Good Ol’ Gal

The grandmother never existed.
I made her up — the convalescent home,
the diabetes, a high school lie.  
Her name was Betsy,
and she never asked for candy,
or walked me through the Depression.
Hand-made soap, aero-planes —
the whole shebang 
kinda not true.

But she was a good ol’ gal,
always ready to listen to my 
teen-boy problems, so open 
to “these new-fangled relationships” —
“It’s not like we didn’t mess around
in our day,” she once said.
“Just don’t get anyone pregnant!”
She knew there was no girl,
nodded when I told her how 
all my friends — you — stared at me	
like I had depth, like I was heroic 
just for visiting The Elderly.

Well, Betsy would’a liked that.
She would’a liked that just fine.
If she had ever existed.

*

Sea Wall with Mountain in Background

“Do you love him?”

We walk the Sea Wall.
He studies the sound,
Grouse Mountain, green-black 
cross-hatch of hemlock and fir.

      “No.”

“Sure?”

      He talks past water
      lapping round rocks,
      love near water
      breathing distant trees.

“Because it’s okay if you do.”

      A canopy.
      I love this place.

“I love that mountain.”

      He loves the mountain.
      Vancouver.
      He loves me.
      All that love.

“Two trees in a forest, eh?
You and me.”

      Side by side,
      friend I love; 
      side by side,
      roots entwined.

      “Yes, you and me.”

*

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DayDream

I imagine you shocked at my lifeless body,
dead on the floor, carpet stained with me.
You don’t believe it. You think I’m playing.
I’m not. It dawns on you I’m over.

I hear your no no no, just
like you did when the dog died in your arms — 
see tears slide down your abandoned face,
feel your torment love confusion hate.

I miss you more than my self,
know the price of life is death,
pay the cost of love with loss…

just as customer service asks for my credit card.

*

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Yes, Brother

When I ab and sunglass,
trim, talk low-and-slow — 
pose an aging, faithful body
against sunning sand and waves,
breathless for perfection’s attention,
I know:
Brother, you’re not for me.

When I’m empty, yet still scrape 
this darkening shell for one more 
acceptable pearl;
when I pray dimmed sea-light and
dusky stars right my crooked face,
I know:
Brother, you're not for me.

But if on this patient winter’s beach
we wander from books to pasts,
honor quiet scars and funny ignorance, 
sandy jeans, faded flannel shirts
warm against the LA cool;
cheap beer;
if you ask for another, eyes 
still on the page, and laugh a bit
at my dancing disbelief:

Brother, my answer is yes.

*

Poems, the good ones, are small stories. See other stories here.

Two Trees

I couldn’t help it, leaving.
It  must be the way I’m made.
They spoke God,
said I'd wreck my soul
with that abomination —

so I chose the other tree,
blue-green against the same sky,
splashed its dark on my face
and fell sound asleep

as they raged beneath
an equally good tree
preparing for my salvation.

*

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I’ve Tried

I’ve tried
to not want my City,
to make life here,
far from the streets and hills and men
that brought me life in such breadth that I gulped lust
at every turn, bodies and books and 
sweet blessed fog, busses, parks,
crazies four floors beneath screaming
“HELP! HELP!” though there’s only a streetlamp,
three-hundred-dollar theater seats steps from
human defecation (it’s not pretty) —
tether-bridges to windy and windy headlands and 
mystical beaches and sex — 
where to walk is to be enveloped,
in love.

I tried 
to love her instead of him, once upon a time,
way back when lies meant caring, 
and my brain and niceness said I 
shouldn’t hurt anyone so I 
drowned Aaron in hope and went on screwing
and became good at it and talked about;
but each night, laying on top of her
sweet and forgiving body, sculpted
ballers did sweaty lay-ups in my room,
in my head
in me
and if it wasn’t for those players,
she never would’ve cum,
so it seemed like it was okay.
But it wasn’t.

I tried Return of the Native.
I tried The Glass Menagerie.
Everything by Faulkner.
All I wanted was Sassoon,
maybe a little Woolf,
but I’d lock myself in my room
to read words words words,
and I’d yawn yawn yawn —
while A Room of One’s Own
whispered slyly to Suicide in the Trenches:
“He’s missed the point.
“He’s really missed the point.”

Sushi Streisand Dances with Wolves
mango con limón my dear friend who wants 
to be dear so he must be but…
no-fap novenas TED Talks on writing
guys who aren’t built
who really aren’t built
who seriously aren’t built
great personalities
no-fap
try try try
John Cage
no-fap
“Thy will be done”
Los Angeles
Christianity —

when all along, sweet lullaby,
sleeps the not-tried, the true, 
until I put on a jacket
against cold San Francisco freedom
and smile

destiny.

*

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My Garden

He lives in my garden;
only I have the key.
There is no gate, no
lock to un-lock like
those posh private parks,
just a tree and some
grass, balloons from a story
and maybe an old bottle of
wine we bag before law comes
spinning around, on the hunt
for happiness.  Over there is
our first kiss on the 
stone pier they said Cortés
built, stretching out into a 
tequila moon;  and where that
old lady sits, remembering or
forgetting:  a flight to
somewhere, one screen lit in
the dark, yours, watching the
same movie, three times.

He is my garden;  only I
have the key.  No sock-puppet
politician or fisting Missouri
FratBoy can trespass our
grass, mock our tree, pull
down those balloons.
He is my garden, eternally
lost except to me, safe like
drunk wine and watched movies,
invisible to those who don’t
speak love, far from parched 
howls and Christians,

close as breath.
*Dedicated to Josh Hawley,
who thought his own hand
was up in the air
as he declared war.

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