Curtains

featured in the poetry forum April 14, 2010  :: 0 comments

We hang ‘em
across smudged window panes
where the neighbor’s
kids try to peer inside,
as we hide our peccadilloes
from Mr. Jones and Mrs. Smith
across the street
though they’re both probably doin’ it
just like you and me, baby,
but they, too,
don’t want to show
their skin-deep machinations
to the world
for fear TMZ will feature it
on websites or for TV viewers
to SEE
their latest moves
alongside Tiger’s latest transgressions
on and off
the putting greens.

Did I ever tell you
my best friend, Mark,
the really short kid in junior high,
lost his virginity
‘round midnight one summer’s eve
right out for the entire public to witness
on the 18th hole – now that’s a duffer’s delight
better than any birdie or eagle
I ever managed to commemorate
with her intials on my maple bedpost.

So I ask you
why do we mask
our feelings
our animal desires
our fantasies
out of fear that another may laugh
point a finger and gasp?

Madman Mercury
of Queen fame
laid it all
on the line
from pop, glam, psychedelic, blues, progressive
and hard rock
flaunting his musical genius
with tunes of love, lust, lingering desires
and it landed his group as the UK best selling band
even beating out the Beatles
in sales with over 300 million
to screaming fans
even Elvis would be jealous of today.

Of course,
AIDS caught fire in the world
and quickly spread from bathhouses
to bedrooms, ravaging millions
and rendered Freddie’s voice
silent, but it never stopped him
from telling everyone
exactly how he imagined the world
spun round and round
even up until his deathbed
confession – and warning.

If this artist taught me
one thing – and one thing only
through his athletic gyrations,
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
tunes and lyrics
it was this: If one does it
with style
with a person they truly love
there’s no need to close the drapes
until it’s curtains
– for YOU.

Dreamland

featured in the poetry forum February 28, 2010  :: 0 comments

I remember the times
of long hair, Woodstock, civil rights
but most of all I recall the fervor
for righting wrongs
of the past
towards our fellow human beings
when it was unfashionable
to show it in dress, song or words.

On the day
that MLK
was gunned down
– a month before Bobby was murdered –
my father reminded me
once again
that one’s contribution to this world
is never measured by a bank account,
celebrity status nor professional ranking
but by the content of one’s character
and how much we give back to society.

Forty-two years later,
YouTube can conjure up
“I Have a Dream” as if by magic
to show us how far we’ve come
but still fallen behind
in providing for those
who have no food in their bellies
nor schools in their community.

Does the country of Haiti ring a bell?

Now is the time
to pay back the canceled check
Martin Luther wanted so desperately
to cash for his people.

Now is the time
to end the war against the helpless,
the hopeless before the harbingers of death
feast upon their bodies,
their minds,
and their souls.

Now is the time
to Imagine, as John did,
we can live as one
so leaders like Kennedy, King and Lennon
would not have wasted their lives
for people like you
and me
and others too poor
to buy laptops
or even glasses
to read these words
of hope and change
before it is too late
to live the dream.

Hangman

February 28, 2010  :: 0 comments

As children
we played games
with balls, bats and teammates.

But when we were alone,
we played games
with words.

I’d never guess
the ones you’d choose for me
but you always guessed mine
no matter how difficult
I made them for you.

Then your father changed jobs
your family moved away
and I was left
to play by myself
with only my pencil and paper
to draw and write and play.

The next time I heard of you
I read your obituary.

You left a well-educated wife,
a nine year old daughter,
and a promising career
dangling
at the end of a noose
tied around
a Spanish Colonial high rise
house beam.

I wish we had stayed in touch.

I know I could
eventually have guessed
the word,
the words,
you needed to hear
before you played
the real
Hangman
all by yourself…

Sarah’s Song

January 8, 2010  :: 0 comments

The night she died
you said you felt death
in the air
at the rave
in the L.A. barrio.

Hip Hop brought us together
for one last fling
before the summer
faded,
but it was the iconic figure,
the only true legend in Jazz
that made me believe
in God
and you.

