Poems and Other Short Road StoriesNot novels, not novellas, not really full blown poems, just thoughts and experiences from the road or imaginings from my mind.
The Perfect Dream
The summer wind through the screen makes a sound so soft,
you almost have to pay attention to hear it.
And a breeze gently skims across our skin,
but it’s the warmth of the sun that falls on us that is so comforting…
…almost as comforting as our arms around each other.
When you said you had the perfect get-away place for us,
I didn’t know what to think.
But you were right.
This place is perfect.
The three hour car ride wasn’t so long that it got tedious,
And wasn’t so short that we didn’t have time to de-compress
from the rest of the world we were running away from.
Rustic but not barren would describe this renovated barn exactly.
The beams are original, but the walls are new, and the floor is freshly sanded.
No electricity, just cold well drawn running water and a wood stove.
Basic living, the best way to re-connect.
This place is perfect.
Old steel twin beds, rescued from a farm house down the road,
have been outfitted with new mattresses,
but not much more.
Just the right amount of metallic squeak emanates
as we dropped our belongings down
that we laugh at the stereotypical sound.
Pushing them together is the only way we’ll have enough room to be together.
Our favorite drink and a folded t-shirt are placed on the ledge
created by one of the beams;
there’s not a whole lot of furniture here.
And that’s OK.
This place is perfect.
Spreading out my grandmother’s handmade quilt
made the surface just too inviting to ignore.
Happily, we fall down in a cacophony of noise;
the feet of the bed scrape along the wooden floor,
the bedsprings sing a joyful tune, and we hold each other.
The aroma of the raw wood mingles with the tall pines that stand close by
and freshly cut hay that lays out in a field beyond the hill.
I’m not paying attention to those,
nor the smell of the spring fed lake at the end of the property.
It’s the smell of your skin,
of your hair,
that thrills my senses.
I can feel your breath on my face,
Your eyes are all I see right now.
You lightly run your hand up and down my arms.
I trace the contours of your face with my fingers.
Your smile fills my world.
We whisper thoughts back and forth,
Not wanting the world to hear them yet.
Sharing wants, needs, desires, hopes and dreams,
sometimes using multi-syllabic phrases tied together in long stringed sentences.
At other times, just saying: “me too”……
Life won’t always be like this;
we have but a few days to share this way.
We’ll hike the hills,
bath in the lake,
watch the stars as if they were cable tv,
make breakfasts of fresh eggs swiped from the coop next door,
eat lunches of apples grabbed from trees on the property.
We’ll splurge on diner out in town,
eating where the locals go for a chicken fried steak
or trout pulled from a nearby stream
cooked by Harry out back in the kitchen.
And then come back to this place to hold each other tight, until it’s time to go.
But it will all be perfect.
Because we will be together, if only in this dream.
# # # – added 13Feb2015
Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight
The Thug grabbed Jake by the shirt and pulled him close.
Jake could smell the sweat and the booze and the smoke on this guy’s breath: it wasn’t sweet.
The Thug stuck the 4” barrel of his .40 Springfield Amory XD right up under Jake’s chin, and pushed up a bit.
“You know, I’d have no problem blowing a hole in your head right here, right now and getting away with it. There’s a half dozen Brothers that would swear on a stack of bibles that I was ‘cross town getting a lap dance at The Golden Banana”
“But you ain’t gonna do that, are ya? You ain’t gonna blow my head off here and now, are ya? I don’t think you’re that stupid” says Jake as he takes a menacing step forward so the two of them are belt buckle to belt buckle.
Thug says, “What are you? Some kinda asshole or what? You’re gonna piss on me when you’re in no position to?”
“It’s not me that’s in the bad position, kid. You’re the one who’s worse off.”
“Fuck you, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Go ahead, pull the trigger. That 40 caliber tool will do the job, It’ll put a big hole in me alright. But seeing how the gun is as close to your face as it is to mine, the sound will be so loud, you won’t hear right for a week. Never mind ‘bout the angle at which you’re holding that piece and the recoil it’s got to have. It’s either going to twist the shit out of your wrist or ruin your elbow for the same amount of time you’ll be deaf from the blast. And let’s not forget that when my head explodes, you’re gonna be tasting blood and bone and brain matter straight through the end of the week. You’re just too fuckin’ close to me to pull the trigger and not get fucked up too.”
The Thug starts to take a small step back, but Jake stays buckle to buckle with him, as if they were dancing, surprising him a bit.
“No, what you want to do when you’re in this close is use a blade. Steel, thrust deep into the belly” Jake says using his own knife. The one that he quietly pulled as the two were doing the killer two step moments ago.
He pushes the knife, poking the Thug in the belly, but not breaking the skin…yet.
“Yeah, a blade. Cold hard steel. It’s the only thing that’s right to use when you’re this close, when you can look into a man’s eyes when you cut him” Jake says as the Thug’s eyes get wider as he realizes he’s just lost the advantage.
