It is a hard thing to see

Because it hides
Behind smiles and cheery talk
How good things are
Between them
But in truth there is decay
You feel it
It rests gnawing on the
Tip of their tongues

They sit
Together but
Don’t look the other’s way

They leave
The party at different times

They talk about the children
Endlessly with a table of contents

So clear you know
What they say
Before they say it
There is feint recognition
When their eyes meet
But the semaphore is read
Unchained and poised
Spread eagle to the
Winds of he said, she said

So begins the disintegration
Of love and
Like spoiled milk you
Don’t really know its bad
Until it spills weeping across the table
Leaking to a rancid puddle

Our only option is to wipe
It all away and hope to God
None of it spills on you.


He Used to Call Me Johnnie

He used to call me Johnnie

My son did, he did

For his first two years

I was his play buddy

Just another comic character

In his cartoony life

My butt and back were his to climb

While Hotwheel cars race likety-split

Down my shirt sleeve track

Speeding to a slick edge cuff

And a successful launch into

Someone’s surprised space

Tackle Johnnie was his play cry

Huddled on the floor

Locked in my gentlest of hugs

We’d roll and twist

Squeal and laugh

Ear to ear we played

Till the end of the day

We dropped, energy spent

Cookies and milk

Our last meal before bed

I was his Johnnie

And we’d share one cookie

One glass of milk,

He drink first,

Then me,

Then he’d drink again

We’d park miniature cars

Side by side

And give them sociable names

Mine was Joe and his was the same

Then one day he looked at me curious

Favorite car in one hand

Tennis ball in the other

And with merriment eyes he innocently asked

“Lets play in my room, Dad..

Daddy, let’s play cars!”

With those words the transformation began

Now I am Dad

A tall, wrinkly creature

Solver of puzzles

Carrier of heavy toys

Conqueror of things imagined

Oh, yes

We still play cars

Share milk and cookies

And pitch rubber balls to each other

But now the fields of play have natural borders

And no longer can I see

Inside miniature cars

One of us grew up

Kinship of Conversation

It is hot and muggy

so much like other July afternoons

women are gathering in my living room

to celebrate a kinship of conversation

like tempered patriots

they come every summer

to cleanse and salute the family flags

re-invigorating each other

with their stories of

smoldering duty and

sabotage in the kitchen

sipping ice tea or

nurturing a cold beer from

a well-tuned goblet,

these are Midwestern women

who, with cunning talent,

can turn a boiled dinner

into a fertile feast,

crude yet voluptuous

In my living room, a flouncy potpourri

of sun-tanning lotion, simmering sweet corn,

and sweaty hyacinth

over stimulate the air

till it becomes to heavy to breath

I’ll have to wait for tomorrow

before I can breath my own.

Sacred Ground

My son asks me

“When was the saddest day

of your life?”

It is harder to pick

than I think.

It isn’t like putting

them in a straw hat

and fishing for just one.

So, what do I tell him?

Do I take him to

past loves, dead pets or just growing old?

But why contaminate

his world of possibilities

with my tainted pearls.

Son, I say

Lets go to 7-11 for a Slurpee

A big one.

and we both

slip into the still coolness

of sacred ground

and wait for the world

to catch up.

Did You Ever Wish?

Did you ever wish
you could live
an inanimate life

Did you
ever wonder
what it would be like
to be – that tree

Implanted in delicious bark
limbs that wend and weave
with unconnected madness
testing the air
so to hold up the sky 

A tree of
notable indistinction
on the side of a county road
listening and watching life
my life

My Neighbor

Every morning she walked her dog
Each afternoon, and after dinner
So when they said she looked frail
I wondered

 At the funeral home she lay
Reposed in her silken shroud
Her bony fingers clenched
As if urging death’s bridle
To yield its claim

Master no longer
Of her earthly domain
I wondered
If at heaven’s gate
Awaits, some unworldly travel
With many celestial orbs to pass
With wings and chariot as bearers
To bode the rebirth of her
New lightened load

Now, a communion of creatures,
Carry her on an everlasting journey
So into the morning, or late afternoon
Or after dinner, if I choose
I can see her
Walking her dog thru eternity’s grove
Wind to her back
And a new lightened load


Poverty is a lonely place
Cold, lazy rooms
With no doors
Only jutting spears of
Rampaging light
Rushing through naked
Reveal a panorama of
Spectacular poorness
Like a poison with no antidote
Children quench themselves
Until their bellies ache and bloat
Being poor is their only diet
Being poor is their silent sorrow