Old Money, New Whiskey

I bring my whiskey to check out.
The liquor store clerk is upset.
He says, You bought that last time
There's a world of amazing whiskey out there
You should never buy the same brand twice
Until you've tried them all.
But I like this one.
He takes the bottle from me.
He says, That's no excuse
You can't have it
Choose another.
He motions at a top shelf
Where a dozen strange whiskey brands
Stand tall
Certainly expensive.
He looks at me in a superior way.
He says, They're only a few dollars more
That's nothing for a true whiskey connoisseur
Like yourself.
I feel harshly judged.
He takes a fancy bottle down and says
You need to buy this one
I'm telling you
If you go through life not sampling them all
Then how do you know what you're missing
Because the one you don't try might turn out to be
Your favorite.
But the one I want is already my favorite
That's why I came in here.
He looks at me hard and says
How do you know
How do you know anything?
I feel naked.
He says, Buy this one
I'm telling you.
Beaten and bullied,
I lay down old money for new whiskey
Take the nectar home and find it
Sweet and smoky heaven.

© Poem Fix 2012


Requisite Haiku

Lost poem to cyber
Vanished, dead and forgotten
Quick, the clock turns back

© Poem Fix 2012


Five Red Doors

Out my window
Across the street
Five red doors
Yell fire.
Five red doors
And steps for escape
Pushing out into the world
Don't miss me
Come to me
Five red doors
Sirens calling
Looking south in silence
Quiet mouths
Longing to open
Engulf you.
Step outside the
Five red doors
To smoke and chill and
Talk in private
To push your lover flat
And fall into crimson.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Three Drinks

Three drinks
And I know it's time to stop
Maybe one more
Big mistake
Guy in the corner plays guitar
Voice too high
Now a Bill Withers song
Still too shrill
Am I the designated driver?
Better stop now
Down the road
Another bar
To find a way to sobriety
Why don't I feel cold?
A two-step plays
Let's chase each other around the room tonight
While fat old cowboys glide around the floor
Seeming content and happier
Than I can remember
Hold it together man

C 2012 PoemFix


Animal Mortality

If we are the only animal that knows
Its own mortality
Then what to make of the mother gorilla
Who cradles her dead baby
Elephants that nudge the bones of dead relatives
Giraffes that won't abandon a corpse
Grief or curiosity
Puzzlement or reflection
If they know death
Is it the same as ours
Do they understand aging or illness
Consider the possible outcomes
Fragility of time
Do they prepare, fret, deny
Embrace darkness when it appears friendly
Are they ready as some humans
Or lash out against nature
Rude and intemperate

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Nevit Dilmen



Unshaven man with one tooth
Challenges me to a
Game of 8 ball.
He has shaky hands
Watery eyes
Tired look that says
I can take him.
I down my fifth beer
Break the balls
Claim stripes
Finish him off
Before the next round comes.
He rests the cue on the table 
Says good game
That I shouldn't worry about life so much.
He disappears before I challenge him on that.
I sit heavily on the stool
Eat the orange slice
Wonder which of my teeth
Will go first.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo:  Poem Fix


Owning You

Hurry up, will you?
We'll take all the time we want
It's in our interest. 
But you?
Lego, pawn, interchangeable
Jump when we say jump
We have money to make
You're moderately in the way
Snap to it
And turn the lights off
On your way out

C 2013 Poem Fix



The other team scores.
Last moment's elation
A field goal pretty much
Ends the season.
From coast to coast
In every home
Our demise is witnessed
Over gravy.
Near humiliation
Heading home to turkey and smiles
Shake it off
Carve the bird in silence
Thinking of the play that
Turned the game
Makes me want this holiday to end.
No thanks
Another game
Another failure
Another game next week
But those own me in fantasy are winners.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: NFL


Thanksgiving 2012

There will be no Thanksgiving at their house
Turkey, yes
But no bowing heads at a table
No taking turns to relate personal gratitude.
In their home
Gloom pervades from upstairs
Insulates everyone from
Pilgrim worship.
Someone may still cook a bird
Make stuffing
Serve cranberries
Try to force a little cheer
But darkness has taken hold in that unassuming house
Yielding only to time and Febreze
If there is thanks to be given
Let a glimmer of it find its way there
Even if it is just a dusting of empathy or hope.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Marjory Collins, Farm Security Administration


He Said

Everything is a compromise with women
Which is how I guess it's supposed to be
But that doesn't make it any less
It always starts so nice
With lust and sex and longing and
All things nasty and fantastic
But it never stays that way
Before you know it you're arguing
About what kind of soap to buy.
They try to change you
Brush crumbs from your face
Dress you
Get annoyed when you fart
When it used to sort of
Turn them on,
A predictable arc from
Discovery to concession
From earlobes to
Taking the phone off the hook for a week.
I wonder what I've left at her apartment
That I'll never have the courage to retrieve.

