The Willoughby

I'm looking over the Brooklyn skyline

I can see joggers and young mothers

Pushing strollers in Fort Greene Park;

Sailboats glide lazily up the East River

As the smell of freshly brewing coffee

Wafts onto the balcony as she appeared

In her creamy chiffon négligée holding

Two small brown parcels in her hand;

These came for you yesterday, she said

Placing the boxes on the bistro table; Go

Ahead and open them, she insisted; so I

Opened the first box which unveiled a key;

Open the other box, she instructed; that

Box contained another smaller velvet box

Whose contents revealed a shiny gold

Ring; I sat down and studied the two items

Lying on the table before me; each gift is

Contingent upon the other, she said; to

Accept one is to accept them both; so, I

Looked up at her as she stood there, the

Morning light shining upon her face, a

Cheeky little grin curled her lips; so, I

Asked, what are the conditions? Are you

Asking me to marry you? Let's start with

The key, she said; look over there out on

The other side of the park; that high rise

Is The Willoughby and I just bought a flat

On the eighteenth floor overlooking Clinton

Hill; the key, the key opens the door to the

Flat; and the ring? I asked; the ring opens

The door to a lifetime of love and happiness,

To my heart and to the life we both deserve

The Mirror

I've found myself looking

In the mirror lately; not

The typical toothbrush

Or flossing look

But observing,

Looking beyond

The skin, deep into

Whatever lies below;

But I'm quickly drawn

Away to the reality

Of my physical

Self; the self

I have been

Neglecting of

Late, one I'm sure

Would not suffice to allure


Open Doors

I've stared at the door for

Far too long wondering if

It's open or closed; I've had

A small case packed with

Some clothes and personal

Items (a couple of Moleskine

Notebooks, an old iPod that

Still works and my favorite

Photograph of my son and

I taken in the doorway of

The balcony) stowed away

Beneath my bed for years;

But I've never been able to

Muster up the courage to

Walk out the door as I had

All those many times before



Hope comes in all shapes and sizes;

It can manifest in human form or

In otherworldly apparitions;

But you came to me in

A dream, flooded in

Sunlight and speckled with

Muted winter light and silvery

Velvet frost; and what was I supposed

To do once I woke up and who would

Have believed me anyway when

I told them I was kissed by an

Angel; who would be the

One who dared to tell me

That it was all just a figment of my

Imagination, a delusion conjured up

In the unrestrained abandon of my despair 




I've never been to Oregon

But I have a six-year-old

Daughter to who says

Goodnight to me,

Tells me she loves

Me and to sleep well;

She's the last of my five

Children who still holds my

Hand, who comes into my

Room to tell me breakfast

Is ready; her childlike

Innocence gives me

Hope that the world

She comes to know as

Her own will be less cruel

Than the one she was born into



I recently purchased two

Levi's fleece hoodies,

A black one and a

White one; yin

And yangish, I

Suppose; soft and

Warm and comforting;

A subtle dichotomy of other

Hoods; brotherhood and

Parenthood, adulthood

And childhood; all of

These hoods quite

Less comforting,

Much more unsettling

All bubbling over at once

To the surface of my discontent



Trying times

Looking for my

Center while my

Life seems to be in

A constant tailspin;

Center, right, left,

It doesn't matter

As long as I

Can call it a

Home, call it my

Own, call it a place

Where there is peace

And a semblance of

Something familiar,

Safe and far from

The groundswell



Burnt Toast and Other Sounds

I remember so many things about him

The smell of Skin Bracer after his morning

Shave, his smile before he put his dentures in

And the way he listened to me so thoughtfully;

But it's the soundscape of his life I remember

Most; the sound of a spoon mixing sugar in

His Sanka or scraping the last few bits of

Marrow from a soup bone; the jangling

Of the handles on the highboy that sits

Today in my living room; or how he would

Scrape the burnt bits from his toasted challah

And slurp hot tea from its saucer; the rustling of

His daily Yiddish newspaper as he folded and

Unfolded and re-folded the giant sheets of

Newsprint; and the sounds he made from

Visions as he lay dying before my eyes


That One Dark Cloud

It only takes that one dark cloud

To blot out the sun; to rain on a

Parade or soak you to the bone;

