December 1, 2013
I wake up, and pull back the covers in my box
to the sound an alarm ringing on my box.
I walk from my box into the box.
I step into the box; soap and rinse.
I open my coldbox to find something for breakfast.
I take my kids to the schoolbox.
I climb into my box and drive to work.
I stare at my box; type on my box; answer my box; write notes on a piece of box;
eat leftovers for lunch in boxes; and at the end of the week
I’ll get a box to take to the bank that’s worth lots more boxes.
This way, I can go home to my family in our big box,
where I can sit on my box and watch my 60-inch box.
Or read a chapter in my favorite box.
Maybe if I save enough boxes I can buy an even bigger box.
Or a new box.
And when I die they’ll put in me in a box.
November 5, 2013
The Raven in my pants.
The Black Cat in my pants.
The Cask of Amontillado in my pants.
A Descent into the Maelstrom in my pants.
The Gold-Bug in my pants.
Hop-Frog in my pants.
The Imp of the Perverse in my pants.
The Purloined Letter in my pants.
Eldorado in my pants.
The Masque of the Red Death in my pants.
The Oval Portrait in my pants.
The Pit and the Pendulum in my pants.
The Premature Burial in my pants.
The Haunted Palace in my pants.
Annabel Lee (Er—I mean my wife!) in my pants.
The Tell-Tale Heart in my pants.
The Bells in my pants.
The Conqueror Worm in my pants.
A Dream Within a Dream in my pants.
October 28, 2013
scars. While we
were yet sinners.
exhale. Release. Fall apart. One. Scars.
In the hands. In the feet. The scar from
the rib that
The scar from
the spear that
scars in his
The scars on
our wrists and
by his wounds
we are healed.
October 21, 2013
A child of God.
Yes, I know.
But when you gaze long into an abyss
the abyss also gazes into you.
But when did the abyss get there?
Did it begin there, grow there?
Who put it there?
And how long has the abyss been waiting?
Since first son killed the second?
Wanting to know what lies beneath.
Wanting to know what crouches at the door.
We who fight with monsters.
Maybe we built it.
The abyss in us salivates at the wreckage:
Gasping over twisted metal.
Moaning with the whining rims.
Thrusting in severed limbs.
Making love to splintered glass.
The abyss in us stares into an innocent chasm.
A one world craving.
It feels so good to fall in.
The abyss is in us.
Look what we have become.
A monster with the eyes of a child.
A child with the eyes of a monster.
Can you tell them apart?
They are a part of all of us.
We are all monsters.
October 11, 2013
All of us are interconnected.
There are no boundary lines
separating Pacific from Arctic
the tremor of their waves, the Atlantic, the Indian.
Do not think that the Aegean or Erie are distinct
when precipitation from their currents rises in mother clouds to rotate
over continents we pretend are separated by something more than wars and canals and money
but that isn’t enough to make-believe that we are so very different
separated by space and creed and nomenclature
no, that isn’t hardly believable at all.
None of us remains untouched by the hurricane winds that caressed us as autumn breezes
shouldering in a chassis of slate nimbus
to saturate the gardens that we eat from.
All of us have tasted the savor on our tongue, the salt in our perspiration, migrating to the ocean
where some have said we started.
But do not be so narrow-minded; we are the ocean.
When I look at you, I am looking at my brother
Dear sister, don’t think that we are strangers.
And who is my brother?
We will see the constellations
our bodies return to the same soil
I drink the same water that you drink
drawn from springs stretching back to the world’s only ocean.
July 31, 2013
death makes me want to shut down, shut up, shut in and be a child again;
one who doesn’t understand what it meant when grandpa P passed
and mom and dad said he’s in heaven,
one who got excited for him and hoped he’d write a letter and tell me what heaven is like
and for a few weeks whenever we would be in the car I looked at the clouds
hoping I would catch him peeking over and wave to him.
all I want is to be that same child
pulling out plastic figurines and directing toy battles on the carpet with my brother
with an evil boss and his entourage of saber-toothed tigers running and leaping on the hero and his knights and army men.
and even though many of them fall, in the very last moment the good guys win the fight,
killing the boss and his dinosaur minions… and yet, they were never really dead.
