Tuesday, August 27, 2013


My father comes from a breed unkind to sons
so who can blame my brother for saying
Good riddens when I tell him the old man’s dead.
And when I trick him into a graveyard tour
and pull alongside the flat rock under which
the old man sleeps face up and barefoot in his uniform,
who can blame my brother for saying 
I’m not interested.
And when I stand at the grave, who can blame my brother
for staying in the car and when in a loud voice 
I read the words on the plaque about two wars and 
a purple heart, who can blame my brother for standing
at my side and saying, Go sit in the car, please.
And when I lift my face to the clear sky, to redemption,  
I hear a pelting, a cloudburst.
And when I turn my eyes to that flat rock, 
my brother is urinating on it 

and who can blame him?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The voices

The voices arrive one day without warning.
No troubling ideas, just constant chattering. 
But this scares my mother nonetheless.
This is her mind, her spirit, her ego. 
Her instrument for living in this world. 
I want to ask if the voices sound like her, 
if they have a German accent, 
but I don't dare. 
They have no physical being, she says.
Her mind is blank, just noisy, coming 
from another consciousness. 
She talks to the priest about the voices 
and he wisely sends her to a doctor 
and gradually the voices fall silent. 
When my mother tells me this, the voices
are long gone. 
She is calm, unconcerned. 
She says it was just an electrical problem.
She is sitting across from me at Howard Johnson's. 
I have not seen her in two years and she looks and sounds
like one who is able to bear what she must bear, 
able to adjust herself to any situation, 
and sometimes adjust the situation to her, 
as she does with that situation that is me. 
She does not seem vulnerable, nor like someone 
who will ever die.
But I dare not question her too much 
because she does not like to be questioned.
And so, because, I cannot read her mind, 
I study my mother's face politely 
as I would a stranger's on a train. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm sorry

I was too afraid,
didn’t try for Harvard,
didn’t even try to run for mayor. 
It never registered you have
to put yourself in fantastic situations 
to do fantastic things. 
Did Hillary play it safe? 
Would she have chosen State 
over Cal just to save the BART fare? 
And it didn’t help to have a romance 
quandary in the works at all times 
(I was too terrified of being alone). 
My poor little fledgling self, 
my poor little lion, 
why didn’t you find your courage?  
You might have stolen the show.  
Isn’t that what it was all about for you? 
Love, uncommon love? 
Well, I’m sorry. For us old frady-cats
the ordinary stuff will have to do.