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Friday, September 15, 2017

Cherubs

We sleep together
face to face,
like the cherubs atop
the Ark of the Covenant.

However,
I lay my head
closer to
her breast,
eyes closed
my sleeping gaze
pointed up
to her placid face,

a telling distillation
of our relationship:

me,
ever worshipful,
her,
ever deserving.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hands Digging Into This Earth

Cool Saturday mornings
in spring
I weed the planter
in blissful silence.

It’s simple,
tactile.

I break the
cold hard ground
and sift the dirt
through my fingers
plucking the weeds
as though they were
errant gray hairs.

The same ground
worked and farmed by
my Mexican ancestors
and the Mestizos before them
and the Indios before them
and the Aztecs…

I am connected
to that eternal continuum
of hands digging
into this Earth.

It is almost
a mindless activity,
peaceful,
this private haven
that I own

and I smile
at my self-deception
and audacity:

to think
I own this land
that was here
long before
all my ancestors

and will outlast us all.

My name’s just
on the deed

for now.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Untethered

When you’re free,
you become
weightlessly untethered
from the ground.

Though I am
a willing slave
to gravity,
I remain
a wisp,
a scent,
a flavor on the breeze.

May you
catch me
in your hair
and hear
my whispering plea:

“Go,
be free!”

First Poem Published, Fullerton Daily Tribune, 1972

I was eight years old
and my local newspaper
solicited
a variety of
student submissions.

Here is what I sent in,
inspired by
an late night sermonette
on KTTV channel 11:

"God made
people to love
and things to use.

Some chefs
use people
and love
beef stews.

But God
made us to love,
with the love
from Above,

So, remember,
God made
people to love
and things to use."

Not bad
for a third-grader.

I forgot about it,
until it was found
in my Grandmother's purse
after she died in 1994.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Spark Joy

I bought her
the book
on tidying
your house,
your mind,
your life.

"Look at every
object
and determine

if it
doesn't
spark joy,

throw it out."

I'm trying
not to read
too much
into her decision
to sleep
downstairs
last night.


Monday, August 28, 2017

My Greatest Challenge (for Oliver)

I can’t
smell that
“New Baby”
smell,

but there is
overwhelming peace,
warm, breathing bliss
in holding him,
my grandson.

This is my greatest
challenge:

to be
completely present,
and enjoy him
now

instead of
dreaming of
all the times
we have
to come.

    Pop-o Moskowitz shares fine literature with Oliver.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It's Still Magic

I've studied
Burt Bacharach's
"Bond Street"
for 40 years -

the quirky, uptempo
funky saxntrumpet
Hammond B-3 riff
that strange Eastern
flavor and the
soaring orchestra
representing
aural transcendence
- even the Gypsy
tambourine

and it's only
two minutes long.

I've played it
a million times
since I first heard it
when I was 7
and it still makes me

stop everything
and surrender
to its mystery.

If you know how
a magician
does the trick,
does it make it
any less magical?

No,-
it's still magic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Night

Night used to be cells of
unsolicited solitude
but I put the time
to good use.

I read,
wrote songs
and practiced
all the clever things
I would say
extemporaneously,
if I were ever lucky enough
to get a date.

I stayed up
late into the night
beside a static-filled
AM radio
and I imagined
I was the only one
tuned into this
distant AM station
playing old country and western tunes.

Night always told me
"Someday.
Someday, man, it'll
all be different.

Better."

Now
at the end of the day
filled with
my family
who have no hesitation
in claiming
my every waking hour,

I revel in my solitude,
as I troubleshoot computers,
listen to old C&W songs over
the internet,
write the occasional poem,
and sink deeper
into some library book,

I look out
at the blue purple sky

and realize night
was right.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VHS Seventh Heaven

Some people went to
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
and memorized it.

I was always too timid
to venture out that late
among all the self-congratulatory
freaks.