as soon as they went into the Tupperware container and the lid snapped shut and opened again, everything was as it should be,
because everyone died, but everyone came to life again to play their timeless part
and even the bad guys got a break…but it’s not like that, and people stay dead
the good and the bad die, the heroes get old and have strokes, and the villains get pneumonia
and I miss them both because the bad never got to know what it felt like to be good, to be loved, to be the hero, to be in heaven.
and I miss the good, because they were good, and it’s selfish and I don’t care because I wish they were here until we could all go together.
but that’s not how it works and grandpa P isn’t in the clouds and I’m never going to see some of those people again.
and I want to cry, but I don’t,
I stare vacantly remembering and wishing I was a kid again;
where none of this mattered, where none of it hurt,
where people like Florence get healed of her breast cancer and where husbands like Danny still got to still sleep next to her at night and hope for the future where somehow they could still be together
and not have to bury his wife
and I tell my own wife “it’s times like these that people get angry at God, when instead they should be running to him,”
and as I say it, I feel myself getting angry.
July 24, 2013
Beyond the pinpoint of midnight there is a light.
And within that dollop of a spark there is heat,
The flames jockeying for position on a red wick.
From a hand protrudes a slender white candle
That connects to the silhouetted body of a man
There, some unknown messenger of long lost hope.
Like Noah’s dove, he has returned holding hope.
Grasping securely onto the remains of a guiding light
Wax slides onto his fingers as he raises the bright candle,
Incandescence illuminates the hands of this man
Coalescing gently over his skin, it purges liquid heat.
A wavering glow, desperate sparks cling to the wick.
A filament pyre, colors of fire race through the wick,
Cycles of autumn re-imagine the vision of hope
And will long sought deliverance be found in this man?
Has he come that we may walk in his marvelous light?
We in darkness have dreamed of knowing heat,
But until now have had no way to light our candles.
A great and reviving jubilation exudes from the candle
An ever-changing aura of flames frolic on the wick.
The winter of darkness has been overcome by heat.
And with that warmth comes an even superior hope,
As our eyes swell with promise at this newfound light
And it draws deliberately nearer in the arms of this man.
But why would he be mindful of another man?
Who are we that he would care for our extinguished candles?
Why would he come to crown us in his light?
Yet he beckons, that we would come near to his wick.
He promises to generously share this flare of hope,
And we will be renewed by the heritage of its heat.
Carrying the fire, our own bodies will emanate his heat
Selflessly given to us by this figure much more than a man.
And from his coming, we will walk forward in hope,
Abiding in the sight afforded to us by his candle
With his offering we are captivated by the golden wick
That we may forever return with him to the city of lights.
With the consuming heat that radiates from this man
We have understood that he is our only hope and as his candle
Has lit our wicks to burning, he declares, “I am the light!”
July 6, 2013
tell the history, tell the fall, tell the future
from the assembly collecting in the guardrails
half a dozen water bottles, the bright orange caps of gatorade emptied in their pursuit of health,
tinfoil balls, tinfoil squares, bite size crunch bar wrapper with chocolate skid marks,
“made with 100% recycled material” napkins, glass,
stained freeze pop tubes, near a 24 count box,
an entourage of double shot strawberry smirnoffs, doritos locos tacos wrappers,
shriveled trojan “endz” filled with premature passion, mcdonalds mcmuffin, mcdouble,
saturated cardboard and boxes of sleeping pills, caffeine pills, nyquil containers,
newspaper ads bleeding gray ink, cvs bags spider-webbed with wrinkles and brown pools of rainwater,
a flattened pepsi can, tab still intact, sticky with pleasure,
shoprite bags, walmart bags, walgreens bags, one red solo cup,
plastic parts; afro pick, broken kia rims, car parts, happy meal toys, squashed capri sun, no straw,
a condensating reeses cup hoarding ants,
bloated cigarette filters, virginia slim butts, camel cartons, black & mild sleeves, packing noodles,
wendys old fashioned hamburgers, snyders of hanover gluten free pretzel sticks,
cheez doodles, 8 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz, big gulp, two liter, coors, natural ice, pabst blue ribbon,
wawa coffee cups, wooden water ice spoon, perforated raffle tickets with the promise of more
but if you try hard enough
you can’t pretend it’s not there.
meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!
