Open Carry

Babies, ice cream cones, umbrellas, cell phones, walking sticks,
Groceries, the newspaper, a fresh pizza, flowers for the one you love,
Car keys, a purse, pen and paper, a snack, reading glasses,
A book, two books, a Bible, a pair of gloves, lip balm, a lipstick,
Bicycle helmet, a hairbrush, gum and breath mints, a hand mirror,
Earbuds and a pocket watch, a penknife, nail clippers,
Camera, screwdriver, hammer and pliers, a wrench,
Flip-flops and a towel, a folding chair, a handkerchief,
Which is a very strange word when you look at it,
A Leatherman, another strange word, but we got used to it

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Bully

Barely standing, he pushes people over
with harsh words soaked in a menacing tone
that occasionally trembles when a bit of phlegm
catches in his throat.

You better believe in Jesus when he corners you,
or be ready to.

You better be ready to give him your full attention,
or his feeble voice will boom, and his face will redden
as it moves closer to yours.

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Pietà

I am lying, arms helpless at my side and sunk into the tiny gravity wells
Formed by ribs and hip bones, framed in this comfortable chair.
It’s only a nap, in a chair that is not my mother, its arms not my mother’s arms,
Yet I sense that I am upheld by love, and a poem runs through my sleepy thoughts.
I am aware of my hands cupped without care or purpose, at full useless repose,
And I think of marble, of a sculpted body eternally at rest, perhaps the Christ
Released from the agony of crucifixion, the artist carving his ahistorical palm
Wounds like lovers’ openings in a waiting corpse, tender lips traced through the Shadows of holy

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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