FLATLINE

When my mother was dying, she was hooked up to an electrocardiogram to measure her heart’s journey.

I sat for hours watching her life’s story ebb and flow, a steady list of emotional measurements.

There is my victorious son, there my disappointing daughter. 

Here are my successes, there my failures.

And then the tale flatlined.

Now I am in the hospital room with you, watching the nurse set up your machine.

She whacks the side, frustrated by technology and its power.

I see lasered punctuation marks blip and bop all over the monitor:  question marks, commas, colons, exclamation points.

You are filled with enigma, plasma, and conundrum.

This is way too much passion and life for a single machine to measure or a solo heart to hold.

When the nurse leaves, satisfied with her skills, and you fall asleep, exhausted from your life, I remove the tentacles of the electrocardiogram off your body onto mine.

A single name, bold-faced and all in caps, scrolls straight across the screen.

What are my chances now, I wonder.

Copyright 2010

RECYCLED MATERIAL

I hate you.

Don’t think I don’t see you there, in the back of my mind, looking all comfortable and relaxed in the recliner of my memory.

I hate you…

And the way you get the smoke from your fancy French cigarettes to curl up into the cursive of your name and waft over my dreams until I wake up with the nightsweats from the very smell of you.

Did I mention that I hate you?…

Especially when you jump up and give me that irritating thumb and forefinger on your forehead when I am on a date with yet another incomplete loser.

I think I hate that reminder the most.

I really should issue an emotional subpoena to evict you from my senses, kick you to the curb with your jammed-up boxes of good times and other useless  junk.

But instead I think I’ll just let you stay there, in the back of my mind, while I slowly bury you under the debris of yet another poem.

Copyright 2010

TIED TOGETHER

Scarf.

It is such a horribly perfect word,

sharp in looks, staccato in speech.

Scarf. Scarf.

Somewhere in the tundra wasteland,

a voodoo juju mama coughs up this sound,

catches it like a spiky iceball

in ancient frozen fingers,

watches as it melts

into the slush of possibility.

Scarf.

She knits the word with icicle needles,

spins it into sleet and snow,

fashions it into a barren icon.

Scarf. Scarf.

The arctic blast answers her call,

grabs her creation,

holds it aloft, a glacial banner.

Winter screams its battle cry,

terrorizing autumn,

intimidating spring,

waving scarf as its flag of dominion

as I kiss you goodbye,

tying a red woolen scarf

around your naked neck.

SLICE OF REDEMPTION

I am in a state of grace.

You cannot mock my shoes, judge my haircut, or indicate disdain when I gargle my words before speaking…all because I am in a constant state of grace.

No collective finger of shame can push me off balance or cause me to falter at the center, for I am in an amazing state of grace.

I have feasted on redemption cake for breakfast, followed by a farewell kiss from you.

My state of grace grows infinite.

As I put on my hat full of hallelujah, I pet salvation’s loyal head as he sleeps by the door, already anticipating my victorious return.

Full of cake, kiss, and charisma, I head on out, a born-again hero in an ordinary world.

Copyright 2010

HALLELUJAH WEEK – 1524

The Medici have headed to the south of France for a family reunion.

It will be a week-long Renaissance picnic of ribald merriment, volleyball, group photos, and intrigue.

All the thieving aunts, murderous uncles, despot grandfathers, and illegitimate cousins will swing down from the family tree to pitch tents in the countryside, roast infidels around the campfire, and jockey for supremacy under the stars.

If you are a Christian, yet alone a Medici, in the 16th Century, the world is your proverbial stained-glass oyster.

And while the Medici frolic, plot, and cavort, the reigning Pope adjusts his rocket-shaped mitre and passes his golden shepherd’s staff rhythmically from hand to hand like a ballroom dandy.

It is good to be pope, especially in the Renaissance:   artists are ripe for the plucking, money is no object, and God calls all the shots.

Being the pipeline to eternal salvation carries its perks.

The Pope is off for a week-long tour of mausoleums, basilicas, and gelato.

Building monuments to oneself on behalf of the All-Mighty is such an awesome mission statement.

The Pope whistles “Salve Regina” as he locks the door to the Vatican.

