I don’t use emoticons
Or exclamation marks
And I don’t capitalize words
To make them brawl and bark
I use italics sparingly
Like fish sauce or Danish Blue
Lest my paragraphs become
Potpourris or cheese fondue.
Language is like music
With precision, grace and mojo
Exaggeration makes the world
Pocket-sized and so-so
From Shakespeare to Updike
They never needed an air hammer
The real power-tool for the job
Is a little thing called grammar.
Roy is eighty years old and from Honduras.
He has lived in the same Brooklyn brownstone for fifty years.
“I can’t move,” he says. “This was where I lived with my wife.
I turn in bed and she’s not there. But this is where she used to be.”
He points to a wrapped bouquet of flowers on the stoop.
His Jeep Cherokee with two-tone leather seats is spotless,
Parked on the curb, shining in crocodile green.
“I visit her grave every week, never once missed a Friday.”
I see him sweeping his bluestone sidewalk in the fall.
In winter, we shovel the same snow.
He just came back from Honduras after burying his sister.
“I’m the youngest of five. My mother lived to be a hundred.
My sister was two years older than me.”
He points to the place on his index finger
Where the nail meets the flesh, saying,
“We were como uña y carne.”
We run into each other on summer mornings
He is on his way to the candy store for his morning paper
I’m on my way to the library where I write
In a quiet room, the rhythm of the graphite
On the surface of the paper
Almost like another person’s breath.
I pray, dear Lord,
To draft and scribble
Until the day You say, “Quit!”
And summon me to
The main library halls
To reassess my writ
Oh, let my work
(Wherein I praise Your creation)
Find grace when your angels read it
And let not St. Peter
That grouchy librarian
Stamp it A WASTE OF SQUID
The highway starts humming at four
The birds in the trees at five
And then I
A neighbor called to say,
Could I move my Ford, a day in May?
For a scene in a superhero movie
They need to vacate the lot
“A superhero who can’t move a truck?”
In a heartbeat,
We will long for winter
But spring is the only season we hope for
And then I
Superhero of poetry, coffee, and all the rest.
Tug the pull chain, green light on the desk.
In New York
Cats and dogs
But it could be
Love left for another continent
And for weeks, the notebooks have been piling up
On the kitchen table.
Outside the window,
At seven-thirty, the cardinal sings his tune
To remind the world, I assume
That breakfast is overdue.
I’m reading the ABC of Achebe, Bukowski, Camus
Dotting down, in red and blue, sequences of particular musicality.
At sunset, the first glass of wine is exquisite
The second is the name on the label
After that, it’s like doing someone else’s homework.