The Dogwood in Early June

I’ve waited seven days for this dogwood 
to unfurl its white cups, to drink the light
it gathers. Other flowers have passed
their season, our path matted
with pink rhodie remnants,
but the dogwood shows off 
in open space between cedar
and fir. 

Sun fills each cup as I witness
from shaded days steeped in protests
heated to burning, to melting, 
to truth yelling and tears. 

Read more "The Dogwood in Early June"

Homework

In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
somewhere,
playing family on her own.

When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.

Read more "Homework"

Being Young, 21

Being young, 21, is everything
For wisdom does not come with age
Only tired bones and fade
And maturity means accustomed to
The crumbling of a once great temple, you
Invisible now, featureless, faceless
That’s the rub of the wrinkly skinned
Who live in seaside towns, with mothballs twinned
And all this whilst the beautiful people
Run like gazelles, screw like rabbits, have such delicious fun
God, it’s just not fair, though once I was there
In the class of being young, 21

Read more "Being Young, 21"

To Settle the Night

Sky streaks lavender and orange to lowering blue.
Night chill rises, flicking at pants legs, leaf piles,
dampens sidewalk to footstep skate.
Beyond the greasy click of a security gate,
last birds circle to settle on a sleeping roost,
scavengers slink the hedge lines,
eroded wastes of tree root, fence rot.
Phone-nervous, the late-working husband,
lover late with wine and Chinese
hustles towards an unsettled greeting.

Read more "To Settle the Night"

Half Capacity

lacking logic
who is essential
who isn’t
claiming following science
churches closed
strip clubs open
gyms closed
liquor stores open
corporate box stores open
mom-and-pops closed
restaurants and critical thinking
both at half capacity

Read more "Half Capacity"

Portrait of Progress Lake by the First Fish from Bragi’s Calf Muscle

The eagle’s knees, they speak to me in legalese
Today. The sun is crying; its cedilla couldn’t be
A mere façade! A rotting moon and decomposing

Stars invented yesterday, its bats and troubles.
Dolly Varden swam through history’s jittery
Arteries to get here. Swans without ressentiment

Sing Dolly Parton songs. The sky is like a queen
Without a nose to every lesser long-nosed bat.
The S&P 500 tries to steal this mental real estate,

Pretending it’s a moral act. I eat their R&D, and
Do it trenchantly, astonishing my food with
Time’s mayoral tact. Now every day’s a crisis,

Sexually attracted to cat urine. Emily Post says
Ours is not a time for overrating first impressions.
I, too, founded the New York Post on images

Read more "Portrait of Progress Lake by the First Fish from Bragi’s Calf Muscle"

Famished

On the menu is barbed wire
sautéed in heartless tyrannies.
The bloodied linens of the Visigoth.
Tongues of the vanquished, broiled,
with a side order of children sobbing.
And salads of inexpressible horrors.

Today’s menu includes bandage soup,
served drawn and quartered.
Knife pie, with a shotgun topping.
Visceral stew and smashed-mouth bread.
And the special, baked heads and hands,
which are, we think, to die for.

Read more "Famished"

First Memory

The picnic table. My sister’s
vaporous hair. Neighbors
in their unknown clothes.

I’m wild in blue shorts,
striped top. My mom’s
in my sister’s body.

The tenants of the lawn
rumble their tongues
like little engines and tickle

my untouched ankles.
I run the path of planets
around the wild grass

between the grass
between our houses. My
arms make airplanes.

Read more "First Memory"

Ode to John Ashbery

One day you finally knew
what you’d been put there to do,
and did it
while the loud voices rang louder
and tugged at your sleeve,
each cry a death cry, a flashing red sign.
But you knew.
You knew what you had to do,
though the thread unwound round you
leaving you nakeder and nakeder,
its melancholy terrible.
Then the queerest thing happened.
Being almost already too late, and too dark,
the moon threw down
a bird, a
shining wild raven and in its mouth,
a flower of life.
The stars burned in its brilliance,
at first saw themselves shyly
then danced and shone round to
find themselves extraordinary.

