Thursday, August 17, 2017

Adonai Dayam Ha-Emet - final version

Adonai Dayan ha-Emet          
God is the One True Judge                            

Aveinu Malkeinu,                                                                 [Our Father, Our King]
Once, if I were honest, more than once, much more,
I wish I still lived alone
Just me, my pens, my books
And the ducks, murmuring under the street lamp.
Train whistles,
Who’s ready? Who’s willing? Who’s able?
            All Aboard!

Aveinu Malkeinu, Chaneinu V'aneinu                             [Our Father, Our King,
But I do not live alone.                                                       Be gracious and answer us]
Other people, things, inhabit this temporary home,
            Of bodies and offal
            On the search for real
I, responsible for detritus, distracted and rerouted
By not alone. Home is a vial of ash.

Ki ein banu ma'asim.                                                                   [For we have little merit]
In my heart, I am always alone.

Ase imanu,                                                                                     [Treat us with kindness]
Midnight.  I feed the ducks, throwing stale bread upon the water.
At sunrise, they sit on the edge of the eave and
Stare through the pane.
I am afraid that they, hungry, will break the glass.

Tzedakah vachesed,                                                                    [And be our help]
I am a walking suicide.

Ase imanu, tzedakah vachesed,                                                [Treat us with kindness,
I am more alone than I am with,                                                 And be our help]
More surprised when not surprised by the shadows of others
As they talk in the galleries
And I make tea and sandwiches
And salt the buttered bread
Memory of the dead and nearly dead and
Might as well be dead and draped mirrors
Playacting that I connect with those I serve.

Vehoshiyeinu.                                                                               [And save our people]
The conductor holds the door, impatient,
Calling me night after night.
All aboard! Where’s your ticket,
Reading the numbers inked
on the inside of my forearm.

The ducks sing Adonai dayan ha-emet                                   [God is the True Judge]
And then I hear nothing.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adonai dayan ha-emet: God is the True judge
Baruch atah Adonai, elohainu melach Haolem, dayan ha-emet.
The Hebrew blessing on hearing of a death :
Blessed is the Eternal One, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge.

From the High Holy Day Services, a Prayer for Forgiveness
Aveinu Malkeinu,                                Our Father, our King,
Chaneinu V'aneinu,                             Be Gracious and Answer us
ki ein banu ma'asim.                          For we have little merit.
Ase imanu tzedakah vachesed,           Treat us with kindness, be our help
vehoshiyeinu.
                                    And save our people.
Aveinu Malcheinu, be gracious and answer us, for we have little merit.
Treat us generously and with kindness, and be our help.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Road Trash

Sparkles of early morning light distract so I stop,
pull out of traffic onto the grassy embankment
wondering what tidbit discard  did I find,
there, on the edge of noisy busy nowhere
with no pedestrian access.

Only cars trucks buses exceeding the posted speed limits
by a radar detection margin
and the occasional bicyclist, traveling slow enough
for aberrant markers pass along  this byway to tourist heaven,
littered with fast food debris and other:

Shattered keyboard from a child’s computer
keys scattered, wires and circuits and
chips loose, curly plastic connecting the stylus.
A few feet away, a stuffed dog,
chewed, worn, weathered, loved, at some past time.

Which was the anger and which the revenge?
And who how much more I have had it up to there!
did not stop for wails of regret
to retrieve these precious
because it was lesson time?

The dog is missing an eye.
I reassemble the readalong,
tether the dog with the stylus,
and mark their passing with wildflowers,
another roadside tragedy.

Bed's Too Big

No more boxes.
Pack the rest, disgusted, detritus, debris.
Toss it in a pillowcase, doesn’t matter anyway. 
A striped yellow and pink pillowcase. Hers.  
Stripes worn and faded, from the double bed. 
Before they upgraded to a king. 
A king size bed, so much more room.
Life was good.
And when life was not good? 
So much more room to hug the ends of the bed.
Avoid ‘accidentally’ touching each other. 
In a double bed, you always bump each other. 
Can’t go to sleep angry in a double bed.   
In a king, the hurts can lay there.
They lay there, right in the middle of the bed. 
The hurts send out suckers all night long,
Grow new branches, push the root systems deeper. 
How many piles on the floor?
Splitting a household is much tougher than merging. 
Merging was gradual, books, clothes, pots and pans. 
Separation sudden. Picking apart who got what?
Figuring out what gets kept, what gets sold?
They did not have the luxury of time for that, 
Each eager to have a new life. 
He looked at the pillowcases, her pillowcases
filled with the sheets and towels he was taking.
His new life wrapped in a bit of her old life. 
And no bed to put them on.

