We started with addition, placing our hands side by side

To complete the whole.

But soon, your kisses divided into half a dozen words,

Then fractioned into thoughts,


Now, absolute zero.


And I couldn’t bear the burden of this one-sided subtraction,

So I multiplied my work

To find an answer that could fit.


But as you slowly put your pencil down,

Scrubbed to its last lead,

And walked out the door,

I closed my eyes and longed for the impossible solution to this problem,

The moment when our equation could finally be balanced and

One and one are one.

Outside Hopper’s Nighthawks

A new poem…

I was shuffling down the sidewalk that night,

My hands fixed in the pockets of my coat,

Thumb and finger turning at keys, aping

The turning in my mind,

When I found myself outside Hopper’s Nighthawks.


It was eerie at first to see my curious look

In the reflection of the old diner,

Though not so old in this impossible present

Where I stood peering through the dingy glass,

Squinting to note the familiar figures at the bar:

The hatted cigaretteer, the suspicious woman in red,

Their hands eternally touching or not touching,

The amiable boy tending the bar

And the fourth with his back to the world.


I drew my forehead up to the window

To determine how cool this outside dark,

Placing my hands like parentheses around my eyes

Only to see the still figures inside

Staring at nothing,

Dwelling on absent futures, listless

In their fixed points where Phillies are only 5¢

And the lights are always on.


Yet before I pulled away to turn the corner to my car,

A lazy glance happened upon a single glass,

Idle and unclaimed,

On the nearer end of the bar,

Removed from the four characters

Paralyzed in their cold moments.


So I drifted inside,

Lay my keys and scarf upon the counter,

And asked the boy if he’d exchange the empty tumbler

For a coffee cup like the others.

But he wouldn’t take it, wouldn’t even listen,

Didn’t even stand up straight from his persistent stooping,

And I gathered the glass was meant to stay,

Left by someone else,

Destined never to be filled,

Perhaps stuck in his own still point,

Caught in a portrait of frozen dancing

Or motionless on the curb.


I scooped up my keys and turned them over,

One by one around the ring,

But not before I waited for a while

To see what would happen next.



Another poem…

As I write this,

I’m still breathing hard from a night of fitful sleeping,

My V-neck shirt clinging like dew to my warm chest

While the ceiling fan does its best to gin up

A gentle wind.


It’s, let’s see,

I’ll need my glasses for a bit,

2:38 in the morning,

And I’m jotting down my thoughts at the bedside table

Like the doctor said.

Oh, and my feelings,

I’m also recording my feelings.


The poetry’s been difficult these days.

It doesn’t flow like it once did.

The Nile’s all dried up, you’d ask,

Or turned to blood in plague? And I’d chuckle.

I tried some in the first stanza with the sweat simile,

But I think I yawned in the middle of it.


I remember you used to love a haiku I once wrote

About the cold side of the pillow

(Sort of on the fly, just to see you smile really).

Only now do I see why you liked it so,

As I cycle and recycle this old feather bag

To find that cool shadowy feeling in which to lay

My weary head.


It’s only when I glance over at yours in its pristine condition,

And I notice no sagging indention in the center,

That I remember your pillow is always cool now,

Both sides.


So, I’ll just lay my glasses back down on the nightstand,

At 2:52 in the morning,

And I’ll climb once more into my tempest of dreams

Where you and I are together again,

If momentarily,

And somewhat wispy in our world of memory,

Before my body shakes awake

At 3:41 AM,

And I lean for my pencil

From my sloppy and disheveled side of the bed.

Ray’s Peaches

Another summer poem…

Our tires chewed the gravel road,

Tossing rocks into the palm of a single beam of sunlight

As we pulled the car crookedly into his driveway.


He sat enthroned in the yawning wood of his tumbledown rocking chair –

Still as the stale air of his ripening trees,

The former glory of Ray’s Peaches.


The A-frame sign by the old highway

Had lost two letters from the downpours of time,

The decay of decades, remainders from rain

And the Carolina sun,

The ghostly silhouette of the first and the second e

Unveiling the bright white of the untanned parts

And a vacant apostrophe near the top.


Ray watched as my family and I leapt from the car

And asked for a couple baskets for the peaches,

His freckled grin brawling against the worn grooves

Of his cheeks, and his eyes still laughing like the sky.


That morning,

We plucked our swollen wonders,

Warm as hands,

And kissed the gentle clouds with our giggling.


Ray simply watched as we lugged our teeming baskets to the scale,

Fifty cents a pound, peaches discounted

As a favor to the family grandfathered by the town preacher.

He felt the sharp cool of dollars between his thumb and finger

And winked at my daughter, quick enough to only spill

A flutter of magic at her dancing feet.


And as she paused to glance at Old Ray

Of Ray’s Peaches,

She lay her basket in the grass and scooped the smell of earth

Into her little hands,

Thanked Mr. Ray for the fruit,

And turned with her clasped fingers toward the car

While Ray lifted a prayer to God

That Elizabeth may turn her eyes down from heaven

To their small peach farm once more

As he kissed the gentle clouds

And shuffled to their bed to sleep.



Making the Bed

I wrote this poem after a futile attempt I made to try to change the sheets on our bed while my wife was out of town. I worked diligently to fit the elastic sheet on our queen-size mattress for quite some time only to realize I was holding a twin-size sheet. I began to wonder how widowers make their beds without wives to guide them…

Our fingertips danced once

As we walked them along the edges of our mattress,

Calling out to each other with the strength

Of smiling eyes, crossing

The queen-sized canyon to hold each other’s glances.

You carefully studied the measured lines

(and I carefully studied yours) as

We fitted the sheets to our new bed,

Working to weave our souls into the cool linen.

Our laughs soared as we

Ballooned the top sheet into space

And hushed to join the quiet whisper as it

Exhaled into bed like a cloud drifting in the water.


We collapsed in symmetry

Like stars,

Gliding into a forever of sleep and wakefulness,

Circling the clock.

And, next to you, I prayed, only

For more clocks.

For now I can taste the stale grime of

Central heat

Breathing through the ribcage of rusted vents

And stretch my cracked knuckles across the

Bare-boned cold of our bed,

Pulling a twin sheet with all my heart

You would know why it doesn’t fit

And how I am afraid

To join the quiet whisper as I

Exhale into bed,

A cloud without its water.