Lights Out

I have the only generator on the street.
When the lights went out last night
The neighborhood went black
But for my house,
Because I thought ahead,
Making the modest investment
After the last blast.
Do I have to control for other people's stupidity?
Everything happens in cycles.
Repetition is a driving force of nature.
My frozen food stays frozen.
Television brings images of local devastation.
Wife's hair blower
My house has sadly become the local meeting place,
Everyone drawn to my illuminated lawn,
Not disguising their jealousy,
Hate in their eyes.
Marvin from the next block asks if he can charge his phone.
Now the schools are closed for a week.
My children rejoice.
I consent to hosting an all-neighborhood slumber party for the kids.
They're in the back room playing old-fashioned board games,
Which I was smart to save.
I look out my front window
Shotgun by my side,
Waiting for someone to come steal my power.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: 1997



Sandy is soaking the country
But my dog wags his tail
To say he wants his walk,
We head into the night
Led by a clear full moon
That conveys harpies
In advance of Halloween,
Half woman half vulture
Clinging to shadows and rooftops
Watching me.
We approach a certain house
That spooks my pet
He whines and pulls on the leash
Trying to get away.
He doesn't like the decorations,
Mock spider web,
A creepy monster propped by the front door.
I tighten the leash and
Move closer for a picture.
I raise my phone,
The creature moves its arm
I'm certain.
A billow of spiked air blows down my neck.
I hustle to the next house,
Eye on the moon,
Movement in the bushes.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix



Somewhere in Kansas
I felt my eyes closing,
Stopped for coffee and pie.
I pulled off the access road,
Parked my rig,
Walked the few yards back to
The small cafe and its
Broken neon sign.
I sat on a stool
Ordered jet black java,
Lemon meringue,
Engaged the owner/cook in conversation,
We talked about long hauls
And life in his small town.
It's not all it's cracked up to be, said Ed.
I guess.
A lotta folks think I have it made,
Owning my own place,
Out of the rat race, so to speak,
This place isn't so bad.
He sounded desperate to convince me.
I hadn't the heart to tell Ed the meringue was bad,
Tough and rubbery,
Egg whites over beaten.
It made me gag.
Ed asked if I was OK.
I sipped the coffee,
My eyes began to water.
I coughed
A piece of the pie landed on the counter.
It's not the pie, he said.
It's never the pie.
We're famous for our pie.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Renee Comet


Rorschach Test

I stand on my hotel balcony
Smoking a cigar
Gazing across 29th Street at an open window in the next building.
A man sits at a desk
Wearing large black headphones
Staring at two wide computer screens.
He sips from a water bottle
Looks up and sees me
We lock eyes for a moment
Nods in my direction
Returns to his work.
When I think he's not looking I snap his picture with my phone
To memorialize the distant connection
He sees me and shakes his head.
He says something.
To me? To himself?
I give a friendly wave with my cigar.
He rises
Loosens his pants
Turns around and places
His naked fleshy butt against the window
Where it flattens into a Rorschach test
That isn't hard to interpret.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Too Much Coffee

Gordon lets something slip that makes my job seem
Three cups of coffee and I
Can't think anymore
Body tipped on caffeine and adrenalin
I feel like the only person alive
Moving in slow motion past people who have
No clue.
I consider the balcony
Shut out the world with ear buds
Momma Miss America
Glorious drums and frightening reverb defining life
I fall into the flow outside and grab a building to steady myself
How can I not feel pretentious?
The singer asks what's the use of worrying
He answers: no use
Son of a bitch
Can't even use the f-word in this poem
Hurts so good
Too much coffee
Too much

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Never Let No One Man Worry Your Mind

Carl won't tell me what's wrong
Leaving me to guess why he's quiet about
I make things up.
Something to do with work
Or the airports he lives in,
Dissatisfaction with his job,
The traveling and car rentals,
Those tiny hotel pillows.
I ask him but it turns him angry,
Nothing, he says.
Maybe it's me
Something I said
Not making him feel special,
I don't know.
Does he have girlfriends in all those cities he visits?
I search his laundry for clues,
Check his phone for wayward texts or emails when he's in the shower.
I find nothing.
This leaves a growing distance between us.
He doesn't see it.
I give him extra love
And make the lasagna he likes
Because I'm going to explode.

© Poem Fix 2012


The Empire Builder

My train is an hour late.
When I finally board
I sit by a west window
And keep an eye on the Hudson,
The low clouds
Touching the trees and
The grand isolated homes on the other side.
I imagine a lonely woman inside one of the larger white houses
Sitting at a breakfast nook
Gazing out at the water and
My train speeding south.
I try to connect with her telepathically
Wanting to feel what it's like to be wealthy
And wake up in a quiet estate
Wearing slippers
Fetching the paper from the gravel path,
Working the crossword over a cup of fresh coffee
As the 280 from upstate passes
And wondering why her husband has come home late
Three nights in a row.
The train stops short of the Rhinecliff station.
Something's wrong.
I get off and walk the rest of the way
Looking for something better.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: David Hermeyer and Samuel Wantman



Louise says she can still make money
With her body,
That it's a resource that refreshes every day.
You promised, I remind her,
You said you were through with that.
I made her an honest woman
Determined to satisfy
Make her my own
Be good to her.
But her past is overwhelming,
Hanging over us,
She can't let go.
We met that way but I press,
Asking if I don't please her
If my love isn't enough.
She says I'm too much,
Stop working so hard at it,
Reminds me that we're not married.
I think about her all day while I'm
Draining transmissions and repairing flats,
Wondering if she's fallen off the fidelity wagon,
If I'm being selfish.
At night I find a stray sock under the bed.
Not mine, I'm sure.
I want to confront her with it but am afraid
It will decide things.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image:Poem Fix


There Are No Seasons Where I Live

There are no seasons where I live
No snow or turning leaves
Months of silver depressing clouds
There are no earthquakes where I live
No gaping holes that
Swallow cars
Collapsing highways.
There are no hurricanes where I live
No rising tides
Bursting levees
Floods forcing us upstairs.
There are no tornadoes where I live
No spinning skies of death
Leveling homes
Snatching farm animals.
But here, where heat was born,
We swim in tiny blue oceans
Stay indoors
Love each other.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Fallschirmjager


Vacated Blood

One by one
As the children leave
We linger over their faces on the wall
And empty rooms that paint pictures
Of their energy and noise
Parties and locked doors
Struggles and freedom.
The youngest turns 16
And moves downstairs
Not away from us
But for us
A gift
A merciful halfway step
So it becomes familiar
Easing into emptiness.
I call my dead
Understanding where his heart hurts
Fill him up with a strong dose of me
Hoping the world will return the favor
That one day
My vacated blood
Will dial me with news of the day, too.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Poem Fix 



Fermented wet sock smell emanates from
My dog's mouth
Jowls dripping thick viscous drool
Half smiling
Satisfied after dinner
Ready for
Throw the ball or
Catch me 'cause I have the bone or
Find the itchy place on my neck
Metronome tail
Later he will collapse in my room
Gift me with burned egg farts
Look at me like I've betrayed his soul
Beg me to figure out his
Past life
When he was my master

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Poem Fix


Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

My father asks me why the
Turtle crossed the road,
A riddle to test my memory
Because he's presented the same joke
Dozens of times.
He knows he has posed the challenge before,
Often starting with
I might have told you this already,
Which is almost always true.
The real puzzle is whether I should
Stop him,
Or halt him early enough.
If he gets too far into the brainteaser
I don't have the heart to
So I pretend it's fresh,
Throwing my head back
Laughing loudly and
Slapping my leg.
But I often jump in quickly to say,
Yes, you've told it
Many times
Don't you remember?
It's infuriating to hear the same riddle
Over and over,
Told the same way
And now so ingrained in my mind
That I dream about the damned turtle,
Following it to its ordained destination,
Helping it avoid cars.
Such honesty makes him sad.
I always regret it.
I should give him the joy of telling a fresh joke,
Let him have his silly old riddle
And allow the tired turtle
To cross the road
To get to the Shell station.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Damien Naidoo


Another Small Death

They are ten billion in debt
So they take my solitary black mailbox
And its small red flag
Bringing us a community monolith
A grey hunk of metal with
Numbers, doors, keyholes.
This is another small death for our community,
Along with tall cinder block walls
Separating us and our yards.
The new mailbox keeps the postal carrier away from our homes,
No Mr. McFeely or Cliff Claven waving to us
No speedy delivery or
Curbside service.
Single mailboxes take too long.
Efficiency is demanded
Fewer stops
Of funky mail vehicles with steering wheels
On the wrong side.
This is what progress brings
And more.
Who needs Saturday delivery?
Central mail give us a
Chance to meet,
Which we do,
Nodding to each other as we
Collect our small stack.
But we don't look at our neighbors
Retrieving our mail,
Avoiding the politeness of
It's a beautiful day isn't it?
We fetch our mail with
Superficial smiles
And frowns for junk mail from junk metal.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Poem Fix


