what it’s like

when you break a glass
and for months, years afterwards
you find those sharp-edged shards
in the most unexpected places?
it’s like that.

that bread you forgot about,
there’s only a hard crust left
and it looks so lonely that
you eat it anyway, and then
it cuts up your mouth?
like that.

that little table clock,
the one that sits high
up on the bookshelf,
the one that lies constantly,
the one that doesn’t want to
work any more, the one that’s given up
for want of a new battery?
the one that no one notices
in its beatless silent solitude
but you? the one that
if you did try to fix it,
would be sure to spitefully fall
right on your foot?
it’s like that.

but even that dead clock is right
twice a day. too bad I can’t
say the same for the thing
(a wounded, wounding, icy
shard that rankles;
a churlish, shriveled crust
that rots and plots revenge;
a wind-up toy that won’t perform
its only purpose)
inside my chest.


time seems to fly
when I’m talking to him.
when I’m alone it crawls
like a broken insect
from which someone
has removed the wings. my father
did that as a child, so
I know a little bit
about wanton cruelty.

left to my own devices
I limp around lying
to myself, lie around limply,
longingly let loose
my languishing love
in languid dreams
and hazy, dimly lit reveries
about something I know
can never be. these surreal hours
are of time but not in it;
they don’t count.

I’m just
for real time to resume,
dying for the second
the clock is resuscitated
so my heart, too,
can beat again.


I walk down the street,
my hair half
damp from the shower
because I’m late
as usual
and didn’t have time
to dry it properly. I feel
the wind drying it for me, the air
touching me all over, tiny
loving caresses, remember
the sky earlier when the clouds
seemed to sway and dance lightly
in place for my amusement,
and wonder at how
nature loves me so
and is not afraid
to touch me,
finds nothing wrong
with me
or heart
and why it is that you
can’t just be
more natural.

the wish

the host said
if we put money in the tip jar,
we would each
get a wish. I thought
that I would concentrate
on my wish as I put the money in,
but when the time came
I forgot. I was too busy talking
to you.

I wondered
if my lack of focus
would prevent my wish
from coming true.
but then I remembered
that I’m always wishing
for the same thing, with
absolutely zero hope
of it ever coming true.
my whole being
is one big wish
these days. I’ll just have to hope
the wish-granting genie
will accept the purity
of my desire
in lieu of a momentary spurt
of attention.

constant reader

there once was a girl
in your life
that meant something.
I don’t know if you dated her
or slept with her
or even just
wrote poems about her
but I do know one thing.
dear constant reader,
you married her.
unsuccessfully, as it turned out,
though I’m sure that was
no fault of yours.

she asked you
to drive to a southern city,
and put you up
in a hotel, and finally
to officiate
at her wedding.
in unrelated news,
she’s now divorced.
which I guess could be good
for you, if she was the one
that got away. you’ve got
another chance.
maybe this time
you can make it stick.

the secret of my prolificity

“You’ve been writing a lot
of poems lately,”
he says to me. “Yeah,” comes my
suspicious reply.
“Are they all about
the same person?”
“No,” I say, and give a harmless example
of one I wrote recently
to a different ex on the subject of
the dissolution of his marriage.
(nothing nostalgic
or lovelorn vis-a-vis him, per se,
just advice I wish
someone had given me
before I wasted nine years of my life
on yet another man.)

the question he’s really asking
is whether there’s someone new
in my life who has
inspired me. I dare not say
the bald and/or naked truth,
which is that there is,
because it’s you and I
have no right to claim inspiration
where love does not dare
to speak its name.

I’d far rather pretend
that this sudden burst
of creativity has nothing to do
with you, just like you will
have nothing to do –
at least in any romantic context –
with me.

just in case

if you’re wondering
why I’m asking the whole world
for help, but not you,
it’s because
you can’t help me. well,
in theory you could,
but you don’t want to.
the help I need
seems to be beyond your power
to give me.

someone else
will have to step up
and take over
when all I want is to be held
and told that I’ll be okay,
that I’m not going to die alone,
that someone loves me.

even if it’s not true.
sometimes, late at night
I’m alone enough
to long for the comfort
of a heartfelt lie.