hoping
that you make it this year.
we're joining up with
three other graduating
classes because so many
people have died, or can't
make it due to imprisonment
or disinterest.
some people are so rude, they
just don't write back.
it's bring your own drinks
and food this time.
we are meeting at a picnic
table near the river
where we can see the cherry
blossoms. it's wheel chair
accessible. condiments
and paper plates will be
provided. sally and jimmy,
you remember them, don't
you? yes they are still together
after all these years,
the king and queen of
the senior prom 1973.
jimmy though is now Jenny,
so try to remember that.
they will be giving
an amway presentation,
so bring something to write
on, as well as your own
business cards, if you're
not retired yet.
by the way we are no longer
The Braves, but are now
The Wolverines
to be nice to our native
americans, whom we love
dearly. it's a shame we
stole their country.
our colors
though are still the same,
blue and gold with garnet trim.
we hope
to see you this year. signed,
muffy, captain of the pom
pom squad and home ec advisor,
11, 12.
oh, and we hope you like
the new braille invitation,
so many classmates
have vision issues now, and
have complained in the past
about not being able to read
the invite, so this new card
should help. see you soon.
go braves. oops,
I mean wolverines.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

from russia with love

I wanted to send my
girlfriend in Nigeria,
my future mail order bride,
some money
but we've
lost contact.
she needed nine hundred and seventy
nine dollars
to be exact.
travel and miscellaneous
expenses, I suspect.
she was originally
from Russia, the Ukraine
but more recently lived in Dubai.
Natasha was her name,
but I called her Nat
or sugarplum for short.
she had hair like corn silk,
eyes as blue
as the Aegean Sea.
lithe and long,
teeth
like chicklets.
I blew up her bikini photo
that she took while
on vacation in the Ural mountains
and taped it to my wall,
I miss our sporadic
communication, her long in
depth e mails
in adorable broken english
that rambled on and on about
how wonderful she is
and how much she loves me.
I needed no more convincing.
I miss her and wonder
if she'll ever contact me again.
her check awaits
as does my undying love.

the dishwasher

our first fight
was over the dishwasher.
she didn't like my style
of loading
forks and spoons
plates and knives onto
the rack.
she was more organized
than I.
the cups set all in rows.
the dishes rinsed
before going in,
pans tilted just so.
in time though she gave
up on that
and moved on to more
trivial things.

borrowing

we rent.
lease,
borrow for a while.
even these
clothes we wear
won't go with us.
everything left
behind.
there is no pyramid
to stick them in.
no tomb
to hold our dearest
possessions.
we leave it all
to others,
no longer yours,
no longer mine
no matter how rich
or poor
we think we are.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

she waits for me

ungloved,
pulling rope. tying
down
the ships
that glide into
harbor.
I blow on the sores,
the rubbed
callouses of work.
the wind is aalted
blue.
long knives that carve
against my skin.
a ship
leaves, another
appears on the horizon.
work is love.
love is work,
at home she waits
for me.
she disagrees.

we have bacon

you must come out to my farm
sometime
she says.
it's on the eastern shore.
you could meet my family,
see all of
my animals.
we have goats and cows.
chickens.
pigs.
maybe you could help
dust the crop
or harvest
the corn. we could pick
berries.
you like bacon, don't
you, she
says.
how can I say no
to that.

blood suckers

cold
and mechanical
the vampires
in hospital green smocks,
say
put out your arm.
they swab
a vein
stick a needle in.
there is no
small talk, no
how are you today.
this won't hurt a bit.
relax.
nothing is said.
it's the needle,
the arm.
the wrap to knot
it down.
next. another arm
waits
behind you.
your vial goes away
to be spun
and labeled.
no cookie, no nothing.
just go
turn right.

she used to know

i could tell my mother
that today is Christmas day
and she wouldn't
know the difference.
there was a time though
when she could go through
my dirty jeans
before washing them,
emptying the pockets
and put together everything.
where I've been,
who i was with and what
i was doing.
she'd look me in the eyes
and say, so!
is there something you want
to tell me?
but today she doesn't know
if it's Christmas.

take a number

i take a number
and sit.
there are rows of chairs,
nearly
all filled.
people are holding purses
and wallets.
papers.
looking up, then back
down to their laps
where
they write things down,
stare into
their phones.
the white plate of hours
hardly moves
above the counter.
the hands seem stuck.
so do i.

away from home

we're here now.
are you happy?
we're away from home.
our feet
in the sand.
home is a thousand
miles away.
are you happy?
we're eating.
drinking.
we're making love.
we're doing nothing
but lying in the sun.
are you happy?
hand me your phone
for a minute,
I need to touch base,
catch up.

Monday, March 27, 2017

the note on the counter

one by one
each light goes out
until there's only one.
i'll write a note
to myself
for tomorrow, stick
it on the counter,
then up the stairs
i'll go, the door locked,
the dog behind me.
i'll read for awhile
then make it dark
for sleep.
i'll lie there
and think about
what's on the note.
the promises
that I've made,
the one I need to keep.

how are you?