Pinus Ponderosa

The tall aging pine trees
Are talking to each other.
They huddle,
Debating the weeds and mesquite,
Competing for sun,
Taking pride in crowding out the small starters far below.
They ask if their brothers have felt the chill,
If their bark has been colder than usual,
If they think it's true that the clouds seem somehow darker than yesterday.
They brag about keeping their cones longer,
Reaching higher
Finding more moisture
Fending off woodpeckers.
They inspect each other for dangerous beetles, ants and untamed sap flow,
Commiserating their helplessness against them.
The wisest of the trees tell stories of human hands and animal tails,
Predicting that one day all trees will have such helpful appendages,
But for now
Their community must wait
And find satisfaction and art in singing with the wind.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Poem Fix


A Second of Fortune

I too
Make a contract with the darkness
For a single moment of
Absolute and complete
Always there in front
Just out of reach
Falling away in the distance
Somehow impossible to attain
That idea of perfection and knowledge
Basking in something close to
Or something resembling love
Disguised as love
Just once
Which isn't too much to ask
Or far too much.
A universal right
To absorb a second of fortune
Of all cylinders firing
Go with Goethe
Or departing unfulfilled
A shame
Pitiful waste
A deal with the devil
Or die trying.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Richard Roland Holst


Mermaid in Texas

That's not what you do.
Yes it is.
You'd have got in trouble for it and wouldn't be sitting here right now.
Well I am.
I don't believe it and I can't be convinced and I'm not some dumb hick just 'cause I'm from this part of Texas.
I didn't say you were a hick.
You did kinda say it.
It doesn't matter to me what you think and I only told you because you said I couldn't top your story about the mermaid which, I must say, does not hold water.
I saw what I saw.
You saw a mermaid in Texas?
I most certainly did and you can't prove I didn't.
But you can't prove you did.
That's the same as your story and there's no one to vouch for you.
Of course there are, only dozens of girls.
Then tell me again how you do it.
You don't remember what I said?
I remember just fine but I don't take the word of a stranger in a bar the first time.
If you say so.
I do say so.
Like I said I call for room service and when it arrives I look through the peep hole and if it's a woman and she's not too ugly I take off all my clothes and open the door naked.
Totally naked?
Buck and brightly so, in my birthday suit.
And that's how you get girls?
Half the time they smile and then I smile and invite them in, but if they don't smile and they get  scared then I tell them I just woke up and hadn't realized I wasn't dressed--I'm a great and convincing apologizer--but those room service girls are always so willing and grateful.
Well you told it just the same so maybe I shouldn't doubt you as much.
And the mermaid?
Well she couldn't be anything else and she's all I got.
Then, sir, I shall allow you possession of your water nymph.
My what?
Nothing, good man, nothing at all.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Sabine Baring-Grould


Two Americas

Both are blinded
In the gluttony
Sour odor of cigarettes and bourbon
On the Strip.
Jewelry laden
Plump couple
Clown makeup
Leggings and boots
Holding hands
Eating from bowls of frozen yogurt
Topped with fudge and Butterfinger crumbs.
They push past a
Shriveled old man
Sitting in the corner at the
Sports book
Counting his coins and
Sucking his cheeks,
Praying that Detroit will score
One more run
Before he heads to his apartment
Behind the pawnshop.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix 



I sulk in the backyard
Fuming over injustice
And not getting anywhere with
It grows dark,
No moon to offer faint outlines of objects,
The blackest night I can remember.
I turn on the small outside light above the back door,
Which casts a dim glow over the small patch of grass,
Comforting to feel a sense of place.
I curl up on the warped plastic lounge chair,
Startled by the bugs that slam into the naked bulb.
Relentless, moths and beetles coalesce from the ether,
Appearing from nowhere
To attack the light.
They charge the faux fire,
Flailing their sturdy bodies
Over and over,
Bouncing away, buzzing, dizzy,
Then back again for more
Until their tiny energies drain
Or their soft parts stick to the light and sizzle.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix 



