Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Secret Writing Place

This is where I write many of my poems.  Inspiring view, huh?


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.

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 façade.

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.]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hole Poem

20 hours after waking,
I finally carve
a hole out of my
wall-to-wall life
to write a poem,

and as I dig into
my back pocket
where I keep
my glib and facile
poetic ideas,

I reach in
only to find
a hole.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - stop on by and have a cry! Or a laugh!]

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Devil Sleeps Soundly

The Devil sleeps soundly
on a bed of
our apathy and indifference
to the neglected,
disconnected
souls,
our hubris and selfishness
fueling sweet dreams.

The Devil sleeps soundly
on the pretense that
we don’t see
the dirty, needy hands
outstretched for bread,
and he renews himself
when we deny helping
with dismissive cynicism.

The Devil sleeps soundly
when we attribute
the evils of the world to him,
ignoring our implicit culpability
and it gladdens his heart
when we ignore
our higher inclinations
and take the lower path.

The Devil sleeps soundly
but he’s rested too long,
and it’s time to awaken him,
(ourselves as well),
with the admonition
that we’ll no longer be a party
to his death and destruction.

We’re tired of doing your dirty work.
“Wake up and get out.”

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - come along and read some fine poetry.]

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Welcome Speech

Just sit there.
you’re new here, so listen up.

I don’t awaken easily
and I hate staying awake.

If you must ask questions
make sure they’re well thought out.

Don’t waste my time
and keep your hands off my stuff.

Remember
there’s just two of us in this cell

and the guards
are down the hall and sometimes deaf.

Don’t ask why I’m here
and I won’t ask why you’re here,

and when I get up
I get to use the toilet first.

I’ve been here
longer than you’ve been alive

so don’t think
you’re the boss in here.

Out there
you might’ve been some badass

but in my world
you’re just a new fish.

I’m holding back
more hate than you’ll ever feel,

so don’t get in my way
and I’ll treat you more fair than most,

and if you’re smart
you won't let me see you cry.

I really hate
people who can still cry.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Without Abandon or Fear

Keep searching.

In every day
God has hidden
a gift,
and the trick is
to live fully,
without abandon
or fear,
turning over
every little thing,
especially those
that appear
insignificant.

Don’t ignore anything,
especially
the cold and cruddy
stones
in your pathway,
because under
one of them
may be the
hitherto unknown key
that unlocks
the next wonderful era
of your life.

Keep looking ahead,
unceasing,
like the curiosity
of a child’s incessant
questioning.

Pirouette to the edge
of the cliff
and if you’re not too busy
living and being alive
listen to your heart beating,
your pulse pounding
insistent,
affirming
‘yes, you are alive.”

There is no reason,
no meaning
to this life

until you break through
scale the wall,
and decide
that your life
has value
and dignity

and some days
just remembering that
is the gift.

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - love those poets there!]

Monday, October 14, 2013

The March of Death

The march of death
plods ahead,
indifferent and dispassionate.

It will see
all our dreams
and wistful hopes for tomorrow
like baby squirrels
in the path of a Humvee
and run them over.

The march of death
is always operating
in the background
never needing a break.

We all know its there
and most refuse to see it
afraid to give it proper credit.

The march of death is there
at the graduation,
in the wedding party,
during the back-arching orgasm.

"Carpe diem"
"live for today"
"tomorrow is promised to no one."

It's easy to repeat such homilies
but unless you can
enjoy the budding rose
or the breeze that bends the palm
or savor the warm quiet explosion
of that first bite of red curried Thai chicken
with your eyes directly fixed on
the march of death,
then you haven't met the challenge
you've chickened out again.

Be consumed
by the defiant dance of life
and if you are seen as
wild-eyed and spastic,
then so be it.

This is your day
use it up now.

Somewhere on this planet
someone's last moment
just happened,

because
the march of death
never takes a day off,

so neither will I.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

My Catalogue of Mistakes

She rifles through
my catalogue of mistakes
looking for something new,
looking for new ways
to prick herself.

I tell her
"look at my new writing.
It's so much better."

She does,
but it's just not
as compelling a read
as the catalogue.

