New York City Transportation

An hour-and-a-half ride on the subway from east side to west. Always waiting, finding a place between riveted posts, a light in the tunnel, I hope it’s a train, hot air on my face from the IRT, a seat if I were lucky, just my luck, holding the handles, reading posters, this month’s Miss Subway, Rhonda Rodriguez, her photo never came down, transferred at 42nd Street, one train, two-ways, back and forth, some people rode all day and took up three seats, reading Howard Zinn on the sway, People’s History, New York City and the Ladies Garment Workers Union, the United Federation of Teachers and Albert Shanker, past Hell’s Kitchen, stretches of cement, smell of coffee, Greek restaurants, meatballs staining hero sandwiches orange, walking fast, but always late, stairs to elevators, fifth floor, Van Nostrand Reinhold, a publishing house bought out by Litton Industries, first to market the microwave, press the button, at my desk, Mr. Epley in his office who’d served in the Navy, I’m his secretary, Lina from the Peace Corps wore a bracelet of masking tape, I typed and made mistakes, Mr. Epley said he knew I was bored, couldn’t promote me unless I tried, white-out coated my fingerprints, went for walks during lunch, wanted to find the Chelsea Hotel, home to Brendan Behan, the clock was my movies, I watched it all day, after work, went back down the elevator, caught a different train, a bus to Long Island Jewish, never came, stainless steel piers, my father in the hospital, further uptown, a proposal in marriage, waiting

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Expiration Date

IMG_0081She was excited to have three separate appointments in one day. The first, to get her eyes checked following cataract surgery, then on to her regular physician  who was going to read the tea leaves of her MRI, and  a podiatrist who was going to examine the intruding bunion on her right foot to ascertain if surgery qualified; she had no other plans, save feed her cat, Knickers named by a roommate from Great Britain whose feet were half brown, half white (the cat). She required a flu shot from the local CVS, better than to struggle with parking at the med center, plus she needed to buy shampoo and wash her hair. She had to turn in the  coupon before it expired. Her hair,  so dirty. Heard children screaming in the condo pool like little animals hanging on to the Bay Area’s autumn where trees crumpled along the street for lack of rain, give or take a few Marco Polos, but mostly shrieking, one girl’s voice followed by a boy’s, broadcasting their pre-pubescent flirts with an occasional car exhausting itself up the hill on a Sunday afternoon where Mrs. Hercules’ dog, Potsie, answered a dog who did not wish to be rescued, just to mark its territory at the edge of an empty lot, and kept barking.

Links to My Work

Two Places: Cross the Bay Bridge to Oakland, California and walk the bayous of Louisiana
Price(USD): $15.00
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Junipero Serra

Along the marijuana
scented streets of San Francisco State University,
evening classes, students clump along Holloway Avenue,
smokers come out from behind parking meters that stand as centurions.

Houses glitter along the hills
and catch the sun’s last rays
before clocks fall back
and shroud the coast in early night.

Already fog and mist, landscapes
turned from flowers
to succulents in the California drought.
I walk

past 19th Avenue to my Camry
parked on Junipero Serra Blvd.
Cars rocket toward Highway 280
along a cypress-lined street

named for the Franciscan friar who founded
the mission-system in California herding
native populations into the fold
with whips and soldiers.

The many shapes of named sainthood.

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Western Seagull

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 6.03.41 AMBeachcomber,
the sting of salt
water on your wings
grey garbage collector
raking portions
from the undertow
of my thoughts.

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Shoot Me, I’m Online Dating (11)

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 9.01.05 AMI rendezvous with my online dates at either one of two places.

The first is near Lake Merritt in Oakland, which provides ample time to sniff each other out and offers enough café choices should we wish to postpone our good-byes. If not, we’ve gotten exercise, and for a short while, can pretend to be another couple around the lake, which brings to mind an impressionistic painting, possibly a Degas or maybe Renoir. Alternatively, we can meet at a mutually agreed upon coffee shop and get our fill of caffeine. The only downside is that many cafés are noisy with the hiss of latté machines and background conversation. A good choice is to find an establishment that caters primarily to the Wi-Fi crowd who sit stone-faced before the altar of their computers.

Preparation requires thought. I like to wear casual attire, no prom dresses. I never want to work hard to impress before I know whom I’m impressing. So a pair of jeans is a good start, assuming that they are clean and don’t have the rips and tears that seem to be fashionable. I can imagine my mother saying, “Women throwing away a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans that are ready for the Goodwill bag? Imagine.”

So a pair of intact jeans, thank you, coupled with an attractive top, which neither displays too much cleavage, but also doesn’t look like Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music, some middle ground that shows style. And even if I choose a simple fashion statement like jeans with a red ribbed top, there are accessories—shoes, rings and bracelets—which is the look I went for when I got ready for my online date at the Peet’s coffee outpost in Emeryville, California.

My prospective date had made a point of saying in his profile how he loved women and was a sensuous man.