I can't talk today,
she says.
or tomorrow. i'm dying.
radiation
is making my bones glow
with
heat.
i'm weak and weary.
it's been a good life.
how are you?

the reviews

slowly he goes through
the mail.
the reviews of his latest
book
of poetry are in.
thin, one says.
the same, another states.
boring, almost
as if he mailed
it in
a woman in Toledo writes.
the poet nods, he sips.
his coffee.
rubs the sleep
out of his eyes.
he's happy
with all of this.
it stirs him to rise
and put his fingers onto
the keyboard once
again.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

with snow on the ground

the man decides to pay
you only half
of what is owed.
calmly he explains that it
is the worst
job he's ever seen
and that you are lucky
to be getting half.
you knew this was coming
from day one.
the first day you met
him and shook his
clammy hand, looked into
his narrow eyes.
you knew it, but went on
anyway with the work, hoping
against hope that
your instincts, for once,
were wrong.
it was winter and snow
was on the ground.

second acts

sometimes the dead
are more alive when you dream
about them.
they have cleaned up their
acts
for the most part.
you like each other more
in the dream.
there is a feeling
of joy
to see them once again,
once death is out of the way
and they're truly gone.

two weeks of work

the building smelled
of wet
concrete, the steel beams
just settling
deep into the earth.
it rose twenty stories
in crystal city.
the elevators didn't work
so we climbed
with our buckets
and brushes
starting at the top.
work was slow.
the economy was on empty
as gas
lines with alternating
plates
wrapped around the exxon
stations.
old men, young, unskilled,
anyone with a paper
who had read the ad
came
and tried to do the work.
women with muscles,
skinny with addictions.
retired men with lunch pails.
who couldn't paint?
attrition was swift.
two units a day.
doors, sills, baseboards,
kitchens and baths
all needing the new shine
of oil paint.
you were young then, fast,
strong.
you won the job and lasted
until it was done,
all twenty floors, two weeks
of work.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

blue peeps

it's hard shopping for one.
one onion.
one quart
of milk,
six eggs, a half
a loaf
of bread.
even then most of this
gets thrown away.
lettuce
might see a few leaves
pulled off,
the rest going brown
and soft.
the milk goes sour
and the eggs become
a science project.
one tomato.
one can of beans.
an eight pack of plastic
wrapped
American cheese. one
package of easter
peeps,
the blue kind,
marshmallowy sweet,
all for me.
they go quickly.

limbo

a fly caught
between screen and window
buzzes
and fusses
trying to get back out,
or in.
this limbo
that he's in
is wearing him out.
you wonder if it's
a metaphor for your own
life,
your own existence,
day to day.
you hope not, as you pull
the window up
and watch him
fly away.

in the next life

in the next life
things
will be different. we won't
have to stand in
line
for our coffee or
wait at the dmv
to get
things renewed.
people will hold doors
for one another
and say, no,
please, you go first.
after you.
in the next life,
the hear after,
there won't be any rap
music, or people playing banjos,
or commercials in between
shows.
every seat will be in
in middle
half way up and the popcorn
will be warm
with butter and salt.
we won't get fat
in the next life.
you'll be able to eat
candy all day
and cake
for dinner.
in the next life you'll
have great teeth,
no need for dentists anymore.
you'll be able
to sing too, not just in
the shower, but
anywhere, and no one will
make fun of you.
in the next life, women
will look at you and wink,
and give you
their phone numbers
without you having to jump
through a lot of hoops.
they won't yell at you if
you don't call the next day either.
they'll understand
and give you room.
you'll have lots of room
in the next life
to do or not do all the things
you care about.

Friday, March 24, 2017

bye bye

polite
but short. a closed smile.
her lips
lined red,
her eyes
narrowed.
there is nothing left
to be said.
the flight is over.
the engine doused.
polite, but short.
she hands
you your walking
papers,
points to the door,
to the ramp
down,
gently nods
her head and says
bye bye.

what a day it is

what a day it is
to the happy man.
he even has room
in his heart
for strangers
on such a sunny day.
every hair in place,
every step
a step of joy,
a bounce of going
somewhere,
to someplace where she
is.
where love begins
and ends.
even the flowers,
are bold
with color and hope,
not a wilted petal
to behold.
his heart is full
of words he's been
dying to say
and will before
the day is through.
what a day
it is.

i have a horse

i have a horse,
she tells me, i ride
it on sundays
if the weather's good.
it's a Morgan.
she's in her
boots.
knee high, greyed
with dried mud.
her riding pants
are tight.
she slaps the crop in her
hand against her thigh,
adjusts her black
rimmed cap.
she smells of oats
and hay,
of a barn
full of cats
and other horses.
i have a horse,
she says, waiting for
me to say,
that's great, what
a wonderful thing.
she's still waiting.

the right words

this room needs more light.
the walls
need
white, not this grey.
this seal blue.
that picture needs to come
down.
the lamp
could use a new shade.
if I turned the desk
towards the window,
maybe then,
just maybe then
i'll find
the right words to write
to you, and send.

