Sweeter Point of View

Job prospects with no love
For carefully constructed cover letters
And a mosquito bites me
Then slips away unseen
Among the laundry list of tasks
That I have yet to address

But there you are
You buy me a mango and
Hold my hand as we walk
Through Liberty State Park
Then kiss my chilled lips
After a mouthful of ice cream



Laundromat Haiku

Tiny people squeal
Run past me kindly grading
Popping pistachios




I am counting them
Each night documenting
The number of discursive moments
Thoughts pop into consciousness
And are tossed away again
A challenge to refrain
From judging
From indulging

The cigarettes perpetuate
Those moments yet
The intention is to drive them away

Coping it is called
An insufficiently powerful word
Indistinct and without emotion
Scientific and impersonal
Immature but more precise
None describes the actual
Of longing
To feel
To be felt
To touch and hold
To make love
To be loved
Missing sensations
Connecting with someone
Moment by moment
Touching a hand
Caressing a back
Stroking hair
Kissing lips
Soft, soft lips
Their absence is palpable
I am seeking an outlet
A way to bring them back
Through some new medium
That does not exist
Nothing is capable of replacing
What was once there  

And it seems so long ago
That it was you

The touch of your hand on my knee
Gentle and eager
Heartbeats racing through
A first date soon followed
By “I love you”
Holding on to those few weeks
Before I left
A moment
A memory I will cherish
When I am finished dealing.



Porn film juxtaposed with Harry Potter

Collecting the last two items from the old apartment
I knocked on the door
The new tenant
My former landlord’s son
Asleep on the couch
One of two pieces of furniture in the cavernous space
Formerly filled with so many of my things
Our things
His tall familiar friend answered
Dogs gleefully jumped up and licked my face
I asked if he had found a book I’d left
Harry Potter
No, he said, I don’t think so, but I’ll look.
And I noticed suddenly the naked woman
On the 60-inch flat screen TV
Huffing, gyrating, groaning
In apparent ecstasy
Oh, a porn film
Sorry, no book, he said.
Thanks anyway, I replied.
If you find it, Michael can call me.  He has my number.
I went down to the basement
To collect my bike
The last item, apparently, and thought
How unembarrassed he was
The porn film on the giant screen
In my presence
The presence of an older woman
I laughed
And left
For the last time.



Waiting for…

She is saving a seat for him
The empty lawn chair nestled beside her
In the sand
Lovingly carried
With arthritic hands
To the beach
It is not warm today
But she sits
Patiently in her heavy beige coat
And white, cashmere beret
With a book
Which she has read before
And she waits
In the unseasonable coolness of January
By the pier
On Venice Beach



Julie at 2 ½

She runs into the room
Asks “what’s this?” of some
Random item
The doorknob
A file cabinet
The color purple
Ever curious about her world
Her eyes glint
She squints and gives a little nod
In understanding
Satisfied with the answer
She runs out again
To find daddy
Or mommy
Or her new doll
Her tiny voice hanging lightly
In the December air
Where we
With our
Big, joyful smiles
In utter amazement that this human being
Is with us
A part of us
Continues to grow
And learn
And become someone new
Before our eyes



The Night Billy Collins Kissed Me

You were there
In the hotel bar
Soft familiar eyes
Gazing at me
Perhaps a bit afraid
Sitting inches away
Knees knocking mine and
Watching the baseball game
As you half listened to my
Well-prepared speech
Distracted but I think
When he noticed us
Or just you
Watching the game.
He walked over
White wine in hand
Not his first free drink of the evening
Tipsy and grinning
You talked sports at first
Then responding to his question
I said I was from Indiana
And you awkwardly asked him
For his autograph
On your lanyard from
The poetry festival
No, not this time
The allusion missed
Or ignored
The moment deflated
He only wanted to flirt with us
With me
And so when he asked you,
“May I kiss your girlfriend?”
I smiled at you
Then at him
For his naïve assumption about you and me
Honest and not without cause
I lifted my face
He kissed my right cheek
His soft, sixty-something face against mine
The familiar voice so near my ear
Instilling pure joy.
You took a photo of me
My glow
Freezing the moment for us both
The night Billy Collins kissed your non-girlfriend
Your friend 
I don’t know
And it doesn’t matter
Because it forever altered the course of
My memory
So that when I think of that night
A year from now
With our bodies so close
The tension thick despite
Your conviction to not kiss me
Or maybe because of
And your wandering attention
To the Yankees game
I will remember that kiss
And forget that I went home alone.



After the Move

I’m out
Away from the hollow
Shell of a home
What was organic
Now left behind
With the bones of our two cats
Or lingering slightly
In the harsh taste of nicotine on my lips
But without the constant reminders
Here with the half moon
Tangerine dangling
Over Manhattan
Lights on at midnight
In the city
My city
My home across the river
Sitting atop a small hill in Jersey City
Surrounded by me



Senility at 36

I don’t lose things
Is it age?
Do I have ADD?
Have I had it all these years without knowing?
Does that explain why I can never seem to stick with one career?

