The coffee pot sticks a little
to the warming plate.
Sliding-glass door’s a bit rusty.
I love it cracked open,
lake-smell gets in,
grass and summer rain,
trees on the breeze —
maybe the morning doves
will come again.
It’s good to feel stiff old shag,
see stacks of books we’ve partly read,
stacks and stacks.
Your grandpa’s kitchen table,
Ruth’s worn chair,
dusty Mantovani on the player.
Paintings hang crooked,
curl on paneled walls,
fading in memory and slow-days,
that other house, the city one,
Of course we box our bodies,
bury them underground,
cold and silenced. Alone.
Or burn them gray,
all evidence scattered.
After a lifetime as ours,
why allow the thing we’ve
starved and carved
hated and baited —
used abused accused
assailed curtailed veiled failed
It might never get off the stand!
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“You know how you tell a native
from a tourist?” asked the damp guy
not-nursing his scotch.
Why do they always talk to me?
I shrug my shoulders.
I shrug again,
leave twenty on the bar,
check the phone —
finish the bourbon, find the keys,
slide the ball-cap on backwards,
position steel-rimmed sunglasses,
hit the mirror,
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All we’ve talked
silly me, impatient you —
until we ease into each other
to enthrall Dark.
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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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I tried to run just like them,
the gods of track whose ankles worked
as they shimmered before crowds,
High School Heroes of ambitious dimension.
I plodded desperate for legs,
then arms, then breath
up the curious street of my youth.
My feet slapped ridiculousness
as wild elbows jabbed wildly
at dreams I didn’t fit —
vapid sissy-fire before
an incredulous emptiness —
I bent without a friend,
alone on the side of the road,
“Speedos are way-sexier
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The desperate horde
hanged the mighty witch high —
as she watched from behind,
“If I’m as mighty as they say,
and so well-versed in
dangerously Dark Arts,
do they really think —
can they really believe —
this is over?”
And so the mighty witch
swayed in nature’s caress,
seeding her folk with everlasting
before moving to California.
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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,
Brother, you’re not for me.
When I’m empty, yet still scrape
this darkening shell for one more
when I pray dimmed sea-light and
dusky stars right my crooked face,
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;
if you ask for another, eyes
still on the page, and laugh a bit
at my dancing disbelief:
Brother, my answer is yes.
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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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Sylvia’s ceiling was glass.
She could see armed men
perched above with orders
to shoot anyone whose parts didn’t
But that’s not how she fell
into an oven.
That happened when she realized,
as all thinkers must,
that thought itself is their enemy —
not sex, not sin,
but a single word: