The Day the Looking Glass Shattered

I discover I can no longer live
With the woman who shares my bed.


Lost in an oxycontin fog,
I find myself
cruising Allen Pond
in a rented paddleboat.

A line of ducks glides by
submerged in a slick olive coat of Vaseline oil.
I close my eyes and attune
to the billowing swell of dark water

The men drinking beer
in the picnic area
pretend to shoot rifles
with their long arms extended
and their skinny trigger fingers.

The lead duck flips
beneath the pond’s surface
like a pinged target
at the county fair shooting gallery.


I wake up alone
spitting out feathers.

Tracking the Watchtowers

They always seem to happen
in threes,
on sunny Saturday mornings
knocking three times
at homes with the drapes drawn,
yearning for those to emerge
from their private prisons
to look upon faces
illuminated from the light
of a burning bush.


Material by Hanes,
insignia designed with Crayola
crayons, a big red “S” stenciled
in 100% cotton T;

And draped across bony shoulders,
a plush red cape styled by Cannon--
wash only in warm water
with like colors;

World was the back yard hillside
up up and away, expecting to fly.
Lois lived next door
kept taking her panties off
in the sand box behind the tall oak.

Kryptonite was always there waiting
at the bottom of the hill--
even to these
x-ray eyes.

Apache Trail (Arizona SR 88)

Trails of smoke streak the cobalt sky,
hang like wreathes
over Superstition Mountain.

Arizona sun buckles unpaved pathways.
Scattered bones of lost souls
offer white line hi-way markings.

Twisted rock formations
and colonies of cacti tower
above multi-colored wildflowers.

RVs & SUVs cling to hairpin
turns & winding switchbacks,
brakes screeching like dry chalk
against a classroom blackboard.

Black vultures huddle
over anonymous roadkill;
pick at the skeletal remains,

dodging slow motion steel bullets
shimmering in the Arizona sun.

A Day in the Life (November 22, 1963)

A typical Friday for the fourth-grade,
just turned nine, just returning
from a recess of marbles and tag

when one of my classmate’s mother,
hooked on valium and “As the World Turns”
delivered the news to our classroom
that Walter Cronkite had just delivered
to the world—
“President Kennedy is dead”

And for a moment the world
seemed to freeze on its axis
and on the faces of my classmates,
white and puffy as cauliflower
with shocked red weeping eyes.

That’s when the Principal bolted in
helter skelter and ordered the familiar
fallout drill--cowering beneath
rickety wooden desks
as if that would shield us,

as if Russian-made nuclear-tipped
ballistic missiles were no more lethal
than water balloons or the paper wads
from rubber band sling shots
we loved to launch against each other,

the insanity of which
mirrored by the actions of a lone
gunman crouched from the 3rd floor window
of the Texas School Book Depository

or the shadowy figures lurking
under cover of gun smoke clouds
permanently grazing 
the grassy knoll.

Home Invasion

A strange virus
has engulfed the apartment,
lesions in the walls
echo the refrain
of things missing
from the shelf;

Shards of patio window
splinter the pain still
gnawing at fresh sutures

in my head
phantom noises
whisper like thieves

across old hardwood,
voice muted cries of linoleum
soaked in Lysol;

the way  food spoils,
doesn’t smell like home

Needing whiskey to sleep,
forefinger curled
around a cold steel trigger;

startled by the slightest
sounds, wind nudging
the dead bolt doors;

greet each morning,
face bruised against porcelain;
spitting out blood.

Just Before They Closed the Capitol Beltway

Through a glass darkly
the flaming wings of a Harley
motoring oval pavement,
precariously weaving between lanes;

sleeveless shirt of an Angel
billowing in the wind
like a parachute, yet even that
will not cushion the descent

when the unforgiving
fabric of asphalt
unfurls to greet
the inevitable fall.

The Final Season

Patches of crabgrass
cover the base path
like a young man’s scraggly beard
or a twelve-year old’s first signs
of manhood.

The paint on the dugouts and bleacher seats
has long peeled away
exposing gray weathered wood;
chain link backstop coated orange with rust
trellises interlacing ivy; the outfield covered
in a pungent bouquet of wild onions.

Baseball was my first love—
followed the 1962 New York Yankees
all summer long
with my GE 6-transistor radio;

persevered from room to room
in search of steady reception;
ear pressed to the 3-inch speaker
to discern Mel Allen
from the roller coaster surges of static.

