Some Poems

Stuck on a Runway

Thunderheads loom over Dallas.

Stranded planes mill

like nervous, 100-ton cattle,

blood streaks across silver flanks.

185 strangers and I marinate

inside metal sausage as promises

of departure go unmet,

hours leak toward infinity.

Squatted on concrete,

civilization evaporates.

Soon the killing of the

stewardesses will begin.

Engine Block in Empty Lot

From long-gone Ford,

grey-metal V-8,

streaked with rust,

squats solid as

tackle anchoring

line of Detroit Lions.

Patch of black

testifes where oil

escaped worn engine,

reentered earth.

Shards of beer bottles

stud chained-off lot,

become emeralds when

fired by sun that

sneaks in,

thin as a crackhead,

over Third Street tenements.

Next door, poets prattle

of pain and pleasure

on Nuyorican stage,

never coming close to

sweet petroleum thunder

that once came pounding

from these dead pistons.

Me and My Answering Machine

Burst through door,

kick the cat,

hustle into bedroom

to your pulsing red kisses.

Know you care,

somebody cares, if it’s only

a bond salesman from Shearsons

or landlord ’cause I’m late

with the rent check again.

When I’m home, you step

between me and them,

grab intruders on third ring,

ask them with phony cheerfulness

to check in after the tone,

the tone that sounds

like an EMS truck hurtling along

on another terror mission.

Sometimes, though, you’re like

all these other slime buckets.

Can’t trust you to deliver

when I feel it slipping away.

When I’m looking for her call

after battling guys with razor

blades on their elbows,

when, below my cold blue bedroom,

it’s the midnight of howling

firetrucks and foraging crackheads

and bad dreams hammer

spikes through my eyes,

and the sheets are a sweaty shroud,

and your buttons aren’t glowing,

and your bell isn’t ringing,

and I’m doomed to be alone

through another empty New York night.

Schizophrenic

Two weeks before 14th birthday,

flowers that could be seen

dancing in her azure eyes

turned to base metal.

Soot enveloped her brain.

She took kitchen knife

to her paintings, canvas

peeling back onto itself like

pared apple skin. Four years,

23 paintings, dead in an hour.

These were paintings that

had made her mother, the painter,

and her father, the doctor,

sure she was destined

for the Art Institute and then

Whitney, Guggenheim, Castelli.

Her hair turned to straw.

Her eyes became the blank blue

that precedes videotape.

Specialists came, stared, whispered.

Fear tugged her mother to gin,

her father into arms of his nurse.

Thorazine mugs patients in

hospital, red-brick island

surrounded by muscular oaks.

In parking lot,

three black Mercedes

hunch on manicured gravel.

Blue-hatted drivers slouch through

Daily News as parents dispose of cakes,

flowers,

duty.