one with a balcony
is NOT the place
for a poet
or even someone who pretends to be
there is a sliding glass door to the balcony
and you open it and walk six feet
to the railing which is three feet high
and look down
concrete with gravel
that gives it
a little texture
from 23 floors up
is just as hard
At a High Ledge
The rains have soaked this midnight balcony.
As mute oaks attract the fog, winter waits,
The cold valley's calm releases old ghosts.
To ease the pain, words unsaid are whispered now.
A stark air slides down the neck of regret,
The rains resume, sorrow's shoulders tremble.
Water drones its prayer, rushing from heaven,
And every wetted moment breathes a vow.
Here deities of peace forgive the guilty.
Here agonized souls shudder and wash clean.
Yet rivulets of doubt erode the spirit,
And winter's lathe still holds a sleepless brow.
The rail stands guard, the eyes that close are mine.
I lapsed into rollercoaster
lows of numbness
highs of lawbreaking.
First it was a daily red light
Months later, I still run a red for my morning fix.
But now, my resistance raised, the trip to work
requires a squashed mailbox, squealed
tires, a half-empty beer can slosh-tossed out my window.
I regret my youth squandered on efforts at maturity.
I've been caught shoplifting five times, each time
forgiven for my absentmindedness -- the old guy forgot to pay! --
hundreds of dollars unopened in my basement, radios,
a carb for a 65 Mustang I do not own, clothes for
women, children and 300 pound giants, Haunakkah decorations
-- I'm Christian! -- pool cleaning supplies,
everything I can carry from stores and nattily decorated
pubs and restaurants.
I have not paid for lunch in ages -- I storm into McDonalds
or Burger King irate over yesterday's fictional mistake
with my drive-thru order.
I test drive cars until the dealers take them back.
If I wake to find my loaner reclaimed, I jog
to other neighborhoods and steal cars warming in driveways,
toasty owners splutter coffee on kitchen windows while
I make tracks across the lawn.
Where will it end? I am angry, but not mad enough to
Last year, the thousandth jumper plunged from the Golden Gate.
I envy the rebel car blocking the right lane traffic.
I envy the flight -- blissful arc of freedom.
night in the Lion's Head
the late crowd
in their accustomed places
me stationed at the back bar
Heineken in hand
surveying the scene
sensing trouble brewing
at the end of the bar
where the Reverend O.B.
was holding court
by the way Mike the bartender
was keeping an eye on things
then I heard it
through the undifferentiated din
O.B. turned to the stranger
with whom he had been
arguing about aviation
"You know how to fly?"
"You know how to fly?"
"Well then, why don't you
fly the fuck outta here?"
lying back in the hot tub in his yard
watching the stars above
trying to focus on
a dim pinpoint of light that
might be a satellite
high up moving quickly for a thing
that seemed so far away
when the shooting star blazed down
out of the north
halfway across the sky
a meteoric white and flaming arrow
gone before a second had elapsed
and he closed his eyes
capturing the line of fire on blue retinas
and imagined a blazing chunk falling
plummeting down from the depths of space
direct through the center of his chest
a black and smoking hole
appearing over his breastbone
leaving him dead in cooling water
floating naked into dawn
drawn up and back
with such precision and finesse
as to make the daily news
in every corner
of the world