Ashes

My dad used to tell me
I could be anything I wanted,
but he’s dead now
and I know that was just something
you say to kids.
You can’t be something
unless you want it,
and if you don’t know
what you want
you’re screwed to drift
on the wind like smoke, dissipating,
while something you don’t want
is knocking on your door so loudly
that you wonder if it would be better
if you dissipated faster.

Birthdays

Whenever my birthday approaches
I start poking at my life with a stick.
More than halfway through it
and nothing is as I thought it would be.
My history is full of wrong turns
and dead ends I had to back out of.
I should’ve done this…
I should never have done that…
I don’t allow that life happens in the moment
and not while second guessing it
in a funk on the couch.

House of Cards

“Hello?” I answer.
Telephone silence.
“Hello?” I say again.
Nothing.
I hang up.
Every few afternoons,
during the trysting hour,
the same call.
Ring, ring, but only silence.
My wife and I joke
that it’s a ghost,
but I know better.
It’s someone who wants
to hear our voices.
A past indiscretion,
Mine, maybe hers,
don’t know and don’t want to.
I’m worried that instead of silence,
they’ll speak,
and my wife and I
will never look at each other
the same.

The Summit

Our breath lingers
in front of our faces
as we exhale
the mountain air
and look down
at the powder dusted valley.
Floating in the moment
between dangers passed
and the descent to come,
we laugh at our fear
of slipping and falling,
of being left alone
without the other.

Perfumed Paper

Tin mailboxes line the gravel path,
their wood posts aged a silver gray.
The stones tickle my bare soles
as I look through my box
for the letter you’d said you sent,
but it’s not there, and it’s as if
I’m no longer there either.
Just a shell standing in front
of an empty metal box.

Convictions

I met a guy once
who claimed he never said,
“Goodbye.”
That there were no endings,
just beginnings.
He would say,
“Hello,”
only once, when he met you,
And after that it was,
“Hey,”
or,
“Hi.”
His banter was a running toilet.
Jiggle the handle
and more came out.
Soon after meeting him,
I taught him about,
“Goodbye.”