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Category Archives: Poetry

“It gets better.”


Let me tell you this – it doesn’t automatically get better.

The world is divided into the bullies and the bullied.

And if you were bullied, you are quite likely being bullied now, and may always be bullied, and may think that’s the way it is, and not know the way it could be.

And if those rat bastards who bullied you then are still alive today, it was never better for them, and probably never will be, because

they were likely bullied at home, and took it out on you.

(And if you are now, or ever were, a bully, stop reading. This is not for you. Fuck you. I remember you.)

So that’s out of the way.

Let me tell you this – let me tell you what happens.

The people who love you will die.

The people who say they love you will lie.

You can be replaced, and will be someday.

The government doesn’t care about you.

The universe is one big bully sometimes, believe it.

You have to decide what and who is true,

and what true is to you.

Watch out for love

Watch out for the ones who throw the word at you like a game of dodgeball

until they smash you to the ground, and walk away.

Love doesn’t come with a blue ribbon you pin on your sweater, and parade it around, until it’s time to take it off and put it in a box.

It is absorbed through the skin, stealthily entering your blood, pulsing through your veins, and re-inventing your cells.

Love changes you, for better or worse.

Though it doesn’t get better in the blink of an eye, you might get these once in a while…

Swimming pool days, windy beach nights, parties where everyone ends up in the kitchen, parties that turn into dances, loud restaurants with singing and toasts, and first, and second, and never ending kisses….

And friends who love you, and who you love so deeply, that you don’t ever have to hear the words.

These are the pictures that no one can burn.

Let me tell you what it does get.

It gets harder, and scarier, and more complicated, but when you keep learning what to do

And bob, and weave, and stay on your toes

You will outdo the bullies, every time.

And then it gets better, because you get better.


chewed up

spit out


danced with

danced on

bought and sold



cut up

bled dry


stitched up


still beating.




In trying so hard

to make you see me, only

walking away worked.

Secrets in a box….

Photos of smiling strangers,

letters from the hospital where Grandmother was kept locked, and Christmas pictures

of us all, with you closing your eyes to it all.

I could see the secrets in you,

The secrets, the secrets, the secrets

multiplied like cells, grew like dark rabid dogs traveling in a pack

You fed the secrets and kept them from me, and made them strong.

My one visit with Grandma wasn’t at a nice, warm, home with a fireplace and cookies baking;

It was sitting with you in a hospital with locked doors, and when they brought her in, and then went out,

they locked the door again behind us.

She didn’t know us, and had pictures of someone else’s grandchildren.

You took them away, and slapped down pictures of Steve and me.

The secrets howled in my ears that day, but I was too young to know how to kill them.

Same trip, same memory…

My half-sister was in another hospital, and not allowed to leave. We visited, she whispered,

and we went home.

You let that one out when someone else asked you –

That secret went off wild, shrieking into the night.

We went home, across the country, and no one ever spoke of it again.

And the secrets were growling, and the secrets were fed.

I listened to the silence, and I saw the questions,

raw, hanging in the air.

And the secrets gobbled the questions.

Later, Dad with his everyday beer – and we all had the key to that secret

and no one took it off the chain.

The secrets, the secrets, the secrets

built up,  bulked up, muscled, and stomped around, daring us to tell them

and kill them.

I was a problem to be corrected, by diet, exercise, church.

I starved myself at 14, a prisoner of my own secrets.

And church, where I was offered up for your guilt

and went to Mass afterward, where I bathed  in your guilt as if it were my own.

The secrets, the secrets, the secrets,

sat at my feet while I said the words and crossed myself, and licked at my wrists when I splashed on the holy water.

Mother, I remember.

I remember you singing in the dark,

and screaming down the hall.

Your secrets died with you –

and I am now the host

to the ghosts.


Walking through another hot, noisy party, together

through the furious dancers, through the heat and noise and music,

(wait, I see it)… there’s a look, and a turn,

and again, another wet whisper in your ear

and this time we drop

and this time we shatter.

The high music pierces the room, and smoke strangles the air,

and the maniacal dancers menace

and the shards of us are trampled

by the careless

and the vicious.

Here’s what; take a look at yours

and know that you have filled it up,

that you have punched it for all it’s worth

and used it up with me.

There is no remittance, no exchanges, no returns, and no more promotions;

We will go on, until we don’t, but know

I’m not accepting any more pain from you.


She bled out years ago,

and yet, still walks around.

You ask her, and she answers, and the words are full of air.

There is no way to see through her, and yet

in one moment disguised as any other moment, she blinks

and you see her

before she knits herself together again.

And she walks around dressed in holes

and she walks around and plays with ghosts,

and she walks around, and her seams show,

And that’s the way this life of hers goes.

dad 2

I got the call at Mom’s at quarter after seven that night; it was the hospital:

“Your father has passed away.”

I’m not sure what is worse, being told

or having to tell.

Cancer had been eating my father

for months, and now it was done.

He was not supposed to die so soon – there was so much more to do.

My mother walked around for months like half of her body had been ripped from her,

and I went numb, like the body will from too much pain.

Tonight, I walked my dog, and thought about the man

who taught me how to spell before any teacher had a chance, how to color (“You want to stay in between the lines; look at my arm, the color is all there”)

how to shoot baskets, and how to play blackjack before I got out of grade school.

This was a dad who built a well in the front yard (no water, but it was pretty), and a tree house in the back yard.

This was a dad who would sit with me at the kitchen table, and go over the names of all of the sports teams in each state, so that I knew there were New York Mets, Jets, and Nets, just for starters;

This was also a dad who would take me to the movies on Saturdays, who showed me the best way to wash dishes  (I’m still working on that one, Dad), and  who I learned so much about,  after it was too late to talk to him about it all.

Since I can’t ask you about it all, Dad, there’s just this to say to you –

You were all right, Dad – you did all right by me.

To enter a realm of possibility
Where love could be more than parts from a catalog, still
A mystery, still a delicious bite of magic
And the universe expanded a little bit
Every time the bell was rung.

Let’s call it Deathbook –

life flashing before your eyes;

Bad hair and fashion.

bad hair2