Everything Yellow

His bride pulls down their driveway
greeting us after popping the trunk.
"Did he tell you?" she asks
as my friend loads arms with groceries.
I know what's coming next.
I'd been wondering when
their house alone
would not fill the equation.

"How far along?"
"Four months and counting."
"Do you know if...?"
"Not yet."
"Some people save the surprise."
"Some people are foolish."
"How would they buy things?"
"Everything yellow."
I let it soak in.
It seems to make sense.

My neighbor returns
the shopping bags gone
while the mother-to-be
ascends the front steps--
her body a vessel
transformed into glory
that seraphim even
would secretly envy.

"I wanted to wait
for an intimate time,"
he says
with hangdog eyes

The cap'n of cop-outs and quinine
can't hide.
The walk home on sea legs:
as useless as landlines.


Driving in the Breakdown Lane

Tonight it's a Swiss white
with a leather-bound hymnal
of sentences eternal
from a sentenced man
I've never met
but know through
laws of physics
despite his fight with cancer
that ended as it does

while a woman
I could almost love
if only she weren't perfect
says too much about her husband
before the separation
divulging secret stories
and origins of pet names

until I almost heave
and it's not to do with grapes.
Too intimate, those sacred seconds
shared by fledgling thespians.

It's the reason that I don't attend
the weddings, uninvited.
It's not a lack of formal wear
that's wearing on my soles.

Currently reading:
"Within the Limits of Self" by Rick Maertens.

Nature of the Business

The church bell tolls
through bird calls
on a dripping Sunday morning
while a family converges
from three separate states
to bury a woman
again, two years later.

The headstone is new
though the feeling's the same:
None of us here are immortal.
Of all the customs that make no sense
cemeteries seem the most useless.


The Intruder

To find and wed
a Saint out of your league
striving every day
to deserve the same air.

To keep her in a cool, dry place
insulated from your abortions.

To wear a watch you tried to sell
perhaps to prove some unknown point.

It's go-time when her hair goes back.
It's tires on the pavement.
It's the hopeful part of stubborn
and it won't be your demise.


Elective Surgery in a Gin Mill Outmaneuvered

She saw Sailor
on an off day
when his rash was acting up
bags as blatant
as cigarette ads
in vintage skin mags--
a cordoned off coronary
just under the skin.
Undisputed bragging rights
like knives that hold no edge
dug into in his forearms
from the oak that no one noticed.

The problem was the shift:
he stopped producing fiction
and lived the tales he told;
traced a vein in grout
while perusing an illusion
and traced his troubles back
to a list of secret names.

She lost him
when the room filled up.
Saturday tends to do that.
He found a choice
in midnight snack
that most would shy away from.

Like him or loathe him
starve him or clothe him.
If Old Scratch
and his ilk weren't there
someone would have to invent them.



I whip up a batch
and take a premature taste
thinking back to the woman
who wouldn't let me lick it.

Filling the bowl with water
as the brownie pan stares back
I swear not to fall
for a person so concerned
with salmonella again.


Newburgh in June

His buzzcut fit his features
like his tank-top matched his shorts:
both utilitarian, determined by his mother.
A strip of dirt comprised their yard
between the tattered sidewalk
and the porch his father failed to fix
between his cans of lager.

As the tanker truck approached
that land became less interesting.
I was stuck behind them both
and witnessed the whole thing.
The boy was jolted, face lit up
and ran along the roadway
tugging downward with his fist
elbow bent, a perfect corner.
He was begging for that horn
but the truck driver denied him
and the kid's mom called him back
while his father killed a Coors.

The boy in red changed a shade
jogged, then walked, and stopped.
He threw his palm the trucker's way
tasting dust and not the Rockies.


Left Hand Man

But sometimes
when that song you shared
hits your speakers
at the end
of the latest Day from Hell
you've got to turn it up
instead of tuning out
since otherwise the gods win.

We can't let that happen
can we?


Weak Teeth

The shower's running when he shows up half an hour before her specified time. He's greeted by a quiet canine with wet, inquisitive eyes as confused as his intestines. Without a sound he slips from his Levi's and Hanes to join her behind the waterproof curtain. She's surprised for a second time when he reaches for her razor and stoops to his knees. They've never played this way before. He begged her to let it grow with the insistence that one facet of classic feminine beauty had been lost in recent decades. Slowly, between trembling thighs, his steady hand strips her of the small sacrifice she'd made at his request. He rises when he's done--the remnants of a promise catching in the drain--then lands a hard kiss on her forehead while the showerhead pummels their faces to form a memory they'll view differently over pending weeks and years and cocktail conversations.

The look in her eyes is harder to stomach than any absent words would be. Her guilty razor's returned to its perch among the products and soap scum. A step onto tile is easier to make than he'd anticipated with no slips in the script. Denim and jersey stick to his skin since using a towel seems trivial now. While seeing himself out of her apartment for the last time, that familiar form of solace in the quest swells up and swirls around him like a squall of possibilities. Somewhere, he swears stubbornly to himself. Somewhere, regardless of rainbows.

He may be a wretch for feeling it, but he'll miss the dog more than its owner.


A Humbled Hymn

It's the shape of her face
that has me intrigued--
triangular, Irish, feline;
nothing like the one I love.

She's the rain we need
but never want.