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I have not learned how

to property balance

the mundane details of life,

the phone bill, the gas bill,

an overdue library book.


A tiny bird hops along

the broken concrete wall

channeling the river.


I am only concerned

with how beautiful things

also must struggle, yet

they show little anxiety

for tomorrow's rent

or appetite for memory.


A wasp fans a nest of mud,

the river sluggishly flows

through a steamy Jersey July,

the hospital expects money.


Where is that peace in which

we can enjoy our modest blessings,

our human troubles, our daily bread,

a sturdy tent & the lovely

presence of children?


I have been asking this question

for six-thousand years.


Forgive these ancient complaints,

for I have chosen a hard chair

as my bleak watchtower,

& in its squeaky springs

I hear the rusty pulley

on my mother's clotheslines

when dandelions were yellow flowers.


I will give them their dollars

enclosed with an ugly silence,

then listen for the thunderstorm

crackling through my radio.








You are always sneaking

into my apartment

when I am not at home

using the key you never returned.


I could not find the screwdriver

until it appeared

beneath a bookshelf in a bag

with the pliers I never put there.


When I reached for the spaghetti

in the cabinet above the stove,

it was gone, so were the corn flakes.

Did I eat them in my sleep?


Now the old broom is missing.

There are no secret closets

in this small, cluttered home.

Did you command it to fly away?


You are always stealing things I need,

but I know I hide them from myself,

& you have not come back

& I have nothing you want.








On a fair day my mother met me

halfway between her home & mine,

on the street behind the high school.

As I accepted Her sloppy kisses, she said,

"I sent you money for your rent."


We were always indifferent or enraged

whenever we saw each other.


Mom invited me for dinner

tomorrow, it's Thanksgiving,

I forgot.  "I don't think my sister

wants to see me," I said.


Mom replied, "Come late, Jean's leaving early.

There's a woman who wants to meet you,

she's been watching you,

but you never noticed her. "


Waking, I thought, Oh great,

I hope she's not dead, too.








You're not right for me,

you wallow in your emotions,

express a perverse desire to die

& be reincarnated as a frog

copulating beneath a full moon.


I want a platonic relationship

like the one I had with my husband

until that emaciated tramp

spread her skinny legs for him

on his bowling night,

that was five years ago & I'm still

waiting for him to come to his senses.








I want my critics to say I am a clown.

I wish to be introduced

as one of the Fratalini Brothers,

those generations of painted idiots

who amused the royal families of Europe.


My desire is to carry on as if

no dark abyss has opened at my feet,

as if the moon were not endangered

by our indifference, as if

the hermaphrodite angel

whispering in my ear at this

very moment did not exist.


Where are those works of genius

recorded on fragile papyrus,

now become dust, ground up,

mixed with mud to make bricks

to build the prisons of tyrants?


Who dares waste a bare tree

with a simile?  I care

when a  cloud resembles Elvis.








Saddam was caught while I was locked up.  The excitement for me lasted

about ten minutes, until the next  American soldier was killed.  Whoops,

guess the war ain't over.   When I was a kid, I wanted something like a

spider hole to hide from my family.  That's what snow castles are all



My fav person in the hospital was Kathleen - she could have been 50 or 75

- had cerebral palsy, acted senile sometimes, like chanting "mirror

mirror on the wall" or yelling "I want to die" when what she meant was

"take me to my room."  Good judge of character - threw food at the ones

she didn't like (no dangerous folks on mt ward).  I liked her, simply

left the day room when she became a nuisance.  Most definite twinkle in

her eyes - her anger from helplessless.  People yelled at her like she

was hard of hearing.  She was not.  Recognized her as a Trickster.

Sometimes it was real, sometimes an act. Gave her a big kiss on the cheek

when she was moved out.  "Goodbye Bob" she croaked.  Voice like Froggy in

the Little Rascals.  Two Haitian women, one sang sad gospel hymns with

tears pouring out - creepy crucified God.  The other hummed lovely island

folk tunes or "Go tell it on the mountain."  Eternal Light.