And when the downpour seeps

Into the roof and rots the wood,

Small beads of water appear in

Thin cracks in the ceiling that fall

Into buckets and mixing bowls on

The couch, already stained by the

Splatter of fallen water; all because

That one dark cloud was unable to

Contain its zeal and whose ruthless

Cloudburst simply had to be; that

One dark cloud who banishes the

Rainbow and lingers long in the

Sky until it dissolves into evening


Spider's Getting Fat

I've been watching you since

Summertime when you were

Nothing more than the size

Of a drop of ink; you spun

Your web so diligently all

Summer long and when

It was finished, one by

One insects became


Ensnared in your

Woven trap as

You scuttled

Down from

High up

In the




The Last Orange Leaf

It sits atop the tallest tree

Perched proudly on the

Highest branch; the

Last orange leaf

Of autumn calls

To me in a soft windy

Breath of air, reminding

Me that this delicate moment

Is merely a transient scene in

The cycle of life; and I can't

Help but wonder what

Will become of you

Falling, eventually, to

The ground, transforming

Into a brittle skin of decay then

Vanishing into a powdery afterlife



I've had so many dreams lately

Where I've been kissed by

People who I shouldn't

Be kissed by; at

Least not the way I

Was being kissed by

Them in my dreams; some

Were friends, others members

Of my family; there was even a

Lesbian and a former teacher

Who passed away just a

Few weeks ago; and

While these kisses

Were mostly awkward, I'm

Wondering if they were meant

To be kisses hello or kisses goodbye




I'd never seen him so forlorn

As if the entire universe had

Collapsed around him; and

It had; I wonder how long

She had been contemplating

This and how many times she

Had played the scene over

And over in her mind; funny

How all I could think about

Was her, what had driven her

To that extreme and could she

Not have approached that

Situation in a different way;

In the end, I suppose I was

Talking to myself, recalling the

Day my universe collapsed


Puzzle Piece  


I've spent my whole life

     Trying to put this puzzle

           Together; piece by piece

                    Year after year; and finally

                     When I get to the very last

             Piece, it doesn't fit in its

    Place; that's the best

  Metaphor to describe


My life, laying down

        The pieces only to find

                 They just don't fit where

                      They're supposed to fit

                          So, now I must ask myself

                              Whether I keep trying to make

                             It fit, or do I simply start putting

              Together a new puzzle


Pepper Belly


It's futile to try and force

Myself to dream about you

Though I try every night while

Falling asleep; at the very least

Yours is the last face I see in my

Mind's eye before drifting off

And the peace and comfort

That brings me lasts well

Into morning; I suppose

That means the lesson here

Is that dreams, no matter how

Hard one tries, cannot be evoked;

But there is an even harsher reality

Seeing that I will never be able to

Share my dreams with you, not

Within the realm of this life


A Daughter's Visit


It had been a while,

Five months to the day,

Since you'd last been home;

And what a fine young woman

You have become—independent

And streetwise—but with the

Same grace and endearing

Charm your mother had


When we met in Spain

More than thirty years ago;

Your visits, though few and far

Between, brighten the oftentimes

Dismal landscape of our lives by

Bringing smiles to our faces

And uplifting our spirits if

Only until the next time




Fate has a funny way of

Distorting reality; sometimes

It's in our favor, but more often

Than not, it snaps back and bites;

But every now and again, despite

Inequity and the challenges we

We face on our uphill battles,

We find the will to carry on

And just when we reach a

Defining moment, a precipice

Beckons us to leap into the great

Unknown or return to whence we came;

Sometimes we can go back and revisit

The roads we once traveled as the

Past also has ways of redefining

Itself if we are open its truths




The autumn is replete with forgiveness

Dying leaves fall from trees that are

Reborn in the waning days of

Winter; the air carries its


Breathy remnants of the

Summer in reminders of long

Lazy nights walking by your side

Barefoot in sand still warm from the

Afternoon sun; and how many times

Did I return home to find your

Plastic shopping bags from

Mercadona gone from

The floor in my room?

