Thanks for dropping in…

Some of these poems were written a few years ago, some more recently. The older ones have been re-worked a bit.
I’ll be adding more from time to time.

I’d be interested in your comments; not looking for critique of form and style, (though feel free) but more your emotional/spiritual reaction to the poems.
You can contact me by clicking here.

All poems © 2019 Mike Feder

These Hands

These thin old hands—
veined, spotted, scarred,
knuckles enlarged, tendons
sliding under the creased skin.
I can see the white bones beneath,
can imagine all the bones
in my body—topped by a grinning skull.
I watch these old hands—
holding a book, turning pages,
using a knife and fork,
slipping into a sleeve—into a glove.
I raise my right hand,
palm and fingers facing outward—
sometimes to say hello,
sometimes moving them side to side:
“No thanks. Not right now”.
These same hands,
once very small,
new to the world,
gripped much larger hands,
with absolute trust,
with absolute love.
Growing, they pulled on socks,
tied sneakers, put belts through loops,
zipped up pants, buttoned shirts…
They flipped baseball cards,
shot marbles, held bats,
threw balls, flew kites,
picked up sticks, threw stones,
loaded rolls of caps into cap guns,
held fire-crackers, lit the fuses.
They’ve set mouse traps,
drained hot water from the boiler,
turned radiators on and off,
put up screens,
taken out the garbage…
At night, they locked
the windows and doors.
They’ve pushed lawn mowers,
pulled rakes, lifted snow shovels,
clipped hedges, pulled weeds, planted seeds,
moved their fingertips across
the smooth petals of June roses.
These hands have put mustard on hot dogs,
ketchup on burgers and fries,
folded slices of pizza,
poured out and raised to my lips
glasses of juice, milk, soda.
They have sharpened knives, swung axes,
stretched ropes, pounded in tent pegs,
unrolled sleeping bags,
baited hooks, reeled in fish,
built fires, fried steaks, scoured pans,
gathered fallen pine needles
from the forest floor.
They have turned steering wheels,
switched on radios and heaters,
cleaned dashboards, vacuumed seats,
washed windshields, filled gas tanks,
lovingly rubbed wax into fenders and hoods.
These hands have bought subway tokens,
pushed turnstiles, dropped coins
in vending machines,
clutched straps and poles
during long, swaying rides…
They have lifted bottles and cartons
out of refrigerated cases,
taken cans and boxes off shelves,
picked fruit and vegetables out of bins,
handed bills to cashiers, pocketed the change…
They have fried eggs, broiled steaks,
cut up vegetables, mashed potatoes…
They’ve carried bags with buttered rolls,
bagels with cream cheese, ham and Swiss heroes,
containers of coffee, bottles of beer.
These hands opened and closed doors,
hammered in nails, turned screws,
turned can openers, twisted off bottle tops,
washed and dried dishes,
pushed vacuum cleaners,
hung up pants and shirts,
put away socks and underwear.
They have slathered on suntan oil,
rubbed on ointment, uncapped bottles of pills,
put on and taken off bandages, wrapped
Ace bandages around wrists and ankles,
removed splinters, washed away blood.
These hands, in awe, or
in a consuming fever,
and, sometimes, with love,
have held other hands,
caressed faces, shoulders, arms, legs,
backs, breasts, stomachs, vaginas.
And these hands have held smaller hands,
extended in absolute trust, with absolute love.
They’ve changed diapers, held bottles to lips
directed small spoonfuls of food into mouths.
They pulled socks onto feet,
tied shoes, buttoned up coats,
put hats on heads, gloves on hands.
They have picked out birthday
and Christmas presents,
wrapped gifts, plugged in Christmas lights,
bought graduation, birthday
and Valentine’s day cards,
addressed and put stamps on envelopes,
dropped them in the mailbox.
They’ve turned the pages
of thousands of books,
held pencils and pens,
written a million words,
opened mail, filed papers,
dialed phones, pushed buttons,
pressed down keys, tapped screens.
These hands have done many hard
and wonderful things in their time…
Decades of deliberate movement,
twisting, turning, stirring,
pounding, pushing, poking,
pressing, soothing…
They hold a universe
of remembered sensations.
Somewhere along the line
they lost some strength.
Brown spots appeared,
cancers grew, were removed…
Joints began to ache, then swell,
nails became lined, ridged…
Now, sometimes, these hands shake.
Things grasped are dropped,
one palm is enlarged from gripping
the curved head of a cane.
I can see the time coming
when the last thing these hands will do
is hold, other, stronger hands,
with absolute trust,
with absolute love.

