Dishwatery

Just published today on the Drabble. I love the title

Dishwatery

I am as flat today
—as a peanut butter sandwich
without the jelly,
—as a side of peas
at the greek dinner down the road
—cooked beyond color,
—as Muzak.


People are born as I am today.
—Minds as dull
as Kansas in corn.
—Fireworks gone matchless.
What sparks us?
What creates the ambition
to put one foot in front of another?


I take to my easy chair
with that book I never read
past the opening paragraph.
I have just enough energy
to ponder those deep thoughts
before my nap kicks in.

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Light Fall

My poem was just published by the Mark Literary Review. It’s actually written in tercets, but I no longer have any influence with my blog.

Light Fall

We are fine,

I suppose,

although winter has settled

in like an unwelcome

house guest,

who natters away

all day and night

about the summers

he once knew 

as a child.

We live in the sway 

of a great graying—

our world assuming

the colorlessness

we might find

on a planet

far from the sun.

We are fine, I suppose,

though we fight 

against our estrangement

from this unwelcoming world. 

We’ve been told

the Sun is backtracking

and we are accumulating 

minutes of daylight

as a child might

gather pennies

in a piggy bank,

waiting for that day

in the unfathomable future

when we might

uncork it

and free the light.

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Going Going Gone

My poem was just published by Louisiana Literature. It’s one of my favorite poems.

Going, Going, Gone

Here’s a picture 
of the four of us
by the old synagogue 
on Bristol Street.
It’s February,
and our mothers
have us dressed 
for the Arctic.
Can you tell the coats are
hand-me-downs?

We are six or seven
and closer than brothers.
To hear us tell it now,
we were abandoned
and raised by feral beasts
on the savage streets
of Brooklyn—
but it wasn’t like that.
Sure, we were poor
but who wasn’t?

That was 1953.
We’ve seen
each other through
school and war,
marriage and divorce,
and the promise of infants
who grew and grew
only to scatter
like startled sparrows.

But that’s not what I want
to tell you.

Eddie died this year—
smoked for sixty years
and got hit by a car 
crossing Amboy Street.
In 1961, Eddie hit the longest home run ever
in a Police Athletic League game.
We shouted ourselves raw
as he loped around the bases
even though we lost that game 12 to 1
to a team that never had
to share gloves.

The three of us share old stories 
over dominoes 
and whiskey on a stoop
on Bristol Street.
The synagogue is long gone.
Soon the rich will take the neighborhood.
We will pass
and all those singular memories
will flash out
like an ancient TV tube dying—
like they never were.

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My Poem, Resting Place, just published by The Orchards.

It is written in four line stanzas, though I can’t convince the blog it matters.

Resting Place

I often stop 

at this tiny cemetery, 

just off the state route

that trails down from Hairy John.

Pastels might do the landscape justice—

or a fine camera

in the hands of someone

with a painterly eye.

The deep dark soil

has attracted the Amish—

their farms dot the valley,

and I am often slowed

by horse and carriage

as I coast along

the gentle curves.

But this graveyard

is older than the Amish farms

and it seems unlikely

that the faded names

would spark

a recognition

in the eyes

of the living.

Wikipedia

calls those with a passion

for visiting graveyards

“Tombstone Tourists,”

although I don’t suppose

I qualify— as this spot

of peace and respite

is on my way 

from college to college.

The bones 

buried here

are past memory.

Isn’t that the way of these

monumental places?

Graveyards have always

been for the living.

I finish my coffee.

and grab a piece of the view—

undulating glen

in sun and shade

to see me home.

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Cadge

This was just published in January issue of Burningword Literary Journal (97). Here is the poem. It was written in four line stanzas, but my blog ignores spacing and I don’t know how to change it.

This was great fun to write. My mother and grandmother were great card players (oh, and me). My brother father not so good.

Cadge

I bet the four flush—

worth next to nothing

but looking to all like the key

to the kingdom of heaven.

You told me once

that poker

was half luck

and half bluff.

They had just

cleaned you out again

at the Friday night game

above the body shop on Sutter Avenue.

