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January 2021

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About Poemography

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of my Poem-A-Day Project, I am reprising my daily poetry challenge in 2021.

Every day this year—from January 1st until the 31st of December—I will create a new poem inspired by whatever moves me at the moment I sit down to compose that day's poem, publishing them here with subscription-free access for all.  

Every Tuesday throughout the year, I will write and publish one bonus poem that will be available exclusively to my Patrons on Patreon.

In 2022, I will publish a book of my complete poems, spanning more than 40 years of poetry writing. The complete collection of poems will be published in a limited edition hardbound book available for purchase. As an added feature, I'm considering releasing some of the poems in this collection as spoken word recordings by a variety of special guest readers. Enjoy the year!

31JAN21

The Artist's Eye​

Visions of an artist with a lens

Eyes focused on bold strokes

Splatters and harmonious hues

Curves and lines and tonal flow

  

The artist's eye is wide and reflective

It captures movement and stillness

Extracts life from the unsophisticated

Exudes the extraneous from the light

 

Trees and air and every living thing

Observed with childlike innocence

The moon and stars illuminate wonder

Sea foam and ocean blue in the yonder  

  

What do you see when you close your eyes

Dangling dancing lines and butterfly wings

I'd love to know what you dream about at night

And if you're haunted by the visions of your past

30JAN21

Tchotchkes​

I no longer have a penchant for trinkets

A desire to fill my every nook and cranny

With useless mementos of days gone by

Souvenirs from yesteryear's humdrumness  

As I child I had one odd fascination

An antique wind-up carriage clock

On a table at my grandparent's house

Never worked and the door latch broken

 

How many times would I wind it up

Its glass door popping open every time

The handle on top that wouldn't stay up

Why would such a contraption be so coveted

  

Of all the things I could possibly recall

It's the untold knickknacks and bric-a-brac

All the crummy tchotchkes that linger in my mind

Occupying every crevice and corner of the past

29JAN21

Daniel

I couldn't have possibly known

What you felt or what you thought

Impossible to fathom your suffering

More concerned with mine than yours

What I should have done, could have done

But didn't do haunts me to this day

Scenes play over and over in my head

Fetch a ball roll over and play dead 

 

The truth is I never deserved you

So ill equipped to rise to the occasion

But I loved you in my own peculiar way

We became each other's languid burden

  

Spending those last few final hours together

News that James Brown had just passed away

Wrapped in old blankets with fraying edges

You quietly slipped away in my futile embrace

28JAN21

My Three Schwinns

I remember the first time I fell in love

It was a little red Bantam from Minky's

Stored in the bike room around the corner

 But that didn't stop it from getting stolen

And everyone knew who was doing the deed

The thievery perpetuated by the proprietors

I swear I saw my bike there a week later

Buying whoopee cushions and magic tricks

 

The urban legend we grew up with

Milton and Shim lurking in the night

Stealing back the bikes they sold outright

Back on the shop floor to be sold anew

  

My Stingray met the same doleful fate

Trusty newspaper boy bike gone into thin air

Third time wasn't the charm 30 years later

In Valencia, my Transit nicked in broad daylight  

  

27JAN21

And We Kissed

I tried to kiss you once in the back stairwell

We sat there with schoolbooks in our laps

Our heartbeats echoed in resonant silence 

Your fingers came between my lips and yours

 

Then you smiled and gently caressed my face

Told me if I kissed you, you’d be mine forever

I contemplated that notion in deliberate calm

Resting my boyish face in the palms of my hands

 

I knew the bell would ring soon so I looked up

My eyes all aglow locked in an ardent stare

You slid even closer and my heart began to race

The doors burst open, the moment now seemed lost

 