The Winter Dark

January, early evening…
The Winter dark
waits outside my window,
breathing, watching,
pressing itself against the glass

I turn on every light.
The glow is just enough
to keep it out,
but not enough to push it back.
It leans in, waiting for just one bulb
to flicker and die.

This is an old, familiar darkness.
New by the calendar,
but lingering in my blood
from long, long ago.

A child in an attic room,
a missing father, a crazy mother,
Winter dark outside my window.
I am alone. I am unsafe.
I sit in a chair
in the middle of my room,
praying for the Spring light…

Though many years have passed,
each Winter, with the ascendant dark,
the trembling loneliness comes again,
and the same fervent prayer for Spring.

Now—late February,
eight weeks since the shortest day,
the Winter dark is retreating.
Light, and the hope of safety, returns.

Awake and Dreaming

I had a nightmare
that I had a nightmare.
When I woke up
I realized I was still,


A heap of ashes
my final gift, here
on this little dish;
A charcoal finish
The others will say
it was an accident,
but you know
I would only
burn this way
for you

Vanishing Act

See this paper bag?
Inside is a magic bottle.
Watch closely as I drink;
Before your very eyes
I cause this crutch to vanish,
and your fancy phone,
and your fancy little dog.
Therefore, I, who was once
The Great Mondini,
command you,
Give me a dollar and disappear!

Muy Peligroso

The subway train is wonderful
It takes us to every corner
of the city; But still,
it can be dangerous

If it stops between stations
do not listen to train crews,
ignore the police;
They are employed by
The Ministry of Misinformation

When the train stops
smash the windows,
get out, cross the tracks;
Search for the dark places…
That’s where they have hidden

The Pause

Before the machine
is turned on

Before the mind
is engaged

Before doubt and worry
file their first reports

Before all this,
there is a moment,
replete, in itself;
perfectly tuned
to the invisible movement
of time

Vanishing Act

See this paper bag?
Inside is a magic bottle.
Watch closely as I drink;
Before your very eyes
I cause this crutch to vanish,
and your fancy phone,
and your fancy little dog.
Therefore, I, who was once
The Great Mondini,
command you,
Give me a dollar and disappear!

What it Takes

What does mercy mean
in the midst of Times Square?
Lights, camera, action!
You think you have it all;
all the wealth in your known world.
Then a sharp gust
from an unexpected quarter…
Pirates swoop in
out of nowhere;
And there you are
naked and alone,
stripped of everything
you thought mattered.
A moment of respite then,
or maybe revelation;
That’s when the A train pulls in
and takes you all the way

North Wind

The North wind
Is strong, biting
I think I should
turn around, go South;
Take myself to a world
of endless sunshine

Or maybe I should listen
To an older voice
Head straight into the wind,
it says.
You still need to know
how cold it can be.


Sandy sits straight
on the edge of a smile;
Lipstick pink, but
gray in her hair
to prove the subway
makes many painful stops

Sometimes she’ll go
to the country
where the moon
gazes back at her,
and the stars wonder
at the tears
in her blue, blue eyes.


Home is where
the heart is, but
where is the heart
of home;
in a secret room,
hiding itself,
or set
like bright flowers
in the kitchen window?

Home is where
the heart beats,
no matter how faint,
or strong;
Through the eruption
of birth,
the final cap of death;
Through ecstasy,
through pain,
it beats…

Though the timbers warp
and the roof sags;
Though cracks open
the basement walls,
the heart beats…
Through it all,
a constant rhythm
keeping time.

