27 June 2010

One-Eyed Reilly

and here he was again, One-Eyed Reilly,
as sure as Sunday, turning up like that
lucky penny she tucked into her
shoe on a Saturday

and herself, ruining the fine crease
of his trousers, looking for one of the
six keys to the city he keeps
safe in his pockets

late lunches of pasta e fagioli, the
stories of his sainted mother, the
thumbprint bruises on her upper arm, count
those jewels, emerald, ruby, amythyst
purpling, the man who does not know
his strength....

he plants a seed to sprout in
her ear, then, triple e spaugs dodging
the crevasses on Grand Street,
is on his way again, saving his one
and only world, painting out a

new signage, and, leaving the
last unsaid, she bids him her
fond farewell

Rag and Bone Man

she walks with the rag and
bone man, his cart rattling
down the street, wheels
uneven, shuddering, metal
upon metal and

he paws her hand in
his, deciphering the tiny scars,
white, upon otherwise
manicured mitts, the
strange text presenting itself
to an unpracticed, but
willing eye

target orange, his vest, and
him with six children, the
last a girl, their bird-
mouths always upturned,
squawking out awkward melodies
of hunger

she hungers too, no less, picking
through his findings, the
ragged ends of ragged days,
the false flourishes and
cheap ribbons thick with a
greasy dust, First Place and
Best Beloved no longer...
her dogs yelp and ache

oh, for a word or two
of truth to shock the
system, the cold clear
of rain in late August, the
sweep of the wind in
September, whipping the leaves into a crown,
the antiseptic snows of December, as good as
fertilizer for a lawn

the lineaments in and
of his face, no more
young, yet not old,
jake by her

Planting the Dogwood Tree

oh, for some speech from you
after you plant the white
flowering dogwood to shade
our heads, those of our great-
grandchildren too,

the slow thirst that rises
up over minutes, then hours
as little boys with dusty knees
turn sticks to rifles and stones
to missiles

quilt folded to a v--right
side and left, hers closest
to the cry of a child,
closer, too, to the kitchen,
so, he sleeps, undisturbed

as a child himself, wordless,
hand at the small of her
back as the sun rises to sear

the cut grass into hay
and the sheets flap, flaglike
on the line, the ice
melting in his glass, the
condensation blistering,
beadlike, tearing down

24 June 2010


oven-hot through the
soles that slap the
sidewalk and:
are you saved?

yes, Roses, are you

the question hangs in
the stilly air like dandelion-down
floating, here and there before
setting down their resilient seeds,
growing up, obstinate, even between
pavement cracks and
where building meets
sidewalk, sprouting green

and arms, fleshy-fat, rest on
pillowed windowsills,
surveying the passing

as children chalk out
games she chalks up
the score, nil, nil,
and nil by mouth for
some time to come

the rubber ball, fleshily
pink, she only half-
startled, catches it, the
warmth of it surprising
her, throws it back to
the boy (she knows motherless,

he catches it: smiles
she goes on her way, saved
or unsaved...

Black Dog

God's breath in man....
the last thing one would
expect on a day such as
this, as the black dog
circles to make his
presence known

no coldness, of charity
in your hands, the
brow furrowed as you
spoke, tiger-eyes
burning bright
hair curling back, so

(he growls and bares
his teeth, troublesome
canine, most difficult
of breeds)

she bent her head
to his, plucking on those
strings to make some
melody between them

drowning out even the
most incessant of howls

Christmas Lights

cobweb-thin filaments joining us,
one to one, to everyone, as
the copper gleams, the
burnished glow trembles at
the touch, the messages,
hammered out, so, then
sleeping, through the long
afternoon--no letters in
the post--so little, but
longed for, the ordinary

so, fields lie fallow, after
the rains, the stumps
yet to be pulled up and
where, she asks, will
the Christmas lights be hung
to light the way of the child?

