Category: Poetry

And One Hail Mary

when i take my mother-in-law to the cemetery
i remember to bring along a small handful of gifts

a guitar pick to leave behind for Uncle Rocco - 
those are special for him to come by

he can play his mandolin and the others can dance
oh man - the bounce of his younger year
spry arpeggios - now an angel's flutter
about ears, naught to do but butter the air

Uncle Rocco enjoyed a smoke and a glass of red wine when he played,
he wore a gray wool vest with a white shirt, sleeves rolled up,
spectacles at the bridge of his nose, sight-reading the lead-sheet off the stand

Uncle Rocco's playing invited people to sing, 
although he never sang himself,
he left the space to chime in

I once left him a Marlboro Light and a fresh book of matches

for my mom i bring dark chocolate nonpareils,
cherry cordials, and a Whitman sampler of assorted
delights, how excited she is to push past the fancy paper and
the sponge-board to the hidden candy underneath

she also likes Irish creams

i bring my dad the racing form, especially on sunny dry days
when the track is fast and chalk horses fly past the wire with profitable regularity

a beer and a dog at the paddock-concession for old-times sake

and my Grandfather loves his TV Guide, the gateway to viewing pleasure,
a grid of events aligned to time and channel coordinates, 
a study in multiple dimensions

cc: Chagall 2021


a sunray makes a rainbow
in a tear at the tip of a lash

until it falls

the rainbow descends
prismic in midair

for a moment

once on the ground
it's gone

but leaves
colorful stains

cc: Chagall 2021

Summer Flash

a turquoise porpoise attached to a jade-colored rope
looped through a rectangular placard - a replica of a wave - 
that was her bookmark

in summer wedged between pages

pulled taut the porpoise would ride the top ream there at the binding,
the thick thread (did i say rope?) hidden in the vee of the long fold

amid the tiniest kernels of sand, warmed beach sand
scented of summer oils

and whatever was on the sheets, and the soaps,
and the candles

the sound in the air

cc: Chagall 2021

Sort of Like Clark Kent

I find it very strange
that wherever starlight is
nearby you will find hope
and sadness both

and these always find
their way into eyes
make people howl 
and coo

no nighttime-silhouettes
without starlight

I saw love shoot across the sky once
in pursuit of a single beam of star,
mistaking it for full starlight,
the forest for the tree

cc: Chagall 2021

A Little Somethin’-Somethin’

In the alley, she whispered,
what do you have, I said

Your Honor, I was sitting on a beach
minding my own business
indulging in fine '19

Years from now, New Year's Eve, the ball is dropping,
the island breeze so magical

Your Honor 
and I...deep in 2019

cc: Chagall 2021

Return to Sender

I retrace the lines of your handwritten letters
and imagine you once sitting there

I see what you saw as the ink flows cursively
from your heart, to your head, to your hand, to the paper,
now yellow and cracked where your fingers run the length
of the folded seams; it seems only yesterday or a lifetime ago

a small water stain outside the margin, 
perhaps a drip from a teacup that day
that missed your lips and fell, to be absorbed

or maybe a tear

I wish I'd saved the envelope
that held the missive close in hand,
the flap and stamp that touched your tongue,
a return address where no one lives today

at least no one I know

cc: Chagall 2021

Layers of Foam

Her body is a blackout curtain
hiding the light within

All the glimmer of stars it contains,
hidden from hovering crafts in the air

Even after the sirens cease,
it stays drawn

cc: Chagall 2021


When the net goes down
there will be no net 

no way to inform us
(yo-ho) why the net's down


when the tower goes
there will be no sound

no outreach

no waves in the air
to express goodbye

a hum,
an invisible pulse

no virtual breath
any longer

cc: Chagall 2021


on the scale of it all
we are nearer the end
of the smallest of things

cc: Chagall 2021

Dear Charlie McCarthy…

Behind a mask,
anyone can be
a ventriloquist

cc: Chagall 2021
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