Before The Move

We are in the floorboards here
I kneel down and lay my hands
On the old barnwood planks
Our first house—big step
Baby steps, first steps, dance steps

The big picture window where
I always beat the sunrise to the sofa
Pink tumbling over a sleeping mountain
A nursing baby at my breast
Another sun another son

We carved our traditions here
The turkeys and the pumpkin pie
The Christmases the Fourths of July
Birthdays, holidays—all holy days
Our rituals rooted in the seasons

Read more "Before The Move"

Mutated World Sequence

My husband watches Ozark on Netflix.
I walk away to my laptop, tell him,
I don’t like any of the characters
and I don’t like the plot.

He can see how that could be true,
but he watches anyway.
The show’s been nominated.

Conventional COVID-19 wisdom says
the smart thing to do is stay home and avoid people.

We wait for a cure as hours of scripted
dramas flicker before our eyes.

Read more "Mutated World Sequence"

Regeneration

I saw you pluck a piece of sapling from the hills
A present, I don’t know,
A sun-scorched story,
A tale
A massive ambience of the liquid time.

But the manner you beheld it
Like you could see through its bare bones,
If you lick up the juice, now and then.

Read more "Regeneration"

Thrum

This morning I read about sex toys
a design student was creating for old people
(defined as those over fifty),
a market he felt was overlooked.
One concept was a steel ear trumpet
to listen to a lover’s heart.

You have been gone for many years
but I still feel the warmth of your soft sternum
pressed against my cheek, still hear
your drumbeat vibrating through my bones

Read more "Thrum"

Banana Chain

Banana bunches
hanging down the length

of a frosted chain
outside a snow-swept market

curl with cozy ease
into each other,

as if still
on a tree somewhere tropical,

their yellowness
dawning from their green

Read more "Banana Chain"

Talking Heads

It’s something to look forward to,
Mom says
of the talking heads
on the evening news,
her portal to the world.

When Dad was still here,
they’d watch together, and in twenty minutes
their own heads
would drop to their chests.

Now she nods off alone
under waves of silver hair,
the ocean at dawn

Read more "Talking Heads"

Graduation Day

I remember the day you broke from me
A blue and viscous blood-soaked pearl
And though I’d grown you in myself
An alien from a secret world

The cord was thick and rough and red
A rhubarb stalk tying me to you
You wailed I cried they held you up
My universe bound by one sinew

Your father sawed the surgeon sliced
Surprisingly it didn’t hurt
I felt the pressure of my love
Shift from my belly to my heart

Read more "Graduation Day"

Aftermath

the settling of ashes.
the loss between
house and souls 

windows left open
unwashed plates
front door half open
a pink ribbon
on the floor 

cloud shadows
paint the yard,
gliding over
chairs and toys
like still life
before sunset

Read more "Aftermath"

Rage is so Respectable

Rage is so respectable. Her top hat’s
made of smoking coals. She strides
the streets and kicks small sheep.
She knits up snarls on telephone poles.

She breathes in daisies, snorts
out ash. Her house is made of corners,
boned with whale. She turns on you
so quickly that she tops the sport Whiplash.

She combs her hair with matches
so the sparks light funeral pyres. Her invitation list
is stuffed with Holocaust deniers.
Her snack’s a cat. The dump’s her park.

Read more "Rage is so Respectable"

To a Construction Worker in the Hills of Portugal Near the Sea

You hack at your ancient red hills
like those creatures who eat parts of their own bodies
digging for the gold of overpopulation, pollution, and upward mobility
for 60 escudos a day
to deliver the Northerner’s rich dream
and at sunset sit in the old plaza deafened by swallows
and return to the crumbling tile-roofed box of earth beyond the hill
and at dawn once again set the long white caterpillar of villas
creeping toward you to devour you.

Read more "To a Construction Worker in the Hills of Portugal Near the Sea"

Tree Communion

I know a grave in the woods
tricked with running cedar, mulched
with hickory and storms, telling heaven
to dance cobble-rock and quail-feather,
tuning up the sprouts, and all the thaws,
so they smooth and wriggle, and they smooth
and bank up every skeleton against a ghost,
so they all sing, so they all remember names
that touch like the tallest willow’s shadow
cribbing across the face of an old woman
waiting to find me here at home and alive.

Read more "Tree Communion"

Hummingbird Communion

We trace the rarest hummingbird
in our fossilized eyes. It’s the blurring field
slimmed from its wings. It’s the blue throat
captioning our brains, saying color, wow,
color, fire, no words, shake a million nerves
then scratch out every voice. It colors you
with no other world. It holds you. It moves.

Read more "Hummingbird Communion"

Sky Communion

Last night the sky was a child
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.

