It's like my life is over and there's nothing left but the memoir.


Zelda Aged

When she holds her arms just so they become stringy
Like sinews only it's really just skin over less flesh
If she were a cow
Or a hen
She'd only be fit for boiling
Her profile is a bit sloped
From the belly to the chin
She has some spots
Here and there
Other than that
She's as beautiful as ever
And as mouthy.
"Let me tell you about liberals, she says.
Buncha whiny little girls.
You know what's wimpy?
A guy who drinks light beer.
That stuff sucks the testosterone right out of their balls.
And whatever happened to good cigars?
And men?
What I wouldn't give for a man with a decent right cross,
A willing hand to hold,
And lots of stamina."
The bartender handed me my whiskey and whispered

Thank God she hasn't changed.

Zelda has not left the building...

Zelda in paradise (8/2015)

Wait! Wait! I can catch it!
Zelda circles wildly, arms stretched wide, eyes tight shut.

Sweetheart, beware.
If that coconut hits you on the head
It might knock some sense into you

Zelda pauses, thinking
Lowers her arms
No, no. Sense is something I can’t afford
Her eyes fill with tears
I can’t afford to stop loving him
What will I have to dream about?

All those blessed sheep?


Another one I shall edit tomorrow, but hey, this is my damn blog and I'll post what I want to.

Reflections on a Treefrog 

I am moving beyond
The empty road
Looking to the empty sky
On either side are palms
The sidewalk stretches white and cold
Black lines segmenting my world
Into possible yards.

He is no longer part of the calculation
He is not part of the rhythm of my walk
Or my song
Only a one-note waltz
Interrupting the song of sorrow
Or Mozart
As I pass a familiar landmark

But soon after
After a tear or two
I am caught up in issues I can’t control
Or problems I can solve
I emerge into the world
I now inhabit
Without him

And the dream of something warmer cools.


The Empty Wind

Listen, hear that?
What, Zelda?
The wind. It's sighing.
I cock an ear.
Sounds more like whistling.

No. It's the sad wind, the forlorn wind
The wind of dying dreams.
It sighs for never loves.

What rubbish. What are 'never loves' anyway?

You don't know? They're the people who
Long to love and never find it who
Pray for love, wish on stars for love, look into each face that passes
Thinking, "He's the one."
The one who wakes up each morning believing that today will be the day when
He'll meet her
Their eyes will lock and he will whisper, "She's the one."
They never give up.

Well, that's just stupid. At some point isn't it better to move on?
Fashion your own life?
Make your own way?

Zelda stubbed her cigar out. "Tell me something.
What's the first thing you think about when you wake?

Okay, the weather.

Tommy brings a fresh drink to Zelda. She tosses it in my lap.
Used to this treatment, I mop it up and order another.
A pregnant silence ensues.  I know
From experience
That Zelda cannot stand pregnant silences. I wait.
"Liar." She spits it out unwillingly.
"Yes. I think of him."
She leans forward, cheeks tense,
Chin wobbly.
"Him? Who?"

"Him who isn't afraid. Him whose eyes light up when challenged.
Who has a story to match every story, but remembers
All mine. The man with a mind that never sleeps
Except with me.

Zelda sips her martini.
The wind whips the curtains into dust devils.
Far out in the bay a water spout rises, rips the clouds apart,
and falls back exhausted into the deep.

Finally she says
Never love.
I know, Zelda. I know.


Shut up, says Zelda 
I've heard enough
I want to neck with Bubba here and you're interfering
With your gurgling and burbling and general
Shut up
He didn't love you
He didn't even like you
You want me to clarify?
He's a moron.
A given, says I.
You're a moron.

 The Nanny
She was there
You know
At the dawn of time
Of course she looked a bit different
Sort of green
With gills
And very sharp teeth
The teeth remained
And still bite
When the situation demands.
But Zelda
Ah, she is ages in the making
Not eternal, mind you
Only God is that
But she has been with humankind since the beginning
Nudging, pushing, nagging, pinching
Us to move forward
To be what God expects
The Great Nanny

Every child's nightmare.




