Tuesday, March 1, 2022





Time For You To Wake


I am the alarm in the morning,

set by you twenty years ago,

a soft ring, a little percussion,

time to get up,

gently, ever gently.


Morning dabs lightly on the window,

air vibrates with warm, with light,

the signs are everywhere,

but signs don’t shrug people out of dreams –

that’s the job of my breath.


Eyes open,

tiny blazes in a green matrix,

mouth stretches slightly,

a grateful, modest yawn.


I am the alarm

that is not alarming,

a sound of love that,

any softer,

and you would just sleep on.



The Ones Who’ve Kept Me Alive


When I first saw this doctor,

the diploma on the wall

was barely out of diapers.

We’re the same age.

His stethoscope once pressed

against my youthful chest

as it now does my middle-aged one.

I’ve said “aargh” to him

more than to any other.


We live our separate lives

of course,

he on the east side,

me on the north,

he with his friends,

I with mine.


But, once a year at least,

we come together.

My annual physical

is an exam for both of us.

I’m tested on

what my blood work reveals.

I grade him

on whether or not

what he’s been giving me

is working.


His air is gray now.

My brown locks

can’t keep out

those similar-hued intruders.

And he says I’m in good shape

for my age.

Of course, so are his treatments.


I don’t know why I call him doctor

and not Jim.

I don’t call my wife, wife.

Or the plumber, plumber.

But I did always call my mother, mother.

And he’s the one

who’s carried on what she’s started.



Breakdown On A Desert Road


The landscape

comes down

to the very edge

of the road

to get a good look

at me and my car.


It is flat

and dusty and dry

while I’ve read

most of Tolstoy

and can hum a movement

from every one

of Beethoven’s nine sympathies.


But the landscape’s

merely broken down in spirit.

I’m broken down in fact.


A lizard stops short

of the asphalt,

lifts its head,

sums up my hapless situation,

then turns on its tiny legs

scurries back into

the dry open spaces.


To the cold-blooded,

my plight

can only be reacted to,

not explained.



Aunt Sheila In Tokyo


Most unladylike,

she sits on the floor.

legs crossed,

nibbles on noodles

and what she later discovers

is seaweed.


Funny how it doesn't seem to matter

that she eats the inedible

and it tastes fine.

What a country:

the colored lanterns and the rice fields,

geisha houses, kimonos,

communal baths and speeding trains,

and even the occasional plaque

remembering Hiroshima.

solemn but not angry.


And she likes to think

that if they ever dropped the bomb on her

she'd remember in a healing way.

with an illustration, with a poem,

brought to life

in a Japanese restaurant,

sitting on the floor,

more ladylike as hours wear on.

She respects a people

who can eat seaweed

and like it.



Not A Home


Kitchen's empty

despite the stocked refrigerator.


Bed's made,

pillows are puffed,

but unoccupied.


Down in the basement:

the washing machine,

the basket of dirty clothes,

and no one to bring them together.


The bathroom's available

for washing away dirt,

patching wounds,

cleaning teeth.

No takers.


Photographs don't even come close

to being people.

Clocks tick

like that tree falling in the forest.


Someone's at work unsuspecting.

Another's on the road

and not looking back.


The house looks lived in

though the home is bare.




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