Tools of the Trade


The heat rises like waves of boredom,

billowing streams of steam from a pot

that holds the wilting cauliflower

            (or is it broccoli again?)

in its stainless steel petals,

and from the oven sounds of sizzling

emanate like derisive hissing

            (or maybe asparagus?)

from the quickly broiling steaks that lay,

drowning in their own melted fat

            (as she tells herself and her husband

             that she is doing

             because she has still not lost that final five pounds

             she gained while carrying the baby)

as she frequently peers at them through the murky window

to make sure they don't get over-done because,

although he wants dinner ready and on the table

as soon as he walks through the door,

he likes his beef no more than medium rare.


And, just as she notices

she left the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the carpet

            (which is getting a bit worn,

             but they certainly can't afford to replace it now)

and thinks that she ought to put it away,

the baby starts crying again

and her nipples start throbbing from the mere thought

of having to feed her again -- and so soon! --

just when she has to set the table.

Yet she can't have the baby making a fuss

right in the middle of dinner.


And, oh, Christ!

She was going to put the wine in the freezer

because the 'fridge hasn't been chilling very well lately,

but now it's only minutes before he'll walk through the door

and throw his briefcase on the living room sofa

            (the only new piece of furniture

             she's been able to buy in nearly two years)

and peer through that murky oven door and say:

"God!  I've had a hard day at that damn office.

What's for dinner?"



Silent Suffering

She waits, increasing in her dread,

for what she fears will happen

when he tires of his marital bed,

and wonders what she’ll have then.

She’s seen it happen once before—

although another caused the sore

by going off to find a whore—

and is sure it will again.


He’s given cause to start her fears

(although the case was altered),

and, ‘though he’s tried quite hard for years,

she thinks that he has faltered.

She wants to ask him if it’s true,

but hates her options if she knew,

so hopes that looks and sighs will do

to make her silent call heard.


But there exists no proof as yet

of his supposed treason,

and she would certainly regret

condemning without reason.

And so she nags and frets about,

wond’ring what she’d do without

this silent suffering and doubt

that grows with each new season.


And … he enjoys her tragic plight!

Because he know he has not erred;

but, still, he knows that he just might

if the right situation occurred.

Perhaps he would sin out of spite,

or to fill up a lonely night,

or he may just think it’s his right

to go wherever he’s lured.



The Leopard’s New Spots

So long and lean, so fast and mean,

Racing along through the tall, cool green.

Living for pleasure, life was only a game;

To hunt or to play, to me, were the same.


I never felt lonely and never knew fear,

Nor ever thought past the end of the year;

The life of a cat seemed totally sweet,

Until I killed that damn, stray sheep.


Of course it was foolish; I had my own range,

But this leopard’s taste required a change.

And, oh! it was easy; with no one around,

The sheep bleated out the most tempting of sounds.


Ah, yes, I knew the act was forbidden,

But I was so sure that my crime would stay hidden.

And what did I care for morality?

The only judge that I thought of was me.


What of the Shepard that tended the flock?

Oh, me … how I wish I could turn back the clock!

How mindlessly we sometimes offend,

Assuming the wounds of others will mend.


Why couldn’t she think it has just strayed away;

Why must she find that old carcass one day?

But find it she did, and burned with a fury

That even this leopard trembled to see.


She cried out for vengeance and picked up a gun,

And all I could think of was that I must run;

It mattered not where, but I had to go fast,

And hope that he anger soon would have passed.


But she could not forget, and would not forgive

Until one—or both—of us ceased to live.

Her weapons were stronger than those of a cat,

And this once-proud hunter became a trapped rat.


She steadily stalked me, and fired at will,

Until I cried out with a voice that was shrill:

“Perhaps I am stupid; I’m only a cat,

But surely you will not destroy me for that?


“A leopard looks different from your upright form,

But I have emotions; my heart is still warm.

I deeply regret that I hurt you, I swear;

This primitive beast was just unaware.


“And, think of yourself—your life’s also at stake:

If you commit murder, will your heart not break?

It will only destroy that for which you have yearned;

I’m merely a beast, but that much I’ve learned!


“Please give me a chance to correct my flaws;

This running has already worn out my claws,

And the wildness in me has rapidly tamed.

Won’t you give me a chance to prove what I’ve claimed?”


But she did not believe, or heard not a word,

For a leopard’s snarl was all that she heard.

And, as she approached, I knew with sick dread,

This leopard’s new spots would come with hot lead.

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