Friday, October 31, 2014

The Stench

I ran up to my front door
stuttering my key into the lock
and I could feel that presence,
a stiff, steaming stench
breathing at my back.

I turned on every light,
reflexes at the ready,
and I inspected the room
(there are only so many places
a psychopath can hide in a studio
apartment).

I snuck up
on the shower curtain,
and whipping it
to one side,
I found nothing
and then proceeded
to give myself a one-handed scrub,
with my kitchen knife
poised in the other.

Finally,
I lay myself down
in the darkness,
safe in the knowledge
of the gun in the drawer,
the knife under my pillow
and the door
chained and tripled-locked,
and I drifted
into slow, deep-breathed
slumber.

The last thing I remember
before feeling
the piercing of my chest
was the stench,
laughing and derisive:

“I knew you’d
eventually
fall asleep.”

[Written for Fireblossom Friday at  http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2014/10/fireblossom-friday.html - write something scary...boo!]

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What I Kept From My Father (a Dios de los Muertos tribute)

I kept his humility
but not his shyness.

I kept his loyalty
but not his tribalism.

I kept his laughter
but not his derision.

I kept his discipline
but not his strictness.

I kept his skepticism
but not his cynicism.

I kept his patriotism
but not his blind allegiance.

I kept his faithfulness
but not his routine.

I kept his integrity
but not his inflexibility.

I kept his hairline
but not his irregularity.

I kept his high cholesterol
but not his naivete.

I keep him inside me
but never hide him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making Peace with War

There is always war
waging somewhere.
This is the nature
of this pageant
that begins
bathed in blood
and ends
in the snuffing out
of the breath.

Even Jesus,
the Prince of Peace,
was at war
with those who did not
honor God.

Trying to eradicate
this malevolent pulse
will keep the foolish
and the naive
running in circles,

so I try
making peace
with war:

Yes, I see you,
but I refuse
to fight back,

or cause your demise,

and I will not
surrender
to your
destructive ideology.

Live and let live,
you can't kill me
for this soul
has no beginning
and no end.


[Posted for my friends at dversepoets.com - come on in and lose your war.]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Love Note to the Muse

Turn me on baby

wrap me up
in your electric
fuzz guitar solo

send the firecracker
giggle of spicy coconut
chicken to my tongue

give my body
a gazelle’s grace
as I jete
off the cliff

and then spread
my wings and land
just south of
the fragrant field
of sunshine roses.

Let the Beatles music
play
and let this guitar
be the extension
of my arms

soften this heart
to catch a glimpse
of God
in every shape and hue
and tone

and help nurse
my hopes in this borough
of disappointment and filth.

It’s an ugly world
but you always give me
x-ray specs

to penetrate
and see all those things
otherwise hidden and divine

and give me
a pencil and paper
always within reach
to prove that
it’s more than
a dream

turn me on baby
you know what I need.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Want To Be an Old Man with You

I want to be an old man with you
to weave a lifetime tapestry
and repaint bedrooms,
plant more Korean box woods
and take more pictures
of the kids as they dress up
and become adults.

I want to be an old man with you
and feel the warm,
reassuring grip of your hand
as we stroll through Decembers
and sit on our bench
on the warm July nights
beneath a blanket of ancient stars.

I want to be an old man with you
and remember all the ways we changed
and inwardly smile because
we never were in doubt,
not for a second.

I want to be an old man with you
and hear you laugh a million-fold
to dry your tears, both happy and sad
and feel your heartbeat
when in your embrace,

and to wonder
who said “I love you” first,

and to revel

in its infinite echo.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Predestined

As the Earth
orbits in lazy silence,
we are mostly helpless
but to do the same.

I am ever amazed by
the orchestration
of falling leaves,
ripples awakened
by the pebble,
roses proclaiming
ecstasy in the breeze
not just for their mystery,
but because they were
put here for me.

Dear Jesus,
your followers
want to put you in a box
of containable contradiction
to carry around
and show to their friends
and possibly make a sale or two.

I don’t need to know.

I just want to
feed your sheep
with humility and gratitude,

even when all I have to offer
are crummy little poems
like this one.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Goddamned Wart

He sits on the knuckle
of my “fuck you” finger.

I've had him removed
at least 7 times
but he must like me
because he keeps coming back
bigger
and uglier than ever.

They tried cutting him off,
freezing him off,
burning him off with putrid chemicals,

but he returns,
unrepentant
and defiant.

I try not
to obsess over him,
he’s less than
an inch
so I try to keep him
in proper perspective.

