Frozen in Those Four-Alarm Feelings



She asked me what it was like 
to live up there where it 
got Winter early and Spring so late. 
I had to sit for a second to remember. 
Even though remembering’s 
almost all we old guys do.
Mostly what I recalled was the heat 
on my face and the chill on my back, 
like when I would chase the sirens 
and lights to those trailer fires, 
where someone’s whole life, 
and few lives themselves, 
would go up in a smoke so stinking 
it clings to my memory harder 
than it clung to my clothes back then.
But the fires weren’t the recollection 
I was thinking of when she asked me.
No, it was heat of your breath on my face 
and the icy chill of the known unknown 
coursing down my back and how they melted 
together and steamed within me ~ and us ~ 
that one night I’ll never forget. 

In the Simplest Sense



If I was to write you a story, 
I don’t think it’d be very happy, 
because happy’s hard to find, 
like the tilde on this keyboard of mine.
If I tried to write you a poem, 
I don’t believe it’d very pretty,
since the pretty words left home
just after Christmas this year.
If I did write you something, though,
it’d be from a heart blind to what 
you believe isn’t pretty — but is so.
That’s because you’ve touched me 
and I’ve felt you in a way senses cannot.
I hope that’d make you feel happy ~ ~ ~
even if I can’t.

Hi, remember me? The usual struggle for words got worse over the past month or so. Then I sensed I wasn’t being myself in what I was trying to say. So I went as basic as I could, letting my blind heart lead me here, where you’re beautiful and I’m just the me you don’t need to see ~ you just need. Simple.

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. 

Snowflake Warm As Summer Rain



Over my many winters, or maybe 
just this long one and only, 
I have stood, sat or lain here 
and watched the snowflakes fall. 
Some I’ve followed from the heavens 
to my feet. Others blown away from me 
by the cold winds that have chilled 
my heart and frozen my soul. 
A very few have deigned to spiral 
and swoop to land upon my lashes, 
catching my eye more than I caught them.

Then there’s you, who I spied one day 
in your earthward glide, toward me and away, 
then blown back by winds I never felt 
but you did. You’re lways defying gravity 
out there in front of me or 
at the corner of the corner of my eye. 
If you ever were to land upon me, 
I know you’d feel as warm there as 
summer rain or perhaps a tear on my cheek. 
One I'll never wipe away.

Warmer Tidings Of the Season



Christmas Day’s just 
over a week away. 
Yet the golf course is open, 
though I don’t dare to play.
It just seems sacrilegious 
to go tee it up, 
when I should be writing carols, 
and, yeah, tipping a wassail cup.
That’s how it’s become, though,
the weather gone screwy,
no morning snow on the greens, 
in fact, they were dewy.
No north winds howling, 
just gusts from the west
blowing decorations sideways, 
like a tipsy party guest.

Meanwhile, the trees out my window 
still have some leaves a’cling,
while that tree in the living room 
stands sparkling with bling.
But even if this weather confuses me 
with what’s the real season,
I still know Christmas is nearing 
and this is the reason.
I can feel my frozen heart warming, 
when that tree sparkles like jewels
and visions from our holidays past 
echo of those Yules
when I’d write you a present, 
though not tied in a bow.
Just wrapped in evergreen affection, signed
Merry Christmas! Love, Joe.

Cutting



Do you still bleed when 
the blade crosses your heart? 
Or have you ceased running, 
like a freshet lying near-lifeless 
waiting for the just right rain 
that might never come?
Cut me again, see how I’ve given up 
pumping the warm, red metaphor,
this life led without the touch
I always thought I needed. 
Yet here I am once more, 
carving for you another arroyo 
like so many I’ve inscribed during 
my days in this desert. 
I once cut the dust with blood 
from a full heart unscarred. 
Now all I’ve left is tears.

Your Feelings of My Feelings



I like the way you hold me 
when I try to speak to you,
how your hands close ‘round 
what my fingers wish to express.
I love how you might understand 
what I have to say, even though 
I’m not making a sound 
anyone but you can hear.
Perhaps that’s because no one 
listens so closely to my
clumsy, earnest efforts to let
you know we’ll be all right.

I blush when I see you looking
at me so attentively the way
you always have, parsing meaning
from between my creases and
lines that speak to you even
when our eyes are closed.
But mostly I love how you've 
always kept a place for me 
within the warm spot few 
have entered and even fewer 
you’ve let stay, even if what you 
hold, hear and see of me are just
your feelings of my feelings.

Brava



Who would hear it, if I was to fall 
now that no one listens anymore? 
Would you feel the air rush past my ears 
as I drop on my way to the cold, hard floor, 
where my last breath will be cruelly knocked 
from my chest with a whoosh or a rasp?
Would my life playing on the screen in your mind 
in nano-second episodes make you gasp? 
Might your attention leave the theater after 
the .002-second scene of the third act 
because even my gun, the one from Act One,  
going off in my head couldn't make you react?
Or perhaps you’d wait stage-left to see 
if my final thought was of you alone,
as in the overture and between the lines 
I’ve written, recited and probably blown.
Until the curtain falls and in the wings I'll wait 
for you to make your final bow and adieu
and join me there because some writer never 
amended his script to ever let me join you.

Hold On, Hold On



I wish I had a life something like yours, 
as sad as you feel you are. 
Yes, it’s dealt you some busted hands,
here and there…even there…a scar.
But at least you’ve lived and loved
and felt, the sense that’s left me just old.
And now I’m seeing that light up ahead,
where the only touch I’ll feel is cold.
Looks like I’ll always be left to wonder
what my life would’ve been like if only…
Wondering doesn’t feel so soft and warm,
wondering like this only feels lonely.
Too late now to hope some day I’ll find 
what I’ve not often felt to feel better.
Your memories hold the warmth you’ve held,
and I pray someday we can hold some together.