Thursday, February 28, 2013


Some passing thoughts on the events at work is only a grieving for the passing of notes in fifth grades when the two sisters were turned to the blackboard chalking up the High Math of The Second Coming.

It was a note Tony Graciano  penned saying that after school he was going to kick my ass because I slammed his hand in the cloak room door .I looked at Tony behind me, the note under the desk,
and he was smiling the best his gummless mouth could manage, vapors of bacon and death on his breath.

“Would you like to share that with every one, Ted?” keened a voice, piercing with a hint of whistle swirling around each slippery  ’s’ that slid against the tongue to the enamel of each capped tooth .Sister Marie, basketball tall and looking grim as grime in her stiff, consigned vestments, held out her hand, wrinkled and thick veined at the knuckles, demanding to see the note .I looked up at her, knowing   God sees everything on a too-big TV screen as wide as the sky, and then handed the note up to her.

Her. long fingers wrapped around the paper like a satchel of loving snakes.

I remember from the fourth grade that Tony had said he wanted to be a writer when asked
by a lait teacher what he wanted to be when he grew up. Why, asked the teacher, and Tony enthused over the adventure stories he liked too read, and that he wanted to write his own someday that’d be even more terrific.

Terrific, said the Teacher, Then you ought to take pride to signing your name one everything to write from now on. Tony beamed  that same gummless grin and nodded his head rapidly as though he’d just snapped a spring.

Sister Marie held Tony’s note in front of her face, an inch from her thick-lenses glasses that made her eyes seem to bulge frog like, and read the words quietly, a silent mutter moving her lips. Her face, already creased and lined with years of pure Catholic rapture, hardened even more as she lowered the paper and stared over and past me down the aisles of neatly lined school desks, her eyes finally stopping where Tony sat.

A vein popped out on her forehead. I looked back and saw Tony looking back at the sister with an innocent expression only guilty could provide. Sister Marie didn’t let him say a word.

“Mr. Graciano, into the hail, pleases, and bring your books with you” 

She walked up the aisle briskly, as Tony stood after closing his books, and turning around for a good view, all I could see was the broad sweep of her water blue cloak spread like Superman’s’ cape that seemed to absorb Tony in whole. Next I remembered the classroom door slamming, and then there was silence, one nun and a class of scared kids observing
a ceremonial gravity. It was as though Tony had not been in the class at all, not even on the planet.

Sister John Mark, whose name I never understood, picked up a rubber tipped pointer and said “We must be well behaved when we’re learning of the good news of Christ.”

Cactus Shadow (for Edward Dorn, 1929-1999)

The gun, never fired,
smokeless in its silver plated life,
is under glass,
under the dust, rust and
severing the trigger from the firing pins,
 and there’s someone laughing
in the other room, and old man with a broom and a bucket,

Something is just live long enough to rust and fade
and become part of the forgiving earth again—
I wish I were that man on the phone, laughing,
because then, maybe
there’d be something funny enough to laugh about
in this life that is fine as far as it goes but sometimes

Just has me staring at another set of things,
 free of human intervention, running down in their assemblages, their soldered being,

All moving parts become stuck , and break off,
Ed Dorn won’t be twirling the gun or turning the phrase anymore from the side of a dirt road, draped in a cactus shadow where La Jolla greets with open palms,
 the sky is closed for repairs,

There are smoke signals from hills where the big houses are , the land stretches forever after the images fall off the edge of the earth, what ever it is we were driving at,
It means that all the love stops when we’re no longer here to arrange the furniture, its no longer about us , but about the room we died in, what ever gets discovered on a desk, a shelf, old cups or rusty guns hanging from nails in the pantry.

Bus Boy

The night finds a pitch
In the buzz and fizz of
unnatural light shining
by cords over dirty lunch counters.

Count the money and
make the change, you feel
deranged and defanged
as the blades of the spinning fan
creates a slashing shadow
that cuts across the room,
Darkness falls on ashtrays
And the runny yoke
Of eggs over easy.

Dream for a moment of
music from the dishwasher’s station,
Sad guitar strums, a farina organ,
lovely women in long red dresses
cooing to you in Spanish,
a comb falls from her hair,
yes, her with the brown eyes
and lips red as rubies under
glass and stage lighting,
she says
“Pick up on number 5”.

Pick up your feet
and dream a retreat to
other lands another time,
bus stations are over flowing
with dishes rather than wishes,
it’s wise to stack the plates
and sort the forks from the knives,
all the wives the contrary world
stare daggers at husbands
who only poke their food
kids who spoke too soon
get slapped and water spills
across the  thrills of  driving

 across the state,
We need pads of butter
and clean monkey dishes
and a bladder of milk
in the machine, we never close
and driving this time of night
in this country
just keeps the stomach
growling with it’s fill
of empty threats.

Banana Boat with Watches

Each sunset is payday at the docks
When the boats have unloaded

Nets full of fruit and boxes of watches,
The glasses you wear make your face

Seem electronic and full of stray pixels,
That‘s when I go to work and roll over

and pretend to sleep when whistles blow,
What blows is working for loveless cash rewards,

What’s in the nets, what lurks in the boxes
Is a guess answered only by thieves when

They work overtime against a woeful wind
Of the watch they’re stealing, and the next

Day all that remains are banana peels and
Apple cores falling from nets, into my lunch box

Apartment Life

Perfectly fine
and tied in a tether
of dead quiet
in a small room
where we've
a rift with rehearsed dictions,
our fictions drive us crazy.

You're building
set models
for stage productions,
I type paragraphs
regarding glaciers and grime,
we've seen how the
sofa divides the room
like halves of the same brain
that's stopped sharing
what it knows.

Not a stick is touched,
there's not a dry glass in the house,
everything that is old
is wrong again.
During sleepless and stale sadness,
I hear the witless irony
and cringe in make believe shivers.
A branch breaks off from
a tree outside, crashes
to the patio, giving way
at the lightest caress of
incidental wind.
The goddamned thing just gave out.

And into dreams that come I think
that there's nothing wrong, women are bitches,
and I shake with fever,
I sleep for hours under a flashlight moon.