But you placed your hand on the back of my head

You began inching your face slowly towards mine

A surge of moving bodies flooded the stairwell

And we kissed as if we were invisible to the world  

26JAN21

Stalemate

Life is little more than a perilous game

Frivolous rules restricting movement

Back and forth and black and white

Kings and queens move left and right 

No wonder why the pawns are plenty

Small and skittish, bulbous and brainless

Stuffing their heads with fries and energy drinks

Chucking chits and plastic lids through the rails 

Ruffians unruffled by the world around them

Rooks and crooks and knights that fight

Pumped up testosterone boys dripping stench

Hanging out loose in the kabab shop door

 

These are tomorrow's wasted space

Indoctrinated tools a fool's disgrace

What they don't know won't hurt them

What they do will desecrate humanity

25JAN21

The Heaven​s

Sometimes people return from the heavens

Others remain, released from pain and suffering

Looking down and protecting us from all high 

Peering through shrouds of lucent grey clouds

Many things I'd like to know about you

Though I suppose I never will

Little things that make you laugh

Simple things that color your world 

I long to watch you sleep at night

Knowing that peace enfolds your slumber

Protecting you from every ominous dream

Holding death at bay if only until morning

 

And who are all these unknown souls

Drifting up to the heavens above

I don't recognize their names or faces

But can't help feeling at one with them

24JAN21

New Day

How frequently I forget 

That the sky is always blue

The sun invariably shining

Stars permanently aglow 

Darkness has a way of misleading

Casting a pall over my eyes

Blotting out the truth of reality

Forging lies to confuse and distract 

There is air and there is laughter

Breath fills my lungs and flows within me

It's to look at life with a sense of awe

For every new day is chance for renewal

 

Darkness will set as it always does

Bringing its callous narcissistic ruse

Cunning and calculated drawing me near

I float above the clouds drifting towards tomorrow

23JAN21

Lee's Garage

Was it Northridge or Chatsworth?

Those details escape my aging mind

While others remain freshly present

Like the sounds we made back then

Looking back I remember the faces

Smiling, glimmering, young and fair 

Hopefulness and shared determination

In every note, measure, bar and lyric 

Cornelius, Scott and Vince played there

Their souls remain in that hallowed place

Big head Mike blew his horn there too

Jon was the Music Man of the day

Me and Lee and Craig were tight

Rim shots and the girl on the Juno-60

Dan and Anne and Jeff jazzed it up

In Lee's garage where the music lived 

22JAN21

Sicknick

I've been over it again and again

Watched the reels and the reruns

Attempting to fathom the weight of it

The reason and why and significance of it 

All I see in my visions of you

Standing in front of the morning mirror

Buttoning buttons on a freshly ironed shirt

Fastening the buckle on your Bianchi belt  

Your shoes are shined and buffed

Breakfast in a rush, teeth are brushed

Sparky and Pebbles fed and walked

Kiss Sandy goodbye one the last time 

Hero's duty on the Capitol steps

The rotunda breeched by madmen

Flags and smoke and savage chants

Outnumbered you hardly stood a chance 

 

21JAN21

Industry

Slabs of dreary grey concrete

Lines etched in shiny solid steel

Clear clean panes of pristine glass

Elongated cylinders of composite mass

Imaginations roused from sleepy dreams

Careful contemplation of each and every seam

Pencil streaks, eraser debris and coffee stains

Ashtrays overflowing with acrid smolder  

Hard hat, dusty shoes and smudgy glasses

Clipboard notes and pens dangling from strings

Shouting above the din of diesel thunder

Lunch whistle pay stub time clock dings 

Industry dwells in prestige and glory

Majesty swells with cogs and beams

The greatest heights of man's invention

Pure embodiment of our outward being

 

20JAN21

Reaching

I'm always the one who's reaching

Outstretched overextending junction crossing

Arms sore to the point of numbing weariness

Heartache uneasily resting in the pit of stomach

I've forgotten the sound of your voice

Waning memories of what we once were

Each passing day brings subtle decay

Reticent about revealing my indifference

There can no longer be loss and sadness

Suffering has a strange way of adapting

What once was warm is no longer warm

The cold can not be blamed for its coolness

Moss spreads thin across unsuspecting ground

Veiling the earth obscuring sunlit winter days

Remember me when the moon is full and bright

I'll be reaching out in the shadows of the night

19JAN21 

Nelson

 

