Monday, March 30, 2015

The Bullies of the Feeder

Every bird blogger will tell you
red winged blackbirds
are the bullies of the feeder
but I've seen three
black-capped chickadees
land on the feeder bar
next to a red winged blackbird
and the first chickadee
hip bumps the middle one
and the middle one hip bumps the last
until with a squawk
the red winged blackbird
ends up eating the air
next to the feeder
flapping his big black wings
with their distinctive red tabs
to stay level with the feeder
and hurl imprecations
while the three chickadees
who don't add up to the
size of one of his wings
belly up to my trough
and pay him no mind

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What if all of this

What if all of this
is the punishment
for having used pages
of my King James
for rolling papers

(It's thirty years on
and I only took
from the concordance
no red letters
I swear)

What if all of this
is the punishment
for that afternoon
in Whitby Hall
in room 413

(with the view of the maple
I thought of as mine
and the artificial pond
with the artificial name)

What if all of this
would have been different
if I had sacrificed
the onion skin
over the frontispiece sketch
in my 1899 Cranford

(What if all of this
has been
outer darkness)

Monday, March 9, 2015

At some point midstream

At some point midstream
people stop asking how are you
You stand there out of breath
on the rock that is Monday
after making the leap
from the rock that is Sunday
a leap that is equivalent
to translating Beowulf into Western Yiddish
while climbing Everest
on a moonless night
when all you know of Western Yiddish
is gonif and putz and maybe matzoh
when you should have worn something better than sneakers
when the crank to the crank flashlight
won't crank

Monday, January 12, 2015

Therapy Dog, Memory Ward

The woman is so small
her wheelchair looms around her
like a man's boot
looms around a child's foot

The woman is so thin
her bones loom out from her skin
like bent grasses waiting to escape
from an iced over pond

The woman is so quiet
her silence looms around her
like it is the snow
and she is last summer's terra cotta pot
forgotten on the patio

The woman is so close to dying
her death looms up at me
exhaling cold mist
forming the words in the air
Walk on; she's mine

And so I walk on past her
but the dog turns back
and rests his muzzle on her knee

Friday, January 2, 2015

Three Months to 50

I would like to commission a scroll
Suitably ornamented by monks
Listing the blessed gifts
I have manifested
In my half century of living
But I can think of only two
I never say imply when I mean infer
And I can blow the cover off a straw
and look so true blue
that when it bounces off your ear
and you look around to see who did it
you'd never dream it was me


My fists raised
I wake up
In the doorway
In the dark
And I feel the dog
standing beside me
leaning hard against my thigh

And I bend down
To put my arms around him
And the rise and fall
Of his breath
Feels warm against my damp shirt
And I say to him It's okay
It's okay now
And I know I am talking
To both of us 

Dr. Rx says knowing the details
Won't change a thing
Something happened
That's obvious
She says
But don't go lifting up rocks
You think it will help
To see what crawls underneath
But it doesn't work that way
I see her point
In the day
In the light
But in the dark
In the night
In the doorway
I want to see
the face of my enemy
So that I can kill him
So that the dog and I
Can sleep

Thursday, December 11, 2014

That which I've learned

Never place your trust
In a man who wears pointy toed shoes
Or a dog whose prick ears go back
In the fear position
When coyotes howl on PBS

Keep several grains of salt
In a little jar in your pocket
For when you go to church
The car dealership
Anywhere near candidates for office

Know that the human heart is a hotel
People check in, people check out
Some leave a five spot on the pillow
Some steal the coffee carafe

Believe that if you lay your palm
On a tree and say good morning
If you wait quietly a few moments
You will hear it say The same to you