After it Rains Here

After it rains here:
The parking lots, the streets,
They smell even worse than before.
As if all the refuse and rot has been raised and exposed
By the water.

It reminds me of where I am.
I miss the smells of home.
Cooking my boy an omelet.
The smell of the coffee as I did so.
The smell of your hair on my pillows.
The rain would smell clean on the asphalt
As we woke up to each other
Or I would hear my daughter sighing in her half sleep.

But here the rain smells like congealed garbage.
The morning sun is an assault.
It rains here and then the sun returns to its relentlessness.
The sidewalks stink and the cars drive on,
The meth-heads awaken, oblivious to the smell.
I get out of my car, step out into this world
That is now my world.
No respite. A smell like vomit hits my nose.
I think about your back to mine in bed, your hair
Sleepy tendrils around you
As I turn to kiss the base of your skull.
My fingers twirling and twirling your wonderful hair.
I think about my son snoring a room away
And seeing the drool on my daughter’s pillow
(how can a little girl look so beautiful
With her mouth hanging open like that?
But she is.)

The beer sweats out of me.
I take out the keys, find the right one,
Turn it in the lock,
Begin another day
Without any of them.
They are here but they are not.
Another day begins,
The sun beating me like a slave
Who imagines his escape so vividly
It is imagined by the overseer.
I hear the click in the lock.
Another day
Without them.
I step into the door anyway.
I exist in this vacuum.
Already beaten just enough
To acquiesce.

The Coming Spring

Drunk, demented
I bite down on the fingernail
Of my right thumb
And pretend to contemplate
The coming Spring

The night is nearly dead

What I am really thinking about is you
And how the coming Spring
Means nothing to me

Living out the Winter of my discontent
On my own

Trying to remember every kiss
Between us

And forget every move
That led my here

As the glass empties

And the leaves come again
And come again

Until they
Do not

In My Cups

My son called me.
I was sitting on the toilet.
I was listening to Loudon Wainwright III.
I was nearly crying.
I was in my cups.

“What’s up, boy?”
“Hi, Daddy. Can you pick us up at 10?”
10?! I was thinking 10:30.
I was on my 2nd hour and already 6 beers in.
The room was moving all around me.
“OK, kid.”
I was already doing that terrible woman a favor.

I heard his mother’s hideous little hen screech in the background.
“Can you bring sandwiches?”
Sandwiches? I wouldn’t have bought this beer if I had to buy them lunch.
I don’t have rent much less lunch.
I shouldn’t have wasted the money on beer anyway.
“Sure,” I sighed. It’s mommy’s turn, but what the hell?

More hen clucking I couldn’t quite understand went on in the background. I stood up
And washed my hands, my shoulder holding the phone to my neck.
I wished it was only static.
“Daddy, can you take us to piano, too?”
Shit! I was planning on getting properly drunk:
18 beers, music and tears all alone,
The works.
“Sure, Johnny.”
Now waking up at 8:30 became 8
And now it’s 7.
Can I drink 18 beers by 11? No. Maybe 10 beers?
4 hours, 10 beers? Will I be drunk enough to forget what’s hammering me into submission?

“Sure, buddy, I’ll be there at 8:30.”
Did I have a choice?
“Thanks, daddy. I love you.”
“I love you, too. Tell Sara I love her.
Good night.”
“Bye, Daddy.”

I crack open another
And it makes that noise tumbling into the glass.
I better get crackin’.
I set the alarm,
Turn up the music
And the cat purrs in unabashed pleasure in my lap
As the beer sluices down my throat
And I reluctantly type 7:00 A.M.
Into the alarm,
Thinking about whether I should open
Another can,
Already knowing I will.

The music plays,
I stumble on.