box of crayons

swimming in the great saltwater
aquarium known as the ocean,
I see so many wild sights:
delicate periwinkle fish;
velvety black fish with electric blue
borders on their fins;
turquoise and green fish;
smallish fish with tiny
bright blue spots
on a field of darkest
midnight blue, a starry night,
electrified; green and pink
fish who look like they got
their color scheme from a
Polo Ralph Lauren catalog;
muddy brown fish with lighter
scales like pebbles and
dusty orange bellies; small
black fish with bright yellow tails
who dart out and attack
much bigger fish when the latter
invade their territory; tiny
fish with mud-brown heads
and ghostly white, almost translucent
bodies, who hide themselves
in holes in the coral so that
only their heads show.

I can hear a constant quiet
scritching sound
that surely must be the fish
nibbling away at the coral,
and then I swim over a school
of big blue and green parrot fish
and I see them taking bites
and hear the loud crunching
sound their beaks make.

my hair floats into my face
and it’s the same colors
as the coral – washed-out blonde,
greenish with hints of purple.

I follow a school of the periwinkle
and blue-black fish
for what feels like hours.
as I watch, it seems like
their colors change and become
subtly more intense
and beautiful. maybe it’s a
trick of the light. all I know
is that it feels like
some kind of benediction.

the Swan

my brother bought
an extremely large
inflatable white swan
for the pool. I helped
him to blow it up –
it’s full of our
mingled breath – but
I don’t always like
the looks of it.
it floats around
and stares at me accusingly
with its big eyes
when I’m smoking in the
middle of the night.
even when there are no
water currents, it
seems to move
of its own accord.

creepy white swan,
I’ll be glad when I
no longer have to
look at your stupid face.
I secretly hope
you get punctured by
a falling branch.

the psychic hotline

I can sense it, you know,
when you’re thinking about me.
even from miles away.

I was minding my own business
when I started to dream
strange daydreams
in which the way we weren’t
wasn’t killing me by degrees.
I felt a longing that I cannot
explain, because I’m so
over you. I really am.

but suddenly the last time
we really talked – when I felt
the spark – came unbidden
into my head
and I saw your eyes
twinkling into mine
in my mind’s eye
and tears leaked from
my real eyes onto
my pillow and
those stupid useless
feelings tried their best
to rise from the dead,
shambling and ill-made
like zombies conjured by
an amateur necromancer.
then the spell broke, it faded
like a fever dream,
like a fit of madness
and I was myself again –
the self you didn’t want
when I was available.

look. you had your chance –
I gave you about a million
of them, to be honest –
and you blew it, over
and over. for
whatever reason
you claimed you
didn’t love me
that way, the way I
needed. and now
I love someone else
and he loves me back
and for the first time
in a long time,
I’m happy.

so don’t bother
trying to call me
on the psychic hotline.
I know better now
than to pick up.

the Last Poem

every time I write a poem
I think to myself, what if this
is the last one I ever write?
eventually one poem
will have to be the last.
I could make this one
the last by refusing
to write another one.
I did that twenty years ago
but then I wrote another. but
what if it’s not any good?
what if the first poem
I ever wrote was my best
and it’s all been downhill
ever since? these are the things
that keep me up at night
sometimes.

Tropicalia

this place is wild with nature:
great green leaves like jewels
trembling in the rain with sips of
water held in their emerald cups,
little brown striped lizards
bopping and hopping around
like windup toys, sleek
dark grackles with feathers
that gleam iridescent in the bright
sunlight. at night the tree frogs
creak out their intermittent,
ugly song, while the pool
lights change colors with
aching, subtle slowness
like the way my mind changes
when I’m not noticing. I look
and they’re purple; I look away
and then they’re green. only the
steps and the walls remain
the same, like buried ruins
from some underwater civilization,
some long lost cousin
of Atlantis. I could live here
and forget about life
for a while.

today.

you made me breakfast
today. I stepped on your toe
today. we watched
a game show and I felt stupid
today. we had sex twice
today. I wondered if
the bloom was off the rose
because of me and my
tactless big mouth
today. how could anyone
who doesn’t hate himself
want me? I still don’t
understand it, but I love you
and I think, I hope
you still love me.
I hope it’s the first
of many days where
we work it out and enjoy
each other through
thick and thin
like we did
today.

gratitude

you came to our show. I know
this place is your home away
from home, and it would
almost be abnormal
if you didn’t come, but
still. none of our
other friends showed. for what
it’s worth, I appreciate
it. thank you.