Falling Omens

Leonids flew by here last night

escorted by a bluster

that blew the trees naked.

My husband, brave soul,

weathered the pre-dawn cold

Searching for signs from the universe

in the form of falling stars,

inconsiderate and absent

in the frosty air.

The one warming the bed,

waiting, lacking luster,

and never far enough off the ground

to rise, or fall, or notice

when failure was announced,

sighed in the red glow of the alarm clock.

“Why not just stay in bed,

you already know the outcome?”

It is clearly visible in the stationary sky.

The unmoving spaces howling

in between the lights.

Flashy signs like meteors are unnecessary

when luck is worn around the neck,

an albatross all feather and down.

Better to stay tucked

under the covers, hidden.

Pondering success and failure,

but mostly the void

created in the velvety blue,

on your own terms.

Even if the signs from god are

noticeably missing on this cold November night

there is still room for chance,

encounters and opportunity defiant.

Be ready to grab lucks mantle at a moment's notice.

History may be already written,

but tomorrow,

we hope,

will be there waiting for us.

Perched on a branch,

arms outstretched,

hoping to catch an omen

falling from the sky.


Every day

get up

let out dogs

feed cats

wince at mirror

scramble for clothes

match bland decor

corporate culture


every day

dash to the train

coffee and carbs

focus on pattern

light on the landscape

good and bad behavior


every day

up three flights

down a canyon

a window seat

watch world go by

out of the corner

of a glassy blue eye


every day

type repetition

miss humor

repress regret

self incrimination

avoid eye contact

circle clock


every day

face the gauntlet

six sets of stairs

clamor for seats

loud chatter

dark tunnels

bursting light



think about writing

something meaningful

reorganize handbag

fold tissues

read emails

surpress regret


every day

spiral out

brake turning

pull in

avoid cat

pick up mail

search for key


every day

open door

hungry dogs

cursing spouse

wagging tales

begging anticipation


every day




call Mom

discuss weather

flip channels

shuffle mail


every day

lie on bed

hope for sleep

stare at darkness

formulate plan

corner anxiety

curl around dog


every day

wake at five

hit snooze

relish warmth

wiggle toes

take a pill

kiss goodbye

start again

every day 


Hope Flies in the Midnight Sky

(the emu constellation, a gift for Doreen on her 50th birthday)

Hope flies in the midnight sky.

Shaped by pitch constellations

of shadows in the darkness.

Neighbor of the southerncross,

she arrives in opposites,

straddling seasons

on her trip around the earth.

Calliope birth

lit by lifetimes of secrets

dressed in a gown

of inspiration and hope,

adorned in flickering colors

on a dark arched neck.

Eager to call witness

to the harvests of earth.

Hope flies in the midnight sky.

Soaring high above

fat white spheres

filled with potential,

of nourishment from within

It's a lesson to be learned

as we follow her journey

across the evening horizon.

To feel weight and strength

created by the spaces

in between the light.

All Souls Day

The second of November heralds an arctic breeze

a blunt greeting to hunched shoulders,

the quick steps of strangers

scurrying for commuter cars,

groaning in the morning light,

balancing coffee in chapped hands.

Every decision should be as easy

as this gesture of empty seats.

Allowing forward movement,

unencumbered, and escorted

by the spirits of dead relations;

aided by those who remained

at home on this holiday of all souls.

Ambition could continue

if the line didn't end here

on the crossroad of middle life.

Rough skin and bitter cups

reminders that the beds we sleep in

are of our own making.

Sleep the only opportunity for dreams

until we join the minions

honored on this day of souls.

Surviving Mediocre

Surviving on a diet of mediocre madness

as shadows pass under a transparent skin.

Comrades, gaunt from lack of meat, and an endless hunger,

wait for the promise of salvation that never comes,

leaving us begging for pennies

like whores in a harem.

The streets are dark where she came from.

Lit only by a flicker of golden light,

serenaded by crickets,

abundant love embraced on a soft, damp lawn.

Captured now in pixels and gigabytes,

a vision of young innocence,

red hair blowing in the wind

with a smile that could change the world.

In the canyon of Madison,

nothing is hidden except deep, golden pockets

where greasy fat men yearn for youth

and pretty girls in white thongs.

Hedging their bets that a transfusion of lust

will stop the ache for more;

while ancient mistresses gather dust

in the back room of a museum,

alone with Hatshepsut,

and nothing left to say.

No one can live on a diet of empty dreams,

neither fat men nor redheads aspiring for more.

Shadows, and long hauls of empty weigh them down

in between institutional doors,

bleak, in a plain vanilla, eating away their insides.

Locked in an embrace of financial infidelity,

and disbelief that they too could die.

Preferring solitude,

I sit alone

waiting for the end.