the perfect couple

we were a perfect couple,
the widow
says, buttering her toast,
sipping
her bloody mary.
she moves the yellow
froth of scrambled eggs
around her plate.
we never had an argument,
not once
was a cross word said.
we finished each
other's sentences,
never left or arrived
without a kiss.
we were the envy of the neighborhood,
what with all the divorces,
the cheating and lying.
the mistresses and affairs.
she looks out
the window at the high grass,
a rusted mower in the weeds,
and sighs.
have you ever had a perfect
love, she asks,
with tears
in her eyes. no, I tell
her, not believing a single
word she says. can't say
that I have.
I open another bottle
of vodka and top off
her drink. she says thank
you.

still life

it's a painting
of a pear.
an apple.
life like, catching
the light
from
a window.
a bowl of fruit.
I nod.
nice.
perfect. but it would
be more perfect
if there was a fly
in the painting.
if there was
a soft brown
spot on the pear,
if the grapes
were soured
and flat
off the vine.

calling for pick up

we're calling
to see if you have anything
for pick up,
the elderly woman says over the phone.
no.
I say. you just called two
hours ago.
although I am tired
of this t shirt
I've ben wearing, and my
shoes have thinned
at the sole.
you're welcome to those
if you'd like
to send a truck over tonight.
we'll send one
right away, she says.
talk again tomorrow.

shrimp night

it's all you
can eat shrimp night at Kilroy's.
the floor is slippery.
the air is filled
with the scent of old
bay and vinegar,
plastic buckets full of shells,
beer on tap.
mechanics are there from work,
hands full of grease
in their striped shirts.
secretaries gather like geese
in cheap dresses
sipping on cocktails,
staring into their phones.
no less than twenty
televisions
line the walls, each one
turned to
a different sport.
loudly.
tables and chairs
are neck to neck.
not a clean alley to walk
through. god
forbid if the place
catches fire. outside the sun
still shines.
the sky is blue.
there is fresh air and hope,
but not in here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

friendly lighting

the light
no long flatters us, so
we find
candles to burn,
we dim the bulbs above,
shade
the small lamp
on the table.
draw in the curtain.
block the sun.
we sit
in the far corner
and become
more becoming to one
another
with each drink
sipped
until gone.
daylight is for the young.
we're over
that.

out of water

the fish
out of water, only
wants back
in.
it's the only thing
that concerns
him
when held
in hand,
everything about
him
is trying to get out
from under
this air.
the scales,
the wet slippery
skin,
the arrowed shaped,
all pointing
downward to where
the sea awaits,
to where his life
begins
and ends.

seeing the light

i can see
the light from the upper
window.
a small yellow shaft
divided by bars,
wallows
in and stays
against the high wall.
if i wasn't chained
and shackled
i could reach up
and feel that square
of warmth. let it fold
across my hand,
my face, my
heart,
but for now i'll
just have to imagine
what that might
be like.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

a perfectly good romance

I take it
you're no longer
interested, I say,
forlorn,
holding in my hand
a ring I was about
to give her.
not true, she says.
but why ruin
a perfectly good romance
by trying
to make it last
forever.

it's winter

it's winter,
so we nuild a fire,
sit before it
and play chess.
we drink tea.
we listen
to simon and Garfunkel.
yes. we're that old.
eventually we'll get to it.
to it being
sex.
but for now, we'll talk
quietly
about the past,
about the weather, about
rain
falling
and how children go
to their own lives
leaving us behind.
it's no longer about winning
or losing
one of us will say,
pushing a pawn forward.
it's winter, so we play
chess.

vincent

what's your name,
she asks,
holding the empty
coffee cup up in the air,
a torch to be filled.
she has a sharpie
pen to scribble my name
across the
white curve of the thick
paper cup. (recycled)
jimmy.
I tell her, then say no,
joe.
let's go with joe today.
I feel like
just an ordinary joe.
I can see my reflection
in the toaster over
across the counter,
my plaid shirt buttoned
nearly to the top.
she crosses out jimmy
and writes joe. are you
sure? she says.
wait, I tell her, let
me think for a second.
how about Vincent.
I put a napkin up to my
ear
and hold it there.
I purposely look forlorn
and heartbroken.
but she doesn't get it.
okay, Vincent, she says,
pushing a blue strand of hair
away from her eyes.
she writes Vincent
on the cup
and takes my money.

panning for gold

panning for gold
on my knees along the bank
of the slow
moving stream.
my hands are cold.
red
and raw
from dipping the pan
into the clear
blue water.
I shake free the sand,
the pebbles,
I bite into anything shiny,
holding it up
to the harsh sun.
I've lived without love
before,
I can do it again.

it's her birthday, i think

it's her birthday
again.
I think.
maybe.
I wrote it down somewhere.
flowers?
wine?
a big chunk of jewelry?
a pound
of chocolate?
where is that
note
I wrote telling me
when?
it's her birthday
again,
I think.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

kill me a chicken

if I had to kill
a chicken
or a cow, or even
a rabbit,
I probably wouldn't eat meat.
I'd be
munching on a carrot
or
lettuce,
maybe an apple or two
instead.
i'd be thinner then
perhaps, healthier,
although a little dizzy at times,
but thank god,
that's not how it is,
I say out loud
as I throw in a pack
of rib eyes,
some turkey breasts,
thighs,
and legs.

these days

we share
the same thoughts.
the same
bed, the same cups
and dishes. my fork is yours.
that knife
we cut together.
the air
we breathe comes out
of you,
into me.
and yet, we go our
separate ways.
so hard to tell what
works,
what doesn't
these days.

showers

showers are likely.
just look at the sky.
see
the grey, the thickness,
the low white cottom.
but let's walk anyway
and talk.
we have words to say,
best said
outside.
under this low sky,
on this day.
when showers are likely.

