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Sunday, November 22, 2020

The View From Here

She takes a drag,
looks out the window,
sees the familiar,
perfect red
white
blue police lights,

and thinks,

"I don't miss those days."

Friday, October 30, 2020

Where Were You?

In times of anxiety,
stress, worry,
I manage to get through it.

Most times I don't care
about the quality of how I handled
it,
I'm just glad it's over.

Then,
In a vain shallow
snottiness
I ask God:

"and where were You?"

In typical
elegance and wisdom,
God replied

"Where were *you*?"

Sunday, September 13, 2020

On Having a 23 Year-Old Daughter with Borderline Personality Disorder (for Sarah)

She lives in
an insular world
of emotional instability
and impulsivity.

I live with
the possibility that
the illness
will overpower
the meds
and she'll do something
impetuous
and unintentionally
tragic.

Most nights,
as I make
my final rounds,
set the house alarm,
and walk up
the darkened stairs,
I see the light
from under her door.

Maybe she's awake
and her mind is racing.
Maybe she fell asleep
with the lights on.

I'm just grateful
I know where she is
and that she's safe. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Christian is a Verb

Make yourself known

not by your label,

not by your word,

by your action!

 

The grace and kindness

with which you’ve been entrusted

must sprout,

emerge or

explode,

whether spontaneously

or as a premeditated act,

 

but,

it must exist

and

it

must

matter!

 

A follower in isolation,

selfishly hoarding it

squanders this gift.

 

Christian is a verb.

 

You don’t need to

be crucified:

 

just feed a hungry person,

or water a plant,

or just sit and listen

when needed.

 

Christianity is a belief system,

choking on legalism

and self-contradiction,

but Christian is a verb,

so

commence Christianing!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Ritual (Over 100 Quarantine Days)

When the work
is done,
I retire to the garage
to smoke my cannabis,
watch a sitcom rerun
and unwind
as I always do.

I walk to
the front of the house
to check 
my daughter's car
to see 
if it is locked,
as I always do.

I walk around
the black
2012 Honda Civic
and check the doors
and the windows
as I always do.

Noting this ritual,
as I have done over 
100 quarantine days 
in a row, I numbly think:

"There is 
absolutely nothing special 
about this day."

At that moment,
I became conscious
of the purple in the dusk,
the melody in the breeze,
the hopeful laughter of 
the children playing 
up the street,
the scent of her hair
lingering from an
earlier embrace
and the warmth knowing
all was safe,
calm and bright 
for the moment,

and the truth 
whispered in my ear:

"Every single thing
about this day
is special."

Forgetting

As parts of
her drift away,

weightlessly

as if released into
the infinite darkness
of that eternal night,

laughing memories
of our life together,
important names,
evocative music,
the taste of enchiladas,

are evaporating
as ice cubes on
a summer sidewalk.

Thankfully,
along with
those treasures,
my mother
is also forgetting
the cold score keeping,
the distance, the invulnerability,
the pain of
my father's abrupt departure,

and I find
that she says
she loves me
far more easily.

You Just Can't Please Some People

March 1999:

When my father
was taken
at 64,
two days after
his own mother,

I was angry
and I said,

"God,
why did You take him
so quickly?

I didn't even
get a chance to
say goodbye."

June 2020:

As I watch
my mother
video-calling from
her newly-installed
hospital bed,

I hear the
fatigue and slow-surrender
in her voice,

and her mind
is disconnecting,
her memories
are falling away
like rare coins
from the worn pockets
of her lifetime,

and the pain
of this sight
makes me think

"God,
why are You
taking so long
to welcome her
home?"

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

My Rain

My rain comes 
in meek droplets
and unforgiving sheets.

Rarely does it wash
anything clean,
merely adding
another layer
of dirty air,
baking itself
on the roof
of my car,
or on a cheap plastic
backyard chair,
miscreant weeds and
unspoken-for
mounds of dirt.

No,
my rain is
unpredictable
and it takes
a day or two
for its musty
grasp to be
loosened.

It can gray-dampen
a sun filled sky,
sit on my plans
and cruelly,
unceremoniously,
remind me
of my ultimate
helplessness
and finite
abilities.

My rain
comes in memories
of loss, regret
and longing

and even if
I try
to hide indoors,

it is always
rainy season
in there too.

[Written for https://dversepoets.com/2020/06/02/rain/]

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ascend

Those old love poems
worked hard
but failed to fly;

these poems, for you,
ascend, never looking back.

[Posted for https://dversepoets.com/2020/05/21/mtb-5-line-japanese-poetic-forms/]

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Portal

Implicit in
every portal,
every entrance
every pathway
is a decision:
do this
or do that.

Most days
the choices
are overwhelming
and I rely
on habit,
other’s decisions
or time
to decide for me.

Today
I walked through
the door
that said

“try writing again,”

and now
that I have
crossed that threshold,
I stop to consider
whether
I carelessly
skipped over
the portal that said

“write something better
HERE!”

[Posted for https://dversepoets.com/2020/05/19/dverse-poetics-about-portals/]

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“Isn’t This Fun?”

The usual vibe
these coronavirus nights
is
my Ollie
planted between myself
and his sexy grandma
because we have
a king-size bed.

We play,
we giggle,
we slow down

and some nights
he fights sleep,
violently, desperately
as though something
in his 30 month soul
whispered a lie
that the sleep
would be eternal,
forever.

Finally,
his strength abates
and he surrenders
to the cool darkness
as we all  do,

and his breathing
is slow and deep,
as “The Cat in The Hat
Knows A Lot About That”
softly lullabies
him into narcosis
and this is our life:

the three of us
in this cozy, wondrous
cocoon of love,

and just as I drift away
I hear the cartoon cat
gleefully exclaim:

“Isn’t this fun!”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Iron Jew

The Iron Jew
steps into the ring,
tuxedo shirt
and bulging eyes
and craggy features,
sweat from his fore head
nervousness in his twitch,
he is a mountain
with punchlines
at his 1970s
new York nightclub.

Standing in the spotlight,
gauzed in cigarette smoke,
he delivers
line after line after line,
each one more powerful
than its brother before.

Cynics, skeptics and
shtarkers,
each come up and
each is knocked down,
but the sheer gravitas
and invention of this
survivor and his
world-weary shield.

He leaves the stage,
undoes the bow tie
slumps in the dressing room chair,
lights up a joint,
and waits for the next
challenger.

Scene change:
Thirty years later
on the other side
of America,
I come home
wrung out and hope spent
I go to the garage,
fire up my pipe
and queue up Rodney Dangerfield
on the Johnny Carson show
via YouTube
and
puff puff laugh
puff puff laugh
and his attack begins:
decades melt as
and he hits,
unrelenting;
each hit perfect,
and I begin my surrender:
sides aching,
he punches,
I’m sucking for breath,
 he punches,
throws a three joke combo
with a topper
and I’m almost doubled over in pain,
joyful and liberating.

I have lost myself
and my worries
for a moment,
and I am grateful
as I catch my breath
and marvel that
the Iron Jew
has won again!