“You see, here, a knife can get pushed straight into the heart, right between the ribs, maybe cutting the lung, or slicing the liver, so the bile can ooze inside the body and poison every organ that it can. Now that’s a slow death brother. And as you fall away, I’ll take that toy gun from you and pull the clip out before your ass hits the floor and then watch you sit there and slowly bleed out on this filthy floor.”
from: Chapter 7 – Page 134″Hopefully One Day” – a manuscript in progress
Picking the matchbox up from the mantle, She slides it open, being careful not to chip the new manicure she had done specifically for tonight.
The color isn’t new, but it is his favorite. Her dress is cut just right to highlight her long lines, the hemline not too short to be considered anything but stylish. Her hair is piled high on her head. Not his preference, but she likes the way it makes her look. It’s been a long couple of weeks, work commitments taking up so much of both of their energies. Tonight, the plan is for nothing more than cocktails at home together and simple tapas in the living room. Getting home first gave her the chance to shower and change.
Leaving the office early and driving back to town allowed him to avoid the crowds and the hassle of the hustle and the jostling that is typical of his return. Freshly showered from a midday workout at the gym, a new shirt on and feeling alive, he looks forward with anticipation to reconnecting. He’ll arrive so much more relaxed.
It was his idea to stop by the new specialty store and pick up some items to assemble the simple meal planned. Taking his time, he wanted to make up just the right assortment of tastes and textures.
In the car, the bag fell forward as he turned the corner out of the parking lot. Reaching over to grab it, his foot leaned on the gas pedal more than it should have. The movement from extending his body pulled the steering wheel a little more to the right than it should have.
Seeing a young child riding a bike on the sidewalk in his path surprised him and he over reacted and spun the wheel in the opposite direction. Meaning to hit the brake, he depressed the gas pedal further.
The car shot across the street into the path of an oncoming delivery vehicle.
Impact. Shattered glass. Screams. The car bounces to the side. The door crumples. His older car has class, but not safety features. He is not protected enough. He is cut. Bones are broken. He is bleeding.
First Responders from the Fire Station a block away run up to the scene, not waiting for an ambulance. Seeing the horror, one said: “we better find his next of kin.”
Holding the stick tight, she slowly draws it along the strip on the side of the box, the scraping sound, so familiar that there’s no need to look down to see if applying the right amount of pressure to produce the right amount of friction, generates the spark that produces the heat is actually taking place. A larger flame at first, bright in yellow color, accompanied by the sizzle sound of the wood of the stick catching fire affirms the success. Slowly the flame settles down to a usable size and she raises her hand to the first candle.
The ringing of the phone distracts her.
Conversation at 2AM
“tell me about your husband….”
“how many have you had?”
“how many do you think? is one number better than another? Is two better than four?”
“i’m not sure I’m going to like where this is going…”
“i was once with a man who had left twelve jobs in five years. and when i mentioned that it looked like he had commitment issues, he tossed that thought out the window. he said, ‘i may not know what i like to do, but i sure know what i don’t like to do’…..”
“i see, I think”
“i’ve had two husbands so far”
“well, i’m not dead yet.”
“no, you certainly aren’t”
“are you big into commitment?”
“what do you mean?”
“why do all cops answer a question with a question?”
“you should know…. you just did the same thing”
“i’m not a cop”
“no, and i’m not your wife”
“no you’re not”
“do you have a wife?”
“not yet, but i’m hopeful”
“hopeful about what? the concept of a successful marriage? hopeful of meeting the right person, if there is such a thing”
“don’t you believe that there is a right person out there for everyone?”
“about as much as i believe that i can pick this week’s winning lottery number”
“you’re not a very positive person, are you?”
“i’m positive that i woke up this morning, but beyond that, no….”
“that’s a shame”
“being positive is healthy”
“i am healthy. i run 3-5 miles a day, i train in martial arts, i eat well, i don’t drink to excess….”
“i’m talking mental health”
“that’s a can of worms and you know it. what’s mental health, once you get away from schizophrenia and manic depression? i mean, they’re the only tough ones”
“a good outlook on life is important”
“a good lookout on the roof is more important”
“why does everything come down to protection with you?”
“don’t knock it, it’s what’s kept me alive. and you like it that i am alive, right?”
“why do you care about husbands?”
“i think partners say a lot about a person”
“yes they do…whether you want them to or not”
“not going to happen”
“what do you mean?”
“i mean, if i tell you that after husband number one and i got married, he ignored me for months at a time, except when he wanted to be fed or fucked, and i stayed with him for a few years because of the lifestyle he gave me, and that husband number two beat me on every day that had a “t” in it for 11 months before it ended, that creates a certain scenario or personality stage for you to place me on that may or may not be based in reality”
“but it gives me some place to start.”
