Tuesday, September 27, 2022

poem

 Anger Stone

The counselor assigned my son

The task of drawing what he was

Feeling on a rounded gray stone

My boy filled it with indecipherable

Orange etchings like an ancient Aztec relic


I tried to translate his glyphs

Into a rune that unlocked

The loving gentleness of his heart


I held it to my ear like a shell

And could hear the ghostly 

Groans of my stern thwarted Grandpa


It smelled like the emptiness

Of my dad’s old closet 


I placed it against the tip of my tongue

Only to taste hints of the hard

Feast that could be the rest of my life 


I held it close before my eyes

Hoping to find the faint outline

Of the shape my son will 

Someday sculpt it into, 

As soon as he learns to cut


I’d do anything to help him

But even my strongest teeth

Have already been cracked  





9/27/22

Sunday, September 25, 2022

poem

 A Little Death

You ever wonder why leaves seem most

Beautiful in the fall? It isn’t just the color

But the fact they have a little death in them

Now, though soft and rippling in breezes

Still attached to rooted living trees

But starting to show hints of the end 

In splashes of amber, orange and red.

Even when they fall, they waltz down

Unselfconsciously like grandparents 

At weddings just taking their time 

Soaking up every note of the song 


Only when rusted brown and desiccated

To a crust do they start to lose our interest,

Become an unsightly speckled lawn rash,

Detritus to rake to the curb like trash

Scuttling like loose bones across the roads 

When wintry Canadian winds gust through


I have a little death in me now too

But it isn't the gray infiltrating my temples

Or the lines etched around my eyes 

Or the fact my flesh isn't quite as supple.

I’ve seen too much

I’ve budded and bloomed

Spent a life straining for the sun

In order to complete my assigned work.

I let the wind have its way with me
I’ve trembled in spring breezes

Clung with all my might during summer storms 


But now I’m ready for the fall

I’ve even stopped raking the leaves

Littering my lonely swath of backyard.

They’ve become beautiful to me 

Now. And I know the wind 

Will ultimately blow them all away

No matter what I choose to do.

Some things have nothing to do

 with what we do 


Just let winter be the winter

Let the winds howl and blow

Let the rest be buried by snow


9/25/22

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

poem

 A Narrowing

The break of dawn is a narrowing

Of perception.  All that remains

Of the firmament are a couple of stars

And a chalked wisp of moon

By noon there’s just too much light

And the universe hides. This small

place, which isn’t even a star to 

Anyone else in the rest of the cosmos,

Becomes, for us, the entirety.

This world becomes enough


Love is the light that makes

Just one person enough 

The higher the apex of its sun

The less it seems that anything

Else could ever so shine

And the more singular is this universe 


9/21/22


poem

 Last Thing

Last thing I write

No one will read

Last thing I hold

No one will save

Last thing I say

No one will reply


Last thing I see

Won’t be noticed

By anyone but me 

Last thing I hear 

Dies to the silence

Quivering in my ear


Last thing I feel

Won’t get shared 

Last thing I think

No one will ever know


Last time we spoke

Last time we touched

Last time we kissed.


When you're loved

There is the ache 

Of incomplete knowing


It’s a special kind of suffering.

This mourning of the missing 


And when I’m finally gone

I leave behind a wondering 


9/21/22

Sunday, September 18, 2022

poem

 Pour One Out 

Families are sometimes imperfect 

Vessels to pour our love into

But pour it out we must because

Let’s face it, how else will you taste it?


There will be spills, rest assured,

And you will get unreasonably angry 

Ruing all the love you think you wasted. 

Carafes and bottles eventually


Get chipped, cracked, temporarily misplaced.

Sometimes they dull to the 

Clouded opacity of old glass 

But something happens 


To the love we store there

In dust laden receptacles under stairwells

In cabinets above the refrigerators 

It never matters how much time passes


What we pour in every year 

Mixes with the tannins and acids 

Of unexpected joys and silly estrangements 

And ages into the finest of wines 


Where every year is the best vintage

Every bottle the perfect pairing 

To a rollicking holiday feast  

All we have to do is uncork it.


When we gather together 

Our host carefully pours 

Some into each of our glasses

And then we take turns


Making a series of exuberant toasts

That sometimes can last hours 

We lose track of time

We never run out of wine 


9/18/22

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

poem

 Look Up

Clouds trundling across sky

Like cargo containers in a depot

Life is clouds wandering by 

Where do they go?