Read more "Sky Communion"

Pitter-Patter

It’s not torrential
or even steady,
this moderate rain,

more from the eaves than
the clouds. I’ve long closed
the blinds; I hear it,

not see it. Like
the tentative steps
of would-be visitors

killed in car crashes.

Read more "Pitter-Patter"

Last Known Location of Snr Wil Flowers, Director of Intelligence, NWF

You always want it to make sense, 
Like knucklebones, like how swallowing works. 
Simple eye of mechanics developed 
Over millions of years of failure. Humans
Are the success of their failure time and time again. 
That’s whats truly alien. Truly unnatural
As the sky opens up, the black roll of stars, planets –
Some like necks on the gallows, some like an arena stage. 
The maw is the medicine with death as a common side effect. 

Then, nothing makes sense. Its a fugue state, lips dripping 
Words over delayed relays. Mission specialists
Still sitting in Ohio struck mud like American-made pigs, 
while you snort down wildlife powder and hope the TOG adaptions 
They gave you don’t go liquid in your stomach. Survival 
Rates of surgery in orbit aren’t what they used to be. 
You, your own scalpel and organ donor, doctor, and lawyer. 

Read more "Last Known Location of Snr Wil Flowers, Director of Intelligence, NWF"

Brood Parasite

The cowbird cares only for her own
propagation. Nest-stealer, child-trader.
A clutch of brown-spotted eggs
sheltered elsewhere. The cowbird
merely uses what others have created.
Others raise her children.
Others feed her young.
If her child stabs a fragile fledging
from the colonized species
with a beak that hungers for more,
this is no injustice. The cowbird is not evil.
Survival is a promise of life, not a tragedy
to mourn.

Read more "Brood Parasite"

Fat Trek

I stumble over oak roots
on my fat trek down to the lake,
ignore jingling ice cream vendors,
Dunkin’ Donuts shops, Krispy
Kreme allure.

Rorschach patterns on my back,
I stop for water at a tactile
stone bubbler, not distracted
by the lemonade fountains,
root beer floats or sugared
hyacinth teas and I avoid
I-HOP for lunch.

Read more "Fat Trek"

In Praise of Community

A coterie of chick-a-dees
communes
in my maple tree.
A tribe of constellations
self-distances
in the rising night.
Brown-robed monastics
bow
before broken bread.
Circles of poets
zoom
from inspiration rooms.
Fellowships
connect
black/brown/yellow/white/red.

Read more "In Praise of Community"

Garden

The dad plants a garden
in tiny yard in front
of six family
digs up dead rose and forsythia.

In school the kid
gets a box of seeds
to sell for PTA.
The kid don’t know anyone with land
for growing all stuck in apartments.

The dad buys four packs,
marigolds, portulaca,
zinnia, balsam.
The dad finds old bricks
makes a ring in center of garden
to fill with flowers
and all along front border,
tomatoes, cukes, peppers
all fit into little yard.

Read more "Garden"

Ingredients

They say salt
was once so precious
that soldiers were paid in it—a salary.

A common, bitter thing
I add salt’s tear-tang to the dough
and feel my wrist and bicep work

(the ingredients of my life
are not measurable things
though I feel them pulse just out of sight)

now I see the sight I always see
out the kitchen window
as I knead and knead and knead

Read more "Ingredients"

Dear Type-A Friend,

This is to let you know I’m newly funemployed.
I’ve grown weary of the restless noise
of earth, so I plan to gadabout the universe
in search of alternatives to humanoids.
Perhaps I’ll terraform an asteroid
and confirm the latest scientific claims
it contains quintillions in gold.
I’ll appoint myself its CEO
and send you a prospectus once
I’ve penciled out investment strategies.

Read more "Dear Type-A Friend,"

Mr. and Mrs. Medusa at the Macy’s Perfume Counter

She stood in the front
Of the silver and black glass counter.
Her fingers ransacked the perfume,
Stone skin reflecting in the onslaught
Of mirrored ads and a solo saleswoman –
Ms. Fake Green Eyes was fond
Of a particular smell called Trauma or Mercy,
Some obscure name meant
To bore temptation like eggs from an roc’s nest.

Fake Eyes presses down on the black and gold
Spray top, a mist pours down onto my wife’s wrist,
The aftershock of a coastal storm – two presumed lost.

Read more "Mr. and Mrs. Medusa at the Macy’s Perfume Counter"

14th Street – Union Square Station

Station after station
of unmanned ticket booths
MetroCard swipes unlock another world.

The performers, dancers, musicians,
the bootleg dvd peddlers,
the evangelical pamphleteers who are dedicated
to convert all the New York heathens as they rush

home from their soul-suffocating jobs.

