Random White Men (Day 24, 2018)

For a friend.

Random White Men

You’ve been married twice,
her mother complained.
You’d think at least one
could have been Puerto Rican.

The old woman grumbled
curses in Spanish
while the pale man sat
smiling in ignorance
on the sofa two feet away.
Must you keep dragging in
these random white men?

And yes, Veronica imagined
Lin-Manuel Miranda writing
poetry just for her, and the
sight of Miguel Cotto lathered
in sweat made her bite her
lower lip in unconscious
delight, but the truth was
that she found freckles
attractive and the act of
applying SPF-50 sunscreen
erotic. Off-tempo
dancing amused her, suggested
a clumsy innocence rather than
a frightening sexual
confidence. If these blue-
eyed suitors preferred burgers
to beans and rice, at least
they were willing to man the
grill, wearing obnoxious aprons
and sipping cheap beer. She was
left to read Pedro Pietri in peace.

Mamá, she said in Spanish,
this is anything but random.

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Baltimore Haiku (Day 23, 2018)

NaPoWriMo isn’t over yet, but I’m tired tonight. How about some haiku?

Baltimore Haiku

Old Bay seasoning
Camden Yards double header
the City that Reads

Don’t drink the water
in the city’s public schools
or run from the cops

Two cities, one name
Under Armour and drug game
This city hustles

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did you hear? (Day 22, 2018)

Another day, another poem.

did you hear?

a sister of
my neighbor’s best friend’s
third-cousin’s dogsitter
is also the state trooper
who arrested Cal Ripken for
beating Kevin Costner with a bat
for sleeping with Cal’s wife
the night the Orioles
faked a power outage
to keep Cal’s streak alive

Baltimore needed a hero
and while a knee-smashing lunatic
fit the town’s image
broken records
are remembered long after
broken bones heal
so the city fathers
pulled a few strings
and a few switches

it doesn’t matter that
you can see Ripken
in the dugout in gametime footage
just like it doesn’t matter
that we all saw the towers fall
or listened to weeping Sandy Hook parents
or read Obama’s birth certificate

coincidence and confusion coalesce
into certain conspiracy
despite facts and logic
because plot twists
and all-powerful enemies
make for good stories

even our ancestors blamed
the existence of death
on a talking reptile and a
magical fruit tree
because someone had to be at fault
and snakes are almost as repulsive
as major league baseball owners

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Hibachi blues (Day 21, 2018)

Three weeks of NaPoWriMo down.

Hibachi blues

ten shows a day
spinning eggs
making onion volcanoes
tossing shrimp into mouths

he gets tired of smiling
and pretending he’s excited
to chop up their chicken
in front of them

in between tables
he eats a cheeseburger
from the fast food place
across the street and
and reads a mystery novel

sometimes he looks
through the flames
at guys trying too hard
to impress their girlfriends
by overspending on dinner
and he thinks about his wife
and how he takes her to
places where the chef
is hidden away
allowed the dignity of mystery
not made to perform
for the amusement of rubes

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What the Dog Will Do for Food (Day 20, 2018)

2/3 of the way through a NaPoWriMo.

What the Dog Will Do for Food

the dog stole an apple
from an Amish woman and
I, having no cash, became
an accesory to the crime.

the apple seller threatened
to call security (whatever
that means at a Pennsylvsnia
Dutch Market) so my dog
attempted to intimidate her
by growling, softly at first,
but building into a crescendo

when she refused to back down
he killed her and
looked at me with those
sad puppy eyes
as if to say
please hide the body, Daddy

and I did

in guide dog school
they said it was
important for us
to work as a team,
to protect each other.
I wanted to honor that

(and also I was afraid
he’d walk me
in front of a bus
I mean, it’s clear
he’s willing to kill)

so now I’m tossing a
dead Amish apple vendor
into a dumpster
behind a Dunkin’ Donuts
and my guide dog
is eating even more apples
and I wish I had just
stuck with the white cane

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Changes (Day 19, 2018)

National Poetry Writing Month moves forward!


when David Bowie died
I stayed in bed all day
flattened by the loss
of an artist I rarely
listened to
(and then only the hits)

I found myself filled
with regrets
as if the man needed
one more adoring fan
or a few extra pennies in royalties

when it’s good
burrows into you
and claims part of your soul

every new song
arrives with the hope
that you will find another
lifelong companion
that even when alone
you’ll have company

I downloaded Ziggy Stardust
that morning

when my grandmother passed
six months later
I got the call
at an amusement park
where the carousel calliope
imitated a good time
and the ocean breeze
pushed back against shock

I loved her
but I hung up
and kept moving

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Advice for the Angry Poet (Day 18, 2018)

Another day of NaPoWriMo.

Advice for the Angry Poet

you can’t write good poems
while rage boils like
scorched coffee,
filling your mind
with bitter smoke

and you can’t write good poems
while muttering obscenities
in a volume somewhere between
under-your-breath and
passive-agressive whisper-shouting

maybe you can write something tolerable
when the bile recedes
and the blood pressure drops
back to just north of normal

until then
grind your teeth
and kick the ottoman
but don’t you dare
put pen to paper

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