Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Her Greatest Gift

Through the smoke
and patches of blaze
still smoldering,
I see her
and I cannot help
my movement toward her:

I must be
by her side.

That is where I belong,
where I thrive.

Christmas after Christmas
we collect memories,
all our own,
that no one can touch.

Every year,
I gratefully remember
her greatest gift
to me:

I have never
wished to be
anywhere else,

never envied
another’s coupling,

since I found my place
beside her.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Off-White Christmas

One Christmas
I ventured far from
the West Coast
land of my ancestors
and spent the holidays
in Maryland
where the people
were pleasant
and surprisingly
multicolored.

On Christmas Day
as I strolled the boulevard
with my white companion,
a warm blanket of security
and belonging
and perhaps universal
love
surrounded me,

and as we walked past
others I greeted them

“Merry Christmas!”
“Happy Holidays!”
“Season’s Greetings!”

I was thankful
for the profound effect
the birth of Jesus
had on peoples' kindness.

It felt good.

Two young white men
approached us
and they appeared to be
more than a little drunk
and carrying a few more
6-packs
back to their home
and as they walked by
they said something,
and I answered them with
“Merry Christmas”

but something didn’t feel right.

I stopped and
looked at my companion
whose face betrayed
a puzzled expression.

She asked
“didn’t you hear
what they said?”

“Didn’t they say
‘Merry Christmas’
or something like that?”

She said
“No, they said
‘Happy Beaner Christmas.’”

Shit.
Really?
On Christmas?

I shrugged it off -
what can you expect from
a couple of
gabachos borachos?

Perhaps they had their fill
of love and brotherhood
this holiday season and
my appearance afforded them
an unexpected chuckle.

Perhaps
they saw me as a gift
from their twisted
and diseased god.

Mercifully,
I was scheduled to return
to Southern California
the next day

and I’ve decided that
I’ll spend the rest
of my Christmases here

just as my ancestors
always have.

(Notes: "Beaner" is a derogatory term for Mexican-Americans, which is what I am.  Gabachos borachos translates to "drunken White men.")

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Enemy, Defined

To people like us,
the enemy is clear:

creativity,
the flight of the feather
is weighed down
by the brick
of perfection.

It can never
be attained
by human hands,

so stop trying.

The quest for
perfection
arrests the dreams
and ambitions
and freezes them
in a cycle of review
and rewrite.

So, stop trying.

Rather,
burrow deeper within
and find the
soft
sweet
center

and then
go back there
daily,

taking everything
you see,
dipping it inside
and then
bring it out,
let it dry,
buff to a high polish,
then put it
on display.

It won’t be perfect
but it will be
yours and only yours

and you won’t be
paralyzed
or feel compelled
to make that

Big Statement,

but you’ll make
of lot of
small honest statements,

sometimes
30 days in a row.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December

I’ve no rustic,
romantic imagery
of cabins
in the snow.

No,
December is cold
and wet
and harsh,

but when experienced
under warm blankets,
against the soft skin
of a loved one,

December can be
a quiet respite,
a sacred prayer.

December softly
compels an accounting,
demands
a grateful response.

Days run out
the calendar,
hours run out
the daylight.

With certainty,
there will be
tomorrows,
and blooms
will dot
the near-naked
branches,
the chill will
escape from
these bones,

and I’ll await
December again,
trying to love it all
not as a memory
nor a mirage,

but rather
as a moment.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How to Live Forever

“Well,
not every experiment works.

We try and learn from the stuff
that doesn’t work as well.

Not everyone can discover penicillin,
you know.

So,
even though you still
have not unlocked
the mystery of mortality
perhaps,
you amused  yourself,
and that’s something.

The captain said
“the reward is in the doing,

and if that’s not the truth,
then you
better find something else
to do.”

Whatever you’ve got
in front of you,
lowly and modest
though it be,

experience it,
live it,
inhale it,
jump in it
and splash about
and from that

make something
that will outlast you:

the best would be
if you made
your life
a glorious gift,

freely given
to everyone.

It would be
so beautiful,

that your love would
outlast you,
outlive you,

and that’s’ how
you live
forever.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bequeathed

"Here's how we're
going to do this:

take all those boxes
labeled
"Writings: 1977-1994"

make sure they are
double sealed and
and put them in
the archive stack.

No one's going
to want to read
those,
besides everyone
he wrote those for
are either long dead
or married.

Then there's that
plastic bin
of cassette demo tapes.

I don't think
he's ever going
to bounce those
to digital,
so I think we can
archive those too.

Then,

all his stuff from
online....sheesh 
it's scattered
everywhere.

It's like he had no
discretion
just because he wrote
under a pseudonym.

You have all the
passwords, right?

OK, then
here's what you do:
go through
each site
and take each one offline.

Don't delete them,
just don't let
anyone see them
until his daughter
has had a chance
to see them,
to review them.

Well,
since he
bequeathed
to her
all the rights
to all his artistic
(yeah, right)
artistic products,

until she decides
how to proceed,

I guess we can consider
Buddah Moskowitz
offline indefinitely.

For now.

Wow,
it just hit me
that he's really gone."

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Consultation

"Hey, Danny,
listen before
the girls get back,

I gotta
ask you something:

I'm thinking about
marrying Anita.
What do you think?

Great.
Yes, I agree,
she's a phenomenal woman.

Yes,
I love the kids,
they just sweetened
the deal.

No, no tonight,
but I'm planning
to propose
on my birthday.

Yeah,
great, thanks,
and obviously,

don't tell anyone.

Thanks, Sh!

Here they come."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Gold Experience

"Of course,
we can make that
happen,
silly.

You're one of
my favorites.

Ok, let's make sure
we're on
the same page:

So, you're looking
for the
"Silver Experience?"

Oh, "Gold?"

That's a better deal
because it starts
with a warm stone
table bath,
including the
pomegranate scrub.

And we'll follow
that up with the
full-orifice lubrication
with imported
Middle East
saffron oil,
including all-digital
full prostate gland
stimulation.

