Concrete and Glass


An apartment building
Of concrete and glass
With elevators that went up 18 floors
They would fool us
By stopping mid-floor
In the basement
Rows of steel cages
With yellowed bulbs
Stored everything that couldn’t fit
In tiny apartments

The cantankerous gentleman
With sullen eyes and a thick mustache
Was in charge of the concrete and glass
That towered above
He shouted sharp accented sentences
In deep guttural growls
That smelled like rotten apples
At the children
Who rode down the ramps
From the second floor
Of the parking garage

Surrounding the concrete and glass
Farm land with a patchwork of colors
Where chickens and produce
Were raised together
A little creek cut around from the back
Then ran down the street
Was lined with midsize trees
It tempted little children
To jump it’s banks
But often it opened wide
Sending them waist deep
Into its depths

In front stood a crab apple tree
Which provided small green sour apples
That puckered lips
As teeth sliced through their flesh
From the tops of its branches
You could see the playground
With its towering wooden fort
And sandboxes
Tiny red pin head sized bugs
Made long journeys
Across the gritty territory

During the winter
We biked down the streets
Hugging the snow banks
Following narrow lanes
Created by passing cars
And in the summer
Climbing in the skeletal bodies
Of unfinished homes
Or laying on the ground
Staring up it the tops of the trees
Against the backdrop of blue skies

Not far away
Was the cobble stone streets
That ran through the town
Where butcher shops
Offered us thick portions of bologna
And the bakeries
Cut steaming slices
With dark brown breads
That were warm and aromatic

At the little school
Chalkboards contained beautiful cursive writing
And big windows
That went from the floor to the ceiling
Looked out on a wooded
Playland with birds and squirrels
Teachers and children alike
Delightfully conversed in strange dialects
That didn’t alienate

Then bells would ring
Echoing gently
And we would make are way
Back to the concrete and glass
Settling into bed
As the metal radiators popped
And warmed our rooms


Where the Cries of Mothers Don’t Carry


Mother was terrified
We were mystified
She yelled in increasingly
Panicked tones
While we panned out
Walking the neighborhood streets
One of us was missing
In the age of Adam Walsh
Dyed hair in bathrooms
And drugged toddlers
Crossing Mexican borders
For my mother
Minutes turned to an hour
And an hour
Turned into an infinity
But for us it was just a moment in time
Where we didn’t understand danger
And only wished for the missing
To return
Calming and settling
Those that truly understood
The menacing peril at hand

The kidnapper
Turned out to be a charcoal dusted dog
Who suffered no consequences
For luring a small girl
Off into an unfamiliar neighborhood
Where streets looked the same
And the cries of mothers didn’t carry

I Envy the Storms


I envy the storms
With their ability to rage
Without consequences
To get angry
Without guilt
And destroy
With no remorse

I envy its ability to crawl across the landscape
Raining down
Before moving on unheeded

No one questions its intentions
It acts without resentment
Lost in the moment
Created by volatile forces
In the upper atmosphere
And there is nothing to hold it back

Neither self-control nor breathing techniques
Or fear of ramifications
Quell its thirst for expression

You get to see it’s intensity build
Into a furious mess
Not with an unexpected explosion
Of heated cloudy emotions
It is contemplative
Full of veiled threats

I am bound by the physiology of anger
And the fear of reprisal
I am left dealing with the clean up
The rebuilding of beaches and bridges destroyed
Friendships unshackled and set adrift

I envy the storms


Fredericksburg and Zarzamora


Insipid and exhausting
The dry heat forced every pore
To work overtime
Bead after bead
And while I sweat…
Pirouette and cabriole’s
Were performed in dark cavernous rooms
Leftovers of an art deco panache

In the deep back seats
Of a late model V8 town car
We would travel everyday
An entire year
As she would spin on her toes and sauté
We distinctly felt each moment
Each tick of the clock

I categorized it as a scourge

But while she practiced the art
Of dancing in opulent Renaissance courts
I found a world unlike my own
While she worked on technique and precision
I crafted my existence
The beginning of a slow recognition
Of man’s fallibility

