The Stink

The sewer’s backed up again
there’s a pond in the dirt road out the front door
septic days and hectic dreams at night
the books are still piled on the floor
I never built a bookcase

just waiting for the doctors to open
so we can get in the car and make the rounds
holding Natalia’s hand

god how I’ve come to hate that scowl on her face
hoping for some heavenly pill or ointment
some magical handwriting on a little piece of paper
the pharmacists roll their eyes
the sick carry a stink with them

do not cling to anything in this world

Nearly Empty

I’ve heard it said that sleep is death’s brother
but I say it is paradise
even the bad dreams are good
I’ve begun smoking in the house again
it’s getting cold outside and anyway nothing matters
the refrigerator pulses and grinds like it’s got emphysema
it’s nearly empty
I wander the living room looking for peace in every corner
only find spiders and dust
Natalia wanders out of the bedroom in those ugly slippers
I can feel her staring at my back
I can feel her hating me
she doesn’t say a word
just whimpers in her pain
that is now my pain
because that’s what it’s like to be awake

Heal Thyself

Natalia curled in bed crying for days for months
no doctor has the answer
the responsibility the guilt the blame
but think how she feels
I tell her it’s menopause but she doesn’t like that
I haven’t said anything right in a year
or done anything right either
heal thyself
this too shall pass
yeah sure buddy
circles under my eyes dark as rat shit
don’t even think about touching her
just watch the young girls walking to school
from the filthy window


Trying to sip coffee as quietly as possible
so as not to disturb Natalia
maybe she’ll wake up better today
maybe a dream will come true
maybe the cats will stop tearing up the flowers and pissing on the door
maybe the dog will grow wings
and fly fast enough to burn the ticks from his eyes
maybe a new doctor will come to town
in a swank limousine
maybe the Devil will go to therapy
maybe the smoke will blow away and the sea will calm down
maybe the fish will come back
maybe I’ll find a treasure chest in the yard
maybe the water will become drinkable
maybe the mango tree will stop wilting and stand up like Rumpelstiltskin
maybe the bugs and worms will stop eating its roots
maybe she’ll smile again

The Same Old Song

Natalia keeps telling me the same stories over and over
I say, Yes, you told me that
she says, Oh I did?
then just keeps on telling me
her head’s in the clouds
it breaks my heart
she thinks she’s dying
she is of course
so am I

Natalia keeps telling me the same stories over and over
you told me this yesterday, I say
Oh ok, she says, just let me finish

It hurts, she says, it hurts
over and over every day the same story
13 doctors in 6 months
she tells them all the same story
and they tell her the same story
they can’t help her
tests are clean
maybe she should talk to somebody
(they mean a shrink)

It’s the same story over and over Natalia’s telling me
the story of humanity of the pain of being alive
of dying a little more each day
the story of pain the story of ghosts the story of memory
the story of fear

I nod my head up and down
over and over
but I don’t listen anymore I can’t listen anymore
she even mutters the same stories in her sleep

I am a bad person I know
I tell myself every day

I sit up late at night and play my old favorite songs
over and over