Parked outside my office building

I’m 15 minutes late 

Making all the patients wait 

That's when you notice 


The clouds are always moving

No matter how still you need 

Everything to be, like now,  

When you're trying to write 


A searing love letter

That doubles as a break-up letter, 

Using the same arguments 

With the same old words 


A letter that only ends 

When a language is exhausted 

The way a puzzle is only finished

When you’ve used all the pieces 


Life is self gazing, watching it pass

Saying please come back

Please come back, please.

When we’re honest


We feel the forward motion 

And let it take us.

The next time I get stuck,

Lost for words


Bogged down in the mud

Of a stagnant constancy 

I’ll just look up

I may even laugh


No words, just clouds

A life!

My life! 

Heedlessly drifting away 


9/15/22

poem

 Necktie

I stopped wearing neckties

To the hospital for rounds

No more Windsor knots

For me, too much work 

Too much like a noose

Hanging from my gallows 

Paisley power blue tips

Whisking across seeping wounds 

Spreading germs and disease 

I won’t contribute

Anymore to my own death

It’s enough just being alive

It’s why I don't smoke or skydive 

Or swallow swords or play with fire

Why hasten the end?

I should have joined the circus—

The world's smallest man

Watch him twist himself into

A tiny bug-sized bow tie,

The gift shop with rows

Of miniature reproductions 

Of my pretzled contortions 

Made from strands of wool

Dyed the color of human flesh.

You have to squint to appreciate

The pointless artistry.

My body is a perfect ligature

Knotted so tight

The skin is starting to blue.  


9/14/22

Sunday, September 11, 2022

poem

 End of Summer

I love the end of summer

This quasi autumn

Before the leaves turn

When it seems everything

Has settled into its

Form of final being 

Not too hot

Not too cold

A heaven ignorant of hell

A god who never met his devil

Crickets chirping with jazz trio confidence

While the birds seem to know they have plenty of time.

Nature’s done producing

But nothing is ready to be sold 

Nothing is dying yet

And nothing is being born

It's as close as we get to a painting

Where everything we see

Has come to timeless fruition

Nostalgia has narrowed

Down to a sliver containing 

Only what is right now 

This cracked sidewalk

And a sense that we're all

Just kind of stalling.

Kids rattling by on bikes

While someone’s mother is calling

Even in the evening breeze

The languorous leaves scorn

Warnings of a falling 


9/11/22

Friday, September 9, 2022

poem

 Orchids

Live your life

Like it was a question

You didn't know the answer to

Just like everyone else is doing


Without even knowing 


Outside the birds are singing

Staccato then trilling


But the orchids look sad

Elegant thin necks bowing

Under the weight 

Of some inscrutable grief 


What was the question?


9/9/22

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

poem

 Otherness

So much time spent as a me versus everyone else

Believing there's mine and the remainder yours

Inside a mind walled off from all the rest

Me and you

You and me

Us or nothing else


They say there are seven forms of love

But we both know that’s nonsense

There's just the one kind

The only one that matters

The one that bridges the gap

 Between an individual and anyone else.


I’m afraid it’s all an illusion though,

This separation between self

And the rest of the world 

Which would mean love 

Is also an illusion

Or at least an unnecessary link,

That all this time

There was merely no otherness


In which case I think

I’d prefer to remain as me, 

Sequestered over here

Waiting for love to reappear


9/7/22

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

poem

Peaches

Can you please stop 

Eating that peach so loud

I hate the sound of chewing

Gnashing lips and tongue

The wet succulent tearing

Of teeth into flesh 

I hate the sound of anyone eating

I hate the sound of breathing

The necessary noises of the living

Don’t cough, don’t sneeze

Don't fall asleep until I’m passed out

Be silent please

Let there be no sounds

Make it as if I was all alone 

And if you leave, don't go far

I’ll wait for when the silence

Of ceaseless thinking 

Becomes a deafening horror 

And then go out listening 

For the clues to where you are


9/6/22

Monday, September 5, 2022

poem

 Saudade

    Hello my nephew. It’s me, your Uncle Nobody. You probably don’t remember me. We haven’t seen each other in years. I’m one of those guys who just disappears. Rarely even leave a trace. Nothing you did.  It's all my fault.  You were just a child.  Life sweeps you away.  I mean, it swept me away. You don’t even have to call me Uncle. Think of me as a distant cousin, if that’s more comfortable. Think of me as a ghost. A middle aged failure with a scuffed suitcase. An old cuckoo clock you barely remember from your grandmother’s house. I stopped ticking. I gotta be honest, I don’t remember when your birthday is. I hope it isn’t today. I didn’t bring any gifts. I wouldn't know what to bring. Look at you.  All grown up. Married. About to be. Probably have kids soon. You may even be an uncle yourself by now. How would I know?  You don’t have time for this. I apologize for the intrusion. I always think of myself as the shadowy figure lingering under a streetlamp in a trench coat and fedora.  As the sort who eats alone in diners at odd hours. Who spends holidays looking through old pictures of estranged friends and lovers. It doesn’t matter.  You might not think of me at all.  Which is fair.

