Two and a half weeks into this quarantine
Rainy days and
No words forthcoming
I decide that perhaps
if I just put one
In front of another
And keep on for a time
Words upon words
something will come?
At 8:30 every morning
A man passes
walking a Pomeranian mix
A joyful little dog
(I’d steal him in a heartbeat)
He twirling the leash round and round
The dog leaping higher and higher still.
They dance together eyes meeting
and smile as I know a dog can
and I remember
how I would dance with my last greyhound.
We would tango and box-step.
I always led.
These days the little
Pomeranian can’t get his attention
The leash doesn’t twirl above its head
He’s pulled along impatiently
There are no more smiles
Their eyes won’t meet
He’s slow to realize that he’s become a drudgery
I want to yell out the window
I see you
EVERY MORNING AROUND 8:30!
Where’s your joy gone buddy?
Don’t you know that’s all you’ve got?
You’re bumming me out for real
and your dog loves you!
Wake up! You fool wake up!
I think that now I’ll walk to Ralph’s
I have various thoughts while doing so
Children race their bikes passed me
as if they’re in an entirely other reality
maybe they are.
The wind blows through their hair
As if it couldn’t mine.
Front lawns offer up fields of dandelions
as if their orbs the most prized bounty
Freshly mown grass smells new and clean instead of putrid, rotting in the sunshine
The fulsome wafts of springtime’s
jasmine and osmanthus heaving with citrus and pepper evade me as I pass their blossoms
Yet on the rare occasion a fragrant rose pierces through the weft and hits a nostril
but I can’t tell which bloom.
The smooth talking
has finally covered up that
diabetic open sore on her left ankle
the size of a flattened crimson football
which is something,
although I can see that
she’s being told to move along as
she just can’t sit anywhere she pleases.
I’m counting every time I see the word “dead” along my way.
In the store the ladies that buy
their bottles of white wine in the afternoon
are starting earlier now
with supplies and deliveries
It’s one thirty and I see
Two bottles of Clos du Bois
And four Domaine St. Michelles
in the cart to my right
and nothing else
as they do.
I’m not going to ask her
about her dinner party.
While I stare at packages of coffee
A man pulls off his mask to sneeze into the air before him
And I say to the older man approaching
I don’t think that you’ll be going any farther
in that direction.
It was under my breath.
He didn’t hear me.
I have a mask on.
He turned his cart around and walked back
the way he came.
I have this urge to talk to everyone.
I have this relentless desire for ice cream.
I miss everything.
will satisfy anything
to do with me.
Can one survive a global catastrophe
with candy and magical thinking?
And by that
I mean really old people
Eye me suspiciously
As if I myself alone
the menacing contagion
and I guess I could.
Perhaps I do.
It’s hard to read emotions with these masks
But their eyes seem terribly unkind and
One stares at me hard
with beady anger and a ready insult
another will jump me in the checkout line
and with great solicitude
unwrap her money from
the white notebook paper
pulled from the manila envelope
Now re-folded with
rubber bands and string
And placed back
into her chest
She is so sweet to the cashier
with her black acrylic wig askew
that he seems quite shocked to hear
she cut in front of
without so much as a word.
Who cares really?
My first mask made me sneeze for four hours straight and made my nose burn like a hit of **** *******.
I’ve been handed a free mask by
from my local assemblyman
made of a softer material
I find that
it won’t stay up and fogs the base of my glasses.
I don’t think it’s working.
We’re All In This Together.
I still can’t breathe.
The doomed asthmatic
selling his single ciggies on the sidewalk
dies on Staten Island
from a policeman’s chokehold.
In those desperate last moments
despite his pleas and confusion
surely there before him appeared
although not quite the end that he’d envisioned or feared
what with steroid inhalers from the pharmacy
a crystalline moment
when he knew without a doubt that
he’d never take another gasp of air
like a bloated goldfish on its side
expressionless and saucer eyed
outside its bowl
What happened to his mind then?
What will happen to mine?
It has been said that
certain tribal kings
have brought before them
their most worthy enemy
in the process of imminent death
while they sit in numinous splendor
and wait for that perfect moment
to lean in close to the mouth
and inspire greedily
expiration of their life force,
now a pristine delicacy of the infinite,
for themselves alone.
Schoolhouse Rap: Boyfriend Killaz Edition
Let’s not forget
what you’ve done to us
When you find the ****
That is the most to ya
Don’t try to play
It’s just today for ya
Cuz she may have
in store for ya
whether she comes through
the front door
Or that doggie’s little door for ya
You’re gonna have to make some
extra room for Ma
Said she’s not your shorty no more
No more P.
said our Miss Jody
You ****** the wrong chick.
