31 December 2013

After Advent

we would have struck
a match if we had had
a match and if we had had
a place to strike it

but there was no place
just as there was no place
in the infamous inn
but there were milky moonlets

in the frozen hoof
prints and in the frozen paw
prints: some crazy moulage
from some crazier crime

a rustling maybe
where little lambs bowed
down and doggies bowed,

31 October 2013

Dream of the Rood

I had a dream, I had a dream
I had a dream he climbed on me
The carpenter's son, he climbed on me

He had a dream, he had a dream
The angel said you better take Mary
That Joseph man, he had a dream

She had a dream, o, she had a dream
Sweet little Mary, o, she had a dream
She dreamed you'd climb on me

I had a dream, I had a dream
I had a dream, I had a dream
They cut me down and you climbed on me

I had a dream, I had dream
I had a dream he climbed on me
They cut me down and they
They cut me down and then
They cut me down and you climbed on me

11 September 2013


The cigarette of my wasted life
burning down burning down burning down
At your lips at your pretty lips
flicked away flicked away flicked away now

The cigarette of my wasted life
bad for you bad for you bad for me
The cigarette of my wasted life
burning down burning down burning down

Memory memory memory
long long gone - gone - gone gone gone
Just a smoldering wick right now
till the LORD takes me to His mouth

The cigarette of my wasted life
burning down burning down burning down
At your lips at your pretty lips
flicked away flicked away flicked away now
burning down burning down burning down

31 August 2013

Song: Enoch

Enoch walked, we're told, with God
for 300 years
I can't walk with God
for 300 seconds

Enoch walked, we're told, with God
for 300 years
I'm always straying away
into the weeds

Take me to that place
where seek is find
Take me to that place
where knock is open wide

Take me to that place
where seek is find
where weak is strong
where you're really mine

Blues in F

17 July 2013


some of us
will leave our lanes

to cover
this fire to crush

this haughty
flame yet once

again: a furnace
that still burns

us with its
pretty look

and severed

paws pouring forth
beauty like heaped-

up coals on our
ugly heads

and haunting
our slinking off

to our
abednego beds

07 July 2013

if my heart

if my heart were a beam
in abandoned barn

and if there were a loft
with standable floor

there’d be ― trust me ― patient
bees boring perfect

holes snowing powdered
sugar on the boards


30 June 2013

Aliens Among Us

no need
to reach

some far-
flung star

to see
the sites

on venus
or mars

to un-

the mights
to dis-

the heights

to seize
the halos

of un-
manned flight

25 June 2013

we just call ’im dovie ’cause he bristles at lovie

entranced with enough
dovie’s cue ball’ll walk

duly to the new
place and the waiting

cue: already scuffed
and chaulked
and armed with powder

blue kisses

19 June 2013

Volatile Bob

My heart is
pure ― rubbing

better keep

dragging those
grounding chains

My head is

nearly two-hundred proof
better stop

playing with
those matches

My hurt is
nitro ― so

better not
bump me so

hard with that
dreamt about body body body

13 June 2013

Three Things

There are three
sleeps that can
stop our mouths
their speaking:

the Big Sleep
(which plugs all
things), the Nighty-
Night (if night-

mare free),
and the Sleep
of Kiss (which
bungs our tongues,

possums our
peepers, and
relegates our

09 June 2013

OneMan’s Pack Rat is another OldLady’s Boy Scout

Because he might need
a Black Toad bottle
cap crimped at one hun-
             dred twenty degrees,
he can’t discard it,
but keeps one of six

Maybe a lady
will seek safe passage
across frozen tun-
             dra through a hoard of
malevolent Huns
and that cap might be

the only weapon
or useful disguise
(you know, used to scratch
             or worn as a patch)
that is small enough
to smuggle or that

we’re able to hide
until we most need
it ― as I replay
             it ― at the last minute
So, I can’t blindly
just throw it away

04 June 2013

Note to Self: The Bottom

Here’s the bottom
line: is your poem

of such robust
spine and buxom

embrace of such
tonic balm such

bouquet and taste
of such sonic

boom exquisite
menu and coo

that it might coax
despairing toes

off of spotlit
ledges or bowed-

down heads away
from unlit stoves?

02 June 2013

Sermon :: Matthew 6:34

BETTER let tomorrow
let tomorrow
let tomorrow

better let it take care
let it take care
care of itself.

Listen little children ―
Would I? Would you?
Would this one here?