Read more "Ode to John Ashbery"

A Drink to End the World

The map of the world has changed
since I photographed you;
faded in its frame,
ink lighter with the seasons.
No Siam, no Burma,
one Vietnam.

Across the room
your cheekbones are sharper,
hair shorter, bright blonde as
your lips and nails are red.
Aroma from a whiskey tumbler reveals
polite wine lost to single malt.
Surgical, your laugh slices the room,
precise as heels across an Aztec tile floor.
You step out where I stand
to smoke, to stare at the waxing moon.

Read more "A Drink to End the World"

Word Arrives from Kennedy Creek Falls that Old Olympic Highway is to Die For

Fortuna believes there’s something inherently wrong with this place
Only because she came here for tuna. It just goes to show you
History always lets newness and strangeness pollute the land;

A sort of win for the pinnacle of peace. The shortest
Hills have a purple smell in the evening, when, in Summit
Lake’s somniloquy, purple smells of shortbread. Unspoken,

The truth, with the eyes of Oyster Bay on it, is acting out.
Like every man does when alone on some nights, the creek is tumbling
Over an ancient basalt flow. “There’s tumbling,” the mature

Timber says, “and there’s tumbling.” The oak trees stand by these muddy
Trails and their failed predictions like Anakites. Science says all
The old highways are unique, but quite similar to highways

Read more "Word Arrives from Kennedy Creek Falls that Old Olympic Highway is to Die For"

The Robot Petting Zoo

Look for it close to the Amazon warehouse district,
not race tracks or the railroad station.

Don’t expect auto-vacuums or auto-lawnmowers,
it’s a fur-ever home for snuggle pups that don’t grow

into rambunctious black labs and for calico cuddle cats
that purr at any touch and home in on shoulders

in bed. Admission fees are need-based; declare
your loneliness on a scale of one to ten. Best

to come alone for the cheapest price, and best
deals are on Friday just after work, advertised

as Thank God I Feel Friday when you have one hour
for free. Leave your striped tie at home; the goat

teases by trying to chew on ties but gladly accepts
carrots. Shoelaces are sometimes a problem.

Read more "The Robot Petting Zoo"

One Night on the Riverbed

Nighttime medicine, 
Benzene blue his eyes and soul— 
How slowly we fall. 

Silent Lorelei,
An embrace of glassy green
On my skin again. 

Dark blue, pinhole stars,
My body the midnight sky
Bending over his.

Hand on hand. Dreams slip
Into the underbelly
Of the universe. 

Read more "One Night on the Riverbed"

I love my dog more than my dad

I love my dog more than my dad
By a distance, not a tad
There I’ve said it, the cardinal sin
Preference for a canine to my next of kin
His big floppy ears, doughy eyes, cold wet nose
Means more to me than my father’s bones
That lay in a grave, I hope at peace
My accidental parent, who came from the East
And whilst my dog showers me with kisses
I remember the drink, the rows, the Christmases
He was never there, never told us he cared
But still I loved this boy soldier, unrecovered man
Though not as much as I love my dog
Sorry dad, I hope you understand

Read more "I love my dog more than my dad"

Broadcast

Seventy languages heard
in the bazaar of Dioscurias,
today’s tower of Babel
streaming terrible news.
Spleens vented and faux miracle cures,
the process a disembodied entity.
A dunce in his dark corner,
pulling out a plum.
Tales of the demi-demon’s hellfire.
The annals of blah.
When fear and ignorance wed
the fools’ opinion bred.

Read more "Broadcast"

What Crows Say About Black

What else is black?

A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
hunting metallically.
Flat wings, smear soot thin.

A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle

the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time

hearing white tail bucks stamp
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.

Read more "What Crows Say About Black"

The Beard On My Face

She used to touch the beard on my face,
Whether nascent or full,
And stroke it with two fingers.
She would indulge in the bristles
As they bit tenderly into her chin
When we kissed and kissed
The way we used to
Kiss and kiss.
She loved when it was mostly brown and a little blonde and ginger
And loved it more when the white began to overtake the brown and blonde
And touch of ginger.
If I shaved because it’s not our world but theirs
And I must get along sometimes
She would be sad but understanding of that.

