Monday, May 19, 2014


The Butler Model of Tourism

I come back here year after year my
black valise with a busted zipper
spring-shot lobby divans drained of color

to press crisp bills into Monte’s hand
come up for air from the tunnel of
his thread bare uniform then ease

myself down on a sagging mattress
to wait for the clatter of ancient bones
his creaking cart and scuffling feet to

recede into absolute silence down
the dimly lit hall broken only by a spate
of conversation between the couple

I can just make out in the water
stained fresco above my bed
the two of them lost in a heated row

as if I can’t hear their bald appraisals
shockingly frank in this flocked walled room
with musty corners and milky windows

disagreeing only on the degree of my
progression through the dismal stages of
“The Butler Model of Tourism”

the man making a half-hearted case for
Rejuvenation, the woman straddling the 
thin line between Stagnation and Decline.

Friday, May 16, 2014

On the scent


Pepé Le Pew was a helpless fool whenever he caught
wind of the ribbonous scent of parfum that trailed her
through the pitching streets of Montmartre, surely the most
hapless feline this side of the Champs Elysées, always

slinking under freshly painted ladders not to mention habitual
dousing with some mademoiselle or another’s eau de cologne.

Reeled in on smoky tendrils, hooked through the wings of the nose, years
melt away with memories of baking bread or stalls on rainy mornings or
dissipating cordite.  Only yesterday the heady aroma of Old Spice
mixed with gasoline made me pause to listen for your tuneless humming. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Matisse, reworked

I Posed For Matisse

He uncoils me like a skein of yarn
Paying out behind beach glass lenses
That scour the remains of the day
For watery sifted light

Leads his hand along like a piper
Through Hamlin’s twisted streets
Spavined fingers confounded by buttons
Hale and nimble once again, fat

Bolt of graphite balanced loosely
Swanning about an empty
Dance floor to strains of a waltz
Played in some distant place

While my skin pools in goose flesh, my
Bobbin spun free, hip, breasts, neck
Described in a dearth of line, God struck mute
As I slip demurely behind the screen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lawn Care rewrite

Lawn Care

Saturday nights our former neighbor
Shed his skin in the driveway
Stood astride the soft shoe rasp
Four corners will make puckered
At the straining gathers.

Knocked back on his heels
In a wide open stance
Bubbled in ease
On a pinpoint of coordinates
Planet curving away to the poles
He’d clock the woozy stitching
Of lazy off-speed pitches
In the latter innings of a lopsided
late season game.

The days last rays riling beads
Cascading from the nozzle of the hose
Veining a tumbler of vodka and ice
Scott’s Weed and Feed in a Folgers can
Plunked down on the filthy bandage of concrete
He practiced lawn care
Bound by an oath to do no harm.

Words I still recite at dusk
Slippers whispering on the drive
Tugging at my blue terry bathrobe
White stalks of my legs stark
Against the deep green of the front lawn.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Progress is key


Why, you ask, am I down on my knees
A man my age, eye pressed to this door
Cold brass knob soothing my fevered brow

Striking a pose as contrived as a Rockwell
Cover for The Saturday Evening Post
Defunct, both of them, going on forty years now

Vanished as clean as the skeleton key
That fit this keyhole like a glove in 1923, back
When they still wore gloves in the evening

Satiny white fingers closed around a bulbous
Nose, the narrow face, patrician mouth
Frozen in a puritan pucker of disapproval

A car, maybe a Hupmobile, idling
In the drive, implacable behind
Pince nez lenses and cold chrome smile.

Help me to my feet, get me to my chair, fix me
A muddled Old Fashioned and I’ll tell you
What I read in the paper, the print version

Last flickers of life leaching away through my fingers. 
Keyless they say in the next ten years,
Nothing to jingle in my pocket when

I’m ready to leave or fumble on the porch
On a moonless night, left to squint through a slot
At the blue blur of a receding world.