the wind blows hot and
cold, all four seasons
in the same day,
marked with crosses,
crossways, the crossword
worked over at half-past
ten, the telephone
rang twice, then stopped

thrust into abrupt silence
she stares, distracted, at
her image, replicated,
stamp-like, over and again,
so easily torn

16 June 2010

Self-Made Man

be still and know that you are loved
unlike any other

the trees, joining branches over the
road, make a canopy of green leaves
for her to walk beneath

detritus placed out on the curb
for the trashman--Wednesday is
collection day, black bags bulging, larval

in them,
oddments--an alphabet soup of letters, some
errant organs still wrapped in sterile plastic, a
kidney here, a heart there, two eyes (the better
to see you with, my dear, as the old wolf said)

she assembles a whole in half the
time it takes her to walk to Bronxville, the
original reconstituted man, add water and
stir briskly, with your smile lipsticked on

expert, so, at making something from

looping great strands of DNA around
her fingers, fashioning this self-made
man, the codes catching in her

she'll teach him to talk, too,
a word at a time, til they
totter in a tower of Babel, together,

embracing his newness in her
arms, him, slick against her in
an August thunderstorm,

fleshy, this man of remnants, who,
new-born, looks upon her, pale-eyed,
learns love like an old repetition

of sums sung out from a window

Red Comets

the butcher wipes his hands on
his white flag of an apron, the
thumbprints of punctuation comet-like

smears she can see from across the

the meat, red, sheared from the bone,
white, and he takes a long drag on his
cigarette, then exhales, pluming smoke above his head

he sees her, sitting, alien,
amongst all this new brickwork, she

knows better the stairwell stinking
of cabbage and fish, the fifth coat of
chocolate brown paint flaking to reveal

plaster below

the voice billowing, wordless, above
her head, at the top of the
stairwell, she would swallow it, if she could,
just to quiet it, as a fractious child
held to her breast


another cop funeral, a big one,
today, and all the boots spit-polished,

a heel on her heart, still, she
will heal herself with music and

the magic of her fingertips drawing
roses up from the dead earth,

this sere plain, overrun by the
jackal, other heavyheaded animals

of prey, their eyes glinting back at
her in the dark, the November dark

of bone-fires sparking up as
she exhales a breath
kindling her own light

07 June 2010

The Mad Gesture

because there is no other choice
he makes the mad gesture

marshalling his armies for another

while she sits, with a dumb mouth
and closed eyes, as another film

reels off in her mind. now a flash
of taxi-yellow, now a blinking eye

of red

atop the stone formation two
books may make a desk, a

flier from the drycleaners (one coupon
torn off) the receptive page

for inkblot chicken-scratch, lifted
from the prescription pad (how
many years did she decipher the
doctor's hand

without becoming any the wiser?)


the taps run hot and cold,
scalding, frigid, by turns,
reminding one of those vastly
separate climates, the
equatorial, and the stolid,
stoic north of grey stones weeping,
the rising damp leaving a chill
in the kidneys

missing that--middle place
of simple warmth, lazing, lizard-like
on a rock, the sun, noon-high,
indiscriminate: she warms all without
marking out some reckoning to be
paid out in the end

the post is thin again today:
two begging letters, a tract, a
postcard from the pawnbroker (who
buys and sells your gold)

An Old Recipe

to be sure, he was flakier
than a buttered biscuit,
though twice as toothsome

sweeter than the fragrance
trumpeting from the honeysuckle,
yellow and white, banking the

highway, the pits in the
road only an occasional

shanks mare, for miles, in
the sun, the shimmer over
black tar, and she melts, melts,

away to a puddle

01 June 2010

Reading on 4th June 2010 / Lola's Tea House in Pelham, NY

MaryAnn--along with 8-10 others-- will be reading on Friday 4th June 2010.

Open Mic Night
7:30 - 10:30 p.m.

Lola's Tea House
130 Fifth Avenue
Pelham, New York



$5.00 cover $10.00 minimum