Monday, February 28, 2011

19. Thirty-Two

Ask her what the freezing temperature
of water is, and she's not sure
guessing thirty-five, and you
rationalize that in the scheme
of things it's not all that important,
while you simultaneousy worry
grumbling a silent cliche.

The system is shot,
and kids aren't really being taught anything
in school in this country

So you realize
it then falls to you,
after all you're the parent,
and then comes the tightness in the chest.

The callouses on your hands begin to sting
as your grip on the steering wheel tightens,
and it's kind of funny that they aren't even
the product of honest labor, only anxiety,
this daily gripping and twisting.

Everybody wants it easy.

There's only one spin out
on the highway- no one's hurt -
but I'm falling prey to my
annual thinking error:
it's the last real day of winter.

And the falling rain
seems to confirm my hypothesis,
but you see the rain is freezing
on contact in some areas
calling bullshit on
my hopeful assertion.

So the semis are blasting past us
playing black ice roulette with
the quietly desperate lives
of these frustrated commuters and
their day dreaming passengers'
barely contained enthusiasm
and plans for the day.

I know what they know,
on some level,
that Spring is coming,
regardless of what I believe
or what
I'm ready for.

Friday, February 25, 2011

18. Tuning Fork

You avert something,
an imagined death maybe
some other life.

You watch the rain
change to snow
and the face of
the Chinese
surprised to see you.

You're a stranger
buying milk.

Before closing the door
you see him
sitting on the mattress
reading Doctor Seuss
his blonde head
shaking slowly

It stays with you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

17. Almost Thirteen

Hi, Daddy.
Mom wanted me to call you because
I can't make up my mind about something.
I'm trying to decide between two shirts.
One is black, with a big heart on the front,
but it's a little off-the-shoulder.
The other is pink with
butterflies on the front.
Which one do you think I should choose?

Oh, my

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Thanks Due To Todd Colby

I'm still young enough to sometimes want to dance, in my way. Hope you like this.

16. I'm Young Enough To Look Forward To The Future

I heard that line in a song
on the radio today and
I'd be lying if I said it
didn't shake me
a little.

The young man asserted
that his best days are
still in front of him,
and that's a winning attitude,
and I hope he is correct
for him
for me
and for

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

15. To The Last Drop Of Blood

I know it is the organ of
lust and greed
and murder,
but I've heard that
there are also chambers in it
reserved for other functions.

I would like to know
more about those things.

The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn

Monday, February 21, 2011

14. Gulliver


He's too tall now
for sitting in my lap much longer
despite his claim of never wanting
to grow up.

He'll forget.


The boy who's mother
jumped off a mountain
left him as alone as
alone can be with nothing
but his nervous smile
and her curse,
so of course he could not stay
very long

I remember him now
just as helplessly.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

13. Are You Up For This?

You've reduced it to
working, driving and sleeping now,
with a few spare minutes
for calculating,
evacuating waste,
writing down half-thoughts
and disappointing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

12. The Keeper Of The Light

Tonight, the unexpected
slash and thrust of a frozen gust
at 14 degrees, while
the big moon asserts, maybe
more than menaces,
in perfect yellow symmetry
working it's mysterious powers
over the rising winds and
plummeting temperature.

I know who you are instinctively,
though I can't claim to understand you.

Tonight, I would be
otherwise alone
in darkness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

11. Rubber Bullets At Point Blank Range

Are not going to solve your image problem
with the world or lend you credibility
among your people
they will steel resolve, inspire the ordinary to heroism,
and speed your own decline.

The wheel is turning.

Saw This And Liked It Plenty

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Keep Your Dreams

10. Temperature Change

There's still two feet of
frozen mess out there,
but today the sun
paid us a visit with its golden
smile and smooth promises
like some charismatic deadbeat Dad
already planning his exit.
It's good to see him nonetheless,
and in his light I saw
two translucent flying bugs
nuzzling each other and
in one of the city's mighty oaks,
two squirrels,
one with a lively twitching tail,
chasing each other up and down,
and I didn't need a
biology degree
to understand.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

9. Driven, Driving, Drive

On the road to work today
I saw two women crying,
in separate situations,
and one boy falling.

I heard rich people talking
about extreme poverty -
life on less than $1.25 a day -
very matter of factly.

I bought the dwindling resource of gasoline
on a credit card
because there's nothing left of my personal reserves
until tomorrow.

I ate a sandwich for breakfast
that might have been a feast
for one of those entire families
with eggs, cheese, bread, ham and bacon
but it wouldn't have stopped those women
from crying -

One was driving her car,
the sun shining on her face
transforming her tears into glittering diamonds
and her face into a mask
depicting the calm, steady ravages
of age and pain and disappointment.

