AUBADE

The sun peers through
the skylight, sneaks
catlike up the comforter.
He strokes her cheek,
they are drawn together,
lips touch,
toes twine,
hips press,
fingers trace,
the mattress a world
of infinite gravity.
Downstairs
the cat paces angrily,
the coffeemaker
thirsts for beans.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

AT FIRST

The first time
I heard it
I knew
that voice
came from a place
I had never visited,
would never
be able to go.

It penetrated me
reverberated
within me
a harmonic
that shook
me to my core.

She reached
and grasped
what I thought
I had kept hidden,
and as I danced
with my
new bride,
I knew Etta
had led me
to love
At Last.

ONLY ONE LEFT FOOT AFTER ALL

We took private dance lessons,
she already versed in the dance,
a natural grace and flow, and I
moving with seemingly fused hips,
unsteady, bordering on clumsy.

As we went on, it began to come
to me, never graceful, but no longer
embarassing to myself nor her,
and the teacher said I could be
a natural, a kind and gentle lie.

At our wedding we glided around
the floor, a slower Eastern swing,
and when the song ended, I smiled
knowing that I had found the one

A PRAYER

Last night, as I sat poised
on the edge of sleep, I asked
God for continued blessings,
for I have been blessed more
than I likely deserve.

I heard Her reply that I
would always have Her love,
on earth and heaven, and I
knew my request, selfish
for certain, had been answered.

But now I wonder if it was
truly She or your voice I heard
in that moment, but I know
which voice would not matter
for you are the blessing I sought.

SUNDAY MORNING

Every Sunday morning my parents,
usually my father at mother’s direction
would drive me the four blocks
to attend Sunday school.

I could easily have walked, a long
block and a half by cutting through yards,
but they were afraid of I have
absolutely no idea what.

My friends that weren’t there with me
were probably in church so
it wasn’t like I had anywhere else
I might go, anything else I could do.

I never asked why my parents were
so insistant I attend the school, they
knew I’d be Bar Mitzvahed with or
without the Sunday mornings,

and they were Jews only in the loosest
secular sense, and I was in those
awkward years and the only thing
else that came to mind, fed by

my father’s not so well hidden stash
of Playboy’s was too grim to imagine
and given how little they liked to be
around one another, could be rejected.

A WELL REHEARSED SILENCE

Of course there is something I ought
to say, moments like this require it,
it goes without saying, painfully.

I practiced lines for hours, rehearsed
in my dreams for weeks, knew
for years I’d be rendered mute.

My tongue swells, threatening
to escape my mouth or take refuge
deep within my esophagus.

Your silence is only compounding
my anxiety, how can I, a man
of words, be rendered silent

by the thought of speaking to you,
of telling you that I finally now
joyously have what I feared I wouldn’t ever.

A wife and lover deserves
better than this.

HERE-ISH, NOW-ISH

In this moment we, the two of us,
are here in this precise place
and there are an infinite number
of places we might be.
But we want to be here,
just here, nowhere else.
We are aging, but in this moment
we are exactly the right age
and to be younger or older
would do nothing for us.
When I curl against you
as the morning light struggles
to pierce the pulled blinds
and stroke your arm
my fingers are in the only
place my fingers want to be.
Here, now, together.

LAMBERT FIELD

The gravestones, in random shapes line the hill
the morning chill
creeps between them and onto the runway
until washed away
by the spring sun slowly pushing upward
as the jet noise washes the hill unheard

He passed away quietly in his bed
ending his dread
of the cancer slowly engulfing him
his vision dimmed
by the morphine that pulsed through his veins.
He paused to remember the first spring rains.

She selected the plot on the hillside
she would confide
to friends, so that he might see the valley
at long last free,
to see the flowers bloom in early spring,
the land that was his home and he its king.

One summer the caskets were carried out
while the devout
cursed the sacrilege of the master plan
of the madman
who decided that the airport must sit
on the hill, his valley forever split.

The jets rush over the cemetery
February
snows blown across the gravestones in their wake
as one snowflake
melts slowly on the ground, a falling tear
which, unheard, marks another passing year.

First Appeared in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine (UK), April 2002.

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.