Saturday, July 13, 2024

poem

 Wrong Number

I dialed the wrong number and right away I knew

It was the wrong number. A voice answered, but of course

It wasn’t my mother, it wasn’t her number.

But they thanked me for calling;

Grateful actually

The voice on the other end of the line

Said she was grateful that I had called,

Mistakenly, as it turns out, but nevertheless.

There were voices in the background 

And I could hear weeping and the TV turned up too loud

Someone shouted turn the television down, goddamit!

And I knew this was what everyone else 

Had to pretend to manage with feigned equanimity


I saw an old man on a bicycle

Riding with cartoonishly perfect posture

Albeit far behind his elderly wife

Woefully so

He was overweight and wearing a baseball cap

The sort of baseball cap you might see drawn 

In a dictionary published in the year 1957

Next to the word “baseball cap”

Nothing odd about his pedaling

Not like he was about to fall or crash

But, man


That was the moment when I first

Began to question my own sanity

Because if reality is just what’s happening 

Inside one collective consciousness

What happens when you

Go beyond a healthy skepticism

And begin to simply not accept it?

Well then, it’s the end of the road

Where else are you going to go?

You’re on your own, buddy,

In a place no other can ever know


7/13/24

Thursday, July 11, 2024

poem

 Act of Malice

Everything can be traced back to an original act of malice

Otherwise there is no history, nothing to be written about 

Every act of kindness is just another sunrise or summer storm

Violence is the price that is paid for sentient continuity


Until someone hurts you, 

Nothing has ever happened

To you


7/11/24

poem

 Strawberry Moon

Giant strawberry moon

Guiding all us weary

Drivers home from work 

None of us pay attention

To anything else

Eyes riveted to 

Its ominous pink glow 

The road disappears

Yellow lines dissolve

And headlights fade

We barrel down the highway

Past smoking heaps

Of twisted black metal

And bodies strapped to stretchers 

On graveled shoulders 

Feeding ourselves into the gaping maw

Of whatever cataclysm is to come 

But no one crashes

None of us get hurt

Direct deposit paychecks 

Continue unabated 

The stock market goes up 

You still look so young

Somehow we all 

End up home 

Alive and well

Halfway down the throat

Of ravenous beast


7/11/24

poem

 Brio

What if you had nothing?

No friends, no talents, no looks

No integrity, no sense of shame

No intelligence, no taste

No chill, no savoir faire 

No esprit de corps, no lonely

No drive, no ambition

No courage, no brio

No charm, no funny way about you

No tendency for raw honesty

No capacity for receiving love 

You couldn't even call yourself nothing

Because you are just the person

Who is all the things you’re not.


7/11/24

poem

 Talking to Myself

Had another interesting conversation with myself

I’m still trying to process what just happened

I asked a few fairly benign, albeit poignant, questions

And the replies just threw me for an unexpected loop.

Who was this person and what else did he know?

He knew things I wasn’t supposed to understand 

Things I never would have guessed I could’ve known. 

After a steady deluge of demystification I stopped asking 

Questions and just sat there for a while and listened.

It was the way to get to know him better

This stranger sharing a space I thought was all mine


7/11/24

Saturday, July 6, 2024

poem

 Florida Room

Yelled at my son for trashing

the Florida room again—

disheveled throw pillows, 

cushions freckled with crumbs, 

hunks of cubed fruit like hacked flesh 

littering the floor like a third world abattoir,

water bottles scattered like drunks

at a frat house, morning after a bash.

Growing up is learning to leave things

Unblemished, as if you were never there.


I tell him—

Try to be the tossed stone

that ripples a placid pond

with all the energy it carries, and no more.

Yes, it’s a strange kind of pleasure

to briefly disturb a universe 

before the surface smooths to glass.

But learn the lesson— it never lasts.


It’s something everyone ought to know

and he needs to be ready,

not only for the disturbance

but the inevitable erasure.

And better he learn it now

from someone who loves him

than to find out halfway through 

his life that he is not a moon

able to conjure an endless

cavalcade of waves 

to break against the shore.


Anyone can make a mess.

In fact, everyone should— 

don’t be the boy who 

never plays with his toys

lest they get scratched,

who keeps his favorite shirt

always hanging in the closet

so it doesn’t get stained 

who hoards his love

for a moment that never comes,

who spends a lifetime

collecting piles of smooth stones

by the banks of tranquil waters 


I tell him—

throw your stones, son,

every last one, 

because if you don’t

someone else will.


And then, because I'm the dad

and you have to do what I say,

clean it all up,

leave your spaces spotless,

before time gets the chance

to do it for you


7/6/24

poem

 Bonfire

The world is a bonfire

And we’re all adding

Our little kindlings

Our twigs and torn off

Scraps of paper

All you ever hear

Is don't get too close,

Move back

We’re supposed to watch 

It in silent reverence

From a safe distance

As it consumes

Everything we give it


7/6/24

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

poem

 A Circle Is Just a Line

A circle is just a line

That returns to itself

It goes far enough

And then decides to come back 

So it can do it all over again.

Love is the gravity

That brings us together

Dust fell in love with dust

Until it became a moon

Which fell in love with the earth 

Whose eyes were already pining 

For the brightest thing in the sky 

When you sleep 

I circle the bed

Like an anxious wolf

When I walk away 

From you, into the dusk

Turn and face the other direction

I’ll be the one you see

In front of the rising sun


7/2/24

poem

 Template

The patient was brought to the operating room and placed supine. Safety confirmations were completed. The drapes were arrayed. The freshly prepped square of exposed flesh was an orange glaze under the hot white light. A scalpel was slapped into a gloved hand. Then a flurry of rote activity. The robot was docked. Everything proceeded from there according to meticulously planned habit. What more do you want to know? It all worked out. The details wouldn’t interest you. Like my life. I was born, I lived, made catastrophic errors, had a few things go right, caught some luck, found a bit of joy and plenty of suffering. Someday someone I love will mumble a few kind words over my fallen form. Or so I hope. What more do you really want to know? You were asleep through the whole thing, anyway. Or you were out in the waiting room reading a magazine. I meant to tell you all about it when I got home from the hospital. But I never really got home. Was always working. Or worried about not working enough. Would get so tired I wouldn’t feel like thinking let alone talking. Started to dictate all my notes using a template. Every operation sounded exactly the same.

7/2/24

poem

 Cryptogram

I wrote a letter to you and then ripped it to shreds because it didn’t make any sense. Word after word after word that never added up to a single coherent thought. As if I were emotionally dyslexic. Or grammatically distraught. Like I was writing in cryptic language and you needed an ancient cipher to break the code. Either that or maybe you have to cut each word out individually and put them all in a plastic jack-o’-lantern like you’re getting ready to play family charades or prepping for a raffle. Close your eyes, reach in and choose. Each word you pull is the right word. Glue them to your heart. Hold a mirror up to your chest and read what it says. Then you’ll know. . 


7/2/24