Desirable Weights for Men

— Dennis Richardson

I’m at my chiropractor’s office when
I see this list of men’s heights
And weights.  It’s not a strange
sight to see in his office, but

When I stop and think of the thought,
What comes back for me is, desirable
For what?  I mean if you’re going
Dancing you might not want a fat slob.

Or skiing, you might prefer someone
Who knows how to ski and not
Someone who looks good in
The outfit.  Of course I knew that.

But I couldn’t resist the temptation
To point it out.  But I mean desirous
Is such a loaded word.  People are
Always attracted to what they

Desire, even a streetcar.  As old
As I am, desire still gets a look or two
From me and don’t say I’m too old.

Numbers

— Dennis Richardson

In the real world,
As in the Real number system,
There are the Rationals and the Irrationals:
Those numbers that follow the rules set by time,
March in formations of fractions and decimals,
Salute equations and formulas in the mathematics parade,
And then the other ones, the ones that refuse to be square,
Go on and on about the roots of their problems,
Make it difficult to get a finite answer
When you really need one.

Enter the complex world,
And the Complex number system
Consisting of the Real and Imaginary numbers
Where mathematicians have created the benign number “i”
Which allows them to do mysterious things
Like take the square root of a negative number,
Not allowed in the Reals
But apparently, like poets, occur naturally in our universe,
Nonetheless.

Since time began and numbers started counting,
mathematics, being somehow wed to the universe,
spirals through our star studded galaxies and into our lives
where, like variables in an algorithm, we go on our half-walks,
between the limits of birth and death,
toward another infinity, possibly with strings attached,
hoping against hope that our poems will be remembered,
in spite of the numbers
against us.

At Tartines Corner Bakery Café in San Francisco

— Dennis Richardson

Across the street in the second floor bay window
Stands a woman in a red sweater on the phone
Looking down at the café like she wished she were here.
A waitress, wrapped in her summer towel-like skirt,
Semidredlocked hair pulled back in its semidredlocked tail,
Circulates through the crowd looking for a missing person.
Next to me a man reads the Metro as he drinks
His cappuccino picking at the fingers of his bear claw,
Oblivious of the child counting the wrinkles on his forehead.
Tables, crowded with people sharing spaces,
Friends, lovers, singles, some with babies, dogs, books
All loosely held in place by the static electricity
Generated by the friction of our thoughts.
A woman with her green sparkle purse enters.
Everything stops. There is something about the way
She looks at the eclairs like she is eating their brown
Chocolate coats with her eyes. The soft powdered snow
On the cream puffs beginning to melt.
Satisfied for the moment, I finish my cup of coffee, put on my
Cap and blank face and head out into the deceptive world
Where everything that is good is sometimes bad,
Where I sometimes say no when I really want to say yes.

Something New for Spring

—Dennis Richardson

The Spring wind just blew in some words
ahead of my Muse.  Its a mystery how these things work.
But what more can be said about Spring…

Some of the new neon green leaves can turn an old guy on,
they’re so full of energy.

My Muse said that, I didn’t.

And look how the cherry tree blossoms peek around
the garage with their pinkish makeup on.

Not again.  I was going to say the pinkish white snow is already beginning to fall too soon.

That’s what Spring does: flirts with you and then leaves you hanging
before you can steal a kiss.

What’s with you? Stop that.

Oh sure.  I thought you wanted a Spring poem with
something that hadn’t been said before instead of:
Oh see the pretty…
You have seen the trees with the little ends of their
twigs turned up, haven’t you?

Well yes, but-
Don’t play coy.
What do you mean, I’m a man not a tree.
Really?
Oh for God sake.
And the rosebuds don’t remind you of anything?
No! No they don’t!
And what’s that ice bucket with the bottle of wine in it
and two glasses doing over there?

Well, I was feeling good and thought we might…

 What?

