Monthly Archives: May 2015

May poems

Only five poems this month. The kitchen one, though, is really long, took almost all month to complete as the project progressed. I’m not sure it’s a proper poem at all. See for yourself.


Roy possessed
aslave in the kitchen
Kim and guests
on patio sipping
overlook the valley
the food when ready
painted on plates
(Roy’s son a chef
schooled the new ways)
this day tenderloin
Green Egg grilled
coffee smoke finish
a perfect dark rose
carved & paired
fondant potato
crisp and creamy
matching zucchini
stuffed and roasted.

Champagne and wine
toast Colin and Sherry
five months back selling
vagabonds still
sweating the lowlands
little by little
shedding their stuff
finally, enough
for now they say
back to the States
a father needs tending
a century living
here our first friends
Colin fluent in Spanish
easing the path
of new arrivals
hard to grasp
they’ll be gone.

A Saturday morning

A man in light
khaki pants
a blue shirt
machete in coffee
hacks wild shade.

Wind singing the pines
hooooo a paloma
slowly beating
a lone Leopoldo
sanding the walls.


Stop at the soda
need a quart of milk
four open umbrellas
cluster at the door.

On the street coming out
a wrinkled couple
two women and three
three generations
umbrellas held walking.

Blue and black
patterned and purple
the road down the hill
holding back the drizzle.

A Sunday morning

Rain purrs softly
constant through the night.
Cool of the morning
fog curls upcanyon.
Coffee slopes lie still
seventh day untended.

The kitchen

A Friday beginning

After noon William
and Roger take out
the old cabinets
framing the refrigerator
emptied and ready.
Roger asks but they’re
already promised
some to Marlene
redoing her kitchen
uppers to Jack
for his new shop.


The plants around
the outside steps
orchids and ferns
and begonias and others
dug up and taken
down to the greenhouse
they line the shelves
and hang from above
till time to return home
beneath restored stairs.


A little after six
Marco and crew show
New Jersey José
speaks a little English
José and Leopoldo
lugging their tools.
Kitchen cabinets all
gotta go, but first
stuff left inside
chucked into boxes.
Hole in the concrete
wall cut and chiseled
house filled with dust
at day’s end chaos
no kitchen share dinner
with Jack and Mareena.
The stairs will wait
for Bernal to finish
the work up at Jake’s.



Workers arrive early
in a swarm of swifts
quick cover the sofas
electronics with sheets
to ward off the polvo.
Leopoldo cuts channels
for switches and outlets
hangs out the window
face and hair powdered white
gasping for breath
mask dangling futile
entreating in Spanish
for a fresh cutting disk
means a trip down the hill
Ferreteria Los Angeles.


Asdrubal and Umberto
strip off the granite
Olman and Diego his son
wrestle and load
the slabs on a trailer
pulled behind a blue tractor
new for Marlene.
The sink and faucet
go down to the casita
the cut-out in the counter
needing enlarged
we’ll do it right now
the granite guys insist.
Reset the faucet
for years been leaking
lacking a washer
silicon it in.
Old drains will work
but need to be shortened
lacking the fitting
Umberto cuts the PVC
melts the ends
over a burning rag
squeezes softened ends together
pipes macgyvered.


New block wall done
a chimney on the outside.
New Jersey works repello
the other José patches
and sands walls inside
The electrician pulls wires.
Dogs give up
pad down to the casita
away from the dust
and day-long disruption.


Orchids and ferns
framing the front door
under the eves
get a hose shower.
The furniture moved out
wiped clean put back.
Ligia and Marlene
help to expunge
a week’s worth of grit
get the house back in order.
Dinner at Isabel’s.


Light crew today
Leopoldo and José
to finish the plaster
ready for painting.
Police the grounds.
All week the work
in the warm and dry
leave at noon
as skies darken.

Week 2, Monday

New Jersey José
alone patching tile
painting the walls
on break he asks
if we ever go back.
No never the answer
too hot too cold
too busy too ugly
the people, mad.
José remembers
noise and police.
Aqui es tranquillo
lilt of thrushes
singing the morning
the lush the green
the afternoon rain.

Week 2, Tuesday

New Jersey shows solo
on his black motorcycle
to paint the bump out
now looking like
was always there.
Inside the floor tile
patched and grouted
kitchen at last
empty and clean
ready for install.
Just as he leaves
aguaceros let loose
over three inches
under three hours.

Week 2, Wednesday

No work to do
the ladies clean
take pictures down
wipe of dust
and dead bugs
rehang and straighten.
Refer set in place
into its new cubby
the stove on its wall
alone no gas.

Week 2, Thursday

Nothing happening
follow the pista to
Radial de Coyol
Ruta 27 to Escazu
for a halogen bulb
not found in Grecia
and PriceSmart
and Automercado
stock up on tonic.

Week 2, Friday

William shows up
late in the morning
sin cabinets or crew
forgot the teak top
Roger making it now
back first thing Monday
to appease offers
a bunch of bananas
criollo not the kind
found back in the States.

Week 3, Monday

Roger in the morning
bringing the cabinets
a short wheelbase truck
to handle the sharp turns
hand carries them in
fits them in place
hangs on the walls
whitewashed melina
cutting board teak
Marco fixes leaks
left in the plumbing
when all is in place
Asdrubal measures for granite.

Week 3, Tuesday

William shows
with Roger in tow
to see what needs fixing.
The cabinet by the sink
for Irina’s big bread bowls
left no-doored dead space.
William asks to use
the table saw in the taller
a few quick cuts
heads back to his shop
to fashion a new unit
and forgotten shelves too.

Week 3, Wednesday

Irina’s lower lip pouted
two-thirty and still
no sign of granite.
Marco at three calls
they’ll be here in twenty
Asdrubal and two
granite cut and ready
sinks mounted
kitchen and bath
all more than promised
set to work fitting
grinding and polishing.
Kimberly brings by
a pot of soup and Roy
sit the table round
flies dust and the noise
flows wine and the talk
and laughter and the work.
At long last
the crew packs up
dark past eight
past time for bed.


Week 3, Thursday

The rev of a motorcycle
at six o’clock sharp
it’s New Jersey José
to do the ceramica
says to be done
after noon early.
Piece by piece
the wall goes up
behind the range
backsplashing granite
not a whole lot
but lots of cutting.
Cutting tapping
two o’clock passes
three turns the corner
the window the sink
at four yet more
tapping cutting
five-thirty done
cleaned up and gone.

Week 3, Friday

New Jersey shows early
grouting the wall
Marco does plumbing
Roger and ‘Nando face cabinets
William and Asdrubal
install the bar
Orlando wires
switches and plugs
José good humoured
chisels out and replaces
a tile cut with outlet box wrong.
Time for Isabel’s
guys all still working
back by seven
only Marco and Orlando
everything’s finished
bright and gleaming
in under cabinet light.

Epilogue, Saturday

Essential kitchen tools
need a quick home
the party’s at two.
Quick fashion a knife block
glue it in the drawer
below the cutting board top
knives needed to trim
pork loin and slice
Spanish salchichon.
Oil rub the teak
trim and season the meat
lay out the platter
still in work clothes.
Guests begin arriving
early Gringo time
bringing food and drink
friends fill the room
cluster in and out
drink and eat and chatter.
Irina climbs the chair
thanks friends for feting
twentieth year wed
and the new book of poems
and the sleek new kitchen.


An extravagant life
a desperate world
hopeless and beautiful
humans no more able
than yeast blessed
a vat of sweet grapes
to practice moderation
doomed to drown
in their own piss
a human blessed
to savour the wine.