Wednesday, August 24, 2016

It's All Medicine (Mixed Blessing)

First-time
cannabis use
last night.

I'm 52.

Thoughts:

1. This is a revelation, and

2. Uh-oh.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Five Again (For Sarah)

Little one,
like a dewy tulip,
you are too fresh,
too fragile
for this milieu
you selected.

I told you
that there’d be boys
interested in you,
but now
how do I teach you
you can’t save all of them,
or even most of them,
and many of them
will just piss all over
your kindest efforts
anyway.

You deserve better
and I don’t know where
you learned to
act as their saviour-servant,
because backstage
you’re a pouting,
shouting princess,
more lazy than malevolent.

Still,
I wanted you
to return,
but now I know
you can’t come back,

and what I really want
is a time machine
so you could be
five again
and I could memorize
every detail,
every simple joy,
before life
and your depression
stole so much.

I’m always here
little one,
and I’ll always be here,

no matter how
painful it is
to watch you
as you stumble
and trip
into your self.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Testosterone

This predator
courses through my veins
and I cannot stop him,
I cannot ignore him.

When I am held
captive
by the unmistakable scent,
the breathy low moan,
the contoured shadows
of the feminine breast,
I know he is
at the wheel.

I have tried
to work with this fiend,
naively thinking
I could
control him,
but
he demands payment,
he demands food,
he demands flesh.

He rarely waits
and he listens
even less.

The worst part
is knowing
he is the untamed
beast of the man
that she craves
in spite of
her protestations;

(even those women
who purport to be
elevated
over this wretched
biology),

for these ladies
will surrender
their dignity,
without remorse
or shame,
and the bastard will laugh
and consume them,
leaving only
sticky,
unclothed skin.

However,
I can’t entirely blame him
as he’s got me laid
more than a few times,

and besides,
he’s only a chemical,
an amoral, inculpable chemical .

Even as he wanes
and dissipates into
his slow and flaccid death,
he’ll still have the last laugh
as he abandons you,
in all your spongy
failure
with a wife
who is taking your
situational impotence

way too personally.

[Written for Poets United and their Predator prompt,]

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Synthesizer

Turn on
the power,
and begin:

play the keys
twiddle the knobs,
change the filters.

Thankfully,
there are few rules,

only imagination
and sounds
never before produced,
only dreamt,

filling all that
empty
silent space,
with aural color,

and ignore the presets,
as they were made
for efficiency,
not experience.

Truly,
this synthesis of
the machine’s heart
and the creator’s soul,

working in concert,
can make
something
out of nothing,

wherein lies
the magic of art.

[This is Moskowitz' present synthesizer of choice. Photo courtesy of usnovation.com]

Days and Years

Whether the days
feel like years

or the years
feel like days,

I'm thankful
all of my
days and years
belong to you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Heart Sees

I'm not looking
for new wrinkles;

my eyes
just don't focus
that way anymore.

These days,
my heart sees
more
clearly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Incomplete America

“They're bringing crime. 
They're rapists. 
And some, I assume, are good people.”
- Donald T(he )Rump on Mexico

Make America Great Again?

Nothing screams
Clueless White Male Privilege
than pining for
“The Good Ol’ Days.”

Anything
pre-1965,
pre-Civil Rights Acts
pre-Voting Rights Act,
is an
Incomplete America.

I piss on your nostalgia.

I shit on your romanticized
Hollywood fantasies
of a sanitized,
White Protestant
America,
where everyone
had their place,
and they knew it
and they kept there
and they were happy.

Their mythology comforts
for there is
no conflict,
no desperate, hungry pleas
to distract
The Exceptional, Chosen Americans
from their enviable dreams.

I’m an American
and my country
needs me,
and the rest of us
who have been left out
on the sidelines,
in the boiling kitchens,
under punishing sunlight
in the fields,
wiping the asses
of the royal offspring
of the rich and pampered,

to register
and vote,
vote,
vote.

Don’t let them
“Make America Great Again”
because we know
where that led us.

Vote and
“Make America Complete, At Last.”
Moskowitz voting in California Primary, June 2016


[For Poets United suffrage prompt.]



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Refuse

I refuse
to believe that darkness
will vanquish the light
permanently.

I refuse
to distrust you
just because
we do not look alike.

I refuse
to believe
that my side
is infallible.

I refuse
to join others
out of fear
instead than love.

I refuse
to dogpile on the
lone,
dissenting voice.

I refuse
your negativity,
your avarice,
your pessimism.

If you offer me
your friendship,
your time,
or your love,

in exchange
for my belief
in the inherent
good of my fellow,

then,
I refuse.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

No!

“No!

She cannot be
gone!

She is my light,
my food,
my breath.

Without her,
this life will be
a gray, unrelenting
sentence.

She’s still
just a baby,
my baby.

Perhaps, God,
if I held her
strong enough,
close enough,
You would
trade my life
for hers?

