Saturday, August 17, 2013


Sister wears a dragonfly necklace and
sometimes speaks with the butterflies.
Cherokees called them messengers of
the dead, she explains with calmness
and describes her visit with a medium,
who told her things no one could guess.
She hesitates to continue with her story.

I tell her how lately dragonflies land
nearby when eating a meal outside,
as I stop to rest with a bottle of beer
in my backyard after mowing the lawn,
at a ball game on a seat in front of us.
Too many to count hovered above the
dunes as I walked down to the beach.

Others say butterflies come to them in
places you wouldn’t expect, city streets,
the middle of the night, in a rainstorm,
on the tip of a finger as you begin a hike.
Suddenly images of these insects appear
on coffee mugs, labels of wine bottles,
neckties, on front of some baby’s shirt.

Must’ve been there all along or maybe
I’m seeing them after hearing the medium’s
words to me from our father- “Don’t feel bad,
let it go, stop feeling remorse”. How could she
know of my regrets since his death or the last
time we spoke? I told no one of my feelings.
I think of dragonflies now as my pen runs dry.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


“When you're travelling, the best advice is
 likely to come from a local person.”-F.Mawer

In Pittsburgh, even the bridges are yellow.
Should’ve painted a few green or blue.
If you end up getting on the wrong bridge,
you’ll probably end up being lost for hours.

In Pittsburgh, they roll with the black and gold.
And things come in threes like Pitt’s flag with
three castles, three rivers, that I always misspell,
and three stars on one side of a Steelers helmet.

In Pittsburgh, be sure to ride the inclines,
they’ll take you up to another neighborhood
make you think how beautiful it must look
at night- the city, the bridges, the confluence.

In Pittsburgh, you must have Iron City beer,
get a Primanti Brothers sandwich, hamburger
drenched in Heinz ketchup on thick, soft bread.
They put the cole slaw and fries on the inside.

In Pittsburgh, you should try to visit Oakland,
stop at the Cathedral of Learning, get a key
to see the classrooms from around the world.
Take a picture with a statue of the panther.

In Pittburgh, you have to go to a ball game,
monuments for Clemente, Stargell, Mazerawski.
The old fans still sing, “We Are Family” and they’ll
tell you all about living in the City of Champions.

In Pittsburgh, get to the Southside, tattoo parlors
and bars line Carson Street- but don’t stay too long
or have too many beers, or you’ll begin to think of
how perfect a yellow P would look on your forearm.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


The fuse box was flickering, it needed updating.
The faucet came off the sink, it needed changing.
The light switch snapped, it needed doctoring.
The cord of the fan came out, it needed rewiring.
The kitchen window cracked, it needed replacing.
The heater stopped working, it needed refurbishing.
The water meter was inaccurate, it needed correcting.
The cable was always pix-elating, it needed upgrading.
The slop sink had a crack in it, it needed mending.
The hot water heater was leaking, it needed patching.
The sewer line was clogged again, it needed snaking.
The wiring wasn't up to code, it needed revamping.
The cabinets were stained, they needed refacing.
The closets were cluttered, they needed reorganizing.
The hinges came off the gate, they needed tightening.
The living room was uninviting, it needed redecorating.
The dining room was full of ants, it needed spraying.
The wood floors were scratched, they needed polishing.
The furnace was the original, it needed removing.
The fence slats began to rot, they needed mending.
The landscaping looked messy, it needed revitalizing.
The mailbox fell off the rail, it needed re-affixing.
The lawn was full of bare spots, it needed reseeding.
The weeds grew in the patio's cracks,they needed pulling.
The driveway was cracking, it needed resealing.
The front porch was gray and aging, it needed painting.
The storm door was sagging, it needed adjusting.
The siding was moss covered, it needed power washing.
The shingles were aged and worn, it needed re-roofing.
The costs rose and the bills piled up, it was never ending.
The family’s bank account emptied, they needed lending.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Nothing like
a 52 inch
flat screen to
bring us all
together each night to watch
games, movies, our shows.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I am chain link fences, above ground pools, metal sheds from Sears.
I’m the place where homes don’t have garages or wide driveways
and where cars cut through to avoid the traffic out on Route 18.
You’ll see for sale signs on many lawns for well over a year.
It’s a buyer’s market, but no one want to buy these. They came here
decades ago from Newark and Jersey City, now they want to leave.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.

