Wednesday, November 23, 2016

After Her Bath Time

She stank.
That's why I gave her a bath.
But after it was over,
I discovered the reason should've been
because I needed a laugh.

No sooner had her 2.5-year-old glistening self
emerged from the bubbly tub
than she started to giggle,
in stark contrast to the moans she emitted
upon hearing the news that she was about to be sans sauna.

When we got in her room,
she commenced a weak whimper
pleading, "no woof jammeez"
(which, being interpreted, means 
"do not place upon my body 
the gray and red plaid pajamas 
with the Scotty dog emblazoned 
over the stomach region").

In the stead of the canine footy jammies, 
she quickly suggested 
(shrugging her shoulders and eyebrows nonchalantly 
in a rapid transition of tone from the moment before) 
"'Go' jammeez." 
("Go" referring to the song "Let it Go" 
and by extension the sister princesses Anna and Elsa 
from a film whose title must not be named).

Fortunately for all parties involved 
(and anyone withing scream-shot 
going for their nightly neighborhood jaunt), 
some long-sleeve pink princess jammies 
were procured from the top dresser drawer, 
at which she emitted the most triumphant maniacal bellow 
I've ever heard from female toddler lungs - or, really, anyone's.

Before donning said jammies, though, 
she had to get lotioned up, 
which occasioned its own series of screams 
(odd, since a number of people pay for such
moistening and rubbing).

After lotioning and diapering, but before clothing,  
we had to have the obligatory, ritual tickle session, 
which produced a range of laughters in 15 seconds 
that far outstrips the possibilities presented 
in Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dykes' nigh encyclopedic recitation 
of the modus laugherandi.

Now in a good mood, she readily consented
to having her jammies on,
but when I tried to add some blue socks to the ensemble
to warm her feet, she freaked!
"Pink Socks! PINK!!!" she shrieked!
At which I sprang to the drawer once more
to find the footwear that would calm the beast
and force the horror that had reared its ugly head
back to its lair. 

She's clean now. 
And asleep. 
And not stinky. 
And I can't help but reflect on how
her mercuriality never ceases to amaze me.
I wonder how we'll survive till she's 13
and then beyond.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

To Get this Girl to Fall Asleep

To get this girl to fall asleep -
this toddler always anxious for adventure -
I have to enter the dream-world with her.

Mostly, I lay down by her side
and intentionally breathe slowly,
pretending to be asleep
to lull her there herself
(though sometimes I get caught in my own snare).

But if I never nod off 
then slowly stand to sneak away,
she detects me
and cries.

I think it's not so much that her physical self
senses my departure
but more that her dream self
knows she never saw me.

So I must lay down again,
and this time, so she can rest assured,
she hooks my head with her arm
and presses her nose up against mine
till the tempting tendrils of sleep
creep around me, pinning me with her,
allowing my mind to enter her dream.

We must play some dream-game together
long enough for her to then drift away
on her own independent spree,
leaving me,
if I have the will,
to stand and shuffle to my own bed,
knowing that,
at approximately 2:36 am,
I will be back
at her beck and wail
to get some dream-ball
off some dream-shelf,
hoping that her leg - now on her pillow -
doesn't mistakenly punt my face.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Brushing My Teeth

As romantic or existential as it would be,
and as I imagine myself to be,
I don't often gaze up at stars.

I don't wonder or wish upon them,
any of them,
as Jiminy Cricket has advised us.


But I do do something I contest is akin:

Many nights, as I impatiently wait
for the two-minute sentence from my dentist
to end,
I exit the bathroom,
electric toothbrush in mouth,
and meander to the living room
to survey through the picture window
my dominion
and the neighboring fiefdoms
all in silent nocturnal alliance -
not wishing upon them, per se,
but hoping good things will maintain.

And as I lean on the couch
reaching for my molars,
I reflect on how I'm also not taking
Alanis Morissette's advice,

and I wonder if anyone actually does.
Wouldn't that be ironic.
Don't you think?

(Or would it?)

Sensing the second minute is at an end
and hoping to avoid that frothy, foamy, rabid mouth of bubbles,
I hasten back to the sink and think
perhaps I ought to follow
Michael Jackson's example
in the remaining time.

But the toothbrush finally sings its dilatory ditty,
and I realize I can't face myself,
discovering I've forgotten,
for the 37th day in a row,
to floss
(preferring to floss before, not after, I brush).

