A MINDS VIEW
You stare intently
into these dark eyes
your mind set and heart willing
on breaking this
cold, dark exterior
with the hope that
"the eyes are the window to the soul" and if you peer into these
large, solid, empty beings
you'll catch a glimpse of my inner child
reminiscent of happy memories
erased by the cold miserable experiences of a young girl
not ready for this immeasurable, merciless world
she was raised by the word "vindictive."
She is me, already slightly discerning of your intentions
but only I see you looking in on me as a
viewer, a reader of untold stories
A TOAST TO DEATH
All are welcome to come in, have a few drinks
I keep a stool open for Eugene, the man who stinks
and recoils at the far right end of the bar
where he speaks to me of life during the second World War…
How his gold-filled teeth were ripped from his mouth
and how he considers himself lucky to have traveled South
where at least the factories paid
despite the chemicals making his chest feel weighed.
This weight only lightened by the American smoking stick
which he smoked until he realized the feeling was a trick
as he watches his best friend die of a blackened lung.
Now, only words of disgust for tobacco hang on Eugene’s tongue,
words he tosses across the bar to the smokers:
a mediocre lawyer, medic, two insurance brokers,
who only see poor Eugene as the man who stinks,
and they sit there, sip their drinks
as they mumble under their breath
ignoring their own fear
All are welcome to come in, have a few drinks
but not everyone is welcomed with smiles and winks.
I used to avoid the stool of the military man
who spoke of the war in Iraq more often than any man can.
He used to boast about his strength, pride in the people he killed
whose death excused his passion for a lump of land he knew little about
But he valued his life and honor without any doubt.
Until one day, he came in with his sweater hood up
He stayed silent. Hunched, weak, strangely less violent…
With a sigh he asked if he can borrow a dollar for the jukebox
He put on a song and ordered a Jameson on the rocks
as he sat there and cried
over his best friend who died
and told me how the song played in his friend’s car,
how he didn’t think he’d find himself in a bar
talking about death
one short week later
in front of a bartender and two waiters
He kept looking at his watch, saying how time made him nervous
and now he never speaks proudly of his military service…
But he’ll still come in for a whiskey and beer
ignoring his fear
All are welcome to come in, have a few drinks
except for the underage kid who worked in the kitchen.
Only 18, young, blonde, and standing too-thin
He used to sneak up to the bar after his shift
and he’d ask for a coke, no ice
always with a smile, always real’ nice.
When he lost the job, he’d still come in for a coke,
completely broke, asking the men at the bar to bum a smoke.
He made me take a break one night, and told me all that haunts him:
how he lives alone, he was abused, abandoned,
all the details real’ grim.
He spoke of his master plan to commit suicide
with intent to fill his enemies’ guts with guilt
and how he’d already written the letter to describe how he went.
He believed his death could change the world’s eyes
but how many would even know if he dies?
I gave it to him straight --
“Matthew, don’t waste your time
over some resolvable strife”
He didn’t say much, and left with shakes in his hands
and I never did see him again.
If he killed himself, I wouldn’t know when…or how…
and that he thought it was a good enough reason
and now what can I do but hope for the best?
That he’ll show up for a cook soon, perhaps, and I can rest
ignoring my own fear
There was a time I had lies in my looks
hid love in my eyes
scared, stuck in a repeated song
caring too much, too long
of who I shouldn’t be
Now, I’ve got dirt on my boots
bleach on my skirt
I’m gone, I’m here
don’t dwell, never fear
what the wandering eyes might see
I’ve sewed life in my skin
and sweat strife through the seams
I’m starving, I’m full
on a life that’s not dull
when you move hastily
I’ve got south on my feet
and sun in my mouth
I’m blushed, I’m stained
I’m flushed, but gained
a little fire in me
and it took me a year,
but I think the warmth looks good on me.
The only Argument I won’t win
Describe me as perfect,
I’ll tell you I am as unattainable, nonexistent…
Describe me as beautiful,
I’ll tell you I am unreal as that silly ideal…
Describe me as a star,
I’ll tell you I’m as unreachable, light-years distant…
Describe me as different,
I’ll tell you we’re one in the same, word-searching…
Describe me as yours,
I’ll tell you nothing…
I won’t say a word.
