Sunday, April 30, 2017

no fun anymore

i can't eat carnival
food like i used to
when i was ten, i tell
ruby, my new girlfriend
who loves amusement parks.
the deep fried twinkies,
hot dogs,
the tall whipped loaf
of cotton
candy, the peanut brittle
and caramel
it all comes out
when i get on the ferris
wheel, or look at the scrambler
winding about.
i can't even go into
the fun house anymore, i
tell her,
and see myself
in the wavy mirror,
or walk on the tilted floor.
she laughs as she eats
her giant sour dough pretzel
covered in mustard
and says,
you're no fun anymore,
and she's right.

special needs

she has three cats,
two dogs,
a horse,
a bird. goldfish.
there's hardly any room for me.
sure I get
fed and brushed,
petted, but I feel
left out
most of the time,
unlike all those
other creatures,
I have special

the curve ball

I could never hit
the curve ball. i'd always
step out,
or duck. it fooled
me every time I was at
the plate.
I still can't figure
out the curves coming.
the one's not involving
a baseball.
i'm still shy at the plate,
something easy down
the middle, fat and slow,
something I can connect
on and hit it out,
but no.

dorchester street

the old street looks same.
the thick
telephone poles still up,
the licorice lines
of wires still
strung from
side to side,
a thin painted line,
is still there, the flat
roofed duplexes,
red bricked boxes
with casement windows,
all there.
scrub brush and weeds.
no ac, no wind passing
the screen doors
keeping the bugs out.
someone on the porch.
washing a car.
someone looking out
a window
waiting for things
to change. a dog is
still barking.

a simple recipe

it's a simple recipe,
one you don't need to look
you can do it in your sleep.
a cup of affection,
three spoons
of sugar,
stir in a cup
of love.
let it bake and cool,
or take
it warm, a slice
or two, depending
on her mood.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

right there, to the left

after a while
you don't really need a mirror.
why look?
people will tell you
there is lettuce
in your teeth, meringue
on your upper lip.
a blemish where there was
none yesterday.
a wild hair
out of place.
red sauce on your shirt.
people are good that way,
pointing things out
about you
that are in disarray.

making friends

he was a nice hold
up man,
mugging me on the street.
well dressed,
nice shoes,
polished and clean.
he looked like
he just had a hair cut
and a shave.
he told me to put my
hands into the air.
I told him I was tired,
I had just had
a long day.
he said, okay, just one
arm then. you can
put the other one
I told him I only had
a twenty
and needed bus fare,
so he broke
the twenty and gave
me a ten back.
i'm meeting him for lunch
his treat, he says.
we're friends now.

wild flowers

the flowers grow
despite me.
how many years ago
did I spread
the seeds of wild
and blue, rose colored,
upon the dirt
and weeds.
their resilience
and beauty
surprise me.
what else can I do
without trying?

the yellow bird

strange to see
this bright yellow bird
the trees,
with the dull browned
and black
all eyes are on her.
how jealous they must
be, watching,
as she flies,
fluttering her golden
how they must talk
behind her back, saying
things like
just who does she
think she is?

Friday, April 28, 2017

i guess that's it

I am awakened in the middle
of the night
by the neighbors making love.
pedestrian love.
the picture on my wall
shimmies on the nail, just
slightly, but
it startles me,
having never heard a word,
a single word
from either of them
the entire time
they've lived there.
no television, no music,
nothing but silence.
and now this,
the symphony of bedsprings
and the steady
rap of a headboard
against our shared wall.
thirty seconds later. it's over.
the dog sits up and looks
in that direction,
turning his head, as dogs
are prone to do, then looks
at me.
it's okay, I tell him,
I guess that's it.
go back to sleep.

i like her cherry pie

i didn't like
the picture of her wound
with the bandage off
that she posted on facebook.
it sort of made
me ill. however i did
like the pie she posted
the very next day. both
liked, and actually liked.
it's a cherry pie,
with the crisscross
I can almost smell it
the glass, taste its tart
cherries in
my mouth.
shame she lives in seattle
and i'm here.
I like her
cherry pie and would
like a slice
right now.
i vote for more pie
and less open wounds.

grape vine

it's a grapevine
of sorts,
sisters and brothers
the vine,
where news and information,
trickles down
in some diluted
and twisted form.
maybe it's true,
maybe not.
I let it in though,
and roll
it around
the box, sift it
facts, if any exist,
then nod,
and say, oh isn't that

the party

I can't decide what to wear
to the costume
I don't feel like a pirate,
a cop, or
a magician.
I could throw a sheet
over me
and be a ghost,
or put fangs in my
mouth and look
for blood, a neck
to bite. but no.
I can't pretend.
i'm lost.
I don't even feel like me

hot soup

I burn the tip of
my tongue
on the hot soup.
she shakes her head
and says
I told you it was hot,
that you
had to blow on the spoon.
you don't listen,
do you?
everything I say goes
in one ear
and out the other.
she's right, I hear
but I don't listen
sometimes, like

what's coming

it's your turn,
you're next in line to get
what everyone
else will get,
to get what's coming
to you,
eventually, all in good
the line gets shorter
each with his hands
cupped to take
what's coming
and there's no stopping

Thursday, April 27, 2017


I like
the calm person.
the unhurried soul, who sits
with hands
eyes still,
body in a cat like
the soul is quiet.
I can see
the placid sea within.
the aura
of blue around
the white halo.
they want nothing of
you. nothing of me,
they have found a way
to know that what
they have,
is all that they need.

five hail marys

you want to be a good person.
truly you do.
but sin
gets in the way.
menial sins for the most
part, nothing
to write home about, but
even a small pebble in a shoe
will make
you stumble and fall.
confession helps
and is good for the soul,
but embarrassing too.

spice cake

if our relationship
was a cake in the oven.
it would be a spice
cake, very hot,
and uneven as it rises
in the pan.
I can smell it and
almost taste it before
it's fully baked,
and the doorbell rings.


i find it strange,
women's infatuation and love
for horses,
as they must do
us men for cars
and sports. yes, there
are lines
even men like to ice
and dance on occasion.
none that i know of,
but I've heard tales
of such things.
and there are women who race
and can lift enormous
weights over
their heads, their
necks and shoulders
bulging with veins,
most of these women
scare me, as do the dancing
men, for some
deep reason, best left
to be discussed on a couch
with a doctor.

