Pet Goldfish

i suppose everyone
had a goldfish
from the pet
store or school
fair, glistening orange
in plastic bag
captured bit of
rippling nature, and
we tried to
keep it alive
with flakes and
water changes, but
after a few
months it died
and what did
we learn? how
to understand loss
that toilet flush
goodbye, what is
life? what is
death? it meant
nothing, and everything

Ciao San Francisco

24 years later i left
without a sound, wearing a
mask like I’d robbed the place
no longer the 23-year old
point reyes camping in the rain
studio-living kid applying to
grad school while dancing at
the elbo room, time has
passed, but that city of hills
dwells forever inside me
yes, it will always have my
heart, but just like everything
we had to part

At 80 Years Old

If I wanted, every day could be a funeral.
So simple, just put a name into the computer,

wait for the obituary to pop up. Those older guys
are gone, my coaches, teachers, even that camp

counselor from Pine Island, up in Maine, he
could hold his breath underwater for 2 minutes.

Never thought they’d all go away, but there’s
the little candle, Legacy.com warming the screen

with another smiling photo. I read all the comments,
deeply miss her, sincere condolences, with such

a heavy heart. And I feel the weight of age with my
scrolling fingers, try to remember the last time I

saw him, her. What did we talk about? Maybe I’ll
google their kids, see where they ended up.

Minutes pass and I close the laptop,
pretend they’re all still alive.

Of Time and the Kite

when my daughter was young we flew a kite
from her wooden deck, bedroom balcony
she held the string, I watched wind
invisible thing
nearby leaves rustling, flapping
nylon snapping, waiting for release
to soar or sink, ever the question
on a day such as this
the two of us standing there wondering
what does it mean to fly away?
I let go, her twine wriggled through fingers
up and up it went
sun stopped for seconds
our fabric patch covering time

Writing in Bed

exhaling visible emotion
ink onto page
alive each night if
only for these moments
toes touch sheets happy

the hours before are done
no more plodding through city
streets in laced up leather
free naked now
words moving across the page

composition notebook
indenting with cursive letters
pressing down, scribbled lines
fragments of thought
searching for truth night after night

sometimes finding things
like an old Hot Wheels car in
the sandbox, pull it out
examine chipped paint
try to recall when it was lost

describe what it looks like
loose front tire, red Camaro
“this is it,” I think
to reclaim, touch memory
unearth myself, the buried parts

The Day He Couldn’t Write

he tried to remember 1986, the 7-11 with
rolling hot dogs glistening on metal
smell of slurpee sugar, spoon straws
filled with red frozen slush, playboy magazines
covered, cloistered in the corner
laffy taffy, baseball cards in wax wrappers
but then he forgot why it mattered, and moved on
to dancing, prancing, using words like dazzle and
bob dylan, but it still wouldn’t happen
wouldn’t congeal into anything
just looking for truth, he thought
looking is the problem, let them find you
play hard to get, but sometimes that just means
you are alone, like a rolling stone
a complete unknown, a themeless writer
who couldn’t make it happen
not today