OLD MEN

It is always odd
watching older men gather,
talk about their lives,
about how much they
no longer remember,
of last year, and
a decade ago, about
the infinite details
they can clearly recall about
the time they spent
in the Army, Navy, Air Force,
the smell of Slop-on-a-shingle,
of field stripped butts
in a small container
in their olive drabs,
of the base or post exchange
where you could buy
the mandatory Ray-Ban aviators,
the Sergeant’s grimace,
the body count in the war
they never wanted, only
wanted to end quickly,
how they were once brothers
in arms, now just old men
sharing painful memories.

TREACHERY

René Magritte was born and died
in Belgium, neither happened
on this day, but he painted
a most realistic picture of a pipe,
which he captioned “Ceci N’est Pas
Une Pipe,” which of course it was not
since it was only a picture of a pipe
and he entitled the work
The Treachery of Images.
This brings to mind a question:
if I say, Ceci est une poeme,
is that true, or am I engaging
in a mere treachery of words?
Draw me a picture of your answer,
if you would be so kind.

COFFEE ROASTING

They dance defiantly
denying gravity as they
tumble through the air.
They cede
their color reluctantly,
Now a beige, but soon
a defiant chocolate-brown,
milk turning slowly dark.
They entice you,
their perfume perhaps
too strong for some,
but it draws you in
and you cannot help
but imagine how the thought
of them will rise
as you do from the bed
and together you
will beckon the day.

LUNA BECKONS

The perigee moon
hangs heavily over the city,
clinging to the horizon
as though it wishes to flee
deep into the night,
turning away the attention
in inevitably draws.
We are pulled toward it
by some deeply felt force
that we know we dare not
question, for we must
honor the moon’s secrets
as we hope she will honor ours.

TURNING

He says, “I’ve run out of cheeks,
my own family has used up so many
and there are so few left,
I save them to have one to turn
when someone sincerely and truly atones.”

“I suppose,” she says, “there is
some logic to that.”

“Not at all,” he replies,
“for if someone truly atones,
if the apology is honest and heartfelt
there is no need for a cheek to turn,
the wrong is righted, the wound healed.”

She laughs in agreement, adding,
“You only turn a cheek when
you expect another wound,
and a wise man once said
if they keep hitting you,
get out of the ring.”

NOW LISTEN UP

I read a poem
today, about a cat
and it reminded me,
actually the memory
of my last cat came to mind,
that cats
have an innate sense
of people, that people
utterly lack.
It may be that cats
are completely unfooled
by the masks we wear,
or simply that
they could care less
how we see ourselves,
and only measure us
by what we offer them.
In that sense, of course,
they are people, too.

ERATO’S NIGHTMARE

That one summer
I worked in the plant
I could hear them whisper
in the break room,
with its always empty
Coke machine.
They’d get real quiet
when I came in
some would nod a hello
and quickly leave.
At first I thought
it was because I
was only there
for the summer,
but once, standing silently
outside the break room door,
I heard them talking
about the weirdo
who read fag poems
when no one was looking,
how he was probably
some sort of queer closet pinko.
I tucked my copy
of “Gasoline” in my back pocket
and wandered back
to my workstation, wondering
if Corso put
up with this bullshit.