Following that
you get the
full-body
45-minute
skin-on-skin
Swedish Massage.

And
by that time,
if I've done
my job right,
you'll probably be
ready for
Arrival Expression.

So, let me total
that out,

just a sec...

So, that comes
to $740,
before tax and tip.

We take all cards
(except American Express)
and, of course,
cash.

Yes,
cash is
best of all."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Last Words

"I said
everything
I needed to say.

You found me
guilty anyway.

I don't expect
any mercy,
any understanding.

That's beyond the scope
of what you mere mortals
will ever  understand.

So I leave you here
but my blood is
on your hands,
my death is
on your head.

Someday
when the evidence finally
exonerates me,

you'll see.

But,
how are you going to make it up
to my kids?

You're taking away
their father,
and you know it was all
circumstantial.

You will have to lived
with this.

I won't.

I'm free.

That's all."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Do You Have a Hotline to God?

“No, she didn’t make it
today.

Well, she’s been having a lot
of ups and downs lately.

Mostly downs.

Yes,
she still sees
Dr. Emma,
but she’s kind of lost
faith in science and
medicine.

She has
what they call
Treatment-Resistant
Depression.

She’s tried pills.

Yah, she’s
tried that one…

and that one…

yes, and that one too.

We just got
the name and number
of a psychiatrist
at Loma Linda
who performs
ECT.

Electro-Convulsive
Therapy.

No, it’s not like
in Cuckoo’s Nest

It’s more controlled
than that.

Yes, we know it’s extreme,
but so is
having my 19 year old
daughter in constant
psychological pain.

No,
I don’t think
she’ll want that.

Because she’s been
praying for respite for years,
and what makes you think
your special prayer group can help?

Do you have
a hotline to God?

I’m sorry,
I’m not trying to be rude,
but I have a daughter
who hates being alive
so much
that she’s
investigating countries
where they have
assisted suicide.

Yes, I know.

Look,
if you want to pray,
don’t let me stop you,
but

after all this time,
I admit I’ve lost
some of my faith.

Who wouldn’t?

Maybe you should
pray for me
too.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Day After Thanksgiving

"Thank you
for coming and
helping out.

Well,
you probably can
help out
in the kitchen,
but honestly...

at the moment
we've actually got
more volunteers
than we need...

yeah,
but that won't be
for long.

There'll be another
wave soon,
but I'll give you
this tip about
volunteering:

on the big holidays,
especially like Easter
and Thanksgiving,
people always come
out big to help...

but do you know
when we
really need help?

The day after Thanksgiving,
the week before Christmas,
the month preceding Easter...
you get it?

No,
we don't need your help
just on the days
when you remember
the poor,
the hungry,
and the homeless,

they need your help
on ordinary days when
they're forgotten.

OK, I see some folks
just came in,

you, find them a place
to sit
and you,
follow me
to the kitchen."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our First Thanksgiving

"From this
vantage point,
all we can see
is a peaceful
bluish planet
in silent orbit
in a stardusted
dark infinite.

We have our
freeze-dried turkey,
and the reconstituted
cranberry sauce,
and some
pumpkin pie paste
we can suck out of
this tube.

We're going
to try and make this
as close to home
a possible.

Our first Thanksgiving
in this floating
space station,
and we have much
to be grateful for,

but the nagging thought
persists:

who is already
out here
that we're preparing
to displace?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Since the Turkeys Took Over

Can’t catch
my breath!

Since the
turkeys took over
it’s been
RUN!
RUN!
RUN!

No, I don’t know
how it happened
but damn it,
it’s real!

They don’t care
if you’re Vegan,
they’re out
for blood!

For God’s sake,
stay in
on Black Friday!

[for D'verse Quadrille Challenge.https://dversepoets.com/2016/11/21/quadrille-21-take-a-breath/]

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bad Timing

“Hi Stacia,
thanks for meeting
me now.

What?

Oh, it already
came in
the mail?

Good.

There’s something
that I need to tell you
and I don’t want to
wait any longer.

I don’t think
we should
see each other
anymore.

There’s someone who
was in my life
for awhile and
now she’s
come back into my …

no, it’s not Darra.

And, well, I think
I want to pursue
that relationship,
and I don’t want
to be unfair to you,
and…

I’m sorry.

I didn’t mean
to…

ok.

What?

Uh, yeah,
just ignore that
Valentine’s Day card
that came today.

I’m sorry,
for the bad timing.”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

How Marriage #1 Ended

“Hey, Lan,
I know what you did.

Yes, the management company
give me a copy
of the cancelled
check.

Right, I
can see that you forged my signature.

Were you not going to tell me
that you got it?

No,
no,
no, you’re not entitled
to all of it.
You’re not even entitled
to half of it
if you ask me.

Hey, I didn’t fuck up
our marriage
only two months into it.
That was you.

By the way, how’s Steve?

Does you read you
his bank statement
when he’s fucking you?
You’re such a
money-grubbing whore,
I know that would
get you off.

Ok, whatever.

Look,
the bottom line is that
you forged my signature
and took my half of the money.

Listen,
listen,
listen!

Lan, I’m give you exactly
one chance to
do the right thing
and stay out of jail.

If you don’t deliver
my half of the money
by tomorrow night at 6pm,
I’m going to
the Corona Police Department
and having you arrested
for grand larceny.

Hello?
Do you understand?

Do you understand?

Ok, whatever, I’ll give you
a 15 minute grace period,

but if my money isn’t left
in my mailbox
by 6:15,
then at 6:16
I’m going to the police.

Do you understand?

Good!

What?

Ha! Don’t worry,
after this is done
I never want
to see you again
either!

With friends
like you...

look, just get me
my money
by tomorrow
at 6:15.

Nope, that’s all,
we’re done.

Goodbye, Lan.”

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Voice Mail from December 24, 2001

"Hi,
this is Teresa.

I just wanted
to leave you
this message
on your phone
this Christmas Eve.