Michelangelo holds his breath.

Can it be?

Have the dual handcuffs of politics and religion slipped off his wrists, if only for a week?

He lets out a hoarse whisper of “Hallelujah” and begins to run.

He jets down the stairs, sails down the streets, beehives to his studio.

The musk of creativity spews off his body and fills the darkened room to every cobwebbed corner.

Time stands still as he strips the Madonna of her beatific smile, hurls the apple out the garden of Eden, and wildly massacres form and function into color and passion.

He has one week to truly live.  

He has waited and prayed for this moment every day of his life.

Throwing open the wooden shutters, he comes face to face with his soul for the very first time.

Copyright 2010

INNATE LOVE

Did you know that I loved you long before I knew you?

I used to feel your tentative tugs at the edges of my life, your placid attempts to somehow slip inside my heart.

But I was so transfixed by the fierce force of my own nature, that I smudged the fingerprints you placed on my heart and bit your name off the tip of my tongue.

My life became an infinite search for your phantom familiarity as I wandered like a pariah, mute to my own language, using just memory to question your name.

All I could remember was that I loved you long before I knew you…and that was enough when you finally found me.

A GOOD DAY TO SEND THE BUDDHA FLYING

Baby Buddha sits on my dashboard in an infinite state of contemplation.

Don’t think that I don’t see him out of my peripheral vision as a single acceleration begins my long day’s journey into work.

Whether I drive five meandering miles per hour or a psychotic eighty makes no difference to the Buddha.

He is The Teacher, stable in serenity, unmoved in meditation.

Even when I am cut off in traffic and explosions of expletives detonate all over Mount Honda, the Baby Buddha sits safely encased in his protective zone of zen.

His integrity and grace annoy and unnerve me.

That is why I slam on the brakes for no good reason, sending the Baby Buddha flying out of his lotus position, sprawling out onto the floor.

I cannot help but smirk as I hear the irritated whisper of a tiny:  “What the hell?!”

Copyright 2010

GOURMET GRIEF

He was once her personal chef, handpicking only the sweetest unripened words, drizzling them with lover’s honey until his fingers became as sticky as the succulent phrases he fed her.

Her appetite for the cuisine of amor was whetted by his experimentation and experience.

She could have cared less about the calories. 

It was the fact that he cooked up such delicious poetry just for her that made her hungry.

Each morsel of endearment he fed her was marinated in metaphor, each flute of passion he poured was aged in imagery.

Their life together was a feast of infinite preparation and consumption.

But, as with fine wine and food, it is possible to become sated on epircurean love sonnets.

It wasn’t long before the exotic spices he pinched over his nouns upset her delicate system.

It was just a question of when before his intricate, intimate sauces became bland and mundane to an overstimulated palate.

And that is the moment when she started sneaking out at midnight for greasy slang and polyunsaturated cliches.

The heartburn made her feel alive.

She left one day for a busboy who constantly cleared away her half-eaten sentences and kept her spirit immaculately empty.

And the chef?

He sits alone in his gourmet studio now, concocting linguistic linguine and other entrees of gastronomical grammar.

There are still so many figures of speech to be baked, puree’d, and served on a bed of passionate verbs.

But there is no lover to feed anymore, no significant other to marvel at his magic.

The studio steams with the savory smell of tonight’s spicy syntax…all that delicious language just going to waste.

He sighs as he turns on the garbage disposal and forces his unwanted poetry deep down the drain.

Copyright 2010

PANE

When I am with you, I am glass, trapped in the vapor between solid and liquid.

Whisper to me and I transform from bottle to bowl.

Touch me and my transparency shatters.

I am your amorphous solid, defying science, dependent on love.

When I am with you, I am glass, an altered state of being…when I am with you.

Copyright 2010

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS…AH, SHOOT!

I am rock, always rock – hard, dependable, keeper of history.

You are inconsistent.

Sometimes you are scissors, sharp and cutting.

Sometimes you are paper, translucent and enfolding.

Our past means little to you; it’s all about the pleasure of defeat.

We have played this game many times before but you have finally realized just how to win.

As long as you cover my intransgience with your volatility, I will always be your perfect loser.

Copyright 2010