The Night Squeak

here is what is known:

  • The squeak sounds tinny, electronic
  • As though it came from the bottom of this
  • deep historic stairwell
  • Only heard at night
  • It pings the depths in either a randomly-assigned, diabolically-complicated algorithm of beep-short silence-beep-long silence
  • As though Morse code and a squeaky sneaker had a love child
  • Love child, not exactly a fact, but I can see myself rising like a cartoon effigy of Scrooge, antiquated nightcap and tallow candle in hand and
  • Searching the building for you, squeaky electronic ghost
  • Is your battery loose?  Why do you emit these little beeps
  • So like a telemetry monitor only 
  • In this case the patient is 
  • Wide awake, thoroughly alarmed by what has to be broken-
  • Monitor or heart

Ordinary Seduction

By  some inexplicable quirk of middle-age

I see the couple clearly-

Silent in the breakfast nook except for

the clink of spoons on ceramic bowls 

a regular crunch of cereal

They two alone in a room filled with light

not meeting

the gaze of the other

Because of ordinary seduction,

The old-ass Latin kind,

Where there is no longer even the lingering whiff of sexual connotation 

Only the word itself in primal 

dark splendor-

Adrift, led astray, removed


Soldiers pointed down the wrong path 

or lovers lost at sea

Where the simplest accident of seduction

Could drive this tiny boat off course

In an endless and unforgiving 


3:03 am

if you were to ask me why

Am I up at 3 am

I would say it is because of:

The missing victims’ impact statements

The juvenile probation officer who said, “well, we can’t keep him forever”

(Like the rape of children ain’t no thang in the great state o’ Tejas)

The count prosecutor who proved wormholes in the fabric

Of the universe 

By simple recounting in court

The  drole one

About inadvertently possessing a marijuana tree

For awhile anyway, until his peace officer friends pointed out 

It’s general unferniness.

The municipal prosecutor they made up

To save themselves and not the little girl

Whose deliberately misplaced name still drives this mother-rage 

Against all the feckless adults who should have

Known better.

No band-aid love

these paper cuts

Crass bits of pain

Catch unaware the

fireflies and sparks rising through

Cloud gray skies

Recumbent dragons-rivery road-

rundown house unblinks as the

broken boy steps in front of 

The barreling  18-wheeler.

Call for the medic, the surgeon, 

the poet who can

Conjure words to turniquet this-

No band-aid love-

All wounds and piercing sorrow

You smooth out your own discarded flesh

A coat laid down at our muddied feet

Temporary tomb

Swaddle  the dead

Call gossamer gauze, 

shroud, or interstitial subatomic strings

Cast lots if you will

For his seamless


Chinese Handcuffs

you could think

They are just dollar store trinkets

Palm fronds woven across

A flat plane twisted three-dimensional 

Could be a rainbow or

The real periodic table

Or a map of the world 

In which somewhere there is

A factory full of 

Chinese handcuffs

Woven ropes braided through which create a binding

Tension through the center when

Pulled apart

Another name for divorce

Or a party trick

Or the object a scared man uses to explain things 

He doesn’t understand

Like Thomas Jefferson for instance–so hard to tie a knot

At the end of a rope

Harder still to be

The rope

Affixed with nails to the handle

Holding the world together–

No rope, no hope

Hold on tight

Of all the gin joints

Ok, one more question, she asks, gesturing toward the paired wooden markers by the wharf.

Casablanca?!. When did “Rinderhafen, Texas” become Casablanca?!

Oh…funny story about that. Just around the time of the big real estate bubble the city counsel was convinced (due in large part to a sudden proliferation of vacation home development from here to Tivoli) that we were on the cusp of a resurgence of the great tourism boom of the leisure train days.

Sooooo….they put their heads together and decided it was time to reshape the image of this little patch of undiscovered paradise.

In fact, “paradise” was a contender in the race for a new identity. Also at play were Portwein and Portofino.

There was also rumblings about a “Gulf of Mexico Rivera.”

We almost came to fisticuffs at a couple of counsel meetings.

In the end Casablanca got the votes. And no one had any gumption left to object when the major’s wife got the contract for the renaming campaign and all the signage commissions that went with it.

Good work, Home Girl

Well, that’s lunch, he said finally, with a look in his eye that suggested he was hungry for more than a grilled cheese sandwich.

She shook herself awake. Stammered a little, uh, yeh, can I treat you? I think I owe you–big.

No need, actually, I have a cooler in the truck. Why don’t we go down to the marina?

K. Sounds good.

She put Betsy Lee in her harness and Chris got the cooler and they walked down Orphanage to Main through Old Town right down to the slope of the sea.

She had forgotten how lovely the water could be–this was a fishing, not a tourist town, and the marina was deceptively photogenic–rich people from the big cities parked their boats there. There was a newly minted park with a pirates’ ship and cascading water feature. A fishing jetty, and a series of stone steps washed with the constant tide.

Oh my gosh, this is amazing, she exclaimed as he shared his cache of pulled pork sandwiches and peach cobbler.

You cook too?

Actually, yes. But this cobbler is mom’s.

Yum. How is your family?

He says nothing. She thinks he has missed the question. Finally he says,

Alright. Everybody doing their thing.

She assesses the way he says it. All the words string together to indicate normal, but his look suggests otherwise.

Safest to veer back to cobbler.

Your mom always could cook.

True…so whatcha gonna do with the house?

Good question. She says aloud. In her head she completes the thought–

I was gonna dump it for a dime and then beat the heck outta town, that was what I was gonna do…until you came along, Chris Graciano.

And then again out loud–I guess I will have to clean it up, sort it out, then see where I am with it.

I will be honest, every last piece of it feels exhausting.

I bet.

Years ago I went through a program of sorts. They were big into the “our daily bread” thing–just worry about today’s trouble. Gotta focus I that.

And what are today’s troubles? Food and water? Electricity?

She nods. Actually, I called about all of that. Should be on today or tomorrow. I just have to be at the house to verify the work orders.

Hm. Sounds like you got things covered. Good work, Home Girl.