COG IN THE MACHINE
Do your work
Try not to stand out
Keep your eyes at your work
Keep your thoughts in your head
Mind your tongue
Know your place
You are not here to imagine
You are here to work
You are not here to make art
You are here to drive your machine
A cog that does not fit is no good
So shuffle along
And do your work
You get paid
Be glad that you can work
You have money
It keeps you alive
So be grateful
Now get back to work
On Easter morning all across the country
the peasants are scrambling
eggs thinned out with water to make them go farther.
They tell me we don’t have “peasants” anymore
yet there are families all around me
frying hashbrowns in store brand margarine
cheap and easy–topped with ketchup.
If Jesus resurrected this particular Sunday,
he might see my neighbor tinkering with his ‘85 Chevy
the one he calls “vintage” not old.
His wife wants a silver Chrysler Sebring convertible
and dreams of driving to the coast
top down, hair wrapped in a silk scarf,
while wearing much too much lipstick.
She laughs at the thought
and goes back to her chores.
He pauses and recalls an old Mexican folktale that says
every time the lightning flashes,
God takes our picture.
But rather than a glamour shot,
he sees his brother’s kid
who dropped out of school.
The only work he can get
is being shot at–but at least he has healthcare.
They try to make due, but can’t understand how
the poor get poorer
and the new Chrysler is even farther away.
She plans to be an innkeeper in the Italian countryside
or on the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York.
A small inn where she will serve breakfasts of fresh bread and Irish butter
on eclectic dishes and the coffee is poured out of French press pots into cups stirred with gold and silver teaspoons in a sunny dining room that seats no more than twelve.
She will of course live behind the main building
in a restored carriage house with whitewashed walls.
Her windows will be home to flower boxes that hold pansies,
marigolds, basil, and thyme because they are hearty and fragrant.
On her walls she’ll hang a collection of copper pots and pans
so she can simultaneously admire and revere them for the work that they do.
She plans to buy the home next door–if there is one–
or build a larger dining room in the main house where
she will serve bistro style dinners to her new friends
who have checked in for the weekend.
There, they will tell stories from unshared childhoods
and divulge dreams never before put into words
because the mismatched china and the gold and silver teaspoons put everyone at ease.
The moon is rising above Manhattan
Translucent as a paper sickle
The wind shakes dust from the stones, whispers its spell upon the stones
With multi-patterned voices, in a long forgotten tongue
The shadow of evening rises from the sea,
Enfolding the tiles of Grand Central Station
Like a Byzantine mosaic
Or a Caliph’s mausoleum, with minarets and domes
The great clock-face ticks, standing at the platform
An automated voice announces arrivals and departures
For people who are not there, for trains which will never come
In Central Park, the deer lift their heads
As rain strikes the water, dark water flowing under the gate
Between the towering cedars,
Through the dry grass of Autumn.
Dead leaves skitter across the pavement,
Marionettes on invisible strings.
By the bedroom window overlooking the park, the curtains stir softly
Like a dreamer reluctant to awaken
I feel you reaching for my hand
“I can’t remember, please whisper my name and tell me the season
While the stars flicker, like a Morse code S.O.S or the windows of a train
Racing by fast, too fast for the human eye as quick and elusive as time
Like water cupped in your hand
It cannot be stopped from flowing
It always falls to the ground
I didn’t mean to let you go
I will be waiting for you in the garden, all the seasons round
Please look for me again, whenever morning comes
The sun begins to fall behind the lush green hill,
While there upon the sill
Sits the wayfarer so very still.
His eyes wander off to the golden ocean of the sky,
While the puffs of clouds gather to say goodbye.
They soon transform into great mountains in the distance
Illuminated by a celestial glow, only fit for Mount Olympus.
As the last rays of tender warmth evanesce into the great fields of gold,
The moon begins to rise and a new adventure unfolds.
The wayfarer watches the awakening of the crystals in the sky
That kiss the earth with a smiling twinkle in their eye.
Their mischievous grins sprinkle their glittering temptation
Upon a darkened earth eager for illumination.
And as the wayfarer drifts far into the deep wisdom of the moon
The Siren stars serenade him with their impish croon.
And suddenly his arms are opened wide,
Ready to fly to the star sprinkled galaxy of the night sky.
But then the moon begins to fall and the sun begins to rise
And the weak mortal temptations then do die.
For when the light fades and darkness comes
Only then is man the slave of weakness who marches to the mortal drum.
But when the darkness fades and the light comes
Man finds himself once again in the rising of the sun.