I know we're not
together anymore
but I wanted
to let you know
that my Christmas gift
to you
is that you don't
have to spend
anymore Christmas Eves
with me.

That's my gift
to you,
and that's how
things should be.

So, I hope you
and your new girlfriend
have a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
together.

OK, bye."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thankful

"No,
I don’t know you,
but you know me.

Every year,
right around Thanksgiving,
the LA local news
show the homeless,
lined up and waiting
for Thanksgiving dinner
at the Fred Jordan Mission.

I’m that guy –
I’m always the one they
talk to.

Yeah, the homeless problem’s
pretty bad out here, but
the way they film it,
you know,
they way they cut it,
it looks like
there’s camaraderie here,
and that it's almost fun.

they show
lots of people
and tents,
maybe some dogs.
They make it look like
all we’re missing is
the s’mores.

And because it’s LA,
it’s never snowing or raining
so it makes for a nice
“this year
let's all be Thankful
for what we've got,
and be thankful
you’re not one of
these poor wretched souls”
story.

They make it feel like
by just watching the story
about the homeless,
that you’ve actually
done something
to help.

Well,
I don’t mind
going on camera
and talking about it-

Right!
I probably qualify
for my SAG/AFTRA card
as many times as
I been on TV –

but it’s not getting better.

No, it’s getting worse, and
I’m getting discouraged, and
it just keeps getting
colder."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Voice Within, A Transcription

"You ain't foolin'
no one,
mutherfucka.

It only looks like
you have this talent
because you keep taking
the same 5 events
in your life
and recasting them
as new
to the ever changing
coterie of followers
who think they're new
or worse, insightful.

You ain't saying nothing
that you already didn't say in
1998,
1994,
1987, 1985, etc. blah blah blah.

Why do you keep
at it?

Nobody,
underline that,
nobody reads you
and if they do
it's because
they feel sorry
for your ignored
and unread ass.

Nope,
I don't get it,
You just wasting
your time
and what's the
payoff?

Is there going to be
a
marathon
poetry
reading
of all your shit
at your funeral?

Do you still think
you're gonna be
discovered
and become a star
in your 50's, schmuck?

You ain't getting laid
from any of this shit
now
and it sure
ain't gonna happen
anytime
in the near future.

So, why?

Love?
That's an illusion
and you can't trust it.

Every woman
who ever took you
to their soft, perfumed
bosom
did so out of pity.

They didn't want you.

Hell, even the one
that wears your ring,
she only
throws you a bone
every now and then
just to keep you
mollified.

Listen,
why do any of this?

Why even try?

The truth is
no one'll remember you
after you log off,
sign off,
retire and die.

Hell,
your time would be better off
rather than struggling
with these competing voices,

just go off someplace
and jerk yourself off.

I mean,
someplace beside here."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Non-Compliant Patient

“So, Mrs. Moskowitz,
your numbers look
…ok…
for the most part,
but I’m still worried
about your blood pressure.

Are you taking your meds?

I know it’s difficult
to remember to take them
all but, it’s …

Yes, I know, it’s been
a rough week,
most everyone
I know has been upset by the
election, but still…

Well, do the meds give
you any bad side effects?

Yes, I know
it’s hard to remember
when you’ve got problems in
your personal life, but…



Well, then
maybe what you need
to do is get
one of those pill boxes
with the days of the…

You have some?

So, I don’t understand,
why won’t you take…?

Well, it’s all connected:
if you get your blood pressure
under control,
it’ll help that pain
in your kidneys…

yes, it’s all connected,
Mrs. Moskowitz.

I mean, your numbers
have been … ok,
these past few visits,
but that luck
won’t hold out forever.

Well, no, I wouldn’t agree
with your son
that you have a death wish, but …


most likely,
you’re not going to go
in a sudden
quick flash,
but rather,
you’re increasing
your chance of stroke,
and you’ve already…

right,
two strokes already.

I’d like to see you
back
in two months,
and please,
please,
just take your meds,
everyday.

Please?”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Charise

“The secret to
my happy marriage?

Once a week
I go to different
places like
Home Depot,
or Lowe's
or anywhere you see all those
Mexicans hanging
around the parking lot
looking for day-labor.

I look for the
most handsome,
cleanest looking
young man,
I don’t care
if he can speak English.

I tell him
I have some
light handyman work
for him to do
and we negotiate
a price.

He follows me back
to my place,
but before he gets
to work,
I ask him to wait.

Then I slip away
to the guest room
where I change into
lingerie,
something from
Victoria’s Secret
that shows off my legs
and my tits.

Then I call him
into the bedroom,
and I’m stretched out
on the bed
with an unmistakable smile.

You remember
that thrill of a new lover,
that feeling
of a young, hard body
on top of you,
warm muscles
and a strong throbbing,
hard and deep
inside you?

Well, I do,
because I get it
every week.

After he’s done,
I pay him
and he leaves.

Then,
when Randy comes home,
just before
he falls asleep,
I play a DVD
of the sex tape
I secretly made with
the day laborer,

and remind him

“This is for
fucking that
fat slut receptionist
in your office.”

One of these days,
I’ll tire of this
and forgive him.

Or not.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meanwhile, In Marketing...

"Ok, I'll make this quick:
we're having trouble
marketing the product
for Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas sales.

No, forget Tom Turkey.
The vegans
ain't gonna buy that bullshit.

What?
A free-range turkey?
Who gives a shit!
The schmucks
who still
eat meat
are goddamned gluttons,
what do they care
about a turkey's welfare?

No, get off
those whole turkey theme.

What's that?
Pilgrims?
You wanna base a campaign
around killjoys
who didn't drink booze,
are you kidding?

Besides we're already
having a bitch of a time
selling that new
Pumpkin Pie Spice Ale.

Who cares
it's locally brewed?
The stuff reeks like piss
and tastes worse.

How would I know?
Hysterical.

Listen,
if we don't
find a way to move
this product by
Thanksgiving,
someone's getting
the chop.

What?
Something with
the first Thanksgiving?
With Indians?
Do you want to get
our balls sued off us?
It's Native Americans,
you idiot!

