To Be A Man



I thought that to be a man was about strength

But every bold muscle turns inferm, thin.

I thought to be a man was about armor,

But the latest style just ousted the latest style.

I though to be a man was about winning

But the loss of that idea weakens me,

And makes this sole verse a losing game.

I thought to be a man was about teamwork,

Then whom do I talk to in my true solitude.

I thought to be a man was about the discharge

But guns are never the solution for so many

Well-fought men are dead three seconds a day.

I thought to be a man was about possession

Then Judas was more man then his master.

I thought to be a man was to be stoic

Unwavering, impregnable, predicting but

Even the oldest statues must feel the gentlest rain.

Copyright 2013

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Coffee with a new old friend

Who needs help with his finances

We sit at a deuce

Next to a long table

Stir up each other’s mishaps

I dispense some of my hope

A small stream of cream

To our black cups of decaf.


Our stories are a game

Of checkers without a board

Some black, mostly red


His money pit,

To my tech bubble crash,

My eight colleges in nine years

To his failed bands

His now renting

To my underwater house

My dead end jobs to

His dead end jobs


We were winning

Lottery tickets

Less that one last number.


The book club gremlins

Trickle onto the long table

Carrying “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting”

Till they take up all the chairs

And ask us to move

So they can use our table,

We do and then minutes later

They ask again


We move again.


We wish the coffee stains their smiles

And gravels their cheery chords

(No we don’t)

We talk till he needs to leave to feed his kid

And I need to walk my dog

Because hindsight is never 20/20

Only laughter is.


Copyright AJ DiAngelis 2013

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Our Country Fence

My front yard chain linked fence,

The handle that rarely comes down

Is seen from the dirt easement

Of our redwood-paneled house.

The grey wall keeps our dogs from going out

The strays, and coyotes from coming in,

Makes our house look residential.


The concrete, and boulder embedded wall

Just outside our living room screen door

Holds the hills embankment up so

Ice plant, bottlebrush, and yuccas can

Keep ground during winter rains, while

Sucking septic spills from our family

Of seven’s leach lines, but never all of it.


Rusty barbed wire wrapped

Twice around each red painted metal post

Lining the south yard behind fruitless

Grape bushes.  Four taut lines across

And a fifth un-barbed, electrified line

Keep the Jackson’s cows from crossing,

Our football games bloody with cussing.


Tarred railroad ties, buried as posts,

Then hulled for fitting four by eight boards,

Hold the Kinley’s horses, some chickens in and,

Mr. Kinley, his lasso, and my father’s weight

While they decide what to plant, when to harvest,

What to raise, when to slaughter, the setting

Sun keeps their eyes from staring straight.


Used haywire wrapped around old pallets,

Tied side by side to square off space

For the pigs to roll in their shit,

To shield the sun from their pink skin.

They scratch against each splintered board,

Sometimes gnaw a sliver off but

Never get out, until their dying day.

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Shell casings

Lying on the battlefield,

Slivered limes,

Scatter our apartment

Coffee table and floor,

Hairs ruffled by jagged combs

From a nights engagement

With the bottle.


These urchins

Pushing poisonous tart

In a single slice,

Unlike a leach,

We enjoy

The winching, pulling, gutting,

Green smiles.


To our bosses!

We mash

A misgauged salute


For our overtime!

We twist

A blinding prescription


To customer complaints!

We suck on

A silencing mouthpiece


And those unwarranted refunds!

We squeeze

A cadaverous kiss


Reload and swallow,

Again and again.

To lime the table and floor

Never tasting solely

The bitterness in each bullet

For you are clocked in

To one more green smile-


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“Yearning”- deserves

Pronouncing loudly but

Never is or should be.


“Desire” whispered

Or screamed

Depending on what ear

Is at fault.


“Need” always whined

Like a one stringed violin, a braying horse.


“Ardor” said only in Victorian novels

In front of 11th grade English classes

Here comes another

Vocabulary test.


“Adore” cousin to yearning

Is too public too assuring

Too mother-to-childlike.


“Passion” always said

As your last breath

Like a whisper but

A dying deed as a dying word

Is all that a heart could muster.


“Infatuation”  (said

Over coffee and cream,

Lots of sugar)

All that you eat

That day.


Then there’s “Love”               Ha!


I’ll take “yearning”, the mute lie

Over them all-

A soloist’s song only in rehearsal

The swaying shadow of branches, leaves

On a midnight bedroom wall

Soft consonants, softer vowels.


Copyright2012 A.J. DiAngelis

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Bobbing, like a bottle without

It’s message of “help, here,”

The driftwood never settles

Until the tide abandons it.


Habitually spit out for a time.

Joggled and then picked it up

Only to be taken a little more

South, a little more north.