‘Round midnight,
the handgun,
unregistered, shielded from view,
and the ensuing fight
on the dance floor
never swayed the D.J.
from playing
Sarah’s song
as it all went down . . .

Your knees buckled
to the rhythm, the voice, the words
and we fell, in slow motion
to the cold cement in a hot sweat
of the shooter’s house
as the shots fired overhead.

But for those
who slow danced
and stood tall
unmoved by the passion
blood ran cold and streaky
on the sterile metal tables
in the morgue
only a few hours later.

Her majesty
could not escape
the same fickle finger
to death’s baton beat
as her heart beat
for the last time
in the same hospital
that withheld the names
of the trinity.

Though others screamed
and cried for lost friends
that morning after,
I prayed only for you
as I dug deeper
and you moaned,
shouting her name
and the lyrics
of the song
Sarah sang
that saved us both
the night she died
as we both gave in
to the music’s
rapture.

The Unfinished

featured in the poetry forum January 8, 2010  :: 0 comments

Is better left
so
than gulped down
like a cherry Slurpee
the kids on Chickawa Street
choke down, brain freeze and all,
every day
after school
at 3 p.m. sharp.

The Native Americans knew
perfection
should never be attempted
or achieved
and always left an imperfection
in any and all
woven goods for cover,
protection from the elements,
and their Gods.

Which you are to me.

I cannot
face the ending
of your epic, your ultimate work,
a book of prose,
of tales tall
and thinly veiled
life’s tragedies.

So I sit here.

Once again.

In the dark
hung on the penultimate act
instead of tasting your final words
the ones you typed into the manuscript
before you shot yourself
with heroin
one final time
in the Motel 8 bathtub.

If I were to swallow whole
like Jonah’s whale,
the last morsel, nugget
of your best stories
what would I have to look forward to
in those morbidly dark, cold moments
with the power turned off
for bills left unpaid
and the thought of you,
the lust for release –
conclusion
of your final words –
were no longer
salvation
to me?

I suppose one day
I’ll need to feed upon
your flesh and bones
to satiate my hunger
when there’s nothing
in the bookshelves
but Kierkegaard, Nietzsche or Dante.

But when that day passes,
I’ll have nothing left
in my life
to savor
and hope for
on the lonely afternoons
except
for what makes
little boy’s dreams
come true . . .

Captain Spaulding, I Presume?

January 8, 2010  :: 0 comments

Marx
the comedian not the communist
– or was he a socialist? –
may or may not
have shot
an elephant in his pajamas
(I don’t know how it could fit in those tiny leggings, either)
but regardless of his political leanings,
Groucho
not Carl
was best known to Americans
not only for the Broadway Musical,
Animal Crackers,
or movies such as, Night at the Opera,
but for a game show called, “You Bet Your Life”.

The bespectacled, mustached fellow
invited men, women
from all walks of life:
tall ones,
short ones
brilliant ones,
not so smart and clever folks
to his show
and most bet their lives
they knew the answers
to questions
many sane members of society
had a clue to, too.

In one show,
a refined southern gentlemen
who had a wonderful recipe for fried chicken,
never did guess
the secret word,
but Colonel Sanders always was better
with foul than funny men.
Even famous writers
such as Ray Bradbury flubbed-up;
but four-star general
Omar Bradley came mighty close.

My favorite contestant
was the smug intellectual
from M.I.T.
who claimed to have developed a system
on how to beat a roulette wheel.

I wonder if that formula
won him tenure
in the Physics Department?

Either way,
the Master of Improvisation
played along, mispronounced
the last name of the Ph.D.
every time they spoke.
When the dapper fellow
on sabbatical
told the comedian
of his generation
the money he earned in Vegas
allowed him to finish his first book:
Quantum Mechanics and the Art of Gambling
the quick thinker fiddled with his Havana,
rolled his eye brows
and retorted,
“I’m sure it will be a best seller
– but not in your lifetime.”