He was only a few minutes late, not a biggie. By his profile picture, I recognized the man in the parking lot who had just pulled up on a Honda motorcycle. Tugging a khaki-looking shirt over his head and then shoving it into his saddlebag, he quickly donned a purple replacement. For a moment, I saw his exposed stomach, which was not stylish.

Coffee drinks in hand—his iced, mine a chai—we sat outside for the first chat, but I wouldn’t call it a chat. He talked, and I sat there listening, nodding my head or interjecting such astute comments as “Nice,” “Cool,” and “Really?” For the next hour he explained how he’d credited his friend’s death for missing a chance at opening his own business, and how all the women he meets are on drugs, high-blood pressure, cholesterol, and recreational of different kinds. Would he need to add my name to the list? There was a pause as he invited me to whisper the answer into his ear. But when he mentioned that he had no children because he was bald, and how different women who had passed through his life didn’t want to visit that genetic horror upon youngsters. I stopped listening. Truthfully, I had already rolled my eyes into the ozone about half an hour before. I had a hunch that it wasn’t his baldness that had deterred him from fatherhood.

I made quick escape. “I have to avoid commute traffic,” I told him.

Later, he sent a message saying how I was the love of his life and how he was attracted to my body, my hands, my face, even to my roots, which I wouldn’t have to worry about because he was ready to drive off with me on his motorcycle into the sunset, with or without a helmet. I told him as politely as I could that I wasn’t interested. He persisted, and urged me not to let “love fly away for I might never find it again.”

I thanked him. “I don’t feel the same attraction.”

Oh well. Sometimes an afternoon can become another lesson in the art of online dating, which makes me promise that I will never schedule another walk around the lake or coffee date unless battering myself with a hammer seems more appealing, but then there’s a hope that keeps me thinking. One of these days, I might be surprised.

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For Syrian Refugees

A word sings

past a chime

of cascading leaves


outside a slight breeze

cousin to the first breath

two syllables

a holy mantra

bathed in cries

shuttling life

across the bandwidth

of the universe





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Shoot Me, I’m Online Dating (10)

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.39.40 AMI’m not proud about online dating. Why would I want to brag about trying to find loving companionship after searching through profiles and photographs and exchanging emails for much too long?

The truth is that eight years ago I thought the kiss of joy had grazed my cheek. On that particular evening, I had sworn off renewing my online membership. I was going on my absolutely last online date. Then I would try to meet people the old-fashioned way—at parades, a party, a pot-luck, or a dimly lit library table, which is exactly when I met the one. Isn’t that how it always is?

People proselytize that once you stop looking for something, the universe finally cuts you a deal. We went to a Spiderman movie together (not exactly a library table, but it was dark), and laughed before the coming attractions and long after the credits. He was on the short side with a brilliant smile and strong hands and wasn’t shy about taking mine into his own on our first date.

Guys talk about fetishes. I have a hand fetish. I look for the cut of nail, the length of finger, smoothness of palm, and for the feeling of flesh on flesh, which is what happens when someone takes my hand into his for the first time. Later, he ordered drinks  and opened my car door when I went home.  On our second date, he brought me a motorcycle helmet, and showed me a catalog where I could order a black leather jacket. Pick out any one, he said.

He wasn’t really a bad boy type, more like a southern guy who’s been riding motorcycles since he started to pitch newspapers on peoples’ front lawns. He wanted a friend to join him for the ride and I did. We had one of those honeyed amber courtships. Everything was fun, even asking him to repeat what he said because I couldn’t quite understand the bayou in his southern lilt. He made love to me with his beautiful hands. After a long spate of death and disappointment, for the first time I felt cared for, nurtured, and loved.

So why did it end? For months, I woke up sobbing. Everything reminded me of him. Now I’m beginning to feel numb. I suppose that’s progress. One day I decided to try the online dating thing again, a sort of chain that I could cinch to my waist and pull myself out of the mud.

Send me your online dating stories!

Links to My Work

Two Places: Cross the Bay Bridge to Oakland, California and walk the bayous of Louisiana
Price(USD): $15.00
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Shoot Me, I’m Online Dating (9)

One evening as I was minding my own email, an online dating site informed me that I had a message. I clicked a link from successfulman56 and read, “Hello beautiful.” Anyone who calls me beautiful gets my immediate attention. He went on, “You are the perfect definition of beauty and I would like to know the secret behind your smile.” Melt. Don’t think for a moment that I am not immune to flattery. I responded with a demure little note, which was filled with blushes and thank yous.

David, for that was how he identified himself, came back with this next message:

I signed up on here a month ago and I only came on this site twice. I barely respond to anyone. I would like to get to know you better, be friends and see where one click of the mouse would lead to. I have gotten a lot of superficial email and I am quite disappointed with the standards. Feel free to write me at my personal email address or maybe we could talk now, as I am on my way to the gym.

