Friday, February 5, 2016

Weekly Worded


The ad required utilitarian words,
as if my life had come down to
selling the human condition. 

I tried to keep the metaphorical
out, used unadorned nouns,
stock phrases like

Sixty-year-old seeks…
but immediately I craved 
an adjective up front

like Spry or Fun-loving
or even Good-looking.
A few more words might

double the cost but I didn’t
want to come off as cheap,
and an ingenious word might…

Well, as I tried them out,
spoke them aloud to hear
how I sounded to myself,

I suspected they identified
me as stuck up, not the kind
to rouse some strange

woman’s blood, so
I tried for humility, wrote
Lonely or Forlorn

then tossed the draft
in the trash and started over:
Healthy sixty-year-old seeks

happy companion…

but that didn’t work either.
I was actually horny,

looking for a willing woman
but I couldn’t come right out
and say that, could I?

I’ve read those crafted ads.
People writing outrageous things
to get a rise out of the reader. 

I didn’t want my money wasted
being sensational, so I tried for
intriguing but dignified:

Sensitive sixty-year-old
searching for…
but I felt
too much like Charles Darwin

on a quest, and I shuddered
to think of the kind of woman
who saw herself as the Holy Grail.

In half an hour I managed
seven words and only three
were true. I couldn’t simply write

and I couldn’t just write, Call…
because I might as well have added

…for a good time
, and then I’d be
right back to sleazy. 
I almost settled for primitive,

thinking that if anyone answered
she’d understand the syllables
thumping like a jungle drum:

Man seeks Woman
except me not Tarzan and Jane
not want to sleep with monkey.

And besides, the world’s got
more complicated than
boy meets girl, people

finding each other in all sorts of ways
that never fully surfaced before
in this dialogue called culture,

and really, isn’t that what we all want?
Someone to answer when we
finally stumble on the right words.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekly Worded

       Winter Proof
        (for my mathematical friends)

One           take a      deep breath
Two      dress so        the cold
   won’t nuzzle           your skin
Three          lace       your boots
    back and forth
        so       they’re tight
    but          don’t hurt
Four            prepare for the shock
   of wind chill scraping your cheeks
    by wrapping a scarf
        around your face
            so all that
              remains exposed
                 is  your eyes
Five                    step
into the fresh snow            lifting each boot
so the space where            you put your foot down
stays crisp as a mark of punctuation in a line of thought
Six                        pause
    to look          back
        over         the space
            you have trod

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekly Worded

        Epitaph For a Journalist

I’m done with deadlines.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Worded

       Careless Omnipotence

A customer stepping into the fitting room
encounters a sign that reads, God Is Watching.
He's nervous enough, even with the curtain drawn.
As soon as his pants are off some stranger

will yank the flimsy divider aside and say,
Sorry, didn’t know if nobody was in here.
So he stomps his feet occasionally,
rattles his hangers, discharges a cough

that could be mistaken for a disease.
Three pairs of jeans, three shirts
wait on the hook beside the mirror
but he's taking his time disrobing,

trying to get comfortable with this idea
that no matter what he does nothing is sacred.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Weekly Worded

        New Year’s Eve

I dropped my watch
twice. Nothing broke,
it still keeps time
but I’m afraid
the future heard it
hit the floor.

Pieces of stars
no doubt came loose,
are streaking at this moment
toward our planet
set like jewels in the works
of a slippery universe.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Weekly Worded

  The Love Song of the Internet
 (for T. S. Eliot, 26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965)

For some time there’s been no you or I,
only a cluttered kitchen table with glossy magazines
and a small computer screen
that keeps me plugged into the flicker that passes
for a pulse while the major news networks
sigh and shift their personnel.
I wander down the hallway
from empty room to room, afraid to speak
or ask anyone out.
Should I get online, log in,
not ask who is it?
With millions on the internet
just chat/slash/visit?

And there will be time after people go to bed,
time to click and surf society
left clinging to the web.
Time to open tins of peaches
while the modem does its work,
seven megabits per second, maybe more,
and while I’m waiting shall I then consume?
After carpal tunnel syndrome
turns one hand into a claw
shall I tap my feelings out like Morse code?

[They will say: “How plain his profile seems!”]
But I have upgraded my life from megabytes to gigs.
I have sufficient memory to digress,
to fill my files with faces I have never seen
as I drag them across the ethersphere
and fix them to the screen.
I do not think that they will e-mail me.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Weekly Worded

       The Wine Interviews

“Cabernet or Chardonnay?”
“You always told me the wine depended on the menu.”
“We’re not eating, we’re drinking.”
“Then both, by all means.”
“Okay, let’s start with the red.”
“You aren’t going to sniff the cork, are you?”
“It’s a twist top.”
“Then just pass the damn bottle.”
“Well now, we don’t have to behave like winos.”
“Excuse me. Please pass the damn bottle.”
“That’s better.”