Fifty years ago my sister
got stung by a jellyfish,
and she hasn't gone back in the ocean.
I've never been stung so much
that I wouldn't go back. 

In green waters suspended with sand,
soft-bodied swimmers I cannot see
brush against me as I glide by. 

Just imagine—not ever going under,
always in air and not in water,
never feeling the wonder
of an alien element all around.



If I Were (We Would) 

If I were a bear
We would be sleeping bears
Rumbling away the Wintertime 

If I were a bee
We'd flit among flowers
Darting, dancing. Making sweet 

Were I a toad
You would be my toadette
I'd invite you over to my pad 

And if I were a tune
You would carry me in your breath
And we would sound sweetly in June 



Cathedral Tourista 

So to make it even more artificial
than artifice,
the glass is brightly stained.
Christ lugs the cross
five stories high,
in prime, sun-worshiping,
disjointed colors. 

And up in the dome,
angels' bodies curve in two dimensions,
wings billowing like nasturtiums,
bare feet spread to speed into a rounded stillness. 

Pews gleam like a prophet's eyes.
Nothing on the altar less than gold.
Every alcove houses sculpture:
a lamb, a saint, a Roman soldier. 

Near the door,
a stall sells souvenirs and postcards.
I buy one of a weeping Mary,
hastily scribble a note to home.
All is well.
God's in His heavens.
The devil's in hell.
Wish you were here. 




I need
Big scoops of unplugged quiet
I hunger for silent consonants
My favorite mute
Is theT in Tsunami
I can go
Weeks and stay moderately sane
Without one image or squeak
Explaining an explosion north of Somewhere
I do miss
That anorexic woman
Who always knows everything about everything
I enjoy her shadow
Each word of hers a Braille scream 



Straight Ticket 

uncommonly wanting to spend lots of money, get a new wardrobe, hot sneakers like David's Hawaiian number, drove to a pseudo-alpine village with its sidewalk cafe, offbeat card shop (guess what I found) and the bookshop where that movie script jumped to my hands, the post office to mail packages and notes addressed and sealed a week ago in Virginia but neglected to send off, at last, then, somewhat poorer, more piles of shuffling, for starters, and a nap before the grocery, dropping off shirts at the laundry, photocopying foliage outside my window in just one day in the life of a bachelor missing you dearly 



#15: the naked truth 

[in memory of cary gevanter, an amazingly gifted cartoonist
whose ghost still haunts st. johns street]. 

    cracking bathroom window
        pancho villa swears,
      miffed he doesnt have
        a scissor to remove
            unwanted hairs. 

sauced & hungry bums malinger
    passing out below the stairs,
  consumerismo clutching gizmo
                toddles by
              a little scared. 

  one tumescent mix of trouble
in the shafts of van brunt station.
    swirling up from underwears
            mucous bubbles. 

              lookie mommy,
              whys that weirdo
sleeping on the street right there? 

                  out of sight,
            gadgets jammed in
    pocket books of money men.
  signage from a culvert dangles
where fat back room bosses tangle,
  hello and welcome to brooklyn! 

      hurly burly subway rats
  scurry past the katzenjammer
        kids cut out of school
                they sneer... 

swallowing the earth around them,
   monsters ripping eardrums out.
    trains with brakes a' jittering,
            a zillion stiffs are
                      pouring out... 

          shadowy & alienating
            cauldrons full of fear,
   sensing threats to life and limb,
            the naked truth is

scads lamenting heart disorders
(those who have attention spans), 

            monkeys messing
            knockneed bimbos,
                waves & waves, 

                pushing past,
        them grisly greaseballs
   in a toothless mindless haze,
  hello and welcome to brooklyn! 

two hot toddy oddballs 

for barb 

  two hot toddy oddballs
trod imagineering byways
    replete with sweet
     unhurried dreams. 

    in a stand of trees
          they dither
   decidedly exhuberant,
  two hot toddy oddballs. 

          into far off
       unknown realms
      they push on past. 

          the fears that
once would thwart them,
                at last! 



Above the Wrack Line
    --A Few Weeks After Hurricane Sandy 

That's us they sing of on TV,
Red Cross pledges for here, now,
not someplace we've only just now
heard of.
                We are buried
in forty years of stuff, lucky
not to be drowned in it.
We've run aground our own ground,
our very walls now turning against us
spitting mildew, mold and muck.
My little boy's truck's in the trash
now, its wheels wobbly from the salt
of the bay.
                  Heat we can live without,
hot water too. Our hands peel and crack.
It's only a few more weeks
till we're back in our kitchens,
roasting our chickens, only a few
more weeks, a couple of months at most.
                              So we pile our lives
on the curb now, wonder what new ones
will feel like, how new ones might fit.
Hopeless, not exactly, but hopeful more
or less, we guess,
                                but we are not so sure,
while steady is the pitch of our gaze,
somewhere above the wrack line,
exactly beyond the horizon. 



I Do Not Go 

Horrible summer - heat
smeared across my eyeballs like
Vaseline. Skin dripping
loneliness. Bones under my dress
urging I press against someone too
put away from me to touch. Sin
is the distance we cross to reach -
or the crossing, I am not certain which -
but it calls us. Constant,
constant hungry bones
under my dress. Or is that
a soul under my bones? Or is that
merely lust? And meant to carry us.
I do not go. Isn't it just lust?
I tell myself yes.
It feels like holiness.
I tell myself yes.
I do not go. 



The Me Machine 

the Me Machine Makes Mathematical sense.
with More of Me there is less a chance
that there could be no Mes. because with just
one or a few of Me I run a selfless risk daily. 

Still, sometimes so Many Mes
Make a lot of Me
regret all Must be so Me. 

like the time the Me went up to
A Someone Else at the bar and
said a line the stupid Me
had devised in My shower
and that Someone Else responded roughly
and Made the Me take
a vacation from Myself for Many Months
until my favorite Me with the sunglasses
came back tanned and fresh
and told the Mes how to live free and said
"Let this be a lesson to Me." 

i'm not really sure how that would be,
walking next to so Many Mes. 

Jerseyworks home

border design: marble pillars and floor, Cathedral at Chartres