Tuesday, November 26, 2013


These shifts are routine:
common room wipe down,
logs, laundry, shredder.

The routine is tradition, dogma. 
Unquestioned monotony:
the rhythm of the graveyard shift.

Midway through the logs
a youth wanders in,
shoes off and dressed.

Sprawled out on the couch
in the common room.
Not in a bed in his room.

I rolled my eyes,
put down my pen,
and left the office.

The laundry would have to wait.
Interruptions. At this rate
the shredding won't happen till 5.

Hey man--you're not asleep.
I am astute. People skills.
I work in social services.

Having trouble sleeping?
I have degrees in my field.
A highly qualified individual.

Yeah, just thinking
about how to save the world.
Sometimes I love my job.

Awkward Lovers

Strays prowl our yard, drawn by rats 
drawn by over-ripe apples lingering on 
tired branches or broken on unkempt lawn. 

The half-wild felines shout love songs 
down the alley. The rats shake in trees. 
Frightened to come down. The cats are tolerated.

I know one stray. A two-tone malnourished creep 
comes out of the hedge when I walk to the bus. 
He hollers raspy complaints in until I pause, 

then pushes against my calf. 
Leaves behind chunks of fur. 
He's an awkward lover. 

Yesterday he played Santa. An iridescent corpse 
sat outside my backdoor. Missing an eye, 
it's wing half-opened and bent. 

This was no easy catch. It was a swallow. 
A jet. Cutting through the morning 
swooping low over lawns at dusk. 

The gift was art. A sonnet.
The product of craft and admiration. 
I stared down, thought about misplaced affection. 

I wished he had brought it to another house; 
one with time for a cat; one that could adopt 
a stray and appreciate his craft. 

I wondered what the cat expected of me. 
Was he watching? Hoping? I sighed.
The gesture was sweet, but...

I went back inside to find the broom and dust-pan. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Poem for My Dad

I even miss his halitosis:
turning my nose
straight out the window
on drives to the supermarket.

The angry conversation
with TV news anchors—
the twits who could not
pronounce Pasa Robles.

Pacing the sidelines
of JV football games
wearing his fanny-pack
screaming at unpaid referees.

All the small annoyances
only family can have: fights
with a decade of back-story
occasioned by garage organization.

No one will ever get under my skin
in the same mysteriously visceral way—
or force the teeth-grinding, fist-clenched
response: God damn-it Dad,

I miss you!