Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cabin C.

We did not pick
the voyage.
No one ever does.
Sunlit brochures sit
in dusty stacks
'neath a window
by the agent's door.
"Cruise of a Lifetime"
the cover says,
destination blank.
Nobody dares
pick one up.

There is no line
at the ticket booth
on the end of the pier.
The clerk plays
solitaire all day,
every day.
Nobody pushes
through the turnstile.
Yet every hour
another ship
filled to capacity
leaves the dock.

We left in the spring.
Been shipbound
one year now.
Correction -
you've been
I'm free to take
shore leave
whenever I choose.
But I choose
to stay aboard,
to sleep in your cabin.

No - we did not
pick this voyage.
But we're on
a sound ship.
Captain Blau is as fit
as any on the sea.
Her crew well trained,
well equipped.
From the surgeon's
quarters, to the labs
and imaging facilities,
everything is top-notch.

On Wednesdays
we sit out on the
chemotherapy deck
with other passengers,
encouraging and
supporting one another.
Every night we stand
at the rail, and look
to the horizon.
We make the best of it,
because there is
no other choice.

Saturday night
we went on a date.
You looked in the
mirror as you did
your makeup,
and you laughed
when many women
would have cried.
"I have four eyelashes!"
you said.
"What am I supposed to do
with four eyelashes?"

Then we went topside -
celibrated my birthday -
had a pint of stout
in Blackbeard's Tap Room.
Soon we'll celibrate
your birthday.
This summer we'll return
to the pier.
We will disembark
this ship.
We will drop,
and kiss the ground.

R.L.J. 4/10/2018

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Old and Alone

The old man stormed
into his bedroom,
cursing, searching
for his glasses.

His glasses
watched curiously
from the dresser
as he circled the room.

His hearing aids
on the bathroom vanity
listened intently
through the doorway.

Though he was alone,
his every move,
his every word
was observed.

So sayeth
the dentures
in the jar
on the nightstand.

R.L.J. 4/4/2018

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Driving There

Packing your things
into our car
this morning,
and driving you
to the city split
my thoughts
in two. Split
my determination
in two. So
if I seemed
to accelerating
when the light turned,
or uncommitted
when our exit came,

it wasn't due
to the early hour.
It was because
my heart at every
wanted to turn
the car around
and drive you away
from today,
toward another day.
A day without worry.
A day without fear,
without pain,
without hospitals,
without cancer.

R.L.J. 11/2/2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Proposal to the Confederacy

I propose a compromise to America's Historian-in-Chief Donald Trump and his loyal supporters: Put statues of slaves - chained to the auction block, tied to the whipping post, dead in the field - at the base of your "beautiful" Confederate monuments and we won't tear them down. They can stand forever in accurate context for all the world to see. Your cherished history will be saved. You will be able to proudly take your children and grandchildren to these monuments and show them exactly what your Southern States so gallantly fought to preserve.


is the narrow
spanning the deep
between us
and our future.


is a green
wild-eyed belief
that one can leap
to the other side
without falling
into the abyss.

R.L.J. 8/25/2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Taking My Sweet Time

I turtled up the hill,
slothed across the street,
snailed up the steps,
and glaciered my way
into the foyer.
"You're late" she said.

R.L.J. 7/7/2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Going to a Funeral

I got up this morning
to continue my journey.
It’s a long goddamned grind it is.
The trip to my funeral I mean.
I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember,
and even before I can remember
when I didn’t realize where I was going;
when I was a toddler wandering aimlessly;
and later riding my tricycle
half the time in the wrong direction,
away from my funeral,
and toward something else.
Toward something I can no longer recall.
Toward something that became
just the memory of a memory.
Toward something that once was
an audible and visual recollection
that repeated itself again and again
in the back of my mind,
and then slowly faded away.
It was a recollection from another life.
A recollection of the end of that life.
The one before this one.
The one in the wrong direction.
But I’ve been pointed right now
for almost fifty years,
walking the zigzag path
toward my funeral,
knowing full well that I’ll likely drop dead
a few days before arriving.
But with the help of the living,
I will show up on time.