Friday, April 7, 2017

WHITE NOISE

Owning is fearful, lost.
Things are lost
From the first moment.
We cannot find ourselves,
Even in mirrors.


The future is dilated pupils
And elevated heart rates.
Porn will be virtuals
Of starving children,
While we eat fabulously.
The guilt will be thrilling.
All will have all that they need,
but most will not.
Billboards will proclaim
certainties about which we will
weep in private until
death, never out of style,
walks the runway.
Fashion will numb, as it always has,
with new talismans.
The paparazzi will
shoot to kill.
There will be no escaping,
Though many will try.
Everything will be electrifying.
Boredom will be available on the black market.
Nightmares will spread like malware.
Dreams will be bought and sold..
Drones will follow us like shadows.
The thrum of their engines
will fade into the white noise
we will have become.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ode to Raoul's Bar

walking down prince st. in new york city,
I past west broadway,
and reach raoul's, a bar
that is two years older than me –
when it opened its doors
to the Soho of 1954. 

next door there was
a bakery called vesuvius,
across the way a tailor called Mack's
and on the corner, a news kiosk 
called NEWS for generations,
all long gone.  Raoul's green awning
still shelters poor, reservationless souls,
from the rain or snow.

Warm inside, covered with laughter
and tablecloths bright white 
even in the dim candle light.
The bartender's been wiping down
this pink backlit mahogany for thirty years.
He keeps his martini glasses
on the bar filled with ice, 
and knows more than he tells.
Always order the steak au poivre.
The tables are sardine packed. A rickety
staircase spirals to the second-floor WC.

The main wall of the small dining room is
a huge oil painting of a languorous, reclining,
nude woman of indeterminate age; 
various and sundry other works,
like members of an imperial court,
are crammed around her, for she is the queen.
The artists of old Soho traded works for meals
before they all fled the encroaching armies
of  Armani and Starbucks.

There is gilt on the chandelier 
and that one sconce over there.
with a faded elegance that likely never was.

Raoul hides here and never ventures too far.
He is clever enough to know that an old gentleman
presents best in his own library, 
where he has read all the books
twice, and knows the just one to recommend
for your brief sojourn in his home.


..NaPoWriMo 1917 #3

WHITE STATIC

In 2nd grade I learned
Kennedy had been killed
in Texas. They waited
until the end of classes to tell us
so as not to spoil the school day.
Our parents gathered on
the neighborhood sidewalks
and smoked
into the evening. The red tip
of my father's cigarette danced
from conversation to conversation
in the evening gloom.
My mother watched from
our porch.

In seventh grade I learned
Martin had been killed
in Georgia and Bobby
in California. Our parents
voted republican. Had
cocktails. Complained at
backyard picnics about the war,
but only because we weren't
winning. My mother lost her
brother in the Battle of the Bulge
to a mortar round.
The flag from his coffin
was somewhere
in the back of her closets.

We stumbled into darkness
when my grandmother died,
sunrises came
slower. My mother
began to lose her footing.
She haunted herself.

Eventually, she asked
for a divorce,
but didn't follow through.
She found solace in
pharmacies around town.

In the summer before she died,
Mom listened to the television
on our porch each day
until it went to white static,
while staring out into the night
as if reading a very long, dull book.

When I was a freshman
in college, she killed herself
In the garage,
we sold that car.
Once the last shovelful
of dirt fell across her casket, we never
discussed it again, he and I,
the white static of her absence
was simply too loud for us to talk over.

Still I heard him strike a match,
it flared my father's face
into existence, swirled his
face in a long, blue exhale,
the red tip of his cigarette
so close to the edge
of her grave that
I grabbed his coat sleeve
to keep him from stepping
through that dark door,
because I knew she
wasn't waiting there,
across that threshold,
with forgiveness.

LAST HOME

When I was a little kid in grade school, 
the summer rule was simple,
you had go home
when the streetlights came on. 
Countless games of hide and seek
were ruined in this way. 

