Inevitable

Teeth made of sugar
dissolve,
stiff, heavy legs
piles of curds
I could not have imagined
trying to walk on,
my beautiful young friend
now made of crepe paper.

That guy in the photo
trying to smile
what the fuck?
When did that decrepit
old fart commandeer my
young soul?
No hint of joy
eyes dull and glassy,
set deep in that haggard,
death-haunted face

seriously, my love,
what the fuck?

The Honor System

There is nothing to stop
the kid in the angry red baseball hat
from crunching down the gravel path
through an always open gate
to the spot where a large stone
marks my father’s grave

A tempting canvas
for some malicious mischief
a few shakes of the can
the whoosh as a crooked cross
splays itself over the Hebrew words
that remember the skeleton
as a bright and modest man

The boneyard is on the road
where local klansman
hurled fist-sized rocks
to smash the heads of folk singers
when my father was an
idealistic college student,
the moral arch of history finally
bending the right way
if the line could only hold

Seventy years later
no guard or locked gate
defends the graves of
those helpless dead
who are, anyway, beyond harm now

It’s the honor system,
I suppose.

My New Sunday Routine

I pretend now, on Sundays,
that I did what all my friends did years ago:
went to work, for good pay
bought a house in a nice place,
four walls, a roof,  a staircase
A place where nobody can stomp on my ceiling
petulant to find themselves living in a shithole
rented too dearly from an evil entity
in a neighborhood about to be gentrified
with nothing to say about anything.

I pretend, on Sundays, now,
alone in this old house,
as I play the guitar as loud and long as I want,
that I have always lived in the land of the free
and the home of the brave.

Ode to an angry, rapey mean drunk

The nominee wants an immediate fair hearing
by his peers, zealots,
no evidence against him,
only one witness’s
uncorroborated word against his
but a fair process
he wants a fair process, a fair process 
 
Goes on their channel to make his case
says this over and over, and:
Dignity and respect, nothing but dignity
and respect for girls of every age
and fuck those lying teenaged bitches
How dare they?!!  My good name!  The fucking whores.
 
FBI, no thanks, I would, of course,
but you know… the committee
 
“False Acquisitions!” snarls a dotard. 

Grandson of the Awful Ease of Incoherence

The ease of incoherence is awful
because it is so easy.
The idiot ease of it: effortless
no effort needed.

Incoherence makes no demands,
anything you can
pull out of your ass
will do, really,
there is no problem with anything
you might pull out,
the less likely the better,
actually, for purposes of
incoherence.

Meanwhile these affectionate ferals
born with two strikes against them
and five personal fouls,
eight of their nine lives wasted,
spend a few minutes in the sun,
chasing a delicious smell
then gone forever
like the Polar Ice Caps,

like everyone
you’ll ever love.

Can People Change?

People can’t change
my father always insisted.
Fundamentally, he said,
without a shred of doubt,
people cannot change themselves.

Fifty years later
as he was dying
his born-angry baby
standing quietly by his deathbed
listening
with no apparent anger
made him think

Fuck, he thought,
looks like I may have been
wrong about that
I wish I hadn’t been so
goddamned categorical
about it all my life.  

Then he died.

Reverie during a hot shower

The hot water pounding gently
felt so good
it made me close my eyes

I saw suddenly
caramel colored shoulders
the collarbones also caramel
against the brilliant white peasant blouse
I was trying to peer down into

The house where this happened
has long ago been razed
a gothic nightmare stands there now

I was monosyllabic
still in the grips of
a long bout
of what they told me was
a mild form of depression,
I had no interest in anything,
only dread,
but somehow I was seeking
what was down the front of this loose
necked white dress

The girl, for her part
seemed interested in
showing me whatever I
wanted to see, to touch

“Call me,”she said
as she rose to leave the party

“I…” I began
as time turned thick
“I’d… like to…” I said

Her eyes were like
the eyes of a beautiful deer

“Uh, it would be hard to do, though,
since I…
don’t have…
your number”

Apparently she took this
as stylish
and gave me an easy smile

As she bent forward
to write her number
I got to see more of the smooth skin
inside her white peasant dress

it was only a little bit
lighter than her caramel colored shoulders,
face, neck, collarbones, arms,
her perfectly smooth legs.

A few days later
around midnight
we sat on the ledge of a fountain
at Lincoln Center
kissing.

I told her she must
come home with me,
she said she couldn’t
there was a guy in love with her.

Back at my apartment
the little sounds she made
reminded me of a long lost love.