You seemed so old to me way back then

Balding mustachioed Adam's apple bump

Overbite beady grey eyes glaring contempt

V-neck t-shirt exposing tufts of wiry chest hair

Your jail cell office and thick wooden chair

Scraping the white tiled floor as you stood up

You shut the door behind me and told me to sit

A deafening silence fractured by your stare 

You spoke softly through your anger

I wondered if you had children of your own

I looked at you with innocence and fear

Biting my bottom lip to hold back the tears 

I returned to the ruckus and stale heavy air 

Someone tossed me a basketball told me to shoot

I bounced it a few times looking around for you

There perched in the doorway whispering a smirk 

18JAN21 

Coffee & Pie

 

I never had the chance to say goodbye

Not a proper send off or fond farewell

A cup of coffee or slice of cherry pie

One last trip to shop for clothes  

I was sitting next to Sedaka at shabbos services

Privileged with the honor of singing Yigdal

The phone's vibration startled me as I chanted

How odd that my mother would call me at shul

Meitim yekhayeh el b’rov khasdo

Barukh adei ad shem tehilato

God will revive the dead in his full kindness

May his name be blessed and praised forever

I stepped outside and called her back

She answered standing beside his lifeless body

That I would never see again except in dreams

And when we reunite in the great beyond

17JAN21 

Green Lake

 

We slept together beneath crisp white sheets

Your belly rising and falling with each breath

I watched you as the sun rose over Green Lake

A warm breeze gently ruffling the curtains 

I told myself I'd never forget this moment

Its permanence etched upon my mind's eye

Your beauty preserved in poetry and song

Memories endured through space and time

 

Our eyes met in the first rays of dawn

You smiled and softly touched my face

Your lips drawing nearer to mine

My heart racing like never before

    

In that moment it all became clear

The meaning of life and destiny's light

That you and I were forever meant to be

As one in the abundance of love's delight 

16JAN21 

My True Belonging

 

Life's roads are often paved with indecision

Leading us wantonly to peril and pain

Journeys where no one departs or arrives

Unknown destinations welcome faceless travelers  

I took shelter once in the shade of a sycamore

A woman appeared to me in a dream

She had warm olive skin and flowing hair

  Breath that whispered unfathomable truths

 

She took me gently by the hand

We walked until the night turned to day

She left me at the end of the earth

Kissed me softly and disappeared 

   

I sat in the silence of all I had become

Wondering what the apparition had tried to tell me

Perhaps I had taken the wrong path to glory

Arriving at the destination of my true belonging

15JAN21 

Ducks in a Row

Tranquility wades on still waters

While steps away men in suits 

Disfigure the face of the Kingdom

Betraying the confidence of the masses

The weak and stricken left abandoned 

Body counts rise and the cabinet falls

Battered and beleaguered commoners wail 

Weariness prevails in the crumbling halls  

 

History will be an unkind judge

Revealing wounds that never healed

Scars upon a landscape of hallowed ground

Mounds that dot earth like swollen welts  

   

Pretty little ducks all in a row

The wretched stew of society simmers

Ripples on the surface hide what steeps below

Voices silenced by drowning lungs  

14JAN21 

Odile

If I focus my view ever so carefully

In the space between dreams and reality

What is revealed can never be spoken

It must remain a secret or it shall vanish forever

We laughed about that French chanteur 

    For years convinced it was a woman

We sat in the garden of a suburban home

You invited me to come in and see your room

 

Sitting on the bed patting the quilt

I was too nervous to even approach

You looked at me with teary eyes

Not understanding why I had to go

   

You called to say you were returning home

Regretting not having seen me one last time

I promised to visit you in Paris one day

If only in the space between dreams and reality

13JAN21 

Lady in Red

August was never my favorite month

Summer boredom and excruciating heat

Never enough shade to protect me

Or cool rain to soothe my burning skin 

 

