three little words

how I would love to be able to
          hang a sign around my neck 
                    (three little words) and
     wear it outside to let everyone know
               that I am really not feeling it today
          and probably will not be feeling it
     tomorrow either
                    or even the day after that
          although I may be getting ahead of
                    myself there
               I would still like to inform you
          (in the general sense, not you specifically)
     that for today at least
          and most likely tomorrow as well
                    I will not be taking your calls
               I will not be answering your texts
          I will not be able to respond to your
                    questions or concerns
     which you would already know
               if you would only take a moment to
          focus not on my face, my mouth or my eyes
                    (and certainly not my nose, you know
                         how self-conscious I am about that)
               but rather if you could
     take but the briefest of moments to
          read the three little words around my neck
               announcing to anyone who takes the
                    time to notice these sort of things
     that I am currently
out of order.

Late afternoon at Boots Adams Park

     three hundreds yards from where I sit
     just down the street to the east
     seven or eight houses down from mine
lies a barren, pristine white field

My own little public
     hundred acre woods
     except it is significantly smaller
     and there are but few trees and other flora
but otherwise, exactly the same

We approached it in late afternoon
     while the snow was still falling
     and the cold wind blew
     and the grey sky above
the barren, pristine, snow-covered field

Across the field we can see a small
     rabbit sticking his head up over the ridge
     wondering where all the dead grass has gone
     and where are all the leaves
that only yesterday had covered everything

The blanket of snow, untouched as of yet
     by groups of screaming kids
     by gangs of bothersome teenagers
     by parents and grandparents
watching their kids slide down the hill

And beyond the wrought iron fence on the other side
     silent foggy windows of townhomes blasting heat
     cars and trucks unmoving, covered in snow
     a dog yipping somewhere past that
wanting to come out to play

And as the snow lets up and the wind dies down
     leaving the snow surface of the field
     smooth and almost-glassy, as if
     some great broom in the sky
had taken one last swoosh across the landscape

We stand on the edge of the sidewalk
     and he pulls, impatiently, expectantly
     in the late December late afternoon
     so I reach down to unclip leash from collar
and he bolts off to teach the rabbit the error of his ways

In Traffic

Upon further consideration
(over the last five minutes)
I think I have decided
that my favorite type of
is not sunshine in the summer
is not the cacophony of spring showers
is not the crisp autumn air
not even all of that weather combined
compares (in my mind) to

cruising down a busy street
after a snow storm has blown through
leaving everything covered in white
but it's been long enough that
the streets are (relatively) clear and
drivers are still cautious
(not having gotten used to the wet roads)
and the medians are largely untouched,
blankets of white upon white

and the light ahead turns to amber,
then red,
and the sea of brake lights
as traffic slows to a crawl, to a stop
and I can see the people waiting for
the bus on the opposite corner
hugging themselves in the cold air
as I stretch out in the manufactured
heat of my truck cab

and I notice a single snowflake as it
dances past my side window
and I watch its descent to the black pavement
mission fulfilled
and then the traffic starts to move
and the halo around the green light
mirrors the halos of the street lights
which have just snapped on
as if on command by some nameless,
faceless street light authority
and it's a flurry of individual snowflakes now
wafting through the wake of traffic
falling from the sky, at first tentatively
then with seasoned purpose, seeking
the ground

and I smile, thinking
this is my favorite type of weather.


It will come as no surprise
          (if you know me at all)
     that I should not be allowed to
give names to things

(although I must admit that with
          three kids and a few
     dogs and cats under my belt
I am not all THAT bad at it)

and that was driven home this morning
          as I struggled to explain that I needed a
     splash shield for my daughter's car
(I Googled it later to see what it was called)

and while my friend (who is a 
          car guy and laughed and laughed)
     knew what I meant, he still rolled
his eyes at "car undercarriage plastic thingy"

Am I really that bad at it?

Aglet? Shoelace thingy
Ferrule? Metal pencil band thingy
Tittle? 'i' and 'j' lowercase dot thingy
Peen? The thingy on the other side of a hammer
Snood? Turkey neck thingy

I am not a lost cause though
         for I do know a few words
     for things that you may not
realize have been named

Petrichor? The smell of rain
Tines? The prongs of a fork
Barm? The foam on your beer
Lemniscate? The symbol for infinity
Defenestrate? To throw out of the window

but would I ever in a million years
          have been able to come up
     with such mental-image-inducing words?
Probably not.

Which reminds me, the word for something
          that produces a mental image is
     anamnesis, but don't ask me how to say it,
that's a battle for another day.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

I text you, you text back
      sometimes, but not always
    at least not immediately
  but at least
        I hear back from you

You call and we talk
      brief spurts of conversation but
    neither of us are brilliant conversationalists
  but at least
        we do our best

We meet in that awkward way that future
      lovers do who are not yet lovers
    trying to quickly decide if this is it
but at least
        we're cautiously optimistic

I try my best to make you laugh or
    impress you with magic or
  the breadth and depth of my love of math
but at least
        you don't run screaming from the bar
this time

You try your best to make it comfortable but
    not too comfortable, you don't
  want to give the wrong impression
but at least
      you're laughing and drinking
for now

Can I see you again? one of us asks and it's
    usually me, but not always
  we feign disinterest to avoid discomfort
but at least
      we'll always have Paris, or at least this bar
until next time


I came upon a group of children playing
     in their yard in the snow as
          the dogs and I were

three of them building two snowmen - perhaps
     a snowman and snowwoman?
          and two others kids standing twenty feet

they had apparently been engaged in an
     epic snowball battle, but now the
          tall girl was on her phone

and the small boy was making snowballs
     in his too-big gloves and gently
          lofting them towards the tall girl's

until he turned and saw the three of us 
     approaching from across the street and
          his expression was a familiar one 
can I pet them?