Her love life was so precarious
Her lover so nefarious
Treating her like a *****
little piece of ***
The result of which was not so hilarious
Who’s to say?
Said she’s not your shorty no more
No more, T.
said our Miss Jody
You ****** the wrong chick.
He thought he’d get his perfect first wife
And start that brand new life.
Can you hear me?
my dear dear Travis
They did try to ******’ warn your ***
Her hands more nimble than Thelonious
Your end more wretched than felonious
Looks like she took your picture laying near the glass
Said she’s not your shorty no more
No more P.
said our Miss Jody
YOU ****** THE WRONG CHICK
One day I saw Liza Minnelli
on the television
And she said, pointing down at a
Young women's feet
"I know precisely the day when you will no
longer be able to wear those heels!"
**** you Liza Minnelli!
Shut your mouth!
That is truly unspeakable
And it does not concern me.
In less time than I would have liked
Coal black brushed sued
Miu Miu Booties
with a golden zip up the back
And the most fantastic heel
Hurt me beyond
anything I knew
a shoe could do to a person
I started taking ibuprofen
before I slid them on
But I knew
Liza is right.
It came for me young like menopause.
Women a decade older
are running all over the place
in their stilettos.
Their four inches.
It's more than I can bear
to look at the images anymore.
Because shoe envy is real.
And so is the grief.
Shoes I have known....
I still think with a heavy heart about those
gorgeous Cesare Paciotti t-straps
Some of my last
I didn't know that at the time
It's better not to think
But the memories return
These had an amazing heel as well.
Chunky Italian rather than a delicious subtle
I seek solace in wedges and kitten heels.
O Liza Minnelli!
That evil forewarning.
have a witch that does this sort of thing
because they should.
The craggy finger extends from the cloak
and points down at
the innocent girl's
encased in an excruciating
yet stunning pair.
"When the Sun has returned 57? No.
39 times around the Earth, no beautiful shoe
with a perfect heel and toe-box
will you ever wear again.
The pain will be so great that you will beg to take
them off if you are fool enough to put them on."
That's a strange curse my friend.
What kind of unfulfilled bargain prompted that?
I'm sure that they've seen this
a million times.
At Saks, Neiman's or Bergdorf's
It's probably boring.
"Oh that again."
The shoe goes back into its box.
No point in bringing out the other.
I'm so very sorry madame
There isn't another size
Have you considered a slipper?
I, myself have considered a fete
where all my old broads
get those heels on
regardless of the ability to walk
Bring the crutches
Or the wheelchair
And pose to the gods
There would be serious pain,
But I'm fine with ******.
Instagram parties documenting the old hens
or knocked out for the photo session
with those insane heels on.
It could happen.
May have already.
Did those red sequins
on your mother's feet
bring into being something not human?
All I know is that it's over for me
and I'm largely innocent.
I will admit to
Jealousy and Envy
but I am not at all bitter
and this does possess cinematic potential
(Grand Guignol used to be
so popular so throw that in)
A Perverse Maytagged Cinderella minus a Prince
It's everything showbiz.
It's entirely fitting.
I wonder if there is any consolation
in having an afterlife of any sort.
Will I wind up waiting for my enter lifetime
Just to get there
Looking for a spray or a flash
A carbonic tip of your hat
That Redsox baseball cap
or the newsboy
Will I sense a vibrational intonation
that could pass for a wry yet incomprehensible
See Ya Li'l Bit!
Just to watch you fly away from me
with all the words still in my mouth?
Will I stand there or vibrate in wave patterns
as I don't know what one does,
having waited so long
having been so patient
that that distinctively
You're On Your Own moment
would feel sadly familiar
You a Depression era baby
and I am not
Will I watch you explode into nothingness and
know that mother isn't even with you?
I don't think that I understand the ways
I revisit that night and
I don't know why
I don't know why it took so long for you
to get there for one thing
Which took some time
But I found a spot
I won't be towed
And I walked to the hotel entrance
far too long
I took out a cigarette
And I bet I smoked the whole thing.
You never showed up which was strange.
Did I start to smoke another?
I thought that I was being polite
waiting on the curbside
Eventually R. and his girlfriend showed up
But polite which was no longer something to
expect from anyone anymore I found
They collected me and we went up to the
And there you were
Did you race like a daemon
breaking those presumptuous,
Laws pertaining to Physics
just to get up Fairfax Avenue?