And, no,
Native Americans test badly.
Nobody wants to throw
any money their way
unless its a casino.

Wait...
maybe we're going about this
the wrong way.

What's Thanksgiving about,
at its root?

Right,
thankfulness,
gratitude.

Taking the time
to slow down and appreciate,
everything you've been
given.

We could show
lots of people,
all different demos,
telling what they're thankful for,
and what brings them all together?

Right,
the client's product!

OK, you two,
Rabinowitz and Wong,
you're in charge of this.

Remember,
keep it tasteful.
Remember that whole
gratitude angle.

Yes, by Black Friday
I want everyone talking at
their family dinners about
JackRabbit Thrustin' Vibrators!

And try to remember
we've had soft-market penetration
with the over 65 set,
so make sure
you hook them as well.

OK,
you've got your orders.

Go!"

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Phone Transcript, November 2, 1994

"Listen, motherfucker
I know
what you did
and I'm going
to kill you.

Don't act
like you don't know
who this is!

I know
what you did
to my wife,
you took her
to your house,
laid her
on the bed
and raped her!

I KNOW
WHAT YOU DID
AND I KNOW WHERE
YOU LIVE
AND I'M GOING
TO KILL YOU!

I'm from the East
and you know what we do
to guys like you?

All's I'm saying
is you better
pack up and
leave town.
I know where you
live!

I HAVE A GUN
AND I'M COMING OVER
TO SHOOT YOU!

I KNOW THE
DAY YOU DID IT!
SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE
SHOPPING FOR
MY BIRTHDAY PRESENT!

All I'm saying is
you better leave town
and find another job!

YOU RAPED
MY WIFE!
I'M GONNA KILL YOU!"

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Phoning in a Personal Day

"Hi,
it's me.

Yeah.
No, I won't be
coming in today.

No, it was
Sarah.

She tried again
last night.

No,
thankfully,
she didn't have enough
pills to
do any lasting damage.

Yeah,
well, she's
on a 72 hour hold.

No,
first I'm going
to sleep for awhile.
We didn't get home
until 5:15 this
morning.

OK, thanks,
yeah.

Look,
I might need
some more time off
later in the week,
when she comes home.

I just don't want her
home alone
for awhile,

at least, not until we
suicide-proof it.

Yeah,
I'll try
to get some rest,
but I've got lots
of bad adrenaline
still flying around, so...

Hm?
Thanks, I'll take any help
I can get,

even prayers,
especially prayers.

Yeah,
ok thanks,
talk to you later .

Bye bye."

Friday, November 11, 2016

My Soul Shook

"So I'm sitting there
in the chapel,
holding my
91 year old
Grandma Trini
who doesn't
speak English,
who is sobbing
in Mexican tears,
mourning the taking
of another son.

I'm at a loss
because I love her
and I cannot
say the right thing
to calm her,
to comfort her.

This is the woman
who loved me and
let me sneak cookies
from her kitchen
and was always
happy to see me,
what could I do
to help her?

From somewhere
inside
and completely outside,
I said to myself,

"God, please help me.
Help me find
the right thing
to say
to make her feel better."

Then
a competing voice
in my head said,

"Shmuck,
you're an atheist."

I didn't fully
comprehend it then
and I still don't,

but right then
my soul shook,

and it hasn't
stopped shaking
since."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Kookoo Savant and My Secret Weapon

"Yes, it's been
a rough year, Kookoo.

So many things
went wrong.

Now, I can't even
fathom
how we're going
to get through.

My country is divided
between gloaters
and the glum,

the have nots and
the have more
than you can imagine,

us and them.

So,
even though
it seems dark now,
I have a secret weapon:

when I flew out
out to Missouri
to bring you home
after being away
for three weeks,

you came down
the stairs
of your friend's
budget apartment,

in pajamas
way too late in the day,
your red mop
frenetically free,
and your wide
unforced smile,
your face's fingerprint,
that's the happiest
I felt in a long time.

That memory
sustains me,
carries me,
tides me over.

Just remember,
Kookoo Savant,
everything changes
and you can always
come back home."

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Now, Kiss Me

“I’m sorry
you can’t
come with me
on this path.

This path
I must walk
may be lined
with devils and imps,
the flames of hell,
so I’ll not be
taking you.

No,
you stay here
and breathe in
the mist of the ocean,
the grandeur
of grilled onions,
honeysuckle wafting
in the breeze
for me.

I’ll send you
a signal
when I reach
the other side,
maybe in a dream
or when the radio plays
the DelFonics
just when you need
to hear it.

This is
the longest trip
I’ll ever make
and I am
not taking
anything,
except the memory
of your smiling face.

Like that,
right there.

Oh,
how I'll miss you.

Now,
kiss me
and I’ll sign that
“Do Not Resuscitate”
order.”

[For Poets United - Wednesday challenge - path]

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Stephanie

“This isn’t what
I expected.

What’s she doing
here?

Yeah, she’s one of those
pious church ladies.
Everything is
“Jesus this” and
“God Bless Whatever”.

Is she here to pray
for me?
Probably wants me
to change
my ways.

“Come to see the light.
Get right with Jesus.”

What a crock.

Is that my Dad?
Where’d they find him?
And did he do
all his time
or did he make
early release?

Don’t come nearer.
No, agh!
Don’t kiss my forehead,
you miserable fuck.

You’re lucky
I’m in this goddamned coma,
because I’d bust your ass
if I could,
you selfish prick.

Don’t stare.
Don’t you know it’s not polite
to stare at someone
who can’t stare back?

Just get out.




Wait,
is that…
no, it can’t…

Stephanie?

Steffy?
oh my God.

Don’t cry, honey.
I'm sorry you have to
see me this way.

Ain’t you married
no more?
Where’s your
wedding ring?

Shh. Shh.
Don’t cry.

I forgot how
your head felt
resting on
my chest.

That memory feels
a million miles away
now.

Steph?

