Monday, November 15, 2010


The dimmest constellation in the sky
Looked brighter for two nights, no one knew why
She makes the Penn astronomers look silly
Who could see stars, with Venus in West Philly?

Monday, November 8, 2010

up to eleven

If I were old and heavy-hearted,
this young romance could not have started,
making October into spring,
and me able to anything.
I don't know, an adult might say,
you well enough to feel this way,
nor does mere pilot data prove
a trend, long looked for, up to love.
But if it's immaturity
to want what I can barely see -
your heat, your hipbones, your shy smiles,
set off by clothes, a hundred miles,
a baker's decade flecked with rage -
then I don't plan to act my age.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

trying to listen to fleetwood mac on the 7 train

sometimes the sun shines anyway
i thought i wanted rain
suddenly mariachis play
la bamba, break the chain

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the light at the end of the tunnel

If you lived at the end of the line
I could sleep on the train with impunity
And rather than cursing this needless reversing
I'd awaken right in your community

Coney Island, Canarsie, Court Square
I'd be near you if you lived near there
Though it's surely pitch dark up in Pelham Bay Park
We could take in the fresh night air

Now in Boston a man long deceased
Couldn't pay when the T fare increased
But I'd trade him this card not to be drunk and tired
On a platform in New York East

To Far Rockaway isn't that far
When passed out in the first A car
I'd be sleeping around but reliably found
Where you lived at the end of the line

Thursday, June 17, 2010

to his rash mistress

if we were running out of time
this rashness, baby, were no crime
your headstone's second date's not nigh
ours would be old news when you die
having forgot our first impressed
you little sober, less re-dressed
(or were you just too satisfied
to want again what you once tried?)
'twas not your deathbed where we slept
you won't recall much there except 
a rush from one fool to the next
not whether you returned some text
or ever gave another kiss 
to somebody who sent you this

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the joker ain't the only fool

the queen of spades had dug a pit
for which the queen of diamonds paid.
the queen of clubs pushed him in it.
the queen of hearts peered down and said,
"with me you could've had a chance,
until i heard about your arm,
you're heading straight for indigence,
and god, what happened on that farm?"
"it wouldn't matter," he replied,
"that i can't fill three other suits,
if i could court my fitting bride
without her sisters in cahoots.
i'll never be a king except in love,
and we should start a flush." face-first, she dove.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

bad air

"i spy a may queen, you were miles
above me," younger by four years,
so many baby steps ahead,
like on that hike when you flipped out
because i claimed you never did.
both being wrong was our best game,
but practicing left you winded,
even before the hit-and-run.

you condescended for a while,
walking backwards like a tour guide,
facing me - smart, given that face.
i bought your campus and its state,
and soon, though too late, make-up flowers,
each fight more desperately arranged -
you once suspected florists' aid -
all meant as final, as is this.

on the centennial of the quake
no one could hear if dishes shook,
only two slams, room door and car,
dusting our heels - you'd recall whose
turned first - with bursts of paint and rust.
good bodywork was not enough;
even your teeth figured out fast
you needed crowns i couldn't fit.

we were the sweetest sour stuff,
two isotopes of oxygen,
mass numbers 15 and 19, 
met at 25, 29.
negative spin and positive,
corrosive like the normal kind,
but much too heavy when combined,
technically, practically, unstable.

physicists keep debating why
this mass in me decays so slow,
despite emitting waves of tears.
is this quantum entanglement?
if so, your heart depends on mine,
no matter time, nor distance squared.
biologists, at least, agree
that you breathe better without me.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

sadie hawkins day (for kate)

These rows of houses, arrow-straight,
though old, were not the first
in Deerfield, town whose massacre
we count among the worst.
Little remains of Roanoke;
Williamsburg sold to Disney;
Plimoth Plantation has no ghosts;
Boston grew to a city.
But we can mourn here, Deerfield's name
denotes no "vanished" place:
rebuilt - the clapboard victory,
buried - the winning race.
Some whites turned Indian, more ran real red:
Twenty-five English children, this time, dead.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

laura and the conic sections

"We're similar," said the ellipse.
The circle told him, "Bogus.
I can't stand your protruding tips.
You're projecting an extra focus."
"Projecting?" th'ellipse queried,
Saving his single face,
"You can't stand—can't stand, period!
Roll on, you special case!
I'm not surprised you missed my point,
'Cause you don't have one in ya.
But there's a linguist in this joint
Who's shown it in Tigrinya."
At that, the circle realized she was smitten.
They were wed atop the Oval by L. Whitton.

Monday, April 26, 2010

oh mi corazón

Ferdinand quit the china shop,
Broke even in corridas vs.
A range of accidental matadoras.
Now softer horns make sharper pop
From shards of each flamenco verse.
Vaquera harmonizes on the chorus.

we're all on

more world than word, less can than did,
more camera, less caption;
less quantifier, more adjective,
less quatrain: smile! more action!

