Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Onward

We cannot wait
until everything else
is put right
to act.

No,
through the
smoking black
choking stench
failure,

we must press
onward.

[in Soupy Sales foramt - 25 words or less.]

Monday, April 07, 2014

Identity Politics

Am I one of those
writers
who only comes out
when there's an audience
in need of distraction?

Close down the
Tuesday night poetry club,
turn out the lights,
remove my avatar
of Chunky King David.

Without your reflection,
your approbation,
am I only
fingers tapping
on an anonymous keyboard
in a blip of a blog?

No.

I am the minesweeper
clearing a way
through her moody minefield
of stultifying depression
and angst.

I am the handyman
fixing leaky relationships
dripping human sewage,
patching torn parachutes
and crossing my fingers
that they'll work
if ever needed.

I am the servant,
trying and failing
before a God of
infinite mercy and kindness,
who remains
ever silent,
so that the only
castigating voice is
my own.

I am all these things
and many more,
but I only ever
become a writer
when I stop being
everything else.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

“The Last Waltz”

At the far right end of the dial,
the ignored AM radio station
whispers out
Englebert Humperdinck’s
“The Last Waltz,”
and I am
immediately
transported
to my childhood:

sitting
in the front seat of
Grandma Irene’s Impala,
feeling happy
and safe,
and blissfully ignorant
of adult responsibility.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Comrades (for Anita)

Rising from the battlefield,
bloodied but unvanquished
she still radiates.

I know the struggle.
I nurse her wounds.
I am her partner.

There is nobility
in her rising
and fixing her vision
on the next horizon.

At times like these
she appears to me
exactly as she did
at our beginning:
valiant, heroic,
and beautiful.

The contour of her
smoke-smudged profile
and the jewelry of her tears
inspires me
as I gird my armature.

We embrace
silently taking any
hope and strength we can
from one another
and declare again
our allegiance
and commitment
to victory
under the maxim:
“I love you, baby.”

Facing forward
side by side
we march onward again
onto the battlefield
of our daughter’s
mental illness.

[Originally written 2006, in the early stages of our daughter's depression.]

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Swooning

The horizon is
invisible,
the sun is
untouchable,
and the snow
is an slippery,
daunting
gauntlet.

I don't know
how I arrived here,
or what crimes
convicted me
to this fate,
but those things
don't matter

as much as
breathing deep
until my lungs ache

and swooning
underneath
the dizzying,
infinite
blue.

[Written for Heather Grace Stewart's writing prompt at http://heathergracestewart.com/2014/03/20/take-ten-thursday-writing-prompt-3/ - the picture above inspired it.]

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Sins of the Mother

Among my earliest memories:

it was a Sunday afternoon
and I was less than
5 years old

but I was
old enough to know
my weakness
because it was also
my mom’s weakness:

we were both fat.

I was taking
my bath
and my mom came in
to check on
something
and she saw my
slippery, overweight body
luxuriating in the soapy
water.

I remember
her face contracting
and her jaw tightening
as she hissed:

“if you don’t lose
that weight
I’m going to take you to the
doctor’s and he’ll cut
the fat off you
in strips!”

Her words seared me
like a surgeon’s scalpel.

I still have the scar.

My mom rarely
ventured out of her
self-imposed prison
in suburban Southern California
because
she always thought
she was too fat.

Sometimes the sins of the
mother are the sins of the son
and I fight for self-control
as I keep stuffing cookies
candy
anything
into me
far past the point of
satiety or enjoyment.

I have long since
forgiven my mom
because
growing up
as a fat boy
who didn't like sports
and would rather go shopping,
many times
she was my only friend
and because I know
what we detest most in others
is the part of us
that we hate the most,

but it still haunts me
forty years later

as I sit at my desk
with a soda
and a drawer
full of snacks
never far
from reach.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Soul Mates

"Look!
There he is, Eddie.
Every morning
same time
he leaves the house.

Don’t worry,
this’ll be easy-
he’s predictable
like a Timex.

Yeah, I know,
he looks like a real
tightass.

Yeah, I got your money.
You know where
he works, right?
Just give me
15 minutes.

She never needed much time.

Did I tell you I saw her
at the store
the other day?
Naw, she didn’t see me.
Looks great.
She always looks great.

What? Naw, he ain’t
gonna give you no trouble.
Kick his ass if you have to.

Just bring him back here
so he can see it
with his own two eyes.

