Archive: 2006.1

Writing About A Red-Haired GirlMarketplaceChagall’s “Birthday”Bag Of TeethHostage SituationStraight And To The LeftMiss September, 1973The Artful Dodge

Writing About A Red-Haired Girl

Hardly ever standing still,
Already two steps away from
Relative fame, she's
Mastering the art
Of pinning words to the wall,
Not quite knowing
Yet what to pack
Before becoming
Utah's newest resident,
Teaching tomorrow's geniuses
Today, with only
One brief stop in
New Hampshire in between.



Neither wind nor rain nor sleet
nor a series of well-timed bombs
will stop the ringing of cash
registers, the exchange of
currency, the tracking of every
last cent.
               No tidal wave, no
exploding planes, no planet
swallowing a city whole can
ever compete with the sexiness
of a spreadsheet or a perfectly
ascending chart.
                           Not apocalyptical
fires or weeping skies, not
plagues or anything even remotely
Biblical will ever move us with
the urgency of our money lust
because business, said the Once-ler
                               said the banker
                               says every MBA degree,
is the business of business and
anything else is merely misfortune.


Chagall’s “Birthday”

I know that man in the painting
know exactly how he feels
It’s the way I feel whenever her lips
touch mine
the way every man should feel
when he kisses his wife, so
weightless and free
closed-eyed and serene,
able to defy the laws of physics
or any laws at all, for that matter.

Yes, I know that man in the painting,
know the electric of his nerves,
the steady rise of his pulse and
about the tinder that exists in
the fraction between them,
ignition immanent,
I know so well how he’d float
away with her through that window
if only gravity would allow.


Bag Of Teeth

I have a bag of teeth
(mostly white, one silver)
in my top dresser drawer,
the trade off for all of
those dollar bills slipped
beneath his pillow.

I don’t know what to do
with these teeth – make a
necklace, perform a ritual,
grind them into powder and
sprinkle them in the lake?
Maybe they’ll just stay
in the drawer with the
broken watches and unused

It’s an odd thing, though,
this bag of teeth, belonging
to a mouth that works a lot
like mine, connected to a
brain that runs like mine
ninety percent of the time
 - it’s in that other ten
percent where all of the
landmines live, just waiting
for a trigger.  It’s in that
ten percent where the
words start to bite and
I realize how few dollar
bills I have left to go.


Hostage Situation

Live microphone
expectant eyes.

Slightly dry mouth
a small case of nerves.

You have to approach it,
a friend once told me,
like a hostage situation,
like they have no choice
since you’re the amplified one.

So, here we sit, my roomful
of hostages and me, staring
each other down, waiting for
the sound of the first words
to drop.

Let the negotiations begin.


Straight And To The Left

Straight and to the left,
again and again, looped,
shocks me still,
surprises me still that he
survived his moment in
Tiananmen Square, he that
has no name, he that could
be my best friend for all
you know with half a case
to prove it, he that did
what we all like to think
we’d do under the circumstances,
he that cannot claim his own
fame because it’s become
public domain, like a hymn
or a myth, he that continues
to make me wince with
his endless audacity to
keep moving
straight and to the left.


Miss September, 1973

Somewhere out there is
Miss September, 1973.
She might be in suburban Detroit
right now, buying curtains for her
sewing room or running a soup
kitchen in a rough part of Brooklyn.
She might be nursing the sick in
Lebanon, running guns for the
Taliban or performing emergency
surgery in Berlin with a steak
knife and salad tongs.  She could
be a concert pianist in Vienna,
a mercenary in the Congo or
a vendor on the outskirts of Rome.
She might be all of these things
or none of them but thirty-odd
years ago, she wandered out into
a clearing with a photographer
and framed herself for the camera,
made it seem so ordinary to lean
naked against a tree to inspect her
breasts or trace the fringes of her
womanly patch.  She is out there
somewhere and if you ask her politely,
she might just show you the scars
from the centerfold staples that
still dot her belly.


The Artful Dodge

Overpass crossing, taken by foot,
buildings loom, traffic beneath,
the time and temperature glowing
in green lights.  Strewn along the
way are dirty shirts and torn underwear,
dog droppings and shattered bottles,
an obstacle course of filth and
           It’s all there in the skyline,
sunlit and warming, commerce and
culture, monuments of magnitude,
the dazzle waiting to make itself
known, a revelation in every
angle, a story for every single
          But it’s the travel that’s
the trick, though, the getting
from here to there, the deliberate
step and the artful dodge because
the path is the same as it ever
was – opportunity ahead, shit
and broken glass below.