Under Our Foot Strikes

Under our

Foot strikes

The ground

Huffs and puffs

Like my Chocolate

Lab after a run

In the woods.

A drop of rain

Splatters

Against the

Ground’s

Throat.

It chokes

And spews

Dust into the

Nostrils of

My dog

Who gasps

For air.

Chest heaving

He looks

For the

Pond.

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She Stares at Her Daughter

His thirty-nine-year-old daughter called to tell him

that her twenty-two-month-old daughter is beginning

 

to look like his daughter’s mother who died when his

daughter was twenty. She tells him she just sits and

 

stares at her daughter seeing who was in who is and

probably wondering what is to be.  She hasn’t seen,

 

touched or kissed her mother in nineteen years, half her

life ago, but she can see, touch and kiss her all over

 

again, differently, now as the mother,  in the baby’s blue

eyes and blond hair and the baby face before her, in the

 

one who came out of her own womb just as she had come

out of her mother’s. He tells her to keep staring because

 

before she knows it, her daughter will be up and out. He doesn’t

know if she liked that idea very much.  She probably doesn’t

 

want to contemplate another loss of a loved one even if it

means years still down the line, just out of the house and down

 

the block or maybe even another state or country. She lifts

and holds her daughter lightly and gently like an unopened

 

package marked fragile which just arrived in the mail, holds

the image before her eyes, gently inhales and smells the hair

 

just like her mother’s, kisses the damp top of her daughter’s

head just like her mother used to kiss the top of her head. Even

 

though she wants to, she doesn’t hold her daughter too tightly

out of some abandonment fear because the child would

 

just wiggle free like a baby brookie in a fast mountain stream and skip

out early.  She knows it happens a lot. She cradles her daughter

 

and begins to hum “Rock a Bye Baby” just like her mother hummed

to her thirty some years ago. A tear falls on her daughter’s cheek.

 

His daughter leans over and kisses the tear savoring the saltiness.

He Listened to the Dog at the Foot of the Bed

He Listened to the Dog at the Foot of the Bed

He listened to his eleven-year-old Choco-

late Lab’s labored breathing on the

floor at the foot of the bed.

 

He thought of the last run the dog went on with

them  three days prior and how the phlegm

caught in the dog’s throat and spittle

 

formed on his chin making it a wet drippy

white covering the white stubble.  They

stopped in their tracks and he

 

watched the dog’s tongue turn blue-pink

as the dog gasped for every molecule of

oxygen that he could suck

 

from the hot, heavy wall of watery air.

The dog just sat on the trail, chest

heaving and eyes pleading

 

for help of any kind just to stop the

smothering.  They waited together

and then inched along

 

toward the parking lot and water so

the thirsty dog could lap up as

much as possible as quickly

 

as possible so the aspirated phlegm

would turn soft and slippery

and could be regurgitated

 

onto the dusty gravel next to the car.

The dog knew that then he would

be all right for a while and he

 

could breathe deeply again, taking in

luxurious warm, dry billows reach-

ing to the deepest depth of  his

 

capillaries. Since then the dog hasn’t stop-

ped panting almost in anxious anticipa-

tion that the smothering would

 

resume and his tongue would turn blue

and this time there wouldn’t be enough

water around upon which to

 

aspirate and chance death by drowning

in order to live. Maybe the dog was

smarter than the vet who shrugged

 

and thought maybe Michigan State

could do something. As the man

listened to his dog, he thought

 

about how he  was going to have to

have a conversation with his wife

the next morning about death,

 

the kind of death in which he and his

wife play God. A week earlier both

of them had watched physicians,

 

nurses and technicians play God, by

seeking to deny, in some kind of

incomprehensible understanding

 

of the Hippocratic Oath, the sweetness

of immanent death to his wife’s ninety-

three-year-old father who lay on a

 

gurney in the emergency room blood flood-

ing his gut from a bursting aortic

aneurism. The nurse said that

 

the vitals looked really good when a flat-line

would have been a blessing and the

on-duty physician asked if the

 

family would like to have a CT scan and

family looked up in confusion and an

almost cruel glimmer of  hope

 

and his wife asked if it would change

the outcome and the physician

said no and they all hung

 

in limbo while morphine was pumped

mercifully, after some medical mumbo

jumbo discussion about just how

 

much was too much, into dear old dad who

had been wanting out for the four years

since his wife of sixty-seven years

 

departed rather quickly her earthly existence

and him.  All efforts exhausted, the staff

accepted defeat, readied dad and

 

then escorted him to the dying room on the

second floor. The ER physician went off

to save others. The Second Floor doc

 

entered, looked and left with a sigh of

resignation.  One could almost

tell she didn’t like her work.

