The Last Time I Saw Your Face

The last time I saw your face, 
I couldn’t see it all. 
It wasn’t that you were in profile, 
or lowered your chin in sadness, 
though sadness stalks your eyes 
too often, just waiting there 
for a sag of your shoulder to pounce.
No, the last time I saw your face 
we wore masks for Christmas, 
perhaps to see New the Year, perhaps 
to see one another again at all.

But I know the last time 
I saw your face, your eyes told me 
a smile was crossing its Tropic of Capricorn, 
since I’d come back safe from my own 
Tropic of Cancer. And I held 
your face close, its Equator to mine, 
our cheeks at anchor for a long moment,
because what if this really was to be
the last time I saw your face? 

The Tracks We’ll Leave

The tracks they all leave 
criss-cross and follow, 
stretch and tangle and some 
just up and disappear 
as if their signatories 
ascended in some great leap 
to that better place.
And so with us on our journey 
between unknown and known, 
confused and understood, 
apathy and love, love and 
some other kind of love.
Maybe the tracks form 
at the corners of our eyes, 
where tears can pool or 
joy marks its trail 
so as not to get lost again.
Or perhaps they step 
one into the other’s 
so that it looks like 
we’re walking alone again.
But that would mean one 
following the other and 
wouldn’t it be better if, 
for at least the part before 
one set finally disappears, 
our steps walk side by side?

Wishes Like Castles in the Air

Wishes are the foundation of my life,
so many, like grains of sand on a beach.
The truth of this story cuts like a knife,
they never came true, ever out of reach.

Anything you build on a bed of sand
will always topple in the wind or surf.
Don’t matter if your life's wish-castle’s grand,
it’ll fall as if built on clouds above earth.

So I stopped wishing when you went away,
and my sturdy life became earthbound.
I never figured you’d be back one day,
but now here you are and here’s what I found.

Those wishes like sand made by younger me
didn’t really fit when I got older.
Except this one that's mostly come true, you see --
the wish-castle I built on this boulder.

The Price We Pay for Light Is Shadow

I don’t wish to be dark, since all 
I want from life is to bring you light.
Light to shine like joy upon you and me.
But I know I can’t hand you a ray 
of sunshine, like a celestial flower,
just as you can’t chase away my dark ennui.
And I don’t know if you’d even accept it 
if I offered. Maybe because you know 
what I know about life and light. 
How whenever each has shone upon us, 
neither of them has come cheaply. 
And nothing’s ever come to us without a fight.
So while I don’t want to bring you more darkness, 
we both know shadow’s the price we pay 
for the gift of light from above.
The shadow light casts when something 
or someone stands between us and some 
someday’s bright shining love.
So I will never stand in the way 
of the light you need and deserve. 
Just as I hope you’ll never block mine. 
For that we must stand side by side, 
letting the light have us full, 
and leaving our lives’ shadows behind.

We’re Really Real

Why do we look to horoscopes, 
psychics and dreams, 
coincidences, nature and 
subconscious schemes
to help us understand that which
we think we don’t know?
When within these trees, actually, 
a forest does grow.

So let’s not worry about 
offending the past.
At our age, there’s just too much,
the past is so vast.
And the future? Well, we know
that’s never a sure thing.
If past is prologue, nobody knows 
what tomorrow will bring.

Yeah, I’m scared, too, but see
how short is existence,
how long is regret, and how
strong this resistance
to take it head on, this long
put off conclusion.
Together, we’re real. It’s those
excuses that’re delusion

Visions of Sugar Plums

Somewhere in a Christmas fantasy, 
something like my Life’s sugar plums 
resting all sweet and spicy upon 
a cosmic comfit plate, right next to
the roasted chestnuts I hear about, 
warm and soft as a lover’s kiss.
Or so you tell me. Because this 
is a fantasy, a dream straight out 
of one of those Hallmark Christmas movies, 
only none of us are princes, princesses or
destiny’s darlings fated to leap 
holiday hurdles to couplehood and,
per every fantasy’s script, 
fall into one of those chestnut kisses
in the last thirty seconds before 
the credits roll. The sweet and spicy?