June 14, 2013
No, no, don’t call me that,
I told you, you got the wrong guy.
He ain’t me, or I ain’t him,
but either way, I’m not the man you’re looking for.
No, no, it’s not up to you, heck, it’s not up to me.
I am who I am, and I’m not him.
You’ve misheard, or been mistold,
you’d be better taking your allegations elsewhere.
Try as you might, plead if you will,
it makes no difference ‘cause I’m not your man.
June 9, 2013
“Nights like these I wish I was dead,” she says
and he nods assent knowing
that could only be but about half true
when she’s been known to exaggerate
every now and then
and how could she know
what dead is like anyway
or if it’s any better
for that matter.
Wouldn’t she be in for it.
But he doesn’t tell her that
because he knows better,
knows that once she makes up her mind
you’d be daft to tell her otherwise.
He tried once and remembers
how well that turned out.
No sir, not at all,
and there’s nothing you or
anybody else can do about it.
So he keeps nodding
and says, “yeah, definitely,” every
thirty seconds or so
but who’s counting?
June 3, 2013
An all Walt Whitman imitation—
“Song of Myself”
For every atom belonging to me belongs to you.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air,
The smoke of my own breath, passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sound of the words of my voice to the eddies of the wind.
To elaborate is no avail, sure as the most certain sure,
I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet, the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen shall I postpone my acceptation and realization.
These come to me days and night and go from me again,
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am.
I believe in you, swiftly spread around me the peace and knowledge
And I know that the hand of God is the promise,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother,
And that creation is love, and limitless are leaves, and brown ants, and mossy scabs.
I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A gift bearing the owner’s name, that we may see, and say
All goes onward and outward,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
The little one sleeps in its cradle, living and buried,
I come and I depart.
The doors stand open and ready, and I am there.
You should have been with us that day.
I saw the far west and he came to my house, I heard his motions and led him in
And brought water, and gave him a room, and gave him clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well, I had him sit next me at the table.
May 19, 2013
He pulls tired eyes from the sideview mirror
Watching headlights chase dark highway
They skim to the rearview and dashboard
And he, the road’s only passenger
As miles bleed into an unaltered scenery
With tree walls that hedge him on either side
Faint premonition settles in his seat
It stares quietly at the back of his head
Enticing his mind to wander more than he would like
Prompting solitary introspection
Until a gleam of twin stars a half mile behind
Appears and gradually erodes their distance
For the length of a breath both cars drive parallel
Their engines sharing a thrum as though
They were two halves of a much larger machine
But his neighbor slides into the lead
Breaking their momentary bond
Once white headlights, now red
Driving off the pace at three hundred yards
Eased, he shifts behind the new leader
Knowing that he has found someone to follow
And the road cannot end without his knowing:
The one who goes before will be able to tell him that
Night inks out dormantly, absorbing their exchange
His exit magnifies and he takes the overpass
Counter-crossing the expressway from below
Arriving at budding sidewalks and civilization
He brakes to the stoplight to face opposing cars
And as the signal climbs down to its green perch
For a moment, he may not have remembered if asked,
He wonders, not so much where they will go, but instead
When they enter the empty parkway, who will they follow?
May 9, 2013
Thoughts are so very different
they have no boundaries, need
no explaining; they are words
and pictures but totally unlike
A picture still needs words to
Words are still needed to
describe a picture but a thought
has use for both, but is never
dependent on either
A thought is already alive where
commentary is cumbersome, it is
the wordless movie we have seen
so many times, we already know
And expending one-millionth of
the time to think then the time to
explain—and even when we do
explain, the colors aren’t vivid
enough, the expressions aren’t
genuine enough, not quite how
we’d like them, the proportions
As she stands in the entrance
of the sanctuary, every sense
taking in the chatter, the perfume,
the palette, the cool air on her
bare forearms, the acrid residue
of a breathmint and still cannot
ascertain the beauty which is not
sight, and the voice which is
not words, which he says
Enjoy, my daughter! Look
what I have done.
May 5, 2013
A teenage couple rendezvous in the park to unleash their newfound passions.
His scrawny arms grotesquely embrace the body she’s still growing into;
plump legs and small chest; not quite the ideal woman yet.
But he doesn’t know that.
