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.


...