But that summer was different

Winds of change blew gusty gales

You appeared at the neighbor's door

Beauty unlike I had ever seen 

    

We took a drive in my yellow MG

Winding roads and vanilla shakes

I parked in front of the Bahá'í Temple

You reached over and kissed me

   

We walked into Shaw's, all eyes on you

You wore a stunning red, summer floral dress 

But it was your elegant crimson cartwheel hat

That made everyone fall madly in love with you

12JAN21 

Pale Ivory Skin

Not much changes from place to place

Faces wear discourteous contempt 

Loathsome figures shuffle along in silence

The old and the young touting indifference

 

There is an unsettling absence of spirit

No children or childlike innocence

Only vestiges of forgotten times remain

Echoes of footsteps and muted laughter  

    

You asked me once to write you a song

Some insipid melody and draggy lyrics

Something you could sing to yourself

In the dark corner of your lonely room

   

I found you there, alone and despairing

Resting your head on a spool of woolen yarn

An empty bottle of wine on the floor beside you

Mascara tears drying on your pale ivory skin

11JAN21 

The Secret Season

An undesired foreboding swells through the air

Its cutting wispy vapor numbs my nostrils

Grass flecked with heavy pungent dew

Leather-soled loafers glide me atop the blades

      

There is no warmth or comfort here

The sun obscured by taciturn clouds

My raspy voice the only sound I hear

Muted only by what I choose to ignore

    

So many stories I've yet to tell

Imaginary scenes of you and I

Sitting at the river's edge

Silent, present and carefree

   

The secret season marking time

Revealing its first blooms of promise

A harbinger of better brighter days

Blossoming from beneath the icy ground 

10JAN21 

Blur

There was an ease I felt as a younger man

A lightness and tranquil air of existence

Reality forged on the day-to-dayness of life 

Nary a moment poorly lived or squandered 

    

Travel became my escape back then

I found solace in faraway places

Took sanctuary in your warm embrace

Refuge in your compassionate breath    

 

I can still smell the morning coffee

Hear the wind rattling the shutters

Feel your fingers running through my hair

See the afternoon light shining upon your face

   

The rest of the story is but a blur

Did you pack a bag or say farewell?

I wished you'd left a note on the mirror

Scribbled in lipstick on your hasty getaway 

09JAN21 

Fastlife

They say familiarity breeds contempt

But I can't seem to control my emotions

Feelings growing stronger with each passing day

Longing for a presence I once abhorred 

    

I see images in tightly shut eyes

Floating lines and dancing shapes

Subconscious forebodings of whoknowswhat

Penetrating the waning delights of my fancy  

 

I hold on to the memories we made

Sensations of long-lost pleasures 

Palpitating fears that grip me hard      

The smoke clears but only ashes remain

   

Who am I to drift aimlessly into your life

Time and time again we confront the truth

You remind me with subtle clues who I am

But more important, who I never could be

08JAN21 

Behold

 

I have keen recollections of that summer

Oh, was I a storyteller way back then

Disguising my peril, pain and predicaments 

In chapter upon chapter of thinly veiled fiction

    

You couldn't have really believed me

Jet-setting about with the news reader

Attending parties with the Prince and his wife

Riding around Madrid on my Electra Glide 

 

My lies were never meant to mislead you

There was no other way to pique your interest

Certainly I would have been a better suitor than he

Younger, bolder, wiser; able, willing and spirited     

  

My efforts to seduce you were all in vain

You were in love and betrothed to another

But you were my muse in so many ways

Your kiss tucked away in yesterday's drawer

07JAN21 

The Ring

The moment resonates in my mind

Even after all these years

Your voice through the bathroom door

Revealing the harshest of truths 

    

There were roads I'd walked back then

Leading me to no particular destination

While my eyes saw a distant vision  

I never felt the ground beneath me

 

Love has a way of deceiving the young

It never forgives them their treachery

Innocent and fragile we laughed till we cried

Desperate hearts became disparate and numb      

  