You ran to get to a party
that you were only invited to
because of me?
This is not normal is it?
Your excuse upon my arrival was ******.
I walked away.
On the balcony
I stood with you and R. again
We had avoided one another
throughout the night
yet always collided back
like opposing atoms.
Was that my doing?
I really think that that one was
One of you had a joint
And I thought to myself
It went around once
And then became a two-step
Back and forth between you two.
standing there quietly waiting
like it was a game of jump rope
Watching for the moment
when the rope would let me in
My turn would come up eventually cuz
I'm standing right here.
I think one of you
Handed me the joint
A stiff speck of rolling paper stuck between
And the two of you
turned and walked away from me
Without a care
Well this isn't that sort of party.
Boots on the ground.
Blood in the sand.
Pack on your back.
The stench of iron and salty offal.
Heroes in The Battle of Normandy.
I am not an Axis soldier and i know that you are not Allies
This Chateau is modeled after one
in the Loire
so the legend has it.
And this is a totally different thing altogether.
Wasn't your father, a fireman and you, his firestarter?
Didn't you watch him
put out your flames on the local tv news
while you lay on the carpet chin in hands, full color?
Did I follow you both back inside?
I think that I didn't
I hope that I didn't
How do you follow that?
I know that I walked to the balcony's edge
And settled into watching the rings to my right
The smoke rings from the cigarette
of the Marlboro Man
perching above Sunset Blvd.
what have I done?
how has it come to this so fast?
I may have joined in
Blowing rings from up above
I made O's very well in those days
One after another
One inside another
The billboard too
We're strange amigos we
Our rings float away unfurling
into thinner mists
While the white and red lights of cars
down below us
Rush into the sparkling night air
Somewhere other than here
My circles disappear above my head
His circles too.
Did he seem to you like a happy cowboy?
Rugged and determined
Those unsentimental eyes
Narrowing fearlessly at a blank manifest destiny
It's endless but I can keep up.
Looking at him from were I stand
I know that I will need
some of what he's got
to get through this
I thought that I had it on me.
I thought that I had packed it.
But somehow it's taken its leave or
He's not even real
This eminence to my right
Just wood and paper and
a mechanism making steam look like a plume of carcinogens
Yet I look at him a bit jealously regardless
Funny to feel that way about a billboard
Maybe cuz he's kind of a man
Maybe it's his hat
But it's true nevertheless
His rough hew cardboard evokes
the self determination at all costs
here above Sunset.
I will leave this penthouse
with its sick yellowy light
Dash into the elevator again
Make my escape
Light another and
Blow those rings.
Signaling my location
Above ground Terra Firma
Not underwater in depths that
cannot support life
R.'s been dead now almost twenty years
By his own hand.
Tomorrow I will try again
I hinted to myself
I still have my lighter and what cigarettes are left in the pack.
i'm reporting to you here
From the women's bathroom stall at
(nam withheld) solo show
At the (name withheld) Gallery
Located on (name withheld) Blvd.
I have to say
that it comes as some relief to be sitting here
with my little plastic cup of sour wine
on the cold tiled floor
I sit upon the plastic, seat cover down
the door closed and latched shut
What with my notes and my phone
and my purse over-full
Everything in here is the color of a rotting
peach, hard stone exposed
And I wonder what the color is
in the men's bathroom?
A bruised purplish tomato?
A dull pinky brownish mayonnaise?
It is very crowded out there
Way too many people
I came to see paintings painlessly
and I can't see a thing
but I can jostle with the best
except that I'm completely exhausted.
I know it sounds naive, sure
that I don't mind saying "Hi!" and
without the whitest of smiles
But then what do you say after?
I am charming.
I will do
all the work
I will make you laugh
Tantalize you with my wit
My Enthusiasm or Disdain.
I'll try to come back again
when this space is empty
perhaps commiserate leaning in at the counter
If I feel so inclined
Gage my conspiratorial tones
by the eyes that face me
it may in fact be quite lovely then
Now airy, the galleries.
Or it ill be a quick and disappointing
walkabout and out
I may not even need to say "Thank You."
because no one cares.
For now I will practice my breathing
And think about dead third generation
Abstract Expressionists like
or Joan, my one true love
I'm pretty sure that on the floors out there
I've splashed my wine about
which will prove to be rather
who skids in kitten heeels.
Did I mention that Blankety Blank came with
yet another brand new spouse?
Bold as day.
