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 

Firewood must be dead to ignite & burn.

Everything that is alive

(like anger, the fire must be fed so we’ll get warm)

will smoke up—

Everything that is alive,

our objects from the wilderness 

will smoke up;

they will not give us warmth at night.

Our objects from the wilderness 

[words] are too precious; please stay quiet & peaceful.

They will not give us warmth at night.

Please don’t gather up the green sticks!

Words are too precious; please stay quiet & peaceful.

Like anger, the fire must be fed so we’ll get warm—

Please don’t gather up the green sticks!

Firewood must be dead to ignite & burn.

This is how I remember August:

summer becomes “scorch,”

a mind-numbing, Sleepy Time

kind-of-hot. Whenever

Summer becomes scorch-

-ing hot, like an egg-frying-in-a-ceramic pan

kind-of-hot, whenever

flip-flops melt on the pavement, they’re blister

-ing hot, like an egg frying in a ceramic pan.

We go get Sonic fruit slushes, we have

flip-flops melt on the pavement, they blister

until the rains come.

We go get Sonic fruit slushes, we have

a mind-numbing, sleepy time

until the rains come.

This is how I remember August!

My head’s a Ziploc 

bag of water,

totally Zoomed online & out

from an Amtrak train

it’s plain to see

my mind’s not making

any new thoughts—

they swim away swiftly 

like hot tuna 

& my body’s wrapped up

in a black bathrobe,

200 lbs of new fatted flesh

& my legs are frozen 

from hours of traveling,

& I want to think 

new thoughts again

like I used to 

but here’s the Olympics!

they are all tan & toned

& incredible,

no frozen fat here

I wonder what they think about

before they compete 

for the gold?

I used to have golden thoughts 

& was thinner before 2020

(not blaming COVID, maybe

peri-menopause?)

we didn’t have sex

in the beautiful hotel room

(another damn period),

but I still felt golden

because I was exploring 

another place

with my love.

When the founding Fathers first envisioned 

Washington’s District of Columbia,

would they see the numerous 

crowds of believers & cheaters

swirl around different food trucks 

at the Washington Monument, 

with those enterprising vendors

of ice-cold drinks from makeshift 

Igloo coolers (only $1 each! they shout),

all those people crawl towards the Mall,

and the visitors who peek in 

to see Lincoln at his memorial at sunset,

they don’t respect the sanctity of 

the occasion; they are too loud,

their party voices spill out towards the stairs outside

each one feeling the whole heat outside

affecting their skin and bones, 

a mixture of flop sweat / hot flashes, they press on

this land of historical wonders

was built on swamp land; 

two unusual men who dove / rode the Potomac

into Virginia, those who fought

for their country resided, trained

and/or were laid down in Arlington,

& we, the visitors were watching it all as if it happened again—

Wednesday is not a great day for museums

we found too late; too late in the year

for pink cherry blossoms, these trees 

are too green in summer—summer is an intense season 

when everyone wants both your money & voting influence—

the colors of the Metro run true as the trains keep moving,

even when the cars are mostly empty on Wednesdays—

but Thursday is coming slowly, it’s still nighttime, 

the gin & tonic is doing its magic, the 4 versions 

of 2020 Olympics play on the massive TV, 

I try to write a poem on a bed finer

than the one I sleep upon at home—the vacay digs are nice, 

too nice compared to real life (but that’s the whole point), 

& history trickles in a peppy counterpoint—past & present 

bow & make an awkward dance, they keep us moving as our visit continued on.

Thursday was a wash before the afternoon rain;

both the Library of Congress 

and the United States Holocaust Museum 

denied us access; we did not sign up

for early entry, or any entry.

The movers and shakers of Capitol Hill

all eat at Le Bon French Cafe,

where we stopped for a few cold drinks.

Now, 

before we take over Georgetown tonight,

we drink our salves at the Delegate Bar, 

waiting for our room to be cleaned.

Georgetown has the tastiest pizza outside of Naples at il Canale. 

My soul almost levitated out of my body—my man’s 

fruits de mare fresh pasta dish made him speechless. 

Since the other lawyers at his firm think he’s kosher,

he can’t tell another soul, besides me,

of this temporary food nirvana.

I placed two slices in a to-go box at a trash receptacle, 

hoping that the beggars would discover it and feast, 

but a long-haired, grubby hipster who cleaned 

the same trash can with cloudy Baskin Robbins 31 flavored water, 

opened the pizza box and promptly threw the heavenly slices away, 

taking the box for recycling money.

Does he know, I wondered, what riches he was dumping out?

Friday: check-out day. 

Free breakfast still bland, even with a surprise apple turnover. 

We walk towards G street on 9th, for shits and giggles.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum can take us in! Yay!!!

Great art, good walking.

Still more hours until we get back home—