MILLIMETER

I would love to work for the Postal Service. I don’t want my own route, and I certainly do not have the right temperment for working at the counter. The health insurance is good, and the retirement would be something to look forward to. But I want one job in particular. I want to the the man who sits all day with the micrometer and measures the mail to see if it is over a 1/4 of an inch thick, so he can send it back for additonal postage.

BUSINESS SUITS

“What do you think is the likelihood
of success in the long run,” she asks,
and I watch the fly land on my forearm,
perched on hairs that barely

bend under his inconsequential weight.
His wings are a perpetual twitch,
almost unseen, and felt only as a faint
breeze in my imagination, while a world

is created, a reality collapses, a butterfly
is born and dies, and the fly stares at me
a thousand faces the same, each processed
in turn, digested and stored in

a finite space, overwritten by
the next face, flower, while
his tongue unfurls, flicks and sucks
on a bead of sweat at my elbow.
“Not very good,” I respond.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

EGGMAN

When I was a child . . .
God, how many times have you
heard something prefaced by those
ever frightening words, not
scary themselves but what
painful story they promised.

When I was a child we had
a milkman who brought
the glass bottles twice a week,
took the empties and envelope
with his payment from the
shelf built in the wall
just for deliveries.

We also had an egg man
who’d leave a dozen eggs
in a little metal basket
on the same shelf. He
had a great mustache,
almost walrus-like, and he
may have been an eggman
but he was defnitely not a walrus,
goo goo gajoob.

SHOPPING

One of the hidden joys
of being a vegetarian is that
for us the grocery store is
smaller than it is for many.

There is no meat counter
to visit, no butcher to engage,
and the smell of fish is
weaker at even a small distance.

I do eat cheese, but not
the sliced sort at the deli
counter, I don’t want cheese
shaved from a massive block.

We all meet in produce,
but I tend toward the organic
which makes my visit shorter
and far more productive.

HIMAGAN’S PITCHFORK

If you go in search
of the way, you
may come across a sage.
He will ask you
why you seek it.
If you answer,
he will strike
a deadly blow,
if you do not answer
he will strike
a deadly blow.
Grasp his arms
and carry him
with you.

A reflection on Case 73 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

RETURN

He arrived today
although none saw him coming.
He had been here before,
been quickly ignored,
despite his pleas and prayers,
they twisted his words
to suit their venal desires,
his message forever lost in translation.
They were not ready,
and in their hate fueled world,
they might never be.

BUT

On more than one occasion
someone has come up to me
after an open mic reading
to tell me that they love my work.

I am honored and tell them so
but curious as well, since I
only read two poems, which
hardly counts as my work.

I offer to sell them my book
at a substantial discount,
but they inevitably tell me
“Thanks, but I don’t read poetry.”

PAUSE

The world ended yesterday
just as predicted, and then
restarted, and nothing at all
seemed to change yet
everything was slightly
different, a little askew.

I noticed it, although no one
around me detected it,
went about their day
as though nothing happened.

The preachers didn’t foresee
it coming, hadn’t predicted it,
glad when the restart did not
signal the end of days, for they
were no longer certain where
they would spend eternity.

I had no such expectations
and the moment duly noted, I
went about my day normally

NO BOIL

Not so much watched
as casually gazed at, and
not a pot but a smartphone,
which had best not boil.

No ring, not this day
lost in what, an absent
mind, thoughts of self,
not unexpected but wanted.

Distance real becomes
distance virtual, empty
later explained, words
of apology, forgiveness

but a lingering scar that
will recede, reappear
that laughter may cover
but never fully erase.