To Those Who Take

Stories
are whispers
heard in darkness.
Standing
in a black room
with walls ground of bones,
I hear them murmur,
telling lies
of how they’ve come
to be locked inside.
They talk over one another,
always asking for more
than I can give.
Their voices turn
into echoes
upon echoes
that continue endlessly
amongst the bats and the dust.
I turn away
and cover my ears.

Other People’s Windows

Central Park is closed,
but I stand inside
it’s gates,
holding my little dogs
as they sniff
and scratch
and pee.
A rat rounds the garbage can,
squeaking,
at the sound of a carriage,
hooves weary under
the weight of sneakers
and foreign tongues.
Street lamps leak
white ghosts
onto the sidewalk that turns
in Olmsted curves,
and light spills from
other people’s windows.
I see their shadows,
turning in salons of
gold and red,
silent,
and baroque,
like reveries
of a time that
once sipped
pleasure.

Photo by:
Sean Witzke

The Garland

In her hands
is a chain of roses,
linked together
by a thread
knitted by a chrysalis,
sewn with a needle.
The petals curl inwards,
touching each other,
warmed with rubies
and swirled with
the sky.
These binds,
these connections,
we make with our hands,
our faces,
our bodies,
we seal and lock
in our thoughts.
Now,
this really about the mind
in the present moment
where there’s a cosmic river
of minerals and time.
Without it,
there are no flowers.

Splendid Lushness


I will never see those leaves again,
not after the luxury rental units are built,
and the ads that sell marble countertops, stainless steel appliances and parking included invite tenants one-by-one,
to gaze upon the foliage
from their own kitchen windows.
Those leaves,
swathed in dew,
veins of chlorophyll,
papering the walls of the jagged palisades
where abandoned factories
and once-loved houses teeter.
Eyes of broken windows look down upon me, mouths a grimace of peeling paint.
And those leaves;
My leaves of unspeakable lushness mask the ugliness of this urban decay.
A breeze causes them to shake,
but I cannot hear the rustle,
for the sound is buried beneath
tires tearing on potholed pavement,
buses rattling towards the Lincoln Tunnel,
and the low hum of a nearby electrical plant.
Danger.
Hard Hats Only.
I am lucky to see the green,
so bright in the morning light,
like a patch of clover,
or a polo field before the hooves.
I’ll never see my leaves again,
and it brings no comfort
that someone else will.

Last Supper

Under the full moon,
on the floor of the Subaru Outback with leather seats and a back up cam,
are the remains of a chili cheese hot dog from 7-Eleven;
an empty bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos;
a Charleston Chew wrapper (cherry flavored);
a medium-sized Shamrock Shake partially consumed, tipped on its side;
Marlboro Light butts in the dips of the emergency break;
a PBR tall boy tossed into a child’s car seat;
an empty bottle of Wild Turkey nestled in a blanket stinking of dog breath.
There’s a cell phone with a cracked screen and a text from Maura reading,
“Taking kids to mom’s. Don’t call.”
Once the man looked like Chandler Bing,
now he’s melted on the dashboard of a car
where a tree stopped him cold.
There is nothing in the trunk.

Lady in Lace

I snap open the window
of the small airplane tipping to and fro,
and see the Sierra mountains.
Clouds pull across the craggy peaks like
a bride’s veil on a windy day,
her lips rocking up and down,
her eyes a drought of tears.
Hooves on stones drive
towards the white church
where a river once ran.
Some miles away, snow-knotted socks
lay upon a coal burning stove
as melted water taps onto fresh pine floors.
Fool’s gold rattles in a rusted pan,
falling between dirty fingers,
which grapple the breast of a whore
and long for the lady in lace
who he will never marry
since she is now with another.
I shut my window,
and the plane passes over
these time-trapped shadows.

