Saturday, July 24, 2021

What Color Are Your Eyes Today

 

“What color are your eyes today?”
I asked you in my dream last night.
“Do they change to match your mood,
or to match your dress?”
                                          You sighed,
“They change at your command, my love,
as does the rhythm of my heart.
You’ve seen them true and clearly,
you’ve known me from the start.”

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Now that it’s too late

Now that it’s too late,
I thank you every day.
Now that it’s too late,
I listen to your gentle
wisdom with gratitude.
Now that it’s too late,
I would pay more to hear
the sound of your voice
than for almost any other
thing I can imagine.
Now that it’s too late,
I wish I had never let
a single day go by
without telling you,
or somehow showing you,
that I love you.
Now that it’s too late,
I would gladly give up
what little hair I have left
to return to the days
when I could sit in your lap
in your fake-leather recliner
and run my fingers through
your thinning and oily hair,
which I can still smell today.
I am grateful for the final years,
as roommates and friends.
And I am grateful for the early years
of riding on your shoulders.
And I am grateful for all the years between,
even if I didn’t recognize
their value at the time.
Now that it’s too late,
I wanted you to know.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Grief

when my mother died,
i did not grieve,
for reasons still unclear.
i mean not to displace the blame;
the fault, if such it can be called,
was/is only mine.
there is/was no one else.
 
grief, though, is a form of energy,
and its potentiality
remained long hidden
(but ever real)
in my dark corners.
 
when my father died,
my grief (now doubled)
manifested itself physically,
with fever and chills
and aching and trembling.
i hid beneath blankets
for days until
it burned itself out.
a fire, not of cleansing
or redemption,
but of pain for its own sake.
 
what remains has yet to be determined
or is not worth examination.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

More Time Dying Than Living

there is nothing we desire more than to be loved.
so why do we spend so much time dying
when we could be living?
 
we wish to laugh with joy and humor,
but don’t take ourselves seriously enough to be funny.
 
in memories we find, or hope to,
the treasures of a life.
but memory is a mirror cracked,
ever on the cusp of shattering
into a thousand sword-sharp shards.
 
we proceed through life guided only by
a damaged map of an enshrouded world:
an incomplete set of information
about an ever-changing cosmos.
but it’s from not knowing that meaning comes.
the mystery is the point.
 
so, battle the monster if you must,
but remember:
the monster is only yourself,
and all wars are useless and foolish
and fought over delusions.
 
we each differ in our natures, it seems,
or perhaps only in our degrees of illness…
an illness for which there is no treatment but love,
and no cure short of death.
 
auto-bio-fictional,
we each re-write our stories as we go.
my pages are dog-eared and worn;
too many times re-read, perhaps,
and re-written just as many.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

I will pound on your door

 
If it’s locked when I get there
I will pound on your door
until you let me in.
I’ll scratch and scrape at the hinges
like a dog or a child
who longs for the hearth,
who longs for the breast,
who longs for home.
 
If we should meet,
unplanned, in the street,
as if our separate steps
were directed by gods
from Olympian heights,
then we’ll kiss and I’ll hold you,
and that will be enough.
 
And if I die before you
I will wait.
I will hide in the corner
of whatever room
you happen to be in,
or snug in your pocket.
And if you die before I,
I will lay myself down
and stretch myself out
on your grave.
 
I know you are strong,
the strongest I’ve known,
but even the strong grow tired.
So lie down beside me and rest a while,
for I am not strong, but I love you.
 
And if I die before you
I will wait.
I will hide in the corner
of whatever room
you happen to be in,
or snug in your pocket.
And if you die before I,
I will lay myself down
and stretch myself out
on your grave,
for I am not strong, but I love you.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

to measure time

 to measure time

by the movements of a lover

is to attain a higher level

on the journey to becoming human

to becoming whole

Sunday, May 16, 2021

DIY Angel

 With wings she stitched herself from an old par of curtains
And a halo twisted from aluminum foil
She’s my DIY angel, my self-made messenger of the divine
 
She's a bad speller but her words are right                                  
Full of wisdom and crystal-clear insight  
Wounds of the flesh that heal the heart                
Bite my ear, scratch my back, that’s a good start
 
An endless kiss that turns daytime night
Does things with her left hand that feel so right
Fire burns the lies in my eyes seeing her
A love that could be seen would to all else blind her
 
With wings she stitched herself from an old par of curtains
And a halo twisted from aluminum foil
She’s my DIY angel, my self-made messenger of the divine

Saturday, May 1, 2021

I Will Always Return Home to You

If life is a series of journeys,
station to station and port to port,
I swear to you here and now
I will always return home to you.
 