And when you finally came

Around again, inconsolably frail,

You confessed your unforgivable sin


Autumnal Musings


The changing seasons

Deliverance of pale blue

Skies and cotton ball clouds

Hundreds of shades of green

Fragrant aromas and mossy

Emerald ponds with their

Floating nest islands

Of thatched reeds

Gentle winds move

Through dying leaves

Which soon will fall and

Blanket the pavement below

I will reminisce about my long

Walks in Childwall, crisp

Autumn air kissing me

Kindly on my cheek


To Kill a Wasp (Part Two)


We haven't had many visits from

Flying creatures this summer

Which is a good thing;

There are usually a

Few wasps and an

Odd bumble bee or two

That make their way into the

Kitchen window in the late afternoon

But this morning, as I was about to

Walk out onto the balcony, I

Was greeted by a feisty

Wasp who had made

Its way into the house

And was flittering around;

Luckily, brave Marina was there 

To save the day (and the wasp's life).


To Kill a Wasp (Part One)


I'm usually quite compassionate

When it comes to my feelings

About the other creatures

With whom I share this

Existence; and while I

Maintain a long-standing

Contempt for flying insects,

Bees and wasps rate at the very

Top of the list of my most hated

(and feared) things; when I

Was a child, we lived in

An apartment with a

Hornet's nest outside

Our kitchen window and

We blew through Raid like it

Was going out of style; but it worked




Maybe it was a dream, or

Maybe it was you all along;

The voice on the telephone at

Two a.m. wondering where I was

But looking back on that night, the

Real question is where were you?

I have my theories and if I am

Right, you hitched a ride

Go ahead, tell me I'm

Wrong; tell me you waited

For me until well after midnight

At the bus depot but I never arrived

Tell me you showed up at my flat in

The Vico Dritto and found her car

Parked in front and a light

Burning in the window


Baba Ghanoush


I can't be certain of anything these days

My thoughts are awash with fantasies

And daydreams about Italy and so

Many people I long to talk to

I'm becoming more obsessed

With minimalism; fascinated with

The idea of Swedish Döstädning and

Purging all the useless crap I no longer need

And for some strange reason I would like to

Fall in love; just one last time, to know

That every emotion I've ever felt

Was real and wholehearted

But most of all is my desire to

Learn how to properly grill eggplant

So I can spend the rest of my life making

 Baba ghanoush from this delectable purple berry




All of my thoughts lately

Are blue; blue skies,

Blue seas and the

Blue that is you

It is clarity and

Wisdom, goodness

And the selflessness

Of your pure loving heart

And your deep blue eyes

Are sincere and see

Into the depths of

My weary soul

Your blue is my

Strength and carries

Me into the calm easy

Joy of better days ahead




Energy in

Energy out


Jeckyll & Hyde

Facetiousness is

Not your strong

Suit; not at all


I'm curious

To know if it

Was really all

Planned this way

Or if it was simply

Bad luck; either

Way, it doesn't

Really matter


Rock Bottom


I take comfort in knowing that

I have hit rock bottom; though

It was years ago, it serves as

An ever-present reminder of a

Time when the fragility of my

Very existence was palpable;

Teetering on the edge of the

Abyss between life and death

Then in some strange afterglow

Of a boogie woogie daydream

I came to see that my savior was

Actually myself and I began to

Understand that the universe was

Merely the pillow I laid my head

Upon every night while pondering

All of the horrid things I feared most




Even when sitting still

I can feel energy and

Rushes surging within

The cells of my body

In the silence I hear

Every distant sound

Resonating as if the

Sea was set ablaze


Crackling flames on

Breaking waves die

Out in the foamy air

Embers drift skyward

I plant my feet firmly

In the cool damp sand

Desperate for stillness

Or a moment of peace


Tuesday's Child


Tuesday's child is full of grace

I walked you to school today

Your tiny hand in mine and

Teardrops in your eyes

Tuesday's child is sensitive

And warm; aware and

Vibrant, full of life

And curiosity

Tuesday's child

Is loving, caring and

Brimming with joy; she

Lives in a world of splendor

Tuesday's child is the very

Embodiment of all that

Is good in the world;

I rejoice in her light


Juanito's Married

I've known you since

You were a little boy;

