Daily Archives: March 22, 2018

Four Scenes From A Weekend

Revised from its initial publication in 2014.

Originally, this was three separate poems written over the years 1976-1980.  Found in my ancient archives from that period.

I was a kid then, a teenager, and my reach was often far greater than my grasp.  I had an essay and a whole theory about what I was trying to do with poetry that when I read it now (of COURSE I kept it!) makes me giggle and blush.  But I was aiming at something, something larger than the individual Poem, even back then.  

Didn’t have the life experience or the skill back then to make it work.  Not sure I do now either, of course, but I am far more clear on my small abilities and my large ambitions than I once was, so…let’s say I think it’s worth a try.


Overheard from a dusk-dimmed driveway:

“Basketball’s simple — 
you take the ball,
you dribble it,
then you 

Father, uncle or big brother speaking.
There was no second voice.
After that, the flat notes,
rhythm of rubber on asphalt.

Two worn men on the sidewalk ahead of me.

One says, “Every time I get my check
I try to hold on to the money.
They rob me at the bank
so I keep it all at home
but they rob me at home
but now I got them all fooled — 
I give all my money 
to the man behind the counter
at the liquor store.” 

His companion howls 
and slaps him
on his age-sloped back.

On the bus
another old man, taller than I
by a head and a half, lighter than I 
by a body and a half,

again and again,
“…had a big 
fat fat 
fat fat 
fat fat 
wife, seven kids, forty years, 
I’d know her face now I think
but not her name…”

By myself, in bed alone,
diving into sleep, into a prayer

that I never forget
the innumerable ways 
to get from one end of the court 
to the other;

that I never 
scorn a journey
for where it ends.

The Bank

Late last night I heard someone calling out in the street. 
Heard someone come down the stairs from the second floor.
Heard the door open, someone came inside,
and more people went upstairs than had come down.
There was talking and loud stomping for an hour,
then someone left quietly and I went to sleep

imagining backstory, drifting in and out of anger,
picturing someone hungry, someone thirsty,
someone done in by cold and impending snow,
someone done in by a longing to end a longing
by buying or selling themselves or their drug.
I kept myself awake far longer than I needed to
wondering and raging and reproaching myself 
for wondering and raging. It was no business
of mine beyond the nuisance of being roused
from two AM to three AM.  All the fear
and righteous thought I soaked in
for an hour after that

was a stale old problem I borrowed
from the bank of pain I keep
and owe and curse,
where I cannot seem
to close my account.