Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sugar Mountain

My daughter has been led to believe that there is an immortal man who lives in the far recesses of the arctic. This man’s sole occupation is to manufacture and deliver various objects that children desire. I’m sure you’re familiar with the story. On the cusp between eight and nine my daughter is wandering this December in that lonely hour before the heavy dawn of reason. It doesn’t seem so long ago I fought sleep to wait for the man with the flying ungulates and I can well remember the heartbreak when all my defenses against logic crumbled. I evade her direct questions like a politician.


God placed Seraphim at the gates of Eden, and they guard it still, with flaming swords. If you believe this story you can’t help but imagine that when God lies awake at night smoking her last cigarette, she gets a little nostalgic for simpler days. The world is not a magical place and all the banished children of Eve must fall from grace.


Last week I attended the execution of my ex-wife’s cat, Ginger. I volunteered.  She was very much my ex’s cat,  but  Ginger was generous in her affection and she was a sort of touchstone for me to many things, my former marriage, my daughter, the past. I didn’t want the cat to die alone on a cold steel table and my ex didn’t think she could handle the actual moment.

Time as physics and Steve Miller attest, is moving in a unilateral direction. And no matter how hard you try to conjure up some forgotten magic you cannot get back into Eden, raise a cat up like Lazarus or keep your children forever in their wide eyed time. The moment Ginger died, those quick seconds she looked like she was deflating, some childlike part of me broke and fell away.

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Mao on Packaging

An excerpt that didn’t make it into the “Little Red Book”

Comrades when it comes to packaging for items to be sold to the imperialists, let simplicity be your enemy. Where two fasteners would be sufficient, use ten, where ten will do use thirty. There should be boxes within boxes. If you use a twist tie to bind the item to the cardboard, this is not enough, on the backside, bend the twist tie down and cover it with another little piece of cardboard and then use multiple pieces of tape over that, press down hard and use so much tape that it will difficult to find an end to peel it off.

Plastic should be thin and sharp. When it comes to dolls, package them as if you were the Marquis De Sade. Those bondage bitches shouldn’t move a millimeter on their trip to Long Beach. Imagine the imperialists celebrating their riduculous solstice celebrations. The young will wonder, why is Daddy so inept, why does Mommy curse. They will begin to wonder if there is a better way and then dear workers you will have done a great thing for our people.

Another thing, brushing ones teeth is for sissies.

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Out in the courtyard the man kneels down slowly to unleash the dog. The cobblestones are damp from last nights rain. He listens to his knees and ankles crack as he kneels gingerly on one knee. The courtyard is quiet.

“You’re a good girl.” he whispers, searching for her the collar under her black and tan coat.She raises her paw to him as he tries to unhook her collar from the leash.


His hands shake badly but he finally dangles the leash in front of her to show her her freedom. She gets down on her front paws, barking her invition to play, then she jumps up and down on her front paws, her nails clicking on the cobblestones. He laughs and slowly stands up.

“Let me see…did I bring your ball with me?”

She loses all her regal dignity, she whimpers, whines and makes feigned charges towards the courtyard gate.The man reaches into his overcoat and without any more teasing throws the ball as best as he can. She corners the ball near the guardhouse and brings it back, growling a challenge until she drops it at his feet.

 “Don’t make me bend down again, girl.”

Seemingly, she understands and picks it up gently and holds her head up to him. He throws it better this time, almost halfway across the courtyard. It takes an odd bounce off a cobblestone and hits a staff car.It’s getting lighter. He can hear the sounds of the city waking.

“One more time, girl.” he says, repeating the dance.

She stops in the little garden near the gate and crouches, her back legs taking out some new crocuses when she finishes. She comes back and he bends to pet her head and the length of her back. She tries to lick his hand and moves close to his side.

“Are you ready for breakfast?”

He doesn’t put the leash back on and she follows him faithfully as he limps to the front door. The place is coming alive. A soldier opens the door for him.

“Good Morning, Mein Fuerher.”

“Good Morning, Corporal.”

He stops in the foyer and turns back to the soldier.

“Please get some one to pick up Blondie’s business in the garden, Corporal.”

The sunlight is advancing through the iron gate, the courtyard steams to meet the day.

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Our blood runs back to Ireland
through men I never knew
and women lost
like songs forgotten
our eyes saw the centuries turn
days to years and sons to fathers
our blood now colors the face of my daughter
whom you’ve never met but know
like a lullaby your mother sang

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Under Orion
in the hollow hold of night
the sea moves the same
the gulls sway, sleeping,  facing the wind
the ghosts of summer blow across the sands
hymns without words rattle the rushes
under those same stars of what might have been
I drown roses born too late


Mary lay awake, watching the shadows on the wall dance with the flickering light from her candle. It had to be near morning.