Mine, a seared but inspired heart.

damaged perhaps,

but at least my own

beating in a vibrant red,

surviving on a diet of mediocre madness.

Sleeping on Dinosaurs

Restless in an ancient bed

under a pink singing moon.

Slumber chased away by storms

that shook the rafters

and the dogs from sleep.

Waiting as rain,

cascading from the eves,

knocks the petals off

an old rose, planted with

young hands by the window.

Left are stems topped

with thorny stars.

Only a good imagination

able to restore them

to beauty in pink velvet

just like the moon.

I used to dream

about sleeping on the tails of dinosaurs.

Secured in rough scales

and toughened hide,

the harshest comment

unable to penetrate.

It was the weather

that took them down,

petals and scales,

on the precipice

of water and time.

Knocking the last of our

bloom to the ground.

Leaving only bones

in the shape of stars.

Tornado in Brooklyn

She said there was a tornado in Brooklyn,

watch out for flying debris.

Good advice always

from a Pennsylvania mother of brotherly love.

What is the world coming to?

old memories, roots, brownstones and elms

tossed about like Dorothy in the path of the storm.

Danger she said,

at every turn.

Memories spinning windmills outside the windows.

I wouldn't have known,

stuck as I was

in the bowels of the earth

with the minion of others caught up in the crisis.

Corralled underground looking for an exit.

Thanking god for my camera

and the John Prine in my pocket,

carried around like a bible.

She reminded me that water finds its own level.

Be careful where you stand.

At home the skies clear to reveal weak stars.

Lying in a bed that still spins, even with eyes closed,

I wonder what words of wisdom

I would have passed down to the children I never had,

if they were stuck underground,

storms blowing over head.

Lay low and head into the wind?

Water finds its own level?

Be careful where you stand?


I draw circles in the sand

still you break through.

White candles flicker.

Still the smoke is black.

Is there no talisman

to keep you outside the gate?

Heart hardened,

I sew buttons

on a shift that does not fit.

Sift through remnant

shards of breaking and entering.

I remember tips

learned at the knee of tv

of things I will never heed.

Over and over

the same manifestation

of your face at the window.

Mistakes and missed signs

grim companions

making this possible.


good bye

Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul,

may keep the path, but will not reach the goal;

while he who walks in love may wander far,

yet God will bring him where the blessed are."

~ Henry van Dyke ~

(a poem for Molly)

I hope when it is his turn to leave

it does not come easy,

that he suffers the same fate he gave to you

but without the goodwill of redemption.

On the ride home I wonder, what causes us to behave?

Is it only the fear of retribution, condemnation, comeuppance?

Is that all that separates me from him?

From others, like you uncle, destroyer of children,

my only memory of you a pair of legs.

I think about how their evil would meet.

A sly wink, with a handshake and a smile?

They say god never gives you more than you can handle.

God who?

Why can’t he just keep it to himself, this doling of whim?

Mother always said “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

As I watch his teeth cut through flesh powerless to stop it.

I am still afraid to see you leave

watch as you depart

eyes up in your head,

holding my hand

as if you might grab my soul

and take me with you,

where I don’t want to go

not yet, not now, not ever.

Like flying, it is the taking off that scares me

not the soaring free

but traveling with eyes turned in,


And who is this black haired woman

I want to share with my friends?

With ringed eyes that lament about purpose,

life, death and dead mothers?

What is her complaint?

Hasn’t she realized yet that

it is better to have had a dead mother

with a belief of love

than a living one with none?

I say goodbye to you at the door,

knowing you can’t see or hear me.

More to myself,

the one who will leave with you today,

the one I will never see again.

Pocket Change

We hold our memories like pocket change

not enough to be worthwhile,

only weight to remind us of the intentions of his hands.

The weight of walking the line

between child and grown

idiot and savant

blessed and condemned.

Children fingering the reason it turned out this way.

The fault on us

the guilty party long gone

under the cover of dirt.

Chiming a quiet note of despair

from hope

from anger

from fear that he will come back again

waiting in the dark, to revisit our room.

Memories hidden in the dust

like a quarter in the floor board.

Drink in the Darkness

Relief is required,

at the close of day

when the light,

low to the ground,

stretches silhouettes across the lawn.

Purple fingers yawning from the shadows

by the last blast of a sinking sun.

In the house, warm and dry

amber sentinels sit in the stillness

on the top of the fridge,

innocently tucked behind the onions

and potatoes in wicker baskets.

A thin coating of dust on a gold and red label

meant to fool an onlooker

into thinking that they are never touched.

Left to gather dust, in a sane house

of calm, peace and pets.

But some nights,

when the sun sets too soon,

dark fingers yawn around the foundation.