Would we pull the covers
of tomorrow
onto our beds?

And then the day after
that? and then next
week? and next month?

All piled up. All at once.
― Y’all go on and
talk to me now ―

As if we had ’em all.
All the linen.
All the bedclothes

of a five-star hotel.
And so piled up ―
stacked up ― ceiling-

high? Wouldn’t we smother
beneath the weight
and heat of them –

tossing ourselves into
our very own
fiery furnace.

Today is hot enough.
Heavy enough.
Trouble enough.

WE’D be pinned flat down like
a butterfly
under a stack ―

a big stack of flapjacks.
That butterfly
might melt but

it’s not getting much sleep.
Y’all hearing me?
Be still my soul?

I really don’t think so.
That’s not stillness
of our sweet souls

my brothers and sisters.
We can be still.
We can be still.

Because He wasn’t still.
Jesus came down.
All the way down.

Some of you have heard this
before. Way down.
To Mary’s womb.

Hand-him-down swaddling clothes.
Pretty flimsy.
Like the lily.

Y’all got me distracted.
So where was I?
Be still. Our souls.

We might be really still.
But really grim.
And beaten down.

Our typical tossing
and turning might
stop. That’s for sure.

BUT Jesus gives us rest.
For the weary.
But not pinned down.

My Jesus was pinned down.
So we don’t need
to be pinned down.

The biggest deed is done.
All the way done.
So we can rest.

So we can sleep under
the light light sheet
of just today ―

not that weigh-me-down shroud
of days and weeks
and months and years.

There is a seven-star
hotel. We need
to go sleep there.

And you can’t afford it.
But it’s all free.
All the way paid.

Jesus says sleep under
His cool covers –
It is finished.

His pollen soft, but warm.
Lily linen.

And ev’ry. Body. Said.
Amen. Amen.
Sister Betty,

come on up and lead us:
Come Ye Sinners,
Poor and Needy

01 June 2013

Planting Beans

propping the shovel hoe and rake
spooling out twine plunging the stakes
kneeling dimpling the harrowed plot
thumbing simple tombs in the pocks
releasing the pink dusted bombs
dozing over dirt with a palm

a display of faith this arming
counting on another rising
their pearl green necks rolling
their respective stones exploding
revealing in each yawning
seed applauding

a leaf a tongue
the dumb report

31 May 2013

Bird Man

In his younger
years, when he was
bung-full of sap,
the mere shadowing
of a swallow
jetting past
would spook his wool-
gathering gaze.

But now, the blue jay’s
jeering and juking
and the mocking
bird’s mania
and the mourning
dove’s rugged flute
are all drummed up
inside his napping.

Like funneled swifts
down deep chimneys.

29 May 2013

Nurse :: Muse

flip my pillow
over baby
           and let me feel
           your shading tree
cradle my brain-
pan with one hand
           while the other
           one does the deed

rip the bandage
from my body
           change the damage
           sop up the dream
so distract me
with your singing
           that you don’t ring
           a tear from me

grip my ankles
with your let-down
           hair and phantom
           some quickening
there remember
feathered Hermes
           was fashioned in
           the shadows of

a cripple’s dancing

Hephaestus was the Greek god of craftsmen, fire, and volcanoes. His Roman counterpart was Vulcan. In addition to making the armour of Achilles, the girdle of Aphrodite, the chariot of Helios, and the bow and arrows of Eros, he also fashioned the winged sandals (talaria) and helmet (petasos) of Hermes (Mercury). He says of himself in the Odyssey, Book VIII: “I was crippled from birth” (ἐγώ γε ἠπεδανὸς γενόμην).

25 May 2013


::h:: a place
to drape your

cape folder
of bodies
molder of

laps a place
for dandling
for dancing

lion tamer’s
prop site of
chess master’s

endless loop
the brawler’s

weapon the

throne balanced
on the ledge
of heaven

the front two
legs dangling

22 May 2013


What beakable thing
will catch the builder’s

eye? a string ― a puff
of doggy down ―

yesterday’s feather ―
All are viewed

and weighed and tested
― then taken

or rejected ―
All to sketch

a hollow place
a bird’s embrace

a cup a crèche
a pivot point for two


20 May 2013

Mister D.

always with me.

He’s there, mugging
in my mirror:

tonguing his teeth,
spritzing every

perfume. Goofing off
at the market:

sampling cheeses
and juggling fruit.

