My readers are as close to me as my left hand as I use my right index finger to write the poem. I know you are here. I see you. I hear you. I touch you.
Just before darkness
Baitfish hit the bay’s topwater.
A lone angler casts her plug
past the outer circles
Of bulls eyes left
By a school of peanut bunker.
She’s almost surprised as she
Feels the power of striper’s strike.
Landing her prize, she removes
The hook and returns the linesider
To its rightful real estate
In the waters that lay
just beyond darkness.
We met at the beach and fell in love.
Unnoticed, sands of time removed the veneer of romance.
Now, beneath a hotel beach umbrella, we sit in our circle of shade, she with her guns and me with my amo.
I am sitting here in crab country waiting for the wind to subside.
The whitecaps on the saline bay waters shout, “Stay home.”
Blue claws smile. I frown.
When I was twelve years old, I enjoyed playing board games like Risk. In Risk, I tried to conquer the world – and so did my friend, Dwayne, who I used to compete against as we sat on the white concrete driveway behind our red brick row homes. Like military drones we hovered over a primary-colored, two-dimensional world that lay beneath us at ground-level. Dwayne and I took over countries one at a time by rolling sets of dice. Every outcome depended on chance. Whoever was lucky enough to roll the higher number conquered territories with make-believe armies. Whoever was unlucky got territories taken over. Continents fell to the victor. The game ended. No one was incinerated. No one was blown up. No one lost a son. No one lost a daughter. No one lost a loved one, like when I was twenty-one and thought I had to go to Viet Nam but didn’t because I got a medical deferment. But Dwayne went to Viet Nam. He fought and died there. He had skin in the game.
Today, alone, seated comfortably in a cushioned chair with a tablet computer on my lap, I watch YouTube videos of Drones playing Risk overseas in the Middle East. But I don’t have fun like I did when I watched the outcome of the dice in my driveway with Dwayne. Too many people have skin in the game, often young dark skin. Drones have no skin.
With a jaw as big as butcher’s cleaver,
with teeth as yellow as linoleum scum,
with a tongue as red as Satin’s cape,
this malignant mongrel removed and swallowed
a hungry-man’s portion of my right calf.
I named him Melanoma.
Autobiography of a Face
As I look at my Bosco eyes,
As I look at my crescent nose,
As I look at my snail-shell ears,
As I look at my piano-key smile,
I realize that I’m as delectable as chocolate,
as magical as the moon,
as patient as a garden mollusk,
and as sanguine as a song.
The Mathematics of Faith
Calculate how long you will live without Googling it. Will you survive until you’re 80? Will you make it past your next doctor’s visit this coming Wednesday? You remember that your sister and mother died when they were younger than you are now. You look forward to meals out with your spouse in expensive seafood restaurants you’ve haven’t been to yet. You have less time for outdoor physical recreation now that you must visit each one of your doctors more often. At night you dream about the jobs you once held during your lifetime and wonder why they are so nightmarish. You are thankful for the opportunities you have to write memoirs and fiction and poetry and read aloud in front of an audience. You are thankful to those who read and respond to and inspire your writing. You are thankful that you are still productive, neither stagnating, nor despairing.
Tell Us Something We Don’t Know
We need more money for education.
We need less money for political campaigning.
We need to think carefully about going to war.
We need to think more carefully about keeping the peace.
We need fewer forms of carbon-based energy sources.
We need more solar and wind and geothermal energy sources.
We need fewer bureaucrats and autocrats.
We need more independent thinkers and voters.
We need improved infrastructure.
We need fewer potholes.
We need committed parents.
We need to look out for one another’s children.
We need timely, affordable health care.
We need more taxes.
We need fewer taxes.
creamy white fungi
grow on lone, leafless branches
of chaos-theory fig trees
in mid-April: spring weather
arrives late this year