Bad Harvest – 2018

Pussy Riot/Want/Don’t/Want

I thought you were a catch phrase for the not tonightoh yes
tonight, but not two nights in a row!
of late middle age

how else to say it:

the thatched roofs are on fire
& the villagers have fled

except this woman
whom you left behind,

her skirt rising in flames,
wild heat,

a wreckage of K-Y and Oil of Olay

* * *

 O graying fraying housebound hive,
you’re not my  problem,

though I will admit

your spreading reflection in the hand held mirror
looks, this year,

don’t make me say it,

wiser –

if not for love or song,

* * *

Can a finger dip into honey
in late January?

Can red wine streamlike blood down my legs?

This afternoon, huddled against the cutting winter wind
in front of Boston’s State House,
we protested

Putin must go!

            Yanokovich is a cesspool!

while you, Prison punk prayer,
turn the world’s attention


I thought you were a catch phrase for the want-don’t want
of late middle age,

(oh pussy, what a riot, I had you all wrong)

Out of the Woods

Blood throbs against my uncle’s eardrums as Nazis prod him with rifle butts. His back grows wooden. When they leave, he opens his eyes. Hell will find him, take a match to his soul, blaze him into a human bonfire.  He works his swollen tongue into an oasis of melted snow, praying for rain.  Saved from the dead, grey mold of shallow graves, he turns over, lips quivering. No soldiers emerging from the woods. Someone is watching over me, each word, a rosary bead falling from his mouth.  Above him the blanched sky; but nowhere to be seen, the silver branches of the watchful tree.

Playing Opossum

My father carefully rolls his pant leg up, places his leg between two wide boards. He tells my mother to jump hard on it. Crippled, he won’t be drafted. They agree. Earlier, he had considered hiding under the living room’s wooden floor boards, but that would make him feel less of a man and more like an opossum, paralyzed, blind.  And weren’t they known for their short lives?  Hadn’t his friend Ihor, just the day before, avoided enlistment by drinking a vial of his wife’s blood, spewing it past his cup of urine? Could he, too, do it:  drive a truck, heave honey, blow grits, trade his rugged for ralph, blow on his thumb until he passed out?  No, he was no greenhead looking for blood meal. He had a wife, and they were in this together. She springs from their horsehair-filled couch, eyes closed tight, fingers plugging her ears; she lands with a thump. The leg doesn’t break. He rolls away from her, screaming, holds his hand up as if to strike the air. Hysterical, she sobs through his curses. Forgiving her slight body, he slowly closes his hand, lowers it over his heart.

Why I Hate Nudist Camps

 Jack had already flung off his t-shirt, pulled off his black Khakis to set up our tentI can work faster if I’m nakeda new weed in the wet and wild. Faster, maybe, but not better: he slammed things together, tangled ropes. He was angry because we arrived too late to camp near the others. Because our Ford Country Squire was stuck in mud. Because I didn’t bring the small shovel. Because that next morning he knew he’d have to get down on his knees, rake the mud away by hand instead of be cannon-balling naked off the lake dock.

But there we were: in a light rain, surrounded by a scourge of mosquitoes; our pup tent’s left hip sagging, missing a peg; the zip on, zip off flap—gone. I wanted to call it a day, a weekend, I’m done! and head back home to our Triple Decker on Mission Hill.

Whats the matter with you, Jack barked as he sprayed repellent on his skin, careful to avoid his penis. What he meant was: why was I still wearing clothes—jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, a t-shirt and a pair of sunglasses even though it was after five.

It wasn’t because I imagined a couple of skeeters flying too low, curious about the new sweet sweat scent. Or because I had told him Charlie’s here, and feared the absence of a tampon string would make me a liar. And certainly not because I’d feel inadequate or self conscious around the other “campers” at the Get Down Hoe Down, potbellies split with Caesarean scars, squash-shaped sagging breasts swaying joyfully, or that group sportin’ softies at the Mister Softie Machine. No, I didn’t give him the satisfaction. To hell, I thought.

The next evening, his chest slicked from dancing, he’d picked at his wrinkly steamed hot dog on his paper plate, looked out into the mob of flesh, and said this is where we belong.  That he’s not always going to look this good.

Babe, come on, he’d said, take off your blouseJust once get out of that busted radio of your mind always stuck on some high-strung wavelength. The kind that always ruined the party.

Busted radio... Okay Okay I said, slowly pulling off my t-shirt. Just enough skin to call it fixed.

He shook his head, you really need to build up your shoulders.