So, I turn off the light
and go to bed,
telling myself that perhaps tomorrow
I will follow the wishes
of these stars.

at least some of them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I'm surprised at how often people copy
and paste

and then go back to delete what they copied

rather than just

cutting it
(thus copying and deleting it at the same time)

and then pasting it

to save time.

Is there some technology-trust issue here,
knowing that if the robots will eventually rebel
(as is so aptly depicted in so many tales),
surely they must be out to get our
resumes, recipes, essays, and emails
in a humble prelude to world domination?

Or perhaps this practice is proof that
the infant's confusion about object permanence
persists even in adolescents
(digital natives though they be)
and on to bewildered adults
squinting askance at keys and screen?

Or is it the afterlife we're concerned about?
Unsure about our continuation
in a different part of this cosmically documented story
after our ultimate deletion,
we sloppily copy and paste ourselves on as many
photo albums, headstones, lives,
label-makered miscellany,
(and even libraries or LLCs)
as possible before being
just to make sure we're not accidentally lost forever
if somehow
the code or the keys fail
and we're left half-beamed-up,
a pleiotaxy of pixels
floating forever betwixt our home planet
and some eternal Enterprise,
Scotty lamenting
"I cannae change the laws of physics!"
as he hits, over and over,

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Fireflies

The fireflies ascend
and flash together,
by some magical
yet natural

Setting the undersides of trees
and tips of grass
and random spheres of space
with a soft green-yellow fire.

We catch them
not with nets
but with gently placed palms
beneath wherever they are hovering,
gently raising our hands
till they land and say,
"Oh, okay. I'll take a rest, then."

And we feel the pulse,
the urge to shine in time
with a rhythm we cannot fathom
and a synchronicity we can't explain,
as shocks of lighting pass through us -

conductors, resistors, transformers
on an endless circuit -
axons, synapses dendrites
in an infinite mind -
atria, ventricles, aorta
within a many-chambered heart,

keeping our feet grounded
while lost in thought,
defibrillated into feeling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Child Consent Form

we post pictures of our kids
on social media
in awkward moments and weird poses
narrating their eccentricities
without acquiring any sort of
child consent form
or including an eventual avenue
for them to erase forever
whatever content they don't approve of.

karma thus dictates
that one day when we are drooling all over ourselves
and have larger diapers of our own to be changed,
recompense will come
as they post videos of us rambling on about
Ace of Base,
Super Nintendo,
or pogs,
our faces dumbstruck in just as much awe and confusion
about the technology in their hands
as they had about the ones in ours.

Though I guess it's more likely
the camera will be in their eyes,
and the memory storage behind the ear lobe,
the microphone on a cheek -
giving a whole new meaning to

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Secret Weapon

There's a secret weapon
I keep stored in a special

The launch code is 4 patterned numbers
followed by accessing a few colored icons.

When it takes off
through the headphone's wires
and bounces on my ear drums,
it's as
Popeye's spinach
Hulk's anger,
giving me the strength
to push through almost any task,
even grading 163 research papers
draining two flooded email inboxes.

The enemy in this not-so-cold arms race
gets a leg up,
whenever my boredom and distractedness
form alliances
with the internet or bits of string
to make one frighteningly formidable foe.

The only flaw in this daily face-off
emerges when I become
so enamored by the riffs and lyrics
of every Weezer album*
played in discographical order
that I drift
into a fascination that plummets
my work ethic down via the vehicle
that was supposed to lift it up.

A strange love** this is
in which my unbridled love
for an otherwise savior
destroys me.

*To experience a smattering of Weezer's deliciousness, check out these and other tunes:

**To experience a bit of this reference to the 1964 film "Dr. Strangelove," check out this clip of the major riding the bomb in an attempt to save the world, ultimately leading to mass destruction. (I'd also highly recommend the entire movie.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Star Wars Bed-time Story

Since middle school,
whenever I've had trouble sleeping,
I've watched Star Wars.
Not that it's boring -
quite the contrary.

I've attentively viewed it
countless times - 
memorizing every line,
investigating every character,
researching every ship.

It's to the point now
where Star Wars is less of a movie
and more of a familiar bedtime story
that Uncle George tells me
whenever I have trouble sleeping.

I get so absorbed in the story so quickly,
forgetting my sickness or worries,
that I'm down for the count
before Darth Vader's been able 
to lift, strangle, and toss
Captain Antilles to the floor
of the Tantive IV, Leia's Corellian Corvette.

The volume doesn't need to be up
and I don't need to watch the screen;
I can see and hear it all in my mind,
keeping pace based on certain cues:
blasts, roars, John Williams' score.

