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,

“Oh we haven’t had a girls night out

Chatting on phones
Filled with films
And distractions
And traffic reports
From WESH drones
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.

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
and squint
I’ll see a raindrop

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

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

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
to think
and squint at the scratch
in the painted over window.

Teshuvah, Tefilla, Tzedakah

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!

Bagadnu, gazalnu ,dibarnu dofi:
But I do not live alone.
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.

Heevinu, v'hirshanu:
In my heart, I am always alone.

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.

I am a walking suicide.

Tafalnu sheker:
I am more alone than I am with
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.

Rashanu, shichatnu,Tiavnu, tainu, titanu:
The conductor holds the door, impatient,
Calling me night after night.
All aboard, where’s your ticket,
Reading numbers inked on the inside of my forearm.

The ducks sing Adonai dayan ha-emet
And then I hear nothing.


Teshuvah, Tefilla and Tzedakah[Ma’avreen et roa ha’gezeirah]

Repentence, Prayer and Charity Temper Judgement’s Severe Decree

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.

Ashamnu-we have tresspassed
Bagadnu- we have dealt treaturously
gazalnu-we have robbed
Dibarnu dofi- we have spoken slander
heevinu- we have acted perversly
v'hirshanu-we have done wrong
zadnu- we have acted presumptuously
hamasnu- we have done violence
tafalnu sheker- we have practiced deceit
rashanu- we have acted wickedly
shichatnu- we have dealt corruptly
tiavnu-we have committed abomination
tainu- we have gone astray
titanu- we have led others astray

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