One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 5

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.

High Strung and Volatile I’m Warning You

The veneer on the table
went feral some time back
peeling off any old way it pleased
Drat this table
who would have thought a ceiling leak
would upset it so much? Anyway
now that it’s too late to bring it back to civilized status
We’ll just have to hope
it will still let us sit down and grab a bite off our plates
before it throws them at us
I guess. Look out
holiday dinner guests.


Reach a Deal

the way things were done
the garage door painted
ended up a shade off
the painter mistook the two for a three
on the paint sample card and so
I live with a garage door
greeting me
picked out in the glare of headlights or
shadowed by the roof overhang or
shapes of leaves moving in the breeze
from the tree next to the driveway
color number three not two and
well I say to myself
it’s not so bad
maybe I really like this color better
maybe maybe maybe
I don’t.


Just the One Thing

can heal the sick
offer sage and cogent advice
on any life problem
fix a broken electrical outlet
file an error-free tax return
remove stains from carpet and
sing a selection from any musical you could name
and do it so that you want to sing along too
Who could not love this neighbor? If only
he would not park his large white van
in front of my house.


Be Specific

Magical purpose
I think not. I think
it is simply a
pen filled with blue-black ink
of ordinary efficacy
It’s the check
on which it has written
a nice variety of numbers
that’s going to do the magic
that’s what.


Should I Be Looking for the Cake?

something’s been overlooked
I know it
but what
how can you plan a wedding
and not leave something
out? It just doesn’t seem right
it just doesn’t seem possible
it just doesn’t seem
that everything in a wedding goes
without a glitch or mismatch or overturn
and so I fret
what oh what
have I forgotten to overlook?


Straight to Final Offer

to make a statement
oh yes
she bought the sofa
and in a week the sofa
was making a statement to her
it didn’t like her
it didn’t like her living room
it would continue to attract
cat hairs and
dropped pizza slices
and scratch the floor with its pointy wooden legs
if she didn’t
admit that the relationship had soured
as soon as they both sat down
agree to work out
an amicable divorce
before things had to get ugly.


These poems are all from Rearrange, published 2018.


Oh so late
for sunny day
sunny warm day
so late in this year
hop grass mown down low
last days
Milkweed burst
white fluff
hair of an old old lady
flecked with brown seeds
pods splayed open
dried and dropping off
in just a minute
the plant staggers
on its way down
to the ground
in goldenrod sun
warm on my back
Last grasshopper days
They know it
I know it
I walk
along the field


Big Personality

The house containing us
not so much
out arguments spill out into the air
circulating the neighborhood
Everybody says
we sure can put on a set-to.
We don’t wash our dirty laundry in public
we immolate it
Therapy for all.

The house containing us
not so much
Our good days
a rosy cloud at knee-level
drifts all along the street
Scoop some up
wash your eye-glasses with it.
Everybody says
we sure can put out a good aura.

Everybody loves coming to our parties
with that great smell of barbequed bad thoughts
wafting over the backyard
and a baby pool we keep filled with
pink champagne. Glasses up!



Remember that small, intense
four years ago
on the train
going from
Philadelphia to Harrisburg
lasting less than one hour
with a person you’ve never seen
before or since
and who is
a person you have never forgotten



and a box of desk drawer items
all you took
when you retired
Looked bad just to walk out
sort of like you thought
thirty years of work was nothing worth remembering
A slap at all those left behind
who haven’t done their thirty years yet
You threw it all in the dumpster
at the back of the parking lot
after your good-bye party
You drove off
finished with appearances
The folders and a box
immediately beginning to decompose
What a nice thought


Fitting In

Then they walked into the office
each choosing a desk
sat down
looked through the drawers
stole some paper clips
left the computers alone.
Ran up the phone bill
with a few out-of-network calls
Drank coffee from the break room
used the guest mugs
left them unwashed
Out the door at four o’clock
official quitting time was five.
No one noticed a thing.


Next World Please

White and colorless against a chalky background
the translucent spider inched around a rough spot
vanished in the most unassuming way
a ghost uninterested in this world
absorbed in finding its way to
somewhere else.


On the Limited

Good looks and breezy manners
well, there you have it
if only I’d had more time to get to know him
but how much can you really do
on a commuter train
at six-forty-five in the morning?


Sinking Sensation

Squeezing hard on the thought
with the idea that
surely it would compact itself down
into something manageable
if enough pressure was applied
but the darn thing was slippery
greased up, more like it
and resisting in every direction
Maybe this topic should have been left alone.


6 thoughts on “One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 5

  1. What a wonderful collection of poems. I will comment on a few that really jumped out to me for personal reasons.

    “Big Personality” could – with a tweak of a few details – depict the house I grew up next door to. There were a series of occupants but they were always full of conflict and violence that would spill out onto the street. Little me used to ponder whether there was something about the house that attracted hostile, aggressive people or whether something about the house turned ordinary people ferocious.

    I have had the experience your poem “Indelible” conveys several times in my life. It is surprising how often I can think of someone who I only encountered and interacted with fleetingly. Some people make a big impression, I guess. It has led me to sometimes contemplate whether I have ever made that kind of brief but lasting impression on someone, whether I have become the subject of an anecdote they share.

    Finally, “Straight to Final Offer” amused me and I enjoyed the bathos of “Just the One Thing”.

    • Thank you. I think there is a house like that in every neighborhood. Funny you mention that you wondered if it were the house doing the transforming, because I thought the same thing about one in our area. I now believe the house sends out an aura and the right people respond to it. Although of course sometimes people just come along and corrupt a perfectly unaware house (the question is then – will it go along with the new ways and maybe even like them, so that the next family…you get my point!) As for Indelible, I believe each one of us has been on both sides of this equation. I am certain there are people out there who remember you and you have no ides.

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