Thursday, April 30, 2009

day thirty: a thousand farewells

the old wooden boat
wind and water creaking
was at first considered
a hallucination
as it had been
for many empty years
on the haunted shore

he said
her loved her
he meant it
but convinced himself that
he must sail
to find his fortune

she rolled her eyes
cringing at the cliché
but she knew
she could not argue
once his mind was set

birds screamed
echoing across
endless water
standing in the sand
as she watched his boat

and the only words
that left her lips
on the haunted shore
were a thousand farewells

passing weeks
at first seemed cursed
a thousand hours
she spent
serving a thousand ways
she hurt

but soon
the change came
instead of crying
she set to work
using stones
and other means
from this
she created
and it became

while creating beauty
she found clarity
that made miles of hurt
less painful
to navigate

as time passed
with healing hands
people began to
travel to her creations
she became wealthy
without trying
with gold
and other riches

some fools reckoned
she could be
taken advantage of
but instead
they often fled
with scars resembling
intense regret
at their own
if they escaped
at all

and there were
handsome suitors
for her every mood
passing parades
but instead she
busied herself
creating one work of beauty
after another
to keep the pain
mostly at bay
as more buyers
arrived daily
as if sent
by forces that
she did not understand

the old wooden boat
was not a hallucination
five years gone
yet she was there
waiting as if
she knew

as he stepped onshore
clothes ragged
bones weary
soul joyous
reason for living
despite years of doubt
the heavy case
full of riches
weighed heavy
in his hand

he raised the case
as his mouth readied
a speech for her ears
rehearsed a thousand times
but instead
she raised a
smiling finger to lips
and it was then
they were reunited
arms entwined
for now
and the future
flesh and soul
as one
and she heard him
that he would never
say farewell

day twenty-nine: never

with all its broken tone
with its vision forward
shall not be
believed by me
after what she
did to me

she wrote forever
on a piece of paper
with my name on it
and placed it
in my hand
like a promise
like a baby's first footprint
like an epitaph

but now i see
different snapshots
taped to the edges
of her mirror
she plays
his song
like a weapon

lies i always heard
in my short life
my friends lied
my school lied
books lied
movies lied
but i never thought
she would lie

so is it
that never
will i trust
but i know better
than to say never
ever again

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

day twenty-eight: Sestina: beware false paths

tinny music through an old loudspeaker
weary from a long time walking
too many people gathering too many stones
but they'd not had the taste
for using them. they instead waited like cats
in high grass, distracted by the promise of cool running water

all can be healed by the water
it was said to the masses by the speaker
he vibrated, he levitated, he held a siamese cat
but soon the people grew bored, and were again walking
in their mouths they craved a sweeter, instantly gratifying taste
driving their dangerous journey across twisted roads of jagged stones

no one expected them to throw their stones
too busy were they in giving their crops water
their paintings and other art forms showed developed taste
again i woke abruptly to the sound of that loudspeaker
a voice selling new ways of breathing running and walking
ignoring this, i decided it was time to feed my cat

the attention and fresh food seemed to please my cat
although to me its food looked like small stones
out of the room i nearly walked
when i realized i should also give her more water
while on tv, a speaker
advertised their product's new improved taste

bitter tears were all the tv protagonist could taste
that lame show seemed to disturb even my poor cat
as emotional words poured from the television speaker
endless like a quarry's falling stones
flowing like tainted water
and i suddenly longed to again start walking

but i grew weary from the walk
and was reminded of exhaustion's taste
i went to the refrigerator for a bottle of water
i smiled at my now-sleeping cat
oblivious to gathering collections of jagged stones
or the cacophony of the tv speaker

but soon the droning speaker himself found himself walking
and the people decided gathering stones was not to their taste
the lure of aggression was no match for strength and stillness, like a cat is drawn to life-quenching water.

day twenty-seven: Longing: illusion to reality

on the other side
they heard
that it was perfect
every day
bright hot sun
everyone was

the other side
separated by
hatred dripping
from graffitied walls
big guns perched

and people
on one side
for what was on
the other

one day
the wall parted
and soon was
torn down
and in time
it was not
it rained
often overcast
dirty streets

but without the wall
people became
told stories
they dreamed
how it could be
they built
gave their children
a future
of possibilities

it's still
shades between
and people
teach children
about what can be
today and

Monday, April 27, 2009

day twenty-six: Time zoned

met jane
in newport kentucky
good times
her phone number
on the matchbook
her smile
on his mind

called jane
he in newport
she in cincinnati
meet me at denny's
at eight o' clock
she says yes
jim gets dressed