Jane Says

This city’s madness,
a tapestry of too much of it all.
There’s always someone or something
that drives a steak into my personal space:
an angry man in a black car honking;
a family walking four abreast on the sidewalk, slowly;
my neighbor vacuuming the concrete on her patio;
the lot across from me a construction zone of cats, gravel and a “dust control” truck.
Cement and traffic.
People and skyscrapers.
I just want to get away from it.
And yet I have lived in the country
Where the absence of annoyance
is a peaceable kingdom
that can be dulling,
like a drill to my temple,
boring,
until I’m lobotomized and desensitized.
Because it’s easier to be average
than to step outside.
So never mind,
this wayward thought
of leaving my jungle behind.
I think I’ll stay.

*

But if I left where should I go?
To the lands south of here, perhaps.
The broad avenues and cobblestone quarters of Buenos Aires,
where I’d amble among the vendors offering silver jewelry and cups of perfumed wine.
Or maybe to the ocean,
where I’d stand at the edge of a Caribbean beach washing my toes, the sun heavy on my shoulders.
My little dogs would wrestle nearby,
their fur faded and salty, littered with sand.
Scratching, always itchy.
But would I be satisfied?
I don’t know,
for I’m not sure what I’m looking for,
aside from these abstract concepts of happiness, knowledge, acceptance
and love.
I have thought of evaporating,
to escape the disappointment
of these things I don’t have,
or that I’ve lost.

*

I seek an authentic life,
in its most abstract sense,
like devouring an apple to its core and swallowing the seeds.
If I only eat the flesh,
I will only half know the apple.
Why eat around the hard and bitter parts?
The problem isn’t my city,
nor is another place the solution.
That’s the painful part,
which causes me to swell
with tears.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder,
if starting over is such a terrible thing.
Perhaps it’s out there after all,
my home.
my family,
myself.
I can’t know the answer.
I can only hope.

Things That Go Missing

Once someone gave me advice.
If I lend someone a thing,
I must never expect it back,
so I should only give what I can do without.
If they return it, it will be a gift.

Wisdom, I thought.

Yet, it does not apply to stealing.
For if someone takes a thing,
I have a right to expect it back,
to hunt it down to the ends of the Earth
and to seek vengeance upon he who took it.

I think here of my little dog.

When she went missing,
I thought the Universe stole her.
The quantum ray read,
“Frankie is here. Frankie is not here.”
Her electrons spilled through two slits.
In one world she was with me,
and in the other she was no more,
like my parents who have gone too.

I was angry; I had been mistaken.

The Universe did not steal her,
it merely borrowed her.
To pet, I presume,
because she is so cute
and has a good heart.

After the wind had ruffled her hair,
and the skies had looked down upon her glowingly,
and the sun washed its rays in her golden fur,
the Universe returned her to me,
stinking of garbage but otherwise unharmed.

A gift indeed.

Monkey See

Mind-body goes the mantra.
But what of body over mind?
To will the body into suppliance is a difficult endeavor,
for it’s an unwieldily thing.
It doesn’t want to do what I tell it,
like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, its opinion is woefully strong.
I’m hungry-I’m thirsty-I’m tired.
To deign a leg to move gracefully behind the head.
Oh, the impossibility!
And then the other.
Cross, darn feet!
Lift up!
The body’s grudge isn’t the pain of creaking hips; those open like rusty hinges.
Nor is it the fear of falling backwards; I trust that my arms will catch the floor.
It just likes to whine,
especially when I make it fly,
though at the moment when no part of me is touching the ground, I say,
“Move, now!”
And it does, an obedient dog.
Then my hands catch myself before I land,
so as to not break a toe.
Because I have heard that can happen.

Apathy of Flowers

You sip your rose
as pink petals swirl around you,
ripped from the branches
of a cherry tree by a solar wind
that tears through the streets.
You text your tattooed friend
to meet you at the outdoor cafe
when the wind tips your glass
with its oily claws,
leaving sticky flowers on your lap.
You laugh and order another.
You’re right to enjoy this moment of summertime in springtime.
Or are you?
Behind you, the wind gathers strength,
and the flowers turn in an eddy at the intersection,
pummeling the windshield of a convertible that rounds the corner, swarming a woman as she crosses the street.
This is how the end begins,
with a warm day, an unnatural wind, and the flight of flowers.
There is nothing to do about it,
except to say, “oh well” to your apathy.