The winter rule was that you had to go home 
when the skating rink turned off its lights. 
We skated every night you see, the rink
was just across the street.
Countless pick-up hockey games
were won this way.

At sixty, I am wondering: does this 
holds true for life,
is the signal lights on or lights off, 
and just how will I find the house
that then becomes 
my last home?


...

NaPoWriMo 2017 #2

CLOSETS AND DRAWERS



in these days we know, 
that down is not out,
and buttons are doors,
while nonsense sleeps
in closets and drawers.

by the moon,
I watched spring snow pile
up like life,
but then melt away
like a love just not right.

I keep my head 
above clouds and
simply don't puzzle,
why the sunshine did sleep
yesterday in a puddle,
while today's poker game 
deals nobody in 
and the ante
is up to all of your sins.

thankfully, now, for sure
we all know,
down is not out,
and buttons are doors,
while nonsense sleeps
in closets and drawers.

...

Day One NaPoWriMo 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

WHITE STATIC

In 2nd grade I learned
Kennedy had been killed
in Texas. They waited 
until the end of classes to tell us
so as not to spoil the school day.
Our parents gathered on
the neighborhood sidewalks 
and smoked
into the evening. The red tip
of my father's cigarette danced
from conversation to conversation
in the evening gloom.
My mother watched from
our porch.

In seventh grade I learned
Martin had been killed
in Georgia and Bobby
in California. Our parents
voted republican. Had
cocktails. Complained at
backyard picnics about the war,
but only because we weren't
winning. My mother lost her
brother in the Battle of the Bulge
to a mortar round.
The flag from his coffin
was somewhere
in the back of her closets.

We stumbled into darkness
when my grandmother died,
sunrises came
slower. My mother
began to lose her footing.
She haunted herself.

Eventually, she asked
for a divorce,
but didn't follow through.
She found solace in
pharmacies around town.

In the summer before she died,
Mom listened to the television
on our porch each day
until it went to white static,
while staring out into the night
as if reading a very long, dull book. 

When I was a freshman
in college, she killed herself
In the garage,
we sold that car.
Once the last shovelful 
of dirt fell across her casket, we never   
discussed it again, he and I,
the white static of her absence
was simply too loud for us to talk over.

Still I heard him strike a match,
it flared my father's face
into existence, swirled his
face in a long, blue exhale, 
the red tip of his cigarette
so close to the edge 
of her grave that
I grabbed his coat sleeve
to keep him from stepping
through that dark door,

because I knew she 
wasn't waiting there, 
across that threshold,
with forgiveness.



...

Monday, March 20, 2017

ST. TELOMERES

morning is best,
the earlier,
pink clouds hovering
over the continental divide;
waking up each day
is a terrible mystery.

stepping out of bed,
scooping the coffee,
the day stretches out
even as life contracts,
and my telomeres grow
shorter. 

Ah, St. Telomeres, from
the region of repetitive nucleotide 
sequences at each end 
of a chromosome,
what I would do with forever?
I already sleepwalk through this life,
how could I sleep while the stars
flipped off, one by one over eons,
until there was no starry
night left for van gogh?

Tired at sixty of the 
desire to own things,
to complete my set
of dishes, or salt and pepper
shakers, it's time to give away,
all that can be given,
and keep all that cannot:

this sunrise,
the sweet heat of this coffee,
my love, still sleeping
in our big bed
in the next room,
a morning breeze
ruffling
her beautiful grey hair.


...

Friday, March 3, 2017

BROKEN CLOCKS

All the old peeling paint houses
in this neighborhood
are grinding to dust, their
Bricks falling under yellow,
billowing bulldozers, that pounce on
their prey that had the poor grace
of being for the poor.
Shoulder to shoulder, one could look
From yours into your neighbor’s windows,
just feet away but the blinds
were always drawn
after the first embarrassment.
Some houses packed so tight, 
that the old man
Who liked beer too much
had trouble stumbling through.
The tiny porches, that said hello
To passer-by, have lost
their voices.
The floral papered dining rooms
scented with the dry tears 
of graduation celebrations
and deadly mourning,
All crushed unceremoniously like
Broken clocks into the dumpsters
that line the streets like hearses. 
Then the new houses
stride in like conquistadors,
Without care, with god at their side,
Planting their flags,
Claiming territory already owned
By generations gone silent, but 
in any case, nothing
Can be heard over the rumble of
Glittering gold coins flowing
Fast through the century old gutters.


