Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Send Away

Her name was Arcadia Bibiana Kitchen
and her red hair came from Appalachia
along with her freckles and thin skin,
while her attitude migrated with her mother
from south of the southernmost border.

When Mama couldn’t hear,
Daddy called her Archie.

“Listen to me, mijita.
There are two things
you never tolerate from a man.

One, you never let him hit you
twice. A single bruise
is a forgivable sin – send him
to confession. If he ever makes
a second, you handle his temper
with a machete.

Second, never let him leave you.
Oh, you can send a pendejo away
anytime you want, no problem;
but, a real woman knows how
to keep her amorcito.”

He’s heading toward the door!
Think, Archie, think.
Block the doorway.
Do not let him leave.
Stand your ground.
Oh, no. You’d better not
use that fist again, baby.
Stare him down, Archie.
Remind him what he has to lose.
Relax, baby. That’s right.
Let me kiss that mark off your cheek.
Don’ t ever make me send you away.

“I’m so sorry, carinito.”

“Damnit, Archie, stop that crying.
You’re going to scare him off.
We’ve talked about this.
Wipe your eyes.

Raise the gun.
Don’t go giving yourself away.
Steady. Breathe.
Take good aim.
Start to squeeze.
Send away."

Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As the end of her life neared,
dreary persistence disguised
all she had once been, save her
grace, unmistakable
in the elegant extension
of her hand as it reached for his.

The Summerset Review - Winter 2012
Reprinted in The Houseboat (Featured poet No. 3).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On the Table

The girl of my dreams
Is a very stark reality -
Stark as in bare,
Bare as in naked,
Naked as in nothing between us,
Everything laid out on the table.

I hope the table can take it.

Other Rooms Press - Fall/Winter 2011
Reprinted in The Houseboat (Featured poet No. 3).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What We Know

The seventeen years between us,
that we have not let come between us,
mean I am going to die first.

I will abandon you, cheat you
of the groaning laughter in mutual aches,
the wrinkled telepathy
forged through a many-decades tangle
of conflict and conversation.

Whether the years after my death click away
like the tumble of falling dominoes
or crumble with a slow dignity
like the white ruins of ancient grace,
we know you will be left alone.

In the children of our children,
that you will know so much better than I –
if I get to know them at all –
I hope you will see a little of me

in their devotion to soft walks
on cold evenings in the valley,
holding your hand and enjoying the lingering
of their gray breath as it slides into twilight.

If they laugh too easily and too loudly,
let your head wag behind your smirk
as you cradle yourself in their roar –
the way you do now, whenever I bellow
in amused appreciation of this or that little thing.

Take them to Waterloo Park each summer
and help them find flat stones
for skipping across the shallow Santiam.
Splash with them ankle deep the way we did
right before we kissed for the very first time.

Pack them into the car and race the sunset
so they will know what we have come to know –
the sun descends behind Mary’s Peak each night
and, sometimes, sprays red across the sky.

Toe Good Poetry - November 3, 2011
Reprinted in The Houseboat (Featured poet No. 3).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Death by Chrysalis

Not everything that dies becomes a moldering rot
like the sticky black ooze of the weeds of ancient seas.

Take that wooly mammoth, for instance, found in a block
of ice on the edge of the middle of some frozen nowhere,
flowers half-chewed in its mouth. What luck to be unlucky
in such a way – in a cold flash just after a little dinner-salad –
so that, all these centuries later, heads wag in disbelief
and grunt smirks at the shaggy once was of him.

And what of the death by chrysalis of the caterpillar –
a voracious, needy, earthy thing that dies from cramp
and forced revision only to be resurrected with two thin
surprises connected lightly to the same center of it all?

First appeared in Pirene's Fountain - Fall/Winter 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Haiku #27

called octogenarian
a whippersnapper.

First appeared in a handful of stones - October 28, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blogger Chick

Her words slide
                 across the page
                                 like a lap dance
                      and grind against
     the very base of you.
She writes
       like a runaway
                without options;
                            uses what God gave
             and what men take.
She digs on the sweat
                        and the panting
                                    and the smoke
                                                and the rush of blood
                                                                       to the head
                                                      from the whiskey
                         she pours down your throat,
         and you open wide.
She knows
        she's an addiction
                            and winks
                                   at the weakness
                                                        of you,
                             reduces you to words
                 you read over
  and over again.

Burning Word - October 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Haiku #23

When the fence blew down,
the neighbor-lady and I
flirted it back up.

First appeared in a handful of stones - September 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Haiku #15

In only one week
fragrant and full blooms become
brown-fringed and wrinkly.

First appeared in a handful of stones - August 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mid-Valley Winter

Scraping windshields in the morning, 
watching the frigid Santiam pour 
itself into the northbound Willamette, 
and worrying about flood stages. 

Counting the days between sun breaks 
and moments of seeing all things clearly 
through freshly scrubbed air – 
Cascades glittering in the daylight, 
every star known to man at night.

The ground turning white every one of four years,
tow-trucks and drippy snow-men appearing
along with no school - lasting for a day or two,
a week at most, until the familiar gray wash returns,
sweeping away the slush. Children returning to class
with brags of height and speed and very close calls.

Sitting by windows pretending you want the gray to go away
so you can begin to enjoy all of the complaining
about the heat of spring and the swelter of summer.
Reading, thinking you should write a memoir, coffee,
closing your eyes and remembering all of the green.

First appeared in Poetry Quarterly - Fall 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

After Work

I walk into the eager of your arms,
lean heavy upon your bounce,
rest in the calm of your neck,
breathe you all the way in.

I cradle the fair of your face, 
search for the tender blue of you,
delight in the delicate nest of you,
rise to the joy and soul of you.

Suspended in the mercy of your smile,
I wrap my hands around the slender of your waist,
reign all of your fullness into all of my fullness,
kiss all of your kisses, taste all of your missing me.

Poetry Quarterly - Summer 2011

Valley of Soft Things

We used to picnic there,
in the bloom of our youth,
and dream right out loud
of a valley of soft things.

In those days we sat sidled
on the hard stony bench
looking together ahead –
we used to picnic there.

All we had, then, was ahead
and together and dreams so loud
we had to whisper their names,
in the bloom of our youth.

Sometimes, aheads turn misty,
burn away in the hot of afternoons;
sometimes, softs turn hard
and dreams get so loud.

We used to picnic there
on that cold stone bench
and whisper the dearest names
for our valley of soft things.

Words & Pictures anthology that the LBCC poetry club participated in - April 2011

High School Sweethearts

That was a nasty little smirk
You failed to suppress
When you caught me
Bragging about my
Younger days.

The minimal poetry blog a handful of stones

Friday, June 17, 2011

Middle School Sway

We dance
a very adult
middle school sway
in the shower, gently
rocking this way then that
way, body pressed firmly into
body, eagerly kissing, eagerly caressing,
determined to make urgent use of this most
unexpected opportunity for steam and sweat,
chance for primal reminder of our love that made our

First appeared in the Gold Man Review - 2012