AND there he is,
near my lover’s

bed ― even when
fevered fingers

are climbing my
spine ― waving

that silly scythe,
making some nice

shadows and lights
for the seeming,

but very
little breeze.

MISTER D. is always
with me.

19 May 2013

Prayer: Confession & Adoration

When I am
weak and when

am I not

When I am
wicked and when

am I not

When I am
worried and when

am I not

You are power
pure and sure.

16 May 2013

14 May 2013

Plump Robin

           Plump Robin
o, you swag
so, when you fly

each down-beating
of your wings
up brings a crest

and then the trough
― when wings come up ―
         of waving sine

Your flight’s
a fancied garland
unwound from yonder

tree ― the galloping
pencil ― the scallops

of tremor's tinsel ―
a stretch of your E

           In a dream
― I shan’t say whose ―
upside down

someone dreamed
you flew
O, winsome swimmer

your lantern breast
bobbing ― a constant
         crest ―

           O, Plump Robin
o, how you flew

10 May 2013

Driving Around after the Reunion, with my Wife (the Former Cheerleader) Asleep in the Back Seat, Relishing my Rival’s Demise

She’s sleeping soundly
I’m driving roundly
all up and downly
our homely townly

O, there’s the store-y
where we adore-y
’way-laid her ringly
and out danced singly

And speaking of-ly
my sleeping lovely
and other way-lies
of ’waying laidly

Since Dirk was deadly
it could be saidly
she was finally minely
for all timely

07 May 2013

After the Annunciation: X Marks the Spot

SHE bit me on the arm
when I tried to hold her

AFTER she told me and
I didn’t believe her.

SHE didn’t draw blood but
the mark was there for days.

ANGRY didn’t quite
describe it – she was crazy.

SURE. I bit him. When I dashed
away, he captured

from behind – seizing my wrists –
then X-ing all four

of our arms across my breast.
So, I bit down. Hard.

Off to see Elizabeth.
HOPE it leaves a mark.

05 May 2013

Flight of Freighter Bird

           Plump Robin
o, you swag
so, when you fly

each down-beating
of your wings
up brings a crest

and then the trough
― when wings come up ―
         of waving sine

           O yes, your flight’s
a fancied garland
unwound from yonder

tree ― stretched out
but still
such rolling

as a string
of pinned-up tinsel
         penciled ’cross the scene

           In a dream
― I shan’t say whose ―
upside down

someone dreamed
you flew
O, winsome swimmer

your lantern breast
bobbing ― a constant
         crest ―

           O, Plump Robin
o, how you flew

30 April 2013

Riddle #3

I live in a black box
which opens
out and up

my harem of orange
hips out
toward you

but most all my perfume
slips up
the shoot

29 April 2013

11:21 P.M.

DEAD is no
it sounds like

keening dog
and it smells
like Lysol.

But it tastes
loosely like
late at night

in August heat
Four Roses,


28 April 2013

Woman at Window

The window opened on Paris
or Prague or some other sampled

city ― and your fingers ― well, two
of them ― outlined an O. Were you

smoking ― the glass was touch-dusty ―
or pinching some delicacy?

Perhaps you were signing “okay”?
The O fell back into shadow

then, oboe-like, returned. This time,
with its lowercase mate, glowing.

27 April 2013

Driving Across Ohio

Sometimes there is
a single tree
in the middle
of farmer’s field.
And you wonder

how it escaped
the blades of one
hundred winters.
But there it is
at plowing time

a shadeless lamp
amidst the brown
furrows — formed by
some Zen master
with his red rake

held out behind
an old tractor.
A stark living
room décor. But
summer will bring

the dainty things:
leaves for old trees
and a carpet
of Jubilee,

Jubilee is a variety of sweet, yellow corn.
See also Leviticus 25.

26 April 2013

He rode

HE rode with Custer. But wasn’t
Custer. And he rode with Sitting
Bull. But this one wasn’t Sitting
Bull, either. Just as dead. Just as
renown. This poem levels the field

of fame. Because. On this day. When
your dripping kerchiefs ― just dipped ― touched
their brows ― the nameless brave ― their dried
crud went pink with enough water.
History is [proverb goes here].

25 April 2013

April's Autumn

A false fall,
but faithful
spring’s first leaves

in reds and
yellows and

23 April 2013


WHY call this a crush? I guess it sounds quaint
enough, the puppy lovey ― moods of youth ― naïve
nothings. Nothing heavy or lasting here, so move
along. The only blood is blush: unpainted-

on. THERE are pens ― called crush-pens ― for cattle
and sheep, which narrow like a funnel:
at the business end is the branding iron,
glowing like the inside of a star ― or ―

so I suppose. For your ass ― it hisses,
coming back down, closer to home. Not to mention
the unbecoming ― though mysterious ― fit
of the crèche. But who’s to say it’s not serious.

