One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 2

Another installment of poems still waiting in the archives to be heard. Finishing up loose ends.

If you want more details, here’s the Big Long Explanation. Otherwise, just read as many or few of these poems as you’d like. And thank you, as always!

These poems are all from Pink Chalk, published 2018.

In Need of a Finishing School

What about my mastery of
the entire glossary of brain-busting big-time smart talk
what about my collection of chalked in theorems
and theories
I can point you to the laurels I received for
Take you on a tour of
the cognitive hermit’s cave I’ve lived in all these years
and still
I can’t fix a toilet
make a meatloaf or
talk to that goddess who lives on the fifth floor
when I see her on the elevator
I have no idea how you’d fill in the phrase
Like a — out of water
when I see it in a crossword puzzle
(though I did know second letter after epsilon)
I’m not sure why plaids don’t go with stripes
though I do know
don’t wear them together
but I’ve seen people do it and get compliments
I guess my question should be:
who cares?
I guess
I do


Small Town Summer and Nothing to Do So We Took A Drive

It was hot it was summer it was
just before sundown
We peeled out of the parking lot
I was driving
Bon voyage you shouted out the window
screeching so loud fit to loosen our lug nuts

We chewed up that peel
spit it out at the highway interchange
whoa! we’re moving now
ventilate that engine run free

the cars on the road
they all look alike at the speed we’re going and
they all get out of our way just alike
pull hard to the side when I honk the horn
we laugh and laugh

coming through coming through coming through


From a Distance of Thirty Miles

The color that had been driven from
the affection
Let me first see how it happened.

Striving to be composed
the face pale but sedate
free from any symptom of eagerness
and then the one glance –
it was painful cold politeness.
The preservation of silence
was a priority plainly expressed.

I was more than disappointed
could I expect it to be otherwise?
We had no conversation to make
hardly any thoughts in common to speak about
I could do no more
You could do no more

It is a long time since you went away.



The very clever
messages would always be short
They would include a question
that was relevant
they would always start up again
a kind of exhilaration

when a close reading of the
the half-deflected jokes
and the flying-sideways wit

for their unwritten

Dance with me
or not
but I will dance


Office Jangle This Morning

so he said he could get it done in a week
that’s fine I’ll take the bus after nine-thirty

it’s a briefing
do you want to call or do you want me to call
I very much appreciate it I’ll call him now
Let me ask you, do you have a target date?
um hm um hm I see

(in a medium-paced rhythm:
hmmm clank
hmmm clank
copy machine noises)

I was looking for that type of language
it’s all boiler-plate language

is coffee too much to ask?
you know it’s free coffee day tomorrow

How can I help you
doing pretty good after
is it too early
excuse me

they wore cowboy boots in the office
all I had was a pair of leather sneakers

Just an update I talked to him about pictures
(Hah hah hah hah hah

way off across the office,

I’ll speak louder I’m trying
(cross currents of sentence fragments
heard above the hissing of the HVAC.
Stand up so your voice can be heard
above the cubes)

I’m going to say until about noon we can create
a new history
sure I paid it this last week I don’t need to pay it again

Let me give you a laugh, no, you can’t, because
it’s Wednesday

I’ve got a minute here and somebody bugging me
I love to see a person in a pickle



You cut that I’m going to kill you
Burst of laughter.
Like a group of
large cheerful birds chattering in a tree
kitchen staff clatter goes on
and the threats
are just talk. Toast the bagels
set them on plates
the oatmeal needs a stir.
The restaurant is warm
like a flannel-lined nest
or else it’s like
standing next to the oven
baking something sweet
with raisins and nuts.
Rain run downs the plate glass windows.
Fill up the coffee urn again
the dark roast has run out
The sun has just come up and
people are needing warm.


Calculated the Costs

Everyone means so well.
their comforting words so
pushy urge urge urging
you along a path
you don’t want to take.

You want to say:
Shut up
well-meaning people but
Do it
and you are ungrateful.
Shocked looks. Drawing back a step. Eyes opened wide
How dare you.
Hurt feelings strain the social fabric
This new hole in it is your fault.

