Little Vines 2/22/21

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

sweetheart have you got anything else to say
the vowels want to know
if they can go home early tonight

step out into the bubblegum pink surf
swoon in the sugar-sea-dazed vapor
I’ll catch you and give you candy kisses to revive you

why separate them
when they are still upright
and having such a good time together?

you see the shaking hands the jerky motions
the falling mannequin sufficiently ghoulish
you ponder a store window version of eternity

in the starlight I see
it’s a new set of towels
he’s brought me for a gift tonight

my sweet tooth
draws the line at a tangerine cadaver

said the old zombie

Twenty feet above the bottom of the lake
in the blinding shimmer of sunlight
we steer the boat through the waters where you drowned
No one talks about it. Everyone remembers it.

what immense autumn disappointments
what smoggy mildewed breezes
what limp cornsilk sunshine
are you remembering now?

do you remember the hand
holding the cigarette so carelessly
the cuff of a fur coat falling away?

picture a stormy sea
rushing downtown at dawn
the sunrise illuminates the highway full of commuters

We’re doing bread shots from the basket
the waitress set on the table
Another glass of water please!
It’s thirsty work swallowing crusty carbs

ponder quietly, contemplative jewel box
tell me which necklace to choose for tonight:
the withered rubies gazing hopeful
the tired emeralds that whisper nonsense?

a bulky torso parked above spindly legs –
You are describing
either my dad or the china cabinet. Which is it?

a bitter drink
a staticky radio broadcast of weary piano music
a smoke hue to this afternoon. I wait.

eventually the house
and its distaste for its inhabitants
merged into a feral howl heard miles away

I hope I’ve got time for one more snowflake
for it to fall into my palm
turn transparent and dissolve

Stand still, tearful sad and grieving woman
I’ve got an answer for you on the cat phone:
Pick me up and hug me. I will purr for you.

the frayed shoelace
aging and anonymous
curled in on itself, distrustful of strangers

the vehement metronome
in its delirium
pushed the orchestra to the brink of a heart attack

we will swim in the ice water
emptied out of satin slippers
all night in the wild silver garden

his soul?
I believe that
if you crave nothingness, this is where it is

the cave
next to the highway
plucked souls right out of their cars

cafeteria fire
the honeydew melon
writhing in the flames

I cried so often in my garden that summer
the roses were consumed
by my salt tears that watered them

the whine the slap the incessant itching
Yes, we live here on sufferance
the mosquito planet takes its revenge every day

Little Vines 2/18/21

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

Does toxic talk make you shiver?
Me neither, usually. But I fear above all else
Death by mildew.

oh dear there’s a dirty little secret I just spilled
I need to mop it up quick
and rinse it down the drain.

at least a year of arguing
with a renewable option for up to three years –
that’s my final offer. Take it or leave it.

Happy anniversary and champagne sparkles.
Let’s stop talking and instead –
Wait. I think I hear the baby waking up.

she was asleep on the brown sofa
one hand flung over the edge
as if reaching for the slice of cold pizza
fallen face-down on the carpet below

Today winter will
exfoliate the tender skin of your face
with the tiniest pellets of sleet I’ve ever seen.

the doctor was double-booked
the patient was on her lunch break
We need to save time. Let’s do the job in the elevator.
Plot #72 in the hospital TV drama playbook

Looking back, I wonder
if a lighter touch with the cayenne pepper –
but no. I used exactly the right amount.

this lovely snowflake
a lacy bit of meteorological frippery
fallen into my palm

I strain the just-cooked pasta over the sink.
The endless dripping pounds at my nerves.
I shriek. And tell the kids to call out for pizza.
I lie down with a cold pile of rigatoni on my forehead.

She’s trying to heal his broken heart
That doctor who just now left the room
But it’s not really her job. It’s mine.