This Autumn 2015

— Dennis Richardson

A three-year drought has put everything
On hold, even our breaths’. Some hope
El Nino will save us, fires taking their tolls,
Nature not seeming to know what to do.

I haven’t told my wife yet but every morning,
While she’s asleep, I go out to see Venus.  She
Is radiant.  A few days ago though, I saw her
Lying in the crescent arms of the moon.
I was so envious.

This morning, looking up at Venus, there were
Six white bellies with wings in a vee, then,
At least twenty more joined them, going south,
And my heart took heart, again.

I decided right then to go with them and rushed back
Into the house to get my white belly and wings
And kiss my wife good-bye.  Venus, here I come.

With A Little Bit

—Dennis Richardson

My horoscope said “lessons in luck
Are coming your way.”  How lucky can you get.
“But you have to love the paradox of luck”, it said.
Good luck with that.  I don’t even believe in luck
Or horoscopes for that matter, I just read them and laugh.

Besides, I was waiting for my poetry muse to appear
When I clicked on this icon and voila she appeared.
I had already written the first four lines of this poem
To maybe be, so was that lucky or was it just waiting
For me to pick it?

I would say “lucky, shmucky” but now I’m thinking
Maybe I could look at this as a possible first lesson in luck.
Just before, I had glanced at a picture of nine of my ten
Grandchildren, four I’m not even related to but dearly
Love them all.  What a gift this is, Are and Aren’t mixed
Together in a special blend of paradox.

Good grief, what have I done?  Did I just say I love
The paradox of luck?  How many more lessons are there?
Does this mean I have to believe my horoscopes too?
Wow, is this lucky or unlucky?

Flirting With God

—Dennis Richardson

Scientists say space wasn’t here before the Big
Bang, that space opened with the Big Bang along
with the Universe, everything simultaneously.


As a child I said all my “lay me downs,”
blessed all the dogs and a few cats,
waited for what I asked for to happen, happen.

Even Stephen Hawking says there was nothing
before the Big Bang or else what was would be
going in the opposite direction from us.

What happened, though, were mostly things I never
mentioned, like the divorce, which was good and bad.
But that’s just how things are, I guessed.

Scientists now say our Earth will disappear
into our Sun in about twelve billion years
without even a trace of what was here.

My grandmother said her mother died last night.
She had pictures of Hop-along Cassidy taped all around
The very top of her bedroom walls to look at while in bed.  

The Universe should stay, though it is
predicted to collapse again with
the possibility of  another singularity.

I hope I get the English racing bicycle I
mentioned last night soon, then I can beat
Gary Carlyle around the block for sure.

Ukelele Charlie

—Dennis Richardson

                                       Remembering Charles Schultz

Sometimes I’m Charlie Brown when I just can’t stand it.
Other times I’m Snoopy flying a mission in my
Sop-with Camel to find some root beer.
I’m always Lucy ready to give advice for five cents.
Linus is my brother waiting in a pumpkin patch
For the Great Pumpkin to come.

But today I’m myself here on a cruise ship going to Hawaii.
It’s billed as a ukulele cruise so more people will come
I think. I’m standing alone on the balcony of my room.
The wind is blowing, the ocean covered with white caps.
Suddenly the sky is ringed by clouds of questions
And so am I, like, what am I doing here?

I don’t even like the ukulele and can’t read a note of music.
The water is really rough now, the ship leaning from side to side.
Someone said the horizon is ten miles away in all directions.
I’m out of here, down to the lowest deck for a real drink at the bar
When I see the little redheaded girl coming my way.
Oh good grief! She’s got a ukulele. I just can’t stand it!

Thursday’s Poem Has Far To Go

—Dennis Richardson

I started with Thursday’s Poem as the title,
Which reminded me of Thursday’s Child
Has far to go, which seemed to fit
For the first word I thought I would write
On my journey of a thousand words.