Those lanky limbs that can hardly lift a backpack tell her he’ll never let go!
His hands grasp her hips and a coolness rushes from his fingertips
to his chest and he thinks this must be love.
But it’s hormones.
Oh, but he’ll tell her it’s love anyway! And she’ll believe him.
‘Cause right now they’ve got the fever.
And he’s whispering promises that he has no way of keeping,
but he makes them anyway.
His attention is caught up in what he says are her beautiful eyes,
but he’s never examined at any others
so how would he know what’s he’s comparing them to?
And she’ll say she’s hot when she’s cold,
so she can show a few extra inches of her shoulder.
And she’ll say she’s cold when she’s hot,
so he can dangle those bony arms around her.
And won’t it be grand, this life together?
But they don’t know what that means.
They don’t know what a three week’s anniversary means.
And they’ll run through seven more, twenty-three more,
forty-nine more relationships just like it
swearing that this is the last time!
And this time I know what I’m doing!
And I won’t be fooled this time!
And this time it’s the one!
And it won’t be.
But none of that matters now, ‘cause they’ve both got the fever.
It’s that first 70 degree day in April and love is in the air.
God, this is what they’ve been waiting for all their lives!
And you’ll be damned to tell ‘em differently!
Yes, this is love. This is the fever.
May 2, 2013
I keep drawing strawmen
sketched, smoldering somewhere on the backburner
my consciousness registers the faulty pitch and swings
right from contact I know it’s a knockout
shredding the stuffing out of scarecrows
stepping on a rake I already knew was there
lurching up like figures of target training
where I’ve been waiting to fire away
every argument wide with holes big enough
to light on fire and cartwheel between
but could we stop before another round
I’ve tired of this charade
and you would never say something like that
so shut up because I’m tired of arguing with you
April 12, 2013
Wallace Stevens imitation—
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
stare into the face
to witness history reflected in his eyes
ever at enmity with the future
begrudgingly he rolls in the thick slope
of a Neanderthal’s wheel
bridging what was, what will be
today he would be better
to trust in God
alchemy cannot help him
sixteen multiplied by five
equals three and it takes twenty more
to make one and one
to appear whole
he furiously twists at both ends
taking the sphere of a pitted olive
he would be better off
applying himself to sport
adding one more to make ten which is actually six
choose trails over heads
to his little mountain
guarded by levy lions
the warden of Monticello’s bones
and Mulberry Row’s worms had their fill
he never could have known simple pleasures
could no longer be afforded by children
in a candy store
March 27, 2013
she on her way, unknowing
or knowing completely
that we leave each morning on a dime
finding our rendezvous
braking parallel to paraded construction barrels
complimenting her burnt orange fiat
we are common strangers
sharing daily communion
without a word between
are we yet to be acquaintances or greater
that we might shout a conscious phrase
between our windows
or a sidelong glance
a minute smile, if nothing else,
says, see you tomorrow
March 15, 2013
A childhood memory returns
with his mouth stained in something that tastes like a dish served lukewarm
when I see in myself what I promised my father, “I will never be like that.”
When no one else is listening I can hear him laughing
at the savor it arouses in me that I don’t want to change
unless I have changed already.
March 6, 2013
What good is a day if it is not passed between three others
including the one who started it?
It is hard to have a moment
without wondering who else that moment might be shared with
because any experience unshared
is not really much of a moment if there is no one to tell it to:
Yesterday, idling at a red-light
the perpendicular traffic bled through the intersection
determined drivers making left turns, heading west
Not unlike a day in 1849
on roads crowded by hordes of covered wagon caravans
chasing treasures, a new world
and an American dream
Perched in prairie schooner seats,
resolute scowls detailing commitment
laying their claim to somewhere different than the rest of us
forgetting that we’re all going in the same direction:
A secret that everyone knows
but always forgets
like that we’re all completely naked under our clothes
March 6, 2013
Away we go away from Owego
And by the place where all’s well in Endwell—
To where perhaps there’s gold buried in Gouldsboro.
Further on, to where one wonders why
There’s such animosity towards vegetation in Bushkill Falls.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to Buttzville,
Which must be a terrible place to live, butt made a great rest stop.
There were others. They’re still there.
I imagine I’ll go back some time.