True Love

Whenever Earl’s hapless love life
suffered a dry spell,
he found himself a willing wife
in a bourbon cocktail,
and if she ever gave him lip
he would give it in turn,
kissing her cool glass for a sip
to taste true love’s sweet burn.

Earl thought they were a perfect match,
at least for his own taste.
When sad he tossed her down the hatch,
fingers tight on her waist
while he wobbled a wayward dance
that filled him with drunk glee
as he spilled her down his good pants
and fell down, all dizzy.

It was a Mint Julep, his drink,
and some made fun of it,
but he never cared what drunks think—
he never cared a spit.
While other men drank Black Label
and the women drank beer,
Earl drank Mint Juleps, when able,
meanwhile having to hear
people mock him in the tavern
for his “lily liver”
each patron eager at a turn
to sing him downriver.

Their many nights out together
were always rough-and-tumble,
whether in fair or foul weather
he would often stumble,
and often he would come home late
with a black eye in pairs
from when his ice-and-sugar date
had thrown him down some stairs.

Still, no matter how rough and wild
each party and its fight
they were nonetheless reconciled,
sharing a bed at night—
a wet bed at night, all soaked through
as he cuddled her close,
sipping at her minty green dew
for a lullaby dose.

Throughout the years Earl’s love affair
with Mint Juleps was strong;
though he was mocked, he did not care
and drank it all day long.
You see, it was a favorite
of Francine, his late wife,
so he wanted to savor it
now and always in life,
for it reminded him of her,
of the first girl he kissed—
first kiss, first and only lover,
the girl he loved and missed.

Small Rhymes

Her grief was a church bell ringing
from deep within a forgotten lake,
the resonances silent, yet bringing
shivers to the surface with their wake.

Moon Pie
Split in half as if by pizza cutter,
the moon glazed yellow with garlic butter.

October Ghosts
Is that the glint of vigilant eyes
or the glistening dew upon the grass?
Beneath the moon-crowned October skies
I approach, I pause, I ponder, I pass.

It is an uncomfortable paradox
as I walk these busy city blocks
to think the city was made by Man
for Man, yet in its concrete span
there comes an alienation for us,
whether on a crowded tarmac bus
or in a dumpster-jumbled alleyway
of both trash and waifs, heaped where they lay,
or down by a lonely nighttime lamppost,
washed out in neon light, feeling as a ghost
in skyscrapers, with or without people,
or beneath the pigeon-plastered steeple
beside the graveyard, or by the park
where the burnt-out souls gather, dusk to dark,
or down in the rattling subway station
and at all levels of elevation—
by making a home for the human race
we have only made an inhuman place.