“all it gives you is a diving board into a pool of assumptions”
“but it’s a start”
“this. this is a start. this bed, this room, this time is all the start i am interested in”
“god, you’re a cold one sometimes”
“and yet….here you are…with a smile on your face and the memory of what will probably be the best lay you’ll ever have”
“and confident too…my my”
“save your ‘my my’s for when its worth something”
“so did number two really beat you every day that had a ’t’ in it?”
“right up until the day I slit his throat”
Boston in 50 Words
One of the newest pieces to join this collection is works that have been published in The Boston Sunday Globe . That publication has a feature called: Boston In 50 Words. The requirement is to tell a true story about Boston in exactly 50 words; not 49 and not 51.
Bad weather finds me on the Green Line to work. A talented young jazz trombone musician plays on the platform . . . really well. Rushing to a crowded E train, the sound of “So What” emerges from his horn. Turning, I mouth out: “Really?” He just smiles. I’m already late for work.
Man skating in Public Garden, small dog on a leash scurrying behind, barking. Man stops, a sweeping motion, whips the leash, releases. Dog slides away, spinning. How cruel, I think, until the dog picks up the leash and comes back, drops it, and starts barking. I realize; it’s their game.
Moto Haiku - Being a Biker in 50 Words
After I was published in the Boston Globe feature entitled: 50 Words, about life in Boston, I created this collection: #50 Words on Being A Biker / Moto Haiku as I wanted to apply the same discipline of the master craft of Japanese poetry; specific number of lines and syllables, set down in a specific pattern juxtaposed with nods to everyday objects or occurrences, along with an environmental reference. Of course, since nearly all owners of Harley Davidson Motorcycles tend to modify what the manufacturer puts up for sale, I modify the traditional haiku format by expanding out to fifty words, but retaining the foundation of juxtaposition of imagery and inclusion of environmental references. The goal is to have 50 Haiku.
(1) Cold morning, dressing properly for the ride to work; parked with 5 others. Quitting time, donned leathers again curbside. Riding home, angry clouds heaped up in picturesque disorder, evening sun playing peek-a-boo, illuminating the landscape with diagonal rays, rows of white caps pushed by easterly winds rush to the beach
(2) Sunday night, a four hour ride from New York to Boston on a cold, dark November night, all alone save for a full moon in the clear sky. The rumble of my V-twin underneath and the ribbon of red taillights ahead makes 80mph feel like a dance along the asphalt.
(3) Boylston Street Boston, the end of a long day, Harley parked at the curb. Climb on, fire the motor up and two blocks later, cabbie yells my taillight is dead. A flashlight and duct tape retrieved from a saddlebag and the problem is solved. Macgyver has got nothing on me.
(4) You know you’re a Biker when you roll up to a toll booth and give the guy three 1$ bills and a winning one dollar scratch ticket for a $3.50 toll. You know he’s a Biker when he takes it and gives you back 50cents change.
(5) For some, the sounds of singing birds, feeling sand under foot, the scent of a freshly cut cornfield brings peace. Bikers enjoy the heat coming off the motor on a cold morning, the vibration of a powerful motor through the handlebars, the chirping of car alarms as we ride past.
(6) Weekday, 5PM, between parked motorcycles on Newbury St, one a big Harley and the other a sleek Italian sport bike, we huddle around tools on the pavement, working together on a footpeg of the import. Within minutes, repair complete we are shaking hands, smiling, wishing each other a safe ride.
(7) Walking to work, 8.15 on a Friday morning, Boylston St., Back Bay Boston, 42degrees raw, raining, a stubborn wind reminds me of salt in an open wound. It’s another in a long line of gray miserable days, looking up, I see optimism and the definition of a Die Hard Biker.
(8) Holiday Time approaches, so many parties to get to, presents to buy. Soon it will be too cold to ride, but for now, leather keeps me warm. The headlight makes falling snow appear like dots. For some the rumble of the motor is like horse bells jingling from days past.
(9) Time spent riding with Brothers has changed to hours spent together inside wrenching, talking, planning, and standing in the garage doorway checking out the weather, daring each other to take the machine out for one quick tour around town. It’s so close, can’t you just smell the oncoming of Spring?
(10) Dreaded call comes at 9pm, kickstand up by 10, and into a 39degree November night. Hit the highway and crank that throttle. Three tanks of gas, four cups of coffee, six hours and five states later, I’m fifteen minutes too late to hold The Old Man’s hand as he dies.
(11) Seasons change and so does my ride. After many years on American steel, with the rumbling underneath, the roar of the exhaust, switching to an Import requires many adjustments. Being able to hear the sounds of the incoming surf nearby while stopped at a traffic light is a welcome one.
(12) Forecast abruptly changes, percentage of precipitation jumps to 70%. I leave the office into a driving rain that Noah would recognize. Trying to beat the worst of it, I fire up my bike. An hour later, soaked to the core, I am smiling; fresh rain water tastes amazing at 50mph.