Steph,
I’m sorry
I let you go.

I’m sorry
I couldn’t change.

I’m sorry
I took that corner so fast.

Steph,
if I get out of this,
can we,
you know,
try again?”

[Written for https://dversepoets.com/ and http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/ ]

Monday, November 07, 2016

I Wasn't Breastfed?

“Mom,
the latest research says
you deprived me of
necessary chemicals,
so now,

I am an adult
searching endlessly for

that essential tenderness,
that intimacy denied,

parting
my vulnerable pink lips,
waiting for a nipple,
some milk,

all because
I didn’t suckle
on cue.”

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Protection

"It's rough here, right?

Well,
it could've been worse,
but everyone knows
you're with me,
so they know
not to fuck with you
or else
they have to deal
with me.

This is how it is:
once you learn
the hang of it,
it's pretty easy.

You want some more
toilet wine?
Yeah, it ain't champagne
but it'll get the job done.

The shower help relax you?
Good.

OK, this is it.
Come on.
You know what I want.
Right.
Just relax.
No, relax.

Listen, you want me
to throw you
to the wolves?

I mean it, man.

I'm not fucking around
here.

Get on your knees,
and open your mouth
and make me feel
good.

And if I feel any teeth,
I'll kill you,
bitch."

Prayer of the Uncertain

"Dear God,

I've run out
of things to ask for,
because I don't want
to seem greedy
or get my hopes up,
but...

help me
to get to the point
where I am joyful
at whatever
nonsensical hell
you send my way.

Help me
to stop asking for help.

Help me
to just be here now.

Help me
to stop picturing you
as an eternal daddy,
and treat you
like a friend.

No, better than a friend,
better than a parent.

Help me
treat you like my God.

But don't make it
too difficult,
we both know
I have problems
with follow through.

Okay, amen,
I guess."

Friday, November 04, 2016

Nowadays, You Can’t Just Pluck an Apple,

“This is a beautiful apple.

It’s a Granny Smith,
green and tart and juicy.

I’ve always loved them
and I haven’t had one
in years.

They put me in mind
of when I was a kid
and we’d pluck ‘em
right off the tree.
Nobody cared
who they belonged to.

There was
nothing better.

Those were
the days before
everything changed,
and everything became
more
complicated.

Nowadays
you can’t just
pluck an apple,
you’ll get sued ,
or worse yet,
arrested.

Everybody’s got their
precious rights.

It ain’t like
the old days

No,
that’s why I did it.

I wasn’t trying
to hurt anybody.

I want America
to be great again.

How was I
to know
there was someone
inside that church?

It was dark inside.

Well,
I guess it doesn’t matter
anymore.

Please,
just do me a favor
and make sure you vote
the right way,

because they won’t
let me vote
anymore.

Yeah, it’s ironic.

This is a fine way
to treat a true patriot
like me.”

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Calling Dr. Chau

“Look, I realize
you don’t understand me
and I’m not trying to be
condescending
when I say that.

I know you don’t speak
English, doctor,
but just keep nodding
like that
and I’ll keep talking.

I come here because
I can say anything
I want
and I don’t fear judgment,
I don’t fear
the moral recrimination,

you just smile,
and nod your head
(sometimes you write
something down)
and after 50 minutes
I get up
and give you a check
and point out
on the wall calendar
when I’ll be back.

Therapy
used to be
me putting on
another persona,
saying different lines,
still trying to impress
or amuse
the practitioner,
and I’ve never had
a breakthrough.

Now,
I come in,
I talk, I don’t talk
I pay attention,
I nap.
I read.
I meditate.

Finally,
a place
with no demands,
no responsibilities,
no schedule.

I can just
be me.

Now,
that’s therapeutic.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Tingled, but Entangled

“Remember when
we were first
thrust together
in that college
acting class,
instantly pulled together
with undeniable velocity?

Everyone could tell
when we performed
our class final exam,
a scene including
a kiss so passionate,
and prolonged
it was almost comic.

But you remember
the problem:
I was with someone else,
entangled,
so what we glimpsed
could only be hinted at,
sampled,
but never consumed.

We kept tiptoeing
around the borders
of our friendship,
pushing it
until something
or someone
was bound to break.

Then you got engaged.

What was his name?
Tim.
Right, Tim.

Something wasn’t right
because the electricity,
that tingle,
wasn’t extinguished.

Then,
I found myself
no longer entangled,
unfettered by neither
obligation and morality.

I made the offer,
you accepted,
and unclothed
between naked sheets,
we gave in
and it was everything,
every tingle promised.

In the afterglow,
you mused about
whether you should tell Tim,
and at that point,
I knew we were doomed.

I don’t blame you
for weakening,
for confessing.

I secretly think
you wanted out,
and you acted on that,

but It doesn’t matter now
because we haven’t talked
in thirty years,

and I can’t help
but feel guilt
and remorse and sadness
because I still miss you,

especially when I hear
that song,
that syrupy pap playing
when we made love

and drove any tomorrows
we may have wanted
over the cliff.

So,
I’m sorry, Katy.”
[And here's that song I remember.]

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Orale, Ese (Pronounced Oh-Rah-Lay Es-Say)

"Orale,

I've been waiting
for you, ese.

Where've you been?

Yeah, I know,
you're alive and kicking,
and no one wants
to come down
to the cemetery
on their day off.

I've been watching you,
from here,
and you're still
kind of a boring
guy, pocho.
Jes' kiddin', ese.

I get it.
I'd trade with you
if I could.

Why you keep
looking at your watch?

Yeah, I know
you got kids waiting
for their Chick-Fil-A
but first,

I dunno,

just think of me
sometime,
you know?

You don't have to put up
a whole ofrenda 
or anything,

but when you hear
Trio Los Panchos,
or when you get that
warm, full feeling
after you eat menudo,

think of me,
en Espanol, tambien.

Ok, that's all,
thanks, senor. 

Adios, ese."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Long, Brown Line

The line at the AM/PM
was long
and short
and dark brown.