UNABLE to breathe. Unable to move.
Ask any orange. Juiced. Isn’t that you?

21 April 2013

Talking at Tombs

IF I had such power,
I would put on a show:
hocus my pocus and focus my potions
with lots of hand motions
into that black hole

BUT the Carpenter simply cries
― for the sake of the crowd ― out loud:
Lazarus, come on out and play.
And the rest of you, strip him down
― down like Adam ― on Eve’s first day

20 April 2013


NOT even a full feather
but a tiny torn portion


from, I presume, my pillow
I blow at it ― keeping it


THE delayed response as it
shudders, gaining a little


as long as divinity
angles up from down below

TELL me true

how is this unlike my own
fleeting flight ― torn ― borne up ― blown

and then gone

finally fallen below
the backlighting of window

15 April 2013

Muscle Memory

SWEPT over
by the same
sequence of
weathers ― wind

and water ―
some connive
and thrive ― while
some of us

take the bend
to our souls
and twisted

we ― the wonders
of almost
broken down ―

13 April 2013


WHY are winter
sunsets so
much better —
stun guns of
orange sherbet?

Paper Kite (revised)

ITS tail was ripped from old bedclothes ― a train
of crude bow ties. And since it was cloud-sheering
windy, we made it royal-long ― almost convincing
each other she’d fly. The maiden flight was short ―
and bitter: the scatter-brained store-bought parts
looping in crazy eights ― flashing infinity signs.

NOW dangled upside down like the escape artist
in his sack, tangled by its tail in the still-
bare limbs of the old black elm, the distorted
diamond quivers and crackles ― there ― unreachable.

AND so we await the slow ― but certain ― secret curtain
of summer ― then all the stripping done by fall ―
to be unveiled there for the winter view ― no Houdini ―
just the spine and the spar of a balsam cross.

10 April 2013


For sale. Vintage taboo.
Rarely used. Call after
7 p.m. Ask for Jimbo.
Make an offer.

09 April 2013

How I Won the Chief’s Daughter

pony stolen
spring pursued
summer barren
fall renewed

winter retaken
blizzard returned
parents awakened
fingertips burned

lighting calumet
daughter’s laughter
dark-eyed amulet
ever’s after

06 April 2013

The Breakup

your thoughts all
jumbly your heart all
tumbly your words all
mumbly your tummy
all rumbly your eyes
all smudgy your lips
all tragedy

05 April 2013


This time,
why don’t you draw
off my

grief while
I slip off some

way and
hide out in, say,

This time,
stay on the run
out in

the open —
don’t get caught,
but don’t

try so
bloody hard
to get away.

02 April 2013

The Thought

As soon as
he thought the thought he thought:
What a strange and dangerous thought I’ve thought.

What if he could wrap it all up
after lunch? Wouldn't that be wonderful?
wicked? both at once?

All the sufferings bunched... in one bouquet...
Whadya say? It certainly comports
with a common view of the world.

The one that says, Eat your peas
and your bitter herbs first.
And we've all restrung pearls
or charms at least once before,

so why can’t a man do the darkest parts
of his dying first, right up to the cusp,
right now ― right after lunch?

Let’s have it out now:
the bloody moon and the jumping cow
the boos and the hoos and the blues

and the golds. The whites and the reds
of that nighty-night angel wrestling
toe-to-toe with the Breton maids

watching ― Are they
praying? ― with the milk on their heads
and then just go on

with the rest of the day:
the doctors, the nurses,
the man with the puppets ―

the pills after supper
from those pretty paper couplets.
And then finally

just the firelight
of the constant t.v.
with maybe 30 seconds or so

from Victoria’s Secret to close
out the evening, to round
off the scene.

Paul Gauguin: Vision after the Sermon (1888)

01 April 2013

Paper Kite

Tangled by its tail in the still-bare limbs
of that old black elm, twirling and crackling
there, in a hard March wind, dangling upside
down like the escape artist in his white sack.

The tail twisted up like a rung-out shirt,
with that ― you know ― second level of twist,
suggesting a spiral staircase. And when
the wind calms down, it unwinds for a bit ―
and reposes a nervous chrysalis ―
before rewinding ― yet again.

