In so many mythologies
earth is a woman, a mother,
and we arise from within her.
The pure and simple logic
of this assumption cannot
be assailed, for she is
the crux of all nature,
and as it seems in life,
it is all too often
the males that lay siege
and wage wars that
damage her deeply,
and the women whose tears
gently wash her wounds.
I walked slowly into
the darkened showroom
of the tattoo parlor, walls
lined with the wares
of the burly, bearded man
dragon rampant on his chest
barely contained by the Harley T-shirt.
Look around, he said, till you see
what you want, I’ll be here.
On one wall all manner of dragons
and other dreamlike beasts,
one of mermaids, nymphs
a corner of cycles, one of butterflies.
What I’d like, I said
is a Campbell’s Soup can
Tomato, preferably, or
Chicken Noodle, on my biceps
close to life sized.
He stared, slack jawed, but
you never really know,
it worked for Andy Warhol.
He waited patiently in the queue
until, after two and one half hours
he approached the battered metal counter.
The young, bored woman, chewing at her gum
asked the usual question, have you
looked hard for work this last week?
I stood in many lines, for hours on end
in my battered old shoes, that is
more work than you can imagine.
Each night I would soak my feet
for hours in the small sink
hoping the swelling would go down.
Each morning I would find another line
or two, if they moved quickly, but
at the end of each they would ask
the same question, what skills do you have
and I would tell them there are
few better than I at standing in lines,
and they would sheepishly smile
and thank me for my patience
and that is why, again this week,
I ask that you stamp my book
so I can stand in the other line
and wait patiently for my check
which I can take to the small bodega
waiting calmly in line to cash it
to buy what canned goods are on sale.
Then I will take my cans
and carefully line them up
on the kitchen counter, and marvel
at how patiently they stand in the queue.
First published in Pearl, Vol. 31, 2002
There are moments,
he said, when everything
is suddenly clear,
and obvious to me.
But they slip away
and their shadows
She said, if you’d stop
looking for the fog,
the clarity might linger.
Besides, she adds
how do you know
what is clear
and what is not.
Among certain species of spider
at the moment of arachnidal orgasm
the female devours her mate
for the protection of the young.
The lion stalks his prey, then leaps
tearing flesh to sate a hunger
born of the endless sun
beating down on the grassy plain.
It is left to man to hunt
for trophy, for proof of dominion
over all else, as promised
by a self-created God.
First published in Albatross, Vol. 13, 2001
It’s 12 degrees
the night air
my teeth chatter.
Standing in the lot
fetching my cell phone
from the glove box
my breath congeals
around my face
I look up
at the moon
on my forehead.
by a cirrus veil,
but her eyes
her lips soft
in a smile
I tell her
of my love
and she whispers
in the voice
as I curl
next to your picture
Stuck in traffic yet again
my mind wanders, unimpinged
by the need to pay careful attention
to the car on front also frozen in place.
I am back in school listening carefully
as the teacher explains the problem:
“You are at point B and I am at point A.
The points are 100 miles apart and we
each leave for the other point
at exactly the same time, 10:00 A.M., you
driving at a constant 40 mile per hour,
I at a constant 30 miles per hour.
At exactly what time will we
be able to wave to one another?”
The car in front begins to move,
ending my revery, so I cannot
tell the teacher that we’ll never
wave to each other because
I am far too young to drive.