Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Lives of Furniture III: The Dinette


The Lives of Furniture III: The Dinette

The top of the pink formica dinette
is criss-crossed with scratches from
errant X-acto knives, the bottom decorated
with fossilized bubble gum and letters
scrawled with children’s markers.
History and mathematics have been taught
here, macaroni and cheese eaten here.
Many glasses of wine have been drunk here,
many hot cups of tea have been poured here,
many poems have been written here.
The aqua bench seats have both been re-
upholstered, the propagation of rips
from pen punctures and other assaults.
This dinette offeres the closest seat to the
hottest radiator, on the coldest day,
we have all fought for this spot.
Children have grown up here, from kneeling
on the benches to reach their plates, to
squeezing in, their knees pressing
against the opposite bench,
their feet trammeling each others,
bickering like the small children they
once were.
My grandchildren and their children
will spend time at this dinette, playing Scrabble,
drinking hot chocolate and eating waffles on a
cold Sunday morning, bickering just like
we did for who gets the best spot
next to the warmest radiator in the
whole house.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Lives of Furniture II: The Dresser



I have seen many love affairs,
the mingling of underwear and socks
in my top drawer, and then their separation
as I moved cross country, from one
lover to another.
Children have pulled open my drawers
looking for Christmas presents,
other treasures, which Mother had
cleverly hidden elsewhere.
I have hidden a gun from someone
who thought it would solve their problems.
My wooden top is stained with
water left too long, covered with
books, stuffed animals missing eyes,
notes, price tags, the stuff of everyday life.
My drawers are lopsided, some of my handles
have gone missing for many years,
and now, now I hold my missus’ summer
clothes, her shorts and her blouses, except
my third drawer stuffed with sweaters.
I have aged gracefully and I humbly
continue to do my duty, watching lives
fold and unfold as my drawers open
and shut.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Lives of Furniture I: The Rocking Chair


They dragged me back from the
Bowl and Board on Mass Avenue;
they could not have parked
within three blocks anyway,
the same distance to their
small apartment on Harvard St.
I started rocking immediately,
the mother desperately trying to
calm a fussy infant, me getting
covered in projectile vomit, and
the baby happily watching the world
go back and forth, up and down,
eyes wide open, enjoying the ride.
Those were my days and nights,
for the first one, then the second.
kids gone, I rock the mother,
her eyes drooping as she falls
to sleep, and finally, for the
rabbit, who hides under the
slightly frayed rope seat when
the late afternoon sun
warms that particular spot
and I can smell her warm
rabbit smell and doze off,
too.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Eating Fish


The filet was long,
thin at one end,
thick at the other.
One knows that an
overcooked fish
is as unsatisfying as an
undercooked rubbery
slab.
A pleasure,
among many, of eating
alone, to eat the fish in pieces,
the thinnest portion first lifted
delicately from the pan,
savored over a glass of
wine, a good detective novel,
then the mid-section
as main course, some
sauteed zucchinie, and
finally, the thickest piece
lifted from the now empty
sautee pan, paired with
green salad doused
in vinaigrette.
A coffee, a piece of chocolate,
ready to retire to the armchair
with a fine detective novel,
and enjoy the evening.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remember Why...Not


next year
remember why you do not
want to do this again, the long
hours you stood on your feet,
some of the grouchy customers,
-albeit most were nice.
remember driving in the
night before to sleep in a
cheap motel, the alarm clock
jarring you awake at 5:45 a.m.,
working in the chilly darkness.
remember being cold all day,
and disinterested, bored even.
next year, do not think
back fondly to this day, as a woman
does when she recalls the birth of
her last child, forgetting she swore
off childbirth forever after at the time.
even though it was not really
that bad, remember all the
fun things you could have done,
and do them instead.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

