They moved into the house across the street

They moved into the house across the street.
Chinese, I thought.
My wife thought they were Japanese.

Our grandkids were in the school play with their grandkids.
Our wives met when they helped set up the stage.
We were invited over.

Their house brought back memories of ’68 Da Nang,
the smells of the SVA guys cooking their rice dishes.

He asked me, was I in the war, and I told him about
a couple of firefights near Khe Sanh.

He said that he was stationed in Hanoi until ’67,
and then he commanded a couple of VC squads. He asked
if I was ok with that.

I took a deep breath. Just two guys talking.

It was a long time ago.

I offered him my hand.

——————————————————————–
This persona poem was originally published in
The Paterson Literary Review #43 2015-2016

In the Library at Poet’s House, NYC

This room, filled with chapbooks,
full-lengths, journals, analyses,
a million hours of concentrated work—
this room listens—
each tap, stroke, page turn.

The poets surrounding me do not.

He writes about lost opportunities,
she, damaged relationships,
this one, how the media filters and fragments him,
that one, daily grocery lists and candy wrappers.

I write of the here and now.

If I bang the keyboard,
they would startle—
might they then think of poetry’s roots,
a throat’s voice, sounded words,
hands moving for eyes and not paper,
how spoken volume interacts with pacing and rhythm?

How can you (yes, you) shout a rage-poem on stage,
yet casually write that same performance
as if pouring cream into coffee?

This is my offer.
Think about the unexpressed sounds in this room,
listening as the room itself does,
in exchange for this poem.

Apparently, and disappointingly,
with your casual acceptance of the ‘quiet’,
you have declined my offer.

No deal. Please put down the page.

————————————————-
(This poem was on a coffee table at Poet’s House)

Direction

My grandfather’s eldest brother, Sam,
a widower with three daughters,
had little understanding of girls.

The youngest was keeping company
with a boy for too long. My grandmother
asked them both to dinner.

During dessert, she asked his daughter,
So, you love him? You want to marry him?

Yes.

She asked the boyfriend,
So, you love her? You want to marry her?

Yes.

She picked up a calendar and placed it in front of them.
Pick a date.

— Published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow #7 (2014)

Three Seventy

They boarded a midnight flight
without thinking beyond
the seatback movie,
the car service had better be there,
hope the hotel has my reservation
.

Others awoke at first light
expecting to see a text—
Riding to the office, will email later.

No one feels like a gambler
when sunrise is a sure thing.

There are no cards to play,
no dice to roll, no horses to bet,

only small choices— do I take 360 or 370,
ok, that one is a little more, but I save a night in a hotel
,
type your details, click ok, credit card please.

We look at a clock and never see
the little wheel behind the second hand,
double zero ending the game.

— Published in LIPS #42/43 (2015)

Dig

I dug a hole in the ground to bury my doubts
near thin yellow bushes that die after five years.

Standing over my open pit, I shout questions.
They settle. I hear no response and cover them.

My fears are ten feet away, interred last weekend,
where the weeds are dense, bramble with long silver thorns.

I start to stack my sorrows for next week’s labor
beside brittle vines choking the memory stone.

— Published in “Narrative Northeast″

http://www.narrativenortheast.com/?p=1279