Monday, May 29, 2006

Breakfast Buffet Bananas

I had banana pancakes off the menu
luscious little nuggets of warm banana smoosh
    in a whole wheat pancake.

While two Jersey guys in power suits
analyzed the abilities of that fuckin’ Johnson
    to keep his end up.

While two Queens gals in knock-off Prada
went back to the buffet to stuff their purses
with boxed cereal and apples
and bananas still stitched up
    in their skins.

While the bald maitre d’ I will call Raoul
catered to me
and smiled at me
and the Czech waiter brought me
    extra bacon.

I loved the warm maple syrup,
the chewy whole wheatness
the warm smoosh,
but I couldn’t finish all the pancakes.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Special Sauce

the airport snack bar table bore coffee rings.
it rocked and bobbled like a dog’s head in the back window
of a Chevy.

she clung to it with her knees
lost her grip
kept losing her grip.

blink blink

hamburger no fries

automat movements
lift the burger
lower the burger

blink blink

no napkin
no straw
on her own

tears sliding down her cheeks
past her nose

blink blink

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Going Back

There was no time to gather up clothes or toys
There were never many of either anyway

when we left

Many times there was a pistol
Usually there were bruises
Often it was night
Once in a storm

It was chaos when we left
from the outside looking in
but we knew our cues

time to go

Right after the fists
just before the gunshots
during the screaming

then we left

Mostly to Tommie’s house
Sometimes to Sherry’s house
Once to Doris Sartain’s house
in a storm

after we left

Morning would come
Breakfast was had
Coffee was poured
Nothing was said
The ground would dry up
Daddy would show up

we'd go back

Cross my fingers
pray to God
plead to stay
come the day
we’d go back

There was no time to gather up joy or hope
There was never much of either anyway.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why I Nap Now

I’ve begun talking to you when you are not there.
In fact, this is just a continuation of the conversation we had
last night in my dreams.

You are so compassionate and careful with me.
You know my heart and value my soul.
I can’t tell you how much that means, how it makes me feel.

We ate some kind of fruit last night, you and I.
Sticky sweet fingers licked by one and then the other.

It was bright and sunny, but not hot. I like that.
Breezes blowing and my hair getting caught in my mouth
as I tried to eat.

We laughed and shook our heads at those who would not
see what you and I see.
How could they stand it? Don’t they feel the empty spots.

I do. I wake and you slip from my mind past my lashes.
There is too much room inside of me when you go.

I’ve finally started napping. I miss you so.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


    drought dry land
morning clouds tease the sky
    never share a drop

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Upside-down Poem #3 (No peeking!)

I am cheating on him.

He loves me without end,
and I am being unfaithful.

It happened Christmas Eve.
Ironically, I was shopping for a present for him.
        The perfect thing;
        something to show him how much I care for him;
        how much I appreciate what he feels for me, does for me.

He is faithful.

I feel terrible, but I feel wonderful.

She was there in the store,
where I was absolutely not looking for her.
But, her eyes
          her eyes
          my favorite shade of green.
Softest hair, scented like herbs.

Zelda. Her name is Zelda.
One look, I knew I was gone.

I brought her home.
I couldn’t do anything else.

My friends sniff at her.

He looks so hurt when she is close to him.

I’m am sorry, but have no regret.

How It Went When My Dog Got a Cat for Christmas



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In the Presence of Greatness

Sigmund Freud is on my wall.
I lie here on the couch in fading light and see him,
dark suit, watch chain,
head tilted slightly to his right,
head resting on his hand,
fingers splayed,
arm at ninety degree bend.

There is nothing unusual about a picture of Sigmund Freud,
except, if I turn on the light,
the picture will be Hydrangeas in a Vase.

So, with a man of such renown,
not wanting to waste opportunity,
I tell him things,
a one-sided therapy--
he never speaks,
just nods a little,
flexes his fingers,
raises an eyebrow,
or two.

