Robert Buck

I listen
to 10,000 Maniacs songs
in-between hours, and
you were constancy

of crystalline accompaniment
and precise guitar notes –
dominating but the raven-haired dervish
growing to womanhood in your view.

All men with bowties
should have a title bestowed on them.
All men with bowties and perverse literary leanings
should have a guitar thrown in their hands.

Hair – Prompt 10

We lived off Prospect.
It was my father’s first house purchase;
he and my mother were young marrieds.

That house seemed gigantic; I was five.

Only through overhearing my mother
tell this do I recall
having my hair dressed
by the neighbors
down the street.

She was looking for me.
Hours earlier, I had gone to play with a friend.
A car came to the front of the house and out I was delivered,
my hair in cornrows.

She told my father, who
moved us to a homogeneous backwater,
where I watched my mother as a touchstone
of how/how not to behave.

If only all of the above could have happened within
the last few years, with Internet, viral video, etc,
I might have
grown up with a mother
who wouldn’t see those braids as a threat.

Arachnid Fatale – Prompt 9

The spider –
visiting from our noisy neighbors –
spindled along our
CDs and DVDs,
not discerning
if she lingered
over a Criterion
or my boyfriend’s copy of The Wolfman.

The sun
filtered through the blinds
and she scurried
behind Kieslowski
lest she
blanche
in the light
like Gloria Desmond
next to
a screen
on which her younger self
seduces her prey.

Now You Lean – Prompt 8

I see you, trios of service industry stars, you’re just waking up now,
and your females hiding in their Jackie-O glasses, and your males, oh, you –
look at you in someone’s grandpa’s sweater. and bespectacled and lean
as Tom Joad…you remember buying Grapes of Wrath from the quarterly(ies)
sale at Urban Outfitters, and even though you found Joad and
the Dust Bowl compelling and relevant, you look at how swarthy
the bums at the City Market are, and want to swat them with the free periodicals.

The line, “Now you lean quarterlies, and swarthy periodicals,” is the first in Frank O’Hara’s To the Film Industry in Crisis.

Prompt 7

Except that stores are still open
and people still shop in them,
nothing looks
like the end of the line.

Aldi’s isn’t the Algonquin,
but it would prove –
to the alien beings waiting
their turn –
that
we were more
than consumers.

As the cashier
mechanically checks
out a dying race,
minutes
fold in
on themselves
and shrivel.

That Todd Rundgren Moment

For days
I woke up with
the same song in my head

I thought it was
Todd Rundgren,
but wasn’t sure.

I searched the snatch of lyric
in Youtube
and was flummoxed
to see the song
was by America,
a band I
didn’t think
I could name a song by
if you tied me to
a stockade.

Now
the song
never
occurs to me.

Nowhere Everywhere – Prompt 5

Cities look like someone else’s party
when you’re older.
They look like your own party
When you’re young.

We didn’t have much money,
the downtown of my childhood,
the one my grandmother and sister
and I would visit by bus
every Saturday,
had become a ghost town.

So, we bussed from the Avenue
to the Plaza.
Everywhere we weren’t wanted
because of our age.

I have friends
who have joined
the resurgance of Historic Northeast.
I have others
who have moved away,
and one, in particular,
who wouldn’t recognize our
old haunts.

We have our own corners.

September Says Hello

You were remembered today, my friend.
If every day by others, only because
they relied on you
or saw you more often.

I was guilty of
not remembering the day,
only knowing it’s coming up
too soon for others,
but I feel I can remember
other things
besides that last walk
from the city market.

I wish you were still here
I wish I had asked how you were feeling
I hope you met Baudelaire
If your landing
was of your design,
you did.

Eternity, almost

We were invited
to what was called
an “unusual meeting of the minds.”

The chatty hired driver caught our eye
in the rearview: letting us in
on a secret.
The conversation was one-sided.

His concern for our pleasure
not extending to getting out of the car,
we readied ourselves
for the rain the sky threatened
as we stood outside.

The driver doffed his hat in the rearview
and scudded the palm-lined blacktop.

We looked at each other
and then at the building.

Were we early?

Up and down the austere runway
were only more trees and
one family restaurant closed
hours ago.

Hopes for coffee dashed,
we walked the length
of the building, trying doors,
peering in windows, disappointed
how the darkening sky and
the unlit interior revealed
so little.

Were we brought to the right place?

Time passed and we considered
calling a cab, but neither of us
could find our phones.
This made me laugh; I was
the prepared one.

At length, the florescent sign
flickered, then turned off.
This sign of activity
hinted at a caretaker,
someone to answer our questions,
arrange another driver.

We began to talk
about the trip we’d had so far.
It looked like the seafaring portion
would never happen.

Then, your voice, out of
the pitch:
“A shame since we’re so close.”

Urban Haiku

Wet streets reflect lights
Car windshields change expression
You dodge urban moats