Friday, June 24, 2016

To-Do Stack, 9 a.m.

Proof and send out
that schmuck’s report

this bill is “past due”

there’s a penalty for
late registration

your anniversary
is the 29th

I need to update
the website

did you check Sarah’s
homework?

make sure you sign
the vacation requests

you’re three weeks behind
in your Bible reading

what do I have
coming in next
from Amazon?

call and make sure
the doctor renewed
your blood pressure
prescription

think of some clever
remarks that will appear
off the cuff when making
that presentation
to the faculty

check on Ma
and let her know
Danny and Elise
got to Germany
safely

re-check the poetry site
and try to remember
what the hell was
the prompt for today.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Settlement

Out here in
this frozen,
virgin terrain,

I stand shivering
with a canvas bag
filled with food
I never saw before.

I can’t remember how I got here,
or when I acquired
this throbbing bump
on the crown of my head.

I don’t even have a map
to show me where
my settlement ends
and the next one begins.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Why Must I Say "I Believe"?

Before taking the plunge
I asked,

“Why must I say
I believe in Jesus’?

Why can’t I just do
what He said
and try my best
not to sin?”

The chorus
bleated back:

“You can only be justified
by faith alone –
there is no amount of works
you can do to earn it.”

I counter:

“Right,
but isn’t
deciding
to follow Jesus
an act in itself,
a work on its own?

So, then,
will I receive
the free gift
of God's salvation
only when
I do something,
like believe?"

A long, presumably thoughtful pause:
“No, believing’s not a work.”

I remain unconvinced.

If the omnipotent,
omniscient,
Om-everything
Lord and Master of all
will save me if,
and only if,
I acquiesce
and give a confession
of my faith,
then,
where the hell
is the grace
in that?

No,
children,
here’s the Good News:

God loves you
no matter what,
and wants to be
re-unified with you,
and God can wait
longer than anyone
on this miserable and finite
planet can fathom
to celebrate your return.

So,
rather than
give pious rehearsed speeches
about the necessity of
professing one’s faith,

remind them
that God loves them,
and that any
good work you’re doing
is to honor Him,
and to not
to earn Heaven,

and then,
by God,

be Christ-like
and do the good works
already.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I Am Not Writing to the Prompt

Robert says
he plans these prompts
a month in advance.

He’s kidding, right?

I thought he just
made them up on the spot,

just like he expects all of us
to jump and write to the prompt
just because he says:

“Today’s prompt is
‘write a poem about water ’
or ‘being in the middle’
or ‘write a goodbye to your childhood poem.’”

I’m sick and tired of acting
like a programmed monkey
every time
the prompt comes out,

and I’m also sick of
checking the website to see
if anyone commented on
what I wrote
and finding
I'm still invisible.

Fine,

but I’ve had enough of this
“creating art
with a gun to my head”
ethos.

So,
I am not writing to the
prompt.

Is that clear enough?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Next Steps (for Anita, circa 2010)

I can’t even remember
what brought it on,
except that we were both dying
in other relationships
and it all seemed so futile
and so overwhelming.

Then I leaned in
and kissed her,
took her hand
and placed it on
her heart and said
“This is to remind you
that you’re still alive.”

Ostensibly,
I was saying that
to her.

The next steps were
long and often
torturous,
but we finally came through
together

and now,
after I cap off this poem
we’ll celebrate the
eighth anniversary
of our wedding.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This Task Should Get Easier (Video Included)

Every year
the task should
get easier –
one less
Father’s Day card
to buy.

Years ago,
I stopped torturing
myself by reading
all the cards
I’d never get
to send.

Time has softened
the sting
of his departure,
leaving a hollow,
dull thud.

These days,
I play his part,
on this darkened stage
after midnight,
when everyone
is sleeping,
and I check all
of the doors
and the windows,
just like he did,

and I talk to him,
still trying
to earn his favor,
still trying
to make him laugh.