time difference
one hour
jane waits
sinking into
the padded booth
muzak plays on
ice tea refills
smoking section

the smoke hangs
suspended animation
jim arrives
jane sees him
time difference
big mistake
already known
at a glance

jim surveys the scene
in the slo-mo denny's
cigarette butts
in the ashtray
the ice tea glass
tells him
he screwed up

but she smiles
thinks quietly
of playful
in jest
lets it all pass
he said i'm sorry
and meant it

they talk for hours
way past midnight
jim relaxes
jane smiles

he knows
a sign
of true love
is to wait
and another
is to
easily be

and she knows
it was worth
the extra hour
and even
putting up
with that
iced tea

day twenty-five: The event, bittersweet

the event
friday evening
off work
cleaned up
friends and lovers
to the moviehouse
they all went

all crowd in
crunching popcorn
cells phones
ring anyway
still make out
in the back row

the projectionist smiles
sees it all
for the last time
audience gasps
at the promise
of another

fake sentiment
fake butter
oddly coated fingers
chunk of
your cash
gone forever
onscreen dances
reminds you
why you came
or you regret
that you did
or fly
with dozens
of strangers
as shadows
in the dark

crowd reacts
like a was a
live performance
villains booed
heroes cheered
big ending
big applause
but no one
can hear

public gathering
main event
now passed
time to go home
many in the lot
buyer's remorse
wishing that
they'd waited
to rent
the movie

the projectionist
his job
replaced by
until crowds
a couple of boxes
takes with him
looks back
at what it became
and quickly
drives away
from the oversize
concrete box
they call
the cineplex
to his
next event

Saturday, April 25, 2009

day twenty-four: p.s. please care for my dogs

the dining car was empty
there i sat down
to take my
hard-earned rest
dizzy lack of sleep
burning all my senses
my heart
still pounding
as I sat down
and rolled a smoke

pocket watch said 8 0'clock
new york by 1 a.m.
glad this rumbling car
is deserted
i can hardly stand
the sight of strangers

does he see me?
he moves down the hall
as if he has
a place to go
in a hurry
the fool knows nothing
nor will he
he's stumbles to an early bed
and to his own mistress fair

the food was fine
thought i barely
could take a bite
the coffee
burned like fire
hadn't eaten in
nearly two days
so glad that horse
made himself easy
to borrow
for my
hasty escape
i abandoned him
where i know
others will
soon care for him
he was truly
a good horse

still cannot sleep
as lights
flash through
dirty windows
like my life
my station
is nearing
now my next move
is at hand
to board the
large quiet boat
sail across
the atlantic
where i shall

edgar allan poe
was a damned liar
there was no tell-tale sound
from under my floorboards
as i had been
crazy enough
to fear
while i sealed away
my wife no longer
and her surprised
young lover
to god's
vengeful judgement

my only wish
besides my own
continued luck
and safe travels
is that someone
feeds and cares
for my dogs
it is for them
that i am most
that i shall never
see the sweet
wag of their tails
or hear
their friendly
welcoming barks

Thursday, April 23, 2009

day twenty-three: With an air of regret

the phone rings
"hey, did you hear about..."
and soon
there they were
standing outside
the funeral parlor
smoking cigarettes
the bearded one
said he was getting
all misty

with an air of regret
in familiar voice
someone else said
the only time
any of them
get together
is when one of them
and they all
nod in agreement
flicking their ashes

they soon go to
the bar
down the street
the powdered corpse
still on display
in their minds
something to forget

they tip a few
show off snapshots
wives and kids
vacations somewhere
smiles & laughter

they talk of their lives
how they earn a living
the factory shutdowns
and of course
the old days
younger days

it is time
to go back home
they exchange their
business cards
handshakes & hugs
deep wishes
and turn away
worn shoes walking
across dark pavement
getting into cars
closing doors
not to see
each other
a few years later
the phone rings
"hey, did you hear about..."

day twenty-two: The work begins again

proud horse
strains hard
to move the plow
to break the earth
springtime has arrived!
and the work begins

the old farmer
sandy face
weathered beard
jerks the reigns
horse understands
they both stand
catching quiet breath
in the dirt field
hard and uneven
what this work
shall soon bring

sun bright but
wind cold
more rain soon
birds return
all watched silently
never spoken
but as i ride past
i could see
a smile upon
the face of the farmer
as the proud horse
strains hard
to move the plow
to break the earth
and the work begins

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

day twenty-one: haiku

Strange, April's passage
Snow, then hot sun, now cold sleet
Soon, May will bring change

day twenty: dying man

dying man
heart on fire
waking up
momentary fear
still alive?
taking inventory
not knowing death
not yet
sweet breathing
soft music
that beautiful face
her smile
fills his heart
and once again
he knows
he is