at the end of a long day

at the end of the day,
a long day, i look back
at the tiny details of my life
and wonder if a poem
exists
and i see no poem
some days, just the
creek flowing full
on a spring day, the
song of the house finch,
a bud unfurling on a
bush, nothing dramatic,
just the tiniest details
of daily life.
at the end of a long
day, there is nothing
profound to write,
nothing in particular
has sparked my interest,
i did not read the news,
or go looking for material,
it was just another day,
this is just another
poem, nothing special,
nothing particular,
just another day,
just another poem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

cool shoes




i have cool shoes,
with pink trim and
black alligator toes,
with green flowers
and lightning bolts.
i’m fast on my feet
in my new shoes,
forget botox or face
lifts, my new shoes
make me young
again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Bird and his Bath


he was the first arrival
at the birdbath tonight,
making his way from
the top branches of the
apple tree, down to
the Nanking Cherry bush,
stopping on the way
to eat a few grubs on
the ground, a short hop
up to the edge of the bath.
he looked at me dubiously,
then proceeded to his
business of drinking,
wading, shaking his
feathers dry, then so
suddenly in flight
at the same moment
a cat sprang into view.
.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Grand Smoke-Out



I was methodically pulling
weeds in front of my house,
watching streams
of young people, in
groups of 10 to 20,
stroll by towards Folsom Street.
Boulder High School let out
two hours ago, there was no
football game, but there
was clearly an event.
Everyone looked happy,
with a spring in their step.
Ten thousand strong, they
converged on Farrand Field,
some traveling from New York,
Virginia, Texas, to smoke a
joint in public, with friends,
without reprisal, to sit in the
sun until a cloud of marijuana
smoke turned the blue sky to
grey, and then their time was up
and everyone packed up their
bongs and their pipes, their
wrappers and their plastic bags
and headed home, to study
for the next final, to write the
next paper, to get ready for
work, to get down to the real
business of life.
Nice break, though.
.
http://www.dailycamera.com/photos/galleries/2009/apr/20/photo-gallery-420-cu-boulder-campus/20967/

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Layers of a Woman


she has pushed her bike
along the same road,
many thousands of times,
tens of years, her girlish
laughter still echoes in her
ears, now gone deaf with age.
the shuffle of her orthopedic
shoes have replaced the quick
tap of high heels, the swish of
her skirt against bare legs,
now covered in sturdy
long underwear.
not a single boy looks twice
as she pushes by, nor does she
smile flirtatiously as she once did.
she feels no need, it is only wrinkles
which disguise the beautiful woman
she still is.
.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Warriors for Peace


In 2005,
she cried when he said good-bye,
her only son, standing tall in his
uniform, proud to serve his
country, sure of his mission,
leaned over to embrace her,
assuring her of his safe
return, not to worry,
to take care of herself and
his little sister.
In 2009,
tears gather in her eyes as she tells us
her only son is no longer
standing tall in his uniform,
no longer proud to serve his
country, his confidence
in shambles, three suicide
attempts, a successful
day is to have survived it.
A lost son,
an uncounted
military casuality.


A Poem written after seeing a photographic exhibition
called “Warriors for Peace”. The photo above comes from his website,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Advice for a House Finch


think carefully before
selecting the largest house
with the biggest windows,
the one where you sit
on your nest safe from
the weather, overseeing
the front yard, the trees
across the street, the
neighbor birds bustling
about, flying by, seeing
you sitting so proudly on
your beautiful nest.
think carefully because
just as you see them, they
see you going to and fro,
finally settling in for the long
sit on those delicious little eggs,
waiting for you to take
a little break to stretch
your legs and how heartbroken
you will be when your
beautiful little nest swaying
in full view of all
your neighbors
is
so quickly emptied
of its delicious little
eggs.
and so think carefully, my
little finch, of making your
nest in the best looking house
with the best view,
it may not be the
best nest.
I will post picture of my real birds tomorrow sometime.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Darkness, Rain

it’s coming down
steady now, streetlights
shrouded in glistening
raindrops, a staccato
of splashes in puddles
that I jump across,
running from car to
warm house.
i will wake up earlier
because of reflected
light from deep
snowbanks outside
my window.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cutting Ear Lobes Brings Relief