The undertow of darkness pulls even the strongest

swimmer where they don't want to go.

Tree branches no longer silent behind the window

rattle a warning to alert the guards

like the bell on a door.

Something is caught in the currents

just below the surface

of then, not now;

of now, not then.

Spinning in a whirlpool

of eternal amnesia.

Foolishness, you laugh to yourself,

shuffling plates like cards,

opening a can of neatly packed meat

for cats that curl around your legs.

You are too old to worry about shadows

and reaching fingers,

or the darkness spreading across the roof.

No need to remember what is not memorable,

Let it stay hidden to gather dust

like the solace on the fridge,

kept as talisman

just incase you get shaken,

like a door in the wind.

Tonight if the memories whisper louder than the gale

the seal will be broken.

Amber will be fondled in a round fat glass,

the only reflections in the melting cubes

your own eyes looking for clues,

while claws and tails eat at your feet.

Leaving Home

A reluctant wave,

the old woman is gone.

No more to wander

with aimless purpose,

in an Eden meant for the senses.

Abandoned are the soft heads of

pedaled children, beloved,

who depart and return every year

to expectant eyes.

Gone, the grace of solitude,

peace of earth with sun,

seed with water, bud with bloom.

Abandoned are the fruit of effort

to keep the back strong,

and the inevitable at bay.

The house, packed,

belongings, dispersed.

An unexpected turn

for the better or worse.

Only time will tell what will be missed

and what will be gained

as farewells are whispered at the gate.

Gray clapboard, white shutters,

navy slate warming by the back door

will no longer call a greeting.

Strangers, who won’t recognize

the creaking laughter of floorboards

which palmed her life,

will walk in this place called home.

The leaky faucet,

water circling down and around

in an eternity of gravity,

bids adieu from the old pedestal

in chipped white that will speak no more

to ancient ears.

A lifetime of ghosts, set out on the curb

for the next garbage pickup.

Dusty walls, bare, harbor no ill will

to the empty echoes that remain behind.

The crooked tree left alone

to celebrate a wrinkle made only by time

on her small hands, speckled like the plover egg,

cracked, thin and delicate.

She leaves, with reluctance,

the soft earth tilled with patience and love,

that will continue on without her.

A reluctant wave,

she is gone.

No more to wander

this place she called home.

The Gallery Spoke

The Gallery Spoke has a river running under the floorboards.

Above, plaster walls hold thick slices of rich golden ocher and crimson,

glorified devils, potted geraniums, a crow plucking out an eye thrown in for good measure.

Morsels of inspiration from a mixed bag of temperaments.

The eddy of the gallery swirls with looking glass conversations of hope, gossip, discovery.

Talk of art is buffered against the best way to repair a wall, so often penetrated by nail,

ignoring the breach below, as if a river is no surprise at all.

Sometimes it is easy to ignore the obvious underground.

Strong currents wear away stone and etch linoleum alike with its passage.

Conversations turn instead to their preferences for white, as shaky hands are known to spill;

needs for more, the desires for less, the competition down the street.

Challenges, or change not necessarily a welcome guest amongst this crowd of few.

Frustrations, perhaps, keep souls young and the paint moist.

Still westward the river flows,

immune to the politics and struggles above.

Springing from an unknown source, much like inspiration,

but without all the drama.

Small deposits of sand and silt caress the banks

that hold abandoned work and forgotten causes.

Rich minerals, iron and lyme, nature’s medium,

rework the damp canvases in patterns of umber, viridian and black

slowly elevating them into an organic masterpiece of mold.

I am honored that this stream,

its briny breath, traversing oceans and time,

has chosen this spot to cross my path.

Past gates of brick and wood, 

a trickle at times, roaring at others,

Flowing onward as I cast my lot on a foundation built on sand.

It has to be an omen, luck, ironic

given my already obsessive ponderings of a watery muse.

Glossy images of source and spring

An amateur’s hand and a determined ache

to direct the flow of ordinary into a work of art.

This river, my salve, offering up possible salvation

From menial tasks and days without ambition or delight.

Hope that I may follow its lead

with an eventual bubbling up in a spring of success.

All the while keeping my own path clear, holding a steady course.

Embracing the hope that notice is not necessary for greatness.

It creation itself that only matters in the end.

Tar Beach

We would sit

the three of us

on tar beach

no sand to reflect the heat

or water to quench the burn

only the scent of a salty brine refuge

where we perched on an abyss of black

surrounding our little islands of pink

We would sit

the three of us

listening, to the music of car alarms in Brooklyn

the screeching wheels of the J Train

waiting and wishing for transformation

into something other than what we were

cocooned in foolishness

three pale girls alone in the world

ribs digging into soft flesh

talking, of the meaning of dreams:

an octopus with the eyes of a man,

flying without wings,

devils in the basement,

of invisible souls growing in wombs

too small to contain their meaning

yet too large to ignore.

