Very early literary influences:

A.A. Milne...thanks for my dear friends in the 20 acre woods and a love of "very important poems".(not the Disney versions)
Those Grimm Brothers for life lessons that I totally did not get as a child but loved anyway...(Hair shirts ouch...)
P.L. Travers...also not the disney version god no!!!
James Thurber for a wry sense of fantasy and humor about the human comedy and his "Thirteen Clocks" which imposed upon me a l ife long fear of being slit from my "guggle" to my "zatch"...Unicorns munching in gardens and imaginary rabbits.
Upton Sinclair for an awarness how low this comedy can go and giving me a life long distast of hot dogs.
Dorothy Parker for the same with a bite...
Steinbeck and Hemingway who took me to strange new places and gave me people to love and ideas to ponder in ways with words.
The Island Stallions and Rabbit Holes and Far away Islands...Great White Whales and Toads having tea with Badgers along the river bank...Never Never Land...well...the list does go on quite a bit and I will have to return upon more consideration...
and...oh..."oh..."On the Road" of course ...having read it at the age of twelve... it surely set me on my path.



B movie legacy

my mother,
aged ninety-two,
through no fault of her own,
traveled through life with the Depression.

at times he occupied the sidecar,
one hand deep in her pocket,
occasionally behind the wheel
he clutched mother’s purse to his chest,
his pursed lipped
squint-eyed penury
became. . .

my mother
who is so old it no longer matters, still
carries the Depression
doles out coins—
gold pulled from an open wound,
stands in phantom bread lines,
looks always over her shoulder,
ear cocked.

not even her children
are above suspicion.

black coat

my maternal grandmother
two stout legs suddenly becoming feet
without benefit of ankles,
rose emblazoned babushka tied tight
under the most prominent of her chins,
carried five children the improbable distance
from Poland to promise.

her morning shadow
around the world six million times
and yet
she stood at noon
on tired feet
for countless stolen years
twisting bread
into sturdy skeins
of survival and avoidance.

in her dotage
my grandma shuffled
down our Bronx street
well protected from winter's chill,
her formidable girth
covered by the great rolling
black lawn of her
seal skin coat, my face
buried in its sensuous softness,
it was a perfect match for
the dark distance in her eyes.


I cannot hold
my tongue a runaway greased
pig it slips from
between thumb
and forefinger slides
over my teeth through
my lips urged on uncontrollably.

a two headed
push me pull
me runs on ragged
tracks behind my eyes
commanding the uncertain
prematurely opening
the curtain
for the
lord of da da
derision king of caw caw
crumbled composure
my tongue has
a tongue of its own
slick ribbons niagra
fall over the tip
filling a lake
behind a dam and me
I ski
doing laps on
the surface scanning
the horizon for a dock

Sigmund and the Father of Lies

a satchel of demons,
red-eyed fork tongued,
gather from musty corners,
lie in wait
burn midnight oil,
tie shoelaces together
light matches between
sock and sole.

baton wielding denizens,
legacy twirling menaces,
they witness
this bent back submission,
this forehead creasing homage to
the family tar baby.

fist follows fist
sinking deeper into
the sludge index
finger, wrist, forearm, elbow, armpit,
the greater the struggle
the stucker you get.

I have been stripped
naked analyzed,
shouted at in morning’s first light
and whimpered into moonless skies.

while I slouch here
on this unupholstered plastic chair-in-a-row.
while I await boarding instructions
for flight #801 to Pittsburg,
I hear terrible trophies poking around
sticking stiletto pinky claws
into worn valise latches.

The Girls Will Sing— The Boys Will Shout

after battle
the lassies sing,
will he return…

he ruminates a mountain
eight ounces at a time
empty cans pile up
in a parched side-yard
silvered aluminum glints
a tribute to righteousness,
fuck y’all
He says.

The Gift: one

if skin color could be chosen
like paint off a sample card
his would be darkest sepia…
a slender shadow
sliding across
the mississippi delta
spreading spider fingers
north east west…

close your eyes
thumb thumping
bottleneck sliding
twanging hard times telling
jealous women and badass men
ground in dirt roads and sleazy bars.

close your eyes
smell the cheap perfume…

float like dust
around snug low cut dresses
all jelly roll and insinuation…

and the sweet young things
believing in
his injectable essence
bring it all
back down south
back home.

Rose and Rose Ann

my aunt Rose escaped from brooklyn
a short time before the dodgers
lighting their way west with her singular red haired passion
a carousing husband left behind
Rose began raising their children in the san fernando valley
where she met and married a conservative widower
who changed her name to Rose Ann
in an attempt to redefine his new york Rose.

