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.
She used to touch the beard on my face,
mask from my lips is
not an act of protest.
no liberation has
rather and excusatory
removal from a
in the name
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.
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?
Comfortable in the cold,
mist tendrils rising
across morning garden,
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.
I’m A Vaccine Against Dumb Mistakes
and I’m here to rescue you
who want to borrow money,
Nigerian princes and
misspelling Johns Hopkins.
I am here to stop you from
texting while driving,
applying mascara while driving,
eating while driving,
(you get the idea)
Ocean to horizon…
land to horizon…
a woman stands
She stares at the distance
and dreams of where
driftwood was born
as its temporary home
snags her shore.
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?
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.
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
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.
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"
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"
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
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.
Woman’s white hair
wisps across like fog
on mountain top
lifting, trailing mist,
mop of paralyzed
particles hiding eyes.
disturbed by wind;
to opposite shore.
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
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.
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.
First light through the curtains
I find myself simultaneously
four billion years old
and newly made as bread dough.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
across the canal white rose petals
across the ruffled surface
released by hesitant hands and
shivering.Read more "Venice"
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"
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 depression, like ants
coming in from the rain.
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.
1) keep listing main bankrollers destroying Nature: boycott
2) advocate “ignorance-based world view” a la Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry: elaborate
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 religionsRead more "agenda"
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.
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.
sat by the well,
weary and hot,
In her eyes
(if you looked
was a yearning
She was wistful,
with a tiny tear
her fragile face.
I could almost
hear his name
on the winds
of the desert.
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.
Let’s forget the echoes
of my thirtieth year
for there’s refuge
in the night and the moon.
where imagination stretches starward.
where my name falls off like an autumn leaf.
where I’m a sapling attune to winter wind.
where my past hibernates, ant-sized.
Sittin’ to the left of Gandhi
Peaceful intentions and all
Honolulu Zoo behind me
Girls playing volleyball
Yet, the world burns in more ways than one
My wife in the water, with beautiful fishRead more "Left of Gandhi"
After a night of therapeutic bottle and blunt passing
He wakes on earth at 5AM
In a lumpy bed
He goes to the airport in his overalls
Brandishing a handkerchief
He scrubs the thick plastic windows
With long handles bruises
He watches the jets take off
They move hot through the endless sky
We only say it correctly when we’re learning to spell it, a hint of brew, this month more soft-spoken than the last, and short – though Valentine roses’ petals fall before ice melts. Oh, some whisper it as a synonym for claustrophobia, closing down or slamming doors so fast that cold lurks abandoned out there where invisibles moan and something smelly hides under the front steps.Read more "February"
this humo ludens collaborans
has many plans
down on my knees
with every breath
we take in oxygen
gifts from forests, meadows, mosses & ferns
Can you see us through the gate? the Tutelo ask.
I sprayed it apple red last winter, aerosol in my lungs.
Must be more careful in the time of masks.
But the red. The red! You can see it a quarter mile away, walking up the lane.
Crooked door opening to a wide mossy bed of poplar and walnut.
Shadows bend into each other. Locust limbs rest on the lazy fence.
An old wooden coop, emptied years back by the fox, sits where the home place was.
One hundred years and one thousand acres: apple orchard.
The caretaker’s house, rows of seven sisters’ roses wild and pink still push out
At the spring house. Into the north pasture.
A cemetery of pushed grey stones at the corner.
Tiny round-faced vaquita porpoises,
dark-eyed mountain gorillas,
intricately striped Sumatran tigers,
so many species disappearing
under greed’s heavy boots
although the loss seems abstract
as we stop at Costco for groceries,
fill up the car before heading home.
A light rain washes clean the leaves, the green melody of freedom from the city’s nightmares. Time rolls past, fast or slow, no one knows, like the mists that rise up and settle down upon the Smoky Mountains. Days lose their distinctions, their names. Dust, thick and heavy in the sun, embraces the rain like new love refusing to let go and calms the road down, clearing the air, the sky, the pathway love must travel to embrace a new rain.Read more "Last Chance Road"
Pessimism is natural, like Type-1 Diabetes, liver, heart disease. The Caddy, Miata, they’re not there because you’re now half-full or half alive, but -dead. Drive.Read more "38 Dollar Store Candles"
Now all I hear is my own hum so turn again to the window where a broken line of parked cars dots the whitening sidewalk, as the sun englobes the street in crisp detail and vivifies the skeletal oaks that scratch against the sky, implying the chimes of birds about to arrive. I lean against my window, note the dust motes pillowed on the glass like a moleculed yawn, so grab a rag and spot, on the ledge, two piebald pigeons strutting and pulsing back and forth as they peck along the sill in sync.Read more "Flight"
As if backyard tennessee reaches the edge of the pacific chipping granite til it bleeds sweet tea crickets refusing to be reined or digitized too hot for mason jars or any lidsRead more "Ready for Anything"
I wonder who lives in the house
With the bright red chimney, someone must
For on cold winter mornings
Smoke bellows from the stack
And the smell of freshly baked bread
Stops me in the thaw and snap
So, I linger for a moment
And stare at this dreamy abode
Lit by the soft edges of snow clouds
And the sun a pale embroidered gold
‘All is well with the world’ then I say to myself
All is well in the house with the red chimney
Do not excite about the newfangled spangles of your daughter without recalling your participation in the decimation of ours. You walked many paces ahead of my panicky lungs zestful in glory that you could outpace me away from your cells multiplying into something ours for a short verse.Read more "Love Poem to My Ex-Husband Who is About to Become a Father"
Blast! over the last ridge before pasture. The great white sycamore shatters the oriole’s net-nest. An autumn olive catches the fledgling, embraces its beating heart. Singed by relentless summer, hills west waver/duck at the gale.Read more "The Furies"
This rain pounds the arch hall with a glass roof, vexations of puddles over and above the axles, no time to witness how slowly the tulip emerges in curled lips like cups. Chills of wet hair.Read more "For the Young Who Are Afraid"
Fixed and firm you pull out frames slice wax caps and dip into combs of liquid gold. You tug red cashmere over platinum waves then smooth a tight, white skirt.Read more "For Sylvia"
Life, the iredeemer. No wonder there’s a God, not unlike there’s hate and always a dollar in St. Anthony’s change for a cigarette from the Pakistani or Indian bodega kept up by a family who kneels just the same to different names, and praises the canonized coin in their jars writ with wishes that God won’t stop depositing dimes or spare quarters for some beatific order: smoke, family, like love. What cans to be had.Read more "Redemption"
You see power lines and I see twilight But you follow me everywhere, even when I sail across seas, live in other countries, speak foreign languages. Especially when I speak foreign languages. They remind me of your many tongues, fingers in my mouth, body like a map revealing unknowns that make me all at once prepared and still afraid.Read more "This Wasn’t Supposed to Be About You"