Enjoy a light touch of below zero
blueviolet toes and chattering teeth
Stand in the periwinkle snow at sunset
breathe in the shards of icicle air.

but let’s stop pretending
a referral to a good hairdresser
is all it’s going to take

I left the room
taking my dumb ass mistakes with me
I’ll see if I can find a them buyer out on the street
I feel pretty certain I will

big loss to the dance world when those
quick-toed tap-dancing caterpillars quit
to become butterflies.

this melting flake of snow
a winter butterfly
gone too soon

did she mention me
the wounded lemon
whose sugar-sweetened blood she drinks?

undulate straight
into that bathtub, young man

said the mama worm to her son worm
you’ve been playing in the dirt all day

this absurd overcoat
holes in its pockets sleeves in rags
a slice of pizza fallen behind the lining

musical skeletons whose
knucklebones rise and fall in unison
twang a mournful remorseful tune
Oh I love that languid strumming sound

how happily we did do it
us gargoyles
gulp rain and spit it out

the sound of the traffic in the street
the small rhythms of it
that keep me from coming undone

the system
is the only friend I have left
tyrant though it is

Little Vines 2/9/21

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

a colleague finally asked the question about Mondays
everyone has been waiting to find out. I said No I do not know
why I always look hung over on Monday

But of course I did.

green ink in the pen
jealousy in my heart
I sealed the letter and sent it

like you meant that apology
is like I can swim the Atlantic Ocean
and do it without getting wet

chair endures toxic self-pity
rug is plagued by shredded nerves
doorknob cries all day.
And that’s just the living room.

a pinch
waiting for the right moment
to set out the bruise on your arm
that will blossom tomorrow

the light at the end of the tunnel
stretched out on a lounge chair at the resort
while we trudge on and on in the dank darkness

it’s all behind you
but not quite ready to die –
that old memory.

it’s all vanity
the shooting star said
just as it struck the ocean and fizzed out

please at least sew a straight line
you know I deserve
a scar that I can be proud of

don’t you think there is something screwy about
we’re paying taxes because that apallingly stupid idea
has made us so utterly filthy rich?

surely you’re not asking
what Dr. Cutt is all about, are you
when it’s so painfully apparent?

the idea of telling my story
and leaving nothing out –
to survive I have to say no to that

I am a point
not a line
I will never leave you behind

Standing here on the mountain
the sky
is always just one floor above you

An old apple
the last on the tree this year
bathes in sunlight. I let him be.

It was a small mercy
not very coherent
but I understood its message.
Thank you.

the clear star of yesterday that guides me today
the resonant voice of experience that tells me
these blue ink stains aren’t coming out of this dress

these five women over by the lava rocks
they definitely shouldn’t be here
on this tiny island that holds my favorite people

he cries all day
that’s just what his particular type of
apology is like

I told him to
mend his broken heart himself
but I left a bottle of glue for him, too

in the bowl full of tired carrots
you see her there still sleeping
stretched out under a blanket of lettuce

the beach beside the Atlantic Ocean
you sent it to me on a postcard
sprinkles of sand taped to the picture

one item noted in the ledger under essentials:
the cost of daily coffee bribes
to encourage my stolid nervous system into gear

How I love him, cliche though he is: he slips on a banana peel
while lemonade flows from curb to curb
he floats down the street tart and toot sweet
singing off-key and blowing kisses to me

Little Vines 2/4/21

move one centimeter to the left:
a wonderful decision
made by the caterpillar that I then did not step on

I want to caw like a happy crow
in the middle of a group of my friends
I will make it my business to survive
recover and sing raspy again

this naughty expression of sparkle and shine?
I stole it from the jewelry box
where you had kept it locked away for so long

one more bath
a little bit more polish
are you disappointed by what has been revealed?

choose the up-to-the-minute ones
the modish ones
the ones that nip you with their elegant teeth
while kissing you on both cheeks

assiduous semiprofessional he may be
but no one ever mistakes him for a maestro
it’s something that he will never get over

brains or talent
doesn’t matter, either is fine
but I don’t want that guy there on the end.
So I guess it’s really looks I’m after. OK?

a tart bit of poetic
and next thing you know I’m sitting beside her
playing cards at the dining room table

we’re here
let us help you
avoid another stupid romance

I’m sorry it’s not true
about the naked water-skiing outing
but cheer up there will always be
middle of the night freestyle square dancing

you can ask two men for directions but you know
you always need a third for the tie-breaker vote
Take my advice. Get the answer from a map.

