30 November 2012


from atlas north to sacrum south
I run in soft curves
an odd-numbered highway perhaps
but a subway, in some ways,
is probably a better

picture the hard outer shell
filled with the soft caramel
and vanilla nugget, sounds like
candy, let’s call them passengers, riding inside,
who spill out at the last

stop just north
of the municipal zoo
nervous commuters on the wrong side of town
their Times rolled tight
like a constable’s baton floating toward

the safety of the cages,
to see the hurdy-gurdy tigers
and the snow leopards, since they are felinophiles,
let’s call them cat lovers, their hands in their pockets
fingering their make-believe

coins, called tokens, and then finally, ultimately, toward
their rank unruly yours untruly
snoring stretching belching roaring
king and queen of everything,
not just jungle, rumbling loins

He said, "Toe-may-toe."
She said, "Tuh-mah-tuh."
He said, "Roaring lions."
She said, "Warring loins."

29 November 2012

The Suitor

sing your song for me
for four hundred nights
beneath my window
and I will be yours

and you will be mine
and so he came night
after nighty night
with his toy guitar

in rain and snow and
sleet and thunderstorms
past snarling bloodhounds
wasps and scorpions

and then the neighbors
started in with the
eggs and tomatoes
before finally

smashing his guitar
thinking he'd then go
away but he just
sang a capella

so week after week
he stood under her
window and sang her
her song even when

she was out dancing
with somebody else
and the seasons passed
and the year turned round

and that fateful night
finally arrived
when he rode up on
a white charger dressed

as a knight in, yes,
shining armor, tuned
his brand new guitar,
after removing

his gauntlets, of course,
cleared his throat and then
he said, “I forgot the
words,” and rode away

28 November 2012

Drive at Dawn

this was your one
invincible moment
when you presumed
to jump from the temple

so you eased the gas
pedal to the floor
and nudged the glowing
orange needle past

90 on a rainy
Route 1 morning
before chickening out
and praying

for an angel
surround while
your pulse
came down

27 November 2012

Birds of a Feather, or, What is that Wire?

THERE is no single centre, but many,
and each stopped body has its very own
ragged flight of feathered satellites, birds
so notorious for their fear of motion,
save for their own roll, pitch, and yaw, that
they patiently wait out the final gasp
before perching upon the stock-still ribs.

WHILE ropes and chains tether other orbits,
the stallion breaking and the barking dog,
defining their circles, what is that wire
that fixes these strange birds on broken things?
Perhaps the same tug that tugs the still-breathing
toward the stage to reset it, to relight it
before dawn, to carry off the carrion.

26 November 2012

Twenty Questions: Give or Take

Is this the way?
This is the way.

The only way?

Everybody come this way?

That a dragon?

No kidding?
No kidding.

Real or a dream?

Is that a riddle?

Is that Puff?
No such thing as Puff.

Is it the morphine?
It’s not the morphine.

Did my granny come this way?
Of course.

What did she do?
Offered it fruitcake and coffee.

Did that work?
What do you think?

Did my father come this way?
Are you a simpleton?

What did he do?
He kept his head down.

My mother?
She didn't ask so many questions.

Is that flame across the road?

We're just supposed to walk through?

Will it hurt?
Are you making a joke?

What about “death with dignity”?
Is that the name of a lounge act?

Are you making a joke?
Why not?

25 November 2012

A Couple of Couple Couplets

when father found a flag to fly
my momma moved the mountain by

and when she sang her sweet sad songs
my daddy dialed the darkness down

24 November 2012

Circus Clowns

how easily
we forget the
elephants that
stood on our chests

their feet hovered
but sometimes the
trainer let them

let down some of
their great weight and
our ribs creaked like
old wooden stairs

and our eyes would
roll back to find
her flying far
above us her

hand-held haloes
chirping and our
hearts pounding with
pent-up longing

muffled beneath
those enormous
feet so she heard
only the crowd

23 November 2012

An Old Poet Pens a Letter

my job was not
to free you but
to confine you

not to trigger
but to have you

see what I see
and hear as I
do to bring you

under my sway
so come into
my cell first and

look and touch and
remember and
then step up on

the stool and pull
yourself up by
the black window

bars and for as
long as your arms
hold out keep watch

over the yard
at ground level
it’s better than

a Romper Room
magic mirror
you can stroll through

the garden with
the visitors
and guards later

22 November 2012

Mother and Child

that's my momma
with the wild hair

and that dark disk
to the left is

a man’s hat that
slipped off my head

and that’s my fist
which was the same

size my heart was
at that time

21 November 2012

The End of Zechariah

warhorses have become
kiddie rides and jingle
bells have replaced the bruit
of chariots

and HOLY is engraved
on the slides of trombones
and the bottoms of old
cast iron skillets

and burnt out crack houses
glimmer with the brew of
ancient favour laced with
angelic bliss

20 November 2012

Your Lips

and yet
to say “your lips”
is to begin askance
for they are one not plural
a singular thing (a theatre
in the round a circle dance not square)

the tongued
an “O” folded over
just this once upon itself
the omega that comes from a match
(like a cherry turnover) of halves

