“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”—

Today’s evergreens smell like dead leaves,

the city sidewalks are wet with rain.

No snow (yet); in this December

today’s evergreens smell like dead leaves.

Holiday cookies are store-bought; hot Lipton tea is fragrant, but

no snow yet! In this December,

money is too tight for any gift-giving this season.

Holiday cookies are store-bought; hot Lipton tea is fragrant, but

our love still brews strong here.

Money is too tight for any gift-giving this season,

but our faces glow with happiness, because

our love still brews strong here.

The city’s sidewalks are wet with rain,

but our faces glow with happiness, because

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Dear God, 

please don’t let me throw up.

Rudy’s Uncle S is driving his mom’s CRV,

like Mario Andretti cruising down Henry Hudson Parkway.

“Please slow down,” I pleaded.

“We don’t have seatbelts in the back seat…”

Rudy’s mom is almost comatose;

she’s the navigator. And Aunt J

is hanging her head out of the car,

as if she was a 10-year-old girl in Haifa.

We don’t feel well. We ate too much—

Turkey, 4 kinds of salad, cranberry sauce,

green beans & mushrooms, rice & mushrooms,

pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, apple cake,

& a cake shaped like a dinosaur.  

A feast for the gods!

Rudy’s mom: “This may be the last 

Thanksgiving dinner I’ll make.”

She’s been saying this for years.

Now, she doesn’t want to cross Central Park alone.

But Uncle S still speeds on 5th Ave,

& Aunt J is still nauseated,

& Rudy sits in the middle,

trying not to create another argument.

I hold on, white-faced,

unto the seat for dear life—

hoping that this last great meal

will stay down.   

As we gather together during cool mornings,

the coffee percolates! 

The pumpkins outside still smile

with toothy grins. The kids sip hot apple cider; 

the coffee percolates.

Daddy scrubs the pans clean.

With toothy grins, the kids sip hot apple cider 

as Mom bakes pumpkin pies. 

Daddy scrubs the pans clean 

while ignoring all the Christmas ads & merchandise.

As Mom bakes pumpkin pies,

we say our daily prayers

while ignoring all the Christmas ads & merchandise.

The pumpkins outside still smile.

We say our daily prayers

as we gather together during cool mornings.

my brain buzzes like a mosquito;

bladder’s full of water

at 5 am—

just give me the weight of the heavens,

seeing the curvature of the Earth 

as my eyes close again—

the stars continue to wink

without provocation,

(but I don’t see them)

& light outside 

is a heavy aquamarine—

I try to reach for you

on the other side of the bed,

but you are already

under the ocean—

please let me sleep again.

radical thoughts of expiration 

are buzzing—quiet them all!

let’s inhale—exhale; 

swat them away

until everything shuts off

in the almost-waking world—

snoring deep again

sun peeks through 

the apartment buildings, 

I miss it 

until noon

a drone helicopter 

darts by the window—

or, was it a dream?

Before the leaves turn orange & gold,  

the full moon glowed silver. 

The night breezes blow cooler. 

I think about Death—  

The full moon glowed silver. 

I feel invincible!

I think about Death 

as I wear my disguise—

I feel invincible

when the black cats howl. 

As I wear my disguise,

all the flowers have disappeared! 

When the black cats howl, 

the night breezes blow cooler.  

All the flowers have disappeared 

before the leaves turn orange & gold. 

Even though I grew up

from 2 white collar working-class parents

and earned my Masters,

The dirt under my fingernails 

always stayed put,

even under the thickest Aqua lather—

The bars are now open

but they are empty,

even on a Friday afternoon.

The wasps are starting to wean

away from our summer-burned heads

hidden under the patio roof umbrella.

Fall is here, without its vibrant colors.

Subways are full of schoolchildren again. 

Favorite hoodies are worn in.

Gin and tonics never fail to work their magic;

the work refrigerator is now clean.

Welcome to another long weekend! 

Blooming onions never cease to amaze me,

even when there’s only crab cakes 

warming up the table.

“We’re at LIC!” the dude 

with a Guinness talks to his friend

on the phone at the bar.

George Michael sings 

“Freedom” on the radio. 

Soon, my dears,

we will all 

be free, to do 

what we want.

20 years

of everlasting loss 

& sadness

20 years

of families

destroyed forever

20 years

of particles floating

made from cancer-causing dust  

in Lower Manhattan

20 years

of PTSD reactions

from the actions

of that day

20 years

of pictures

of tower carnage

20 years

seeing the new gaping holes

where lights disappeared

20 years

we were still asking:

“Why the fuck did this happen?”

20 years

the broken pieces

slowly come together

20 years ago

I wasn’t here in the flesh,

but that day has affected all of us

the whole world over