But when VHS came about
I was in seventh heaven:

memorizing the rhythm
the cadence of
Groucho and Chico
bantering in “Duck Soup”

William Holden
leaving Faye Dunaway
with pithy eloquence in
“Network”

Dustin Hoffman’s
grand deception
unraveling with
masterful despair
in“Tootsie”

Richard Dreyfuss
and Marsha Mason sparring
and falling in “The Goodbye Girl”
set an ideal for dialogue
rarely encountered
in real-life,

almost every Woody Allen
film,
(pre-Soon-Yi)
schlmiel neurosis
giving a defiant voice
to this misfit teenager

Ray Liotta as
the amoral narrator
in “Goodfellas”

Bert Lahr in “The Wizard of Oz”

Zero in “The Producers”

Linus explaining
the true meaning
of Christmas

I’ve lived in
and through
these movies
more than five times
each

and now I want
to see them
all
again.

[Posted for http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-tuesday-platform_15.html .]

Monday, August 14, 2017

I'll Take Reality

I do not believe
in happy endings
or dreams coming true,
because nothing
ever really ends
and dreams
are not real.

However,
I believe in
spontaneous music,
idiomatic orgasms,
laughing pizza,
trusting puppies,
falling asleep
beside her,
her soft, sweet exhale:
these are real.

[Written for https://dversepoets.com/2017/08/14/quadrille-38/]

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sublime

Outside in the dark,
warm summer night breeze
streaming Don Rickles
on YouTube,

high as a kite
from year-old
bubbled
Lemon drop;

we're both laughing,
God
and me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Agency

A flurry of activity
will not make up
for a life unfulfilled.

This moment
came unbidden
and will leave
unnoticed,

unless you
decide

to matter,
to count,
to touch,
to hold,

to love. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hey, Pimp

"Hey, pimp,
I ain't fooled.

You ain't never
been cool
despite your
shiny, freezer burnt
ensemble
and the badass
persona
you wear like
a shitty prison
tattoo.

You're the
manifestation
of all the worst
impulses
of amoral capitalism
and atavistic masculinity.

You're nothing but
a goddamned slave owner,

and shame on
anyone attempting
to glorify that
wretched ugliness."

[For
http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2017/08/poets-united-midweek-motif-human.html]

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Two Promises (for Oliver)

I was gifted
with two grandfathers.

One I saw regularly
but never spoke with
because he spoke
only Spanish
and I didn't.

The other grandfather,
because he
divorced my grandmother,
I saw less than
10 times in my life
Including his funeral.

Oliver,
I promise these two things:

whatever language
you end up speaking,
I will learn it,

and,

I will never divorce
your grandma.

Welcome to the world, and
welcome to our familia, mijo.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Exotic Flowers and Ethereal Memories

I hail from
Boys Only
planet.

On the
televisual dataport,
I saw
girls,
women,
ladies,
from another galaxy
with curiosity,
open-mouthed wonder.

They smiled
and sang,
they reminded me
of exotic flowers
and ethereal melodies.

For the longest time
the only one of them
I knew
was our Queen Mother,
who was really just a man
with wide hips
and a bullet bra.

I snuck
off to the
launch pad,
years before
my scheduled
puberty flight,
and crash-landed
uninvited,
and tried to
infiltrate their
world.

I watched
from a distance,
amazed
but timid:

they were all
too smart,
too strong,
too capable and
too beautiful
for me.

All I wanted was
their approbation,
their approval,
their recognition,

all things
the Queen Mother

didn’t,
couldn’t
wouldn’t

provide.




Monday, July 24, 2017

Trust, Spittle, Dreams and Sweat

This unpredictable
and glorious collage
of blood-splattered memories,
semen-stained butcher paper,
tear-fueled promises,
depends so much
on spittle
and dreams,
and sweat.

When you finally
discover
the horrible truth
hiding behind this
smiling harlequin mask,
I hope I am long gone,

a memory
of ashes spread
unceremoniously
into the murky
blue-black sea,

too far gone
to retrieve.

May I be
past the point
of all redemption,

save for Jesus,
who I hope
keeps His promises

and saves me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Really High

If you hold
the vapor deep
in your lungs,

long enough
to quickly recite
"The Lord's Prayer"
in your head,

by the time
you get to
Amen,

you will get
really high,

and really high
just means
you're closer
to Heaven,

closer to God.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Vape Playlist - June 28, 2017

Note: These are the songs I listen to as I sit outside in the June night and vape into relaxation. 
Vape along, or have a nice glass of wine, smoke, or just enjoy!

