Poetry & Prose

 

The Christmas Tree

When I was eight years old, I watched my little brother Tommy, who was five at the time, unscrew a light from our Christmas tree and nearly electrocute himself. He suffered severe burns to his hands and I still remember his screams. Our family Doctor came to our house, and with my Mother at his side, cleaned and dressed poor Tommy’s hand. Then he gave all of the children lollipops and left.

 

I was given a yellow lollipop. I can still see it, with its white stick trapped alongside air bubbles in the candy.  The candy was a way to distract us from our shock, to calm us down, and to make us feel better. Mom even got one. I remember her sitting on the piano bench, eyes lowered, and eating her candy.

 

Morning becomes Romex

Clip the cable, strip back the shield

Plier the wires until they yield

Cap the positive, neutral to same

Go to ground is your endgame   

 

Make it yours…

Running through a field all empty and vast

Sixteen and never tired.

Just waiting for the impossible

perfect moment, God make it last!

 

Adelie

Slow, quiet, sweet, different.

Rarely said a word in an un-peaceable kingdom

A provocation to the vicious,

A gift to the hyenas

whose apology can never be accepted

 

Fugue state…

Recently I visited  Fabio’s Hair Salon in Caledonia where I spent $500.00 plus tip for the “new look” displayed in the picture above. It involved much snipping and combing executed by Fabio while a very loud mix tape of  Bette Midler played in the background. Fabio decided on a “cinematic treatment”, one in which I had no say per our signed agreement.

He proceeded to create a magnificent silvery wave of hair,  cresting at the brow line, and breaking on the beach of my forehead far below.  At this point, Fabio brought in “Ugo” of Ugo’s Tattoo and Vape Shop next door, who designed and executed a “tat” of  Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, supine, in their famed lover’s clinch in “From Here To Eternity”. This was placed just below the above-mentioned wave.  

My hair  looked great at first, though my forehead  hurt like hell. Unfortunately, a week later, my hair returned to looking as if I had cut it myself. And I had the feeling that people, strangers even, were looking at me oddly. So I went back to the Salon and……………..it had vanished!  In its place, there was, what looked to be, a long abandoned dog grooming business. In the window there were old Milkbone ads from the fifties and a dusty urn with the name “Puddles” on it. A local policeman appeared out of the corner of my eye. I asked him  where Fabio’s had gone. After removing his hand from his service revolver, he said there was no such business and that there had never been one!

A wave  of nausea, (not unlike the wave in my now bad haircut),  flooded over me. Inwardly I quaked. Outwardly I shook. After spending some time in the officer’s  squad car, with me in the back seat, he offered to drive me home. After trying three houses, a very nice person named Ann let me in. I sat at her kitchen table nodding my head, basically agreeing with everything she said. She seemed like a very nice person and I think she liked me. I tried to figure out how I could break the news that, coincidentally,  I was married to another very nice woman named Ann too. She turned and said to me, “Do you mean the one who ran off with that Fabio?

Precious love…  

How thunderstruck you looked in your graduation dress

A child of Catholic justice posed at the head of the driveway

Eyes lowered, what an insult to your godliness

the downspout framing your youth.

What I would give to have taken that picture

Then taken the film to be taken to waiting…

Joe

Face bloodied by my Dad’s fist

My brother Joe sat laughing, very calm

The bigger hit came later

Forgiving everyone but himself

And sopping up pain like water on sand

As my parents disappeared in the mist

Willa S.

First time

Then space. To think about what happened

The absolute surprise of perfect skin and cigarette breath

Unrepeatable in the Universe!

Just me…

I like poems…as long as they are short.

Like commercials; 15 or 30 seconds, head to tail

Selling things that can’t be bought

And seeking things that can’t be sought

On-Off

Modem modem on the wall

Baudy buddy heed my call,

And bit by bit my thoughts, though small,

Keyboard through your firewall…

Word Play

Jump, throw, catch, run

Leap, prance, twirl, fun!

Until you grow and put away

All that comes of words and play

End of time

About a year had passed since I last saw her

Which was after she let me go,

A year of misery and the hole in my heart had not closed.

