TSM 182

Follow my nose, eh?
As if I were a narwhal whose tusk – 
my helix of sharp sorrows –
was a compass pointing 
true north.

Did you say you heard me clicking 
and singing
late into the polar night,
our saga of when mermaids 
rode whales to war?

Or just my silliness again,
getting on in years.
We sit together at the table
and talk about the ice floes.
Will we will remember the way?

Or will I make a wrong turn,
end up at the mall again –
at Sleepy's laid out on the white expanse
of king-sized mattresses,
holding hands in our parkas.

While they call the children 
to come get us,
I wrap a sheet around me –
a body ready to tip 
into the sea.

Returned to the water –
the two of us whale and seal.
I test my tusk if its point is true,
and you
riding the surf in joy.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 181

You there! blackened gum on the sidewalk –
I consecrate you. A dark host 
for a dark celebrant.
And you, man walking your dog at 6AM –
I bless the parables in your teeth, 
clacking to stay awake.

For at this hour I am the Bishop of everything 
but never finally touching,
that doesn’t hang together, connect.

Slip sliding away to infinity
I raise my arm in Taxi benediction –
the Blessing of the Fleet 
a checkered yellow –
I am Pope and cornerman to box shrubs 
in my square priory, my tiny park.

A voice pulls at my elbow
from a window far above:
"Take off that silly paper hat!
What are you doing out there!
Act your age just for once,
and get back in here before it rains!"

My mood darkens, whom/what
will I excommunicate
with a wave of my crosier, my
wind-broken twig?
Congregants pass unrepentant
with their strollers and scooters.

How will I bring the morning
its salvation, like an everything bagel
warm in the bag – when it refuses the wine
of my poems, so cross-eyed with gall.
This crucified dawn. This Sunday that slants
to salvation or damnation.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 180

Eye for an eye, lip for a lip: my love not retribution but desire – just now, just this, our kiss hanging in the air between us like a mirror flashing the sun, flaring SOS to pilots flying low out of LaGuardia in Manhattan's endless, island search party.

Form: "NY Minute."  A NY Minute is like an American Sentence, but doesn't give a crap about syllable counts or anything else. You got a problem with that?

The Sunday Muse

TSM 179

It's no secret, our old place
needed a tonsillectomy –
drafts wheezing down the front stairs,
horsehair plaster poxed and patchy
like a sore throat.

I know you hated it, 
your sleep uneasy for twenty years, 
a bad wire smoldering in your dreams.
Ours the only family
that had to practice fire drills.

The new bracelet for your birthday
has one stone for each squirrel
that died in the walls,
and one for the feral cat
living in the porch roof.

Let this autumn exfoliate 
our memory, shed old tissue for new  –
the leaves drifting down 
like dead skin, like paint peeling
from the siding.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 178

When you let me sleep-in this morning
I dreamt three tornadoes

set down with wood and splinter,
untangled brick from mortar –

whatever color I had imagined
blinded by the Sandman's fury –

a grit and rubble sutra
of a black and white world.

What of it? I was 
three faces of Adam

to the wind, threnody
for the lost brother of the Bible –

I had stood between Cain and Able in the field, 
suffered the first blows as they fell,

for my failure, my exile greater than Cain's –
I was wiped from human memory.

Thus saith the Lord, thus my name
blown and scraped from the page.

If I chamber three bullets in the cyclone, 
not one, and the wind spins them hard,

What game am I playing?

The Sunday Muse

TSM 177

Any final appeals to you gaoler, joker,
Earl of Poughkeepsie?
That my hips and knees,
shoulders and elbows,
their ball and socket truth –

Would become mortar and pestles,
the crucible of age,
turning, turning in a widening gyre –
daily grind
making meal of me

Hangman, oh hangman,
did you have to save 
every fallen strand of hair,
weave life's every twist and turn
to the end of my rope?

Strike me this, Jolly Rodger –
as I drop from the yardarm
through empty air, wind and rigging 
creaking in the wooden blocks –
let my soul unfurl to sail

The Sunday Muse

TSM 176

Brown and mottled, 
hints of green and greasy,
a dog turd on the pavement
shifts, wriggles, takes flight –

Was after all a bird, evolved
to urban perfection, camouflaged, a
gum-wad and trash 
chameleon –

Jersey side, city tow trucks 
bag abandoned cars,
their rusted fins 
like clipped wings –

A windshield's three bullet holes: me, me, I 
check my rattlesnake boots in the mirror,
my Colorado birthright, Eden 
and Genesis with fangs –

As if the whites of my eyes still hide
my mother's pearl-handled revolvers,
dangerous and cordite
as her smile –

What did you ask me last night 
at 3AM? Are our dreams
just a thin paint job
on the rust of my ambition –

You and I who crawled 
back from the sea 
and returned to land,
a reflux of salt tide –

rises in the sullen river,
lapping at the pier.

The Sunday Muse

TSM 175

Shotgun ravens
awaken the forest of your hair,

blasts from air conditioners
wing memory, our flight or fight or dance

response of bees hummed and hemmed
and hawed in this new glass hive,

hexes your scent of ocean 
as curled and waved as the crow flies –

anything but straight,
anything but the fleeing from there to here

with even bubble wrap from our boxes
packing heat,

night falls, collared
in a noose of 100 degrees,

hits the pavement,
pops and wheezes,

and we've yet to plug in the lamps,
the apartment a shadow of wings,

while across the river
cop cars and firetrucks strobe –

a dark angel, you shimmy
in your underwear,

the lights of the city
our disco ball

The Sunday Muse

Hurricane Vows

At the ACME supermarket 
a cyclone hit the tuna fish, water, pasta isles,
like Nantucket shoals that will not be spared.

I find a few bouquets of flowers left in a bin,
choose the least beat-up roses,
and bring them home.

On our wedding day, remember
the hurricane blowing down the arbor
while we said our vows?

It is our anniversary tonight.
We celebrate, as we must,
the maelstrom.

TSM 172

Baudelaire slowly chews
another handful of coffee beans –

Flâneur-in-chief of all Paris,
dandied dregs of the Seine,

he wrote: it wasn't the caffeine
(of course it was always the caffeine)

but the grit, the grounds
the dirt in his mouth

that brought his tongue 
to press into earth

like the taproot 
of a dark flower.

He lines his cockatoo's cage
(all flâneurs keep cockatoos)

with pages from his books
he tore one by one

saying to the young Rimbaud
the bird sang a better song

out its ass 
than its beak,

that all poetry 
was merde

The Sunday Muse