If I fight him
and just try
to rip him off with my teeth
I’ll only end up
bloody
and the sonofabitch
will just return again.

Why do you love me so much?

I can almost
forget you’re there
as I gesticulate when I speak
sometimes enamored
with my own brilliance
and I know my listener
is similarly enthralled,

but then I catch a glimpse of you

and I become self-conscious
and my timing gets shot
and my soliloquy dries up
and I rein in my hands.

Even if I wanted to show
my wedding ring
everyone will see
the goddamned wart,

but perhaps that
is his purpose:

to remind me that
while I sometimes
temporarily delude
myself into thinking
that I am perfect
I am not,

but also to remind me
that I don’t have to be perfect
to be lovable to someone

warts and all.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Inevitable Conclusion

No poetry.
No wisdom.
No insight.

Just life
and work
and mental illness
and discouragement.

I always said
if I'm not writing,
then I'm not a writer.

This blog mocks me
just waiting for something
to give it purpose.

So, I'm going on hiatus,
as they say in TV land
where my dreams of writing began.

Thank you for the kind words.
Thank you for your attention.
Thank you for making me believe
I wasn't invisible.

There is a heaviness
in my heart lately
and before I surrender
and let it win,
I need to get offstage.

Maybe I'll be back,
but if you ever want
to get in touch with me,
just read what I've left here.

When you read me,
then there is no existential question
of whether I exist,
whether I matter.

When you read me
I am in your mind,
and if I ever make it through
to your heart,
to your soul,

well,
that's closest
of all.

With much love
and respect,

this is your humble servant
Buddah Moskowitz

signing off
for now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Yay, Fullerton!"

We were transfixed,
watching the
slow-speed chase
that Friday afternoon
in 1994.

A white Bronco,
an unlikely center of attention,
carried
an even more unlikely
murder suspect
who held a gun
to his head
threatening
something,
as his narcissism
would not allow
suicide.

From our
Southern California
living room,
my Pop and I
watched
as the newscopters
followed O.J.
from Mission Viejo
north to Irvine,
Santa Ana,
Anaheim

and as if on cue,
we both looked
skyward out of the
sliding glass patio door
and saw the
tiny army of helicopters
that was taping the chase
from above,
the chase that was beamed
to the world
and to our living room
in Fullerton.

We smiled
and cheered,
not for O.J.,
but because we felt
a perverse pride
that our modest hometown
was part of this
huge,
ludicrous
news story.

“Yay, Fullerton!”

It’s still one
of my favorite memories
of my Pop.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Sippie

1982 and
synth washed New Wave
was the soundtrack
of college days,
and my college pub
modestly marqueed
“LUNCHTIME CONCERT:
SIPPIE WALLACE.”

I couldn't believe it:
The Texas Nightingale,
and her heartache
wise blues
would be singing
for the blonde-haired
blue-eyed
Born Again Christian
twenty-something
Philistines
at Cal Sate Fullerton?

And no cover?

Must be a mistake
I thought,
but I got there early,
took my place
on the side
of the stage,
as her time drew near,
she was escorted
to the stage by the pianist.

She leaned against
the piano,
a legend,
a modest mountain
of passion and pain,
laughter and learning,
singing her slightly salacious,
saucy songs from the 1920’s
 and I loved every minute
of it.

The crowd wasn't interested,
they ignored her.

Sippie and I were both
outsiders here,
and I stayed there cheering
her on,
basking in her glow,
the halo of the gifted.

Her set ended,
and rather than escort her
backstage,
she was unceremoniously
seated out of slight
behind a speaker.

I had to go to class,
and as I walked by
she appeared in thought,
perhaps wondering
how she was received,
where she was,

I broke her reverie
with a stage whisper
“SIPPIE?”

“SIPPIE?”

and she looked at me
trying to place me,
and I smiled and
stage whispered
“I LOVE YOU”

and she beamed
and cocked her head
in acknowledgement,

and we connected
in the way that
the blues connects
us all.



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Elusive, Undying Flavor

The hunger never leaves
and it rarely takes a break.

Like a furnace,
it keeps demanding
coal, fuel,
lest its flame die.

The world is one
endless smorgasbord
of desire and temptation
and I have committed
to keeping kosher.

Tamed desires are
merely tastes and
preferences,
and
I want
that wildfire,
so consuming,
an all-encompassing conflagration
moving with such velocity
that I no longer care
whether I am alive
or I am dying.

