Friday, February 28, 2014

Sam I am


It’s a habit of mine to pause a beat
to dwell on the egg, the very essence
of ovum, before I crack one, ker-whack,

on the yawning lip of the black skillet,
broken promise of shell a favorite
metaphor of poets, embryonic

and otherwise, pop and sizzle sunrise
of yolk a buttery shorthand for brains
hopelessly scrambled, fated for plating.

East Egg or West Egg?  The courtesy bay
glitters in the moonlight while I huddle
with the rest, slumped in thin tuxedos, eggs

balanced just so on shifting feet, poaching
ourselves advantageous angles, the light
on Daisy’s dock green as Seuss’s vile eggs.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

For all the marbles

Ensign Pulver

shoots Captain Morton in the bottom  
with a ball of foil studded with tacks fired
from a slingshot.   Why no longer matters.
A dictionary makes a cameo as a prop
so Robert Walker Jr. can deliver
the line “I shot him in the bue-tocks.”,
to Walter Matthau, kindling
my lifelong love affair with Daniel Webster. 
Even at eight I could appreciate
a destroyer named the USS Reluctant,
young enough to grow heady
over the word ass-sassin, yet blind
to navy nurses in clingy khaki uniforms.  
The memory of Captain Morton’s appendectomy
at the hands of Ensign Pulver
under frog juice anesthesia
remains with me to this day,
persisting like the handful
of marbles Pulver sews
into the heartless captain. 
Dictionaries bided their time
while I watched Burl Ives
worry his ample belly, puzzling
over the castanet clacking
at the end of the film, words like subversion  
and memento mori shimmering
like corvettes on my horizon. 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014


He Could Play His Guitar

just like ringing a bell, a sound
that carries clean across the decades
to where I laze on a sunny afternoon

in late winter, licks I fend off
half-heartedly, only to give in in
the end.  If I only had a Fender

Telecaster with an old tube amplifier,
K model Lansing speakers crowding
the dog’s bed, I would plug in,

wade into the days final rays
streaming through the window, my axe
lit up like J. Robert Oppenheimer

boiling in the glow of the Trinity test.   
I’m sure the dog would loft a lighter 
to the wind milled power chord

I’d sustain in a kabuki
of feedback, baptizing the pickups
in a Jordan River of looped amplification,

touching off a small fire moments
before smashing everything to kindling.   
My audience demands an encore so I open

my book in the waning light and leave her
wagging for more, “Now I am become Death,
the destroyer of worlds,” echoing in the empty hall. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


The Journal of Cell Death

one imagines, would be unlikely to turn up
draped across a glossy copy of Barns of New England
on someone’s blond wood coffee table in a fussy
fan of recent Architectural Digest’s and Town and Country. 

Rather, it strikes me as a publication given
to lurking about on the metal desk of the warden

or laying naked on a porcelain slab down
at the morgue, the medical examiner poking through
the somber pages at lunch, carelessly smearing
grape jelly on the funereal cover.  The Morbidity and Mortality

Weekly Report will be there to keep it company, just
the two of them talking deep into the night, long, rambling

existential bull sessions that could put the dead to sleep.
I wonder how many of them passed reading Colonial Waterbirds?
A final exhalation, then a peaceful paddle over to the other side.
This beats, hands down, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

whose deceased readership is forever doomed to walk
the earth in search of their souls.  How tempting it would be

to ride the subway behind a copy of the Hoodoo and Conjure
Quarterly, keeping tabs on your fellow commuters through two
perfectly round peep holes.  Probably not as much fun as reading
the latest issue of Fire!! in a crowded movie theater or BOMB

on an overnight flight to Amsterdam.  Next time you visit
your doctor, pass on the well-thumbed Time, skip the sticky

Highlights.  Ask the nurse for Contagion: Journal of Violence,
Mimesis and Culture, but be discreet.  My internist is running
late this morning, but I’m perfectly content to flip through
back issues of Bird Banding and The Florida Buggist. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Salt of the Earth

Salting North Lake Methodist Church

You can add sexton to my resume,
a breezy document uncluttered
by titles like pipe fitter or white water guide.
It makes no mention of stints in private equity,

is unadorned with the bony armature of certification
by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. 
But opportunity came knocking one frozen
Saturday night not long ago.  It lifted me up

gently under the arms, cooed as it plucked
a half empty wine glass from my grasping
fingers and bundled me kicking
into a pair of camouflage Carhartt coveralls. 

F-150 with snow blade, coveralls, canvas gloves,
the five gallon buckets and fifty pound bags of rock salt
are to my brother-in-law as bone chisels,
osteotomes and the Bennett Bone Elevator Retractor

are to a board certified orthopedic surgeon. 
A flood light cast our big baby shadows
into the black line of trees beyond
the silver plated parking lot.  Pitched

sidewalks to the sanctuary and community hall
glistened with a cellophane scrim, a ham
radio crackle the only sound as we listened
to ice surrender beneath our dainty, geisha steps.

I broadcast the last of my salt in the shadow
of the steeple, but don’t assume this reminded
me of the story of Lot’s anguished wife.  On
the contrary, I was picturing myself early

Sunday morning, ushering parishioners safely
into church, clasping the hands of elderly women bent
on the arms of middle-aged sons, men with whom
I exchanged all but imperceptible nods.