Thursday, September 14, 2017

Angel's breath

I felt the angel's warm breath
on the back of my neck
but it was just
the laundromat's exhaust.

I spun around hoping
for a guardian and found
a hopeful street walker instead.

There's not much salvation
to be had for fifty bucks,
cooking up a spoonful
or renting a body and a bed.

She said, do you have a date?
and let go of the nubby knee length coat
that she clutched at her throat.
Underneath, her dress
barely reached her thighs.

I already have one, I lied.
trying to hide my naivete and pride.
If I'd listened to my body
and not the fires in my head,

I would have received a lesson
about the fusion of two warm bodies
instead of Teller's cold vision
of fission products and isotopes,
countdowns, kilotons, trajectories,
and the price of primo Afghan dope.

I said, I'm just waiting for my bus.
She just smiled and replied,
Sure honey, but if it don't work out,
I'll be right here to take you inside.
But the ride I was on took longer,
and the breath that I felt
was no angel's but mine.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


unknown in

but I can.

waking sometimes

the universe
was kind.

even if the dream
which had me smiling,

and it was just another
morning shower, coffee,

fragment of a thought before
I sat down at the screen

to draw a map
of a place I've never been.

some city in LA,
not Manhattan.
I was there at seventeen,

no one knew me then.
and might not ever still.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Street Scene

This guy, big bushy beard
and a dirty A's cap,
spreads a box of french fries
on the sidewalk on Front Street.

Stirs and stares at them
like some kind of divination,
the one where a shaman
tosses sticks and reads the pattern.

Chuckles softly and chooses one.
Pops it in his mouth.
Some crumbs trickle down
and stick in his beard.

A neatly dressed, middled aged
African American man
with dignified, upright posture,
pushs a wheeled wire cart
packed with his possessions
down the street.

A boom box in his cart 
broadcasts a big marching band
version of My Country 'tis of Thee
followed by the Star Spangled Banner.

Three office hipsters stroll side by side
stepping around the french fry guy.
Talking about bosses and boyfriends
and trying to decide where to go
for happy hour drinks.

The sidewalk french fry shaman
points a limp fry at the hipsters,
laughs and says,
how bout buying one for me?

A family of tourists,
dressed for last week's weather
and looking lost,
peer at maps and apps.
Dad points left, Mom points right,
the girl peeks at the french fries,
the boy stares at his feet.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

the gift

that this stony orb
with a molten heart
bathed in a sea of tears

was as right as goldilocks'
middle bowl and bed.

that we have stardust
in our bones.

that microbes and algae
branched and flowered

till sequoias towered
and bower birds

decorated the jungle floor
with bright pebbles
and scarlet flowers.

that it's been sixty five
million years since
the last big asteroid
struck the earth

and that eden's apple
kept on falling til  it landed
on isaac newton's head.

that women's contours
are more pleasing
than adam's rib.

that the menagerie
at lascaux was not
a one time stroke.

that gray whales still
compose new songs
each year and my ear

can find delight in them
as much as bach and rock.

that a dying man
playing a rusty anthem
on a badly tuned piano
still makes me shiver.

that sidewalk sleepers
fill me with shame
and gratitude

that my nights spent
under bridges
have been few.

that love is where
you make it
if you want to.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

no toasts and flowers

for mohammed and maria,
none for john and robert ,
or father tom and sister jane,
and never jennifer and kate.
and jethro and jamaica
will surely burn forever.

however there's a corner
of verona in every town
and an alley back
behind it where
clandestine lovers
make plans and promises

and fornicate
before the swords
and ugly words emerge
to scourge and vilify,

and test their courage
in the public eye
and the tulsa tongues
begin to deeply savor

all the juicy flavor of the stories
passed from phone to phone
about what a certain minister
has been doing with his brother's wife.

if that goes where it looks like it's going
i don't expect we'll be throwing any rice.

and by the way, i heard
that a salt and pepper couple
-if you know what I mean-
have been seen performing acts
that would make a porn queen blush

i have it on good authority
that every tuesday night
they go at it in a car
parked out behind that bar
on county road 18.

Friday, August 25, 2017


In the old man's mind's eye
he saw his faith as like
a broken stained glass
window in the church

where he had learned
comforting psalms as a child,
when his kindergarten innocence
was still intact but cracking. 

His grace.
insubstantial as a moth
in the altar candle's flame.

He found comfort -sometimes-
on rainy weekday afternoons
drowsing in a back row pew
sheltered from the latest news.

Sunday services were too much.
Too much goodwill, too much love
which he found difficult to reciprocate.
But he loved the music, so

he tried to be invisible
wrapped deep within his overcoat,
joining the joyous songs softly
a ventriloquist would be proud.

He always left
before the service ended,
found his favorite bench
in the park across the street

where he could sit unnoticed
as the elderly often seem to be,
a fragment of the landscape
like the pigeons and the elms.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ain't no cure

Jamal was pissed.
insisting to his sister
loudly on his Samsung,
-build the wall, build the wall.

His interview had gone badly
and he suspected
that the manager, Mr Garcia
was holding out the position

for some damn cousin
up from some god damn
fuck'n Burritoville
like the three senoritas

he saw working the register
and the sandwich counter.
He glared at the rest of us
waiting for the bus

like he didn't care who
was listening.
Maria and Meifeng
stared at the ground.

Joyce, the transit Inspector
the one who looks like
a caramel hip hop dream,
leaned up against the window

outside the new Philz Coffee,
rolled her eyes, curled her lip,
caught my glance with a sadly
knowing nod as if to say,

What world does the brother
wanna be livin' in? walled up
like a whites only country club?
This Trump bullshit is getting thick.