Monthly Archives: March 2011


I could not single out the day I knew
That Jamey wasn’t well. The eighties were
Our time of innocence. A teenager
Who didn’t come to school was simply too
Exhausted from a night with someone new,
Unbuttoned hormones raging, and the cure
Was simple as a long bath. We were sure
He would return as students always do.
But he had caught the new “slimming disease”
A strange affliction that was ravaging
The special boys like Jamey. Secretly
I wondered if this kid who liked to tease
Me had, beneath the subtle bantering,
Been dying to declare his love for me.



White bathrobe princess, with your

Hair twisted up in cinnamon buns,
You are so brave, resourceful
And quite short, really –
For though your secret crush
Is frozen in a block of carbonite
And your twin brother has lost a hand
You still have faith in the future
And you can fire a gun.
I know I said you were just another
Holographic trust-fund woo-woo telepathic airhead
But now I’ve seen you in a garbage compactor
I take it all back.

(with a grateful nod to poet Aaron Belz)


I am fascinated by icicles
The way they come and go with the weather
Rather like Canada geese, only slower,
Drop by drop, migrating from roof to ground
Sometimes in the pleasing form of wind-chimes,
Others, in one great sword of Damocles,
Begging the life of those who pass beneath.

My fourth grade teacher had a big blue house
With two stories and a fairy-tale roof
And every winter, when the birds had flown,
The biggest icicle in the whole world
Would form under her eaves, a full eight feet
In length, pointing straight down at the back door.
None of us expected her to survive

But she did, year after year – with a smile.
She embraced that threat and named it: beauty.
And as I think on her now, I wonder
If we all don’t live with what others see
As slow-dripped danger hanging overhead.
Maybe they’re right; then again, maybe not.
My teacher died at last – but not from ice.

The Sheiks of the Castle

(The Caernarvon Castle, Camden Town, c.1984)

They were called
The Radical Sheiks,
Five tall men
In blue jeans
Who took the stage each Friday
Wailing smoky blues

While the crowd
Jostled for their pints
At the bar
And shouted
Half-plastered above the din.
It took half an hour

On the bus
But it was worth it
Just to be
Swallowed up
In that great unholy sea
Of Marlboros and booze,

A good boy
For three hours as drunk
As a lord
One small cork
Carried away on the swell
Of hard times and dreams.

At this time

At this time, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The good news is that in just another hour

We will begin boarding through Gate A-10,
And we would like to take the chance again
To stress that the current heavy shower
At this time, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Is not our fault. It’s quite beyond our ken
Why you blame us. When it’s in our power
We will begin boarding. Through Gate A-10,
You can probably see two policemen
With guns. Now we don’t want you to cower,
At this time, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In fear. But if anything gets broken
By angry passengers, things will turn sour!
We will begin boarding through Gate A-10
When I bloody say so. No more token
Smiles. Only when we hear from the Tower –
At THIS time, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We will begin boarding through Gate A-10.

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