Caged

October 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

As the steel gate slammed behind me
I winced again at the harsh sound
even though the sentence
to my ten by ten cell
allowed me brief moments
of exercise around the yard
each and every day
since my birth.

But I was not deterred
because I knew I would find
my freedom
one day.

For too many days
in the blistering heat
with little water or food
I paced the enclosure. I would push
my nose against barbed wire
until I bleed.
Once I realized
the soil was softer
I tunneled through
and cuddled next to your side
only to be slapped and scolded,
reprimanded and condemned
to the hell house
re-enforced with boards,
bricks and double locks.

But I was not deterred
because I knew
I would find my freedom
one day.

One night,
when snow and ice made my bed
you felt pity for me,
perhaps remorse,
and opened the jail
to feed me an extra morsel
but that was a mistake
and you, instead,
became a feast
for my famine.

When I finished,
I dragged what was left of you
inside the prison,
kicked the portal shut
and ran across the field,
though not before stopping,
turning back,
to notice your wretched, crumpled corpse
bleeding across the wet, white blanket of hay.

Instead of howling at the moon
in glee I cried
but I knew not why.

Perhaps
you did not
turn me into
the animal
you bred me to be?

Running into the thick woods,
I could only envision
that awful cage
you made me
call home
far too many years
but I still said a silent prayer
thanking you
for helping me find
my . . . humanity
and my freedom
that day.

Onward

featured in the poetry forum October 11, 2009  :: 0 comments

Walking backwards
uphill
towards the cemetery outside
the Italian fishing village I spy on
terraced tomato gardens,
shirts, pants and underwear drying on balconies,
rickety scaffolds braced against sturdy apartment buildings
needy of a well-deserved colorful facelift.

Zigzagging the asphalt road
past a two-hundred year old place of worship,
epiphany strikes
shedding light, revealing the manner of perspective
on my former path
of striding forward
with both eyes open only
to the path of what has been
or should have been
and not the endless possibilities
of what existence can be
…today.

Interrupting the mountain ferals
felines playing catch-me-if-you-can contests
behind the gravestones,
I place a stake of purple bougainvillea
on my ancestor’s white marble marker
one amongst many pioneers of the region
– Basso, Rosasco and Columbo –
legends who ruled the land with nets,
poles and cargo from the sea.

The seaport Arabic clock tower
butted-atop the Gothic church
rings nine times;
five minutes later,
another near the graveyard
repeats time’s unrelenting march forward
reminding me of papa’s age
– eighty-one –
when the ocean took him
before I could say I love you
one last time.

Returning to the small town,
I see
children dressed for the heat
wading in the fountain
sneaking behind parked cars
playing
hide and seek in the town’s square.
Grandparents, parents
seated on stone walls, benches,
gossiping with their hands
telling stories of families
love gained,
love lost.

One hundred flights of stairs later
towards my apartment in the former castle stronghold
I hear Marco Polo!
from the teenagers
on the playground near the train station
and whispers of anticipation
for fireworks,
a village anniversary,
a rave of sensuality,
music and celebration.

Dusk slowly turns night
from my balcony
and I notice
boys and girls
continue their elusive games
while lovers play kiss and tell
behind the train station terminal
unaware, uncaring too,
as the tourists and locals savor
their last licks
of spumoni
and slices of life,
pepperoni, porcini, pesto.

Parents scream out their windows
children plead back for more time,
lovers remain silent in the shadows
whispering between the bed sheets
for something more
than what life offers
tonight.

Looking ahead
down the backward path
I, too, envision a future
that calls me away from the water,
the land, our home,
as do each man, woman, teenager and child
who pray and dream for summer adventures
of a life severed from the past,
backwards in technology,
but not culture, heritage,
or spirit
in their small corner of the universe.

Onward

onward

School’s Out

September 12, 2009  :: 0 comments

Alice Cooper’s lyrical anthem

liberation, exhaltation
for kids, teens and young adults
dying in one-room buildings in the country,
over-crowded urban prisons,
prep schools in the hills
struck a chord

in my heart too, so
why can’t I remember the words
anymore?

Sunburns, summer fairs, the fairer sex

and hot, sweaty nights between the sheets
flash forward from
undergraduate to graduate
years of books, typewriters, computers
when I sang along in the shower,
at keggers playing beach blanket bingo
with the bikini-clad.

Today, the professoriate
pounds at my head,
forcing me
to develop projects, grants, articles
point out mistakes
of the imaginative, but raw theses

of graduate students
who hate me
more than they despise the pursuit of

higher education.

Thus, the question begs to be asked:
When did the pardoned inmate
(three-months a year plus Christmas)

become the condemned
life-sentenced
warden
who listens to music from the past
but can never
live the dream
again?

Matter of Perspective

September 12, 2009  :: 0 comments

Dali’s genius
– was it madness
– eccentricity
– simply a need
for attention
from his admiring public
instead of fellow artists?
Depends
who you
ask…

In form,
cubism
led to surrealism
capturing his notions
of the ordinary and extra
into visions of suspended animation.
Persistence of Memory
tick tocks time’s fluidity
a theory
both he and Einstein
held close
until Heisenberg,
quantum mechanics,
brought about his/its disintegration
leading to
holographic, optical illusions
in Dali Atomicus.

For symbolism,
the animal kingdom
played a role
– lobsters, rhinoceros
– elephants and felines,
– even ants and snails,
in life’s cyclical play
birth and re-birth
the sensual
the sexual and ultimately
death,
unshackled mortal coil.

Science and religion
played their parts too,
but in politics
anarchism and communism
were his choices
but he never stood still
or took a stance
when the cannons roared
in France, Spain
as Mussolini and Hitler
ruled with iron fists
or the US of A
dropped bombs
on Hiroshima
Nagasaki.

Instead he painted,
created,
married,
and when asked
if he took mind altering substances
proclaimed himself
the drug.

Was Salvador mostly
an uncouth, ungrateful son
who once gave his father
a condom filled with his essence
as payment in full
to settle an argument
over his mother’s life
or was he
the artist
who drew like a madman
over 1,500 paintings, illustrations
created jewelry of world renown
and worked for Walt Disney
as an animator?

Visit his home
a museum
in Catalonia, Spain
sneak a sit
in the Mae West Lips Sofa
or gaze upwards in the courtyard
to the suspended gondola
that cries blue tears
over of his wife’s death
and decide
whether his works
moves you
to tears
or disgust…

Hallelujah – I’m a Bum

featured in the poetry forum September 12, 2009  :: 0 comments

…or soon to be.

Job – terminated within the month.

Wife and baby – leaving for airport terminal tomorrow.

Heart – terminally broken from years of disappointment.

I wonder…
will I meet all the people
I pissed on and off
on the way down
the career ladder
to throne of greed
in the corporate sky?

At least I’ll be with
my own kind (they say)
the disenfranchised
lovable losers
and not so adorable ones
sleeping behind bushes
near mall restaurants
hoping to nab a half-eaten Egg McMuffin
to choke down
with the Boone’s Farm eye opener.

There’s only two problems
with that scenario:
I can’t stand fast food
and I don’t dumpster dive.

Is it too late
to find GOD
or would the preacher man simply say,
“Hallelujah – you’re a bum”?

But I’m not
– yet –
am I?

In Flight

featured in the poetry forum August 8, 2009  :: 0 comments

You had me
or I you,
a mutual advantage
over our collective
disadvantages?

Enemies gossiped.
Friends snickered.
Loved ones hated
the thought of our time
together,
merging our wasted lives
into a swirling whirlwind
of laughter,
booze
and other modern day
accessories that would
shock them
or any traditional
backward
small town crowd.

Today
you jet east,
I drive west,
never to meet in the middle
until fate
destiny you call it
decides to throw us
together
in the same two-bit town
that only nowhere
calls home
to people
like us
with nothing but
hopes, dreams, and ambitions
of starting over
where they left-off
again
and again
. . . and again.

Worker Ants

featured in the poetry forum July 8, 2009  :: 0 comments

Scrambling, zig zagging
across scolding hot sidewalks
the red fire insect bangs into brethren
like bumper cars in a carnival,
moving with a singular purpose –
to serve the greater good of the colony
and the queen. I know one
who giggles, laughs
tries to hide
sexual innuendos
hers, mine,
during five minute breaks
near the water cooler.  We pass notes
between the cubicles
paper, electronic,
and the boss
almost catches us
every time.

One night
after the staff retired
for the weekend
you rewarded my diligence
granting entrance
into
the royal chamber
where the eggs collect.
Showered with praise
seldom shown
to lowly men such as I,
you bay at the moon
coyote wild
when fertilized with ardent desire.

As Monday creeps in
through the shutters
the sun illuminates
a troupe of simple creatures
marching across the window sill
and down onto the wooden floor
to search for
water, sugar,
to take to their families.

Finished with me, you shun my embrace,
demand I run to 7-11
to grab Black Flag and
coffee, black,
on sale near the register.

On my way back
through the park
I dodge, weave through
a maze of homeless, helpless.
You text me,
“Leave the can
on the front step,
the coffee in the kitchen
at work
and be careful not
to let the boss catch me
late again,”
so I sneak into
through the backdoor of
Jolly Termite Inspection.

Today of all days
Mr. A sees red
in the yearly profit projections
and once again,
treats, reduces
us all like
good little
drones
he and the company
believes us
to be . . . except for
my queen
who sees me
more as a king
at times,
rather than a mere
worker ant.

Blasphemy

featured in the poetry forum May 30, 2009  :: 0 comments

He
hung by his penis, wrists, and ankles.
She
hung by her nipples, neck, and toes.
And all the sidewalk traffic that night
either laughed, giggled or chuckled under their breath
at the uncommon sight.
The bachelor party quintet
pulled their beaten-up, gray ’84 Chevy van
to a dead stop by the curb
and jumped out
to gawk, snicker and guffaw until
the gray hair wiggled her walker close,
bowling over one of the drunkards
against the public display case.
“It’s SICK, SICK, SICK
I say,” of which she did quite loudly,
Her brown, patched fist
pounding out each word
to a quick, symphonic cadence
against the thin vibrating barrier
separating herself
and the others
from the horror of it all.
Gaining moral certitude,
physical exactitude
the humped back one
preached to the growing sidewalk congregation,
converting many to her point of view
until three glass bottles
Pilsner’s finest beer
were thrown by the earlier heretics.
Two exploded by her pigeon toed feet
soaking wrinkled hosiery;
the other shattered
the clear curtain
separating art
from life.
And if one were to look ever so closely
beyond the jeering and applause from the crowd,
one could detect
faintly and ever so slightly
both faceless, life-size
paper machete mannequins in the display windows
smiling…

Dreamin’

featured in the poetry forum May 20, 2009  :: 0 comments

Ever have one of those
Freudian
nonsensical
three-act nocturnal plays
where an overweight panda bear
treated you like her son
and you ended up searching
for days
weeks it seems
until you finally find your maternal heir
sitting at a Wendy’s
suckin’ on a swirl ice cream
with a meth head
who wears tattoos like jewelry?

You too?

Great news . . .
I thought I was the only one
who hid deep, dark secrets
in animal fur
hidden
for the whole world to see
in a fast food restaurant
on Main Street
U.S.A.

How did it end
the saga
of the
deadbeat mom
named Lulu?

I’d love to tell you
but according to your gold pocket watch
our session is
over –
unless you need to hear
what you want, what you
need
that will cost me
another piece of my head.

No problem, you say?

Good . . . because do I have another doozy for you.

Pillow Talk

May 20, 2009  :: 0 comments

Is what she called it.

Batting her eyelashes
like Greta Garbo
she fluffed goose-down
for customers each day
-except the Sabbath –
in the waterbed
store.

I stumbled upon her spell once
and fell so soundly asleep

to the soothing, rolling, seductive waves
that when I awoke the next morning
I found myself without my Sunday best
in the storefront window. Passersby gasped
pointed, laughed before I clutched two feathered cushions
to hide my modesty.

“Cash or charge?” she inquired

behind the cash register
before throwing my pants, sweatshirt and shoes
on the floor

in front of my feet
before ringing up
$49.99

for each satin pillow cover.

Lesson learned?

Never expect discount
from an scorned ex-lover
of the aquatic-kind.