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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

AN ELVIS SIGHTING ON MY WAY TO THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE



“Can you believe it’s been thirty five years?”
says the DJ as the song Suspicious Minds ends.
He wants us all to call the station and answer-
“Where were you back on August 16, 1977?”
Driving along Route 18, I think back to that day.
I was with my cousin. I hardly ever see him now.
He’s bald. I’m gray. We’re old. Last time I saw
him was at a funeral, we stood and talked a bit
and he asked if I remembered the day Elvis died.

It was hot,a humid day,like today,it was back
in the days before so much air conditioning,
We slept shirtless and shook on baby powder.
It was back in the days before we had cable,
DVDs, video games, i-phones and the internet.
We had cards- Old Maid, Crazy 8’s and Go Fish.
We played with flashlights and told scary stories.
We made forts out of sofa cushions and sheets.
We stayed up all night listening to Elvis music
on a beat up General Electric radio. In between
the songs crying fans called in heartfelt eulogies.

I stop at a red light. Love Me Tender is playing.
I look to my left and there he is driving a hot pink
ice cream truck-Elvis at the wheel,big sunglasses,
rings, wristbands and his black hair,now receding.
I ‘m shaken, out of breath and overwhelmed.
I try to figure it out; he cuts me off, he exits.
I read his menu of banana splits, milk shakes,  
and a big slogan- King of Rock n’ Roll Treats.
There’s a photo of fat, old Las Vegas style Elvis,
a cartoon character in a red jump suit and cape.
And a bumper sticker that says-Thank you very much. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

THE SIGNS


Another hot August is about to an end.
It’s been 3 years since I hung up the phone.
I cried beside my car in Target’s parking lot
after speaking with her that Friday afternoon.
Each day there’s reminders, as if we’d forget.
But I don’t see rainbows above the meadows.
A monarch butterfly didn’t land on a yellow rose.
No red tailed hawks sat on the electric lines.

A white Escalade passed me on the highway.
In a diner, a cell phone played his old ringtone.
Bright red tomatoes on my sub tasted extra sweet.
A boy walked in wearing a burnt orange Texas cap.
I heard Shameless on a country music station.
I noticed my wallet gave off a strong scent of leather.
It all made me ask the cashier- “What date is it today?” 



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ATLANTIS, MANSION BY THE SEA



Past a flower shaped swimming pool
with its unique jade green tile work
is a gate leading to a boardwalk path.
It takes you through stalks of sea oats
waving in the breeze above the dunes.
We look out over the Atlantic Ocean
where jagged bolts of lightning strike.
A display to rival any fireworks show.

For one week we’ll live in this place
with its vaulted ceilings, 20 foot walls
of plate glass facing out to the beach.
King size beds, Jacuzzis, flat screen TVs,
and a dining room table for fourteen.
A pool table, double headed showers,
multi-leveled decks, a modern kitchen,
artwork of sea creatures and lighthouses.

My wife is quiet, taking it all in until she
discovers the walk-in closet, brightly lit
with shelves, organizers, compartments,
two smooth opening bi-fold louver doors
and separate rods to hang all of our clothes.
Then she says what I’ve been thinking since
early in the day when we got to this place-
“How come we can’t live like this all the time?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A WEEK ON THE OUTER BANKS












They run to the shoreline holding hands-
a man, a woman, and their two children.
Each one can’t wait to get their feet wet.
It’s the first day on the beach in Carolina.

They’ll stay out past dark with flashlights
as the ghost crabs scurry across the sand.
They’ll swim past midnight in illuminated
pools and drink too many ice cold Coronas.

They’ll get up early for coffee on the beach.
They’ll stare at the sunrise and hunt for shells.
They’ll get down on their knees to build fancy
sand castles with plastic buckets and shovels.

They’ll stare at the ocean, judge the waves,
strap colorful boogie boards to their wrists.
They’ll attempt to have a game of paddle ball.
They’ll throw cheese doodles to the seagulls.

By the third or fourth day, things will change,
less people get up early and less stay out late.
They’ll dress in white shirts and khaki shorts to
take family photos for their Christmas cards.

They’ll feel rich, blessed, and lucky to be here.
Some will start to think of the long ride home.
Some will say stupid things to each other, like-
“I wonder what the poor folks are doing today?”

Monday, August 13, 2012

TEST QUESTIONS

Last night I dreamed of long,
rectangular plastic pill boxes.
Seven little lids with black letters
for each day of the week to make
sure you’re taking the right ones.

His phone call had me worrying
about my test results, my future.
How much can you tell about me
from two vials of dark red blood
and a Dixie cup of my warm piss?

Would he be able to predict that
I have just a few months to live?
Could he find testicular cancer,
a diseased liver or kidney failure?
Would he predict clogged arteries?

Maybe he’ll give me pills, like on TV-
Zocor , Plavix , Lipitor, or Avodart?
Maybe he’ll tell me buy a treadmill,
use fish oil, eat Honey Nut Cheerios,
or to take a little orange baby aspirin.

Would I understand what I had to do
or would I just break down and cry,
regretting all the things I’d done or
would I be angry at myself for all the
things I could’ve or should’ve done?


STAR MAPS


It never seemed possible to me to locate
Orion, the North Star, or the Big Dipper.
It made no sense to me, how 5 shining dots
in the deepest regions of space some how
formed a woman pouring a pitcher of water
or how a cluster of 7 stars is called Hercules.
But tonight I’m sitting on the edge of the world,
or at least the edge of a continent, it’s a place
away from it all, where the “light pollution” is low.
I point my smartphone to the sky and try to learn
what I could never figure out from a textbook or
Mr. Wright, my eight grade Earth Science teacher.
And for a moment, I remember the commercial’s
clever catchall phrase, “There’s an app for that”.