On the Phone, 1978

My grandma stood outside the door
to the garage.  The cord went through the
crack.  I wouldn’t hear what she was
saying. The drier spun to her voice.

“Get away from the door,” my grandpa said.
“I want to hear what grandma’s talking about.
I think it’s me.”

Grandpa’s eyes changed.  He took out a deck
of cards from the drawer.  “Wanna play 21?”
He set the cards on the kitchen table.

When she finally came in, I was concentrating
on my Ace.  One or eleven.  Her hands 
surprised me.  They were on my shoulders.

“Eleven. See?” She pointed to the eight. 

I looked back and up.  Her hair was lit from the 
ceiling.  She was my grandma.

I decided right then:
she was my grandma.

More poetry here.

Or maybe a story? Here.

Oxnard Street Poet

Older than the sidewalk cracks and
street, settled on his flaking porch,
he remembered the Valley when it was trees.

“I’m ready to not be old,”
he said as I passed by.
His eyes were uncommonly blue,
for an old man.
He said: “They published my poem.”
I was on my way to school,
about to not stop.
“Once I get the book,
I’ll read it to you.”

*

The book cost $49.95.
He held up the flyer they sent.
But he was proud, 
so I said nothing.

*

“Hallo,” he’d say,
waving from his chair.
“Hello,” I’d say,
not wanting to be rude.
Lovely day,
awesome morning,
top of the world,
hello, hallo,
have a good day.

Joe was great-uncle wrinkled,
and I had class to get to,
I was a Senior.
But everyone should talk
to a grandpa sitting on a porch.

*

He asked if I wanted to read his poem.
The book was thick with cheap paper.
I was late but said yes
and the poem was about apples
and I didn’t have to make something up.
It was worth more than the book.

“Do you like it?” he asked.
“I want to read it to my English class.”
Joe gave me his book.
He said to be careful with it.
“I never got published before.”

*

We sat watching cars
speed down Oxnard Street,
heads moving left to right
then back again, ready.

*

Joe made coffee
and I listened to stories.
He voted for Roosevelt
and Nixon, twice —

“bet you no one’ll ever tell you that!” —

He didn’t like his grand-daughter.
He said I wouldn’t either.
“Uppity.  Ugliness is inner.”
He said if you wanted to get 
a pothole fixed in LA,
put a movie-camera next to it
and the mayor would come fill it himself.

He so near the end
talked to me so near the beginning,
said we were bookends on God’s shelf.
His hands trembled, so I carried the cups.
“That’s what age does,
shakes us loose
from the inside out.”

*

The Oxnard Street poet and
an uppity kid who learned to listen
to words warmed by coffee
and care
and age.

More poetry here.

Stories? Here.

For Now

The sun feels good in this world,
warm,
wide-windowed breeze
and your brown clone sunglasses
with golden wire frames.
I think I’m falling.

With you, my skin is tanned to sand,
porch-picnic-ready,
your mom asking “So is he
treating you good?”
When I say yes,
she gets that twinkle
so I know what she means.
I nod, shy; she smiles, 
proud of her son.

I sit in your world
and we all eat chicken and talk
about school and 
TV and
how you know when you’re in love.
(They had a lot of wine.)
Here, your parents are mine;
they don’t have to say 
I’m welcome.

Now I remember:
Mom hides fear in her smile
while dad tries hard to forget
me,
sewn up tight as he
feasts on fury.
I am a billion sand-pieces
waiting for glass.

“Come on,” you say.
“The road’s too cool
for that.”
So I wrench out of then, 
kiss this
forget that
for now.

More? Click here.

Beginning Middle Man — Poems

Beginning Middle Man. Its poetry is surprisingly straightforward, honest and strong, adult without apology. All gay-eros, all the time, a way of remaining true to what I’ve known since I was 17: if we’re not talking about sex, then we’re not talking about ourselves.

These poems are like most men I know and love, rough around the edges and awkward in the extreme. But still beautiful. 

Available at:

Lulu.com

Amazon.com


More? Click here.

“Browsing”

Library of Memory,
finger on the spines
that hold together
me.

Oh, I do not like this book!
(Though I’ve read it a thousand times.)
I was too young to understand.
How was I to know?
(I knew.)
One night
sags the shelf
that ought to be
in the Restricted Section
(like the old days, when you had to ask
for the books with drawings).
These spines are warped.
Horrible!

I move on. 
My, this one is beautiful.
Just look at its golden cover:
“Full of greeting cards and fairy tales.”
Here, I learn right from wrong
and begin to build My Best Self.
Things work out in this book
(just like a Hollywood movie).
Grandma really likes it.
I really should read it someday.

But they said I could take out only one.
Maybe this one? Bright and Sunny Days?
And there are other rooms,
futures I’ve never visited,
a place for faith. Philosophy.
I really should…

as I bow my head,
reach for Mistakes
and turn to you.

Uh-huh there’s more. Click here.

“Parking”

“You should call security.
These homeless people.”

     But there was something else,
     some bit of sadness —

“...always think it’s tragic
when I’m the one paying rent...”

     — behind still-hopeful eyes,
     as a silly heart-shaped balloon 
     floated forward, started to sag.

“in our building? Was he good looking?”

What?

His eyes shut mine
against the breach.
So much to give
as you focus parts,
abs and arms alone,
always.
But those weighted lips,
like waves,
carried dreams

until they reached my shore..

Want more? Sure? Click here.