Purposely avoiding a response to current events, I’m revisiting some brief pieces of writing. Some are early; some are recent. They are a welcome distraction from thinking about the present.













From the bus, the plane, the car

that dragged me to some captivity—

to home—to school or work—

I would watch the lit-up windows.

Scattered over farmland or tucked

in the curves of overpasses, those kitchens,

those living rooms would be warm, I would drink tea,

and in those rooms I would learn a very important secret.


In the spring, when most of the snow had melted,

the 7th-grade girls played dodge-ball

in the field behind the school.


And if you died?” his social worker asked.


If I died, you’d close the folder.”


Everyone was late to the OCD clinic

because of the sign outside:

Please Wipe Your Feet.


43rd Street Haiku

Sunday morning.

In the gutter outside Nathan’s,

a dead knish.


I have imagined myself

the lover of multitudes

and the hero of millions

as I lie in my room, listening

to the radiator hiss.


The Snow Queen

As if in a dream I saw her,

but I was awake, watching the storm

through panes cleared by my breath,

through the swarming snow, her eyes

brighter than moonlight

and the smile of her blue lips.


Pomegranate juice runs down your chin.

We spit the seeds into the grass.

I lick your fingers.


Wars, disease, insane gunmen,

lightning, earthquakes, accidents—

so many ways that lives are lost,

and only one of you!


The Cat Woman

There is only one way to enter her.

I nuzzle her behind the ears, hold her sleek waist,

as she tickles my chin and nipples

with her tail.


When you’re early for your bus,

it pulls in late.

When you’re two minutes late,

it left on time.


Like all of us—crippled and blessed

by the human condition.



I almost don’t want to find them,

lost friends and relatives

with their news of who’s been sick or died,

of what’s unrecognizable now,

and reminders of what might have been.


The curse of the talented:

to always ask

Was I too nice to be a genius?


Junkyard weeds

have flowered

purple, yellow, red.


No wind:

sheets and shirts

lifeless on the line.


A man bends

with reverence into

the jaws of his car.


The wind ripples

the grass, the way a cat’s fur



A dog chases

the train. And if

he catches it?


Bright-lit windows:

the eyes

of dark houses.


A hawk glides

across the moon.

Mice, look out!


I touch the stairs outside to see if there’s ice.

You fear the driving and doubt the radio’s report

of freezing surfaces only in the north.

So I’m outside in the dark, in the rain, in pajamas,

touching the stairs and finding them wet.


Your tongue inside your mouth

is cold

from the strawberry you ate.


Someone wrote to me:

“I am tying up my letters from you

with a ribbon, so my grandchildren

will find them that way.”

This is not an exact quotation,

since I didn’t keep her letter.


Silent people

pass in the night.

In the autumn they crunch.



Thank you for your letter.

You might have phoned instead,

but I couldn’t keep a phone call in my pocket

and take it out to read

now and then.


I realized that material possessions

and worldly success were meaningless

when I was a failure and had nothing,

but I questioned the meaning of failure

and decided I was okay.


Watch the sky closely: those clouds aren’t moving;

it’s we who are moving, our island is drifting . . .

Manhattan . . . America . . . Earth . . . all of us

and everything we’ve packed to bring with us . . .

slowly drifting . . . where currents and wind,

chance and time are taking us.


If you have holes in some of your socks,

you can never go into a shoe store

on impulse.


On the D Train

The latch of a man’s attaché case slips open.

The secrets we strain to look at

are only books, papers, a pocket tissues pack.


Please stop doing that

or you’ll trigger

one of my episodes.


You can catch

more flies with honey

than vinegar,

but shit

works even better.


The striped shadows of the venetian blinds

come now from the sun, not the street light.

Why did the alarm clock ring

before I could forget last night?


I have nowhere to stay in this city,

no money to pay for a room.

There are so many beds, though,

where I could share my warmth,

and it wouldn’t cost the occupant

a cent.


Politicians parade down Fifth Avenue,

passing stores where only those

who own the politicians

can buy the useless merchandise.

Go elect yourselves!


I watch in our tangle

the curve of your shoulder

and one eye watches me.


They sit across from each other,

eating their doughnuts in silence.

When their eyes meet, they are embarrassed

and do not know why.


You’ve flown to warm countries

from the frozen streets, my heart

in your grasp. You float in warm waters

while I walk the white fields, aspirations

buried till the spring.


Watching a wolf in the woods

in the Bronx, watching me

in the zoo in the Bronx.

It’s easy to live in benign captivity,

sleeping, chewing the meat they throw

as we both know.





  1. Edward Curtis · · Reply

    Your art has become mature and it touches me. — Ed

  2. I share the wish to avoid current events for a while, but #32 radiates irrepressibly topical wisdom. I admire many others also.

  3. Judith Lechner · · Reply

    A wonderful collection. My favorites are: #3-9, 17, 22, 26, 28, 39. Thanks for numbering them.
    Love your wry sense of humor.

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