“288 Bunkah”







“288 Bunkah”

We called my maternal grandfather, Bubba.

Upon visiting his home,

we would ring a bell and wait for entry.

Peering through the sheer curtains,

we would handle the softest metal door knob.

Rickety-tick, repeatedly.

A cadence of impatience.

Bronzed gold turned black green.

Dirty hands of friends, family, and peddlers; afforded a build up of patina.

Then, a white bulbous head peeking around the wall, or from the kitchen door.

Dish towel in hand,

he would approach.

Squinting to discern the audacity of a visitor.



Wiggled gait, lifted chain.


The home of a former Marine.

Not as expected, but more of a museum honoring our grandmother gone to cancer.

Everything unchanged, so time could remember her stamp.

Dust, and kitchen grease.

Boston Water and Sewer shop steward trousers, and a Fruit of the Loom tee.

His paunch rivaling that of Santa Claus.

A work of years.

An immediate left would bring you to the living room.

Shades drawn in the deep of day.

The glowing light of a television centered the room,

and back from that, was his Archie Bunker chair.

Full of waiting, and sweat, and muffled farts, and disappointment, and laughter.

There are photos of him holding baby versions of us, while sitting in that chair.

A greasy tray table full of Knick-knacks nearby, and a two-liter bottle of Pepsi at the right of his chair.

Room-warm and ready to pour.

He would sit and hold court.

Jokes, quips, stories, warnings.

All the things Bubbas are great at.

Sing-a-long songs, presided over by an outstretched index finger that became a conductor’s wand.

His finger so soft and smooth,

a touch of leather tissue paper.

And always a glint in an Irish-American smiling eye.

Tales of Sean Sean the Leprechaun, and of how a Native American sniper once dealt with a unit of Japanese soldiers in a Nagasaki swimming hole.

How serious he became when he would report that each of them had been shot in the temple from an outrageous distance.

Him playing it out with an imaginary rifle, stock pushed into shoulder, safety unlocked, scope affixed to eye, other eye squinting, trigger pulled:

pewww! pewww! pewww!

Then just as natural, scoring the local feats of professional athletes.

By the time we could talk,

we could report without doubt,

that Bobby Orr was the greatest hockey player of all time.

Then he would take an afternoon nap.

It would get amazingly quiet, and then he would snore, and finally talk in his sleep.

He would call out to Mayzie (short for Mary).

It was the kind of imploring call that you here upon people separating, that somehow know they will be apart for an indeterminate amount of time.

It was sad and hopeful.

When awake again, he would show great interest in our lives.

Then he’d take us by the hand to Collier’s Market, and buy us baseball cards or bubble gum.

Those packs of gum seemed to last forever,

Although, it was a house full of cultivated shadow, to hide from the pain of impermanence that comes of loving someone so well for so long and then losing them.

It was also a place where we learned that loving doesn’t stop when someone leaves this world, but carries on in small eternal waiting moments of grace.

It carries on in living memory by the stewards of love that bore witness to and felt its existence.

We all got a share.

“Outside of Norms”

“Outside of Norms”

A radio chatters.

A stage performs.

My space vacated,

outside of norms.


kills confirmed.


outside of norms.


chancre sores.

The truth debated,

outside of norms.

Your fears abated.

Escaped the scourge.

Ego inflated,

outside of norms.

Child berated.

Paid forward.


outside of norms.

“Hung Out to Dry”

“Hung Out to Dry”

Many, many summers ago,

when I lived atop of Bunker Hill Street,

my Mother dried the cleaned clothes,

by hanging them on a drying horse rack.

Time and a breeze,

were the common necessaries to make it work.

The summer windows would be open,

and late at night my parents would argue.

Sometimes muffled,

Other times clear.

A child of small,

hiding beneath Star Wars bedsheets.

Trying to understand the guttural nuance of the word fucking.

Spit forth in anger and anxiety.

I didn’t know what it meant,

but knew it was bad.

It sounded awful.

Violent, and final.

The peace of a post fight is full of tension,

and on occasion my mother would climb into my bed, or my sister’s bed.

Then it was over.

The next day, neighbors would find something else to look at when we walked by.

What I remember most was how dry the clothes were when we touched them in the mornings.

That, and playing hide and seek among the wet clothes just freshly hung out, so my mother could go to sleep on her green couch before my father got home from work.

“She’s a Right Plump Biggin”

“She’s a Right Plump Biggin”

We’re going steady.

She’s a right plump biggin,

taller than most girls in our class.

A Viking goddess,


Taking me down.

When I watch her in sixth period gym,

I lose my breath.

My heart beats loose.

She sweats a waterfall,

and wipes her forehead with the bottom of her tee shirt.

When she does this I can see her stomach.

I get butterflies in mine.

I fantasize about her being able reach items on the higher shelves for me.

To put me up on her shoulders at concert festivals.

And, I think about the times she rests her head in my lap and looks up at me with those Monster Truck eyes.

We take turns applying new lipstick,

and kissing long into the afternoon.

The day’s dying winds blowing rage into the fire of our passion.

Inciting jigsaw elbows and pounding fingertips, until we melt into puddles of ginger trance.

Our thing; an oasis in a cruel world.