What is a wine-dark sea
T o a white wine drinker
I was being funny
And a little drunk
Zorba didn’t laugh.

Zelda did.


Bumbershoot 12/12/14

It's supposed t o be three strikes
That we can deal with
Us women
But when they come fast and furious
Strike after strike
Like the Dresden
Even a woman falters
And you realize that a woman is only as strong

As the man who holds the umbrella over her head.


Living 12/2014 


Put the silver thingy over there
No…there. Oh for God's sake, I'll do it.
Zelda, this is supposed to be a simple affair
It doesn't matter if the tree is perfect

Perfect? Of course it has to be perfect.
Everything has to be perfect
The tree, the lights, the presents, the smiles
The joy
And it can't be faked
I'll know
She peers into my soul
You are not in the spirit
Yes, Zelda
I have no reason to be
She jerks back
Dropping the crystal angel
With a tinkle and a cry
Zelda, I need love
I need comfort and
I need something beyond what I make myself
Something impinging on me
Some vestige of hope belief faith
That I didn't manufacture myself.
A sign
That God loves us
A great big roadblock kind of sign
A red sign
Or orange
In huge bold block letters
Oh yeah lady it's worth it.

Zelda's hands drop to her sides,
The champagne flute falls and breaks
Worth it?
Whatever you do is
Worth it.
That golden smile that
Chirrupy laugh, that deep look into a sad person's eyes;
That hesitation and waiting for the old fellow to catch up,
And the hard-fought patience as he trips along
Behind you
Talking a mile a minute about the things
His wife used to love hearing.

Oh yes, it's worth it to
The lady in the linen store who turns to you and suddenly
Talks of her granddaughter
The one in Ohio
The one she'll never see because she's just been diagnosed…

Or the woman with everything
Her grandchildren, her great grandchildren
Do you have a minute? she opens her wallet.
Here' s little Becky, the apple of her father's eye and oh here, here
Are my great great grandchildren
Me? No. No.
Michael…My Michael is gone forever.

It's worth it to
The man who walks every morning
Stumping hard on his sturdy legs
Eyes down
Radio on,
Who checks to see if you're looking
As he passes
And smiles angelically when he sees you are
And gaily trills
Good morning.

These are the soldiers
In the slow late afterlife of
Babies and children and jobs and lost dreams
These are the ones who soldier on
In the garden of Gethsemane
They are supposed to be happy
They should be happy
This is, after all, paradise
It just needs

Golf Balls (12/2014)

Zelda was aghast.
You're kidding. You told him that?
I topped off my champagne flute and watched the bubbles rise.
I did. I don't know what came over me.
You betcha. Fool.
You're telling me. His face closed up like an apple tree in Oz.
A what?
Er…like a bad clam?
Zelda considered.
You took it back, right?
No time. I lit out of there.
She puffed on the cigar. No time, huh? No time
To tell him off.
No time
To kick those precious balls in
No time
To describe how you really feel about golf fanatics.
But you had the fucking time to tell him you loved him.
Zelda lights another cigar.

Welcome home.


Michael is my favorite name. I have known and loved several Michaels. Only one of them deserved the name. These poems are not about him.

A Michael poem:
Immortal Agony 6/1/2009)

It’s just a dream
A handkerchief sodden
With tears

A wish on a moon
A pace on the porch
In the cold night

It’s a myth
Like Orion or the goddess fleet of foot looking for golden apples
The one who fell in love with a mortal

A dream

It was just a dream
The perfect one
The listener
His eyes fastened on my lips

It was just a myth

The white knight.

And all that is left is a smear of white chalk
Outlining the man

On the floor.

Another one: 

The Red Sea 8/08
Michael is dead.
I stand here next to his relics.
The many thousands
The untold multitude
Of my lovers
Stand on the other side of the sea.
They wave cheerfully
Some holding hands with their loved ones
None seem despondent.