Monday, March 20, 2017

old jeans

the button gone,
the zipper
won't zip. a rip
in the seam,
the pant leg
frayed at the cuff.
thread bare and thin.
it's time
to give in, to
surrender these
comfortable
old jeans.
how they've aged,
like us,
nicely from
the stiff blue
of where they began.

she is the sun

her gravity
is too strong to escape.
she is the sun.
she pulls
me in,
keeps me in her orbit.
just close
enough, just far
enough away.
I can barely move
with this
unseen weight.

going back to bed

a coin flipped
in the air,
a star
wished upon,
a penny thrown
into the well,
the rub
of a rabbit's foot.
the rosary,
bead after bead
with eyes closed,
a chant of some
ancient spell,
what else can
you do to change
the way this day
is going.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

the right words

the wrong wrench
won't turn a bolt,
or nut,
the screw won't budge
without
the right driver,
even wood needs
the right saw to cut
cleanly across the grain.
so are the words you use
with others,
useless,
until you speak
the right ones.

the muddled middle

the world
is not specific
in telling you things.
there is a vagueness
about
history,
tomorrows are fogged.
any clarity found
is a false notion of what
you want to
believe, what
you need to believe
to sleep at night,
to pretend all is well
and live
the role of a normal
life.
pain and joy
have become your touchstones,
the rest is a muddled
middle
of slow quick years.

from where she is

from where she is now,
I wonder if my mother's hand
misses
the curl
of her spatula,
the stiffness of a spoon
to stir,
the feel of an iron
running across
clean clothes. does she
dream
of stews, the sound
of a lid
settling on the pot,
of birthday
cakes, pressing candles
into the icing.
writing each name in script.
is she tucking
us into bed at night,
reading to us still,
folding our
hands together to show
us prayer, turning off
the light.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

a clean room

so much
depends upon
the broom.
what's left behind.
the dust,
the settling of words,
lost love,
good intentions
gone sour.
how quickly I need
to sweep
that room.

what we become

the soft clay of me,
and you,
unkilned,
unpainted or varnished
to a high
gloss.
we are barely spun
on the wheel,
crudely formed
under thick hands,
left to fend for ourselves
to see what
we become.
an image of God,
seems unlikely.

getting around

under stripes
of whitened hair
his eyes are thinly webbed
in a film
of blue.
he smells his way around,
from door edge
to wall, to where the stairs
do down.
nudging paw,
to shoulder.
he doesn't come when called.
parents
and dogs,
we are all heading
in the same direction.

we were younger then

the wobble
of table, a tilted drink,
watered down.
the broken
chair.
the slow service.
we've been here before
eating
cold fried food
and listening to
the loud
music
of a garage band.
but we were younger
then,
much younger,
not a single white
strand of wisdom
in our hair.

the light going out

when the light bulb
behind
you in the pole lamp
explodes for no apparent
reason, throwing
thin shards
of glass everywhere,
you stop reading.
the room is darker
than it was.
out the window a thin
ray of late
light sifts through
the bare trees.
you should pray more
you think,
for things you don't
understand,
for things that happen
for unknown reasons,
not just for the things
you think you need.

without them

how they disappear
into the fog. boarding
these ships, once
bright lights
now fading.
you can almost hear
their voices
behind the splash
and plow of water
against wood
and steel.
the wind in their
sails, catching,
taking them away
from you.
you wave to the blank
white page
of who they were.
stamp your feet on
the cold dock,
fold your hands into
your pockets and go
back to your own life
without them.

slow sand

it's hard to tell anyone
that this will pass.
that this moment of anguish,
this period of pain
will dissolve
and be almost forgotten.
it's hard
to say anything of comfort
when
they're in it.
knee deep in darkness,
sadness,
the pulling slow sand
of their life.

a stone to throw

I could spoil the day
by doing something other than
reading,
sleeping, eating,
writing.
i could go out there
into the damp cold
and remember things
as i walk
alone
through the woods
along the stream.
remembering comes easy
on days like
this, when walking, when
picking up a stick,
a stone to throw.

part of the reason

she takes
her shoes, her blouse, folds
it,
places
them into a small
suitcase.
a tag from united airlines
hangs old
on the handle.
she neatly sets her
jeans inside.
her
toothbrush,
her make up.
her jewelry, most of which
was given to
her by other men
than me.
and that's just part
of the reason
she needs
to leave.

