Jake (Written November 3)



It make very much when you cook,

The mother said. You take home.

I thanked her and followed Jake


Down the stairs. Don’t mind her,

He said. All she ever talk is make

Or break. I like her very much,


I assured him. We sat together

On the couch. Nobody touch

The tip of her little finger, he burn


In hell. He put an old audio tape

Into the machine. It was my turn,

He said, to show him what I had,


But I wanted to see him first.

You want blink, he said, nothing bad

Happen to son who never roam.

So Unlike His Father (Written November 2)

So Unlike His Father


The way his father was with the men

Was not the way he was with him.

He stood quietly by, with bowed


Head, as if he were somewhere else,

Listening from a distance to a loud,

Heated, and possibly violent argument.


Something made him smile, and the men,

Mollified, moved apart, content

For the moment, until they stood


FacingĀ  each other, with his father

In the middle. What would

I do, he wondered. So unlike


His father, he laid a hand

On one man’s shoulder, lightly,

Like a feather, then on the shoulder


Of the other man, who, startled,

Fell back. Wiser and older,

He answered to no one but him.

Only a Wild and Sincere Grief (Written November 1)

Only a Wild and Sincere Grief


Once I am dead, there will be no lack

Of kind words, as I stagger toward

Oblivion. Only a wild and sincere grief,


One that is all consuming, will allow me

A glimpse of the afterlife, however brief.

Who among you gathered here can plumb


Such depths? Pull the blinds closed,

Turn off the iPhone and the iPad, dumb

Down your own raging desires.


All I ask is one day, one hour,

To hold me in your heart, like a fire

That you tend with all your being.


Let the thought of me penetrate

Your senses, and help me to see,

Through the dark, the way forward.

No Time to Talk (Written October 31)

No Time to Talk


That part I really didn’t like.

There was no time to talk,

Barely time to say hello.


You noticed the sculpture

Under the lilac bush, and the yellow

Hosta leaves, limp and faded.


Imagine, leaving a Carol Taylor

Outdoors, you said, as if you’d waded

Through a bog to arrive – nowhere.


The house was a mess, otherwise

I’d have invited you in for a beer.

You went back down the stairs,


And I followed you, like a dog,

To your car. Anyway, who cares,

I said, nothing lasts forever.

What She Most Desired (Written October 30)

What She Most Desired


Letting him in, even, strangely,

A little wary, remembering her vow,

She remained silent. According


To him, he’d done nothing wrong,

In the same way that a collector, hoarding

His treasure trove, feels no need to answer


To anyone. For too long she’d lived

In his shadow, which, like a cancer,

Threatened to destroy whatever sense


Of self she’d been able to preserve.

What she most desired was a fence

Around her property, and the power


To let some people in and keep

Others out. Why did she still cower

Before him, when it was clear


He had nothing to give, and nothing

To take? What did she fear?

She had only to live in the moment.

Going Deaf (Written October 29)

Going Deaf


He put his fingers to his forehead

Like someone lost in thought,

Or like someone who will soon


Have to talk in front of a large crowd.

The person next to him tapped his spoon

Against a glass, but he didn’t hear.


When the others stood up, he stood up.

One by one they left the room, to loud cheers.

He followed, but stayed far behind.


He did not know what was happening.

He needed a moment alone, to find

His bearings, but he felt dragged along


With the others. He smiled in answer

To a question. Somewhere a gong

Sounded. It was almost painful.


When he tried to speak, his voice broke,

As if he had something shameful

To hide, and now he’d been caught.

Stop Right There (Written October 28)

Stop Right There


You really should stop right there,

Before you say something you’ll regret.

If she stepped on your toes,


You can bet it was not without a reason.

Bitching will only add to your woes.

The point is, she’s got bigger fish


To fry, and you, my boy, don’t even figure

In her calculations. Let her dish

It out and take all the credit.


Do you think she cares one way

Or the other what you think? Said it

Once, said it twice, the only loser


In the long run is you, with your

Enhanced reputation as a boozer.

I’ve never seen you this upset.

Hardly a Saint (Written October 27)

Hardly a Saint


Barely able to see in the gloom,

Breathing the stench of tar, paint

Thinner, and urine, he felt


His way along the cold wall

To a table piled high with pelts

Of fox, beaver, and muskrat.


In the corner, on a raised platform,

Was the rack with his guns. A bat

Flew at him and swooped away


Into the dark. The ironing board

Lay flat, unused since his last stay,

More than a month ago, before


His present troubles began. A bookcase

At the back of the room, where he stored

His journals and his photographs, leaned


Precariously to one side. What use were

These memories to him now? The fiend

Was at his back, and he, hardly a saint.

One Stroke After Another (Written October 26)

One Stroke After Another


Every gesture, however ill-advised

And ill-conceived, brought to life

Something that had not till then existed.


Everything lived in the moment,

Or not at all. Whatever resisted

This movement through time and space


He brushed aside, like flakes

Of dried paint, in the race

To completion. One stroke


Brought forth another stroke,

And so on, until he woke

From his trance, as surprised


As anyone at what he had done.

It was not the finished canvas he prized,

But the way the brush cut like a knife.

The Wild Wood (Written October 25)

The Wild Wood


Into the wild wood, where there are

No plates and no stitching. No tears

And no bitching. Only the wind


In the leaves. The chickadees chirping.

Nothing to claim, nothing to rescind.

The trace of an airplane high above


In the blue sky. No entrances

And no exits. The push and shove

Of the crows on the branch of a tree.


The rust-colored mushroom in the green

Tuft of moss. Everything fresh, everything free.

The tamarack by the side of a creek.


Squirrels fretting, owls hooting, deer

Turning. A carpet of pine needles.

The sun through the clouds. No fears.