Offerings of a Prize-Winning Poet, Aging Jock,and Recovering Lawyer

Poems from NEXT TIME WE SPEAK

CLUELESS MALES OF AMERICA
        Sometimes it's clear you've gone wrong but you 
   continue; sometimes there's a luxurious amount 
   of time before anything bad happens. 
                      - Anonymous
To CMAs the mysteries of relationship 
are shadows in the bottom of a well. 

Membership in CMA requires only tonal 
demonstration of six meanings for the password:  

Huh?!  (Where's the beer?!) 
Huh?! (Don't bother me!) 
Huh?! (No, you're not fat!) 
Huh?! (That's really cool!) 
Huh?! (This movie sucks!) 
Huh?! (Aren't I sexy/ righteous/ sly?) 

CMA recovery starts by memorizing mantras: 

Listen, please-  don't fix. 
Yes, do ask, do tell. 
Stop, look, listen! 
(Also known as "Hear the train?") 
That's my bullshit I smell? 
How do I really feel? 

Next, recoverers must practice turning 
slogans into steps until they've waltzed 
with every shadow from the well.  

Last, there's one thing every CMA 
must learn: Recovery never ends.

         THANKSGIVING BLUES
Proust's Law... is twofold: 
a) What least thing our self-love 
longs for most others instinctively withhold; 
b) Only when time has slain desire 
is his wish granted to a smiling ghost neither 
harmed nor warmed, now, by the fire. -  James Merrill
 
At dawn my wife and I square off 
for another  pre-feast bout, barely 
duck the tractor beam that tries to yank 
our marriage back to yesteryears of rage. 

At noon I halt my car beside the glue-faced 
watchman of a wealth commune, sneer, 
"I'm here to eat my mother-in-law!" 
He says "A guy's gotta do what he's gotta do," 
shakes his head morosely, waves me on. 

At three our family gathers at the table, 
offers thanks to wailing souls: "Oh, holocaust 
of native birds, rounded into compounds, 
slaughtered once a year, we become thee 
as we grind thy flesh inside our grins."  

At ten p.m. I turn loose the mike at Java Joe's, 
nose my car through fog as jazz spills 
from the radio, floats along the hissing streets. 
An ambulance screams by, lurching someone's 
package to a body shop for the apron gang's repair. 

I tiptoe in my front door, pause to watch 
the cat stalk our napping shepherd, unleash 
three left jabs then leap from flailing paws. 

I ease in bed beside my reading bride, recite 
a silent vow not to get beamed back into our 
cargo bay of woes where ballast gets compressed 
until it bursts like shattered stars. 

Oops-  did she hear the shot I just gave her 
in my mind, that squelch I didn't think of 
when we sparred at dawn?  Her fantasized rejoinder 
crashes treelike on a moon where only I can hear.

                HALE-BOPP
I want to be with those who know secret things. 
                                       -- Rilke
The first attempt to document this comet, 
corral its blazing power, was a local shaman. 
She scraped a firebrand across her cave, surprised 
to see its yellow change to black.  She called it 
THROGG, spewed ochre round her hand 
slapped on the wall to log the time as NOW. 

My wife shouts me from our house to see its blazing 
eyebrow rise above the darkness on our hill. 
It thrills her, thumbs a golden stud into her 
cosmic map: "You see, it's come from 
somewhere and it's going somewhere else!" 

"Hale, yes!" I yell so I won't dent her joy, downplay 
her FTD from God.  I strain to see more than a match 
discarded by a nervous smoker as he strides between 
a billion galaxies.  But I keep this vision to myself, 
hug my artist tight, awed by her fey power 
to launch her soul on bits of errant stars.

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