Goodbye to All That

My poem, Goodbye to all that, is in the current issue of Moria Literary Magazine (Woodbury University). Here is the poem:

Goodbye to All That

a poppy
I planted years ago
bloomed cream and crimson.

Stunning in its regal robes
it lorded over the roses—
golden goddesses.
But only for a day.

This garden has given
a million hours of pleasure.
Really, what is there to life?
Dirt and sweat

and muscles that ache
with honest effort.
Moving now
to a small apartment

for the golden years,
I will turn
the keys over
to a young couple

with kids and careers
and no time
for gardens.
I might have sold in winter,

but that would be cowardly.
I sit in my lawn chair
one last evening
and try to explain.

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This is in the December issue of Pennsylvania’s Poetic Voices. Close as I get to truth.


If I declared myself
an optimist,
my friends would laugh
their way to
cracked ribs.

And yet,
I spent all afternoon
planting tulip bulbs
in the barely
yielding soil.

What can be
more optimistic
than planting bulbs
on the threshold
of winter.

Imagining the first
fine day in March
will carry me
through February—
take the edge off the wind

til the sun warms
my face,
and I patrol
the flower beds
looking for that first green.

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Coffee Shop

My poem, Coffee Shop, is in the current issue of Pirene’s Fountain (15,issue 23). Here is the poems.

Coffee Shop

It was not a hangout
for either of us,
just a coffee shop
half a block from First National,
a place to get out of the weather.

When the heat wave broke,
the storm came in like Man o’ War.
I remember my first thought
on seeing her—“Am I that wet?”
But she recognized me right off,
as if age and gravity
had not had their way.

Everyone thought we would marry,
but we had blown apart
the summer the cities burned,
the year Vietnam
was a nightmare for the wide awake.

Conversation stalled—
after all,
what was I to make
of her—
a woman now
whom I would never know?

We accept the ravages of time
a mirror presents,
but what of the gulfs

The rain stopped.
We went our separate ways.
Tonight, I would scan the old memories
like watching reruns of a favorite show
canceled for reasons lost long ago.

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In the Distance

My poem, In the Distance, is in the current issue of The Big Windows Review. Here is the poem:

In the Distance

We speak so
seldom now—
phone shy
since childhood

and the miles
between us
seem to multiply
with the years.

each new

greeted us
a garden gate

When did
the highway
become a gravel

Last night.
I thought
of that day
we had to hide

your father’s
car keys.
His daily descent
into dementia.

I take the top
on the old
Triumph Spitfire,

kick the
tires for luck,
and head your way
on the open road

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What the Old Want

My poem, What the Old Want, is up on the Bluebird Word. Fun one to write.

Not much—
and family
I suppose—
for short visits
involving meals
at restaurants
with tablecloths,
or something sumptuous
simmered for hours
over a low flame.

How about a week
without a visit
to a doctor
or a single
medical test.
or CAT scan,
or even
a tube of blood
with my name
in magic marker.

is in free fall.
Like riding
an elevator
held by a single
strand of steel
down from
the 93rd floor.
Bring kindness.

And, when all
else fails,
a recliner—
well worn
in all the right
A coffee
straight up
and the book
I loved best when
I was young.

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I have two poems in the current issue of Evening Street Review, number 35, Autumn 2012. Here is the first:


That was the summer
it wouldn’t stop raining.

The summer my brother
and I discovered

tropical fish
in a shop on Hegeman Avenue

behind the cats and dogs,
parakeets and gerbils.

The summer we watched
in black and white

as whole provinces
became watery graves

and forests
lost their footing

in countries with strange-
sounding names—

so far away
we had not yet gotten round

to bombing them.
It was the summer

we bought a fish tank
with pooled resources

and guppies, tetras, and angel fish,
and Congress passed

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution.
The summer we discovered Siamese

fighting fish and the war
between North and South

Vietnam was as certain
as the rain.

The summer the Bettas built bubble nests
and tore each other to pieces

and my brother packed
a duffel and went off in the rain.

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My poem, Remember, is in the current issue of Rat’s Ass Review. Here is the poem:


Sky more brown than blue
like Kansas
before Dorothy was whisked away.

Remember when they
came for him
and you learned
the damage stones could do?

Air so heavy
it hits
you like a headline.

Remember when they
came for her
and you first heard
a whip snap?

The ground trembles
as if rehearsing
a disaster movie.

Remember when they
came for them
and you learned
a new word—noose?

Blue-black and brown
of dried blood
painful even to the eye.

Remember when they
came for you
fine people,
lock stepped,

tiki torches on high,
drum beat louder
than anger?

You will, you will.

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Street View

My poem, Street View, was just published by Red Weather (MinnSU Moorhead). Here is the poem:

Street View

I never thought
I’d make my way
back home—
like some cross
between a voyeur
and a homing pigeon.

It hasn’t changed
much— a few storefronts
are gone. Goodbye
hardware and barber shops—
though I swear
I can see a smudge
where the barber pole
once stood.

The tenement looks
no different,
and I wonder if they
ever fixed the heat?
Come winter, the four
of us would pile onto
one thin mattress for warmth.

My fingers take the tour—
the schoolyard where we
played ball,
and the school
where I filched a library book
in sixth grade.

And there, by the traffic light,
I hit Bobbie in the mouth
with a right cross.
I never expected his lip
to bleed and bleed.
Does he ever look
back on that one punch fight?

I learned the right cross from the book
I stole. It taught me
jabs and combinations, uppercuts.
It taught me it was easy
enough to steal.

I close the app
knowing I can
come back anytime—
my personal time

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Irish Exit

Just published on Panoply,

“The magnificent seven,”
George would proclaim
although I warned him
again and again

that crowing was
sure to jinx us.
We had been a crew
since early childhood—

back when crawling was more rewarding
then the two-step flop.
In our twenties,

we had our own
table at the local
and met every night
after school or work.

It was in mid-May—
one of those Mays
that was really still April,
it rained and it rained.

We all got
the same three word message
“be in touch,”
from Kevin,

our token Irishman,
although his Brooklyn
accent was so heavy,
we were sure

he couldn’t survive
ten miles outside the five boroughs.
But aside from those
three words

we heard nothing.
Days grew to weeks
and Kevin became
an endless topic

of conversation.
We expected any moment
to be questioned
by the FBI,

roughed up
by the local don,
or cut and left for dead
by the motorcycle gang

that sold smack
down the block on Saratoga.
George would say
“it must be a woman”

and we all
imagined a sweet young thing—
just showing and frantic
to know Kevin’s whereabouts.

Nowadays, those of us
who still have hair
have watched it turn
to gray.

The six of us
still share a table
once a week or so—
and we’d all admit,

that each time the pub
door opens,
we glance over
hoping it might be Kevin.

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Peace, Peace will Come/ Minor Losses

I have two poems on the Write Launch. Here they are:

Peace, Peace will Come

It is often
easier to write
the landscape
without the pollution

of people.
This hillside
was once
wild with color

Can you
imagine it?

Today, the violets
that took residence
in the shell casings

flower pots
from the detritus
of war.

Can you
picture it?

This earth
will not pause
for our passing—
wind witnessing

that last
with a sigh
of relief.

Minor Losses

I walk past his house
most days.
A pretty Cape
painted sky-blue.

He taught
at the college,
but was devoted
to his lawn.

Over the years
I watched
as he tried every
new remedy

for crabgrass.
I used to joke
that he only need
wait for winter.

We lost three
this month
in our aging

Each got 200 words
and an unflattering
picture in the daily
no one gets delivered

anymore. Then
a few turns round
the sun for even
their echoes to vanish.

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