The leaves of spring and summer will cover
its stripping ― all its paper gone by fall ―
and so there leaving for the winter view:
the spine and the spar of a balsam cross.

31 March 2013

Palm Someday

More miracle than the camel
through the needle’s eye,
someday i

will be tugged through the arrow loop
in my saviour’s palm,
coolly calm,

a hanky the size of a shroud
from the third magi's

black box.

Image credit:
Blue Ball, Pennsylvania (vicinity). Mennonite funeral. 1942.
U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

29 March 2013

Something, Son

To stand before that Pilate man
To stand and speak
with my heart

in my hand ―
To beg the body,
the broken body,

the body of the carpenter's son ―
Now that would be
that would be something

to beg the body of God ―
That would be something, that would be

something, son

Detail from Il trasporto di Cristo al sepolcro
by Antonio Ciseri (1821-1891)

27 March 2013

Role Playing

You do have to
wonder ― don’t you ―

whether dolphin
endorphins surge

whenever one
pod intersects

another ― Do
they sigh inside,

in delphic-speak
:(after spying

that special one):
what. a. god. ― Do

they double back
with a double-

take ― reversing
their coursing ― Or

do they swim on,
remorsing and

rehearsing their
almost reversing

25 March 2013

Power Outage

The sleet had brought down the
limbs which had brought down the
wires which had brought out the
big utility trucks

Stacked neatly now, the limbs
on the ground ― all their sawn-ends
on one end ― all their swab-tips
on the other:

Silver with impending
Spring, mossy-soft antler nubs ―
Spongy, fuzzy, undone
buds ― icy glazing gone

The deep ruts left by the
heavy trucks, they shimmer
with windy pools of water:
blue-eyed with clearing sky

24 March 2013

Dyin' to Ride

Pats him on the head and says, I’m ready to ride
Leans into his mane and says, I’m ready to ride
He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, ready to ride

He says, My little one - don’t be afraid
The crowd may be loud - don’t be afraid
Just step light, lightly, proud - don’t be afraid

He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, ready to ride
No shoes, no saddle, no bit, no bridle
No bit, no bridle, no shoes, no saddle
He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, dyin’ to ride

How’s He gonna ride with cloaks and branches in the way?
How’s He gonna stay on down Mount Olive Way?
’Cause He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, come see Him today

Pats him on the head and says, You’re doing fine
Leans into his mane and whispers, Mighty fine
You’re the World’s Bestest Bambino, you’re doing fine

He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, ready to ride
No shoes, no saddle, no bit, no bridle
No bit, no bridle, no shoes, no saddle
He’s the World’s Greatest Cowboy, ridin’ to die

create a gif

Image credits:
Undated Postcard from the collection of Brett Payne
Yelena Cherkasova, The Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem 1 & 2
Roy Rogers and Trigger, photo from Life magazine
Hippolyte Flandrin, Christ's Entrance into Jerusalem

23 March 2013

How this poem ends

Maybe with something pithy
or witty (they’re not the same)

Or, something coolly ironic ―
a twist, a pun, some Famous Name

Perchance, some learnèd allusion
containing a multitude

of meanings. Or just a safe & simple
platitude ― on loving and/or grieving

Could be something s)edgy or (exy
or shocking ― if (at all) possible ―

But there’s nothing new sub-sun
so that may present a problem

and even look a little desperate,
or just plain ol’ ill-informed

So how will it ― should it ― end, this poem?
Maybe in the beginning, where the stars were born

22 March 2013

Rock Paper Scissors

Moon in the morning:
aspirin in the clouds ― both
swallowed by the sun.

19 March 2013

Like Bluebirds in

We fled the City – but we’re still Scared
of our old Neighborhood
my Mother prays a lot – out Loud –
I’ve got my own Bedroom

My Brother looks – a lot like me –
my Sister – not so Much
my Father? Oh – I can’t recall –
his Life – a loaded Gun

The light Rail – yes – it cuts both Ways –
the Planners sold but One:
the Banker to his Office – not
my old Gang to our front Door

Like Bluebirds – in – an old Cartoon
who’re hanging out – the Wash –
we pinch the Sheet – at each Corner
and – we cover – up – my Face

16 March 2013

Honour Guard

The young bugler stood
on a hill in the snow and
played Taps for my friend.

He wore white gloves and
a black beret — and melted
away at the end.