I’m where the magnolias grow and drop their blossoms too soon.
I’m where squirrels build nests in mighty oaks and gorge on acorns.
I’m a place where cats climb into yards and make themselves at home.
I’m where Statues of the Virgin Mary sit alongside Slomin’s Sheilds,
and where you find Smiley’s Laundromat next to the Halal Meat Shop.
In the cold winter air, smells from Hong Kong Express travel quickly.
At night the neighbors drag their green robo-trash cans to the street.
and sometimes you hear a train whistles up by Bordentown Avenue.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.

I am the old forgotten neighborhood in this suburban town.
Others are having curbs and sidewalks replaced, I never had them.
In the center of it all is Jersey Pride, a place where middle aged men
line up nightly with cash and a quarter to begin scratching off cards
labeled Double Down, Big Money, Diamond Spectacular, Win for Life.
Either you stay here a few years or you’ll never leave, is what they say.

I am the neighborhood that used to be called Circle Manor.


coffee- light and sweet
cigarettes and scratch offs
today’s Star Ledger

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I didn't think it’d be possible to love this
little blue house in this old neighborhood.
Close together, so much alike, built in ’51.
Our first home, a good place to get started.
Then we’d move on to bigger and better.

In springtime we’d take rides to get a look.
We’d drive slowly, up and down the street,
catching a glimpse of the white picket fence,
bright yellow forsythias, tall and mighty oaks.
Never thinking about all the leaves we’d rake.

I think that’s a lilac bush, I remember saying.
An array of slate rocks served as a walkway,
grape hyacinths on the lawn, a hydrangea row
alongside the three car driveway- a good spot
to learn how to ride a bike or to play basketball.

With porch lights shining, inside the family
who sold the house, packed boxes, we hoped
they hadn't seen us, but wished we could've
gone in to measure windows, to see where we’d
place the sofa, once the lawyer closed the deal.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


in the country, surrounded by trees,
she speaks aloud on our Sunday drive.
Marveling at the wealthy homes she sees.
Waking to songs of birds, I’d feel so alive.
coffee on the deck to begin each day,
It’d feel like church, a perfect place to pray.
Set way back off the road, so much space.
Now I know we’ll never live in such a place.

Friday, April 19, 2013


In the dead of winter, I get up early to
find my house too cold, the heater runs,
but it’s blowing cold air out of the vents.
The thermostat tells me it’s 63 degrees.
I think about what to do as I know the
serviceman won’t come out right away.

I’m bad at fixing things, I never know
how to start, I don’t have the right tools.
I go to You Tube and look for free advice,
and I know what that’s worth- nothing.
I type in- my heater is blowing cold air.
Each guy talks too much with their hands,
they all have mustaches, slight accents,
they wear khaki pants and polo shirts.
They look like they’re somebody’s Dad.

They say the same things, be sure to check
the thermostat’s batteries, the breakers,
the filter, change the filter and make sure
none of the vents are  blocked by furniture.
Look for flashing lights on the bottom, then
count the number of flashes, it’ll tell what’s
wrong with your unit, read the panel door.

Perhaps it’s the thermocoupler? It’s probably
dirty, they show me how to properly clean it.
Be careful as you could damage the sensors.
Be careful as you might get yourself electrocuted.
The last word of advice from them all is the same-
if you’re unsure, don’t attempt to repair it yourself,
consult the yellow pages, call a licensed professional.
And after an hour, that’s the advice I chose to follow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


In case you didn't know, it’s not easy to get started-
no one said it’d take until age forty to get on my feet.

In case of emergency, there were people I counted on.
But they’re all gone now and I can finally handle it all.

In case of failure, you've got to realize there’s always
a second chance, but there isn't always a third one.

In case you missed it, I often sit and think of the past,
sometimes I get upset missing the ones who are gone.

In case you hadn't noticed, I love to be at home,
at the end of the day there’s no place I’d rather be.