If life is one dance to the next,
with waltzes and rhumbas and tangos and reels,
I may have kicked up my heels with
this one and that one,
but yours will be
the last name on my card.
  
If each day’s a cocktail or highball or shot,
no matter which gin joint I happen to be in,
the last toast I make at closing
will always be to you.
 
If life is just the memories we save
from the moments we’ve dreamed,
then you can rest assured:
every dream I’ve dreamed has been of your kiss.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

as different as two drops of water

each as different as two drops of water
as alike as two grains of sand
as bound together as
the clouds to the weather
as separate as “or” is from “and”
 
we’re all traveling through time
at one minute per minute
and though we don’t know it
since we’re traveling so slow
we’re on our way back to beginning

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Catching Crows In A Jar (November 2017)

While catching crows in a jar I find
An angel’s broken wings lying in the snow
Broken angel, fallen, shattered
The crows call, caw, I’ll release them
When they’re no longer needed
My plan proceeds
The angel walks now, on tired feet
Tired soles
A lonely soul
Fallen, shattered on the snowy earth
The jar, a mason jar, fit for pickled beets
Or pig’s feet
Not suited for catching crows
Falls from my hand and shatters
The crows dissolve into the snow
Like a black teardrop in the ocean
A tear from the eye of a mystic saint
Or an addled con-man on the take
Rheumy eyed and drooling
My plan is shattered
Shards of glass cut me
Open me, leave me hollow and burning
The angel’s hand touches my wound
Cool relief
Disbelief shattered
And the crows soar into the setting sun
And the angel is taken up
Rising into a Michelangelo cloud
Only I remain, in the snow
Fallen and shattered 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Fullness of Time

 
Believers say,
“All things come in the fullness of time”,
But time is never full.
Time, which we see only
In the spaces in between us,
In the expectations and encounters
We have with one another,
Time moving ever forward on its entropic arc
(bending toward what?),
Inescapable, incomprehensible,
Inexhaustible and unfillable,
Time everlasting.
 
What a strange sea it is to swim through,
This roiling sea of Time.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Jesus Christ and Peter Pan (Archives - June 2014)