These day laborers
who manicure the lawns
of the wealthy

and add the aftermarket
water fountains
to the McMansions

were stocking up
for the day:
coffee,
chewing tobacco,
and 2 for 1 hot dogs
overstuffed with
free condiments.

I look like I could be
related to them
through some long brown line
of ancestry.

They would
probably speak respectfully
to my mom,
probably work hard all day in the sun and
probably are here
illegally.

I stood at
at the end of the line
with another kind of brown.

He reminded me of
my dad:
He looked like
he was first-generation
Mexican-American,
who grew up
aspiring to assimilate..

He looked like
he earned the American Dream
owned his own home
sent his kids through college,
and even voted Republican.

I don’t know
what he assumed about me,
in my suit and tie
on my way to
my white collar job
in academia.

Perhaps he thought
he’d found a kindred spirit.

Referring to that line of
brown distant relatives ahead,
he turned to me
and in tones
mocking and conspiratorial
said

“Boy, Immigration would have
a field day here, huh?”

At that point
he stopped reminding me
of my dad.

I gave him
the cold, indifferent stare
I reserve for racists
and the otherwise
aggressively
ignorant

and channeled my father:
and I replied,
“No se.”

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Challenge Remains

He made it
simple yet profound,

like a still pond,
a crow flying away,
a night hiding stars,
a misunderstood sob,
a narcotic slumber,
a perfectly-sweetened coffee,
a silent funeral,
humble, serving love,
electric anticipation,
a familiar embrace,
the dog dancing hello,
the crack of the bat,
new music from old strings.

I first heard him
when I was 17
and the challenge
remains steadfast:

he not busy
being born
is busy dying.
[Written for Kerry at Real Toads - the line comes from my favorite Bob Dylan song "It's Alright, MA, I'm Only Bleeding." Time to listen to it again. ]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Whatever It Is

Whatever it is
inside every living being
that makes it all
go,

lived in the flower
I saw growing out
of an open bag
of sand and concrete mix
out back by the trash cans.

That desperate,
unceasing,
mad energy
kept it stretching

skyward,

reaching out
to
the other side
of the Sun,

where the
face of God
was smiling.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Best Decision I Made Today

I stare
pen poised,
waiting
to shape this pain,
this suffering
into art.

Hours pass.

I surrender the pen
and decide to play
"Blood on the Tracks"
and enjoy
Bob Dylan's pain
and suffering
for awhile.

[Congratulations to Bob Dylan for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. Posted for #MeetingTheBar at dversepoets.com - a poetic oasis.]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Twin Serpents

Take this desire
and tie it to memory
and purify it in the flames.

My ego is a zombie
of unquenchable thirst
and it needs more brains
than I have to feast upon.

I do not want
a mirror made of
website hits
and reader posts.

Take these
twin serpents
and wash me clean.

Lord, hold me under
long enough
to drown
all these predictable
demons

and raise me up
through this baptism

anew,

without memory,
a virtuous
happy
amnesiac.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Autumn (A Quadrille)

Some call it fall
but Autumn has gravitas.

Everything engages my senses:
leaves crunching underfoot,
green apples
and cinnamon wafting,
sundown hastening,
in a cloudless sky,
I marvel.

She’s a mournful beauty,
a defiant burst of color,
before surrendering
to the sleep
of winter.

[for D'Verse Poets a Quadrille, if you will with the word "cloud."]

Friday, October 07, 2016

No Escape

Somewhere else
is what I want

but right here
is all I'm gonna get

and all I need
according to God.

So I'll walk through it
without booze
or pills
or illicit thrills.

You walked through
this howling madhouse
of no escape
and let them
nail you to the cross
where you died for me.

Jesus,
you suffered for me
and now
I pray
I can
return the favor.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Counteract


Upon rising, faithful like a robot, I make my way to the bathroom, eyes-still mostly shut and open the appropriate partition. I shake the pills loose, a white one for diabetes, a green and white capsule for scalp nerve pain, and a clear, urine-colored vitamin D3. At night, I add Simvastatin to slow the inevitable clogging of my arteries, along with more diabetes and nerve pain meds. I don’t fight this ritual, as it is a small price to pay for staying alive for (perhaps) one more day, one more starry sky, one more orgasm into her perfect, contoured being.

I swallow good pills
hoping they will counteract
the bad I swallowed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Welcome to My Mind

Something’s not right,
yet there’s nothing
to point at.

It’s a cold jittery jangle
in my chest --
my limbs ticklish
and waiting to spring
into action.

My brain restlessly
turning over every stone
with no clue
what it is looking for,
but I know it’s feverishly working
because my head
is sweating.

Of all the things
that can go wrong
which will it be?
My wife?
My kids?
My job?
My car?

Popping and jumping,
my mind reconstructs
past events
looking for the telltale clue,
the smoking gun,
the fatal flaw.

What is coming
that will undo me?

I try to predict when
and where my good luck
will dry up and blow away
like daisies
in a sandstorm.

“Trust in God”
“If God is with me”
etc etc etc
holy holy, …

God is calm,
no reason not to be.

God likes seeing me off-balance
every now and again,
keeps me humble
keeps me compliant

and God’s probably right
to do so

because we both know me
and if I am not on my toes
I get lazy
and the pencil remains ignored.

So this anxiety
is the call
to creation
to inquiry
to reconnection.

This connection doesn’t kill
the shivering anxiety
but it comforts me
for a while

as I wait for
the other shoe to drop.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Plastic Heart

My heart no longer
is bloody or visceral.
I fear it has become
through sheer repetitious
brutality
colder immune and
surprisingly plastic.

A plastic heart
isn’t bad at all.

It can get thrown around
and it doesn’t break
years won’t fade
its beauty or texture,

It’s durable
and isn’t connected
to guilt or obligation.

It doesn’t get stuck
on one person or face
and is never
delusional enough to think
“is this the one?”

I can mold this heart
into anything
I want
and it remains
mint unbroken flexible.

Plastic was invented as
a triumph over nature.

