The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master;
so many corners always filled with grime
while I mop dirt, the dust falls even faster.
I sop dried puddles and admire the luster
of spotless doors, the chrome and porcelain.
The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master.
I continue scouring, cleaning even after
unearthing places, spaces where I sometimes find
I’ve missed. Ignore these: I might finish faster.
Then I look behind the fridge. And woe! A cast of
bread crumbs--nubs six months past their prime.
The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master.
So I swab the last spots and polish. And lastly
admire the realm I own, the boundless shine
and yet the dirt accumulates much faster.
than I can clean (the eternal task, the gesture
of grime). I’m never done with scrubbing time.
The art of cleaning isn’t hard to master
though I should sparkle (Do it!) even faster.
It’s not a lover who rouses me with soft murmuring.
It’s the train which startles me, the sucking sound
of a locomotive swallowing what’s left of the night.
Or maybe it is the lover, his snore inhaling
what’s left of my dream. I have to pee. I’m dreaming
of peeing, not of the lover beside me who,
in my dream, might be watching me squat
over a bowl in a single-bulbed room.
He is laughing. My lover isn’t nuzzling my hand;
it’s my dog, who’s insisting on breakfast
as I try to forget the dream, forget about peeing,
ignore the snoring. The dog has flopped on the floor
beside me, now. An owl begins its outside song;
the moon is oddly on the wax or is it wane?
My lover, still asleep, is hacking like a cat
with a hairball the size of a Buick. In my dream
I’m peeing, but when I’m done,
I still need to wake up and go.
Fifties Women at Windows
They wait at windows
in aprons and house dresses,
and pointed. They wait
at kitchen windows, soapy hands
plunged into Joy, a little
orange grease catching the edges
of their wrists. They wait for husbands
to get home, for children walking
down streets, for the delivery
with its boxes and butcher paper
wrapping what they can’t afford
this week. They wait at picture
windows while plows clear snow
into impossible rows. They wait
for neighbors and coffee,
the Fuller Brush man with his bag
of brushes and cleaners,
for the Avon lady to ding dong,
bring vials of To a Wild Rose,
tiny tubes of pastel pinks. They wait
for the knock of The Millionaire
offering a check to solve
what ails them. For once,
they want to be Queen for a Day—
or at least the idea of it. Not
the pitiful sobbing women
in the small window of the TV.
They wait for the window
of the world they knew to open
and take them back.
Live Like a Water Lily
Water lilies wake up slowly
float in their dreamy
world -- soft arms folded over their
faces until mid-morning
when they open from the center of their bodies
as sun warms them awake.
Soft and supple, they breathe from
more than one place.
They do not worry
about yesterday or tomorrow.
They don’t care what you think of them.
Their egg-yellow centers are tough, strong,
nourished by water and sun.
Wind and wave may engulf their entirety
yet they separate their bodies from water
open their faces to the heavens,
pull back the beads of dark water,
move freely in open space
buoyant and beautiful,
making white water circles
in the sun until mid afternoon
when they fold gently into themselves
drowsing in the dimming daylight.
Oh! If only
to live like a water lily.
At the Back Steps
During the Great Depression
they rode the rails,
knew where to get a meal.
They’d jump from freight cars
into this little prairie town.
They’d look for the white house
with the big porch. At the back steps
she invited them in, two or three at a time.
They ate meatballs rolled with nutmeg,
ginger, allspice and clove, swaddled in gravy,
with mashed potatoes and green beans,
snapped fresh from the garden, and pie.
Yes, pie! Resting on crust so flaky
it melted comfort on their tongues.
She fed them in late afternoon,
men with sad eyes. Hoboes -
probably with children of their own
somewhere back across all those fields of dust.
Great Grandma filled empty bellies,
asked one favor, that each do a chore
in return, before they hopped
the clacking wheels again, riding the
wail of the whistle into the distance.
Have you heard about it?
Read about it?
The new device
comes in a spectrum of colors.
a plastic plumb line dangling
from a lanyard of light-up-ness
It’s a lung dart on a leash,
a butt on a battery,
Fags on flavors,
The lucky strike of smoke,
a cowboy killer.
A cancer stick of comfort,
A wonder wheezer of wow--
Like the hookah-smoking caterpillar from
Alice in Wonderland.
These drags on durries
are delivered by vendors of vapor.
without the smoke.
I watch a woman at the beach,
the vamp of vapors
raise the breast of a black and
silver tube to her lips.
She puffs on her pacifier
nursing the nipple of nicotine.
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