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More Poems




1999


Poet's Lament

Dear God
Please lift from me
by your almighty grace
this writer's block
which hath crippled me,
your servant,
so that i may no longer
please thee with my
humble scratches.
I ask thee
in reverence and prayer
for one simple idea
so that I may warrant
the cutting of 100 trees
to create my paper.
I pray to thee
my Lord, my God
that I may fill my pages
with other than scribble.
Amen.


In Memory of Twilight at Coney Island After Throwing Up and the Roller Coaster and Swimming With Our Clothes On.

I had cheesesteak and sprite
and put my khakis back on
over Tara's wet shorts
to play in the sand.
And Jack fell face first and
we couldn't get the sock back from
the other team because
Colt ran too fast and he won
Daffy Duck three times and gave
one to me and one to somebody's dog.
There was wind and sand and
I think I got a sunburn
and was sore because the rides
threw me around, and a little annoyed
because you can't talk to someone
while they're making out
in the salt water.
Tired in the evening--burned too many
calories laughing too hard.
And why you can't talk philosophy
with Jack while patting sand smooth
Until everyone wants to know what
I'm doing. A sand face which looks
like Hitler so I step on it.
The Book of Questions and Would
You Rather? Don't you dare say
the p-word or do the other thing--
That girl's name is Eileen!
Shut up its really not funny anymore.
Afternoon like an open fire and holding hands
and the first star to wish on.
Happy Birthday Jake.


His Collection

He lived in a pre-war apartment house on the upper West Side. The house was huge--one of those fancy, decorated things which no one can afford but everyone dreams of living in. On top it had seven towers, and each was covered with intricate gargoyles and odd faces which peered at you unexpectedly. The very rich, eccentric sort of people found it charming. The majority, however, found it creepy and just a little too elegant.

His apartment was on a corner of the fourth floor. He'd lived there all his life, only able to afford it because it had rent control going back to the 40's. It was enormous, much too big for one person, but he wouldn't have dreamed of moving out. After all, except for his part time job, he never left his house at all. He knew every room in it so well that he didn't need the lights and often left them off, preferring the dark. The house was his domain, the only place in the whole hellhole of the city where no one dared to tread. There, no one could infringe upon his person. And there, he had his wonderful, beautiful collection.

The gray pre-dawn awoke him that morning, along with the sounds of traffic. He ate nothing, choosing instead to leave early to avoid meeting people. It was late winter, and he hunched himself inside his coat to keep out the wind. It was a pea green coat, scratchy wool, and the lining was in tatters. He almost didn't mind the cold, though, because it was so clean, and pretty, like his collection. He shoved his hands in his pockets and headed towards the subway.

He didn't mind his job. In a way he enjoyed the monotony and the solitude. Not many people bothered him, and he liked being left alone. The life of a janitor consisted of a confused assortment of mops, brooms, and vacuums, the far away echoes of human voices, and the brightly colored jumble of trash in the glare of the overhead florescent lights. Everything ran together in his head, leaving room only for pleasant thoughts of his collection.

Today was no different. It passed by until the building sounded hollow and empty and he found himself shoving a large broom with a small mountain of trash in front of it towards a garbage can. Suddenly something caught his eye. After checking to make sure that no one was there, he leaned forward for a better look.

He caught his breath, and for a moment he was almost afraid to touch it, it looked so fragile. But it looked as though it had been there for a while, and it wasn't hurt yet, so he figured he could do it no harm. His fingers reached out tremulously until he held it, so carefully, in his palm.

It was a tiny, perfect hand, its nails delicate yet sharp, and so beautiful that he couldn't imagine it being made. Instead, it seemed as if it had simply been created, instantly, a small miracle just for him. And its end sat a confused and slightly nervous little girl, but that was easily dealt with. It was exquisite. It was his.

He rode home with it cradled between his hands, and a quiet joy in his heart. He was afraid of the subway in a way he had never been before, afraid of the crush of people that would damage his amazing possession. It had to remain intact until he got it home.

The gargoyles greeted him as he came in the door of the building, and the brilliance of the lobby made him temporarily blind as he walked into the gloom of his apartment. He brought his treasure to his room and turned on the light. The little girl was crying, and he tried to comfort her by showing her how beautiful the red was on her wrist, and what pretty patterns he could make. It upset him that she didn't want to give him her hand. But he needed it very badly. It would be so perfect for his collection.