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!

Poetry Template

First,
start with the title:
it must be
directly related
to the content
of the Poem -
or not.

Then begin the Poem
with a phrase
of tempting ambiguity,
a detail so compelling
that the reader
will follow you
as you pull back
to reveal its unexpected
milieu.

Continue by making
an arcane allusion
to a 17th century English essayist
or by adding a sly reference
to one of the
lesser known Beats
(nothing from Ginsberg,
Kerouac, Burroughs or
Bukowski, please) -
this will establish
your lit cred
among the cognoscenti.

Include densely worded
passages, overstuffed with
arbitrary and completely insular
imagery
to buttress your emerging status
as a solitary, enigmatic genius.

Bring it on home
with an unexpected punchline
that either disorients
or brings a cynical smirk
to the morally ambiguous,
postmodern reader.

Send it out to the same
twelve friends
who always read your work
and always love it.

Repeat as necessary.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Best Laid Plans

We started on
November 21 1987,
I was the kind of person
who didn't want surprises,

so I told her in 1990
"after we'd dated three years,
I'm gonna propose
on our fifth anniversary,
so please be sure."

She nodded and continued
the courtship.

On our fourth year of dating
in 1991
I said "I mean it,
I'm going to ask you to get married
a year from today,
so if you don't want to marry me,
you need let me know."

She nodded
and we continued the dance.

True to my word
I gave her the engagement ring
on the fifth year,
in 1992
she said yes

and we spent the next year
planning the start
of our lives together.

We were married
the day before Valentine's Day
1994.

I remember finally feeling
safe
my long search was over,
and I had somehow
beaten the odds.

Then came the
hushed phone calls
the late nights at work,
I even busted her
after their furtive trip
to Costco when I inquired
"where’s the other half
of this lettuce four-pack?"

Two months into my marriage
and she was with someone
who wanted to give her children
and made twice as much
money as I did

and I finally understood
that quote about
the best-laid plans
of mice and men.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Next Logical Step (For Anita)

What really happened
is I decided that I didn’t have to be
the comic relief in my own life anymore.

I didn’t have to be the
good-natured, lovable
schlemiel that never caught
the brass ring.

I decided I didn’t have to be
Rhoda Morgenstern anymore.

I could be Mary Richards
and I deserved to be happy.

From there
the next logical step was
to marry
the woman of my dreams.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

My Hard and Dark Bittersweet Soul

She unwraps me
and imagines a new lover.

My hard and dark
bittersweet soul
was designed
to tease and savor.

She breathes in
my heady scent
and remembers
her first time,
and she is
transported again
and again and again
to my narcotic netherworld.

Seeing no one around,
she teases me,
gliding me over
her pink pillow lips,
my soft edges tickling her
and eliciting
a conspiratorial smile.

I bask in her worship
and glow in her love.

Her fingertips are warm
and I begin softly melting
from the desire
coursing through her.

She places me
on her tongue,
so warm and slippery
and I brace myself
for the slow steady force
of her bite.

The pressure is divine
and with one snap,
I am broken
and swimming ecstatically
in her mouth.

I giggle helplessly
as she rolls me,
left then right
then presses me up
against her palate,

and I am singing to her
an unrestrained Yes!

She gently tosses
her head back
and I begin
the long
lovely
descent down
her waiting
alabaster throat,

and she feels me
rushing and tingling
through her whole being.

With another bite
I happily and
shamelessly surrender
crying breathlessly,

yes! take me!
consume me!
give me my reason!

and suddenly,
my chocolate wrapper
lies empty
and discarded,

but I am
complete,

for I have been united
with my beloved.

[Posted for D'Verse Poets - come along and play!]

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Moment

For the moment
it’s a clear sky –
so blue it almost hurts

and I spring-step
across the parking lot
with enough money in my pocket
to buy the milk and eggs.

There is curly breath
in my lungs and it’s forcing
this smile to peek out.

The girl scouts smile back
and ask if I want to buy some cookies,
but I shake my head
still smiling
at their determination,
their perfect innocence.

For the moment
it’s almost too much
to for me to gather
and pull into my embrace

until I stop

and ruin the moment
by trying to figure out
how to make it last
longer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Customization Nation

An app for this,
an app for that,
thousands of them,
mostly free.

Make your own ringtone,
personalized wallpaper
and
wrap it up in its own
protective plastic skin
designed from
your own uploaded
jpeg.

Customize your phone
so it’s no longer
the ubiquitous
tool of
instant
human connection.