On this side
I stand
in hand
My soul pooling on the asphalt next to my withered roses
At the corner of Portner Road and my personal cliff

But nothing parts.
Life goes on

Michael is still dead.

I have a large collection of poems featuring Zelda--an amazing, provocative, wistful, fearless, cruel and generous friend. And completely fictional. Really.

 New ones:

Dead Shells

Zelda waved an electronic cigar at the waves
This is…nice.

Nice? This is paradise. What's
The matter with you?
I point at the surf rising on an empty strip of sand
We stop to listen as the waves ripple over the dead shells
Making the same snap crackle pop
As a former breakfast cereal
Only more dramatically.
This is not just nice.

She puffs a while.
It's missing something

It is not.
My hostility is a trifle over the top
Even to my ears.

Puff. Puff. You have to ask him.


Oh for God's sake, that's a silly question.
This isn't Jeopardy.

All right. What am I asking?
I wrap a towel around and dip a toe in the surf.
A wave rips toward me.
I lose my footing and fall flat on my butt.
The wave crashes over my head
Spluttering, I come up laughing.

Zelda sends a smoke ring over my head and out into the gulf where
A dolphin breeches and dives through the circle
Like some kind of advertisement for dolphins
Or cigars.

Ask him if he'll see you in the light of day.

It Gets Worse

I'd almost made it out the door.

Going somewhere?


You're skipping town again, aren't you?


Zelda grabbed my shirt tail and yanked.
I huff and puff and yank back.
You are out of line this time, sister
He wants no part of me
My cave is waiting
My muse is beckoning

Zelda is not amused
Your fucking muse is just bored.
Last night in Valhalla?
She spun the bottle and let it land on you. Ha!  You're it.
Lucky you
You get to write the play the gods are waiting for
And while you're writing it
He's gone.

Happy now?

Cheetos  3/2010?

Zelda was staring
At my plate
The shrimp were piled high
Glistening in the evening sun
You haven’t touched them
I hang my head
I’m sorry Zelda

She stood  and beat her breast
The other guests paused
Forks held aloft
I caught those shrimp for you
I skewered them, grilled them,
Set them before you.
No, you didn’t Zelda.
Zelda subsided, but not before
Accepting scattered applause.

I look away from her
To the darkling sea
Sigh softly
It is true.
Life and shrimp hold no attraction for me
Zelda watches me
Like a hyena
Quick as a cat she leans in, pinches my forearm hard
You fool, she hisses
If you’re not careful I’ll disappear
She snaps her fingers
A diner at the next table vanishes.
I say nothing.

Zelda…don’t leave me.
She closes her eyes
Stubs out the cigar
Tosses off her martini.
Chewing thoughtfully on the olive

It’s…I don’t know…different this time.

No sound.  Her eyes remain closed.

I can’t free myself
I’m stuck.

Nonsense.   Men are Cheetos.
They stain your lips and
Your fingers
Pass through your digestive tract
Laying waste to the juices
Leave  your body tingling
And your colon devastated.
They are destructive viruses.
Have I taught you nothing?

I hang my head
The sunset is fierce . 
Manolo brings another vodka. 
Smiles at him
Their eyes lock.
He leans toward her
His eyes close
His lips part
Zelda gently

Smashes a Cheeto on his teeth.


Zelda went missing
This Thanksgiving
As she did last year
She will not be present for Christmas
Holidays are wicked
She claims
They deliberately inflict pain.

I demur.
You are the one causing pain
You leave us.
It’s an argument she appreciates,
As a tear slips down a dry cheek,
Doesn’t believe.
God is not here
Zelda says.
If it’s such a holy day
Why isn’t he here?
You don’t need me
You need Him.

So she pays the taxi

And boards the plane.


Marilyn is Dead

When I was young
I was almost Zelda.
When I was young
I was half Monroe.
When I was young
I was half everything
Nothing whole.

At half-life
Am I Monroe?