She stood up and wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and went to the window. Opening the shutters she leaned out into the cool morning. The horizon was dark and the sky was a still moonless sea. She leaned there on the sill and breathed the cool air in in deep deliberate breaths. She could smell the sea. She was afraid, though she couldn’t quite place what she was afraid of.
In the market with her mother the day before, she was overcome with such a sense of dread, of panic. The noise, the clutter, the smells, it was all too much. All the merchant’s eyes on her, their features seemed sharper and exaggerated. She felt like she was being watched by something malevolent.

These are the thoughts of a madwoman, she thought, as a chill went up her spine. She shuddered and leaned out to pull the shudders closed when she notiched a  light upon the hills in the east. She wrapped the blanket tighter around her and stepped back from the window. The light rose higher over the hill and down into the glen and was moving towards her at a steady pace. It moved over the land like a spirit over the dark waters. The candle went out behind her. Mary backed up and sat on the edge of her bed, dropping the blanket from her shoulders. The Light was outside her window, it was waiting.

She began to hear a voice in her mind. The voice sounded like a thousand rivers flowing into the ocean. She nodded. Suddenly, the Light was in the room, it was upon her, around her, in her.  A cool breeze was blowing through her. She lay back on the bed, a wild wind began circling her, touching her hair, her neck. Her long brown hair blowing across her face. She began to laugh.
She heard the sound of children whispering to her.

“Hail, Mary.” Girls voices sang.

Mary smiled.

“You shall be called blessed by all generations.”  A boy’s voice said.

The words were ringing in her ears like a thousand bells across a thousand years.

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The night after you left me, I went out in the rain. Usually, I’d be reading the paper at that time and you’d be going to bed. I took Route 66 to the Merritt and ended up driving up the Berlin Turnpike. It was a Wednesday night and no cars were out. It started to sleet and I turned off the radio and the dashboard lights. I liked the darkness and the sound of the sleet on the windshield.

I passed all those old motels, their neon lights on since 1946. I wonder who the hell stays in those places. Fornicators, fugitives and the guy from Lolita. What was his name Humbert Humpfrey? I can’t remember. I smoked a lot and pretended I was Jack Kerouac, driving some beater to California. The road is just motels, porn shops, and diners over and over all the way from New Haven to Hartford. They stand timeless and forgotten.

I think Route 6 must be like this, from Cape Cod to Sacramento. One day I’m going to drive it. I’ll stay in the little motel cabins, sleep late and move on when I feel like it. I’ll eat in roadside hot-dog stands and diners, no Chilis or Outbacks.

I ended up in Hartford, the road was getting slippery. I found 91 and turned on the radio and drove back to an empty house.

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Goodnight Moon


“What Grace?”

“Do you think I should collect Pez?”

 “If you’d like to Hon.” I smile.

“I think I want to”

I zip up her pink ski jacket. We have to put her right mitten on first, and her right boot. A genetic gift from me, no doubt.


“Yes, Grace.”

“How many days has it been since Christmas?”

Math is not a friend of mine.”I don’t know Hon, why?”

“I just want to know”

“Lets see, about 20, almost three weeks.”

“Wow!” she says.

I bundle her up and and surprise her with a kiss. She smiles.

I lay my life upon the altar of this girl’s life.

There is no poetry for this. My one good thing…it seems sometimes.

She is just over the hill in her first decade. We go out to play in the wet snow.


“What, Dad?”

“When did you stop calling me Daddy?”

She stops and looks deep in thought, her sky blue eyes searching the clouds for an answer.


Bus 15

The summer drowns in shades of green
September blue seeps in between
you’re brushed and scrubbed and pure and clean
a sacrifice to bus fifteen

leave me in your wide-eyed world, your spinning, giggling, bright sky world
of crayola suns and fire-fly nights
you holy thing, amazing Grace, standing at the edge
of the driveway, the world spinning, unstoppable

I hear the growl of the yellow beast
of all goodbyes, pray this hurt least
no tears you shed, no sadness seen
you climb the steps of bus fifteen

four years ago, you waved at me from the carousel
your mother holding you on the prettiest horse
its mouth grinning in rapture, the other horses turning their jealous heads
away, circling, spinning, unstoppable

The summer drowns in shades of green
September blue seeps in between
too soon it seems for this scene
a leaf falls, yellow, spinning, unstoppable

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he breathes deep
the sun unrisen
torrents dark
swirl in his stomach
as he weighs
all the words he’s
dared to utter
doubt’s black lips
back in a snarl
he is cornered in this
shadowed garden

once, he was a boy
the grass between his toes
the sun high in flight
swinging on the gate
slain by wonder
burning in light

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