Thursday, June 30, 2016

Arbor Wist

Arbor Wist

Spread wide, I drape the arbor
With scent and scattered petals
Shadow evocation of little girls with
Frill filled baskets.

Bored, alone, I gaze across the path,
Over the stone wall
To the St Johns
That now deserted waterway
Once a hotbed of commerce.
A sculler crew plies their craft
Stroke stroke stroke
The murmur of the drummaster beating galley time.

A child stands on the wall,
Her mother paralyzed with fear
Until a stranger throws an arm out,
Swings the child to safety
And carries her off to the sprawling banyon tree.
I hear him say, climb here. Mama, come, she’s fine.

The stranger approaches me
Takes a seat on my concrete bench
Dabbles his toes in lily pond
Staring out at the amber sky.

He turns to the woman,
The woman I hadn’t notices in my sculling revery.
She clasps an open copy of Virgil’s Aeneid.
The murmuring was her voice, slow Latin,
Rounding the words.

He turns to her, intent on her profile,
the curve of her nose
the length of her fingers on the page.
Leans over and brushes the scar on her shoulder with his lips.
I drop some petals on her book
And close my vines around them.

Rain through painted glass

Rain Through Painted Glass

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

I never thought about the ky
Clouds and glitter in the dark
Rain was a frowning slippery road to grumble at
Torrent that left elevated humidity and flood calling cards

I never thought about the wind
Knocking down leaves and rooftops
Now blue tarp covered wrecks
The scattered few days of open windows

I never thought about the rancid heat
Killing new plants and inciting passion killings
Even when the only passion is the next fix
And sweat soaked shirts peeled off in the shower
Like orange skin.

But now all I have is
To think
And squint at the scratch
In the painted over window.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Heated Arguments

At 105 degrees, the body shuts down.
The blood has boiled away, leaving skin tight to sinew,
Oxygen starved muscles and bones.

Mine boiled away long before that,
Mine boiled away on the long trip here, seeking a wet savior
Every movement frantic, every movement slower to stop.
The pointless journey of self flagellation that put my heart
Through a meat grinder leaving a pile of scarlet mixed
With pieces that do not pass FDA approval.

I stand in judgment, fun house mirrors of me,
As jury, defendant, prosecutor and gavel pounding judge.
Order in the court.
The folded note, passed from trembling hand to trembling fingers,
Held by me, for me, waiting to be opened and read
Suicide by proxy, running into a hail of bullets,
Jetes and plies punctuate a full split on the floor and
An arabesque .

Overpriced macchiato that I won’t drink provides a shield,
I will watch and I will wait and I will fall and I will fail
To reach any conclusion except I am lost.

The Joy of Cleaning

There were few things she excelled at, few things she was even good at, but, by golly, she could clean.

Properly outfitted in headscarf, pinafore, heavy duty to the elbow rubber gloves, a bucket of hot, soapy water by her side, spray bottles of bleach, vinegar and foam cleaner clipped to her utility belt, steel wool scrubbies and polishing clothes in various pockets, bathroom grime was doomed.

Stripping towels, shower curtains and mats, she sprayed the shower enclosure with one of her magic concoctions and poured some vinegar into the toilet tank before tossing them into the wash, set on a hot/warm cycle. She returned to the bath, the aforementioned magic concoctions having already done a good deal of the work for her.  All the doodads that accumulated on the vanity were placed in shallow tray filled with warm water and a splash of bleach.  The toothbrushes and combs soaked in a mixture of boiling water and industrial strength peroxide.

She scrubbed from top to bottom, rinsed the walls, then sprayed the walls with hot water to remove any soap residue. Next, she wrapped the shower nozzle in a plastic bag with a few tablespoons of vinegar to dissolve the mineral deposits that accumulated in the spray holes.  An old towel made the toilet sparkle, after a good scrubbing with foam cleaner and disinfection with bleach. She switched to a non-abrasive polishing cloth for the granite counter.  The drawer faces and pulls, the towel bars, light switch plate, door knobs, even the door hinges were subject to her attention.

The timer clipped to her collar beeped, indicating it was time to put the shower curtains into an extra hot dryer just long enough to release the wrinkles. She hung the curtain, now dry and algae free, then reset the dryer for an hour to dry the towels and mats. She went over the floor again, wiping down the coving and using a cotton swab in the corners. 

The timer beeped again for the towels.  She enjoyed folding the warm towels into thirds, hanging them so the seams faced the same way, aligning the hand towels on top of the bath sheets, folding and stacking the washcloths and placing them on the wrought iron towel rack.

The bathroom didn’t just smell clean, it smelled hygienic. 

