Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

We will arrive in a strange city speaking a strange, guttural language;
it will be evening after many hours flying over endless vistas of oceans,
the moon following the sun, following the moon.
An airport festooned with signs reading Willkommen.
Our eyes bleary with sleeplessness will follow the
signs with little pictures of trains on them and hope
that we find the correct train to our home away from
home, a place surrounded by gardens which welcomes
weary travelers, unknown travelers, to rest there
at no cost, with no expectations, only to enjoy
the scent of freshly baked bread.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Filling out the Census Form

“I mostly live here, don’t I”,
he looked at me quizzically,
“more than 75% of the time”
so shouldn’t I fill in that box?
There is room to explain why
I live here only 75% of the time on the
back. I’ll just write in “dog and rabbit
mismatch”as the reasons we don’t live
together all the time, or maybe I could
say I am staying in a nursing home, since
it is kind of like that here with all
the food in the frig, but kind of
bad service and no coffee.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ready to Inhale: A Fantasy

I am at work; the clock is ticking; I have to write a scientific paper.
the information on the computer screen in front of me is not in my brain.
I need to get it into my brain, digest it, and use it to build my hypothesis.
The photons emanating from the computer screen only go the speed of light,
pixel by pixel, word by word as my eyes scan the page, glazing over.
I open my mouth, exhaling forcefully, then lean towards the screen
and breathe in deeply, every word and mathematical equation
pulled off the screen and deep into my lungs where a billion alveoli
perform parallel processing, delivering knowledge,
not just information.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

No More Visits

I would have stopped by to visit
but the door is closed, the curtains
drawn; a note taped to the mailbox flaps
in the wind warning the mailman
not to deliver junk mail,, the words
written in large capital letters with explanation
points for emphasis for those
who do not get the

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Neighborhood Swamp: Spring

The water in the swamp is still; ice
sheets hold the edges like clothespins
secure sheets on a windy day.
A sharp blue sky gazes down
through lime green buds at
a reflection of itself.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Neighborhood Swamp: Summer

The swamp on the corner
wedged between the O’Brian’s and
Mrs. Willowby’s house is brimming
with tadpoles, their flanks shimmering
in the brilliant sunshine in resonance
with the wings of a million cicadas.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Neighborhood Swamp: Winter

The swamp on the corner
wedged between the O’Brian’s and
Mrs. Willowby’s house slumbered
under deep snow, the edges dirtied
by car exhaust, I don’t dare go there
for fear of falling into ice-covered
crevasses, or of being pierced by
icicles hurtling towards earth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Searching for C.

the headlights of the car
illuminated Rue des Bavards
through a sheet of rain,
a boulevard like so many others.
he leaned forward anxiously,
his forehead almost touching
the cold windshield as he searched
for her car, the one he looked for every
night, sometime before dawn, to see
where she slept, no matter where,
in anyone’s arms, no matter
whose, as long as he knew
she was there safe, so many
rainy nights when she
was not at home in her
small twin

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Problem with Rhymes in Poetry

rhymes drive poems into a ditch;
the remaining words
spinning like the wheels of a car
that has rolled as it careened off
the highway, its erstwhile occupants
trapped inside, unable to speak.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I have to write one line before S.
will let me get up to eat another cookie.
(I write two lines and realize I can write
the rest of a poem before eating more cookies.)
I have to package the remaining cookies
in plastic bags, locked plastic bags, to
send to K., who is the small criminal who
printed out the recipe to these cookies when
she last visited.
I left two cookies at M&M’s house earlier
today and I know from past experience that
M1 meant to only eat a bite but ate all of
her cookie and maybe all of M2’s cookie.
I have to file my taxes, finish reading the
article about the Brooklyn Poet Laureate
who competed against 22 other poets for
the position and who writes poems on scraps
of paper, poems that get published in the
New York Times.
I must find scraps of paper.

