Standby

Sitting in my car
I see the yellow truck pull up
I turn to look
yes there you are, beside me
fixing me with that stare
from behind those dark aviator glasses
that brooding downward expression
furrowed brow, set jaw
It’s hard to turn away
but as the cars start to move
I put my car in gear and drive on
and when we pull away, I don’t get out
when I do, I don’t go upstairs
instead I stand at the railing
watching the white crests of the waves
breaking as we go

twelve

(for Richard)

I picture you at twelve
at your father’s funeral
crew-cut and awkward
in your big suit
I wish I’d known you then
I would have put my arms around you
and taken away the pain
not a man yet
not a little boy either
just a form, a shape
of the man to come
if I could have erased the hurt, the loss
could you have loved me then

Harrowing

a tight rope stretched
across the glistening water.
she would get up on it again
and again
never to reach the other side
only occasionally making it
into the safety net
did you even see
the panic
you created in her eyes?
you, who built beautiful towers,
only to leave them
lying
crumbling
in ruins.

R. Laban

Ways

she sits listening
to the sounds
all around her
the squeaks of the old
walls where she lives
humming
and the antennae wire hitting the window
the sounds out there
the sounds in here
people talking to her
him telling her he loves her
and then taking it back
in a thousand ways

R. Laban

Women

I think about the women
I played with as a child
the ones we made believe we were
Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor
the ones we play now
lover,singer, muse
the women in the next room
black leotard, gold earrings
lips moving
window full of snow
closet full of dreams
houseful of sorrows

La Vagabonde

(dedicated to Colette)

As she takes off her costume
she contemplates
life's meaning
strife in the Middle East
and next door
her next meal
why he had to leave
what she has to fear
and the destination of
a small solitary
tear rolling
down the side of her face
and onto the table
where she sits
and stares
as she takes off her costume

R. Laban

Destination unknown

been stationed here
six nites
how much longer
do we have to wait
for reinforcements
to sit in the shade of the Sun
and cry at the Moon
Encouragement takes
many forms
just a word
a mere inflection
detection from
disguise
disgust

Strands

I awake and see our hair
lying on the pillow
together
the same dark color
intwined
indistinguishable
from each other

A short

a picture
of an old woman
rests in my memory
tho i don't know
if i ever met her
i felt her disguise
her demise
as my own

Closing

you come in late
and wait around
for the place to close
sometimes you look impatient
people leave
with their new-found loves
I study your face
those eyes
that started it all

Driving home

Encased
in your Volkswagon
you grumble
about the distance
to drive me home
and I think of
how far
we have really gone
the vibrations
of the car
on the bumpy road
jar me back
and I feel you hand
on my thigh
and I wonder why I go on
loving you

R Laban

After leaving

I walk down the steps
and halfway up the block
the comparisions began
you creep in
you who was suppossed
to be erased
washed away
stand bold
as bright
as the color red
next to a
pale yellow

R. Laban