Famous For It

Famous For It

Sitting at the counter
Ajax Grill
ask for a vanilla milkshake
and a hamburger, well done
Breathe in deep that nourishing smell
of fried and buttered and sweet
you get for free
just stepping in the door
Keeps you going while you wait
talk to the counter waitress
read the paper
peeling the paper off the straw
for your milkshake.


Little Vines 1/18/21

New Little Vines. Here is this week’s array.

A superlative actress. Great eye contact.
Our cat plays to a small but devoted audience:
just us, her spellbound family.

the building stands silent and empty
blank windows and pale gray stone
distant expression and ashen complexion

she climbs the stairs to the second story
a keeper of secrets
a person who leaves mysteries unsolved.

I make hard-eye contact with the slack-faced
I kick away two of the fearful dedicated deluded
I pry another one from a light fixture. I take names.

There is no flamingo in symmetry. There is
no mayonnaise in shiny. There is no sense of honor
in a plate of scrambled eggs. There is no telling
what I will do next.

Making excuses again? I didn’t mean
why couldn’t it have been
I’m sorry it wasn’t.
Oh, just shut up.

They are buttoned up tight
the zinnia buds. The sun goes to work
persuades them to loosen up
let themselves shine!

The injuries the knife caused – Mortal. Fatal
Now that sleek actor lies here gleaming in the sun –
Wicked. Indifferent.

The next day was uncertainties
and hesitancies. Think celebratory champagne
that you drink with a half-smile.

wearing a homegrown emerald ring
of deep green forests
the planet sparkled in the starry sky

if there is anyone wondering where we’ve gone:
we have shopping to do
for an evening dress

with his oily bald head and thin-lipped smile
the stereotype of a sleazy lowlife blowhard
he turned out to be the best surgeon I ever knew

The withered crone who
sweeps clean the temple ruins
every day at sunset?
A millionaire. She just likes to keep busy.

this song, I knew its lyrics –
something about a broken mirror
drilling deep into the skull – but whose?
Whose reflection do you see?

Squeezing out lies like black paint from the tube
he doesn’t sleep any minute any night
that he isn’t making fake deals in his dreams
and chasing marks down the street

experience first the green
then envy then the smear campaign
welcome to your brand-new subscription to
the National Journal of the Dynamics of Jealousy

I know what you thought it was in that soup tureen.
No need to mention it.
I’ve cleaned everything up for you.

Such hostility, my dear,
it does not go well
with that lovely dress



The silence
I feel it settle
a hand
on my shoulders
as I sit
in the warm room
sunlight pink
this morning

Outside the window
bare trees
cast shadows
I watch them
shift and blur
over a scattering
of dried leaves
and patches of snow

I sit
safe inside
the silence

I breathe in
the silence


Powerful Stuff

Powerful Stuff

nips the bottle
not the one you’re thinking
just a snort of iced green tea
about a million times a day
She is addicted. Says it gives her
a certain kinetic advantage
in getting through things
what things exactly I don’t know
she claims
it fights flab. I try to imagine
what she’d do with
one of those energy drinks
and realize it would be taps
for anyone in her path
I back off I say nil about it
Truth is
I’m a little scared of her


Snow Bird Wind Swirl

Snow Bird Wind Swirl

Snow swirl swings around
grabs up cold wind
abandon bush and branch and ground
spiral up and out

Bird swirl swings around
shakes off cold wind
Snow flakes
outline bush and branch and ground

Wind swirl swings around
white-flecks black birds
Snow drifts
erase bush and branch and ground


Snow Gets Going

Snow Gets Going

the snow flakes
unruly crowd
they just run all over themselves
pushing to get to the ground
each one moving fast as it can
shoving aside
narrow misses
sneaky maneuvers
fend off competitors
I’m sure some hurt feelings
and none of them going anywhere
but hit the ground
The trip down is short.
Make the most of it.