the secret to life:
an inspired idea in the garage
is a dumb idea in the kitchen

Little Vines 1/26/21

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

My third-grade photograph torn in two by mistake
my head, separated from my shoulders,
flutters to the floor
even on paper I was always an accident-prone child

a photograph I’ve hidden in the pages of the book
nothing sinister about it
I’m just making arrangements to embarrass you

Bills and bills arriving in every mail delivery
Like a series of minor chords crashing to a crescendo
A dark opus for sure.

what I remember most clearly is this:
the house smelled like cooked cauliflower
and furniture polish.

the spot of red sauce
splattered on page 59 of the library book:
who did it and when?

You are wasting time
sweeping the universe with that giant telescope
because the stars are right here in my eyes

on a miserable night like this
your infuriating narrow-mindedness on every topic
is less important than whether you can drive in snow

Too many flavors
divide and shape my opinions.
I am so confused. Help me.

a comma
come take a look at it
it’s changing the whole meaning of this sentence!

the back of his ancient left hand
the paper-thin skin loose over the metacarpals
crossed by a vein of blue-green quartz

this scrawny cheese sandwich
apologizes for its ill looks
offers up a substitute:
how about my friend here, homemade fudge?

is there any topic
they’re not bickering about?
is there a quiet place anywhere in this house?

let the cat continue his nap
lying in a spot of sun filtered by the curtains
he is soaked in the color pink

All I could find to say was in this budget camera
So you see that my apology is made of cardboard
imprinted with my blurry beseeching selfie

the acorn did not need cooking –
the squirrel had no kitchen –
They were made for each other.

we all grew up together
the stale peanut cookie said
I’m the only one who made it to old age

the right eye
I’ve got a few ideas
about why it’s winking at the truth

those ancient bickering sisters
remind me of the washing machine –
cranky and always going around in circles

This notebook. One year. Thousands of words.
The stitching in the spine now unraveling
I discard it. No one is immortal.

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

Little Vines 1/11/21

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

the red sky at morning
A hurricane, maybe not
but do you want to count on it?

New world order.
A statuesque automaton and a self-driving car
They passed their citizenship tests today –
High Five! Honk Honk!

recruited your appendix –
and between them did they go to town on you.

Like a ship’s anchor
that friendship sank underwater
dragged bottom and crushed a mermaid.

step aside little potato and bypass the fray
strong emotions come into play
when brussels sprouts invade a plate

Hardly worth its time to sniff the food.
Cue petulant vocalizing.
The squared twelve minor bacteria shifts its pseudopod
and falls back to sleep.

She was looking attractive
and attached and
very married not to you

Fractured eye with the green
prism of jealousy held tight against
chalk-yellow face glitters through a blur of tears

the doctor stamps hard on your foot
puts pressure on your high teeth
and the baby pops out!

Tapestry: the thread used up
the pattern still incomplete
the decision makes itself

Come out of your dream
Shame no longer works
Let’s try this. Dangle him over boiling water.

the hard edges of her memory chiseled on the gravestone

how has a box of home-made fudge made you
such a reluctant giver
and you such an offensive recipient?

Fate’s big old rubber band
snaps back all your venom at you
like a colossal wasp it bites and
stings you hard. You swell up and die.

the artificial atmosphere
imparts unusual colors
to ordinary party chit-chat.

Take a seat in the waiting room
I promise you that your next good idea
will be with you shortly.

if you doubt yourself
sit on the sofa beside the aged cat
Wait for him to purr.

common as a comma
this beetle is
and yet where is another exactly like him?

Little triangle skinnies
cavort over the boiling sea
their iridescent veined wings sparkle
they flit among the pillars of rising steam

The fly evaded the swatter.
Another unused death,
thought the Big Old Non-Aligned Deity, and frowned.

Cardamom bickers with cloves and sugar
in every one of these muffins
but none of them really means anything by it

Tonight I baked
the shapeliest lasagna
in the galaxy.

Who knew the role of Hypocrite
would be so in demand?

the casting director mused. The farce rolls on.