Beneath the wreckage
of age, even
the death of memory,
the heart performs
its original function.
It beats…
Like a well-made engine,
long after the engineer
has gone.

All this

If I wanted,
I could have heaven;
If it wanted, heaven
could have me.
Suspicion clouds
this deal.
“What are the terms?”
Hamlet asked.
“What is all this stalling?
Do you want this
airy blueness,
or a lifetime
of petty cross-examinations?”

If I put my hand out
you’d bite it off;
All the way up my arm.
What traveling will
bring me away
from this land of teeth
and bad dreams?

there’s a sun-lit dirt road;
Trees, an old well,
water clear and cold…
And waiting for me,
The perfect form of beauty


Because I don’t remember
my user name and password
I am forced to watch my body eaten
while my neighbors watch streaming video.
I am swallowed during a major grid failure
and digested while holding on for support.

Anonymously I am excreted;
A nameless lump of shit, I,
who once won all the baseball cards
and marbles on my block,
am absorbed unnoticed into the earth.

Evaporated into the atmosphere,
I form clouds…
From a great height I fall to the earth,
Gently washing the blood
From the machines that ate me.

Seeing You

I see you
window eyed
I think
clouded glass
A chip
of memory
in the iris
with the passage
of time


A pink jewel, shining
In the grey street, gleaming
She renders invisible
The stream of faces
en route to other lives

A young woman
dressed for the performance
of her life;
Everything that’s everything
riding on this one shot.
All there, in her white
anxious face, evanescent
with hope and beauty

Short, dark, wavy hair
wide, round eyes, lips
just the right shade of red.
Tight, pink-orange dress,
gold-toned stockings
black, gleaming, dancer’s shoes

She turns, turns,
this way, that
crazy anxious
A cab—Oh!
She might be late.
Can’t be late!

I would stop for her,
dull old mouse that I am;
jump right off this bus,
white livery, silver buckles
Here’s your pumpkin chariot,
not a moment to waste!

Because this is all,
this is everything;
Nothing less
Than an invitation
to the Prince’s ball.
Cinderella of 28th Street
One arm lifted high,
“Taxi! Taxi!”

The Lark Ascending

The soul doesn’t float
up to heaven;
Doesn’t merely drift,
vagrant and without design
It has a flight plan;
Invisible, ordained, perfect.
It rises, abandoning the form
That bound it to the earth below

From The Heart

One day my brain fell out;
right out of my head.
And landed-Plop!
right onto to the sidewalk

But I didn’t let that stop me,
I kept right on going.

People used to say,
“Boy, he’s a sharp one;
He’s got a brain, that one.”

Not anymore.

Since I lost my brain,
things haven’t changed much.
I still have the same old problems,
still the same shit to deal with.

I just don’t think about it.

My father’s feet

I couldn’t look away
from my father’s feet
He on his couch
me in my chair
The television
marking the years
between us

My father’s feet were just feet
but they were his feet;
not for the public
He protected them,
kept them private
But there were moments
when they suddenly just

Was he just forgetful,
getting old, or tired?
Was he trusting me
not to stare or point them out?

If I picture them now,
his age, looking
at my own feet
I wonder why he hid them
then allowed me to see;
And my heart aches
to see them again.


Summer trees brushed
by an unseen hand;
Falling leaves
Where will they land?

Lone Wolf

I don’t see the difference
between people
Walking this direction
or that
Home, shopping
Shopping, home
This leg, that arm,
noses, hands, breasts,
passing fancies of evolution

You can see it in their eyes
they say the essence,
the unique, particular
divinity it may be
But I’ve seen
too many eyes
I find it tiresome,
searching for souls
in this endless parade
Of skulls

God, you know
gave up long ago
So why should I bother
to make distinctions
Anyway, I’m going out
for a while
Where’s my gun?

Pale Moon

Pale quarter moon
in the morning sky
People hurry
ignorant of the season