Change it
from the window
that could remedy
the disconnected multitudes

into the mirror
that reflects
you you you
and bask in
its hi-tech
narcissistic glory,

as we create
a whole new nation
of disconnected
multitudes

one subscriber at a time.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Advice to The Artistically-Inclined

Don’t be so full of yourself.

Your competition
is everywhere,
mostly toiling
in anonymity,

and I saw
the greatest proof
of that at Don Jose’s
on karaoke night.

Across the way
we spied
a young single mother,
baggy eyed,
arms flailing,
orchestrating
her 3 kids’ meal,
as she was handed the mic
and tore a soulful,
defiant hole
in Alicia Keys’
“If I Ain’t Got You”
making it her own.

It was madness.

There but for
familial responsibility
was the greatest singer
in the world,

or was it her lot
in life that gave
her voice
The Truth?

So, Pampered Artist,
don’t be so full of yourself.

Chances are
the laundress
cleaning out
your shit stained shorts,
the plumber
snaking your porcelain throne,
the gardener
leaf-blowing away your debris,

each have
the same talent
but more heart
than you’ll
ever know or see.

Thank your lucky stars.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

It's a Small World After All

The war machine presses on
seemingly without a cause or vote,

the water in our shared ocean
is testing positive for radiation,

a young adult woman lures
an 11 year-old girl
into a public park bathroom
where she is gang raped
by seven underage gangbangers,

and all I can be
is thankful

because my 14 year-old
is being released
from the hospital

where she has been
on suicide watch for
the past week.

Yes,
it’s a small
brutal
world
after all,

and often the victories
are even smaller,

but
I’ll take them
wherever I find them.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

My Overrated Organ

I was told very early on
that mine was different -
not necessarily bigger -
but that it could do
special tricks,
it was a gift.

Most days
from the moment I wake,
it is ceaseless,
searching and seeking
for solutions that never satisfy,
never quench.

Nudging, prodding me
into new fire pits,
never knowing peace
or succor.

They never
just come in and sit
each represents a challenge
and is thrown upon the heap
of things to be conquered

or discarded as inconsequential
rubbish.

My overrated organ says
it’s never enough.

There’s so much
simple daisy beauty
in this world
I miss while tending
my overrated organ.

If it appears
narcissistic,
I understand.

You just don’t see
and the insecure hand
and the whip held therein
rarely resting to
let the slightest comfort
slip by

in those rare moments
when the beatings stop.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Etta James Sings

“I was losing
the man that I love
and all I could do was cry.”

She’s practically bleeding it
as it reaches across
the decades
through the speaker
piercing my heart.

Glancing over
at my bride who has
been playing Bejeweled
on Facebook for the
past hour,
I see her eyes moisten
too.

I didn’t use to cry
before we met
and now it happens
with the certainty
of gravity.

Once I finally felt
it
deep, deep inside
my cavernous soul,
nothing was ever the same

especially music.

The tears are
two-sided:

sorrowful
remembering the silent gray days
before she came along

and elated
that she finally did.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Red Exit Door

I am lost
in a market place
and I am the only one
who looks human,
everyone else is humanoid.

Someone-in-charge
mutters something
and I am taken away
to a stone cell.

No English spoken
and I can’t read this situation
or remember how
I got here.

Hours pass.

I am in a crowd
and we are whipped
worse than chattel
or Auschwitz Jews.

They all seem to know
something I don’t
and they all seem to
belong.

I panic and am lost
in a world where
I cannot find the
red exit door.

Walking through
a dark and humid tunnel
I hear screams,
desperate and frantic.

I look down and see
I am walking on tightrope
over a snake pit
littered with
half-eaten corpses.

I shift and lose my balance
and my heart erupts,
I scream out

which awakens Anita
who tells me

“you were having
a bad dream.”

I exhale
thankfulness,
I am found.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

That Natural Tumbling

You don't have to
suck it 'til it pops,

or keep on pumping it
like you're performing
CPR on a crash victim.

All those
black lace outfits are nice,
but you know
they'll be torn off
in less than a
minute,

and I love the candles
but don't light them
if it will
break the momentum,

that natural tumbling,

when everything
feels right
and I allow my pulse
to beat
crazy-mad
and the breaths not stolen
are quick
and uncontrollable.

Let me forget where I am,
just let me know
that I am

and that you are
here too.

Don't think about
all the celluloid fantasies
or that article in Cosmo,
any aberrant cellulite
or how you think
I might think
you smell,

just lose everything
and kiss me

kiss me

kiss me.