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Thursday, January 12, 2017

COMING BACK FOR MORE



1.

Her exterior has been religiously anointed
her interior is exquisitely appointed

but I've come to the conclusion
upon eons of self-delusion

that the solitary life works best
for the constitution

as all about there's prostitution
in one guise or another

so be my sistah
and I'll be your bruther

for us there will no other
till my hour is up

and you're off to your next call
counting your haul as you slink out the door


2.

Decades whiz by
in the flash of an eye
and when I say I took her support stockings off
and wore them over my head
and then went out and robbed the liquor store
I think U know what I mean--
it's the universal language of love
ooby dooby dooby doo
 just me and you

Now I just want to slip
into another world
as this one grows chillier
by the moment
any world that I'm welcome to
(I grope for the key beneath the mat
at the foot of the door)

And she said: what is it 
you love about life?  
And I replied : the way it kicks our asses
and still we keep coming back for more

3.

Now I sit like the Fool On The Hill
on his lofty perch
a  man on a stationary bike
could attain a similar altitude
in far less time and trouble
but I preferred the scenic route

And I can see clearly now
all the dead-end roads
I've traveled down
they stretch in all directions
snaking to the horizon...
leading not to Rome
but to Samarra

Sunday, January 8, 2017

PATIO PARTY



I.

I meet her at the party.
She is working for an agency
called Asians For Special Occasions,
renting herself out to PC folks who want
their social gatherings to appear culturally diverse.
I ask if she has done many similar events,
and she replies, "Oh, yes. in fact when you
see a Japanese, or Chinese, or Korean, or
Vietnamese, or Thai-looking person at a
party these days, they are likely from the agency."

(She isn't supposed
to drink the wine,
but I say here,
you can suck on mine.)

II.

There is a young middle-tier porn actress
there, recruited by the hosts
to add an air of decadent sophistication
to the assemblage. She looks like the
 girl next door--freckle splashed cheeks
 and nose--not like the skanky-looking
 babes from the early days of the business.

Someone asks if she ever gets
involved with the men she works with and
she says, "Guys are so PRESUMPTUOUS!
Just because I DO you--what in the world
would lead you to assume 
I would ever want to date you?"

(She's also not supposed to touch the vino,
but she's eyeing my glass,
so surreptitiously, I slip it to her.)

She grabs a handful of almonds from
the hors d'oeuvre table and says:
"Imagine if I were allergic to nuts."

III.

There is a Jewish woman wearing a head scarf.
She is posing as a Muslim. She's there for the
same reason as the other hired help. They couldn't
get the real thing on short notice, she confides, but
she has similar coloring, and everyone assumes.
Because of the head scarf, they assume.
"Perception is reality," she explains.
(I offer her a sip, but she says, "Better not...it would blow my cover.")

The hosts have thought of everything.
Except to have stocked enough wine.
When it runs out, I prepare to make my exit,
thanking the two of them--a white couple in their fifties--for their hospitality. The couple doesn't
know me, but each assumes the other one does.

Which is all well and good I say to myself
as I move, a little wobbly, toward the gate.

I wasn't invited.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED



Wish I could decide
on some kind of compromise
between lying around on my dead butt
and leading the revolution

Should be a happy medium
that won't get me shot
and turn me into a martyr
yet still provide a modicum
of intrigue and excitement
(like leading a bus tour of celebrity homes in L.A.)

Though a martyr wouldn't be
such a bad thing to be
with my picture on a T-shirt
(just have to grow my beard out bushy)

And I gotta admit the romantic vision
of taking to the hills with our rifles
and our long-haired women--
little papooses strapped to their backs--
has been a long held fantasy

Back in the day I had more stomach for it--
raising a fist in solidarity
with the Panthers up on that podium.
Even had a secret crush on Patty
(or was it Tania?)

Yeah, could use a little excitement
but what's an old hippie
who's gone soft
and out of practice to do?
Must be someone
more qualified than me
and don't wanna hang you up
so maybe I'll just take a rain check on the revolution
(We had such wide-eyed conviction 
that a new day was comin')

This time it will certainly be televised
and I'll be right there
beer in hand
rooting y'all on
between the commercial breaks
(we really BELIEVED...ya know)
so shoot me
an email
if there's anything else I can do.