first kiss

I can remember
many things that have no use
to me now.
the periodic table.
mickey mantle's
life time batting average.
I carry them with
me like I might
chap stick, or
gum, or a map in
the glove compartment
of my car,
never to be used or needed
I remember kissing
the girl
next door, Karen
for the very first time
when I was nine.
I think about it quite
and yet, what good is it
now, to know
and remember that
feeling, that tingling
of first infatuation?
hard to call it
love at that age,
but it seemed to be so.

the nerve of you

your family,
being Italian
on your mother's side,
can hold a grudge like no other
family you
know of.
uncles don't talk for decades.
sisters have forgotten
what the fight was
all about, but still
are silent and cold
to one another.
god forbid you call anyone
out on
their behavior.
they turn it into a scene
from the godfather.
you're dead to me, they say.
how dare you tell me to stop
lying, cheating,
and being an unscrupulous
human being.
the nerve of you.
from now on, we're nothing.
it's a shame.

tell us how we're doing

just a pinch
and a burn, won't be but
a second.
hold still while I slice
little blemish off the top
of your egg like
we'll send it to the lab
and see what gives.
i'm sure it's nothing,
or maybe it's the prelude
to an early death.
either way,
you have to pay your
copay on the way out.
we'll send you a survey
to tell us how we're doing.

the pain in the neck

there's a pain
in your neck, no, it's
your mother or ex wife,
or the neighbor
who bangs on the wall,
it's something else
that aspirin or vodka
won't touch.
it's a deep throbbing
unkind thing.
it's something that needs
a long trip
to some tropical
isle with
ginger to make it go

can i come with you?

i'm leaving you,
she says, it's over.
i'm breaking up
for a nicer person,
a better lover.
someone that makes
more money, lives
in a bigger house
and has
an expensive car.
he has a pool in his
back yard
and belongs to the country
his staff includes a maid,
a butler
and a cook
and an on call massage
i'm sorry if this breaks
your heart,
but i'm going now. see ya.
wait, wait a minute.
can I come with you?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

we need to see your papers

with a clip board
in hand,
two brown shirt neighbors
goose step
the courts. pointing at
a sticker expired,
a gutter loose,
a shutter that needs
what's that bag of trash
doing out early
on the stoop?
that dog
needs to stop barking,
he needs a muzzle
and to be on a leash.
who told you
you could change locks,
or a door knocker?
turn the music down.
pay your dues on time.
your car is on the line.
we need to come in,
check your smoke alarms,
have a look around.

sweet nothings

she cancels
again and again.
it's the rain, her cat,
an ache,
a broken heel,
a family matter,
or spat. she's
trying to tell
you something, but
you are too dumb
to know what it means.
she kisses you
on the cheek,
sometimes she'll even
pat you on
the back and shake
your hand
as if the deal is done.
the sweet nothings
are just that now.


the doors were locked.
were on tables in the unlit
room. a dusty cavern.
silent now.
the sign said.
how could this be?
the place
that held so many memories,
now shut down.
the building about
to be razed.
we press our faces
to the glass
and see twenty years
gone by.
there's you, there's
me, at the end
of the bar,
to be happy. where to

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


the house
waits for us when we leave,
and locking
the door behind.
the dishes
still in the sink,
the clothes in
the dryer.
the bed unmade. things
are just the way
you like
them. disordered.
even the couch,
the curve of you still
where the pillows
the blanket unfolded.
the glass
on the table, half full.

it'll be fun

I warn my neighbor
about going up into a hot air balloon.
the colorful striped
ones with a huge
basket to hold twenty
lost souls.
I show him
pictures of them
caught in the power lines,
or trees,
dangling in flames,
the bodies tumbling
to the hard earth,
cameras in hand,
the horror, but do they
listen, no.
they go, they ask me to go
they tell me how much fun
it will be to be high up
in the air.
they were good neighbors.
I miss them.

my friends across the sea

my friends, my late
night friends who call at
all hours
are kind and gentle souls,
introducing themselves
by their first names,
Andrew, Sandra, Freddie
and james, though
they mispronounce mine,
despite our familiarity.
they have such deals
on pills
and things, windows,
and trips to the beach.
they want my car to be
under an umbrella insurance.
they want me to never
be let down
during a romantic activity.
they want the best for
me, my friends
across the sea.

no more

there isn't anymore.
you shake
the box,
empty the crumbs from
a bag,
pour a drop or
two from
the bottle. all day,
you thought
about it,
that one bite, or
but there isn't anymore.
even you,
won't give me a kiss

Monday, April 24, 2017


we are busy people.
we hardly
have time to pick up
the phone to call,
to visit,
to drop in and say hello.
no one sits
on the porch to wile
away the hours.
we are caught up
in our wind,
our own cyclone
of things to do,
how important we have
our schedules tight,
our time
being money, the minutes

iowa girl

she misses iowa.
corn fields.
long flat stretches
of nothing.
dirt roads
and fences.
she misses the weathervane
on the barn roof.
the chimes
on the porch.
singing in the church
every one she ever knew
praying in their
she misses her mother
in a long dress
standing at the window
as she boarded
the bus
to take her here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

look in my purse

it was an adventure
to go into my mother's purse.
we'd ask if she had any gum
and she'd say
look in my purse.
I remember it being deep
and wide,
white plastic with a gold
clasp, almost
too heavy to lift.
she slept beside it.
it had long worn straps
so she could lug
it around when shopping.
it seemed bottomless.
gum and candy,
Kleenex. rosary beads.
mints. loose change.
pills of all sorts, floating
free like white
rings, bracelets, hand creams,
lipstick and mascara.
a ball of keys were in there
too, although what they
went to
who knows. we never locked
the door and we
didn't have a car
for years.
there was iodine and salt
band aids. kotex?
an extra set of glasses.
broken frames,
without lenses. rubber bands
and string.
there was a short list
of names and phone numbers.
laminated on a white
sheet of paper.
sometimes there was gum, too.
her favorite.