Every year
the task
should
get easier,

but it doesn’t.

video
Pop Moskowitz, offering marriage advice, February 1994. Yes, he was that adorable.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Baby, I'm a Star! Plus Rare Moskowitz Pix!

I've been featured at Poets United this week!  If you are curious about el Mosk (that's me), go to

http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2016/06/blog-of-week-update-with-buddah.html

As an added bonus, I included some pictures from my life. Ooh.

Thanks, Sherry!

Poetry Template

First,
start with the title:
it must be
directly related
to the content
of the Poem -
or not.

Then begin the Poem
with a phrase
of tempting ambiguity,
a detail so compelling
that the reader
will follow you
as you pull back
to reveal its unexpected
milieu.

Continue by making
an arcane allusion
to a 17th century English essayist
or by adding a sly reference
to one of the
lesser known Beats
(nothing from Ginsberg,
Kerouac, Burroughs or
Bukowski, please) -
this will establish
your lit cred
among the cognoscenti.

Include densely worded
passages, overstuffed with
arbitrary and completely insular
imagery
to buttress your emerging status
as a solitary, enigmatic genius.

Bring it on home
with an unexpected punchline
that either disorients
or brings a cynical smirk
to the morally ambiguous,
postmodern reader.

Send it out to the same
twelve friends
who always read your work
and always love it.

Repeat as necessary.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

We started on
November 21 1987,
I was the kind of person
who didn't want surprises,

so I told her in 1990
"after we'd dated three years,
I'm gonna propose
on our fifth anniversary,
so please be sure."

She nodded and continued
the courtship.

On our fourth year of dating
in 1991
I said "I mean it,
I'm going to ask you to get married
a year from today,
so if you don't want to marry me,
you need let me know."

She nodded
and we continued the dance.

True to my word
I gave her the engagement ring
on the fifth year,
in 1992
she said yes

and we spent the next year
planning the start
of our lives together.

We were married
the day before Valentine's Day
1994.

I remember finally feeling
safe
my long search was over,
and I had somehow
beaten the odds.

Then came the
hushed phone calls
the late nights at work,
I even busted her
after their furtive trip
to Costco when I inquired
"where’s the other half
of this lettuce four-pack?"

Two months into my marriage
and she was with someone
who wanted to give her children
and made twice as much
money as I did

and I finally understood
that quote about
the best-laid plans
of mice and men.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Next Logical Step (For Anita)

What really happened
is I decided that I didn’t have to be
the comic relief in my own life anymore.

I didn’t have to be the
good-natured, lovable
schlemiel that never caught
the brass ring.

I decided I didn’t have to be
Rhoda Morgenstern anymore.

I could be Mary Richards
and I deserved to be happy.

From there
the next logical step was
to marry
the woman of my dreams.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

My Hard and Dark Bittersweet Soul

She unwraps me
and imagines a new lover.

My hard and dark
bittersweet soul
was designed
to tease and savor.

She breathes in
my heady scent
and remembers
her first time,
and she is
transported again
and again and again
to my narcotic netherworld.

Seeing no one around,
she teases me,
gliding me over
her pink pillow lips,
my soft edges tickling her
and eliciting
a conspiratorial smile.

I bask in her worship
and glow in her love.

Her fingertips are warm
and I begin softly melting
from the desire
coursing through her.

She places me
on her tongue,
so warm and slippery
and I brace myself
for the slow steady force
of her bite.

The pressure is divine
and with one snap,
I am broken
and swimming ecstatically
in her mouth.

I giggle helplessly
as she rolls me,
left then right
then presses me up
against her palate,

and I am singing to her
an unrestrained Yes!

She gently tosses
her head back
and I begin
the long
lovely
descent down
her waiting
alabaster throat,

and she feels me
rushing and tingling
through her whole being.

With another bite
I happily and
shamelessly surrender
crying breathlessly,

yes! take me!
consume me!
give me my reason!

and suddenly,
my chocolate wrapper
lies empty
and discarded,

but I am
complete,

for I have been united
with my beloved.