Read more "The Beard On My Face"

Unmasked

Repealing the
mask from my lips is
not an act of protest.
no liberation has
been performed;
rather and excusatory
removal from a
collective
responsibility
we shun
in the name
of individuality

Read more "Unmasked"

Immemorial

That greedy wheedler the aspen 
shakes its golden leaves. In earth,
its shoots snatch another foot.

And a young woman suddenly died, 
quietly, from a quiet well-loved life.
No cause is known. Her eyes 
that flicked like lizards closed.

Read more "Immemorial"

We Install a Sump Pump on (What Used To Be) a Holiday (Take 4)

Horsetail is a type of weed; it never tires
Of itself. Make your big hands useful, and un-
Screw this greedy pipe. Second of all,
Habit and opinion failed to teach you;
Holly’s not a weed. Go toss it in the waste
Bin with your pride. They love mechanics,

Angels do. On PBS, they say the past is always
On the move. Well, you’re my engineer;
The past is time’s hypotenuse, right, dear?

Read more "We Install a Sump Pump on (What Used To Be) a Holiday (Take 4)"

Wildling

Comfortable in the cold,
mist tendrils rising
across morning garden,
dew-dampened boots
dry in the rising wind.
Cracking this year’s journal,
I release pleasure to the river.
Behind a dome of December clouds,
the sun struggles.

Read more "Wildling"

Horizon Views

Ocean to horizon…
land to horizon…
a woman stands
between.

She stares at the distance
and dreams of where
driftwood was born
as its temporary home
snags her shore.

Read more "Horizon Views"

I Love Trees

Standing tall, resolute in thunderstorms,
blizzards or sunshine, bending in breezes, 

home to squirrels, hummingbirds and
owls. Silent, wonderfully silent in quiet 

majesty, bothering nothing, existing, living 
in due course their destiny without rancor, 

war or bitterness. Who lives here with more 
grace and dignity than trees? Who is it?

Read more "I Love Trees"

So You Know Who You Are

Never a moment of still air. Memories
a rib-crack and a hard hard way to breathe.

In the living room a dream like an infection
hid beneath the couch covers. I kept my eyes closed

tight. What happens when a past looms against endless sky
spilling cyclones and debris. Whimpers, strings

of saliva, the space between his teeth, her doggy
long tongue. I kept my eyes closed. Displaced wind,

outside squeezing through the crack beneath
a door. What happens when history gasps.

Read more "So You Know Who You Are"

the still water that runs deep

somewhere on the coastline of my memory, two girls and a slick canoe
glide across a blue puddle, their opposite oars dipping in tandem.

one girl stands and stumbles like a wave overcome,
while the other sits and stares at their watery window.

beneath the girls, liquid glass and undersea sidewalk.
beyond them, a fish’s bones settled at the brink

of a sandbar’s black out. the girls are only canoeing because
the wave-like one is scared of fish, and feels their lips against her feet

Read more "the still water that runs deep"

April

the clouds hinted of old bedsheets
left on too long
and then the fog fell clammy
in a downing with the sun
and we were so cold
the wet seemed like wind
and the turns in the road
like twists in a tortured gut
until the steam rose with bravado
from the lonely sugar shack.

Read more "April"

Convalescent

My body the underside
Of a river at night, dark blue water
Strewn with a pinch of stars.
All is quiet now that I’ve lost
The will to fight. All I can conjure up
Is a lonesome silent fish, a gentle splash
Of gold on the face of the moon.
Then all falls backs into the soft,
Watery black. I’m on my back,
And my legs will not move.

All I can do is wait to be reborn.

Read more "Convalescent"

Rocket Man

I said my goodbyes, turned back to the shore, stopped trying to find you. It took me awhile, took me a few more pink striped skies, a few more mountains, a few more years. But I found my way, wrested my skin from yours, saved myself from going under. I talk to you still, the way we always talked, close and deep without platitudes or pretense. You know I have forgiven you for all the ways you almost took me with you. You didn’t mean to, never meant for me to get swept into your undertow. You tried to stop it but I was desperate for a reason to fade away.

Read more "Rocket Man"

Forest Spirit

Many selves,
a raging fire, a sparkling chasm.
viper slithers to its apogee – the sun –
almost succeeds, almost destroys –
I am justified in brevity, breathing
as I, come face to face,
and so it is – angry souls in each other’s bodies –
while August burns treacherously
in the dry grasses.

Boy leaves tracks. Life trudges.
Brooding, endorsing the searing sun,
Can’t close the seed captured here,
die brother…live sister….
no distress or bitterness or revenge –
merely randomness that
divides itself unmercifully

Read more "Forest Spirit"

i forget i fell asleep with you and can’t think of anything sweeter

you fall asleep with coffee breath, & the rain starts, hitting the sidewalk
as the dog whistles. the dog is whistling next to you & everything is
silent still. i imagine the noise of nothing sliding through the house. at
our world’s end, olive bread. so we ripped it off the loaf. our last meal
in the big house that no longer feels like ours. scattered we are,
segmented. yeasty fingers finding mouths & tasting only closeness.

Read more "i forget i fell asleep with you and can’t think of anything sweeter"

Wisps

Woman’s white hair
wisps across like fog
on mountain top
lifting, trailing mist,
mop of paralyzed
particles hiding eyes.

Bridge ends
in reflection
disturbed by wind;
ripples span
to opposite shore.

Read more "Wisps"

dialing down rage

in the shrink’s waiting room, in a big comfy chair, 
white noise machine cranked up full blast with 
new age flutes floating out of Bose speakers 
strategically placed to get wired up guys like
 
me calmed down, chilled out before entering 
the sacred temple of mental and spiritual 
restoration. they need me a bit numb before
beginning the session, actually eased off the 

ledge of discontent upon which I’m generally 
perched. And I gotta say, the waiting room
ambience generally does the trick

Read more "dialing down rage"

Patricide At the Dog Howl Cartoon

Father, my heart freezes
stiff as those chickens
when that slaughter truck overturned
in the blizzard of ‘78

and as I walked through the empty
snow world I kicked them,
feathers all over the road.

There is mother
in smoke and shame
hiding her face how the dead
know to do. Father,
her dark eyes hair skin all
a howl of rain.

Read more "Patricide At the Dog Howl Cartoon"

The Search

I squirrel for your key among the bird routes
and airplane flights in the blue hummed daylight.
I dig for you in lowest drawers of desks
where duties cement my legs and
cubicles encompass what’s left.

If life ever careens through, we could
rendezvous in dialogue at night’s dock.
As stowaways in bed, we might kiss
and kite our private lightening
into the bugle-blare of dawn.

Read more "The Search"

First Light

First light through the curtains
I find myself simultaneously
four billion years old
and newly made as bread dough.
Pillowcase wrinkles
on my face are spacetime,
my bed aloft on cosmic riptides.
From here I can see every particle
entangled with every other particle.
From here, reality is infinity
expressed in intricate calculations.

Read more "First Light"

how clandestine can a day be?

in the morning my hands hold an ocean. a ghost
of a note hanging on a clothesline the air plays

each night. i put it there but i don’t remember. i feel fine at dawn &
a needle weaves its yarn around slick fingers like a travelling sun.

my hands are faster than my feet so they dig a well. i think
in another life i’d have been a slug. pulling against myself always
leaving discard gossamer.

Read more "how clandestine can a day be?"

how i cried anyway

my father and i do not look alike
at first glance, but

we have the same scar on our chins
from falling off our bikes and

leaving a bit of ourselves behind,
red bifurcating again and again in the cement,

so strange to imagine how our skin
closed hastily, unevenly

(easing pain is not the same
as making smooth again). 

Read more "how i cried anyway"

The Vernal Equinox

Each quarter-turn carries an invitation.
Spring’s on-again, off-again wind calls for séance, 
candlesticks and musky incense, perhaps sage. 