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CONJURING A GHOST--THIRTY MINUTES TILL THE NEW YEAR


I was flipping around
and landed on one of the Spanish channels
and suddenly thought of you
and wondered what you'd be doing
about now
and wondering how your life turned out
minus me

I didn't really know who you were

when you left that message
at the station
you wanted to meet me
that was how you operated
call and schedule an audience

I didn't know your songs

were on the radio
or that you would sing
your national anthem
to a worldwide audience
the night George Foreman fought 
that Puerto Rican kid 
for the title in Tokyo

 I came over to your place

( cuz took requests whenever possible)
and you made your grand entrance

I knew you were disappointed

cuz I didn't dress up
and acted disinterested
you drove me to the hotel
and I knew I had some balls
just asking you to do it

Your roommate became the intermediary after that

and she said well, you are who you are
and she likes to go to the fancy clubs
and she's wondering
would you really be comfortable with that?

The last time I saw you was at the beach

you broke free from your entourage 
came up and gave me a hug
and then you were gone

You married one of your own

naturally
with little ones and that whole trip
and hell
don't know why
guess it's just that it's 30 minutes
till the new year
and those bikini waxed babes are
shakin' and grinding their asses up on the screen
would Dick Clark approve? 
(oh well, he's dead)
I used to think that was something
but now it just grosses me out
we both came from a time and a place
when women had more class
and a lot more grace

I checked you out on YouTube

and yes you're still a beauty
though age begins to take its toll
and the glitter wears off
and so I'm wondering
did your fame bring you happiness
you know cuz
it all ends up in the same place
in the end
and maybe you're thinking it too
sitting here
30 minutes till the new year
recalling that old Peggy Lee song
Is That All There Is?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

HEARTBREAK IN FADED JEANS

Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

I like it when a poem mentions a real place
like Omaha or Charleston as that immediately
tells me there won't be any faeries or elves in it
and so it's safe to continue and I like it when
a poem mentions a real thing like let's say a lonely
bus stop and I like it when a poem mentions real 
people like old lovers or new lovers and some
way that all these things come together like at a bus
stop in Omaha where a woman stands waiting for
what could be an old lover on a bus that doesn't
come and not how it makes the woman feel because 
we don't exactly know but how it makes the poet 
feel as he observes her from the gas station 
across the way and there's a chill in the evening air
and after a while he walks on over to inquire as 
to whether he can be of some assistance 
she is a dark haired woman who reminds him
of an old lover and she says where you headed
mister and he says Charleston and she smiles
and say oh well that would be pretty far out of
my way as I live about five miles down the road
and he wants to say something but there's this little
voice telling him she's heartbreak in faded jeans
and he says well have a good evening then m'am
and when he pulls out of the station never to return
again he glances in his mirror and sees that she has
stepped off the curb and is thumbing for a ride and
in a New York moment (a pregnant one at that) he says
fuckit and turns the car around and you will write your 
own ending same as we all do in real life and that there's
the kind of poem I like now mister yes I surely do. 



Sunday, December 11, 2016

RUN





My first baseball game
second grade I believe
recess out on the playground
they didn't use a baseball
it was a soccer sized ball
you whacked at it with the bat
and then you ran
that's what I saw the other kids do
you ran

I didn't know one thing about baseball 
I didn't know you were supposed to stop at the base when the ball was being thrown there 
and someone called out SAFE!
or OUT!
mom's Second Big Mistake 
having shown me nothing 'bout anything
'cept how to be passive aggressive
so I just kept running
running home
because I didn't know 
you know
and the kids thought I was dumb or something
or maybe had a screw loose
'cause next time up I did it again
and they were yelling STOP
but I kept on running 
running home
and I didn't look back

And when it came time to bust out of
that little town 
years down the line
I ran
and kept on running
running away from home 

And I didn't look back 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

A WOMAN'S SCENT...FADING















A worldly young man, tainted by love,
railing against the ruling classes,
(promising a chicken in every pot
but offering a payday loan joint on every corner)
drives down a lonely road.
The snow beyond the windows impenetrable.
The wind whipping across the park.

In his mind's ear: 
flute music played
by street musicians from Chile--
portable lives in the nomadic sun.

