Tag Archives: Winter

Current working conditions

Too cold for the burglars.
They could wear coats I suppose,
but the wind is racing, unrelenting,
and only the most professional of thieves
would force themselves out
of their own house and into yours
to do half a night’s work.

We’ll put the alarm on,
but more from habit than expectation
it’ll see any trade.

Burglars are people too,
subject to weather and other interference.
A getaway car that won’t start.
Sudden holes in the gloves.
An allergic reaction to long-haired pets.

Imagine the Careers Counselor years before:
“Scared of the dark and a fear of heights?
Hardly the tools for a Roof & Window man.
Are you sure you won’t consider extortion or blackmail?
White collar crime’s only getting bigger,
some of my boys are doing just fine with mail fraud.”

Sneak thieves operate well enough
in daylight even when it’s cold,
although fewer doors are left open,
but you have to wonder
if the darkness robbers
keep an eye on the forecast
for nights like these
hoping the wife doesn’t lay out
that long underwear on the bed, saying
“Find something heavy to steal,
you’ll soon warm up.”

Hanging around, all that hiding in the bushes
or in a parked car (engine and heater off),
waiting for the bathroom light,
the bedroom light, to finally go dark.

Avoid readers, those who stay up
their nose in a book, their ears wide open.
You want the talk-show crowd
fallen asleep heavily halfway before the end.

Probably best to burgle happy people,
less likely to bump into them,
up and worried, walking the halls.
But there’s no need to worry tonight,
unless you’re a thief and behind on your rent.
Record lows in Texas mean that only the most desperate
will be out working.

The rest will be at home
with their disappointed wives
their dogs and dreams,
all the alarms left unrequited.



Late on a Monday night
and beneath a bed
(large enough to cause
the muscles in the back
of a middle-aged man
to become badly twisted
when he tries to lift it)
a stray cat hides in the exact
center as though the spot there
was measured by machinery
far more expensive than this ordinary
household will ever afford.

As a consequence
of the effort required
to remove this shabby animal
from the place it hoped
would afford a warm reprieve
from a Texan night in January
the bed frame is separated
from the little coasters its feet stand on
and many pillows
are scattered on the floor
as if crumpled clouds
unhooked from their regular sky.

Foolishly (and having consigned
the stray cat to the darkness)
a father with his back stiffening
mentions over a mother’s shoulder
to a ten year old boy
lying in another bed altogether
the details of his previous struggle
and thus does the boy
in a desperate effort to delay
a similar erasure of the light
beg for a moment
to see the wreckage for himself.

The mother suggests otherwise
but in doing so (suggesting,
rather than denying the request
with proper and sufficient authority)
she signals to the child
that his way up the stairs
to his parents’ bedroom
is in fact wide open
and within the single minute
it takes for the father to leave
and then come back again
the boy seizes his chance to run.

Later, not much later,
(but in a little while longer
than both parents’ naively anticipate)
the child hears the father’s footsteps finally
coming up the uncarpeted stairs
to find his son and this sound
causes the boy to suddenly appear
and in passing and casually
does he hold up his right hand
and mention he is cut
and indeed it appears most certainly
that blood is thereby leaking.

It transpires (beyond the wall
the father is listening through)
that the boy had become distracted
by a pair of scissors
and attempted
to cut open an item
encased in plastic packaging
and it was this unnecessary task
that led him to the little snip
(that consumer’s circumcision)
deeply and across his fingertip
that his mother pale and aflutter
now tries to staunch.

All the while and as the clock ticks
the boy explains the event
and commentates in great detail
as to the mother’s remedial actions.
He asks to lick the Neosporin
that is applied to the wound
and apologizes politely
when his request is angrily rejected.
All in all it is a good test
for his worried mother
who is completely torn between
his injury and evident procrastination.

In the dark of the garden
the stray cat observes the bathroom light
and the racoons that are gathering
and the possum that may have leprosy
according to an article in the local paper
the cat has certainly not read.
A train goes by its whistle blowing
while the temperature continues to fall
and Fate glides on thinking to itself alone
how people only consider its presence
in times of great or dreadful import
when in fact it is always and everywhere at work.

Winter in Texas

Put six
in a pot

in memory
of a day

we did not
swim but
would have

if the pool
had been
at all open

to our wants
of water
when instead

we walked
like hobbled
men without

horse heads
down again
and through

the slaughter
of another
dry hour

but soon
and when
the crocuses

in Maine
are still
months from

we will
empty out

that little
to declare

the first wet
day to be
free as if

we might
also then