I checked my birthday day, Wednesday.
Now I’ve got two kids with me, one
Full of woe and one who has far to go.
Why couldn’t I have been fair of face
Or full of grace or loving and giving,
Even, works hard for a living…

But today, like any other day,
Children unknowingly wander
In and out of all the days of the week,
Free to do so, while we oldies go
About our assigned character’s
Rhyme as if it is our fate,

Not thinking we can change it:
My mother worked hard for a living;
My father, full of woe. Kids today
Probably haven’t heard of the days
Of the week tied to their fortune-telling
Rhyme of 1883.

I worry though about their ear-buds,
What rhymes they are hearing,
Who and what messages they are texting to
And receiving from, no words from their
Lips for us to hear.

Moment to Moment

—Dennis Richardson

Sitting in the darkness of our breakfast nook,
very early in the morning,
before the sun has done its magic,
I raise the blind.

All I can see is the horizon of the fence.
Above it, the empty color of night,
no stars, no street lights.
I think: this is the color of death.

There was a home, next door,
where a family with three children
once lived.  Then, only the mother
was there,  died there,
the home demolished.
We miss her.

A light goes on in the home
across the now vacant lot.
The very top of a tall redwood tree
just beginning to show in the far distance.
Like a god, it stands there
watching time, its every second,
new moments born.

The dark is melting into its rainbow of life
as the sun returns.
Its joy to the world colors
now trimming my thoughts.

The foundation of a new home,
there all the time.
Across the street,
Christmas is on its way here, again.

Like It Or Not (At “As You Like It”)

— Dennis Richardson

This little pink flower
Is gathered in tiny green leaves,
A small butterfly-like insect
Darts from flower to flower
While the cars on the street honk
And swerve around the dog,
A black and white Springer spaniel
Who wants to chase the orange cat.

Did you see the cat?  One poet
Called it marmalade, another, carrot.
Yes, we are here too with our words,
Our poems, the gibbous face of the man
In the moon starring down at us
Not knowing what to say until the poet
Says it for him: “Live, love.”
Our words wonders in themselves.

Last night, the world, Shakespeare’s stage,
Reached for life and love,
Its players playing our parts for us
Like our poems, words that enter and exit
Stage right or left, wherever the heart is,
The message: live and love
Before the old man in the moon loses his way,
Before man’s seventh age sans everything.

Love Letters

— Dennis Richardson

Taken alphabetically, you could easily say
The main love letters are e,i,l,o,u,v and always y.
You have to have a y. You will be hard pressed
to find better love letters than these.

I mean, right away you can eliminate z.
I can’t think of any word of love that has a z.
And I am also inclined to throw out k.
Some might argue for “kiss” but then you

have to contend with “kick”, as in, “kick out”,
and of course the f-word, which some say
is an ugly little word and therefore has to go
but come to think of it you can’t make love
without a “k” and love is what this is all about.
It has to stay.

I’m afraid the long a has to go though. “Hate” is not
a word you want to meet on a date, but make has
a long “a” too, damn. Okay, we’ll keep it but x, as in,
“the ex” has to go, the letter brings misery to everyone,
even in algebra, so, from now on you can only “make love”,

not have “sex”, unless, of course, your just on a sexy date.
That’s not necessarily love yet. And remember,
people suffer from broken hearts all the time, probably
caused by repeatedly rereading old love letters.

I recommend you don’t write love letters on paper
any more, as per the above. The only kind of love
letters you should be writing are the ones you write
on the beach in the sand.

They can’t be used against you later and if they get
washed away, you can really impress him or her
by rewriting them, even larger this time.

Our Fish Pond

— Dennis Richardson

I am hesitant to go into their home
Uninvited, to leave my deep foot
Prints on their gentle green carpet;

To break that shiny surface
Of trust, the double-sided window
That separates our two worlds.

In winter when I am by the pond
The fish rush to where they were
Fed in summer even though they

Will not eat. But the filters must be
Cleaned and the water plants thinned.
I step in carefully so as not to scare

Them, any sudden movement and
They bolt. But once in the water,
They begin to nibble on my knees.