Rose wore clear plastic spring-o-lator shoes
leopard patterned pedal pushers
over ample thighs
unmindful of freckled arms and bosoms
rolling out of tight spongy tube tops
she boomed out shrill garrulous enthusiasm.

Rose Ann was refined
attended temple services in ladylike suits
and lit sabboth candles on friday night
murmering baruch hatoy adonai in dulcet tones
a babushka respectfully covering her burnished hair
as flames flickered upwards warming manicured fingers.

an obedient matron for two virtuous years
she concealed an ever expanding inextinguishable inner fire
until exploding like a fiery piece of corn
burst furiously from her suffocating cellulose jacket
and fled once again.

leaving piety behind while keeping her new name
Rose Ann moved on with son and daughter in tow
arms bared shoulders squared went to work
starting a magnificent collection of salt and pepper shakers
which were kept on a shelf
in a tiny walk up north hollywood apartment
where they stayed
until the next blossoming incarnation.

the long gone train

most times
the train stops just
once despite prior youthful
illusions of circumlocution.
my train chugged
on one day one way only
lines, criss cross crossed tracks,
towards the western horizon...

on the station platform I
face duskward, I
rest my body’s hard ache,
this wooden bench
slats press me into
shuttered thoughts returning
all my life a pattern,
thick lines resting
always on the tongue, for
just a moment its captured
tang, so and continually
hopeful, I scratch
these maybe
not could be too
late words.

Appropriate Angels

did not
decorate our Bronx apartment,
did not
hover above the Hanukah Menorah
nor alight on Elijah's Passover Plate,
Angels were Winged Catholics
and therefore
not My People.
but Oh
the Lucky Irish Kids around the corner
(rough knuckled turf lords)
entertained Host upon Host
as they Sunday Struttted out
of Saint Anne's Church,
New Testament
spiritual dream magic
Seraphim dipped
graceful as migrating geese
gloriously, soared
above their heads,
sorrowful reminders of
my own
absence of Angels.

Renaissance Angel's soft blue
golden lashed eyes smiling
benificently down splendid
cream feathered wings poised
over powerful shoulders scooping
up the worthy with tapered hands ascending
into the sky...into the clouds...up to heaven.

last night my daughter recollected
the myriad Cherubim
who inhabited her childhood...

in the translation

In the grey space
between falling
and landing,
wheat words
were folded,
yeasted dough
pushed back into itself
raised and punched down
again and again
rolled and braided
into familiar ancestral forms
baked in the sound oven
of grandmother singing…

now I listen

to unfamiliar
coarse/hard maza
being stone rubbed
into pliable tortillas
steaming on a hot grill,
guerras y lobos
amores y poemas,
smell the corn warmth
tu familia …

timelessness and beating hearts
there is a meeting place
a nourishing sameness
that starts
in the grain
and grows
us together…


Victor was built
like a Picasso bull
short at the shoulder
square and stocky
as if thrown into the sea
he would sink
that is how dense Victor was~

Victor's cropped beard
wrapped around
his ample face
and when he expounded
in his snarling New Yorkese
drops of spit
peaked out the prickly hairs
shivering in fear
that is how intense Victor was~

Victor tangoed
through time
to a Paris where expatriates
quaffing along the Rues
in sidewalk cafes
were artists like him
and writers
and young women
whose soft thighs
balanced strong backs
with which to carry
the likes of Victor~

As Victor's journey
neared its end
he roared defiance
having had it all
he gave it back
out of stubbornness
or perhaps a desire
to erase himself
in control
he authored his own demise
thundering in the desert


not enough
never enough
if I could say I have had enough
they’d sign me up for yet another shift…

It has always been this way
backing down from NO to oh…

always not saying no…

when I fold into my biggest fears
and smell my father’s anger__________...

I was not allowed to say no…

It always seems
everyone else knows
something I do not…

Sandy’s Tattoo

flat black and orange a carp slides
down and over the nape of her neck
an outlined tailfin and tinge of tangerine
insinuate descent as it
disappears beneath her collar,
plunged into a frenzy
of Asian mums and cascading waters,
waves blues and yellows,
reds and ochres
swirl above Buddha cross-legged,
seated within the lotus that
rides her lower back, a
saddle slung hip to hip
dips gently into the indentation
at the base of her supple spine.

Twilight Tango

this step dance passes quickly
too soon the twilight tango
best that we dance lightly dance,

(we don’t want to wake the children)

too soon,
we’re lightly dancing off the stage…


updated 1/26/07