Or Zelda?


I go to the farmers’ market with Zelda.
She buys flowers
For her lover’s ex-lover
And sends them
Squashed into a nine-by-eleven manila envelope.
She agreed after considerable debate,  not

To include a note.


What is a wine-dark sea
T o a white wine drinker
I was being funny
And a little drunk
Zorba didn’t laugh.

Zelda did.

march 2008

Idiot’s delight

Zelda mused.
She hates that.
It forces her to slow down to ponder to
Her best thinking is done on the run.
With an irritated frown she
Scrutinized me
I had long ago given up on making
Myself invisible.
I could only wait.

You, she mused,
Are an idiot.
Dumbfounded, I cried:
Two fucking hours
To come up with that?
I’m an idiot?
I told you that yesterday.
Just what I need:
Advice from my own mouth.

Zelda continued to regard the carcass.
Her lips twitched.
Fingers drummed.
The waiter was well trained
A martini lay at hand in seconds.
She breathed.  The waiter breathed.
The maitre d’ breathed.
I did not.
Uppity is not an acceptable attitude.
I would pay.

“Fucking?” The tone itself hurt.
Like Camille, I rallied.  “So?”
Oh yeah?
Yeah, well, “tch” me to go my own way
“Tch” me to leave love
To dump love
“Tch” me to hate men like you do,

Halfway to her lips the martini paused.
Silence descended on the room;
The waiter crouched behind the bar
Along with the bartender and three waitresses.

Wait for it.

I stood my ground.
Throat constricted.
Goosebumps inside the elbows.

Zelda took a sip. 
Smiled at me.
Set the martini down.


You could be wrong.

Zelda where art thou    10/2014

I get a flashback
Now and then
Of me
Crouching on the floor at the end of
The long hallway
In my flat in Cairo
Forty years ago.
No sounds
Other than the low buzz of Cairo traffic
I held a pad of paper in one hand
And a pen in the other
The drink on the floor before me.
I wrote furiously
Hoping my roommate
Wouldn't interrupt
But such moving gibberish
I knew if anyone ever read it they would be moved
And reach for a drink
Or a person
Whatever was nearer or more possible

Here I am forty years later
On the floor
Drink in hand
Hoping these words will move someone
Still gibberish
But with a bit more flare.


Death by Wish (2014)

Zelda stood next to the exhibit
I mean, Irene
Three hundred fifty thousand dollars
For shit on a spoon?
Irene suppressed her own snigger
Well, it is a…LARGE… spoon
Zelda continued to contemplate.
We are among friends, Irene.
They believe in this stuff, Zelda.
They are barren, Irene.
Zelda finishes her free champagne.
Out.  Now.

Let’s go find an idea.

Back together after all these years (6/14)

It's been a long time
Zelda bit off the end of the Cuban and spit it out.
Where have you been?
I missed you.
Did you need me?
You knew my number.
But I didn't know if you'd answer.

Pause to regroup.



The trapeze
Was high overhead
Zelda looked at me

I took the rope
In both hands
Ready to fly.

Why me?
You, who carried me over so many cliffs
Why do you sit on the ground?
Why do you make me fly for you?

Because it’s time.


Zelda sat on the bar stool
($15, hand-rolled from Ybor City)
In one hand
JD in the other
Jimmy did like the way she rolled his parts
But she had to put him down to pick up the smoke.
“Emmy, you are a consummate ass.”
(She calls me Emmy when I’ve endeared myself to her.)
I twizzle silently.  There will be more.
“Ass.  Chump.  What else?”
“You tell me, Zelda.”
“That I will.”
She put down the cheroot and picked up Jimmy.
Hefting his private parts, she shouted,
“See these nuts?  Playthings.  And Jimmy likes that.
Now you, Princess, 
You think nuts are attached to something
A tree maybe
And you think that tree’s gonna shade you protect you
Keep you warm and safe.  Well Missy,
“You mean nuts, right?”
“No, nuts you can count on for sustenance.

