Love Letters to the Universe

Love Letters to the Universe


Open wide, oh cavernous mouth! Cave of my subconscious.

The ego rounding my lips dissolves into being, then–boom–

the grand reprieve: I die, and return whole



My eyes have a mouth of their own.

They eat the blackness hugging

each planet, starved for

the impossible distillation

of Time.  This moment, mine, yes,

I name Now.



The world is a

heart shot

through with

God’s arrow


as proof.



But before that,

I was something.

A broad white light.

Prisms were my eyes,

colored the world.  Now,

though nothing is new,

the world goes on.

I’ve met many-a prism-eyed people.

We innovate in our own likeness so much

we do nothing else.


The Operator at the Ferris Wheel

The little boy could no longer wait

for his mother to shave the cherry ice

until it sold out. We had just met

at the church fair. His mother knew mine

in youth. She owned an ice stand with her husband,

watched his son wait on the ferris wheel line.

The ferris wheel operator would not permit

the little boy to ride alone, although he was

first in line.  I stood, without a ticket,

the tallest and oldest in line.

The operator looked past the boy,

into a sea of eager faces, selected two

for the empty cage.  Another cage reared,

and the operator, once more, sought a pair.

The little boy, crestfallen, looked at his feet.

I raised my hand.  The operator waved

the boy and me in.

We circle the axis five times. I do not think

of rusty hinges, crooked screws, this machine

that needs oiling. Perpendicular to earth,

the wheels stops. The boy grips the bar

across his lap. “I hope we don’t

turn over,” he says. Unsure of myself

with this young stranger, I say, “Me too.”

The spokes flash colorful light as

people below us gesture with white palms.

The little boy lets go of the bar. “It’s not scary,”

he says.  “It’s not.”  I call him brave

not knowing what else to say.

Ground-level, the wheel stops,

the operator offers me his hand.

“Are you all right?” he asks me.

The little boy, quiet, disembarks.

The operator should have asked

the little boy

if he had fun.


See Draft Run. Run, draft, run.

Pauly has clear blue eyes and ruddy cheeks.  “Beautiful day,” he says to no one in particular.  “Isn’t it?”  He is larger than the chair he sits in, on the Starbucks’ patio in downtown Summit, New Jersey.  A mustache like a wire-haired caterpillar; gray locks toward the back of his head curl around the base of his neck.  It is a warm, spring day.  He serenades the passersby, smiles at a lady in a green dress.

There are people who sleep in the stairwells of Summit train station.  They may be the same people who traipse the sidewalk midday, sit on a bench outside the station and smoke cigarettes under a tree.  These people dress and smell distinctively different from the masses who flux through the shops at Union Place, which include five Italian restaurants, a gourmet cheese shop, a shoe smith, a Chinese restaurant, a metro-chic hair salon, a pizzeria, and a Starbucks that gathers thick crowds in the early morning and late afternoon.

Downtown, on Union Place, there is a definite sense of “us versus them,” the “haves and the have-nots.”  It is best described in the way the haves treat the have-nots, as if the have-nots aren’t even there.

The “us” and the “them” are not as clearly defined.

A black man in a varsity jacket crosses the street to Starbucks.   The jacket hangs off his thin shoulders.  He waves to Pauly.  They shake hands, chat.  Another man stands alongside the man in the jacket, waiting.  Finally, the man in the jacket walks away, calling, “I ain’t messin’ with you, Pauly, I’ll be back.”  The other man follows him.

“What time?” Pauly asks.

“Two o’clock,” says the man in the jacket.

“Let’s follow the police around a little bit,” says Pauly.  “Shake ’em up.”

Alone again, Pauly says, “I want a beer.”  A woman sitting near him looks up. “They love to bother us,” he says, “I don’t know why.  I’m just a regular guy.”  The woman is silent.  “He’s a doctor of psychology,” Pauly says, gesturing toward the street.  “He’s a little bit…but he’s a doctor of psychology.”  Naming something, it seems for Pauly, makes it real.  Then he sings, “Doctor doctor, give me the news, I got a bad case of loving yous.”

In the eyes of a sick man, anyone who can help might as well be called Doctor.

Pauly looks around, slips a small plastic bottle from his sleeve just enough so that its clear contents pour directly into his twenty-ounce cup of strawberry Frappuccino.