Tag Archives: shopping

December Pencils

Come September – the pudgy-legged nuns waddle down the crowded aisle
The desks pushed enough apart to discourage talking between the students
The space – however – does not to allow easy passage for the polyester penguins
The clever little wooden boxes are held open for the sisters of merciless wrath
Fresh scrubbed faces – barely concealing the terror – search the old rheumy eyes
Is there something missing – did my mother forget to get my Pink Pearl eraser
The No.2 pencil is as long and golden as the last Saturday in August
The green foil lettering – SARATOGA – glares up from the corner of the box
The oblong shape with the engraved No.2 reminds you it’s better than you
In turn each child scuffles to the gray Sanford pencil sharpener to sharpen a pencil

Come December – the old nuns are tired but the kids are waking up to snowy life
Frost on the window is a subtle reminder that things will be better – if only for a while
The classroom is a primitive museum of earnest expressions of controlled creativity
The little wooden boxes – smudged and creased – are a shade of their September selves
The rosy cheeked faces – barely able to hold their tongues – whisper thoughts of joy
Is she really going to assign a paper on capillary action to do over the break
The No.2 pencil is short and stubby – even the eraser is eroded like a snow cone in July
The green foil lettering – SARATO – is smudged and interrupted by nervous teeth marks
The oblong shape is long gone turned to shavings in the belly of the Sanford sharpener
The old nuns inform us the stubs are useless – we’ll have to get new pencils for January

Water Now

I have torn the idols off of the walls
And dropped them in a pile in front of you
You rubbed my face in them
One time too many and now they’re gone
The one or two that remain will shrivel up and die
Then I can rub your face with them
Like I have rubbed your face in the past
And when the operator puts me through to God
I will wait on the line in that parking lot phone booth
Because I have plenty to say to Him
It will take more quarters than I have
But maybe I will be able to reverse the charges
Maybe I can get Him to pay for the call
I am sure that when he sees the piles
Laying on the floor around me
He will take me into his massive heart
And pay for the call and talk to me all night long

I have watched the last cigarette burn away
Like a Westside tenement insurance fire
Blazing upward toward the thick dark sky
Little children crying – clinging to mother’s rib cage
Legs wrapped around mother’s waist like a belt
No Christmas for these little muffins this year
No celebrity clean-up crews to shovel through the debris
From Cicero Avenue all the way to Pulaski and beyond
No one even notices what happened here today
No one hangs their head for a moment in silent prayer
There’s too much going on for anyone to consume
So they walk slowly from street to fear filled street
Burning their cigarettes letting the smoke carry them away
Up into heaven with their big glassy red eyes
Walking now among the clouds in their heavy black shoes
Their voices silenced and their hands jammed into their pockets
Their cigarettes are all gone now and the 7-11 is closed

I have watched the last of the children leave
Slamming the big oak door behind them
A thin handful of snowflakes scurry in – only to die
And you put your love face on for me
But I just want to sit in my big chair
And look out over the pure white winter grass
The big red plastic sled leaving tracks in the snow
They will search for Kilimanjaro
Only to be seduced like Hemingway was
You bring your love face to me and put it in my hands
I pretend not to notice but still you won’t leave
So I take you into my big hairless arms
And I take your weight into my lap where it is safe
My mind is with the children on their journey
The dogs are curled up and sleeping under my chair

She asked me who I was writing for
I told her it was my generation
She didn’t like my answer very much
Your generation doesn’t care she implied
You’re right I returned sadly
The ones who do care can hardly read
She laughed out loud right in our faces
But we knew that she was right this time
Her all-knowing self-righteous generation
With all of their sanctimonious soft-soap politics
They never had anyone to challenge their voices
Theirs was a time when prophets came forth
From the little towns and cities and they spoke out loud
And no one challenged what they had to say
The gypsy-prophet-minstrels that decried the right
My generation is throw away fast food wrapper people
As useful as that one brown shoe that we saw on Rte. 53

I have watched the last fire die out before me
All of the piles of all of the idols are ashes now
I have no place to rub your sad tired soul
I see that you have finally put that love face back into the closet
My generation is still reeling from that 12-year itch
But they really have no excuses anymore
I tried calling God one final time
But the number was no longer in service
What I got was a buzzing noise in my ear
And a set of “crown of thorns” serving plates
The Westside children who missed Christmas
Will find them under the tree at the mission
Or maybe on Lower Wacker Drive – Emerald City
The lucky children have returned from the journey
Their red plastic sled is cracked and dented along one side
Their little red noses are runny and cold like the dogs’
And the snowflakes in the hall have all died water now – water now

At Bockwinkel’s

It was the space between her knee and the ground
That compelled me to look a little longer than maybe I should have
She had her pant leg tied in a single knot
Just below where her knee should have been
It hung there like perfect bunting
On Lincoln’s funeral train that dewy April morning
I looked back down into my miserable clear plastic container
Brimming with brightly colored blandness and Italian dressing
She disappeared into the neon wilderness
Of craft beers and healthy snacks

Michigan Breath and the True Taste of Divinity

Less a penumbra
More a halo
Sticky sweet moisture
And the smell of Michigan
In the summer
She lingers inches from my face
Her tongue a gentle snake
Basking in the afterglow
Of pre-dawn sexual insanity
Unfamiliar scents hang
In the crisp autumn air
I lost you in the electronics aisle
Losing myself for one shaky moment.

The closer I walk
Within His reach
The further I move
Toward my own divinity
Waiting for me
A lover in another room
She is waiting for me
While her taste stays on my tongue
Where I can roll it around in my mouth
The smell of Michigan
On a long summer day
I lost you to my insecurities
Losing myself without salvation

No less permanent
Than forever
A question lingers
Like a misty wisp of smoke
My eyes water
Was it she that chose my future
Was it me by default
Sleeping safe in my best dream
An unfamiliar promise assaults me
Hiding my morning mouth
Behind a cigarette
I’m losing you to what I’ll never know
I’m losing you to my divinity