It Sort of Loses Some of Its Punch

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

It Sort of Loses Some of Its Punch

Two old guys telling army stories
going to walk in the park
tell army stories and walk
just two old guys
the one old guy
in the white T-shirt
he is saying
We were in the camp and
and he is talking loud
there was this one old
when he
catches sight of me over here
oh I’d better watch my
he lowers his voice
two old guys
walking in the park
whispering army stories past me.


No Tactics

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

No Tactics

That visionary subgroup of the invading force
the first wave of cosmic alien mutant ants
veer left exiting the portal
or as we would say
crawl out of the dishwasher

but fall to the distraction of
a watermelon juice sticky lake
dried tacky and sweet on the floor
spilled from slices cut last night.
The columns bog down
discipline fails
the end comes quickly and
Mop-up is easy. Earth is saved once more
by sloppy good luck.


Who’s the Winner Here?

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

Who’s the Winner Here?

Not one more fattening peep out of you
I say to the slice of chocolate cake
lounging on my plate. It smirks.
Two can play this game and so
I fork another big bite into my mouth
well aware that the know-it-all
sitting right in front of me
is going to get down to work
the very second I swallow the bite –
do its level best high-calorie damage
patient and methodical and smug.
So there, I say.
Who’s still sitting at the table?
Me or you?
I lick chocolate icing from my lips.


Gift from a Window Cleaner

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

Gift from a Window Cleaner

Two days ago she took hold of the squeegee
swiped a checkerboard of soapy cleanser
straight from the bucket across the plate glass window
rows and columns in a swipe turn the wrist
sling off the excess kind of motion
smooth and sure. She did all of this two days ago.

I sit with my shoulder to the window
In the streaks of sunshine and shadow laid across my table
I see the layout of the puzzle she left behind for me
the swipes and slings rayed out in front of me
outlining boxes in a grid

Thank you for the clues.
I fill in my answers.



From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.


How long ago was it in lawnmower years
that we swam pickled in a chlorinated pool
considering the lawnmower worked summers only

How much time has passed
counted by afternoon thunderstorms
since we shivered eating the popsicles
that turned our lips blue

How many steps have we taken
in dress shoes tied too tight
since we last hopped barefoot along a hot sidewalk –
Do you ever think about how many?


A Query in This Week’s Advice Column

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

A Query in This Week’s Advice Column

As to the question from the full moon
puzzling over the reason why
the man who stares up into its face
from the front steps of his little yellow house
suddenly says My mind is made up:

Understand that it happened
because you
the full moon
you say
I believe you
before he even asks.


Ah, That Last Postcard You Sent

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

Ah, That Last Postcard You Sent

On the front of the postcard:
a photo of a square in a big city
glass skyscrapers
a gray stone church

On the back
the legend says:
A view of Flenbedening Plaza and Beedliola Church

and you wrote:

Greetings from
your friend with the big mouth

told you I’d miss you
royal pain that you are

remember the Halloween you dressed as a nurse
I met your twin here in the city
she had white hair she wore in a ponytail
and pressed a stethoscope she claimed
could amplify the trend of my future
cold against my right temple. What powerful thoughts
you have in here, she told me. Just forget about them.

Truth is I feel good. I will be home soon.
And as fond as I ever was of you, that I am still.
Until I see you again.


This Last Bit of Proof

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

This Last Bit of Proof

Over breakfast
and in a private conversation
not even the eggs needed to hear
I took the plates away
then the silverware
sat in the chair opposite
scratched at a coffee stain on the tablecloth
with my fingernail and then
the truth I told you
I laid it gently on the table
to keep it from getting broken
and you said
What is there to discuss?
My mind is made up.

But I had known that all along.


The Same Evening Again Tonight

From the collection And Don’t Come Back, 2021.

The Same Evening Again Tonight

The flickering light
over the chipped enamel sink
The red gingham curtains
that don’t quite close
no matter how hard you pull them
there is always that gap

You set the last plate on the shelf
click off the blasted light
walk out of the room

In the shadows you leave behind
a blurry line
pale and green
stripes the floor
pulsing like the blood in your veins
only faster. The bar across the street
is open for business now
the green neon arrow aimed at its door
flashes on.
flashes off.
flashes on.
flashes off.
flashes on.