I must be transparent
you tell me you can see through me
you can read my mind
like a billboard

    I am transparent
    you see others
    in the room
    while looking in my eyes

I must be a ghost
invisibly floating
through the rooms
of your mind

    I am a ghost
    you only think
    you feel my presence
    in your present in your memories

I must have no solidity
I am noise in the hallway
the wind that blows windows open
and candles out

    I am ether
    your apathy
    has stripped me
    of substance

indifference is a cruel death

© 2015

I see an ageing person in front of me
you have gotten old

each year carefully etched
in a perfect pattern

gazing at your face

    age lines
    in the corners of your mouth
    around your eyes
    around my eyes
    age lines
    in the corners of my mouth
    like looking in a mirror
    nearly sixty years

© 2015

Rest Stop Sex


On a long car trip the bladder is in charge of distance.


My bladder started screaming 6 ½ hours after
as I crossed the Texas state line into New Mexico,
the first rest stop was at Anthony NM,
the next rest stop was thirty miles west, near Las Cruces
there was no way I could make it that far
I pulled into the Anthony rest area


I parked, jumped out, ran to the Men’s
there was a line for both urinals, the stall was occupied,  i waited in line
reading the sign that said watch out for snakes,
a two foot space at the bottom of the walls provided fresh air and the occasional snake.
i didn’t see any
my turn , the urinal next to the stall that was making creaking noise
like there was a giant inside.


a short small guy came out of the stall closing the door behind him
a four day beard kind of guy
and went to the sink and began combing long greasy hair,
unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth,
smirky grin gazing back at him from the mirror
dusty cowboy boots dirty finger nails
gingham shirt with silver collar points, string tie and a big ass Texas-sized belt buckle


I was still peeing when another guy came out of that stall
wearing a light blue izod shirt, madras bermudas, thick glasses, crew cut blond hair
joe-college from the 50’s on the east coast near Boston or Rehoboth
looking dazed, numb, out of focus, not plumb
walking like he was holding a memory between his butt cheeks


I passed up hand-washing and headed back to my car,
twenty minutes later I was having a breakfast at Mcdonald’s in Las Cruces
on University ave, on a tiled patio, looking up at the Organ Mountains
a cup of nearly good coffee, and sausage-egg-biscuit no cheese
clean restrooms, and  uninterrupted time to review, rewind, review again
somehow sex at a roadside rest stop,  just before dawn in a crowded men’s room,
floors still wet from earlier hosing-cleaning, seemed gritty


Maybe it was the setting, the characters, the players, the strangers?
meeting for the first time, last time, only time
melding  body parts in that cramped stall with wet floors,
people coming and going, excitement about getting caught but being careful:
no moaning no cries of pleasure no feeling no emotions no unnecessary touching
just penetration, movement, orgasm, zip up, leave the stall
be unobtrusive no hints, just satisfied grins, ear to ear smiles
straighten your clothes get in your car continue driving east or west


only a visceral memory remains
and it begins to  fade with each mile,  
practice makes familiar, learn the rules
the signs, the signals
the gestures and glances
that say,  “I’m available.”


©2015

i dont really know

the meaning

of others’ words

or the true intent

of my agendas

hidden

even from me

but sunglasses mask

narrowing pupils

and wrinkles

around the eyes

that change with content

I cant see you

when you text me

phone me

email me

I risk wrongness

arguing

failure to thrive

loves lost

when I guess

which I mostly must

now

the final detail

after washing the body

and wrapping her in  shroud

made from fresh new clean linen

spun and woven for this deed

placing her in the coffin

face up to see her fate

hands in reverence across her chest

a mask of hammered bronze

placed over her face

so fate wouldn’t recognize her

after the funeral

when the dead are gone

the living walk in the world of shadows

only half alive

barely  moving

thank you for coming

thank you for your prayers

and retreat suddenly

as if shoved by an invisible hand

behind a  mask

to dwell in the past

in the grave

in the sorrow

lonesome are the dead

lonesome are the living

I heard the sound of your voice
and saw your face
and wondered

about the disconnect

I was hypnotized watching
your dis-synchronous movie
my failure to reconcile
the contradictions
wrapped me in cotton wool
seeing you remotely

through a piece of bottle glass

distorted

a reasonable person
would have asked
do you have many masks?

I didn’t

I’ll meet you at the little league park
okay
how about we walk together?
we lived a couple of blocks from each other
and usually went through the hedge anyway
okay but Ill meet you at market


the wilshire market next to the fremont pharmacy
a few blocks from our houses
and on the way to the little league park
separated by a fence in the outfield from the cemetery
graves watched the centerfielders


we got there about the same time
did you get some?
yes I got a whole pack
good
we started up Fremont street 10 blocks
and half-mile journey


half way he said I didn’t get any matches
we can stop at the Beaumont Grocery
you can go in …
tell them the matches are for your mom
are you sure? yes!,  with a shove towards the door…
I went in and wandered around until I found kitchens matches
wooden stick strike anywhere
small boxes two-cents each
I had a nickle
I bought two and got a penny back
they never asked me anything…..


five more blocks
and we were at the ballpark
no locked gates in those days
the season was over
the infield grass need cutting
we headed to the home team dugout
no one could see us in there
but there wasn’t anyone anyway
the season was over
summer was over
and school was just starting up again


we sat on the bench
where three years earlier  
I had my first encounter with betrayal
and public humiliation
but not without much energy at the  moment
because  I was going to smoke cigs…


to break a rule
to do what the adults did
and not get caught
and in the fourth grade


camels a whole pack
what his dad smoked
won’t he miss them?
no he buys em by the cartoon
ten at a time


he carefully unwound the the little red stripe of celophane
and ripped open the tin foil
exposing little brown faces in white jackets
looking up at us
he picked one out
with his thumb and forefinger
handed it to me and said
here you first, you have the matches


I took the little box of matches
out of my pocket
pushed out the inner box
took out a strike anywhere match
and scratched it on the bench


at first I held the cigarette
between my fingers
and struck the match on the bench
and held the flame to the end of the cigarette
it was my first time
he laughed
no you have to put it in your mouth
and suck on it when you’re holding the match in front


I dropped the first match in the dirt
it started to burn my fingers
put the cigarette between my lips
and lit another match
holding it close to the end of the cig
then started sucking
then started coughing
then burned my fingers
and handed him the camel

boy this is great !!

the internal chaos and fear
sometimes
wrought
by the image of betrayal so long ago
permeates in the now,
when reason and trust flee


you were a child that Saturday
just 7 years old
exploring differences at the park
not knowing not suspecting
you would be the topic of show and tell
on Monday


of the fourth week
of the first grade
you wanted so badly to fit in
to belong
to have friends


she was so proud
to raise her hand
to be the first
to tell about her weekend
       your weekend


and for that moment you were the fool
and ran in shame
and terror’
uncontrollably sobbing
buried your face
in the teacher’s dress


the shame and fear are long gone
but the images remain

along with resentment

it is done, turn the page
the final submissions are read
ciphers noted, converted, published
and along with feeling accomplished
come feelings of sadness, relief and joy

I have quit associations
that have provided me with inspiration
exasperation perspiration facilitation
but mostly joy happiness and perennial youth

now it is time to enter another chapter
with fewer demands and different mandates
somehow older and more adult
with less randomness and chaos
and much less excitement

I am free now
     only a prisoner of my mind
but this confinement allows me, at least,
to stay current in my own life without guilt,
angst or dread
when I sit with a good book, good coffee
and a cat or two,
dozing in the morning sun