 With the little I had I bought you this ring

On bended knee asked you to be my wife

Knowing that only in the face of defeat

Would one day bring the sweetness of glory

 ​

   

06JAN21 

Open Wounds

I've walked through life with open wounds

Some that have healed and scarred

Leaving behind scant memories and sorrow

Others that continue to fester and decay 

    

I've had the life all but sucked out of me

Stretched stiff and twisted taut  

Gasping for the slightest breath of air

Drowning in a dark dank swamp of despair   

 

When the walls came tumbling down

Wreckage and ruin overwhelming

Dust settling over rubble and remains

Deformed steel bars bent like broken limbs  

  

 I took comfort in your gentle kindness

Sheltered in the sunlit dwelling of your heart

Where humanity and love were abundant

Providing sanctuary of what remained of my soul  ​

   

05JAN21 

Reflections (For Michelle)

Looking back is never the same

The memories are dull and muddled

What I remember most about that month

Might be slightly different than what you do

    

It wasn't the passion or lust

Or the naked pleasures of indulgence

It wasn't how tightly I held you

But your warmth permeating my skin

 

How did that affair come to pass?

An innocent meal around a family table

Thinking about the exact moment

When destiny foretold the inconceivable 

 The strongest reflection reveals the weakest truth

The day you asked me that unanswerable question

Barely mustering up the courage to look you in the eye

After all those years the answer comes to me in your voice  

04JAN21 

Arrival

Adrenaline rushes through desolate halls

Chilled mephitic fumes choke dry raspy throats

Hazy lights flicker diffusing pale sparkles

Gloom extracted from every weary being    

 

Walls that once rumbled are subdued

Where motion is dizzying and fluid

Little more than disquieting calm remains

Slabs of cold concrete bare witness to nothing  

 Ghostly figures wait without reason

On their way home to purposeless lives

Gloom pervades a wishfulness long forgotten 

Sinister and deliberate, passionless and unforgiving   

 Then from out of the distance a voice calls out

Familiar yet stirring up apprehension and despair

But your face appears in the shuffle of madness

Absorbing every ounce of sorrow in your embrace 

  

03JAN21 

Forty Years

The 7 a.m. glow is always the same

The single beam of sunlight

Fragmented on beams of aging wood

A Morse code greeting of dots and dashes 

 

The taste of furikake and my wife's tender kiss

Linger on my lips as I pull into the depot

My old Toyota Crown indifferent to my arrival

Ruffled to be stirred from its calm repose  

Long days and interminable nights

Unchanging cityscapes and unwavering solitude

Never-ending chitchat and cellphone squabble

Feigned cordiality and incoherent blather

 

Forty years driving these streets

Or have they really driven me

I turn the key and the engine spits

I disappear into the morning's misty light  

02JAN21 

An Outstretched Arm

I can scarcely remember the last time I held you in my arms

But surely it was a moment of solemn parting

Saying goodbye and wishing you well

Not knowing when I'd see you again 

 

Mine are the first arms to have held you

My lips the first to gently kiss your brow

I held your hand and sang you to sleep

Moments too soon lost to the ages 

 You're never far from my thoughts

And while the chasm of yearning narrows

I fear it shall soon encroach upon my stillness

Upending my sensibilities and faith

And through time and space we remain apart

Distant, disconnected, dissimilar and disaffected

My sanguine arms remain outstretched and open 

Reaching into the vastness of long-departed memories 

01JAN21 

The Passage of Time

 

Trees don't sense the passage of time

Warm breezes rustle their leaves  

Icy gales flutter frozen branches

Heat and cold are indifferent allies   

 

The sky only knows the simplest of truths

A lucid perception of snow and rain

Clouds that shade the evening sun

Stars that revere the morning light

 The years quickly pass

Leaving us yearning for what could never be

Time that slipped through scraggy fingers

Crevices that reveal our vulnerable humanity

Your touch is etched upon my mind eternal

A delicate recollection of the passage of time

When I held you in my arms once long ago

Like the dawn's everlasting kiss on a lost horizon