Monday, February 5, 2018

Happy Birthday Sweetheart

Every year
the chorus on the
other side of the veil
Numb to the oldest members’
tenor-alto-soprano, their buzzes
are a gentle sting at the base of my spine.
The newest addition, an off-key tenor,
with raucous glee,
chants his own version
of that ancient hymn.
His fingers caress my scars, pausing
against the shadowed fractures of my ribs,
as they climb,
until they cradle my naked skull.
He removes his kippah,
the one I made him
for some long-forgotten event,
puts it on me
to keep me warm.
The only voice I hear is mine,
chanting the kaddish
as I light the candles,
adding one.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Summer Vacation 1963

No matter how much gas you put in the tank,
it does not mend a broken piston.
Two or three or some-other-number
days wait for a replacement, here,
on the northeast side of
We-Got-Lost, Canada.
Or a local farmer might maybe make
alliterations and altercations to a
tractor engine
sufficient reshaping for a
Sturdy American Sedan,
crammed full of adults, teens and
One Small Child,
who wonders if the bats
flying against the window
are vampires and if they
break that window,
will they kill her?

One Small Child, wrapped
smaller still, huddled under the
bed, so she can’t see
that big window with no curtain,
those fluttering wings, or
hear the high pitched squeaks
that sound just like her, when she hid
in the backseat footwell
to avoid her brothers’ pinches.

Perhaps the farmer can reshape
her small enough to
box her and
ship her

Monday, December 18, 2017



Candles glow
watch them flicker
every home
they are dancing
a beautiful sight
we're happy tonight
frying lots of latkes in a pan

Gone away was the oil
Here to stay is new oil
It burns for eight nights
we’re happy tonight
frying lots of latkes in a pan

On the lawn we can set a blow up
Our One Armed Giant Dreidel Bear
He’ll be joined by Junior
But where’s mama?     
Amazon can do the job
with Super Prime!

Later on                                      
we’ll have donuts                         
Maybe holes and some sour cream                                   
With warm applesauce                  
We’re having a blast            
frying lots of latkes in a pan

On the lawn we can set a blow up  
Our One Armed Giant Dreidel Bear
We’ll have fun with One Armed Dreidel
Til the sun and wind knock him down

When its cold                                        
Ain’t it thrilling             
Though our noses get chilling                 
We’ll frolic and play                                        
the Florida Way           
frying lots of latkes in a pan

frying lots of latkes in a pan          
frying lots of latkes in a pan

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
                                    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,

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.

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 101: A Play in One Act

Catullus has returned to Rome from delivering the eulogy at his brother’s funeral.
He is sitting at a bar, about to be cut off. His friend is trying to get him to leave.
You think I’m a pathetic little turd?
Pfft! I’m not.
I’m something much stranger
much sadder
than that.
A Hack.
Yes, a hack.
Paid by the verse
by the line
by the word.

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 for …
the words I write for me
and the words I write for her
but I won’t discuss those.

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

Ave atque vale, frater, ave atque vale. 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.