You ask me to write a poem

(for Mary)

you ask me to write a poem
about losing a mother
but you’re the artist
you can easily draw her
her nose, her expression
I’m sure you could capture 
it all,what we can’t do
is bring her back, fill the hole
the void her passing has left
she’s gone on, left you behind
a motherless child
passage into a place
a place we all wish
we would never see
she will be there tho
in time 
she'll be a breeze that comes up 
out of nowhere, a glint of light 
you capture just right
she’ll be there with you
during triumphs and sorrow
but now you have to use
what she taught you 
and be strong
she loved you


Mother's Day 5 AM

the memory of her is starting to fade
it’s been 37 years
tho I can still conjour her dimples, her smile
the crinkles around her eyes
the small painting of her by my desk helps

her teased blond hair
I never did see her natural auburn hair 
but in one picture of her
holding me when i was a baby 

in the painting 
she’s wearing a high necked leopard blouse
replacing the black she always wore
that i wear now

the sound of her voice
i’m no longer sure of
tho I can almost see her laughing
but maybe she is just smiling
smiling at me, from that painting by my desk

as we lay together watching tv
on the plaid couch in the finished basement
with the black speckled floor
she'd rub my back

I'm seven trying on her shoes with no toes
later, a teen, i 'd sneak into her room
to read the forbidden novels in her night table

I can see the bottle of Chanel #5
on her black japanese lacquered dresser
the scent eludes me now
all these years later

R. Laban

The Village

I wish I’d met you 
when i was nineteen
walking around the village
bell bottoms, indian paisley shirt
frye boots
we owned it then
life hadn’t found us yet       
ready to save the world

We would’ve met 
in a coffee shop
or even right on the street
we would have recognized
each other’s pain
you would have taken me
back to your place
and made love to me all night 
with miles davis playing
and the cat in the alley screeching
both covering up the sounds
 of our love making

In the morning I’d take
the bus back to New Jersey
and think of you
back there without me

R. Laban

Date with a poet

You tell me you want 
to cook me dinner
but you just feed me
your pain
after you leave
I break a wine glass
in the sink
and all I can think
is that you too
are broken
and I don’t think
I can bear that

R. Laban

Marionette Memories

they say you make memories
but really they just happen
beyond your control

vivid striped cloth
big bulbous nose
painted red to match
his yarn hair

I see him dancing
as I work the strings
attached to the thin
strips of wood

and a smile spreads across
my ten year old face
as i control his hurky-jerky


You don't understand
I'm still that fifteen year old girl
you left standing at the
edge of the pool
with your damn ring
in my hand
and when you profess your love
your undying love
it's just like
having that ring
in my hand

R. Laban

Words in my head

wake up with words in my head
notbook by my bed
muse tellin me to write them down
lest in the morning they can't be found

but I choose sleep, let me rest I say
morning will bring a new day
create, recreate
find your way home
inside a poem


put in your path
to test your resilience

branches weighed down
by snow
will they endure
bounce back
or break

if we break
we still go on
scarred, but strengthened

the turn in the road
just up ahead
there is an answer
a way

Thanksgiving 2012

Silver bracelets

I put on those silver bracelets
I bought when I was twenty
to remind me of who I am
and where I've been
and that no one, no man
not anyone
can take that away from me
make me feel less
than who I am

Big Job

You are going to have to awaken
all that's been buried, lost
I can't promise anything
maybe it won't be enough
to satisfy you, sustain you
maybe I'm not whole
but broken, shattered
can shards be repaired, reunited
made new again
can we find what it is 
we've been looking for 
do we even know
some one to hold us, renew us
make it right

My Winter bed

Books, always books
the ugly afghan I made,
a tribute to my mother
and her patient teaching,
there at the end of the bed
where the black dog rests
his heavy head on my feet
the sound of his breathing
comforts me, another living

R. Laban


I live on radishes now
mostly i like the color
the bitter taste
the salt makes them near perfect
and carrots
dipped in hummus
from Trader Joes
oh and pasta
with sauce from my garden
I guess I won't starve
but from lack of
human warmth, company
i guess a dog is enof