Of course she still wants me.
We were soul mates,
she said so.

She’s just with
him for his money.
Yeah, she always was
kind of a whore.

I called last night
but when she answered
I hung up.

There he goes, man.
Follow him.

Okay, I’m hanging up now.

Got to reclaim
what’s mine."

Monday, March 03, 2014

Clean Break

You said you wanted
a clean break.

So I cleaned
the apartment
just like you trained me
(as you disdain
messiness and clutter).

I can clean anything,
but a lie
no matter how white
can never be cleaned.

Don’t bother to check
as I cleaned out
our joint checking account
and gave it all to charity.

As for my broken spirit,
a little hydrogen peroxide
should cleanse
that wound.

I even cleaned out
the barrel and chambers
of the little pre-owned
snub-nosed accomplice
I purchased
just for this occasion.

So, goodbye.

And, for the record
it wasn’t an accident
that I decided to do this
on your favorite white rug.

This is one stain
I won’t be able to clean
for you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Three Laughs (for Harold Ramis)

The first person
I ever wanted to be
was Groucho Marx.

When I was a teenager
I wanted to be part
of the Second City
television show.

In my early 20’s
I thought I could be
a Mexican Woody Allen.

I told myself
I wouldn't give it a go
until after
I graduated college.

When I was 22
I got up on the stage
where I tried
and I failed
miserably.

It was a Sunday night
and I remember
I couldn't get the
flush of the embarrassment
of my face.

I spoke
to one of the regulars
who told me
he worked
different clubs
in the valley
every night.

I asked him
how much he made
each week,
and he said
“Thirty-five dollars.”

Putting my college degree
to work,
I calculated and
I realized I lacked
the drive,
the desire
to pay the dues.

So that night
I put the dream away,
and eventually went back
to graduate school,
where I earned a
Master’s Degree
in sociology.

Throughout the nineties,
I worked evenings
teaching sociology
at the local community college.

All the years
of studying the masters
Durkheim,
Weber,
Marx,
Cosby,
Dangerfield,
Cheech, Chong
paid off

as I peppered
my lectures
with original jokes
and observations.

I finally
found my audience
when I realized
that a nightclub comic
who only gets three laughs,
is a sucky stand-up,

but if you’re a college teacher
and you get three laughs,
then you’re the fun professor.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Relative Gratitude

My brother Masuda
who is dying
two days at a time
tells me
about his leg
which may have to be amputated
and how the diabetes
is raping his system
and that its working
with the vasculitis
to speed his immune system
into oblivion
and how he’s so broke
he trades his pain meds
for hamburgers
at the local diner
and how one of his daughters
won’t talk to him
and how his computer crapped out
and will it cost $65
that he didn't have to fix it.

I take it all in
and heave out a sigh
“Man, I’m sorry to hear that.”

Masuda changes the tone
“Hey, I ain't complaining,man.
I could be in Afghanistan
somewhere dying.
At least here I got a place to live
and I’m still alive.”

It’s a simple but compelling
argument:
relative gratitude.

I store it away
in the part of my mind
where I keep my
nasty spritzo insults,
orgasm memories
and hacks I use to tweak
my programming

so when I feel like
walking away
or driving into the oncoming headlights
or giving into something
wet and forbidden,

I stop
and reboot.

Now
when I'm in the angry pitch
sinking
in the blue quicksand
or if I’m feeling cornered
I’ll be able to say

“Hell, at least,
I’m not Masuda.”

[Posted for my pal Masuda and #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - go there and drop yourself in the healing, poetic waters.]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

With Sweetness and Wonder

He stumbled through
grad school,
and a first marriage
that didn't survive a season.

He philandered,
ejaculated hatred,
and received
a death threat
credible enough
that the cops advised him
to hide.

He hid in her house,
lost himself in
her PTSD,
and finally found his way out
only after
a painful, adulterous affair,
his father’s
unexpected cardiac arrest,
and two planes
flying into
two buildings
almost knocked him
off his axis.

Since then
he remarried,
bought a house,
raised kids.

Yesterday,
he hit 24 years of sobriety,
and I've seen him
through every frame
of that movie.

The fact that
he can slip
at any given moment,
and somehow doesn't,
imbues his every day
with sweetness
and wonder.

[Written for #openlinknight at www.dversepoets.com - love poetry? Get'cher ass ovah there!]

Thursday, February 06, 2014

For What It's Worth

This just came in the mail.  Box #2 tickled me. (Click to zoom.)

