The Woman at The Bookstore

I’ve known her for centuries-
her dark glasses make rings around my youth.

Dark Hair,
Dark Eyes,
A winsome smile-

She is the light in my shadow.

“So you want to work here?”
Something burns in her eyes.

“Uh, Yeah,” I stammer.

She’s a clerk at a bookstore
in Harvard Square I frequented
as a youth.

Her dark hair,
she runs her fingers through it
as though grooming a secret.

She turns around in a flash
and hands me a piece of paper.

‘Her phone number? Could it be?’

“Please call Jake at …..”

then she turns away
and walks down the longest
hallway I’ve ever seen,
disappearing into files,
whispers, and other memories.

I wake up sagging,20121209_143347
knowing that she never was,
and the hallway she disappeared into
is the mouth of death.


My mother, my moon of peace.

She was a frightened bird
In her hospital gown.

My mother, the center of myself.

The words left her lips
Like a herd of startled deer.

Scattered, she spoke
Of a loose fear,
Of not being able to change her lifestyle.

My mother, my stillness at three a.m.

“I don’t think I can change,”
I pressed her hand,
Wishing it was me laying there

My mother, the invisible
Space between us
Leans toward the sun.
It always has.

“Thank God you are here,”
I said,. She thought she
Was having a heart attack.
It turns out she had blood
Clots sucking the life
Out of her lungs.

My mother,
The face of my youth,
At 74.

Fear swims through her body.
“I can’t do it. I can’t. It’s too much,”
She didn’t say that, but I heard it.

My mother,
My mirror smeared with love.

I left the room with trembling hands.
She couldn’t see that, but she held them until they became still.

The Unthinkable

Some decisions weren’t meant to be made.

The cessation of treatment for cancer
looms before me like a silent
waterfall of black water.

The writhing pain
of continuing
on this path is equally unthinkable.

I stand at the turning point,
seeking signs,
tapping into prayer,
staring at the sky.

Some decisions weren’t meant to be made.

How can I continue? How can I not continue?

The trumpets at the end of a great battle
lift into the air,
the scores of dead bodies
surrounding them
are wrapped in silent prayer.

I can almost hear those trumpets,
as I lumber across the battlefield
on my horse.

Out of the corner of my eye
I see a formless figure,
crying out among the slain.

It is made of a dimming light,
it’s limbs are sounds of great color.

It is my own spirit.

It is my own spirit.

Crying out: “No more.”

The Turn


I take a turn
around the Charles
into a lake of shadow.


I used to take that turn
in the middle of a seven mile run
I took every other night, years ago.


I was not a fast runner,
and the turn grew darker
as my heavy feet drew closer.


I now envisage
the turn as a
launch into the unknown.

That’s how dark it was at three a.m.

This is the turn which has grown with me, become part of me.
I take that turn every day now,
venturing into the dark of the unknowns of cancer.

I have become the turn.


This is the turn

That has grown with me,

Become part of me.


I take that turn every day now,

Venturing into the dark of the unknowns

Of cancer.


I have become the turn.


For Amy Craigen

Tin the loose grip of his father’s,
off to the park
to play catch.

The trust
of the trees,
believing in April’s
green promises.

The faithfulness
of the moon,
quietly behind a cloud.

The joy of the butterfly,
it’s life a celebration
of silent beauty.

This is Amy,
bringing me the peace of
of a sleepy ocean
with nothing
but her smile.