does it hurt (20170121)

bottles are clearly marked
return for deposit

once the silicone and titanium
formaldehyde and mortician’s wax
has seeped out of us
when we are no longer anything
but mulch
is that our recycling

or does the soul
–if it even exists–
does the soul undergo
some other process
some forge that burns off memories
and with them grief and guilt

does it hurt

reflections on walking the dog (20160824)

i’m afraid of the last time
i’m going to walk the dog
it’s not that he’s sick
mind you
he seems to be
in pretty good health
though he’s missing most of his teeth
and has more years on him than any dog
i’ve ever had

but it’s the not knowing the last walk
will be the last walk
that grinds its teeth
in my ear when i lean over to pet him
or wave the air frantically
because of his secret gas attack
so secret
that if it’s silent
he doesn’t even notice it

so i have to remind myself
to not get impatient
or tug at the leash
when he want’s to stop
and sniff ever message on our walk
i don’t want the last thing
i said to him to be
hurry up

Poem 20150718

the clock ticks
and you wonder
–why won’t the damn thing
keep time
the way it’s supposed to–

one second after another
one minute after the next
long stretches where the minute hand
doesn’t move
or jerks suddenly so far ahead
that the hour hand is dragged
along in its wake
or actually
moves backward
an impossible dance step

but never far or
convincingly enough
to change a single letter
in this poem

Poem 20150105

The coffin was too large for her
She lay there like a doll
Make-up that she could not apply
Not for the last few years
Rosy on her cheeks
Hair smooth and washed and clean

Her face but not her face

Mom had to be led away slowly
Sobbing how she looked so small
And the chapel seemed like a joke
Like a facade you would see
At Disneyland
Almost real but not just

The only thing that saved the day
Was the aunt who insisted on
Taking a flower from the grave
And almost fell into the gaping hole
Waiting to receive my grandmother

The opposite was true for his funeral

He was big even in the coffin
And they said
It would be closed
But it wasn’t at first
Even through the chapel doors
You could see him
And at any second he would sit up
And turn with his eyes glued shut
And his mouth plugged tight
And accuse
Announce his disappointment
From beyond the grave

Weeks later in a dream
He stood before me
Without a shirt
Standing for some reason
In his old apartment in Santa Ana
His stomach fish belly white
And covered in dark hair
A Y incision hastily sewn up
Over his chest

It was all a mistake he said

But I woke not knowing what he meant
And not believing him anyway