 

Dad went fast seemingly at his own

choosing and perhaps he knew more

than those trying to

 

keep him alive in spite of all evidence

to the contrary.  Maybe dad was

just trying to save the family

 

a few bucks from the thousands ticking

and clicking off in the accounting

department, the computer

 

central of the hospital. Perhaps

dad knew best how to die given

the circumstances and

 

perhaps the dog knows best how to

stay alive for a while under the

circumstances until his

 

adoptive parents really have to make

the decision they would rather not.

They could go to Michigan State

 

and hear the vets tell them there is

this procedure and that and another

and his wife would ask

 

will it change the outcome and the vets

will say he’s got a 50/50 chance of

dying on the table or he could gain

 

six-months to a year, but the recuperation

would be tough.  At 110, the dog isn’t

going to be granted a five-year

 

reprieve.  And so, he and his wife will play

God in a different way than those in the

hospital, but God, never the less,

 

only in this case hopefully the compassion-

ate God. The man and his wife had the

talk they had to have

 

even while dreading it and then, to make it

that much harder, the dog got up,

grabbed a toy and begged

 

to play hide and seek before sleeping

a sweet, quiet sleep

on the couch.

Cynicism and a Flat Tire

Cynicism and a Flat Tire

My cynicism has been growing faster than the drought

has been killing crops in the bread basket this summer.

 

Then I get a flat tire in 96 degree/104 heat index weather

and manage to pull into a convenience store parking lot.

 

Five guys notice and ask if they can help and I’m feeling

really wonderfully cold rain drops fall on my back

 

while I’m bent over the flat sweating bullets and trying

to free the frozen lugnuts on the wheel.  My wife is ready

 

to go into the store to buy a small can of WD-40 when

some guy stomps on the crowbar and loosens the nuts.

 

Someone else tells me to kick the heck out of the top

of the wheel to loosen the stuck tire and it pops right off.

 

Three blue-collar white guys, one Hispanic dude and one

Burly black guy are there.  The black guy comments on

 

How nice the spare looks.  The Hispanic emerges from

The store and kiddingly offers me one of his ice cold

 

sixteen ounce beers. I hold the spare in place while my

wife screws on the lugnuts.  I’m thinking maybe one

 

of the helpers could be gay thus forming the perfect

rainbow coalition following the storm, but maybe I

 

should just be glad for the refreshing rain which really

wasn’t there but felt like it as I looked at my sopping wet shirt.

Stuyvesant’s Point

Stuyvesant’s Point

Three-pieces and pinstriped two-pieces

sat in a boardroom overlooking the tip of

Stuyvesant’s Point babbling bank-babble,

 

derivative-speak and how to further bundle

bags of mortgages and ship them overseas.

Done for the day, they flew to Phoenix

 

lined up the blue-jeans, tank-tops, flip-

flops and badly scuffed Redwing steel-

toes against the row of drowning condos

 

and two bedroom, one bath bungalows

in the desert and unloaded, rapid-fire, mag-

azine-loaded Glocks, and automatic assault-rifles

 

— stuff they bought at a gun show in Glendale.

For good measure, they bayoneted the floating

bodies so they would sink in the brown clay water,

 

the blood making the water just a tad darker

but dark enough to hide the bodies. The next

morning, after a shower for all and shave for

 

the guys, the three-pieces and two-pieces met

again in the boardroom, drank coffee and

thought about their bonuses and how the

 

money would pay for the really simple,

unassuming, six-thousand square foot, six

bedroom, six full-bath with an outdoor shower

 

next to the lap pool cottages with a short

walk to the ocean and beach bar in the Cayman’s

and Bermuda, nice places to go, if and when,

 

things turned ugly — not to mention the weather.

A Long Gone Girlfriend

A Long Gone Girlfriend

A long gone girlfriend, dead in life

Waits in the wings of dreams

Ready to start the courtship

All over again center stage

 

When the old man falls asleep.