There was no other option,
no other salve to ease the pain,
razor blades were not invented yet,
there was no bus approaching under
whose wheels he might fling himself.
Furthermore, his scissors were dull,
so he did what seemed reasonable.
He cut off his left ear lobe.
Feeling better, the next
decision loomed large as to whom
would deserve this precious piece
of himself, this bloodied gift
could only belong to Rachel,
his true love, his despair.
Ear lobe in paper bag, he presented
his love to her on bent knee,
madness circling him, finally
embracing him, silencing him,
delivering peace.
.
Van Gogh's painting Entrance of the Hospital

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Plans for Old Age


I’ll have removable dentures by then,
so when Stephen will have taken my
walker away from me, stranding
me at the dining room table,
I will remove them and play
games with the mouse I could
never catch in the cereal cupboard,
using the snack the dietician permits
me to eat as bait.
The cat who never caught the mouse
who chewed through the cereal boxes
in the cupboard will gaze down
upon us from his posthumous
perch and I will keep my head
erect so as to keep the focus
sharp on the mouse with my tri-focals
perched on my ever sharpening
Swiss nose.
.
Ernst Kahl "High Noon" postcard sent to me by my daughter, Karen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Haircut from Hell


She didn’t speak English.
It was a bad sign.
I already had the nylon bib
wrapped around my neck,
tightly.
She sprayed water on my hair,
pulling her comb evenly through the
knots and tangles.
I could see
my hair stretching, feel my
scalp pulling and see my
hair snapping like curling
ribbon for decorating packages.
She did not see the
pain on my face and
she did not speak
English.
She started cutting,
staring over my head
at her newly colored hair
in the mirror.
I didn’t want to look
as my hair littered the
floor.
It was meant to be.
Fate.
She didn’t speak English,
I still have some hair left,
my split ends are gone,
my hair eventually will
grow back.
Requirement for next
hair stylist:
She must speak English.

.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lazy Easter

she woke up at nine,
stumbled from bed to
bathroom, viewing herself
in mirror, noting the creases
of the pillowcase imprinted
in her face, teeth needed
brushing, and went back
to bed to listen
to npr for a few minutes,
but garrison keilor was on
and she doesn’t like garrison
keilor so she got up, tripped
over her pajama bottoms,
and pondered Easter and
that she had missed the
service she never planned to
attend anyway.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Craving Books


she came back from
Africa, craving knowledge,
the dusty months of tedium
made college look like the
great opportunity it was to drink
in a knowledge of world while
sleeping on clean sheets, calling
her parents if she felt like it,
she even savored the experience
of being the the first to crack the
cover of Organic Chemistry, 2nd ed.,
by Joseph Hornback.
her professors were not so thrilled,
an independent upstart, annoyingly
brilliant who would rather study at
home than lose time listening to
them, beating the fastest path
to knowledge on whatever road
presented itself.
she ignored them, her nose buried
in a book, in a place where she
could find such a rich variety,
she had never appreciated it so
much as when she walked
many months of tedium on
the dusty roads of Africa.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Home from Vacation

we drag ourselves
home from vacation,
swimming suits bleached
from motel hot tubs,
dirty laundry intermingled
with those nice travel
clothes we planned to
wear at fancy dinners.
instead, we ate taquitos
at roadside stands,
drank mojitos flavored
with the local in-season
fruits, falling asleep
with the moon rising
in our favorite worn-out
clothes we planned to
leave home.
we drag ourselves
home from vacation,
refreshed and exhausted
at once, waking reluctantly
to an insistent alarm clock,
trying to remember what
we had worked on before
we left and why it
mattered.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Decision


they both decided to lose
their last five pounds, the ones
which encircle a beautiful
woman’s waist, interrupt
the long fine curve down
her back, the ones that have
to go before they call out
for others to join them in
the next decade or two.
this all decided while doing
walking lunges and hamstring
curls, crunches and leg presses.
the plan of attack, from how to
resist the animal crackers in a
colleague’s office to how to not
eat the whole box of chocolate
in one sitting, from diet logs
to nutrition tables, from support
emails to reward systems.
it’s late tonight and as surely
as I look longingly at the box
of cookies in the pantry, she is
wishing she had not eaten
every piece of Belgian chocolate
last night.