the clocks

we have these
the baby clock,
i'm getting old,
i'd better hurry.
the job
school and moving out.
the train waiting.
the alarm.
tick tick tick.
the clock
of height, of weight,
of marriage.
of going somewhere
we've never been
it ticks from the first
second of birth
and never ends
even at death we hear
the slow familiar
tick in our ears.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

who lives here?

why so many
of food.
the expiration
dates smudged smooth.
soups and stews.
so many boxes of pancake
mix, prunes?
what's with
all the parmesan cheese
and bottles
of ketchup,
dried bay leaves.
who lives here,
who bought these
and put them there?
what's up
with the apricot

the march for science

being the activist that I am,
i decide to march down
Pennsylvania avenue
for earth day.
i love the earth
and no longer pour
oil down the storm drains
when working on my
four barrel carb chevy
camarro with dual exhausts
and baby moons.
I like
the sun, air, water,
and a hot pastrami sandwich
from Katz's deli in new York city,
who doesn't?
i put on my lab coat,
which is really a deli
coat, but they look almost
the same, except for the splotches
of blood and pickle juice.
I pull out my childhood
microscope from the attic
and my son's place mat periodic
table, which I make into a hat.
I wipe off an old petri dish then
tape a dead frog
to it, one that i find
on the side of the road
because of all
the rain, stepped on
by the throng of other
marchers, rabid in their pursuit
of cleaner air and soy milk,
I can see the imprint
of a wide earth
shoe on his swollen little belly.
he had a good life, and
now, this dead fat
frog will be
dedicated to this march.
to saving the earth,
he will be a martyr
for the cause.
I hold him up as we march along
the policed lined road,
chanting hell
no, we won't go
and one two three four
we don't want your stinking
war, until
someone reminds me that
those were chants from the 60's
to end the war
in Vietnam. oops, my
bad I say. it's been awhile
since I've been out here.
I press on
in the rain, holding up
my frog, his stretched out
suction cup arms and legs
taped to the petri dish.
surprisingly though he's
blinking his eyes now
and seems to be okay.
startled and confused
as most frogs are, but okay.
hold on little buddy,
I tell him,
only eight more blocks to go.

Friday, April 21, 2017

a circle of friends

we were fatherless boys,
or maybe it was the time we
were in, the late sixties,
the early seventies.
that's what comes to mind now,
so many years later,
it gives reason to why we bonded
in loyal groups, in rooms
or basements where we smoked
and drank,
passed around weak strains of
awful pot, home grown.
the fathers were not around
and the mothers never knocked
on the shut doors. they were
happy to know where we were.
work, or women not their wives
and alcohol kept
the fathers at bay, away from teaching
us anything, not that they could.
maybe that was part of it too.
they didn't know what to say to
young men without
direction. go to school,
get a job, any job, do something,
anything, what more was there
to say. what direction did
they have, and now it was
their turn to pass nothing along.
we evaded the war
that dragged on, hoping it would
end before our number was
called. our minds were on
girls mostly, sex and sports,
tonight, not tomorrow, tomorrow
was too far away.
so many summers we
listened to music with the door
closed, the weekends going
slowly by, like some old
river, waiting for us to jump
into and swim away.
some of us in time, did,
some didn't and still remain.


there's a certain age
when teens
want to sound like gangsta
my nieces and nephews were
all this way.
despite being pasty white
like flour.
it was impossible to have
a conversation
without the word yo
being tossed in for emphasis,
or some strange linguistic
every other word was a curse.
they all had big speakers
in their cars and wore
thick chains around their
neck. piercings of noses
and tongues were present
at the thanksgiving table.
yo, uncle joe, pass me the gravy,
followed by some hand
sign across their chest.
one's a teacher now, prim
and proper, married with
children, another is in the
navy, a chief, no less.
but a couple are still driving
around the hood,
bobbing their heads to
the music, talking about
how the man is keeping
them down.

we can help you

we can desensitize you from
the doctor says.
no longer will you have
this allergy.
you come in for a few days
and we
give you a lot of aspirin,
very heavy doses. big
round pills.
if you don't
bleed out, or suffocate
from the constriction of
your lungs, or have a stroke,
which is rare, mind you,
you'll be cured
and will no longer
have to worry about
taking aspirin. so, let
me know when you have a few
free days. we can set
up an appointment to almost
kill you.

no such luck

she was stingy with her
making love was an annual
her purse
had cobwebs on it
from lack of being opened.
she'd yell at you to go left,
go left go left
as you drove her somewhere,
but you held
the door and massaged
her neck, you
brushed lint off
the back of her black
you buttoned her up
and told
her how nice she looked.
she was too beautiful
for her own good
but you, being an optimist,
thought she'd
come around,
no such luck.

the next life

we wait
to go out to sea.
leaving the dock
we wave to the strangers
below, as they see
us off.
the ship sounds its horn.
we are wearing white.
we have hats on to keep
the sun off our faces.
we stand at the rail and watch
as the land
recedes, the gulls follow
as far as they can go,
then turn back.
there is nothing left
to see.
everything that was there,
is gone, soon,
there is only water.
we have arrived.

stay home

I used to ask her, plead
with her to take
a vacation, to go somewhere.
have fun and see the world.
perhaps the eastern shore,
or further north, or south,
anywhere, but here.
but she said no.
I have my home, my garden.
my friends, my children,
my dog.
I know what's out there
and have no desire to see
anymore and go.
it took some time, but
I understand it now.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

the white

you dream
of nothing,
of white.
of an endless white
it's not heaven,
or hell.
it's something else.
that needs to be filled
you die.
the in between years
called life.

the sale

the salesman at the door is
his satchel
sits near his worn
brown shoes. it's raining.
what i say, opening the door,
what is it?
he takes off his hat
and begins to speak, but
it doesn't matter, he says,
you're busy. you look
like a man who has everything.
i'll just be on my way.
i'm sorry to have bothered you.
wait, I tell him. what
are you selling?
he picks up his satchel,
the weight of it pulling
on his arm.
it's okay, he says, i'll just
be on my way.
my wife is waiting for me.
my kids.
it's been a long day.
I need to get home, get out
of the rain.
he starts to walk away, then
stops, looks back, hoping,
but it's too late, he
watches as I close the door,
and turn the porch light off.


