La Casa

One year,
I decided to be cool.

It wasn’t easy being badass
Wearing a “Members Only” jacket,
But I thought I managed.
I was wrong, but,

I was hanging out with my buddies at this bar.
My best friend, wearing so much Polo aftershave
It made my skin hurt, tells me
I should go talk to this girl.
It was the 1980’s:
She had on enough hairspray
To hold off an enemy invasion,
Which, it turned out, meant me.

Five of us guys, us losers,
Bouncing quarters into various glasses,
Drinking shots, staggering over to tables of women,
Taking shots, wobbling back to the table
Vaguely aware we might not be appearing
At our best advantage under these lights
Because girls could actually see us.

But somehow

I’m out on the dance floor with this girl
I don’t even remember asking
And her hair is dark like
Rain and all
My other mistakes, but she smiles
Shining under those old disco lights and

The problem with falling in love at
La Casa is that
I had already lost
Twelve dollars in quarters and
Some recent memories and
That stupid jacket and
My sense of proportion, but not
That awful Polo smell

Contemplating all of that,
I realized I had lost track
Of where I was and
My buddies and
The girl with the dark hair and

I was walking home
Looking pretty cool with
Somebody’s jacket over my shoulder,
Politician style


I wasn’t all that cool

table stakes

he, five watches
He, thirty-nine
working a piece of wood
on a lathe

soon to be
part of a table leg –
the smell of friction-burnt
careful distance-keeping,
and wide eyes taking in

this was how
his Father communicated –
working while
keeping up an ongoing monologue
to no one in particular

the power to do
so many things,
to change things in their
very essence into
something permanent;
never understood by
childish eyes and heart

but admired

he was there when
He picked up four pieces
of wood that had fallen
in the forest nearby;
watching them now transformed…

the house is gone

the lathe, who knows where –

his Father dead and incinerated —

but the scent of communication
lives in nostrils not yet dimmed
by time’s corrosive atrophy

what has he learned?

what have i learned?

why has he not made his world
better through
the work of his hands?

Remembering My First Real… Kiss

I was sixteen.
I’d just been dumped
By a girl I wasn’t actually with
And who was using me
To get something else

The beautiful neighbor girl
From across the street
Had tried to tell me
This would happen
But I didn’t listen

I knocked on the neighbor girl’s door
Because I needed a friend who understood
And we talked out in my front yard
As the night grew darker
And the wind blew colder

This neighbor, who was a stunning beauty
[Actually, she still is. You know, Facebook]
As we finished our conversation
Impulsively kissed me.
It was incredible, my first kiss.

Why, I’ll never know.
It certainly never happened again.
I made as regular a practice as I could
After that time
Of kissing girls
And that kiss was one of the top four, all-time
At least, until I met my wife

Occasionally, now,
When beautiful neighbor girl (now woman) and I
Trade pleasantries online
I think about that night

I don’t know why she did it
But when she kissed me
She lifted my spirits
In such a way that
They’ve never really come down again

(“Remembering My First Real… Kiss” – 8-7-2014)

Disconsolate Nights

Alone and wand’ring in the dark,
Out on the beach ’til very late;
With only beer to comfort him
And mem’ries streaming in a wake

The moon hangs low, disconsolate,
The waves are muffled, nearly still;
Like waiting for a morning star
That never comes
And never will

(Back when I would go three days or so between sleeping. – Owen)

The Creative Type

I always wanted to be the creative type,
Although I can’t say why now, looking back —
You think of it as building sort of worlds,
Instead of filling in some void, or lack —

But what is it but random muscle play,
Or telling jokes in giant empty halls,
Recounting stories no one thinks of twice,
Or crying to the ceiling or the walls?

And yet, when I was six years old, I drew,
And added in the colors: green, red, blue –
And though there was no crowd, no audience,
I knew, at least, that that one page

Made sense

Hometown Summer

I grew up atop the hill.
We spent days on the water;
In Florida, you need to be
Half dolphin or half otter.

I learned to water ski at eight,
Part of my education,
But for girls at fourteen, I had
No worth-it preparation.

And though I sunburned every year,
I’d lucky circumstances —
For growing up’s a one-time thing,
There are no

Second chances

24 Indulgences – XXIII

There’s this weird condition some people have
Where they despise anyone who’s not the ‘best’ at something,
Even though they themselves aren’t really good at anything.

I played the piano as a kid, and
I found out that, it turns out,
Absolutely everybody is an expert on music,
Even though few people can actually do it.

So I got lots of advice when
I began to play professionally.

Others would ask if I could play
This or that,
Disappointed or even scornful
If I could not.
Or would not.

I see people like that still:
Experts on sports, politics, business —
You name it.
When I do, I remember why
I turned away from music as a profession:

Which was,
Because I loved music more,
Much more,
Than I loved competition or

Pleasing others