“Hating yourself,” says the celebrity
shrink, “is classic displacement:
Who you really hate is everybody
else.” But this guy I know — well I
don’t really know him but I know a hawk
from a handsaw, weather permitting.
So this guy, with whom I have some
necessary traffic, seems able to hate himself
with a congenial bile and is supple enough
to hate everyone else with the same ease.
As an earnest young know-it-all, he
fell from a branch, hit his head
and became another kind of know-it-all.
With a little shift in the breeze, instead of a smirk,
he might have discovered gravity.
“Hating yourself,” says the celebrity
The summer bike path, dapple and green.
A biker frightens an ancient couple,
not with speed but a warning
(‘On your left!’). Baggy boys
saunter indolently, waiting for dark.
Vaguely bovine young women herd
by the dozen – same green shirts, same
chubby knees, tied together with
ribbon, bewildered, blinking in the
sunny spaces between the big leaves.
And, O! the runners: Flushed dismal
Lolitas, nether cheeks exposed in shorts
labeled ‘Pink.’ Starving gray Furies
grimly huffing into the foul air.
And the dogs. O, the dogs! Many
tiny, these days, and white. And their
walkers, each with his own plastic bag.
My son is a clock,
sitting at the edge of the mantel
of my life.
His face, beveled by the sun,
glinting with joy,
with a strong base,
legs of cabriole and
gilt eyelashes, blinking off the hours.
Lips an intricate burl
onto rosewood inlay mouth
Hair of chestnut filigree-
a veneer always outshining
But his movement
rusted inside of me or perhaps
God forgot a spring…
his second-hand lags-
his bim-bam off,
not like other clocks-
a constant effort to keep
the pendulum swaying-
A veritable army now,
of horologists keeping him
There is no place in this world
for rusted movements.
So there he sits,
broken boy-clock ornament…
Will he slip off mantel’s edge
or wind himself up like the rest of us?
Only time can tell.
Allowed to choose again, she’d christen me
baby Tabatha, mother proclaimed.
She loved the name, and, hey, you could say
I was kind of a witch. But let it be clear,
mother dear was no sweet Samantha,
though just as many schemes roiled the seams
inside her sleeves, threaded with jealousies,
ambition, an obsessive/compulsive disposition
with a smattering of ADD, some of it passed
down to me, who as a child began to realize
my true potential. There was the episode,
mom insisted I be placed with the gifted kids,
though all my test scores spelled out
a different answer. Snout twitched into more
of a snarl than wiggle, she faced down the vice
principal, and there I was, snap of the fingers
in Mr. Higgle’s advanced class, where,
let’s face it, I was too dumb to contend. Slumped
in the back row, stewing resentment, humiliation
with applied concepts of retaliation aimed
at the baffled teacher who simply ignored me,
I muttered curses, maledictions, conjured
a wish list of afflictions to befall him.
And when word came the man beloved
by his brightest pupils, revered by colleagues
and staff, left for home after last class, and hung
himself from an attic rafter, I stumbled
from school, lungs constricted, legs buckling
into knotted ropes, throat choked with shame,
sat in view of the TV’s canned groans, wrote down
the name of our favorite show, crossed out
the E’s, the W, the D, and renamed myself.
Each day I wear my grief
like metal mesh. I see you
as spirit burdened to speak.
You try to comfort this field
of wounds. You tend the amputees
and bound the screaming with soft song.
But it is hard for you to stay,
to not let go completely into the light.
I let you go. I make this year my bridge.
Though my heart has ruptured and cannot heal,
though forever overcome with this sadness
of our love silenced by brutal, unnamable death,
I will build a new house, dive with both hands
into my yard until the evergreens grow.
I will contain you as more than memory —
in my harvest will bloom many sunflowers
of your great generosity. And your fiery blood
will sprout the roots and flesh of passion fruit.
The maple tree will grow large like you, protecting all
within its strong and tender shadow. And children
will be drawn to this yard, to play there amongst
the tall dramatic grass, and then sit still to watch
with wonder the many shades of sky, reflecting
the warmth of your paternal sun-setting colours.
Winslow Homer: watercolor
Darker shades of
grey on black,
thickening into an
encroachment of night,
on River Thames;
rowers bent about
their last diurnal
task, unaware of
There goes Godzilla, destroying the city.
Again. The glassed in poster in Davis Square
mirrors a see-through phantom me, looking
kind of squirrely as lesbians rattle by like
smug bumper cars and the tattooed man
in the sideshow is every other guy.
“In the Valley of the Lost,” the movie should be.
Reefer drifting like sweet exhaust.
Texters on the street who walk like dreamers.
The indoor life bruited about on the cellular sidewalk,
“Ah don’ care what that ho’ said! That bitch
is dead to me! You know I mean it!” As do we all,
young man, as do we all. Oh where are we?
Tokyo should be so crowded and who is
lonelier in a crowd than Godzilla?
I begin to grow. I begin to change. Hipsters
become alarmed as I become engorged, enlarged,
enhanced, happy. I swing my arm and the
fusion restaurant across the street crumbles.
Like Japanese extras, the ice cream strollers
scramble for safety, wherever that may be,
stumbling over each other (and their little dogs, too!)
terrified through their interesting eyewear.
Mike’s Pizza is gone with a back kick. And
the little shops I snuff with a thumb—Magpie,
Davis Squared, Buffalo Exchange,
JP Licks, Comikaze, Blue Shirt Café
Every move I make is a catastrophe.
Every step I take is a disaster movie:
blinding dust, heaping bricks, shattered glass,
the screams of the dying, the stench of the dead.
There goes Godzilla, destroying the city. Again.
you should have the wine glasses left smokey with dust
I’ll take the ashtray from Spain
have the love seat, the one ripped side
can be fixed
it won’t cost much
think about the photos
and the set of round black framed
still hung on the south wall
that leaves the wooden cutting board for chicken
I’ll take it I guess
you’re a vegetarian now
the china, a wedding
gift, shipped broken
we never returned, let’s
divide each jagged
piece, each sharp
point, find new use for