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

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

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

Solar Plexus

When it hits me
I feel a disturbing disquiet
deep down in my soul
and there is no way out

the pain comes and rises up again
like an onslaught of yellow jackets
stinging my hand, my arm
over and over
I run screaming and flailing
as my hand begins to swell
from the venom and I cry

when displeasure and dislike
swell up inside of you
with no where to go
it hits you and there is
no way out


on my knees
the requisite number
of weeds
and hope
just hope
that it works

that you will go on
and be back
to pull another
requisite number

The absence of sound

In the absence of sound
a balance is struck
a natural center, beheld
a place to reside
go to or come
step out, away, step
into a better place

Damaged goods

Vietnam vet-medic
putting the fallen in body bags
coming home finally
drinking beer all nite
sleeping all day

Street smart jersey girl
hippie, flower child
smoking joints, demonstrating

The lost generation
two disparate souls
looking for love, finding each other
lost,broken, mismatched pair.

post traumatic stress hero
meets depression in full bloom.
marry, have a son
live parallel lives.

twenty years gone
hard to imagine,
how to dismantle a marraige
go on.