Working Retail

We put away the suits and the dresses
and the maternity jeans
until tiny, round bruises
form on our hands from the metal heads
of hangers and we've sweated
off all of our makeup and our feet pulse
with each trip the blood takes to the heart
and back-- to the fitting room
and back-- we repeat
until we are rallied to pull merchandise
on spitefully named “buddy carts,” too
heavy and bulky for one, thinking
“I better not die, here,
in the stock room, being crushed
by a box of Alfred Dunner sweaters,”
and we look back on our day
in numbers, leaving
the clothes behind, knowing
that every angle each shirt faces
will be exactly the same all night
and into the morning,
even if we like to pretend
Corduroy Bear
is real.


If I Were to Die

If I were to die
and my hand were to hang
limply off the side of
this couch,
my cat would scratch her
face on it and she'd
thank me,
for relieving the itch,
with kisses.


Dear Friend, Lighten up!

Hello, my dear friend!
So happy to see you!
I've been working,
quite a while on the
Earth-quilt beneath you.
Do you like it?
I made it
from tree branches and
clay. I used to be
in a clan but they're
long passed away.
It's just me now, you see,
growing fruit on my
head--shedding bark
off my back. This rock,
here, is my bed. The
dead let new life be!
Be happy and flourish!
My dear, dear friend.
Have an apple!
Have a drink!
Let us watch the sun
rise and

Comment: I wrote this poem before I read the biography in the tarot-based “Faeries Oracle” and, though I'm still not convinced “faeries” are all around us causing things to happen, I'll admit I was a little freaked out by the way details in my poem matched the description in the book. This is probably a credit to the artist who drew the cards.
Milke à Muckle (aka A Mixed Blessing) is a grig of good family. As you have doubtless heard, grigs are merry-- so merry that they have become proverbial for it. They want you to be merry too, with a childlike open heart. Mikle informs us, Little things come in small packages.
Mikle and be foolish, silly, playful, and absurd... He understands renewing the spirit and re-creating the body and emotions... When we stop pretending to be adults for a moment...we can regain the clear, direct vision of a child... Milke reminds us that the past is past, gone forever, the future is just a dream, and now is the only time we have, moment by moment.


“Should we tell her?”
“Yeah. I mean. Yeah.”
As Emily continually attempted to coax the back wheel of the bike onto the wooden rail, the two, young men debated telling her the secret. This twisted rail, built from thin, flat wood (or very likely fiberboard), was coated with chipping white paint and, though it seemed sturdy enough, the boards nailed together were varied in length. This damned twisted rail seemed to be the only way out of this amusement park from hell. The way in which it ascended and plummeted mimicked neighboring roller coasters, but unless one was a young child, those roller coasters would be about as much fun as the zoo on a rainy day in winter when seeing part of an animal, behind branches, in the distance is considered a great success.
Emily had no memory of anything prior to this wooden obstacle and no thought of what was beyond it. Dragging the bicycle to different places on the boards and riding short distances consumed all else.
“Excuse me,” one boy called to her.
“You can't clean the counter if you don't have a sponge,” he said, calmly and with much confidence. She should have been confused, but in this hazy moment questioning the origin of logic would be highly implausible.


I've been waiting for a miracle.
I've been waiting for a miracle
with nothing
but teases from progress
that mock my suffering.

I once learned through
melodies before the tunes
were drowned out by noises and voices
meaning nothing
and saying

Monitoring scans
and measuring doses
for twenty years
of nearly fifty now
tell me, God,
the meaning.

I'm sick
of being told I'm so strong.
Choosing one of exactly
one choice
hardly shows character.

My children
are downstairs
screaming at nothing.
They no longer believe
in miracles.

(Persona Poem 10/30/08)

Holiday Shopping

Okay, so, I'm at the grocery store
watching the cashier scan my items-
ice cream.
The four items the store rarely
has to bother putting on sale, and,
yes, I do need all four.

You see, I need all that candy cause
I don't know how many kids
to expect at my door
this Friday

and I don't really live
in a safe enough neighborhood
to feel comfortable opening my door
alone, so, see
I need those cookies
to bribe my brothers
into spending the holiday with me

and those ice cream flavors
are seasonal
meaning, special, so
maybe I thought they'd make
a good excuse
to invite someone else over

and those chips, I mean,
I gotta get my fiber somehow, right?
So those are really for me.

Okay, maybe all
of this crap
is for me.

I'll be back here later this week.


Teary baby girl
squeezes Dad's arm so tightly
Tiny fingers dig

Mother's Mother says,
“She's really doing damage!”
Eyes see broken skin.

“Do you want me to
hold her for a little bit?
You look pretty tired.”

But Dad does not care.
“She's in more pain than I am,”
He says.



Sheets of rain tore down
the intricate web
where the brown spider
had waited as a new CD
sang songs too soft-
too incisive- to squander
the sound
while hours were wasted
trying to teach
that you were worth
the time, but
you never remember
to turn the page
on the calendar and always
at screaming clocks.

