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For the Sake of Argument

What if I sat in silence on the beach
And saw what you saw yesterday,
The sun crawling up the morning cliff,
The seagulls pitching their voices against
An orange sky, complaining again
That food was too scarce,
The sea too turbulent,
This orange day
Some copy of the original
By a naked toothless amateur
On a coffee break?



Desire some sages say
Is the root of all suffering,
Knowing that wanting 
Implodes at the first grasp,
Having seen a child running
Towards the first friendly face
Then distracted by the sun’s rays
Swimming across a bed of crocuses.


Intelligent Design

He walked through the parking lot,
The tedium of the day
Claiming victory
Against Intelligent design
With God’s slow revenge
In checkout lines,
Border crossings,
Colicky babies,
Single-spaced sermons,
An economist’s prediction,
A drunk’s promise,
His wife’s return.



My lovely agonist,
Cruel substitute,
Halloween mask,
Candied-apple Lover
In your cheap eye-liner,
I want to lust for you
As my first drop-dead date
In concrete basements,
But you were sent
By some official
In green pants
With a name tag
And ugly shoes
I cannot trust
Right now.

But give me time.
For I need a lover,
As young hearts do,
Some shiny face
That doesn’t nod off
And eyes that don’t close,
And long-fingered hands
On warm washcloths
And piano keys
On a Sunday afternoon.


Ménage à Trois

A third person cannot
Do what two have found
As the right length of a kiss,
Tertiary tongues spoiling
The settled contracts
Of imperfection
That cannot be made whole
By an intruder’s adrenaline,
The huckster’s offer
Of more dazzling fruit
Rotting in its excess,
Or Saturday night’s
Recycled news.


Save Russia

How much should he remember?
The drowsy legacy of his uncle’s drinking?
All the blanks he had to fill in
For a New York history class,
Choices that never again
Came in fives,
Math that gave and took
Away numbers daily,
A catechism that explained
Everything useless
For a job or a parents’ fights,
Pledging allegiance
On a school playground,
The pulse of a young boy’s heart
Beating to the drum
Of a man’s rage
For innocence lost
Too soon by older guides
In their Roman collars
Mumbling prayers of hope
To “Save Russia”?


Il Sait

He knew
The names of pick-up trucks
And brands of dishwashers,
What time the sun would rise
Tomorrow or next Tuesday,
That a minor key
Drew him to fentanyl,
That a cloud had enough time,
That a hill would never say no,
That fall leaves gave up trying,
That his wife would
Give it one more shot.


Yesterday he was asked
What he believes in
As if the broken cliffs 
Along the sea
When the fog
Rolls in aren’t enough
Or the children faking fear
Running through a sprinkler.

Trucks and buses
Make wide turns,
Two year olds
Scream in restaurants,
Umbrellas are useless
In a windstorm,
A one-month old
Doesn’t choose
Which nipple is more tender,
The sky takes in any fool’s eyes.


Du Temps Perdu

He had seen, for the first time,
The top of the small hill
Lush, in its own way,
With yellow and green flowers,
Names escaping him,
Like most memories
He wished would return,
A trip to the laundromat,
A friend’s memorial service,
Familiar as the moon
He thought he remembered
Last Thursday
When he put his laundered socks
Into the top drawer
And glanced out the window,
Or was it emptying the dishwasher
After closing the kitchen window
To catch a quick glimpse
Of the moon’s cradle,
Reminding him of how
Easy it was, once,
To recall anything.


Home Stretch

He had a choice once
Between two women,
One gnarled in office hours,
Frantic graphs, leather chairs,
Giant-eyed windows opening up
The morning to efficiency
And quarterly reports.

The other, his artist,
Tubes of paint,
Spaghetti dinners,
Spittled arguments about
Too much restraint.
“You never take any risks,”
She told him.

Twenty minutes late
To his urologist, forty years later,
A young woman in her mid-forties,
An amateur art collector,
Today, dressed in black and violet silk,
Tapping keys in front of a computer screen,
“Your PSA looks good,
Prostate’s a bit enlarged,
But no worries on that front…”

The home stretch,
Transparent still to beauty,
But open now
To the body’s failing statistics.

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