30 September 2012

Writing Spider

the tattered web is a crazed platter
silver borders of a blue map
or a skater's bladed figures
on the camera man’s shadow

29 September 2012


tell me
does a sparrow heart start
with fear
when the sleet assaults this hard
this early
on a stark september

28 September 2012

Windshields and Fallen Leaves

for a few moments
it clung to the glass
the pace perfect the
invisible palm

of air cupping it
there as long as i
fondled the gas and
watered down fast with slow

27 September 2012


reading from screens
will spell the end
to these affairs
the heart’s skipped beats
beneath paper
roofs that woo with
inky perfumes

remember when
the words made you
stop reading and
you spread the book
on your breast and
secured the spine
beneath your chin

it was too much
too much to bear
so you held up
your finger to
your lover’s lips
your not-quite touch
bidding them hush

26 September 2012

i run my tongue

i run my tongue
around my teeth

the sentry
while others sleep
pacing the weathered parapet

the blind finger
of the climber
gawking a hold

the hound along
the garden wall
sniffing a toad

the flouncing fool who
from cranny to merlon drools
cringing his blister bells

the newt hooksli-
ding into its
cold bouldered stream

i numb my tongue
in a boon of ice cream

25 September 2012

Freeze Tag or Stuck in the Mud

the choked down supper of collards
and the cornbread’s butter still on the knife
the soft knocking at the screen door
and the teasing wafting in from outside

the metallic taste of out-of-breath blood
and the nagging gnats in the eyes
the fairy queen lift of lightning bugs
and the slow-down stitch in the side

and that’s when the neighborhood cheat shows up
and there is, always, forever, one such
the running away, unfrozen
and resurrected, but untouched

24 September 2012

Sleepless Saloon

I’m a saloon door on
my bed swinging from side
to side but no one is
coming in going out

no gunmen with grudges
no barmaids with whiskey
no sheriffs with bullet-
-scarred stars and no boys with

any down burning barn
breathless news running in
just dreamless tossing and
turning and nodding off

and startling on again

23 September 2012

Heavenly Host

what an unexpected spider
to fly into this homespun silk
means not to be stunned then cocooned
but to be served cookies and milk

22 September 2012

The Number 4

in space, like so
trace the compass
with your finger
east west north south

play the maestro
memory gone
who lost his place
but tip-toed on

21 September 2012

Winter Wheat

they will lift
a future bread
from oven earth

its door opening upward
like a storm cellar
or a trapdoor in a theatre

and they will begin by kneeling
in the clods with their tractors

and when they break the dirt-loaves
to find the darker-damp pocket inside
they will smile

they still know
that the dust will come up
before anything else

but winter long
their faith will see
that levitating grain

with her dirty blond hair falling
toward the sky
and not a stage

20 September 2012

Theology of the Unfinished Poem

is it okay
for me to pray
for my sick poem

just like i might
my dying dog
or your lost coin

19 September 2012


now all my eves
are hallowed eves

and my heart hurts
inside my ears

night by night
i go as a ghost

from our bedroom
to the living

room wrapped in you
that is, cloaked in

one of your new
cadmium white

lightning loomed
pure cotton sheets

and fall asleep
on the old couch

my “you, too” trapped
in my blue mouth

18 September 2012

Rainbow II

a rainbow is
the powerful arm
its elbow soft abundant bend
its sleeveless sweep
its reach congruent to its grasp
touching treasure at either end

17 September 2012

Antietam: Five Fragments

The self-proclaimed world’s leading living authority on “everything Antietam” lived at the old Walter Reed. On my last visit, he slipped me this small sheaf of handwritten/typewritten papers from his massive stack of torn sheets from various books. “It’s pronounced with four syllables. Try it. Aunt, tea, et, tam.”
He grinned his disarming grin. “It rhymes with my war, you know. See what you think of my poem.” The legible portions are presented below:

It’s a strange way
to harvest corn.
Shot and shell and
calvary charge (cavalry?) hah!

Pa, I want you to have me a pair of boots made.
Those shoes you had made for me ripped all to pieces.
I have got the suit on that you sent me.
If I had a good pair of boots I would be the best
clothed man in the regiment.
I have nothing more for my paper is scarce.
Write soon to your only son.

for as far as the eye could reach
was the glitter of the swaying
points of the yankee bayonets
we camped under the apple trees
finally had something to eat

Dear Wife,
I dreamed of home night before last.
Saw you at the window and you kissed me.
Is that not quite a soldier’s dream?
In this letter I send you a bit of gold lace
such as the officers have.
This I cut from a rebel officer's coat
on the battlefield. He was a Lieut.
Yours as ever. Do write soon.

just the names themselves are stark (brutal/brilliant)
enough, not to mention
the sawn bones and the blood-run creek

Dunker Church, and if you guessed Baptist
you’d be right

Sunken Road, and if you wagered bloodbath or
Bloody Lane
you’d be right again, right as rain from the night before

Rohrbach Bridge over the Red Sea, (rohr=reed, pipe/bach=creek)
but here, unlike the Bible, it is literally true, you see
the water ran red with reunion blood

the dainty poets speak of tea and jam
but Antietam whispers another name,
this one with three syllables
pronounce it An-ti-et-am, and you will hear it
faintly, as from a shell

Tuesday 4:04 a.m.