In case you are wondering, my future plans include
waking up to sunshine, a sandy beach and the waves.

In case people should ask, and they probably won’t
I’m doing alright after all those years of struggling.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Don’t tell me
how you’re suffering,
we’re lucky.
is off, but we have water,
food, and gas to cook.

We’ve got books,
candles, flashlights, games.
Others lost
every piece
of clothes, furniture, photos,
cars,entire homes.

After a week,
our lights came back on.
Others died,
don’t complain
about your iphone’s charge
or gas ration lines.


It was the third week in February.
I remember it was President’s Day.
In Jersey it’s usually cold and gray,
we had sunshine and warm weather.
It was a buyer’s market, they said.

A realtor showed me houses here
and there, only ones I could afford
with my minimum down payment.
When we drove up to this one, I knew
it was what they called a starter home.

I didn’t care if it was small or very old.
I wanted a yard for my son to play and
a place for flowers and tomato plants.
I wanted him to have a decent school
and a safe neighborhood to grow up in.

I worried about taxes and a mortgage.
but when I saw the color, I wanted it.
Earlier, before I left, I’d asked my son-
What kind do you want? and he said,
I want a blue one, get us a blue house.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


they always said how you need to buy a house,
a big deduction, it’ll never lose its value, besides
paying rent is just like throwing your money away.

high mortgage, a home not worth what we paid,
property taxes go up every year, too many repairs
just keep taking all the money that we both make.

Now we look forward to the apartment we’ll rent.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


mail was valuable way back then
in the days of grandfather’s youth
letters were the way to send friends
messages, money, and kind words.

his mother wrote him at college,
mail was valuable way back then.
words of encouragement arrived,
fine crafted letters full of love

weather updates, daily routines
anecdotes from a place called home.
mail was valuable way back then,
she assured him Father was proud.

in the basement, letters kept for
a lifetime, unshared memories.
I read them now, decades later-
mail was valuable way back then.


Did you find everything you were looking for?
Are there any items on the bottom of your cart?
Do you have any coupons or a Price Plus card?

The 3 questions cashiers always ask at this store,
they must train them to say it before they start.
Did you find everything you were looking for?

Shopping for groceries shouldn’t be this hard,
displays and selfish customers block the aisles.
Are there any items on the bottom of your cart?

I spent $200 without a single package of meat,
the lady with food stamps buys T-bone steaks.
Do you have any coupons or a Price Plus card?

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Mornings I shuffle to the thermostat
to bump it up a few degrees and think
I’ll be opening windows in a few weeks.
I’ll be soaking up rays of sunshine as
I rake leftover leaves from fall and sow
grass seed in an attempt to have a lawn.

We’ll put begonias in the flower boxes
with orange marigolds, blue ageratums,
and get excited buying tomato plants.
We’ll straighten the rocks around the
bed where the perennials come up and
we’ll pull weeds from the patio’s cracks.

I’ll cook hot dogs and burgers on the grill,
drink a few beers after cutting the grass.
I’ll listen to a baseball game on the radio,
sit in a plastic Adirondack chair,look up
at the stars in the sky and be thankful for
all I have and glad that winter is long gone.


before I called an electrician.
Tired of fumbling with keys,
trying fit it into the door knob.
Tired of eating in the dark and
hearing too many complaints.

I put it off as long as I could,
no one likes spending money.
Now lights shine brightly by
both doors, a ceiling fan hangs
above the dining room table.

The outlet in my son’s room
is updated for 3 prong plugs.
No more tape over his switch.
They spent all afternoon here,
two men working on the list.

With more money, it would've
been longer, 60 year old homes
always need something fixed.
In a few years, I might call them
to come back to finish the list.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees
lost lives, streets flood, cars wash away, homes burn.
Darkness across the state, downed wires, fallen trees.
The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees.
No choice as waves rise, the entire neighborhood flees
It’s dangerous living near water, a hard lesson to learn.
The hurricane hits, but without power no one sees
lost lives, streets flood, cars wash away, homes burn.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Sometimes we stack it up all week long.
Catalogues piled on the table every day,
businesses we ordered from years ago-
Hanes Her Way, L.L. Bean, Gaelsong.
Refinancing from mortgage companies,
always in some official looking envelopes
presorted postage, labeled with labels like
to our friends, Open at once, time sensitive.