A Few New: Tanka 119; Haiku 684, 739; Shadorma 192, 193, 200, 243

As you know, I’m no longer doing Poetry Marathon Sessions. Instead, I’m writing as I go along. Every so often I plan to post new work that I’m doing doing right now.

Right now, here is what I am doing. I had an inventory of fragments, stories, and other unfinished things that I’ve assembled and I’m now mining them for ideas, revising them, or breaking them into pieces and seeing what develops from the leftovers.

This post is one of those showcasing new work, then – except – today, I’ve shown you work that for various reasons is older, 2018 or 2019, and was finished, but didn’t get published in one of my previous books. I want to clear out the past before going into the future.

It is interesting to me to read these poems in light of the world we live in today. I think they are proof that writing captures a specific time but can also be projected into future days and be of use or clarity then. No writing is every wasted – it can always speak, even if in ways not anticipated when written.

Tanka 119

Handcuffed together
we weren’t, but just as good as,
until yesterday
when I grabbed hold of the purse
and shook out my escape plans


Haiku 684

in the darkest hours
the moon comes inside the house
called on for a dream


Shadorma 192

You catch It
or does It attack
the target
of its choice?
Your adversary won’t say.
It doesn’t need to.


Shadorma 193

Take nothing
for given Take all
for maybe
or never
and if fate or destiny
decide to favor


Shadorma 200

The garden
that intriguing place
tangled stems
twine your legs
tie your hands wrap your neck squeeze
deadheading you. Snap.


Haiku 739

the hard crust of snow
buried spring bulbs wish for warmth
the pale sun wavers


Shadorma 243

safe ashore
this desktop plateau
this island
in the sea
of patterned carpet floated by
bi-weekly paychecks


Graphite Study

Graphite Study

the student
and her case stuffed full of pencils and pens
she just now zipped it open
just like that
grabbed the sharpener
freshened up her pencil point
only to drive it right back into the paper full
of equations

the pencil scraping out the numbers
going in and out of her head
neat and efficient and high speed
thought to paper and paper to thought

I watch her sharpen that pencil again.


On the Form, Describe Your Occupation, Please, in One Line

On the Form, Describe Your Occupation, Please, in One Line

Box office at the theater
library desk
delivery truck
private office with a window and two guest chairs
street corner (day and night shifts
multiple categories of commerce)
real estate office
school cafeteria
swimming pool
four-foot deep trench cut into the road

Sell tickets chat about the show marvel at the actor
who is nothing like his part in real life
Check out books chat about the books shelve
the books
care for the books that people need and love
Drop off yogurt and milk without blocking the street too long
stay on the schedule never get into a traffic accident
Maneuver facts and figures and nobody knows
what else
make sure no matter what else happens that the payroll taxes are paid
Sell fried rice, sell cheap gloves to people who’ve
lost their better ones,
sell souvenirs to tourists. Sell company, sell apology
flowers, sell sell just sell
Show houses to house buyers prequalified and
ready to be entranced by trendy accoutrements
just like what they saw on that TV show
Cut servings of Jello set them in small white bowls
heavy for their size line them up on the glass shelf
again and again
Whistle out kids for rest break teach them how
to swim
keep them from drowning and running on the
pool deck
Stand below ground level in cold dirt with a view of car tires all day
connecting up water pipes or gas lines wearing
glow-green vest
over a hoodie and hard hat

What I’m trying to say is:
one line is not anywhere near enough.


Special Effort

Special Effort

Dark blue wool suit
white oxford-cloth shirt
tie thin-striped sober creams and grays
black leather shoes polished scuff-free
leather briefcase and portfolio
pad of yellow paper
Waterman fountain pen

Shiny-fabric medium gray suit
slight puddle of non-cuffed pants over
black-laced black dress sneakers
T-shirt printed slogan and image
no tie
laptop and canvas case

Important meeting
presentation to a group
faces looking up at you
Forty years ago

Doesn’t matter.
Nervous energy and you press your
a little bit sweaty

hands down the front of your thighs
before you gather up your thoughts
and begin to speak.