my pitiful heartache.
I looked up at the end to see
my reading had emptied the joint.
I’m through with this city.
Or it with me.
[A mirror cinquain, inspired by Yeah Write’s March poetry slam. I cheated a little by having three syllables on the first and last lines.]
We’re waiting and joking anxiously outside the famous pizzeria. A meekly smiling man shuffles through, extending an upturned hand to each. A woman averts her nose. My hand stays in my pocket. Before leaving he frowns in genuine despair over his shoulder.
We mixed it with coke and read aloud the only play we had with two copies. “Thrift, Horatio!” “To a nunnery, go!” We stumbled, spake, drew swords. Morning found retched scrambled eggs on my bedroom rug. No method in it but friendship.
Stepping out through the door of his house, which was swollen by the moisture and did not shut properly, casting off his shoes to thrust his feet in the uneven grass, which, dead and alive, was a chorus of mute tones, browns and reds and greens, casting off his sleepiness with a shudder as he stepped beneath and then out from beneath the newly leafed deciduous trees into the sunshine, casting off his shirt, casting off his boredom, turning, arms outspread breathing in, out, casting off his ambitions, casting off his intelligence, casting off death, casting off his ideas like the clothing he cast off until he was nude, falling in faith and not knowing that he had ever fallen before like that on his back in the grass, casting off his language and his memory and his poetry, he was as mutely eloquent as a lion basking and blinking in the mid-day sun.
[Stepping Out appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #11]
As Dr. Baskin strapped me in, her face was twisted uncharacteristically, but I couldn’t tell what emotion it conveyed. Was she holding back tears or just concentrating on getting the tension right? When she was done she paused, which in itself was strange in the midst of the efficient, hyper-kinetic whirlwind of preparations that were underway. A smile flickered across her face. “Little monkey,” she breathed, before looking at her watch and turning away suddenly as if sucked back into the machinery of launch preparation. Continue reading Little Monkey
I’ll be sitting on a park bench, looking like a picture, a little old man with a little fuzzy hat. I’ll put my elbows on the back of the bench and tilt my head into the sun, like I used to, but my eyes will be rheumy and start to water, and my right hand will twitch as if the sharp edge of the bench is pinching a nerve. I won’t be too disappointed to notice my frailty. Of course not, because I will have become used to it, and years earlier, decades earlier, will have seen it coming. So I will shake the twitch out of my hand, take an only slightly damp handkerchief from my inside jacket pocket, and wipe my eyes. I will lean my head back again, and this time my eyes will remain dry for several minutes of close-lidded, red-drenched, sun-warmed pleasure. Continue reading My Old Hands
After dinner today my daughter remarked about how much alcohol I drink. “No offence,” she said. This elicited from me a dissertation on the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, which transitioned into a history of fermented beverages, upon which civilization as we know it depends. She immediately saw this as the elaborate rationalization it was. Man, I miss the days when my kids were easy to bullshit.
I’m not one of those that come in a string-of-pearls line from a magical pinpoint at the bottom of an aluminum can or iced glass. I made it all the way to the stomach, and that’s where the real adventure is. Continue reading The Life of a Soda Bubble
The difficulty in life is not getting what you want but knowing what you want. So crouch down to yourself as if to a dying man and place your ear to your mouth–an impossibility but a necessity, and what is a necessity must necessarily become possible–and listen to your body’s faintly murmured wishes, a glass of water, a lover, an occupation, a green salad, and deny yourself nothing as long as it is murmured honestly in need. Beware the body’s constant wheedling requests for a knife to slice its own throat because it does not want to die. Not really. At least it will never really make up its mind on that point. Tell it to ask for something else.
For a while, we did everything together. We slept late on a Saturday morning. Just at ten o’clock, the morning sun rose above the neighboring apartment building and slid blades of light through the venetian blinds. The blades of light cut across the bellies and arms of our naked bodies, letting us know that early morning was long gone, and midmorning had begun its progress. That’s when one of us got up to start the coffee. The other rolled on their side and propped their chin on their hand, and only when the first returned to announce that the coffee was percolating did they look at the ceiling, smile, and roll out of bed. We turned the news on and ate breakfast at a leisurely pace. Our movements were completely familiar to each other, along with the sounds we made. If one of us happened to belch, the other sometimes forgot and said, “Excuse me.” The one who had belched laughed. We rolled back on the bed to caress our bodies and watch the sunblades sharpen themselves into oblivion. Continue reading We