Monday, April 19, 2010

subway cats

On Saturday, a Bushwick cat
Severed an earbud cable that
For months, Maggie, in Cobble Hill,
Had not once taken for a tail.
By Sunday, after being replaced,
The wire acquired a better taste,
Suggesting rumors spread by felines
Follow, like us, the L and G lines.
Trusting they'll heal, some people, too,
Take tips on who they might bite through,
A shocking but short-lived sensation;
Others just strip the insulation,
And bring each other what they kill:
Menage à trois with the third rail.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

♫  Love In The Cards ♫

You played the red queen, I played the red king
We played Carla Thomas and Otis Redding
But since we discarded, the more time passes
The more we discover a pair of jack asses

You weren't easy to deal with
But I shouldn't have said no deal
The game got rough, but there's time enough for healing
We hold the same feeling, I'm calling your bluff

You talk about your deal breakers
But I can't deal to anybody new
A pair of broken hearts makes it hard to play
But with love in the cards, I'll come back and I'll stay
No, I can't deal to anybody new
Cause there's love in the cards, and you love me too

The last time we broke up, you picked up that joker
He helped you reject every deal I could broker
You said we were over, I folded too soon
Since then I've been running, trying to shoot the moon

I wasn't easy to deal with
But you shouldn't have said no deal
The game got rough, but there's time enough for healing
We hold the same feeling, I'm calling your bluff

You talk about your deal breakers
But I can't deal to anybody new
A pair of broken hearts makes it hard to play
But with love in the cards, come back and I'll stay
No, I can't deal to anybody new
Cause there's love in the cards, and you love me too

Now you're calling my hand unforgivable
Us incompatible, our life unlivable
You're so beautiful when you play nice
But you won't play cards, so I guess it's no dice

We weren't easy to deal with
But our love burned like the real deal
The fire's not out but we just weren't able
And our card table is firewood now

I heard about your new player
And I can't stop you dealing him in
A real king guards you, takes away your fears
And if love's in the cards, I'll be the ace of tears
No, I can't stop you dealing him in
But if love's in the cards, I feel sorry for him

Monday, March 29, 2010

we're no good?

We fought about what time to wake up,
how to be in bed, and how to get out of it,
would've fought about the weather, if there'd been some.
You were the one who needed no makeup,
who needed me too, till he got you out of it,
about whom they said, "you lose some and you win some."
What if we never lost, though, if we learned
our lessons but they left no scars, if harm
left hearts intact, and no tact in our charm?
You'd be the one, who [non-restrictive RC].
If you'd be Lizzie, I'd be Mr. Darcy:
our pride reciprocated, love returned.
So if I pipe up here, or pop up in your town,
let's not put up a fight, nor the pipe down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

turn the other cheek

If asses weren't kicked, but were given more ass
And the shilling were given less billing
If we heard our fave Beatle when fetal, or Mass,
Then mass kissing would ass-kick mass killing

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

nauk nauk

Results could come after discussion
Publication before peer review
If science like Internet, me more like Russian
Only postdoc, but P.I. of you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

on leaving waffle house

"there's a lot more i could say. ask me questions if you want."

you covered all my questions with one answer,
except... you love the word-dance, not the dancer?
i'm sure i smothered you, sure, we could scatter,
but i can top and take you; what's the matter?
all the way in, i'm bawling at your back:
re-verse!* or cap it - let this hash brown black.

*your service can be slow, your verses shy, or sly, or slack,
'cause when i ordered you, i wasn't hungry for a snack.

astral weeks

Saint Valentine's came fast this year
And for you, this boy too
The echoes of a past affair
Turned foreshocks by the new
Hard truths that make my ego trip
Soft lips that push me kinder
Beauties that memory outstrip
Keep stripping for reminder
And I'll keep being that sweet guy
Who held on tight, who felt it
Who laid you down and kissed your eye
As February melted
Even the strongest hands let go for spring
A man is coming slow, for you, sweet thing

Friday, January 22, 2010

for grandma clara on her 80th birthday

It's now my turn to say a word
From one who's lived through just one third
As many years as your long span:
I toast the new octogenarian!

I've know the love that is a part o' ya
Since I first landed at LaGuardia.
You took me to ballgames, movies, and shows;
To the swim club snack bar, where the candy bars froze;
To Coney Island and Jones Beach,
And Little and Great Neck, many times each;
To the Queens Museum's New York Panorama:
So I'd like to toast you for being my Grandma.

You've provided every known amenity
At 28-30 Corporal Kennedy.
Whenever I would come to town,
You'd take the scary poster down.
I'd scour your bookshelves in the afternoons,
And in the mornings watch cartoons.
So because of the generous host you are,
I'd like to toast you with a Mallomar.

I remember the cup with the broken straw,
Christmas mornings, Chad Gadya,
Shuffleboard, casino, and "chocolate" makeup,
And eating the Victory layer cake up.
In Manhattan, New Haven, Bath, and Boston,
You kept up with me (which I bet was exhaustin'!)
Some say "Cheers!", some say "Prost!", "Tsu gezunt!", or "L'chaim!"
But I'd like to toast you with a Golden Graham.

Although your age is now four score,
You'll be living - - I'll be loving you - - many years more;
You've been around since President Harding,
But I hope that the fun in some ways is just starting.
So I'll know, if I call you at HA-8,
And the machine picks up, even though it's late,
That you're having a blast in the Empire State.
You're the mayor of Bayside,
A rare double A-side,
You're not just a grand ma ... you're great!