  

     But I wanted to tell you something now that you've matured. I remember this one time when you were a baby and your mom asked me to pick you up at the daycare and get you to a doctor’s appointment. Well I was running late. She called me in a panic, said the nurse was blowing up her phone and I had to get my shit together pretty quick. I finished my drink. Paid for half a dozen cocktails. I was a bum. But I hustled. I got there. You were sitting in a big highchair in a long line of highchairs up against the far wall. The place was small and musty, low ceilinged and grimy. Toys were scattered everywhere.  Carpet all yellowed and worn. All the attendants looked sullen and disengaged. Like they all needed a smoke.  And all the babies in the highchairs were screaming and thrashing about and making this god awful din.  I almost just left. But then I saw you sitting toward the end, the only kiddo not crying.  I mean you didn’t have the happiest expression on your chubby face but you were fine. You were always like that, so sweet and kind hearted. You took it easy on us. As soon as you saw me across the room, though, your deep brown eyes widened and your little arms shot out like you were reaching for the ledge of a cliff someone had just pushed you off.  When I picked you up, you wrapped those little arms so tight around my neck. Like a little python. I’ve never been hugged like that since. Maybe I just don’t let anyone hug me like that anymore. Or maybe nobody ever really wanted to. Half my problem I think is not knowing whether it’s one or the other.  It made me so happy for some reason. My life sucked then. To be honest it isn’t super ideal now. But then? Didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Where I was going. It isn’t any better now but at least I know it. I know the score. I know where I’m heading— straight to nowhere.


    Did you know you can be so happy you start crying? There should be a different word for that feeling. It’s the best thing ever.  Not quite happy. Melancholic is too harsh. Joy too religious. Not even bittersweet.  It was all just very nice and good. And honest.  I don’t know. I’m no linguist. Anyway, I’m sorry to interrupt your special day. I drove all the way here just to tell you this.  Seems silly now. So many years ago. I don’t know what seized me to get in the car yesterday. Sometimes I still feel your little arms wrapped around my neck.  It gives me that feeling all over again.  I wanted you to know that, is all. That you made me feel like that. Even as a baby you were doling out gifts. I guess I’ll see you around. Tell your mother that your Uncle Nobody says hello. Or maybe don’t mention it at all. I don’t want to cause any more drama.  Now go be somebody.  Go love somebody. Love that pretty girl with all your heart. Don’t be like your Uncle Nobody.  


9/5/22
 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

poem

 Shade

Some dads cast a giant shadow

While others just leave an big empty space

That a boy spends most of his life 

Figuring out ways to fill


He tries on sadness for while

But tears never last for long

In such dry inhospitable ground.

Besides, the man of the house mustn't cry


Even when the man is just a boy. 

So he tries on anger

And it suits him well.

He makes an ax and goes 


In search of forests to fell.

It’s hard work laboring under

The searing gnaw of an acid sun

That burns his pale skin


So many times it thickens

Into a scarred bronze hide

That doesn't hurt anymore 

No matter how bright it shines.


And because it doesn't hurt he keeps cutting 

And the dull thud of metal against wood

Echoes rhythmically like a ticking clock

And time passes and the boy becomes man.


He begins to feel strong.

Cords of cut wood slowly

Fill the old emptiness behind him.

One day, wiping the sweat from his brow,


He notices the large dark shadow

Unfurling away from his form

And the old sadness returns.

He sees at last that 


Shadows are also shade

To shield us from summer furnace 

And that we can’t seek respite in the one we cast,

That someone else must protect us


When we’re young.

And so the man stops cutting.

He puts down his ax.

He takes off anger


And sits for a moment on a stump

While the sun bakes the back of his neck.

And then he sees him, his son,

Just a small boy 


On the very edge of stretched darkness—

Half pale in his shadow

Half shining in the sun,

Now ready for the brunt of the brightness


9/3/22