Holding on too tightly to lost love
diminishes the ability to hope;
makes nightmares out of dreams
that never would have come true;
coats darkness with promises of light.
The heart longs for decadent desire.
The desperate holds of desire
erase any chance for love.
Faith is held hostage by false hope,
lost in a labyrinth of dreams,
Despair leads to realities untrue;
lies cower from the light.
Shadows hide from any light
seeking only to fill their dark desire
offering control, disguised as love.
Slowly fades the last vestiges of hope;
nightmares brushed off as only dreams.
Lies unconsciously are considered true.
Letting go of what is right and true
the darkness further overcomes the light,
replacing loneliness with false desire.
Shattered illusions fill the eyes of love,
gently dropping the reins of tethered hope
as whispered words detail desperate dreams.
Truth prevails, entering waking dreams.
Eventually lies no longer ring true.
The darkness lifts as rises morning light.
The object is no more a lost desire.
Memories resurface of what construes true love.
Sleeping longings wake with newfound hope.
The lost self has found its way back home,
remembered its long, forgotten dreams;
discovered that shadows hid what was true.
Now darkness fades before the light.
The soul fills with belief and warm desire,
no longer wanting dependency but love.
For all the dreams now able to come true,
light has returned, gone is evil's desire.
Only the love of one's self can foster such hope.
In the front seat of my Chevy,
on Friday nights,
in a time
before there were consoles,
and seat belts
I could smell your closeness.
There was nothing between us
except a steady pulse of
blues, swing, or Rock and Roll
from the AM station:
"for Veronica and Mary Jo
from the boys at Tastee-Chicken
here's Buddy, Basie or the King!"
I drove, left hand on
the shiny knob
strapped to the steering wheel,
right arm around your shoulders,
dangling ever closer to your breast.
I would taste shampooed strings of hair.
I could smell your closeness.
Now with seat belts in the Volvo,
diaper bags on the floor,
a soccer schedule on a magnet
in the green glow of the dashboard
and public radio's cool jazz,
you stare out the window
as we drive to your mother's
I still smell your closeness.
There's a coffee cafe we go to after work,
Where all the cynical poets lurk.
You hear them making dangerous sounds,
As they drink their trademark, Strange Grounds.
The coffee itself is completely bizarre,
It doesn't have liquor but you might wreck your car.
Some say they incorporate a strange ingredient,
That might be legal, and even make you obedient.
The coffeehouse sits on top of a hill,
It probably won't close if it's anyone's will.
Nobody knows why the coffee's so inspiring,
People read poems until they are tiring.
All the has-beens come there to rekindle
Their poet careers which are starting to dwindle.
A pot of espresso of the house specialty
And their rhymes are just flying with excellency
The conversations you hear are amazing
Tons of good poets who are worth much praising
I went to coffee with my poet buddy Walter
When it comes to rhyming he does not falter
As he drank the coffee, he started grunting,
Then out of the blue he said, "wanna go duck-hunting?"
So at six in the morning we sat in a boat
With our shotguns poised, in a yellow rain coat
"Boy," said Walter, "This is what it takes!
If you want to be a poet, don't make no mistakes!
You say you are a poet, you can't be the best,
But duck-hunting puts some hair on your chest!"
The minute he said that, a duck flew above us,
Walter took a shot, and started to cuss.
"See what I mean! You gotta pay attention,
The duck flew by and sensed our intention.
You gotta figure out what a bird might do,
And for no other reason, write a haiku."
Well I shot ten ducks, and Walter shot one,
He was a sorry resentful, son-of-a-gun.
I wrote a haiku, well maybe one or two,
But Walter got an unheard-of case of bird flu.
I don't know how his luck got so bad,
It was one of the best times I ever had.
The next day in the coffee shop,
I had some stories for which I could swap.
Amid all the clamor I served some roast duck
We drank lots of coffee and things went amuck.
People started getting sick from my cooking,
I dumped the food in the trash when no one was looking.
A man said, "Because of you, I got bird flu,
You'll hear from my lawyer! I'm going to sue!
So I changed my identity and never came back,
That delicious coffee is what I do lack.
Since then, I just drink coffee at home,
A perfect place to write a good poem.
To the coffee shop, I won't be coming back,
So goodbye to all! And to all a good quack!
I never needed JESUS
You were my savior
Even though I was a lost soul
I didn't beleve in anything anymore
Until I met you
Our love was a miracle
Causing us to be reborn
I never needed Angels
Because I had you
You wore no halo
But you were as powerful as if you had wings
Carrying me through some pretty rough times
You became my religion
Yes, I worshipped you
Your death became my Armaggedon
Now I pray everyday
That we will be together again
Because wherever you are is heaven.
I have had me some sweethearts
who said they thought me wise;
traded love for some bountiful
baskets of lies.
It was all so mercantile,
I recall with a sigh.
It seems I was born to be an older guy.
My delirious romances
all ended in a huff.
I haven't loved often
or even enough,
but I'm done with my fool's game
of wondering why.
It seems I was born to be an older guy.
Companion forever hopes,
duets in the sun,
I had my chances
and I blew every one.
Panning for gold in the waste of woe -
You know it's folly to try.
One might say I was born to be an older guy.
No more quilt and antique shopping.
There's more room to stretch in bed.
Don't have to pretend to like her friends;
I just have to pretend to like my friends instead.
I've not vacuumed my house
since last fourth of July.
It seems I was born to be an older guy.
Henry walks into the restaurant
In stocking feet. Suddenly
His wife, son, and daughter see
That no one noticed Dad shuffling
To the old Buick, shoeless.