Monday, April 20, 2009

day nineteen: anger appears

anger appears
in my rear view mirror
in that dirty pickup truck
tailgating me
for miles
he leans forward
eyes burning
words mouthed hard
steaming his windshield
making his truck swerve

speedometer says
i'm going six miles over
the speed limit
on this two-lane road
it's hard to pass
on the twisting curves

he's closer now
and i'm glad
i can't hear
what he's saying
he's obviously
angry at more
than just me

where is he going
in such a hurry
is it to a place
where all anger

passing zone resumes
he hits the gas
just missing my bumper
as he careens around my car
couldn't help
but glance to my left
and with teeth clenched
he flips me off
as he lurches forward
the sun catches
his bumper sticker
proclaiming angry words
maybe he thinks
with his bumper sticker
it's two against one
a fair fight

and i couldn't help
but laugh out loud
beside the
amusement factor
it makes me
oddly happy
that i'm not
angry like him
i'll have to
remember this guy
next time
i try to write
a poem

Sunday, April 19, 2009

day eighteen: the wind and the lake

rising up the horizon
the water
still warm from
the kindness of
summer's heat
but soon
months pass
and bring changes
across the great lakes
arctic winds
arrive without mercy
the water rises
then falls as snow

out come the shovels
grinding plows
icy asphalt symphony
outside my window
children hopeful for
school closing
ice skates come out
and the match is touched
to kindling and firewood
inside, safe and warm

and the locals
wind each other up
over coffee in diners
shiver and grumble
and long for
the kindness of
summer's heat

day seventeen: All I want is time

as a baby
i was a hapless blob
cried pools of
learning tears
followed me
soaked towels
heavy diapers
couldn't do
for myself
and now i can't remember a damn thing
about how i was
as a baby

as a boy
had a stick shoved in my eye
a chip tattooed on my shoulder
the neighborhood
knocked over
my sand castles
girls broke
my proffered heart
from whom i never learned
sent me to the office
my parents
too busy
with six others
like me
but different
and now i remember
almost too much
about how i was
as a boy

as a teenager
big heart
wicked and sly
stole from supermarkets
smoked cigarettes
smoked pot
behind the pavilion
and liked it
played in a hard rock band
made love to
the football star's girlfriend
after the dance
in my dad's car
and later
her best friend
at her parent's house
good thing he never found out
good thing she never found out
and now i laugh
about how i was
as a teenager

as a college student
couldn't focus
too much life in the way
drank until i
blacked out
more than once
even more pot
made love
to a different girl
almost every night
for five weeks
worshipped them all
i felt like i was
spent in heaven
then they found out
about me
and hell was to pay
figured it was time
to return to classes
i got my degree
and a giant
student loan bill
and i still write checks thinking
about how i was
as a college student

as a man
got my first job
fight with the boss
first week
never went back
took a job
across town
lasted fifteen years
fell in love
got married
three beautiful daughters
who taught dad
who was really boss
and i still fall in love
all over again
when i think
about how i was
as a man

and as i lay dying
it seems like
my baby mind
my boy heart
my teenager guts
my college student curiosity
my man love
i could do it all
next time around

and as everyone gathers
full of love and sorrow
i realize there is so much
that i already have
but all i want
all i want
is time

Friday, April 17, 2009

day sixteen: the color green

the color green
spread wide
filled his sight
the wind
rushed loud past
both of his ears

the creek still flowed
where childhood days
were spent
his sister
his brother
running across the grass

the grass
like a bedsheet
soft and wet with dew
it lay large
as if
waiting for his return

once far away
drawing closer now
the cars
the trees
as he falls faster
he knows
it's almost time
for that long sleep

Thursday, April 16, 2009

day fifteen: Stopping by the Hospital on a Snowy Morning

the day began
as any other
in february
in the north

next door
they donned their thermals
made jack london jokes
as they blew steam from
hot black coffees
scraped frost and
talked fondly of
the sunbelt

the morning roads
cry loneliness
dark and icy

someone is driving
car slips and
a terrible sound
passerby calls 911
ambulance arrives
in time

inside the er
those waiting saw
the stretcher roll past
they saved his life
but soon they
put him out again

no family
no friend
and now no car
he stumbles
into the restaurant
down the snowy block

tv on the wall
cable news scaring
drained customers
as he walks in

she seats him
and lingers for seconds
she knows there is
more to this story

he orders coffee
too tired to
tell tales
and she
too tired
to take his silence
the wrong way

he stays until closing
she pays his bill
a ride offered and accepted
to her lonely apartment
the ghost of her mother
warning her
all the way home

once inside
warm, safe
she phoned
her doctor friend
she came and
his injuries
soon were healed

they talked
they trusted
they both found
what was missing
too much to realize
all at once

as the snow melted
they understood
her life was changed
as was his
so blessed was this meeting
they lived together
for the rest of their lives

