Friday, July 9, 2010

After Life

Coming home from work yesterday,
I saw a 1966 Chevy station wagon in someone’s yard,
with a for sale sign propped up in the windshield
Even though a familiar pair of hands grabbed each of my shoulders and attempted to point me toward the yard sale just up the street, I stopped anyway.
The closer I came to the car, the more quickly the trim began to unravel.
The pale green paint and the un polished chrome around the windows,
Began to pull away, and twist into the bottom weave of flower baskets
lying in a pile on a grave

The last time I saw my brother alive
he was looking at me through the rear view mirror of our Impala wagon.
I have tried to forget the day of his suicide
And anything to do with the time
packing everything up all at once.
I was only 13
and anxious to become an old man
who wanders around folding tables at garage sales
picking through broken pieces of power tools
not to see if they actually worked,
but to wonder if I can fix them.
This was the last place
I could’ve imagined he was talking about,
When he promised,
he’d see me again.

I was on my sister’s bike coming down the dirt road
when I spotted him coming the other way in our willow green wagon.
Big smile on his face, he slowed down,
I slowed down
and we had our last talk together.
Precious boy,
if only I had known
I would never again hear your voice,
when you lied to me and said,
I was your little buddy and we’ll do something together.
If only I had known,
You were talking about a garage sale decades later
where I would be listening to your voice
through the glass of a rolled up window.
Staring through the eye holes in a Halloween mask
of a scary old man with hairy eyebrows.
If only I had known,
I would never again see a pack of Winston’s rolled up in the sleeve of your T-shirt
and the way your palm splayed over the roll of the steering wheel.
When you pulled the stick shift out of first, put the car in neutral
and revved the engine just enough to impress me.
I was impressed.
“You’ll get yer license too Kenny in a couple of years, then we ‘re gonna go over there to Martin’s
And get us a pit pass. Just you and me.”
Big fat liar.
You reached out of the window and touched my shoulder.
And I have loved the smell of gasoline ever since.
As you slowly drove away
The tips of your fingers lifted from me
And your arm folded inward like an un feathered wing and became an elbow in the window

And then it happened
You looked at me in the rear view mirror, reached up and adjusted it to get a better view
And I saw the crinkles in the corners of your eyes.
Souvenir smile.
More treasured than a night full of stars.
And in the hours that followed
when whatever happened to change this moment,
into a .22
and your blood
and crying
and unbearable things
I can only mention to God,
I knew
for a least a few seconds
On your last day of life
driving west on Dewey Lake street
you were happy
because of me.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Robert's flower has gone to seed
and people are talking to themselves in the street
in boxes so small,
nestled in between the neck and jaw
like miniscule violins.

And so begins
an anquished fill of empty space
or into the ears of someone like you,
trolling the water
Patient fisherman
who spends the day
casting out your l ine
and reeling in;
casting out
and reeling in
for the likes of me.

And in your lovely heart
pools the souls of those
whom you've kept alive
and then let go,
but only when the time seems right.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Way You Looked

My deepest
crawled up from the back of my throat
And quietly waited by the gate of teeth
For its queue
“You know you can tell me anything”
You said
and I believed you.

So I let the animal loose and
It came running up to you wagging its tail
Resting its head on your lap
Looking up with penitent eyes
Aching for your hand
To swirl around its floppy ears
And stroke its long unkempt fur.

You turned away
and mentioned
going shopping later
or to visit your father’s grave.

But I knew it was to bury me
Deep within some memory
Of what you wanted me to be
Like the photograph of us that always looks the same
The one you keep on the bureau drawer

O Tannenbaum

I saw a king once
Waiting for his carriage at the end of a driveway
leaning up against bags of wrapping paper
piled nearly as high as the Styrofoam bricks
where he stood away from the wind.
I wondered if he knew he reminded me of Humphrey Bogart
With that lollipop stick cigarette dangling from his thin lips
trying to forget about tinsel town.
I caught him staring at the silver threads
Caught in between his fingers like rivulets of water falling from his hands

I know he was dwelling on the children
adorning his branches with jewels and strings of beautiful lights

The very same little ones
Who were trying with all their hearts
To stop the peasants from unraveling his regal attire
and dragging his carcass out the same door
Which only days before
Everyone had fought to be the first to open .

When the sight of him was greeted with cheers and squeals of delight
when the cooing of the youngest one
Reminded him of the mourning doves that nested on the very same bough caught in the slam
as his skin was being scraped away on the aluminum frame

He was thinking of his corner near the fireplace
And the amber beads on his crown
when the dump truck arrived.

Jealous Moon

He is all at once
a clumsy anxious lover
And the light is exquisite for a time
But her eyes are rolling their knuckles
hard against her tightly held lids.
And she is not there with him.
But dreaming of me perhaps
in his touch
reaching her in every way
in this longing darkness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When the guillotine was first invented
it served a purpose I suppose
until the crowd became too addicted
to the Executioner’s absence
then anyone was eligible to bow before a hungry audience

It had the appeal all great inventions have
of provision,
immediate and satisfactory,
Just say the word and the deed is done.

No middle aged man looking out the back window at the axe in the stump
near a stack of firewood,
swelling with remorse over a secret occupation he could never speak of
to the kids.
“It’s just a job” he would say to the wife
“I’ll stop at the market on the way home.”

Only now with all this time on his hands
is he able to finally count the heads.
Especially the ones who turned slightly to the side
looked up at him from the corner of their eye
and asked for a second chance.

Other gods

He climbs the steps
with a quiet reverence,
an offering
held carefully in the jaw
and lays the sacrifice at the top of the alter
then slowly backs away.

In the morning the deity screams
and is unpleased,
sweeping the carrion
from the path of unrelenting worshipers.

And so he seeks the adulation of other gods
whose temples fill the city block
with portals ready made
for hungry vagabonds such as he
to come and go as they please.
To eat and drink
and even dream.

But there is no respite for his prey
who cower behind the blades of grass
or the closed curtain
holding perfectly still
hoping the zealots
will stay away from the back porch
with their brochures.