I don’t care.

But we all need dreams, don’t we? 
Otherwise why even have that one day 
of the year when wishes can come true 
and hopes aren’t dashed and danced upon 
by a fantasy fleet of reindeer,
an ill-fit significant other or 
make-believe mean girl. Maybe that’s 
why I keep my list short, written 
in invisible ink between lines 
of fanciful good-boy reveries of 
an exchange of Life’s gifts you can’t buy, 
nor steal and I’ll likely never get to try. 
Like sugar plums. 

I Wish

I suppose it’s only right 
that I so often use a word that, 
if you listen to it slantwise, 
squinching your ears just so, 
sounds like a short burst of warm wind 
masquerading as a fleeting kiss on your cheek. 
But mostly, to me, someone for whom 
the whole auditory world echoes 
scrunched and askew, Wish reminds me 
too much of a sigh. Perhaps that’s
because so many of my wishes end up 
punctuated, if not begun, 
by a hopeless exhalation that starts 
with loosening up my lips from a kiss 
and then an admonition to just shut up.
I wish (see?) that just wasn’t so, 
but (another word I use so much 
I’ve worn a groove down its middle)
that’s wishes for you -- and me and us -- 
lots of misses full of near-kisses 
and things maybe better left unsaid.

Between Gemini and Leo

When they told me, 
I did not think too acutely 
of disease or death.
And that might be the worst 
that’s wrong with me.
But I had others 
to do the worrying for me.
I just listened, 
decided on a course of treatment and 
considered it like having a new job. 
I was a temp radiation patient 
for three months, like 
a holiday hire at Walmart.
Or more like a part-time stripper 
performing daily in the hospital
Oncology Department, dropping my pants 
beneath the sparkly ceiling lights,
watching the green laser light show
trace its crosshairs just above
the hairs below my waist as the 
speakers blared 90s hits and
the girls out there in the dark
encouraged my performance each day.
I barely used that word defining 
why I hid my moneymaker beneath 
a tiny towel and allowed invisible
beams of blind hope to clear out
the unseen intruder two spots 
higher up on the zodiac bill than I.
But that’s show biz, and I’m not 
looking for a callback anyway. 

I was tasked with writing a health poem for Writer’s Digest’s Poem a Day Chapbook Challenge. Let’s say my health has been my job for the past four months. Showing up every day to beat the word I dont say in this piece. Except maybe in the title.

Call It

I don’t think the trees 
care if the leaves they flip 
come up heads or tails.
They just let them fall, 
like coins into an old 
toll booth basket, something
you must do to get from here 
to there, from Summer to Winter.
Sometimes I feel like
one of those leaves, 
flipped from the branch 
closest to the sky,
where I could sometimes
feel as if I was flying, 
only I’m actually tripping my way 
down the oaken stairway, 
ultimately jumping into
the void between Up and Down.
I know the ground's coming,
cold and sad as another broken heart,
but for a moment or two, 
I’m defiant, ignoring gravity 
upon an October breeze, 
enjoying a freedom I’ve only felt
for so short a time before.
It’s not the sky in which I fly, 
but, soon enough, the bare trees 
won’t block my view of that blue.



The Nights Are Such Lonely Walks

Perhaps if I dreamed 
I’d not find all my nights 
such lonely walks from
light to light, like 
street lamps pouring down
without warmth on this corner
through the dark to the next
pool of yellow glow ahead.
Or like Tuesday to Wednesday.
I’ve strolled or rolled
my way through each, always
wishing I could reach out 
to touch that warmth 
light and dark and I denied me, 
wrapped as I might be 
in blankets or shadows.
But if I dreamed, perhaps
I’d dream of you joining me here
at the intersection of
Yesterday and Tomorrow.
Someday some warm Tonight.