Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Thought I Saw Jesus

I thought I saw Jesus
at the freeway offramp
but it was just
a homeless man
with a crudely written
cardboard sign
reading “Please help”
and since the light
turned green,
I kept driving.

I thought I saw Jesus

standing in front
of the Circle K
convenience store
but it was just
a toothless meth crone
asking for a buck
and since I had no change
I moved on.

I thought I saw Jesus
in the intensive care unit
at the UCLA medical center
but it was just
a middle aged man
dying of brain cancer
and since I wasn’t
an oncologist
I silently walked on.

I thought I saw Jesus
standing by the side
of the freeway
but it was just
a black-haired toddler
holding her mom’s hand,
waiting for someone
to rescue them,
and since I was
two lanes over
I couldn’t reach them
and I turned my mind
to my destination.

I thought I saw Jesus
hanging from a tree
but upon closer inspection
his arms weren’t outstretched,
they hung lifelessly

and I thought
this must be Judas,
and as I came closer
I squinted up
at the blue
and puckered face

and saw
it was me.

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at - a home for wayward poets.]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Friends

For a young man
who never made 
women swoon,
never caused
the blush of blood
in a woman’s breast,
her stories were,
at first, titillating.

In her many
business travels
she would arrange
to meet men
in foreign cities,
and with only 
the slightest wisps
of personal data,
she would
offer herself
in anonymous hotel rooms
as a submissive,
to be tied up,
swatted and flagellated,
her ample plump frame,
for a crumb of attention.

Distance demanded
that nothing would ever come
from our email friendship,
so I just listened
without judgement,
trying to understand.

She had an estranged father,
a mother dying from cancer,
and it wasn’t my place
to do anything but
be a friend.

So I just listened
as the phone calls mounted,
laughing and mirroring
each other,
each call affirming
each other.

Months later,
one spring afternoon,
she cc’d me on
a mass mailing
that she sent
to the dozens of partners
she’d met along
her loneliness,

and she told them
she decided
she wasn’t
doing that anymore.

She decided
she didn’t want

In a separate note,
she credited me
with giving her the strength
to move into
the next phase of her life,
where she eventually
fell in love,
got married
and had a son.

to all you women
who weren’t
attracted to me
and I either had to learn
to be “just friends”
with you
or lose your friendship,

thank you.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Public Service Poem #3

When ranting in writing be mindful,
as pride always precedes the fall,
careers and affairs can be ruined
if you err and click “Reply All”.

[Written for a colleague who just made this error.  Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - come along and share your song!]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Parking Structure

I drove past
the old parking
to find it
had been
torn down

and my heart let
out a little gasp
and a silent

In our early days,
when we couldn’t
go to her place
or my place
other obligations
were there),

for a brief
we’d park in a
and we’d kiss and
caress and
make love
hiding in plain sight.

The best parking structures
were the busy ones
at the courthouse,
where you had
to pay to get in.

In those, everyone was
too consumed with
trying to find a space
and get on
with their business
and they had
no time to waste
looking for
pulled down pants
breasts exposed
tongues darting
closed eyes.

We’d pay our 50 cents
find a spot
and go at it.

50 cents,
the cheapest motel
of all.

But times have changed
and we now have
the privacy of our
marital bedroom
and it is
a different excitement

but still,
there’s nothing quite like
making love in public
as cars drive by
knowing that
each one of them
is too busy
to notice
young new
wet slippery
nervous awkward

They were in their
businesslike hurry
to quickly park
make their deals
cash their checks
make their transactions
and get richer,

but I’m sure
every one of them
would’ve traded places
with me
in a heartbeat.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Personal Revisionist History (a cinquain)

threw it away,
now she pees on the stick,
hoping she can recast him as

[Written for #FormForAll at - my 2nd favorite poetry site, after my own.]

Monday, March 11, 2013

The First Record I Ever Bought

September 28, 1973,
a day after my 10th birthday,
I bought my first 45
for 79 cents.

It began with her
dusky whisper
against a lone piano:

“No one in the world
ever had a love
as sweet as 
my love...”

and as the song
tumbled forth,
I surrendered
to her secret confession,
dreaming that I
was the object
of her longing.

Drums slowly emerge,
a harp glissando strikes
and violins obscure
the kettle drums
masterfully laid
under this luscious,
dramatic declaration,

“We go on
hurting each other
without ever knowing 

By the middle of
the second verse,
I am swept away
by her voice
hopeful and vulnerable,

“All your life 
you could love 
only me...”

from here
the record keeps spinning,
imploring its incessant

and as the
two minutes, 45 seconds
winds down,
I go to my grave,
my love
for Karen Carpenter
forever unrequited,

and the piquant flavor,
the bittersweet yearning
that animates this
magic piece
of black vinyl,

I will try to emulate
and insert
into virtually
every poem
or song
or story
I will ever come
to write.

[Written for #OpenLinkNight at - a poetic wonderland for you!]

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Myth of Geography

Moreno Valley
(literally “Brown Valley”)
was in such need
of rebranding
they actually voted
and renamed
my zip code area
92555 to
“Rancho Belago.”

It’s not fooling anyone.

It’s still Moreno Valley,
and to the outside world
it’s a ghetto of Browns
and Blacks
and poor Whites.

It’s where you live
if you can’t afford
Riverside or Redlands.

I didn't come here
with such prejudices:
my wife has lived
her whole life,
and when she
and the kids
my whole life,
I moved here too.

In this hyperconnected world
where statuses update
and Google Earth
can show you a bird’s eye view
of Uzbekistan
in a split second,
the primacy of geography
is a myth.

Surely, no place is better,
no place is worse,
as we all share
the glorious sun,
the dolorous moon.

As I sit on the backyard swing
watching the sunset,
in a house where I make love
to the most beautiful woman
in the world,
and watch my children prosper,
and chuckle at
Magnolia and Mona Lisa
terrier-romping and tumbling
around my feet,

I've no doubt
I’m in the best place
in the world,

inside this lucky skin,
humbly inhabiting

this grateful soul.

[Written for #MeetingTheBar at, come and share a poem!]

(View from my backyard in Moreno Valley, California, 92555.)

Not Alone at the Bible Study (a haiku)

The time came to pray,
there is no mate for my grasp,
breathe in her spirit.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Why I Probably Won’t Cry at Paige’s Funeral

Tears flowed
in abundance
last December
when I thought
of all the joyfully
purchased and wrapped
Christmas presents
that would go unopened.

Tears flow
when my soul witnesses
true altruism
and selfless love,
unmooring my cynicism
and restoring my faith
in innate human
for a little while.

Tears rained down
when my father’s
undiagnosed heart disease
made its appearance
and claimed him
only two days after
his own mother died.

Tears gracefully appear
when art
finally captures
and articulates
the formless echo
that signifies truth
and it cannot be denied.

Tears bullied
their way in
when the world
came off its axis
in September 2001.

occasionally override
their self-restraining
and I have learned
to surrender to their
temporary sovereignty,

when a beautiful
20 year-old woman
whose life promised
so much goodness
and happiness
goes into cardiac arrest
from a potassium deficiency
and never awakens
after a 21 day sleep,

I don’t have tears.

I have only
muted anger,
silent confusion,
and a modest prayer
that God
will guide and comfort
those grieving
through this inexplicable

[Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - come and share your poems!]