Plastic is man’s legacy
and is the logical
consequence to the problem
of human existence and
all the pain that comes with it.

Plastic will keep me safe.
Plastic will keep me uninfected.

I used up
the original heart
I was given
so this heart is a good
substitute.

The plastic heart
never breaks,
always fresh

disconnected from the
teardrop place,

I hope you never
need one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Driverless Car

Where a never ending spray
of bullets don’t kill,

a driverless car
sails perfectly
over a cliff,

and somewhere
a lone brown bear is howling
at the buttery, autumn moon.

The oceans inch
higher and higher up the shore
we keep buying
and buying
and buying
and buying.

Pills and tinctures
keep me mollified,
and I don’t care
who is trying to control
my life,
because I haven’t the energy
or inspiration
to own it myself.

So I keep relaunching
from the side of the road,
merging back in
with the rest of the traffic,
each car
and truck and cycle
racing to arrive someplace
that rarely lives up
to the expectation.

The dream is false
and it gnaws,
unsated by
more purchases
more looking
more meals
more orgasms
more thrills.

Nothing can free
the captive soul
that scans
tirelessly and futilely
for something
from the outside
that will fix
the inside.

If you can
find a crack
in the façade,
turn the searchlights
inward.

Follow the cries
of the baby in the dark
and comfort him.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Promise

There is someone inside
or a small part of
someone
trying to break through

all the responsibilities
the selflessness
the duties
that have attempted
to smother him.

They don't know he's
in there,
and they probably don't care
but I do.

So I find the cracks
in the pavement
and I chip away at
them,

making them bigger
making it easier for
whoever is in there
to spring forth.

Maybe it's a demon
from Hell.

Maybe it's a rose.

Maybe it's just dirt and bugs
but if I don't do this
I'll never know.

And the world may not
be the better for it,

but I wasn’t sent
to save the entire
human race,

but maybe
just this one lost soul.

So,
hang tight
whoever you are,

I'm coming
for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Calling Home

"First off, I know
I haven’t called in a while,
and no, I’m not asking
for money.

It’s just that
my heart finally got used
to your silence,
so I decided
I wasn’t very important
to you.

Please please please
somehow
hear all the things
I cannot say.

Sometimes I see
it’s you calling
and I let it ring.

We both know when this happens.

The few times I’ve called,
you see it’s me
and pick up on the first ring.

Sometimes you tell me
things I don’t want to hear,
and sometimes
you tell me things
nobody else will say

and sometimes you just
let me ramble and ramble and
you say you understand.

I’m sorry I only call sometimes
when I need money
or when my car is broken

but I just don’t want bore you with
all my insignificance.

Forgive me,
if it hurts when I don’t call,
but I just don’t know
where to get the strength.

Sometimes I just want to tell you
that I had a good day,
that I resisted getting drunk,

and some days
I’m just grateful
it wasn’t as bad
as it could have been

and some days
the skies are just
so damned blue and pretty
all I want to say is
“thank you”
to someone.

I used to think
you were codependent
and you needed me
to check in on you.

Now that I am
someone’s father,
I know
you just want to hear
from me,
you just want to know
if you can help.

So forgive me
if I’m rusty at this
as I get down
on my knees
and dial you up."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Angry Dandelion, Part 2 (January 2009)

When her biological father left
she dove head first
into depression.

The counselor provided by
my insurance said
"well, let's just handle
her problems as they come up"
not realizing there were
five screaming meltdowns
just on the car ride over.
(This therapist was in
over her head.)

Her next psychologist
affirmed that she had
depression and anxiety,
and she was referred to a
psychiatrist who
prescribed Prozac
which she took dutifully
for three years
along with cognitive therapy.

Her darkness grew
kudzu-like
into every part of her world.

Then came the snipe hunt
of diagnoses:
oppositional defiance disorder
attention deficit hyperactive disorder
obsessive compulsive disorder
borderline personality disorder…
they had the best of intentions
but they were throwing darts.

The sadness hovered unabated.

Her mood became darker,
more foul, violent
with flamethrower anger
and suicidal threats.

Her room became a cell
and she threw everything
she could
at the walls and doors
trying to escape.

Something hijacked her
and she cried long and hard
into the night, pleading
with me to make it all stop.

Her general practitioner
wanted to rule out
bipolar disorder
so she spent
the summer of 2008
enduring hours of
neuropsychological exams.

The verdict:
dyspraxia
and frontal lobe syndrome.

Yet, on she rages
with a new psychiatrist
who disagrees with
neuropsych assessment
but still cannot offer
an alternate diagnosis.

The new doctor prescribes
new medicine
and tells her to try and
“get along with
the people you live with.”

I try to hide my disappointment
as I feel we’re all stuck in this:
me, her mother and
this sad, suffering Angry Dandelion.

Unexpectedly,
her mood brightens when she
asks about
her upcoming birthday party.

She’ll be 12
next Friday.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Sacred and the Profane

Writing about
the grandeur, the mystery
the infinite grace of God,
I get few comments.

Writing about
my misadventures
of trying to quell
my miscreant penis,
these poems are very popular,

which goes to prove
the writer’s first rule:

write about

what
you
know.
[Presented for D'verse Poets Quadrille ] 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dancing Close to the Cliff (Adultery Suite, Part One, 1998)

We were lost,
searching
for passion,
excitement

and while we knew
this wasn’t it,
we danced
close to the
cliff.
Something
kept our heads cool
as our
lips and tongues
ignored everything
else

and I knew it
was wrong but
it was just
one more wrong thing
in this wrong life

and Teresa
would never find out
anyways.

Thankfully
my accomplice
couldn’t go through
with the crime
and I didn’t have
to cross a line

at that time.

Still, I wonder
about that dark
sweet mystery
that might have
been ours

had she not been
a better person
than I.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Hope I Am Wrong (Adultery Suite, part three, 2001)

I imagine her house
dark and quiet,

lonely candles lit
in a sadly serene
space.