16 September 2012


since every t is a cross
(the naked stick figure treeing)
and every i with its dot
(a lighthouse for sacred seeing)

so when in black on white my pen
stabs the seeing-eye upon the stem
spreads, again, the carpenter’s arms

the impersonal it becomes
the mark of total devotion

15 September 2012

House of Habit

each day a new wall would come down
and the wreckage carried away
first the pastel interior
and then the exterior stone
but the frames for the doors remained

so they kept on using the doors
but the raccoons and the squirrels
the suns and the moons
they would just saunter through
where the walls used to be

but they kept using the doors
opening and closing them
walking in and out of them
using their keys when they'd come home
and checking the locks when they'd leave

14 September 2012


we dare to speak of beauty
as if we can see and know
but is it something we be-
hold, or something we bestow

This is a deceptively simple poem that is intricately layered with formal qualities that help carry it along. Each of the 4 lines has 7 syllables. Most of the words are mono-syllables, with only 4 words with more than one: beauty, behold (as you put it back together across lines 3 and 4), bestow, and something (used twice).

The long "e" marches through each line: we speak, we see, we be(hold), we be(stow). The second line, the line about perception and knowledge, is composed entirely of simple words from an elementary speller.

Finally, the breaking of be/hold - which may be, arguably, an ugly move - nonetheless disperses language so that the reader can engage in the sport of re-gathering the four separate meanings for the conclusion of the poem:
Beauty is
...something we be
...something we hold
...something we behold
...something we bestow

13 September 2012

Watermark: Pool is Closed

the pretty French blue you see
is not the water's marquee
but the sky-lit bottom of a placid pool

and a chair is not a chaise
and a towel is no escape
from the refracted gazes of an old fool

10 September 2012

The Whipping Tree

it’s really just a stump
the stump of a sweetgum tree
but you can’t kill it
and we’ve tried to kill it
bleach and ax and fire and cairn

the shoots make great switches
and we harvest them according to the offense
three or four or five or more
my mother prefers that we strip all the leaves
leaving the node-bumps as stingers

except for the one tender leaf at the very tip
which flies away, an artistic touch,
on the first blow, the tiny green

of our defeated kingdom

09 September 2012

After Dark

crickets fiddling after dark
or, I guess that’s what
they are
the unremitting alarms
of ten thousand cartoon cars

08 September 2012

Dream Horse

not to ride
just to see
the splashing
of that proud
nodding head

Original Image: G. Adams.
Altered Image: B.R.

07 September 2012

06 September 2012

Seven Ages

throwing goldfish crackers on the floor for the dog
making my first best friend
throwing pappy bread snowflakes toward trumpeter swans
witnessing cold, first hand
throwing sugary sand at dragon zaggingflies
spangling their glassy pond
throwing fistfuls, at nightfall, of gravel at bats
testing their sonar wands
throwing bravado kisses to perfect strangers
mocking my own lonesome
throwing good money and better pearls after wine
trumping women and song
throwing off the covers and pulling out the lines
sloughing off the despond

05 September 2012

A-1 Fabrications

we've got bald-face lies for unblushing brides
distortions and contortions for more modest types
fine fables and frauds for fences and frogs
and deceitful applause for all your sleeping dogs

04 September 2012

The Coming Cold

où est le pain
pour demain?
où est l'eau
pour l'agneau?

en l'automne
les levres
sont pour

en l'hiver
les livres
sont pour

Le Froid Approchant
where is the bread
for tomorrow
where is water
for the lamb

in autumn
the lips
are for

in winter
the books
are for

03 September 2012

Riddle on Bucket Truck Grill

bone with silver wire
but why is it there?

yorick allusion,
dog taunt,
or, the old prophet’s

combustible breath?

02 September 2012

Sunday Sonnet: Heartbreak Ridge

I stayed up way too late watching Heartbreak
. Didn’t even finish it. How does
it end? Got my usual four hours
of tossing and turning before taking
the dogs for their walk. Showered, packed a kit
for hiking (thinking I'd go after the
service), and grabbed my Bible. The sermon,
if you can call it that, was from Mark 6.

We had a decent crowd today: 14
total (11 residents and 3
visitors). Claire was there for the first time
and she was, from the start, eager to leave.

After the closing hymn, “Jesus What a
Friend for Sinners,” I took her back to the
second floor, just outside the lunchroom,
and she whispered me to stay, “Don’t leave me.”

01 September 2012

Carpe diem, tempus fugit, and all that

while my skin is still
skin and not parchment
will you not touch it
sketch maps upon it

while my lips are still
lips and not blue minnows
will you not hear them
wade in their shallows