...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

DISHWASHER

I enjoy
The songs we sing
As we dry the dishes,
While looking out at the
Day’s orange passing,
When the mountains grow dark
And too quiet.

Our plates and cups
and bowls of primary colors
are stacked away 
In their beechwood cabinets,
While the dishwasher sits humbled,
Broken, like so many things.
He never complained.
A monk of cleanliness,
He was a quiet one,
Except towards the end,
When his bones rattled.
He was a craftsman, and
We shall miss him.
If indeed it was a him.

And having done so well
for so long until those
ball bearings turned to grit,
I believe he will
Be reborn as an oven
Or a stove. A toaster oven
At worst. A step up
The karmic ladder
To Christmas cookies,
Thanksgiving turkeys,
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

By-passing the hell, thank god,
of the microwave,
Which can only reheat
what others have left behind,
that which began in the oven
or the sauce pan,
but which is now distained
by all but hungry souls
counting down the seconds
at the midnight hour.


...

Friday, February 24, 2017

MORNING STAR (FOR CHARLOTTE)

if I say
a word over
and over and
over and over
to you,
does its meaning
drift from when
it’s on the
Scrabble board
or in Webster’s?
does it change like
a tree’s shadow from
noon to dusk?

do I mean the same thing
when I say:
“I love you”
a week, a year,
fifteen years,
a life,
after
the first time
I told you?
you,
are you the same
you
that heard
then and hears now
the “love”
in my voice,
the same you that loved
watching falling stars
as much as stars
that never moved?

the same you that
I once roused from sleep,
after saying “I love you”
only four or five times,
just to see the morning star

drift away in the sunrise?


Friday, February 17, 2017

GOD DAMN YEARS

There is a crack in the sky today,

A watch dangles through
With its second hand sweeping
The earth clockwise.

There is the crack in the blue ice
Of Evergreen Lake with water welling up,
Slowly drowning the ice
with its cold spring grip.

I noticed a crack in the moon last night,
and the Man in The Moon flinched
Then he broke in two.
He orbited his new partner in a tango,
Then kissed himself back together
Behind drifting evening clouds.

There is a crack in the world
rarely discussed, that no one chooses to visit,
Oceans fall into it thunderously,
But few volunteer to ride a barrel down its
Vast wall; no one knows how far down is down
or what lies waiting.

There are small cracks in the faces of passersby,
From which loneliness seeps,
Etching their faces like acid,
Making them walk quickly home each night
With take-out and Wheel of Fortune.
Vanna knows that melancholy
is the toss-up answer every time.

There are cracks in the sidewalk that will
Break your mother’s back if you step on them.
I know. I jumped on all of them,
every single one, with all the weight
of my twelve-year-old self,
and while her back was fine,

She did eventually die,



Though it took god damn years.

Monday, February 13, 2017

PLAYING IN THE MUD


The sun talked to me today through my skin.
The pine trees made small talk about spring
with each gust of wind. 
The snow whispered to me 
with each step about 
the fleetingness of winter. 
The water laughed playing in the mud. 

The rocks were quiet, 
but only because they were thinking.

LIKE A FOX

The moon was damn big tonight
The winds were quiet.
The dog simply went to sleep.
My dreams were 
strangely filled with quiet
erotica these last few nights.
At every fork in the road,
I took the short one.
I resist compromise but do it
when necessary or expedient
The world seems altogether twisted somehow.
With the moon gone, the shadows play
tricks like a fox and I fall for the terra cotta soldiers 
spread in every direction.
Momentary panic. 
Just for a minute.