We would sit

the three of us

perfuming skin with orange laced oil

sliding across translucent thighs

that would dance for boys

with a wild abandon

available only to the untamed

unbroken or mad.

willows in wooden heels

bending to the gathering storm

maelstroms, of reckless dreams,

hoping that Odysseus would succumb

to our wily ways and save us

from a future hidden from vision

in the shiny black sea.

The Coffee Shop

Three women sit

Sipping coffee in delicate cups

The color of mud, a hint of pink on the rim.

They haven’t fared much better

since the sweet days of youth

when they would sit

at this same table

pulling apart yokes, their lives,

with a determined vigor

to get to the bottom of their plate and their fate.

Today, sipping in a holding pattern

before a funeral of an old affair.

Thirty years gone in a flash.

Really, it is his wife they are curious about.

What did she have that made her so special? Deserving?

The bitch, with thin legs and blond hair.

Her luck: an inheritance, a big house and even bigger insurance plan.

Bitterness has left them hollow as the pit of growling stomachs

even after a sensible lunch.

All that is left are veins, sinew, wrinkles and space.

Three women sit

Waiting as empty cups are filled and plates shuffled.

How much they have changed.

Black to gray. Thin to plump. Foolish to wise.

Then back to foolish again.

Even beginnings of a hump

visible beneath comfortable clothes.

Talk turns to their grandchildren,

older now than they were then.

The check is split, three ways.

A tip, hefty, for the waitress,

left under the sugar bowl,

meant to make up for lost time.


Weeks past the equinox, and a little past noon,

you find yourself swimming in rough waters.

The sun warm, the surf strong,

breakers pull you out and then roll you back again.

A cork, in an ill-fitting suit purchased impulsively at K-mart.

The draw and the release consume your attention.

Body bouncing and tumbling along with crabs and shells,

rough territory for tender feet trained for heels.

A child’s laugh released from salty lips is worth the risk.

You, neither crab nor child, relish the buoyancy

of empty space under your feet

highs and lows, over which you have no control.

On the shore, an umbrella stands, a little to the left

moving steadily with the current, soon out of sight.

An abandoned handbag, towel, fritos, a few cigarettes incase of emergency

are left unattended and prey to a hungry gull

prowling the sand like an offshoreman,

roving back and forth, with angry eyes.

The motion of the sea still in his step.

You will feel it during the long drive home,

sandy shorts, tight skin, and a rasp in your lungs.

Traces will be felt later as echoes escape bone

interrupting the gray sleep of winter

calling you back to the deep.

The Cat

Every day the cat pisses in the sink

to protest his confinement,

his life indoors.

Not on the calico patched comforter

or the couch, worn and old,

who’s embrace is an old friend,

cushioning where he sits all day,

staring at the door,

waiting, waiting, waiting,

for my return.

But in the sink,

where the stink of my own day is washed down the drain.

Damn cat, kindred soul,

with his constant reminders

that some are meant for grander things

than to sit and watch the clock,

praying for a key to open the door

kept locked by a fearful heart.

Piss on you my dear,

for keeping me here, safe but trapped.

Caged against will, against want,

heart bursting at the seams.

Waiting on the sidelines as life streams by.

Destiny shadows out the window, a waking dream.

The cat begs for release,

as I wash the porcelain clean.

Deep in the Belly of the Whale

It’s dark it dank

There is no light

Deep in the belly of the whale

There’s nothing to do but

Moan and fight

Deep in the belly of the whale

She sits there too

And she’s looking at you

Deep in the belly of the whale

She takes what she needs

To make it through

Deep in the belly of the whale

Her legs are long

Her face is old

Deep in the belly of the whale

The yearnings hot

But her heart is cold

Deep in the belly of the whale

Her money’s tight

His pockets are ripe

Deep in the belly of the whale

She sits there too

And she’s looking at you

Deep in the belly of the whale

She takes what she needs

To make it through

Deep in the belly of the whale

His hands will grope

But she’s no dope

Deep in the belly of the whale

not a wife that is true

But she will have to do

Deep in the belly of the whale

She sits there too

And she’s looking at you

Deep in the belly of the whale

She takes what she needs

To make it through

Deep in the belly of the whale

There’s lots of cash

At the fat man’s bash

Deep in the belly of the whale

If hell was real

You would know how it’d feels

Deep in the belly of the whale

She sits there too

And she’s looking at you

Deep in the belly of the whale

She takes what she needs

To make it through

Deep in the belly of the whale

You’re not alone

Wishing for home

Deep in the belly of the whale