The Leak

You used 30,000 gallons of water
the fat inspector says
There’s a leak on your side of the meter
and you’ll have to pay
So we call the P and Z Management
and they say it’s yours to pay
So we call in Meeester Plumber
to the tune of $120 per hour
and he roots around between the tree
trunk, the pipes and tosses up his hands
I need a chain saw he says
and we decide to wait so
the costs don’t bonk the wind
Then we call Irene, the Manager of P and Z.
Well she shows up all chuckles and assertive
yakking with us and her Blackberry
because she knows, yes she knows
Then it’s her A-1 Plumbers digging more holes
but they can’t get their hands on the damn pipe
so they drive off and come back with a chain saw
that they can’t quite get to work.
Now we need to talk to the City
Water people, only they won’t come back
unless we cut the tree down
and Irene is no where to be found.
4 P.M., two thin plumbers root around in the pouring rain
smoking cigarettes, talking on their cell phones
on the porch and setting up a bypass
This goes on until 8:40 P.M. plus
It’s dark and we have a PVC pipe hooked to
our hose outlet, the valve reversed and we
can’t go to the bathroom, thank you very much.
They leave a card and say call if you need
Yes we need all the blame slingers
and plumbers and Blackberry hooters
to get together with the home owners and deal
which in this case means
move the meter from between the tree roots.
Maybe next week after the holiday
after the plan is drafted, turned, accepted
fees administered, phone calls, egos
knee-jerking observed, responded to or not.
But for now we step past the PC pipe, the muddy hole
the cement chunks, the pieces of sawed wood
to the drive, the sun and the silence from everyone
We are tired, yet it seems like nothing compared
to so many problems in the World
It’s a bust compared to Darfur or Iraq
Yet here our neighbors drive, or walk by
and Irene we understand is going on vacation.
No nod nor call from anyone
in this wonder of spiritual theft, trickles
of faith, lost in byways, buffoonery
or a short circuit hooked to this pipe
beyond help, care or any roots at all.

I Shuddered at Such Beauty

“…the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.”

                                                  Richard Hugo

At Vesuvio in San Francisco
the red haired waitress
(I forget her name)
carried a tray of drinks along the upstairs balcony
where the sun blossomed
the afternoon windows
and through her dress
I saw the roundness
of her child.

Mike and Me

I meet him in the supermarket.
Janet, the cashier asks for my discount card.
Mike rants to her about Bob weighing himself
with two bags of groceries and I roll over laughing.
I check out and we get to yakking outside
Mike in yellow tee-shirt, short mustache, ball cap
and shorts talks about keeping the blood pressure down.
I say when I left the condo life the negativity
dropped and so did my heartbeat.

Mike runs his emphysema past me
his take on God, the revolution he expects
will take America, but it will start
over there, China maybe, the East.
How the doctor told him he had two years to live.
How he went home and threw out two cigarette cartons
and two quarts of tequila, just like that.
How he walks ten miles a day.

I tell him about the dog for sale
The joke about the guru who thought life was a banana
and Mike, a bricklayer in retirement
tells me his roommate can’t stop smoking
how he drinks; his veins just bulge with rage.
How the Jewish neighbor told him to throw
out the free range chicken broth, whatever that is
and only use sea salt for the boiled chicken.
How swimming in that ocean after work
cleans the chalky residue from the bricks.
off his arms, his skin.

We shake hands and I tell him I have ice
cream in the shopping bag and milk.
Mike says the supermarket folks keep him going.
He tells me he listed the five women who work
the supermarket as the most beautiful women in the world.
He puts his hands on his hips, sticks out his chest
and says several other women show their indignation.
They want to know why they aren’t on the list.
He gets a kick out of that.
I am about to tell him the joke about
infrequently as one word or two
but I forget the lines.

Mike and me stop talking for a minute or so
and gaze through an early morning rain
to the wide street beyond the parking lot.
Two men in the game running off a little hope
a kick, a laugh or two watching the day scoot on.

What of the Life You Supposed?

The moon comes up to remind
you of timeless journeys
giant leaps, promises of more
a screen door in Albuquerque
the motel porch in Kingman
shadows, endless voices
picnics on mountains with no names.
But the road doesn’t always smooth out
no matter the shocks on the limo
the view, the catch of the day.
Sometimes, you wonder where
Susan went, or Elmer.
You suppose he’s still at OTB
in Troy or Albany.
No qualms unless you
can’t get over yourself.
Life chugs along, a breath
at a time, and rolls over
the same bumps
you sometimes like to avoid
simply reflect upon or
go mad, tear up the lawn
get on the roof and bark
set the house on fire
or crack jokes on the phone
with an old friend who knows.
Three-nineteen A.M. snaps you awake
but you’re smart enough
to keep some change
pasted in the right side
of your brain and two cups
of coffee at dawn, a little silence.
Don’t want to talk
because soon, say thirty-eight
minutes or so, you’ll feel
life take hold and settle in.