Rejected sheets, towels, clothes, sundries
heaps on the garage floor. 
He kicked them, then walked through the piles,
scattering them down the driveway.
Sometimes.  Just sometimes.  But sometimes
Love is not enough.

What I See

I ride, a steady A pace,
of eighteen to twenty miles per hour
serene in the early morning
absence of traffic,
considering the tasks and pleasures
the day ahead will bring
the projects I’ll work on
once the endorphins kick in
clearing the week’s debris from my brain
the spectrum of stress and
Too many demands
Too many shut doors
Too many lost in space requests.

I see things, details that only a red light allows
but on a bicycle, the constant head swivel
ensuring safety
lets me see things a
two ton fiberglass shell hides.
I wonder why, who, leaves these markers
relics of Some Life, lost or abandoned,
Some Life changed in some way
from what was yesterday.

I see things. And stop.
A bicycle can stop anywhere.
Pull over onto median, shoulder, curb,
stop and reflect
at the growing crop
of roadside memorials
crosses and stakes, draped with ribbons,
dried flowers, stuffed bears, empty beer cans.
They spring up like daisies
victims of DUIs and drive-bys.

Every day I see new ones
replacing the abandoned, windwrecked
tides of only I remember what was there before.

Spreading, popping up, they send out shooters
and increase exponentially.

I stop, bewildered, by the creek,
water level a fraction of a few weeks ago
when the hurricane rainy season
had water lapping the trail.
Now, matted grass edges the creek bed revealing
an old child’s carseat,
and perhaps fifty feet on,
A stroller. On the bank, a matted blanket.
Where is the child that held these?
Is he safe? Is she hungry?

I see things I can do nothing about and ride on.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Natural Causes

I want to die
Of natural causes
Not from flying debris
Not in a plane crash
Not from a bomb
Or falling off a mountain
                When passing a truck
                On a road blocked by massive boulders
Not from being hit by a train
                Or a trail derailing
Certainly not by brake failure
Natural or sliced
Of a car or bicycle
Not from a pill and alcohol cocktail.
From natural causes
In my bed
Feeling my ribs pierce my heart
And the blood seep out
In pretty spatter patterns,

Yes.
Although a gun would also
Leave a lovely spray.

Brave New World

When I was a child, I wasn't afraid of technology
There were faraways to be discovered
moons to walk on
dimensions accessed only through the wonders of light and sound waves.
Now I stare at the skittering phone, black hole life
It falls to the floor, still vibrating
I match it, quiver for quiver, terrified of the other end

House Arrest

The blinds shake and he flings open the door,
“You, I should have known you.”
A former roommate slides past me,
empty sounds, that he’ll be back
in a few days,
with groceries.

Trading places with me, ceding me possession
of the vestibule and life within,
we’ve danced this dance before.
The call of ‘change partners’
with a nod to me or him and a puzzlement
to others.

Where would I be if not here, if not now,
folded into arms that pull me to
the comfy chair
head resting against mine.

We sit, quiet together.
We are very good at being quiet together.
After a long while, I ask if he’d prefer
donuts or muffins.
He replies that he limits himself to
half an espresso per day so
It doesn’t matter,
as long as I come back,
come back soon.
With comfort silence in this cacophony nightmare,
I kiss him, on the mouth, and pinky swear.

In the Mulch

She finds things in the mulch
Finds things everywhere, she is gifted that way
But mostly, the most interesting things,
Are in the mulch.
‘Look, mommy, looka dis. What dis?’
Crayons. Photos. Keys. Half a sandwich.
Half a key.
Hair clips. Money. The Maltese Falcon.
Once, a passport from New Zealand.
Fodder for stories she writes every night.

