An abandoned father heals,
I want to believe. Greeting the kids
dropped off by her.
The nip in the weather
that takes the tips of my fingers
and toes with it.
One turns, for a few years,
into a walking snarl.
The television is all hockey.
A cold sport for the heart.
Nowhere one looks there is art.
This goes on far past the edge
of withstanding it. Jaw clenched,
you sleep in your apartment.
She is a she. Something
in that has its own logic.
I dream of her hair sometimes
draped over my right arm
though it never did that. She,
never did that.
Her hair stunk of soccer sweat,
Her stench was the stench of elements.
The world seen from the filter
of my marriage was cruel.
I was helpless in it.
Our children were jewels
but I was the dog’s dried excrement.
Sometimes I wonder what I’d say
should she want me again.
I practice the words
deep in my subconscious.
I’d say you were a person
much earlier than I ever was.
I’d admit that.
Then I’d say I tried
but my trying was not enough.
I’d tell her she was rough
and that her family advanced on me
like an arresting line of cops,
though that wasn’t true.
Nothing I ever said was true.
Only what I felt.
I could never tell the difference
between what I knew
and what was happening to us.
I was a child sitting
at the back of the bus,
and she was the driver
calling out stops
until one day I got up
and walked out of the bus,
heard the door slam
and the engine roar past me.
I stood on a bare street
nowhere to go
holding, in my wrinkly hands,
only my name.
A Streetcar Named Panera
My wife asks me, kindly, where I’m planning to live.
She says, the South Bay is great, or even Carson,
tries to calm my fears about space and affordability—
you don’t need much, she says, a place to put a bunk bed
for the kids, a one bedroom is fine. We talk this way
and the gray sky becomes bunched up like carbon paper.
I remember what my therapist said about being nice to her
for my own sake, for the children. I smile and smile
until my smiles show up in heaven as little smoky angels,
I wanted to call her a bitch. I felt like Stanley Kowalski
in A Streetcar Named Desire. But I’m no Stanley.
I’d never scream her name over the tenements of LA.
When she ended it, I wept in front of her as she stared
at me over her latte at Panera. Seventeen years was nothing
to weep over, I guess. We talked about practical things,
who’d be the mediator, who’d sleep where for now.
I hear the sounds of spewing machines and clinking cups
behind the Panera counter. Alone, I hear these same
sounds at the same place, only it’s a few months later
and we’re barely selling the house we shared. I have
to see her again, and again. I will try and be prepared.