I've kept the invitation

To your first communion

Put away in a box of

Mementos alongside

Cherished memories

Of your dear parents

A photo at an outdoor

Café in Granada; and

What good friends they

Were and still remain

And now you're married

All grown up and your

Mother's pride and joy

And a fine man at that


Sole Survivor​s

You and my dad have a lot in common

You're both sole survivors; you've both

Lost your parents and siblings and you

Must live with the memories that remain

I can't imagine having to bear not only​

The loss, but spending the remains of a

Lifetime mourning, grieving and looking

For consolation that can never be found

And they say the pain subsides over time

That the years bring acceptance and the

Understanding that every life eventually

Relinquishes itself to the great unknown

But I suppose that doesn't make things any

Easier; or does it? Perhaps it's in keeping

The memories of the dearly departed alive

That makes our own mortality self-evident



There are men who would wage war

Knowing that any war waged would

Lead to the deaths of innocent people

And destruction of unparalleled extent

Yet these men who sit high above the

Masses in white-washed privilege are

Far removed from the reality of those

Who struggle to even simply survive

But hawks prey on less fortunate beings

Those enfeebled by misery and loss and

The decrepit failures of society; a world

Where justice never prevails for the just

And the war machine must toil on; the

Generals strategize, and one day soon

There will be one solitary soldier to be

The first one to die in the next great war



There is something calming

In watching dust floating in

Rays of sunlight; tiny white

Particles dancing in the air

They flitter and flutter about

Swaying in unison, moving

Around me, through me, in

Syncopated rhythmic grace


I breathe them in and they

Fall remorselessly, a veiled

Veneer of dead skin, mites

And traces of the universe

I watch as the dust collects

Upon my desk, landing on

The surface in contempt of

What I plan on doing next


Pet Peeves

The wind blowing open my jacket

Smokers at the bus stop on a rainy day

The guy on the tram without a face mask

Too many rectangular pillows and square cases

The dish towel where the hand towel should go

Finding just one egg in the egg basket

Joggers who spit out of their noses

Every single song by Dire Straits


Brown shoes with blue suits

Gelatin in Kellogg's Pop Tarts

Always seeming to get the floor model

All the ways the Dutch mispronounce idea

Sports segments on television news programs

Arugula or cherry tomatoes on top of pizza

Sirens on the first Monday of the month

Sand where it's not supposed to be



The full moon pulls the tide

Towards my drifting emotions

Sweeping them out to sea amongst

The relentless currents of the undertow

By the time I realized it had all been a

Dream, the waves reminded me that

I was landlocked and what I had

Once desired had gone adrift

But the ebb and flow of my

Destiny would guide me to your

Port of call when, at eventide, your

Gentle breeze would kiss me goodnight

And there I was to remain, alone atop the

Infinite precipice, as wide as it was long;

An unfamiliar place where journeys end

And time is a remnant of our solitude  



I like the sound of June; the feel and look

The glow and whispery breezes; the smell

Of laundry hanging on the line and birds

Dousing the skies with melodic concertos

I was born in June, on the cusp of summer

In the waning moments of the spring; but

I never celebrated a birthday at school or

Brought cupcakes, goody bags and punch

I would spend the summers in Los Angeles,

Or on the shores of Lake Delton, Wisconsin,

And weekends in the Dells drinking root beer

Sleeping during Tommy Bartlett's Water Show

I lost my grandmother one June, welcomed the

Birth of a daughter in another; my life has begun

And ended so many times in the month of Junius

When the rose and honeysuckle are in full bloom



I found the letters you wrote me years ago

And had to stop for a moment to ponder

Why I would still be holding on to them

And to the memories of times gone by

As I read each letter on its yellowing

Sheet, I tried to imagine you at the very

Moment you wrote them in your pink robe

Sitting alone at your mother's kitchen table

It's funny to think how very close we slept

For all those years; our bedrooms both

Looking out over the alley where we

Talked for hours in the gangway

I know why I've kept your letters

After all these years; it's because we

Were the true embodiment of the love

Only young hearts can truly comprehend


The God of Abraham

Of course God is a white man

Who else to master the art of

Decay more masterfully and

Triumphantly than He who

Has wrought all but the

Total annihilation of humanity

From its earliest days; who has

Fomented only death and sorrow

Certainly not a Black man, who

Has known oppression; or the

Benevolent Brown man; or

The Woman, whose love,

Nurturing and compassion

Foster all that is good in the

World; there is no blessing in

The fury of the God of Abraham


Changing Air


A few days away will do us all some good

Changing air and scenery in forest green

No matter what the forecast, I will linger

In the pleasure of calm, quiet and light​

If I can muster the wherewithal to get

Out for a stroll, to walk with no other

Purpose than to move my aching body

It will have all been worth the trouble

And if I can remember how to breathe

Free from the confinement of my mask

Inhaling ever so deeply that I am, with

Every new breath, reborn and renewed

And should the stars feel so inclined as

To dim ever so slightly so I may sleep in

Darkness in an oasis of serenities with a

Tranquil mind, gentleness and composure


The Real You


I seem to have have lost sight of you;

