Monday, July 9, 2007

In Photographs

In Photographs

We stand with backs straight,
our arms dead by our sides,
faces forward, eyes forward,
still as candles in a row.

Ten or fifteen years from
now, you will not be able
to tell that Fifth Aunt
is not on talking terms
with First Uncle; you will
not be able to tell how
First Aunt is in the kitchen
playing up a stormy symphony
with pots and pans, because
without invitation or permission,
her son brought home a new
girlfriend who is
blue eyes with
light straw brown
to an “all family” affair;

You will not be able to tell
from this photograph that
there is a fuss over who
should sit next to Great
Grandfather, a place
reserved for favorites
of which he had none;
in this photograph,
everyone is in here
because this is family.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Anything below a dollar

Anything below a dollar

A fifty-cent coin lies
in a shallow drain
dipped in spit, mud
and cigarette butts;

a ten-cent coin fallen
between a water pipe
and wall grows mossy
blue and green and dull;

a five-cent coin sinks
to the bottom of a
toilet bowl where flushes
will never flush it away;

those who lost them say
it’s no big deal, not worth
the trouble of rescuing
from the disgusting places
of filth, disease,

It’s far more common to see:
one-cent copper colored coins
lying on a clean street,
trampled on unnoticed;

even if they have been noticed,
at the instant of recognition
for how little they represent,
they are walked over,
passed over, not worth
any kind of trouble at all.

Friday, June 8, 2007



Unfinished lines
tired old topics

fractured facts
and skewed views

we stare

at our food,
to think of

anything else
to share
other than

as vicious as
the curry is spicy.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Old Teacher

The Old Teacher

She smelled of sour plums and pressed flowers;
sweat beads form like dew on her forehead;
with a white laced hanky, she would wipe them
off every time before they start to roll;
she walked along the rows of seated children,
her eyes scanning the horizon of the mischievous
heads bowing over their opened texts as they read.

Twenty years later, she’s sitting in a train;
her black hair is now a tangle of gray curls;
it’s still the same eyes, it’s still the same
pit bull jaws, still the same rosewater
perfume; one wonders if her knobby hands
are still dangerous with a wooden ruler.

Moving In

Moving In

Apple-green tiles and
vanilla cream walls;
a coat of white wash
was all we could afford;

There’s a wrinkled brown hide
(what he calls a “sofa”)
and a white marble slab
(“coffee table”)
on rust-eaten legs
in the living room;

there’s a teakwood carcass
(“dining table”)
painted grizzly brown
and polished to shine
blocking half the way
to the master bedroom.

And the matching chairs?
Don’t ask.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

No. 5 Cairnhill Road

No. 5 Cairnhill Road

It’s not even their house, it’s just
“temporary”; Father calls it home;
Mother disagrees by not nodding;
Child just wants to take her toys
out of the box and play house.

When a cloud passes in front of
the sun and there’s a smell of a wet
storm in the breeze; when all is dim
in shadow for a while, Child pauses,
suddenly realizes: she’s all by herself

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ask your father

Ask your father:

when he is coming home,

if he is coming home,
for dinner.

Go on.

Ask your father for me, before he slips right out the door --
"Going out for a while" like he always does near the end
of the month when my market purse is nearly empty
and the freezer stores more air than meat.

Ask your father if he'll be back for dinner tonight --
I'm sick of his dead eyes answering for him,
of getting the same lazy responses every time:
the maybe's and maybe not's, and the I-don't-know's.

So, what did he say?

He won't be back till after dinner?
He'll be late and don't wait up?

That bastard,

I've already defrosted the chicken.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Hive mentality

We are a hive; we live
in tall crowded towers
with many other
worker bees;
our queen is necessity.
We move in swarms
every morning to work,
every evening to shops
for supplies, then home
to rest, recharge
for the labors to come.
We do not question
life: we slave
for the good of the hive.