Night A knock A poet was at my door, Her eyes were broken and blue A paper folded, was held tightly in one hand The other a soapy bucket, a rag hung over its side A verse for a dollar, she said. For a dollar more, I'll clean for you Times are tough, you know Food will do I took the small verse. Left the soapy bucket behind Fed her, gave her what dignity I could Then let her sad eyes say good-bye I was a poet, too
Spires My life is a stained glass window Light, like a church I once knew An old Irish neighbourhood, the incense rises Smoky to sweet, holy to the smell Christ's blood spilled Hard pews rest hard lives Shawled woman in beads of prayer Epistle, resurrection, sermon on matters of man, son, God Sacrifice and sin, confession, the unburdened soul The church is gone, the spires worn down Desolate, this disbelieving one, inconsolable most times The Son rising in truth or fairy tale, peace melding the rancorous colours of morning glass, Sorrowful of life that never was The shawled women whispers a rosary prayer
Cram crammed into this second this moment this square corner crammed with the lives of others, like a can of human fish crammed with crazy knowledge a morning exam, smoky and burned crammed with things: like boxes of blog posts streams of consciousness poems tied together as lives unravelled like long verse people crammed into a slow train
Water (Poets United Inspired) I drank water on a hot day Finished my canteen by noon There were miles left on my desert journey My lips parched, My tongue grew thirsty I needed to drink again, to replenish an old canteen to see a deadly mirage no more
The Economy Late at night I watched a You Tube unwind A man said he had no desire He sat in a grey kitchen, dull chrome...a yellow tile floor He sung lowly, a song I couldn't hear Then he spoke from where he stood looked at the world below they took his job time had robbed him too age was no more a last friend tomorrow the home would be gone, like his wife before all he had were You Tube names anonymous, to the man with no desire
A Zen Rain I ran quickly through the rain, my heart drowning in anger But the wetter I got, the happier I became I laughed My breath grew stronger Puddles at my feet A new suit dripping, made me laugh some more
Recall I'm falling over a memory Twenty years to the day, That train station, a place like a photo that doesn't fade Your voice that accent of time I say your name, but not that day just a kiss...like a falling memory
Shriek I know a wily ghost He haunts the darkness wherever I am outside me like a slippery heart inside my shrinking soul This silhouette against the night, I hear what I can't see That shriek of ancestral madness, the sorrow of slow time
Once More I dived into dark, deep water Swam down as far as I could go Touched the muddy sea ground Then rose My airless lungs, my feet beating furious I made it to the surface, my breath fulfilled The sun was warm It was good to see the sky deep and blue
Cold In the chilly hours of the morning, I wait for the sunrise To see my breath To see the first flakes of snow My fingertips tingle, So do my ears, my lips, my cheeks I imagine are red It is summer now, my wait as a dream I love those first winter days it is like the years I've lived: cold, calm, a heaven most aging men can't see
Owed I give no alibis If you want to judge me To prosecute me To hold me accountable for what I have done, then I owe the truth But you owe me too: Like the time to say goodbye to say so long To let my boot heels wander, let me pass unhurt into the twilight
Now Hey, listen I hesitate I hold back I can't help myself to get out So I stay frozen, harnessed to nothing I got the future in my cross hairs, sometimes but I flinch, pull back don't take the risk stay where I am, who I am for now, but how many nows do I have? the answer pulls me apart in all directions, so I stay still Hey, listen But you can't, I suppose Who can hear a poems's whisper on a windy night?