Reading this is evidence
That you're looking for something,
That you're searching between the simple words
For a message,
For a scrap of humanity,
For an insight that relates to your
Own life.
But all you'll ever find is
Lurking here,
Looking at my reflection,
Digging up some honesty,
Throwing light on an emotion,
Real or imagined,
Even just a trick,
Throwing them on the page
Undisguised by language needing to be
But you'll keep reading,
Hoping for a glimpse of
That will provide you the gift of an ah-ha moment.
If you find it,
It's your own creation,
Because I'm not here for you.
I'm barely here for myself.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Mr. Penney

Poppy was from a small village near Minsk,
And then a grocer in a small Memphis shop
Already then in the bad part of town.
They called him
Mr. Penney,
The prior owner's name.
His father, a peddler, pushed a cart through town and
Died before anyone could remember.
Grandma wore an apron,
Helped stock the few shelves,
Canned goods, meats, cigarettes.
They figured out how to
Make a living
And three boys
Who had the freedom to
Grow up in black and white America
And away from them,
To speak without accents,
Obedient and deferential.
Poppy died from tired lungs and a weak heart,
Grandma from too much caring and a broken one.
I carry the torch for them
So my children, less one,
Will visit Minsk one day to
Discover everything lost to hate,
And visit me
Memorializing Mr. Penney.

© Poem Fix 2012



I forget my password.
All my data, information, websites, life,
Why can't I remember it?
It is specific and unique to me,
I try all my usual passwords.
None of them work.
Letter and number combinations,
Old addresses and phone numbers,
Names of favorite fictional characters.
I recall that it was a meaningful word phrase,
The first letters of words in a long sentence
I would never forget.
Why can't I remember it?
Is it because nothing is meaningful to me?
That my life has been reduced to a sentence that isn't worth evocation?
Reduced to a feeble living existence that can
No longer be measured.
Not even a simple catch phrase or nursery rhyme.
Unable to define myself,
I panic and worry I'm not worthy and
May not exist.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Harem of Witnesses

If Joseph Smith can create a religion
So can I.
Take no offense,
But I find it hard to believe he dug up
Golden plates in the 1820s
In upstate New York.
Still, faith is faith,
It doesn't matter what I think.
I have no quarrel with anyone who believes in
Things that can never be proven
As long as they behave themselves.
We honor Muslim believers,
But not those who bastardize it,
Murder randomly.
We love our Catholic friends,
But not the Cardinals who abuse young boys.
I'll start my own religion,
One based on eating
Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms
And banning political party affiliation.
I'll carve the creed on golden bricks,
Show them to everyone,
Then cash them at a bank and buy a glorious house of worship,
Broadcast sermons and raise money,
Buy a mega yacht and
Live forever
Among my harem of witnesses.
We all require something to believe in
When our sports teams are losing.
We need comfort, understanding,
Someone to listen to us during dark hours.
I will be the founder of a new spiritual belief system
That in a hundred years
Will be ridiculed and reviled.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: C.C.A. Christensen


Ice Cubes

She's gone when I get home.
No note,
But I know she's not returning
Because she told me so
And there's a large emptiness in the closet.
I pour myself a drink
Sit on the couch
Listen to the air conditioner's whine
Try to imagine what the next half hour will be like
And the next one.
I think about the bed
Its expansiveness
Afraid it will swallow me.
The quiet that strikes me,
How hollow it is,
A black hole
Sucking time and mind.
I fill my glass and am alarmed when the ice cubes slam against each other
Like we used to
This will be a long night,

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Benobeno



The man next to me on the plane is sleeping
Trapping me in the window seat.
The urge to pee begins to
I work to ignore it and
Refuse a drink from the whispering flight attendant
For fear it will worsen my condition.
I am sure he will wake soon,
Can't snooze coast to coast.
At least he's a quiet sleeper,
No snores,
No drool.
His head, beanie pulled down over his eyes,
Is turned toward me,
Mouth slightly open.
I don't fault him for his rest,
But am annoyed he never turned off his phone,
As if it would actually bring down the plane.
I think about maneuvering over him,
Stepping carefully, balancing, trying not to wake him.
I doubt that will work.
The bathroom open light is illuminated,
Taunting me with promise.
Still, I wait,
My eyes filling,
Staring into my anonymous companion's
Open mouth.

© Poem Fix 2012 
 Photo: Poem Fix


Can I Call You Back?