.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Green Bowl in Desert


I knew she would be
green with envy when
she saw my new antique
bowl, the kind she absolutely
loves, so I sent her a text
message, with the picture,
making sure she
would get it on her way
to work, while I basked
in the desert sun in Utah,
on vacation for five
glorious days.
Eat your heart out,
I texted her, with a gleeful
grin on my face, pay back
for her last two week
trip to Paris and Italy.
It’s all fair.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Library Magazines


I always wanted to read
Men’s Journal, but would
have to do so surreptitiously,
hiding the cover against my
breast and walking boldly
to the carrel in the back corner.
There I would open the
cover page with excitement
at the secrets inside, the secrets
of that male species which
seems so odd at times.
At this moment, I can see
Men’s Journal just over the
metal bookcase above
Mother Jones, and I’m itching
to go get it since there’s only
one other person nearby, his
head buried in his laptop,
maybe he is reading Women’s Home
Journal or Cosmo on-line.
Seemingly on cue, two
men walked in, no doubt here
to guard their many secrets.

Monday, April 6, 2009

No internet. Will post tomorrow!

No internet. Will post tomorrow!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Writers' Block and Earplugs


After 420something poems,
it struck in the Super 8 Motel
in Moab, UT, writer’s block,
where no words pour forth
regardless of how many photos
I have browsed, how many articles
I have perused, how many snowy
roads I have traveled today.
We’ve all heard of it and many
suffer terribly, taking to bed,
speaking to therapists,
buying a new dog or going shopping
for black cocktail dresses.
I search under the bed for
the cure to loud music,
annoying television shows,
snoring partners, and writers’block,
a small plastic case of foam
ear plugs to block out this
whole world of distractions.
Now I can write.

Left at the side of the road

whizzing down the highway
today in my comfy leather seat,
a mere push of a lever moves
me forward, back, up, down,
tilt back or forward,
ice cold water condensing,
trickling down the side
of my Friday Frappe, one
buck off if it's snowing.
forty eight years ago, I was
one of five small children
summarily deposited on the side
of a divided highway, just like
this one, watching the family
car recede into the distance,
unsure if it was ever coming back.
the elder sister was not
holding a Friday frappe,
licking cold water off the
sides or feeling the memory
of soft leather against her
fingertips, the tails of her clumsily
made pigtails just barely reached her
mouth, where she could suck
on them thoughtfully as we all
gathered around
her like chicks around a
mother hen. He eventually
showed up again from behind us,
having exited somewhere on the
other side of the horizon and
looped back around.We dutifully
loaded back into the car and headed
west once again. He hummed to
the radio,we sank into our
seats, hoping he would forget
we existed. Perhaps
he already had.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Growing Up



one day you’ll be alone
in your house, the children’s
rooms having become the sewing
room or the den where you watch
TV late at night, eating buttered
popcorn on the couch,
the one you never let them eat on,
you’ll read in bed, more than
2 pages before falling asleep
because you know you can sleep
til noon,
if you want.
But you don’t, because
you have plans for breakfast the
next day with one of them,
the one who knew the whole alphabet
by two, and knew the worst places
to throw tantrums, as far as you were
concerned.
So, you see each other and talk some,
and mostly eat, checking cell phones
occasionally for important calls
and then it’s time to go all of
a sudden and you realize he’s
leaving and you have no idea
when you’ll each other again


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taxes, Work and Dishes


Two down and one to go,
the IRS says the check’s
in the mail,
two reports revised and rewritten,
customers notified by email.
the dishwasher is empty,
waiting to be filled again,
and emptied.
The counters are concealed
under the latest pile,
they’ll be waiting tomorrow
morning.
Two down, one to go.
P.S. Yes, that is an empty
ice cream container.