All I Want For Christmas

For Justine

All I want
For Christmas
Is a moment.

That moment at the cabin
With the cat and that crummy
Mattress.
Before mortgages,
Bills, broken spirits,
And postponed dreams.

In that moment
It was all so simple,
Just you and me,
And our love.

That moment
In the mountains
When my mother
Was still alive
And my parents
Bought their new grandson
As many hot chocolates
As he could drink.

That moment of magic
When our lips touched
For the very first time
And I knew
Exactly where
I wanted to be.

That moment
Standing before you
With the ring
In my hand,
Everything clear
As a fairy tale
Ending,
With no worries
As to what comes after
“Happily ever after.”

All I want
For Christmas
Is a moment.

12/20/18

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Do You Remember?

For Justine

Do you remember
When we went camping
With Smokey and the Bandit,
Johnny and June,
And that cat
That came with the cabin?

It was almost your birthday.
You were wearing my dog tags
And a smile
That just wouldn’t quit.

There was something
In the way you smiled
That calmed
A turbulent soul
And promised salvation
From the night.

Do you remember
That November trip
To the coast,
Tristyn running
And laughing on the beach,
Santa Clause,
And our first
Family portrait?

Do you remember
Arlo and Alice’s Restaurant,
How his song
About the soldiers
Made you cry?

Do you remember
The night before
Our wedding
When I got so drunk
That Tony had to
Practically
Carry me home
While you
Staid with your sisters
At the hotel
Because the Groom
Can’t see the Bride
Before she walks
Down the aisle?

Do you remember
Our wedding day
By the pond
Where we fished
So often?

I was so nervous
Your father
Had to teach me
How to breathe again.

He walked you
Down the aisle,
Your arm in his,
His hand grasping
A walking stick.

I don’t remember
Ever seeing
A more radiant bride,
Grin glowing like
A thousand supernovas
Against a dozen
Velvet black holes.

There was something
In the way you moved
In that snow-white dress
With the rose-red embroidery,
I knew I would never
Need another,
And we’d never again
Be alone.

11/2/18

Hate and Love (Translation of Catullus 85)

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Gaius Valerius Catullus

The following poem is a translation of a poem written in Latin by the ancient Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 – ca. 54 BCE). The poem was originally untitled, but is commonly referred to as Catullus 85. I was looking for a good translation of this poem for Go Dog Go Cafe‘s current National/Global Poetry Writing Month festivities, but wasn’t able to find one I was fully satisfied with, so I translated it myself and was rather pleased with how it turned out.

The original Latin text reads:

ōdī et amō. quārē id faciam, fortasse requīris.
nescio, sed fierī sentiō et excrucior.

This is my translation:

And while I hate, I love.
You might ask why I do this.
I don’t know,
But I feel it
And I am tormented.

My eleventh poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

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This translation was originally posted on the Go Dog Go Cafe

Kaddish for Karen Leys (1952-2018)

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Its so strange to think
That you’re not there
In that little house on Salem Avenue
Sitting on the couch
Quietly reading fantasy novels on your Kindle
While Dad watches NCIS,
As if you’d always been there
And always would,
While I sit here across the mountains
Hunched over a notebook
Writing til my hand cramps
Trying to make sense of it all.

Continue reading

The Lovin’ in Vain Blues

 

What do you do
When all your love’s in vain?
Tell me, what do you do
When all your love’s in vain?

Mama, please tell me
How do you deal with the pain?

It’ll smother your heart
’til you can’t hardly stand,
It’ll smother your heart, Mama,
‘Til you can’t hardly stand

And all you ever wanted
Was someone to hold your hand.

There ain’t nothing worse than a woman
Who just wants to be your friend,
I say, there ain’t nothing worse than a woman
Who just wants to be your friend

I tell ya, brother, its just the beginning,
The beginning of the end.

The end of your loving,
And the beginning of your pain
Brother, its the end of your loving,
And the beginning of your pain

But that’s just the way it is
When all your love’s in vain.

27 April 1995

Inspired by Robert Johnson‘s song Love in Vain

Margaret (Dream #4)

I’m sorry, Margaret
I didn’t mean to hurt you.
I just did what I thought was right
But some things are more important than virtue.

It didn’t really click
Until I saw that look in your eye
The look you thought you could hide from me
As you gathered up my books and tried not to cry.

This wasn’t some strange lustful urge,
Or some mad irrational whim,
This must’ve really been important to you
If it meant going out on such a limb.

And in trying to protect our honor
I hurt a very good friend,
By trying to be virtuous I forgot
That love is all that matters in the end.

1 December 1993 / San Antonio, TX

Broken Hearts

We are the broken men
We hold our broken hearts,
We are the stupid men
Chasing those stupid tarts.

See the hollow man
With his hollow soul
Gazing at the dawn
Wishing to be whole.

See the golden angel
With her golden hair
Wondering what broke him
If there’s any hope of repair

See the golden light
Reflected from golden wings
The source of salvation
Of which the singer sings

See those stupid men,
Moaning dirge-like tunes
Crying, rubbing salt
In their self-inflicted wounds.

These are the broken men
Clutching their broken hearts,
Trapped in the plays they wrote
Dutifully playing their broken parts.

1991/2017

I wrote the bulk of this during my senior year in high school, around 26 years ago, influenced more than a little by T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men. I ran across it today in a box full of old poetry, edited it, and added to it.

Our Wedding Song

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Tongue tied and stuttering
Looking for the words to say
To tell how much I love you
Gotta keep from spitting up cliches

You opened a door, shone a light
And made my life complete
No more lonely nights spent
Wandering like a hobo in the street

I was a man of constant sorrow
Knowin’ nothing but trouble all my days
Now reborn like a flower
Touched by the spring sun rays

I followed my footsteps
Ramblin’ down a lost highway
’til your love found me at that truckstop
Finally giving me a reason to stay

The prospect, it chilled my soul
Can life really be this way?
All my years on the road
Love was just another way to betray

But you made me a father; gave me a son
Created a brand new family
The light you shown opened by eyes
Finally allowing me to see

With your love in my heart
And your pillow for my head
There’s really nothing left to fear
For the past is truly dead

March 2009

This was written for and performed at my and my wife’s wedding reception on 18 July 2009.

Hurtful

The most hurtful phrase
In any language I know:
“We can still be friends.”

11-7-16

To Whom it May Concern

There has never been a time
When I did not love you
And there never will be a time
When I cease to do so

We have been through so much,
Together we’ve faced it all
Life and Death, Death and Life
Love and Hate, and Love again

We’ve survived the pain and the tears
And enjoyed the unquenchable laughter
When we are together
There is nothing we cannot do

Life is a circle, it has no end
Only infinite beginnings
And as long as there’s life, there’s hope
And as long as there’s Love, I have you.

5-9 November 1992