MACHISMO

He was fond of saying
that men need to toughen up,
show more fortitude, take
time for serious male bonding.

He would prattle on about
how so many men were
not true men anymore,
warped by modern society.

I tried my best to avoid him,
to quickly end our encounters and
when I could not, for he would
inevitably complain of loneliness.

Still, I would much rather be
in the kitchen, knives in hand
preparing a fine meal beside
the woman I so deeply love.

CURFEW

We sat in the cramped kitchen
huddled around the stove
the open oven door spreading
a faint warmth that barely
slid through the winter chill.
The bare bulb in the ceiling
strained and flickered
fighting to hold as the generators
were shut down, and darkness
enveloped our small world.
The sky was lit by the flares
and the odor of exploding shells
seeped through the towel
sealed windows covered
in the tattered bedsheets
too thin to afford warmth.
Ibrahim had been gone two weeks
sneaking out of the city
to join his brothers in Gorazde
or Tuzla, or wherever it was
that they were struggling
to save what little was left.
We huddled under the small table
and dreamed of the taste
of fresh bread, or even pork.
In the morning he would run
among the craters in the streets
in search of the convoy
and the handouts, which we
would raven as the sun set
over our war torn hell.

First published in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XXX, No. 1 & 2, 2006

ON THE SHELF

He found the cup by the curb one morning walking to the bus.
He rarely notice things on his walk, thinking always about the
day ahead. But this day he saw it, picked it up and put it in his
messenger bag intending to clean it later, when he got home
after work. He had no idea why he wanted it. It wasn’t
particularly pretty, a drab red with a mark where a decal had
long ago peeled away. He forgot it, until he found it in his bag
several days later, he washed it and placed it on a special shelf
in his kitchen cabinet. The shelf was reserved for things he
found with which he intended to do something, but that
something had not yet happened. He knew something was
missing from the shelf, so he took a selfie, printed it and placed
it on the shelf.

First published in The Birdseed, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2021

COOKBOOK

As a youngster I thought I had
convinced my grandmother
to one day entrust me with
the old family recipes, since
my mother wanted little to do
with the kitchen and less with
anything that came from “there.”

It was a bit of a shock to learn
years later that grandma was
born in London, that her mother
shared my mother’s dislike
for the kitchen and both favored
take out whenever possible.

She did finally share her specialties
which I carefully wrote down
for posterity, only to discover
that someone in the family
was named Betty Crocker.

ASK OF THE SEA

When you ask me of the sea,
living, as I do, fifteen miles
from the nearest ocean, it
is not the sandy beaches
of Hutchinson Island I recall,
nor the crowded sandbox
that is Fort Lauderdale’s beach.

If you ask me of the sea,
it is perched on the horizon,
far in the distance, looking
out of the kitchen window,
or perhaps that of the library,
over the yard, with its
deflated soccer ball,
the fence, and finally
to the Irish Sea, cloud
shrouded at the horizon.

This is what Lloyd George
saw each day, so it is
little wonder eschewed
burial in London or even England
for this hidden estate in his
beloved Ty Newydd in Wales.

First published in Dreich, Issue 10, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)

SEE COWS

The manatees hide just below
the surface sticking up their heads
every few minutes, for a breath
or to thrill the tourists who watch
intently, because it is a thing to do
in this part of Florida in winter.

The restaurants in the harbor
don’t mind, it draws a crowd and takes
pressure off the kitchen, for people
waiting for sea mammals do not
grow impatient like those waiting
for just burgers or an order
of fried clams with a side of fries.

The manatees will never understand
humans, why they queue up in the sun
to eat animals, when the sea
provides a free feast for herbivores
if you are only willing to immerse
yourself in the search for a meal.