Regardless of impending literary fame,
the man answered four questions
on Astronomy. After he conferred
with his gal pal
partner in the game show shenanigans,
both hugged like honeymooners
in the Bonus Round
that made them thousand-aires
and $10,000.00 1959 dollars richer.

“Put this money in the bank little lady,
before your partner in larceny
whispers in your ear, “Lay it on 7 Red, Sweetheart”
or worse – asks you to invest your five thousand
in his new book deal,”
the quick-witted one warned
before the two left the stage
wealthier than the average game show contestant.

Marx
could make me belly laugh
– the one teamed with Chico, Harpo and Zeppo
not the economic/historical author –
and what a writer the fellow namesake was, too.

The Communist Manifesto
is still a big seller
especially in Hollywood
in the 1950’s
from what I hear
– ask anyone named . . . McCarthy.

Mental

November 29, 2009  :: 0 comments

Say you’re claustrophobic, xenophobic, and agoraphobic, old friend?
Sleep deprived?
Nightmares galore?
Bed wetter?
xxxNo problem. No problem at all. We’ll fix you right up.
Calling Dr. Delirious! Calling Dr. Crazy! Calling Dr. Frankenstein!
The Supermen of Psychiatrists will see you now…
xxxWe’ll cure any illness
xxxxxxreal or imaginary – with easy, monthly payments – and we even take Visa.
And know this my doubting Thomas,
eventually we’ll get to the bottom of the real you
even if it kills – I mean – cures you.

How? Glad you asked.
At our clinic, each specially trained and licensed brain mechanic
will replace your performance anxiety disorders,
xxxcheck your spiritual battery fluid levels,
xxxxxxsooth, manipulate and re-center those unaligned chakra cylinders
– all seven of them
and have you back on the streets, good as new,
xxxfor any road race, at your own pace, in society’s rat race.
But before we start…the procedure…
xxxPlease change into this tissue blue gown.
Remember? The one you wore last time? The one that shows
xxxyour skinny, boney behind?
Yes, that’s right – all the nurses adored it – even Nurse Ratched.
But before you plop yourself down
xxxon this cold, sterile, metal table,
xxxxxxplease bend over and touch your toes.
Now about that insurance card…

Ode to an Organizer

featured in the poetry forum November 29, 2009  :: 0 comments

Shiny new rivets
adorned the rusted grain silo
like a diamond necklace
around the neck of a proud
but infirm lady
with gout, colitis and hearing loss
celebrating her 100th birthday
amongst loved ones.
But like the senior,
primed with lipstick, hair dye and a pretty dress
nothing could change the reality:
like any old woman,
the wheat collector’s best days
had passed
decades earlier.

Did anyone care?

Not the owner.
Not the foreman.
Not the wholesaler.

No love was lost
on the dirt poor factory workers
in the Southwest High Plains of New Mexico
except for one man –
Jack Johnson.
But neither the safety expert
and the recently formed
union membership realized
the day Jack climbed the stairs
to the top of the heap
to check the beauty
of the beast
would be remembered so vividly,
told and retold
from father to son,
for years to come.

Swinging on the second floor
above a metal grate,
a slender piece of metal, bent, twisted,
signed, Do Not Open While Smoking,
blew in the breeze
like a checker flag on a final lap,
near the shaky ladder
and equally unstable
oxidized steel platform.
Regardless of the peril,
Jack
the man
of conscience,
the man
of morality,
the man
of selfless dedication
to those under his leadership,
ignored any and all warning signs
and continued his ascent
on the day laborers rested.

The morning
Jack Johnson finally rested
in peace
his widow sobbed,
his children wept,
and his men cast suspicion
on the union buster
standing across the street
who leaned against
his brand new red truck
who crushed a butt,
a Marlboro,
under the heel
of his polished cowboy boots.
across from the local cemetery gate.

The story goes
as the union leader inspected
the cleanliness
of the air ducts
for a dangerous build-up
of filth and fine particles
in the concrete granary cylinder
an explosion
and subsequent mushroom cloud
looked and felt like
Fat Boy dropped from a U.S. bomber
on Nagasaki, leaving nothing behind
but Jack’s local badge number – 777.