He wakes next to his wife,

Feels guilty for a time

But then thinks to himself,

 

Not uttering a word, that he

Didn’t invite her, consciously

Speaking. She rises at night

Like the moon, the stars and

 

Vampires eyeing past the gray

Stubble on the old man’s neck

To taught, silky skin and pulsating

Blood from a throbbIng, twenty-year-old

Heart.

She Climbed Over

She Climbed Over

She climbed over the groaning

body, slipped on the blood

 

and triple flipped into the temporary

state of purgatory while sixty-some died or

 

were injured before she landed back

safely on earth and was willing to

 

give an interview before millions which

appeared to be live on commercial news

 

at six and then taped but looking live, just

the same, on PBS at seven thirteen p.m. Friday,

 

July 20, 2012, Daylight Savings Time.

She had heard the groan under her

 

but managed to save herself, a plus so

America could hear her live or almost

 

so report on the chaotic, mass-murder

slaughter in the theater. The person who

 

groaned gave up the ghost and died,

the direction of his or her spirit not being

 

determined by early speculators. But they

got the story first hand from someone

 

who was still splattered in the deceased’s

blood, a nice touch. It doesn’t get much better

 

than that in “Up To the Minute, Telling It Like It

Is News Coverage,” even for PBS. So be it. And

 

that is the way it is at seven twenty-seven p.m.,

Friday, July, 20, 2012, Daylight Savings Time.

Melting Ice and Naples, Florida

Melting Ice and Naples, Florida

Melting ice sheets in the Antarctic Peninsula

Unleach animal, vegetable and mineral

Not seen in millions of years,

 

Along with gazillions of gallons of water

Which back up all the billionaires

From Naples Bay and the Gulf

 

Into one Port Royale street now full of

Animal, vegetable and mineral the billionaires

Have never seen before and

 

Off of which are wondering how now

To make a profit not to mention getting

To I-75 to get out-of-town, if need be.

 

Einstein and Jesus Meet in the Air

Einstein and Jesus Meet in the Air

Hot, dry air descends

Into cool, damp coffins.

The Great Grandpa rises,

Says hello and gets

Very cold on the flight

Into the twenty-third

Or thirtieth century

On a diagonal journey

Through the time-

Space continuum,

Sees the universe ex-

Panding before his

Very eyes in a vale-

Dictory experience

Of a lot of work when

He was very young. The

Growing disorder since

The sub-atomic pre-

Quark blow-out that

Got it all going is

Mesmerizing.  He

Realizes, just before or

During or after he blows

Into a mega-gazillion

Quark-like invisible

Particles and attains

The ubiquity of Jesus,

That he wasn’t going

Back because of the

Directional Arrow factor,

Unlike Jesus, and

That the descendents

Of the string theory

Would join him later,

Before or now,

Scientifically and

Eternally speaking.

He says hello to Jesus,

Religious Jew who

Was, is and is to be,

As they pass like

Ships in the night

Of a black hole.

Jesus gives The

Secular Jew the

Thumbs up.  Amen,

Amen and amen.

Except, “So be it,”

Is about now, both

Past and future.

And, of course, it

Really is all about

Now. And those guys

Did, do and will

Affirm it.

Drought in the Michigan Woods

Drought in the Michigan Woods

Joggers feet used to pine needles

Scrunch dry, crispy leaves dropped

Prematurely on the path

 

By trees that couldn’t feed them

Anymore. Seedlings whither, shrink,

Scream silently dying in the dark.

 

Stunted smallmouth bass dive

Deep for cover from the sun

In the pond growing ever

 

More shallow. Northern Pike

Give up the ghost and float

White bellies up.

 

An Eastern Hognose snake

Slithers slowly across the dry,

Scorchingly hot trail in search

 

Of the pond. It stops, flares its

Neck like a cobra futilely trying to

Frighten intruders. Then it pleads,

 

“Please let me go. I have to

Get to the water or if you

Wish just stomp on my head

 

Fast and hard and get the

Inevitable over with.” They

Stand still and watch it go.

 

Feeling death all around the

Once beautiful trails, they stop again,

Gasp for air and then finish.

 

The dog dives in the deepest

Place to send the heat flying

And shrink his throbbing,

 

Swelling brain. A whistle, a wet

Dog, a walk out of the woods,

One jogger spots a snuffed out

 

Cigarette butt along the side of

The trail. He spews profanity

Up to the drought god sitting,

 

Like a genie out of the bottle,

Cross-legged on the one

Remaining bough on the top

 

Of the one remaining red pine

Blowing smoke rings.