If Only

for Julie, on her birthday

if only every evening
settled into darkness
with a slight breeze
and a plate of cookies,
a sleeping dog at my feet
and wine in my hand,
four or five of us
on your back porch
talking under Christmas
and star lights
and over Electric Light Orchestra,
sharing dirty jokes and poetry,
life’s parabolas,
the awkward ambiguity
of making it to tomorrow
without letting the hula hoop fall

if only every car-radio song
inspired hand-clapping sing-alongs
so perfect we sat in your driveway
letting rain wash your windshield
until the last bass thump died
and if only every text message
produced spit-take laughs
or held hard-won wisdom
in its tiny emoji hands
and every greeting
was an announced hug
that pulled all the broken pieces
back into place for a moment

if only the entire universe
was a porch-swing
on a Thursday night in May,
moved by events
but never out of control,
a spot to rest
and enjoy simple pleasures
with those you love

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A Divided Union (Day 30, 2018)

The NaPoWriMo folks asked us to interact with an odd historical fact.

A Divided Union

Lincoln was the first president
with pet cats,
a fact that so enraged
dog-loving actor John Wilkes Booth
that he interruped a play
to make his displeasure known.

A century later
JFK demanded that
his children have dogs
despite his pet allergies,
only to be felled
by a cabal of
conspiratorial cat fanciers.

No nation may long endure
half-cat and half-dog,
which has prompted
our current president
to forego pets entirely,
as he seeks to unify us in his
usual quiet, dignified manner.

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Show Them the Greats! (Day 29, 2018)

Tomorrow is the last poem I’m writing for a while…

Show Them the Greats!

A poetry anthology for teens
got a one star Amazon review
from a man claiming that
all the poems were from
contemporary poets
of little fame
exploring adolescent themes.

Show them the greats!
he advised
lest they think poetry is
easy and trite. He
continued: If they
are not entranced
by works of lasting import,
poetry is not for them.

When his daughter was two,
he cast aside Goodnight
in favor of
Finnegan’s Wake at bedtime.
Reading is not for
you, my child
he said somberly
while watching her
tiny eyelids droop and
when Wagner’s operas failed
to adequately move the baby
he removed the Bose
surround sound system
from her nursery. Worse,
the child rejected
caviar for Cheerios, a
sure sign that she ate
only to sustain life and
was incapable of discerning
gourmet from granola.

She grew up to hate him and
rightly so.

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Baggy Pants (Day 28, 2018)

Two more poems after this.

Baggy Pants

i may look like a burnout
trying too hard to recapture
a youth he never actually lived
in my jnco khakis
and you might find me
ridiculous and strange
and even if all of that
is true
and i’m making an ass
of myself
it won’t be the first time
or the last time
i’ve been foolish

the only difference is
this time i’ve decided
not to care about
your opinion of me
because i’m thirty-seven
and happier in my own skin than
i have ever been
which feels like a victory
that i want to celebrate
in comfort
with full range of motion
and deep pockets
to hold all of the fucks
i used to give
about the opinions of others
that can now be better spent
on more important things

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Misreading the Cards (Day 27, 2018)

NaPoWriMo asked us to write about Tarot cards today.

Misreading the Cards

We had been having sex
every day for a few weeks
which I knew to be a sin
even though I tried
to convince myself
I loved her
so when she pulled out
a deck of Tarot cards
I thought to myself
in for a penny
in for a pound
and sat at her kitchen table
to sin some more

She asked me what I wanted
to know more about and
I said us
hoping for some reassurance
that my evenings were
being spent wisely

I cut the deck and
followed a series
of instructions
she read from a book
turning over cards
with names I cannot now recall
and she squinted at them
then at her guide
as I sat expectantly

“That card means Death,”
she said with confusion
“and this one is sickness–
or am I reading them
upside down?”

I agreed that she must be
interpreting them incorrectly
because weren’t we happy
and she cleaned up the cards
and led me to her room
where among all the usual activities
I began to consider
if we really were happy

A week later
we broke up

She may have really
had The Gift

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I have to write a poem but (Day 26, 2018)

Only a few days left for NaPoWriMo.

I have to write a poem but

I’d rather just get stoned and eat caramel cookies and snuggle with Kristy. I’d rather take a warm shower while listening to Sigur Rós and pretending I’m back in the womb. I’d rather strip naked and climb onto the roof where the sun and the breeze can take turns caressing me. I’d rather smear myself with marmalade and enter the Octogon for a death match against Paddington Bear. I’d rather climb a tall tree and sit on the highest branch singing Sondheim until the fire department arrives to coax me down. I’d rather drink a highball of peach vodka and steal my son’s scooter, tearing through the neighborhood without a helmet or an ounce of shame. I’d rather catch a frisbee in my teeth with such grace that my dog howls with jealousy.I’d rather watch soccer and pretend like it’s really interesting to have rowdy drunks blow a loud horn in my ear to celebrate a game where no one scores.

I’d rather not write a poem, but we all have responsibilities.

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Read All Instructions Before Consuming (Day 25, 2018)

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked us to write a warning label for ourselves.

Read All Instructions Before Consuming

Keep out of reach of children.

Take with a grain of salt.

May cause stomach ulcers,
increased blood pressure, and
nausea. In rare instances, death has resulted.

Mix with alcohol for improved results.

Wash in warm water. Tumble dry low. Do not iron.

Store at room temperature. To avoid sweating, do not expose to excessive heat.

This product is known to the state of California to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

If an erection lasting longer than four hours results from reading this poetry, please seek medical help immediately.

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