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Do I hear “no”? February 19, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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When I listen, do I hear “no”?

Is it a radical concept I haven’t grasped?

Or is it like a shovel stuck in the snow,

abandoned, with no future, no past?

I’ve heard the hiring managers say no

And I don’t believe it means “later”;

It means this workplace will overflow

unable to contain my image over-inflator.

When you matter-of-factly say no,

is my request too insignificant?

Or should I simply bask in its afterglow

And acknowledge you won’t, or you can’t?

I am not put off by being told no.

Being misunderstood is soda in my whiskey.

Like a polar bear on an ice flow.

I know I’m there, you just can’t see me.

Who would? February 8, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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Candy stuck to Formica,

like it had been there a long time,

but once a house is deserted, unless documents exist,

how can you know? Does it matter who built with Formica,

who left the hard candy in such a hurry, carelessly?

Funny, the floor isn’t sticky, just dusty, some dust bunnies

and cobwebs, spiders shuttling back and forth from

cabinet to floor, never knowing their cousins up by the ceiling

doing the exact same thing in an exact opposite direction.

There is no smell of food or mold, like everything was taken

or nothing was here to begin with, and the light seems to have to

force its way through the dingy windows, half covered by shades.

So whoever was here didn’t dislike the light, maybe they welcomed it,

but when they left it didn’t occur to them to pull the shades.

They had no reason to be afraid of robbers, gave no thought to it,

because they were sure to be back, they thought, so they didn’t bother.

Who would?

Looking out the kitchen window, facing the backyard, the swing

is intact, the plastic toys, plastic wading pool, plastic stuff,

tells me there were young children here, and maybe girls,

no sign of GI Joe or super-hero figurines, probably girls.

The color on the plastic had faded some so if they left on their own

it was either in the Spring or early summer and it seemed

they believed they would be back, not at some point in the future,

they would be back that afternoon, back for supper, back for bed.

A child doesn’t purposefully leave her favorite toys out, just out like that,

unless they believed they’d be back, no reason to put them away,

Who would?

So this is what goes through the detective’s mind as he sorts out things.

He doesn’t know the lifestyle or particulars at the outset but he expects,

no, demands, that he get to the bottom of this…this apparent injustice.

Then we become an audience to his procedure,

from accumulated wisdom from TV news and cop shows.

We know why he’d bother to grapple with this, we couldn’t,

Who would?

A dream of living by the Salton Sea January 29, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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“Tell me when,” she said with a wink,

“We can lose the vodka, forget the drink,”

nodding toward her bedroom with soft eyes.

But I was thinking burger, Coke and fries.

She could have shrugged off my faux pas

instead of saying “You got a lot of balls.”

Then she laughed like it was par for the course

and I thought to myself, consider the source.

Someone told her early on I had relationship issues,

that she should have plenty of eye drops and tissues.

She denied it, wrote it off to jealous friends.

I caught her off the bounce, at her wit’s ends.

“Why don’t we play tennis or jog Lincoln Park?”

she urged me on Saturday mornings while it was still dark.

I could have rolled over, pulled the blanket over my head,

but I’d get up, shake myself awake and smile instead.

She tolerated my alumni coffee cups, me SEC, she Big Ten;

even my small college Master’s, hers from Michigan.

Never a note of condescension in her actions, in her tone;

and I knew we were soul mates down in my bones.

In Spring we’d sit outside a Starbucks and she’d smoke a cigarillo.

I might have feigned a frown but she put up with my brass armadillo.

“I won it in a poker game in Dallas,” she knew the story well.

“It’s a heavy piece, could be used as a weapon, you can never tell.”

We could have visited Wrigley Field every day for the ambiance,

then the Cubs started winning and, like everyone, we fell into a trance.

We celebrated a World Series victory and yelled at the parade

I smuggled Jack and Coke and she brought gin and lemonade.

So, I could ruminate all night about when and how she left me,

chasing an elusive dream of living by the Salton Sea,

but life goes on, no river of tears or recriminations cover the facts.

Often when love is staring straight at you it’s stabbing you in the back.

Fresh mojita in hand January 14, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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The background music was faint

while the ocean tumbled and rolled

overtaking the sand before receding

but I could swear it was playing “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

I wasn’t sure about the mood it was supposed to set but I smiled

and surveyed Marco Island’s beach expanse,

at points empty and at others clustered with people

some with children chased by harried parents

and chastised by doting grandparents.

It’s not often I get here, to relax in a cabana, fresh mojita in hand,

no smartphone to intrude, no tablet to distract me.

Just sound of wind and surf and I have come to understand

and appreciate those who are beckoned by its call —

flocking here, or Key West, or St. Pete Beach.

It’s a noisy peacefulness. It allows you to set aside,

if only for a few hours, whatever is pulling you back to your world.

From this spot, the phone calls and clients can wait,

and the email box can stack up like planes waiting to land at O’Hare,

but they will wait and I will get to them in due time.

Just not today. Just not today.

Of what was and what might have been January 2, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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We don’t take alleys anymore.

We stick to well-lit streets

and avoid underpasses and tunnels.

Those well-traveled paths were second nature

to every kid in the neighborhood.

Today, as adults, we know better —

Other days and other ways, I’ve heard it said —

But I never believed I’d see it in my lifetime.

It’s like a death in the family.

Once friendly streets now dangerous, blood-stained,

carelessly littered, a landscape of burned out bungalows:

That one where the Wilsons lived; over there, Sean’s home;

And, there, Billy’s, where we spent hours playing stick ball,

sandlot football and climbed to the shade of his tree house.