shadowed self
no longer shaved,
still blue in the eyes,
but watered
and confused.
each cigarette is lit
with the last one.
the photo on the mantle
shows the younger
broad shouldered
in the sun,
feet gripping the links,
a club in hand.
and now,
the tv sits ten feet away,
the light
of it all
pulling him in,
the cigarettes piled
in ashes
in a once white tray.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

hide your peanuts

the elephants
at the senior home for former
were sitting around the pool,
smoking cigars,
eating peanuts
and talking about the old
remember the time
I stepped on that clown?
the one with the red
nose and floppy yellow
together they all laughed
and threw
their trunks into the air.
I couldn't stand that clown,
one said, blowing
smoke rings out of his
long grey trunk,
he wasn't funny at all,
and believe me I know funny.
I think there's a part of him
still stuck
to the bottom of my hoof.
I used to leave him a little
extra when
he swept up behind us.
hey look, here comes jimmy,
that crazy monkey
who used to play with
the organ grinder.
geez he's still wearing that silly
hat. newsflash jimmy.
the party's over.
he thinks he's a know it all
with that almost human DNA,
he never stops chattering.
quick, look the other way.
too late, he see us.
hide your peanuts.

a day or two, at most a week

okay, for now.
I can live
with this blue wall paper,
checked in white,
this rug,
this picture
of a mountain between
the lights.
after pulling back
the heavy
I can live with this
of the kidney
shaped pool, covered
still with leaves,
the fountain,
that doesn't spring.
I can see the coke
from here
as well. the sturdy
red box
humming along.
it's just a few nights.
or a week
at most
until I've made
up my mind
in which direction
to go.

really old, town

will this truck
in front of me ever move
down these cobbled stones,
this trash
with men hanging off
the back
in jolly orange
jump suits. will
this beer delivery man
in his shorts
and crates,
wheeling out his weekend
bottled brands
ever finish doing what
he's doing
and move on.
the brown truck, doubled
parked, lights blinking,
there's no room to go around.
will the trolley bus
ever go more than two
miles an hour
full of tourists from
and jersey. their faces
to the windows, and maps,
in no hurry to get
to the old mill,
or see what a butter
churn looks like.

rose colored

her rose colored glasses
and that changed
the lens cracked,
the frames bent.
no longer was she fun
or perky
in the morning,
there were no more
cheery greetings
and salutations
to be said.
she finally saw things
as they really
were, not the way
she imagined behind
tinted red.

Monday, April 17, 2017

the promise

as she lay there,
almost gone, she whispered
with a loving smile, sweetheart,
my dear,
please promise me this,
that when i'm gone
you'll find someone else
to love,
you are young and strong,
you have so much to give.
don't mourn too long
the loss of me.
she had forgotten our arguments,
our long winter
our differences about
everything in this world.
the anger and cross words
we shared.
the fever had apparently erased
all of that from her memory.
she took my hand and squeezed,
then closed her eyes.
okay, I whispered to her,
brushing her hair
away from her face. okay.
if you insist. I promise
i'll find someone else
when you're gone.
that was three weeks ago,
and she's ringing the bell now,
asking for hot tea.
what gives?

in the end

the mushroom cloud over
the city
surprises me in the morning.
the explosion
shook the goldfish bowl
sending lucy and desi
into a fish frenzy.
it's really
a nice day out.
there's a blue bird on the sill
with a half of
worm in his mouth.
the coffee is hot
and I can smell
blooming in the back yard.
I just started
the crossword puzzle
but have since stopped.
I figure I have about thirty
seconds before
the first shock wave
of the nuclear blast obliterates
and everything
in its path.
I add another sweet and low
to my coffee and stir.
i take a quick
couple of bites
of a chocolate covered
donut I've been
saving for later.
why not?

homeward bound

can I sing for you, she asks,
sipping her wine
in the darkened
corner of a cave like
bar at the edge of town.
I can see a motel
light flickering
through the window.
the neon sign flickering,
I have other thoughts
on my mind.
hello, she says, hello,
did you hear me,
can I sing you a song
i'm working on? my guitar
is is in the car, I can get
it if you want. umm, that's
okay, but sure,
sure, I tell her, go ahead
and sing. but
not too loud, we don't
won't to disturb the other
patrons around us. okay,
let's hear it.
so she leans over the table
taking my hand
and begins to sing.
everyday's an endless
dream of cigarettes and magazines.
wait a minute.
I stop her.
I know that song.
simon and garfunkle.
homeward bound.
each town looks the same to me,
I say out loud,
the movies and the factories,
every stranger's face is see reminds
me that I want to be,
homeward bound.
oh, she says.
I changed some of the lyrics
later in the song.

no room for more

it's not overnight
things happen, the fridge
gets full
of old food.
from last Wednesday,
legs up
in the dish.
the grease solidified
into a pretty
pond of yellow.
from Friday, the rice
in fist clumps.
the bark of duck
stiffened beside
a Dixie cup of plum sauce.
I should turn those
to keep
them from getting sores,
those grapes
are as soft
as marshmallows.
only the eggs
have stayed dignified
and calm,
separated by the little
swinging door.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

taking measure

I hear
third hand about the younger
paying a visit
to a stranger in a strange
her father, at ninety
is confused
by the sudden drop in,
the ring of the bell
and her face
at his door.
where was she the other
forty years?
not a single call or card.
she stays an hour, having
taken her measurements,
having sniffed
what lies
within, what might glitter,
or be gold,
what might
be hers one day,
when it ends.

sunday cookout

the yards
are full of smoke, ripe
meat, the coals lit,
going black
to white.
the drinks are in hand,
the balloons and eggs
are colored
pink and blue,
green, orange. a red
one floats away.
music plays.
I can almost hear
their voices
from my window, saying
all the things
I used to say.

an oak tree

the winds
run out of breath late
in the day
as the sun
under the bloom of grey.
the green of spring
has erupted.
the earth cools
the sleeve
of stream behind your
view, less silver
without the sun.
you'll take
the concrete steps
down and see the tree that
still holds
the carving
of your knife.
the math of your love
and hers
and dated so
many years ago. it's
what you
do on easter day,
though she rises less
with each passing year.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

i don't know you

I don't know you
at all
she says, wiggling her toes
at the end of
the wide
a pale blue, not unlike
a Carolina sky
in june.
you're a mystery to me,
she says.
neither leaning
to look into my eyes
or move a hand to touch
me into
I know I say, whispering,
as a cloud
might before
it drifts away.

spring ocean

the bliss of beach.
the plateau of blue water
hinged to the bluer sky.
the sling
of white gulls searing
the sea.
skipping lightly
across the brown sand.
the ocean is cold, too
cold to swim,
but let's go down,
let's walk, let's
let this mystery roll
across our feet.

the empty tomb

the blur
of time, eyes seen
or ears heard
the persuasion
of words,
we measure distance,
with a calendar,
what's written, or
over a gathering,
around a fire,
or in a cave
where the wind can't
reach you.
what's true or untrue
is uncertain,
at some point
it comes
down to faith
and standing in an
empty tomb.


some babies you can't shut up.
they keep crying
despite the bottle,
the breast,
the soothing hand of mother.
even dry
once wet and full,
they keep at it, crying,
crying. they want what
they can't have,
they don't even know why,
but it's a pattern
for down the road,
in time, there's
one now,
behind me, grumbling,
in this long slow line.

boiled eggs

a dozen eggs
should do. boiled
over the flame
in a deep pot of water.
let them cool.
take the cracked ones
out. strip
the splintered shells, salt
and pepper those,
eat them warm.
then dip
in small pools of color
the ones that made
it through,
make them
your own with stripes
and tones,
and what not.
give matisse or Picasso
a lesson or two.
keep the ones you like,
or give them to someone

Friday, April 14, 2017

day one

enough with
these white sheets, these
and strips
of gauze, enough with
the soups
and ice,
the legs raised
the head
the spitting of blood
into the trough.
of being dizzy
and slow,
carefully holding onto
tables, chairs
and walls.
how unkind the clock
is when stalled.

becoming green

the seed buried
will rise
in time with enough
enough water,
of being left alone.
come to me
when I've broken free,
become green,
and grown.

family weapons

mothers are naturally
nurturing and loving,
feeding their children,
tucking them in,
caring for their bumps
and bruises while
whispering love
into their ears, so
when the mother of all
bombs is dropped,
it makes you wonder,
is there a father
of weapons, an uncle
of all bayonets, the sister
of all bullets.
aunt bea
and her machine gun?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

making it

this height
makes you dizzy. catches
you by
at how your legs go
soft and weak, your
suddenly full
of a thousand
butterflies. how hard
you tried
to get here,
to be praised
and welcomed.
how long can you possibly
hang on
to this rung, so high.

the front stoop

how hard she scrubbed
those steps,
the marble front
without a rail.
and each mother, or
in mourning black,
with apron,
down the narrow street
bent over
with raw hands and
went at it in the cold
first impressions
meant so much, still do,
but so few
bend to scrub

what's next

the slip
of tongue, the loose
in sight
to be heard and seen
is done,
now what
is there to do,
but wait
and wonder what's
next, what's
to come.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

special blue

the boy,
while his mother digs
in her yard,
two doors up,
comes up to you
on the sidewalk
holding his crayoned
art, he
says hello. do you want
to hang out?
sure, why not?
it's you and him
under the april blue sky,
sitting, sitting
as you once did with
your own son.
he shows you his colored
telling you,
from one to ten
which one he likes best,
then it's your turn.
you agree with
him. you tell him
that your favorite color
is blue, and point
to it on his paper.
that's special blue
he says.
the others are light
and dark.
you agree.
the sunshine is warm.
what else
do you want to talk
about he says,
looking into your eyes,
that begin to tear.

what's in there

so much of us
stays within.
so many words unsaid,
music unsung, poems
unwritten, unread.
paint stroked onto
we take so much
with us
in the end that we
could have shared.
the love,
the joy, the wonder
of who we are,
so often and always,
afraid to let known what's
in there.

the operation

I hear the old woman
in the other curtained
of wheelable beds
say the same thing I did
ten minutes ago
before the subtle
drowsing of drugs
kicked in.
my underpants too, she says.
yes, the nurse says.
everything comes off,
i'll help you with this robe
that ties in the back.
someone asks me my name,
my date of birth.
I tell them i'm catholic
but fallen away.
five hour later,
i'm unmasked, unwired,
the needle in my hand
a bright blood spot
on the gauze still taped
across my veins.
i'm seeing the olive room
with strange
watery eyes, the garden
of trees
in near bloom
out the window, i'm
afloat in a half dream,
plastic buttons
stuck all over me, some of
which I won't find for

Monday, April 10, 2017

pick me up at 8

I don't believe in cars,
he says, putting
on his back pack
and sandals.
he's eating a bowl
of sprouts.
i'm going green.
no more combustion
engines for me. i'm
trying not to leave
a carbon track on our
sacred green earth.
but I may need a regular
ride to work, so if
you don't mind
picking me up,
swing by my house
at 8, i'll be on the porch

kung pao fire

while trying
to eat with
chopsticks the other night
in a Chinese restaurant
I accidently set my
kung pao chicken on fire.
the whole bowl
went up in
flames from rubbing the sticks
so hard together
to get a morsel of rice
and chicken into
my open mouth.
the waiter threw himself
onto our table
to put the fire
out, but then we had
to leave, never getting
our stale
cookie with the lame
fortune inside.
I wonder what it said.

these joes

some says,
remember joe, what happened
to joe.
he used to come here
all the time.
he was a regular.
funny guy.
someone else says
joe who,
the guy with the dog
and the two
no not that joe,
the other joe,
tall and lanky,
he had a beard
and used to ride his
bike to work.
I don't know.
I vaguely remember him,
but I have no
where he went.
who knows.
they come and go,
these joes.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

any direction

we move
at glacier speed sometimes
with love
and other things,
deciding what
to do,
where to go, what
to eat
or wear,
anything, or anyone
at times,
will do.
any direction seems

where it itches

let's scratch
where it itches.
go further with this
we have.
take it up a notch.
let's say things like,
I love you,
or I can't imagine
my life without you,
or not.
it's kind of good
the way it is,
why ruin a perfectly
good romance.