I won’t ask
why.

No answer
will suffice.”


Inspired by K├Ąthe Kollwitz, 
"Frau mit totem Kind" (1903)














[Written for http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2016/07/words-count-with-mama-zen.html ]

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

An Infinite Palette

In black and white
photography
there is rarely
any pure white,
and rarely is there
any pure black.

Most images are in
subtle shades of gray.

Different skin tones
are gray.
Snapshots of the sky
are a different gray.
Spilled blood
reflected in the sun
is a yet another variation
of gray.

I used to think
using black and white
in a colored world
was an affectation,
a pretense.

Now I see
that truth is like
a black and white photo:

a little black,
a little white,
and an infinite
palette of gray.

[Written for With Real Toads - go and read and praise.]

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lost in The Moment

If you're worrying
about what
I'm thinking about
while we're making love,

then
you can't be lost in
The Moment
like I am.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

I Couldn't

“First, she told me
her name was Ashley.
The next time
it was Brandee,
and then,
it was Millicent.

She was young
and firm
and flexible,

with clear blue eyes,
and a nape made
for her
long
blonde
hair.

I kept feeding
her singles
and she ate
like a dirty city pigeon,
out of my hand.

I‘d have her lean in
as I pretended to listen
over the mix of
rap-metal
and classic rock,
but I was actually
breathing in her
heady mixture of
stage perfume and
overpriced alcohol.

I learned
she dropped out
of school when
she got pregnant.

She told me
she had the kid,
and a pimp,
and a coke habit,
as she slid her
lingerie’d torso
up against mine,
straddling me
during one of the
many table dances
she performed
under those predictable
red and purple
pin lights.

And I wanted
to rescue her,
to take her away
from all that decay,
to tell her
I loved her
and that I would
always take care
of her,

but I couldn’t.

So, eventually
I left that
smudge
of a town,

and told everyone
when I arrived home,

the agency was wrong,

and she wasn’t
our long-lost
second-cousin.

Now,
I just wish
I could
forget her.”

[For Fireblossom Friday @ With Real Toads ]

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Negotiations

Love,
as an action,
is unilateral;
a velocity moving
outward
in a specific direction.

Loving relationships
are always
bilateral negotiations;
at worse,
unwilling compromises,
at best,
complementary
sanctuaries.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

In The Temple Between My Temples

I always start
in the produce section,
and soon I am lost
in the beauty
the splendor
of it all:

inside my head
Elvis Costello is still writing the book
and pumping it up
and the New York Dolls
are dancing like monkeys
in spandex

and Dusty Springfield
tells me it’s a sign of the times
as I compare prices
on frozen pizzas

down the snack aisle
Curtis warns me about
the Pusherman
and I look to see
if he’s watching me
from his funkyfine heaven

and I try to remember
if we need milk
and Prince bumps up next
to the Carpenters
next to Public Enemy
next to Bob Dylan
next to Julie London

and I’m no longer
just grocery shopping:

I’m having a divine
religious experience

in the temple
between my temples.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Caveat Emptor, Prospective Believers

The deal looks simple:

just say you believe,
take a dip in the baptistery
and come up a new person.

So many agents sell it as
After Life insurance,
trying to earn their share
of that great
Great Commission.

Caveat emptor,
prospective believers,
before you sign:

remember
taking on the Christ
means losing yourself
and all your pretty things
for the sake
of Jesus.

If words like
obedience and discipline
scare and intimidate you,

they should.

To follow
is the hardest thing
and the days when
the cool water soothed
my aching, burning soul
are rare indeed.

It’s not as simple
as saying
“I believe, I believe.”

It is in denying yourself
the delicious pleasure
of self-righteous hatred and anger.

It’s in feeding your neighbor
with the last piece
from your pantry.

It’s in the very Un-American idea
that says
“I am not self-reliant,
I am weak,
and I need someone
to show me
right from wrong.”

It’s humbling,
but far easier than being hung
naked on a cross
to show your devotion to God
and nowhere near as
humiliating.

It’s not about being “saved”
from the Hell of the future,
it’s about living through
the hell of the present.

So, before you say yes
think it through,

and if you still can’t
rationalize it
or explain it

but you still want it,
really gotta have it,

then
you’re ready.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Slowly

To resist the temptation
to jump to the end of
the paragraph

to make the meal last
almost until it is too cold

to make love with fiery passion
and intensity
and to do it slowly.

Is it that the world
moves too quickly

or is it that I am blessed
by so many treasures
that I zip from one
flower to another

speeding like a hummingbird
with a two-minute warning?

I decide
I haven’t the time to ponder this
as I wrap this poem up

and speed home.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Why There is No Poem Today

This is not
a difficult question:

should I sit at the keyboard
bending thought and word
weighing simile and metaphor,
vainly trying to scratch out
a hitherto unheard phrase
on the off chance
that some anonymous reader
might comment positively
and feed my voracious appetite
for approbation and
self-aggrandizement,

or

watch another episode
of “Curb your Enthusiasm”
sitting next to
the most beautiful woman
I’ve ever seen
and feel the
comforting glow
that only comes
from finally knowing
true love?

