What took you so long?

Welcome. I've been waiting for you to show up.

Sunday, March 2, 2014



I am still upright. Bone is connected to tendon,

Ligament to filament. I’m breathing,
and breath leads to song.

My brain, while I'm alive, is not just flesh; it is a canvas.
As long as I’m still here, any poem is possible.
On Saturday morning, I sit with coffee
and the best writing I can find.
Better to sit outdoors, let the dog take her
desultory walks around the property,
show the squirrels what’s what.
They take advantage of the feeders,
using brute force, if necessary,
to grapple the last seeds from their cages.
Dog gives them the stink-eye and they shrink
back into the branches of a water oak.
Meanwhile, I wrangle meaning and juice
from the Oxford American, sighing at
photographs of old blues musicians 
solemn lakes for eyes,
reading a poem about birds aloud
to the audience in the trees.

Our next-door neighbor, a vigorous man
who builds his own room additions and
composts everything, tells me he had leukemia, 
had a marrow transplant.
“I’m a survivor,” he says.
Yes, I think. I can see that.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Two Cocktails On An Empty Stomach

Betty Melvin would not have been sitting in the Holiday Inn Lounge (the one by the Civic Center, not the one on the bypass) if her husband, TJ, had not been playing hockey with his  Civitan buddies and due home after 10 p.m.
Betty liked the mood of the lounge in every way possible: warm yet dim lighting, the smell of stale tobacco smoke, the Sinatra and Ray Charles soundtrack playing softly, the tang of aftershave on the traveling salesmen who chatted her up at the bar. It was a silly game, of course. She would never have gone back to a man's room, especially not with Narvel Simms tending bar. He knew TJ from high school and had bought his homeowner's policy from TJ.

No, Betty was just exercising her prerogative on that cool October evening. "There's flirting for keeps and there's flirting to keep in practice," she always said. Still, as the dinner hour came and went and she finished her second gin and tonic, she felt a little freer, a little braver than usual. At times like this, Betty knew, she became "outspoken."

At 9:45, Betty had Narvel call her a cab. She arrived home to see the living room lights on and TJ's black Impala in the driveway. On entering the house, Betty mis-stepped slightly and went down on her knees, letting her purse contents spill and roll onto the foyer floor. TJ came at the sound of her impact, but instead of helping her up, he kicked her legs a few times. Granted, he did not kick hard and granted he was wearing house slippers at the time. 

"You're drunk!" he shouted. "How do you think it looks to the business community that my wife is drinking with strange men? How do you expect me to get ahead, hmm? How do you expect me to make Civitan president with YOU for a WIFE?"

TJ was flinging-spittle-mad, but Betty, filled with Dutch courage, was about to start her first (and possibly last) rampage. Hurt knees and all, she leapt up, grabbed TJ's Maple Leafs hockey stick and began beating him about the head and shoulders.
TJ managed to grapple the stick from Betty and turned to whack her, but at that moment, Betty got hold of TJ's left skate and, with all her might, drove the blade into his chest.  TJ went down in a fountain of red, bubbly lung blood, eyes bulging at the sight of his own body impaled by a brown hockey skate. His last words were, "Betty, is that you?"

She called 911, of course, and waited on the sofa while Charm, her Pekingese, licked at TJ's blood.

Later, when the detectives asked her why she had killed her husband with hockey gear, she said, "We don't keep guns in the house."