She seems like all the others very nice
A mid-tone wheat-y blonde
So far her ready smile is a solid
and her interested gaze noteworthy
Too shy to wear the engrossed face
Her mouth is primly closed.
She seems polished and stands rather well
despite no one talking to her
after the Introductory Handshake
Her power may grow with time
what with that ring on her left finger.
I thought that the husband was still in jail
to be honest
or had fled to Barbados
to sell the same rolled oil on canvas
over and over
to different buyers and still keep the scratch
And the canvas
rolled, wrapped, and neatly stored
The artist seems to be fine with it
although she will never be paid.
Out there beyond this door
I can't get a proper count
because it's five people deep
and their backs are to the walls
I watched someone walk passed
something rather beautiful
although they didn't notice.
I for one nearly had my right eye
knocked out by a shock of
that was totally
It's on the eastern wall and a
scene stealer no doubt
Probably already sold
Probably hung already sold
and it's gonna make the cover of
Personally I'd like to take a knife
and slice it full across
remove the white offense
leaving it crumbled in a mass on the floor
Now a loser's cape bright enough to be seen
in darkness and stepped over lightly
like so many others.
When I leave this stall
I'm gonna toss this cup and
I'm gonna run
and in so doing
quickly side step
another tangled bundle
I will look intensely to find the hero
instead, confronting as one does
dark filthy textiles
and thread counts
and only in the passing
In my beautiful raiment
A vision I am sure
will my eyes reveal
that the over familiar tangled bundle
the blanket is
no one's cape
but some exoskeletal remains left behind
and its creature, gone.
No ragged head.
No ***** feet.
No professional smile.
I watch you **** on long, gnarled fingers
With short, clipped nails
You pull them out of your mouth
One at a time
with a subtle but emphatic pop
'Round and 'round
Thumbs perhaps, but pinkies never
Other times you juice
the corner or a small white washcloth
with your saliva
I watch you look at the window
Unwavering in your attention
Focused straight ahead,
Your chair is turned
so that e can all sit together
In the common room.
Dad wants to leave
As soon as we've arrived
He'd say something wildly odd
his wife of fifty years, like
Something impossibly dumb
As if he would've
ever said such a thing
In Real Life.
Now pandering for some predestined response
Or a cozy yet bewildered
glance of surprise
or perhaps a
The one you wore when he first met you.
But we both know that those days are
I watch you as you face
The bright Valley sunshine
The yellowing grass
The trimmed hedges
The cement blocks that maintain
But what do you see?
Were there any little birds,
As I no longer can remember?
Do the multitudes
that comprise a random cosmos
approximated by optimistic formulae
Although imperceptible to Dad and I,
Dance just for you?
Does it share with you
sweet confidences and miracles?
Promises and Reassurances!
I'd like to think that,
but I have my doubts
Show no such delight.
There as a time when you were always
And too, there was a time when you wanted
with a sly
"So where are we all going next?"
Dad grows more uncomfortable
But its alright
I can sit here by your side
I tell him
45 more minutes
I wear a watch
for just this sort of thing
although he's ready to bolt
A Mystery before him
Despite his Science,
For I have lost nothing.
I look around the common room
The patients are set up
Round like a clock.
At 11pm lay the catatonic
to the ceiling
In recliners. Peaceful.
At 1pm are those who can still sit at a table
with minimal supervision and eat
or read a four color full bleed spread in
a fashion magazine upside down
Just like in the old days.
At 4pm sit the difficult, flighty ones
with aides to feed and wipe their faces
of soggy gruel and fruit pulp
And prone to choking.
At 6:30 the piano sits alone against a far wall
Abandoned yet prepared
Not slighted in the least.
Do you believe that angels can swarm?
We three sit together at the 9pm table
your other companions silent
Not playing cards or Sudoku
Nor reminiscing about a forgotten past
By way of some forgotten language
Inevitably, they will disappear
with no explanation
And the new ones will take their places
In our little
The clock, it moves like fateful musical chairs.
It has an intelligence
It is a system of management.
The designations, a terrible prognosis
encircling like a snake
towards your final hour
Which may be after 4 or perhaps 11?
This is a Map of Demise.
What turned you into a 9pm
because your weren't always?
We arrived at this table from some place else
Although from where I'm not at all sure anymore
It seems they moved you around a lot
And I have been watching you closely.
I fear that the hour hand
is not your ally.
The minutes hand, neither.
I look out the window with you.
And I wonder when the time will come
For you to rest in the white naugahyde recliners
But I do not expect you
to make it past
Would someone tell me please
what does it really mean to be
a 9pm on this clock?