Feeling Lucky

You take an oiled rag
to the rust spots
where the salt of your sweat
attacked the pistol's sights
and think, slightly richer:
Clint Eastwood never mentioned this.

It's not every day
that you get to watch your father
don his armor.
No one around
has change for a twenty
but there's good news post haste:
Our shadows leave at noon.


A One-Tree Forest

Finally finding
the ancient Greek's grave
archaeologists admit
that Aristotle's teachings
yielded few friends:
2,400 years laid to rest
and not one clay wine jug
propped against his headstone.


Dapper in Denim

She caught me in my cups
crossed two bridges to do it
had her hair up
in classic Hepburn fashion
like she knows I can't resist.
While I smoked outside the taproom
she made small talk
with those characters
she'd only heard in my stories.
Too cowardly to validate her
I'd never shared my Saturdays.
It must have been empowering
and disappointing, as most midnights go.

Seeing my sloppy state
surely brought back vivid images
of the man she'd left after a decade
a house, and no promised offspring.
The next morning
through the ginhaze
I read her final message
not recalling
the ride she gave me home
or that sealed, four-page letter
I'd handed her from my safe
before she left to sleep
in the bed she'd made her own.
It was short and sweet and fitting.

There will be no more dinner at Marcia's.
There will be no more "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
And I, no white-clad Bogart, will never ask Sam
to play that tune again
though I'll always know her smell.



The first time that she hit me
I was launched to outer dreamspace.
Her second volley
a year later
woke me to the sizzle
of crisping skin
and car horns blaring
in the background.

And that's where
I'll remain:
between hope and knowing;
between gain and loss;
in the interim's perdition
that comes with eating apples.

To know a goal exists
and wait for our messiah;
those who say it's foolishness
have never heard her snore.



You swear it's a ghost
or that you're still ginned
when he assaults you
with a hug
that raises your partner's eyebrows
for that first time
on the job.
He always had a stereo
and a grandpa joke
to pass the day.
His number's in your phone
though you never stopped by
like he invited.
It's been seven years
since you've seen him
and you're shocked he's not
collecting his pension.
Electricians can work longer
since their bodies have been spared.

"Did you marry her?"
he asks once the smiles
fade to words.
Your boots turn to concrete.
You'd forgotten that young love
which radiated from
the face of the apprentice
you once were
before the quest commenced.

You have no leaking pipes
for the remainder of that day.
You laugh at the expense of others
as your tribesmen do.
But you never quite recover
from that dose of recollection
that brought you back to innocence
when hope was not your drug.


Pissing in the Wind

He wraps
his tobacco-stained fingers
around a stack of coasters
on the oak
between us
and squeezes
to perfect the tower.

I knock them askew
take a sip of gin.
Pisa for paupers.

That old friend
glances at my grin
over his lager
and nods.


Nominal Fee

Another letter came
from the dying little bald kids.
"Partners in Hope"
it said at the top of every page
of the free notepad included.
"I can relate to that,"
I told them
and their marketing reps
but I only signed a check.

So then I set traps
that killed all the ants in my apartment
but I didn't feel relieved
and I didn't feel alone
and I didn't feel like God--
I only felt guilty
and poured a Pinot noir.


Separated Psyche

A spinster in the making
she'll always be
one of my favorites
silhouette of lithe limbs
careening across her living room
a vodka dangling from her hand
and that heart almost large enough
to fit one more song and dog
had it not been
for her husband.


To Pistol-Whip a Face Like Truth Serum

Even if
it ain't meant to be
you've got
to give a girl
her poem.


Box Fan Blues

I remember the flashing lights
of emergency vehicles
through my kitchen window
but thought it was a drill
like that coworker who joked
about suicide
in a stairwell after coffee break.
He was kidding.
She wasn't.

A local shopkeeper
told me they'd found her body
in the dilapidated building
next to mine
a week after the lock
of the front door had been changed
and a sign was displayed
in the storefront window
announcing its availability.
"Squatting", they call it
but that implies deliberate action.
Some folks just
have no place else to go.

In absentia.
In loveless memory.
In eager anticipation
of another girl
finding her home.