Hanging Laundry

Hanging laundry on the line
like Ritchie Valens’ mother
when she heard on the radio his plane went down
and no survivors

Hanging laundry on the line
with Natalia in the sun
wearing her who-cares shorts
and sick-day shirt

Hanging laundry on the line
to be clean and dry
I’m hungover and face to face
with a grotesque irony

Hanging laundry on the line
the world is amazing
but is it good?

Hanging laundry on the line
tranquilizing ourselves with the trivial

Hanging laundry on the line
you can tell a woman is angry
by how she flips a sheet

Hanging laundry on the line
thinking about how somebody snuck into our yard one time
and stole all our clothespins
there are never enough clothespins
they’re always breaking
they don’t make them like they used to

Hanging laundry on the line
our private lives turned inside out

Hanging laundry on the line
shirts clinging by their arms
like tight-rope walkers
who slipped

Hanging laundry on the line
pant legs drunk and noodly
in the dusty wind

Hanging laundry on the line
Natalia has her method and I have mine
hers in perfect order
mine a mess

Hanging laundry on the line
When you gonna buy me a clothes drier?

Hanging laundry on the line
wondering how something as unlikely as all of this
could seem mundane

Hanging laundry on the line
tired actors
staring at our worn-out costumes

Hanging laundry on the line
at least we got a line and don’t have to drape it over the fence
like the neighbors

Hanging laundry on the line
Natalia’s socks are tiny

Hanging laundry on the line
thinking about Don Quixote’s armor
and his 3,000 pieces of nonsense

Hanging laundry on the line
how ridiculous it is
the nakedness of human kind

The Whale

A whale washed up onto the beach
it was all over the news
the people gathered around it
Natalia wanted to go down and see it
she doesn’t want to do much these days because of the sickness
hasn’t been out of bed in a week
nothing like a dead whale to motivate people
it was hard to find a parking place
we had to walk a little ways which was hard for Natalia
and when we got there holy shit you have never seen so many flies
the buzzing in our ears
it was a big stinking mess is what it was
nobody was going to eat that blubber
people were snapping photos
there was a camera crew from the local channel
it was dark-colored and the skin was like an old tractor tire
it had already started to lose its shape and kind of melted
into the sand of the beach
macabre and sad and gross and fascinating
we could not look away
it put things into perspective that big dead whale
and the power and immensity of the sea
all those years it lived out there in the water
it looked old but who knows maybe it was middle aged
someone said it was a female
there’s always someone who knows these things
even big beautiful whales get sick and die
probably got some young ones out there grieving somewhere
they say whales are intelligent so they probably have feelings
they might be out there right now looking at us
it will rot away and in a few months it will be nothing but bones
people will take the bones when they’re white and clean from the sun
and put them in their yards as ornaments
those big curved ribs and that magnificent head and jaw
that probably wouldn’t fit in our minivan
all we got is chicken bones in our yard
the ones the dog doesn’t eat
it was a good day
Natalia was pleased and smiling which made me happy
despite the stench of death
and that big messy truth laying there in front of us

No Fun Anymore

No magic incantation will help this
no medicine will smooth the wrinkles
no soap will clean the sheets
our old dog has stopped barking at motorcycles
he just lays there snapping at flies
never catches them
he’ll stop doing that too one day
the neighbors had a party last night
big booming circus music till 4:30 a.m.
young girls hooting and hollering
I went outside to tell them to shut up
but when I saw the young girls dancing
I just couldn’t
I put cotton in my ears and went back to bed
Natalia moaning in a nightmare
I didn’t bother to wake her
she’s been sick for so long one more nightmare
won’t make any difference
she was a young girl once
a young dancing girl once long ago
I swear on all that is good and beautiful she was