tourists

Afternoon in Amsterdam

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Many thanks to Sandy River Review for publishing (most) of the following poem in their Fall 2016 issue.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

                                                                     —for Roland Möe

Forget the red-light district

. toothless skirts from overseas

.. imported age-old fantasies

.

I ask the way to the Van Gogh show

. a bearded local walks me there

.. we smoke a bowl on a smoky bench

.

Inside, alone, nose close to canvas

. amazed by heavy strokes of pain

.. such violence in a starry sky

.

Someone tugs my sweater sleeve

. that beard with marijuana breath

.. twice my age, here to persuade

.

I say I’m hungry, leave the show

. he follows, knows a place not far

.. leads me back to his second-floor flat

.

Up steep and narrow bohème steps

. he serves up bowls of stovetop gruel

..  veggies and grains, a sweet-spice stew

.

Once he tastes, I try a bite

. smoke another bowl, relax, unwind

.. he lays a lazy hand upon my knee

.

Downstairs, distressed, I say I’m beat

. heading back to my hotel to sleep

.. he begs me not to go—Please, stay

.

Half his age, afraid of his long song

I find my way to the red-light zone

.. still unsure if any road leads home

 

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Three Paris Poems

Champs-Elysees 2

Much thanks to Forage, an online poetry presence, for publishing the following three poems in their July 2016 issue.

Rue de Tessier

                                                                           —Paris, 1980

When I first sky her, I’m all eyes

   a hovering hawk, hedonistic high

       itchy skin aflame, wings open wide

.

I welcome her, unsuspecting mouse

   I’m in, I’m out; around, about

      our image on the mirror clouds

.

Soon, my hunger flies away, my bloodied beak

   I look to my wrist for a reason to leave

      desire now an empty cup of tea

.

Parisian Park

                                                       —April 1980

Alone in a city of choices

   culture, croissants, corner cafes

      two thousand years of touristry

.

Still, no baguette can satisfy

   if I cannot just sit and feed

      quiet on this weathered wooden bench

.

One small bite soon invites another

   all become familiar, all the same

      each contains its craving itch for more

.

A finch alights on the edge of my bench

   cocks her hooded head, blinks an eye

      feathers ruffle up her throat—she goes

.

I’m mired by these daily hikes to night

   my search for food, my thirsty mood

      send the oceans, wash me home to sea

.

Still in Paris

                                                             —May 1980

Ducklings on the river Seine

   small beaks safe behind a drake

     and me—no one to follow

.

Along the bustled Champs-Élysées

   people bump and humble me

      makes no difference where I go

.

My father must be home across the globe

   painting or pounding inside the garage

      pruning his backyard garden

.

I could pluck a pistol from my pants

   taste its barrel, suck its bitter rind

      no one home would ever know

.

I pause my hunger, shut my eyes

   poked and nudged, ignored

      a stone in the bed of a river.

.

Hotel Brindisi

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Many thanks to Route 7 Review for publishing the following poem in their May 2016 issue.

Hotel Brindisi

                                                                       –One Star, 1980

No fun befriending illness on the road

  scratchy sinus, itchy cough, aches and pains, the runs

.

A fever comes, removes my clothes

  folds up all my maps and plans

.

Dreams of travel travel back to home

  romance of discovery subsides

.

I could die here—quiet, unseen, like those

  who make our beds, rinse our basins clean

.

Tonight, I gargle with some stale Coca-Cola

  clutch another colon cramp, catch another fire

.

The body always brings me back to now

  reminders always dripping off my brow

.

One Prayer

One Prayer

Many thanks to Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine for publishing the following poem:

One Prayer

                                                              —Jerusalem 5740

I wait my turn, the western wall

  white shawls muffling

    gray beards mumbling

.

I pen my prayer on a store receipt

  press it tight tween ancient stones

    tight among a hundred crumpled cries

.

Some rabbi grabs my elbow

  drags me to a cave

     straps my arm in leather

.

He chants a sacred melody 

  Adonai Elohanu, Adoni Echad

   one, we are one—everyone, everywhere

.

The crowd with its long tradition

  me in this thin tefillin

    this rabbi with his open hand

.

That early-morning Arab sipping tea

  demanding twenty shekels

    the pleasure of his plea

.

We are all echad—one prayer

  one crescent, one star, one sphere

Milano

Milano 1

Many thanks to Amarillo Bay, an on-line literary magazine, for publishing the following poem in their November 2015 issue.

Milano

                        —Easter, 1980

Most everyone’s gone for the holiday

or gone to church or shut away at home

the streets have surrendered to belfry chimes

to flocks of pigeons, swirls of last night’s trash

for lunch, we lick ice cream and save our cash

for dinner: steaming pizzas spiced with thyme

strange goat cheese, drizzles of oil from Rome

we eat, drink wine, and ask for more ashtrays

Years pass: I lose the urge to smoke but not

the flat image of that fat pizza man

his two fat sons and daughter, his thin wife

that day, we feasted: gluttons at the trough

some, instead, labored: blessing us with hands

with hopes they might attain eternal life

Ode to San Francisco

A gorgeous day across the city…

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Lots of tourists up at Twin Peaks…

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Checking out the downtown view…

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Sunny and eighty degrees in October…

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Some looked so happy…

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Others looked so good…

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Bright and breezy at the beach…

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Father and sons in the surf…

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A family bench at Lake Merced…

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Just a beautiful day….