The police chief claimed
Jack must have been careless
by smoking
and lit the spark
that ignited the blaze
creating a crater
the size of the dark side
of the moon.

Everyone at Willy’s Bar
cried in the small town that night
– except the owner
who cashed in
on a million dollar
insurance coverage
the very next week
of a business gone awry.

Johnson’s men
to this day
hail Jack,
the fallen,
as the saint
who inspected dangerous conditions
so many had complained of
so many had feared
would take their lives one day.
In fact, each night
before their monthly meetings,
men sing about the legend
who gave up smokes
five months before
and the devil
who snuck up behind him
and knocked the hero unconscious
before scampering down the silo ladder
like a rat running along top
a rope of a ship
docked to a pier.

Tears are always shed
when the song ends
with the murderer
running to his Bronco,
shooting from a great distance
only a sharpshooter
like he could do
to trigger the spark
that left only the soul
of a great man
and a bit of a Marlboro
cigarette butt in the dust…

Legacy

November 29, 2009  :: 0 comments

A visceral, muscular attack
on the dance track
of jazz, hip hop, and modern,
blew everyone away

everyday
with knee bending
back breaking
neck jerking moves
Astaire and Kelly
would admire (if alive)
of one human’s bizarre

but beautiful Dali moves
filling space with music
as if sculptured
by Michelangelo’s
hands.

In the bedroom
she was no different
challenging her partners
of all persuasions
to keep up with
the rhythms,
the tempos,
the timing,
to please
the savage beast

in her.

The wild street scene
and sublime home arena
entertained and appeased

the street performer
until
mother nature’s bloody call

skipped
a month.

For the final sixteen weeks,
the butterfly was bed-bound
nurturing the young one
until she burst
on a water mattress.

Rushed to ER,

without her aunt,

the midwife,
the Latina pushed

too hard

and

too soon

in the elevator.

The baby

arrived but

did not move.

Seconds became minutes
as doctors breathed life
into the weak of heart
but nothing helped.

The mother,
drenched in blood,
sweat and tears,
reached over
and whispered
into the ear
of the newborn.

Magically
the girl coughed,
lungs expanded,
and cries of joy
were heard throughout
the hospital ward.

As a living and breathing child,
the girl never crawled,
but simply danced
across the nursery floor
amazing other toddlers
with flips, tumbles and jumps.

One afternoon,

her mother showed up
in subsidized day care

and once again

whispered

to her pride and joy
to keep her talents
secret

from the maddening world.

Sixteen years later,
the prodigy performed
on Broadway

one opening night.

Several standing ovations later,

the daughter waved to the front row

to a woman,
a mother,

who never received

the fame or glory

denied her

and so many others

born to the ghettos

of New York,

Philadelphia

or East L.A.

everyday.

Star Guides

October 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

Heaven.
Hell.
Where’s the in-between?
Space.
Moons, planets, galaxies.
Black holes, nebulas, an expanding universe.
A trekker’s dream.
A priest’s dilemma.
A scientist’s dream.

From Stonehenge
to the Sphinx
and other celestial rock gardens,
ancient astronomical storytellers show us
their fables
on existence.
But are we
more or less
enlightened
about their tales
than
the heavens
above
or the hell
below?

In 1963, President Kennedy promised
we’d beat the Russians.
and we did
to the moon, Alice!
But did we step into cheddar, Swiss or ricotta?
Run into monsters?
No.
We planted our flag,
Spent billions on technology
For what?
To play the first interstellar golf game?
Drive, skull, several balls in the zero gravity
Tiger Woods would not be proud to claim his own.

As another millennium has dawned
we build 2001 space oddities.
Stations, probes, lunar landers and rovers.

But if
by chance
we do find something
anything
worth footnoting,
will we leave decipherable bookmarks,
benchmarks
for future generations?
A reminder of what we know
today
compared with what little we learned
from
yesterday?

Maybe
just maybe
we should leave
an obelisk…