My mug of coffee cools fast. I do not fight
in-between-ness, transience set in scarcity.
No angels, fireworks, zombies or astronomers’

star stampedes. The clay pots hold slime browns
of marigolds and geraniums that bloomed
last August. The glass table for al fresco July

dining is spread in algae scum. Alder catkins
clog the birdbath. A one-inch Japanese maple
sprouts from the pot that once waved gold feather grass. 

Read more "The Vernal Equinox"

Venice

the hardest thing

about this memory is
how it keeps coming back

to me, still

holding warmth like peach tea
left out in midday sun like
the midday sun that came

floating back

across the canal white rose petals

skitter-scattered

across the ruffled surface
released by hesitant hands and

coming home

shivering.

Read more "Venice"

Our Danny Petoskey

The anniversary of his death is the cruelest fishhook. Yanking us back, violently. When the days turn crisp, as they have now, when summer fades and autumn crawls into our tiny farming town—that’s when we most grieve our fallen classmate. One year we tried to ignore the date, but the hook came anyway and somehow was even more brutal. So now we meet it head on: we make a day of it. The downtown is strewn with somber-black ribbon. Coffee is shared and then, later, whiskey. We pass the yearbook, we muse, we moan. If a stranger such as you wanders by, the story is told in fullest detail.

Read more "Our Danny Petoskey"

Smooth Still

The orange ranunculus
dropped its petals

like a soft feather war—
a dead fire bird,

a phoenix on the ground,
smooth still like the milk

puddles, lining the sink.
They boiled a thing

and it remained,
like homesickness

like depression, like ants
coming in from the rain.

Read more "Smooth Still"

the door, the tornado

that was so big it could hold a thousand hearts racing
at the sight of a face they thought would never show up again
beating down the road like a breathless storm or worse,
finding only the wind’s racket forced into a fist
perfectly rapturous and strange how we’re all picked up
and dropped off at some other threshold. fate and chance
met up this way, plucked and flung in the same gust
like a thousand seeds mingling into entirety.

Read more "the door, the tornado"

agenda

1) keep listing main bankrollers destroying Nature: boycott

2) advocate “ignorance-based world view” a la Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry: elaborate
& celebrate

3) UCS clubs @ colleges and universities designing lively biology curricula pre-K thru PhD:
NO to gene splicing

4) support J. Hagelin proposals: no more cyclotrons

5) meditate on Higgs boson: don’t agitate it

6) separate good science from bad tech

7) unite good joyous science with diverse pagan religions

Read more "agenda"

Snapping the Threads

Tickertape, the entire sky is a New Year’s prom—
Streamers ripple, pour:
cars, floats, crowds waving
grey-speckled from news reels.
Here’s a war time ceremony preceding
the main feature. Here is intermission,
a pause between acts…

Now real life resumes, paper to be filled.
Thread after thread, it’s a delicate balance,
an arachnid dangling to plunge
like Amelia Earhart.

Read more "Snapping the Threads"

Beyond Reach

Like the arc of an asteroid’s predicted landing
none of us are sure what’s yet to come as we ignore
skin’s craving. We stay in this strange apart space where
we cannot shake hands hug dance kiss cannot simply slide
next to one another on couch park bench diner booth as we’ve
always sat, loops for the same belt.

Read more "Beyond Reach"

a mi sheberach

for so long, i wanted to be pink,
like my tights, like the ribbons,
soft and satin. 
i wanted to fit just right,
like blush fastening itself to my cheeks
and forehead when it’s the middle of the night
and the sun still burns in the air,
like the last drops of afternoon sliding
off the clouds to follow it.
i wanted to be girl, to be sweet,
to be rose without thorns,
to be dress, to be pure. 
i resented red in all her brashness.

Read more "a mi sheberach"

Pandora’s Moon

Let’s forget the echoes                                              
of my thirtieth year
for there’s refuge                               
in the night and the moon.
 
Moonlit night                                     
where imagination stretches starward.
Moonlit night                                     
where my name falls off like an autumn leaf.
Moonlit night                                     
where I’m a sapling attune to winter wind.
Moonlit night                                     
where my past hibernates, ant-sized.

Read more "Pandora’s Moon"