Amen

 — Dennis Richardson

This poem should begin:  In the beginning there was
only positive and negative and as you know, they are
attracted to each other. Over time, as they mutated to good
and bad, became joined at the hips, everything we know
today was created. I don’t know what happened
to the neutrons, maybe they became Independents.

But today, if I stand in front of a mirror and if my head is backlit
I can see the curvature of the earth through the thinning
forest of my hair. I stand in amazement at the thought of it:
The earth my head, my head the earth; God saying let there
be light, forgetting to say “and something to keep his hair
on his head”.  Not that that’s evil but it’s not like the trees
in autumn either, their leaves come back.

But when God entered the picture, sometime much later,
so did evil, not that there hadn’t been evil doings before,
or that there weren’t bad things being done, but that there
were and are things being done then and today which are
much better than good in the way that evil is much worse
than bad. You know evil is just devil minus the “d”.

I want a word to honor the greatness of better than good.
I am looking for a word to counteract the word evil.
Don’t ask my why, I just think it has to be here, a secular
word at the other end of the rainbow of life, the extremes
we live between.  The universe is like that: the day speaks
of night just before it blows out its candle.

I know it is here, not ngel, angel minus the “a” but a word like
Elan, something to say we have arrived at this place in time
where we know we are or have done better than good,
better for mankind, better for the earth, my head, if not my hair.

Fate

— Dennis Richardson

I awoke angry this morning, dismayed by the funk of Fate,
the class I took yesterday about Greek tragedies.  This morning,
I drove to the gym, angry at the woman who didn’t signal a right
which held me up to go left.  Later I thought I may not have signaled
either and if I was angry at her I had to be angry at myself too.  Not
wanting to be angry at anyone, I apologized to all of us.

At the class, the teacher had said: I want to see a show of hands:
how many of you feel you have gotten to this place in your life
by Free Will; by Fate?  The count for free will greatly
out-numbered fate.  He said usually it goes the other way,
except when you’re a student here at Stanford. I had voted free will
and wondered how the Greeks would vote now.

He said:  “The Greeks believed it was Fate, they thought
your character was your destiny, your destiny your character
and thus, your Fate.” I changed my vote, knowing Freud would
have said fate; knowing the Tragedies were just a setup
to prove their point, but, still, maybe true, knowing I am
driven to drive myself, my unconscious steering.

In fact, it’s probably the reason a man marries his mother,
who isn’t his mother, which Freud mistakenly called Oedipal,
making things more complex than they already were, because:
she thinks he’s her father, which isn’t true either, when really
both are just trying to work out unsolved family and/or personal
issues which began way before in this ocean of time and sex.

So, I drove myself here, as it seems we are all destined to do,
tempting the consequences of our good or bad Fates, the world awash
in ignorance and misunderstanding, good and evil always traveling
together.  So it’s like the therapist said to the therapee at their last
session:  “Do you still shit in your pants?” Who answered: “Yes, I do,
but now I know why.”

Feelings You Know Inside

— Dennis Richardson

I woke this morning thinking of black and white,
what Thomas Cahill said yesterday.  He has found,
in his studies that there are only two movements
in the world: kindness and cruelty.

I had wanted to write a poem today, an idea I had
yesterday while sitting at a tall bar table at a friends
home. It faced the bay more than half hidden
by a giant  pine tree that refused to move.

I can’t believe now that I wanted to sit up high to look
down, like a king, at my subjects. They were only words
needing predicates, a play on words, but now that my jaw
and mind are so set against cruelty, the joke’s on me.

I open the blinds to find a black morning, close them
until later when I can see lightness.  It’s six thirty,
I need to start some oatmeal when I catch the glimmer
of a gold cloud beginning to burn outside in the back yard.