Everyone has their inventory
of drunken reverie,
bad carnal decisions,
wasted tears and hours,
complete with photographs
of the most compromising positions
in glorious color
each one perfectly suitable
for framing.

The wise person knows
to avoid scratching
that unreachable itch
which would dig a hole
deep into his soul.

I learned long ago
to keep my curiosity
about such ticklish things
on a short leash
because letting it run free
would only enslave me.

For I have been
a jealous monster
at times
and I hated it,

so I tried to leave it behind
by avoiding rear view mirrors
or unlocked journals
or photo albums from your past
where I've not been invited.

Everyone has a past
with luggage stamped
"Regret"
"Indiscretion"
"Loneliness"
"Loss"

and everyone has
their catalogue.

If someone
shares theirs with you
don't study it,
don't memorize it,
don't judge its contents

just accept it and move on,

lest you be added
to its pages.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - come on over and have a drink of words.]

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Spin That Wheel of Fortune (For Sarah)

Spin that
wheel of fortune,
listen to its clatter,
dance to its tune.

There is more
that you don’t know
than you do.

If you’re dropped
onto the stage
in the middle of an opera
and you don’t know the part,
sing anyways!

The surface of the placid
autumn lake
rarely stays smooth,
and neither should
your brain.

What we want is always
on a collision course with
what we need,

so,
take the stray fibers
of your memories
and weave wisdom
and understanding.

[Posted for my daughter, who is doing a writing challenge with me, also for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com, where poets and poetry finally get a little respect!]

Friday, September 27, 2013

David [name withheld] (Posted for 50th Birthday)

His hubris is such
that he often says
his six-word story is
“God created,
and so must I.”

In everything he does
he tries a creative approach.
While this is not
always successful
(as evidenced by his previous
failed love relationships),
he relies upon
the element of surprise
to compensate for
true talent and competence.

He is most proud
of his second marriage
and how seamlessly
he became a husband
and assumed the paternal role
to Anita’s pre-existing
family.

In his free time
he is a voracious reader
of nonfiction,
with his favorite genres being
show business biographies,
theological treatises
and reference books.

He loves all forms
of music,
and his favorite all-time band
is the New York Dolls.

He started writing
when he was 15,
and while there have been
long periods of inactivity
in the intervening 35 years,
writing is the single
most gratifying work
he’s ever done.

When he writes
he is no longer
overweight or
Mexican or
awkward or
unwanted or
lonesome.

True to his credo,
when he writes
he creates himself,

and it amuses him,
and thankfully,
he amuses easily.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Movie of My Life

The movie of my life
will not star Brad Pitt
or Angelina Jolie
or anyone else you’d know
or recognize
or even want to look at,
but I will be played by
at least six different actors
portraying me
in different eras.

I’ll market it like an indie
(with lowered expectations)
and feign surprise
when it becomes
a critical favorite.

John Barry will write the score
and it will be triumphant,
exotic and sentimental
and it will win him
another Academy Award.

My costumes will be
specially tailored for me
and you’ll never see me
eating
anything.

The story will be
that I’m the lovable underdog,
a schlemiel Horatio Alger
and they’ll all root for me,
as David fighting some Goliath
as I’ll defy the odds
until I ultimately rise
and transcend past…

something
 (I haven’t worked that
part out yet).

I’ll hire an editor
who specializes in action films
with masterful pacing
so that every scene
builds in suspense
and tension.

In the movie of my life
everything will be smarter
faster
and better
than in real life.

All the people
I could never please,
and things I never did,
and every needless worry
I courted
won’t make the final cut,

and all kind words
belated wisdom
and quotable epigrams
left unspoken
will be dubbed in
during post-production.

The final indignity:
the movie of my life
will go
straight
to home video.

[Posted in honor of my 50th birthday this coming Friday.]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bad Boy and Family Man

I'm the guy you used to want.

I'm the one who snuck you
out the window of your
parent's house
and took you on my Harley
and we drank and rode all night
falling asleep in the wet grass
after fornicating behind the church
both of us knowing
you had an algebra test the next morning.

I'm the one who didn't take
any shit from anyone and though it
cost me a couple lousy jobs and
a high school diploma
you still acquiesced to
my fearless desire
because something in your soul
was lit when you were under
my alpha male charm.