Mom, I'm at dinner right now.
Can I call you back?
No, really, now's not a good time.
So I'll call you later, OK?
Why would you say that?
Of course I'm not trying to blow you off.
I'm just busy right now.
You heard me say that, right?
It would be rude of me because . . .
No one you would know, Mom.
A friend.
What do you mean what kind of friend?
Oh jeez, really?
Just a friend.
Let's leave it at that for now.
No, Mother, I am not hiding anything.
Nothing's wrong.
Listen, Mom, I'm going to hang up now.
Did you hear me?
You're not listening to me, as usual.
Mom? Mom?
Why are you getting upset?
Your voice, Mom.
I can tell you're upset.
OK then, you're not upset.
No, I haven't heard from Jacqui, not today.
Is that what you needed so desperately to know?
There's nothing bad between us.
I talked to her yesterday,
If you most urgently need to know.
Yes, Mom, I know she's my sister.
Yes, I know she's the only one I have.
Yes, I love her, too.
You don't have to worry.
But I have to go now, Mom.
I really do, OK?
Yes, I promise to call you later.
Yes, I totally promise.
I won't forget.
I love you, too, Mom.

© Poem Fix 2012 
 Image: William Shew


Mad Men

Money back

© Poem Fix 2012



Two drinks and
I'm goofing off,
Showing how I can
Balance on the rail.
Then I slip and
I'm underwater,
In stars,
Suffocating and swallowing cold water,
Uncertain which way is up.
I find air and catch my breath,
Awareness coming back to me
And I see the lumbering cruise ship already far in  the distance.
I hear some vague yelling.
I think, They'll come back for me,
As panic sets in and the chill tugs at my skin.
I wonder how long I can tread water,
And how fast the ship can turn
To find me in the black.
I look up at the sky,
Encountering its magnificence,
As it and Triton encircle,
Welcoming me.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Bartjk


Big Man

Private equity banker
Big man
Very rich,
Looks down while
At the urinal,
Sighs at what
Nature has given him,
Not fair
Cruel trick of fate.
He thinks:
If anyone should be well endowed,
It should be me.
He shakes what he has,
Chooses not to wash his hands,
Goes back to the board room,
Gives everyone a difficult time
To compensate.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Reginald Gray


The Disappearing Man

The small circus sideshow came to town,
Speaking to me with its freaks,
Magic women,
Worldly men,
Promise of adventure and transfiguration.
I did not tell my parents when I
Slipped from my bedroom and
Followed the caravan when it left,
Jumping on the last wagon driven by
Errol the Strongman
Who had an intricate tattoo of a red dragon on his arm,
The creature's tail curling around his fat bicep,
Disappearing up his shoulder and down his neck
Into a thick forest of wild hair.
He slowed the wagon so I could pull myself up
As he mumbled, Another one, then rode on.
I was thrown from one task to another,
Cleaning animal cages,
Oiling the bearded lady's combs,
Supporting the barker,
Taking tickets at the ring toss,
And was lured to the many tents where the gypsies
And the Romanian Dwarf Girl
Demanded to sample me.
After a time I became permanently assigned to the
Disappearing Man,
A small sparsely attended attraction
On the fringe of the circus.
Each night, the skinny old man,
Clad only in a loincloth,
Set himself on fire and vanished in a strobe of
Three sulfuric smoke rings that rose to the roof and dissipated.
He confided in me one day,
Claiming he was tired of burning and fading,
That his life had become an endless circle of
Exploding identities.
I was forced to take his place when he did not return to life after the show that evening.
I lost myself in a spade of
Promiscuity, inked arms and waves of
Appearing and disappearing,
Being and not being,
And of never learning the trick of
How to avoid being singed by the flames.

© Poem Fix 2012


Put Down

The horse with a limp needs to be
Put down.
The noisy president from that threatening Western Asia country deserves to be
Put down.
The telephone land line should be abandoned and
Put down
Like the once dominant Blackberry that is already being
Put down.
The boy band of the day is required to be
Put down.
Finnegan's Wake is unreadable and a book to be
Put down.
Pictures of food on Twitter should be outlawed and
Put down.
Critics who say that Jackson Pollock's paint dripping canvases are great art should be
Put down.
People who mistake sex for love will eventually be
Put down.
Those who are intolerant of other's failings can be
Put down.
People who are not honest should be
Put down, just as
the anger in this prose should be
Put down.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Britannica