I hurry over to open the blinds in the front again, to sit
in the majesty of this morning; the slow baby-blue
sky of it growing deeper; trees and houses appearing
like they weren’t there before and the little two-year-old

girl toddling down the sidewalk with her grandma’s smile.
No, that was two days ago, before I heard Cahill speak,
before the little girl toddled into the kindness or cruelty
of that day.

Now I’m thinking of the slaves, subjects and some, if not
most, workers today. How they have to depend on supply
and demand.  How lately they can’t even negotiate a fair
wage; the poverty of today and our huge economic divide.

Ironically I’m seated in front of a monitor to write this poem
looking straight at my subjects, not down at, not wanting to be
part of anything the cruel faction might do or say about their
subjects, their direct or indirect objects who are not objects at all

Mary Merry Christmas

— Dennis Richardson

Mary Christmas,
that was the name,
spelled M, A, R, Y,
my father, Mr. Christmas,
gave to my sister.

I’m sure it wasn’t a joke,
my father a serious man.
In fact he would say: what else
Could you name a daughter
With the last name of Christmas.

Sometimes he just can’t
contain himself, so fond of
saying, Merry Christmas
Mary Christmas, all season
long.  But she never complains.

Mother, however, likes to say
Mary Merry Christmas.
We are never quite sure which
merry precedes the other.
She doesn’t appear to know either.

I seem to have been somewhat luckier
In the naming category, although
How could he have resisted Nicholas.
My nick name is Nick, of course, and
Dad always precedes it with an S, T.

On Naming the Animals

— Dennis Richardson

For Marie Howe

Everyone forgets that Adam
Was new to this, that he had just
Been touched by God
Was still a little tingly,
Surprised even by his own voice.
But it was something the Lord
Said he had to do.
So as the sun rose on this, the sixth day,
His side still killing him,
He looked about for Eve,
Found a note that said
Something about a snake.
Just then the ground began to shake
There were roars and cries
He had never heard before.
Breakfast would have to wait.

I can just see him there now
Presiding at the line of the nameless,
As it formed according to height,
Seeing the penguins acting so upset about
Not being able to fly with those wings;
Sensing how disgruntled the donkey was
At being called an ass;
Eve stopping by with something called apples,
The just named horses loving them,
Then mentioning something about new tallow
Candles as she left.

You can imagine how bewildered and tired
He must have felt
Returning home so late.
His reluctance
To go with Eve to the bedroom
To have something
She had just named sex.

Hearing Voices

— Dennis Richardson

When I asked my new levi’s if they knew
they were going to St. Petersburg today.
They answered “Da” with their little zipper lips.
It was then that I knew pants could walk  and talk.

Later, I saw a rainbow and asked it not to rain
on my new levi’s, I didn’t want my thighs to turn blue.
The rainbow told me I had better take an umbrella then.
That’s when I knew there was reason in the universe.

I have been working with my psyche lately. It has always
been a little offish but worse recently.  I can’t seem
to wrap my head around the reason why Congress
won’t congress with Congress.  It’s October 9th, 2013,

have they reached a new debt ceiling yet?  My levi’s
get the blues just thinking about it.  Here in St. Petersburg,
the sun is making black lace of a tree as it sets orange behind it,
darkness quickly falling to say what darkness always says.

Unlucky At Love

— Dennis Richardson

The lemon tree is coming back.
I don’t know where it’s been going
But it’s been going for the last five months
Like the moon these last five days,
Disguised as a gibbous cloud in the mornings,
Growing smaller and smaller.

My wife is coming back too.
I hope I recognize her, it’s been three days.
A lot can happen in three days:
Yesterday the temperature soared to 105f
From 102f in just 10 minutes.
And she keeps calling every 10 mins.
Saying there are delays but she won’t
Say where or what.

I asked her if she was with
The lemon tree or saw the heat rise.
I have a hunch she’s going steady with the moon
Or maybe it’s just a phase she’s going through.
I’ll know tomorrow morning if I see them together.
She could have told me though,
What with the heat and the need for lemons.
I am so counting on the moon to still be there
And alone.