Tomorrow May Come

The people who are dead inside
hang their heads like shameful dogs
in collared shirts of whites and blues
plaids and checks
clinging to worn bus seats
and greasy poles
on this sunny day
of strange warmth
and lingering summer.
I shout:
Don’t give up!
There is more to this dream.
It’s a gift,
but you have to look.
No — really look.
Don’t shut it out.
Open your eyes.
Chin up.
They blink under glossy stares,
their eyes aglow with phone screens,
tweets and hashtags
fake news and ads.
They thought they heard
someone,
or maybe not —
not today at least,

Hearts and Skulls

Move over.
I’m bones that must Exit here
to be at my desk by 8:58 A.M.
Get out of my way.
I no longer have a pulse,
but I do have a memory one,
faded as it is,
like a pair of watercolor jeans.
I’m pushing you.
Don’t you feel my hand?
You look through me, as if I don’t exist.
Is any of this real?
Oh my God.
I’m but a skeleton sucking air,
answering to the whim of my masters –
Money,
and Metrocards.
This is my stop.

Her Half-Life


She’s a nice person.
She has a common face.
Her lips are painted magnolia, cheeks rouged pink.
Her hair is pulled back, dyed straw blonde and blown straight.
A smile is affixed to her face, quaking as if drawn by a child’s finger.
She looks towards the door of the subway car, her mask tight.
She’s resentful because she’s had no voice.
She was whistled at when she was young and ignored now that she’s old.
She’s been yelled at by men for driving too aggressively and honked at for going too slow.
Her boss eats the lunch his wife packed and interrupts her to say she should use fewer words.
Her friends make recriminations over the mommy at soccer practice who brought cupcakes instead of healthy snacks.
Her own kids don’t know who she really is.
Her husband treats her like furniture.
And she can’t stand it.
But what is she to do?
She doesn’t want to be a Bitch or Slut.
She’s a Mother.
She’s a nice person.
She clutches her black purse and jacket,
staring into space,
her lips a slash of purple skin.

To a Friend: The Button and the Cliff

When losing a button
becomes the end of the world,
and you think this is as far as you can go,
you’ve reached your edge,
the limit of what a human can endure.

You think of the struggle:
waiting in traffic at the tunnel,
the man who flips you off,
on a street cleaning day
that leaves your car blocked in
so that you can’t get home
so you write a note
saying how pissed you are
that goes unanswered.

Is this worth it?
Does any of it matter?
Is anyone listening?

You close your lids
and stare into the emptiness
where you watch your breath
move in and out
and label your thoughts
past, present and future,
and soon you see a splotch of purple
that turns into a palisade with a
darkened sky and dancing trees,
but it has nothing to say to you.

Another dead end,
which makes you think that this too
means nothing.

So you return your attention to the present,
which is in the room where you are sitting,
and you can hear the voices around you,
and the music playing softly;
you can feel the breath and the sweat,
and the warmth of lights on your skin
and the floors touching your thighs.

These are just atoms, you think,
made of nothing until they are labeled,
but they do matter,
to you.

So you get up,
and do it all over again.