Friday, March 17, 2017

waiting for morning

from nearby rooms you
hear
the sound
of others making love.
the hotel
walls
are thin, each
room
set the same with television,
chair
and bed.
the same shades are drawn,
the same picture
of a snow capped mountain
adorns one wall.
you lie there
and listen, and think
of places you
have been.
the places you want to go
to escape you.
in time the love making
stops,
as it will,
so you close your eyes
and wait for
morning.


missing

they are dragging
the lake,
the small lagoon, man
made,
for someone.
someone is missing.
we stand around with our
coffee,
smoking,
chattering in whispers
behind the yellow tape,
awaiting
a body,
cold and whitened
in shallow pool.
the men in their boats
stab
gently at the bottom,
pull heavy nets from side
to side,
over and over
again as the water turns
from morning black
to sunny blue.
they find nothing,
not a single hat, or glove,
or purse,
so we go our ways.
some of us have things
to do.

a world of plenty

neither full
or half full, or even
empty.
cupless is a whole
other thing to reason
with.
to be happy
without
is more than anyone
can ask for
in a world of plenty.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

sword fight

it was not exactly a
battle of
wits.
she seemed to be
completely unarmed,
which wasn't fair,
or fun.
so I said
nothing after the first
flurry
of barbs
and jabs. it's hard
to watch
someone bleed,
then make it worse,
by saying more
and doing more harm.

the chicken soup cure

every winter
you hear it. chicken noodle soup.
get yourself
some chicken
soup with noodles. hot
chicken soup.
that's the cure,
that will knock the cold
right out of you.
get an iv
and hook it up to a
chicken.
a hot boiled chicken
with carrots
and celery.
drink tea,
get some sleep.
stay home and rest.
a hot bath.
a cold compress.
but it's all about the chicken
soup.
I can see my mother now
carrying a bowl
to me
on the bottom bunk.
crackers on the side.
thermometer in hand.
open wide
she says
and let me put it under
your tongue.
yup.
you have a fever. eat
this chicken soup.

take a bite

it's a grocery
store
of love,
or like, or something
resembling
both, or neither, hard
to tell
in these flickering
fluorescent lights
what's real,
what's
fake,
what's soft and ripe.
take these tomatoes
for example,
or these peppers.
who's to know how
hot or juicy
they really are,
until a bite is taken.

running late

there is somewhere
that I need
to be.
a place where someone
waits.
where they look
at a clock
and out the window,
watching
for my arrival.
it's nice
to wanted and waited
for.
it hasn't always been
that way,
or will be
in the future,
but for now.
i'm on my way, just
running late,
as usual.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

her cheating heart

she cheats at cards,
at dice.
if you blink, she'll rob
you blind.
her hands are fast
and slight,
her mind
a supple whip of deception.
it's hard to know
what's bluff,
what's true.
by the end
of the night she'll
have all
the chips,
then me, then you.

going south

I see a bird
with a small over night bag
under his
wing.
hat on,
sunglasses.
sandals.
where to I ask him.
florida he says.
I can't take it anymore.
I nearly broke
my beak
on a worm the other
day.

the lining

spring
will come
and we will be done
with this.
the world
will melt
and the sun
will rise yellow
and bright.
but until then,
come closer
and
kiss me.
keep me warm,
as I will do you.
it's not all a
bad thing,
this winter
storm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

restless leg

her leg
shakes in her sleep,
all night,
stirs
up the blanket,
the sheets.
if her
foot was in a tub
of milk
we'd have
butter by morning.

to their own world

these are different children.
one
off alone,
picking flowers.
others on the wheel,
three on swings,
the seesaw holding two.
how quickly that sun
goes down.
the sky
flowered in pink,
violet,
blue.
these are different
children now.
ours have grown,
have
gone to where they need
to be without me,
without you.

black and white

the wall, unsquared,
is dry
and old,
a single nail
holds a photo in place,
framed
in black.
it's me and you,
from years ago.
it's my favorite photo
of my favorite
year
with my favorite love
of my
life, it's time I
told you
before you're gone
for good.

Monday, March 13, 2017

repent

all morning
i listen to the radio station.
the religious
station,
where one after another,
all day,
a different preacher
comes on
to make me feel bad
about my life.
there is a sermon about
marriage,
about consumption,
about lust,
about materialism.
by four o'clock
i realize how much of a
sinner i am,
and how i need to repent,
be kinder.
to care about everyone,
not just the people
i'm unfortunately
related to, but also
to the annoying strangers
i meet on the street,
or who drive behind me
tailgating
in their cars.

will spray ink if broken

i left the store
with the thief protector
still
in tact, stuck
firmly on my pant leg
by some insidious
unseen way.
no bells rang,
no clerk chased me to my
car.
no security guard
tackled me
in the parking lot
with his snarling dog.
i raise a hammer
to the plastic disc,
but stop,
seeing the ink well
that will burst if
i break it in two.
i don't even remember
what store i bought
these pants at, or
where to bring them to,
to have
this thing removed.
maybe i'll just wear them
as is,
start a trend.
be cool.

