Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Try

They keep trying,
one after another,
lining up like some lottery
to hand out bad news,
like a diagnosis of rotten blood
they want me to know they don’t care
about what I care about.
They don’t consider it.
The rest of the world,
they tell me,
doesn’t care either.
There’s no point in waiting,
they tell me, nothing is going to change

And that’s fine,

cause I’ve got a pocketful of rejections here
and a whole lot of time.
I’ve got some classical music on the radio
I’ve got a stack of library books,
paper and pens
a window to the past when the line
was easier to follow.
I’ve got stretched canvas and a scissor
to cut open eleven year old paints.
And that has always been all I have ever needed.
And sometimes not even that, sometimes I need less
sometimes just sleep
your arm around me
and sometimes,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Big Bad Wolf

We can hear the wind howling up the street
rattling our windows and doors
like the Big Bad Wolf come to life.

There are things we should do,
I know that. Things that need to be bought,
food, for one,
to fill the cabinets,
sick cats to care for.

There are great books to read,
writing to get done,
novels to finish or un-finish,
newspapers to read and discuss
journals to catch up on.

The wind is howling down our street,
rattling our windows and doors
like the Big Bad Wolf come to life.

But I’ve got a stack of movies,
Woody Allen mostly,
sitting here.
I’ve got a bottle of wine on the counter,
and another unopened.
I’ve got the classical station sailing out of the radio,
a nice number, Sibelius, I think.

The wind is howling down our street,
rattling our windows and doors
like the Big Bad Wolf come to life.

And I need new shoes,
boots that don’t leak in the snow that will come.
Presents for people,
bills to be written out and mailed
poems to be written down and lost,
wine to be had.
Books to be read, dog-eared, underlined,
quotes to be copies into journals,
genius to be found between the couch cushions.

The wind is howling down our street
rattling our windows and doors
like the Big Bad Wolf come to life,

and I hear you in the kitchen,
the drawer sliding open
the sound of the opener,
the pop of the synthetic cork.

You come back in with glasses in one hand
the bottle in another.
“Let it go, baby,” you say.
“We’ve got three days off.”

I think you are right.
So Sibelius and poetry and Woody Allen
and shopping and food, new boots
all of it will have to wait,
as we sit
my hand resting on your thigh
and listen
to the Big Bad Wolf blow
and blow
and blow.

Monday, February 21, 2011


What age is it,
I ask him sitting at the bar,
my fingers ripping the paper open
and pulling out the bandaid,
sucking the blood off my finger,

What age is it, that you finally become
the kind of person who has bandaids there
and ready just in case you cut yourself?

Who are those people
and how do they pull it off?
I ask wrapping it around my bloody fingertip
and throwing the wrapper back in the shopping bag.

Who are these people? How do they manage?

People with kids, he offers.
And maybe that is true. Maybe once you have a child
you live in a space where anticipation is air and necessary.
You have to be ready for any little thing.

I have no bandaids at home.
When I slice my finger on your razor, I have no bandaids.
No Maalox on the shelf for stomach ache.
We must put on hats and coats and trudge out into the world
hot churning stomach and all.
No extra package of tin foil
when the current one runs out
but not completely covering the leftover pizza.

My life is fits and starts,
epileptic and sleepless, wrapped tight in the sheets.
I do not have any bandaids,
or an extra jar of sauce if we want to change up dinner.
I do not have napkin rings,
fresh arugula,
or extra pillows.
I do not have a spare bedroom,
or a variety of coffee,
candy or tea.
I do not have enough tissues.

But I do have all of Beethoven’s symphonies
as well as Dvorak’s. I have a new set of Proust,
and stacks of books on the floor
(because I do not have enough shelf space)
I have a box of oil paints,
3 beers in the fridge
a bottle of cheap scotch
and some empty canvases
which also,
catch blood, quite well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


If you ever ask me about your mother
I’m not really sure what I can tell you.