It’s the trees that are worthless.”


How strangely it fell
The snow in Samos.
Only Zelda liked it
And me.
We rolled balls into snowmen,
Labeled them
According to our fancy.

One was Otis
After my pet ceramic frog.
If you turn him to the left
He has a sly expression'
From the right
A knowing smile
But his heart is alive
And he is capable of true love.

The other one we named Michael
Because he was so cold
And empty.
The villagers came out
To watch
Zelda held still in that way she has when she is about to alter viewpoints
Held the cement block over Michael
And dropped it.

Sic semper tyrannis.

Zelda helps me cope in:

Advance Directive 

He will be gone soon
Zelda promised
She is my mentor my Muse
My angel
My interlocutor with God
She says he will be gone soon
Where do I go to fill the hole?
What can I fill it with?
My dreams are dead
My eyes are dead
All that is left is a throat for the wine
And an Advance Directive.




I am sitting here wishing dawn were farther off but
The sky has accepted a deep teal.
When I rose
White swatches appeared in it, as though God had thought better of his work
And erased bits.
Does He?

Does He look at me and think, Oops?


Do they stay the winter?
Zelda clutched the binoculars staring
Out at the hordes of voracious starlings
Swarming my back yard.


Do you feed them all winter?



So that they’ll love me.

Zelda put down the binoculars
Grinned at me and said

I thought so.

****************************** ***********

Having it all 

Zelda flipped the switch.
Nothing happened.
Try the faucet
I turned the handle
Nothing happened
Well at least the telephone works….

Welcome to my house.

Not long ago
Low expectations were acceptable
Then I broke out
Into the high security prison where
All expectations were deleted.

Found a match and a candle
Pulled a water bottle from her pouch
And a cell phone from her purse.

She did not look at me
While she ordered a pizza with anchovies
And champagne
Telling me to pack

As she settled back into the sofa she
Gave me a kitten named Isaac
And tickets to Tonga with a man named George.


From the grave or: Too many Zombies for my own good

Pop pop
Little popping sounds of  rain on my windowsill
Keep me company
Along with Otis.

Otis takes care of me when Zelda is away.
His face is very demonstrative
When I’m being stupid his mouth turns down and his eyes are cold
When I use my brain to better advantage he grins
It took me ages to realize that one side of his china face goes down and the other up
Which is a blessing because now
Depending on my mood
 I can turn him and receive

Zelda has been gone about a year.
She left to avoid watching me slowly pass away it’s
Not like her to give up but I was immoveable
On the barstool
A feast of agony
Gorging on pain
Awash in cocktail seas
I ate nothing but salt and
Drank nothing but whiskey
For days, or was it months?
And still I curse my fate as though she were here to listen
As though the bar were still open
As though I were still alive.


The doldrums

So here we are at the end
Uphill so much of the time

I remember so joyously the downhill slides
Whooshing, arms upraised, feet in the air, mouth wide
Knowing you’ll be safe but loving the instant where
You’re not sure
Loving the moment at the top of the cliff
When the world is spread out like peanut butter on toast
For you and only you
To taste

And now
We’ve come to the bottom
The end
Clouds and light and rainbows and lightning
Have moved out of the area.
Sails luff; wind dies; the doldrums.
It is over.

If only.



Deep deep hazel eyes
Thick thick auburn hair
The innocent look of the newly reborn
Of the believer in dreams that might not have happened
Had she not forced her end to come before it was ready
To seize her.
She is so beautiful
Her mother’s heart aches
With fear
Even knowing she is a survivor her mother cannot be sure she
Knows the dangers, the pitfalls for a newly
Freed creature
And knows just as surely
She cannot protect her.

Emma is a pure thing
A real entity.
She cannot be duplicated, texted, filmed.
She must be experienced whole like a Disney World ride where
You forget everything but the jolt of fear, the splash of water, the scream
The release, the joy, the pleasure, of watching her fly.

No comments: