A Journal of Contemporary Arts 






Once again, I observe
The resident swan
Floating in her Scarsdale pond
Like whipped cream in a coffee cup.

She casually dunks,
Displacing gold koi,
Then preens a wing, as if annoyed
Her universe has been disturbed.

I’ve paused from my labors
To answer her jeer.
It feels like we’ve existed here
Since Hebrews built the Pyramids.

Toward the bottom the fish
Regroup, a rich man’s silt.
Netting one, would my fortunes tilt?
Perhaps I’d toss it back its life,

And in gratitude,
It might grant my wishes.
The swan spews vulgar hisses,
Beating out a frantic tantrum.

I skip a smooth stone
And scare two frogs.
We face off like two angry gods.
My soul’s compressed to a boll of cotton;

Wind blows, but I won’t
Blow away. Of all the snakes
Writhing on Pharaoh’s floor, the fates
Bid the richest swallow

And digest me whole.
Now I trim his green hedge
And lay his sod edge to edge
Across the estate from dawn till dusk.

In another garden,
I slaughtered my game,
Then grilled it over crackling flames.
Out drifted raw incense, cleansing me

From my actions. The sun
Again slips away,
Dragging one blunted, feeble ray,
While the swan glides on her shallow sea.


My parents spoke of colored people,
And I pictured tones of orange, tan, and brown
Naturally blending across blank faces.
In a playground, my child,
Born of four continents
And a melting pot of races,

Chases after giggling preschoolers,
Before failed arguments, then lawyers,
Broke apart our family like land
Masses from Pangaea.
As a child, I saw their
Clothing’s hues match each arm and hand,

As if their skin bled through faded shirts
And dresses. The colored people
Crowded the street, their same tired stare
Engraved across ages.
Who knew what they wanted
Or why they gathered there?

My daughter tumbles, then rises,
Happily shrieking, raptured in her games,
Trailing streaks of all the spectrum’s bands
Through clear afternoon air.
From a bench, I followed,
And away from me she ran.



You’re about to read this poem.
You’re in between each line.
Just wait till it hits home,

Expressing how you moaned
From rhyme to rhyme to rhyme.
You’re about to read this poem.

It glows just like a phone
In the back row of my mind.
Just wait till it hits home –

A scalpel to the bone,
Incisor to the rind.
You’re about to read this poem.

The fluid becomes stone,
The coiled truth now unwinds.
Just wait till it hits home

When these words – no more postponed –

Pronounce that you’re all mine.
You’re about to read this poem.
I’ll just wait till it hits home.


Before we meet for an after-work drink,
There are certain things you wish to make clear
Before our words end up slurring from beer
Or stirred expectations suddenly sink,
As if clarity frames a window through
Which we may carefully view and converse
Without prematurely slaking one’s thirst
By touching on feelings deep inside true.
The sheer weight of your concerns dismays me,
But still not enough to cancel our date.
If what I imagine’s worth my life’s wait,
Then these uncertainties shouldn’t faze me.
May my desires be received clearly
By you, or please know I will pay dearly.



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Hell’s circles surround me,
Or so it seems
As each winds round this braided rug,
Bought second-hand, and from space to space lugged.
Trapped in its dirt and stains I see
The punishments for gluttony,

Anger, violence, and lust
Befalling friend
And foe with relentless fury,
Judged and sentenced by a merciless jury.
Even those once honest and just
Here reduced to howling and pus.

I’m barraged with their cries
From each twisted
Sinew to crack of brittle bone,
Lost souls left to face the music alone.
In my living room each again dies
Buried under self-loathing lies.

I’m supposed to recoil
From such horrors,
But stare at the ceiling
Without one stray, empathetic feeling,
Knowing pleading and penance toiled
Remain answerless, spent and soiled.

Each wretch claws for hope’s crumb,
Whispered prayers ground
Into cacophonies of pain,
Begging for an end to scrape them from their names,
While I, dead center, frozen, shunned,
Stand, unable to help anyone.




I wake with no rest from two hours at best
Not tossing and turning, returning
To the same still room and same dull view
Resumed from when my eyelids dropped shut.

Into musty air they now winch open
On each accrued, hoarded object frozen
Beside a narrow stretch of years uncut
By chance encounter or star-crossed event.

Each night, I lie down, I think sleep will bring
A strong, stiff broom that sweeps clean my mind’s nave
And triumphantly undoes all that was done,
Completely altering everything.

When was it into Limbo I first went
And passed among those lost, forsaken, numb?
Mornings bring no changes there. There I’ve stayed.


You’re much more amusing than my muse,
Who inspires only my P’s and Q’s
And dictates my ballpoint’s don’ts and do’s.
On the dotted line it’s you I choose.

You jeté over my temple’s pews,
Above my head halo your brash Good News.
My cup runneth down to my shiny shoes.
Faced with the Godhead, it’s you I choose.

You strike your match to my dormant fuse
And stretch your skin over my deepest bruise.
Between the hurrahs and all the rues,
At the fork in the road, it’s yours I choose.

You let my beasts loose from their locked zoos,
Who flatten the earth of all its false truths,
Then pair off to breed in Noah-esque twos.
Deluge or rainbow, it’s you I choose.

Eyes shut, I recognize all the cues.
And I’ve paid off each of my life-long dues.
I’m wagering everything left to lose.
Now given the choice, it’s you I choose.


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The i’s are not dotted
And t’s are not crossed.
Between start and finish,
You stalled mid-way.

