Sunday, March 8, 2015

See Arkansas First

“See Arkansas First” said the ghost of the bikini babe,
One hand in the air and one hand on the ski rope,
smiling through the rust and flaked paint of her sign. 
Out of place like a saguaro on the shoulder of Highway 61,
but the speedometer said sixty five 
and she was gone as I asked “Why?”
Arkansas is three hundred miles away.
Nothing between here and there but Louisiana. 
Another day, another flake loose in the wind.
Another week, another tank of gas
Another year, another life
and her constant invitation remained
as her smile disappeared under the rust,
neglected and abandoned,
still calling me to see Arkansas first.

Friday, December 19, 2014


It's September and like every September
decades running hand in hand, 
you come back on the breath 
of laundry soap and a song.
Why does the man remember what the boy can’t forget?
Rod Stewart sings, “It’s late September,”
and I am back in school,
a tiny bit of the man who will be
the boy who can’t forget.
You are the one who broke the seal and said,
“Begin your exam. You have the rest of your life.” 
No time to study and poorly prepared,
the test is the lesson,
a master piece submitted by the apprentice,
unfinished and unplanned, 
runs in the wet paint,
and graded by every woman who came after you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'll Make an Exception

It’s one thirty in the morning and I’m drinking alone
while two hundred people make noise
and smoke and drink and dance.
The band is good or loud, and wants to know
What did you think I would do at this moment?
There’s a blonde in a red dress sitting on the cigarette machine.
Not my type, I prefer quiet crazy,
the hidden neuroses that reveals itself over days or weeks
or maybe years, leaving me to wonder if I was the cause.
But, no.
I got here way too late and I don’t have that kind of contagious madness
or a treatment for it.
I’ll let this one pass by.
Every man needs a friend named Tex,
Tex, the guy who pulls the blonde through the crowd and says,
“I want you to meet this guy, he’s a great friend of mine.”
Tex solves seven problems, none of which I had two seconds ago.
I’m ready to make an exception for whatever crazy she brought.
It’s ten minutes til close, too late for another drink.
 I ask if she would like to get some breakfast.
Fifteen minutes later we’re in my car, but going nowhere.
Time to talk about kids and divorce and babysitters
without the music and smoke and a little cold air to clear the mind.  
She is in a car with a man she has known twenty minutes.
The slow hand of reality pulls the parking brake lever to vertical.
She just wants to go home.
I take her phone number and watch her walk to the red car that matches her dress.
A phone number is better than nothing, or maybe more than nothing.
I think of breakfast alone, but there’s no hunger,
just a drive home and an empty bed.  
The little red car turns ahead of me.
I sit at the light and watch her walk into the café.
The big windows and bright lights have no mercy
as everyone slides over to let her sit at the booth.

Couldn’t you have stayed crazy for just a little longer?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year's Resolution

I resolve to stop driving past your house,
knowing I won't knock on your door.
Not today, maybe not.
Maybe, if I see some sign of life.
A flower pot moved into the sun or an open curtain.
Anything to entice me to your door
and ask the question I don't want answered
and maybe ask forgiveness for buckling under the weight
of a burden no rational man would lift,
but a boy would raise high and carry,
and I did. 
I have to know if you know
what you cost and what you bought.
Maybe you know,
maybe you always knew,
maybe you never cared,
maybe you never thought of it,
maybe it never mattered at all.
I did not leave.
I did not run away.
I did not hide.
I just stepped outside for air,
a boxer's minute between rounds,
just to breathe deep and stand at the bell,
gloves at my chin, ready to swing and jab.
The ceiling caved in behind me 
and you were in the wreck,
buried under debris a boy could not lift. 

So I drive past your house, 
not so far out of my way,
not so much time out of my day,
and know one day you will be there.
I will stop and act as if it was just chance.
Act as if I recognize you through forty years
and wait for you to answer every unasked question.

Friday, February 15, 2013

La Vie en Rose

I awoke to la vie en rose

through an open door.
The pillow is damp with her perfumed sweat
and I hear le vie en rose and a splash
as she raises one foot above the water,
and French slips between the English
smoother than the cloth across her breasts.
Quand il me prend dans ses bras.
When he holds me in his arms? 
The faucet interrupts to refresh and reheat my songbird
and she sinks to her chin, 
careful not to dip the happy towel 
who holds her hair off her freckle peppered white shoulders.
Il me dit des mots d’amour.
Words of love?
My song drowns in another splash
as she stands and all the pink in her 
rushes to her skin,
my la vie en rose.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Funeral on Wednesday

Yeah, I look good in suit
and you don't own one.
What else does everybody know? 
It's early and I have too much to do
before I have to sit on the survivor's bench
and watch a parade of daughters,
still shocked and too young to know,
and nothing I can tell them, 
even though I know it all 
and know how long it will be 
before it is real again
and how real it will be. 

It's too many times
and every time is harder,
and holds less reason.
Is it anger or denial that comes first?
What's third and tomorrow is pitching today. 
It doesn't have to make sense
and I don't have to explain.
I don't have to do anything
but pay taxes and die
and I've seen how to die,
so get out of my way 
and let me get this done.
I've got some grief to process
and I don't need your fucking help.



On blueprints drafted before birth
you were planned and crafted
to be my compliment.
The silhouette of my profile,
the mend for my every flaw,
the finished form of this ragged prototype.

On blueprints drafted before birth,
you were created to complete me.
Carefully measured and laid on the cutting table,
every hair on your head
and thought in your mind..
Such perfection in execution
could never be left to fortune.