winter day

It is a cold winter day in 1994. My mother, a lovely, lucid woman with olive skin and a gigantic heart, is crying on the phone after hearing that her mother in law has finally passed away from cancer. My mother, of course, is inconsolable. She is defeated from rolling the thought over: I hold my neck stiff against the warm softness of my pillow as she methodically drops her head and then continues sobbing… Lying defiantly in my scratchy shirt, hiding my charcoal-colored, crispy curly hair and blood-flushed lips, flitting my eyes in a way that makes my teardrops stop, I remain, arms under chest, close to my mother. “Merry Christmas, Mommy” I say with innocence. “Let’s open presents.”

I stand parallel to the front of our house where three large windows are centered in the living room, facing 74th street and 13th avenue: the majority of Bensonhurst’s inhabitants are off the boat, Italian immigrants. Blocking the middle window is our large, 6-foot tall, plastic evergreen Christmas tree that was given to my parents as a gift by my Nanny when they first married several years ago. My eyes are freshly crusted with sleep and I casually wipe the foggy vision from them with the back of my adolescent hand. My mind cautiously approaches the idea of accepting what I had heard on the phone while trying not to be too exuberant about the fact that I have a million presents waiting to be opened.

My mother and father sit patiently waiting for my two younger sisters, Laura and Amanda to join them, as they always do, year after year, every Christmas morning. At the very edge of our 1980’s inspired, blue slate love seat sofa is my mother, calmly pretending that nothing has happened, as if neither my sisters nor I had heard the sadness expelled from her mouth.  This sadness proceeds to envelope the entire atmosphere of our home but her quick change of demeanor has almost fooled me into believing that indeed I could continue to play out the rehearsed role of the surprised and anxious young child, ready to rip open the distastefully designed wrapping paper from their boxes.

I catch my mother’s inner dialogue several times, especially when I glance up at her from the worn, camel colored carpet as I continue to peel away the carefully taped edges of my gifts. If she knew that I know… the usually sickly, sweet event of receiving toys and games and books and dolls might not be so excruciatingly painful and awkward. Again and again, my sisters and I feign glee with tight smiles and forced laughs. My mother and father do the same. I slyly watch my father out of the corner of my big, brown eye: sitting in his work jeans, exposing his bare and hairy chest, slightly shifting in the larger sofa, and suddenly I understand our unspoken dependency- even though each party thinks it has an empathetic edge over the other.

I hear my dad exclaim, “Oh, cool!” and then gradually taper off his typical dramatic display of approval with a throaty chuckling that makes his whole body shudder. My father tends to do this and I consciously accept his attempt to be happy as genuine. And then I open another present and my mother nods her head. She whispers, “Nice…” and I’m so close to bursting out into the tears that I denied before. All I want to scream out loud is: “What now? Why won’t you tell me?” and “Where do we go from here?” My brain tries to thoroughly comprehend the situation; I want to have my holiday but I realize that there’s so much more ahead to come.


lonely friday night

A black cat sits on the white windowsill

sun drying the fine hairs of the feline

reflecting rays back towards the big fiery star

It dips below the Brooklyn horizon

past disabled watersheds and questionable antennae

The television drips sounds of news

Mucus to the ears and mind

The repetition of the story blurs third eye vision

and tests the morality of the masses

in complete secrecy.

“This necklace is $2,500” and although it is vintage

you cannot trick me into buying it.

It’s longevity

will not appease my angst

or sanctify my sorrow.

What time will you come home tonight?

The question begs an answer as I write this poem.

As I take up some time

as I try, hopelessly, to find something meaningful to do.

to ilicia

An hourglass shape

She is small

But full of acrylic paint

And Polaroids

And antennae

Jut out from her

Casting a rainbow aura

Around a blonde heap of beauty

From her lips smoke drifts

And words of reassurance and confusion

Are gift wrapped

As god’s words

I wonder what she dreams at night

If anything

Behind hard, gray eyes

Her photographs from yonder years

Whisper memories stamped in time

And conversations branded in souls

Her spirit coasts here and there

a file cabinet of “where to get it”

a textile

a crayon

a picture frame

announces an encyclopedia of subculture wonders…

beneath the brown boxes of knick knacks

and oddball ends

there is a warm creature


yet withstanding

the test of life

ready to lend a body

to anyone in dire and not so dire need

a friend and cherished woman indeed