There was no fight too small,
my fists leapt at every opportunity,
while I did heroic lines of coke
and stole what I didn't have
and I didn't care about tomorrow
and when marriage number one crashed and burned
I blamed her for it
and I did all these things
because that's what got me laid
and it felt right.

Now time has slowed me
and I have seen error of those ways.
I found a family
and maybe it was the kids that
finally softened me,

but most likely it was
my wife's love all along.

Now I wake up every morning
shave and put on a clean shirt
and I say "yes, sir" to a lot of guys
that I might have bitch-slapped
back in the day,
and I call home before I leave work
to ask if she needs anything
from the store
even if it's tampons.

I take out the trash,
help one daughter with her algebra,
pick up my son and his friend
and take them to the bowling alley,
and sit through another re-run
of "Full House" with my littlest one,

and sometimes,
in my quietest moments
both Bad Boy and Family Man
will appear to me
at the same time
asking the same question:

who are you?

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight - at www.dversepoets.com - come along and find your new favorite poet.  BTW, this is a re-posting of a poem I wrote in 2006. Everyday I'm posting autobiographical poems to commemorate my turning 50 years old later this week. ]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Retracing My Steps

When I started
I wanted to be Groucho Marx,
then I wanted to be
John Lennon
because they looked
confident,
distinct,
alive.

Hn high school
I wanted to be
John Travolta from
Saturday Night Fever.”

Then I became
Woody Allen,
then Richard Pryor
because they helped me feel
less ashamed
that I wasn’t
White or Christian.

In college
I wrote pointless plays
trying to be Neil Simon
and I tried to love
as easily as Leo Buscaglia.

Then I wanted to be
an iconoclast
so I tried being
Warren Farrell
and Lenny Bruce.

I became a drunk
trying to write like Bukowski
and I made a lot of lousy
demo recordings trying to be
Prince.

I loved and I tried
to salvage broken women
who refused my help
because I saw myself
as a mix
of Jesus Christ and
Rhoda Morgenstern:
I would prove
that I was better
than the rest
by loving the unlovable
especially
since I believed
I didn't deserve better
than that.

When I
married and became Pop-o
I tried to become my own father,
but that was a dead end too
especially since
he didn't have much faith in me
until I graduated from college.

So here I sit
at 43
retracing my steps
I smile at my folly,
realizing all these people
were only signposts
pointing me to
here and now.

This flower is still blooming
this song is not over yet
and I know I’m closer
to the dessert
than the appetizer,

and I’ve only recently figured out
that I’m my own
do-it-yourself project

and if I do it right
maybe
I’ll be a signpost
in someone else's life.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Starlight Ballroom

In the Starlight Ballroom
it is closing time.

The music turned tuneless,
the floor, littered
with used napkins
and discarded hopes.

He'll give the place
one last look,
finish off the drink
that's kept him company,

and remember
that laughing girl,

wondering
who's she with now?

It doesn't matter.

Tomorrow will bring
fresh glitter
and opportunities.

Finally,
when the music's over
as the lights come up,
he sees his counterparts
scattered like bodies
on a smoldering battlefield,

each one hopeless
lifeless and lost,

but the most disconcerting
thought is

how alike they all appear
this late
at night.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Do You Have a Dark Side?"

There is a fire
that never goes out,
never forgets
the list of injustices.

I tend this fire
and stoke it with
bitter memories,
afraid to forgive
lest I might forget.

This fire has kept
the pencil in my hand,
the guitar in my embrace,
the piano in my service.

"Why didn't you call?"
"Why didn't you write?"
"Why'd you do me like that?"

The passion
will never die
because there's always
something
to enrage my soul.

I will not
go gentle into that good
night.

I may look and act
like I've mellowed
but that's just a
strategy for disarming you,

because even if I am
a nearly invisible
84 year old
toothless man,

I'll still remember
what you did,

and I'll sidle up beside you
(you won't even recognize me)
and when no one's looking
I'll plunge my blade
into your side
and drag it up
and finally out,

and then I'll quietly
shuffle away.

Do I have a dark side?