Today the house is leveled, and the yard is dirt and broken glass.

There is no hope of urban renewal, no rebuilding will be done.

I try to convince myself that there was nothing I could do about it,

that, over the arc of thirty years, I was not endowed with money

or political power to effect a change and I left it for a warm climate.

Yet, the visits are a reminder of what was and what might have been

and what will never be given the culture and the times.

I drive in my rented car, half in fear, half in awe

of what I’m witnessing and what I’m imagining:

Neat brick homes, well-manicured yards and friends beckoning to play.

If I said the place had ambience December 31, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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If I said the place had ambience

you might envision low lights and the musing of a nylon-string guitarist in the corner

fighting the light chatter and constant movement of wait staff detracting from his talent.

If I said the place had ambience

you might see a twenty-thousand-seat arena typically used for hockey games

with acoustics making the sound indiscernible as your favorite band ignores the obvious.

If I said the place had ambience

would you think of a smoke-filled room where the talk is loud and abusive?

Or, are there too few neighborhood bars, stifled by no smoking laws to consider it?

If I said the place had ambience

could it be like a ski lodge with roaring fireplace and walls festooned with trophy game?

Would it be hot cocoa, dry martinis or craft beer as you settle into your soft leather couch?

If I said the place had ambience

you might envision your own living room with the grace and comfort it affords

along with light conversation with your lover as “Love, Actually” drones on Netflix.

If I said the place had ambience, what comes to your mind? Where does your heart wander?

There is no stopping time December 30, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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There is no stopping time; no pregnant pause granted.

I can hear the birds singing even in late December

for the weather fools them and with no capacity to remember,

they will vigorously repeat what they have ranted.

And Spring is nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard,

but no one is looking for it because no one cares.

Their holiday has left them with full guts and empty stares

and they can’t hear a single song from any bird.

What of the work that lies ahead in the new year?

Passing entertainment has pushed that thought aside.

Yet, they have found nothing of the sacred to abide

And they wonder why they face the coming month with fear.

“Leave it for tomorrow”, I heard it casually said.

I understand living for the present and giving all to today.

There’s no guarantee of tomorrow with its debts to pay

And someone remarked, “They can’t collect from me when I’m dead!”

Supposing I take this life too seriously, too intensely,

And my passion runs rough-shod over my common sense.

How would I gather my well-deserved recompense?

If I didn’t, would it bother me immensely?

I have turned off the television and left the radio alone.

It has been so long since I was reacquainted with quiet —

my mind is a battlefield, preparing for the next riot,

but I’d prefer so much to forget it all and go home.


Contemplating the new year December 28, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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I was thinking about a new year

and how we can create it during any season.

But we look at January 1 to put it in gear

and I know the price of that spiritual treason.

Yet, I’d rather sing a sad old song

forgiving myself for the misspent time;

forgiving myself for all I’ve done wrong.

But you don’t owe me your forgiveness

even with the dawn of a new year loving the sky.

I’m the one who abused your graciousness

and left our relationship in a dark alley to die.

We can start this new year with sun instead of rain

if you would only reach your hand out to me.

I would embrace your laughter and let go of my pain

and we’d take that proverbial boat and set out to sea.

I was contemplating a new year

and how we can create it in any season.

But we leave it to January 1 to put things into gear

and I can’t delay it for any reason.

If I am lost then come and find me.

Don’t wait for the new year to reach out

or should I just call you or will you ignore it?

We can talk about the future and what its all about

or we can let another new year pass and forget it.



Old Rocking Chair (Christmas visitation and remembrance) December 22, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.

The rocking chair hasn’t aged well,

now like a museum piece, unfit to sit on

but the memories are richly preserved.

All the tales a rocking chair could tell

moved around this house fifty-years plus seven

with more to come and well-deserved.

Antiques of Christmas, everyone remembers who bought them.

The family knows how it entered and remained.

And it’s not like a locket or valuable gem

just everyone would rather have it so it sustained

all the threats to chuck it on the fire or give it away.

About thirty years ago it was relegated to the garage

but cousin Charlie loved to play his banjo on it so he demanded it stay

Then the grandkids began using it for decoupage.

It took some time for it to recover.

Homer Formby helped me get stripped down and stained.

It seemed like an old friend and the house’s first lover

even though it has been ten years since anyone gave it a strain.

I filled the last stress fractures and warned off the relatives;

it had become a “look but don’t touch” anomaly

in a house filled with modern furnishings it seems pejorative

and yet it stays, in its way, majestically.

No, the rocking chair hasn’t aged well,

a well-guarded family heirloom no one can sit on.

But the memories are richly preserved to tell

to future generations, their relatives, and on and on.

Time evaporated December 21, 2016

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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I haven’t spoken to you in a while.

The space of death eight years ago

made me believe conversations were over.

I shun the ethereal plane so what’s done is done.

I discovered this cul-de-sac of my soul is very real

and, indeed, my suffering is private and woeful.

But there was encouragement from your heart

and mercy from your eyes and on your tongue.

However, it is fading like winter’s light, too soon each day.

There is a void – a merciless emptiness – engulfing me

when I have more to be thankful for than I can recount.

I’ve earned my spiritual prison but I refuse to own it.

It’s a rental more expensive than a Manhattan walk-up

and I wonder if its smarter to leave it, and its naked walls,

or allow it to find its balance and help me find mine.

Even if I haven’t spoken to you in a while I know you’ve heard

crossing an arc of years that doesn’t matter.

Time evaporated.