the grey coat

this zipper
will not pull, neither up
nor down.
it's stuck
in place
around three inches
from my neck.
I will wear this coat
forever it seems.
warm in the winter,
sweating all
summer.
I will sleep in it.
wear it to the beach.
I will be known as
the man
in the coat.
the grey coat
with the stuck zipper.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

back to nature

three eggs are cracked
of the brown
dozen.
the lettuce is already
brown,
just ten minutes
from found to car,
to here.
the bread too, is stale.
hard
as toast.
I turn the apple
to the unwormed side
and bite
down.
I look out at my small
square of yard
and imagine
alfalfa, a chicken,
a tree with fruit,
a cow.

postcard from here

i'm pushed
into this corner.
a single chair.
a small window where a circle
of blue appears.
the black stripe of bird.
the silhouette of
a leaf.
I can see the seasons
change
from here,
as another year
passes,
pushed into a corner,
going nowhere,
that much is clear.

starvation

a loaf
of bread will keep
you alive
for awhile.
water.
a piece of fruit.
but
without love,
the light
will go
off and a cold wind
will
circle your
soul
for years
to come until you
fade
from where you lie,
skin and bones.

unsaved

it's
just one duck,
one feathered, billed
small
beast
in the woods
now stuck
by weeds.
he struggles to free
himself
in the cold
water.
the tangle holding
firm
as he pulls and pulls,
trying to
fly away.
his wings flap hard,
but he
goes nowhere.
he makes no sound
other than the splash
of him
trying to free
himself.
he's too far out
for you to go in.
there is no stick
long enough,
there is no saving him
or everyone, for
that matter.
you walk on
with some degree
of sadness,
confirmed by what you've
always known.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

let's go on a hike

let's go on a hike
today, she says, as I hide
behind
yesterdays news,
holding a newspaper
in front of my face.
let's climb a mountain,
it'll be fun.
the fresh air.
it's such a nice sunny
day,
brisk. a good day
for a hike up a mountain.
we haven't done something
like that in ages.
I rattle the paper.
did you see this story about
the rabid fox
who bit a lady on
the leg
and arm the other day.
she's having those shots
now.
a three week series
of long needles stuck in
her stomach.
where did it happen?
right along the path
in the woods leading up
the mountain.
oh, she says,
but not discouraged.
maybe we can wear thick
clothes and boots,
leather gloves.
we can get a pointy stick
to shoo them off if we're
attacked.
come on. we can stop and get
coffee on the way.

getting my attention

carelessly
I touch the burner
of the stove.
a blister rises
on two fingers.
I run cold water onto
them.
I wave them in the air
and say a few
words about
God.
it's strange how he knows
how to get
my attention.

the approaching fog

she forgot to turn
off the stove.
left her keys in the door.
misbuttoned her
blouse.
she was slipping slowly
into
a grey fog.
she asked
the same questions ten
minutes after
hearing the answers.
she asked
about the weather.
is it snowing there?
three miles away,
distancing herself
from this world
and you,
a little more each day.

vodka tonics

these birds outside the window.
busy
with their world.
chattering
amongst themselves.
they care little that I lie
inside
still in bed,
the cotton
of vodka
still in my mouth.
I feel the drum of my
heart
going up the vines
of me.
water, aspirin, a hot
shower
and a vow
to never again, drink more
than one
or two
strong drinks, upon
my lips.

get to it

splash
your paint upon the canvas,
do it not
for them, but for
you,
don't listen to applause,
or voices of
complaint,
spin
the yarn
and weave,
take a pen
to ink the words
within you.
chisel that block of
stone
into what you
believe is true.
sing, or dance, make
music,
make love.
leave nothing
behind, or left
inside.

Friday, March 10, 2017

if i go now

if I go now
I can beat the traffic.
i'm going
against traffic
anyways, but you never
know.
one flat tire, one
fender bender
one eager cop
with a radar gun
and it's a two hour
drive
not one.
if I get out of bed
and go
now, I can make it,
beat the traffic,
be on top
of things.
that would surprise
everyone.

the end is near

our islands
are shrinking. the places
we go to
to get away
are smaller each day.
ice bergs are half the size
they once were
as they break free
and float away.
the palm trees
are brown,
the fruit has fallen,
the sea washes up
whales that have
given up.
it's hard to find a book
to read
that you don't throw
across the room.
you click and click
the channels
finding little to ease
this feeling
of impending doom.

waiting on you

we are an impatient lot.
wanting
the line
to speed up.
the light to change,
for that man
pushing a stroller
to get across the road.
we
want love
on a platter,
quick service, money
too.
we want to know
the answers
now, without
reading, or thinking
things through.
we are an impatient lot,
I say out loud to no one,
as I sit in the car,
with the engine running,
waiting once
more for you.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

let's worry

tomorrow comes.
it goes. it becomes a memory.
so much worry
was put into it,
and for what?
it's already done
and gone.
let's concentrate now
on the next day, the next
tomorrow.
let's toss and turn,
pull our hair out over
that,
see where it gets us.

the pounds

it's an inch
here, a pound there.
a walk
around the block,
a five k run
that keeps you from being
who you want to be.
one more sit up,
one more pull up,
one more day without
bread
or milk,
or meat.
perhaps then i'll
be liked
and loved
and will live happily ever
after, be free
of what's become of me.

