Poems From The House Of Chipped Bowls

The House of Chipped Bowls

If I were to open a restaurant, 
I’d call it The House of Chipped Bowls. 

Every bowl’s a story, just like you.
And perhaps you’ll tell yours
Or listen to another’s.

Every table imperfect,
Perfect for elbows and plans,
Every chair for every backside,
Every posture, every shrug. 

The soundtrack may impose upon your hips. 
Dancing will be permitted between courses 
In the aisles, with patrons, with servers.
Out of the way, we’ll never be too busy not to dance. 

The books in the shelves 
Include notes to lovers 
Or infidel brothers
Or sentences underlined
No less than three times,
Lines dented into the page 
With rage and permanence. 

The food will be made to order. 
There will be no menu but your desire —
Whatever’s available in storage,
If we can’t make it, we’ll serve
the closest we can come to it
and we’ll be sure to keep your glass full. 

We’ll talk 
Or we won’t.
It might be loud
Though often it will be quiet.

Sometimes a shadow or a dream
Or sometimes the dead will visit a table 
With a cup of soup and fresh
Bread from our bakery
To share a memory from that time you rode together
Beyond some horizon
Singing that song at the top of your lungs.

So Will My Love

This is what I know about love:
I will love you the way you need 
to be loved the way you need 
to be loved is the way I will 
love you if your need ever changes,
so will my love for you.

This is what I know about love with you:
I will ask you to forgive me every time 
I open my mouth exposing my supposition:
I don’t know a thing but what I know,
my mind like a clumsy cabinet 
full of broken dinner plates and chipped bowls
piled high in tilted towers sloppily arranged
like discarded embarrassments
we laugh about deep into the night.

Every breath a kind of begging for another breath — 
only the unknown known with you — 
assuming life forward — fools,
utter fools, and happily so — believing we must
to survive the tyranny of time,
is all I know about love
with you.

Two Poems Inspired by Edward Hopper

Who But Us
inspired by Edward Hopper’s “Room in Brooklyn” (1932)

Who but us
could conceive
this windowed corner
to watch out over
the city.

A singular view
from which talking to Gd
might seem possible
in the clarity over
the roofs.

And then I remember
I’m alone for you,
severed from 
my source and left
wanting. 

From Rooftops 
inspired by Edward Hopper’s “Palms at Saltillo” (1943)

Rooftops in Saltillo
remind me 
of home.

Miami Beach
will always be 
home –

even as I must admit
we may never live there
again – 

though maybe near – 
somewhere with similar
viewscapes 

as those of the rooftops
of Saltillo, but closer
to the sea.

Rooftops in Saltillo
offer a view of palms
like those back home –

crowned 
monarchical,
wild-haired and wizened.

Rooftops in Saltillo
hold light like
ready-to-shed clothes

at dusk’s fall to evening
for the delicate fingers
of the moon.

But the rooftops of Saltillo,
alien to me, offer no sea,
no ships on the far horizon,

no gulls 
dancing in place
against the headwinds.

Have you ever laid back on the rooftop
of a chartered boat on a night anchor trip
learning the difference 

between the stars and the planets
from Tio Al smoking reds, 
the breeze strong,

moving the hair on your brow, 
the smell of fish fresh caught 
and of sea and men

beer-eyed and smokey,
and the sea fills you – 
the sea enthralls you

in awe of all that it holds – 
teeming life, history, memories 
you often can’t call your own?

Then you know too
what it’s like to be
on your back gazing up

from a Miami Beach rooftop,
maybe a house on Royal Palm, 
drunk or high or both, dizzy

on the aroma of the salted sea
flavored in mango and lime,
and the rock of the boat 

now the calming cool concrete,
white as the face of the moon,
solid and under you smooth,

ledges lined with sunbaked Spanish tiles,
whispers among the fronds
flirtations, a tease of conversations

you’re always left out of –
and your endless surprise
at the troves of delinquencies,

as sparkling as any view 
of our galaxy’s glorious array,
still left for you to explore.

Up here, nothing is secret.
You know what you know 
right in front of you. 

How fortunate 
to remain sanguine
knowing all of this is a farce.

Saltillo, rendered in light and shadow
in the romance of solitude and detachment
from the rooftop of a mansion

away from the 
maddening crowds
of a bustling city.

Miami Beach, you sandbar opus 
dredged from the depths,
greed glowing in every neon light, 

an imagined island made real
and built upon by madmen, 
artists, and a coterie of 

glittering beasts –
Old Spanish style homes,
Art Deco facades, castles – 

gangsters, shysters,
bubbies, zaydes, 
a wonderland of all known vice.

The ocean in every breath even
as you climb down from the rooftop,
leaving no trace
 
of the thousands of desires 
passed through your aching heart
in the last half hour.
 
Whose car took you 
to your front door?
Did you drive yourself,

alert for cops, listening to trees
laughing at you in the breeze
all the way?

What are you missing? 
A youth you despised,
loved with equal rage.

Fear and hatred,
desire 
and shame.

Aren’t you the one
in love with everyone
you grew up with?

Home 
is me-
mory.

None of it 
real. 
But all of it 
true.