Landline

some friends were on their way over to the house.
a communique revealed they were running late,
so I gave them my landline phone number
in case they needed to get in touch.
i have had the number for thirty years, a teen
being acquiesced to when I desired my own phone number
in the ninth grade. a pinnacle of individual identity.

the phone rang tonight, rare in this era of cell towers and
invisible connection.
it must be a robocall, or so I thought

“hello sir, we’d like to ask you about the fishing habits of the household.”

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello

“yes, sir. I’m really here.”

i decided to turn the tables, and asked her about her fishing habits.
i had never had a grand experience pulling a fish from it’s natural habitat.
my father’s best friend was an avid fisherman, and those trips down the river
or to the far cove always seemed to get in the way of perfecting the pivot
at second base, or interrupting the most recent plea for a drum set.
she was so surprised that I had begun to inquire about her background, that she
immediately responded with a concise description of her involvement.
“i like to fish from the shore, not so much from a boat. but I’m still like a
little girl when I have to put the bait on the hook, or pulling the hook out of the fish.”

“why do you have to define that moment within the supposed weakness of femininity?
i’m petrified of putting a worm on a hook, much less scaling a dead animal. why don’t you say
‘scared, like a little boy?’ “

“you’re right…..
but I still have to do this survey……”

i responded by saying “you have sixty seconds”

she gets the answers her superiors are looking for in forty seven seconds.
“thank you sir, that was the best call I have ever had.”

I hang up the phone and wait for the sound of tires grinding
the last of the winter’s sand in a slow stop
before the driver puts the vehicle into park.

Powers of Observation

not plain to the eye as far as you or I can see
but plainly free to be seen
by eyes keen of the hawk
across the field and up the
tree

perception has levels, we quickly conclude
proudly
and out of thin air
deducing

and upon the virtues of specialization
a tangent is unwittingly
embraced
and so forth into
the complexities
we only think we understand
but really don’t

his body bobs smoothly as the branch
of the tree waivers just so
on a breeze implied
but his gaze is fixed

we agree upon a rodent at first, then address specificity
surmising from the grass
dangling from a talon
a mouse

and that’s when, like a reflex, from the tree he dropped
a flash of wings and
his broad tail fanning
out

there was a moment when we were
both aware of
each other’s gasp &
the breath held as the suspense
played out

then back to the perch in a bound
settling in and smoothing feathers before
with three quick snips
consuming our
confirmation

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Groundhog Capability

GROUNDHOG CAPABILITY

a female groundhog
has been living under the antiquated
outhouse
behind our home for 14 years.
just before Father’s Day,
a new litter appears in the backyard-
harmlessly
gnawing on fescue
and other overgrowth in the meadow that borders
the woodland, at the edge of our property.

at the end of the day, which I
always look forward to – hops in hand
with water flowing into the beds –
one of the new litter suddenly scurries away from
the main garden in the center of the yard,
far from the safe borders where they can
feed on low hops shoots and jewel weed-
plentiful.

the gardens are a tribute to my step-father,
who eased the pressure of being responsible for a
group that welded nuclear submarines together
by growing plants from seed.
after my mother was widowed
from melanoma and that welding burn,
she eventually had to sell our home.
a season later I found the book that was his bible-
“A Garden for All Seasons”
published by Reader’s Digest, which I thought was appropriate,
as that was the only reading material in the waiting room
in the nursing home my mother worked at.
she had to drag us there before school
in the rapid aftermath of the divorce.

we have had successes
and failures
following
the copious and the conscientious
measures of our intention.
i read online that pouring
gasoline
into the groundhog hole would rid you of
the issue.
i was quite wary of the that option.

Indebted

INDEBTED

i committed a crime
i was arrested
i spent a night behind bars
i paid my dues to society

as part of the penalty, i was to engage
in 32 hours of community service,
otherwise known as the Alternative Incarceration Program.
we were due at the facility
by 8 am, and i taught myself, finally,
how to show up fifteen minutes early.

our assignment one day was to clean
the very offices that meted out our punishment.
a boy being raised by a single mom in the ‘70’s
often meant you were known as “the cleaning lady’s son”
this programmed moral code would haunt me
as much as the guilt of penance,
and it’s permanence.

