The Gift I Wish I’d Held More Carefully



You might consider this the line 
 I’ve been afraid to drop you,
 since it would surely break 
 like the silence between us. 
 So allow me to gently hand it over, 
 like a fragile gift, something 
 I’ve been keeping for a day 
 that likely will never come.
 But time, as we’ve sorely learned, 
 is an equally delicate gift
 that can shatter and be swept away
 into the dustbin of the forgotten
 or swept up into the treasure chest
 of remembrance. I’ve crawled 
 into and out of both in search of
 the times and lines I’ve lost,
 wishing I’d held yours more carefully. 

Hello, Blank Page


Hello, blank page. 
I see you’re the same as yesterday, 
so there’s no need to ask.
Me, I’m pretty much the same, too.
Tired and sad. Worried and a little angry.
The first three are my normal. 
The last one I don’t do so well.

So, page, sorry for heaping 
all those dry words on your head, 
like they were the dead leaves 
taunting me from the yard.
But then, let’s face it, 
you’re taunting me, too, winking 
at me with that curser eye of yours.

Listen, page, as I whisper-click 
this chain of subject-predicate-decorative 
embellishment upon your once-pristine get-up 
of faux white in even phonier black.
Perhaps I should remind you again
of the red and yellow wardrobe the trees 
have doffed onto the bottle green outside. 

Gotta go, page. Nice talk.
Those leaves won’t collect themselves without me, 
just as these words wouldn’t without you.
I can’t say you look any better 
than when we started, but I felt better 
while we communed. Molte grazie! BTW, you look like 
someone I used to know. Later! (I hope.)

Desperately uninspired times call for crazily inspired measures...like 
talking to a blank page and hoping something comes from that one-sided 
conversation. Unfortunately, nothing did, other than two old warriors 
chopping it up for twenty minutes of semi-creative therapy and poetic 
graffiti.

Exit Ahead


Whenever that music starts, 
my vision clouds and my mind projects 
a different image before me. 
I try ignoring it, but my focus 
on the imagined more often than not 
supersedes that which is right in front of me. 
Not so bad when I’m at my leisure, 
but at the wheel of a speeding car 
it can be unfortunate and unwise. 
As if I have a choice when the music
moves from my ears to my eyes.
And when the last strains of the song 
fade into the first of the next, 
I wonder how I got from there to here.
No, not from mile marker 12 to 16.
Too often, I look for the answer 
assisted by a memory as full of skips 
and repeats as an old LP played 
over the highway’s tarstrip heartbeat.
14, 15, 14, 15…
14 years, 15 years…
Exit ahead. Here I am.
Again.
Still.

Listening to the River in the Rain


On those autumn rainy days, 
by the river is where I walked 
with only my thoughts — 
irritants more than companions. 
They would dampen my trek 
more than the gentle spritz 
of lisping meteorological sibilance.
And then those old wondering if-only’s
and pondering damn-it’s would
sidle up to me like panhandlers
who wouldn’t take “Sorry” for an answer.
I never tossed my two cents 
into their jingle-less cups.
I had fewer answers than I had 
ready change for a dollar or five.
No, I tucked my head deeper
between my shoulders and looked
to the Hudson for advice. 
But the river just kept running by,
southbound, constant, always listening,
never saying much more than 
the faintest whisper, never suffering
fools who argued with themselves
in the rain over waters long ago 
crossed beneath the bridge.
That wise old river.

Your Present Tomorrow


I wonder too much about 
someone else’s present, 
who may happen to be part of my past. 
This might have something to do 
with the fact I'll never have 
too bright a future to consider.
The funny part of all this 
remains that the only time 
I’m “present” is when 
I’m chronicling these expeditions 
into a past that’s fictitious at best 
and that other present 
which is not my own.
It’s my sole claim to mindfulness
and I’m only borrowing it.
Well, stealing it. But only
for the hour that I touch
these keys, leaving fingerprints
on your present
…tomorrow.

Broken Promises


I’ve broken so many 
of my promises to you.
In all honesty, I didn’t mean to.
I hope you didn’t think I broke them 
because they have all been lies. 
I’ve never been able 
to keep a lie very well, either. 
You need a good memory 
to be a competent liar. 
And that is a talent I lost 
through years of falling and
breaking myself, like a promise.
In the end, what does it matter 
the promises one makes 
or the one’s one cannot keep?
A promise is but a wish 
not yet fulfilled. 
Kind of like all those you wished 
I’d never made and
all the ones I wished you had.
I’ve learned the unfortunate lesson
life’s too short to make many promises 
and it’s too long to tell many lies.
All either do is let you down.
Just like me.