Pig Iron

The rusted rickety shopping cart rolls down Fulton Street
The conductor’s eyes are cast down and his shoulders slump
Shards of architect’s ideas weigh him down in scraps and snips
He senses the presence of the foreigners – but still will not look up

These people will never push a cart full of pig iron across these pot holed streets
These people will never dig into a dumpster on south Ashland Avenue for food
These people will never feel the burning pain of hunger or the reminders of failure
These people don’t belong on Fulton Street west of Ashland on recycling day

Love is brutal she said

Love is brutal she said
Like a big knotted fist
In the mouth of a baby

If I can’t kiss you
Let the fist do its worst
Love will break your teeth for you

Love digs into your skin she said
Like that old kitchen appliance
That splits your tender fingertips

If I can’t touch you
I have no use for these fingertips
Love will split them for all they’re worth

Walk Me Through Your Peru

Walk me through your Peru on a summer’s morn
Where the distant echo of the trumpet
From the wrinkled trunk of the massive
Invisible elephant fills your soul
Bringing you back to greasepaint and dreams
Bringing you back to calliopes and sawdust

Take me beyond the crushed peanut shells
And the sticky sweet smells of caramel corn and candied apples
And the haze of danger looming overhead without a net

Walk me through your Peru on a summer’s afternoon
Show me the bountiful table with golden fried chicken
And corn-on-the-cob that glistens and green beans so fresh they snap
Corn bread with some lumps in it – gravy with none
And a tall cold glass of milk

Walk me through your Peru on a summer’s evening
Deliver me at last to the star-filled night
Where we lie on our backs and connect the constellations
You hand in my hand – my heart in your hand
On our backs in the tall grass – gazing up to the heavens
Gazing up from your Peru

 

October 29, 2013

Her voice sounded like a pigeon playing an ancient cello on 63rd Street and May Avenue
At dusk on an autumn evening when hate was still an infant and innocence not yet a sin

She liked ballin’ the jack where she could stretch her loving arms straight out in space
But keep her knees pressed close together to preserve the last remnants of womanhood
And then you twist around and twist around with all of your might

She wrestled with mortality and lost more often than not – but she never backed down
She bargained with the saints and then she beat them with two queens and two jacks

Every book in her sacred room was open – she loved when the wind turned the pages
Every word was a nugget to be savored and treasured and shared with the hungry

She was truly known by few – but sincerely loved by all

The Seeker

For Nancy Lee
10/30/2013

I don’t remember asking for the rain – but I am glad it decided to come this afternoon
The day after the Seeker went on her final journey of discovery was the best time for it
The Seeker has been so far away for so long – now she is farther away from my body
The Seeker has been so far away for so long – now she is closer to my soul than ever

Then the rain came and it washed away anything that may have blemished a memory
Universal voices sing The Seeker’s praises as she skips down the road of her own making
There is a quartet of voices – who have created other voices – who will be her legacy
This is more than The Seeker asked for but – somehow – less than she deserves

On a Rooftop in Cicero

Because a lifetime ago something happened on a rooftop in Cicero
And no one ever really got the whole story
So we filled in the blanks ourselves
Ours was a much better story anyway
It was all about this guy one summer night on a rooftop in Cicero
His mother was taking him back to where he came from

When he saw her face in the drunken haze of the shameful moon
He wanted to push her off of that rooftop in Cicero
She moaned and reached for his throat as she opened her eyes
There is some truth here – some of this story is true
She looked in the eyes of her own son and didn’t know what to do

Now his oldest son looks just like his best friend
It is uncanny how much his kid looks like his oldest friend
No one here seems to want to talk out loud about it

The Fighter in Repose

Bobbing and weaving through round after round without a trace of grace or irony
The fighter knows nothing but the fight – the endless fight that can’t seem to break him
Then the bell – he hears the bell – the sweet melodic chimes that call him to come home
He sits quietly in his corner – one hand full of love – the other full of peace
Like a solid roundhouse from a ropey southpaw – he never saw this coming – not here – not now
Like a Christmas kiss from Grandma on his frosty cheek he never felt anything better – not ever
The fighter is exhausted but he is done bobbing and weaving – for now anyway