19 November 2012

Nursery Rhyme

we can’t keep
each other

safe we can’t
speak our child-

hood names we
can’t peal the

wolves away
we can’t leap

the candle

18 November 2012


when you place me
in my final
crib you know the
one the one with
those shiny chrome railings

raise it up on
stilts and put chaulk
in my hand and
I will draw you
an Eve on the ceiling

17 November 2012

Naboth's Vineyard

my mother made grape jam in
batches of six straining the
steaming fruit in old dress shirts

sometimes a jar would crack in
the boiling bath and hard-won
juice would bloody the water

and she’d fish out the glass with
those far-too-short silver tongs
hot with bottled-up longing

16 November 2012

Helen of Troy

give me a break
you really think
it was her face
that launched those ships

try sandaled feet
and golden calves
and perfect curves
of thighs and hips

of breathing breasts
beneath her wrists
and yes, perhaps,
those parted lips

inside the horse
we thought about
the gifts we’d brought
long years before

those new perfumes
from distant lands
doomed suitors to
her father’s door

so curled we tossed
and hugged our shields
and dreamt away
the stench of war

15 November 2012


Against grey Time
we always lose.

Our brilliant moves
are winked with praise

then swept away
with words like these:

"Crown me, or as
some say, King me."

14 November 2012

The Equine Eye

the fence
was moon-

light white
the night

the snow

and now
it’s just

but the

grass is

13 November 2012

12 November 2012

Train at Dawn above Your Town

I’m taking that train again
in the hills above your town
and the fog is rising up
with the morning collar of
your favorite off-white blouse

kitchen lights are switched on and
the morning crew warm their hands
at contraband oil drum fires
and I’m not dreaming of my
face buried in your cold hair

11 November 2012

Poppy Day

when you fall
asleep you
leave me for
a far country

as I watch
your breathing
settle at
the border crossing

so is this
how we re-
hearse for that
final parting

the poison
in tiny
doled-out doses?

10 November 2012

A Vet's Request

dance for me
and no one

your arms like
liquid wings

chopper blades
they’ll vanish

you dance for
me and not

09 November 2012

Stable Doors

do you remember when
we built these stable doors
in the heat that summer

and the chestnut yearlings

snorted at the scent of
paint after nodding at
the pounding of hammer

08 November 2012

Cookie Jar

a mother
or father
or just some-
one taller

reached up and
handed down
then stashed a-
way again

no need for
a ladder
or a tip-
toe totter

so where's my
sweet treasure
hidden now
is it on

that long low
shelf in the
house where the

hosts stand guard
against my
dying doubts

07 November 2012

Birds of Prey: Still Life in the Snow

today it snowed
and we were shocked

that it came so
early in the year

but the barrel
of water still

amplified the
whole wide world to

us and when the
gusts came we made

ourselves small and
eavesdropped on

the mice in the
dried leaves below

but they were safe
from our swooping

since they were still
breathing (noisy

as snow), moving
(noisier still)

06 November 2012

Birds of Prey

we roost to warm
our black feathers

on the water
tower not for

the vantage point
but for the bounce

of sun and sound
off the round steel

the height is just
the ambience

from which we’ll launch
our hot shadows

05 November 2012


there is
a bridge
from here
to there

from her
to him
from we
to them

from root
to stem
from blood
to bruise

from win
to lose
from wind
to still

there is
a bridge
to then
from now

to when
from how
to hope
from doubt

to heal
from hurt
to sky
from dirt

that sways
with a
glaze of

04 November 2012

Hollywood Stock

a perfect fox at 3 o'clock
right out of central casting, hollywood stock
his bearing and his body
and especially his hair
as warren zevon would sing, was perfect

there were no signs of sleeping
in the dirt or a lack of nourishing
diet his coat was lush and the colour of
melted brown sugar and honey
with burnt orange highlights

his tail was full and not wispy at all
it was rounded at the tip
kind of like a moderately-used pencil eraser or
the half round of a snow cone, pre-juiced,
so perfectly white

he walked - there was no trot nor hurry at all
and certainly no slinking
his head was up and level
and he just moved straight ahead,
parallel with the road, about ten feet from the sidewalk

like a confident executive going to a meeting,
but knowing if he happened to be a tad late
everyone would be waiting
on him

03 November 2012

Playing with your food

the last two slices of apple
can make for some pretty pictures
the straight edges placed face to face
create a red-skinned valentine

a stenciled S if fault lines slipped
flipped side by side they’re two eyebrows
spun, they become a butterfly
yo-yo, then languid angel-wings

at right angles, sailboat and sail
and then when balanced on their arcs
they make two rockers without their horse
the carvings of a man's remorse

02 November 2012

Theodore Gabriel

there he is his
heart beating in
a field of stars

an astronaut
or test pilot
on the ultra-

sound screen and then

the week he fell
in slow motion
the coupling gel

applied again
and again by
the technician

so sorry said

as she wipes off
your belly and
pulls down your blouse

four days later
he crashes in
a blaze of sheets

and frantic towels

01 November 2012

Wax and Wrought Iron

to her
words were
places where
you entered
tucked and hid


where you might
find yourself
fenced out then
gathered in