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo: Sam Smith


She Said

Sebastian hasn't called in a week
Which is the same amount of time
I haven't called him
So it's a stalemate.
Each day this goes on the
Longer it goes on
But I'm putting my foot down this time
And I'm ready for it to end
If it comes to that.
I love him
And sometimes I feel he sees it, too
But the disagreement
The stupid disagreement
Over what I don't even want to acknowledge
OK it was about the soap
And now it's come to this
And our lives are slipping away because of
Stupid things like pride
Or something resembling it.
Maybe he called but my phone didn't receive it
That happens sometimes
Technology isn't perfect
So now he might think I'm purposely avoiding him
Which I'm not.
I'd just about take his call than anyone's.
Maybe he's out ring shopping all this time.
I can think of a lot of things to delude myself.
Why would anyone be attracted to me in the first place?
There's nothing likeable or beautiful about me
I'm certain of that
But there are some things I do well.
I'll just sit here and wait
Stare at the phone and will it to ring.

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo:  Holger Ellgaard


Postcard Oceans

There's a funeral this morning
Shower and shave
Offer respect
Black suit
Tissues in pocket
Comfort for others
The sky is as bright and blue as it is possible
The azure of postcard oceans
Exposed and full and ready to
Open heaven
With angels and trumpets and
Automatic entrance
We will look down at the
Open earth
Wonder when we will join him
If the bread truck is speeding around the corner
To knock us underground
Hold hands
Then walk away
Get in the car
Drive back to the
Rest of the day
Then tomorrow
The petty things we discover and
Make important

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo:  Poem Fix


How to Kill a Mouse

I captured a mouse in my pantry
Cornered on a shelf
Excited, nervous
I brought a plastic kitchen trashcan to the edge
Goaded him (her?) to the ledge with threat of a
Large can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin on the right
And a box of granulated sugar on the left
Nowhere to go
Clearly frightened
The mouse fell into the trashcan
Looking small and defeated
Cowering at the bottom
My brother once told me that one mouse
Turns into a hundred more
That drowning them is
Fast, efficient, humane
So I took the trashcan outside
Its passenger quiet and curled
Filled it halfway with water from a hose
The mouse struggled mightily
After a while it gave up
Dropped from the surface
Eyes bulging like a cartoon
Bubble rising from its mouth
I spilled the trashcan on the driveway too late
Nudged the lifeless rodent with my shoe
Its soul had fled
I scooped him up with a piece of cardboard
Threw him in the bushes
With what was left of my innocence

© Poem Fix 2012


Muse No X

Aretha Franklin
The Beatles
Cheap Trick
David Forman
Elvis Costello
Frank Sinatra
Green Day
Harry Nilsson
John Prine
The Kills
Lucinda Williams
Mavis Staples
Nick Lowe
Otis Redding
Paul Simon
Randy Newman
Talking Heads
Van Morrison
Warren Zevon
ZZ Top

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Michael Maggs


The Color of My Life

The white kids in class
Call me their token black
Or a word not so kind
And point to me as proof
We're integrated
But one black boy doesn't
Cut it.
They recruit me for basketball
Another form of slavery
So I wipe my sweat on them and
Drunk the ball over their too small hands.
Girls corner me behind the cafeteria
Make me pull down my pants
To see if it's true
Which it is
But they are scared of me
Or their parents are.
Teachers are proud to have me
Like a cut that needs a Band-Aid.
I don't know what my parents are thinking
Or what they intend to prove
Through me.
I just want to get educated
Get a job one day.
Mr. Drearson says not to let it get me down
To wear my darkness proudly.
He is trying to make a point with me
Which I appreciate
But he does it to get closer to god
Or the person he thinks he should be.
He cares enough OK
But he should stick to geometry
And leave the part that is the color my life
To me.