You and your six

unemployable friends—

passing a cheap bottle of rye

and shots at each other’s parentage,

in a room 

full of reefer

and the sweat 

of day labor.

You told me once

you had no luck—

having given it

all to me.

And I pictured a medallion

bestowed upon the younger brother—

no small burden

you’d hung around my neck—

as if the family’s fortune 

was riding on my narrow shoulders.

“What fortune?”

anyone who knew us might think to ask.

“But, you’ll never be a bluffer,

you told me,

for that you need a pair—

and in our family, I got them.”

Cold as cobra’s breath

I bet my four spades

and watched 

as the better hand folded.

You never were a judge of character—

a lifetime

of confusing 

friends and enemies.

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Bitterness

My poem, Bitterness, is in the current issue of Nixes Mate Review. From? Who knows.

I got a letter
from you
yesterday.

Handwritten
in your slanted
script

which leaned
so far right
it seemed

ready
to make
a break for it.

I thought
it strange
to get 

a letter from
the grave,
but you were

always
breaking
new ground.

I considered –
perhaps a map
of your buried 

fortune?
Some advice
from your

perch
of wisdom
on fulfilling 

my life?
I burned it
unopened

and added
the ash
to your urn.

In spring
I will scatter
your

ashes
in four
desolate

spots
in the far
woods

for fear
you might
reconstitute.

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Me and You

My poem was just published by Third Wednesday. Mary Rohr-Dann has three in this issue. Here is the link, I think.

Me and You

Friends and family

would often declare

with solemn authority

that my brother and I

were polar opposites.

Our literary cousin

Jerry, proclaimed

“Just like

Jekyll and Hyde.”

Yet the stories

they told

over the dinner table

were of your exploits—

not of my storied virtues.

I was observant.

I knew by age five

that the devil had

the best lines.

I learned 

that behind

good grades

and a mild demeanor

I could get away

with nearly 

anything.

You took the spotlight

I took the cake.

You never gave a hoot.

Told me that the North Pole

and the South 

were not so very different,

in a voice so like mine

in tone and intonation

that with eyes closed

I could imagine,

I was the one speaking.

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Automat

My poem Automat is up today at the Ekphrastic Review. Here is the art and the poem.

Automat

I imagine she looked

much like this—

abandoned 

at the Horn & Hardart

near the public library. 

The cloche is new—

always a frugal girl,

she saved her spare change

to buy it.

She has been waiting

much more than an hour—

the wretched coffee

has long gone cold.

I promised I would be there.

“To talk,” I said.

“To patch things up.”

Lonely now

in a new way,

she can only wonder

why I’ve chosen not to.

Perhaps a more

talented artist than I 

might paint

my likeness

as I sit at a similar table

crosstown.

And buried somewhere in that painting

might lie the answer—

in the worry lines

around my eyes, 

or in the tremor

captured

in the stillness of my hands?

I don’t know.

Do we ever 

really know?

It’s been years now,

and painting this picture 

has given me one last chance

to make amends—

to place myself at your table.

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Tilth

My poem Tilth has just been published in Issue 26 of the Evening Street Review. Really nice print journal (hint, you should submit there). Here it is:

Tilth

Once,

as we sat in the Skeller,

she joked 

that she could 

get pregnant from a handshake

and Charming Eddie,

that world-class weasel,

jumped up

and overturned the table—

spilling beer and peanuts—

just to be the first

to shake her hand.

I hated that he

beat me to it.

But that was

long ago—

when we were first year

medical students

and would recite for each other

the bones of the hand

the nerves of the face

the symptoms of rickets

and mispronunciation

might cause a mouthful

of beer to spray

across the table.

Today, I watch our kids

file into her stark white room

where useless instruments beep

over the rhythmic hump

of the respirator

and where we have known for months

that she has lived too long.

The kids are grown now

and scattered like 

dandelion puffs.

Together, 

for the first time in years,

we pass around 

a yellowing photo album—

and pause at a picture 

of her in her first white coat,

grinning like a caught-out child

as I reach for her hand.

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Reading virtually

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