Perfect analyst.
No disturbing questions.
No probing.
Just quiet listening,
allowing me my own breakthroughs.

Tomorrow, I hope to get the light just right,
because, if I squint, he looks like Ulysses S. Grant,
and I want to talk War and Politics.

Saturday, May 06, 2006












Broken Bones Black Eyes


Rape Enchiridion

Never let me know you are looking.
Don’t ask too much.
Be around, not too close.
If you see the inside of me, don’t mention it.
Don’t take notes.
If something appalling should fall out of my head,
don't pick it up.
Ignore the inconsistencies.
Speak clearly.
Don’t speak.
Look for the mist of breath between my words.
If I hold my breath, hold my breath.
Don’t trace the scars.
Sometimes I like to take off my clothes and look at my naked skin,
just checking.
The hairs on the back of my neck are kept clipped short, never shaved.
My dog stands guard over me as I sleep.
I will not talk about it.
I won’t shut up.
I have a foul mouth.
When I lick my lips, I am not tasting victory.

Friday, May 05, 2006

How to Impress Chicks

He wanted to be called Jazz,
because he thought it sounded cool.
Hell, he knew it did.

But everyone just called him Leonard,
not Lenny or Len or Leo.
The cool guys at school didn’t even call him ‘Nard,
although they did amongst themselves.
The cool guys didn’t speak to him at all.

He played Jazz at Granmother’s house.
On the old turntable
listening to Parker and Mingus and Powell.
On the radio
tuning in a distant NPR program
when he could pick it up.

Hunting through dusty junk stores
to find a Doc Cheatham recording.

He wanted to blow horn or play piano,
but he was no good.
But Jazz had rhythm.
But yes. He did.

He banged out the rhythms.

Since he was little, beat was in his head.
Chickens…peck…peck peck peck…peck.
Leaky faucets…drip drip…drip.
The old lawnmover…rooom, chugga, pop pop pop, chugga pop.
Mixing bowl…whap whap whap, sliiiiip, whap whap whap.

He never played his rhythms for anyone,
just the chickens,
‘cause they called him Jazz.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The tales he tells are not his,
but a rehashing of old stories from a hundred lifetimes ago.
He plucks them up and sucks them up and chews them well and
leaves them to digest, nourishing his creativity,
hoping to bring from them a fresh telling.

He smacks lines against the stone walls in a kind of verbal practice drill and
        sometimes they bounce back true and
    sometimes they flop on the floor and
        sometimes they zing around the space
    bouncing off stone and beams
        threatening the glass with their very clarity and diamond sharpness.

He mulls ideas and sleeps on them and
        jumps up excited and sits down dejected.
He chooses his words, picks them over,
        and he polishes them, always polishes them 'til they are shiny bright –
        or comfy worn –
                sometimes both.

And he weaves quite a tale
        and he delivers -
                eyes riveted on him,
                        words flicking from his tongue
                and snapping in the air
                        and landing a sometimes stinging

Or maybe soft phrases curling from his mouth to pad across the floor and circle 'round and 'round your ankles and beg to be let on your lap.

And there are the times when the tale is so true
it has a kind of aching sweetness,
                like the soft puffs of air from your just-born sleeping baby.
                They beg to be kept and saved for another day and cannot.
The life of them is of the moment and for the moment and in the moment and later we will wonder if we heard what we heard or just dreamed the words,
                or wished the words
                or they were whispered to us
by a Spirit that stood among us for a time.

Written for Gordon in celebration of 10 years of good storytelling.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Another Upside-down Poem

Somewhere you are.
Making love to some auslander mouth, probably.
Cruising, making port of call with every sailor in the Mediterranean.
Puta! coming for everyone but me.

My tongue probing for just the right French kiss.
Yearning for that certain something.
Wait, pretending not to.

I know things, lots of things,
But not the thing.
What does it take to get to you?

Making me feel less.
Size must matter.
I just can’t get it up for you.

When “Je ne sais quoi” Is the Term You Are Searching For