JACKPOT

I’m not a gambler,
never have been, knowing
the house always had the odds
and every play was
a sucker’s bet for sure.
I might kill an hour
on a business trip
to Las Vegas going through
four dollars at the nickel slots,
one play for each
original nickel, winnings
set aside for rolling.

Twenty-one years ago
today I hit the grand jackpot
standing nervously on the steps
of an Indian restaurant,
and my good luck has
never changed so it’s fitting
that today I draw a perfect 21
even if there is no casino
to make a payoff on my winning.

IMAGINE

I think it might have been
a passionate love letter
I wrote to you last week
but never delivered

although there is the remote
possibility it was just
our grocery list, both
have line breaks after all,

but it does show why
I must remember to check
the pockets of my jeans
before I put them in the washer.

So let’s agree that it was
that passionate love letter,
and you can swoon thinking
of the things you imagine I said.

SHADOW

I want to be your shadow,
and not in your shadow,
but the shadow itself,
so that I might be with you,
often unnoticed, forgotten
but present in the light
of day and night.

It is a closeness
I deeply want, without
intruding, a presence
you have with you always,
for that is what lovers
crave in silence, something more
for which they dare not ask.

SEARCHING

I never imagined that
the search would take so long
or be so difficult.

I never imagined
I had set off seeking
the Holy Grail.

It once was easy
I recalled, little searching
and plentiful enough.

Now, hours spent
actually wasted, I conceded
that it was futile

and went back deep
into time to bring forth
what I never imagined

would be so hard
to find, a good, intelligent
romantic comedy.

LAUNDRY LOVE

In the older romcom movies
there was often a meetcute
taking place in a laundromat.

I have spent far too many hours
in laundromats when traveling
on extended business trips.

I found one in Santa Cruz
with a coffee shop and figured
it was where romance would bloom.

I spend more than a few hours
watching but while the coffee
was always pouring, an espresso

or cappuccino hissing away,
I never saw a couple form, a date
offered, just a dryer tumbling

hopes and dreams, as they
withered in the heat, awaiting
the lonely basket home.

EMPTY SACKS WILL NEVER STAND UPRIGHT

There are nights
when the song
of a single cricket
can pull you away from sleep.
She says that she has heard
that not all Angels have wings
and neither of them
is sure how you would know
if you met a bodhisattva.
He searches the mail
every day, for a letter
from unknown birth parents
but none of the credit cards
he ought to carry
offers to rebate his dreams.
Each night they lie
back pressed to back
and slip into dreams.
She records hers
in the journal she keeps
with the pen, by the bed.
He struggles to recall his
and places what shards he can
in the burlap sack
of his memory.

First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013

FOR A MOMENT

The cat takes her time,
carefully considers on which side
she will flop down so that I
can rub her stomach.

She says she allows me
to do this so I feel that I
have some role to play
in her life, validation she says.

She will kick me with
her hind legs when we
are done, “call you again
in an hour” she says in parting.

I cannot complain for I
do live in her house and it is
an honor to be admitted fully
into her world, if only for moments.

FAMILY

You ask me to define what family is
and I tell you that I may be
the last person you want
answering that question, I
an adoptee who felt like
an orphan supplanted
by siblings who knew her womb.

But I do have an answer,
family is that insane person
who will drive six hours
to spend an hour with you,
family is the joy and aching
of your heart as they leave,
a bit of themselves remaining
deeply within your soul.

WHEREVER I LAY MY HEAD

You say that you are uncertain
if this place yet feels like home,
and look at me silently
questioning how I feel.

I answer as silently that
you are here, I am here
so it does feel like home
just as everywhere would
when we are together there.

Without speaking you remind
me that even I would admit
a hotel room is not home despite
our presence, and I agree that
places with suitcases are excepted.