The men
to be
the women.

They show up now
At the funerals
With their so-called

How quick to judge
Are the youngest
And supposed
Most pious.

Let her soul rest,
They say.
It’s only been
Six months,
They say.

He’s never been alone,
The others say.
He’ll die as soon
As she did,
Without someone
To talk to,
They say.

Would you?
Would you dry up
Out of loneliness?
Swallowed up by

Not everyone.
Not those who’ve
Learned to subsist
On crumbs.

Not even a scrap
She received from him
All those years in the same home.

And so she lived alone,
Before they ever parted.
She’s healthier now,
And so is he.

He with his man
She with her books and cat.
Where it comes down at
Is endurance.

What can hold out longer?
The conscience,
Or the conscientious?

photo credit: F. Hurley

When Your Wife Becomes a Mother


When your wife becomes a mother,
She will not rest until the decorations are up
Or taken down, for that matter.

Before all this,
Holidays weren’t celebrations
The way they are now.

Before, she only photographed
Things like shadows of ducks on ponds,
And rhododendrons, and the dog in a necktie.

A lot, you once thought.
But boy, oh boy, you had no idea how many
Moments she could capture with that phone.
Thousands in the first year of life.

When your wife becomes a mother,
You enter into a lifelong love triangle,
Or quadrangle, or trapezoid, or whatever the angular shape.
Not a circle like it once was, when it was just she and he.

No, you commit to the third or fourth chair,
Sometimes the other table,
When the little warriors,
Your own blood and flesh,
Have won her heart for the day.

But she’ll come back,
And you’ll be there.
You always have been.

With your cologne on,
That new deodorant,
You’ve started putting on at night,
Lying in wait.

For Years I Tried To Read Don Quixote


For years, I tried to read Don Quixote,

Revering the Spaniard writer in me,

Skimming a thin abridged edition,

Sophomoric in World History.


Later, greater windmills.

Exotic becomes quixotic.

The bookmark stops.



Dare you go on,

Wannabe pícaro?


No. Gracias.

We underdogs

Know the ending anyway,

Some will never get their day.

For Years I Tried To Become A Buddhist


For years I tried to become a Buddhist
Fascinated with its harsh simplicity,
How it all points back to one.

Such is the way,
The path to enlightenment
That the young rich boy embarked upon,
Shunning his worldly possessions for want of nothing.

Even the river,
The water,
The rocks,
All metaphor,
Not real.

Nirvana is not a place.
It’s more a band,
Defiling their instrument,
In angst.

Their song wails the ultimate irony:
That one cannot have and want at the same time.
That one cannot wear flannel and smell of teen spirit.

It’s one or the other,
And if you want the middle, buddy,
You’re going to have to abandon
Your love of hate,
Your hate of anger,
Your anger of fear.

You’ve known it all along,
And yet,
You haven’t let go,
Of it.

For Years I Tried To Start Smoking

pall mall

For years I tried to start smoking, scurrying out before theme parties:
Bad Taste Ball, Red Light, Pajammy Jam—to pick up Pall Malls,
Only to find the shreds of tobacco slipping past my lips.

Tonight, some fifteen years later, I rushed out for a walk, alone,
Minus wife, kids, mother-in-law,
Left a flat cauldron of beef stew to roast in the oven for an hour.
I cook now. I follow recipes. I make up my own.

“Be back,” I said.  Like those fathers you hear about that say,
“Be back. Just going out to pick up some smokes,” and then never return.

What if I kept on walking and left for good?
When you’re wired for guilt and depression, this is what you think of.

You’re surrounded by light, yet spend your whole life,
Looking for shade, just a slice.

At last,
at my thinking place,

Where Mark Twain sits in bronze,
Forever reading Huck Finn to anyone who will sit next to him,
A few drunk hopeless fans smoke their consolation cigarettes.
We lost again tonight.

I want them gone, off my bench,
So I can sit next to Sam,
Breathe in some fresh air,
Clear the muck upstairs.

But, yet,

I sniff their second-hand,
Let them have our moment,
Of pain.
If we don’t win, it’s a shame.

Right, Sam?
Your life ended up going to shit,
And what did you do?

You kept floating down the river,
Smiling at it,
Your dial set to happiness,
If only for a bit,

Now you sit,
In front of the IHOP,
As you did then,
at your birthday party,
At the end.

For, who else,
Were you going to celebrate?



Do your push ups in the sun, little one.
Still spastic, plastic,
After all these millennia.

We rule the school now!
We’re as big as we’ll ever be.

You still have a chance, to dance
To pulverize our little bones
In your jaws of life.


leather sweatpants

The final fleeting days,

of the dying year,

most long for sweatpants.

Preserve comfort.

Hide side fat.


At the mall, in this agonizing transition,

wear leather ones.

They have them now.

They foster tranquility and couture.

They show you haven’t given up on it all.

Not yet.

The New Warrior Rules


The New Warrior will get a bachelor’s degree.

The New Warrior will get a manicure only on days he interviews.

The New Warrior will aim for a high-end outside sales position in a major metropolitan city.

The New Warrior will represent a product, service, or basket of products and services for a 300-square mile territory.

The New Warrior may have two phones: one for work, one for personal use.

The New Warrior will not wear a Bluetooth device.

The New Warrior will wear fitted business clothes.

The New Warrior will get his hair cut approximately every 35 days by Tina at Rocco’s.

The New Warrior will join multiple loyalty reward programs but consider himself a “points whore” for a minimum of two corporations, one airline, one hotel.

The New Warrior will consider the world small based on the number of friends he has.

The New Warrior will video record his marriage proposal and post it to his social media page.

The New Warrior will arrange to have doves released at his wedding.

The New Warrior must father three children and one must be male.

The New Warrior will instruct his son to trade securities as early as seven years of age.

The New Warrior will get a Masters of Business Administration degree.

The New Warrior will meet a mistress at one of three venues: on the road, at a conference, in his neighborhood.

The New Warrior will divorce his “practice wife” and share custody of their offspring.

The New Warrior will have a series of consorts for a minimum of four years.

The New Warrior will remarry.

The New Warrior will start a new family.

The New Warrior will reach peak earning years still yearning to be someone.

The New Warrior will accept a high-level executive position at the corporate office.

The New Warrior will continue to go into battle until his dying day.

The New Warrior will prepare so fervently everyday for war that he will not have time to miss his families.

The Warrior must be remembered in a celebration of life, his body cast out to sea, a flaming arrow shot by his son—the New Warrior—to ignite the pyre, while the Warrior’s daughters and wives mourn and some rejoice.

Steve-o in San Diego

Eat a burrito
In the hot sun
In a Datsun
On a Sunday
Not a Phunday
Taste the waste
Of your life
With each bite
In paradise
You got hair plugs
Waxed your chest
Invested so much
In yourself
But for what?

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