15 March 2013

Sense and Marcescence

Among the last of the last
Leaves to leave — like a Guest
passed out on the Couch —
they scratch along the Sidewalk
where there is no Itch.

And the very last of the last
Leaves — those still clinging —
having clung all Winterlong —
they will walk the Plank beneath the Prod,
the budding Rod of Spring.

14 March 2013

Aesthetic Theory

So. Shall we talk about the bodies? Those
lying supine in stubbled fields, their toes
all pointing toward the same decalogue of stars,
forever uninterred in the art
of their brethren with the most vivid memories.

Or, perhaps, the old man crucifixed and steeping
in his own urine, on permanent display,
shivering in the hallway — unchanged, unremembered.

Or, maybe, the Ukrainian runaways baring
their pixelated breasts over the internet,
promising something hotter with an email address.

So. Shall we talk? Or, had we rather not —
speak of the long dead, the dying, the desperate?
Heart to heart. Tête-à-tête. Herod to Herod.


Noch das äußerste Bewußtsein vom Verhängnis
droht zum Geschwätz zu entarten.
Even the most extreme consciousness of doom
threatens to degenerate into idle chatter.

Ich starb für Schönheit - aber war Kaum
I died for Beauty - but was Scarce

Ethik und Ästhetik sind Eins.
Ethics and Aesthetics are one.

...nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch...
...to scribble a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric...

13 March 2013

A Sonnet: By Heart

I watch too many movies. Seriously. After
awhile they begin to run together like those
finger paintings of that kid — you remember —
who tried to use all the colours and whose roses
always turned to muddle puddles. Dangerous?
Not really. They make no demands — and the death
distraction? That is short-lived, along with
the thrill of bare skin stroked by cameras.

But a poem. Is always dangerous. By heart,
it’s poised complete, the thing itself, with all its parts.
Undiminished. At your fingers. Both comb
& geisha, mirror & vase, fuse & bomb.
And you can rewind them at any time:
to where a kiss got out of hand is still a sigh.

12 March 2013

Lullaby: Little Puppy

Now you my little puppy.
Pat your head.
O, that feel good don't it.
Are you my little puppy?
My little puppy in the cave?

We keep warm in the cave.
You keep me.
Me keep you.
We find food I promise.
We find us some food at first light.

Are you my little puppy?
They be food after breakfast.
Just watch out for the cars.
O, rub your belly. You like that.
And your ears.

We got to beat the gulls though.
The gulls can dive bomb.
Don’t be afraid.
You my little puppy.
You will bark at the greedy gulls.

No bark now though.
We go to sleep. We got new candle.
You my little puppy.
My little puppy in the cave.
We go to sleep till morning.

11 March 2013

Construction Site: Grey on Grey

The I-beams are grey
because they're painted.
The trees are grey
because they're not.

My hair is turning
more greyly daily.
The sky is grey
until tonight.

10 March 2013

So) why am I

surprised at sufferings —
at either yours or mine?

Since) they are my closest teachers toward
the faintest understanding or

the most distant standing
under of

the long shadows of the valley
of the carpenter’s cross.

08 March 2013

Variations on a Theme

do the leaves
cling to the trees
do the trees
cling to the leaves

and then
there are, of course,
the third and then the fourth
new tunes borne from
this theme:

the clinging leaves
to the wind
to the leaves
the clinging wind

07 March 2013

Daughters 1

on the last
half mile home
the older
does (meaning
two or at most

three years
old) clump with
their young ones
just above
the gully

waiting for
me to pass
their white tails
torched up with
warning their

young ones
half behind
all their lights
now suddenly

flooded with
their borrowing
like the moon
from the sun's
high beams

02 March 2013

Emergency Room

once the laser
bracelet goes on

you're in a whole
other world one

where nurses float
in a whirlwind

and every needle
stings just a little

28 February 2013

Winter’s End

the perfect corner
of her arm her hair piled up
and spilling over

sleeping soundly as
an unclaimed scarf unraveling
in the lost and found

27 February 2013

Genius Asleep on the School Bus

the greening of
the purple of

the nerving of
the rustle of

the reading of
the riding of
and with my wick

at neither end
the drowning of
the burning of

the cheering of
the people of

the curving of
the castle of

24 February 2013

Horse from Speeding Car

going too fast
caramel horse

you’re already
past there’s no chance

but even so
you take the shot

hold camera
over shoulder

squeeze and release
the shutter’s eye

you had to try
since the mare was

the colour of
your mother’s fudge

21 February 2013

Writing : : Driving

I wrote today
while driving in
my mother tongue
the perfect poem

O no, no stars
nor sickness kiss
no lover’s scars
nor storm and then

I pulled over
and stopped to start
jotting it all
do wndo wndo wndo wn

On the foggy
windows thankful
for and banking
on the paraffin

In my breathing

20 February 2013

Psych Eval

       this much madness
       is just enough
       can't imagine
       my baring more