And even after using this trick
for over 15 years
the efficacy hasn't faded, 
though if I have several rough nights in a row,
I'll go from A New Hope, to Empire, to Jedi.

I can't express how much this means
to have, when life gets too low and mean,
a ready and reliable dream
so universal and personal and
it convinces me I must be

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Donut Lady

There's a new donut shop in town,
so we gave it a try
and loved it.
Great donuts,
kind service,
home-towny feel.

An additional bonus
keeps bringing me back:
Whenever it's my turn
to bring a treat for the English department,
I stop by to get a dozen,
and she always throws in
two or three extra.

Maybe the cost is already figured into the fee,
and maybe it's just a marketing ploy
in which I am not really getting
something for nothing,
but that's okay;
I understand that I am getting something for something - 
I'm getting treated well for loyalty,
not the fake kind that's
leveraged out of those "loyalty" cards,
but the loyalty that comes from
feeling loved
and then loving in return
without cards to stamp or scan to keep score.

Yes, I love this donut lady,
and I truly believe she loves me,
and not just because she gives me donuts,
and not, for her part,
just because I keep buying donuts,
but because we've decided
to treat each other with 
consistent kindness,
and what is love
if not the perpetual decisions
to do just that?

In that spirit,
with each visit
we renew our vows of
"Is that all for you today?"
"Yep - thanks"
under the neon sign of this bakery-chapel,
witnesses lined up behind me.
Then the cash register solemnizes the ceremony
and we exchange those doughy rings,
sprinkles like diamonds strewn across the glaze.
I internalize the eternal symbolism of this circle
one bite at a time
demonstrating my finite steps along our forever journey,
finishing off the last bite with consummate satisfaction.

Monday, February 22, 2016

NPR Filler Music

Where do these interludes
interspersed between such intellectual intercourse
come from?

Not the actual album songs they play
for some meaningful or ironic connection to a story;
I mean the random, untitled stuff.

Is there an official NPR music man

(mute - I imagine him,
letting everything out he can't say
in his music)
who conceives of all these artisanal arrangements
and then layers recordings of himself 
in his one-man-band studio?

Or is there an eponymous NPR band
of taciturn proto-├╝ber hipsters,
vowing silence for the art's sake,
with idiosyncratic clothing 
carefully cultivated coiffures
typifying their auditory taste
for eclectic mixes of styles and instrumentation?

Can you imagine him

or them
going on tour:

the concert posters,
the confused yet enthused radio personality promoters,
the attendees?

The posh pits.

(For a taste of the music to which I'm referring, 
go to 4:24 at this link.)

Monday, February 15, 2016


My family doesn't just
eat cake;
we conduct a ritual
that is simultaneously highly
and also

After the celebration,
the leftover cake is lovingly placed
on the altar of the counter.

As each supplicant approaches,
he or she raises the ceremonial butter knife
and carefully calculates the quotient
of the remaining cake
divided by the individual's current hunger
(or sweet tooth),
factoring in the number of worshipers
likely to visit the baked mound
before the demon of Stale
steals the moistness away,
which requires a cleansing wash
of the offering
in a bowl of milk.

As this rite is performed
by each family member
multiple times,
the divine mystery of Zeno's paradox*
seems to come to fulfillment
as a seemingly infinite number of halves
are cajoled out of this finite cake,
no one being willing
to be that jerk
who takes
the last bite.

*Zeno's Paradox:

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Amazon Wish List

source here

Clicks on the mouse and keyboard
are all it takes to populate
the Amazon wish list
and see those beauties arrive
at the doorstep on time
either at gift-receiving seasons
when the harvests of said times
are insufficient to satiate
the professional consumer within.

This ease and convenience prompts me to attempt
to populate my less selfish wish list
with a few more

I imagine searching for sellers
of some key items for my kids:
a strong work ethic,
a solid sense of family and identity,
a positive, helpful attitude,
an enduring testimony of and quest for truth.

And I wish I could see the
delivery date,
and product quality
of said items.

I try to calculate the cost
as I imagine clicking on my cart and checking out.

My payments are installments,
often overdue and in the wrong denomination,
the only common denominator
being a hearty yet ultimately lackluster
attempt on my part
to model such traits.

I see signs of pending delivery
but am still waiting for
the tell-tale brown truck,
the sharp, short crunch of that smug, smarmy box,
the slippery snap of the bubble wrap.

It's not as easy as rubbing a lamp or
looking longingly at Venus after sunset,
pretending, with Jiminy Cricket, that it's a star.

This must be an amazon I must trail blaze
on foot
not phalange.