[Posted for D'Verse Poets - come along and play!]

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Moment

For the moment
it’s a clear sky –
so blue it almost hurts

and I spring-step
across the parking lot
with enough money in my pocket
to buy the milk and eggs.

There is curly breath
in my lungs and it’s forcing
this smile to peek out.

The girl scouts smile back
and ask if I want to buy some cookies,
but I shake my head
still smiling
at their determination,
their perfect innocence.

For the moment
it’s almost too much
to for me to gather
and pull into my embrace

until I stop

and ruin the moment
by trying to figure out
how to make it last
longer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Customization Nation

An app for this,
an app for that,
thousands of them,
mostly free.

Make your own ringtone,
personalized wallpaper
and
wrap it up in its own
protective plastic skin
designed from
your own uploaded
jpeg.

Customize your phone
so it’s no longer
the ubiquitous
tool of
instant
human connection.

Change it
from the window
that could remedy
the disconnected multitudes

into the mirror
that reflects
you you you
and bask in
its hi-tech
narcissistic glory,

as we create
a whole new nation
of disconnected
multitudes

one subscriber at a time.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Advice to The Artistically-Inclined

Don’t be so full of yourself.

Your competition
is everywhere,
mostly toiling
in anonymity,

and I saw
the greatest proof
of that at Don Jose’s
on karaoke night.

Across the way
we spied
a young single mother,
baggy eyed,
arms flailing,
orchestrating
her 3 kids’ meal,
as she was handed the mic
and tore a soulful,
defiant hole
in Alicia Keys’
“If I Ain’t Got You”
making it her own.

It was madness.

There but for
familial responsibility
was the greatest singer
in the world,

or was it her lot
in life that gave
her voice
The Truth?

So, Pampered Artist,
don’t be so full of yourself.

Chances are
the laundress
cleaning out
your shit stained shorts,
the plumber
snaking your porcelain throne,
the gardener
leaf-blowing away your debris,

each have
the same talent
but more heart
than you’ll
ever know or see.

Thank your lucky stars.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

It's a Small World After All

The war machine presses on
seemingly without a cause or vote,

the water in our shared ocean
is testing positive for radiation,

a young adult woman lures
an 11 year-old girl
into a public park bathroom
where she is gang raped
by seven underage gangbangers,

and all I can be
is thankful

because my 14 year-old
is being released
from the hospital

where she has been
on suicide watch for
the past week.

Yes,
it’s a small
brutal
world
after all,

and often the victories
are even smaller,

but
I’ll take them
wherever I find them.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

My Overrated Organ

I was told very early on
that mine was different -
not necessarily bigger -
but that it could do
special tricks,
it was a gift.

Most days
from the moment I wake,
it is ceaseless,
searching and seeking
for solutions that never satisfy,
never quench.

Nudging, prodding me
into new fire pits,
never knowing peace
or succor.

They never
just come in and sit
each represents a challenge
and is thrown upon the heap
of things to be conquered

or discarded as inconsequential
rubbish.

My overrated organ says
it’s never enough.

There’s so much
simple daisy beauty
in this world
I miss while tending
my overrated organ.

If it appears
narcissistic,
I understand.

You just don’t see
and the insecure hand
and the whip held therein
rarely resting to
let the slightest comfort
slip by

in those rare moments
when the beatings stop.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Etta James Sings

“I was losing
the man that I love
and all I could do was cry.”

She’s practically bleeding it
as it reaches across
the decades
through the speaker
piercing my heart.

Glancing over
at my bride who has
been playing Bejeweled
on Facebook for the
past hour,
I see her eyes moisten
too.

I didn’t use to cry
before we met
and now it happens
with the certainty
of gravity.

Once I finally felt
it
deep, deep inside
my cavernous soul,
nothing was ever the same

especially music.

