"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Your Burden Ain't Light

Ahhh. Broken Wing. Here we are again...

Every time I see you I say, "How ya doin?" You say "fine". Today I press, ask after Kevin. "He's a great kid...." you say. "I really like him", and I wonder at the term 'like', though I myself have used it of my own, as more than love. Love for your child is born. Like is a choice.

I ask you, of his diagnosis...have never really ventured there...the land of terminology. And you start from birth, the weak trachea, reversed heart valve, the colostomy bag since. "You see him naked, and his chest is like a road map!" you say. First twelve months on a ventilator, celebrating baby's first birthday with open heart surgery. You make me feel real petty in my complaints...and rightfully so. I watch you rub your truncated arm across a brow that has lost definition. This is the brow you wear....down...while the other shows your tenacity.

"So there isn't really a term for it then?" I ask. He shakes his head. "The ultimately unique Kevin Syndrome!" I say. He smiles. "Yeah", but his broken wing rubs the one that is right, and I consider that he thinks the whole thing his doing...that one misaligned chromosome might equate to "Kevin Syndrome".

He talks about how his son is the "million dollar kid." $900 in meds alone....every month. I look at the scars on his own hand, where the table saw got the better of him last year. Rallied he did. Surgery. Rehabilitation. ($900 a month, and my wife don't work.) Such pressure.

"He's 17, with the mind of a ten year old. He doesn't understand the way hormones are changing him. No one knows what it's like when he flips out." I want to understand, and wish I did know...how bad it gets at home.

"He punishes himself you know...in these fits. He will self exile to his room, until he can't stand it anymore. And I say, Kevin...you need to apologize for your words, actions....but it's like pulling teeth."

We talk about how powerful those words are, especially in a relationship: forgive me...I'm sorry... You look discomfited, say "I don't know if that will ever be a reality for him. A relationship. I pray for the day someone says, "Don't worry. I've got him".

Damn. I think my life is hard? At seventeen, his father doesn't think he will ever be able to live on his own 'cuz a ten spot is STILL worth WAY more than ten one dollar bills, no matter how many times they count it out together.

Every time I see you, I say "How ya doin?"

You say "fine".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Going Down

There’s a level that you reach, erroneously think
it’s a basement.
dusty and moldy, which you wouldn’t mind,
but for the underlying stench of something less than alive
more than dead

Your hand trembles along the fashioned wood, worn smooth
from endless digging in calloused amounts
required service, by a preternatural power
shoulder to it

but the labor
only dulls the blade

(Born of Justin Nozuka and not much else.)

Friday, February 18, 2011


I was reading a book of poetry...lovers were dying. She rode by, looking like a young lady from Mayberry R.F.D., long wavy brown hair tied neat with a blood red bow. Beach cruiser bike, not the usual pimped out affair of my urban stretch. As she passed, I saw her tattoo...similar to the one above but the beak facing left, beginning at the corner of her left eye and fanning out across her cheek and down to the jawline. WHY? I've got nothing against tatts, but fiercely dislike facial tattoos or piercings. I'm too old I guess. No! It's more than that. All that is denatured makes me value what is not. A friend of mine just texted me to say she got three new piercings: nose, lip, and tongue. I want to rip them out.

I sat in the cafe,
book open to the page my lover and I died on
word by word, as cinder we lit there
burning our final holes 

My arms worked the surface of my soup
legs scissor spread and snapped
treading water posthumously as she passed...
the two wheels of her
ambling in parade.

Her left eye cried full peacock 
feathered tips brushing her chin,
blue-green plumage of courtship
in the un-posturing position of peafowl blush

Saddened by the ruse upon her cheek,
I mourned her skin
fanning embers with fleshy molt
and pressed her artifice
into the fire.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Annie's Chair

It did something so warm and fuzzy
like the melting of Mr. Winter
and the Grinch...when his heart did GROW
or when Mrs. Rust said
"your mug is green" as if I should have a mug
much less a color
in a kitchen not my own...
how I'd say "may I please have a drink"
just to see her reach into the cupboard
and pull green from the heart of it.

It wasn't just the appropriation
ooohhh nooooo
but that you pulled it from thin air
a weighty consideration...just
a thought of me, a concern from no-damn-where
and scratched your head with it!

I'm gonna have to hug you
although you might not be the hugging type
you might stand stiff and resolute next to your La-Z-Boy
while I hang from your neck
and drop ceremoniously
VERY ceremoniously
into the chair you gave me
thinking how nice it is
to meet you

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lie Like Yesterday

"I don't trust you!"

Yesterday I blurt it out like an untimely belch, though reeking well deserved on the finish. I haven't, and still don't. Gawd, it hurts my heart to say it, but I've held in so much that there is just no more room in storage. I don't want to look at your eyes, unsure if I want my suspicions confirmed and less sure to see your injury... for right, or wrong, there will be that.  So I stare at the logo on your shirt, wonder when the crease in the screen print will become a peel that falls off somewhere between first and second period...lie there unheeded until some ground watching idiot like myself notices it and decides to write a poem as if it mattered.

You tell me there was no lie...are no lies, but I've learned to trust myself, just a little...a grains worth, but still growing. I have no proof today, though previous convictions adhere to your shoes like gum. I know nothing with certainty but the four words I speak.

"I love you anyway."

You nod...say, "I'm glad you told me" and now I truly have no grain, no molecule.

Today a text. You ask if you can meet me for lunch. It's the first time....EVER.  I am so afraid. There are not words.

The week has been heavy and I am compressed, my arms too short to protect myself. And though I want to beg..."please son, don't crush me today"...now is not the time for that. It is time to lay as yesterday's dog.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just Another Wish

I want to lay myself out like a dog, limbs splayed and my underbelly begging all soft and warm…radiating submission and humility. I'd roll my head onto crinkled whiskers and pant against the shag of well worn carpet, loosen and unfurl my tongue from the jaws that held it tight and afraid. Reaching down your hand, you would enter my ribs between the first and the last break…pull one word, then another from the cavity where they misalign. You’d pile them next to a tail that has long since ceased to wag, too concerned that the breeze might unearth our funeral bones. You’d care little for the blood, and I’d care little for the pain as our viewpoints swapped like donated organs and compassion breathed fresh. You would scratch a joke behind my ear and make my tail stutter…keep telling it, until the words were airborne like dander, and we had understanding whipped.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexican Cantina

(Herman Sillas - 'Guitar Player')

His eyebrows lift
wing tipped
as if they wish to
take flight

he plucks instead
worn strings
fingers nimble
to fossilized arms

she touches her brow
he smooths his

I want to say
let them fly
free from here - far from here
to the places you dance
with untamed thoughts

Friday, February 4, 2011

Morning Shorts


I painted my fingernails black
so they could travel
as foreigners
through my homeland...
to my alien

I took it
from the trash
folded tight
like a virgin
pressed into her convictions

It's been four months
since she felt my hands
or I, her spread
(They startle me...of a sudden, I will reach or grab, and as insects...they startle me. That's the only reason to paint yourself grunge. It's so damn interesting to watch.  And the newspaper? Had to give it up to my shrinking budget. No huge loss, seeing as the news was rarely favorable. But this morning, damn if it just didn't seem as a treasure and feel like a luxury!)