Monday, April 10, 2017

All of them laughing

i only write about the dead. 
the dead are all i write about 
because i cannot get over those 
cold still hands. 
i cannot get over those 
lonely sounds.
i cannot, just cannot 
get over them. 
Hours, months pass 
and graves close up;
new things grow on top; 
a hard scab forms that only 
hurts if you move
the wrong way. 
best not stress that scab or else 
it bursts with hard new pain. 
i only write about the dead because 
i cannot get over them, 
i write to rip their fingers from my heart, 
to scrub their dander 
from my skin. 
the suffocating dead; i see their faces, 
all of them laughing. 
all of them content, 
all of them tired of me, 
my endless mourning.

Cry a gray river

All day every day their cries 
invade my house, 
cries so shrill they burst 
from souls of souls from all directions, I hear 
the screamers shot, gassed, 
blasted from homes, 
kicked over borders; 
every day I hear 
the whimperers--sick, hungry; those 
despised for some singularity, 
some disparity at birth and then 
there’s the mourners like me 
whose lovers left them. 
What can we do 
after the postcard to Congress, 
after the march, 
after the all-night benders? 
I can say crying a deep gray river will soothe us, 
somehow a gray river of tears
will hold us steady;
and so will chanting 
and so will rocking, 
and so will praying, 
though no one 
beyond the lamp post 
will give a damn but

we can rest. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017


There were warnings.
The frisky pulse and flow within,
the puzzled looks, the growing thin.
the kinks in lids, the stickiness and all
in every honeycomb of him, up, down, I heard 
the call but was sure of time, thought more of it then
--not so now I’ve seen its fainting pen, 
for really time and time again that glue
was always plenty, really all we knew.
But it runs, runs out on them, on you
and we are locked long in its slur:
shame and blame all go with mourning 
and then the anxious wait 
for yet another warning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Under thumb

For a year I only write about my father. 
Words pour out in streams. 
I am a jug filled with father thoughts 
until one day they stop 
and then every day I write 
about her, more than 365 days, 
all about her. 
It shocks me how many thoughts 
of her fit into a jug. 
How liquid they are until only some 
flow from me and then the very last ones 
dribble onto the page and it is over. 
I have not thought about him since the writings. 
My mind is empty. All was said. Everything, 
every last thought, said. 
I am now devoid of father thoughts, 
as if I had had no father. 
Then the jug fills up again, this time with mother thoughts. 
Every day I write about her. It shocks me.
Every day I tip the jug and from its spout pour
the rivers and rivers of mother thoughts. 
Sometimes it seems I will never run out but I do. 
The day came when the jug felt dry as baked clay. 
My mind on the subject of mother was empty. 
Now I see her name and my mind is blank. 
I am purged and clean; I am a motherless person. 
Then my man died and his death usurped my mind. 
Everything I encounter connects me to his absence. 
I have been under that thumb for so long 
and I'm afraid to stop because he too will be gone. 
Out of mind, out of sight. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I barely move now. Nearly still.
Crawling beneath a shell, 
the past stacked high, scales 
for every memory. 
Inside each, a photo or two. 
Some letters. A wool cap.
With my load, I amble 
along, here and there. 
No sense of where
The question every day, 
where now? 
What is life without a hill to climb? 
There must be a hill to climb.
A widow must step outside 
and look around,
pick up a tool and get to work. 
She must choose a path and clear it, 
then fill it with flagstone. 
No good to stroll about  
like some old tourist 

in Chinatown. 

Gutttural sounds

Oh honey, look at me.
Sitting here and must endure
your failure to be present,
to suffer the deficiency 
of you all by myself,
endure the lack of you 
without you.
Here and now this paucity 
of you must be gone
through so alone.

I can’t remember all we did,
only how you nursed me in the dark.
I have memorized your eyes on me.
I could not love you more 
than I loved myself 
but I loved you enough, 
or so you wrote in every card 
piled here on my lap. 

But just when I need you most, 
you are so absent,

so enormous this gap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


His grooming strikes you 
the way a green golf course in winter 
calls out 
for a long long 

His love of it speaks
no words, 
there’s a shyness in him 
toward the art 
though he entered the world 
its schemes.

Even when the nurse wheels 
him to dinner, 
you must look at the man 
with waves of white hair 
in the knobby whelk sweater, 
those dark eyes open and blank 
as a mounted stag, 
but my oh my, 
what class, what rank.