‘Baby Hippo found a crayon and a passport
And made a picture in the passport and went far away
And lived happily ever after. The End.’

Yes, fodder for the stories she writes every night
Wherever we are that night, wherever we find ourselves,
And once or twice or a hundred nights,
We find ourselves in the mulch,
Safer than a shelter or doorway.
The police keep the druggies and pimps away
But they let us stay
And they listen to her stories and
bring her cookies and
chocolate milk
And happily ever after is the greatest story of all.

The Median Divides the Here and

Another night to forget
another night with the man who will not be named
Hamelech Malchai Hamlochim-
or so he acted, and so he thought-
Another long trip back to the house-not-home because
I was never asked to see the morning
car redirected, traffic crawls past flashers
battalion of emergency vehicles
even Jaws of Life! slicing open a belly up Civic,
wheels still spinning.

And then I
And then I
I know that car
Where’s my phone and I’m pushing buttons and
I Don’t Know

And my ex answers.
What the hell are you doing calling at 3 am?
She’s upstairs, asleep.
Like you care.
Bitch.

Pale ribbons, soggy bears, rivulet ink paeans,
marking a long ago night to forget.
Families move away, move on,
The crypt island shrinks, as the road is widened
“to facilitate more, faster, travel”
Now, barely large enough for one faded cross,
crooked with years,
three new crosses join it.

My baby is asleep in her bed.

The hand-me-down Civic is in pieces.

Shadow reaches from my stagger
I find my keys and drive to the house-not-home
But still more of a home than where 

New York December - Revision

We spend the solstice together
testing, toes frozen in puddles,
testing if I can live in darkness,
on streets of solemn quiet,
an audience for
the garbage man’s orchestra,
arias of pimps beating the last few
quarters from crack whores,
the applause of my heels on concrete.

You have already rejected my
sunrise. It made you squint and plead
for inner corridors and musty Victorian
drapes and carved doors locked with
fobbed keys.

We share a $2.95 breakfast special at
Moondance.  You pay the check.
I leave a $5 tip before I dive into the light.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Catulli Carmina

You think I’m a pathetic little turd
I’m not
I’m something much stranger
Much sadder
Than that.
A Hack.
Yes, a hack.
Paid by the word
By the line
By the verse
To spew

Joy to the newly wedded virgins [Ha!]
Sadness to the mourning widows [Ha!]
Enlightenment to the beardless youth [Ha!]
Success to those who pursue [Ha!]
Redemption to those who repent [Ha!]

Please don’t insult my intelligence
By believing in
My output.
Why do you think there are cliché phrases?
Formulaic thinking?
Repetitive images?
You think I’m not better than that?
Excuse me while I sip my wine.
You’re such a kidder.

Except …
The words I write for me
And for her
But I don’t want to discuss those.

Barkeep! More wine.
Shoo. Leave me in peace.

Ave atque vale in pacem. Shoo.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What the Eye Sees

work in progress

The mote in my eye conceals the flaws
The words from your mouth reveal. In awe
I sit, dazzled, glazed, until the claw
Of doubt creeps out to unseal the door
Where the hidden goblins congeal and  store
the deep, despairing pain I’ll feel if anymore
Of this mote in my eye unseals.

The motein my eye conceals the flaws
Of all you do, the lying, the deals, and more
As your tentacle fingers steal food from the poor
Lawyers connive, in suits and heels, to pour
Fire waves fed with kerosene, and ravens caw
At tent towns under darkness seal. And when I saw
If I saw, through tears, the movie reel with music score
Of Truth in memory and Justice to heal, this festering sore
As the mote in my eye unseals.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Celeste

“Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” she said, closing the file.
“You can’t do anything? Anything?”
“I can call around, see if there is space at one of the courtesy hotels, but we’re booked.”
I looked at my friend. She shrugged. “Fine. We’ll stay. Two beds, right?”
“Your reservation is for a king.”
Celeste whispered, “It’ll be fine. A king bed is huge. Let’s stay.”
But I didn’t want the bed to be huge. I was going to be in the same room, the same bed as Celeste, for three days. Agony. 
“It’ll be fine. Chill. We’re going to have a good time here, I promise. You’ll pick up all sorts of new skills, meet lots of people. For me? Please?” Celeste smiled, the dimple in her right cheek peeking at me.
“Okay, fine. Let’s just do what we came here to do.”  The desk clerk handed us the keycards and vouchers for complimentary cocktails to compensate us for the inconvenience.
Great.  A conference I didn’t even want to be at because I’m not a writer or a poet or an agent or anything.  One room, one bed, and alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Celeste had picked up a few boxes of cardbordeaux, some white zinfandel, sangria and a case of some limited edition IPA for me.  Our plans were to get plastered together, but not to be plastered together. Man plans and gods laugh. Ha ha.
She put two six-packs and the white zinfandel in the mini fridge. “I’m going to donate the sangria and the cardbordeaux to the greater good, take them down to the office later,” Celeste said as she lined up her toiletries in the bathroom and hung her clothes in the closet.  “Two big towels, two hand towels, two washcloths.  That’ll be fine. I’m going to shower. Be a doll and get some ice, I don’t think five minutes in the fridge will do anything for it.”
I filled the ice bucket and returned to the sound of running water and singing. Celeste liked to sing in the shower.  She claimed it muffled her atonality, but that wasn’t true.  The atonality, not the muffling.  I loved listening to Celeste sing, in the car, on her porch, and now, in the shower.  It was a nice change from listening to her cry.
Celeste cries a lot. With me, anyway.  Guess I’m the shoulder of choice for this girlfriend did that, that boyfriend did this, her parents sucked, her job was meaningless, her friends were thoughtless, yadda yadda.  Singing was sweet.
I filled a large glass with ice and zinfandel, opened an IPA and drank.  The water stopped, but Celeste continued singing, something about a hippopotamus for Christmas, then segued into Rascal Flatts’ “Broken Road.”
And then she opened the door.
Celeste was naked except for the towel wrapped around her hair.  A pair of Dias de Los Muertos skulls surrounded by roses were tattooed over her mastectomy scars.  She smiled.
“I told you there were just enough towels. Oh good, I’m so thirsty. How ‘bout them Mets?”  She picked up the glass sipped, and winked at me.
It was going to be an interesting three days.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why I Love I-4 Traffic

And I thank the stars and the moon
And, most of all,
The traffic gods
Who blessed me

With a child,
Who, chatting with a friend,
A young man, newly married,
But on his own,
single for the weekend,
chatting,

“Oh we haven’t had a girls night out
Since 
The 
Wedding!”

Chatting on phones
Filled with films
And distractions
And traffic reports
From WESH drones
Decide
That they’re too mature
To fight the crowds
On Saturday night
When there is server life
and real estate deals
And anyway

There is no after party, either.

Waking,
I see the headlines
See her car out front
Text the young ones
And go to the new technology of
“Safe Check In.”

My son is there,
With a rainbow flag and a black ribbon
across his beloved face.

I breathe.

I breathe,

Grateful that poor planning
And construction and the curse
Of turnpike traffic crawls
And I-4 gridlock
Gave me more time to love my children.

I bring cases of water to the line at
The Big Red Bus.
I cannot donate.
It is too soon since my last donation.

It is too soon.

I climb the stairs,
Kiss her sleeping shoulder
Remembering the Towers,
Fallen icons of our other home
And light a candle
For the fathers
Who dread the phone that will not ring
this Father's Day,
The phone that will never ring again.

Rain Through Painted Glass

Thin scratch in the paint covered window
If I tilt my head
                more
                                more
                                                more
and squint
perhaps
I’ll see a raindrop

Before
I never thought about the sky
clouds and glitter in the dark
rain was a frowning slippery road to grumble at
torrents of elevated humidity and flood calling cards
leakstains in the corner above the door

Before
I never thought about the wind
knocking down branches and rooftops
now blue tarp covered wrecks
rare scattered days of open windows
low drone of the neighbor’s motorbike

Before
I never thought about the rancid heat
killing new plants and inciting passions
even when the only passion is the next fix
sweat soaked shirts peeled off in the shower
like orange skins dry scent rising

But now all I have is
Time
to think
and squint at the scratch
in the painted over window.