He hears: The war drums of the Sioux.
He hears: The voice of God singing "Hey Jude."

He wonders if he can reconcile
with the Antichrist in the kitchen.
He remembers when she said "Teach me to love."
They devoured each other like
children with melting candy.
(The just washed dankness of her hair.)

He drives past a billboard that says:
WE'RE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH STRETCH MARKS

In his mind it is all compartmentalized--
there are remnants of old lovers in each of these rooms.

And it's so puzzling to be a person
asking why does anything exist?
Time moves imperceptibly
until the world becomes a city full of strangers.

And he wants to be at a ski lodge
in the Grand Tetons, sitting cozy by the fire.
A young woman moves near.
She is an African girl--so lovely
it makes him sad. It is her love
for her youth, and for his,
that draws them together.
Could a dance like this go on forever?

And he passes a billboard that says:
WE'RE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH B.O.

And he is back on the island
with Marie--it is where they met.
The alliance of sun and alcohol
so conducive to romance.
His imagination so fertile now,
filled with ghosts and ballerinas.

When he gets home they will talk,
like they never do. He will clear the air.
He will ask if she's having an affair.
And though he knows she is
a sovereign nation unto herself,
they must remain allies to prevent
both their worlds from collapse.
And he knows to some degree that he
will always be searching for the Holy Grail.

He glances at his watch
though he does not want to think about  time--
the only constant in life being the question
of whether love will be there in the morning.

The snow swirls around his car.
On the street a white-haired man
bends haltingly against the wind.

He is almost home.

He passes a billboard that reads:
WE'RE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO STILL CAN'T BELIEVE THEY ATE THE WHOLE THING

He parks the car, then tramps
the few steps up to the apartment.
He inserts the key. He opens the door...

A woman's scent, fading.

The past...
the present.. 
a blurry haze. 
The world is on fire.

The funniest thing...
And now he remembers.

Marie has been gone for twenty-five years. 
And he is not the young man anymore.

He is the old one.



This is a revised version of a poem that first appeared here four years ago.



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SAY HIS NAME













He is heading out
for open road,
 big rig humming.

Thanksgiving morning.
The day is crisp and clear.

He will eat his holiday dinner
at some truck stop,
where his banter with the waitress--
a kindred spirit--
will be about keeping the world running
while the rest of 'em
spend the day gettin' fat and happy.

In a while,
he will put in a call to Janie and the kids.
They'll be over at mom's today.
In their pre-meal prayer,
they will say his name.

And yes, he is thankful.
Hell...lucky to have a job at all
the way things are going.

The road snakes on to somewhere
anywhere
nowhere.

And the holiday travelers
blow past him,
just another obstacle
in the way
on the way
to their overindulgence.

He remembers how,
in the beginning,
he thought this would be
a romantic kind of life.
But as he looks out now,
across the endless expanse,
he is struck by the thought
that it's kinda like
gazing at the moon
in daylight.



Friday, November 11, 2016

IT'S YESTERDAY ONCE MORE (.doo-be-doo-lang-lang...)



Goin back
to a simpler time and place
where at the table
the family says grace
and father knows best

A place where climate change
does not exist
and those greenhouse gas emissions
like the truth
need no regulatin'

Back to a time where
her right to choose
means which pretty dress
in the storefront display window
she will wrap up and take home

Where if we all just stay healthy
there'll be no need
for that costly insurance
just make sure to get
your morning constitutional
in every day

And speaking of the constitution
well, that civil rights amendment 
(# 14 for those keeping score at home)
has not yet been passed
and being civil
means no disobedience--
we'll all get along fine
long as everyone stays in his place

With a chicken in every pot
and a piece riding every hip
don't look at me cross-eyed, boy
don't give me no lip

A land of equal opportunity
where any man
with large enough bills
can rise to the highest office in the land
even if he has no class
(even if he looks like the business end
of a baboon's ass!)

Back to a simpler time
and simple times were meant
for simple minds

So let's play a game of let's pretend
it's the fifties again
don't forget your lunch pail, dad
on your way out the door
and when you get home
mom will have a fresh apple pie
cooling on the window sill

Oh, and remember it's election day
so don't forget to vote
you can get there on your bike...

I LIKE IKE!!!