19 February 2013

Startled from a Nap

half asleep with my
fingers laced on my
chest no longer 10
digits but grapefruit
half or starling nest

the hammer voice in
the hall my heart sprays
up like the jumping
puck in the strong man
game ringing my brain

18 February 2013


My neighbor has one
arm. He balances the large
pepperoni on

his shoulder, grips it
with his chin, unlocks the door,
and lets himself in.

His placid face in
profile — the box his red, white,
and green violin.

17 February 2013


in those
old books
where you
might find

that quaint
long “s”
which is
an “f”

half crossed
my soul
is ſoul
and modern

fonts can’t
wash it
near clean


Image contains words from George Herbert, John Milton, and William Shakespeare.

13 February 2013

Classroom Calendar : : A Birthday Sonnet

My birthday was always tucked in between
Abraham Lincoln’s and Valentine’s Day,
the black top hat and the red and the pink
hearts safe-scissored from construction paper.

The giant stovepipe was always tilted
toward the future, a cannon bombarding
the 14th (unless it fell on Sunday
or Monday) with buxom butterfly hearts,
which were pinned down along their symmetry
creases with palm-punched staples glimmering.

And so sheltered between Abe’s Good Friday
and Sweetheart’s Easter my initials are
penciled. In arbor shade where violets bloom
and children wonder, “What's B.R. stand for?”

12 February 2013

The Sleep of Sorrow, or, Forget Me Not

i am asleep
in the garden
not of eden
but of earthly

surging sorrows
waiting over
all banter done
the body gone

the young doctors
till tomorrow

08 February 2013

Things to Do: at, on, or about my Deathbed, which may or may not be at a Hospital or similar Institution, so some of this may not literally apply. Please extrapolate as needed.

Read the Psalms.
Out loud.
Start at 1 and we'll see how far we get before I'm done.

Play poker.
On my chest, belly, lap, and legs.
Seven-card variants would be best.
Want to feel the cards and the money on my body.
Coins would be best – and heavy slate chips, next best.
No, don't use the lunch tray-table-thingy.
The stupid Romans ran a casino at the foot of the cross,
you'll figure something out. Stop complaining.
If I'm willing to be the table - just play.
And play for really high stakes.
Something worthy of the occasion.

Talk to me.
I can probably hear you.
Just watch the heart monitor. The number
will go up when you say something sweet or
something jarring– it’ll be up to you to know the difference.

Let the kids play.
With the bed controls. What difference does it make at this stage?
And it’s a good skill to learn: you press a button
and something moves.
Or it doesn’t.

Don't stay here all night.
Just play Alexander Scourby reading the Bible.

Sweet tea.
Need I say more? With real sugar.
Maybe use one of those little pink sponges and daub
it on my lips. The rest of you, though, please
drink it from glass glasses - so I can hear the ice ring
against the glass glasses.

Bring in food.
Don’t ask permission. I probably can’t eat it,
but you can. Collards, black-eyed peas, cornbread,
macaroni and cheese. Banana pudding.
You get the idea.

Touch me.
Preferably where there’s not a needle or a bruise
or a broken bone.

Nice perfume.
Ask the nurses to wear some really good perfume/cologne.
Buy them some if you need to. There's some/enough cash stashed
inside my guitar for this very purpose.

Read the Psalms.
Out loud. Up through 24 would be good.

When it’s all done, leave expensive parting gifts for the nurses
(by the way, the perfume doesn’t count toward this).
There’s always some body to follow.

04 February 2013

Me & Millstones

Overnight it snowed
the lightest and the most
finely ground cornmeal

I’ve ever seen in my
dazzlingly wicked
life — a manna-scented

calling card, née
banana peel.

02 February 2013

Winter Drive

We’re both weary of winter, with
its incessant thieving of heat,

when auto is warmer than house.
So when in the distance we see

— we seize it to our breasts, like a guest
at a wedding, before it’s tossed —

a bouquet visible for twenty
miles, remnant snow on the foothills.