Then one afternoon

She called and invited me over

to the mess of her apartment.

Where we sat and talked until very late became very early.

I was cold sitting there. It was early fall and her windows were open

I remember shivering and trembling as the hours passed

Trying to keep the cold, fear, and thrill hidden.

There was no heat in her apartment

Just her heat, like radiation decaying

Warming just one side and not the other

Finally, she asked me to stay with her…

And that was my life, that night.

And for two or three more nights she lingered

…Then goodbye again, another pink slip

NO! My farewell speech followed,

Nixonian in cast, (this was 1974!),  

I think she cried a little

Though no doubt relieved when the door closed behind me.

Then two years at least of foundering in the lowlands of hell

Lurching fro and fro from ditch to ditch

Emerging changed but wrong

Don’t!

Unholy and unwelcome

Cystoscopy be damned!

Please end the plague of the rubber-gloved hand!

Damn all thy practitioners!

and all thy adherents!

thou strikers and jabbers!

thou grabbers and stabbers!

Twas ne’er greater torture in all the land

than this one that targets my sexual gland!

Hear my supplication

“both cease and desist”!

and find another way to determine that cyst!

and  i will kiss the first researcher and call her a Venus

if her toil and research can spare my poor penis!

Cloud poem

If it so happens, this poem will flow

from me like ink from my yellow fountain pen

onto  paper fresh and waiting for words.

a drip and a bobble here and there

that left unsmudged adds something real

to the proceedings…

Typed Into the computer tomorrow morning

edited and made for better or worse

then off and up to a corporate cloud

mingling with commerce and apps of all sorts

A heaven for us of bits and bytes

That float around me everywhere.

Quis absolvum tuum

Late fall in my early twenties

walking with a shotgun in a farm field nearby

Freshly plowed under, each furrow a climb

the smell of the earth, the cool turning cold

fingers on the blue barrel unfired that day

Then seeing a cardinal, male and so red

catching my eye amidst yellows and browns

and the yellow blue sky behind it

dulling the red slightly, but still amazing

Taking off the safety, not aiming just pointing

I’ll make it  a coin toss for the young red male

Now on a branch, red against blue

now like the sun in a spotlight

I pointed  in the general direction

Vaguely, no intent to kill,

wondering what what would happen

if I pulled the trigger.

Goodnight Prayer

Sleep,  pray to God tonight!

Please take me down under,

beneath the volcanoes

to the opposite equator,

then beat outward towards the poles,

…then to Las Vegas but with no sound

just a ball in a roulette wheel

circling slowly, opposite wakefulness

clicking past the numbers back to zero

the clicking fading in my ears

No stops along the way

and leaving all passengers behind,

giving way to water swirling faster and faster,

bottoming.

Until sweet nothing, non-anything, dreamless, weightless

I make my way to the time before existence

And if I make it that far, let me stay the night complete

and I promise I’ll fall back,  and up to sunrise.

Poem for two old friends…

(facts, places, and scenarios are half true, half made-up, half wrong, half right, etc.)

Two high school girls one older, one younger

two soulmate friends, both beautiful stunners

two dollars to spend for a bus for uptown  

to spend days together on Ontario beach sound

For they were best friends to the other’s true mind

four times at the most would they would argue, but find

fore and aft reasons to come to the commons

forswearing  their struggles like two hindu girl brahmans

Ate lunch most days, chicken barbecue kept cold

ate sliced tomatoes their papas had growed

ate their ice cream they bought from a stand

eight times eight times wiped their face with their hands

Six o clock comes and they take their last walk

six o clock now is their time not to talk

six bits plus two of picked up beach treasures

six o clock treasures to mark the day’s measure

six soulful thoughts from themselves to the other

six thoughts into feelings of two friends for the other.

Raw power!

(for brother Tom)

In the pool carefully watching my prey

Carefully plotting, then swiftly away!

Push off from the pool side i stealthily launch

I aim for the body, but settle for haunch

Hundreds of times my brother I stalked

He suffered raw power yet never once balked.

The water would foam like a chum line in churn

My brother would thrash but never would learn

That Raw Power is higher than any high power

by the time you see it, it’s your last, final hour.