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

day fourteen: now eternal

it is vast
yet fits between two
it changes with each breath
yet is eternal
it is made of us
so it will resemble
what we were
what we are
and what we will

it reflects many faces
never looks the same
yet always feels familiar
multitudes of miles to travel
but not on the old road
not on the safest path
but on the one most

never stands still long enough
to truly define
to understand
it must be

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

day thirteen: a hobby / my next breath

deep into my childhood
the 1960s
fridays out
with my family
maybe azar's big boy
or dave's for dinner
followed by
a long stop
at a department store
wt grant
gl perry
shoppers fair

break free
from mom and dad
across the aisles
in the toy section
viewmaster slides
spin the comic book rack
crashmobiles and
rows and rows of model cars
rat fink was our friend
rainbows of testors enamel
but all this was
only a distraction
an opening act
before my main destination

the record department was
my next breath
45s on long wire racks
78 cents each
jukebox singles
a little hole drilled
through the label
39 cents
bins of record albums
more expensive
harder to get
some were over three dollars
but a dollar less
for mono

i could usually get
a 45
maybe two
mr tambourine man
and satisfaction
96 tears
and last train to clarksville
the rain the park and other things
and i can see for miles
the letter
and light my fire
born to be wild
and licking stick
these were no ordinary
slabs of plastic
no idle
display pieces
for the wall
although i loved
looking at labels and
picture sleeves and
the smell
of new vinyl
my hobby
my life
The Music
that stood miles high
that traveled with me
my internal defender
my best friend
got me through
terrible schooldays
vengeful teachers
kids who were
beat too much and
passed it on
it was immunization
the rhythm
the melody
in my head
in my heart
the way each label looked
on the turntable spinning
all encompassing
all magic
all mine

Monday, April 13, 2009

day twelve: So we decided to drive

So we decided to drive
that early April morning
scrape the ice off the windshield
full tank of gas
and we were headed west
not planning to return

cold even for april
turn the heat on full
we're riding in that
1973 red monte carlo
that belonged to your dad

i'll do some driving
we're past chicago now
and st louis is up ahead
the arch
still far away
will soon be
a memory

like another country
much too far
yet less than halfway
amarillo appears
pitch dark and
trading driving frequently
to guard against dozing
but neither of us
could stay awake
flophouse motel
side of the road
we caught five hours
then large coffees to go

i'd never seen stars as big
as the ones
in the arizona sky
they smile on everyone
and made us feel welcome
at home
at last

and now the sun
stretches its warm arms
across california
another tank full
let's make the last leg
in record time

freeways were crazy
millions of cars
going the same way
to los angeles
now we're there at last

what was frost
51 hours ago
now fragrant flowers
and hot sun
the jacuzzi on the condo roof
the radio blasting

might just be a nice vacation
come back and start again
but we know
it's worth the gamble
just to sit
breathe in the warm dry air
and think about the promise
of our new lives

Sunday, April 12, 2009

day eleven: That toy made of rubber

that toy made of rubber
a little cartoon girl
arm outstreched

upon discovery
of her forgotten toy
her face filled
with recognition
she reached
in excited disbelief
pulled it
from the drawer
as if they were
waiting for each other
she studied it
eyes lingering
where the paint
was still faded
from years ago
ran her fingers
gently across it
the texture sent messages
all was safe
as before
it had survived
as had she

the day was spent
in similar recognition
throughout the old house
the years had gone fast
and within that time
millions of miles
was now
behind her

parents old
but happy
still in love
talking, laughing
in the next room
house worn
but still sturdy
all around her
was remembered
but was ripe for

from that
simple rubber toy
real happiness
filled her heart
with joy

and as i watched
from a close distance
still in love with her
it brought me

day ten: Friday

Friday comes
with a deep
childhood memory

Hawthorne school
schoolday over
overcast friday
dark vibe
in the air
while walking home
older rough kid
to be avoided
yelled to me
across the sidewalk
from a distance
"did you hear
some nut
shot Kennedy!"