Of course, I do.
It's just inside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Impossible Puzzle

I don’t trust
bright sunny
Tuesdays
in early September
anymore.
My plan was to write
nine stanzas of
eleven words each,
my poetic tribute
to the fallen,
but 99 words won’t say it
and 2,977 victims won’t
hear it.
12 years gone
and I am still
buried under
the weight of it all.
Underneath the
confetti rubble,
broken masonry,
shattered glass,
melted steel,
this heart weeps
angry
but impotent,
as nothing will undo the day
and repeated viewings
do not
desensitize me
as they should.
I want vengeance,
I want to wreak havoc
and mayhem,
but I know
that is not my domain.
I want blood,
but remember
that I have been saved
by His blood,
so I pray,
hopeful that it’s enough,
while trying to solve
this impossible puzzle
with 3D pieces
scattered
throughout the
galaxy,
and trying not
to give in to
the empty,
unforgiving silence.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight @www.dversepoets.com - my home away from home online. Come on and share your thoughts and feelings.]

Friday, September 06, 2013

To Any Girls with Bullets and Arrows

All the girls
who loved me and
eventually left me
knew I had a writing habit.

They kissed me on the cheek
and said things
that my heart heard as
“you need this pain for your art”
“you need to stretch yourself”
”it’ll be good for you to grow”
“you can do better than me.”

I suppose these phrases
were meant to console me,

but,
how dare they?

I don’t know if their goodbyes
improved my writing
or perhaps I passed my creative peak
long ago,

but store this away
all you girls with my name
on your bullets and arrows:

I’ve had enough of the pain
and tears just make the words
sound stupid anyway

and the morning after
is always worse
than the night before.

So,
even though your leaving
would fuel another contribution
to the canon of the
self-pitying written word
writ swollen and drunk
after midnight,

please
stay.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Post-Marriage, July 1994

After five years
of steady dating,
we became engaged
and a year after that
we were married
on the day
before Valentine’s Day, 1994.

Our marriage was weak
and hollow
and it seemed
the only things
we had in common
were buying things
and a limited history

but I forced a sickly smile
and I went through with it,

but it felt wrong
immediately.

Very soon
after we were married
it must have hit her too
because she was leaving earlier,
staying out later
and eventually,
she chose
her computer programming teacher
over me.

I left on the day
before Independence Day,

taking only
what I could pack
into the trunk
of my Honda,

and even though
I felt I lost everything,

I knew I hadn’t.

I still had
me
and whoever that was,
I was determined to
hold on to myself.

I was alone
and my face burned
with tears and humiliation,

and I did a million
self-destructive things,
spent money I didn’t have,
recklessly crashing
into others
who I treated like
fleshy furniture,

but somehow
I couldn’t
do enough
to do me in.

So,
I dressed slovenly,
on my days off
I didn't shave,
I slept in.

I hid,
became reclusive,
emerging only to venture out
to the video store
or to get more pizza.

I watched TV and ate
and let myself heal
and lapse back
into the pre-marriage slob
of who I really was,

and that felt right
immediately.

It felt good
to be reunited with
myself again.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Parachutists

Where we worship,
members come together 
every week,

out of their fear,
of the dark,
death,
loneliness.

Beyond logic
and rational self-interest,

in the brief moments
after the opening prayer
everyone suspends disbelief
and bids each other good morning,
offering friendship and love.

Holding hands 
they leap like parachutists,
holding onto each other
in free fall,
floating on love and faith
until they land
back in the world
where there are necessary
arbitrary boundaries.

It may not make sense,
but it doesn’t have to 
make sense.

Enough parachutists
could change the landscape,
but they would have to keep
holding hands 
long after they landed 
hard
on this dark 
and lonely planet.

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com - stop by for a hot cuppa poetry.]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Run Like a Child (For Rachel)

I wait for my daughter
to drive her home
when she is done
with middle school.

I remember her
younger
running to the car
-backpack bobbing and
her wide happy smile –
so giddy and alive
to see me.

Now she is changing,
becoming beautiful,
trying on new
phrases and associations
like they were hairstyles.

Her wide-eyed excitement
morphed into heavy-lidded
detachment
and slow moving feet
and slouching teenaged indifference.

I would never go back
to the awkward time
she is in,
I hated checking a million eyes
for confirmation
of what I was doing.

