Wednesday, January 29, 2020


No one gives a shit
about the pristine fluffy snow
drifting gently to the ground
in late January.
A new inch or two
on top of all the rest,
covering the frozen dog crap,
soon to be trampled
by boots and car tires,
soon to turn
into dirty, gray, salty slush
on the streets and sidewalks.
And you don’t want to shovel again,
and you don’t want to scrape
your frozen windshield,
and traffic will be slow today,
and your feet will never be warm again,
and the sky will never be blue again,
and you’re just sick of it all,
and why do you even live here?
And if, while driving to work that morning,
you happen to notice the black tree limbs
blanketed in white,
you might think,
oh that’s pretty,
but honestly,
you’d be fine
if you never saw another flake.


Those damn kids today
will never know what it was
to go and rent a movie.
It wasn’t pressing a button on your remote
as an afterthought.
It was an event!
Your family would make a pilgrimage
to Blockbuster Video
(or its local equivalent),
and you would be able to choose
your own video.
The whole store would smell like the slick
butter-flavored topping of microwave popcorn.
And you’d first go to the wall of New Releases
at the back of the store,
where there would be 15 copies of Die Hard 2,
all of them checked out,
so maybe you’d choose Home Alone
or Pretty Woman or Back to the Future III.
And if you could sneak away from your mom,
you could peruse the covers of videos
she’d never ever let you watch at your age.
The boxes of horror movies
featured grinning skulls on the front,
skulls with eyeballs somehow,
or lithe actresses covered in fake blood.
Dumb 80s teen comedies and sex farces
were in the next aisle over,
but the real adult movies
were hidden in their own little room
separated from your pre-pubescent curiosity
by some kind of dark curtain.
You could try to peek through the gap
between the curtain and the doorway
and catch a quick glimpse
of the tawdry contents therein,
but if you stayed out of trouble,
you could ask your mom
for the movie theater-sized box of candy
conveniently displayed near the cash register.
Her answer, regardless, would be no.
You would walk out the door,
plastic box in your hand,
passing the notice that reminded you
to be kind, please rewind.


I wake up to find
the silhouette of a man
in the doorway of my childhood bedroom,
his elastic shadow stretched too long
within a single beam of light
on the floor.
He doesn’t have the same shape
as my father or my older brother.
He is taller and leaner.
I can’t see any of his features,
just the outline of short, spiky hair
on top of his head.
He is a shadow himself, it seems.
Motionless, silent.
I lie as still as I can,
holding my breath.
I squeeze my eyes tight,
open them,
and he is gone.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Anger Management

I gaped at him in amazement
as Kevin raged.
It was unexpected;
the conference room door
still stood open,
and no one was brave enough
to move to close it,
so we all knew his shouts
echoed throughout the office.

He punctuated his sentences
by slamming his right fist on the table.
Flecks of spittle flew out of his mouth,
as he spat insults and threats.
Narrowed dark eyes
and that vein in his forehead bulging.
His face was bright red then,
his voice even cracked a little
as his fury reached its climax.
Poor Nick.
His cell phone,
sitting on the table in front of him,
suddenly came to life
with an audible vibration.
Kevin grabbed the phone
and threw it as hard as he could
against the opposite wall.
Lucy dodged it with a gasp.
Everyone else was silent.

Kevin looked around the room then,
almost looked surprised to see our terrified faces,
afraid to speak,
afraid to breathe.
He exhaled slowly then.
“Well,” he said at last.
Did he feel ashamed
or just satisfied, relieved?
Like gulping down a hot meal
after a long fast?
He dismissed us then,
and we quickly filed out
as though a fire drill had just been announced.

Derek found me smoking outside later.
“Wow,” he said, and I nodded.
“You okay?” he asked.
After all, it had been my mistake,
and everyone knew it.
“Yeah,” I responded,
crushing the cigarette with my shoe,
“I’m fine.”


I look across the table for two
romantically lit by a fake flickering candle,
and I can tell by the way you avoid my eyes
that you’ve been lying to me again.
You big phony lying liar with your goddamn lies.
You pause your lying to my face for a moment
in order to type out more lies on your cell phone
with your stupid fat lying thumbs.
“Who were you texting just now?” I ask with a vicious smile,
the cat batting around the mouse just for fun.
“No one,” you shrug then try to change the subject.
“No one?” I ask again. “You were texting no one at all?”
“Well, a coworker,” you reply, “but it wasn’t important.”
“See,” you point out, “I’ve put my phone away.”
You then pretend to ignore it as it buzzes angrily in your pocket.
I’m not even remotely curious
because I’ve already talked to her.
She swears she didn’t know,
but then, she’s probably a pretty good liar too.
It’s all over for you,
although you don’t know it yet,
probably think you’re getting away with something.
You’re going to buy me one last expensive dinner
before I leave you,
shamed and shattered,
at the restaurant,
a waiter discreetly handing you a napkin
to wipe the red wine dripping from your face
onto your crisp white dress shirt.
You’ll watch me walk away,
and you’ll slink, alone, to your car,
the one with the cut brake lines.
Because when I wished you well,
with that half-hearted hug,
I was lying.