i'm sorry

stale
bread, milk gone
sour.
a line
of ants marching
from the sugar bowl.
things
have fallen apart
since she
departed.
she even took her
cook book
and crock pot,
not to mention,
the cork screw
and directions to
turning on
the oven.
I should call her
and say
i'm sorry.

the green holiday

a drunk
in a green hat
with what looks like the fillings
of loaded
potato skins splashed
on his shirt
is sleeping on the steps
of your porch.
he's lost.
his hand
is stamped with a shamrock
from
wherever he was
last night.
there is green drizzle
on his lips,
and chin.
he opens his eyes as you
spray him
with the garden hose.
this awakens him.
he opens his mouth
to accept the spray of cold
water,
then sings some irish
song
as he gathers himself
to stand up,
and stagger off.

the container

it's a hard lid
to get off.
factory sealed with a tough
thin ridge
of plastic
that won't spin
or bend or
break.
you try to open
it with your bare
hands at first,
spinning left
then right,
but you don't have that
kind of inhuman strength.
you get a knife.
a pair of pliers.
a wrench out of your car.
you run
hot water over it,
then cold,
you bang it against
the counter.
tap a hammer along
the circumference.
it doesn't budge.
you call your mother, who
comes over
and peels a thin
strip off
along the side of the container,
she opens it
with her dainty fingers.
there, she says.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

twitter

i'm worried about you, she says.
watching
me as I scramble an egg
into a bowl.
why?
I say, dropping a pad
of irish butter into
the black
frying pan.
why are you worried about
me?
because you don't worry
enough.
you don't even follow twitter.
did you even see
what he tweeted today?
nope, what?
you stand here making eggs
in your socks
while
the world is crumbling
out side.
I look out the window.
is today trash day, by the way?

the inbetween

we are born into
this world against our will,
and will
mostly like
leave
in the same way.
the in between seems to be
up to us,
but even that is unsure
when you throw in fate,
and prayer,
luck.

love

not everything is for keeps.
not this
coat,
or hat,
this car outside my door.
the book I just put down.
not even the tree
bending in the wind
in the yard.
there is no keeps.
except for one,
which goes
beyond this life into
the next.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

the mother and child

the mother,
spoon feeds her child.
what is that.
carrot mush?
squash?
she can't take her eyes
of this new
baby,
fresh out of the oven.
she brushes the baby's
thin hair.
pushes a blanket in
around her.
the baby can't
take her eyes of
the mother.
they are as blue as the earth
is when
standing on
the moon.
it begins,
and goes on like this
forever.

the check up

my doctor,
my lover, takes my pulse
after
kissing me.
she says, I see no increase
in
heart beat,
no rapid breathing.
are you losing interest,
she says.
telling me to stick
out my tongue.
she raps my knee with
a wine
glass, making my leg
lurch forward.
your reflexes are fine,
she says.
i'm just worried about
your heart.

driving in pg county

by law
in Maryland, there is a stretch
of highway
between
the Wilson bridge
and college park
where you are not allowed
to stay in
one lane for more than
thirty seconds.
you are obligated to switch
lanes continuously
until you reach your exit
or crash. by state law,
you are not permitted to use
a turn signal once.
tail gaiting
is mandatory too, as is
doing seventy five
or beyond
in the fifty five zone.
suv's with blackened windows
are allowed to flash
their lights
and bully
everyone smaller to the side,
coming to within inches
of hitting
the bumper of the cars
in front of them.
please drive accordingly
once
in p.g. county.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

my well patients

when I became a doctor,
I didn't know what I was getting into
with all of these
sick and whining people.
calling me night and day
for a prescription.
they sit in the waiting room,
nervously drinking coffee,
itching at their arms
or the sides of their neck.
some are limping,
some are worried about getting
a shot,
or having to be probed
for a lump
somewhere.
my daddy had a lump just like
that, they say.
I like my well patients.
the happy ones, with nothing
wrong. with good jobs,
and good insurance. I like
how they come in
and bring me donuts
and we chat about a vacation
as I check their perfect
blood pressure
once again.

looking for an answer

i'm tired of the farm.
of each
cow, each pig and chicken,
tired of them
looking me
in the eye for answers.
is today
the day you eat me,
they ask?
maybe, is my answer,
as I bend over
to gather eggs, squeeze
out another glass
of milk.
maybe.

say nothing

how kind
we are to not say what
we want
to say.
to turn that cheek
and swallow
our words,
though bitter sweet.
how nice
we are to go our
separate ways,
to leave the room,
to keep silent,
to say nothing
we'll regret
the following day.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

his shoes

when he left,
he left behind his shoes,
lined on the steps.
shoes for work,
for mowing,
shoes for sunday,
for painting
the back fence.
did he not see them
as he carried his
suitcase
down to leave.
was there no room
to pack them?
or were they left to
tell us something.
to remind us
of what we had to fill
with him no longer
there.

the lost stories

Hemmingway
was probably angered
when his
wife, Hadley,
lost his
suitcase full of short
stories
in the Gare, a train
station
in Paris.
they were new,
his only copies.
did he yell, or throw
things.
did he threaten
her with divorce,
or did he take her
in his arms,
wipe her
tears way with his
large hands,
then get back to it,
after they drank the sorrow
down.

the slow melt

the glacier of you,
of us,
moving
slowly across the world,
from one
time zone
to the next.
we've known each other
for eons,
I remember
when dinosaurs
ruled the world.
i'm still waiting for
the sun
to move closer,
for you to melt,
but i'm not holding my
breath.