I watch her and I pray
that her blossoming
is more confident
less tortured
than mine was

I also pray that
sometimes
she’d run like a child
upon seeing me again.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Defined by My Weaknesses

Alcoholic.
Adulterer.
Liar.
Obese.

These self-imposed epithets
create the boundaries
of my self-concept.

I cannot drink
or sleep around
or tell a lie
or overeat.

I am kept on the
paths of sobriety
fidelity
integrity and
satiety
by these labels
and by the knowledge
that a thousand prurient eyes
and the possibility
of a chorus of
sadly clucking tongues
are all waiting for
my eventual failure.

So,
for those of you
keeping score:

alcohol-
23 and a half years

adultery-
not since I found the
one that would
wear my ring

lying –
would you even believe me?

obese –
I have to diet
to be considered
"just" overweight,

and for those of you
waiting for my
inevitable failure:

I’ll concede to you
the diet
but everything else
I keep close
like a scar
on my face,
so I’ll never forget
or get lazy
or slouch back
into the darkness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weenie-Reeto!

Growing up
my mom used to 
cook leftovers and 
roll them into 
warm flour tortillas
to make burritos
out of anything
and everything.

It didn't have to be 
refried beans or rice,
it could be scrambled eggs
and bacon 
or chili colorado.

She wasn't prejudiced,
food was food.

So, here's my contribution
to the canon of Mexican cuisine:

take one 
all-American hot dog
(the higher the fat content,
the more American)
and microwave it 
for 30 seconds
on a paper towel,

and while that's cooking,
heat over an open flame
one authentic
made-with-lard 
flour tortilla,
and allow it to burn
just a little bit 
like Grandma Trini used to,
and then say 
“the burned part 
is good for you,”

next, unwrap a slice
of American cheese 
and place it 
on the tortilla,
top with the hot dog 
and zap it another 
30 seconds,

then squirt it with
a line of ketchup
(or catsup),

 and roll it up
(don’t forget 
to tuck the bottom in, 
a rookie mistake)

and presto,
you have a weenie-reeto!

The perfect 
all-American snack 
for hungry 
culturally-assimilated 
Mexicans
everywhere!

Es delicioso!

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at www.dversepoets.com where my poetry vatos rock it weakly, but not weekly!  Orale, vamanos!]

Friday, August 23, 2013

Off-White

In pictures with Browns
I look White,
and in pictures of Whites
I look Brown.

Torn between two cultures
feeling like un tonto.

I grew up watching
the Brady Bunch
but listening
to Cheech and Chong.

When I caught a cold
I learned that chicken soup
is ok,
but menudo with
freshly ground oregano
worked better for me,

and a tricked out
Chevy lowrider
beat an SUV
hands down for me.

Pride in my heritage
didn’t start
with achievements or icons,
it started
when I was
no longer embarrassed
that I wasn’t
something else.

Not quite White
Not quite Brown:

Proudly, defiantly

Off-White.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Return to Sender (For Brian Miller)

The blonde cheerleader
tracked me down,
a schlumpy, Mexican freshman,
to retrieve
the carnation and note
intended for
her boyfriend, the quarterback,
who just happened
to share my name.

With eyes averted,
I handed her
the torn-open envelope
which contained
her delicate cursive:

“I want to suck
your big brown machine.”

Welcome to high school.

[Written for #MeetingTheBar at dversepoets.com - it's Brian's birthday, so write him a present!]

Time and Luck

Drive and desire
they'll tell you
are what you need
to make it.

Also time
and luck,

the two dimensions
over which we
are powerless,

because the greatest
of all could be
on their way to
their
appointment with destiny,

and they'll miss their stop
or will be mistakenly shot
in a drive-by
or will have finally slept with
the right connection
who unexpectedly had
that 2nd heart attack
his doctor warned him about.

So while I try not
to whip myself
over my lack of
drive and desire
I also do not hold
God
accountable for the
breezy passage of time
or for the luck
bad and good
that visits me.

The fame machine
is very random
and waiting for it
is another form of
playing the lottery.

I'd rather enjoy it all
in this moment now
scratching out my insides
for someone other than
myself.

In case I am
unexpectedly found
dead at 42

perhaps these writings
will be my triumph
over my absence
time and luck.