Things to Do in Kingston, New York
For Vlad I. and Tom B.
Take your ex’s things
the things that they left years ago
Put them into bags
Throw them into the Rondout
Don’t feel bad about throwing them into the Rondout
People will try to make you feel bad for
throwing things into the Rondout
but you shouldn’t feel bad
The Rondout is filthy and you had
nothing to do with it
Hell, you can’t see but a couple
inches into it
like the skin of a eel
Brown with little pin pricks of light
the light doesn’t make it too far down
past the surface
While you’re at it
Throw your house garbage into the Rondout too
Why should any of us peasants take responsibility
for the condition of the Rondout
for its oily sheen and its stench when its hot out
on the Rondout
Is a scrap yard
A crazy pile of trash and old cars
kept from slipping into the brown water
by a quarter inch steel retaining wall
welded together all crazy
who knows what gets under that wall
Its probably piles of cars and old busses
old trolleys tugboat parts
spools of barbed wire
all piled up down there
with little fish moving through compartments
living blind in brown water that you could probably
light with a match maybe they can see little
pin pricks of light wavering weak in the brown
and hear the “plunk” of a high heel shoe
or a La Creuset Dutch oven
Or an unopened LSAT book
But they won’t see me
not feeling bad about it
—John Joe Kane
Disclaimer: I have never thrown trash,
other than food waste, into the Rondout
Thinking of the Old Days
even though I am grown,
I wanted to walk next door,
knock on your grandmother’s screen door,
and ask her if you could please come outside
for a root beer popsicle
Reflections in a Pond (After Li Po)
The sky is a vast empty sea.
I stare at its reflection in a pond.
The moon seems a shrunken pear,
fallen from a dying tree.
The stars are boats, barely
afloat. When they sink,
where do they go?
No one can truly know.
If life is a dream,
I want to waken.
My hopes have vanished.
I once thought I knew
what I wanted.
But I was mistaken.
House Full of Family
I cannot contain all the holes in the roof—
they have allowed in too much rain
and the house is drowning in it—
the water is up to my knees now.
No prayer, therapy or handyman has succeeded
In stemming the onslaught.
The frantic defense is over.
It is time for me to stand here,
point my face toward the ceiling
and allow the rain to do its thing—
as it turns out, nature can be a persistent bugger
After a while I drilled a hole
in the side of the house three feet off the ground
so the water had a place to go instead of drowning us.
We can all stand a little wet feet until the deluge stops.
I am not going to bother myself by wondering what happens if it does not stop.
All of my energy needs to be preserved for today.
If I am alive tomorrow
there will be more thoughts and feelings and actions to sort through
Girl leaving the Vet’s—
Wailing with empty cat box…
Raw badge of true love.
I’ll be just like her
In a not too distant time,
When my Wally’s gone…
Old man and old cat
In an old reclining chair,
Caring for each other…
flying is direction .
For You, My Love
Tell me that when I’m away from you
And you wish I were there
that my name
is one to bring you
The mention of it making you wonder
where I might be
that being with me was the best
time in your life
Tell me a lie
of any kind
that will make me believe
Norfolk Scope, 1980
All I remember about seeing
the Globetrotters play
was how much I loved it, proclaiming
to my folks I wanted
to be on the team one day. They said,
“You have to be black.”
I said, “Well, I wish I was black.”
My voicing this
desire so early made later becoming
a poet and teacher
a little easier
for them to witness.
slapping the bereaved’s sad face
again and again.
—Susan Liev Taylor
It is one in the morning
And our daughter is not home
Of course she moved out years ago
Long left to live
A life of her own
I am a father
And waken at one
Where she is
Walking from a friend’s apartment
Mostly in the middle the x-axis of ex-
Farmland and passing subtly lit mansions
One alive with shouts and glow the rest
Sleeping I smoke and make menacing faces
At passing cars up and down the hurried
Topography I take note of mailboxes and
Pass the Cider Mill which has been cited
By local gov’t to be historic and which a
Friend or associate I think of my Father’s
Once bought up the surrounding acreage
For a laugh and now down again the snake
Road for to take in the reek of the water
And bilge pumps and more passing cars
Until finding the retired dentist alone and
With motorcycle electrics on and him perched
On a self-made wall silent staring into his cell
Phone which blared over and over “summer
Of 69” and I ignored him for the absolute
Knowledge that my acknowledgement of him
There would ruin everything and I walked
More through the double driveway that
The man had paved so long ago for his sister
And then to my parents’ house nestled in
Silent suburbia and drank and slept.
Ulster County Vibes
There it is again,
Appley and sweet.
I wish it would stay
and I wish
it would go away;
reminding me how
run to you
on rainy Ulster County days
when I felt
just like I do now.
—Lisa L. DeFelice
Home Plate Slide
It was a pirouette.
You could see he always
wanted to be a ballet dancer.
That was his secret as a boy.
That’s what he daydreamed about
on his Little League team in center field.
He was safe, but his secret is out.
Why will I never hear those apologies?
Why do I need to hear those apologies?
Why must I then make those apologies?
Why will I be a better person after those apologies?
Why must I keep my expectations as I will never hear those apologies?
Let go, let go, be free
M is my favorite letter
I like it more than l or g or w
It spreads itself
Across the threshold of the page
Like the humps of two mountains
Or backwards v’s cohabitating together
And makes affiliations
With mirth and music
And the misfits hunched helplessly
On benches after hours in the park
Sometimes I walk up to the letter m
With my big flashlight
Illuminating its curves and hollow places
Where shadows linger and dust gathers
Like leaves after a windstorm
I observe the rising and falling lines
Of the letter m
Disappearing in glens
Reckoning with fate
And the alluring eye of Mother Nature
Pulling me in like a hook
Gathering the crumbs of truth
With the force and fervor
Of a priory of priests
And sleep in the soft caresses of its bones
Till the morning light wakes me
With its slowly ascending heat
And the bump and chattel
Of rising tides and lowering cliffs