Night Life

From the collection published in 2018, Clean Canvas.

Note: When I wrote this two years ago, I was thinking over how powerless little toys might feel about their existence, being possessions at the mercy of events beyond their control. In these days, it’s occurred to me that the poem also expresses how I feel about the current situation – at the moment I think sometimes all of us humans are existing at the convenience of the virus.

I am also reminded that anything written down stays static, but its interpretations do not, as time passes and events move.

Night Life

Toy chest rendezvous
Snarls morph into smiles
Real smiles
not the painted-on smiley-line shape
maintained all day
when the little plastic people
get together in the dark
away from sticky toddler fingers
to celebrate that lucky escape from
the vacuum cleaner
Final respects to the
nurse and fireman
who didn’t make it
Services set for tomorrow.
Everyone forgets all about
the crunch of size ten feet
the pressure on a tiny plastic head
the subsequent curses that rain down from above
You learn not to take any of it personally.

Easing off the masks
the party starts
Nils, Lara, Tracy,
Frieda the Truck Driver,
Esme, Yvette, Jaguar Man
plastic feet
dynamite on the dance floor.
Everything else:
mañana.

3/1/18

Like It Should Be

From Refuge, 2017.

Another poem that reads differently in today’s world than when it was written three years ago. I am looking forward to traffic jams in the rain on a normal Friday morning.

Like It Should Be

The cars in the rain
The drivers peering
through streaked windshields
the sweep of the wipers
flinging the road away and back
thinking about wet shoes
and how much longer it will take
to get to work today
than yesterday
what with the rain
while the radio blares out
ads for basement waterproofing
and hip replacements
the car heater turned up full blast
sock-steaming strong
and
this Friday morning in early spring
going along fine.

3/31/17

Up and See About It

From Clean Canvas, 2018.

Up and See About It

Soft edges
this morning
mild gray damp air slides up against the window glass
short of being organized enough to call itself fog
watching and waiting for
the slow getting out of bed
turning the slats of the blinds
the bleary glance into a blurry front yard view
the green bushes and grass turned vague
today they don’t yet know who they were
yesterday
The cars pass
quiet
tentative in the smudge of a street. Oh
I groan
not yet
I am not ready
as the pale morning slowly
brightens and
I shut the alarm clock off
before it can ring.

2/15/18

You Are in Little Trouble

From the collection Rearrange, published 2018.

You Are in Little Trouble

we are
the small pebbles in your shoe
the out-of-focus wedding photos
the bad fake ID and the knocked-out front tooth.
we are
that set of slightly irregular golf clubs
the state-of-the-art cheap Christmas ornaments
the patches of ice on the sidewalk
we are
what breaks you.

11/9/17

Some Kind of a Bus Tour

From Redirection, 2017.

Some Kind of a Bus Tour

He stole a bus
he was speaking French
We weren’t in France.
He smirked in the rear-view mirror
smacked his lips
saluted the traffic signal
and ran right through the intersection
We passengers cheered
I don’t need to tell you it was dangerous
but a whole lot of fun
Almost ran out of gas
out on the highway
We took up a collection
to keep the joyride going
I guess you could say
we were kidnapped or hostages
but it was more like a vacation
A good lawyer will get him off
we all agreed
We’ve made plans to get together
for another trip
After he’s finished running up his tab
at the county jail
I am so wild about this new idea.
Wait until you see the photos.

9/21/17

Ricochet

From Redirection, a collection published in 2017.

Ricochet

Two girls. I say girls but
They are twenty or so
I am older.
One man. My age. Maybe more.
Me. Middle-aged lady
Middle-aged if I make it
to one hundred sixteen
years old.

Hot morning. Already enough sun
for any one day. Air thick
requiring lungs to step up.

The four of us
we meet
top of the stone steps dropping down the hill
though I was going up.
Man leaning on the stone wall.
Girls coming off along the road.
Man
rough voice like cardboard tearing
-Good morning-
Girls
wearing shorts that are
as they always are
too short
choke off giggles
startle like two birds and flap off
Me, I say
-we have another hot one don’t we? –
The man leaning on the stone wall.
The girls gone out of sight.
To be polite
I wait enough time for an answer
though none is coming or even necessary
It’s all just pleasantries.
I walk away.

7/14/17

More Than a Pastime

From the collection published in 2017, Redirection.

More Than a Pastime

The dropped pencil rolling across the floor
The cat scurrying from the room
The shoes tossed under the table.
A man laughing on the radio
the rain falling even harder.
The casserole baking in the oven
my hand scrabbling for the pencil.
This crossword puzzle
all-engrossing
What has happened to my eraser?

7/27/17

Carousel

From Redirection, published in 2017.

Carousel

The car circling the parking lot
red now
it was gray the time before
it was black before that
but it is always the car
circling
in the parking lot

The lady restocking the greeting card carousel
adding new cards
saying
happy birthday get well deepest sympathy
in place of the old cards
saying
happy birthday get well deepest sympathy

The mother pushing the shopping cart
two kids hanging on for the ride
picking out onions and
avocados and watermelon and
flank steak and tomato sauce
this week
like last week
picking out onions and
avocados and watermelon and
flank steak and tomato sauce

until the music coming out of the speakers
Stops.

7/14/17

Society Matron

From the collection published in 2016, Enough For a Book.

Society Matron

The car sits in its space in the lot
A nice car. Expensive enough
well-kept
dignified
appreciating its own respectable image
and right now
getting hoarse from yelling
to attract attention
but not giving up yet. Won’t someone
please come out and
shut off that alarm
and let the poor car
regain its composure. And please
everyone
look somewhere else
It’s embarrassing enough
let’s not make it worse
by staring.

2/18/16