 
Jesus Christ and Peter Pan walk into a bar. 
No joke. 
The Easter Bunny and St. Patrick are sitting at a table in the back, playing cards. 
Jesus says, “Hey, Peter, let’s sit with these guys, they’re friends of mine, from the old days.”
St. Patrick says, “Hello, Jesus, I see you got yourself a new Peter.  Does he rock?” 
“Judge not”, answers Jesus, taking a seat against the wall. 
The waitress is a Disney Princess, the kind who sings to the cartoon birds on her shoulder.
“Hello, boys” she says in a New York accent.  Brooklyn, most likely.  “What’ll you have?”
“Four waters”, says Jesus. 
The other guys all chuckle.  They know the deal.
Princess Waitress turns on her heel and waltzes over to the bar where Brutus the burly barkeep waits, flexing his bicep with the anchor tattoo.
“These jokers at table 6 want four waters”, she says, with a smile and a twinkle in her eye.
Brutus says, “That one with the beard looks familiar.  You get his name?”
“Nah, but his friend in the green is cute”, and she sucks absentmindedly on her pencil.
 “Well, tell them they ain’t getting just water.  They order food or real drinks, or they’re out.”
“Ok, Brutus-baby.  I’ll tell ‘em.” 
She sashays back to the corner, trailing a rainbow behind her.
Meanwhile, The Bunny is dealing, “I ought to know better than to gamble with you guys.”
Before the cards are all dealt, Jesus raises two bits. “I’ve got a good feeling about this hand.”
Princess Waitress tells them, “You boys gotta order some food, or some booze, Brutus says.”
The Bunny orders a ham sandwich, Pan asks for a hot dog and Patrick gets the corned beef.
Jesus says, “How fresh is the fish?” 
Waitress tells him, “No idea, honey, it’s frozen.”
“Man is not defiled by what he puts into his mouth.  I’ll have the veal”, he says with a shrug. 
Just then Babe Ruth comes in, stumbling, puffing his cigar, laughing big, “Gimme a gin!” he hollers.
Peter Pan tells Jesus, “That’s the guy I was telling you about.  Name’s George.”
Jesus shows his cards, four Aces, rakes in his winnings and heads to the bar to buy the Babe a drink.
As soon as he’s gone, Patrick tells the Bunny, “This is our chance to ditch this guy before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what?” asks Pan naively. 
“Never mind for what, kid.  Just too late”, says Patrick.
He stands up and tells the Bunny, “C’mon, before he drags that loud mouth over here.”
“What about my sandwich?” asks the Bunny.  “We ain’t had nothing to eat all day.”
“You need to learn the value of suffering, my furry friend”, says Patrick as Pan laughs nervously.
Jesus is leaning against the bar, his arm around The Babe’s shoulders, talking quietly, smiling.
St. Patrick is still trying to tell the Easter Bunny to forget the sandwich and get out, but too late.
Here’s Princess Waitress with a tray full of sandwiches and glasses of water, whistling as she walks.
The Bunny cannot be convinced now, he’s hungry, and his sandwich has arrived.  He sits and eats.
Patrick figures he might as well eat his, too.  You never know where the next meal is coming from.
Over at the bar, The Babe tells Jesus, “367,000 miles I put on that truck, and it still purred like a kitten.”
Jesus:  “The Chevy?” / Babe: “Yeah” / Jesus:  “The Black one?” / Babe:  “I loved that truck.”
The Babe swallows his second gin and lets loose a belch louder than Gabriel’s trumpet. 
Brutus laughs.
Jesus says, “George, I’ve got food waiting for me over at my table.  Come, join me.”
But The Babe is distracted.  He just caught sight of (la la la la) Lola coming down the spiral staircase.
Jesus says, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already sinned with her in his heart.”
“That don’t hardly seem fair”, says The Babe, “I ain’t even said hello to her yet.” 
“Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee,” says Jesus.  “Besides, I’m not sure she’s a she.”
“She’s all woman from where I stand”, says The Babe. 
“According to your faith be it unto you”, says Jesus.
He returns to the table and starts to eat his sandwich. 
“How’s the wine?” he asks with a smile.
“It’s swell!” says Peter Pan.
“A little dry for my taste, but it’s got a nice bouquet”, says St. Patrick. 
Jesus says, “Listen, guys, my new friend George and I have a plan.  It can’t miss.  You want in?”
“Not a chance”, says Patrick, “I’ve fallen for your schemes before.  Nothing but trouble.”
Pan says, “Sure!”
The Bunny looks at Patrick who shakes his head.  Still, he’s tempted.
“Tell you what”, says Jesus, “Here comes George now.  Hear him out, and then decide.”
The Babe saunters over with L-O-L-A Lola on his arm.  “Howdy boys!  Who wants to get famous?”
“Um, George, fame is not something any of these fellows lack”, says Jesus with a grin.
Peter Pan points at (la la la la) Lola and asks The Babe, “Why is that guy wearing a dress?”
“Shaddup, kid, you don’t know nothing about how to treat a lady.  Just ask Wendy.”
He pulls up a chair for L-O-L-A Lola, and another for himself.  “Sit down baby, let’s talk to these boys.”
(la la la la) Lola, in a voice as dark and smooth as chocolate, “OK, Georgie honey.  Can I get a drink?”
“Hey Princess!  Bring that bottle over here!” hollers The Babe, “She’s a thirsty girl, and so am I!”
Turning back to the table, one hand on L-O-L-A Lola’s knee, one holding his cigar, The Babe smiles.
“Here’s the set-up…” but just then the band starts playing dueling banjos rearranged for two accordions.
Princess Waitress brings the gin. 
(la la la la) Lola takes a pull right from the bottle, no glass.
That makes The Babe laugh.  “Oh, I’m a gin drinking man, and so is my L-O-L-A Lola.”
Princess asks, “Are you all sticking around for the floor show?  New singer tonight, what a voice!”
Pan says, “You bet!” 
Patrick says, “I don’t think so.” 
The Bunny sips his wine and looks to Jesus.
Jesus smiles and spreads his arms, “Sure, we’re sticking around.  We’re still waiting for another friend.”
The lights go down, except for a spot on the microphone at center stage, revealing a tall skinny kid.
“Doo bee doo bee doo”, he croons. 
Patrick mutters, “Sounds like one of Jesus’ sermons.”
The skinny kid finishes his tune, the crowd applauds politely, if unenthusiastically. 
The front door opens.
“Here she is now”, says Jesus.  “That’s my friend Windy”. 
He stands and waves to get her attention.
“Dammit!” says Patrick.  “I should have known this would happen.  There’s no way out now.”
Pan hides under the table. 
The Bunny and The Babe both turn to look toward the newcomer.
(la la la la) Lola doesn’t move.  She’s been around long enough to know what’s going to happen next.
Brutus rushes out from behind the bar, laurel wreath around his head, toga draped over his shoulder.
“Not in my place, you don’t.  You just turn right around and head back where you came from.”
Windy doesn’t hesitate, just heads straight toward Jesus like there’s nobody else in the room.
The band starts playing a slow blues, key of E, while the skinny kid singer steps back up to the mic.
“Frankie and Johnny were lovers.” 
Windy and Jesus embrace. 
“O, my gawd, how they could love.”
Jesus says, “Windy, sit down, girl.  Tell us what’s been on your mind.” 
Windy sits down and begins:  “I come for my man, he done me wrong”. 
She turns to face L-O-L-A Lola.
Now, Windy she don’t use no weapons, she don’t shoot no .44. 
But (la la la la) Lola drops to the hardwood floor.
“He was my man, but she done me wrong” sings the skinny kid, while Windy seems to sing along.
The Babe stands up in shock, looks down at L-O-L-A Lola lying there dead at his feet.
“What the hell gives?” he sobs as he falls to his knees. 
The Bunny and Patrick are already long gone.
Pan is giggling where he hides under the table, “I knew she wasn’t a real girl.”
Brutus says, “Ach, what a mess.  How am I going to explain this to the cops?”
Princess Waitress looks at Windy and says, “Do I know you honey?  Are you in a storybook, too?”
“Not yet”, says Windy, as she and Jesus head for the door arm in arm.  “Not yet.”