Everything was neat and shiny.  The towels were crisp, the shower curtain draped just so, the doodads replaced, the combs were back in the hair accessory holder. Soap slivers had been removed and replaced with a new bar of soap. The antibacterial liquid soap container had been replaced with a new one, appropriate to the season. The artificial flowers in the corner vase had been vacuumed. The toothbrushes, floss and dental pics were in the toothbrush tray and all four tubes of toothpaste were in a row, the ends neatly rolled up.

She smiled, surveying her morning’s work.

The Missus walked in, gave her a cold nod, picked up one of the toothpaste tubes and squeezed it, right in the middle. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Red Wheelbarrow for William Carlos Williams

So much depends upon                                           Sept 29 2015
a red wheel barrow
glazed with rain
beside the white chickens.

Dust road shimmer, another dry afternoon
Cloudburst enough for runnels
And rotting spilt grain,
A week’s worth of grain
On the ground, near the coop
But not enough for new corn
Or unshrivel beans.
She sends the children,
Barrow tippers of grain, now
mixed with rotgut bottles in the
knobbyshade tree roots,
to a neighbor, and watches
the chickens peck peck peck
at precious scattered gold.
Yellow marks and cigarette ‘O’s
on her arms and ankles
wait for new color.

There was no money to paint the house
but, soon, she would be vivid as sunset.

Cutting the Cord

Your long silence
You could be dead.
But, so could I.

Awake alternatives a stately reel
in quarter time. The fiddler
switches to a dirge and a
rotating paceline parades
through places I have lived.

It passes your door, pauses.
You do not emerge, not even
for the cymbals, not even
for the hurdy gurdy man.

New York October

We spend the equinox together
testing, toes frozen in puddles,
testing if I can live in
darkness, on streets of quiet except
for the trash collector and the
cries of pimps beating the last few
pennies from crack whores.

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.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Waiting for the Rapture

You tell me,
with a certainty I envy,
what you'll change,
what you’ll do:
Stay awake,
watching the clock click random numbers,
as the ducks,
a family of old Muscovies,
Gramps and Tricky and Jeanette and
Ambrose, who has only part of one foot
because feral cats ate the rest,
curl up under the tree next to
the retention pond filled with
fish hiding under the algae
to avoid becoming cormorant breakfast,
southwest breeze rippling the moonlight reflection.
You'll stay awake while I sleep, half on top of you,
just like every other night.
"Not a blessed thing different," you say.
"Not a blessed thing."

Glass Slivers and Glue

Ship in a bottle, relic
Of a visit to a whaling museum, relic
Of a relationship once
as whole as the spigot,
small piece hidden
under the carved wooden stand,
bottle turned to conceal
its unwholeness.

Glass slivers and glue
Applied with fine brush
canting needle
But all the precision
Concentrated in his fingertips
Cannot make one
That which is broken.

Tommy Salami

Unaccompanied, she wanders into
The children’s room,
Violating rules written and unwritten
But the Librarian doesn’t stop her.
She wanders into
The children’s room
Takes a seat at the low table
Opens books at random
Disarranging the piles.
The eighth book, familiar to tears,
Scarred into her memory,
Tale of a lost child,
taken by strangers
returned to the grocery store.
over and over,
until he is claimed by his
rightful mother and
carried home to tea.
She has no child to carry home
And brews her tea with the
Warm salt water streaming from her eyes.

It is closing time. 
The Librarian asks if she would prefer muffins or
toast for breakfast tomorrow

Vacation 1963

No matter how much gas you put in the tank,
it does not mend a broken piston.
Two or three or four or five days for a
replacement, here on the northeast side
of We-Got-Lost, Canada,
or a local farmer might maybe make
alterations 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?

The small child, wrapped
smaller still, huddles under the
bed, so she can’t see those
fluttering wings or hear the high
pitched squeaks, just like 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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Black Thing

im going to stay here until they go away
im going to stay right here in the closet
oh stop smirking not that kind of closet
no one in this family is in that kind of closet
im in a for real closet                                                                                                            
my favorite closet way up on the top shelf sprawled across the hatboxes of military helmets collapsible toppers berets fedoras souwesters and bowlers where i can inhale the leather scent of the mans jackets  

its quiet up here with the good smell of leather and man sweat
i dont like the hubbub the crowds in the living room kitchen bedrooms
even the bathroom where the man keeps my box
the apartment is full of people
the mans sister
his friend
his friends siamese bitch
yes i know a bitch is a dog but i am using the other meaning of the word
you dont insult my intelligence and i wont insult yours
at least ill try not to insult yours whatever intelligence you have anyway