Cash in Your Face - Stevie Wonder

Stand - Sly and the Family Stone

In The Stone - Earth, Wind and Fire

Hip Hug-Her - Booker T and the MGs

Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) - Al Green

Turn Off the Lights - Teddy Pendergrass

Creepin' - Luther Vandross



Mourning

It feels quicker than a blink
since I first saw you
and took you to raise up
as my very own.
Through laughter, patience
scrapes and tenderness,
I readied you for
a cold and undeserving world.

Through the seasons
you blossomed
and the world became
resplendent with possibility
when seen through your
naive and limitless vision.
I knew the world
would sing your song
once you taught them.

You asked if I was ready
and I snapped awake
from my reverie.
With a weak, sincere smile
and moist, quivering eyelids
I face my hardest challenge
as your stepfather:
to smile bravely
and not let you see my loss
as I walk you down the aisle
into your destiny.

[Posted for Dverse Open Link Night.]

Monday, June 26, 2017

What Would Atticus Do? (For Sarah)

We get in the car,
my 20 year old daughter
who suffers with depression
and I,
driving around
looking for normalcy.

Her moods,
dark and bleak
marinate in her room,
her hospice cell
she calls it.

So, everyday
I try to get her
out of the house
out of her own head
out of her sadness.

Some days,
we have errands
but some days
all we do is
aimlessly drive
the freeways
as she reads to me.

Right now,
we're in
the middle of
"To Kill a Mockingbird,"

and as we drive
her mood lightens
(being outside will do that)
we talk,
we share,
we get a soda.

I'd like to think
Atticus Finch
would do the same
if Scout had
treatment-resistant
suicidal depression.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

and Suddenly, it was Clear (for Anita)

A little before midnight
on my way back
to my bachelor apartment

her perfume still in my nose
her heat still on my skin

my mind replayed
the evening:
we sat with the kids
laughing at
“Spongebob Squarepants”

and after they fell asleep,
we did likewise
in each other’s embrace.

It felt like home,

but there I was
driving back to a place
I called home.

As I came up
to the intersection of
Alessandro and Moreno Beach

an idea I’d banished
long ago

floated in

like a leaf
through an open window

and suddenly,
it was clear,

and I said it aloud:

“I’m going to marry that girl.”

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When the Fruit is Ripe

You have to trust
that when it is
ready
to spring forth,
it will.

It does so
out of necessity,
because that
is what it was
made to do.

When the fruit is ripe
it will fall.

When the faun is ready
it will walk.

Don’t try
to predict when.

Just try
to be ready.

Life presents
all that
you need.

The trick is
to know when
to reach out
and grab it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Oliver's Inheritance (for Sarah)

It's not going
to be found
in a stack of books
you leave him,
no matter how carefully
you choose them.

No,
the real legacy,
his true inheritance
will come from
memories
you'll make,

the part of you
left behind

in the cluttered
emotional attic
of another.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Foggy Unknown

Just as we
cannot predict
which hue of blue
the sky will be today,

or how the really
best films
are going to end,

or how sweet
the red-black cherry is,

no one knows
exactly
how this will
turn out.

I couldn’t predict
my world changing
-thunder loud and
lightening fast-
with a phone call,
telling me Pop died
unexpectedly
two days after
his own mother died.

My world was
not just thrown,
but cosmically fucked
off its axis,
my compass pointed
in every direction

and each way ahead
was soft, foggy
and unknown.

Some paths were bright,
some dark gray,
a few even black,
but none of them
were clear.

I got lost trying to find
my way back
to my life before,
until eventually,
I gave up that
search,

realizing
his death
also erased
who I thought
I was.

Only when I accepted
I couldn’t go back,
then I started moving

forward.

Be not afraid
of what the world
and this life have
waiting for you.

Stay open to
the foggy unknown
for one day
it will be
your turn,

and then you’ll be
reunited,

and it’ll all
make sense.

Right now,
however,
it remains
a heartbreaking
mystery.

Written for D'Verse Poets's prompt: Poems To Save a Life

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Neither Condition nor Profession

"To be a poet
is a condition,
not a profession." -Robert Frost

To be a poet
is neither
condition nor profession.