 © Poem Fix 2012
Image:  John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration



For now
I am satisfied to be his eyes
My horse
Way to the world
An equal partner
Fair and just
Was I made for him?
My limbs are useless
His are strong
Rock like, steady
My hands and muscles
A cruel joke
His are youthful
Like his face,
Open, blind, lustful,
Unlike my rotten mask
Together we walk the Levant
Bound together by dreadful truths

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Tancrède Dumas


The Burning of Columbia

When Columbia burns
She burns
Brought to her knees
Given to Sherman
And his unchained
Federal prisoners and
Tasting liberty
Sweet nectar
Glorious emancipation
Anger and vengeance
They tumble and fight
Loot and light
The city with flame
Roiling in high winds
Until a heart of the South
Eclipsed by blood brothers

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: William Waud


A Small Square Inch

There is one small spot
In the middle
On the back of my head
I can never see.
I strain in front of a mirror
Open the medicine cabinet
Strain to keep my neck from turning
But that one area
A small square inch of hair
Remains forever hidden from me
Like the far side of the moon
I shouldn't care about this spot
But having never seen it
I wonder if it's really there
Or if there's a reason it is so elusive
Which makes me want to discover it
Even more so
So much a part of me
Yet always away
Behind me
On me
Like a carbuncle
A scab I yearn to rip off

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Walters Art Museum


But For a Gold Mine

I can sense the end is near
I'm ready
Bring it
Comforting and comfortable
I've lived enough lives
To make up for all my sins
I embrace them all
Gladly owned
I am a collector
So I hold this globe
Willing it to be the last thing I see
The last thing I touch
My life
Good and evil
I might have been a great man
But for a gold mine
Now all I have are these memories
Longings for love, achievement, a childhood sled
The nostalgia of lost innocence 
With effort I can look out the window
At my huge world
But this small snow globe will do
It's everything

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: © Turner Home Entertainment


I'm Smart

Paulie's sick
So I drive papa to town
Where he stops at the office and
Gathers oranges and a green pepper.
Now he's sprawled on his side
Red flowing from so many holes
While I sit on the curb
Watch my world fall away
My brain swelling
Now the others have confirmation of my weakness
They think I'm mentally handicapped
I'm not dumb
I'm smart
But that's only hearsay now
Because everyone's great man
My papa
Has fallen.
I can't, is all I can say
Because that's my life
My future.
I can't.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: © Paramount Pictures


It Really Was No Miracle

I open the door
The world is in color
Frightening and pastel
Creepy little people bend and bow
In broad lapels
Pointed hats
Tall striped socks
Hiding behind a bubble
A pink woman
With jewels on her head and neck
The tiny humanoids dance around and
Praise me for murder

© Poem Fix 2012


The Heroic Weather Conditions of the Universe, Parts 1 and 2

Starts with solitary high notes
A whistle sound
Metronome up and down
A music box plays somewhere
Ballerina twirling around in pink
Her white slippers trailing behind her
A counterweight melody forces its way in
Blocks tap to emphasize playful tension
We are waiting for the organ, welcome
Surprised when the huge bells take over
Relieved when they fall to the wood blocks
Familiar, comfortable
Whistling that leads into the horns
And a bank of singers who make it real,
Surprising us with their humanity and
The second time around a banjo takes it up
While the xylophone has its moment
Harps let us know there's an angel somewhere
But they disappear when violins are plucked
Like clockwork
We feel that something important is happening.

© Poem Fix 2012


The Last Time I Saw Richard

The last time I saw Richard
Isn't a Joni Mitchell song
It was when he put on his
Yellow scarf
And looked at me
As if I were death,
Like I'd done something
Horrible to him,
Which I had, in a way
But no one deserves that glare
Fierce and scornful
Like a Kabuki mask
But the memory of his flesh is still there at night
I think of him with nostalgia
As if everything we ever had
Was theater.

© Poem Fix 2012 
Japanese woodblock print by Torii Kiyotada VII 



The child eats dirt
It tastes like home
Or an imagined home
Where there are no orphans.
Earth is organic and
He carries vials of
Sweet topsoil
In his backpack
Hoping for seasons and

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Carla Antonini


Second Thought

The beggar is shaking a plastic cup
The coins dancing inside, making music
The lyric says drop money in so I can eat.
I avert my eyes and continue past,
Watching my breath in the cold
Looking back to see the poor man
Sitting on blankets
Still rattling the cup.
I touch my pocket to see if I have change
A quarter or two after my coffee
But I'm already several paces away
And I don't want to backtrack.
Guilt wraps its hands around my neck
Slipping its cold fingers under my scarf
I've been judged.
I double back to where the man sits
Still asking for money, desperate, demeaned.
I stand in front of him to ensure he sees me
Dig the coins out of my pocket
Lean down
Drop them purposefully
One at a time
Inside his cup.
I feel good.
He looks up at me and nods.
He says, I saw you walk by and knew you'd be back.
I turn and move quickly away
Afraid I've been discovered
A fraud
A giver only on second thought.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: John Manuel