so many other people that i am dizzy with the smells
i am too old and fat to avoid their legs
keep their heels off my tail and their hands off me
i dont like when they touch me 
i dont like strange people touching me
i belong to the man
im not even sure how i managed to get up here
its been years since i climbed the coats but now i am here
up on top of the hatboxes in the warm quiet
so quiet up here away from everything everyone all over
im going to stay up here until they go away and the man helps me down

i hope he comes soon
he should be looking for me i think 
such a long time since he fed me
since anyone fed me even the mans friend or the mans sister
they give me dry food but the man shares real food with me and I bring him presents
okay I used to bring him presents when I was younger
he even made a poster for the door with a scorecard because he is proud of my hunting
ill just take another little nap while i wait

its late

its so very late

i know its late because im very hungry and i want down

when the man gets me ill pretend to be annoyed and hiss but i hope he comes soon
maybe when he gets me down he will be sorry for forgetting me and he will hold me and give me treats and stroke my fur and play make believe and put me in the hats and take pictures of me like we used to do before when we were young and sleek and not grey anywhere

hes gotten so thin
i wish i could give him some of my fatness
i wish i could

im so fat now i take up his whole lap and the rest of the sofa too 
he pushes me off because his stomach hurts all the time so I go up on the back of the sofa to nuzzle his neck and watch the fireplace with him

i know what ill do
ill call him and he will come and reach way up and say come here black thing you silly old black thing what are you doing up there all alone and pull me down and hold me and take me to sit on the sofa with him

im going to call him now



oh man come get me man
if you get me down we can sit in the living room and i will do the firefly dance on the windowsill and play peekaboo with the curtains to make you laugh and i will bring you a present
oh maaaaaannnn my man come get me please

i wish he'd come get me
im lonely up here
i dont want to be up here anymore

why doesnt he come
he always comes when i call
where is he            
where is my man

i wish everyone would just go away already so the man can get me and sit on the sofa with me and watch the fireplace and eat sardines right out of the can and itll be me and him and everything will be okay like before

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Staring at the out of focus mirror, at the baby smooth skull, I smile. There is a safety razor on the edge of the bath, and I know the blades will be counted later.
I’m not allowed to keep the extras, not since they found out that I’d found out and tried to make a quick and almost painless blink but since then I’d acceded to their wishes,
drank the Kool-Aid and lain in the hum hum hum machines.
They do give me a little bit of privacy.
The soap lather is slick, squishy, making quick work of my final depilation.
If I make myself bald now, then I will be bald all over.
I can’t reach my back, but I think that’s pretty hairless anyway.
I look like one of those very naked mannequins, hairless and sexless.
I won. Not them.
I tricked them, tricked them all, not waiting for the hum hum hum machine to take my hair, take my sex, take my me.
I’m going to use a whole bottle of lotion now and make me feel pretty.
And then I’ll count the stitches on my ribs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Quiet is Underwhelming

We’re too silent now. I know, we promised silence, misguided thing that silence is, thinking silence is the same as comfort, that silence is the absence of strife.

It’s not. It’s just silence.

Except when it is another symptom of yet another cause, another reaction to another unknown.
Walls, gates, moats,
Wagons, caves, motes.
We build so much, wanting something different.
We know what we don’t want, everyone knows what they don’t want-or they think they do.
That is the easy part, knowing what you don’t want: vanilla ice cream, brussels sprouts, sardines.
But doing something you don’t do so you’ll get something you don’t have...

It’s time.

I’m taking down walls, storming gates, crossing moats.
I’m slipping between wagons, searching caves, removing motes from our eyes.
From both our eyes.
Put away stubborn, pride, inflexible. Put away fear.
How could I think less of you when I am so so far from the shadow of perfect myself, staring at perfect’s ass, so far behind I am in a lapped field on the verge of being pulled?
Beat down stubborn, pride, inflexible-more you does not mean less me.
The fallout and backlash anticipated, those are just shards from another goblet thrown by someone else, not me, never by me, and missed by the vacuum cleaner.

I’ve been there.
So take me to the common ground and we will open out mouths, let words pour out, smudge the chalk art in the driveway and the lines in the sand, cross the boundaries leading to a new place where no one cowers in the closet behind the winter coats and worn out sneakers and crumpled scraps of gift wrap.
We’ll go there, speak untested, unafraid and be silent together later.


I am a feral dog fighting over rancid meat.

Scared, wild, hungry.
Sniffing, snarling. Stay away!
All slowly dying.

You think we’re human?
No, poverty took us down
to woods alleys graves.

Invisible now,
feel their cold breath on your neck,
hear their echo howls.