Summer of ’67--
metallic odor of neatsfoot oil breaking in
my brand new Mickey Mantle autographed
Rawlings deep pocket leather glove.

My exaggerated sidearm motion
scared them off the plate,
garnered a perfect game
on opening day, striking out fifteen.

My father had left after the fourth inning,
“felt like rain,” he said,
but it was the compelling lure of Budweiser,
rivaled by none
that pulled him away;
couldn’t wait to give him the good news.

“Well you don’t have to brag about it!”
quelled all notions
of the father/son moment
that existed only in my dreams.

I was awarded the team MVP
at the end of the year;
my accomplishments inscribed
on the game ball from that occasion;

a fitting conclusion
to commemorate
my final season…

There will be no game today.
but I don’t mind.

Smells like rain anyway.

An August Day at Allen Pond Park

Toured the paved walkway
surrounding the pond
three times

before these 56 year-old legs
began to cramp, betrayed
by a sedentary lifestyle.

Across the water,
a small boy kicks
the shocked, squawking geese.

His father stands in the shadows,
mute & unmoved, a Kurt Waldheim
Nazi statue of complicity.

Turning 55

The man in the mirror
materializes in grainy light;
an image in which
I am all too familiar.

I see the pear shaped torso
swelling from a once
sculptured framework;
the worn fabric of face,
puffy popcorn cheeks
husking cold, steel eyes;
the furrowed rows engraving
a sullen forehead;
the trademark receding hairline
thinning a barely discernible
salty gray image.

It is my father
looking back at me
from the other side.

After the Rain
(Baltimore, Maryland)

November scrubs the Chesapeake sky
cold and gray as cobblestone alleys,
pigeons roosting in the eaves of rooftops,
mourning doves aloft in granite mist.
Charcoal smoke clouds drape the harbor
in familiar vagueness.
Seagulls shriek
unseen in the eggshell light.

Day dissolves quickly
this time of year
gray fades to black
across the coarse fabric of sky.

Cusp of moon
leans over Fells Point,
headlights shimmering
in puddles
of brick pavers.

Big Pockets

Explosion in the Gulf, eleven lives
disintegrate from Deepwater Horizon.

Headlines across America burst into orange
and black mushroom flames.

Fish carcasses and tar balls beach
along the coastlines of five states,

arrive before half-naked tourists converge
to stake claims with lounge chairs and umbrellas.

Billions of dollars spent
for clean-up and oil recovery

Thousands of wildlife lay waste,
designated collateral damage in the oil slick abyss.

Volunteers scrub the survivors
with Dawn detergent.

Meanwhile, one-armed bandits
conduct business as usual,

spinning record breaking profits
from bullet proof glass booths.

Shadow Boxing

Shaken from a troubled sleep
by the bearded man
in white robes, I
awoke to a cold spring
rain tapping code
against the storm glass window,
my head filled with spiders,
face blanched
as the rush from a porcelain drain.

I cannot escape
the grip and
scope of this disease.
It sweeps through my cells
like a black kite,
comes and goes
with the rise & fall
of heartbeats, the curled
steam of fresh coffee, fog
of my breath
in the frosted glass.

A man with my skin
Is watching, stark &
as a raven’s stare.
He sips from a
crystal flask held
firm as a pistol,
triggers another swallow
spinning like a bullet
in the echo chamber.

Turning toward the kitchen,
breakfast brewing and wet
towels jab at the rust
of sleep as
in the periphery
rain cuts eyelets
in the blue mist

where in the courtyard
a small dog is yelping
to the whirr
of someone’s sleep alarm,
his tree-chained body

twitching like a pulse
or a sleeping eye,

shadow boxing
in the wet grass.

Hometown Blues

Main street warehouses
crumbling brick & cinder
block structures,
peeling plaster
and boarded-up windows
abandoned and ignored.

High School vanished
with consolidation years ago;
the memories disintegrated
into grainy particles of smoke;

keep yearbooks
on my bookshelf
for proof of the past.

Weathering into tombstone,
the swimming pool was drained
when the economy tanked
in ‘08

yet whenever I am here
for too long a period
of time

I am overcome
by the inevitable sensation
of drowning.

Apocalypse TV

Sinister apparitions on horseback
vaporize into particles
of atomic snow.

Barely discernible,
the shriek of human suffering
marquees in closed captions.

On the count of three,
the ones who know too much
swallow their tiny green cyanide capsules.