Dispatch to Evangeline

I finally muster the courage to
Pass a note to John
Who slips it to Millie
She gives it to Evangeline.
I am attentive to her
Perfectly pressed hair
And that one freckle above her right eyebrow.
I love her
Miss Kenatol is teaching denominators
But I am busy composing my
Dispatch to Evangeline.
It comes out half-hearted
Because revealing the truth to her
Would be admitting it to myself.
So all I can write,
In my neat handwritten scrawl, is
If you like me I will like you back.
John doesn't open the note
But Millie takes a peak,
Wry smile.
Evangeline reads my words,
Looks up
Scans the room
Finds my eyes.
I look down, mortified, embarrassed.
What have I done?
All the blood in my body dissipates.
I bury my head in my arms.
Miss Kenatol asks what's wrong.
I say I'm trying to memorize something,
Which satisfies her.
I see Evangeline write something on my note.
She passes it back to Millie
Who opens and reads it,
Then on to John
Who holds it out to me.
I reach for the talisman,
Bringing it close but not opening it,
Afraid to reveal what's inside.
I don't want to know
Just yet.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: strngwrldfrwl from Japan



I light a candle and
Crap in a Ziploc bag.
The building has no power
No water.
The elevator is stuck in the basement
Half filled with putrid water.
We all meet in 7B at the end the hallway
Because Ed and Jason have the large apartment on the floor.
We each bring a bottle of wine
Sit in their large room
Look out at the dark city.
Red wines mix well.
Soon we're asking Ed and Jason
Intimate questions
Like who's the catcher.
They laugh and say
They both catch.
After a while nothing matters.
We line up the empty wine bottles on the windowsill
Looking like so many dark skyscrapers

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: David Shankbone


In My Backpack

Dell Latitude E4300
Tatiana vanilla flavored cigars
MEElectronics in-ear headphones
The Doctor's Brushpicks
Albuterol spray (two)
Office keys (2)
Loose change
Business cards
Caran d'Ache pen
Lip balm
Fake gold Pirates of the Caribbean medallion
Stolen inside-the-trunk release handle
Walgreens acetaminophen
iPhone earphones
Blackberry earphones
Sprint wi-fi connector
Sans Nom matches
Targus computer remote
Bic lighter
Neomycin and polymyxin B sulfates and dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension
Extra earphone batteries
Audio cable splitter
Thumb drive (2)
Extra earphone buds
Confidential work documents
RollingStone, October 11, 2012
Norwood, by Charles Portis
iPad 2
Moleskine notebook
Drug samples
Breakfast voucher from The National
Notes for a story on Arizona Inn stationery
Unused US Airways Above & Beyond recognition card
Hand-drawn birthday card from daughter ("I love you. You are the best dad in the world.)
Handmade bookmark from daughter
Nintendo DS with Yoshi's Island game card
Son's passport and birth certificate
Hair spray
Fluticasone propionate nasal spray
Aquafresh toothpaste (2)
Lagerfeld classic cologne
Splenda (8)
Stevia in the Raw (2)
Inside a small red pouch: acrylic tooth fairy stone kissed by my mother before she died

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Lonely Sailor

Someone said
A writer writes because he has
No choice.
That it's like breathing,
An involuntary response to
Holding a freshly sharpened pencil
Or sitting at a keyboard,
A disease.
Writers peck at immortality
Flirt with fame
But mostly must be focused on
The next elusive paycheck
From teaching or milking cows.
They write because it's what they do,
Hoping to corral large inspiration to convey small truths,
At best.
Writers yearn for a single gentle reader
Who will say she understands
Even if she doesn't.
Oh, poet,
Lonely sailor,
Lusting for a wind gust
Or a pod of dolphins to show the way.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: anoldent


In Servitude

A very small child came to my house last night
Holding out his bag
Begging for candy
Threatening trick or treat.
He wore black pants
White dress shirt
Skinny black tie
And a sparkling plastic Mitt Romney mask.
He looked up at me
Staring through vacant black eye holes,
Appearing just as spellbound and drugged
As the last missionaries to ring my doorbell.
The child's parents stood smugly on the sidewalk,
Arms folded, proud of their kid's costume
Their idea
Their message to the neighborhood.
No 7-year-olds ask to mock a presidential candidate on Halloween.
None clamor to pose as a Mormon.
They long to be Superman or Spider-Man or Harry Potter.
But this boy, in servitude, was forced to do his
Parents' bidding.
I smiled at the boy
Threw chocolate in his bag
And waved to his parents, pathetic and weak.

© Poem Fix 2012