as i walked home
i wondered
was it true?
and why didn't
they tell us
at school?
we were
first graders
many hated
first graders
but we still
deserved to know

home at last
"did you hear?"
mother asked and
i said yes
the tv was on
i stayed
glued to it

i cried
saddest ever
in my seven years
hope dead
a child stillborn
a flag-covered coffin
real danger
closer, on tv
what did i do
to be punished
like this?
whatever it was
i was sorry

i feared for others
like him
young men
who cared
about kids
pastor kinney
principal davis
reminded me
of Kennedy
and i feared
they would be
shot dead
and me too

that friday passed
saturday mourning
sunday to church
on the way home
the radio spoke
and dad declared
from behind the wheel
"some nut shot
the guy
who shot Kennedy!"
my first thought
guns were
and they did not
keep us safe
were like

i watched the funeral
and on my emenee chord organ
i played the same funeral march
in my tiny bedroom
and cried again

but time moved forward
and pushed me
far away
from that friday
replacing it
with others
and the healing

end of
someone else's week
let my own life
begin again
get in the car
drive forward
go to the gig
play loud
get to spend time
with the ones i love

so now
with the past
reminds me
of my own

Thursday, April 9, 2009

day nine: damn that short-term memory loss

one of my
oldest friends
his wife
my wife
and i
were all around
the table
the white album
on the turntable
side 1 playing loud

i never noticed
mccartney used a pick
on while my guitar gently weeps
is that a hofner he's playing?
the organ swirls
what is that effect
on clapton's guitar?
why was clapton
even there?


i look up
and everyone is
looking at me
only half-grinning
as if their patience
was about to slip
off the leash
for good
those dogs
can certainly
be inconvenient
and rude

look down
at the table
two cards each
facing up
in front of
including me
can't remember
now i realize!
it's my turn
to throw a card
i look at my hand
three cards left
two red jacks
and a queen of clubs

and i strain silently
for a hint
of a memory
the card
that could tell me
my next logical move
is already
turned down
i look up
still hopeful
but confused
my friend
shakes his head
his half-grin
politely frozen
"i'll bet
you're going to ask
what trump is

everyone at the table
including me
breaks into
hysterical laughter
and i am again reminded
that a classic exercise
in futility
is smoking weed
just before
a game of euchre

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

day eight: insomnia routine

the past few days
every evening
after dinner
too tired
to do

those dreamlike
friendly voices
bach passages
as some count sheep
lean back
soon jarred awake
time to put
these weary bones
to bed

four hours later
silent gentle
clock says
not yet morning
slip into
the bathroom next door
then climb
softly into bed again
so not to awaken
She who Sleeps Soundly
my discomfort
tick tick tick
roll every few minutes
side to side
my face
a field of itches
if it comes
the next dream
will shake me awake
with no memory of it
casting me back
to full conscious state
the clock still glowing
barely moved

i surrender
return to my office
sit at my computer
kitties all come
to worship
and be worshipped
always happy
to see me
klang purring
in my lap
comfort and joy
others competing
for my attention
i stare
at a flat screen
glance at email
weather forecasts
misspelled pharmaceuticals
list digests
"foreign husband died brutally, can i use your bank account in christ?"
read, delete, read, delete
answer an email or two
if i can find coherence
type type type
words pour from me
making sense optional
saving optional
look at the news
opinion disguised as reporting
the eternal
ugly discourse
for profit

to eight a.m.
to start
another workday
that is when
my body
tells me it's
time to go back
to sleep


you'll never go back to your OLD DISH SOAP once you try NEW AND IMPROVED product that leaves your dishes in a state of PURE BLISS and after all what would the NEIGHBORS think if they saw LESS THAN SPOTLESS dishes you know what would HAPPEN if you don't BUY OUR PRODUCT become like those HONORABLE enough in ancient times, the EMBARRASSMENT of all things unclean will eventually lead to you KILLING YOURSELF but hey, why bother? just grab the car keys, walk, run, or STEAL a nearby automobile and RUSH RUSH RUSH to the store and buy our super cleaning CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN liquid. with it you can... (dare i say it...) RULE THE WORLD!

day six: no real measure

there is no real measure
no gauge, no gadget, no device to show
but when it goes missing
anyone will know

the sun gets darker
proud birds no longer fly
they squat on filthy pavement
as in a daze, shuffling by

there's less joy in simplicity
living touch no longer warm
healing hand not there to pull the thread
where fabric has been torn

i became detective
to find what it might be
that's missing in the underbrush
or maybe lost at sea

they took it to emergency
and strapped it to a bed
with meters humming, doc explains
it's all just in our head

but when it goes missing
purgatory's colder
it's wanting for a warmer coat
and the feel of getting older

some say it's what completes the soul
some look for it only from above
but it's known well when it's here again
and this they call it love