the calm sea

i'll find you on
the sea.
the Saragossa sea.
on the plateau
of glass stillness,
where the water stays
i'll find you there.
floating peacefully.
it's a place
I can be
with you.
I need that
kind of quiet, you'll
see a different


the fog rises.
the fog buys us time,
keeps us
hidden behind the soft
grey air
that surrounds us,
protects us from who
we are in the sunlight.
we run towards the fog,
we breathe it in.
we bathe in the subtle
wave of it's
as it seeps up from the bog,
the stream,
the wet thick land.
we hope that it stays
a little longer,
everything uncertain.

good neighbors

my new neighbor
knocks at the door
in her bathrobe.
she wants
to borrow a cup of sugar.
a half a stick
of butter,
a cup of oil
and flour, a baking
and my oven for an hour.
oh, and a mixer
too, with a big bowl
and a spatula.
she hands me the list
and smiles.
sure, I tell her. why not.
what are neighbors for,
if not
to bake together.

the gallows

these days
everyone likes
a good hanging.
there is no turning the other cheek.
and forget.
let's help this poor
confused soul,
put him on the right track,
his mother didn't love
him, his father
beat him with a rubber hose.
it's a genetic thing,
he was dropped on his
head when a baby. let's help
no, the cry is,
hang him. let him swing
in the courtyard
where everyone can see.
what's the point,
he'll just do it again
when he gets out.
he's in the yard now,
lifting weights,
sharpening knives,
finding God to get out early.
he's conspiring with others
on how do it better the
next time and not
get caught.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

crab fest

crabs bore me.
their hard salted shells.
the blue cooked out of them,
now red.
the piles with sharp pointed
claws and ridged backs,
stacked on old news
the mallets
and pliers. the assortment
of dental
tools to dig and scrape
out tiny morsels
of white meat. so little
for so much work.
the beer mugs
and vinegar spill
tubs of melted butter too,
they drip and rain
on the bellies, the bearded
chins, the doubled chins,
the pointed chins
sucking corn from a cob,
yes, we need vegetables too.
everything ends up
into laps
now unbuckled, loosened,
they should be free,
these strange creatures,
these scavengers
found at the bottom
of the inlet, the bay
and sea. crawling forever
in sand.
three hours later, with
bleeding hands,
you're still hungry.

in the mood

the arch and yawn
of the cat
on the warm sill
is pleasant to watch,
how she stretches and makes
herself longer,
the sun
in the sparkled glass
of her green eyes.
she reminds me
so much of you.
even those nails that
reach out
from soft paws
to scratch my arm,
hin at affection,
telling me that you're
in the mood.


it's a small puddle,
but the shoe
finds it
and the cold set rain
a grey sky
comes in, overflows.
the sock
is wet, the heel,
the toes.
puddles are everywhere
these days.

Friday, April 7, 2017

old friends

the shine is off
the wood.
it's aged. the scars
of time
and hand
line the rail
and knob.
it's dull.
the sides are weak,
the screws
shelves have slipped
from their pegs.
the drawers won't pull,
but it stays.
as all
good friends must do.

wrong number

it's the wrong number.
someone wants to talk to rita.
I tell them she's not
here, but they call
back. all day they want
to speak to rita.
finally I tell them
that she's out shopping,
she's ironing my clothes
in the basement.
she's taking a cake
out of the oven
and can't come to the phone.
rita is a busy woman,
they tell me okay, tell her
to give us a call.
I do, I yell down
the steps and tell her.


her violin plays
all night,
what's done is done,
what isn't right
makes no difference
to her.
the strings
sing to the drag
and strike of her
she plays
her sad song as
the moon
bleeds white outside
the window.
I listen, for what else
is there to do.
love listens.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

the think tank

I get the call to join
a think tank.
to be a part of an elite corps
of brainiacs
who want to save the world.
i'm suspicious right
away and feel that they've
confused me with someone
else of the same name.
I don't know how they got my
since I don't have one.
yes, it's true
I do think
about a lot of things.
I ponder them quite often,
but not about very important
like pollution,
or education, nuclear war,
or waste or how to cure cancer,
I rarely think about
how to get to mars on a
shoe string budget,
or how to feed the hungry.
i'm hungry too.
my mind strays towards
simpler things, like
women's legs for example,
coffee. what's for dinner
tonight. lasagna?
I wonder where a comma should go,
maybe here, maybe not.
I think about how to get the lids
off of olive jars more easily.
I think best after a good nap,
or after two martinis
and my shoes are off.
i'm more talkative and thoughtful
after making love,
my ideas seem to flow,
but only for a short while, then
i'm sleepy. very sleepy.
and my thinking hours are over.

yard sale

on a clear day
I set out things for the sale.
a toaster.
an enormous t.v.,
chipped plates.
a set of matching tea cups
and saucers,
never used.
a seascape, poorly painted,
but suitable
for hanging in a cheap
motel perhaps.
this flower vase.
red for some reason, as
if flowers weren't enough
to fill it.
a dress left behind,
heels, one broken,
and a purse with nothing
in it but chap stick
and a stick of gum.
some things are

a good exit

she painted mostly pears
in bowls.
still life.
and the dead
from photographs
of obituaries
in the paper.
in bright colors,
in sunlight.
you weren't in love
with her,
nor her
with you, but you saw
the first
new strokes
of her work before
and she yours.

the italian sports car

after a few days
of not shaving and wearing
the same work
paint stained and torn,
the shoes
in months of debris
and mud,
recovering from a cold,
coughing into your sleeve,
people will hand you
trying to stick dollars
into your near
empty coffee cup.
you say God bless
to them,
and move on,
thinking about that
little Italian
convertible you might
buy in the spring,
white with a black top.
with an Italian girl
too, riding beside you.

today is good

these owls
with long wings and heads
on swivels.
bold eyes.
they screech and holler
through out the early
hungry for a mouse or
praying that it doesn't
the rain soaks through
and makes them
wet and sad.
rain is death of them.
but today is good.

