Canada

Driving your white
Mercedes,
top down, in
the misty fog.

Florida must feel
better if you’re
from Montreal.

I got the heater on,
wearing socks
because it’s sixty degrees

We are in
that lost soul
space between
Christmas
and New Year’s
nothing to do
but wait in
the Florida grey.

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Blue Light in a Cup

he’s talking about

blue light in a cup,

how it looks

like a heart,

like a bird,

you might draw

as a kid.

 

Though

still a kid,

he means

little kid.

 

I don’t see no light

blue or heart-shaped

I see I need

some coffee

and rings

go forever.

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Keeping One Foot

in the fire,

flawed translation,

no doubt

but apt,

 

one foot in fire

stirring my charred

stub in

embers and ashes

 

the foot is

my brain.

 

 

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If I Had a Norton

NortonCommando

 

I don’t want a motorcycle

anymore than I want a gun,

but if I wanted a motorcycle

I would want a Norton

A 1969 Norton Commando

Not a ‘67, by ‘69, when risk of fire was reduced, though, as with many British motors,

carburetors were forever in need of a tinkering, often as not, outright replacement.

 

Though I

would never ride it,

one set ought

to keep me.

 

And I would

keep it in a dusty shed

that smelled of gasoline

and straw

and motor oil

in Earle, Arkansas

and in the afternoon

the light

would filter through the slatted door.

 

Maybe I would sit in the dark

and smoke hand rolls

or Pall Mall Reds,

probably not.

 

I don’t want a horse

I have no interest in riding them

But I used to want a mule,

a white one, but now

I realize a black one would do.

 

I wonder if there is

a donkey big enough

to carry me?

 

I like black donkeys

I could keep a donkey in the country in Florida,

It’s only the motorcycle

I would need in the delta.

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How Racist is Poetry?

This is not a poem, it is a complete failure as a poem, but I am trying to say something, and poetry is the only language I understand.

 

I don’t mean some

hip-hop-spoken-word-sistah

slam poetry.

 

But the kind of poetry

who’s fans

probably like

classical music,

ballet,

Monet,

Picasso,

and Verdi

and folksy old

white man poetry.

 

Every word,

a letter at a time,

is it building

and rebuilding patriarchy?

racial superiority?

Am I some sort of code

or coder

or blank paper

or a blank white sheet

over me

 

Is it?

Am I?

 

How much more

should I say? Have I even spoken?

Why does this have so many questions?

How racist is the question?

 

 

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When

You can’t tell people

how easy it is,

how hard it is,

and they quote Hemingway

nobody ever quotes his books,

just his comments:

about bleeding.

 

And because it is easy

and it’s supposed to be hard

when they say wonderful things,

you think it is sympathy.

 

Because even though it is easy

or maybe because it is,

you think it is pointless,

worthless,

that it doesn’t matter,

as they say,

“it’s only words…”

 

The nagging question remains:

If I am this good

How come I’m not famous?

I am NOT famous, right?

How would I know?

If the whole world thought I was great,

would I think it was sympathy?

Does anyone, does everyone care

that much to lie to tell me I am great when I’m not?

If I was famous, wouldn’t I be rich?

and of that I am sure I am not.

 

Am I just one of thousands, maybe millions of old men, who write poetry and people say, “oh, that’s nice.” And then snicker to each other about the silly old man who has spent his life writing down words and thinking he is writing poetry, the fool can’t even spell….

Does it matter? Probably not, but I will be dead soon and I wish I knew, but don’t answer, please don’t answer, if you do, I will think you are feeling sorry for me and I hate pity, unless its self-pity. I like self-pity, its feels like a worn blanket over my bare knees on a cold morning, like the gentle ache of a missing tooth. I do not wish to trade my self-pity for the guilt and doubt of your pity. Thank you

 

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The Ritual of the Bath

(sometimes, in a quest for the “art of the mundane”, one misses the art and is left with the mundane, I hope I have not done so here)

 

I open the shower door

and turn on the water,

then step back while it warms

and remove the fluffy white towel from its hook.

 

I add paste to my toothbrush,

its little motor whirring against my teeth as I reenter the water.

Always in order,

as if I might forget and in fact, I have.

 

I rinse my mouth, in one motion,

set the toothbrush next to the large Suave shampoo

and flip the cap open and the bottle over to squeeze enough and set the bottle back,

thumbing the cap closed as I massage my hair into a froth of soapiness,

all this while facing the shower,

now turn and rinse,

face downturned as the shampoo rolls down my head until the water is clear,

observe the drain, still no hair, thankfully,

now the soap, front to back, top to bottom,

as if I might forget a shoulder or lower back,

with a half squat I soap my thighs front and back then I lift first my left foot,

then right, soapy hands on the soles and calves,

re-soap the fingers for the toes,

interlocking toes and fingers

like mishappened praying hands,

then the razor,

or more the can of lather rubbed thickly on my face,

and the plastic razor,

dabbed gently into my palm still full of cream,

first under my nose downward and then downward around from right ear to left,

then up,

every inch of face and neck at last sloping crossways

to follow the chin line and below,

still sideways on the neck,

and rinse,

and rinse the razor and my hand full of cream,

 

 

water off, out the steamy glass door

to the fluffy towel and the cold bathroom air.

 

When I was young we lived up north,

the bathroom would be warm and muggy,

but this is Florida, so the air is always on,

cold and wet I dry, in the same pattern I washed,

looking in the room-wide mirror at the fat naked man.

I observe he looks the same as the day before

and raise one arm high,

rub Old Spice on the armpits that used to be young

but are no longer, then the other arm.

 

I clean my ears with cotton swabs in a manner

strictly forbidden on the package,

and wonder if others do or do not follow

the directions for safe ear care

and wonder if I am old enough

to need my ear hair trimmed,

then I brush back my still mostly brown,

still mostly full head of hair

and wonder if my wife will tell me

when I get a bald spot,

on with clean dry shirt and underwear,

I wonder through the bedroom and out to the kitchen

to refill my coffee and the bath is over until tomorrow.

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