The tears are
two-sided:

sorrowful
remembering the silent gray days
before she came along

and elated
that she finally did.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Red Exit Door

I am lost
in a market place
and I am the only one
who looks human,
everyone else is humanoid.

Someone-in-charge
mutters something
and I am taken away
to a stone cell.

No English spoken
and I can’t read this situation
or remember how
I got here.

Hours pass.

I am in a crowd
and we are whipped
worse than chattel
or Auschwitz Jews.

They all seem to know
something I don’t
and they all seem to
belong.

I panic and am lost
in a world where
I cannot find the
red exit door.

Walking through
a dark and humid tunnel
I hear screams,
desperate and frantic.

I look down and see
I am walking on tightrope
over a snake pit
littered with
half-eaten corpses.

I shift and lose my balance
and my heart erupts,
I scream out

which awakens Anita
who tells me

“you were having
a bad dream.”

I exhale
thankfulness,
I am found.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

That Natural Tumbling

You don't have to
suck it 'til it pops,

or keep on pumping it
like you're performing
CPR on a crash victim.

All those
black lace outfits are nice,
but you know
they'll be torn off
in less than a
minute,

and I love the candles
but don't light them
if it will
break the momentum,

that natural tumbling,

when everything
feels right
and I allow my pulse
to beat
crazy-mad
and the breaths not stolen
are quick
and uncontrollable.

Let me forget where I am,
just let me know
that I am

and that you are
here too.

Don't think about
all the celluloid fantasies
or that article in Cosmo,
any aberrant cellulite
or how you think
I might think
you smell,

just lose everything
and kiss me

kiss me

kiss me.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Life On a Streetcar

What matters most
is that I slow down enough
to drink in the
swirl of clouds
against the fading pink
and orange horizon,

but I will not linger there
too long,
for life
and all its demands
speeds by
like a cable car,

so I’ll pick up the pace
run alongside,
and hop on,
letting the breeze
wash over my smiling cheeks,

as the streetcar
randomly picks up some
and lets off others,

setting the stage
for the next
marvelous,
breathtaking
surprise

to rouse me
from my
quietly
grateful

reverie.

Monday, May 30, 2016

"It Ain't Easy Being Everyone's Raison D'Etre"

"You just can’t understand
the pressure,
the expectation,

everyone claiming you
wanting a piece of you.

The Jews claim me
as one of theirs own
but you know how
that all ended up.

The Christians
think they’re all doing things
in my name.

The Muslims call me
a prophet
but still
subordinate me.

The Buddhists
draw parallels
and come closer than most,

and the atheists love me
because they find
their strongest arguments
in my weakest followers.

I’m tired of being everyone’s
raison d’etre,

it’s lonely
being the leader of it all.

It's always
“here’s a beautiful rose
I grew for you”

“listen to this song
you story inspired”

“thank you for saving
my soul.”

I’m tired of it all.

Can’t they all
just get over themselves
and their crippling insecurity
long enough
to just sit by my side
and keep me company,

just like any other friend
would do?"

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Confetti

Hundreds of poetry websites,
thousands of poets,
millions of poems.

I send up mine
and hope it will not be lost
in the cyber-abyss,
but I know better.

My smoke sculpture soul
and precious imagery
are superfluous and temporal,

as inconsequential
as the confetti
trampled and left for dead,

in Times Square
on New Year’s Day
at 6:07 a.m.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Balance and the Slip

The difference between
the balance and the slip
is microscopic.

Remembering the rules
and honoring the impulse
are flipsides of each other.

Id and superego
fight me for
the pride of
ownership,

as I struggle
daily,
hourly
and sometimes
between
this thought
and
this one.

And that’s only me
and you’re no different,
and if we multiply these
infinitesimal decisions
by 300 million,
under the right circumstances,

rioting occurs,
futures vanish,
innocence, raped
and God, forgotten.

The balance and the slip
is not a 50-50 proposition:

with sin and gravity
as our natural defaults,

nobility and decency
become statistical anomalies.