Elected I am the mayor of the back alley The governor of broken lives I preside over the dissolute, the forgotten man Their earthly remains like turned bottles, needles left behind I police their lost minds, their broken hearts, their last desperate breath They vote for me best they can, when black rain invades their skin I am the mayor of the back alley, but no one knows my name
Journey My life is rough and tumble I feel it on my insides a prowling soul pulsing through these veins my beating heart my skin growing flush lips moisten eyes well up my lungs shallow but I feel a strange aliveness, like I'm escaping somehow free as rough and tumble can be
Men I know men who wait in alleys they wait for the night for the sunrise they wait with hunger in their belly's with death in their eyes they wait till the piss in their pants dry; then they don't smell so bad sometimes they wait for drugs, or bitter alcohol, or a mother to bring them home there are days they wait for God's Soldiers, or prayers like a warm bed sometimes they wait on street corners, or cold sidewalks, or between lines of a poem
Classic Radio My coming of age came along with Sweet Jane So many years ago, before I'd stop the world Now these songs age beside me as a melted radio turns Modern English was a state of imaginary grace, but Lou Reed played...Sweet Jane
Tip Waiters don't wear cologne It interferes with the food he knows, he's served them all My friend in fine dining, white cloth restaurants tony men as silk suits, stuffy ladies as decolletage, demands they make the ranking jewellery behind crystal glass he tells me, who are the ones who serve well the dip of the hand, the bow at the waist, plates dropped softly I admire these waiters, their lives in constant toil But I can never be one, too much resentment are my bones
My Corona Drinking, Eating, Under a moonless sky a cafe bleeds: laughter, thought, arguments from inside movies, books, politics avoided history and the character of man, nations fought some more The Drink rises from lifted glasses as the laughter mixes with drunken tongues, we argue on but the skies' quiet whisper: its closing time, 2am Come again they say and drink with us, it was fun
Golden Why do I need this sea? This Ocean breeze A late sunset, magic light on golden sand Why? A wayfarer soul I am This walking prayer to a Godly answer I don't know But the moon comes soon, and that pleases me
Devious It was 3a.m. when I made some noise I beat an old trash can like a Major's drum At the top of my voice I sung Tom Waits, Downtown Train Lights went on I heard weary yells: Shut up! When one man cried and cursed, the Louder I SANG, the police cars screeched, the sirens screamed They held me down, then I slipped quietly from a devious dream
Blue I lay in waiting Cold Comfort eases no pain I sleep sometimes in an old Square Corner My stomach any empty growl Starve me Take all that is mine Sustained An imagination as All Like a rising heaven, clouds turn a Blue poet's sky
In an alley of blind men I heard voices. They screamed loud and eerily like Shakespearean souls: "Tortelli, beware. The life you own is a Blogger's lament. A figment of a fleeting mind." The blind alley told me nothing I didn't know. Just in a way that shook me like a storm. For now I take shelter in a small Square Corner. Safe for how long, I don't say.
I met an old man and asked what were the best days. He said he had no best days, just yesterdays. It took me a second to understand his object lesson. But I did. Still I wonder, how many tomorrows he could have had?
She was beautiful. She said she loved my poetry. So I heard, second hand. I had doubts about my meager manliness, so I built up my sinewy self. I tossed heavy bags. Swung weighted clubs. Stretched, pulled, expanded rubber strands till my muscles scorched like red fire. Finally, I stood strong and tall. With my lean tongue I told her I was the poet of her desire. She walked away and left me heart broken, but only for a moment. Because out of the corner of my eye I saw my physique in a shiny window. I felt better that instant, my biceps like giant mountains.
On Edge i'm back from the edge of time the edges of space from the places you have been i speak to me only, of the confusion that is my heart where have i gone, lived before? where do i see the end? the edge of time, the edge of space is where the darkness reigns this confusion is myself, like crossroads under a black sky, the trip of lightness is ahead i speak to me only, on the edge of a heart confused the edge of something i must see
Pants I wear two pairs of pants neither fits right I got an old sweat shirt sleeves are too long woolly socks, itchy at the ankles; worn at the soles I could dress better shop at nice stores but none of it would be my style so I wear what pleases me
Fallen Sleight of hand Steady The verse slips for the fallen man Deceived, Hungry, Hands calloused to be touched, soul mended somehow The sleight verse is the poet’s demise; the verse is the fallen man
Gypsy Some nights I'll close my eyes I'll dream in flashbacks Colours like autumn leaves Embers burning in red disguise My mind's eyes closed in constant time The seconds, the flashbacks momentous, small, true, coloured by dreams supplanted Those nights my hopes lay wide, seeing what gypsy reveries bring
Camera's Light From the last picture show I leave Alone under the night sky, stars shine like movie stars The moon directs a man's easy walk Each sidewalk square like an old movie frame He moves along projected stories, silver dances with bedazzled starlets Rides with saddled hombres, desperate men on desert horses Sings beautiful, shoots straight on a dead end alley, dies a hero's death The moon directs the man past the marquee of old street lights where the credits end, his story begins: I walk the creaking steps to my turned down home, alone Tomorrow I need the picture show Sit in the back row, I will See once more the screen's imagined glow