I don’t have a career.
Never did.
Nevertheless, I lost my keys
Without knowing I’d lost my keys.
There I was
In front of my class

A friend walked in
Pulling my focus from the students before me
And gently placed my keys on the table
I said
“How did you do that?”
Thinking she had somehow quietly borrowed them earlier

No, I lost them
They were hanging inside the toilet stall door
On the hook
Where they are always placed
So I will not forget them.




There are minute details
Scrawled in often hasty cursive
A red pen
Some pages wet
Left by an open window
During a storm
Passages long forgotten
They are from someone else’s life
A past blocked from memory
Only joyful moments linger
Somewhere on the periphery
But those neutral
Or painful
They are gone
Reading about them
In between them
Her past
An anxious scrawl
She feels a distance
From her twenty-something self
Over a decade later
The obsessions
The men
The bad poetry
Fucking the bartender
Dating other fuckers
Waiting for phone calls
Kissing strangers
Waking in the afternoon
On the Upper West Side
In the bartender’s apartment
Just in time to see the sun set
And do it all again
With the woman she called her friend 
Who pulled her strings
Dressed her up
Short skirts
Thick black eyeliner
A pretty doll
They were never worth
Her naïve heartache



Another Move

There are boxes of empty CD jewel cases
Mix tapes recorded during the ‘90s
Cat fur stuck to multiple layers of clear packing tape
The sole remains of precious
Surrogate children
The boxes are coated in thick black marker
One label scratched out for another
Re-use of a cardboard box
Recycling before it was cool to recycle
Dust mites have played rounds of golf and croquet
And danced tangos and whatever else dust mites do
In and on top of these boxes
Now becoming empty as I finally
Place items into the trash.
The boxes have begun to degrade
No longer fit for re-use
For another move
Maybe down the street
Across the dividing line between the decent neighborhood
And the less decent neighborhood
“The other side of the tracks”
He told me, the first landlord I met
Two years ago
A young black man whom I always thought
I’d see again
I thought I would stay here longer
He walked me to this house where I now live
With my boxes still filled with unused items
From a previous life
He saw the house and said
“Yeah, I’ve lost this one, I know.”
He knew because I am a white woman
In a diverse neighborhood and this house suits me
His apartment was nicely renovated
But small and on the other side of the tracks
Where I will now go
Alone, a white woman in a “diverse” neighborhood
And I will be fine
Because I know
That people are just people
That they too accumulate things they never use
Maybe they have tufts of cat fur stuck in the carpet
In between the cushions of a couch
A cat long gone
Pieces of past lives
Home to dust mites
Dancing and playing sports
Holding them back.



Hollow yearning for passion

Nothing satisfies me
At home alone, hollow
With Bebel Gilberto bossanovas ringing through the empty apartment
Mind swimming through pieces of our life
Pieces of my life
Of a future life without you in it

I deliberately wash the dishes
Clean the coffee grinds out of the French press
Empty the garbage, water the plants
Pick up the mouse droppings
The mouse, my only company
Apart from a personified cigarette

Days are good, sunlight and driving and teaching
Undergraduates how to write
How to think for themselves
Knowing that my life is good
Even if tomorrow is unknown
Who will want me next?

It is not shame at being left
I do not regret a single moment now
But the knowledge that my hands on your body
My lips on your lips
My voice saying “I love you” every day
Several times a day

It was not enough
And that is the pain
I have been left
Wanted to be left
With my mouse and my plants and my cigarette
To have the space to understand who I am


Now past the point of being able to say
I am a young woman
But I am a young woman despite slivers of gray hair
Slipping out through my scalp
Old enough to have born my students
I want passion again



Seven years on, four weeks gone

My fingers begin to move
Not quite ready to record this ache
In semi-permanent text

It is time to start trying
Four weeks gone
Ending seven years of you and me
Passion left much earlier

When was that moment?
The first and only other split
Lasted one day
You said you could not leave me

Maybe it was fear
Or some lingering desire
For the real, rich love
We did in fact once feel

But this time
We are truly done
We are moving on
Apart, broken

Healing in different rooms
I hear your voice thinly through the wall
So faint, so far away
A pale sensation of your hand in mine

It is time to start trying
Four weeks gone
After seven years of loving
Struggling to listen

Because we could not hear each other’s heart beat
Passion drifted away
While we strained
And tried too hard




Why do mammalian males have nipples?
He posited
Quoting St. Augustine
He was not a biologist
She said that she did not know
He said
They are aesthetically pleasing
Only a god could have thought that one up.
She was not convinced.

She said
Don’t males lactate sometimes?