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Painter

 

The Painter

I slapped a Vicodin up against the back of my throat and chased it with some beer… light beer, I was really trying to lose a few pounds before my sister’s wedding. The Percocet helped block out the pain in my forearm, which probably wasn’t broken. There was no swelling, just a nasty bruise from when I landed on it after jumping off the fire escape. To be fair, I probably would have taken the Vicodin anyway. I liked the feeling I got from it, the sense of being insulated from the world. Like emotional bubble wrap. But that was my last one, so I needed to make a decision. I headed to the painter’s place.

I’d known her for a long time, but I only knew she was a painter because her fingers were always stained with paint and ink of various colors. I never saw any of her paintings. When I asked, she said she did mostly portraits of imaginary people, with an occasional landscape. I said, “do you mean, like, characters from books you’ve read?” She said, “no”.

She never wore any makeup other than dark, dark pencil thin lines to make her eyes appear to be the shape of cats’ eyes. Her lips were pale, nearly as pale as her cheeks. Except when she blushed.

We never kissed, but I thought about it often during our long conversations about nothing while we sipped coffees and watched the wallpaper slowly peel away from the plaster.

She knew the words to every song in the Billboard Top 40 from the year she was born, and she hated every book on my shelf. Her hair was prematurely grey, the color of a winter sky before a storm.

I’d first met her when my friend O’Brien introduced us, next to the trash dumpster behind the Quik-Mart. For years after that I bought Vicodin from her, or Percocet. Later, when she added heroin to her merchandise list, I stopped buying from her. Too many junkies hanging around her place. But, desperate times, and all that.

When I got there, I found she was not alone. The poet was with her, and he was singing a song with no words, just the bare melody. Also bare was the painter, unclothed, naked, and the poet’s hands were busy at the work of pleasure. I cleared my throat to alert them to my presence.

“The door was unlocked”, I said.

No response.

“I was hoping to score some pills”, I said, by way of explaining my presence.

Still no response, but I knew where she kept them, so I helped myself and left some cash in their place, and slipped back out into the rain.

Maybe you want to know about when I jumped off the fire escape. Sometimes a bad option is actually the best option available. It was like this: Jerry, this guy I’ve been dating, pulled a Mr. Hyde on me, totally out of nowhere, just because I mentioned that I thought this other guy we both know, Cecil, is cute. Which he is. Jerry’s actual name is Gerald, so I always say he should spell the nickname version ‘Gerry’, but he disagrees, for no logical reason whatsoever.

Anyway, Jerry got crazy and started throwing stuff. He’s not usually violent, so it caught me by surprise and I panicked, and climbed out the window onto the fire escape. Jerry tossed my shoes out after me, and one of them hit me in the head. That’s when I jumped.

So, now you’re up to date, and I’ve got enough pills to get me through a week or so, if I ration, which I probably won’t, but maybe. I flip a coin (not really) and decide to go to my place instead of back to Jerry’s. Better give that a day or two. When I get home I just crawl into bed, shoes and clothes and all, and sleep.