so we crossed and stood on the snow-packed
     sidewalk while the small boy approached
          and I kneeled down as he reached first for Zeus,
then Mac

and I nodded toward the tall girl and asked, sister?
     and he nodded in turn while still
          petting the dogs and I asked a

have you seen the Avengers movies? and he smiled and
     said yes and we made eye contact and I
          told him, she is Thanos, so what do you need to do,

and he continued to pet the dogs and then
     it dawned on him what I was saying and a 
          smile played at the edges of his

and he stood up and and met my fist with a 
     bump and said a little too gleefully 
          as he padded back toward his victim
go for the head

I’m trying to watch the game

I'm trying to watch the game but
     the little brachycephalic sleeping at
  my feet
is snoring

each first down punctuated by 
    an unintended snort
each reception marked with
    silence in the empty stadium
    noise in this empty den
each run up the middle accompanied with
    a sudden shift in her sleeping position

I'm trying to watch the game but
    can't help but smile at her
at rest after a long, snowy day

resting at my feet
    not a care in the world
asleep at the edge of the carpet
    while her brother occasionally
  raises his head from his bed
          in the corner
          by the fire
  to see what he's missing

I completely missed that last score
    and the replay as well
  engrossed as I was with
      the sleeping habits of
the little brachycephalic and I
  really could care less.

While listening to movie soundtracks and washing dishes

It is impossible
     (literally impossible)
to adequately express the raw
that comes from listening to a well-
     executed soundtrack
with the swell of brass and
     the plaintive cry of strings and
          the abrupt interrogatory of the
               timpani to accentuate the point

Lines of Imperial troopers
Rolling fields as the replicants escape
Two steps, turn, fire at the closing circle
I don't want to go, Mr. Stark, I'm sorry

It is fragile
     (as fragile as an imagined thing can be)
to fully embrace the raw
that comes from watching a well-
     executed script
where the words that are spoken and
     the orchestral score that is played,
          the combination of the twain transcendent 
               beam directly into my soul

Dogfights in space
Rolling seas and a bottle of rum
Two starships passing in the night
I've got a bad feeling about this

It is wonderful
     (literally full of wonder)
what happens when silver screen and
     golden tones combine to
deliver me away from this window, this
     keyboard that rules my every
waking hour to transport me
     to the next great adventure
          to the next generation
               to infinity and beyond.

Window shopping on a cold December day

She certainly has a nice hat
Oh, this one - love her fashion sense!
Cute dogs - check
Hmm...too young
No...too old
Not pretty enough
Far too pretty

Runner, cyclist, gym rat
Likes boards games?
      (Clue or Monopoly? Huge difference)
Who calls themselves sapiosexual in 
      every day conversation?
   (It's probably not true, anyway)
Smoker? Pass
Not tall enough
Far too tall

Avid reader - but, of what?
      (true crime, poetry, fiction. biography)
Student of current events?
  I don't even know what that means, really
Not smart enough
Far too smart

They show their faces but
      is that really their face?
And who would market
Themselves in such a manner
As to elicit such stinging criticism?

Me, for one.

Turned to Snow

There are to my left
          (your right)
    four windows, tall and slender
          shades drawn on the outer panes
          shades up on the inner panes

the front yard in full view
    leaves covering the lawn
          (I raked recently but
          the huge oak in front doesn't care)
    wet with overnight rain

and gazing past the barren branches
    of the bushes that line the
          front windows
    past the leaf-strewn yard
the street is slick with rain

    cars scurry past the house
on this relatively minor arterial
         residential street on which I live
and my neighbors across the street have
    hung lights across their downstairs
    eaves, and in their front yard bushes
and I have neglected to do the same

for I've found it difficult this season to
    capture any of the "holiday spirit" this
          time of year is so famous for
it has been such a long month, long season
and I don't have the mental strength
    to play this festive game

and although there will be no Sun on
          this Sunday
    morning has broken, and the sky has
          lightened considerable from
  where it was even twenty minutes ago
and as the temperature drops
          I think to myself

"I should go make more coffee" because I hear
          the kids stirring upstairs, and
    they've become coffee drinkers
like their father before them
    and so I rise from my laptop 
          preparing to make the thirty step
  trek to the kitchen to put on
      another pot and
          I think to myself
"Oh, the rain has turned to snow."


There is a strange, unsettling, engrossing symmetry
To us

Not a cold winter to warm spring to hot summer to
cool autumn to cold winter symmetry

Not a we grew up two blocks from each other but were
in different districts and didn't meet until we were
in college out-of-state symmetry

Not an opposites attract symmetry
Not a distance makes the heart grow fonder symmetry
Not an out of sight, out of mind symmetry

We do not dress alike
We do not root for the same teams
We do not like the same music
We do not read the same books
We do not order the same coffee at Starbucks

Ours is a symmetry of absence

You once asked me years ago
What it was
  I wanted, I needed
And my answer has remained
After all these years

The heart wants what it wants.

New Days

I would proffer my hand
  to you
But we really don't do that anymore
    (maybe someday)
And we talk about old friends and new

Did you hear what Billy said yesterday?
  Phil was pretty funny last night
    Frances really made me think this morning
      Mary Jo made me smile
        Katha and Galway were as irksome as always
Did you miss any of that? Did you see?

You blink and tell me of late
Your mind feels like
  blinds that haven't been dusted in months
  rugs that have pilled from overuse
  a layer of dust thicker than the table itself
Too many choices
None of them of interest
To an intellectual such as yourself

I feel much the same
A rabbit down the wrong hole
  in a warren not his own
Tired autumn leaves ready to
  give up and drop to the barren ground
Not enough choices
Too many interests
To a follower such as myself

I don't have time to miss the old days
I'm too busy wasting the new days