Maybe the sound of her voice.
Or the way she tilted her head when she smiled.

I have some letters to show you.

That might be it.
Also you look just like her.

Your father can tell you about the pain.
About it coming in waves and her
bobbing on the surface, rising and falling
and still rising again. A thing adrift on an endless sea.

He can tell you about the late nights
and the pills lined up like soldiers,
and about how in the end,
he just wanted it to be over
even if over was death

and then it was,
and he went home
and you were only two
on the floor, wide eyed
already downy haired and motherless.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Because This Country Isn't Getting Better

I want to move to Manhattan,
to a big wide loft,
with a freight elevator.

and hear my steps echo over the floor
count them and it will take more than five
to cross the room.

I want to move to Manhattan
and care for the sick and the lame,
bring them armfuls of white and pink flowers

and clean up after them. Tell them, what
a nice day it is outside
and open windows.

I want to move to Manhattan,
and have a car so that I can
drive all the way up Riverside Drive
without hitting a single light.

I want to move to Manhattan
and meet friends in Central Park.
Or sit on the bench, alone, but happy.
I want my parents to come down and stay in the spare bedroom.

In the morning we could get coffee and bagels
at the shop on the corner and there will always be empty seats.

I want to move to Manhattan
so that when you are sitting with me
on the couch in Brooklyn

and you say, we should move to Manhattan,
it will already be done.
Then the loss will be over, the hard part,
we would have pulled it off, somehow, just keeping
our heads above water in this winter.
Really I just want to know how it ends.

I want to move to Manhattan. Or, even, Paris.
Yes Paris. That would work too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday Morning

Tangled sheets,
which seem to take forever to get unwrapped,
and I feel you pull me,
like a toy,
like a young, light thing,
towards you
and I’m surprised we have slept so long
so late
in this bed,
that we have had now for years,
the way we have had each other for years,
and for so long and so late
and I never ever get tired
of finding your mouth
and how each kiss feels
so very much like the first,
all dizzy and lightheaded
my hair covering your face,
and love,
I never knew.
I wanted it to be true,
the things they say about what love could be like,
and it’s true,
oh it’s so true.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Girls

We spent so much time in that basement,
sitting in those bar stools,
playing grown up.

So much time, watching television,
sleeping over, kissing goodnight
she would slip closer to me, her arm draped down my leg
and we would lay like that all night
and never speak of it in the morning,

because in the morning we would talk about
the boys we loved who loved us back
with abandon. We called them and they came over,
all hot confidence and wet teeth.

Her parents were never home,
so we had all we needed,
cheese sandwiches from the fridge,
vodka boosted from behind the bar.

We can live like this, I thought,
and nothing will ever change.
I will keep my little red car parked in front of this house.
I will never go away to college
and leave you, I nearly whispered into her hair one night.
And your sister will never die and shatter your family
and shatter what was left of us.
We can stay like this, right now.
The way we are when we are young,
still growing together and apart,
the days stretching straight into the sun
with no end or sadness in sight.
I promise.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Spaces for Silence

It was as if we stumbled
back through a doorway into the past,
the wine bottle next to the bed,
our feet

and hands and head resting, finally.
The music playing next to us,
and you said,

We’ve been listening to this woman sing
for 13 years.
and I said, Yes. What a good small thing
I thought, to lie here, still, after all those years,

our heads against our pillows,
our elbows just occasionally touching,
as if to keep us tethered to the this moment in time
to each other.

Outside the snow might have fallen
or it might have not. We were incapable of leaving this
bed, our raft, our little pink heart, floating out to sea.

“Don said everything changes. He said it was the one thing you always knew,” you said.
You are remembering something that hasn’t happened yet,
replaying it in your mind.
In that second you can feel yourself changing, your bones chipping, your hair lengthening.

“Don’s right,” I said.
And then we don’t speak, the woman still sings
and we still believe in the integrity of words spoken but also
the spaces for silence.