The other sat in a crowded restaurant
alone in a booth for two
seemingly talking aloud to herself,
but it was a phone with an earpiece,
and I could not hear her words,
but her face was very animated
and then the tears came.

She was African,
and what she was contending with,
I could not begin to imagine.

The sandwich might have helped
the boy in some way, but
it would not have prevented him from
slipping on the ice,
feet flying out in front like a toddler,
landing directly on his butt
trying to cross Main Street to
the University campus.

His face showed me
he didn't discover the humor
people so often find
in watching others fall -
neither did I -
his expression did not convey pain or defeat,
just a half-expected betrayal,
a weathered insult.

He stood up,
and that's what matters,
for that I should have given him my sandwich
or held a power fist high outside my car window
in solidarity.

There is unrest and fear,
something is shifting,
as it always is, but
the tempo...

Are you afraid you've lost your way?
Would it help if I told you there never was one?

I watched you
keep going
in awe.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

8. Don't You Dare Go Gently

a flicker is still fire,
sure it's smaller,
but it's not extinguished.

make no mistake,
the day of your snuffing is out there
but it's not today,
not now,
so get up -
you still can

do it
even if there is no good reason

do it
in spite of everything

do it
because death doesn't need
your help.

Monday, February 14, 2011

7. Named For A Martyr

yes, it's canned
and over-produced
and hyped until
you want to gag

but there was once
a sweetness there
and remembering it makes
you imagine crying

snowflake fragile but
durable, leatherine -
our hearts

the clean idea of love
the soaring of it's feeling
the long, gruelling march of it's practice

may we never lose our courage

Happy St. Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 13, 2011

6. A Fine Is A Tax For Doing Wrong. A Tax is A Fine For Doing Well.

This is what my fortune cookie told me tonight.
Interesting timing
since I had just been calculating
my annual income tax this very afternoon.


Turbo Tax told me that I
will be getting a pretty handsome
refund this year.

Just about handsome enough
to wipe out the debt
I have worked myself stupid
to vanquish over the past
twelve months of
my waning life.

If this all comes to pass,
I will say the journey was taxing
but that I'm feeling fine indeed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

5. "Why Did God Put Me In This Family?"

That's what Tempestuous Jack
asked his mother this morning
after I upbraided him about his
rough treatment of a younger cousin.

He said he wanted to go and live
with his friend's family,
with a different father.

He's five now and capable
of making big moves,
but tonight he's back.

I tickle him with chin stubble
then he lays here next to me, snug,
looking to see what I'm writing.

He calls the two little people
on the Windows Live ID icon
"Sad Debbies" and
we both laugh
and laugh.

I'm glad he's home.

Friday, February 11, 2011

4. Confront The Most Brutal Facts Of Your Current Reality

It's not that bury-your-head-in-the-sand kind of hope in which you close your eyes and pretend angels are shielding you while a tornado ravages the house above you to splinters. I get that though. There are some events that we cannot cope with in the immediate. Reality suddenly becomes a place where we cannot stay. You have to check out to in order for your spirit to survive. And what a blessing that is, in that moment. But staying there, building your way of life there, becomes problematic. The tornadoes keep coming.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

3. Step Out of The Confusion

I agree, disconnection
has something to do with what
we're dealing with now,
with how we lost our understanding.

I was reminded of that today
listening to someone talk
about growing food -
remembered days when everything that
was not water was trivia.

When you could feel your body
dying for lack of it
you developed understanding in a hurry -

With all the static, noise, distraction, right now
how can we possibly understand?

We have succeeded in diverting ourselves
from the cure for what sickens us,
inoculated ourselves against understanding.

We deny what we know.

For instance,
if I were to say to you something like,
what would you think of me?

and that's precisely what I'd think of you
if you said it.

I'm afraid until that reaction changes,
on a very large scale,
we are pretty much

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1. Tangerine Polo Shirts

Last night, walking the softened path to my front door,
I caught the scent of melting snow,
a much needed reminder that winter isn't terminal.

Under the snow is the thin frozen crust of the Earth,
just below that is the scent of new life,
the world's warm heart.

So I went to bed with that thought and
slept peacefully and well.

I woke this morning to find the kids had a two hour school delay,
that another six wet and heavy inches had fallen.

So I attacked
with furious shovel and slippery soled shoes,
and raged against it,
swearing loudly and repeatedly
in the early morning's quiet.

It struck back,
causing my legs to misfire cartoonishly,
forcing me to fumble and gawk and gasp,
rendering me ridiculous
in my frustration.

Winter will come.
Winter will stay.
Winter will always have its way.

But because I am alive,
it is not possible to submit completely,
to just lie down and

This is why we suffer,
but this is how we live.

21 Days of Found Titles

It's the winter doldrums around these parts, and I am sliding into darkness and inertia. To combat this regression I thought I would give myself the task of writing a daily "piece" (I feel so precious using that word) for the next twenty-one days titled with something I heard or read during the course of the day. I hope you like them. I hope I like them too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dennis The Wallflower

In the gym, seeing the girls go and dance so easily with boys who only asked them - who suffered no ordeal, who didn't earn the right - made him sick and sad and wild and angry and broken and invisible. He cried in the bathroom sometimes, Dennis, on those friday nights smelling of Old Spice, a heart full of smoldering rubble again. Dennis was a kid who read signs in the movement of birds. He knew the moon, the sound and feel of wind, like friends. The others weren't sure what he was, and mostly stayed away. I'm only a kid, he thought, I should be having fun. He walked home alone under cold silent stars, watching the steam of his breath, feeling the strong pump of his heart, so alive he wanted it to stop.

Doomriders In Town Tonight!

Time to crawl out of the cave and get myself a good mid-winter dose of rock. Go ahead and wreck your neck or break some furniture.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Message

This morning I saw Saint Francis of Belchertown in prayer. He was outdoors on a hilltop suffering hard at five degrees buried past his waist in frozen snow with ice clinging to his shoulders. His countenance did not betray his pain, and not because he wore the hard mask of stoicism or the blissed-out expression of transcendence. His expression is what drew my attention - engaged, patient, optimistic. His head was bowed, humble but not shameful, not beaten. I thought, if no one hears your prayer friend, it's no fault of yours, and then realized someone did.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Knowing Isn't Enough

are you worthy of your destiny?

knowing who you are is not enough
the real work is
becoming who you are
fully realized

doing the true business of your heart
even when you can feel it slipping
through your fingers and you
taste failure before making
your first move

in terror
you watch a movie in which
you play a guy missing the bus
of his own

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fragment Of A Weather Report

So a glaze of ice has coated the cars
and the roads and the rooves, already overloaded with snow,
and the people of this medium-sized city
are suited up for battle.

They shovel out their buried cars,
their blocked driveways and parking spaces,
and the plows come by and bury them again.

Many have panic in their eyes,
their faces show

Where some of them come from,
this kind of thing doesn't happen,
and maybe now they're thinking
their old home looks quite good.

Easy is relative.

I chiseled the ice off my windshield,
and now there is a great big smile in the glass,
which will mock me until I can afford to have it replaced.

The radio said that the shouting and spontaneous joy in
Tahrir Square has turned bloody
as the government unleashes it's dogs
in street clothes on the people.

Here we pile snow in mountains and try
to keep the roads clear and the schools open
while Queensland braces for a cyclone,
billed already as likely their worst in history.

A scientist said that the gradual warming of the oceans -
which of course humans aren't responsible for,
we're just out there trying to make a buck -
adds more moisture to storms and thus more power,
but that's just earthy-crunchy, socialist, tree-hugging propaganda.

Right, Pakistan - nearly drowned?
Right, Brazil - buried in sliding mud?
Right, Australia - flooded out, now blown away?
Right, America -2,500 miles of winter fury falling down?

I saw two women trying to get their stuck car out of the snow.
They had brown skin, wore headscarves,
lived in one of this city's tougher housing projects.

A young man with white skin, wearing a suit, not from that housing
project was pushing.

I stopped, did a little shoveling,
and then we three pushed that car free,
but it was raining ice pellets down on all of us,
so no one spoke, but we all smiled
and looked into the eyes of each of the others
for less than a second, and then we went our seemingly
separate ways.

From the French film, The Hairdresser's Husband directed by Patrice Leconte.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Writer Talks About Writing


In the car, the phone keeps ringing and it's your staff all saying they don't know if they can make it in, and you can't see shit really because those wiper blades you should have changed six months ago are nothing but ice clubs dragging infuriatingly across the smear of your windshield. They predicted another four to eight inches today with the real accumulation not coming until tomorrow, but that's propaganda because you know you shoveled more than that before the morning commute even started. The kids have a half day of school for some reason, probably dictated by union politics rather than public safety, and your ten year old knows that this is insane as he dutifully places his life in my angry driver's hands with three inches of snow melting off my frustrated middle manager's head. I'm getting old, I think, and worn out by the tiresomeness of so many things. The snow is falling, and we are never prepared, always caught up short in the midst of these legions who completely lose their senses and turn out on the roads to do ridiculous and dangerous things at five miles per hour while I'm trying to get somewhere. It's not about you, mocks the red cardinal flying overhead - so vivid - the red bird, the ultra-brite snow, this crushing pain radiating across my chest and down my arm.

Blog Archive

Visitor Map