Seems unfair to be forced into a
thank you
yet one more time
for a gift you never wanted
or asked for
or even hinted.
For taking care of the feelings of others
who are plenty taking care of them already.
For keeping a peace
you don’t feel.

You rip open the hole. You say:
Shut up.
The world does not end
but these well-meaning people,
they will not be meaning well in your direction
ever again.

It feels good.


Escape It

Sea god
gets fed up
grouses about work like anyone else
to air god who says
I know
to earth god
who says
A macro viewpoint
is tiring

While the earth keeps up its off-balance spin
the sun blasts out its red-hot sunburn special
and the laity
two-legged four-legged swimming flying lava thunder giant redwoods in the forest
they behave and misbehave as they will
and a message arrives from afar:

Attend this year’s gathering of responsible entities
meet others who share similar concerns
develop problem-solving skills for emerging challenges
come away with new perspectives on planet management
Luxury accommodations.

Let’s go
Sea god said
There is nothing like a junket
to refresh a jaded outlook

Air god said
I’ll make reservations
Earth god said
I’ll call the babysitter.


The Fates Have Me in Their Hands

We had
no time to rest on our laurels
of being grown up and
settling down
the trousseau so soon required
the purchase of a layette
and three kids later plus
a minivan
that is now full of crumbs
and I have forgotten
why I thought any of this was a good idea
or what happened to my plan to
write novels and visit Hawaii
OK I made that up
I had not gotten so far as to have a plan
except to make sure
I didn’t get left out of what
everyone else was having. I envy
my future self
who tells me
one day
writing novels in Hawaii
will happen
and that she is doing it
right now.


Settle Yourself Into That Chair There

in the kitchen again and making dinner
you slide into a cancan
as you cross the floor
wearing the apron spattered with scorch marks
from frying chicken a while back
The radio playing a selection
reminding you of
a tuba in a scuffle with an oboe
outside a bar
the whole clan of band instruments
looking on
You stir the soup and remember
it’s not a magic potion
just soup
regardless of what your
unsated appetite for mushrooms
and salt
is telling you
The arid desert of homemaking
where unwary wanderers
thirsty and hungry
Lots of people talk about it but
It’s not a place you know
You like it here
with your peeled-nude potatoes
and nervous-nelly asparagus
and putting in some edits

on a spaghetti casserole
Everyone feels better
after a good dinner.
Sit down. Let me feed you.


Just That One Thing

ink black poppy seed
I studied it
the contrast with
your ultra-whitened teeth
the tonal values
camera-perfect superb but
If only a toothpick
had been available
before the interview
the job would have been yours but
I was distracted
watching the
ink black poppy seed
wondering how long it was going to hang on
didn’t catch much of what you said
my fault but
I hired the next person
whose teeth
while they were not as nice
they were not interrupted by
ink black poppy seed.

She is still working here.
well, who knows
if it hadn’t been for –

well, you know.



Been going to here
and going to here
Got here
realize I was already here
a while back
had refused to notice it
Because I

Sit down
with a thump
to think it over
the chair is overstuffed
the seat cushions cold
you know that feeling
I sit here long enough I’ll warm them up
the chair says
I take it as a comment
Now what?


Another Year

The yard guys at work next door
Spring clean up
Ancient evergreen bushes
along the front of the house
They have made it through another winter and
I think every year
why don’t the neighbors
dig them out
get new ones
these are sixty years old
babies planted when the house was built
Now they are elderly over-trimmed eyesores.
One yard guy sets out from the truck
purposeful stride to the bush on the end
I stick a finger into the window blind raise it
to see better. Now I’m interested.
The yard guy takes machete in hand
firm grip squeezes his fingers hard around it
swings and slices
whhht whhht
a couple of the deadest dead branches
fall to the ground
like they are glad
someone finally gave them the OK
to give up. I wait.
The yard guy walks away. My guess is
those bushes will make it to
sixty-one years. I let the blinds fall back into place.
Another spring cleanup. Another escape.
Well, all right, then.