Dad, a child now chauffeured
In the back seat of his own car,
Now he sees that he has forgotten
No one says anything.
No one knows that the daughter,
Here now with the family, has been
Disinherited. The family is well-schooled
In keeping up appearances, but the daughter
Followed her heart and broke
The rules for Love in the Middle Class.
Later, she will be the one to pull off
His clammy white socks, rub his sallow,
Calloused feet with her thumbs.
She will smooth over the balls of his feet
With the fleshy part of her palm,
Kneading each foot gently. And seeing
The bulging veins, the turbulent river
Of his old body, the collapsed tributaries,
And the old bones splayed like the wing
Of a raven, she will rub until his feet
Turn pink, as though they were embarrassed.
His feet will blush
And flush with a warmth
He hardly recognizes.
Her father's daughter and will not cry.
Neither speaks an apology.
She is washing his feet
With a white washcloth
Soaked in lemon-scented shampoo.
This he accepts without judgment.
Seventy years ago in West New York,
the Van Buren Wildcats initiated my father
into the gang. Sitting him atop a fetid hill
at the city garbage dump, they screamed
at the top of their adolescent lungs:
"Let the Pigeons Fly!" Handfuls
of rotten tomatoes, the mulch of old tires,
used diapers and pitted newspapers,
the swill of other people's lives,
jetted through the air. Missiles
rose like angels, clinging to my father
with the merriment of stench and filthy blessing.
Unaware that metaphor becomes reality,
and long after the Wildcats skulked off
among the tenements and the detritus of youth,
my father, now barely breathing the leftovers of life,
crowned with the muck of age, infirmity his kingly cape,
reigns in his wheelchair. The story he told us often
over cookies and milk has forgotten him,
but he remains, as ever, king of the hill,
keeping the myth alive.
To put with wit
A stopping stone
That rolling to
Sat still as bone
A toil that ends
The job that starts
Of fits and Starts
The barnacle on the
The jell-o in your hair
All there to tell us
Our motion stills
And after tired bodies
Are finally come to rest
We can count by
Who and what was best
Just like the heaving
Inertia comes to point us
And relate it to the
A mother's tears
My necklace make.
They link the years,
An old keepsake.
Each baby cry,
All childhood falls,
Your grown goodbye
Or dream that stalled.
Each smothered hope,
Rash driving spree,
When you eloped
Your quick retort,
More links did forge,
More tears did graft.
Stilled parent's voice
When heart won't bend,
Her child's wrong choice
Or untrue friend.
A mother's fears
Set her apart
And keep her tears
Close to her heart.
Each one a part
Of a growing chain,
Within her heart
Woes liked remain.
They fade through years,
But a mother's tears
Adorn her heart.
There are sleepers along the walk,
stripped to the waist in heat
that does not break
even when it rains. It rolled in
at the beginning of May and has
crushed the last parasol of resistance
by the end of June.
Some of them
worked through the night on this
city that has no idea how to stop. Some
will rise soon to begin again,
tearing the city down by hand with pick
and hammer, while massive
trucks wait in line to pour concrete
where the Phoenix city rises
as it falls, a Daoist geometry
of solid contraries. Some
will gather at the edges of rich people's haunts
and scratch for leavings as they pass.
There are little armies marching on
these same edges with sticks
they carry to keep the rabble in
line, ensure that money is never disturbed.
There are moments of contact; where a cop
and a beggar have waited on the same corner
for years, there is a strategic admiration
like that between commanders who face each other
on the same battlefield a long time, intimate
as lovers. The longer the war, the more
it resembles a lover's quarrel.
I have seen cops and beggars
trade smiles and conversation after
coins have dropped and another tourist has
gone away undisturbed. They have roles
to play, and the drama, like the city, does
not sleep for fear it will not wake. When
a coin drops in a beggar's bowl, it is
the sound of money, rhythmic as picks
and hammers at scenes of endless construction:
tear the city down, raise the city up, let us
make a city. There are sleepers, but never the city.
Three young teens have brought a skateboard
to practice on the wide open square at hai shong shie jie--
almost too early to vogue, but a cop not much older
than they watches with a look that says he would
join them if he could. He will send them away
when the square is crowded with tourists
and young mothers who bring their children
here to walk. But not now. A man who must be forty-
something stops, hand on hip contrapposto, to watch them.
He can remember a moment like this
if he holds himself still against the money. But still
is possible only for an instant at the pivot point
on which the world turns. He moves, and so
do the boys with the skateboard.
A mother laughs with her daughter
in a bright orange dress, shows her how
to flap her wings, and, trailing tiny
bells of laughter,
(Published in Moon City Review, Autumn 2004,
and Fallen Prose, Virtual Artists Collective, 2006)
You must know how you attract me.
You are the light that guides me
amid surrounding night.
You have such warmth, and yet
you seal yourself within
a globe of glass where I can see you
but never touch. My antennae
can't discern what signal you are sending.
Over and over, I try to draw near
until with battered wings I fall.
Behind the computer congestion
the digital id
the networking to Oz
as we download our frustration
lies a background of Chrysanthemums
and glacial mountains,
our lily white utopia,
pure as snow, stands unchanged
against the ever changing binary ions.
Our perfect dream seems
as real as yesterday,
as attainable as a drifting hitchhiker
alone on a desert highway,
frozen with grief
and with laughter he empties his
pockets to find only the filled space of time,
the present moment of being
the conversation faking up
for the void of coins
with just a little effort he hitches
up his backpack
and leans down to pick a flower.
Copyright Notice: Copyrights for all of the above poems remain with the individual authors. No work here is to be reused without permission from its author. To request permission, contact a member of the ISPS Web Committee.