Don’t-Ask-Babe

Don't ask Babe

 

I wrote this one as part of the April 2013 Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day challenge. Just another day in the neighborhood…

 

Don’t-Ask Babe

I’d been sitting in the street with my hand up the
left front wheel well of the van like some large
animal veterinarian checking the cervix
of a past-due rhinoceros. Been there for at
least half an hour, effing and blinding about
why Chrysler can’t put the turn signal bulb
in a place accessible to normal sized hands

and I look up and there’s Don’t-Ask Babe
coming down the sidewalk towing his entire
forty-two-inch Craftsman rolling tool chest,
with twenty ball-bearing drawers, black.
(Don’t-Ask Babe, you wonder? His dad was
a huge Yankee fan back in the old country,
and it’s a bit of a touchy subject. So… you know, don’t ask).

I look up and he says, That’s a ’97 isn’t it?
and he starts pulling open drawers like he’s
playing whack-a-mole with a socket set. No, Babe,
I’m good, I say. He wheels around. What?
You think just cause I’m some stupid Mexican
I can’t fix your shiddy van? Then he flashes
his trademark smile and hands me a wrench.

Anyway, he says, I’m from the Dominican.

 

Multiplication

chicken

In honor of tax day, and with a grateful nod to Garrison Keillor and the Writer’s Almanac

 

Multiplication

If The Writer’s Almanac is to be
believed (as if that’s even a question),
Federal Income Tax was passed into
law exactly one hundred years ago.
That would be 1913, when Congress
ratified the 16th Amendment. Back
then, the form was a measly two pages.
You could fill it out in the time it took
to skin a chicken or chop down a tree.

 

Drink Me

Coffee heart

Last night, there it was.  A heart in a coffee cup.  We just looked at it and rubbed our eyes.  For me, coffee and love have always gone together.  In Tanka form…

should you find my heart
floating in your coffee cup
stir the cream gently
and then drink every last drop
until I am part of you

Thirteen folds

Thirteen folds

Not so long ago, down at the theater, we temporarily had to take down a large American flag. The man I was working with treated this job with the utmost care. I found the whole experience strangely moving.  To share with friends over at the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

Thirteen folds

He would not permit that it touch
the ground. The Flag. Methodically,
he gave his orders, calling forth
a kind of reverence in that dusty hall.

Fold lengthwise once, twice, he said,
making sure the stars are facing out.
Then beginning at the far end from
the field of blue, take the striped corner

of the folded edge and fold a triangle
upwards to the open edge. Turn the
triangle inwards parallel to the top edge,
and make another triangle.

Keep folding triangles, carefully,
solemnly, eleven times in all,
until you reach the end and all that
shows is a perfect three-cornered hat,

a pillow of stars on a free blue sky.
We followed every instruction..
It was as if his life depended on it.
Maybe ours did too.

 

While You Wait

Railroad tracks 2Remembering a local business that disappeared in the name of progress.  I can’t show you a picture, because it’s gone.  But here’s the general location, right next to the tracks where it sat before the new underpass went in. Written to share with friends at Poetic Bloomings and the dVerse Poets Pub.

 

While you wait

Before they built the underpass there was
an oil change place by the railroad crossing
on Main Street. Stuck waiting for a train?
their brazen candy-stripe sign inquired,
Have your oil changed while you wait!

and I often did, screwing up my courage
to sample their outrageously strong coffee,
thick as 10W30, hot as the devil’s arse,
while the train rattled slowly past and the
grease monkeys scampered around the bay.

One time I read a book on their table about
sibling rivalry. Another I remember staring
out the dirt-smeared window at the quietly
falling snow. I thought great thoughts there.
I decided straight-up: God loved the railroad.

But in the end not even God could help against
the wrecking ball of progress. Now I don’t wait
for trains any more. I get my oil changed in
a place with a stuffed bass on the wall.
It’s too clean. And the coffee has no soul.

 

The Eleventh Plague

Moses

The Fibonacci poetic form plays with syllables, following the mathematical “Fibonacci Sequence.”  1,1,2,3,5,8, etc.  I enjoy playing with this form, sometimes letting the lines increase and then shrink back down again.  Which is no excuse for what follows…

Dedicated to anyone who has ever read to an empty room and wondered “is it me?”

 

The Eleventh Plague

we
saw
Moses
looking smug
leaving Mount Sinai
with a sheaf of papers, shouting
My people! God has given me this brand new chapbook!
Everyone shuddered: Not again!
His poetry stank
but no one
dared tell
him
so

 

People come and go so quickly here

People come and go

Our town is criss-crossed by rail lines. Visitors who stay here sometimes say they cannot sleep because of the train whistles in the night.  Locals can’t hear the sounds – we’re so used to it. I wrote this one after a busy weekend at the theater working tech crew for The Wizard of Oz.

 

People come and go so quickly here

Nothing seems strange under these skies,
even a thousand tons of steel rolling through the
back yard. Like cancer or good fortune,
the dull grinding is so familiar we do not hear it.

In the old days, housewives would rush outside
on days like this, to pull the laundry
when the wind changed so their
linens wouldn’t turn black.

Oblivious, my grandfather would rush to the station,
bags falling open for his latest trip
while the great iron horse strained
between its traces on the Main St crossing.

Tonight, Colin and his lover are steaming upstairs
while the rest of us are sacked out on the couch,
words slurred and walls swaying in time.
And none of us thinks this strange.

But the trains keep rolling, the soot
turning in the sky like a Kansas storm,
and I know I must leave the warmth
of this hearth, but only after I sleep some more,

lulled by the rocking of the room, the
cares of the day, the wheels and rails,
the song of the night as the eleven-fifty-five
waits on Main Street. And my bags are barely packed.

 

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