what needs to be done

it's a day of fixing things.
the knob
that's loose on the door,
the batteries
the gate with the loose
the belt
on the vacuum.
there's a cobweb
in the corner,
glass that needs to
be sprayed
and wiped.
that squeak in the floor.
the sheets changed,
the bed made.
laundry put away.
but even after all of that,
I can't fix what
really needs
to be fixed, that will
have to wait
and wait and wait.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

we've changed

let's go hunting
she says, pulling on her
boots and
green camouflage
jumpsuit. I feel like
killing some
pheasant or ducks today.
maybe slap some plum
sauce on a slab of
greasy dark meat.
she blows the little
duck whistle
loudly into my ear.
do you have to do that??
I know a nice little
where we can hide,
and drink jack daniels,
she says,
make out
until we scare
the birds into the air
who are you, I ask her,
clipping my nails
at the end of the bed.
you're not the same girl
I married.
you've changed.
we need to pick up some
and some war paint,
she hollers,
grabbing her gun bag,
come on,
those duck are a waiting.
do we have any clear
polish, I yell, as she
heads down the stairs.

between the lines at coffee

it is what is.
(I have no idea what to say)
(which means maybe)
(a stronger maybe)
have you lost weight.
(I hate you)
we should get
together more often.
(but every six months is fine too)
we might go sailing this weekend
at the cape.
I hope it doesn't rain.
(boats are stupid)
you really look good
in that color.
(who wears purple anymore, clowns?)
your kids are so smart
getting into that school.
(they must be cheating)
when you tell me these things
about your life
I feel so bad for you
(thank god it's not me)
i'm glad that my husband has
a good job and I don't have
to work.
(too bad for you)
well, bye for now,
don't be a stranger.

jiffy hell

what you need are new shocks,
look at the way
she bounces when I push down
on the front end.
but I just bought this car.
I only have a few thousand
miles on it,
church going miles, at that.
yeah, they don't make
em like they used to.
plus the engine, hear that
you are about ready to throw
a rod.
once that happens,
you'll need a new engine.
you don't want to be stuck
out on the highway with a broken
down car, do you?
I mean you love your family, right?
it's just your luck though,
we've got a new deal
on engines today.
the sale ends in two hours.
if I was you, i'd go for it.
I don't know.
can you just change the oil?
that's all I really came in for.
I have a coupon.
okay. okay. I guess you don't
want clean filters either, right?
it's your car, your life.
have a seat in there, there's
two week old
coffee and greasy ten year
old magazines. we've got the tv
on as loud as it will go too,
so enjoy.


some men are unhappy
being men.
they want it gone.
yes, that it.
I cringe at the thought.
they want to wear
and have a parade for
their confusion.
wear lipstick
and stockings.
they want a handbag
to match their shoes.
to each his own,
or her own. who is anyone
to judge.
don't pick up any stones
to throw,
we all got something,
it's hard to change horses
in midstream,
but go for it,

at home

is it bad luck,
a black cloud upon
or have you always been
in dire
in trouble with the law,
or someone
that you're related
to by marriage.
penniless and broke,
it seems as if it's always
been your turn
to suffer,
you jump the line,
unable to get out
of your own way.
you like it there?
chaos feels like home.


it matters not
what milk cost anymore.
you need milk,
you put it in the cart
and buy.
stamps too,
what's the price of a
single stamp?
I have no idea.
gas, fill her up and go.
what's the point
in driving to the next pump
for two cents
those worries, those penny
have left me
for some reason, not
that riches have been
or inheritance left
in my hands,
i'm just more concerned
with pounds now,
not pennies.

his last garden

his hands curled
in the dirt, means spring.
he pounds
a stake
to hold up the fence
to keep
the rabbits out.
it's a small square
of ground,
just enough room
around the air
conditioner to grow
and tomatoes.
most of which he'll
never eat, or barely see.
it's not about that.
it's something
it's the seed, the rain,
the green
growing of something
new. something
he's always done
since a boy in Halifax.

getting young again

the doctor shows you a diagram
of your body.
and indicates with a pencil
where the problem is,
he draws a light line
across the areas where he
needs to cut and trim.
under your arms, your belly.
the triple chin, those bags
under your eyes.
we can smooth out those laugh
lines and that furrow
in your brow.
you'll look years younger,
he tells you. but I have
to say, it's going to hurt
and will take a long
time to heal.
people may not recognize you.
the other options are exercise,
diet and to cut back on
your drinking. so what do
you think?
can you do it today, you
ask him while eating
some candy that you have
in your pocket.

the fan

the woman behind you,
where you
sit at the concert
sings every song
as loud as she can. she's a fan.
she's a little drunk,
a little
woozy, but she knows
all the words.
she's dancing too, having
a good time
as the band plays in front,
on stage.
you wish that someone
would throw
a net on her an drag
her out.
but no.
she's a paid customer,
she's having fun,
and she's a loyal forever
she knows all the words.
she whistles with two
fingers in her mouth
when the music stops
and yells out the singer's
name. she says I love
you Jimmy. I love you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

tuesdays puzzle

you wet your fingers
to turn the page.
then another.
you squint at the words,
moving on
from one boring story
to the next.
who won, who lost
means less and less with
each new year.
you yawn.
has nothing changed?
is there anything good
to report?
the sun may come out,
it may rain.
the Tuesday puzzle is
less hard than
tomorrows. you go there.

the after life

the boat is less
as some go over and under.
the salt
is on your tongue.
in your
the sway of the ocean,
the pull
of the moon,
the oars,
the loved and unloved,
both drift
towards some distant
will we gather there
in time, after this is
all done,
and recall the life
we shared?
I hope so.