When I find
that thing,
that elusive, unending flavor,
I will consume it
and consume it
and consume it

until I can
no longer
desire it,
or anything else,
ever again.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hey “Poet”

Hey ladies,
Prince Charming isn't coming
to your door,
that’s the UPS man.

If you want him, get off the couch
and get him.

Hey loser,
you think you’re ever getting laid
on a regular basis
without a job?

Put down your bong
and make yourself
useful enough to get paid.

Hey “Poet”,
you can wait for inspiration
to randomly glide by
like the prize
in a shooting gallery
and hope you
catch it in one shot,

or you can
don your camouflage,
strap the quiver to your back,
put on your
night vision goggles
and go deep inside
the slippery, steaming darkness
and sneak up on it,

and pounce,
feeding lustily upon
that which you've hungered for,

and when you’re sated,
release it,
give a reasonable head start
and begin the chase again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Take Me Deep Into the Flower

Take me deep
into the flower.

Let me search
for the mystery
of her beauty,
of her scent.

Though the answer
will elude me,
we both know
this silent, devoted
and unabashed worship
remains the only
glorious response worthy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Threesome

Put down your pen,
power down your computer,
turn down the lights,
and with desire pulsating
over and under
every tantalizing curve,
write your poem,
your skin on mine,
until our threesome
you, me and the moon,
float away in the
cool, dark night.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Room Marked "Secret"

She left
the door
to her room
marked
“Secrets”
wide open
for all to see
and marvel at
its emptiness and
her courageous
disclosure,
but did anyone else
notice
the trapdoor
in the corner
with the word
“Private”
demurely carved
into the floorboards,
among the knotholes
and other imperfections?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Over Latte and Scones

He said
“you told me you Loved me.”

She said
“no, I never said That.
What I meant was
‘I love you.’”

“Yeah, but…”

“What?”

and then
a swarm of
ellipses and
question marks
hovered over their
latte and scones.

My Demise

It won’t be
like anything
I have planned:

with my luck
when I get that
final shove
off the cliff
into eternity

I’ll probably be
straining too hard
while sitting on
the toilet,
a well-read Sam Ash
music catalog
still in my hand
and my heart will say
“Check, please”
and I’ll fall forward
in a crumpled ball
my ass fully exposed,
forehead on the
cold hard tile,
immobile,
save for some drool
unceremoniously
dripping,

and I hope this happens
on a day
when everyone is out
and hours pass
before I am discovered

frozen
in rigor mortis
in this royal pose,
much like King Elvis.

So,
Lord,
now that I've described it,

please

don’t let it be
like anything
I have planned.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Distrust

The believers
with blind faith
intimidate me
with their confidence.

I’ve been
too wrong
too many times,
too many ways,
to trust anything
too much.

Trusting little
helps keep the bar
low,
diminishing
the sting of
disappointment
when gravity
predictably prevails,
and betrayal
descends upon me
like a sandbag from the
rafters.

I trust God
only because
I don’t know God
very much,
except that
He can be vindictive,
so I try to keep
a civil tongue in my head
when praying.

As the days
collect around my feet
like crunching, dusty leaves,
distrust gives way
to certainty,
as I make preparations
for that inevitable
final visitor.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blankety-Blank

All night I worshipped her blankety-blank
without a single thankety-thank.

So I called her a middle-aged blankety-blank
(just to give her collar a yankety-yank).

Then I pinched her on the blankety-blank
(it was really just a prankety-prank).

She hissed "don't you touch my blankety-blank!"
(I was hoping she'd give me a spankety-spank),

but she just covered up her blankety-blank
and asked how much I drankety-drank,

and then my heart just sankety-sank
when, in a tone too frankety-frank,

she said "never again, Mr. Blankety-Blank,
will you blankety-blank my blankety-blank!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

You Were My 1983

You were my
1983.

You saw my heart,
naked for the first time,
I heard yours
echoing mine,
as I basked in your
approving glow.

You were
Boy George’s
silky voice,
that opening warm synth
of Spandau Ballet’s “True”
and you kept me company
as I listened
in the still,
quiet night.

You were
first-love
electric potential,
and it was too short-lived
for any disappointment.

Now you are
a Polaroid snapshot
in a photo box
of a shy smile
in a red graduation robe,
youthful and expectant.

Now your memory is
a welcome surprise.

You were my 1983
and when I hear those songs
I find myself
in the time machine,
remembering those days,
savoring
my long lost innocence,
and wondering
if I was your
1983.

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!]