Little Vines 1/4/21

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

work fast work very fast,
blink back those tears

I scream bloody murder is it a shark a jellyfish?
these slimy oceanic tentacles reaching out for me? No.
Drat this seaweed wrapping itself around my legs.

I still cherish the memory of our relationship –
a precious unbelievable seventeen seconds
I spent in fatuous admiration –
then she stepped off the elevator.

the rhythm leaks
the low notes are soggy
she’s singing with a bad cold again

just hurry and don’t ask questions
The guru guides the dramatized truth
You chase after it. That’s how it works.

a teenager at 6:15 AM –
twelve identical versions of sullen
lined up in front of me

Pet him, sure, but there is always some danger
that the polite lion will forget his manners
at the sight of your plump juicy arms.

the stolen figurine
fainted from the stress of the abduction
fell to the floor and went to pieces

I don’t want him to worry
but as that piranha accelerates toward him…
well, at least he can stop fretting over retirement now

your arm.
the numbness expands.
the cat sleeps on in blissful peace.
you don’t move. he’s so cranky when his nap is disturbed.

my chair –
a nosedive into it –
and quick as a wink the cat is curled up and fast asleep.

The penciled-in answers to the puzzle
in this odd book you picked up at the nonsense bookshop
Is it me, or have they suddenly begun making sense?

a great big belly laugh:
the only comeback
I have for everything you say these days

an ancestor
untidies your memories of her
when you discover her hidden diaries. Whoo boy.

The troubled woman tastes the theological pie
teetering on top of the plate of advice –
the pastor steeples his fingers and yawns

when an accountant screams red ink
the blood of your dying business on his hands
the efficient garotte of bankruptcy waits outside

How can its garish colors soothe the reddened eyes?
How can the blowsy rose in the funeral wreath
mediate the strident hatefulness of chance?

Little Vines 12/31/20

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

I’ve only got a few this week. We’ve been “on vacation” here and though we are at home, well, it’s a different routine when you are on vacation, no matter where you did or didn’t go!

See you next week. In 2021! Happy New Year!

divorce is when love says goodbye
the carriage returns to pumpkin form
the glass slipper splinters on your foot

the guilt
of a closet full of out-of-fashion clothes
with their tags still on

my first name is Flail
my last name is Bail
I’m a terrible friend. Never depend on me.

here we are ten years later
and yet it’s always those seventeen seconds
that we return to again and again

nine minutes left and it’s that last bit of sugar
now limping into the finish line
that will make this cake great
if it can stave off a challenge from the burned bottom

do you know where my boyfriend is?
because from that angle in the funhouse mirror
it looks like he’s kissing you. Oh, surely it’s just the mirror.

the case of dirt and tar and grime and gravel dust vs.
the offended bar of soap
asked to deal with them once again

the damage. the numbness.
the breaking down and the putting back.
and now your tooth is as good as new

Little Vines 12/16/20

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

I credit everything to my beauty regiment.
Surely you’ve heard the phrase “It takes an army”.
What? You say it’s regimen? Not at my mirror.

Trivial Moments Hair Gel – my go-to brand.
Smear it on thick. Let it soak in.
Every word you say will be expensively inoffensively

your desicated stringy explanation
it’s tough to swallow it.
I’ll have to chew harder.

because of one rude neighbor
willing to talk trash using a shovel
a mole man in two pieces is crying at my door

she stepped into the volcano
her wedding ring molten lava
inset with a red diamond on fire

in the darkness, torn apart and shaken,
the pillow lets loose a confetti of white feathers:
the full moon floats a night snowstorm to earth

she was plenty angry as you can imagine
and yet the ax was untouched by her emotions:
it merely did her bidding

And you say a bag full of cash
got in the way?
How can that ever be true?

I never owned a storm before
said this winter’s new young god
but I’m loving driving snow.

the vanished factory
now, a block of empty expensive apartments
next, a giant trellis for invasive vines
finally, an open field of seedling trees

I never decided to let the cash
make the difficult decisions –
It just did.

any more plums any more peas
and a pair of blue sneakers caked with dirt
and a garden full of a new fresh start