I slowly raise the block that

Isn’t even a branch but a

Clump, a brown buoy chiseled

Away by tides swirling tears.


It’s layered years circle, climb

Soft hewn to a pointless rounding

At the top.  Eternity all

In my salt drenched hand!


I hold it to the sky, admiring

And escape with it beyond

Sand, into the blue ocean above

Shining lighter, clearer, brighter.


I gaze into the eroding

Cliff dangling far away

Layered by years as well

Rough hewn, hiding


A wall un-petrified without

The privilege of drifting, in time

Will chip away into the sea.

How clouds shine! I am blinded.


I look down at my numb feet

As they escape into the firm

Stable, entrenched cold

Immobile as beach stones.


Gold-like sparkles tingle upon

My sun burnt limbs, softly fly away

As sand dandelions bent by

The weight of dusks breeze.


I set the driftwood down

With a more wrinkled hand

Knowing it will be safe

As we all wash away.


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It You Love Me, You’ll Come To My House

It’s okay tonight.

I’ll concede to another store bought roll,

Pick off the fuzzy green spots,

And won’t ask many questions-

Grandma’s agenda on everyone

Is usually already prepared.

Our Thanksgiving meal for most

Is now a phone call and a card

But she still cooks on- just in case

One of us might stop on by.


It isn’t like when we were kids.

It meant sneaking crusty fresh rolls

Dipping them in the bubbling sauce

Before she got back,

Her warm dishtowel whipped us

For the tomato drool on our mute smiles

Gave us away.


It meant

Homemade, huge spicy meatballs, and fiery hot sausage

One for each of us was carefully counted out.

Juicy turkey in spinach soup with freshly made croutons

Soft chewy egg colored croutons-

And cold cuts, with thick rugged rolls

We’d almost have to help each other pull them out of our mouths.

What a dance it was!

A fast football game in the mini front lawn

Nap then dessert and it would soon be over.


But tonight she was too quiet.

Her sunflower lampshade shone on

The yellowed plastic tablecloth

As her waxen hands grabbed

The scratched silver serving spoon

In soft tarantulan speed.

I said, “Have you heard from cousin Joey, Grandma?”


In a blink,

She said it in Italian,

First to the empty spot on her plate

And then again in my eyes in English-

“If you love me, you’ll come to my house Tony.”

“If you love me, you’ll come to my house.”


Copyright2010 A.J. DiAngelis

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Blue Collared


Let the blood drool out of my veins

Across the screwdrivers,

Saw blades, ratchets,

Adjustable wrenches, bungee cords

Of my father’s tool shed table.


Baptize those headboards of

Hanging chalk-lined hammers,

Saws, trimmers, axes,

Turn these white lines to red

To break free

Of his umbilical cord.


Jump rope games

On a cracked sidewalk.

Snapped in the shape of a dollar sign,

In one shake turns into his plastic cross

Then his glass of hearty burgundy,

His sneer, his bravado belch to

His cold slap in my face.


“See what I’ve done- do better.”

And I did.

So the hanging began-

College Boy!

The cord pulled harder

Around my neck till

His blindfolded

Piñata blows of sneering

Jeering, ripped my belly

To puke up a candied hail

For him to sing,

Unwrap and horde.


To father a son

Not son a father

Yet one without

The other

Is neither.


Another axe, another wrench

Another belt, another hammered,

Another another.


The noose peals

My last collared breaths off,

Small, smaller,

Puffs redneck.


I see only a whisper,

That turns a motionless blue

“Why does it matter?”

To end up the same:

Graveyard grey

Before ashes.

copyright 2010  A.J. DiAngelis

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The scribbled sense of nonsense,

Left unknown with nothing to say,

Saying it legible to only myself,

Crisscrossing diagonals rounding

Leftover letters in languages denied.

Five or less and half the syllables,

Confusion cured by hand and by

Force, my pencil breaks with my

Every repeat.  The shell never cracks-

A cheap poet in my everyday psalms.

Nothing is nothing means nothing

Except that it’s mine and only I know

What it says and it’s damaging.

copyright 2010 A. J. DiAngelis

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You shovel, douse, pluck, pull me

A silence above righteousness.

Reckless is my possession, a spirit

Cloistered among the dead yet

The living succumbs to my roots.

Eternal shoots pierce every

Nook, cranium and forcive closet.


You try as my might I will grow

I will create myself elsewhere –

Unforgiving, genetic, exponential,

A silent invasion, a snipers crawl,

A snoring feel to cop, searching sounds

Of brown to suck, of white to steal,

And green to grin, I grow under

And over your ancestoral yardage.


You can’t kill me, I am mute, I am loud

I am undying, I am nuisance, I am

Recurring, I am lifelong, I am long life,

I am related, I am festering, I am you!


copyright 2010 AJ DiAngelis

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