You and so many others who have

Seemingly transformed right

Before my very eyes

At first I thought it

Might be me; but then I

Realized that snakes shed their

Skin and the day turns into night

For some time now I've had this

Burning desire to ask you why

You can't be as nice to us as

You are to everyone else

I once knew the real you

Or so I thought; those were

Our salad days; when we were

Younger and so innocently carefree


Sun and Air


I can only sit for so long

In the sun and air; until I

Become overwhelmed by

Memories of you and me

The sun on that picturesque

August day in your parent's

Garden; cool sea air blowing 

In over Mediterranean waters

Lying on the soft grass; stroking

My hair while I slept peacefully

Dreaming of what life could be

Like together, you and I, as one


 But the tide came in and washed

Away the castles we had made

Illusions drifted out to sea; gulls

Overhead, squawking at the sun


You Can Only Stare


Waiting beneath the streetlamp's glow

Our eyes met in the reflection

I wonder what you saw in me

Upon your closer inspection

Sparks dancing above

The tram's clickety-clack

You can only stare at me

And I can only stare back

I crossed the street alone

Asked a boy for directions

To a place I'd been before

He couldn't hear my questions

You appeared in the darkness

Tapped me gently on my shoulder

I strolled around for an hour or two

Before the night became even colder


The Plotters


Amidst the stale smoke and B.O.

The brain trust is gathered round

Plotting their next big something

On the day after nobody knows

They sit there on a plastic couch

Five-day shadows and filthy hair

Arguing to get their point across

In some language nobody knows

The man with the underbite stands

Pounds his fist upon the IKEA table

Sees me in the reflection and points

I'm a lone silhouette nobody knows

Perhaps they were plotting revenge

Or to return home to their families

In some desolate urban wasteland

In a forsaken place nobody knows




I've been listening to my breath lately

Telling me its stories about this and that

Reminding me of all the places we've been

All of the moments we've lived so passionately

But today I noticed something curiously different

A silence in the space between each breath

Not a silence which is devoid of sound

But one with a low harmonious purr

And in that extraordinary quietude

It occurred to me I was standing alone

Trying to remember where I had come from

Who had sent me here and what was I to do now


I was suddenly overcome by a perception of clarity

A whole life suddenly unfolding before my eyes

Everything I had ever seen, heard or believed

Appeared before me in a burst of wonder



On Everyone's Mind


I've been taking a lot of taxis lately

Working long hard days until late

Unpredictably inclement weather

A longer bike ride than I'm used to

They always ask where I'm from

Why I'm here why would I leave

It's the greatest country, America

You haven't returned in how long?