Thoughts For Mr. Starr

I just wanted to talk to you, just while its on my mind
I wanted to make sure you know what she wants. 
The woman you love
dreams big. She wants art and she wants sty-le. 
While she has art in her life, 
in the outfit of your apartment where the musical instruments line a whole wall, 
where in the closet is a box stuffed with every flower she's ever been given, 
where in the bathroom she placed both dotted and striped accessories, 
haphazardly matching patterns laid out on the floors and the walls of the room in order to remind 

you that this apartment is a home. 
And while art is in her life, 
even in the little consistencies of it, 
like relaying to you her day at the end of one 
like being expectantly eager to hear about yours, 
like falling asleep before you every time you try to stay up late, 

like not knowing (as I've seen) that when she drifts to sleep in your arms you see how she is complicated to the point of simplicity, 
that she is lovable and you love her and somehow, 
no matter how many times she or I tell you this, that she, your love, can sleep through anything, you tiptoe when you head out for a smoke, 
you tiptoe so she doesn't have to.

So while she has art in her life, she still dreams of style. 
She wants to wear designer dresses as she smokes cocktails with her cigarette extender.
She wants to live in a house, a unique design by you, perhaps, 
a place where she can raise a big family wearing stacked heels like her grandmother used to. 

She wants every pair of shoes the family owns lined up at the front door by size. She wants this, not because it follows the rules of feng shui, but because that, to her, is love, and safety. 
She wants to be surrounded by bright colors and music from around the world. 
She wants a mix of tacky trinkets and expensive decorations to fill the home
like women of the Victorian era who would spend their days collecting anything that could teach their children to understand beauty. 
She wants all of this to be watched over
with Turkish eyes at every door and window.

She wants you to take her away from herself, 
from the need to fill the silence, 
from the need to replace the losses. 
She wants to stop comparing boyfriends to the father that chose to never get to know her beauty.

She wants to stop flashing back to her mother's “I love you, buts...” 
She wants you to keep her from deliberately making the world spin faster, as she does, skipping from one group of friends to the next and going full circle because as she says, she “never wants them to see her as annoying.” 
She wants you to make her never annoying
Or to lovingly soak up all irritation so the rest of the world won't have to. 
She wants you to teach her patience. 
She wants you to make her stronger and to tell her how she makes you stronger. Every day. Forever.

So I wanted to talk to you for a minute. I wanted to make sure you know what she wants. 

I wanted to see if you see what I see. I see there is truly something fantastic going on with your love. But I know that despite the tough front you put on, the tragedies that have aged you cause you to live heavily and shallowly at the same time, 
basking in the spontaneity she brings you when all she wants is consistency. 
Please, in this minute, let me tell you what I want for you-
For her.
He-Who-Was-Never-Young, for you, I want the process of grief to consume you
so that you may become the man you almost are. 
I want you to feel deeply, as a child, every emotion that sends you postcards from another time.

I want you to hear me, right now, when I tell you that you can dream big, too, just like your love. 
You can wear designer suits and smoke cocktails with her cigarette extender, if that happens to be what you dream of. 
Or if that's not quite right, you can write songs on a bass guitar or 
you can build furniture from the MDF next to the “Free Wood” sign down the block or 
You can go to school, gather a borderline-irritating amount of knowledge and win big on Jeopardy.
You can be rich or poor, urban or suburban, scholarly or worldly,
just be aware of where you are and know that you don't have to pick just one life from each category
I want you to grieve your losses and embrace the quality you already posses of being able to let in new people and experiences. 
I want you to dress with class, to trim your beard, to try new foods and clean up after yourself.
I want you to spend at least ten minutes of every single day doing nothing. 
I highly recommend lying on your floor from time to time because you might really be amazed by how many angles you've never seen your home from before.
And while she, your love, has the extraordinary ability to discover and love the uniqueness in anyone, this is not something you should appreciate without apprehension. 
I want you to know that, should you find that what you want for you does not match what she wants for herself, that ability of love will make it so she is not lonely for long. 
I want you to fight for her true heart if it's what you want. 
I want you to be the one that doesn't leave.
I want you to challenge her tall-tales and constantly remind yourself of her grace.

I want you to want art and style to surround you as well.
I want you to relish the view I have of you and you and her together because it is constantly exquisite- two softhearted, strong-willed riffraff (and I say that with love).
So, do what you will. I just needed a minute. You don't have to figure out the rest of your life today, of course, but no matter what, please know her
Know her better than she knows herself, as they say, 
and know that no matter which direction you and go in 
and no matter which direction she goes in, you will both always be cared for. 
I wanted to make sure you love her, because I love her, and to know that you will find your place
in this world that moves slower
than you.



Having been compared to everything by
everything, for everything,
speech, like people is sometimes

rooted in absolute certainty it
listens and follows this only
"right" way like

a Holy war
evangelicals versus atheists
opposing definitions of sincerity

A way of life.
A way with words.
A song, a battle cry, a tearful whisper.

"Ugly beauty."
Gibberish, confusion.
On the other side-
sentences without adjectives
written by a shaky hand
Tell me a story.

The Basis of Everything

From the fast-food employee's hands
to ours-- crinkled and stained
with bent corners and a tiny tear

It's passed through many more
hands, than ours.
Some cherished it's presence,
waiting for that critical moment
when it would put on its superman costume
and save the day.

Some left it lying, abandoned
in the bottom of their winter coat pocket,
under the couch cushions with salt cracker crumbs,
mixed up in a pile of take-out menus
to be used at any whim.

Still, it's the most talked about-
most sought after affair.
Everybody wants to hold it,
to make a home for it and
teach it to grow big and strong.

We could pass it on to a set of hands
begging for the type of security
only it can bring,
but we'll probably
“do the Dew,”

("Write it without naming it" assignment 9/30/08)