 

The morning sunlight is an unwelcome intrusion, as usual. My arm still aches, and the bruise is more colorful. I wonder if the painter would consider it worthy of painting. I need some coffee.

The phone rings. It’s probably Jerry. Am I ready for that? No. Coffee first, then I’ll call him. I let it go to voicemail and shuffle into the kitchen. I have one of these coffee makers where you just drop the prefilled pod into the receptacle and push a button, no thinking or measuring required. It doesn’t make the best tasting coffee, but I appreciate not having to pay attention. The time it takes to brew is just about exactly the time I need to shuffle into the bathroom and empty my bladder, then shuffle back to the kitchen to find I forgot to put a mug under the machine’s output spout. There’s coffee, coffee everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Fuck it, I’ll go to the coffee shop.

Susie, the goth barista with the lobe extenders and the multiple facial piercings, pulls me a double shot of espresso without a word, certainly without a smile. I take it outside and sit at one of the rusty little tables they have on the sidewalk, watching the passersby passing by. Then Jerry is there, looking sheepish.

“Did you get my message?”

“No, I left my phone at home.”

“Well, basically, I’m sorry. I was an idiot. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, we’re all idiots sometimes.”

“Yeah.”

He reaches across the table to take my hand, and notices me grimace with pain.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

“I banged it a little when I jumped from the fire escape last night, like an idiot.” I try to smile.

“Oh, baby, you should get that x-rayed”, he says as he slides my sleeve up and gets a look at the purple-blue-black splotch.

“No, it’s just a bruise. I’ll be fine.”

“I was worried about you. Where’d you go after you left?”

“Home. I needed to sleep. Listen, don’t worry, ok? I’m alright. You just freaked me out a little, and I had to get out. But it’s fine. I’ve got a ton of stuff to get done today, so I’m gonna go take a shower and get myself together. I think I might call my sister, see if I can go stay with her at the lake house for a few days to clear my head. I’ll call you in a couple of days, ok?”

And I walked away, not waiting for an answer, and not looking back.

I did go back to my apartment, but I didn’t shower and I didn’t call my sister. I popped another Vicodin, cleaned up the spilled coffee, and headed back to the painter’s place.

This time the door was locked, so I rang the bell and knocked a couple of times. Eventually she let me in.

“Hey”, she said, “I was just thinking about you.”

“You were?”

“Yeah, that poet was here last night and he said he’d seen you at some party recently, and that reminded me that you hadn’t been around in while.”

“Oh, yeah, I think I did see him at Bennie’s party. He was making out with some model, or actress or something.” That wasn’t true, I hadn’t seen him at all.

“Ha, that doesn’t surprise me. He’ll make it with anyone. Anyway, what brings you around today?”

“I’m not sure. I just needed to be with someone, and I’ve missed hanging out with you.”

“Yeah, I’ve missed you, too. I was just about to get high, want to smoke with me?”

“I do.”

And we did.

“You know, you’ve never shown me any of your paintings.”

“Because I don’t keep any of them. I either burn them or scrape the canvas and paint something else, or just give them away.”

“Would you paint me?”

“If you want, sure. But you might not like it.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I paint what I see, not what people actually look like. A lot of people don’t want to know what other people really see.”

“I do. I want to know.”

“Ok.”

She pulled a blank canvas out of a closet and set it up across the room from where I sat on the end of her sofa, and she started to paint.

“Do you want me to pose, or anything?”

“No, you’re fine. Just sit there and relax.”

Hours went by, seemingly. Neither of us spoke. She painted, and I watched.

Finally, she said, “Ok, come take a look if you want.”

I got up and walked over to her side of the canvas to find that she’d painted exactly the bruise on my arm, which she hadn’t seen since I hadn’t taken off my sweater. The canvas was covered in paint, purple-blue-black, shapeless, painful, raw. I just stared and stared, speechless.

“I warned you,” she said.

“It’s perfect,” I said. “How did you know?”

And that’s when we kissed for the first time.

 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Broken Mosaic book now available!

 Brand new book now available for your Kindle or in paperback!!


Click here now to purchase this brand new collection from Phlubbermatic Press. Includes 12 poems you might have seen here on the website already (or not) and 10 short stories. Almost all the pieces deal with the question of truth and perception, and the spaces between. Between what we see and what we know; between what we dream and what we have; between reality and whatever else there is. We live in a world where almost everyone is sure they know things that can't actually be known. Personally, I don't trust anyone who's sure.