“why don’t you start by vacuuming the carpets
on the second floor. the vacuum is in the utility closet.”

i find the utility closet easily enough,
and came upon three different vacuum cleaners.
i decided the blue one looked to be most of service,
the first of many mistakes on the day.
apparently, the criminals such as me had no idea
that a vacuum cleaner depended on filters,
and maintaining them.

i spend the next two hours using different
combinations of the three vacuum cleaners
to remove the inch thick debris buildup
from years of neglect.
i was unaware, completely out of my element,
in this alternative penitentiary, that cameras on closed circuit
recorded and broadcast my every move.

as I meticulously revived these machines of convenience
the entire staff of the AIC
was watching
with bated breath
the broadcast visual
of myself and my mother’s lessons on cleanliness
“do it right, Richie!”
an echo more imprisoning than my impetuous sentence

Next Generation

NEXT GENERATION

was that photo
that was posted,
was it meant for me? an unconventional pose?
was that your motor vehicle
slightly ahead of mine? a crisscross of happenstance
which dictates direction. and i will be the recluse, a distance
of reluctance- images of new work presently
reveal the content of our periphery

there is no next generation,
standing amid hot tar and concrete-
supplicating their will, confiscating the perilous
borders of creation.
i can remember a time,
without introspection,
waiting until children
were asleep to access the information
that would allow a peek into the new world.

a succession of unforseen events
coincides within this vortex, a correlation to
our own collective. on both sides, now.

they are creating a coalition
a singing chorus of scintillation
“this is exactly how it was!” I would shout
over the voluminous sound.
seas
will
rise
and the cacophony of totality can
reclaim the night, if only for that one, brief, moment.
it was simply a repetition of the cycle. the firehouse that is now
a residence. the vacant lot that once housed
ideas without recalcitrant demands.
this user is private.
and the succession of continuity is delineated
along tribal lines, which never existed as a barrier
in the good old days.

no one knows what became of the money raised
from the benefit
no one thought
about the import of the imprint.
we have come to the endgame,
a recess beyond impact.
i threw the key to the armory
over the riverbank.

Ricochet Silhouette

RICOCHET SILHOUETTE

the conscientious coptic
speaks in symbols hidden
within decades of deception,
and the conscription of common sense
reflects a ribbon threading
itself into the context of our continuity.

the belief in a specific orthodoxy
resonates within the fuel of fissures, patience
as permanence, a ricochet silhouette.
our enterprise has morphed into a myopic
cohesion, the elegance of opportunity

a period of waiting for the sea
charged the casual observation, which concludes a forged chapter
within the point of completion, a moment which
required a simple, returned phone call.
the chaplain who confirmed for one and all
may not claim a conclusion on his own terms.
and yet this conveyance of civility would mark the compulsion
of every conflict that began to separate us
from the possible.

we have experienced the peripheral inception
the responsibility of a reciprocal evolution
encompassing an exact calculation.
each moment which parses a perpetual conversion,
becomes a perplexing situation –
a conscious decision- to contemplate
the correction of an inherent influence.

there are exactly 17 paces between the two points
of recollection and it’s final cancellation,
a follicle of temporal permanence reveals the reaches of grace,
a gradual acceptance of consequence.
each pillar that once was meant
to carry the weight of a voluntary subscription,
surreptitiously crafting an extreme position
a most trepidatious transition

a precious antiquity provides the primary motivation
it’s defiance the overriding trait which reveals
a constant barrage, the tire squelch, the sequence
of events beyond our control, individual lyricism
being sacrificed for the whole.

a mirrored dichotomy perplexes the state
of our affairs. are the accomplishments their own courant?
it’s insouciant contraband, it’s gregarious panache
only interrupt the perilous balance

the bridge goes up
the bridge goes down,
our commencement of acceptance
belies the cardinal conventions
of all our belated berths,
within cascades casually reminding the
congregation of it’s exemplary restraint

if every intention was a precise
calibration
we’d find our own collection
concise upon reflection