And the thing on everyone's mind

The one topic that always comes up

The nightmare that keeps on giving

Is the man who shall not be named

How he's still causing such a stir

Inciting sordid petty conversations

Thousands of miles aways from it all

In a place where politics is blissfully dull






I would love to have been a

Fly on the wall during those

Sessions; hearing confessions

All the unanswered questions

Trying to imagine the perverted

Ideas he planted in your heart

How he turned you against me

To reconcile his own suffering

I've often sat wondering about

You riding the bus home; there

Sitting quietly in the presence

Of strangers; deep in thought

But not about me; only how

To rid your conscience of me

And the memories of our life

Festering with tragic bitterness



The Boxroom


There are few stories I have yet to tell

And there are some I'd rather forget

I've had hardships, but hasn't everyone

Moments when we all but surrender

My ordeal began with a perfect storm

Global recession and a failed marriage

Trying to keep family and business afloat

Sinking deeper and deeper into despair

With rent to be paid and groceries to buy

Choices had to be made and tears to dry

The loneliness was long and insufferable

No solace or sympathy to deaden the pain

I packed up my things and sold the rest

Hired a boxroom on a dusty mezzanine

Peed in a plastic jug, slept on a latex slab

Or in the ER on those hot summer nights




The Last Laugh


It all started with a book my brother gifted me

At the Hôtel de Saint Germain on the Rue du Four

Marooned in the lobby in the summer's incessant rain

Paris in July, crowds of tourists, the noise and stale air


While lightning flashed and thunderclouds clapped

We sat in quiet comfort, reading and talking about life

Sipping tea and daydreaming; plotting our next adventure

To England, my Lionheart, where I longed to spend my years

I sat in devout concentration reading Max Brod's book

About his visit to that aquarium with his best friend Franz

And then I read the line that would change my life forever

Kafka talking out loud to the fish behind the glass tank

"I like you better that I no longer eat you," he muttered

Words that resonated deep within the well of my being

Then, on that first day of August some thirty years ago

Tasting flesh one final time, the last laugh lost in drawn butter 




In Pursuit of Greatness


Playground warriors

Sidewalk superheroes

Sandlot survivors

Pelés, DiMaggios

Kick a ball, bat a ball

The beautiful game

American pastime

Crackerjack box

 Little boys in snappy uniforms

Daddy's unfulfilled dreams

But my boy's different

A cut above the rest

In constant pursuit of greatness

Fast cars and wads of cash

Pretty girls, Jacuzzi swirls

Fame that never lasts





Freshly Fallen


I was never one who longed for winter

Unlike my childhood friends who yearned for it

Eager to run to the church mound to play war

Or a pick-up football game at Green Briar Park

I was more partial to spending my time indoors​

 The warmth of home, the clanking of radiators

The feel of tall shag carpet beneath my feet

Tomato soup, grilled cheese and hot cocoa

 I would spend afternoons alone in my room

Peering out the window into the back alley

The sound of snow crunching under car tires

Shovels scraping against the icy pavement

Freshly fallen snow piled high on the porch

Little crisscrossed slits where the sparrows land

Flurries twinkle in the streetlamp's yellow glow

Dreaming of spring and the season's first thaw





It only takes a few short seconds

For eyes to adjust in the darkness

Switch off the lamp and draw the curtains

Sit beside me on my grandmother's bed

Clandestine meetings on warm afternoons 

Summer gingham caressing your salty skin

Innocence so pure it glistens in the shadows

Pounding hearts and long fragmented breaths

 We drove the winding roads with the top down

It was a few years later reunited as strangers

You no longer looked at me with loving eyes

Your voice still asking when I was coming home

 I never got the note you left me there

Only ink-stained sheets of crumpled paper

Stuffed into the mailbox like the morning Trib

  Like yesterday's news, never afraid of tomorrow 








Behind the Glass

They say age is just a number

Memory, an obnoxious inconvenience

How could I forgot your birthday

Or Carole King's last name

I try to ignore the subtle nagging changes

Sleep away my angst and apprehension

Suck my teeth and laugh at my own jokes

Whatever it takes to reel in my faculties

 Aging is the cruelest game

No rules, no winners, no rewards

Only aches and heartbreaks, loss and loneliness

The forgetting, the forgotten and the woe

 I made a promise which I could not keep

To never think of you again that way

To hide the memories behind the glass

In the inner chasms of my moldering mind  



Bare and raw for the world to see

The soul exposed to vicious disdain

Stood alone destitute and decayed

Bereft of any earthly pleasures

Harboring resolve beneath pure blue skies

Nothing remains of yesterday's news

When we were young and innocent

Unencumbered by life's misapprehensions    

 The bark peeled back on a dying tree

Revealing its inner soft fleshy bast

Smooth and white like creamy skin

Dripping remains of morning dew

 I looked for you once in the dry riverbed 

Nearly drowned in tear-smothered grass

You appeared on the knoll dressed in black

Carrying your life in a small canvas sack  





The Passage of Time









The Waning Season

It seems forever since I lasted strolled the avenues

The waning season's monotone glow

Continues shining in the cold evening air

Illuminating dancing branches on leafless trees

The streets are silent and clean

Absent of humanity and glee

Vagrants and travelers introspective

Innocent bystanders guilty only of their reality   

 There are spirits drifting above the brume

Ringnecked parakeets nesting near the Hofvijver

Chimneys belching dank plumes of smoke

Choking the city's constricted lungs  

 The spring is waiting in the wings

Patiently it hovers high above the cloudscape

Bidding farewell to souls succumbed to winter's affliction

While life and death hold claim to the same flickering lights