Don't worry, it's not enough money to corrupt me. If you bought my e-book, thanks. - Moskowitz



Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Space is an Illusion

Space is an illusion
because
not only is the glass
always full
(it is half water and half air),

but the glass is connected
to the air
that is connected to you
and to me
and to everything .

The illusion is that
such false divisions
even exist at all:

what separates
the property from the boundary
the inside from the outside?

Nothing can exist
because everything
is connected
to everything else.

The Buddha knew it
and so did the Christ,
and sometimes
so do I.

So, why then
do I keep swimming
upstream,

vainly
trying to stand
apart
from everything else?

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com, where even empty-headed poseurs like me can find love!]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Necessary Evil

Thank God for the sinners,
the child-rapists.
the wife-beaters.
the small animal torturers.

God lets them all exist
because deep down
God is fair
and I know God
loves me too,

because I was put here to
create misery and panic
and heartache.

to mow down daisies
and set loose
the flamethrower
on the innocent brown victims.

If I weren't here
(or for that matter
everywhere)
then there'd be
no need for
Heaven,
Holy Grace,
no Christmas presents,
no Easter eggs,

because there would be
no need for God.

God created me
as a form of job security
because if I weren't here
causing a catastrophic illness,
or helping a battered wife
set fire to her sleeping husband,
everything would be
peaceful
tranquil,
at one,

and no one would ever seek out
His holiness,
that sense of purpose
that transcendent Being.

So, the more I keep
stirring the pot,
the more you all
keep praying to your God
and the more He is happy.

Let’s face it,
without me,
God’s nothing.

[Whew! Come over and take a dip into the pool of art that is #openLinkNIght at www.dversepoets.com - and cool off with some refreshing poetry!]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Norman

“Be gone.
I’m giving you
the chance to escape
unbloodied.

You might think
you’re a badass
picking on little girls,
but some of them
have fathers,

and I have
a long memory,
a longer anger
and an infinite hatred
for bullies.

You came sniffing
around the wrong
schoolyard,
because I can
and will
make a call
and you’ll vanish,

but first,

I know this freak
who was raped
repeatedly
when he was a little boy
and I never turned him on
to Jesus.
I just kept feeding his
homicidal rage,
and he can’t hold down
a job,
and he doesn’t have one,
except when I call on him.

He’s a freak because
he likes to tape everything
he does
to my referrals.

Ever see someone
tasered almost to death,
brought back,
and tasered again
and again and
again?
Your mom will love
that one.

When Norman
ties you down
and shoves
the spiky, kinky
corkscrews,
barbed wire
and what not
up your backside,
he’ll strip out
the audio of
your screaming and pleading,
and remix it
to a house beat
and play it
on a boombox
outside the window
where your dad works.
He’ll understand,

besides
didn’t your father
ever tell you
not to pick on
little girls?”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Patients' Rights

I stare across
the waiting room
of the juvenile
psychiatric inpatient
treatment center

at a framed document
screwed to the wall
printed in
English and Spanish
announcing
“Patients’ Rights.”

I mindlessly scan
the litany of legalese
printed in the teeniest
font,
columns of
blurry gray
rectangles

reassuring me of
my 14 year-old
daughter’s rights

as she is admitted
for a 72 hour observation
as she’s been deemed
a suicide risk.

I look at the document
realizing its intent
is to empower,

but all it’s doing right now
is reminding me
of how little control
I have in this situation.

[Posted for #openlinknight at dversepoets.com - where words and love are shared in great abundance.]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Kiss, Transformed

The kiss
starts slowly,
tentative,
as it explores
new, slippery terrain.

As it gets stronger
the kiss becomes visceral,
athletic,
setting the stage for more.

The kiss sometimes
subordinates itself
and becomes
the means to an end,
as it explores
other regions
of the recipient,
which sometimes
include lips.

The kiss transforms
into a greeting,
a blessing,
a magic charm to
ward off evil
when parting.

Years into the story
the kiss still
seals their promise,
ignites passionate possibilities
and bounds the sacred place
where their love grows
without end.

[Written and posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - visit them and discover your next favorite poem.]

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

My Ungracious Opponent

"Mental illness is not patient, it is not kind. 
It envies, it boasts, it is proud. 
It does not honor others, it is self-seeking, 
it is easily angered, it keeps a record of wrongs. 

Mental illness does not delight in the truth,
but rejoices with evil. 
It never protects, never trusts, never hopes, 
but always perseveres.”

I used to look for
the broken,
the violated,
the lost,
and vowed to love them
through their
mental illnesses,
naively convinced
that I could
love their problems
(and their inevitable fates)
away.

Ask Darra
or Lan Anh
or Teresa
and each will tell you
how I left,
each time bowing
in defeat to
mental illness,
my ungracious opponent.

Anita came to me
with both wings intact,
and three beautiful seedlings
who I came to love
and keep as my own.

Nobody predicted
that the short, blonde
4 year-old chatterbox
possessed a latent
recessive gene,
that has now flowered
into obsessive-compulsive disorder,
general social anxiety,
and profound depression.

So,
here I am again,
trying to love someone
through mental illness,
but this time,
I cannot leave,
reminding me
that no matter how much
I try to avoid
what is inevitable,
I can’t fight fate.

[Happy New Year! Written for #openlinknight at www.dversepoets.com - where love and writing and love of writing come together!]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Judge Shrugged

The courtroom was set up
so that I had to sit next 
to him.

We didn't make eye contact,
but we’d already traded intimacies 
of a sort,
what with me 
hate-fucking the hell out of 
his slutty stalker wife,
and him threatening to shoot me
because she mislead him 
and told him it was rape.

Before the judge granted
the restraining order, he said
“I've read the details of this case,
Mr. Amberg have you apologized
to Mr. Moskowitz?”
and he said he had
because it was true.

The Judge continued:
“And Mr. Moskowitz, 
have you apologized 
to Mr. Amberg?”

In a voice, 
confused but unequivocal,
I said 
“No, I haven’t”
because that was true too.

The judge shrugged,
thought for a moment 
and granted my restraining order.

I left the courtroom,
feeling relieved,
vindicated and safe,

but not innocent.

[From the #thisreallyhappened files - Written for #openlinknight for www.dversepoets.com - come over and get your poetry fix.]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Empty Dates

 A year passes
and there are empty dates
on the calendar
where birthdays,
holidays
and other milestones
belonged.

Families are owed
memories and dreams,
and everything that wasn’t
given away to charity
or tucked quietly
into an abandoned toy box,
is  arrayed into a makeshift,
altar,
a reminder of the shock
and random cruelty
of this loss.

Inside the
still-unwrapped
Christmas present,
a smiling, pink plush pig
has been waiting
since last year
for an embrace
and a smile
that will never come.

[Written for #newtown and posted for #openlinknight @dversepoets - with love and sadness.]

Monday, December 02, 2013

My Luxury

My luxury,
though simple,
was my luxury
when I was 10,
and is still
my luxury
today:

to sit in
a darkened room
by an open window,
a slight chill
in the wind,
looking up at
the stars,

curled up,
listening
to a small,
faraway radio station
and following
wherever
the dream music
took me.

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - an artistic oasis in the desert what be the internet.]

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fathers and Sons and Men

Danny was 49
when he lost his dad,
after a long, slow
debilitating
descent,
but while he was alive
Ed saw his son
marry his love,
make a beautiful baby,
become a tenured professor,
make a home,
resolve any unfinished business,
and he saw his son
as a man.

John was also 49
when he too lost his dad,
after another long, slow
debilitating
descent,
but while he was alive,
John Sr. saw his son
find his perfect partner,
build a home together
also became a tenured professor,
also make a home,
resolve any unfinished business,
and he too
got to saw his son
as a man.

But, Pop, I was 35
when that dormant
heart disease took you.
I was still immature,
unfocused and
self-righteously selfish,
living from
one hedonistic decision
to the next.

However since your death,
I married
the beloved daughter-in-law,
and adopted
the treasured grandchildren
you never got to meet.

We made a home
and I know you would've
loved the view
from the back patio.

I've made a modest
but respectable career
as a college dean,
and if I play my cards right,
I'll be able to retire
with my house paid off
in a decade or so.

Sometimes I regret
that you never
knew me as the man
that I am today,
the man
I would have never
become

if your
sudden death hadn't
forced me
to grow up and
become a man.

[This is a continuation of the poem last week.  Bea was married to Ed, John Sr. was married to Willie, and Dan was married to Pat.  Written and posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - where I am thankful for the support and love of the community.]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bea is Alone

Sitting down front
with her 
newly fragmented family,
Bea accepts the flag
expertly folded into
a triangle,
but doesn’t hear
the words accompanying it.

Back at the house
there is exhaled relief,
aluminum tins
with Mexican take-out,
and everyone’s eating,
and there is laughter,
but no one is laughing
too heartily.

In a few well-spaced waves
the mourners leave,
save for the lingering daugher
who stays another night,
and another still
until, at last,
she must rejoin her own life.

Now, finally,
Bea is alone,
not just in her home,
but for the first-time
in her adult life.

[For my moms, Pat, Winnie and Bea, all widows now.]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding Things, Losing Things

Sometimes you just
lose things,
like the spare keys
to the strongbox
where your
homemade sex video hides,
or those tickets
to the Elton John concert
she wanted to see
in 1996.

Sometimes you find things
and you thank
the God of Lost Items
because you can’t figure
how your sunglasses
ended up in the crisper,
but you’re just so happy
to have found them
because they’re perfect.

Sometimes you just
lose things,
like the firecracker spark
of a new passion,
or the receipt from
the movie you ducked into
to stay out of the rain,
the one where she took
your hand without asking
and changed the course
of your life.

Sometimes you find things
like forgiveness when it
isn't deserved,
and ecstasy for nothing more
than the infinite blue
of the sky above.

So, 
when you find something,
like something to write about,
rejoice and celebrate,
but when you lose something,
like the clever summation
of these thoughts 
I'd envisioned,

let it go and
move forward.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deathbed Advice

Open your heart and
free the caged
bluebird inside.

Ignore the empty buzzing
voices of those who
mean well
but contribute nothing.

You were born with a shovel
so dig,
and if you find something
you don’t like,
STOP!
Don’t keep digging.
Turn it over,
examine it
accept its dirt and grime,
for it is yours.

There is pity in the parade
and joy inside the tear,
and when you look in
that funhouse mirror
don’t disown the image:
just because the mirror is warped
doesn't mean you’re not.

if you look in the funhouse mirror
and like the what you see
you’re home free.

The only thing to hold
is your memory
but if you live too long,
the memories pile up
like old newspapers,

so start shedding
the superfluous memories,
keeping only the cream,

and if you must
write them out,
do it
and then let them die
there
on the page.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Google+ comments off

Hi readers,

FYI - I have turned the Google+ comments off, so you don't have to have a Google+ account to comment.  This means that any previously made Google+ comments are no longer available. I apologize for this but hope it will make it easier for anyone to comment.

Thanks for your continued encouragement and support,
Moskowitz

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Without Irony: Christmastime in Southern California (a haiku)

Eighty-six degrees,
red and green decor creeps out
'neath November blue.

































[Taken today at lunch, Riverside, California.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Other Side of Luke 23:34

I'm sorry,
but I honestly didn't know.

I disguised my lust and gluttony
as joie de vivre
and followed them
as I blazed
a pathetically predictable path,
one mortifying lesson at a time.

I thought I was gifted,
that I had a vision,
but now I see
I was just another
in an unending line of
abstract and myopic
nonconformists
just spoiling for a fight.

I stand now
at the foot of your cross
under a bruised purple-black sky
lost in a sea of fetid sinners,
a fellowship of miscreants-
these are my true peers.

I see the weight of my sins
bearing down
on your thorny crown.

I see your human agony
and if you can see me
through the blood dripping
in your eyes
please know,

I’m sorry.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - where they love me even though I'm not really writing lately.]

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

“I Am Your Slave"

“I Am Your Slave”
she said presenting herself,
wrists forward and palms up
in an expression of
understood submission.

My face went cold and
I felt that familiar thud
drop from my chest
to my gut.

She was supposed
to go back to her husband
after our tryst
and this just confirmed my fear.

Thoughts of panic
swirled around me
and the guilt soaked
through my shirt.

She handed herself over
like a blank check waiting
to be drawn
from a demonic account
and I was angry.

Stupid girl.
She knew
she was just another painkiller
I was using to numb the
wounds inflicted by my
newly departed wife.

Why’d she betray me?

She bought into The Lie.

The Lie is a thing
so beautiful
perfectly round
juicy and sweet
and always just
a little out of reach.

The Lie
does an excellent business
tempting the lost and lonely
to disregard every dull truth
in favor of its titillating fa├žade.

I know this
because I did the same thing
the night before
as I bowed low
at the altar of wanton carnality
and said:
“I Am Your Slave.”

[Posted for #openlinknight at www.dversepoets.com - come and read some great poetry.]