Lean against the door
balance
read Howl for the third time this week.

Read more "14th Street – Union Square Station"

Trees

We walk up the hill
slowly
not sure how far deep
our feet will sink.

It is just December
and the day is bright
the pines and fir and spruce
are everywhere.

We raise our heads
from the new trail to see their heights
some look store bought
even though they have never been inside.

Read more "Trees"

The Cup of Trembling

The sunset is made of gold. It is
made of gold, the sunset, this sunset.
It is made of gold—pure gold spills down the mountainside
and I kneel before the mountainside’s golden
spread

Kneel on the stone and burn this image into my forsaken
brain, sear gold onto my retinas, behind its sackcloth
consciousness (made of gold, it is made
of pure gold—this sunset—made of, made of, made of the quintessent
stuff)

Read more "The Cup of Trembling"

Bless the Mistaken

How did this happen?
Did the poet really say she hates commas –
little waves,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
on a lake on a wind-free day or
stepping stones so even your foot
takes for granted a perfect landing
until your ankle turns a way
it was never meant to
and you must wait by the lake
to watch water rinse pebbles
into gems

Read more "Bless the Mistaken"

Christopher, After the Explorer

We hover low over the river. His eyes are shining,
wildfire breath coming in gasps. Wildebeests
stampede through the tall grass below us and I pray
to God everything works itself out, one way or another.
His hands are rough like mine and my father’s
before us. He’s fast undoing the knots and then
a dead weight falls away. When I look back
down, all I see are ripples across the surface
of the dark water, the disappearing backs of crocodiles.

Read more "Christopher, After the Explorer"

Bodies

after you cut
down the dead
trees
the field yawns
and gives for the first
time in twenty years
a glimpse
of red beyond the shuddering
loblollies—decaying
metal and wood teeth
the remains of man’s work

no life except
a gray body
shell of hollow skin

Read more "Bodies"

the H.E.B.

that drunk man without a home is yelling
“happy new years” but it’s only the day
after Christmas. for him, what’s the difference?
automatic doors open for me, the security officer
does not bat an eye.

later,
while placing produce on the conveyor
I got distracted and
some little inkling of a poem slipped out
my mind, off my earlobe, and smacked
the ground. it flipped like a fish, wriggled
for some other undeserving wretch to receive.

Read more "the H.E.B."

Milkshake

“Another milkshake please.”

The waitress eyes her with disbelief. Catalogues her stained-through hoodie and greasy hair. Not that the waitress has room to judge with her own issues: a slight hunchback and blisters covered by her platform flats that she most certainly did not purchase in the 90’s and definitely do not smell with age.

“Another one, girly? Don’t you want some food?”

Read more "Milkshake"

Just Past the Dead End Road

danger danger flashing floodlights
laying bare my red hawk mind
extracting talons from the skin
of a mangled rabbit or dead horse what
does it matter you stay either way
to watch me tear at the flesh and not cry once no
you won’t see me weep this time no
you don’t own me anymore no
not in the boneyard not in the moonhouse
not in the field where i kill and oh do i
kill yes i do

Read more "Just Past the Dead End Road"

Satisfied To Be Us

To be anywhere in the world
in any weather, to hold a book
like a child does and [moving] moves
from here to the flanks of the Vosges,
stares at a fresco by Piero
or hears an aria float out from a window
on the Coronation Route in Prague.

How fine it is to be us, to be
on the water, our thoughts as slippery,
as fluid, our moods like gusts [of dopamine]
little zephyrs of enticement,
our happiness rising and setting
with the sun, the bright seal of hope
the dimming lamp of rest.

Read more "Satisfied To Be Us"

Ohp, uhp, oop … okay

to write abstractly
it helps to be stoned; so much
so it feels a crutch.

hip haikus, stanza
formatted. notice: no caps!
it must be for real

this feeling of peace
when I stare through the window
at our wild yard.

no lawnmower knows
this field’s overgrown nature.
it is real untamed.

a grasp on the pipe:
burned up brain pens bad poem,
he stumbles near the end.

Read more "Ohp, uhp, oop … okay"

headlights

black patches curving slick
the moon
extraordinary in its bloom
lights last flecks of
webbed snow

two by two geese
flee into darkness
tracks melting under toe

I’ll meet you here, tomorrow
Jack says

as Seven Sister skate the sky
moon raining crystals.

Read more "headlights"

September 1997

I asked sleep for a few favors.
So a lightbulb became
the sun’s sojourn;
a notebook, the expectant grass;
a crayon, the watering pot;
a scrawl, the gathering dusk;
a train horn, the private night.