The yellow flowered vines clung
To chain link fences that were in need of repair
And as we sat parked between white lines
We could hear the work of dancers
Leaping in the air
Landing with a thud
Muffled instruction
Heard through the back door

But we couldn’t stay behind the building
Hiding out all year
Imagination only went so far
So we ventured out

We travelled to a small lake
Which rose out of the concrete jungle
Surrounded by neighborhoods older
Than my grandparents
Birds swooped low and fast across the water
And I would search the grass
For anything I could use as bait
On the end of my homemade pole

Other times
We needed a place to retreat from the heat
Relief came in the form of
Cold dry air
Drying sweaty hair
Rooms full of books
That smelled of aging paper
Where murders happened
Ghosts haunted castles
And history fell into my lap
In the forms of stories about war and famine
Earthquakes and disease

I imagine though, for my mother
It was a particular form of torment as well
Her pores also working overtime
Keeping the energy of animals contained
Long drives that wasted precious fuel
Tanks filled that took money
Money that probably had better uses
In a budget that couldn’t have been tighter
But I think she also was hoping
That the memories
Would indeed be clever
Revealing its inner complexity
When the time was right

Here I was removed
From the countryside that surrounded the sprawling city

This was a world where men slept on sidewalks
Possessions cinched in plastic sacks
With touches of hysteria
Talking to those that were no longer
Or never were
This was a world where buses drove by
Carrying the tired eyes
Of those who rose at dawn
And slept after dusk
Destined to work until their last dying breath

For me it was a brief moment
In an entire life

For others the frustration of commuting
Battling the heat
And having barely a budget to live off of
Was not merely just a yearlong endeavor
A result of a dance scholarship
It was their life

That year
I learned how to love a city
Outside my own neighborhood
About mothers who sacrifice
For their children
And the destitute that struggle
With no education or healthcare

I saw the elegance and pliancy
Of motion
All around me
With the grace

Of a ballerina
Expertly performing demanding choreography

We were all dancers
Learning our parts
For better or for worse
And even if I was
Lacking in acute awareness
Absorbed in my own dimension of space and time
I was learning

I still pass the old building
From time to time
But I only think of stifling heat and long car rides
Just briefly
Before a smile creeps slowly across my lips
Thankful for insight



Only once or twice in your lifetime
Will you experience snow
When living between the gulf waters
And the slow rise of the hill country

Only once or twice in your lifetime
Will you experience the loss
Of a grandfather

The slow fading out
Into a white wintery wonderland
Blinking and then gone

The loss of kisses
That come in the form
Of rough unshaven faces
That scratch at soft new skin

Never waking up in the early dark hours
To watch him smoke his morning cigarette
While he eats cereal
And reads the newspaper
Before heading out to work
Hair slick with pomade

Never driving to the hardware store
While listening to a Floyd Cramer 8 track
Admiring his coveralls
And crisp white t-shirts
While taking rides through the sky
Looking down on the Chinese gardens

Deeply inhaling
Into candle molds
Savoring the smells
Of old world hobbies

Adirondack chairs
Watermelon served from metal tubs of ice
Morning glories and white latticework
Vintage stereo consoles
And buttered bread

16 inches of snow
And he leaves
And I only got 10 years
But I carry so much of him with me
Even 30 years later

Thanks For the Memories John


Snoqualmie Pass
Sleeping angels in the rearview
And it’s the light in her eyes that makes me warm
Watching the snowcaps
Bristling with massive pines

We hold hands
And follow each other
Letting our finger tips touch
And I turned the wheel slightly to the left
Coming down through another valley

Ten years
The mountains still majestic
Lakes just as cold
Static and comforting
She fills up my senses
Like a night in a forest
Together we have experienced
The tectonic shifts of our life’s crust
Where new life and love grows

We listen to the music of the mountains
They’re a promise of the future
One where we are always together



Fear checks in
Takes the best room in the hotel
And slams doors as you try to sleep

Fear is a weapon
Firing bullets of mistrust
Creating outlines of conspiracy theories
In the sides of our homes

Fear is the shadows
That creep out from the corners
And take the shape
Of evil

Fear feeds off us
Leaving little but bone
It is a driver of all things human