Saturday, June 1, 2019

Mexico City 2019

Julene and I heard enough praise from Mexico City travelers to compel a visit.  Three days of immaculate weather, cultural and culinary discovery, and welcoming people made for a pleasant experience ... Muchas Gracias, Ciudad de México.  Hasta luego!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


She does not complain when
he drinks too much at parties.
A solemn reserve masks her disfavor.
She is far too mannered
to provoke a scene.

While other spouses quibble
over inane social decorum,
she maintains a decisive restraint,
even as he betrays
their most intimate affairs.

She does not censor his language
with unfamiliar guests,
although he spooks the delicate
among them with brash comedy
and wild gesticulation.

He croons to inviting women
when he finds her inattentive
and suffers aloud when she scorns
his amorous gesture.  Long after
others have bid goodnight,

she coaxes him to the car
and drives them home, stopping
along the rain-soaked freeway
so he may vomit his
memory of the evening.

She observes him beneath
a veil of tearful prayer and visions
of a cherished life reflected
in the pavement.  In the bedroom,
she rebuffs his advance,

insists he remove his soiled attire.
OK, Boss, he mutters.  You're the boss.
She draws a warm, saline bath,
presents fresh underclothes
and waits for him to change.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Conscientious Objector

Tomorrow, he will rise for the gym,
go and lift the weights:


He will wage the war he has battled
from adolescence:

up,down,up anddown.

Only, each year the struggle is
a heavier burden to bear,
and he questions what will be gained
from thousands more arm curls,
bench presses, squat thrusts,
endless hours of sweat and strain.

At first, the mission was clear:
build up the armor that would shield him
from a relentless assault of inhumanity.
Broadcast a preemptive signal:
Protecting the core was paramount,
defenseless as a peach it was
to all manner of micro-aggression.

Now, the core is hardened,
campaign-tested.  It bears the scars
of hostilities lost and won ━
far more lost than won.
Surely, a grown person ought to accept
the body in its natural state.

He commits to putting down the barbells
and tactfully re-positioning:

up,down, then out for good.

A plot emerges to throw off
vanity's false embrace and launch
a counter-offensive.

Mornings, rather than suffer the gym,
he will languish on the front porch
with a coffee and grand Wagner opera.
The parade of joggers will pass him by,
their sweaty flanks flapping in protest.
He will raise a glass in salute,
then turn to loftier ambitions.

Tomorrow, he will rise for the gym.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Baghdad Betty

       Northern Saudi Arabia, border of Kuwait (1990)

   This is the voice of peace from Baghdad.
Dear American Soldier, are you prepared 
to die for a barrel of oil?  Would you like to be 
one of the cripples who are only lamented 
in the charity ceremonies?  You know you 
cannot win against our fearsome troops 
and the invincible best friend of Allah.  
Put down your cannons and your bombs.
Demand to go home.  You are weary of sand
and sun and sweat on your body from
senseless aggression.  You are secretly 
admiring the great leader, Saddam Hussein,
and asking yourself, "Why am I here?".
How do you like our Arab lands where
you cannot get a Kentucky Fry Big Mac to eat
and you are always missing your half-naked,
immoral sweetheart back home?
Your American president is losing allies.
He is like the stupid fox that enters into
the house of the clever fox.  Your Arab allies
will turn their weapons against U.S. soldiers
instead of Iraqis.  Why be dead for your
president's dumb mistake?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Childish Things

Church bells clank and clamor
to welcome the shuffle of the devout
ascending stone, chapel steps.
As a youth, I was among them,
dutiful and wide-eyed, walking
in the light of the redeemed
at my father's side.  The bells sang
of a warring celestial realm, unseen
to the sinner's eye, where armies
of white-winged cherubs collide
with silver-tongued devil armies
in a storybook crusade for man's
eternal soul.  The price of entry,
our untried imagination laid bare
upon an alter gilded with the
blood sacrifice frightened ancestors
bargained to appease a jealous
and vengeful Divine.  A promise
of holy reward animated our step,
held fast our gaze upward
to the heavenly chorus sounding
from the bell tower.  We received it
with unquestioning assent,
heard it spoke in parable and psalm,
understood it as tender children
enamored of the treasures awaiting
god-fearing boys and girls. 
Believing came easy as skinning
a knee.

**First published in Castabout Literature & Arts Review

Friday, January 4, 2019

Other Women

He encounters her daily, on the streets, the television, at the pool,
in bars, airports, laundromats and supermarkets.

Sometimes she is brunette, other times blonde; recurrently
Asian, Latina or African heritage.  Once, she was a blind, deaf mute.

Always lively and aloof with an irreverent smile and hips
that swing to the devil's groove.  He imagines their life together:

days sparked with high adventure, rapturous nights of fellowship
and fucking, vacations on the Coast of Mexico.  It would not be work.

She would prepare breakfast for him and tend to her garden
on weekends.  She would have her own money, an inheritance

from a birth father possessed of the grace to pass away before
their engagement.  There would be few arguments between them,

and she would respect the artist, careful not to distract him
with trivial matters such as house cleaning or automotive repair.

He would call her, Mi Dama Amante, and dedicate his works to her.
She would be an ideal companion.  But for her fixation

with ceramic lawn gnomes she would be immaculate.
The meddling midget devils, he really cannot stand them posted

like sentinels about the lawn, scrutinizing every movement.
Even her sister agrees, the gnomes are a peculiar fetish.

She lives in West Hollywood, teaches yoga and dances professionally.
She laughs at his jokes.  You should see the body on that girl!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mother's Ilk

Your appearance in the courtyard 
is a pale reflection of season's past when 
you illuminated the morning glories 
with your rapturous charm and old men 
at the chess board arose in chorus 
to sing your praises.  Now, the years 
have marched upon your beauty, ceding 
a landscape of dry, patchwork skin, 
unpainted features feckless and fallow.  
The hand-woven sweater which seasons ago 
adorned a vibrant figure now struggles 
to obscure a shy, defeated form.  
Your daughter flutters beside you, 
nimble as a firefly.  The promise of the day
is alight in her eyes.  You smile when 
her eyes meet yours, but not often besides.  
Your husband pays you slight attention.  
He pulls the water hose to his pickup truck, 
eyeing the lovely sweater across the way.  
You were once a splendid bride, 
full of laughter and unbounded esteem.  
What became that transcendent creature?  
What tragic tale penned her a casualty?  
Was it youth's siren saga, fleeting as 
Spring's bloom, that cast your leading role, 
then withered to a bit part at Winter's first bite?  
I want to say to you, Be heartened.  
Everything fails in the end.  Call it death 
or destiny, there is only this moment before 
the curtain drops and one is heard no more.  
Your daughter waves hello, exalted 
in her Sunday dress.  You conceal 
your fractured spirit from her, yet when 
she is old enough for shopping malls, 
push-up bras, and boy's lusty stares, 
when she learns of father's affairs, 
will you commend her to hold sacred 
her precious pearls, to value what is divine 
in her and what should never 
be surrendered?