Friday, May 27, 2016

CSI: Golgotha

Fully human
and fully divine:

the hallmark of humanity
is sinful
imperfection
and yet
you had none.

I wonder
how you managed
to steer clear
of everything
but the bull’s eye.

I reconstruct
your ignoble demise
like a forensic scientist
searching for something
to connect me
over the centuries
to you,

something that would
betray
your humanity.

As you hung there
dying
and they mocked you,
you petitioned the father
for a pardon
on their behalf.

I keep rooting around
for even the slightest whiff
of rotten humanity
and I still
come up empty.

I know you were sinless.
I know you were perfect.
I’m a believer.

I just want to know
how you did it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Gray Orgasm

Sweaty,
chest still heaving for air,
our blood-rushed skin
warm and damp,
the natural, eternal
narcotic coursing through
our bodies,
her gentle snore
confirming
what I usually only sense,

a thought niggles
just as I drift into
blissful unconsciousness,
too late to shoo away:

what if that was
the last time?

[Composed for Fireblossom's Fridays at the Real Toads' Lilypad .]

A Fireman in Hell

“Didn’t you
used to write poetry?

I mean,
it wasn’t very good
but still you cranked them out
like pretentious sausages.

What happened?

Now, you look like
a confused fog,
trying to keep smoldering
embers from sparking
into wildfires.

Your sleep isn’t restful.
Your worship isn’t comforting.
Your sunshine is gray.

You’re too old
to flail about
with your
angry feathers blazing
trying to rouse the world
from its sleep.

Now you’re just
a sputtering
impotent
leftover,
marinated
in his own
flop sweat.”

Yeah, I used to write poetry.

Now,
I’m a fireman
assigned to
the hottest borough
of Hell

and when
I’m off the clock
I pace in
counterclockwise circles
around my kitchen table
in a vain attempt
to turn back time.

I pace
inside my house,
with lights out
and shades down,
because it would
scare the community
to see their fireman
crying
in the street.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

...Or Was He Pushed?

“Higher”
came the command,
calm and firm
to an unseen pilot.

Then the voice asked
“so, what else?”

Crouching by the hatch,
I looked out
the window
and saw the world I knew
get smaller and smaller
as the plane
kept at its creaky ascent.

I pondered his question
as he quickly slid
the hatch open
and I lost my balance,
instinctively grabbing
the door frame.

The strength of the vacuum
threatened to take me
but I regained footing
and looked out to see
everything
from a fresh perspective.

I barely spoke
but he heard it:
“I just don’t want
to look stupid.”

“You won’t look stupid.”

I almost jumped
but caught myself
for one last assurance:

“You wouldn’t trick me,
would you?”

This surprised him
and he smiled:

“No, I wouldn’t trick you.”

Turning to the hatch
I decided to loosen my grip
on the door frame

then the plane lurched.

I quietly decided
to stop fighting it

and I was free

falling and
heart pounding alive.

I resisted the temptation
to pull the rip cord
to release the parachute.

I just surrendered everything
and enjoyed
the view.

My thankfulness
overcame me

and I was overjoyed
to realize
I stopped falling

and started flying

and by the grace of Christ
I haven’t landed yet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Skid Marks on the Highway

My compulsion
as I drive on the highway
is watching
the black skid marks
on the road ahead of me.

I fight the absent-minded
impulse
to follow their aberrant
trajectory.

Hypnotized,
my eyes follow
their smooth arcs
and abrupt sooty ends,
and I wonder
what was the driver thinking
just before
it
happened.

Some trail
off the road
in tight,
unpredictable curves,
while others
fade gracefully
suggesting
a narrow escape,

and others still
lead
nihilistically,
willfully
into the cement
guard rails.

Scared back
into the moment
I intentionally
loosen my grip,

as I keep my eyes
fixed straight ahead

ignoring
all the wrong moves
I have been
fortunate thus far
not to make.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pray Strategically

Lord,
I ask that you take away
my daughter’s pain,
but I realize
if you do that
then the doctors, nurses,
insurance adjusters and
pharmacists might be
negatively affected
so I won’t ask for that.

Lord,
please help my mother
in her elderly loneliness,
even though
if she were healed
then she wouldn’t buy
so many unnecessary things
from the Home Shopping channel
and perhaps that would make
all the vendors, shippers,
and Federal express workers
unnecessary too,
so I won’t ask for that.

Lord,
I ask that you find homes
for all these homeless,
help them find their
place in this world,
but if I do,
it might displace
the social services industry
and throw their lives into
chaos,
so I won’t ask for that.

Lord,
would you help
the little children born
with AIDS and cancer
and give them a future
even though
it could completely
upend the charities
designed to help them
and create more
unintended consequences?

Can I ask for that?
Can I ask for anything?

Lord,
can you teach me
how to pray strategically,
so that my requests
are big enough
to make a difference,
yet are small enough
to keep the unintended
collateral damage
to a minimum?

Until then
I will pray
as I always have,

with thankful
ambiguity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reaching For the Pull

I approach the door
cautiously,
my footsteps
heavy and slow.

I am deliberately
making this choice,
and I accept
whatever consequences
await me.

Things will never
be the same
when I cross
that threshold,
but I must do this.

Nothing’s going
to bring back
my father,
and I’ve been in pain
so long,
I’ve gone numb.

Whatever I find
in the coming steps
will determine
my path
from here
into eternity.

Reaching
for the pull,
a fleeting thought
nags:

Am I arriving
or am I leaving?

[Written for Dverse Poets - write about a door; photo used by permission by Lillian Hallberg.]

Thursday, May 05, 2016

How I Became a Human Being

I cry easily now
and I wonder
“when did this start?”

When did I become
a human being?

As a boy
I was taught to feel
invincible.
I had to learn
to make I on my own.

I didn’t expect anyone
to help me.

I had to believe
I was the master
of my own fate,

a god unto myself.

This was a necessary delusion
because without it
I would’ve froze
and been someone’s
punching bag forever,

but now I’ve grown up
and I see how small
my domain really is
because
in my kingdom,
people still die
hearts are still broken,
women and children still go hungry,
and trying to stop
all the death and sadness
was like trying to hold back
a flood with a broom.

So I figure
mostly
I’ve just had
some lucky breaks

and undeserved grace

when I stopped trying
to be a god
I became a human being

and I haven’t stopped crying since.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The Utility of Secrets

The secret
sits like
a land mine,
waiting for
accidental discovery.

It may never be
activated,
but that gives me
no comfort.

Perhaps
the secret will go
all the way
to my grave,
as, happily,
all the witnesses
will have met
with tragic accidents.

The secret
reminds me
that when I look
in the mirror,
I do not see
a free man,
but rather
an indentured servant
forever paying
interest only
on a debt
only blood can satisfy.

Most days
I forget the secret
is there,
but when things
are running smoothly (too smoothly),
and my heart is light (too light),
and the sun is shining (too bright),

I tempt fate, pondering
what could
possibly
go wrong?

The secret ensures
that I am never
too happy
and never too secure.

It keeps me
necessarily
humble,

and if you knew
my secrets,
you’d know why
I need the lessons
of humility.

[Written for Poets United - come out and play.]

Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow (for Grandma Irene)

I heard that song today
and I pictured you
in your floral print muu-muu
in your overstuffed chair
in that stuffy duplex
in San Fernando Valley.

Has your limp healed yet?
Are you finally at peace
and not worried
about your wayward children?

I can still hear your voice,
comforting and cautious
"Chicken today, feathers tomorrow."

Your gently acrid humor
would sure come in handy now.

There was so much
I could've learned from you,
but you died too early
and I became a parent too late

I hope they're playing
Englebert Humperdinck
in Heaven for you.