Nothing seemed suspicious. He was new to the site and rarely responded to flirts. My profile and picture had somehow stood out, more subtle flattery. He was interested in further conversation and had invited me to call before he went to gym to work on what I’d imagined to be his six-pack of abs. But something held me back from dashing to my telephone or sending email to his personal address. Let’s say that several online experiences had made me cautious. Instead, I wrote a chatty note, pushed Send, and waited for his reply. I received one the next morning.

He told me that he had got up to pee during the night and found my message. I’m thinking, do I really want to hear about my Lothario’s visit to the bathroom? Not really. For some reason, he told me how he went to an orphanage to assure the kids that despite all appearances, they have a bright future ahead. Once again he urged me to contact his personal email or call his mobile number.

My true love was beginning to dissolve before my eyes. I considered: successfulman tag, peeing, visiting orphanages, and wanting to move our conversation away from the site to a private area. Hmm. It all seemed very calculated. I plugged his name into Mother Google, davidmcmanaman, and found out he was Romance Scammer, preying upon an ocean of lonely hearts like my own. I could not fathom why he would use the same name, but that’s his problem. Maybe he has the ambition of a graffiti artist, leaving his tag around town and disappearing before dawn.

It turned out that “David” had stolen his photo from an Australian businessman. But what in my own profile had identified me to “David” as a juicy scamming prospect? I went back to read my profile and decided that I had used the word love too many times. Perhaps that had set me up to be groomed as a new victim  Now ain’t that a bitch. But what motivates a person to pose as a Romance Scammer, to create the fantasy of a great lover and then obtain  the keys to the house? Access to bank accounts, credit cards? Unscrupulous, right?

Oh gullibility, thou name art love.

Send me your online dating stories!

Links to My Work

Two Places: Cross the Bay Bridge to Oakland, California and walk the bayous of Louisiana
Price(USD): $15.00
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Darkness Simmers Beneath My Surface

I scrubbed each kitchen tile with vinegar,
doused stainless steel appliances
with cleaner to remove all streaks,
lemon-oiled the two halves of the dining room table
and pushed them back together,
dusted shelves until the micro-fiber
cloth changed colors, gathered up garbage
from all four corners and placed them at the door
to take downstairs. Later, I remembered
how I needed to get gas, postage,
buy three limes. But I kept thinking
how you reminded me of Gene Wilder,
your wild eyes, green and lashed, red hair spun
by Rumplestiltskin into barbed wires,
something primeval in the way you understood the world,
a Willy Wonka who spoke, but did not speak
the same language as the rest of us yokels. So throw me a golden
apple, a chili cheese pretzel dog, hand-outs
from a drive-through window where black and white
cats dance the Tacomania; after hours we’ll meet
at the Sweet Deal poker machine, and for one last time,
place our bets, take our chances, sweep the swamp.

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Shoot Me, I’m Dating Online (8)

Dates have come and gone bye-bye.

Let me see. One friend didn’t appreciate my letting him pay for our first several dates, whereas I thought I was allowing him to exercise his male prerogative; then there was the guy who phoned to give me his ground rules regarding what I had to do if we had sex, really harmless, he needed me to sleep over so he wouldn’t feel abandoned; or the fellow who spent the majority of his time kayaking, or the man who lived in East Oakland and was in between jobs as a contractor in the biotech industry, both of which evaporated into the online world without my really knowing where they’d gone and why. Or worse, the man who’d read my entire blog with exclamations about my writing, called me on the phone from Europe (!!), and then faded away into his Silicon Valley motherboard.

But what did any of my dates really owe me except an email,  and how is that any different from regular old dating, where following a night out on the town, the phone remains  a silent collaborator?

Then there was the man entering a second career counseling at-risk teenagers and who had relocated from the mid-west to be with his dying mother and sister (both scoring high in my pantheon of prospective lovers), and who’d even cooked dinner for me with his grandmother’s recipe for tomato sauce, and who showed me around his house with explanations of family pictures affixed to a bulletin board, a man who joined me for walks and  decided that I was not able to communicate according to his particular standards, and began to do the most horrible of horribles – calling me choice names that I won’t repeat here but only to say they included, “overwrought, scary, and idiotic,” which brought me full-circle to a marriage that overflowed with such barbs, so much so that I retreated into the walls of my condo, and vowed “never again,” at least not if I could help it.

So where does that leave me? The other day I was sitting in my stylist’s chair waiting for my hair to set, and overheard a conversation amongst several women about their online experiences.

“You mean it was okay with you that he was bi-polar, had wrecked his car, and was living with his mother, but it was only that he was $27,000 dollars in debt that made you to step away from the relationship?”

“Mmmm…yes. I mean, but he was very cute.”

Send me your online dating stories!

Links to My Work

Two Places: Cross the Bay Bridge to Oakland, California and walk the bayous of Louisiana
Price(USD): $15.00
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