I’ll be right there,
babydoll.

Friday, July 01, 2016

No One Wants Another Poem

No one wants another poem,
obviously it’s way too easy to grow ‘em.

Writers with insight are numerically few,
true artists are rare (the sure sign that they’re true).

Too many claim a literary profession,
thinking that art is merely confession.

Mistaking the insular as a merit unique,
they fill MA programs with empty technique.

With words they dig a verbal excavation,
but many of us think it’s just masturbation.

I’ve gone on too long, for now I just realize,
I’ve done the same thing that I came here to criticize.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Weedpuller

As a kid
I was instructed
to pull the weeds,
like it was
instinctual.

I didn’t know
what a weed was,
so I tried to surmise
meaning from context:

“I hate those
God-damned weeds.”

“Those weeds
are choking out
the grass.”

I thought
weeds were bad, ugly,
mean-looking,
so I set about
my task.

After an hour
of pulling,
I’d acquired quite
a mound of
dead vegetation,
and when I proudly
showed my mom,
she blasted:

‘WHAT THE HELL
ARE YOU DOING?
THOSE ARE MY
GOOD PLANTS!
YOU LEFT
ALL THE WEEDS
IN THE GROUND!”

I didn’t know.

They all looked ugly,
bad and mean
to me.

To this day,
I can’t easily predict
how others will judge
the cursed from the desired,
the worthless from the proper.

It’s been that way
with
plants,
music,
art,
and people,

and it taught me
to respect my choices,
especially
in who I would become.

[Written for Real Toads challenge.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Keep Your "Carpe Diem"

When you’re a kid,
birthdays seem like
they’re forever
faraway.

The calendar pages
turn at a glacial pace,
adulthood,
still a mirage.

Then,
somewhere in your 50s
without noticing,
the days begin sailing by,
like dead leaves in a river,
moving too quick
to appreciate
all their detail,

and when you
want to stop them
and really study
their delicate veins,
their cracked
and weathered skins,
they slip away from
fingers
that were once
nimble enough
to catch them.

So,
I don’t wait anymore
for my birthday
to celebrate,
I do it today.

You can keep your
“carpe diem”
with its implicit specter
of Death.

I prefer “Happy Birthday”
with all its
boundless potential,
optimism,
and cake.

[Written for Poets United, Birthday Prompt ]

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Not a Great Mystery

As philosophies
dry up and wither away
in untouched bookcases,
remember,
it’s not a great mystery:

breathe in,
breathe out,
and help someone else along the way.

The world is an equation
but rarely is it
an equality.

Sometimes a “greater than,”
sometimes it’s a “less than,”

and if you need
to boil it down
further,
it’s this:

others first,
then you.

Anything else is
merely
narcissism.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Dusky Pink Rose

The dusky pink rose
promises divinity,
simplicity,
humility.

Unaware of her
fate,
she represents
all that is
beautiful and perfect
in this world.

If you
cannot see her,
breathe in
her soft perfume.

To swim in her
velvet petals,
is to be
forever changed.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Why Do I Love Christmas Music So Much?

My earliest memories
are in bittersweet sepia tones,

in a family of depressives,
sadness and low expectations
came with the deal.

Until I was old enough to
decode a calendar,
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”
heralded the start of
the season of tract homes
transformed by red and green lights,
it was like being sent to Oz.

Somehow, magically,
the world became prettier
and teeming rich with exciting,
beautiful possibilities.

My father would finally
sit on the couch enjoying
Christmas music in front
of his tree,
and my mother would
let me help her bake cookies.

It was the happiest time
I had all year.

More than anything else,
the music took me
far away,

to places where families were happy,
where the snow hid all the misery,
where people were in love.

Then, as mysteriously as it came,
it was gone on Christmas Night.

I remember playing the records
too far into the next January
when my parents would
pack them up with
the whole holiday season
and stash it away
until the next year.

And life went back to
its mundane necessity,
like Dorothy returning
to Kansas.

With every year
as I play them,
the memories
of my youth sweeten.

I play them
for my children now
in the hopes that

one of them
will carry on
this tradition
and remember
their Christmases
spent with me
and smile.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Onward (for Cookie)

The white-haired burst
of firecracker laughter
named Stella
finally went silent
this morning.

Cookie sits
at the kitchen table
surrounded by
pill regiments
insurance papers
and her reassuring family.

“What am I going to do?”

I have nothing profound
to offer.

When the center
of your world
has been taken,
ruthlessly, stealthily
like a cyclone
in a silent movie,

when the directions
on your compass
have been smeared away
by grief

in what direction
does one proceed?

Slowly
step by step

onward.

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.