Friday, March 19, 2010

If the Sidewalks Were Shoveled

If the sidewalks are shoveled,
we can walk barefoot without
getting our feet wet, bundled in
our warm winter jackets and
new gloves; we can walk
away from the dirty dishes
in the sink towards a warm
café and drink double espressos
and read the latest New York Times.
The sidewalks are never shoveled
except in front of our house,
When it snows, there is never
a pathway to the west or to
the east and we sit inside and drink
hot tea and bake cookies until
the sun comes out again and
melts away the snow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Snow on Flowers

falling asleep in spring to
the aroma of warm dirt
and flowers coaxed from
the earth by the sun.
waking, the flowers will be covered
in a blanket of sparkling snow,
the air will be crisp, odorless,
sterile, yet

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Fashion

if i were to construct
a couple with all the green
i saw today, she would be wearing
a tiara dangling green tinsel stars,
a lime green cashmere sweater, low cut so
as to reveal the shamrock tattoo on her left breast.
her green stiletto heels click against the
cement sidewalk, highlighting her green
fishnet stockings terminating at the hem
of her green and white striped miniskirt.
her companion, a middle aged gentleman,
escorts her into the restaurant sporting
a green Mohawk, so freshly cut as to
smell almost like a newly cut grass,
wearing a polka dotted bow tie
and a striped green and white shirt.
no one has shoes as cool as mine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheating at Scrabble

he doesn’t know how to spell very well
so she corrects his misspellings and
when he’s stuck, looks up words
in the Scrabble dictionary
so he can place a word, as long
it’s not too many points.
What she doesn’t tell him is that she
secretly browses for words
for herself, adding an “it”
to “pew” that she placed two
turns ago, and scoring triple
points on a cheat, landing over 300
points in one game, soundly beating
him by over 30 points.
Success is not so sweet when stolen
but sometimes confessions salve
the pain, revealed as such in late
poems such as this.

Photo of pewit courtesy of

Monday, March 15, 2010

Memories of a Full Moon

walking outside in the full moon
with a bird on my shoulder,
watching his silhouette climb against
this luminescent orb in deep winter,
settling into a dark tree branch,
his golden breast shimmering in
a frosty night, knowing that death
would soon overtake him, his small
corpse would fall to the earth
shattering into many small pieces,
feathers lofting skyward under the moon
just as my life would fall from its precarious
perch where only by the sheer will of
imagination had it been secured;
the cold breath of winter would take it
all away.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making a Pie with Maria Part I: Mixing the Dough

Maria called out the ingredients for
me to write down as she put them
into the food processor.
Her back was to me, her voice muffled;
I leaned over to see her peering into
the food processor, adding flour from what appeared
to be one of those “multiple of one-third” measuring
cups no one ever uses.
She crisply called out “two cups”.
Puzzled, I returned to the table and
dutifully wrote down two cups Hungarian
unbleached high altitude flour.
One half teaspoon salt was the next
ingredient she called out. Again, I
peaked around her to see that she had
poured salt into the palm of her hand;
we made her pour the salt into a measuring spoon
to prove her skill at measurement;
it was annoyingly accurate.
Eleven tablespoons of butter was easy
with the paper wrapper on the sticks that
we could all see.
The steel blades of the food processor
blended the flour, salt and butter together
until Maria pronounced the mix “just right”
by the “sound of it”, and only then slowly
poured in exactly ¼ cup of chilled water
she pulled from the freezer.
If we had any doubts about the imperfection
of Maria’s methods, they were quickly dispelled
as the crumbly mixture transformed into a
a perfect twirling cylinder of pie dough.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The postcard arrived on Thursday;
I remember the day because I had forgotten to
put out the garbage the day before,
which was Wednesday.
The mailman handed me the packet of
mail and smiled as he told me that it looked
like I had a postcard today.
It’s a remarkable day to have a postcard,
or anything written by the human hand, from a place
that you can picture in your mind, not
a nameless postal center in a Midwestern town
that offered a tax break to a distribution center,
or a piece of mail that has no return address.
The handwriting, so forcefully familiar, the
carefully formed letters describing
her perfectly typical day so many miles
from here in a place where clouds
dare to hover so tenaciously.
Two colors of ink, one bleeding into the
other and I imagine her tossing the pen
which gave up into the trash bin with
a dismissive snort; she tells me she has come
to appreciate my love of pens.
The other side of the card is a reproduction
of a gardener tending his seedlings, each
of them holding a small fountain pen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dad and Rusty

We scattered to the winds
when we saw him drive up;
two boys out the back gate on bikes,
two sisters disappeared into the
play house in the back yard.
No one was left in the living room
when he walked in for his visitation rights,
except the dog.
Rusty wagged his tail furiously
and jumped up to greet Father,
completely oblivious to the stern look
on his face, the disapproving look at
school bags strewn onto the furniture,
his muttering about the loose discipline
in this house, the lack of order,
the absence of his children who
should be there waiting for him.
Rusty wagged his tail regardless
of all that; many years later I heard
the pain in his voice as he described
how it felt that only Rusty was
happy to see him .

photo courtesy of

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Smell of Snow

sky smells grey and white,
my nostrils cold with smoke
and ice, mountains draped
in hovering clouds, hidden
leaves drooping in the weight
of snow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Smuggled Goods

i smuggled the goods into her house
wrapped in a towel so no one else
could see the steam still rising off
off its still warm crust or smell
the luscious aroma of just baked
bread. we have our secrets, the
passing back and forth of foods that
should be illegal, we hear our front
doors breathe in their next hit
of orgasmic pastries, a faint click as
the door closes again, and I hear
the gate swing open as she leaves
behind a slice of peach pie, still warm
and disappears into the night.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Swimming Pigs

Little One, so agile,
her undulating body propelling
her mouth so rapidly
towards downwardly drifting
fish food flakes;
they disappear into
her petite mouth
before Big Dumb Boy even
realizes that dinner has

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Being Catholic at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish

Priest at local
parish doesn’t approve
of two mothers in one family,
announcing the expulsion of
little girl from pre-school
for next year,
citing morality,
the teaching of the Church Leadership,
those ranks of old, grey-haired men
who list towards
Vatican in obedient

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shoes that Kick Ass

whenever I wear these shoes,
heavily scuffed Ariats for
walking, riding, kicking ass,
I think of you with your little
twiggy legs in high heels;
you wear them to look more
professional, taller, that is.
I know when you walk out
of your cozy office, you put on your
Ariat boots, stride purposefully
towards your goal and
kick ass.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fixing Your Glasses when You Can't See

The arm fell of my reading glasses;
I heard the ping of the screw falling
onto the table, but I could not see
it since my glasses fell off my nose.
I felt around on the table with my
hand, gently, until I found it.
For ten minutes, I searched in the
junk drawer for that tiny kit for fixing
glasses that I bought for this very occasion.
The box opened abruptly and the tiny
screwdriver and all the screws flew all
over the kitchen; I found the screwdriver
and I still had the original screw.
I remembered wondering what was wrong
with my mother when she squinted at stuff
when I was growing up; I found myself
doing the same thing, with similar results.
After valiant, but unsuccessful attempts at
repair, I used a paper clip to attach the
arm to the body of the glasses, stuck
them back on my nose.
Once I could see again, I gathered all
the little screws, reassembled the repair
kit and stashed it away for the next time,
knowing full well it would be as useful
next time as it was tonight.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventures with Goldfish III: Arnie

he’s just a feeder fish,
the shopkeeper said matter-of-factly,
if he dies, it’s probably not your fault.
he handed me the clear plastic bag
holding a big white goldfish
with orange spots.
name him Arnie, for
Arnold Schwarzenegger, S. said,
that way he’ll know he has to
be tough and not just keel over
for no good reason.
Arnie didn’t look so great for
the first hour or two, but is
looking better now.
Maybe he will be alive in
the morning.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dead as a Doornail II

this morning, there was
only one goldfish
swimming frantically
against the glass vying
for my attention.
Yet I didn’t see
a telltale floating goldfish, no one
tangled in the plastic plant
or sucked half way up the pump.
My trusty red spatula stirred
him from under the rock
and his poor little corpse
floated languidly
to the surface where he
moved in the circular current,
just as he did
a moment later when
he disappeared with a
single flush.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Big Man Dan

he’s an immovable object
that talks (at you); impenetrable
to externally generated sound
waves, generally known as speech.
he nods his slightly graying head
(presumably at you), his jowls
wagging as if scolding you for
wasting his time, for not having
done your assigned homework.
your attention is momentarily
diverted at how this massive
man is supported on such
a spindly office chair, or where
he finds a large enough suit
to cover his body and to house
his ego.