I believed at seven
that given the chance
I could be Shirley Temple.
I could dance and sing
and cry at will
and I most certainly could
pull off curls
if my mother would only
show some effort.

By nine
I’d outgrown the ruffles
but Hayley Mills and I
had much in common.
I could squint and bite my lip
and spout that classy English.
On top of that
her hair was hideous.

In sixty-five I pierced my ears
Inspired and heartened
though briefly
by Mia Farrow
delicate and equally

In just one year
as classmates cried
for poor Zhivago
I wept in defeat
abandoned my Hollywood dream
before sixteen
Julie Christie smiled
and I knew my limits.


It was that British actor –
the intensity of the eyes
deranged some might say
offset with kindness in the curve of the mouth
that combination of benevolence
and psychosis
that appeals as a rule
to cautious women.

I saw him on the page of a magazine
the previous bored business traveler
had abandoned on the train
leaping laughing
hair like Jesus
and I’ve always had a thing for hippie hair
in my fantasy life.

He had played a villain
in recent release
with passionless quiet menace
designed in its restraint to terrify.

But that day near Bridgeport
he offered spontaneous and genuine delight
or perhaps he acted it.
I cannot tell deceit in car salesmen
or cheating lovers
let alone
oft-nominated Shakespearean liars.

No matter.
I rationalized the book
nto my sober briefcase
(For my next commute)
from there to desk drawer.
(too heavy to carry)

I referenced him frequently
s I calculated the present value
of future contracts
scores of scores critical on that day
or for a week at most
then filed and forgotten
as opposed to the issue
which fell open unaided
to page fifty-four.


The old Sylvania
Had three channels
Though one was ghosted
It didn’t matter those few cold days
They were the same
Stricken citizens
Anguished newsmen
Speaking softly over repeated images
I stood more than sat
Before the grainy pictures
My hands to my mouth
When the accused was murdered
In my own living room
I decided it didn’t happen
Threw out the papers
Burned the scrapbook

On Main Street that summer
I stopped before the record store
Where in the window
The President’s photo
Framed in black
Gathered dust
This is too long I thought
For my dream

And so he died for me
In June
And not November


Bad news

Says the vet.

He has perhaps two weeks.

My accounting brain calculates

A life that’s ninety-nine

Point eight percent


He sleeps inside the arc I make.

Twenty years now, we spoon.

I wish with some shame

That he finishes like this.

I touch him; he breathes.

Now two weeks pass, now three.

He exceeds his point two percent.

Here he comes in precarious shuffle.

I’ve opened the fridge.