All the sweat, all the tears,
Doubled the cost;
Your lines to posterity,
Somewhere mislaid,

Your babies out with bath-
Water tossed.
The plan you concocted,
Forever delayed

And seeds you planted,
Iced by frost.
Sole master of all
You survey,

Steel vents seal tight
On your self-holocaust.
So lay down your mallet
On this game of croquet

And drift on waves
Of titanic dross,
Ditching meaning and reason
Amid the fray,

The bodies now covered
By soft green moss
Where you’ll soon enough
Sink and stay.

They found you here,
But here you’re lost.
The words to this story
Bleed off the page.


My father says goodbye today.
Goodbye to his devoted spouse
And the memory of three former wives.
Goodbye to truth, goodbye to lies.

My father sighs so long today.
So long to his white-collar labors
And all desire to acquire wealth.
So long to sickness, so long to health.

My father surrenders himself today.
He gives up his nap
And lounging by a pool of water.
He gives up his son, he gives up his daughter.

My father waves farewell today.
One slow wave to his stepchildren
From the eastern seaboard to the Rio Grande.
Farewell to dumb luck, to all the plans he planned.

My father grins through the fear today.
He shakes a handful of dust
At men who stole what he rightfully earned,
Laughs his last laugh for each time he got burned.

My father finally says no more today.
No more to his irons and putter,
And the black hole beckoning from an island of green.
No more to nightmares, no more to dreams.

My father utters good riddance today.
Good riddance to telephone solicitors
And doctors prescribing a litany of pills.
Good riddance to taxes, good riddance to bills.|

My father blows us all a kiss today --
Who in a wheelchair, then a gurney
Rides out of town, unbeguiled.
He blows a kiss to his sisters and in-laws, a kiss to his only grandchild.

My father’s come to leave it all today,
To drop his regrets and his thanks
In the upturned dirt and grass
As the past and the future divide in a flash.

My father whispers goodbye today.
Goodbye to his smallest possessions,
To an empty, scuffed briefcase of debts,
Goodbye to what we remember, goodbye to what we forget.





Malena’s body turns and kicks
The walls inside her mother’s womb.
Only inches divide her warm
Dark world from her parents and us
Now gathered in this familiar room
To celebrate the vacant space
Her laughter and cries, pleasures and drama,
Will gradually fill. But tonight she sleeps
Or briefly wakes, cradled beneath
The timeless hill -- near enough to conceive
A beating heart and blood coursed veins,
Her soft brain flickering our sounds
And shadows, yet distant as the unseen
Dance stirring the bones of two small feet.



When I tango with you, it’s better than sex,
Better than being with my ex or my ex.
Once we start I can’t stop, with each step we undress.

When we move together, life gets complex,
Our legs, eyes, and arms all intersect.
You open, I enter – your space, more or less.

When I embrace you, I only exist
To connect our bodies hinged by our wrists.
You follow my lead in our public tryst,

Surrendering more as each turn and twist
Adds a lick or a stroke, a bite or a kiss –
Though every bone in your body tries to resist.


     * from Final Terms (revised edition) 2018 Pivot Press


             “And he dreamed that there was a ladder
               set up on the earth, and the top of it reached
               to heaven; and behold, the angels of God
               were ascending and descending on it”

                                                        Gen. 28:12

In the great space where the towers rose,
Where flesh, burning with concrete, steel, and glass,
Fused instantly into soft, gray ash,
First an east wind, then a west wind blows.

From the border between sky and heaven,
Step by broken step, a stairwell unfolds
To where we stood, powerless, and now behold
These angels who can’t return nor beckon.

Each footfall deliberate, transfigured by grace,
Adorned in the forms we perceive they once wore,
They ascend and descend, floor by bright floor,
Who one morning with fear and courage raced.




Let each throat vowel rise
From the orange-robed monks.
Let the Baptists Alleluia
Before being dunked.
Let the shofars blow and church bells ring in harmony
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.

Let each crypt and coffin
Prematurely open,
Let every heart’s
Seventh seal be broken.
Let the Shakers shake rapturously
As my baby shakes when she comes with me.

Let the desert armies
Kneel and pray
And surrender their ranks
In disarray,
As Rabbis and Imams laugh deep belly-ly.
Let the waters part like they did B.C.

Let angels beat their wings
Against the glass
And the pilgrim
Drop his bloody lash.
Let the minarets whisper “Amen” on the hour
When my baby comes with me in our bower.

Let the prophets prance
Around our bed.
Let Ganesh and the Buddha
Lead and be led
Between all our births and all our deaths,
When my baby comes, when she comes with me.



       for Natasha

Each family evolves its own religion,
As I am my father’s only born son,
And my mother a ghost these thirty years
Who, before her body became a word,

Made her life our home, its heart her kitchen,
And each meal a foretaste of the Kingdom Come.
What truths were clear then have all been but smeared
Like the fallen body of the baby bird

As it hopped in the street, was crushed by a car.
As someday I’ll cremate my father’s smile,
And kiss my daughter a final goodnight,
All parents become their own sacrifice,

Opening new wounds, uncovering old scars.
My father opened, then closed the drawers of his files,
Balanced his ledgers beneath a dim light.
My mother poured tea. Small blessings sufficed.

Tonight I confess that I cannot remember
Her voice or her words. We mourned for three days,
Then buried her deep in a sun-showered grave,
Shared her last cake’s sliver and sacrament of crumbs.

As my daughter sleeps, these words come dismembered.
When I piece them together, the dead might be raised.
But nothing that lives will ever be saved,
Nor the moments I believe we all are one.




   * from Final Terms (revised edition) 2018 Pivot Press