Read more "September 1997"

Affection: A Bilingualcultural Poem

In Chinese, 朋友,恋人,& 爱人 are all
12-stroked characters, just as their counter-
Parts friend, couple & spouse are 6-lettered
Words in the imperial vocabulary of English

Though they are all underlined with human

Love and loyalty, the former entails twice
As much input or effort of the heart
As the latter to maintain a disparately
Similar humane relationship as a speech

Read more "Affection: A Bilingualcultural Poem"

A Thousand Dolphins

Because (in part) a disgraced president invented the EPA
rockfish and croakers have returned to the Chesapeake Bay,
and new life frolics at the mouth of Baltimore’s river.
Beneath the silent bows of sailboats on the Patapsco
rarely seen dolphins ride waves like metallic rainbows,
the silvery curves of their bodies stitching clear skies
to the blueness of gently roiling waters.
Who could imagine such a fantastical outcome?

Read more "A Thousand Dolphins"

London Fog

Searching your trench coat,

I looked for truths, found instead
a 1969 penny and a Green Room matchbook—

I resisted the flame.

Pockets, lined with mothed holes
and a stained handkerchief,

not my mother’s shade of red.

What can we ever know, Dad?
This urge to rummage our dead.

Read more "London Fog"

The Mock Orange at Night in Mid-July

Out of flower now,
yet I smell it and so
must the dogs who
know where the cardinal
was at noon and the red squirrel.
Who knows which
trace is truest –

this one as if someone took
a torch to pearled sugar,
crust on custard,
almost too sweet.
We, or at least I, rely
certain in seeing.
The moon is a firefly
in the pine, a silver flash
above the greenish
flare of beetles.

Read more "The Mock Orange at Night in Mid-July"

Arte Povera

Luciano Fabro assembles green flies
and beetles iridescent as death
on armatures of brass.
He calls them sculptures
though they often resemble
shields and helmets
and other objects
useful to primitive pacific tribes
or knights escaped
from medieval armories
and museums of unnatural history.
His scarabs glow with rarified light
and abide in memory:
hidden wings and hardened heads,
smooth coats of black shellac
and pins sequestered from
my inadvertent touch.
At night, they recall themselves to me
unbidden, without conscious desire.

Read more "Arte Povera"

What the Snow Covers

is the witnessing grass
pressed down by boot
in joy or fear and
cut by dangerous blades
and neighbor’s gazes.

What the snow uncovers
is the secret parade,
the pawed passage
of shivering midnight
moonlight scavengers.

What the snow covers
is its own white with
further white, soft light
made heavy after its
nomadic fall, the flakes
ache to settle, nestle, wait.

Read more "What the Snow Covers"

Shark In Shallow Waters

How foreign-delicacy we must look
So glittering-feast for silver handcuffs like fish hooks
On the fishing lines of Met police
Our fleshy white meat
Scattered like bait in the woods

We all clenched-jaw, shark-teeth keys now
Double rows of razor-sharp between knuckles

Dragged up on the dock and weighed
Price gouged for market
Fish-eye frozen on a casket of ice
2.99/lb

What do we taste like?

Read more "Shark In Shallow Waters"

Touched by Fire

I drank from the fur cup. It tasted like you – orange blossom honey infused with fire. If our forebears had remained in the Pale of Settlement, herding cows, exhorting God, they would have been destroyed with the rest, and we would never have happened. History is riddled with obscure coincidences. The poète maudit Stéphane Mallarme died from the same disease I have. There is no cure, no absolution, no escape. I am not only a prisoner, but also the prison. Please spare me visits from the sort of people who refer to poetry as “verse.” I just want to stand chest-deep in your flames.

Read more "Touched by Fire"

Daffodils Laugh Out Loud

In mourning spaces,
answers dangle questions.
Yet daffodils laugh in fertile fields.
Ours is a slow unfurling.

Answers dangle questions
despite a lustrous sky,
and slowly, our unfurling,
the dim voices sway.

A lustrous sky
will not mention death, for now.
Voices sway against the dim—
wonder, where are you hiding?

Death, no mention, now—
fertile fields laugh with daffodils.
There is no hiding
among the mourning spaces.

Read more "Daffodils Laugh Out Loud"

How Deceptive The Moon

Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
cry of hunting owl, unbound mastiff.
Deceit manages the moon.
Dire blaze of comets fall
whips at cries of disembodied voices,
chaos of sordid death by border lies.
My reflection is running water,
an impulse through exile’s grasping past
profound as sin and consecration.
Floating in inertia, admiring
ennui through its idling passage,
I cup my hands to my mouth, rising
in terror, singing for redemption.

Read more "How Deceptive The Moon"