Monday, April 3, 2017

the hot water

don't use all the hot
we'd tell our sisters,
all three
as they beat us to the bathroom,
with towels
and soaps,
photoplay magazines.
they had to wash their
to soak,
to primp and brush,
to get ready
for the boys they'd hope
to win.
we'd see
the steam rise out from
under the white door,
into the cool hall where
our bare feet stood,
we'd shake our heads
and moan,
too late.

the cold earth

there isn't much left
at the end
to divide,
a birdcage, empty,
lined still with newsprint
from nineteen eighty-five.
glasses, books,
who wants his shoes?
the dirty magazines
under the bed?
the staples loose
between each thigh.
the money is just enough
to put him under,
a polite ceremony,
discounted for service
in the navy. flag
a spot saved not far
the eternal flame.
who comes, at this late
stage, to hear the volley
of gunshot,
those who never called,
or gave visit?
children with children
who never
knew him, and yet hold
the same name.
who stands near, besides
me, to watch him slip
into this cold dug grave.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

the cake

people nibble at my
cake, the cake I spent
nearly thirty five minutes
making. not counting
the icing.
someone asks
who made this, to which I
shrug and say,
I don't know but
it's great isn't it?
I think i'll have another piece.
it's too sweet,
someone says, putting her
plate down,
and it needed to bake
another ten minutes.
it's soft in the middle.
I hate box cake mixes
the woman sitting next
to me says.
so lazy.
look how it sits in the pan,
the icing is uneven
a man says with a pinky
in the air.
a monkey could make
this cake.
I think about making
monkey noises, but don't,
instead whisper, so
true. so true as I lick
the icing off my fork.

be careful

I have a fever
and a sore throat,
so it's best we don't kiss.
I wouldn't want you to catch
anything and be
careful of your step
going down,
she says,
a few bricks are loose.
hang on to the rail.
I can't get anyone to come
and fix them.
too small of a job.
and the rail
is shaky,
splintered with old
rotted wood, watch
your hand.
and be careful on
the sidewalk, the leaves
are slippery
I haven't had time
to rake. be careful,
she says waving,
once you get away
from me, you'll be

Saturday, April 1, 2017


I tell my friend jimmy
that i'm engaged to be married
in june.
she's the love of my
life, I tell him excitedly.
my soul mate, my one
and only,
the person I want to
ride off into the sunset
with. i take out my phone and show
him her picture.
I want you to be
my best man.
jimmy says, whoa.
whoa. yeah, she's gorgeous,
but just a minute pal.
are you sure about this?
yes I tell him.
yes. we both love one
another deeply.
we get along on so many levels.
we actually have real conversations,
like what we do.
he shakes his head
and taps the bar to have
the bartender bring us another
round of drinks. doubles, he
yells to pete behind the bar.
what's your favorite food,
jimmy asks me.
chicken, pasta...lobster
maybe? indian food?
ummm, ribeye, I tell him,
on the grille. I like
an angus ribeye steak, medium
rare, caramelized onions,
with garlic mashed
potatoes, corn on the cob,
maybe a small garden salad,
and a slice of blueberry
pie with a scoop of French
vanilla ice cream for
wow, okay, okay, he says.
that's wonderful. that sounds
the drinks come and we
clink our glasses together.
now, he says, sipping his
scotch, squinting as he's prone
to do when having an inebriated epiphany.
now imagine that you
have that same meal every
single night for the rest of
your life. forever, he says
waving his hand into the air
to indicate forever.
you love that dish, the gravy,
the meat and potatoes,
the grilled corn. imagine
that every night you have to
eat that same meal. just how
long can you go on before it
gets old and you stop
loving it and want something else?
how long?
hmmm, I say. I see what you mean.
so you're saying marriage is
like that? a steak dinner every night.
yup, he says. it's exactly like that.
but you're married. you've been
married for twenty years.
true, he says. true,
but we both eat out a lot.

he loved her cooking

my mother
could sling a dish from
one side of the room
to the other.
the plate full or empty
made no difference,
although it was more
dramatic with red
sauce and meatballs,
penne pasta.
it usually involved
my father, who continued
head bent over
his food, buttering
his garlic bread,
while she questioned him about
where he was the night
before, and with who.
he loved her cooking.

those were the days

i have little patience
for names
being dropped,
places you've been,
or stayed
when you were on top.
who cares
who you know, or knew,
or whose lives
you have
barely touched through
six degrees of
it says little about
or maybe it says a lot.
my butter does
not melt
for those were the days.

the bath

she slips into
something more comfortable,
her skin,
a tub
of hot water
with steam rising.
there are bubbles,
a froth
of vanilla, or is
it lavender, maybe
two candles burn
at each end.
a glass of wine in
wet hand.
music plays from the other
it's an event.
in a few hours she'll
be done.

from your window

moon, your coin
in the black pocket
of sky.
I see neither
head or tails,
nor edge.
just a moon.
a light
we both would see
I wonder if
you see it now from
where you are,
this many years apart,
from where your
bare trees rise outside
cold windows.

free fall

you had little fear
of heights
until you fell from roof
to ground,
yet survived.
it wasn't your time
to die, maybe an angel
steered you
down, lowered your
body to a safe soft bed
of grass, a soiled
as with love
and marriage, there was
no fear there as
well. but such heights are
left alone now,
your feet planted
firmly on the ground.

april first

because it's april first,
she calls
and says,
are you sitting down,
I have some news.
what I say.
what is it?
she sounds panicked,
her voice trembling.
what? I say again,
but louder, what is it?
i'm pregnant, she says.
we're going to have
a baby. isn't that exciting.
but we're too old, i say,
as i fall onto the floor,
and begin to weep,
looking around the room
to where a crib might go.


the dessert
is you.
the length of you.
the porcelain
curve of hip
and shoulder.
there is a sweetness
in each kiss.
a meringue
of soul
in your gentle
my heart swells
with each new bite.

he taps his hat

a man on the path,
stares at me and taps his hat.
taps it again
and again,
shaking his head
as I slowly roll by.
where's your helmet he says.
he's hardly older than I am.
stern, with a purposeful
a glazed stick from home
is in one hand.
he has gone most of his life
feeling the need
to tell others how to live,
what to do.
and even now, on this blue
skied day,
with me, drifting along
the wooded path, hardly pedaling,
to take it all in,
he tells me
to wear a helmet, to be
a better man, like he is.

slow to walk

slow to walk, I slow
my pace
to let him catch up.
he breathes, wipes his
brow, takes his hat off.
it's not far from
here to there.
some of us arrive,
others die early and
never know what it is
to be old,
to have others wait
on you, and hold
the door.