Offers from Discover and American Express,
Alumni Associations begging for more money
join stacks of special life insurance policies.
Local Shopper’s Guides, Money Mailers with
offers and coupons to places we’ll never go.
My wife’s Smithsonian magazine, she doesn’t
have time to read it. And every quarter we get
a water/sewer bill on a small white post card.

Saturday mornings, I sit with a cup of coffee
to tear open envelopes, rip them to pieces,
drop them into the kitchen trash can and think
about how there are no handwritten letters on
floral stationery sent in colorful pastel envelopes.
Gone are those who used to send them to us and
soon, says the News, the Post Office will be too.
I wonder who’ll bring all this junk mail to us then.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Too early for pretzels, chips, or peanuts.
Too early for Brown Ale or a pint of Bass.
This morning begins like every other day,
with a pot of coffee, demanding pets fed.
Remotes find the obscure cable channels.
A five hour difference makes us get up to
watch games broadcasted from England.
I yell to him, he’d planned to get up too.

It’s football now instead of our old sport.
Its stats and standings replace baseball.
Its star players have replaced basketball.
Boxing Day replaces Christmas morning.
Magpies, Reds, Blues, Black Cats and Spurs
promise to outshine the lights of the tree.
Holidays have become too much work and
enjoying the season starts on this morning.

One day we’ll go there, is what we say.
Doesn't matter who we see, we’ll sit at the
edge of the pitch, we’ll have pies and tea
at half with shivering pink faced supporters.
We’ll wrap team scarves around our necks,
lose our voices from singing and when we go-
Rooney, Bale, and Gerrard will be long gone.
The money keeps us from reaching our goals.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


“What matters most is how well
you walk through the fire.”- Charles Bukowski

Mention your name and they smirk, grunt, or groan.
They say that all your poetry is about getting drunk,
getting naked, getting arrested or all of the above.
Dirty old man addicted to whores, whiskey, horse races.

But I know you better than that. I've read your books,
took the time to find out about you and when I heard you
explain how hateful your father was as you took the film crew
to your boyhood home, into the hallway by the bathroom,
I cried as you, in your sixties held back your tears describing
how he whipped  you with a strap, all his anger put on you.
What he left on your heart, what you felt your entire life.
To be degraded, belittled, insulted. It stays with you forever.

And when I picked up your book from the shelf one night,
I felt your pain, your suffering. I consumed your poems,
your books, the films. I wanted to find out everything
about you. Your work turned me to the poetry of others.
I wrote too, I never stopped and I walked through the fire.


-for my grandfather

College during the Great Depression,
married with children in World War II.
and a big fan of Eisenhower, of course.

As a young boy, I didn't know he was
a look alike for a famous Republican,
but I do remember the many times when
people approached my grandfather to ask
“Hey, are you Barry Goldwater?” and he’d
reply- “No I’m not, but I did vote for him”.

He believed in hard work, a good education,
loyalty to team, taking care of your family,
and the honor of serving the community.
Saddened by Nixon, disappointed in Ford,
and pleased by the inauguration of Reagan.

And if you asked him if he ever liked a
Democrat, he’d tell you without hesitation-
“Only one, Harry S Truman, because he told
the truth and did what he thought was right
and didn't care what people said about him”.


A pool does not have sandpipers or
plovers pecking the shore for a meal.
There aren't any ghost crabs popping
out of well fashioned tunnels or caves.
The pool does not have pelicans soaring
and dive bombing into a school of fish.

It doesn't have soft white burning sand,
or cool soothing sand at the water’s edge.
No shiny rocks, sand crabs, or minnows.
At the pool, I won’t find a shell with a tiny
hole to make a fine necklace out of with a
section of white twine from a bakery box.

A pool has babies with diapers and parents
making wee-ing sounds to make it seem fun.
It has cannon balling, Marco Polo, old ladies
in floral bathing caps, hairy men attempting
Olympic style laps, stinky bleach, noisy filters,
and Rules for those who lack common sense.