Friday, March 3, 2017

jesus, i'm tired

jesus, i'm tired, I say
to no one.
lifting my leg up to remove
a crusted boot.
Christ, i'm weary,
I murmur,
staring at the shadowed
cross
I've nailed
to the far wall
beside the picture of trees.
I slide off my
pants, remove my
shirt, letting them fall
to the floor.
I sit on the edge of the bed
and look
at my father's hands.
I want to think
that it's a good tired,
but I can't
say that.
instead I lie back and let
sleep
become me.

the babble of poetry

I cringe at poetry.
I can hardly
get through a single poem
in poetry magazine
before cursing
and throwing the worshiped
tomb
across the room.
Bukowski is rolling
in his grave.
drunk, perhaps, with a whore
beside him,
but still
writing, still believing
that there is more
truth to be told
and a better
way to say it,
than that babble.

the learning curve

I've set aside
most science, most math,
most biology.
it's somewhere in me,
in the attic
of my brain.
I studied so hard to put
it there.
to give it room,
to memorize
such things as the bones
of a body,
the periodic table,
the planets
in order of distance
from the sun.
how many nights did I sit
with pencil
and paper
and solve equations?
what good is that now?
those answers, with
me sitting here
on this bench
wondering if you really
love me.

the white shoe

I have
your shoe in my hand.
just one.
it's white.
it's empty without
your foot in it.
it's going nowhere
without you.
i'll keep it for a while,
until you call
and ask,
have you seen my other
shoe?
it's white.

at the gate

you linger
at the gate, the line
of black cars
snaking
in between the stones
etched
with beginnings
and endings.
the sun tilts
against the trees,
dapples the manicured
lawns,
brushes gold
against cut flowers
dropped or thrown.
who are we praying for,
who has
ears
to listen, or the time,
to understand
what any of this
means.
you go in. that's
what we do
in times of grief.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

going to california

on our way to California
in 1969,
we pushed
the stalled car to the corner.
to the edge of our
neighborhood.
the engine
wouldn't turn.
a liquid oozed out
from below.
we looked at one another,
pushed back our
long hair, and said,
what now?
there are so many
places to go in this
universe,
but we can't
always get there.

one night camping

we camped too low,
too close
to the river. my brother
and I,
a stray friend.
the three of us
in a pup tent.
we ate beans, for dinner.
boiled on a campfire.
not a good idea
for three young
boys
lying beside one another,
snug and cold
as the rain began
to fall.
we don't ever talk about
that night,
which is a good thing.

the candle

this candle
with a long wick,
sturdy
on the dish, thick
and round,
white wax,
burns bright for now.
it gives
me light to read by,
allows
me to see you sleeping
soundly
upon the sheets.
such small pleasures
are welcome
in these days and nights
without power,
the harsh world
just beyond the walls.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

is it blood or beet juice

all the beets
I've been eating over the last
four days
has me worried.
things are not the color
they should be.
is it blood, or is it
beet juice.
if it's blood,
I need to write a will
quickly,
if it's beet juice,
hey.
what are you doing
later?

if i had a man

if I had a man,
then, and finally then,
i'll be happy, she tells
me on the phone
as she uncorks
a bottle of chardonnay.
why don't men like me?
i'm smart, i'm
attractive, I have a great
job,
my kids are all gone,
i'm not in debt and don't
have any major illnesses,
what's wrong with me?
what?
I ask her,
I was just fanning the smoke
alarm
because I burned
some pizza slices
in the oven?
damn cheese caught fire.
what were you saying?

lady in a wig

I don't believe
in putting too much thought
into dreams.
the one about
swimming in deep
blue water, the waves,
the dark
sky,
someone chasing me
in a wig
with a knife
when I get out of the water.
she's laughing too.
why is she laughing.
always laughing and my feet
are so heavy,
unable to get away.

a day off

it's nice
to have a day off.
a free
day to do nothing.
but then nothing becomes
something.
that stack of bills on the table.
cleaning.
dusting.
changing the sheets
and doing a load or two
of laundry.
there's
the car that needs inspection,
and changing
the battery
that keeps beeping.
I should
read a book, or go to a movie,
or call up
ginger
and see if she'd like
to arm wrestle.

her other side

there were meals,
despite the groans
from us hungry children,
that my mother
would cook anyway,
out of spite,
I think.
liver and onions, for one.
split pea
soup for another.
tuna casserole. god help us.
together we'd shake our
heads and bang our forks
against the table in
protest, then eat,
slowly,
painfully, which she
seemed to enjoy,
showing a side of her
that I really didn't want
to know about.