Tag Archives: marriage

Navigational Error

4 a.m. isn’t a good time
to walk through the door
when you are supposed to be
sleeping on the couch
where you’ve slept
for almost half your marriage
because the bed wasn’t big enough
for you after she decided
she wanted to sleep
with all your flaws
packed in between you.
And even though intimacy
is a fond memory without hope
of resurrection,
the hours-old memories
twisting in your body
won’t allow you to be believed
when you tell her you
got lost on the way home
from the midnight movie.








“Interior” by Edgar Degas, 1868-1869


He enters her dark room
like a ghost
illuminated by memories
woven into the fifty-year-old shirt
he’s wearing—
the one his father never gave him—
the one he acquisitioned
after a soul passed from this life
into ashes—
and for all he knows
his father wore
that soft blue polyester shirt
with the once-fashionable collar
to work and back home
or to gamble away a paycheck
at the track
or to visit his mother’s grave
or to pick out paint
for the bedroom of his youngest son
or to a hundred church picnics
or to a meeting
with other intellectuals
to discuss the impact of Vietnam—
and maybe once upon a time
his father was disrobed
by a woman who wasn’t his wife
and maybe the shirt remembers
how it feels
to be unbuttoned
by a passion that doesn’t exist
back home in the bedroom
where it hangs.








“Four Lane Road” by Edward Hopper, 1956

Double Feature

Friday, almost midnight—
a movie theater mass exodus
into the dim-lit parking lot.
Voices hurry toward sleep
while my keys jingle and unlock
my sleeping god of destinations.
But another movie plays out
in my rear-view mirror—
an un-young couple embrace their wish.
The long strap of her green purse
is a snake on top of her white Nissan—
his body pressed between hers
and his dark blue Honda Accord.
He holds her as if this night
is all they have, have ever had—
as if he’d give anything
to be with her, elsewhere, anywhere
except in the hereafter of two hours
spent in the only dark they could afford—
I imagine them holding hands
in the back row, leaning into a dream
that will never come true—
forgetting about the lives they’ve
stepped out on to be here—
why else would she be crying
if this wasn’t the last scene
in their clandestine romance?
Why else would he still be sitting
in his car long after she drove away?


A Public Place

A public place
is an unfortunate venue
to have the wind
knocked out of you—
to find yourself flattened
after your heart performs
the acrobatic shock and swell
of being caught off-guard
by your brush
with the-never-was
And he sees you
before you can locate
a restroom
or an emergency exit
so you make sure
the smile on your face
appears natural
and that the soul
you don’t believe you have
gives the impression
of being untortured
and maybe even lightweight—
and for the next 10 minutes
you’re on autopilot
watching his mouth move—
the one that kissed you
only once
because one of you
was already married—
and love is bad news
when it has nowhere to go
but into a private cage
now on display
for everyone to see—
and somehow it looks
like there was never
a rip or a tear between you.





“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, 1942

No Right

A man
and a woman
have no right
to fall
to feel
to fantasize
about each other
or about a life
their bedroom
even if the bed
they go home to
is empty
or on the floor
or otherwise
by heat
as long as
this man
and this woman
have somehow
the most
of themselves
to an incompatible
in the form
of a promise
that no one
wants to





Tug of War

you will be expected
to demonstrate
your genetic fortitude
while you get the work done
efficiently and well
and you will be expected
to laugh at the jokes
made by your father
at the expense
of your mother
when she’s not around
and you will do this
with an effort so great
it will appear effortless
and later on
you will be expected
to use the manners
you learned as a child
while you listen
to your mother rehash
the past forty years
of emotional neglect
which was worth it
she swears
because she got you
so you listen
with a detached disgust
that’s replaced your empathy
making sure the lines
in your furrowed brow
appear authentic
because you
are on the payroll
and your job
isn’t damage control
your job is
favorite child
and you’re going for golden
on two accounts.





On the Floor

The man
admires the woman
who is puckered up
in a tight black dress
slit up the thigh
standing at a flattering angle
in what appears to be
a bathroom so public
the trash can is overflowing–
but the man doesn’t care
about the brown
paper towels
and mascara stained tissues
on the floor
beside her 3 inch heel–
or that all of us can see her
under that confident facade–
he is taken
by her red lips
and her youth
which makes him feel
she might
have a need for him
his wife no longer feels–
so he types
his approval
in just one word.
No exclamation mark
to differentiate
his compliment
from his base desire
to crawl into that photo
and add her dress
to the pile on the floor.