It is
confession.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Stray Strands

Years after
she committed
suicide,

we keep finding
stray strands
of
her long, red hair
throughout the house, 
silent,
painful reminders.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Monster in the Mirror

"Yes, I know
why I'm here:

I'm scaring people again,
but listen:

I'm trying to save you
from a terrible monster,
an inescapable, ubiquitous threat!

They're all around,
everywhere!

You don't
even notice
them anymore!

Yes, I know
what it looks like, but
when I break
those mirrors,
I am not
just smashing
someone's private property,

I am slaying the monster!

Yeah,
I has hospitalized,
once in 2008
and again in 2011.

In every reflection
I see
a hateful monster,
a creature of ignominy,
simultaneously,
proof of
no God and
proof of
a God Who Exists But Does Shit Work.

Don't you see
a monster
when you look in
the mirror?

You don't?

You're lucky,

and I feel
a little sorry
for you."

[Inspired by "We all go a little mad sometimes.” - Psycho - for the with real toads' Monster writing challenge. ]

Fixing (for Sarah Lynn)

To fix something
outside

usually requires

un-fixing something
inside.

[Inspired by Poetic Asides prompt and dejackson.]

Monday, May 22, 2017

Better Than Music

Blood pumps
through
my veins,
loud and strong.

Breaths come
shallow, ravenous
in heady
anticipation.

The gentle
slurp and kiss
of tongue and lips
on the skin
of a lover.

This lubricated
piston,
finding home
repeatedly.

These are
the only sounds
better than music.

[Written for Dverse - Quadrilles with Sound]

The Perfect Idea

In the haze
of my
self-induced
twilight,

I had
The Perfect Idea.

I don't know
from where it
came,

but I was alone,

so,
I figured
I made it.

Thinking
"this thought is
so good,
I don't have to
write it down"
I luxuriated
in the in
thick warm glow
of satisfaction.

Then,
just as mysteriously
as it arrived,

it disappeared.

I despaired
until I realized
it came from
inside,
so the ingredients
are still there,

and then I remembered
the wisdom
of my teacher

"Don't Try."

I stopped frantically
trying to recover
this cloud-memory,

just accepting that
The Perfect Idea
will come around again,

and when it does,

I'll write it down.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Come Here for Hope

Laying on the floor
of my walk-in closet,
it is the darkest
quietest
place in my house.

Between boxes and
piles of dirty shoes,
I lay myself down
listen to myself breathe
and pretend
I am all alone.

I come here for hope.

I know there is a way
out of the present morass
but I can’t see it
in the light of day.

I need the comfort
of the dark
where any obstacles
are hidden.

Here,
I am limitless
and aware of my
connection to all
living things:

I don’t see
where
one thing ends
and the next thing

begins.

I open my eyes so wide
they hurt, but all I see
is the monolithic,
unanswering
black.

It reminds me that
there is no me
and there no you
and there is even
no us.

It’s all one infinite
interconnected
experience,
and since it cannot
turn back on itself,

there is only one way
it will all turn out
but I can’t see it
right now,

and I like it that way.

[Posted for Open Link Night at https://dversepoets.com/2017/05/18/openlinknight-196/]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tightrope

It’s a tightrope,

only it’s not tight
and it’s not a rope
and it’s more like
a straight line
on the floor

and I walk it,

It really isn’t
life or death
if I slip
but still I know
it’s under
my feet

and one end is tied
to my past
and the other is tied
to someplace
I can’t quite see yet

and veering to my right
may be too little
and tipping to my left
may be too much

and sometimes
when I follow the
beat of my heart
I look at my feet
caught like fugitives
in a searchlight
and I find
I’ve jumped the track.

So I resume the practice
of my loopy walking zazen
respectful of all
that hangs in the balance:
my sobriety
my self-respect
my soul,

but I still try to enjoy
the cool sweetness
of the morning dew
and a tune
is always on my lips
and the cotton clouds
delight and awaken
my heart.

It can’t only be about
self-denial .

I could be easily pulled
from my path
from the sensual
toward the ascetic

but every one of my
excesses
courts future regret

and I’ll do the walk

in my own time
in my own way.

Too slow for some,
too swift for others

because I know
this time
on my feet
is so brief
and lightening fast
and to walk it
solemnly and prophylactically
seems hardly worth it,

a death sentence.

So I smile
and I continue
on this line
of mine
at my own
jagged, jaunty pace.