Ship’s hold

We moved a year and a half ago

Packed up and boxed the things of our house

Long days back and forth from old place to new

moving our things how many times now?

five or six and, and each time

less to pick up and more to leave behind –

though always the surge of adventure ahead

when starting fresh on a new chapter

Letting go of some things but always carrying our past with us

The old photos, yearbooks, and awards are tucked away

and cared for as on previous moves

Pristine like relics in amber boxes

But not opened and looked at since…forever

Now in the crawlspace this afternoon

shifting from box to box looking for an odds and end

and then lying on the cold slab going through boxes

and finding photos , some never seen,

or only forgotten, but still there!

A record, a tally, of our life in shoeboxes

and spiral albums…

Now in the crawlspace, or like in times past

below deck on a ship

moving to the new world.

A more perfect union…

A kiss is really something when you think about it:

(not the perfunctory or familial ones)

(and not the pecks or the ones that are blown),

But the ones that start like waves at the beach

coming in slowly sometimes,

sometimes crashing and flung together

a taste of salt and the smell so close,

of the ocean and sun seen through closed eyes

and by  taste, senselessly surpassing itself

seeking the only real nourishment from here to eternity,

spark to flame then quenched by a wave pulled away in the tide.

False Somnambulance

I hope they never make the mistake

of closing the lid on my coldish pate

and mistaking a deathlike lethargy

for a month long binge of network TV

For I would prefer above ground or aerial

to the short- jolting ride down to a premature burial!

Look on the bright side!

I’m going to the morgue today

to be put, I believe, on layaway.

The ride, I must say, is very posh

by body-bag-man and driver Josh.

I wish I could thank him for his respectful bearing

and for understanding my rather impolite staring

But I’m happy as I can possibly be

and look forward to making new friends at the cemetery!

Standing in a cornfield…

Pale yellow light

warming the fading snow at half past four.

Turning greenish as it moves further west

until the day’s blue sky is replaced

The trees, long stripped clean,  lean back

resting upon the sky

preparing for night as the deer begin to move

their branches and twigs

form a mesh more confounding than endless snowflakes

Rosie walks before me nosing the corn stubble poking from the drifts

the sonar of a mouse below pings, then grows silent

She looks up at me head cocked,  ear half flopped:

“you’re no help?”,  like I’m responsible!

I look back up, and like that,  the afternoon has dimmed and drooped lower.

Then, the splinters of the dry brown treeline struck by the last sun of the day,

ignite into flickering candles.

Just enough time for a wish,  then…sundown.

We start our walk home,  just as the snow begins again.  

Huge flakes this time,  twirling and moving side to side

barely falling – like undecided balloons.

I watch them descend,  holding my breath

and hoping they won’t be swallowed up in the already fallen snow.

Still there, still there…gone,  like dutiful soldiers.

They seem to slow the earth’s turning

Their short lives meld, now underfoot,  into my own existence.

I let my wrist stop a few flakes,

Something that toll booth workers experience with each transaction

snow landing on an outstretched hand, dutiful to the end.

A game now finished…

Rosie and I still take our walks

near the cemetary’s treeline and withered corn stalks.

I still look to check that she hasn’t strayed far.

I still look to check there’s no dangerous cars

I still love to check if she’s located me

now hiding behind my favorite old tree.

And when she deduces that she’s been left

she’s not the only one who feels bereft

though fun for me I feel that pang

of the worry she feels when she’s lost her gang.

Suddenly it’s serious! I must be found!

She looks, not her strong point, then nose to the ground

She starts a grid search, about nine by nine;

at the same pay grade as  SWAT team canine!

Her feet moving quickly, short steps to the beat

I am barely suppressing  a chuckle-burst bleat!

Back and forth in that square

sniffing  for and about

she’s done this before

so she’s never in doubt.

I keep carefully peeking

but nose down she can’t see

as her  choo-choo train sniffer

keeps  closing on me

Then sadly I start as gust of wind blows,

I waken again sadly to my walks without Rose

Yes, hide and seek was fun – as fun can ever be…

But she’s gone so I keep walking past my hide-and-seek tree.