This is how
I imagine it and she
is sleeping on the couch
with the doors and
windows sealed shut

(she could never sleep
when I was away).

The tv flickers
barely audible
her days quiet and alone
except for the friendly cats
she collects and
confides in

and I hope I am wrong
about all these things
because I didn’t mean
to take away her
laughter
her joy
but it became
a game of survival
and I lost

so I took myself
out of her house
and I pray
out of her memory.

But I know her
well enough to know
that her denial
is her armor,
so she’ll never admit
any loss
in my departure.

I don’t need
to be remembered
anyway.

Please forget me
and fill your space
with light and
laughter again.

Teresa,
you deserved better.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Christian Voting Guide

Christians,
when you vote,
remember that
Jesus wants you

to care for
the poor and the needy,
not just
the worthy poor and needy.

I have 20 different Bibles
and I cannot find
"The Lord helps those
who help themselves”
in any of these
translations.

Chemically dependent failures,
morally repugnant adulterers,
selfish and greedy idolaters:
don’t just belong to 2016,

they lived among our Christ.

He didn’t say clean up first
and then I’ll feed you.

He healed and fed them
and then said,

“Go and sin no more.”

My brothers and sisters
in Christ,

“where are your accusers?”

Try the mirror.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Say Goodbye

Rarely does life afford us
a discrete goodbye;

the pendulum of life
keeps swinging us back
to the sites
of our greatest failings.

We rarely
say goodbye
and mean it
because
we can’t control
who or what
will walk blithely into
the unmade beds
of our lives.

So when you ask me
to say goodbye to my sins,
my false idols,
and to the cursed miscreant
I wish to repudiate,
I fail.

These weaknesses,
these tattoos purchased
while intoxicated,
now brand me
and lay
dull and flat
inside this profaned skin

and they never
say goodbye
either.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

To Fit In

The challenge is always the same:

to fit in
without giving in.

My fight springs from something
primitive and undomesticated
that lives under all the schooling
good manners
practiced wordplay
and lucky breaks.

I feel fated to never
fit quite in,
and though it has blessed me
with insight and wisdom,
it is also my curse.

Though I would rather not fit in
and be admired for my principles,
it is often lonely
for the iconoclast who
stands and deconstructs the crowd
genuflecting at the latest empty idol

because sometimes all you want
is just to go home
and sit on your nice soft couch
And look at the lights on the Christmas tree

and sing along with carols
and know the rest of the
world is doing that too.

The perennial fight
grinds away this life

and some days
it is easier to
lay down the sword
and to try to fit into
the box
set aside for you.

Some days the box is a cell,
some days the box is a sanctuary.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Looking For Standard Time

Tonight is the night
we change the clock
back to Standard Time.

Everyone gains an extra hour of sleep
or work – if there on the night shift,

310 million Americans
each gains an hour—

310 million extra hours
is equal to over
12,900,000 days

which translates to
over 35,380 years

over 353 centuries,
35 millennia
will occur
all before sunrise,

all this from going back to
Standard Time

and it
still
isn’t enough.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Whatever This Is

Whatever this is,
it is
my own creation.

These words
spilling onto the page
like a sacred, hidden waterfall,

take me somewhere
even I have never dreamed,
reveal to me all that
I have hidden
under layers
of manners and mores.

Whatever this is,
it is my salvation
and my friend,

the other half
of the Siamese twins-
always there to
goad me,

to nudge the words
forth,

and if they don’t
strike that chord of guilt
deep and resonant
reminding me
that death --
the ticking time bomb
that most everyone refuses to see—
is taking its seconds
hours
days
saying “why are you stopping
to do anything
but live

and capture it?”

The drum keeps pounding
the same tribal heartbeat
compels me:

dive deeper into
this blue mystery,
so deep that you
almost
lose your breath,
push yourself farther,
forgive your trespassers
ruthlessly,
trust in the logic
of the unproven
undivided One

and document it

in whatever this is.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Sheer Good Luck of It All

We cringe
when watching movies
of unfaithful husbands
telling their girlfriends
“I’ll leave my wife for you”
because everyone watching
knows it is
an empty promise,
an IOU wrapped
in a chocolate box.

I was that husband
who cheated,
but I eventually left.

After I burned through
the guilt,
I married my girlfriend,
and I can honestly say
I have never been happier,
or more fulfilled
in my life.

Now I know why
we rarely see
this scenario
in the movies:

no one would believe
the sheer good luck
of it all.

Hell,
I hardly do.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Weight of It All

I was ready
to consume this woman
I’d fantasized about,
to visit the extracurricular
erotic netherworld
she was promising.

I was ready to meet her
surreptitiously in Seattle,
and I was ready to cross the line
she’d been writing
in lipstick and perfume
and emails.

I was ready to fake
to lie to
to deceive the one
I lived with
and do whatever I needed
to taste this ambrosia.

I was ready to do what
my morality previously forbade,
and had purchased the condoms
to do it.

I was ready for the
weight of it all.

Then, my live-in called
my office to tell me
that my father died
of a heart attack
that afternoon.

Suddenly,
at 35 years old
I had to grow up.

I still went to Seattle
three months later
and it was everything
she promised,

which only proved
I wasn’t ready
to be a man
yet.

No Secret

No law of physics
can transform the anger
of this moment

the familiar bruising
and stinging pain

into anything even remotely related
to an evening breeze.

I splash cool water
on my face
and pray for help
to an unseen god
who I know exists:

“Change my reaction
to this.
Guide my steps,
and take me
somewhere far, far away
from this moment.”

I await the results of this
impending metamorphosis

realizing there is
no secret,

only waiting
and trusting.

The Grand Irony

In earliest days,
when our love
was new,
I was
a vulnerable sapling,
subject to
wind and whim.

Years later,
our love has roots
and I am a tree
deep and unyielding,
and we live, grow
in our treehouse
safe and secure
from all natural predators.

Ironically,
now that we have
the depth of passion
and commitment
of this life shared,
some nights
this tree
just can't summon
the wood.

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 Käthe 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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Sherry!