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Category: My poems

POEM: Needles

Needles

There’s a big needle on the TV show I’m watching.
I never realized how many needles there were
in all the shows and movies until I met you.
You hated needles. “Nope,” you’d say
and quickly look away when one appeared.
After hearing all the stories about your mom
having to hold you down at the doctor’s office,
I went with you to get your blood work done.
The nurse was so friendly, and the three of us
spent the whole time laughing and telling stories.
And you did so well. There was a basket of stickers
on the wall of the exam room and you got one
from the nurse on the way out. Star Wars I think.
Today I saw the needle on the sci-fi show,
and I thought I’d give a lot to stand there
next to your chair in the exam room.
To watch you overcome your fears.
To hold your hand and laugh together.
Then to walk back out into the sunlight.

/ / /

4 December 2022
State College PA

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POEM: Young Boy Blues

Young Boy Blues

Digging through an online directory
I came across a copy of Jon Cleary
singing “Young Boy Blues” on
Harry Shearer’s radio show back in the day
and I think this is the first time
I’ve heard it since I lost you
and so I’m sitting in the
fucking grocery store of all places
and trying not to cry because
the college kids eating their sushi
and the parents trying to get their kids
to sit down for a few minutes to eat pizza
wouldn’t appreciate a middle-aged man
being reduced to tears with his headphones on
and anyway I’m not sure 49 is really middle-aged
because the current life expectancy for a white male
is 77 and that means the middle of life would be 39
and my current age is nearly two-thirds of the way
to the part where I won’t be able to listen
to Jon Cleary sing “Young Boy Blues” anymore anyway.

/ / /

22 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: Digging Bill Evans

Digging Bill Evans

I was 21, driving a used car,
no money in the bank, a job
as a waiter in my uncle’s restaurant
awaiting me in the desert.
I moved into a studio apartment:
a bed, a small sofa, a scuffed old
round table from the restaurant.
I had my stereo from back east;
the library across the street
had CDs. I’d sign them out
then sit on the floor, head
between the speakers, trying to
find my way into the music.
Now I have a 20-year-old son.
I can’t afford a studio apartment.
I don’t have a job waiting for me.
I’m still trying to find my way
into whatever story the music is telling.

/ / /

21 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: Bound

Bound

Tramping through a snowy wood
a few feet behind her,
he remembers all the times
they’ve been here before.
Not these particular woods,
but alone together on a walk,
talking about books or movies
or music, pointedly not talking about
the other people who might wonder
where they are, and with whom.
Their boots crunch in a broken rhythm.
Occasionally a branch whips back;
she looks to make sure he’s OK.
Rust said: Time is a flat circle.
She’s never seen that show.
But she’d get it. And she knows
where they are on that particular arc.
Cars go by through the trees ahead.
The real world is always close at hand,
however muffled by the snow.

/ / /

18 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: A Winter Poem

A Winter Poem

Winter is more insidious than summer.
The low-angled sun is a dull blade,
sheathed in bitter grey.

In winter I play old music.
The music my grandparents listened to
as they took me to Friendly’s or to

a clarinet lesson in the next town over.
It’s the music of nostalgia and longing
and emptiness. Winter music.

Winter creeps into my thoughts,
warns of the approaching holidays,
sets a single place at the table.

In these months my fingers are always cold.
I sit hunched, arms crossed,
conserving what little heat I can muster.

Not every place has a winter.
At least not the way I mean it.
I’ve spent Christmases by the pool,

New Year’s Eves under warm, soft skies.
A friend says, “You’re a real New Englander.”
I say, “Only in disposition.”

/ / /

14 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 11 November 2022 (and a break)

a million droplets
a million pixels
van life in the rain

/ / /

11 November 2022
State College PA

Day 600 of the haiku notebook project. I’m going to take a break from this project. I’m doing that for two reasons: I’d like to focus on longer poems, and I noticed that forcing myself to write a haiku every day means I sometimes write when I don’t have very much to say. I really like the form, but I’d like to take a little pause from it.

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POEM: I Get Sad At Planet Fitness

I Get Sad At Planet Fitness

I always get sad in the shower at Planet Fitness.
I miss the little things: sharing a bathroom,
going grocery shopping, holding hands on a car trip
to see your parents. I miss them, too.
Don’t you think life was better when we had each other?
I mean I know the answer to that question.
But finding out the answer is no is like discovering
I’ve been misunderstanding the lyrics to a song.
I looked at us and saw our future.
You looked at us and saw your past.

/ / /

10 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 10 November 2022

up before the sun
talking into the ether
the window is a black rectangle

/ / /

10 November 2022
State College PA

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POEM: A Supermarket In Pennsylvania

A Supermarket In Pennsylvania

I call this my supermarket period.
I’ve mostly been living
in grocery store cafes since April.
Over time you get to know the rhythms.
You recognize the regulars;
fellow drifters or room renters
or nomads or the unhoused.
I assume the workers know my face,
although I never speak to them
and they never speak to me.
I wonder what stories they might imagine
to explain those of us who are here
every day. Probably they don’t
invent a story at all, because
why would they?
We’re phantoms, passing through
the walls but somehow not
falling through the floors.
Eventually each of our
supermarket periods will end.
We’ll move on or find housing
or get arrested or die.
The hours and hours we’ve piled up
in these identical seats
will dissolve into the ether,
leaving the occasional ring
on a tabletop, soon wiped away.

/ / /

7 November 2022
State College PA

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haiku: 7 November 2022

“tell others
what you have seen today”
OK: two squirrels & lawn mower

/ / /

7 November 2022
State College PA

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