30 January 2013

Kiss My Brain : : Besar Mi Cerebro

it’s much safer than catching
a train in the big City

so, kiss my brain
but do it slant

by indirection
it’s just less messy

say, like the convict’s wife
through the bullet-proof glass

so, when you kiss my brain
just do it by proxy

use a surrogate or
other gate of your choice

for instance. the eyelids
are a nice place to start

since they’re the lids
to my brain-jar

and then, of course,
an earlobe would do

for a frontal
lobe smooch or two

and, if you’d ask,
I’d tell you that

my favourite gate
for kissing a brain,

mine or yours or
any other,

is the nape, la nuque,
la nuca, der Nacken

but, finally, fully
circle me (dizzy me)

until you reach
a sacred temple

and so, from there,
twirling my hair,

kiss me again
and enter in

that's our train and I'm
too woozy to stand

27 January 2013

Two Poems, or One

Animal and man
Beast and beast alike
Creatures of that carpenter’s
Dogged desire

Every day we train
For those inglorious games
Games of letting go

25 January 2013

Silken Webs

at the spider hour,
that is, dawn,
when the dew is there
to draw your gaze

when the droplets are
sown as flood-
lights for the finding
of the finest art

while wan detectives
dust for prints
hoping for a hit
against the past

the paper boy is
out and the
bread man is out
but not the milk

21 January 2013

The Ocean

The ocean is
a restless queen
a troubled queen
in silver gown
slow pacing in

her frazzled gown
both in and out
and up and down
the pardon done
then blotted out.


The ocean is a restless queen,
a troubled queen in silver gown,
slow pacing in her frazzled gown,
both in and out and up and down,
the pardon done, then blotted out.

19 January 2013

Window on Paris

I will never see
Paris since I’m terrified
of both flying and

drowning. But I will
fix your drapes — just so — and pitch
the Eiffel Tower.

18 January 2013

Shiloh, April 1862

Dear Mary,
The dead were covered with peach
petals shaken down by the great
guns and I remembered your scarf,
the one you called a clothified
cloud. Tomorrow will be better
everybody says. Next week is Palm
Sunday. Remember me to your Pa.
Paper is scarce. Your loving husband.

16 January 2013

Last Man on a Long Hall

Since my voice is
not your voice and your voice is
dialed way down, other

voices they'll just
have to do. After supper,
they line us up down

the hall like two
batteries of siege mortars
faced off against one

another. Our
wheelchairs locked in place, we wait
while they go bleeding

from room to room
turning down our cool covers,
creating perfect

little people-
sized pocket protectors. Then
they start at one end

or the other
(tonight I get to go last),
our dreams in plastic

cups. Some ask, "Had
enough?" meaning the water.
My aide's from Haiti,

almost as frail
as I am. “Ready for bed?”
she whispers. And though

her voice is not
your voice and it's really not
a question, I bow.

12 January 2013

You Are Here

O, but everything does
revolve around you.

Both the nothing that was
and the something to come.

And every whispered ounce
of this very noisy now.

And that is the horror —
is it not — not the stillness of

Radio silence, but
the dancing round your door.

11 January 2013

The Black Mirror

It’s raining.
Evening. The
parking lot

is slick. The
streetlight makes
a moon. The

raindrops make
their stars. The
last trick is

simply this:
where you are.

07 January 2013

The Cough II

A great rotunda. Bitter cold.
Then one drop — dangling —
an out-of-place pearl. You don’t want it

to drop. You want it
to drop. You don’t want it
to drop.

But it does.
And when the ripples run
to the edges of the circular pool,

that’s when all the tickling
icicles fall. And shatter.
And stab.

And then.
And then they rise up again —
the hollow pipettes

like the bones
of hummingbird
figurines —

reforming the cage
of icy

05 January 2013


A cowboy thrown off
and then his ribs (all
of them) run over
by a bucking bronc-
O, at least a small

04 January 2013

03 January 2013


Third night of new year —
old snow left over from last
week. Fever and chills.

02 January 2013

When at last we fall

When at last we fall
asleep — that nightly Easter
teaser begins to

loop inside our heads.
By dawn, the bedclothes thrown off,
pillows rolled away.

01 January 2013

There is a painting

~ A three-layer haiku
for the New Year ~

There is a painting
“Snow Falling on Burning Torch” —
an old man walking

in the background through
the cherry orchard and his
tracks are grey, then black.

He has a red hat.
It hasn’t been painted yet —
but you could do it.