Category Archives: Poems

Stammtisch

Stammtisch: (German for “regulars’ table”,[1] [ˈʃtamtɪʃ]) is an informal group meeting held on a regular basis, and also the usually large table around which the group meets. 

For sale, giant linoleum table.
Shiny chrome legs with sexy kitchen curves.
Five chairs come with it, well worn but still stable
And able to support asses and backs of all sizes.

Two leaves extend the table to generous lengths,
Stretch it to infinite hospitality.
What cornucopias of kindness and Jell-o molds it has known!
What tears and lasagna?
Late nights of tequila and
mornings with endless cups of coffee.

Mornings alone before the rest of the house wakes
The table is alive with the chaos of inanimate ephemera,
Tottering piles of mail, throw-away toys
Reading material unread, waiting
Permission slips, bills, hair ties and crumbs.
Methodically excavate and allocate,
Delegate to trashcans, drawers and the gaping
mouths of children’s backpacks.
Clean the slate, push it aside, make room for a new day.

Evenings the table collects dishes and glassware at alarming rates.
Set the table, clear the table, wipe the table, repeat.

The table seats six, comfortably
but it has hosted hundreds
The table is happiest when surrounded by friends and family
It is most at ease when elbows rest on it
with glasses in hand or
Mugs drawn to pursed lips,
eyebrows knit in concentration while poems are read,
stories unwound, and people gather to solve problems
personal or political — almost always both.

The table loves children,
even with their filthy hands and skittering crayons,
spilled milk and sugar.
And children love the table too,
for there is always room for them there
and it is tall enough to hide underneath comfortably,
just in case, you ever know.

Table comes with karma in tact.
No one has been harmed, deliberately, here.
Hearts have broken,
Mourning has lay upon it.
Unyielding and stalwart,
the table accepted the depths of our grief.

This table is for sale,
up for adoption
to a good home
in need of a stammtisch.
It will be missed.

 

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Dear Big Discount Liquor Store, I Love You

Dear Big Discount Liquor Store
I love you
I love your strange inventory, your friendly flirty clerks
Your black girls with smooth round shoulders just the perfect color and size
For strapless dresses on the fourth of July
And your always at least one sort of crazy guy in the store

Frogtown, I love you too
Your lazy pedestrians
Your threatening thugs, who are just teenagers
With low self esteem, it turns out.
Your parks with basketball boys
Your bus stops with ancient Hmong
holding umbrellas to block the sun
And Your Big Discount Liquor Store,
I love you

In the shade of my brick warehouse studio
In the courtyard surrounded by the artists
And assholes, and holy healers
Looking out from their windows
Down at the children, who trail after one another
Oldest to youngest, bound in the unbreakable way
Of children, seemingly oblivious, though probably not,
Of the differences that mark them because they are
Children of Frogtown, and
I love you too.

From my window I can see a woman in a sequin hijab
Floating like (of course) a mirage
Past the sinkhole on Como Avenue
Through my window I can hear the kids at the playground
I can smell the fireworks, the fireworks! for days I’ve heard
their sizzle boom crack. I smell the fire of 100 barbecues,
BBQ, chicken legs, charcoal, sweat.
I’m drinking the cold can of beer,
From the Big Discount Liquor
On the fourth of July.
I’m looking at you America,
You stupid, big, galumphing giant,
If only you could see yourself like I do,
You might love yourself
a little more.

January 2009

January

Up here, January isn’t the beginning

but the middle,

Of winter, doubt, serious cold.

Sharp wind slices along the main street

Crowded with the sounds of hard working cars,

Of tough packed snow, labored breath, creaking ice.

Mean sky and low clouds light our faces,

Flushed and creased with flat smiles,

Of determination, measured hope, longing.